Apparently gargling with salt water really does help fight colds

So this obviously not a recipe-related post, but if your winter has gone anything like mine, chances are you might find it useful!

I have been sick way too often this winter, and I’ve been looking for every possible way to fight back against this trend.

I’d always heard the advice about gargling with salt water to kill germs, but does it really work?

Well, yes, according to this Gawker article which cites the Mayo Clinic:

“A randomized study of 400 people during cold and flu season… found that salt water gargling three times a day, with or without a cold actually being felt, reduced respiratory infections up to 40 percent.”

Wow.  40%?!?  That boggles the mind.

Basically, gargling draws excess fluid out of inflamed tissues, and helps to loosen thick mucus, which can have germs trapped within it.  And once it’s looser, the easier it is for the body to expel it.  (Sorry, I know that’s gross!).

I feel like I should resolve to now gargle salt water 3x a day for the rest of the winter.  I’m not sure I’ll actually live up to this, but at the rate things have been going, it couldn’t hurt.

 

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Out with the old: Saying goodbye to 90’s nutrition advice

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In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions and goals, I thought I’d share this really great article I found recently on nutrition “myths.”

Fitness Magazine interviewed registered dietitians on how their perspectives on healthy eating have changed over time.  These RD’s talk about some of the conventional wisdom regarding nutrition coming out of recent decades, how it influenced them, and how a lot of it turned out to be wrong.

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As a teenager struggling with body image issues in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I encountered much of these same nutrition trends myself from magazines and books, as well as from the nutritionist I saw for help with my eating disorder.

I remember– I was terrified of fat.  When I went out to eat, I insisted that I found mayonnaise and salad dressing “gross,” because I had read that cutting those things out was the best way to cut calories.

Each day, I only ate a certain number of calories at set times, and carefully adjusting the amount depending on the number of calories I had burned through exercise.  My treat at the end of the day would be some kind of “low-fat” dessert or “snack pack” of cookies.  Most of the food I ate was low fat– Healthy Choice ham for my sandwich at lunch, with low fat cheese.  Lean Cuisines for dinner.

It is so strange, now, to realize that so many of the “rules” I based my life around were, in fact, actually all wrong.

One of the quotes I related to the most in the article came from Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Nutrition Starring You.  She says:

“When I became a dietitian in the mid 1990s, we were in the middle of the fat-free craze. Bagels, fat-free frozen yogurt, and Snackwell cookies were all the rage. Our hospital diet materials recommended limiting nuts because of their fat content and limiting shellfish because of their cholesterol. Now, we know much more about the health benefits of fats derived from nuts and seeds, and we’ve also learned that high-sugar, fat-free foods are not nutritious choices. Unfortunately, people have long memories and to this day, so many of my patients are afraid to eat shrimp if they have elevated cholesterol. It’s exciting to work in a field with ever-evolving research.”

Yes– it absolutely was a fat-free craze.  Fat-free dressing, fat-free cheese.  Sometimes I’d even come across bread that was labeled fat free.  I always thought I was doing something great for myself when I reached for that label, not understanding that my body actually needed fat in order to function.

I also really related to this quote from Emily Cope, M.S., R.D.N., Owner & Consulting Dietitian at Emily Kyle Nutrition:

“When I was in college, I remember being obsessed with those ‘100-calorie packs’ of cookies and crackers. I thought they were a great option—less than 100 calories for all of those tiny wafers!! Little did I know those calories were being replaced with chemicals and unnatural ingredients. These days, now that I am older and wiser, I am less concerned with calories and more concerned with the quality of my food—whole fruit and nuts are my current go-to snacks!”

Yes.  Unfortunately, that was so me as well.  I felt comfortable with pre-packaged, processed foods because they were marketed for weight-loss, and it was easy to know how many calories were in them.

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These days, I have come so far in terms of my outlook to food that sometimes I almost forget that I ever had a problem.  (After all, I’ve had to deal with so much else with my body over the intervening years!).

I will talk more about how I overcame my eating and body image issues in future posts.  But for now, let me say that these days I think I live and eat pretty holistically.  I don’t get caught up on the idea of depriving myself of something if I really want it; I don’t count calories.

And the funny thing is, now that I allow myself to eat whatever I want, I find that most of the time, I generally tend to crave pretty healthy choices.  Now that I’m actually well-nourished, I find myself more in touch with how my body responds to different foods, and I tend to gravitate towards the foods that make me feel best.

I’m sharing this with you for a few reasons:

A) There’s some really good advice contained in this article, and

B) It serves as a reminder to me– and maybe to you– that things can get better.  Even if you have a problem that goes on for years; if you feel trapped and you truly seem stuck, things can change when you don’t expect it.

I truly hope this post was helpful to you.  Happy New Year!

Great tips on meal-planning from The Kitchn

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One of my ultimate food-goals is to become amazing at meal planning.

However, I still have a ways to go, so here are some really helpful tips from The Kitchn!  It’s a great site for all things cooking-related– I definitely recommend checking it out.

Some key points from this article that I found really useful:

“Plan just a few meals for the week.

Instead of cramming the week full of elaborate meals, focus on three to four dinners. Leave a night on the schedule for eating leftovers and plan at least one meal that you can cook without a recipe.

Shop for staples.

In addition to shopping for specific meals, make sure you have a few staples that you can turn into dinner without a recipe, like eggs for a quick omelet or a can of black beans and tortillas for crispy tacos.

Double one dinner.

Take one recipe and make it two times; eat one for dinner this week and freeze the other for your future self.”

There are more tips there if you want to check the article out!

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By the way– I’m trying to post more often on my multiple blogs.  One of the reasons I post so infrequently is that I’m a perfectionist, so I don’t post until I’ve been working on something for way too long!

On this blog and my other sites (Sunlight in Winter and My Sacroiliac Joint Saga) I’m going to start experimenting with different formats of posts, including shorter posts to highlight an article or a concept that resonated with me.

I’m curious to see what kind of responses I get.  Hope you enjoy!

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Jamie Oliver on How to Make the Perfect Omelette

It’s a rainy, gloomy Friday night here, and I’m already looking forward to the super fun brunch I’m planning to make tomorrow.

This video by Jamie Oliver is the simplest, most straight-forward explanation of how to make an omelette that I’ve ever come across.

I’ve made countless omelettes over the years– to varying degrees of success, of course.  But my omelettes have been coming out perfect since I first watched this a few weeks ago!

Definitely check it out if your omelettes aren’t coming out perfect, and you don’t know why.  Jamie will set you straight!

Whole Wheat Pasta with Corn, Cherry Tomatoes & Mascarpone Cheese (Blue Apron)

Here’s a recipe which Romina and I made through Blue Apron, which we’ve been subscribed to for a few weeks now.

This dish was a really interesting and filling vegetarian meal.

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I can’t give you the whole recipe for obvious reasons, but it basically consisted of pasta with a sauce made out of Parmesan and mascarpone cheese, combined with corn, cherry tomatoes, and basil.

I found the concept of putting mascarpone cheese on pasta to be very interesting and creative.  I actually had never cooked using mascarpone before, but I recognized its texture as it’s used in the filling of tiramisu, among other things.

I’m not really sure how this happened, but the corn they sent us was actually some of the best corn I’ve ever had.

Basically, you start out by heating up the corn in olive oil, with other seasonings:

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And then add the cherry tomatoes, along with fresh basil. IMG_1590

When everything is cooked down, you add combine the mixture with cooked pasta, along with the mascarpone and Parmesan cheese.  (The pasta they sent us was incredible as well and looked as though it had been made by hand).

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The interesting thing about this meal is that you could also probably just follow the first part of the recipe (aka the vegetable part) and serve it alone as a side.  It was pretty good on its own.

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We aren’t sure we are going to continue our subscription indefinitely.  With our schedules, it’s been hard to find time to cook together, which was kind of the point. The price is also a bit higher than we would want to pay in the long term.

But in the short term, the price has been worth it when you also factor in the fact that we are learning so much (at least, I am– R is a little more advanced than me).  I didn’t know what mascarpone cheese was prior to this recipe, and I also never would have thought to fry corn kernels and cherry tomatoes together in olive oil.

So that’s all for this recipe, but there are more to come!

Romina’s Homemade Pesto

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One of my cooking goals is to become more comfortable with the general principles of how things are made.   To be able to throw something together like pesto without having to check a recipe first, or to understand the ingredients well enough in order to figure out my own creative twists.

My roommate made an amazing pesto today.  She loosely followed a recipe from the Food Network, but improvised a little.  Obviously I can’t give you the whole recipe here due to copyright concerns, but I still documented the process so you can get the general idea!

So: We started with fresh basil from our lovely basil plant.

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Basically, the recipe involves throwing the basil into a blender along with cheese, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil.

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We used Parmesan cheese, although the recipe actually calls for pecorino cheese, which as I understand it is similar to Parmesan but a little sharper.  We’ll have to try that next time.

And then, we blended it:

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Voila.

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My Food and Cooking Goals

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To have a robust selection of recipes at my fingertips that are easy to make, with ingredients that aren’t hard to find.

To prepare delicious meals that tempt me to eat even when my digestive system isn’t feeling great.

–To feel as though I have plenty of options, even though I can’t eat too much lactose or too much fiber

–To eat healthy, well-rounded meals.

–To be environmentally responsible. This means buying local, organic food, and supporting companies with sustainable practices.

–To be ethical in my choices. This means buying from cruelty-free companies as much as I can, whether it’s cage-free eggs or cheese from cows not treated with hormones.

–To get better at planning meals and preparing food ahead of time. I’m a terrible cook if I wait until I’m hungry before I start preparing my food. I want to get more of a system in place so that I prepare food before I’m hungry, and before I’ve run out of ingredients.

–To know that I’m getting the best deal possible—to find the best prices for the more expensive items. To buy in bulk when possible.

–And even maybe to grow some of my own food, now that the weather’s finally warming up.

Just bought these...
Just bought these…

I hope you will come along with me on this journey!

*Top Photo Credit: epSos.de**