Monday, June 27, 2016

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Fair Fish Family Fun

(You can thank Mal for this amazing blog post title! Haha!)

Hi, friends! I hope your week is off to a wonderful start! I’m just popping in real quick to share some adventures from our weekend. Our little family had quite the fun-filled Saturday and Sunday! Ok, here we go… weekend recap time!


We attended our first Hanover Day, a three-day event that included a carnival, vendor fair, live music, fireworks, and more. It was awesome, and I’m so glad that we decided to check it out. We’ll definitely visit again next year. It was so, so fun!!


We headed over to Hanover Day on Saturday afternoon, which meant we missed a good portion of the day, but it actually ended up working out well. It wasn’t crazy-crowded and there were still plenty of vendors and games set up as well as live performances and carnival in full swing.

hanover day 2016

Quinn especially loved the yard games at Hanover Day, so we spent quite a while trying them out!

hanover day games

He also got a kick out of the “Flying High Frisbee Dogs.”

hanover day

And enjoyed some fro-yo!

hanover day 2

Quinn was too small for the carnival rides, but we still went to check them out.


He was totally memorized by them. “Whoa!”


Quinn also had the chance to play a carnival game and won a trumpet! (Back at home, Murphy was not a fan of Quinn’s new toy!)



On Sunday morning, we woke up bright and early to visit the New England Aquarium and, oh my goodness, it was incredible. I’m still smiling about our visit.


I’ll never forget Quinn’s face when he saw the sea lions outside the aquarium for the first time. His face lit up with pure joy and amazement, and then he realized there were “more” of them around the corner and ran off to see them. It was so adorable.

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Quinn absolutely loved trying to feel the sting rays in the touch tank and probably would have stayed there all day. This is super cheesy to admit, but I literally had tears in my eyes when he touched his first sting ray. It just made me so happy watching his sweet face.


After visiting the aquarium, we headed to the nearby Rings Fountain to cool off.

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It was a bit overwhelming for Qman, so he stayed close to Mama and didn’t go in. (Of course, I didn’t mind and enjoyed the cuddles.)

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We wandered around downtown Boston for a little while longer and then drove to my sister’s house for Matthew’s camping-themed birthday party.


Super cute, right?


It was such a fun time, and Quinn loved playing with all of cousin Matthew’s cool toys!


S’mores cupcakes = so good!

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Happy 3rd birthday, Matthew!!

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Question of the Day

What was THE BEST part of your weekend?

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Dear Mark: How to Eat Blackstrap Molasses; Healthy Whole Grains Studies

DM Blackstrap Molasses FinalFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two reader questions. First, I answer a very specific question about blackstrap molasses, that nutrient-dense sweetener with the distinctive taste. How can a person who hates molasses work it into their diet? Next, I address concerns surrounding a set of healthy whole grain studies that I’m sure you’ve been hearing about. Are whole grains really healthy? Will they make you live long and prosper? Is there something unique to whole grains we’re missing out on?

Let’s go:

Hey Mark? Could you do something about how to incorporate blackstrap molasses into the diet? Everything I try is disgusting.

If you do dairy, mixing a tablespoon into a cup of milk is probably the most palatable. It’s downright delicious.

Add it to coffee, but only if you also add cream. Make sure not to add too much. Aim for slight sweetness. Once you start using blackstrap molasses to make foods taste sweet, you’re overdoing it. It gets gross fast.

A buddy of mine swears by a molasses smoothie: raw milk, molasses, crushed ice, instant coffee. He also agrees that you shouldn’t add so much molasses that it gets sweet, because that’s how you know you’ve gone too far.

Blackstrap goes well with winter squashes, highlighting the subtle nutty sweetness of a butternut, a delicata, an acorn. Drizzle thin ribbons, follow with salted butter, and you’re good to go.

This sounds weird, but trust me. Next time you have a handful of mixed nuts, add a little drizzle of blackstrap on top. It helps if the nuts are salted.

I’ll sometimes mix a tablespoon of blackstrap with a tablespoon of cider vinegar in a cup, fill it with ice, and add sparkling water. Quite refreshing and rejuvenating after a long hot hike or game of Ultimate.

Molasses ganache is nice. Melt 85% dark chocolate with a tablespoon of molasses in some heavy cream. Maybe a pinch of cayenne.

You might just have to tough it out, pour a tablespoon, and take it directly. Tell yourself that you’re getting 25% of the magnesium, 20% of the calcium, and 13% of the potassium you need for the day in that one tablespoon. You can handle having something gross in your mouth for few short moments.

Hi Mark:

I’m assuming that you are already planning on responding to this, but just in case, I’d love to see what you think about this recommendation – 90 grams of grains a day?!



Just like all the others, these findings and recommendations are based on observational studies: research which tracks correlations, not interventions.

And like all the others, it can’t make accurate recommendations. The same problems apply:

Lack of true control. We’re comparing whole grain eaters to refined grain eaters. Everyone who’s “normal” eats grains. As much as this movement has taken off, the vast majority of the population eats refined, not whole grains. “Across all age groups…the public exceeds recommendation intakes of refined grains.”  Does the analysis include a “Primal” group of people avoiding all grains—refined and whole—but eating tubers, vegetables, and fruit? The increase in mortality among the folks eating refined grains may be relevant for the folks eating refined grains, but that’s not you. That’s not my readership. I’d love to see that group pitted against healthy whole grain consumers.

Healthy user bias. “Everyone knows” whole grains are healthy. You’d imagine that people who choose whole grains are going to be following other healthy lifestyle and diet practices, right? Well, the authors of the study came to the same conclusion, admitting that “people with a high intake of whole grains might have different lifestyles, diets, or socioeconomic status than those with a low intake.”

The most believable explanation—and the only potential causal mechanism they explore in depth—is that the fiber grains provide has a beneficial effect on the gut biome, producing short chain fatty acids and reducing inflammation. I buy this, actually. For instance, most Americans get the majority of their paltry intake of resistant starch via whole grains, because for most Americans, eating green bananas and plantains, cooking and cooling potatoes, and making potato starch smoothies are rare behaviors (it is a little weird when you stop and think). If soluble, fermentable fibers like inulin and resistant starch are behind the supposed benefits of whole grains, shouldn’t the soluble, fermentable fibers found in non-grain, totally Primal foods work just as well?

The fact is that if you’re gonna eat grains, whole ones are healthier. If you’re going to obtain a large portion of your energy intake from grains, eating the ones with more micronutrients is better than eating the ones with none. That’s what this study says. It can’t say much about your Primal way of eating, though. We need direct comparisons to do that.

Don’t lose sleep over this one. If you’ve got a family member eating whole grains, and they appear to be healthy, they’re probably going to be okay.

That’s about it for today, folks. I hope these answers helped, and if you have anything to add (or ask), do so down below!

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