Friday, July 29, 2011

Favorite Frozen Treats and Confession

Soft Serve Fruit Co
To me, summer means the sweet local corn, gazpacho, ceviche and the perfect glass of rose'. I realize my list omitted many people’s cool, creamy, summery favorite ice cream. After our frozen yogurt fuss of last summer, we’re not going to mention you know who but there are a few frozen Foodtrainers’ favorites I thought you should know about. They even won this salty tooth over.

Soft Serve Fruit Co
Brittany, our fabulous summer nutrition nerd (aka intern) talked to Chloe Epstein, one of the founders of Soft Serve Fruit Co, to learn more. Chloe said “ I was a big frozen yogurt fan but once I started to think about getting pregnant, my priorities changed. I became more concerned with ingredients rather than just calories.” Speaking of ingredients, Soft Serve Fruit Co has only three: fruit, filtered water and cane sugar. It’s dairy free, vegan, gluten free, kosher and really delicious. With a Union Square location some of the fruits are organic and others local. My favorite flavor was banana with pear as the runner-up. Toppings range from fresh fruit to gluten free cookies and warm natural peanut butter.  The good news if you’re not in New York? Soft serve fruit company ships nation wide.

With my children away (I really think I have mentioned this in most posts since they left, as promised), my husband is a little cranky. Though he is somewhat cranky, unlike his wife, that his playmates kids aren’t around he is more annoyed over the lack of sweets in the house. As a good wife (and tired of his rummaging through the cabinets) I purchased Organic Nectar’s Cashewtopia in pistachio. I didn’t tell him this was dairy free, gluten free and made from cashews (for fear he’d get even more cranky).  Instead, I scooped some into a ramekin and drizzled Newtree’s dark chocolate sauce on top. My husband’s reaction, “what’s with the tiny bowl?” Nice.


I’ve written about Smooze before but feel no frozen dessert post is complete without mentioning these adorable and low calorie treats. Smooze is made with coconut milk.  They come shelf-stable (good for travel treats) and can be frozen later. They are sort of like adult creamsicles with flavors such as passion fruit and mango.

Homemade Ideas

Earlier in the summer, we did a popsicle test kitchen. Those were a lot of fun. I’m also a huge fan of frozen organic red grapes, frozen banana slices and the banana soft serve recipes (link via Choosing Raw) circulating the blogosphere.
Full disclosure, I’m often satisfied with one spoonful of the real deal.  I may have enjoyed a taste of salted caramel ice cream at ABC Kitchen today (they sent Lisa and I out dessert, knowing full well we’re nutritionists).  As I said, I don’t really have a sweet tooth, ha.
What’s been your favorite frozen treat this summer? Your favorite summery food?  Would you choose rose’ over sorbet?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Spices are Alphabetized by Desk is a Mess

The desk that inspired it all,  not mine it's Fit Chick's
If you came to my kitchen you could open my spice drawer and see bottles alphabetized from Arrowroot to Vanilla Bean. In my refrigerator there’s usually a pitcher of iced tea, another of filtered water, glass containers of prepped vegetables and multiples of staple ingredients. I make a menu over the weekend and cook most nights. Before you get annoyed or think I’m bragging, don't worry there's more to this story. Food and nutrition are important to me and I spend time and energy focusing on what my family and I consume. I have a system that works and work to make the system better. Just off of the kitchen is another room; it’s a small room my husband and I use for our home office.

There are two white desks and matching chairs. My husband’s desk is orderly. There are two laptops, framed photos of the children and one of me, a scanner/printer and the most current issue of Golf Digest. Then there’s my desk. Until yesterday, my desk had piles of clippings: recipes, articles to potentially blog about, magazines I hadn’t read yet, food labels, bills, mail, a necklace I had taken off, you get the picture. You actually will not get the picture because I forgot to take a before photo. This room was an anomaly. It was such an eyesore that, when home, I often disconnect my MacBook and move it into the kitchen and work there.

With my children away at camp for another few weeks, I sensed an opportunity and decided to call in a professional. My friend recommended a professional organizer named Kim Parker and gave me Kim’s phone number.  When I texted Kim I asked for her website, turns out it’s not up yet. She’s not on twitter either. Hmn,  I wondered what my desk would look like if I wasn’t blogging or tweeting but I am so that's that. Kim arrived and jumped right in. She buttered me up telling me I have “lots of things happening in this space" (no kidding) home stuff, work stuff, running stuff and travel stuff. We got to work purging and the truth is, given the time, I love tossing things. Some Kim wisdom:
  • Just because something is good information (handouts from 10 years ago) doesn't mean you have to keep it, especially if not using it
  • If you have cabinet or drawer space you don't need files on your desk (who knew?)
  • When organizing, often things get worse, look worse, before they get better.
  • Choose your system, there's more than one. My husband scans everything. He would have scan-kids and a scan-wife if possible. Kim reassured me paper is a possibility as long as it has a place.
We worked for about four hours and though we’re not done yet. I feel great. I didn’t know how much the disorder was bothering me until we started to clear it. Marc joked “I can’t believe throwing out files put you in such a good mood.” This got me thinking about the carryover effect of organizing. Ironically, I see the reverse effect among my clients. Once food becomes more organized, clients often feel more motivated at work or more balanced when it comes to mood. Freeing yourself from clutter, whether it’s papers, stress or weight – provides you will energy for other pursuits. So now I’m off to make tonight’s ceviche and of course tweet and read some blogs.
What is your clutter area or what do you put off? Do you think it’s unusual to be organized and orderly in one area of your life  and chaotic in another? Where are you most and least organized? 

Monday, July 25, 2011

There Are Bad Foods and Bad Kids Too

This "wonderful child" isn't anyone I know

I know there are some people who think all children are wonderful. After nine-plus years of parenting and plenty of play dates I know this is not true. There was one child who expressed his disappointment at having to leave our house by biting my babysitter when she tried to comfort him. There were others who not only played “army” but concocted battle scenarios with such detail I know I will be reading about them one day and not in a good way. All children “have their moments” but some are just not good.

There’s a food equivalent of all “all children are wonderful” and this is a belief system that holds there are no bad foods. I’ve questioned this one for a while but felt validated to read a recent Jane Brody article. The article focuses on the habits of 120,877 health professionals followed for 12 to 20 years. Periodically the subjects answered in depth questions about their eating, exercise, sleep, alcohol and television habits. Participants weren’t obese at the study’s start but steadily gained an average of 16.8 pounds in 20 years. One of the lead researchers, Dr Mozaffarian a cardiologist and epidemiologist had this to say about the results:
“There are good foods and bad foods, and the advice should be to eat the good foods more and the bad foods less. The notion that it’s O.K. to eat everything in moderation is just an excuse to eat whatever you want.”             
In this study foods that contributed to greatest weight gain were French Fries, potato chips, sugar-sweetened drinks, red meat, processed meat, other forms of potatoes, sweets and desserts and refined grains.  My bad food list, not solely concerned with weight, would include artificial sweeteners and anything artificially sweetened (diet soda topping this list), bagels, bottled salad dressings, foods using dyes, TVP and products using processed soy and factory farmed meat.

Many people have items on my list and the items from the study’s findings they eat. Lest people accuse me of advocating dietary perfection, I will confess that I adore a crispy French fry and really enjoy chocolate (and not only the dark kind). Having said this, when I consume these foods I am aware they are a deviation from my healthy diet and know they are bad (if the criteria has to do with health) foods. We need to move away from the Pollyannaish food thinking.

The retort to any acknowledgement that all foods don’t fit is that deprivation leads to disordered eating and eating disorders. With all due respect to eating disorders and the struggle ED individuals endure, we are not a deprived nation.  Telling people they can have fries and chips and hot dogs and soda “in moderation” is akin to telling the “wonderful” boy above he can bite every so often.

As important as it is to acknowledge that certain foods lead to weight gain thereby affecting our health, that isn’t the only message. When I meet with a new client I first focus on what needs to be added to their diets. “Eat more fruits and vegetables” suffers from vagueness.  Dietary advice needs to encourage people to snack on sliced watermelon in the summer, roast Brussels sprouts in the winter and bake some French fries. It’s not dietary doom and deprivation but honesty and inspiration that’s needed.  We cannot wait for people to be ill or obese to embrace significant behavioral changes, the writing is on the wall we just have to read it.
Do you agree or disagree there are bad foods? If you agree, what foods would you add to the unhealthy list? What’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to children’s behavior? Or do you think all children are wonderful?
The winner of our Travel Snack Bundle is Erin from The Healthy Apron, thank you to everyone for entering and for spreading the word about our new store.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Jen Goodman Linn: You Were Fearless

From Jen's Blog

Two years ago, a client was referred to me. When I received her information forms, my heart sunk. The paperwork described a woman, in her thirties, who had been diagnosed with Sarcoma, a rare cancer, in 2003. She had already endured 26 months of chemo and 4 abdominal surgeries. The next day, in my waiting room, was this adorable, bubbly girl with a wide smile and beautiful white teeth. When we started to talk, she was very pragmatic. She was cancer free but wanted to put herself in the best place nutritionally in the event that the cancer came back (and she said it just like that). We devised a plan and, not one to waste precious time, she immediately implemented everything we outlined. This client's name is Jen but I no longer think of her as my client. I think of her as my friend, my teacher and my hero who I will miss so very much. Jen passed away on Wednesday and her funeral is today. 
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count, it is the life in your years."-Abe Lincoln

The quote above appeared on Jen’s Facebook page where people have been sending their wishes and sharing their sadness. Jen wasn't one to stay sad though; she knew how to live. She and her husband Dave started Cycle for Survival and it’s the most successful patient initiated charity Memorial Sloan Kettering has ever had raising over nine million dollars to for rare cancers. I remember sitting with Jen, in November, she was at Sloan getting a blood transfusion and fairly weak. Never one to let an opportunity slip away Jen was signing nurses up for Cycle. Marc and I were honored to experience  Cycle this spring on Team Fearless, Jen’s team. And in all the times I have seen Jen since that first office visit, that smile never faded.

I don’t have wit in me right now but tried to capture some Jen lessons:
Rejoice in what your body can do. 
The second Jen was cleared by doctors she was at the gym trying to regain her strength. Oh and did I mention she asked for a stationary bike in her hospital room? She started Cycle, in part, because spinning was what kept her sane though her treatments and illness. I wrote about Jen before I ran Chicago this year. I was anxious about the race (the weather was much like today) and received this email from Jen:
I am so excited for your marathon next week. If you get tired running just think of the fact that many of us take for granted what a privilege it is to be able to run. With my stomach cramps and tumors, I haven't been able to truly run in years. I miss it so, so much. So enjoy all 26.2 miles because you can! I will be cheering for you from afar.
I will run this morning before the funeral Jen, because I can, and I'll think of you; I’ll play Chumbawamba too.

Know when to see the trees instead of the forest.
Jen endured a roller coaster life of progress and setbacks. When she received news that wasn’t good, she wanted a plan. When the plan for the new treatment was in place, Jen would focus on the steps involved or the treatments. She was like a quarterback who could hone in on the play without getting distracted by all that was happening around them. I think this helped her live fearlessly.  So when you are daunted, sit back and make a game plan. Anytime you feel shaky just refer to the plan. There is something very Zen about this.

Vanity is Good
Jen often joked, “I can be bald or fat but not both” and wrote a great WebMD piece about this. I had found it hard to figure out how clients battling things way more important than weight cared about their weight. Jen’s doctor explained it “being vain is a GREAT thing. It shows that you have a true desire and willingness to live." There is something about our hair and our weight that is integral to who we are. It isn’t shallow to cling to these things when tested. It shows you are hanging on.

Tell People What You Need (or Don’t Need)
Jen was her own advocate. I heard from Jen regularly and at one point didn’t get a reply. I panicked. I  sent Jen an email “everything OK?” I made a mistake and said “I’m worried.”  Jen emailed back all right. She said, “please don’t say you’re worried. It makes me anxious.” While I was daunted at first, I learned a lot about communicating with people when they are ill from Jen.  I made another mistake on July 11th.  Jen’s doctors had some concerns about her blood work and we were emailing about what she should eat. I offered to drop off some things after work. Only, it got late and I didn’t think I should bother her. Jen sent an email I got in the morning “I didn’t know if you were coming, no package was left.” She called me on it and that was my last email from her. I'm sorry Jen, what I would do now for one more conversation, to see that smile one last time.

 Jen turned 40 this past March. She was the happiest person in the worth to turn 40. It was a gift and she did a “dance” video in her own honor. This makes me smile; please watch it to see Jen in action.

In Jen’s words:
“We all have a choice in how we want to live our lives … I have chosen to be Me Fearless. I have applied this approach to every aspect of my life and, in the process, I’ve discovered that amazing things present themselves. My mission now is to encourage those around me to apply that philosophy to their lives and relish in the results. You can become You Fearless.”
Let’s all try, in Jen's honor. 
Jen chronicled her journey on her site

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Travel Eating: Tips and Treats

In the past two days I’ve talked travel-eating strategies with a client headed to Istanbul and another going on safari. My travel plans aren’t nearly as exotic but still require planning. I thought I’d share my top travel-eating tips and treats as well as some exciting news.

Travel Tips: 
Avoid airline food at all costs if you are actually served anything. I don’t care if it’s business class or coach. On certain airlines the food may look decent or taste fine (doubtful) but it’s still brimming with sodium, preservatives not to mention bacteria. Bring a salad, brown rice sushi or sandwich on sprouted bread instead.

Quickies (as far as workouts) are worth it. If you’re used to a super spin class or hour-long run you may feel those are difficult to replicate while away.  Don’t let your type-A ness get in your way. Fifteen minutes of plank, pushups, tricep dips and water-bottle bicep curls are better than nothing. I love my friend Amie Hoff’s advice- tell yourself you’ll do 10 minutes (at the gym or for a run) you’ll always do more. Fifteen minutes a day might keep a little weight away.

Start your day on track. I’m a fan of including protein in breakfast to help control calories later in the day. Whether it’s eggs, yogurt, nut butter or a “shaken” smoothie there’s plenty of time to play later.

No lunch drinking. Maybe it has to do with the city of drinkers I live among and counsel every day but vacation often means every hour is happy hour. This is dangerous. Lunch drinking makes you more likely to eat the wrong things, nap away your afternoon and wake up just in time to drink again. Cocktails, preferably singular, are fine at cocktail hour.

And finally, beware of the "ef-its". I have no problem cursing in real life but don’t think I should here, not sure why.  It’s a few days into a vacation you’re eating anything and everything and feeling down on yourself. Do not ever say “when I get home I’ll eat well” or any version of it; that's  an "f-it" mindset. That also gives you license to eat more and worse.  Pick 1 area to try to reign in whether it’s dessert , the breadbasket or drinking. 

Travel Treats
We organize food “packing lists” for client’s vacations. This includes must have items to help keep them on track when away from home.  The best news of all? All of these essentials are available in our *new* Foodtrainers Online Shop (that’s the exciting news in case you didn’t know).

Kale Krackers- our new favorites from Kookie Karma. These are adult Cheese- Its sans cheese (or any dairy). They’re low calorie and addictive. A carry-on must.

Barney Butter and GG Bran Crips. These 90-calorie almond butter backs on GG’s are a great snack. They also come in handy when breakfast options are slim or “continental”.

Chia Sticks- sometimes things don’t “go” so well when we’re away. Chia can help get things moving. Chia seeds are high in fiber and in the manner in which they digest can act as an appetite suppressant. These single-serve chia packs are milled (no sticking in your teeth) and can be added to yogurt or sprinkled over fruit on the road.

Sheffa- we admit there’s no easier snack than nuts but there’s only so many almonds a person can eat before craving something more exciting. These gluten-free, single serve nut mixes come in various flavors and include interesting ingredients like chickpea “noodles”, coconut and papaya.

Eboost- bust bloat and jet lag at once. “Boost” contains green tea and vitamin C. It’s the perfect healthy, stevia-sweetened energy drink. Just mix with a tall glass of water and enjoy.

We’ve created a fantastic Travel Snack Bundle for you to sample our favorite treats and we’re giving a bundle away. To enter, comment below and “like” Foodtrainers on Facebook. You have until Sunday 7/24.
What helps you to eat well while away? What’s on your food-packing list? Any fun trips planned?  Even day trips need treats, be prepared.

Monday, July 18, 2011

10 Reasons I'll Never Be Vegan

Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to express yourself and your feelings about Michelle Obama’s Shake Shack visit.  I was reading and replying to your comments as we made our way up to the Berkshires for the weekend.  We went to see my boys who are at sleep away camp there. Saturday after visiting the boys, we went to friends in the area for dinner.  My friend S. and her friends who were there all leaned a little (or a lot) in the healthy direction and it wasn’t long before food and nutrition came up.

One of the women mentioned that she had experimented with veganism for a few months after reading The China Study.  I have to say that this book and Earthlings have a fairly high conversion rate for people considering going vegan.  I don’t eat a lot of animal protein and the bulk of my intake is fruits and vegetables. I’ve even done vegan cleanses and feel fantastic when I do. However, for me there are some foods I couldn’t part with or am not willing to give up. 

Eggs are one of my favorite foods. I get my eggs from a company called New York Milk. This morning I had poached omega 3 eggs over artichoke hearts at a lovely restaurant called Haven. I love making frittatas and often make them in mini muffin trays to for a few days. A weird dinner I often make is scrambled eggs with peas and pesto.

I love sushi. I love hand rolls, maki rolls and sashimi. I love uni and tobiko and octopus. I don’t want cucumber rolls or veggie hand rolls. I often seek out brown rice sushi but I’m hearing more about quinoa sushi too, have you tried them?

When I think of food indulgences I think of cheese. If I have a choice between a cheese course and dessert, cheese wins. I have a few friends who feel as strongly (no pun intended) about cheese as I do and wonder if this is the basis of our friendship. I don’t keep a lot of cheese around but usually have a crumbled feta or this outstanding lavender goat’s cheese I get at the Union Square Farmer’s market.

Lamb Chops
I don’t crave steak, I used to love a good burger and use Hardwick’s grass-fed beef for meatloaf and burgers at home but my burger cravings aren’t that intense. If I had to pick one meat meal to have here and there it would be lamb chops. I make lamb chops for my kids as my mother did for me growing up. I use rosemary, garlic and olive oil grill them and then finish them in the oven. My mom used to call the crunchy part on the bone the “candy” and I’d have to agree with her. I realize I just repulsed any vegan reading this post.

Poached Salmon
Another favorite dinner is poached wild salmon. If you’re not a salmon lover there’s something about chilling the salmon that makes it much more mild. I poach in lemon, white wine, water and bay leaves and chill it a few hours before eating. It’s fantastic summer meal and great for lunch the next day too.

Ronnybrook and Siggis
Many mornings I have a splash of almond breeze in my coffee. Here and there I use Ronnybrook half and half and it’s so delicious. Siggi’s makes delicious dairy too. I love their skyr and also the probiotic shots.

Zoe Tuna
I have written about Zoe so many times, I now see it in all my friend’s pantries. It also makes a great hostess gift for friends who will not think you’ve lost it giving them tuna, maybe throw in your favorite olive oil just in case. Zoe is a staple item in my lunch routine. Half a jar with avocado and your favorite greens and life is good (unless you’re vegan).

In addition to foods I can’t live without there are foods I’m not wild about. I am not a huge soy fan. I don’t like to eat anything with TVP. While not all vegetarians and vegans and soyholics, without soy, a vegan diet is a little more difficult.

As we talked about veganism and our personal pros and cons, the woman I was talking to admitted she felt she ate more while vegan. “It was so hard to satiate myself, I ended up gaining weight.” I can’t lie; I find eggs and fish very satisfying. While there are more important factors when deciding whether or not to be vegan,  I fear I too would overeat and “pork up” on a vegan diet. This was not the first I've heard about the weight gain and veganism.

After Friday’s post, many commenters felt strongly that any food plan should include treats. In writing this I see each of these foods treats in their own way. You’ll let me know if you agree.
Have you ever considered going vegan? Any animal foods you couldn’t give up? If you are vegan, any foods you miss? Any books or movies that changed the way you eat?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mrs Obama: Let's Move to Shake Shack

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that Michelle Obama aka FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States though perhaps I am the only person who didn’t know this acronym) paid a visit to the new Washington D.C. Shake Shack. I learned of this through twitter and the sentiment among my colleagues, many of whom are nutritionists, was generally supportive. “She’s human.” “She doesn’t eat that way all the time” and my personal fingernails-on-a chalkboard expression “everything in moderation” were just a few of the reactions I recall.  The Independent even ran a story “Michelle Obama eats burger nutritionists approve.” Wait a minute, I'm a nutritionist and I don't approve.

Let’s Move!
Michelle Obama’s major initiative is childhood obesity. Her campaign Let’s Move!  Is about helping children and families live healthier lives. In their own words they’re:
Giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices. Providing healthier foods in our schools. Ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food. And, helping kids become more physically active.
What about Shake Shack is in line with this mission? If her platform was smoking, would we be ok with her having a cigarette once in a while?  As President Obama focuses on the economy many articles have pointed fingers at his spending.

I asked a couple of my favorite nutritionists a few questions about this (mostly to see if I was overreacting). Keri Glassman said “this was overindulging in a very public manner when she is spending the majority of her time in public promoting good health!" Andy Bellatti admitted “frankly, I’m much more concerned with the policies Michelle Obama supports than what she puts in her mouth. That said, I don’t see why her Shake Shack visit needs to be applauded. It reeks of “oh don’t worry folks, she’s not one of those ‘tofu’ crazies. See, she loves burgers and fries just like you.”
You don’t see burgers and fries on the Let’s Move food and nutrition page, you see this

One of the tweeters told me repeatedly that healthy eating was all about BVM. BVM, BVM- what was he talking about? BMW? No, BVM. This, it seems, stands for Balance, Variety and Moderation.  I’m sorry; Mrs. Obama had a ShackBurger, fries, a chocolate shake and Diet Coke to wash it all down. Over 1500 calories or a day’s worth. My verdict? Immoderate. Keri Glassman said it well “A home made, perhaps grass-fed burger – fine. Even a "bite" of someone’s fast food is fine. But a total no holds barred indulgence in fast food - not fine! Andy added, “just like “natural” there is no tangible definition of “moderation.”

Trust Me, I’m not Perfect (but I am a snob)
In the course of the twitter “debate” one in the “BVM” camp said to me “we can’t eat perfectly all the time, #FLOTUS showed us all foods fit.” I don’t think Americans or obese children need a FLOTUS path paved to fast food, they are “fitting” it in just fine.  How about this- all foods don’t need to fit. I know it’s a nutty suggestion but what about suggesting a month without fast food and soda? Or if that’s unrealistic, have Michelle Obama go to a fast food restaurant and order small fries (her favorite) and a salad? Or post a recipe on the White House website for baked French fries.

I don’t eat fast food because I think about where my food comes from and how it’s made. I documented my last experience with fast food, in a blizzard on the Interstate with 2 screaming children. It wasn’t pretty and I’m still shocked we weren’t pursued by Alka- Seltzer for a commercial-yuck.
For the record Keri said “I do not eat fast food and do not bring my kids.” Andy, when asked if he eats fast food, replied “every day! It takes me 45 seconds to make a smoothie, 60 seconds to make a green juice, 15 seconds to grab a handful of almonds and about 2 minutes to toast bread and top it with avocado, arugula, balsamic and lemon juice.”

I can only imagine the number of hits the Shake Shack website received and the number of Shackburgers sold after Ms. Obama’s visit. I wish she had “moved” in a healthier direction.
Are you supportive of, disappointed by or indifferent to Ms. Obama’s burger? Do you feel experts should practice what they preach? Do you eat fast food? Do you believe in Moderation?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kate's Weight: The Incredibly Shrinking Duchess

The few posts I’ve done on celebrities and their weight always seem to elicit a certain number of responses along the lines of “we shouldn’t talk about other people’s weight” or “we should focus on their work”. If you share this view, I apologize this post is not for you. I am intrigued by weight loss and weight gain. Celebrities are well documented and weight can be traced along with fashion highs and lows and unfortunate “procedures” (poor Courtney Cox couldn’t leave well enough alone). I found myself thinking about a status update from my friend Meg, who said I could use her name. She wrote:

“Love Kate Middleton but isn't she moving from bridal skinny to a bit scary skinny? Or am I just jealous of what appears to be an ever-shrinking waist?”

Back in May, I wrote about my royal wedding “binge”.  So many people, like me, were sort of transfixed by this woman who seemed (and seems) to be a perfect princess now Duchess.  Like my friend Meg, I too am a Kate fan. She’s likeable with her wide smile, poise and the way she looks lovingly at William. I had thought it was my professional bias but I had keyed in on Kate’s weight loss. When I read Meg’s comment and the comments on her comment I realized many people have noticed Kate’s incredibly shrinking waist. In her recent California visit, Nicole Kidman and Reece Witherspoon looked downright chubby next to Kate. The Daily Mail entitled one article “the waist that made Nicole Kidman look dumpy.”

The "Whistles" outfit, thoughts?
This is all speculation and nobody knows the reason behind Kate’s weight loss other than her. Having said that, I’m full of curiosity. Sure Kate is the picture of composure, perfectly dressed and coiffed. She appears to be at ease with public appearances but can you imagine the attention? In my “research” I have read posts about the hose Kate, as a royal, is required to wear, her workouts at a private gym and boatloads about her, somewhat dowdy if you ask me, Whistles outfit for her final event Stateside. When billions of people are scrutinizing you, can anyone (or any female) be immune? We know about Diana’s eating disorder and Fergie was rudely nicknamed “the Duchess of Pork” so maybe weight issues and the Windsor family go hand and hand.

I asked my friend Meg for permission to use her comment and she added:
 And I keep thinking about it, I loved that she was kind of a (extra pretty) regular girl and now she looks like she could slip through a subway grate. I also wonder if I'm jealous of her thinness in a kind of a triggering maybe when a friend loses a lot of weight and suddenly you see her's rife.       

I don’t see this exactly as Meg does but agree that, in the past, Kate looked like a lean, athletic and “regular” girl (who happens to be almost 6 feet tall). She had just right look where few would argue she had to lose or gain weight. This weight loss to be reminds me of Jennifer Hudson though the two started with very different physiques. Despite how seemingly comfortable these women were prior to being in the spotlight, something changed. Let’s hope for Kate it was just a visit to Hollywood and nothing more. I doubt it though.
What do you think of Kate’s weight loss? Do you may attention to celebrity’s weight? Do you agree that the navy and white number wasn’t Kate’s best?
PS Congratulations to Cameo on winning our gluten free giveaway. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do you know where that apple has been? Fruit Washing 101.

I remember an Oprah episode, which now makes me sad to say, where people were taped coming out of restrooms. Cameras were perched above a bank of sinks and people were recorded “washing their hands.” Some people washed for the proper about of time or the time it takes to sing happy birthday. Others turned on the water, placed their hands underneath and did something that, if my kids tried, would result in a second supervised trip to the sink. And of course, there were some repulsive souls who skipped the sinks altogether. Ew but expected. 

I would love a similar sink-cam but I’d  observe peoples fruit-washing. After all, if washing is spotty after the potty I can only imagine the state of raspberry rinsing. I answered a few questions for HGTV magazine that I thought would be good to share.  If you’re like my mother and eat unwashed (conventional!) grapes while you grocery shop or like my husband who “shines” his fruit  with a paper towel versus washing it-see what I’m up against? Read on…

Why is it bad to eat unwashed fruit?
For the same reason you wouldn't run around on a farm or supermarket and lick your feet. Sorry if that sounds gross but a host of different bacteria have been found on unwashed produce not to mention animal feces. This is responsible for a good deal of food borne illness. Washing produce for 15 seconds (not the 1 second shake under water most people do) can reduce 98% of bacteria.
Does the type of fruit matter?
It doesn't, you want to wash produce you're going to peel with a knife as well as fruit where you eat the peel. If you cut a melon or avocado with a knife bacterial can be transferred from the skin to the inside. I also suggest washing pre-washed lettuce. Better safe than salmonella.

Does it matter if the fruits were grown organically?
 I would buy organic produce whenever possible.  Conventional produce retains pesticide residues even once washed. For the above reasons, organic produce still needs to be washed. 

Where does the bacteria come from?
For starters, from the 20 people who may have touched that apple before you did. Bacteria can also be picked up from the soil in which fruits or veggies grow and from insects on the farm. Reuters reported tests revealed a quarter of a  million microorganisms on unwashed apples in a San Diego grocery store. 

What’s the best method to washing your fruit?
For most produce wash under  water for 15 seconds, skip the produce washes and do not soak fruit in a basin of water (this doesn't wash bacteria away). Fruits with ridges or rinds  such as cantaloupe or squash should be cleaned using a produce brush under water as bacteria can cling to the crevices.

Would you consider this a simple manner of hygiene or a necessity? Why or why not?
Necessity, remember the E. coli outbreaks linked to spinach? It's not worth it and children or immune compromised adults are especially vulnerable.

Any other notes on washing fruit?
Before you wash your fruit, wash your hands.

What kind of fruit washer are you? Have you thought about where your produce has been? Do you nibble as you eat in the grocery store?  Be honest, as Oprah says when you know better you do better.

Friday, July 8, 2011

G-Free NYC: Foodtrainers Gluten Free Favorites

Some women are excited by jewelry, others favor shoe stores or clothing boutiques. A few months back, after a long run, I was walking home via West 85th St and saw a blue and white striped awning with “g-free nyc” written on it. At first I thought I was hallucinating from dehydration. When I realized this soon-to-open store was dedicated to gluten free items, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to tell the nutrition nerds about it. Melissa, who does our Market Foodtraining tours, is here to tell you about her favorite g-free nyc finds.

I have counseled many gluten intolerant clients.  It wasn’t until going gluten-free myself that I realized first hand how difficult finding good substitutes to everyday items can be. While I do promote naturally gluten free foods such as produce, lean protein and gluten free grains,  I wouldn’t be Market Melissa  if I didn’t like a good product find. You can scour the shelves of your local grocery store to find gluten free foods.  Trader Joe’s has all of their gluten free products labeled with a (g), which is great, but there is nothing easier or better than a whole store dedicated to gluten free food. Enter: g-free nyc

While g-free isn’t a large store, it is packed with topnotch products. Lynn, g-free’s owner,  was tired of tasting terrible tasting gluten-free food and decided to start a business to showcase her selections. Every item in the store has been taste tested by Lynn and her loyal customers. Finding delicious gluten-free products is one thing; finding ones that aren’t heavily processed is another. I think many people associate gluten-free with being healthy and that is not always the case (potato flour anyone?). Here are some our Foodtrainers’ Favorites from g-free nyc:

The staff at g-free nyc told us this was their top pick and seller when it comes to bread. It wins for heartiness, which many gf breads often lack.

This wins the best pasta award. While there are many gf pastas on the market, this corn-based choice will fool even your toughest wheat tolerant family member into thinking it’s the real thing. Lynn imports this product in from Italy (which interestingly happens to have a high rate of celiac disease). We will assume Italy knows what they are talking about when it comes to pasta. If you want to go the brown rice pasta route, Tinkyada is a great brand. The key is to rinse the pasta in cold water immediately after cooking to prevent clumping. Top with heated sauce or olive oil and garlic.

For the sushi lover (like me), I love these tamari travel packs. After one too many restaurants saying they didn’t have tamari (and choking down a dry sushi roll), I now bring along with me one of these packs just in case. The same company also makes a great Teriyaki sauce that is a best seller at the store. This is great for stir-fries or marinating meat or fish.

I was happy to spot some familiar products. I spotted the Purely Elizabeth Granola that Lauren enjoys before her long runs. And while searched and taste tested many gf crackers Mary’s Gone crackers will always take the prize. You can find them at g-free nyc as well as at Foodtrainers. That is how much we love them.

Don’t worry we have something for the chocolate lover too. This is not just any chocolate, it's a GF "crunch" bar.

The fun doesn’t stop there. Pop in the store on Saturday mornings for freshly baked gluten-free bread or on Sunday for “Sample Sundays” where you can try some of the staff’s favorite items. A different product is featured each Sunday. On any given day you will also find freshly baked gluten-free goods from tu-lu’s bakery downtown. While the Upper West Side is currently the only g-free nyc location, they hope to expand soon. Stay tuned for delivery options around Manhattan in the coming months. For all of our New York City readers, Lynn has graciously offered one lucky reader a free gluten and dairy free cake that she promises won’t disappoint. Post a comment here and mention you would like to be entered into the drawing. *Applicants must be able to pick up the cake at the store.

As always, Foodtrainers is here to help. Join us on a Gluten-Free Market Foodtraining tour or come in for a Gluten-Free Foodtraining session. 
Have you tried any of these products? What are your favorite gluten-free products? Do you find it hard to find gluten-free substitutes to some of your favorite foods?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Positive Peer Pressure

I woke up sore and tired and tweeted about it yesterday.  “Too much July 4th celebrating?” someone replied. Nope, this fatigue didn’t have to do with imbibing or late nights though there were controlled cocktails (delicious white sangria and lime/thyme vodka concoctions). 
We spent the weekend staying with friends at the beach. There were six adults in total, all of us fairly active. Carolyn had recently mentioned the importance of having active friends and I think my friends qualify. Over the course of the 3-day weekend, at various times we:
  • Participated in As 1’s inaugural workout classes at the beach (push ups in the sand anyone?)
  • Rode 60+ miles to Montauk
  • Spun at Soul Cycle’s Springsteen Class
  • Kayaked
  • Tubed
  • Played basketball
  • Swam laps
  • Ran Firecracker 8K race
  • Played Tennis

Granted, we didn’t each do all of these things. However, everyone was doing something daily, if not more.  To some people this may sound exhausting but it was really one of the best weekends. We joked that while all of us had children away at camp (yep, mentioned it again), we were enjoying our own version of camp for grown-ups. So often I hear from clients “I was away and didn’t workout” so I was trying to sort out the keys to being active when staying with friends or when you have houseguests.

Plan in Advance- my friend S., who has a great new blog called My Judy the Foodie (where she’s learning to cook from her mother’s old recipes), sent an email out before we arrived. She gave us the links to sign up for the race or the spin class. She also made it clear none of this was mandatory.

Bring your Equipment- if you’re going to play tennis or ride you need a racket and a bike. We had these things with us. You also need extra changes of clothes if you’re going to be active.  And, if you’re like me. a blow dryer and a flat iron. I cannot tell you how many women do not swim or workout because they didn’t want to mess up their hair.

It Only Takes One Adult to Watch Kids- while I can't say I was the one,  the other adults took turns watching the kids so that everyone could work out. This watching wasn’t exactly sedentary. Kids can play basketball, ride bikes and swim too.

Utilize All Hours in the Day- my husband and our friend E were up at 5am to get a ride in before “the wives” left for our beach workout beating. As we were getting ready for dinner someone would be in the pool doing laps and another person spinning. Just because a workout doesn’t happen first thing doesn’t mean it cannot happen.

It doesn’t have to be a gym workout but investigate what active options there are where you’ll be away. If you’re traveling with others, chances are someone will join you whether it's out of genuine enthusiasm or guilt it doesn't matter. They'll be happy later for the peer pressure.
Did you workout over the July 4th weekend? What are your secrets of staying active while away? Does adult camp sound fun or horrific to you?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Can Hot Dogs be Healthy?

We were recently asked this question by a writer. Carolyn did some hot dog digging and she’s here with some hot dog help before the long weekend.

Fourth of July weekend is a time to celebrate all things American. What’s more American than firing up the grill for some burgers and hot dogs? We’ve discussed burgers (grass fed is key) and Lauren has given us some delicious ideas (pesto turkey burger: yes please) in BBQ greatest hits. So today, it’s time to talk hot dogs. I promise, it’s not all bad but let's get the bad out of the way...

The Downside of Dogs
Hot dogs are one of those foods that people love but really don’t want to know about. No, they’re not made from pig butt or lips or anything else your older siblings told you the second you finished eating one. But “mystery meat” might still be accurate for some brands on the shelves, which can be up to 15% “variety meats” such as like heart, liver and kidney. Then there are other issues: high in fat, high in sodium, lots of processing and additives.

I'm not suggesting you take up hot dog making but consider that a homemade beef frank would contain beef, water, egg whites and spices. Compare that to a Ball Park hot dog:
Beef, Water, Corn Syrup, Salt, Potassium Lactate, Sodium Phosphate, Flavorings, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Nitrite, Extractives of Paprika.

Gross, right? Why is there corn syrup in your hot dog? I’ll save the sweet for dessert, thank you very much. Even more concerning are nitrites. They are responsible for extending shelf life, and research shows they also may be carcinogenic. 

Hot Dog Help
You can avoid nitrites by buying uncured hot dogs. They don't use any chemically preservatives.  Just like when it comes to the burgers, you want to go organic with meat whenever possible, and better yet, grass fed. Grass fed cows have less total and saturated fat (and are less miserable) compared to factory-farmed cows. Look for brands like Applegate Farms, Lets Be Frank, Colemann’s, Niman Ranch, or Organic Prairie.

If you’re at a game or relative’s house, chances are you don't have much say over nitrite content of your hot dog. Before you start a fight over frankfurters, there's a semi-remedy. Piling on antioxidant rich condiments like sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), and whole grain mustard counteracts some of the nastiness from nitrites.

And while you’re making better decisions with the dog, do the same with the bun. Skip the white squishy type. Lisa talked about the benefits of sprouted grains recently, and turns out, Food For Life (Ezekiel 4.9) and Alvarado St. both make the ideal buns for your barbeque. Udi’s, the gluten free gods, also make a delicious gluten free hot dog bun.

Label Lingo
A few other frankfurter facts, don’t be wooed by “reduced fat”, “turkey” “chicken” or “veggie” dogs.  Reduced fat dogs often add ever more chemicals to make up for the mouth feel of fat. With Turkey and chicken, you still need to read the ingredients. It’s the quality of the meat, not just the source. Veggie dogs are TVP-based concoctions; veggies are not supposed to taste like hot dogs.

 While it’s a meat minefield out there, hot dogs can be healthy (or healthier). Look for the brands we mentioned, be clever with condiments and enjoy your hot dog on a wholesome bun. Most of all  we wish you a happy and a healthy 4th of July.

PS. There is nothing American about bacon or chili cheese dogs.