Submitted on June 12, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s large-size soda ban may be a running start to break the ice in tackling America’s obesity crisis.

In an effort to curb the ever-soaring obesity rates–in New York City, about 58% of adults overweight or obese and 21.3% of children obese (according to the NYC Obesity Task Force Plan)–the ban would limit all sugary soft drinks to 16oz. in restaurants, movie theaters and street carts. (It would not apply to convenience or grocery stores.)

While many see the ban as a “nanny” government’s restrictive and liberty-binding act which doesn’t pinpoint the root of the problem (as seen in the comic below), there are many reasons why the ban is effective, specifically because it targets what seems a “lesser” issue initially.

Criticism against the soda ban

First of all, Bloomberg’s ban is an act that finally follows through on copious “obesity talk” in government and finds a more subtle way to introduce legislative changes.

Some argue that instead of forcing people to change their habits, we should be educating them in order to help them make amendments themselves. However, limiting one’s soda intake–a form of portion control–could be seen as exactly that. After all, experiential learning has been shown to be most effective in certain circumstances: people find they are just as satiated with a smaller quantity. It has been shown that people generally follow the serving size suggested, and that is what is being moderated, not one’s liberty to choose. A drop in percentage of soda consumption can not only be reflected onto one’s plate (smaller portions of food) but also increase people’s water intake.

Another criticism the ban has received is that it is not the government’s job to tell people what they should or shouldn’t drink. However, the government is not legislating what or how much people can drink, it is simply creating a standard. Also, the government is responsible to a certain extent because of the cost of obesity. According to CNN, “America spends as much as $147 billion annually on the direct and indirect costs of obesity. In the year of the most recent CDC study, 2006, that made up 9.1 percent of medical spending.” Where do tax-payers dollars go?

Informative and stark truth advertisements in favor of the large-size soda ban

In conjunction with Bloomberg’s large-size soda ban advertisements (like the one seen above), the implementation of smaller standard drinks also brings up public questions on health, making us more conscious of the risks of our dietary choices. Perhaps we won’t be so quick to pick the pop next time.

This may not be the cure for our colossal problem, but it surely is a strong first step.

Other articles which provide a lot of great information are as follows:


New York Times — Obesity Ills That Won’t Budge Fuel Soda Battle by Bloomberg

PBS News Hour — Bloomberg Could Buy the World a Coke, but He’d Make it a Small

Pursue Natural — War on obesity and diabetes by reducing intake of drinks with sugar to 16oz in New York City


Finishing a good run is exhilaration.

In fact, having just arrived back from one, I feel renewed, empowered, and charged with positive energy. Proven to be an excellent outlet for stubborn frustration, exercise lets you sweat out the negativity and testifies to your ability to go forth with purpose.

A decision I’ve found invaluable is giving up earphones. Find fulfillment in the environment, run to your own beat, be part of the surrounding, and use your own internal reserves of motivation to propel you rather than depending on external sources.

Of course, music can be great, but give independence a chance and you’ll find the most rewarding feeling of self-sufficiency!

So discover reward in hard work, in the discipline to do what will end in well-earned triumph.

Beet this Refined Delectability

In return for the many love and effort-filled meals that my mother has procured for family over the years, I decided a good Mother’s Day gift would be a healthily tasty–or tastily healthy–meal that we could savor and receive a gust of natural energy from. Beets were in the fridge and I remembered a recipe from a wonderful French cookbook (excellent gift)–Swinging French Jazz Bistro Favorite Parisian Bistro Recipes.

To be honest, beets were not my biggest allurers in the vegetable inventory, but I thought “Why not?” and why not was right! Here are some health incentives that will appeal to logos (your sense of logic) and then I’ll move on to the taste bud attraction. First of all, beets are very nutritious, yet low-calorie, bundles of sweetness. Having this sweet taste, they provide us with surges of energy and are fortunately very easy and very cheap! They can be bought for about $2 a pound and don’t even need to be cooked. An un-beet-able source of magnesium, calcium, iron, phospherous, fiber, and Vitamins A & C, beets also contain folic acid (pivotal for health of pregnant women) which is important for the creation and maintenance of new cells. (Give up those supplements and let nature be the one to supply you!) And, of course, the color of beets isn’t only a feast for the eyes but also for the health of our bodies. Betacyanin, which gives beets their striking red, is said to fight cancer, especially that of the colon.

So without further ado, let’s give the tongue a turn or two. The recipe is called “Roast Beet and Mâche Salad with Haricots Verts, Leeks, and Walnut Vinaigrette” and I have copied it from the Bistro cookbook (for which there is a link above!) along with my own pictures.

My Final Subject of Pride!


4 or 5 beets, depending on how large they are                                                                       2 tablespoons vegetable oil                                                                                                     4 fresh thyme sprigs (or powdered thyme)                                                                             4 ounces (125g) haricots verts or baby Blue Lake green beans (I actually used asparagus), chopped into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces

-For the Vinaigrette-                                                                                                              1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60mL) sherry wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)                                      1 teaspoon Dijon mustard                                                                                                     3/4 cup (6fl. oz./180mL) grapeseed or canola oil                                                                1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60mL) cold-pressed walnut oil (I just used regular walnut oil)                Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 leeks, white part only (I used the white part of Vidalia onions)                                             4 ounces (125g) mâche (lamb’s lettuce) or frisée (curly endive) (I just used lettuce 🙂         2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped and toasted (I prefer a handful which I toast on a pan with a little bit of oil – yumm!)                                                                                                          4 ounces (125g) goat cheese, cut into slivers (I say put as much or little as you like)


Preheat oven to 375 °F (190 °C). In a large bowl, toss the beets with the oil. Separately wrap each beet and a sprig of thyme in a square of aluminum foil. (Or you can sprinkle the beet with powdered thyme – a little easier) Roast in the preheated oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the beets are tender when pierced with a knife. Unwrap and let cool.

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the green beans for 5 to 10 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Using a slotted spoon or a wire-mesh skimmer (spoon with holes), transfer the beans to a bowl of cold water. Drain and set aside. In the boiling bean water, cook the leeks for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and let cool.

To make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar and mustard together. Gradually whisk in the oils until emulsified (completely mixed). Season with salt and pepper.

Peel the beets. Using a sharp knife or mandoline, thinly slice the beets and arrange the slices to cover 4 salad plates. Brush the beets with vinaigrette. (This part makes you feel really sophisticated!) In 2 medium bowls, toss the green beans and leeks separately with the remaining vinaigrette. Arrange the green beans on top of the beets and top them with a mound of leeks.

Add bouquet of lettuce in the center. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts and garnish with slivers of goat cheese. Serve and savor!

Makes 4 servings

P.S. For me, there was a good amount of vinaigrette left over because it is only used for brushing and soaking (of the dish ingredients), so make sure to use it for a salad afterwards.

Branning it Up!!!

Amidst all the carrot soup, zucchini and salads, who doesn’t want a little treat? Well, here’s a perk of moist deliciousness which can accompany a healthy meal and bring along its own virtues as well!

Rich with dietary fiber, potassium, iron, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin, wheat bran is a great way to satiate and satisfy. As a fiber powersource, wheat bran aids digestion and has been found to regulate blood sugar, beneficial in reducing the risk of diabetes.

So, without further ado, let’s get cooking!

Ingredients ~~~

– 3 cups unprocessed wheat bran (I usually use Hodgson Mill)                                              – 1 cup boiling water                                                                                                                 – 1 cup brown sugar                                                                                                                 – 1/2 cup butter                                                                                                                         – 2 & 1/2 cups flour (use whole wheat if you can!)                                                                  – 2 tsp. baking soda                                                                                                                  – 1 tsp. salt                                                                                                                               – 2 eggs, beaten                                                                                                                       – 2 cups buttermilk                                                                                                                   – raisins! (as many as suit your fancy – I would highly recommend them)

Mixing dry bran with other ingredients...

Mixed ingredients

Mix 1 cup wheat bran with 1 cup boiling water; stir and let water absorb into bran.              In a separate bowl blend sugar and butter.                                                                             Measure and combine flour, baking soda and salt.                                                                Combine the moist bran with beaten eggs, the remaining 2 cups of bran, buttermilk, blended sugar-butter mixture, and flour, soda and salt mixture.                                            Stir well until blended. (Wisking is always enjoyable!)

When preparing to bake, preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).                                                  Stir batter well and spoon into prepared (buttered – this makes the muffins easier to take out once they’re done) muffin tins.                                                                                    Bake 15 minutes.                                                                                                                     Serve and enjoy!! (I, personally, love to cut them through their middle and sandwich a thin piece of melting butter in between.)

(Yield – 2 dozen muffins)

Fibrous delectability!

Since you do want them warm, fortunately the batter is refridgerate-able for up to about a week, so just seal it in an airtight container and keep it safe.

Recipe taken from the back of a Hodgson Mill Unprocessed Wheat Bran (Millers Bran) box! (Read boxes, you might find treasures…)

Regular exercise increase…


Regular exercise increases glycogen storage in both muscles and the brain, where it helps to fuel neurons. The gains were most dramatic in brain areas critical to learning and memory, a recent rat study showed.

Scientific American Mind‘s GET SMART

Cutting ↓ Puts You a Cut ↑

Having previously gotten into a discussion with a fellow blogger, Pursue Natural, on the importance of moderation, I decided to make a post on this topic in which I will include some great cultural sayings which promote this vital health practice.

So, cutting down puts you a cut above! Yes, it is true that eating too little or dieting (which can sometimes be an abandonment of food altogether) is certainly unhealthy and not advisable! However, it is important for us to listen to the biological signs of our bodies and recognize when we are no longer hungry. In chapter 46 of journalist Michael Pollan‘s Food Rules, I found quite a few cultural sayings like “You need to tie off the sack before it gets completely full,” (German) and “hara hachi bu” – (Japanese for “people should stop eating when they are 80% full”) which advise us to quit the downing when our stomachs are no longer growling.

A few other examples: “The Ayurvedic tradition in India advises eating until you are 75% full; the Chinese specify 70% percent, and the prophet Muhammad described a full belly as one that contains 1/3 food and 1/3 liquid–and 1/3 air, i.e., nothing.” (quoted from Pollan’s Food Rules) Like the French, the Spanish also say “Tengo hambre” (“I have hunger”) and “Ya no tengo hambre” (“I no longer have hunger”) to express “I’m hungry” and “I’m full.” So maybe this is a good way to think of it; after all, we feel less inhibited by a content stomach than an overloaded one.

Ellie Krieger also explores some great tips in an article called Get Wise About Serving Size which include using smaller plates–making us cut down without even realizing it; maximizing our veggies–which fill our stomachs more than meats and oils do, especially with healthy nutrients; and “going easy on the helpings.” A family tradition which I also find very beneficial (and which I was happily surprised to find among Krieger’s tips) is a first course of vegetable purée soup. Just cook some cut-up vegetables in a little olive oil, water, and broth (bouillion works as well) and purée them in a blender/Thermomix/Vitamix. The soup tastes great and lets you go lighter on the main meal! (Some of my favorites are zucchini-squash-basil, carrot-ginger, and asparagus-almond.)

Not only is cutting down a simple way of moderating our quantities to what we actually need, but it also allows us to spend wisely on more quality and less quantity. As the French say, the best bite is the first!

Sugar? A toxin?

Obviously, we know that sweets aren’t really meant to be the central staple of our diets. (If we did, things like birthday cake wouldn’t be such a guilty pleasure.) However, it is impressive just how little we actually know about the elusive substance sugar. On a TV program called 60 Minutes, Sanjay Gupta presented a segment (April 1st, 2012) on the dangers of sugar which highlighted its effects on our bodies and our bodies’ inevitable attraction to it.

According to Doctor Robert Lustig, sugar, especially in the amounts of which we are consuming it, is a major cause of many common diseases like heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. Doctor Lewis Cantley, Professor at Harvard’s Medical School, has also begun to make connections between sugar consumption and cancer. Basically, eating/drinking sugar causes a spike in our insulin levels (a hormone) which has now been found to trigger the growth of certain cancer cells. Glucose (sugar) is usually consumed by our muscles or other tissues, but cancer cells can be signaled by insulin to start consuming the glucose instead. What happens next? These cells grow.

But the problem with our relationship to sugar is that we not only find it hard to identify, or just eat it without identifying it, but we also can easily become addicted to it. We love it.

Actually, we have biologically evolved to love it for the energy it gives us and because it used to be found only in fruits which provide a bunch of other nutrients. If you think about it, though, you wouldn’t eat three apples at a time on top of a full lunch. But that’s about the amount of sugar you drink when having a 20oz coke. Take note: not all calories are equal. In this case, you’d be getting a lot more nutrients from three apples than from a 20oz coke of pure sweet. Sweet for your tongue, maybe, but not for your body.

Also, in a lot of today’s processed foods, sugar substitutes like high fructose corn syrup have replaced a lot of the sugar that used to be in them which isn’t so favorable to the health-conscious eye. Replacing a lot of the society’s bad-mouthed fat, sugar now shows up secretively in a whole host of “food” products (or, as journalist Michael Pollan likes to say, “edible food-like substances”) which make common cereals and lunch snacks not unlike candies and cookies.

Addiction plays a major role in the U.S.’ love affair with sugar. Just like any drug, alcohol and smoking included, sugar has us around its little finger. We jump at the sight of it, and our brains jump at its arrival. In fact, as Sanjay Gupta’s brain itself demonstrated in an MRI Scanner, dopamine (a chemical in the brain which signals reward) is released when we eat sugar, making us feel pleasure at its taste and making us want more.

And of course, as humans, we like instant gratification. So we eat more and more and more… Until now, where the average American consumes about a third of a pound per day (about 130 pounds per year) of calories which derive from sugar! Sound healthy? No! What’s worse is when we eat so much sugar that we soon build a tolerance to it which makes us eat ever more to reach the same level of pleasure. Same with drugs and alcohol.

One motto that I adopted from journalist Michael Pollan is the SSSSS rule – small amounts of sugar and snacks on Saturdays and Sundays. In other words, sweets in moderation. Once I embraced this, I won both ways. First of all and most importantly, I take better care of myself and treat my body well! Second of all, sugar tastes a lot more sweet and a lot more special when eaten on special occasions.

Think of it this way, when someone has put love and effort into a homemade, natural sweet, there’s nothing that will beat! As the French say, the best bite is the first. Let’s go quality, not quantity.

Diet, the noun, not the verb!

In a sense, dieting is like bad meditation. In meditation, if we attempt to think of nothing by telling ourselves, “Don’t think about that paperwork, forget about that e-mail, stop pondering that argument!” there’s no way we will get anywhere near forgetting any of those things. Similarly, when we diet, all we do is think about the junk we need to not eat. What kind of methodology is that!?

Instead of focusing on the bad, why not focus on the goodGive to yourself. Be generous to your body. Let your mind wander to the aisles of baby squash and broccoli. Delicious apples and rutabaga. Try something new everytime and indulge yourself to a tasty meal, both for your tongue and the rest of your body!

In other words, embrace a healthy diet (the noun), don’t diet (the verb).

(Picture taken from Spiritual Enthusiast Cosmic Journal blog)

Avocado Oficionado

Some of us may think that we should only eat foods that are high in nutrients and low in calories–foods that are at the top of the ANDI Score heap! However, this is a problem that “yo-yo dieters” often have. If we don’t get enough fat or calories, we just end up in another binge cycle. Now that doesn’t mean you should swing by McDonald’s. There are plenty of healthy foods with healthy fats and sufficient fulfilling calories! “An example?” you may ask. The avocado!

Avocados have been found to destroy cancerous and pre-cancerous oral cancer cells (without harming healthy ones), protect against breast cancer (high in oleic acid), help maintain eye health (their carotenoid lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts), lower your cholesterol, keep a heart from breaking (folate, monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and glutathione), help reduce your risk of a stroke (also because of folate), and, when eaten with other food, help you absorb nutrients like a sponge!

Here’s a great salad recipe with avocado in it!

I especially like what’s right above the Killer Kale Pesto recipe!

in pursuit of more

There’s just something about the promise of Spring.

Oh heavens!

The sun came out yesterday, and it seems, decided to stay for a while (the forecast is clear for at least another day).

Insert multiple smiley face emoticons here!!

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.

– Helen Keller

It’s safe to say it’s been a (very) welcome change and the views of the twinkling snow capped mountains are particularly breathtaking. Yesterday was the day that I just knew spring had come knocking here in these parts:

  • the larks have come singing
  • the daylight has come to linger for a (just a little) while longer
  • I nearly injured myself in my hustle to peel my boots and thick tights off to get outside.

Craving the fresh air and the outdoors after work, I hurled myself outside to enjoy the remaining glorious daylight, the bustle of…

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