Two Lives, One Lifestyle

The Key to a Salad You Actually Want to Eat by Katie
July 23, 2010, 10:12 am
Filed under: Katie, Lunch, Nutrition, Salad

The key?  Use just as many toppings as lettuce.  This salad base had spinach and romaine.  Toppings included: tomatoes, cucumber, sundried tomatoes, celery, roasted red pepper, chopped hard-boiled egg, and a bit of crumbly blue cheese (between the red pepper and blue cheese my mom is probably shocked and proud). Oh and a little bit of dressing.

If there isn’t enough toppings, it gets boring. If there isn’t enough protein or fat, it isn’t filling.   Poor salad and it’s bad rap.

The other night, I ordered a salad at a restaurant that had strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, goat cheese, toasted slivered almonds, and grilled shrimp.  Berries and goat cheese cannot ever be wrong.

[After I ordered this salad I told John that I’m like a bear. He gave a blank stare. I explained: I eat hearty foods in the winter and gain a little weight and then in the summer I eat lighter and shed a little weight.  That’s like a bear, no?]

What’s your ideal salad?  What animal are you like?

It’s The Thesis’ Fault! by Katie
June 17, 2010, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Katie, Lunch, Motivation, Nutrition, Salad, Wine

Well, well, well look what the cat dragged in.  I’m here! Promise!  So Kelli and I are both having a big, milestone-y month leaving our poor blog in the dust.  Both of us ran our first marathon, Kelli bought her first house and I’m defending my first master’s thesis next week (hope it’s my only one).  Aw, look at us getting all growed up.

My computer has become a thesis addict, forgoing any normal blog/twitter/facebook activity.  It took John’s much nicer, newer, faster computer down with it.

This evening at 6 PM I handed over my first draft!  Thesis 1.0 is in the house!  I’m giving myself a break for the evening but I’ll be back at it tomorrow: editing, improving, and doing some last minute statistics (which is the best part of science….no).   I promptly sighed a sigh, drove the hour back to Denver, ate Chipotle, and poured a glass of wine.

It’s not a sparkling variety per se but has a bit of fizzy to it.  I like it for a schweaty summer night.

In terms of the thesis-ing, it’s the best I’ve ever planned for and handled anything close to this magnitude.  There have been no nights later than midnight (though I have been up at 5 or 6), no tears, no breakdowns, and no panic modes.  When I started regretting the extra day in San Diego and playing shoulda woulda coulda, I stopped myself and thought some positive thoughts about how it was in the past and anxiety over it now would not help the past. This is big for me… ask any of my closest friends or mom.   Let’s see how the next week goes before I toot my horn too much.

Last Saturday, I prepared for the week, went to the farmer’s market, and got good-for-me snacky food ready.

In.Love. All Coloradans, try it now!

I’ve been sticking with lots of vegetables and light meals/lots of snacks to keep myself from getting post-lunch sleepiness.  Plus, I just like to graze all day when I’m working at “home” (John and I are house- and dog-sitting for some friends this week).

Local greens, local tomato, local goat cheese!  Plus some Italian dressing and turkey.

Hm, maybe sticking to all these nice, healthy eats has something to do with my focus and low stress levels?  Maybe!

I think these two and their relaxed attitudes have helped me out too.

Now I’m going to go relax on the couch like this and go to bed EARLY!

Literally, Everything in Moderation by Katie
May 25, 2010, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Katie, Nutrition, Salad

Even vegetables.  A women in NYC was eating pounds of bok choy daily believing it would help alleviate her diabetes.  Well, apparently one of the compounds in raw bok choy can lower thyroid function to a deadly point if you eat truckloads of it.


Now, when we see hysterical overreacting articles emerge about this anecdotal case, let’s consider the amount she was eating (pounds daily,  for months) and the amount the average person eats (when you get Chinese takeout? Maybe more for a foodie).   If someone tells you they read about the “horrors” of bok choy, you can bite the craziness in the bud.

Fueling Up For a Run by Katie
May 2, 2010, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Breakfast, Katie, Nutrition, Run, Team in Training

For once, I was prepared for my long run!  Yesterday I bought a water bottle belt with one big bottle and a pocket for snacks.  The water bottle was a good size and the pocket can fit about 4-5 gels and my key.


When my alarm went off I still felt really tired but as usual, the thought of running by myself versus with a group got me up and at ‘em. I had a thick slice of Great Harvest with PB and J and organized my stuff.


So you’ll never believe it but continuous fueling and hydrating really improve my running.  It’s been a struggle through the season to find something that works for me.  I tried 4 different brands of gel and 3 types of gummies, all of which caused digestive grossness. Running is hard enough; a churning stomach is no help.

I finally found the Honey Stinger’s gummies to be okay.  At least, they caused the least amount of stomach aching.  This weekend, I tried the Honey Stinger’s gel, which is basically watered down honey. I prefer the gel stuff to the chews because it is one big gulp and done.  Holding the gummies + chewing while breathing + holding my pace is too much to do at once.



What is your fuel of choice?

Google helped me learn that as a starting point, about 30 g of carbs every 30-40 minutes after the first hour is an average energy intake during long distance running.    I had one Stinger gel at ~5 miles and one at ~9 miles.  I could totally tell when the first one kicked in and made sure to take the next one before I needed it.

I’m going to venture a guess and say that staying hydrated on the run also helped. I used a half tablet of nuun electrolytes since hydration doesn’t just mean water but balanced electrolytes (salt, potassium, etc).  These tablets don’t have added sugar like Gatorade which was fine since I was getting enough from the gel.  The reason for using half a tablet was to prevent stomach cramping from too many electrolytes (Stinger has some electrolytes).  Once it’s hotter outside and I’m dripping sweat, this will be even more important.


Not like it’s rocket science, or something I’d never heard before but seriously- WHAT a difference!  Between the stomach aches and my long-distance sports inexperience, I was all confused about what to eat and when so I went with way too little.  Once you figure out what works for you, it can make all the difference in the world.

How much of a difference you ask?  Enough to run my best long run yet!  Obviously some of this is from training but I’ve never been able to keep such a steady- and fast (for me)- pace.

  • 1st 6.5 miles:  9:23/mile pace @ even splits
  • 2nd 6.5 miles: 9:09/mile pace, negative splits each mile

I’ve never felt better after a long run- I didn’t even nap yesterday!  The 18 mile run really broke me down.  But the last two weeks have helped build me back up and restore my confidence a bit.  I think it was a good lesson in treating my body well and respecting the distance.  Intuitive eating and eating for fuel has taken on so much more meaning with training, but that’s a whole different post!

What has running (or whatever your exercise of choice is) taught you?

The Starbucks Cupcake Incident by Katie
April 30, 2010, 11:46 am
Filed under: Cupcakes, Katie, Nutrition

This article about children being likely to eat healthy food if they were given healthy food (thanks, Summer Tomato) and The Fitnessista asking if your kids [will] eat like you reminded me of a 2 minute conversation I overheard recently.

I was sitting at Starbucks doing some cover letter writing and a mom walked in with her 2 daughters: one was probably 5 and the other was at most 2 years old.  They were talking about the fun books they just bought, and I thought “awww that’s sweet, what a great mom!”

The mom started to order, including 4 Starbuck’s cupcakes, and the 5-year-old interrupted.  “Mom can I get this banana for a snack instead?”  The mother grabbed the banana out of her daughter’s hand and very firmly replied “NO! You’re getting a cupcake! You don’t need that banana.”  The little girl looked embarrassed for basically getting yelled at in front of the whole shop.


They sat down and the mom fed each daughter (one of them was still in diapers okay?) a whole, big Starbuck’s cupcake.

My initial reaction: This is TERRIBLE! What kind of parent denies their child a banana and forces them to eat a cupcake?  Isn’t this completely backward? Shouldn’t she be thankful her kid wants a banana rather than dessert in the middle of the afternoon? The whole scene stuck with me and just kind of bothered me for the rest of the day.  Well, apparently it is still bothering me.

I’m not against letting kids have delicious cupcakes or other snacks but do they really need a huge one from Starbucks as a random afternoon snack? The size and nutrition stats on many of their baked goods are scary enough for an adult.  Plus, the little girl wanted a banana!

I don’t want to judge other people and their decisions; I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt- for example, maybe it was her birthday? But this seemed borderline outrageous since she was asking for fruit.  I was pissed at the mom.  I was disappointed in the lack of nutrition education that we have growing up. I was angry with the way this country treats the production and consumption of food. It was like the culmination of all the backwards, screwed-up eating standards in this country.

I debated throwing in this detail, wondering about it’s significance to the situation: the mom was very obese to where she had a lot of trouble walking.  The 5 year old was overweight.  If I had just seen them wandering around the book store, this wouldn’t have phased me. Tons of skinny looking people feed their kids garbage too.  But I’d be lying if  I said that detail didn’t lead to some speculation about the (lack of) healthy habits these little girls were being taught at home.

I wasn’t about to step in and tell a mother how to do her job or lecture her about the nutrition and health issues that were coming to mind.  Plus the blame can probably be partially passed on to the food industry or marketing or whatever else impacts our eating choices.  Instead, I just BBMed my sister and talked about it with her because I was practically bursting to get someone else’s thoughts.

How would you have reacted to this?  Do you think I’m being harsh or overreacting?

Fats and Salad by Katie
April 13, 2010, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Dinner, Katie, Nutrition, Run, Salad


Just wanted to help everyone out with some dinner suggestions.  I hope to find a meat briefcase tonight.  How many ways could that could be misconstrued into something totally inapprops?

Using the researching skills I’ve honed in grad school, I quickly discovered that this particular ad appears to be a spoof.   Though before I realized that I thought “who would believe a crazy ad like that?!”.    True, the promotion of lard seems totally ridiculous but think about some of the popular weight-loss/health-promoting ideas in recent history.  Cut out fat! Eliminate all carbs!   Hey, been there, done that.   But now I have to ask myself:  “How could cutting out an entire macronutrient be good for health??”  Carbohydrates provide the most usable source of energy to our brains; tons of nutrients need dietary fat to be used by the body (called fat-soluble).

Anyone alive during the post-Atkin’s era probably learned that not all carbs are created equal but fats seem like they are still hated on way too much.  PS- dietary fat doesn’t equals body fat!  Sure, if you eat a TON of it, but consistently overeating any macronutrient would cause weight gain.

While it would take a longer post to go over all the types of fats and what they do and why they aren’t equal and evil, I wanted to share some research that struck me as “Wow, how did we miss this?! Brilliant!”  Eating salad with fat (in dressing or in something like avocados) helps nutrient absorption better than with non-fat dressing. I’m sure there isn’t 100% agreement but considering that so many vitamins are fat-soluble, it isn’t a far-fetched idea.  Some sources:  Avocado fats on salad, salad dressing study, NYTimes Health summary article.

[Quick little side note that no, I don’t have a nutrition degree, just lots of science background with active reading and learning through sources like published studies and not articles telling me how to lose 10 lbs in 10 days. Take it in, do your own research, challenge the ideas, just be polite in discussion!]

Speaking of fats in salad, the salad I made tonight was the best salad I’ve ever made.  Salads are always so delicious when I order them at a restaurant, though I’m lacking some sort of salad-making skill.  I like vegetables, but I love them much more with enhancements like sauces and cooking.

I started with 1/2 a chopped portobello mushroom and some thinly sliced red onion in a pan. I drizzled a really small bit of balsamic vinegar over the top and let everything brown. While it cooked, I used 2 forks to toss spinach with enough olive oil to coat the leaves.

Once the mushrooms and onions were cooked, I added them to the spinach while still warm and tossed it all together.  The spinach wilted just a bit and everything was slightly warm.  All the leaves were coated with a bit of veggie balsamic “juices” and olive oil.

You know what would make this better?  Something crunchy and meaty- roasted nuts? Or bacon!  Totally different lighting:

I also ate some Amy’s Reduced Sodium Spicy Chili.  After a few bites I had to go fish the can out of the recycling to check if there was meat in it or not.  Wow, they did a great job with making tofu into faux meat.  Someone want to trick a die-hard tofu-hater?

It was spicy and good, though it could have had more flavor.  Definitely good for a canned chili though.

I’m enjoying a serving of noosa yogurt for dessert- this stuff is GOOD.  You’ll just have to come to CO to try it though :).  Night!

A Salty Subject by Katie
January 27, 2010, 4:24 pm
Filed under: Breakfast, Katie, Lunch, Nutrition

Breakfast was oats again- I was on an egg kick last week, oats this week!

  • 1/3 c. oats
  • 2/3 c. vanilla almond milk
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 1/2 banana
  • Cinnamon

Simmered until done, topped with Bee’s Knees PB and flax seeds.  Oh yeah, and butterscotch chips- the most fun part!

I didn’t get hungry until 11:30 so I waited to go meet up with some friends for lunch.  I brought the other tuna zucchini patty I made last night and ate it sandwich style on Ezekiel with spicy mustard- excellent addition. No pictures but you saw it last night 😉 .  I thought it might not be enough (but so far it is, 2 hours later I’m still full) and I packed one serving of this soup with added spinach.

Disclaimer: I’m going to talk about sodium with some cited sources and my personal thoughts.  I’d love to hear your thoughts but I’m not a dietitian so take out specific grievances on the original sources, not me please! 🙂

I try to buy low-sodium versions whenever possible.  In general, Americans eat SO much excess sodium because it is in almost everything you can buy, especially canned and frozen goods, and restaurant foods (guilty).  Thankfully, my mom never cooked with salt and I still don’t have the urge to season my food with it.  I don’t even think people realize how much salt they consume.  I actually kept track of sodium intake one week and it blew me away.  Even without adding salt and eating a lot of home-cooked foods, I was going over daily recommendations.

I decided to bring up this food topic because of this article in the NYTimes last week based on this research paper. How about these numbers!?

“The researchers calculated that the half-teaspoon reduction would “reduce the annual number of new cases of coronary heart disease by 60,000 to 120,000, stroke by 32,000 to 66,000, and myocardial infarction [heart attack] by 54,000 to 99,000, and reduce the annual number of deaths from any cause by 44,000 to 92,000.”

This issue is important to me because my dad’s side of the family has a long history of heart problems (oooh don’t get me started how nervous my dad’s eating habits make me due to this family history) : my grandma ate as healthy as she knew and power walked until her 80s yet had multiple open heart surgeries and bypasses and was on blood pressure medicine forever; my aunt Lori has had heart surgery despite being a healthy & avid runner; and my uncle Dan recently had a heart attack in his 50s.  I think the majority of my dad and his 5 siblings are on blood pressure or cholesterol medicine.  No good.  I might be “young” but I don’t think it’s ever too early with a history like that.

If you’re curious, go look up the nutrition stats for what you ate today and compare it to the recommendations: somewhere between 1,500 & 2,300 mg or less is the goal.  But hey, we’re all going to have days where we eat French fries covered in ketchup.  Or maybe that’s just me and you will just eat some salty-but-otherwise-healthy soup.  Either way, getting stressed about it all the time isn’t going to do you any good either.  Just be aware and cut out the excess where you can!