Archive for April 2011

Tomorrow's food

On the road again and having fun of course.  Here are my salads for tomorrow!

Here's what in them:
1 head romaine lettuce, 221 g, 38 calories
spinach, 121 g, 28 calories
kale, 71 g, 36 calories
cauliflower, 232 g, 58 calories
broccoli, 184 g, 63 calories
mushrooms, 205 g, 45 calories
1 medium red bell pepper, 128 g, 40 calories
purple cabbage, 223 g, 69 calories
1 apple, 178 g, 93 calories
1 banana, 114 g, 101 calories
4 Tbsp flavored vinegar, 60 g (normally I'd have 3 but I miscounted), 32 calories
1 can chickpeas, 360 g, 428 calories
1 oz seed mixture, 28.5 g, 159 calories

Total calories is 1158, total protein 55 g (14%), total fat 22g (17%), carbs 219 g (69%).   I'll also eat a bunch of raw carrots, and maybe some fruit after we go to the grocery store.

The breakdown shows that 377 calories came from veggies (33%), 194 calories came from fruit (17%), and 587 calories from beans and seeds (50%).   Normally I eat fewer beans and more fruit.  Most of the fat comes from the chickpeas and seed mixture (17 g).   Most of the protein comes from the chickpeas (17 g)  and mushrooms (6 g) and seed mixture (6 g).  Next is broccoli (5 g), cauliflower (4 g), cabbage (3 g),  spinach (3 g), lettuce (2 g), kale (2 g), and peppers (1 g).  Of course, the protein per calorie is highest in the veggies, with mushrooms the winner.   By weight, the veggies total 1385 g or 3.05 lbs, and the fruit totals 292 g or 0.64 lb.  Normally I have 1-2 lbs fruit.  I'll get more tomorrow at the store.

Time to prepare the food: 1.5 hours.  On the other hand, we didn't spend time in restaurants. I ate the meals in the car.  We had a lot of distance to cover.  Cost:  probably as much as a restaurant.  But the quality is way higher.

Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) earns nine out of 10 quality points

Once again, Washington’s publicly funded preschool program ranks among the top in the nation, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research.
Our state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) earned nine out of 10 quality points in the national organization’s 2010 Preschool Yearbook, released April 25. The quality checklist ranks several standards, including:
  • Whether the state has comprehensive early learning standards.
  • Staff-to-child ratios
  • Class sizes
  • Teacher qualifications
  • Screening/referral and support services
  • Program monitoring
Data shows that the more than 8,000 3- and 4-year-olds being served in ECEAP this school year will enter kindergarten better prepared for success in school and life. And we know they have big dreams for the future. Students in one northwest Washington ECEAP classroom recently shared their hopes with their teacher, and here’s what they said:
  • A police officer.
  • A cowboy.
  • An astronaut.
  • A doctor.
  • I want to work where my dad works.
  • How about a papi like my papi.
  • A baker.
  • A motorcycle rider.
  • A mommy.
  • Go to work at Costco like my dad.
  • A pilot and fly a jet.
  • Drive a fire truck.
  • An electrical engineer. I’m going to design electricity all over the world, even in poor places.
  • A singer.
  • A teacher.
  • Be in the army.
  • Go to college.
  • A painter.
  • A cowgirl.
  • A big kid.
  • A builder.
  • A worker at Denny’s.
  • A farmer.
For more information about ECEAP, visit

Radical eating

If you read my most recent post, you might think I'm crazy.  I prefer to use the term radical.  Yep, I'm radical.  It's radical to bypass the health care system and become financially independent by simply not having debts or high health care costs.  I don't need to save for retirement because I don't want to retire.  If my health doesn't suffer, I will have energy and enthusiasm to work, in a job of my choosing, even minimum wage, until the day I die, hopefully well into my nineties.  I described in this post how changing your diet has more impact on changing the world than anything else you can do.

If you are new to this blog and wondering why I say what you eat determines your health, please see the "highlighted posts" at the right side of the page; in particular, the FAQs, and how my health has improved.  Some of the others describe how to do it (e.g., here, and here and here and here), but you should adopt the eating to your lifestyle, as did I.

My 6-week plan

I just finished Dr. Fuhrman's 6 week plan on Sunday!   Okay, for those who know me, I'm a long-time nutritarian (at least 5 years) so why would I go on the 6-week plan?   Because I needed some motivation!  I was overeating the healthy foods and even craving the unhealthy foods!   I was in a dangerous position.  So I figured I needed a reset.  The 6-week plan did it.  I feel great, motivated, and not at all desirous of unhealthy foods.  Those Paul Newman peanut butter cups no longer call to me.  Though I might try one some day, I'm totally not in the mood for it right now.   

Here are some things I did that aren’t exactly what Dr. Fuhrman recommends:

1) I monitored my calories (using
CRON-o-meter).  Not only does it help me to eat enough calories, it also shows me the foods to limit. It teaches me that nuts and seeds are a condiment, not to be eaten in large quantities. And it shows me that I can eat a lot more of some of my favorite foods like sugar snap peas, yum!    It also helped me proportion my food during the day so I wouldn't go too hungry before exercise.  As time went on, I saw my appetite correspond with my calorie intake, so I was getting in touch with my body's true hunger signals. Now i don't feel like I need to monitor my calories.
2) I ate rather enormous amounts of raw veggies during the week (Dr. Fuhrman recommends ~1 lb raw and ~1 lb cooked a day, and I eat at least 3 lbs of raw veggies per weekday). Every weeknight when I get home I prepare tomorrow’s meals, which consist of
confetti salads, which I divide into 2 meals. The third meal might be manna bread or sweet corn, bean soup and raw carrots and sugar snap peas. I make big batches of bean soup on the weekend and freeze it in 1-cup servings for the week. The salads taste great, and take a long time to eat and I enjoy that.

Here is what motivated me:
A friend of mine likes to get streaks going to motivate her to exercise. For example, she has a daily walking streak going that started in February. I asked, how do you deal with breaking the streak? I mean, if you end the streak, do you lose your motivation? I’m worried if you applied that to dieting, you could set up that binge routine where if you go off plan, you say, okay I’ll start my diet tomorrow and go crazy today. She said she has a little flexibility: If she misses a day, she can make it up by walking twice in 1 day within 5 days, and she can bank days for later by walking twice in one day. That factors in real life. So I came up with these rules for myself to be in the healthy-eating streak:

1. Allowed: unlimited veggies, 1-2 lbs fruit, beans(1-2 cups/day), whole grains (1 serving/day), nuts & seeds (max 2 oz/day), very limited dried food on occasion (max 2 oz).
2. Not allowed, mostly (see item 9 below): Animal products, refined grains, processed sugars, oils, salt, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate (the caffeine bothers me, unfortunately!).
3. Eat lots of GOMBS: greens, onions, mushrooms, beans/berries, seeds.
4. No Overeating.
5. Limit snacking
6. Limit tea (herbal)
7. Max calories per day: 2000. That's way more than enough for me, but allows for an occasional splurge. Typical calories should be at or below 1500 for me to maintain.
8. Try to eat while sitting down most of the time. Try not to eat during food prep most of the time.
9. To stay on streak, no more than 500 calories of "unhealthy" food allowed in the last 7 days. This is not expected to be used every 7 days! Just on special occasions.

My streak is now 43 days and counting. The only unhealthy food I ate was a spoon of a nut-apple mixture that contained honey--I didn’t know it until later, or I wouldn’t have eaten it (it was supposed to be made with figs).  Overall I was more strict than my own guidelines because I was doing the 6-week plan, so limited to 1 oz seeds per day and 1 cup beans and no dried fruit until the last night (1 small fig).

Here are some of my observations:

1. I feel great. I’ve felt great for about 3 weeks now. I’ve been happier and more alert than I have been for months. I need less sleep.
2. Prior to this, when I overate on Fuhrman allowed foods, especially fruit and nuts, I felt crummy. And they led to food cravings, including SAD (Standard American Diet, i.e., junk food). Conclusion, overeating on even Fuhrman-allowed foods is not healthy, especially fruits, dates, and nuts. For me, Dr. Fuhrman desserts need to be carefully portioned. But I welcome them occasionally!
3. The 6-week plan does a great job resetting your taste preferences. Dr. Fuhrman and others are right: this is enough time to change your habits and preferences. It really does work to do this as close to 100% as you can for a period of time. I’d say it was at around the 30 day mark when the habits and preferences were established. I have no desire for SAD treats that I was craving a few months ago. Now I’m wondering why I was craving them, why would you want that? In other words, now it’s not hard to stay on plan, it’s a preference. I don’t want to spoil my taste buds with too intense sweet because I really enjoy the subtle flavors I taste in vegetables now.
4. My weekly treat was a portion of the
smoothies I make for housemate.  Other than that, I don’t eat smoothies. They are a bit too sweet, go down too fast, and leave me wanting more. I prefer my more leisurely eaten chopped salads. They are finely enough chopped that I think I am absorbing plenty of nutrients from them.
5. My average calorie intake over the 6 week period was 1370. It increased a bit over the 6 week period as my activity levels increased. I suspect that 1400-1500 is a good maintenance value for me when exercising regularly. My calorie intake varied with activity levels. This shows I was in touch with true hunger. Also of interest to me was my average protein intake of 58 g per day. That’s about 1 g/kg of body weight for me, sufficient for an endurance athlete but not a strength athlete, according to Dr. Fuhrman’s
newsletter #42 (Fueling the vegan athlete). That’s good enough for me because I’m not an athlete, just a person who likes to exercise.
6. My weight dropped a little. I am already thin, though I gained a few lbs after I broke my elbow in January, because my activity levels were low and I wasn’t paying attention to true hunger. I weigh a few lbs more than I did 6 months ago but I think I prefer this weight. It feels right. I am 5’9”, weigh 121.  Now I know what you are thinking--you are too thin!  No, I actually saw Dr. Fuhrman last summer and he said I was fine.  I just naturally do not make a lot of muscle mass which is why I'm not a great athlete, darn it.
7. I need goals and motivation. I
posted recently about the excellent books I've been reading on positive psychology and meditation. Sarah Taylor said at last year’s Health Getaway: motivation is a daily practice. I lost my motivation for a while both as a nute and in my work. Fortunately I have both back now, and realize I need to actively work on my motivation. Right now, the streak is a fun game for me.
8. I listen to audiotapes while preparing food (lately on books mentioned above). This is very enjoyable and it also helps me not to eat during food prep because it’s harder to hear the audio when I’m crunching on a carrot.
9. I learned what exercise I really like to do. This was an accidental discovery during my arm rehab. My pre-broken elbow workouts were intense exercise classes that I think wore me out too much. Now I do a gentle and relaxing stretching and dumbbell weight routine in the morning (1 hour), ride my bike to work (1 hour), and do swimming or yoga in the evening (1 hour). I’ve realized that I love these forms of exercise and will give up other things to include this in my daily routine. I might try to add running into the mix. In the summer, weekends will be more biking and kayaking.

So yesterday started my new 6 weeks. What should my goal be this time? I think I will try to get in touch more with hunger and fullness. My secondary goals can be to try to eat mindfully, eat while sitting down and not eating while preparing food—most of the time, (let's go with 51%, heh).

Seeds to Success field test near end; DEL prepares to expand statewide

On June 30, the field test will end for Seeds to Success, our state’s quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) and the Department of Early Learning (DEL) will begin moving toward statewide expansion.

QRIS programs offer information about child care quality to help parents find the right child care for their families. There are 25 states with programs, including Pennsylvania, Colorado and Massachusetts.

DEL partnered with Thrive by Five Washington to conduct the field test in five communities (Thrive demonstration communities of East Yakima, White Center, and Spokane, Clark and Kitsap counties). Working with the communities, Thrive, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we’ve developed and tested quality standards, evaluated incentives and supports for child care providers, and created a nationally recognized program that has served about 3,000 children and 90 child care providers statewide. We have learned a great deal about what works and what can be improved to better support child care providers in creating quality environments.

In recognition of their work to ensure high-quality learning environments for Washington’s children, eligible field test participants will have the opportunity to continue with the program. They will become early adopters of the final QRIS model and continue to receive continue to receive training and support to improve child care. Application criteria for early adopters will be availablein May.

DEL is committed to expanding Seeds statewide. After June 30, we will have the final data to refine the quality standards and begin building the technology, policies and systemwide training necessary to expand to more communities. This work will take time, and DEL does not anticipate inviting new child care centers and family homes to participate until next year.

Nationally and here in our state, QRIS is a top priority. Washington is one of 10 states nationwide invited to partner with the federal Office of Child Care to ensure our system aligns with federal benchmarks and priorities. Moving forward on QRIS is a key strategy of the 10-year statewide Early Learning Plan and the report delivered to the Legislature by the Professional Development Consortium in December 2010. DEL has prioritized a portion of our federal funding in the next biennium for this work.

To learn more about the Seeds to Success model, visit

Financial considerations

Today I saw my financial advisor.  He recommended I get disability insurance.  I said, what are the most common causes?  He said, mental problems, health problems, and car accidents.   For me I suppose it would be bike accidents.  But I said, no thanks.  He recommended I get a longterm health care insurance.  I asked what are the most common uses of this very expensive policy?  He said, stroke, chronic illnesses--e.g., heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc.  I said, nah.  He then recommended I move some money from here to there, bla bla bla. I said okay.  I figure it will all go away in the crash of 2025 anyway.  But it won't matter because I hope to be healthy and able to work until the day I die.  I like working and if I feel good, why should I stop?  So why do I need to save money?  Well, I'm not really, I'm giving it away to financial institutions.  hmm, maybe there's a better place to give it away?

This is a little bit tongue in cheek, but I do think the financial consequences of eating a truly healthy diet are truly liberating.

good blogs

There are more and more healthy eating blogs out there.  It's great!   I don't know if more people are eating healthy or if more healthy eaters are blogging (sigh, probably the latter)  but it's still a good trend.  Here's two that I discovered recently:

The Vegan Next Door, by Sarah Taylor, who is a motivational speaker.  She was master of ceremonies at Dr. Fuhrman's Getaway last year.  She also wrote a book, Vegan in 30 Days.  I like all of her posts, but her most recent resonates with me.  I had a rough year last year (for no good reason--I was struggling to be happy) and it showed in my overeating.  It is good to ask yourself what is really bothering you when you want to overeat.  She has another interesting post about motivation.  She says one of the best ways to motivate yourself is to "find something that has extreme leverage (or priority) over your current habits."  So for example, learning about how animals are turned into food turned her into a vegan immediately, as it did me.   I do not use willpower or self-control to keep me on the path of healthy eating--that is too hard!  I may go to extremes to modify my environment to make it easy to eat healthy (see yesterday's post!), but that's easier than using willpower and self-control.   A couple of other posts I enjoyed reading were Vicki's secret to weight loss, and What's your number?

Vegan hearts fruit, by Jasmin.  She is a young healthy eater.  They are so rare, I wanted to give her a shoutout.  Kudos to you for taking control of your health before it takes control of you.  Jasmine is a student living in Vienna.  She seems to like fruit a lot.  Me too!

tomorrow's food

Tomorrow is my all-day trip home, yea!  Trader Joe's makes it so easy!   Here's the food selection (sorry, bad lighting and old iphone):

That's (from bottom left going up and around) mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, romaine lettuce, seed mixture, strawberries, onion, orange, sugar snap peas (really good), cabbage and carrots.
The salad's are prepared in a jiffy:

I'll eat one before I go, and pour vinegar on the others in the morning.  For show and tell, I packed them in their bags,

and into the carry-on bag:

But for now they are back in the fridge until tomorrow.

I calculated this is 1100 calories, which is usually not enough for me, but today I had 1300 and was overfull.  I'll eat something when I get home if I'm still hungry.

Think I'm crazy?   You know, after seeing many of my colleagues on this trip that I've known for years and seeing their health problems, I don't care.  I am so happy eating this delicious food, and having my health.

The best food on this trip were the strawberries and sugar snap peas, so I had them every day.  It's really hard to beat that at any restaurant.

Love.Talk.Play: New statewide campaign launches!

Parenting isn’t always easy. Now there’s a new resource that helps parents of babies and toddlers understand three simple actions they can take to give their child a great start in life: Love. Talk. Play.

The statewide education and awareness campaign kicks off this week, which is the National Week of the Young Child. “Love. Talk. Play.” is shaped by information from national early learning experts, conversations with parents, and input from local early learning coalitions and other partners.

We at the Department of Early Learning are proud to join our partners at Thrive by Five Washington and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction as primary sponsors of this effort. Parent awareness is a key strategy in the statewide Early Learning Plan.

Visit to learn more!

Positive Psychology, happiness, and motivation

I've been listening and reading a lot of books on positive psychology this year.  I heard about this fairly new field of psychology back in January and I've just been fascinated ever since.  After so many years of investigating what's wrong with people, psychologists started to ask what are the characteristics of thriving, happy people?  There's a lot to learn from these books. I guess the short answer is that meditation; getting immersed in your work or hobby; having a good relationship with your partner, or family, or friends; and feeling part of something larger (religion or community) are all key ingredients that lead to happiness.  It seems obvious but there are a lot of interesting things in there.  I didn't realize work was so important.  I thought I was mistaken to work so hard all my life but it turns out that was a good thing.  Last year I decided to work less and I was less happy.   I am a really lousy meditator, but I'm thinking I will make time for that and give it a try.  I have a hard time sitting still!

Why am I posting about this here?   Because I think there's a lot in the books that can help a person be motivated to eat healthy.  Dr. Fuhrman teaches us what to do, but it goes so much again the grain of our society, that it ends up being very hard for most people who try this.  I think these books really help.  Instead of feeling different and embarrassed about my food choices in public situations, I'm learning to feel  proud of my choices and accomplishments.  Here's a list of some of the books I've read so far, listed in order of my favorites (but it totally depends on your own geekiness and other personality traits which you would like most, and I like them all):  The Happiness Hypothesis, Flow, Authentic Happiness, The Happiness Advantage, and Positivity.  I'm listening to The Joy of Living right now.

Another book that is more directly related to eating healthy is the Beck Diet Solution.   It uses Cognitive Therapy to make you "think like a thin person".  I translate that to "think like a healthy person."  You learn to change your habits through training and replacing "sabotaging thoughts" with "helpful responses."  An author I recently discovered who I think I like even better is Linda Spangle.  She wrote "100 days of Weight Loss" and "Life is Hard, Food is Easy:  The 5-step plan to overcome emotional eating and lose weight on any diet."   She offers a free 100-day workbook on her website.

Finally, another book directly related to eating healthy is The Pleasure Trap.  This is an excellent book about the physiology and psychology of eating healthy vs unhealthy foods; it discusses the difference between happiness and pleasure.  I've posted about it before here.

looks yummy

so many good recipes on the blogs these days!

Here's one for spicy African stew from Peas and Thank You. I don't have a slow cooker so I'd just cook it on the stove top burner. and since I don't ever make veggie stock, I'd probably just juice some carrots and celery for that. It looks yummy.

Healthy Girl's Kitchen has been cooking up some of Chef AJ's recipes. The latest is Sweet Potato Nachos. This looks easy and good! I gotta try this soon. I love sweet potatoes. next weekend!

Virtually Vegan Mama has another great cookie recipe (looks great, I haven't tried it yet): Sunflower Seed Butter Oatmeal cookies. I'd substitute raisins for the carob chips (after looking at the ingredients of carob chips, kind of icky and not vegan). You could substitute chocolate chips for a treat, knowing they are not health-promoting, but it can be a planned cheat.

Lastly, I just discovered a new blog called The Reduction Project. This gal is eating her way through a new cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz called Appetite for Reduction. Isa is an amazing, creative cook who has embraced healthy whole foods eating. We are so lucky!

Dead Fat

I'm reluctant to post this because it's disturbing, but it's also powerful and I think compassionately done. This is a documentary by Stephen Nolan called Dead Fat. Stephen Nolan is a radio personality in northern Ireland. Here is a BBC article about the documentary--see this for more description of the film.

Here is the documentary in 4 parts on U-Tube.

I think he does an excellent job presenting this. In fact, I think he's a hero. I am really impressed by him. He, like most other people, has no idea how to lose weight and get his health back (I only discovered it by accident). Several people from the Fuhrman forums have contacted him to suggest he look into Dr. Fuhrman's program. I hope he gets interested to have a look!


I'm on a whirlwind business trip to California. I've been working every waking hour for a couple of weeks and I am happy to say I have the evening off tonight. Even though I have to work this weekend, it will be easier than it has been the last few weeks, so I'm feeling pretty relaxed again. Food prep has been really easy. My hotel room comes with a nice sized fridge and there is a Trader Joe's grocery store not too far away. Trader Joe's is great when you are traveling because they have all this pre-packaged produce (not good for the environment I admit, but oh so convenient when you can't bring all your own supplies with you). I'm loving the salads I've been making. They only take about 5 minutes to make because everything is prechopped and in convenient-size bags. Here's my favorite right now:

This is romaine lettuce, spinach, edamame, mushrooms, onions, broccoli and cauliflower. The only thing I had to chop was the onions. I bought some balsamic vinegar to pour on top which is really good. This is a really hearty, filling salad. I've eaten two foods I've never had before, well, sort of: fresh edamame and fresh English peas. I've only had frozen before. The peas are very different fresh. Very interesting--more hearty in some way. The edamame is scrumptious fresh, but unfortunately, I discovered too late that they have salt, so I will not be buying them again, wah. If it were just a little that'd be okay but it's a fair amount. The other super yummy thing right now is fresh strawberries! They are especially sweet. I think this is peak season in California. I'm eating a pound a day. And I'm eating blackberries too. So I'm eating like a queen. I feel a little self conscious around my colleagues because I prefer to bring my own food and not eat the catered food (we're in meetings all day). It does make me feel odd and wonder if I'm crazy. But then I see something like what I'm going to post about next, and I really don't want to change. I do like fitting in, being the human social creature that I am, but it's just not going to happen in the eating department. Plus, I've been an oddball all my life so I should be used to it by now at the ripe old age of 51.

Families move off child care subsidy waiting list, onto program

On April 1, the Department of Early Learning (DEL) began notifying about half of families on the Working Connections Child Care (WCCC) subsidy waiting list that space is now available for them on the program. We are sending letters to 1,431 families letting them know they have 10 days to call and complete the application process.

WCCC helps families with low incomes pay for child care while they work or meet WorkFirst participation requirements. DEL began the waiting list on March 1 to help balance a shortfall in the WorkFirst budget. The program now serves a maximum of 35,200 families each month. DEL determines how many families can be pulled from the waiting list after looking at program usage and payment data.

Families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits and families of children with special needs have priority access to WCCC. Remaining families with incomes at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible for WCCC on a “first come, first served” basis.

Find out more by visiting the WCCC page on the DEL website.