Friday, October 29, 2010

oh, today.

Way too much to do this week {and as I write that, I realize the week is pretty much over}. 
survival strategy 1: putting my alarm on the opposite side of the room to force me to get up when it goes off.
survival strategy 2: downing copious amounts of Amazing Grass [affectionately called “Amazing Weed” by some].
Anyone else got a winner?

So for now, I’m thinking relaxing thoughts and getting super excited to go back to Michigan for Thanksgiving break. You can betcha bottom dollar I’m going to get here…
And here….
But you came here for nutrition slash food information, didn’t you?
After Saturday night’s fantastic 5 course dinner, I pretty much decided I’d never eat again. When I finally came to my senses, I used some of the leftover veggies + homemade stock to make carrot ginger soup. So simple [bonus: it’s vegan]. I may or may not have used an excessive amount of black pepper.
Today, a big group of interns worked at a health fair all day long. By noon, we’d already seen over 500 people. We were responsible for helping hospital employees interpret their cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose screenings.
Do you know the normal levels for these lab values? These are the standards we used today:
Lab Value
Normal Ranges
Total Cholesterol
<200 mg/dL
HDL Cholesterol
>40 mg/dl men                      >50 mg/dL women
TC/HDL Ratio
Glucose <100 mg/dL fasting
<140 mg/dL not fasting
Blood Pressure

I had a screen done, and fortunately fell within normal limits for everything. If you’ve never been screened, you should be. It’s a really fast and easy process that can help identify risks for disease.
Don’t worry, I’m still thinking about probiotics. I have a huge test on Tuesday that’s taking up a lot of time right now. And…I just finished a presentation today on low carbohydrate diets for treating elevated blood lipids, which is another post for another time.
Alrighty, back to the books. I can’t believe it’s Friday tomorrow already! Does anyone have fun costume ideas (that I can steal) for Halloween?!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

a sweet dilemma

As I was running today, I saw a sign outside a local dentist’s office that said “cash for candy” and offered $1/pound of candy turned in. Genius.

  snickers =  us bill

Now, you know I’m completely in favor of moderation, and this includes eating candy (hello, dark chocolate), but the problem is that our country has lost sight of moderation’s true meaning. The amount of candy a child collects on Halloween definitely does not fall into that moderation category, especially since junk food is no longer a special treat in our society…it is everywhere.


Could there be a more perfect time to teach kids about investing in health?! It may take a few years before they see the connection between giving up junk and saving in terms of health care costs, but it’s a good start. Thoughts?


This article in the New York Times, discusses the villainization of candy vs. drinking juice or eating cookies. Not news to me…I don’t think candy or juice should be consumed in excess. Moral of the story…eat real food. I recently read M. Pollan’s In Defense of Food, and it was really good. I say this even though I come from a nutrition science background, and you’ll understand the irony of that statement if you’ve read the book. More discussion to come…

Anyway, while we’re on the topic of real food, how about another soup recipe? I know some states have been experiencing tornado-like weather, which qualifies as soup weather to me. This black bean soup is really easy but has tons of flavor. Thanks for the recipe, Foodbuzz!


Don’t forget whole wheat biscuits…because every soup needs a homemade biscuit, and these will only take 10 minutes to make, tops.


Have you read In Defense of Food? If so, thoughts?!


Monday, October 25, 2010

indiana roadtrip

Last week was crazy…thus, the lack of posting! The clean eating class went really well. Thanks for all of your suggestions! I ended up using some giant newsprint, printed signs, and lots of construction paper. I dare you to try and write out bullet points by hand when you are a perfectionist…it won’t work, and you’ll waste a lot of paper.


I blame part of this on my writing style: I slant all of my words to the left. In school, they were always telling us to slant to the right, so naturally I decided that slanting to the left would be a good time.

It was really fun to discuss sustainability and local food with my class, especially when those topics aren’t too popular around here.


On Friday, I headed to Indianapolis to see one of my best friends get married. I saw friends that I haven’t seen for quite some time, so that was nice.


I know other bloggers have brought up the topic of eating lifestyles at weddings, specifically what you do when your eating lifestyle isn’t represented by wedding food. I prefer not to eat meat that isn’t local or organic, but I can pretty much always find something to eat without being tacky. I really believe that you can stick to your values in all sorts of settings.

So many great memories with these girls. My friend Lindsay and I were actually the wedding singers (we used to sing together in college), so that was pretty fun, too.


I visited Hipsterville aka Bloomington on the way home from the wedding and ate the best homemade pumpkin ice cream.


We also went to a neat local food restaurant called Farm. Bloomington is full of these kinds of places, which is fantastic. I was a huge fan of the teal chairs, too.


I had some epic pumpkin soup. I’m pretty sure it had real cream in it and also blended apples. Fall is most definitely soup weather.


I took this photo on the way home. Only if you are a blogger and your camera is an extension of your arm should you ever attempt this while driving. :)


Looking forward to catching up on everyone’s blogs!


Monday, October 18, 2010

fall obsession

First of all, thanks so much to everyone who took the time to make some very thoughtful comments on my last post. I really appreciate your insight, and I’ll definitely consider it as I write this nutrition program! I also just got connected with a local farm to school group, and I think they will play a big role in helping to get better food into our local schools.

It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with the beach, even in non-swimming weather. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to enjoy a Michigan fall, and I love the freedom to be outside as much as possible.


And seriously….what’s not to love about fall?! The changing colors of the leaves = my fave. What’s your fave aspect of fall?


Another pumpkin recipe…I know, I know. But this one is really good as evidenced by the amount of time it took my family to demolish it [recipe here]. You don’t even need a sugary glaze. Pair it with a pumpkin spice latte for an extreme pumpkin fix. 


I’m teaching my first clean eating class this week, but I’ll have to be pretty creative because the room I’m using isn’t PowerPoint enabled. Any suggestions?! There isn’t even a whiteboard in the room, so I was thinking of going old school with an easel and a marker…


Thursday, October 14, 2010

bake therapy

I found out that I didn’t get the job I interviewed for last week, but I’m convinced that it just wasn’t the right fit. Sometimes things don't work out, and that's totally ok.

I’ve always found baking somewhat therapeutic. Something about pounding dough and stirring batter with a wooden spoon is entirely soothing.
{yes, yes…this is my apron from food science class when I was a soph in college}.
Anyway, I decided to put my creative energy to use by making homemade pretzels. I’ve tried this in the past and failed quite miserably, so I was a little hesitant, but I’m glad I reattempted the recipe {thank you, Joy the Baker!}.
Pretty sure I dipped this baby in dijon mustard {ok, I admit it…I’m currently obsessed with dijon mustard. and spicy peanut sauce}. These pretzels are made with white flour, but I’m sure you could use a little whole wheat if you wanted.
Time to go turn myself into a human pretzel via yoga.
What’s your fave form of therapy?
Embroidery tutorial coming soon!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

thoughts on childhood obesity


It’s like the giant elephant in the room that everyone knows about, some are trying to corral, and others are completely avoiding.

Since beginning work on an obesity slash chronic disease prevention grant, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about childhood obesity…and I have to say that there are no easy answers. One thing that most Americans could improve upon is consumption of vegetables.


This recent article by Jane Brody in the New York Times highlighted the fact that only 26% of Americans eat 3 or more vegetable servings per day. She called for responses to this problem.

Here are some things that I think play a key role:

  • time: It takes time and effort to plan a vegetable-focused meal vs. purchasing a pre-made or prepackaged meal. At the end of the day, many Americans are simply too exhausted to put effort into cooking a batch of quinoa or making stuffed green peppers. We live in a society where instant gratification is the norm, and unfortunately, this translates into quick fixes for meals.
  • education: Many Americans have no idea how to properly cook or otherwise prepare vegetables. Children are progressing into adulthood without learning valuable cooking skills, which makes preparation of vegetables pretty intimidating.
  • accessibility/economic concerns: Many children receive 2/3 meals at school, but have you seen some of the food offerings lately? No wonder children are not excited about eating vegetables.


So what can we do? Considering all of these barriers, I think a national campaign to improve vegetable intake needs to be launched. It's a very tricky situation because many industries (beef, dairy, etc.) feel very threatened by the government encouraging Americans to focus on a plant-based diet (and also hold or are linked to key positions in the FDA and USDA). But, it's time we start focusing on what is best for Americans, healthwise.


School lunch programs should be an increased focus. Many studies are showing that obesity concerns begin in childhood, and this is prime time for us to be proactive. Something must be done to even out the distribution of funds between districts to equalize access of healthful food.


What are your thoughts on childhood slash adult obesity?

To me, it’s a very multifactoral issue that is not going to be solved overnight (and maybe not even in a decade). Not a very comforting thought, right?!

Unlike this quinoa corn chowder, which is so comforting and delicious that you will not be able to eat just one bowl {I dare ya}.


quinoa corn chowder {the savvy vegetarian)

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1-2 T olive oil
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 16 oz pkg frozen corn kernels or 4 ears fresh corn
  • 4 cups vegetarian soup stock or water
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 lg re pepper, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 thin slices fresh ginger, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded & chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano leaf
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & pepper to taste

Soak the quinoa for at least 15 minutes. Rinse and drain. Heat olive oil on medium low heat in large Dutch oven or soup pot. Sauté garlic, ginger, celery, & jalapenos for 6 minutes. Add potatoes, green beans, and red pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Add spices and soup stock, bring to a boil, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add fresh or frozen corn and cook 5-10 more minutes.

I know that this post is more of a long rant and involves large blocks of text, which I find super annoying when blog reading. But I’d love your feedback, especially as I’m writing a school nutrition program, I’d love to know what kind of school lunches are out there, and how you feel we can improve upon the nutrition status of Americans.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

weekend in polaroids

This has been such a fun weekend! My sister drove up from Indiana, and we had such a fun time catching up, running outside in the gorgeous Michigan fall weather, and visiting the beach.


I also had my first experience with substitute teaching on Friday, and I have to say that teaching math classes is a lot more fun than taking them. I told my classes that algebra is the most useful math for anyone who wants to go into a science-related field. [I’m not sure they agreed with me].


Did anyone see this article about a nutrition professor (Mark Haub) from Kansas State University who is going on a high-calorie, high-fat food diet to determine if we should be more concerned with weight rather than the foods we eat: "If we lose weight, this diet should be viewed as healthy." Haub theorizes that foods we think are healthy may be unhealthy while junk food may have some benefits. He later plans to gain weight by eating foods touted as healthy, such as fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.


First of all, I could answer his question without subjecting my body to a multitude of processed poisons, and I would definitely say that the food we eat is just as important as weight loss for health. Other problems I have with Haub’s little experiment:

  • Although Haub has lost some weight, he reported increased triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure…that doesn’t sound like a beneficial aspect of eating junk food to me.
  • The reason why Haub has lost weight is likely related to his dietary goal of 1800 calories/day…if you decrease the number of calories you eat, you will lose weight, regardless if the calories are from junk food. This does not mean that eating junk food is healthful!
  • The same goes for his reverse experiment of eating health foods and gaining weight. It’s a matter of calories. If you eat an excess of grains, fruit, and vegetables, you will also gain weight. It doesn’t mean that these foods should not be considered healthful!
  • Haub cites another advantage of his experiment is that he will be saving money. I’m not sure where he shops, but regardless, healthcare costs resulting from disease will overshadow any lunch money savings.

In my opinion, Haub is trying to garner media attention by practicing poor science, which is pretty unfortunate. As a nutrition scientist and registered dietitian, I think his behavior is irresponsible and a disgrace to those actually doing credible research. Thoughts, anyone?

Instead of eating Twinkies, Taub should make this super easy Tuscan salad: tomatoes, feta cheese, and white beans with any type of lettuce. Eating all that junk food has probably rotted some of his brain cells already.


All in all, it was a beautiful weekend…hope everyone is enjoying fall, and congrats to everyone who ran Chicago today!


p.s. I really want a Polaroid camera.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

pumpkin + tomato soup

Are you sick of reading about my pumpkin recipes yet? We’ve only just begun, friends. This soup is great for warming up on cold fall days.


pumpkin tomato soup {deanna house}

  • 2 t. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 4 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 t. dried basil leaves, crushed
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. ground pepper
  • 2 cups cooked pumpkin

Heat vegetable oil until hot, then sauté onions until tender. Add broth, tomatoes, maple syrup, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce, basil, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes. Stire in pumpkin, and heat until hot. Remove bay leaf. Blend soup in blender (small quantities, leave airspace @ lid to prevent explosions) or use a hand blender.

I’m teaching a community nutrition class on Thursday and have a special recipe planned involving these ingredients from the farmers’ market.


I’m hoping for better results than the last time I attempted a version of this recipe {meaning hopefully my audience will be a little more respectful…and this time I’ll be serving honey crisp apples}. I’m all about spreading the sustainability message, even though it’s considerably harder to do in a smaller town.

Oh, and Foodbuzz sent me some Ghirardelli Luxe Milk chocolates to sample as part of their Tastemaker program. Here is a great lesson in the making.


Do you see that “all natural” label? As other bloggers have discussed, all natural does not mean calorie free or healthful. I find it is a labeling term that’s really confusing (it is not regulated by the FDA and therefore abused at times). To Ghirardelli, this label means their product is free of added color, artificial flavors, and synthetic substances.

Like: It’s chocolate…what’s not to like?! The flavors were pretty good. I sampled the hazelnut, milk chocolate, and almond varieties, but I honestly prefer dark chocolate. The ingredient list was fairly short, which I appreciated.

Dislike: product contains soy…just not a fan of that or corn in everything these days!

As you well know, all natural does not mean free for all. Practice moderation, as always.

Have you seen the 100% natural label claim anywhere?


Friday, October 1, 2010

homemade pumpkin spice latte + thrifting tips!

With fall comes the addition of seasonal coffee drinks to menus in every coffeehouse…even in my small hometown. Unfortunately, no one offers almond milk as a sub for cow’s milk or soy milk, so I rarely get anything except regular coffee or tea. So, I was pretty excited when I found a instructions for homemade pumpkin spice latte.


pumpkin spice latte :: adapted from the kitchn [makes 2 servings]

2 cups almond milk
2 tablespoons canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or combo of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves)
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee-preferably fair trade or comparable (1 tablespoon/6 oz water)

Combine first 3 ingredients and cook on medium heat until steaming. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla and spices. Blend in a blender (make sure you leave a little airspace by the lid to prevent an explosion), or use a hand blender. Pour into mugs, and add expresso on top.

This was pretty much amazing and cost a fraction of what you’d pay anywhere else.

Fall is a great time to start thrifting for foodie-related holiday gifts, so I thought I’d write a little tutorial for you newbies.


Many of you may be wondering which kitchen items are best purchased in the thrifting environment. Are those flaking cast iron pans really a good buy? Will used silverware kill you?

Here are some of the best items to search for when thrifting:

  • Vintage pyrex dishes: Extremely stylish, durable, and usually affordable.
  • Kitchen accessories: Ideas include potato mashers, spoon rests, cake stands, and silverware.
  • Appliances: I once found a barely used bread machine (retails for upwards of $50) for a mere $10. Cha-ching!
  • Mugs, cups, bowls, and plates: Found in many patterns and sizes, these are great first-apartment finds.

Questions to ask before purchasing an item:

  • Is it clean or easily cleanable?
  • Durable?
  • Are there signs of excessive wear and tear?
  • Does it cost less than the current retail value?

Another reason to thrift? It’s my favorite form of recycling. For those of you who don’t live an area where kitchen finds abound, check out Etsy’s collection of vintage housewares. Also, check out the ex-roommate’s Etsy store, Happy Go Vintage!

Do you thrift? What have been your fave thrifted finds?


p.s. congrats to marathonmaiden, who won the Lucini Italia giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered, and thank you to Lucini Italia for their generosity!