Friday, February 26, 2010

I Can't Even Come Up With a Title To Respond to This Amount of Stupidity

Oh, logic, how you elude us humans so regularly.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement saying that the shape of hot dogs should be reconsidered because 17% of food related asphyxiations occur in people younger than ten due to the meat product.* Perhaps this is true because American children eat a ton of hot dogs not because hot dogs are inherently dangerous?

Everyone is up in arms about peanuts in preschool and I actually think this is for good reason. Yes, lots of kids have fatal allergies but can we also discuss the fact that peanuts have far less nutritional value than most nuts? Allow me to introduce you to the almond or the walnut.

Lets all freak out about the cleanliness of our vegetables. Or not, if you go to the farmer's market and can look the farmer in the eye.

Also, don't drink hot things because you're probably clutsy from all that cyanide you consumed by accident or all the vomiting from the unripe fruit.

Okay, maybe people aren't that stupid, but TIME magazine is sure in the running for stupidest story ever.

*Aren't you proud of me for not getting on my soap box about how this is a meat product and not actual unprocessed meat that so many people feed their children. Okay, now you're probably less proud of me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


So everyone in the nutrition science universe is all excited about Michelle Obama's 'Let's Move' initiative. The media has highlighted the fact that the program is about nutrition facts and how American children feel about themselves - not about how many pounds a child has to lose to fit in (to jeans or to society). It is great that they are not just relaunching the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports because, let's be honest, the reach test didn't do much for kids since it started in 1956. We've all still gotten fatter. Let's Move has a nutrition and a fitness component and includes food access and responsibility aspects.

However, I just can't get behind the whole initative. Address food deserts, tell children they are responsible for the choices they make with their fork and remind them their nutrition is important and so is their activity level but there also needs to be a conversation about how the entire country eats. Our government heavily subsidizes big Ag resulting in promotion of low-fat dairy, freakishly lean (but big busted) poultry and corn. Over the last fifty years Americans have been told to eat less fat and that suggestion has made us fatter. We can tell children how to eat until we're blue in the face but until our government is willing to actually analyze how we produce and promote food, it doesn't matter what we tell our kids.

You could say, 'Well that isn't Michelle Obama's goal'. I say, 'That is crap'. Okay, yes it isn't her goal, but it should be and it could be. The Director of NIH is clearly going to take her call. Public schools employ nutritionists to manage the food consumption of millions of American children. DC is talking about changes in their school lunches. Government has it's hands in everything we do, no matter what you want to believe, bureaucracy manages what calories are available to us, what health care we have on down to the safety of brushing your teeth. Tell the kids all you want about their choices but why don't we adults think twice about the choices we've already made for them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Volume Or Flavor: No Contest

Back when I did Weight Watchers I would thrive on how few points I could consume by the end of the day and still have eaten things like cake. Except all that food was packaged and at the end of the day my stomach was a hot mess. I've learned that my body doesn't enjoy processing things like Yellow 5 or fractionated palm kernel oil. So I've learned to focus on foods that make me enjoy life even if it means eating less of something.
Which is what brought me to making my own bread. The dough here is fuzzy because it is being mixed and kneaded by the bread machine. At this point it already smells like nutty deliciousness.
Then it rises. You're supposed to keep that lid down but I can't usually keep my face out of the machine if I run it when I'm home.
Usually I put the ingredients in the machine before I leave for work.

That way, when it has risen and baked up into the crunchy-on-the-outside-delicious-and-soft-on-the-inside loaf you see here I can slice it up and smother it with something like egg yolks or almond butter and honey.

Each of these slices is a tasty 145 calories and doesn't contain one single bit of maltodextrin or other ingredients I can't spell or pronounce.
As for the crack pumpkin I mentioned yesterday.

I was not kidding when I said it is like crack. There is just a little bit left in our fridge and if it weren't sweet enough that I can't really eat more than a cup at a time it would have been gone before it hit the tupperware.

I warn you not to leave too much of this in your house.

Sam Walton: Ecstacy or Agony?

One of the greatest challenges about making positive choices for me is making sure I have time to cook and actually enjoy what is in the fridge or pantry. If I am bored of those items I am likely to go to the grocery store and buy a piece of cake for dinner. It has happened on a few occasions and it does not help that said grocery store is next door to my building, damn you urban planners.

A great example of this is something fiance made this weekend that we have taken to calling crack pumpkin. I'll post a whole lot more about crack pumpkin tomorrow but suffice it to say this is the tastiest vegetable I have ever consumed. The pumpkin itself was purchased at the farmer's market meaning its flavor was intense and, as is intimated by the name, addictive. The apple cider it was braised with was also from the farmer's market increasing the addictive sugary awesomeness.

The issue of course is that going to the farmer's market is not always convenient. The first two weeks in February were packed full and we couldn't make it to the local market. Instead we went to Whole Foods and tried to be strategic about what we purchased: local apples (they were eh), sustainable salmon, and even local milk. Apparently grocers and outlets across the country are starting to realize that real people actually go in search of this stuff. Event WalMart is getting in on the action and while I am really skilled at hating on them, their model is fascinating.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Let Me Count the Ways

At least once per day my eating habits are discussed. Sometimes it is discussed by me and sometimes by others. Occasionally I will be eating a salad and someone will comment on how 'good' I am (see: last week, rye). Often someone will ask me about teaching at the gym and the conversation will turn to my weight loss of three-ish years ago. Almost always, the conversation ends with someone saying how healthy eating is such a pain or working out is so boring or some other complaint about habits they assume I regularly participate in.

I find this fascinating. First, I don't eat salad because I think it is tastier than fried food. Actually, I don't love salad or fried food. At least not in terms of favorite foods. Salad is a vehicle for things like cheese or the sweet potato salad fiance made last night. Some fried food is okay. I will always eat chili cheese fries and buffalo wings smell good but are largely inedible according to my taste buds, for instance. The reason I find this reaction so interesting is that these choices are only partially about the fact that their healthy. They're really about one thing.


When I was overweight I thought I felt awesome. I was happy (minus that short period after college graduation where any sane person wants to sit quietly in a dark room for four months), I was active, I had friends and a life. Now, its a whole different world. One that is all about ME. I love me. Selfish? Perhaps. I'm not saying I don't love other people or that I don't ever think about other people. But, really, while I can be a loving family member or friend my life is all about me. Anyone who claims their life isn't about them is lying. Pheobe Buffet made this point very nicely in an episode of Friends were she pointed out that even good deeds are even just slightly about you because they make you feel good.

Elle Woods also put it nicely when she fought tooth and nail for that legal clerkship and came out of the crowd and screamed, "ME".

Yep, me, salad and fried food (and last night's clam linguini and white wine [still not able to get the clam smell off my hands, if you have any tips for that problem I have a comment section for you] which I will be blogging about tomorrow), me, tasty food and also ME.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Love You Rye

There are some people who make me feel both good and bad about myself simultaneously. This is one of them:

Peter Walsh, of Oprah fame, makes me feel good about my ability to notice that clutter in life clutters my life and not just in my bedroom but also in my brain, and also bad about my ability to actually organize.

This image from the Oprah site is great imagery for how I feel when my life is cluttered. Except that for me I don't feel the need to throw out a hair brush from 1920, instead I have a hard time organizing myself andOhMyGodAnxietyHyperventilate AhhhhHELP.

Fiance regularly gets tired of me being tired of his belongings being 'everywhere' as I call it. Recently I told him I couldn't hear him when his socks were on the floor. While this comment is kind of funny its also oddly true. (I just accidentally typed rye instead of true. Which could be a typing error or could be attributed to the fact that I just spent too much time telling a coworker about my love of all things rye and pumpernickel and then proceeded to scour for bread recipes with caraway seeds.) Socks on the floor, items without a location, items not in their given location, anything being not what it is supposed to be distracts me from everything else. This is also known as clutter in house equals clutter in brain equals unable to focus on goals equals rye bread in the office kitchen nomnomnom.

Peter Walsh is a book selling hack of the variety I regularly moan about but that doesn't make him wrong. I'm still on the fence about his denial of technology since I'm not sure how the parents in those families get anything done at work but he can still be on point. It took me a while to figure out exactly why he is on point. Basically it boils down to the fact that if you are overextended and your life is full of too many things then everything is a distraction from the things you need to do on down to the things you enjoy. You can't clean your house because you worked too many hours this week because you decided you needed to cook a meal for your family because you needed an extra hour of sleep the other night because you had spent too much time reading your favorite blog because. . . the list goes on. Basically, you can't take care of your shit so your shit is everywhere. For me, this extends to my eating habits and hot damn did that apply to this week. Now, where did that rye bread go. Oh right, I ate it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Suggest A Heavy Dose of Snark

There are a bajillion and one experts out there who want to tell us all about how to eat and how much of those items to eat and what to avoid and honestly the whole thing gives me an anxiety attack. I have to tell myself they're all guidelines and not absolute rules but in the end I just ignore most of them. Which is probably good because a lot of the guidelines out in the media are put out by people who don't understand statistics (i.e. should not be extrapolating bags on trash day let alone data to tell you what to do with your pie hole) or people who are trying to sell books. Here are five that make me extra hyperventilate-y.

1. Eat only one fist-sized serving of grains per day. Whole grains are preferred.

Let me get this straight, you're telling me that when I eat a bagel I need to eat maybe half of it and probably can't put anything except a tomato on top? The sticky rice that comes with my Chinese food should be ignored? Even the tiniest containers of rice are bigger than my fist. How the hell is a person supposed to eat a sandwich in this world?

Also, one word for these grain haters: Pho.

2. Eat a minimum of five fruits and vegetables per day. A majority vegetables is preferred.

I think what you're really telling me is I should stuff myself to the point of spending a few hours on the toilet later. I think, um, no.

3. Limit sugar to rare treats. Refined sugar should be avoided as much as possible.

The person who invented this guideline clearly doesn't work in an office with any old ladies who can bake. I'm going to guess honey is also included in this and I have to say that eating local honey has made my allergies better by leaps and bounds. I used to live in a world where I couldn't open the windows in my house in fear of pollen. Now I eat a little local honey everyday and I am no longer afraid of grass and trees (okay, less afraid of them). Also, cake is what makes the world go round.

4. Eat complete meals to keep your blood sugar from spiking. Protein should be paired with vegetables.

Okay this one I'll accept a bit more readily but not because of my blood sugar. Lets be honest, blood sugar spikes are how I get through the work day sometimes. but last night I combined left-over salmon with brown rice, sauteed mushrooms and onions and it was incredibly delicious. Also, greens sauteed in a bit of oil with a nice steak on top is a great combination. So really, blood sugar is something that I have no idea how to control or monitor but I love it when flavors meld well.

5. Try to follow all the guidelines at the same time.

Hahahahahhaha. Ahem.

The expert of the day is always telling you to do the following five things to control your weight/blood sugar/cholesterol/happiness but the kicker is always that at the end they tell you to do your best to do all of those things. Uh, yea right. If I tried to follow all the guidelines the USDA suggests I'd probably gain a ton of weight. Also, their dairy guidelines (they call them milk guidelines which I try to tell myself is just poor copy-editing) make me want to jump off a bridge.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Love Letter to Calories

As of the end of this work day I can almost see the wagon there in the distance. This is almost like trying to retrain yourself to do something. I have never lost the ability to walk but I'd bet it is similar. Habits are so easy to break/ruin. And damn are they hard to bring back. Not sure why it is that what amounted to basically a three day weekend totally threw me off but lordy did it.

I spent a majority of my work day trying to remind myself that you are supposed to be hungry before you eat again.

I've also decided that the culprit is snacking. So my goal is whole, true, real, honest to God meals or at the least valuable and comprehensive snacks like yogurt for protein before the gym or some almonds for some enjoyable fat to get me through the morning. The chocolate in the office down the hall has been calling my name all day and my response has been, "YOU ARE NOT A MEAL". ("OR A VALUABLE SNACK". [Love you, call me!])

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sometimes I Think The Wagon Doesn't Want Me.

Oh, hello wagon, nice to see you again.


This is what I get for bragging about my awesome eating a few weeks ago. I made it about one more week of eating well before it all went down hill. I didn't just fall off the wagon. I lept from the wagon and couldn't even see it in the distance after a few days. Today I am still fighting my way back to the wagon.

I blame these:

Oh wait, I don't have a picture of those cookies because they disappeared so quickly. I adapted them from a Cooking Light recipe. I took out the coconut, used mostly whole wheat flour and tripled the salt. I made these on vacation and ate them with friends. Through our cheeks full of cookie we agreed the extra salt makes them totally addictive. I've learned recently that salt makes baked goods amazingly fantastic.

I could say that I'm a puppy working my way back with my tail between my legs but that would be too many metaphors in one entry. It's also not true. I'm trying to race my way as fast as humanly possible back to that wagon.

I could just blame the weather.

But clearly the fact that my windows were opaque for most of the last week and a half isn't why the wagon is so far away.

So tonight I made salmon.

I'm hoping basil butter braised salmon with a green salad topped with sesame lemon vinaigrette and parmesan will get me back on the wagon.

I know, butter and parmesan don't sound like wagon food but actually this was calorically pretty good. It better be since I need to combat those three cookies I ate today. Not that one of those was at breakfast. No, not at all.