switching from restaurant reviews to healthy ingredient columns has made me way more conscious about my diet. i’m eating a lot more fruits and vegetables and i feel so much healthier than the last two quarters. any suggestions for ingredients i should focus on before summer starts?

Every year when springtime hits, everyone makes firm resolutions to improve their diets or adopt a new workout regimen for that dream body. But rest assured, there’s no need to cut out every delicious snack from a healthy diet. Here are some common foods that are not completely unhealthy.
1. Peanut butter
Even though the creamy texture of peanut butter makes it seem like it’s fattening, peanut butter has a high amount of protein and folate, a water-soluble vitamin B that stimulates the healthy development of new cells. Every 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contains 16 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Peanut butter also effortlessly regulates your appetite, as its dense nutrients keep you full for a extended period of time. Just be sure to eat in moderation to avoid overloading on calories. 
(via EatingWell) 
2. Eggs 
My mom always warned me about eating too many egg yolks, making me wary to touch any of these so-called “cholesterol bombs.” In reality, the dietary cholesterol found in eggs is less harmful than regular cholesterol, while the compounds found in egg yolks have been linked to reducing the risk of eye-related diseases for people over the age of 50. All the while, eggs also do a great job of satisfying hunger effectively, reducing the likelihood of overeating later in the day. 
(via EatingWell)
3. Potatoes 
The biggest culprit behind why potatoes are considered unhealthy is their high glycemic index (GI), which ranks foods based on their effect on blood sugar, posing a problem for diabetics. Fortunately, the fiber, potassium and vitamin C vastly outweigh the harmful effects of their GI. To increase health benefits, add a little olive oil to minimize the absorption of carbohydrates. 
(via EatingWell) 
4. Coffee 
Coffee practically becomes part of every college student’s bloodstream when finals week rolls around, causing inconvenient jitters and weight gain from the added sugar and cream. However, research shows the positive effects of caffeine found in coffee can minimize the risk of dementia, liver cancer and diabetes. Limit intake to just 8 ounces per day to achieve these health benefits, making sure to cut back if hyperactivity ensues. 
(via EatingWell) 
5. Nuts 
Nuts are full of fats, but not necessarily the bad ones — the fats found in nuts are monounsaturated fats that are great for the heart. Lutein, zeaxanthin and other antioxidants found in nuts have a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. As always, make sure to eat in moderation, because each ounce of nuts can contain anywhere from 160-200 calories. 
(via EatingWell) 
6. Bread 
Bread by itself does not make you fat, especially if you eat it in moderation. Rather, it’s the refined grains and excess carbohydrates that affect a healthy diet. Avoid this diet hazard by switching entirely to whole wheat bread.Whole grains should make up half the consumed grains in a healthy diet, and people who eat more whole grains may live longer. 
(via EatingWell) 
7. Fruits 
This fear of fruit really only applies to diabetics and those watching their sugar intake. The negative effects of avoiding fruit altogether vastly outweigh the minuscule “benefits” of limiting fruit consumption. Eating fruit, for example, has been shown to reduce the risk of health problems such as heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes. In addition to the low glycemic index of the sugars found in fruit, the high percentage of water and fiber helps keep you full for later in the day. Eat at least five cups of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy and balanced diet. 
(via LiveScience) 
8. Soy 
After being linked to higher rates of breast cancer among rats that consumed a soy derivative, soy was considered dangerous for consumption. This is surprising, considering the heavy influence of soy in Asian cuisine and the general health benefits of this protein. However, that same health connection has not been made with humans, disproving the soy controversy and allowing the FDA to place health labels on many soy food products. 
(via LiveScience) 
9. Alcohol 
The concerns of alcoholism, substance abuse and liver disease are all valid arguments for avoiding alcohol altogether. However, when consumed moderately in a safe environment and at a legal age, alcohol may actually reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. In addition, the beneficial nutrients of polyphenols found in red wine can even minimize blood clots, inflammation and oxidation. Pair a serving of wine with a home-cooked meal for all the health benefits of spirits. 
(via LiveScience) 
10. Fried food 
While eating fried foods in excess is unhealthy, consuming these irresistible snacks in moderation is fine. The only reason fried foods are considered unhealthy are the calories used in butter, shortening or trans fat instead of healthier oils. A small consumption of oil, such as those found in fried foods, can benefit overall health by making it easier for the body to absorb vitamins and boost the body’s metabolism. 
(via LiveScience)

Every year when springtime hits, everyone makes firm resolutions to improve their diets or adopt a new workout regimen for that dream body. But rest assured, there’s no need to cut out every delicious snack from a healthy diet. Here are some common foods that are not completely unhealthy.

1. Peanut butter

Even though the creamy texture of peanut butter makes it seem like it’s fattening, peanut butter has a high amount of protein and folate, a water-soluble vitamin B that stimulates the healthy development of new cells. Every 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contains 16 grams of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Peanut butter also effortlessly regulates your appetite, as its dense nutrients keep you full for a extended period of time. Just be sure to eat in moderation to avoid overloading on calories.

(via EatingWell)

2. Eggs

My mom always warned me about eating too many egg yolks, making me wary to touch any of these so-called “cholesterol bombs.” In reality, the dietary cholesterol found in eggs is less harmful than regular cholesterol, while the compounds found in egg yolks have been linked to reducing the risk of eye-related diseases for people over the age of 50. All the while, eggs also do a great job of satisfying hunger effectively, reducing the likelihood of overeating later in the day.

(via EatingWell)

3. Potatoes

The biggest culprit behind why potatoes are considered unhealthy is their high glycemic index (GI), which ranks foods based on their effect on blood sugar, posing a problem for diabetics. Fortunately, the fiber, potassium and vitamin C vastly outweigh the harmful effects of their GI. To increase health benefits, add a little olive oil to minimize the absorption of carbohydrates.

(via EatingWell)

4. Coffee

Coffee practically becomes part of every college student’s bloodstream when finals week rolls around, causing inconvenient jitters and weight gain from the added sugar and cream. However, research shows the positive effects of caffeine found in coffee can minimize the risk of dementia, liver cancer and diabetes. Limit intake to just 8 ounces per day to achieve these health benefits, making sure to cut back if hyperactivity ensues.

(via EatingWell)

5. Nuts

Nuts are full of fats, but not necessarily the bad ones — the fats found in nuts are monounsaturated fats that are great for the heart. Lutein, zeaxanthin and other antioxidants found in nuts have a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. As always, make sure to eat in moderation, because each ounce of nuts can contain anywhere from 160-200 calories.

(via EatingWell)

6. Bread

Bread by itself does not make you fat, especially if you eat it in moderation. Rather, it’s the refined grains and excess carbohydrates that affect a healthy diet. Avoid this diet hazard by switching entirely to whole wheat bread.Whole grains should make up half the consumed grains in a healthy diet, and people who eat more whole grains may live longer.

(via EatingWell)

7. Fruits

This fear of fruit really only applies to diabetics and those watching their sugar intake. The negative effects of avoiding fruit altogether vastly outweigh the minuscule “benefits” of limiting fruit consumption. Eating fruit, for example, has been shown to reduce the risk of health problems such as heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes. In addition to the low glycemic index of the sugars found in fruit, the high percentage of water and fiber helps keep you full for later in the day. Eat at least five cups of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

(via LiveScience)

8. Soy

After being linked to higher rates of breast cancer among rats that consumed a soy derivative, soy was considered dangerous for consumption. This is surprising, considering the heavy influence of soy in Asian cuisine and the general health benefits of this protein. However, that same health connection has not been made with humans, disproving the soy controversy and allowing the FDA to place health labels on many soy food products.

(via LiveScience)

9. Alcohol

The concerns of alcoholism, substance abuse and liver disease are all valid arguments for avoiding alcohol altogether. However, when consumed moderately in a safe environment and at a legal age, alcohol may actually reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. In addition, the beneficial nutrients of polyphenols found in red wine can even minimize blood clots, inflammation and oxidation. Pair a serving of wine with a home-cooked meal for all the health benefits of spirits.

(via LiveScience)

10. Fried food

While eating fried foods in excess is unhealthy, consuming these irresistible snacks in moderation is fine. The only reason fried foods are considered unhealthy are the calories used in butter, shortening or trans fat instead of healthier oils. A small consumption of oil, such as those found in fried foods, can benefit overall health by making it easier for the body to absorb vitamins and boost the body’s metabolism.

(via LiveScience)

With Easter just around the corner, supermarkets and drug stores are stocking up on pastel-colored goodies to satisfy any kind of sweet tooth. Instead of indulging in sticky marshmallow rabbits or handfuls of colorful Jordan almonds, consider sinking your teeth into a hearty piece of dark chocolate that not only tastes good, but also has many health benefits for the mind and body.
1. Heart health
Why not have your chocolate and eat it too? According to studies from the Top Institute Food and Nutrition and the Division of Human Nutrition in the Netherlands, moderate consumption of dark chocolate contributes to an overall healthier heart. This is done through maintaining healthy arteries, minimizing risk for strokes and reducing inflammation of cardiovascular tissue. Additionally, dark chocolate also improves blood flow, helping to prevent blood clot formations.
(via New York Daily News)
2. Antioxidants and Prebiotics
Cocoa powder, one of the main ingredients in dark chocolate, is comprised of antioxidant compounds and dietary fiber, which help fight diseases and maintain healthy skin. In addition, the same prebiotics found in whole-wheat flower, dark chocolate and raw garlic are beneficial for stomach bacteria in the digestive track. After consuming prebiotics, the good stomach bacteria increases to out-compete the bad stomach bacteria that could otherwise cause digestive problems. Combine fruits high in antioxidants, such as pomegranates and acai berries, with dark chocolate for an easy-to-make snack.
(via New York Daily News)
3. Weight loss In moderation, dark chocolate can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet. Since it is more filling than milk or white chocolate, it relieves cravings for salty or sweet foods with less calories. Limit consumption of dark chocolate to lessen cravings for other unhealthy foods and maintain a healthy diet.
(via Women’s Health Magazine)
4. Diabetes prevention Something that may seem harmful to a diabetes condition can actually have positive benefits in the long run. When eaten in moderation, a small dose of dark chocolate can help reduce your insulin resistance by almost half and even control insulin sensitivity.
(via Women’s Health Magazine)
5. Reduce stress We’ve all done it. Whether it’s eating fast food one too many times per week or consuming an enormous amount of chips during finals, stress eating is a habit many have indulged in at some point in their life. Instead of another pint of ice cream, relieve the cravings with small pieces of dark chocolate. Not only will your cravings be satisfied, but those feelings of anxiety and stress will be greatly reduced. Dark chocolate releases chemicals that speed up the metabolism and reduce stress hormone levels, leaving you feeling more relaxed and happy.
(via Women’s Health Magazine)
6. Skin health
Dark chocolate can play a part in keeping skin healthy for the summer months ahead. The high levels of sun-protecting flavanols found in dark chocolate can protect against harmful rays and prevent skin from developing the early telltale signs of sunburn. Subjects who consumed dark chocolate regularly took twice as long to become red, reducing their chances of skin damage.
(via Women’s Health Magazine)
7. Cough relief
The next time you develop a pesky cough, eat some chocolate to relieve the irritation. Chemicals found in dark chocolate may have the same effects as cough relief medications like codeine, because of the soothing effects and suppression of activity in the vagus nerve. This nerve is responsible for controlling many of the body’s involuntary reflex responses. A bit of dark chocolate is a great natural remedy to calm your throat without the negative effects and drowsiness of cough medicine.
(via Women’s Health Magazine)
8. Vitamins and minerals
Instead of just taking vitamins, supplement them with a piece of dark chocolate. A number of vitamins and minerals found in this treat can contribute to a healthier body because of their beneficial properties. These include potassium, copper, magnesium and iron, which protect against iron deficiency, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and even heart disease.
(via FitDay)
9. Brain health During those late-night study sessions, break out a piece of dark chocolate instead of a cup of coffee. Eating dark chocolate has been shown to improve brain function by increasing circulation to the brain, maximizing short-term memory and overall cognitive function. In addition, the caffeine boost from chocolate is less invasive than the jolting affects of coffee, allowing for a sound night of sleep even after a heavy dose of dark chocolate. (via Daisy Brains)
10. Happiness
There is a reason chocolate is associated with romance — consuming dark chocolate releases endorphins, chemicals responsible for the feeling of pleasure that can mimic the first feelings of falling in love. Increased levels of serotonin are also linked with dark chocolate, which act as an antidepressant and cannot help but make an individual feel just a little bit happier.
(via Reader’s Digest)

With Easter just around the corner, supermarkets and drug stores are stocking up on pastel-colored goodies to satisfy any kind of sweet tooth. Instead of indulging in sticky marshmallow rabbits or handfuls of colorful Jordan almonds, consider sinking your teeth into a hearty piece of dark chocolate that not only tastes good, but also has many health benefits for the mind and body.

1. Heart health

Why not have your chocolate and eat it too? According to studies from the Top Institute Food and Nutrition and the Division of Human Nutrition in the Netherlands, moderate consumption of dark chocolate contributes to an overall healthier heart. This is done through maintaining healthy arteries, minimizing risk for strokes and reducing inflammation of cardiovascular tissue. Additionally, dark chocolate also improves blood flow, helping to prevent blood clot formations.

(via New York Daily News)

2. Antioxidants and Prebiotics

Cocoa powder, one of the main ingredients in dark chocolate, is comprised of antioxidant compounds and dietary fiber, which help fight diseases and maintain healthy skin. In addition, the same prebiotics found in whole-wheat flower, dark chocolate and raw garlic are beneficial for stomach bacteria in the digestive track. After consuming prebiotics, the good stomach bacteria increases to out-compete the bad stomach bacteria that could otherwise cause digestive problems. Combine fruits high in antioxidants, such as pomegranates and acai berries, with dark chocolate for an easy-to-make snack.

(via New York Daily News)

3. Weight loss In moderation, dark chocolate can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet. Since it is more filling than milk or white chocolate, it relieves cravings for salty or sweet foods with less calories. Limit consumption of dark chocolate to lessen cravings for other unhealthy foods and maintain a healthy diet.

(via Women’s Health Magazine)

4. Diabetes prevention Something that may seem harmful to a diabetes condition can actually have positive benefits in the long run. When eaten in moderation, a small dose of dark chocolate can help reduce your insulin resistance by almost half and even control insulin sensitivity.

(via Women’s Health Magazine)

5. Reduce stress We’ve all done it. Whether it’s eating fast food one too many times per week or consuming an enormous amount of chips during finals, stress eating is a habit many have indulged in at some point in their life. Instead of another pint of ice cream, relieve the cravings with small pieces of dark chocolate. Not only will your cravings be satisfied, but those feelings of anxiety and stress will be greatly reduced. Dark chocolate releases chemicals that speed up the metabolism and reduce stress hormone levels, leaving you feeling more relaxed and happy.

(via Women’s Health Magazine)

6. Skin health

Dark chocolate can play a part in keeping skin healthy for the summer months ahead. The high levels of sun-protecting flavanols found in dark chocolate can protect against harmful rays and prevent skin from developing the early telltale signs of sunburn. Subjects who consumed dark chocolate regularly took twice as long to become red, reducing their chances of skin damage.

(via Women’s Health Magazine)

7. Cough relief

The next time you develop a pesky cough, eat some chocolate to relieve the irritation. Chemicals found in dark chocolate may have the same effects as cough relief medications like codeine, because of the soothing effects and suppression of activity in the vagus nerve. This nerve is responsible for controlling many of the body’s involuntary reflex responses. A bit of dark chocolate is a great natural remedy to calm your throat without the negative effects and drowsiness of cough medicine.

(via Women’s Health Magazine)

8. Vitamins and minerals

Instead of just taking vitamins, supplement them with a piece of dark chocolate. A number of vitamins and minerals found in this treat can contribute to a healthier body because of their beneficial properties. These include potassium, copper, magnesium and iron, which protect against iron deficiency, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and even heart disease.

(via FitDay)

9. Brain health During those late-night study sessions, break out a piece of dark chocolate instead of a cup of coffee. Eating dark chocolate has been shown to improve brain function by increasing circulation to the brain, maximizing short-term memory and overall cognitive function. In addition, the caffeine boost from chocolate is less invasive than the jolting affects of coffee, allowing for a sound night of sleep even after a heavy dose of dark chocolate. (via Daisy Brains)

10. Happiness

There is a reason chocolate is associated with romance — consuming dark chocolate releases endorphins, chemicals responsible for the feeling of pleasure that can mimic the first feelings of falling in love. Increased levels of serotonin are also linked with dark chocolate, which act as an antidepressant and cannot help but make an individual feel just a little bit happier.

(via Reader’s Digest)

With every new quarter comes the resolutions to work out and eat healthier. Instead of struggling through the usual routines and feeling uninspired by the food options, consider introducing coconut oil as a healthy supplement.
Originally from tropical regions such as India, Thailand and the Philippines, coconut oil has been used for centuries as a natural supplement for healthier diets.
Because of its high anti-fungal, antioxidant and antibacterial qualities, coconut oil has many benefits, including stress relief, regulating metabolism, boosting the immune system, weight loss, lowering blood pressure and improving dental, hair and skin health.
Despite being falsely regarded as unhealthy because of its high-saturated fat content, coconut oil has become a widely accepted household ingredient that also adds a great tropical flavor. Here are some healthy food and general options to incorporate coconut oil.
1. Toast: For those with easy access to a toaster and a regular habit of eating breakfast, substitute butter with a light coating of coconut oil for a healthier choice with a slice of whole wheat or rye bread.
(via swansonvitamins.com)
2. Coconut oil-infused hazelnut spread: Dress up a bland slice of toast with homemade coconut oil-infused hazelnut spread for another tasty and healthy breakfast option. Combine roasted hazelnuts, melted chocolate chips, sugar, vanilla, coconut oil and salt in a blender until smooth for a delicious and homemade breakfast option. Add a layer of fresh strawberries if desired.
(via thestir.cafemom.com)
3. Popcorn: Considered a staple in any college student’s diet, popcorn can be easily transformed into a healthier snack by using coconut oil instead of butter. Add coconut oil and popcorn to a pot, making sure to have only a single layer of kernels on the bottom of the pan. Over medium heat for five minutes, let the kernels heat up and pop on top of the stove. Similarly, coat already popped popcorn with a little bit of melted coconut oil and top with crushed sea salt.
(via bewellwitharielle.com)
4. Grilled cheese: Another popular meal item that is easy to prepare on a college budget, can also be improved by toasting the bread in coconut oil instead of butter. After coating the bottom of the pan with coconut oil, place the bread on the pan and grill until brown, making sure to evenly toast both sides. This can even be done in the microwave for a quick snack.
(via swansonvitamins.com)
5. Chocolate chip cookies: This ever-popular snack can be improved by simply using coconut oil instead of butter or vegetable oil for a mild tropical flavor. Even though coconut oil does not have the same amount of fat as butter, it can still be used in recipes with a 1:1 ratio of butter to coconut oil.
(via thestir.cafemom.com)
6. Smoothies: It only takes a handful of fruit, a dash of coconut oil and a cup of milk to make a delicious smoothie. Choosing fruits high in antioxidants provides more nutrition to the smoothie, on top of the soothing properties of coconut oil. Because of the healthy fats found in coconut oil, it increases the amount of vitamins and nutrients absorbed by the body and tastes great too.
(via food.allwomenstalk.com)
7. Coffee and tea: For those with little appetite at all in the mornings, coconut oil can be added to morning coffee and tea for an added energy boost. Melting just a spoonful of coconut oil in a cup of hot tea or coffee is a great way to add a little flavor to a morning routine. When taken regularly, coconut oil can even help improve sleep.
(via thestir.cafemom.com)
8. Eggs: For a great way to start your morning, fry up some eggs with this unique twist. Instead of using cooking oil, pour a light layer of coconut oil on the bottom of the frying pan for some delicious fried eggs. Season with sea salt and crushed pepper for more flavor.
(via swansonvitamins.com)
9. Grooming: On top of being an excellent health supplement for many easy-to-make foods, coconut oil can also be added to a personal grooming routine. Since a lot of makeup is not water soluble, any kind of oil is ideal to clean off any makeup left over from the day’s adventures. Healthier eyelashes are also an added bonus when using coconut oil as a makeup remover.
(via swansonvitamins.com)
10. Tanning and skin use: With the days getting longer and beautiful weather gracing the Central Coast, more effort will be put into tanning as students prepare for the summer months ahead. Using an even mixture of sunblock and pure coconut oil is a simple, organic way of tanning at the beach while keeping skin moisturized. For minor scrapes and cuts, coconut oil can also be used topically to quicken the healing process.
(via swansonvitamins.com)

With every new quarter comes the resolutions to work out and eat healthier. Instead of struggling through the usual routines and feeling uninspired by the food options, consider introducing coconut oil as a healthy supplement.

Originally from tropical regions such as India, Thailand and the Philippines, coconut oil has been used for centuries as a natural supplement for healthier diets.

Because of its high anti-fungal, antioxidant and antibacterial qualities, coconut oil has many benefits, including stress relief, regulating metabolism, boosting the immune system, weight loss, lowering blood pressure and improving dental, hair and skin health.

Despite being falsely regarded as unhealthy because of its high-saturated fat content, coconut oil has become a widely accepted household ingredient that also adds a great tropical flavor. Here are some healthy food and general options to incorporate coconut oil.

1. Toast: For those with easy access to a toaster and a regular habit of eating breakfast, substitute butter with a light coating of coconut oil for a healthier choice with a slice of whole wheat or rye bread.

(via swansonvitamins.com)

2. Coconut oil-infused hazelnut spread: Dress up a bland slice of toast with homemade coconut oil-infused hazelnut spread for another tasty and healthy breakfast option. Combine roasted hazelnuts, melted chocolate chips, sugar, vanilla, coconut oil and salt in a blender until smooth for a delicious and homemade breakfast option. Add a layer of fresh strawberries if desired.

(via thestir.cafemom.com)

3. Popcorn: Considered a staple in any college student’s diet, popcorn can be easily transformed into a healthier snack by using coconut oil instead of butter. Add coconut oil and popcorn to a pot, making sure to have only a single layer of kernels on the bottom of the pan. Over medium heat for five minutes, let the kernels heat up and pop on top of the stove. Similarly, coat already popped popcorn with a little bit of melted coconut oil and top with crushed sea salt.

(via bewellwitharielle.com)

4. Grilled cheese: Another popular meal item that is easy to prepare on a college budget, can also be improved by toasting the bread in coconut oil instead of butter. After coating the bottom of the pan with coconut oil, place the bread on the pan and grill until brown, making sure to evenly toast both sides. This can even be done in the microwave for a quick snack.

(via swansonvitamins.com)

5. Chocolate chip cookies: This ever-popular snack can be improved by simply using coconut oil instead of butter or vegetable oil for a mild tropical flavor. Even though coconut oil does not have the same amount of fat as butter, it can still be used in recipes with a 1:1 ratio of butter to coconut oil.

(via thestir.cafemom.com)

6. Smoothies: It only takes a handful of fruit, a dash of coconut oil and a cup of milk to make a delicious smoothie. Choosing fruits high in antioxidants provides more nutrition to the smoothie, on top of the soothing properties of coconut oil. Because of the healthy fats found in coconut oil, it increases the amount of vitamins and nutrients absorbed by the body and tastes great too.

(via food.allwomenstalk.com)

7. Coffee and tea: For those with little appetite at all in the mornings, coconut oil can be added to morning coffee and tea for an added energy boost. Melting just a spoonful of coconut oil in a cup of hot tea or coffee is a great way to add a little flavor to a morning routine. When taken regularly, coconut oil can even help improve sleep.

(via thestir.cafemom.com)

8. Eggs: For a great way to start your morning, fry up some eggs with this unique twist. Instead of using cooking oil, pour a light layer of coconut oil on the bottom of the frying pan for some delicious fried eggs. Season with sea salt and crushed pepper for more flavor.

(via swansonvitamins.com)

9. Grooming: On top of being an excellent health supplement for many easy-to-make foods, coconut oil can also be added to a personal grooming routine. Since a lot of makeup is not water soluble, any kind of oil is ideal to clean off any makeup left over from the day’s adventures. Healthier eyelashes are also an added bonus when using coconut oil as a makeup remover.

(via swansonvitamins.com)

10. Tanning and skin use: With the days getting longer and beautiful weather gracing the Central Coast, more effort will be put into tanning as students prepare for the summer months ahead. Using an even mixture of sunblock and pure coconut oil is a simple, organic way of tanning at the beach while keeping skin moisturized. For minor scrapes and cuts, coconut oil can also be used topically to quicken the healing process.

(via swansonvitamins.com)

I hate crêpes. 

As I put those words down, I could feel the cringes and heart palpitations of thousands of gourmands around the world as a reaction to someone displaying disdain for this most beloved of breakfast foods. Now don’t get me wrong, I think the French hit on a great idea when coming up with the crêpe. A warm, thin carrier for sliced, seasonal fruits and chocolate sauce, or lavishly spread Nutella, all garnished with luscious whipped cream. But the crêpe itself is just that- a carrier. 

It’s an insipid, round piece of pan-fried batter. It tastes only of flour, and of the butter or oil that the cook used to prevent the batter from sticking to the pan. I am of a firm conviction that flour-based goods need to have a flavor of their own, good enough to be served without a filling or topping. Bread should taste amazing, even without creamy butter spread on it, and a cookie should never have to depend on buttercream frosting to be edible. Good luck getting down a crêpe without those strawberries and cream. I guarantee that if you do, you’ll wish you hadn’t. 

I am very, very grateful that I have a delicious alternative to le crêpe. The Eastern Europeans came up with their own version. The Austrians call them palatschinke, the Hungarians call them palacsinte, and the Eastern Slavs call them palachinke. They are the most beloved of breakfast foods by my people, the Serbs, and I have been eating these with relish as long as I can remember. My maternal grandmother (baba in Serbian) has mastered the art of making the wafer-thin palachinke, and makes them every morning during our family visits. She gets up with the sun each morning- a habit for someone who grew up on a small farm in communist Yugoslavia- and says her prayers. After her normal routine, she whips up an air-light batter of flour, milk, eggs, salt, sugar and copious amounts of corn oil. The last three ingredients are what turn the finished product into more than an insipid filling-carrier. Her palachinke are heavenly, tender and can be eaten without fillings just as easily with. 

But given the option, all of Baba’s grandchildren greedily add fillings, as soon as the steaming palachinke slide off the pan and onto the plate. Her garden-fresh strawberries, homemade plum jam, Nutella or plain white sugar are slathered on, and the palachinka is rolled up into a thin cylinder. We gobble them down before Baba can make another batch. 

Even as little children, my cousins, siblings and I stuffed ourselves with vast quantities of palachinke. Our reasoning, logical even now, is that since we only visit Baba every couple months, we have to eat as much of her food as possibly can, in spite of any gastrointestinal problems that follow hedonistic gorging. This bingeing staves off any cravings for Baba’s cooking in between our bimonthly visits. 

Another reason is that her daughters never learned how to make palachinke of such a superior quality as hers. My mother and aunts, try as they might, could never perfect their mother’s method. Because of this, they are rarely asked to make palachinke. 

My mother and aunts can’t really be blamed for making subpar products. My grandmother has no recipe for them to follow. She just seasons the flour with salt and sugar, adds some water, and eggs until it “gets the color.” Then milk goes in until the batter “is right,” and then she pours “enough oil.” She just knows how it should be, and no one can copy her legendary palachinke.

I’m truly glad that I can have the Serbian version of crêpes instead of those of French cuisine. I hate to challenge the undisputed masters of cookery, but they seemed to really mess up with crêpes. If at all possible, I urge the reader to seek out a Serbian, or other type of Eastern European, restaurant, and try a palachinka. Even one half as delicious as my baba’s will blow you away. And I am sure the one you try won’t be nearly as good as my baba’s, but that might just be because I am a little biased. 

One of my good friends from high school wrote a food column on crepes. Follow his blog at crnagora95.tumblr.com

hi everyone, sorry for the late posts.

I finished up winter quarter and was really busy handling finals and projects. 

expect some cool stuff coming up next quarter. I’m shifting focus to something a little different!!!

as always, thanks for reading and stay tuned!

Luna Red - 1023 Chorro St., San Luis Obispo

I could sense the tension in the dorms and the unceremonious start to dead week. With dark circles and mountains of work awaiting me back at home, I escaped from campus for a couple hours to enjoy a relaxing meal downtown, far away from any responsibilities. 

Ever since the beginning of winter quarter I have spent more time roaming around downtown, especially near the Mission Plaza and surrounding areas. I was lured into Luna Red because of their sprawling outdoor seating, warm lamps and bright patio furniture. For a moment, I was transported into a different atmosphere completely separate from the familiar college environment I had spent the past quarter immersing myself into.

Luna Red features European-style dining and emphasizes ordering multiple dishes to share like a family style meal. Since I forgot to make reservations, the hostess led me to the outdoor cabana style bar near the sidewalk on Chorro Street and left me to browse through the menu of eloquently described dishes. 

Armed with my bulky school backpack and frumpy t-shirt, I felt a little out of place among the crackling fire pit, decadent entrees and clinks of delicate wine glasses. Regardless, the service during my meal was still first class. After clarifying a couple terms on the menu, I placed my order and waited for my food.

 Right as my mind started wandering, a server came out of the main building with a small ceramic bowl of the mini cheesy mac. I knew the servings were going to be small, so I savored each bite to make the portion last longer. 

I enjoyed picking apart the mess of cheese, bacon, grilled onion, basil and tender macaroni. The consistency of the dish was less stringy and more like cream, coating all the ingredients in an even layer of cheese. The pasta was tenderly cooked and seasoned to perfection, leaving a barely noticeable spicy sensation in my mouth.  

I like to eat whatever macaroni and cheese I can find in the dining halls simply because it is sometimes the only kind that I can get. Unfortunately, after I tried Luna Red’s rendition of macaroni and cheese, I knew there was no going back. I scraped the last of the cheese from the bottom of the bowl, placing the bowl back on the plate and wishing desperately for more. 

Fortunately, another server stopped by to swap dishes with me. I ordered the crab ravioli, served on a bed of thyme-roasted tomato sauce and topped with a generous dollop of sweet cream mascarpone. Each ravioli square was bursting with soft crab filling and wrapped in a layer of chewy pasta, reminding me of the large floppy wontons my mom used to make. 

I dipped one of the raviolis into the tomato sauce before biting into the creamy texture of the crab filling, enjoying the tenderness of the pasta and the amalgamation of flavors. I finished the rest of the raviolis in a similar fashion, leaving only a little bit of the tomato sauce and dried spinach in the bowl.

I found myself enjoying my food more as the meal progressed, due to a combination of the sun setting and the low lighting of the outdoor seating. In addition, the servers were patient with my numerous questions about the menu and brought everything in a timely fashion. 

I would only recommend Luna Red for special occasions due to the expensive dishes and small portions. Even then, this restaurant is still less suitable for those who are exceptionally hungry and looking for less of a dining experience and more to satisfy their hunger. Regardless, I hope I can find an excuse in the near future to return and enjoy their famous cheese plates, excellent service and culinary expertise at this global tapas restaurant. 

4/5

hello friends!

 if you want to learn more about the homeless population of San Luis Obispo, check out my new blog post and video featuring Dr. John, a local street performer. Thanks!

http://weusedtobeneighbors.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/no-money-honey/

Firestone Grill - 1001 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo

After officially becoming a Cal Poly Mustang, one of the first meals I had in San Luis Obispo was at Firestone Grill — a place that goes on the San Luis Obispo restaurant bucket list, along with others like Madonna Inn and High Street Deli.

Firestone has a wide variety of food to choose from, and every order is made with fresh ingredients at an affordable price. Simply put, it’s one of the few hotspots that truly defines downtown San Luis Obispo.

Escaping the heavy rain, I ducked into the crowded restaurant and placed an order for an ABC burger with a side of fries. The loudspeaker rhythmically called out order numbers until my food was finally ready. I weaved through the large groups of people in the restaurant to retrieve my spoils.

The ABC burger was a delicious yet balanced concoction of avocado, bacon and pepper jack cheese tucked between two slices of lightly toasted, soft burger buns. Each bite of the burger had a hint of smoky beef flavor, mixed with the mild aroma of caramelized onions and glued together with the sharpness of the pepper jack cheese. Though I had some technical difficulty eating the burger because of the green avocado smears and sauce dripping all over my hands, it satisfied my fast food craving without the post-meal guilt.

Another popular choice at Firestone is the tri-tip steak sandwich, which is the go-to recommendation for first-time visitors. After trying the tri-tip sandwich this past quarter, I decided to try something different this time to see if the restaurant’s other options are held to the same standard. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

While my friends polished off their burgers, we sat and lingered at the table for a while, sifting through baskets upon baskets of perfectly seasoned french fries. Normally, I prefer my fries with ketchup, but Firestone is one of the few exceptions. We split three baskets of fries among seven people, leaving enough for everyone with nothing left to spare.

Firestone is one of the best restaurants in the downtown area for a large group, with copious seating outside and a friendly atmosphere that is inviting for an abundance of people. Without a doubt, the restaurant will effortlessly continue to be a popular downtown hangout, dishing out delicious burgers and sandwiches for hungry college students.

4.5/5

Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steakhouse - 100 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo

For any resident of San Luis Obispo, it’s an unwritten rule to dine at Madonna Inn at least once. After living in the area for approximately six months, I finally had the pleasure of visiting this lavishly decorated venue with a big group of my friends for a birthday dinner at Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steakhouse.

Regarded as a treasured landmark of the Central Coast, Madonna Inn is situated at the foot of Cerro San Luis Obispo. Visitors can dine at the attached restaurant or bakery, book a reservation for one of the many uniquely decorated hotel rooms or go horseback riding on the beautiful trails around the mountain.

Depending on the event and amount of people, it’s usually a smart decision to make a reservation to guarantee a prime dining experience. In our case, we called a week in advance to confirm reservations for our large party. When we got to the venue, our host immediately seated us near the back of the restaurant at a private table.

Everything in the restaurant was either bright pink, gilded in gold or intricately decorated. Our table was surrounded with ornate plush pink chairs, while heavy glass goblets in an array of different colors studded the tabletop. The word “ritzy” is what comes to mind regarding Madonna Inn’s magnificence, and just sitting at the table near the mirrored walls and intricate golden picture frames made me feel like a princess holding court in an opulent pink castle.

Our waiters circled the table, taking dinner requests quickly and efficiently before leaving us to nibble at the various complimentary antipastos and deliciously warm bread. I ordered the wild-caught Alaskan salmon, and split it with a friend to cover the costs. For college students like us, visiting Madonna Inn was an expensive investment that forced us to order lightly or split with a friend. But in addition to paying for delicious food and excellent service, that money goes toward the experience of dining in such a unique atmosphere.

In addition to being a popular venue for the San Luis Obispo swing dancing scene, Madonna Inn also hosts live band performances during dinner hours. Just as the band started performing its rendition of the theme song from “Titanic,” I was served a plate of salad with vibrant green lettuce generously topped with creamy blue cheese dressing.

Before long, mountainous plates of food came streaming out of the kitchen. A hefty filet of pale pink salmon dominated half of my plate, lightly sprinkled with pepper and paired with a side of green beans and rice pilaf. Everything had just the right amount of seasoning to entice the taste buds and satisfy cravings, with large enough portions to share between two hungry college students.

I pulled off a tender piece of the broiled salmon, dipping it into the side of ranch and relishing the delicious flavors in each bite. The rice pilaf was cooked perfectly, while the aroma of the herbs mixed well with the fresh smell of the salmon. My only complaint was the mushy texture and watery flavor of the green beans, which left an unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth.

Without a doubt, the most memorable part of the meal was the thick slice of decadent cake to finish the visit. Adorned with luscious curls of pink chocolate shavings, Madonna Inn’s world-famous pink champagne cake was one of the many recommendations friends and relatives across the state have given me since I moved to San Luis Obispo.

Throughout the entire meal, the waiters provided excellent customer service and individual attention. I was so pleased by the visit as a whole that I am considering making it an annual tradition to visit Madonna Inn for dinner with my friends. While visiting Madonna Inn is more practical for important events such as birthdays or holidays, it is still a nice restaurant for a fancy dinner out anytime. If not for the numerous exquisite entrees, I will certainly find my way back here to indulge in more delicious slices of pink champagne cake.

4/5