The Best Book on the Best (and Easiest) Way to Feed Children

Howdy everyone! We just finished the midterm period at school. Already looking back at the first half of my semester, I feel pretty accomplished. I have learned a lot and feel pretty confident about nutrition for pregnancy, lactation and breastfeeding … Continue reading

Common Hands CSA

Today I am posting about something that is very important to me and I assume you (yeah you) :).  You’re following my blog, obviously you have some passion, need for education, love of nutrition and healthy food and living.  Am I right?  So I have a few questions for you:

  1. Are you one of my nearly 1000 readers and live in the New York City area and/or more specifically Brooklyn?  Or do you know someone who does?
  2. If yes, how do you obtain your produce?
  3. Do you believe that fresh, organic produce should be available to all?
  4. Do you believe in sharing meals, relaxing and receiving nourishment with loved ones?
  5. Have you ever joined a CSA before?
  6. Have you considered joining a CSA this season but kind of stumped on where to go?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, consider  Common Hands Farm, a CSA shareholder owned farm for all your fresh-from-the-farm organic produce needs.

Common Hands

Recently the great farmers at Common Hands asked me to help get the word out about their CSA in Brooklyn.  They are working extremely hard to raise an organic farm “from the roots, up” and fulfill their mission to provide organic, healthy, fresh food to others locally around Hudson, NY as well as us city-dwellers here in NYC.  They drop-off in Brooklyn at Brooklyn Boulders in Park Slope.  If you live in Gowanus, Park Slope,  Carroll Gardens, Cobble & Boerum Hills, you’re in walking distance and it would be really easy to drop-by, do some “rock climbing” and pick-up your CSA.  Or, you can just pick-up your CSA. 😉

Common Hands is going strong.  This is their second year and they want to continue on this successful path.  But that depends on us to join-up and gain the benefits of fresh, organic produce.  When you purchase a share through Common Hands Farm you will receive an assortment (6-8 different kinds of vegetables) of seasonal organic, fresh-picked produce on a weekly basis starting in June and ending in November.  This works out to about $24 per week for produce.  $24 for 6-8 different kinds of veggies is a sweet deal and you’re supporting local organic farmers! What do you have to lose except the freshest of the fresh produce?  The produce is literally picked the day it is delivered!  How awesome is that?!

If, after reading all that you’re thinking “I’d like some more information o CSAs” or “How do I get more information on Common Hands Farm?”  here’s some more information for you (be sure to follow the links to their website and blog):

What is a CSA?  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  It allows city-dwellers to have access to fresh-picked produce, direct from a regional farm.

How does it work? Becoming a member of a CSA means you are purchasing a share up-front from the farmer and a weekly plethora of fresh produce is then delivered to your neighborhood on a weekly basis, on a given day for you to pick-up.

What does a share typically include?  Shares typically are for an assortment of seasonal vegetables and some CSAs include a fruit share and an egg share.  Common Hands has all three.  Eggs and fruit are usually separate from the vegetables.

Finally, bringing affordable produce to the masses is something I believe is worth fighting for.  With my future degree in nutrition, as a Registered Dietitian, making healthy food accessible to all is my future career goal.  Eating fresh and natural food is a cause that is crucial to the well being of all men, women and children.  More people are now dying from food-related illnesses than hunger and the only way this can be revered is by eating right.  We can eat right by supporting those who work hard to literally put good, fresh food on our tables.  Join a CSA if you’re in an urban area and support your local farmers.  Join Common Hands Farm if you’re in the Brooklyn and/or New York City area.  This decision is one that pays forward.  Eating healthy food and produce gives you a long and healthy life.  Who could ask for more?

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Iron

My last post (“I’ve Come To Suck Your Blood…”) was about my experience giving blood and some helpful tips on what to do before and after donating.  Today’s post is about iron, which is a necessary component of healthy blood.

heme groups

To start, here’s a bit of science for you.  On a molecular level, a red blood cell is made of hemoglobin which consists of 4 chains of amino acids called “globulin chains – alpha and beta.”  Each chain contains a “heme group” containing iron attached at the center (pictured in red). It is here that oxygen can bind forming oxyhemoglobin.  Carrying oxygen is iron’s main function.  I could keep going but I won’t bore you with more except that blood is made in red bone marrow which is found in the flat bones of adults, such as the scapula (the shoulder wing), the ilium (the top portion of the hip bone) and the sternum.  To help the red bone marrow inside these bones make good blood rich in iron foods rich in iron should be consumed regularly, or iron supplements can be taken if instructed by a doctor or nutritionist/Registered Dietitian.  If iron gets low in the blood, it can’t carry enough oxygen.

The night before I gave blood we had two good friends over for dinner, one of which gave blood with me.  I did a little research for our meal and found some interesting information about iron in food.

  • Iron comes from both plant and animal sources.
  • Animal sources are considered “heme iron” and plant sources are considered “nonheme iron.”  The distinguishing factor has to do with the way the iron is carried in the food.  For example, heme iron in animal sources comes from the animal tissue with similar hemoglobin to humans.
  • Unfortunately, iron is not easy to absorb and many factors affect absorption.  These factors can include how much iron is already in your system, other nutrients that can enhance or cancel out the iron ingested, and what form (heme or nonheme) is consumed.
  • Heme iron is more easily absorbed but nonheme iron can be absorbed more easily if consumed with vitamin C.  Also, for carnivores, the absorption of nonheme iron can be boosted if eaten with some heme iron.
  • Cooking in an iron skillet helps iron absorption (I found this most interesting).

According to the American Dietetic Association’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide (which you can find on my Book List) foods rich in heme iron include (starting with the greatest number of iron): beef liver (I know), sirloin, ground beef, skinless dark and white meat chicken, pork and salmon.  Sources of nonheme iron include: fortified breakfast cereal, pumpkin seeds, soybean nuts, spinach, red kidney beans, prunes and prune juice, lima beans, whole-wheat bread, eggs, etc.  The list goes on.

There you have it.  Everything you may or may not have wanted to know about iron. 😉  Feel free to ask any questions.  Oh, and if you’re interested, I roasted a chicken and paired it with green beans and red potatoes cooked with caramelized onions.  For dessert we ate mango popsicles.  Happy Monday everyone!

Park Slope Stoop Interview!

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this but I love my neighborhood in Brooklyn.  Park Slope is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in all of New York City and I am totally privileged to live here.  There’s a unique sense of community in Park Slope that you don’t get in other areas of NYC.  The beauty of Prospect Park (which is just like the famed Central Park in Manhattan but larger and fewer tourists) just up the street, all of the small privately owned restaurants and boutiques as well as the beautiful brownstone architecture makes Park Slope a wonderful place to live.  I have been living here for four years and I still think “I can’t believe I live here!” when I walk down the charming tree-lined streets.  Yes, trees do grow in Brooklyn.  Many, as a matter of fact.

Today, I consider myself even more fortunate to be part of such a wonderful community, being able to voice my passion to the local residents through Park Slope Stoop, a fantastic local website.  Recently I was interviewed by the editor, Arianna, on overall wellness and tips to get through this upcoming flu season (it’s supposed to be a doozy!).  Check out the post here!! 🙂  I’m so excited about this interview, I had to share it with you all right away!  It includes my recipe for homemade chicken soup, which is proven helpful in fighting off colds and flu, and other helpful tips for feeling good and energized.  I hope you enjoy!!

Love to you all and stay healthy!!

Prospect Park Panorama

On a winter’s day, just me and my shadow, alone in Prospect Park

Food Adventure Series: Bok Choy

Howdy everyone!  How is the week going so far?  I started my cleanse and so far so good, but more on that later.  Today’s post in our food adventure series is about bok choy.  If you missed the last (and first) food adventure series, check out last week’s vegan brownies and the nutritional data on white, milk and dark chocolate.  Also, if you’re confused on what the food adventure series is, take a look at this post where I explain my idea.  And don’t forget to send me your food adventure series ideas. 🙂

So, back to bok choy.  My inspiration came from a beautiful bunch I found at our grocery store a few weeks ago.  I love bok choy and couldn’t resist.  Spoiler alert: my next post will be a recipe for bok choy soup.  Be sure to check back!

Picture from vegbox-recipes.co.uk

Bok choy, baby bok choy, chinese cabbage, snow cabbage are all the same.  It is a vegetable native to China and popular for centuries.  The stem, crunchy in texture (if consumed raw) is usually white but a few varieties can be found with a light green stem.   It opens up to beautiful long, flowing green leaves, slightly resembling cabbage.  Baby bok choy stands about 6 inches tall and other varieties can grow twice as high.

Any vegetable that has dark leafy greens is going to be good for you and your body.  Just like kale or spinach, bok choy is a good source of beta-carotene, calcium and vitamins A and C.  Here’s a brief breakdown of these nutrients:

  • Beta-carotene: A carotenoid (sounds like carrot, right?) and phytonutrient is most popularly found in fruits and vegetables with a red, yellow or orange color.  But it is also found in dark, leafy greens because the yellow/orange color of the carotene is hidden by the chlorophyll in the leaves.  It acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing free radicals that harm cells that could eventually lead to cancer or other age-related diseases.
  • Vitamin A: Carotenoids form Vitamin A.  It helps vision, both day and at night as well as growth and health of cells and tissues in the body, protects from infection and regulates the immune system.  Intake, from the age of 14 and up should be about 900 micrograms (about 0.9 milligrams) for men and about 700 micrograms (0.7 milligrams) for women daily.  If you are breastfeeding, you should be ingesting about 1200 micrograms of vitamin A daily.
  • Calcium: Yes, calcium can be found in foods other than dairy!  If you eat your greens, you will be eating a good amount of calcium.  Calcium helps to make and keep bones strong, helps muscles to contract and helps to regulate the heart beat.  It also aids in clotting the blood when necessary.  Adults through 50 years of age should consume about 1000 milligrams of calcium per day and after 50 years, 1200 milligrams per day.
  • Vitamin C:  Is the most popular vitamin.  It is good for an immune system boost, it also works as an antioxidant, but did you know it’s good for collagen production in the body?  It also helps to keep the capillary and blood vessel walls firm and protects us from bruising.  Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron and folate, keeps gums healthy and helps to heal cuts, scrapes and wounds.  If you are an adult male, you should be ingesting about 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily and 75 milligrams if you are female.  A little more is necessary during pregnancy and 115-120 milligrams is necessary while breast feeding.  Also, if you’re a smoker, increase your consumption of vitamin C by 35 milligrams because it is necessary to counteract the oxidative damage done by nicotine.

There you have it, all the good stuff bok choy compacts into a beautiful little vegetable.  I actually think the baby ones are cute.  Phil was joking that I should dress up like a bok choy for Halloween this year….maybe I will… 😉

If you’re tired of spinach and kale and want to switch up to another leafy green, try bok choy.  It’s great in juice, salad, soup and great steamed and served on it’s own as well.

Have a happy day!  Love to you all.

Sources:
The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia; Rebecca Wood; 2010
ADA Complete Food and Nutrition Guide; Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS; 3rd Ed.; 2006