Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kids=picky eaters

I recently read an excellent article in the NY Times that interviewed chef Nicola Marzovilla who thinks, "Children’s menus are the death of civilization."  He recognizes that “expectations are different at a restaurant where a plate of handmade pasta costs $24. But even if he were running a pizza joint, he would never offer children what he considers a “dumbed down” menu on the side."

While Chef. Marzovilla has 3 children who will eat just about anything, his technique of getting them to do so is not one I necessarily agree with.  He essentially forced his children to try new foods.

“There wasn’t a time we didn’t end up trying it,” said Domenico, the 17-year-old. “Sometimes it took longer than others.”
“You know, I’m their parent, I’m not their best friend,” Mr. Marzovilla noted. “I have a duty to mold and teach.”...
“If you don’t ask your children to try things, how will they ever know what they’re capable of?” Mr. Marzovilla said. “And isn’t the same true of us?”
For most parents a gentler approach will probably have better results and lead to a more peaceful mealtime.  I read a blog or article several months ago, and cannot find it again.  But the writer gave good advice that went something like this, "Parents choose the what and when of food, kids get to choose how much."  This means that the parents get to choose what is being served for meals and snacks and at what time.  Kids get to choose if they are going to eat what is being served and how much they want to eat of it.  Instead of putting food on your child’s plate, let them tell you what they want and how much.  This technique also helps prevent over eating and/or wasting food.  If kids ask for seconds encourage them to choose a fruit or vegetable instead of seconds on the dinner rolls.  

Young children have very sensitive palates, what tastes delicious to an adult can easily overwhelm a child’s taste buds.  If your child doesn’t like a food, ask them why?  Is it too hot, too crunchy, too bitter or salty?  This way you can try preparing the same food in a different fashion that may appeal to them more. 

How does this relate to the restaurant world?  When eating out instead of instinctively ordering from the children’s menu, have your child order something from the adult menu.  If there are leftovers it’s ok.  Take them home and save them for a snack or another meal.  Or, split a meal with your child.  Most restaurant portions are larger than what they average adult needs anyway.  Also, many upscale restaurants will probably be happy to offer a smaller portion to accommodate you as well.

 Kids already eat too many chicken fingers and French-fries at school, lets make sure that when parent’s and caregivers are around they are eating real food.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I attended a certified personal trainer review course this weekend and had the chance to put some of my own advice to the test.  On Friday I drove down to Jacksonville, FL.  I packed our medium sized cooler with my weeks left over salad mixture, ½ a peeled grapefruit, 1 can of tuna, small Tupperware of carrot sticks, and 2 soyjoy bars.  I got into town early so that I could take a trip to Whole Foods market, something that is a luxury for me.  Since the review course lasted 3 days I grabbed 3 apples, 2 Kashi frozen dinners, 3 cliff bars (they were on sale!) 3 Wallaby yogurts(also on sale!), Chicken salad sandwich & side salad, and then had to come up with something creative for a vegetable.  I knew my hotel room had a kitchenette, but didn’t want to buy a whole head of broccoli or cauliflower and cut it up, and even I can only eat baby carrots for so many days.  Amazingly, Whole foods has a fresh stir-fry mixture of pre cut red,yellow,orange,and green bell peppers and red onions in what I’m guessing to be about 1# packages, it was a little pricey at $4, but lasted me for 2 meals. The amount spent on all these items came to roughly $25-30 for 4 meals.  Had I eaten out for each of those I probably would have spent close to the same, but most likely I would have spent more.

I planned on checking in to my hotel before going over to the YMCA where the course was being held, but google maps gave me really bad directions and by the time I figured out where everything was I didn’t have time.  Thankfully the Y had a refridgerator/freezer that I was able to stash my purchases in. For lunch that day I had my salad, grapefruit, and a soyjoy.  I was going to add tuna to my salad but didn’t have a good place to drain it.  During our dinner break I had enough time to check into my hotel and heat up a Kashi dinner. 

Saturday morning I utilized the hotels complimentary breakfast and packed my lunchbox with my chicken sandwich, side salad, yogurt, bell pepper mixture, and ½ a cliff bar.  (I ate the other ½ before my workout that morning and did the same on Sunday.  Most hotels these days have workout room or pool, remember to utilize them.) The nice part about bringing my own lunch was that I didn't feel gross, stuffed, or greasy from a fast food lunch.  Since I still had to sit through 4 more hours of review, this was a definite plus.  That night I took myself out for dinner and got a hot roast beef sandwich from an organic cafe in the fancy pedestrian mall near my hotel.

Sunday morning I again had breakfast from the hotel, and confiscated some wheat-berry bread, pb, and jelly to make a sandwich that I saved as a snack on my drive home that night; along with the rest of the sliced up bell peppers.  For lunch I brought my second kashi frozen dinner, apple, and yogurt. Thankfully the Y also had a microwave that they let me use.

My point with all this is that yes, as I admitted to Ryan last night, it is easier to just eat out when traveling for business and even for pleasure.  However, when you can actually stay awake for your afternoon meeting because you didn't eat a greasy burger and extra large coke, it's worth it.  Also, had I gone out for lunch both days I never would have made a new friend.  Meet Lou and read about his amazing transformation on his website.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


In the past couple days I've read a several different quotes that are in the process of dramatically changing the way I think.

"You learn to smile, even in your liver?... This smile will make you beautiful woman."  -Ketut; Eat, Pray, Love

"The wisdom of life is to do what we do not like but makes us better, and not to do what we love but it makes us worse." -Jerzy Gregoric; The Happy Body

"Pay attention to what is going on.  Resist unnecessary distractions." -my mom

It's dawning on me how my patients must feel when I tell them they must change the way they eat and live.  It can be very daunting and is currently causing me a bit of an identity crisis.  More to come on these thoughts in the next couple weeks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vibram 5 Fingers

After a few backorder setbacks, Ryan and I received our Vibram five fingers(VFF) in the mail the other week.  I first read about VFFs several years ago while in college and though they were soooooooooo cool, and wanted a pair mostly for shock value.  However, a college student budget does not usually have room in it for non-necessities.  Plus, I was still under the impression that the more cushioned my running shoes and the more support my arches had the better off I was.

Today the notion that to be a runner you must first have running shoes is coming under fire.  Several books have been published on barefoot running, websites on the subject are popping up all over, and new shoes are being designed to accommodate the new wave of minimalist and barefoot runners.  There is a big distinction between minimalist and barefooting.  Minimalist shoes are those that still have a sole, so pretty much anything you put on your foot.  These include shoes such as distance running flats, your old camp water shoes from wal-mart, and vibram 5 fingers.  Nike Frees DO NOT COUNT!  They offer too much cushioning and support.  Barefoot running is just that, no shoes, just feet.

When running barefoot or in minimalist shoes you no longer hit the ground with your heel and roll off your toes. (at least this is the idea)  Instead you tend to land more on the middle to front part of your foot with your heel coming down first.  This makes your foot act as a shock absorber instead of your knees, hips and back.  You can't "pound the pavement" as a barefoot runner.  Instead you have to think "light on your feet."  Try going into your back yard or city park, take off your shoes and run in the grass.  What feels better, running in the traditional heel strike fashion, or bounding on your toes?

Why run barefoot or wear minimalist shoes?  When you get down to it, all you really need to run, are feet.  And God/Allah/Buddha/ gave us feet to do exactly that.  People have studied tribes in South America and Africa and turns out, they do not land on their heels when running barefoot.  This is a big difference compared to what Nike and Adidas would have you believe when trying to market a new highly cushioned, motion control shoe.  Surprisingly, people in these tribes do not suffer ilio-tibial band syndrome, stress fractures, schin splints.... and all the other usual running injuries.  I have a feeling some of this has to do with other lifestyle factors such as diet and running on dirt not pavement.  But even with all of our technology, people running in fancy shoes still get overuse injuries quite often.  Check out this video for more information.  Not everyone is bound for running barefoot or changing their foot strike, but it may be one more tool in the runners arsenal for becoming stronger and faster.

So far my runs have been very short about 1/4 mile a couple times a week.  Just like any kind of new activity you do not want to start running barefoot all at once.  Sometimes I wear my vibrams and sometimes I just wear socks, such as when I finish up a run on the treadmill or on the grass after a regular run.  Mostly I've been wearing mine to the gym while lifting weights and even while on the elliptical or stair climber.  I also wore them to an RD meeting this past Monday and they were probably the best conversation starter EVER!  While I may never get to running my 10Ks, 1/2 and full marathons in them, I'm hoping to get strong enough to do a 5K at some point in the next year.

Here are some websites with more information on barefoot/minimalist running.  Happy Trails!
Sport Scientists
Barefoot Running
Tera Plana
Invisible Shoe

Sunday, July 11, 2010

R.T. Grill Master

Ryan and I have finally braved the heat and begun grilling.  Mostly because the humidity is down so it is not quite as oppressive.  Last weekend we fixed BBQ chicken breasts and grilled zucchini, pepper, and onion.  Last night we fixed chicken drummies and more grilled peppers and onion.  We also added asparagus to our menu by wrapping it up in tinfoil and adding it about 5 minutes before the chicken was done.  Any grill out wouldn't be complete without some baked beans which we fixed from scratch and without a recipe.  They ended up being more a thick tomato stew bean mixture, but tasted delicious anyway.  My goal today is to once again prove that cooking a meal at home is still cheaper than eating out.  Our grocery receipt already found it's way to the trash so I'm rounding numbers from my memory.
Chicken Drumsticks 5 for 4.70
Onion 1 for 0.40
Red Pepper 1 for 1.20
Asparagus 1# for 2.99
Bean mixture after preparation comes to approximately $6 for 10 servings.  One serving = 0.6

Total cost of meal= $15.29
Ryan and I each ate 2 drumsticks (meat and skin) and pollished off all the veggies and each had a serving of beans.  So per person the meal cost $4.78.  While this meal is still more expensive than eating off the dollar menu from McDonalds, it is much less expensive than eating out at an Applebees, Ruby Tuesday, or Outback Steakhouse. It was also higher vitamins/minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and lower in sodium.

Our meal the best of my calculating abilities: 641kcals, 34g fat ( 7 saturated, 25 unsaturated), 47g protein, 25g carbohydrate, 11g fiber. sodium 1000mg
The high vit/min content in percents of RDA were
 A 39%,  B6 64%,  C 78%,  E 48%,
copper 78%, Iron 31%, Magnesium and Manganese at 34%, Niacin 78%, Phosphorus 66%, Riboflavin 59%, Selenium 80%, Thiamin 53%. and Zinc 100%
Wow! That's a micronutrient packed meal!

Compare this to the Weight Watchers garlic & herb grilled chicken + sides from Applebees:
370kcals, 6g fat (1g saturated, 5g unsaturated), 49g protein, 37g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, sodium 1930mg.
Cost will vary with location but for ease of calculations with tax and tip I'd put it around $10.

While our meal was higher in calories, it was greatly due to the high amount of unsaturated fatty acids from the olive oil we used to coat our veggies in.  This fat will keep you full and help prevent heart disease.  Which means that instead of eating that mini cheesecake shooter for desert at the restaurant(adding 380kcals), you will be full and happy for the rest of the night.  Plus, ours tastes better!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

cooking uh-ohs

I am not a chef, I would not even classify my self as a good "home cook."  Sure I can throw together a salad and do a decent job following a recipe, but even then it doesn't always turn out as planned.  With this said, I'm still amazed by the people who tell me they do not know how to cook or are afraid to try cooking. When did cooking become scary?  Honestly, who cares if something gets messed up, or isn't done quite right.  Adults expect children to make mistakes growing, we should not always expect perfection of ourselves, especially in the kitchen.  Examples:

1. This weekend I planned on taking a banana-rum bundt cake to our church picnic.  However...I wanted to try making it with stevia.  Having worked in the outpatient diabetes center for 9 months now, my curiosity of how to make baked goods a little more "diabetic" friendly finally got the better of me.  Personally I hate the way splenda tastes, which is why I wanted to try stevia.   I looked online and found many different ratios for sugar to stevia conversions and finally settled on 1/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup Truvia.  The recipe for the cake came from my cooking light cookbook, and after whipping up the batter I poured it into muffin tins and set my timer.  (We do not have a bundt pan, and muffins are nice for automatic portion control.)  It seemed to take the muffins forever to brown, which was to be expected with the lack of sugar.  But even when they were on the verge of burning, the insides were still undercooked.  They were very very dense and a little rubbery, Ryan still likes them dunked in coffee.  Needless to say I did not take them to the picnic.  I substituted them with a bowl of Bing Cherries which everyone loved.

2.  Ryan bought 4 avocados from Trader Joe on his way home from Atlanta last weekend.  I noticed this morning that they had become very ripe and decided to try making a cold avocado-ginger soup.  I should have known the kitchen gods were not smiling down upon me today when I opened my container of ginger and it was mealy and moldy.  No problem I thought, I'll just add cilantro in it's place.  After chopping and sauteing an onion I was in the process of peeling and mashing the avocado which was very ripe with many brown spots.  Thank-goodness I decided to try a spoonful of it before adding it to the onions.  They had either begun to ferment or rot from the inside out and tasted awful.  But for any sum of money above $100 I would eat it again.  Instead of chilled avocado soup and fish for dinner, I'm switching gears and using the already sauteed onion to make picadilo.  Picadilo is a cuban ground beef dish served over rice.  Here are a several links to picadilo recipes, the first one is more time intensive than what I made, the others are fairly comparable.  For a vegetable I served a side salad with tomatoes, carrots, and celery.
Rachel Ray
Taste of Cuba

If you are new to cooking or trying a new recipe, it's never a bad idea to have a back up plan just incase your dish doesn't turn out quite right.  Back up plans can be anything from mac&cheese and steamed green beans to store bought cup cakes.  Also, start simple: sauteed chicken with veggies is good for beginners.  Chicken galentine on the other hand, probably a little too complicated for a novice or even intermediate cook.  But remember, as long as you tried that's all that matters; even if it's not perfect.