Category Archives: real food

Crunchy Crunchy Chips!

Our Love Affair with Crunchy

Do you ever wonder why you love eating crunchy foods? I love crunch. LIke, really really love it. I hadn’t thought too much about it (I assumed it was the salt) until a few days ago. I happen to be reading an amazing book called Gulp, by Mary Roach. She is one of my favorite authors. Somehow she manages to take really taboo subjects and make them accessible and hysterical. Gulp is all about digestion. Another favorite of mine is Stiff, which is all about what happens to our bodies when we die. Sounds morbid, but it’s so so informative, interesting and funny!

gulpAnyway, back to crunch. According to Roach and the experts she interviews, there are a few reasons we like crunchy foods. One reason is that humans have a penchant for destroying things. Think about video games, going to the gym, boxing, popping bubble wrap (thanks, Alex), or any of the other things we do to “let off steam”. When we eat crunchy food, we are getting sensory feedback that we are destroying something, from the sound of the food breaking into pieces, to the feeling of the pieces in our mouth. Way to go! Who needs violent video games when you can eat crunchy food!

But, even more importantly (to me, and maybe you if you’re reading this because you’re into health), we have evolved to prefer foods with a crunch. In nature, we can tell if a food is fresh by its firmness. What a carrot is just picked, it’s full of nutrients and has the most nutritional value it ever will. At that point, it will be crunchy because it’s cell walls are all intact and full of water. As the carrot gets older, some of the cell walls break down, leaving the carrot limper and limper. In this case, there is no longer a nice crunch. This is the case with many vegetables. So, pre-nutrition label times, our wonderfully smart bodies evolved to prefer crunch as a sign of maximum nutrition.

Fast forward a whole bunch of years and in comes processed food. Now our bodies are confused! We’re wired to love crunch, and now there is more crunch available than ever before, all in shiny bags! What do we do!

Right, what do we do?

With all the crunch readily available, we’ve become desensitized. The crunch of a pepper or piece of celery is nothing like the crunch of a chip. It’s the same with sweetness! A fresh berry used to be one of the sweetest things we could get our hands on. The sweetness gave us the feedback that this berry was ripe, delicious and nutritious. Now, a ripe berry barely tastes sweet at all because of all the sugar we consume on a daily basis.

Well, now that we’re aware, we can start the process of re-sensitizing ourselves. What does it take? It takes looking at the foods in our diet and refocusing on the things that are actually good for us. Take note of your cravings. When you’re craving something crunchy are you looking for stress relief? Is your body craving nourishment? Instead of reaching for a bag of chips, try reaching for a fresh carrot or pepper. At first it may not satisfy you, but over time, your body and taste buds will recalibrate. Then, the crunch of a pepper will by music to your ears, and berries will be lusciously sweet again.

 

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Raw Corn Salad – Recipe

The Farmers’ Markets have been so beautiful and inspiring over the last couple of months. I feel so lucky to be at a market almost every day! Corn has been amazingly fresh this summer, and it’s been a big hit at the markets. Check out the recipe below, courtesy of the Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables program, for a refreshing, healthy and simple salad. Corn is also a great source of fiber. Who said healthy couldn’t be delicious? Make sure to read to the end, too. That’s where I give away my pro tips 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, I’m also chronicling my Farmers’ Market and cooking journeys on Instagram, so stop by for some photos and inspiration!

Raw Corn Salad

71cbbf65-21de-49c6-905d-fc00f8b1c882Corn is one of those vegetables that almost everyone loves. It’s bright and sweet, and just screams summer. While corn is quite popular, a lot of people don’t realize you can eat it raw! Yup, you heard me. RAW!

I remember the first time I had raw corn. I was driving back to NY from working at a retreat site in Maine. When we got to New Hampshire, one of my friends saw someone selling corn on the side of the road and demanded we stop. He bought a few ears and proceeded to eat the corn as it was, no cooking, no salt, no butter… nothing. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t reluctant, but I was surprised at how sweet and delicious it was right off the cob.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:
4 ears of corn
2 tomato, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Remove the corn kernels from the the cob by running a knife along each side.

Mix together all ingredients and enjoy!

Pro tip: Get all the delicious juices from the cob by running the back of your knife along each side of the corn. No toothpicks or floss required!

Pro tip #2: If you’re anything like me, you hate to waste. Instead of throwing away the cobs, you can make a delicious and sweet corn stock by simmering them for 45 minutes with some onions and herbs (optional). Corn soup is awesome!

Till next time!

Samantha

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What’s a Healthy Diet? Plus 3 Ways to Create Your Own

The other day I was eating dinner outside with a friend and a man approached us and said, “Hey! I see you’re eating diet food, this is my wife’s card. You should call her. She sells (insert company name) weight loss shakes.” You might be able to guess that we weren’t interested.

While I appreciate his intention, I also found the conversation frustrating. We weren’t eating “diet” food. I had quinoa, some roasted vegetables, kale, tahini and avocado. My friend was eating greens with fruit and some raw veggies. For me, these aren’t diet foods, they are simply real food. I choose to eat these foods for lots of reasons, here are some of them:

  1. Vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats taste awesome
  2. They make me feel good
  3. They give me energy
  4. They keep my body healthy and happy

The foods we were eating were simply whole, unprocessed foods. A variation of the foods my grandparents ate, and the foods his grandparents likely ate. Some people may eat this type of food to lose weight, which is great (and effective). For me, health isn’t a quick fix that can be found in a shake or packaged food. It’s about a lifestyle that places value on real, whole foods. While I use the term diet, as in a “healthy diet”, I am not on a “diet”, nor do I encourage my clients to follow “diets”. The way I eat is a part of my lifestyle, and there isn’t an end in site. It’s hard to know what to eat when there are so many quick fix diet programs and fad diets out there. I once had a coworker tell me about a diet she was on that involved eating 3 soda crackers each morning, another 3 in the afternoon with a can of tuna, and an allowance for some grapefruit and mayo. She lost some weight, but it’s not sustainable.

So what’s a healthy, whole foods diet?

balanced-plate1. Keep packaged foods to a minimum. Even if it has all sorts of buzz words on it like “healthy” “organic” “high fiber” etc.
Stick to foods you can find in the produce section of the grocery store as much as possible. Broccoli doesn’t need a nutrition label. Marketing teams aren’t spending millions trying to make fruits and vegetables look good. You get exactly what you see. No trickery or buzz words involved.

2. Eat whole and unprocessed foods.
When choosing grains, always go for the least refined option. That means brown rice over white, whole wheat or whole grain bread or pasta, and other fun grains like millet, quinoa, buckwheat or barley.

3. Fill half your place with veggies!
Ok, the USDA says fill half your place with fruits and veggies, but I say fill up on those veggies! Especially green ones. I like to call green leafy veggies the gold of all the veggies. Try to eat some at every meal. The simplest way to make greens is to saute them with some olive oil and garlic. It’s super easy and makes a great addition to any meal. (Needs more ideas? try adding frozen spinach to beans, or thinly sliced kale to your omelets. You can also check out my instagram to see what I’m eating).

Give it a try and let me know how you do. I love photos, too!

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Recipe: Chickpea Soup

Chickpeas were always a staple in my family. The first thing I learned how to cook on my own was roasted chickpeas with cumin, salt and olive oil. I guess I did inherit some of the habits and tastes from the Moroccan side of my family!
In the last year, my dad found a chickpea soup that he just loves. It seems like he’s made it almost every time I go to visit. It’s very basic, just chickpeas, onion, rosemary and lemon. I decided to add my own flare to it with more veggies and greens.
For those of you who follow my posts, you know I’m not that into recipes. I like to work with what I have, what looks good in the market, and I tend to measure by eye. That said, someone on Instagram (hi Yogacheeks!) asked that I post a recipe for the soup after posting this photo. So here it goes!
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*Note* This recipe uses dried chickpeas. It makes the soup really rich and creamy because you’re basically making stalk while cooking the beans. However, this takes a longgggggggggggg time, so feel free to sub in canned chickpeas and start at step 7.

Chickpea Soup with Spinach, Cauliflower, Tomatoes and Herbs

Ingredients
  • 4 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon
  • 1 carrot, grated or cut into small pieces
  • 1 tomato (fresh if in season, canned if not)
  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 2 cups)
  • 1 bunch spinach
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Preparation
  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight.
  2. Drain them the following morning, add the baking soda and leave for 1 hour.
  3. Rub the chickpeas in your hands or with a towel to remove the skins.
  4. Rinse the chickpeas very well 4 or 5 times.
  5. Put chickpeas in a pot and add just enough water to cover the chickpeas.
  6. Bring to the boil, removing the froth at the top with a wooden spoon just before they come to the boil. Boil for 15 minutes.
  7. Drain the chickpeas and then put them back in the pot with more water (cover them by about 2 inches). If you are using canned chickpeas, this is where you start.
  8. Bring to a boil, add grated onion, carrots and rosemary and simmer for about 1½ hours (30 minutes if canned) or until they are really tender – don’t let them get dry and add water if necessary.
  9. Add cauliflower and tomatoes when the chickpeas are soft, cook for 5 minutes, then add the spinach.
  10. Whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice together and add to the chickpeas.
  11. Simmer for about another 5 minutes and then serve.
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste and add any fresh herbs you have on hand (cilantro, parsley, basil or chives would be amazing).

Enjoy!

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