While taking a turn at a farmers market, I encountered sweet peas and was reminded of the best sweet pea soup I ever had in England. They had put mint in the soup and blended it well with cream. Since then I have tried my own variations until I came with this savory slightly spicy creamy green pea soup. Adding yogurt cools it and gives it a nice tangy twist.
Happy eating friends!
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 large Leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium Yellow Onion, chopped
1 medium Shallot, minced
2 Garlic cloves, minced
2 cans Garden Peas, rinsed (substitute with 1lb fresh peas)
2 medium Red Potatoes, chopped
1 Bay leaf
1 teaspoon Dill
1 Lemon, juiced
8 cups Chicken or Vegetable broth
1 cup Yogurt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper flakes
In large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, shallots, and leeks. Sauté for 3 more minutes.
Add broth, bay leaf, lemon juice, potatoes, and peas, bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.
Working in 2 batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to pot and add dill. Heat mixture over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper; serve immediately. Serve with 2 tablespoons of yogurt and bread.
This past weekend the Dominican Day parade took place in NYC. During my stay here in Queens I got to see many Dominicans out celebrating and was reminded of the food from my childhood. Many of the authentic Dominican dishes I know how to make, take a while to cook, and some of the ingredients can be hard to find. Mangú however, is made out of boiled green plantains, which can be found anywhere. It is a side dish often served at breakfast with fried eggs and an onion garnish.
This a quick delicious dish that adds potassium, vitamin C, B-complex, and vitamin A to your meal. Shake up your breakfast and bring the tropics home.
Happy eating friends!
4 unripe Plantains
1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup Water at room temperature (reserve the water from boiling the plantains)
2 Garlic Cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon Cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red Vinegar
Under running cold water peel the plantains. Once peeled cut the plantains in half then again in half lengthwise. Half once more lengthwise.
In a deep skillet put in enough water to cover the plantains with about an inch to spare. Salt the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add in the plantains and cook until tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove the plantains from the water and in a medium sized bowl, mash the plantains with a fork until they are very smooth with little to no lumps.
In a small pan quickly sauté mashed garlic until golden. Mix in garlic, olive oil, and reserved water with plantains. Continue to mix until it turns into a smooth puree.
In a small pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil over low heat. Add onions stirring lightly until they become transparent, about 3 minutes. Pour in vinegar and salt to taste. Cook for another minute.
Garnish mangú with onions, cilantro and serve with sunny side-up eggs.
After a wonderful Memorial Day weekend of grilling, friends, and seriously over eating, I started thinking of lighter summer meals. While being light on calories, this salmon burger is heart healthy, and very tasty . Don’t sacrifice important nutrients and fats for over-processed diets or low-fat ingredients. Using only whole ingredients this meal will get you bikini ready.
In the spirit of not wasting food we used up our spinach leaves which were starting to wilt. I also grilled the salmon skin until crisp making a delicious side to the burger. Salmon skins go great with the yogurt sauce.
A couple of days ago we posted a very interesting video called ¨The Science of Addictive Food¨ made by CBCT The National on our Facebook page. It discussed the way fast food is being produced or actually engineered to be more addictive. We keep on discussing many reasons for the growth of obesity among many western cultures. Different media are alerting that obesity ratios are higher than ever, that there is a growing number of obese people in France, which before was known for its healthy diet. Despite all these alerts and many campaigns about healthy food, fast food and processed food consumption is growing, which is the main driver for obesity related problems.
The video I mentioned above inspired me to write about this problem. It explains how the big food companies such as Unilever, Kelloggs, PepsiCo, Nestle, Coca-Cola or Kraft, are producing their food. Their food production starts not with farmers working on fields but with highly experienced engineers working in laboratories. Some neurosurgeons work on finding the relation between texture of a given food and the pleasure it gives to us in the brain. There’s more. There are studies being conducted to find a way to confuse our brain. Everybody knows Cheetos and their tendency to melt in our mouth. Actually this phenomenon has a scientific name: Vanishing Calories Density. It is a hypothesis created by Dr. Robert Hyde. Its principle is to send a message to our brain saying that the caloric intake is less than actually consumed. This phenomenon provokes us to eat more of a given produce.
Another example of what kind of research the big food companies are spending a major part of their profits is the texture of the food we eat. Did you know that a traditional yogurt density and percentage of fruits put in it is scientifically calculated? Food engineers are preparing a special formula so that our taste receptors situated on our tongue can immediately send a message to our brain about the pleasure we are experiencing. Processed food gives us pleasure, because of the presence of one or more of these three ingredients: salt, sugar and fat. Salt enhances flavors, sugar gives us pleasure (some sugars are even addictive) and fat helps to us to have a great feeling of smoothness while eating. If you try to eat Ritz crackers, which have not been processed with salt, you would probably not eat them because they’d taste like sand cookies.
In my opinion the conclusion is quite easy. Even though some of us are aware of these issues, processed food is too tempting so everybody wants to grab an occasional Cheeto or a Ritz cracker with some cheese. In my next post I will discuss the way processed food is being commercialized and what are the main messages of companies such as Coca-Cola.
However, we cannot blame everything on the food system, which is actually mainly based on us – consumers. There is a huge precipice between what we know, what we are aware of and what are we doing in order to improve ours or our kids diets. In Poland, the Gdansk Medical School has carried out a research stating, that 10% of 6 year-old kids (pre-school age) are overweight. If we analyze the same data for 9-10 year-old kids (after 2 to 3 years of school) the percentage of overweight children rises to 18%. An easy answer to this problem would be: It is because in school stores you have so many processed foods. Yes, correct. However, kids do not possess the possibility of earning money (at least in developed countries), so who is responsible for the fact that some 9 years old come to school with $5 bills, which mostly get spent on sweets and chips. Kids at this age start to make their own decisions that make them feel independent.
A lot of parents say that kids do not like to eat fruits or vegetables and that there is nothing they can do about it. This is the moment when parents should look at their food preferences. Children usually adopt food preferences that they’re exposed to at home. Recently I heard a story about a 5 year-old girl brought up in a vegetarian house. She came to a party where there were many delicious kinds of hams, pastry and other elaborated dishes. She would sneak into the kitchen and pick up raw vegetables and fruits to snack on. Who would think that it is possible? If you really are fed up with how our food system looks like, please start looking at your own food preferences now, because it is not too late to make a change. Unfortunately, if you don´t do something you just become another victim of the big vicious cycle of the food system.
There are probably as many myths as there are dialecticians. In my opinion specific beliefs on food depend on the beliefs of our mothers who told us from childhood what we should eat and what we shouldn’t. Some say that we are the only species that drink milk as adults; others say that red meat is really bad for us or that we shouldn’t be eating eggs every day. I would like to give you some examples of food myths that in fact are not true according to PhD. Malgorzata Drywien from the SGGW (Warsaw University of Life Sciences).
EGGS People that naturally produce more cholesterol should not be eating eggs. As far as healthy people are concerned there are no limits. There are studies that revealed that by eating one egg a day we become healthier. Eggs have luteine, which is good for the protection of our eyes. Moreover eggs are a good addition to diets, because they release hormones that make us feel full.
RED MEAT There is no actual problem with red meat itself. However, many people eat it in form of steaks or in hamburgers, which is not the healthiest way of preparing red meat. Many people forget that red meat also includes pork, goose or wild meat, which is much healthier than beef. Moreover, people who eat 500 gr of meat every day definitely have to reduce it, because the suggested amount doesn’t pass 200 gr a day. Another fact is that people who actually avoid meat are often those who have already a very balanced diet filled with eggs, fish, cheese and beans.
Another thing is that red meat has a lot of iron, which is an important element for the functioning of our blood system and the meat proteins help iron to get into our blood. This is a big problem for vegetarians that don’t get enough of iron and they are much more likely to get anemia. However, Asians are used to a plant based diet for hundreds of years so their intestines have adapted to their diet.
CHICKEN The nutritious value of chicken is high, because it is low in fat, especially when it is correctly bred. It doesn’t mean that we should eat chicken every day. We should look for animal proteins in other products such as pork, fish, eggs or cheese. Chicken meat doesn’t have vitamin B12, which pork has or omega acids, which fish has.
FISH In fact eating fish every day wouldn’t be such a great idea. Long living fish, such as Tuna, should be avoided because they gather in their body dioxins and heavy metals, e.g. Mercury. Much safer are sweet water fish, which we should eat once or maybe twice a week.
CAFFEINE Drinks that consist of caffeine are of course coffee and among others tea or chocolate (in powder). It is also a rich source of bioflavonoids and antioxidants that protect against cancer. However, they contain oxalic acid, which is a substance known as antinutritious. It is present more in chocolate than tea and in coffee. After drinking these beverages our level of magnesium will go down, but we can always eat something that will help us to get back to the suggested level of magnesium.
If you are interested in reading more about food myths, please come back to our site in the next few days, as we will keep updating them on a weekly basis.
‘You are what you eat’. A phrase we heard so often that we have stopped paying attention to what it actually means. Or maybe, we never grasped this idea in the first place? After all, it is made of 5 little words that we use constantly on a daily basis.
Food, after water, is our most important need. It keeps us energized, keeps our body moving and our hearts beating. It’s like gasoline and our bodies are cars. Just as car’s come in different shapes and sizes, so does gasoline, which can be cheaper or more expensive depending on its quality. So, if you put a cheap gasoline in an expensive car, or even an old one, both engines will start performing worse. And after constantly feeding the engine with low quality oil, the car gets ruined and stops running.
This analogy is perfect for describing our own bodies. We all come in different shapes and sizes, but what matters most is the fuel we put into ourselves. Whether your body is in tiptop shape and is the latest model, or an average car, the food that you put in it will have similar effects. Good food will help keep you energized and your heart engine running for many years. Low quality food doesn’t discriminate with bodies and likes to ruin them all.
Now that we know a more broad idea behind the small phrase, we can take a look at how it plays out in real life. With information from countries in different parts of the world we can paint a picture of how our diet affects our life. To do this, we analyzed various cultures of the world and tried to see whether the food the population eats has any effect on their health.
The results we found were not surprising. People in Asia eat fish, and a lot of it! The sushi capital is Japan, and eating fish is part of their culture. In theory this diet should be very healthy, but recent rise in mercury contamination has actually made it a source of health problems. In USA, where fast food nature comes installed in every newborn, people suffer from a different illness, one that causes obesity, thanks to all the fat and processed food consumption. The healthiest people on the list are the French. In fact, their Mediterranean diet went through a phase of popularity, with everyone being eager to adopt it in hopes of getting a perfect body, without giving up on tasty food. And this is clear; on the French diet you can eat all the dairy, bread and drink all the wine you want, without becoming obese. The secret is portion control and a less sedentary lifestyle. In Africa, lack of physical and economical access to sufficient and nutritious food has left most of its population food insecure and malnourished. Currently, about one third of the continent’s population lives in chronic hunger.
So what does this picture paint? Those 5 words are very important and shouldn’t be taken so lightly. After all your food makes up who you are and how your life plays out. You can choose to be healthy or not by the type of food you put on your plate.
Growing portions is a big problem of our civilization, as far as the food system is concerned. Serving portions are far bigger today than they were in the past, which often leads to an intake of far more calories than we actually need. It is particularly a problem in the USA. People that have visited McDonald’s in both Europe and USA know that a large Coke in Paris would be a small one in New York (not considering the possibility of refills that doesn’t exist in all countries).
Scientist agree that the increase in portion sizes accounts to an additional 50-150 calories per meal. It is not a big deal if we consume such portions once in a while. However, a daily injection of additional 100 calories can lead to an addition of extra 10 lbs of weight a year. Nowadays, people eating in fast food restaurants can get the daily amount of calories in one meal. Think about it, small french fries have 210 calories, while the large size has 610 calories. A small soft drink contains 150 calories, while the 42-ounce cup has 410 calories. If you add to that a giant hamburger you have to count around 1,000 calories, which would add up to a total of 2,020 calories!!
To give you a broader notion of how the caloric consistency of our food has changed from the 1950‘s to today, I will give you a couple of examples:
French fries – 2.4 ounces à up to 7.1 ounces
Fountain soda – 7 ounces à 12 to 64 ounces
Hamburger patty – 1.6 ounces à up to 8 ounces
Hamburger sandwich – 3.9 ounces à 4.4 to 12.6 ounces
Muffin – 3 ounces à 6.5 ounces
Pasta serving – 1.5 cups à 3 cups
Chocolate bar – 1 ounce à 2.6 to 8 ounces
Some people say that maybe you don’t need to eat the entire portion that was served to you. Even though many people don’t care about wasting food, the majority of the population knows from an early age that “no food should be left on the plate”, since there are children starving in Africa.
A study carried out by Massive Health found that if we are served a portion of 500 g (a little bit more than a pound), on average we will eat only 335 g. On the other hand, if we get a portion of 1,000 g we will eat 434 g. That means that with bigger portions we eat 30% more, and these bigger portions don’t necessarily make us feel any fuller.
In order to win this battle with growing portions all over the world, I wanted to give you 3 simple tips:
When you eat out try to split an entrée with a friend or put the half of the meal in a to-go container.
When you eat at home try to serve meals on your plate rather than serving it on serving dishes placed in the center of the table.
You can also keep healthier foods in places that are easier to access and tempting foods, such as cookies, out of sight, in cupboards.
When you have the possibility to choose a smaller portion, go for it. If you eat it slowly, believe me you won’t feel hungry at all!
When we think about food waste, our thoughts often ends at the moment when we realize that a given produce has been thrown away. We tend to forget about all other derivatives that are also thrown away at the same moment. A few weeks ago I posted an entry about how food waste also leads to land misuse or mismanagement. Today I would like to reveal results from a study that I found extremely interesting.
“The Progressive Increase of Food Waste in America and Its Environmental Impact” was carried out by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The study gives you a very important piece of information, i.e. food waste leads to wastage of all the energy that was put into the production of food. According to the research “in 1974 approximately 900 kcal per person per day was wasted whereas in 2003 Americans wasted, 1400 kcal per person per day or, 150 trillion kcal per year.” The rise of the energy input is directly correlated to the annual per capita rise in municipal solid food waste. “Municipal solid food waste accounts for approx. 30% of the total wasted food energy assuming that solid food from the US diet has an energy density of 1.9 kcal/g”. Figures show that food waste has grown from 30% in 1974 to over 40% in recent years, and is still growing. We also need to remember that serving portions still continue to grow. I will post a blog entry about serving portions in today’s world later.
Agriculture in the US uses around 70% of the freshwater supply. Taking into account that 40% of all food is wasted it means that around 30% of all freshwater goes to waste. In a book “How sustainable agriculture can address the environmental and human harms of industrial agriculture.” written by Horrigan L., Lawrence R.S. and Walker P. we get the information that an average farm requires 3 kcal of fossil fuel energy to produce 1 kcal of food before counting in energy required for transportation and processing. It means that food waste accounts for around 300 million barrels of oil per year, which represents approx. 4% of total US oil consumption.
I believe that it is very important to understand the immense negative impacts of the food waste problem. To be aware that food waste exist is one thing, but to know about all of its implications and impacts on the society and the environment is another, and more important one. If people don’t understand the problem the idea might not stick with them and the message won’t spread. After all, the ones that know the most can explain a given issue better.