Gluten Free For Good


 

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Gluten-free oatmeal and teff power porridge

Pete Bronski, founder with wife Kelli of the blog No Gluten No Problem, is an endurance athlete, friend, colleague, and co-author of our new book (May release date), The Gluten-Free Edge: A Nutrition and Training Guide for Peak Athletic Performance and an Active Gluten-Free Life. Check here for pre-order details. And when we say, an Active Gluten-Free Life, we mean everyone on the planet, not just super-heros.

After long hours (days, weeks, months) of researching, writing, rewriting, and interviewing gluten-free athletes and athletes who choose to be gluten-free, Pete is back logging long hours trail running and I’m back at Mary Jane telemark skiing. I’m also in the process of losing the 5 pounds I gained while writing and creating high-octane recipes for the book. Aahh, the irony of writing a book on sports nutrition (weight gain and a slide in fitness).

It was worth it and I’m incredibly grateful for the experience, but now I’m on a mission to revive myself. My eating habits weren’t bad while writing the book, but I sat on my bum for way too many hours and my exercise routine, active lifestyle, and yoga practice suffered. That’s not something I want to make a habit of.

I’ve found that the best way to kick-start my day and boost my energy levels is to eat a power-packed breakfast. That means a combination of high-quality carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing healthy, gluten-free breakfast ideas for an active lifestyle. All will be vegetarian, nutrient-dense, and delicious.

First up: gluten-free power porridge with whole-grain oats and teff—perfect before heading out for a day of skiing or hiking (or in Pete’s case, mega-distance trail running).

But before I get to the recipe, I’d be remiss if I didn’t do a little “compare and contrast” of oats. Oats are not all the same, as fast-food, mega-giant McDonald’s demonstrated last year with the unveiling of their “Oats with the Most” fruit and maple oatmeal bowl. After reading the ingredient label and nutrition information, I’m thinking the tag line should read, “Oats with the Most additional and unnecessary low-quality, junk-food additives.”

McDonald’s Oatmeal Bowl contains the following ingredients: Oatmeal—whole grain rolled oats, brown sugar, modified food starch, salt, natural flavor (plant source), barley malt extract, caramel color; Diced Apples—apples, calcium ascorbate; Cranberry Raisin Blend—Sweetened dried cranberries (sugar, cranberries), California rasins, golden raisins, sunflower oil, sulfur dioxide as a preservative (contains sulfites); Light Cream—milk, cream, sodium phosphate, datem, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium citrate, carrageenan.

What the heck is datem?

I’m so glad you asked.

DATEM (directly from Wikipedia): Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Ester of Mono- and Diglycerides is an emulsifier used to strengthen dough by building a strong gluten network. It is also known as E472e and is often derived from genetically modified soya bean oil.

First off, if it’s called E472e, it’s not food (not to mention its other name). Really? We need a dough strengthener in our oatmeal?

Aside from the fact that this oatmeal is contaminated with gluten, it’s filled with a boat-load of unhealthy ingredients. Leave it to McDonald’s to completely ruin what should be a healthy breakfast.

Now, let’s take a look at the ingredient list on my bag of Montana Gluten-Free OatmealIngredients: whole grain rolled oats. Period. Wow, the oats are the ingredient. It’s the same thing with my bag of teff. Ingredients: whole grain teff. What a concept. The food is also the ingredient.

To be fair, the McDonald’s ingredient label included everything in the pre-made bowl of oatmeal. Yes it comes with the apples, cranberry raisin blend, and light cream infused into the oatmeal (don’t even ask). Unfortunately, you can’t pull through the drive-up window, order the Oatmeal Bowl and say, “Hold the  E472e, the barley malt extract, the caramel color, the multiple sugars, the modified food starch, the calcium ascorbate, the sulfur dioxide, the sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium citrate, and the carrageenan.”

To insure that my “compare and contrast” playing field is level, I’ll include the same detailed nutrition information on my porridge at the end of the recipe.

Gluten-free oatmeal and teff power porridge
(photo above–Montana GF Processor’s raw oats and Bob’s Red Mill raw teff)

what you need
1 and 1/4 cup water
dash of salt
1/2 cup certified gluten-free whole grain rolled oats
2 tablespoons whole grain teff
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 small apple, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon raisins (or a mix of raisins and dried cranberries)
honey or maple syrup (to make it vegan, used maple syrup)
coconut milk or other milk

what you do
1. Bring water and salt to a boil.
2. Slowly add oats and teff, stir well, and turn heat to low. Add vanilla, cinnamon, apples, raisins, and cranberries (if using).
3. Cook on low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from heat when liquid is absorbed and serve with a drizzle of honey (or maple syrup) and milk of choice. I like light coconut milk with it, but any nut milk will do.

PER SERVING (Oatmeal Teff Porridge): 3.2 g fat; 78 g carbohydrate; 11 g protein; 10 g fiber
Nutrition Bonus: excellent source of iron

PER SERVING (McDonald’s Oatmeal): 4.5 g fat; 57 g carbohydrate; 5 g protein; 5 g fiber
Nutrition Time Bomb: additives, preservatives, dyes

Note: Some people with gluten intolerance have an immune response to oats, even certified gluten-free oats. If you choose to try oats, start slowly (1/3 cup) to see if you react. Oats also contain a lot of fiber, which is a good thing, but may cause gastrointestinal stress if you’re not used to it. Check with your healthcare provider if you’re unsure about adding oats to your diet.

Peace, love, and power porridge. Stay tuned for more healthy breakfast ideas for an active gluten-free life!

Melissa

please stand up to read this

Are you standing up? No?

Okay, I’ll be honest. I’m not either.

Disclosure: I’m sitting in my big, soft, down-filled, vintage Hemingway chair (and ottoman) with my computer on my lap and a cup of organic coffee with coconut milk by my side. I’m also munching on sliced Fuji apples and almond butter while typing and watching the final stage of the Tour de France.

Having said that, I’m off to an all-day yoga workshop, so I’m not feeling too bad about my sitting, eating, sipping, blogging and watching TV.

Whoa, when I say it like that, it sounds pretty bad.

And, that’s my point. It all adds up, no matter what our excuses are. Watching TV is watching TV, even if it’s a monumentally epic, calorie-burning event like the Tour de France. We sit far more than we realize and it translates to a higher risk of everything from heart disease to diabetes to Alzheimer’s. I did lots of research for this post and one thing I found particularly disturbing was that the increased risk of disease was found to be independent of physical activity level. That’s always been my excuse. Hey, I exercise every day. I also sit on my exercise ball a lot of the time. That’s all good, but I flat-out sit too much. Blogging, writing, research, working, social media, messing around on my computer.

My goal is to cut down on my sitting down. I’m standing as I make this declaration! Well, sort of. But, you get the idea. I’ll get moving and let this wonderful graphic speak for me. If you want a systematic review of longitudinal studies published since 1996 on the relationship between sitting on your bum and increased risk of disease, check the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 41, Issue 2 (August 2011).

Peace, love and stand up!
Melissa
P.S. Erin of Gluten Free Fitness, you were right. Cadel rocked!

 

Sitting is Killing You
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

fuzz food inflammation and movement

If I had more room in the title bar, I’d call this post, “inflammation, fuzz, food, inner space, enlightenment, movement, and twisty-bendy stuff.”

In case you’re wondering about the photo, cotton candy has nothing to do with this post, other than it looks exactly like fuzz. I wanted something that would visually compare to fuzz in case you wanted to opt out of the cadaver video.

I bet you’re curious, though.

I’m a nutritionist, but my college education began with a degree in exercise physiology. Because both disciplines are science-based, I’ve ended up taking anatomy, physiology, and bio-chem two different times, from different teachers, at different institutions. My first semester (20-some years ago) of anatomy included a cadaver lab. It was there that I found my religion (seriously) and began my intense fascination with how our bodies work from the inside out.

Before I was diagnosed with celiac disease, joint pain and inflammation where a daily thing for me. Nothing debilitating, but it was annoying and constant. I even slept with my arms in a pillow-version of traction because my shoulders hurt so much. I attributed the pain to a lifetime of physical activity and overuse. To make a long story short, a gluten-free, whole foods diet and lots of yoga solved my problems. No more inflammation and very little pain — as long as I eat well and move often. Bend, stretch, twist, twirl, and dance.

I’ll let somanaut Gil Hedley explain why. His approach to teaching anatomy and physiology is humorous, creative, and spiritually enlightening. He’s also brilliant and charmingly geeky, which I absolutely love.

Did that help (and isn’t Gil charming)? Doesn’t fuzz look like cotton candy? Well, there’s no need for either.

Movement is key, but so is food.

On to inflammation, which isn’t always a bad thing. It’s a natural and protective response by the immune system to infectious agents, toxins, tissue injury, temperature extremes, cooties and other icky things. It’s a bad thing when the response is misdirected, never shuts off and targets healthy tissue. Because inflammation is a general and non-specific protective mechanism, the response is similar whether the damage is caused by gluten cooties, poor diet, disease, a fall down the stairs or a misdirected hammer.

So — what can we do to decrease inflammation and enhance our health?

Make anti-inflammatory foods your foundation and twist, bend, stretch, twirl, and shake your booty every day. You might also consider some beneficial body work.

Here are 10 tips to get you started.

1. Eliminate or minimize processed foods, fast food and junk food. Avoid products containing trans-fats, partially hydrogenated fats, high-fructose corn syrup, chemicals, additives and other “non-food” ingredients. Sugar is also pro-inflammatory.
2. Choose healthy fats such as extra-virgin olive oil, coconut, avocados, nuts and seeds.
3. Avoid soda pop and opt for old-fashioned water or green tea. If you choose to drink alcohol, an occasional glass of red wine has been shown to be beneficial.
4. Choose a wide variety of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables. Organic is best. Strive for 9 to 10 servings per day. Eat more veggies than fruit (5-6 servings of veggies, 3-4 servings of fruit). This is just a guideline.
5. Eat healthy non-gluten grains like teff, montina, quinoa, amaranth and brown rice. Legumes (beans, peas, lentils) are also a rich source of high-quality plant protein.
6. Choose nuts, seeds, raisins and dates for snacks or an occasional small serving of dark chocolate when you need a “sweet fix.”
7. Season foods with health-enhancing herbs and spices like garlic, capsicum, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, parsley and cilantro. This list is endless.
8. The right balance of EFAs (essential fatty acids) is important. In general, omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and omega-6s are pro-inflammatory. I’ll do an entire post on this one of these days.
9. If you choose to eat animal products, 100% grass-fed, organic choices are best. Meat and dairy products from 100% grass-fed animals contain higher levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which studies show may fight inflammation and have anti-cancer properties.
10. Reduce stress, think positive thoughts, get adequate sleep and exercise.

Bottom line?

Your body truly is a temple. Treat it as such. Go inside, learn as much as you can about the inner workings that make up the divine space in which you live. As Gil so eloquently expresses in his book, Reconceiving My Body – Take Two, From The Heart, “I realized that I had been sitting for my whole life outside the doorsteps of the most finely wrought Cathedral ever built, without ever having gotten off my arse to walk through the doors and have a look about. My body in all its complexity represented the wonders and workings of God’s creation. Rather than being some insufferable obstacle to spiritual growth, my body as a temple could become my greatest resource for beholding the hidden face of the Divine within me.”

Go forth and explore inner space. The more we understand the magic of what’s going on inside our bodies, the more likely we are to appreciate and take care of this wonderful creation.

Peace, love and inner space!
Melissa

Tempting foods part 2

The competition was fierce (see prior post), but in the end, the brownie sundae took the crown. It didn’t seem to matter that it’s now winter and half the country is experiencing record lows, people have an unrestrained and almost delirious passion for ice cream.

I’m a nutritionist, but half the time I feel like an investigative reporter or an underpaid research geek. My last post and your amazing response sent me into overdrive. I’m obsessed with books, obsessed with research and my office is a study in organized chaos. And although I’m not proud of this, I’ve had an intimate relationship (a serious love affair) with Amazon.com since 1995. I’m a charter mistress. Talk about insatiable appetites – I have one for books. And damn that Amazon, their one-click ordering with free shipping makes it nearly impossible for me to resist. My UPS guy just shakes his head. I’ll get to why and how this ties in with brownie sundaes in a moment, but for now, let’s just say this whole dang thing with over-indulging is complicated business.

The brownie sundae was the hand’s down favorite, followed by the bacon cheeseburger and the chocolate cake. It’s no surprise that raw broccoli came in last. Other than being the choice of some of my hyper-healthy readers, it had no chance against ice cream and chocolate. I like broccoli, but when I’m craving a blissful treat, raw cruciferous veggies don’t jump to mind.

Why is that? Why do we choose to pig-out on ice cream and not bok choy? Who obsesses over Brussels sprouts?

Not me.

Studies show that we’re more apt to crave fat, sugar, salt and more fat, sugar and salt. A few of you did said you might choose the broccoli if it was covered with cheese sauce. And a few others mentioned that I failed to include nachos. You’re right, chips or cheese fries should have been on my “tempting foods” menu. But no one suggested parsnips or beet greens.

We’re almost three weeks into the new year and many of us started 2010 with intentions of eating better, losing weight and exercising more. I did, and right now I’m doing fairly well with my intention, mainly I believe, because I’m focusing on something that trumps the feel-good sensation I get from eating tempting treats. I have a goal and it has nothing to do with conventional dieting.

Diets are bad and they don’t work. Changing what you eat, how you think about food and replacing the buzz you get from over-indulging with something physical, is good. And don’t count on the food industry to help you out. In fact, be very suspicious of them, very suspicious indeed.

I grew up in Colorado and back in the 50s and 60s, hardly anyone was overweight. I look at old photos from my parents’ generation and from when I was a little girl and everyone appears to be a “normal” weight. Our serious weight gain has happened in the last couple of decades and along with it, a rapid rise in lifestyle-related diseases. Two new studies suggest that 2/3rds of adults are now overweight or obese. Check out these guys in the photo above. These are many of the men who lived in a small Colorado mountain community where my dad grew up. The photo was taken sometime in the 1940s. My dad is 4th from the left in the bottom row. Healthy looking guys, right? Fit, handsome characters. If you took the same sampling now, many would be overweight and out of shape. We don’t exercise as much and we eat totally different foods from what these guys ate.

There’s a variety of reasons we’re becoming a nation of overeaters, one of them being what is available to us now. Ridiculous “foods” that weren’t around back then. Quick-fix breakfast cereals that turn milk weird shades of pink and purple. Ding Dongs that never spoil. Irresistible brownie ice cream sundaes that are absolutely loaded with sugar, fat and salt and designed to make you want more. That kind of food gives us a sweet rush of dopamine, the “reward” neurotransmitter. We like that feeling and seek out the foods that give us that high. In fact, so much so that we often can’t think of anything other than the plate of chocolate chip cookies on the table or the brownie sundae on the menu. Add in the perceived depravation of having celiac disease (no gluten means less treat options) and all the sudden that gluten-free brownie sundae at the chain restaurant (I won’t name names) takes on monumental importance. If you feel deprived, you think you need and deserve the “reward” even more. The food industry knows this and has figured out the right mixtures to make us obsess over the brownie sundae or double whopper with fries. Fat, sugar and salt. It’s “almost” not our fault. We can “almost” blame the food industry, much like we blamed the tobacco industry. They are a sneaky bunch and they want you to want more of what they’re selling. Here’s the catch though, if you believe it’s not your fault, you have no control.

Power to the people, as Flo says on the Progressive ads! We get to choose.

Now, what do we do instead of overeating and then dieting and depriving ourselves? This one’s tough because we have imbedded in our neural pathways the delicious dopamine spike we get when we eat the tempting foods. It’s hard to replace that with a handful of raw broccoli. That doesn’t work for most people. We need something that trumps the buzz we get from the fat, sugar and salt. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix. No pill, no diet, no magic formula. We have to take control, retrain our neural patterns, adjust our lifestyle habits and change our perceptions. We have to find something physical that makes us want to eat better. That’s especially hard when there’s a donut shop, a burger joint or a chain restaurant on every corner. It’s way too easy to get the fix, just like it’s way too easy for me to hit “one click ordering.” (Ooh, but I get so excited when I do that.)

Does this make sense?

Yoga helps me overcome the food part because it connects me on a deeper level with my body. I have a greater respect and appreciation for what’s going on inside, even on a cellular level. I feel stronger, healthier and have more energy. I like that, it feels better than eating the brownie sundae.

I feel better, I look better, so I continue to eat better. And on it goes.

I’m taking a 4 week arm balancing class right now from one of my favorite yoga instructors. A 4 week inversion class will follow. It’s hard to do these poses if I weigh just 5 pounds more than my normal weight, it hurts my wrists and I find I’m not strong enough to hold that much weight upside down (or sideways). Five extra pounds is too much. That’s my “tipping point.” I need to weigh less and that is my motivation, that is my reward. Yoga trumps my desire to eat high-calorie, low-nutrition food. Most of the time, anyway.

Maybe this will add fuel to your motivational fire. Here’s the breakdown of what’s in that irresistible brownie sundae that is served at a major US restaurant chain.

Calories: 1911
Carbohydrates: 135 g
Dietary fiber: 13 g
Total fat: 153.8 g
Saturated fat: 88 g
Protein: 26.9 g
Cholesterol: 426.3 mg
Sodium: 401.4 mg

So, skip the brownie sundae and take a yoga class. Or ride your bike to the farmer’s market and buy some broccoli. You’ll feel much better if you do.

Melissa
P.S. Forgive me Lord, for I have rambled.

References:
1. Nutrition Action Health Letter (Dr. David Kessler)
2. Deconstructing the Vanilla Milkshake

what’s in store for you in 2010

girljourney

What does the future hold?

Can you see down that long (hopefully) and winding road that makes up your life journey?

No, none of us can. But I’m going with the intention of living a long and healthy life so I want to make sure I’m positioning myself to do so. And in style.

January 1, 2010.

No better day to start than today.

I have trouble considering myself as anything other than early-middle-aged (oooh, that seems strange), so to have that play out chronologically, I need to make my way to the other side of 100. And as I said before, do it with style. I want to be one of those old ladies doing handstands on the beach (or the only one), telemark skiing and climbing mountains with Colorado’s “over the hill gang.” Perhaps sporting an antique blond (also known as grey) ponytail and wearing chic and groovy clothes. Even golden girls can feel good, look good and be full of life. I want to eventually be that golden girl.

Thriving in style.

No time to waste. I need to be preparing for that now. I got sidetracked with the holidays and have been baking (and eating) muffins, cookies and cakes. Drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate. Not exercising enough. My metabolism is off-kilter and I’ve gained 6 pounds. Okay, I know I should know better and I’m not going to mention any names, but it’s not entirely my fault.

Now that the holiday roller coaster ride is over, I’m ready to get back on track with a healthy eating and exercise program. If you’re remotely interested, read on. Here’s what I’m going to do to lose that 6 pounds, reset my metabolism and get back in shape before this uptick in weight becomes the norm. That’s how it happens, my friends. Before you know it, this slow, inauspicious cookie-creep becomes an accepted part of your backside (or spare tire for the guys).

I don’t want to go there. I want to be able to do cartwheels when I’m 80 and each extra pound makes stuff like that sooo much harder to do. Pretty soon playing upside down is longer an option. And that’s not in my plan.

Your plan may be different, but the bottom line is the same. We want to stay healthy for a variety of reasons, whatever they may be.

This isn’t a cleansing protocol, that will come in the spring. This is my basic weight loss protocol. Nothing complicated, but after the sugar rush of the holidays, certainly not easy.

Onward, with resolution resolve!

1. I’ll eat a good, healthy and relaxed breakfast each morning. Something like a bowl of GF oatmeal, a smoothie, a sliced apple with almond butter and a cup of goat kefir, or poached eggs with greens on teff toast. The best thing right now is something fairly substantial, but not high in calories – and with a mix of protein, carbs and fat.

2. No snacking in between meals. I’ll stick with herbal tea or water.

3. Exercise every day. I will either go to yoga, go for a long walk, ride my bike (or indoor trainer), go skiing – anything that gets me moving, stretching, breathing and thriving.

4. Eat my main meal at lunch – something like a healthy bowl of soup or stew, a side salad and a few flax crackers.

5. Eat a light dinner before 6 PM. No snacking after dinner. I’ll drink some nice mellow herbal tea with honey before bed.

6. Drink lots of water throughout the day. Have an occasional glass of red wine on the weekend, but not during the week. No sugar, no processed foods, smaller portions, no snacking in between meals.

That’s a start. I had a bowl of oatmeal (see recipe below) for breakfast early this morning and now I’m going to go ride my bike trainer and listen to 80s music on my iPod.

Hearty and healthy GF oatmeal to usher in 2010 *
what you need

2 cups water
3/4 cup certified GF oatmeal
2 tablespoons teff grain
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup chopped nuts (or a mix of nuts and seeds)
handful of raisins

what you do
1. Bring water to a boil, slowly add oats and teff, stir well and turn heat to low (the lowest setting).
2. Add the rest of the ingredients, blend well, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Check and stir occasionally. Add a touch more water if you need to.

Serve with brown rice milk and raw honey. Makes 2 hearty servings.

* Some people with celiac disease  or a gluten sensitivity don’t do well with oats even if they are pure and uncontaminated, so check with your health care provider before adding oats to your diet.

Music to ride by – 80s iPod play list
1. Start Me Up (The Rolling Stones, 1981)
2. Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler, 1983)
3. I Love Rock & Roll (Joan Jett, 1982)
4. Billie Jean (Michael Jackson, 1983)
5. Love Shack (The B-52s, 1989)
6. Straight Up (Paula Abdul, 1980) Sorry about this one, but who can resist singing along?
7. Thing Called Love (Bonnie Raitt, 1989) Go, Bonnie, go!
8. I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues (Elton John, 1983)
9. Super Freak (Rick James, 1981)

It’s 2010, let’s get moving!
Melissa

the business of staying healthy

Exercise regularly . . .

. . . and eat right!

Laugh and be serious about the business of staying healthy (yes, you can do both at the same time).
Melissa
P.S. Thanks for the inspiration, Kylie!

performance-enhancing beets

beetsrice

I love beets.

But you already knew that if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time.

Now, thanks to some researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK, I have documentation that this deadly serious vegetable is a performance-enhancing substance. In fact, there are forty pages worth of scientific documentation on just that subject in the August 6th issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology. If you’re interested.

Yes, the beet root is not only well-suited for a starring role in an offbeat Tom Robbins’ saga, but it also has important implications in mitochondrial respiration.

Deadly serious? By all means.

Do you care? Probably not.

But that’s never stopped me before. Here’s the scoop. To make a long and very convoluted story short, researchers have determined that beet root juice, which contains inorganic nitrate, decreases human oxygen requirements during sub-maximal exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise.

So, how did they figure this out?

The researchers rounded up a compliant study group of males, aged 19-38 years old (only guys that age would agree to this). Half the group drank 500 mL per day of beet root juice, while the other half drank black currant juice, which has little nitrate content. They were hooked up to metabolic equipment to measure pulmonary gas exchange, their BP and heart rates were monitored, and capillary blood samples were collected during several days of exercise testing and juice drinking.

Well, guess what? The beet root drinkers showed significantly improved exercise tolerance and muscle oxygenation. I doubt you have to be a 19-38 year old male to benefit in this way by eating beets or drinking beet juice, but I’m happy to let them be the guinea pigs.

Ah, but here’s my take on it. Don’t wait for beet root capsules to be sold at your favorite supplement store (just wait, it will happen). Instead, eat the whole beet and enjoy it. You’ll be able to run faster and farther. Seriously.

Well, maybe it just won’t hurt as bad.

The above photo was my lunch. I sautéed onions, garlic, celery, carrots and beets in a little coconut oil for about 6-8 minutes. I added some leftover cooked brown rice and a few splashes of chicken broth and stirred occasionally for another 5 minutes or so, until rice was hot and veggies were lightly cooked.

Now I’m going to go run (maybe I’ll just walk) my dog 16% more efficiently than if I hadn’t eaten beets. That might be a bit of a leap, but you get the idea.

Other beet-obsessive posts I’ve written include:

Gluten-free, chocolate beet cupcakes (just trust me)
The beet goes on — dairy-free, beet ice cream (yeah, I know, I know)
Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume and the deadly serious beet
Tips on storing and using both the beet root and the greens (raw or cooked)
Seasonal foods nutritional profile of beets

Off and running,
Melissa

organic veggie power

csaproduce1

Eat all your wholesome CSA or Farmer’s Market power food and you’ll be dancin’ in the streets like this guy.

I’d suggest you tell your kids that if they eat their veggies they’ll be able to do stuff like this — but then again, it might happen and you’d be stuck with a kid who does stuff like this. Yikes!

Go forth and eat your power veggies. Stay tuned, I’ll post a “hearty greens” recipe tomorrow. This one’s just for fun.
Melissa

dispatches from above

driftpeak

I’m shifting from food to altitude to sophisticated blog posting from the highest mountain on the planet. First a short altitude 101 lesson to create the appropriate ambiance (pun intended).

I took the above winter mountaineering photo from the summit of Drift Peak, high in the Tenmile Range of the Colorado Rockies. Drift Peak is a little over 13,900 feet, making it one of Colorado’s centennial peaks (the 100 highest summits, all over 13,800 feet in elevation).

If you’ve ever wandered around at high altitudes (above 10,000 feet), you know that as you ascend it becomes more and more difficult to do anything in a hurry. Your legs feel heavier, your respiration increases and you might even feel nauseous or develop a headache. That’s because you’re not breathing in enough oxygen and the consequences can go from mildly annoying to life threatening.

I won’t go into too much detail, but the higher you go, the more the body has to adapt to less air pressure, therefore less oxygen intake. Here’s where it gets confusing. The percentage of oxygen in the air is the same whether you’re at sea level or on top of Mt. Everest, which is 29,000 feet. Our atmosphere is made up of 21% oxygen at any altitude. There isn’t less oxygen as a percentage of gases at 29,000 feet, it’s just that the higher you go, the less atmospheric pressure there is. With less air pressure the oxygen molecules scatter into a larger volume of air. If I’m standing at sea level that same 21% of oxygen molecules is being pressed down around me so it’s much easier to breathe and get the oxygen I need to do whatever it is I’m doing.

Our bodies do adjust somewhat and depending on our individual physiology, we adapt and acclimatize to varying degrees. To begin with, our breathing increases and our movement slows down. Heavy breathing (the altitude-related kind) allows us to take in more oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide. Our heart rate goes up to deliver the oxygen to our brain and muscle tissues. There’s also a lot going on with our kidneys when we increase elevation. Have you ever noticed that as you get above treeline you have to go to the bathroom more often? Darn, no bushes to hide behind — that can get a bit tricky if you’re a girl (especially in the winter). Men have it made.

Here’s what happens (to make a long, complicated story short). Your kidneys know you need more oxygen so they conspire to get rid of extra water so your blood becomes thicker and can carry more concentrated oxygen. Aren’t we just amazing little creatures?! All the more reason to honor our bodies and take care of ourselves.

I’ll leave it at that and get on to the point of this post, which is about dispatch-blogging at super-high altitudes. I just wanted to set the stage as I often find it difficult to write a wimpy little post while sitting in my office, listening to music and sipping tea. Think about doing it on Everest. It’s hard enough just to breath, let alone create glorious dispatches such as these.

I’m a Mac girl, so I love the idea that they’re using MacBook Pros to do their Himalayan blogging. I’ve been following the progress of this expedition and their daily dispatches since they started several weeks ago. I’ll explain why later and keep you posted as the team expects to summit in a few days.

Go forth (or up) and have fun!
Melissa

no excuses

I took these photos at the base of Winter Park Ski Area in the mountains of Colorado. No thought went into it, no positioning myself for optimal light, no effort to get the right angle. I had my little point and shoot camera in my jacket pocket and as I was taking my skis off to go inside and eat lunch, I saw this wonderful dog on duty. Although he was doing his dog job, he was also taking full measure of the fact that his owner was off tearing up the slopes and he could take a break and relax in the sunshine.

Whoever owns this dog skis at Winter Park and if his (or her) wheelchair is any indication, he (or she) is out and about regardless of what some might call a “limitation.” Winter Park is home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled and is known internationally for the caliber and dedication of its athletes and participants. That includes the hundreds of volunteers who are committed to helping people with disabilities learn to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, climb and enjoy the outdoors. The program also includes the Disabled Competition Center and the NSCD Alpine Ski Team. The Competition Program has placed dozens of racers on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. At the 2006 Paralympics in Turin, Italy, NSCD worked and trained 16 of the athletes who were representing the USDST.

Miles from England and Xenny from South Africa inspired me to do this post (although they don’t know it). Long story, but Xenny is an amputee and plays on the beaches in South Africa. When I saw a photo of “Xenny’s Beach” on Miles’ blog and read how newly installed stairs gave Xenny access to the beach, it made me smile and think of my own stomping grounds. I’ve spent my life skiing at Winter Park (and Mary Jane) and the base area is home to wheelchairs, artificial limbs, and the occasional dog companion. The scene always inspires me.

Do you ever talk yourself out of doing something because you think it will be too much effort? Convince yourself you don’t quite feel good enough? No real reason, you just can’t seem to muster up what it takes to get off your bum and go move about? We all do that on occasion. I did it yesterday and skipped one of my favorite yoga classes because I was — lazy?

Okay, no excuses.

Imagine what it must take for this guy (or girl) to get up skiing. Or the access needed for Xenny to get to the beach and have fun. I’m grateful to have these folks around for inspiration and I thank them from the bottom of my whiny (occasionally) little heart.

If you need more inspiration in the coming year to celebrate life and movement, check out this video of one of my all-time yoga heros, Matthew Sanford.

Go forth and play. No excuses!
Melissa

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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