Archive for 2011

Tips for enjoying a safe, healthy and fun holiday season

This is a great time of year to celebrate with the children in your life--make sure this holiday season is a safe, healthy and fun one! Here are some expert tips from state and national experts:

And finally, a reminder that the holidays--and every day--are a good time to love, talk and play with your child!

Christmas Tree Salad

I've been writing more in my journal lately than my blog, sorry.  I've got some internal work to do so may go missing more than usual in the next few months.  But I wanted to post this salad I've been eating and really enjoying.  I call it a Christmas Tree salad because it's green with red (pomegranate) berries that remind me of Christmas tree lights.

1 head romaine lettuce
1/2-1 lb cabbage
1/4 -1/2 lb broccoli
1/4-1/2 lb cauliflower
1 apple
1 asian pear
1 orange
1 Tbsp spicy pecan vinegar
1 Tbsp riesling raisin vinegar
1 small pomegranate or 1/2 large
1/2-1 oz seed mixture

Chop the lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower in the food processor using the S-blade.   Put in a big bowl.  Blend the apple, asian pear, orange, and vinegar in the food processor.  Add to the bowl along with the seed mixture.  Extract the pomegranate seeds and add.  Stir.   I like this a lot.

Well, if you don't hear from me for a while, all you have to remember about healthy eating is this:  GOMBBS

G is for Greens
O  onions
M mushrooms
B beans
B  berries
S  seed mixture

That's what I remember when I'm making soup and veggies for the week.   Happy holidays!

Quality Education Council to consider preschool workgroup recommendations Dec. 19

The Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC) on Dec. 12 decided to support a recommendation to create a phased-in, voluntary preschool available to all Washington 3- and 4-year-olds as an entitlement program. The issue now moves to the Quality Education Council, which will meet on Monday, Dec. 19.

The recommendation for a statewide preschool program comes for the Early Learning Technical Workgroup, established in Senate Bill 6759. That workgroup submitted its final recommendations in November.

SB 6759 required the group to develop a plan for a voluntary program of early learning as either a part of basic education or as an entitlement program, to help support school readiness for all children in Washington. The final recommendations propose phasing in a high-quality, comprehensive preschool program open to all 3- and 4-year-olds with a graduated co-pay based on family income. The workgroup recommended a mixed-delivery system of providers, including nonprofits, faith-based organizations, licensed child care facilities, private schools, ECEAP and Head Start providers, school districts and others.

ELAC members reviewed the recommendations and heard public comment before deciding to recommend that QEC adopt the workgroup recommendations, with one addition and one change:

  • Adding a Birth-to-3 Technical Workgroup, which would use the existing state Birth to 3 Plan as its basis to focus on enhanced services for infants and toddlers.
  • Phasing in the workgroup's recommendation that lead teachers in the preschool program be required to have a Bachelor of Arts degree.
The QEC meets from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19, in Cherberg Conference Room ABC on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. It will be webcast on The QEC must make recommendations to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2012.

today's salad, this week's food

Today my salad is so good it boggles my mind, because it is simple.   I just chopped a head of romaine lettuce, a half lb of cabbage, some raw cauliflower, added 1/2 cup frozen peas, 1/2 cup frozen edamame, a grapefruit, peeled and chopped (okay, a really good grapefruit from Texas called Rio Star), an ounce of my seed mixture, 2 Tbsp Dr. Fuhrman's D'angou pear vinegar.  Now it's true, the high quality ingredients is what makes this salad delish--the good grapefruit, and the d'angou pear vinegar add a wonderful taste sensation that is not sour.  Wow. This made two giant salads.  I also made a microscopic version for housemate.  I'll have these for dinner?  --in 2 stages for sure.

Next week, first the first 3 days anyway, my micro salads will have lettuce, cabbage, carrots, satsuma (small orange), asian pear (a honey-sweet apple), small pomegranate, flavored vinegar, and seed mixture.  I'm expecting that to be yummy!  My roasted veggies will be broccoli, cauliflower, a little butternut squash, a little beets, onion, with chives, sage and basil ('cause I have some in the freezer from the garden), and I'm still working on the marinate, but probably orange juice and no-salt mustard.  Breakfast will be light before exercise,  a bowl of frozen cherries, blueberries, mangos.  Lunch and dinner will be bean soup, micro-salad, and roasted veggies.  I'll probably eat my lunch bean soup early because I'll be hungry after exercise.  I still have lots of bean soup from two batches in the freezer so don't have to make any this week.  Yum, talk about eating like a king.  I am amazed that I sometimes go off plan to eat junk because I think I'm missing something.  This food is thousands of time better.  I wish I could remember that all the time!

humorous bumps in the road

Here are some funny health-related things that happened to me this week (all my fault!):

1)  I gave myself a treat of meditating in front of my gas fireplace one morning.  I have a routine to help me remember to open and close the flue, which is to open the flue before turning on the fireplace, and then when I'm done I put my yoga block in front of the fireplace to remind us to close the flue after 30 minutes.  That is about the time it takes for the ceramic blocks to cool and to help the remaining unburned warm gas goes up the chimney.  I did my usual routine, or so I thought.  Later on, housemate said, I see you closed the flue even though the yoga block is there.  I said, no I didn't, we need to do that.  She said it's closed, and I didn't do it, did you forget to open it?  I said, no, I distinctly remember opening it.  Come to think of it, I also remember smelling gas when I was done.  So either I distinctly remember wrong about opening it (maybe I remember intending to open it), or instead of opening it, I closed it further.  It was early in the morning and I was groggy.  I find it a little ironic that I managed to give myself CO poisoning while trying to meditate!   Thankfully it was only a 15 minute session.  

2)  I'm still experimenting with my roasted veggie routine--I'll post it when I get it just how I like, probably in another week of experimenting.  So I was at the co-op looking for some root veggies to add to the mix and I saw some Jerusalem artichokes.  Never heard of them.  That never stops me.  When I got home I cut them up, tasted them, yum, they taste good even before cooking!   They have a sweet flavor.  I cooked them up with lots of other veggies, and went and looked them up on wikipedia.  It turns out their starch is called inulin (not insulin) and it is not digestible by humans.  I think it converts to fructose and that's what gives it a sweet flavor.  So maybe the more it converts to fructose, the more digestible it is.  Well, that didn't stop me from eating them at lunch the next day.  Sure enough, I got a tummy ache for a few hours.  Here's the funny thing.  I then ate them again at dinner!  I was hungry and I was at work and this was what I brought to eat.  So I got another tummy ache!   doofus...  Here is what I wonder:  1) why would anyone eat this twice (besides me)?, so therefore 2) why would anyone grow them or sell them?   Maybe over time your body adjusts?  Here is a great quote about them from the English planter John Goodyear in 1621:

which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men.

3)  Today I went to my first spinning class ever and it was fun and hard!  This is where everyone rides a stationary bike and the teacher leads you in a ride with "hill" and intervals and resting downhill and stuff.  Very fun.  I walk to the gym and change my clothes when I'm there.  Well, I didn't wear or bring a bra (forgot my exercise bra).  So I thought, okay, I'll wear a t-shirt and my sweatshirt.  I'm just too embarrassed to jiggle in front of everyone, and I would have with all that spinning!   So it was a very hot and sweaty ride.  I'd better go drink some more water.

4)  This week I weighed myself at the gym and found out I weighed 11 lbs more than I thought!  Holy cow, my home scale must be wrong.  Holy cow, this shows how you can fool yourself.  I knew I had gained some weight because I'm wearing larger pant size than I was 6 months ago, but I fooled myself into thinking it wasn't much.  I ordered a new scale for home.  Today I weighed myself at the gym and realized I had made a mistake last time, and I weigh exactly what I previously thought.  Holy cow, I guess you can fool yourself into thinking you weigh too much too!  and that means my home scale is accurate too.  oops.   Ah well, it was good news today.

5) At my meditation class, we usually do a few sessions of meditation and have a little discussion with neighbors in between.  This week's topic was meditating on problems.  One of my neighbors mentioned the concept of inviting your problems to tea, as a start at befriending them.  So I imagined inviting "I hate work" and "I want a cookie" to tea.  (I hope no one from work is reading this!).  I started chuckling as I imagined our tea party.  I also imagined telling "I want a cookie" to take a seat behind "Papers 1, 2, and 3", some tasks I claim I really want to do at work.  Well, maybe you had to be there.  Just try it yourself.

6)  This isn't funny, just happy news.  After 3 or more years of very missed absence, frozen organic sweet cherries showed up at my co-op yesterday!   I bought all 10 bags of them!  I hope more appear.  We used to have them all the time, and then they disappeared.  We've discussed this on the Fuhrman forums and it seems to be a worldwide shortage of organic sweet cherries.  I hope they are back!   I ate a half pound today and they were luscious.

Legislature convenes for special session, hears Governor's proposed supplemental budget

On Nov. 28, the Legislature began a special session called by Gov. Chris Gregoire to address a projected $1.4 billion to $2 billion revenue shortfall in the 2011-2013 state operating budget.

To read Gov. Gregoire's proposed supplemental budget, which includes a temporary half-cent increase in the state sales tax:

Legislative committees are now holding work sessions on the proposed supplemental operating budget. Here is yesterday's Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee work session:

Watch other hearings by going to and choosing "Archives" then the committee and date you wish to view.

Update to my Previous Post

I got some interesting comments to my last post so I just wanted to respond to them.  Lani had a different view of the Weekend Immersion, so please read her comment if you are interested.  Wendy pointed out a great post from her blog about the chemicals in food designed to make them as stimulating as possible.  I highly recommend reading this and watching the attached video.

Then I also wanted to update you on my roasted veggie experiment.  It turned out great!  For marinate I used juice from 1/2 orange, 1 Tbsp of black fig vinegar, and a squeeze of no-salt mustard--maybe 1-2 Tbsps?  I used onions, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, sweet potato.  About 1/4 lb each.  Tonight I will use more as I needed more food today.  maybe I'll use 1/3 lb each.  I think I'll cook it for 40 minutes with the foil, and 20 minutes without.  Yesterday I did 30 minutes and 15.  Actually that did turn out pretty good.  Maybe I will do 35 and 15.  I don't want them soggy.  or 30 and 20.  It might take me a few days to get it right.  My seasonings were fresh rosemary and sage.    It was really good!

Princeton Immersion, Thanksgiving, soup, and stuff

I went to Dr. Fuhrman's Princeton Immersion last weekend.  It was a wonderful trip for many reasons!  It was a great road trip with my friend Suz.  We stopped in Pittsburg to see my best pal Gail, sadly, only for a few hours.  I worked with a student for a day at Princeton which was very productive.  We visited with Suz's parents in Philidelphia.  And the immersion was fantastic.  It was jam-packed with lectures. Dr. Fuhrman is so energetic and interesting, you really can listen to him for hours.  Even better was the food.  This is the main reason I go, though I did learn a lot from the lectures.  I thought I knew it all by now, but one thing I get out of the in-person lectures is what Dr. Fuhrman is passionate about, and what is less certain scientifically.  It helps reinforce what the most important things are to keep in mind.  But the food!  It was the best I've ever had at one of these events.  I think that was in large part due to Chef Martin Oswald's contributions.  He owns a nutritarian restaurant in Aspen, Colorado!  (called the Pyramid Bistro).  He gave a talk on the last day and I have been having fun putting his tips into practice!  We got the recipes from the immersion and slides from his talk.  They are worth a lot!

So today I'm back from the holidays and putting some of my new knowledge into action.  My soup today has Indian spices and I cooked up the onion as Chef Martin described:  first you heat up a stainless steel pot until hot, then put the onions and garlic in.  They sizzle up, slightly brown, and then release their juices.  You don't need oil, and they still gain a nice flavor.  Fun, it worked!  I did that with the leeks, celery, collards and kale too.  Then the pot was looking pretty burned and I thought, this will take forever to clean up.  But then I did the mushrooms the same way.  Well, they release so much liquid that it just ended up cleaning up the pot.  When they were done, the pot was clean.  ha!   a nice accidental discovery.  My soup was just my usual pile of things that I found in the co-op or my freezer.  I soaked beans, red himalayan rice, lentils, and purple barley overnight, and started cooking them in the morning.  Then cooked up the onions, garlic, celery, leeks, mushrooms, even the collards and kale, like Chef Martin described.  Added them to the pot one by one.  Oh I cooked up a festival squash in the oven, then added it to the soup after it cooled.  Oh yeah, and while cooking up the onion and other veggies, I added some graram masala and curry powder as they cooked.  Add the end I added some currants and fresh ground ginger.  It made for a nice hearty soup.  I froze most of it in single-serving containers.  yum.  I think I'll have it for breakfast every day.   I'll be doing my food prep at night this week.

My food plans for the week are soup for breakfast, and salad and roasted veggies for lunch and dinner.  The salads will be micro-salads made from lettuce, cabbage, maybe some broccoli and cauliflower, all cut up finely in the food processor; and topped with pomegranate seeds, grapefruit or orange, seed mixture, and flavored vinegar.  I love these.  The name should be changed from micro-salad to high-powered salad because it is so nutrient rich.  Tonight I'll experiment with roasted veggies.  I hope I can get this right.  I'm going to follow Chef Martin's advice to cover with foil at first so they essentially steam cook (before burning on the outside), then take of the foil to roast at the end.  I'll top with fresh herbs.  The veggies available now (that I like) are broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, onions, leeks, and sweet potato.  I'll do a little of each.  I am just learning to do this.  It would be nice to do a big batch and eat them for several days but I'm not sure how well they will keep.  I think I'll start off by just trying to do one day at a time and hope it isn't too time consuming.  I will add some flavored vinegar and mustard as marinate.  I got some fresh sage and rosemary at the co-op and have some basil from the garden in my freezer.  I hope this works!

Well, this post is long enough so I won't go into Thanksgiving much except to say I made apple sauce for my "brother-in law."  He had two 18 lb bags of apples!  holy cow, we had all the burners going:

It was fun though.  I nibbled a lot on the apples.  In fact, it was so much fun, we decided to make some for ourselves when we got home.  My batch has no sugar in it.  I'm not sure what I will use it in as I am not a great dessert maker or baker, the usual use of apple sauce.  But, heck, it probably could go in soup.

Here's tonight's quick salad I threw together, which is yummy, as salads always are:

That's got lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, blueberries, banana, small orange, seed mixture, and d'angou pear vinegar.

whew.  time to go fold laundry, then start tomorrow's food prep.  whew!  

New family home child care rules will improve safety, outcomes for children

On November 14, DEL filed revised rules for family home child care providers. The revisions focus on health, safety and positive outcomes for children.

What are rules for family home child care providers?
DEL is responsible for providing rules for all licensed child care providers to follow, which are found in Washington Administrative Code (WAC). Child care centers and family home child care providers are subject to different rules. The family home child care rules have not changed significantly since 2004; the changes we filed yesterday are the first major update to the rules since licensing oversight became DEL's responsibility. The new rules will take effect in March 2012.

What does this mean for parents and children?

  • Providers are required to communicate more information about the their child care philosophy and about each child's development.
  • Enhanced safety standards for playgrounds, food service, cribs, emergency preparedness, screen time, and nurture and guidance.
What does this mean for family home child care providers?
  • A streamlined background check process, through nonexpiring licenses and portable background checks.
  • All children ages 13 to 16 who live in the home are subject to noncriminal background checks, as are volunteers or assistants ages 14 to 16 who work in the family child care home.
  • Providers and their staff will be required to meet increased education and training standards. The new rules require, at a minimum, a high school education or equivalent. Current licensed providers have until March 31, 2017 to meet the minimum education requirement.
  • DEL licensors will work with providers in the coming months to make sure they understand the new rules.
How did DEL decide on the rule changes?
DEL formed a group called the negotiated rule-making team that was tasked with developing the rule changes. The team was made up DEL staff, family home child care providers, the family home providers union, and other early learning professionals. Starting in 2007, the team collaboarated with providers, legislators, parents and early learning professionals to develop research-based draft rules. DEL presented the draft rules at eight public meetings around the state on evenings and weekends in Spring 2011. As required by state law, DEL also shared the draft rules with Service Employees International Union 925, the union that represents family home child care providers.

Read the final rules.

Watch DEL Director Bette Hyde discuss new rules:

More information about the rules is available on our website:


Hi everyone,

I just posted two other posts below this one, so feel free to check them out.

How's your Thanksgiving Challenge going?   Mine is going fine.  To be honest, I'm not really doing a Challenge with a deadline, I'm just trying to live my life and enjoy my healthy eating as I go.  I'm concentrating on work right now.   So I'm chugging along with my healthy eating and exercise and work and play.  Note that Dr. Fuhrman is hosting a Holiday Challenge if you want to join that.  It starts on Nov. 21.

Despite my new emphasis on work, I planned several months ago to attend Dr. Fuhrman's Weekend Immersion which is coming up next weekend!  I'm driving out with nutritarian friend Suz.  We leave on Wed.  Should be fun.  Actually I will work with a colleague there on Friday before the immersion starts so I'm looking forward to that.

I've been eating a lot of squash the last few weeks.  Okay, I went a little overboard. I think when I get back from my trip, I will just have one squash a week that I'll dump into my soup after I cook both up during my weekend food prep fests.  But I have two more of these festival squashes which are really good and they are not too big.  I will eat one today, and one on Tuesday.  In fact, I am hungry now so looking forward to digging into part of it at lunch time.  Here's a picture of it, after baking and cooling:

It's so easy to prepare this way:  just throw it in the oven, bake for 1.5 hours at 350 F, let cool, then cut in half, remove the seeds, remove the good stuff and mix it in with your soup our just mash up with some pumpkin pie spice.  It's very moist when you bake it in the skin.  The skin tastes good too.  Lost of people shared their favorite cooking techniques on one of my previous posts here.

Oh, I've also been enjoying pomegranates the last few weeks!  I've had them in my micro salads with an apple too in addition to all the veggies.  That plus a little lime juice adds a great flavor.   This post describes what I've been doing on weekdays mostly.

The Pleasure Trap

I've mentioned in a few past posts, I am a huge fan of Dr. Douglas Lisle, an evolutionary psychologist who helps us "nutritarians" understand why it's so hard to go against the grain.  He follows Dr. McDougall's plan, and works Dr. Alan Goldhammer at the True North Health Center.  These are all very similar to Dr. Fuhrman's plan:  a whole foods, plant based diet with no oils, very limited refined sugars, and very limited salt.   This makes us very different from everyone else!

I had read Dr. Lisle's "The Pleasure Trap" once or twice before, but I finally sat down to watch the DVD over the last few weeks.  It consists of 3 lectures.  They were probably given at one of Dr. McDougall's Advanced Study Weekends, which are awesome (I've never attended but I purchased the online lectures from the last one and they are really interesting).   Anyway, back to the Pleasure Trap, I think the DVD is much better than the book!   Normally I prefer reading books, but I didn't get nearly as much out of the book in this case.  There are three concepts he gets across in the DVD (and book probably) and I only got one of them out of the book (duh).  These concepts are part of his, I think he calls it, the motivational triad, where all animals, including humans:
1. seek pleasure
2.  conserving energy
3. pain avoidance

You can see how each one of these can get us into trouble in today's artificial food world.  

1.  We seek pleasure.  We evolved to get pleasure from sweet and high-caloric foods because it helps us 2, conserve energy.   Of course, now we have an overabundance of highly addictive sweet, high fat, and high salt food.   The Pleasure Trap is a consequence of this.  This is:  if we don't eat these sweet and processed foods, we get plenty of pleasure from fruits and whole foods, and we have our ups and downs and obstacles and just go along and are sometimes happy and sometimes not.   If we start eating highly processed foods and drugs (caffeine, chocolate, sweets, even white bread), we get great stimulation and surges, great pleasure hits.  But here is the kicker:  we get used to it and after a while, the pleasure from eating these things comes more from the cessation of pain when we are withdrawing from them (e.g., before we have our morning coffee).  So after a while, we just have our same ups and downs and aren't getting anymore pleasure than the guy eating fruit and squash and rice and beans.  While it might not be easy, we can break this pleasure trap, and eat the healthy diet and get just as much pleasure.  To help people break the cycle, you can go to these health immersions that Dr. McDougall and Dr. Fuhrman offer, or go fast for a week at True North, then eat their food for a week, and totally reset your taste buds.  

2.  Conserving energy.  It's good to recognize that this is an intuitive motivational drive.  Now we see the problem with fast food drive up windows.  Talk about an easy way to get 1000 calories quickly!  Our ancestors never had it so easy.  This is also why we crave high-calorie foods.  We intuitively seek them out.   The way to address this is to consciously fill up on low-calorie foods.  Fortunately these are usually nutrient-dense, even while being low-calories--things like vegetables of all kinds.  After a period of abstinence you can lose your taste for fat.  I even find sugar is too sweet for me now.  even dates.  I love the sweetness in carrots (but then our local carrots are really good!).  

3.  Pain avoidance.  Oddly enough, you would think this is the least related to food issues, but for me, at the stage I'm at where I like eating this way and knowing how to do it in my sleep, this is the issue I am working on, and it's nice to understand better that it's because I'm a normal human that I struggle with this.  and that is, social pain!  We have a very strong evolutionary motivation to be accepted by our peers and fit in with them.  Our egos are designed to tell us where we stand in the hierarchy and who are friends are (I'm paraphrasing and might not have got this right, but it sounded fascinating!).  For me, going off plan is never about the taste of the food.  I don't like the taste anymore!   But I still do it occasionally, and for the dumbest of reasons--because the person in line in front of me is doing it!   It's about being one of them.  I thought about this at my meditation class last week.  Sometimes I look at unhealthy people and I think, I don't want to be like them, and yet, I do.  So I embraced them in my mind and I said, I am you and you are me and we are all the same (you tend to have these new agey thoughts when you meditate, ha!).  And when I think that way, then I can avoid the food.  I realize, I'm not rejecting them when I reject the food.  And hopefully they aren't rejecting me, which is what really counts from an instinctive perspective.  I think men and women are different on this in some ways in that men are more prone to the hierarchy and have to learn how to do their healthy-eating thing in a non-threatening way to the alpha brother-in-law they are spending the weekend with; and women are more prone to wanting to be accepted and to not offend and we have to learn how to interact in a way that we still feel we are accepted and fitting in.  Dr. Lisle describes different ways to respond to other people depending on their attitude.  I need to stop writing now, so I'll leave that for you to find out when you watch the DVD.  

Final Garden Harvest

Today after my jog, I stopped off at the garden, looked it over, and decided the collards and kale really aren't growing anymore, so it's time to harvest what's left and pull the plants.  We had a couple of hard freezes the last few weeks, and that is supposed to sweeten them up.  It appears to be the case as confirmed by my nibbles during harvest.    Here's a picture of the collards after one frosty night last week:

Today I cut off all the rest of the leaves, de-stemmed them, stuffed them into freezer bags, and put them in the downstairs freezer.  Here's a picture of the freezer:  

This is collards, broccoli leaves, cauliflower leaves, and brussels sprouts leaves (they all look like collards); brussels sprouts are in the door (not shown).  This is pretty easy to do.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, it will be even easier to cook them up, because if you crinkle them with your hands, immediately after taking them out of the freezer, they crumble into small pieces--that is, no chopping!   How easy is that?

These are so economical!  If I use one bag a week in soup, I think I've got several months worth of greens in the freezer!  Dang, we only paid about $10 for all these plants and they give us greens for at least 6 months of the year.

The kale is good enough to eat raw on salads, so I don't usually freeze it.  I harvested two big bags of it and hope to be able to eat it over the next week.  I will be traveling with a  nutritarian friend so maybe we can share it.

we eat good food

Today I got an appreciation of how much I’ve learned thelast 6 years of being a nutritarian.  Aco-worker was curious about my squash and I said “it’s squash mixed in with alittle veggie bean soup.”   I gave her ataste and she said, “You must have added lots of spices.”  I said, no that’s actually the taste of thesquash.  It’s very flavorful.   She said, I have no idea how to cook that.  I said, I just threw it in the oven for anhour.  Someone else chimed in saying youneed olive oil to keep it from drying out, and I said, no, just put it in wholeand the moisture stays in.  I think whenthe conversation ended, my friend still felt that squash was beyond her skilllevel (despite her Ph.D. in astrophysics). I suspect she thought you had to do something fancy to make it tastethat good.    That was me too 6 years ago.  I didn’t realize how good fresh high qualityproduce could taste.  I thought you hadto know a lot and put a lot of effort into making food taste good.  I relied on restaurants to supply me with thereally good food.  I figured, they were the professionals.  Now I realize whole foodshold fantastic flavors.  Processed andrestaurant foods can’t compete. 

It’s good to realize this because I sometimes get the sillynotion that I am deprived because I don’t get to enjoy the same foods aseveryone else.  Sure, my food can’tcompete with ice cream for pure stimulation. But pretty much everything else I make tastes a lot, and I mean, a lot,better than what I used to eat.

Winter Squash!

How did I go so long without appreciating winter squash?  Oh my gosh, my food has been so good this week.   I've been trying different squashes out.  Here's what I bought at the store:

That's festival, red kuri (I think), acorn, and delicata.  Today I bought a butternut.   The festival, which may also be called sweet dumpling or carnival (I think), was fantastic!   The delicata and red kuri were bland.  I read in wikipedia that red kuri gets real sweet when ripe so I think I'll let my second one sit around for a month and then try it.   Not sure I'll go for the delicata again.  The acorn was very good, definitely a repeat.  I've had butternut before, will have that tomorrow and I expect that will be good.  

Since I am the ultimate lazy cook, here's how I prepared them:   put them in the oven at 300 F for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Head of to exercise class.  return, turn off oven, let cool, cut open, remove some of the seedy stuff, leaving the yummy stuff, mix that in with soup.  The soup I made last weekend and froze in daily containers.  This had beans, tomatoes, some grains, lots of garden/local veggies, and some spices.   Oh, I also add some grated ginger and pumpkin pie spice to the mixture.  Here's a picture of my daily meals this week.  At left is the soup/squash mixture.  

At right are "micro-salads."  This is a bunch of veggies and fruit chopped in a food processor.  This week it was usually romaine lettuce, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, kale, apple, pomegranate seeds, orange juice and fruit infused vinegar.   Very yummy.   Today for a treat I had the same veggies, but mango, strawberries, raspberries, and banana for the fruit.  I had these fruits on hand for a fruit salad I made for housemate.   As usual, I ate carrots and kohlrabi while preparing.  

I might be boring and eat this way for a couple of weeks.  That's kind of what I do.  

Reporting on ECEAP, Head Start programs

DEL published two reports in recent weeks with the results of two important pre-K programs: ECEAP and Head Start.

ECEAP— Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program—helps 3- and 4-year-olds from low-income families prepare for success in school and life. Children who participate receive assistance with learning, nutrition and health and family support services. DEL just celebrated the 25th anniversary of this important program, which is primarily funded with money from the state.

The 2010-11 ECEAP Outcomes Report describes the program’s effect on children’s social-emotional development, learning and family engagement.
A few fast facts from the 2010-11 school year:

  • Total funding was $54.4 million; 98.3 percent of it went directly to local programs that serve children.
  • ECEAP had enough funding for 8,024 children. The program experienced a 13.9 percent turnover rate and its waiting list held more than 4,000 children.
  • DEL administered ECEAP through 40 contracts with educational service districts, school districts, community colleges, local governments and nonprofit organizations; 37 of 39 Washington counties were served at 260 sites.

Related information: ECEAP Making a Difference booklet
ECEAP, Head Start and Early Head Start Washington State Profile, 2011

This Profile provides an overview of public early childhood education programs in Washington state, which include:
  • ECEAP (described above)
  • Head Start: A national, high-quality early learning program for low-income children ages 3 through 5, but not yet eligible for kindergarten, and their families. The federal government provides grants to 30 organizations in Washington for these services.
  • Early Head Start: A national, high-quality program to promote healthy prenatal outcomes through services to low-income pregnant women, and promote early learning through services for low-income children from birth to 3 years old and their families. As with Head Start, the federal government provides grants to 27 local organizations in Washington to offer these services.
  • Migrant and Seasonal Head Start: A national, high-quality early learning program that serves low-income children birth through 5 years old, but not yet eligible for kindergarten, and their families who are migrant and seasonal farm workers. The federal government provides grants to local organizations to offer these services. There are two grantees in Washington.
  • American Indian/Alaska Native Head Start and Early Head Start: A national, high-quality early learning program that serves low-income American Indian and Alaska Native children birth through 5 years old, but not yet eligible for kindergarten, and their families. The federal government provides grants to tribal nations and organizations who provide these services. There are 17 grantees providing American Indian Head Start and eight providing American Indian Early Head Start services in Washington state.

The report describes the programs and they children and families they serve, approximately 25,000 children in the 2010-11 school year. The report includes specific examples from Washington state providers.

meetups and thoughts

My two nutritarian friends came into town on Friday and we had quite the feast:

I made sweet potatoes topped with black beans and greens etc and a dollop of soy yogurt (a recipe from the Fuhrman site).  We made salad from Holly's lettuce and pear, my red pepper and a yummy salad dressing from the Fuhrman site.  Holly made delicious stuffed mushrooms.   Suz brought curried squash on brown rice.   I got full eating all this great food.   After our feast, we went on a walk at Olbrich community gardens, and then went, where else, to the co-op.  That was interesting as we shared many food tips about all our favorite foods, as well as the ones we have to avoid (the cowgirl cookies are sometimes a challenge for me).  I got a lot of new ideas from our discussions as we strolled through the store.

Some quotable quotes were "I'm an unethical vegan" and "I'm a vegan on weekdays."

Today I heard a great quote:  "The best way to bring someone over to your cause is to have more fun than them."   For me, the biggest difficulty about eating healthy is sometimes thinking that I'm missing out on what everyone else is eating.  It's all in how you look at it.  I just need to think of it as I'm the lucky one, having the most fun eating the best food.   Along those lines, last weekend I was out on a walk at a conservancy and a group was roasting marshmallows over a fire and making s'mores.  Well, you know how those nostalgic feelings can make you wish you were joining them.   Today I was meditating in front of my fireplace (wow, is that ever easy to meditate in front of a fire!) and I was thinking about our ancestors roasting winter squash in their fire.  Then I realized, our difficulties in eating healthy usually arise from nostalgia for eating the things we used to eat and drink with our family and friends.   Maybe we just need to go back further in time.  The last 50 years are a blip on the history of our people.  Go back further, and we are talking sweets only on very special occasions.   So just let your nostalgia go a little further back in time and you can imagine roasting squash instead of marshmallows, and relishing a good fruit instead of ice cream.

weekend cooking

It's fall and my food choices are changing with the season.  It's winter squash time!   Here's what I'm planning to try this week:

And that's just for lunch and dinner.  I'm thinking sweet potatoes for breakfast.  I made a huge pot of soup using veggies from the garden mostly.  This has white lima beans, purple barley, onion, eggplant, collard greens, leeks, mushrooms, 2 cans of garden tomatoes, broccoli, and italian spices.  I froze it into several containers to eat during the week.  I still have some containers from my last batch of soup so I can have some variation.  Here's my plan for the week--don't know if I will like it, I'll know tomorrow--brekky will be sweet potato topped with bean soup--I'm usually hungry after exercise class.   Here's an example from today's lunch:

This also has banana, fresh ginger and cilantro.  It tasted quite good.  

Lunch and dinner will be salad (cabbage, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, seed mixture, vinegar) topped with squash, soup, apple, and pomegranate seeds, and probably some fresh ginger.  The squash I'm hoping will be easy to prepare, just baking in the oven.  I'll microwave it to heat it up.  I have no idea what this will taste like, but I expect it will be pretty good.  I mean, almost any mixture of veggies and fruit and greens tastes good.

Here's a quickie large salad I made tonight:  cabbage, spinach, romaine, broccoli, then some pomegranate seeds, seed mixture, and fruit-infused vinegar.

Here's one of my most favorite treats.  I ate this yesterday while making house mate's smoothies.  It's just frozen mango, frozen blueberries, and a little d'angou pear vinegar (optional).  I love this.  It's easy to make thoroughly enjoyable food out of simple ingredients.


hello fellow friends from around the world, welcome.

Blogs and meetups

This blog has very appetizing-looking and healthy recipes!

Yesterday I attended an excellent talk by John Allen Mollenhauer, a lifestyle coach.  Wow, I'm tempted to hire him!  His website is called Nutrient Rich.  He has a free ebook called "Break Free of the Diet Traps!".  I downloaded it and looked it over and found some helpful things in it.  

Tomorrow I'm going to meet up with some nutritarian friends, yea!

And if I have time I'll attend the Whole Foods supper club on Thursday.  

That's a lot of nutritarian socializing.  Hopefully that will become the norm!

DEL updates House Early Learning & Human Services Committee on progress

Leaders from the Department of Early Learning (DEL) presented to the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee on Wednesday about our progress in several areas since the Legislature adjourned in May. Watch the presentation to hear the latest on the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant, efforts to promote quality in licensed child care, home visiting and more.

The PowerPoint presentation DEL used is available online here.

Checking in

I'm back to a busy busy schedule at work so it's hard to post on week days.  How are you doing on the Pre-Thanksgiving Challenge?   I overate 3 days on fruit and nuts, which is not good, but...I'm just observing it for now and letting myself learn the lessons I need to learn.   I want healthy eating to be a choice, not an exercise in willpower. I usually feel like eating the most healthy foods in proper quantities.  I guess I'm just letting myself be reminded of that through experience.

As I mentioned before, one of my goals for the challenge is to optimize my protein intake.  I'm trying to get stronger at the gym and want to help that with my food intake.  I'm monitoring my food intake with cronometer.  Now this is just something fun I'm doing so don't feel you should have to do this also:  Following Dr. Fuhrman's food plan will provide you with plenty of all your necessary nutrients.  But it is instructive to see what foods have the highest protein.  I can see where I can tweak to get more protein.  For example, I can cut back my raw carrots a bit and replace them with sweet peas.  I love peas so that's easy to do. The other thing that's very noticeable is that fruit has a lot less protein per calorie than green veggies (leafy or otherwise).  But fruit has a lot of other healthy nutrients so it should be part of the diet.  I find 1-1.5 lbs per day of fruit is a good amount for me.  I've been eating veggie bean soup and also putting edamame in my salads every day.    The combination of the soup, edamame, and lots of green veggies in the salads gives me about 14% protein which is good for building muscles.  I could optimize it more but I love me carrots.  Today I got some mediterranean pine nuts from Dr. Fuhrman.  He recommends these and pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds for optimal protein after a workout (along with beans and veggies).  I'll add those in to next week's salads.

Washington throws its hat in the ring for federal early learning grant

Washington state has submitted its application for a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant. The federal grant will provide $500 million in state-level competitive grants to improve early learning and development programs. The Department of Early Learning (DEL) is leading Washington’s application for the grant, which could bring up to $60 million to our state over four years to support early learning for our children.

RTT-ELC is meant to help states raise the quality of early learning programs so that children start school ready to succeed.
Governor Chris Gregoire said of Washington's application, “This application is bold and it is ambitious, but it is also achievable, and that is what the grant competition is all about. We have submitted a plan that will push our state forward in providing the kind of high-quality early learning opportunities our youngest learners need and deserve."

Washington's application lays out a plan for how to use the grant money:

  • Expand the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS), our state’s kindergarten readiness assessment, to include all incoming kindergarteners by school year 2014-15.
  • Take to scale our state’s quality rating and improvement system, which helps early learning programs improve the quality of care and education they provide to young children and provides information on quality to families.
  • Enhance the state professional development system by offering awards and incentives to those who work with and care for young children.
"This is an important opportunity to help Washington children," DEL Director Bette Hyde said. "Washington is uniquely positioned to move forward quickly if we win a grant because of the work we’ve already done with WaKIDS and QRIS."

DEL created a webpage to keep the early learning community informed about progress on RTT-ELC. That page includes fast facts about Washington's application.

The Associated Press ran a story about Washington's application, "State seeks $60M from feds for preschools."

Today, DEL representatives updated the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee about the RTT-ELC and other DEL news. That hearing will be available on TVW's website.

DEL will continue to tweet information about the application and related news using the hashtag #rttt (which stands for Race to the Top) at

More success stories

Laurenstyle lost 5.6 lbs, reached her exercise goal of working out 5x/week, even in the pouring rain!  And she reached her third goal of Learning to appreciate the journey of ETL.  I thought here wording of the last goal was inspiring:

Iam appreciating and so GRATEFUL for the journey. It’s truly become a way oflife.  It’s hard to document all that’s happenedin this area, but it’s definitely powering a shift in all areas of my life. I have a whole new work ethic and am accomplishingthings as never before. Not only my ability to focus and concentrate, but my abilityto be more efficient, compassionate, a good listener, develop creative solutions and justenjoy my fellow coworkers has just skyrocketed.

Suzette lost 17 lbs!   Here goal was 20.  That's great!  She also is helping family members adopt this eating style.

tejasjjain struggled at first (how many of us have been there?!) but got on track and her habit of late night snacking is almost gone!   She "only" lost 4 lbs.  Hello, that's great!

Lois made substantial gains:  giving up her regular glass of wine, and working on her overating tendencies.  She has the same problem as me, getting too thin when 100% compliant, and then over-reacting by over-eating, sometimes off plan.  Someone else on this challenge has this problem too.  Interesting, huh?

Linda did a lot of successful detective work with her auto-immune food triggers.  As she said, she knocked this one out of the park!  A combination of fasting and various food selections refined her food choices.   Her second goal was to expand her repertoire of recipes that her son can enjoy.  She accomplished this one too.  Finally, she wanted to get more exercise.   She still has work to do on this one--hopefully in our next challenge!

Dru conquered her date overeating tendencies and can now have them in the house again.  And she bought a new wardrobe.  She definitely wants to stay on plan so she can continue to wear her new smaller clothes!

Thanks everyone for participating.  We're doing a new challenge (no vitamix award, sorry!).  Here's the post on that.