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It amazes me how little people know about food and what our bodies use it for.  Most people assume taking a multivitamin is just as good as a well-balanced diet.  I’m no expert, but it is my understanding that there are countless enzymes and other “helpers” in natural foods that assist the body in absorbing vitamins and other nutrients.  In most experts’ opinions, the body absorbs very little from dietary supplements.

I have always been incredibly thin despite growing up on a diet of mostly processed food, tv dinners, and canned vegetables (sorry Mom, it sure was good), and an insatiable love of salt (which has now led to hypertension at a young age).  The one time my mom tried to get me to eat frozen peas, I cried and sat at the table for an hour after everyone else was done with dinner until I finished my one spoonful of peas.  And the “weirdest” thing my mom ever made us eat was hominy.  Needless to say, I have had to develop any love or ability to cook what we now call “whole” food on my own.  Then that post-25 thing hit, and I started getting sick more, gaining weight, etc.  After living 26 years with my ability to eat literally anything without it affecting my body, I developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome, started gaining weight, feeling lethargic, and my immune system suffered.  I had to completely re-learn how to feed myself.  The IBS was mostly affected by red meat and fatty foods (hello, my two favorite food groups), and the blood pressure was affected by foods high in salt (think taquitos and pizza).

So this brings me to my main point: eat more vegetables.  No, not the canned ones.  My apologies to canned vegetable manufacturers, but they’re not good for us.  The high salt content and lack of nutritional content (compared to fresh or frozen vegetables) just isn’t good for us physically or mentally – we can’t continue to allow the population to consider them “healthy.”  Safe and non-perishable, yes.  If you like your vegetables softer, frozen vegetables are great.  They are usually frozen at their peak freshness and are therefore arguably the most healthy; I just don’t like mushy vegetables.  I do, however eat frozen peas.  But that’s just because I’ve never seen fresh peas.

Here’s how I gradually learned to love a wide range of fresh vegetables:

Snap Green BeansStart with green beans.  Snap green beans.  They’re super easy, very low in sodium, full of vitamin C, iron, manganese, fiber, B6 and more.  For full nutritional information, click here.

I start with a quick rinse under the faucet and dry with paper towels, then I line them up in a row and trim the ends off (you can eat them, but they could burn easily). While you are preparing the beans, heat a skillet to medium with about a tablespoon of butter.  Butter will burn, so don’t let it get too hot.  Then finely chop (or use one of those garlic press things) one clove of fresh garlic (no, not the garlic that is kept in oil).  Add the beans first, then the garlic (the garlic will also burn so you want to minimize the time it is in the pan).  Let them cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If you like them crunchy, stay closer to 5 minutes.  If you like them mushy, cook them as long as you like – just know that the longer you cook food, the more nutritional value you lose.  Remove them from heat and serve!  If this turns out to be the only vegetable you will eat, you will be miles ahead of most!


Next, take the next step in your relationship with carrots. We’ve all had the pot roast with carrots and potatoes, right?  They’re alright.  Little mushy, not my favorite.  Then I discovered parsnips.  Really the only notable nutritional content is Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, but those are very important, especially the potassium.

Parsnips have more sugar (thus more carbs) than carrots, so they develop almost a licorice/caramel flavor when they are roasted.  I’ve never tried them any other way.  They are really good.  I usually roast a mix of parsnips and carrots, just in case my dinner guests aren’t quite ready to take the parsnip plunge.

Trim them just as you would a carrot – the very thin tips will burn so cut those off, cut the tops off (unless they have beautiful greens like on these baby carrots – leave those on for show), and if they are larger in circumference than a nickel, split them lengthwise.  coat with olive oil, salt and pepper (I prefer using a large plastic baggie), and spread in one layer onto a baking sheet lined with foil.  Roast in a 375 degree oven for twenty minutes, turning halfway through (remember parsnips have that extra sugar, so they will stick if you don’t turn them).  You know they are done when they are easily pierced with a fork.


Guess what?  Now that you know how to saute and roast, you can cook all of the vegetables in the cruciferous family.  The new “super food,” cruciferous vegetables are high in cancer-fighting antioxidants, and have shown to minimize inflammatory diseases such as heart disease and cystic fibrosis.  They are also high in vitamins A, B6, and C.

All of the veggies in the cruciferous family (cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower) get soggy and gross when steamed (but of course that is where they are at their most nutritious), but nutty and flavorful when roasted and sauteed.  My favorites are roasted  broccoli and brussels sprouts, and sauteed green cabbage.  You can find some very tasty recipes online for roasted cauliflower.

For green cabbage, I suggest shredding it, and then sauteeing in a skillet with butter, salt, and pepper.  You can also eat it raw in fish tacos (yum).  For broccoli and cauliflower, trim it into florets and then prepare as you did the parsnips: coat in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and then roast for twenty minutes.  The same goes for brussels sprouts, but trim off the ends and remove the loose leaves then cut into halves or quarters until they are all approximately the same size.  Be sure to turn them at least once.  I promise, brussels sprouts are not bad!  The mushy frozen ones are horrible, but roasted they are absolutely heavenly.  I promise, I’m not weird.  Just do it.

My Cooking Resources: Start an account, then enter EVERYTHING you have in your pantry and fridge.  It finds online recipes using when you have on hand, and then recipes where you might need to get only one or two ingredients.  It’s a lifesaver when I don’t want to go to the store! feast for the eyes!  Millions of photos of heavenly food that link to a great recipe – everything from baba ganoush to macaroni and cheese.  If you’re ever looking for inspiration, you will find it here! Seriously.  If you want to know how to cook something, just search for it.  You don’t have an excuse anymore.

iPhone apps for on the go: AllRecipes and Epicurious for thousands of recipes, Fooducate for nutritional information (scan a barcode or look up an item)

Be the best you can be, do the NEXT RIGHT thing, and always, with passion, treat others EXACTLY how you want them to treat you! -Lou Holtz

My last blog promised all sorts of things, and I have not delivered. No goals, no “This I Believe” essays… Honestly my mind has not been in the place to write about positivity and ideals.  I’ve had some prolonged stress and life’s just been hard the last several months.  There have been a few bright spots, but my mind seems unable to turn from what’s going wrong to what’s going right.  So I may as well vent and update about the recovery and try to put my special spin on things.

I somehow forgot that the first quarter at work is our busiest.  OK maybe I remembered that it was the busiest, but wow.  Wow.  I guess last year I hadn’t been given that much responsibility yet so I figured I could handle things this year just as well as last year.  So I planned a vacation in February…February 10-13, to be exact.  To the CPAC convention in DC.  My first trip to DC.  It was already very risky to take a vacation during this period, and then the weather got all crazy last week and the office was closed for 4 days.  I’m going to have to work at least 50 hours a week for a month to make up for the missed days.  So I canceled the trip, losing about $450 in the process.  Ouch.

I suppose it’s for the best though.  My ankle still isn’t really up for travel and sightseeing.  It’s been 3 months since the surgery, and things still aren’t 100%.  I’d say about 75%.  There is still a lot of swelling, pain, and stiffness.  I have about 50% flexibility, but it is stable and I feel safe walking even though it is usually painful.  I wear an ankle brace everywhere but home – it’s an upgrade from the boot, but it limits my wardrobe to tennis shoes.  Flats are very painful.  So I pretty much never feel cute…but I digress.  I had a check-up with the ankle surgeon yesterday, and he thinks that the fiber wire that he used to anchor my tendon to the bone might be rubbing on the tendon, causing it to swell.  And I’m not talking about a little swelling – it’s major swelling.  Probably an inch in circumference or more by the end of the day.  So I had another lovely steroid shot directly in the tendon yesterday (pretty much the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced), and it seems to be doing better.  If it continues to swell, he may have to go back in and remove the wire.  I am still miffed by how a “two week recovery period” can turn into three months.  At least I can walk now.

Physical therapy seems to be helping as much as it can despite the swelling.  It takes up 2-3 nights a week, sometimes a Saturday.  My social life is suffering, and I miss my friends and family dearly.  I’m attempting to have a love life, and the time constraint has proven a hardship.  When I don’t have PT, I’m working late.  The four days off last week was a desperately needed escape from reality.  My family has suffered considerable loss and hardship the last six months, and it’s been hard to watch those I love suffer.  I try to be the pillar of strength, but the constant negativity has really taken a toll on my disposition.  It shadows everything.

I know I’m a lucky girl, but just this once I don’t want to pretend that I feel lucky.  Life goes on, this too shall pass, and all that…I’m just ready for this period to get the hell out of here.

I posted a blog last December listing out some goals I hoped to achieve – here’s an update!

And here’s the original.

December 29, 2009

1.Get rid of all of my recycling “problem”

Update: I finally took out the 6-7 paper bags of recycling in my apartment, and have not let it get that bad since!

2.Write a “This I Believe” essay

Update: Haven’t gotten around to this one yet, but I’ve got some ideas rolling around in my head.

3.Build up a personal savings.

Update: This will be easier after my student loans have been paid off.

4.learn more about wine

Update: An ongoing process!

5.drink more water

Doing good on this one!  I drink about a liter a day.

6.Figure out why I’m so tired

Update: turns out high blood pressure can really wear you out!  Guess what I have?  High blood pressure!  Now that I’m on medication, I sleep great!

7.learn yoga

Update: I’ve learned a little bit – can anyone recommend a good video?

8.learn how to fall asleep

See #6!

9.learn to garden

Update: I have a little herb garden on my balcony, and they’re doing alright!

10.identify 10 strengths I am proud of

11.Take a cooking class

12.visit the Taj Mahal

13.Train a guide dog.

14.Stick to a budget.

Update: mumblemumble…

15.Learn conversational French and/or German

Update: I learned a little before I went to Europe, and I think I did ok speaking to the natives!

16.Learn to ride my mountain bike.

Update: Trying to sell the bike…

17.get buff

Update: I’m doing the 100 Pushup Challenge!

18.Visit the ancient ruins in Greece.

19.visit Petra

20.find true love

Update: Well, I haven’t joined a convent yet…

21.learn to invest

22.Purchase a home

23.Learn to be less reactive.

24.Stop interrupting people when they are speaking.

Update: I am definitely more aware of this, I just have a hard time holding back!!

25.Volunteer for a local political campaign.

26.learn about local politics

27.Learn to enjoy being part of a “pair.”

28.improve my manners

29.keep a plant alive for one month

Update: I got a plant from the arrangements at my grandfather’s funeral just after Christmas last year, and I am happy to say that it is alive and well!

30.stretch every day

Update: I don’t get to it every day, but I do stretch and work out more often.

31.check my blood pressure once a week

Update: Again, I don’t do it as often as I should, but then I’m not as worried about it as I was when I wrote this.

32.rebuild my six-pack

Update: This is a slower process than it used to be, but I’m working on it! with integrity

Update: This isn’t a goal that can be just checked off – it’s ongoing.  I should find some books on the subject.

34.decide what “honor” means to me, and be an example of honor for others

Update: Another ongoing process.  I will probably try to include my definition of “honor” in my “This I Believe” essay. passionately

36.Be a better friend

Update: I definitely have been making  more of an effort to spend time with my friends and keep relationships going, despite the distance that separates me from most of them.

37.give more to charity

38.set career goals

39.Be completely ruthless about getting things done

Update: Very few weeknights out = more gets done at home!

40.resist the temptation to settle

41.get up when the alarm goes off

Update: I get up a lot easier now that I have been sleeping better.  I’m comfortable with snoozing a few times.

42.Live in the present

Update: Dwelling on the past doesn’t get us anywhere…this goal is more like a constant reminder to keep my mind on what’s directly in front of me.  In fact, reading it just now reminded me to stop worrying about what I was worrying about today! more self-reliant

I’ve been thinking a lot about my “online life.”  Since I received my first online capable computer (a Compaq laptop with a sweet dial-up modem) for my high school graduation in 1997, I have been addicted to talking to people, posting personal websites, photos, blogs, networking, etc, etc, etc.

But recently, I’ve noticed how different my life would be without the likes of Facebook.  No less than 537 people have access to my favorite quotes, books, movies, music, celebrities, websites, tv shows, my friends, and at least one thing that I say each day.  That’s right, I can reach over 500 people at just the click of a button.  Am I the only one that thinks that is insane?  What really irks me, is that 537 people are able to tell me just exactly what they think of me and my message for the day.  537 people now have the ability to embarrass, irritate, harass, and sexually objectify me – in front of 536 other people.

Dating is completely different now.  The minute someone learns your first and last name, they can find out anything you have carelessly posted, and they get to judge you freely, without you being there to explain that the photo of you and that guy is just a dear friend, or your brother.  Or that you don’t REALLY drink every time you go out, that’s just the only time someone brings a camera.

People I would really rather not stay in contact with are able to just shoot me a message and interrupt my peaceful life at just a click of a button.  Someone I casually hand my business card to can instantly know almost everything about me.  The guy I casually blew off at that party can now find me through his friend, ask me out (on Facebook, such a gentleman), and then write back how unhappy and disappointed he is with my response.  You can’t have acquaintances anymore – they are suddenly a part of your daily life, which is exactly what they are looking for when they look you up.

And if you choose to block information from some but not others…boy are you an asshole.  How dare you wish to keep any part of your life private?  I’ve been trying to figure out how I can still enjoy the enjoyable part of online networking, while still remaining as private as possible.  When you extend this task to over 500 people that you know in varying degrees (I actually know almost all personally, with the exception of some local political figures), it becomes rather daunting.  Yes, I know how to use the privacy features – let’s see you categorize 537 people.

Right now, my solution is to chuck Facebook.  I’m not sure I can do it, and what will probably end up happening is that I will limit the profile information that everyone can see, including daily posts.  When it comes down to it, I just don’t care what people think about the cartoon that I found funny, the fact that I had a doughnut for breakfast, my political opinions, or that photo of me and my friends getting tanked.  No one seems to subscribe to “If you can’t say something nice…” anymore so I can either stop posting those things, or remove access to them.  Decisions, decisions.

I’ve always maintained that if you’re IN my life, you’re in my life.  Facebook is not a substitute for a phone call.  Sure, it’s an ok way to send out an invitation for something casual, but posting “hello” on someone’s wall just doesn’t qualify you as a friend.

I won’t pretend that I have better things to do than troll Facebook for hours at a time.  I don’t intend to save the world, or become some sort of super-fit human being with all the time I would save.  Honestly, I like having the access to so many people – so many of whom I love and adore and miss very much.  I suppose this is a heads up – I won’t be as accessible.  There just has to be a better way to enjoy this MY way.