August 28, 2012
If I had to guess which pantry item I use with the most frequency and enthusiasm, it would be either tahini or chickpea flour.
Tahini is an obvious choice for someone who lived in the Middle East and loved the food. I use it in traditional ways—hummus, tahina, moutabbal, chicken fatteh—but also in some pretty unusual concoctions that arose, as all great ideas have, from desperation.
My favorite thing to use tahini for is salad dressing. I mix the tahini with lemon juice or vinegar (it thickens to a paste), and then thin it with water and more vinegar if necessary to make a very flavorful, creamy dressing that’s perfect on a number of salads. Sometimes I’ll add chopped herbs, like parsley or cilantro, or spices, like coriander and cumin. Always salt and pepper. Any type of vinegar is fine—I’ve used apple cider, red wine, and rice wine. If you ever find yourself out of olive oil and need to make a dressing, this is a great solution. But I suppose I’m the only person who runs out of olive oil before tahini. Continue reading
June 17, 2012
My quest for the perfect muffin began in 2006 when I was a college student. I lived above a Panini shop in New York City that sold fat-free and sugar-free muffins, which I frequently devoured for breakfast. The best two flavors were strawberry and pineapple, oddly enough. These muffins were soft and moist but not too heavy, and not overly sweet. They were made with applesauce, which replaced the fat and sugar, or so I was told. Sometimes I wondered if they were just regular muffins—those 600 calorie muffins that might as well be a giant piece of cake—passed off as healthful. They were that good.
After I moved, I decided I would do some experimenting to figure out their recipe. I’d done this before with at least some success. This one, however, was impossible to replicate. Everything I made came out dry, dense, or bland—sometimes all three. Finally, I gave up.
May 14, 2012
I love cheesecake—madly, deeply, unabashedly. In a perfect world, I could eat an enormous slice of cheesecake every day without becoming obese and developing Type 2 diabetes. But if we Americans have learned anything in the past decade, it’s that cheesecake has consequences. (So does invading a Middle Eastern country on the pretext of eradicating WMD, but the verdict is still out on whether or not we’ve learned that lesson.)
Roughly one out of every three adult Americans is obese. One out of every six American children is obese. Not overweight. Not chubby. Obese. Given this, it’s not surprising that roughly one out of every three adult Americans has prediabetes and one in twelve already has diabetes. In fact, diabetes is currently the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. What’s the number one leading cause of death? Heart disease. And what are some of the major risk factors for heart disease? Diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
May 4, 2012
Unless I am camping—in the middle of the Canadian wilderness with a steaming mug of freshly-brewed Starbucks coffee that my dad handed to me as I emerged from a dew-covered tent into crisp mountain air and shafts of golden light coming up through the evergreens—I am not a morning person. I don’t like waking up or getting up. I’ve gone so far as to develop this unfortunate coping mechanism where I snooze my alarm in my sleep; try explaining that one to your boss.
Naturally, it follows that I’m not a breakfast person. I like breakfast food, yes, but at 6:30 AM when I’m simultaneously trying to put lunch together, apply makeup, and find clean clothes on the floor of the closet that passes for my dresser, food is uncharacteristically the furthest thing from my mind. I spend much of the rest of the day thinking about food, but at that moment I’m the opposite of hungry, whatever that would be in this context.
April 20, 2012
Creating a recipe—or even choosing one—requires a considerable amount of negotiation. For most of us, flavor may carry the most leverage, but there are many other concerns to bring to the table (excuse the pun)—health benefits, preparation time, sustainability, environmental impact, cost, etc. As an example, here’s a story about how I came up with this week’s recipe: Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Garlic Yogurt.
Let me begin by explaining my insatiable and uncontrollable fixation with French fries. When I sit down to order lunch at a restaurant, I automatically rule out every dish that does not come with fries. Sometimes, I won’t even bother ordering a sandwich for appearances’ sake—I’ll just get a mound of fries and maybe a side salad to assuage my guilt. I often wish that I could transfer this obsession to a food item that does not lead the list of foods that cause weight gain. Why can’t I crave carrots instead?