Summer Book Bingo!

Summer is often seen as a prime month for reading. The lazy days, beach holidays, and extended travel time all lend themselves the conclusion that there will finally be time to catch up on all that reading you’ve been putting off during the first part of the year.

I don’t know about you, but my plans always outpace my reality. I’ve always been the person who carefully amasses books in my bag before a trip (or, Kindle, phones, etc.), only to return home with most of them unread. Sure, summer is slower, but it’s also warm and full of friends and activities and long days where you want to talk and soak in your surroundings, not bury yourself in a book. And this is all coming from an extremely prolific reader!

That’s why I’m glad there is now such a thing as Summer Book Bingo. Started by the amazing book podcast Books on the Nightstand, Summer Book Bingo (or Beach Blanket Book Bingo as they call it) is open to all who want to challenge themselves a little more with their summer reading. More on how to participate and why you should after the jump!

This author's personal 2015 bingo card.

This author’s personal 2015 bingo card.

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The Realistic Dietitian #16: Spice It Up & Work It Out

This week we’ll discuss what to eat before and after a workout, and I’ll share some of my favorite spicy, summery meals.

What you eat before and after you exercise can really help improve results. What to eat and when is especially important if you’re trying to improve athletic performance or lose weight. The basic rule to remember is carb-focused foods before exercise, high-protein foods after. You want to eat 15-30g carbs about 30 to 60 minutes before a workout to give you energy to get through your workout, boost performance, preserve muscle mass, and speed recovery.  You don’t need to do this as much for a shorter (e.g., 30-minute) workout, but if you’re exercising for closer to an hour (or more), it’s a good idea.

The reason carbs are so important to workouts is that glucose (a type of carbohydrate) is stored within each muscle cell as glycogen. Glycogen is a quick-burning fuel used for high intensity exercise. When glycogen is in short supply, your body reverts to breaking down protein for fuel, instead of breaking down fat. And obviously, that’s the exact opposite of what you want from a workout. You want to avoid fatty foods before exercise because they slow the digestion of carbohydrates, which provide your body with energy. You also want something that is easy to digest and gentle on the stomach. I recommend a 1/2 cup oatmeal, half a plain bagel, a slice of toast, or a banana (and, of course, some water). For shorter workouts, I personally like to eat a half of a banana for a quick burst of carbs (15g) to help sustain me without filling me up or weighing me down. This is especially useful when I exercise first thing in the morning and don’t have time for a 30-minute post-snack time-out. Bananas are loaded with digestible carbs and also contain potassium, which helps maintain nerve and muscle function.

During your workout, make sure to hydrate.  (See my post from last week for more info about that.) The only time you need to fuel your body with something other than water during a workout is if you are an endurance athletes who runs long distances (i.e., half or full marathons).  In that case, you’ll want to consume approximately 100 to 250 calories per hour, after the first hour of running. This should include between 25 to 60g carbs per hour. If you’re a body builder or other athlete training for over two hours, you should consume 15g of protein and 30-45g carbs every hour after the first hour. Continue reading

Potent Quotable: Beauty

Beauty-PQOn a recent trip to Colorado I visited the Botanic Gardens in full bloom. I was completely overtaken by nature in all of it’s glory and vibrant, vast wonder.  This walk that brought me face to face with the beauties and intricacies of nature reminded me of the quote from John Muir on the power and life-giving nature of nature itself. To take a moment and “consider the lilies” was indeed a means of rest and restoration for my soul. I hope you can get a glimpse of new life this weekend as well

The Growing Season: The World’s Oldest Profession

This is the latest installment of The Growing Season. For the other installments please click here.

The next morning, I meet Mirabelle in the garden and bring my newfound anxiety with me.

“What’s got you down?” she asks.

I wonder if she already knows, but she made it clear last visit that she prefers dialogue, so I tell her. “We had a doctor’s appointment yesterday, and there’s a potential complication with the pregnancy,” I say. “They want me to cut back on any strenuous activity. The doctor said that working in the garden is fine, just not for too long and nothing too intense. But with the demo planned…” I trail off, hoping she’ll step in and offer some insight.

She nods. “Did you bring your drawing?”

Taken aback as usual by her tendency to quickly change the subject, I hand it to her—the piece of paper I worked on in bed last night before Jack came up and joined me, the project I almost forgot about in the midst of our news. I had drawn the garden I described, with the addition of some herbs and vegetables off to one side, and I had added some words about each component and why I wanted it there. I hadn’t intended to go into such description, but I found that once I got started, the activity comforted me and made me feel like I was in touch with something that had been missing for awhile. Creativity or whimsy or something like it, I guess. In the end, I had focused on it for over an hour, and when Jack had gotten upstairs, I showed it to him. “Wow,” he had said, studying the finished product. “You really are serious about this, aren’t you?” With those words, I had noticed a look of determination in his eyes that resembled the one he took on before a big meeting at work.

Mirabelle studies the drawing now, nodding and looking around at the garden as she does so. “I like that you added the herbs and vegetables,” she says, and I glow with pride. “A garden should be both beautiful and useful, and that’s what you have here. Plus, it’s clear why this means something to you.” She holds the paper in the air. “I love it.” Continue reading

The Realistic Dietitian #15: Hydration and Healthy Summer Desserts


Happy June! Summer is here and it’s time for cookouts, BBQs, and pool parties. It’s also time for bathing suits and bikinis! So we need to balance summer parties with eating light, fresh meals. One way to do this is to prepare some healthier desserts to bring to cookouts and family/friend gatherings. Below are recipes for Lemon Angel Food Cake Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream, White Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookies, Key Lime Pie Bites, and a Fourth of July Flag cake.

It’s also a great time to think about consuming more water. You can lose more water in the summer because you can be a bit more sweaty, so it’s important to make sure you are getting enough.  Water is essential for good health and you can’t live without it! Every system in the body depends on water to function appropriately; water carries nutrients to your cells, and flushes waste out of vital organs.  A lack of water in your diet can lead to dehydration and can cause you to feel sluggish and fatigued. Drinking water also helps with weight loss because it helps flush out waste, and keeps you full and satisfied. Hunger and thirst can sometimes be confused by your body. When you do not consume enough water, you become dehydrated. When you are dehydrated your body begins to send out thirst and hunger signals–you may think you are hungry, but you could be wrong! If you think you are hungry, drink a tall glass of water and wait a half an hour. It may be that you were just thirsty and can skip that extra snack. Water also takes the place of sugary drinks and/or unhealthy diet beverages, which is always a plus.

But how much do you need? The Institute of Medicine recommends about 13 cups for men (3 liters or about 100oz), and 9 cups for women (2.2 liters or 74oz). Another simple way to figure out how much water you need is to divide your body weight in half. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water per day. This is a rough estimate, but it’s a good quick-and dirty-assessment. When exercising, and actively losing fluids though sweat, you should pump up the water intake. The average male should drink an additional 14-17 ounces of water for a 30 minute workout, 24-34 ounces for a 60 minute workout, and an extra 37-54 ounces per 90 minute workout. The average female should consume an extra 10-17 ounces per 30 minute workout, 24-34 ounces per 60 minute workout, and an extra 34-51 ounces per 90 minute workout. Water should be consumed before, during, and after exercising. Some people do not like to drink water while working out, which is fine, but make sure you drink around 20 ounces before you start exercising. So raise a glass this summer… and have some dessert! Continue reading