Healthy snacks in disguise

I am a big advocate of eating right. I participate in the No-Corn-Syrup Diet. To this end, I’m always really frustrated when marketing gets in the way of people making the right decision. Take for instance the 100 Calorie Pack by Nabisco, which come with the following message:

Sweet, salty, crunchy, chewy, creamy — what kind of snack are you craving? 100 Calorie Packs come in all of your favorites from Oreo to Wheat Thins. Now you can indulge and still know that you’re making the right choice!

Instead of optimizing for nutritional components (calories, fat, carbs, etc., etc.), I eat the snacks that I understand. My gym sells Sahale Snacks, little tasty nut blends that are high in fat, and contain tons of calories. One of my favorite varieties is the Ksar blend which is comprised of:

Pistachio nuts, pumpkin seeds, dried figs, sesame seeds, organic evaporated cane juice, organic tapioca syrup, sea salt, organic honey

I know what each of those ingredients is! A company that takes this even further is Larabar, which I also eat quite regularly. Here are the ingredients for a few of their snack bars:

  • Pistachio Bar: dates, pistachios, cashews
  • Banana Cookie: almonds, dates, unsweetened bananas
  • Pecan Pie: dates, pecans, almonds
  • Cocoa Mole: dates, almonds, walnuts, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, chile

Like other simple snacks, they don’t fare well with the nutrition information scrutinizer: high in calories, high in fat. I think they’re pretty tasty, and they really satiate my hunger in a way that processed foods don’t seem to. Maybe there’s some fancy science behind my intuition, but I’m willing to believe in the gospel of Pollan for now.

Here’s Looking At You

Here’s Looking At You is a brilliant short film by Lenka Clayton and James Price which exposes how people judge each other on first impression. Beyond all of the depressing skepticism that these subjects expose, I find it fascinating how much information people draw from a nearly-still image. It definitely shows how important a photo can be in dictating first impressions (via kottke).

January heat wave

It’s going to be a scorcher today in NYC, by early-January terms. The estimated highs in Central Park are ranging from 65 to 70 degrees, which means a high likelihood of breaking the daily record (65 degrees, set in 1998), and close to the January record (72 degrees, set on January 7, 2007).

In a related topic, I find it amazing how quickly the city adapts to warm weather. Yesterday, my local fruit stand reappeared after a month of absence, and the Rocking Horse Cafe had not only setup their outdoor seating, it was full!

Richard Hamming: “You and your research”

In 1986, Richard Hamming gave a talk at the Naval Postgraduate school entitled “You and your research” relating his experience working with some of the best scientists of the last century. It’s a must-read for anyone who does research for a living, and probably applies to just about any line of work. A few of my favorite quotes:

“I believed, in my early days, that you should spend at least as much time in the polish and presentation as you did in the original research. Now at least 50% of the time must go for the presentation. It’s a big, big number.”

“The people who do great work with less ability but who are committed to it, get more done that those who have great skill and dabble in it, who work during the day and go home and do other things and come back and work the next day.”

“Often a scientist becomes angry, and this is no way to handle things. Amusement, yes, anger, no. Anger is misdirected. You should follow and cooperate rather than struggle against the system all the time.”

An exceptionally simple theory of everything

Clive Thompson provides a nice backstory to the Physics paper most likely to become a movie if it’s true: An exceptionally simple theory of everything” by Garrett Lisi, a 39-year-old surfer/physicist affiliated with no university. The Wikipedia page provides a nice explanation of the paper, its reception by the physics community, and a pretty visualization of the E8 polytope.

My favorite cocktails in Manhattan

Over the past year I have had some amazing cocktails. As I head into Health Month, I’d like to reflect on some of the cocktails I’ve had over the past year in Manhattan which are probably among the best drinks I’ve had in my life.

  • Eastside Cocktail (gin, cucumber, mint, lime juice, and simple syrup) at Little Branch
  • El Diablo (tequila, homemade ginger beer, Cassis and a taste of citrus) at the Flatiron Lounge.
  • Presbyterian (whiskey, ginger ale and club soda) at the East Side Company Bar.
  • Negroni (Campari, gin and sweet vermouth) sitting outside at the Maritime Hotel.
  • Greyhound (fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and vodka) at Passerby.
  • Bloody mary (tomato juice, vodka, and tasty sundries) at Cookshop.

Until February, this is Cameron’s alcohol palate singing off.