Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Resolution #5: It's All In the Timing

What's even more confusing than the research flip-flopping every decade or so on whether it's okay to eat buttered toast or not? Recent findings indicate that you really need to pay attention to the time of day to determine what to eat.

Yup. One more thing to think about. But the good news is, Resolution #5 is pretty easy to incorporate. You just have to remember two little rules about timing:


1. The morning is the best time for protein and carbs. Go low-carb for the rest of the day.
2. ...Unless you work out. You have up to an hour after a hard workout (the "golden hour") to refuel your body with carbohydrates and protein.

The reasoning behind these rules is simple.

While you're sleeping, you're fasting. Carbohydrates at breakfast deliver glucose to your bloodstream, starting up your brain and muscles. If you eat a big breakfast, you're going to give your body what it needs to perform better mentally and physically (and you might even lose weight). Carbs eaten later in the day are more likely to be processed to make fat.

A few good carb + protein breakfast options:
  • Beans on Toast
  • Poached Eggs & Toast Points
  • Yogurt & Granola
  • La Crepe Complete
  • Spinach Omelette and Whole-Grain Toast
  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich
  • Cottage Cheese & Sliced Fruit
  • After a hard workout, your muscles need to rehydrate, regain their glycogen stores and repair damage. During the "golden hour" after a sweaty workout, you can eat the simple carbohydrates (like bananas) that you should normally avoid, because your body processes them differently. Eating enough carbs (and some protein) immediately after a workout will help you feel stronger the next day. Some research recommends chocolate milk.

    Here's a more elaborate version of chocolate milk that J sometimes gets post-workout at a local juice bar. Just the thing to dream of while you're on the last, most difficult stretch of your exertions...
    Bulldozer Smoothie
    1/2 banana
    1-2 Tbsp peanut butter
    1 scoop chocolate whey protein
    (or 1 scoop regular whey protein + 1 tsp cocoa powder)
    1 cup milk or soymilk
    2 ice cubes

    1. Combine banana, peanut butter, protein powder, milk/soymilk and ice in a blender.
    2. Blend until smooth, pour into a glass and serve immediately.
    And you'll find more recovery-ready smoothie variations here .

    So that's it for wellness resolutions this year:
    1. Better Brown Bagging
    2. Rearrange the Plate
    3. Get Cultured
    4. Keep it Low & Slow
    ...aaand #5: It's All in the Timing

    Know a great one you think I've missed? Working on something worth sharing? Spill the beans in the comments.

    To our health!
    Miss Ginsu

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    Resolution #4: Keep it Low & Slow

    I've learned a lot about healthful eating recently from J, who's interested in the topic for the sake of intellectual curiosity and athletic performance and also my brother Dan, who was diagnosed with diabetes last year.

    The most interesting thing I've learned is that although their goals are different, their methods are almost identical.

    Even though J wants to maximize his performance and Dan is looking to stay healthy, they've both adopted the same philosophy on diet and exercise.

    It mostly boils down to regular, vigorous exercise combined with careful monitoring of the glycemic index (GI) measure for the foods they eat.

    Happy Tummy

    Now, since I've never been on the South Beach Diet (which apparently relies heavily upon monitoring foods' GI), I missed out on the whole glycemic index bandwagon. It goes like this:

    Glucose is simple sugar. When you eat a low GI food (eggs, meat, fish, beans, nuts, most vegetables), glucose is released into your bloodstream slowly and steadily. You need a little to keep your muscles working and your brain happy.

    But when you eat high GI foods (sugar, white bread, baked potatoes, corn flakes) your blood sugar spikes and then crashes.

    You've probably actually felt your blood sugar spike. It's the "sugar crash" after you eat a piece of cake or the "I need to nap" feeling you get after devouring a big plate of pasta.

    Day after day, year after year, all that spiking and crashing can wear out your organs, fatten you up and even make you depressed.

    That's why my Resolution #4 this year is: Keep it Low (the GI) and Slow (the digestion)

    South Beach has a chart of where foods' glycemic index registers (high-medium-low) and there's another printable table over here at Diabetesnet.

    You'll notice that things like potatoes vary greatly depending on how they're cooked (the slow temperature increase of baking tends to convert more of the vegetable's starches to sugar), but it's generally a good bet to fill your weekly shopping list with foods that rate a GI of 55 or less.

    Compose your meals and snacks around:
  • Fish & Meat
  • Eggs & Dairy
  • Beans
  • Most Fruits (except for bananas, dates and watermelon)
  • Most Vegetables (except for potatoes & parsnips)
  • Whole grains

  • High fiber is good. Whole foods are good. Junkfood is evil. Looks kind of like what you should be eating anyway, right? No revelations there.

    The one major problem with eating this way is that it tends to be more expensive.

    All those cheap extenders (rice, pasta, potatoes bread, croutons and the like) tend to be high glycemic index foods. And restaurants just love to fill you up with extenders. Full customers are happy customers.

    That said, good old fashioned beans, oatmeal, apples, soy, barley and a bunch of other inexpensive ingredients are still low, slow and ready to go.

    With that in mind, why not ditch the breakfast cereal and start tomorrow morning with a bowl of yogurt or some oatmeal? Top it with chopped apples and cinnamon... or currants and walnuts, depending on how you're feeling. Happy pancreas, happy liver, happy belly, happy you.

    Just one more resolution tomorrow and that'll cap off the week.

    To our health!
    Miss Ginsu

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    FoodLink Roundup: 09.29.08

    Cupcake's Link Roundup
    Last week, Cupcake was located among the pumpkins in Red Hook Farm, Brooklyn. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post your guess in the comments.

    Kick off Rosh Hashanah with Sephardic savories
    Sephardic treats for the New Year holiday.

    Ancient Yeast Reborn in Modern Beer
    Best thing to come out of amber since the velociraptors in Jurassic Park.

    An Urban Farmer Is Rewarded for His Dream
    How refreshing it is to read some good news this week...

    What the 21st Century Will Taste Like
    Chef David Chang has an epiphany about a diet for a smaller planet. Once again, old ideas become new realizations.

    Mediterranean Diet Declines, and Weights Rise
    An increasingly "American-style" diet produces a generation of tubby Greek kids. So sad!

    T. rex's closest living relative found on the farm
    Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

    New food links — and another postcard from Cupcake — every Monday morning on missginsu.com

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    FoodLink Roundup: 03.31.08

    Link Roundup
    Last week, Cupcake was dining at the Minnesota State Fair. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Think you know? Post it in the comments.

    What Was Lost
    A long-lost French grape is rediscovered 150 years later in a far-away land under an assumed name. Danger! Intrigue! (via WineHazard.com)

    Italy roiled by a cheese scare
    Not the cheese, Gromit!

    Diet pill’s icky side effects keep users honest
    So it's come to this...

    TeaMap: Tea Room Directory
    Looking for tea while you roam? Look no further!

    Skipping Breakfast and Packing on Pounds
    More research news that really should come as no surprise: brekkie is the most important meal of the day.

    Ten Tastiest Food Photography Tips
    This piece presents really silly copy, but the tips are good advice whether you're a full-on food blogger or just a food fanatic.

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    FoodLink Roundup: 03.24.08

    Link Roundup
    Last week, Cupcake was romping in Barcelona, España (Yes, Mr. Hazard, you were right on with Spain!) Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Think you know? Post it in the comments.

    The Fat Pack Wonders if the Party’s Over
    Fellow NYC food blogger Jason Perlow gets diabetes, drops off the pounds and challenges the culture of excess embodied by some food media heavies.

    The Myth of Food Miles
    A backlash against the UK locavore movement. "The concept of food miles is unhelpful and stupid. It doesn't inform about anything except the distance travelled..."

    Putting Dunkin' Donuts Coffee to the Test
    I'd always suspected it was a viral marketing scheme (or perhaps an alien brain wave device?) that managed to convince a nation of Dunkin' Donuts coffee superiority.

    The Turnip That Stirred Panic
    “I’m now on constant alert against this and other rooted vegetables,” GiaQuinta said. Hilarious.

    Leaving Behind the Trucker Hat
    It's like a headline from The Onion: American Youth Flee Hip Urban 'Hoods for Country Backwaters.

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    FoodLink Roundup: 03.10.08

    Cupcake Roundup
    Last week, Cupcake was romping through Sabino Canyon near Tucson, Arizona. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Post in the comments if you think you know...

    The Psychology Of Commerce
    A quick lesson in commodity exchange... demonstrated with the aid of vegetables and chickens.

    Free the Grapes!
    Wine lovers unite to do battle against the evil forces of distribution blue laws (via WineHazard)

    A Brief History of Chocolate
    "Who would have thought, looking at this, that you can eat it?"

    Self-control consumes real energy
    Why your deprivation dieting plans fail every time...

    Thomas Heatherwick East Beach Cafe
    The most expensive chippy you've ever seen. Hope those chips are tasty.

    Coffee Prices Skyrocket
    Horrors! Time to stockpile those vacuum packs.

    Chinese Food: America's National Cuisine
    Exploring the march of the ubiquitous "Chinese" restaurant across America.

    Make Coca-Cola at home
    DIY Coke... A great skill to have after the apocalypse.

    Honibe Honey Drop
    Solid honey drops. A nifty innovation for tea-drinking travelers. (via
    The Food Section)

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    FoodLink Roundup: 03.03.08

    Cupcake Goes Western
    Where in the world is Cupcake? Post in the comments if you think you know...

    Recent interesting food news found roaming out there on the world wild web:

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    Diet & Exercise, Circa 1900

    By now, I think most of us who pay attention to food trends know Michael Pollan's succinct mantra, as stated in the New York Times last year: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

    This weekend, J ran across a little gem on Google's online and out-of-copyright book collection that reminded me of Pollan's levelheaded, simply stated health advice.

    It's a book on training by a boxer who was perhaps the biggest badass of the late 19th Century: Robert Fitzsimmons, AKA The Freckled Wonder.

    Though the word choices are antiquated, I love how well his simple statements have held up over time. A few updates to the prose and Fitzsimmons could be addressing the denizens of cubicle-land today...

    Rock Climbing in Central Park


    A Simple Diet and Easy Indoor Exercise

    HERE is some advice for the business man, the lawyer, doctor, broker, clerk, salesman: any man, in fact, who is kept indoors much of the time.

    Most men of this class take on weight. They become big and fat: uncomfortably so.

    This advice will show them how they can keep in fairly good trim, notwithstanding the fact that they have practically no available time at their disposal for exercise of any description.

    Take the business man who, having reached middle age, is beginning to get stout. Owing to this increase in weight he begins to have aches and pains. His muscles are not trained to support the extra weight which he is taking on.

    Here is your diet, and you must adhere to it if you want to obtain proper results.

    Abstain from the use of all fatty and starchy food. Eat all kinds of meat except pork. Eat all varieties of green vegetables, fruits, and dry toast, and drink your tea without sugar. Do not eat potatoes, butter, fresh bread, or sugar.

    Years before the Atkins plan or modern nutritional research, Fitzsimmons' advice sounds a little South Beach Diet-y, doesn't it? As my mum says, "There's nothing new under the sun..."

    At this point The Freckled Wonder prescribes a daily regimen consisting of two exercises to be done in both the morning and evening: paired leg lifts (20 reps) and basic push-ups (ten reps).

    My favorite part of this chapter is what comes next: A smart little pep-talk on the power of persistence.
    Above all things you must be regular, and do not look for too speedy results.

    You cannot hope to stick to this diet and these exercises for two or three mornings and then jump on the scales and find that you have dropped five or ten pounds.

    It will be at least two or three weeks before you commence to lose weight. Then you will drop from two to five pounds a week.

    You must impress it upon your mind, how ever, that there must be no weakening on the tasks that you have laid down for yourself.

    Some cold mornings you will get up, possibly after a hard night, feeling languid and unrefreshed. Instead of taking your cold bath, rub down, and exercises, you may be tempted to say, "Oh! I’ll just skip it this once, and jump into my clothes."

    Such weakness is fatal. Persevere!

    Yes, dear readers! January resolutions may, by now, have smashed to bits upon the rocks of passing weeks, and a sodden February lull may have taken up their place in your mind, but Perservere! You, too, will find your way to successful harbors.

    In the same way that Michael Pollan slimmed down his voluminous dining advice for easy consumption, Fitzsimmons can probably be trimmed thusly:

    Avoid simple carbohydrates. Do basic calisthenics daily. Keep at it.

    Good advice in 1901. Good advice more than a century later.

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    Dear Miss Ginsu: Why All the Different Salts?

    Dear Miss Ginsu,

    I'm confused. What's the difference between sea salt, kosher salt and iodized salt? Are any of these salts better for a salt-reduced diet? And why do some recipes have unsalted butter?

    — Brine on the Brain

    Dear Briny,

    That's a lot of questions! Let's number them as we go along...

    1. What's the difference between all the salts on the market?

    All three are variations on the same compound: sodium chloride. The difference between these salts is found in the flavor (from trace minerals) and the crystal size (from the manufacturing method).

    The salt we use in kitchens comes in in several crystal sizes, from very fine (almost powdery salt used for popcorn); to fine-grain or granulated salt (like table salt); kosher salt (flaky, larger crystals); and coarse (the crystal size you see on pretzels). There's also rock salt, but that's only really used for making homemade ice cream and thawing your sidewalk, as far as I know.

    Iodized salt is generally a table salt, which has a small crystal size that's meant to slip out of your shaker with ease. When compared directly with non-iodized salt, iodized salt will have a slightly bitter taste. It also makes your pickles go dark if you're doing cucumber pickling. Iodine was included for reasons of public health and not for culinary artistry, and that's why the top chefs never use iodized salt.

    Chefs sometimes use sea salt because it has additional minerals that give it subtle flavors (and sometimes pretty pastel colors). These other minerals tag along when the salt is harvested from the saltflats in one of a handful of exotic areas around the globe. The very expensive sea salts should only be used as a sprinkled garnish, because the delicate flavors would be overpowered in most dishes.

    For everyday kitchen use, I find that chefs generally prefer kosher salt, which has larger, flake-like crystals that make it easy to pinch, measure and sprinkle in a dish.

    As a side note, you shouldn't measure out table salt (iodized or not) in a dish that calls for kosher salt. Because kosher salt crystals are larger, you'll use too much salt in the recipe if you substitute table salt.

    Table salt's very small crystals actually fit together tighter in the teaspoon than kosher crystals, which leave some space. So you end up salting more than you'd reckoned on, and the dish can be too salty.

    In short, it's most efficient to use a table salt (iodized or not) in your shaker, kosher salt for cooking, salting meats, etc., and sea salt for extra-fancy garnish.

    2. Are any of these salts better for a salt-reduced diet?

    Technically, no. But you might end up using less salt in a dish if you're using kosher salt, because it's easier to control.

    Those "lite salt" mixtures are usually potassium chloride mixed with the standard sodium chloride. I personally feel that fresh herbs and spices, vinegars and citrus juices are better flavoring options for salt-restricted diets.

    3. Why do some recipes have unsalted butter?

    Again, that's about controlling the flavor of a dish. If you're using unsalted butter, you're responsible for how much salt you want to add, not Land o'Lakes or Hotel Bar.

    Long ago, salt was added to butter as a preservative, but thanks to modern shipping and refrigeration, that's not generally necessary these days.

    Incidentally, the salt level in a stick of butter varies from one dairy to another, so it's difficult to put a firm teaspoon amount on how much salt you're getting in a stick.

    Hope that helps!

    Miss Ginsu

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