Tag Archives: health

The Definition of Busy

11 Jun

The definition of busy: finalizing the galley of a soon-to-be published manuscript and working toward completion of another; end-of-semester mad dash to grade/submit grades/make syllabi & lesson plans for summer courses; a (wonderful/hectic/roller-coaster) 10-day visit from my from E.; a visit to my husband’s dad’s amazing lake house on Livingston in Trinity; and a recent health scare.

I’ve come out of it alright, though, with a little help from my food.  In recent years, I’ve discovered the incredible joy of cooking and yes, eating.  I’ve become somewhat of a foodie and have loved incorporating words like quinoa and papaya into my regular vocabulary.  I also love finding new recipes and talking at length with my friend K. who is my go-to about all things cooking (she is is a cook for Whole Foods and assists in teaching cooking classes at Sur la Table).

I’ve discovered so many new things related to food, lately: the great food and concept of Houston’s Ruggles Green, how much sodium we take in every day without realizing it (the average person should consume less than 2400 mg a day, yet with the average canned soup having 900 mg, bread 260 per slice in some cases, and don’t get me started on drive-throughs, we exceed that often before dinner), quinoa, the joys of having a colorful fridge.  I could go on and on.

I’ve always tried to be a healthy eater, but I’m so often mindless about what I put in my body.  After this past week when it looked like I might have had a previously undiagnosed heart condition, I had my wake-up call.  Even though it seems for now that I’m in the clear, my body is very salt-sensitive and has some difficulty processing sodium and calcium, which can lead to a stiffening of the blood vessels and fluctuations in blood pressure.  I have to monitor my BP/heart rate twice a day for two more weeks and record it all in a journal for a follow-up appointment.

The idea that I might be sick and might have to take meds really made me angry.  I have no risk factors that one would expect: I’m not overweight, I have no family history of heart disease, I generally eat healthy (fruits and veggies every day and lots of whole grains), I take my vitamins.  But still, this wasn’t enough.  Salt was the culprit, which is funny because I hate salt.  I have never been one to add salt to anything.  However, I love Chik-fil-a’s grilled chicken sandwiches.  I love a good salt & vinegar chip from time to time.  I love soup and well, you get the picture.  All of these things (and so much more: read your ingredients — it’s scary) add up over time and if you are a salt-intolerant person, it can really hurt you out of nowhere.

This week I made a drastic change: goodbye salt offenders (including you, beloved Chik-fil-a) and hello healthy eating/healthy living.  I carefully examine each thing that I buy or each recipe I make.  If it’s under 300mg per meal, I make it.  I don’t buy prepared foods.  Nothing in a box or a bag and certainly not in a can.  Is this a pain?  At first, yes, but I like knowing exactly what I’m putting into my body.  I like the relationship I’m building between myself and food — one that enjoys the pleasures of color, of experimentation, of being able to actually taste the subtleties of a dish.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming, nor does it mean that you have to go all-out vegan.  Here are a few recipes I’ve made this week that are both delicious and low in sodium (and fat):

Chicken and Garlic Potatoes

Creamy Tarragon Chicken Salad (use the leftover chicken from above as a shortcut)

Earl Grey Sorbet (I used the Cuisinart Classic Ice Cream Maker)

Creamy Primavera

Grilled Lamb Burgers (use whole wheat buns or pitas)

Farfalle with Mushrooms & Spinach

One final joy that I’ve discovered (which is more on the drinking side rather than eating or cooking) is Cupcake Vineyard’s Red Velvet.  First off, how amazing is that name?!  Cupcake Vineyard!  When my husband showed it to me this evening in Whole Foods, I fell in love right away.  The wine is a blend of 47% Zinfandel, 29% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Petite Sirah grapes and tastes like a blend of berries and mocha, sort of what you would expect from a wine called Red Velvet.  While I’m not a frequent drinker (and barely even an infrequent drinker), I bought a bottle of this for dinner tomorrow night.   It’s also rather cheap: it’s on sale for $9.99 this week at Whole Foods.  Don’t turn your nose up at the price, either.  Just try it.  Pair it with your lamb burgers or rich dessert.  Just don’t pass the salt.