Monthly Archives: February 2008

There Will Be Blood Oranges

Blood Orange

Blood oranges are in season! How I wish I could package their juicy essence and enjoy the ruby sweet pulp all year round, but that would defeat the purpose: these sublime beauties deserve to be eaten raw.

Blood oranges also deserve the attention they’ve been getting around the the interweb. At World’s Healthiest Foods, there’s this post on their superior nutritional profile:

These anthocyanins are flavonoid pigments that provide blood oranges with their crimson color. Blood oranges also contain vitamin C in more concentrated amounts than conventional oranges. These fruits-native to Italy and Spain-can typically provide between 150-200 milligrams of vitamin C per cup of juice. The amount of vitamin C in a cup of juice from conventional oranges is typically between 75-125 milligrams.

That’s interesting and all, but the best thing about blood oranges is their flavor – sweet, ripe and ready for a recipe extravaganza! Here are a few that have cropped up in recent weeks:

Blood orange recipes

I’ve been meaning to try the mint dressing, but I keep eating all of the oranges before I get around to making it. If only all of life’s problems were this good…

Go from Couch-Potato to Fitness ENTHUSIAST

A few wise words (among many) from Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project on learning to love exercise:

Any work-out “counts.” Give yourself credit for the least effort. My father, a runner, always said that all he had to do was put on his running shoes and close the door behind him. Why does this work? Because if I know I can quit after five minutes, I get started—and once I start, I usually follow through with my usual routine. Getting out the door is by FAR the toughest part.

Link to 10 Tips to Change Yourself From a Dedicated Couch-Potato to a Gym Enthusiast

Move across NYC by bicycle

Fitness is just a happy side effect in Jes Schultz’ move across NYC. She and her friends did the whole thing by bike in less than four hours.

This film illustrates how with a little ingenuity, determination, and friends, it can be done without creating a huge impact on your environment.

But more than that, it also shows how fun life can be when you have less stuff and more friends.

Link (via Treehugger)

Easy Tempeh Sloppy Joes

Tempeh Sloppy Joe (before things got sloppy)

When I made the list of High Protein Vegan Foods, tempeh stood out as most mysterious. I mean, what is it? The dense speckled brick looks more like a diseased internal organ than food. But in fact, tempeh IS food, and a highly nutritious, protein-rich food at that.

Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans. However, unlike tofu, which is made from soy milk, tempeh is made from whole soybeans, fermented through a natural culturing process that binds the beans into a cake. Because tempeh retains the whole bean, it is higher in protein and fiber than tofu.

Aperture-1.jpg My easy tempeh recipe is an evolution of my Auntie Jo’s sloppy joes, a quintessential American food for sure, traditionally made with ground beef, onions, tomato sauce, and bbq seasoning, then slopped on a bun and eaten with lots of napkins. You don’t need to make this with tempeh – my mom makes hers with MorningStar Farms soy crumbles. I tend to prefer cooking with unadulterated whole ingredients and the tempeh does a nice job of crumbling into the sauce and soaking in the flavors.

The hardest part about this recipe is finding vegan bbq sauce; many sauces contain Worchestershire sauce (i.e. anchovies), honey, and dubious processed ingredients. The only bottled vegan bbq sauce I’m aware of is Annie’s Naturals BBQ Sauce. Of course, you can always make your own, which would make this recipe less easy, but probably much tastier!

Tempeh Sloppy Joes

serves 4

200g tempeh, roughly crumbled
100g bbq sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 can of stewed tomatoes
A dash or two of liquid smoke
salt to taste

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan
  2. Add the onion, celery and green pepper and sauté until tender
  3. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes or more (the longer the better, the tempeh will crumble more as it cooks)
  4. Serve on hamburger buns with lettuce, tomato and sliced onion (if desired). Or, for a tidier sandwich, stuff it in a pita, or wrap it in a tortilla!

Per serving: 200 Calories (kcal); 9g Total Fat; 11g Protein; 22g Carbohydrate
Per serving (with whole grain bun): 310 Calories; 12g Total Fat; 15g Protein; 41g Carbohydrates

Approximate total cost of preparation, including buns: £6.30 (£1.60 per serving)

Nutrition information derived from the USDA food database.

What the World Eats

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55
Family recipe: Potato soup with cabbage
United States: The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week: $341.98
Favorite foods: spaghetti, potatoes, sesame chicken

I discovered Time’s Photo Essay, “What the World Eats” on Mark’s Daily Apple. I agree with Mark: these photos are a fascinating window into the world’s food cultures:

From a traditional MDA perspective, we were struck by not only what the collective grocery items say about each culture’s diet, but also by the relative cost and what we choose to pay for in each society. Finally, some photos were all too telling with the comparative “volume” of food that feeds each family.

From a not-so-typical MDA stance (if you’ll allow us the liberty), we found ourselves fascinated by this photo essay’s window into the cultural and, well, simply human experience of food – in its traditional significance and regional roots, its healthfulness and indulgence, its necessity and scarcity. It’s a view that is, at once, intimate and universal.

The photos are part of a larger book, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio.

Gym complaints up 90%

If you know me at all then you know I’m biased against the gym. The Better Business Beaureau has some more fuel for my anti-gym fire. Complaints received by BBB about fitness clubs have risen more than 90% over the past 5 years, largely due to billing complaints.

  • 41.5% due to contract disputes
  • 31.7% due to billing issues

Consumer Reports followed up with a survey to its subscribers that showed

  • The happiest customers were those who used a local or independent gyms (YMCA, community centers, yoga studios, etc)
  • Life Time fitness was the only big chain that made it to the top of the Ratings. Bally Total Fitness was at the very bottom
  • 16% of respondents reported contract or billing problems
  • 38% had trouble cancelling their memberships

My only experience with a U.S. gym was 24 Hour Fitness in Austin, Texas. My only complaints are about the personal trainer I saw for a few weeks. But to her credit, she was always on time and always made me push myself. My complaint is that she didn’t listen to “my needs” and she treated me like I didn’t know anything about food, nutrition or basic physiology. She was always focussed on looks over fitness. “This one’s great for toning.” Toning is bullshit. I was there to be a better runner.

Aside from that singular case, I actually really loved the gym. They had awesome yoga classes, even some at 6am so I could go before work. And the gym itself was clean and spacious (everything really IS bigger in Texas). I also got a sweet work discount, paying less than $30 per month which felt like a steal, a way better use of money than Cable TV.

Still, I think I need to start a How to Get Fit Without the Gym series. But that’s for another time.

On a completely different note, I think there is a ghost in my house that keeps turning down the burner on this pot of beans I’m trying to cook so I can make a 7-Bean and Lager Chili with Vegan Cornbread. But first I must go to the pool, which is, sadly enough, located in my local gym.

Link to Joining a Gym? Complaints to BBB reveal how to get fit while avoiding the pitfalls
Link to Gym complaints soar

Biking with JD

Watching the rest of the world zoom by

This might be old news for some of you, but I have to post an excerpt from one of JD’s posts on Get Fit Slowly. It’s a little bit on some cycling he did over the weekend…

On Saturday, I worked in the yard and didn’t get a chance to take a spin. Today, though, Kris asked me if I could go to Trader Joe’s to pick up some bread and some parmesan cheese. “Gladly,” I said.

This time I rode through Milwaukie, up toward Sellwood, over the three bridges path, and then up 39th to Trader Joe’s. I had to dismount once (climbing from the bike path to 38th — that’s a steep incline), but otherwise muscled through.

At Trader Joe’s I also picked up a Greek salad and some ginger limeade. On my ride home, I stopped at Sellwood park for lunch. I ate olives and feta cheese and onions and peppers and lettuce (no dressing — I don’t like dressing), rosemary bread, and limeade. Those who know me well understand that the fact that I chose to eat a salad is the most amazing part of this story. I never choose to eat salads.

As I was eating, the seagulls stood nearby and begged. They wanted my bread, but I didn’t share.

The ride home — in the glorious sun — was fantastic. Again I made it up the hill on River Road without dismounting.

JD doesn’t talk about “exercise” or calories. He talks about the simple joys that arise when you choose to get on a bike instead of into a car. It illustrates that

  • You can learn to like physical activity (and salads!)
  • You can incorporate exercise into your daily routine
  • Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore

Huge congrats to JD on making such a huge step on his path to fitness.

Link to 20 Miles on the Road to Physical Fitness

Visualize Your Food with Foodsel

Foodsel - McDONALD_S, French Fries.jpg

This is kind of a neat idea: Foodsel is a food database, similar to ours, with added visualisations of calories, sugar and fat. For example, a large serving of McDonald’s French fries has the fat equivalent to 0.4 sticks of butter!

The website also shows you how much exercise you need to do to burn off those french fries (over two hours running for me, no thanks I’d rather skip the fries!).

This visualisations are a neat idea, which can certainly provide an interesting perspective on foods we eat. However, the butter analogy can be somewhat misleading for fatty foods that are actually good for you, like olive oil and avocado.

Link to Foodsel (via Lifehacker)

USDA Order’s Largest Meat Recall EVAH

A California meat company on Sunday issued the largest beef recall in history, 143 million pounds, some of which was used in school lunch programs, Department of Agriculture officials announced.

The recall by the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company, based in Chino, Calif., comes after a widening animal-abuse scandal that started after the Humane Society of the United States distributed an undercover video on Jan. 30 that showed workers kicking sick cows and using forklifts to force them to walk.

The video raised questions about the safety of the meat, because cows that cannot walk, called downer cows, pose an added risk of diseases including mad cow disease. The federal government has banned downer cows from the food supply.

Largest Recall of Ground Beef Is Ordered (via VeggieChic)