Authentic Italian food Raleigh At Mia Francesca Trattoria the Italian restaurant in Raleigh, NC – tucked away in North hills, we really value rustic flavorful food balances with great wines and cocktails. We were recently visited by a renowned Raleigh food photographer – Mark Petko. Mark took some great shots and was kind enough to [...]
Everyone has to eat—that’s a fact. Because food is such a universal element, describing food with sensory techniques will always draw your reader into your work. When you’re stuck not knowing how to get to the next scene, consider inserting some sort of food experience. How does the food taste, smell, sound like, look like or feel like? If you’re not sure about the sounds, use sounds that utensils make when they hit bowls or plates. Ice clinking against a glass or a fork scraping against a pie plate will immediately place your reader in the scene.
You can also consider how everyone behaves around the table—does the sister pick at her food, never eating anything green? Does the son refuse to have his vegetables touch his meat? Is someone in the family abusing or refusing food? Does the mom have a negative food experience going back to childhood? For instance, she hates cooking chicken for her family because she accidentally lopped off a chicken’s neck when she was visiting her aunt’s farm at ten years old.
Food also is a window into culture, customs, religion, social order and psychology. Food makes the world you’re describing in your pages real to us. This is especially important if you’re writing fantasy or science fiction. When you have your characters eat, they become part of our world, too and we can better relate to them. Who can forget Bilbo Baggins and his second breakfast in J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit?
How many of you remember the scene in Star Wars when Luke is having dinner with his aunt and uncle on Tatooine? Aunt Beru uses a space blender! The scene is important because we learn what Luke wants most in the world: he wants to leave his family and join the Rebellion, but his uncle wants him to stay another season helping on the moisture farm. Suddenly, this dinner scene made the movie real to viewers because it’s so universal. Instead of just being people on another planet, this is a family gathered around the table having an argument. Now we care what happens to them because they are like us.
Here are five food writing-related prompts you can use to unblock yourself and make your writing more relatable to your readers. Enjoy!
Exercise # 1
Pick a color.
Once you pick your color, pair it with food or beverage of that same color.
Now use the senses (sound, taste, touch, sight, and smell) to describe that one food/beverage.
Write it out in sentences, in a list, in a paragraph, in phrases—it doesn’t matter!
Exercise # 2
What is your favorite food and why? If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, use some of my favorites listed below. Locate a personal experience around your food. Write 5 sentences letting us know where you are, if you are sitting/standing and what you’re doing with a few sensory details.
French bread or any crusty bread
French Onion Soup
Exercise # 3
Make a list of sensory words that can be applied to food. Below are a few to start your thinking/writing process. Don’t forget the sounds of cooking and eating!
Now after you have made your list, go ahead and use your list to make comparisons (but try to make the comparison not about food!):
Brittle as old Scotch tape
Mushy as a wet newspaper on the floor after a snow day
Bitter as my mother’s voice
If you’d like to develop your writing about food talents, I’m teaching an online workshop called “Writing About Food” starting next Monday, Dec 3rd. Details below!
Writing About Food at SavvyAuthors.com
December 3, 2012 – December 16, 2012
Cost: $ 20 (basic member) and $ 10 (premium member)
Food writing is a rapidly expanding genre that relies on sensory experience to produce memories and shed light on human relationships. We’ll cook up some powerful prose thanks to Alice’s writing prompts and at-home exercises. Before the first lesson come prepared to share a favorite family recipe as well as a piece you are currently working on. All writing levels and all genres welcome. There will be six lessons that will include prompts, an online chat and every student assignment will be reviewed by the instructor individually.
Beat the Food Cravings:
New Research Challenges the “Body Knows What It Needs” Theory
An article in the Wall Street Journal written by Melinda Beck caught my eye this week:
Cravings are widely believed to influence snacking behavior, resulting in higher incidences of obesity, binge eating and bulimia. Most people believe that our bodies are compensating for a nutritional deficiency when craving certain foods.
New research shows that food cravings involve a complex mix of social, cultural and psychological factors, heavily influenced by environmental clues. Food cravings also activate the same reward circuits in the brain as craving for drugs or alcohol, according to functional MRI scans.
When people continually bombard their reward circuits with drugs, alcohol, or high-fat, high-sugar foods, many of the dopamine receptors in the system shut down to prevent overload. And with fewer dopamine receptors at work, the system craves more and more “treats” to provide the same effect, resulting in an addiction.
Food addiction creates changes in the pro-frontal cortex, which normaly override impulsivity and addictive urges.
How to Fight Food Cravings
Embrace and control the craving rather than merely restricting the food. Simple restrictions can cause the cravings to increase.
- Cognitive behavior therapy
- Distraction through alterntive behavior such as smelling a non-food item like jasmine.
- Setting a timer for 30 min when a craving hits. Busy yourself with something else until the timer goes off.
Good News: the longer people stave off their food cravings, studies show, the weaker the urges become.
Robin Thomas spent 22 years in medical research at the University of North Carolina focusing the last 7 years on the inflammatory process of chronic degenerative diseases. In 2004 she left the laboratory to start her own health and wellness business. Both her experience working with participants of clinical studies and caring for a child with multiple health challenges has given Robin a passion for helping others improve their own health. Robin shares informative articles about new research discoveries in nutritional medicine and adopting lifestyle changes aligned with a healthful and passionate life at her blog, http://robinthomas.biz
8 weeks to a healthier you!
Diet and exercise in Alzheimer’s (approx. 17 min.)
Carl W. Cotman, Ph.D., explains how a diet rich in antioxidants and regular exercise may benefit the brain.
This video is part of the “THE ALZHEIMER’S PROJECT,” a presentation of HBO Documentary Films and the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health in association with the Alzheimer’s Association, The Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund and Geoffrey Beene Gives Back® Alzheimer’s Initiative.
When Grandma said that I should eat fish because fish is brain food, she was closer to the truth than I ever realized. Scientists and doctors have also been telling us for years that diet and exercise play a huge part in our overall health. It just makes sense that a healthier lifestyle including an abundance of fruits and vegetables with plenty of exercise results in a longer and more active life on into retirement.
But testing this theory has proven difficult. In the past, studies on healthy lifestyle choices as related to diseases including Alzheimer’s have always been large epidemiological studies based on surveys and, ironically, memory of previous diet and exercise patterns.
Dr. Cotman’s studies on diet in dogs and exercise in mice (see video) have removed some of the difficult variables that happen when studying lifestyle choices and disease prevention. A new study, published Dec 28, 2011 in Neurology, led by Dr. Gene Bowman of Oregon Health and Science University, takes research a significant step further.
The blood of elderly participants ( mean age 87 years) was tested for 30 specific biomarkers of nutrients including B vitamins (B1, B2, B6, folate and B12), and vit C, D, E. Participants who had high levels of these vitamins and marine omega-3 fatty acids in their blood performed significantly better on cognitive and mental alertness tests. (there’s that brain food) MRI measurements also showed reduced brain shrinkage in the same participants.
On the flip side, it seems that we’ve been right all along about avoiding those trans-fats in processed foods:
“High trans fat was associated with less favorable cognitive function and less total cerebral brain volume.” ~ G. Bowman
This study is one of the first to specifically measure a wide variety of blood nutrient levels rather than basing it’s findings on inexact food intake questionaires. We’ve long known that a healthy lifestyle improves cardiovascular health, and there are indications that it also decreases our risk for certain cancers. Now we are beginning to have evidence that ensuring a high nutrient intake through a diet rich in a full spectrum of antioxidants, is the best brain food we can have.
Eat smart, take high quality supplements, exercise, and stay mentally active.
It’s all about living well, with passion and purpose!
I found the following information both helpful and fascinating:
THINGS HAVE CHANGED in the last 50 years!
S i g n i f i c a n t l y !!
We ate simply and healthy every day, every meal. Swanson had just come out with the frozen dinner. There were no processed foods, which now occupy a majority of the floor space in our grocery stores.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT of reducing real food ingestion (and replacement with refined, processed foods) over time?
ILLNESS … growing slowly and consistently, decade after decade. We are all at the impact of this change in eating habits.
Now 1 in 3 persons in our country contract cancer. It’s rare to live to 100 as well.
Even our soil is deplete of minerals and loaded with chemicals to compound the issue.
Our bodies are designed to work PERFECTLY and RESTORE themselves to perfection on their own. When, of course, they get the right ‘information’ to put those systems into action.
Then “here come the supplements” — a multi-billion dollar industry. This is like sloppy programming, building code on top of code on top of code, rather than redesigning the foundation (it takes too much time and money). Let’s now add chemicals to our body to counteract the lack of good INFORMATION (food) we no longer ingest.
You probably have heard the words ‘hot spots’ which refer to places around the globe where only 1 in 1000 get cancer and almost everyone lives to 100 and beyond.
A few years ago some local residents were in Costa Rica and noticed there were no doctors! People were living to 100 and beyond (so they weren’t needed, I suppose)! They did their due diligence and learned that these folks ate great amounts of super foods ... the healthy things we USED to eat 50 years ago. Further, they found 7 other global hot spots and determined the same impact on human life in those areas. No doctors to speak of, little illness, and long life.
They developed Akea Essentials (link to FAQs), all pure super foods that include enzymes and probiotics — the very INFORMATION our bodies require to REFURBISH and LIVE! They took the product to supplement companies who turned them away, saying “we manufacture chemicals .. this is food.” Ha! They were really on to something!
The name AKEA means may you live well for 100 years (Sardinian).
Now Akea essentials is providing the precise information required for our bodies to heal themselves in a pure and natural form. No gluten… all real food.
I’ve been taking the product for about 6 months now and my own results are measurable and significant. Beyond my results, folks with small to debilitating illness are reversing the process as a result of taking these ‘essentials.’ Imagine returning our bodies to thrive on nutrient rich food! Imagine illness dissipating so that our children and grandchildren are healthy and live very long lives!
If you would like to try this product, lots of choice information, FAQs, etc. HERE.
Illness. That’s what we get … and that is what we HAVE.
When I was a little girl, our grocery stores were small and most of what we purchased were fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products and meats. There were very few processed foods at all.
We were healthy.
Then it began … the slow growth of the inner aisles of processed foods designed for the two parent working family (and the soon to be one parent working themselves to death family). It had to be convenient!
Now the inner aisles filled with little if any pure foods dominate our stores, while one must shop the perimeter to get fresh things.
IF we assume our bodies are designed to heal themselves and work perfectly “with the right information,” then we can also assume our bodies over the past decades have not been given the right information.
We are no longer a healthy society. We do not feed our bodies the information they need.
There are lots of supplements, but they are not food.
There are lots of vitamins, but they are not food.
What do you think would happen if …. IF we could once again feed our bodies with the information they need to heal themselves?
When foods began to decay we ate them anyway. We needed the process the food was going through — fermentation. We have refrigerators now and don’t eat much fermented food.
We’re cooking enzymes required for health and healing right out of our foods. Our soil is deplete of proper nutrients as well.
There is an answer and it comes in the form of an all natural food product derived from the food sources of the hot spots around our globe — spots where folks live to 100 routinely, experience cancer 1 in 1000 rather than 1 in 3 like we have, and have no doctors — cause they are not sick!
Akea Essentials is the product that is in powder form, stays in your frig, and tastes like apples. It gives you way more than minimum daily requirement standards, has 8 strands of probiotics, and the results are riveting. The results are “good health where there was none!”
Find out for yourself. Consider me 5 years old again!!!
We know food additives are added in our food but what are the real effects? The first step to wellness and good health is eating well. Your body uses the ingredients you eat to grow, function, and repair itself. Consuming wholesome foods free of unneeded chemicals allows your body’s immune system to respond properly for long term health.
Since the 1950’s the nutritional content of food has declined, and the use of artificial additives has increased. Highly processed convenience foods, making our lives easier in the short term, have been a fundamental reason for the increase of degenerative disease in the U.S. Although we spend more on health care per person than any other country, we rank last among industrialized nations in all-around health. – Kaiser Family Foundation Health Care Costs April 2011
The best, and often the cheapest way to food shop for your family is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. There you will find whole foods- the ones I call REAL FOOD. It is no longer necessary to shop at a specialty store to find organic fruits and vegetables. Do your best to buy foods that are “in season” and/or locally grown. Beware of the “diet foods” and misleading box labels. You may be shocked to see that items in your local grocery and in your pantry that have been labeled as “healthy” include food additives you should avoid if at all possible.
Top 5 Worst Additives in Food
1. Artificial Colors: examples include: FD&C Red 3, FD&C Blue 1, FD&C Yellow 6, etc. Artificial colors are linked to Attention Deficit Disorder and hyperactivity, cancer ( in animals) and allergic reactions.
-Center for Science in the Public Interest
2. Artificial Sweeteners:
a. Acesulfame K – “Sunette” or “Sweet One”- contains carcinogen methylene choride. Linked to headaches, depression, nausea, mental confusion, liver and kidney damage, visual disturbances and cancer.
b. Sucralose -”Splenda” lack of long term studies on humans, but it has already been linked with gastrointestinal problems, anxiety, mood swings, and depression.
c. Aspartame-”Nutrisweet”, “Equal” or “AminoSweet” linked to cancer, headaches, depression, increased hunger, fatigue, and memory loss.
d. Neotame ( a version of Aspartame) no long term studies available
e. Saccharin (“Sweet-n-Low”) has been shown in laboratory animals to increase the incidence of cancer. Other studies have shown that it increases the potency of other cancer-causing chemicals. Banned in the 1970’s, it was reinstated in May 2000 .
No artificial sweetener should play a major role in a healthful diet. Even if all of these sweeteners were given the green light for safety tomorrow, they would still fall short when it comes to good nutrition. Like sugar, sugar substitutes, and many of the foods that contain them contribute little or nothing in the way of nutrients, and also take the place of more nutritious foods in the diet.
3. BHA & BHT: These are food additives used as a preservative to keep food from spoiling. BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by US Dept of Health and Human Services. BHT is illegal in England and is listed as a carcinogen in California. This synthetic chemical can be replaced by safer chemicals (e.g., vitamin E), safer processes (e.g., packing foods under nitrogen instead of air), or can simply be left out (many brands of oily foods, such as potato chips, don’t use any antioxidant).
4. Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite: This food additive is commonly used in hotdogs and prepackaged lunch meats to preserve their color and flavor. When cooked at high heat, or while in stomach acid, they convert to nitrosamines which have been linked to stomach cancer. Although the nitrites added successfully prevent botulism (a good thing!) it is used primarily in fatty, salty foods, and consumers have important nutritional reasons for avoiding nitrite-preserved foods.
5. Olestra: a synthetic fat substance that is not absorbed and can cause diarrhea and loose stools, abdominal cramps, flatulence, and other adverse effects. Those symptoms are sometimes severe. Olestra inhibits the absorption of fat-soluble carotenoids (such as alpha and beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and canthaxanthin) from fruits and vegetables, but an occasional serving wouldn’t be a problem.
I have just highlighted the worst offenders but there are many other food additives in processed foods. Most of these are in the diet foods that are being marketed for weight loss and in the foods you are buying for your children. The best practice is to avoid food additives by eating whole food or REAL FOOD whenever possible.
Other sites used in the research of this article:
Center for Science in the Public Interest
This article was first published at http://www.ladies-going-green.com/food-additives.html