Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Peaches, Tomatoes, and Carrots

I think if I had to choose foods of only one color, I would choose orange foods, or close to orange at least. My favorite foods include salmon, carrots, cantaloupe, and tomatoes, but not orange peppers. My favorite sweet combination is orange and chocolate.

On another note, we like to try out new recipes and here are a few new and old recipes that include orange foods, and, more importantly, raw foods.

Warm Tomato Pasta
Ginger Stir Fry
Cumin Pork with Peach Chipotle Salsa (This recipe was adapted slightly from Epicurious)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Raw Foods

The presentation I attended about the 7 balances or imbalances (maybe depends on how you look at it) of a healthy lifestyle will definitely be the source of many posts as I try to understand why I should be making certain changes. One of the things Dr. Judy Valentine spoke about was eating a raw food with every meal. It made me think about when I eat raw foods and how often.

I don't think I eat raw foods with breakfast, ever. Unless I count juice as a raw food, and I think that is cheating. Occasionally, and I mean occasionally, I will eat grapefruit on the weekend, but that is about it. I eat most raw foods with dinner, usually in the form of a salad or cut up vegetables.

In order to do a better job of eating raw foods, I need to understand why. I found two informative sites about this: Ten Advantages to Eating Raw and Why Eat Raw Food.

Of course we know that as we cook foods, such as vegetables, we cook away some of the important nutrients. But the second site I linked goes into detail about how we alter nutrients and how cooked foods lack enzymes, important players in absorbing nutrients. Other reasons explained are that raw foods contain oxygen, are easier to digest, are an environmentally friendly choice (encourages organic farming, less energy spent cooking, etc.), Some other interesting processes were explained that I would like to know more about. One was that green leafy vegetables contain chlorophyll which we know, but, what I didn't know is that chlorophyll resembles the hemoglobin in chemical structure. Chlorophyll is supposed to oxygenate the blood and detoxify the blood stream (this comes from Why Eat Raw Food). Is this true? I don't know.

So I looked up the benefits of chlorophyll. I found some websites that say that chlorophyll can actually prevent cancer. Interesting stuff, but it gets complicated because some sites suggest we need to ingest A LOT of green leafy vegetables to benefit and therefore should be taking supplements. This is where this information gets overwhelming... just how much time will I realistically take to weigh out whether or not I am eating enough of something, especially considering every bite of food has good parts, bad parts (pesticides on green leafy vegetables, extra cost of organic?).

But if I go back to the main idea of this post, eating raw foods, it seems simple enough. Eating raw foods is a good idea. Common sense tells me that it is probably true, I should vary my raw foods (color is a good way to do that) and I should make sure the raw foods are thoroughly washed. With this in mind, I will aspire to eat raw foods with every meal.

Some raw foods I enjoy are sliced and peeled cucumber, carrots (I prefer big carrots- more flavor), apples, tomatoes, and my favorite salad (spinach, apples, pine nuts, feta, carrots, balasmic dressing with olive oil, honey, oregano, salt and pepper).

Dr. Judy Valentine also spoke of other raw foods, such as nuts. She also explained that sauteing vegetables can count as raw foods if they are still crunchy.

Since last post:
Healthy Highlights: Resisted Mike and Ike temptation, went on a few walks, had lots of green tea and apples.
Areas of Improvement: Too many hotdogs, bag of Sunchips.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


In my first post, I mentioned (2nd reason) that I had heard a presentation given by a nutritionist, Dr. Judy Valentine. She started the presentation asking the audience if we were willing to commit to becoming healthier. It was an interesting question to ask, and I did feel inspired to make some changes.

She also began her presentation with a book recommendation and explained that some of the information she was sharing was from this book.

This is what I took away from the presentation:

We need to balance 7 important aspects of our life/diet/habits in order to be healthy.

1) Improve nutrition (The bullets are the points I really paid attention to.)
  • Eat a healthy hearty breakfast that includes protein. We fast many hours before breakfast and need to refuel.
  • We should eat protein, carbs, and fats with every meal.
  • Eat a raw food with every meal.
2) Balance hormones - particularly insulin, thyroid, and male and female hormones
3) Reduce inflammation
  • Some foods are inflammatory.
  • Inflammation = aging
  • Sugary food are one of the most serious causes of inflammation (Mike and Ikes!)
4) Improve digestion
5) Detoxify - drink water, consider cleansers, etc.
6) Increase energy - exercise!
7) De-stress - keep your mind calm, resiliency is good, stress depletes nutrition and sleep

These are the notes that I took and, of course, I am only touching on what was said in the presentation. There was much more, including advice about supplements throughout.

Some immediate goals based on this:

- less sugar, no more Mike and Ikes, and I only drink one glass of juice per day now
- more green tea, which was recommended as an anti-inflammatory drink
-exercise, went on two walks since Tuesday :( ...working on it
-raw foods with every meal, apples, carrots, cucumber
-bigger breakfasts with protein, have had eggs 3 days in a row (this is difficult for me)
-detoxify, trying to watch intake of pre-prepared meals with preservatives, using safer cleansers, opening windows, etc.

On another note, I found a useful site about nutrition.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Green Tea

When I was in Japan, I acquired a taste for green tea. It was served with every meal in every restaurant and home. Sometimes it was very strong and sometimes mild, and usually hot, if not warm. I have never really loved or craved the flavor of green tea and that is probably why I stopped drinking it when I returned home. However, I do love the flavor of jasmine tea.

I have read a lot about the benefits of green tea. Even when I google it now, there is no end to the number of sites dedicated to the benefits of green tea .The nutritionist, Dr. Judy Valentine, spoke about it the other night as a recommended beverage.

So, one of my goals is to become a regular green tea drinker. It begs the question... How much green tea should I drink? Well, many sites admit that there is debate with this question; however, it seems that the most common number is 3 cups.

This week I have been drinking 2 cups and this is how I drink green tea: I bought green tea with jasmine tea bags (another supposedly beneficial tea) so that I will actually enjoy the taste. I brew it and then pour it over a glass completely filled with ice (no sugar). So I am drinking iced green jasmine tea. Yum!

Goal: 3 cups a day. In September, I will follow my one cup of coffee (recently reached the goal of reducing coffee intake to only 1 cup a day!) with green tea for my drive to work. One cup at work and one maybe in the evening.

I like to research things on the internet but know enough to know that just because it says so on a website, it doesn't mean it is true. If I provide a website, it is so I can easily find that website again.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Why I Started this Blog

1) I am interested in making healthy eating choices but feel overwhelmed by all of the information. (e.g. Today I read an article that said drinking one glass of wine each day increases the risk of breast cancer. I read another article today that says wine reduces the risk of skin cancer...)

2) I just saw a nutritionist speak about healthy choices and I feel inspired to make some changes. (Dr. Judy Valentine) (Her book recommendation)

3) Before I moved back to North America from Japan, I was probably at my fittest and most ideal weight (achieved by visiting the park, note blog photo). I have been trying to lose the 10 pounds, since my return to much bigger food land, for a while now.

4) I have been hearing/reading about inflammatory foods lately and have reason to take this seriously.

5) During my 2 years in Japan, I gained an appreciation for unprocessed foods and foods that don't last on the shelf for 3 years!

6) I want to get back on track with exercise, and since I began my master's I have not made it a priority - I have NO excuses.

7) I don't have a diet/exercise partner and this blog will (hopefully!) hold me accountable. My husband is very supportive and exercises with me, but we can also be each others' worst enemies...we can walk tomorrow...do you want to visit Fancy Cakes?.... etc.

8) I hope that I will be able to gather a list of recipes, ideas, and encouraging resources through recording my experiences.

9) I am addicted to sugar, Mike and Ikes in particular. Processed sugar is bad for my body, my teeth, and it prevents me from eating fruit. It also has a ton of calories.

10) Maybe someday someone else will read this and offer suggestions or maybe even appreciate reading about a recipe from my blog!

One more reason: Procrastination: I have a paper to write for school.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cumin Pork with Peach Chipotle Salsa

This recipe was adapted from Epicurious. This was for 3 pork chops


1 ripe peach pitted and cut into 1/4-inch diced
1/3 regular white or red onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced (we did not have these and it was still delicious)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (we had dry cilantro and it was good)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For 3 Pork Chops

Coat pan with olive oil
Coat pork chops in the oil and coat each side with ground cumin, kosher salt, and ground pepper. Rub it in.

Sear pork chops on high. Leave on medium (covered) until done - about 10-15 minutes

Serve with salsa. This recipe is delicious!

Ginger Stir Fry

For me, sometimes less is more. For example, I prefer a stir-fry with maybe 3 different vegetables, rather than 6. This recipe is a nice and easy side dish. When I am careful and do not cook it too long, I count it as a raw serving.

I have never measured this, so everything is approximate.

3 large carrots, slice any way in bite sized pieces
about 2 cups of broccoli in small pieces
same amount of green beans cut in thirds or snow peas

2 tbsp of olive oil
2 -3 cloves of garlic crushed
2 tbsp of finely chopped fresh ginger (There are no substitutes for fresh ginger and garlic)
pepper (or a dash of cayenne) and salt

This is quick and best if not overcooked. I like to add the garlic and ginger after the vegetables so they don't burn on the bottom of the pan - especially the garlic.

Serve by itself or with rice.

Warm Tomato Pasta with Fresh Basil

This is great with summer tomatoes. This is best when the tomatoes have had a chance to marinate for about an hour or more at room temperature.

These approximate amounts are for 2-3 servings. I have never measured this so everything is estimated.

3 -4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (not the same proportions as salad dressing, do not want too much vinegar to overpower the tomato)
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp of chopped fresh parsley
1 clove of garlic crushed (1 clove is perfect if it has a chance to marinate)
3 tbsp crumbled feta
2 large ripe tomatoes chopped finely

Cook pasta of choice such as bowtie or penne

After draining the pasta, toss the warm/hot pasta in with the tomato marinade. Sprinkle additional feta when serving.