Thursday, May 30, 2013

Smoothie Scientists and Giveaway

Yesterday we sent out our “Smoothie Support Group” newsletter tackling your most pressing smoothie issues: how to ensure your smoothie isn’t a gazillion calories, solutions for those of you who feel you rather eat versus drink your calories and the most common smoothie query “do I need a Vitamix?”

When I last posted about smoothie ingredients, one commenter said “You talk about things you put in your smoothies a lot and I have this image in my head of you with a zillion potions and powders, in a lab coat
Carolyn and I in front of Smoothie Central cabinet with all sorts of powders and mix-ins
That’s all Carolyn and I needed to read…enter your Smoothie Scientists in our labcoats. Here is our video debut (we’ll hone our skills, I promise) with our Thin Minty Smoothie.

6oz Harmless Harvest Coconut water
1 cup frozen blueberries (if you skip berries be sure to add ice cubes)
1 handful kale
1 scoop Sun Warrior Chocolate protein powder
¼ avocado
Organic Peppermint extract
pinch Himalayan salt
6 drops NuStevia

Cacao, if you’re not familiar with it, is what chocolate is made from. The powder or nibs are high in fiber (good to get things moving), it keeps LDL or bad cholesterol from doing nasty things, is a mood booster and a source of magnesium (most people are magnesium deficient).

Turmeric Carrot Smoothie with must-have Strawesome 
I love to “smooth” it’s true and have been playing around with my Turmeric Smoothie
 6oz ice water (or I tried with carrot juice too)
1 scoop Vanilla Sun Warrior
½ frozen banana
1 tsp. nut butter (used cashew butter)
Ice cubes
¼ to ½ tsp. turmeric
NuStevia (used their lemon flavor)

Reasons everyone should add turmeric to your diet daily:
  • Weight loss- studies (yes on rodents but still) show turmeric added to diet resulted in less weight gain; less lower body fat, if you’re a “pear” turmeric is for you.
  • One double blind, placebo-controlled study found that turmeric reduced symptoms of bloating and gas in people suffering from indigestion (love well executed bloat study).
  • It is a natural liver detoxifier, important in the summer time with perhaps more cocktails consumed
  • Good for healthy skin and conditions such as psoriasis
  • It is a potent anti-inflammatory with zero side effects; therefore, it is a natural treatment for arthritis, soreness following exercise and nature's Advil
  • Prevents various forms of cancer from spreading, described as “turning off cancer cells”
I want to try turmeric in a smoothie with Socal Cleanse hemp protein (which made our protein powder Hall of Fame). It’s what we call our Monday morning protein- excellent for bloat or when PMS strikes. Socal has generously offered to give away a bag of their protein to one of our thirsty (we didn’t say bloated) readers.

To enter comment below and tell us where you stand on the smoothing spectrum (smoothie newbie or seasoned smoothie maker), what your favorite smoothie is and what type of blender you use. If you haven’t lost your smoothie v-card, what’s holding you back?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

No More Afternoon Crashing, enter Guayusa

 While I am in book editing hell hard at work editing, Carolyn offered to post on one of my editing crutches and new favorite drinks.

Lauren and I both have our morning coffee rituals -- though hers currently includes coconut oil and mine a cute Aussie barista, we can caffeinate with the best of them. As the day progresses our office transitions into a tea zone. Green and white teas are our staples but we also pu-ehr and matcha (I attempted to get into matcha… still acquiring that taste).

But there's officially a new guy in town or in our glasses. Guayusa (“gwhy-you-sa”) has become our midafternoon revitalizer. The leaves contain the caffeine content of coffee, double the antioxidants of green tea but no tannins or bitterness. Most importantly, guayusa contains a miraculous little compound called theobromine which is also found in dark chocolate.  When caffeine and theobromine unite, the result is a balancing effect which means you get a stimulant sans the shaky jitters or crash.

We first met guayusa in a cup of DAVIDS tea’ Jungle JuJu which promises to leave you “swinging from the vines and hanging from the trees”…

Great success. We had spotted RUNA’s pretty iced tea bottles on one of our Foodtrainers Whole Foods field trips. That was before we knew that guayusa has traditionally been consumed by hunters for acute focus or that the “Super Leaf” also contains chlorogenic acid, a compound that can aid weight loss. If you’re not convinced yet, it’s said guayusa protects you against snakebites and gives you courage and power... which are basically the essentials mid-day in NYC, right?
We are loving RUNA’s unsweetened Lime and Guava iced teas for spring and summerhave you tried guayusa? If you can't nap (our ideal afternoon plan), what's your upper of choice? When you try this fun drink, please tweet us or come back and let us know if their was any chandelier swinging and I'll try to snap a photo of my barista.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Not Everyone Supported Angelina's Message, Important Points From Someone Who Knows

When it comes to medical choices it’s impossible to know how we’ll react until we’re face to face with a diagnosis. I learned this first hand when my father was sick. When an infection found its way into a stent the doctor said (surgeons can be so eloquent) “it’s his life or his leg.” To complicate matters further, we had to make this decision for him. He was unconscious. We choose life (life!) but felt there was a good chance that when my handsome, somewhat vain dad woke up he’d feel differently. When he came to and was informed of his amputation he looked at the surgeon and instantly said “thank you doctor for saving my life.”

Last week, Angelina Jolie shared with the world, via The New York Times, that she had made her own harrowing medical decision. Having lost her mother to ovarian cancer and testing positive for a mutated BRCA1 gene she underwent a preventive double mastectomy. She was heralded a hero by many people; however, I received an email from someone who saw things differently. This someone, my friend Erin, has faced her own bleak medical news. I'm so grateful she was open to this Q/A.

Are you comfortable sharing a bit about you, your story?
Sure, last spring I noticed a lump in my breast. I mentioned it to my doctor at my ob-gyn visit. She brushed it off because of my age and lack of family history saying it was likely a cyst. I was told to let her know if it got bigger. Waiting was my one mistake. In August I called her back to say I had no idea if it was growing but it was still there and I wanted an ultrasound. I should have demanded an ultrasound to begin with to confirm or reject her assumption of a cyst.

I went for an ultrasound and what I thought would be peace of mind.  I waited. I was told I needed a mammogram. I waited. I was told I needed a needle biopsy because the mass was “suspicious”. I was scared but more annoyed that they would do all three tests to confirm it was a cyst.  The doctor told me that he would call with the results in 2 days. On August 14, 2012, at the age of 29, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I couldn’t breathe. My boyfriend, at the time, raced home and my parents and sisters came over. I cried and cried for a day or two and then began to focus on finding the best doctors and putting a plan together.

Were you presented with a choice to have surgery or was it strongly recommended?
I was told to have a unilateral as things had spread to my lymph nodes and it was strongly recommended that I have a bilateral. When I asked my surgeon “If your daughter was sitting in my chair, what would you suggest?” She said bilateral. I felt like I was strong enough to go through this only once (anyone is – you go into survival mode). Even though tests showed that I do not have any genetic mutations I had a bilateral mastectomy in mid September, 8 chemo treatments from October to January, reconstructive surgery in February and 25 radiation treatments starting in March. I  finished April 16!

You reached out with objections to Angelina's Op Ed Piece, can you share your thoughts?  Were there any things you agreed with or related to?
I struggled with her references to “Pink Lotus Breast Center” it made it feel like a PR blitz versus a personal message. And the statement “I acknowledge that there are many wonderful holistic doctors working on alternatives to surgery.” I’m all for a paraben-free life but the insinuation that you can always skirt genetics (or breast cancer) with “alternatives” is irresponsible because of her influence.  Maybe Suzanne Sommers wrote the article for her.

What I wished that she included is that cancer can happen to ANYONE even if you don’t have the faulty gene (most women with breast cancer do not). While it’s important to know your history/risk, it’s absolutely critical to know your body. Women usually start mammograms at 40. Cancer can happen before 40, regardless of family history or genetics. I am proof.

There were other things I related to. I loved “On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.” She is the epitome of femininity and so for her to be so confident, after surgery, means a lot to women like me. 

Is the recovery as easy peasy as she mentioned? She also didn't have treatment so many women do/did. It wasn’t easy; you can’t use your arms for 6 weeks (think about getting up in the morning without using your arms to help). But the emotional issues that come along with the surgery were equally difficult. Things moved so quickly – diagnosis to surgery was less than a month.

What good do you think can come out of this conversation? I know it's not the same but I believe we need to talk about our bodies when they are healthy or not. Whether it's heart disease, constipation/colonoscopies/hormones or surgery, do you agree? The conversation is so important because it removes the stigma for women (and men!). Most things, when caught early, are treatable.

I know you've made some lifestyle and nutrition changes. What, from your experience, do women need to know?I became obsessive over what I was putting in and on my body (it was the one piece of control I had).
  • I switched over all of my cosmetics, shampoo, body wash, deodorant to paraben-free, SLS-free all thanks to guidance from you and trial and error. 
  •  I eat organic in my house and look for restaurants with organic options.
  • I don’t eat anything burnt because of the carcinogens.
  • I limit my soy intake to edamame once in a blue moon.
  • I juice – during my treatments we had juicing parties with friends. We’d get a ton of fruits and veggies and vote on whose combo was best. I will never forget those nights because they were filled with laughter and I was completely distracted. 
I don’t sweat the small stuff. I thought I didn’t before but now I really don’t. When I was first diagnosed, I looked completely normal but was going through the worst days of my life. You really have no idea what people are going through. 

I knew Erin was beautiful, kind and smart before any of this. She was the person who traveled hours to  watch my boys, so that I could attend my sister’s best friend’s funeral (she had colon cancer). I never knew she was so strong; she says anyone would be but that’s not true. I put on my game face when I saw Erin but wept in the middle of Yellowstone Park when her sister first emailed me the news. I am so grateful that both Erin and Angelina's choices and strength will keep them alive and healthy. We must get the medical information but also know our own bodies and in the meantime make all those lifestyle changes before getting diagnosed.

Personally, I found the Brad Pitt inclusion the oddest part of Angelina's article. But that “then boyfriend” Erin mentioned? He’s her “now” fiancé. Let’s see if she beats Angelina to the altar.
What did you think of Angelina's announcement and decision? Had you thought about the BRCA 1 or 2 genes before? Is there any doctor's appointment or lifestyle changes can you make today? Or where can you sweat the small stuff less?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What the day of the week means for your weight

It’s strategic when clients schedule appointments with me on Mondays. A Monday check in means that weekend socializing and food fun will be curbed slightly, at least that’s the intention. I was watching Chelsea Handler’s show last week and she shared she was having a skinny day because it was Wednesday. She explained it takes a couple days to recover post-weekend. Surprisingly a study concluded that women look their worst and oldest on Wednesdays versus any other day of the week, 3:30pm Wednesday if you really want to know.

Women are keyed into having a “time of the month” but I had never stopped to think that our body image and perhaps weight fluctuates throughout the week.  Statistically many things vary according to the day of the week. You’re more likely to die on a Monday and more likely to drink on Saturday though that drinking isn't likely related to the possibility of a Monday death.

Weekdays for me are fairly organized and predictable. Weekday workouts aren’t affected by the boys’ sports or birthday parties. There’s also little restaurant eating. So I would say Friday is the day I feel most confident. On the other end of the spectrum I’m not a Monday girl. For other people, more free time on the weekend may mean food shopping or cooking or workouts they don't have time for during the week. Once we pinpoint our patterns we can then try to change the worst day and modify the habits that play into this. 

If you’re wondering what’s in store for you today, I should tell you that Thursday is typically the best day for sex…just saying.
What day of the week do you feel your best? When do you feel the most rested? Are you old-looking on Wednesdays or skinny like Chelsea?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Christie Versus Abercrombie

If you look like this you must have lots of friends
The news was full of weight-related stories last week. Governor Chris Christie had lap band surgery to lose weight despite telling Letterman he’s “the healthiest fat guy you’ve ever seen”.  Also this week, Mike Jeffries the CEO of Abercrombie came under fire when he explained why their stores do not carry larger sizes.

Let’s start with Christie, the last time I wrote he told Barbara Walters it was “ridiculous  that people found him too fat to be president. Next thing you know, he has lap band surgery and in an effort to keep it secret even had the surgeon come to his office for the pre-surgery medical visits. The secret gets out and Christie says his motivation was that he wanted to be there for his kids. Oh and there just so happens to be a presidential race in 2016. This is a guy who had a doughnut on Letterman and mac and cheese during the soft foods post-op phase were these "for his kids" too?

And then there’s Mike Jeffries. I should really congratulate him. I have thought more about Abercrombie this week than ever before. There is an Abercrombie store close to where I get my hair blonded; I only know this because of the line of teenyboppers monopolizing the sidewalk. Perhaps, if I were cooler, I would get on that line. Their CEO told Salon magazine:
We hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”
In case you’re already nauseated it gets worse…
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids.” Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
Abercrombie only goes up to a women’s size 10, for men they have larger sizes to account for athletic, big guys so that’s fair, right? Aside from exclusionary this sounds silly in a country of larger people but this is definitely not the only clothing brand with their sizes capped. If you walk up and down 5th Avenue, where the store I mentioned is located, this is far from the only 12-less store. However, I’m still a little confused. How does being small indicate that you have “lots of friends”? Maybe they ask questions at the door, thus the line. Can you imagine a scale and a questionnaire to assess weight, friend volume and All-Americaness prior to entry?

Bad plastic surgery seems to be "cool"
We can’t get around it; most of us care about and notice size differences. When I compare these two examples, one really rubs me the wrong way and it’s the Christie situation that bothers me a lot more. For years he has said his weight is not an issue or doesn’t get in the way of him doing his job. With the possibility that he may run in 2016 it became an issue to the voting public. Christie sneaks around, gets surgery and when the fat cat is out of the bag he cites doing this for his children. How about saying you realized you needed to take action? Then again, I guess sneaky is more acceptable than 400 pounds when it comes to the White House. As far as Abercrombie, I can guarantee you that the line snaking out of their 5th Avenue store is just as large, despite the press, this week. Sadly, there are a lot of young people who want to be that cool kid. Though I can guarantee CEO Mike was never one of them, maybe that’s where some of this stems from.
Did you hear about these two stories? Which do you find more troublesome? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Healthy Scavenger Hunt New Orleans

So clearly I didn't take this photo, via BonAppetit
My book  (if I can call it that with the gazillion edits I received) The Little Book of Thin tackles the scenarios can potentially throw nutritional wrenches in our healthy habits. Early in the project, my agent was blunt “the advice for each of these topics cannot be to bring your own, you have to go beyond that.” When it comes to travel, you may recall I do like to BMO (bring my own) and I hear I’m not the only one who feels avocados are a perfect travel food. However, I also love to seek out healthy, fresh, local options when away. This past weekend I was in New Orleans for Jazz Fest. There was a lot of unbelievable music from Maroon 5, Fleetwood Mac, my new favorites the Revivalists and of course gospel greats but I also had a list of healthy items I try to find whenever I’m away.

A running route or workout- we were staying in Warehouse District. Gena, at Choosing Raw had told me about a juice bar located further uptown. Marc and I decided to run up Magazine St. On a beautiful but chilly morning we ran past the galleries and the Crescent City Farmer’s market, a little further up there were clusters of antique stores and crowds waiting outside brunchy places. 

You really forget about the running when you’re taking in your surroundings. I also noticed a  Pure Barre studio along the way.

Green Juice or Green Smoothie- if New Orleans, home of the Hurricane, is any indication you can find healthy pockets in most cities and towns. I used Twitter, Facebook and our hotel concierge to find some healthy hotspots. Heeding Gena’s advice we checked out Superfood Bar. We had worked up an appetite so I went with the Avocalada (have a Matchacolada in my book, had to taste the colada competition) a mixture of avocado, coconut, pineapple, coconut oil, dates and topped with coconut flakes. Marc went for the Chocolate Avocado smoothie. We also grabbed green lemonades and salads to eat for lunch before Jazz Fest.
sadly a hairbrush wasn't part of the scavenger hunt
Veggie Action
My salad, the Superfood Bar, had kale, beet ribbons and avocado tossed in vinaigrette made with Jerusalem artichoke syrup. The star of the salad was this coconut “bacon”. I don’t usually like food that requires quotation marks but this was the first crouton I’ve fallen for. I dug a little bit and found you can make it like this.
that little container has the "bacon" on the right was Marc's falafel salad
As much as I loved the coconut bacon, it was dinner later that night, at Domenica, where my veggie life would be forever changed. The life changing vegetable was the Roasted Cauliflower (pictured above).  While it seems this cauliflower has a bit of a following, it was new to me. And if you think I am not to be trusted because I run miles for an avocado smoothie- Marc devoured it too. I am not sure it would taste exactly the same without a wood-burning oven but I’m going to try out this recipe. And although I dreamt about the feta situation on the side, Marc preferred the cauliflower naked (I am choosing to end the sentence here).

Sensational Seafood- For old times’ sake we went back to Emerils. We were last at Emerils after my college graduation and I had doubts whether it would be as great as I remembered it but it was. I loved the Yellowfin Tuna Butter Lettuce Sashimi and the speckled trout served over succotash  (with grapefruit butter…swoon) which was the “creative fish of the day”. I was also impressed that Emeril’s, known for its pork chop and legendary banana cream pie, was receptive and knowledgeable when I inquired about gluten.

Sorry sashimi, you looked so much prettier in person, not the most flattering photo

Commendable Cocktail- I didn’t get my green juice our first day in Nola. I did however get a “red juice”. I was wooed by the Bloody Mary at Ruby Slipper. For me, life is about the garnishes and when I saw the picked string bean, I was sold.

Worthy Treat- I was in heaven with the foods mentioned above. Marc, on the other hand, had his own Jazz Fest Scavenger hunt in mind. Day 1, he beelined it for alligator pie (unappealing to me for so many reasons).  Day 2 it was the Muffaleta (the secret is in the olives). Like a kid in a “beignet” store he remarked “I would eat so much if you weren’t here.” Fortunately for him (maybe) I was.
You're married to a nutritionist, you must eat so healthy
And later he said "I wonder why my stomach hurts" yeah I wonder
Good food, good music, did I forget the good book Where’d You Go Bernadette? I devoured.
What do you like to find when you travel? What's on your travel scavenger hunt list?

Places I didn’t get to:
Café Carmo- my friend suggested the broken noodle salad she gets “no tofu” or the Esmeralda Salad.
Maurepas Foods- Carla says the Brussels sprouts with strawberry sauce were "to die for" 
Next time.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gwyneth, ignore the haters It's All Good

All "good" except annoying dotted line on the right

When it comes to celebrities, we all have someone who rubs us the wrong way and our own personal pet peeves. She may be a nice person but Daphne Oz’s stance as a nutrition expert, Paula Deen’s attempt to kill us and then save us, Kim Kardashian’s…everything all get under my skin. Oh and let’s not forget celebs who try to sell things in a sneaky manner (um Kirstie), celebs who are full of themselves (Reece), anyway those are my main gripes (or the ones that come to mind). But Gwyneth? I kind of like her and really like her new cookbook It’s All Good.  

Maybe I’m an elitist. A write-up in Bittman’s column says Gwyneth’s book makes it seem that “healthy eating is just for the wealthy”. And Yahoo did some very questionable math claiming that it would cost $300/day to eat as Gwyneth does.What Yahoo left out is many of us have maple syrup, salt and vinegar at home and if you want to stock your pantry surely you know that will benefit you and your family for more than one day. For example, when making the Old Bay Fish Fingers they tabulated to come in at over $70 (if you needed mustard and salt), I only had to buy lemon sole. It was twenty-something dollars but it fed our family and another child staying for dinner.  And fashion magazines have purses for 10,000 dollars, is it that offensive if Gwyneth lists her favorite brand of gluten free flour ($20 for three pounds)?
Fish fingers with elitist condiments Miso Mayo and Fancy Ketchup
To be fair, I could do without the justification or dramatization used as the rationale for many of the foods in this book. Gwyneth described a migraine that felt like a stroke and her son’s horrible eczema, cue doctor who told her to eliminate all these things from her diet.  And then there’s Goop, GP’s weekly newsletter.  Many people love to hate it too. Not me. I can read about a $130 “Montecito Margarita” with zero plans to ever buy it….that doesn’t mean I couldn’t try to replicate it at home with the  Don Julio Real Añejo Tequila and Grand Marnier 150th Anniversary mentioned .

Those dishing out G-hate also go after the foods mentioned in this book saying things like it shuns “everything good”.  Well how about the Paleo diet nothing packaged, no grains, no legumes it’s sold millions of copies. This is essentially a gluten free premise. If anything I would think everyone testing out juice cleanses and vegan regimes would be intrigued.  In my experience people like to experiment with cutting things out. Crushable said “each page reeks with condescension and pretension toward us mere mortals who can’t afford the made-up foods of Gwynethland and occasionally splurge on something deep-fried”.  I’m trying to figure out what was made up in these Tandoori Kabobs my family loved. Chicken, spices and yogurt don’t seem too far-fetched. And if you want to splurge on fries, why are you blaming Gwyneth (who likes to splurge on bread and cheese so I hear).

Gwyneth’s mistake may be sharing, Blisstree certainly wants her to stop
“When you talk about what you eat in every single interview you do, you’re perpetuating the idea that women should be constantly concerned with, constantly monitoring, what they eat” Here’s the thing, first of all many women are concerned and monitoring and open to a few tips. Second, it’s hard to promote a cookbook without talking food. As far as G's 2-hour workouts, I’ve touched on that in an earlier team G post saying
Every woman can make the time to eat well or exercise. Sure, it may be easier with a trainer and a chef but at the end of the day it comes down to determination and motivation whether you’re a celebrity mom or more like me. If money was the deciding factor Oprah would be waifish and I love Oprah but she’s shown us that wealth doesn’t necessarily govern weight.

And maybe it’s best Gwyneth talks about salmon and smoothies. Chelsea Handler (like her too) had Gwyneth on as a guest and offered this.
"She's an amazing advice-giver," Handler said, relating an anecdote from a recent dinner party. "One of her friends is like 'I got into a big fight with my husband and I went home and I just wanted to scream and yell.' And you were like, 'whatever you're doing, do the opposite. If you feel angry, go at him with love and you give him a b---j--.'"
So are you more comfortable with GP dishing out this last tip (which in most cases is free people) or can we go back to gluten?
Which celebs do you love to hate on? What are your thoughts on Gwyneth? Have to seen the cookbook? Would you buy it?