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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Exercise actually can help you lose weight, CA bans soda taxes, and pollution causes diabetes

by | Jul 6, 2018

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

This week exercise actually can help you lose weight, CA bans soda taxes, and pollution causes diabetes.

Next week’s Mindful Meal Challenge will start again on Monday. Sign up now to join us!

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: The real reason you avoid change, the problem with gluten-free, and how to actually stick to an exercise habit

by | May 20, 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 the real reason you avoid change, the problem with gluten-free, and how to actually stick to an exercise habit.

Too busy to read them all? Try this awesome free speed reading app I just discovered 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.

Read the rest of this story »

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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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10 Reasons You Hate To Cook (And What To Do About It)

by | Jul 25, 2012

Photo by liber

I don’t like the word hate and try not to use it. I especially dislike it when it is applied to any kind of food or cooking.

Do you really hate asparagus? Or are you just whining about something you haven’t bothered to learn to appreciate? Yeah, I thought so.

My theory is that most people who profess to hate cooking are actually just making excuses to avoid it. Why would anyone really hate cooking? What did cooking ever do to you?

The sad part is that cooking is a wonderful skill to have. Not only does it save you time and money on food, it can also contribute to better health, bring you closer to friends and family, and be a great creative outlet for stress.

You don’t have to love cooking, but knowing the basics and feeling competent in the kitchen can open a world of opportunity to improve your quality of life. But sure, go ahead and hate it if you want.

For the cautiously curious, here are a few of the obstacles that may be preventing you from getting past your pessimism and what to do to get over them.

10 Reasons You Hate To Cook

(And What To Do About It)

1. You suck at it

The first thing you need to do is understand the difference between not liking cooking and not liking to be bad at cooking. Big difference. I didn’t like being bad at cooking either, but there is a pretty easy solution: learn how. It’s much easier than you think.

2. You’re slow

I know you’re busy. We all have better things to do than slave away over one lousy meal. But when you aren’t experienced in the kitchen the planning, shopping, chopping, cooking and cleaning involved in making a meal can feel like it takes forever. That’s because it does.

I can always spot a kitchen rookie by how long it takes them to chop an onion (seriously it takes like 20 seconds max). The good news is with a little practice and some decent knives (see point 3) you can slash the time you spend making a meal until you barely notice.

Ditto for cleaning up. Seriously, put some muscle into it and it’s over in no time!

3. You have crappy knives

I generally don’t advise spending money to solve problems, but knives in the kitchen are an exception. Spending $50 on a half-way decent chef’s knife can do wonders for your kitchen confidence and efficiency.

And you probably already know what an inspiration a shiny new toy can be.

4. You pick complicated recipes

Some of the best meals I’ve ever eaten have less than 5 ingredients. If you’ve never cooked anything in your life, cassoulet shouldn’t be your first choice.

Rather than finding a recipe and deciding to cook it, start with an ingredient that is seasonal and you know you enjoy. It’s hard to mess up kale and garlic. Learn to fly before you jump off a cliff.

5. You choose out of season ingredients

The main reason people don’t like _(fill in the vegetable)_ is because they have only had it from industrial farms that grow foods out of season. I agree, you’d have to be a masochist to like these impostors.

Farmers markets and dedicated produce stands are your friends. In season ingredients taste worlds better than the out of season stuff shipped from the opposite hemisphere. Your food doesn’t have to be 100% local, but at least pick foods that grow in the same season you happen to be living in. This alone could completely change your cooking experience.

6. Your pantry is inadequate

It can be really annoying to flip through a recipe book or food blog and realize that you need to make one or many grocery trips in order to make any dish because you don’t have olive oil, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar or red chili flakes. If you don’t know what belongs in a basic pantry, check out my free How to get started eating healthy guide for a rundown.

7. You cook everything to death

Just because your mom cooked broccoli until it was dark gray and could be eaten by an infant doesn’t mean that’s how food is supposed to be prepared. Most vegetables cook quickly and taste better when they haven’t been incinerated. When your vegetables turn bright green in the pan, that’s your cue that the cooking is nearly done.

8. You only cook for large groups

Your first cooking forays shouldn’t be huge productions. Start simply and don’t bite off more than you can chew by promising to host a dinner or bring food to a potluck of 30 people. Start by volunteering to help in the kitchen with someone who knows what they’re doing. Make a side dish, or a simple one pot meal for yourself.

Practice makes perfect, and you want your first experiences to go smoothly to build your skills and confidence.

9. You only cook for special occasions

New cooks don’t need any extra pressure in the kitchen. If you’re just learning your way around the range, maybe you should hold off on hosting Thanksgiving dinner or Mother’s day brunch. It can be stressful to just coordinate a large meal, you don’t need the added pressure of possibly ruining a family holiday. If you want to contribute, volunteer to make the salad or biscuits. Start your real kitchen adventures in the privacy of your own home.

10. You don’t ask for help

If you are truly new to cooking, you may as well acknowledge that you will be slow and lack the basic skills and intuition of a seasoned chef. You are definitely capable of getting there, but in the mean time make your experience as pleasant as possible by letting others contribute their expertise and knife skills when you want to cook. It is also nice to have an extra pair of hands for cleanup.

Do you really hate cooking? Or are you just looking around the room and saying that you hate things?

Originally published May 31, 2010.

ATTENTION: Due to the excessive negativity of some recent commenters, I am permanently closing the comments on this post. If the contents of this article make you want to scream in rage, stab someone, punch a wall, or hurl yourself off a bridge, I suggest you find a therapist.

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For The Love of Food

by | Feb 12, 2010
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.

The interwebs gave us lots of great healthy food tips this week, from an unexpected benefit of eating (and smelling) real, quality food to peeling a mango like a zen master. There is also a great article on DIY packed lunch tips and some good news about beer.

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

  • Confused about nutrition? Eat food! <<Marion Nestle elaborates on her position regarding single nutrient science and why we’re better off just eating food. (Food Politics)
  • Complex smells make food more filling <<One of the reasons I emphasize real, high-quality foods on this blog is because they are so much more satisfying and contribute profoundly to a better quality of life. A new study suggests that their wonderful smells may be partially responsible. (New Scientist)
  • Another perspective on the sodium wars <<I always love to read Monica Reinagel’s perspective on nutrition trends. Here she elaborates on sodium and high blood pressure. (Nutrition Data)
  • Beer for the Bones? <<That’s right. The silicon present in some beers may contribute to bone health. I wouldn’t start drinking more to prevent osteoporosis, but it’s nice to fantasize right? (HealthDay)
  • The Zen of Peeling a Mango <<It’s mango season, Mangoes are good and healthy, Easy to peel. (Who doesn’t want to start the weekend with a mango haiku?) (ReadyMade)
  • A Butcher’s Tips for Avoiding Cuts in the Kitchen <<Safety first. Playing in the kitchen is fun, but it is easy to hurt yourself. Learn to handle a knife safely from the pros. (Lifehacker)
  • 8 Foods That Will Hide Your Bad Breath <<I haven’t written much about Valentine’s Day this year, but a little good breath could never hurt anyone. (Dumb Little Man)
  • How to cultivate the packed lunch habit & save <<I’m a big fan of lunch, habits and DIY foods. Saving money doesn’t suck either. This article is full of great tips. (Stone Soup)
  • You Know About Insulin. And Now, the REST of the Story . . . <<People LOVE to over-simplify health and nutrition. Insulin gets blamed for a lot, and rightly so, but keep in mind there is a lot more going on than just carbs and insulin spikes. (Diabetic Mediterranean Diet Blog)
  • Farro & Winter Vegetables Recipe <<I love Amy. I love seasonal vegetables. And for some reason I’ve never cooked with farro. Something is wrong with this story and I think this recipe solves it. (Cooking With Amy)

What inspired you to eat well this week?

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