Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Westville Restaurant Review: Where veggies are delicious

Photo from http://www.thechicityvegan.com/

I traveling am in New York city at the moment and enjoyed a lovely dinner with my friend James. We checked out one of his regular spots in the neighborhood and I was thrilled with the menu. This was not a vegetarian restaurant, but the care and attention the paid to the vegetable sides was remarkable.

For most home cooks and restaurant chefs alike, the focus tends to be on the protein of the meal with the sides being an afterthought. Grilled chicken, baked fish, refried beans, you name it.What to have with it? Who knows.

Westville restaurant is a horse of a different color. Their splendid menu of market sides changes daily and includes a host of vegetables prepared simply, deliciously and beautifully. It wasn't just the resident dietitian who was excited by them; the restaurant was swamped with vegetable eaters. Choices abound. You can have sauteed broccoli with garlic with your whole grilled trout or lemon herb chicken or assemble four market sides for $15.

I had pesto mashed potatoes, beets with goat cheese, soy glazed tofu w/ broccoli & toasted sesame seeds and brussels sprouts w/ honey dijon. It was awesome.

If you're in the NYC area, check out one of the restaurant's three locations.

Cheers! Eat your veggies!

What's your favorite way to cook delicious veggies? I love grilled asparagus and roasted beets!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A week of groceries from around the world

Thank you to Roger for sending this great photo essay that shows a week's worth of groceries from around the world. Photographs by Peter Menzel from the book "Hungry Planet"

I love to travel, and I think that they best way to get to know a new place is by a trip on a bicycle (or a long walk) and through by tasting the local fare! I make it a point to get off the beaten track and to ask taxi drivers for recommendations of where the locals eat.

This photo album shows interesting details about their countries - from the scarcity of food in Chad, to the priority of the doggie treats in Britian to the inclusion of beer in Germany. Australia focused on meat while India focused on veggies. Some countries had minimal variety while others showed a rainbow bounty.

Reader poll: What surprised you about this slide show?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why I Bike: Kiersten

When did you learn to ride your bike? Who taught you?
I reflect on this a lot.  I grew up in a time (and place) where kids went out to play in the morning and only came home for food, if they were bleeding or because they were called. Modes of transportation were essential to that freedom.  The big wheel came first, but around five years old I got a bike. My grandfather (a child of the Great Depression) found the bike at the town dump one weekend.  He hauled it home and fixed it up and taught me how to ride.  Soon thereafter I lost the training wheels. 

I remember the stream of bikes over the years.  Banana seats and streamers to the first 10 spd.  Other people’s bikes that didn’t fit right but who cared.  My bike carried me to high school (because I didn’t live far enough away to qualify for a bus.)  My bike brought me “downtown” and to the beach.  I explored every inch of my community on my bike.

In what city and state do you live? (country?)
Now I live in Medford, MA which is 4 miles north of the financial district in Boston and under a mile to Tufts University.

What is the biking culture like there?
Boston’s Mayor Menino declared, “The car is no longer King.”  Every town has a coalition or union or some entity to support cyclists.  In the last five years we’ve seen the introduction of a share bike service, Hubway, and bike lanes virtually everywhere.  More real infrastructure is being designed and built these days.  But, like anything else we have very real growing pains which mostly revolve around attitudes and education.

What kind of bike (or bikes) do you have?
I had an old hybrid that got left behind by a shiny, new road bike.  I love my road bike, Isabelle.  I named her after my grandmother.  I won’t say I believe in guardian angels, but if anyone is looking down upon me and offering protection I’d expect it to be my grandma.  I have two sets of wheels, thanks to my awesome boyfriend, for Isabelle.  One set is for road rides and the other commuting.  It’s a great set-up!  I also used to have a mountain bike, but it got stolen.  I had one season of cross-country riding which sure improved my bike skills.

How often do you ride your bike?
I’m very seasonal, or a fair-weather rider.  Right now in the greater Boston area the ability to bike commute is based on some factors like routes and your personal fearlessness.  Plus, because of the work I do, I need to change clothes and get myself presentable on the other end which is not always an option.  So, April through October I try to bike to work at least a few days a week and I get out and ride with my bike club, Northeast Bicycle Club, the Luna Chix (Luna bars sponsored riders) and friends.

I wish drivers...
Oh boy.  Now this is a very loaded question!  =D

I wish drivers didn’t drive distracted (texting, talking on the phone, etc.)
I wish drivers would SEE the bike lanes and realize that they should check their side mirrors to see a cyclist approaching before making turns, changing lanes and pulling into parking spaces.

I wish drivers would be patient and remember that a cyclist is moving under their own power and that momentum means a lot.  Slowing or stopping a car to allow a cyclist to pass takes 1 or 2 seconds.  Slowing or stopping a bike to allow a car to pass can result in a minute or more of working to get back up to speed (for some folks).

I wish driver’s education included bike safety (as in does in foreign countries.)

I wish drivers were required to spend a day on a bike in the city.  I wish cyclists were required to spend a day in a car in the city.  We both have so much to improve.

I would ride my bike even more if...
There was better infrastructure and weather.  And, I didn’t sweat so much.  ;)

My favorite bike snack___________
The only time I need to eat on my bike is on longer rides.  In those cases I can say that caffeine helps me A LOT.  I get a latte before the ride and will sometimes refuel with a Clif gel with caffeine in it.  I think because I do not use a lot of caffeine in my daily life I really get the physiological and psychological benefits.  I have done a bunch of really long-distance rides and I discovered a treat:  I mix pretzels and mini-marshmallows together in snack-sized ziplock bags.

My favorite piece of bike gear is
I’m a woman.  The two most vital pieces are a great saddle and bottoms with really good chamois.  Add a chamois cream with tea tree oil and you’re going to be able to ride a lot longer in comfort.

Do you ride your bike in all weather?
Only when I get caught in something unexpected!

Do you own a car?
Yes.  With bike racks on top.  We often take our bikes to NH and ME for long coastal rides.

I mostly ride my bike ___
For exercise and fun.  Because we have road bikes we tend to maintain a healthy pace and go for 30-50 miles.

My favorite thing about riding my bike....
It feels good.  Being outside and exercising just feels good.  And, I love the fact that it’s both solitary and social at the same time.  I can be in my head for a few miles just feeling the sun and breeze, looking at everything I pass and smelling all the smells.  Or, I can sit up and chat some.

The coolest trip I’ve done on my bike….
I have two major accomplishments with Isabelle.  My friend’s mom was dying of Leukemia so I joined Team in Training and trained for the el Tour de Tucson (109 mile ride).  Last year I did The Climate Ride (5 days from NYC to DC, 325 miles).  They were very different kinds of rides but both testing me in terms of physical ability and mental tenacity.  They didn’t kill me, so I guess I am stronger.

The bike trip I’m dying to do…
I want to go touring in Europe.

Craziest thing I did (or craziest thing I carried) on my bike:
I have done some crazy things on my bike and they all involve speed.  I took a skills course and learned how to ride in groups (and bump into people), how to turn on slippery surfaces and how to do high-speed, downhill cornering.  I love technical challenges on my bike.  I love the confidence I have in handling skidding over a manhole cover in the rain or bunny-hopping over an obstacle.

Does your house/apt/work have special accommodations that make biking more feasible?
My bike is light, I can easily carry it.  There’s a full locked facility at work for bikes.  Public transit is well equipped for bikes.

Holly, you asked me when I learned to ride and all about my biking habits.  But what made me get back on a bike as an adult?
I was overweight and I have some arthritis in my knees.  I lost a bunch of weight and was looking for some ways to be more physically fit.  Unlike all of my “athlete” friends, exercise was not a part of my daily routine.  It was something I had to make myself do.  So, I tried to find ways to adjust my life to make exercise a non-option.  I got certified as a Spinning instructor and took a job at my gym.  I always liked bikes and the natural progression was to get back on one.  I rode recreationally.  Then I rode as a means of real exercise.  I trained for events.  I honed my skills as a cyclist and lead rides with my bike club.  This past year I started riding to transport myself.  The bike has changed my outlook on my health and the world around me.  The bike has brought out the humanitarian in me.  It’s literally a vehicle to so many things.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! How are you celebrating? I just got back from my 4th weekend training at Growing Power and had to pleasure of playing with 20 baby goats. There really isn't anything cuter than baby goats!

Growing power is working to help create a sustainable food system in Milwaukee and training farmers to continue that work in their own community.
"The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world."

What are you up to today, and everyday, to protect our earth?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why I Bike: Jesse

When did you learn to ride your bike? Who taught you?

I learned to ride my bike back in elementary school. I was taught by my parents and can remember starting out with training wheels.

In what city and state do you live?
I live in Portland, Oregon.

What is the biking culture like there?
Bike is King in Portland. Bike commuters are as common as any other type of commuter, bike specific roads and lanes are abundant and one could actually bike to most locations in the state on bike lanes. There are even bars/breweries here that cater specifically to cyclists.

What kind of bike do you have?
I recently bought a 2012 model Jamis  Satellite Sport Road Bike.

How often do you ride your bike?
I ride my bike several times per week.

I wish drivers... 
drivers in Portland are pretty respectful of cyclists.

I would ride my bike even more if... 
it did not rain so much.

My favorite piece of bike gear is my padded bike shorts!

Do you ride your bike in all weather? 
I don't have rain gear yet, but living in Oregon this will be inevitable.

Do you own a car?
I do own a car.

I mostly ride my bike for: 
exercise/cross training for running (my first hobby).

Do you think of biking as legitimate transportation?

My favorite thing about riding my bike.... 
the efficiency of getting around town combined with exercise combined with environmentally friendly means of transport!

The coolest trip I’ve done on my bike….
On travels to Kenya, a friend and I rented bikes and rode to a game park (there were no predators in the park). It was amazing to ride up close to animals and they were not threatened by us on our bikes. We soon became exhausted and after converting the elevation from meters to feet, realized we were over 8,000 feet above sea level!

The bike trip I’m dying to do… 
to cycle the Oregon coast with my boyfriend and any friends who want to join.

Craziest thing I did on my bike: 
I once went on a bike tour of five vineyards near Vienna, Austria. It was beautiful, maybe not so crazy, but good fun.

Reader Poll: Why do you bike?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Nutrition is a bratty teenager

The study of nutrition is laden with complicated science. When I was in undergrad, and had almost the same amount of science classes as the pre-med majors, I used to get offended when people thought studying nutrition just meant cooking. Out loud I am sure I said something polite most of the time, but in my head I was ranting along the lines of "well, I take chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, microbiology, statistics, accounting....and yeah, cooking and food science too". Nutrition is a science, a fascinating science, that unfortunately is still quite young. It can come with an attitude.

Many of the science disciplines have been figuring things out for hundreds if not thousands of years. The study of nutrition is still kicking off the starter blocks; vitamin A wasn't discovered until 1913 - exactly 100 years ago. It can be frustrating for consumers and nutrition professionals alike that we haven't figured everything out yet. We are learning more about our health and wellness every day and too often, it seems that the new information contradicts what we thought we knew (the world is round??). I liken this to nutrition being in the "bratty teenager" part of development.There are a lot of strong opinions and crazies, but sometime solid conclusions aren't quite developed.

Why is that?

Let's take a trip back to science class way-back-when. Remember learning about the scientific method? Having a hypothesis and setting up an experiment to test it out? A good experiment has one variable - the thing you manipulate - and one outcome - the thing you measure. Easier done in a test tube than in real life. Can you name a person who has eaten the exact same thing, every day, for their entire life? Me neither. 

Our dietary habits change due to personal preferences, changes in lifestyle and economic status, developments in science (eggs are good! eggs are bad!), the popular media (fats make you fat! No, carbs make you fat!) and more. To add to the complexity, our food choices are not the only thing changing. We are decreasing our physical activity, sourcing our food from farther and farther away, adding lots of new stuff to our food (red #40, anyone?) and packaging our food in materials that may not be a good idea - who put the PBA in our can liners, anyway?

And: our food is changing! An apple is not an apple. One factor is the quality of our soil; good food comes from good quality top soil. If the farmers aren't being stewards to the land, the nutritional quality of the food grown on that soil is diminished. An apple today has less nutrition than an apple grown 50 years ago.

Consider further the microbes that live in our foods and our bodies - some scientists believe that we are seeing an increase in Type 1 diabetes because we're too clean! What little critters we have in our gut changes how we digest and absorb nutrients. Toss in a myriad of pesticides and genetically modified foods, your family history and what your mom ate while she was pregnant with you and it is a wonder that we know anything at all!

It is tempting to get frustrated with the state of things. It would be nice to know more things with certainty, but we're not there yet. What is the best diet? I don't think that there is one best diet. Just like there are many ways to be a good parent, there are lots of options for eating well.

Guidelines for healthy living:
  • Variety: a stockbroker would never recommend investing all of your resources in a single stock and you should never count on a single food to meet your nutritional requirements. The more diversity in your diet, the better.
  • Eat your vegetables: whether you're a carnivore or vegetarian, the majority of our plates should be vegetables and then fruits. Even better if they're grown locally and organically.
  • Water is best: dehydration makes you sluggish, increases your risk of constipation and other fun ailments. Sip on water throughout the day and kick soda to the curb.
  • Move it: can you walk or bike to work instead of using the car? How about gardening instead of going to the store? Playing tag instead of watching TV?
  • Use common sense: be wary of folks preaching wild nutrition gospel or peddling a nutrition miracle. There is no single right way to eat, and there is no miracle food. Besides, the science is still young; we're still learning.
  • Patron the Farmacy: it is better to spend money on wholesome, quality foods now than to require a myriad of drugs later. Good food is a good investment know your farmer, know your food.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates

It is an exciting time to be in the field of nutrition; research is cranking and the general public's interest is booming. There is a lot to be done - I'm looking at you, obesity epidemic - but we can do it, one step at a time. Just like a bratty teenager, there may be some things said that we regret, and some experiments gone awry. However, we're learning from our triumphs and mistakes and moving forward.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Dinner in a flash: Eggplant mini pizzas

Carbohydrates are not the enemy - indeed, we need carbohydrates to fuel our muscles, red blood cells and our brains. However, it is pretty common to go overboard on the carbs. Pizza, and most things pizza flavored (pizza hummus, anyone?) are delicious. Here is a twist on pizza that uses eggplant as the crust. This increases the vegetable content in the meal and lowers total calories. Everyone can top their pizza with their favorite toppings and as an added bonus, this is gluten free for those needing to skip the wheat.

Eggplant Mini Pizzas

  • 1 large eggplant
  • low-sodium pizza sauce (or tomato sauce)
  • olive oil
  • crushed garlic
  • oregano
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan
  • your favorite pizza toppings
  1. Preheat oven (or toaster oven) to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Keep this skin; it is loaded with fiber and other lovely nutrients.
  3. Place slices on cookie sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Add a bit of crushed garlic and dried oregano for a flavor boost. 
  4. Bake in oven for 8-12 minutes total, flipping eggplant half-way through. The eggplant should be soft when poked with a fork and lightly browned. 
  5. Remove pan from the oven and top with tomato sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings. Pop back into the oven and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Kids in the kitchen? Remove parchment paper from the pan and keep hot pan away from little fingers. Slide parchment paper back onto the pan to go back into the oven after mini pizzas are ready. 
Seasoned with garlic and oregano!
Reader poll: What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why I Bike: Bryce

Why I bike?

For mind, body, spirit, bank account, community, and environment.

When did you learn to ride your bike? Who taught you?
I first started riding on a Big Wheel bike at Montessori pre-school at what must have been the age of 4. I remember there were two of them, both with hard plastic wheels that had seen better days, and we would have races across a particular stretch of blacktop during recess. Around that same time I got my first bicycle, a bright red one with training wheels and flame decals, as a gift from my grandfather on my mom’s side. Both my parents helped me learn to ride without training wheels soon after. The next milestone was getting back on a bicycle in college after not riding for 7 years through middle and high school. The next breakthrough was discovering the speed and agility of a road bike 2 years out of college.

In what city and state do you live?
I currently live in Washington, D.C.

What is the biking culture like there?

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area prior to moving here, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the bike culture in DC. In the morning I see dozens of other bike commuters on the road, there are numerous bike shops around the District, and hundreds if not thousands of residents cycle recreationally in the entire Washington, Maryland, and Virginia area every day. Tourists even join in on the biking too with a few different rental outfits in the city as well as the ever-popular and expanding Capital Bikeshare. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is also a prominent organization that promotes and fosters a biking culture and community in town, and there seem to be many different cycling groups centered around different bike shops and social circles.

What kind of bike (or bikes) do you have?
I have two used bikes: a Specialized mountain bike with slick tires and a Lemond road bike.

How often do you ride your bike?
At least 4-5 times a week for commuting, leisure, and exercise.

I wish drivers...
who haven’t ridden a bicycle in a while would give it a try! I also wish drivers and cyclists would be consistently taught and reminded of the road rules governing bicycle and car interactions.

I would ride my bike even more if...
we invested in more bicycle-friendly infrastructure including bicycle boulevards; marked, protected, or completely separate bicycle lanes and paths; bike parking racks; interconnected, interstate bike trails; mass transit with expanded options to accommodate bringing along bicycles; and expanded bike share systems.

My favorite bike snack…
Blueberry Cliff Bars, but they barely edge out varieties of trail mix, granola, assorted Kashi and Nature Valley bars, those energy cube gummy things in the lemon/lime flavor, peanut-butter gel, apples, various dried fruit, and stopping for ice cream.

My favorite piece of bike gear is…
Tie between a bell and lights for signaling and visibility to avoid accidents and a helmet for keeping me safe in case I get into one. Other favorites, but by no means necessities, are padded bike shorts, a rear bicycle rack for panniers, and a bicycle trailer to haul extra stuff.

Do you ride your bike in all weather?
Yes, I’ve ridden in snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night to cite the USPS. With adequate gear and infrastructure, riding in any weather can be enjoyable.

Do you own a car?
No, I rent from Car2go or Zipcar if I really need to use one.

My favorite thing about riding my bike....
Its fun, reminds me of being a kid, and is a great way to get energized at the start of the day. It saves me money and is better for the environment than driving a car. I’ve also seen more of the city and learned its geography much better by riding around on a bike.

The coolest trip I’ve done on my bike….
New York City to Washington, D.C. with Climate Ride. I also enjoy riding from my front door in the city out to the countryside in Maryland all in an afternoon.

The bike trip I’m dying to do…
Climate Ride California from Eureka to San Francisco. Across the US and also various places in Europe.

Does your house/apt/work have special accommodations that make biking more feasible?
Yes, the building across the street from my office is owned by the same management company and has locker rooms with showers that we can use for those particularly hot and sweaty biking days. In the last year at the request of tenants, they’ve added a few more rows of bike racks in the basement parking garage as well as traffic mirrors to make accessing those safer. Having extra living room space in a DC row house certainly helps at home.

Why do you bike?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Decadent Dip: Kiwi pomegranate salsa

I love salsa. Can I get an amen? Salsa is great on chips (of course), but also adds tang to your scrambled eggs and jazzes up grilled fish and chicken.

I have game nights pretty regularly these days and we have taken it up a notch with this awesome salsa. Thanks Mike!

Easiest way to cube avocado? In the skin! With a sharp knife, cut around the pit and twist the two halves apart. Hold the half with the pit in your non-dominate hand and the knife in your dominate hand; aim carefully and whack the pit with the knife. It should lodge in the pit (and not chop off your fingers). With a quick twist of your knife, the pit should pop right out. Pit suck? You probably had an under-ripe avocado - let it get a bit softer next time.

For the cubes - hold the avocado half in one hand and score the avocado with a knife - make several slices in one direction and then at 90 degree angles (picture a giant tic-tac-toe board). Use a spoon so scoop out the cubes and your work is done!

Kiwi Pomegranate Salsa
  • 3-4 ripe kiwifruit, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 2  tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Mix everything in a bowl and dig in. If you like less cilantro, use less. If you want more heat, add the whole jalapeño.

This recipe is easily doubled...and you probably should. 

I can't imagine you'll have leftovers with this recipe :)

Original recipe found here. 

Reader Poll: What is your favorite kind of salsa?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Entertaining? Serve a mocktail to keep the party rolling for everyone.

Cool Cucumber Mojito water
The weather is warming up and we are having thoughts of grill outs and back yard parties. Bring on the sunshine and vitamin D!

While many of us choose to drink alcohol, there are several people who may wish to pass. Unfortunately, there is significant social pressure to do so and as soon as you reach for a bottle of water or soda, suddenly people may feel entitled to your life story. It is none of their business. Serving a mocktail, a non-alcoholic drink, may just help smooth things over and keep the party rolling for everyone.

Alcoholism is a disease that may come with emotional baggage of shame; it is personal, and while recovery is still being cultivated, it may be very difficult to talk about. Fear of "failure", not being able to resist an alcoholic drink, may prevent a person from attending parties. Or the pressure to explain their drink choices may also keep them at home. Alcoholism is more prevalent in men than in women. Estimates for the US are 10-20% of men and 5-10% of women experience alcoholism at some point in their life.  Worldwide rates vary.

We don't recommend a women who is pregnant to consume alcohol. While a woman is trying to get pregnant or in the early stages of pregnancy, she may not wish to share the news. Having a mocktail helps to keep her private news private.

Moderate alcohol consumption, 1 drink a day for women and 1-2 drinks per day for men (and not saving all of them for the weekend) may have health benefits. However, they do come with a significant calorie punch. Per gram, alcohol is second only to fat in calories, and nearly double that of protein and carbohydrates. For folks working on weight loss, cutting alcohol is a great strategy to reach their goals.

Certain medications, being the designated driver and religious preferences are more reasons folks may skip the booze. While many of your party goers may enjoy the alcoholic drinks you serve, you never know who may wish to have an alternative. Choose your favorite drinks, but also make something else available - seltzer water, a mocktail and lemonade are all good choices.

Here is my recipe for Cool Cucumber Mojito water. Good for parties and to keep at your desk.

Let the good times roll!

Friday, April 5, 2013

What does 2000 calories look like?

I was just sent this fascinating video - (thanks Beth!) - and couldn't wait to share it with you!

Now, we all know that carrots are a healthy food, but I'm not recommending that anyone eat 60 of them to fulfill their calorie needs. A variety is best.

This video does an excellent job to illustrate the concept of volumetric eating. Studies have shown that people tend to eat the same volume of food throughout the day, regardless of calorie intake. So, if you replace some of those higher calorie options (I'm looking at you, Fettuccine Alfredo) with vegetables, you're belly won't know the difference but the scale will.

Don't villainize fats and carbohydrates though. Our body needs them, and protein, every day. The trick is to be savvy about which carbs and fats you choose. Whole grains beat refined junk, plant based fats like avocado and nuts beat trans-fats and most saturated fats.

What did you think of the video?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why I Bike: Michelle

When did you learn to ride your bike? Who taught you?
I learned in June, 1987. I was 5 years old. I had recently received my first bicycle as a 5-years old birthday present. I started with training wheels and then every other day my Dad would take them off and run with me holding onto the handle bars. Sometimes he would let go….and trust me, I had many falls. One day, he let me go and I had this moment of joy and understanding of what balancing actually means. From that moment on, I didn't need help anymore. I just knew how to ride my bike. Riding around my neighborhood brought such a feeling of freedom to my small self. I still feel that when I ride today, the feeling of the freedom my bike brings me.

I have since learned the better way to teach a kid to ride a bike is to take off the pedals and have them roll down a hill, they learn balance much more quickly that way. Once they have mastered that, you can put the pedals back on and have them roll down the hill pedaling. I was the second employee at a new nonprofit called ACHIEVE Kids Tri where we provided bikes to at-risk kids in low-income areas of Washington DC and then taught them how to ride, as well as to swim.

And here is a great video about the camp. For those that are interested in learning more or helping out, please send me an email.

In what city and state do you live?
Washington, DC

What is the biking culture like there?
I have biked in DC since 2006. It was not good then, not at all with very few bike lanes. But now in 2013, it is much improved with many bike lanes throughout the city. Thank you DDOT.

What kind of bike (or bikes) do you have?
My favorite bike is my commuter; it is a basic Specialized bike with cross bars and a big milk crate on the back that fits my computer bag and a backpack….and a surprising amount of groceries.

How often do you ride your bike?
Every day I commute to work and back.

I wish drivers...
Would use their turn signals 100% of the time.

I would ride my bike even more if...
Work was farther away.

My favorite bike snack___________
A water bottle filled with iced coffee.

My favorite piece of bike gear is
My extra warm and thick gloves that protect my hands from the cold in the winter.

Do you ride your bike in all weather?
Not in the pouring rain or dangerous snow/sleet.

Do you own a car?
I have never owned a car in my entire 30 years of being alive.

I mostly ride my bike ___
To commute and in the summer, I do enjoy a bike ride on my other bike - a triathlon Specialized bike.

My favorite thing about riding my bike....
The opportunity and freedom it gives me to use my own power to take myself from one location to the next.

The coolest trip I've done on my bike….
Rode from Kalamazoo, MI to Chicago along Lake Michigan.

The bike trip I'm dying to do…
Anywhere in California, I have always wanted to ride out there!

Craziest thing I did (or craziest thing I carried) on my bike:
I am not very crazy because I have had far too many bike accidents. Sometimes I ride no handed, but only if there are zero cars or people around. Once I tried to put my friend Melani into my crate, but we fell three times before realizing that it was not going to work, much to the amusement of people in Adams Morgan.

Does your house/apt/work have special accommodations that make biking more feasible?
Nope, I just park it in the living room.

Reader Poll: How rare is that to have never owned a car in this country? Could you do that?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

How to Build a Better Salad

It is common for people to assume that any salad is healthy, when all too often I see people assembling calorie bombs at the salad bar with the only vegetable being iceberg lettuce. While yes, fried chicken, cheese, croutons and a creamy dressing on top of iceberg lettuce is technically a salad, it isn't doing your body any favors.

I challenge clients to include as many colors as possible when choosing fruits and vegetables and to steer clear of croutons and other fried crunchies that are offering no nutritional benefit. Make sure to include a lean protein - tuna, grilled chicken, marinated tofu or hard boiled eggs and skip the fried chicken.

We do want some fats on the salad, as fat is an important nutrient and also helps with absorption of other nutrients (like the beta-carotene in carrots), we just don't want too much. I caution against low-fat salad dressings and to choose a vinaigrette. Low-fat dressings are usually loaded with sugars to make up for the flavor loss with the fat reduction and can be the same amount of calories. Just keep the portion reasonable - 2 tablespoons or so. 

A salad is satisfying when it has a good variety of flavors and textures and a lot of crunch. See if you can hit a all of the colors of the rainbow, add some lean protein and heart healthy fat and your salad will power you through until dinner.

Reader poll: What are your go to salad ingredients? 
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