Archive for August, 2012

Iron Maiden

August 14, 2012

Lately, I have been feeling exhausted. I have attributed it to everything from not sleeping well, the weather, over training, and just plain having too much to do.
Seeking a more tangible cure, I looked at my diet, which often holds the solution to my ails. Could I be anemic? I don’t eat red meat, and my spinach intake is not of Popeye proportions. I avoid gluten, which makes me sluggish, therefore I don’t eat iron fortified breads or cereals.  I could be onto something.

I immediately consulted Dr. Google, and who served up a list of iron rich foods.

There are definitely some pleasant surprises for those of us for whom eating liver is not an option!

While meat has the highest amount and easiest absorbed source of iron, there are many other healthy choices that I find more palatable.

Fish: Salmon, halibut, perch and tuna are all very high in heme or animal based iron, which is most readily absorbed by the body. Clams, oysters and mussels are also good sources, but I find them too slimy for my taste!

Beans: Canned Lima beans, kidney beans, chickpeas or split peas are all good options. Be sure to rinse them, to reduce the starchiness, and the calories.

Tofu

Pumpkin or sesame seeds

Baked potatoes

Broccoli

Sundried Tomatoes

Nuts: Peanuts, pecans, walnuts, pistachio, almonds, and cashews

Dried fruits: Raisins, apricots, peaches or prunes (do I sense a trail mix or homemade granola thing evolving here?)

Cocoa powder and chocolate

Dried Herbs:

The drying of fruits and vegetables ups the iron factor, topping its fresh counterpart dramatically. By removing the water, the nutrients are increased, as are the sugars and calories. Beware!

Food pairings are also an important factor in helping your body actually absorb the iron.

 Iron Enhancers:

Fruit and fruit juices, such as orange juice, cantaloupe, and strawberries

Vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes and red or green peppers

White wine

Iron Inhibitors:

Red wine, coffee and tea (boo!)

Spinach, chard, beet greens and sweet potatoes (spinach?!) Apparently, these foods contain high levels of oxalic acids, which prevent the absorption of iron into the system. Who knew?

Whole grains and bran

Now that I know my diet is not to blame for being tired, its time to look at other factors. Perhaps powering down the computer might help me get a better night’s sleep?

photo:Glasshouse Images

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Boy Scouts: Placing a Caveat on Family Values

August 10, 2012

The Boy Scouts has been an institution in American life for decades. Many boys have worked through the ranks of Scouts, earning badges, taking oaths and gaining life skills. The group, which strives to produce responsible, morally upstanding young men, also has an anti-gay policy.

It is absurd to think that a group dedicated to teaching integrity, teamwork and leadership, would choose to be so closed minded and exclusive.

Recently, a group of adult Eagle Scouts, the highest and most prestigious rank in Scouting, has renounced the organization by returning their much-coveted award.

On the Tumblr site appropriately named “ Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges”, letters to the Boy Scouts of America are featured in protest of their discriminatory policies.

One former Eagle Scout so eloquently refers to his hard earned medal as “…a faded, tarnished symbol of outdated thinking, prejudice and intolerance.”

I have proudly attended the Eagle Scout ceremonies of my nephews, and celebrated their accomplishments in achieving a rank that only a small percentage has the tenacity and drive to reach.  While I commend their achievements, it hard to support an organization whose values are so misguided.

The Scouts speak of being reverent, loyal and brave.

To be reverent, is to show respect. We should be teaching our children to respect others, regardless of their religion or sexual orientation. To be loyal, is to be supportive of your friends, regardless of your differences. To be brave is to stand up for your beliefs, even if they challenge the status quo. Sadly, The Boy Scouts of America are not teaching the values they stand for, when there are caveats attached.

Someday, our grandchildren will look back at this period of establishing gay rights with the shame we feel when we think about our ancestors forcing blacks to sit in the back of the bus, or prohibiting women from voting.

Our country was founded on the principles of freedom and equality. It is a shame that one of the groups synonymous with American family values would hold onto outdated notions of discrimination.

photo: Glasshouse Images 

Shower Power

August 8, 2012

 

Last weekend, we hosted a baby shower for two very special people.

Of course, everything had to be homemade. And of course we had WAY too much food!

It’s hard to approximate how much to prepare for 50 people. Now we know it’s nearly half of the quantity we thought we needed. ( more on this to follow!)

The guests knew they had arrived at the right place, when they saw our chalk art on the sidewalk outside:

The decorations were simple:

We stretched a clothesline on a big, blank wall behind the dining room table. Using mini clothespins, we hung a variety of baby clothes on the line. It was festive and useful, and the parents-to-be took home all of the items for their newborn.

On the coffee table, wooden blocks spelled out the baby’s name, surrounded with vases of daisies.

A good time was had by all, and the new parents got lots of great things for their little boy! ( the pillow was handmade by B!)

Mostly, it was all about the food…tons and tons of food!

There were two serving areas, each with a variety of items. On the dining room table, was a continental breakfast, featuring muffins, coffee cakes, and bagels, as well as fruit, yogurt and homemade granola.

The buffet was set with luncheon salads.

Later, we put out dessert.

A great time was had by all, and the happy couple went home with lots of wonderful things for their baby boy. We can’t wait to meet him in early October!

Here are some of the dishes we served:

Blueberry and Raspberry Muffins and Pumpkin Pecan Mini Muffins

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Crumble

Lemon Yogurt Loaf Cake

Homemade granola

Luncheon Salads:

Chinese Chicken Salad with Soy Peanut Dressing (recipe here)

Kale Salad with Mint, Edamame and Cranberries in Lemon Herb Vinaigrette ( note to self: don’t do this one for a crowd ever again! recipe here)

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries, Oranges, Grapes and Pecans.

Just of few of the desserts:

Lemon Shortbread Bars

Marbled Cheesecake Brownies

Pecan Pie Bars

A good time was had by all! We can’t wait to meet you Landon!

Photos: Spencer Jones / Glasshouse Images shot exclusively for indigo jones

Unrecipe of the Week

August 7, 2012

This wild rice salad is a refreshing summer side dish, that can be made in advance and served at room temperature.

It is filled with juicy oranges, dried cranberries, green grapes and toasted pecans and tossed with a tangy raspberry vinaigrette.

Wild Rice Salad with Fruit and Pecans:

Cook 1 cup of wild rice in 4 cups of salted boiling water and simmer until tneder, about  50 minutes.

Cook 1 cup of brown rice in 2 cups of boiling salted water  until  tender, about 45 minutes

Drain, and mix the rice together in a large bowl.

For the dressing, whisk together about 1/4 cup each of olive oil, orange juice and raspberry vinegar. Add 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and allow the

mixture to sit so that the cranberries start to plump a bit. ( this can be made in advance and refrigerated.)

Toss the rice with the vinaigrette. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Mix in  2 oranges, peeled with white pith removed and cut into small pieces, 1 cup of green grapes, cut in half, and 3/4 cups of chopped, toasted pecans. Mix in 2 scallions, thinly sliced.

Let the rice mixture to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop and enjoy!

photo: Spencer Jones / Glasshouse Images exclusively for indigo jones

Don’t Make a Big Stink Out of It!

August 6, 2012

In this heat, it’s hard to smell daisy fresh all the time. I occasionally take a stealth sniff to make sure my deodorant is working, and carry baby wipes in my bag, for a quick refresher when I get to the office.

While there isn’t much we can do to keep from perspiring, there are some tips to keep us as odor free as possible.

Caffeine can trigger body odor, because it stimulates our sweat glands. When sweat mixes with bacteria, it smells bad. Conversely, drinking lots of water can dilute the perspiration and diminish the unpleasant odor.

Sage tea has antiseptic compounds that can help reduce sweating by relieving stress in the body. Sip the tea, or add it to your bath to reap the benefits.

Zinc is a mineral that regulates detoxification by controlling how your body handles waste. Foods high in zinc are oysters, pumpkin seeds, beans, yogurt and wheat germ.

You are what you eat, literally!  Strong smelling foods like garlic and curry can seep out of you pores and leave a strong “not-so-nice” smell in its wake.  Sulphurous foods, such as cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli can emit a gas through your skin as well.

Red meat causes stagnation in the digestive system. It putrefies in the digestive track, releasing toxins into your large intestine. All of the other “no-no’s” in a healthy diet such as refined sugar, hydrogenated oils, processed foods and white flour are also B.O. producers. Yet another reason to avoid consuming unhealthy foods.  Clean up your eating and your natural scent should improve as well.

Of course none of this replaces a good old soapy shower! Be sure to dry off completely, as the bacteria that causes body odor develops more quickly on wet skin.

While clothes may smell just fine when you take them off, as the sweat dries and then gets “re-ignited” the next time, it packs a foul punch. Trust me, those gym clothes are not ok to wear again tomorrow!

photo: Glasshouse Images

 

Priority Post

August 3, 2012

These past few weeks have been crazy… work related deadlines, proposals for new business, filling in for the skeleton crew in the office.  A hospital bound friend in need, and the planning of a baby shower, in addition to cooking, cleaning, and parenting is taking its toll on me.  I admit it, I am stretched to the limit and exhausted!

I wake up and post the day’s blog entry and book my cycling classes while still in bed. I get up, make breakfasts and lunches, and set off to the gym. Shower etc. and off to work I go.

I stop at Whole Foods on the way home for groceries, cook dinner, research story ideas and write a post for the next day. I work on projects for other clients, and go to bed with my head filled with all I have been doing. Sometimes I sleep, but lately not so much. Rinse and repeat.

Don’t get me wrong; I love being busy. But right now, something has to give…and it’s tomorrow’s post.

I have taken the day off to prepare for a baby shower for 2 of my most favorite people ever. I plan to cook and clean the day and night away, and make the day as memorable as possible for them.

In the world of priorities, that is mine. So, here is Friday’s entry, with an I.O.U. for something more interesting to follow.  I promise to post some of the yummy food and playful decorations from the shower, and maybe even a photo of the beautiful, glowing mom-to-be and a very excited future daddy.

Stay tuned for more to come…

Don’t Bug Me

August 2, 2012

Mosquitos love me. I don’t know why. If there is a mosquito in the ‘hood, it will find me, and attempt to eat me alive.

This year the insects seem to be of epic proportions. Their bites are red, raised and itchy.

But hey, no worries…relief is often found in your kitchen cupboard!

Apple Cider Vinegar has antiseptic properties and takes away the redness and itching associated with insect bites.  Mix a little of the vinegar with water, and apply it with a cotton ball to the affected area.

Vodka can also relieve the itchiness. Icy cold vodka, stored in the freezer of course, combines the antibacterial properties of alcohol, with the comfort of a cold compress. Apply it directly to the area with a washcloth. If you do not find relief right away, pour it into a glass, add a twist of lemon and drink it!

That brings us to our next cure, lemon juice. It is a natural detoxifier,  which helps to reduce swelling and itching. Squeeze the lemon into icy cold water, and apply with a washcloth, or spray bottle.

Lavender oil is said to have soothing properties for the skin. It is also reportedly a natural bug repellant. Spray a little lavender oil on your skin before exposure, to help avoid annoying insect bites in the first place.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

The “Oops” Olympics: Going for the Gold

August 1, 2012

The Olympics are well underway, transfixing people around the world. While nothing of that scale can go off without a hitch, there have been some major gaffes this year.

Did anyone notice a strange woman in street clothes marching with the Indian team? Apparently the Olympic officials didn’t, until she was spotted in the midst of the group clad in jeans and a red hoodie, as they all marched in their bright yellow garb.

Security also proved to be a challenge, when the privately contracted firm hired to handle this, acknowledged that they could not provide the amount of guards they originally committed to. Thousands of military personnel, some just back from Afghanistan were recruited to fill the gaps.

When the women’s soccer competition kicked off, the South Korean flag was proudly displayed on the jumbo screen. Too bad the team was representing North Korea, who they are currently at war with.

Police accidentally misplaced the keys to Wembley Stadium, forcing them to have to change all of the locks at the football arena, after a team from Scotland Yard failed to find them.

While the list goes on, from televising rows of empty seats to misstating athlete’s countries of origin, none of these are quite as bad as some of the gaffes made by our very own Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney and his team.

Today, while in Warsaw, Poland, Mr. Romney was questioned by the press about some of his travel faux pas. His press secretary promptly lashed out saying,” Kiss my ass, this is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.”

While the English are enjoying a little self deprecating humor and laughing at their mistakes, the Republicans will just do what they always do: blame it on the black guy that lives in the big, white house.

Yeah, I went there..”oops”!

photo: Glasshouse Images


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