Category Archives: Health

Book Review: American Grown and Sweet Potato Yeast Bread — Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking meme graphicBook: American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michelle Obama
Genre: gardening book
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Publication date: 2012
Pages: 271

Source: Library

cover of American Grown by Michelle ObamaSummary: American Grown by Michelle Obama tells the story of the White House Kitchen Garden beginning with some concerns shared by all gardeners and others completely unique to her garden:

When I first arrived in Washington, I wasn’t even sure that we could plant a garden. I didn’t know whether we would be allowed to change the landscaping on the White House grounds, or whether the soil would be fertile enough, or whether there would be enough sunlight. And I had hardly any gardening experience, so I didn’t even really know how to go about planting a garden in the first place.

Of course, she had a lot of help, including the assistance of the National Park Service, since it turns out that the White House grounds are a National Park. The proceeds of this book go to the National Park Foundation, the charitable partner of the National Park Service.

Thoughts: I loved the way American Grown is organized, four seasons for four themes while the story of the White House garden is woven seamlessly throughout.

The Spring section was all about the beginning of the garden, including the first planting day with the help of local fifth-graders. There are also tips for starting your own garden and making use of the produce in the kitchen.

The summer section covers community gardens and farmers’ markets around the country and how the White House garden serves as a focus for community.

The fall harvest chapter highlighted efforts to improve health by improving food, including school gardens and Growing Power, the movement that I wrote about here: Book Review: The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen.

The Winter chapter talks about the children, our future, including the Let’s Move initiative to reduce childhood obesity and restore health.

The final section “Garden Highlights and Recipes” was more useful than I anticipated. Again organized by seasons, each section is filled with tips for buying and using produce. Did you know this —

When washing greens, do not rip them into smaller pieces before you run them under the water because the leaves will lose their nutrients. Instead cut or tear them after you dry them. (p. 218)

I’ve been tearing lettuce between the first and second rinse for years. But not anymore!

Recipe: Given the season, I combed over the Fall Recipes. Most interesting was the Sweet Potato Quick Bread with layers of ginger flavorings on page 246. The original recipe is up on We Gotta Eat: AMERICAN GROWN – SWEET POTATO QUICK BREAD.

As I wrote last week, I don’t eat quick breads when a yeast bread will do. So, I decided to see if I could convert last week’s bread recipe, Pumpkin (Winter Squash) Yeast Bread, into a Sweet Potato Yeast Bread.

It worked! The three forms of ginger really punched up the flavor and I loved the yellow color of the loaf.

I didn’t peel the sweet potatoes as the inspiring recipe suggested. I don’t see the point when the potatoes are going to be boiled and puréed. There are nutrients in the skin and I suspect the skins added to the beautiful warm color of my bread. Fourteen ounces of sweet potato yielded more sweet potato purée than I needed for my bread. I made the excess into a sweet potato soup to eat while the bread baked–thinning with chicken stock, adding flavor with sweet chili sauce and soy sauce and ground ginger, and simmering on the stove until it achieved the desired thickness.

The original recipe used honey for sweetening. A yeast bread that is sweetened with only honey doesn’t toast well — it goes from warm to burnt in about two seconds flat. Thinking about the streusel topping on the sweet potato casseroles of my youth, I decided to use half honey and half raw sugar.

photot of Sweet Potato Yeast Bread for the Bread Machine

Bread Machine Sweet Potato Bread
by Joy Weese Moll

1/2 cup whey, fat-free milk, or water
1 cup sweet potato purée
1 tablespoon raw or brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white bread flour
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 6 or 8 pieces
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons yeast

1. Make the sweet potato purée by cutting about a pound of sweet potatoes into large chunks, covering with cold water, and cooking in boiling water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain.  Purée the sweet potatoes in a blender or food processor.

2. Mix the whey, sweet potato, sugar, honey, egg, and salt.

3. Stir together the flours, the butter, and the gingers.

4. Follow bread machine instructions for adding liquid and dry ingredients and the yeast.

5. Bake using the whole wheat bread setting.

White House pastry chef, Chef Bill Yosses, recommended a smear of cream cheese to top the quick bread. I used my substitute, yogurt cheese mixed with a little mayonnaise, on my yeast bread and loved the mild sweetness with the ginger kick. Rick made a peanut butter and honey sandwich with Sweet Potato Yeast Bread and declared that it tasted like cake. My diabolical plan to replace baked goods with yeast bread is working.

Appeal: The book is visually stunning with a large format, magazine-style layouts, and gorgeous photographs — an exceptional coffee table book for the gardener, cook, or foodie.

Other Reviews: Vassilly of 1330v liked American Grown, too: Review: American Grown by Michelle Obama.

logo for Foodies Read 2 ChallengeChallenges: This is book 14 of the 19 books I’m aiming to read for the Foodies Read 2 challenge. I better read faster!

Check Beth Fish Reads for more Weekend Cooking posts today — we get film reviews, restaurant photos, and all other sorts of foodie fun.

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Baby Kale

I’ve paid big bucks in fancy restaurants for salads with baby kale. But not this time! I’m thinning my fall crop of kale. The plants I pull out can go in the compost or my salad. I voted for the salad!

Baby Kale

The salad:

  • Baby kale thinned from my garden
  • Mixed lettuce and radishes from the CSA box
  • Bean sprouts and leafy sprouts grown on my kitchen counter
  • Salad dressing made on the fly from balsamic vinegar, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, dijon mustard, and Grade B maple syrup
  • Dried blueberries and pumpkin seeds from Whole Foods


Book Review: Instant Recess by Toni Yancey

Book: Instant Recess: Building a Fit Nation 10 Minutes at a Time by Toni Yancey
Genre: Public Health Policy
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 2010
Pages: 263

Source: Library

cover of Instant Recess by Toni YanceySummary: Instant Recess outlines a program and policy shift toward making people more active by breaking down social and cultural barriers to movement while building up structures and expectations that encourage exercise.

The answer, and what I’m advocating in this book is systems change to structure short bouts of group physical activity into our social interactions and cultural expectations, as well as our built environment…It’s time to put the policies, regulations, and practices in place…that will make it a lot easier for [people] to make the active choice and increasingly difficult for them to make the sedentary one. p. 12

Thoughts: Instant Recess is more a policy book than an exercise manual, but it did give me lots of ways to think about exercise in my own life. In particular, it encouraged me to Sit Less.

I’ve been fascinated by the topic of how to get Americans to eat less and healthier despite the frustrating reality of corporations that need Americans to eat more and worse. Toni Yancey argues in Instant Recess, that this paradox is less of a problem when the policy is to move more.

Encouraging people to eat nutrient-rich foods at the expense of processed foods is a losing proposition for the food industry. “Big Food” would lose money, because the profit margins are much smaller for nutrient-dense whole foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains than for highly processed “faux foods” like sodas and fries, but the sports and fitness industry’s interests are served by public health efforts to increase opportunities for physical activity. These companies will make more money if efforts to get the population moving succeed. So there should be less push-back from the private sector in getting people active than in getting them to eat healthy. p. 19

Instant Recess is filled with references to scientific studies and recommendations based on them. It also has poetry–an unusual, but quite effective, mix of presentation.

Appeal: I would love to see anyone who has some responsibility for the health of others reading Instant Recess by Toni Yancey. Employers and policy makers will find great ideas here for simple ways to increase healthy behaviors, along with the evidence that implementing these policies will improve productivity. 

Do you read fitness or exercise books? Do you have any to recommend?

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Three Reasons to Exercise Today

Keep Calm and ExerciseHosting Readers’ Workouts has turned me into fly paper for news about fitness. Here are three things that have stuck to me lately and will motivate my workout today.

1)  Exercise feels good. LifeHacker posted an article yesterday about the effectiveness of using emotional and mental health as a motivator for exercise, Focus on the Mental and Emotional Benefits of Exercise to Help Stick to Your Workouts. You’ll see the results more quickly if you’re looking for a boosted mood rather than lost inches — quick rewards do wonders for developing new habits.

2) Exercise to maintain a weight loss. The New York Times has an exercise article from last year, but I saw it somewhere today, my Twitter feed, I think. Weighing the Evidence on Exercise covers the tricky question about whether exercise helps or hinders weight loss. Exercise burns calories but, at least for some people and in some situations, it also elevates appetite. Less tricky is the role of exercise in maintaining a weight loss — for most people, it’s the key to success. Keep in mind that if you’ve started losing weight, you are already maintaining what you lost so far — exercise will help.

3) Exercise to be Drop Dead Healthy. Okay, so this one’s a little different, but A.J. Jacobs, author of the new book Drop Dead Healthy, gave a fun interview on Weekend Edition earlier this month, Self-Improver A.J. Jacobs Takes On Getting ‘Healthy’. The interview re-motivated me to sit less.

Join us at Readers’ Workouts for see how other readers are motivated to exercise. There are still a few days left to participate this week: Readers’ Workouts April 10. Or watch for next week’s link list to appear on Tuesday.

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Book Review: YOU on a Diet by Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz

Book: You: On a Diet: The Owner’s Manual for Waist Management by Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet C. Oz
Genre: Diet book
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 2006
Pages: 384

Source: Library

cover of You on a Diet by Michael Roizen and Mehmet OzSummary: One in the continuing series of YOU books by Dr. Oz and coauthor Michael Roizen, YOU: On a Diet covers the most recent scientific research on weight loss. In particular, this book focuses on waist size rather than weight arguing that the health benefits of reduced girth are greater than that of reduced pounds.  Of course, for most of us, those two measurements tend to move in tandem.

The book has four parts. It starts with an introductory section called “What a Waist!” followed by an exhaustive section about food’s role in the body. Part 3 was my favorite section since it covered all the emotional and environmental issues that need to be addressed and aren’t intuitively obvious when someone sets out to lose weight. Part 4 pulls it all together in their plan for losing weight with strategies, exercise, and a way of eating.

Thoughts: This book seemed daunting at first with an astounding amount of scientific bits and pieces that fit into the weight loss puzzle. I don’t imagine anyone needs to know all of this in order to lose weight, but who knows which specific piece is going to be the one that makes it all fit for you or me? Fortunately, lots of diagrams and cartoons make it all more accessible. I loved learning that leptin, the hormone of satisfaction, increases as a result of a thirty minute walk. You might find the suggestion to increase small intestine fullness by eating seventy calories worth of nuts about twenty-five minutes before a meal to be invaluable.

One of the reasons that I chose this book was a friend mentioned that the autopilot strategy really worked for her. The idea is to quit over-thinking food choices. Instead, eat roughly the same thing for all meals and snacks before supper. I was doing that to a degree before, but I worried about the opposite advice one sometimes gets about making sure there’s variety in the diet. After reading this book, I’m doing autopilot more and worrying less. After all, just because I eat a giant salad every day at lunch doesn’t mean it’s the exact same salad every day. I get plenty of variety and thinking about food less really helps!

I loved the analogy of a Perfect Storm that they use in Chapter 10, making the case that losing weight in our current environment is hard because there are so many factors conspiring against us. It takes many strategies, not just will power, to survive that storm.

The actual diet and activity plan looks doable, even fun, in its way.

Appeal: This will appeal, especially, to Dr. Oz fans but is really a good general approach to weight loss covering all of the bases — the science of the body and the brain, the environmental challenges and opportunities, and the emotional and behavioral changes required for success.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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Book Review: Strong Women, Strong Hearts by Miriam Nelson and Alice Lichtenstein

cover of Strong Women, Strong Hearts by Miriam Nelson and Alice Lichtenstein

Happy Valentine’s Day! I chose this book for today as a Valentine’s gift to me and all the women who read my blog. Let’s love our hearts!

Book: Strong Women, Strong Hearts: Proven Strategies Tailored Specifically for Women by Miriam E. Nelson and Alice H. Lichtenstein
Genre: Health
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication date: 2005
Pages: 255

Source: Library

Summary: Strong Women, Strong Hearts is divided into three parts. The first section covers the current and emerging research on heart disease, particularly as it applies to women.

The meat of the book is in the second part: The Strong Women, Strong Hearts Program. It starts with diet, including (after all the appropriate explanation) a kind of mix and match eating plan that manages to be both simple and flexible. The exercise chapter includes a tool I hadn’t seen before–the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) which helps you decide if you should consult with a doctor before starting an exercise regime. The next chapter has “Ten Tough Strategies for Weight Loss –That Work!” The final piece of the program is about mental and emotional health — learning to relax and address stress and depression.

The final part is about the medications and procedures that women with heart problems may need, with a chapter about how to talk to yourself, your friends, your doctor, and emergency room personnel since too many heart problems in women aren’t recognized due to atypical symptoms.

Thoughts: The first note that I took from this book was that heart disease kills more than ten times more women in the US each year than breast cancer does. Ten times! Did you know that heart disease kills more women than men each year? That’s been true every year since 1984. Those statistics makes Strong Women, Strong Hearts an important book for all women, I think!

There’s a risk test in the beginning part of the book so you can assess how you’re doing — you need a recent blood test to have all the information. I’m currently at a less than 1% risk of a heart attack in the next 10 years. Yay! That’s a direct result of following many of the tenets outlined in the Program section of this book, practices and behaviors that brought my blood pressure low enough that I no longer need medication.

Some of the newer nutrition research described in this book shows that fat is no longer quite the enemy that we once thought. In particular, the guildelines suggest not going below 20% of calories from fat because that tends to increase triglycerides and lower the good cholesterol. The research indicates that one should pay more attention to the kinds of fats in the diet and not be quite so stringent as we once thought in the amounts.

I was startled by the statistics about exercise, or lack thereof:

Only 27 percent of Americans get enough exercise to benefit them, and 38 percent of American women are not active at all. p. 57

Given that statistic, it makes sense that the first step in the exercise program in this book is Decrease Sedentary Living. The exercise chapter has great tips for everyone no matter what level of fitness. I had been struggling with the lunges in my Slim in 6 workouts. They made my knees hurt. Working through the two-page spread on the lunge in this book, I improved them — largely by accepting that using a chair helped my form even though I was in no danger of losing my balance.

I skimmed most of the last part since I’m not currently in need of medication or medical procedures, but I’m very glad to know that information is there should I need it. I did not skim the section about how to be an advocate for myself. I’m trying to etch this passage somewhere in my brain:

In the unlikely event that you end up going to the emergency room for heart-related symptoms, there are a number of things you need to know so that you can advocate for yourself most effectively. One is not to delay. We can’t stress this enough. If you think, for instance, that there’s even a remote chance you are having a heart attack or stroke, don’t wait to see whether it passes. And don’t tell yourself it’s nothing. Many women make the dangerous mistake of minimizing what they’re going through. This could be a matter of life and death. Delaying can also increase the amount of permanent damage that occurs. Don’t minimize. Get someone to drive you to the hospital–immediately. If no one’s available, call 911. pp. 214, 215

I’m also keeping in mind the story in the sidebar on the same stage. An active woman was diagnosed with a heart murmur and told by a young resident that she would need to limit her activities. Fortunately, she mentioned that to the cardiologist a few minutes later who said there was no need.

If she hadn’t spoken up and gotten her “second opinion,” she would have walked around on tiptoes–unnecessarily–and suffered a decline in her heart health from lack of activity. p. 215

Appeal: This is going to appeal most to women who have some reason to worry about their risk of heart disease (my father died of a sudden heart attack at age 63, so I’m firmly in that camp). Really, though, given the statistics about women and heart disease, it’s a book for every woman. I really liked the approach to diet and fitness in this book and think they would benefit any one making changes in these areas.

Checkpoint logoSpeaking of exercise…Tuesday is Checkpoint day, the day to report how our exercise is going. I’m finding this a wonderful and fun way to be accountable to my goals. My February goal is 1300 minutes of exercise and I am currently at 525 minutes, right about where I need to be!

Visit the Checkpoint linky at Bookwork with a View to see how everyone is doing: CHECKpoint! Feb 14. And join us!


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Slim in 6

photo of Slim in 6 videosI’ve begun an exercise video series called Slim in 6 featuring Debbie Siebers. There are three main programs — Start It Up! Ramp It Up! and Burn It Up! The idea is to do the first two programs every day for a week or two each, then the last program for the remaining weeks and (voila!) slim in six weeks.

I know my body isn’t happy if I repeat the same workout everyday, so I’m doing it every other day (alternating with other workouts, including some bonuses on these DVDs) and calling it Slim in 12.

I have more difficult videos, but I’ve never committed to doing them several times a week. I’m kind of impressed already with the changes that I’m feeling in my body in just a little over a week of alternate days of Start It Up! There isn’t any of that soreness and stiffness the next day that I associate with a good workout, but the consistency is paying off. I’m feeling some surprising muscle development: upper back, top of the hips, and across the chest.

This is the latest of many purchases I’ve made over the years from MultiLevel Marketing companies. I like to support women-owned business and, so often, the first business women attempt is an MLM. Too often, of course, it’s the last attempt. I suspect the secret to success with an MLM is to keep expectations low while acting as if expectations are high — not a skill I could manage.

The thing is, I’ve always been happy with the quality of the purchases I make from MLMs. I suspect that is the first priority for establishing an MLM. You have to have a product that you can get people to believe in–not only believe in enough to buy but enough to sell.

The company that sells Slim in 6, Beachbody, is more famous for some of its other programs: P90X, Insanity, Turbo Jam. Beachbody calls their marketers “coaches.” I highly recommend my coach, Melanie Gottlieb, for her encouragement and informed suggestions about which programs fit your current fitness level and goals. If you’re interested in these workouts, visit her Beachbody page: Melanie Gottlieb. Click on the orange Contact Me button above her picture and tell her I sent you.

photo of Slim in 6 bookletsSlim in 6 didn’t come with a book, exactly, but there’s plenty of printed material to please a reader. Simple Steps to Success is inspiring and contains a number of tips that really work like writing down your motivators and referring to them often.

6 Day Express Diet Plan has three quick weight loss plans that probably wouldn’t hurt most people. I’m not a big fan of that sort of thing but when I was younger I might have done them so I can’t really say that no one should. My experience is that pounds that come off slowly stay off.

Step-by-Step Nutrition Guide is a fold-out brochure with all the basic information for eating healthily. It contains the don’t eat 3 hours before bedtime advice to improve fat-burning, a notion that I thought had been thoroughly debunked. It is a beneficial rule to eliminate night-time snacking which is a difficult time for a lot of us–so not bad advice even if the reasoning is faulty. I rather like the “Michi’s Ladder” concept of putting foods in five different tiers — the idea is to eat the vast majority of foods from the top two tiers of healthy foods and save the bottom tiers for progressively more rare treats. I would argue with a few tier placements from a perspective of natural over artificial and the silliness of the potato prejudice, but most are where I would put them.

The Get Started brochure is more of a commercial for the other Beachbody products, more videos by the same instructor and shakes and supplements (which I’m not doing as I discussed a couple of weeks ago, Book Review: The Complete Guide to Growing and Using Sprouts).

Checkpoint logoWith Slim in 6, a couple of good gardening days, and my husband’s new resolution to say “yes” when I say “how about a walk?” — I finished yesterday with 290 minutes of exercise so far this month, putting me right on track for 1300 minutes in February!

How are you doing with your exercise goals? Check in with Bookworm with a View to see how Mari and others are doing: CHECKpoint! Feb 7.

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Barefoot Workout

I am not a barefoot kind of gal, for two very good reasons:

  1. My mother had a strict “children wear shoes” rule.
  2. The most memorable case I encountered as a 14-year-old candy striper in an emergency room was a toddler who stepped on glass in his basement. So much blood from such a tiny foot. And, an accident that could easily have been prevented by following my mother’s rule.

feet and Fat Burning Fusion by Ellen Barrett DVDSo, I wear crocs or slippers or shoes, even in the house. The fact that I have an affinity at all for working out in bare feet is a huge surprise to me. I blame yoga. My first class was about six years ago. It took awhile, but after a few weeks, I started liking the feel of moving on bare feet. Now, I deliberately look for forms of exercise and DVDs where the instructors are barefoot. The hula that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago (Exercising in Virtual Hawaii) is one example. I have a couple of Nia DVDs, a couple of dance DVDs by Ellen Barrett, and a small stack of Qi Gong DVDs with Lee Holden — all performed without shoes.

What are your favorite barefoot workouts?

For a book tie-in, I requested a collection of essays called Barefoot Summers from the library. Author, Faith Andrews Bedford, writes the “Kids in the Country” column for Country Living magazine. I read the essay that gave the book its title and it turns out that Faith Andrews Bedford’s mother also had a wear shoes rule. But there was an exception — the month of August that they spent with her grandparents on Cape Cod.

That was one of our own “rules of August” — from the first day until the last, my sisters and I did not put on shoes.

That exception was enough to make the author, unlike me, a life-long fan of being barefoot.

Checkpoint logoToday is the last day of the month. I’m posting late so that I can count every exercise minute in January. My January goals were 1300 minutes of exercise and 8 video workouts. I overshot both — 1315 minutes of exercise and 13 video workouts!

Since I seem to have broken my resistance to workout videos (I even bought a new series of DVDs), I’m going to drop that from my goals and make things simple for February. My February exercise goal is 1300 minutes, averaging about 45 minutes a day.

Take a look at how other bloggers did with the exercise in the last week at the CHECKpoint! Jan 31 hosted by Mari at Bookworm with a View.

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Book Review: Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook

Weekend Cooking meme graphicBook: Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook by Paula Deen
Genre: Cookbook
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 2008
Pages: 176

Source: Library

Summary: This is an attractive cookbook with bright colors, a funny funky font that is mostly still readable, and pretty illustrations. Most recipes are two page spreads. The left page is filled with pictures of the tools and ingredients needed. An adult cook would find both the pictures and the tools distracting from the identification of ingredients, but a child would likely get a kick out of that presentation. The right page has the recipe instructions and often an illustration of children or a family enjoying the results.

cover of My First Cookbook by Paula DeenThoughts: Okay, I admit it, I got this from the library just to have an excuse to write about the Paula Deen kerfuffle. Just in case you missed it, the woman responsible for bringing America fried butter balls and the bacon egg burger between donuts instead of buns (yes, home cooking that might be even worse for you than eating out) admitted to being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes three years ago and is now hawking a diabetes drug.

I was surprised to discover that I could get a children’s book by Paula Deen from the library. Yay! I don’t even have to read a full adult cookbook to manufacture my excuse to write about this issue. And, then, OMG, Paula Deen is writing books that influence the eating habits of our children?!

As it turns out, Paula Deen’s My First Cookbook wasn’t as horrible as it could be. The breakfast chapter, for example, has nothing that I would want to see a child eating every day. On the other hand, it also has nothing that would be particularly objectionable for a Saturday or Sunday. I’m guessing that most busy families don’t have children cooking breakfast on weekdays anyway. That was true throughout the book — very few recipes for daily consumption and very few that would be difficult to fit into a day or week of reasonably healthful eating.

The biggest problem is the missed opportunity. She includes two pages of safety instructions, plus another on that topic for adult helpers. There’s a page about setting the table and another about good manners. But not a word about the role food choices play in making healthy bodies.

My hero on food issues, Marion Nestle, had a bit to say: Weighing in on Paula Deen. I was surprised to see the American Diabetes Association putting an emphasis on genetics and drugs rather than diet, but Marion Nestle knows the reason why.

My favorite take on the topic came from Erika Nicole Kendall of A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss.  She wrote Paula Deen, Her Alleged Diabetes, And Why I Can’t Stand Her earlier in the week when the announcement was still a rumor. She’s mostly addressing Deen’s infamous comment that not every one can afford a $58 prime rib, in response to Anthony Bourdain’s criticism. Here’s a teaser bit, but go read it:

It was a pathetic attempt to use classism and manufactured elitism as an excuse for why she pushes the food she does.

cover of Pretend Soup by Mollie KatzenI want cooking to save Americans from our own excesses. Paula Deen often does the opposite, using cooking to continue the high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt expectations that we get from fast food and restaurants. Cooking, especially with children, is such a wonderful opportunity to experiment with more complicated flavors and more nutritious ingredients. Sure, there will be failures, but there will also be successes and the next recipe might be the one that gets the picky kid to eat her broccoli.

Appeal: Unless you have a kid who is a Paula Deen fan, I would skip this cookbook and start my search for a children’s cookbook with 12 Great Cookbooks for Kids at Personally, I think Mollie Katzen’s Pretend Soup looks like a winner.

Foodies Reading Challenge graphicChallenges: This is my 2nd book of 2012 for the Foodie’s Reading Challenge.

Stop by Beth Fish Reads today for more Weekend Cooking posts.

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Adventures on the Treadmill

photo of Treadmill and iPadWhen I bought my iPad, I didn’t have this use in mind — watching TV shows streamed from Netflix while walking on the treadmill. It’s been great. Sometimes watching the next episode is my primary motivator for exercising.

I’ve been enjoying Wire in the Blood, a BBC crime drama, during my treadmill walks this week. For some reason, British shows have been my distraction of choice for exercising. I think there is a greater escape value in shows set in other countries. It’s like a mini-vacation. The two exceptions to my British-only rule have been Battlestar Galactica, which is out of this world, and Friday Night Lights. You know, they say that Texas is like a whole other country.

To give this post the slimmest connection to books, I watched the first season of the BBC show Sherlock a few months ago while walking on the treadmill. I love this modern take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. The present-day Sherlock is deliciously discomfiting in his Asperger-like view of the world. The modern John Watson, of course, has a blog — and, look, there really is a blog: The blog of Dr. John H. Watson. I’m resisting reading that now since I don’t want any spoilers for season 2, which we won’t see in the US until May. The relationship between Sherlock and John pulled me in immediately — Sherlock needs John to clue him in about normal human reactions and John needs Sherlock to give his life purpose and adventure. Our local PBS station has been rebroadcasting the first season of Sherlock on Sunday nights after Downton Abbey and I think I’ve got my husband hooked.

Checkpoint logoMy January goal is 1300 minutes of exercise and 8 video workouts. I’m on track with 965 minutes and 5 video workouts. Next Tuesday will be the last day of the month, so check back to see if I manage 3 more video workouts and 335 minutes before then.

See Mari’s post today at Bookworm with a View for her exercise adventures and links to other participants: CHECKpoint! Jan 24. And, join us! A weekly blog checkpoint is a great way to keep up the energy to any exercise New Year’s Resolution that might be flagging about now.