Sign up

You deserve to feel great, look great & LOVE your body

Enter your email for your FREE starter kit to get healthy & lose weight without dieting:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

For The Love Of Food

by | Jun 24, 2011

For The Love of Food

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

Our oceans seem to be in much worse shape than anyone imagined, food irradiation is back in the forefront of discussions and someone wants to feed you a shit sandwich. All this and more today in my top 10 food and health articles of the week.

Want to see all my favorite links? Be sure to follow me on on Digg. I also share links on Twitter (@summertomato) and the Summer Tomato Facebook fan 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?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

8 Inspiring Places To Find Recipe Ideas

by | Apr 27, 2011
Foodie Inspiration

Foodie Inspiration

Healthy eating and cooking for yourself go hand in hand. If you have the resources it is possible to eat healthy while dining out, but restaurants that don’t use processed foods can be difficult to find and tend to be pricey. They also limit you to a handful of different dishes that can become monotonous if you rely on them for most of your meals.

But keeping your healthstyle interesting can be a challenge even if you cook for yourself. Although shopping in season inevitably rotates you through new ingredients over the course of the year, we can still slip into the pattern of making the same dishes over and over again. And while repetition can be easy and comforting, it can also be problematic.

Monotony and boredom are your enemies if you are trying to make healthy eating a way of life; junk food will be extra tempting simply because it’s more interesting than the same boring meal you’ve had 10 times before.

To keep yourself from getting in a cooking rut you must actively seek inspiration for new dishes and flavor combinations. This is true for both kitchen newbies and seasoned chefs, and it gets easier with practice. The more you learn to outsource your creativity and experiment, the better you get at finding meal ideas in your daily life.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. These are some places I often find new ideas, but you are only limited by your imagination.

8 Places To Cook Up Recipe Inspiration

1. Farmers markets

My number one source of inspiration is always the beautiful produce and other goodies I find each week at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Not only do I often find interesting new ingredients to experiment with, I also find familiar foods that look so fresh and delicious I can’t help but buy them and turn them into something wonderful.

If you are thinking about buying something but do not know how to cook it, ask the vendor for ideas or common preparations. I recommend you get anything that looks new and interesting, since most vegetables are relatively cheap and Google puts a universe of recipes at your fingertips.

2. Restaurants

Most major cities (San Francisco especially) are home to amazingly talented and innovative chefs of all different styles and flavors. Steal their ideas! If you have a memorable meal while out on the town, take mental notes on the flavors and textures that capture its essence. You don’t have to be able to recreate it exactly at home, but you can definitely borrow the concept, simplify it and adapt it to your own skills and needs.

For example, I was recently struck by a dish at a spectacular restaurant that was composed of beets with dill–a flavor combination I had never tried. The dish was technically complicated and I wouldn’t bother attempting to make it the same way, but later that week I did roast some beets and change up my usual recipe to include dill instead of mint (sans chèvre). Turned out fantastic.

3. Food blogs

The number of outstanding food blogs today on the interwebs is staggering, and I love to skim through them looking for wonderful recipe ideas. I can’t even begin to list all my favorite sites here, but I try to highlight at least one mouthwatering recipe each week in For The Love of Food posts.

4. Travel

Nothing inspires enthusiasm for new flavors and recipes like traveling to a different locale. Eating traditional cuisines–the way they are supposed to be made–is one of the most intimate and meaningful ways to engage with a culture. Learn a few of the cuisine’s basic ingredients and cooking techniques and you can bring a tiny bit of your experience home with you. Think of this process as a procedural photograph you can use to remember your trip.

Again, you don’t have to recreate dishes exactly the same way in your own kitchen. Sometimes just a single special ingredient can evoke an entire cultural experience.

5. Friends

We all have that friend who is an amazing cook (love you guys!). Not only does this person sometimes hook you up with delicious treats, chances are your foodie friend also loves to talk about food and cooking. This is a goldmine for new ideas and sometimes even a little help and guidance. Maintain a healthy, food-centric relationship with this person and watch the inspiration roll in.

(Hint: If you don’t have a friend like this come hang out with me on Twitter @summertomato)

6. Books

Cookbooks are wonderful but, to be honest, I rarely use them. The reason is that I’m usually too busy to bother lugging the giant things off the shelf and thumbing through them for something specific. I usually either wing it in the kitchen or search online for what I need.

Literature, however, can be a huge inspiration for me to try out new things in the kitchen. It wasn’t until I read The Moor’s Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie that I really started exploring Indian cooking. The Last Chinese Chef helped me learn to appreciate the depth of Chinese cuisine. And I cannot eat enough Spanish tapas when I’m reading Hemingway.

7. Podcasts and radio

I love Mondays because all my favorite food podcasts are waiting on my iPhone for me to listen to on my commute. Both entertaining and educational, foodie podcasts never fail to inspire me to try new foods and cooking methods. They also make me a better cook by describing tips and techniques I am unfamiliar with.

8. TV

Although I do not watch TV regularly, there was a time when I would catch a periodic episode of Top Chef or other foodie show. What I enjoyed most about these programs was the times they would explain the decision making process that goes into creating a dish. But even if culinary improvisation isn’t in your cards, you can at least borrow their ideas (just like at a restaurant) and make similar meals for yourself at home. The recipes used are often posted online.

You can also get meal ideas from TV dramas and sitcoms. Remember Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi? That’s where I first learned about mulligatawny.

Recipe inspiration can come from anywhere, but if you aren’t looking for it a stroke of genius may pass you by.

Where do you get your inspiration in the kitchen?StumbleUpon.com

Originally published February 24, 2010.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Farmers Market Update: Prepping for Asilomar

by | Sep 20, 2009
Hawaiian Apples

Hawaiian Apples

My goal at the farmers market today was to get everything I need to survive the next few days at the annual neuroscience department retreat at the Asilomar conference grounds in Monterey, CA. Last year they served us some of the most unspeakably disgusting food I’ve ever eaten in my life, and budget cuts forecast this year to be even worse.

Almost certainly I’ll be stuck eating fewer calories than usual, but I like to have a few of my own things to make sure I am at least somewhat nourished. For a complete rundown of what I’m bringing, watch the 3 minute video clip below.

How do you survive conferences and events that serve horrible food?

Since I also won’t be cooking dinners or making salads at work for the next few days, I didn’t buy my usual cornucopia of vegetables this week. But I certainly wanted to!

Peaches and Pomegranates

Peaches and Pomegranates

Pumpkins

Pumpkins

The seasons are changing before my eyes. Autumn fruits like pomegranates, pears, grapes and apples are downright abundant. You can also find pumpkins, carrots and beets, all wonderful for roasting in the fall. (Try this recipe for delicious roasted beets with mint and chevre).

I even found chestnuts at K & J Orchards!

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Chestnuts

Chestnuts

I learned today that Brussels sprout season is early this year (it usually starts in October-November). I decided to buy some since I know they will keep well until I return on Tuesday. They are really small right now, which is how you want them for the best taste. I used to hate Brussels sprouts, but have since learned the error of my ways.

Roasting Pimentos

Roasting Pimentos

Peppers and Eggplants

Peppers and Eggplants

The good news for those of us who adore summer produce is that most of it is still spectacular. Tomatoes, peaches, plums, zucchini, melon, peppers (oh the peppers!), eggplant, figs, okra and green beans are what I’m going to focus on for the next few weeks while they are still around.

Paw Paw Ice Cream

Paw Paw Ice Cream

Oh, and if you’re a fan of paw paws, Langier Ranches made up some paw paw ice cream you can get for only $1!

Today’s purchases:

What did you find at the farmers market this week?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,