summer peppers textIf you Google “clean eating”, it returns over 100 million responses. A popular term, no doubt. And why not? Don’t we all want to eat clean? Because if we’re not eating clean, are we eating dirty?

Clean eating is a not just a trend. It’s a way of life for people who want to be conscious and deliberate about the way they eat.

It goes by many names, making it hard to keep track of what eating “clean” actually means. I’ve seen a laundry list of diets that are categorized under the term “clean eating”, everything from Vegetarian and Vegan to Dairy-free, Gluten-free and Paleo.

And it’s for that reason that the term “clean eating” has become so popular. It’s broad, inclusive, and somewhat ambiguous, making it easy for people to adapt the term to suit their needs.

My favorite definition comes from HuffPost Healthy Living. They describe clean eating as the consumption of “whole foods — that is, foods as close to their natural state as you can get them. This means eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins instead of pre-packaged, processed foods or fast food.”

Clean eating has become a way of life for me. And through trial and error with my own diet, I’ve found 3 simple rules that I can stick to that allow me to eat a clean diet:

Eat Clean_FeedMeDearly

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School lunch box

When I trace my interest in food, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it all started.  As I’ve mentioned before, my love affair specifically with organic, natural, locally-grown products began in my early 20s.

But truthfully, if I were to dig a little deeper, my deep and complicated relationship with food started earlier.

I had quite a few food influences when I was growing up. My stepfather is Hungarian and his family lived in Switzerland and France before finally settling in the US. He knows his way around a plate of food like no other, jumping at the chance to order tripe and sweetbreads when we dine out. When I was 16, he taught me to appreciate a real French baguette, and wouldn’t let me travel to Paris on a family vacation until I learned to eat Brie cheese with the rind. 

Like me, my mother was – and is to this day – an avid cookbook collector. I grew up watching her pull thick volumes off the shelves to whip up a batch of pancakes or find inspiration for a new stir fry. 

Food traditions run deep.

But I think that my relationship with food goes back even earlier. My gut (no pun intended) tells me that it was in Elementary school when I was finally introduced to that shareable, swappable, social pecking order-inducing meal of all meals: school lunch.

School lunch jump

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Fall cooking

I’m equally sad and excited when Fall rolls around. Fortunately I love to cook, which keeps the cold weather blues at bay. I love summer, our weekend trips to the lake complete with an endless supply of popsicles and watersports.

But something about turning on the stove and simmering soups, stocks, and stews for hours on end is so comforting. I love the smell of Fall cooking. The earthy vegetables, the slow-roasted meats. It’s a smell that permeates your house, and makes it feel like home.

It’s a completely different kind of cooking from the meals I tend to make in the summer. And especially this summer – I was on a huge raw kick – tomato salads of every kind (see my tomato concern from this week’s Wordless Wednesday post), diced fruit with honey and mint, and raw vegetables marinated in olive oil, vinegar and herbs.

But I’m ready to re-embrace my stove.

People tend to gripe about Fall cooking. They say it’s less healthy, full of butter and bacon. And it takes time. Which is often true.

But it doesn’t have to be. Especially the part about it taking time – I’ll keep my rich Fall dishes, thank you very much. There are over 200 days until I wear a bikini again, and I’m fine with putting a little meat on my bones.

Quick Fall Cooking_FeedMeDearly

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#getfreshMaybe you had an inkling from my recent summer salad post that a subtle shift had taken place in our home. Or you saw the new page on the blog called “Instagrammies” (Instagram + Recipes) – quick fix meals prepared in minutes, using the fresh fruit & veg that I find stashed away in the fridge or ripening on my countertops. Maybe you thought out loud “what’s going on with her?, she normally talks about nachos.” But it’s true, a subtle shift has taken place. Lately I’ve been obsessing about healthy foods. Fresh foods. Foods that don’t need cheese or baking or heavy coaxing. Foods that are perfect in their simplicity.

Summer is that time of year where I crave vegetables and lighter food like it’s going out of style. I can’t pass by my favorite grocery store in NYC, Forager’s Market, without running in to pick up some heirloom tomatoes, fresh ears of corn, and organic lettuce. Along with The Challenge, taking the kids grocery shopping for fresh produce has been a great way to get them on board with healthy eating. When they see me ogling zucchini and fondling peaches, they naturally wonder what the fuss is all about. 

And yes, I meant to say that: fondling peaches. Preferably gently. Keep your minds clean people. Never squeeze a peach to see if it’s ripe, you don’t want to bruise it, especially the delicate local fruit that wasn’t hybridized for shipping durability. Seriously, don’t do it. The farmers would be upset and we don’t want to anger them because they wield pitchforks, rusted shovels and things of that nature.

Late summer into early fall is the best time of year to visit farmer’s markets and pick up seasonal produce at your grocery store. I can’t tear myself away from these places without filling up my cart or bags with way more fruit and vegetables than I can handle.

Which is why it’s so great to meet people like Melissa Lanz, founder of The Fresh 20, a program that helps people ditch the frozen food and get fresh. Like me, Melissa is on a mission to get people to eat more healthy foods, and get kids on board with healthy eating habits early. She created a smart program for keeping families on track and eating well.  Simple-to-use and affordable, her program creates weekly shopping lists and recipes, keeping grocery bills low, and food wastage even lower. It’s pretty awesome, that’s all I can say – I only wish I’d found it sooner.

Melissa’s program has been featured in The New York Times, InStyle, and Inc. Magazine to name a few, and she’s starting a new back-to-school campaign to find out how kids get fresh. As part of her campaign, she’s running a contest: “How do you #getfresh”, asking for parents to submit pictures that show how their kids are getting involved in eating fresh foods. There are some pretty serious prizes too, so check out her Facebook contest here.

So fondle those peaches, pinch those plums, smack those shallots, do whatever you need to do, but take advantage of the season’s bounty while it lasts. And of course, let us know what you’re doing to #getfresh. 


summersaladsIf you’re anything like me, you’re the kind of person who hates to turn on the stove in the summer. I’m not even talking oven. I’m talking stove. Burners. Flames. Heat of any kind.

To me, the best part about summer is the ability to eat fresh, clean, unadulterated foods. Salads that take minimal prep. Baguettes that can ripped open and served with a big hunk of cheese and some sliced meats from the deli.

Nice meats of course. Not that packaged stuff in the refrigerator case. But the kind where you have an actual conversation with the meat-slicing guy, specifying thickness and weight and watching him shave off mounds of prosciutto, mortadella and speck just to your liking.

Don’t get me wrong, I do turn on the oven or stove at times. It’s a necessary evil in the summers when you’ve got cranky kids at home who are asking for pasta. Or you want to grill or boil that bright yellow corn you just picked up at the farmers’ market. Make bacon-studded caramel popcorn. Bake a vat of nachos. The essentials.

But I’m not an air conditioner type of girl, I’d rather throw open the windows and let in the breeze. Well, nudge the windows open to the full width allowed by our child protection guards (that would be three inches). And with New York temps often above 100 degrees with the humidity, I try to minimize the use of our range as much as possible. For obvious reasons, I’d like to avoid creating Indian sweat lodge conditions inside our living room.

So in light of our range-free zone, I wanted to share a few salads with you that have been making their way through the rotation. No-cook meals that take minutes to prepare and take advantage of the super fresh and ripe produce available at this time of year.

These salads are perfect for a quick lunch. If they do end up on the dinner table, they’re probably best as sides.  On the occasion that I’ve served just salad, Rodney has claimed that I’ve put him on the starvation diet. At which point I tell him to go out and buy himself a burrito. Or make his own damn dinner. In the nicest way possible, of course. I know that he’s teasing. But seriously, I doubt anyone would starve after having been served a half block of Feta over a mountain of tomatoes. I don’t know about you, but I can stuff myself on a big salad any day. 

And by the way, in light of these summer salad quick fixes, I’ve started a new page on my blog called “Instagrammies” (Instagram + Recipes). I was taking pics of quick-fix lunches and dinners and uploading to Instagram, but felt like it would be useful information to share. All of these meals were pulled together after a scrounge of the fridge, nothing was pre-planned or pre-prepared. And they’re not full recipes, just the title and you can figure out the rest.  If you have any questions about the meals I post in that space, feel free to reach out.

 So enjoy the last few weeks of summer heat-free cooking. It’ll be over before you know it.


1: Greens, cucumbers, radishes, heirloom tomatoes, basil and edible flowers, olive oil & vinegar, s&p, and burrata cheese

2: White beans, radishes, cucumbers, olive oil, big squeeze of lemon, and flaky sea salt

3: Baby heirloom tomatoes, French feta, sherry vinegar, olive oil, a heavy spray of Maldon salt & freshly-ground black pepper

4: Greens, vinaigrette, rotisserie chicken (dark meat please!), smoked ricotta salata and nectarines, s&p