Food & Health Archive

Mixed Health Signals from the Half-Naked President-Elect

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

You know it's a slow news day when a photo of Barack Obama shirtless in Hawaii makes the front page of The Huffington Post. But you know what they say: no news is good news. No terrorist attacks, plane crashes, or giant corporation closing its doors? That's a good day.

So let's take the lull as an opportunity to dig a little deeper and find out what message our future President is conveying here. Because, like it or not, at this moment he is the most visible role model in the world.

Photo by Bauer Griffin.

What's the first thing that hits me? Man, this guy is in good shape! The second thing? This is the President? Seriously, when was the last time we had a president with abs like that?* The press should have nicknamed him Joe Six-pack!

But look a little closer, and what do we see?

Oh, say it ain't so, Joe! Bottled water? I'm disappointed, Mr. President-Elect. The message now becomes: Hey, kids! Want to be healthy and look great in a swimsuit like Barack Obama? Exercise for 45 minutes every morning and drink plenty of Aquafina (or Poland Springs, or whatever the hell).

Let me get one thing out of the way: I don't drink bottled water. Never have. And the reason is this: I am cheap. Why would I pay 2 bucks a pop for something that gets piped into my home for free? It's ludicrous. The height of decadence. I refuse to be a part of it.

There are other considerations, of course. The poor communities that get their blue gold piped literally out from under them without compensation, the chemicals in the plastic, the petroleum used, the mountains of waste, the energy involved in their manufacture and transport…

Photo by Brett Weinstein.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I expect more from our half-naked President-Elect.


*Mm, maybe Hamilton.

Recipe: Famous Uncle Dennis's Coconut Curry Pad Thai (Vegan)

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

This simple combination of stir-fried veggies, sauce, and noodles is rich, creamy, and delicious!

Try to get as many veggies as you can from local, organic suppliers. Look for farmers' markets and natural foods co-ops in your area. Buy herbs and spices in bulk and use your own containers, rather than buying them pre-packaged—you'll get a lot more bang for your buck.

You will need

  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 tbsp soy oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 tsp peanut oil
  • 1 carrot, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 small white onion, sliced
  • 1 block of tofu (about 8 oz.), diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 10 oz. Crimini mushrooms, halved
  • 1/4 cup snow peas
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz. dry rice noodles (rice sticks)

For the sauce, mix

  • 1/2 can of coconut milk (about 8 oz.)
  • 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste

in a bowl and put aside.

Separately, mix

  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp water

and set aside for later.

Chop up your veggies first. This will save you from having to run around like a maniac. Start a deep pot boiling with about 8 pints of water. When the water comes to a boil, remove from heat, add the rice noodles, and soak them for the amount of time recommended on the package (usually 8–10 minutes), stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Heat the soy (or canola) oil together with the peanut oil over medium heat in a fairly large pan. Add the garlic and ginger, crushing the garlic in the pan with a wooden spoon, and cook until the garlic starts getting golden and fragrant, about 3–4 minutes. Remove the garlic and ginger from the oil, and reserve.

Return the pan to the heat and turn it up to medium high. Add the chopped carrot and sliced onion and stir-fry until the carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Toss in the tofu, mushrooms, and snow peas. Stir-fry an additional 5 minutes.

Add the coconut curry mixture, along with the salt, ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes, and reduce heat to medium. Throw in the reserved garlic and ginger. Stir in the flour-water mixture for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice.

Serve over the rice noodles. Garnish with your chopped fresh cilantro. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.

Serve with white wine or sake.