Why do SMART people fall for DUMB scams?

1) I am going to admit to you here that I would love to lose 4lbs a week without adjusting diet or exercise.

2) I also know this is not going to happen for me.

3) I also may click some ad promising 1) even though I know 2) to be true.

WHY?

New York Magazine published a really interesting article for why this may be. I tend to do a lot of reading/research on food and diet and so Google and Facebook — while monitoring my web usage — constantly target me with ads using some random clip from Doctors or Dr. Oz or HOW DID JESSICA SIMPSON LOSE 10lbs OVERNIGHT? The more I’m exposed to these scammy articles the more it gets into my head and the more I want to click. How DID she do that? (Spoiler: She didn’t. She probably killed it on Weight Watchers with dieticians and trainers.) ImageAlso perhaps the more I’m invested in an outcome of weight loss the more I want to believe that whatever miracle lotion will actually rid my body of cellulite.

The article presents a few ways of reviewing weight loss plans to make sure your expectations are in check when potentially facing a scam. It also links to a Bureau of Consumer Protection article that really clearly lays out some things to avoid as well (mostly for advertisers but still) and is a pretty short but interesting read.

What I want to add is a terribly over-simplified yet truthful article from Business Insider. The advice they have is simple: the way to lose weight is to eat real food. And while weight loss certainly is more complicated than that, I found that in my two week pullback I lost weight and did not worry too much about calories or fat grams or portions. Instead I ate real food that fill you naturally and managed to shed a few pounds. Now maintaining that is the issue (always, right?) but the idea rings true. Whatever fad diet rages, if you eat your vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats — you’ll lose weight no matter what you call it.

Imageimage from: http://www.eagle-crest.com/blog/?ai1ec_event=redmond-farmers-market&instance_id=

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Miso: The tastiest form of soybean?

It is often said that miso is to soybeans what cheese is to milk – Amanda Hesser

Miso is delicious. And, as mentioned in my previous blog post about probiotic foods, miso can be a great source of beneficial probiotic bacteria. After buying my first container of miso (pronounced mee-soh) about six months ago, it quickly became one of our go-to kitchen items along with salt, garlic, and olive oil. I’d only really had miso before in the soup that you get at sushi restaurants, but I found that it enhances pretty much dish and it’s particularly good for adding some savory flavor to vegetarian dishes.

 

Probably the best known use of miso- miso soup.

Probably the best known use of miso: miso soup.

What is miso?

Miso is a tasty seasoning often used in Japanese cooking that is made from soybeans, salt, and the same variety of  mold spore (Aspergillus oryzae) that is also used to make saki. When miso is made in the traditional Japanese fashion, grains (rice, barley, or soybeans) are cultured with the mold spore to create a substance  called koji. The koji is then mixed with cooked soybeans and packed into wooden barrels with sea salt, and the fermentation process begins! The miso is aged anywhere from a few months to several years.

Like cheese, there is a huge range of flavors, colors, and textures that miso comes in. Miso that is aged for shorter time periods tends to be lighter (white miso) and sweeter, while miso that has been aged up to three years will be darker and heartier (black or red miso).

 

Aspergillus oryzae is so popular that its genome was sequenced in 2005 and the spore has been turned into a collectible character

Aspergillus oryzae is so popular that its genome was sequenced in 2005 and the spore has been turned into a collectible character

How do I pick a miso?

In DC there is a really amazing Japanese market where there is a selection of dozens of different varieties of miso, which can be a little overwhelming. If you have absolutely no idea what to pick, I recommend choosing a white miso to start just because the flavor is very delicate and versatile. If you’re eating it for the probiotics, in addition to tasty flavor, you will need to pick out a miso that is unpasteurized because pasteurization kills off any beneficial bacteria.

White Miso: White or beige color, made from soybeans fermented with white or brown rice. Delicate flavor, often a little sweet. Also called shiro miso.

Yellow Miso: Yellow or dark beige color, made from barley and soybeans. A little more savory than white miso, but still delicate. Also called shiro koji miso and shinshu miso.

Red Miso: Red or dark brown color, contains all soybeans and the longest fermentation. The saltiest, richest kind of miso. This is good for hearty flavoring like stews and and marinades. Also called aka miso.

 

Care and keeping of miso

Miso can last for several months in the refrigerator, but because it contains living bacteria you should be careful to spoon it out with a clean utensil to prevent any contamination. Lighter varieties will keep for about 9 months and darker ones up to a year. When making a soup or other hot dish, you should avoid boiling the miso. Instead, stir the miso in at the end of cooking to avoid overheating it.

 

What are some good miso recipes?

Image via Gaia Cafe

Image via Gaia Cafe

  • I LOVE this super easy super healthy veggie miso soup from Honest Fare. Takes about 15 minutes to make and you can substitute in any veggies you have laying around.
  • One of my favorite recipe blogs Love and Lemons has another great miso soup recipe that uses chickpeas, kale, and elbow macaroni.
  • Mark Bittman has a bunch of great suggestions for using miso as a sauce, glaze, dressing and even as a flavoring for butter.
  • This recipe from The Kitchn is a great example for using miso to beef up a really simple three-main-ingredient noodle dish.
  • There are many, many variations on miso dressings. This one is awesome. I like to keep a jar of the dressing around to top off roasted veggies, noodles, or rice.

 

For more information on miso:

Mark Bittman, New York Times- The Miso Primer

Erin Riddell, Consumer Reprots- Is miso good for you?

The Miso Promotion Board of Japan has a handy pamphlet

 

Review: Fresh Routes

A few years ago a couple friends of mine started a company called Fresh Routes. Their goal was to bring home-cooking that fit into busy New Yorker lifestyles. They launched a home delivery service after winning the 2012 Food for Health Business Plan Competition at Mt. Sinai Hospital. And TODAY they are opening their first store front in the Union Square Subway Station. The basic concept is fresh, locally sourced dinner kits. They give you all the materials you’d need to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes. They have relationships with local vendors such as Satur Farms and Hot Bread Kitchen.

I couldn’t help but want to try this out. I love cooking at home but frequently get home late and am stuck frying an egg for the zillionth time. Or come home to an empty fridge and end up ordering on Seamless because I can’t figure out what else to do. Though the Union Square subway station is a little out of the way I went down on Tuesday evening with my fiance to see how it was.

First the storefront was small but lovely. You have to actually be IN the station to get it but I feel like they’re targeting the commuter crowd so this is quite strategic. They had Thai Coconut Chicken with Rice Noodles for $33.79, Berbere Spiced Beef with Cremini Mushrooms for $35.79 and Soho Rice Bowl with Avocado Relish for $32.49. All of these are meant to serve 4 people. photo 1(1)

The friendly salesperson recommended the Thai Chicken with Rice Noodles so we went with that. The packaging was very cute from the outside and everyone behind the counter was really friendly and eager to help us. They had dessert and side add-ons but we stuck with the main course.

photo 2(1)

We got on the subway and made it home pretty quickly. I wish I’d taken a picture of the inside of the box because it was all very neatly packed and labeled. There was also a very detailed one page instruction sheet that seemed foolproof to me.   photo 3(1)

Also I live with a hungry man. His appetite has wowed my entire family. So when something advertises “serves 4” I really think it means serves two plus maybe a small portion left over for lunch. But when I saw how full the box was — complete with four large chicken breasts, a can of coconut milk, two squares of rice noodles — I knew we had WAY more than enough. There was a little prep needed before we got started — we sliced the chicken breast, washed and chopped the cilantro, and cut the ends off of the snap peas. Nothing too labor intensive but took a bit of time. As promised though, the whole dish cooked up pretty quickly once everything was prepped. At one point my fiance said “It’s like we’re cooking real Thai food!” and I think that’s a testament to how good and authentic the recipe seemed.

photo 4

I’d say including prep it probably took the two of us close to exactly 30 minutes to get dinner on the table. And it was tasty. They had red pepper flakes on the side that you could add if you like heat (which we do) and that was a nice touch. We each had second rounds of food and still had enough for two healthy lunch portions for the next day.

photo 5

As you can see — I ate it up!

photo(5)All in all I think this was a great idea. And if you think about what it would cost to go out and buy all this local food and meat — I think it’s a good price for a four person meal — coming in at under 9 dollars a person. I’m excited to see how the company will change and grow and what other meals and options they’ll present to people. For example we had WAYYYY too much cilantro as garnish. Which is not to say I’m unhappy to have extra — I just think it’s something they’ll end up addressing. I know we would’ve liked a little more help with the prep (maybe slice/marinate the breast before we got to it) but that’s just because we are lazy and again — it only took us 30 minutes. I also think it’s good for people who are not used to cooking to try their hand at it in a really guided and relatively fool proof way.

So for all you New Yorkers checking out this blog, bottom line is we were very happy, it was cost efficient, instructions were clear, portions were generous, food tasted fresh and good.

Also you should know I was not in any way shape or form compensated for this post. Fresh Routes does not even know I’m writing it! If you check it out (and try any of the other dishes!) I’d love to hear about your experience.

Work Snacks Monday: Easiest Hard Boiled Eggs Ever

Hard boiled eggs are pretty much the perfect snack; they’re full of protein, portable, and super easy to fix. I’ve been super busy in work and life lately, so I’m looking forward to having a big bowl of snacks ready to go.

It’s not exactly like the traditional method for hard boiled eggs is rocket science, but I’m all about making easy things even easier. The Burlap Bag inspired me to make hard boiled eggs way more often with their method for the absolutely easiest way to make hard boiled eggs ever: in the oven.

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  • Stick eggs in the oven for 30 minutes at 325 – 350 degrees
  • Cool in ice water for 10 minutes
  • Enjoy!