Thursday, May 30, 2013

Reader Question: What is compost, anyway?

Maybe you're interested in growing something this year. Maybe you're concerned about how much you're throwing away in your kitchen. Perhaps you have some gardening buddies who can't talk enough about compost...and you're afraid to ask.

What is compost?

Compost is the result of lots of organic matter breaking down into a fluffy brown mixture called humus (not hummus, the yummy dip). If you build a compost pile in your yard, you're going to have a mixture of things high in carbon, often called "browns", such as brown leaves, newspaper shreds, cardboard and sawdust. You're also going to have your scraps high in nitrogen, usually called your "greens" by garden folks. These include your food scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, spent grains from a brewery, etc.

The more you look around your house, the more you'll find that can be composted: the rolls from the center of your toilet paper, dryer lint, hair (yup!), non-glossy junk mail and more. Less trash, please!

Composting mixes all of these up in a pile or bin and lets nature do the work; microbes break down the materials, kill weed seeds and pathogens and leaves you with excellent nutrition for your garden (and less carted to the landfill). Check out this nice video for some more information and get composting!

What is prohibited in the compost bin? Meats and bones, fats and oils and pet waste.

So, what gives? Compost in your garden leads to healthy plants and a healthy planet. Healthy plants are less prone to disease and are going to be more nutrient dense. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cooking for 1: Scrumptious Strata

It can be tricky to cook for one when many recipe are for a family of 4-6.  Here is a great recipe for a hearty, fast meal that is just as good for dinner as it is for breakfast. The veggies are flexible - use whatever are your favorites and is in season. Broccoli, spinach, asparagus, peppers and eggplant are all delicious choices. 

Scrumptious Strata
Serves 1

·         2 whole eggs
·         ¼ cup 2% milk
·         1 slice whole wheat bread, torn into small pieces
·         ¼ cup swiss cheese, shredded
·         ¼ cup diced onions (frozen is easiest)
·         ¼ cup diced yellow squash
·         1 pinch each of garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper
·         Salt + pepper, to taste

1.      Spray an oven-safe glass dish with non-stick cooking spray and preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees.
2.      In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs and milk. Add veggies, cheese and bread and toss to coat.
3.      Pour into prepared dish and bake for about 25 minutes, or until top is browned and knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Note: This recipe is flexible - feel free to change the vegetables to what you have on hand. It is also easily doubled (or quadrupled) to serve more people.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sweet Treats: Maple + Bourbon Chocolate Mousse

This. Is. Delicious. And it has a mystery ingredient. It is a dessert that almost everyone can enjoy - there isn't any dairy or gluten, just loads of chocolaty good flavor :)

This sweet treat has a mystery ingredient...but you'd never guess it from the flavor!

Maple Bourbon Chocolate Mousse
Serves 4
  • 2 ripe avocadoes
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave or over a double boiler - your call.
  2. Pop all of the ingredients into your food processor or blender and blend until very smooth. If you can stand it, let it chill in the fridge for a few hours. 
Do you have any unusual ways to use avocado? 

Monday, May 20, 2013

TED Talk: How I Did Less and Ate Better, Thanks to Weeds

This is a great TED Talk. What is a weed, anyway? Simply a plant that is growing where you don't want it to be. Take a few minutes to watch this TED talk and learn about how foraging can play a role in having a sustainable food system.

Reader Poll: Have you ever foraged for food? Tell us about it!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A hilarious buzzfeed in honor of national bike week

aughter is good for the soul and so is biking. Here is a great combo of the two from our friends at Buzzfeed. Enjoy!

(and go ride your bike!)

44 Things You Will Only Understand If You Ride A Bike In New York City

Where have you ridden your bike today?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Celebrate National Bike Month

May is National Bike Month—a perfect time for our community to recognize and celebrate all the benefits of bicycling.

Bicycling keeps us healthy, carries us efficiently from point A to point B, saves us from high gas prices, and makes our air cleaner and our roads less congested.

Bicycling is good for our community and helps address many of our most pressing societal and environmental problems. Bicycling is fun!

Even though this week (May 13-17) is National Bike to Work Week, I encourage you to think of it as Bike to Anywhere Week. According to the national bike group PeopleForBikes, half of all trips Americans make are three miles or less—an easy biking distance.

If more people in our community bike, even just once a week or once a month, we’ll all be better off (even those of us who don’t ride). This month, dust off your bike and give two wheels a try!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Reader question: Real foods for exercise recovery?

Ben asks: "I'm sore from my workout!What "real" foods could I eat after I exercise to alleviate this & stay healthy?" 

Great question, Ben!

After a tough workout, it is important to nosh on some carbohydrates and protein to help repair muscle and to replenish the stored glycogen. I like smoothies because they're quick - I made this smoothie before my run this morning and had it in the car for when I was through. Ideally, your recovery snack should be consumed within 30-60 minutes after your workout.

Why does this snack work? The yogurt and fruit provide carbohydrates, the nut butter and yogurt provide protein. The flavorings make it delicious without having to add any extra sugar.

Nuts and seeds (and nut butters) are a great option for getting minerals - magnesium, for example. Some folks seem to be more prone to charlie horses (those awful leg cramps) if these key minerals are low. The yogurt provides calcium, another important mineral for your muscles.

Here are a few more idea:
  • 1/2 cup Cottage cheese + 1 cup cantaloupe cubes + 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup chocolate milk
  • peanut butter sandwich with whole grain bread and banana slices in place of the jam
  • 1 Larabar
  • Handful of dried apricots + almonds
  • 1 hard-boiled egg + 1 cup grapes
  • 1 cheese stick + 1 pear
Remember to keep your portions reasonable - you don't want to eat more than you just burned - and to have a big glass of water, too!

What's your burning question for the dietitian?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why I Bike: Melani

This week we get the pleasure of interviewing Melani, founder and head coach of LAAVA Performance. If you're in the DC area, check 'em out! 

"We strive to educate and empower multi-sport athletes to explore and promote the crossroads between smart training and leading a balanced and healthy lives"

When did you learn to ride your bike? Who taught you?
GENERAL RIDE: My dad taught me how to roll without any training wheels right before I started elementary school. He semi-tricked me into it by saying he was holding onto my seat and would let me know when he would let go. One block later after my bike found a nice patch of grass to fall over on I found out that he had let go after just a few seconds! Even though I had fallen I felt on top of the world!  

COMPETITIVE RIDE: Cyclocross was my transition into competitive cycling and I have my roommate Barry and CycleLife USA friend Gonzalo to thank for that. Barry loaned me my first adult bike with the trade off that I would sign up for a cross race. I attended my first bar-handling clinic with Gonzo, signed up for my first MABRA (mid-atlantic bicycling racing association) race and ended up competing on Fuji's all-women's team that made it to cyclocross nationals! 

Now that I race competitively, my coach Bob and the crew at CycleLife USA  continuously teach me how to ride more efficiently and how to take care of my bike so I am able to race to my potential.  And due to my competitive spirit, my training buddies also known as AOAT (all out all the time) have taught me how to push my limits on the bike and also in life. 

In what city and state do you live?
Washington, District of Columbia! US of A :) 

What is the biking culture like there?
I moved to DC in 2007 and since then our city has become a champion of change within the transportation world. Thanks to the hard work of the Dept of Transportation during former Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration, bike lanes have popped up all over the city, from the suburbanesque parts of the city like Brightwood and Columbia Heights to the commercial and tourist frequented areas like Pennsylvania Ave NW and The Golden Triangle Business District. It's also awesome to see so many people commuting to work and to see the Capital Bikeshare program thrive. 

What kind of bike (or bikes) do you have?
*2009 Fuji cross pro (trained and competed on for cyclo-cross races and then suped it up to be my commuter)
*2007 Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL (train and race on for triathlon races!)

How often do you ride your bike?
I aim to ride EVERY DAY unless it's pouring rain, snowing hard or if my bike is in the shop

I wish drivers...
Rode their bikes more often! 

I would ride my bike even more if...
There were more cycling designers for business/commuter outfits. So far I really like Ivan Jean.

My favorite bike snack___________
My favorites changes all the time: right now it's Clif Bar's Chocolate Brownie

My favorite piece of bike gear is
My LAAVA Performance cycling kit designed by Betty Designs. 

Do you ride your bike in all weather?
Ideally, yes, unless it is pouring rain or snowing hard

Do you own a car?
Nope; if I need a car I LAAV using the car sharing program Car2Go

I mostly ride my bike ___
I ride my fuji to commute (every day) and ride my road bike for triathlon training (2-3x/week)

My favorite thing about riding my bike....
Is getting from point to point faster than a car during traffic hours and yes, while obeying all laws! :) I also love riding in the car lanes to show off my DC bike "license" plate!
The coolest trip I’ve done on my bike….
is to Bend, Oregon for Cyclocross Nationals where it was sub 30 degrees and the race was my first time riding…in SNOW!

The bike trip I’m dying to do…
 A trip across the country ride for charity.

Craziest thing I did on my bike:
My friend Michelle has a basket bike that I tried sitting in while she rode down the street. It failed comically since the entire block of restaurants and patio patrons watched our circus routine. 

Does your house/apt/work have special accommodations that make biking more feasible? 
Yes! Both of my roommates own and ride bikes so we call our place the FFFH (Fun Fulton Fit House). We transformed our garage into a bike valet! 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Education of a Farmer: Welcome to Health Barn

At FNCE this past fall, the annual conference for dietitians, I got to meet Stacey Antine, founder of HealthBarn USA. I learned about her awesome business that gets kids digging in the dirt and excited about vegetables and couldn't wait to visit. This past week I was in NYC and got to spend the day on the farm with Stacey, her great staff and many enthusiastic kiddos.

Stacey has also been on the Rachel Ray show - pretty stinkin' cool, huh? Check her out:

Stacey rents space on a working farm in New Jersey. There is a large garden that the kids work in - each permanent bed is surrounded by stones that help remind little feet to stay on the mulched paths. There isn't too much growing yet, but the visitors to the farm were able to dig in the compost pile and taste mint and sorrel (an awesome leafy green that tastes like lemon). After the gardening adventure, the kids went to the kitchen to help make a swirly fruit smoothie and then to the farm store to be a supermarket spy.

Fresh mint!
If you'd like to visit the farm or enroll your kiddo in camp, check out the HealthBarn website. You can also welcome Stacey to your school for an assembly that the kids will love.

Stacey's programs are the complete health package - growing good food, cooking and eating it. Kids eat what they grow! It was great to visit the farm and to learn more about what dietitians are doing outside of the traditional hospital setting.

Reader poll: What is your favorite leafy green?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Why I Bike: Pete

When did you learn to ride your bike? Who taught you?
My father taught me to ride a bike when I was six years old.

In what city and state do you live?
Boston, Mass.

What is the biking culture like there?
Our city's bike culture is as diverse as the city itself, only differing from community to community in how organized or cohesive it is. We have Vietnamese fishermen riding on the coast, African American road riding clubs, a bike-a-thon based in Chinatown and just a huge variety of people who ride a bike.

What kind of bike (or bikes) do you have?
Mostly old 70s and 80s road bikes set up in different ways, and cargo bikes for heavier loads.

How often do you ride your bike?
Several times a day.

Do you have a bike story?
I moved to Boston in 2001 and it was the first city I lived in where I experience a deep and vibrant bike culture. But I experienced being a hit by car and noticed that was not uncommon amongst my friends, and in 2004 an acquaintance of mine was killed in Lower Allston after coasting out into the street off of a steep foot bridge into a faded out crosswalk with no stop sign. It was the first time I really recognized the power of street design to save lives. Since then I have been active as a reporter and now an organizer for safer cycling policy and infrastructure.

I wish drivers...
Would all be taught how to ride a bicycle in the fifth grade, so they could empathize with and understand what it is like from a riders perspective.

I would ride my bike even more if...
I didn't have to work for a living.

My favorite piece of bike gear is
My full fenders so my suit won't get messed up in a rain storm.

Do you ride your bike in all weather?

Do you own a car?

I mostly ride my bike ___
To get around town.

Do you think of biking as legitimate transportation?

My favorite thing about riding my bike....
Experiencing the city directly. The wind, the people I can stop and chat with, and the ability to wander aimlessly.

The coolest trip I’ve done on my bike….
Mountain biked across the Rockies when I was 17.

The bike trip I’m dying to do…
The one where I pack up all my belongings and go where my heart takes me.

Does your house/apt/work have special accommodations that make biking more feasible?
My house has a basement with a door at street level and plenty of storage space, including a rack we can hang our bikes from and a bike shop.

Thanks Pete!

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