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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Much ado about carbohydrates, the secret to building an exercise habit, and how to kill a cold

by | Sep 16, 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 much ado about carbohydrates, the secret to building an exercise habit, and how to kill a cold.

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

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.

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For the Love of Food

by | Jul 17, 2015
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 new warnings about ibuprofen, how to get ripped without steroids, and a surprising risk from grocery bags.

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.

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Foodist Approved: Maple and Spice Baked Apples

by | Jan 28, 2015
baked apples

baked apples

I can’t decide what wins me over more, the aroma of apples baking or the first steaming bite of a bursting baked apple. When it comes to these Maple and Spice Baked Apples both are equally mesmerizing.

If you’re hunkered down due to the snow and rain slamming much of the country, here’s a heartwarming sweet treat guaranteed to turn this winter slog around. This dressed up version of classic, whole baked apples calls on browned butter, sweet spices and maple syrup.

Follow the recipe below or get creative and stuff your apples with whatever variation of nuts, dried fruit, chocolate or nut butters you have on hand.

Bonus: you have our full permission to eat the leftovers for breakfast—simply warm and serve with a spoonful of whole milk yogurt.

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Wisdom Wednesday: Airports and Cakes Don’t Mix

by | Dec 10, 2014

Photo by David Basanta

Recently I was traveling overseas and had a two-hour layover at LAX. Not excited about the idea of eating on the plane, I searched the airport for something resembling Real Food to keep me satisfied for the long flight ahead.

As has been happening at airports more often lately, I was pleasantly surprise to find several decent options and ended up with a tasty pile of beans, cauliflower and roasted squash.

Score.

You see, there’s absolutely nothing special about airports. 95% of the time the food is gross––the pizza is just as nasty as the salads. And sitting on my butt in an uncomfortable seat for the next several hours is nothing near a special occasion.

Normally I avoid eating at airports at all costs, but sometimes it’s just impossible not to.

When I am forced to eat in an airport I just try to find the healthiest, least disgusting thing I can get my hands on and anxiously await arriving at my destination and rejoining the world of Real Food.

To me, airports are like purgatory.

That’s why as I was finishing my beans and cauliflower I was so astounded to see someone walk past my table carrying a giant, four layer slice of red velvet cake.

Cake. At the airport.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

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Foodist Approved: Strawberry Rhubarb Sesame Crumble

by | May 28, 2014
Strawberry Rhubarb Sesame Crumble

Strawberry Rhubarb Sesame Crumble

Say you’re suffering from a serious sweet-treat craving, but are nowhere close to getting your 8+ servings of fruits and vegetables for the day. Fear not. Here’s a recipe for a radiant dessert that sneaks in a serving of each. Yes to desserts that hide veggies!

Seeing fresh strawberries and rhubarb together at the market couldn’t have made me happier. The two combine effortlessly, and together they promise summer is around the corner. But the problem with most desserts made with rhubarb is that they’re overloaded with sugar to compensate for rhubarb’s tartness. Why we like to mask rhubarb’s splendor I will never understand. When you’re using farm-fresh strawberries, there’s no need for added sugar.

I can’t think of a dessert more nutritious than this strawberry rhubarb crumble. It’s low on the glycemic index and free of refined sugars, and the fruit, veggies, oats and sesame seeds in it make it high in fiber, the coconut oil makes it high in healthy fatty acids, and the fruit and seeds make it rich in vitamins and minerals. Only thing better would maybe be a kale pie, but I think I’ll pass on that.

This recipe can easily be made gluten-free by substituting out the whole-wheat pastry flour for almond meal.
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Foodist Approved: Gluten-Free PB&J Cookie Bites

by | Apr 2, 2014
PBJ Cookie Bites

PB&J Cookie Bites

Friends keep asking me to share stories about crazy pregnancy cravings. I hate to disappoint—I haven’t experienced any middle of the night I-need-to-eat-a-pickle-right-this-moment cravings. But since month one, I have had this strong desire to eat childhood favorites. One of those has been good ol’ peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Of course, nobody needs a recipe for PB&J. So, instead, I’ve put a healthy and decadent twist on this classic lunchbox staple. This recipe combines my renewed love affair with PB&J with my always-present appreciation for homemade cookies.

“Healthy and decadent.” It might sound contradictory, but these cookies are truly just that. Thanks to the coconut oil and peanut butter, they are satisfyingly rich and flaky, and on the healthy spectrum, these PB&J Cookie Bites are free of refined sugars and high in protein. Another bonus—they’re also free of common allergens including gluten, dairy and eggs.

Unlike many gluten-free recipes that require three different kinds of flour, this recipe is super easy to master. Since only minimal ingredients are needed, you won’t be tempted to pick up a package of overly sweet store-bought cookies instead of baking your own.

Tip: Invest in a small ice cream scooper. It’s the easiest way to make perfect little round cookies that don’t fall apart the second you try to remove them from the pan.

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Foodist Approved: Maple Coconut Macaroons

by | Dec 18, 2013
Foodist Approved: Maple Coconut Macaroons

Foodist Approved: Maple Coconut Macaroons

As I wrote in my previous post, the holidays are a time to indulge a little. So I asked Darya what she thought about mixing things up from our usual recipes packed with green veggies.

Darya’s response?

It’s a freaking treat and it’s the holidays, enjoy it already.”

Love it! So in honor of that, get excited! We’re about to make some very beautiful coconut macaroons, one of my favorite sweet indulgences. These macaroons (with chocolate drizzled on top) remind me so much of Samoas Girl Scout cookies, did you ever eat those as a kid? They were my favorite.

But, of course, seeing that this is Summer Tomato, these aren’t your typical store-bought coconut macaroons loaded with a pound of white sugar. I just couldn’t go that low.

My macaroons are made with real maple syrup and are free of refined sugar. And I promise you they’re not just as good as your usual macaroons, but better!

I love macaroons because they’re small and satisfying. And if you want, you can drizzle them in chocolate and sprinkle with crushed pistachios to make an extra fancy treat, one perfect for impressing your holiday guests.

And just in case you need one more excuse to indulge, did you know coconut is high in fiber, healthy fat, vitamins and minerals?

P.S. My macaroons are also gluten-free. Just make sure you’re buying gluten-free chocolate chips if you have an intolerance.
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Is Healthy Dessert Even Possible?

by | May 15, 2013

Photo by roygbivibgyor

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the dangers of sugar, and one reader asked:

So if you bake things from scratch with things like unsweetened apple sauce instead of sugar and whole grains and seeds etc… can they still be considered healthy? Like are healthy muffins or banana breads possible?

The reason this is hard to answer is because “healthy” is not a black and white word. Instead it is a fuzzy word with many shades of gray. That is because health is not made or broken by any single food, it reflects your daily choices and habits. Health is a pattern, not an event.

Adding less sugar or more nutritious ingredients may indeed move an item a few degrees in the healthy direction, but it won’t change the fact that a muffin is a muffin and will always contain some sugar and flour, and never be an example of healthy eating.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t eat a muffin and continue to be healthy.

The problem with a “healthier” muffin is a philosophical one, because the reality is we do not eat muffins for health. We eat them for enjoyment, which is arguably as important as health when considering your quality of life.

So is it worth sacrificing the pleasure you get from eating a muffin to make it slightly closer to something it will never be?

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6 Ways Eating Out Causes Overeating (And How To Stop It)

by | Apr 22, 2013

Photo by Sebastian Fritzon

Among my health conscious friends, we unanimously agree that eating out is the biggest barrier to weight loss.

San Francisco residents are fortunate that local, high-quality ingredients are the standard in almost every dining establishment (same is true for NYC, LA and other US foodie cities). We have gastropubs serving up grass-fed beef burgers, street carts offering sustainable fish tacos and small neighborhood spots dishing up heirloom vegetables and artisan ingredients.

I know, we’re spoiled rotten. But there’s a downside to all these wonderful options.

Ironically, the problem is that everything tastes amazing and is relatively healthy. Also, the menus tend to change regularly (often daily) depending on what is in season. So there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever be able to enjoy a particular dish more than once.

These things make it really easy to justify overeating.

There are many factors that cause us to overeat when we’re out. Here are the most common, and what to do about them.
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6 Tips To Make Dessert Worth It

by | Dec 12, 2012

Never trust anyone who believes dessert isn’t an essential part of life.

There may be some small, joyless percentage of the population who can live indefinitely without sugar, but in my experience those who attempt it are kidding themselves and will inevitably fail.

Sugar is wonderful sometimes, and in general it is easier to find a way to live with it than without it.

But I’m not here to propagate any illusions either. The scientific literature makes it is pretty clear that sugars, specifically sucrose (table sugar) and fructose (the sweet stuff in fruit and corn syrup), are some of the worst foods you can eat and should generally be considered dangerous.

Sugars promote aging, weight gain and most chronic diseases. Sugar is also regarded as addictive by many in the field of obesity and weight loss.

So how should you deal with it?

Keeping desserts in perspective goes a long way to helping you make smart choices.

Keep these tips in mind to make sure the desserts you choose are worth it.

6 Tips To Optimize Your Dessert Choices

1. Make it formal

Self-control is not the easiest thing to practice when dessert is involved. You probably know this from experience.

Make a rule for yourself to not eat dessert in an informal setting. That is, do not eat sweets between meals and always sit down and be fully present when you eat treats.

Resist the piles of cookies, brownies and candies set out around the house. If you do choose to eat one, do not make light of it. Sit down with a chair, table and napkin and enjoy every bite.

Try to wait until after a meal so you are eating for indulgence and not to satisfy your hunger. Trying to feel full from dessert is a losing battle (see tip #4).

2. Size matters

Dessert has an obscene amount of calories. I know this is not fun to think about, but you should be aware that if you are eating something with sugar and fat there is an excellent chance you are putting down 50-100 calories PER BITE.

A single Godiva or See’s truffle runs at about 100 calories. A slice of Oreo cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory has 600-800 calories. It is hard to overemphasize how huge this really is. If you eat a reasonably healthy diet, this is likely more calories than you consume in an entire meal.

When you do sit down and eat dessert, remember that you do not have to eat everything that is put in front of you. The first two bites are always the most satisfying. There is no need to test the hypothesis that the 12th bite doesn’t live up to them.

3. Make an allowance

You should keep tabs on how often you eat dessert, and one or two per week is a reasonable goal for someone looking to maintain their weight. Zero to one serving is best for someone trying to lose weight.

For most people, weekly allowances are easier to manage than daily or monthly allowances.

Rules likes this help you make smarter choices. Do you really want to waste your only treat this week on a cookie from a box or a cake from Costco?

If you are ever going to be a picky eater, dessert is the best place to turn up your nose.

4. Don’t treat yourself when hungry

Sugar does not satisfy hunger. In fact, repeated sugar exposure creates spikes and dips in blood sugar that make you feel hungry again sooner than you should.

For this reason, sugary foods should never be substituted for real food and you should not rely on them to satisfy your hunger. Not only is this ineffective, it also makes it more likely you will overeat. Remember tips #1 and #2 and eat your small desserts after a real meal.

5. Eat healthy meals

Having an overall healthy, balanced diet is another effective way to avoid dessert binges. If you already feel satisfied with what you have eaten, dessert will truly be a treat and not an overcompensation for poor nutrition.

Healthy meals can also go far to prevent emotional eating, since they help create a feeling of fulfillment, comfort and satisfaction.

6. Stay on the bandwagon

Slip-ups happen with dessert, and it is not the end of the world.

Remember point #2, that size matters.

Just as 5 bites of dessert is much, much better than 10 bites of dessert, one slip-up is better than 3-4 slip-ups. Don’t let one holiday uh-oh send you into a week of unbridled gluttony.

When it comes to sugar, less is always better. Avoid the temptation to throw in the towel.

Are your desserts worth it?

Originally published December 21, 2009.

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