Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I can see the future and you'll still hate exercise and broccoli

It's 20 years from now and Lauren still has that pile on her desk

Many new nutrition clients come in ready to make changes. In our initial meeting, I ask a series of questions in order to get a sense of their current habits. Then, I’ll devise an eating an exercise plan. With exercise, for example, if someone isn’t exercising I may suggest they find two 30-minute intervals to work out. Most clients balk at this allotment, I’ll hear comments such as “don’t I need to do more than that?” Or (you know I love a food expression) something to the effect of  “piece of cake” even though, prior to the meeting, there was zero exercise. My next step is to help clients schedule these new exercise sessions. If we’re meeting on a Monday, I’ll ask on which days the workouts will happen. Nobody says Tuesday, In fact Friday or Saturday would likely be the most common responses. We like to think we want to make changes but when pressed we’ll postpone or put the onus on ourselves later.

The New York Times reviewed a book entitled “The Willpower Instinct” explaining what’s at work in my example above.  Much of this comes down to something referred to as “our future self.” I know this sounds new-agey, stay with me. People differ in how connected they are to their future selves and this impacts decision-making. Less connection with this future self can manifest in less saving, flossing or eating well. With brain scans it’s shown that different parts of the brain are utilized when we think about ourselves than about others. For those disconnected from their future selves the brain activates as though it is thinking about another person. In my example, the client would expect someone else to be able to exercise more than 60 minutes a week.

The article explains ways our future self concept can be adjusted. Showing research subjects age-enhanced images of themselves changed responses to questions about spending and saving. Those who saw the older versions of themselves said they would allocate twice as much toward retirement. I think this is the same principle at work with diagnoses. When you receive a diagnosis, or even the threat of a diagnosis, it makes decisions feel more urgent and impactful. Before that, for some, health can be a vague, faraway concept.

So we can ignore our future self but we can also have unrealistic expectations. I can envision Lauren in the future with neat handwriting, no piles of papers and patience. This future Lauren will never be rushed because “next week things will calm down.” As the article said “I’ve been putting off eating better for some future time when somehow I’ll want to eat bulgur wheat rather than chocolate cake.” This is similar to the client who isn’t working out who wants to work out a ton “later in the week.” In one study, students were asked to donate time to a good cause. When they were told they had to do it in the current semester they signed up for 27 minutes. When they were given the option of next semester their volunteering increased to 85 min. Next semester they'll be more altruistic, right.

So what to do? If you’re disconnected from your future self, there are times when you will feel yourself relegating things to the future.  Whether it’s “next week” or “when I have a new job” under the assumption things will be different. When you feel that pull, do something in the instant.
  • I’m a fan of 15-minute intervals. We can all find 15 minutes to clean out one drawer, walk around the block or pay a few pills. Chip away rather than trying to conquer.
  • In terms of a visual there are websites to see older images of yourself such as in20years. To me this is a scare tactic. I’d suggest really think about the health issues your parents or grandparents face. Learn one new thing to minimize your risk.
  • Instead of assuming you’ll love exercise, saving money and doing charitable work in the future, try to sort out why you’re not doing what you think you should now…. chances are the future will be similar.

Are you someone who thinks about your future or not? What type of beneficial behavior do you postpone? What do you think you’ll be doing in 20 years?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Red Carpet Blues, Do You Feel Lied To?

I look amazing but do you know what it takes to look this thin in white?

“Watching these spectacles are a bit like eating a hot fudge sundae... delicious while eating it but you might feel a bit sick afterwards.”
Did you watch the Oscars last night and if so do you feel sick? The quote above is actually from Psychology Today and references a principle called the Social Comparison Theory. It turns out there is scientific backing for your “sickness”. The theory goes that in watching these award shows one can’t help but think about the glitz and glamour involved and feel a little inferior. It’s also the reason why many get a little thrill from the fashion flops, makes us feel a little better.
Love Billy but proof that women aren't the only one with hair/makeup/surgical? people
When I’m getting caught up, what makes me feel better (not that I don’t love a fashion blunder) is the effort involved. I asked my friends fab facialist Joanna Czech (clients include Kyra Sedgwick, Kate Winslet) and author and style expert Amy Tara Koch  about the red carpet process. They confirmed that it does in fact take a village, and months of preparation, to preen a celebrity. From their experience you have:

1-2. skin care goddess-esthetician or dermatologist
3. stylist for right dress, shoes and jewels
4. A-list hairdresser
5-6. nutritionist  or chef
7. trainer
8. manicurist
9. makeup artist
9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18. many of them with assistants
19, 20, 21 And of course PR and personal assistant(s) of the star
Twenty one people around while you get ready? 

This must-watch clip was for a print ad not red carpet but sums this process up well.
You watch someone go from plain to perfect via hair (and hair extensions), make-up and of course retouching. The clip takes about 30 seconds to watch and is slightly off-putting. While many of us relate to the person who sits down in the chair, she looks nothing like the person at the end. It’s reminiscent of when Oprah would bravely come on air sans makeup. As I watched the video this I can see how people feel there’s a little deception involved.

But is it lying? If people were food products and they were manipulated to appear completely differently than what I could purchase in the store I would think so. Photoshopping may be more extreme than primping. The American Medical Association adopted a policy on body image and advertising urging advertisers and others to “discourage the altering of photographs in a manner that could promote unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image.”

And it’s not just photoshopping. Remember the Victoria’s Secret model discussing her pre-show food plan. I shouldn’t call it a food plan because it’s comprised of over a week of protein shakes and twice daily workouts. Eventually she’s pulls the shakes to “dry out” before the show. I don’t know how common or uncommon this is. I know she was honest or foolish enough to mention it. She did caution young girls to “not try this at home”; I can guarantee you many did just the opposite.

Watching red-carpet events, fashion shows or reading magazines has different effects on people. Joanna summed it up well saying “I believe some people feel insecure and some inspired”.
Do you think there’s a degree of deception in all that’s involved to be red-carpet ready? Did you watch last night? Do you feel sick today? Any flops you want to mention?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Woody Harrelson's Extreme Eating Regime

Are you familiar with a magazine called The Week? A friend mentioned it at lunch a couple of months ago. It summarizes what various publications have said on a range of subjects and provides a fun and quick overview. I was flipping through last weeks “Week” and a blurb entitled “Harrelson’s fear of the modern world” caught my attention as anything food-related does. Call it food-ar. The Week referenced an Esquire interview with Harrelson.

Harrelson is a raw vegan. He lives on an organic farm in Maui and doesn’t consume sugar, flour or dairy. And he has other fears
the ever-present cleansers, which are a thousand times more toxic than anything they purport to be cleaning. He doesn't wear clothes made of synthetic materials or cleaned at conventional cleaners. "Even sleeping on sheets in hotels washed with all these detergents — I mean, I literally get nauseous. Not to mention the electromagnetic waves — he refuses to talk on a cell phone or even to hold it in his hand. He keeps it off when it's in his pocket "to protect the proverbials."

This all started when a stranger suggested Harrelson give up dairy to ease his congestion and acne. He did, his skin cleared and it started him thinking if it isn’t “milk does a body good” then how many other lies had he been told? Or to quote “I just started realizing: There are all these things we're brought up to believe that are just a total hoax, just bullshit advertising, you know?"

I am typing this in a sweater that was conventionally cleaned with my blackberry in my pocket near my proverbial. I know an organic farm isn’t in most of our futures but I think a certain amount of skepticism and questioning of our food and environment is good. With arsenic in apple juice and endocrine disruptors in water bottles, should we feel protected?

This past Monday, The New York Times reported that President Obama’s latest budget cut would eliminate the Microbiological Data Program. This “tiny program” as it was called tests fruits and vegetables for contamination. In a country where cantaloupe can kill and spinach can sicken you, is this ok? And did any of you hear about it? Oh don’t worry if the USDA doesn’t test produce the food industry will, Cheers.
Are you skeptical when it comes to your food supply? Anything you're nutty about? Had you heard about the elimination of the Microbiological Data Program? Do you find Harrelson's regime extreme or sensible? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Following Fat Tuesday, Here's Nonreligious Lent II

I got a chuckle out of this somewhat inappropriate but hysterical question posed on Facebook by my friend’s brother Metrodad “How come black people get an entire month and fat people only get a Tuesday?”  C’mon laugh (or don’t). Anyway, when I was at Tulane, Fat Tuesday was the day to take a breath after Mardi Gras, a day when the visiting freaks left the city. I never stopped and thought about how the fat got in Fat Tuesday.

Mardi Gras, in French, literally means Fat Tuesday.  Some say the origin of "Fat Tuesday" is believed to have come from the ancient Pagan custom of parading a fat ox through the town streets. I’ve also heard explanations in which it was a cow that was fattened and then feasted on. Other variations have households using up fat or eggs and dairy before Lent. The common thread here is indulgence before abstinence, one last binge before getting serious.

I am not religious, not Catholic either but last year I professed my love for Lent.  I love the time frame of roughly 6 weeks (Lent lasts until Easter which is April 8th this year), appreciate the idea of making one meaningful sacrifice and let’s face it even if it’s not the point I love the potential benefits. I did check with my resident religion expert C, which doesn’t stand for Catholic, and benefiting from your sacrifice isn’t against the rules. While I can’t imbue a fear of God in you, I am pretty good at laying guilt. For example, didn’t we talk last week about not letting fear hold you back? Let’s do this. Last year after dinner eating and elevators topped my Lent list, here are my 2012 sacrificing suggestions:

Artificial Sweeteners and Soda- I can’t believe you are but if you are still sipping Splenda or nasty NutraSweet imagine how much healthier you will feel after 6 weeks without them. Or just take my word for it. If you need to be swayed, here's some info on that "diet cancer".

TV- if you’re spending a couple of hours a night tush-to-chair watching other people lose weight or procreate or what have you, those are 2 hours that aren’t making you thinner, smarter or more fit. Actually, as little as 1 hour of daily TV is correlated with weight gain. At night, go for a walk; take a workout class, clear clutter. Juices aren’t the only way to fast, going TV-less is beneficial too.

Purge the Plastic- if you’re not the fasting or diety type (unlike some I have nothing against the word diet) let’s ban the BPAs and do something for the planet (if not for god). For Lent, dust off that reusable water bottle (love Bkr bottles myself) and replace those misshapen plastic containers with glass ones. The benefits will last beyond the six weeks. Many components in plastics are hormone disruptors, need I say more?  

BYOL- maybe you’re spending $14 dollars on a salad (not including the plastic water bottle or diet “cancer”), maybe you’re concerned that the so-far-from-organic chicken in that grilled chicken salad is pumped up with salt, antibiotics and hormones (yum) or perhaps it takes too long to leave work and bring lunch back. Whatever the case may be call on your inner cheapskate, food phobe or worker bee and bring your own lunch.

Give up Gluten- while I’m not convinced everyone has to be gluten free, many people feel better with gluten gone. There’s no way to know if you’re one of those people unless you try.

For the record, I also asked C about the tendency to substitute one bad habit for another. You know how this works; you give up sugar and start overeating bread.  C said, “as far as I know, you might be the first person to question substituting bad habits :) I think it certainly would be frowned upon, since it's supposed to be a time of sacrifice.” So no vice-swapping. Got it?  Here’s to fewer “fat” Tuesdays from now on or at least until Easter.
Do you like the idea of giving up one thing? What’s it going to be for NRL (non-religious Lent)? If you have something else you’d like to temporarily abstain from, let’s hear it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Foodtrainers' Five Favorite Healthy Frozen Meals

I know there are people who freeze and defrost effortlessly but I am not an adept freezer. My freezer is like a black hole. When I fear something is not going to be used, I will label and pop it in the freezer. There it will stay until ice crystals form and then it is disposed of. The items that successfully escape freezer life, for the most part, do not require cooking. There’s organic frozen fruit and greens for smoothies, Crop organic cucumber vodka (you’ll recall from a recent blog that vodka lasts forever) and E3 Live. There are also a few select fallback meals that do the trick when time is short or I’m the only one home for dinner. When I am not cooking, I would choose something organic and frozen over take out that’s usually not organic and for all I know may have been frozen.

Evol Bowls- you may know Evol from their terrific frozen burritos. As they said this is their first venture “out of the tortilla”.  The bowls are gluten free, fiber and protein packed and tasty. I’d give chicken teriyaki my vote; it’s low in calories yet very satisfying.

Amys Light and Lean Roasted Polenta and Swiss Chard- I’m a polenta lover and always looking to add leafy greens to my diet. This box said “Lauren” written all over it.  I tried this for research purposes but would buy it again for a comfort-food lunch. It’s gluten free and soy free.

Asharay Quinoa Burgers- it’s hard to find a gluten free and soy free veggie burger. These are both and so delicious. They’re made with sweet potatoes and coconut flour. I can’t tell you about the original flavor because I went straight for the chipotle. These are organic, under 200 calories and have less than 200mg of sodium. Since they’re quinoa-licious a bun seems redundant. I love them over greens with avocado and spicy mustard.

Village Harvest Frozen Whole Grains- when it comes to grains “instant” isn’t usually a good thing. With Village Harvest “instant grainification” as they call it is awesome. This line of frozen, cooked grains has everything form red quinoa and brown rice to corn, bean and rice. I enjoy rice a little too much and adore the brown, red and wild rice medley. Pair it with leftover veggies, add a dash of hot sauce (always) or tahini and you’re good to go.

Organic Bistro Alaskan Salmon (and grass fed beef)  I generally don’t find frozen fish enticing. I am spoiled by a great fish market, conveniently located near where I work out (omega 3’s and serotonin, talk about a one, two punch). Other than Vital Choice, this is the only frozen salmon I’d recommend. We were discussing these with a client and Carolyn added “they don’t smell up your apartment so they're perfect for fish-cooking phobes”. So fish-cooking phobes, you know who you are, Organic Bistro is here for you there’s the Alaskan Salmon with broccoli and wild rice and a delicious though slightly saltier Pesto Salmon.

When it comes to frozen meals look for fewer than 400 calories and less than 500mg of sodium (though many of these have far less).

What are your freezer staples? Do you consider yourself adroit at freezing and defrosting? Are you a fish-cooking phobe?
*Giveaway: Organic Bistro is giving two free meal coupons to one of our readers. To be eligible comment and then tweet @Foodtrainers or like us on Facebook (the salmon is goood). The winner of our chocolate giveaway is Sam from Mom at the Barre, congrats Sam.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fear and Weight

This past Saturday I took part in Cycle for Survival. Cycle for Survival is an indoor spinning event that raises money for rare cancers; it was founded by my friend Jen Goodman Linn and her husband Dave. Jen passed away in July and since then I've found myself channeling grief into carrying on her legacy. I am not alone. This year, cycle raised close to 8 million dollars for cancer research.  For our part, we put together a team of 15 people. Many of these team members said “yes” within a few minutes of my initial recruiting email.
That's Ethan Zohn a new type of "survivor" 
Team Foodtrainers
Jen’s mantra and website was YouFearless. In March Jen turned 40 and, though sick, filmed her fabulous “Happy to be 40” dance video. Please stop reading and watch it if you haven’t, you’ll really get a sense of Jen. As a testament to Jen we agreed to post a dance video for each thousand we raised. Dancing is scary but we danced and it was kind of fun.
Gorgeous Jen
I think of Jen all the time but this weekend it was as though she was there. I sensed Jen daring us all to pedal faster, to do better, to make a difference. I also thought about fear. Those of us who aren’t fighting for our lives can have a hard time accessing our fear. I’ve been asking myself if my fears are legit if they aren’t major.  I mean how does a fear of getting my work done or being late stack up to a fear of not being here at all? It really doesn’t.

OPI Limited Edition You Fearless
Then I thought back to my sessions and conversations with Jen. Though Jen was a dreamer and an achiever she loved the fun stuff, the petty stuff.  Jen wanted to know about anti cancer foods and weight loss foods too. One of the last emails I received from Jen was telling me she saw me quoted in In Style and her best friend created You Fearless nail polish with OPI for Cycle. Jen was equal parts silly and serious. Fearlessness can absolutely be applied to "lesser" fears and it can apply to food. 

Some of us have a fear of failure, what happens if it doesn’t work? This can stifle us. Fear of failure for many translates into a fear of starting. It distracts us from the work to be done. Jen never knew if a treatment would be successful, she just focused on taking the necessary steps.

Fear of change- what will it be like if you lose weight? If you don’t eat your favorite treats? Will it be ok? I would ask yourself, is staying the same is ok? Is that acceptable? If not, let’s see how it goes. The treats aren’t going anywhere.

Fear of being noticed- with weight loss comes attention, some people dislike this.  Rather than cloaking ourselves in weight or food maybe we need to figure out why we’re hiding.

Fear of spending money and time- how can we not take care of ourselves? Jen knew how to take care of herself. I remember Jen requesting someone for reflexology while she received a blood transfusion. Jen knew the power of a pedicure and the wonder of a workout. 

Fear can trap you and stop you from living your life. We have to stop the excuses, stop postponing. When we shed the fear, we can shed the weight.

As Jen said, “without fear anything is possible.”

Jen told me this before the Chicago Marathon, can't say it better "because we can".
Thank you to those who contributed money. Now I’m asking you to contribute to fearlessness. 
What are your fears? Have you noticed any of them affecting your weight or wellness? How do you plan to face your fears? Some event photos below.
Marc and I, no pressure just the front row
Karen and Shari, I mean My Judy the Foodie

Love a team member with a Jack Daniels bandanna, work hard play hard.
You just got here, we're not leaving, it's a charity event!
Kaylee and my Foodtrainer-in-crime Carolyn finish off our shifts

The future fearless, Cycle for Survival 2022?

Monday, February 13, 2012

What if I told you sex could help you lose weight?

She's smiling because she just burned some calories, he's smiling...well you know.
Everyone has certain holidays they like more than others; Valentines Day isn’t one I particularly care for. Rather than talking about aphrodisiac foods and romance, I thought why beat around the bush (hmn wonder where that expression really came from); let’s talk about sex and weight. How does weight impact sex and sex impact weight? And what about exercise, does it give you a release or make you want additional “releasing”? For goodness sake, if I can write about bowel movements I should be able to discuss anything.

Fat and Sex
Being overweight can negatively affect libido. A study from Duke found that 30% of obese people seeking to control weight reported problems with sex drive, desire, performance or the trifecta, all three. One issue is the more fat you have the higher the levels of SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin). This hormone caper binds to testosterone. Dr Andrew McCullough director of sexual health and male infertility at NYU explains that high cholesterol and insulin resistance can also affect sexual performance. Both conditions affect arteries and can cause “tiny arteries in the penis to shut down, particularly when vessel-clogging fatty deposits begin to form.” I cannot imagine the impact to cardiovascular health if, instead of talking about cholesterol meds and heart health, physicians told men their penises would shut down. For the record, it’s not just men. “We are beginning to see that the width of blood vessels leading to the clitoris are affected by the same kind of blockages that impact blood flow to the penis.” The female facts were supplied by Dr Susan Kellogg of the Pelvic and Sexual Health Institute in Philly. The good news (or bad news depending) is that weight loss, in as little as eight weeks improved sexual markers substantially.

Sex and Weight Loss
If men would listen up if faced with a penile shut down, you say weight loss and I promise have a woman’s attention. I learned that kissing for an hour burns 68 calories but that’s not all that exciting. Sixty-eight calories isn’t even a snack and AN HOUR? I’m a busy lady. Sex on the other hand has a 200-ish per half hour calorie burn. Of course, without getting technical, as with any exercise intensity matters. Bystanders don’t burn as much. I’m not suggesting you wear your heart rate monitor (how sexy) but you may as well really go for it.  I’m not sure if it adds credibility but there was actually a book published on this subject  The Ultimate Sex Diet promoting the potential for weight loss via sex  (oh yeah and healthy eating too). This is probably best for those in a relationship because nobody wants to lose weight and gain gonorrhea. Husbands out there I suggest you use this information to your advantage. As I said, “not tonight I have a headache” could quickly be turned around with this valuable info.  Just be careful “honey, you need to lose weight and this could help” isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Exercise and Sex
For a variety of reasons exercise improves sex drive. Adrenaline energizes you, endorphins leave you feeling good and feeling fit can improve confidence and self esteem. Interestingly, yoga gets a lot of votes for the best exercise for improving your sex drive. Instead of theorizing about yoga and sex I’ll simply include this passage:
Yoga also improves flexibility making for creative positions such as splits and straddles.  Other benefits of yoga include an increase in blood flow to your pelvis which heightens sensitivity and increases desire. And yoga strengthens the pelvic floor which makes for stronger contractions and a more intense orgasm.  Yoga also clears your mind for a deeper understanding of you and your partner’s needs and desires.
Enough said. I’m a nutritionist not a sexpert.
Have you ever considered the calorie burning potential of sex? Would you have sex more because of this? Where do you stand on Valentines Day?
You have until midnight 2/14 to enter our chocolate giveaway.

Friday, February 10, 2012

If You Really Want Healthy Chocolate

The regular readers of this blog are a savvy bunch. You may already know, when it comes to healthy chocolate, dark beats milk (duh), white chocolate is misnomer and you really want to go for 70% or higher cocoa content. After all, the more cocoa the less sugar, milk solids and other fillers involved. All that is true but that’s not where the chocolate story ends.

If chocolate is like skiing, milk chocolate is a green/easy run; it’s not too intense and most people can do it. Dark chocolate, maybe 50%, is a blue run, a little bit of a step up but your heart will not pound. Serious dark chocolate 70, 80% is black diamond a challenge and an adrenaline rush with more interesting terrain. If you’re a highly skilled skier you may want more, you may ski through the trees or heli ski.

If you’re a fervent fan of chocolate and want the tree skiing equivalent, you really want your chocolate to be raw. Most chocolate is roasted and when cacao is cooked it looses some of its punch. Raw cacao is a more powerful antioxidant than red wine or green tea. Raw chocolate has vitamin C and fiber, it’s also much higher in phenylethylamines which are the reason chocolate has an aphrodisiac reputation. So if you’re thinking of chocolate for Valentines Day, I’d select raw, just saying.

To take the plunge, some great raw options are:

Fearless Chocolate
My friend Jen Goodman Linn’s blog was and her mantra was "be fearless". I sent this chocolate to Jen when she was sick, I’m not sure she ate it but she told me her husband Dave chowed down after a day of bad news. My team for Cycle for Survival received this chocolate with their team shirts. We’ll cycle fearlessly.

Fearless chocolate comes in a Super Seed flavor with flax and chia seed. I’m excited to try both Exploding Coconuts and Matcha Peppermint flavors. All chocolate is raw, organic and kosher;  it pretty much fits all criteria. If Marc wants to get me a present the “Eat Me Subscription” for monthly chocolate (I reworded that many times and it sounds wrong in any order) would be perfect.


One of our local favorites is Brooklyn based Raaka. Raaka calls its products “virgin chocolate”, these chocolate makers seem to have dirty minds. My favorite Raaka flavor is Vanilla Rooibos. Their packaging is beautiful and I’m eyeing the heartbreaker set: Café Grumpy coffee and Raaka chocolate, can’t get better.

And there are times when you don’t want to go full throttle (and I get that). We don’t need to ski in the trees every day. For a chocolate fix that all about comfort, yet still black diamond, there’s

This is pretty much healthy nutella, It’s a 70% dark chocolate spread that’s low in calories and has some fiber. Have it on fruit or on crackers or on a spoon with walnut or pistachio butter. Heaven.
Do you prefer skiing or chocolate? What’s your favorite brand or variety? Are you a raw chocolate/tree skiing type?
GIVEAWAY- to be eligible for a Newtree jar and Fearless bar comment, tweet about it @foodtrainers, like us on facebook and dance fearlessly 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How long will it last?

clearly not my fridge bottled salad dressing on the door

When it comes to food, people are either expiration phobes adhering to when in doubt throw it out or feel a little mold wont hurt you. I grew up with a mother who was bold in the face of mold. She would remove the clearly contaminated portion of food and give us the rest saying, “it’s fine”. Naturally, I’m expiration phobic. However, I’ve relaxed a little now that I can call the spoilage shots and even occasionally live on the edge eating things a few days after the package says to.

There are rules to help you decide whether to hang onto or heave items and a couple of these surprised me:

Chicken Broth- I used to open the quart of Pacific chicken broth, use 4 to 8 ounces for a recipe and then plop the rest in the fridge only to discard it weeks later. I eventually grew tired of wasting the majority of the container and started freezing a mason jar of broth (leaving a little room for expansion).  Recently, I discovered Whole Food’s 365 brand makes mini 8-ounce juice-box sized organic broth containers that completely solve the problem.

 In case you have opened chicken stock, if it’s been in the fridge more than 4-5 days, time to toss.

Hard-boiled eggs – knowing my obsession with hard-boiled eggs, I get asked regularly about them. In their shells, unpeeled boiled eggs will last a week. Uncooked eggs will last 3 to 5 weeks if you do not store them on the door.

Tomato Sauce- I make and freeze tomato sauce but in our house we’re equally fond of Rao’s Marinara sauce. Rao’s is a legendary restaurant in Harlem and their sauce is outstanding. To my knowledge Rao’s comes in only one size and that’s 32 OZ. It takes us weeks to use this much and that’s a problem because tomato sauce, once opened is good for 5 days.
1/23/12 is definitely more than 5 days ago

 Honey-I poisoned the children. I’m glad I’ve been feeding them organic food and bacteria.

Greens – many clients complain that greens spoil on them quickly. My retort is usually “if you use them they don’t spoil” but that’s not all that helpful. So for green-aid think of greens like underarms, it’s all about moisture control. While I don’t like the bags of lettuce I do purchase clamshell packs of greens.

You can reuse these and lettuce lasts over a week. After a few days, put a paper towel in the container (on the bottom) to keep the lettuce from wilting. Other times, I  wash lettuce in ice water, spin it and roll it in a tea towel, again the towel retains the moisture keeping the lettuce fresh.

Leftovers- I’m a leftover lover. I can eat leftover chili for breakfast and bring my lunch to work most days. These labels from the Container Store are great.. You can write the date you put leftovers in the fridge or the date to toss but make sure family members know your system. Leftover longevity is 3 to 4 days.

There’s actually an app and website called Still Tasty that will alert you when your food will expire.  I love their list of “foods that will outlive you.” On this list there’s salt (no surprise since it is used to preserve), honey and, while many foods live and die, vodka lasts forever.
Are you an expiration phobe or bold in the face of mold? Any foods that confuse you when it comes to holding or heaving? What tricks do you use to keep food fresh?

Monday, February 6, 2012

What Not To Say To Someone Who Has Lost Weight

So you're NEVER going to have cake again?

As nutrition clients make progress with their eating and weight loss inevitably people start to notice. At times, these clients come in delighted with the changes in their bodies and the feedback they are getting. Occasionally, remarks by others can sting or leave them puzzled.

A classic careless comment is “you look soooooo much better”. The subtext here is you really looked like crap before. This type of statement results in people feeling “I must’ve looked worse than I thought.” There’s no need to feel poorly when you’re making positive changes.
Motivation: Nasty

If you want to know which friend is not really your friend, lose some weight. When you really start to look fit and feel fantastic the “friend” who utters, “you better not lose any more weight” is completely jealous, cannot be happy for you and secretly hopes you’ll gain it back. These faux friends can also say things like “how are you going to keep the weight off?”
Motivation: Jealous

And just because someone has lost weight doesn’t make their food choices open for evaluation. If someone is having success, chances are they have some system they are using to assure sound selections. “Are you allowed to have that” never leads to the person saying, “oh you’re right I am going to throw it out.”  Instead, it makes them feel scrutinized and sometimes guilt-ridden. Well-meaning mothers voice their opinions in this manner. It’s far better to ask about food choices when someone isn’t eating their meal. As annoying as food policing is, enticing is just as bad. “Don’t be so rigid, just have a little” (insert treat food of choice) insinuates that the person is overly rigid. The last time I checked, skipping cake or pizza isn’t all that rigid.
Motivation: Controlling

Finally, there are the amount observations. You know, “I didn’t realize you had than much weight to lose.” Or, you’ve lost a lot of weight, how much 30, 40 pounds?”
Motivation: Clueless or Insensitive

As tempting as it is to match thoughtless comments with a snide comeback, there’s another option. There’s a chance, with some of these examples, that the person making the remark has no idea it’s hurtful. If you can say “asking if I’m allowed to eat that makes me uncomfortable when I’m trying to enjoy a meal.” Or, “when you tell me I look better it seems to suggest I didn’t look well before” you then have the opportunity to explain yourself. This may prevent the person from saying such things in the future.

If you have a friend, coworker or family member who’s losing weight and want to encourage them “you look great” always works.
What’s the most upsetting thing anyone has said to you about your weight? Any classic “what not to say” comments I omitted? Do you think the motivation is jealousy, malice or ignorance here?
PS Did you see Xbox's childhood obesity commercial during the Super Bowl, that made me almost as excited as the Giant's exciting WIN!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cooking Homework: Orphaned Appliances and Unread Books

Nobody puts Breville in the corner.
In October, I introduced the concept of cooking homework. It was a selfishly motivated endeavor to immerse myself in slow cookery but many of you seemed enthusiastic about it. The concept was to give yourself an assignment in the kitchen and then report back with progress. Timing may not be everything but my timing stunk and I checked back with all of you in November right as holiday hell festivities were getting started. Nobody, except me, had done their homework.

Well it’s a new (or newish) year, we’re all back from "winter break" and a new semester is starting. I’ll admit, I have temporarily abandoned my slow cooker and retreated to my cooking comfort zone. Only last week did I do a little rut busting and experimented with some recipes from a beautiful new book "Home Cooking with Jean-Georges". The recipes are manageable but I have to laugh when I see accomplished chef’s concept of “simple recipes”.  Simple to me is fewer than 10 ingredients and does not involve butchering. I cooked Cumin and Citrus Roasted Carrots and the most delicious chicken breasts ever and really enjoyed it. So, your first homework assignment is to cook 1-2 recipes from a cookbook you haven’t used or haven’t used in a while. I’ll continue to cook Jean-Georges but also plan to make recipes from “Appetite For Reduction” from the author of Veganomicon and “Healthy Hedonist” from one of my favorite chef’s Myra Kornfeld.
After the cooking homework I clearly need some photo homework
Assignment #2 refers to the photo above.  I’m very fickle in the kitchen and with the arrival of the slow cooker and the Vitamix my beloved Breville juicer (in addition to being fickle I’m a bit of an appliance whore, there are worse things right?) has been orphaned. With Organic Avenue opening just a few blocks from my house, I haven’t exactly been juice-deprived.
Can you name the blogger at the register purchasing everything in sight?
 Their Green Coco juice awaits me after a run or barre class while my loyal juicer sits in the corner tucked behind Nespresso. It took some good old-fashioned guilt to get through to me. I was talking to a friend about kitchens and the items we use every day and she said, “well I keep my juicer out because I use it daily.” “You really make a juice every single day?” I had to clarify. “Every day she insisted”. I love the ideal of juicing again (maybe not daily) and also don’t really think anyone needs to spend $10 for greens in a pretty bottle.  Assignment #2 is to revisit a neglected appliance. Whether it’s the blender, waffle iron or even your oven, change things up and maybe you’ll like it.

Mark your calendars, assignments are due a month from today or Friday 3/2. Class will be in session by 6am but you can “hand in” your work any time that day.
What do you think you’ll do for each assignment? Any great cookbook discoveries or new appliances you’d like to mention? Are you more of a cookbook or appliance whore?
Did I mention the NY Giant's Toaster? It's my son's, I swear. Go Giants!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Is Your Weight Stuck? It May Be Your Salad.

Salads are the quintessential weight loss food.  However, grouping all salads together and assuming they are healthy is like presuming all siblings are alike because they’re in the same family (and that’s complete nonsense). In February’s Allure I was interviewed for a fun story called “Eating Amnesia”. It’s all about the calories that sneak into our mouths that we forget about or never even realize. One section of the article discusses salads, “a bed of lettuce isn’t a magic wand that turns anything low calorie. 

There are the obscene salads at chain restaurants across the country with “crispy” aka fried chicken and noodles that I have to think everyone knows aren’t a nutritious choice. Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion salad with 1300 calories over 2000mg of sodium and Applebee’s Chicken Bruschetta Salad also almost a day’s worth of calories and a day and half of sodium are not uncommon on chain restaurant menus. Salads with Steak, Mexican and Asian salads tend to be high calorie. Aside from the flagrantly unhealthy salads, there are the salads that I find more deceptively damaging. These are salads that seem OK but are just a little too interesting. The popular Cosi Signature Salad has chicken and cranberries and vinaigrette. It seems like a decent option but has 623 calories. Le Pain Quotidien, a place I love, has a shrimp salad that’s over 500 calories.  These are the salad traps more of my clients fall into.

A salad doesn’t have to be unhealthy to be too much. Dried fruit is going to run you at least 100 calories and 2-3 tablespoons of sugar.  Cheese in your salad will be 150-200 calories and can be, in case of feta, up to 800 mg of sodium. In terms of dressing- most condiment cups hold 2 to 2.5 ounces. For various establishments this is 200-350 calories from dressing alone. Restaurants and salad bars sometimes use more than a condiment cup’s worth. And that piece of bread that’s so small and free with your salad is 100ish calories but I know, you never have the bread (wink, wink). So you can easily be at 500+ calories before the lettuce, veggies or protein.

Sometimes, what I call an “entrée” lunch is a cleaner choice:
Grilled Chicken, 2 cups of broccoli and a little olive oil = 345 calories
Poached Salmon, 2 cups of asparagus and some oil for cooking is 400 calories.
These calculations use a Blackberry-sized (no iPhone for me) piece of protein or 5oz. Many restaurants will give you a gross amount of protein- ½ to ¾ pound is “normal” ick. And a sandwich on 1-2 pieces of sprouted bread with lean protein and veggies can be a nice lunch option too.

If you’re a salad enthusiast or saladophile my suggestions are:

  • Choose a good green as your base. I love dinosaur or lacinato kale, butter lettuce (Gotham Greens are fantastic in NYC) or escarole.
  • Add a minimum of three other veggies.
  • Keep “treat” ingredients: nuts, seeds, avocados, dried fruit, avocado, chickpeas to 1 per salad. You can have walnuts and dried cherries and goat cheese but not on the same day.
  • Protein should be Blackberry not laptop sized.
  • Don’t eat ingredients in your salad you don’t generally eat (chips, croutons-greasy white bread, bacon).
  • For dressing, use olive oil and lemon or olive oil and vinegar with 1 tbs of oil.
  • Your whole salad shouldn’t be the size of your head or in a bowl you would use for a family of 4.

One of our Foodtrainers’ favorite salads is Gotham Greens butter lettuce, jarred tuna, red onion, jicama and cabbage, 1/3 avocado sliced, olive oil, lemon juice and of course hot sauce, salt and pepper.

If you’re looking to loose weight keep salads at around 400 calories give or take. If you watch size and “treats” they can be a healthy choice, as long as you don’t have eating amnesia.
What’s your favorite salad green? Overall salad? Favorite “treat” ingredient? How similar are you to your siblings?