Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stop sign.

I have to apologize. I think I'm going to need to take another week off blogging.

Life is crazy and I need to get out there and LIVE it. I also need a nap. And to do laundry. What's a girl to do?

Also, you know you'll be the first people I tell when I get back.

Take care!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life got in the way

I'm alive! I didn't mean to leave you on such a low note, but I promise life moved on and I'm back at it. Thank you for all of your wonderful supportive comments. I really needed them and you came to my rescue.

I want to catch you all up on everything, but tonight is my first night to just stop and breathe, so I think I'll just give you the highlights and come back with a better post soon.

In the past week, this is what I've been up to:

1) Last week from Sunday to Friday = 73 hour work week.

2) Went to St. Louis and celebrated my friend's 40th bday! (recap soon!)

3) Submitting two papers for publication in major scientific journals (yay!)

4) Running, Swimming, weightlifting, Zumba.

5) Missing reading blogs. I have 80 unread posts in my Google reader!

6) Not doing laundry, cooking, or cleaning. My house is a mess. I just loaded my dishwasher for the third time, and if I weren't doing laundry RIGHT now, I would not be wearing clean clothes to work tomorrow.

7) Applying for my first REAL JOB. I applied for a faculty position at a college. Can't give you any details, but when I hear about the outcome, you know you'll hear too!

8) I slept! After a few months of quietly dealing with some terrible insomnia, I went to the doctor and now I'm sleeping again. 

9) Eating leftovers. In fact, I left you with a teaser last time we talked.

So, without further ado...the bulk dishes I made last week, with their accompanying clues.

One is vegan for me and covered in a blanket of cheese for him.

Black bean and sweet potato enchiladas. Half covered in cheese, half left cheeseless. We keep a big tray of them and eat them topped with lettuce, tomato, salsa, onion, and avocado.

I've modified a delicious pizza recipe I've told you about into a casserole.

Polenta pizza casserole. Like a deep dish pizza, but with more fiber and protein and less fat. This was so delicious that it had us literally making those yummmm and hmmmm noises that they always show in cartoons. Plus, it was LOADED with veggies.

The third dish contains an ingredient I don't really like and never cook with. Any guesses?

 It's not broccoli (c'mon you KNOW that if you read this blog). It's bacon! This is broccoli salad with bacon, raisins, sunflower seeds, red onion and poppyseed dressing. It's based on something that the local grocery deli makes and it's really delicious. I've done it without the bacon, and I've found it really needs that flavor, even though I don't like bacon at all.

Ok. I have to get going and get some rest. I'll be back and give you more details and FINALLY get to that metabolism post! Sorry for the delay.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oh, Science. What is wrong with you? (and giveaway winner)

This post is a downer, but there are recipes and the giveaway winner at the end. You can skip to that part if you like. 

Today was a rough one. Academic politics gone wrong. It reinforces in my mind some of the problems with academic science - the politics, the power-plays, the use and misuse of funds, the hierarchy of importance and seniority, the expectation of neverending workload. In my position (I'm considered a postdoctoral associate, meaning someone with a Ph.D who does research and is presumably on their way to another job), there are limitless amounts of hours I could be at work or working on work. I estimate that I work 50+ hours most weeks, and of course more when it is necessary - like when there is an important deadline. However, it's become more and more obvious that theoretically no time is my own. I own my laptop, yet any scientific minded work I do outside of work may be considered my boss's property. Anything I develope or test in the lab, even if my boss doesn't know about it, can be considered my boss's property. Any time I spend on hobbies like this blog could be considered time my boss should be reimbursed for, even though I NEVER blog at work. Even on the weekends. And I never blog about the subject matter I work on. I'm sure a dozen of you are wondering if I got in trouble today for something like not working enough or doing something I shouldn't have been doing while I was there. The answer is no. It's more complicated than that, but the events of today did make me realize that the idea of ownership permeates my job, and as previously understood, I really have no rights. Oh, did I tell you it's National Postdoc Appreciation Week? No joke. Yay, all of us.

There is some hope in this somewhere. My boss is actually very fair. I've developed quite a few ideas in his lab, and he has indicated I can take some of that research with me when I go. Now, nothing is written down, so he can decide that he doesn't want to give things up in the future, but I don't think that will happen. Postdocs have had to fight much harder for respect and recognition than I ever will. Minor changes in policy are actually occuring. The California State colleges and universities just recognized the first Postdoc Union, but it took a hearing with the state congress to get that done. There is a link here.

The jist of the article is that the postdocs wanted fair wages - the National Institutes of Health minimums which start at ~$37,000 and range to about $52,000 for 7+ years post-Ph.D experience (link here) - not much for 7+ years of postsecondary education in a critical field, eh? Anyway, they also are getting uniform health care, regular raises akin to the ones staff get, and protections against job loss (i.e. 1 month severance). The new wage minimums seem nice until you consider that in this recent survey, it's only $384.00 more than the average liberal arts bachelor's degree holding worker's starting salary. And then you think about how they were allowed to be paid even less than that prior to this agreement.

In the congressional hearing regarding the Californian postdoctoral union, George Miller (D-CA) made some very poignant observations regarding the policies used for postdoctoral associates. He basically states that he always thought the shortage of talent going into science was because we couldn't recruit people there, not because we treated them so badly they turn to another career. Article here.

So that said, I'm pretty down tonight. Therefore the lack of pictures or fun discussion about science-themed topics. So many of my friends have gotten fed up and left this field, and I keep telling myself that if I keep it up, if I keep my head high and keep doing what is right for the students and for the science, that someday I will have enough power to change some policies or stand up to the people misusing the time and energy of others. Because, if I quit, who will be the force of good in science?



The Giveaway winner is Julie. Please e-mail me at thehealthydoc at gmail dot com and I'll get your address and details. The bread is in my freezer and ready to go ASAP.

The recipes for the breads, if you would like to use them, are here. Please enjoy.

Caramel Apple Bread

Bread base: 
1.5 c flour (1/2 wheat, 1/2 white works well)
1.5 tsp bk soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
1/2 c applesauce (unsweetened)
1/2 c sugar
1 egg + 1 egg white
3/4c milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp vanilla

Apple mixture: 
1 apple, peeled, cored, diced
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
Granola topping:
1/2 c rolled oats
1/2 c almond pieces (crushed raw almonds works)
1/4 c butter or equivalent
1/4 c sugar
splash vanilla
dash cinnamon + cloves

Directions: Mix dry ingredients including spices well so spices are evenly distributed. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients well and then combine. On the stove-top, heat apple mixture until a caramel color appears (like the apples are in a caramel sauce). Allow mixture to cool for 5 minutes, then mix with bread dough and transfer to greased, floured bread pan(s). For the granola topping, heat butter and sugar together and add in remaining ingredients. Cook 1-5 minutes, then set aside for the topping. If using miniloafs, the granola topping can be applied immediately. If using large loaf pan, cook 15-20 minutes and then top with granola topping. Cook an additional 20 minutes. 

Oven temp: 350
Makes 3 mini loaves or 1 large loaf. 

1.5 c white flour
1 c wheat flour
2 tsp gr. ginger
2 tsp gr. cinnamon
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 c molasses 
1/2 c pumpkin puree, strained
1/2 c sugar
2 egg whites
1 tbsp oil

Mix dry ingredients well to promote even mixing of spices. In seperate bowl, mix wet ingredients, then combine. The dough will be quite thick. You may add 1/4-1/2 c water or milk to loosen it if you like. Transfer to greased, floured bread pans and bake 30-40 minutes. Top immediately with powdered sugar if you like. 

Oven temp: 350
Makes 3 miniloaves or 1 large loaf

Pumpkin Custard Bread
3/4 c white flour
3/4 c wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c pumpkin
1 tbsp oil
1/2 c sugar
1 egg + 1 egg white
1/2 c milk or water
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract

** Note: If you like a sweeter bread, you may want to increase the sugar to 1 cup. This bread is like cornbread - not super sweet **

Mix dry ingredients well, in a seperate bowl mix wet ingredients. Combine and pour into bread pans, bake 20-30 minutes. 

Oven: 350
Makes 3 miniloaves or 1 big loaf.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Your Lucky Day

It's a truly disgusting day in Iowa...cold, dreary, and wet. The fiance and I slept in. I moved my run to tonight, and now I'm sharing the couch and blanket with my kittens and some tea.

Since I'm such a debbie downer, you're probably wondering what all this could possibly have to do with it being your lucky's your hint.

And you'll have to read all the way to the end for the explaination!


Don't worry, it's pretty quick. My plan of going back to a few main dishes to feed me through the week worked really well. I made Chipotle Turkey Chili, Pasta Salad, Autumn Soup, and Cheesy Cauliflower. I only supplemented with some barbeque tofu during the week, which is really fast to make.
 Terribly messy picture of BBQ tofu, harvest soup, and cheesy cauliflower.
Much more vibrant pic of a tofu sandwich with onion, banana pepper, mustard. More pasta salad, and some broccoli.

That said, there were a couple days of ridiculous eating, but it was a choice. I went out to lunch with girls from work early in the week. We went to Vesuvius, a brick oven pizza joint focusing on local and sustainable foods. It's sooooo good.

Sorry for the crackberry pizza was roasted veggie.

On Thursday, I had a weight lifting class immediately followed by a hot date after work, so I ate a bar and apple with PB before the class, showered, and ate movie theatre popcorn while watching Resident Evil: Afterlife. It was good. The 3-D was important to the movie. Without the 3-D, it would've been my least favorite of the series. Yes, I'm a super nerd. Get over it.

We're getting into the last leg of produce season in Iowa. My porch tomato and pepper plants are spitting out their final offerings.

So, on Saturday morning, Missie, her baby Ethan, and I drove to a neighboring town to check out the huge farmer's market that they have.
The highlights:

On this trip, Ethan learned that pumpkins have a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. And he REALLY likes pears.

The fiance thought I'd come home with the whole market, but I kept my purchases to a minimum. I bought some locally made marble rye bread because it's delicious and hard to find. No HFCS in it either! I also got some peaches, grape tomatoes, italian roasting peppers, enough jalapenos to freeze and keep for a whole year (do it! it works for everything!) for exactly $1 (take that, december pepper prices!), and an acorn squash.

Finally, I couldn't resist a treat. This market had a zillion food vendors with bbq, pizza, meats, cheeses, pastries, everything. Missie got some perogies (how were they!?) and I got 6 decadent cupcakes.
That was cookies & cream right before it hit my mouth. I also got a strawberry creme, caramel apple, and PBchocolate. The fiance and I are splitting them 50/50. Missie got to take two home as well. I can say that it was delicious and a great treat, but I kind of like homemade ones better. It wasn't special enough, ya know!?

So for the rest of today, I have to swing into work again for a couple hours, go for a long, wet, dreary run (oh, yaaaayyyyyy :( ) and the fiance and I are going to finish cooking this week's bulk meals. I just sampled one and it is deeeelicious. I can give you some clues:

1) One is vegan for me and covered in a blanket of cheese for him.
2) I've modified a delicious pizza recipe I've told you about into a casserole.
3) The third dish contains an ingredient I don't really like and never cook with. Any guesses?

I'll have a post detailing the eats and another one for the metabolism series up this week.

So how is this dreary Sunday going to be your lucky day. Well, on Tuesday Tina at CarrotsNCake had a blogger bake sale to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma society that she and her husband are running their first marathon for. The bake sale was an amazing success, they made almost $2400 when it was over. I have been reading Tina's blog almost since its inception, and I have a lot of respect for her as a real woman, so I donated an item to her bake sale. It sold for an amazingly generous $50.00 to Shannon at The Daily Balance.

Here's the description:

Fall is my favorite season, so here are three autumn-inspired quickbreads for a treat or snack. All are low-fat, low-sugar, and high-fiber recipes and are made using all-natural ingredients. The three flavors are Pumpkin Custard, Gingerbread with powdered sugar topping, and Caramel Apple with granola topping. All contain eggs, dairy, and wheat. Caramel Apple contains almonds. Recipes and calorie/nutritional breakdown estimates are available upon request.

Because they are mini loaves, I have some extras to give away to one lucky reader.

If you'd like a set of the mini loaves, leave me a comment in the comments section telling me your favorite season and why. 

You can also post about it on your own blog and link back to me (please leave a comment if you do this so I'm sure to catch it) or post about it on facebook if you're my facebook friend. 

I'll pick a winner on Tuesday night at 5pm and they'll go in the mail Wednesday. READY-SET-Go!

Now, if you are related to me, getting married to me, or think you are Mary Tyler Moore you  are exempt from this giveaway because you'll be getting your own goodies from me soon. Love you!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jill's First Triathlon!

On Sunday morning, I competed in a local sprint triathlon, but instead of telling you my boring stories all over again, I thought I'd do it through the eyes of Jill, my work friend. This was her VERY FIRST triathlon, and she only started swimming at the beginning of the summer!

Jill is up for anything, and she seems to be very much of the attitude that trying anything once won't kill her. Last January she decided she wanted to run a half marathon in May...and she did it! This summer she jumped on the bandwagon of triathlons.

The packet pickup was on Saturday night at the park where the race would be located. Jill drove down, and her boyfriend Brian came too.

I chaperoned from the backseat (no fighting! keep your hands to yourself! jk!)
Of course, road construction threw a wrench in the plans, but we re-routed and got there eventually. We picked up our packets and got back on the road.

Saturday morning, I drove us down to the park with our bikes.

We set up our transition area.. The ground was wet, so I shared my old pink towel. Little did I know it would so completely complement Jill's ultra pink racing scheme.

Yep, that's her pink bike, running shirt, goggles, and swim cap. On the pink towel. Did I mention pink makes me want to puke?
We donned our noob caps and lined up for the start.

The swim was in a yucky, cold lake...and I forgot how viciously competitive sprint tris are! We had to swim 500m (1/3 mile or so) and the water temp was 68 degrees. It was actually so chilly and fast that my muscles felt super tight and we had trouble keeping a good stroke. That, and all the ladies who were kicking and swimming over us!
Jill emerged from the water victorious 12.5 minutes later!
She got right down to getting her clothes on and starting the bike leg of the tri. Now, the bike was 14.4 miles of gently rolling country highway out-and-back. Going out, we were speeding along, it wasn't too bad. The hills didn't slow you don't more than a couple MPH. Then the turnaround came. And the WIND was AWFUL. Wow. It killed us both. But Jill endured long enough to finish and move on to the run.

Now, it was coming up around noon by this time because this race starts later than most. And it was sunny, kind of hot, and definitely windy. The run was a little brutal, but was miraculously flat and there were lots of opportunities to see people around you. Jill did a great job of pacing herself, and soon enough she trampled across the finish line announcing exactly what she was going to do differently next time. She's a trooper!

There's Jill and our photographer Brian (thanks Brian!)!

Now she's finishing her training for the Des Moines 1/2 marathon...and planning for her next triathlon season! Go Jill!


And, as a very last note, I also did the race. The bike leg was indeed brutal. I did 7.5 miles in 20 minutes...and the remaining 7 miles took over 30 minutes. Otherwise, I did a good job of pushing myself and finished feeling just fine. I actually walked the course back to where Jill was and ran in again with her. I hadn't been training for speed this summer, so it wasn't my fastest race, but I certainly feel good about it.

Also, thanks to the race organizers for a great race!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's FALL!

Ah, my favorite season...the cooler weather, the beautiful leaves, the start of classes...the unbelieveable stress! I'm not even taking classes this year, but I feel my workload has tripled in the last few weeks!

My usual eating habits went out the window, and I started turning to my vices...not enough sleep, exercise, or hydration and too much of all of these:

Chocolate...and wine.


And more wine...

 Carbs.....way too many carbs. 

I ate restaurant and prepackaged foods way too often...

And of a bazillion starbucks trips (but hey - pumpkin spice lattes are back!)

It's not like I suddenly started binge eating junk food, but I definitely incorporated way too many treats into my life than I need...or even want. A treat loses its value when you eat it too much! Last year, which was my busiest year ever, I started cooking things in bulk on the weekends, saving some in the freezer, and keeping large tubs to mix & match for meals over the course of the week. I was stubbornly optomistic that those days were behind me, but let me tell you, 10 hour days on little sleep require readily available healthy food or you'll find me at the Mongolian Buffet...again. 

With that in mind...I turned this: 

Into a delicious pasta salad that we can eat all week.
I chopped all the veggies into bite sized pieces and tossed them with olive oil, herbs, and S&P. I laid them out on cookie sheets. The hearty veggies can do all over the place...

But the mushrooms and tomatoes cook too fast and I do them seperately...
(Look at those COLORS!) 
When they are done, they look like this: 

And I toss them and all their juices into a big bowl, top it with cooked orzo pasta (or any other small pasta)...

And stir it the end I add in a handful of fresh basil, since all the herbs give up their essential oils during the cooking process...

AND EAT! I leave the cheese out because sometimes I don't want cheese. Sometimes I do, and feta makes a great topper. 
I'm sure you'll see this 3-ways-from-Sunday on the next food post. 

Well, I used this general principal of bulk cooking, and paired with some of last week's leftovers I made some decent meals: 

Beans, rice, broccoli, cheese, salsa. Yum. 

Salad topped with beets + bleu cheese, lentil loaf, sauce. 
More lentil loaf, microwaved on a bed of spinach. Sorry for the super-sloppy pic! 

          Monster Salads...

Autumn Soup. It contains carrot, onion, sweet potato, apple, and spices. It's not perfect yet, but when I perfect the recipe, you'll see it with a recipe. 

THIS, however, was AMAZING. Turkey Chipotle Chili on top of cheezy cauliflower. 

Chipotle Turkey Chili
1 lb ground turkey
1 onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can white beans, rinsed
2 chipotle chilis + 2 tbsp adobo sauce
1/4 c chili powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp oregano
2 tsp salt + more to taste
1 tomato sauce (8 oz)
1 tomato paste (4 oz)
1 can diced tomatoes
Saute turkey with onions and garlic until browned. Add in spices and cook 1-2 minutes. Add in tomato products, and one can of water. Bring to boil, add in chipotles and adobo sauce. Reduce to simmer, cook for 1-2 hours or until liquid is reduced partially. 

I was craving some cheesey chili, so instead of having a stomachache because I chose to eat a chili cheese sandwich or queso with it, I made cheesey cauliflower and topped it with some chili. OMG. So good. You have to try this! 

Finally, I have been making more time in the morning to actually enjoy my breakfasts. It makes me calmed when I get into work, and I have some time to catch up on my scientific reading. Some of the breakfasts: 

Yogurt mess with fruit and oats. 

Oatmeal with peaches, cinnamon, almond butter, and vanilla. 

Whole wheat waffles with peaches, cinnamon, vanilla, almond butter sauce. 

Finally, I have been slacking, but I got some exercise in: 

Eating Requires Activity (ERA): Saturday 7.5 mile run, Sunday Sprint Tri + 1.5 mile run/walk, Monday, 4.75 mile speedwork, 15 min yoga, Tuesday 30 min walk, 20 min yoga. 

Stay tuned because later this week I'll do a recap on my work friend's FIRST triathlon (oooooooo!), another metabolism post, and with the next food post will be an awesome giveaway! I think you'll like it! 

Are you celebrating the beginning of fall or lamenting the lost days of summer? Please comment!