New York Times

Something to keep in mind when making your New Years resolutions

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IMG_5097It’s almost that time of year again when many of us set resolutions for the months ahead. Whether that be related to career or health or some other endeavor, it always helps to plan “how” we’re going to accomplish what we set out to do and to set realistic, measurable goals to keep us motivated and stay in touch with how we’re doing along the way.

One of the most common New Years resolutions is to lose weight. For someone who would benefit from reaching a healthier weight, this is fantastic. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do so. While lifestyle changes such as including fewer processed foods and incorporating physical activity x number of days per week can slowly help someone reach their goal, weight loss supplements and other unregulated dietary aids from the health food store can do more harm than good.

Recently, there have been quite a few articles about the dangers of such supplements. This New York Times article focuses a lot on green tea extract, which is often sold as a weight loss aid but can cause serious damage to the liver. However, many supplements come with dangerous side effects with little proven benefit. Bottom line according to me: Stick to real food—if it comes in a pill bottle  (or as a powder or potion) and promises to do great things, put it the f*** down. How about sipping a cup of green tea every afternoon instead?

So when you’re thinking about what you want to accomplish in 2014, give yourself permission to be kind to yourself and your body as you kick ass at your resolutions.

Do you know what your New Years resolution will be for 2014?  

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Mark Bittman on Making Peace with Meat

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I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve seen the term “flexitarian” around. I have to admit, I’ve always been a fan. It’s a good way to sum up a sane style of eating.

A little of the good stuff goes a long way
A little of the good stuff goes a long way

Our reasons for choosing whether are not to consume meat are personal and variable. Though some of us may choose to be vegetarian, vegan, pescetarian, or whatever-my-boyfriend-wants-me-to-be-atarian, it’s important for people to understand that you don’t have to be one extreme or the other. You can find your own balance. Just because you eat meat doesn’t mean you have to eschew a vegan meal, same as just because you prefer not to eat meat doesn’t mean you have to forgo bacon every now and then if it’s the one thing you crave like crazy.

In this piece, author Mark Bittman (I  can’t wait to read his newest, VB6), makes a compelling case for eating small (if more expensive) amounts of quality meat raised by reputable farmers as opposed to taking an all-or-nothing approach. He also shares some delicious recipes!

How would you describe your style of eating? 

Leftovers to Lunch

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I recently heard New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark on The Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC. She did an awesome segment on how to make delicious, creative lunches out of your leftovers and fielded questions that listeners called in with.  I don’t pack my lunch right now as often as I used to since I work from home most days, but I still got a lot out of her tips and ideas, inspiring me to make a lovely stir-fry dinner that was just as good—if not better—eaten for lunch the next day.

IMG_2109One thing I love about stir-fry is how adaptable it is. Like a favorite pair of dark-wash jeans, you can dress it up or down. Okay, time for me to get into lame metaphor territory. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil (more if your skillet isn’t non-stick)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 container sliced white or shiitake mushrooms (1 lb?)
  • asparagus spears, sliced into small pieces
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • cooked tempeh (optional, but a great source of protein if you don’t want/have any chicken, egg, tofu, edamame, shrimp, etc)
  • lower-sodium soy sauce to taste
  • 1/2-1 tsp sesame oil (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger. Cook a few minutes, until fragrant. 
  2. Add cabbage and asparagus. Cook until cabbage begins to soften and add mushrooms.
  3. Cook until mushrooms are soft. Add red pepper flakes and stir.
  4. Stir in tempeh and rice. Season with soy sauce and sesame oil (if using)

This recipe was posted as part of the Weekend Kitchen Creations link party. Stop by to check out what other bloggers are cooking this weekend!

Do you like leftovers for lunch? What are some of your favorite foods to eat again the next day? 

The Science of Junk Food

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IMG_0479Do you ever read a book that kind of knocks your thinking sideways? A few years ago, David Kessler’s The End of Overeating blew my mind in the way it discussed the “engineering” of junk food. It was fascinating—and a bit terrifying—to learn about the way food companies play with the sugar, fat, and salt content of products to find that sweet spot that will make a product practically irresistible to consumers. It’s important to take into consideration the kinds of flavor chemistry the average person is up against when it comes to making healthful food choices. Knowing what appeals to you and why can help you figure out how to navigate your cravings.

A lot of people have been talking about this article from the New York Times Magazine which explores this “Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food” and features interviews with people who have worked in the industry. It’s definitely worth a read—and worth sharing.

Are there any foods you find irresistible? What do you think  of food companies “engineering” their products? 

Personal Favorite: Chia Seeds

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I love chia seeds in oatmeal

Those of you who have been with me a while know that I love chia seeds. I still remember the “aha!” moment where I realized I’d found a new staple. I really dig the texture, and the omega 3’s, fiber, and other health benefits don’t suck either. Since then, chia seeds have been a more or less daily thing in some form or other.

The New York Times just ran a piece about my favorite little seed. Check it out.

Do you eat chia seeds? 

Mark Bittman’s Dream Food Label

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In this past weekend’s New York Times Sunday Review, Mark Bittman shared what his ideal food label would look like.

Under this system, packaged foods would bear a color-coded bar with a numerical score on the front, allowing the consumer to tell right away if the product’s overall rating falls between 11 and 15 (green), 6 and 10 (yellow) or 0 and 5 (red).There would also be a box to indicate whether there are any GMOs. The three factors the ratings would be based upon would be “Nutrition,” “Foodness” (how close it is to real food), and “Welfare” (related to “the treatment of workers, animals and the earth”).

I think I like it.

You can read more about Bittman’s dream label and the though process behind it here.

What do you think of this label idea? What would your dream food label have on it? 

RSVP with Allergies

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Happy Monday! Hope you had a great weekend! I’m still pretty fried, but my apartment is looking great and already feels like home. Naturally, the kitchen was one of the first things I set up, and I’ve already made some nice things there. I still have to clean the oven, though, before I feel like it’s ready to be used…

I did find time to get cleaned up and go out to dinner on Saturday night. I’m so glad it’s sundress weather. There really is nothing like enjoying a meal outside on a warm summer evening.

A meal one of my friends made—delicious

While I love going out to restaurants and sharing meals at friends’ homes, I always dread that moment where I have to bring up the Tree Nuts Thing. Over the past year it’s gotten easier, but it still makes me cringe a bit. I’m not used to being someone with a dietary restriction, and I’m always afraid I’ll be asked for proof or told, “If you have your epi pen, you’ll be fine.”

Anyway, on Sunday morning, I came across this article in the New York Times about how people deal with dietary restrictions when cooking with or for friends. I remember having a great time hosting a vegetarian, gluten-free dinner party last spring, and I do enjoy the challenge of coming up with something delicious that people with particular restrictions can eat. I’ve also been that guest who RSVPs with, “Hey, just wanted to give you a heads up/let me know if I can bring anything.”

Do you have any food restrictions you need to share when dining out? Do you enjoy cooking for others with restrictions or feel more inclined to let them bring their own food?