Sunday, 31 October 2010

Finger food

More weirdness on my part, but this is what I enjoyed eating today while watching football. During the packer game at noon, I had kohlrabi & carrot sticks, and sugar snap peas. I coated them in some lime juice and cilantro, but I think they are as good or better without the extra flavors--depends on my mood.

Later on, I had some spinach and more kolhrabi. I love kohlrabi.

Of course, I ate other stuff today too: smoothie, beans, and fruit. But these were my football snacks. I made guacamole and bean dip for housemate to dip her tostada chips in.


I know I'm weird but I'm not the least bit attracted to Halloween candy. Here's what I was eating when the first kids dropped by my house (at left):

I was at the store today and they had fresh ripe mangos! We often have mangos at the store but never ripe, and they don't ripen well at home. So what I'm saying is, I hardly ever get a good fresh mango. But today I did, with strawberries and banana added in. It was so yummy. I doled out the candy (at right) to the kids, and did my part contributing to their poor health. I felt a little guilty. My fruit salad was followed by a delicious pomegranate:

Boy was that ever good--perfect ripeness.

this week's beans

This is a variation on my usual recipe. Today I harvest a brussels sprouts plant so used the leaves for my greens, and added the brussels sprouts. I also added a butternut squash and some parsnips. My eggplants are done for the season so that's gone from the recipe. Darn, I forgot to add the last 2 tomatoes from the garden. And I was going to add sage and forgot that. Oh well, they taste good.

2 lbs beans (1 lb Cannellini and 1 lb Lima from my Rancho Gordo selections)
>1 lb brussels sprouts greens
~2 lb mushrooms (oyster, shitake, crimini)
>1 lb onions
3/4 lb parsnips
3/4 lb brussels sprouts
>1 lb butternut squash, peeled
38 oz carrot juice (about a 5 lb bag juiced)several cups water

Soak the beans overnight, then cook them in water for a few hours. Juice the carrots, add to a 12-quart pot, start the heat going. Now I chop everything in a food processor, starting with the longest-cooking things and adding into the pot. Add water as necessary. The order is greens, onions, parsnips, squash and then mushrooms. By the time that's done, the first ingredients have been cooking for a while. Add the beans, and cook another 30-60 minutes depending on how tender you like it. Let cool. Pour into a gazzillion plastic bowls for freezing. This batch made 34 cups, which I doled out into 16 1.5-cup bowls and 10 1-cup bowls:

Here's a picture of them in the freezer, along with this week's smoothies:

That may be enough for 2 weeks. yeah!

Friday, 29 October 2010

oh, today.

Way too much to do this week {and as I write that, I realize the week is pretty much over}. 
survival strategy 1: putting my alarm on the opposite side of the room to force me to get up when it goes off.
survival strategy 2: downing copious amounts of Amazing Grass [affectionately called “Amazing Weed” by some].
Anyone else got a winner?

So for now, I’m thinking relaxing thoughts and getting super excited to go back to Michigan for Thanksgiving break. You can betcha bottom dollar I’m going to get here…
And here….
But you came here for nutrition slash food information, didn’t you?
After Saturday night’s fantastic 5 course dinner, I pretty much decided I’d never eat again. When I finally came to my senses, I used some of the leftover veggies + homemade stock to make carrot ginger soup. So simple [bonus: it’s vegan]. I may or may not have used an excessive amount of black pepper.
Today, a big group of interns worked at a health fair all day long. By noon, we’d already seen over 500 people. We were responsible for helping hospital employees interpret their cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose screenings.
Do you know the normal levels for these lab values? These are the standards we used today:
Lab Value
Normal Ranges
Total Cholesterol
<200 mg/dL
HDL Cholesterol
>40 mg/dl men                      >50 mg/dL women
TC/HDL Ratio
Glucose <100 mg/dL fasting
<140 mg/dL not fasting
Blood Pressure

I had a screen done, and fortunately fell within normal limits for everything. If you’ve never been screened, you should be. It’s a really fast and easy process that can help identify risks for disease.
Don’t worry, I’m still thinking about probiotics. I have a huge test on Tuesday that’s taking up a lot of time right now. And…I just finished a presentation today on low carbohydrate diets for treating elevated blood lipids, which is another post for another time.
Alrighty, back to the books. I can’t believe it’s Friday tomorrow already! Does anyone have fun costume ideas (that I can steal) for Halloween?!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

a sweet dilemma

As I was running today, I saw a sign outside a local dentist’s office that said “cash for candy” and offered $1/pound of candy turned in. Genius.

  snickers =  us bill

Now, you know I’m completely in favor of moderation, and this includes eating candy (hello, dark chocolate), but the problem is that our country has lost sight of moderation’s true meaning. The amount of candy a child collects on Halloween definitely does not fall into that moderation category, especially since junk food is no longer a special treat in our society…it is everywhere.


Could there be a more perfect time to teach kids about investing in health?! It may take a few years before they see the connection between giving up junk and saving in terms of health care costs, but it’s a good start. Thoughts?


This article in the New York Times, discusses the villainization of candy vs. drinking juice or eating cookies. Not news to me…I don’t think candy or juice should be consumed in excess. Moral of the story…eat real food. I recently read M. Pollan’s In Defense of Food, and it was really good. I say this even though I come from a nutrition science background, and you’ll understand the irony of that statement if you’ve read the book. More discussion to come…

Anyway, while we’re on the topic of real food, how about another soup recipe? I know some states have been experiencing tornado-like weather, which qualifies as soup weather to me. This black bean soup is really easy but has tons of flavor. Thanks for the recipe, Foodbuzz!


Don’t forget whole wheat biscuits…because every soup needs a homemade biscuit, and these will only take 10 minutes to make, tops.


Have you read In Defense of Food? If so, thoughts?!


Monday, 25 October 2010

indiana roadtrip

Last week was crazy…thus, the lack of posting! The clean eating class went really well. Thanks for all of your suggestions! I ended up using some giant newsprint, printed signs, and lots of construction paper. I dare you to try and write out bullet points by hand when you are a perfectionist…it won’t work, and you’ll waste a lot of paper.


I blame part of this on my writing style: I slant all of my words to the left. In school, they were always telling us to slant to the right, so naturally I decided that slanting to the left would be a good time.

It was really fun to discuss sustainability and local food with my class, especially when those topics aren’t too popular around here.


On Friday, I headed to Indianapolis to see one of my best friends get married. I saw friends that I haven’t seen for quite some time, so that was nice.


I know other bloggers have brought up the topic of eating lifestyles at weddings, specifically what you do when your eating lifestyle isn’t represented by wedding food. I prefer not to eat meat that isn’t local or organic, but I can pretty much always find something to eat without being tacky. I really believe that you can stick to your values in all sorts of settings.

So many great memories with these girls. My friend Lindsay and I were actually the wedding singers (we used to sing together in college), so that was pretty fun, too.


I visited Hipsterville aka Bloomington on the way home from the wedding and ate the best homemade pumpkin ice cream.


We also went to a neat local food restaurant called Farm. Bloomington is full of these kinds of places, which is fantastic. I was a huge fan of the teal chairs, too.


I had some epic pumpkin soup. I’m pretty sure it had real cream in it and also blended apples. Fall is most definitely soup weather.


I took this photo on the way home. Only if you are a blogger and your camera is an extension of your arm should you ever attempt this while driving. :)


Looking forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs!


Monday, 18 October 2010

fall obsession

First of all, thanks so much to everyone who took the time to make some very thoughtful comments on my last post. I really appreciate your insight, and I’ll definitely consider it as I write this nutrition program! I also just got connected with a local farm to school group, and I think they will play a big role in helping to get better food into our local schools.

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with the beach, even in non-swimming weather. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to enjoy a Michigan fall, and I love the freedom to be outside as much as possible.


And seriously….what’s not to love about fall?! The changing colors of the leaves = my fave. What’s your fave aspect of fall?


Another pumpkin recipe…I know, I know. But this one is really good as evidenced by the amount of time it took my family to demolish it [recipe here]. You don’t even need a sugary glaze. Pair it with a pumpkin spice latte for an extreme pumpkin fix. 


I’m teaching my first clean eating class this week, but I’ll have to be pretty creative because the room I’m using isn’t PowerPoint enabled. Any suggestions?! There isn’t even a whiteboard in the room, so I was thinking of going old school with an easel and a marker…


Sunday, 17 October 2010

this week's beans

Same as last week, only I used these beanss:

That's pinquitos and scarlet runner. Here they are before soaking:

Preparation is described in this post. I think I liked last week's more. But these are good with frozen sweet corn added to them.

sweet pea guacamole

Today I made sweet pea-avocado guacamole for housemate, and updated the recipe a bit. It was yummy!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Daily salad

I've been making great salads for my weekday meals. As I've posted before, on weekdays, I live on my bean soup from the freezer (made on the weekend) and salads. When I get tired of it, I'll do something else but for now I'm loving this. I make a big ole' salad every night and split it into three meals for the next day. Here's a post that describes this. The picture above shows one of the salads from last week. Here are typical ingredients used throughout the week this time of year (depends on what's fresh--right now, it's apples, pears, cruciferous veggies, greens, and pomegranates).

1 head romaine lettuce
3-6 oz cauliflower
3-6 oz broccoli
red bell pepper (optional)
1 cup frozen sweet corn (optional; note: organic snow pac is the sweetest I've found)
1 pint cherry tomatoes (if they are local and fresh and ripe)
a few oz kale and/or purple cabbage
1 small-medium apple
1 small-medium pear (our local pears are very small but delicious)
1 kiwi
seeds from a whole pomegranate (about 100 g, or 3.5 oz)
once a week, a grapefruit peeled and cutup instead of the some of the other fruit
juice from an orange
juice from a lime

I chop the cruciferous veggies first (kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage) and mix with the juice and seed mixture, to marinate a bit. Then chop up the lettuce and fruit, mix it all up together, and put it in my bowls for tomorrow's meals. For the lunch meal, I usually add 1/2 cup edamame. I eat the salads with sliced carrots and kohlrabi.

Seed Mixture

About once a week, I grind and combine a bunch of different seeds/nuts and store it in the freezer.  This makes it easy to dole out my daily dose of healthy seeds/nuts.   I vary this weekly depending on my mood and what's on hand.  I'll list all the typical ones I use, and the amounts are what I happened to use this week.  I'll list it in grams, because that's how I measure on the food scale.  If you aren't familiar with grams, 28 grams = 1 oz., and 70 grams is about a half cup (that's approximate).

flax seeds, 130 g
chia seeds, 43
hemp seeds 63
sunflower seeds 59
sesame seeds, 23
pumpkin seeds
mediterranean pine nuts
brazil nuts

I grind about 1/2 cup at a time in my vita-mix "dry" container.   I don't grind the chia or hemp seeds; I might just chop lightly the nuts rather than grinding.

Here's the nutritional info on today's mixture.  A 1 Tbsp serving (9 grams) has 49 calories, 1.9 g protein (14%), 3.9 g fat (68%), 2.3 grams of carbs (18.5%).  The omega-6/omega-3 ratio is 0.766.

Here's the result from a batch that has some pine nuts in it (not ground) and chopped walnuts, along with the ground seeds:

These are good to add to everything--salads, soups, steamed veggies, smoothies. In the salads, combined with orange, lime juice, or flavored vinegar, it makes a nice nutty little dressing.

Note, you can use any combination of nuts and seeds you want or have on hand.   Here's a post I wrote about the nutritional content of nuts and seeds, and here are a couple of articles by Dr. Fuhrman on them:  here and here.

"Greek" chickpea salad

I made a salad for a party and it was really good. I was going to use a recipe from the Fuhrman forums recipe site, but it called for spicy pecan vinegar and I didn't have any. Plus I thought of more things I wanted to add and just ended up changing the recipe. So it's different enough I can post it. But it was inspired by the Greek chickpea salad recipe, for those who have access and want to see it.

Here are the ingredients for a big batch that I split into a bowl for the party and a bowl for home. Halve the recipe if you want a smaller batch. Also, please note that these are somewhat random things I had in the kitchen. You don't have to follow this exactly! The main ingredients are chickpeas, romaine lettuce, some fruit, cucumber, nuts, pine nuts smashed in fresh-squeezed orange&lime juice, a little raw onion, and a little cilantro. The fruit can be whatever you want! I prefer the romaine lettuce over others because it holds up better in a dressing. You could try adding kale too.

2 cans unsalted cooked chickpeas, or 1 lb cooked dry chickpeas (soak overnight before cooking).
1/4-1/2 lb cherry tomatoes (optional--I only add fresh tomatoes if they are from my garden or one nearby)
1 small apple, peeled, cored, chopped
1 small pear, peeled, cored, chopped
1 kiwi, peeled, chopped
1/2 lb grapes, cut in half
1 cucumber, peeled, chopped
1 avocado, peeled, chopped
1 large head romaine or 2 small
1/2 fresh, mild onion
2-5 oz purple cabbage (as desired)
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lime
1 oz pine nuts, crushed, smashed or ground
1/4 - 1/2 cup brazil nuts, chopped
few Tbsps chopped cilantro

Mix the smashed pine nuts in the juice, or blend in a blender ( just smash and mix). Combine everything except the lettuce in a big bowl. Stir. Add the lettuce. Stir again. It's yummy.

I forgot to snap a picture. The guests loved it, so I'll be making it again and will snap a picture then.

today's lunch

I love some of the fruit that goes into housemate's smoothies, so I make a separate fruit bowl for myself. Today's has frozen mango (yum!), cherries (yum!), and blueberries. I ate it slowly with relish.

I also had some brazil nuts and a really simple salad. The salad was made from fresh, local spinach and greens, a little chopped fresh local onion, and cilantro. That's all! The greens were so good.

Current Housemate smoothies

I usually make a week's worth of smoothies for housemate at once, in 3-4 batches. Each batch makes 2 smoothies. I then freeze them, like so:

Each night, take one out and put it in the fridge. Take it out in the morning, stir with a tall spoon, add a straw and serve! Leave the foil on if your client is scared of a slight green color that can develop as the top layer is exposed to the air.

Here are the ingredients for one batch (2 servings).

500-600 grams (18-20 oz) fresh and/or frozen fruit (typically 2 bags frozen).  e.g., frozen sweet cherries, strawberries, raspberries, mangos; fresh or frozen ripe banana.  Grapes are good too when in season; fresh figs too.   Note:  I've found blueberries don't thaw well after freezing--the texture is...gloppy.
2-4 oz spinach and/or sweet cabbage
2 Tbsp nuts and/or seeds: e.g., cashews, pistachios, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, or seed mixture
0-2 medjool dates, pitted, or 0-2 Tbsp date syrup (optional, depends on how much sweet fruit you use and taste preferences of the customer)
10 oz grape and/or fresh squeezed orange juice
supplements (DHA, gentle care vitamins, and osteo-sun)

This can be assembled in a variety of ways. If making 3-4 batches, you can combine all the fruit into a big bowl, like so:

Next assemble your dates, nuts, water and juice. Sometimes if I am making several batches, I might blend the dates, nuts and water ahead of time into a yummy nut date cream. I might make extra and enjoy my own treat of the cream over some fruit.

Here's everything ready for assembly for one batch. In this version, the dates, nuts, juice are combined into a mug:

Add the date, nut, juice and water to the blender. I break open the supplements and pour the powder in, and put in the DHA. This is great because housemate won't swallow pills. I can't taste them in the smoothies. I put 2 portions since this will make 2 smoothies. Add the spinach on top and blend on high until smooth. Then add the fruit, and blend again until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses. Eat them now, or top with foil and put them in the freezer.  

Thursday, 14 October 2010

bake therapy

I found out that I didn’t get the job I interviewed for last week, but I’m convinced that it just wasn’t the right fit. Sometimes things don't work out, and that's totally ok.

I’ve always found baking somewhat therapeutic. Something about pounding dough and stirring batter with a wooden spoon is entirely soothing.
{yes, yes…this is my apron from food science class when I was a soph in college}.
Anyway, I decided to put my creative energy to use by making homemade pretzels. I’ve tried this in the past and failed quite miserably, so I was a little hesitant, but I’m glad I reattempted the recipe {thank you, Joy the Baker!}.
Pretty sure I dipped this baby in dijon mustard {ok, I admit it…I’m currently obsessed with dijon mustard. and spicy peanut sauce}. These pretzels are made with white flour, but I’m sure you could use a little whole wheat if you wanted.
Time to go turn myself into a human pretzel via yoga.
What’s your fave form of therapy?
Embroidery tutorial coming soon!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

thoughts on childhood obesity


It’s like the giant elephant in the room that everyone knows about, some are trying to corral, and others are completely avoiding.

Since beginning work on an obesity slash chronic disease prevention grant, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about childhood obesity…and I have to say that there are no easy answers. One thing that most Americans could improve upon is consumption of vegetables.


This recent article by Jane Brody in the New York Times highlighted the fact that only 26% of Americans eat 3 or more vegetable servings per day. She called for responses to this problem.

Here are some things that I think play a key role:

  • time: It takes time and effort to plan a vegetable-focused meal vs. purchasing a pre-made or prepackaged meal. At the end of the day, many Americans are simply too exhausted to put effort into cooking a batch of quinoa or making stuffed green peppers. We live in a society where instant gratification is the norm, and unfortunately, this translates into quick fixes for meals.
  • education: Many Americans have no idea how to properly cook or otherwise prepare vegetables. Children are progressing into adulthood without learning valuable cooking skills, which makes preparation of vegetables pretty intimidating.
  • accessibility/economic concerns: Many children receive 2/3 meals at school, but have you seen some of the food offerings lately? No wonder children are not excited about eating vegetables.


So what can we do? Considering all of these barriers, I think a national campaign to improve vegetable intake needs to be launched. It's a very tricky situation because many industries (beef, dairy, etc.) feel very threatened by the government encouraging Americans to focus on a plant-based diet (and also hold or are linked to key positions in the FDA and USDA). But, it's time we start focusing on what is best for Americans, healthwise.


School lunch programs should be an increased focus. Many studies are showing that obesity concerns begin in childhood, and this is prime time for us to be proactive. Something must be done to even out the distribution of funds between districts to equalize access of healthful food.


What are your thoughts on childhood slash adult obesity?

To me, it’s a very multifactoral issue that is not going to be solved overnight (and maybe not even in a decade). Not a very comforting thought, right?!

Unlike this quinoa corn chowder, which is so comforting and delicious that you will not be able to eat just one bowl {I dare ya}.


quinoa corn chowder {the savvy vegetarian)

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 16 oz pkg frozen corn kernels or 4 ears fresh corn
  • 4 cups vegetarian soup stock or water
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 lg re pepper, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 thin slices fresh ginger, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded & chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaf
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & pepper to taste

Soak the quinoa for at least 15 minutes. Rinse and drain. Heat olive oil on medium low heat in large Dutch oven or soup pot. Sauté garlic, ginger, celery, & jalapenos for 6 minutes. Add potatoes, green beans, and red pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Add spices and soup stock, bring to a boil, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add fresh or frozen corn and cook 5-10 more minutes.

I know that this post is more of a long rant and involves large blocks of text, which I find super annoying when blog reading. But I’d love your feedback, especially as I’m writing a school nutrition program, I’d love to know what kind of school lunches are out there, and how you feel we can improve upon the nutrition status of Americans.