• Posted by Califia Suntree on July 10th, 2014, 11:01 AM

    A few weeks ago, Lindy West wrote this hilarious story for Gawker about attempting to feed herself for three days from Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest “detoxifying” cookbook It’s All Good. In order to do so, West spent $300 on groceries–again, for three days of meals. She ate well–millet falafel and quinoa salad were the highlights–but the story reenforced what is to me a frustrating, and inaccurate, perception that in order to be “all good” à la Gwyneth, you have to shell out a C-note a day on raw cacao powder and Manuka honey. (GOOP, GP’s website, sells things like $240 bath towels and $175 napkins.) And if you can’t? Well, bring on the frozen pizza and fruit punch.

    As someone who is into healthy eating, but not on a GOOP budget, this message drives me crazy. It’s true that spending in our country is lopsided–we spend too much of our budgets on health care and housing and not enough on food. (A century ago, we spent nearly a quarter of our income on groceries, now it’s just over 6%–about half as much as the Netherlands, the healthiest country on earth.) This reduction in spending on food is presented as a “good thing,” but in fact it reflects the cheapening of our diets and we are seeing the rampant health effects of that cheapening. We eat truckloads of corn syrup, subsidized corn and wheat, and mass-produced animal products, whose deflated price reflects just how poorly raised those animals were.

    All of this brings to mind that old chestnut, “If you think wellness is expensive, try illness.” Irritating to hear when you’re on a tight budget, but these words are true. Thrift means thinking in the long-term, and eating a “cheap” diet now only to suffer from expensive illnesses later (requiring, say, cholesterol or blood-pressure medications, or, as the alarming global stats reflect, diabetes treatment) is not thrifty. Fortunately, you can eat both well and affordably, without morale-crushing trips to Whole Paycheck.

    Here are a few ways that I’ve learned to eat a healthy-foodie’s diet on a junk-food budget. You probably have strategies of your own–post them in the comments!  Read on… »

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on October 8th, 2012, 5:33 AM

    I like sweets for breakfast, mostly because I drink coffee, and there’s just nothing like a sweet with a cup of coffee. So I’m always seeking ways to indulge my cravings while still getting a shred of nutrition to start my day and balance out the caffeine. I’m new to coconut oil, the healthy fat du jour, and have mostly been using the jar I bought as body lotion. (It’s FAB as body lotion.) Could it compete with butter in a batch of banana muffins? Combined with honey, ginger, pecans, and a handful of coconut chips, the coconut oil not only competed, it beat butter at its own game. These muffins are damned delicious.

    Makes 12 large muffins. Read on… »

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on July 13th, 2011, 11:38 AM

    Q: I want to be able to sauté and make omelettes without a ton of oil or fat, and without food welding to the pan. Are nonstick pans really that bad? What are my options here?

    It’s pretty much undisputed that those black, shiny nonstick pans really “work”–you can fry an egg without any grease at all, and food glides off of them with unnerving ease. But being able to “fry” without oil is inherently creepy, and defies the essential science of cooking (frying = high heat + grease). That alone seems reason enough to avoid polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, or “Teflon” when it’s made by DuPont). PTFE is essentially a super-duper high-powered lubricant, used on on things like gears and guns. Among many other chemical compounds, nonstick coatings also contain perfluorochemicals (PFCs), which is also used on pizza boxes and all manner of food packaging. (Because PFCs basically mimic fatty acids and lipds, the EPA reports that PFCs can effect cholesterol and triglyceride levels. So not only are those potato chips giving you high cholesterol, the bag might be, too!) Read on… »

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on June 3rd, 2011, 4:53 PM

    Yesterday, the USDA released their revised food “pyramid” which is now, logically, shaped like a plate. The big news has been the demolition of the iconic food pyramid introduced in 1992; it had replaced the “Basic Four,” introduced in 1956, which in turn had replaced the “Basic Seven” (pictured at left). The pyramid had been excoriated by most nutritionists, mostly because it wasn’t clear which foods were actually and specifically good for you–based on the pyramid, it looks like I can have 2 to 3 burgers per day and be OK!–but also because of its overemphasis on the “bread, cereal, rice and pasta group.” As Marion Nestle points out, it demonstrates the USDA’s time-honored promotion of “American agricultural products,” meaning corn, wheat and soy, whether or not they’re best for our health. (They’re not, by the way.) I clearly remember starting high school at about the same time as the introduction of the pyramid, and getting carbs constantly shoved down my throat in nutrition and “life skills” classes (not literally; I did that for myself). It was all pasta, pasta, pasta back in those days! Read on… »

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