Thank you all for your very sweet comments on my post earlier!  I really appreciate the support!

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.  The past few days, and today in particular, I’ve read about a lot of people “giving something up for Lent.”  Most of these things included things like chocolate, baked goods, pastries, candy, etc. I’ve commented about this on a few blogs and thought I should write my own post on this.

Now, I am no hard core Catholic.  I did First Communion, but I don’t go to church and I’m not observing Lent.

I’m not entirely sure what I believe but I do have respect for religion.

I’m a little irked that so many people are taking a sacred 40 day period in anticipation of the resurrection of Christ and turning it into an excuse to diet.  Lent is supposed to be about sacrifice and redemption, not a guilt trip into putting down that cookie so you’ll look better at the end of 40 days.

What about the rest of the Lenten requirements: not sinning, abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays…?

Obviously, bloggers don’t post their entire lives on their blogs so some may be very religious/spiritual.  I don’t mean to judge, but I’m a little concerned that this is a serious sacrifice for some while it is merely a tool for others.

*Stepping Off Soapbox now*

What are your thoughts on “giving up” things for Lent? Am I being a little unreasonable?

On to food…

I try not to eat frozen food too often, but I like to keep a frozen meal in the freezer for those days when I just absolutely don’t feel like cooking.

Today was one of those days.

Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake (image from kashi.com)

Oh goodness.  If you haven’t tried this, you should.  It’s AMAZING! Slightly spicy and has a great texture.  Also, if you love plantains and sweet potatoes, this entree is for you!

It was the perfect dinner after a loooong day!

Off to do more reading.  Have a great night!

Taste the Rainbow

Happy Tuesday!!

Did you all hear about Michelle Obama’s Campaign Against Childhood Obesity?

What do you think of this new Let’s Move campaign?

I had some colorful eats today and luckily they DID NOT include any of this:

For lunch, I had a DELICIOUS, COLORFUL and HUGE salad!

Isn’t it bright?! Lettuce, Cucumbers, Tomato, Carrot Ribbons and a sliced up string cheese with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar as dressing.  Along with a Morningstar Sausage Patty taco, which you’ve seen so here’s part of the tortilla process:

I would die without a gas stove!

After my scrumptious lunch, I went to class then I worked on Econ and Methods problem sets with people.  Ugh I need to learn to be more patient!

Then the highlight of the evening.. Dinner was pretty much the epitome of a fake and delicious makeover!

You know chicken parmesan? Served as such…

Forget that!  Mine was a million times better!

Boca Spicy Chik’n Patty topped with marinara sauce and cottage cheese (soo good!  If you’ve never mixed marinara and cottage cheese… go try it now! Creamy and delicious!), served with a side of spaghetti squash and broccoli, then sprinkled with some grated pecorino romano for good measure.

A dinner entree of Chicken Parmigiana at Macaroni Grill will set you back 1650 calories, 98g of fat and 2500mg of sodium!  Isn’t that nuts!

My version had a grand total of 405 calories and 12g of fat!  Much better and just as tasty and voluminous! Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of pasta (maybe because I didn’t grow up eating it?) but I understand that a lot of people do like it.  A serving of pasta still would make this a million times healthier than a restaurant version!

What’s your favorite at home dish makeover?

Ahhh Lost is on in a little over half an hour!  I have to read now so I can then glue myself to the TV!

Have a fabulous night!!

No Impact Man

In this blog, I probably come across as a person who is pretty concerned with the environment and climate change (see posts on environment by clicking “environment” tag on the side bar), but the reality is that relative to a lot of people I know (especially in my Master’s program), I’m not.

Yes, I care about the environment and climate change.  I turn off the lights.  I don’t eat meat.  I recycle.  I use reusable grocery bags, but the environment isn’t necessarily on the top of my agenda.  I try to do my part, but I wouldn’t call my myself an environmentalist.  I care about people, and people and the environment are undoubtedly connected.

This morning I woke up and opened a Netflix that had been sitting on the table for about a week, as I’ve been too busy to even open them to see what was in it.  It was the documentary No Impact Man.

In case you haven’t heard of it, No Impact Man is a documentary that follows a NYC family in their quest to live 1 year with no net environmental impact.  This means giving up all motorized transportation (including elevators), no electricity, no television, eating only locally, buying nothing, creating essentially no waste.

When I first heard of this documentary, I thought it sounded slightly ridiculous so I was interested in seeing it.  I often accuse extreme environmentalists of making the problem worse by alienating the masses and scaring people into thinking that the only way to reduce carbon emissions is by cutting everything out of your life… much like the family in this film did.

However, after watching it, this documentary and the family is much different than I expected.  They aren’t preachy; they don’t expect the world to live they way they did for an entire year, nor do they plan on doing so for more than a year.  I guess what I liked most was Colin Beavan’s point that it’s not about depriving yourself but rather finding ways to get what you need without harming the Earth.

Obviously, the family’s experiment was a bit extreme, but I enjoyed watching their lifestyle change.

I won’t bore you any more with my take on the film but I recommend it for a few reasons:

  • It was entertaining.
  • It makes you think about a lot of aspects of your life that you don’t always think about (i.e. toilet paper).
  • It sheds light upon the fact that cities can be sustainable and environmentally friendly. (I won’t get into this but since I’m in City Planning, you can probably imagine I have a ton to say about this.)
  • A large aspect of the lifestyle change revolved around food consumption, production and acquisition, which may be of interest to you all.

Have you seen or heard of No Impact Man?  Would you consider yourself an environmentalist?

I’m sort of at a loss for what to do the rest of the day.  I’m thinking I might go to a spinning class in about an hour but other than that, they day is free!  Kind of weird!

Happy Saturday!  Enjoy your day!

Pour Some Sugar on Me

Happy Groundhog day!

I hope you had a fab Monday and an even better Tuesday!

You’ll be happy to know my class devoured the Banana Chip Cookies!  I managed to resist and not eat a single one (except for the one I ate hot out of the oven on Sunday)!

Yesterday, I talked about my lack of February challenge.  Even though I don’t have an official one, I really like Anna’s from Newly Wed, Newly Veg.  For the month of February, she is cutting back on added sugar (it’s in the most unexpected places sometimes!).  This doesn’t include natural sugar in fruits and veggies.

I think this is a great idea!  Out of curiosity, I decided to count how many grams of added sugar I consume on an average day.

I don’t usually post everything I eat but for today’s experiment, here are today’s eats along with the added sugar count.

Breakfast: Coffee, PB Toast and Green Monster

Lactaid (3.3g) + GM (0g) + PB (0.5g)+  Toast (2g)= round to 6g

I’m shocked at how much sugar Lactaid has!  7g for 1 cup!  Luckily, I only put 1/3 cup in my coffee each morning!  Actually I sort of knew this… the added enzyme apparently starts to breakdown the sugar in the milk while it’s in the carton.

For mid-morning snack I had an unpictured apple and string cheese: 0g added sugar.

Lunch: Wrap, Fruit and Yogurt

Wrap: Honey Wheat Flat Out Wrap (3g)+ Hummus (0g)+ Pepper Jack Cheese (0g)+ Tapatio (0g)+ Cucumbers (0g)+ Tomato (0g)+ Lettuce (0g)= 3g

Kiwi: 0g added sugar

1/2 cup Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt (4.5g) + Strawberry Jam (6g)= 10.5

Total Added Sugar in Lunch= 13.5g

I had no idea plain Greek Yogurt would have 9g of sugar per cup!  It doesn’t taste sweet!

Afternoon Snack: PB Toast + Tea

Wegman’s Omega-3 Bread (3g) + PB (0g) + Tea (0g)= 3g

Ugh, I’m pushing through this bread that is not very tasty 😦  Wegman’s you failed me!


After my afternoon snack, I was still starving, so I decided to have the first part of my dinner early.  I started with some Kale chips.

Usually I just use some rice wine vinegar then throw them in the oven for 10 minutes.  But today I decided to try out a sauce that I got from Tina‘s Open Sky dealio she had a few weeks ago.  It was only $0.99 and free shipping so I figured why not.

I think had I seen the nutrition information beforehand, I would have saved my dollar.  A serving (2oz) of this sauce has 120 calories, 2000mg of sodium and 28g of sugar!  Essentially it’s sugar, salt and water.  I’m a little shocked that this was on Tina’s Open Sky page (by no means am I trying to judge!).  I suppose anything is okay in moderation.  On my kale chips I used a little less than half a serving.  Honestly, it did make the Kale Chip ridiculously delicious!

Kale (0g) +Wild N Mild Sauce (13g) = 13g added sugar

The other half of dinner was a corn tortilla with cheese both of which had 0g of sugar.

Although I may have something else later, probably a piece of fruit or something…

The Grand Total Added Sugar Consumption for the Day = 35.5g

That’s 142 extra calories, about 9-10 teaspoons.

I’m not entirely sure how to analyze this but it doesn’t seem like THAT much to me.  What are your thoughts?

Is it realistic to not eat added sugar?  Obviously it should be avoided where ever possible but is there such a thing as too healthy?  Any thoughts?

Ugh so much to do tonight!  Hope you’ve had a great day!!

Anyone else SUPER EXCITED about Lost?!?!?!

International Food Assistance

Now that I’m back at school I remembered that I do actually like and care about something other than eating! Hard to believe, right?

In case you’re a new reader, I’m interested in global food security.  I started this blog to combine my passion for healthy living and international issues.  Recently, I’ve been slacking on the food security end of the blog.  In the past, I’ve written about the causes of food security (four parts) and the environment.  If you click the tag “Food Security” on the right sidebar, you’ll find all my food security related posts to date.

Image from Google Images

Today, since the recent crisis in Haiti, I thought it would be a good idea to give a little history of global food assistance and little introduction to the United Nations’ World Food Programme.

Before the establishment of an international organization (i.e. the United Nations), food assistance was distributed from one nation to another (bilaterally).

The United States, since the 1950s, is the largest donor of food aid through Public Law 480 Title I (P.L. 480), now known as Food for Peace managed by US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Food being sent abroad by USAID (from Google Images)

P.L. 480 began as a scheme to relieve some of the surplus agricultural products produced in the US.  This assistance from the US government comes in three forms:

  1. Trade and Development Assistance:  “government-to-government sales of U.S. agricultural commodities to developing countries on credit or grant terms.”
  2. Emergency and Private Assistance: “the donation of U.S. agricultural commodities to meet emergency and nonemergency food needs in other countries, including support for food security goals.”
  3. Food for Development initiative (recently inactive):  “government-to-government grants to support long-term growth in the least developed countries. Donated commodities are sold in the recipient country, and the revenue generated is used to support economic development programs.”[1]

Bilateral food assistance proved to not be the most effective solution to food insecurity as it depends on surpluses in donor nations and generally serves the interest of the donor nation.  I don’t mean this as a judgment of the US or any other nation that provides food assistance, but it makes sense that you donate what you have extra of.  You don’t produce specifically to give away.

The result of food programs like P.L. 480 was the “dumping” of agricultural products into the markets of developing nations, undercutting local producers (since this food was free or cost next to nothing) and creating more poverty and food insecurity in the long run.

Therefore, an unbiased organization was needed to deal with issues of food assistance…

This is where the United Nations comes in…

Next time: United Nations involvement in global food security and the formation of the World Food Programme!

Please don’t be shy!  Let me know if you think this is interesting!  What do you think of food assistance at home or abroad? Is there anything you’d like to know more about?

[1] USDA: Foreign Agriculture Service. “Public Law 480, Title I.” http://www.fas.usda.gov/excredits/foodaid/pl480/pl480.asp

Green Beans!

This morning I went to the lovely fella’s apartment gym again.  I did 3 miles in 28:40!  I’m a slow poke so that was kind of fast for me.

Then we headed to Costco, for the purpose of eating samples and frozen yogurt.  After Costco, we headed to Trader Joe’s to get ingredients for dinner tonight.  We’ve been eating out a lot lately so we decided to stay in tonight.  We’re making a recipe from another continent for the January Recipe Challenge!

While at Trader Joe’s, I came across this interesting thing: Green Beans.

Not just any green beans.  These are crunchy and lightly salted.  However, interestingly enough they’re really sweet too!  Who knew green beans were sweet!  They look like green beans too!

The ingredients were green beans, canola oil, tapioca starch and salt.  Not too bad right?  The first one wasn’t that great but the next few or maybe 50 were delicious!  I wonder if they lose all the nutrients that fresh green beans have?  Any thoughts?

Tonight we’re making a new recipe and going to the movies!  Have a great evening!

Peanut, Peanut Butter!

I love peanut butter!

When I moved from Berkeley to Ithaca, I didn’t have enough room in my luggage to take my 6 (literally 6, maybe more actually) jars of peanut butter with me.   Consequently, they’ve been sitting at my mom’s house waiting for me.

This morning, I decided to make the familiar toast with peanut butter and banana.  I reached in the cupboard for one of my jars because sadly my mom buys JIF, which is just really no good in my opinion.  I pulled out one that I hadn’t seen in a while: PB2.

Have you heard of PB2?

PB2 is powdered peanut butter.  Sounds weird, right?   According to the site,PB2 is made with premium quality peanuts that are slow-roasted to our specifications and pressed to remove the fat.” 2 tablespoons of dried powder (mixed with 1 tbsp of water) provides only 54 calories, which is nothing compared to the nearly 200 that 2 tablespoons of peanut butter would provide.

I forgot I even had it!  So I decided to use it this morning. I mixed it up in a small bowl then spread it on my toast.

Looks like PB right?

Honestly, if you try this, try it on something (i.e. pb and j, pb banana) not by itself.  On its own, I don’t find it to be particularly delicious. The texture isn’t really the same as peanut butter.  Peanut Butter is creamier and thicker (…gets stuck on the roof of your mouth), although I guess adding less water could make PB2 thicker.  Even so, I still don’t think the texture would be the same, as they advertise.
I’m not a dietitian or doctor, but I always thought the fat in peanut butter was good for you.  Cutting out the fat seems like cutting out some of the good stuff.  However, if you’re looking to cut calories I see where this could be a good option. I still prefer natural peanut butter.

Have you tried PB2?  Any thoughts on it or the idea of it?

Note: I bought this product on my own a while ago, it was not given to me to review.