Thursday, March 22, 2012

Helpful Resources

The EWG Shopper’s Guide: This page provides information on the Clean 15 (the 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables) and the Dirty Dozen (the 12 most contaminated). For example, it’s wise to always buy organic apples, celery, and strawberries; buying organic onions, sweet corn, and pineapples may not be ‘worth it’ because they top the Clean 15 list.


The EWG National Drinking Water Database: This page includes an “interactive ranking system to evaluate 100 water utilities that serve cities of more than 250,000 people.” Charlotte ranks #77 out of 100 in tap water quality – boo!


Skin Deep: The general Skin Deep site has a database of more than 69,000 beauty and hygiene products, including makeup, hair products, eye care products, nail polish, fragrances, and baby-specific products. Did you know that public health laws allow almost any chemical as an ingredient in personal care products (the no-no list is very short)? There is also NO required safety testing for new beauty products. Check out myths on cosmetics safety to learn more. “Every product added to Skin Deep is carefully reviewed by EWG staff to identify product type, product use and composition, target demographic, and special product claims.”


Skin Deep Sunscreens: This is my favorite EWG resource. Skin Deep’s sunscreen section provides a massive database of 1,700 sunscreens. I wrote a post summarizing which sunscreens the EWG recommends; you can also check out their Executive Summary for more information.


Cell Phone Radiation: The government does not require cell phone manufacturers to provide any disclosure information about cell phone radiation output. EWG ranks the top 10 best and worst phones and provides a database where you can look up your specific phone. You can also read the EWG’s full report on cell phone radiation here.


Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health: A very interesting and informative page on buying ‘greener’ meat and dairy products. You can read about the environmental impact of traditional farming methods and read the ‘At a Glance’ brochure. Did you know that different meats have a different impact on the environment? Lamb, beef, and cheese produce the most greenhouse gases. And if you eat one less burger per week, it’s like taking your car off the road for 320 miles? Neat!


Health Tips: And last, but certainly not least, check out the EWG’s Health Tips page. There’s loads of general information, including Preventing Cancer, Guide to Kids’ Personal Care Products, Guide to Feeding Baby, Healthy Pet Tips, and more.


Friday, March 2, 2012

PINK for weight loss?

P.I.N.K. Method: Review

WebMD Expert Review

If you want to change your life and improve your body, P.I.N.K. Method founder Cynthia Pasquella says she has the answers.

The hip, girly P.I.N.K. Method is a low-calorie diet plan with a rigorous exercise component promising a full-body makeover. "It can help you lose weight, improve your health, look your best, and change the way you think about yourself," Pasquella says.

P.I.N.K. stands for power, intensity, nutrition, and "kardio." It was designed for women and has been seen on Dr. Phil and The Doctors TV shows.

"The P.I.N.K. Method has some great advice addressing the whole person, recommendations to choose nutrient-rich foods and be physically active," says Heather Mangieri, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly called the American Dietetic Association).

But Mangieri also thinks the claims are over-promised. "Even in the best circumstances, many of the claims are overstated and not based on research," says Mangieri, who counsels overweight women in her Pittsburgh practice. "Foods are not fat burners and not everyone is going to rejuvenate skin, hair, and nails, and heighten their energy and libido on this plan."

P.I.N.K. Method Diet: What’s on the Menu

Foods allowed emphasize light proteins and unprocessed, whole plant foods. Vegetables, fruits, and carbs recommended are rich in fiber and take longer to digest. The plan recommends organic foods.

Refined sugars, alcohol, and processed foods are not on the menu. Caffeine is permitted in small doses. Alcohol in small portions (one to two servings per week) is allowed after the first nine weeks. Stevia is the only artificial sweetener allowed on the plan.

The P.I.N.K. Method diet is divided into four phases:

  • Reset: This phase lasts for three to 14 days. It's geared toward fast weight loss of up to a pound a day prior to starting the workouts. It's also used for four days between each of the plan's workouts. Sample menu items include a breakfast drink made with whey protein; vegetables for snacks; and protein, whole grains, and non-starchy vegetables for lunch or dinner. Apart from the morning drink, carbs are limited to vegetables throughout the day. It’s a good thing this phase is short, because sticking to the limited amount of food could be tough. "Reset has about 1,025 calories, which is too low. I never recommend going below 1,200 calories because it is impossible to get the nutrition you need," Mangieri says.
  • P.I.N.K. Primary: After losing five to 10 pounds, you move on to the P.I.N.K. Primary phase and start the plan's first workout DVD. Meal plans during this phase include protein, vegetables, and fruit. Mangieri estimates this phase contains about 1,600 calories per day. That should be enough to support the exercise component. "This phase has enough calories but is low in vitamin D and calcium," which are two nutrients that many women don't get enough of, Mangieri says. She suggests adding a few servings of nonfat diary or a multivitamin/mineral.
  • 7 Day Shred: When you are within five pounds of your goal weight, the plan calls for you to shift to the 7-Day Shred phase. This phase cuts down on carbs and fats, replacing them with a vegetable soup to help you peel off those last few pounds. Drink lots of water and take a multivitamin/mineral. Workouts are restricted to easy 15-minute activities. Mangieri recommends skipping this phase (and the Reset phase), because they are inadequate in calories and nutrients -- instead, go directly to P.I.N.K.'s Primary and Preservation phases.
  • PINK Preservation: This is the plan's maintenance phase, which you start when you reach your goal weight. It contains about 1,400-1,800 calories per day and is the plan's most flexible phase. "Preservation is the forever nutrition and fitness plan that keeps those lost pounds and inches from returning," Pasquella says.

P.I.N.K. Method Exercise Plan

The P.I.N.K. Method comes with three fitness DVDs. Follow them in order, using each one for three weeks.

Each DVD contains three workouts focused on sculpting, cardio, and flexibility for one to two hours. Bonus workouts are also included.

Physical activity is important for everyone, but "these tough workouts may be hard for older women or beginners," Mangieri says.

P.I.N.K. Method Diet: Food for Thought

Eating a wide variety of healthy foods and getting plenty of exercise is a well-known prescription for weight loss.

The P.I.N.K. Method is easy to follow and enhanced by online support and a nutrition guide. But it may be challenging because it is an inflexible, restrictive diet approach limited in calories.

If this program works for you, follow the wellness advice and P.I.N.K. primary recommendations to eat a cleaner diet with lots of healthy foods. Add a once-daily multivitamin/mineral to fill in the nutritional gaps, and get regular physical activity.

When dietary recommendations are not sustainable in the long term, keep looking for a diet plan that promotes healthy changes you can live with forever. Unless you change your eating and lifestyle habits permanently, the weight is likely to return. Better yet, consult a registered dietitian for a customized food plan just for you.

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


In case you were wondering what jicama looks like....

If you're wondering how the heck to pick out a good jicama, and how to store it, check out this link.

The great thing about jicama is that it's pretty low in carbohydrates, and it's loaded with fiber. After doing some research on jicama, I learned that the majority of its fiber is soluble (yeah!), but sadly for me, the specific type of soluble fiber is inulin (otherwise known as a short-chain of fructose linked together...also called fructans). Inulin is also considered a prebiotic, which means it can serve as food for good bacteria in the gut. The reason it's bad news for me is because I malabsorb things like inulin. Fructans (like inulin) are an oligosaccharide, and they are supposed to be avoided or limited on the low FODMAPs diet (the "O" stands for oligosaccharides). So, when I eat my jicama I try to stick to a small serving.

Jicama "Fries"
(Makes enough for about 5 servings)


1 large jicama

Canola oil spray

1/4 cup roasted red pepper hummus (Hannah's Skinny hummus is amazing!)


Peel the jicama, and slice it into fry-sized sticks.
Cook in a saute pan over medium heat for 2-3 minutes before flipping to ensure even cooking. Place lid on pan and allow to sit for a few minutes to complete steaming until they are fork tender. I serve mine with roasted red pepper hummus, guacamole, or plain!

Nutrition Facts
(Serving Size: 1/5th of the jicama)

Check out all that fiber! So, the total carbohydrates is 22 grams. You can take half of the grams of fiber (which is 6) and subtract that from 22 (which makes 16) and this is your "net carbs" (if you are a carbohydrate counter). So this is a salty and crunchy snack with less than 100 calories, only 16 carbohydrates, LOTS of fiber, a good source of vitamin A (and almost iron...), and an excellent source of vitamin C.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Inspiring Story and a Snack

60 Lives, 30 Kidneys, All Linked
(“A record chain of kidney transplants resulted from a mix of medical need, pay-it-forward
selflessness and lockstep coordination among 17 hospitals over four months”)

Eggplant Pizzas

Slice an eggplant (I used the Japanese purple eggplant here) and spray with olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Top with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake until cheese melts (about 10 minutes). Serve warm (but they are pretty tasty cold too!).

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Read This

This has been going around Facebook and thought I’d share it with you:

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.
A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.
A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Do you see the 3 Goddard paintings hanging on the walls? I totally missed them the first time, and he is my favorite artist . . .true message!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Healthy Living

10 things you can do today for a healthier, happier you!


1. Drink A LOT of water today! It will prevent headaches and prevent you from feeling overly hungry (especially for those who are enduring some intense workouts!).

2. Get rid of all your leftover super bowl treats! Try sending leftovers home with party attendees, take them to work, or drop them off at neighbors' homes if they are tempting.

3. Get your workout in today! After any food-focused occasion, you are probably feeling a bit sluggish the next day. Get moving and you will feel better!

4.Kill Germs! Go through your house with a sanitization wipe and give every door handle, railing, and light switch a good scrub to get rid of pesky germs that could cause a sickness. If nothing else, be aware of washing your hands before eating and avoid touching your face during the day.

5. Get Pretty! Take 10 minutes and curl your hair, do your makeup, or paint your nails. This is something that will help you feel better about yourself and out you in a healthy mindset to make good choices.

6.Plan a healthy dinner! With a Lean meat, veggies, and a healthy fat.

7. Don’t eat anything processed today.

8. STRETCH! Try to touch your toes.

9.Park far away. Take that last parking lot sport and burn a few extra calories walking in.

10. Turn on some music and dance around - there is no excuse about poor gym class schedules or fear about other class participants watching you dance, you can do this in a small space anywhere in your home, apartment, or bedroom.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Leeky Chicken

Tonight's dinner took a total of 20 minutes to prep + cook. YUM!

Leeky Chicken Served over Quinoa
1 cup dry quinoa cooked in 2 cups low sodium chicken broth in my rice cooker
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces (this speeds the cooking process since there is more surface area exposed to the saute pan's heat source)
1 cup of leeks (remember the trip is to cut the leeks width-wise up to the green part and allow to float in water so the dirt falls to the bottom)
1 zucchini, diced
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 tsp honey mustard
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp each: dried parsley, dried rosemary, dried thyme (it's the in winter so dried herbs are just fine!)
Add a little of the low sodium chicken broth to thin out and create a sauce (~2Tbsp).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Washingtonian Interview

Check out this well-written article (thanks Jazelle!):

Friday, January 6, 2012

Vietnemese Made Easy

I found these summer roll wrappers at Global Foods and decided to make a veggie fresh roll. They worked out great, and I see these as a stylish and tasty vehicle for some of my favorite stuffers. These were made with sauteed onions, yellow and red peppers. I would suggest adding a protein source (shrimp is my favorite) but I served these along with my homemade tandoori chicken:


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups Aarti's Tandoori Marinade, recipe follows, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • Olive oil, to taste
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Aarti's Tandoori Marinade:

  • 2 chiles de arbol
  • 3 tablespoons fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • Seeds from 4 green cardamom pods
  • Seeds from 1 black cardamom pod
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 4 cups plain yogurt (recommended: full fat)
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Toss the chicken breasts in 1 cup tandoori marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

In a saute pan, heat the vegetable oil, and cook the chicken for about 7 minutes per side, until cooked through. Alternately, you can also grill the chicken. Remove the chicken from the pan and pour the remaining 1 cup of marinade into the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the honey and turn off the heat. Toss the salad greens with some olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice and salt, and pepper, to taste. Serve each chicken breast over a bed of greens and top with the heated tandoori sauce.

To make the Marinade:

Put the chiles, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, seeds from cardamom pods (Cook's Note: Crush the pods to open, remove the seeds and throw away the hulls.), paprika, and cinnamon in a saute pan over medium heat until fragrant and toasty, about 5 minutes. Stir to avoid burning. Pour the mixture into a coffee or spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.

Throw the garlic and ginger into a food processor or blender and pulse until finely minced, then add the yogurt, oil, and lime juice. Process the mixture until as smooth as possible. Add the spice powder and process again. Season the mixture with salt, and pepper, to taste. Keep the marinade in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


12 foods for 2012:

1) Dark greens (kale, Swiss chard, collards, etc.) - Amazing line-up of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Lots of flavor, easy to use.

2) Edamame - Big on fiber and minerals that are great for your bones, heart and brain.

3) Tea - 2 to 3 cups of unsweetened tea a day can offer a boost to your immune system and heart health. It has plenty of substances to help protect cells from damage.

4) Barramundi - A white fish from Australia. Mild in flavor, rich in omega-3's, sustainably raised and harvested.

5) Hummus - A great substitute for mayo and a nice dip for veggies. Contains protein, fiber and healthy fats.

6) Spices - Perfect for cutting back the salt and sugar. Try cinnamon, ginger, fennel and turmeric. Digestive and immune benefits.

7) Quinoa - A whole grain rich in fiber, protein and minerals. Great substitute for rice. Cooks in half the time.

8) Kefir - A drinkable type of yogurt with more of the "good bacteria" your digestive system values.

9) Potassium-rich foods (bananas, oranges, sweet potatoes, dried plums and yogurt) - Important for heart health, blood pressure and bones.

10) Water - Try infusing some natural flavor to it for a bump in taste. Slice favorite fruit, berries or even vegetables. Wrap in cheese cloth, dunk into pitcher of water and let steep in refrigerator.

11) Chocolate - Select 72% cocoa content or higher. Cocoa has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant properties and a mood-enhancing effect.

12) A new food - Make a resolution to try one new food a week. With thousands of items in a grocery store, pick something new as a way of broadening your food horizons