Monday, March 25, 2013

Next Chapter

Last week my friend’s husband came to retrieve his son from our apartment. The boys had been at the Ranger game. As M’s friend was lacing up his high tops (who said boys’ gear was easier?) friend’s husband, who works with my best friend, asked if I had spoken to her. “Well I guess she’s away right now, where is she away?”  He was asking about someone very dear to me but I shook my head and said, “I didn’t know she was away but I don’t really know much that’s happening.” I could see his confusion, actually I think he thought I had lost my mind but there’s a legit excuse you see my theme song for months and months has been.

Everyday I write the book.
Everyday I write the book...
(love this song but enough already)

I know some people write for a living and churn out book after book. Other experts, who are more intelligent than I am, use ghostwriters to reduce time spent. Not me, I thought it would be “fun” to write a book. Which means weekends were spent here

Writing or oftentimes looking out the window at this

The irony of writing a book with strategies for every food scenario while being scenario-less.

But today, my theme song will change (not sure to what) but my outfit of sweatpants, slippers and a cardigan (the unappealing mental image this conjures up isn't as heinous as the real ms) will change to this
better color in person think more raspberry less cha cha, I promise
It’s a good thing I have a drastic chapter in the book.

And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I finished the book on her birthday, Mrs Fearless would've been 42 this week.

Still hard to believe but look what you and Dave accomplished.
The Little Book of Thin is a fear facing moment. I’m rarely proud of myself and this could be a complete flop but I wrote it.  And now I think I want to write another one (and have an idea) but when I shared it with my support crew. My son who is 11 (tomorrow) said, “wait a minute does this mean you’re going to be inside and mean for another year?” Hmn

I will be back with more consistent blog posts in April (email me any topic suggestions or requests). Thank you for sticking with me. In the meantime, excited to read a book, book.
What are the best books you’ve read lately? What are your favorite nutrition or food books and why? Can you name that tune I quoted above?

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Most Underestimated Ingredient

I could lie and say this post is for St Patrick’s day but it’s not; my only St Patrick’s day associations are traffic and vomit (nice I know) from the parade. This year, as I do every year, I steered clear. My book, which now has a title! is getting turned in and I skipped going to Vermont to edit and edit some more. The extent of my cooking this weekend was smoothies, socca (my current favorite carb) and steaming vegetables. Last night I made one of my favorite “just me” concoctions. I heated a small cast iron pan, added some coconut oil. Tossed on leftover vegetables, mushrooms and asparagus and added an ingredient that doesn’t get nearly enough love…frozen peas. I scrambled the veggies with a couple of eggs and sprinkled it with a little Himalayan salt. Delicious and not something I could serve the whole family.

As I added the peas (after brief nuking) I wondered why peas are dismissed, especially frozen peas. It may be the association with mushy, canned peas or the assumption that peas are nutritionally average but please don’t prejudge. My Cascadian Farm peas have 6 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein and a mere 100ish calories per cup. Peas also contain phytonutrients called saponins that have anti-inflammatory properties. And they’re pretty too.

Didn't post photo at the top to ruin the ingredient surprise, sneaky.
I’ve praised peas before in this Blisstree article

We use peas with pesto in gluten free pasta, in a great side dish with shallots and spinach (you can absolutely “Ina-size” this cutting the added fat and it’ll be just as good).  I will never forget a pea and mint smoothie that greeted us when we finished a hike at Blackberry Farm.

And let’s not forget the world’s best ice pack.
Unknown runner's leg, "frozen pea icepack" turned up many post plastic surgery photos,
People are starting to appreciate peas or actually they’re extorting peas for their protein. Larabar has a new offering called Alt with pea protein and Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend protein powder uses peas in the “blend”. Chances are you have some peas in your freezer now that you had forgotten about, go show them some love.
And this book I’ve been annoyingly mentioning? It’s called
The Little Book of Thin
Foodtrainers' Plan-It-to-Lose-It Solutions for Every Diet Dilemma
Slated for January 2014, promise me someone will buy it.

Are you pro pea? What do you use them for? What do you feel is the most underestimated food? 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Few KaleMales

I'm nearing the book finish line but not there yet, I asked Carolyn to write about a trend we've been observing.

As Lauren can attest, I have been on several of ‘the worst dates ever’ but one in particular stands out. A guy brought me on a ‘surprise date’ to a Brooklyn hot spot called Fete Sau. It’s essentially a meat market. It was organic and local, sure, but hello, I’ve never pretended to be a “chill girl” and a tray of flesh is certainly not my nutritionist-style – not to mention when I left my $50 drybar hair reeked of brisket.  Is a male who loves kale so much to ask for?

Beyond my personal life and the brisket incident, the number of #kalemales (like our hashtag?) is increasing. Either that or men are just fessing up. We are seeing a huge increase in the number of dudes interested in nutrition and healthy eating – from Mark Bittman’s post on “The Bible of Kale” to our twitter conversations with #kalemales, and even the influx of guys in our office recently (some turned in by kale-pushing wives and girlfriends). We’ve had to create a whole new category of services: “Dudetraining”.

Although we’re asked, we don’t see couples together for sessions because male and females very different (in general and when it comes to nutrition). From actual nutritional needs to the amount of structure men and women generally prefer, even the specific types of foods they like-gender differences exist. For our Foodtrainers’ newsletter this month, we outlined our favorite dude foods and created a bro bundle (men can't be expected to obtain their healthy food, c'mon). With the exception of Popeye, eating your greens hasn’t historically been all that masculine. Being the “diet dude” is way, way worse than being the diet chick, but that’s all changing.

A few foods of the #kalemale movement we are loving:
-       Bro-fast: Superfood chia-PB on Paleo Bread or a Sunwarrior protein smoothie
-       Six-pack snacks: 22-day bars, created Marco Borges who Jay-Z calls "the worlds best trainer". They're organic, vegan, and gluten, soy and dairy free. As Jay would say “got 99 problems but a bar aint one”
-        Slantshack jerky, jerky the ultimate guy grub, this one holds off on the nasty additives and is pure grass-fed, gluten-free goodness.

#Kalemale has a ring to it, but the king of all dude foods may not be kale at all- but tomatoes. Many studies have shown that guys who eat tomatoes and tomato based foods are lass likely to develop prostate issues than men who don’t eat them. As Carla mentioned in her What’s better, raw or cooked?
post, lycopene, the main antioxidant in tomatoes, is one of the rare nutrients that actually becomes more bioavailable when heated. As we all know, prostate health is very important…. So things like homemade tomato sauce and chili are great dude foods. Raw tomatoes are all good too -- but guys, ketchup doesn’t count. 

Guys also love their gadgets and having specific number goals, so beyond food we’re also seeing major progress with men using the FitBit and the Nike fuel band. We suggest the wristband as the belt ones seem to get misplaced. But even our fit dude friends love competing in their total number of daily steps.

Get your man our bro-bundle or sign them up for dudetraining today.

So do you have a number one “#kalemale”? Have you noticed more men are interested in nutrition and healthy food? Why do you think this is?
PS: if you’re really in search of your own #kalemale, rumor has it Same Plate is a foodie dating website where you can be matched up based on food preferences.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Joy Bauer, Joan Rivers and Experimentation

Photo via OmFactoryNYC

When I was in graduate school at NYU, Joy Bauer came to speak. In the Q and A, Joy was asked what she suggested we read for nutrition information. Her response was to “read it all” both the scientific literature and the lowbrow crap. It was good advice but more than anything it has served as justification for my procrastination reading, I can admit I love the lowbrow. And now my reading democracy has extended into television. 

About a week ago I was going to bed and flipped past the reality show Joan Rivers does with her daughter Melissa. I was transfixed. Despite aging and the zillion surgeries, Joan is awesome. If watching her crack jokes wasn’t enough, in my maiden episode Joan befriended a woman in LA (who happened to be gay) and kissed her after dinner. When asked about this by her daughter Joan explained she just did it.

Now I’m not going to analyze this from a sexual angle. I delved into that realm with Jill Blakeway. The message that stayed with me, other than the cautionary tale of plastic surgery gone wrong, was why wait until we’re older to experiment? 

Dining in the Dark- this is popular in Europe, it is what is sounds like but the concept is that you’re experiencing the taste of food more or differently when you cannot see it.
Or maybe daring for you is trying a cuisine or new food. I’d love to try Ethiopian food and recently had my first mangosteen.

Retrying a Food You Think You Don’t Like- we all have foods with bad memories attached. For some it’s Brussels Sprouts, for others of you maybe it’s fish. More often than not these opinions can be traced to  a mother who wasn’t adept at cooking the ingredient. I retried sardines. When clients list foods they dislike, I always ask them the last time they tried them, tastes change. Why not see if that’s the case for you?

Why Not? Workouts- In terms of fitness, I’m a fan of experimentation. In NYC there’s a trapeze school and also trampolining classes and indoor rock climbing. In the yoga world there’s aerial yoga and naked yoga. It doesn’t have to be a triathlon or marathon to get you to branch out.  Some Foodtrainers’ clients are participating in the SEAK’s foundation’s Sports Bra Challenge to raise awareness of body image concerns in women.
SEAK is a nonprofit organization that brings awareness to the increasing epidemic of women who determine their self-worth based on their appearance. We address these issues by promoting fitness as a platform for women to build the confidence they need to feel empowered and comfortable in their own skin - exactly as they are.

On that note, I think there’s something empowering about experimentation. Whether it’s being in public in a sports bra, rock climbing or dining in the dark.
What do you think is the food or fitness equivalent of kissing a girl? Are you a creature of habit or interested in experimentation? What mindless reading or TV will you admit to? Any foods or workouts you’re curious about?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Make Your Own Almond Milk To Avoid This Ingredient

A real blogger would have their own photos, this from Vitamix
I am not one of those people who feels I have to make everything myself. Part of me would like to be that person. Realistically, I’m of the belief if someone else can do it better I will defer to them. I buy Rao’s tomato sauce, Purely Elizabeth granola and Siggi’s yogurt. I could technically make of each of these things but not like Raos, Elizabeth or Siggi. There are other foods I make at home either because it tastes better or has better ingredients.  I like my smoothies better than any shop or juice bar; I also make my own almond milk.

Homemade almond milk is delicious and incredibly easy (if you own a good blender). You can use it in smoothies or oatmeal, for chia pudding or steamed with matcha. Almond milk is a good source of magnesium. Warm it up, add some cinnamon or lightly sweeten and it’s amazing after dinner.

I didn’t always make my own almond milk but started when I read the ingredients on my unsweetened almond milk and saw carrageenan. Carrageenan is a thickener derived from seaweed; it’s related to Irish Moss and very difficult to digest. Research has confirmed it’s inflammatory and can affect insulin function. Dr Tobacman is one of the primary carrageenan researchers; it’s hard to believe carrageenan is so widely used once you start reading her work. When you make almond milk at home, simply shaking the jar avoids the need for any additive of this type, what would you prefer?

So, to make your own almond milk you’ll need
1 cup raw almonds
3 to 4 cups filtered water
pinch of Himalayan salt
optional: stevia or maple syrup
optional: cinnamon, vanilla bean, cardamom, nutmeg, cacao powder

What you’ll do:
  1. Place almonds in a bowl or jar and cover with water. Soak almonds overnight (some at the Foodtrainers’ office rush this soaking but I like an overnight soak). The almonds plump up nicely.
  2. Rinse the almonds and put in the blender (Vitamix plug, works beautifully for this) cover with 3-4 cups of water.
  3. Add sweetener or spices if you’d like. I was burned by a potent vanilla bean one time so I often make the milk plain and spice/flavor when I add it to a recipe..
  4. Blend 1-2 minutes or until smooth.
  5. You can stop here but I suggest straining through a fine sieve. There also are such things as nut milk bags for this process but I’ve never gone there. I have been known to strain twice.I know people do amazing things with the almond meal (baking and such). Mine goes bye bye.
Store in a large Mason jar for 3-5 days.
Yield is approximately 3 cups and in the vicinity of 100 calories per cup.

If you’re not interested in DIY-ing; OMilk in NYC and 365/Whole Foods make nut milks without carrageenan.
Where do you stand on the DIY spectrum? What do you make yourself? Which foods to you purchase premade? Are you aware of carrageenan? Any nut milk variations to suggest?
While I have no almond milk photos I do have some recent celebration pictures. A thank you to Fat Witch bakery for these football-themed brownies and blondies (see I didn’t make my own) and a shout out to Hint, kids loved it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

What's Better Raw or Cooked?

Last week I posted the lovely Juli Novotny’s letter where she discussed her initial discovery of raw food. Thank you for all your emails and comments. A handful of clients came into their sessions asking, so if I want to feel like she did do I need to go raw? This reminded me of another, more in depth, email I had received a few weeks back.
Are there foods that I am getting no nutrients from because I cook them? How do I know how many nutrients I am losing and which ones? Are they the ones I care most about?
As always, I look forward to hearing what you have to say!!
I’ve been in book writing induced hibernation so I had our fantastic newish nutrition nerd Carla Vass tackle this. Here are her answers to my questions.

Let’s start with the case for cooked. Which foods are more beneficial when cooked?
Yes, tomatoes for sure. The antioxidant content of tomatoes significantly increases when cooked. Lycopene, in tomatoes, has been singled out as important for prostate health but lycopene is a very powerful anti-cancer weapon in general. It is 10 times as effective as vitamin E at wiping out free radicals which can affect our cancer risk. Tomato sauce, tomatoes cooked in chili and soups are important in a healthy diet. Additionally, cooked carrots, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage and peppers  also supply more antioxidants, such as carotenoids and ferulic acid, cooked than they do when raw.
There is also the question of digestibility. Have you tried uncooked squash? The sturdy cell wall is difficult to digest without heating first. Dried beans need cooking. Other beans need heat to kill certain compounds. Lima beans contain the poison cyanide, which is released harmlessly as a gas during cooking.
And all cooking methods are probably not created equal, what’s best and worst?
Yes, steaming was the most successful method of retaining the vitamin content of food. Stir-frying and pressure-cooking also proved to be good methods of cooking. We expected boiling but deep drying is the worst (for this and other reasons). We also received a Vitamix question; vitamixers do not worry contents do not get hot enough to destroy enzymes or nutrients.
And the reasons for raw, which foods are most important to eat raw?
The nutrient most affected by cooking is Vitamin C. The cooked tomatoes we discussed above as potent anti-cancer weapons? Well almost 30% of the Vitamin C will be lost in half an hour of cooking. That Mr Vitamin C is very unstable but is also much needed for immunity, wound healing and assistance absorbing iron.

It’s probably a good idea for everyone to eat some raw leafy greens and high “C” fruits each day (papaya, kiwi, oranges, strawberries). Vitamin C, aside what are the other reasons for raw?
Advocates point out that people ate raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds long before they learned to cook. They say that a return to this original diet increases energy, strengthens immunity to disease, and improves mental health.
While I’m all for less processed I hate this type of argument about what people used to do. People used to not wear seatbelts and eat poisonous berries too-whoops. Can’t use chronology as a method for determining what’s best in all cases. Thanks Carla, good information.
I’ve done weeks here and there of raw food and it feels great. Part of the reason it feels great is that you’re eating very nutritious foods but part of it is also what you’re eating less of: fewer grains, no dairy and less salt too. I try to have 1 juice or green smoothie and 1 dark/leafy green or microgreen salad per day. Especially in the winter, I find warm food very satisfying.
As much as I  hate answers that start with “it depends” or sound like hedging in the case of raw versus cooked it does depend. In terms of vegetables, try to eat some raw and some cooked each day and watch out for those lima beans (who knew?).
Have you dabbled in raw food? Thought about nutrients lost in cooking? What would you say your percentage of raw versus cooked is in your diet?