Monday, November 16, 2009

Trading Post Basics

Remember the Oregon trail?

Ahh, they days were you were supposed to be learning to type, word process or research, you were on the Oregon Trail, finding fruit with Indians (there were no Native Americans in 2-bit land) or caulking your wagon across the river and watching all your friends die of cholera and dysentery? Fun times!

Remember the very start of the game? Where you had to ration out supplies and goods? Basically, let's go back to that. This is a simple cash & calorie saving idea that EVERYONE can do, from chef to foodie.

Talk to the people that make your food. I went to the farmer's market in Jamaica last Friday, as well as the Friday before. I picked up yellow tomatoes, and some Crispin (a.k.a. Mutsus) apples to try out. I was also checking out some baby pears and local greens, but I passed on buying them.

I really dug the Crispins, so I went back. I'd spied the baby pears I from the week before and the farmer noticed this, and remembered me from that other Friday. Since I'd asked him questions and bought some goods before, he let me try the baby pears for free. He originally offered me one, but I ended up with four.

Now, before you run off to become BFFs with your local corner store guy, be mindfl that this won't happen each time. They need to sell their food to live, and stuff. However, I find that I get really good fruit when I talk to my produce guy. I have 2 regular ones I visit. They like that I actually buy stuff, that I often come back for more stuff, and that I tell people their stuff is good. In exchange, I get good, well priced seasonal fruit and monthly samples.

What's also cool about talking to the people is that you get it straight from the source. If you want something in particular, they'll be happy to tell you when they'll have it since you come back. You'll also be rationing out because you're buying what you need -- I love strawberries, but I won't buy 4-5 cartons if I can't take them home easily.

My main fruit man is on the corner of Parsons & Jamaica Avenue in Queens. I call him my little strawberry man because he once told me he only gets strawberries as sweet as him. To this day, I cannot get him to repeat that message to anyone else, because I used it once to help him with a sell. Heh.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Foodprint - Flavor Transfering Lesson One

I want to talk to you about flavor transferring.

Flavor transferring, well what I call "flavor transferring", is taking a combination of food and spices and either adapting it to a method or translating it into a dish.

It's one of the many ideas that helps me maintain my weight. I identify what I like about a food and then try to either make my own version at home, which is lower in fat because I'm controlling the ingredients, or I make a new dish out of a favorite by incorporating new flavors. (Like when I cheat on my PB&J sandwich.)

When I think about what I eat, I kind of categorize it into meals. These are the categories:

starch & meat
quick breads and cakes
veggies & fruit sides

There's no hard rule to this list. You could add tons more categories, but I feel like this encompasses pretty much all the food I eat. Thinking about the food in categories allows me to think what flavors I'd like to transfer from one dish to another.

Here's how this works: take the one category of food, such as a sandwich, and insert it into another, like a salad.

Example: Pizza. Okay, so pizza isn't technically a sandwich, but it has the basic idea of a sandwich, just stay with me..

Pizza is basically bread, cheese, tomato sauce and toppings. To "flavor transfer" pizza into a salad, take the cheese, toppings, spices and "remove" the sauce. Make yourself some whole wheat pasta, toss it with cheese and toppings. Add a good quality oil for flavor and heart healthy fat, then top it off with a pinch of Parmesan cheese for extra flavor. Real Parmesan. Not the can, I love the can, it's cute and small, but it's not the real thing!

Not only have you used the flavors of a pizza to make a "new" dish for yourself, you were hopefully smart enough to add in veggies with your favorite toppings. This flavor transfer also doubles as a pasta salad (see, it's a salad, but a pasta salad) when served cold.

Now, go forth and transfer!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Everywhere you look, there's a heart...

If you've grown up watching full house, I'd like you to close your eyes and remember the music they played whenever one of the kids learned a lesson. The really, really saccharine one.

Yeah! That ONE. Okay, ready?

Inspiration is important. What inspires you does not inspire me in the exact way. It's also important to be inspired because it's harder to deem the value of things as the world changes. Is your health important? Sure. Is money important? Of course! Are friends and family worthwhile? I ponder that last one a lot. (Kidding.) But, who tells you what or who is more important than the other when it comes to you?

I saw this last month on Rachael Ray. I think this man is super awesome. Not just awesome, but super awesome. It's proof positive that whatever you want, even the unlikeliest of the unlikely, it's always possible to achieve it.

Or, this man totally sold his soul. I haven't decided yet.

(Okay, tying this in now to the whole food thing.)

R.D. or R.D. no degree, I can't make you eat anything healthy, exercise, make good decisions or good judgments. That's up to you and inspiration. It's so easy to be demotivated, I get it. The world is a big, bad scary uninspiring thing.

But, if you find yourself uninspired, then what are you doing?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Self-Audit! It's April in November!


If you ever wanted to be a tax auditor..this isn't your chance. But it's kind of the same. If you really buy into the metaphor.

Now, how extensive you want to be is up to you. But, what I like to highlight it just writing down all the things you eat for a few days, then dissect it. Here's a small survey to help you.

  1. Did I eat something new each day?
  2. Am I getting enough fruits and veggies?
  3. Did I eat breakfast?
  4. When do I eat my biggest meal?
  5. When I am hungry?
  6. Did any special events occur?
  7. How many meals were take-out?
  8. How many were on the go?
  9. How many licks does it take to get to the center of the tootsie pop?

That last question is vital. The world may never know.

Anyhow, these are some questions I ask myself. Anytime I read or hear something new in the world of dieting and food nutrition, it's something I can tie back to one of these questions. For example, "how many meals were take-out and on the go" pertains to the article I posted about the calorie counts on menu items. Which is also related to the obesity epedimic.

You know the obesity epidemic. I'm sure you've heard of it, it's very bad.

You probably eat a lot of your meals outside your house -- coffee in the morning, Chinese for lunch, McDonald's for the kids, the new place uptown that's doing discount, etc -- you get my point.

Food is everywhere, everywhere except your house!

This may not be a bad thing, but it should be a thing you keep under wraps. The price I pay for a 12 oz bag of Starbucks coffee (and I buy it on sale -- sometimes with a coupon) will buy me maybe 3 1/2 tall REGULAR non-Starbucks coffees. My point is, obviously I get much more out of one bag I brew at home. The extra money that I can save I could shift to buying maybe the healthier, yet more expensive option at my favorite restaurant. Making better food choices doesn't always mean that you have to immediately go back to cooking at home. If you hate cooking, don't do it. But, it doesn't mean that you can't audit and budget your food calories and your food dollars.

So, try and audit yourself. Seriously, there's nothing to lose. If you fail your audit, you won't lose your job and the IRS won't take your house, so stop fretting and try it already. If your feeling extra bold, you can email me your answers to with "Food Audit" in the subject line, and I will post them and mock you. Or, I will extract bits, make some jaunty remarks and observations that are ...disclaimer coming .. no way substitute for medical advice. Happy auditing!