Monday, January 30, 2012

Kale Smoothie!

This smoothie is for all of you out there who leave angry comments on my posts about burgers and cake.  Somehow, the collective consciousness of America has decided that red meat, sugar and, well, anything the least bit tasty is unhealthy, and the idea of a dietitian enjoying dead cow with bacon and bleu cheese (yum!) appalls you.  So I'm going to throw you a bone.

First, I agree that the Standard American diet ("SAD") needs help, and I don't propose eating burgers and fries every day.  I'm not a fan of extreme diets in general, like raw foods or the paleo diet.  Moderation, my friends, is the name of the game.

Which brings me to smoothies.  I'm not a huge smoothie fan because they usually contain a significant amount of added sugar and too many calories.  I don't consider them a good meal replacement because our body treats liquids and solids differently.  If you drink a smoothie for a meal, your body is going to be looking for more calories very quickly because fluid doesn't translate into satiety--liquids don't keep you feeling full.

The other issue I have with smoothies is that they lack protein and they give you a giant hit of sugar. Even pure fruit sugar can be disruptive to blood glucose regulation.  Yes, as a new vegetarian in high school I made smoothies with protein powder, and that can do the job, but between the chalky consistency and sour aftertaste, I wrote them off for many years.

Fast forward to January 2012, when all I want is a damn smoothie!  And cole slaw.  And beets.  And fish.  No, I'm not pregnant.  My body just thinks it's spring and is determined to get some fresh food!

For my first foray into smoothie making I consulted my fabulous friend Angie, who also happens to be a dietitian.  She's not nearly as squeamish about pureed food as I am, and offered some lovely suggestions.  This smoothie isn't a meal or even a snack.  Drink this (or eat it with a spoon) with some protein!  I've been having a bit of smoothie in the morning with my poached egg and muesli, and it's been delicious.  And yes, I'm undeniably proud of getting some fruit AND veggies with my breakfast!

Kale Smoothie!  I used my food processor because my blender doesn't, well... blend.

Kale Smoothie

1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 apple
1 banana
1 Satsuma orange, peeled
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1/2 cup almond milk (or any type you enjoy)
~ 1 tsp coconut butter or flax oil (optional)

  1. Boil water and blanch kale for 5-7 minutes, depending on toughness of leaf.  Plunge into ice water or run under cold water until chilled.  Squeeze out excess liquid.
  2. In food processor, blender, or Vitamix, combine apple, banana, satsuma, and ginger.  Blend until roughly chopped and then slowly add almond milk.  If you prefer a thinner consistency, add more  milk.
  3. If you'd like to add fat, I recommend flax oil or coconut butter (Angie says it's delicious, but I've never tried it).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fear Itself

Some days it seems my entire life is about food.  I work with patients, discussing food and how it impacts their health.  I write about food.  I share new recipes with friends and family.  I tweet and Facebook and photograph food.  In the evening, I create beautiful meals from magazines or cookbooks or ideas that pop into my head.  I spend Saturdays making cake and crepe recipes gluten-free.  I love food.  I love every minute of every discussion about food and nutrition and health, but being a dietitian is only one part of who I am.

I'm also dyslexic.

I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was 7 or 8 and it was actually a relief.  Suddenly I understood why learning how to spell the days of the week and months of the year was a herculean feat.  It explained my trouble writing individual letters and my difficulty distinguishing vowels in speech.  Dyslexia explained why I couldn't read.
Tinted glasses were thought to reduce symptoms of dyslexia
Once we had a diagnosis, it was a problem to solve, a mountain to climb, not an impossible wall.  I was put into reading therapy and eye therapy and had rose-colored glasses all through elementary school.  No joke--actual glasses that were tinted pink.  Reading and spelling and speaking weren't easy, and spelling lists were a nightmare my mother and I dreaded.  I would try and try and try and give up, tears of frustration streaming down my face, and then I would try some more.  The result of all this effort is that I can spell and say most words and only mess up my numbers 75% of the time.  I have to work twice as hard to read and memorize but I've always been in the top of my class.  I have a Master's degree.

I've been thinking about dyslexia because I've been reading a book called The Dyslexic Advantage that discusses how the dyslexic brain is different from a "normal" brain.  The authors posit that one isn't better than the other; the dyslexic brain simply processes differently, so dyslexics have different strengths.  It's all theory at this point, but it did seem to explain why Ben finds computers so intuitive and I don't.  Like most books in the business of trying to turn a problem into an advantage, it errs too much on the side of trying to convince me I'm lucky to be dyslexic.  I don't feel lucky.  I'm just me.  But reading an entire book about dyslexia made me really consider what it's like to live with a learning disability and I realized that one word describes my experience: Fear.

As a dyslexic, I'm afraid of so many simple situations and daily tasks.

In no particular order, I'm afraid of:

  • Dialing the wrong number on the phone
  • Saying people's names for fear of mispronouncing them
  • Transposing numbers on check and taxes
  • Handwriting anything because I can't use spell check
  • Putting money in the wrong slot at the parking garage.
  • Misreading road signs and directions
  • Giving the grocery clerk the wrong amount of money
  • Reading aloud
  • Speaking in front of people when I have to read from notes
  • Misreading directions on medication
  • Incorrectly writing down the weight and height of my patients
  • Posting a blog that hasn't been proof-read by Ben
  • Sending professional email
  • Misreading the time so I'm either early or late
  • Typing email addresses incorrectly (why do people combine strange words to form addresses???)
  • Spelling the word "convenient"

This isn't a complete list, but I guarantee I've been in every one of those situations at least once.  A couple of years ago I added the numbers wrong on the taxes and we owed $600 more than I thought.  Keep in mind: I had triple-checked the math.

Why do I bring this up on a nutrition blog?  I live in fear, and as it turns out, so do many of my patients.

I was talking with a patient the other day and she told me she was afraid to go to the gym because she didn't want other people judging her weight.  Another patient with celiac was afraid to talk to the waiter in the restaurant because she didn't want him to feel bothered by her specific food needs.  Another patient was afraid of what would happen if she actually lost the weight she's been carrying most of her adult life.

It seems like a whole lot of us are walking around terrified.  I say, enough!

I don't have a magic pill to make the fear go away, but the first step is to be aware of your emotional state.  Check in with yourself and see what brain state is dictating your decisions.  If you're avoiding a dance class because you're afraid you're too clumsy, it might be time to give the fear the ol' middle finger and try the class!

Journaling often helps in these scenarios, but if that's too much, take a moment and think about why you are doing what you do.  If fear is present, determine if it's legitimate fear.  Being afraid of a dark alley at night is perfectly reasonable fear, but driving around the block again and again until you find a  to avoid parallel parking is not.

We all make mistakes, and often the only person who really notices is you.  And if you make a big mistake, like I did on the taxes, I guarantee somebody will show up to tell you what you did wrong.  Just  because you might mess up sometimes doesn't mean you shouldn't try at all.  At the risk of sounding like a Nike ad, just do it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Wonderland

In Seattle it snows and then the snow melts and then it freezes and ices.  As we speak there is an ice storm blanketing our city.  It doesn't feel a think like a storm, just light freezing rain falling gently to the ground in below freezing temperatures but the result is broken tree limbs and downed power lines.  Thus far my little family is safe and warm and I hope everyone else's family is as well.

*Photo from Komo 4

Friday, January 13, 2012

What will your exercise routine look like when you're 94?

This gentleman is 94 years old and still doing his exercise routine. Isn't he amazing? Are you feeling inspired yet?

Exercise because you love it and it feels great, not because you told yourself you must.

Thanks Fanatic Cook for sharing this video. If your curious about the little bats our athletic gentleman is swinging, Fanatic Cook did a little investigating and they are Indian clubs.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

If only....

If only I could lose 10 pounds I could wear that new dress/try a dance class/find a mate/be happy.

Do you tell yourself some version of the sentence above?  Do you limit the activities you do because you don't think you're pretty enough or skinny enough?  Tell the truth.  The answer is probably yes.

There's a disjoint in this country between what advertisers tell us to eat and what Hollywood tells us to look like.  Ever want to see what real people look like on TV?  Watch a British TV show and see that yes, women can have arm fat AND be stars.

The dirty little secret that the entertainment media doesn't want us to know is that regular people have love handles and hips and butts.  Now, these same people can be in great shape too by doing activities that they love, not caring what the world thinks.  If you hold Gwyneth Paltrow up as your standard of beauty to strive for, you're sure to come up short.

Sure, some people are born skinny and can eat anything to stay tiny but most people have to starve themselves to be a size zero.  Do you want to starve yourself?  If the answer's no, then it's time to chuck the ol' body image issues out the window and live like you love life!  Exercise because you love the way it makes you feel, not because you want to loose 5 pounds.  Eat veggies because they taste fabulous and you feel good after eating them.  And for goodness sake, wear a bathing suit!  Summer only comes around once a year so you may as well enjoy it!

People, it's time to love your life, including your body and stop abusing yourself because you look the way you look.  This is the only body you get, it's getting older one day at a time so you may as well enjoy what you have right now while you have it!


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Healthy at Every Size

Have you read Healthy at Every Size by Linda Bacon, Ph.D?  Yes, that's her real name, isn't that fabulous? We read it late last year for our Nutrition Study group and what we dietitians admired most was that this book wasn't trying to convince you to try one more diet but to live a healthy, happy life, regardless of your size.  The first portion of the book is dedicated to discussing how we maintain our weight physiologically and what dieting does to our bodies.  Here are just a few of the points in HAES:

  • Slows the rate at which your body burns calories
  • Increases your body'd efficiency at wringing every possible calorie out of the food you do eat so you digest food faster and get hungry quicker
  • Causes you to crave high fat foods
  • Increases your appetite
  • Reduces your energy levels
  • Lowers your body temperature so you are using less energy
  • Reduces your ability to feel hungry and full, making it easier to confuse hunger with emotional needs
  • Reduces your total amount of muscle tissue
  • Increases your fat storage enzymes and decreases your fat-release enzymes
So, if you're unhappy with your weight or looks, should you give up, eat cheetos and want marathons of The Real Housewives of New Jersey?  Absolutely not!

What you should do is live well.  Live well is the title of chapter 10 in HAES and to me that phrase encompasses a whole range of concepts, from eating nutritious food that you enjoy to being kind to yourself and participating in activities you love.  Did you know joy lowers stress, which in turn lowers cortisol and allows you to loose weight?

I encourage you to take a look at Dr. Bacon's book and tell me what you think of her take on weight loss.

* Picture from

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What size plate should you use?

I've been re-reading Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink and he has this fabulous graphic in chapter 3, Surveying the Tablescape.  Look at the picture above.  Which dot is bigger?

The answer of course is that both dots are the same size but depending on what you put around it, the dot either looks larger or smaller.  This goes for food as well.  Per Brian:

"If you spoon four ounces of mashed potatoes onto a 12-inch plate, it will look like a lot less than if you had spooned it onto an 8-inch plate.  Even if you intended to limit your portion size, the larger plate would likely influence your to serve more.  And since we all tend to finish what we serve ourselves, we would probably end up eating it all."

So, how to do you trick your mind into eating reasonable portions?  Get rid of all your 12 inch dinner plates.  Try eating on a salad plate and see how your portions sizes change.

America's expanding waistlines didn't happen over-night and our weight gain has been accompanied by a disturbing expansion of chinaware.  Another tidbit from Dr. Wansink

"Serving-size norms were different 50 years ago.  How do we know this?  One way is by comparing Grandmother's dinner plates with our own.  An antiques dealer told me that when people shopping for antique plates find a pattern they like, they often take a dinner plate up to him and say, "I like these cute little salad plates.  Do you have matching dinner plates?"  One woman even asked if he had any duplicates of the serving platters that she could use as dinner plates."

I'm thinking it might want to go get a fabulous antique china set to help me limit my portion sizes!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gluten Free Corn Muffins

Life is busy here in the Hoverter household.  Ben has been off from one or both of his jobs for about a month and he's spent that time furiously writing his novel.  He has high hopes that the rough draft will be done in another three months but it will be a challenge since he started back at both his jobs full time today.  I've been seeing patients and writing and networking and cooking.  Somehow, together we get everything done and thus far we've managed to eat well, mostly due to our crock pot.

Ben and I have been cooking out of America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution magazine.  Last week when I had a full day of patients in Bothell, Ben threw some ribs in the pot and when I got home at 6:30 pm, I decided we had to have corn muffins to go with them.  I adapted this recipe from The New Best Recipe (from the editors of Cook's Illustrated).  Anyone think I should be paid to market for America's Test Kitchen yet?  I love their recipes because they work and they're guaranteed to be flavorful.

For my baking conversions, I've been using the Gluten Free Girl's ratio of 70% whole grains and 30% starch.  An example of how I did my flour conversion:

10 oz AP four = 283g
70% = 198g Whole grain flour
30% = 85g    Starch

For whole grains I usually use sorghum, brown rice and/or millet flour and for the starches I use a combination of tapioca and potato starch.  If you want to make this recipe using regular flour, simply use 10 oz or 2 cups of AP flour and eliminate the guar gum.

Corn Muffins

Makes 12 - 15 muffins

65 g sorghum flour
35 g millet flour
100 g brown rice flour
42 g tapioca flour
42 g potato starch
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 T guar gum
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
8 T unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup sour cream (vegan or regular)
1/2 cup milk (almond or regular)

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Put muffin cups in tins or grease tins and set aside.
  2. Combine flours, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  In another bowl, gently beat eggs and then whisk in the sugar and finally the melted butter.  Add half the sour cream and half the milk, whisk, and then add the remainder of the sour cream and milk.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined and smooth.  Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups and bake ~18 minutes, rotating the muffin tin half way through, until muffins are light golden brown.  
  4. Cool at least 5 minutes and serve warm


Recipe adapted from The New Best Recipe

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Watch a testimonial about working with Autumn!

Are you interested to hear what a real patient thinks of working with me? Katie is an amazing, inspiring person and I've been thrilled to have her as a client! She was very brave to speak honestly about her story on tape and allow me to share it with you, and I hope you all enjoy watching it as much as I did!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolve to make goals, not resolutions

(With a tip-o'-the-cap to the great Bill Watterson)

It's that time of year again.  Everyone is making resolutions to organize the clutter, finally stick to a budget, or accomplish "the big one": losing weight.  Making changes to improve your life is fantastic, but oh, the pressure!  You can't pick up a magazine or newspaper without orders to join a boot camp or try new budgeting software.

I think changes to improve your mental, physical and spiritual health are wonderful, but who decided that come January first, we have to be completely different people from the year before?  Would it be so horrific to stay your same, wonderful self for 2012?

It makes sense to me that the new year cleans the slate and allows us to start fresh in areas we feel need work, but why make "resolutions"?  They're vague and give you no plan to achieve your goals.

Take weight loss.  "I resolve to lose 15 pounds in 2012."  But how are you going to lose 15 pounds?  Are you going to exercise? Eat less?  Take a daily walk?

Doesn't it make more sense to set achievable health goals and know that weight loss will be an added benefit?  Instead of resolving to lose weight (a fuzzy notion at best) try these specific health goals on for size:

"I am going to take a walk everyday with the dog."
"I'm going to do Zumba twice per week."
"I'm going eat vegetables with lunch and dinner."
"I'm going to eat out only three days a week instead of five."

Small, measurable, specific goals that give you a task to perform are the way to go.  In fact, you can start with one in January and add a second goal in February, and so on.  That way when March rolls around and most people's New Year's resolutions are a long-forgotten dream, you'll still be going strong!

So tell me: what specific New Year's Goals are you going to make?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I hope all of you had a safe, wonderful and joyous celebration, whatever you chose to do. 

Me?  I stayed in with Ben and the dog and enjoyed a leisurely evening of our favorite activities.  To kick it off, we walked Duncan well before the neighbors started lighting M-80s and let him pursue his favorite activities: sniffing out squirrels and peeing on poles.

NYE Appetizers

We dined on light appetizers while playing games and finally had a late dinner of bibimbap while enjoying our latest favorite TV show, White Collar.  We read and relaxed and chatted and cuddled.  Staying in has been our tradition for years and typically we have a series of movies to watch.  Sometimes it's a trilogy like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings and sometimes it's just a theme like "Stallone action movies".

In our younger days, we went off to the clubs in a large group that inevitably ended in comical disaster.  One memorable year, we were at Club Nation the night it closed.  We were upstairs having a drink and the DJ forgot to announce the countdown to midnight; in the room below us, the DJ had so many train wrecks that the audience swarmed the stage and trashed his gear.  Within our lovely, drunken group, there was tension between couples (and triples!), and one girls' feel hurt so badly that she pranced down the streets of Seattle barefoot.  The evening ended desperately trying to get a cab at 3 am while avoiding drunk drivers.

I don't miss those days.

Without the pressure to go out and have a good time, I enjoy New Year's celebrations much more than I used to, and in keeping with our more recent tradition of staying in, I was asleep before midnight.  Seeing how I'm so well rested, I can face 2012 with a spring in my step and a song in my heart.  I hope you all are doing the same.

Happy New Year, everyone!