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For The Love Of Food

by | Aug 27, 2010

For The Love of Food

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

Really good reading this week. I love Marion Nestle’s commentary on meat substitutes, as well a bunch of well-designed studies linking nutrition and the brain. And definitely don’t miss Time magazine calling out the crappy Twitter streams of the culinary glitterati. Ha!

Great news, the new Digg is finally open to the public. That means all of you can now see the stories I’m Digging throughout the week if you visit my profile or follow me: If you’re using the new Digg and are finding cool foodie/healthy/geeky stories, feel free to leave your username in the comments and I’ll check out what you’re up to.

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 reading list join me on the new Digg or StumbleUpon. I’m very active on all these sites and would love to connect with you.

Links of the week

  • Do we need meat substitutes? <<Real meat is better for you than fake meat. If you’re vegetarian, there are many better options. (Food Politics)
  • Drinking Water Proven To Help Weight Loss <<This was a popular story online this week. But, for the record, drinking water didn’t help young people (under 50) lose weight. (Discovery News)
  • 8 Common Foods (That Are Poisonous) <<BS of the week. Media sensationalism doing what it does best. At least there’s enough humor in this one that I assume they know they’re full of it. (Houston Press)
  • A short period of gluttony can have a lasting effect <<Looks like occasionally “letting yourself go” is a really bad idea. So is occasionally dieting, btw. Your body is very adaptable and can absorb an occasional slip up (especially if you exercise), but don’t make it a regular habit. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Exercising Restores Sensitivity of Neurons That Make One Feel Full <<This is a really cool finding. Often overweight people have trouble re-adapting to normal eating portions if they’ve been overeating for many years, but this data suggests exercise may help restore normal appetite. Also helps you slim down and look awesome. Win! Win! (ScienceDaily)
  • Vit D linked to cancer, autoimmune disease genes <<Scientists discovered that vitamin D interacts with at least 200 different genes, including those linked to cancer and MS. This is a possible mechanism by which it offers benefits, and a reminder that it is really important. (Medline)
  • Twitter Streams of the Food Gods: Pretty Thin Soup <<I guess I’m not the only who noticed that the Twitter streams of food celebs totally suck. Ditto health celebs. My favorite people to follow tweet infrequently and are witty, insightful and almost always share useful and/or funny info. I try to hold myself to those standards. (Time)
  • Link Between Diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease Strengthened <<This is actually a lot cooler than it sounds. Normally studies do a poor job linking insulin resistance to Alzheimer’s because diagnosing the disease is tricky. To be 100% sure someone has AD you need to perform an autopsy and see plaques in the brain. Otherwise it could be a different kind of dementia. In this study the end measure is plaques. (Medline)
  • How berries can help your brain clean house <<Antioxidants called polyphenols apparently activate microglia (the forgotten nerve cells) in the brain. Cool! (The Globe and Mail)
  • FDA Approves Salmonella <<This is so right on it’s scary. And hilarious. I <3 The Onion.

What inspired you this week?

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31 Fun[ny] Things To Do With A Cast Iron Skillet

by | Feb 17, 2010


I recently acquired a cast iron skillet and have been dreamily brainstorming all the fun I get to have with it.

Obviously my first adventure had to be this Spanish tortilla recipe, which turned out awesome. But I also had visions of recreating my grandmother’s slow-cooked spaghetti sauce and being able to make perfect steaks in my BBQ-less apartment.

But I knew there had to be more I could do with such a big, heavy object–so I turned to the coolest people I know for suggestions:



I must admit, my favorite answers didn’t exactly involve food:


But by far the most touching reply I received was a link to a Posterous post from @GregKnottLeMond. I encourage you to click over and read it, it’s short and sweet:


The post describes how the adorable skillet bird above came to be:

For @SummerTomato ‘s Consideration

The creativity was not, of course, restricted to metallic critters and demolition:


These blogs that specialize in cast iron cookware were also recommended:

Cooking In Cast Iron

Black Iron Blog

Derek on Cast Iron

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the collective inspiration! Here is my consolidated list of ideas:

  1. Clonk someone (@thescramble)
  2. Cure alcoholism (@mcnee)
  3. Bicep curls (@JeffACSH)
  4. Nut crackin’ (@RtReview)
  5. End a romance (@cookerguy)
  6. Fry chicken (@cookerguy)
  7. Break stuff (@cookerguy)
  8. Work on two-handed tennis backhand (@cookerguy)
  9. Fight zombies (@benhamill)
  10. Frame a picture (@omewan)
  11. Plant bonzai trees (@omewan)
  12. Stop burglars à la Home Alone (@leslieconn)
  13. Burn thermite (@mcnee)
  14. Hit John Mayer (@foodiemcbody)
  15. Make metal critters (@GregKnottLeMond)
  16. Deep dish pizza (@bob_koss)
  17. Squeeze paneer (@newtomato)
  18. Burgers (@thescramble)
  19. Steaks (@thescramble)
  20. Corn bread (@lonelygourmet)
  21. Spoon bread (?) (@virginiagriffey)
  22. Roast meats (@jameswcooper)
  23. Crustless pies (@blee27)
  24. Pancakes (@bob_koss)
  25. Sauté zucchini (@JeffACSH)
  26. Pineapple upside-down cake (@HeatherHAL)
  27. Hashbrowns (@arielmanx)
  28. Seared meat (@arielmanx)
  29. Spanish tortilla (@FBloggersUnite)
  30. Bibimbap (@annemai)
  31. Tarte tartin (@annemai)

What are your favorite things to do with a cast iron skillet?

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Geek Health Questions Answered by Dr. Weil

by | Jan 27, 2010

Dr. Andrew Weil is the father of integrative medicine and has one of the most sane and straightforward healthy eating programs available. Here he sat down with Kevin Rose and answered an extensive range of geek health questions asked by Twitter users.

The question I was most curious about is the role of dairy in health. I have done countless hours of research on potential links between dairy and prostate cancer, type 1 diabetes, osteoporosis, asthma and other problems, and was happy to see Dr. Weil’s interpretation of the data is very similar to mine (very little is conclusive). He also adds an interesting aside on the importance of Mongolian cows that you shouldn’t miss.

Other topics covered include the potential dangers of soda and energy drinks, the risks and benefits of soy, which supplements are worthwhile, the best sources of antioxidants, how much vitamin D is necessary, the importance of fish oil, the deal with cellphone radiation, screen time and eye problems, tea, chocolate, low-carb diets, depression and those “fancy detox kits.”

It’s an incredibly informative video and definitely worth a half hour of your time.

And don’t forget to follow @drweil and @kevinrose on Twitter.


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30 Ways To Slow and Prevent Aging

by | Nov 18, 2009

Darya PinoToday is my 30th birthday and a perfect time to reflect on life, the universe and everything.

Despite being female and thus held to tough and often unrealistic physical standards, hitting the end of my third decade doesn’t cause me anxiety about either my appearance or place in the world.

In my experience, age is not an amount of time but a state of mind. As a child I always wanted to be a grown up, so I acted like one. It freaked my parents out sometimes, but that’s just how I was. In my mind, I still feel pretty much the same in that regard. I love to work hard and I thrive in positions of responsibility. Since both these traits get more important with age, I have actually enjoyed stepping into the adult role I’ve always felt I belonged in.

But that’s only one part of me.

In many other ways I’m as juvenile as ever. If you spend much time with me on Twitter (@summertomato) you’ve probably noticed I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy. I blame my dad for that one. I’m also still shocked every time I hear that friends my age are getting married and having children. In my brain we’re not nearly old enough for that yet! But in reality, it is my friends who are normal and I’m the outlier.

Oh, and did I mention I’m still in school? Up until a couple years ago I carried a backpack with me everywhere, for better or for worse.

Darya's GunsAll these things give me a sense of agelessness, so it is hard to think of this birthday as anything but another day to do things I love. But part of my peace of mind certainly comes from the fact that I’m in pretty good shape physically–probably the best of my life. And at 30 this is definitely something to be proud of.

Summer Tomato readers know I attribute my good health almost entirely to my eating habits. I also spend a good amount of time in the gym, though I don’t workout nearly as much as I used to. But healthstyle extends to more than just diet and exercise.

Here I’ve compiled my favorite 30 habits to slow aging and keep you young in more than just your heart.

30 Healthstyle Tips To Keep You Young

  1. Be happy The physical damage caused to your body by stress has only recently become appreciated by the scientific community. Fill your life with things you love and get rid of almost everything else. Practice stress relieving activities like meditation and exercise, and learn to appreciate joy when you find it. Happiness does a body good.
  2. Eat vegetables There is good evidence that oxidative damage caused by toxins and metabolism contributes to the aging process at a cellular level. Foods (but not supplements) high in antioxidants seem to protect us from oxidative stress.
  3. Avoid sugar Sugar is a direct cause of aging and significantly reduces lifespan in organisms from yeast to primates. Not by a small amount either.
  4. Moisturize The appearance of your skin is largely dependent upon moisture. Help it out by using moisturizers to keep your skin soft and hydrated. Work with a professional to determine what type is best for you.
  5. Don’t raise your eyebrows Credit my mother for teaching me this one, it has been a lifesaver. As a kid she used to warn me about raising my eyebrows, saying it would give me wrinkles and I’d regret it. I thought she was crazy, but still learned to express myself without much forehead crinkling. As a result I have far fewer forehead lines than some people years younger than me.
  6. Sleep For me the most important determinant of how I look (and feel) on a given day is how much sleep I get. Seven hours is my ideal, but everyone is different.
  7. Eat fish Some evidence suggests that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are particularly beneficial to the skin.
  8. Wear sunscreen I love the sun and spend as much time in it as possible, but I never walk out the door without sunscreen on my face. UV radiation from the sun damages your skin and promotes aging.
  9. Don’t smoke Smoking is one of the easiest ways to look older than you really are and shorten your life at the same time. Avoid both primary and secondary smoke like the plague.
  10. Step out of your comfort zone Mental exercise seems to be one of the key elements of quality aging, but this doesn’t mean you should sit around all day doing crossword puzzles. Neuroscientist and cognitive aging specialist Dr. Adam Gazzaley suggests going out of your way to challenge yourself mentally, doing things like traveling and learning new languages even over the age of 60.
  11. Take vitamin D Some research suggests that vitamin D may be particularly important in slowing the aging process. The jury is still out on the value of vitamin D supplements for aging, but they seem to have enough other benefits that it’s worth the investment.
  12. Eat fruit Like vegetables, fruits have an enormous amount of antioxidants and help with hydration. Vitamin C in particular is thought to benefit skin.
  13. No foundation or powder makeup Generally I avoid putting any makeup directly onto my skin. I realize I have a very flexible work environment and this is not possible for every woman, but skipping the makeup does help maintain your skin’s hydration and elasticity. I do wear makeup occasionally, maybe once or twice per week. But in general I find that mascara and lip gloss are enough for most situations.
  14. Hydrate Your skin is very sensitive to water levels. Stay hydrated by sipping water and eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
  15. Whiten teeth I know this isn’t something you can find at the farmers market, but when you drink as much coffee and red wine as I do, minor (and admittedly superficial) fixes like teeth whitening can go a long way. If you don’t believe me, try and remember the last time you saw a 20-year-old with yellow teeth….
  16. Wear sunglasses If you’re a happy person (and I know you are), your wrinkles will most likely be caused by smiling and show up predominantly around your eyes. Block out extra sun (and look super cool) by always wearing sunglasses when you go outside.
  17. Eat beans and lentils Legumes are a fabulous source of minerals that can help keep your skin hydrated and looking young.
  18. Tea Afternoon tea time is one of the greatest discoveries I’ve ever made. Not only is tea full of antioxidants and other cancer-fighting compounds, a midday break can be just what the doctor ordered to sip away stress.
  19. Cardio I’m not the biggest believer in cardio exercise for weight loss, but it is still important for vascular health. Not to mention how awesome you feel after a good session. Cardio doesn’t need to kill you, but you should do it regularly.
  20. Strength training Building strong, toned muscles is one of the most effective ways to look younger than your years. Ask anyone who looks fabulous and they’ll swear by strength training. A little goes a long way.
  21. Eat intact whole grains Intact grains (not fake “whole” grains that are ground into flour) are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and soluble fiber. They are also perfect fuel for those killer workouts.
  22. Olive oil It is hard to think of something more versatile, healthy and delicious than olive oil. It breaks my heart that dietary fat got such a bad rap the past few decades, since the benefits of healthy fats like olive oil are innumerable. Fat isn’t just “not bad” for you, it’s essential.
  23. Kill your television We all have things we enjoy watching (I’m partial to NBA championship teams), but if it takes up a significant amount of your time each week (>5 hrs) it may be time to reevaluate. How many years of your life do you really want to spend on your couch?
  24. Don’t stuff yourself Cutting back on calories is the single most effective way to slow aging and extend life. I don’t advise starving yourself, but it’s a good idea to avoid overeating in any situation.
  25. Eat nuts Nuts are the perfect snack food and are filled with anti-aging fats, vitamins and minerals. They are also great for suppressing appetite–just don’t eat more than a handful.
  26. Avoid dairy Studies of aging skin have shown that milk and milk products are associated with acne, which can lead to scaring and age spots.
  27. Avoid processed meats Processed meats are associated with many different health problems in humans. No need to get too hung up on this, but you may not want to eat deli meat every single day if you want to stay young.
  28. No processed carbohydrates Just like sugar, processed carbohydrates are a direct cause of aging and disease. I eat these things occasionally, but don’t let it happen too often.
  29. Coconut oil Fats come in all different shapes and sizes, and I try to incorporate a good mix of all of them. Medium-chain fatty acids like those found in coconut oil are starting to be recognized as important by researchers, but the evidence is limited. Coconut oil is also a healthy source of saturated fat for vegetarians. I always use coconut oil when cooking Southeast Asian food.
  30. Red wine Red wine has a powerful anti-aging compound in it known as resveratrol. Though it is unlikely that the dosage of resveratrol in red wine is high enough to impact lifespan, drinking alcohol in moderation is also associated with decreased risk of heart disease and other vascular problems. Cheers!

Do you have any anti-aging secrets?

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For The Love of Food

by | Jul 17, 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 had to make some tough cuts this week because there was so much good reading. I even doubled up once (shhhh, don’t tell). Featured, of course, are the two appearances Summer Tomato made on other blogs this week, including the coveted #1 spot on Chef2video’s Top 10 Thoughtful Food Blogs. Anyone interested in Twitter should definitely check out the crash course I wrote for Food Bloggers Unite! Seriously though, every single one of these stories are worth reading.

If you would like to see more of my favorite articles each week 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.

Submissions of your own best food and health articles are also welcome, just drop me an email using the contact form. I am currently accepting guest posts at Summer Tomato for any healthy eating, living and exercise tips.

For The Love of Food

What did you find this week?

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For The Love of Food

by | May 29, 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 pleased to announce that I did another guest post, this time over at TwiTip about Twitter and the value of food tweets. I also found some divine homemade pizza recipes, great advice for choosing (and not choosing) smart seafood and an urban legend debunking session. Oh, and I call B.S. on Men’s Health for pretending slightly-less-fattening fast food is “healthy.”

If you would like to see more of my favorite articles each week or just don’t want to wait until Friday, be sure to follow me on Twitter (@summertomato) or the Summer Tomato Facebook fan page.

Submissions of your own best food and health articles are also welcome, just drop me an email using the contact form.

For The Love of Food

What links did I miss? Share your faves of the week in the comments.

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Let’s Start TwEating!

by | Dec 14, 2008

Curious what I eat everyday? Follow me on Twitter!

Lately I’ve been investigating all these social media websites and wondered what to do with the Twitter phenomenon. For those of you who don’t know, Twitter is a networking service that revolves around the simple question, “What are you doing?”

In short, Twitter uses what is called a “Status Update” to let your friends know what you are up to and what you care about right now.

The beauty of Twitter is its simplicity, but this is also what makes it challenging to use as a tool. It is almost impossible to give too much information on Twitter, so whatever you communicate has to be simple and concise. Another term for Tweeting is “microblogging.”

So I asked myself, what am I doing?

Since my primary concerns are food and science, what I am usually doing is thinking about and eating food! I believe that what you eat can vastly improve your quality of life through great taste and better health, and I built this blog because I want to show you all how easy and delicious healthy eating can be. But I still often get questions about my personal habits and what I might do in certain situations.

To this end I have started Tweeting everything I eat, a term I refer to as TwEating.

If you do not use Twitter this may sound like a big time commitment, but it is actually a ridiculously small amount of work. Twitter only allows 140 characters to express yourself, so these TwEats are not very detailed and only take up seconds of my time.

What will be interesting, however, will be the archive that is created as a result of constant TwEating. You will be able to follow patterns and trends, and see firsthand how often we really have birthdays (and cake!) in the lab.

I hope you follow along and share your TwEating adventures as well. Some of you may be doing it already….

My Twitter profile is @summertomato.

In addition to TwEats, I also occasionally Tweet food-related news and science articles that I do not feel like writing entire blog posts about. Believe it or not, a lot goes through my brain that never makes it to SummerTomato. You can now find the overflow on Twitter.

What do you think about TwEating? Will you join me?

Bon Appetweet!

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