Thursday, November 17, 2016

Friday Morning Iced Coffee Date (11/18)

Good morning and happy Friday to you!

Let’s get right to the coffee talk, shall we? Has anyone tried the new Spiced Sweet Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks? It sounds heavenly. Hopefully, it’s not too sweet, but I love the idea of spiced creamy cold brew!

New Spiced Sweet Cream Cold Brew. Holiday Spice Flat White. Sip and be welcome. Our new Cold Brew is here. We took our Nariño 70 Blend, spiced it with cinnamon and nutmeg, then topped it with sweet cream.

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next week. November is FLYING by, right? What are your plans for Turkey Day? Are you hosting? What are you making for the holiday? So, I stumbled upon a recipe for Cauliflower Stuffing on Facebook the other day, and it sounded so good. My Grammie also requested a “healthy vegetable side,” so it seems like the perfect dish for the holiday. I’m also making this Candied Pecan Chex Mix, which is the best ever.

You know what else is the best ever? Quinn is almost caught up with his language skills for his age! At his weekly Early Intervention (EI) session on Monday, his EI specialist said he probably won’t qualify for services at his year appointment in March because he’s doing so well. Seriously, the kid is talking up a storm! We even decided that because he’s doing so great, we’ll only meet twice a month instead of every week. I can’t even explain how much Qman has changed since he’s been able to better communicate with us. He’s a much happier kid now! Hooray for EI!! 🙂

The other day, I was looking at the “Insights” on the Carrots ‘N’ Cake Instagram and some of the top posts are the photos of my grocery hauls. Kind of interesting, right? I mean, I like to see what other people buy at the grocery store, so I guess it makes sense!

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Speaking of Instagram, if you follow CNC, you might have already seen my new kicks: Brooks Heritage Vanguard (color 511). I’m totally and utterly obsessed with them. They’re super comfy and go with just about everything I own, so I am constantly wearing them. I also love the slimmer silhouette/side profile. I’m a huge fan. Definitely add these babies to your holiday list this year! 🙂

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Speaking of athleisure gear that I love… Reebok recently sent me a super cozy cotton vest pictured below, which is perfect for wearing to and from the gym. It’s 100% cotton and sooo soft (almost fleece-y), and the over-sized cowl collar is warm and cuddly. It’s awesome. I’ve worn it non-stop lately, both inside and outside of the gym. FYI: The mesh leggings that I am wearing in the photo below are also from Reebok, and I must have received at least a half dozens compliments when I wore them to CrossFit yesterday!

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And… I know I mentioned this pullover last week, but I’m still hoping it’s under the tree for me on Christmas morning. Or maybe Mal will give it to me for our anniversary next weekend? Well, it’s not our wedding anniversary. It just the anniversary of our second first date (13 years ago), and we agreed on gifts that cost $15 or less, so maybe not. Oh, well. Ok, I’m rambling…

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So, next week, Kerrie and I have a “discovery session” with a company to develop new software for Designed to Fit Nutrition. It’s crazy and exciting, and we are so pumped to have it ready to go for the new year. FYI: If you’re thinking about signing up for a custom meal plan to start in early January, be sure to register soon, so we can get you all set up to start!

I was recently quoted in American Profile’s Community Table about making the most of your workout. It’s always really fun to see my name in print, so just wanted to share! 🙂

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I also wanted to give a shout-out to the folks at RunKeeper, who fixed some of the bad GPS points from my South Shore Half Marathon tracking. How cool is that? Now I have more accurate splits from the race

I got a manicure earlier this week, and I’m totally in love with the color (Louvre Me) that I picked. It’s perfect for the holiday season!

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Tonight, Mal and I are going out with a couple of our friends for dinner, and I am so looking forward to it. Obviously, because our friends are a lot of fun, but also because Mal and I haven’t gone out sans toddler in ages. We actually just found another babysitter, so now we have two childcare options if we want to go out. Funny side story: On Election Day, I asked Quinn who he was planning to vote for. His response: “Jessie” (our babysitter). Smart kid. Anyway, we love Jessie, but she’s a college student, so she’s busy and not always available, so we’re pumped to have someone else to help us out.

This weekend is also our 4th Annual Friendsgiving celebration with our hometown friends. I can’t believe this our fourth! At our very first Friendsgiving, there were 13 people (well, technically, 14 because Qman was there). This year, our group has grown to 20 people! So. Many. Babies.

Ok, I’ve talked enough. Your turn! How’s life? What would you tell me over coffee this morning?



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7 Lighter Takes on Essential Thanksgiving Sides

Is there anything more necessary than a generous scoop of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving? A slice of hot buttered cornbread is nice, too. Some would even say it’s the green bean casserole that really makes the meal special. Personal preferences aside, we can all agree that the sides are the best part of Thanksgiving — next to the smorgasbord of pie, of course. And since we only get to enjoy this celebratory feast one day each year, why not dig in to the indulgent dishes that are so representative of the holiday?

Then again, if you plan on having a lot of leftovers, you could be enjoying these dishes for a few days (or an entire week) after Thanksgiving has passed. That’s incentive to throw some healthier options into the mix. Here are the classic, comforting sides we all long for, with a few minor alterations to make each one less of a splurge. As it turns out, your healthiest Thanksgiving could be your most-traditional yet. Who knew?

Mashed Potatoes (pictured above)
Food Network Kitchen prepares these Mock Mashed Potatoes using cauliflower in place of traditional Yukon Golds, which results in a creamy mash that will have everyone at the table fooled. Garlic and thyme add flavor depth while nonfat Greek yogurt and a little Parmesan bring in some dairy richness and tang.

Stuffing
Studded with tart Granny Smiths and toasted almonds, Ina Garten’s Herb and Apple Stuffing will satisfy the need for something comforting and breadlike on the table. When choosing a loaf at the supermarket, go for whole-wheat bread instead of white.

Mac and Cheese
When you’re expecting mac and cheese, you don’t want a modest bowl of noodles thinly coated in low-fat cheese. You want to see a bubbling vat of the cheesiest macaroni imaginable. Ellie Krieger’s Macaroni and Four Cheeses goes well beyond expectations with the combination of Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Parmesan and ricotta. She brings it back into health-conscious territory by incorporating pureed squash (for fiber) and low-fat milk in place of heavy cream.

Green Bean Casserole
Although it’s a beloved Thanksgiving staple, nutritionists can’t exactly endorse it — until now. For her modified Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots, Ellie skips the condensed cream of mushroom soup and makes a creamy sauce using low-fat milk instead. The result is a seemingly decadent side dish with just 186 calories per serving.

Sweet Potato Casserole
This Sweet Potato-Pecan Casserole is everything you want from a Thanksgiving side: It’s traditional and satisfying, but it won’t leave you stuffed. By whipping the sweet potatoes with an egg, you’ll make them creamy without the need for butter. Sprinkle the casserole with pecans just before baking for a hearty yet healthy crunch.

Cornbread
Butter and vegetable oil do not a good cornbread make. Damaris Phillips proves this with her Cast-Iron Skillet Cornbread by using heart-healthy coconut oil and applesauce instead. The finished result has that familiar golden crust, but without the excessive grease.

Cranberry Sauce
It’s tough putting a healthy spin on a dish that consists of fruit and white sugar, but this Homemade Cranberry Sauce might be the closest you’ll get (while still maintaining the taste and appearance of the classic dish). One batch serves six, yet there’s just 2/3 cup of sugar in total, resulting in a pleasantly sweet-tart sauce for your turkey and mashed potatoes. A splash of sugar-free orange juice — or better yet, freshly-squeezed — does wonders for the flavor.

For more festive dishes to complement your turkey, check out these recipes from our friends:

Devour: Thanksgiving Side Dishes That’ll Hold Up to Reheating
The Lemon Bowl: Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Foodtastic Mom: French Style Sweet Potato Soufflé
Feed Me Phoebe: Gluten-Free Stuffing with Vegan “Creamed Spinach” and Leeks
The Hungry Traveler: Loaded Smashed Potatoes
Dishin & Dishes: Bacon Wrapped Butternut Squash Wedges
The Mediterranean Dish: Jeweled Couscous with Pomegranate and Lentils
The Fed Up Foodie: Festive Orange Spinach Salad
A Mind “Full” Mom: Parmesan Garlic Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
Creative Culinary: Golden Onion Casserole with Thyme and Toasted Bread Rounds
Swing Eats: Creamed Spinach
Taste with the Eyes: It’s Back – The Stuffing Everyone Loves!
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Pan Seared Cauliflower
FN Dish: Stovetop vs. Oven-Baked: Battle of the Thanksgiving Side Dishes



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Food and Fiber: The Consumer Revolution

As you might know, Robb and I are HUGE fans of The Savory Institute. He and I were both invited to their recent conference in Boulder. Robb had another event he was committed to, but I hopped on a plane and was so thrilled to be a part of if.
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I have to say it was one of the best conferences I’ve attended. As a bonus, the day after the big event, I got to visit a bison ranch that practices holistic management. Having never seen bison up close before, this was a real treat. The mix of attendees was fascinating. I had a chance to speak with ranchers, marketers, and venture capitalists who are all deeply interested in the work of Allan Savory (if you haven’t seen his famous TED Talk, check it out here.)
Bison grazing at West Bijou Ranch in Strasburg, Colorado

Bison grazing at West Bijou Ranch in Strasburg, Colorado

Allan talked about how he’s in the “departure lounge.” This may sound depressing to you, but coming from him, it was sobering yet inspirational. He said he’ll never see the full results of what he’s started, and how important that is. The other folks I spoke with at the conference all had the same mission in life: To be part of something so big, that they will never fully see the results. I think that’s why I loved being there. In the world of quick profits, keeping up with the Jonses, and shallow, short-term goals, I can sometimes feel discouraged. It’s not often that I am surrounded by people who are passionate about a long term vision of creating a better future.
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The folks at Savory have been working with i.e. Media to produce a series of incredibly high quality short films that illustrate how holistic management can dramatically reverse desertification and regenerate not only the soil, but whole communities. The films were revealed at the conference and are being released one by one. In my opinion, film is absolutely the perfect way to illustrate the effects of holistic planned grazing. You have to see it to believe it, and the crew did an artful job of telling the story. To me, it’s much more powerful than any other media, especially in the story of sustainability. Some of my favorite companies were featured, like Maple Hill Creamery (you can see them in the dairy episode) and Epic Provisions, who are featured the “Story of Meat” here.
Rancher Will Harris and Taylor Collins from Epic Provisions talk about how they were connected through The Savory Institute

Rancher Will Harris and Taylor Collins from Epic Provisions talk about how they were connected through The Savory Institute

At the end of the conference, they revealed their Land to Market Program. The goal is to empower consumers to know which products are healing the environment as a result of how they were produced. This verification is outcome based, where farmers and ranchers have to scientifically demonstrate, with empirical data to back it up, that they are rebuilding broken ecosystems.
The panel of investors discuss long-term, slow-money goals instead of short sighted, quick returns

The panel of investors discuss long-term, “slow money” goals instead of short sighted, quick returns

I also had the chance to speak the following week at the the Agrarian Learning Center in Hudson, New York as part of the Savory Hub events. I was joined by Seth Itzkan, Co-founder and Co-director of Soil4Climate, Shannon Hayes, author of several books including my favorite Radical Homemakers, Dairy farmer Phyllis Van Amburgh, who runs dharma Lea, and the folks from Maple Hill Creamery. I gave a short presentation about the how we need to be eating more protein, less CAFO chicken, and stressed the nutritional importance of consuming meat and dairy sourced from holistically managed farms.

I can’t tell you how much I believe in the work of The Savory Institute and am thrilled to support The Land to Market Program. Some people are able to connect directly with their food producers but most are not. There’s currently no good way for consumers in traditional stores to discern how their meat was raised. There’s a big difference between well-managed meat and simply “grass-fed,” which could simply mean the animal was on the same, overgrazed paddock every day. I’m particularly excited about their verification for fiber and leather. It was eye opening to learn how many hands are involved in the supply chain, and how there’s currently no way to tell if your sweater or handbag is made from well-cared for animals.

It’s time we have the tools to make better decisions about our food and fiber products. It’s also time producers have access to consumers looking to pay a premium for better management practices.

 

The Land to Market Program will enable producers to gain access to new markets and premiums above commodity pricing, and will take the guesswork out of things for consumers, to allow them to connect with not only the products they believe in, but the people behind them as well. The goal is to celebrate the boots-on-the-ground, frontline soil-saviors while at the same time spotlight the countless working-class men and women who deeply desire to shop in a way that supports those folks.
This program won’t simply tweak a few things in how our food and clothing supply chains work, it will take a sledgehammer to them. The true cost of fast-food and fast-fashion are expended in unseen externalities to our local communities and our environment. There is rampant exploitation of our land, animals, and people, taking place on a global scale.

The best way to facilitate this change is to create a consumer demand through story telling and their verification process. This is why I fully support the Land to Market Program.

 

They’re running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo right now, and if they reach $30K from 50 different donors in the next few days, Indiegogo will promote their campaign to their entire mailing list and feature The Savory Institute on their homepage. I encourage you to support them in their efforts to bring food and fiber from producers who practice the gold standard of land management practices to consumers who are excited to buy them.


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Promises and Limitations of the “Personalized Care” Movement: Where We Are Now

Inline_Promises_and_Limitations_of_Personalized_MedicineSeveral years ago, I gave my take on the “personalized care” movement: the broad push to use a person’s genetic data to design optimal therapies, treatments, interventions, and pharmaceuticals. I was supportive and hesitantly optimistic, but I also acknowledged the limitations and drawbacks. Yes, genetics do determine how we respond to different therapies, and we can optimize medical care using the information—if we understand what our genes are saying and how they interact with the environment.

It’s only picked up steam. In last year’s State of the Union address, President Obama announced the Precision Medicine Initiative, pledging renewed efforts and funding to develop treatments tailored for an individual’s genetics, lifestyle, and environment. Businesses have sprung up promising to analyze your genetic data and create personalized workout routines, meal plans, and daily habits.

We’ve made big strides in personalized medicine.

We’re often able to fine-tune dosages of pharmaceuticals to avoid overdosing people with genetic sensitivities and under-dosing people with genetic resistance. It’s not exactly easy or fast, but it’s possible.

Researchers have identified genetic variants that increase statin-induced muscle damage. Doctors are choosing antidepressants based on a patient’s genetics (“pharmacogenomics”) and seeing a 53% improvement in reduction of depressive symptoms; they’re also using genetics to predict non-responding patients.

Since 2005, we’ve used genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify over 2000 “robust” associations between genetic variants and medical conditions and traits, many of which are predictive and medically useful.

Genetics determines how we react to different foods, nutrients, and exercising and feeding strategies. It can affect how much of each nutrient we need and how likely we are to become obeseWe know a fair amount about how recent ancestry impacts optimal diet, including folate requirements, carb tolerance, and dairy sensitivity. 

And because we contain far more microbial DNA than human DNA, analyzing the genomes of our gut biome could give us great insight into our immune, mental, and metabolic health.

There’s no “arrival.” There’s no perfect pinnacle of personalized medicine. It’s an uphill trudge with small wins and losses. There’s always something to learn and improve and overcome.

What are some current obstacles?

For one, there are very few “single genes.”

Most disorders and diseases (like cancer) are polygenic, not monogenic. Most traits (like height or cognition) are polygenic, not monogenic. Rarely will you find a perfect 1:1 match. This makes drawing actionable inferences from genetic data difficult. The more variables there are, the harder it is to discern the signal from the noise. `

Data is accurate. Analysis is lacking.

The genetic testing itself is very accurate. If you swab your cheek and send it off to 23andMe or DNAFit or Ancestry, the raw data is likely accurate. Where things break down is the interpretation of the data. When a blogger ordered genetic tests from several different companies, she got mixed results. The data was identical, but how each company interpreted the data differed substantially.

I’ve spoken glowingly of DNAFit in the past. And as far as the companies out there go, it’s probably the best one at analyzing the genetic data and providing actionable results. My own results matched what I’d experienced throughout my entire life of training and eating. And when the blogger notified DNAFit about some incongruities between their results and other companies’ results, they responded with a 2000 word justification of their interpretation of her data, complete with citations of the literature. The other companies either agreed to fix their mistakes or ignored her messages.

And, unfortunately, gut biome sequencing isn’t ready for prime time.

The gut biome is critical to our health. Sequencing and analyzing the members of a person’s gut biome could help us predict interactions with drugs and foods. It could give us a roadmap for feeding specific prebiotics, polyphenols, and other nutrients to target specific gut bugs. We’d know which probiotics to take to fill in any gaps. We could target baddies with the right antibiotics, rather than firebombing the entire gut. And we could compare our gut biomes to everyone else’s.

Unfortunately, popular testing services often differ in their results, and, assuming we have accurate results, they don’t tell us much about our health. We have rough associations between populations in the gut and some health conditions, but it’s not always consistent. Plus, we haven’t sequenced very many guts yet, so we’re flying blind.

The potential is clear. If we can identify all the genetic variants responsible for traits and untangle how they interact with environmental stimuli and lifestyle, we’ll have great control over our health and wellness. Throw in CRISPR, and things get even more interesting. We’re not quite there yet. There are lots of pieces, but they’re not in place.

It’s going to work though. Combining epigenetics, genetics, lifestyle, environment, the gut biome, ancestry, and high-powered technology will revolutionize medical care, nutrition, and fitness. I’m sure of it.

And as I’ve mentioned, personalized medicine is already viable in specific instances, like determining genetic drug tolerance and drug responsiveness, and identifying gene-disease associations. Is using your grandpa’s genetic data to determine his optimal coumadin dosage sexy or exciting? No, but it’s legit and utilitarian. And it proves that personalized medicine has a future.

But for now?

You’re still responsible for eating right, moving every day, playing as much as you can, lifting heavy things, getting out into nature, and all the rest. You can’t abrogate your agency. The promise of personalized medical care indistinguishable from magic at some future date doesn’t change that. No surprises there, of course.

I’m curious. Have you (or those you love) used aspects of personalized medicine? What’s been your experience? And whether or not you’ve had the opportunity to apply it to your own care, what’s your take on the personalized medicine picture—and emerging possibilities? Are you excited? Skeptical? Hopeful?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care.

The post Promises and Limitations of the “Personalized Care” Movement: Where We Are Now appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.



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The Definition Of Balance

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Healthy living bloggers love to talk about “balance.” How many times have you heard that “healthy living is about moderation and balance” or “a blog about balanced living” (wasn’t that my tagline at one point?) or “balance is the key to health”?

Balance is important. But what does it actually mean?

Generally we think:

  • A lot of kale, a little cake
  • A lot of running, a rest day
  • A lot of X healthy thing, a little of Y splurge thing

My definition of balance is this:

"Finding equilibrium between all of life's activities so that you feel good all of the time."

That goes for body and soul. All the feels.

Jess Lively talks a lot about flow a.k.a. “going with the flow and what feels right” in her podcasts. I think flow and feel go hand-in-hand. Perhaps feel is the physical version of flow. If you focus on how you feel, you won’t be pulled into one extreme or the other.

Exercise when you feel like it and because it feels good

If you are exercising for the wrong reasons and not focusing on how it makes your body feel, you will start to resent it and that can lead to burn out. This year I have been focusing on exercising because it feels good and my body craves it. If I’m not craving it, I find other ways to spend my time and the next day I have a great workout. Overall I am exercising for fewer hours then I used to, but when I am exercising my head is 100% there, and my body works hard.

Eat food that leaves you feeling energized

I might have ice cream for dinner once a year, but having it every night isn’t that appealing. Neither is eating fast food or way too much food. I know because I eat both healthy and unhealthy meals in my diet and the one makes me feel a lot better than the other. Sure, I could drink a bottle of wine every night but I wouldn’t feel good, so that temptation is tempered naturally by how I want to feel when I wake up in the morning. I “allow” myself to have a drink on most nights, yet I rarely drink too much anymore.

I think one of the best examples is to focus on how you feel at a holiday meal like Thanksgiving or when you are on vacation. I never, ever, ever want to wake up the next day feeling awful from too much food or drink. Sure it happens to the best of us, but when it comes to indulging, I have learned to stop before I am so full (or tipsy) that I feel sick.

Happiness is more important than vanity

The older I get the less I care about how good I look in a bikini and the more I care about the quality of my everyday life. Who is judging my body anyways? Most people don’t care. So long as my doctor thinks I am healthy and I feel good in my clothes, I’d rather enjoy a little butter on my toast and a big glass of wine on a Friday night. That’s not to say that health and nutrition aren’t super important – they are. But balance to me in the intersection between respecting your body and embracing the social, cultural, and culinary joys of life.

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When you focus on feeling good, your body and soul balance.

 



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