Summery Peach Preserves

Meet my summer love: the paraguayo.


We met two years ago, and my love borders on the obsessive. It’s apparently called a “doughnut peach” or a “Saturn peach” in English (or a “squashed peach” as I affectionately called it until I learned its real name).

I feel compelled to buy a bag at least once a week during the summer because I know come fall, I will go through withdrawal when they disappear from the markets.

But this year I’m planning to enjoy a little bit of summer in the middle of December. I made a small batch of simple paraguayo preserves and canned them for a rainy day.

Recipes I used for inspiration:


A few notes:

  • I used paraguayos because they’re my current fave. But regular peaches would follow this same approach.
  • Brian and I have experimented with different kinds of homemade preserves over the last few years, including cherry and fig, but we usually add a lot less sugar than is called for in traditional jams. Sugar helps jams gel and act as a preservative, but the 1:1 ratio of sugar to fruit is too sweet for my taste. We haven’t had any issues with our jams going bad before we open them (but we generally eat them within a few months anyway).
  • This summer we’ve been adding pectin to our jam to give it a bit more gel without adding a ton more sugar; it’s still on the softer, preserve-like side, but I like that consistency. We couldn’t find any packaged pectin at our neighborhood grocery store, so Brian made some with this recipe; basically by boiling down tart green apples, water and lemon juice, then straining out the solids. We canned a few jars of it and froze an ice cube tray of it as well to use later.


  • This is a loose recipe because our process is pretty low-key and unscientific; cook, taste, add a bit of pectin and sugar, see how it coats a spoon, adjust.
  • To can the preserves using heat-processing: Ladle preserves into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼ inch space at the top. Poke a chopstick around between the food and the inside of the jar to release air bubbles. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth. Screw on a hot, sterilized lid until you get medium resistance. Place the filled jars on a canning rack in a pot full of hot water. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a full boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and let jars sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars with jar-lifting tongs and let them cool on a towel for 24 hours. You’ll hear the jars pop as they seal; the next day, check the jars (a sealed lid will be concave and won’t move when you press down.)
  • If you don’t have canning equipment, you could make a smaller batch of this recipe and eat it within a few days (or freeze half).

Summery Peach Preserves

Yield: Makes about 2.5 to 3 cups of thick preserves

Summery Peach Preserves


  • 2 kg (about 4.5 lbs.) very ripe fruit (yields about 7 cups of chopped fruit)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup homemade liquid pectin or 1 package commercial pectin
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Water (optional)


  1. Use your fingers (and a sharp paring knife to help, if needed) to peel fruit.
  2. Remove cores and roughly chop, cutting off any bruised pieces. Set fruit aside, coating with the lemon juice to prevent browning.
  3. Put fruit, pectin and sugar in a large pot (adding a little water if the mixture looks too dry), breaking the pieces of fruit up with a potato masher.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  5. Cook down until it reaches the consistency you like (anywhere from 30 minutes to more than an hour – because I keep the heat on the conservative side and use very little sugar, I end up with a longer cook time, closer to 1.5 to 2 hours).
  6. Add more pectin and sugar if necessary.

Teriyaki Chicken & Veggies

I’ve always been a fan of teriyaki chicken, that tasty staple of late-night delivery, but the sauce is usually way too sweet, leaving me feeling full of regret and MSG.

So I started making my own simple teriyaki chicken at home. It scratches the takeout itch and makes for awesome leftovers.




I add veggies and serve it over brown rice, so I can feel morally superior as I’m slurping down my salt and sugar sauce (it’s homemade).




Teriyaki Chicken & Veggies

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4-6 servings

Teriyaki Chicken & Veggies


  • Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 T. rice vinegar
  • 1 T. wine, vermouth or mirin
  • 3 T. dark brown sugar
  • 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup water or stock
  • Sriracha (optional)
  • Cornstarch

  • Stir-fry:
  • Vegetable or sesame oil
  • 1 lb. chicken breast or thigh meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 head chopped broccoli
  • 2 cups chopped snap peas
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • Steamed rice


  1. Make the sauce first. Sauté garlic and ginger in oil for 2 minutes.
  2. Add all the other sauce ingredients and bring to a boil; turn the heat to low and cook until the sauce has started to reduce and thicken.
  3. Adjust the flavor, adding a splash of sriracha if you're feeling sassy.
  4. Mix 2-4 T. cold water with an equal amount of cornstarch. Add to sauce and bring to a boil again. Let cook for a few minutes until it reaches the thickness you want. Turn heat off.
  5. Coat chicken in some of the sauce and marinate for 20 minutes.
  6. In a wok or large pan, heat a few T. of oil on medium-high heat.
  7. Add chicken pieces and stir-fry until browned on all sides and nearly cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside.
  8. Add veggies and stir-fry, adding a splash more oil. Stir-fry for 5 minutes, then add ¼ cup of water and steam (covered). Cook till tender, 15-20 minutes, adding more water if it starts to stick.
  9. When veggies are nearly done, add chicken back in. Mix in the sauce.
  10. Serve over steamed rice.

Barcelona Day Trip: Cava Tasting by Train in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (or Cavalandia, as we dubbed it on our last trip there) is a beautiful little town less than an hour by train from Barcelona. It’s full of wineries where they produce cava, the delicious Spanish sparkling wine made using the champagne method.


Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is one of our favorite Barcelona day trips because:

  1. It’s so easy to get to (no DD’s necessary) and involves a day of walking from winery to winery to restaurant to winery
  2. It’s very affordable (full disclosure: my palate is not refined enough to appreciate expensive champagne, and I am very happy with a 5-euro bottle of cava brut nature)
  3. It’s a lot of fun with a group, especially folks visiting from out of town

I recommend calling or emailing wineries a few days in advance to reserve places if you want to take a tour. Or go for the DIY approach and take over a winery’s garden for a barbecue. More details on both methods below.

Barcelona Day Trip: Cava Tasting by Train in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia

How to Get to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia by Train

Take the RENFE suburban train (Rodalies) R4 toward Sant Vicenç de Calders. It stops in Barcelona Sants, Barcelona Plaça Catalunya, Barcelona La Sagrera-Meridiana and Barcelona Arc de Triomf, and you can buy tickets from the machines in the station (less than 9 euros round trip). The train goes directly to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, no transfers, and the journey is about 45 minutes.

There are two trains an hour – but the times listed on the website and the real times trains actually arrive are often a few minutes off in either direction. Just to keep you on your toes. So arrive early to be safe.

You can also buy the Freixetren ticket from the machines at the station, which includes a round-trip train ticket and a tour of the Freixenet winery for 11 euros. If you’re interested in doing this, you still have to reserve a time for the tour on the Freixenet website.

Wineries to Visit in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia

Freixenet and Codorníu are the biggest wineries in the area, and they have a larger international footprint than some of the smaller cellars. Both have good English tours, though you don’t get the personalized experience you have at a smaller producer. Freixenet is definitely the easiest to reach; it’s right next to the train station. Codorníu is a gorgeous property with cool modernist architecture – but it’s not within walking distance, so you’ll have to spring for a cab ride (there are usually taxis in front of the station).


First #grapes of the #harvest

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The other wineries that we’ve visited have all been stellar and within a 15-minute walk of the train station:

Gramona: Make a reservation for the historic cellar (they also have a newer facility in a different location).  The staff is very nice and the tastings are excellent. (We’ve only done this tour in Spanish, and I’m not sure if they offer other languages.)

Solà Raventós: I love, love, love this place. It’s a one-man operation, and the proprietor is so nice and generous with his time (and cava) – showing you the caves, explaining each step of the process and letting you taste a wide selection of cava. We’ve visited twice and will go back again. (Tours in Spanish and Catalan.)


This weekend in the land of cava. More specifically, Solà Raventós.

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Recaredo: We had such a good experience here. We took Brian’s parents when they came to visit, and our guide took tons of time to show us around and let us enjoy a few glasses. (We did this tour in English.)

Where to Eat

Ticus is in the town center, and it has a great menu del día that never disappoints (plus lots of local cavas and wines to try).

DIY BBQ at Cava Jaume Giró i Giró

Cava Giró i Giró is a 12-minute walk from the train station, and it has a big shaded garden surrounded by long wooden tables and barbecues.


Beautiful Sunday for drinking cava and BBQing

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If you call a few days in advance (or perhaps even the day before; they were very patient with the million changes we made to our reservation – and we came with a group of nearly 20), you can reserve space to relax and grill for the day… all while drinking the winery’s chilled cava on demand. The winery provides glasses and wood for the barbecues, but you have to bring everything else you need to cook and eat.


Cava BBQ in the cava region ??????

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It’s one of the best ways to spend a sunny day – and you’ll leave with bellies full of cava and food for around 10 euros a person.

Open every day, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
2.50 euros per person for the space
6.40 euros per bottle of brut nature reserva cava (and a glass each to use)


We are goal-oriented.

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We also saw that the winery across from Cava Giró i Giró – Cava Blancher – has a similar barbecue setup, with interior and exterior tables available on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Guess it’s almost time for another trip out to Cavalandia…


Photo credit

Three Belgian Breweries in Three Belgian Cities (Brussels, Bruges and Ghent)

We just got back from a trip to Belgium, and have been drinking Belgian beer for over a week straight.  We generally plan our itineraries around food and booze, first mapping out where/what we will eat and drink, then we see what kind of historic things we can fit in between. Breweries, distilleries and wineries almost always have top priority.

This trip was of course no exception and Belgian beer has a reputation that needs no explanation, so I’ll cut to the chase. We visited three cities: Brussels, Bruges and Ghent and hit one brewery in each. There are hundreds of breweries in the country, but we selected these three because they were centrally located and easy to get to on foot.

More from Cantillon brewery.

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#1 Cantillon – Brussels

Rue Gheude 56, 1070 Anderlecht, Belgium

Practical Stuff:
Open: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 1000 – 1700
Closed: Wednesdays, Sundays and public holidays
Cost: 7€ (comes with two sample sized beers)
Tour is self-guided and takes about 45 minutes.
More info:

Going to Cantillon is like stepping back in time to see how beer was made 100+ years ago. Here they make Lambics, Gueuzes, Faros and Krieks the old fashion way, literally. Nearly all of the structure and equipment is the original from when it opened in 1900.

The process of milling and mashing the grain is pretty much the same as modern breweries today, but what is truly fascinating about this place is that they rely on spontaneous fermentation to make their beer. That means they do not add yeast, but instead pump their wort to a large shallow tank that is exposed to the ambient air, and wild yeast finds its way to the liquid. They are the only brewery in Brussels still doing it this way.

The beer is then pumped into large oak or chestnut barrels where it is left to ferment for up to three years. Yes, you read that right, three years. The beer can then be bottled or have fruit added, which gives them their kreiks.

Touring Cantillion is really an amazing experience because the place is unlike any brewery you’ve ever been to before. Like all great tours, at the end you get two tasting glasses to drink in the bar area. Even if you don’t feel like doing the tour, you can still buy a bottle and hang out for a drink.

Fair warning though, lambics are not for everyone because they are quite sour/bitter. If that’s not your thing, the tour is still worth seeing.


Ok one more from the half moon brewery in Brugge.

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#2 Brouwerij De Halve Maan (Half Moon Brewery) – Bruges

Walplein 26, Bruges, Belgium

Practical Stuff:
Daily Tours between 1100-1600 in Dutch, English and French. On Saturday Tours available til 1700.
Check their website for times of the tours and to book your reservation.
Cost: 8.50€ (comes with a glass of their Brugse Zot Blond)
Group guided tour takes about 45 minutes and includes lots of stairs.
More info:

Half Moon Brewery in Bruges is set in a beautiful part of a ridiculously picturesque city. Nestled between a cafe-lined plaza and one of the city’s canals, this brewery is half modern and half museum. The brewing kettles were recently upgraded and the bar/restaurant area looks like an upscale brewpub. Taking the tour however, you see the evolution of machinery and equipment that have been used over four generations of brewing.

The tour meanders up and down stairs, through old lofts and between tanks. A brief stop on the roof gives an amazing view of the city, but also make it clear that they have no more room to expand their facilities and production. The solution, our guide explained, is to build a beer pipeline from the brewery to a bottling facility over a kilometer away. That’s right, a beer pipeline.

Beers here were great; they go by two different labels: Brugse Zot (with a blond and a dubbel variety) and Straffe Hendrik (with a tripel and quadrupel variety). You can try them all in the bar/restaurant and get lunch or dinner while you’re at it.


#3 Gentse Gruut – Ghent

Rekelingestraat 5, 9000 Gent (When you look this up by the address on Google maps it puts you on the wrong side of the river. It is directly across from Gravensteen Castle on Rekelingestraat)

Practical Stuff:
Tour by appointment, mainly for groups Check their website to book.
Cost: 9.00€ (8+people) or 10.00€ (less than 8 people). Comes with three tasters.
Tour/tasting can be paired with some small food items.
More info:

Gentse Gruut is super interesting because they do not use hops in their beer, but rather a mix of herbs. This is apparently how beer was made before the days of hops, we’re talking medieval time here. Only one of their five beers has any hops in it, and honestly it was hard to tell which.

To be honest, we did not figure out the tour at this brewery, which recently moved locations. After walking by it several times (see note above about the address on Google maps) we came into what looked like a reception or event hall. There was a bar, tables and chairs, and OH HEY! a very small brewing setup. Given the really small size, it’s impressive the reach this beer has because we saw it all over the city. We certainly could have asked about the tour, but we really just wanted to sit and drink this hop-less beer, which turned out to be SUPER good.

One more interesting fact about this place is that the head brewer/owner is a woman named Annick De Splenter, which is really cool to see in an otherwise dude-dominated industry.


Have you been to any other awesome breweries in Belgium? Let us know because we’ll definitely be doing the pilgrimage again soon!

Vegetarian Chili With Beans & Winter Veggies

People have lots of opinions when it comes to chili. Texas style. New Mexico style. Cincinnati style. Kansas City style. (I’m from California, so I have no real loyalty to any one doctrine.) I love a big hearty bowl of chili when the weather cools down, but until recently, I was convinced that I didn’t much care for vegetarian chili. It seemed like most I tried were just poor imitations of the real deal – more like watery bean soup than something you’d have a cook-off over. But I’ve been trying to make more veggie-rich meals lately, and I’ve made it my mission to put together a vegetarian chili recipe that can stand up to the meat version. vegetarian-chili This is it. It has a good balance of earthy beans and sweet winter veggies, but for me, the success is in its satisfying spice and thickness. A few notes on this, in case the recipe looks annoyingly complicated:

  • I’m a huge fan of Serious Eats’ J. Kenji López-Alt, and I based my blend of dried chiles (and some other ingredients) on his Serious Eats recipe. This approach takes a little more planning and cook time than just throwing in some chili powder, but it makes for a really nice, complex flavor. If you don’t feel like doing this, you can obviously ignore me and use cayenne, chili powder and a couple chipotles in adobo sauce, and it’ll still be pretty darn good.
  • The rest of the ingredients are also flexible and forgiving. Use fewer vegetables or different kinds of beans if you like. Leave out the bourbon or masa harina or whatever you don’t have on hand; as long as you have some beans, veggies, spices, tomato and enough liquid to tie it all together, you win.

Make this for a crowd, and no one will miss the meat.

Vegetarian Chili With Beans & Winter Veggies

Cook Time: 2 hours

Serving Size: 8-10

Vegetarian Chili With Beans & Winter Veggies


  • Chile puree:
  • 2 dried mild to medium chiles (ancho, pasillo, Anaheim or mulato)
  • 2 dried sweet chiles (New Mexico, ñora, choricera or costeño)
  • 2 dried spicy chiles (chipotle or arbol)
  • 2 canned chipotles in adobo (seeds removed)
  • 2 cups water

  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 small red bell peppers, diced
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. + 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 2 cans black beans (liquid reserved)
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans (liquid reserved)
  • 1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 T. tomato paste
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1 T. unsweetened cocoa
  • 2-3 T. bourbon
  • 2 T. masa harina or cornmeal
  • Fixins: sour cream, cilantro, cheese, lime, hot sauce, tortilla chips, etc.


  1. Remove seeds from dried chiles. Saute them without oil in a Dutch oven for about 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Place them in a glass liquid measuring cup; add canned chipotles and 2 cups of water. Microwave for 5 minutes. Puree in a blender or carefully pulse with an immersion blender.
  2. In the Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Saute onion, carrots and bell peppers until they start to get tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in sweet potatoes, squash, beans and tomatoes. Add tomato paste and 1 cup reserved bean liquid. Gradually add chile puree, stirring and tasting for spice. Add soy sauce and cocoa powder, plus more water or bean liquid if mixture is too dry.
  4. Bring to a light boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer, stirring often, for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Add more water or bean liquid during cooking if needed. Stir in the bourbon and the masa or cornmeal. Garnish with your favorite fixins.

La Rovira Brew Bar: Another Awesome Craft Beer Stop in Gràcia

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Last Monday, August 1o, La Rovira opened its doors and taps just in time for Festa Major de Gràcia. Since then, as far as we can tell, they’ve been killing it. One or both of us have been three times since the opening, partly because it’s minutes away from our place, but mainly because they have an incredible selection of craft beers from all over. La Rovira tap line up-traveling to taste La Rovira has 18 beers on tap from craft breweries far and wide and with many, many more in bottles. It’s enough to keep any beer enthusiast busy for a while. They are also serving their own beer called De La Vila, which was made just for the Festa Major. It’s a light session IPA with a citrus and floral nose and a slightly fruity taste with mild bitterness from the hops. Most standard IPAs have an ABV (alcohol by volume) in the 5.0-7.0% range (some are much higher); this one comes in at 4.7%, which means you can drink it all afternoon on a hot summer day and still find your way home.  

We are super pumped to have another great craft beer bar in the neighborhood, and La Rovira joins some other greats along Gràcia’s growing beer route like Chivuo’sCara B, El Col-leccionista, Catalluna and La Cervesera Artesana (and if you’re a homebrewer, there is Family Beer).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to head back over to finish the rest of the 18 beers. See you there. Cheers.

La Rovira Brew Bar
Carrer de Rabassa, 23,
08024 Barcelona
+34 691 20 24 10
Metro:  Joanic I (L4/yellow line)

Ultra-Processed Foods Are Making Us Fat and Unhealthy

In a previous post, I talked about what inspired me to do my thesis on food and cooking.  Now that it’s done and turned in, I thought I’d adapt some portions of my writing and focus on them here. One of the first, and most significant topics when talking about our food, is that of food processing. 

Scientists, doctors, nutritionists and health organizations all acknowledge that the production and consumption of processed food and drinks are important causes in the current pandemic of obesity and related chronic diseases.1

As food writer Michael Pollan so eloquently puts it, big food corporations “cook very differently from how people do (which is why we usually call what they do ‘food processing’ instead of cooking). They tend to use much more sugar, fat and salt than people cooking for people do; they also deploy novel chemical ingredients seldom found in pantries in order to make their food last longer and look fresher that it really is”.2

These novel techniques and ingredients, along with excessive amounts of sugar, fat and salt, create a diet that health professionals describe as “intrinsically nutritionally unbalanced and intrinsically harmful to health”.3

Shall I go on? OK, I will…

Carlos A. Monteiro, Director of the Center for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition at the University of Sao Paulo, proposes that the amount of processing our food undergoes is what determines how healthy or unhealthy it will be, not the food itself, nor its nutrient parts.

Across the globe, government food recommendations do not recognize this difference, and as a result, food like whole fresh fruit, fruit canned in sugary syrup and reconstituted sugary fruit beverages all get classified as “fruit”.4

Side note: A 2010 study found that the diets of nearly the entire US population did not fall within federal dietary recommendations. So, even with sugary fruit beverages being classified as fruits, we still do not meet the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables.

Monteiro argues that most food today has some degree of processing and that there is little use in classifying food into only processed and unprocessed groups. Instead, he proposes three levels to describe the drastic differences in processing that occur between, for instance, pre-washed fruit and a gummy fruit snack.

The three categories are:

Group 1: Unprocessed and minimally processed foods:
No processing, or mostly physical processes used to make single whole foods more durable, accessible, convenient, palatable or safe.
Group 2: Processed culinary or food industry ingredients:
Extraction and purification of components of single whole foods, resulting in producing ingredients used in the preparation and cooking of dishes and meals made from Group 1 foods in homes and traditional restaurants, or else in the formulation by manufacturers of Group 3 foods.
Group 3: Ultra-processed food products:
Processing of a mix of Group 2 ingredients and Group 1 foodstuffs in order to create durable, accessible, convenient, and palatable ready-to-eat or to-heat food products liable to be consumed as snacks or desserts or replace home-prepared dishes.

The groups are described more thoroughly below (from Monteiro’s research) but it’s easy to see that foods like cookies, snacks, pre-prepared meals, processed meat like chicken nuggets and burgers all belong in Group 3.6

Montiero- food classifications
From “Food classifications based on the extent and purpose of industrial processing”. by C. Monteiro, 2010, Cadernos de saude publia, 26, p. 2042. Copyright 2010 by Carlos Monteiro.


He does not propose that healthy diets are made up of entirely unprocessed/minimally processed foods, but rather a healthy balance of the three groups.

The problem is, that across countries like Brazil, the UK and the US, we seem to completely lack the ability to maintain this balance.

In Brazil, ultra-processed (Group 3) foods made up 20% of consumed calories. As income increased, so too did the presence of these ultra-processed foods. In the households with the highest income, nearly one-third of all calories came from ultra-processed foods.7

In the UK, ultra-processed foods made up 45% caloric intake.8

In the United States, the five most commonly consumed foods were all considered Group 3 foods: sodas, cakes and pastries, burgers, pizza and potato chips. These five foods alone made up 20% of the total calories consumed in the United States.9

A similar study in Canada showed that 61.7% of dietary energy consumed came from ultra-processed foods and that 80% of the Canadian population had diets consisting of more than 50% of ultra-processed foods in terms of caloric intake.10

Yeah? So what does that mean?

Monteiro’s claim that the act of processing food is a culprit in our rapid decline in health is being confirmed more specifically in subsequent studies. One recent study showed a link between two commonly used emulsifiers and the development of metabolic syndrome and low-grade inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract of mice.11

Emulsifiers can be found in nearly all processed food and are used to prevent ingredients like fats and oils from separating. They go by many names, but some of the common ones are: polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols and xanthan gum. The “metabolic syndrome” that these items are linked to is a term used to describe a group of risk factors, including high levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar, as well as obesity. Someone with metabolic syndrome is more likely to develop more serious health issues like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and strokes.12

The addition of emulsifiers is by no means the only cause of obesity, but the inflammation that it causes in the gastrointestinal tract appears to interfere with the feeling of “being full” while eating.13 Not feeling full often leads to overeating and, in turn, the development of more fat.

So what can I do about it?

Simple! First, decrease, limit and/or eliminate ultra-processed foods from what you eat. It has clear benefits in preventing disease and promoting general well being, Monteiro says.14

Second, even with the downward trend of cooking, more than two-thirds of caloric intake for adults in the US still occurs in the home.15 Therefore, the most good can be done by focusing on food and meals we consume at home.

I think these point to a clear path forward: cut down on processed foods by cooking more at home. It is one of the easiest daily acts we can do to improve our health.

Numerous studies have the same conclusion, one even suggesting that, “Efforts to boost the healthfulness of the US diet should focus on promoting the preparation of healthy foods at home while incorporating limits on time available for cooking”.16

An increase in cooking at home has been shown to relate directly to a decrease in Body Mass Index (BMI),17 and lower BMI decreases the risk other health issues like diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease and many types of cancer.18

So what are you waiting for? Put down the fast food and the pre-packaged meals and make your next meal from simple, fresh ingredients.

If you want to read my Masters Thesis in its entirety, you can download it in the Download section. You can also see a shorter slide show here. Enjoy!


1,3,4,14 Monteiro, C. A. (2009). Nutrition and health. The issue is not food, nor nutrients, so much as processing. Public health nutrition, 12(05), 729-731.

2 Pollan, M. (2013). Cooked: A natural history of transformation. Penguin UK.

5,15,16 Smith, S. M. K., Guenther, P. M., Subar, A. F., Kirkpatrick, S. I., & Dodd, K. W. (2010). Americans do not meet federal dietary recommendations. The Journal of nutrition, jn-110.

6,7,8,9 Monteiro, C. A., Levy, R. B., Claro, R. M., Castro, I. R. R. D., & Cannon, G. (2010). A new classification of foods based on the extent and purpose of their processing. Cadernos de saude publica, 26(11), 2039-2049.

10 Moubarac, J. C., Martins, A. P. B., Claro, R. M., Levy, R. B., Cannon, G., & Monteiro, C. A. (2013). Consumption of ultra-processed foods and likely impact on human health. Evidence from Canada. Public health nutrition, 16(12), 2240-2248.

11 Chassaing, B., Koren, O., Goodrich, J., Poole, A., Srinivasan, S., Ley, R., & Gewirtz, A. (2015). Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome. Nature, doi:10.1038/nature14232

12,13 Grossman, E. (2015, February 25). How Emulsifiers Are Messing with Out Guts (and Making Us Fat).

17 Kolodinsky, J. M., & Goldstein, A. B. (2011). Time use and food pattern influences on obesity. Obesity, 19(12), 2327-2335.

18 Willett, W. C., Koplan, J. P., Nugent, R., Dusenbury, C., Puska, P., & Gaziano, T. A. (2006). Prevention of chronic disease by means of diet and lifestyle changes.

Beets and Pasta (courtesy of Mark Bittman)

We love our CSA. Every Tuesday we get a basket full of produce, and most of it we know how to cook. Some other items require a bit of research, and some of it I’ve never even heard of (I’m looking at you kohlrabi).

I’ve written about beets beets beets before, but they showed up again in our basket this week and I had to take to the interwebs to figure out something new to do with them.

Thankfully Mark Bittman was one step ahead of us with this recipe on the New York Times Cooking site. It’s quick, easy, delicious and totally different from any pasta I’ve made before.

The recipe is roughly this: 1) grate beets 2) cook in butter 3) add sage, cooked pasta and cheese. That’s it!

beet pasta


Grating the beets definitely speeds up their cook time as compared to baking them whole, and the butter and sage give a really rich flavor without investing a lot of time. Also, visually it’s just a beautiful dish.

Fingers crossed that some beets will turn up in our basket this week so we can make this again!

10 Barcelona Craft Beer Bars & Breweries

One of the many things I love about Barcelona is how vibrant its craft beer scene is. We have made it our mission to visit all the craft beer bars and breweries in the city (and eventually in Catalunya), but it’s tough when there are new spots opening all the time. No one said it was gonna be easy.

So consider this a first installment in an ongoing series on craft beer in Barcelona. Here are some of the fantastic places we’ve fallen in love with so far.


Craft Beer in Barcelona

1. Edge Brewing

Edge Brewing is an American craft brewery located in Poblenou – a cool warehouse district near the water that isn’t yet teeming with people. Two Americans, Alan and Scott, started the brewery in 2013, and I love everything about it. The beers are excellent and diverse (I’m partial to the Hoptimista IPA and the Padrino porter), the people are super friendly and knowledgeable, the space is open and welcoming.

For the last year, we’ve been going frequently to their “open doors” events on Friday nights – where you can buy a pint or two and eat food provided by local vendors. Sadly, they recently stopped doing these events, but they are now offering Saturday tours and tastings and private tours by reservation.

Edge Brewing
Carrer de Llull 62
08005 Barcelona
Metro : Bogatell (L4/yellow line)

Tour & Tasting
12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
€15 (cash)
Reserve in advance

Edge Brewing
Edge Brewing

2. Chivuo’s

Chivuo’s is an awesome street food and craft beer bar close to our apartment in Gràcia, and it takes all of my willpower not to stop in every time I walk by. Juan and Ale, the Venezuelan proprietors, are wonderful and take great care to offer a well-curated list of craft beers (10 rotating selections on tap) and excellent food.

There are only a few items on the food menu – hamburger, pulled pork sandwich, tuna melt, chicken sandwich, Philly cheesesteak, a few varieties of fries and patatas bravas – but everything from the buns to the BBQ sauce is homemade and delicious. The pulled pork and hamburger in particular are to die for. It’s a small place with a few tables and seating at the bar, so I like to go in the afternoon or early evening before it gets too busy. (They also have free Wi-Fi, but your productivity will probably plummet after a couple pints…)

Carrer del Torrent de l’Olla 175
08012 Barcelona
+34 932 185 134
Metro: Fontana (L3/green line)

Monday – Friday: 1:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Saturday: 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Sunday: Closed


3. BlackLab Brewhouse

BlackLab just opened its doors in a beautiful space in Barceloneta, after several months of hosting smaller beer events around the city. I’m already looking forward to the summer when we can take advantage of its big outdoor tables. BlackLab is pretty much the brewpub I wish I had started. It was founded by Jing and Yuan, Galicians of Chinese origin, and Matt, an American, and it has a solid beer list (from BlackLab and other breweries) and excellent Asian-American food. The pork belly buns are insane. As is everything else we’ve tried.

BlackLab Brewhouse
Plaça Pau Vila 1-5
08039 Barcelona
+34 93 22 18 360
Metro: Barceloneta (L4/yellow line)

Monday – Thursday: 12:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Friday & Saturday: 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Sunday: 12:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

4. Garage Beer

Garage is brand new, and we had the good fortune to check it out the day after it opened a few months ago. Since then, it’s been blowing up – hosting cool food and design events, experimenting with tasty new beers and being a generally cool spot to hang out.

Garage Beer Co.
Carrer Consell de Cent 261
08011 Barcelona
+34 93 52 85 989
Metro: Universitat (L1/red line)

Monday – Thursday: 5:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Friday & Saturday: 5:00 pm – 2:30 am
Sunday: 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Garage Beer
Garage Beer

5. Ale&Hop

Ale&Hop is a small bar in El Born with an impressive selection of beers from all over the world – on tap and bottled. As one of Barcelona’s well-known craft beer bars, it gets crowded, especially late and on weekends, but it’s worth checking out. We haven’t tried their food yet, but they serve pintxos on Thursday nights and brunch on the weekends.

Basses de Sant Pere 10 bis
08003 Barcelona
+ 34 93 12 69 094
Metro: Arc de Triomf (L1/red line), Jaume I (L4/yellow line)

Monday – Wednesday: 5:00 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.
Thursday: 5:00 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.
Friday: 5:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.
Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.

6. Cerveseria La Més Petita

As the name implies, La Més Petita is teeny tiny, but it boasts a massive chalkboard of beers on tap. Throw some ‘bows, find a spot and make some new friends while you drink.

Cerveseria la Més Petita
Carrer de la Diputació, 30
08015 Barcelona
+34 628 11 67 84
Metro: Rocafort (L1/red line)

Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Thursday: 6:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Friday: 6:00 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.
Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. / 7:00 p.m. – 2:30 a.m.
Sunday: 12:00 – 2:30 p.m.

7. HomoSibaris

Alan and some of the other good people from Edge Brewing were kind enough to let us tag along to HomoSibaris one night after a BlackLab event at La Més Petita (if that gives you an idea of the fun craft beer scene here). It’s tucked away in a cute little plaza in Sants with eight beers on tap, specializing in those that are unfiltered and unpasteurized, and a small tapas menu.

Plaça Osca 4
08014 Barcelona
+ 34 93 18 56 693
Metro: Plaça de Sants (L1/red line, L5/blue line)

Monday – Thursday: 5:30 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Friday – Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.


8. La Cerveteca

La Cerveteca, a cozy little bar in El Barri Gòtic, offers a diverse list of craft beers – many of which I hadn’t tried before.

La Cerveteca
Carrer Gignas 25
08002 Barcelona, Spain
+34 93 31 50 407
Metro: Jaume I or Barceloneta (L4/yellow line), Drassanes (L3/green line)

Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Thursday: 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 pm
Friday & Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m./ 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

9. Bar Mingus

I’m not sure if we ever would have found this place if it hadn’t been for our friend Matthias, a German beer fanatic. It’s a funky little gem in the Gòtic decorated more like a California surf bar than a craft beer bar. It’s open late and a welcome relief from some of the tourist traps in the neighborhood; but most importantly, it has an excellent selection of international craft beers.

Bar Mingus
Carrer Ataulf 6
08002 Barcelona

+ 34 63 09 01 690
Metro: Jaume I (L4/yellow line)

Monday – Wednesday: 7:30 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. 
Thursday: 7:30 p.m. – 2:30 a.m. 
Friday & Saturday: 7:30 p.m. – 3:00 a.m.
Sunday: Closed

Bar Mingus
Bar Mingus

10. BrewDog Bar Barcelona

The cool kids from Scotland’s BrewDog just opened their newest bar here in Barcelona, and it just happens to be a block away from Garage. Grab a seat at the bar for a pint and tapas, or reserve one of the bigger tables to have dinner and beers with friends.

BrewDog Bar Barcelona
Carrer Casanova 69
08011 Barcelona
+34 93 48 85 979
Metro: Universitat (L1/red line)

Every day: 12 p.m. – 12 a.m.