Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Attack of the Killer Donuts!

This past weekend, our family stopped by a Krispy Kreme Donut store. It was the first time we had been to one in several years, and it was the first time any of our kids had been.

Anyway, I thought my boys (ages 4 and 2) would have fun watching the donuts being made, so while daddy was waiting in line, I took the boys to the window to see the donut machine. I set up some chairs so that they could see out the window. We got there just in time to see a new batch coming up. Suddenly, my 2 year old started to panic and wanted me to hold him. Sure enough, he was afraid of the army of donuts headed toward him! Later on, however, he fearlessly conquered the donut he was given and wanted to conquer some more!

So, you may be wondering why I ever set foot in a donut shop to begin with. Well, for starters, I actually like donuts. I don’t think it will kill me because I really don’t eat them frequently, besides, my overall diet is a better picture of what will keep me healthy, not one (0r two) donuts every now and then. But before you all go running to your local donut shop because your “nutritionist friend” eats donuts, I’ve included the nutritional facts for one glazed donut, courtesy of dietfacts.com. Given this information, I think I am going to avoid them even more.

Well, the amount of trans-fats is equivalent to one teaspoon. Picture drinking a teaspoon of that cod liver oil grandma forced you to take, but this time it is not for your health! If you add the rest of the fat in, that’s 3 teaspoons.
Maybe we should follow my toddler’s example and be afraid… very, very afraid.

[Donut picture from krispykreme.com]

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sometimes moms just need to get away...

...and get a physical.

Today, I had my first physical in 5 years. It's hard to believe it has been that long. Given that I have had three children in that time period, it's not like I haven't been to the doctor, had lab tests done or the such, but it has been the first one I've had that has not been related to my pregnancy. I also went because I wanted to rule out anything besides sleep deprivation that could be making me tired.

I don't get out much without my kids. I wouldn't say it is for a lack of opportunity, rather I think it is because I'm trying to figure out what would make it time well spent. Definitely, any time spent alone with my husband is well spent, but I'm talking about the "me" time people talk of. A lot of people advocate some "me" time to moms for refreshment and renewal. I realize the place for that. Here are some things that I see people do or suggest:

  • Shop: I don't really like shopping because I already have a ton of stuff that I am trying to figure out what to do with. I don't need more, and I don't want to put myself in a position to want more either. I also hate the disappointment and frustration of not finding what I'm looking for (another waste of time).
  • Exercise: This is a good one but what happens when the weather isn't good? Some gyms have child care, but I can't bring myself to put my kids in there for fear they will get sick from another child. This is not paranoia here. I have a friend who used to work at one, and she and her kids were getting sick all the time (and they didn't before). People don't pay money to a gym not to use it, so if their kids have a goopy nose, they'll take them anyway. Also, I don't know who I'm leaving my kids with. Thanks, but no thanks.
  • Eat out, which is self defeating because I still have to make food arrangements for the rest of the family, so I'd rather have my friends come over instead. I consider cooking a hobby, so this is probably a better way of having "me" time.
  • Do a craft/hobby: I already have a bunch of unfinished projects here at home. I don't need to start a new one. I also don't know which one I should try to finish first. Besides, every time I get to one, I get carried away and end up starting a new (and ultimately unfinished) project, ha ha.
  • Sleep: I have gotten to the point where this can be self defeating too. I finally get a great nap in, only to stay up ridiculously late.
  • Blog: That takes up too much time, ha ha!

I'm sure I'll find something that will be a good fit, but in the meantime, I can't forget the other things that are needed, such as getting a health or dental checkup (I'm too embarrassed about how long that has been, but I have an appointment on Monday). The benefit is not only for myself, but also for my husband, children and friends. I think we often attribute small things, such as being tired to just being a mom. Often it could be that, but what if it were something else? If it is, I'd like to know so that I am not making things worse by getting stressed and overwhelmed. Incidentally, Tanya at the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog wrote today about her weariness actually being caused by anemia.

Well, back to the doctor's visit. The reason I thought of writing this post is that I noticed there was one lifestyle habit that has changed since having kids: taking the stairs instead of the elevator. With kids, I only take the stairs if I have no other option. But today I had the option, so I gladly did it. But overall, I felt good about myself for not putting this physical off. It is easy for mothers (and fathers for that matter) to get caught up with meeting the demands of caring for their families, that they neglect their own care. So moms (and dads), do yourself a favor. Break away from your daily routine and get a physical. You need nurturing too.

So, when was the last time you had a physical?

Food and Health Blog

I just wanted you all to know about a new nutrition blog from Food & Health Communications. Food & Health is a provider of great (and useful) nutrition education resources, and now they are blogging too. You can find it at http://foodandhealth.com/blog/.

Right now, the topic is 1 chicken, 6 meals. In other words, Judy is showing us how to cook 6 meals from one chicken. What a great idea. I'm going to get a chicken this weekend and try her suggestions. I can cook nutritious meals, but meal planning is still a work in progress for me.

Well, I've got to go fix lunch. Check out that blog and tell me what you think.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What do these two pictures have in common?

They both represent 200 calories.

More pictures can be found at wisegeek.com

Calories aren't the only thing to consider when making healthful choices, but this is a great way to see what is in your food.

By the way, after seeing these pictures, my 4 year old just asked me if I can get gummy bears the next time when we go to the store :-)

Thanks to Neatorama for the link.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


My friend Lew tagged me last week. Only now am I able to answer these questions. To be honest, I had to think some of them through (probably because I don't think much these days, hee hee).

1) What is the most fun work you have ever done and why (two sentences)?

Being a stay at home mom. Like my mum once said, "you don't miss anything" (I must admit, I was originally going to answer one of the projects I did when I was getting my Master's degree, but then my daughter smiled at me and I realized what I had overlooked).

2) Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do now but wish you did (one sentence).

Sing in a vocal ensemble.

3) Name one thing you have always wanted to do but keep putting it off (one sentence).

Finish my craft projects ;-)

4) What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why (two sentences)?

  • Food allergies, because more and more people are finding out they are allergic to what they eat, and I'd like to help these people manage (this includes my family).
  • Herbalism, because there is a greater focus on prevention and it is much gentler on the body if you know what you are doing.
5) If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn (two sentences)?

Although an obvious choice would be Jesus, I would like to learn from his mother, Mary. I figure if God found favor in her to carry, bear, and raise God Incarnate, then I think I could learn a lot from her.

6) What three words would your best friends or family use to describe you?

Thoughtful, friendly, helpful. (I hate these types of questions! Once I was asked what Disney character would best describe me. I didn't know. That was for a job interview at the Disney Store. Needless to say, I never got that job.)

7) Now list two more words you wish described you...

ORGANIZED, content.

8) What are your top three passions (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes - three sentences)?
  1. Christ
  2. My husband and children
  3. Nurturing

9) Write - and answer - one more question that YOU would ask someone (three sentences with answer).

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
I had a tangerine, and small amount of scrambled eggs (my baby get's fussy when I eat it, so I was really cheating) wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

[Bonus: What is one question you wish people would ask themselves?]

How are you really doing, and what effect is it having on your walk with Christ?

Well, I'm going to break the tradition here. I'm not tagging anyone (Do I hear a big sigh of relief?) Still, you are more than welcome to answer all or some of these questions if you want to. Post it as a comment or on your own blog.

Want a good reason to breastfeed?

4 days after my first child was born, we were hit with an ice storm that disabled the entire region for a week. We were without electricity and phone for 5 days. Thankfully we had neighbors who gave us no choice but to go and stay with them. I asked my husband to take this picture from our nursery. If you click on the picture you can really see the ice on the trees outside the window. I live in the Southeast US, so this is not the norm.

Why I chose to breastfeed

Well, maybe I didn't choose to. Actually, I never really gave NOT breastfeeding a thought. I have always been in awe at God's design for a woman to sustain life within her womb, nurturing from within. Long before I knew whether I would or could bear a child, years before I met my husband, I looked forward to the day I would be pregnant. The same awe carried through to breastfeeding. Once again, the idea that my body could produce food for such a fragile baby blew my mind. If my body was designed to make it, then surely it was perfect. As I got older, I learned about other benefits, but I also found it to be much more practical. No bottles to boil or carry around (or forget!). No warming up, etc. I was also in a very supportive environment, so I didn't have to worry about the social opposition either (not like I was really concerned about it in the first place). But, in the end, my decision to breastfeed was very simple: regardless of social perceptions, breastfeeding is the way "the Good Lord meant it to be" -- period.

With all three of my children, breastfeeding has come very natural to me. It hasn't been problem free (I have to avoid chocolate among other things), yet I know better to think this is the same experience for everyone. In fact, the third time around has shown me how much I need (and want) to learn about breastfeeding. I realize that most moms who stop breastfeeding wish they had the same ease as I had. But I know many moms who have faced much greater challenges, and have prevailed in breastfeeding their child. Some of these had support, others didn't.

I am writing this to encourage those who want to breastfeed (or continue to breastfeed) to seek support. I am very thankful for the resources that have been made available to me, knowing that they weren't as easily available just a generation ago. There are thousands of people who will bend over backwards to help you do this. You are not alone. If there is one thing I have learned after having three kids (well, I actually learned after having two), is that it is OK to ask for help. I don't need to have all the answers. There are lactation consultants (IBCLC, among others), peer counselors, and simply the average mom (well, the consultants are mostly average moms who have dedicated their lives to this topic) -- all who have been there or are willing to walk through it with you. And, if paying a fee to see a consultant seems steep, then think how quickly you will be spending that amount on formula. There are also several support groups, La Leche League being the most known. There are blogs, there are email groups, forums, you name it.

So what is this post really about? It is about promoting breastfeeding, but I know I couldn't just end my post at the first paragraph because people could say, "Well, I'm glad it worked for you..." It is not my place (or anyone else's) to make that decision for you. However, there are very few reasons why someone cannot breastfeed, but there are many reasons why someone will not breastfeed. So for those who can, I hope this is an encouragement to you.

Feel free to post your thoughts.
UPDATE: Here is a post about when Lactation Consultants aren't supportive, from The Lactivist. My take is, if you have someone who is not helping, then find someone else who will.

Friday, January 5, 2007

The Best 30-Minute Recipe

Two words: LOVE IT!

I got this cookbook for Christmas, as I have become a fan of anything from Cook's Illustrated (also known as America's Test Kitchen). I have never watched their show on PBS, but I subscribe to their online recipe database and have borrowed their books from my local library. There has never been a recipe from them that has flopped (well... maybe once, but it wasn't their fault). There is so much I love about them that I could (and probably will someday) write a blog post on it.

But today I am writing about this cookbook. For the last three days, my family and I have enjoyed delicious dinners that have been prepared in approximately 30 minutes. I still haven't recovered from my trip, so a 30 minute meal is a real sanity preserver!

300 recipes are divided into 11 chapters, featuring egg dishes, salads, soups. stews, stir-fries, skillet meals, baked, etc. Intertwined are their helpful tips as well as the background to developing the recipe.

The techniques are fairly simple, given that simplicity is a major time saver. Even recipes with many ingredients come together pretty quickly. They also have "Got extra time?" segments that will give you make scratch alternatives to some of their store-bought short cuts. Now, I must admit that it took a bit longer than 30 minutes from start to finish, but this has more to do with my lack of organization skills. I don't think it has taken longer than 40 minutes. But the following tips will help you get it done in 30 minutes:
  • Start with a clean kitchen. Make sure any equipment you need is clean or not already in use.
  • Do any prep work before hand: If you still have to pit and chop the olives, then the meal probably won't be ready in 30 minutes. Also, my baked pork chops were delayed about 10 minutes because I took 10 minutes crushing the pita crisps (the store were out of Melba Toast so I had to improvise) for the crunch coating. Crushing it in a clear bag probably would have helped too ;-)
  • Set out the ingredients first or ahead of time (especially the seasonings)
  • Read the recipe carefully. I am notorious for skimming through a recipe, only to find out I skipped a step or left out an ingredient. It still turned out good, though.
Nutritionally speaking, their recipes tend to avoid highly processed foods, so you are making the foods mostly from scratch. However, they don't post their nutritional analysis so you need to educate yourself on the ingredients. For example, I don't think I'll be making the recipes with heavy cream often (if at all, mainly because some of us are lactose intolerant). And I won't add as much salt if I think there is enough of it in the dish. Still, as a rule of thumb, cooking from scratch offers much more control over the nutritional value of the food than premade food.

Now, they don't compromise taste because of cost either. So, the skillet beef pot pie calls for filet mignon because it is the only cut of meat for this dish that will be tender enough in 30 minutes. At $10+/lb, I don't think I'll be making this one. But I can apply their technique to the slow cooker.

So here's to another great resource. Thanks to KM for the gift, it is worth a whole lot more than you will ever know.
The Best 30-minute Recipe by The editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine. ISBN: 0936184981

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Oh, Welch.

I made an attempt to buy some healthy on-the-go snacks for the first leg of a 2000 mile (~3220 km) road trip. Usually, I don't buy the little prepackaged bags, but I was short on time and felt that it would be easier to manage and control the portions as well. I picked up a pack of Welch's Tropical Sensations dried fruit to satisfy the eventual sweet tooth. Although dried fruit certainly has its drawbacks, it's portable and an alternative to the misleadingly called "fruit" snacks (which is another topic in itself). On the package, it says, "bursting with sweet natural goodness." Well, after I tried it, I took a closer look at the ingredients and realized that what it's bursting with is sugar! It turns out that sugar has been added to the naturally sweetened fruit (and these naturally occuring sugars are already concentrated in the drying process). In the end, one 0.9 oz (25.5g) pouch has 21g of sugar, equivalent to 5 1/4 teaspoons.

In an attempt to differentiate the added sugars from the natural sugars, I went to www.nutsonline.com and calculated the average amount of sugars in their natural pineapple, natural papaya, and organic mango. If these three were chopped up and put into 25g packages (with an equal amount of fruit distributed), the sugar content would be ~10g. Picture a handful of dried fruit with almost 3 teaspoons (2.75 if you want to be exact) of sugar on top. Not my idea of a delicious & nutritious snack.

To make matters worse, I compared this with their "fruit" snack nutrition data. The same size package has 10 fewer calories and 12g of sugar. This means the sugar they put in the "fruit" snack is almost the same amound they added to their dried fruit. The fake stuff also has vitamins A, C & E added to it. Needless to say, Tropical Sensations is not worthy of replacing the fake fruit snacks.

So, Welch's Tropical Sensations is the first to be inducted into my Hall of SHAME. Shame on Welch's for their nutritional disservice and shame on ME for not reading the label before I bought it.