Wednesday, March 30, 2011

sustainability fused music

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know that music has been a big part of my life. Last weekend I went home to see an orchestra concert centered around the theme of sustainability. Super nerdy, but I actually like going to concerts alone; I don’t enjoy them if I’m constantly worried that the people I’m with are bored or want to leave.

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[I used to spend HOURS in a practice room…in college and grad school, I played at least 2-4 hrs/day!].

While there were some absolutely fantastic musical moments, the corresponding media presentation left a lot to be desired. But still, it was refreshing and exciting to see that my hometown is beginning to explore the concept of sustainability.

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Speaking of green-friendly things, lately, I’ve been all about the smoothies. I especially crave them after running…

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kale + banana + almond milk

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kale + blueberries + banana + almond milk

Can you tell I’m kind of obsessed with kale right now?! And I’m excited for more produce to be in season. This summer, I’m pretty sure I’m going to pick a crazy amount of blueberries.

Also, CSN sent me this lovely set of knives to review [while I received them for free, the following review is my own opinion)].

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After picking them up at a Fedex holding center (which very much resembled a maximum security prison), I tested them on some celery.

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Their sharpness didn’t blow me away, but then again maybe that’s a good thing…I’d like all my fingers to remain intact, thank you very much. And let’s be honest, the last knife set I owned was a Target special, so these are a huge improvement.

favorite smoothie ingredient?! ready, go…

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p.s. did anyone see the article in the NY Times about food dyes and behavioral problems?! pretty interesting stuff…but I still think companies should be required to disclose GMOs just as they’re required to alert us to artificial food dyes.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

the renal diet is [seriously] crazy

I’m working with a lot of patients with renal (kidney-related) disease at my new job, and the diet I have to recommend for many of these patients is one that would be very difficult to follow myself.

kidneys

For being such small organs (approximately each the size of a fist), the kidneys do a whole lotta work!

  • filter waste from the blood
  • release erythropoeitin, which stimulates production of red blood cells
  • regulate electrolytes (sodium, potassium) and release renin, which regulates blood pressure
  • release calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D, which helps maintain calcium for bones and for normal chemical balance in the body
  • regulate acid-base balance

When your kidneys aren’t working properly, this affects sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and protein regulation, which may require you to decrease consumption of foods that contain these items.

These would be some of the hardest ones for me to give up…

  • bananas
  • oranges
  • sweet potatoes
  • beans
  • peanut butter
  • chocolate

I’d really love to come up with some fun food ideas that fit into the kidney diet guidelines, a sort of cookbook to give to clients with creative recipes. Like cauliflower mac & cheese and faux chicken nuggets (because let’s face it…all children love these foods).

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I made whole wheat apple muffins recently. If made a smidge smaller, they might just fit into the renal diet [**edited to add: Since I've received some comments about this, I wanted to say that in general, these muffins would not be acceptable as a regular part of a renal diet. I think that most foods can fit into the renal diet as special treats, but they should not be consumed occasionally. As always, consult your renal dietitian, who is familiar with your specific case, labs, meds, etc. before making any dietary changes].

My modifications: sub applesauce for the butter and leave out some of the sugar (or don’t…I won’t tell).

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Yes, these are giant muffins because I have a Texas-sized muffin tin, which is incredibly fun to use and requires less filling of muffins cups, which I also appreciate.

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Time for a run…it’s sunny but still cold here! Spring can come anytime…..anytime.

How would you do on the renal diet?!

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

[pseudo] spring break!

Currently taking a self-imposed spring break before work gets super crazy. Pretty much the best idea ever:

family ski trip: lots of laughing, some faceplanting (never try to push me as we get off the lift or bad things will happen to you), and gorgeous weather.

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epic day of yeast-bread baking: yeast is a unicellular organism that ferments sugar into carbon dioxide gas, causing bread to rise. Making yeast bread can be a little tricky because the water temperature for dissolving has to be just right (100-110 F).

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I helped Dave make this recipe for whole wheat bread with caraway and anise, which ends with semi-braiding the bread. It was hardcore (as in 10 minutes of kneading which I didn’t do) but turned out really well…it’s pretty amazing to make and eat your own bread.

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The second best use of yeast is to make homemade pizza dough. I actually prefer homemade pizza over other pizza. And it’s incredibly easy (and cheap!) to make.

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Super excited that spring starts this Sunday…it’s about time!

Do you have a fave recipe that incorporates yeast?

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

preservative-free snackage

I officially finished M. Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma this past week. If you haven’t read his books, I’d highly recommend them for an in-depth look at what our food system has become. Seriously scary.

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Many of Pollan’s sentiments regarding food echo my own, and I’ve definitely become enlightened on the whole industrial organic scheme and the crazy ingredients in packaged products. I don’t eat many, but even the ones I occasionally buy sometimes make me cringe.

For example:

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Ingredients: ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT FLOUR, SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, LEAVENING (CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA), SALT, SOY LECITHIN

Hello, sketchy ingredients.

Enter this version:

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Ingredients: whole wheat flour, salt, turbinado sugar, baking soda, olive oil, butter.

Much, much better. I left out the extra salt and butter because you’ll find these already have plenty of butter.

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Now, there is no way I could possibly make as many crackers as some autobot-powered machine. However, I also was ill-equipped (no clue where my rolling pin is…I used a can of olive oil spray). I think the yield should really be between 40-50 crackers (mine was closer to 30).

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These crackers are also pretty awesome with peanut butter dip [greek yogurt + PB + vanilla extract + cinnamon]. And you don’t have to eat 60 billion because they definitely are more filling than those of a certain brand.

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Maybe I was excited to eat them. Or maybe I was excited that it was 40 degrees outside = perfect running weather. Or…maybe it was that extra hour of sleep I lost…

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I also outsmarted my super sensitive smoke detector by taking out the battery…success!

What did you do this weekend?!

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***Thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the craziness happening in Japan. I can’t even completely comprehend the situation but am most certainly thinking of all who are grieving…

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

rainy wednesday

It rained all day, and I have to confess that I actually enjoy rain. Despite the fact that the sun is hiding, I like the sound of rain, the slightly melancholy mood it potentiates, and the excuse it provides to eat soup and homemade bread.

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[Even without the heat on, my apt is 60 billion degrees, which is awesome for proofing bread.]

I love homemade sourdough bread, but I decided to try this no-knead bread from Mark Bittman since I haven’t made any starter yet. It was pretty easy; you can quickly mix up the dough before work and bake it when you come back. Using whole wheat flour makes the bread especially dense and gives it a nutty flavor.

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And this butternut squash and apple soup has become one of my favorites. I pre-cooked the squash yesterday to save time. Confession: I never roast the spices. And I don’t measure them either. But it always seems to work out okay.

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In other news, I’m kind of in love with running in the rain. Although I splashed through some major puddles and was completely soaked after an hour, I see rain as a sign that spring is coming (finally…geez!), and I’m pretty excited about that.

Rain…love it or hate it?

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Monday, March 7, 2011

belief ----> action

Whenever I move to a new place, it’s not long before I start to notice little quirks…like the large flock of geese that honk at all hours of the day (and night) and a very sensitive smoke alarm that went off no less than 4 times when I was roasting butternut squash. But, that just gives the space character, right?!

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I had some requests for an apartment tour. Honestly, it makes me cringe to let you see everything half finished, but here’s one wall in progress; there are faux polaroid photos going on top of the corkboards eventually. Btdubs, everything is not crooked, the photographer just doesn’t know how to hold a camera straight…

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Embroidery is super easy, and it makes inexpensive wall art [tutorial here!]. The frames are simply embroidery hoops that I painted in 5 minutes.

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I stitched this piece during the snow craziness this weekend. To me, trees symbolize growth and hope, so I think it’s a pretty relevant piece of wall art for this stage in my life…

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Lately, I’ve been pondering the intersection between belief and action. If you truly believe in something, won’t you do it? And if you don’t, does that mean you don’t really believe it after all?

For me, this means putting into practice the nutrition principles I value: eating real food, moderation, local and sustainable food, etc. I find it ironic that my busy dietitian job is forcing me to be more thoughtful about nutrition [as in, I have to plan healthful meals or they won’t happen!].

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I’ve seen variations of sweet potato hummus floating around the blogosphere, so I decided to give it a try. I’m definitely more of a savory hummus fan, and the sweet potato gives this a sweet bent, so I’m not quite sure what I think of it.

[modified] sweet potato hummus :: based on gena’s recipe

  • 1 large sweet potato, cooked, skin removed, and cut into chunks
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained,
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • juice from 1/2 an orange
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • black pepper to taste
  • shake of cinnamon
  • water

Mix everything together and blend via food processor. This hummus also weirdly tastes good with bbq sauce. Maybe because I love eating sweet potato fries with this particular condiment?

Anyone else have any unique hummus recipes?!

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

back in the loop

I was only without internet for a week, but I kinda feel like I’ve been disconnected from the world! I have a habit of starting each morning with the New York Times website (in an attempt to be more educated about world events) + coffee, and I’m a compulsive email checker.
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When I was home this past weekend, the most bizarre thing happened. In the midst of moving furniture, I left my wallet on the trunk of my dad’s car…and he drove off with it like that! I didn’t realize it until the next morning but miraculously found it in a snow bank. Everything was still there…just snowcovered.
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Moving, as expected, was a giant pain. But I have to say I LOVE having my own space. After being around patients and craziness all day, I just need Pandora and a clean apartment. And I can now walk to work, which is pretty fantastic.
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Other than that, I’m trying to up my vegetable intake to combat the effects of stress and increased exposure to all sorts of lovely germs. Bring on the kale smoothies…
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And I definitely tested out my oven this weekend by baking some banana bread. I think my new neighbors will love living next to me…maybe this will make up for playing my clarinet in the apartment (ha).
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Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! More nutrition-related posts coming soon…promise.
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p.s. another CSN review coming. Lately, I've been browsing their office furniture, especially since my desk chair got lost somewhere in transit during the move.