October 14, 2010

nyc health department anti-soda campaign

The New York City Health Department recently started a campaign to educate the public about the health impacts of drinking sweetened drinks.

Through the campaign they ask, "Are you pouring on the pounds?"

To me this is a powerful and necessary campaign. What do you think?

September 23, 2010

is BMI bs?

Well to that I would answer yes...and no.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure used as a screening tool to indicate a healthy range for weight vs height for an average adult.  It is controversial because adults who we might generally think of as normal size will often register as "overweight" because the calculator does not take into account frame size, muscle mass, and changes in body composition with age.  BMI was not developed with the intention of being used as widely as it has in the health field (see this interesting article, thanks to a fellow blogger), and there are more accurate indicators of healthy weight status.  In short, it is not perfect and certainly should not be the only factor used to determine health status.

With that said, let's ask ourselves: why does this matter?  

One reason is somewhat obvious: being categorized as overweight or obese by a generic "one size fits all" tool feels...well, bad.  Especially when BMI puts what is now the average American into these categories (and let's just be honest - the average American isn't in this category because of high muscle mass).

Yet, researchers who use this tool are not using this to measure your "hotness".  They are trying to understand risk factors for diseases related to being overweight, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, certain cancers, and more.  What studies do show is that higher BMI's, despite the many variables, are linked with health risks.  

Are you looking at BMI as a measure of how thin you are, or as a measure of your health? You know your body, you know how you feel and you know if you are living the lifestyle that keeps your body at its best.  Someone "20 lbs overweight" by whichever medical standard who exercises regularly; eats ample fruits,vegetables and whole grains; drinks plenty of water; and gets enough rest is arguably in much better health than a "thinner" person who does not do these things.  

Your "BMI status" might not be accurate...but in many ways that really does not matter.  What does matter is your health, your energy level, your perception of yourself, and your happiness.  So I would ask: how do you feel about these things? 

September 16, 2010

grilling season coming to an end...

As grilling season comes to an end, it seems timely to share the most exciting thing I've learned about grilling this summer.  Our friends Chris and Paola know a gentleman from Argentina who taught them how to cook an egg in the most amazing way I've heard of!  For someone (like me) who is a big fan of eggs - and grilling - this is a perfect combination. 

Bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, or green will do) one per person
Eggs one per person

Preheat your grill by turning on burners (or getting charcoal hot) and covering with the lid. 

Meanwhile, cut away the top of the pepper(s) by creating a large circle around the stem.  Remove the stem and any remaining seeds from the pepper(s). 

Crack one egg directly inside each pepper, just as you would put an egg in a pan for sunny side up.  Sprinkle the raw egg with salt and pepper to your liking (and any other seasonings that inspire you). 

Place the pepper(s) directly on the grill, covering with the lid.  Depending on the temperature of your grill (ours is usually about 400 F), cook for 20 minutes or more.  Check the egg regularly, removing the pepper from the grill when desired egg doneness is reached. 

Serve as a side or the main entree!  I would like to have these with Eating Well's Corn & Basil Cakes sometime soon.

September 3, 2010

Barbie Dolls, 2008

I love this piece by Chris Jordan.  
Here he uses 32,000 barbies to depict, "the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006."  
Please visit his site to see more of his work, which I had the pleasure of seeing on display in Seattle.  Mr. Jordan uses a variety of goods to visually represent consumerism in the United States.  Powerful & compelling!

August 30, 2010

poblanos stuffed with cheddar and chicken

Good Lord, these are good. I recommend making them on a weekend for your first go-'round, because the first attempt can be a bit labor intensive (can take about an hour and a half). We got started a little to late the first time we tried them, and ended up having one of those meals where you're so tired by the time you eat that you almost forget you were hungry.  Completely worth it, and I have told myself that the next time I make them I will remember to cook the rice first, which should save me some time! Eeeeh...

We served them with Eating Well's Corn & Basil Cakes (a savory pancake). These are great too!

poblanos stuffed with cheddar and chicken

4 large poblano chiles
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano (I used fresh, but remember dried has a stronger flavor per volume)
1 tsp. ground cumin
Generous pinch ground cinnamon
Kosher salt
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used chicken breast, the recipe calls for dark meat)
1-1/2 cups cooked brown or white rice
2 cups grated sharp or extra-sharp white Cheddar (about 7 oz.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (including some tender stems)
1 Tbs. lime juice

Cook rice

Position an oven rack about 4 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Slit the chiles from stem to tip (not all the way through to both sides, only opening one side to stuff) and set on the baking sheet. Broil, turning every few minutes, until blackened all over, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, peel off the skins, and cut out the seed cores, leaving the stems on. Turn the chiles inside out, flick out any remaining seeds, and turn right side out. Return the poblanos to the baking sheet.

Purée the tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a food processor. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the purée and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated and the mixture looks thick and pulpy, 8 to 11 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the chicken and rice, and then 1 cup of the cheese, the cilantro, and the lime juice. Season to taste with salt.

Divide the filling among the peppers, wrapping the sides of the peppers up and around the filling, some of which will still be exposed. The peppers will probably tear, but who cares...you're not cooking for the president.  If you are cooking for the president, take extra care.

Broil the peppers until the cheese is melting and the top is beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Top with the remaining 1 cup cheese and broil until the cheese is completely melted, about 2 minutes.


August 27, 2010

do you know about hunger in america?

49 million Americans struggle with food insecurity. Watch this video to get informed on who they are and why they struggle to feed their families.

August 26, 2010


I like this very much, and it seems in keeping with the theme of my recent posts. I don't know if it has a "real" meaning, and I don't think I want to. It's beautiful just as it is, when I can imagine a meaning for myself and you one for yourself.

August 25, 2010

average american women & men

drawing by arica houy

Did you know that the average American woman is 5'4" and 165 lbs and man is 5'9" and 195 lbs? (cdc.gov)

To compare, average 5'4" female celebrities weigh between 100-110 lbs. While many celebrities would be considered "underweight" by doctors and nutrition professionals, the size of the average American woman can be considered "overweight". Is our obsession with weight distorting our view of healthy and pushing us all to extremes?

August 23, 2010

healthy or obsession?

This morning I heard this great story on NPR's Weekday called Body Obsessions, which asked the question: When is body-consciousness healthy, and when does it become an obsession?

This has me worrying about how altered perceptions are of what a healthy, normal person looks like.

I was recently reading in a trashy mag about how Gwyneth Paltrow has early signs of osteoporosis, and what a shock this was to everyone. I can't be the only person who has ever noticed that she weighs practically nothing (110 lbs at 5'9" one website says). And, she is known for sharing weight loss tips - in the issue following her osteopenia announcement was a spotlight on the master cleanse she does to drop pounds. A woman so thin, with a history of extreme dieting...is it any wonder that she would have a medical condition related to lack of calcium and vitamin D?

The normalcy that has been created around extreme thinness and the culture of dieting is disturbing. It is a complex issue, and also heartbreaking. I would like very much for us to break this cycle for future generations. Can we please start appreciating the many shapes and sizes we come in? And stop publishing the "lose weight quick" trick of the month instead of focusing on what being healthy really means? Maybe once we learn to honor and listen to our bodies we can be lead naturally to our healthiest selves.

August 20, 2010

fresh green bean, potato and steak salad

My sweetie grilled this salad up for me on a lovely summer evening.
The potatoes are tender, the beans crunchy, and the whole dish is bright and hearty.
What a nice meal (and man!) to come home to...

fresh green bean, potato and steak salad with horseradish dressing


  • 1 pound baby potatoes, scrubbed (you can prepare these ahead of time and refrigerate up to 3 days)
  • 12 ounces green beans (about 3 cups), trimmed
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh chives or scallion greens
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar or red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sirloin steak or strip steak (1-1 1/4 inches thick), trimmed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ears corn, husked

  • 1. Preheat grill to medium.
  • 2. Steam potatoes in a saucepan fitted with a steamer basket, cover and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board to cool. Add beans to the steamer basket, cover and cook until bright green and just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Rinse in a colander with cold water until cool. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a large bowl. Cut the potatoes into halves or quarters and add to the bowl with the beans. Stir in chives (or scallion greens).
  • 3. Meanwhile, combine sour cream, vinegar, horseradish, Worcestershire and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in oil.
  • 4. Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Grill the steak about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, 6 minutes per side for medium. Grill the corn, turning occasionally, until marked and tender, 8 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board; let the steak rest for 5 minutes. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob. Thinly slice the steak crosswise. Add the steak and any accumulated juice and the corn kernels to the bowl with the potatoes and beans; toss with the horseradish dressing (dress lightly to start, adding more to taste - I find that this salad can be easily overdressed).

August 13, 2010

Feeling human is essentially the state of being in which one is actively in touch with and moving closer to one's destiny, one's higher purpose in life, joy.

-david scherer, flat win company

August 4, 2010

an inquiry

I saw this question today and it got me thinking pretty hard about what is really important -

What is the greatest thing that could happen to you (not to the world or anyone else, just you) in your lifetime?

July 29, 2010

mache & chicken salad w/ honey tahini dressing

I'm interested in these heartier salads lately, because I get bored of just greens. This one has such a bright flavor, and really fills you up. Plus, it has Mache!

What the heck is mache, you ask? It is a green leafy vegetable similar to spinach, only it has a slightly thicker stalk and a bit of a tart flavor. It also goes by "lamb's lettuce". In this recipe I think it stands up nicely to the bold flavor of the dressing. Delic'!

mache & chicken salad with honey tahini dressing
eating well magazine, april/may

1/2 c lemon juice
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c tahini (a thick paste of ground sesame seeds, found in supermarkets near the Middle East section or the nut butters)
2 Tbs honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 lb new or baby red potatoes (I used baby butter potatoes)
1 lb chicken tenders
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small clove of garlic
4 c mache, or baby spinache
1 c shelled English peas (about 1 1/2 lbs unshelled or thawed frozen peas
1 Tbs finely chopped shallot

prepare dressing
Combine lemon juice, oil, tahini, honey, and garlic in a bowl, whisking until smooth. Season with S&P.

prepare salad

Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Put potatoes in the steamer basket and steam until barely tender when pierced with a fork (15-20 min). When cool enough to handle, slice or quarter.

Meanwhile, toss chicken with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. we grilled our chicken, but the recipe calls for cooking over a skillet : Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board to cool, then chop into bite size pieces if desired.

Season a wooden salad bowl by rubbing with 1/2 clove garlic and a pinch of salt. Chop the garlic and add to the bowl along with the potatoes and mache (or spinach). Pour 1/2 c of dressing over potatoes and greens, gently toss to coat. Add peas, shallot, and shredded chicken; gently toss and serve.

July 4, 2010

foods to buy organic

Many of us can't afford to buy all organic produce, yet the pesticides lurking in our food can be scary. To keep us informed, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) samples the 49 most common fruits and vegetables for pesticides, ranking them from worst to best based on pesticide contamination. Nearly all of the samples are taken after the produce has been rinsed or peeled (as you would eat it).

The most recent study, released this spring (foodnews.org), provided some startling results. When you eat "the dirty dozen" you will be exposed to about 10 pesticides per day. Choose fresh produce from the "clean 15" and you will be exposed to less than 2 pesticides per day.

"dirty dozen" (buy organic to avoid pesticides)
blueberries (domestic)
sweet bell peppers
kale/collard greens
grapes (imported)

"clean 15" (not necessary to buy organic)
sweet corn (frozen)
mango (subtropical and tropical)
sweet peas (frozen)
kiwi fruit (subtropical and tropical)
cantaloupe (domestic)
sweet potatoes
honeydew melon

on the "dirty dozen" last year, but were "bumped"
blueberries (imported)

June 28, 2010

the skinny on fats pt 2

Certain fats are necessary for vital activities such as brain function, cell structure, joint integrity, reproductive health and the list goes on. Most people are most interested to know that fats are a key to healthy skin and hair. So, what I am telling you is that if you want your skin to get dull and flaky and your hair to fall out, you should go on a diet that seriously restricts fats.

For the sake of simplicity, this is what you should know:

Fish, Olive Oil, Peanut Oil, Canola Oil, Fish Oils, Flaxseeds, Avocado, and Nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, etc)
These are: Monounsaturated Fats (MFA's, best) known as Omega-3's (fish & nuts) and Omega-6's (nuts)
What they do: improve brain function and reduce blood pressure by increasing HDL (good cholesterol) and lowering LDL (bad cholesterol)

Vegetable oils such as corn oil, safflower oil, and sesame oil
These are: Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFA's), which are a bit different structurally that MFS's
What they do: decrease HDL (good cholesterol) and decrease LDL (bad cholesterol)
Most Americans get more than enough PUFA's, and an overabundance can be dangerous. We should be aware that overheating these oils can actually cause them to have unhealthy properties.

If we must (...and I must)
Animal fats, such as those in meats and dairy, and some tropical plant oils such as coconut, cocoa, and palm oil
These are: Saturated Fats, which are solid at room temperature
What they do: Increase HDL "bad" cholesterol and LDL "good" cholesterol
Try to: Choose lean meats, such as lean cuts of beef or chicken, and low-fat dairy products. Eat full fat as a treat!

Hydrogenated Oils, Partially Hydrogenated Oils, Vegetable Oils solid at room temperature - found in many peanut butters, butter spreads, and processed foods
These are: Trans Fats
What they do: This is a man-made product that decreases HDL "good" cholesterol and increases LDL "bad" cholesterol.
Try to: Read labels! If it says "Hydrogenated Oil" or "Partially Hydrogenated Oil" it has Trans Fats (even if it advertises Zero trans fat on the label). Limit these items as much as possible.

the skinny on fats

Fat is an incredibly important part of a balanced eating plan, yet it gets a totally bad rep.

About 1/3 of your total calories should come from fat calories. But don't dip a spoon into your butter container quite yet- this does not mean that 1/3 of what you eat should be fat! Fats are incredibly energy-rich, providing more calories per serving amount than carbohydrates or proteins. So, a relatively small amount can meet your needs.
Fats help us to feel full longer after a meal. The body's ability to easily store fats was very important for the survival of our ancestors, which may be a reason why we are so drawn to eat them. Thank you fat cells, for being so opportunistic and stowing away in new, mysterious places at any chance.
The type of fats you eat is what's important. Next post: choose the right fats!

June 23, 2010

make this today counting

I spotted this on a building in the International District recently. A mistranslation of the message, "Make this today count!" which brought me so much joy. It made me rethink this common expression and see it in a new way.

What does it mean to you?

June 18, 2010

street style?

Imagine! Me, on Seattle Street Style blog It's My Darlin? Very fun & fancy.

I am a new blogger, inspired to post recipes, nutrition tips, and sweet or funny things I see around Seattle. When it comes to achieving a healthy body people always ask me - "What should I eat?"

Well, you should eat food that you like, preferably focusing on fresh produce, whole grains, lean proteins, and "good" fats (more on that another day). I share recipes for foods like these here, focusing mostly on fruit-and-vegetable focused dishes. Please stop dieting. Eat wholesome food, be active, get healthy!

Visit my website to learn more about achieving a healthy body through a unique combination of life coaching & nutrition.

June 17, 2010

melon panzanella

This salad is too good to be true. Only it is true. It's hearty enough for a meal, but I also like to bring it as a side to parties so I can impress all of my friends.

Melon Panzanella

from eatingwell.com

4 ounces whole-grain bread, torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 ounce thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into thin strips (about 1/3 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

4 cups torn arugula leaves

2 cups cubed firm ripe melon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat oven to 250 F

2. Spread bread pieces on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds more. Remove from the heat and stir in vinegar, salt and pepper. Sometimes I add extra vinegar and/or olive oil for extra dressing.

4. Place arugula, melon, basil and the toasted bread in a large bowl. Add the prosciutto mixture and toss to combine. Let the salad stand for about 20 minutes before serving so the bread can absorb some of the dressing.

Per serving: 130 calories; 8 g fat (1 g sat, 5 g mono); 3 g fiber;

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (16% daily value).

June 12, 2010

can't fit a workout in?

Yesterday I was sitting in traffic in my beautiful city of Seattle, waiting for my exit. I can't help but spy on people in my rear view mirror. You just never know what you are going to see - stressed out folks muttering to themselves while white knuckling the steering wheel, the music lover belting out a song, a nose picker. But this sighting was too good to be true. I had to look twice, three times to be sure my eyes didn't lie.

This man was doing bicep curls while driving. If I were to guess, I'd say they were 10's or 12's. He mostly did his right arm (which did concern me as well- unbalanced!). But most importantly, he was lifting weights while driving! Not that it matters, but this was not a young, beefy guy in a sports car like you might imagine. No sir.

He was driving a car that looked like this

He looked like the Uptight Seattleite, if you can imagine that the Uptight Seattleite smokes a pack a day and has less than ideal hygiene habits.
Now, don't get me wrong, I believe in being physically active and encourage my clients to try light weight lifting. Weight training builds muscle, which can help prevent injuries, shapes your body, and allows you to burn more calories throughout the day.

But please, do not do this while driving!

the joy of beets

Last week I made this salad for dinner, and I was asking myself - why don't I make beets more often? ? So easy, so nutritious, and absolutely delicious. I used to think they tasted like dirt - the result of trying them as a kid in a recipe that didn't quite suit my tastes. Now I love their rich, earthy flavor.

Plus, beets are packed with lycopene and anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants. According to the ADA, "Red" fruits and vegetables such as beets help maintain a healthy heart, vision, and strong immune system and may reduce cancer risks. Beware while cooking beets though, because they can stain your clothes!

beet salad with oregano, pecans, and goat cheese
fine cooking magazine

serves 3 to 4
4 or 5 medium beets (red, golden, or a combination)
1 1/2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano
2 Tbs chopped, lightly toasted pecans

If the beets have leaves and stems, trim off the leaves and all but 1/4 inch of the stems. Wash the beets. In a pot with a steamer basket, steam beets until a knife enters them easily (25-40 minutes, depending on size). Set aside until cool enough to handle, but still warm.

Peel the beets; the skin will rub right off. Trim and discard the tops and tails and cut the beets into thick wedges. Transfer the beets to a large serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle the goat cheese, oregano, and pecans over the beets and serve. Serve at about room temperature.

June 9, 2010

rosemary lemonade

Lately I've gotten in the habit of making homemade lemon- and lime-ades. Sometimes I juice them myself, and other times I buy the lemon or lime juice. I mix them with simple syrup, water, and sometimes a little something extra.

homemade rosemary lemonade

1 c lemon juice (or lime)
4 c cold water
1 c simple syrup (to make: heat 1/3 c sugar and 2/3 c water, stirring until dissolved. let cool)
fresh rosemary (2 sprigs, 4-6 inch each)
2-4 slices lemon, for garnish

Mix lemon juice, water, and simple syrup. Add sprigs of rosemary, let rest for 30 minutes. Serve immediately after, garnishing with slices of lemons.

enjoy the sunshine!

June 6, 2010

spice it up

Getting in a flavor rut can really bum a girl out.

I'm actually not that creative when it comes to reaching into my cabinet, mixing spices, and coming up with amazing combinations of flavors. I was introduced to Penzey's Spices of Pittsburgh, PA a couple of years ago, and life hasn't been the same since. Seriously, these spice blends can bring life to any dish.

I love:
Sandwich Sprinkle
Northwest Fire
Chinese Five Spice

Check out their website and try some yourself! www.penzeys.com
(no, this is not an ad...I really love their stuff that much)

June 4, 2010

spinach salad with strawberries & goat cheese

Makes: 4 servings, about 1 1/2 c. each
I also like to split the whole amount, top with chicken or salmon, and make it a meal for two.

1 Tbs pure maple syrup (or brown sugar)
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp packed, chopped fresh basil (about 2-4 leaves)

Whisk above ingredients together in small bowl or measuring cup with spout for dressing.

3 cups baby spinach
2 1/2 c sliced fresh strawberries (12 oz-ish)
1/3 c fresh chives, chopped
1/2 c toasted pecans, chopped (if you don't know how to toast nuts, I can help! let me know...)
1/4 c crumbled goat cheese

Add spinach, strawberries, and chives to a salad bowl. Toss with dressing. Divide among plates and top with pecans and goat cheese. Sometimes I put a bit of the goat cheese in before tossing the salad with the dressing, because it makes the dressing a bit creamy. Yum! Goat cheese...

Nutrition: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Folate, Magnesium

Did you know...I planted chives in my herb garden outdoors 3 years ago, and it is still alive? That is a testament to its resilience, considering I really don't care for it from about September - February. It starts going crazy around April, and by the time strawberries are ripe for this recipe, I've got more than I could possibly use. I heart Seattle.