Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Kickstart Your Vegan Diet

If you need help getting started with a vegan diet, here’s great news.  Some of the most well-informed, well-respected vegans in the country are pulling together their resources to bring you recipes, research, meal plans, and cooking tips.  It starts September 3 with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart.

I did the kickstart in April, and it was just what I needed.  It’s free and informative.  I tried new recipes and got to see what a healthy, plant-based, whole food diet looks like breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Check it out if you’ve been looking for an opportunity to get healthier or drop a few pounds.  You’ll be glad you did!


Fashion for the First Time–or, How do I buy clothes before I’ve lost those last 10 pounds

This post has nothing to do with being vegan or fit, except for the fact that after more than a year of trying to be both vegan and fit my weight has stabilized and I need to invest in new clothes.  I used to buy clothes whenever I lost weight, but I knew somewhere deep down that my weight loss was temporary so I never spent much money on them. Now, I have all these odds and ends pieces that have survived through the years.  Seriously, I have a sundress that I bought in 2001 to wear to a wedding when I dropped to 155 pounds for about 2 days.  (I know 155 sounds huge to some of you out there, but for me, it was my goal weight.)  I still have that dress and I still wear it occasionally.  It fits again and has for two years.  But, as you can imagine, I don’t always feel my best wearing an eleven-year old dress to work.

I have maintained a healthy weight for over two years now.  And, yeah, I’d still like to lose 10 or 15 more pounds, but I’m not sure if I will ever be disciplined enough to.  It’s time to invest in some clothes and quit making excuses.  That part, I’ve settled in my mind–I will buy clothes to fit the size I am right now.  The second part, what clothes?, is proving to be harder than I expected.

I need clothes that work for a soon-to-be-forty, minor executive.  I’m not that important, but I should dress in line with the important people I work with.This isn’t bad, but I doubt that I’d like wearing horizontal stripes.  I do like the mismatched patterns and the length of the skirt.  I would probably have to tone down the shoes and lose the ankle strap.  I would also like a splash of color.  I get sick of black pretty quick.  (I’m a redhead that doesn’t look good with black by my face.)  However, being a redhead means that I look like a cartoon character if I have too much color.This outfit is cute.  Again, I like the length of the skirt and the visual interest in the belt, but it’s too much color and too casual.  And, please, those shoes would look hideous on me.  (Can you say fat gladiator?)  The blouse isn’t very tailored either.  Of course, tailored isn’t always great.This, for example, is awful.  I couldn’t wear anything this straight in a million years.  I’d be pulling at the buttons to keep them from puckering and worrying constantly that muffin top would make an appearance above these low-rise slacks.  Unfortunately, when I shop for work clothes, this is what too many stores have to offer.This is better.  There’s room for boobs and hips under this dress, it has color but not busy-ness, and it manages to remain tailored and feminine.  The problem is that it’s boring.  This reflects no personal style or flare.  It’s plain.  Maybe I could throw a jacket over it and switch out the belt, but that’s part of my problem.  If I were to buy a dress like this I’d have just what I have now–a piece of a pulled together look, but not the whole thing.

Well, I haven’t solved anything in this post, but thanks for letting me talk it out some.  If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them.  If you have pictures, I’d love to see them.  I really need ideas.  (And, remember, I live in South Carolina so it’s as hot as armpits around here and pretty conservative.  I can’t get too fancy or too layered.)

So True

If only I were taller…

EasyVegan Stuffed Mushrooms

Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm.

You’ll also need a pound of mushroom caps and a cup of almonds (or pine nuts if you’re independently wealthy.)

Blend it all in a food processor.

Fill and bake at 350 until heated through, about 35 minutes.

There they are on the top of the plate. Delicious!

EasyVegan Stuffed Mushrooms

1 cup of slivered almonds

1 cup of fresh basil

the juice of one lemon

1 tablespoon of miso

1 pound of mushrooms ( I used baby bellas.)

Wash mushrooms and remove the stems.  Set aside.  Combine all other ingredients in a food processor and blend until well mixed.  Spoon into mushroom caps and place in baking dish.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until heated throughout.  Serve warm!

I adapted this recipe from Forks Over Knives to fit the ingredients I happen to have in my kitchen at the time.  I think it’s one of those that you just can’t mess up.  Remember, good ingredients = good food.

NPR Breaks Down What Meat Consumption Costs the Economy

03:03 am

by Eliza Barclay

June 27, 2012

As Allison Aubrey and Dan Charles reported today on Morning Edition, meat has more of an impact on the environment than any other food we eat. That’s because livestock require so much more food, water, land, and energy than plants to raise and transport. (Listen to the audio above for their conversation with Morning Edition’s Linda Wertheimer.)

Take a look here at what goes into just one quarter-pound of hamburger meat. (Mobile users: To see the images, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “View Non-Mobile Version Of This Story.”)

What It Takes To Make A Quarter-Pound Hamburger

Burger resources

Source: J.L. Capper, Journal of Animal Science, July, 2011.

Credit: Producers: Eliza Barclay, Jessica Stoller-Conrad; Designer: Kevin Uhrmacher/NPR

 And that’s not even including the animal’s waste or the methane emissions from its digestion.

But there are fewer cows around than there were in the 1970s.

Cattle inventory, in millions

Cattle inventory

Source: Earth Policy Institute

Credit: Angela Wong / NPR

In the meantime, though, farmers and scientists have found ways to get more meat out of every cow. So even though cattle inventory has dropped, the U.S. is still producing more beef now than in the 1970s.

Average dressed weight of cattle (what’s used for meat), in pounds

Average dressed weight

Source: USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service

Credit: Kevin Uhrmacher / NPR

And if you look at the last century, meat consumption overall in the U.S. has risen dramatically. It’s only in the last few years that it has begun to drop a bit.

U.S. total meat consumption, in billion pounds

U.S. total meat consumption, in billion pounds

Source: Earth Policy Institute

Credit: Angela Wong / NPR

Though meat consumption in the U.S. has dropped off slightly in recent years, at 270.7 pounds per person a year, we still eat more meat per person here than in almost any other country on the planet. Only the Luxumbourgers eat more meat than we do.

Meat Consumption, 2007


Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2010, Livestock and Fish Primary Equivalent, 02 June 2010, FAOSTAT on-line statistical service, FAO, Rome

As U.S. beef consumption began to decline in the 1970s, poultry began to rise quickly. A couple of years ago, chicken surpassed beef as our no. 1 meat of choice. Our consumption of pork has also risen slightly over the years.

U.S. meat consumption per person, in pounds

U.S. meat consumption per person, in pounds

Source: Earth Policy Institute

Credit: Angela Wong / NPR

NPR: Your Self-Control Can Be Depleted

What Your Brain Looks Like When You Lose Self-Control

June 22, 2012

[The following is a conversation with a researcher who has proved what I’ve always known to be true–there is a limit to my willpower.] 

Ever wonder why you worked so hard to avoid the lasagna at dinner only to give in to your craving for not one but two helpings of cake for dessert? Well, new research may hold some answers to this vexing question. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology confirms what we’ve been – what we’ve known for some time, and that is each of us has an internal reservoir of self-control. We have a reservoir of self-control that it depletes. Every time we resist a temptation, we use a little bit of it up.

But for the first time, researchers have taken pictures of the brain to show what was happening when a person exerts and then loses self-control. Dr. William Hedgcock was a co-author of the study. He is a neuroscientist and assistant professor of marketing at the University of Iowa. He joins us from Denver. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

DR. WILLIAM HEDGCOCK: Oh, thanks for having me.

FLATOW: Well, first, let me back up a bit because I think it would be surprising to most people to learn that we actually have a reservoir of self-control.

HEDGCOCK: Sure. So this is a theory called regulatory resource depletion. And like you said, when people exert self-control, what we see is people have a hard time exerting self-control later, so this idea of one resource may be, you know, not intuitive. But I think most of us have had this sort of experience where you exert self-control at one point and then end up succumbing to temptation later.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. And where is that center of self-control?

HEDGCOCK: Well, what we’re finding is that the center seems to be the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, so it’s an area that’s sort of near the temple and underneath the temple of your head.

FLATOW: Hmm. And how do we know that that’s where it is?

HEDGCOCK: Well, so we ran an fMRI study where we had subjects come into the scanner. They first exerted self-control, and we saw them having activation in areas like the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. And this is what, you know, we would have expected. Then we had them exert self-control later on a subsequent task, and we saw less activity in this dorsolateral prefrontal cortex area.

FLATOW: So it had been depleted in – some of their self control was gone.

HEDGCOCK: Yeah. So we saw behaviorally that they had less self-control, and that seemed to be correlated with the fact they had less activity in that area.

FLATOW: Now, is the reservoir a reservoir of chemicals? Is it a reservoir of neurons? What exactly is the reservoir?

HEDGCOCK: So we don’t really know that yet. We do know that there’s less activity in that area. It seems unlikely that it’s a neurotransmitter, for instance, but we would need some follow-up studies to find out exactly why is it less active there.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. And what kind of test do you do when you test people for their self-control? Do you put pie in front of them and say, you can only have one bite or what?

HEDGCOCK: Well, that certainly – some people do that. So we’ll put people in front of brownies or something and then see later, would they like to choose brownies versus a healthy snack or – also, we test them on things like, will they perform well on a cognitive task. But in the scanner, we couldn’t do that. It’s difficult to, you know, put a pie next to a person in the scanner.


HEDGCOCK: So what we did was something a little bit more sterile than that. We had them look at a fixation point on a screen, and we flash words underneath the fixation. And the words would move around and – but they’re very close to the fixation. We told subjects to ignore them and definitely not read them, but this was difficult or, for the most part, impossible for subjects to do. So it required self-control on their part to not read the words.

FLATOW: Don’t think of pink elephants.

HEDGCOCK: Yeah. Well, so that’s another version of – or another way to manipulate self-control. You could have them not think about elephants, which is difficult to do once we mention it to you.

FLATOW: Right. 1-800-989-8255. Talking with Dr. William Hedgcock about exerting self-control. And so can you actually tell at the moment by looking at the scan when, uh-oh, they’ve lost their self-control?

HEDGCOCK: Well, what we saw was sort of a gradual depletion over time. We didn’t see a particular timeframe. And by the way, our subjects sometimes were able to exert self-control later. It’s not like they completely lost it. They were just less able. They just occasionally would succumb to temptation more frequently than when they were not depleted.

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