Monthly Archives: October 2010

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood, and I Chose … Swedish Massage

Two and a half years ago, I was a Weight Watchers member for the umpteenth time. I hate the idea of counting and measuring food, but as I struggled with my weight I would inevitably get humble enough to sign up yet again for another round of meetings. At this particular time, I heard about a new Aveda spa that offered memberships where you could get a monthly massage (or facial) for $59. I was spending $40 a month on Weight Watchers, not getting anything out of it but guilt and shame, so it was a no-brainer to decide to put that money toward a monthly massage instead. How decadent, how lovely … how smart. 

So what does this have to do with being a healthy, happy eater? Two main things:

  1. nuturing the body is a healthy thing to do
  2. counting and measuring food contributes to neuroses

Massage relieves stress, lowers anxiety, minimizes pain and stiffness, lowers blood pressure and boosts immunity. That sounds alot better to me than getting up early on a Saturday morning for a guilt-inducing WW meeting where you try to learn how to game the (digestive) system with faux food.

I have a sweet, beautiful, trim, fit friend who recently told me she was considering joining Weight Watchers to lose a few pounds. Everything in me screamed, “Noooooooooo!” I hated to see a person with no weight problem tap into the collective neuroses that tries to make food the enemy. My advice to her was to read Nina Planck’s book Real Food: What to Eat and Why. There’s so much misinformation about food – from the FDA, diet experts, nutritionists, the media, pharmaceutical companies, industrial food producers – that Nina’s book was like a gulp of fresh air after almost suffocating. Her approach is so intuitive, I immediately knew it was truth. Michael Pollan says her book is, “Persuasive and invigorating … a valuable and eye-opening book.” I couldn’t agree more!

So the next time you consider counting and measuring, or eating something that’s lowfat, nonfat, industrial-processed-supposed-to-taste-like-something-else … go have a massage (Hiatus Spa if in Dallas) and then enjoy some real food. Not sure what that is? Here’s what Nina calls The Omnivore’s Feast (p. 273):

  • Eat generous amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables daily  
  • Eat wild fish and seafood often
  • Eat meat, game, poultry, and eggs from wild, pastured and grass-fed animals often
  • Eat full-fat dairy foods, ideally raw and unhomogenized from grass-fed cows, often
  • Eat only traditional fats, including butter, lard, poultry fat, coconut oil, and olive oil
  • Eat whole grains and legumes
  • Eat cultured and fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso and sourdough bread
  • Eat unrefined sweeteners such as raw honey, evaporated cane juice, and pure maple syrup in moderation
  • Be well!


    Filed under Head Trip, Move Your Body

    My First Farm-to-Fork Dinner

    Boston Marrow Squash Mousse with cranberry compote, candied squash, coffee braised hazelnuts and shortbread cookie crumble, by Chef Matt Maue of Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro in Foxborough, Massachusetts

    I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “Life’s short; eat dessert first,” so I start this post with a picture of the scrumtious dessert from a recent RAFT Heirloom Harvest Dinner sponsored by Slow Food Boston. If you’ve never heard of RAFT, it’s my pleasure to share it with you. Here’s the official description:

    Managed by Slow Food USA, RAFT (Renewing America’s Food Traditions) is an alliance of food, farming, environmental and culinary advocates who have joined together to identify, restore and celebrate America’s biologically and culturally diverse food traditions through conservation, education, promotion and regional networking.

    What that means, is that some of our traditional heirloom foods are in danger of going extinct, and the RAFT initiative’s objective is to save these foods. This amazing three-hour, four course dinner (not counting appetizers) was a tremendous experience for me. As a recent escapee from the prison of junk and fast food, I was delighted with every morsel from Tastings’ Chef Matt Maue’s kitchen. I had eaten at Tastings for the first time the night before, and was so taken with the fresh, local, uniquely-prepared food that I had to eat there again … and pronto. Here’s what I had the first night:

    Native Rhode Island Popcorn with duck fat and lemon thyme;

    Spinach Salad with a free-range fried egg and house-cured bacon;

    Black Truffle Macaroni and Cheese;

    Bombster Scallops on a bed of creamed corn, garnished with arugula 

    The next night was the Farm-to-Fork RAFT Harvest Dinner for nine guests, mostly from around Boston and Providence. The evening started with passed hors d’oeuvres, which included a large piece of slate covered with salami, cheeses, olives, pickles and caperberries. There were also some pork meatballs in a tomato/pepper sauce and the popcorn with duck fat and lemon thyme. I was so taken with that popcorn that I made it at home a few days later – yum! I’m so glad that Nina Planck taught me to appreciate good traditional fats as a healthy part of my diet. Here are the courses, with links to the farms and links to the descriptions of the veggies whose existence is in the hands of a small few (order some seeds to grow in your garden!).

    Course One
    Whitebarn Farm Speckled Trout Lettuce Salad
    with green beans, roasted garlic ranch dressing and Benton’s Country Ham
    Note: a fellow diner said that Whitebarn has the best garlic. And I loved Benton’s Country Ham; I will definitely be ordering some.

    Course Two
    Brambly Farms Pork Croquette
    with Jimmy Nardello Pepper Romesco Sauce
    Note: Chef Matt said that Brambly Farms raises “amazing pigs.”

    Course Three
    Braised Blackbird Farm Short Ribs
    with maple yogurt, gilfeather turnips, glazed wethersfield red onions and arugula
    Note: Ann Marie (left, with Chef Matt) from Blackbird Farm attended the dinner. I enjoyed hearing about her Angus cattle: the way they’re bred, raised, harvested, aged and brought to market. The calves nurse until they’re about eight months old; news to me. These braised short ribs were some of the best food I’ve ever eaten!

    Course Four
    Boston Marrow Squash Mousse
    with cranberrry compote, candied squash, shortbread cookie crumble and coffee braised whole hazelnuts

    This dinner was very special, and I’m so thankful that my trip to the Boston area coincided with this Slow Food Boston event. The conversation over dinner was lively and uplifting, and mostly about real food. I was inspired by it, and reminded of a time that I visited a church in which a baby was baptised during the service. The priest held up the child and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Church has a future.” With young chefs like Matt Maue, and family farms like Blackbird, real food has a future. And that is worth rejoicing!

    If you’re interested in joining the Slow Food movement, they have a memberhip drive special right now for $25/year. Slow Food started in Italy in the late ’80s to “counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” Be well.


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    Filed under Real Food Education, Restaurants