• “Oh Baby!“

    Rais­ing babies is hard work. There is no need to tell that to any of the grand­par­ents who were lucky enough to spend time with their pre­cious lit­tle ones over the recent hol­i­day season.

    Observ­ing today’s young par­ents of babies and tod­dlers is edu­ca­tional, if not mind-​blowing.

    Mak­ing deci­sions for their opti­mal health and well-​being begins early and presents a mul­ti­tude of required quick responses.
  • “Sum­mer of Love“

    The Sum­mer of Love was a social phe­nom­e­non that occurred dur­ing the sum­mer of 1967. As many as 100,000 peo­ple, con­verged in San Francisco’s Haight-​Ashbury dis­trict.

    Tie-​dyed cloth­ing, love beads, men with long hair and a mantra of “free love” char­ac­ter­ized the coun­ter­cul­ture hip­pie groups that flocked to the city. A swirl of art, pol­i­tics, music and rev­o­lu­tion was in the air in 1967.

    Among other notable shifts in tra­di­tions, this was the period in time that influ­enced our cul­ture in the food move­ment and pol­i­tics toward nat­ural, organic and veg­e­tar­ian diets in Amer­ica.

    The pol­i­tics of food remain cen­tral to those con­ver­sa­tions hap­pen­ing in Cal­i­for­nia regard­ing organic farm­ing, sus­tain­abil­ity, improv­ing child­hood nutri­tion and the obe­sity epi­demic.

    Present day activism rises from the national trend toward local, sus­tain­able and con­scious eat­ing. Con­sumers want to know what they’re eat­ing, where it comes from and how it is pro­duced.

    Lucky for us then that locally grown actu­ally means we’re able to enjoy mel­ons, stone fruits, sweet corn, beans, pep­pers, toma­toes and pota­toes that are actu­ally grown and har­vested close by.
  • Athlete’s Foot

    There is a lot more to eat­ing for sports and phys­i­cal activ­ity than merely chow­ing down on carbs or chug­ging sports drinks.
    The good news is that eat­ing to reach peak per­for­mance level likely doesn’t require a spe­cial diet or sup­ple­ments. It’s all about work­ing the right foods into a fit­ness plan in the right amounts.

    Marathons, endurance and adven­ture races and triathalons are all gain­ing in pop­u­lar­ity. Sum­mer vaca­tions often require build­ing sta­mina for hik­ing, walk­ing and increased activ­ity above nor­mal levels.

    The energy needs of endurance ath­letes are high. Every athlete’s calo­rie needs are dif­fer­ent, depend­ing on gen­der, age, body com­po­si­tion, train­ing reg­i­men and daily activities.

    Dur­ing heavy train­ing and rac­ing cycles, strive to avoid extreme changes in weight. Smaller ath­letes in light train­ing may need a min­i­mum of 2,000 calo­ries per day; larger ath­letes and those in heavy train­ing may need well over 5,000 calo­ries per day. Calo­ries should come from a vari­ety of sources.
  • Boxed or Bagged

    School lunches have come a long way since the old brown bag­ging days. Good home­work before think­ing about what food choices are offered, is to nail down the vehicle.

    Reusable and wash­able food con­tain­ers are worth the ini­tial invest­ment. Mini-​coolers, insu­lated lunch bags and plas­tic lunch boxes work well.

    Bento boxes and multi-​compartment con­tain­ers have a built in “nudge” toward cre­ative and bal­anced meal planning.

    Most kids like to keep their foods sep­a­rated. Com­part­ments accom­plish this while keep­ing foods from get­ting squished or soggy.
  • Cake Crave

    Invari­ably, some­one we know will soon have a birth­day worth cel­e­brat­ing. That’s when those well-​intentioned healthy new year’s res­o­lu­tions (“no more sugar”, “give up sweets” or “lay off desserts”) go right out the window.

    A “spe­cial occa­sion” cake day is one thing and an almost for­giv­able digres­sion. What about those other gotta have cake days?

    No mat­ter how hard we resist, some­times the desire is beyond our might­i­est con­trol. The cake crav­ing sneaks up on us like a toothache.
  • Chill Fac­tor

    One great aspect of sum­mer din­ing is the obvi­ous, more relaxed approach to meals. “No fuss” and “effort­less” are hall­marks of any indeli­ble al fresco lunch or sup­per in July.

    Whether a crunchy radish or car­rot is plucked from our own gar­den, pur­chased from a sea­sonal farm­ers mar­ket or for­aged from the pro­duce aisle of a local gro­cer, they get sliced the same.

    In sum­mer, straight­for­ward ingre­di­ents and sim­ple serv­ings lead to plates that are an invi­ta­tion to relax and chill out.

    Noth­ing for­mal is required. Take note of com­pat­i­ble part­ners or oppo­site attrac­tions. Bright col­ors, var­ied tex­tures, a dip or spread here, a bowl of olives or Mar­cona almonds there and “voilà”.

    The point of eat­ing, after all, is to nour­ish, restore and replen­ish. What we eat mat­ters more than how it is served. The plate itself is only a visual invite. If it looks good, we want to dive in.
  • Dad Food

    Dads have that rep­u­ta­tion for being “super-​heroes”. That does not mean they have to eat like Super­man, right?

    Dads are just reg­u­lar peo­ple look­ing to stay fit and healthy for their fam­i­lies. They do like to eat, drink and be merry when the oppor­tu­nity strikes.

    Upcom­ing Father’s Day is a per­fect chance to share good food with the fathers in our lives. Like most hol­i­day cel­e­bra­tions, the ways we make merry are diverse and unique.

    Every­day dad food does not trans­late into “cheese, bacon and burg­ers”. Tra­di­tional fare from days long past was largely meat and pota­toes basics for Dads. Maybe for most con­ven­tional men, that would still be typ­i­cal.

    New dude foods, pre­pared by using the fresh­est ingre­di­ents, strike a cord with those favorite fam­ily tra­di­tions and deliver full of fla­vor on the plate.

    By exam­ple, Pops might like a nice ravi­oli with red sauce, skil­let chi­laquiles or mar­i­nated skirt steak on Father’s Day. Cook­ing at home can be a group effort. “No fuss” should be the mantra of the day, but if a lit­tle extra effort is made, we’re good!
  • Fan­fare

    Every­one becomes a foot­ball fan for at least one day out of the year. Super Bowl Fifty in Santa Clara brings it home to Cal­i­for­nia for the food festivities.

    Whether we watch the final foot­ball game of the sea­son, the tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials or the half­time show, the real focus will really be on the party snacks.

    With­out ques­tion, the social aspect of the “big” game require a table full of fun fin­ger foods that bring some action to the plate.

    Nachos, jalapeno pop­pers, stuffed mush­rooms, fresh gua­camole or salsa and loaded potato skins all bring a cer­tain amount of “kitchen con­fi­dence” to the party.

  • Food Smarts

    When food inter­sects with tech­nol­ogy, pas­sion and inno­va­tion are the log­i­cal by-​products.

    Pay­ing atten­tion to most recent dis­rup­tions in the food chain, clearly, tech­nol­ogy has become a game changer in how we eat.

    Agribusi­nesses, retail gro­cers and restau­rants all wres­tle with the lat­est and great­est brainy-​act ideas pro­vided by com­put­ers, big data and smart devices.

    From ver­ti­cal farm­ing to social media, tech­nol­ogy is on the menu. Elec­tronic based order­ing and pay­ment sys­tems for food are becom­ing more preva­lent. In most cities, home and office deliv­ery is read­ily available.

    Uber has launched “Uber Eats” in selected geo­graph­ics for on-​demand meal deliv­ery in under ten min­utes. Other sim­i­lar ser­vices are pro­vided by the likes of Food Jets, Spoon Rocket and Grub Hub in Cal­i­for­nia. Most urban cities have like-​minded food services.
  • Fork “Over” Knife

    A plant-​based diet can boost opti­mum health, decreas­ing the risk of heart dis­ease, Type 2 dia­betes, and cer­tain can­cers.

    The main advan­tages with a plant-​based diet seem to be related more to the foods con­sumed (eat­ing plenty of veg­eta­bles, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts) rather than those foods avoided (pri­mar­ily meats).

    Stay­ing at a healthy weight is eas­ier on a plant-​based diet and menu. A “less meat, more plants” style of eat­ing can improve qual­ity of life.

    Asso­ci­ated ben­e­fits include the reduc­tion of inflam­ma­tion and dis­eases attrib­uted to inflam­ma­tion. Lower cho­les­terol and blood pres­sure lev­els are oth­ers plus ups seen with plant-​based food choices.

    There are many dif­fer­ent types of plant-​based diets. The three most com­mon ones are: Vegan: No ani­mal prod­ucts such as meat, eggs, or dairy prod­ucts. Lacto-​vegetarian: No meat or eggs, but dairy prod­ucts are accept­able. Lacto-​Ovo-​vegetarian: No meat is con­sumed, but dairy prod­ucts and eggs are allowed.
  • Going Global

    Gath­er­ing twelve round fruits on the eve of a new year is said to usher in pros­per­ity and good for­tune. Let it roll.

    Eat­ing round fruits for each month rep­re­sents a healthy approach to the new year. It may be daunt­ing if all done at one sit­ting, unless berries or grapes are avail­able.

    Lucky for us that so many globe-​shaped fruits are read­ily avail­able nearly year-​round.

    These days, apples and oranges are almost taken for granted. They get packed in school lunches every day with hardly a thought. Okay, so maybe they do get sliced into smiles or smaller por­tions. They start out as a round piece of fruit.

    Grapes, pears, quince, cran­ber­ries, kiwi, per­sim­mons, mango and pome­gran­ates are sea­sonal choices that fit a resolve to improve monthly intake. Some of these, while sourced from around the world, will take some plan­ning month-​by-​month to work into the meal rotation.
  • Hol­i­day Plea­sures

  • Ital­ian Crush

    When veg­eta­bles and fruits make their first sea­sonal appear­ance, there is every rea­son to cel­e­brate their nat­ural goodness.

    Options for spring veg­eta­bles abound. Arguably, no one group deals with them any bet­ter than the Italians.

    Per­haps it’s the Ital­ian rev­er­ence for “la terra” or the earth and land where pre­cious food is grown, raised and produced.

    Maybe there is an Ital­ian affin­ity for the treat­ment of food. Despite the global influ­ences of fast food and mass food pro­duc­tion, fresh regional food is still widely pre­pared, con­sumed and appre­ci­ated in Italy.

    A week­day meal is a sim­ple affair, no appe­tiz­ers, no desserts. If dessert is served, likely it is fresh fruit of some kind. Lunch is the heav­i­est meal of the day with din­ner or sup­per being of a lighter composition.
  • MOM-​osa

    The clas­sic mimosa (cham­pagne with orange juice) makes for a cel­e­bra­tory start to any Mother’s Day brunch.

    Frankly speak­ing, Mother’s Day kicks off an entire sea­son of occa­sions just right for a bub­bly toast.

    May begins the long parade of grad­u­a­tions, birth­days, show­ers and wed­dings. Rais­ing a glass with fam­ily and friends requires tak­ing note of the day.

    Cir­cle back to the topic of bub­bly and sparkling ideas for acknowl­edg­ing spe­cial occasions.

    Orange juice, par­tic­u­larly fresh squeezed, makes a good splash in a cock­tail glass. With so many fresh fruit juice choices out there, con­sider a sparkling wine bar at Mother’s Day brunch (or other fes­tiv­i­ties). Guests dive in to cre­ate yummy sips on their own.
  • Puppy Chow

    Let’s face it, dogs are not finicky eaters. In fact, they likely will eat most any­thing they can get their paws on.

    As humans, our role is to be the care­tak­ers of their opti­mal nutri­tion and health. This can become com­pli­cated when we stray from con­ven­tional dog foods.

    It’s under­stood that our pup­pies and dogs are spe­cial fam­ily mem­bers. In some house­holds, those beloved crea­tures are allowed to eat ice cream, cook­ies and even cereal from the same break­fast bowl as their owners.

    While not rec­om­mended, in most cases, allow­ing canines to have peo­ple foods is a safe thing to do. The mod­ern dog has evolved to tol­er­ate foods bet­ter than most other ani­mals. In the wild, wolves are known to scav­enge for fruits and vegetables.

    Foods like apples, bananas, car­rots, sweet pota­toes and water­melon are actu­ally good for lit­tle Fido. There are some sur­pris­ing human food items that could prove harm­ful to pooches and should be avoided at all cost.
  • Road to Well­ness

    No sur­prise that the Fit­bit App was one of the top ten free apps down­loaded after the Christ­mas hol­i­day.

    No doubt, there are many other cool ways to track fit­ness on var­i­ous devices these days. Any­one with a smart­phone is capa­ble.

    Get­ting moti­vated and set­ting goals are what is required for a road to well­ness.

    Real­is­tic, approach­able tar­gets will be the ones that stick. A thirty minute a day min­i­mum approach to exer­cise is a good start for those more seden­tary folks. Walk­ing is an activ­ity that is acces­si­ble to most every­one. No mem­ber­ships required.

    The gen­eral rec­om­men­da­tion is to walk 10,000 steps per day. This is a good goal for some­one just get­ting started. Fit indi­vid­u­als can and should strive for more.
  • The Last Bite

  • The Last Bite

    Where there is clut­ter, even valu­able things lose their impor­tance. Where there is too much, noth­ing really stands out.

    The essence of the Japan­ese aes­thetic “MA” (pro­nounced “maah”) — is a con­cept of the pure, and indeed essen­tial, void or space between all things.

    MA is the absence or empti­ness that is full of pos­si­bil­i­ties. It brings a promise yet to be fulfilled.

    As we close this year and look to the one ahead, clear­ing space for more mean­ing­ful things to exist goes beyond any one culture.

    Tak­ing a page from aspects in Japan­ese cul­ture gives every­one a chance to pause in the hec­tic pace of daily life.
  • Wor­thy Plat­ters

    Thanks­giv­ing Day kicks off another sea­son of hol­i­day eat­ing fes­tiv­i­ties. First bites at most of these social gath­er­ings usu­ally start with an array of small nibbles.

    The idea is to wel­come friends and fam­ily to any cel­e­bra­tion with tempt­ing lit­tle yum­mies and sips.

    Social affairs don’t all need to be for­mal with a sit down meal as Thanks­giv­ing din­ner. Cock­tail and appe­tizer enter­tain­ing in itself can be a great way to keep things sim­ple and casual.

    Whether self served or passed food trays, the goal is to offer a vari­ety of sea­son­ally inspired com­po­nents– from the sweet to the savory, col­or­ful plat­ters high­light fin­ger foods well beyond chips and dips.

    Two top qual­i­fiers for excel­lent party plat­ter foods should be pretty to look at and easy to eat. No one wants to jug­gle a plate, a glass and fork in their best hol­i­day dress or sweater.