Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Green Smoothies

I'm taking a break from ranting about social faux pas to announce that as of this week, I have officially lost my nursing spread! After two years, I am rid of the eight pounds I gained in my first year as a nurse.

How did I do it? Another post is forthcoming, but the secret for me was: more exercise, less alcohol, more fruits and vegetables, less junk. Sorry if you were hoping for something groundbreaking.

One of my recent diet discoveries is green smoothies- blended drinks with fruit AND vegetables.  Now I have one of those bad boys for breakfast 2-3 times per week. I can't think of a better way to get some green stuff in the morning.

It started when a friend pinned this recipe from Iowa Girl Eats on Pinterest. I tried it out and couldn't believe the delicious results. It really tastes like a dessert instead of a healthy breakfast- even without the flavored yogurt (I use silken tofu).

I became obsessed: I started looking all over the internet for more recipes. I told my co-workers about it and got three other people drinking their spinach. I even found out from my Facebook friends that you can blend kale in there as well as spinach.

So here's my formula for an awesome green smoothie:
1 frozen banana cut into chunks (cut before freezing)
1-2 cups any other fruit: strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, mango, pineapple, kiwi, watermelon
1/4 cup silken tofu or yogurt
1/2 cup milk or soy or nut milk
1 Tbsp peanut butter or other nut butter or raw sliced almonds
1-2 cups spinach or kale
(optional) a few sprigs of parsley or mint (doesn't mix well with peanut butter)

Put everything but the spinach or kale in the blender and give it a whirl. Add the greens and mix for several minutes until there are no big leafy bits left. Add a little more milk if the consistency is too thick. Pour into a glass and enjoy. Feel a sense of smug superiority at getting such a healthy start to the day.

I'm still making fresh juice almost every day, but this is a great way to get the fiber as well as nutrients from the greens.  I make the prep a little easier by rinsing the spinach or kale the night before and leaving it in the salad spinner in the fridge overnight (a trick I learned from Mark Bittman). I really love having a use for bananas that are getting a little brown- just cut them up and freeze them. 

A note on blenders: the Vitamix is supposed to be the ultimate smoothie machine, but it's pretty pricey. I have a Ninja that I bought at Target for $39.99, which also came with a small food processor. The blades are knife-sharp, so it does a great job slicing up all of the produce. The food processor is good for grinding up nuts and flax seeds. I might invest in a Vitamix one day (I doubt those Ninja blades will hold an edge forever), but the Ninja was a great starter and a very small investment.

So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid), and drink your veggies!

Monday, May 28, 2012

I Will Never Say Yes if You Ask Me Out by Text Message

Image credit: Samantha Decker- Flickr
Last week someone asked me out via text message at 2:45 in the morning. Actually I have been asked out by text message several times in the past year. I posted a rant (or three) about it on Facebook. Lots of girls agreed with me, but some of my guy friends seemed to be confused as to what the problem is. So Imma let you in on the secret. Consider it a PSA about why I WILL NEVER SAY YES IF YOU ASK ME OUT BY TEXT MESSAGE.

I don't want you to show up in a limo. You don't have to put on a tux or bring roses. Please don't stand under my window with a boom box, that's totally been done. But DO  act like you care enough about going out with me to put some sort of thought into it.

We are independent women of the 21st century. We have careers. We save for retirement. We fix the toilet if need be and kill the spiders ourselves. But we still have a soft spot for romance. We grew up with Disney Princesses and The Princess Bride and maybe a princess playhouse. When our parents made us do chores we pretended to be Cinderella waiting for her prince charming to come. And you can bet he didn't send a text asking if Cinderella wanted to do something sometime.

Guys, I know this seems complicated. So here's what you need to know: If she gave you her number, that means she's interested*. Man up and call her. When you do ask her out, have a plan- know what you want to do and when. This makes it seem like you put some thought into the whole thing. (If you want some extra points, think of two possible activities and let her pick.) Show up on time.  Send a text message only to confirm plans or let her know if you're running more than 5 minutes late.

That's it. It's that easy. We just want you to act like going out with us is somewhat important to you. No pumpkin coach required.

So long for now, keep it simple stupid, and for Pete's sake, pick up the stupid phone.

*If she didn't give you her number, don't try to obtain it from someone else. This is only acceptable if you're under the age of 15. Maybe not even then.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Maybe Reply

Remember when George H Bush decided that since he was the most powerful dude in the free world and he hated broccoli, he was going to ban it from being served in the White House*? Well when I get elected Queen of the World, I am going to take a similarly motivated but much less frivolous action: I'm removing the "maybe" reply from all online invitations.

Let me back up for a second...Occasionally the "maybe" reply is legitimate. You might have another engagement and aren't sure when you'll be done.  You could be trying to find a babysitter/dogsitter/boyfriend-or-husbandsitter and don't know if it will work out. Perhaps you're having dental work done that day and don't know if you'll still be drooling by party time.  In circumstances like these, a "maybe" reply is acceptable if you 1.) explain the reason for the maybe and 2.) update the reply as soon as your plans are firm.

Thanks to Meetup, I've been getting Facebook invitations to lots of events. The usual mix of replies are something like, 10 attending, 6 not attending, 23 maybe attending. Now I'm sure a few of those 23 people meet the criteria above. But I get the feeling that most of those "maybe" replies are really saying "I might show if nothing better comes up between now and then."

Dick move guys.

Some person that you know and like enough to be Facebook friends with has chosen to include you in an event. He or she has made arrangements, called the restaurant to give a headcount/ cleaned the house, and probably purchased a new article of clothing. The least you can do is let that person know for sure if you're going to be there.

Just ask yourself, "How would the Dalai Lama reply?"**

I think that this is an issue of the internet making things more impersonal. Remember in elementary school when your classmate would give you a hand-written invitation* to a birthday party? A few days later he or she would ask you, face to face, if you were coming. You didn't say, "I don't know, I might come if I don't get invited to something else."  You stuck the invitation on the fridge and reminded your mom that you needed to get a present. But now online invitations allow us to click the "maybe" button and never say a word to the host face to face.

Anyway, I'm not trying to make you feel guilty or anything (maybe a little). I'm just saying that the considerate thing to do is make a decision about whether or not you want to attend the event, and commit to it for goodness sake.

Also if you RSVP'd maybe to Richard's and my birthday party and didn't show, you missed this amazing scuba cake that Richard's mom made. With mermaids. So your loss on that.

So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid), and send a real RSVP. His Holiness would approve**.

*If you are too young to remember the first George Bush banning broccoli or hand-written invitations, do me a favor and keep quiet about it. Seriously, I had a tough time with this birthday.

**This blog is in no way endorsed by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. But I still think he would agree with me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

An Ounce of Prevention

A heart attack doesn't look like this:
Image courtesy Heart Attack Grill

Image courtesy Heart Attack Grill

A heart attack looks more like this:

Image courtesy laika-one, from Flickr

And later you might look like this:

Image courtesy drburtoni, from Flickr

I saw a lot of people having heart problems at work last week, and it really got to me. One was a co-worker that I'm very fond of. Another was a 60 year old man who has been working hard to improve his diet and exercise regularly, but who continues to develop new coronary vessel abnormalities. And another was a very sweet man with a very sweet wife, who we stabilized for now but who probably won't be around for another year.

In the hospital we can fix the problem once it arises: there is medication for mild disease, stents for occluded vessels, and bypass surgery for extensive problems. Unfortunately, these interventions treat the existing problems but do little to prevent heart disease from advancing.

I have been watching some documentaries in the past few weeks about the connection between diet and health: "Food Matters," "The Last Heart Attack," and "Forks Over Knives." As Yoni Freedhoff, a Canadian physician and weight loss specialist, points out, The Heart Attack Grill is Not the Problem. The problem is the demand for cheap, easy, calorie dense, nutrient poor meals. It comes from the idea that a token amount of physical activity entitles us to a "treat," as David Staples discusses in his article Why I Hate the Snack Ritual in Youth Soccer Leagues. It gets perpetuated when government subsidies make fatty animal products and corn and soy based snack foods cheaper than fresh produce.

Watching those documentaries and seeing the devastating effects of heart disease in person have really reaffirmed my desire to get involved in primary prevention. I don't exactly know what that looks like, but it's forcing me to reconsider the type of nurse I want to be. It's also making me examine my diet and think about the changes I can make to live a longer, stronger, healthier life.

But for now, I hope everyone who reads this will consider making one or two small changes to improve heart health: get some exercise, add an extra vegetable or two to your plate, trade some of your refined grains for whole, and for Pete's sake don't smoke. If you need some convincing I would be happy to come by and start a large bore IV or two in your arm.

So long for now, KISS (keep it simple stupid), and be sweet to your arteries. It's worth it now and in the long run.

Image courtesy B G from Flickr
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