Category: Food Philosophy

Salmon baked with Dill

I baked salmon and paired it with whole grains: Inspired by BBC’s How to be Slim

Every few weeks I consider turning vegan or vegetarian. But my resolve lasts only a few days and I end up giving in a mean piece of steak or fish on my friend’s plate. It starts off with a bite and blows up in to a full-blown meat fest. So I’ve decided that moderation is the way to go and I try to stick to Michael Pollan’s very practical mantra — “Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants.”

My husband has been trying to shed off some serious pounds and once in a while the two of watch a documentary or read a book that will help us design a diet to lose weight and more importantly keep it off. Many of the documentaries we watch are too rigid — geared more towards food industry practices or veganism. While we value these food philosophies immensely, we are not there yet — moderation within omnivore-ness seems the most practical to us.So when I stumbled upon this BBC documentary, I was thrilled. It wasn’t extremist and it seemed to be based on scientific findings. Not to spoil the surprise but it speaks of simple substitutions you can make, metabolism and its relation to weight, low-fat dairy and its contribution to weight loss and different food groups and their place in our balanced meal. The BBC seems to have many more awesome documentaries for weight watchers but this one is a good start:

Part 1 of How to be Slim  Part 1/6:

The day after I saw this documetary, I baked atlantic salmon with dill and made my own yogurt!

Food addiction, food porn

I typed in “food sex” into google, to help me flesh out my thoughts, and this page from came  up:


I couldn’t have put my tumultuous on-again, off again relationship with food in better words than the folks at Urban Dictionary. I have lusted for and had sex with ribs and pasta a gazillion times and even the ad on the side makes supreme sense to me — bacon does rock my world! I once visited a famous burger joint in Downtown Toronto only to walk out almost immediately because they didn’t offer bacon as a condiment — a blasphemy in my books.

And like a catholic school girl torn between her religion and hormones, I have felt extreme shame in pleasuring myself. But, should I have felt shame? Some might say “yes” because so far I have made it look like I crave only for rich and unhealthy foods. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are times when I pine for mango or spinach or low-fat yogurt and I always choose whole wheat bread because it just tastes better. Of course the fact that grew up in a vegetarian household makes my mind hold veggies and fruits in the same regard as a Texan would hold his brisket. So, yes, my food craving in not just a direct result of the devious tactics of the food industry — that lures us with fat, sugar and salt — it originates from my deep-rooted lust for deicious food.

A lust that equals,  and sometimes even surpasses my appetite for sex.  (There are times when I choose food over sex or as a substitute!) And from my interactions with my friends and darling husband, I understand that I am not alone in my servitude of food. Our generation struggles to reconcile its desire be thin, sexy and healthy with its need to satiate its curiosity and palate in food wonderland that surrounds us.

Not only are the treats that are dangled before us marketed to occupy our mind space, they also often come from exotic lands or places close to the home and heart! While there are those who are spartan enough to place disciple and functionality above all else, most of us just cave into the crave, at least once in a while. And while most responsible eaters are able to stuff their faces with what’s already available (or healthy alternatives) and supress their craves, images of food continue to flash in our heads, creating a sequence of fantasies, not unlike our admiration of the opposite sex.

So, YES, food has become the new sex! And I’m not sure if I’m lovin’ it!

snacksIf you are an early-riser, who eats a light breakfast, a mid-morning snack could be the difference between staying on course on a healthy diet and stuffing yourself at lunch. That said, so as to not be counter-productive, snacking has to be healthy.

Keep in mind that for the implementation of a practical snacking regimen, snacks have to be not just healthy but also portable, affordable, non-messy and easily available. Here are some of my faves:

1. A handful of raw almonds: Raw almonds are called a “superfood” for several reasons. Rich in protein and fibre, almonds offer an instant energy boost. These yummy nuts have high contents of manganese and vitamin E. While manganese is essential for healthy bones and metabolism, vitamin E allows for skin development and supports heart health. When paired with a low-calorie nutrient-rich diet, almonds can also help lower cholesterol.

2. Dark chocolate and fruit: Pick a dark chocolate with 75% or higher cocoa content and pair it with blueberries, pomgranate or orange and you got yourself nutrient-rich snack worthy of the gods. Both dark chocolate and several fruits are loaded my the goodness of antioxidants and other nutrients that make this unique pairing not just delectable but also power-packed.

3. Carrot sticks: Do you give a growling stomach the carrot or the stick? How about carrot sticks? Peel and cut up some carrot sticks or buy baby carrots and snack on them with a Bugs Bunny-like zeal.

Carrots are best known for their beta-carotene content. While they can be an excellent source of this phytonutrient, carrots also contain an impressive combination of other phytonutrients such as other carotenoids, hydroxycinnamic acids, anthocyanins (in the case of purple and red carrots) and polyacetylenes.

Carrots are also an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids). They are also a very good source of immune-supportive vitamin C, bone-building vitamin K and heart-healthy dietary fiber and potassium. They are also a good source of heart-healthy vitamin B6, niacin, folate, and vitamin E; enzyme-supporting manganese and molybdenum; and energy-supportive vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and phosphorus.

4. Now-fat yogurt: If you area dairy lover, non-fat yogurt is an ideal low-calorie snack for you. Other than being a great source of protein and calcium, non-fat yogurt also promotes a healthy gastrointestinal system and prevents conditions like diarrhea.

A note of caution: While picking a non-fat yogurt, tryto avoid brands that contain sweetened fruit or granola as they add to the calories.

5. Fruit juices and fruit cups: This is an affordable and easy snack that ensures that you get all the energy and vitamins you need to have a fuitful day :)!

Sources: : Are Almonds a Good Snack? carrots Why You Should Eat and Drink High Cacao Chocolate 5 Delicious Low Calorie Snacks to Try Today

Zingerman's Delicatessen

Zingerman’s Delicatessen

Meet Carlos! Isn’t he splendid? How could he not be, afterall his maker Ann Arbor’s Zingerman’s Delicatessen describes him as “Apple Schram Orchard’s organic Berkshire pork shoulder rubbed and roasted with fennel pollen & marash pepper, lettuce, tomato & housemade garlic mayo on a Bakehouse onion roll.”

He is one of the reasons I have been a meat-eater. But now that I have Skinny Bitched and Food Inc.-ed myself out, I am going vegan starting today. And, yesterday, to celebrate everything that I loved about meat, eggs and refined carbs, I visited one of my favourite delis Zingerman’s, an institution whose Tomato soup, Chicken Paprikash and Spanish Hot Chocolate have lent me comfort in some seriously tough times.

Although I am not necessarily a fan of everything Zingerman’s makes, particularly their cakes that tend to be a tad too sweet and dry, what tugs at my heart is the honesty and love that goes into their food. Whether you are just doing a killer goat cheese over some hearty sourdough bread or are partaking in one of their elaborate food festivals, Zingerman’s is truly an omnivore’s paradise.

Visit to understand the scope of this Midwestern institution, that has impressed renowned chef Mario Batali enough for him to tell the LA Times, “When I head out to my Lake Michigan house for the summer, I always stop at Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor… ”

Zingerman’s Delicatessen

Hungry For Change is a powerful documentary from the producers of Food Matters.  Of course the film takes on the usual 532755_378569602166039_2143924951_nsuspects — processed foods, High Fructose Corn Syrup, MSG, diet soda, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated fats, etc. But it also delves into the psychology of the dieter and the overweight person. And it gives you courses of action that are more feasible than those given by food industry bashing films and books that are more extremist.

Hungry for Change is an expose on the food industry but first and foremost it is a self-help documentary. It reminds you not to beat yourself up and to be patient with yourself. After all, cutting against the grain can be counterproductive. Case in point, stringent diets that result in temporary weight loss, gain in weight afterwards and a deficiency in nutrients.

The Perpetual Feast: Over centuries, humans have been programmed to feast when there is sugary or fatty food so that we can live off the reserves during a famine / winter.  So, as the film tell us, we are hardwired to load on fats and sugars. In the West, we have year-round access to pizzas and cakes and that explains why we never get rid of the reserves.

Overfed Yet Starved: Most of us, in North America, eat too much. The documentary discusses how we load on processed foods that are rich in calories but deficient in nutrients. And since our cells do not get the spectrum of vitamins / minerals from junk food, we feel like eating more.

Here are Some Valuable Tips from the Film:

Hungry for Change

Hungry For Change

1. Detoxify: Juicing, eating gelatinous foods such as aloe vera and chia seeds, exercise and enough sleep.

2. Expand your Definition of Sugar: Not only does the film call sugar “the cocaine of the food world”, to also asks health conscious eaters to expand their definition of sugars to include bread, muffins, pancakes, pizza / pasta sauces, cereal, cough syrup, sushi, rice, etc. It goes on to say that sugar releases beta-endorphins just like opium does.

3. Dump Diet Soda: Diet soda has both aspartame (artificial sweetener) and caffeine. The deadly combination leads to a blend of excitotoxin that kills brains cells but before the cells die, there is a buzz. Aspartame results in  formaldehyde buildup in brain, frontal lobe inflammation, visual impairment, seizures, cancers, etc.

4. Watch out for Ingredients: Names of packaged foods may have very little to do with the ingredients and more to do with what the manufacturers want you to think you are eating. Also read the ingredients carefully and avoid eating MSG-containing foods. MSG, often used to enhance flavour, excites the part of the brain in charge of fat programs. This is a proven fact. In fact when mice in labs need to be fattened, they are fed MSG.

5. Use Visualisation to Communicate with the Subconscious: Picture yourself thin and healthy to reinforce positive intent.

Cooking being a routine activity, we sometimes forget that we aren’t in a chemistry lab following a formula. We also forget how therapeutic and sensual cooking can be when viewed as creation vs. construction. MasterChef Season 3 contestant Christine Ha, a 32-year-old Vietnamese American blind home cook reminds us that the sense of smell, touch, taste and sound are not just integral but also imperative to crafting angelic cuisine.

Christine, who suffers from neuromyelitis optica (NMO) – an autoimmune disorder that affects the optic nerves and spinal cord — wowed the judges with her catfish braised in a claypot and won herself a spot on the show as a contestant. Commenting on the fish she cooked in caramel, coconut soda, shallots, garlic and fish sauce, Joe Bastianich, a judge on the show, writes in his blog —

Her’s was the dish I was most curious to taste – and she nailed it! I mean she really nailed it. Does this mean she’ll be able to manage her way around the MasterChef kitchen? That I’m not so sure of, but she’s certainly earned the right to try like everyone else, and is one to watch as we move ahead.”

Turns out Christine is managing her way around the MasterChef kitchen just fine! In a recent episode one of the contestants, with an advantage gained by coming out on top in a challenge, tried to trip her up by giving her live crab when he could give her canned crab. Though she was apprehensive about handling the live animal and pierced herself while cleaning the cooked crab, she created a spectacular crab caviche cocktail that won her the round. You go girl!

Check out her crab creation and poetic apple pie she created in a pressure test in a previous episode.

This series of articles titled Eating Like Okinawan Centenarians work off the concepts outlined in the book The Okinawa Program — How the World’s Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health – And How You Can Too. The book authored by a team of medical and scientific experts documents the diet, exercise and lifestyle practices of the world’s healthiest, long-lived  people and suggests ways in which we can incorporate those practices in our own lives.

Lean Streak will discuss several of these practices one at a time and give practical ways to incorporate them in our daily diet.

The Okinawa Pyramid:

With the evolution of healthful food philosophies, the  United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) food pyramid is fast becoming a relic. There seems to be an overarching consensus that there need to be several servings of fruits and vegetables in the daily diet and that whole grains, which in my opinion are tastier, are the building blocks to good health. In fact, there is an Okinawan proverb which goes —

Aramun jouguu ya duu ganjuu

(One who eats whole food will be strong and healthy.)

Based on 25 years of research, the authors of The Okinawa Program have formulated an Okinawa Food Pyramid to help us by way of guidelines that could help us plan our daily meals. The Okinawa Food Pyramid:

While these guidelines are not commandments, the closer we get to following them, the healthier our food becomes. The guidelines, the authors say, should be re-adjusted and fine-tuned to one’s personal tastes, appetite and activity levels. Re-enforcing the importance of liberal consumption of vegetables fruits and greens, in June 2011, the USDA released MyPlate, which has now replaced MyPyramid as the American government’s primary food symbol.


This series of articles titled Eating Like Okinawan Centenarians work off the concepts outlined in the book The Okinawa Program — How the World’s Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health — And How You Can Too. The book authored by a team of medical and scientific experts documents the diet, exercise and lifestyle practices of the world’s healthiest, long-lived  people and suggests ways in which we can incorporate those practices in our own lives.

Lean Streak will discuss several of these practices one at a time and give practical ways to incorporate them in our daily diet.

Watch Your Egg Consumption

Okinawan elders use eggs on a regular basis but the portions are small.

 According to the medical experts who conducted the landmark study that resulted in the publication of The Okinawa Program, seven or fewer eggs is plenty for most people and four eggs is sufficient for people with cholesterol issues. We all know that the debate about eggs centers on the yolk. On the one hand the yolk is fatty and is packed with cholesterol. On the other hand, recent studies suggest that dietary cholesterol doesn’t impact your blood cholesterol as much as fat does. Many dietitians may have removed eggs from their danger list but it’s best to honor the fact that the jury is still out on the issue.  Therefore, when it comes to eggs, moderations seems to be the way to go. Of course, if you are really craving more than a few eggs, feel free to load on egg whites or egg substitutes.

Omega-3 eggs from chickens fed diets high in Omega-3 and free-range eggs from chickens allowed to roam and eat a variety of grains are better alternatives than the regular eggs.

Lean Streak Tip

Use boiled eggs in salads. Make sure that the bulk of the salad comes from vegetables and fruits. This way you can combine the heartiness of the egg with the lightness of the salad. This would also be a great way to achieve other great Okinawan eating principles such as Eat Ten Vegetable and Fruits Daily, Minimize Your Animal Food Consumption and Incorporate Different Colors and Food Types on Your Plate.

A mouth-watering egg salad that fits the requirements:

Cut up a boiled egg and toss it with a half to three-fourth of an avocado (cubed), a handful of cherry tomatoes, a cut green chili, a pinch of salt and dash of lime juice. Feel free to add in some lettuce or spinach. Serve with a whole grain toast to make it a complete meal.

Egg, Avocado, Tomato and Spinach Salad with Whole Grain Toast — A Perfect Example of Restricting Egg Consumption!

Chef Paula Deen and her sons Jamie and Bobby

For years, we have watched the flirty, gandmotherly chef Paula Deen whip up her fried chicken, red velvet cakes and other Southern delicasies on Food Network. While the unhealthiness of  butter and cream cheese was hidden under the massacarades of “love” and “authenticity”, Deen herself was hiding the fact that she had Type 2 diabetes.

Why Deen hid it is easy to guess — she didn’t want her TV show and personal image to loose appeal. But now that she is out with her secret, she and her sons have found a way to milk that too. Deen, 64, just signed an endorsement deal with Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical company that makes Victoza, an noninsulin injectable diabetes medication. Her sons Bobby and Jamie have also been roped in to spearhead a public relations campaign for the company.

Bobby Deen also has a new healthful-cooking show Not My Mama’s Meals that began last month. He sticks to his Southern influence but gives the dishes a healthy twist. Some examples being “No Fry” Apple Pies, Lighter Shrimp and Polenta, and Whole Wheat Pie Crust.

Anthony Bourdain’s Response:

Travel show host and chef Anthony Bourdain once called Paula Deen the most dangerous person in America. And now, following her annuncement, he tweeted, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”

Deen may have been clogging the nation’s arteries, but Bourdain hasn’t been kind to the nation’s livers. His extreme love of alcohol and red meat, and his anti-vegetarian rants are scary given the cult following that he has! I love my sanagria and mojitos, and am by no means a vegetarian. But both Bourdain and Deen need to understand that emphasising moderation is the responsible thing to do.

Rule # 4: If You’re Not Hungry Enough to Eat an Apple, Then You’re Probably Not Hungry

There are 64 other simple yet very useful rules where the golden words above come from. Author Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” now also comes in an illustrated version, tanks to artist Maira Kalman.

Have a sneak peak:


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