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18 Nutrition Habits You Are Probably Neglecting

by | Sep 29, 2015

Purple Artichokes

 

Going to a restaurant with me is not a normal phenomenon. I’m not impressed by comfort foods that most people love like mashed potatoes and mac’n cheese, and I almost always order the “weirdest” thing on the menu––think crudo (aka raw) platters, seaweed tastings and organ meats.

Just last week, for instance, I took my brother Shay to lunch at Mozza in Southern California, and without even asking him ordered the bone marrow appetizer. He looked at me incredulously. “Bone marrow?”

Me: “Yep, don’t worry about it. I always get it. You don’t have to have any if you don’t want.”

To Shay’s credit he tried it and––like 75% of the “weird” stuff I’ve encouraged him to try––he loved it.

So why am I such a freakshow?

Beyond my general disdain for social norms and conformity, my desire to eat at the fringes of the menu and grocery store stems from my desire to get as broad a spectrum of nutrients from my food as possible.

Healthy eating is about more than avoiding flour, sugar and trans fats. It also requires optimizing your nutrient intake of basic vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fats, amino acids, and trace micronutrients science may still be unaware of.

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10 Simple Kitchen Tips You Wish Someone Told You Earlier

by | May 22, 2013

Photo by me and the sysop

For myself and people of my generation, cooking represents the worst kind of irony. Feeding ourselves is our most basic human need, but for some reason no one bothered to tell us how to do it (or even that it was important to learn).

So we grew up, left the house and became dependent on restaurants and instant meals, only to find out 10 years later that this “food” has been killing us slowly.

Now what are we supposed to do?

Learning to cook is important, but can be intimidating if you’ve never done more than boil water, open cans and zap frozen entrees. Navigating the kitchen is much easier if you know a few simple tricks that seasoned chefs take for granted.
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Farmers Market Update: Summer Tomatoes!

by | Aug 14, 2011
Gigantic Tomato

Gigantic Tomato

This is by far my favorite time of year to go to the farmers market, it’s truly amazing. (If you’re interested in joining me next week, there are still a few slots left in my two market tours, 8am and 10am).

More than any other time of year the market is overflowing with life and bounty. The fruits are sweet, juicy and abundant, making it hard to decide which delicate morsels to cradle into my bag and try to get home undamaged.

O'Henry Peaches

O'Henry Peaches

Sea of Strawberries

Sea of Strawberries

We’re finally entering late summer, which means all the best summer tomatoes are finally here. The dry farmed early girls are my favorite, because they’re easiest to get home and amazingly sweet and rich in flavor.

Early Girl Tomatoes

Early Girl Tomatoes

But today I was also blown away by these giant heirloom tomatoes. They were as big as pumpkins!

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

While we’ve had sweet peppers for several weeks now, the spicy chilies are just starting to appear. I got some jalepenos, but I’m excited to see Thai chilies are available as well.

Thai Chilies

Thai Chilies

Eggplants, my gateway vegetable, are also a late summer delicacy. As a former eggplant hater, I find that the long thin plants are easier to work with and often taste better than their rounder cousins. The light purple color of these were particularly striking this week.

Eggplant

Eggplant

Late summer is also the time for corn, which not coincidently pairs exceptionally well with all the above vegetables. I love it raw off the cob or pan cooked quickly with summer squash and peppers. But I’m going to experiment with some new techniques using the ones I bought today.

Corn

Corn

Summer Squash

Summer Squash

Of course cooking is more fun with the abundance of summer herbs. This time of year I always have cilantro, dill and basil on hand.

Fresh Dill and Cilantro

Fresh Dill and Cilantro

If you love basil, look around your farmers market for vendors that sell it with the roots attached. You can bring it home and put it into a vase with water. I’m still using one I bought several weeks ago with one of my market classes. Just be sure to change the water 1-2x per week, and that the plant has access to light. I tried keeping some in my kitchen but it always wilted in one day if I didn’t move it near a window.

Rooted Basil

Rooted Basil

This is also my favorite time of year for salads. I make a big one most days for lunch, and the huge variety of greens like spinach and radicchio help mix it up and allow me to make something that tastes different every day. I love how the bloomsdale spinach is so deeply colored that it almost looks blue.

Radicchio

Radicchio

Bloomsdale Spinach

Bloomsdale Spinach

Fresh legumes including peas, green beans and shelling beans are staples in my kitchen this time of year as well.

Cranberry Shelling Beans

Cranberry Shelling Beans

Though I don’t talk about it much, melons (particularly the heirloom varieties I often find at the market) are a completely different experience when I get them directly from farmers. The rich complexity of the smell alone is intoxicating, and the flavor is nothing like the typical honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon I’ve had from the grocery store.

Watermelon

Watermelon

Lastly, the grapes are finally here. They’re particularly sweet and crisp this year, which is how I love them.

Red Flame Grapes

Red Flame Grapes

Today’s purchases (~$55):

What did you find this week at the farmers market?

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For The Love Of Food

by | May 13, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

Some truly fantastic articles this week including new data that farmers markets aren’t as expensive as you think, how to cut calories with a knife, and one of my favorite go-to recipes ever.

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

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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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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For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 4, 2010

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

Feedback has been fantastic so far from the 55 Knives e-book. The 55 Knives project is a joint effort of 55 top food bloggers offering personal stories paired with hand-selected recipes. I contributed a chapter, as did many of my favorite food bloggers. Definitely worth checking out.

More bad news for supplements this week. Seems protein supplements are toxic and omega-3 supplements add nothing to a healthy diet. Shocker I know. I’m also very curious to see how the salt battle will end. While I would certainly like to see less in processed foods, I would hate government regulation to interfere with my dining experiences. This weeks article in the Times takes an interesting look.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

Links of the week

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Farmers Market Update: Springtime

by | Feb 28, 2010
Loose Beets

Loose Beets

I know that it is technically still February, but I’m going to officially declare it springtime here in San Francisco, at least for all of us foodies.

The spring greens are in full effect. Today I found spinach, lettuces, asparagus and even pea shoots.

Pea Shoots

Pea Shoots

Asparagus

Asparagus

Brassica greens like kale and cabbage were around for most of the winter, but now we are seeing the late season varieties such as these savoy cabbages.

Savoy Cabbage

Savoy Cabbage

Herbs and onions are getting more diverse as well, as more delicate herbs like cilantro and thyme are reappearing. Still no basil though.

The giant leeks you can find these days are epic.

Big Leeks

Big Leeks

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs

The root vegetable season is also shifting to the tail end. I’m seeing fewer radishes and other spicy roots, but sweet beets and carrots are thriving.

Carrots

Carrots

In fruit, citrus is still where it’s at. Tropical fruits like kiwi, mango and guava are also available. But it’s hard to beat these $1 navel oranges from Hamada Farms.

Deceptive Tomatoes

Deceptive Tomatoes

Navel Oranges

Navel Oranges

You should still avoid the deceptively juicy looking tomatoes, however. Trust  me, they aren’t good. The vendor said it will be about 3 weeks before the heirlooms show up.

Until then you’ll have to amuse yourself with all the rest of the amazing spring produce. These flank steaks look pretty awesome too.

Flank Steaks

Flank Steaks

Today’s purchases:

Is your season turning?

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For The Love of Food

by | Sep 18, 2009
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.

Thanks to all of you who humored me participated in last weekend’s completely childish melon caption contest!

The awesome commentor of the week award goes to Foodie Adventures!, because it really would take a jumbo melon to hit a head that big!

Impressive Melons

"Who wants to throw JUMBO produce at Kanye West?"

As usual there were a ton of great articles this week around the web. I can’t say enough good things about what Monica Reinagel is doing over at her Nutrition Data blog and podcast. Luckily I also learned this week that health podcasts can help you lose weight!

Check the links below to find some great ideas on how to preserve summer herbs, what to do with fresh shelling beans and some tricks to keeping your brain sharp.

Oh, and did you hear that a new study found organic produce is actually more nutritious? Share your thoughts in the comments.

I also encourage all of you to sign this petition against the Smart Choices food labeling program, which has been widely criticized as a slap in the face to both consumers and health experts. It’s easy and I had no trouble unsubscribing to their mailings after I got the first one.

I read many more wonderful articles than I post here each week. If you’d like to see more or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page. For complete reading lists join me on the social bookmarking sites StumbleUpon and Delicious. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you there. (Note: If you want a follow back on Twitter introduce yourself with an @ message).

I also invite you to submit your own best food and health articles for next week’s For The Love of Food, just drop me an email using the contact form. I am also accepting guest posts at Summer Tomato for any awesome healthstyle tips and recipes you’d like to share.

This post is an open thread. Share your thoughts, writing (links welcome!) and delicious healthy meals of the week in the comments below.

For The Love of Food

What stories moved you this week?

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How To Get Started Eating Healthy: Essential Groceries

by | Apr 10, 2009
Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs

Having the necessary pantry items is critical to getting started eating healthy, but obviously you need a lot more than that if you actually want to cook fresh, delicious food. Today I have prepared a list of groceries that should always be in your refrigerator. Many of these items are fresh, which means you need to buy them regularly.

(This post is part of the series How To Get Started Eating Healthy. Part one is Stock Your Pantry. Subscribe to Summer Tomato to get more free healthy eating tips)

As I have explained before you must set aside a small amount of time once a week to do your grocery shopping or else healthy eating will be nearly impossible. This time needs to be non-negotiable; you must find a way to make it happen.

So why not start to upgrade your healthstyle this weekend?

Put these groceries on your weekly shopping list and never take them off:

  • Shallots or leeks These are members of the onion family, but milder and sweeter than you might be used to. Even if you think you do not like onions, I recommend starting most vegetable dishes with one of these ingredients. Shallots are like small, mild red onions. Leeks are like large green onions, but tender and delicate in flavor. Here you can see pictures of leeks and shallots.
  • Garlic People feel very strongly about garlic, some can’t get enough while others avoid it. I have found myself in both camps at some point, but now I am somewhere in the middle. I go through a small bulb every week, but rarely use more than one clove per dish. With subtle amounts of garlic you can add depth and dimension to your meal. Too much can overpower all the other flavors.
  • Lemon As I explained when discussing vinegar, acidic foods are extremely important in cooking. Lemon has the added bonus of possessing an amazing zest that adds both sweetness and brightness to your food. I panic a little if I don’t have lemon in the house.
  • Parsley Flat leaf or “Italian” parsley is the perfect herb for everything. I always buy it, even if I do not know what I am going to use it for. It is also rather robust and keeps longer in the fridge than more delicate herbs, like cilantro. If you do not normally cook with parsley, definitely buy some and try it in your next vegetable dish. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
  • Fresh herbs Of all the other fresh herbs, I usually only pick one or two to have in my kitchen at once. Which ones I choose depends on the other foods I am buying. Mexican food thrives with cilantro and oregano. French style vegetables are beautiful with thyme. I cannot live without rosemary on my roasted potatoes. Mint is perfect with Moroccan food. Experiment! Fresh herbs can change the way you approach cooking. If you don’t know how to use something, Ask Me! or ask Google 🙂
  • Eggs I do not buy eggs every week, but I buy them regularly (always a half dozen farm fresh eggs). They are incredibly versatile and a great, quick meal any time of day. Check out my favorite scrambled eggs recipe.
  • Tofu or tempeh However you think you feel about tofu should probably be reexamined. It can be very delicious when prepared correctly. Regardless of the claims of Dr. Atkins, science tells us it is actually much healthier to get your protein from vegetable sources. I love meat in all its forms, but during the week I usually stick to vegetable protein and fish. And sometimes eggs.
  • (Soy) milk I use soy milk for my cereal and in my coffee. I know many people prefer different kinds of milk, and whatever you choose is fine. If you currently drink dairy milk, my only warning is to use it very sparingly. Consuming cow’s milk is strongly linked to increased risk of prostate cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis (I know!), acne, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis. If you were raised in America and do not follow nutrition science, I’m sure this sounds insane (it did to me). Unfortunately it is true. Easy on the milk.
  • Condiments I mentioned last time I keep my soy sauce and almond butter in the refrigerator. The other condiments I keep handy are tahini, mustard, tomato paste, capers and olives. None of these are absolutely necessary, but they are nice to have around to mix up your flavors. They do not need to be purchased very often.

These groceries are always in my refrigerator and it is fair to say that I consider them essential. However, this list is by no means exhaustive.

Please share with us your favorite essential groceries so we can all benefit.

Subscribe now to get more free healthy eating tips.

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