Sunday, November 4, 2012

Yum Yum Veggie Sandwich

It's been a while bloggies!

New York City is slowly recovering from Sandy and I thought I'd post my lunch from today just to have some sort of return to normalcy.

Italian Bread (or any loaf that you enjoy - French, wheat, etc.)
Olive Oil (I use extra virgin)
2 Cloves of Garlic
Handful of Spinach
2 oz. Mushrooms
1 Tomato
Herbs de Provence

As I don't have a toaster oven, I had to use my oven's broil feature. I set that to "lo" as I prepped the rest.

It's important to prep everything before putting the sandwich together so the bread doesn't get soggy. Chop the garlic and slice the mushrooms and tomato. Cut bread into a 6" slice and cut it in half. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the bread on top. Drizzle olive oil onto the bread. Be careful with this step! You don't want to put too much on or the bread will be soggy and the oil will spill out while you're eating. Immediately top the bread with garlic, herbs de provence, spinach, sliced mushrooms and tomatoes.

Pop into the oven for 3 minutes. The bread should be crisp, but not burnt.

Serve open face or as a sandwich. (I ate it open face, but folded each section like a pizza to stop the toppings from falling off.)

Enjoy! I did. :)

Feel free to add any other veggies that you want. Peppers, onion, olives -- whatever you like!

I bought everything for $13.77 and it should make about three sandwiches. That comes out to $4.59/meal.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

"Organic, Schmorganic"

Last Monday the Times posted an article about the findings of a new meta-analysis comparing 237 different studies of organic and conventional foods. The analysis found that there is no significant nutritional variance between the two groups. Basically, a tomato is a tomato no matter how you grow it.  The article goes on to say that there are some nutritional benefits -- organic milk contains more Omega-3s, for example. Unfortunately, it seems, people stopped reading at the headline.

Among them is the Times' own Roger Cohen, a British-born journalist whose specialty is economics and international politics. I mention his background to emphasize the fact that his opinion on questions of nutrition is as valid as the homeless man I saw urinate on a croissant two years ago. Yet the Times saw fit to publish his opinion for millions to read: "organic, schmorganic."

His arguments are fraught with inaccuracies so laughable that one has to wonder if he actually read any of the information available, even an article written by his own peer. For one, he states:

"To feed a planet of 9 billion people, we are going to need high yields and not low yields; we are going to need genetically modified crops; we are going to need pesticides and fertilizers and other elements of the industrialized food processes that have led mankind to be better fed and live longer than at any time in history."

Where to start? Yes, we would need higher yields to feed a global population of 9 billion. That's why we need more organic farms than industrial. In a 2011 speech delivered by food activist and farmer HRH The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles states, "Yield increases for staple food crops are declining. They have dropped from 3% in the 1960s to 1% today." One percent, mind you, is less than the annual increase in population. What we're doing right now with industrial farms is not going to sustain us in the long run. For shame, Mr. Cohen, contradicting your own prince.

Then there's the oversight of stating that mankind is "better fed and [will] live longer". Twenty percent of the global adult population is obese. Fourteen percent is starving. Obesity is the fifth leading cause of death in the world and almost 5% of the entire world has diabetes. Bringing these numbers home, 64% of adults in the US are obese, but the incidence of diabetes in the UK is increasing at a faster rate than in the US. Your generation will live longer, Mr. Cohen. Mine will not.

Speaking of elitist, marginalizing a movement of people concerned with eating better as being "pseudoscientific" or indulgent seems myopic given the state of our waistlines. And if you think that wanting to limit the amount of pesticides pumped into your body is romantic then I feel sorry for your wife.

The fact is, if you had read the Times article written by Kenneth Chang-- or even Stanford's interview with Dena Bervata (the senior author of the meta-analysis) -- you'd know that there are various reasons people pick organic. Not merely for nutritional value, but for a reduction of chemical intake (which the study corroborates), better treatment of animals, as well as environmental factors. Given the choice between higher yields and environmental benefits or underproduction paired with the depletion of our environment, I can't see someone struggling with this question.

You do make one valid point, though your citation of Whole Foods as a go-to for organic foods is the equivalent of someone shopping for a cheap Mother's Day present at Cartier: organic food tends to be more expensive than its conventionally grown counterpart. But, as in my example of Cartier, there are cheaper places to shop: a farmer's market, a CSA, or your local food store. Buying fruits and vegetables in season is paramount in the search for a deal and any broke Organic knows that conventionally grown is okay as long as it's not part of the Dirty Dozen.

Behold the vanity of man, who holds an apple, grown by Nature, and says, "I can make this better."

Sources: World Health Organization

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Exercise Bitchslap

I've been bad.

My butt has been on the couch using a side project as an excuse to not go for my daily run. Too busy is not a very good excuse, but it's so easy to trick yourself, so I did. And I'm totally paying for it.

I decided I needed to reprimand myself for slacking. That meant waking up at 7AM and heading to Bikram (hot) yoga. I do yoga just about everyday just to stretch, but I haven't done hot yoga in almost two years. I totally paid for that too. About 30 minutes into the 90 minute class I thought I was going to be sick. I was overheated and I knew if I drank water it would "come back to haunt me". At one point I almost ran from the room, but my teacher told me to wait. I spent 20 minutes trying to not be sick. Then  my inner drill sergeant shouted: "Stop being such a lazy [expletive] and start working you cry-baby!" I finished out the remaining half hour-ish doing every move and actually started feeling better toward the end. Though savasana (the pose where you just lay down) was the worst part. Just sitting in the heat was awful.

I've never been so happy to walk out into 80 degree weather. All I could think was "Ah, cool air."

On a side note: as a not-morning person, I didn't feel as good after my workout as I would have if it was in the afternoon. I'm glad I did it though, since I do have housework to do.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

And Then It Hit Me...

Yesterday I was talking with a friend who has two young children about the state of nutrition in America. I told him that this generation is in danger of having a shorter life expectancy due to poor nutrition, childhood obesity, the increased rate of diabetes, and other health problems that arise as a result of poor eating and inactivity. "Well, I don't care what happens to other kids," he said, "but my kids are eating well, so they'll live good and long."

And then it hit me...

I've known him and his kids for years. I see them all the time. We have lunches and dinners together. I've never once seen those kids eat something green (besides cupcake frosting). I've never seen them eat any fruit. Not one vegetable. In fact the only thing I've ever seen the kids eat are hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, french fries, and mac and cheese. No, not homemade macaroni with cheese on it. That chemically enriched stuff that has neon yellow cheese. I've never seen them drink water. Only soda. When they go over someone else's house, they bring food for the kids because they only eat junk. Just junk.

How can he say his kids are eating well? There's nothing balanced about what they're eating. It's all just garbage. And the worst part is that he doesn't see that it's garbage. He sees it as good food. "At least he's eating" my friend said to me once, when his oldest was much younger.

Eating's good. Eating right is better.

The only reason I can pinpoint for why he thinks his children are in good health is because they're not putting on weight. They're really active kids and they don't eat very much, but what they do eat is bad for them. This behavior is definitely going to catch up with them and it's going to be at the child's expense.

So how do we break down the myth that skinny = healthy?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I've been reading Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis during my "stay-cation". This book details the events leading up to the global financial crisis through interviews of experts in Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Germany, and the USA. In other words, this book is as far away from nutrition as you can possibly get.


In the chapter on the US, Michael Lewis interviews Dr. Peter Whybrow, a British neuroscientists at UCLA. Whybrow claims that the reasons behind our collective financial problems are the same as the reasons for the obesity epidemic. Evolutionarily, he postulates, we were not prepared to be American.

"The human brain evolved over hundres of thousands of years in an environment defined by scarcity.  It was not designed, at least originally, for an environment  of extreme abundance... '...our passions are still driven by the lizard core. We are set up to acquire as much as we can of things we perceive as scarce, particularly sex, safety, and food.' " (Page 203-204)

This same idea was brought up in the posts about HBO's show "The Weight of the Nation" where they explain the survival aspects of overeating and eating badly. Eating fat means storing fat, means storing energy. Our survival depended on having fat available to us. Of course, we've taken things to the extreme with ice cream sundaes equalling more than one's recommended daily caloric intake.


That's our national driver. I know I'm guilty of the same wants. Here I am, typing on a perfectly functional computer, and all I can think about is the newest version.

New. New. New.
More. More. More.

I can spend my time scrounging and wishing and hoping or I can be content. Content with my apartment that honestly doesn't have space to fit anything else. Content with my wardrobe, which has recently had the hole-y vestments purged. Content that I can sit here and preach about nutrition while I munch on a bunch of M&Ms. Content that I'm not starving. I have clean water. I have a home. I have a job. I have family and friends. My body will not be sold to traffickers. I can choose who I want to marry. I will not be imprisoned for having a dissenting opinion.

That's what America was supposed to be: freedom. Not this slavery to excess.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Okay, I'll admit I've said I'm changing a lot on this blog and really haven't followed through.  I'm still pretty lazy and have a Diet Coke addiction that I can't kick for the life of me.  It's my crutch!*

Regardless, I have made some changes for the better.  For one, I have cut my food budget in half!  I make smarter decisions at the store, only buy what I know I'm going to want and not what I think I'll want, and the results are definitely welcome to my wallet.  I've also begun working around my morning terribleness.  Lunch made it to work with me!  And I didn't eat it all at 10AM only to starve for the rest of the day.

Instead of the sandwich and one snack that I had been bringing (or forgetting as was usually the case) I brought snacks that I knew I'd want to eat, that would give me the protein and carbs to power through my day, and enough of them so that I didn't feel like I was starving.  I replenished my snack drawer at work with oatmeal and granola bars so if I do get hungry, I'm not out of luck.  Interestingly,  having that much food around actually made me eat less!  It wasn't a question of survival, but of what I actually wanted.

I also stopped yelling at myself.  You would be surprised at how low my fat intake has been lately.  I've been totally depriving myself of yummy things because they have ::gasp:: fat!  That mentality only makes me want more and only makes me binge more on them when I do give in (which was more frequent than is probably acceptable).  If they're around me, I don't need them.  I took away the taboo and now I'm just happy with my choices.

Also an important lesson learned this week was multitasking.  For instance, I'm writing this post as dinner is cooking in the oven.  My job (and mentality) force me to focus so hard on one thing at a time that I honestly forget I can do two.  No wonder there was no time in the day for me.  If you have four tasks to complete in one hour that each take thirty minutes to finish, you won't succeed unless you find a way to do at least two tasks at a time.   Right now I'm writing and cooking.  When I finish eating and reading, I'll go for a run and plan out my next story or lesson.  If you bury your head in one thing, you miss everything going on around you, silly ostrich.

Enough of the preaching.  In upcoming news, next week I'll explore bagels!  I realized I live in New York and haven't talked about bagels at all.  And they're probably the best thing that ever happened to carbs after the chocolate chip cookie.

Spoiler alert: there will be a pizza bagel day.

*I have significantly cut down my intake of the soda.  Just not cut it out entirely yet.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tissue? I Don't Even Know You!

Since I moved into my apartment, I've been buying Puffs plus lotion cubes.  They're great tissues and the boxes are adorable.  The sale price is usually 98 cents and one box will last me a while (unless it's the winter). Today while wandering through Rite Aid, I saw Kleenex tissues (with lotion) on sale for 5/$5.  More than I'd spend on the Puffs, but then I looked at the contents.  70 3-ply tissues for $1.  I looked at the Puffs that I usually buy.  56 2-ply tissues for 98 cents.  The Kleenex offers 20% more tissues with a thicker ply for 2 cents more.  That means the Kleenex are about 1.4 cents a tissue and Puffs are 1.8 cents per tissue.

On an aesthetic note, the Puffs box is much cuter than the Kleenex, but it's just not worth the added expense.