Food for Health

Have a smoking good time with warming foods

It’s cold and damp outside and time to eat foods that make you feel warm. Cocoa, obviously, is a good choice. Iced tea and lemonade, obviously bad choices. Ice cream? No.

Lentils? Yes, especially if you eat them when they are warm (as opposed to cold, on a salad, which is also very yummy but not particularly warming).

All warm foods, obviously, are warming (hello). Lentils are doubly warming, however; they are also included in the list of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s warming foods (I think it has something to do with the qi or air flow in your body).

Whatever the color, eggplants have their virtues

In a way, it doesn’t matter that there are so many types of eggplant, and that so many of them are so beautiful. Once they’ve been cooked, they lose their looks, especially if you are making classic eggplant dishes (caponata, ratatouille, parmigiana, pizza). 

Carrots won’t give you super vision


It never ends, the revision of our favorite food myths. Now it turns out that carrots aren’t actually very good for your eyesight. Bugs Bunny, where are you? Will we learn next that spinach doesn’t give us super-strength equal to that of Popeye the Sailor Man?

Chickpeas can help boost brainpower


This week’s health page is devoted to the chef/cookbook author Paula Wolfert, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and is using cooking, recipes and food to help keep her brain stable and strong; and who is now an unofficial spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Association.

Don’t let them fool you, breakfast still counts!


This is one of those common-sense moments. If you picked up the Sunday New York Times recently and read the story in the magazine about breakfast, you might have come away with the impression that eating breakfast isn’t as important as everyone says it is.

The part of the study that is cited in the magazine article relates only to one question: Does skipping breakfast lead to obesity?

The answer is a fairly resounding, “We don’t know but it’s possible.”

Tasty enough to feel like a splurge

I’ve heard there are scientific reasons why everything that tastes good is bad for you. It all boils down to economics: Companies that produce junk food are actually designing their products to be addictive so that consumers will buy and eat them.

So in an attempt to foil Corporate America, I’ve been trying to find the exception — a food that tastes good enough to be addictive and yet is also healthy.

Behold, the avocado.

The avocado is a fruit (its seed is inside) that falls within a category colloquially known as “super foods” due to its many and varied health benefits.

Ode to a peach, summer’s great delight

In my childhood, I knew a man from Georgia. He was tall — taller than tall — and wide. His voice boomed, in a syrupy southern drawl: “It ain’t summer until there’s peach juice running down your arm.”

I was already convinced. Of all the summer fruits, peaches are the lightest, the sweetest and the most fragrant. They are one of the few fruits that may be truly described as “floral.”

When they’re good, that is.

As much as I love the fruit, peaches are fickle products, and I was never lenient. When I was younger, I used to rank my peaches on a scale of 1 to 10.

Keeping an eye on cucumbers (and vice versa)

I’ve always wondered why people put cucumbers on their eyes.
I think of cucumbers as a way to perk up a green salad. I also like them doused in salt brine and transformed into pickles.
But I never realized that cucumbers were good for your skin, too.
I’ve seen a few movies where women spread a green and gunky substance on their faces and then covered each eye with a cucumber slice. I had to question whether the cucumbers were actually serving a purpose or were simply there for decoration.

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Learning to love marshmallows just as they are

Chances are that if you’ve sat around a summer campfire, you’ve also enjoyed a tasty s’more.

S’mores are among life’s simplest pleasures. Making one is as easy as taking a graham cracker, putting on chocolate squares, roasting the marshmallow, smooshing and scarfing. However, for those among us who are vegetarians, roasting the marshmallow isn’t quite as easy.

This summer I went on a search for marshmallows that I could eat and found that most are made with gelatin.

Rice as centerpiece or side dish

I used to blame my “freshman 15” on rice. My friends and I, who lived on sticky rice during freshman year at Kent School, seemed to have gained extra weight, compared to the non-rice-eaters. As a solution, many of my friends went on a gluten-free diet, suffering through the withdrawals from cake, pasta and, yes, rice.