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For the Love of Food

by | Dec 12, 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 the shocking truth about “humanely raised” chicken, the 1-minute workout, and a surprising new benefit of fiber.

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 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. (Yes, I took that picture of the pepper heart myself.)

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For the Love of Food

by | Aug 30, 2013
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 read about the many environmental factors in obesity, the miserable lives of supermodels, and why posting food pics on Facebook doesn’t make you an ass.

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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For The Love Of Food

by | May 18, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

This week superweeds threaten the US food supply, McDonald’s says soda is a fruit and vitamins that cause cancer.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Delicious. I also share links on Twitter @summertomatoGoogle+ 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).

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Feb 17, 2012

For The Love of Food

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

This week McDonald’s comes up with a game changer, Dr. Oz proves once again that he’s a scumbag, and science gives us a few more reasons to eat fish.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. 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.

Links of the week

What inspired you this week?

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For The Love Of Food

by | Jan 28, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

Junk food got even more bad press than usual this week. I love it! I’m not too happy about the GM alfalfa though. I also found a fantastic article about sustainable seafood and some interesting research on meditation.

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 a complete list of my favorite stories check out my links on Digg. 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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Don’t Eat This, Don’t Eat That: How To Eat Healthy Without Fast Food

by | Jun 9, 2010
Quarter Pounder

Quarter Pounder

Last week in For The Love of Food I called out Men’s Health as B.S. of the Week for their article, “Eat healthy at the airport.” There seems to be a growing trend in the number of weight loss programs that support eating fast food. The idea is that some menu items have slightly fewer calories than others and do not contribute (as much?) to weight gain.

It is true you can lose weight eating anything (so long as you do not eat very much of it), but that does not make eating fast food a good idea. What is misleading about these programs is the grossly inappropriate use of the word “healthy.”

Credit the book Eat This, Not That for this special brand of quackery on which Men’s Health bases their article. They begin with the example of McDonald’s (because, you know, where else are you supposed to go eat?) and suggest you order the Quarter Pounder without cheese (and without fries and soda) over the Premium Grilled Chicken Club.

The reason?

The Quarter Pounder has only 410 calories compared to the 570 calories of the chicken sandwich, a 30% reduction.

To me this sounds the same as saying 7 cigarettes is healthier than 10 cigarettes.

Sure it might be “better” to smoke a little less, but do you really believe you are doing yourself any favors? You’re still ingesting something toxic. Would you be happy if China promised to put a little less melamine in your child’s baby formula?

After decades of consuming slightly smaller doses of poison is it logical to think you’d be a more sprightly 80 year old than you would have been eating full dose poison? I don’t think so.

Rationalizing

Rationalization is the name of the game here:

“Some people are going to eat fast food no matter what, it might as well have fewer calories.”

“It’s impractical to not eat fast food. What if I’m in a hurry?”

“There’s nothing else to eat at the airport, do you want me to starve?”

“I cannot afford to eat anything healthier. Value meals are the best!”

“I just eat crap then spend extra time in the gym, so it balances out.”

“I love junk food and could never stop eating at McDonald’s.”

*shiver*

The problem with all these faux arguments is that they are based on the assumption that fast food is an inevitable part of life, too powerful to resist or avoid. My guess is we can thank the McDonald’s marketing team for this twisted bit of psychology, but that does not mean we have to accept it.

Here is why those arguments don’t hold water:

  • The “fact” that some people will continue to eat fast food does not preclude the need to have a diet that endorses it.
  • There is always something to eat besides fast food. In fact, there was actually a time when Burger King didn’t exist!
  • A few healthy-ish options can be found at the airport, but if you do a tiny bit of planning beforehand you don’t have to be stuck eating there in the first place. Another thing to consider is that starving would be healthier, since caloric restriction has been consistently shown to improve health, prevent disease and extend life. (But don’t worry, going hungry isn’t necessary.)
  • The organic kale and tempeh I ate for dinner last night cost the same (~$3.50) as that flaccid Quarter Pounder in the photo, and smelled 1000% better (yeah, I actually bought one). [For the record: I did ask for it without cheese and they just botched my order–can you imagine it looking even more tasteless? Blah. So much for tricking yourself into eating fewer calories.]
  • Working out is very important for your health, but it does not give you essential vitamins, minerals and all the other wonderful things offered by whole foods–exercise cannot substitute for a healthy diet.
  • There is room in your healthstyle for any food on special occasions. Personally I prefer to use my occasions for exquisite (rather than cheap) meals, but for some of you special may mean going out with the guys for game night or a road trip from L.A. to S.F. (i.e. the In-N-Out in Kettleman City). What is important is that you make sure foods that do not contribute (or are detrimental) to your health make up an extremely small proportion of your diet.

The Real Problem

I contend that the real issue is not that there is nothing else to eat besides fast food, but that we are not trained to recognize any other option. There is a whole world of food out there that does not include unsanitary chain restaurants.

The little secret those of us who don’t eat fast food know is that this other world is far tastier than the one of processed foods and chain restaurants. Also, the convenience factor is easily overcome if you approach it right.

The Answers

Your first defense against eating foods you didn’t plan for (isn’t that what fast food really is?) is to make sure you have a plan. Always.

Rule #1 is to know what, when and where you are going to eat all your meals throughout the day by the time you leave your house in the morning. Not doing this is setting yourself up for an uh-oh. If you are not able to know for certain the specifics of your meal plans, at least try to envision the most likely scenarios and think of ways to make them as healthy as possible. Trust me, these decisions are a lot easier if you make them before you are starving and willing to eat a deep-fried shoe.

Rule #2 is to always have a back up plan. Is there any chance that your friend will bail on you for dinner? Or that you will get stuck at work so long your neighborhood grocery will close? In cases like this it is best to have a plan B. I keep stuff in my freezer and pantry that can be whipped up at any given moment. I also store food in my desk at work for emergencies.

My go-to back up plan is carrying a small bag of nuts like almonds or cashews around with me where ever I go. That way I have something to snack on until I can get myself into a more favorable eating environment. Keep a small bag of nuts in your purse, glove compartment of your car, gym bag, desk drawer or carry on luggage. Your hidden snack should be in whatever container you will be sure to have with you at all times.

Nuts make a particularly good snack because their high fat and protein content (the super good-for-you kinds) make them very satisfying. One day when you are not starving try eating exactly 8 almonds, take a sip of water and wait half an hour. For me, this usually staves off hunger for at least another 45-60 minutes, and sometimes up to 2 hours.

It is more difficult to restrict your intake to 8 or 10 nuts when you are starving, however. But it is easier to exercise self-control if you believe (through experience) that a certain quantity is sufficient to satisfy your appetite. This is why I recommend you try this once before you find yourself in an emergency situation.

If for some reason you end up hungry and do not have your handy bag of nuts, you still have non-Whopper options:

  • Grocery stores Most grocery stores have fresh sections with cut up vegetables, fruits, hummus, lean meats and lots of other healthy items (nuts included). Pretend like you are having a picnic and nibble on a few of these things instead or resorting to the drive-thru. You will get plenty of calories, I promise.
  • Delis A small sandwich with lean meats and vegetables is a pretty good, easy option if you can find a deli. I would not call this an ideal meal, but it’s better than a BigMac for sure.
  • Non-chain restaurants If I am resigned to eating in a restaurant I haven’t planned on the first thing I look for is a non-chain restaurant, preferably a place that specializes in soups, salads and sandwiches. These places are usually well stocked in vegetables and often boast organic produce. They can be a little pricier than a Happy Meal, but it is worth it if you don’t have to eat a gray colored mystery meat patty, right?
  • Colorful plates Wherever I decide to dine, I search the menu for dishes that sound like they have a high percentage of vegetables, preferably multicolored. Ordering a side salad or vegetables instead of potatoes is an easy way to accomplish this mission.
  • Little bread Giant servings of generic, processed breads made of refined white flour are the biggest problem at most mediocre restaurants. If you can, try to order something that doesn’t require too much bread. This is especially true if you will be sitting on an airplane for the next several hours.
  • Avoid cheese Cheese is delicious and I love to eat it occasionally. However, it is common these days for restaurants to bury plates in cheese to mask the crappy ingredients they used for the rest of the dish. Chili’s low quality cheese is hardly worth the extra few hundred calories being used to cover up the fattening, mediocre food you ordered.
  • No sweets Sugar is one of the most dangerous things you can eat and should always be consumed with caution. We all love desserts, but you will be much better off saving your sweet tooth for truly special occasions. Airport terminals really aren’t that special.
  • Healthy fats I go out of my way to find healthy fats like nuts, fish and salad oils when I am eating solely to satisfy my hunger. These fats will make sure you stay full as long as possible.
  • Lean proteins As far as satisfaction goes, what is true for fats is true for proteins. Because they digest so slowly proteins help you feel full longer. Fish, eggs, nuts, beans and even whole grains like brown rice can give your meal a more satisfying impact.
  • Eat simply When you are eating on-the-go and in restaurants you are unsure about, your best bet is to stick to simple items. Avoid menu descriptors like glazed, gooey, cheesy, creamy, fiesta, piled, smothered, etc. Sauces are really a problem at airport-style restaurants. Stick to predictable items to keep yourself out of trouble. A turkey sandwich or chop salad are usually pretty safe.

The basic message is to find fresh foods and eat as balanced as possible. No matter what you order this is probably not going to be the most delicious meal of your life, so you may as well try to make it as healthy as possible. A little planning–like eating before heading to the airport–can go a long way in saving special occasions for food that is truly special.

What are the biggest obstacles you encounter when stuck somewhere without food?

Article was originally published June 3, 2009.

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For The Love Of Food

by | Mar 26, 2010

For The Love of Food

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

I was so focused on finding new material to share with you that I nearly forgot that yesterday was the 1 year birthday of Summer Tomato! Thanks to all of you who have supported me and this blog over the past 12 months. I can’t tell you how much your kind and thoughtful emails and comments mean to me. I feel blessed everyday to have such an amazing community of people who love life, food and health as much as I do, and I look forward to much more to come. Cheers!

I also want to remind you that Summer Tomato readers can still get 20% off all online purchases at Samovar Tea Lounge until March 31. Samovar has amazing teas and tea accessories. I definitely recommend browsing their shop if you’re a tea fan.

Use the code: summertea at checkout to apply the discount.

There was some interesting news this week (and some BS called) on both saturated fat and high-fructose corn syrup, the foods Americans love to hate. The science is complicated, so be sure to read the stories carefully. Also don’t miss the video of Kevin Rose and Tim Ferriss causing trouble down at my beloved San Francisco Ferry Building.

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

What made your meals happy this week?

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For The Love of Food

by | Dec 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.

I’m back! Sorry for being MIA the past few weeks. But you’ll be happy to hear my thesis committee meeting is over and I aced it. That means I will, finally, get my PhD in 2010. Woohoo!

Also thanks to all of you voted for me in the Wellsphere HealthBlogger Awards! I came in 8th! Not bad for just starting campaigning for votes last Friday. Thanks everyone!!!

Not all the links below are from this week since I had to include a few of the gems I’ve collected since Thanksgiving. I’ve also shared the latest info on BPA, which is getting worse.

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).

10 Best Links of the Week

Did you miss me?

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McDonald’s Switches to 100% Grass-fed Beef

by | Apr 1, 2009

mcdonalds-cow-in-grass

UPDATE: April Fools!

Fast food mega-chain McDonald’s has just announced it will be making all its burgers from 100% grass-fed beef by the end of 2010.

McDonald’s is the largest purchaser of beef in the United States, serving more than 47 million customers daily. Since the company was founded in 1940, their beef has been supplied by feedlot livestock raised predominantly on a diet of corn and soy. As the first major fast food chain to make the shift away from traditional corn-fed beef, McDonald’s is hoping to be a leader in a new era of responsible fast food.

A spokesman for the company says the effort is motivated by consumer demand for safer, healthier products, as well as concern for the environment.

“The nation is ready for change and McDonald’s wants to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

The new grass-fed cattle used by McDonald’s will also be free of antibiotics, which are only necessarily when livestock are artificially fattened on grains. Grass-fed cows are healthier and do not produce as much toxic waste as cows reared on feedlots, but they also mature more slowly. As a result, more time and money are required to raise grass-fed cows. McDonald’s acknowledges that this will result in a substantial 40% increase in the price of their burgers, but believes consumers are willing to pay for the added health and safety.

“Consumers are nervous about the increasingly dangerous problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that results when livestock are given large amounts of drugs, as they are on feedlots. By switching to grass-fed beef, we believe McDonald’s can play a substantial role in reducing this risk.”

The company is also aware of the positive impact this move may have on greenhouse gas emissions. It has been reported that nearly 20% of all greenhouse gases are produced by cattle, even more than are produced by automobiles and transport. They are hoping that their move away from corn-fed beef will encourage more environmentally friendly practices by the beef industry.

This new project is part of an ongoing effort by McDonald’s to offer more high-quality, environmentally friendly items to consumers. McDonald’s began serving organic milk in the U.K. in 2003 and premium coffee was added to U.S. menus in 2006. But the switch to grass-fed beef is by far the most significant “green” change any fast food chain has made to date.

The shift has only been announced for U.S. restaurants, but insiders suggest grass-fed beef may reach global consumers by 2012.

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