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FOR THE LOVE OF FOOD: Nutrition is not as complex as you think, backyard chickens spreading Salmonella, and diseased farmed salmon infest wild population

by | Sep 8, 2017

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

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

This week nutrition is not as complex as you think, backyard chickens spreading Salmonella, and diseased farmed salmon infest wild population.

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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How to Get Back On Track When Your Good Habits Stop Working

by | Oct 31, 2016

Foodist_Podcast

After years of yo-yo dieting, Ashley had finally got off the dieting rollercoaster after discovering Summer Tomato and Foodist. She learned to embrace the foodist lifestyle and joyfully lost weight without dieting. Things were great.

Ashley’s new habits were working great until she had a shift in her work life that enabled her to work from home. While she loves her new freedom and flexibility in her day, some of her more structured habits like lunch and snacks have fallen back into disarray.

Together we discuss what has changed in her routines and come up with some strategies she can use to retake control of her choices.

Wish you had more time to listen to the podcast? I use an app called Overcast (no affiliation) to play back my favorite podcasts at faster speeds, dynamically shortening silences in talk shows so it doesn’t sound weird. It’s pretty rad.

Related links:

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Listen:

Listen on iTunes

Listen on Stitcher

Listen on Soundcloud

 

 

If you’d like to be a guest on the show, please fill out the form here and tell us your story.

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Foodist Approved: Anytime Frittata with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

by | Feb 11, 2015
fritatta sweet potato and spinach

fritatta sweet potato and spinach

Word is out. I’m co-authoring a cookbook for runners with Shalane Flanagan, Olympic medalist, world-class marathoner and world-class friend.

I could not have envisioned a better partner in crime for my first book. Shalane has been an inspiration to me since I met her 14 years ago at our first day of cross-country practice at UNC. She’s one of the toughest women I know and also happens to have an incredible approach to eating for nourishment and enjoyment.

The ironic thing about writing a cookbook is that I too have days when I just don’t have time to cook. You’d think I’d be swimming in amazing meals, but the truth is I have weeks where I’m testing five variations of the same energy bar day after day.

On those days, I revert to dinners that can be prepped in 15 minutes max.

A frittata packed with seasonal veggies is one of my quick go-to’s. This hearty frittata, loaded with sweet potatoes and spinach, has saved me on many late nights.

I’ll admit, last week I ate it for lunch and dinner followed by polishing off the remaining slice for breakfast the next day. Hence the name Anytime Frittata. Enjoy!

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Foodist Approved: DIY Quinoa Salad

by | Aug 20, 2014

Quinoa Salad Kopecky Summer Tomato sm

So you want to eat healthier but you’re not sure where to begin? A good place to start is revamping your lunch.

Lunch is easy to overlook, inconveniently located smack-dab in the middle of the day. This means you might be tempted by anything you can grab on the go, often a processed-deli-meat sandwich or a deceptively-labeled energy bar.

Since a long lunch and an afternoon siesta are not likely to become a part of our culture anytime soon, the best routine you can get into is to make a big batch of a veggie-loaded whole-grain salad on Sunday evenings. My go-to is a seasonal quinoa salad that I pack with whatever veggies I have left over from our weekly farm share and toss with my favorite lemon miso dressing.

Below is a recipe guide for creating your own quinoa salad. Keep the basics in mind (grain + veggies + dressing) and you really can’t go wrong with mixing and matching. Once you’ve made this recipe a couple of times, you’ll be able to accomplish it in 30 minutes or less.

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For the Love of Food

by | Jan 10, 2014
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 kale is worse than soda, fasting goes mainstream, and you’re still not walking enough.

Want to see all my favorite links? (There’s lots more). Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomato,  Google+ and the Summer Tomato Facebook page. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you. (And yes, I took that pepper heart pic myself).
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Back To School: Healthy Packed Lunch Ideas

by | Aug 20, 2012
by Savannah Grandfather

by Savannah Grandfather

“Over the summer, my family has adopted some new eating habits.  We are avoiding processed foods and sugar.  Trying for a lot more whole foods and I wanted to see if you have some ideas for school lunches.  The new school year is coming up and I don’t want to fall into old habits with sugary yogurts, chips and cookies.”

Habits are the essence of healthstyle. Good ones can make health and weight loss easy, bad ones can derail your most sincere dieting attempts. While habits are hard to break, once they’re formed they’re easy to keep around.

But here’s the thing about building habits:

If the healthy choices aren’t as easy and appetizing as the unhealthy ones, you probably aren’t going to stick with them.

So whatever you try, make sure it’s something you’re willing to continue doing for the entire year.

Though I do not have children and have not spent much time with them, I have been a student for the past 26 years and know a few things about toting lunch around. If you do have kids, feel free to chime in.

Healthy School Lunch Ideas

Fruits and vegetables. Make these as easy and fun to eat as possible. If your kids are resistant to fresh produce, my recommendation is to have them participate in the buying process. Make your weekly farmers market trip a family outing and explain to kids what it means for something to be in season. Show them how sweet and flavorful foods can taste when they’re at their peak and let them pick their favorites. Eating a carrot is much more satisfying when you’ve picked it out yourself. Pro tip: This trick works on adults too.

Here are some ideas for produce that can be cut, bagged and stored until lunch time: carrots, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, sweet red pepper, sugar snap peas, apples, blueberries, grapes and melon.

Homemade granola. Store bought granola is usually more like dessert than a healthy snack, but you can make your own with less sugar and it is still delicious. Don’t worry about using butter if it is called for, especially for growing children. Granola can be made in big batches, is easy to store, easy to transport and is based on intact grains that are both healthy and satisfying. Put a serving into a small zip bag and enjoy.

Hummus. Hummus is a Mediterranean dip made from chickpeas that is delicious and easy to make. A small tupper of hummus is a perfect accompaniment to cut up vegetables, whole grain breads and crackers. It is also convenient because it can be made in huge batches and frozen in smaller containers. Here is my favorite homemade hummus recipe.

Cheese. In reasonable quantities cheese can be a satisfying snack. Some wonderful artisan cheeses can even be bought for reasonable prices. American cheddar is a perfect example. Just stay away from the really processed stuff at the grocery store–check the ingredients label and avoid long, scientific sounding words.

Peanut butter. Like hummus, peanut (or any nut) butter can be a wonderful dip for fruits and veggies. I know that many parents these days are hysterical about nuts, but if the idea doesn’t bother you too much it can be a very healthy snack.

The consistency of natural nut butters can take some getting used to, but I strongly recommend these over the homogenized processed kinds. Natural nut butters that have no added sugar, no added trans fat, are full of healthy fats (this is good) and must be stored in the refrigerator (real foods don’t have preservatives). If you’re new to nut butters, almond butter is a great place to start.

Trail mix. Similar to nut butters trail mix can be scary for parents worried about nut allergies, but if your child can tolerate nuts then trail mix is a fun and nutritious snack. Try different combinations of nuts and dried fruits. I’ve recently discovered the amazing dried Bing cherries at my favorite farmers market. For a special treat you can add a few small chocolate chunks, which is a better indulgence than cookies or chips.

Sandwiches. I’m not a big fan of bread (even “whole grain” bread), but sandwiches are a reasonable option on occasion. When choosing bread, look for artisan brands with few ingredients and no preservatives. This kind of bread is often found in paper bags and costs less than the fake-healthy soft stuff in plastic. You can cut up loaves and store bread in zipper bags in the freezer. To thaw, heat for a few minutes at 325 F or move to the refrigerator the night before.

Healthy sandwich choices include: hummus, avocado, peanut/almond butter, soft fruit, canned Alaskan salmon, cheese, roasted chicken or turkey, egg salad, mixed veggies, etc. Try not to choose deli meats as your standard choice, since they are highly processed and have been tied to all sorts of health problems. Likewise, limit canned tuna to once per month (especially for children) because of the high mercury content. Mercury can damage developing nervous systems and has been tied to lower IQ scores.

Popcorn. For a crunchy, salty alternative to chips you can try popcorn. Though the instant kind can be hit or miss in terms of health, natural popcorn is relatively healthy and can be very easy to make. Explore different spices and flavor toppings such as cheese, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, garlic salt and other spices. You can make this a weekend project and let the kids choose their own flavors, store it in air-tight containers and use it during the week.

Please share your favorite tips in the comments

Updated August 22, 2011.

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How To Make Eggs Taste As Good As Bacon

by | May 30, 2012
Fried Eggs

Fried Eggs

Something magical happened a few weeks ago. While trying to figure out what to do with the first fresh eggs I’d found at the farmers market this season, I discovered the greatest egg ingredient in the history of mankind.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little (truffles are pretty darn good on eggs), but not much.

Generally I am a big fan of adding some kind of ground red pepper (usually chipotle or ancho) to fried or scrambled eggs. But this day I tried something a bit different.

Digging through my pantry I remembered that I had a ton of smoked paprika left over from the hummus I made. I decided to do an experiment and sprinkle the smoked paprika onto my eggs.

I can’t believe I went all my life without knowing about this.

But before I explain why exactly the smoked paprika made my eggs so amazing, I want to address what I’m sure many of you are wondering:

How healthy are fried eggs?

Answer: Eggs are perfectly healthy, and frying doesn’t make them any less so.

Personally I cook my eggs in olive oil (it’s just easier), but even if you use butter it isn’t a problem since the amount you need to cook is so small.

What scares people about frying eggs is an irrational fear of dietary fat. But theoretically the amount of oil you use to fry an egg should be about the same as you need to scramble eggs, so it isn’t clear why fried eggs would pose any more of a problem. I use olive oil to scramble eggs as well.

The other issue people have with eggs is the yolk. It amazes me how often people proudly inform me that they eat eggs but “only the whites,” as if this were some unique virtue.

I understand that the public health message we’ve heard about eggs for the past few decades has been extremely negative, but eggs have since been completely exonerated from heart disease accusations. There was a time when it was assumed that dietary cholesterol (which is definitely higher than normal in eggs compared to other foods) would raise blood cholesterol, but it doesn’t for most people. In fact, the healthy fats in egg yolks are likely to positively impact your good HDL cholesterol.

Moreover, dietary fats in general have been shown to be excellent at satiating hunger, and are thus a terrific replacement for calories from refined carbohydrates. That makes egg yolks your ally in fighting heart disease and burning fat, not your enemy.

Then there’s the fact that egg yolks are incredibly rich in vitamins and minerals, since they are meant to be nourishment for a developing life.

And finally there’s the most important part, that farm fresh egg yolks are out-of-this-world delicious.

Which brings me back to how to make the best eggs in the universe.

First you must start with high-quality eggs. Two factors have the biggest impact on egg flavor. The first is the diet of the hen who laid the egg, and the second is the egg’s freshness. Thus for best results you want to find the freshest pastured eggs you can get your hands on. Pastured means the hens that lay the eggs are allowed to peck around on grass eating bugs and whatever else they find.

Your best shot at finding pastured fresh eggs is at a farmers market or direct from a farm, since if they are already on a grocery shelf they probably aren’t very fresh. Try to find eggs less than 1 week old. Their day of boxing should be clearly marked on the carton. It requires a little math, but I’m not the one who made up these rules.

Chances are good that if your eggs are very fresh then they are from pastured hens, but this is not guaranteed. Ask the farmer and try to hold out for hens that are allowed to roam free in grass during the day. If you cannot get fresh pastured eggs, “cage-free” is your next best bet for flavor (though these may still be fed a limited diet).

Without asking the farmer it is hard to tell the difference between real pastured eggs and industrial eggs labeled “cage-free” that are still fed standard or organic chicken feed. One good indication will be the price, since pastured eggs tend to run $6-10/dozen here in SF. Trust me, it’s worth it.

I do not endorse the taste or healthfulness of industrially produced eggs (even the fancy kinds), and if you do eat them you should be careful to cook them completely.

(Aside: I never worry about the safety of eggs from farms I trust, so I always eat them runny. If you think runny eggs are gross, I don’t blame you. Runny industrial eggs are gross, and before I had fresh eggs I would have completely agreed with you. But fresh egg yolk is incredible, and it is something you have to taste to really appreciate. I definitely recommend stepping out of your comfort zone on this one.)

Once you have great eggs, fry them one at a time in 1 tbsp olive oil or butter on medium low heat and sprinkle with sea salt, course ground black pepper and a pinch of smoked paprika. The paprika adds a depth and complexity above what even chipotle peppers can offer, and the smokiness is reminiscent of—I kid you not—bacon. Needless to say, it is the perfect compliment to eggs.

Fry your eggs for just two minutes or so on each side, being careful to keep the yolk intact while turning. You really don’t want to overcook eggs, which will turn them rubbery and ruin the effect.

I haven’t actually tried these eggs with bacon yet, though I certainly plan to. But bacon is no longer a requirement for making a show stopping breakfast of champions. Here I served them with some ruby chard sautéed with pistachios and garlic.

Did you guys know about smoked paprika on eggs and if so, why was I not informed?

Originally published March 3, 2010.StumbleUpon.com

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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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Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup With Lemon

by | Sep 15, 2010
Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup With Lemon

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup With Lemon

Last weekend I bought some amazing, gnarly looking chantenay carrots from the San Francisco Ferry Plaza farmers market. When I found them at Tierra Vegetables they were just begging me to turn them into soup. I rose to the challenge, but first I had a few problems to solve.

Usually when I eat or make carrot soup it is in one of two styles. It can come either curried, warm and spicy, or gingered with hints of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. While I love these soups, they feel a little too much like fall and winter for me to get excited about them when summer in SF is just starting.

I didn’t want a soup that is warm and wintery, I wanted a carrot soup that is bright and summery.

To achieve this I started with carrot and ginger, but add a twist. Rather than spicing the soup with cinnamon and other fall flavors I added tumeric and a few Thai chili peppers to give it color, flavor and some heat. Then I brightened it up with lemon juice and preserved lemons. The soup is finished with crème fraîche, scallions, ginger flowers and lemon-scented olive oil.

To my delight this soup turned out amazing and unlike anything I had ever tasted. And it was exactly what I wanted. If you don’t have preserved lemons, I’m sure zest would produce a similar effect. Likewise, you can swap a serrano pepper for the Thai peppers and sour cream for crème fraîche. Ginger flowers and lemon oil are just bonus.

To blend the soup I used my new Cuisinart immersion blender (aka hand or stick blender), and I was very pleased with the result. I’m really happy about this because the Cuisinart is half the price of the Braun blender I used to use.

You can make the soup in a regular blender if you do not have an immersion blender.

Spicy Carrot Ginger Soup With Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 3 chantenay carrots or 5-6 regular carrots, peeled and cut into half inch slices
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, grated
  • 2-3 Thai chilies or 1 serrano chili, chopped and seeded (optional)
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 qt vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 lemon juiced (and zest if desired)
  • 1/2 tbsp preserved lemon strips
  • Crème fraîche
  • Scallions
  • 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • salt to taste

Heat butter or oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot and add onions. Saute until they become translucent then add the carrots, half the ginger, peppers and tumeric and cook until carrots are tender, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. If the vegetables start to brown, lower the heat.

When the carrots are soft add broth and bring to a boil. Simmer until the carrots are very tender and can easily be cut with a fork, about 10 minutes. Remove soup from heat, add the rest of the ginger and preserved lemons and blend until smooth, about 5 minutes. Add water as needed to thin the soup. I ended up adding 2 full cups.

If you are using a regular blender, be very very careful when blending hot liquids. Only fill the blender half full and blend in batches, holding the lid down with a kitchen towel. I’ve had many steaming soups explode and burn me, and it is not fun. That’s why I love my hand blender.

At this point you can filter the soup through a fine mesh strainer if you like, but I prefer to keep all the fiber in the soup and simply blend it very well. The texture is rich and silky this way, but will be thinner if you filter it.

Whisk in lemon juice and adjust salt to taste. Ladle hot soup into a bowl and garnish with crème fraîche, scallions and lemon oil.

This makes a fairly large batch of soup. However, carrot soup freezes extraordinarily well so feel free to freeze a couple pints for later. The soup will keep 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

What is your favorite way to make carrot soup?

Originally published Sept 7, 2009.

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Summer Salad With Poached Egg

by | Jun 16, 2010
Poached Egg Salad

Poached Egg Salad

Several weeks ago I wrote about how to make your salads more satisfying by adding extra protein, fat and whole grains. In this recipe I experiment with poaching eggs, which turned out to be easier than I expected.

To me poached eggs have always seemed like an impossible delicacy best left to San Francisco’s finest brunching establishments. The few times I tried poaching eggs before turned out to be a disaster, so I erroneously assumed the skills required were beyond my grasp.

Turns out I just wasn’t doing it right and it is actually pretty easy.

As you might guess, my fear of cooking poached eggs was conquered by the wisdom of Mark Bittman in his book How To Cook Everything. For me the problem was in the temperature of the water. To keep the eggs from being torn apart by boiling bubbles, the temperature must be kept just below the boiling point.

Problem solved.

Summer Salad With Poached Egg

Ingredients:

  • Gem lettuces
  • Treviso (or radicchio)
  • Summer tomato
  • Yellow crooked neck squash
  • Mediterranean cucumber
  • Avocado
  • French green lentils (cooked)
  • Green onion
  • Basil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Farm fresh eggs
  • White vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

For the eggs, start heating a deep skillet or shallow pot with 1 inch deep water. Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp white vinegar. Heat the water until it barely bubbles, around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

For salads I recommend using your best farmers market greens, but anything colorful you can find will work (this salad is wonderful with frisée). The list above is what I used, but obviously whatever you have around is fine.

I’m a big fan of adding raw summer squash to salads, but the quality of the squash is very important if you are eating it raw. The fresher the better.

Chop your greens and vegetables while your water is heating and prepare your salad dressing. With eggs I love to use a red wine Dijon vinaigrette. Something about the mustard and egg combination is divine.

My vinaigrette recipe is as simple as it gets:

Add 1/4 cup high-quality extra virgin olive oil and just under 1/4 cup red wine vinegar. Add 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard to taste, salt and pepper to taste and whisk with a fork for a few seconds. Taste and adjust the condiments until you like it.

Personally I do not think it is necessary to add sugar to salad dressing, but some people do. You can also add 1 tsp of finely diced shallots or some minced garlic if you want extra flavor.

In a large bowl, toss your vegetables with your dressing. After this add your lentils (or brown rice or nuts), and toss again. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Use tongs to plate your salad and get ready to prep your eggs.

Rinse your eggs and crack them one at a time into a small bowl or large serving spoon. Gently lower each egg into the warm water and release it into the pan (use a larger pan for batches greater than 2). Allow the egg to cook until the yolk has filmed over and the white is set, about 3-5 minutes.

Remove egg with a slotted spoon, drain off water and carefully place the egg on top of your salad. Garnish with pepper and serve immediately. Poached eggs go particularly nicely with sour toast.

Do you have any tips for poaching eggs?

Originally published June 24, 2009.

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