Category Archives: Blog

The Farm on my Doorstep

Every Wednesday I have to resist the urge to run out and hug my Farmhouse delivery guy! We began with a small bushel every other week and have loved it so much we just can’t get enough. We are up to two large bushels every week – and honestly, we’re talking about three.

I feel like a kid on Christmas morning as I anticipate the moment of the Veggie Santa’s arrival. I “oooo” and “awwww” over each item as I lovingly take it out of the box. Who knew that bell pepper and eggplant came in such gorgeous diversity?

 

Fresh! We’re talking local, farm, seasonal, just-picked freshness! There is a difference. I confess I’ve eaten the entire head of butter lettuce the day it arrives (usually within minutes ). Words fail me to describe the tender, sweet, melt-in-my-mouth yumminess.

I’ve always struggled with incorporating enough veggies into my diet – but now it’s so easy, fun and educational. I love learning about new foods and experiencing new taste sensations. And knowing how to properly prepare a veggie, can turn, for example, the disgusting and dreaded beet (my former opinion) into my current fav. Try Perfect Baked Beets.

beets

It”s now a breeze to make half my plate fruits and veggies.

myplate

What does consuming more fresh produce do for our bodies?

Vegetables and Fruits:

  • Are naturally low in calories, and help us feel full faster
  • Provide valuable fiber that helps regulate our digestion
  • Decrease our risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers
  • Are valuable sources of tons of nutrients that are hard to get anywhere else. (Such as folate, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, just to name a few)

Oh, I feel so healthy. Gimme more! Is it Wednesday yet??

 

Bittersweet Holidays

This December marks the 24th anniversary of my father’s death. For those of us who have lost christmas-tree-ornaments-290loved ones around the holidays, this time of year brings a mix of emotions. Losing my father at a young age shaped my life in many ways, especially my vocational journey. His long battle with heart disease was intimately linked to his diet and lifestyle, though he seemed unmindful of the connection.

Heart disease is the foremost preventable cause of death in our country, with one out of every four deaths attributed to it. In addition to the physical and emotional suffering, it costs the U.S. well over 100 billion dollars every year. About half of all Americans have at least one risk factor that increases their chances of having heart disease: smoking, high LDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight, poor diet, physical inactivity, diabetes, and excessive alcohol use. From teenagers on up, there is hardly a person in our country who does not already have the beginning stages of vascular disease. Our unhealthy diets damage our blood vessels and over the years the processes designed to heal the atherosclerosisinflammation can’t keep up with our destructive lifestyles. This is atherosclerosis.

Most of us know these things. We know that we would be healthier if we ate a better diet and exercised more. But it usually takes a drastic event to shake us out of our complacency. I know it did for me.

The holidays can often be a time when we are bombarded with unhealthy food choices, but it is a fallacy to believe that we cannot enjoy this season without them. The pleasure obtained from indulging unwisely is frivolous compared to the pleasure received from feeling vibrant and full of good health, combined with the joy of being with healthy loved ones. The best gift we could give to our loved ones and ourselves this Christmas is take action to improve our diets and lifestyles.

Watch my digital story: Lunch on Mondays

National Weight Control Registry

turkeyDinner-300x204The holidays are almost upon us and with them comes much feasting! So it’s no wonder that New Year’s resolutions often reflect a desire to improve our diet and exercise habits. The older I get, the less confidence I have that my New Year’s plans will be effective or sustainable. We are living in a time when most Americans struggle to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. A plethora of unscrupulous merchants have added to our misery by selling us 60 billion dollars a year of weight loss products that don’t work. It’s easy to want to believe in the latest, quick and painless, guaranteed effective, pill, method, gadget, diet . . . because making consistent, gradual but lifelong, changes is very difficult.

Difficult, yes, but doable with the right tools. If we feel like we have “tried everything,” we may be wondering if there IS anything that really does work. The best research reassures us that there are proven strategies that are effective for most people. According to the National Weight Control Registry, which is the largest prospective study of long-term weight maintenance, individuals who have been successful in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight have six things in common:

  1. They eat breakfast daily.No-TV-
  2. They track their food intake.
  3. They monitor and record their weight weekly.
  4. They watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
  5. They exercise an average of 60 minutes daily.
  6. They have an accountability partner.

Regular self-monitoring of diet and weight is one of the most effective strategies, and the technologies at our fingertips are excuse busters. Gone are the days of having to hand-write tedious food logs and look up calories. Apps such as My Fitness Pal, and Livestrong Calorie Tracker, are not only easy, but fun and free!  Who knows? We may not want to even wait for January. 🙂

 

In Defense of Eggs

eggs in a basketIn this age of information overload, we are constantly bombarded with health and nutrition advice from so many sources – some more reputable than others. To compound the confusion, it may also seem like “experts” often change their minds and the advice given next year may contradict current recommendations. Remember when margarine was “healthier” than butter, and eggs were getting a bad rap? And not only does advice change over time, experts often disagree with one another. Part of the reason for this is that Nutrition is an emerging science; consequently, research in this field is relatively new and there is so much more that we don’t know than what we do know. That being said, this post is an attempt to untarnish the image if the humble, often misrepresented, egg.

Eggs have served as a substantial part of the human diet at least as long as history has beeneggs benedict recorded. It wasn’t until a few decades ago, when they were put on the “bad food” list, that people began to limit their consumption. This is unfortunate because health-conscious individuals may have actually been depriving themselves of disease-preventing nutrients. I confess that I was rebellious enough not to reduce my egg habits and I am happy that the research is now beginning to confirm what many of us thought was just plain common sense.

However, the redeeming of the reputation of eggs seems to be happening much more slowly than the vilifying occurred. I often see adults, especially older ones, still buying “egg substitutes,” and restaurants offering “egg white omelets” or “yoke-free Hollandaise sauce.

I’m not exactly proposing a Rocky style approach to eating eggs . . .

I just feel behooved to do my part to help restore their stellar slot in the human diet. Listen to my five-minute podcast: In Defense of Eggs.

Taste Preferences

One of the most fascinating areas of current research is how Baby in Womb1taste preferences are developed. Although there is a genetic component, environmental factors play a huge role in determining why we like to eat what we like to eat. It all starts in the womb! The ability to taste begins in the first trimester and is fully developed long before the baby is born. Many flavors, such as fruits, vegetables, spices, etc. (along with cigarette smoke and perfume) are detected Carrot Studyin amniotic fluid. Preborn babies swallow up to a liter of amniotic fluid a day. What mama eats, baby tastes. Julie Mennella, who has done extensive research in this area, shows in her Carrot Study that infants whose mothers eat carrots during pregnancy have a greater preference for carrots when solid foods are introduced.

We recently got the joyous news that our daughter, who has struggled with infertility for years, is expecting! We could not be more thrilled, although the last few weeks have been quite rocky as she has had to cope with much nausea and vomiting due to morning sickness. One thing that she gingerhas found that has helped is ginger: ginger capsules, ginger tea, ginger candy, ginger gum . . . We do not know whether this little one will be a boy or girl, or what the name will be, BUT we do know that ginger will be a favorite food!

Drinking Ourselves Fat?

Indra Nooyi, CEO

Indra Nooyi, CEO

I watched an interview last night on the News Hour with Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo. In an attempt to improve the health of Americans, the largest soft drink manufacturers worldwide have announced they will decrease the calorie content of their sugary drinks during the next 10 years by 20%. Part of their strategy will include selling smaller pack sizes and product reformulation to provide lower calorie options. You can read the interview transcript here.

Well, I guess it’s a start. Ms. Nooyi made a valid point that obesity is a complex issue and sodas are not the only culprit. She thought the government should focus more on improving school lunches and bringing back mandatory physical education, instead of taxing beverages or controlling their size. Maybe.

NHANES reports that sugar-sweetened beverages are one of the top five sources of calories for all age groups, two years old and up. And these nutrient-empty beverages are the number one source of calories for teens.

This NYC ad remains one of my favorite.

I Love Breakfast

I love mornings. What a gift to have a bright, new, fresh start every 24 hours. Next to my devotional time and my shower, breakfast is the third main excuse for loving mornings. My current favorite breakfast menu item is oatmeal smothered with fresh peaches and berries. When I used to smother my oatmeal with brIMG_0158own sugar, I experienced only a singular taste sensation: sweet. Kicking the sugar habit has freed my taste buds to discern and relish all the nuances of the earthy, tangy, delicately sweet, savory, umami, etc. flavors that had been overpowered by my high tolerance for sickeningly sweet foods. It also makes me happy that research supports the notion that breakfast is the most important meal. John Hopkins School of Public Health gives some convincing reasons and some yummie recipes. I am a creature of habit and don’t mind eating the same thing most mornings, but if you are easily bored and need some snazzy ideas, you can download a free healthy breakfast cookbook here.