Thursday, December 20, 2012

Solutions to Holiday Problems Including Puffy Eyes

We’re closed next week and you know what happens right before you go away? Well if you’re like us, you start to lose it. As we outlined our December newsletter, holiday music coming our of our ears (nothing against holiday music), we joked about the 12 days of Christmas which morphed into the 12 days of Craziness and here you have it. For time’s sake I’ll work backwards. I suggest singing out loud it’s sort of stress relieving you know the tune

On the twelfth day of Craziness, Foodtrainers gave to me
A gift certificate for January Foodtraining
Peace of Mind” for patience waning
Oloves for the plane delay
Safslim so weight wont stay
Gluten free cookies for Santa ho, ho, ho
Pure Aloe Force to help me “go”
Hangover Tonic for after “highs”
Green tea ice cubes for puffy eyes.
Raw Reserve for portable green juice
Newtree for my sweet tooth
Astragalus for Immunity

The green tea ice cube tip came from our friend Valerie, founder of Odacite’ skincare. Odacite uses only the best ingredients (all organic no paraben nastiness lurking) I’ve mentioned them before in a skincare post. Recently, they sent out a fantastic email that Valerie gave me permission to repost (condensed a bit).  I love the combination of topical and nutritional solutions for our eyes which Valerie explains is the first place to show signs of aging (no kidding) so it’s important to start caring for eyes early. Find your eye issue and corresponding solution. Personally, I’m a puffiness/sagging hybrid.
Fine Lines, Crows Feet, Sagging
The Cause: UV rays, wind, cold, heat cause inflammation and diminish skin's elasticity. Repeated expressions (smiling, squinting) form creases.
Odacité Solution: Evening primrose, jojoba, and olive oils to hydrate and maintain flexibility. Pomegranate to support the skin’s underlying structure. Blue Green Algae contains powerful antioxidants hat will stimulate the renewal of the firming tissues.
Nutrition Help: Include a variety of brightly colored fresh fruits and veggies in your diet for a blast of antioxidants
The Cause: The skin around your eyes is very thin and does not produce any oil making it extra prone to dryness and flakiness.
Odacité Solutions:  Hyaluronic acid attracts and binds water within the cells of the skin to bring instant hydration. Because hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance found in skin, collagen and other areas of the body it is deeply absorbed with no risk of irritation or allergy.
Nutrition Help: Include nuts and seeds in your diet. One of my favorites is chia, with the highest nu source of omega 3s fatty acids of any seed. Chia seeds are also hydrophilic meaning they attract water.
Dark Circles
The Cause: Genetics, lifestyle, lack of sleep. Also the under-eye and eyelid skin gets thinner and more transparent with age, allowing bluish-red blood vessels to show through.
Odacité Solution:  Tea extracts and Tocopherols (natural Vit E) improve circulation, lessening bluish tones from blood - Aloe to speed healing - Blue green algae for its high Vitamin K content.
Nutrition Help: Eat foods rich in vitamin K, it helps fortify blood-vessel walls. The major source of Vitamin K is green, leafy, vegetables - kale, collards, spinach, and turnip greens are the highest.
The Cause: Fluid pools around the eyes while you sleep but should drain quickly after you get up. Persistent swelling may result from stress, lack of sleep, allergies that cause irritation, or a diet that promotes water retention.
Odacité Solution: Aloe vera to soothe irritated skin.  Calendula to reduce inflammation and redness.  Tea to diminish excess fluid.
Nutrition Help: Drink plenty of water and limit salty restaurant foods, caffeine and alcohol to reduce water retention.
Odacite has a fantastic eye cream for all of your (and my) eye complaints. The Ultra Effective Eye cream is super concentrated, yet very well tolerated by even the most sensitive skin. I contemplated never smiling again, based on what Valerie mentioned, but that will not work so until then Odacite says Happy, puff-free Holidays and is offering a Free eye cream + free shipping with orders above $120 if you use the Code FOODT. Offer valid for 3 days or until 12/23.
Do you use eye cream? What’s your main eye issue? What do you do to ameliorate it? Are you conscious of looking at ingredients in your cosmetics and skincare?
Happy Holidays, thank you for reading. If there’s any topic you’d like to see covered in the New Year, let me know. I’m off to mainline chia and aloe.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Is Christie Too Fat To Be President?

Barbara Walters interviewed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for her "10 Most Fascinating People" Special. I find it rather fascinating that Barbara is this doing these specials but I digress. I’ll admit, I didn’t watch the special but during the interview Barbara did it. She asked the Governor if he was too fat to run for president.

In the commentary I read/watched and by that I mean the ladies of The View rehashing this, Whoopie, and I love Whoopie mentioned Christie could be a heart attack risk. She expressed that people care about his health. If health were really what people cared about they’d be looking at all candidates genetic predispositions and blood work. Our health risk is not purely determined by our weight; it’s just that weight is easier to see. Nobody was aware that President Clinton had a quadruple bypass hiding beneath his skin. Clinton’s “issues” were hidden, at least for a time. I’ve had too many overweight clients told by their companies “we’re worried about you” and some genuinely are. However, many corporations and even family members are also worried by what the obese person’s weight may say about them.

In the interview Christie cited his around the clock work during Hurricane Sandy as proof of his conditioning. It was during Sandy that many were impressed by Christie perhaps even familiarizing themselves with him for the first time. However, I recall press conferences with Christie hunched over the podium, almost hanging on it. He seemed fatigued and worn. Can we make the assumption this is because of his weight? Christie cannot plead the fit but fat card; in 2011 he was hospitalized for asthma.

I have very mixed feelings about all of this. I’d be omitting how I truly feel if, politics aside, I didn’t think of Christie as a potential president with some concern. As someone who champions wellness and fitness, part of me would wonder what Christie, a 300-pound president, would say to the nation and others as we struggle with an obesity epidemic. And as I type that, I can see the counter argument. We have to be careful that we don’t adhere to a narrow, conventional image for our leaders. There was a time when it seemed to be the president you had to be slim and white and male. Thank goodness we have seen that white isn’t a prerequisite. Maybe accepting someone obese is another way of knocking stereotypes down. Although weight isn’t exactly the same thing as race or gender, weight is technically within our control, which makes it tricky.

With Walters, Christie acknowledged that weight was his Achilles heel. Barbara Walters then really crossed over into stupid question land when she asked the governor “why?” We all have flaws and asking some who drinks or yells why they do it shows ignorance. Perhaps, if I let my optimistic side have a crack at this Christie running would shine a light on weight and work and many important (and some stupid) questions along the way.
Do you think weight, when obese, plays a role in politics? What about other professions? Do you think Walter was justified in asking the original question?

And since we're talking politics, I thought I'd include these. A group of RDs supporting Let's Move were in DC in the fall. We're still trying...

The "Garden" is beautiful, any private citizen can request a tour... 
View of The White House from the garden.
The calm before the storm
OK garden tour over, time for lunch.

Carolyn, Ashley and I wish I, cheating photo from before our visit

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Do you prefer Sally Field or Elizabeth Olsen Foods?

I have mixed feelings about food fashions. Some trends can get out of hand. For example, there is kale which I suggested was getting Kardashian like. Though the trendiness annoys me, I still like kale. As for Kim and Kourtney…still don’t quite understand. Other foods are more Elizabeth Olsen-ish. They are intriging and appealing but you may or may not have heard of them. With any new foods there’s a vetting process we go through to find out if it’s not only new but worthy.

Irish Moss
Irish moss is a seaweed that’s high in protein, iodine and some B vitamins
It’s commonly used as a thickener; you soak it and then blend it. It works well in smoothies and many vegan desserts such as mousses and custards. Unfortunately some reports lead us to believe it’s potentially a health hazard and can increase the risk of certain cancers. This is a good reminder that just because something is natural doesn’t mean safe. I wouldn't "cast" this one.

Sea Buckthorn 
(see photo above)
I first started thinking about sea buckthorn a couple of winters ago. Sea buckthorn oil is used in many lotions and topical preparations and is one of my go-to weapons for dry, flaky “winter skin”. Sure enough, I wasn’t the only one comtemplating buckthorn and now I’m hearing about it more and more. Sea-buckhorn’s Latin name means “making horses shine” and this interesting omega-7 oil, rich in beta carotene and vitamin C, is helpful for many skin conditions. Sea buckthorn is a shrub with a brightly colored berry; it has a tart flavor. A company called Sibu makes a sea buckhorn juice product; my only hesitation is that due to the flavor it is paired with apple juice concentrate. Dr Weil’s restaurants True Food use sea buckthorn juice in a number of dishes including a sorbet. We’ve seen sea buckthorn jelly and teas. I look forward to more options and edible forms, my concern is that since the taste is sour and acidic many preparations like the Sibu will be sweeter. This is a food I’d put into the “one to watch” category.  For now, lotions such as Weleda’s Sea Buckthorn Lotion and buckhorn oil used topically are good options.


Photo via Eattheweeds
Yacon is a root vegetable but not just any root vegetable. It has prebiotic properties meaning it helps intestinal flora as probiotics feed on prebiotics. Jerusalem artichokes are also prebiotics. Yacon is one of the highest vegetable sources of FOS (fructooligosaccharides), which help GI health (less bloating and less constipation), immunity and potentially mood. Yacon also boats a sweet taste but doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. I use yacon in smoothies using a powdered form from Navitas Naturals that has been increasingly hard to find.  There is also yacon syrup, which can be used in baking, and yacon slices which makes a nice snack.  Yacon, with interesting attributes, is definitely worth checking out. Yacon aced its audition.

So whether it’s foods or film, there’s nothing wrong with reliable standbys. Sally Field or Sally Field foods broccoli, cauliflower etc. aren’t going anywhere and are great options. However, whether for variety or for specific health benefits it’s fun to branch out, you just might not like what you find every time.
Do you like experimenting with new ingredients? Which ones are you enjoying lately? Would you say you like Sally Field or Elizabeth Olsen foods?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Reliefatinis for the Food Bank of New York

 When you lose someone you love, there’s a period of time where everyone is reaching out. They have you on their radar and call, email and want to help you through the unbearably tough time. Inevitably, your friends, coworkers and neighbors go back to their lives and somewhat expect you to do the same. However,  you can’t bounce back because for you it’s not a current event or a minor setback, for you it’s everything. I would bet so many people devastated by Sandy are feeling that sense that the world around them is going back to normal.  As we buy gifts, light candles and put up trees, remember that  “the things we take for granted others are praying for”.

During the storm, I reached out to my talented friends Marissa Alperin, jewelry designer,  and John Marsh chef/owner of Green Square Tavern (according to Dr Oz, Marsh is a food snob too, thank goodness) to put together an evening to benefit Food Bank NYC. Last Thursday night was the gathering.
As you may know, I love to plan, but also had some great help.

There were flowers from my favorite local florist Rachel Cho

Delicious organic bites from John Marsh of Greensquare Tavern

Resident taste tester, sampling before guests arrive
Shrimp with a homemade hoisin
When it came to cocktails,  Marissa and I knew we needed a Reliefatini but I was striking out with apple (for "Big Apple") concoctions. A friend found a description for a drink from a place in SF called Elixir. I emailed for a recipe and before I knew it had virtual mixology support from the proprietor of Elixir, Joseph Ehrmann. I infused Chopin (potato vodka) with cinnamon sticks for 48 hours, purchased apple bitters, had a bottle of Morris Kitchen ginger syrup and fresh lime juice. As I thought of more and more things to add, my cocktail advisor suggested "remember less is more" which just happened to have been one of my dad's mantras. 

 We also had white wine with a few pomagranate seeds for color and cucumber infused water.
And of course Marissa’s creations (with profits for Sandy) and a donation box for Food Bank NYC

There was a part of me that felt guilty “partying” in the name of Sandy. I decided we should share a story as a reminder of why we had all gathered together. My friend J. spoke of her babysitter Verna. Verna, mother of 9 children herself, is a special soul. When our kids were younger, on my most frazzled days I would see Verna at preschool and in 30 seconds she’d have me calm. My nanny sick? Verna would watch the baby so I could run to work. Verna lived in the Rockaways a couple of blocks from the water and lost everything in the storm. She and her children were in the shelters and then scattered with family. J shared this story and Marissa pulled me aside and said “why aren’t we giving everything to Verna”? I knew what she meant but there are so many Verna’s.

J talking about Verna
Can you spot Carolyn? I have a lot of tall friends, what's up with that?
At the end of the night, Marissa realized we didn’t raffle off a beautiful pair of earrings; she left them with me to use for the blog. Friday, as I was cleaning up and thinking about the night, the doorbell rang. I know it sounds like I’m making this up but you know who it was. It was Verna with a huge smile on her face, of course. My babysitter and Verna were friends and she had been calling her nonstop but hadn’t reached her. When I hugged her and asked that dumb question “how are you?” She looked at me and said “I’m getting there.” Wow.  I ran to my office and put together some money and then had a thought. I gave Verna the note with cash in it to help her family but then I remembered Marissa’s earrings. I told Verna, I know you’re not spending on things as silly as this, please accept these and know we’re still thinking about you.

Verna on the left and lovely Louise on the right
It was a really special night; I had friends together from many different parts of my life. Many of these women showed up for Sandy and the Food Bank despite not knowing anyone. Everyone mixed and mingled. The next day I received a bunch of emails thanking me for hosting but what touched me is how many comments I received about the group who had assembled. "Your friends are lovely" said one guest. The truth is they are. Hosting is  a way to have some fun with great food and interesting drinks but I don't take for granted everyone who showed up to support a cause that will continue to need our help.

I'm a fan of a party favor and we had a bowl of one of my favorite treats "Mounds" cookies from a fantastic restaurant Rockin' Raw. A note on the bowl read "thank you for supporting our Sandy Efforts, you rock." What really rocked was sending in a substantial donation to the Food Bank of New York.
My friend Aidan Donnelley Rowley recently posted on the ingredients for a good gathering, what do you think those are? Everyone talks about the importance of a relaxed host, can you relax when hosting? Do you think it's inevitable to "go back to normal" following a disaster? 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

No, I Haven't Started Holiday Shopping

Not once but twice yesterday I was asked “all your Christmas shopping done?” This question bugs me for a few reasons. First, I was never told holiday shopping was competitive but seems it is, second how do strangers know if I Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanza? And I guess third is the fact that I haven’t really started “holiday” shopping so being reminded of that stresses me out. 

Last week I posted about some selections from our Foodtrainers’ Gift Guide. I have a few personal favorites from the list I couldn’t leave out.  It’s probably no coincidence that two items are things you can do at home and the other two make me smile. Staying home and smiling sounds good to me, anyone else?

For the kombuchaholic on your list, here’s a DIY kit. Part of me is nervous to ferment on my own but I can see saving serious money doing so. Did you know Whole Foods now cards for kombucha? Yup.

Fuck Skinny
I love Catherine Zadeh’s work. She does jewelry for both women and men (the manly bracelets are great gifts).  She’s not only talented but snarky and charitable. She’s donating 15% if you use code LIFE 15 to Cycle for Survival. Skinny is fine but healthy and alive is where it’s at.

There are so many things to worry about I often don’t know where to start. There’s the pulp waste from the juicer and the coffee grinds from the coffee maker. BTTR shared my waste-worry and devised a way to use coffee grinds to make dinner. Talk about resourceful, I’m thinking the kids will like this gift as much as I will. As they say “the gift that keeps on growing”. If mushroom growing sounds up your alley (not those mushrooms people), BTTR is giving one of their kits away.

Carolyn found these “geltdigger” sweaters and I love them. Hanukah starts on the 8th and I’m thinking you need to wear one of these to that party or give it to your favorite geltfiend.

Karlie’s Kookies.
My friend Meg brought these for me at our Sandy fundraiser last week. They’re from Momofuko Milk Bar, gluten free, not too sweet. I love everything about them but the Huffington Post didn’t. They didn’t like that Karlie Kloss, a model accused of being too thin, is producing cookies with the tagline “fashionably wholesome”. It appears they are saying fuck skinny.
Have you jumped into the holiday shopping shark tank? What do you think makes a great gift? What’s the best gift you’ve received recently? Comment for a chance to win Back to the Root's cool growing kit or tweet us @Foodtrainers. Enter by Monday 12/10.
Congratulations to our gift winners
Erin, you'll be receive Weelicious
Randi the Sprigs running wallet
Jessica the Foodtrainers Nutcase
Liz, Sam, Cameo, Gina and EA the Dram Hangover Tonic
Cheers to all of you.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Time Magazine Says I'm A Snob, Are You?

Let’s start with a little scenario. At work, you’re up for a promotion. The promotion would be great; the extra money will make a difference. It’s something you’d really like to happen. Your current position is fine, it pays the bills but you’d love the opportunity to take on the new job. Announcements are made and you don’t get it. Initially you’re crushed but you find a way to spin it. “I didn’t really want the job, it would mean longer hours and more stress, I’m fine with my current position.” Let me translate, once you saw that you weren’t switching jobs, and receiving the associated benefits, you made a case for status quo…that doesn’t mean the promotion wouldn’t have been better.

The same thinking applies to food. Organic everything is not in everyone’s budget. That doesn’t mean (Stanford University) that organic/wild/grass-fed isn’t “worth” it. It’s up to nutritionists to assist individuals to make the best food choices with what they have to spend. Dr Oz, in a Time Magazine cover story “What to Eat Now: the anti-food-snob diet”, is telling Americans not only do you not need the “promotion” (or fresh produce or uncanned food) but also that your current position (supermarket staples) is just as good. I’m all for pointing out affordable, cost-effective food options but you don’t have to knock well-produced food. If we assume  all foods are created equal you’re not getting the whole story.

Dr Oz would probably agree you can get heart surgery at most hospitals but “elite” institutions like Columbia University Medical Center will offer cutting edge techniques, the finest doctors and superior care. Would it make you a “health snob” to send a family member, assuming you had the opportunity, to a top-notch hospital? Or is all heart surgery, like spinach, is the same?

Throughout the article Dr Oz frequently uses “nutritionally speaking” but “speaks” only in the terms that support his message. He cites sodium and the macronutrients protein, carbs and fats in his explanation. Surely, doing his show day after day with nutrition experts (who are really well versed “nutritionally speaking”) Dr Oz knows of BPAs in most canned goods, pesticides in conventional produce, omega 3s and trans fats but maybe I’m being elitist in mentioning these details. In a discussion on meat, Oz condescends and says “there’s no question grass-fed, free-range, pasture-dwelling cows lead happier lives” but when he glosses over hormones, antibiotics, E. coli saying “if these things are important to you and you have the money to spend” go for it. Yes, hormones, antibiotics and E. coli are rather important, not a very “happy life” for me with my family consuming those.

Many of the examples cited are inconsistent. Nitrates in cold cuts are discouraged “don’t go there” but potential trans fats in PB are ignored. “Baked Pita Chips are great” really, “nutritionally speaking” what do they offer? Is fiber an “artisanal ingredient”?  Dr Oz  breaks down fats into the archaic saturates are bad and unsaturated are good but nutrition experts, even the non-snobby ones, know that there are good saturated fats  (hello coconut and chocolate) and less healthy unsaturated fats so that’s not a great teaching tool.

I would let all these details go (not so good at letting things go but I would be less harsh) if the premise of the article was healthy, affordable food for all. However, polarizing specialty brands, farmer’s markets and “meat boutiques” on one side as snobby and unnecessary and suggesting supermarket, conventional food as affordable, accessible and every bit as good doesn’t tell a balanced tale. And I have to point out people would be better served using hard-earned money for organic dairy than the esoteric supplements Dr Oz pushes daily on his show.  It would be nice if we could all eat high quality food, achieve professional success and go to the finest hospitals but we cannot. We need to make the best food choices we can, within our budgets, and that may involve some sacrifices in terms of health and taste.  I may be a food snob but I’m an honest one.
Did you read the article? Do you think you need to knock the smaller and perhaps more expensive options to point out affordable ones? Do you think organic, grass-fed, fresh, hormone free food is "basically the same"? 
Last day to enter/win Foodtrainers Favorite Gifts (I should say snobby gifts).