Why It’s So Bad to Say ‘I Was Bad’ After Eating


I really applaud  Women’s Health Magazine for their article on food shaming:  Why We’ve Become So Obsessed with Judging Others’ Food Choices — and Our Own by Robin Hilmantel.  I encourage you to check it out.  The article takes a look at why food guilt is so harmful and provides great advice on how to break out of the cycle of judgment.

Our obsession with guilt and remorse over food has become so common that the Comedy Central series Inside Amy Schumer even has a scene about it.  The episode gets a little wacky at the end — and it’s slightly NSFW (not safe for work) as the article describes,but it’s definitely worth watching. The group of girlfriends in the scene keep repeating “I’m so bad” about their recent food choices. The joke is that they’re so preoccupied over their food guilt that they fail to notice the things that they should be remorseful about. Take a look.

I love it that Women’s Health interviewed two of the top experts in the mindful eating field:Michelle May and Evelyn Tribole. I think they’re both terrific. Here’s what Michelle May had to say:

When we judge food as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we also judge ourselves and other people as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ depending on what we ate.  It’s obviously complex, and I think it has a lot to do with messages that we receive, sometimes early on from parents and then increasingly from friends and the media and health professionals. Ultimately, we learn through all of these sources and others, that we ‘should’ be eating kale and quinoa and avoiding steaks and onion rings.  The problem, of course, lies in the fact that our bodies don’t always crave the foods that fall squarely into the ‘should’ category — and so we start to budget ourselves and those around us for not following these strict food rules that society as outlined for us.  That believe that ‘I’m a bad person’ has a really negative consequence because the truth is that if we believe we’re a bad person, then what the heck — why not keep overeating?

After over-indulging, many people will over-compensate and try to earn their way back into “good standing” by restricting and depriving themselves, which is one of the most powerful triggers for overeating, says May.  The result is something she calls the “eat-repent-repeat cycle.”

I loved Evelyn Tribole’s ending remarks:

Let’s get the joy back in eating.  If you’re feeling guilty as you’re eating it, you can’t possibly enjoy it.

The article provides lots of great tips on how to let go of the “good food/bad food” thinking and embrace a healthy, shame-free approach to eating.  Go over to Women’s Health Magazine  and read more.

Although I hope you don’t get the same pop-up ad I did when reading the article online.The only way to avoid the ad for the magazine offering promises of “getting a bikini body” was to click a link that said “no thanks, I already have a bikini body.”

So much for food — or body — shaming.


image courtesy of dollen on flickr

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Miso Makes Its Mark: Could It Be the New Sriracha?


Is it just me, or have you noticed that miso is everywhere these days?  Maybe it’s the fermentation craze. Perhaps it’s the growing popularity of Asian cuisine.  Or maybe it’s just the continual desire for new flavors.  Whatever the case, this ancient ingredient has become a hot new food trend.  That was the topic of my last Trend Spotlight post for Healthy Aperture.

Do you know miso?  Basically, miso is fermented soybean paste that’s been mixed with a cultured grain — most commonly barley, rice or rye.  Although for people who need to avoid gluten or don’t want the soybeans, The Kitchn has a great post on gluten-free and soy-free miso pastes.

Known as koji, the cultured grain is made by adding a type of fungus or mold. Then the mixture is allowed to ferment for a couple of months or up to three years. Miso looks a bit like peanut butter in texture and the color varies from white to dark brown, based on length of fermentation and combination of other ingredients. The more soybeans that are used in the miso and the longer the fermentation time the darker and stronger the flavor.  The white and pale yellow miso varieties are lower in soybeans and have a shorter fermentation time, so the taste is milder and sweeter. The darker versions that are reddish brown in color have been fermented longer and are more pungent and robust.

The lighter miso is best for more delicate recipes, such as sauces, salad dressings or soups, while the darker varieties are used in heavier dishes. For more on the various types of miso paste, check out Bon Appetit. 

Miso originated in China in ancient times, and then spread to Japan.  You may know miso from the classic miso soup on Japanese menus.  This ancient ingredient was fueled by the macrobiotic movement in the U.S., and today many people claim that miso has abilities to detox and cleanse.  Others like it because it’s a “living food,” similar to yogurt and other fermented foods.  I like it because of the taste. I don’t expect it to work miracles.

Miso has a rich, complex flavor that adds a hit of umami to everything it touches — vegetables, salads, soups, sauces, meats and seafood.  I was amazed at all the creative ways  Healthy Aperture bloggers are using miso, including Miso Kimchi Deviled EggsCole Slaw with Miso DressingKale-Miso Saute with Dates and Millet,  Linguine with Miso Butter and  Miso Cumin White Bean Hummus.  Hummus with miso, I love it!

Hope you’ll go over to Healthy Aperture to check out my Trend Spotlight on miso and find some of the miso-infused recipes.


Image:  miso paste courtesy of only1peterkenny on flickr



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French Lemon Tart Recipe or Tarte au Citron from Paris


I recently returned from Paris.  Yes, I know that’s geographically boastful.  But I can’t help sharing some of my experiences with you. It was a quick trip — although  I was able to squeeze in a lot of great food and fun in just three days. Certainly, one of the highlights of my trip was the cooking class I took one afternoon at La Cuisine Paris.   I would highly recommend this quaint English-speaking school that sits across the Seine. There was just four of us in the hands-on French pastry class.  We made two classic French pastries:   Tarte au Citron Meringuee and Tarte Tatin. I’ll share the amazing Tarte Tatin another time.  Here’s how we made the lemon tarts.


I’m convinced now that the best pie pastry is made with butter. My mom always used shortening when making pie crust, so that’s what I grew up doing as well.  But now I’m switching to unsalted butter (if only I could get that French butter!).  I also typically use my Kitchen Aid mixer.  But there’s something really nice about making the pie pastry by hand, especially on top of beautiful marble countertops.  All of the ingredients are listed below (in metric weights).  I don’t even own a digital scale.  I plan to buy one soon and make both recipes at home very soon, so I’ll share the conversions if you’d like.  Or if you’re a serious baker, then you’ve probably already switched to weighing instead of measuring.

So let’s get started.  Cut the chilled  butter into cubes to throughly mix it into the flour.


Keep cutting until the butter is in small pieces.


Once the butter pieces are small and well coated with flour, mix the flour and butter with the tips of your fingers until the mix looks like powder.


Mix together salt, sugar, egg and water and then pour into a well that you’ve made with the flour/butter mixture.  This is my classmate Nigel from Australia pouring our egg mixture into the middle of the well.


Here’s what it looks like right before it becomes dough.  Mix all by ingredients by hand until it losing its stickiness.  Although it’s important not to overwork the dough so the gluten doesn’t develop and you’ll end up with tough dough (and dough that will more likely shrink when baking).


We rolled out the dough until thin, coating the countertops and wooden rolling pin with flour so it wouldn’t stick. We then used our tart pans as a guide to cut a larger circle.  I bought some of these mini tart pans while I was in Paris, so can’t wait to make these at home. The dough was then placed into the mold, nestled in and then we used the back of our knife to trim around the edges.  One step that I often skip is brushing away the extra flour on top.  That’s important, I learned, so the topical flour doesn’t provide a raw taste to the crust.


The bottom dough was pricked with a fork so it wouldn’t puff up in the oven.  Then we added parchment paper and dried beans to the tart pans to keep the dough in place when baking.  Chill the dough 15 minutes before baking.  The tart pans are baked for 30 minutes.  After they’ve cooled down, remove from the pan.  Do this gently not to break the tender crust.  Ours came out easily — just tip over into your hand, then lower onto a tray.


For the lemon filling, we squeezed fresh lemons and brought it to a boil with sugar.  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is thick and pale.  Add cornstarch and mix.  Pour half of the hot juices into the egg mixture to temper the eggs, mix well, then pour back into the saucepan.  Cook the lemon cream on medium heat.  When it boils, cook for 1 more minute, whisking constantly.  Transfer to a large bowl, add the cream and leave to cool.

For the meringue, bring sugar and water to a boil and cook to 118 C.  When the sugar is at 115 C, start beating the egg whites with a whisk.  When sugar syrup is at 118 C, pour onto the beaten egg whites and go on whisking until the meringue cools down (50 C).    To assemble, add the butter at room temperature to the lemon cream, a little at a time, whisking.  Pour the lemon cream into the tart shell.  Just before serving, pipe the meringue on top of the lemon cream.


Use a small torch or the oven to get the top of the meringue golden.


Ta da!  Perfection.


Tarte au Citron Meringuee


Pate brisee (short pastry dough)
250 g flour
100 g butter
6 g salt
15 g sugar
1 egg
20-30 g water

Lemon cream
200 ml lemon juice
Juice of 1/2 orange
90 g sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
25 g sugar
7 g cornstarch
70 ml whipping cream
36 g butter, at room temperature

200 g sugar
50 g water
75 g egg whites

Makes 5-6 tartelettes.

Recipe courtesy of La Cuisine Paris.

For additional inspiration (or for help with U.S. conversion of ingredients) check out:
French Lemon Tart from Food & Wine
Tarte au Citron from Epicurious
Tarte au Citron from David Lebovitz
French Lemon Tart from Saveur
French Lemon Cream Tart from Dorie Greenspan
Lemon Curd Tart from Ina Garten
Lemon Tart from Simply Recipes



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Read Between The Lines: Not All Health and Fitness Blogs Are Real


It may look like a blog.  It may seem like a blog.  But it’s not.

There’s a big problem going on.  Not sure if you realize.

This is happening to a lot of bloggers, but it just burns me up.  My blog posts are regularly picked up by “spam” websites.  These are sites that get all their content from other sources — literally scraping blog posts and putting it up on their own site (which solely exists to sell advertising and promote external links).  Sure, sometimes there’s a small credit line back to the author, but it’s primarily positioned as written by someone from the site.

For example, two of these websites recently lifted my blog post about FDA’s proposed label changes.  See for yourself.

Health and Fitness Lifestyles

Running USA

Do you think they went on CNN to talk about the label changes like I mentioned in my original post?  Don’t think so.

Do you think they actually cooked spaghetti squash or freekeh?  Those were two of my recent blog posts that were scraped without my permission. It happens virtually every time I post.

You look through either of these sites and all the content belongs to someone else.  It’s harder than you think to shut this down.  But we must.

Here’s an excellent article about content scrapers — how to find them and what to do about it.

In the meantime, be sure you’re not following these two blogs.  If you’re a blogger, see if they’re stealing your content.  Don’t like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.  Don’t give them any more credibility.

Let’s see if they steal this post!



image courtesy of UKFCA on flickr

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What’s Going On With Beets?


Have you noticed that beets are just tearing it up in the food world?   I just adore this deeply hued root vegetable — which is a polarizing player in the produce aisle.  You either love ‘em or hate ‘em. There’s no in between.   But somehow beet lovers are winning.  In a big way.

Beet mania started a few years ago. You couldn’t escape the classic beet-goat cheese salad in restaurants (image above: beet salad by jacobjacobjacob).  2011 was declared A Year That Was Good to Beets by NPR.  Now we’ve gone way beyond beet salad — these crimson vegetables are more versatile then I ever imagined.

A search on Healthy Aperture revealed  171 different beet dishes, including all sorts of salads, soups, smoothies, risottos, muffins, pancakes, fritters, fries, chips, hummus, cheesecake, cupcakes and other desserts made with beets.  You know how hot the red velvet trend is?  Well, beets are showing up as a natural way of achieving the red color.  Thinly sliced raw beets are also being used as a pasta imposter for creative ravioli dishes.


natural red velvet cake with beets by Beth Kirby on flickr


beet hummus by zoepinfold on flickr


raw saffron picked golden beet ravioli by sweet eats on flickr

What seems to have really sparked the beet renaissance is the health-related research on beetroot (also known as table beets, garden beets, red or yellow beets or simply beets).  WebMD recently wrote about beetroot’s growing reputation as a superfood.  The same natural compound in beets that give it the distinctive red color is responsible for the potential benefits: betanin.  It makes sense, typically the darker the color, the more phytonutrients inside. The beet pigment betanin is also widely used today as a natural colorant in products.  (And it’s what may give you a scare after you visit the bathroom following a beet-heavy meal — but there’s nothing to worry about if you see red.)

Some studies suggest  beet juice may be a beneficial post-exercise recovery drink.  Move over pomegranate juice?  Beets are one of the richest sources of nitrates, compounds that are important for blood flow — including to the brain, heart and muscles. Nitrates are the good stuff (converts in the body to nitric oxide), they’re different from nitrites, which are found in cured meats.


Some studies have demonstrated that beet consumption could help reduce the oxygen needs of certain exercises, make exercising less tiring and improve speed times in running and cycling competitions.

However, this study showed no improvement — although beets were consumed for only one day.  It may be that beet consumption needs to be more frequent and consistent to show a positive effect on performance.

Now this research has sparked all sorts of beet products targeting athletes.  Companies include Beet It, Beet Elite and Love Beets.

beet elite

Beets are now conveniently packaged pre-roasted in the produce aisle, and have become the basis for a variety of snacks, drinks and desserts — including these Veggie-Go’s beet strips, Plum Kids beet smoothie, and beet yogurt from Chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill, part of the savory yogurt trend.

beet veggie go's

beet mashups

beet yogurt








So get ready for the beet trend to take off even more.  Have you bought a beet product that you liked?  How have you been preparing beets lately?

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