The Science of The Lunch Break

A recent study published by German Scientists on PlosOne.org shows that eating lunch at work with a group of people or in a restaurant setting is much more beneficial than eating alone at your desk.  Eating with a group of people helps cognitive control, recognition of emotions in others and creativity.  This can help productivity and overall mood in the work place.  Whereas eating alone can bring about negative emotions and isolation.  Sure, some of us go to work and believe we’re only there to pick up a paycheck and leave, but even so, you might as well make the most out of the time you’re there and make as many friends as you can.  You never know, you might make a good friend over chinese take-out who can help you in your career down the road.

Dunkin is Not For Bagels

I was strolling through the East Village the other day, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells, when I walked past a Dunkin Donuts.  Not to sound like a total NYC snob, but every time I pass a Dunkin Donuts I get a little irritated.  Sure they have the right to be there, but how necessary is Dunkin Donuts in the city?  Within a block you can find at least 4 other bakeries who do both donuts AND coffee better than the chain, but it’s also a Boston- based company.  Why not have David Ortiz stand outside and sign autographs while you’re at it.

To make it worse, as I was walking by someone was walking out with a bagel… A BAGEL!  At Dunkin Donuts!  1st off, let’s put aside that of all the options for breakfast in the East Village, you chose Dunkin Donuts.  Instead of going to one of the many food carts or delis for a bagel and coffee which costs an even $3, you went in to the Evil Empire and not only paid more than that, you paid the tax!  So now you have nickels, and pennies in your pocket that are worthless unless you plan on making a wish in a wishin’ pond.  Not to mention, who gets a bagel at Dunkin Donuts in NYC?!  All around you is the history of polish jewish immigrants who slaved away for years on perfecting the breakfast pastry.  In the East Village, if you listen closely, you can still hear the push carts and market vendors in the streets creating early 20th century commerce.

Herbal Remedy

I was recently reading about the positive health effects of the spice turmeric, and it’s extract, curcumin which show to be more effective in helping with depression, diabetes, and cholesterol than most prescription drugs according to multiple peer-reviewed studies.  Many herbs claim to have similar effects which counter the FDA’s medication machine.  Although many people do use herbs daily to help with their health, many refuse to make the switch and stick with the tried, and many times untrue, prescription medications.  Some people just will not put their trust in herbal remedies that have been used for thousands of years by people who live long, fulfilling lives and instead put their faith in chemicals made in a lab.  I’m not a Dr so I can’t say what is better, but I do believe in the power of herbs and know that whenever I tell people about herbs that heal I get written off as a hippie, or a new age weirdo, dismissed by society and exiled into a world of yoga mats and incense.  I guess it makes more sense to trust a commercial on TV with a Dr. played by a struggling commercial actor and other actors on bikes whose script copy reads that they’ve felt better, ever since they started taking (insert prescription drug) to help their (insert crippling ailment).

All (?) Natural

We live in a world of labels.  Many times labels are the only thing that clue us in as to what we’re putting in our bodies.  We’ve been trained for the last 20 years to really read the labels of the foods we buy and keep track of the calories and ingredients that our foods are made from.  At this point all we can do is put faith in the system that these labels are honest.  Unfortunately we live in a world of corporate greed and are subject to verbal manipulation that make us think we are getting one thing but really getting something completely different.  A recent lawsuit against PepsiCo, the makers of the popular “healthy” juice Naked Juice, says the juice maker must now remove the word “natural” from Naked Juice’s labels.  Why?  Because there is nothing natural about the synthetic ingredients and artificial fibers used to make the beverage.

In fact, the FDA does not have a definition as to what constitutes something as “natural”.  Right now the FDA considers something natural as long as it doesn’t have added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.  Not that it was grown in the ground by a farmer who can attest to the quality of the food and that it hasn’t been tainted by anything made in a lab, but just “ehhh, trust us, it’s good”.   The timing of the suit is unfortunate as Naked was preparing to introduce it’s newest juice, “Citrus Fix”, an all-natural juice made from the freshest Mountain Dew and synthetic fibers on the planet… I can always dream…

Renewable Rewards

There is a sweet new app for your iphone called Leftover Swap… It’s a real time app that lets you pawn off   your leftovers to people who will actually BUY YOUR LEFTOVERS.  The technology is still in beta phase.  The makers still have to test whether anyone will eat a stranger’s leftovers.  The app was developed as a way to help solve world hunger by minimizing waste, which is a great idea, but will a country who values freshness and food quality go for it?  I can foresee a situation where I’m broke with only a few dollars to my name, but I’m too much of a foodie to go down and buy a McDonald’s hamburger, or dollar pizza, but instead take what’s left of someone’s Cheesecake Factory half chicken over linguini.  I think it’s a great idea.  I’m all for finding new ways of creating a renewable economy, but I think I may be too selfish for this one.  Take money in exchange for that feeling of knowing I don’t need to make lunch the next day because I have yesterday’s other 6 inch Italian Sub waiting for me.  Call me old-fashioned…

Check it out for yourself:  http://leftoverswap.com/

Cold Soup!

This summer has been the summer of cold soups.  After a long winter of being indoors, living under the clutches of a cheap landlord who dictates my heating rations, my food strategy turned to eating anything with hot water.  I stated eating more Miso soups, Pho, and Ramen.. yes Ramen!  Once the summer thaw came and opened the door to the world of sunshine, hipster shorts and record heat waves, i still had cravings for something tasty, but not too heavy.  That’s what turned me on to the world of cold soups.  Some of my faves include tomato and pepper gazpacho, iced cucumber dill soup, and chilled borscht.  All of these soups are made with fresh vegetables, and are light on calories.  Now who’s ready for the beach!!

chilled_yellow_squash_and_leek_soup_with_coriander_and_lemon_creme_fraiche-646

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