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Winter Salad Tip: Making Tough Greens Soft

by | Jan 11, 2010
Winter Salads

Winter Salads

Today Nathalie Lussier is sharing her secret tips for making tough winter greens soft enough to eat in salads. Winter salads are a perfect use for all the lovely radishes, kohlrabi, carrots, beets and other sweet vegetables available this season at the farmers market.

Top off your salad with hazelnuts, grapefruit and some shaved cheese for a satisfying winter meal or side dish.

Nathalie Lussier helps people overcome unhealthy food cravings so they can eat more fruits and vegetables, and experience the magick of raw foods. She’s known as The Raw Foods Witch.

How To Use Winter Greens In A Salad

by Nathalie Lussier

Winter might not strike you as salad season, but there are plenty of delicious hearty greens to be had this time of year. One trick is to marinate the leaves so they soften and are easier to chew.

Here’s how to prepare some of these tougher greens and enjoy rich, satisfying salads year round.

Choosing Hearty Greens

The foundation of any good salad is the green component. Usually we think of lettuce, but there is a world of other greens to explore.

So what options do we have when it comes to hearty greens?

1. Kale: Kale is a tough vegetable that can handle the cold. It has a strong taste, but with a little bit of massaging it can make a really satisfying salad green. There are a few varieties, from the most common curly green to the spotty dinosaur (aka Tuscan) and beautiful purple kales. They are each slightly different and you should experiment with them all.

2. Cabbage: Cabbage is a tried and true winter veggie, but we can go beyond the usual coleslaw, saurkraut and cooked cabbage. Different colored cabbage adds beauty and variety to your salads, as well as sweetness and a crispy texture.

3. Swiss Chard: A relative of spinach, Swiss chard has a thick midrib that comes in a rainbow of colors like green, white, red, pink, and yellow. Swiss chard is great in salads and can be easier to chew than some of the others.

Washing & Cutting The Greens


De-stemming Tuscan Kale

Wash the greens thoroughly, you never know when a caterpillar will decide to make her home in a leaf of kale.

The way you cut the greens is important because you want them to absorb the marinade and soften.

Cutting Kale and Swiss Chard

For both kale and Swiss chard, you need to remove the stems by using a knife and slicing them out vertically. You can then chop up the stems and add them back to the salad like you would celery or other hard vegetables.

After you’ve removed the stems, slice the kale and chard horizontally into 1 inch strips. Put the sliced greens in a large bowl.

Don’t worry if you think you sliced up too much, it will shrink down in size as it marinates.

Cutting Cabbage

If you’re using cabbage, cut the cabbage in half and then use a knife to cut thin strips. These should look like coleslaw slices. You may have to cut them lengthwise if they are too long.

I recommend you cut the whole cabbage and make a big batch, unless you have something else planned for the other half. Making large batches at once makes future healthy meals that much easier.

Massaging & Marinating The Greens

This is the magic part that will take regular tough greens and turn them into the perfect salad.


  • Your chosen greens or a combination of them (1 bunch)
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil or more as needed
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Pinch of Celtic sea salt

Now it’s time to get your hands dirty! Add the ingredients into your mixing bowl and massage them into the greens with your hands.

You really want to squeeze the oils and juices into the greens, because that’s what will make them truly mouthwatering.

The Final Touches

After you’ve thoroughly massaged your winter green salad, add any other chopped vegetables you like, or any of these salad toppings.

Dress the greens and veggies for a hearty, satisfying winter salad!

Don’t let tough winter greens turn you off salads. Once you know how to make those winter greens more palatable, you’ll be eating delicious raw salads all year round!

Do you have any winter salad tips?

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Farmers Market Update: Washington DC

by | Dec 13, 2009
Dupont Circle Farmers Market

Dupont Circle Farmers Market

This week our featured Farmers Market Update is from Washington DC!

Olga Berman spends her free time cooking, salsa dancing and traveling. She believes cooking for one can be as rewarding as cooking for company, and doesn’t need to involve a lot of time or ingredients.

Olga’s recipes are inspired by her memories of growing up in Russia, her travels and what’s available in her fridge at any given time. Check out more recipes from Olga’s collection at Mango & Tomato, follow her on Twitter (@mangotomato).

Farmers Market Update: Dupont Circle in DC

by Olga Berman

If you think cold weather means no more farmers markets, don’t give up quite yet.

The Dupont Circle Farmers Market in Washington DC is open year round, rain or shine, on Sundays from 9 am to 1 pm. I visited the market on December 6th and found an abundant amount of produce, flowers, holiday gifts and even a sample of potato soup from Jaleo, Jose Andres’ restaurant.

I first stopped at the Sunnyside Farm & Orchard to check out the fresh onions, radishes, beets, and greens. All these winter vegetables are not only full of nutrients, but are also beautiful (see above photo-).

My next stop was Black Rock Orchard. Here you could pick up several varieties of apples and pears, green onions, and three varieties of turnips.





At the New Morning Farm, I found two types of vegetables that I’ve never seen before: watermelon radishes and tat soi. Watermelon radishes are larger in size than a typical radish and have a pretty pink color inside. They can be used in salads, roasted, or sautéed in butter. Tat soi, I was told, should be cooked similar to bok choy.



Watermelon Radish

Watermelon Radish

Next was Twin Spring Fruit Farm. I was happy to see that they still had tomatoes available. Surprisingly, tomatoes smelled and tasted as if they were picked in August. The farm also had what you would typically consider a late fall/early winter produce: sweet potatoes and carrots.

Sweet Potatoes & Carrots

Sweet Potatoes & Carrots

Winter Tomatoes

Winter Tomatoes

For those of you who are not tired of pumpkin, you can find it and other winter squash at Gardeners’ Gourmet. I especially liked the multi-colored and odd-shaped pumpkins. And speaking of multi-colored, Gardener’s Gourmet had white, yellow and purple cauliflower. Unfortunately, the color of the cauliflower doesn’t add anything special to the taste.

Colorful Cauliflower

Colorful Cauliflower

Winter Squash

Winter Squash

All in all, it is definitely worth it to bundle up in your warm clothes, get a cup of coffee and stroll through a winter farmers’ market. You are bound to find delicious apples and discover a few new produce items. Not only will you be supporting your local farming community, but you might learn a new recipe or two.

What did you find at your market this week?

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Simple Plan To Increase Your Physical Activity

by | Dec 9, 2009
Photo by laurenatclemson

Photo by laurenatclemson

I’m thrilled to have JC, author of JCDFitness for today’s guest post. I don’t read many exercise blogs, but JC has such a refreshing approach to fitness and exercise I can’t help but love it. I asked him if he would share some of his wisdom with us here at Summer Tomato.

JC writes about fat loss, building muscle and everything else fitness related at JCDFitness.  He takes a No-BS approach to the health and fitness lifestyle and prides himself on his relaxed, comfortable approach. Check out his free ebook, A No-BS Approach to Looking Great Naked and follow him on Twitter (@JCDFitness), if you’re into that sort of thing.

Increase Your Activity, Improve Your Life

by JC

If there is anything I am truly, madly in love with, it’s food. So you might guess that I was once a chubby kid; okay, a really chubby kid.

But I am not here to tell you how or what to eat. If you’ve been hanging out on Summer Tomato for more than a few minutes, you already know how.

So, while I trust you are eating all the unprocessed foods and in-season produce available, how are you doing with the other part of the healthstyle equation? What does your daily physical activity look like?

If you live in America, chances are your life is busier than ever, even more so now that the holidays are upon us.

Here is a simple plan to increase your physical activity, which will greatly improve your quality of life.

Exercising is Fun, Taking the Stairs is NEAT

First off, we have two ways to get active and expend more energy throughout the day. The first one is deliberate exercise, which I will cover in a bit.

The second way to increase activity is through something called NEAT. This little acronym stands for Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Basically, NEAT is everything you do outside of deliberate exercise; it’s the energy you expend at your occupation, while doing household chores, picking up the kids, bathing your boa constrictor or painting your grass during the winter season.

Unfortunately, sometimes things are not so neat for a person who works at a desk and gets a slap on the wrist every time they move an inch away from their computer screen. So, if your current occupation or daily duties do not include much movement and you want to incorporate some extra activity into your daily routine, it’s time to get creative.

If you work on the 85th floor in the office building downtown, I don’t expect you to take the stairs all the way to the top. However, you can take a few flights before getting in the elevator and, when you come down for the day, you can do the same. Over time, you should aim to increase a flight or two every so often. Ideally you will be able to do all 85 flights within a month.

I kid.

But taking the stairs is a great way to get extra exercise if you can’t do a formal workout.

Another option is to walk instead of drive to your next destination. I know this is not possible for everyone, but once in a while if I want to increase my NEAT I will simply walk to school. I, however, only live 1.5 miles away from the farthest part of campus, so this is very easy for me.

If you take a train or bus, walk to the station if it’s not too far from your home.

When you do your grocery shopping, park in the very back of the lot; this way you’re forced into some extra activity. If it’s the only exercise you get outside of pecking the keys 8 hours per day, it’s definitely better than nothing.

For more NEAT tips check out: 6 Ways To Get More NEAT

Benefits of Strength Training (Deliberate Exercise)

The benefits of strength training could be an entire article in itself, as there are many positives I could ramble on about. For the sake of not boring you to death, I will hit the highlights.

The person who incorporates some form of resistance training a few times per week is going to be far better off than those who do not.

Now don’t get this confused with going to the gym and working out with all of the meathead bodybuilders. You can practice resistance training in the comfort of your own casa if you wish. You really don’t need a whole lot of equipment, if any at all. Heck, if you’ve never trained before, all you need to be doing is body weight exercises anyway, at least to get you started.

So give me some benefits!

  • Increased bone density
  • Increase in lean body mass
  • Improved appearance
  • Boost in confidence
  • Injury prevention due to joint stabilization through increased strength/muscle mass

Think of strength training as an insurance policy. It’s usually not much fun paying your dues and putting in the extra hard work, but you will be thankful later on in life as the rewards are great in terms of health and longevity.

As we age, our bone density diminishes; our muscles lose their tone and become weak. As a result, our chances of injury later in life increase exponentially. On another note, setting strength goals and achieving them will do wonders for our confidence and self-image.

So how might we put it all together?

Keep It Simple, Please

A strength training routine should never take up all of your time. In fact, it can (and should) be rather quick, unlike training for a marathon.

All you need is a few non-consecutive days per week to train; any more is likely unnecessary.

Keep in mind, I am writing for the general population here, so the guidelines are amendable and should be altered to suit your needs. However, here is a sample, full-body routine to get you going in the right direction.

Sample weekly exercise program

Training frequency is 2 times per week: Monday and Thursday morning before work (pick the days best for you, it’s just an example).

You will do the same routine each training day and increase weight and reps whenever possible.

The guidelines are to pick 1 exercise for chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps and 1-2 exercises for legs.

If you have access to a gym, your routine would look like this:

  • Chest Movement (bench or machine press) 2 x 10-12
  • Back Movement (lat pulldown, chin up, rows) 2 x 10-12
  • Shoulder Movement (vertical barbell press, DB press, lateral raises) 2 x 10-12
  • Bicep Movement (curls with barbell, dumbbells or resistance bands) 2 x 10-12
  • Tricep Movement (extension with dumbbells, machine or bands) 2 x 10-12
  • Leg movement (squat or leg press) 2 x 10-12
  • 2nd Leg Movement (leg curl or straight leg deadlift) 2 x 10-12
  • Abdominal Movement (crunches, planks) 2 x 10-12

If you do not have access to a gym and want to work out at home doing body weight only exercises, do 4 sets of 12 of the following:

  • Push ups
  • Chin-ups
  • Chair dips
  • Squats
  • Lunges

As you progress, the exercises will become less challenging, so eventually, you may need to move onto free weight/machine exercises or make your body weight work more difficult. This can be done by adding bands for resistance or making each movement more challenging.

For instance, if you want to make body weight squats more difficult, do a 1 legged squat or use dumbbells for extra resistance. Instead of regular push ups, do handstand push ups. You must get creative if you plan on doing body weight exercises only.

Cardio, Anyone?

On top of the strength training, some low to moderate intensity cardio is perfectly fine to do as well. I encourage those with sedentary lifestyles to incorporate 2-3 days of cardio into their weekly routine. My reasoning is, the more exercise we get, the more likely we are to maintain a healthy weight.

Examples of simple cardio workouts are walking the dogs when you get home from work, riding your bike through the trails, jogging in the morning before class, etc. Of course, you can use a treadmill, but I despise them; they are boring and usually inside a smelly, uncomfortable building. I prefer to do my cardio in the fresh air whenever possible.

So there you have it: a perfectly sensible plan to get active, improve your fitness and increase your quality of life.

What does your current exercise routine consist of? Let us know in the comments!

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Farmers Market Update: Grand Lake Oakland

by | Oct 25, 2009


I’m delighted to introduce you to Stephanie Stiavetti who agreed to step in and cover the Grand Lake farmers market in Oakland while I was away this week.

Stephanie Stiavetti is a Bay Area freelance food and nutrition writer. Besides writing for magazines and radio, she also blogs about living a healthy gourmet (and gluten-free!) lifestyle at Her top priority in life is eating well in every sense of the word and making sure people know that eating healthy can be a delicious endeavor.

You can also follow her on Twitter under the name @sstiavetti.

Thanks so much Stephanie!

Farmers Market Update: Grand Lake Oakland

Hello everyone!

This is Stephanie from Wasabimon, and I’m excited to be guest posting today on Summer Tomato. Darya’s asked me to take care of the weekly Farmers Market Update while she’s in Vegas, and since I live in the East Bay, today you’ll be getting a tour of Oakland’s Grand Lake Farmers Market.

For those not in the know, Oakland has a thriving farmers market community. With over ten markets throughout the week, East Bay residents have a lot of opportunities to buy organic, locally grown produce. Here’s just a sampling of what you can find at the Grand Lake market, which happens every Saturday from 9am – 2pm year round.

I love the colors of the market this time of year. So many bright colors as summer comes to a close! First I picked up a few of my obligatory (though no less lovely) squash and peppers from Capay Farms:





Right across the way was Rodriguez Farms, who have some of the best potatoes and strawberries around – and who doesn’t love the fact that we can get local strawberries this time of year? Yay California!





Next up were the gorgeous radishes and carrots at Ledesma Family Farms. There is always so much color in this booth and I need to wear sunglasses when I go inside:





After wandering around a little bit (and indulging in some kettle corn, my favorite treat), I hit the jackpot at Toscano and Sons. They have the sweetest cherry tomatoes ever! They make such a perfect addition to salads, and I can never resist them.

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Toscano also had baby shallots and young leeks, which are just about my favorite things ever. I’m such an allium nut – I don’t cook with them all the time, but I love how there are so many different levels of flavor within the onion family:



Baby Shallots

Baby Shallots

Happy Boy Farms was full of lovely winter and summer squash, and as usual their herb table was full of the freshest, most fragrant greenery. Their heirloom tomatoes were off-the-charts colorful, though I had to resist the urge to buy any since I already have some at home. Happy Boy also has my favorite salad mix, with edible flowers mixed in with the rest of the greens. I mean, how could you resist this beautiful display?

Salad Greens

Salad Greens

I also discovered something new at the farmers market this week. I’ve seen jujubes before but hadn’t ever stopped to inspect further. These little Chinese dates are really good and I highly recommend you grab a handful if you ever see them!



Then how could I not stop and smell the roses at Western Sun Floral?



And on the way out the door, I stopped by my favorite stand, Marshall’s Farm Honey. Since I avoid refined sweeteners, honey is a mainstay in my kitchen:



I had a fabulous time at the Grand Lake Farmers Market today, and I hope you enjoyed my little photo tour. Thanks, Darya, for letting me share!


What did you find at your farmers market this week?

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Simple Eggs Recipe: Spanish Tortilla With Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette

by | Sep 30, 2009

Spanish Tortilla

I’m super excited to announce that Danny Jauregui is sharing one of his recipes today at Summer Tomato.

Danny is a Los Angeles based food blogger. You can read his recipes on Over The Hill And On A Roll, and his food photography and blogging tips on Food Bloggers Unite!

Definitely visit Danny’s blogs and check out his incredible food photography, you’ll be blown away.

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make a Spanish tortilla and had no idea it was this easy. But now I seriously want to get that cast-iron skillet I’ve had my eye on….

Spanish Tortilla With Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette

by Danny Jauregui

Spanish tortillas are my go-to dinner when I’ve had a rough workday. I love that you can take two healthy ingredients and easily create a mouth-watering dish. A Spanish tortilla is a bit like an omelette, only much easier to make. Thinly sliced potatoes are sautéed with onions at which point eggs are added and cooked until done.

Sliced like a pie, the Spanish eat a tortilla at room temperature with a light salad, which is my preferred way of enjoying it. I also like to serve it for brunch parties, just for a touch of variety.

In this version, I add Mexican flavors by including chopped cilantro and a Chipotle-Lime vinaigrette. Filled with nutrients and bursting with familiar flavors, I think you’ll really enjoy it!

Simple Potato and Egg Spanish Tortilla


6 Eggs

1 Large Potato, thinly sliced

½ Large Yellow Onion, thinly sliced into rings

1 ½ Tablespoons Olive Oil

½ Teaspoon Salt

¼ Teaspoon Pepper

¼ Cup Chopped Cilantro


Slice potato and onions into thin slices. The exact size is not important. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom pan or preferably a cast-iron skillet. Wait for olive oil to almost begin smoking and add the onions and potatoes. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. With a wooden spoon stir potatoes and onions to coat in oil, lower the heat to medium and cook until they are soft, stirring occasionally, for a total cooking time of 5 minutes.

While potatoes are cooking combine the eggs and cilantro in a bowl and lightly whisk together. When potatoes are done, make sure they are lying as flat as possible in the pan and add the egg mixture. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until most of the egg on the bottom is thoroughly cooked. The top of the tortilla will not be cooked and should look runny.

Turn the broiler of your oven on, remove pan from burner and carefully place under broiler for 2 minutes, or until the top is slightly golden brown. Eggs cook fast, so keep your eye on the broiler. (If you don’t have a broiler simply place a cover on the pan and continue cooking on medium heat until top is solid and not runny).

Once top is brown, remove from broiler and let cool for 10 minutes. At this point you can slice it straight out of the pan, or flip it like I did. To flip, run a knife around the edge of the tortilla to loosen, place a plate upside down on top of the pan and flip the whole thing over. The tortilla should release easily.

Add some sliced avocado and your favorite salsa to really spruce this meal up, or make this Chipotle-Lime vinaigrette like I did.

The Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette adds a nice smoky and acidic note to the boldness of the potato and egg. Delish!

Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Adobo Sauce from a Chipotle Pepper Can

2 1/2 Tablespoons Lime Juice

¼ Teaspoon Salt

Adobo sauce is the smoky sauce that is included in Chipotle peppers. If you want a bit of spice, take half a Chipotle pepper and chop it super fine and add to vinaigrette.

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle vinaigrette onto sliced tortilla.

What flavors do you pair with a Spanish tortilla?

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The Loveliness of Raspberries

by | Aug 10, 2009



Today’s post is very special and a bit of a departure from the regular healthy eating tips of Summer Tomato.

Last week we had a discussion about truly special occasions and how they are defined. I mentioned that though special food moments can be characterized by remarkable food and talented chefs, they can also be deeply personal, reflecting moments and emotions from your past.

I’ve explained before and novels have been written about how moments like this can change your life.

Today my friend Austen Caldwell describes such a moment and reminds us just how special food can be.

Austen loves things.  Sometimes they are drawings, sometimes they are poems, and sometimes they are plates of perfectly manicured food.  At the end of the day, they all equal a well-satisfied sigh.  He hopes that everyone sighs today.

The Loveliness of Raspberries

A longtime fan of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, I’ve become accustomed to his theory that there are two sensory phenomena that evoke memories of childhood and are made the better for it:  music and food.  Perhaps he referred to the song that was playing when he had his first kiss; I know I remember mine.  Or perhaps it was the smell of his mother’s kitchen, the homemade stew no one could recreate, something welcoming and warm, that inspired this epiphany. The music I understood, but the moment of reconnection with the youthful memories of food?  For this moment, I was waiting.

Her name was Loretta.  She was a lovely woman, kind and always happy.  She was short, barely five feet from the ground, but lively and spectacular.  She was my grandmother’s sister: my Great Aunt.

I have a great love of raspberries.  For that matter, I love berries of every variety: lingonberries, strawberries, cranberries, boysenberries.  All are exquisitely delicious, but raspberries, raspberries have always been particularly partial to my palette.  I have had a jar of raspberry preserves in my home for every day that I can remember, but I’ve only recently realized why.

Summers with my grandmother in Brunswick, Ohio, we would take the twenty-six mile trip up to Cleveland to visit her sisters.  She had four.  The eldest, Loretta, lived in a beautiful brick home, the kind you don’t get in the West.  She had a modest yard and a modest garden, and curled up next to the side façade of that gorgeous house was a pair of unassuming, modest raspberry bushes.  Garden fence and everything.

As a child, I spent every summer visiting relatives, and one of my greatest joys was those trips to see Lala (which was my nickname for Aunt Loretta).  She had her own nickname for me.  It was Little Bit.  When my sister was born, I became Big Bit, but I remained a bit: a bit of my father, a bit of his mother, a bit of her sister.  And each summer, I was privileged to visit this lovely woman, a woman who lived to see her 100th birthday, and pick raspberries with her.

Nothing ever tasted so good to a young boy.  And, I suspect, nothing ever will, even if I live to see my 100th birthday.

I was seven years old, the first time I remember picking raspberries with Loretta.  She was strong for her age, but still fragile, making me feel as if I were doing something she couldn’t as I reached a berry, buried deep, close to the wall of her house.  Something elusive.  Something special.

Sweet, ripe, juicy.  These are the words we use to describe fresh fruit.  Of course they were these things.  But they were also the start of something new, something unexpected.  They were the start of a love affair.  Years after the fact, they resonate.  The raspberries of these bright, amazing days remain the reason that particular fruit has always struck a chord with me, no matter what other flavors I may encounter.  The reason that these, these texturally magnificent, teasingly tart, and subtlety sweet fruits mean so much is not merely their excellence, but that reminder of something else beautiful.  To me, raspberries are not solely the flavor and texture, but they are also Loretta’s well-worn, infinitely kind voice, the way she stutter-stepped before she reached up to wrap her arms around me, the blink she always made when she smiled.

I can track that sensation to the first bite of fresh-picked berries with my Aunt Loretta, but it continues.  It continues through raspberry preserves and peanut butter in middle school.  It continues with raspberries as an afternoon snack in high school, when I was ‘concerned about my weight’.  It continues through convincing my friend to make for me custom raspberry smoothies at her juice stand which I frequented my freshman year at university.  It continues, and I am just finding out why.

I hope I understand now what Bourdain meant: that those transcendent moments of our youth stay with us, if not through memory, but something else.  Our memories of the people and places important to us remain in a different form.  They become a different kind of memory, and those memories, of something sensory, something sweet, something savory, will always remain

something special.


Do you have a food that changed or deeply affected your life? What do these foods mean to you and how have they influenced your relationship with food in general?

Thanks again to Austen for this beautiful story.

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