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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Picky eating is unhealthy, a big win for organic meat, and why you should eat more collagen

by | Feb 19, 2016
For the Love of Food

For the Love of Food

Welcome to Friday’s For The Love of Food, Summer Tomato’s weekly link roundup. 

This week picky eating is unhealthy, a big win for organic meat, and why you should eat more collagen.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered to read at 300+ wpm. So neat!

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Read the rest of this story »

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Taste Psychology: Learning To Love Foods You Don’t Like

by | Sep 10, 2012
Roasted Beets With Fresh Mint and Chevre (click for recipe)

Roasted Beets With Fresh Mint and Chevre (click for recipe)

Chances are there are foods you love now that you hated as a kid. But how many foods do you still avoid just because you think you don’t like them?

Young palates struggle with things like mustard, onions and asparagus, and instead prefer more bland, less intense flavors. But as adults we sometimes cling to these preferences without ever stopping to question the value or meaning of our opinions.

But in reality, what joy is there in being a picky eater?

While it’s true that taste is subjective, I’ve never heard a convincing argument that it’s better to dislike a food than to like one. It is certainly more fun to like things, and it is often far more convenient. Just try getting a serious chef to make a signature dish without onions. It isn’t easy.

But is it possible to learn to like a food if you don’t like the taste?

It turns out that most of the time we decide what we like before we bother to experience it, and this prejudice clouds our perception of what we actually encounter. This effect of perception bias has been demonstrated repeatedly in psychology experiments where food color and taste have been manipulated. To see this for yourself, use food coloring to alter the appearance of several bowls of lemon Jell-O and have your friends guess what flavors they are tasting. Very few will say they taste lemon unless the color is still yellow.

The psychology of taste is further complicated by our natural aversion to things that are new or different from what we are expecting. Foods with unique textures such as mushrooms and okra often fall victim to this bias. In these cases the unfamiliarity and strangeness of the texture makes us slightly uncomfortable, and we interpret this feeling as a personal dislike. However, this reaction reflects the food’s uniqueness rather than its true character.

Our tendency to dislike and often hate things that extend beyond our perceptual comfort zones is explored in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. He argues that we make snap judgments about everything we encounter based on prior experience. And while this ability can sometimes help us make wise decisions, it can also explain why pilot testing can’t predict the success of new concept T.V. shows like Seinfeld.

In other words, sometimes our first impressions are wrong.

Knowing about this bias can help you overcome aversions to foods you think you don’t like, and even learn to love them. The first step is deciding that there is value in enjoying a food you currently do not enjoy. I’m not saying you should develop an appreciation for frozen pasta, but most fresh, natural whole foods are worth rediscovering for both taste and culture.

The second step is dedicating yourself to keep trying the rejected food until you find it prepared in a way you like. This is not as bad as it sounds, since there is a good chance that the reason you do not like a food in the first place is because what you were served as a child was either canned, frozen or of industrial (low) quality. Since peaches and plums taste completely different when you get them at the farmers market, doesn’t it stand to reason that the same is true for green beans, broccoli and beets? Also, with each venture your taste will become more acclimated to the flavor and your aversion will dissipate.

Fine dining represents another great opportunity to explore foods you haven’t enjoyed in the past. I was finally won over on brussels sprouts after a spectacular meal in San Francisco, and now consider them one of my favorite autumn ingredients.

Even if a certain food doesn’t end up on your favorites list, learning to at least enjoy it in a casual way will enrich your life and help you develop an appreciation for new and unique experiences. The Chinese culture pays particular reverence to textures in food, and this attitude allows them to enjoy a far more diverse and interesting range of ingredients than any Western culture.

The key word here is “enjoy.” Eating vegetables is undeniably healthy, but the best reason to eat broccoli is that you absolutely love it.

What foods do you hate? Are you ready to get over it?

Originally published October 5, 2009.

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Farmers Market Update: Peas and Carrots

by | Apr 10, 2011
Beautiful Carrots

Beautiful Carrots

If you ever wondered why Forrest Gump thought peas and carrots went so well together, it must have been because he loves springtime.

Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar Snap Peas

The reason we think most foods go together, in fact, is because they tend to be in season around the same time and traditional recipes put them together.

Cute Asparagus

Cute Asparagus

But it turns out lot of things go well with carrots. Their sweetness and crunch is a wonderful contrast to many of my favorite spring treats, like spinach, asparagus and collards.

Collards, Potatoes & Asparagus

Collards, Potatoes & Asparagus

As I mentioned last week, chard is fantastic right now as well. These red and white Swiss chard bunches were so bright I actually had to turn down the saturation in Photoshop, which most photogs know is almost never done on food photos. The pink was just blinding.

Beautiful Chard

Beautiful Chard

It’s also a great time to get beets, fennel, lettuces, artichokes, herbs and other vegetables.

Red Beets

Red Beets

Hearts of Romaine

Hearts of Romaine

Spring Artichokes

Spring Artichokes

Not always associated with spring, but a seasonal treat nonetheless are fresh walnuts and mushrooms.

Walnuts In Shell

Walnuts In Shell

Trumpet Mushrooms

Trumpet Mushrooms

I’m still waiting for the spring fruits to appear. Though a few strawberries have popped up here and there, they haven’t looked good enough to buy yet. So while I’m waiting, we’re still eating up the delicious oranges, mandarins, pomelo and tangelos while we can.

Golden Nuggets

Golden Nuggets

Finally, if you’re into lilacs (the best smelling flowers ever), this is the most lovely season I’ve seen in years.

Lilacs

Lilacs

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Is It Spring Already?

by | Jan 16, 2011
Pomelo

Pomelo

Residents of San Francisco woke up Saturday morning to a veritable spring day. The the sun was shining, the sky was clear and maybe, just for a moment, you could walk outside without a jacket.

It was great to see the farmers market bustling for the first time since the holidays. Crowds were not only drawn by the weather, but also by the Good Food Awards that were being held this weekend at the Ferry Building. The GFA “grant awards to outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients.” Here are the winners.

Spring Onions

Spring Onions

Good Food Awards

Good Food Awards

Spring wasn’t only in the air, it was also peeking out from some of the farm stands. I caught my first glimpse this week of spring onions. It isn’t much, but is a sign of what’s to come.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Winter citrus is just now ramping up. Blood oranges and satsumas are my favorite now, but I’ll be hitting the pomelo scene next week for sure.

Satsumas

Satsumas

Orange Slices

Orange Slices

I’ve also been really impressed with the carrots lately, I’m really starting to appreciate how many varietals there are. Little ones, big ones, purple ones, white ones, orange ones. All very tasty.

Baby Beets

Baby Beets

Carrot Bouquet

Carrot Bouquet

Of course, root vegetables in general are excellent now, very colorful and sweeter than they are most of the year. Like carrots, the variety of turnips is impressive.

Scarlet Turnips

Scarlet Turnips

Large Turnips

Large Turnips

Lastly, don’t forget your winter greens and herbs. Kale, chard and especially cabbage are as good now as they will be all year.

Winter Herbs

Winter Herbs

Cabbage

Cabbage

I didn’t buy much today since I left straight from the farmers market to Lake Tahoe. I just stopped by for the beautiful pictures.

What did you find at the market this week?

If you’d like to share your farmers market experience at Summer Tomato, please read this.

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French Green Lentils Roasted With Carrots And Beets

by | Oct 4, 2010
Roasted French Lentils

Roasted French Lentils

I’m really excited about this recipe for a few reasons. First, it looks super easy, healthy and delicious. Anything that hits in those 3 departments is a winner in my book. Second, while beets and carrots are awesome this time of year, they are pretty easy to find year round, making this a recipe you can go to anytime you need something easy, healthy and delicious. Win – Win.

French green lentils aren’t always easy to find, but you can order them online at Zursun, a great source for getting heirloom beans and lentils.

Huge thanks to Allison Boomer for the recipe. Allison is an artisanal food expert, marketing professional, writer and nutritionist. She partners with people and businesses who share a passion for handcrafted food. She’d love to connect with you on Facebook.

French Green Lentils Roasted With Carrots And Beets

by Allison Boomer

Robust, earthy flavor and beautiful deep fall green color make French green lentils – also known as Lentilles du Puy – one of the world’s finest legumes.

In this recipe lentils are oven roasted with caramelized carrots, beets, shallots and savory thyme. Finished with a splash of red wine vinegar and fresh parsley, the easy-to-prepare dish (no pot watching on the stove) is satisfying on its own or as a side dish.

  • 1½ cup French green lentils
  • 3 small beets, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

Sort and rinse lentils in cool water. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beets, carrots, shallots and 3 tbsp. olive oil in a medium-size roasting pan. Coat vegetables evenly with oil. Add thyme, salt and pepper and cook in oven until vegetables begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Add lentils, 3 cups of water, stir, then cover pan with foil. Cook until lentils are tender and all water is absorbed, about one hour. Remove pan from oven, remove thyme spring and dress lentils with vinegar and remaining oil. Cool slightly and stir in chopped parsley. Adjust salt and pepper and serve.

Have you tried roasting lentils?

You may also enjoy How (And Why) To Cook And Freeze Large Batches Of Lentils

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Farmers Market Update: iPhone 4 FTW!

by | Aug 15, 2010
Summer Squash

Summer Squash

It was a beautiful day today in San Francisco. I’m feeling much better and was super excited to hit up the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and snap some photos.

Apparently though, I’m still not quite in top form. When I tried to take a picture of these beautiful grapes, my camera smugly informed me that it did not contain its memory card. PhotoFAIL. Luckily, I had my trusty iPhone 4.

Lovely Grapes

Lovely Grapes

I was curious how the new iPhone would perform at the farmers market, and today it had it’s chance to prove itself. I still think I prefer my regular Canon SD900, but overall I was pretty impressed with my pocket phone. What do you think?

Not too much has changed at the market from last week. The late summer produce is beautiful, especially the eggplants, peppers, peaches and plums.

French Prunes

French Prunes

Rosa Bianca Eggplants

Rosa Bianca Eggplants

The beets have been marvelous (and impressive!), as are the summer squash.

Magda Cousa Squash

Magda Cousa Squash

Impressive Beetroot

Impressive Beetroot

I’m happy to see green bean season is starting to take off. We are experimenting with pickling some beans this weekend. Recipe on its way.

Pickled Blue Lake Beans

Pickled Blue Lake Beans

Don’t forget the greens and onions either, they are all amazing this time of year.

Spanish Onions

Spanish Onions

Escarole

Escarole

Fresh chamomile was nice to find today as well.

Seedless Grapes

Seedless Grapes

Chamomile

Chamomile

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: A Midsummer Day’s Dream

by | Jul 25, 2010
Star Squash

Star Squash

“And, most dear actors, eat no onions or garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath; and I do not doubt but to hear them say, it is a sweet comedy.”

– A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act 4, Scene 2), William Shakespeare

It is hard to imagine having anything but sweet breath after leaving the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market this weekend. I must have tried at least a dozen different varieties of pluots, and at least as many peaches and nectarines (my favorite this week).

Organic Yellow Peaches

Organic Yellow Peaches

Nectarines

Nectarines

There were strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. Apricots and figs. Melons and tomatoes. All sweet as can be.

Organic Raspberries

Organic Raspberries

Even the greens looked tender and sweet. I couldn’t help but get some of this red kale from Green Gulch Farm. There is something amazing about fresh picked greens grown with care. They look so soft, yet crisp and nutritious.

Beautiful Collards

Beautiful Collards

Red Kale

Red Kale

I would have bought some of the beautiful collards as well if I had been able to resist the beautiful chioggia beets, whose greens came attached for free (here’s my favorite beet recipe). I also grabbed one of their tea bouquets. Yes, we have some seriously sweet breath up in here.

Fresh Tea Bouquet

Fresh Tea Bouquet

Chioggia Beets

Chioggia Beets

I’m very excited to see that midsummer is in full swing and the eggplants are finally worth noticing. And being the chiliphile that I am, I was delighted to find that the peppers are starting to heat up.

Green Hot Chili Peppers

Green Hot Chili Peppers

Rosa Bianca Eggplants

Rosa Bianca Eggplants

I noticed fresh green beans have appeared too (no wax beans yet).

And lastly, does anyone know what glacier lettuce is??

Glacier Lettuce

Glacier Lettuce

Fresh Green Beans

Fresh Green Beans

Today’s purchases:

What did summer bring you this week?

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Farmers Market Update: Ode To Summer

by | Jul 11, 2010
White Nectarines

White Nectarines

Dear Readers,

I know that many of you enjoy the farmers market and visit it regularly, and if this describes you I’m sure you already know what I’m about to write.

For those of you who like the farmers market but find yourself cooking up excuses each week not to go, it is time to talk yourself out of that habit. At least this once. If you’re ever going to make visiting your farmers market a priority, now is the time. This is the season when a taste of a simple plum can change your life (I got mine from Paradez Farms).

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Pluot Slices

Pluot Slices

There are only a few weeks of the year when berries and stone fruits haunt the market simultaneously, when you can get sweet cherries and perfect peaches. Even the tomatoes now would never be mistaken for anything other than a fruit. At this time of year it is possible to win friends with salad (I’ve done it many times already).

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

Green Chard

Green Chard

Today I saw children begging their parents to buy foods that most of us grew up hating (beets!). And I even bought a bag of broccoli simply because it was so cute. That’s right, even vegetables are getting their moment in the sun.

Adorable Broccoli

Adorable Broccoli

Summer Beets

Summer Beets

(the garlic and onions are photogenic??)

Summer Onions

Summer Onions

Purple Garlic

Purple Garlic

An added bonus is the late summer produce is just beginning to arrive as well. Today I bought my first corn, and saw eggplants available at a few different stands.

Bodacious Yellow Corn

Bodacious Yellow Corn

Mission and adriatic figs are also available, and surprisingly sweet for this early in the season. I even spied a few melons hanging out today, though I was too busy cradling peaches and nectarines to get one home safely.

Mission Figs

Mission Figs

First Eggplants

First Eggplants

And for today’s Moment of Zen, I present: kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi

Enjoy the summer! And if you discover or learn to love anything new this year, please come tell us about it.

xoxox
Darya

Today’s purchases:

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Farmers Market Update: Chard Obsessed

by | Apr 4, 2010
Chard

Chard

I had no idea I loved chard as much as I apparently do. When I got home from the farmers market and browsed through my photos, about half of them were pictures of chard.

Organic Chard

Organic Chard

Ruby Chard

Ruby Chard

Is that weird?

I think the attraction was the rainbow of colors that to me is so representative of springtime. And nothing is more colorful than rainbow chard.

Ok, the beets were pretty beautiful too.

Colorful Beets

Colorful Beets

Rainbow Chard

Rainbow Chard

I love being inspired by vegetables.

The biggest news from the market today was the appearance of heirloom tomatoes. Though I wasn’t quite ready to commit to buying them, I’m very excited about the coming weeks as their flavor develops.

Organic Strawberries

Organic Strawberries

First Heirloom Tomatoes

First Heirloom Tomatoes

I did take the plunge and purchase some strawberries this week, however. I’m a huge fan of the berries at Dirty Girl Produce, and they still had a few baskets left when I got there. But these berries at Swanson Berry Farm looked pretty tasty as well.

Avocados, artichokes and celery also caught my attention this week. I stocked up on baby artichokes for good measure.

Organic Celery

Organic Celery

Organic Artichokes

Organic Artichokes

It is also a great time to get salad greens. A few vendors are carrying miner’s lettuce with these cool Alice-In-Wonderland-looking leaves. And I’m always drawn to the adorable savoy cabbages.

Baby Savoy Cabbage

Baby Savoy Cabbage

Miner's Lettuce

Miner's Lettuce

Be sure you get your fill of citrus in the coming weeks, since it will be disappearing before you know it. And don’t forget the green garlic and onions.

Baby Onions

Baby Onions

Today’s purchases:

Were you inspired by vegetables this week?

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Farmers Market Update: Spring Equinox

by | Mar 21, 2010
Cioggia Beets

Cioggia Beets

Last week we sprung ahead and this weekend marks the official spring equinox. Woohoo!

We have had absolutely spectacular weather here in San Francisco, which could not feel better after the months of rain we endured.

To celebrate I got myself some morel mushrooms, one of the true delicacies of springtime. Excitement is an understatement.

Organic Chard

Organic Chard

Morel Mushrooms

Morel Mushrooms

Another vegetable I couldn’t resist this afternoon were the beets. I am not particularly in the mood for beets, but they were everywhere and looked beautiful. I got one bunch of the lovely white and pink striped cioggia beets and one standard red bunch. Naturally I will use both the roots and the leaves.

Beet greens are an awesome substitute for chard or spinach. If you’ve never tried them I highly recommend it.

Beyond beets, other root vegetables including carrots, celery root and onions are in season and as sweet as they will be all year.

Shallots

Shallots

Carrots, Fennel & Celery Root

Carrots, Fennel & Celery Root

I’m also really enjoying the delicate little broccoli I’ve been finding lately. These little guys are sweeter and more tender than the big broccoli crowns. I can’t go a week without getting a bag full. You can also find this Italian variety, broccoli di Ciccio (the sign is spelled wrong). The flowers, of course, are edible.

Broccoli di Ciccio

Broccoli di Ciccio

Artichokes are something else you shouldn’t miss this time of year. The big ones are great, but I also love to cook up some baby artichokes with leeks and walnuts as a side dish or pasta topping.

Leeks

Leeks

Large Organic Artichokes

Large Organic Artichokes

And no talk of springtime is complete without mentioning asparagus. I have a wonderful recipe for balsamic asparagus and carrots. It’s very simple and incredibly delicious.

Asparagus

Asparagus

Finally, don’t forget about all the wonderful citrus, it will be disappearing in the coming weeks.

Kumquats

Kumquats

Navel Oranges

Navel Oranges

Today’s purchases:

Cutest Pug Ever

Cutest Pug Ever

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