Archive for July, 2009

My Sleep-Pod-NYC Idea: TAKEN!

I was dozing off at the end of the work-day, eyes fluttering in full-throttle.  I NEEDED A NAP!  But where could I get it?  Just 20 minutes of sound snoozing.  I couldn’t go back home for this – and I didn’t want to sleep in a chair.  Where could I go?  I couldn’t lie on a bench with the homeless, I couldn’t rest my head on the bookcases in Barnes and Noble, risking knee-bruises by careless book-worms.  What I needed was a safe, comfortable, cushiony, warm, soft, musical, lavendar and rosy place to rest my eyes and dream.  What I needed was a sleep pod. 


I first learned of these little button holes when corporate wellness centers began offering it to their employees.  The purpose of this novel napping option?  To give executives a break.  They could simply set the timer to 5, 10, 15, 20 + minutes, and get their R&R, versus taking out aggressions on an innocent intern or blowing through a pack of cigarettes. 

This fabulous idea, I thought, is not just for execs.  What about the dietetic intern that travels from the west to the east side everyday, woven into the chaotic mess of the hospital world?  Why shouldn’t she be able to get her REM cycle flowing mid-afternoon?  A good nap shows significant decreases in blood pressure, not to mention, clarity of mind.   This would be important to those in stressful on-the-go jobs. 

I was pondering these questions and frantically getting excited about opening up various Sleep-Pod locales through NYC when I came upon …  The mellow ambiance, to the packaging preferences, to the warm-blooded colors on the website – it’s as if Yelo pieced together their virtual reality segment by rummaging through the contents of my brain.

That’s it.


Another Incredible Salad

Yet again, I outdid myself with another salad – not necessarily as creative as last time – but certainly as delicious, if not more!

This time, the base was a standard spinach, topped with roasted corn, chunks of grilled tofu, avocado, and chopped up veggies: mushrooms, broccoli, and onions.  I also put golden raisins in for extra sweetness.  It was missing something – maybe salted sunflower seeds… But it still tasted great.  Sadly, I do not have my own picture (sorry, Ro!)  Nonetheless, this is exactly what it looked like: 

Spinach salad with corn avocado

Creative Salad

Today, I made a very creative salad.  Instead of using loose greens as a base, I chopped up cruciferous veggies.  This could work well with broccoli or endive, too:

-5 large Brussels sprouts, chopped
-7 florets Cauliflower, chopped
– 1/4 Red onion, diced
– 4 garlic cloves, roasted
– 1/4 cup tabouli salad (bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumber and basil)
– 1/2 cup Cottage cheese, low-fat and unsalted
– 4 tbsps Peccorino romano
– 2 tbsps Balsamic vinegar
– Mrs Dash original spice, to taste

Tasted great but needed: sliced almonds or walnuts, golden raisins, olive oil

This isn’t a picture of my creation, but it makes me want to try brussels sprouts with walnuts and raisins next time:

Grilled to perfection ..

Grilled to perfection ..

Food from our Ancestry

I am CONVINCED that bodies work best when fed food from their familial heritage.  Now, thousands of years ago, the food system was quite different.  We could not get food from halfway across the world because trade wasn’t as fast-paced and we did not have the kind of transportation system that we do right now.  As a result, our great-great grandfathers and grandmothers planted and cooked their own food.  The difference is that their fruits, vegetables and grains had better nutritional value (vitamins and minerals weren’t as easily destroyed as they are now with the processing effects) and there weren’t pesticides in those foods, either.

Our meats were also local.  Meat wasn’t injected with hormones or antibiotics and animals were fed grass versus grain (which made their bodies more lean, and therefore, less fatty).

I haven't yet been to Austria, but I imagine (or would like to!) that my ancestors lived in Hallstatt :)

I haven't yet been to Austria, but I imagine (or would like to!) that my ancestors lived in Hallstatt 🙂

From the countries of which I am 100% sure about my own lineage, I have found some of the traditional foods that we would have consumed.  Again, note that the “butter” and the “steak” were probably all from my ancestors’ own backyards and from much leaner animals.

Additionally, my ancestors probably didn’t stuff their faces like it was their last supper every meal… And if they did, then I guess that would explain why the 20th and 21st century clan members are all food-freaks.

Anyway, the following items are some common ingredients used in ancient and traditional cooking from Austria, Poland and Russia, some select countries of my people:

Austria – Austrian cuisine is greatly influenced by the countries surrounding it as they all used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Traditional Austrian dishes tend to be meat-based and include Wiener Schnitzel (veal cutlet fried in breadcrumbs), dumplings, pasta (Nockerl), boiled beef and cured ham. Commonly consumed are leafy and root vegetables as well as different types of beans and pumpkins. In traditional cooking maize and rye are very popular.  Austrian cuisine also includes a range of desserts and pastries such as Apfelstrudel (apple strudel), Mohnkuchen (poppy seed cake) and chocolate cake.

No, this is not the layer-cake from my fam's favorite bakery... But it looks a whole lot like it, and was probably devoured by my ancestors in the same maniacal fashion as my family would eat it today.

No, this is not the layer-cake from my fam's favorite bakery... But it looks a whole lot like it, and was probably devoured by my ancestors in the same maniacal fashion as my family would eat it today.

Poland – Traditional foods and dishes are important in Polish cuisine and dietary habits. One of the national dishes is Bigos which exceptional qualities and popularity were praised by Adam Mickiewicz in his masterpiece of Polish romantic literature, Pan Tadeusz. There are various recipes for Bigos and the typical ingredients include sauerkraut, different meats, sausage and dried mushrooms and prunes. Pork is still the preferred type of meat and fried pork chop served with boiled potatoes and sauerkraut belongs to the most popular dishes. Despite  regional differences in the food habits, their common feature is high consumption of bread, kashas (grits) and other cereal-based dishes, like, for example, dumplings, and potatoes. Pickled foods such as vegetables (cucumbers), fish (herrings) and mushrooms are popular. Traditional cakes include gingerbread, poppy seed cake, faworki (crisp cakes), Easter mazurkas, doughnuts and tree cakes, to name a few.

The "strudel" is a type of sweet layered pastry with filling inside, that became well known and gained popularity in the Habsburg Empire.

The "strudel" is a type of sweet layered pastry with filling inside, that became well known and gained popularity in the Habsburg Empire.

Russia – Traditional foods include potatoes (boiled, fried, baked, potato chops, potato pancakes, potato soup, smashed potato). bread (bread, toasts, bread-crumbs), eggs (boiled, fried), meat (pork and beef – chops, stakes), butter (usually added in all meals and spread on bread).  Also popular: cabbage, milk, sour cream, curds, mushrooms, lard, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, berries, honey, sugar, salt, garlic and onions.


MmMM.. MEAT! I am thrilled that my ancestors weren't vegetarians... That would be a shame.

Case studies: In the end, do we have the power to remain neutral?

Listening to portions of Sonia Sotomayor’s hearings this morning made me think about the effort to remain objective.  As dietitians, do we impose our personal experiences upon our patients, or are we able to judge on a case by case basis?  Sotomayor argues that she is a careful jurist.  She argues that she is faithful to the law and that her record shows it, too.   Although she defends that her opinion wouldn’t take precedence over the law, does her record reveal the same impartiality?  Is she as open-minded as she claims?  Does she listen to the arguments of all parties?


I cannot speak for Sotomayor, but I can for myself.  I hope I won’t incorporate my personal experiences into making important decisions for others.  Sure there is wisdom that comes from personal experience, but to what extent does a judge, a doctor, or a dietitian put her views aside and examine the facts?  Maybe her morbidly obese patient has an underlying under-active thyroid disorder, which makes weight loss more difficult.  Maybe that particular case isn’t about changing sedentary and dietary behaviors, like others in that genre .

Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings are making me think about how difficult it may be to consistently remain objective.  One would hope that a judge (of the highest court in the land!!!) could do this per case, have a reasonable mind.  One would hope that a dietitian, too, won’t strike the gavel prematurely.  Following clinical guidelines goes without saying for dietitians.  But following a course of action thereafter?  When is it best to put your gut feeling aside?

Sotomayor states that we must be aware of the prejudices that we DO have.  And when we acknowledge that we HAVE them, it is only then that we can put them aside.  It’s only then that we can recognize the facts within the situation, and thus make our recommendations.