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April, 2011

  1. How to get more greens

    April 26, 2011 by Laura

    Kale, collards, turnip and mustard (ANDI 1000)

    The way I prepare these greens most often is as follows:

    For kale & collards, cut the spine out of the leaf and chop the leaf up. For the turnip and mustard greens, I just cut off the stem if it’s woody. Wash and cut the greens or make life very easy and buy a blend of “braising greens” from Trader Joe’s or the produce department.

    In a saute pan, heat a bit of olive oil and saute some crushed or minced garlic until it’s fragrant. Don’t let it burn. Add the greens and toss them around the pan to coat with oil and garlic. They’ll wilt and shrink quite bit. At this point I like to add some chicken or vegetable stock and braise the greens for 15  or 20 minutes. I am not a raw foodie. I like my greens cooked. I also add hot pepper flakes and lemon juice.

    If you want something heartier, you can add more stock, a can of diced tomatoes, and can of white beans, and some shredded Parmesan ( a little just before you serve the stew).

    Also, for the truly devoted, raw collard leaves can be used like wraps instead of tortillas.

    Spinach (ANDI 739)

    I buy washed baby spinach by the ton. I throw handfuls in smoothies, wilt it for omelets, stuff it in pitas with hummus. I mix it in with salads, but I am not a fan of the straight-up spinach salad.

    –more to come when the kids go to sleep again.



  2. Excruciatingly Weary

    April 26, 2011 by Laura

    I don’t mean to complain, but it’s been a heckuva week. My dad fell & broke his femur last week. This is for the second time in less than a year. Without going into too much detail, my dad is a generally unhealthy guy. Not in the way I usually describe–he’s not diabetic, obese, or suffering from heart or respiratory problems. All that is quite a miracle given that he has subsisted on Wendy’s (he seemed to have been on a first name basis with Dave), McDonald’s (probably knows the release dates of all the new sandwiches), and corned beef sandwiches. I can not ever recall him eating a vegetable, although he did teach me to make vegetable soup. So what does a sedentary life of processed animal consumption get you? In my dad’s case, kidney failure, which causes osteoporosis. Oy.

    With that in mind, I went back to the Eat Right America web site to see what it say about osteoporosis. Nutritarians eschew dairy products, which are touted as being an excellent source of dietary calcium. Here’s the Nutritarian take:

    Contrary to popular belief, you do not need dairy products to get sufficient calcium. Every natural food contains calcium. When you eat a healthy diet, rich in natural foods such as vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, it is impossible not to obtain sufficient calcium. In fact, the addition of more natural plant foods to the diet has been shown to have a powerful effect on increasing bone density and bone health. Researchers found that those who eat the most fruits and vegetables have denser bones. These researchers concluded that fruits and vegetables are not only rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and other nutrients essential for bone health, but, because they are alkaline, not acid-producing, they do not induce urinary calcium loss. Green vegetables in particular have a powerful effect on reducing hip fractures, for they are rich not only in calcium but other nutrients as well, such a vitamin K, which is crucial for bone health.

    Green vegetables also have calcium absorption rates of over 50 percent, compared with about 32 percent for milk. And, since animal protein induces calcium excretion in the urine, compared to dairy, the calcium retention from vegetables is higher. All green vegetables are high in calcium.

    Despite the debate surrounding milk and osteoporosis and how much calcium is ideal, one thing is clear: adequate calcium is important for reducing the risk of osteoporosis. And when women supplement their diet with extra calcium, hip fractures do decrease. A combination supplement containing 800 IU of Vitamin D along with calcium has been shown to reduce both bone loss and hip fractures. 
Calcium should not be taken in excessive doses and I recommend that, if supplemented, calcium should be in the 400 – 600 mg range, not the 1000 – 2000 mg range. In conclusion, a modest increase in calcium via supplementation is appropriate for most people, but real food should supply a good percentage of your calcium intake to achieve the right balance of supportive nutrients to maximize bone health.

    Wait, here’s more from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine web site (bias: these are doctors who want you to be vegetarian):

    The loss of bone mineral probably results from a combination of genetics and dietary and lifestyle factors, particularly the intake of animal protein, salt, and possibly caffeine, along with tobacco use, physical inactivity, and lack of sun exposure.

    Animal protein tends to leach calcium from the bones, leading to its excretion in the urine. Animal proteins are high in sulfur-containing amino acids, especially cystine and methionine. Sulfur is converted to sulfate, which tends to acidify the blood. During the process of neutralizing this acid, bone dissolves into the bloodstream and filters through the kidneys into the urine. Meats and eggs contain two to five times more of these sulfur-containing amino acids than are found in plant foods.3

    International comparisons show a strong positive relationship between animal protein intake and fracture rates. Such comparisons generally do not take other lifestyle factors, such as exercise, into account. Nonetheless, their findings are supported by clinical studies showing that high protein intakes aggravate calcium losses. A 1994 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when animal proteins were eliminated from the diet, calcium losses were cut in half.4 Patients can easily get adequate protein from grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits.


    So yes, I am kidding myself when I think a lump of triple creme St. Andre is a calcium boost. Dammit.

    As far as my own eating habits are concerned, I’m still pretty veg-centric, although the grains are creeping up to a higher proportion than is recommended. It is just too easy to slather hummus on toast. Also, I am relying on eggs quite a bit, because I love them so. Still, I am down almost, almost 25 pounds. I even had to buy a new little black dress for an event the other night. Pics to follow soon, I promise.


  3. Are Omega-3 Enriched Foods Worth The Extra $$$? | Fooducate

    April 18, 2011 by Laura

    Are Omega-3 Enriched Foods Worth The Extra $$$? | Fooducate.

    I often wonder about this. I just buy regular eggs (while I wait for my 9 lovely pullets to start laying).

  4. A Pancake Recipe

    April 14, 2011 by Laura

    I thought I’d lighten the mood a little.

    Weekend mornings are for pancakes around here. For years I’ve been using a pancake recipe from my very tattered old copy of The Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown. It’s very simple, straightforward, and easily modified. Below is the original recipe, re-typed in its entirety, and some modifications I’ve made to further up the ANDI. All annoying formatting and syntax is faithfully reproduced from the original.

    47) Whole Wheat Pancakes
    Are entirely exceptional, especially served with jam-marbled sour cream and eggs poached with love.
    (Serve 6 perhaps)
    2c whole wheat (pastry) flour
    1 T baking powder
    1 tsp salt
    1 T brown sugar or honey
    3 eggs, separated
    2 c milk
    1/2 c oil
    Sift flour with baking powder, salt and sugar. If using honey, add it to the milk and oil. Beat milk and oil into the yolks.
    Combine yolks, milk and oil with dry ingredients until just blended; then fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Cook on greased griddle or frying pan. May be made any size.
    May be made without separating eggs.
    May also be made with fruit puree: apple, apricot, peach, pear, in place of milk or
    Add fruit chunks, or
    Slip in some tahini, nuts, sesame or sunflower seeds, or
    Use some corn meal or rolled oats, barley flour or buck wheat (1/2 c).
    For waffles use only 1 1/4 c milk.


    First of all, I can’t condone the sour cream and eggs and still maintain my Nutri-integrity. But it does sound good, and if you’re so inclined, I’m sure it’s delicious. My modifications: I have never separated the eggs, and they’re still great. I have substituted 1/2 cup cornmeal for an equal amount of flour, and that’s very good, especially when you drop blueberries in while they cook. Latest nifty tricks: 1 T oil instead of 1/2 cup; 3 tablespoon ground flax seeds combined and allowed to sit with 9 tablespoons hot water in place of the eggs. This really works. I also used soy and hazelnut milk in place of the dairy. And I used maple syrup instead of the sugar, because I miss Vermont. These are very nearly fail-proof and the recipe makes a lot of normal sized pancakes.

    Next, an okra recipe!


  5. Habits

    April 14, 2011 by Laura

    Lately I’ve had that “old habits die hard” feeling. I find myself snacking more. I’m not snacking on anything especially unhealthy, but just mindlessly munching on almonds or apples or those “Mary’s Gone Crackers” crackers. Those are really good, by the way. The Nutritarian Way is to eliminate snacking as much as possible and rest the digestive tract between meals. It’s hard. Also, it’s baseball season, which is beer and grill season in my world. I have not had a beer since January. I really love beer…

    Back in February I joined the Y. I thought I should have lost 10 pounds just for joining and remain disappointed that it doesn’t work that way. I like the Y because the facilities are decent, the childcare inexpensive, and the members are a genuine cross section of the community. I frequently run into other RNs, physicians, people who work at the stores where I shop, parents of Amos’s classmates. I went today to do my 30 minutes on the treadmill (not a habit, yet), and I’m glad I went. Just when I was starting to think, “Well, I’ve proven my point, I’m going to eat some chips,” my visit reinvigorated my commitment to Health.

    Ok, I have gained weight in my life. At times quite a bit. But today I saw several people who were really, really fat. And this is not a judgment about their character, they were fat. Among them was a mom and her two ENORMOUS sons. They were 12 years old at most and HUGE. Have I impressed upon you the LARGENESS of these boys? A very graphic word I can think of: CORPULENT. Think  Jabba the Hut. Ok, get this: one was eating Jack in the Box and the other Mickey D’s.

    Now, if I were a judgmental sort (which we’ll assume for the moment that I’m not), I would have thought something like, “WTF is wrong with you???” But regarding my estimation of this woman’s situation, there are a few mitigating factors. First, I’m highly trained in Interdisciplinary Cognitive Arts. Which is to say that I went to a fancy-schmancy liberal arts college (several, actually!) where we learned to approach a situation from multiple angles. So here’s my thought process:

    This woman works at the Y. I’m thinking this is not a high-paying job. She’s got two boys approaching adolescence, the caloric demands of whom are no doubt intimidating. Parenting alone? Statistically speaking it’s a safe bet, but even if she’s married/partnered, I’m going to guess said partner is not the one who is primarily responsible for meal prep. I’m trying to paint the picture of a working-poor, exhausted, single mom, get it? I have all the time in the world (not really) and professional food service training, and even I don’t like prepping kale. What I’m trying to say is that it takes A LOT of work against The System to maintain a truly healthy diet. Healthy calories are hard, easy calories are crap. And not that cheap.

    I’m not going on about their lack of personal responsibility because these people were at the YMCA. They want to be healthy. They may even know the basics of what it takes to be healthy. They may even think they are healthy. They may not know why they are so big. I know this, because I’ve been there (well, not physically, but psychologically). And being HUGE is not that unusual anymore. It’s the New Normal.

    I’m ranting about this because I am genuinely afraid that my kid is going to come home from 9th grade one day and tell me one of his classmates dropped dead from a heart attack. This is not a far-fetched idea. But I’m not going to go on a childhood obesity tangent here. I’m going to go on a Recommended Reading tangent:

    The End of Overeating by David Kessler, MD a fascinating read by the former head of the FDA about the forces conspiring to sell us cheap calories.

    Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath. This is a very accessible book on how to change habits. It’s geared toward corporate settings, but also contains useful information on personal habit formation. Interesting to anyone wanting to change long held habits, but especially interesting if you want to make workplace changes.

    This morning at 4am, Dale told me I had to take the bag of tortilla chips to work with me and give them away.


  6. Get with the program?

    April 4, 2011 by Laura

    Whoa, nothing gets me going faster than seeing “0 views” when I check my stats counter. Look! Over here! A new post!

    Sorry I haven’t posted, I’ve been too busy losing weight. I have lost about 21 pounds in 10 weeks. I am down 2-3 pants sizes. One of my friends came in to work yesterday and actually didn’t recognize me (from the back).

    Recently two of my friends told me they had embarked on the Nutritarian path (my words) along with me. Nothing could be more gratifying than knowing I am making an impact! Oh, I mean, “nothing could be more gratifying than knowing that people I care about are taking their health seriously.” Nothing.

    If you are thinking about following my example (and you should—you should also send me money and start referring to me as “O Svelte One”) here’s what you need to know:

    1. You really ought to at least read one of Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s books. They spell it all out.

    2. The first week to 10 days are not easy if you rely on bread, dairy, salt, sugar and animal products for a substantial portion of your calories (and who doesn’t?).

    3. You will lose weight like crazy, your skin will glow and you’ll feel better.

    4. You will want to write a blog to explain your eating habits to everyone.

    5. You don’t have to become a vegan or vegetarian.

    Yesterday, I was explaining to a different co-worker how I was losing weight, and she said,”What a boring diet!” Ok, look, how exciting is your diet? I mean, beforehand my diet was not that exciting: Roast chicken, brown rice, broccoli, repeat. Snack: bread with cheese. I don’t think most of us have especially tantalizing day to day eating habits. And furthermore (I shake my fist at you), furthermore, why are you looking to food for excitement?? Food is nourishment, not entertainment. Or something like that. I’m not sure I believe that entirely, but I am working up some kind of hypothesis. Something like “the more entertaining food is, the less healthy it is likely to be.” Case and point here and here.

    It is interesting to note how much of our identity is wrapped up in our food choices. My ego is/was really tied up in my consumption of cheeses, breads, charcuterie, delicious adult beverages… If you find yourself worrying what other people will think of you if you start eating healthy foods, it’s time to re-examine your relationship with food.  If you find yourself with people who judge you harshly, mock you, or discourage you from trying to take care of yourself, it’s time to re-examine your relationships with people.

    I am trying not to get all soapboxy, but I can’t help myself. After all, it’s my blog.