First Look at True Food Kitchen, A Restaurant Based on Dr. Andrew Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet

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Photo by Mai Pham
Heirloom tomato and watermelon salad -- just beautiful, at True Food Kitchen.
It's sad, but true: When you think of the "healthy" food options available in Houston today, there aren't many exciting options that come to mind. Enter True Food Kitchen, the Phoenix-based chain that is poised to take the nation by storm (they currently have eight open locations; Houston will be the ninth). Founded in partnership with Tuscon-based physician, professor, and holistic health guru Dr. Andrew Weil, the restaurant menu was created based on the tenets of Weil's anti-inflammatory diet.

This is where True Food Kitchen excels: Where many "healthy"-type food restaurants fall short in the taste department, True Food Kitchen's food is fresh, visually appealing, ample-portioned, and tastes fantastic. In other words, not only will you want to eat what's presented in front of you, but you'll enjoy eating it and leave feeling satisfied.

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Influential California Chef Judy Rodgers Leaves Behind a Legacy of Simple Perfection

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Photo courtesy Kathi Riley
California chefs at Zuni Café in the 1980s. Left to right: Kathi Riley, Judy Rodgers and James Beard. Marion Cunningham is at the head of the table.
People who knew Judy Rodgers called her a fighter and a force of nature, so much of the California Bay Area food scene was shocked and saddened to learn that the 57-year-old had succumbed to a rare form of cancer on Monday, December 2. Rodgers is often mentioned in the same breath as Alice Waters and Thomas Keller for her work at the now famous Zuni Café, which, along with places like Chez Panisse and La Brea Bread, helped turn the Bay Area into a restaurant destination.

Rodgers, a St. Louis native, fell into the culinary world somewhat by accident when she spent a year studying abroad in France as a teenager. The family with whom she stayed happened to own the Michelin-starred restaurant Les Frères Troisgros (today called Maison Troisgros), so Rodgers spent much of her free time in the kitchen copying down family recipes.


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Juice: It's What's for Dinner, But Is It as Good as an Actual Meal?

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Photo by the dabblist
Chewing is sooooo last year.
As usual, some people think Houston is a little behind the times.

Juice bars -- as in restaurants/cafes/bars that serve only fresh squeezed juice -- have been a mainstay of New York and Los Angeles dining culture for years now. With the recent opening of several new juice bars in Houston, it seems the Bayou City is finally hip to the trend.

"I moved down here from the East Coast, and I feel like everywhere but Houston there are juice bars on every corner," says Becki O'Brien, the owner of Houston's newest juice purveyor, Big & Juicy Juice Bar, located inside Big Yoga Houston. "You go to New York, and there's a juice bar everywhere you go. I moved to Houston, and I was so shocked. Even most of the places we do have aren't organic. It's a huge trend in other cities, and Houston is finally catching on."

Still, one has to wonder if juice is simply a trend or if it really is a healthy meal alternative. What's the benefit of drinking juice over, say, eating a salad or munching on an apple? Is one cup of juice really worth what most juice bars charge? Can you drink juice instead of eating a meal and call it dinner?

We chatted with both juice purveyors and nutritionists to find out the real deal behind the juicing up of Houston.


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Vietnamese, Ice Cream & Pizza: One Perfect Day in San Francisco

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Recently, I spent two blissful days in Napa Valley, which I chronicled here and here. It was hard to leave places like Bouchon Bakery, Bottega and about a million wineries behind, but I had another sunshiney (slash really foggy) day in San Francisco to look forward to before we headed to visit friends in Orange County for the weekend (life is tough).

With way less than 24 hours to explore the city (5 a.m. flights out of SFA are fun!), we hit the ground running upon our arrival.

And since it was lunchtime, we headed to San Francisco's best un-kept secret: downtown's historic, 245-foot clock tower-topped Ferry Building. You would never know that inside the Bay Area's main ferry terminal lies a bustling indoor marketplace.

Housed in the gorgeous, European-style building's former baggage area is an expansive, open hallway flanked by shops and carts featuring local goods, top-notch produce and butcher markets, and some of the city's best casual dining spots and upscale restaurants.

I felt like a kid in the candy store, wanting to take it all in. But first things first; we were hungry.

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Nutritional Value of Organic Food Challenged by Stanford University Study

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Katharine Shilcutt
A new study conducted by Stanford University researchers suggests that organic food may not be as nutritious as many believe it to be.
A recently released Stanford University study, which reviewed and analyzed more than 200 previously conducted studies comparing the health effects of organic and conventional foods, suggests that organic food may not be a shining star in the department of nutritional value. The study's findings, in a nutshell: There is little difference between the health benefits of organic and non-organic foods -- organic foods are not necessarily more nutritious, and they don't necessarily carry fewer health risks than conventional alternatives. Additionally, although organic produce has a 30 percent lower risk of pesticide contamination than conventional fruits and vegetables, organic foods are not necessarily 100 percent free of pesticides.

Yikes. That's a lot to take in. For years now, organic food has been surrounded by a golden halo that makes it shine brighter than all other categories of food. Within hours of the release of Stanford University's study, both media and consumers alike were abuzz on this hot topic -- could it really be that organic products, which often cost two to three times more than their conventionally grown counterparts, fall so short?

It really depends on how you look at it.

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