Monthly Archives

November 2013

Book Reviews

Book Review: Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy

November 23, 2013

A few years ago when I was looking for a simple, straightforward book about healthy eating, I came across Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy by Walter Willett. I’m so glad that I did. This book is filled with solid advice based on tons of peer-reviewed scientific research. And if you care about credentials, which you should when it comes to your health, Willett’s are top notch. He’s not your next-door neighbor who lost 30 pounds by going on a cabbage diet, and then decided to write a weight loss book. He’s chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and a professor of epidemiology with an MD and a DrPH (doctor of public health).

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy

This book gives it to you straight, talking about the things we do and don’t need for our body to function optimally. In the first chapter, Willett states that a healthy diet, regular exercise, and not smoking can eliminate 80 percent of the cases of heart disease in the US and the majority of cancer cases. Think about that for a second. That’s huge! This is empowering because these are factors that we have some control over.

Key points from the book:

  • You weigh what you weigh because of your diet, your genes, your lifestyle, and your culture.
  • Where you store fat can affect your risk for certain diseases. Fat around the chest and waist may be more problematic than fat around the hips and thighs.
  • Learn to be a defensive eater (e.g. slow down when you’re eating, practice putting the fork down before you feel stuffed, and against your parent’s warnings spoil your appetite before meals – you may end up eating less).
  • When in doubt go Mediterranean (plenty of veggies, moderate amounts of whole grains, and minimal red meat)
  • Not all fats are created equally. Some fats are better for you (e.g. monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), while some fats are bad for you (e.g. saturated and trans fat).
    • Slight Tangent: Food products that contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat are allowed to list their trans fat content as 0 on nutrition labels. Sneaky bastards, right?
    • Tip: Check the ingredients on the label and look for “partially hydrogenated oils.” These are the primary sources of trans fat in our diets. If you see it listed, drop the item, and slowly back away.
    • Good news: The FDA is currently considering banning partially hydrogenated oils from food. Until then though, check the labels!
    • Tangent Over
Avoid the refined, snooty carbs. You want your carbs unpolished because these types offer more fiber and nutrients, and have been linked to a lower risk for many diseases including heart disease and diabetes.

Eat the rainbow when it comes to fruits and vegetables. More colors mean more nutrients.

For anyone wanting to know about the basics of healthy eating, I highly recommend this book. It contains a lot of useful information on everything from nut consumption to choosing a multivitamin. At the end it also has a list of several healthy recipes to try.

You can get it from Amazon or check it out from your local library. Let me know if this review was particularly helpful and I’ll try to do more of them. Enjoy your weekend!


Culinary Pursuits: Bowlful of Veggie Goodness

November 11, 2013

Despite the name, this one does have meat! However, the veggies are inarguably the star of this dish. It is so good. There’ll be leftovers so this would make a great lunch for the entire week.

12 ounce bag of green beans (steam in bag, Walmart)
12 ounce bag of broccoli and cauliflower (steam in bag, Walmart)
1 medium sized squash
3 sweet potatoes
8 ounce container of spinach
4 chicken sausage links
Crumbled goat cheese to sprinkle on top
Seasoning: lemon pepper, ground rosemary, and Italian seasoning
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Slice three sweet potatoes (see picture above for how I sliced mine).
Toss with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and ground cinnamon.
Cook sweet potatoes for 40-50 minutes. Check periodically and spray them with extra virgin olive oil spray or non-stick canola oil midway through cooking to keep them from getting dry.
Slice squash and toss in one tablespoon of olive oil (see picture for how I sliced mine).
Season squash with lemon pepper, ground rosemary, and Italian seasoning.
Put squash in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Microwave broccoli and cauliflower according to package instructions.
Microwave green beans according to package instructions.
Season the broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans with the same seasonings used for the squash and add them to the oven on top of the squash to let them finish cooking. The squash had been cooking for ~13 minutes by this time.
Let the vegetables cook for another 10-15 minutes. 
While your veggies are in the oven, cook your spinach on medium heat until they wilt (~2-3 minutes). Chop sausage links and add them to the cooked spinach and let cook at medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side.
Once everything is done cooking, assemble.
If you don’t care about presentation, then you can just throw a little bit of everything in the bowl, add some goat cheese on top and enjoy.
If you want to capture this lovely meal for Instagram, then do this: Add your broccoli, cauliflower, and squash first, add sweet potatoes around the rim. Put your sausage and spinach on top and sprinkle on some goat cheese. 
You’ve practiced incredible restraint so far…enjoy!

Birthday Blues

November 7, 2013

Yesterday was my birthday! I decided to wake up at 6:30 and go for a walk around my neighborhood. I wanted to reflect on the past year, thank God for allowing me to see another one, and make some promises to myself. I think I may make that a yearly thing because it was so nice to have that time to myself to appreciate my life.

I felt like switching things up a bit, so I opted for a bold blue lipstick and my sister did this dramatic cat eye for me.
Blazer, Pants, & Heels: Forever 21, Top: Lizard Thicket, Necklace: Target, Purse: American Threads, Watch: Asos, Earrings: Aldo’s

I ended up spending the day with my mom and sisters. Very rarely are we all together so it was really nice to be surrounded by family. We went shopping, ate cupcakes (and macaroons), talked about everything imaginable, and had an amazing dinner.

Bottom left: Apple Harvest cupcake with apple cinnamon and butter creme frosting…soooo good! Top right: red velvet and caramel apple macaroons…very yummy!

Now when I say dinner was amazing, I mean it was AMAZING! Everything we ate from the special chef’s treat, to the appetizers, entrees, and dessert, was fabulous.

Cranberry green apple chutney over a sweet potato biscuit with a cinnamon honey drizzle…perfection!
Fall vegetarian risotto with sweet potato hash, goat cheese, and some kind of chutney…amazing!
Granny smith caramel apple spring rolls with bourbon burnt sugar ice cream…mind blowing!

Beyond the food, our server was exceptional too. Usually I find servers to either be too intrusive, checking up on you every two seconds or basically MIA after they’ve taken your order. Our waiter was spot on. A part from the great service, he pronounced our last name correctly on the first try. Now you’re probably thinking, so what’s the big deal? The big deal is that my last name is incredibly difficult to say. I’ve seen people break a sweat and start trembling when they have to attempt saying it. For him, it just rolled off his tongue with such ease. My mom, sisters and I all kind of looked at each other in amazement. We were thoroughly impressed. We made sure to communicate our satisfaction with the manager. It was the best dining experience I’ve ever had. Happy birthday to me!

I stayed up until after 1 because I wanted to relish every minute of my birthday possible. It only comes but once a year. I had such a great day and I’m so blessed to have some amazing people in my life. I hope you all are having a great week!