Archive for November, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cake and Carrot friends,

I want to take this opportunity, as we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, to express my sincere gratitude and thanks for the support and encouragement you have given me since starting this blog. YOU are the reason I keep writing! Even when I’m not in the blogging mindframe, you inspire me to push past the writer’s block.

I am indebted to you for the kind words and advice you’ve given me as I’ve shared my emotional binge eating experiences, and celebrated with me as I’ve licked my sugar habit. Thank you.

So, friends, THANK YOU. I look forward to sharing my life and helping ALL of us lead happy, healthy lives brimming with gratitude.  And I promise to have an updated website soon…it’s in the works!

Again, have a happy, healthy, “Renegade” Thanksgiving, and make sure to ENJOY your holiday meal.

xoxo,

Amanda

November 25, 2009 at 2:55 pm Leave a comment

Have a Renegade Thanksgiving

As we near Thanksgiving in a few days, I am afraid that in the nutrition media-related world we are completely lost on the meaning of Thanksgiving.  This time of year produces a glut of articles on how NOT to over-eat, how to resist Aunt Flo’s sweet potato pie, and how to be “good” during your thanksgiving meal. Over and over again, and quite honestly, I’m sick of it.

 I’m here as your Nutrition Renegade (my husband is the Corporate Renegade) to say: “STOP THE INSANITY” and to NOT listen to that crap.

 In my opinion, if there ever was a time to go crazy and eat, eat, eat, it’s Thanksgiving. Seriously, how can anyone NOT enjoy sweet potato pie, or your mom’s green beans that you’ve been waiting all year to have. I think it’s doing you a disservice. We need to  (especially if you’re a chronic dieter or super-conscious eater) drop the airs and just EAT, and ENJOY, and feel satisfied.

 Am I telling you to stuff yourself just for the sake of it? No, of course not. Eat until you feel full. And then perhaps eat a little more. I’m here to tell you that Thanksgiving is a day of thanks. To give thanks for the wonderfulness in your life, and for the food that nourishes you.  Remember that when someone cooks something for you, they put their heart, soul, and an infusion of their love in that dish. So by eating, and truly ENJOYING (without worrying about calories or the guilt you may have for eating that second slice of pecan pie), you are saying THANK YOU.

I have spent so many Thanksgivings (and holidays) by putting myself on a diet basically the week before in an effort to curtail my eating during these food-laden weeks. I honestly was on a DETOX diet a few years ago and had steamed vegetables for my Thanksgiving meal. That promptly led to me binging at the dessert table. Not so smart, huh. I would OVEREAT in an act of rebellion against my diet. And the whole while, I wouldn’t let myself enjoy the foods that I was eating, and basically bitch-slapped myself for not being more restrained.

 So this Thanksgiving, through out the “shouldas, wouldas, mustas, and need to’s” enjoy every morsel of food that you put in your mouth. That’s all I ask.  Relish in being with your family, perhaps being back in your childhood home, and the food that is prepared as a gift to you. If you overeat, so what? It’s just one day, and you’ll get right back on track. 

 Remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving…it’s not about how many calories are in pecan pie. It’s about giving thanks and gratitude for all that you have in your life.

 This year will be the FIRST year that I truly give myself permission to eat anything, and everything I want at the table. Luckily, stretch pants are VERY in en vogue!

November 23, 2009 at 2:37 pm 2 comments

Calgon, Take Me Away…

I’m sure you’re all DYING to know the latest report from the publication Candy and Snack Today. What, you’re not a subscriber? It doesn’t arrive with your Oprah and Shape each month? Come on, people!

Of course I’m not a subscriber to this industry journal, but this story popped up in one of my daily nutrition news searches.  It seems that the next trend for candy and confections in 2010 is….Relaxation Snacks. Yeah, I kinda scratched my head with that. I have no idea what a “Relaxation Snack” is, however, I have been known to use food to place me in a nice stupor (aka food coma).

According to the report (which you can find here, if you’re so inclined),

“One trend he expects is more brands shifting toward relaxation foods from comfort foods. Look for items such as anti-energy bars, snacks and a resurgence of dark chocolate rich in anti-oxidants designed to actually relax or put you to sleep.

Seriously? I need a chocolate bar to put me to sleep? ANTI-energy? Apparently, this desire for “relaxation” through food has been prompted by more meals being cooked  and eaten at home. Um, that doesn’t make much sense to me. Am I missing something?

“The food industry, he suggests, has woken up and learned that products, including confectionery, that use real foods as ingredients, are increasingly popular, particularly among Baby Boomers.”

Seriously? Why are people SO obsessed with quick fixes and getting nutrients through CANDY? I’m sure the public is just salivating at the thought of getting their vitamin C or lunesta from a dark chocolate truffle. Sure, dark chocolate is good for you (filled with tons of antioxidants), in small portions. But eat it because you like it, and NOT because you want to fall asleep!

Seriously, what will we think of next? Personally, when I want a good night’s sleep, a warm cup of herbal tea and a bath seem to do it for me!

 

November 18, 2009 at 1:22 pm Leave a comment

On the Flip Side-Food Insecurity

End of Hunger in USAs a student of health and nutrition and a reader of all related media, I am constantly bombarded with the topic of Obesity (As I’m sure you are, too!). Americans are fat! Obesity is the cause of skyrocketing healthcare costs! We eat too much. Soda is the devil. Exercise more. And on and on and on.

And yes, while the above may be true, and while Obesity is a very serious epidemic we are facing, there is also a different side of the story. It shocked me, quite honestly, as I’ve been wrapped up in news of “excess” lately.

A report came out today that shows that nearly 15% of household’s don’t get enough to eat (aka “Food Insecure”). That equals about 1 in 7 Americans who find themselves under-fed on a regular basis, and more than 1/3 go hungry from time to time. These levels are the higest reported since 1995.

More specifically, 14.6% of US Households (about 49.1 million people….million!) had difficulty providing adequate food for their families due to “lack of resources.” According to experts, these families utililized food pantries, antihunger programs, and varied diets.  About 5.6%, or 17.4 million people, had “very low food security,” meaning certain members of the household had less to eat than other members. According to the report, typically these households experience a food shortage for a few days for about seven or eight months.

These findings represent 2008, when the economy was in a major crisis and the rate of jobless increased past 10%. Indeed, it was a tough time for MANY people (and still continues to be). The survey, publushed by the Agriculture Department (USDA) and conducted annually in December, also found that these numbers were higher than in 2007.

Just take that in for a moment. Breathe. That amidst all the hubbub surrounding the war agsinst Obesity there are MILLIONS of people going hungry each day. So what to do? Just be aware. Perhaps this holiday season will give us the opportunity to donate to those less fortunate, or volunteer for a helping organization.

November 16, 2009 at 7:26 pm Leave a comment

My Heart Belongs to Brussels

bruseelsHere’s a recipe to kick off your weekend..I know I am going to ask Matt to make them for me (he’s the brussel sprout king!) I found this recipe at my fave food porn site Tastespotting. I find it a bit odd that amongst all the INCREDIBLY beautiful baked goods (most of them involving pumpkin, be still my heart!) I am most attracted to the brussel sprouts. I guess that’s what kicking sugar does to you.

If brussel sprouts turned you off as a kid, do me a favor and try them again. Roasted in the oven. Yum, Yum! Brussels have ridiculously high amounts of vitamin K and vitamin C, and lots of folate, fiber, potassium, etc. You get the point. Eat ’em! They’re at your farmer’s market now, so give it a try.

The original recipe can be found here at Once Upon a Chef.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Serves 6

Ingredients

1½ pounds brussels sprouts, halved (stem and ragged outer leaves removed)*
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Transfer the brussels sprouts to baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning, until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

3. Place brussels sprouts back in bowl. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey and toss to coat evenly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, then serve.

*If you have some brussels sprouts that are very large, cut them into quarters. They should all be cut about the same size to ensure even cooking.

November 13, 2009 at 9:10 pm 1 comment

It’s Official: French Women DO Get Fat!

frenchWomenFrance vs. America.

There’s always been a little bit of a competition going on between the two countries, right? We Americans think we’re better than our French counterparts, even going so far as to rename our beloved fried potatoes “Freedom Fries.” (Seriously, did anyone really use that term?). The French (stereotypically) view Americans as slovenly fat people who work too much and have bad taste in wine. And then, to really rub our noses into it, the book “French People Don’t Get Fat” was a best-seller, detailing how French women are oh-so-chic, eating small portions (slowly) of chocolate croissants, never snacking between meals, and never gaining a pound.

Well, France, sorry to say, you’ve fallen a rung on your Eiffel Tower.  A 2009 study published yesterday concluded that 15.1% of French women are clinically obese, and 26% more are overweight. Hmmm, very surprising indeed!

The Swedish researchers leading the study also published similar results found in French men, with 13.9% classified as obese and 38.5% as overweight.

So what can be attributed to  this weight gain over the last twelve years? According to French experts, the new type of sedentary lifestyle is to blame, including desk-type jobs, more public transportation (and less walking), and a greater availability of food. So, it seems that France and America are more similar than we thought.

 However, the French get a leg up on us by claiming that their obesity levels mirror that of the United States in the 70s, so they’re about 40 years behind us. (FYI, the latest study shows Americans as 31.1% of men obese vs 33.2% of women.) OK, France, you can have that. But you’re still getting fatter.

All joking aside, this is a BIG problem. And it’s not only France and America…China, Japan, Greece, and other European countries, once known as the epitomes of slenderness, are all experiencing weight gain. The Westernization of these countries is leading to obesity, leading to major health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Truly scary!

November 11, 2009 at 4:32 pm 1 comment

All the Recipes Fit to Print

articleLargeChances are, if you’re a healthy eater, you cook. Whether or not you LIKE to cook is a different story, but successful healthy eaters know that preparing their own food is not only super nutritious (after all, you control exactly what goes into your food preparation), but also extremely nourishing.

I love to cook. I’m not great, by any means, but I can follow a recipe easily enough. And I LOVE to find new receipes. I own TONS of cookbooks. However, I only actually make about 5% of the recipes I find. For me, it’s more about the hunt of finding the perfect butternut squash soup, the most delictable preparation of kale. Whether or not I actually prepare the dish is inconsequential to me…as long as I know the recipe is out there and exists (for when I actually might want to make it) I am happy. I guess you could call it “recipe porn.”  (And if “food porn” is totally your think you absolutely must, must check out Tastespotting.com. Swoon!)

So, imagine my delight when I was trolling the New York Times Fitness & BNutrition section and came across a cornucopia of recipes from the Times. Man, these recipes are AWESOME, plus they’re super healthy, and divided by category, like pantry items, canned tuna, artichokes, and walnuts. Cha-ching, and schwing!

Here’s a recipe for simply preparing collard greens, my favorite leafy green of the moment. (And by the way, the book Greens, Glorious Greens is a MUST for any healthy cook)

Braised Collard Greens by Martha Rose Shulman of the New York Times

The Southern way with collard greens is to cook them for at least an hour, usually more, with a ham hock or bacon for seasoning. This is very nice, but the pork contributes a lot of sodium and some fat to the dish. I find that onion and lots of garlic, along with a little crushed red pepper, are seasoning enough, as collards have a lot of flavor to begin with. An hour of cooking may seem excessive, but you’ll see how their flavor changes from bitter to almost sweet over the long simmer. The greens are nice with a squeeze of lemon.

1 large bunch collard greens, about 1 1/2 pounds, stemmed and washed in 2 changes of water

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, sliced very thin across the grain

2 to 4 garlic cloves, green shoots removed, sliced thin

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Freshly squeezed lemon juice for serving

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the collard greens. Blanch for four minutes and transfer to the ice water with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Drain, squeeze out extra water and coarsely chop or cut in thin ribbons. Set aside the cooking water.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a wide, lidded skillet or Dutch oven, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add a generous pinch of salt and the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and continue to cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender, about five minutes. Add the collard greens, and stir together for a few minutes, then add 1 cup of the cooking water and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, cover partially, and simmer over low heat for one hour, stirring often and adding more cooking water from time to time, so that the greens are always simmering in a small amount of liquid. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot or warm, with a little fresh lemon juice if desired.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: You can make this dish up to a day ahead and reheat in a little water or broth.

November 10, 2009 at 2:14 pm 1 comment

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