Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Great Pumpkin (bread)

Dry Ingredients in a big mixing bowl:
1.5 cups of whole wheat flour
.5 cups of ground flaxseed
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Wet Ingredients in a small mixing bowl:
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut or canola oil
3 tablespoons honey

After combining wet into dry to form batter add:
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup crushed walnuts

I made the pumpkin puree by roasting 6 fist-sized pumpkin chunks in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes - until tender with a fork.  Then I separated the pumpkin meat and rocked it in the Vitamix for about 15 seconds.  I used a fine wire mesh strainer to drain some of the water out of the puree.  Learn from my mistake:  Don't press the puree with any sort of pressure in the strainer or you'll lose most of it through the mesh.  Just stir it a bit and let it sit over the sink while you prepare the dry ingredients.

Messy Puree
Because I'm a Portion Control Warrior and knew I would be sharing this bread with my running girls, I used 3 mini loaf pans to control the size of the slices.  If you use the mini loaf approach bake at 325 for 35 minutes.  A regular loaf pan should be 350 for 40-45 minutes.  Either way, a toothpick should come out clean when tested.

Happy Pumpkin Loaves

Finally, I must include the following gratuitous photo for my Ks!  (I run with three women ALL named Kathy, all live the in the same housing community and three of their husbands work in the same office!  Weird.  And weirder still - there are actually 2 MORE Kathy's in the same neighborhood whose husbands ALSO work in the same office.  An office of only 7 people.   I swear, I need to give this information to a statistician to find out the ODDS on that.)

The K's are now referred to as K's 1 - 5 for ease in communications.  I run with K3, K4 and K5.  All K's and this L are psycho peanut butter lovers and have spent many running hours discussing our love of nut butters.  After I made the loaves above, I indulged in the following treat:

1 handful of left over roasted pumpkin seeds
The remaining pumpkin bread batter, squeegeed out of the bowl with rubber spatula
1 squeeze of honey
1 spoonful of natural chunky peanut butter

I mixed it all up in a coffee cup and then spread on whole wheat toast.  Then I died and went to heaven.  I had to exercise extreme self control to stop and take this picture.  It was a close call.  THIS is the kind of food that makes marathon training worth it!  Also good to note the beauty of a vegan kitchen... you can lick every spoon any stinkin' time you want!

I can still taste it...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wanna Start an EVolution?!

Call it what ya want:  vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, plant-strong, kind, compassionate.  People are writing about it, talking about it and most importantly trying it!  But with all of the good press and open minds, I can't help but feel a little nervous.  I already see a rise here in Barbados of processed and essentially "junk" vegetarian foods.  The same food scientists and marketers that got you to LOVE McDonalds are hard at work for your newly minted vegetarian dollars. 

I attended a raw food demonstration and lunch with Chef Manuela Scalini last weekend and it was so literally food for thought.  As we discussed the benefits of one ingredient over another, where to get sea moss, how to purchase coconut jelly and the best brands of nutritional yeast, I had an out of body moment.  Three years ago (two years ago!) I wouldn't have had a CLUE as to what anyone was speaking about.

That's the evolution of diet. 

Three years ago I started by removing the meat and substituting things that look and taste like meat. Remember, I was coming from 20 years in a fitness culture that preaches 10 chicken breasts a day and calls potatoes The Devil.  Where was I going to go from there?  Straight to Morningstar Farms Chix Patties is where!  The path I took was junkie (I can't read half of the ingredients on any MF package) but it worked.  And my diet evolved from there.

When I eliminated dairy and eggs, that was another step in the process.  Learning to make my own veggie burgers propelled me forward again, and I was able to walk away from processed fake burgers.

When I started added greens and green shakes to my diet my taste buds started to change.  I craved (and still do) all those greens I missed for 40 years.  Greens lead to other things - more vocabulary - chia, salba, hemp, spirulina. 

Now my focus has turned to the work of pioneering doctors (Esselstyn, Campbell, Barnard, Klaper, McDougall, etc.) and the way they are reversing diabetes and heart disease through plant-based, whole food diets. It's the most inspiring reading, watching and learning that I've ever done.  Lest we forget, I'm a fitness junkie at heart!

Which brings me back to the raw food demo last weekend.  The food was beautiful, Manuela was beautiful and I so enjoyed spending an afternoon with like-minded women but I have to admit that a raw food diet is farther out on the evolutionary spectrum then I'm ready for.  I took some great things from that class - a kickass recipe for Passionfruit Flan and this little piece of self awareness.

My evolution isn't over and neither is yours.  Keep growing, keep learning, keep eliminating and adding new foods.  Don't believe anything on the front of any food package - read the ingredients. Take a step and then take another one. As animal-free diets rise, so will the naysayers, the lobbying groups and the companies that have too much invested to just let you walk away.  Do your own research and feed your body whole food - often.  Most importantly: Enjoy your evolution!

I was inspired this week by the following interview with one of my favorites, Dr. Michael Klaper.  He is one of the most kind people and an excellent messenger.  Your time will not be wasted :)

Evolve On!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tough Run

Runing has taken on new meaning since I've been injured.  I used to be constantly striving for a longer distance or a 'little bit faster' but these days I'm ecstatic to log five miles without pain.  It took some time to let go the ego and settle into where I am but man I have learned valuable lessons. Lesson #1:  Ignoring pain for five months is a bad idea.

My running partners have also changed over the past few months.  My sweet Rachel ran until her sixth month of pregnancy but is finally resting up for delivery and my husband is running so strong that I can't keep up or run his routes - yet another ego blow but I'm still standing! So I've coerced some new girls a couple of mornings and I run alone a couple of mornings.

Which brings me to the tough run... I just can't clear it from my mind so maybe writing it down will help?

I was running alone two Sundays ago before my yoga class and decided to take a flat stretch of road to the base of a large hill and then turn around.  Hills are no friend to my hamstring these days. When I got to the base of the hill, I could hear a horrible sound over the music coming through my iPod.  I clicked it off and my ears were flooded with the sounds of a pig screaming from the house in front of me - which was also my turn around point.  It was the most awful sound I had ever heard. Wailing terror is the best I can describe it.  And then a man screaming awful guttural noises while killing the pig.  And then many other pigs screaming in fear.  I cannot express how loud it was.  In the driveway a refrigerated truck sat idling.  A woman was sitting with her legs dangling out of the open truck door, her head in her hands, covering her ears.

I panicked.  Tears sprang to my eyes and I didn't know what to do, how to make it stop.  Without much thought, I plowed forward up the hill.  It hurt like hell but it seemed the best way to get away from the sound.   But instead the sound travelled upward with me and resounded across the hillside as I climbed the switchback.  Having only my legs to carry me felt like the classic nightmare of running but getting nowhere.  I couldn't get my iPod loud enough and I couldn't keep the tears at bay.  It was truly awful.

I don't know whether I ran far enough or if the noise stopped but when I could no longer hear it and could no longer see the road through my tears, I stopped.  I squatted low and prayed for the pigs and prayed that whoever sat down to dine tonight would somehow think of the life that had been taken so violently. And I prayed that the woman in the truck who could not listen could also not partake of the pork - that her heart had been touched in some way. Probably silly on my part but even as I sit here typing, I am overcome.

The sounds stayed with me through my yoga class and I have had a hard time shaking the whole experience.  I watched a few slaughterhouse videos when I was becoming a vegetarian as a way to "seal the deal" but I have never been physically close to a slaughter before that run.  I drove by that house last night on my way home and saw another truck in the driveway with two people milling around the front yard.  I rolled my windows up tight and cranked the stereo but I could not stop my eyes from watering as I gunned it up the hill.

I was reminded of a famous quote by Paul McCartney - "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian."

True enough Sir Paul.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Half Year In Review

The last thing I remember was a New Year's party and suddenly it's June 30.  Half of my last year on Barbados is gone. What?

Time to admit my shortcomings review my progress on my half year goals of 2013.  Annual goals are just too "out there" for me and the statistics on successful New Year's Resolutions suggest that I'm not alone.  Setting my goals and reviewing them publicly is the best way I've found to get sh*t done!

To recap my 2013 half year goals:
1. Publish 26 blog posts by June 30
2. Get half marathon time under 2:10
3. Simplify our stuff in anticipation of a move
4. Pass my Precision Nutrition Exam
5. Send a birthday card to every family member
6. Complete the Great Train Race across Barbados in February

Oh dear.  Mixed bag.

I've taken the blog posts down to the WIRE.  THIS is the 26th post for 2013.  I only posted once in April and twice in May (for absolutely no reason) and it placed me squarely behind the 8 ball.  When I'm writing consistently, I have no problem coming up with topics, recipes, etc. but when I take a break it's like my brain goes dead.  At least I can rack this up in the "completed" column.  Frankly, I need it!

Taking a good long injury break from running made #2 impossible.  I needed the break more than anything and honestly, taking the time off was much harder than getting the 2:10.  All runners know this.  It killed me to drop from Pittsburgh and the months spent running down down down into more pain did a number on my mind.  After a rest, adjustments to some of my yoga postures and great chiropractic care, I'm running up up up into the light of day.  That 2:10 will be mine!

I'm giving myself an A++ for simplifying our lives. After two brutal garage sales I have NOTHING in any closet or dresser that is located outside my bedroom.  My kitchen is pared down to the essentials (read: Vitamix).  I have eliminated all but three small boxes of important documents and I have scanned our entire life into the computer - which is now backed up locally and remotely AND our credit is protected by LifeLock.  BAM!

Not taking the PN exam is killing me.  I have procrastinated this for 6 months.  Time management is the problem here and I have no one to blame.  I only have the final quarter of the material to go through but the information at the beginning of the course is the hardest to retain (cell structure, energy production systems, etc.) so when I fall off the study train I feel the need to go back and review from the beginning before plowing through the final bit of material.  I need to move this goal into a shorter range category.  Like, 30 days.  Get it DONE Lauren.

I sent not one single birthday card.  And it's not that I don't care... I really do care.  I call family on their birthdays but getting a card from our crappy card shop and ordering stamps online (it's my only option with our APO mail system) is something that I just don't do.  I think this goal might be physically impossible for me :)

And here we are - my favorite goal of all - The Great Train Race.  Yes!  Completed it and became only the 17th or 18th (depending on how you list me and the huz) people to complete the whole race as individual runners.  It was an amazing day that definitely pushed my limits, both physical and mental.  I can only hope that our move date will allow for one more crack at it in February!

So there you have it.  I'm working on a list of goals for the remainder of 2013 which I'm sure will get blown to hell once we get our next assignment.  I am a madwoman once the next location is revealed!

I know that a few of you posted your own goals in response to my New Years post.  I would love to hear from you! How's it going?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Year Without Illness

Well here it is!  It's been one year since we travelled out to California for the Western States 100 and one year since either me or my husband has had so much as a sniffle.  No annual cold, no losing my voice, no flu - no nothing!

It's estimated that 65% of marathon runners contract an upper-respiratory tract infection within two weeks following a marathon.  The many weeks of training, the travel, the stress (and ultimately the joy!) all take a toll on the body.  But because the body is a freakin' miracle, it will sustain you to the finish line and then "get sick when it can".  Between me and my husband, we ran five marathons in the past year and beat those odds every single time.  Coincidence?  Fluke?  I think not.

You might be thinking "Sick? You live in Barbados. It's not cold. There's no winter. When would you get sick anyway?" But it's not cold weather that makes you sick, it's germs from people.  This heat is like an incubator and every day thousands of tourists from around the world are touching the things that I'm touching - hand rails, bathroom doors, bar tops :)  I also work in a building with a closed ventilation system.  Our windows don't open and all of the entrances are air locked. When someone sneezes on floor 1, eventually I'm breathing it on floor 4.  Gross but true.  A few years ago I tried to quickly take off my nail polish at my desk and got a complaint about "fumes" 20 minutes later from a worker two floors below me. Like I said - gross. 

So what has changed this year?  We've been drinking green shakes with 100% consistency.  We haven't missed a single day in the last year.  I've never done ANYTHING with this much consistency!  For the first few months it was an effort and I had to tape my running schedule/calendar to the fridge at eye level and cross off the days "prison style". Now that we're addicted - no calendar required.

Sometimes I make the shakes right after a run.  Sometimes a little before I start with my clients at 11:00 a.m. Sometimes I substitute a shake for dinner and I've had a few nights 'out' that required a bedtime shake.  What could be better than slamming a green shake before bed and letting it work its detoxifying magic while I sleep off a few well-intentioned rums?   

We've used Enerprime by Impax for the most part but recently started switching up with ORAC-Energy Greens by Paradise Herbs two days per week.  I think both are fantastic and I like the variety of ingredients.  Our shakes have developed over time.  My last post about the shakes was Shake It Don't Break It.    To those ingredients I now add 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed, 2 tablespoons of hemp protein powder and 1 bunch of kale when available.  All of these extras are just me playing around and seeing how many calories and nutrients I can get into one blender.   No need to get bogged down in any specialty ingredients.  The important thing is to get those greens in!

If you feel that your immune and digestive systems aren't all they could be or if you aren't getting at least 10 servings of vegetables per day why not consider a greens powder/shake?  It can't hurt to consistently use one container of greens. Roll the dice!  If you can stay free of illness, your body is free to regenerate itself and do the other 1 million amazing things it does!

Reset the clock... I'm going for two years!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Baking Soda Experiment

Picture taken from "Daily Inspirations For Healthy Living"
Day One:

Although washing your hair with baking soda and rinsing with vinegar costs almost nothing, it requires some set up.  I put a container of baking soda, a small ramekin, a spoon and an old toothbrush in the shower and then cleaned out an old shampoo bottle to store the vinegar mixture.

About twice per week I use baking soda as an exfoliant on my face and I brush my teeth with it every other day.  Did I mention that Crest ProHealth mouthwash turned my teeth BROWN?  Oh yes - I almost died.  You can read about this train wreck of a product here.  The baking soda brushing has finally restored my teeth to normal - almost.  Never buy that product. Ever.

For the vinegar rinse I used one shot glass of white vinegar and 4 shot glasses of water + 2 drops of lavender essential oil in the old shampoo bottle.  Because everything should smell like yoga!

I got a tip to use the baking soda 'shampoo' asap once the water is added so I mixed it in the ramekin while in the shower.  2 big spoons of baking soda and 6 spoons of shower water.

The first dollop went on my face to exfoliate.   Then I moved onto my hair and scrubbed the baking soda into the roots only.  I did not pull it through the ends.  I let it sit for three minutes.  While it was "baking" I dipped the old toothbrush into the remaining mixture and used it to clean my wedding ring.

When I rinsed, I panicked a little.  My hair felt like it had expanded into 50 strands of rough twine.  I double checked that my "real" conditioner was in the corner - safety net. Then I rinsed with the vinegar/lavender/water by tipping my head back and letting it run through.  Surprisingly, my hair suddenly felt conditioned.  Weird.

Dried my hair as usual.  My hair is pretty fluffy but feels a little like I didn't wash it.

6:00 p.m. - During yoga (outside) I can smell vinegar when I break a sweat.  Not cool.

Day Two:

8:00 a.m. - Same wash/rinse regiment.  My hair feels dirty and thick after blowdrying.  Not a good look.  I'm hosting a lunch time party at work today that will require lots of running around outside so I'm packing a pony tail holder just in case.

4:00 p.m. - Hair was a mess and was relegated to pony tail for the party.  I never thought I looked much like Robert Pattinson but...

Now I have dinner out with people I've never met.  I can't go out like this - I'm washing my hair with shampoo.  Sorry.

Day Three:

8:00 a.m. - Nothing special today but I have another party tonight.  I'm torn.

8:15 a.m. - I became "un-torn" when I got into the shower, 'washed' my hair with baking soda and then realized that I forgot to mix the vinegar rinse in the kitchen before I got in the shower.  This is a sign from God.  I am not made for this "no-poo" routine.

Day Four:

8:00 a.m. - I thought briefly about washing with Baking Soda but realized that even if my scalp adjusted and my hair looked great, I have too many grays and root touch ups to use baking soda as shampoo.  Why color and then strip it out?

Relieved.  I happily washed my hair with L'Oreal Sulfate Free Shampoo and Conditioner.

The baking soda is back in the refrigerator where it belongs :)

I know a lot of you wanted to try this so PLEASE give it a shot and let me know how it goes for you. I have a feeling that my fine hair just wasn't the right texture to make this work.  I would love to hear your experience!  Good Luck!


Friday, June 14, 2013

The Queen of Cooler Nation

There aren't enough words in the English language to adequately express the importance of a cooler bag when you're trying to improve your diet and subsequently, your health.  Being prepared with whole, minimally processed foods is the number ONE thing you can do - not working out with a trainer, taking a CrossFit class or going to yoga.  Those things are all beneficial but only worth a small hill of beans unless you've cleaned up your food.  It is impossible to "out work" a bad diet.  Number ONE is eating whole foods that are cooked by you and are available in the moment you are hungry.

Every single day, I hear at least one person complain about the cafeteria at work and/or the food options available nearby - too expensive, too Bajan, too American, too oily, not enough variety, ran out of food - blah, blah, blah.  Packing a cooler will eliminate this entire conversation (and a boat load of crappy calories) from your life.  Problem solved.

Do I look like a huge geek with my cooler bag?  Yes. Absolutely.  Do I care?  Absolutely not.

Here are my handy tips toward getting you to join Cooler Nation:

The size of your bag may take some trial and error.  I started with one too small, then I tried on my husband's for size and it was too big.  When transporting food and drinks, too big can leave you with a huge mess of spilled beverages and soggy food.  When you sling it over your shoulder it needs to be pretty full to keep things upright.  I also needed dry storage for my appointment book, phone, pens, wallet and ever-present lip gloss.  (I'm hearing the collective gasp of women who are realizing that I use my cooler bag as a purse. Guilty as charged.)

This is the one that finally won my heart:

This bag was developed for flight crews and has every available luxury.  You can read more on Amazon at the provided link but can I say that the dry storage on top and the front are both expandable and have zippered interior mesh pockets to keep everything organized.  It also has a zip out liner in the cooler section for easy cleaning.  The two side pockets unzip to hold different size water bottles.  It comes in several colors and has been incredible durable.  I beat the crap out of this thing and it's shown no wear and zero leaking.  I love this bag. 
eBags Crew II

The interior space will not stay cold all day in the Barbados heat without some of these:

I cut them down to fit our two coolers and I still have two sections to spare each day.  Ultimately, I forget to refreeze my sheets at least once per week.  Thank goodness for the extras!
Flexible Ice Sheets

For drinks, please invest in a few 24 oz Tervis Tumblers.  Anyone who has seen me in public knows I am never without my "big cup".  Get two to start and purchase the plastic lids.  The cups are incredibly durable and you need this amount of liquid - especially in the heat.  They will never leave a ring on a table and they're great at the beach, tailgate, the gym.

The knock-offs are cheaper but when it comes to insulated cups - you absolutely get what you pay for.  The cooler bag will fit two Tervis Tumblers and your lunch and snacks.   Our house has been pared down to Tervis Tumblers and wine glasses. Stay Classy San Diego!
Tervis Tumbler 24 oz

To store snacks, I use SNACK SIZE Ziploc bags.  Snacks are supposed to be small and it's way too easy to fill a sandwich size bag with calorie dense foods and then call it a "snack".  "I'll only eat half" rarely works.  It takes 20 minutes for the brain to get a satiety signal from the stomach.  Using a small bag helps control the portion while your brain waits for the signal.

To store meals, I use a variety of containers that all share one common characteristic:  They must not hold more food than will fit in my two cupped hands.  That's the size of the stomach and filling up to just 80% of that will allow space for digestive enzymes to do their work.  Again, planning to eat "just eat half" doesn't work for me so I resort to guiding my portions via tupperware.  Whatever it takes! 

Here are a just a couple of the lunches & snacks that travel in my cooler bag:

Black bean, quinoa and avocado wrapped in a gluten-free wrap - then sealed in a zip loc.
Sauteed tofu, broccoli & edamame with sweet chili sauce.
Lentils with diced Field Roast Italian 'Sausage'
Tomato soup and a black bean burger.
NuGo Dark Chocolate Mint Bar (discovered in Pittsburgh.  I love)
Enerprime Green Shake in a Tervis Tumbler
Snack bag of soaked and portioned almonds.  Nuts = big trouble if not portioned.
Snack bag of unsalted soy nuts and Craisins
Homebaked Lentil Crackers (recipe found in Thrive by Brendan Brazier)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Biggest Label Scam EVER

I consider myself a pretty astute food consumer and yet I am still astounded by the trickery of food manufacturers.  While the following may be perfectly legal, I call total b.s.

After watching Forks Over Knives, I started to spend a lot of time reading up on the effects of fat, cooking with oil, etc.  Dr.'s Esselstyn, Campbell, Barnard and many others recommend removing oil from the diet but I took that to be for people who were already consuming a lot of fat in the Standard American Diet or those with signs of Metabolic Syndrome - i.e. don't pour fat on fat.   I don't get a lot of fat in my diet unless it's from natural non-animal sources (avocado, nuts, ground flaxeed) but I believed that cooking with a bit of olive oil or non-stick spray wasn't a biggie.  In fact, cooking with olive oil was a little luxury while non-stick spray was making a huge appearance in my kitchen. 

Then I spent an entire evening watching talks by Nutritionist and Registered Dietician Jeff Novick. I love him btw.  (I swear sometimes he was married to Miranda on Sex In The City) He's a straight talker who has a crazy passion for pulling apart the nutrition myth of the day, analyzing the clinical data and then literally obliterating the theory.  I love facts - ergo - I love Jeff Novick.

Here's the video that set me straight about my friend PAM.  More than anything I'm mad at myself for not figuring it out on my own.  Duh.

I know that we've been beat about the head and shoulders with the mantra "olive oil is good fat" but there is a whole other school of thought out there.  I'll be writing about it more in coming weeks but for now, I'm heading to the kitchen to clear out the PAM!

I encourage you to watch ANY and ALL of Jeff's videos on YouTube.  It takes a battle mentality to earn our good health. Jeff and many others can arm you with the knowledge!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Orange Food

I saw an add for Popeye's Chicken where they featured three different "combos".  It dawned on me that all of the food was completely orange.  No other colors (or God forbid vegetables) were included in any of the featured meals.  This not only indicates that all of the food is deep fried BUT that the company executives looked at that ad and no one was concerned that none of the items is indistinguishable from the other.  Big baskets of orange food is what they're going for.

And yet, each morning as I head into work with my 32 oz green smoothie, at least one person will look at my cup and recoil at the sight of the green.  Many people make a face like they just smelled dog poop and then remark "what is the hell is THAT?"  

How did we get here?  How did the color green - the color that sustains all life through chlorophyl and oxygen, the color of green grass, palm trees and fields of produce become the color of disgust?  How did baskets of orange food that don't contain a single actual 'orange' become desirable?

Do me a favor and Google Image "vegetarian meals" and behold the color of life, health, vitality and nature.  Get inspired to bring LIFE and COLOR to your table and share the message with everyone around you.  Life is too short to eat paper boxes of orange!


Chili's again - two orange ads!

Long John Silvers

Monday, June 3, 2013

Balsamic Bomb Green Beans

When I realize that I've eaten something every night for four nights, it's time to write it down.  I feel confident that you can visualize green beans so I won't wait another day to take a picture.  Tonight I ate the whole pan of beans before a camera could enter my mind.

I got this little gem from one of my clients.  Her mom has been making these green beans and she hasn't been able to stop talking about them... and now here I am... 4 days into the beans with no end in sight.  True love.

1 pounds of fresh green beans
2 cups vegetable stock
1 small yellow onion diced fine
1 or 2 cloves of fresh minced garlic
1 heaping tablespoon of Grey Poupon mustard
1 -2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Seasoning salt and pepper to taste

Snip the end of the green beans and break them into your favorite length.  Boil in vegetable stock until slightly softened but still have some snap to them.

In a large skillet, saute finely chopped onions and garlic in a bit of non-stick spray.  You can also ladle some of the vegetable stock from the beans into the skillet to help the onions along without using additional oil.

Strain the beans and add them to the skillet for about 5 minutes or until desired doneness.  Green beans are a personal thing - cook em' til ya like em.

In a small coffee cup, mix the Grey Poupon and balsamic vinegar until a delicious dressing comes together.  You can't go wrong here with measurements - just keep adding what you like until it's done to your liking.  Spoon the dressing in with the beans and toss to coat.  Turn the heat off  and take the pan to the living room to devour in front of the television.

I can't get enough.  I made two pounds of beans tonight - enough for me and the huz - 2 hours later all of mine and over half of his are gone.  I keep circling the kitchen like a little green bean vulture.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Spending Your Four Pounds

Here's a fun little fact from my Precision Nutrition course:

The average person feels satiated at approximately 4 pounds of food per day.

Of course, when we use food as an emotional pacifier, we never feel full.  But physically speaking, most people need to ingest about 4 pounds per day to feel "satisfied".  Not stuffed, not starved.  This isn't new news.  People have been talking about nutritional food density and volume for a long time but the 'four pounds' is interesting to me.

The study actually came back at 3-5 pounds of food depending on body size.  So I'm probably around 3.5 lbs and my husband might be 4.5 but for practical purposes, I'm sticking to 4 pounds.  Plus, it's probably more realistic - I'm an eater!   

So...how to spend the 4?   Does your 4 pounds contain 3000 calories? 1000?  Does that 4 pounds of food contain the nutrition necessary to fuel your workouts, rebuild your muscle tissue and aid in digestion?  


My lunch today was a skillet FULL of broccoli florets, shelled edamame and half a brick of cubed tofu. It weighed 1 pound but came to just under 300 calories.

A Burger King Whopper with cheese weights weighs just under 1/2 pound and totals 1010 calories  (670 without cheese).  4 pounds of Whopper would add 8080 calories to your body.

Obviously, a Whopper isn't on my list of options but there are some vegetarian options that make me ask the question "Is this a good way to spend my 4 pounds?"

-   1/2 pound of pasta cooked (no sauce - no nothin) is approximately 250 calories

-   1 Field Roast sausage is under 1/4 pound and comes in at 240 calories

-   1/2 pound of Vegan chocolate cake is approximately 460 calories  (an 8 oz slice - not huge)

Spending a 1/2 pound on pasta, as lovely as that would be, would yield only trace amounts of protein, vitamins or minerals.  Whereas my lunch skillet aided my body in all those areas. 

Where nutrition is concerned, the subject matter can always go deeper and there are many things to consider. Sometimes the information can be paralyzing, even for a nutrition junkie!  If you're feeling overwhelmed, framing your daily intake with the intent to maximize those 4 pounds can help to turn down the nutritional noise.  Just remember to 'spend' wisely.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pittsburgh Marathon Recap

Is it possible or even "couth" to recap a race I didn't run?  I have no idea but here goes nothin'...

First, I have to start by saying that Pittsburgh is a cool city.  I had no idea.  Vibrant neighborhoods, many venues on the water, lots of revitalization, major sports teams, AND the people are really nice.  After living in some places that are beautiful and/or "cool" with crappy people - I've come to value nice people above all else.  So "yeah" on Pittsburgh.

'Loft' at Station Square - Lots of veg options!

Race security was tight as expected but it certainly makes things more difficult when you've got 25,000 nervous runners needing to use the bathrooms, checking their race bags and trying to find their corrals.  The corrals were arranged down the city streets like a wagon wheel with a cleared circle in the center.  They started the race in waves, letting each corral empty completely before releasing the next.  We had plenty of warning that corrals would completely close 10 minutes prior to the start and that NO bags of any kind were allowed in the corrals.  Did that stop hundreds of runners from waiting until their corrals were closed to try to get in?  No.  They had to wait outside the gates until all of the corrals had been released before they got go.  Hats off to the security personnel at the race.  They pissed a lot of people off but they held strong and I glimpsed the NEW marathon security.

I did secure an awesome vantage point at the center of the wagon wheel!  NOTE:  If you ever run Pittsburgh, LIE about your projected finish time.  Congratulations, you are now 30 minutes faster! If you don't, you'll be stuck in Corral E.

Corral C heading for the start

Corral D being released

Mark heading out with Corral E

In Corral E, it took Mark 27 minutes to get to the start line.  Once all the runners had gone and I got over the whole unfairness of it all, I tried Starbucks but the line was 50 deep so I headed to the only vantage point I would get that day.  The runners cross seven bridges (I think) and at mile 5 one of the bridge crossings tucks back into downtown close to the start line.  I made my way over to to sit on a freezing cold steel girder - my Barbadian butt was cccoold - but I managed to get a good pic of Staci!

Adorable gal in blue waving at me!  Go Staci!

After the bridge (I was fiddling with the camera when Mark ran by - no pic!) I happened upon a more reasonable coffee shop where I met a gal standing in line.  We hit it off immediately after confessing that we had both dropped from the race due to injury.  Sole Sisters!   We had coffee together and walked around the city for an hour or so before making our way to the finish line and a good vantage point in the sun.  Not the usual stress one experiences at a marathon :)

Then I got the call that my sister-in-law had walked off at mile 17.  We had feared it because she was exhausted from a home remodel and under-trained for this race but it was still a sad call to get.  The medics would arrange for transport back to the start line and we would reconvene in the family meet-up under the letter M.  That was the plan. Then her cell phone battery died.

Then a text from my father-in-law in Raleigh.  He had gotten NO texts on Mark's progress since the 10K mark.  Great.  Jodi had dropped and Mark was unaccounted for.  Things are shaping up nicely.

Tick tock - I'm standing about a quarter mile up from the finish line trying to figure out the math... if Mark got over the line in about 25 minutes, subtract that from the race clock.  Getting a 4:30 would shave 15 minutes off his normal time - which would be awesome.  Did he drop out?  How would I know?  Think positive.  Start looking diligently in about 12 - 15 minutes... Then "BABE!  HERE I AM!"  Mark came whipping around the corner for the finish a full 32 minutes ahead of schedule!  I couldn't believe it.  Tears!  Jealously!  More Tears!  Happiness!

I pulled it together in time to get this photo...

High Fiving the nephew!
Once we walked back to the family meet-up to look for Jodi, Mark was lounging in the grass under the letter M, eating bananas.  Absolutely no sign of the cramps that have plagued his last few races.  We got him on Salt Sticks after the race across Barbados and it looks like they did the trick.

It took another 2 hours for the medics to get Jodi back to us and with her cell phone dead, it was definitely a nail biter.  We fanned out to cover all of the medical tents we could walk to and obsessively checked with the Missing Runner desk.  We even went back to the parking garage to make sure she wasn't sleeping on the hood of the car!   In the end, she was more mentally wounded than anything. Still processing the fact that she actually walked off the course.  But no matter how many you've done, the distance is nothing to be trifled with.  The marathon demands respect and it comes in the form of rest and preparedness.  You can't fool the marathon :)

The takeaway:  The Pittsburgh Marathon is well organized with lots of crowd support in each of the nine neighborhoods.  Mark couldn't stop raving about the quality of the bands along the course.  There are 25,000 runners between the marathon, half-marathon and relay marathon. Parking in the city and getting to the race was easy.  The weather can be a wildcard - last year it was 90 degrees on the day!  But I guess that's all part of the challenge.  The expo and race bag were both good.  I discovered a Pittsburgh company that makes the best tasting protein bar on the planet - NuGo.  All of the bars are vegan, gluten-free - and completely delicious.  Try the dark chocolate mint if you get a chance.

And finally, watching runners run is hard when you're an injured runner.  I cannot tell a lie.  I was as gracious and as supportive as possible but I teared up a few times and cursed every little twinge in my back as I watched the race pass me by.  I know that I'll be back in the game soon enough but that will be the last marathon I watch for awhile :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Eating Boston

It's taken the tragedy of Boston to pull me out of my informal April Writing Hiatus.  It all happened just a few days ago but it feels like it's been in our lives for much longer.  The images confirm the worst fears I've had each time we've run the Marine Corps Marathon and they also dig into memories of 9/11 that are always just below the surface.

We have family in Boston who have jobs that by all rights could've put them at the site of the bomb blasts and I am so thankful that all are safe.  I am reminded again about lamenting the 58 seconds that one of my best girls came up short in trying to qualify for Boston this year.  We were all heartbroken for her - and now what are we?  Thankful about that 58 seconds?  Thankful it wasn't them? Would her husband have been standing at the finish waiting for her when the earth shook?   What if they'd bombed the start line where the 27,000 runners were gathered together?  What if, what if...

If you've ever stood at the start line of a marathon - adrenaline coursing through your body as you anticipate the gun - you know that this whole mess touches us both as Americans and as runners.

I'll be wearing one in Pittsburgh in 18 days!

The resiliency, determination and support of running communities around the world has been a true inspiration and source of pride.  But unfortunately, the source of comfort I've chosen is food. Literally, I've been eating my feelings about Boston.  This isn't shocking news - most all of my clients have eaten their emotions all the way to my doorstep.  The most valuable work we do together is getting to the root of why and then eradicating it from their lives.  In my case, I know exactly why.  No mystery there!

My Boston Binge has lead to some serious stomach aches and a general feeling of malaise.  With each news cycle comes another empty bag of chips.  News of an arrest - and then no arrest... chalk up two more massive burritos smothered in hot sauce.  The phone rings, I don't answer it - I'll have a bowl of roasted peanuts instead.   No two ways about it - I have been shoveling it down for the past 2.5 days.

This morning I woke up and called a halt to the madness and declared a news blackout in the house for the next 24 hours.  No matter the Breaking News - I will just have to learn about it tomorrow.   I also did something I loathe - cancelled all of my clients.  I had to admit that today I cannot kickbox, burpee or mountain climb.  I am not fit to motivate, yell, encourage or torture.  My digestive system and nerves are a wreck.  There. I said it.

The way I've chosen to clean my internal house is to eat only liquid or liquified foods for the next couple of days.

On the menu for today...

6:30 a.m. - 32 oz of warm lemon water
7:00 a.m. - Large Enerprime shake
10:00 a.m. - Another large Enerprime shake with extra hemp protein powder
1:00 p.m. - Pureed homemade soup of roasted tomatoes, carrots and yellow split peas
2:00 p.m. - 32 oz of warm water
4:00 p.m. - more of the soup

I've tried to keep a steady stream of liquids and calories all day long.  The goal is to not feel 'full' at any point today.  I'll finish off with more soup and warm water tonight, along with an easy yoga practice in minimal light and an early bedtime.

Reverting to a day of liquid of food is a tool you can use at any time of stress in your life. Setting the 'reset' button is good for you and everyone around you.  Just ask my husband :)

The final way I've chosen to get over this is by writing about it.  Being sad about Boston (or the state of this world for that matter) is normal.  Keeping our words and thoughts positive is important but that doesn't magically erase anger and fear.  If you've found yourself 'eating Boston' I hope this post helps you recognize it and put a stop to it when you're ready.

Going for a run doesn't hurt either.

Here's to a brighter and more peaceful tomorrow.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Well, It's Official...We're Running Pittsburgh!

A new city.  Our first spring race.  Our first hilly course!  I'm EXCITED!

Yo Pittsburgh!
As you might have picked up, I've been having some ankle/arch issues which have turned out to be (by my best estimation) Posterior Tibial Tendonitis.  Because runners have a love/hate with looking up their aches and pains online (we go from "a little kink" to "death by foot cancer" in under 12 minutes!), I waited for a few months before finally giving it the Ol' Google.

I had a good laugh when the first result was..."PTT is highly prevalent in active women over the age of 40".  Consider me diagnosed.  Thankfully, the injury is pretty common and the treatment is something I can handle myself.   So I'm on Recovery Road and feeling better about KNOWING what the heck is happening.

Because of the injury and indecision about my running, I'd put off registering Mark for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  I've got pain after about 10 kilometers.  How exactly will I be running 42? Anyone?

I put it off one day too many and the race sold out yesterday!  That's when God stepped in and took the wheel :)  After my panic over the bright red SOLD OUT sign, I went to Facebook and the first entry under "Bib For Sale" was a couple who had a marathon bib AND a half marathon bib for sale.   I knew it immediately -  It's time to run my first stateside half marathon!  The body is saying no no no to the full but I'm sure I can rock a half.  I contacted the couple and had both bibs in my hot little hands within a couple of hours.  Thanks Nick Williams!

In all of this I realized that somehow I've become a girl who runs a few marathons a year and will say yes to almost anything.  No IDEA how that happened.  Actually, that's a lie.  I know exactly how it happened.  I started setting seemingly ridiculous goals when I turned 40 and the train hasn't stopped since.

Stop eating animals when you (think you) love meat.
Run your first half marathon when you (think you) hate running.
Start a blog to chronicle your experiences even though you truly believe that no one will read it.
Be honest in every single word.

Quit your government job and get back to your first love.  The gym. Boxing. Clients. Sweat.
Run The Marine Corps Marathon - your first.  Finish with a smile on your face.

Say YES to pacing at the Western States 100.  Soak up every moment.
Run your second MCM and see what you can do.

Say YES to running your first 25 mile trail race all the way across the country you love.
Start selling whole, plant-based food from your kitchen.  Take the next step.  Be a benefit to others.
Say YES to Pittsburgh.  Do what you can.  Just keep running!
Set your sights on an Ultra Marathon attempt in August.
Try the Raleigh Marathon in October.

There have been many smaller races and goals along the way but these are the highlights.  Not because I'm blowing the Lauren Horn, but because I have been motivated throughout the years by women who didn't start running until their 40's.

Sure, I felt kinda crappy about it.  "I'm only 29 and she's 40 and running her first marathon.  I suck!  Wouldn't that be cool?  Can I be her?  No.  That looks hard.  I hate running."

It's the same feeling we ALL get when watching the ParaOlympics or the veteran doing an Ironman after losing a leg in one of our wars, or the 65 year old woman crossing the finish line at Western States 100, or the father pushing his mentally disabled son in a Jeep-inspired wheel chair across all 50 States.  "My God.  They're doing THAT and I can't get my ass out of bed to get to the gym?"

But the inspirational story fades.  You turn the channel and the Ironman coverage is replaced by the Sunday NFL game - bust out the vegan nachos and settle in!  The father and the wheelchair, the veteran-turned-athlete, the woman who didn't start running until she turned 40 - all of them live somewhere in your mind.  Deep in the back of the brain closet.

One thing I've learned is that there is ALWAYS someone doing 'more and faster' than me.  I have to let it motivate me - not stifle or deter me.  I'm happy that I can sign up for a marathon and not worry (much) about my ability to complete it.   I love that I can run a half marathon any day of the week and not give it a thought.

But there is always the friend who runs a marathon an hour (or more) faster than I do.  The friend who is an Ironman.  The friend who runs 100 mile races through the mountain ranges of California - it goes on an on.  Their accomplishments drop my jaw on any given day and my abilities may inspire my clients to do better because I'm a little older than them.  All relative.  All good.

So, set your ridiculous goals and start stepping toward them.  You will not be disappointed.

See you in Pittsburgh on May 5, 2013!  Cinco De Mayo Margaritas to follow...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Simplify - Plan and Scan

Simplifying is well underway.  On Saturday we took a huge step and sold a TON of stuff at a multi-family yard sale.  Any blogger worth her salt would've taken photos of the stockpile or the car packed up like a giant Jenga tower but I was too hot, sweaty and frankly over it.  "Surry!"

We've done mild purges at other yard sales but this one had the distinction of including most of my husband's tools and "man things".  It was hard to watch.  Many of the items were purchased while we restored and renovated "the beast" in Wilmington.  Strangely, even I felt some emotional attachment to a few of items.. the knee pads I wore for a year while hand refinishing the floors, my level, sanding blocks that smoothed my old kitchen cabinets and the wedgy-thing I used to lift at least 1000 carpet nails.  All of them went for next to nothing but I was happy to see them find new life.

In addition to the Vitamix that must be mentioned in every post we have another new addition to the family.  Meet my Fujitsu ScanSnap!  "Fuji" for short.

Fuji McHugh
The Scan Snap (for Mac) is helping me meet my simplification goals by scanning everything in my 15 boxes of files.  We are going totally digital and the boxes we've toted for 12 years are slowly starting to dwindle. The cost of this scanner is ridiculous (much like the Vitamix) but here's why it's awesome:

1.  It's small, sleek and darned-near stylish.  It doesn't bug me that it's on the desk.
2.  It's lightning fast.  I scanned a 10 page magazine article, both sides simultaneously in under 10 seconds.
3.  It never ever jams or takes two pieces at a time.  I've scanned everything from business cards to legal size paper.
4.  The software is perfect.  I scan something and a little box comes up and asks me where to put it on my iMac. Photo? Documents? Email it? Share it?  Zero problems with it so far.

Of course, going digital requires finally getting serious about backing up my computer and making our information safe and secure.  I'd like to admit right now that due to not backing up, I've lost my iTunes THREE times in the last 10 years.  No way to replace the music... just gone. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars completely down the drain and completely my fault.  No more!  I've done the following:

1.  Signed up for Life Lock to protect our identification and our credit reports.
2.  Bought a large external hard-drive to run Mac's "Time Machine" program continually.  My computer is continually backing up here at the house.  I chose a My Passport for Mac at 1 TB of storage.  More than I need but who cares?
3.  After MUCH deliberation and research galore, I chose Crash Plan for online backup of our computer.  This was a long process and I won't bore you with the whole dilemma but I read more techno-nerd articles than you can imagine.  The biggest complaint about online backup is that it slows the computer down or doesn't work quite right with Mac.  Crash Plan runs perfectly in the background and hasn't slowed my computer a bit.  The initial backup to their site took about 15 days but now it backs up every hour by searching for changes I've made and updating only those items.  Meaning, if I ever crash our information is current to the moment and I never have to "remember" to back up.  Because I will never remember to back up.  Best to know who you are, admit it, and find services that compliment your weaknesses.  There is always someone who 'does that'.  Find them.

Finally, before I signed up I called to test their customer service and was helped in an instant by someone who spoke perfect English.  This is the last place you want to mess with a company that has poor customer service.

So far, I highly recommend going digital with the papers of your life.  I also highly recommend selling or donating everything you haven't touched in the last 6 months - except your Christmas tree :)

There is a sense of freedom and calmness that washes over me when I slide a closet door to find it completely empty or open the drawer of a barren dresser.  We're cutting ties to all that holds us down and back... one little string at a time!    

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pumping Up Your Enerprime Shake

Enerprime is my favorite 'foodstuff' on the planet but sometimes I need to bolster our shakes with more calories.  You don't have to have crazy running/training days to need more calories - just an active life or a time crunch in the morning.  Why make a shake and breakfast when you can hit both at the same time?

Also, any additional nutrition that you can pump in via liquid is that much easier on the digestive system.

When your digestive system is at ease, your body has more time to shore up your immune system, replace dying cells with brand-spankin-new ones and build lean muscle tissue.  Every time something enters your mouth, it literally becomes you.  Is it a food that boosts your health OR is it causing your body to work harder to a) identify it, b) break it down and c) get it the hell out?  Because while your body is focused on dealing with your crappy choice, it cannot focus on renewing you.

Whoops... I almost fell off my soap box!  I'll just step down...

Each shake already contains 1 tablespoon of Enerprime, 1 banana per person and 1/4 cup Apple, Pear or Pineapple juice (absolutely no sugar added and not from concentrate) and 3/4 cup water.  Here are some additional items that send our shakes over the moon!

Per Person:

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed.  Flaxseed (or commonly referred to as Linseed here on Barbados) must be ground in a spice grinder or coffee grinder.  Flaxseeds in their whole form will pass directly through your gut, undigested.  1 tablespoon of flaxseed delivers 37 calories, the Adequate Intake (AI) of ALA Omega 3 fats for women and about 3 grams of fiber - mostly insoluble.

1 tablespoon Udo's 3.6.9 Oil.  Udo's is wonderful for your heart health but cannot be heated.  In fact, it needs to be refrigerated after opening.  It works in salad dressings but since I hate lettuce (see my first ever post) I find that my Enerprime shake is the best place to utilize it.  1 tablespoon of Udo's delivers 120 calories and 13 grams of perfectly balanced Omega 3 and Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids.

(I'm working on a post that breaks down Fats and Essential Fatty Acids into child-speak.  Stay tuned.)

1 small gala apple.  An apple a day... delivers 80 calories and an additional 5 grams of fiber.  If you have a Vitamix (are you SICK to death of hearing that?!) leave the seeds and core in the apple for even more liquified fiber.

1/2 cup of fresh pineapple.  Pineapple delivers 70 calories, manganese for the strength of bones, helps with the breakdown of proteins in the digestive system and also acts as an anti-inflammatory.  Plus, it tastes awesome with Enerprime.

Just a few more ways to help you SHINE on the inside!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tortilla Soup As Promised

This soup scored BIG with the husband and my pregnant-soup-loving-girlfriend Rachel - so you know it's good!

I'm so cheesy!  Pic from the cookbook -  it looked JUST like this - honest!
My mom and I based our soup on the recipe in the Vitamix cookbook but made modifications that I'll share below. 

Soup Base*:
2 Cups Vegetable Broth
2 Cups Water
3 Roma Tomatoes
6 Baby Carrots
2 Celery Stalks
1/4 Yellow Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
2 thin slices of Red Pepper
6 Mushrooms (crimini)
1 teaspoon Taco Seasoning
Dash of cumin (I ground my own from cumin seeds - a dash is all that's needed)

The Vitamix recipe called for a slice of cabbage and a slice of yellow squash - neither of which were available on our soup day.  Feel free to add - it can't hurt!

We made two batches of base - tasting the first to see what it needed for balance.  The ingredients/quantities above are the total numbers.   If you are not using a Vitamix or other high capacity blender, break the above ingredients into two batches. 

Place all base ingredients in your Vitamix (or other blender) and blend on high for 3-4 minutes, or until steam escapes from the vented lid.  

Optional Ingredients:
Crumbled Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage (amount up to you - I was feeding omnivore husband so I made quite a bit of "sausage")
1 cup of fresh, frozen or canned Mexican Style corn
10 small pitted olives
1 1/2 cup of black beans

You can drop the optional ingredients in through the top and blend on Variable 1 for an additional 10 seconds OR move the base to the stovetop and add the options.  We added everything except for the olives but I think they would've made a nice addition. 

Top with Tortilla Strips:  Cut two corn tortillas into strips with a pizza cutter, spritz with a little non-stick spray and spice to taste.  Place in the oven at 350 until crispy - about 5 minutes. 

*You could easily never try this recipe because it seems wasteful to use such a small amount of each item.  In the two days following our Joint Soup Effort, I used the leftover tomatoes, onion and garlic to make salsa.  I combined the remaining mushrooms and black beans to make veggie burgers (froze the extras) and then roasted the remainder of the red pepper and added it to my tofu/broccoli stir fry.  All used.  All good.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Welcome to the World Vitamix!

Nine years ago I gave birth to Tyson, my Dyson - and now we're welcoming my new bundle of bolts...

Precious Peanut!
No, I will never hear the pitter-patter of little feet on my kitchen floor (unless the mouse moves back in) but I will hear the grinding hummmmmm of my new Vitamix churning in the kitchen for the next 18 years.  I am overjoyed!

"Is a Vitamix overrated?"
"Is it worth $500?*"
"Why is it so much better than a blender?"

Because.  In under fifteen minutes I can blend a completely clear soup broth using raw vegetables, make creamy peanut butter using no oil, bang out some olive tapenade, and top it all off with a perfectly blended margarita.  And then it cleans itself using water and a drop of dish soap.  Truly miraculous.

I have fought with myself for MONTHS about making this purchase - just ask my yoga girls.  I swear I've laid out the pros and cons at yoga about 50 times.  I know they're internally screaming "JUST BUY THE DAMN THING ALREADY AND SHUT UP!"

In these economic times, it's not easy to part with that kind of money for a "blender" but then again... it's a Vitamix.  The King of blenders.  The One that is coveted by all vegetarians and vegans in their deepest heart of hearts.  Arguments can be made for the Blendtec or other commercial blenders but if we dig down deep enough - we find Vitamix Lust at the core.

In the end, I didn't have to make the decision or part with the cash.  My mom sent it to me for my birthday on March 2.  Here's where the * comes in:  The only way I found to get any sort of discount on a Vitamix is to take advantage of the Bed, Bath & Beyond "20% Off Any Item" coupon.  It's an online coupon issued for signing up for their email list.  This lowers the price to $400.  Outrageous? Yes.  But definitely less than $500!  Unfortunately, this coupon cannot be redeemed online for a Vitamix BUT they will honor the coupon in-store.  I asked my mom to purchase it for me and bring it down in her suitcase on her recent visit but instead she mailed it ahead of her arrival with a note that said "Happy Birthday Sweetheart!"  Awwww.

I repaid the gift my making absolutely everything in the Vitamix while she was here.  Of course, EnerPrime shakes were churned out ad nauseam but we had the most fun making the Tortilla Soup recipe in the beautiful cookbook that accompanies said "blender".  It also comes with an instructional DVD with chef Michael Symon who gave me the best pieces of Vitamix advice I've heard so far:

1.  Don't ever be afraid to work the machine.  It's smarter than you are.  It will shut itself down if it overheats and will turn back on when it's ready.  Try anything and everything - it's made to be used and abused.

2.  Don't put the Vitamix in a cabinet (mainly because it won't fit!) but leave it on the counter.  You'll find yourself using it 10 times a day.  Let it integrate into your life.

I took #2 to heart and rearranged my whole kitchen around the new baby.  The counters are cleared except for the Vitamix, a bowl of fruit for my Enerprime and a platter filled with spices. The Vitamix has center stage and I'm abusing it.

I'll post the Tortilla Soup recipe this weekend.  We made several modifications to the cookbook recipe and it came out beautifully.   Until then, just listen for the hummmmm!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Trick or Treat? BK comes to town...

I don't know if I can adequately describe what happens when Burger King opens it's first location in a foreign country.  Specifically, Barbados.  Subway opened a location here a couple of years ago and the lines were out the door for a couple of weeks.  I knew that "The King" would cause chaos.

So far, BK has made the newspaper and the nightly news, lines have been running upwards of an hour on the weekends and I have heard numerous discussions about french fry quality (Barbados v. Miami Airport) and several comments regarding the interior design!  Apparently, the new BK has "that new AMERICA smell".  Awesome.

As a personal trainer, I fear The King.  It's a daily battle to promote good food choices as it is and now I just KNOW people are talking about BK when I walk into the gym and a hush falls over the crowd.  I've seen more Burger King bags in the halls at work than I can even count.  It's depressing.  This is a country that suffers desperately with obesity and the one of the highest diabetes rates in the world.  The very last thing on this earth that's needed here is Burger King. McDonalds FAILED in Barbados a number of years ago so I assumed it would remain American-Fast-Food-Free. And we all know what "assuming" does!

The sentiment that I've heard the most is also the most troubling:

"C'mon...I should be able to "treat" myself every once in awhile."
"I'm not going every day... just for a "treat"!
"I'm just taking the kids for a "treat" to Burger King."

How does processed, fat-infused, factory farmed, salted-to-death, sugary, cheesy "crap food" become our greatest "treat"?  Our health problems and our healthcare crisis will grow and grow and grow until our "treats" become...

"The most perfect apple I ever saw!"
"A tomato so fresh, I couldn't help but just bite into it!"
"Supercentre just got new red peppers!  Get down there!"
"I brought the best banana for after lunch today!"
"I "treated" myself to a pint of blueberries."

I couldn't resist...
Maybe I sound crazy but we've got one life, one body and only one chance.  Don't blow it in a drive-thru (which is opening soon at BK - along with a second location in Bridgetown).

"The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” Dr. Ann Wigmore

"The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition."  Thomas Edison

"And we have made of ourselves living cesspools, and driven doctors to invent names for our diseases."  Plato

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”  Hippocrates