Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Goals Recap 6

My last recap was terrible, and this one isn't about to get much better. I am going to admit something that is really hard for me to admit. I might have been...overtraining.

As far as overtraining goes, it's not that what I was trying to do wasn't's that it isn't possible with everything else I'm trying to do this summer. I can physically work out 1-2 hours per day 5x per week. I cannot do that while:
working on a variety of research projects
planning for my transition into my own lab this fall
assembling materials for a course in the fall
planning and executing a move to another state
trying to keep track of a student intern
managing the lab in my boss's absence
being under financial strain of saving for moving, paying double rent, and bridging the gap between incomes

I'm not complaing about my life in the least. I have many great things going on. I do think I bit off more than I could handle for exercise. 

So, my sixth summer goals recap is one of defeat, but it's also one of appreciation. Without these goals, I undoubtedly wouldn't be as fit as I am right now. I wouldn't be able to run whenever I want with ease. I wouldn't be working out as much as I am. They are definitely keeping me accountable, and for the most part, I'm definitely still trying. 

1) Run 60 miles per month. July total to date: 43 miles. 
2) Bike up to 50 miles: I actually got to 45 so far. I think this one is possible...but I haven't been working on it in the heatwave.

3) Swimming has happened 3x. I bet I get to 4x, but that's all I can imagine at this point. Swimming won't happen very much in August because I won't have a gym membership right away in my new town. 

4) Pushups have been abandoned...after the crazy chest muscle scare, I tried one more time, but I have something strange going on there. The fiance suggested that I'm actually dislocating my collarbone and it might be because it never healed correctly after an old bike accident. Once I have better medical insurance (the one I have thru the university now is pretty craptastic, but better than nothing), I'll probably go get it checked out. 

So that's it. Not very inspiring this week. 

How are your summer exercise programs treating you?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Numbers Game

Hoping to get in a few more posts this week...but in the meantime you can read some of my recent highlights...

2: The number of grey hairs this last year has incurred in my head. Previously I had 0, so I am very upset by this. 

2.5: Weeks I was sick with some undetermined virus. I have just regained the ability to run without having my lymph nodes swell and my fever return.

3: The number of scientists it takes to get an overstuffed full-length couch through a standard screen door. This weekend I learned that if that couch can go through that door, anything is possible. 

3: Also the number of times I have been directly asked by random citizens of my new town if I am a student at my University...which is followed directly by them directly stating that I don't look old enough to be faculty. In their defense, I've always been moving or in the process of moving and wearing gym clothes and no makeup.

4: The number of days until my current boss returns, takes back control of his own lab, and releases me to be my own boss. This cannot come quickly enough. 

5: The number of days until my summer student is done. She finished her research paper, and this week she has to purify her last protein, make a poster, and do her oral and poster presentations. Busy busy!

6: The number of freezer boxes I think I'll be bringing with me from my old job to my new job. Isn't it crazy that an entire research program fits in 6 4x4x1 boxes?

7: The number of days that I could not stomach the idea of alcohol after my going-away party. Thanks for coming out everyone!

8:  The number of miles I'm going to attempt to run on a treadmill this afternoon. Why a treadmill? See the next number.

9: The number of days in a row that the temperature has been godawful and made it both painful and dangerous to run outside.

16: Weekdays left on my contract....7: The number of days I'll actually work if the world doesn't end up exploding. Yes, I negotiated this prior to the contract.

21: The number of days the government in my new (and old) home state was suspended due to political deadlock. Also the number of days that I didn't know if I'd be able to start my job in August.

40: The number of miles to the nearest Trader Joe's from my new place. This is still closer than it was in Iowa.

66: The number of unread items in my Google Reader. Gotta get reading!

What do your numbers look like this week?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Please help?

Hi everyone! Hope your weekend is glorious. I had a going-away-party last night and am still recovering (locals, keep the snickering to yourselves ;)).

(Crazy oven-mitt dance)

So, I have a favor to ask. I know many of you know that the coming weeks are going to be crazy in my neck of the woods...I'm hoping to blog 1x per week, but in the interest of entertainment and broadening exposure, I'm looking for a couple guest bloggers? Anyone interested?

I am open to all kinds of content from all kinds of bloggers. 

If you don't have a blog, but you still want to say something, this is the venue for you!

If you have a local business and want to reach out to people near-and-far, maybe a blog entry would help? I reliably get 2000 hits per month, and I'd love to share audiences. 

If you are into some awesome exercise craze, please tell us about it!

If you have a great recipe to share, please, make me drool! 

So, I'm officially looking for help starting this week and going through August 15th. If you are interested and want to throw together a blog entry, please send me an e-mail with the content (pictures ok too) at thehealthydoc (at) gmail (dot) com.

Ok, look for a couple fun and scientific posts coming up. Emily requested a brain-food blog, so what are your favorite brain foods? Gingko? Blueberries? Pomegranite? Wine? What else...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I am having a little writers block for my midweek post, so I guess you get tidbits of how life is going this week...

1) I'm now kind of healthy again. I am tired of whining about my energy and general health on the blog, so let's suffice it to say that I was sick, ran a 5k sick, made myself worse, and am now solidly on my way to feeling better. I hope.

2) It's been a good week for achievements - my first undergraduate student, Emily, got her Master's degree. Jill, my first graduate student, got a job. My friend Andrew, got a new job, complete with a raise. We are all #Winning! 

3) Waiting at a train crossing on your bicycle makes you a lot more self-aware and kind of paranoid about people watching you...

4) How long do you think I can go without a haircut or color? This pic is from 2-3 weekends ago, and after a severe amount of frizzy.

5) An interesting trend: since we stopped buying pantry and freezer staples in preparation for our move, we are now eating a lot more vegetables and fruits...last week we went through 1 1lb tub of spinach, a honeydew melon, 2.5 lbs of strawberries, a pineapple, three bell peppers, a pint of grape tomatoes, a yellow squash, at least 5 bananas, and several carrots. I think we're avoiding eating the food we should be eating in the pantry!

6) I was supposed to run today, but I've decided to take it rest-up for my last 'night on the town' in Iowa on Friday. Locals: I'm pub-crawling downtown Ames starting at Olde Main in the pub at 6pm!

What have you been up to this week?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Local Flax-fed beef

A few weeks ago (ok, almost 2 months ago! eek! This post has been a long time coming!), I had the pleasure and privilege of meeting some amazing people at the Des Moines area farmer's market. These people run a grass-fed, flax-fed, hormone-free cattle company and are passionate about making healthier alternatives to commercial beef products.

Honestly, I didn't know about this company until I stumbled upon it, largely due to the fiance's almost magnetic attraction to any kind of beef stick EVER. I was actually at the next booth over trying to acquire some organic tomatoes when he excitedly called me over and started telling me about the flax-fed beef company.
Meet Peter Woltz, who was very friendly and excited to tell us about his products. I missed the name of the lovely lady in the picture, but I assure you that she was equally friendly and knowledgeable :)

These two own and represent Timber Ridge Cattle, which is located in Osceola, IA. They have a passion for creating healthy beef products, and they take the science of nutrition very seriously (people after my own heart!).
Their journey began when they acquired a commercial cattle feed-lot, with corn-fed beef and an aggressive antibiotic regimen. They immediately knew that this was not the way they wanted to run their cattle company, as the cows were often sick and very unhappy. The meat quality was also sub-par, and they knew that they could make a better product.

They were introduced to some interesting scientific literature indicating that grass and flax fed beef had a larger percentage of omega-3 fats, a better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats, and an overall lower saturated fat profile than their corn-fed counterparts. I've done a little bit of research, and I think that this is the paper they were reading: Flax-fed beef study. 

This is just one of several studies that indicate that what we feed out livestock strongly effects the nutritional output of their meat products. In fact, a recent very nice review on the topic can be found here: Fatty-acid profile of grass-fed vs. grain-fed beef.  Importantly, feeding oilseeds like flax results in amazing health benefits, but the addition of omega-3's and monounsaturated fatty acids doesn't quite get the same beneficial outputs, which indicates that we don't quite understand how or why fatty acid metabolism works in animals. I like to refer to this as the 'Wonderbread Conundrum', which refers to the inability of fortified foods like Wonderbread to completely meet our nutritional needs. This is why I am a fan of a varied, whole foods diet rather than a stringent diet that requires supplements. We just don't know enough about nutrition and bio availability at this point. This is also why we should support academic science.

In fact, the Timber Ridge Cattle Company works closely with the Food Science and Human Nutrition at nearby Iowa State University to monitor the nutritional profile of their cattle. Recent results indicate that their flax-fed beef have 500% increase in omega-3's, a 3-1 omega-6 to omega-3 output ratio, and 20% less saturated fats than traditionally farmed beef. They are continuing to monitor their cattle, and they are working to find ways to make the flax even more bioavailable to their cattle, thus improving the nutritional output even more.

They market their product as a smoked beef product to further preserve the omega-3 content. Also, because of the unsaturated nature of the beneficial fatty acids, they are worried about side reactions that may occur upon high-heat cooking, rendering the fats partially hydrogenated or isomerized to those pesky trans-fats. How does it taste? Amazing. We bought a beef stick to take home and it was honestly the best beef stick that I've tasted. I'm very picky, and I usually find summer sausage-type foods too fatty or greasy, but this product had the robust flavor of summer sausage without the grease.

They were also nice enough to provide nutritional information, which I've taken the liberty to compare against traditional beef summer sausage at I'm actually really, really impressed with the difference that a flax- and grass-fed cow has over a traditional corn-fed cow:
(all numbers are in grams unless noted otherwise)

Wow, I mean that's almost a 30% difference in calories, it's a solid 30% difference in saturated fat AND the flax- and grass-fed beef contains more protein. That, my friends, is science at work ;)

So, as a final statement, I just wanted to say that I was totally impressed with this company, their dedication to making a fantastic beef product, and their interest in the science behind farming healthier, more nutritionally dense cattle. If you want to get your hands on some, locals can visit the Des Moines downtown farmer's market, or you can visit their website where they will ship you some goodies of your choosing: Timber Ridge Cattle Co.

Disclaimer: This highlight and review was completely of my own accord and I have received no compensation (other than the free samples offered to anyone who stops by their booth) for my opinions and advertisement. I purchased one 8-oz Jalapeno Summer Sausage with my own money, and it was delicious.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I just got my password for my e-mail at my new job. I don't start until August 15.

After the tech support girl told me, flat out, that I sounded too young to be faculty, but eventually found someone who could get me a password, I checked my e-mail.

64 new messages.

I have a month before I start that job. One month +.

I felt the slight fluttering of a heart attack.

What have I gotten myself into!?!?!?!

Chocolate PB Swirl Cake

If you've only been reading this blog for a few months, you would swear that all I do is eat things like Bananas Foster French Toast, Basil Pesto, and Crispy Almond Cookies. You would swear I never ate a salad, since I haven't posted about one in a while.

You'd be wrong. I just don't believe in posting the same three meals (beans + rice + veg + salsa, egg burritos, and pizzalads) over and over and over again. I think you'd get bored, I'd get bored. Everyone gets bored.

Really, the focus of my diet is to maximize fresh fruits and vegetables. Every day for breakfast, I include at least 1 cup of fruit. For lunch, I have a plastic baggie of fruit and a plastic baggie of veggies (or just a big salad), and then some kind of mixed dinner (like pasta with a veggie based sauce, or a sandwich loaded with lettuce, tomato, and fruit on the side).

 And every day includes something sweet. Like chocolate cake.
With an impending move, I've been trying to eat only things from the pantry. I don't want to have to buy ANY pantry staples, and I don't want to move any of them either. The answer is to eat them. I solidly have enough flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, sugars, and flavorings to make several sweet treats before July 22.

This week was a chocolate cake. From scratch. With no recipe to go by. Pantry items to use up:

1 box jell-o pudding mix (Sugar Free)
dutch cocoa powder
the bottom of a jar of peanut butter
1/2 a bag of mini chocolate chips

The recipe:
1 box jello sugar-free chocolate pudding
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c cocoa powder
1.5 c white flour
1 c sugar or sugar substitute (we have splenda, so I used 1/2 sugar, 1/2 splenda)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 c mini chocolate chips
1 c milk or water
1/2 c oil
1/2 c PB
2-3 tbsp milk

Mix dry ingredients in bowl including jello powder. Mix wet ingredients in seperate bowl and combine. Dough should be moist but not gummy. Transfer into 2 9x9 pans or 1 9x13 pan to make 1 inch high dough in pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. In microwave, melt PB and milk until runny. Spoon into several places on top of cake mixture, and use a knife to slice through the PB and cake to create swirls.

Bake at 350 30-40 minutes.

The cake is perfectly moist and fudgey, with a slight hint of peanut butter.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Dear Minnesota: This is how I spent my weekend

In Iowa.
When I was supposed to be visiting my new home again:
But then the Minnesota governor and legislature failed to work out a budget deal. I mean, they've only known this was coming since January....(grr!) and all state services, including state parks, were shut down until they come to some sort of budget solution.

Tsk tsk tsk Minnesota, I am NOT pleased with you. So, instead I spent my weekend in Iowa. No sales tax or fees from me for you!

Friday night BBQ with my favorite 1.5 year old and other friends... a little bit, but mostly practice my laze skills. Oh! And I updated my blog  - actually I've been working on it for a few weeks - but I finalized changes. Pages to check out:
(Mysterious loss of pictures lead to new pictures. I plan to write a brand new one if and when this blog survives my first year of professor-dom)

Recipe Posts
All of the recipes from this blog are now posted and organized. Entrees are denoted by vegetarian/vegan (chili pepper), seafood (fish icon), or land-animal (barn icon) for easy browsing. AND if you're just looking for inspiration, pictures are posted with their accompanying recipes in lovely little montages like the one above. Hope it's more navigable!

How Food Works
Updated to the most recent posts about how food is made, how we use it, and medicinal value of food products.

I also updated my blogroll, which is on the right panel of this blog. If you don't see your blog there, but would like some free advertising, please leave a comment. I'm always happy to hear about new blogs! Conversely, if you read this blog and enjoy it, could you add me to your blogrolls? Thanks!

Ok, back to the weekend activities. I got in a run on Saturday night, but it was the most recent in a series of terrible workouts. My friend Mandy suggested that maybe I'm not getting enough restful sleep to support my level of exercise, because I'm seriously sore and tired 80% of the time. I thought I was just lazy, but maybe there is something to it. I do feel better after a nap or after a couple days off...hmmm. 

I also spent some time cleaning and organizing. I packed up some stuff we don't use too often. Lamps, decorations, shoes. 

Laundry. I don't mind doing the laundry...but I royally hate putting it away. In fact, usually I just wait until I need to do laundry again to put away the last load. Anyone out there with me on this one?

 Obviously, I was moving too slowly on this one and the fiance decided a nap was in order NOTHING was getting in his way (They are clean laundry, before you get grossed out!).

I also did some cooking for the week, but you'll have to check back for the recipe! 

Finally, I got in a bicycle ride. I did have plans to meet up with a friend in Des Moines to ride on one of the trails, but his schedule didn't jive with mine - I needed to run as well and for me, a run in the AM is easier than a post-bike run in the hot PM. So, like any other independent woman, I went out for my own ride.  I tried a new route and actually got lost, but that was a blessing in disguise because I found a town with a park and a water fountain. Key to a long bike ride on a hot, sunny afternoon.

Eeeee! Do you see that number? That is my longest bike ride ever!
I got home in just under 3 hours, which included two rest stops (one of which might have been spent consulting my map...) and riding through 3 towns. Overall, I'm really happy with that ride :) 

I also got just a little bit of my lesson plans done for the fall. I'm now solidly working on Lecture II! 

(Disclaimer:  This is the first class. The equations are meant to be a little in 'Have you ever thought about the chemical reactions that must happen in order for a plant to live?' but not to be memorized. I'm hardcore, but not a total jerk ;) )

So, despite not getting to do what I wanted to do (go to Minnesota), I had a lovely weekend. Now, if they can just fix this budget crisis by the time I move there later this month! 

Now I'm starting the week off right, taking my little car in for an oil change and new brake pads. I don't plan to drive her much until I move, but then it'll probably be close to 1500 miles in two weeks...gotta get her prepared for that strenuous gas-guzzling activity! 

Ok friends. I hope you had a lovely weekend. Was anyone else waylaid from their original plans?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer Goals Recap 5

 Missed the first few installments in this series? Check them out:

June was a doozy. I feel like I started off great, and then everything started to go wrong. Everything!
 I had two flat tires in 20 miles of each other.

I missed a triathlon and had to take a week off swimming due to weird musculo-skeletal pain my chest.

  And something about the way I have my workouts structured isn't jiving with my life/work schedule. I am always supposed to do a mid-length run on Thursdays. As you can see, I only got it done 1x this month. I think I'm going to have to change it up next month and maybe have heavy workout days Sat-Sun, Tue-Wed, and save Fri for moderate things like swim/stretch/easy cardio.

Ok, so I suppose you want to know exactly how bad it was:

Goal 1: 64.6 miles. I just squeaked in over the goal of 60. I can't keep skipping my mid-length run. I need to figure this out!

Goal 2: Don't even start with me on this one. I tried! I really tried! I was well on pace for a 38 mile ride, but then I popped a tire. Grrr. Tubes and tires have been replaced and I have plans for several bike rides before I leave Iowa. I need to accomplish this goal. I'm so close !

Goal 3: Again, I was totally on track until that chest pain. Oh well. Three times. Which, honestly is three times more than I would swim without trying to reach this goal. I hate going to swim, but I like swimming and I love how my body looks from swimming!

Goal 4: Bah. Fail.

Mileage totals for the month: 
Swim: 4600 meters (+200 meters from May)
Bike: 178.4 miles (+13.4 from May)
Run: 64.6 (-7.9 from May)
Yoga: 3 hour-long classes
Other Misc: 2 Group weightlifting classes and 2 Bodyrock 15-20 min HIIT sessions.

Sigh. Well now I feel like a failure. I'm going to sit on the couch and mope. And then plan my workouts for the week. And plan to stick to them!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

This sandwich is for you

Do you remember a little while ago when I went crazy for some grilled eggplant?
The skewers were good, and they went really well with the chicken, but then I had a half eggplant leftover, and I wasn't sure what to do with it.

Since the grill was hot, I just wrapped it in foil and asked nicely if the eggplant could 'rest' on the grill while we ate dinner. The fiance agreed. When we were done with dinner it had become a glorious mushy mess that I scraped into my food processor...and then....

Kier stole my thunder! (Ok, she's just a better blogger than I am and evidently doesn't operate on a 10 day time delay).

Since I don't want to be redundant (and her recipe is probably better and definitely more classic), you can make the eggplant dip her way...but you have to make this sandwich.

OMG. The fiance called it a 'vegan BLT' because that's what it tastes like. Its smoky, it's creamy, it's crunchy, it's salty. It's heavenly!

How to build it:
Make eggplant dip (mine contained half an eggplant, grilled to mush. 3 cloves roasted garlic. 1 tbsp tahini. Salt. 2 tsp lemon juice. pinch coriander. larger pinch cumin.)

Toast bread. Smear eggplant dip on bread - both slices. Layer on roasted peppers, tomatoes, and crispy lettuce or spinach. Finish with a fine dusting of salt and pepper.

Slice it in half and prepare to have your face meet its match. This sandwich is so perfect I had it three meals in a row...and then I ran out of eggplant dip. It's definitely happening again soon, especially if this hot weather keeps up...which it is. Excuse me, I have to go find some eggplants. And while I'm at it, I'm going to buy some nectarines and raspberries so that I can make this other Iowa concoction:

But you'll have to go over to Iowa Girl Eats for that recipe.

How do you feel about eggplant? Love it or hate it?

Friday, July 1, 2011

I am terrified of July

It's July. Where did June go?

I have so much to do this month. It's overwhelming right now. I can't even imagine that I'll be able to get it all done, but it's incredibly non-negotiable. This month I have to:

Work stuff -- 
Resubmit a paper. Again. Ugh. Pleaseohpleaseohpleasefindyourforeverhome

Decontaminate and arrange for pickup of a broken piece of equipment

Make Jill a special gene (it's like my graduation present to her)
Digitalize our chemical inventory (thanks Mollie! I got a little help and now it's done!)

Digitalize our specialty compounds library

Make copies of everything I'm taking with me and organize it into freezer boxes for easy shipping

Clean/decontaminate my desk, bench, and freezer space.

Teach people all the stuff I know that they don't.

All this time, I have a summer intern who is trying to get enough data for her paper and poster.

I'm also supposed to be pursuing my own research goals (i.e. what I'll be doing August 15), but I think that suggestion from my boss was kind of a cruel joke. I can't possibly do any more, so I'm going to cross my fingers and hope for the best.

New work stuff--

Order textbooks.

Make a syllabus

I want lesson plans for at least 4 classes (2 weeks of a 2x a week course), and ideally 8 (a month) and one test done before I get there. At this point, I think I'm dreaming about that goal.

New work clothes. Which are of course forbidden because I'll have to move them. So, this goal gets moved to August.

Home stuff--

Get new brakes on my car. And an oil change.

Get my old, trusty steel touring bike fixed/tuned/revamped to a commuter bike.

Stop electric service.

First, get our cable box fixed. Then arrange for service to be stopped.

Get cable/internet at my new house.

Get electric service and insurance at my new place. 

Clean. Clean. Clean.

Move my stuff.

Come back, clean more. Move the fiance's stuff.

Social Stuff--

Run. Workout. Still have time to clean, see my friends, and be sane.

I have a race on July 9. I will run that race. I WILL.

Have a going-away party? Attend other going-away parties!

Move 2 cats 3.5 hours, one of which is blind, without dying or having one of them die. Le sigh. Suggestions?

Edited 06/30/11 to add: I prewrote most of this post, but I think just the act of writing it all down spurred my ability to get things done. Here's what I can cross off my list:

Resubmit a paper. Again. Ugh. Pleaseohpleaseohpleasefindyourforeverhome (Now, please stay there and need minimal changes!) 

I want lesson plans for at least 4 classes (2 weeks of a 2x a week course), and ideally 8 (a month) and one test done before I get there. At this point, I think I'm dreaming about that goal. (Not completely done, but I did get 1 class with slides and all done today!)

Get new brakes on my car. And an oil change. (Scheduled!)

Get my old, trusty steel touring bike fixed/tuned/revamped to a commuter bike. (Scheduled!)

Get cable/internet at my new house. (I even got a discounted installation fee BECAUSE I ASKED FOR IT. Power of persuasion, people!)

I feeeeeeeeeelllllll so much better!

Ok, what am I forgetting? I'm sure I'm terribly unprepared for this upcoming month!