7 Must-Read Myths about Sustainable Seafood
In terms of a powerful lever you can push in our food system to tip it towards "sustainable", you can't get much bigger than fish; it lands right up there with meat at the top of the heap when it comes to eco-impact. Yet it's also one of Earth's healthiest protein sources (packed with a litany of other benefits, ranging from Omega-3s to selenium to vitamin D), so we nutritionists love to put it on the pedestal of ultimate healthy eating. But how to choose? I chatted with ocean advocate and visionary seafood chef Barton Seaver, whose new cookbook For Cod and Country dishes up sustainable seafood that somehow manages to be dazzling, delicious, yet totally doable for the home chef (for full interview with Seaver, visit my blog). With his input, I compiled 7 myths about sustainable seafood with the truth and my tips to help you navigate the waters.
She's the goat-lovin' farm-type, all artisan-focused, organic-minded, creative with the kale, grainy, grow your own veggies, dessert expert extraordinaire (she is the mastermind and cook behind the dessert menu for Central Kitchen in Cambridge, MA), food admirer that knows how to confit stuff and roast a veggie better than anyone I know.
So, I emailed: send me a grocery list and tell me what to do with the stuff I buy. Although she didn't use proper punctuation or capitalize a darn thing, I'm posting her email because you may want to head to your favorite market this afternoon.
- Just a small sample.
- Only a bite.
- Just one.
- A small piece, please.
- I can't let it go to waste.
- She worked so hard to make it.
- Only a sip.
- Someone has to try it.
- It's a holiday!
I was able to write this list with such authority because - of course I've said these things! Especially over the holidays! I'm famous for sticking my fingers in dishes (totally rude, I know), sampling a snack, licking a spoon, cleaning a pan, picking at cheese, dipping chips and having just a taste. I don't graze...I sample. So when I read the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County's Food, Nutrition and Health article, PowerPoint and patient handout, "Tiny Tastes Can Total BIG Calories over the Winter Holidays", I was totally offended because I knew they were speaking directly to me. Once I got over my narcissistic outburst, I realized that I needed to share their keen thinking and skillful calorie calculations on tiny tastes. Could it be that I (or maybe "we") are maintaining a bit of winter insulation from these tiny tastes? Given that it takes 3500 calories a week to support (or lose) a pound of fat, what would a day of innocent sampling do to a waistline? Alice Henneman, MS, RD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension outlines it in her expose: Tiny Tastes Can Total BIG Calories over the Winter Holidays.
Food labels are supposed to be like the table of contents of a book - they're designed to tell you what's inside [the package.] Unfortunately, it's not as simple as that...many labels are confusing, and still others are downright deceptive. Words like "light", "low", and "natural" seem to be an instant magnet pulling products from shelf to shopping cart even though the items are not exactly health food material.
So to help prevent you from being fooled by the box, here are some of the most popular 'catchy' foods labels that you don't want to get caught misunderstanding:
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While many of us look at our canned goods, processed foods and salty sauces to lower our sodium intake, many (restaurants included) are taking a closer look at their ingredient list and flavor enhancers. Because of this, I'm getting more questions about the sodium content of sea salt and what I like to call, the fancy salts. If it's gray or rock or course or from the sea, does that mean less sodium? Here's your answer...
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I also wonder how many snacks are prompted by hunger and how many are grabbed due to boredom. Ever notice that around 3pm you experience a lull or mental fatigue? If I asked you at that moment, "want to get up and grab a snack?" It's likely that you'd appreciate the relief. Is that really hunger though? Are we really short on nutrients 2-3 hours after lunch? What if I said, "let's blow this pop stand and go shopping." First you'd mock me for saying "pop stand", but then you'd probably agree, even if it doesn't fill your belly.
I'm pretty sure that we've been tricked into snacking.
What really concerns me and prompted this post was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, "How Lunchtime is Turning into Snack Time".
First, apparently, we are frequent snackers. The piece noted that 56% of Americans eat a snack. With 25% of the US reporting NO PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, I'm thinking that most of these folks aren't snacking because they are training for a big race.
The second concern is the fast food trend discussed in the WSJ article. You've seen the commercials...fast food establishments are shrinking their supersized meals ever so slightly and calling them snacks. Eeek! So I was concerned about a 250 calorie snack and now we're grabbing a 410 calorie snack wrap?!?!
Its time to stand up against outrageous, gut busting snack attacks! Consider thinking twice on a few of these typical snacks, while trying some others...
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There's so much diet hullaballoo (I'm not complaining), that I was struck by this very easy, quite useful and super tasty toast post - A Toast to Toast. Oh so simple and recipes you can use - like now - not after you write down a complicated list and drive to the market. Sure, you could have figured these out on your own, but sometimes we need a reminder to help get out of a food rut or in this case, a toast rut. Here are pics of their quick ideas and check out their post about toast for how to make these treats.
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When you make the ambitious and loony decision to register for this 140.6 mile race, you may not realize that you are also committing to denying yourself commonplace activities like brunch on the weekends (you will be biking or running), late night of cocktails (bed by 9 PM), shopping for something other than gear, wearing your hair down (I can't believe how long my hair is now) or even keeping up with stuff that "make you look good". I put makeup on for the first time in months this past weekend and even had my brows threaded (like plucking or waxing). Although I have ridiculous tan lines on my arms and legs and my face looks like a handbag, my blisters and chafe marks have healed and I'm officially starting to look like a girl again.
Before I close the chapter completely, I thought I'd share with you what I ate during Ironman (mostly because that seems to be the most commonly asked question). So, check out my photo gallery of the event and here is a laundry list of what I ate for my 14+ hour day (water, ad libitum, all day).
1:25 Swim (2.4 miles)
7:18 Bike (112 miles)
5:45 Run (26.2 miles) - also known as "walk/jog"
- 4AM Breakfast: Whole grain bagel with walnut cream cheese, banana and coffee
- 1 Hour Prior to Swim Start: PowerBar gel
- Swim to Bike Transition: PB&J on wheat
- Bike: 2 bags PowerBar Gel Blasts, 1 PowerBar, 1 oz. Fritos, 1/2 PB&J, 1 package Ritz Cheese & Crackers, 1 PowerBar Gel
- Bike to Run Transition: 1/2 PB&J, 1 oz. Fritos
- Run: (this is where it gets weird because my stomach is starting to reject everything) 1 PowerBar Gel (with caffeine), ~8 oz. flat Cola, ~8 oz. chicken broth, 1 package Ritz Cheese & Crackers, 8-9 sugar cookies (yes, for about 8-9 miles, I had a cookie at every station), 2 orange slices
Immediately after the race: 2 slices of pizza
1- hour after race: a few bites of French Onion Soup and a beer
Enjoy my pics!
Everyone is talking about reducing the salt in our diet and the foods we eat and I don't mind it one bit. I've always been frustrated by its pervasiveness and irritated when the Chef can't find that delicate balance between bland and "you've got to be kidding me". It's a flavor enhancer when just barely there and a blood pressure-raising, tongue-stinging disaster when over used.
While I may view it as an occasional nuisance, salt, or more specifically sodium, has become a serious dietary issue threatening the nation's health. The recent report from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee said that, in short, Americans need to eat less salt (so far, they're saying that the new recommendation should be closer to 1500 mg per day). Coupled with our desperately low intake of potassium from fruits and vegetables, our country's high salt diet puts us at a greater risk for high blood pressure, stroke and other chronic diseases.
I was thinking...we all know that the foods that are the highest in sodium tend to be those that fall into the canned, processed, ready-made, snack, cured and fast food category...but do we really know how much sodium we are currently consuming from our mainstays, our daily preferences, the frequently consumed food in our fridge and pantry? Just how salty is your fridge, freezer and cupboard now? How salty is mine???
So, here's your homework: perform a pantry raid - find the foods you eat daily, check their labels or look them up on the USDA nutrition analysis site and compare them to the potential 1500 mg per day that the new Dietary Guidelines (due out in late 2010) might recommend as a daily limit.
I'll start with mine. Let's see how this supposed "low sodium eater" does on a daily basis with the daily basics - there may be salty surprises!
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Hello there, this is my inaugural debut as a web writer/food blogger, nice to be here, thanks for having me. When Jenna asked me to write for her this week while she rides her bike half-way across Iowa (yes, the state), I initially thought, well, crap, I don't know anything about fitness. Being her sister of sloth-like movements and habitual sedentary living, not one to ever finish an Ironman competition, let alone a high school track practice, I wasn't sure I could hold the attention of her online demographic. But then I remembered that I have a lot more in common with most of you than she does. I'm normal. You may relate to what I have to say.
So, without stalling any further, I bring you my post; my statement and declaration that you will all understand. No, I won't talk about nutrition in the same way my sister does, and fitness will not be mentioned here in any intentional way, but hopefully you will be able to follow my meandering thoughts as I navigate this crazy world of blogging in the public domain. Because, for real, I'm about to come clean on something.
I love pie. I want you to love it too. It's beautiful, crumbly, sweet, reminiscent of windowsills wafting scents of baking fruit to passers by, it is emblematic of what is good in the world (yes, I know what a big statement that was). To me, and clearly I'm a romantic and crazy person, I think that pie makes life better. I make them to feed my family and friends, and I don't just want to feed them, because macaroni and cheese and chocolate can do that, I want to satiate their urges and make them identify new taste buds. I want them to pause with it in their mouths, to smile as the crust crumbles and sweetness (maybe a bit of savory in there? is that fleur de sel?) comes through, I want them to taste the warm, farm-fresh fruit as if it were still on the vine. I even picture hand stitched aprons and table cloths, antique pie servers and plates, flowers growing and milk being delivered in glass. A warm breeze.
I'm not kidding. I am not 80 years old, I swear, but about this I feel most passionately that some things are sacred. Pie is one of them. I do not have religion in my life, but I do have pie. And I'm wholly dedicated to it; a devout pie worshipper.
My obsession began within just the last two years, and I've tried every pie crust recipe online. For the most part, I make up what I want to go inside. I make tarts and galettes too, tiny pies and big, hand held pies and little scrappy doughy bits cooked and kept for dipping in jam. The variations possible are limitless, and for Jenna's sake I'll mention that there's only 2 sticks of butter in my favorite recipe for crust and most of the time, I only use half the recipe. So otherwise, all you're eating is fruit, or sweet potatoes and caramelized onions, or chicken pot pie, or curried vegetables, or dried tomatoes and fresh herbs, or...(I'll stop, but you get the point- this can be healthy). And if you're a purist like me, you harvested these fruits and vegetables yourself, maybe you have the garden or farm that supplied most of it, and maybe, in your wildest and most hopeful moments, you hope to one day have the cow to make your own milk, the chickens for the meat, and the bees for the honey. If you make your pies truly from scratch, you'll have a more active lifestyle than most.
To my new friends, I'll show you my pictures and share a recipe. Obviously, I won't tell you all my secrets, because why then would you make the pilgrimage to the pie shop I'll open one day? It'll be called "Pie Shop." (purposeful period) or something equally clever.
My pie crust:
2 sticks real butter (salted for savory pies, unsalted for sweet)
2 1/2 cups All Purpose flour (you can totally use pastry or whole wheat too- try it, play around!)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
Enough ice cold water or milk to form a dough ball
Cut the butter into small cubes and stick in the freezer for a bit. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl (or directly in your Cuisinart). When butter is super cold (that's an exact temperature, duh), mix with dry ingredients. Julia Child says you should do this with your fingers so that you know what the dough should feel like. I agree, and now that I know what it should feel like, I use the Cuisinart. The outcome of this step is for all your butter to be mixed in with the flour and such, and broken down into what should remind you of crumbly oats, little granular balls.
You want the butter well mixed. This is most easily achieved by hand by smashing the butter against the side of the bowl with your thumb, then incorporating the flour mixture. However, your hot little hands will warm the butter quickly, so work fast. In a mixer, this step happens in about five pulses. When sufficiently granular, add the cold liquid until it becomes a ball capable of being manipulated.
Take it out of the bowl, flour up your surface, work the dough quickly and just enough to form a ball. Split dough in half (this is enough dough for a top and bottom layer or two bottoms). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-24 hours.
Roll out the dough, fit to your pie pan (leave enough to crimp to make a crust), fill and bake. I'm purposefully hazy on these last few directions because it's always different. I never really pay attention to the temperature I cook at (probably always within 350-450 degrees f), I rarely pay attention to the amount of time I cook something, and depending on the pie, I may precook my crust or use an egg wash to create a seal between bottom crust and filling...again, the variations are limitless. I will say this though, don't be afraid to mess it up, it'll still taste good. Your pie is always done cooking when the crust is tanned. Easy enough there, right?
If I haven't lost you completely by telling you how to do that, please see these pictures for inspiration!
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Dana's blog has the full list, which you must read because they include the sensible and simple solutions from the experts. Here are a few of the mistakes to spark your interest...
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Note: I'm not saying that you should count calories, but when faced with a food label, it is nice to have a point of reference.
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First Lady Obama has called on chefs to help educate school children about food and nutrition. According to Obama, "children consume as many as half of their daily calories at school, and with more than 31 million children participating in the National School Lunch Program and more than 11 million participating in the National School Breakfast Program, good nutrition at school is more important than ever." She is looking to chefs to help deliver the good nutrition message in a fun and delicious way.
They are looking for more chefs to get with the program, so if you are a chef and haven't already, join the movement!