Archive for August 2011

Challenge motivation

Hi everyone, The 6-week challenge starts in 2 hours.  Here are some motivational thoughts that help keep me on track:

1) I live in my food universe.  There is infinite variety of delicious foods to choose from in this universe.  I will be satisfied and happy if I stay in this universe.   Today I watched a friend eat a big ole' burger and fries.   It did not compute.  :)

2)  Now is as good a time as any to get started, regardless of our current circumstances.  Once you are healthy and thin, you will have circumstances too and that won't stop you from continuing to be healthy and thin (I hope).  I'm happy to see a lot of people doing the challenge even though circumstances during the 6 weeks are not ideal (vacation, parties, restaurant plans, hanging out with old buddies).  That is life!

3) I am most likely to stray and overeat when I'm tired.  Maybe I should just go to bed early if I'm tired.  I consider that a luxury!  more satisfying than eating!

Tomorrow I'm taking the day off.  When I get back in the evening, I'll post the challenge participants and brief goals--unless there is objection to the latter.  I'll also post my food logs since some people like to see an example.

I think I will go experience the luxuriousness of bed now.

Challenge starts in 27 hours!

Well, some of us eager beavers started already.

So far I have 26 participants though I don't have all the info for all of them.  I will post all the participants (screen-names) on Sept. 1 so you can check to see if I missed you.

If you have any questions, please comment to any post or email me at   If you want a review of the challenge, you can just scroll back to read some posts, or go directly to these posts:

I wrote some tips for beginners here:

Some people like me to post my daily meals so I am fine doing that during the challenge. For fun, I can even log my food with cron-o-meter.  Talk about making me accountable!   Just note that I consider my food to be pretty boring.  I like it, but I don't do anything gourmet.  During the week, I throw together my meals in the morning before work, and during the weekend I'd rather play outside than cook.  I like veggies a lot and stay away from the sweet treats.  I link to other blogs (below at right) that show much more thrilling recipes.   I love healthy sweet treats and would like to convince all my nutritarian friends to make them for me on special occasions but I'm not interested to make them myself.  I'm looking forward to eating great food at Dr. Fuhrman's weekend immersion in November.

Add your comments/progress reports to any post and I'll note them.  I get an email notification of each comment.

Eating Healthfully when traveling

Excellent travel advice from Carrie on Vegan:

I've got several posts describing what I do when I travel:

Guidelines for Healthy Nutrition and Weight Loss

Howard at Lifestyle Power developed this graphic that describes how to eat healthy.  It looks pretty good.  What do you think, is it useful for you?
His blog has lots of good information and links to articles, including a recent show from CNN called The Last Heart Attack.

fun Oatmeal recipes

This is from Healthy girl's kitchen ,who I believe is joining our 6-week challenge, yea!

Today's food

In case this helps newbies starting the 6-week challenge, I'll try to log the food I eat (like I used to).  You can let me know if this is useful to you or not.  Here's what I did today.

Brekky:  went on an early-morning bike ride.  stopped at a bakery.  don't worry I didn't eat anything there--my friend had something or another.  I could have gone to the co-op next door for some fruit but I got distracted by a flat tire.  ate a large peach and some raw veggies when I got home.

Lunch:  yummy salad, super yummy corn on the cob, yummy tomato.  The salad had cabbage, spinach, summer squash, cilantro, edamame, tomatoes, bell pepper, balsamic vinegar, and seed mixture.

snack:  kiwi, raw carrots and sugar snap peas

dinner:  lots more  of the lunch salad, small baked oriental yam (these are the best sweet potatoes!).  dessert:  small bowl of frozen blueberries and mango.

Tips for Beginners

Some people starting the 6-week challenge have not read or finished Dr. Fuhrman's healthy eating books.  I highly recommend reading either Eat to Live or Eat for Health.  I think until you ingest the information, you will not understand fully what healthy eating really is and what it can do for you.  In the meantime, here is a set of posts I've written in the past on healthy eating that might help guide you a bit as you get started:

Here's another link Jim sent me today that could be very helpful for someone starting out:
It's a program to try healthy vegan eating for 21 days.

Also you may be motivated now but if you need a little help later, here are some posts about motivation:

Week -1, post your progress here!

Some people, including myself are starting the challenge early.    Add your comments below on your goals and progress.

I will post in the comment section too so we're all on equal footing.  My screen name is "kneecap" by the way.

My goals for the 6-week challenge

Here are my goals:
Eat health promoting food, not too much.  Don't eat disease-promoting food.

How to do this?  I like Dr. Fuhrman's 6 week plan, described in his book Eat to Live and this blog post. Another healthy plan is Dr. McDougall's Maximum Weight loss plan, described in his book, and in this newsletter.  Both of these can be modified if more calories are needed by adding additional grains, starchy vegetables, fruit, and nuts and seeds.

I misbehaved several times this summer, enough to say I'm not "walking the walk."  So I want to reset and I want to stick with this forever.  From my experimentation this summer I learned that I'm not missing much.  Sure, some things do taste really good (the most unhealthy things), but most of it is not as desirable to me as my healthy food.  As Laurie, a famous nutritarian from the Fuhrman forums, puts it, she likes to live in the universe of nutritarian eating.  She looks for all her food and treats and desserts in the nutritarian universe, and doesn't venture into the SAD (Standard American Diet) universe.   I've always liked this concept and would like to adopt it as mine.

6 Week Challenge for a Vita-mix--here's the plan!

Okay, I got feedback from readers here and on the Fuhrman forums and the eat-to-live yahoo group and here's the plan I've come up with:

1) Set a goal or goals for yourself.  You might want to pick something you think you can reasonably accomplish, or maybe you want to take on the world.  I recognize that the same goal can be easy for one person and hard for another.  We're all at different levels with different challenges.

2) Send me your name and a screen name (which could be your real name if you want), and your goal(s).   I will post the screen names of everyone participating, along with your goals.   Send this info to my email address:

3)  For accountability, try to post a comment here on the blog once a week, stating your progress.  I won't be strict about this, it's just a goal.  You can post every day if you like.

4)  At the end of the challenge, if you want to win the vita-mix, send me via email a short essay (200 words max) describing how you did in the challenge (remind us of what your goals were), and why you want the vita-mix.  I will probably have a hard time deciding between lots of entries and will have to do a lottery because I'm sure you will all have compelling stories!

5) I would like to post the winning essay and maybe excerpts of others.   I will ask you for permission before posting.  I will give runner's up the option to not let me post excerpts of your essay but I will require the winner to let me post their essay.  :)

6)  You can start anytime between now and Sept. 1.  I know several people on the Fuhrman forums started today!  I'm starting tomorrow.

7)  I will try to post often during the challenge. You can post your progress as a comment to any of my posts--probably the most recent will be easiest.   I am going on vacation for 2.5 weeks during the challenge so I might miss some days.

8) Please post you progress here rather than or in addition to other forums you are members of (Dr. Fuhrman's member center, or the Eat-2-Live yahoo group).

9)  The winner will have to pay shipping costs for the vita-mix.  I hope that is okay.

Let's have some fun!

McDougall Advanced Study Weekend

I've been intrigued by the McDougall Advanced Study Weekends because he invites many different experts to speak, often the big names in the area of healthy whole plant foods research and eating and psychology and society and science and cooking, and probably more.   I haven't made it to one of these yet because, California is a long ways away and I don't enjoy flying anymore and it makes for a relatively expensive trip.  But the great thing is, he makes an internet broadcast of the entire weekend available.  If you sign up now, you can get it for $125 (for the upcoming Sept. 9-11 weekend).  That seems like a pretty good deal.  You get to watch/listen to it for 6 months and then it disappears.   I decided to try it out.  I'll let you know if I think it's worth it.


Someone I respect told me that they use PeerTrainer to help them with their eating/fitness program, so I got on their email list to find out more.  It is led by Jackie Wicks, who promotes a relatively healthy eating program, similar to Dr. Fuhrman.   Her emails sometimes include some interesting articles, like this one about 7 steps to overcoming emotional eating.  If you want further support, they have a emotional eating mini course.  I have no idea if this is good or not, I'm just pointing it out since it was in the email I received yesterday.  She also linked to another program they do called Point of No Return, for dealing with the psychological barriers of dieting.  If any of you have ever tried these programs, I'd be interested to hear what you thought of them.

Join my 6-week challenge and you are entered to win a vita-mix!!!

I just came up with a crazy spur-of-the-moment idea and then acted on impulse so here we go!   There is a great organization called the Nutritional Research Project.  If you donate $1000 to them by Aug. 27, you get a vitamix blender.  Well, I already have a vitamix, but I feel strongly about this organization, so I thought, I could offer my vitamix to one of you guys!   Let's do a 6-week challenge together starting on Sept. 1.  I'll work out the details in the next few days.  I'm taking the day off work tomorrow to have fun, and I have lots of other stuff to do tonight.  Plus I'd like to hear your ideas for how we should award the blender.  I'm not sure I want to make it a competition but if I make it a lottery, anyone could say they are joining in and then not do anything.  So maybe it should be something in between.  You send me some info before sept. 1 (I'll clarify soon), and then send in your story at the end of 6 weeks and I choose one that is inspiring to others.  I want everyone to have a chance, from beginners to long-timers.  You don't necessarily have to lose weight if you are already healthy, for example.

Okay, I have to go fix tomorrow's meals, so will send more details later!

Oh, and if you have the means and would like to support a worthy organization and guarantee yourself a vitamix, feel free to donate to the NRP!

Federal government releases Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant application

The U.S. Department of Education today released the application for the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant, which 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. DEL Director Bette Hyde said, “I believe Washington is well positioned to be competitive in the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge. We are rolling out our kindergarten entry assessment program, WaKIDS, this school year and we are taking our Quality Rating and Improvement System to 65 child care providers this year as we move toward statewide implementation.”

The grant application is due October 19 and the federal government will announce the awards in December.

DEL has created a webpage to keep the early learning community informed about progress on RTT-ELC.

See our July 18 blog post about entering the RTT-ELC.

Other resources:

U.S. Department of Education press release about the grant application:

Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge webpage:

Pleasurable eating

I had a few dalliances with SAD (Standard American Diet) food this year.  My urge to stray was greater this year than in all the 6 years I've been eating healthy.  Maybe I'm trying too hard to be perfect, or maybe I just got bored with it all, and wondered what I was missing--and forgot how awful I felt all the time before eating this way.   The memory of pain does wear off over time.  So when I went off plan (a total of 4 times for a few days each), I tried to sample everything I've been missing.  I even went non-vegan and non-vegetarian!   I tasted a bratwurst and some fries and fried onions.  I had the local favorite ice cream and custard.  I had dinner at a local favorite vegan restaurant--I was really looking forward to it and was surprised to find that I didn't enjoy anything I ate there (food was too oily and salty, dessert too gooey and yucky).  I had a bagel with butter and cream cheese.  a veggie burger (good) and fries (bla) and a root beer (too sweet!).  and some vegan ice cream sandwich bars.  and a few cookies and a muffin.  I think that pretty much sums it up. oh, and some dark chocolate truffles (extremely yummy).  I observed several useful things.  1) I don't like restaurant food.   No more need to be jealous of other people's restaurant food.  2)  I don't like meat or dairy!   I mean, it's not just that I don't want to eat it, I don't like it.  Even the ice cream.  well, it tasted great at first but it left a yucky animal aftertaste and the 2nd half of my scoop didn't taste as good as the first few bites.  and the butter too, stayed on my hands and mouth and smelled for hours afterwards. 3)   However, I did like the vegan versions.  I totally enjoyed the junky vegan ice cream bars.  and vegan buttery spread and jam.  4)  okay once I established that I like the vegan stuff I did comparisons of that with healthy stuff.  Sad to say, the vegan buttery spread and jam on a delicious whole wheat bread tasted better than the home-made date nut butter on same bread.  That's because salt and sugar is a powerful pleasurable combination, and the texture of the "butter" and jam fit well with the bread (more liquidy than the date nut butter).  On the other hand, after the vegan ice cream bars, I made a mango/blueberry/sunflower seed sorbet to which I added 1-2 tsp of agave nectar.   That tasted as good as the sandwich bars!   That was a surprise.  I mean, if you are going to go offplan, a couple of tsp of agave nectar is way way better than all that artificial chemical goop in vegan ice cream sandwich bars!  5) dark chocolate truffles still taste good.  oh well, I can live with that, and I can even have one on rare occasions.   6) and finally, now getting closer to the point of this post which is nowhere near where I started:  after eating all this crap, I also ate one of my favorite healthy treats for comparison, that is a banana with pecan butter spread.  It was tasteless!   Once your taste buds adapt to SAD food, healthy food tastes bland!   Fortunately, the opposite is also true:  once your taste buds adapt to healthy food, it tastes just as good as SAD food (possibly except for the chocolate truffles but I will accept that).  And that is what makes this all doable and even desirable.

And now this is what I really meant to post about but I got totally off track:  today I had as pleasurable an eating experience as my SAD dalliances.  It was the banana and pecan butter spread.  Here is a picture of  this treat:

Now it doesn't look like much, does it?   But it's not just what you eat, it's when and where.  I had just finished a good workout at the gym, it was 7 pm and I hadn't eaten since lunch, and I love a fruit treat after exercising.  I stopped at the co-op and saw they had perfectly ripe bananas.  yes!  I found the pecan butter spread in the refrigerator.  yes!  I had a little butter knife in my bike bag (I was hoping for this even though I was gambling on the ripe bananas).  The pecan butter spread comes in a 1.5 oz container.  It's a combination of raw pecans and cashews and hemp seed.  I bought the treat and a few other groceries and sat outside in the warm evening air and slowly enjoyed this wonderful treat.

This was more pleasurable than the ice cream a few months ago.  Isn't that cool?!?!??!   okay, I admit a chocolate truffle would will stimulate more pleasure centers but it's not good for me and keeps me awake at night.  so I'm happy with fewer pleasure centers stimulated and a good night's sleep, and good health too.

And, in case you are wondering, I do hope I've satisfied my curiosity about the SAD food (pretty please!).

Another great DVD by Douglas Lisle

I think Douglas Lisle is my new hero.  There are several heroes in the healthy eating community:  Drs. Fuhrman, McDougall, Esselstyn, Campbell, Ornish, and Barnard.  I have to add Dr. Douglas Lisle to this list.  He's a psychotherapist who works at the True North Health Center.   You can read some of his articles here.  He has lectured at a few McDougall conferences and I think the DVDs are taped from these events.  This one I just watched is called "Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind."   He talks about 3 major obstacles to losing weight:  1) the pleasure trap, 2) the ego trap, and 3)  the pull of other's demands.

1)  He's talked about the pleasure trap in a few other lectures, DVDs and a book.  I highly recommend the book or DVD.  Very briefly (and hopefully somewhat correct), the pleasure trap is about how it is perfectly normal to prefer chocolate candy to an apple. We evolved in an environment of scarcity of high-caloric food and we are hard-wired to prefer it.  If you can abstain from the artificial food for a while, for example, with a fast, your taste buds re-adapt and you can enjoy the healthy food just as much.  But it aint always easy to say not to that high calorie-dense food.

2) The ego trap.  I loved this because he described me.  The ego trap is where you or others have high expectations of you, perhaps because of a previous success, and you know deep down you can't live up to those expectations so you quit before you fail.  In your mind, quitting is preferable to failing.   This is what sometimes happens to me with healthy eating.  I achieved success sort of accidentally, just experimenting with this.  Then I joined the Fuhrman forums and started a blog and became something of a role model.   I didn't feel comfortable being a role model and started doubting myself and suddenly eating healthy became harder than it was before, and the temptations, which were almost non-existent before, became greater.  Dr. Lisle says the solution to this is to lower your expectations.  Pick a goal that is better than where you are, and achievable, something you are pretty confident you can do.  You can even pick a goal that is insulting to you so you say, of course I can do that, in fact I can do better than that, I'll show you.  He described working with kids and saying, do you think you can get B/C grades?  and the kid says, yes, I can do even better than that!

3)  other people's demands.  He described how we evolved in an environment of 30 people where everyone knew what everyone else was doing so they couldn't demand too much because they already saw everything you are doing.  Nowadays, our spheres are so separated, your boss doesn't know what you home/community demands are; your spouse and kids don't know your work/community/friend responsibilities, etc.  So everyone wants the most out of you and this situation benefits naturally pushy people and hurts naturally nice people.  You have to learn to say no and you don't have to say why.  You say, "I've got something else I have to do."  "I made a promise and have to take care of something else."  And you don't say what and it becomes clear that it's none of their business and they don't have a right to know.  You have to be able to say no so you can make priorities for yourself.  If you are going to change your diet and develop and exercise program you need time to commit to this.  It IS high priority.

I'd be curious to know what other people think of this lecture.

DEL announces 65 early adopters for QRIS

The Department of Early Learning (DEL) has selected the Quality Rating and Improvement System Early Adopters for 2011-2012. The Washington Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) is our state’s voluntary program for helping licensed child care providers offer high-quality care.

These 65 licensed child care facilities met all eligibility requirements and demonstrated a commitment to providing high-quality care for the children and families they serve. On behalf of our statewide partners and the local implementation agencies, we would like to congratulate Washington’s first QRIS participants!

DEL Director Bette Hyde shared a message about the early adopters.

Having a QRIS in place is one requirement in the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant competition. DEL is leading Washington’s application for the grant, which could bring up to $60 million to our state over four years.

The full list of early adopters, organized by county:

Clark County

  • Cindy Perez

  • Southwest Washington Child Care Consortium– South Ridge

  • Southwest Washington Child Care Consortium – Image Child Care

  • Southwest Washington Child Care Consortium – Fruit Valley

  • Debbie’s 24/7 Day Care

  • Auntie’s House Child Care

  • Caring Corner Preschool and Child Care

  • Debra Simmerson

  • St John Christian Child Care Center

  • P. Nierenberg ELC

  • Becca’s Day Care

  • Daily Discoveries

  • Patience At Hand Child Care

  • Points of Light Christian Child Care

  • Innovative Services NW

  • Country Friends Child Care

  • Tads 2 Tots Daycare

  • Country Campus Learning Center

Kitsap County
  • Wendy Huskey

  • Sunny Patch

  • Mele’s Bize Bees (Mary Parsons)

  • Martha and Mary Early Learning Center -  Silverdale

  • Martha and Mary Early Learning Center -  Poulsbo

  • First Years Children’s Center

  • Chico Christian Child Care

Spokane County
  • St. Anne’s Children and Family Center

  • Spokane Child Development Center

  • Little Precious Ones

  • Jolene Bertsch

  • Ka Diddle Hoppers

  • Little Guys Two

  • Paula’s Play House Child Care

  • Kim’s Child Care and Early Learning

  • Christ Lutheran Child Center

  • Valley Learning Center

  • Lake City Learning Center

  • Green Gable Children’s Center

  • Central YMCA

  • Rainbow Connections Too

White Center
  • Educare

  • Rainbow Family Child Care

  • Maria Nicolas (Pequenos Pasos)

  • Linda’s Wee Ones Day Care

  • Learning Way School and Day Care

  • KinderCare Burien

  • From Roots to Wings Child Care

  • Fauntleroy Children’s Center

  • Curiosity Corner School

  • Community Schools West

  • Community Day School Highland Park

  • Carita de Angel

  • Bringing Up Baby

  • Ages in Stages Child Care

  • KinderCare 892

East Yakima
  • YMCA Jewett Child Development Center

  • Rosalinda’s Day Care

  • Rainbow Kids

  • La Petite Early Learning Center

  • Kids Inc.

  • Enriqueta Arreguin

  • Easter Seals – Jane’s House

  • Country Kids Child Development Center on 21st

  • Country Kids Child Development Center – Terrace Heights

  • Bertha’s Day Care

  • Balbina Gomez

fruity oatmeal

I had this today and tomorrow.  Then I'll run out of oatmeal and will do some experimentation with kamut berries and oat groats.

1/4 cup long-cooking oats
2 small figs or 1 medium fig, chopped (optional)
3-5 fresh sweet cherries, chopped
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 banana, sliced
note:  substitute any fruit available:  strawberries, blueberries (can be frozen), dates, raisins, mango, etc.
1/2 cup water
1/2-1 Tbsp seed mixture (optional)

Combine and soak overnight in fridge (except for the blueberries).  Heat in the microwave for a minute or 2 (until hot).  Let sit for a few minutes.  Add the blueberries and heat up until they are warm.  enjoy!

If you didn't think of this idea until breakfast time (like me this morning), heat everything except the blueberries and bananas in the microwave for a minute or 2; let sit while you do some other things; heat again; let sit.   do this until it's the consistency you like.

Here's tomorrow's breakfast, soaking in the fridge:

Here was today's breakfast:

food lately

I've had lots of visitors lately and was busy at work so didn't have much time to post about food.  One of my visitors liked my food and asked me to post the recipes.  I didn't use any recipes,  or write down what I did, but I did snap a few photos.  So hopefully I can re-create them from the photos.  It was more of a method than a recipe which I can describe here.

The meals lately usually consist of beans, greens, salads, and corn on the cob, pretty much all locally grown.  and fruit for dessert (not so much local).    The beans are prepared on the weekend and frozen into daily containers.  Right now I have two batches in the freezer.  One is made with "runner cannellini" beans from rancho gordo.  This is what they looked like after soaking--gigantic!

 I cooked them up with mushrooms and onions.  They are creamy and yummy.   The other batch of beans I made with yellow-eyed beans (I don't see them listed right now on the rancho gordo site), and carrot juice, onions, mushrooms, and a little unhulled barley and black rice--really good!  I describe how to cook this up here.

That's the beans.  Then for the most of the veggies, I've been using kale, collards and herbs from the garden (basil, rosemary, chives, dill, cilantro--no rhyme or reason to this besides it grows well), and local produce from the co-op or garden which lately has been summer squash and zucchini and eggplant.  If I use the white beans, I add tomatoes from the garden.  I cook up the veggies in the pressure cooker while the corn on the cob is prepped and boiled.    After the veggies are done, add the beans and 1-2 Tbsp of seed mixture.

Here are some beans & greens:

Here's another batch served up with our usual corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes:

Salads consist of lettuce, maybe some cabbage because the local cabbage is real sweet right now, fresh garden tomatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash, bell pepper, occasionally broccoli from the garden, maybe peas or edamame, and dressing made from a little fresh squeezed orange juice (optional), vinegar (d'angou pear, riesling raisin or a good balsamic) and seed mixture.  Here's today's salad (with cabbage and spinach, forgot to buy lettuce):

We often add some Penzey's no-salt seasonings to the veggies, salads, corn and tomatoes.   Our favorite is mural of flavors, but we also have been trying out sunny paris.

Sometimes instead of greens and beans, we'll have fresh green beans from the garden and salad and corn.  I'll combine the green beans with potatoes and herbs for housemate and guests.

Here's something I made up one night when I was concerned that my guest might be tired of greens and beans.  This was a vegetable curry:

I didn't have much in the fridge so the vegetables were summer squash and cabbage, onion, mushroom and frozen peas.  It looks like there's a potato in there too.  I don't usually make potatoes for myself but I probably thought the guest would like it.   Eggplant would have been good too.  Now I know from experience that curry without salt and sugar tastes bitter and bland.  Since I don't use salt, I needed a sweetener.  I had banana and frozen mangos which I thawed.  I cooked up the squash, cabbage, onion, mushroom, and potato in the pressure cooker with about, 1 tsp of curry powder and 1/2 tsp of garam masala.   Then added the peas to cook in the hot veggies as they cooled.  I blended up the water that the veggies cooked in with 1/2 banana and some seed mixture (1-2 Tbsp).   Then pulsed it with about 1/2 cup mango.  Added that back to the veggies.   As usual, we had this with corn on the cob.  This recipe was a big hit, which is funny because I just made it up spur of the moment.

I think that describes everything except my latest yummy breakfast which I'll describe in my next post.  I also like to eat raw veggies:  carrots, kohlrabi, and sugar snap peas.  Today I added some lime and cilantro but I don't think it's worth the bother. They are great all by themselves.

For fruit, I usually buy what's in season and on special (discounted that is).  Lately it's been delicious organic cherries, both from Washington state and our own Door County.  Blueberries have been on special too.  And grapes occasionally.  Earlier we had a fabulous strawberry and raspberry season.  They are both still good, just no longer on special.    Local watermelons and muskmelons are in season now.  Fresh figs are available (from California).    We are getting peaches from Door County which are wonderful.  I'm sure I'm missing something. There's so much to choose from right now.  It's a great time of year.  I think the cherries are my favorite though---they are really good right now.

Dr. Fuhrman's 3 Steps to Incredible Health!

Wow!  Dr. Furhman did this PBS pledge program called 3 Steps to Incredible Health.  To support Dr. Fuhrman, I pledged to one of the stations that gives a bonus gift.  Well, I guess I didn't read the fine print, but the bonus gift consists of 2 books, a workbook, 6 DVDs, a 3-month membership to the Fuhrman website, oh, and a refrigerator magnet.

The books look outstanding.  They look like a rewrite of the Eat for Health 2-set series.  One book describes the science of eating healthy, why to eat this way and what to eat.  The second book describes more how to do it in 3 phases, and gives lots of recipes.  The workbook gives an overview and exercises to work through.  The DVDs are  "3 Steps to Incredible Health," which is the show that airs on PBS, then "Eating for Incredible Health," "The Skinny on Fats," "Say No to Heart Disease and Diabetes," "Winning the War Against Cancer," and "Success Stories Before and After" (I'm the last one featured, hee hee).   I'm really impressed with the quality of this material.  This seems to be the perfect toolset for someone just starting out.  I guess $150 is a lot of money but I think it's worth it for this package of materials.  I highly recommend it to anyone starting out on this program, or anyone wanting to recharge their nutritarian batteries.

Another dietician's advice

I’ve recently been reading and watching material from Jeff Novick, a dietician who used to work with Dr. Fuhrman and now works with Dr. McDougall.  It’s been interesting to compare advice from all three of these guys.  I think they all offer very healthy eating plans.  The average advice is pretty similar but the ranges are different.   Here is a description of Dr. McDougall’s Maximum weight loss program.  Here is a description of Dr. Fuhrman’s 6 week plan.

From what I’ve read, I think all three would agree that 1-1.5 oz of nuts and seeds per day is an okay amount to eat.  All of their food plans include some nuts and seeds in some of their recipes, and none in others.  They differ in their minimum recommended amounts.  Mr. Novick says you shouldn’t go above 1-2 oz for normal activity, or 2-4 oz for very active folks per day.  Dr. Fuhrman says active people and athletes can go up to 4 oz or more.  Both Novick and McDougall say your minimum can be 0 and I think they recommend that when trying to lose weight.  In Novick’s video on fats, he says you can get all you need from vegetables:  “Where do you think corn oil comes from?”   I’ve asked Dr. Fuhrman explicitly even for small people or overweight people with low metabolism, and he says everyone should eat a minimum of 1 oz of nuts or seeds per day and more active people should consume more.  I find nuts hard to digest and feel better when I stick to under 2 oz per day.   I have tried going super low-fat in the past with no nuts and seeds, and my irregular heartbeats returned (I used to get them all the time before adopting a healthy diet).  Dr. Fuhrman has discussed this, and this is one reason he recommends nuts and seeds.  Dr. Fuhrman says you need to eat fat to burn fat.  Dr. Mullin, who is on Dr. Fuhrman's staff, explains why:

Healthy fats communicate with your genes in a different way compared to unhealthy fats. Healthy fats bind to receptors called PPAR receptors which improve insulin sensitivity and enhance fat burning. Trans fats do the opposite. 

Since eating 1 oz of nuts and seeds fits in with the guidelines of all of these guys, I will stick with that recommendation.

Regarding sweets, I like the advice of Novick.  He says all sweeteners are the same as far as health goes.  Pick whichever one you want and keep it to less than 5% of your calories—and he includes that with all unhealthy calories including oils, etc.  So he’s saying your total unhealthy calories should comprise 5% of the total, not just your sweets.  This is consistent with Dr. Fuhrman’s “Life Plan”, where he says no more than 10% of your calories should come from less healthy sources.  Dr. Fuhrman distinguishes refined sweeteners (sugar, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup)from dried fruits such as dates and raisins, which are whole foods.  Almost all of his dessert recipes use dried fruits as sweeteners.   I think many Fuhrman followers go overboard with their use of dates and other dried fruits.  I know I did for a while.  I thought it was okay because it was a whole food.  But after a while I realized it’s having the same effect on my body, a sugar surge (probably an insulin surge too), and cravings for more.  Combine this with nuts and you have very high-calorie, hard to digest food.  I once got sick on “healthy” brownies made from dates and walnuts and cocoa powder.  I learned the hard way that I can eat too many dried fruits or nuts.  I tend to agree with Novick and prefer to think of all sweeteners, including dried fruit, as in the 5% category.

With salt, Fuhrman wants you to include no added salt in your diet.  McDougall is more relaxed about it.  He allows people to add salt at the table in small amounts and most of his recipes include some sodium in the form of salt or soy sauce, though it is much less than processed foods have.  McDougall’s advice might be easier to follow and it still cuts way back on salt.  I started out following McDougall’s advice and then eventually decided to go cold turkey, following Fuhrman’s advice.   There is an advantage to this, which is that you taste all the subtle flavors in produce.  I can taste the difference in sweetness from one carrot to the next, and one pea pod to the next.  Even kohlrabi and broccoli taste sweet when your taste buds are sensitized again.  My sweat still tastes salty, so clearly my body has learned to extract what it needs from whole foods. Dr. Fuhrman talks about the many harmful effects of salt in his teleconferences, mainly related to heart disease and stomach cancer and the increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke for people with lower cholesterol.  There are two disadvantages to going without salt completely:  1) Some recipes and especially grains can taste bland.  However, this is often solved with a little sweet flavor which you can get from any number of sources:  fruit, carrot juice, fruit juice, dried fruit.  You don’t need much and these can add a nice creative dimension to a recipe.  2) It makes it harder to find acceptable food to eat in restaurants.  Soups are especially bad.  Your best best is salads without dressing or fruit plate.  Unfortunately, these can be pretty lame at a lot of restaurants.

Another way I agree with Novick is that he seems to like simple recipes, and he isn’t a big fan of smoothies and juices and other ways of processing your food.  I think of smoothies, “ice creams”, and sorbets as treats, a once a week type thing rather than daily.  Even carrot-juice sweetened beans and soups I save for special occasions, partly because it’s more work, ha. 

Regarding supplements, I think McDougall and Novick say that you only need to supplement B12.  I’m not sure where Novick stands on vitamin D, but I know McDougall thinks you can get enough D from exposure to sunlight.  Dr. Fuhrman says that vitamin D is so important to your health (in fighting cancer for one thing) that if you don’t want to take the supplements, get your blood levels checked to verify that you are not deficient.  He says the same thing about DHA.  That makes sense to me. 

Regarding animal products, I think McDougall would recommend an all-vegan diet, Novick probably too, though I’m not sure, and Fuhrman says animal products could be included in your 10% of unhealthy calories, unless you have certain conditions such as heart disease and some autoimmune illnesses where an optimal diet is required to reverse your condition.

Then there is the grain/starchy vegetable debate.  Again I think all their recommendations intersect and you can design a diet that agrees with all of them.  Dr. Fuhrman emphasizes eating more leafy green vegetables.  He also emphasizes cruciferous vegetables, onions and mushrooms to fight cancer.  I can get on board with that.  Then how should you fill out the rest of your calories?  I think many Fuhrman followers eat too much fruit and nuts and therefore too many calories (I speak from experience)—and for me, that also leads to a stomach ache which I have no interest in getting.  Novick says it’s better to fill out your calories with starchy vegetables and grains.  Dr. Fuhrman would say the best starchy vegetable to eat is beans.   Novick and McDougall don’t put particular emphasis on beans and include it as one of many healthy options, including white potatoes.  Fuhrman thinks white potatoes are one of the least healthy vegetables and would recommend other vegetables above them.  Fuhrman recommends a minimum amount of beans per day (1 cup).  Novick and McDougall have no such minimum.  Once you get your GOMBS in, (Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Beans/Berries, and Seeds/nuts), Dr. Fuhrman is fine with filling out your calories with starchy vegetables and grains, though he would prefer you eat sweet potatoes instead of white.

What do I do?   I’ve chosen to follow Dr. Fuhrman’s approach.  I think McDougall’s plan might be easier to adopt for a person starting out (though I found their recipes more bland than Fuhrman’s so maybe it’s a tossup, or depends on your taste preferences).  I really like Novick’s advice, which is practical and makes a lot of sense to me.  I follow the daily guidelines that Fuhrman recommends:  lots of vegetables, especially leafy greens and cruciferous, and onions and mushrooms, 1 cup of beans, 1 oz nuts/seeds, 1-1 ½ lbs of fruit.  Then to fill out the rest of my calories, I prefer starchy vegetables and beans over nuts and fruit, in agreement with Novick.  I love baked sweet potatoes.  In the summer it’s sweet corn.  In my beans, I can add some unhulled barley (yum), or wild rice or wheat berries or oat groats (these look a lot like brown rice).  In the winter I might have oatmeal at breakfast.  I don’t like to eat many dried fruits or smoothies or juices, in agreement with Novick.  I like some, but not on a daily basis, more like weekly.  I like the idea of 5% play calories, in agreement with both.  That means that no food is forbidden which is useful psychologically, given the culture we live in. 

WAEYC launches "virtual book club"

Always wanted to be in a book club but haven't found the time? Our partners at the Washington Association for the Education of Young Children (WAEYC) have just launched an online book club. It's a great opportunity for parents and early learning professionals to learn some simple ways to build lifelong skills in young children.

Mind in the MakingEach month for seven months, participants will explore how to guide children to reach their fullest potential through one of seven life skills: Focus and Self Control; Perspective Taking; Communicating; Making Connections; Critical Thinking; Taking on Challenges; and Self-Directed, Engaged Learning. The book club is based on the book "Mind in the Making" by Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Families and Work Institute.

Washington STARS Credit and OSPI Clock Hours available for participating in the webinars.

Visit to learn more and sign up!