Monthly Archives:

December 2009

New Years Resolution

My New Years Resolution:  I will be light.

I will keep my life light and remember that life should never be taken too seriously.  Who knows exactly why we’re put on this Earth, so why not have the most lighthearted fun we can while we’re here?

-I will try to maintain as light of an impact on the environment as I am capable of doing.  I will keep my carbon footprint to a minimal.  I will be conscious of how my actions are effecting the beautiful world that surrounds me.

-I will keep my body light and lithe.  I will be conscious to eat only when my body tells me I’m hungry, and I will exercise to keep my body fit.  I will keep myself light to maintain energy, health, and peace of mind.

-I will keep my spirit light.  I will laugh whenever the opportunity arises and beyond.  I will put a smile on my face as soon as I get up each morning.  Smiles and laughter cure ailments and create miracles.

-I will keep my mind light.  I will fend off drama and draw in peace.  Worry, I will not.  I will live my life a day at a time and know that sometimes things are meant to happen as they do.  I will stay in the present moment and through this, heavy worrisome will stay away.

-I will burn away all darkness.  I will make way for my natural brightness to persistently peek out and my inner light to shine through.

The Kind Diet, Review

I am not sure if I’ve ever liked a cookbook so much.

(This is saying a lot because I have more cookbooks than I can count, many of which I adore, such as the entire Moosewood series…but that’s a whole other series waiting to be posted about).

I originally bought The Kind Diet “cookbook” (really it’s so much more than a cookbook) thinking it would make a great Christmas present for my roommate/amazing friend who has recently decided to become a vegetarian.  The book was written by gorgeous actress Alicia Silverstone, and with that label attached to it alone, I figured it would get my friend to read it and help her stick with the new veg. diet she was moving into.  Little did I know, Silverstone could not only write, but write remarkably well, making it a book that had so much more to offer than just a few celeb.-status recipes and one of which I would ultimately fall in love with.

Silverstone is a well established vegan and dedicates the first two parts of her book (the first 135 pages) to introducing not just veganism but how to live a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.  She addresses the obvious– the meat and dairy industries and their numerous flaws– but she also touches upon issues such as processed foods and caffeine and GMOs and a million other topics in which I’m interested, or have even previously blogged about, such as fake sweeteners, mindful eating and being conscious of your chewing habits, and “the great soy debate“.

Most other cookbooks contain bland introductions of which I often bypass in favor of going straight to the recipe section where the juicy pages lie.  Silverstone’s introduction to the recipes seemed to contain almost as much flavor as the recipes themselves, providing material that was engaging, insightful, and incredibly inspiring for both aspiring and well established vegetarians/vegans.

Basically, Silverstone advocates living a clean lifestyle which encompasses a “Kind Diet”.  This means no meat, dairy, or processed foods, but rather whole grains, fresh produce, and proteins that root from roots planted in the soil.  However, she doesn’t immediately shove veganism down your throat as the only way to live.  Instead, she provides advice and gradual steps to becoming what she calls a “superhero”, or pure vegan.  The steps begin with what she calls “flirting”.

“Here’s the thing with flirting:  The key is that you be open. Open to being seduced.  You are putting your best foot forward and looking for the best in your potential partner.  So this is about making no commitments, but remaining positive and open to possibility. When you flirt, you reserve the right to walk away at any time, but you are hoping to be surprised and delighted.”  This was an excerpt taken from the first paragraph of the chapter titled, “Flirting”.  Could she describe flirting in any better way?  And when putting this term to food and diet, it makes perfect sense.  The flirting plan, Silverstone says, is meant to place very little pressure onto the dieter.  “It’s really just a bunch of suggestions you can implement for the next few weeks.”  You’ll have to buy the book to read the suggestions for yourself.

If you decide to bring your diet past the flirting stage, then you can read the tips Silverstone’s shares for how to easily transition into becoming fully vegan.  Once you’ve mastered becoming a vegan, you can take it one step further by becoming a “Superhero”.  The Superhero plan is loosely based off of the macrobiotic diet, which calls for a lot of whole foods and strict limiting on processed foods.  My parents have experimented with following a macrobiotic diet in the past…they ate a lot of brown rice and started incorporating cooked kale into our family breakfasts.  Not my favorite breakfast food unless ground up into a smoothie, but I did get to learn how to make and eat a lot of brown rice sushi while they were trying to closely follow the diet.  It’s definitely a healthy, cleansing diet that will boost your energy levels, which is presumably why Silverstone aims to follow it.  “I would say I follow the Superhero plan about 80 percent of the time and Vegan the rest,” she wrote.

The book contains travel tips, nutritional FAQs, product comparisons and so much more, all paired with a compassionate and down-to-earth tone that shines throughout the entire cookbook.

Although I immediately decided go buy The Kind Diet for myself just a few days after picking up my roommate’s copy, I have yet to own the book for more than barely a couple weeks.  With that being said, I haven’t had the time to make more than a couple recipes, but the ones I have made have turned out to be wonderfully delicious.  I was just so excited with the tastefully written information at the beginning of the cookbook and the few recipes that I have made that I figured it was worth reviewing right away.  With recipes like “Black Soybean and Kabocha Squash Stew”,  “Black-Eyed Pea Croquettes with Dijon Glaze”, and “Maple-Roasted Lotus Root, Sunchokes, and Leeks”, I really don’t think the taste of any of these recipes could go too terribly wrong.  I certainly can’t wait to experiment with more of the recipes!

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone is an incredibly stimulating and inspiring read that has me wanting to environmentally and nutritionally better my diet and get my hands to work not on the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen…and that I must do!

Winter Running

I’ve been loving my outdoor runs!  I usually hate the winter because it hinders my ability to enjoy the outdoors, but lately I’ve actually brought myself to enjoy it.

I love coming home from Philly for winter break because I am able to get away from the city for a few weeks and enjoy the beautiful, quiet, lovely smelling nature of the country.  Running outside is one of my favorite ways to enjoy this.  However, most winters I find myself bundled up inside, unwilling to venture out in the brisk air that lays outside.  Well, not this year!  I decided I was going to embrace the the winter weather, and get my booty moving to create my own heat.

I have to admit that the first five minutes of every winter run are pretty much dreadful, but I try not to look at them like that.  Instead, I pretend that the first few minutes are serving a positive purpose and are extra cold to simply help me awaken my body.  After I get past the first few awakening minutes, I’m set for the rest of my run.  I’ve got my summer groove on while I jog through the snow-lined streets.  It’s glorious.

Yeah, I'm a dork, but I love it 🙂

My lungs immediately work to warm the cool air, sending its warmth throughout my body.  The extra nip in the air invigorates my body and keeps my legs moving.  If I dare to stop, unlike in the summer, the cool breeze will get me going once again.

On Sunday, I actually wore shorts!  Instead of being in the low 30’s, the afternoon temp. actually jumped its way up to the low 40’s.  I’m a summer gal, and I cherish my running shorts, so for me, this was super exciting.  A winter hat and shorts = great combination.

This year in particular, I’ve found that the winter doesn’t have to inhibit my outdoor activity.  Sure, it takes a little extra drive to make yourself get off the couch and brace the cool winter air, but after the first five minutes, I think you’ll discover that the cool air can truly be “cool”.  Give it a try, tell me what you think…and check out the following advice to get you started.

Take extra time to warm up.  The cold air can make your body feel stiff, so it’s important to give yourself some extra time to stretch out before you get moving outside.  Once you start running, start slow.  Give your body some time to loosen up and adjust to the abrupt temperature change.

Dress warm, but not too warm. A good rule of thumb is to dress as if it were 20 degrees warmer than it actually is outside.  If it’s really cold outside, make sure to layer your clothing.  I particularly like to wear an under armor layer because it wicks away sweat, where as cotton absorbs sweat and will keep you wet and cold.  You may also want to consider wearing wind-breaker gear, particularly if there’s a cold breeze going.  I also like to wear a hat.  About 40% of your body heat is lost through your head, so to keep your body warm, a hat is definitely valuable.  Thin gloves are also nice to keep your hands from becoming cold and chapped.  Don’t overdress yourself because there’s nothing more annoying than roasting in ten trillion layers of clothes while you’re running.  Plus, the sweat sopping clothes won’t feel pleasant when you stop running and your body temp. lowers.

Run in mid-afternoon. This is the warmest time of the day and will allow you to benefit from the sun’s natural heat.  The minute the sun goes down, you’ll notice an immediate temperature difference.  Plus, it’s safer to run in daylight.  To be safe, it’s also important to wear brightly colored clothing.

Keep hydrated. Just because your body may not be sweating like a waterfall like it does in the summer, doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep drinking.  It’s just as important to stay hydrated in the winter as it is in the summer.  Your body will sweat to a degree, meaning it’s still losing some fluid.  Make sure to drink before and after your run.  I’m not a fan of carrying water with me while running, but if you’re going for a really long run, consider bringing a warm drink with you, such as tea.

Have fun. If the thought of running outside in 30 degree weather seems absolutely appalling then don’t do it.  However, before you declare winter running an absolute no, I encourage you to at least give it a try.  If you find that you really do not like it, then stick to activities that you can do inside, or hit the treadmill.  Have fun with your workouts and do what makes you feel best.  For me, this means skipping the monotonous treadmill, and spending my few weeks in the country soaking in the inherently beautiful nature around me.

Sample Day of Raw Cleanse

I had an anonymous comment in response to a post a did a couple days ago titled, “How To Get Your Diet Back In Line After The Holiday Season.”

Here’s what he/she said: “Love this topic and new ideas to re-start your diet after the food-filled holidays! Is there any way you could post a few recipes for your raw food diet? Or some type of a plan for a few days of this type of diet that would get people started?”

In response to this inquiry, I’ve decided to post a sample day of my raw foods cleanse.  Since my intention was to do a cleanse, I kept my diet pretty simple, sticking to the basics of whole fruits and veggies.  However, some people choose to have a raw diet for life.  If you decide this lifestyle is for you, there are numerous more complex raw treats and recipes of which you can incorporate into your diet.  (Check out some of Averie’s raw treats to get you started, such as her tasty raw peanut butter cups.)

Also, the raw cleanse is not meant to make you feel like you’re being deprived of food.  If at anytime you feel hungry, simply grab a piece of fruit or some cut up veggies.  Just make sure that you don’t let yourself get so hungry that you end up reaching for the pretzels and potato chips.  It helps to keep all processed junk food hidden in your cabinets.

Note:  If you plan on doing the cleanse for more than a day or two, make sure to include some raw nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, to ensure you’re incorporating protein into your diet.  It’s also important to drink lots of fluids throughout the day, which will additionally help cleanse the body.  I also recommend only light activity, such as yoga rather than an intensive run.

Sample Day of Raw Cleanse

Breakfast

1 banana
1 large green smoothie (Recipe found below)

Snack

– 1 apple

Lunch

-2 carrots, sliced into matchsticks
-2 celery sticks, sliced into matchsticks
-1 grapefruit
-1 Asian pear (I’m not a huge advocate of eating foods out of season.  However, when doing a cleanse diet as simple as this, I find it important to include your favorite fruits and veggies that you seldom get to eat.  If you are trying to eat an all localized diet, look for in season fruits and veggies that you wouldn’t normally purchase.  Seldom eaten produce is useful in adding excitement to the diet.)

Snack

-1 clementine
-1 cup of miso “tea” (Mix one teaspoon of miso with one cup of hot, not boiling, water)

Dinner

Spiced Kohlrabi (recipe below)

-1 banana

-Grapes

-1 1-inch slice of avocado, sprinkled with salt

Snack

1 green smoothie (can use different fruit and greens this time to change it up)

Green Smoothie Recipe
You can experiment with whatever fruit is in season or whatever you have on hand.  We freeze strawberries from our garden, and I particularly enjoy the combination of apples and strawberries.  Bananas and blueberries are also nice additions.

-1/2 apple
-5-6 frozen strawberries
-handful of kale or collards (about 2-4 large leaves)
-Water

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.  The amount of water varies depending on the desired consistency.

Spiced Kohlrabi

-1 kohlrabi
-cumin
-lime
-Kosher salt

Cut the kohlrabi into 1/4 inch x 3 inch matchsticks.  Sprinkle with cumin, salt, and a squeeze of lime.

Choosing Condiments Wisely

Check out my latest article published in the Temple News.

Condiments Present Healthy Eating Decisions

If you frequented the Philadelphia Phillies’ Dollar Dog Day this past season or you simply eat a lot of hotdogs and hamburgers because they’re quick and easy – a combination that appeals to most busy college students – you may want to consider what you’re loading on your burgers and dogs. Picture 12

Piling on the condiments can certainly jazz up a cheap burger or dog, but it can also lead to an additional pile of empty, unneeded calories on your diet.

Whether selecting condiments for a burger, sandwich or vegetables, be careful which ones you choose. Use these guidelines when you’re dining out and about in Philadelphia – or simply at a Main Campus dining hall – to help you add flavor without excessive calories.

Ketchup Vs. Mustard

While neither ketchup nor mustard packs an alarming amount of calories, mustard is the healthier choice. Comparing calories, mustards have little to none, while ketchups can contain 20 calories per tablespoon. Ketchup also has a significant amount of sugar, whereas mustard doesn’t have any. Also, those who are fans of ketchup tend to use it often.

“I use it on everything and almost always use at least a couple tablespoons,” Deirdre Kurtz, a sophomore international business major, said. “I know it’s filled with a lot of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, so I’ve been trying to use less on certain things, such as scrambled eggs, but I love it.”

Mustard’s flavor is stronger, and although both ketchup and mustard have a significant amount of sodium per tablespoon, mustard’s strong flavor tends to keep it from being overused. Try experimenting with mustard’s wide variety of flavors, such as Dijon or honey.

If you simply can’t skip the ketchup, squirt smaller amounts, so you won’t end up consuming excessive amounts. Also, opt for organic ketchup to eliminate high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient that has been linked to obesity.

Magnify Your Mayo
Mayonnaise is one of the key condiments to watch out for. Typically containing 100 calories per tablespoon and a whole lot of fat, mayonnaise certainly isn’t a healthy addition.

Rather than succumb to eating sandwiches on dry, tasteless bread, simply switch to a low-fat variety. Many brands now offer low-fat or light varieties, which generally contain less than half the fat and calories of the original versions. The popular brand Hellmann’s offers both light and low-fat mayonnaise. The light version contains just 35 calories per tablespoon and only 3.5 grams of fat, and the low-fat version contains a mere 15 calories and one gram of fat per tablespoon.

The tastes are relatively similar, making it an easy switch. For an even healthier option, replace the mayonnaise altogether with either olive oil or plain, low-fat Greek yogurt. Simply drizzling olive oil and some salt and pepper on each inner side of your sandwich bread will moisten the bread and add flavor. Similarly, yogurt can be used when making a sandwich. Or, try lightening a recipe, such as potato salad, by using half the mayonnaise.

No Cheese, Please
Adding cheese to any sandwich, hamburger or hot dog will undoubtedly add a great deal of calories. Cheese tends to be high in fat, considering just one slice typically has 10 percent of your daily fat.

Velveeta cheese sauce, which is offered at places like 7-Eleven, isn’t very healthy either. Dipping your broccoli in Velveeta cheese sauce or squirting it on your hot dog will cost you 85 calories per ounce, along with a substantial amount of artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol.

According to the Food Network’s Web site, an ounce of cheese is about the size of your thumb, meaning that when you use cheese as a condiment, most likely you’re consuming more than just one ounce. Instead of cheese, load vegetables onto sandwiches, and choose healthier condiments for burgers and dogs. If you’re a fan of broccoli and cheese, instead try dipping your broccoli into low-fat dressing, or skip the dipping all together and sauté it with some olive oil and garlic.

Slimmer Salad Dressings
A good rule of thumb for salad dressings is to generally skip the creamy ones, which tend to be higher in both fat and calories. Stick to the vinaigrettes or low-fat varieties. To really know what’s going into your dressing, try whipping up some of your own.

For an easy salad dressing recipe, combine two parts olive oil to one part of an acidic ingredient, such as vinegar or lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Experiment by adding honey, hot sauce or herbs if desired. By making your own olive oil-based dressing, you can cut back on artificial processing and calorie-heavy ingredients and incorporate some heart-healthy fats into your diet.

Embellish with Relish
Relish is a safe bet when it comes to seasoning your food. Relish contains around 15 calories per tablespoon, and a little can go a long way. Pickles, which are virtually calorie-less, are also a good topping. But don’t go overboard: Both are salt-heavy if eaten in large amounts.

While hamburgers and hot dogs aren’t the healthiest choices, adding certain condiments can make them even worse. Also, many condiments can turn a healthy meal into a meal full of fat and calories. Try to stay mindful when choosing condiments to season your food.

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