Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dear Sweet Melissa...NO BLOOD FOR YOU!

I went to give blood with my friend Melissa today on the Upper East Side. This is only the second time I have given blood. I am not only lazy and annoyed by needles in general, but no longer work at a hospital where they are more than willing to take all sorts of fluids from you if you'll let them, whenever you'll let them. In theory I always should schedule myself to go in right after a really vicious rugby tournament of the beginning of a Bikram yoga habit as it is excellent pain relief to sore muscles, however, I am just that lazy. But I digress...

There are some guidelines of what to expect when giving blood and some of those include nutrients components that you can "beef up" with your daily diet. That said, since I have been in attempts to shun meat and don't eat many fortified foods, who knows if I will even make the cut? And by that, I mean will my hemoglobin, hematocrit, and blood count be high enough? Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. Therefore, it is of huge importance to the function of blood in the body. Hematocrit is a test which gives you a percentage form showing the number of red blood cells as well as the size of the cells. Your blood is not all actual red blood cells, so knowing the percentage tells quite a bit about your blood count. The general guidelines are as follows:
Acceptable if you have a hemoglobin at or above 12.5 g/dL.
Acceptable if you have a hematocrit at or above 38%.
Luckily my hemoglobin came in at a solid 13.8 g/dL. Thank you double serving of Cheerios and Rice Dream this morning! However, young Melissa fell short of the mark in the blood iron exhibition and was banished to the waiting room to eat jelly beans and contemplate politics. So here's how one could prevent that from happening in the future. Basically, make sure to incorporate food iron sources into your diet on a regular basis but more actively so the week or few days before you plan to donate. It is plentiful not only in animal sources (Heme iron) but in many vegetarian and vegan sources (non-Heme iron) for those who don't do meat or are avoiding red meat for health reasons or personal preference. There are also tricks to increase your absorption. Do you get enough? The RDA is as follows:
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iron for non-vegetarian pre-menopausal women is 18 mg/day. The RDA for non-vegetarian men and post-menopausal women is 8 mg/day. Because of iron absorption issues in a healthful, high-fiber vegetarian diet, the RDAs for vegetarians are higher - 14 mg/day for vegetarian men and 33 mg/day for vegetarian women. The upper level of intake should not exceed 45mg/day.
A simple google search can show you a little over a half million lists of iron rich foods. I enjoy this one the most as it organizes all the listings into nice neat little columns:

GRAINSBread (white or whole wheat)1 slice0.5
Bran muffin11.5
English muffin11.5-1.9
Cooked cereal1/2 cup0.7
Dry cereal3/4 cupread label
Wheat germ1/2 cup4

MEATOrgan meats3 oz.7
Liver3 oz.8-9
Liver sausage3 oz.4-6
Shellfish3 oz.4-5
Red meats3 oz.4
Fish and poultry3 oz.2-3

Sunflower seeds1 oz.2
Pumpkin seeds1 oz.3.2
Cooked dry peas (beans, lentils, lima beans)1/2 cup2-3
Nuts1/3 cup0.5-2.0
Peanut butter1 tbsp.0.3

FRUITWater melon6" x 1/2" slice3
Strawberries1 cup1.5
Banana1 cup1

DRIED FRUITRaisins, dates, prunes, figs, apricots1/2 cup3-4

JUICES (CANNED)Prune juice3/4 cup7.4
Tomato juice3/4 cup1.6
Apple juice3/4 cup1.1

VEGETABLESCooked dark leafy greens (spinach, collards, kale)1/2 cup3
Raw dark leafy greens (spinach, collards, kale)1 cup2
Jicama1/3 cup0.8

MISCELLANEOUSMolasses1 tbsp.3.2
Brewer's yeast (dry)1 tbsp.1.4

FAST FOODSPizza (cheese or pepperoni)1/2 of 10"4.5-5.4
Hamburger1 reg.2.5
Cheeseburger1 reg.2.5
Beef burrito14.6
Bean burrito12.8
Beef taco12.9

Therefore, Miss Melissa can have a nice dinner of naturally iron abundant or iron-fortified foods tonight and attempt once again tomorrow!

And you should too if you are healthy and eligible to donate. New York is currently experiencing a shortage of blood and blood products (also reported by the Red Cross with a chance to win Yankees v. Red Sox tickets...) and you never really know when you are going to be on the receiving end. Instant Karma!

~beth who is stoked to finally know her blood type and will donate again in 56 to 60 days!

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Summer Slush Puppy in Red Hook; Who Knew?

The last time I saw a Slush Puppy machine would have to be in the 80s in rural Ohio. So logically the next time I would see one would be a day I was melting in Red Hook. These icy treats contain about zero nutrition and likely rot your teeth on impact, but they make for general confusion as strangers give you weird looks for the rest of the day.

~beth who remembers it being way better than that...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Columbus Park Greenmarket!

Right when you get off the train first stop into Brooklyn (from Manhattan) is Columbus Park where there are some lovely weekend summer vegetables and farmers' products. They make for lovely photos as well as tasty treats!

~beth hopes everyone is taking advantage of their local produce to the fullest.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Think I Want to Volunteer...

...and you should too. Try one of these (listed in no particular order):
And if you're too lazy to do any of that or just plain can't make the time, then donate some dollars instead. Let's face it, this world is made up of many more people who are happy to sit back and do nothing, to jump borders, to accept welfare, and to milk the planet. Don't be one of those assholes.

And yeah, there are more animal links than human. I think they deserve more than we do.

~beth is currently having an existential dilemma AKA is at "home" in Vegas, the land of the Hummer.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Emy!!

Here are some onion rings to savour with your milky boozeshakes!!

~ beth loves her wife!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Indoor Compost Box: A Must Have for Manhattan Girls (And Boys) This Season

Last week I went to a very long-awaited indoor composting workshop provided by the Lower East Side Ecology Center. I had initially heard about this months ago (September 2007 to be exact), signed up only to be robbed of my worm box by a cancellation due to inclement weather. The following two workshops conflicted with life in general and I went without a worm box. I know this may sound slightly off to those of you who do not have eco-anxiety like I do but Andrew "Recycling Boy" can testify to my broken record declaring that I would be so much better off composting things instead of landfilling them for months now. So when we were shut out of this one, I was about to give up. Thanks to my minx, Dani, who gave me her spot so that my vegetable cuttings and I could have some solace.

Enough with the dramatics, let's get into it. What is a worm box (bin) you might ask? A worm box is a small clear plastic tote with a snap on lid that is outfitted with four air vents. The box is ideal for the placement of worms, their bedding, and your food scraps to create an indoor composting atmosphere. This allows you to put certain food scraps, decaying plant matter, and some paper waste in the box to feed the worms and yield glorious nutrient-rich compost months later called vermicompost. This being in bin form allows those who do not have access or space for full scale outdoor composting to do so in the small space of an apartment.

"One red worm processes half of its own weight in food scraps every day!"

I pride myself on knowing quite a bit about worms. I used to catch them on the farm as a child, throw them in my favorite flowers to try to help them grow, etc. I did not know, however, that the only worms that actually create vermicompost are red worms. The kind bought at the workshop were Eisenia fetida. the bin comes with a pound of worms, roughly 1,000 who all told can power through roughly half a pound of scraps a day, or three and a half pounds of food a week.

You begin with a crafty paper mache feeling leading me to wish I had grabbed the box made in class instead of making it myself. I assembled a bowl of water, three copies of the Village Voice (They print using soy ink. Who knew?), my pound of worms, and a ready-made worm bin from the workshop. After tearing all the papers into long strips, wetting them, then wringing them out, I tried to make some fluffy moist bedding. Then I dumped in the worms onto the top of the bedding leaving the lid off in the light for about an hour so they would be prompted to burrow into the bedding. The instructions asked that the box/bin be kept somewhere between the temperatures of 55 and 75 degrees which might be tough in NYC in July, but I tried to stash it out of direct light in the kitchen. I like composting, but it's not going in my bedroom....

When you decide to when to feed the worms, you can do it daily or once a week depending on what works for you. Things that are in large pieces (think broccoli stalks) should be cut down so they are easier to be eaten by the worms (who do not have mouths, but have gizzards instead). Each time you feed, rotate where you are putting the food and put it under the bedding, adding more bedding as needed. Basically, the worms eat their bedding as well.

Items you can feed your worms: Red worms eat fruit and vegetable scraps, crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and leftover breads and grains. They should not eat meat or fish scraps, dairy, or fatty or oily foods. Vegetables are largely made of water and will keep your box damp, however, you should spritz then bedding with water it it is drying. If the temperature is an issue, you can cool down the box by freezing your scraps then introducing them to the box. I may throw in the occasional ice cube to cool it down in there for the little hermaphrodites.

After my worms burrowed I went to the refrigerator to see what items were waiting for my new little buddies. They got about 6 ounces of blueberries past their ripeness, some chopped tomatoes and lettuce from a forgotten salad, a coffee filter of Fairway's best blend, and a small container of plain brown rice leftover from Asiakan (serious yum). So far so good, they are pampered by the soy ink Village Voice and some lovely colorful nip.

As I learn more about my own worm box and composting there will certainly be troubleshooting updates!

The next Indoor Worm Composting Workshop being held by the Lower East Side Ecology Center is on Tuesday, September 18, 2008 from 6 to 8pm at the Whole Foods (95 East Houston Street). There you can purchase a worm box with worms at a subsidized rate thanks to the Department of Sanitation. To RSVP, email info@lesecologycenter.org

~beth (Who wishes NYC would step it up like SF and have curb-side compost pick ups...)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Week in San Francisco

Will bring a good fortune of photos!


Agoraphobic Cuisine

Andrew is away on an acoustic adventure in foggy Londontown, therefore, I get to be as agoraphobic as I like and no one can nag me because I don't ever answer my phone. HA! And really, I am more neighoborhoodophobic anyway. However, this means that there is no one to fetch me choice treats from outside this barren wasteland called Central Park North. Damn you, ghetto with no food or civilization that no one will deliver to for fear of getting mugged! So I have to resort to what is already in the apartment and that can be tricky.

There are two items which shine brightly as things I forgot were tasty and now am going to throw back into the regular rotation, Cheerios and Morningstar Farms Philly Cheese Steak Burgers.

As we all know, Cheerios are one of the most basic cereals you can find, without all the crap being put in cereal now and are fantabulous with Vanilla Rice Dream. They provide tons of fiber, which I am addicted to not just a little bit. They also don't get soggy quickly as I have a tendency to walk away from food and forget about it until 20 minutes later. Anyone who is interested in heart health or lowering their cholesterol should have them on their shelf ASAP. They're back in the rotation!

And as for Morningstar Farms Philly Cheese Steak Burgers, those I have loved for a long time. Unfortunately, our apartment has a freezer that I hate and tend to avoid, so I forget what's in there. They have 10g of protein per "burger" which is largely derived from my arch-nemesis, soy. However, they are so tasty that I kind of overlook that fact. And they taste great out of the microwave with just a little sprinkle cheese and either some tomato sauce, salsa, etc. I would make more extraordinary things out of them, but I just cannot be bothered. Not shockingly, when there is no one for me to impress with my culinary skills, I just cannot be bothered. Grrr!

~beth (Who is reminding everyone to recycle! Really, people, it's not that hard.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What the Hell is Hairy Lemon and Why Can't I Live Without It?

When my main minx Annika and I went to
Australia and New Zealand in the winter of
2004, presumably to hunt the elusive All
Black, we came upon this fantabulous new
(to us) lemon-flavoured fizzy supplement
called Hairy Lemon. I proceeded to put in
water, diet Coke, tea, etc. I was even tossing
these tabs into vodka tonics. I was a Hairy
Lemon addict and still am to this day.

But what exactly is in Hairy Lemon? Their website lacks my choice of scientific examine, however, in an attempt to find a way to get it short of traveling internationally...I found this quick list.
"Active Ingredient Each Hairy lemon tablet contains: ascorbic acid (vit.C) 250mg, thiamine hydrochloride (vit.B1) 15mg, riboflavine sodium phosphate 20mg, nicotinamide 50mg, calcium pantothenate 25mg Equiv. pantothenic acid (vit.B5) 22.5mg, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vit.B6) 10mg Equiv. pyridxine 8.2mg, cyanocobalamin (vit.B12) 10mcg, biotin 150mcg, paullinia cupana (Guarana) seed dry 240mg Equiv. caffeine 4mg, eleutherococcus senticosus (Ginseng Siberian) root dry 200mg. Contains saccharin. This preparation contains 287.4mg (12.5mmol) per dose of sodium which should be taken into account by those on a low sodium diet. The maximum recommended dose of two tablets daily contains 574.8mg of Sodium."
Guarana, tsk, tsk. What exactly is guarana? AKA Brazillian coaca (which sounds way less sinister, in my opinion) is a South American shrub whose fruit seeds are rich in caffeine (even more than coffee) and other naturally occurring compounds such as tannins. It is widely accepted as a stimulant and is now enjoying favor in some weight loss products claiming to depress appetite and increase metabolic fat use. Due to the very very limited and, in my opinion, dangerous lack of regulation by the FDA in the field of supplements and vitamins, I would never professionally recommend it. It also bears mention that you should use it under medical supervision to avoid health condition and medical interactions as there are many.

So that explains a lot. Hangover cure, indeed! Still a little suspect.... We eventually did find an All Black in the Eden Park parking lot. It was kind of anticlimactic but worthwhile all the same. Prop forward John Afoa was changing a tire there and he was nice enough to take a photo with us. No touching, however, his very suspicious girlfriend was there. Hairy situation...

~beth (Who misses Annika now that she finally made the leap.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Little Italy Festival

Friday evening Andrew and I made a run down to Little Italy to see the opening of the Little Italy Festival. It essentially is an excuse to close a few blocks of Mulberry Street "Pedestrian Mall" and eat at the many restaurants there offering, you guessed it, Italian fare. We did not go to eat, we only went to take a few photos before the light completely disappeared... Please to enjoy.

When: The Summer in Little Italy Festival will run every weekend through Labor Day. The hours are Fridays from 6 PM to 11 PM, Saturdays from 11 AM to 11 PM, and Sundays from 11 AM to 10 PM.
The festival will take place along Mulberry Street between Canal and Broome Streets and on Hester Street between Mott and Mulberry Streets. During these weekend hours, Mulberry Street will be closed to vehicular traffic.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cleanses In General aka Why You Should Stay at Home This [That] Weekend

Clearly I have too much time on my hands this summer waiting for school and coaching to start, so I will bring out a photo documentary of a cleanse we did during the winter. And by we, I mean myself and my faithful guinea pig, Andrew. Also, many of my rugby minxes ask questions concerning detoxes/cleanses and how they can use them to kick start diets, so here is one of those "recipes." However, I am quick to say that all detoxes should be done under the care of a trained and certified health professional, not just gleaned from the interwebs...

All recipes are taken from my handy dandy copy of the The Detox Book, by Bruce Fife, N.D. (byline: How to Detoxify Your Body to Improve Your Health, Stop Disease, and Reverse Aging). Fife is a nutritionist, naturopath, and co-director of an alternative health center and The Detox Book is essentially a comprehensive handbook of detoxification therapies, including nutrition, fasting, juicing, oxygen and heat therapies, exercise, and kidney and liver cleansing. I don't subscribe to all of these personally, but it is really hard to give an opinion on detoxes/cleanses without doing one yourself. However, I will try almost anything once and the idea of getting rid of a bunch of waste in my body is enticing.

Initially I chose to do the Liver Cleanse because I think that is one of the organs I abuse the most (not counting my knees), and seeing as it is the largest gland in the body (averaging four pounds!) doing the bulk of my body's natural detoxification, it likely needs a wash out. It is the only organ that receives a double blood supply and despite a fairly good diet, I suspect my blood is kind of crappy. Andrew and I both feel like our metabolism is sluggish and since the liver plays a major role there, we are set on it.

The recipe advises to start the cleanse on a Friday and clear your weekend plans! You should have a non-fat breakfast and lunch on Friday and then eat and drink nothing else excepting water past 2pm (Basically, skip happy hour). Fat stimulates the excretion of bile, and therefore when saved up will cause a larger evacuation later on once underway. Avoid taking any medications or vitamins that you can live without.

At 6pm (Friday), mix 1 tbsp. of Epsom salt with 3/4 cup of water and drink. This is not the most pleasant taste, so feel free to doctor it up with some flavoured vitamin C powder or in my case, some Crystal Light (I doubt it would be Fife's first choice, O well.). Make sure to get all the salt, adding more water if necessary. Do this again at 8pm.

Just before 10pm, right before bed, measure 1/2 a cup of extra virgin olive oil and 1 cup of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (Thank you, Gourmet Garage!) and mix in a glass with a spoon. With this mixture you want to take 4 L-ornithine capsules which will help you sleep through some of the unpleasantness. Then go immediately to bed! If you follow these directions, you should not feel any pain or discomfort although you may feel things "moving."

You should wake up Saturday after 6am and make a third drink of 1 tbsp. Epsom salt and 3/4 water. Wait literally 2 hours and repeat the Epsom salt and water mixture. After waiting at least another 2 hours, you may go back to eating normally.

So how did it (bed)pan out? Well, Andrew claimed that there really was nothing going on and frankly, seemed bored by the process. The Epsom "salt shakes" wore both of our nerves and gag reflexes. I, on the other liver, had a very quick reaction to the Epsom salt, and was almost to the point of making a little bed in the bathroom well before 8pm on Friday night. I also felt nauseous throughout the night which could have had to do with me cheating a tiny bit with a diet Coke (It will be the death of me!!) around 9pm... I do feel the process cleaned my colon out though.

Fife claims that you will see hundreds of small green (tinted by bile) marble-ish gallstones and liver stones in your movements and that this is natural. I saw none of these and recall avoiding discussing it with Andrew in favor of the couch, a liter of apple Pedialyte, and some Cartoon Network. He also recommends doing his kidney cleanse first (oops), another liver cleanse a week or so later if you feel you still have stones, followed by a colon cleanse in case stones settle there on the way out. Suspect.

Because it would not be a worthy experience without photos and video... ;)

~beth (Who is very proud of her pink coffeemaker!!)

Kittens Against Plastic: Cheeto Beans

Since his early kittenhood, young Cheeto Beans has shown an affinity for green living with his love of reusable shopping bags. Here he models a green bag from the London Zoo. Makes you want to go adopt one of the bazillions of kittens out there who need homes and well as never use plastic again, doesn't it?

~beth (Who is OCD and lines up all of her spices on the counter by category and fullness of container...)