Monday, March 17, 2014


So... Mark Bittman might not know but I kind of love him. Older, I know but I subscribe to his "Minimalist" YouTube channel where he shows us how to create delicious meals, plus, he's a nice Jewish boy. In the Minimalist, Bittman offers simple, healthy recipes that pack serious amounts of flavor. My favorite recipe so far is for Artichokes Provencal but he also shows us how to make a mean salsa verde. I was first "introduced" to Bittman through the book Spain: A Culinary Road Trip in which famed chef, Mario Batali, Bittman and Gwyneth Paltrow traverse the Spanish "foodscape" in search of rare and interesting eats. Several years later, he authored several books of his own including How to Cook Everything and VB6. Why do I mention him, however? Well, he is a famed food writer and I try and write a food blog but, moreover, he has been featured on Williams Sonoma talking about his own hierarchy of foods kept in his pantry. Kind of like my own food pyramid, Bittman discusses the foods we should eat often, less often and least, most of which are interchangeable at the "most often" level. What I found interesting is that the foods Bittman claims we should eat the most tend to be the most water soluble, going with my attempt to make water that which I consume most of each day. Foods which Bittman claims we should eat the most of include fresh herbs, cauliflower, zucchini and citrus fruits as well as what he calls the "aromatics" such as onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Just like Bittman, I like to think of foods in hierarchical order, not to pass judgment claims on them but to know which foods form the basis of a nutrient rich and healthy lifestyle. Rock on +Mark Bittmann...


So... seeing as I placed that cool, blue liquid at the bottom of my new food pyramid, I figured it only apropos to write an article on it's carrier device... the water bottle. A million different variations of]n this device exist today, and thank goodness. We never have to go without water nearby and one you start drinking (that H2O...) you'll never want to be without it for long. In college, when I would walk across a large campus (go JMU!) I would carry a Nalgene bottle all day and fill it up at the water fountain (bubbler if you're from Rhode Island). When I moved to DC I found a new breed of bottles showed up and with my penchant for hot water drinks, the Tervis tumbler was a perfect fit.

Speaking of college, congrats Gators...

Tervis tumblers can be purchased in 12, 16 and 24 oz capacities. I have one that pimps my Yankees team, enraging most people in my path and holds 24 oz of liquid. The clear "body" allows me to see how much I've drank (drunk?) which is both encouraging and helpful in knowing when I have to go back to the "bubbler". In general, having 24oz at your fingertips lasts you awhile, thus allowing you to sip throughout the day without a refill. It also allows you to gauge your water or liquid intake knowing that downing four "fillings" gives you close to a gallon of water each day. I know that when I finish my fourth refill/de-fill cycle, I feel pretty good about yourself. Best of all, you can support your home team, cause (think pink ribbons) or purchase a tumbler with your first of last initial. They're pretty great in my opinion and come with a lifetime guarantee. When does that happen anymore?

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Oil and vinegar, vinegar and oil, tomato, to-ma-to, whatever. When it comes to oil, vinegar is never far behind. Which is why we can place it near the oil category on the "new food pyramid". Vinegars abound in many varieties and forms. It is essentially fermented alcohol diluted by water. It has a "twang" that I love when paired with a salad or vegetables. A year ago, a juicer made me increasingly prone to non-dairy foods, leaving blue cheese in the fridge and causing me to develop new variations on the oil-vinegar blend. See recipe below.

Vinegar, as stated, vinegar comes in many forms and, thereby, many tastes. Several varieties include, white wine and red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar as well as balsamic. Apple cider vinegar, while used heavily in cooking can also be used as a hair rinse which can de-grease the hair. Just running a tablespoon through your locks in the shower can act as a natural dandruff remedy while boosting shine and breaking down buildup.

As stated earlier, vinegar usually pairs with oil in many dressings used for vegetables. The most basic recipe goes as follow:

  • 3/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 1/4 white vinegar
  • salt or ground pepper to taste 
My preferred method to place all ingredients in a mason jar and shake. If you chose to add other spices and seasonings, add these first before you shake to mix. Once the mixture is emulsified from shaking, place over your favorite salad and enjoy.

Most vinaigrette recipes follow the three to one ratio; a useful standard to know. The ratio refers to three parts oil to every one part vinegar. From there, you are able to play with different spices herbs and condiments such as mustard, thyme or lemon juice. The list goes on. I personally like chili seeds and pepper but basil and herbs are just as good...


As I mentioned before, has a comprehensive list of various oils (ranging from rosehip to jojoba), all of which have various applications to the body. After writing my last post on the topic of water, my substance of choice for the bottom tier of my own "food pyramid", I figured I would keep with the theme of hydration for my next topic. While water can hydrate you from within and the Mayo Clinic suggests healthy adults consume between 2.2 and 3 liters a day, it is also important to hydrate externally: especially in the harsh cold of winter. This season, my lips became extra dry, cracking and bleeding and peeling back into rough curls of skin (tempting, I know). However, towards the end of the season, I began melting small amounts of coconut oil and mixing it with brown sugar. Placing some of the mixture on my finger, I would rub it across my lips, letting the sugar crystals exfoliate present dead skin while letting the oil seep in. After I felt my lips were renewed, I simply patted off any excess sugar with a paper towel. Doing so made my lips feel fresh and hydrated for the day (I repeated the routine at night too). On the skin, I used a squirt of argan oil after my nightly shower and it seemed to hydrate my skin well overnight. Compared to the massive amounts of ingredients in Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer, the top moisturizer on argan oil contains, just what's in it's name.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


My last post dealt with two very important pyramids in human history (no, not those pyramids) Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of human needs and the food pyramid put out by the U.S. government in 1992. If I were to create my own food pyramid, however, I would begin with water at the bottom.

Water, in some cultures, has been referred to as the, "essence of life." No doubt, our body weight is composed of 90% water and our bodies crave replenishment. Just the sound of it relaxes us as our many white noise machines have an ocean setting. For me, I love to carry around my water bottle as a type of 'safety blanket'; knowing the liquid is always nearby. For me, I picture the azure blue substance swirling peacefully at the bottom of the 'updated' food pyramid. Not only does water replenish our bodies with that which it might lose during the day, it also can be helpful in it's various forms.

Liquid- When I was in high school, a trainer once shouted the benefits of water to me. "It pushes waste through your system." " It speeds up your metabolism." As a teenager who ate Subway, I was thankful for a substance that would push anything out of my system. As I've gotten older, however, I can tell that water has a profound affect from my teeth to my "waste bin." "Every time you eat carbs or dairy, it's like an acid bath for your mouth," a hygienist once told me. Shortly after I eat, I crave a sip of water. It rinses my mouth out and, like my trainer once said, begins to push things through my system.

Gas- Speaking of the 'waste bin', water as steam also has massive health benefits. Any time spent in a steamy shower or sauna and you've known the drastic benefits steam can have on your sinuses. Steam is known to loosen mucus, improve one's circulation and moisturize skin. For all the money we put into skin moisturizers, medical procedures and medicines, a relaxing stay in the shower or sauna may be the first step in curing these problems at a very basic level.

Ice- Ice, ice, baby. When I was on a cruise in 2005, the crew was promoting a new seaweed treatment that was supposed to "sweat out your toxins" (see above for the benefits of steam). When I went for a consultation, they said that "lotions and potions" have built up in my skin and I needed their seaweed treatment. Of course I didn't believe the hype but it got me thinking that lotions or many things we put on our skin have ingredients we don't need. Enter ice. It's an old wives tale that circling an ice cube around your eye until it melts will give you younger looking skin but why not try it?

Many of these, "remedies" sound basic but why not try them? We can always go back to high cost products and procedures which may contain unnecessary ingredients but I'm relatively certain these remedies are useful. After all, water is not called the "essence of life," for nothing. Let it be the greatest entity you consume and I'm sure you'll be surprised!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


My last post dealt with fundamentalism, my own frame of reference on health vis-a-vis food. What we consume, can, and, in my view, should be applied towards our own health, for the sake of ourselves and those close to us, including our communities. Regardless of one's political leanings, healthcare seems to be a blocked and tedious system with people living longer thanks to medicine but becoming "sicker", due in my view to a preponderance of processed foods. A preponderance of chemicals and ingredients we have trouble pronouncing cannot be good for us. In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund cited tips for cancer prevention, some of which dealt with food consumption as well as foods one should avoid. Foods ripe for consumption included leafy greens while foods cited to avoid were those with high amounts of sugar and sodium including sugary drinks. In general, processed foods tend to be higher in either sodium or sugar than those which occur naturally. Just raiding my kitchen, I see that tortilla chips contain 65 mg of sodium (I try and eat healthy) while an apple contains 1 mg.  But I digress...

In 1992, the United States department of Agriculture published it's food pyramid. At the bottom lay carbohydrates including breads, rice and cereals. Intake was suggested at 6-11 servings per day. After the food pyramid was released, several books suggested that political influence may have played a key role in it's development.

Later, the pyramid was amended in 2005 and again in 2011 and is now referred to as MyPlate providing for some adjustments when complaints were made about portion sizes and clarity.

Another pyramid I wanted to reference was created in 1954 by Abraham Maslow in the book Motivation and Personality. Within the book, Maslow outlines a hierarchy of human needs ranging from the relatively primal to transcendental, if you will.

As you can see, at the bottom stands what he refers to as our physiological needs, those needs which without, we would cease to function. Several of these needs include water, sleep, food and homeostasis. Now, combining these two pyramids, one could essentially form their own food pyramid which is essentially what I intend to do.