Sunday, October 28, 2012

Deutschland, AKA: Germany

After 2.5 years of no vacation, Ryan and I decided to jump the pond for 6 days of walking, eating, and beer drinking in Deutschland (Germany).  Actually, the beer drinking was just Ryan, I stuck with my wine.  We had a great time and are already planning a trip back.  Even though Germany is known for bread and brats, we were still able to make healthy choices...when we wanted.

Both hotels we stayed in served continental breakfasts that supplied the usual "liquid" eggs, but Cocoon in Munich had a very nice spread of sliced deli meats and cheese, potato salad, fresh cut fruit, plain yogurt, muesli, cherry tomatoes with mozzarella balls covered in balsamic vinaigrette, sliced cucumbers,  smoked salmon, pickled asparagus, hot and cold sausages, various whole grain breads, cream cheese, and coffee.  It was a great way to start our day; giving us lots of energy to walk and sight-see.  At the Hofbahnhof (train station) I frequently saw business people ordering sandwiches or big cups of muesli with whole milk for breakfast.  Both are much better options than a bowl of Special K with skim milk, as so many of my clients have done in the past.

In Munich we did the touristy thing of eating Sauerbraten at the Hofbrauhaus.  Unfortunately, it didn't even come close to being as tender or flavorful as what my aunt Rosie made at christmas last year.  But the wine and beer and atmosphere made up for it.
Near the English gardens Ryan and I ate a couple of delicious salads.  Later that day we enjoyed a couple of drinks at the Japanese pagoda in the gardens while listening to an umpa band.
For supper we found a traditional German restaurant the Haxenbauer, near Marion Platz, with what I thought were rotisserie chickens in the window.  Come to find out they were schweinshaxe (pork knuckle/ham hock) and were one of the best things I've ever eaten.  Seriously.  The skin was crispy and the meat was fall off the bone tender.

In Frankfurt we of course tried the traditional Grune Sosse (green sauce) at Metrapol Cafe.  This was the only restaurant without an English menu.  But our waitress was very helpful, and knowing a bit of German did come in handy.  The grune sosse was amazing!  It was served with hardboiled eggs and potatoes which had been boiled and then pan fried till crisp.  We almost licked our plates.  In Frankfurt, Ryan discovered a new love for Apflewein or apple wine.  I thought it tasted like rotten apple juice that had sat in an old shoe, but to each their own.

On our last day we had lunch at Cookie In The Box just up from the Rhine River.  I enjoyed a bowl of creamy pumpkin carrot soup, and since we were on vacation...gave in for a scrumptious chocolate-white chocolate chip cookie.  mmmm....
What we found interesting were the number of people who were not obese, but had either a pronounced beer belly or "spare tire."  I'm not sure if this is something we would have seen 50 years ago due to the nature of the country (beer, pretzels, bread, deserts), or if like the U.S., this is a new occurrence.  While people may have been carrying extra weight, I did not see people who looked sick, lethargic, and sallow.  I'm guessing this is because people are still eating more real foods, and foods that contain real fats.

Germany is a beautiful country, and if you have never thought of going, you should.
Happy cows come from Bavaria

Monday, October 1, 2012

Vegetarian Myth Review

Just finished reading "The Vegetarian Myth" by Lierre Kieth.  Maybe I can't say I finished it...because I didn't actually read it through to the end, kind of skimmed the last section.

Overall, I enjoyed the book.  Kieth tackles the political, environmental, moral, and nutritional beliefs/myths that surround vegetarian and vegan eating.  Her personal experience from carnivore to vegetarian to vegan and back provide a nice story line amidst all the research.

Instead of chapters, the book is broken into sections; each supported by a mountain of research.  These are my favorite points or take home messages of the book.

1. In order for people to survive, someone/something must die.
2. Agriculture is destroying the planet.  Govt. subsidies that support corn, soy, wheat... encourage this destruction.
3. Soy is bad for you.  Don't eat foods made with soy unless they are fermented. (Soy Sauce, Miso)
4. The planet is overpopulated.  We can no longer support it through sustainable farming.  Sorry.
5. You may be "healthy" on a vegetarian diet now, but where will your health be in 20 years?
6. Buy local and sustainable when you can.  This includes produce, but also poultry, pork, beef, eggs.... get to know your farmer and his farming practices.

My biggest criticism is Kieth's feminist views.  I would have preferred if these were left out.  They were strongest at the end when she discusses how to "Save the World."  She likens the destruction of the planet and the CAFOs treatment of animals to that of female oppression.  I don't quite understand her spin on it all, and that is why I chose not to finish the last section.

While I cannot fully relate to Kieth's personal story, I can remember the days and meals when I did not consume animal protein or enough fat; I often felt hungry and unsatisfied.  Our meatless meals of black bean burrito bake, black bean burgers, oatmeal with peanut-butter, cereal with skim milk or soy milk. None of these meals provided enough protein or fat to support a healthy metabolism.  No wonder I was hungry within 1-2 hours.  Many of these recipes I've blogged about; believing them to be healthy.  At the time I did not fully understand how they were sending me on a blood sugar roller coaster.  Suppose I will have to take them down, or find a way to revamp them.  Lets just say life is a journey with lots of learning along the way.

Working with vegetarian clients or even "flexitarian" clients I can see the symptoms of protein deprivation: Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue, Poor hair and nail growth, Insomnia, Osteoporosis, Frequent illness, Cravings.  By increasing their protein intake, these symptoms disappear.  Maybe not in the first few days, but within 1-2 weeks they notice a difference.  This doesn't mean they begin eating steak overnight.  I might have them start with a little organic yogurt, some wild caught fish, eggs, even whey protein powder.  Each person has their own reason for choosing vegetarianism, so it's important to work with their beliefs, educate them properly, and reintroduce foods at the appropriate pace.

For anyone questioning starting or stopping a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle I do highly recommend reading this book.