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Summer Tomato Holiday Wish List 2014

by | Dec 1, 2014

santadog

Thanksgiving is over and the time for holiday shopping has started for foodists everywhere. Each year I compile a list of my favorite foodist gadgets and obsessions.

This year I have been all about learning, and have spent an extraordinary amount of time reading, listening to audiobooks, and taking online courses. The stuff listed here is more food and health centric, but I’ve been reading a ton of psychology and self-help as well.

I’ve also discovered a few new favorite toys that would make excellent stocking stuffers. Plus there’s some old standbys that no foodist should live without.

Happy Holidays!

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9 Tips to Eat Without Guilt This Holiday Weekend

by | Jun 30, 2014

Photo by rushdi13

For many newly minted foodists, the upcoming long holiday weekend will be the first real test of your new anti-dieting healthstyle that embraces real food and enjoyment.

Although it can be a little challenging to get started, switching from a dieter’s mindset to a foodist’s mindset is fairly straightforward when we’re in the comfort of our normal lives. But when confronted with a situation where we have multiple days of sun, fun and celebration, fear of sugar, fat and binges can easily seep in.

Can we really handle all this freedom?

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Foodist Approved: Southern Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens and Quinoa Salad

by | Jan 1, 2014
Black-eyed peas and collard greens quinoa salad

Black-eyed peas with collard greens and quinoa salad

This recipe is inspired by my Southern roots. In the South we eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day for good luck. Tradition says that eating these cute beans leads to a prosperous year.

Typically this dish is cooked in pork fat. I decided to skip the oink and instead created a vibrant salad. After all the holiday overindulging we need a little help detoxifying our digestive systems.

This recipe contains plenty of foods rich in fiber and phytonutrients, two things crucial to cleaning the ol’ pipes of toxins. You can make it ahead and pack for lunch all week to ensure you start your year right.

Here’s to a delicious 2014!
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Foodist Approved: Maple Coconut Macaroons

by | Dec 18, 2013
Foodist Approved: Maple Coconut Macaroons

Foodist Approved: Maple Coconut Macaroons

As I wrote in my previous post, the holidays are a time to indulge a little. So I asked Darya what she thought about mixing things up from our usual recipes packed with green veggies.

Darya’s response?

It’s a freaking treat and it’s the holidays, enjoy it already.”

Love it! So in honor of that, get excited! We’re about to make some very beautiful coconut macaroons, one of my favorite sweet indulgences. These macaroons (with chocolate drizzled on top) remind me so much of Samoas Girl Scout cookies, did you ever eat those as a kid? They were my favorite.

But, of course, seeing that this is Summer Tomato, these aren’t your typical store-bought coconut macaroons loaded with a pound of white sugar. I just couldn’t go that low.

My macaroons are made with real maple syrup and are free of refined sugar. And I promise you they’re not just as good as your usual macaroons, but better!

I love macaroons because they’re small and satisfying. And if you want, you can drizzle them in chocolate and sprinkle with crushed pistachios to make an extra fancy treat, one perfect for impressing your holiday guests.

And just in case you need one more excuse to indulge, did you know coconut is high in fiber, healthy fat, vitamins and minerals?

P.S. My macaroons are also gluten-free. Just make sure you’re buying gluten-free chocolate chips if you have an intolerance.
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Summer Tomato Holiday Wish List 2013

by | Dec 9, 2013

Photo by wsilver

As my healthstyle has evolved over the years I’ve acquired an arsenal of tools that are indispensable for keeping me on track. This year’s wish list has all my latest and greatest obsessions, as well as a few old standbys I can’t live without.

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Don’t Be Afraid of Thanksgiving

by | Nov 25, 2013

Photo by St0rmz

When I was a teenager Thanksgiving was my least favorite holiday. Not only did I hate that it was centered almost exclusively around food, it also signified the beginning of a holiday season filled with cookies, cakes, pies, pastries and all my other sworn enemies.

Thanksgiving meant needing to ramp up my willpower not just for a day, or a four-day weekend, but for the next six weeks. I was terrified.

For anyone who consistently worries about their weight, Thanksgiving can be scary. Fear of falling off the wagon, undoing all the work you put in over the summer, and ending the year worse off than you started is pretty close to your worst nightmare.

It’s daunting. But it doesn’t need to be.

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6 Ways Eating Out Causes Overeating (And How To Stop It)

by | Apr 22, 2013

Photo by Sebastian Fritzon

Among my health conscious friends, we unanimously agree that eating out is the biggest barrier to weight loss.

San Francisco residents are fortunate that local, high-quality ingredients are the standard in almost every dining establishment (same is true for NYC, LA and other US foodie cities). We have gastropubs serving up grass-fed beef burgers, street carts offering sustainable fish tacos and small neighborhood spots dishing up heirloom vegetables and artisan ingredients.

I know, we’re spoiled rotten. But there’s a downside to all these wonderful options.

Ironically, the problem is that everything tastes amazing and is relatively healthy. Also, the menus tend to change regularly (often daily) depending on what is in season. So there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever be able to enjoy a particular dish more than once.

These things make it really easy to justify overeating.

There are many factors that cause us to overeat when we’re out. Here are the most common, and what to do about them.
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5 Classic Super Bowl Foods That Are Surprisingly Healthy

by | Jan 28, 2013

Photo by Надя Антонова / Nadja Antonova

Healthy eating is important, but sometimes on special occasions you just don’t want to compromise. Luckily, sometimes you don’t have to.

Some of the most classic Super Bowl foods actually aren’t as bad for you as most people think. Just make sure that real, good-quality ingredients are used in all your recipes and enjoy.

5 Classic Super Bowl Foods That Are Surprisingly Healthy

1. Chili

Beans, tomatoes, onions, spices and grass-fed beef are the things healthy meals are made of—just don’t forget to eat some leafy greens at some point during the day.

Really good chili doesn’t require cheese, but if you can’t live without it just make sure you get real cheddar and not the processed fake stuff. Check the ingredients.

2. Chicken wings

Chicken wings are tasty, and depending on what you put on them they can be healthy as well. What’s important is that you avoid breading and sweet sauces. Traditional Buffalo wings are probably not the best option (they’re breaded and fried), but Chef John’s famous Super Bowl pastrami wings would be perfect.

3. Guacamole

I’d be lying if I said you didn’t have to watch your portions with guacamole—it’s easy to eat a lot and it is very high in calories. But fortunately it is very filling and all the calories are of the healthy variety. The monounsaturated fats in avocados are very effective at raising healthy HDL cholesterol, without negatively impacting other blood measures.

4. Salsa

Of course there can be no talking about Guacamole without mentioning his fiery little sister Salsa. On the health front, you can’t beat the combo of tomatoes, onions, chili, cilantro and lime, and it tastes good on pretty much anything. So go nuts, you can enjoy this one guilt free.

5. Bean dip

Black bean dip is a classic at Super Bowl parties. If you start with dried beans and soak them overnight before cooking and pureeing them for the dip, you can even avoid the digestive issues most people associate with legume consumption. If you’re tired of Mexican flavors (the ingredients are similar to those in salsa and guacamole) try using chickpeas in a Mediterranean-style hummus instead.

What are your favorite Super Bowl recipes?

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6 Tips To Make Dessert Worth It

by | Dec 12, 2012

Never trust anyone who believes dessert isn’t an essential part of life.

There may be some small, joyless percentage of the population who can live indefinitely without sugar, but in my experience those who attempt it are kidding themselves and will inevitably fail.

Sugar is wonderful sometimes, and in general it is easier to find a way to live with it than without it.

But I’m not here to propagate any illusions either. The scientific literature makes it is pretty clear that sugars, specifically sucrose (table sugar) and fructose (the sweet stuff in fruit and corn syrup), are some of the worst foods you can eat and should generally be considered dangerous.

Sugars promote aging, weight gain and most chronic diseases. Sugar is also regarded as addictive by many in the field of obesity and weight loss.

So how should you deal with it?

Keeping desserts in perspective goes a long way to helping you make smart choices.

Keep these tips in mind to make sure the desserts you choose are worth it.

6 Tips To Optimize Your Dessert Choices

1. Make it formal

Self-control is not the easiest thing to practice when dessert is involved. You probably know this from experience.

Make a rule for yourself to not eat dessert in an informal setting. That is, do not eat sweets between meals and always sit down and be fully present when you eat treats.

Resist the piles of cookies, brownies and candies set out around the house. If you do choose to eat one, do not make light of it. Sit down with a chair, table and napkin and enjoy every bite.

Try to wait until after a meal so you are eating for indulgence and not to satisfy your hunger. Trying to feel full from dessert is a losing battle (see tip #4).

2. Size matters

Dessert has an obscene amount of calories. I know this is not fun to think about, but you should be aware that if you are eating something with sugar and fat there is an excellent chance you are putting down 50-100 calories PER BITE.

A single Godiva or See’s truffle runs at about 100 calories. A slice of Oreo cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory has 600-800 calories. It is hard to overemphasize how huge this really is. If you eat a reasonably healthy diet, this is likely more calories than you consume in an entire meal.

When you do sit down and eat dessert, remember that you do not have to eat everything that is put in front of you. The first two bites are always the most satisfying. There is no need to test the hypothesis that the 12th bite doesn’t live up to them.

3. Make an allowance

You should keep tabs on how often you eat dessert, and one or two per week is a reasonable goal for someone looking to maintain their weight. Zero to one serving is best for someone trying to lose weight.

For most people, weekly allowances are easier to manage than daily or monthly allowances.

Rules likes this help you make smarter choices. Do you really want to waste your only treat this week on a cookie from a box or a cake from Costco?

If you are ever going to be a picky eater, dessert is the best place to turn up your nose.

4. Don’t treat yourself when hungry

Sugar does not satisfy hunger. In fact, repeated sugar exposure creates spikes and dips in blood sugar that make you feel hungry again sooner than you should.

For this reason, sugary foods should never be substituted for real food and you should not rely on them to satisfy your hunger. Not only is this ineffective, it also makes it more likely you will overeat. Remember tips #1 and #2 and eat your small desserts after a real meal.

5. Eat healthy meals

Having an overall healthy, balanced diet is another effective way to avoid dessert binges. If you already feel satisfied with what you have eaten, dessert will truly be a treat and not an overcompensation for poor nutrition.

Healthy meals can also go far to prevent emotional eating, since they help create a feeling of fulfillment, comfort and satisfaction.

6. Stay on the bandwagon

Slip-ups happen with dessert, and it is not the end of the world.

Remember point #2, that size matters.

Just as 5 bites of dessert is much, much better than 10 bites of dessert, one slip-up is better than 3-4 slip-ups. Don’t let one holiday uh-oh send you into a week of unbridled gluttony.

When it comes to sugar, less is always better. Avoid the temptation to throw in the towel.

Are your desserts worth it?

Originally published December 21, 2009.

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Summer Tomato Holiday Wish List 2012

by | Dec 10, 2012

Photo by apparena

For this year’s holiday wish list I focus on the gear that I cannot live without. Whether the foodist in your life is new in the kitchen or a seasoned chef, there’s almost certainly something here they’ll love. Happy shopping!

Summer Tomato Holiday Wish List 2012

1. Mercado farmer market bag $24.99

One of the things I’m most proud of this year is the launch of Mercado, the farmers market bag I helped design over at Quirky. I’ve been using mine religiously for over eight months, and don’t know how I ever shopped without it. On big shopping days (e.g. Saturdays at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market) I use two to get all my produce home safe and unblemished.

2. Fitbit One $99.95

I’ve been using the new Fitbit One for the past couple months and love it. The new design is sleek and much more durable than older models. The display is also much sharper and easier to read. The Fitbit is still the best simple pedometer I’ve found to ensure I get my daily 10,000 steps. Tracking your weight is one of the most effective ways to find trouble spots in your healthstyle.

3. Fitbit Aria scale $129.95

If weight control is one of your goals, monitoring your progress is essential. Now that Fitbit has created their own wireless digital scale you can have your activity and body weight data in the same convenient place, making it easier to stay on track.

4.  Scanpan cookeware $91.73

I know that non-stick cookware is controversial, but I’ve still always preferred it since it is so much easier to clean and I don’t like spending any more time in the kitchen than I have to. Earlier this year I discovered Scanpans, which are eco-friendly, non-toxic pans that are dishwasher safe—it’s like all my dreams have come true. They can be a bit pricey, but I think they’re an investment worth making. I originally planned to recommend the two pan set, but it is already back ordered. This 10 1/4 inch fry pan is a good place to start.

5. The 4-Hour Chef $21

I think this book by Tim Ferriss would make an excellent gift for anyone who has just moved out of the home or out of the dorms, and needs to learn to cook on their own. It’s a simple, easy to follow cooking lessons that can take anyone from clueless to proficient in the kitchen. I recently wrote a full review of this book if you’d like to know more.

6. Le Creuset French Oven $256.99

I got my Le Creuset French oven as a graduation gift back in 2010, and use it constantly. I’ve been reluctant to recommend a $350 pot, but I also know it’s an amazing gift to receive and is worth every penny. Also, I found it on Amazon for $100 less than mine was from the super fancy cookware store, so now is as good a time as any to splurge.

7. Yogourmet Electric Yogurt Maker $49.95

Another new hobby in my household this year is yogurt making. We got this electric yogurt maker and have been using it to create our own batches of creamy yogurt, that I now eat almost daily. It’s fun to play around with different kinds of milk and starter cultures. I learned that if I choose pasture-raised dairy (e.g. Straus Organic milk), my skin doesn’t break out like it does when I use more industrially produced organic milks. Cool, right?

8. Aeropress $25.95

Though we still drink lots of tea, coffee is also a big part of our lives. Since I was in high school I’ve experimented with drip, French press, stove top Bialetti, espresso makers, cold brews and more, but by far my favorite device is the Aeropress. Not only does it make the best tasting coffee, it’s also the easiest to clean. And for $25, you can’t beat it. For the ultimate coffee experience invest in the stainless steel filter ($16.50) as well.

9. Sous Vide Supreme $429

When we first got our sous vide machine, I honestly didn’t think we’d use it much. The grill and stove top had always worked perfectly fine for me, and sous vide seemed like an extra step that felt unnecessary. I was wrong. The food we make using the sous vide, including vegetables and eggs, but mostly fish and meat, inevitably turns out better when we use the sous vide. The machine uses a water bath to get to a uniform temperature throughout the food you’re cooking, so it always turns out exactly how you want it. If it’s meat, that means you can hit that perfect medium rare, then just finish it on the grill for flavor. It’s cooked perfectly, and the food spends less time at high heat, which is a known source of cancer causing compounds. We use ours constantly.

Happy holidays!

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