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Philosopher Chef David Uygur Dishes on the Secrets of his Success

If you’ve been lucky enough to score a reservation at Lucia in the Bishop Arts District, you probably already know what a gem this place is. For those who haven’t already experienced it, Lucia is small (only 36 seats) and reservations are booked out months in advance because the food is so simple and lovely that it will transport you to a land far, far away. However, if you don’t have a reservation and you’re dying to check it out, you can try your luck at the four open seats inside at a counter (available on a first come basis) and there are a few non-reservation tables outside on the sidewalk that are used when the weather is nice.

 

Photo Credit: Lucia Dallas

Photo Credit: Lucia Dallas

 

I spoke with David Uygur to discuss his unique approach to Italian cuisine and his recent James Beard nomination. I asked chef Uygur to describe the food at Lucia and what they do that makes it so special. “I want to feel good about the food we prepare and where it comes from. Style wise, I really do like Italian food, it’s what I’m most interested in. But since we’re in North-East Texas, we work with ingredients that are local. The cuisine is completely influenced by what we have around us and what we have to work with. In that way, the food at Lucia is very Italian-American as far as processes and techniques. What we do here is our version of Italian food. It’s influenced by the food of Italy, in that it’s all about the raw product and respect for the ingredients. I get inspired by traveling and the changing of the seasons. I love when it starts getting warm out after a long winter and you get the first peas of the season, ramps and green garlic, it’s a celebration of the ingredients. We make everything from scratch in-house as much as possible. I taught myself how to make charcuterie, we make that in house, too. We make all of our own bread and pastas, we butcher a whole hog every two weeks. I take a lot of pride in doing things like that, it’s neat.”

 

Photo Credit: B&B Food Media

Photo Credit: B&B Food Media

 

I asked, now that people are becoming more educated about food, how do you think that has that changed the dining experience? Uygur – “I think it’s making things better, it always drove me nuts to see big restaurants with closed kitchens. It creates a disconnect between the kitchen and the dining room. People would look at the menu and talk to the waiter, order the food, they’d take the menus away and then the food just comes out like auto-mat. Ding! There it is, you know? The disconnect always drove me nuts. Back in the kitchen you could tell diners had no idea what it took to make that food be what it is. Today, I think people appreciate the fact that they can see the people who are preparing and actually tasting the food that’s being served. I stress to all of my cooks, they must taste the food. It’s good for people to see them eating it (not chowing down). But, people need to know that not only are you cooking it, you care about quality control. That’s crucial, it’s the only way it works. I like having that connection and for people to see how we do interesting things in the kitchen.”

David Uygur is no stranger to the James Beard House. He has been invited to cook there in the past, but this year was David’s first nomination for an award. I asked, it must feel really good to be recognized by JBF for your efforts. What a nice reflection of the attention to detail you place on every dish in your restaurant. What would it mean to you to earn such a prestigious award? Uygur was very modest and humble in his response and replied simply, “I don’t know. I mean, I think that all chefs are competitive, you know? It’s great to see new names from Dallas on the list too, I think it is a sign of how the Dallas food scene is evolving. But yeah. I would love to win a James Beard award, that would be a-w-e-s-o-m-e.”

NOTE: The video plays in Firefox and Internet Explorer, but if you use Chrome or Safari and receive an error code on the video, click here to view on YouTube: http://youtu.be/i2vwaO4AsVU

 

 

www.LuciaDallas.com

408 West Eighth St., Suite 101

Dallas, TX  75208

(214) 948-4998

www.facebook.com/LuciaDallas

www.twitter.com/LuciaDallas

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Up Close and Personal with Matt McCallister

Some people are obsessed with sports. But if you’re like me, it’s all about food and for this food fanatic, the James Beard Foundation Awards are the “Super Bowl of Everything Food.” When it was announced that none of the JBF Semifinalist Chefs and other category nominees from “Team Dallas” made it to the final round, I was bummed to say the least. I reached out to Matt McCallister, David Ugyur and John Tesar recently to hear their thoughts on the Dallas shut out.  What they had to say may surprise you.

Matt-McCallister-FT33-Hands

Photo Credit: B&B Food Media

I’ll never forget the first time I met Matt McCallister. He was packing up at the end of an event (not related to a restaurant). We had never met and I did not know who he was. I heard him say “I gotta hurry up and get home to butcher a goat.” I turned to him and implored, “Please tell me you’re a chef, and you are not involved some sort of satanic cult ritual or something.” He replied, waiving his hands emphatically, “Oh no, no, I’m a chef, I’m a chef!” – true story.

Matt has come a long way since he burst on to the Dallas dining scene a little more than four years ago during his first solo gig at Campo (formerly in Bishop Arts). He stands out because of his passion and eccentric creativity, starting with the seasonal ingredients he meticulously selects, sometimes foraging or even growing himself, peculiar protein choices, using cuts of meat often overlooked, right down to drawing out precisely how a dish should appear when plated.

Matt-McCallister-FT33-Beet-Salad

Photo Credit: B&B Food Media

I asked McCallister about his recent JBF nod and the Dallas snub. Here’s what he had to say, “Its’ been a crazy year since opening FT33. I don’t know, its nice to get recognition, especially when you work 90-100 hours every week and you’re just trying to put out the best food you know how to. I’m blown away by all the accolades we’ve received. We’ve got a great team. I think Ugyer and Tesar are both doing really great things and it’s also nice to see so many friends I know across the country being nominated as well.”

Chef McCallister hosts Guest Chef Dinners at FT33 on the third Monday of each month, he recently hosted a dinner with JBF Finalist – Best Chef Southwest, Bryce Gilmore of Barley Swine (Austin). But never fear, coming up on June 16th he will host another with JBF Finalist – Best Chef Northeast, Matt Jennings of Farmstead (Rhode Island). Later this year on August 18th, you can also catch JBF Semifinalist – Best Chef Southwest, Seth Siegel-Gardner of Pass and Provisions (Houston).

Matt’s not too sad about the JBF shut out though, last week he was named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef of 2014, he went on to say, “Even though Dallas is out of JBF this year, it’s still great to see so many Texas and especially Dallas restaurants progressing really fast in the dining scene. I’d like to see less quantity of restaurants openings but an even higher caliber restaurants opening in Dallas to keep that going and evolving from here.”

NOTE: The video plays in Firefox and Internet Explorer, but if you use Chrome or Safari and receive an error code on the video, click here to view on YouTube: http://youtu.be/qCM0cT2-i58

www.FT33Dallas.com

1617 Hi Line Drive, Suite 250

Dallas, TX 75207

(214) 741-2629

www.facebook.com/ft33dallas

Twitter: @FT33Dallas @ChefMattMcCallister

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Chipotle Coupons Support the Dallas Farmers Market

On August 6, 2013, in Shopping, by Bev Garvin
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Get Free Produce at Dallas Farmers Market this Weekend

JT Lemley, Lemley's Produce, Certified Organic, Local Farmer, Shed 1, Dallas Farmers Market

JT Lemley’s Produce (Shed 1 Dallas Farmer’s Market) has sold his locally grown goods at the farmers’ market since 1976!

Chipotle Mexican Grill is celebrating National Farmers Market Week by giving away $10 currency tokens at the Dallas Farmers Market! Get yours this weekend (August 10th – 11th) when you  stop by the Chipotle tent at the Dallas Farmers Market. Redeem your $10 currency token that day from farmers at the market for free produce of your choice. Tokens will be given away to the first 250 market-goers who stop by the Chipotle tent until noon each day, while supplies last.  Once redeemed, Farmers will receive back the full cash value of their collected tokens from Chipotle. This local farmers market initiative is part of Chipotle restaurants’ national campaign to donate $110,000 to 55 farmers markets across the country. The Chipotle tent won’t be serving food, but in addition to the $10 produce tokens, they will also be giving away recipe cards for classic menu items like its’ famous salsa and guacamole, “Grow Your Own” cilantro seed packets and a Chipotle coupon for a buy-one, get-one free (burrito, bowl, taco or salad entrée) menu items that can be redeemed at any area Chipotle location. What a great way support buying local, eating healthy and giving back to the community in a healthy way.

 

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About Chipotle’s “Food with Integrity”

“For nearly two decades, Chipotle has been committed to bringing customers better food from more sustainable ingredients, and we believe that supporting local, family owned farms is an important part of this,” said Chris Arnold, communications director at Chipotle. “Local food not only tastes better, but is better for the environment and contributes to vibrant communities throughout rural America.” Through its’ vision of Food With Integrity, Chipotle is seeking better food from using ingredients that are not only fresh, but that—where possible—are sustainably grown and naturally raised with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food.

Mexican Grill is the largest national restaurant company to commit to organic, green earth-friendly practices. Today, Chipotle restaurants source 100% of their meat (pork, beef and chicken) from naturally raised animals that are raised humanely, in open environments, fed vegetarian diets and are never given hormones or antibiotics. Chipotle will soon offer Tofu to its menu, and its’ produce is from locally sourced (within 350 miles of the restaurant) certified organic farmers, whenever possible, and Chipotle has vowed to limit use of genetically modified ingredients “GMOs” or eliminate them wherever possible. Chipotle is also uses green practices in their operations like recycled napkins, and burrito bowls, aluminum and other eco-friendly initiatives. This video describes their culinary philosophy and how it supports these initiatives.

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Dallas Urban Acres Market Farmstead Kickstarter

On August 3, 2013, in Shopping, by Bev Garvin
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An Urban Farmstead is Coming to Oak Cliff

Urban Acres Market is wrapping up its’ Kickstarter campaign to raise $30,000 by August 5th to build a one of a kind Farmstead only five minutes from Downtown Dallas in historic Oak Cliff that will bring the farm into the city.On July 28th, they announced that they had reached the goal and were now going for the next mark of $45,000 by Monday, August 5th. To incent people to help them reach their goal, they have lots of cool prizes for donations of all amounts.

Urban Acres started between a few good friends who had an idea to connect farms with people who want locally grown organic food. Today, Urban Acres Market has become a wonderful source of local, organic food for about 2,300 people in the Dallas metroplex. At Urban Acres, their goal was to provide the public with access to the very best local and organic foods while supporting Texas farm families and artisans. So they created a co-op-style produce system with pick-up locations all over Dallas that make shopping easy and trying new veggies fun. The Kickstarter funding will allow Urban Acres to expand its’ scope and even better serve the community. Here’s the inside scoop:

 

The Urban Acres Vision

To create a small oasis, (approximately 1300 sq ft) in the historic neighborhood of Oak Cliff right in the heart of Dallas, that will bring together the best of Texas farms and local artisans all under one roof. Imagine a place where patrons can enjoy deliciously prepared local food, learn about aquaponic gardening, the importance of bees, feed the chickens and enjoy a cup of locally roasted coffee while relaxing in a rocking chair on the front porch.  A place for our community to interact over food, and the idea that local food matters while sipping ice tea.  It might just be the craziest thing, but so was bringing organic fruits and veggies from Texas farmers into the city and because of the Urban Acres family, this is a reality today.

 

The Urban Acres Farmstead Construction Check List:

  • City Permits, Demo, Construction, & Plans
  • 4 Foot Cheese Case
  • Open Kitchen to slice and dice veggies and fruit
  • 300 Sq Ft Aquaponics Garden
  • Bee & Butterfly Garden
  • Front Porch Patio with Communal Table & Rocking Chairs
  • Nice Beautiful Sign for Front of Store
  • Lights and Signs for Inside of Store
  • Big New Front Door

sand-creek-farm-e1361390077616

How Can You Help?

Urban Acres is here because of YOU – and they can’t do this without you. With your help, Urban Acres will create a unique gathering place for our community and help Dallas see that local food matters. In return, they are offering fantastic gifts featuring many of Dallas’ best artisans at each donation level.

Your Gift to Dallas:

  • An aquaponics farmstead for growing produce and education
  • A chicken run to supply the freshest eggs in town
  • An artisan cheese case crafting the best-in-Texas cheeses
  • A fun and funky community space for classes and events
  • A bee and butterfly garden
  • Farmstead-to-table events
  • Access to farmstead-to-table gourmet goods

Urban Acres Gift to You:

  • Exclusive farm tours
  • Special edition Urban Acres apparel and accessories
  • Aquaponics classes
  • Cooking classes with notable chefs
  • Fresh organic locally grown produce
  • A party with a chef
  • In-store exclusives
  • High-fives and immense gratitude

More Information: www.UrbanAcresMarket.com/Kickstarter

 

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What do you get when you take 30+ of the most talented local Dallas Chefs, from the very best restaurants in Dallas, add in 30+ local Artisans, Farmers and Ranchers, throw in a dash of music, and a little20+ a lot of wine, food, people and fun at Lee Park on Turtle Creek Boulevard?

Chefs for Farmers is a grassroots organization that celebrates all things local. They are a group of volunteers who put on no-fuss events in support of local farmers, as well as the chefs and businesses that participate in the local food movement that donates 100% of the profits to charitable causes. Their goal is to raise awareness for the local locavore movement in Texas connecting chefs with local food resources. Each year the event has grown and has a different theme. This year they’ll be Mixin it Up on the Boulevard on Sunday May 6th, 2012 from 1-5 at Lee Park on Turtle Creek Boulevard!

What You Need to Know:

This will be THE Ultimate Food and Wine Festival because it will feature the very best of the best our local market has to offer, a day of great food, libations, music and a “special” featured guest performance entertainer you will NOT want to miss!!!

  • Amazing Creations By More Than 30 Chefs
  • Vino and Spirits From Over 20 Wineries and Distilleries
  • Mixologists Pouring Potent Libations
  • Farm and Artisan Display
  • Best Dish Competition Sponsored by Artizone
  • Grab a Blanket
  • Bring Your Own Wine Glass to Donate to Café Momentum
  • Tracks spun by local DJ’s

What: Chefs for Farmers – Mixin it up on the Boulevard
When: Sunday, May 6th, 2012  1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Where: Lee Park – Turtle Creek Boulevard
Why: 100% of Proceeds donated to Meals on Wheels & Water for Chizavane
How Much: One / $60 – Two / $110

Buy Tickets: GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY – LESS THAN 100 LEFT!

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Top 10 Hottest Food Porn Shots of 2011

On January 19, 2012, in Food Porn, by Bev Garvin
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Hottest Food Porn Moments

(Continued)

Afternoon Delight

Another equally seductive sandwich, but for totally different reasons, is the Sweet Italian from Scardello Artisan Cheese near the corner of Lemmon and Oaklawn in Dallas.  I stopped in for a quickie and grabbed this to go one day while out running errands at lunch.  It’s lusciousness swept off my feet as I indulged in it’s niceties.  The bread was a not too crusty, it was a fresh baked French baguette, inside was a very thinly sliced prosciutto and buratta (fresh mozzarella cheese), but what will make you beg for more is the fig confit.  The combination of the fresh baked bread with the saltiness of the ham, the sweetness of the fig and the gooey melted cheese will put a smile on your face that will last for the rest of the day.  The fresh spinach salad with dried cranberries and vinaigrette was an enticing side note to the sandwich, and I appreciate that it didn’t come with the same old a boring bag of chips.

Local Flavor You Will Savor

This next dish comes from Local in Deep Ellum. Local is a modern American restaurant in the renovated Boyd Hotel, built in 1908.  This quiet intimate neighborhood spot features many original architectural elements, and is land marked as the oldest standing hotel in Dallas.  Local is a truly amazing hidden gem in the Dallas culinary landscape.  The restaurant, owned by Chef Tracy Miller, features dishes whose main ingredients are grown locally, as the name implies, using the highest quality, freshest ingredients available from the local market year-round.  This makes for a provocative seasonal menu because, no matter when you visit, or what you eat, you’ll know you can just sit back, relax, and take pleasure in the experience of artful dining.

This Lemley’s Peach Salad was both beautiful and decadent, beyond what words can describe.  The peaches came from Shed 2 (the local produce shed) of the Dallas Farmer’s Market.  It was served at the height of peach season, with a subtle, slightly creamy blue cheese and balsamic dressing.  The flavors were so simple, but each shined with natural beauty as I ate every bite, tasted the last drop of balsamic nectar with my index finger, and lingered in the moment while I wished there was more after it was gone.

You Had Me at Gazpacho

It’s exciting when a talented chef reinvents a dish and you get to experience it in a whole new way, like the very first time, only even better.  This Crab Gazpacho from Nosh Euro Bistro, was lasciviously prepared and presented to me by Chef/Partner Jon Stephens as I sat, front and center, at the kitchen theatre chef’s table.   This reconstructed dish, had a mouthwatering light and creamy avocado citrus broth, brunoise style vegetables in every color of the rainbow, and it was gratuitously crowned with sweet, succulent, jumbo lump crab meat.  The flavors were flirtatiously fresh, bright and melodious, the kind of taste that greets you like an old flame who says “Hello Lover” as it leans in for a kiss on the lips.

 

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This article was re-published from www.ILiveinDallas.com, voted CBS “Most Valuable Blogger”  People’s Choice Award.

Thanksgiving is quite possibly my very favorite holiday because, let’s just be honest here, I love to eat.  Thanksgiving Day is the day when you can graze to your heart’s content, take a nice, long, tryptophan-induced nap, then wake up and do it all over again – with pie (Mmmmmm, PIE).

This year, I set out on a mission to find local ingredients in Dallas to prepare my Thanksgiving feast, and I’m quite pleased to report that our locally grown, organic food options are this Urban Foodie’s dream come true.  This got me thinking about, not only what I’m going to make to eat, but reflecting on how truly grateful I am to live in Dallas where I have so many great food options right outside my door, some even within walking distance of my home.

Fall Gourds at Dallas Farmer's Market | Photo Credit: Bev Garvin-Urban Epicurious

Why Buy Fresh, Buy Local?

Buying fresh, local ingredients is a great way to go green, support your local community and improve your health all at the same time.  Because food is grown and produced locally, it doesn’t have to travel very far to get to your table.  This means the ingredients are fresher because they arrive to you faster, which is a greener alternative to food that has been shipped long distance, or imported from other countries.

Local food also tastes better.  Ask any well-known chef in Dallas, they’ll tell you they purchase local ingredients whenever possible.  The reason is the quality is superior, and using better ingredients equals better food. It tastes better because it’s delivered at the peak of freshness, when the vitamins and minerals are at their highest concentration, which not only tastes great, but is actually more nutritious, and healthier for you to eat, too. For me, buying fresh, locally grown ingredients is a no brainer.   I’m supporting local independent business owners, butchers, bakers, farmers, and chefs who bring me amazing ingredients, and food that tastes great, it is healthier to eat, and it’s better for the environment, win–win!

Where to Buy Fresh Local Ingredients in Dallas:

My Perfectly Cooked Brined Turkey | Photo Credit: Bev Garvin-Urban Epicurious

Gobble, Gobble – No Thanksgiving meal would be complete without a delicious cooked turkey, and if you haven’t been to Rudolph’s Market & Sausage Factory in Deep Ellum, you’re in for a real treat.  They’re a real live traditional butcher shop, complete with everything a meat lover could desire, including fresh turkeys. You can call ahead to reserve your a bird, or just walk right into the market to pick one up.  Rudolph’s has whole fresh turkeys, free range birds, turkey breasts and whole smoked turkeys as well. They offer a wide variety of unique things in their store, including bones.  Yes, you can purchase bones (turkey, as well as many other types of bones).  Bones are used for making soup stock and I will use them to make extra homemade turkey gravy to accompany my delicious bird! Rudolph’s is located in Deep Ellum at 2924 Elm Street, Dallas, TX 75226 (214) 741-1874.

Dressing vs. Stuffing – Dressing is made in a pan and baked in the oven.  Stuffing is the same thing, only it’s actually cooked inside the bird, hence the reason it’s called “stuffing.”  Turkey stuffing recipes vary in different parts of the country.  Up north, it’s made with breadcrumbs, oysters, and water chestnuts, but in Texas, we do it “Southern Style” with cornbread, sausage, and mushrooms.  And the most delicious sausage in Dallas is made locally at Jimmy’s Italian Food Store.  Jimmy’s is well-known for many wonderful things (Italian sandwiches, their deli, cannolis, pizza dough, and even wine tastings), but they’re best known for their sausage, which is why so many local Dallas restaurants feature Jimmy’s Sausage in dishes on their menus.  Jimmy’s is located at 4901 Bryan Street (at N. Fitzhugh Avenue), Dallas, TX  75206 (214) 823-6180.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme - Tom Spicer, aka “Spiceman,” is the ultimate spice shop in Dallas.  It supplies many of Dallas top restaurants with fresh locally grown spices of all kinds, and exotic produce like seasonal wild mushrooms, hearts of palm, and hand-trimmed artichokes, just to name a few. Spiceman’s F.M. 1410’s wholesale/retail chefs’ market is located just two doors down from Jimmy’s.  When you go there, be sure ask to be added be added to Spiceman’s mailing list, he sends out weekly email updates to let you know what’s in currently in season at his market, located at 1410 N. Fitzhugh Avenue (near Bryan Street), Dallas TX 75204 (214) 954-7994.

Local Produce Shed 1 at Dallas Farmer's Market | Photo Credit: Bev Garvin-Urban Epicurious

A Thanksgiving Cornucopia – No Thanksgiving meal would be complete without the traditional side dishes, and desserts.  At my house, our favorites include mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes (not the kind with marshmallows on top – ick), green bean casserole, corn pudding, Vidalia onion pie, Parker House rolls, herbed butter, turkey gravy, cranberry sauce (not that stuff in the shape of a can), apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and let’s not forget, my grandmother’s fudge pie with fresh whipped cream.  Everything at our house was made entirely from scratch and it was so, so, so, good.  That’s the stuff family Thanksgiving traditions are made of.  Did I mention pie?

Banana Creme Pie R&D Kitchen - I Love PIE! | Photo Credit: Bev Garvin-Urban Epicurious

No matter what your traditional Thanksgiving dinner family favorites are, you can find just about any kind of produce you need (fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc) to make those sweet and savory delights in Shed 1, (the Local Produce Section) of the Dallas Farmer’s Market.  Everything sold in Shed 1 is grown within 150 miles of Dallas, and many have been grown organically (without the use of chemicals, or pesticides), although not all are “certified organic” due to the cost associated with that designation.  Shopping at the Dallas Farmer’s Market is a great way to discover what’s in season, find fruits and vegetables you’ve never tried before, and spend a leisurely day sampling the freshest food Dallas has to offer. The Dallas Farmers Market is located at 1010 S. Pearl Street, Dallas, TX 75201, (just south of Downtown Dallas), (214) 670-5880.

I’m sincerely thankful Dallas has so much to offer from a local market perspective.  These are just a few of my Urban Foodie favorite places to buy fresh, local ingredients in Dallas.  I hope you’ll check them out for yourself, I know you’ll be glad you did.  I’ll be writing more about Dallas merchants, stores, markets, chefs, and restaurants that are doing creative and interesting things within the local market soon, but I’m always looking for new places and noteworthy hidden gems, so feel free to share your favorites with me in your comments, or on Twitter: @UrbanEpicurious.

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What Am I Eating?

On July 10, 2011, in Eating & Drinking, by Bev Garvin
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A lot of people ask me how I maintain my weight, because they know how much I love to eat.  That’s actually a really good question, because I think everyone struggles with food choices no matter what they weigh.  And with so much conflicting information about food, diet, and nutrition these days, its no wonder people have a hard time figuring out what they should or shouldn’t eat.

When I was growing up, my grandparents were in great physical shape, they were active, but they didn’t work out with a personal trainer or go to a gym.  They ate real food (meat, seafood, salads and veggies), they cooked with real butter, they primarily cooked at home, grilled frequently, they often grew tomatoes and other veggies in the garden, they had two drinks at “happy hour” every day at 5:30 pm sharp, they often had a bottle of red wine with dinner, they ate dessert on a regular basis, and we only went out to eat at restaurants for special occasions.  I have so many happy memories from my childhood related to eating with my family, sitting around the dinner table, holiday food and cooking in the kitchen.  Its no wonder I love to eat!

My passion for food and my desire to be healthy have recently prompted me to start asking a lot of questions about my food.  Not just about the nutritional information, but about all kinds of different foods, the health benefits, where my food comes from, how its grown, why organics are supposed to be better, how I can be healthy but not have to give up the foods I love the most.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not some kind of health nut, I enjoy unhealthy food like fast food, fried food, and especially sweets as much as the next person. Like many people, I’ve had my share of weight battles throughout my life, and I absolutely HATE traditional forms of exercise.  I’m not a nutritionist, a dietitian, nor did I go to school to study food or nutrition, but I’ve personally found that eating certain foods, seems to make my metabolism work more efficiently, it gives me more energy, it makes me feel happier and when I focus on eating a healthy balanced diet on a regular basis, I find that I can eat pretty much whatever I want in moderation, of course.  I don’t think I’ve discovered some secret magic formula, but I do believe I have figured out some things that work for me and that everyone’s bodies respond differently.

Here Are A Few of My Favorite Foods:

  • Nuts – I SWEAR by eating handful of nuts per day.  I love almonds, walnuts and cashews, but any nut will do.
  • Avocados – I eat them several times a week and will often order something on a menu if it has avocado in it.
  • Water – Your body simply can’t function properly without it, although probably don’t drink as much as I should.
  • Tea – I love strong fresh brewed iced tea, unsweetened.  I also like hot tea, but only with sugar so I don’t drink it as often as iced tea.
  • Meat, Fish, Eggs & Cheese – Protein is satisfying and helps me feel full longer.
  • Berries – They are supposed to be “super food” all I know is I really like them, they’re loaded with really good stuff so, BONUS.
  • Whole Grains – Oatmeal ROCKS, if I eat bread or pasta I tend to opt for a whole grain when available.
  • Sweet Potatoes – LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, THEM can’t get enough.
  • Cauliflower – Slice it into 1/4 inch pieces and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt & cracked pepper under the  broiler for 8 minutes and you have the MOST delicious side dish or a meal in and of itself.
  • Artichokes – I like them grilled, they are sooo worth the trouble of preparation.
  • Beets – They’re delicious, colorful and sweet.
  • Fruit & Veggies – No one eats enough of them, including me, but I try to get in as many in as possible.
  • Dark Leafy Greens – The darker the better they’re full of vitamins and good stuff.
  • Dark Chocolate – I keep good dark chocolate in my freezer, my office drawer, and whenever I want a snack its the first thing I’ll go to.
  • Beans, Chickpeas, Legumes – Hummus, black beans and lentils, oh my!

Food I Eat in Moderation or Completely Avoid:

  • White Food – I think this is an “Oprah-ism,” but try to I avoid white bread, regular pasta, white rice, potatoes, milk, cream and sugar.  I just don’t feel as good when I eat white foods on a regular basis, they make me tired and when eaten regularly I crave them more, which makes me, even more tired.
  • Sweets – This is the HARDEST one for me to keep in moderation, because I love sweets.  But, I do try to be smart about my choices and will choose fruit, chocolate or more natural options, even ice cream over candy, cookies or other highly processed sweet treats like a piece of cake, doughnut or a Ding Dong.
  • Iceburg Lettuce – I’ll eat it, there’s not really anything all that bad about it, but it has very little nutritional value so I prefer red leaf, spinach or any other darker lettuce over iceburg.
  • Fried Food – I like fried food and will eat it, but I try not to eat it too often.
  • Fast Food – I still eat McDonald’s and occasionally I’ll have Popeye’s or Taco Bell, but I find myself hitting drive-through windows less and less.
  • Processed Food – This is a BIG one, and surprisingly, has been one of the easiest to get away from.  If it comes out of a box or a can, or is packaged in a bag especially those bagged “for convenience” (like chips and cookies) I try not to eat it.  Not everything from a box or can or bag is bad, but a lot is.
  • Frozen Food – I’ll eat food that has been frozen, and I will freeze food I’ve made (like spaghetti sauce or soup), but I rarely buy frozen food from the store. But I’d prefer to eat fresh food over something that’s been frozen any day.
  • Fake Food, Fat Free, Low Fat & Diet Foods – Fat free mayonnaise gives me a migraine, Heart Smart butter doesn’t melt in the oven (eewww that can’t be good in your body), fat free cheese has the texture of plastic (no, thanks).  If the fat in a food has been replaced with some kind of chemical or if it is treated in some way to maintain the texture it would have with fat, or if a food has man-made ingredients, chemicals, preservatives, trans-fats, partially hydrogenated ANYTHING I’m out. I don’t want to put that in my body. I won’t eat fake, chemically altered, unnatural food that no human body can effectively process for fuel.
  • Diet Drinks – This goes hand in hand with the above.  If it has artificial sweeteners of any kind I’d rather not drink it.  When I want a Coke, I’ll drink a real one.

My Food Philosophy

Like my grandparents, I eat “REAL” food like meat, fish, eggs, cheese, fruits, nuts and veggies.  I avoid manufactured, processed, chemically treated or genetically modified food and I eat all kinds of food in moderation. I try to apply a common sense approach to my food choices that seem to work for me.  I love to shop at specialty boutique stores, cheese shops and gourmet places off the beaten path.  On the rare occasion when I do shop at a normal grocery store, I shop the perimeter of the store.  That’s where all the fresh foods are located.

I don’t believe in “diets” because they are not realistic long term, and I think they set people up for failure.  Some diets produce positive results in a relatively short amount of time, and sometimes, those quick results are necessary to get the motivation you need to take the next steps.  But, if you aren’t doing realistic things to maintain your weight with a big picture outlook in mind, or if you’re not making healthy choices that are a realistic fit for your lifestyle, then you’ll gain back all the weight you lost plus some the minute you stop.  I also believe that if you’re not happy with your body or your weight, you owe it to yourself to explore your relationship with food.  Figure out what motivates you so you can determine the right solutions you need for your body to be healthy, and that make changes that are a realistic your lifestyle so you will be happy with long term sustainable results.

Eat The Rainbow!

Nope, I’m not talking about  Skittles. I’m referring to eating a variety of fruits and veggies of every color.  Did you know that brightly colored  fruits and veggies are full of great things for your body?  Its the vitamins and minerals that give them their vibrant color.  If you make a point to include a variety of colors on your plate, you’re very likely eating a well balanced meal.  This makes it easy to eat healthy foods that taste great without putting too much thought or effort into planning your meals.

I like to eat healthy, but it HAS to taste good, too! I try to eat breakfast every single day, and I try not to eat after 8:00 pm during the week or ever late at night.  If I’m going to eat something with high-calories or high-fat, I simply don’t eat a lot of it and I don’t eat those foods every single day, but I DO eat them if I want it.  I’m a BIG fan of the two bite club, especially if I’m eating something that’s not healthy.  This way I get to have a taste, I don’t feel guilty for being bad, and I don’t have to sacrifice something I really want –  win-win!  I don’t count calories, fat grams ,or carbs, but I do pay attention to how the food I eat makes me feel, how my clothes fit, and I do watch the scale on a regular basis.  If I gain a pound or two, that’s OK I simply focus on making healthier choices over the next few days.  I’m not obsessed with my weight, but I do make a conscious effort to keep it in check so I can feel good about myself, be healthy and enjoy the things I love to eat.  I’m NOT an expert, I don’t have all the answers, but I have found some things that work well for me.  I think everyone’s body is different and each responds to different combinations of foods and (God forbid) exercise or activity levels that work for them.  I like to keep things simple and that has served me well.  I am 5’2″ tall, wear a size 6-8 and I weigh 135-140 lbs depending on the day.  Like most women I know, I’d love to loose 10 pounds, but for the most part I’m pretty happy with myself! =)

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