The Omega-3 Debate

Recently, there has been talk about the possible bad side effects of supplementing with Omega-3‘s as well as the “31 percent of omega-3 supplements failing to live up to their claims.”  The thing that gets me is, a “supplement” is just that, a (typically) swallowable pill that adds to one’s diet what they either are, or think they are missing. Can one not simply amp up their diet and forego the unpleasantries of swallowing horse pills each morning??

Not long ago, I dove head first into writing a scientific research paper that looked at the effects of one’s diet on their auto-immune systems (focusing on Arthritis and joint inflammation). Throughout my research, I found that the Mediterranean diet was the cream of the crop, tip of the top diet for not only those suffering from auto immune disorders such as Arthritis, but also in a general lifestyle way too. 

Why is this? Well the Mediterranean Diet consists of a lifestyle in which nothing is cut out (dark chocolate and wine can still make you feel fine!) and everything that is eaten, is fresh, natural, organic, and of course, moderation is key. Another key aspect of this diet is the amount of naturally occurring Omega-3’s that are consumed.

 

“What?” You say. “Omega-3 doesn’t sound tasty and delicious, speak English please.”

Omega-3’s are essential Fatty Acids that our bodies need in order for us to function properly and live our lives from day to day. Because our bodies do not produce them naturally (hence the reference “essential” attached to their definition) we must consume them in our diets, particularly Omega-3’s in the form of EPA and DHA. The primary food source is fish, though flax (try some delish Flax Seed enhanced Pancakes for one stellar breakfast!) and algae oil have been newly discovered to help those of us who don’t eat fish. And who consumes a substantial amount of fish in their typical diet? Oh yes, you guessed it, those Mediterranean smarties.

 

What’s so wrong with being a proud American consuming a stereotypically proud American diet of corn-based and processed foods? Why I think I answered my own question there…but in case I didn’t:


One’s diet should maintain a fine balance between those Omega-3 essential fatty acids and Omega-6 essential fatty acids. (The recommended balance is a 2:1, Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio; the average American ratio is more like 15 or 16:1- WOAH nelly.) Omega-6 essential fatty acids are yet another essential to the healthy functioning of our day-to-day lives, however these fatty acids are derived, in majority, from vegetable oils, including safflower, soybean, and in particular, corn oils. For this reason, Americans, who rely a great deal on corn based, well, everything, are giving their diets a pretty big disadvantage as far as that “happy functioning” state goes.

Sure, our bodies adapt and learn how to function at a seemingly happy state, but throw in the typical wear and tear that comes with aging, and suddenly ailments set in. For this reason, it’s my own opinion that we should start to head towards a more balance fatty acid ratio. I mean, dark chocolate and wine are still allowed! Why would you say no!?


(A personal favorite of mine: Dreaming Tree Wine.)


(Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegrante/Acai/Goji-all tried and true kitchen companions. :})

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Helmet Head. ‘Nuff Said.

 

As you all know, I am indeed an avid Biker Chick, of the manual bicycle sort. Ya know, where you’re pumping and huffing and sweating up hills, wishing that you had a lasso to grab ahold of that show-off car that just whizzed on by you.

So, you’re huffing, and puffing, and blowing that hill down, and you triumphantly reach the top and maybe go downhill a smidge of the way leading to the next incline that eventually leads you to your ultimate destination. Now you’re there and it’s time to drink some H2O, pop some food in your mouth, and check the bathroom mirror to make sure you’re at least presentable for work/class/social gathering/etc.

My issues truly start here.

I have long hair, and a lot of it! And it’s wavy to boot, which I like to embrace and style naturally going for that oh-so-coveted Jennifer Aniston beachy-waves look. This look, however, is not enhanced by a bike helmet. In light of this issue, I took it upon myself to Google search and test and ponder and type out this post in order to shed a bit of light on just how one can hush the helmet-head.

There’s the typical, go-to headband, hat, pony-tail, bun…but these become so boring and un-fun, so quickly. That is, until you’ve created your own, cut from unused jersey fabric headband! And wrapped it round your noggin in a cute, funky way!

Or you can follow this link, http://www.refinery29.com/helmet-hairstyles, and learn 5 cute and seemingly doable helmet hair buster do’s. I love how cute and stylish they all are, and the fact that they look as though they will hide the sweat and crazies caused by the helmet, makes them all that much cuter!
**WARNING** before following this link, make sure you’re knowledgable in how to style your own hair into a braid, twist, and/or bun. Otherwise, you could be disappointed.

A great tip I gathered from the same site as above, is the use of dry shampoo to vamp and revamp the roots. As well as a beachy-waves spray (this link leads to a homemade version of just such a spray-cheaper and healthier for your hair!) that you can spritz onto hair after arriving at your destination.

I hope these tips help out anyone else who happens to be a bike rider with lack-lustre hair! Anyone have some tips I can add to the list?! I’d gladly give them a try!

 

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This…

20120818-190000.jpg

Actually, my mama never told me about days like these… Days where I feel like I can’t find happiness or feel as though I have a purpose or direction in life. She has always, instead, been quite positive and supportive in that motherly way. Cheering me on and boosting my confidence.

Maybe that’s where she and my dad went wrong. Maybe I was never actually meant to hurt those around be but instead to help them help me.

It’s a confusing and perplexing world. One that has dealt me my fair share of conundrums and well, I am in one now! What does one do when their closest of friends and loved ones are not readily available in a face to face rather than thumb to iPhone manner??

Is it yoga? Is it Tai Chi? Is it meditation?? Is it that 7 mile hike in the woods or that 6 mile bike ride?? Or that scrumptious dark chocolate??? Where are the answers??

One thing I know for certain is that I’ll be baking these cookies soon! Maybe a little good-ole-fashion comfort food while I call my mom will do just the trick! What do ya think?!

Apple Oatmeal Flax Cookies!

Zen and the Art of Life

I happened across a book that I’ve had for awhile now, yet have never fully read in detail: Zen and the Art of Cooking, by Jon Sandifier. I have always loved the Yogi-esque title, and have always known the premise behind the book-that cooking should be an art form; what you eat should take time and effort and knowledge. But because I already strive to eat and take care of my body in such a way, I found myself telling myself that it was ok to put off reading it, that I would be ok without the extra words muffling up my spare time.

But something told me last night that I was quite wrong and that I needed a refresher on just what Zen really was.

Hurts when I exhist

That refresher was enforced all the more when I received Time Magazine’s daily e-mail concerning the top stories and reports; one of which being Your Life is Fully MobileWhich made my mind immediately connect the Zen from my book to the Zen of all aspects of life.

Zen is described by Mr. Sandifier as “occasions in our lives when we have felt completely at one with ourselves and the world…our mind can open to new possibilities.”  This is a very difficult state to reach for most people, including myself. For all of the yoga I do, and for all the times I conquer, or at least try to conquer fear and negativity, I still find it extremely difficult to meditate or even focus on just one task at a time. My mind is constantly revving up something new and trying desperately to answer every question I come up with.

My question for you is, what do you think our world today-with endless technology, information at our fingertips, and where the phrase “there’s an app for that,” can be applied to anything, even this very post! (Zen Apps) is doing to our ability to become one with ourselves and the world around us?

Time puts it oh-so-perfectly: “In many parts of the world, more people have access to a mobile device than to a toilet or running water; for millions, this is the first phone they’ve ever had. In the U.S., close to 9 in 10 adults carry a mobile, leaving its marks on body, mind, spirit. There’s a smart-phone gait: the slow sidewalk weave that comes from being lost in conversation rather than looking where you’re going. Thumbs are stronger, attention shorter, temptation everywhere: we can always be, mentally, digitally, someplace other than where we are.”
{source: http://techland.time.com/2012/08/16/your-life-is-fully-mobile/?xid=newsletter-daily#ixzz23iov6ExH}

And I don’t think it could possibly get any more accurate than that. I am extremely guilty of using my iPhone to distract me from my surroundings, and not even because my surroundings are less than gorgeous! I assume it’s more to do with the fact that I, or society, has trained my brain to concentrate on letting the world know what I’m looking at via InstaGram and what I’m thinking via FaceBook or Twitter, and should something absolutely stellar come up, I’ll of course have to find it, Pin it, and share it with my loyal Pinterest followers. Or, hey, Blog it to my loyal Blog followers!

In Japan there’s a saying “shojin ryori,” which means “food to develop spirituality.” When’s the last time Mickie D’s or Sonic fulfilled your spirituality?

For me, that’s the whole point of this blog. Not to make you feel silly or ashamed of yourself for being constantly checked in to your social media and endless bits of knowledge received via fingertips, but rather to make sure that when you are checking in to these cyber-worlds, you’re also making sure to check in to the real world that’s around you at that very moment. Noticing the small things, the big things, the smells, the sounds, the sights-and noticing them for yourself. Not just so you can share them on FaceBook, InstaGram, and Pinterest. We’re all guilty of doing it, and guilty isn’t even the proper word, because in all honesty, I think it’s pretty kickass that our world has become so advanced that knowledge can come directly from our fingertips. I just think that we need to work on becoming knowledgable from the inside out.

Calcium Conundrum

From the time I was very young-we’re talking before I had the ability to consume most solid foods-I have never liked or reacted positively to drinking milk. Of any form. Whole, 2%, 1%, Skim, Almond, Rice, Soy, etc. etc. none of them have ever been a pleaser to my pallet.

Because of this, getting enough Calcium in my diet has been a worry of mine for quite some time now. I mean, I am rather short and small boned–could this be a direct relation to my intentional avoiding of the white, creamy liquid every child is encouraged to drink? Or maybe it’s just the way I am. (The latter excuse is the one I typically use.) Regardless, I worry.

Also, there has been a lot of buzz recently about the amazing abilities of Chocolate Milk:

“The combination of carbohydrates and protein in low-fat chocolate milk appears to be “just right” for refueling weary muscles, says William Lunn, PhD, an exercise scientist at the University of Connecticut. “It’s not just a dessert item, but it’s very healthy, especially for endurance athletes,” Lunn tells WebMD.”

There was a study done in which athletes’ muscles were tested to see how they responded to Non-Fat Chocolate Milk versus Traditional Sports Drinks:

Post-exercise muscle biopsies showed increased skeletal muscle protein synthesis — a sign that muscles were better able to rebuild — after the milk drink, compared with the carb-only beverage. Additionally, drinking fat-free chocolate milk led to a higher concentration of glycogen, or muscle fuel, in muscles 30 and 60 minutes after exercise, compared with the sports drink. Replenishing glycogen after exercise helps future performance, Lunn says.

Seems like a pretty great reason for someone who’s active and constantly on the go to invest their body in some healing and healthy milk, doesn’t it?! But I just don’t like milk! Nor does my body seem to respond in a happy way to consuming too milk or too much yogurt. It’s as if I’m borderline Lactose intolerant.

As a vegetarian, this just seems to add to the constant schooling I have to do in order to stay on top of the whole “having a healthy body, inside and out” thing. Pff.

However, as a vegetarian, I am happy to inform you that obtaining Calcium from milk is the BEST way to get calcium, is actually a myth. According to the British journalist Anne Karpf, who exhaustively explored the problems with milk for the British paper The Guardian, “American women are among the biggest consumers of calcium in the world, yet still have one of the highest levels of osteoporosis in the world…Most Chinese people eat and drink no dairy products and consume only half the calcium of Americans…yet osteoporosis is uncommon in China despite an average life expectancy of 70.” She goes on to propose that the bone loss and deteriorating bone tissue that take place in osteoporosis are due not to calcium deficiency but rather to its resorption: it’s not that our bodies don’t get enough calcium, rather that they excrete too much of what they already have.

{source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2003/dec/13/foodanddrink.weekend}

There are NUMEROUS ways for us to get calcium. By us, I mean anyone and everyone-not dependent on if they eat meats or drink their milk! For instance, those Dark Leafy Greens the doc is always pushing? Well guess what! They are teeming with phytochemicals like beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin as well as iron, CALCIUM, folate, potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamins A, C, and K, all this while also preventing macular degeneration, ensuring bone and joint health, preventing various types of cancer  reducing the risk of diabetes. Some lesser known contenders to add to your recipes are kale, kohlrabi, fennel, bok choy, mustard and beet greens!

  

AND a few other common Calcium obtainers to look into:

  • Almonds, dry roasted (1 oz. = 80 mg)
  • White beans (1 cup = 226 mg)
  • Broccoli, cooked (1 cup = 132 mg)
  • Brussel Sprouts (1 cup = 128 mg)
  • Kale, cooked (1 cup = 204 mg)
  • Collard greens, cooked (1 cup = 356 mg) More than a glass of milk!! That’s right!

And because I hate to leave you bored with just info, here are a few fun recipes for your fancy:
9 Homemade Milk-Alternative Recipes

Vegan Fudgey-Strawberry Pops!

A Little Something Random…

Couple Admiring Monet...

 

My love of artistic things in every form, along with my nerdy love and passion for nature led me to subscribe so-to-speak, to Nat Geo’s Picture of the Day. This is yesterday’s (Aug 9, 2012) picture. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of one of my favorite scenes, in one of my favorite movies-Ferris Bueller. You all know the scene I speak of! **and if not, you need to get on that and watch Ferris Bueller!**

National Geographic’s Picture of the Day

Holy Avocado, Batman!

I recently posted about the woes of a bicycle commuter and how nourishment is most certainly key to the whole experience. I laid out a basic day of meals that I consider to be the perfect nutrition for my person. However, I did not put NEAR enough emphasis on my absolute adoration for the Avocado. And thus, this post was born. Or rather, is being born as it flows from my finger tips to the screen and eventually to you…

avocado

The avocado-known to lower bad cholesterol while packing potassium, B vitamins and fiber, and no sodium or cholesterol-is delicious and the perfect addition to a great many number of meals. (Think smoothies, wraps, eggs, sandwiches, rice bowls, burgers, pastas, pizzas, quesadillas, etc.) Just type in “Avocado” to Pinterest and you’ll find a million and 1 variations on meals involving the green beauty.

Avocado Pie

Even an Avocado Pie!! Imagine that. (pictured above)

Avocados-AKA Alligator Pears-were once considered a luxury food, reserved only for royalty and those wealthy enough to buy them. Nowadays, anyone can enjoy in their nutritious value. They are actually a fruit, disguised by their green skin, and are a typical dessert in most South American and Island cultures.

The typical avocado we see and buy at the grocery store is the Hass Avocado. However, Hass, being the most popular variety state-side, is not the only one.

<- this Poster depicts the varieties easily found in Hawaii alone.

Here are just a few of the marvelous recipes I’ve tried and love, that feature this marvelous little fruit…

An absolute classic-everyone’s favorite (and most people don’t even know they’re eating an Avocado! ha!) The Barefoot Contessa’s Guac:

Guac

Yummmmm…Baked Avocado Salsa:

Av-Salsa

Sounds strange, but it’s pleasantly delightful! Basil, Peach and Avocado Wrap:

summer wrap

Mmm-Mmm scones…Avocado Scones:

Scones

 

How do you Fuel Your Day?! The Car-less Commuter’s Dilemma.

Alarm Clock             This bike- the Switch Bike-can be folded for convenience!

When the average automobile-owning person plans out his or her day, they may commit say 10 or 15 minutes to commute to work, school, or whatever else they have going on, and 10 or 15 minutes to commute back home in the evening. That “10 or 15 minutes” allows time for waking up at a reasonable time, making a nice breakfast with some coffee or tea, making a lunch and snack for the day, and any personal grooming efforts they deem necessary.

Now, imagine adding on anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes to that average automobile commute time. This new time frame, about 25 to 45 minutes, is the average biker’s commute. Suddenly, one must wake up a bit earlier, sacrifice that tasty nutritious meal for a quick bar, and forget the grooming efforts, for as soon as they step out the door and on to their bike for their morning commute, they are exposed to whatever elements the weather decides to throw their way; personal grooming will have to take place at the final destination, i.e. tack on about 10 or 15 more minutes to that originally altered time frame.

Now to get down to the question of nourishment; how much can one consume before this bike ride in order to a) have enough fuel to get to the final destination and b) to not curl over in stomach cramps or worse, toss your cookies? This is a question that each commuter must ask themselves and figure out on their own, because, let’s face it, each person’s body will react differently to different foods!

Berries and Yogurt  Banana Love

I personally have found that those terrible cramps and tossing of the cookies, are not all that fun especially when you have a long day of work or classes ahead of you. I discovered, however, that at about 150 to no more than 200 calories in the morning, I am capable of riding in comfort. I found that a Banana and a 100 calorie breakfast bar, or an Apple/Mixed Fruit with some non-fat Greek Yogurt, is the best option for me.

LUNA Fiber Bars

But then, I get hungry about two hours later. That’s where those snacks come in great handy. I enjoy noshing on Dry Roasted, Unsalted Almonds, Unsalted Pistachios, Luna Fiber Bars in Vanilla Blueberry, or-if I didn’t already have it before my ride-a Banana/Apple/Greek Yogurt. All of these make for great, nutritious snacks to tide me over until the lunch bell rings.

A few other great snacks that I was able to find online come from Shine.Yahoo.Com: http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/9-power-snacks-bridge-lunch-dinner-gap-183500736.html, and include foods such as Cottage Cheese, Hard Boiled Eggs, Turkey Slices (for the non-vegetarian) and Tuna (again, for the non-vegetarian).

Almond ButterEdamame

When it comes to lunch, I take great efforts to keep it minimal and yet filling, savory and yet low in fats, tasty and still nutritious. A few of my all-time favorites include a rice bowl consisting of 365’s Frozen Jasmine White Rice, Edamame, half an Avocado and Sliced Almonds, topped with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil; or if I’m feeling like a wrap, La Tortilla Factory’s Whole Wheat tortillas are my favorite, loaded with half an Avocado, a bit of Cheese or Nutritional Yeast, Baby Spinach or Mixed Greens, Sprouts, and some of LightLife’s Smart Veggie Crumbles toasted up with Cherry Tomatoes or Mushrooms and some light seasoning; another great way to enjoy a wrap is to load it with some Almond Butter (smooth or crunchy-I’m addicted to both!) Honey or Jam/Preserves (whichever you prefer) and a light toss of Granola or Grape Nuts adds the perfect crunch.

Snap Peas    Food Should Taste Good

Snack time! Everybody hits that late afternoon slump. And the best way to deal with it is to stand up, stretch your limbs high in the air, then low to the ground, take a short stroll and whip up a little snack. This is where fruits and veggies take delight in my mind. An apple, a banana, some carrots and celery, or fresh snap peas (my all time favorite!) always seem to do the trick! Sometimes, I’ll add some Almond Butter or Cheese to dip them in if I need something a bit more filling to fuel my ride home and get me through to the end of my day. Food Should Taste Good is another awesome brand that I truly admire. They have only natural, pronounceable ingredients and they live up to their name, they taste Good!

Sweet Tater Veggie Omelet

Chik'n Grillers

By the time I get back to my home, throw the door open, and feel the burst of Air Conditioning welcoming me to peace and comfort, I am typically either hot, sweaty, and in need of a nice shower, or cranky and hunger-stricken. Whichever strikes first is the one I go with! I love to steam up some veggies as my side to whatever meal I decide to create. Steamed Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Carrots, Green Beans, you name it, I love it! I have an awesome little pot by The Pampered Chef that allows me to pop the veggies-frozen or fresh-into the pot along with enough water to cover them, place the lid on the pot and pop it in the microwave for maybe 3 minutes, Presto! Perfectly steamed veggies. The main course-though admittedly I use some of those lunch meals as dinner meals-is typically soy-based or bean-based proteins. I love Morning Star’s Chicken Grillers, California Burgers, and Black Bean Burgers, as well as Gardein’s Chik’n Scallopini. I also have a love for Sweet Potatoes. A great way to dress them is with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, some Feta Cheese, and a light sprinkling of Sliced Almonds. I’m also a fan of breakfast-for-dinner! I love making egg or egg white omelets with an assortment of veggies and seasonings (sometimes I’ll mix egg and tofu or just make a tofu scramble for something a bit different). I’ll normally throw some whole wheat or pumpernickel toast on the side with some spinach or mixed greens.

Dark Choc Pomegrante   Three Twins Dark Choc Orange

And, of course, there’s always dessert! I grew up with a woman (my mom!) who’s an amazingly stupendous baker. Our house was never lacking in desserts. Because of it, our family is often asked how we stay so slim; the simple answer? We’re active and eat healthy portions. While my baking skills and energy aren’t quite as good as my mom’s, I still always have a bit of ice cream or dark chocolate lying around to conquer my taste buds.

What do you enjoy eating on busy/active/hectic days? Any commuter-vegetarians out there that have some tips for me or maybe awesome recipes to devour?!

Gone Climbing!

FitSugar announced about a month ago that they were looking for the best Outdoor Fitness Photos through InstaGram and, being that my personal favorite outdoor workout is Rock Climbing, I decided to enter a photo. I was shocked and excited to see that my picture was chosen for not only the slideshow, but also for the cover photo collage!! How Exciting!! Check it out here: FitSugar’s Outdoor Workout Pictures-A Breath of Fresh Air.

I thought I’d share a bit of my love of Climbing and few more cool pics taken at various Rock Climbing spots throughout the SouthEast, with you today.

Let the Sun Shine...

 

There’s a lot to be said about the appeal of climbing. Mostly though, it’s something that can only be experienced. Once you get started (usually on lighter climbs such as V0-V1 in bouldering and 5.6-5.7 in routes) it’s as if an agent is triggered in your brain and the addiction begins. You want so badly to challenge your body, make it to the next higher level of rock, and become stronger and more capable of enduring. It’s a very selfish, and very mental sport. You almost become one with the rock, as if you’re performing a yoga move and perfecting your stance. But who will conquer who? Finding out the answer is half the fun!

If you’re interested in getting your climb on, I encourage you to look into Indoor Climbing gyms. They’re located in most major cities these days, and give you a good idea of what level you’re at climbing wise, therefore allowing you to plan a stellar trip to some real rock in the future! Atlanta, GA, for instance, is hyped up for having a large facility that’s well equipped and well maintained: www.ssclimbing.com.

Indoor Climbing Gym

If you’re looking to just get outside and hit some rock right away (that’s how I learned, on the Boulder fields of TN!) check out your local Outfitter’s Shop, REI, or Dick’s Sporting Goods. They’ll have books and typically the employees will be knowledgable of the best climbing spots for you. If you happen to be in the SouthEast, check out the SouthEast Climber’s Coalition: www.seclimbers.org, or the American Alpine Clubwww.americanalpineclub.org. Both of which have plenty of information on the climbing areas and also support the maintaining of the beauty of nature.

 

So get out there and hit some rock! (And let me know where you go if you do, I love swapping climbing stories!)