Friday, May 25, 2012

Lunch plate

About a month ago, NPR asked their readers, "Are your friends bombarding you with food porn?" Thankfully, their findings were NO! Which is lucky for me because I am definitely guilty of flogging the social web with food picks...

and I love that I'm not the only one. My latest food blog addiction comes from a 9-year-old girl in Scotland who decided to take pictures of her school lunches. It has gotten a lot of attention fast, and as a result the school has already tried to improve it's menu. Have you seen it yet?

And in the spirit of sharing...

A vegetarian's revenge to Gaga's meat dress?

My lunch at Namu today.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The good guys

How much do you know about probiotics? For me, they are one of only and most important supplements I take.

When I was in high school, my doctor placed me on a daily antibiotic to control my acne. That prescription was renewed over and over again for years, and although it only mildly improved my skin, it did a number on my insides. I was tired all of the time, I couldn't seem to digest anything anymore, I had frequent sore throats, UTIs, anxiety, etc.

At 21, I was interning at a cutting edge physical therapy clinic, who had a dietician on staff for their clients. One day he offered to analyze my blood sample, and was able to determine that I had a shortage of good bacteria left in my body. He could even guess my ailments before I told him how I was feeling! Now I make sure to supplement my diet with yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, miso, and on occasion I take probiotics in pill form.

Recently, I've come across some some interesting articles about these "good bugs" and have found out they also have the potential to change mental states, are found in breast milk, and could possible be the secret to longevity...

First, Radiolab's episode on "Guts" explores the personality changes in mice after eating probiotics.

Second, an article about Madonna's secrete to longevity, and an interview with her former chief Mayumi Nishimura. Also, for those of you interested in macrobiotic cooking, I highly recommend Mayumi's book.

Third, find out "Just What's Inside Those Breasts". It will shock you!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spelt: a granola-ish grain

spelt udon

zucchini spelt mini loaf

Spelt biscotti

You might have noticed spelt in a health food blog, or the grocery store lately, but have you tried it yet?
Spelt is an ancient cousin of wheat with origins in Southeast Asia. Its recent rise in popularity is good news for wheat and gluten avoiders, because although it does contain gluten, most with gluten sensitivities can tolerate it. Also, spelt is not normally treated with pesticides or chemicals because it grows a thick husk that protects the berry from pollutants and insects.
It's a little pricier than buying wheat flour, but totally worth it. If you want to try it out at home, here are a few of my favorite substitutions and recipes (after the jump).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

Yay! May is here. As I mentioned, it's always a busy month for me, but it's also my favorite. Here is a list of some great things to do and ways to celebrate in May...

1. Eat more berries. Strawberry season in California has already begun. Blueberry, blackberry, and boysenberry season starts around May 15th. Berries are full of phytochemicals and antioxidants, and are especially delicious when they come from local organic sources. So eat up while you can!

2. Be nice to your Mom, and take her to Flora Grubb. This is one of my favorite places to spend a weekday morning in the city. It is the most stunning nursery/store I have ever been to, and they have a Ritual Coffee bar inside. Two weeks ago, Nick and I went to a Saturday morning talk about edible plants that grow well in the bay area. On Mother's Day, they are having a talk about "slow flower". Go here for more information. So buy your mom a cup of coffee, and enjoy their fancy patio furniture together. If your Ma doesn't live near by, no worries. It's great place to buy her a gift. They will even ship some of their plants right to her door.

3. Treat yourself to some Harvey Milk and Honey ice cream at Humphry Slocombe in honor of Harvey Milk's Birthday and the Milk Club's anniversary.

4. Join Lisa's 2nd-Hand Pledge! She is only buying second hand clothing from May 1st to October 1st, and she's asking YOU to join her!

5. Celebrate the Golden Gate Bridge's 75th Birthday! Watch the firework display over the bridge on May 27th, or paint your nails International Orange as a tribute.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Granola Gifts

Can you believe there are only a few days of April left? May is always a busy month for me with lots to celebrate: school always gets crazier, there is Mother's day, lots of birthdays (including mine), and there always seems to be a shower to two to attend. If your May is anything like mine, you'll probably be shopping for some gifts. So, in an attempt to make life easier, I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite finds. All of these gifts are earth friendly, a few of them are small-business made, and a couple support some really great causes. Happy shopping. -xo


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sour + Bitter

Sour and Bitter. These can be two dirty words when it comes to describing our food and drinks. It's really too bad because they are both important tastes in a well balanced diet, and they are definitely under consumed in a "typical American" diet. These two flavors are considered to have yin, cooling effects in the body that can balance a diet that is full of roasted, baked, grilled, and spicy foods. Sour foods have an astringent quality that can be beneficial to the body and the mind (it is thought to counter act scattered mental patterns). Bitter foods are cleansing, and can counter over-consumption of rich foods.

Here is a list of some of my favorite sour and bitter foods. If you think your diet is lacking these flavors, try adding a few of them into your weekly meals.

dandelion root tea

sourdough bread
pickled foods
aduki beans
some cheeses

Vinegar is both sour and bitter, and very versatile in the kitchen. I probably have seven different types of vinegar in my kitchen at any given time. It can be used to create depth to a dish, or most commonly, to make salad dressings, dips, and marinades. 

Today, I used the most common vinegar found in most any home, distilled white, to make pickled carrots. I love adding pickled veggies to salads, or alongside sandwiches, and they are great for a snack. Best of all, you can get very creative with pickling because just about any vegetable can be pickled with most any herb or spice. Pickled carrots, red onions, jalapenos, and beets are some of my favorites. I kept these pickled carrots pretty basic by just adding red pepper flakes and whole peppercorns to the brine. 

Also to note: 
Pickles are beneficial for aiding digestion after meals. Properly fermented pickles like sauerkraut and kimchi are a good source of the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus. However, eat within reason, over-consuming pickled foods can have harmful effects as well. 

Source: Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2003

Friday, April 13, 2012

Life lately...according to Instagram

I've had a great time visiting friends and family these last few weeks. We threw a bridal shower for my friend Tess, I spent a lot of time playing with my niece and nephew, went on a few hikes, and last weekend we went to a beautiful wedding. Life has been good, and I am truly grateful.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter weekend

(picture from annie's-eats)

Hello. Sorry I have been absent the last two weeks. I've been on school break and did some traveling (pictures to come). I also will be working to change the layout of this blog before creating new posts, so hang in should be worth the wait.

This weekend is Easter Sunday. My mom always made a fun day of it with the traditional egg dying, followed by  a hunt, candy baskets, and Easter dinner. Even without family around, or kids of my own, I still enjoy dying eggs and making a festive dinner. This weekend, however, we are very excited to be attending a our friend's wedding in Scottsdale, so Easter traditions will have to wait.

If you're feeling festive this year, I have found a couple sites with some good Easter egg projects. This first one is from annies-eats, she teaches you how to dye Easter eggs using fruits and veggies. If you're feeling extra crafty, this project is so cute and looks like a lot of fun!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Finally, some granola.

Last weekend I made a big batch of my favorite granola to fuel me through finals week. Making your own granola is awesome because you get to put exactly what you want in it, and only what you want. I think this particular recipe is the perfect balance of sweet and salty. I load mine with nuts and seeds and NO dried fruit, especially NO raisins. Just my personal preference. Try and make your own. Go crazy with it! Making your personal, signature, granola come with a surprising sense of satisfaction. 

My favorite recipe was adapted from Nekisia Davis's Early Bird Granola. It's super fresh and addictive! If eating granola is your thing, but making it isn't, you can order some here. I make mine with a little less sugar, add a few more nuts, and some flax seeds for a nice omega-3 and omega-6 balance.  See the recipe after the jump.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Parasympathetic Nervous System: Balancing Yin and Yang

(picture from An Apple a Day by Amy Merrick)

 This week has been a lovely one in San Francisco for wearing shorts, and drnking ice tea. Instead of having time to play and bask in the sun, I'm getting ready for finals. Finals can be a stressful time for anyone, even at a holistic medicine school! So, this would be a good time to remind myself, and share with you all, the value of finding time in our busy schedules to "rest and digest" aka activate our parasympathetic nervous systems.
If you're not sure what I'm taking about (to keep it short and not sound too much like a biology lecture), our nervous system functions in either one of two states; in the sympathetic or parasympathetic. In the sympathetic state our bodies are in a "fight or flight" response, that is, ready and willing to react to stressors in our life. The parasympathetic system is active when we are completely relaxed, and our body can therefore "rest and digest".
In our task-based society, especially if you live in the middle of a bustling city, our sympathetic nervous system is on overdrive, or in Chinese medicine we would say, "too much yang, not enough yin". In order to create balance within, we need to take the time to engender a calm and relaxed state everyday. This is especially important if you know there is something going on in your life that creates more stress that normal.
Therefore, lets talk about the best ways to relax and get on parasympathetic time (things that we'll ACTUALLY do).

1. Schedule time with friends.
Buddy-up on your activities. Have a few too many projects to do, or errands to run? Invite a friend along for the ride. When you have somebody to chat and laugh with, chances are you can preform your "duties" in a more relaxed manner.

2. Take a "no where to be" walk.
Explore your neighborhood, or take a nature stroll. Walk with no hurry or errand in mind, and see how you feel afterward!

3. Remember that hobby you had? Schedule a half-hour in your day to do it.
Doing the things that you love to do makes life more enjoyable, so make it a priority.

4. Listen to music that calms you.
It can be exciting to listen to music that revs you up, but put something softer in the mix. Think of an album that help you take a deep breath. I like Beach House, or Otis Redding.

5. Stop and -look at- the roses.
It has been shown that even just seeing pictures of nature puts us in a more relaxed state. That is one of the many reasons I love Amy Merrick's blog An Apple a Day. She is a gifted florist, among other things, and her blog features many of the bouquets she puts together.
Put a picture of Yosemite up in your office, or visit Amy's Blog when you need a minute to unwind during the workday.

6. Spend some time in candlelight at the end of your day.
Fake lights can keep us in an active state, unwind and light those pretty candles in your place. Try not to watch TV or the news while you're doing this. We can react to the stress your favorite TV character is under, or find unwanted anxiety from the daily news. 

What do you like to do to counter-act the daily stress in your life?

Have a happy, healthy weekend!

Monday, March 5, 2012

More is More

About a month ago, I wrote a post about Green Living and Bill Cunningham's New York, and how I am inspired by Bill's very simple, waste-not-want-not lifestyle. However, I am also convinced that being "green" does not have to mean living with less! 
Some friends and I went to the Alameda flee market this weekend to score some old treasures.   
Finding what you need via thrifting and flee markets not only keeps things out of landfills,  but it's also extremely satisfying.  Here are some photos of our trip:

My good friend and fellow blogger, Lisa of lalafauxbois, is a great example of someone who colors her life with forgotten treasures. She often posts about her thrift store scores, and they are quite inspiring to see. Lisa is also a gifted knitter, crafter, and outfit ensemblist (I just made that word up, but you'll understand if you check out her blog).  Check out her latest thrifting finds here
Lisa of lalafauxbois (taken from lalafauxbois)

Friday, March 2, 2012

Do you have aging fruit? No worries, make muffins.

Steel-cut blueberry muffins

Don't let your blueberries or bananas see the compost bin this weekend! Instead, try one of these healthy muffin recipes.

1. Gluten-free banana-nut muffins (recipe after the jump)
I make these muffins with Bob Mill's gluten-free biscuit and baking flour mix. They're really fluffy and sweet with little sugar added.

2. Blueberry muffins with steel-cuts  (recipe here-see notes below)
Steel-cuts are usually reserved for a weekend breakfast, due to the cooking time. Make a little extra and put them in your blueberry muffins for added satiety, and health benefits. This recipe is from NY Times, and they are sweetened with real maple syrup, so no refined sugar added! If you're used to a sweeter muffin, you can add a 1/4 cup brown sugar. I think they are much better with a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a 1/2 cup of chopped pecans. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Healthy Hump-Day Dinners

Not many people I know have endless hours available to prepare themselves healthy meals, myself included. So, I thought I would start sharing my favorite mid-week meals that take very little effort.

The first hump-day dinner is brought to you by Trader Joe's Indian Fare. Trader Joe's in general is great for these I-have-no-time-to-cook dilemmas, but today I'm featuring one of my favorite (and cheap) finds. If you don't have a TJ's, no worries. I have found similar fare at any health food's grocery in different brands. My favorite is the Punjab Choley, the texture of the chickpeas makes me not miss any meat in this meal. Just to warn you, this one is spicy! There are other varieties that are available with a lot less kick.

 My Vanna White showing off the product

I often serve these Indian dinner packets with brown rice and broccoli. I make the brown rice the morning of in my rice cooker, and set the timer so it's ready when I get home. Then, I steam the broccoli and set it aside. Then just pop the packet in the same boing water the the broccoli was steamed over, and 3-4 minutes later you're done!