Food Is Not Your Enemy

BK Farmyards: This May Be The Coolest Thing I’ve Ever Seen
August 27, 2009, 11:54 am
Filed under: food politics, Fruits, Vegetables | Tags: , ,

Just found out about this incredible company called BK Farmyards. If you have a backyard in Brooklyn, they’ll actually come in and set it up as a mini-farm for you. They plant and care for the crops in exchange for either a cash payment or a share of the fruits and veggies, which they’ll then sell to the community. How cool is that?

My friend Adrienne Fisher has signed on to do this–coverage of it all ran recently in the NY Daily News. Check it out …

Chilled Zucchini Soup with Lemon-Cumin Shrimp and Cilantro Cream
August 27, 2009, 11:27 am
Filed under: Recipes, Vegetables | Tags: , , ,

This soup is excellent for summer. And the shrimp by itself is absolutely delicious as well. Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit.

Popular Kids’ Drinks: Safe or Scary?

Ah, the soft drink aisle. Shelves and shelves stacked with bubbly and brightly colored liquids, all seemingly engineered to attract children. Milk? Forget it. Water? How can that compete with a sweet and slippery orange drink that promises a taste explosion in your mouth, especially when cool athletes drink it, too? But are all these drinks so bad? Read my latest column on AOL’s ParentDish to find out.

America’s Food Crisis and How to Fix It
August 20, 2009, 11:31 am
Filed under: food politics | Tags: , , , ,

There’s a great article in the latest issue of Time magazine about the problems with the way the U.S. produces food–and what we can do to change things for the better. Check it out.

Ice Cream Truck Wars
August 19, 2009, 10:26 am
Filed under: food politics, Sweets | Tags: , ,

The New York Times ran a piece this week about parents complaining about the constant presence of ice cream trucks/vendors near playgrounds, outside schools, and on their blocks. Their beef? That they’re tired of dealing with their children begging for ice cream all the time.

I understand their point, but also feel like parents should feel okay about saying a firm “no” to their children, perhaps with an explanation of why–that they only get ice cream after dinner, that it’s cheaper to buy it from the store, etc.

What do you think?

4 Weight Loss Tips for Your Family
August 18, 2009, 11:28 am
Filed under: Food/Health Blogs, weight loss | Tags: , ,

When the children of overweight parents are also overweight, people often talk about a genetic factor–it’s inevitable that the kids are heavy, because it runs in their family. But is it nature, or nurture?

Several times in the past when I was at a town or hotel pool, I noticed a stark difference in the habits of the kids who were fit and those who were heavy. While the lean kids were swimming, the heavier kids were walking back from the ice cream truck with huge cones of soft serve. I once even saw a couple of overweight sisters eating licorice and candy bars while in the water–candy handed to them from the edge of the pool by their overweight mother.

If parents are overweight, they tend to pass down their eating habits to their children. This may take the form of portions that are too large at mealtime, or mid-day ice cream cones several times a week, or fast food for dinner on a regular basis, or soda and juice drinks consumed several times a day. More often than not, when you observe the eating habits of overweight children, it’s not a mystery why they’re overweight. They’re simply taking in too many calories.

In order for children to attain a healthy weight, they–and their parents–must create healthy habits, for the whole family. Here are some very basic tips on doing this, courtesy of Dr. Andrew Weil.

Seven Restaurant Dishes Too Embarrassing to Order by Name

Loved this list, courtesy of the Consumerist. And in case you were wondering, here are the calorie counts for these cleverly named items:

Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad: 1,270 calories

Applebee’s Chicken Parmesan Tanglers: 319 calories

Cheesecake Factory’s Weight Management Asian Chicken Salad: 571 calories

P.F. Chang’s Hot Fish: 960 calories

Cracker Barrel’s Uncle Herschel’s Favorite: n/a

Friendly’s Super Sizzlin’ Sausage Sunrise: 690 calories

Outback Steakhouse’s Chocolate Thunder From Down Under: 1,220 calories

America’s Most Influential Farmer on the Future of Food

Treehugger has published a great, in-depth interview with Joel Salatin today. If you’ve read Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” you’ll remember Salatin as the plucky farmer who refused to ship Pollan a steak in the mail and who extolled the virtues of the self-sufficient, multi-crop and multi-animal farm.


“The food industry views everything through the skewed paradigm of faith in human cleverness rather than dependence on nature’s design. … But this hubris seems to relish the fact that we can irradiate food to sterilize poop, rather than slowing the processing down enough that we can wash the poop off before it gets in the food.

Which opens up the next big problem: safe food. And this runs the gamut from nutrition to outright danger. The food industry actually believes that feeding your children Twinkies, Cocoa Puffs and Mountain Dew is safe, but drinking raw milk and eating compost-grown tomatoes is dangerous. The industrial food system depends on dredging up horror stories from the early 1900s as food was just industrializing and rural electrification, stainless steel, and sanitation understanding were not available to continue demonizing, marginalizing, and criminalizing back-to-heritage foods in the modern day. Using its political clout, industrial food is waging war on local, nutrient dense foods as surely as the U.S. Cavalry hunted down native Americans earlier in our culture’s history.”

Quinoa Chowder with Spinach, Feta, and Scallions

Any of you who regularly read my blog know by now that when I post a recipe, I tend to intro it by saying that it’s one of my favorites and my kids love it too. So I won’t say that anymore–just assume that if you see a recipe on “Food Is Not Your Enemy,” it’s one I love, one that’s in regular rotation in my household, and one that I recommend to my clients.

That said, here’s the latest. This dish is such a great way to begin a relationship with quinoa if you’ve never had it before.

 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well in a fine sieve

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin or to taste

Salt and freshly milled pepper

1/2 pound boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes

1 bunch scallions, including an inch of the greens, thinly sliced into rounds

3 cups finely sliced spinach leaves

1/4 pound feta cheese, finely diced or crumbled

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 hard-cooked egg, chopped

Put the quinoa and 2 quarts water in a pot, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. While it’s cooking, dice the vegetables and cheese. Drain, saving the liquid. Measure the liquid and add water to make 6 cups if needed.

Heal the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile. Cook for about 30 seconds, giving it a quick stir. Add the cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and the potatoes and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Don’t let the garlic brown. Add the quinoa water and half the scallions and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the quinoa, spinach, and remaining scallions and simmer for 3 minutes more. Turn off the heat and stir in the feta and cilantro. Season the soup with pepper and garnish with the chopped egg.

Serves 4.

(Recipe from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison)