Monday, September 22, 2014

What's in my bag? Nutrition edition

I am weirdly obsessed with what people have in things. What’s in their fridge, what’s in their shopping cart and Us Weekly’swhat’s in my bag”. It has nothing to do with wanting to critique. As I said in The Little Book of Thin, the fridge is the new medicine cabinet and I can’t help myself from wanting to snoop. Even if I don’t know who person is or don’t especially like the person the mint or makeup they swear by is interesting to me. And of course if someone has a Foodtrainers-approved snack or product they’re immediately on my “like list”.

US Weekly isn’t calling any time soon so in case you’re wondering (and I realize you may not be) here’s what I have.
In my Matt and Nat cork bag: I love these bags out of Montreal which are sustainable and ecofriendly with liners made out of plastic bottles.
  1. Foodtrainers’ Nutcase  always have a nutcase with me as this is my snack most afternoons. I'm currently loving SuperSeedz and always on looking for interesting nut mixes or flavors. No more overnutting or hangry afternoons.
  2. Swell Water bottle  if I’m carrying a bag it’s huge and there’s plenty of room for a water bottle. I'm loving these bottles from Swell for every one of these wood bottles sold American Forests plants a tree. Plus, these bottles will not open in your purse. Laptops do not need to hydrate.
  3. Vitamin case- I always fill a case with my “pills” du jour. Lately my every day vitamins have been saffron, evening primrose and Coq10.
  4. Teabags- I’ll generally take something with caffeine like a puEhr or Runa and something herbal. Pukka makes the best teas.  
  5. Fitbit Charger- I panic when my fitbit battery is low. If this charger isn’t connected to my laptop is always in my bag.  
  6. 21 drops- roll on fragrance is fantastic. We discovered the aromatherapy from 21 drops. MY favorite is Abstain, I love the spicy scent and let’s face it- worth a try when the dessert menu arrives. 
  7. Mykitch hair ties- there are always a few of these floating around my purse. When you have “fine” hair like I do the last think you want is a hairband ripping out precious strands. I run in the headbands too. 
  8. Lanyard- my younger son makes these keychains every summer at camp. This year he had me pick my colors on visiting day. This makes me happy whenever I see it in my bag. Who knows, maybe making lanyards is the next cure of evening snacking?
  9.  Ilia lip gloss- most women have their go to shade of lipstick or gloss. The Butterfly and I from Ilia is mine.  Aside from the versatile color, the ingredients are all safe and high quality. It’s not just what we put in our bodies…
  10. Woowoo bamboo-I’m anti gum and try not to mint too often. Yes, I carry a toothbrush in my makeup case. These from woo woo bamboo are great. You can see this one is used (ick but true).
So these are my top 10 purse staples. I left out the laptop, Ipad, phone, cork (of course) notebook etc. because a) I didn’t want my photo to look messy and b) I tried to stick to food or wellness items. So I cheated, I didn’t do the bag dump but you know what? I’m guessing  the ladies in Us Weekly don't either.

So now it's your turn, what do you always have in your bag? Any of items on my list you're curious about? Are you going to try making lanyards?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Keep drinking that coffee part 2

I should admit my bias off the bat and say I adore coffee. I also field a lot of coffee questions. Last week a client asked “in an ideal world should I quit coffee?”  No and that world would be far from ideal.  And It’s not just that you shouldn’t quit coffee because it isn’t that bad, coffee has its “perks” (couldn’t resist that pun , didn’t want to). The Bulletproof Coffee concept is also gaining popularity, an LBT reader asked “what's the deal with bulletproof coffee? Gross? Awesome?” I say awesome and wrote about it in the spring.

There are times I look back on an old post and want to update or rewrite certain things but this You Should Drink Coffee and the Best Coffee to Drink post still stands. So the next time someone tries to rain on your coffee parade, send them this. Or, just send them my way. I’m pretty protective when it comes to my “joe”.
Speaking of, what’s your favorite type of coffee (beans)? What do you make your coffee in? Hot coffee or iced coffee? And have you tried Bulletproof coffee?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Are you vegan, vegetarian, paleo? Shush….

I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~ Gerry Spence

Last week I sat in a new doctor’s waiting room filling out paperwork. It was standard stuff past medical history, family history, medication information (none for me) etc. Then there was a section about exercise and eating. I described my exercise routine, vitamin regime and then stopped at a question you would think was up my alley. The question asked “are you a ” and then listed various dietary regimes such as vegetarian, vegan, kosher and a few others. I settled on something to the effect of balanced eater.

The truth is I don’t subscribe to any particular dietary camp. I’m allergic to wheat, seek out organic produce and wild fish, love certain things paleo (but also like legumes and dairy) and I enjoy perusing raw food blogs and juice daily.  I was reminded of the blogger previously known as The Blonde Vegan whose story received a lot of attention this summer.  For serious personal reasons, this blogger transitioned away from a strictly vegan diet and switched the name of her platform to the Balanced Blonde. She received criticism and threats in the process for not being strictly vegan. 
 Last month a study and corresponding article in the New York Times about low carb versus lowfat made the rounds and I cringed again. The term low carb seems as outdated as low fat. Shouldn’t the conversation be about which carbs are best to eat and the right fats? 

My friend and colleague Ashley Koff has a term “qualitarian” which resonates with me but all of this segregation reminds me a little of why I am a more spiritual person than a religious one. Both religion and nutrition should be about improvement and for me it’s individual with aspects from various faiths and dietary regimes resonating with me.  And let's be clear you can have someone who's a junky gluten free eater subsisting on potato starch-laden products or a vegan mainlining white, bready items.

Why do we need the labels? I can only think the descriptions make sense when someone else is preparing your food. I go to a restaurant and mention my allergy or "gluten free", I can imagine “vegan” makes things cut and dry as well. Although I am fine with eating fish, meat and dairy I understand the desire to exclude all animal products. The second we’re judging someone as not vegan enough or devout enough we’re focusing on exclusion and that to me isn’t healthy.
How do you describe your eating? Are you a ________? Why do you think these camps or terms have become so popular? 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Beyond paella, saffron may be a secret weapon

It may not seem like it but when it comes to food products and certainly supplements I am a huge skeptic. Clients often email me photos of food products or links to articles and often my reply is “I wouldn’t bother.” Over them summer I received the following email
Hi Lauren,
Hope you’re enjoying your summer. I loved Little Book of Thin and have been following the 10 Steps to Svelte, broke up with sweeteners etc. I also started taking saffron supplements and I’m curious if they’re green lighted.  Maybe a good YOSA topic for the blog?
IF you’re not familiar with YOSA it’s our acronym for “yay or step away”.  After some digging I saw there was some research behind saffron and I have a soft spot for spices as I feel they have been used for so long. So I also ordered these capsules but didn’t expect much.

Saffron is that super expensive reddish spice that comes in threads and is most commonly used in paella. Saffron is actually from the stigma of a flower called Crocus sativus L (such a shame nobody plays trivial pursuit anymore). Saffron has centuries of use as a remedy in Indian and Chinese cultures but these saffron capsules contain much more saffron than the spice itself.

Saffron’s potential benefits are appetite reduction, mood improvement (thought many of the studies have been small) and one of the constituents of saffron, crocetin, shows potential in terms of cancerprevention and treatment. Saffron is absolutely not something I would recommend for pregnant women as it can cause uterine contractions or in dosages above five grams per day.

Here’s the part where I start to sound like an infomercial. I took the saffron as directed before lunch and dinner. I noticed the biggest difference at restaurant meals where portions are larger. I was pushing away plates left and right. And the few times I noticed I had that typical urge to pick or graze I had forgotten my saffron. Now, nothing is going to help if your basics aren’t in order. But if you’re like the reader above who is doing your basics or “10 Steps to Svelte” and feel your portions are too large or your appetite tremendous, this is worth a try. In terms of YOSA criteria I’m going to say “YAY”.

If you’re not a capsule person or don’t tend toward ginormous portions. I also love saffron tea. It’s a Moroccan tradition. I boil water and combine green tea and about ½ tsp. saffron. I let this steep for 5 minutes, strain the leaves/threads and add a little sweetener (Nustevia or honey).
For some more Fallspiration check out our Monthly Morsels newsletter which was delivered today

Do you saffron? How do you use it in cooking? What are your favorite spices? Have you heard of the saffron/appetite connection? Anything you'd like us to consider for YOSA?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Should we care about Kirsten Gillibrand’s weight?

Kirsten Gillibrand, a US Senator from New York,  has a new book out called Off the Sidelines. Much of the press surrounding the book has focused on her weight. People Magazine had the headline “Porky in Politics” and NY Daily News led with  “Kirsten Gillibrand talks weight struggles and sexism in new book”  Of course I read this coverage with interest.
Part of me thought she’s a US friggin’ senator and we’re focused on her weight and then quickly I corrected myself. It doesn’t matter if you’re a senator people care about weight and the vast majority of people personally care about their weight and image too. In Gillibrand’s case there were the countless comments colleagues (I should say other politicians) made. This one was priceless, a male colleague’s comment when seeing Gillibrand at the congressional gym, “Good thing you’re working out, because you wouldn’t want to get porky!” Gillibrand’s response: “Thanks, a—hole.”

Gillibrand says she’s been every size from a 4 to a 16 and in a testament to my belief that the busier you are the more you get done she managed to lose 40 pounds while running for election. Yes, senators (and CEOs and celebrities) keep food journals. Gillibrand also emailed with her sister for support and has seen a nutritionist. So there’s something private and relatable about Gillibrand’s transformation. She has talked about her children saying, “I hope I’m setting a good example for them by making health a priority.” She has talked about her husband’s support in making sure she had time for her morning run.“If I find an hour a day for myself, I’m a better mom and senator.”

But there’s another piece of this and that’s what happened to Gillibrand’s approval ratings with her weight loss. The Post summed it up this way “Senator Kristen Gillibrand went from plump and obscure to thin and popular.”  And though there’s been talk of Chris Christie’s weight, this Washington Post writer summed it up best “appearance matters in politics, for male and female candidates. But it is an inescapable fact of political life that for female candidates, appearance matters more.”

Politics is a game, Gillibrand seems to be playing it well but playing it with integrity. While weight loss may have boosted her you can’t lose weight without really putting the time in and doing the work. And you can’t keep weight off for a job or because you “should”.
Were you aware of Gillibrand's weight loss? Do you think weight matters in every profession? Do you think it's different depending on your gender? 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


In case you're in denial, snapped this yesterday. 
I don’t know about you but I’m over the grieving of summer gone by. You know what I’m talking about “I wish it lasted a little longer” or just the last everything “last dinner outside” or “last hurrah”. As if one cannot eat outside or have “hurrahs” in September. But if some suffer from over-kvechting, my attitude toward the seasons (and life in general) is more ADD in nature. Maybe it’s the planning gene but during the summer I’m excited about fall, when I’m on a vacation and should be “in the moment” I’m onto the next moment.

No matter what your “seasonal” issues are Labor Day was yesterday, kids (except mine) are back in school, limbs and midriffs will soon be covered (amen) and hey- the shrinks are back.

And because everyone isn’t like me doing their “summer’s over and it’s ok” jig, let me try to take your mind off it. Here’s some fall inspiration or “fallspiration” if you will
If you're feeling summer-sentimental this is the antidote
Pumpkin  No-Yo
If you’re in NYC, go to Hu Kitchen and try their No Yo Pumpkin Parfait. With pumpkin, maple, coconut milk and this crunchy goodness on top, you’ll forget summer I promise. And it’s grain free, gluten free and soy free.

Carolyn’s just back from a trip to Portland aka pear central. As she said “pears are the new apples”, they’re loaded with fiber (5g/pear) and antioxidants. We’re loving crunchy boscs and using them waldorf-style  in salads and poaching them for a sweet dessert (if Carolyn can do it…)

New Season, new chip
 If the tortilla chip epitomizes summer, fall is about veggie chips. How about Snip Chips made from parsnips? Also loving and constantly selling out of Brussels Bytes (maybe I’m not the only fall fan)

Ancient Grains
It may be time to say goodbye ceviche and hello comfort food, healthy comfort food.
Ancient grains are something you’re going to be hearing more about. I’m loving this cookbook Cook With Ancient Grains. Ancient grains haven’t been changed or mangled (that’s one of the issues with wheat is how much it has changed. This cookbook has interesting uses for quinoa, chia and kaniwa. Even Udi’s the great, gluten free company has a line utilizing these ancient grains. We may have tried their jalapeno crisps on the way to Vermont.

New Tools

You may be excited about new clothes, for me it’s new tools – I have an Excalibur dehydrator I’m ready to put that summer produce in. I’ll be telling you all about my adventures with it but maybe you want to try a spiralizer or a new juicer?

No more portion distortion (or just distortion)
If you’re ready to buckle down you need your “food supplies”. I first learned about these stainless food containers from Food Matters. For lunches I use 1 for the salad or veggie portion of my meal and the other for protein. They’re great for transporting food but I use them at home to eyeball portions. 

What's Your Goal?
Summer sort of goal-less by nature but now it’s time for a challenge, Carolyn and I doing the 30-day push up challenge. Of course Fitbit can help if you’ve logged more hours on a lounge chair or car than on your feet. We’ve also had massive fun with this weighted hula hoop from Canyon hoops, we even had our office doorman hula hooping on side walk (don’t think men are the only people who cat call or honk to show “support).

Metabolism Tea
How about “just what metabolism ordered” Pu-Her tea. It’s from the same plant as green tea but it’s fermented. Crazy things happen when you ferment and some of the bacteria contain ingredients. that can lower LDL (bad) and raise HDL. Drink an hour after a meal. The Chinese have credited it with weight loss, our clients would agree. 

And I don’t want to spill all my Sept secrets. Be sure you’re signed up for our Monthly Morsels newsletter. We’re revealing (love the nutrition drama) our ultimate appetite squasher in Monday’s email.

What’s your Fallspiration or what are you most excited about? Any of our fall favorites you’re going to check out? If you’ve been away welcome back, let me know if there are any topics you want to see covered.