When it comes to healing, our notion of time can behave very strangely. It might speed up or it might be infinitely slow, like molasses. When we are eager for a loved one to get better, as I am now, it can seem like forever. The body heals at the rate that it heals. I remember Rachel Naomi Remen saying disease is a weird thing; it reveals itself when it’s ready to reveal itself. It can be frustrating when all sorts of symptoms appear, but no prognosis is certain. You are left wondering...where am I?
Are you curious what the deal is about inflammation? And what you can eat to cool it down? Let me make it super simple.
Inflammation can be appropriate and helpful when it’s in response to an acute injury. The swelling and redness surrounding a cut on your finger are visible evidence of the body’s troops rushing to heal injury and prevent infection.
But what if inflammation goes off the rails?
Load up your Netflix list and get ready for a trip around the world with a cascade of visually lavish food-related movies guaranteed to stimulate your taste buds and warm your heart! For of course though each of these movies is centered around cooking, the food serves as a medium to tell the stories of families, relationships, and life experiences.
Julie Burford, my beloved Soup Sister and neighbor about whom I’ve frequently written (watch us making soup together here) is always on the frontline of cooking for people in need. She’s the Florence Nightingale of the kitchen, the one in our neighborhood who absolutely shows up with something nourishing or comforting or both when someone is sick or struggling. Her husband Stan says, “She’s the edible therapist!”
In California every spring (and briefly again in the fall) the baby artichokes arrive. It’s a very special moment, a seasonal splendor many of us cooks wait for. Especially those of us who’ve eaten the carciofi simply and elegantly prepared in Tuscany. One of the seven wonders of the culinary world!
I'm frequently asked about including salt in my recipes. Here's an important reminder from the archives about what role salt plays in both flavor and nutrition. Hopefully this will dispel any continuing confusion you may feel!
People are afraid of salt! You know how we became fat phobic? We’ve become salt phobic. We have the mistaken idea that we shouldn’t add salt to anything. Here’s my reminder: if you’re cooking with whole foods and you’re using good quality salt, you don’t have to be phobic about it because it’s doing it’s job: balancing potassium and building flavor.
In the scheme of things, your brain is one of your greatest treasures. Learn to take care of it! Feed it what it needs. This post from the archives will fill you in on brain nutrition basics. And, by the way, you won't miss a beat on flavor! Brain healthy foods include some delicious favorites. I recommend making them part of your repertoire, and weaving them into your day on a regular basis.
I often speak about turning your black and white food world into technicolor; moving from all the tan and beige on the Standard American Diet (SAD) plate to the rainbow-hued plate of the healthy whole foods cook. Over the years we’ve learned that rich color actually signifies the presence of nutrient density. The deeper the purples, blues, and reds for instance, the greater the concentration of antioxidants. The ruby red raspberries, indigo wild blueberries, and purple-black blackberries really are nutritional gems of the plant kingdom.
It's that time of year! Asparagus is on the way. As those of you who have followed my blog or played with my cookbooks already know, I am WILD about asparagus. Are you with me? Do like to eat asparagus in all its guises as long as you can get it while it's truly fresh and seasonal? It's uniquely delicious AND the perfect detoxifier as spring arrives. If you're already in love with this elegant vegetable—or if this will be a new romance—here's a favorite blog post to help you dive right in.
Can I help it if I wear my culinary heart on my sleeve?
Those who know me, especially my farmer buddies at my local market, know that this is the time of year I SWOON over what I call those elegant green long ladies of spring.
Your inspiration for the week: don’t overlook cabbage! I call cabbage the bocci ball of the cruciferous set. A bowling ball, a big, heavy dense, ball of leaves. In terms of nutritional benefits, cabbage rocks. It’s chock full of goodness! Fiber, potassium, choline, B12, iron, selenium, pantothenic acid (B5), manganase…. But. It’s like the stepchild of broccoli and kale. It’s the humblest of vegetables. Nobody even thinks about it.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, I could be thinking about chocolate...but I’m thinking about the color red. And I might be thinking about strawberries… but I’m thinking about beets!
Is everyone around you coming down with colds and flu? And those nasty respiratory infections that linger so much longer than anyone expects? That’s February. A volatile month, a gauntlet we run to make it to spring. Whether you’ve got kids in school, like little Petri dishes scooting around, or you’re hopping on an airplane, or shoulder to shoulder on the subway, unless you live in a bubble, you are vulnerable.
One of THE great books of 2017, and sure to endure: Karen Page and photographer Andrew Dornenburg’s Kitchen Creativity: Unlocking Culinary Genius—with Wisdom, Inspiration, and Ideas from the World’s Most Creative Chefs. That’s a tall order! And in this, their 11th book, they deliver.
You know when you’re on the same path as someone, and you’re aware of them, but you never meet? Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, CDN and I were like that. We both did culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute, then got our masters in nutrition. I heard a recording of a talk she gave at a symposium, explaining how to use food to help people chronic illness. She was so incredibly dynamic! I reached out to her via email, we talked on the phone (for like an hour! I was on my dentist’s parking lot) and finally met in person when I was in New York and she invited me onto her radio show.
Here’s a woman who inspires me: Grace Young, who is THE absolute grand dame of the stir-fry. She’s been called the Stir-Fry Guru and the Poet Laureate of the Wok. I think of her as ne plus ultra, a major-award winning cookbook writer and food journalist who is THE one to teach and inspire us all to become sit-fry masters.
My word for this year is… inspiration!
Where does inspiration come from? Often from the strangest things. You go in the kitchen, you want to cook something, and you wait for something to whisper in your ear, and give you the divine answer for what to make for dinner tonight. Or you wait in front of a blank computer screen, or a blank canvas. As I start to talk about inspiration, what’s the first thing that happens? Nothing!
A spot-on post from the archives: be kind to yourself this holiday season! Have fun. Savor those special treats! I wave my magic culinary wand, thus decree. Enjoy! :)
Why do we do it? We have this tendency over the holidays to put ourselves on a LONG nonstop guilt trip, like a first class ticket to Hong Kong and back, on the most expensive airline you can imagine. We splurge and purge AND beat ourselves up over it. I have a better idea: find a way that works for you to relax and enjoy life! If you have a brownie, enjoy it! And so you don’t massively overdo, and truly feel awful, plan ahead.
When I put this list together, I felt like I was vicariously shopping for all of you! I confess I found a thing or two for myself, too. :) One thing you’ll notice about these gifts: they are NOT the latest kitchen gadgets. The kale stripper, the gimmicks, the bric a brac, the things that take up drawer space. This list is low tech, highly functional, and aesthetically pleasing. Sturdy and durable, made to last, and to inspire. And everything has been vetted, by me!
What is more precious than the gift of time? Unless it’s the gift of yum. :) How about giving both to dear friends and neighbors, the ones who will TRULY savor the delicious, delectable treats that you drop off for their enjoyment? Some might love DIY kits, with all they will need to make something marvelous, and others might like a fait accompli. I’ve got some suggestions for both!