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I'm a picky eater but would like some tips on how to start eating healthier.

I'm really picky, too. However, I've learned to like many things I previously didn't care for.

In some cases, I just started to like certain things (like avocado) in early adulthood. You might want to try things you don't like from time to time, just to see if your tastes have changed.

A lot of US households treat vegetables as an afterthought. In my family growing up, our dinner vegetable was just steamed or boiled, and served on the side with nothing but butter and salt to liven it up. That's pretty boring. Try exploring other cuisines and find out if there's a preparation of a hated vegetable that appeals to you.

For example, I won't eat plain steamed cauliflower. But I love the Indian dish aloo gobi, which is basically potatoes and cauliflower in a tomato-based sauce. Similarly, I'll eat steamed broccoli, but it doesn't thrill me. Grilled broccoli, on the other hand, is great.

You can try mixing the vegetables you don't like with things that you do like. I wouldn't be interested in eating a big heap of boiled carrots. But I have no problem with carrots when they're in minestrone.

Also, if there's something you dislike, try eating a high-quality version of it. Years ago I tried to learn to like extra virgin olive oil, but I thought it was bitter and unpleasant. So I decided to try one of the fancier bottles instead before I gave up on olive oil altogether, and now I love the stuff.

Likewise, if you think you don't like a particular fruit or vegetable, try getting it from a farmer's market. For certain foods, like tomatoes, what you get at a farmer's market is very different from what you can get at the store.

For nutritional information I like www.whfoods.com and www.nutritiondata.com.

As a final thought, are you trying to eat healthily or are you trying to lose weight? Unfortunately, the two don't always go together.

Apr 19, 2013
GEC in Home Cooking

California Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I'm a fan of California Olive Ranch, too, and they seem to have a good reputation. I'm especially partial to their "Arbequina" variety.

Apr 14, 2013
GEC in General Topics

Imam bayildi

I really enjoy this recipe from Clifford A. Wright:

http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/re...

Personally I never bother with salting the eggplant.

May 12, 2012
GEC in Vegetarian & Vegan

Good source of Moroccan olives

Thanks, that first link looks promising!

As for the question of pitting... I find pitting olives to be incredibly tedious, and I don't like food products that make me do extra work! The texture of pitted olives doesn't bother me, and my palate is perhaps not sophisticated enough to notice a difference in taste.

Feb 10, 2012
GEC in General Topics

Good source of Moroccan olives

Thanks, Harters. They don't seem to carry the kinds of olives Roden was describing, but I will keep them in mind if I want some ordinary, good olives.

Feb 07, 2012
GEC in General Topics

Good source of Moroccan olives

In Arabesque, Claudia Roden says that Moroccan olives are "among the best in the world." She mentions that they can be green, violet or black, and that the green variety is salt-cured, the black ones are salted and sun-dried, and the violet olives are cured in bitter orange juice.

Please recommend your favorite brand/online source for Moroccan olives! Bonus points if they are pitted.

Feb 05, 2012
GEC in General Topics

How does one make really good fried rice?

The rule I learned is "hot pan, cold oil" and then "hot oil, cold rice." In other words, get your pan really hot and then add oil. Once the oil is heated, add the rice. I don't have a wok, but getting a seasoned cast-iron skillet made a HUGE difference in the quality of my fried rice. After the rice has been cooking for a minute or two, I add carrots, peas and green onions, plus a bunch of soy sauce. After it's off the heat I finish it with a bit of sesame oil, and some salt to taste.

Nov 15, 2011
GEC in Home Cooking

Favorite Chickpea Recipe - Here's Mine - What's Yours?

Tom Colicchio's recipe for marinated chickpeas, from his restaurant 'Wichcraft. I make it without the diced celery. It's delicious in sandwiches... or just spread on some bread.

http://kitchen-goddess.yumsugar.com/W...

Sep 17, 2011
GEC in Home Cooking

*July 2011 COTM, BATALI II: Antipasti

I made this, but with a significant modification - no ricotta!

To cook the kale, you chop it up, then cook it on medium high heat with sliced garlic and a sliced red chili (I used two red Fresno chili peppers). After 5 minutes, you add water and salt, then cover and cook for another 15-20 minutes. The instructions didn't say that the heat should be turned down after covering the pan, so I left it at medium high, and that worked out just fine.

I really enjoyed the kale; it had sort of a lush taste and texture. I might use a bit less oil next time, but I'll definitely make this again soon.

Sep 02, 2011
GEC in Home Cooking

*July 2011 COTM, BATALI II: Antipasti

I really enjoyed this. The leftovers taste even better than the original, and are good at room temperature, so they were great in my lunch.

I cooked the green beans a bit longer than Mario suggested, because I don't like them to be too crisp. Since I don't have a kitchen scale, I just had to guess how many green beans constituted a pound.

Instead of two medium Vidalia onions I used one large Walla Walla onion. My gas stove tends to run hot, so I originally set the heat more toward "medium" than "high." However, the onions weren't charring all that much, so I had to crank the heat up to a true "medium high," which is what the recipe recommended.

I bought some Maldon sea salt for the first time, especially to try with this recipe. I have to say I prefer regular salt. The huge Maldon flakes interfered with my usual goal of heavy, even salt coverage. Maybe I just need time to get used to it.

Aug 31, 2011
GEC in Home Cooking

Vegetarian French onion soup?

I haven't tried this yet, but Ottolenghi says that adding dried prunes to vegetable broth makes it taste meaty.

Jul 01, 2011
GEC in Home Cooking

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Fraud: Whole Foods, Rachel Ray, Safeway, Newman's Own, Colavita, Bertolli

Agreed. I thought I didn't like extra-virgin olive oil, but then I decided to try a good-quality brand before writing it off forever. Now I use California Olive Ranch oil in all kinds of stuff.

Jun 05, 2011
GEC in Food Media & News

Channa saag

Thanks! That looks delicious. What brand of garam masala do you use? I've found that a little of my store-bought variety goes a looong way. I thought of blending my own, but there are so many different garam masala recipes out there that I chickened out.

Apr 15, 2011
GEC in Home Cooking

Channa saag

I've been reading good things about that cookbook, so maybe this would be a good time to buy it...

Apr 15, 2011
GEC in Home Cooking

*August 2009 COTM* OTTOLENGHI: Vegetables, Aubergines, Greens

I've made this several times since I posted my review. It's always delicious. The only drawback is that chargrilling inevitably sets off my smoke alarm. Once it's warm out, I'll try using my outdoor grill.

Apr 14, 2011
GEC in Home Cooking

Channa saag

A couple of months ago, I was in the Sacramento area and had some delicious channa saag at Mehfil in Roseville. I've been looking for a recipe that would make something similar, but haven't found anything that looks right.

Mehfil's channa saag had no dairy or tomato (I think), and was seasoned with spices in the cinnamon/nutmeg family. Do any of you have a recipe like this?

Thanks!

Apr 14, 2011
GEC in Home Cooking

Please, please, please get rid of that SHARE thing on the left.

Yes. Please, please get rid of it. It is so annoying. It gets in my way.

Apr 09, 2011
GEC in Site Talk

cooking Chinese vegetables

One Chinese dish you could make is called Di San Xian. It is made with potatoes, eggplant and bell peppers (capsicum). Googling will get you some recipes.

Oct 30, 2010
GEC in Home Cooking

Best pasta sauce in a jar?

I haven't tried all that many jarred pasta sauces, but I really like Mario Batali's marinara sauce.

Oct 30, 2010
GEC in General Topics

*August 2009 COTM* OTTOLENGHI: Vegetables, Aubergines, Greens

The chargrilled broccoli with garlic and chili was delicious. I made it using broccolini and red Fresno peppers. I was too timid with the peppers; next time I will use all three, because they really "made" the dish. I had bought the broccolini thinking that I could use the long stems as well as the florets, but I probably won't do that next time, as the stems were too tough and not as flavorful as the florets.

I didn't have a ridged saute pan, so I just pulled out the ridged pan that came with my oven and stuck that on top of my burner. It worked just fine and gave the broccoli a nice, deep, smoky flavor.

The dish was a little oily for me, but the oil in both steps does seem necessary. The next time I make this (which will be soon), I plan to try sauteing the chili and garlic first, then using the same oil to coat the broccoli before grilling it -- thus cutting the total amount of oil in half.

This was my first time blanching a vegetable. It seemed clear that it would take the broccoli forever to dry on its own, so I eventually just wrung the little suckers dry (and went through a bunch of paper towels in the process).

Oct 03, 2010
GEC in Home Cooking

*August 2009 COTM* OTTOLENGHI: Vegetables, Aubergines, Greens

I made this with a bag of frozen baby limas. I thought the amount of dressing might not be sufficient, but if anything there was a high dressing-to-vegetable ratio. Using the baby limas made a pretty, pale-green-and-red salad. It was pretty tasty and the textures of the peppers and beans contrasted well together. I think it would go well in a bento.

I didn't have any cilantro on hand, so I used flat-leaf parsley instead. The reason I had no cilantro is because I would never buy something that is made of PURE EVIL. :-) I would say the cilantro is definitely not essential to the dish, and next time I won't even bother adding parsley.

Jan 03, 2010
GEC in Home Cooking

what to do with romaine lettuce (other than salad)???

I remember an episode of Iron Chef where lettuce was the secret ingredient. Chef Chen made fried rice and added lettuce for freshness and crunch; the judges loved it.

Jan 01, 2010
GEC in Home Cooking

Fresh or frozen fava beans in Reno-Sparks?

Does anyone know of a store in the Reno-Sparks area that carries fresh or frozen fava beans? I thought surely Whole Foods would have them, but I was wrong.

Dec 30, 2009
GEC in California

Suggestions for sides, veggie or starch, with Asian main dishes?

While I've never tried it, there is a recipe called "di san xian" that is apparently very popular in China. It's made with potatoes, green peppers and eggplant. http://www.beijingmadeeasy.com/chinese-recipes/di-san-xian-earth-three-fresh

I *have* tried Barbara Fisher's scallion pancakes, and they are delicious. Be sure to make the dipping sauce that goes with them. http://www.tigersandstrawberries.com/...

Sep 19, 2009
GEC in Home Cooking

Zucchini Side Dish without tomatoes?

I make this "Courgette Crumble" all the time. It's zucchini and potatoes with a walnut-bread-cheese-rosemary crumble topping. I use sharp Cheddar cheese rather than Lancashire.

http://www.toomanychefs.com/archives/...

Aug 02, 2009
GEC in Home Cooking

Pots and Pans - Which brand to buy?

Oh, yes, I do know that cast-iron has different requirements - I've done my homework as far as that goes.

Sticky wouldn't bother me if it were reasonably easy to remove... my current pans sometimes require intensive soaking and scrubbing to get rid of whatever has stuck to them. (And I do try to cook properly -- add oil to heated pan, add food to heated oil, etc.) If, say, potatoes are left to brown over a stainless steel surface, and stick to it, would a simple deglazing take care of that?

Nov 29, 2008
GEC in Cookware

Pots and Pans - Which brand to buy?

I cook quite often, and for years I've been using the old pots and pans I inherited when I moved out on my own. I suspect that they are nonstick with much of the nonstick coating worn off. They heat unevenly and the stockpot is starting to pit. Anyway, I'm ready to upgrade!

I'm planning to get a Lodge pre-seasoned cast-iron skillet, and I need suggestions about what else to buy.

Typically I just use an eight-quart pot, a 2-quart saucepan and a 10-inch saute pan. Most of my cooking starts with a saute. I also make rice, lentils, etc. I would dearly love to be able to make hash browns from scratch without having the potatoes glue themselves to the bottom of the pan.

I do want to avoid buying anything with a nonstick coating. Aside from that, I need something that will stand up to my abuse (can soak overnight, be put in a dishwasher and survive the occasional cooking mishap), heat evenly, and be as stick-resistant as possible. Oh, and it should also last a long time.

I was looking at an All-Clad Copper Core 7-piece set. It looks like it would definitely meet my needs, and I don't mind paying the money IF there's not something out there that's just as good but much less expensive. I'm definitely willing to spend the money for something that is good quality and will last for a couple of decades or so.

So... please take this opportunity to air your opinions! Is All-Clad worth it? What brands would you recommend?

Nov 28, 2008
GEC in Cookware

Swing State Menu for Election Day

For Nevada, if you're feeling adventurous, you could try pine nut soup or a pine nut cake. The pinon pine is one of our state trees. Pine nuts were a staple food of the Washoe tribe, and people still gather them today.

Oct 14, 2008
GEC in Home Cooking

Good news: Fresh dim sum returns to Reno

I tried CaiE's last week for lunch and will definitely be returning. I was happy to learn that it is not only vegetarian-friendly but vegan-friendly. One of their lunch offerings is vegetables or some type of meat (your choice) stir-fried in one of four different styles and served with rice (choice of white or brown). I ordered the vegetables and I believe it came to about $6.45. They were out of paper menus, so I'm going off memory here.

I got a bit more than I could eat in one sitting. There were large pieces of vegetables, clearly very fresh, including mushrooms, baby corn, carrots, onions, baby bok choy and zucchini. My only difficulty was with the baby bok choy, which was sliced vertically in half - rather large to eat easily. The hoisin-based sauce was tasty and everything was steaming hot. Though it was marked as "spicy" on the menu, it had only a faint hint of warmth, so just about anyone could eat it without discomfort. I did need to add soy sauce to achieve my desired level of saltiness.

While I waited for my food, I caught a glimpse of somebody's pan-fried egg noodles with stir-fried something-or-other on top. The noodles looked great - a springy, totally non-soggy mound of them. Won-ton soup and fried rice are some of the other items I noticed on the menu.

I can't comment too much on the service, since I got my food to go, but I felt comfortable while waiting for my food and the staff seemed friendly.

Overall this was a great deal on a very good and probably pretty healthy lunchtime meal.

Oct 05, 2008
GEC in California

Fresh-baked pitas in Reno/Sparks?

I'm not too excited by the prepackaged pita bread that is sold in local grocery stores. Is there any place in Reno/Sparks that sells fresh-baked pitas? Not like a sit-down restaurant, just a grocery store or bakery.

May 26, 2008
GEC in California