There has been a lot of buzz in nutrition world lately about the “Microbiota” or the world of living organisms in your gut.  Good gut health is being studied for everything from obesity, diabetes, IBS, Parkinson’s ,Brain behavior, mood and more.

We still have a lot to learn but we do know that its important to have a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in your intestines.  A key component to that is getting enough probiotics and the prebiotics that support them in your diet.

—Probiotics contain live cultures of specific strains of bacteria and confer health benefits to the host.

—Some Probiotic-Rich Foods are:

  • —Cultured dairy products (yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir)
  • —Cultured non dairy products (soy/coconut yogurt, kefir)
  • —Fermented beverages (kombucha)
  • —Fermented grains (tempeh)
  • —Fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi, beets, pickles etc)
  • —Fermented soy (miso, natto, soysauce)

Look for products that say “live cultures” vs foods that are pickled in vinegar or pasteurized.

—Prebiotics are nondigestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth of bacteria in the GI tract which are beneficial to the health of the body.

Some Prebiotic rich foods are:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks
  • Artichoke
  • Bananas
  • Tomatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Legumes

And you get bonus points when you combine both together- for example a banana with yogurt.

Now go feed your gut!

probiotics in yogurt

…just don’t trash those Chilean grapes.

Turns out that food waste in America is a big environmental problem.  Food production is accountable for 80% of deforestation, 70% of all the freshwater consumption and 30% of greenhouse gas emission. So when you waste food you are wasting all those resources.

Wasted food in landfills is a huge source of methane a greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

We want to feed people, not landfills.

What to do?

Compost.  Improve soil health and thereby reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizer.

Meal plan. Think about what you are buying and how quickly you can consume it.

Donate. If you work for the kind of company that has lots of food waster– talk to someone about it and donate it to your local food bank or food rescue organization.

Happy Earth Day!



I am sick of New Year’s Resolutions and I have had a Revelation…I want to have a Resolution Revolution.

Okay enough alliteration, but it does bug me that we get obsessed with “new beginning” on January 1rst.

Most folks set themselves up for disappointment by making the same sweeping promises to themselves (eat better, lose weight, stop smoking) and not really thinking about all the bite size behavior changes it might take to get there.  Then when the New Year rolls around again we have a groundhog day moment and are back to where we started.

Plus we always seem to be cracking the whip on ourselves without taking a moment to recognize any of the positive changes we actually did make.  Come on….I know there is one thing you can think of that you changed in the last year that you are proud of?!?

So how can you focus on that small thing you did right and build on that?

Did you reward yourself for it?

A reward is one key way to solidify those bite sized behavior changes so be sure to give yourself a (ideally non-food) reward once you did that thing you said you were going to do.  Or just as a pat on the back for being human.

The reward doesn’t have to be $plurgetastic– how about just a flower for your bedside, a bubble bath or taking a moment for a funny dog/baby/blooper video on youtube?

One of my favorites is pure Tali-time with a cup of tea and a stack of magazines.  Delicious.

What are you going to give yourself for 2013’s successes?

tea & magazine reward photo

Fall is upon us!  Summer sped by. Let’s slow down with some tomatoes. Slow Roasted Tomatoes that is….

If you want to keep that summer feeling through the seasons then this recipe is for you.  Plus as a added bonus, tomatoes seem to be flourishing a bit later into the season this year so my farmers market (and garden) is still stocked up.

“Recipe” is a bit of of stretch– these few steps are so easy it should just be called a “Must Do”.

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

2. Roughly chop tomatoes ( heirlooms or san marzanos or even on the vine tomatoes) and lay in a single layer in a baking pan.

3. Drizzle with olive oil and a bit of salt.

4. Add spices etc to your likings (basil, thyme, garlic all work well)

5. Let roast on this low heat for anywhere from 1 to 2 hours (what you are looking for is for the tomatoes to be very fragrant and loosely shaped).

These soft wrinkled beautifies have an intense tomato flavor that is perfect in sandwiches, with eggs, on salads and of course on any pasta dish you can imagine.

Stored packed in olive oil for 5-7 days in the refrigerator- but in my house they don’t last this long!

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What a better way to jump back into my blog that posting this fun sorta-healthy recipe for carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!

Got these from Ellie Krieger on the Food Network and they boast whole wheat pastry flour (which I often use– baked goodies come out less dense than regular WW flour) and lots of fresh carrots.  Canola oil instead of butter and low fat cream cheese frosting.

I doubled the recipe and used a bit more carrot (6 medium carrots) and less sugar ( 1 cup for the cake and frosting) and only added a walnut to the top (fear of nut allergies) and they were a big hit at the engagement party that I went to.

Such a hit in fact that I forgot to take a picture of the full plate of 24 and only had these many left when I remembered.

3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 2 medium carrots, peeled)
1/2 cup natural applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
4 ounces low-fat cream cheese, such as Neufchatel, at room temperature
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zestDirections
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper cupcake liners.

Sift together the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, oil and eggs until well combined. Add the carrots, applesauce and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped walnuts.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest until smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

Nutrition Info:

Per serving: Calories: 277; Total Fat: 12 grams; Saturated Fat: 3 grams; Monounsaturated fat: 4.3 grams; Polyunsaturated fat: 3.9 grams; Protein: 5 grams; Total carbohydrates: 39 grams; Fiber: 2 grams; Cholesterol: 45 milligrams; Sodium: 263 milligrams

carrotcake cupcake photo

Its been a week or so since THANKSgiving yet I just can’t stop being thankful for everything around me.  Think I am just a lucky person?  Well I am, but I have also been practicing being thankful or full of gratitude to better my health and self.

That’s right, scientists are finally starting to research this stuff and are finding that gratitude is good for us.  “Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress” states the UC Davis Emmons Lab.

The basics on practicing gratitude….think of at least one thing you are grateful for.  It could be something big (waking up next to someone you love) or small (the gal you get your coffee from each day). The key is that you take a moment to feel it, mean it.

Other ideas…try it as a pause before meals, try writing a few things you are thankful for down to make a gratitude-journal, get a gratitude email pen-pal (this is what my friend started doing with me-  its wonderful to read his email each day with 5 things he is grateful for and then respond with 5 of my own),  add  something you are grateful for to a post-it at home or at work.

Other resources…I love the articles and newsletters from Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center  (“the science of a meaningful life”) and another friend just turned me on to “Awakening Joy” a 5 month long online course on happiness that focuses heavily on gratitude.

I am so grateful that in this day and age we can realize that good health is not just a number on a scale or how many miles we can run or even a lack of disease but also how bright our spirit shines and how we feel about ourselves and others around us.

This month’s post is an homage to the San Francisco food scene.  Yah, sometimes its a bit much how we Bay Area eaters clamor or cringe for new restaurants, pop-up dinners and food carts but as a lover of food, I also respect (and get swept up in) the passion.

One annual event that exemplifies this love of the homegrown, home-made, locavore, cuisine mash-up, mobile, mixologist madness is the San Francisco Street Food Festival.

Adam and I have gone for a a few years now (it started in 2009) and it has just been getting bigger and bigger each year (heard someone call it a lina-a-palooza in reference to the long food lines).  This year it was a 6 block radius of over 80 food vendors and everyone is making do with no running water or electricity (but some awesome gas grill action). Apparently over 80,000 people showed up!
Each vendor (some are bigger restaurants like A16 and others are from food cart fame like Creme Brulee Cart) offers a “big bite”, “little bite” and a drink and nothing is over $8.  Sweet.

This year it was more than a daylong food fest it also had a night market on Friday and educational workshops on Sunday and the whole event is put in place to promote the encubator kitchen of La Cocina.  “La Cocina works with low-income and immigrant entrepreneurs and is committed to creating this festival as an opportunity to show all of the city exactly how talented these entrepreneurs are and how delicious their food is”.
I went early for a press tour thanks to the fabulous Sarah Adler but had just had breakfast (whole wheat pancakes with the secret magic ingredients of roasted corn- genius move by Adam) so did more meeting instead of eating and avoided the majority of the crowds.

I was inspired by the food passion, the entrepreneurial spirit, the clever names and of course the delicious food (I did have a few samples!)….maybe next year a bright orange Food NE/RD Carrotmobile?