Tag Archives: health

Weighing In

I have not blogged (on my personal blog) in over a year. Thoughts pop into my head and as quickly as the seed is planted a responsibility usurps my fleeting desire to write. So, here I am, sitting at the keyboard, finally. I intended to go to bed early tonight because I went to bed far too late and got up far too early yesterday. I wanted a nice cup of mint tea before I went to bed, warm beverages put me in a sleepy mood. I opened the pantry, only to be accosted by a moth. I don’t like things flying unexpectedly at my face. So, I killed it. And then, there was another, and another…until in disgust I started removing all of the boxes from my pantry shelf to find that they had taken up residence there. There went my early bed time. I have spent the last 2 hours cleaning out my cabinet and throwing away food. At the end of the ordeal, I put my water on to boil, let my mint tea steep and I thought: “Why do I love butterflies and hate moths?” They are essentially the same, right?

Why is it that I am delighted when a butterfly lands on me, yet, I swat violently when a moth so much as dares to enter my atmosphere? I came to the conclusion that it’s because butterflies are prettier. Beautiful things get a pass in this world. If something is hideous or even slightly displeasing, we have less empathy for it; ugly things suffer. I had to let that marinate.

How must it feel to be passed over, or worse, targeted for ridicule because you are not conventionally attractive? I have been guilty in my lifetime of judging the book by it’s cover. If someone smelled bad, seemed not to care about their appearance or, heaven forbid, was obese, I judged them. I am not proud to admit it, but I was extremely intolerant of obesity.

I seized every opportunity to climb atop my fat soapbox, often going on tirades. My friends jokingly remarked that I “hated fat people,” to which a typical response would be “I don’t hate them, I just don’t want to have to subsidize their bad habits” before laying out the laundry list of ailments associated with being overweight and lamenting how I should get health insurance discounts for keeping myself in good shape.  I made insensitive comments, minimized the weight loss struggle (“just stop eating so much and so unhealthily!” I’d think when I saw a large person) and in some ways, disliked overweight people without ever having befriended one. Weightism is one of the last socially acceptable forms of discrimination.

Everyone cannot be a butterfly, but that does not make them any less worthy of love. I know that God created all things for a purpose, yes all things, even those that I do not find beautiful. In 2011 I made a conscious decision to stop speaking so venomously about people who are overweight, to start seeing them with new eyes. In the process I came to a realization about obesity: It is merely an outward manifestation of inward struggle. If we all had to wear our private battles like a badge where everyone could see, it is likely that we would stagger and fall beneath the weight of judgement.

For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you

A Veggie Field Trip: Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Typically we host the veggie dinner in the comfort of someone’s home, but not so for our November 2011 dinner. I just so happened to be listening to NPR (well, not just so, I listen to it ALL the time…) and heard that Vegan cookbook author, compassionate cook and animal advocate, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, would be speaking at Changing Hands Bookstore. Since we often discuss the impact of healthy food choices it seemed like a perfect opportunity to take this show on the road!

Colleen was a humorous and engaging speaker. Her passion for the humane treatment of animals was apparent in her talk, particularly when she characterized the consumption of animal flesh and byproducts as: “Subsisting on their stolen secretions and mutilated bodies.” She went on to discuss the human decision to ingest animals as an unnecessary evil given that unlike cats, humans are not obligate carnivores. I greatly enjoyed her talk and found it both thought-provoking and informative. I wasn’t in full agreement with her advocacy for “faux meat” I prefer to stick to whole foods, however, it was certainly a lively Q&A! I ended up purchasing Colleen’s cookbook, “Vegan’s Daily Companion,” though I’ve yet to cook anything from it 🙂

Following the discussion, we headed next door for a healthy and delicious dinner at the Wildflower Bread Company, a wonderful restaurant for those on the go in need of a quick and healthy food option.

Veggie Burgers – From Scratch!

The host of our October 2011 (yes, the blog is in need of updating) was our youngest Veggie Dinner attendee, Makenna!

She is 16 years old and planned the menu and of course, we all assisted in the preparation. So, what was on the menu?

  • Baked sweet potato fries
  • Coleslaw
  • Salad
  • Black bean burgers
  • Dump cake
This is a great go-to menu for all of those transitioning from a meat-heavy diet because it takes something familiar and turns it into delicious veggie goodness!
  • 1 bag of mixed greens (no iceberg lettuce!)
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 purple onion (finely sliced)
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 2 roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamatta olives
Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss. Serve with your favorite dressing.
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 head of purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 3/4 cups veganaise (add more or less depending on how creamy you want your coleslaw)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar (or to your taste)
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tsp celery salt
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix until all veggies are coated.
Sweet Potato Fries
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, cut into large wedges
  • Coarse Salt
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Ground Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the sweet potato
wedges in a large mixing bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper until well coated. Place on a cooking sheet in the oven. Cook for ~30 minutes, or until done.
Veggie Burgers
This is the most labor-intensive part of the meal. You will want to cook your beans ahead of time, preferably in a crockpot overnight if you have one! Our veggie burger recipe came from the book Veggie Burgers Every Which Way. Our bean of choice was the ever so versatile black bean.
Black Beans
  • 1 bag black beans (rinse and sort)
  • 1 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • seasoning salt
  • cumin
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • pepper
In a crockpot combine beans with twice as much water. Add seasonings, garlic, and onions. Stir and put crockpot on low for 8 hours (while you sleep!)
Veggie Burgers (we doubled this entire recipe since we were feeding 8)
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked beans
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 eggs, beaten (we used Ener-G egg replacer)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (for vegan burgers, you can remove this)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup toasted bread crumbs (more if needed)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped *
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped *
  • 1/2 purple onion, chopped *
  • 2 tsp olive oil *
*custom addition not in the recipe book
Combine olive oil, chopped peppers, and onion in a saucepan; saute on medium heat for ~5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375. In a mixing bowl, mash the beans using a potato masher. Fold in the eggs, parsley, Parmesan, mustard, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Fold in the bread crumbs, adding more if the mixture becomes too loose. Add sauteed vegetables and stir. Let sit for ~5-10 minutes to allow the bread crumbs to absorb moisture.

Shape the mixture into patties. In an oven-safe skillet or nonstick pan, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the patties to cook on each side until brown. Transfer to a cooking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until the burgers are firm and cooked through. These can be frozen for later!
To top your veggie burgers, you can add your favorites. We added:
  • Sliced avocados
  • Tomato slices
  • Sliced kosher dill pickles
  • Spinach
  • Mustard
Combine your toppings with your veggie burger on a whole wheat bun.
We won’t tell you how to make dump cake, it’s not good for you 🙂 but no one says you can’t Google it! Until next time…happy eating!

Risotto and Grilled Veggies

Our host for the Veggie dinner in September was Jennifer, and she treated us to a delicious dinner! The main dish, risotto, is tricky to make, but when its made right it’s really yummy! 🙂 What you’ll need:

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1 onion
  • 1 1/2 cups risotto (arborio)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 bunch parsley
You can use veggie broth or plain water, but veggie broth adds more flavor.

The important part about cooking risotto is the way you cook it. You place the risotto in the pan and pour the liquid over it until it’s just covered. As the water is absorbed into the risotto you continue to add liquid a little at a time until the risotto is fully cooked. Unlike rice, risotto can and should be stirred throughout the process.
For this recipe, cook the onions and fennel until softened but not browned. Then add the onions and the fennel to the pot with the risotto. Add the parsley, then cook the risotto. Once the risotto is cooked add the butter and the cheese. Serve with delicious grilled veggies!

The grilled veggies that our hostess served were:

  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
Veggies should be seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Grill on low heat over an open fire and voila! Delicious grilled vegetables.

In addition to the grilled veggies, Jennifer served mozzarella skewers:
  • Roma tomatoes
  • Buffalo mozzarella
  • Basil

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella drizzle with olive oil and toss in chopped basil. Spear the tomatoes and mozzarella on skewers, ready to serve!

Finally, any veggie dinner would not be complete without a dessert to top it all off, but so sorry, you can’t have the recipe…it’s a secret. Jennifer says any time you want this fantastic apple pie, she’ll be happy to make it for you! That’s it for the September veggie dinner (from 2011). Working through the backlog, so still to come: October, November AND December. Until then, as always: happy eating!!


Pesto Pasta (say that 3 times fast) and Grilled Portabellos

A day late, and a dollar short; more like a late blog but a tasty meal! In August we were treated to a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious vegetarian meal hosted by Chris and Jean. What was on the menu? Portabello mushroom filled with goat cheese or grilled spicy pepper cream cheese and topped with asparagus and balsamic reduction, bow tie pasta with pesto cream sauce, bruschetta and fresh fruit! This meal will take ~45 minutes to prepare, provided that you have helpers. Now that your mouth is watering, let’s get down to brass tacks and teach you how to make this delicious vegetable goodness.


  • 1-2 loves of French bread
  • 6 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 jar of kalamata olives
  • I jar artichoke hearts
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Chop the tomatoes and in a large bowl combine with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper (to taste), toss. Slice the onions and saute in olive oil for ~5 minutes or until soft. Drain olives and artichoke hearts and put in separate bowls for consumption. Slice and toast the French bread loaves in the oven at ~400 degrees for 5 minutes (checking to ensure you do not over-toast). Place the desired amount of each topping on a slice of toast and enjoy!

Portabello Mushrooms & Asparagus

  • Whole portabello mushrooms (1-2 for each person you are planning to feed)
  • 1 bushel of asparagus (2-3 stalks will top each mushroom, plan accordingly)
  • 1 package of goat’s cheese
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • balsamic vinegar
  • garlic (as much or as little as you like — 3 cloves is good)

Create your sauce: combine salt, pepper, olive oil balsamic vinegar, and whatever spices you like (season to *your* taste). Place the mushrooms top down on a baking sheet and drizzle the sauce over each mushroom adding some minced garlic. Bake uncovered for ~15-20 minutes, then add goat cheese (or not) and allow to melt.

Steam the asparagus until it was just starting to get soft, then toss it in salt and pepper before finishing it up on the grill (or in the oven on a baking sheet for ~5 minutes if you have no grill) to get a nice crisp finish.

Pesto Pasta

  • Basil (we don’t know how much — we like a LOT)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Toasted pine nuts
  • Garlic (~3-4 cloves)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Lemon (to taste)
  • Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, don’t cheat yourself with the canned stuff)
  • A bag of your favorite bow tie pasta (you thought we were fancy, you thought we would make it from scratch…but, no.)

Start with about 3 cloves of garlic, combined with the basil and the pine nuts and chop in a food processor, add oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. The consistency of the pesto will depend on what you’re going to use it for; more oil if it’s going on pasta, less if it’s for dipping or topping sandwiches. Add salt, red pepper flakes, and lemon to taste (put a little in, blend and see if you like it, then keep adding). We usually end up adding a couple more cloves of garlic but that’s because we like garlic a LOT. We also use really coarse salt, it helps with the texture/flavor. If you don’t have a salt grinder you can use kosher.

Boil your pasta rinse with cool water and drain. Combine the pesto and pasta in a large pot and stir until the pesto is distributed evenly. Top with grated Parmesan.

Choose your favorite summer fruit for dessert (suggestions: sliced mango, watermelon, berries, pineapple, or whatever tickles your fancy), slice, and serve!

Healthy eating does not have to be boring, or tasteless! Get out there and experiment, your taste buds (and your belly) will thank you! Our September veggie dinner was hosted by Jennifer and mmmm it was really good. I’m sure I won’t post that blog for another month, but, that gives you time to perfect this recipe, happy eating!

healthy living: because you aren’t getting any younger!

my company has a voluntary health and wellness program. each year, you can get your vital stats taken and evaluated with a health care professional, AND you get $50 for doing it!

when is the last time you had a physical? how frequently do you exercise your body? how often do you drink? how are your sleep habits? are you a smoker? do you want to have children? as we approach our 30s these vital stats become so much more important. society may have changed; 30 may be the new 20, but our bodies have not evolved to accommodate the lifestyle. the damage we do today, will now have much greater consequence than it would have in our 20s. we heal slower, and gradually become more fragile.

the simple fact of the matter is, we cannot afford to play fast and loose with our bodies and our health. if we live long enough, one day, we will be old. the life expectancy of adults in developed countries has increased by at least 10 years due to modern medicine, however, quality of life has decreased. yes, people are living longer but they are sicker. prevention is the best thing we can do to stave off disease in old age. it has to become a habit. making conscious decisions about our health should be as much a part of the life plan as that next career move! don’t think you can do it? i did, and here’s (an abbreviated version of) how…

in 2004, i noticed that i would wake up feeling like i wanted to vomit every morning. i also had stomach problems throughout the day. my mother and father raised our family using holistic medicine (tiger claw, acupuncture, detoxes, etc.), so i began looking at my diet. what was i eating? i loved cereal, and i usually had a bowl before i went to bed. i switched to soy milk. within two weeks, i stopped waking up nauseous! in the past several years, i have made many changes in the way that i live. i have been a vegetarian my whole life, but i have become much more aware of the things i put into my body. from my lotions to hair products, foods to medicines, i began reading more about nutrition. the pesticides used in farming, hormones in livestock, carcinogens in beauty products…i vowed to go organic.

the first step was to was phase out dairy and eggs. i was never a fan of eggs as it was, the texture and smell always turned my stomach, so that one was easy. i switched to sea salt, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice. i stopped buying canned vegetables, i began studying the vitamins and properties of foods, buying whole grains, and reading labels. some books that helped me along the way: “choose your foods: like your life depends on them” by dr colleen huber, and “the detox miracle sourcebook” by robert morse.

i graduated high school weighing 117. when i started college, i ate a lot of breads and pastas, my papa johns pizza bill at the end of my freshman year was $200+. my late night eating habits, and carb heavy diet (without enough corresponding exercise to burn it) kept me between 130-135 throughout undergrad. i’m only 5’2″ so 10-15 pounds on someone my size makes a big difference 🙂 my father pinched my cheeks when i came home for christmas break and told me “you’ve got a little butter on you baby!” not funny.

after graduation, i didn’t do much differently, but i was living on my own, buying my own food, and without any effort, i’d dropped down to 125. at that time, i had stopped drinking carbonated beverages. i began to make additional changes to my diet in 2006: only natural sweeteners (i.e. no high fructose corn syrup!), buying fresh foods without preservatives: i now shop more frequently. i only buy what i need as it will go bad faster, and if i’m not going to use it before it does, i cut it up and freeze. and i only drink water and fresh fruit juices…and the occasional mixed drink (caution drinkers, most alcoholic beverages are high in carbs, they don’t call it a beer belly for nothing!).

i knew that if i was changing what i was putting into my body, i also needed to pay attention to what i was putting ON to my body. i got rid of my shampoos and conditioners, started buying all natural and organic versions, and i stopped using chemicals on my hair. i am currently looking for a quality makeup line to replace my old cosmetics, since i’ve stopped wearing makeup and changed my facewash (amande pomme apple from l’occitane), i don’t get breakouts anymore (i had been thinking about going to see a dermatologist). my moisturizers (almond-aloe from earth science and alba daily shade) are all natural with spf 15+, and i just started buying green cleaning products.

to complete “the trifecta,” i wanted to be more consistent about working out. moving to arizona really spurred my exercise regimen, i didn’t have to be indoors to work out! i joined a volleyball team, i can go hiking on weekends and i love to run outside. i made a commitment to myself to work out 3 days a week, no matter what. i bought a bike in 2005, and ride it anywhere in a 5 mile radius of my home, which includes to an from work every day. 2 months ago, i purchased a nike+ personal trainer to help track my running and it has made a difference in my motivation. i set time and distance goals, and challenge myself. today, i am ~118, ~21% body fat, and working toward my second half marathon, the nike marathon in san francisco! i love feeling good and being proud of my body, and the pool parties are always a source of motivation.

i challenge you to start by taking these small steps: get a physical, and some blood work. know your cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and percent body fat. talk with your doctor about what those numbers mean, and about your lifestyle choices. identify those that may put you at risk for disease in old age, and then…change them.

my stats:

Your Current Medical Biometric Data Results Recommended Level
Blood Sugar (Glucose) 84 mg/dL Less than 100 mg/dL (fasting)
Less than 140 mg/dL (nonfasting)
Your total Cholesterol level 149 mg/dL Less than 200 mg/dL
Your LDL Cholesterol level 78 mg/dL LDL : Less than 100 mg/dL
Your HDL Cholesterol level 59 mg/dL HDL : Greater than 40 mg/dL
Triglycerides 60 mg/dL Less than 150 mg/dL (fasting)
Blood Pressure 108/58 Less than 120/80 mmHG
Height 5 feet 2 inch(es) N/A
Weight 118 lbs N/A
BMI – Body Mass Index 21.5801 Kg/meter squared BMI : 18.5-24.9
Body Fat %21.3 Men less than 25% Women less than 32%

bitter biker syndrome

i love riding my bike to work, the entire half mile commute. it takes me less than 5 minutes to get there if i catch the light just right. i go home everyday for lunch, and sometimes, catch a quick cat nap. i am helping the environment, saving on gas money, and getting a bit (albeit a very tiny bit) of exercise. so why am i bitter? i am bitter at the tax credits for people who buy hybrid vehicles. it just doesn’t seem fair. yes, it is a delayed response, the credit was enacted 2 years ago. yes i know, cry me a river, but logic should dictate that anyone who does their due diligence to ease the burden on the environment should be eligible for some sort of tax break.

granted, there are some challenges in proving that you do indeed bike to work, but what of all the commuters who take public transportation and have a monthly pass of some sort? they are helping unclog the highways for all of those hybrid vehicles. i am going to lobby for a bikers tax credit! all of those hard peddling men and women deserve to be acknowledged in some way. after all, not only are they being “green,” but also easing the burden on the health care system, working out is the best preventative medicine. people who work out should get a break for that too, or at least a reduction in their health insurance premiums, i should start a letter writing campaign to my local senator…

life is just not fair. woe is me. now i retire to wallow in my sorrow.

it’s been too long

since last i wrote a post. i try not to do this too often, but i am about to discriminate. if you are sensitive about weight, DO NOT READ THIS POST. i am about to go on a rant.

for some reason while cruising youtube last night, i came accross a video of american idol jordin sparks being heavily criticized about her weight on fox news by meme roth. in keeping with that theme, this morning on npr, i heard a story about retailers attempting to capitalize on the rapidly growing market for the obese dollar. 2/3 of the american adult population is considered to be clinically over weight…

now i don’t think that meme roth was reasonable in attacking jordin (i think she’s adorable and well within the confines of manageble weight), however, i am a strong advocate for healthy lifestyle choices and accountability. i do not like obesity. i do not mean pleasantly plump, i am talking “big medicine” heavy. the morbidly obese, excessively overweight, requiring 2 seats on a plane and a walker to get out of bed in the morning. this is an epedimic.

what i want to know is: at what point does a person wake up 400 pounds overweight? that doesn’t just creep up on you overnight. it takes years. the site livingXL.com caters to those with weight problems so severe that they need special aids, such as the $80 toe nail clippers that extend so you don’t have to , $300 heavy duty 500 lb capacity scale, and the list goes on.

i am not saying that overwieght people do not deserve to have a market that caters to them, but when i am eating healthy, working out, and paying ridiculous health insurance premiums for other people’s bad habits, i have a right to say “put down that burger and take a walk around the block!” sadly by that time, they might need a crane to get up. yes i sound like an insensitive ass, and i will admit that this is one area where i have very little sympathy. i hate that we coddle people so much in this country. china just executed their ex-food and drug safety chief for taking bribes in exchange for approving unsafe medicine, how’s that for accountability?? and no, i don’t want to live in china, but we can’t even send a liar to jail (well, aside from lil kim).

when will we stop blaming everyone else for our shortcomings and start owing our mistakes…and their consequences. there is no fat pill that will zap 300 pounds, gastric bypass is not a cure for bad eating habits, and liposuction will not prevent your fat thighs from getting fat again. lord help me if see another promise to lose 30 lbs in 30 days, did it take you 30 days to put it on? in the words of the great Al Bundy “It’s not the dress that makes you look fat, it’s the FAT that makes you look fat!” so maybe mo’nique was right, maybe skinny b*tches are evil, but being overweight is just not healthy, no matter how happy you are with being big and beautiful.