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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: A strong case for beans, how to fall asleep faster & the downside of 5K steps

by | Apr 8, 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 a strong case for eating beans, how to fall asleep faster, and the downside of 5,000 steps.

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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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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Top 10 Most Underrated Health Foods

by | Mar 5, 2014

Photo by Michael Hodge

We already know that food manufacturers and the media tend to exaggerate the benefits of popular health foods, but what about all the wonderfully healthy foods they ignore?

It’s time to shine the spotlight on 10 of my favorite healthy foods that never get the attention they deserve.
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Foodist Approved: Tuscan Red Lentil Soup with Kale and Farro

by | Jan 15, 2014
Red lentil soup with kale and farro

Red lentil soup with kale and farro

This past week has been a pinch hectic as my husband and I closed on our first house and are getting ready to move.

Dinners had to be quick and easy with minimal cleanup, meaning one-pot meals instead of my usual nightly disaster in the kitchen (which always keeps my husband busy scrubbing). But into those single pots I also needed to fit a lot of healthy goodness, as I’ve been extra hungry lately (have I mentioned that I’m pregnant!!).

My best concoction from the week was a creamy, hearty soup that I loved so much, I made it twice. This recipe takes less than fifteen minutes to throw together and then you can just sit back with a glass of wine and enjoy the smells while it simmers (no wine for me!).

I got lucky with how good this soup turned out as I was actually just trying to use up a few random ingredients in our pantry. I found a bag of red lentils that had been sitting neglected for a while. I like how red lentils take on a creamy texture when cooked in a broth. They’re perfect for thickening a soup and they add a healthy dose of protein and fiber.

I tossed in a cup of farro to make it a meal. That, combined with the kale, made this a one-pot meal loaded with both nutrition and flavor.

It also makes for a delicious vegan soup (there is no actual cream in this creamy soup). Simply use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and skip the sprinkle of parmesan.

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10 Tasty Carbs That Won’t Make You Fat

by | Mar 20, 2013

Photo by Denna Jones

We all know the story. Eating carbohydrates causes a spike in blood sugar, which results in a surge of insulin. Insulin shuttles all that extra sugar into your fat cells and you become obese. Over time, your poor helpless organs become resistant to insulin and you develop type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, thereby shortening your life by 7 years.

All of that is true.

The story is more complicated, however, because all carbs are not created equal.

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5-Minute Lunch: The Tastiest, Easiest, Healthiest Bean Salad on the Planet

by | Feb 22, 2012
Heirloom Bean Salad

Heirloom Bean Salad

This is a recipe that I rely on often, particularly when I’m short on time but don’t want to eat something unhealthy. As I’ve mentioned like a zillion times during my show, I think beans are one of the absolute best go-to foods when you want something tasty and satisfying.

Don’t worry, this is not one of those nasty 3 bean salads your well-meaning aunt brings to barbecues. When you start with good quality, dry beans they bring an amazingly creamy texture to a dish and are absolutely delicious. And if you prepare them properly by soaking them for a few hours beforehand, you also won’t get any of the digestive issues most of us associate with canned beans.

On that note, the title isn’t quite accurate. It assumes that, like me, you’ve spent a bit of time early in the week making a big batch of beans to add to the meals you make through Friday. That said, preparing the beans only takes 2-3 extra minutes of prep time, but there are a couple hours of waiting between the essential steps. If you use a pressure cooker it is even faster.

In a pinch, feel free to substitute lentils, which can be used similarly but cook up in only 20-30 minutes, depending on the size.

Today I made this recipe using only ingredients I already had in my fridge. I did this intentionally to show you how easy and versatile it is. But feel free to substitute any of the vegetables with ones you have or like better. It doesn’t matter which beans you use either, a simple black bean is also very lovely if you can’t find fancy heirloom beans.

This dish turns out different every time I make it, depending on what I have in the house, my mood and, of course, the season. In the summer, for example, I tend to use cucumber, French radish and a handful of arugula. Also feel free to experiment with different oils, vinegars, citrus, herbs, salts and spices (smoked paprika is a great addition).

I use this dish most often for a light lunch or substantial snack. It can be served warm or cold, or can be made into a full meal by adding a fried egg on top (or other protein) with a side of greens. This recipe is for a single serving, but it scales easily.

Heirloom Bean Salad With Winter Vegetables

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup cooked Rancho Gordo Pinquito beans
  • 2 small carrots or 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced lo bok or daikon
  • 1/2 green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp freshly diced parsley
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or nut oil
  • 2 tsp rice or red wine vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper

If your beans aren’t already cooked, soak them overnight or at least 6 hours. Discard the soaking liquid, rinse several times then cook in beef, mushroom or vegetable stock until tender.

Place appropriate amount of beans in a bowl and add sliced vegetables, green onion and parsley. I tend to go heavy handed on the herbs because they add such a wonderful freshness, but feel free to experiment with the amount you like.

You’re welcome to mix the vinaigrette beforehand, but if you’re lazy like me feel free to just add oil and vinegar directly to the bowl, along with some salt and pepper and any other spices you choose.

Gently stir with a spoon, taking care not to damage the beans. Adjust salt and pepper and enjoy.

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Red Lentil Soup With Indian Spices

by | May 18, 2011
Red Lentil Soup

Red Lentil Soup

Today’s guest recipe is by Boston Globe writer, Allison Boomer. A big lentil fan, she recommends using either Red Chief or Petite Crimson lentils from Zürun.

Her last recipe contribution to Summer Tomato was also a huge hit:

French Green Lentils Roasted With Carrots And Beets

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.

Red Lentil Soup With Indian Spices

Serves 6-8

by Allison Boomer

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, or more to taste
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 pound (2 cups) red lentils, rinsed with cool water and sorted to remove any small stones
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 can (about 14 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • Juice of 1 lemon

1. In soup pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

2. Stir in the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

3. Add the stock, water, lentils, carrots, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, partially cover the pan, and turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer the soup for 30 to 40 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

4. Add the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and chili powder, if you like.

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Summer Tomato Live – Episode #2 – Darya’s Healthstyle

by | Mar 10, 2011

Thanks to all of you who participated in the latest episode of Summer Tomato Live, your questions were great and I had a blast.

The recording of the show is above, and you’ll notice quickly that I had to re-record the audio since I had some trouble during the recording. Sorry about that, I’ll get this technical stuff right eventually.

The next live show is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16, at 6:30pm PST, and the topic is Habit forming and habit breaking. The following episode will be about healthy vegetarian and vegan diets, which I’ll try to make interesting for omnivores as well.

The episode will also be available soon on iTunes.

Today’s show notes:

Sponsors:

My go-to recipes:

My tricks for cooking without pasta:

Time saving tricks:

Exercise tips & alternatives:

How to:

Recommended healthstyle gear:

Let me know if there are any other links you’d like me to include.

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Dosa’s Rasam “Fire Broth” Recipe

by | Feb 21, 2011
Dosa's Rasam

Dosa's Rasam

I’m absolutely delighted to be sharing this top secret recipe from the kitchen of one of my favorite restaurants, Dosa. I recently highlighted this recipe in an article I wrote about lentils and their health benefits for Edible SF, where you can read more about the soup.

Dosa owner Anjan Mitra is very protective of his recipes and I am eternally grateful to him for sharing this one for rasam, a spicy lentil soup. If you have a minute please stop by and thank him on Twitter (@dosasf) and Facebook.

If you’ve never explored Indian cooking, it’s a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with new spices and feel like a culinary badass. These recipes never cease to impress, and as much as I adore (and rely on) simple recipes, it’s fun to try something a little more challenging every now and then.

The hardest part of this recipe will be tracking down some of the more elusive ingredients. While the majority of the spices can be found at a regular grocery store, a few ingredients may require a trip to an Indian grocery or specialty store. For more info on the ingredients, check out my last article on rasam ingredients.

A few notes before you begin:

  1. You’ll need a spice grinder. A coffee grinder will work, but you’ll need to clean it well before using it again for coffee.
  2. Curry leaves are not necessary if you can’t locate them, but do not attempt to substitute curry powder.
  3. The better quality tomatoes you use, the better the recipe will turn out.
  4. This is meant to be spicy, but you can adjust the spice level depending on your tolerance by switching up the type and number of chilies you use.
  5. The lentils and the tamarind each require a 1 hr soak before cooking, so plan accordingly.
  6. Since some of the ingredients are difficult to find, once you have them you can make a large batch and freeze the rest in quart-sized containers.

Dosa’s Rasam “Fire Broth” Recipe

© DOSA May not be copied or distributed without prior written permission

Approximately 8 portions.  Naturally vegan & gluten-free.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. Toor dal (lentils) aka Pigeon Peas, available at most Indian grocery stores
  • 4 Organic red tomatoes cut and blended
  • 1 1/2 sq. inch Tamarind pulp (usually sold in blocks)
  • 1/2 Organic lemon
  • 1/4 c. Chopped cilantro
  • 6 Cloves of garlic
  • 5 Dried red chilies
  • 6-8 Fresh curry leaves (leave out if you can’t find them, do not use “curry powder”)
  • 4 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 3 tsp Whole black peppercorns
  • 4 tsp Coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp Asafetida (This stuff is very potent so don’t overdo it. Gluten-free versions with rice-flour are available.)
  • 10-11 c. Water
  • 1-2 tbsp Oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt

Preparation:

Tamarind

  1. Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup of water for 1 hour.

Toor dal

  1. Soak to the Toor Dal in 1 cup of water for 1 hour.
  2. Add 5 additional cups to the Toor dal and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes on a medium flame or until grains are very soft and blending with the water. (Note from Darya: this took closer to 30 minutes for me)
  3. Let it cool for 5 mins, then blend the Toor dal with the water. (Note from Darya: a hand blender works well)

Garlic

  1. Crush whole garlic and grind into a paste (Note from Darya: use mortar and pestle or back of wooden spoon)

Powdered Spice Mixture

  1. Grind cumin, peppercorn and coriander seeds. It can stay relatively coarse, but should be fine enough to drink in the soup.
  2. You can use a coffee grinder, however, be sure to clean it thoroughly after use.

Tomatoes

  1. Cut and blend the tomatoes into a pulp. (Note from Darya: use a food processor or blender)

Cooking:

**Have all your ingredients ready since some of these steps are relatively quick

  1. Add a minimal amount of oil to coat the bottom of a soup pot.  Turn to medium-high heat.
  2. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, dried red chiles and curry leaves.
  3. Keep stirring for about 2 minutes. You’ll get the aromatic flavors of these ingredients.
  4. Add asafetida and keep stirring for another 30 seconds.  This has a very strong aroma of onion and garlic so make sure you don’t add too much.
  5. Add turmeric and crushed garlic paste. Lower the flame slightly and keep stirring to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn. Stir for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the raw garlic flavor has dissipated.
  6. Add the fresh tomato pulp.
  7. Add tamarind pulp with the water in which it’s been soaking.
  8. Stir and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on a medium flame.
  9. Add the powdered spice mixture.
  10. Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes on a medium flame.
  11. Stir intermittently. You’ll notice the aromatic flavors of the spices.
  12. Add the blended Toor dal (lentil) and stir.
  13. Add remaining water about 2 to 3 cups. You can add more or less water depending on how thin or thick you would like the soup. It’s flavorful enough to be served relatively thin.
  14. Add cilantro.
  15. Add salt.
  16. Squeeze 1/2 an organic lemon.
  17. Simmer for 10 minutes and stir intermittently. Do NOT boil or cook. When it starts to froth you’re done.
  18. Check salt and add to taste if needed. (Note from Darya: I added an extra 1/4 tsp to get the same taste as at the restaurant)

Serving:

  • This nutritious and flavorful soup has a grainy and coarse texture as a result of the coarsely blended spices.
  • Stir the pot before ladling the soup into a cup as the spices will settle to the bottom.
  • Serve hot and garnish with cilantro.
  • It can be drunk straight from a cup or even eaten with rice.
  • You won’t even notice it’s vegan and gluten-free!

HUGE thanks to Anjan and Dosa for sharing this amazing recipe.

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Rain Day: Jai Ho Indian Grocery

by | Feb 20, 2011
Rasam Ingredients

Rasam Ingredients

The rain didn’t let up yesterday, so rather than face the cold wet farmers market I decided to visit the Jai Ho Indian grocery store to pick up some ingredients I can’t find at my normal spots.

Jai Ho was recommended to me by Anjan Mitra, a friend and owner of San Francisco’s premier South Indian restaurant Dosa. I’m a huge fan of Dosa and recently interviewed Anjan for an article about lentils and their health benefits I wrote for Edible SF.

Indian Groceries

Dry Goods

Jai Ho Indian Grocery

Jai Ho Indian Grocery

I’m delighted to report that Anjan was nice enough to share his amazing Rasam “fire broth” recipe for lentil soup, which I’ll publish here at Summer Tomato tomorrow.

Today I want to share some of the ingredients that go into the soup, since they may not be familiar to those of you who don’t have experience cooking Indian food.

Toor Dal

Toor Dal

The soup is based on a type of lentil (“dal” in Hindi) called toor dal, or pigeon peas. Toor dal are medium sized yellow lentils that fall apart easily when cooked through. You should be able to find them at any Indian grocery store.

The recipe also calls for wet tamarind pulp, the kind sold in blocks. The one I got actually had chunks of stems in there, which I had to pick out.

Asafetida

Asafetida

Wet Tamarind

Wet Tamarind

Asafetida is a potent smelling herb that comes in powder form. This was the first time I had worked with it so I had to check Wikipedia to see exactly what it is. Apparently asafetida is also known as “devil’s dung” but, ironically, is a known antiflatulent. How have I never heard of this stuff?

Turmeric

Turmeric

The only other ready ground spice used in the recipe is turmeric, which some research suggests may help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease. You can find ground turmeric at any grocery store.

Dried Chilies

Dried Chilies

As you might expect, the soup calls for several sources of heat. The first are dried red chili peppers. I used my own Thai dragon peppers I dried last summer, but any form of red chili works here.

Whole Black Peppercorns

Whole Black Peppercorns

Some of the heat also comes from a generous portion of black peppercorns, which are ground together with several other spices that form the main flavors of the soup.

Cumin Seeds

Cumin Seeds

The other spices in the mixture are cumin and coriander seeds. Mustard seeds are also called for, though these are added whole and are not ground with the other spices.

Coriander Seeds

Coriander Seeds

One of the hardest to find ingredients for the recipe is fresh curry leaves. The recipe is very explicit that if you cannot find them you should leave them out and under no circumstances substitute ground curry powder. I was able to find fresh leaves at Jai Ho, and their flavor was more subtle than I expected.

Fresh Curry Leaves

Fresh Curry Leaves

And of course, don’t forget your garlic.

Garlic

Garlic

Stay tuned tomorrow for Dosa’s rasam recipe.

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