5 Ways to Fire Up Fruit This Summer

by in Healthy Recipes, June 15, 2014

grilled plums

Feasting on fresh fruit is always a summertime ritual, but try roasting some of that just-plucked bounty or throwing it onto the grill until it’s nice and charred. Intense heat adds rich new layers of flavor, deepening and caramelizing sugars. With these vibrant recipes, there’s more incentive to keep the grill’s flames going, long after the turkey burgers have been demolished.

Grilled Plums with Spiced Walnut Yogurt Sauce (above)
Forgo that everyday berry parfait, and spring for this juicy plum dish instead. The fruit is draped in Greek yogurt that is brightened with honey, orange juice and grated orange zest — and warmed by cinnamon and toasted walnuts.

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Chef Dan Barber on Why “Whole-Farm Eating” Is the New “Farm-to-Table”

by in Chefs and Restaurants, June 14, 2014

the third plate
You may not be eating a lot of mustard greens, kidney beans and millet these days, but if Dan Barber has his way, you will be very soon.

Barber is the award-winning chef of Blue Hill, an elegant respite for sustainable cuisine in New York City’s West Village, and Blue Hill Stone Barns, a locavore’s paradise located within the nonprofit farm Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture in Tarrytown, NY. Since his early days as a cook, he’s been a pioneering advocate for the farm-to-table movement. But in his revolutionary new book, The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, Barber reexamines the farm-to-table movement, and comes away from it a new man, one championing the whole farm, not just what’s most prized for the table.

“For all its successes, farm-to-table has not, in any fundamental way, reworked the economic and political forces that dictate how our food is grown and raised,” wrote Barber in a recent Op-Ed in the New York Times. “Big Food is getting bigger, not smaller. In the last five years, we’ve lost nearly 100,000 farms (mostly midsize ones). Today, 1.1 percent of farms in the United States account for nearly 45 percent of farm revenues.”

His solution? Eat more cowpea. Seriously. Instead of cherry-picking crops like tomatoes, strawberries, asparagus and other blockbusters that deplete soil of their most crucial nutrients, Barber proposes we start supporting more humble offerings like buckwheat, cowpea, barley, and mustard greens — which are often used by farmers to enrich the soil in rotation with those A-list vegetables.

The “first plate,” argues Barber, was a classic meal centered on meat with a few vegetables. That gave way to the “second plate,” a new ideal of organic grass-fed meats and local vegetables. Now, he proposes a “third plate”— a new way of eating that’s rooted in cooking with and celebrating the whole farm: vegetables, grains and a smidge of protein. It’s a juicy new holistic approach to food and farming that’s bound to put Barber in the company of legendary food policy gurus like Alice Waters, Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser.

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This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

by in Food News, June 13, 2014

salmon
In this week’s news: Seafood guidance for kids and expectant mothers; the next iteration of futuristic faux food; and a reminder from Mark Bittman to just eat the real thing.

Pass the Salmon
This Tuesday, federal officials announced that they’re for the first time ever recommending a minimum of two weekly servings of low-mercury seafood (think salmon, shrimp, cod and light canned tuna) to children and pregnant or breast-feeding women. Back in 2004, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency had set an upper limit to these foods. And though this proposal, too, suggests an upper limit of three servings, the shift is noteworthy. According to a recent FDA analysis, one in five pregnant women in the United States currently eats little or no fish, and the new recommendation is said to reflect concern that these individuals are missing out. Indeed, a number of studies show that children born to women who eat fish have better cognitive development and higher IQs than those born to women who eat little to no fish. Still, the recommendation isn’t without controversy: Some environmental groups expressed concern that this will ultimately increase mercury consumption. One particular worry is packaged fish, especially tuna, from which Americans get approximately a third of their methyl mercury exposure. Interestingly, other groups fear that the measures don’t go far enough. Bottom line: Know where your fish is sourced, and also remember that while plenty of research suggests taking Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, there remains a wide variety of nutrients in fish worth tapping.

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7 Foods to Grill for Health-Nut Dads Everywhere

by in Healthy Recipes, June 12, 2014

tuna burger
So you had the dad who was always going for a run first thing in the morning? The one who always seemed to be making some kind of crazy protein shake in the blender? Then show him the love with one of these healthy recipes, each of which comes in at under 500 calories.

Tuna Burgers (above)
Sprouts. Avocado. Whole-grain hamburger buns. This tuna burger has all of the requisite healthy trappings, but sushi-grade tuna and a delectable sesame-ginger sauce take the dish out of the realm of Spartan hippie food and into deliciousness territory. 

Sausage-and-Pepper Skewers
Kebabs are always a good time, but this chicken-sausage rendition — made with red onion, bell peppers and tomatoes and served with a scallion-herb pesto — is an edible party on a stick. 
sausage and pepper skewers

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Beyond Chicken Nuggets: When Kids Eat Out, Can They Eat Well?

by in Dining Out, June 11, 2014

kids' plate

With their steady rotation of grilled cheese and butter-topped noodles, the “kid-friendly” section of restaurant menus has always been unimaginative. But these days it’s hard not to notice that the offerings are also fairly unhealthy. The palette of food geared toward children is primarily white, brown and orange — the colors of french fries, fried nuggets (of one sort or another) and mac and cheese. Not only is such fare typically lacking in creativity, it’s also lacking in nutrition, although there’s generally no lack of calories or sodium. It’s not uncommon for a kid’s meal to exceed 1,000 calories, more than any adult needs in one sitting.

The good news is that many restaurants are making strides in revamping the menu options for pint-sized patrons. The National Restaurant Association just hosted the second annual Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge — a competition that encourages chefs to come up with enticing but healthy alternatives for kids. Winners included an organic sunflower butter and jam sandwich on multi-grain oat bread and a whole-wheat quesadilla filled with broccoli, chicken, peppers and corn. Read more

Salad of the Month: Asparagus with Lemon and Parmesan

by in Amy's Whole Food Cooking, June 10, 2014

asparagus salad
In this salad, raw asparagus spears are shaved into long ribbons and then tossed in a rich, flavorful dressing made from pine nuts, lemon, olive oil and Parmesan. It’s the kind of dressing that could double as a simple pasta sauce — and in fact, when it’s tossed with the long, wide asparagus ribbons, the dish is reminiscent of fettuccine.

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The Antioxidant Avenger Smoothie from “Blender Girl” Tess Masters

by in Cookbooks, June 9, 2014

antioxidant avenger

Tess Masters is the first to admit she’s not a trained chef, but she has been experimenting with food for as long as she can remember. As a smoothie-obsessed teen, she started exploring the various virtues of the blender as a food prep tool, and she has never looked back. It was also starting in her teen years — after a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr virus — that Masters began searching for the perfect diet to help her feel healthier. Macrobiotic, vegan, raw food — you name it, she tried it. Ultimately, what she discovered is that her perfect diet (like everyone’s) was a blend. And so, The Blender Girl was born, and this spring, The Blender Girl Cookbook. Read more

12 Ways to Make Water the Most Delicious Thing Ever

by in Healthy Recipes, June 8, 2014

infused water
These flavored waters are healthier than sugared-up sodas, iced teas and lemonades — but a whole lot more exciting than plain old H2O. Infused with fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, they’re everything you never knew you a wanted in a glass of water. Thirsty yet?

Strawberry-Cucumber Water
It sounds like the start to a fruity summer cocktail, but stop while you’re ahead: This refreshing infusion doesn’t need a splash of booze to satisfy. (Seriously!)
strawberry-cucumber water

Tomato-Basil Water
Why should Caprese salad have all the fun? This infused water captures the ultimate summer combination of tomato and basil right in your glass. Bonus points for beauty.
tomato water

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Caprese Skewers: A Grill Season Great with a Low-Sodium Twist

by in Scaling Back on Sodium, Seasoning with the Seasons, June 7, 2014

caprese skewers
Summer is a perfect time to experiment with one of the best flavor boosters beyond the spice rack: fire.

Grills, of course, are great for burgers, chicken and hot dogs. But hot grates also bring out something special in fruits and vegetables, lending a smoky essence (and some sexy grill marks!) to everything they touch. And much like salt, a little heat releases the mouth-watering scent of ingredients, enhancing the flavor of a dish without the extra sodium.

So while you have the kebab skewers out, have some fun. Here, a Caprese salad gets a low-sodium twist with grill-friendly paneer in place of the usual, saltier mozzarella. Just thread everything on a stick, and then head to the barbie.

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This Week’s Nutrition News Feed

by in Food News, June 6, 2014

peach
In this week’s news: Taking the long view of the diets du jour; growing up on raw foods; and having a complicated relationship with diet soda.

Will Gluten-Free Go the Way of Fat-Free?
Gluten-free. Paleo. Vegan. According to an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times this week, someday we’ll likely look back on the current crop of diet trends with the same regret-slash-sheepishness we now view our fat-free binge of the 1980s and ’90s. (“Think of all the money and meals you wasted on fat-free ice cream and bone-dry chicken breasts that didn’t do you a lick of good,” writer David Sax admonishes us.) As the story points out, Jimmy Kimmel’s hit skit on gluten last month – featuring hilariously cringe-worthy responses from dieters who seem to shun gluten strictly for the cool quotient — perfectly capture our collective dietary cluelessness. But there are some winners out there: Fad diets appear to be big cash cows for food manufacturers, especially when they market products capitalizing on the nutrition words of the moment.

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