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Category: healthy eats

  1. Friday, January 8, 2010

    My New Year’s Resolution: Eat Well, Heal the Planet

    The giveaway included at the end of this post is now closed. But please keep reading because there’s a LOT of wonderful information here I don’t want you to miss!

    I am SO excited to share my new year’s resolution with you. And I’m SUPER excited about today’s giveaway (there will be 5 winners – sweet, eh?).  So let’s get to it, shall we?

    food matters post1 web

    Years ago I read the article “Unhappy Meals” by Michael Pollan in the New York Times. Combined with other reading and many discussions with people in “the know,” I have since been very interested in what eating healthy really means. As a result, I rarely buy processed foods and read all food labels with great skepticism, especially the ones with health claims. (Go read the article if you haven’t already. It’s awesome.)

    food matters post2 web

    I also think about the environment a lot. No matter where you stand on the issue, it is clear that we humans need to take steps to heal our planet. My dear friend Emily (who you can thank for the existence of this blog, by the way) recently recommended to me the book Food Matters by Mark Bittman (a writer for the New York Times and cookbook author whom I love – p.s. he’s not vegetarian). Food Matters talks extensively about the environmental impact of the way we eat. It’s astounding. In fact, I can only read the book in small snippets because I get too frustrated with the state of things. But it is an inspiring book and has over 75 recipes to get you going. (The NY Times article Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler by Mark Bittman is a great article and introduction to the issue. At the very least, read that article. You can also get information on Mark’s website, where you can officially become a lessmeatarian!)

    food matters mark bittman web

    Some interesting tidbits that caught my attention (just a few among many):

    • 40 calories of fossil fuel are required to produce 1 calorie of beef protein.
    • Meat consumption would have to fall 3 oz. a day to stabilize greenhouse gasses produced by livestock (which, by the way, produces more greenhouse gases than transportation)
    • In the late 1970s, the government nutrition recommendations were going to be “eat meat sparingly”…that is until the lobbies found out. The verbiage was switched to “eat less fat,” which changed everything and had multiple negative impacts (read the book for details!)
    • It’s not just about eating more organic dairy and grass-fed meat. If all of us switched to grass-fed beef today, we’d have to destroy most of our farmland and forests to create enough land for the cows to graze. There is simply too much demand. (Our consumption of meat per person has increased significantly over the last century.)

    Bottom line: Eat less meat. Eat less junk food. Eat more whole foods. We need to, for our own health and for the planet. Which leads us to the new year’s resolution portion of the program…

    I am going to cook and eat less meat going forward. I’m not eliminating it, I’m not becoming vegetarian or vegan. But I am going to increase my consciousness about the impact my food choices have on the environment and try to do something about it. I’m going to buy more local produce and meat, probably even join a CSA. I’m not going crazy but taking it one step at a time. I want the change to be sustainable because it has to be. We only have one earth. This is one meaningful way I can help save it.

    food matters post3 web

    What does this mean for you?  Two things.

    1. I’m going to explore vegetarian cooking (recipes, tips, etc) and share the journey with you. (No worries, for the carnivores…meat will still make appearances on the blog. Hello, Swedish Meatballs. But we will be eating less of said meatballs.)
    2. A GIVEAWAY!

    FIVE lucky random winners will each win one paperback copy of Food Matters by Mark Bittman. I wish I could get a copy for each and every one of you. It’s a fast read with wonderful info and recipes. You can buy it here…and of course you should enter the giveaway by adding a comment to this post by Midnight PT, Thursday, January 14. Good luck!

    Eat well, friends. Your body will thank you. So will Mother Earth.

  2. Friday, January 1, 2010

    Tomatoes don’t like refrigerators, so keep them separated

    The other night Nate told me that I forgot to put the tomatoes in the fridge. To which I replied, “Don’t you read my blog? They shouldn’t go in the fridge!” But then I realized, I have only alluded to this tomato info once in a post about ripening avocados. So…I think a post on refrigerating tomatoes is in order!

    not refrigerating tomatoes web

    One day while selecting tomatoes at the grocery store, I noticed a little sign hanging above the tomatoes. It said that tomatoes should never be refrigerated and (here’s where my memory gets fuzzy) there was something about the colder temperature affecting the sugars of the tomato, which changes the texture and makes them mushy and/or mealy.

    I’ve done a little research and can’t find any good resources with information on this topic, in fact a lot of the information is conflicting. Often people say you shouldn’t refrigerate tomatoes because it reduces flavor. I actually don’t think this is the issue. The sign I read at the store didn’t say anything about flavor, but specifically talked about texture. Perhaps it’s a combo of both, who knows? Any tomato scientists out there?

    Regardless, don’t put them in the fridge. They are affected and are much better stored at room temperature.  Also, putting tomatoes in the fridge will stop the ripening process (as with most fruits and vegetables), and most tomatoes I’ve purchased could always use a little more ripening.

    That all said, once I cut into a tomato, I do refrigerate any leftovers. But I make an effort to only cut as many as I need and keep my tomatoes at room temperature for as long as possible.

    If you want to read a few articles on the topic, click this link or this link.

    If you do put your tomatoes in the fridge, I’m certain it won’t be the end of the world as we know it. But if you want your tomatoes to taste their best, keep them on the counter.

    All this tomato talk (which, by the way, was much longer than I was planning on!) is making me happy we’re having tomato soup tonight! (And, yes, I’ll share that recipe with you later.)

  3. Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Olive Oil like I’ve never had it

    When Nate went on his super cool trip to the Ferry Building in San Francisco, he bought this olive oil at one of the shops they visited. McEvoy Ranch is located in Petaluma, up near Sonoma in wine country. Nate said they had an olive oil tasting when they visited the store…just like a wine tasting. I was sort of rolling my eyes when he was telling me about it…but mid-eyeroll, he forced me to do a tasting of my own and I have to admit this is good stuff.

    mcevoy ranch olive oil web

    The flavor is so fresh. I don’t quite know how else to describe it. The oil almost tastes like grass to me. Apparently olive oils can be a lot like wine, where you can taste different flavors depending on where the olives are grown, etc. Interesting, right?

    I’m not saying you have to specifically buy McEvoy olive oil…I’m just saying that you really should try a high quality olive oil sometime if you haven’t before. I have to admit, I always just grab the giant bottle at Trader Joe’s, which is fine. But this local, fresh olive oil really is special.

    My favorite uses for our new olive oil? I made a pizza the other night with this olive oil, some crushed fresh garlic and mozzarella cheese. Simple and divine. We also love combining with garlic, salt and pepper for dipping baguette. In fact, I had that for lunch…inspiring this post!

  4. Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Garlic Grater Plate

    My mother-in-law recently gave me a garlic grater plate, a nifty little kitchen accessory I had never seen before. She said wherever she bought it (hmmm…a fair, maybe?) there was a loooooong line of people waiting to buy it, which she faithfully waited in just for me. I’m so glad she did, I love this thing! (Luckily for all of you, the plate can also be purchased on Amazon…of course. What can’t be?)

    garlic grater plate web

    Basically, the garlic grater plate is a little ceramic plate with sharp teeth. You just rub your garlic cloves over the surface and voila! Your garlic is grated to bits!

    We like to grate garlic, pour olive oil directly over the garlic on the dish, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dip pieces of good bread in the oil and you’re immediately transported to heaven. Cate calls it “the spicy oil” and loves it.

    (This website over here says that you can grate lots of other ingredients on the plate as well…I’ll have to do some experimenting!)

    Bottom line, we are loving this plate. You should get one. You’ll thank me.

  5. Friday, November 20, 2009

    A little Lady apple for a little lady

    If all fruits and vegetables were this cute, my kids would gobble them up!

    little lady apple web

    For the record, Cate looks grumpy because I forced her to pose with the apple. The apple actually made her very happy. Apparently, the camera has the opposite effect. Little stinker.

    We picked up a few Lady apples at a local market this week. Anna was very excited about the “baby apples! baby apples!” Turns out they have an interesting history. The Lady apple is an heirloom variety that is also the oldest known apple variety. How about that? Click here if you want to learn more!

  6. Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Kitchen Tip: Longer Lasting Fresh Garlic

    Recently Nate’s lab at Stanford went on a team building trip with Parties That Cook. They went on a special tour of the Ferry Building, including a behind the scenes look at Acme Bread. The day ended with a cooking class and then they got to eat all the amazing food they cooked. I was SO jealous all day, knowing what Nate was up to without me! He did bring home some yummy goodies to try to make me feel better. It kind of worked. He also came home with a great kitchen tip!

    garlic bulb trick web

    The chef who taught the cooking class said that he breaks up his garlic bulbs as soon as he buys them. It helps the garlic keep fresh longer by airing it out and reducing the chance of moisture getting between the cloves. Basically, it will take longer for the cloves to turn green (green cloves = bitter garlic).

    I’m really excited about this tip…I HATE cracking open garlic cloves only to find they’ve turned green. Hopefully that will happen less often now!

  7. Thursday, November 12, 2009

    Easy Peasy Bean Tacos

    Today I’ve got a quick, tasty meal idea for you, thanks to my dear friend Angie who shared this non-recipe-recipe with me recently. It’s her go-to meal and it’s a winner!

    easy bean tacos1 web

    In honor of The Pioneer Woman giveaway we’ve got going this week, I did this post Ree style, photographing every step of the cooking process. Thought it would be funny to finally do that with the easiest recipe on my site. Funny, right? A-ha-ha-ha-ha!

    Easy Peasy Bean Tacos
    Easy to make and delicious to eat!
    Recipe type: Main Dish
    Cuisine: Mexican
    • Flour or corn tortillas, smaller size
    • Shredded cheese
    • Can of refried beans
    • Toppings you like on tacos”¦tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, etc.
    1. Preheat your oven broiler. Heat up the can of beans in a saucepan.
    2. Place the tortillas on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle some cheese on half of the tortilla (you can also heat them up on the stove, whichever you prefer).
    3. Pop the tray in the oven, broil until the cheese melts. This is seriously the hardest step of the process. You still with me?
    4. Schmear on the beans.
    5. Add your favorite taco toppings.
    6. Fold. Eat. Enjoy.

    easy bean tacos2 webeasy bean tacos3 webeasy bean tacos4 webeasy bean tacos5 webeasy bean tacos6 web

    We really liked these tacos, and I loved how simple they were to make. But I’ve gotta say, I think a few grilled peppers and onions would give the tacos nice flavor and crunch…but yeah, that involves chopping stuff AND dirtying another pan. So don’t worry too much about it. These are Easy Peasy Bean Tacos, after all.

  8. Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Grilled Vegetables, Part Deux

    When I first wrote about grilling vegetables, someone mentioned asparagus was one of their favorites to grill. I can see why…I tried it, and the asparagus cooked so nicely on the grill, resulting in a really great texture. I still think roasting asparagus in the oven is a great way to do it…but grilling is now my favorite method for this vegetable.

    grilled asparagus web

    Did I mention the girls INHALED their asparagus? And mine? And Nate’s? I think Nate & I only got to eat a few spears in the end!

    Believe it or not, you’re going to have to endure another grilled vegetable post…I ordered a grilling basket and it arrived this week!  My next veggie venture on the grill? Broccoli!

  9. Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Butternut Squash Soup

    It is pouring rain today, which means two things. First, I am in heaven. Second, it’s time for a cozy bowl of soup.

    butternut squash soup web

    I know several of you are chomping at the bit for my Broccoli Cheese Soup recipe. The recipe is coming this week, I promise. I just need to take a picture. Until then, I hope my most favorite soup recipe EVER will suffice.

    Butternut Squash Soup
    A cozy delicious soup! From my friend Sarah Covert, with my commentary in italics
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Soup
    • Soup:
    • 1 large butternut squash, about 3.5 lbs.
    • 1 large leek
    • 2 T unsalted butter
    • 4 tsp. grated fresh ginger (you can use ground ginger – I think about 1 tsp should do it)
    • 5-6 cups chicken stock
    • Salt
    • Freshly ground pepper (this last time I used fresh ground black pepper and 2 shakes of cayenne)
    • Peanuts:
    • (optional garnish that I never make b/c I don’t like peanuts”¦but those who do love these spiced peanuts on top)
    • 1 1/12 C roasted peanuts (not dry-roasted)
    • 2 T peanut oil
    • 1½ t. ground ginger
    • 1 T finely chopped garlic
    • 2 t. finely chopped fresh cilantro
    • ½ tsp. Chinese five-spice powder (in bulk at Henry’s)
    • ¼ t. cayenne pepper
    1. I roast the squash, cut in pieces & wrapped in foil, in my oven at 375 for 40-60 mins. That said, here’s what the recipe tells you to do. With a large heavy knife, cut the squash in half through the stem and discard the seeds. Brush the cut sides with olive oil. Grill, cut sides down, indirectly over medium heat until the skin can be easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 1 hour. Remove the squash from the grill and cool”¦ with a large spoon, scoop the flesh from the squash and discard the skin.
    2. Cut off most of the tough green top from the leek. Cut the leek lengthwise and wash under cold running water to remove any dirt trapped. Cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces.
    3. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add leek and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until the looks are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and carefully add the squash. Recude the heat to very low and cook, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Puree the soup, in batches in a blender. Return soup to saucepan. If it seems thick, use remain stock as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, garnished with peanuts if desired.
    4. For the peanuts: In a small bowl, combine the peanuts, peanut oil, ground ginger, garlic, cilantro, five-spice powder and cayenne. Toss well to coat the peanuts evenly, then transfer to large sheet of aluminum foil. pull the corners of the foil together and close the pouch. place the pouch over indirect medium heat for 5 minutes. Carefully remove pouch and allow to cool.


  10. Tuesday, September 22, 2009

    Grilling Vegetables

    Surprisingly I have never grilled vegetables outside on the grill…until now. I have ventured into the brave new world of grilled vegetables and am wishing I had done so sooner. This was the best zucchini! Cooked to perfection with really great texture. I can’t wait to try more veggies on the grill…speaking of which, if you have experience, which vegetables have worked best for you? Any grilled veggie tips?

    grilled zucchini

    In case you’re wondering how I cooked these puppies…I tossed the sliced zucchini in olive oil and sprinkled with my favorite seasoned salt, Onera*. I then grilled over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes.

    *The Onera website isn’t working…I know they were struggling to stay in business, I’m thinking maybe the struggle has ended. I’m so sad. WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!?! I’ll tell you one thing, my chicken salad will never be the same. I better use my last shaker of Onera wisely.