Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Modern-Day Diet

A quote from a book review regarding our modern American diet.

"Besides the paucity of good fats, the near hegemony of industrialized foodstuffs in the modern diet, devoid of nearly everything except sugar, salt, toxic oils, and devitalized flours, has helped to create an undernourished population primed for . . . maladies."
from review of Addiction: The Hidden Epidemic by Pam Killeen, reviewed by Katherine Czapp

When we start off our day with processed, sugary cold cereals paired with homogenized, pasteurized skim milk from cows shot full of antibiotics and hormones, continue on to a fast food lunch made from factory-farmed beef with highly processed cheese on a white flour bun and paired with a favorite soda and potatoes fried in vegetable oils and then round the day out with a dinner that features another slab of meat injected with antibiotics and hormones along with a white potatoes or rice, a side of corn or peas as well as a white flour roll and finished off with a bowl of ice cream doused in high-fructose corn syrup chocolate topping we have the makings of the modern America diet. This doesn't even include the bags of potato chips, candy bars, coffee, soda, or sugary snacks that dot the hours between each of our meals. Is it any wonder that we are struggling to feel good, our children are riddled with chronic diseases and each generation is sicker than the last?

The exciting thing is that now we know. We know that these foods are not good for us and now we can make the changes. That is what inspires me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Good Food, Good Health

I love food. 

You too? I love the caramelized onions with red potatoes that we had for dinner the other day, a perfectly runny egg with sausage for breakfast, and that berry spinach smoothie I made yesterday afternoon. I like food. I like the smell of dinner cooking when I open the door at night, I like the juices dripping off the coconut chicken so that it dribbles down my chin, I like crisp crunch of a Fuji apple in the middle of the afternoon. 

Food is fun. It tastes good, it brings people together, it is an endless source of variation, interest and conversation. 

Yummy food! Blessed food! Good food!

I'm planning on sharing more recipes here, more of my thoughts on food and just more about my love of all things regarding health, nutrition and food.

For now listen to this excellent talk by Robyn O'Brien--a food analyst who once saw food only as a commodity and now sees it as a pathway to health. One of her four kids had a major allergic reaction to breakfast one morning and Ms. O'Brien's whole life changed. She talks about what is in our food and why she had to change what her family ate once she realized food's impact on them.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Home Show 2011

My mom decorated a home for the home show this year. She had a great time pulling together all the pieces and I had so much fun giving my opinion about each and every item. :)  Here is a preview of her work. 

The front of the house. Even more charming with all the new flowers and the benches and porch furniture. 

I love the rock on the exterior

The front entry

Living room on the left. Such a sweet little room. 

Walk through the entry into the family room/kitchen

The mantle

Dining room

View from the other side of the dining room

Table in the family room looking into the kitchen

View into the kitchen

The back patio

The kitchen

Kitchen sink looks into the back yard

View of the kitchen from the entry

Adorable child's table at the end of the island

Looking from dining room/kitchen to the stairs

The hallway off the kitchen/dining room

Green bedroom

I love the white and green

Bench in the hallway


Second bedroom is the gray bedroom

Beautiful bed! I love that headboard

Master bedroom

Sitting area in the master bedroom

Master bathroom
Mudroom, the door at the end leads into the two-door garage

Laundry room

Other side of the laundry room
 It is a sweet, charming home. I would buy it if it was the right time for me. There is also a full unfinished basement with big windows. It has a cold storage room and places for a bathroom, two bedrooms and a family room.

What do you think?

Bonus points to anyone who can name the two pieces of furniture that come from my house or to anyone who can name pieces that came from my mom, sister, or sister-in-law's homes. Most of these are major pieces of furniture---*hint, *hint.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spring Flings

Guess where I am going this weekend? Duke University! My brother Brock is graduating from Duke's International MBA program and several of us are making the trip to see him graduate. I'm excited to see the beautiful campus, Cameron Indoor Stadium, the gorgeous North Carolina countryside and eat some barbecue. I'm so proud of Brock (and Adam and Michelle who also graduated with MBAs from Duke) and I'm excited to applaud him as he reaches this milestone. 

Then I am headed for a few days to visit my friend in Kentucky. Time to chat and cook and squeeze her kids and relax. I hope. I hope there is some really good relaxing that takes place over the next few days. At least the change of pace, the change of scenery and the new experiences that will envelop me and refresh me. 

Here's hoping for a good weekend. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Debunking the Fat Myth

Here are a few must-reads and things to look at in reference to the myths surrounding obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Ground-breaking, enriching, thought-provoking ideas. I only share the best of the best.

1. The paradigm-shifting quote from Gary Taubes' book.

Of all the dangerous ideas that health officials could have embraced while trying to understand why we get fat, they would have been hard-pressed to find one ultimately more damaging than calories-in/calories-out. That it reinforces what appears to be so obvious--obesity as the penalty for gluttony and sloth--is what makes it so alluring. But it's misleading and misconceived on so many levels that it's hard to imagine how it survived unscathed and virtually unchallenged for the last fifty years.

It has done incalculable harm. Not only is this thinking at least partly responsible for the ever-growing numbers of obese and overweight in the world--while directing attention away from the real reasons we get fat--but it has served to reinforce the perception that those who are fat have no one to blame but themselves. That eating less invariably fails as a cure for obesity is rarely perceived as the single most important reason to make us question our assumptions, as Hilde Bruch suggested a half century ago. Rather, it is taken as still more evidence that the overweight and obese are incapable of following a diet and eating in moderation. And it puts the blame for their physical condition squarely on their behavior, which couldn't be further from the truth.

------p. 81 Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes

2. An insightful article "Is Sugar Toxic?"  in the New York Times Magazine on sugar and its effect on not only obesity but every person's long-term health. Loved this read! I literally soaked up every single word.

3. A 90-minute video entitled "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" by Dr. Robert Lustig an pediatric endocrinologist. He treats obese children and explains in depth the devastating effects of sugar on not only ourselves but our children as well.

This kind of information fills me up with a gospel-like zeal. I want to shout it to the world! Look at this! It is amazing! How exciting is this research? What an eye-opener! What a wonder!

I've struggled with the chubby factor most of my life. And I've read nearly everything I can about it. I've had a few AH-HA moments along the way. This is one of them. I felt like this book, article, and video synopsized so much of what I have learned the last year or two. They made me happy down to my TOES. I love, love, love insight and wisdom and light.

Take a look for yourself. Maybe you will find something enlightening as well.

Friday, April 8, 2011

More Rearranging

Can you tell what is different in my little place? 

It is big and white and takes up quite a bit of room.

The fridge! You guessed it! I moved the fridge out of the pantry/storage room where it has resided since I moved here. I just never thought there was enough room in my tiny kitchen/living room. The apartment came with the tiny fridge you see in the picture below.

The first week I went grocery shopping and came home and filled the little fridge thinking I would make it work just fine. Until the little fridge froze everything--all the meats, veggies and fruits. So, I bought my own fridge and brought it in but the only place I could find for it was in the storage room.

The storage room/pantry door is the one that is open. I was making that trek from stove to fridge or fridge to sink a thousand times every day. Uggh. Also, don't worry about the door behind the fridge. That goes into my landlady's storage room. She has another apartment in the other half of her basement with a door into that same storage room and that is how she always accesses that room. I think that particular door behind the fridge has only been opened twice since I have lived here.

Well, a few weeks ago, I realized the thing that drives me crazy, crazy, crazy is when I cook, I have to haul everything in from the fridge in the storage room first and then I make a million trips back and forth the whole time I am cooking. While the regular-sized fridge was a step up from the little fridge, it was still inconvenient where it was located but I've been living with it, thinking that I just didn't have enough room to accommodate that fridge in my kitchen space. Plus, wouldn't it look really weird to have a fridge jutting out into the living room and sitting next to my yellow chair?

Well, all that changed several days ago when I realized it mattered more to me now to have a convenient, more effective use of space when I am cooking. I would move the yellow chair out if I had to do it. The kitchen arrangement was more important now. So, I did it--with some amazing help from my mom, the guru of all things homemaking. She is a whiz and made the project fast and easy--and clean. I want to grow up some day to be like her.

I am so thrilled with this change. It makes my life more pleasurable in a thousand tiny ways. I want to cook more and clean up faster. I am so happy with this decision.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I've been told that my recipes are hard to find. So, in an effort to help all five of you find my recipes more quickly, I have built this page. It also resides as a permanent link on the right of the page. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To My Skinny . . .

I vacillate about writing about this topic on my blog. But this little essay I wrote still speaks to me several days later so I am sharing. I wrote most of this letter after I finished reading the book Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. That book seemed to solidify for me some thoughts I have had the last few years regarding weight and obesity and their contribution to self-worth. This is not a review of that book but rather a collection of unfiltered and incomplete thoughts inspired by what I read. 

To my skinny brothers and sisters, 

I have felt for most of my life that being fat was my fault. That is what conventional dietary wisdom taught me: a calorie in and a calorie out. I was fat because I consumed more calories then I expended. Therefore, as the wisdom goes, I need to consume less and exercise more. Sounds correct, right? 

It also presumes that anyone who is fat is that way because they are greedy, lazy and slothful. They eat too much, they are too sedentary or lazy. A conclusion I also believed. Why did I come defective? How come the way I did it was wrong? Why couldn't I figure out how to be healthy and not lazy, slothful or greedy? 

There were years of thinking that emotional eating must be at the root of all of this. I did binge. I did eat lots of treats sometimes. I even ate lots of food sometimes. It must be because I was somehow defective again that I couldn't control myself. That was the message I heard over and over and over again. 

I don't remember when I quit believing it but sometime in the last few years that kind of thinking started to make me really, really mad. I saw skinny people--lots of them--eat huge amounts of food, terrible, awful junk food and never gain an ounce. They looked lean. But not me. I could eat fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein, little fat and exercise like a demon and I would lose some weight but it seemed like I was always semi-starving, needed to exercise a couple of hours or more a day and still it was going to be a lifelong battle to keep it all in check because one little slip and it took vast amounts of energy to get back on that band wagon. And no matter how much weight I lost or how successful I was doing it, I would regain it all sometimes it seemed just by BREATHING. 

One of the reasons I have resisted the idea of bariatric surgery is that I've always wanted to figure out MY BODY, my system, my health. It led to me to reading and studying all kinds of things that "conventional wisdom" told me were wrong. And really for a several years I just gave up. I was going to be blamed for being fat anyway so I might as well enjoy it, right? Being obese is not a defect you can hide in the closet, you wear it around with you every day; and in our cultural climate that means that anyone can offer their advice on how to solve your problem. It has made for some interesting conversations.  

Anyway, all of that was preamble to this book: Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. If what this book talks about is really truth then my entire paradigm on health has shifted. 

Let's say that I was born with a body that is just as healthy and lean as anyone else's body when fed the correct foods. Let's say though that my body's version of good food (food that will turn into energy and not fat) is exclusively proteins, good fats, veggies and some fruit. Everything else (beans, legumes, grains, sugar, starches, etc) tend to make me gain weight. That has always sounded a bit crazy to me or like Atkins where people eat steak and bacon and have bad breath all day, but now I'm beginning to believe that there may just be an answer to all of this "how do I lose weight" and "how to I keep it off forever" and maybe it just isn't as crazy as I once thought. 

I hesitate to think that this is a complete answer. I wish it was but I have read too many things in the past that I thought were "the answer" to really believe this will solve the total problem. But it may. Or it may be a really big part of the answer.

And even that part gives me hope. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Menu for Week of March 13-19

I am trying to do better at menu planning so I have actual food to cook each night instead of foraging through my cupboards hoping that I find a fully cooked meal just waiting for me. Why, you ask, do I do that? Vain hope? Mental deficiency? Laziness? I don't know. I think I keep wishing that my fairy godmother or my actual mother has moved in and cooked a fabulous meal for me.

Most of these meals will have enough extra that I put them in the freezer and refrigerator for later lunches and dinners. And some nights I will make three of these meals at once so I can take them to work and school and not come home until late each night.

I did the shopping on Saturday. I just have to run to one other grocery store to pick up some of the veggies. I will let you know how the week turns out.

Here goes:

M--Shrimp and veggie saute

T--Chicken Dive-In

W--Garden fresh meatballs

Th--Chicken chili soup

F--Mexican stew

Sa--Taco wings and guac dip

This is the plan. Now if I can just stick with it.

Who wants to come to dinner?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Looking Back . . . Then Forward

Last year was a tough year in many ways. Hard things to face and hard things to do. It is painful to confront trouble, deal with it, parcel out the good from the bad and re-orient your perspective so you remember and learn from it all. The year 2010 was one of sifting and sifting and sifting through the chaff and the riff raff to find the gold.

Maybe because of that pain and trouble, things feel especially sweet this year. A couple of really good things have happened in the lives of my friends and family this year. Things that make me want to do a happy dance for them. Just regular things like health, good jobs, and happy accomplishments, but things made all the sweeter because I've learned to treasure and hold the golden things wrapped close to my body, close to my ear, close to my heart and listen for the whispers of relief, the shouts of joy and the silence of peace.

"And men are, that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:25)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Notes to Self

  • It doesn't matter that I don't actually own a TV, the Internet has changed the whole TV-watching landscape and I still watch far too much of it. 
  • I don't have babies of my own so I like to spend time with my nieces and nephews. I haven't had as much time lately to do that and when I do see them it is like my heart expands and wants to burst in those moments. They are growing so tall and growing so big, so very, very fast. Where are the sweet babies they were just a few years ago? I am amazed how quickly they change and how much they take a piece of my heart with them every time I say goodbye to them. 
  • Time is hurtling by. Way too fast for my comfort.
  • I snuggled up and watched some movies this week. It was my mental health reprieve. I am a sucker for British/Edwardian/Austenian kinds of film with a strong dose of anything happy or hopeful. Unlike a  few years ago when I couldn't get enough of dark, deep, thought-provoking films. Right now, I am only interested in sunshine, hope and overcoming at all odds. 
  • I love my Grandmother's couch, my sweet yellow chair and my 1930s cherry mahogany dining table but they are all almost too nice for my house. I worry too much about them staying nice rather than living with them. I think they would fit perfectly in a living room and then I could buy family room furniture and a sturdier casual dining table. 
  • I like my little Pear Tree Cottage but I'm growing up. I'm still years away from it but I want a house. A real, live house of my own with a living room, family room, study, and big kitchen. It cracks me up that I now fall asleep to dreams of gas stoves, stainless steel appliances and dining chairs. 
  • I can imagine myself as a mother, always have, but I have the hardest time imagining myself as a wife. I think my romantic life needs a boost. 
  • I used to wonder at what point older adults gave up on the idea of marriage, a spouse or a family. I know now. They never do. 
  • Living alone was fun at first--doing what you want, never answering to anyone, making and leaving messes without worrying about them--but the initial pleasure has worn off. Life was meant to be lived together surrounded by the daily, constant work of loving others. 
  • Change is hard. 
  • I want to go out to eat more. I want to have more dinner parties. I like good food and good friends. 
  • I've noticed a lot of bad habits lately that have cropped up over the past few years. They are like really big weeds in my garden. I don't like them. 
  • Hard work makes me feel better. I'm just really well-practiced at delaying its arrival. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

House Inspiration

Just a few of my favorite images lately. All have gone in my Dream Home notebook in Evernote. If you haven't heard or used Evernote, check it out. Such a great online, organizing tool. I've used it for a year now and I'm not quite sure what I did without it. 

A photo of my future dining room. 

I love the huge windows, the transom windows, the moldings around the windows, the dark table and the light chairs and the view of the lake. I dream about sitting in a room like this on a Sunday morning enjoying breakfast and welcoming the day ahead. 

 A study that I love. 

Again, I swoon over the architectural details, the moldings, the built-in shelves and desk. I imagine this kind of space in my family home with kids racing up and down the stairs, the kitchen nearby, and me in my study keeping watch over everyone's doings. 

Can life really be this beautiful once in a while? 


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