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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Cross-posted from WoahBaby!

First the foods that are keeping me happy right now. Forgive the brand promotion but these people have my deep gratitude.

1) Kashi blueberry waffles. These little guys are like guilt-free versions of an Eggo toaster waffle. Instead of being made of deadly crap, they’re made of – and I’m not exaggerating: whole wheat flour, oat flour, brown rice, triticale, barley and buckwheat and ground flaxseed. And blueberries. For 150 calories, I can have two of these whole grain marvels, and for less than another 100 calories, a pat of butter, a drizzle of maple syrup, sliced strawberries and a dollop of plain greek style yogurt for tang. A dash of cinnamon over that and I’m in breakfast heaven. Fiber, protein, fruit – can’t go wrong.

2) Laura’s Wholesome Junkfood Extreme Chocolate Fudge Bite-lettes. I don’t have an appetite for sweet things right now, and these are a good balance of light sweetness and rich chocolate – like a good dark chocolate bar can be. But these little balls of goodness have rolled oats, rice flour, dates, coconut and soy powder, and just two of them have only 110 calories. They’ve got a little dose of potassium, calcium, iron and protein. And they’re dark chocolate. Two make a perfect midafternoon snack for me right now. Whoever you are, Laura, thank you.

3) Naked brand fruit smoothie drinks. I always avoided these because, though delicious and packed with real fruit puree and juice with no sugar added, they’re pretty calorie dense drinks. A 15 oz bottle is considered 2 servings and contains 300 calories. BUT, no fat, no added sugar and, depending on which fruit blend you’re drinking, a host of vitamins and minerals, micronutrients and antioxidants. Since I need like 300 calories more daily to feed the Red Bean and all the additional personal uh, attributes, for incubation, it’s a nutritious snack I no longer feel guilty about. Usually on my walk home from work I’m pretty hungry and feeling a little ill. A bottle of Naked makes me feel worlds better and tides me over till I can rest and then fix something for dinner.

Now for books. Pregnancy books are a touchy subject to me, because, as I have mentioned, most of them suck hard. They’re badly written, boring, and assume that a) you and your spouse don’t get along, b) you have every right to be the worst, most selfish version of yourself right now to other people  while being some kind of monumentally regal baby-making goddess, and c) your ability to make good choices depends on said books. For that reason, I’m pretty much not reading any more of them. But three have made the cut. Maybe others will but I remain skeptical.

1) The Pregnancy Countdown Book. OK, this one does all three of the things above, but still offers some fun insights into baby’s development, in page-a-day format for the 240 or so days of pregnancy. I don’t love it but we keep it by the toilet, and I dislike it less than some others.

2) Bonding Before Birth. A joyful little book that I read in full on a bus ride home from New York, Bonding Before Birth is an encouraging look at all the ways you can do good things for your weetle bean while it’s cookin’. The author is a little opinionated at times, and has a tendancy to pick and choose which research she holds sacred and which she takes with a grain of salt, but overall it’s a neat look at how mom’s life affects babe. For example, when I exercise, the endorphins that make me feel good afterward make baby feel good too. When I’m relaxed, baby and I are equally free from the damaging effects of high cortisol levels. When I’m eating good foods, (duh) baby gets good stuff to build parts with. She describes it more artfully, and I really enjoyed reading it. It’s one of the only books I’ve come across that praises sex during pregnancy – love and affection between partners makes mom happy, and all the good hormones in my system afterward also reach baby. Oxytocin, the “love and bonding” hormone, has similar wonderful affects for baby that it does for mom and dad. I appreciated that at least one pregnancy book makes the assumuption that the people who just decided to become parents actually love each other and enjoy sex, and encourage the having of it. Bravo, Dr. Stoddard.

3) Momma Zen. I cannot describe how wholly I love this book. In a series of open-hearted essays, the author describes her experience of pregnancy and motherhood as a path in her life’s journey toward balance and wholeness. I love her warm and encouraging tone, even when laying bare the loss of her desired “birth plan”, the agony of sleep deprivation,  the challenge of not giving way to the lust for stuff. She describes each of her steps in terms of how to yield gracefully to the new things happening to you, to the new forces at work and in control of your body and your time, and to the magic that awaits each moment. Her writing makes me feel peaceful, capable and assured. Also, it has Cherrios on the cover. I plan to give this book to every pregnant friend for the rest of my life.

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Reviving my Personal Food “column”,  here’s a wonderful essay from food blogger Jessica Rodgers.  I met Jessica when I traveled to San Diego in August for an improv workshop weekend. Jess improvises too, and it was such a busy weekend we didn’t get much time to talk about our love of blogging about food.  I did, however, check out her blog (link at the end of the essay) and this girl loves her some good food. Here’s her personal food story.

Jessica, eating.

Food is one thing. Put it with people, and you’ll see who we really are. How do we act when we eat? Do we hound something down quickly? Do we savor the textures and tastes? Do we laugh with the people there with us? I think that because people need food, we establish a kind of relationship with it. Everyone’s is different. However, with each meal, there is a story to tell. Who are you at your meal? How you eat now versus how you used to eat might say a lot about you. (more…)

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I had a great experience at the Smithsonian Resident Associate’s program Food Writing Class with Monica Bhide. I first came across Monica and her talents as a writer and chef at Svelt Gourmand (and made a little post about it) back during the May Blogathon.

Monica’s class was part honing our food writing skills and part creatively marketing our work to viable sources. The day ended with a fantastic panel discussion with DC area food writers and publicists that has sparked a few writing ambitions in my little heart.

Monica also spent a little time on the subject of recipe development, which inspired me to take my own recipe creations a little more seriously. A few tips I learned from Monica on recipe development:

  • Eat and drink a lot of different things and be curious! Develop your palate by cooking and eating many different things.
  • There’s really no such thing as an original recipe. For a recipe to be yours, you must have at least 4 ingredients different from other similar recipes, and use a different method of preparing or combining them.
  • If your recipe is adapted from someone else’s, say so – there is nothing wrong with working from a proven recipe and adding your own touches.
  • If you tasted a recipe and then figured out how make something very close to it, use the term “inspired by” and credit the place where you tasted it.
  • Get bored with the “same old”, and be willing to try almost anything! (more…)

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If E.T. is kind of a farmer, Drew Barrymore is me, asking how much for a pound of onions.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (the school at the top of my list for future ag-econ studies) wrote up this little piece on “food tiers” describing in easily understandable terms the various sources of foodstuffs in terms of the relationship of consumer to producer. Tier Zero is me and my balcony tomatoes; Tier One is me chatting up the onion farmer while he weighs my onions at the farmer’s market; Tier Two is me ordering my veggies each week from South Mountain Creamery; Tier 3 is me shopping at Whole Foods, or choosing the organic line of Giant’s products via my Peapod shopping; Tier 4 is the food my shelf whose origins I cannot account for, or the ingredients in other food I’ve purchased that come from anonymous fields of corn or soy, or out-of-season fruit from Panama or Chile. It’s an interesting (and quick to read article) who’s main point is that, as Tier 1 values gain ground among consumers, Tier 2 is a key focus of the action, and both Tiers 1 and 3 will play vital roles in making a Tier 2 experience more widely and effectively available.

What “tier” is your most typical shopping experience?

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This 11-year old presented at a TEDx Talk in Asheville, NC. It’s a little bit adorable and a little bit annoying all at once, but I’m happy that any kid would pick organic farmer over NFL player for his “what I want to be when  grow up” answer.

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From American Institute for Cancer Research‘s summer newsletter- a great story about a fine chef who found the wellspring of her recovery from colon cancer in eating high-quality plant foods and enjoying a variety of physical activities.

Charlottesville, Virginia chef Sarah Lanzman

Sarah Lanzman says she feels better now than before she was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer six years ago.

An award-winning chef for 30 years, Sarah started out as a community organizer in Southern California. “I’d make pots of bean stew and different breads to go with them to feed 150 people,” she recalls.

Sarah travelled the world as a student, living in Kenya for a year and learning about African and Indian cuisines. Then she moved to Europe, studying Italian and French cooking and living in Germany for 10 years.

Settling in Charlottesville, Virginia, she and her husband raised three daughters and started Lorelei Caterers. Sarah won awards for best desserts two years running against other area chefs in a city known for its fine restaurants. Sarah and her husband grew 90 percent of the vegetables and herbs they used in catering on their 10-acre farm. [Click here to read the rest of Sarah’s story]

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It’s a good thing I’m reading these two books simultaneously.

I’m (according to Kindle) 41% of the way through Paul Roberts’ The End of Food.  It’s a long book, and thus far Paul has walked me through human history from our first meals of nuts and bark to our current astonishing dichotomy of feast and famine where there are as many overweight/obese people as there are starving people in the world;  where industrial agricultural yields have soared, but the vital sources of those yields – water, stable weather patterns, and fertile soil – are being lost at alarming rates; where food is a booming global business, but markets are artificially created, manipulated and propped by government and corporate policies that put more food into the mouths of the fat and more money into the hands of shareholders, while hungry people and farmers starve. (more…)

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