inspiration

Food Friday: Food Inspiration, Part 1 of 4 

I love food. I love healthy food. But sometimes I need food inspiration. I would like to turn to my four big sources of food inspiration: 

  • food websites
  • cookbooks
  • food in literature 
  • food movies 

This week we will touch on food websites. 

First and foremost, there is Pinterest. This is a free online general pinboard where you can create your own page full of albums and “pin” items from anywhere in the internet or from Pinterest itself. It is your all purpose infinite online scrapbook collection. More often than not, it is my first stop when searching for a specific recipe. Sometimes I just need inspiration and will just scroll through my own extensively curated food albums. It takes about 5 minutes for me to go from unmotivated to excited when I check Pinterest. 

Other general resources are food.com, foodnetwork.com, and epicurious.com. Of these, epicurious is my favorite. That is because it is a knowledge rich site. Sure, it has gorgeous  graphic design and photography. Additionally, it is well organized and is geared to someone who truly wants to learn to cook well. There are numerous tips, tricks and educational resources. There is also a free membership, and this enables readers to collect their favorite recipes on the site. Epicurious is a site I have used for years, but apparently it won a Webby award in 2015 for best site in the food and drink category.

AmericasTestKitchen.com and CooksIllustrated.com get the highest marks for being instructional, but they lack the high style and visual appeal of epicurious.com. If you want to understand technique, or the science behind cooking, go here. 

Saveur.com deserves mention as an old and fascinating resource. The magazine has been one of my favorites for many years. Saveur is distinguished by its philosophy of setting food into it’s cultural and geographic context. Reading Saveur is a good bit of culinary armchair travel. To introduce you, check out their page on the best culinary blogs of 2015: 

http://www.saveur.com/saveur-blog-awards-2015-voting-closed

I should say that there are many beautiful websites and blogs out there which I will not showcase. That is because I am going to try to highlight sites which feature healthier cuisine. Many of these are vegetarian or vegan. I will include them, since current evidence based guidelines recommend we consume more plant based foods. However, I will also feature Paleo sites, which I believe are even better. 

The Paleo movement is amusingly misnamed since it has little to do with what Paleolithic people (cavemen) ate. The Paleo diet is devoid of grains and legumes (beans, soy and the like) , as well as modern processed foods and sometimes even dairy. There are many versions of the Paleo diet. At its worst, it is trendy nonsense. At its best, it is allergen free, and rich in healthy animal proteins, healthy fats, and  nutrients and fiber from fruits and vegetables. 

A new favorite for me is Paleo Magazine. A good place to start is their list of the top 10 Paleo Blogs on the Web: 

https://paleomagonline.com/top-10-paleo-blogs-on-the-web-2014/

My favorite on the list is Nom Nom Paleo.

I would also like to mention an important site on Paleo food which goes into a fair amount of medical science. This is

thedomesticman.com

It’s young author Russ Crandall had a life threatening bout with autoimmune disease. The Paleo diet helped in his recovery. He is medically literate and goes to some length in his books to explain the connection, which is that in some people, the Paleo diet can help reduce intestinal hyperpermeability and inflammation. 

I am going to conclude with a couple other specific favorites. First is the “eat" section of Greatist.

greatist.com/eat

Their site is beautiful and evidence based. Finally, there is

theforestfeast.com.

For sheer beauty, you should go here.

 

I hope, from now on, the question “ What should we have for dinner ?" is a pleasure rather than a pain. 

 

Structure Sunday: The Structure of Your Media Consumption

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Omigosh I must be so easily amused. I have flown planes, climbed mountains, and swam with sea lions, but today, I got the biggest rush from organizing cookbooks in their new shelves. I just adore their beautiful pages full of recipes like magic spells waiting to be cast. A beautiful recipe transforms you as you make it, and your family as they see what has been prepared for them. 

I am reading a riveting book right now. It is called Seveneves. I found myself reading it at a stop light. Not good. I chose it based on the genre, sci fi, but also because of the reviews on Amazon, and finally because of what I was able to learn about the author, for instance that he double majored in Physics and Geography. I learned all this on the internet.

Seveneves: A Novel
$21.00
By Neal Stephenson

 

 I did all that research because I wasn't going to devote several hours of my life to something less than totally worthwhile. You see, I get absorbed in my books, fiction and non-fiction alike. They transport me. I don't hear things around me when I am reading. If something is going to affect me like this, it better be quality and it better have redeeming value. I want to finish the book a better person. 

I feel the same way about film, but there are far fewer good films than there are good books. Still, the depths of Netflix and Apple TV are unplumbed, and I look forward to it whenever I have time to dive deep. I don't know if my approach is correct; I save film like candy or ice cream, and cannot watch it until I eat all my vegetables, i.e. work, housekeeping, bills, and exercise. 

Music, however, is like water to me. I have to have it all the time. Patients know it plays all day long in all our clinic rooms, and we try to make it wonderful. We try to make people enjoy their time with us. I want to turn more people on to fine music.

I believe music puts you in touch with yourself. If a song makes you melancholy and wistful, it is touching something within. You may gain from this awareness, and perhaps be able to give the issue more attention. Likewise, if you hear something that makes you feel like dancing, it's because that dance is already in you; the song merely helps release it. 

When I was growing up, all this was so expensive. Books were bought in bookstores, and records required expensive equipment to play well. Regarding films, well, you had to make arrangements to go to a theater, providing you were old enough. But nowadays, the widespread availability of all this media is astonishing. I believe it is world changing. 

I have a great personal interest in the lives of those with low income and high aspirations. I respect these people. I want to understand how they can realize their dreams. I think one big piece of this puzzle is widespread high quality media: books, film, and music. These are not just      niceties in life. They nurture the soul and enlighten the mind. 

Media like music, film and books are not about living vicariously or being passive. They are about learning and getting inspired to go out and live life to the fullest. That is why I think everyone should have access to all the good stuff all of the time. 

So I wondered how much it would cost to have unlimited access to all this media all the time. Here is a rough calculation: 

 

  • Amazon Prime costs $99 per year. You get access to 41,000 movies and TV episodes, and 350,000 Kindle books. Of course the Kindle app is free for any platform. Just be aware these are like Netflix titles, not necessarily the hot new releases, but still very good. 
  • Netflix has a somewhat different set of movies, all for $7.99 per month,  all released several months after they hit theaters. 
  • Apple Music, is $9.99 per person  or $14.99 per family per month. For this you may stream the entire Apple music catalog. Or, you could get Pandora with ads, for free, or without ads, for $4.99 per month. 
  • Let's say you actually want to buy a few physical books because, like me, you think cookbooks should be physical, or because you want to have a paper book to pass around, then you must budget a few dollars for that. Let's say you, like me, buy used books on Amazon, and you decide your budget is one book per month, at $5 per book used, plus $3.99 per book shipping.

If you have a smartphone and internet already, then we can ignore those costs. If we say, for purposes of argument that you "want it all" , the tally is as follows: 

Amazon Prime = $99/yr

Netflix annually = $95.88/yr

Apple Music for one = $119.88/yr

Paper books one year, as detailed above = $107.88

Total = $422.64 per year or $35.22 per month. Aren't numbers interesting ? 

Let's say you are really on a tight budget. You pick only Amazon Prime for Kindle books and streaming video, together with free Pandora for music. Your cost is only $99/year or $8.32 per month. Honestly, that is two lattes. What an amazing time we live in. 

 

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
$21.78
By Deb Perelman

Wellness Wednesday: Enthusiasm

I like to think that that when someone close to us passes on, that we can pick from among their good traits to inherit. Recently, my father in law, Dr. Van Kirke Nelson passed on at the age of 83. He was an Ob/Gyn, but also a business person, philanthropist, and art collector.

I studied the stages of grief in medical school just like everyone else, but I'm not sure where I am in the official stages. However, I can say that I am in a stage of deliberate inheritance. I am remembering all of his wonderful traits:  diplomacy, devotion, optimism, energy for endless projects, cleverness at crafting the win-win solution, and above all enthusiasm.

There are several of these traits on which I have dibs. I am hoping to inherit quite a bit of his diplomacy. I have always been short there. Then there's the optimism. I am the cup half empty girl, and to some extent I own that.  I am always trying to figure out what could go wrong so I can keep it from happening. I guess that is written into my job description. So I would like more optimism. Not the blind unreasonable kind. Not the kind that says things are always going to work out fine. Instead, I'd like the kind that says we can almost always find a solution. And even though I'm pretty darn enthusiastic, I'd like some more of that. You can't have enough of that. Grandpa, as I called him, was a great inspiration to be enthusiastic, and that is not going to end. 

In that spirit of enthusiasm, I'd like to share with you some simpler sources of enthusiasm. I have started work on our links page. There is already enough inspiring material on there to keep you awake all night. But take a page from Grandpa's playbook: Read about cool things other people are doing.. and then do some of your own. 

Check out our inspiring links HERE

 

Structure Sunday: What's behind the Structure

How do you find the energy and motivation to do the things you want to do ? That is going to be the topic for at least a couple blog posts this week.  Why ? because you have indicated that you find this a challenge. 

It's all a matter of inspiration. But who can rely on inspiration ? Can you find it or make it ? Click here to find some surprisingly old wisdom and new science on this critical issue.