Friday, November 21, 2014

Get a mammogram, man!

In my previous post I talked about my recent annual check-up and all that changes when one starts rounding 50. I purposely left out one thing as I wanted to wait until some more information came my way.

There's a lump in my chest.
One of the benefits of Streamlined Ska Librarian lifestyle is that I'm seeing a new body unfold and appear after years of flab. But a decrease of flab also means I'm seeing things that may have long been hidden.

A few months ago I noticed a bump on my smaller, firmer chest (from man boobs to DAN boobs, I always say!). At first I assumed it might be a contusion of some sort. I'm sort of clumsy and sometimes the barbell or cable may hit me as I'm weight training. But then it never went away. Months later there's still a lump.

Just next to that little inked petal....

So, during my annual checkup, I point this out to my doctor. He pokes around, confirms my family cancer history (both sides, lots of breast cancer) and hands me a referral for a mammogram and ultrasound. "Make an appointment as soon as possible," he said (which was not what he said about getting a colonoscopy, so I noticed.)

Fun Fact #1: While breast cancer in women is over 100x more common than in men, there are still about 2,400 new cases in men each year.  (via the National Cancer Institute)

Yet another 1% of which one hopes to not be a part ...

It's shocking news to think you might have cancer. What would happen next? Would this blog be taken over by a whole new journey of my body?  I had one week between the check-up and the mammogram and I did the wrong thing. I made the rookie mistake:

I looked up stuff about the disease on the internet. 

And I'm a librarian! I should know better!

So this entire week, I read forums and research on treatment, side effects, mortality rates. It was not time well spent. All I could think about was that surgery and hormone therapy would make me lose my nipple and my libido, both of which I was very fond. Not to mention chemo, lymphedema, mestastasis, watching what friends and family went through...Basically I went down the hole I would have smacked someone else for doing. I was a wreck. And I began to think the worst.

And after a fitful and scary week, it was time for the exams.

Fun fact #2: Mammograms for men are ONLY covered by insurance if it's for diagnostic purposes (i.e. if you're symptomatic) and not just for check-ups. (via your insurance company of choice).

It is very odd going into a women's health area of a radiology center and being one of the only men. It turns out the other guys were there for other radiology issues, so I already felt very awkward. For the most part, the staff was great, although the forms to fill out were pretty much gender-specific and not really answerable. (Questions about pregnancy, lactation, the perky breast drawings to show where you had issues). At least it wasn't all pink!

The mammogram tech was wonderful. She walked me through everything, told me what she was doing, prodded and maneuvered me, felt the lump and marked it to make sure it was scanned, compared it to my other Dan-boob, and had a generally good attitude for someone who does a procedure associated with a nasty health issue. 

Fun fact #3: Mammograms hurt!!!  (via my man boobs)

Perhaps having more material to slap onto those plates would be easier, but my Streamlined pecs got squeezed and pressed so freaking hard. I have even more respect for women for doing this. All we men have to deal with is a finger up our butt to feel our prostate for less than a minute. Can you imagine if our little fellas got this treatment?

I'd give credit but it's been Pinterested so many times without a citation. Shame!

Anyway, that took about 30 minutes and then I returned to the waiting room half dressed for my sonogram.

Over 30 minutes later, the ultrasound tech called me in. She asked where my lump was. I showed her.

She looked at me derisively. "I don't feel anything," she snorted.
"Well, my doctor did or else I wouldn't be here," I responded.
She pressed around some more."Show me."
"Is that it?"
*snort* "That's all?"

All good feelings I had went out the window. THIS is how you treat someone coming in for a possibly scary diagnosis? Aren't most lesions and tumors only 2-3 cm.? Could you show SOME compassion?

She began the scan. "That looks like a lipoma. Lipo means FAT!" she said as she looked at my stomach.
"Well, better safe than sorry. I've had a giant cell tumor before, so even benign items need to be looked at." (And why am I defending the need to be here?)
"Stay here. Don't get dressed."
A few minutes later, she came back. "I'm giving it to the radiologist. I think you're fine. You can go."

Fun Fact #4: I looked up some reviews of this diagnostic center. All good except for the waiting and this one tech. I can only imagine what those pregnant women coming in for ultrasounds had to endure. ("THAT'S your baby? *snort*") (via Yelp)

But after all that, the radiologist confirmed with my primary doctor that it was indeed only a lipoma: a benign tumor of adipose tissue. My doctor wants to monitor it to see if excision will be necessary at a later date, or if there's any change to it's composition. But as of now, no surgery, no nipple or tattoo loss, nothing but relief!! And no major changes to our regularly scheduled blog theme!

But perhaps there's also a new found sense of awareness for my own chest. Breast cancer can hit men and those of us who come from breast cancer stricken families should check ourselves on a regular basis.

If nothing else comes from this, I make it my pledge to talk about this issue. Get checked. Do it. Do it now.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cheesy Diets and Sweet "Life" Choices

My annual physical used to be a non-event; check the BP and cholesterol, be appraised of how healthy I am now, talk about what may lie ahead...nothing special. But as I get older, it seems my body has begun to develop other issues...those along the "oh, you're just getting older" meme.

But these changes may have led to one mystery, that of my new gouty condition. My uric acid levels are way up (gout cause!), but it seems my Vitamin D levels are now really low, as well.

My doctor was not happy.

Hashing this out with my doctor, we realized that I have been getting mega dairy cravings for the past few months, something I never really had before. I mean, I am a fan of a piece of cheese & some fruit for dessert, but looking back on recent times, I've been scarfing large amounts of cheese, keffir, skyr, sour cream, Mexican crema, ice cream, get the idea.

And it turns out that excessive dairy products can increase the uric acid in your system which can lead to gout episodes. Which means my lack of Vitamin D meant more intake of Vitamin D rich foods which led to an increase in gout prone blood.

So have we found the culprit?
© Evan Dorkin

It's a good possibility, although there has been some research that a uric acid increase in and of itself may be responsible for Vitamin D deficiency among gout sufferers.

Which means my new found dairy addiction is purely based on my own shortcomings. Or getting unhealthy uric acid levels THEN led to dairy cravings, which is sad. Or maybe gout was just a bad timing sort of thing as I get older. (Age is also a common factor for Vitamin D decrease in the body, too).

So now I'm on Vitamin D supplements AND uric acid reducing drugs. Probably on both until...well, until forever. This sort of lifestyle change will get me so ready for my 50th year in 2015 (helped along by the referral the doctor gave me for my first colonoscopy. Yay!)

But I also look at this as another way of seeing that even "healthier" foods do not necessarily mean health.  Perhaps eating goat brie and yogurt is better than boxes of fudge, but it still comes down to portion control and sensible ways of eating. Thanks god I stayed away from the "fat free" cheeses, with all the added sugars and fillers.

Which brings me to my next rant. Chronic gout has meant my running activities have been way curtailed. This weekend, I finally managed to go out for a chilly 5K run, which felt great. But I came across a billboard for a product I hadn't heard of before this week: Coke Life.

I guess it's been on the shelves for a bit, but I don't tend to wander the soda aisles as of late. What gets me is that they're marketing this as a healthy drink and putting "cane sugar" in the same phrase as stevia, showing them both as natural, healthy ingredients.

OK, they both come from plants but "cane sugar" is SUGAR! YOU'RE DRINKING SUGAR! It is a processed product that isn't good for you in excessive amount! Is it healthier than high fructose corn syrup (which, technically, also comes from "natural ingredients")? Perhaps, but you're still drinking sugar water. You might as well just drink Coke non-Life (I won't even touch that one.)

Why do we continue to fall for this crap and why do they still try to push this on us like this? And in what world is sugar a "green" choice? If my toe wasn't all gouty, I'd get up and write an old man letter of complaint to the company.

But for now I'm just gonna cut back on the dairy. Because it's bad enough being grumpy from idiotic health marketing. Not being able to exercise or walk as I get older isn't gonna diffuse that grumpiness.

Who wants to buy some cheese?


Takahashi, Sumio, Tetsuya Yamamoto, Yuji Moriwaki, Zenta Tsutsumi, Jun-ichi Yamakita, and Kazuya Higashino. “Decreased Serum Concentrations of 1,25(OH)2-Vitamin D3 in Patients with Gout.” In Purine and Pyrimidine Metabolism in Man IX, edited by Andrea Griesmacher, Mathias M. Müller, and Peter Chiba, 57–60. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 431. Springer US, 1998.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Full on workouts lead to half assed research

Hmm, so in my last post, I did say I was not concentrating on the usual healthy paths to nutrition and "wonderful rainbows of advice" type of articles that have been the inspiration for much of this site.

Which means I've been reading less things that make me sputter so much that I have to blog.

I have thought about yet another blog makeover (this is,after all, the 3rd incarnation of this). Perhaps one that is more library-centric, but then again, this journey of Streamlined Ska Librarian is still a work in progress and therefore I guess I do have more to say, I just don't get pissed off as I usually do from research trolling....I mean trawling.

But much of my Streamlined concentration of late has been on the return to hardcore gym time:

To be fair, the music in the gym was much better back then...

And with the return to this much gym time is the return of annoyances at the gym. I had hoped to find some actual research and analysis of gym attitudes or issues of gym attendees. And while there's no shortage of general blogs and entertainment websites on gym personalities, it was a wash in finding something along the lines of a systematic literature review or meta-analysis.

I did find other interesting tidbits, such as a study on crisis or trauma as a motivation for regular gym use, and another one that (not surprisingly) shows that exercise improves body image, as opposed to actual body shape.

I guess I should take a cue from that positive reinforcement and not try to dwell, even in a scholarly way, on folks who might annoy me when I'm trying to get my work done. And it does sheepishly remind me that my looking for such research is exactly the sort of project plan I try to dissuade younger librarians from doing; Don't start a research project just to show something sucks. Try to formulate a more objective topic.

After all, we can all get along at the gym, if we just try...and perhaps wear mules and garnet earrings while doing it.


Appleton, Katherine M. “6 X 40 Mins Exercise Improves Body Image, Even Though Body Weight and Shape Do Not Change.” Journal of Health Psychology 18, no. 1 (January 1, 2013): 110–20. doi:10.1177/1359105311434756.

Stewart, Bob, and Aaron C.T. Smith. “The Significance of Critical Incidents in Explaining Gym Use amongst Adult Populations.” Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health 6, no. 1 (February 12, 2013): 45–61. doi:10.1080/2159676X.2013.766814.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A return to paid ass-whoopin'

So where have I been? Not really anywhere, but usually too pooped to actually get to bloggin'. And why is that? I've gone back to my trainer...or let me put that in a more dramatic way...

My trainer has come back to me!

It's an online version of what we've been doing previously, which is obviously helped by our past in-person experience. I know that I was sort of falling by the wayside on my workouts. Not that I didn't work up a sweat, but more that it was getting boring and I was losing focus. I needed to try something new or at least mix up the old. And while I could and did peruse various training sites, videos and magazines (thanks, Jack Lalanne!), I needed someone who knew my mindset; how I worked, what would push me farther and, of course, what injuries were already in/on/around my body.

And in just a little over a month, I have noticed the difference. There's definitely more of a solidness to me and the muscles are bigger. I haven't actually felt like I was really getting something out of weight training for some time. I was enjoying it, but I can't say I saw many changes as of late. But now the difference is noticeable, which sometimes makes me wonder just how hard we really think we work it when there's not someone watching over us.

And it is noticeable in that, even though I've been getting up at 5 AM to work out for a few years now, it's been a while since I've felt the absolute need to crash by 10 PM. I guess I am expending more energy.I am whooped.

As silly as it sounds, I take things much more seriously and honestly when I have to record my progress and report it to my trainer. I could easily fudge the numbers of weight and reps and duration when I use my trainer's app, but I don't. Maybe all this time I just needed approval? Hmmm...telling, but probably true.

But even my new found self-approval and newer pectoral growth haven't changed my weight much. And that's actually fine.I'm actually fitting into some snugger pants again, even though the scale is somewhat increasing. And studies show that waist circumference and abdominal obesity are the big issues to health, not just overall chunkiness and a high BMI. 

My BMI is definitely back up into the "above normal" range, even if only for the fact my shoulders and back have gained several inches. And the longer I go at this getting into shape thing, the more I find that BMI chart more annoying and sad.

So I'm saying goodbye to official dieting. I'm finally saying goodbye to some of constant diet perusal time online. Eating healthy is one thing, but trying to make my way through so much morass, both from posters and commenters, is getting harder. Maybe it just brings so many flashbacks of fat-shaming throughout my life, but man, people are nasty! 

I don't even have to link to any specific post, because a lovely, recent mixed methods analysis  on obesity in social media shows that a majority of postings are derogatory, negative and often misogynistic.  Blogs tend to be "more nuanced", although even humorous, supportive comments can get pretty gnarly. 

This is not to say I still won't be basing future blog posts on research about weight and nutrition, because I do find that research fascinating. But I'm seriously trying to move myself away from reading the nastier self-abuse out there on the topic. It's to easy to fall into that. 

People gotta play nice. Or my whooped, newly firm ass will kick yours!


Chou, Wen-ying Sylvia, Abby Prestin, and Stephen Kunath. “Obesity in Social Media: A Mixed Methods Analysis.” Translational Behavioral Medicine 4, no. 3 (September 1, 2014): 314–23. doi:10.1007/s13142-014-0256-1.

Ford ES, Maynard LM, and Li C. “Trends in Mean Waist Circumference and Abdominal Obesity among Us Adults, 1999-2012.” JAMA 312, no. 11 (September 17, 2014): 1151–53. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.8362.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Streamlined New Years - with pudding

We are coming upon the High Holy Days....time to begin our self-reflection as we begin a new year:

This time of year can be fraught with an overwhelming sense of guilt, responsibility, and yes, authenticity. Too often I find this time of year to be filled with a lot of judgement of others and not so much about one's self. And to me, that misses the point. 

There's certainly enough research out there to see that traditions change, morph and sometimes fizzle as we move forward. It doesn't mean it's any less authentic, but rather a statement of how we can best fit important messages into our lives. 

It's like how I feel about fad diets. Why throw out everything you know about eating, when the basics are already there, just maybe ignored? 

So, whether or not you actually do observe this time of year and whether or not you identify with doing anything for it, I thought I'd once again delve into the traditions and see if I can make of them.

After last year's recipe for honey cookies, I decided to stay far away from traditional honey cake as possible. And for some reason, I've been craving pudding. So I went with it. 

This time, the recipe is entirely from the Streamlined Ska Librarian's imagination. I've never made pudding, let alone a rather nontraditional flavor like apple-honey, so there were a lot of experiments and tweaks. And even though I wanted that pudding siliness, I decided it needed some crunch in the end, so I quickly sauteed-carmelized some apple slices for the top. You could go the whipped cream or fruit route, or even chocolate chips. 

And yes, this recipe contains corn starch, honey and dairy products (albeit low-fat milk and skyr), but I also use unsweetened applesauce (nothing but apples!) which doesn't need a huge amount of sweetening as a dessert. And anyway, portions are portions and a sweet Rosh Hashana treat can be just the thing you need to set you on the path for the rest of the year.

The Streamlined Ska Librarian's Rosh Hashana Apple - Honey Pudding (serves 6)

1  cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
1 TBS cinnamon
1 TBS cardamom
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp all spice
2 TBS ground ginger
1 cup water, buttermilk, yogurt or cream (I use Siggi's Filmjölk)
siggi's filmjölk
siggi's filmjölk
3 egg yolks
1 qt 2% milk
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup + 2 TBS honey
1 cup brown sugar
1 TBS vanilla 
1 apple
1 TBS butter
splash mirin (optional) 
extra cinammon, cardamom, etc. to taste

1. Combine cornstarch, salt and spices in a bowl 
2. Add liquid until a well mixed slurry is produced. (Add additional water if needed)
3. Beat the three yolks and add to the cornstarch mixture
4. In a fairly large saucepan, heat the applesauce, 3/4 cup honey and sugar over medium until combined.
5. Add the milk to the applesauce mixture. Heat until it just begins to bubble.
5. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 3/4 of the milk mixture into the egg-cornstarch slurry. It should be well combined, a bit frothy, but still totally liquid.
6. Pour this mix back into the saucepan and start whisking at a steady pace. In about 2-3 minutes it should start to thicken. 

Just like this...

7. Add vanilla and taste to see if more spices are needed.
8. Keep whisking for about 5-10 minutes until the pudding is smooth and thick. Do NOT let it boil.
9. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap if you're one of those people to hates pudding skin.
(It may take quite some time to cool. Don't put it in the fridge until it's completely cool).
10. When ready to serve, slice apple and sautee in a pan with butter,  remaining honey and mirin. Add spices when cooked.

11. Let cool slightly and place on top of each serving of pudding.

And the result?

Mmm...mmm! Atonement will be a breeze after this!

L'Shanah Tovah, y'all!


Liu, Joseph. “A Portrait of Jewish Americans.” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, October 1, 2013.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Like broccoli in a brownie

One of the research links in the previous post addressed how one's tastes are more or less set at a young age. Which may account for my less than favorable opinions of peas.
Stupid peas...think they're so special!
It's funny, because I do love pea soup, I adore sauteed pea greens, and I don't mind throwing a handful of peas into a dish for some crunch or color (such as last week's Ancho Carbonara). But a serving of peas with a meal? Meh. I'd rather not.

But I know why this is. Peas were the one ubiquitous vegetable at dinner when I was growing up. We always had other veggies, too, but my dad insisted on peas, almost every night. And unlike much of my parent's other food "experiments" with recipes doomed to scare small children, peas were always served as is: defrosted from a bag and then put on our plates. 

This may speak more to the fact that my mom probably didn't care too much about them and my dad only wanted them as is. They weren't presented as tasty. Merely mandatory. 

And even though I was a surprisingly picky eater, I did scarf down other vegetables. Brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, carrots ... yes, please. But peas...I'd hide them in my napkin.

So it should not be surprising that, as an adult, I rarely if ever have peas in the house, nor do I go out of my way to order them in restaurants. It's not like I hate them. They just don't come up in my list of foods to think about. 

Sorry, peas.

Around the same time as my napkin hiding escapades, came a product that was supposed to handle such an issue: I Hate Peas.

These were basically vegetables reconstituted with potatoes (and other ingredients) to make french fries.  And they came in other vegetable flavors, too.


(I had hoped to find the TV Commercial online, but no dice.)  

Even back then, I thought this was a bad idea. Really? French fries as a substitute for everything? 

Now I can really see that my parent's feeding habits of us kids helped me be open to trying most everything. That is especially apparent watching some adult friends and acquaintances who avoid certain groups of foods altogether. It's one thing to not like a a particular food's taste or texture (I was married to someone who hated the pulp of tomatoes. I'm currently dating someone who does not like the taste of cucumbers. We manage.) It's entirely something else to meet folks into their 30s and 40s who won't eat any vegetables or fresh fruit because they find them all "icky".

And I believe these were the people who were probably snuck their "healthy" foods into their "regular" meals. And that's not so unique. You can find tons of blogs about it, so much so that other bloggers have complained about it. (In-fighting among the foodies!)

Even scientific studies have shown that both scientists and moms felt that "stealth veggie-ing" was the effective way to introduce healthy energy-dense food to youngsters.      

But then we end up with folks who only eat deep fried greens and perpetuate this madness by following Jerry Seinfeld's wife into hiding broccoli in your cupcakes.

So, much as I don't often say it...thanks, Mom and Dad, for serving me those awful peas every meal, along with the strangely crisp eggplants, the home made sushi and "crepe night." Without all that, we wouldn't have the Streamlined Ska Librarian recipes we see today.

Stupid peas....


Caton, Samantha J., Sara M. Ahern, and Marion M. Hetherington. “Vegetables by Stealth. An Exploratory Study Investigating the Introduction of Vegetables in the Weaning Period.” Appetite, Feeding infants and young children: guidelines, research and practice, 57, no. 3 (December 2011): 816–25. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2011.05.319.

“Dear Ninja Vegetable Mom: You’re Raising Kids Wrong.” Accessed September 14, 2014.

Spill, Maureen K., Leann L. Birch, Liane S. Roe, and Barbara J. Rolls. “Hiding Vegetables to Reduce Energy Density: An Effective Strategy to Increase Children’s Vegetable Intake and Reduce Energy Intake.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 94, no. 3 (September 1, 2011): 735–41. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.015206.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Failing homemakers, or Spice up that Carbonara!

The other day I cooked with goat's milk. It wasn't any definitive recipe or attempt at being more "organic" or "natural" (Goats aren't exactly wandering around downtown Manhattan), but I was in the dairy aisle, it was on sale in half a liter size containers , and I felt like trying it.

The results were tasty, although I can't say for sure goat's milk lent that final piece of specialness. And the results certainly weren't any healthier because a goat was involved.

And then there was this bit of experimentation: Ancho Whole Wheat Carbonara

Mmmm...that's a spicy pasta!

Not as light as my fluffy dinner balls, but a pretty amazing piece of work. In fact, here's the recipe:

The Streamlined Ska Librarian's Ancho Whole Wheat Carbonara
(Serves 2-4, depending on portion needs)

2-3 dried ancho chiles
1 cup boiling water
1/2 pound smoked bacon, chopped into pieces (or other smoked not-too-lean meat)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
Apple Cider Vinegar
Chicken Stock
3 eggs
1 cup half & half (or other fatty dairy milk product)
1 cup Asiago cheese, grated
Salt & pepper to taste (depending on meat choices, you may need extra salt).
1/2 lb whole wheat pasta

1. Stem and seed chiles, place in bowl and pour boiling water over to cover. Let steep for at least 15 minutes
2. Puree chiles (with water)  in processor until smooth
3. Sautee the bacon pieces until crispy. Drain on paper towel.
4. In same pan, add olive oil, corn, peas, onion and garlic. Sautee until beginning to brown. Deglaze pan with vinegar and stock. Keep flame on low and stir veggies occasionally.
5. In separate bowl,  beat, eggs, half & half, 1/2 cup cheese and chile puree until mixed.
6. Boil pasta until just al dente.
7. Drain pasta (saving some of the water). Put pasta back in pot. Add veggies, bacon and egg-chile mixture and stir until incorporated. Add a few spoons of pasta water if needed.
8. Top with rest of cheese, pepper and salt, if needed.

(and for dessert, there was goat's milk pudding!)

It's been a while since I've put something like this together on a weeknight. I realize that's one of the possible upsides of my recent cohabitation: I'm willing to cook more elaborately because someone else is doing all the dishes! And this recipe does leave a lot of stuff to be washed.

It is definitely the drudgery of domesticity which can prevent a lot of more "home spun" creations. It's time consuming, it can be economically unfeasible and sometimes just not pleasant.

Which is why I am once again rolling my eyes at Michael Pollan and his call for the "old fashioned" ways. In the past few years, he's been touting that home-cooked meals eaten with the family are what's truly missing from our lives now and blame is placed solely on those modern thinking housewives. (I've ranted about his smug attitude before). 

I love cooking. I even love healthy Streamlined cooking. I love the sense of creating and sharing something out of food, even if it's just for my own gullet. But when I've worked 12 hours and still want to get some stress relieving exercise in the mix and have to clean the house, do homework, and yes, write this blog, well then, I'm not above going the less than "made from scratch" route. Or even a pizza or pannini from down the street.  

A recent study did show that perhaps the decrease in household maintenance has contributed to decrease in energy expenditure which one can try to correlate to an increase in obesity. Although it doesn't really take into account that perhaps energy is being expended elsewhere. 

But is that what we're looking for? Women who do nothing but chop wood, milk cows, mill grain, and start cooking the meal at 5 AM so we can have dinner? I think most modern working mothers (at whom Pollan seems to be aiming) really do not have time for this crap. Even my mother, she of Julia Child influence and natural "treats," didn't always make her own tofu and pickle her own crab-apples from our backyard tree. She had better things to do.

A recent sociology-anthropolgy study on this topic takes Pollan to task:

"While Pollan and others wax nostalgic about a time when people grew their own food and sat around the dinner table eating it, they fail to see all of the invisible labor that goes into planning, making, and coordinating family meals. Cooking is at times joyful, but it is also filled with time pressures, tradeoffs designed to save money, and the burden of pleasing others"

Basically, we have been creating ways to ease the burden of much our worklife, but it's supposedly bad when we then deny this nostalgic view among those who can afford to have said nostalgia. 

Yes, you shouldn't just shovel fast food at the family for dinner all the time. There are studies that show that kids' tastes start early, so healthier dishes and fruits and vegetables thrown in between the mac and cheese dinners might make for better choices as they get older.  

But we're not in Donna Reed land anymore. Even Donna Reed wasn't in that land:

OK, enough award-winning "bad girl" roles, Miss Reed. Those radishes aren't going to rosette themselves!

So, Mr. Pollan, go try working for drudge wages and see if you still want to pluck your own ducks before starting the home made croquembouche. The rest of us have reality to deal with. 

Experiment in the kitchen. Just don't chain yourself to it.


Archer, Edward, Robin P. Shook, Diana M. Thomas, Timothy S. Church, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, James R. Hébert, Kerry L. McIver, Gregory A. Hand, Carl J. Lavie, and Steven N. Blair. “45-Year Trends in Women’s Use of Time and Household Management Energy Expenditure.” PLoS ONE 8, no. 2 (February 20, 2013): e56620. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056620.

Bowen, Sarah, Sinikka Elliott, and Joslyn Brenton. “The Joy of Cooking?” Contexts 13, no. 3 (August 1, 2014): 20–25. doi:10.1177/1536504214545755.

Louis, Catherine Saint. “Childhood Diet Habits Set in Infancy, Studies Suggest.” The New York Times, September 2, 2014.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Accountability or just plain ol' fat shaming?

I know I usually start my blog posts with a jaunty introduction about something in my life, but then I was checking up on the website of Registered Dietitian Aaron Flores and he posted about this video:

I am so disgusted, I can't even be jaunty. 

I know we need to take accountability for our actions in life. And yes, it shows the "body" in question avoiding too much exercise and eating a lot of cake. Mmmm...cake.

And yet for all this lack of moving and hidden stash binge eating (that was a trigger for me) and endless huge meals, it was this guy's mother's fault for enabling this lifestyle! The shame! Fast food and juice for infants! You ruined your baby, mommy!

Look, my mom forced me to eat home-made granola and foods from The Vegetarian Epicure and Recipes for Small Planet. In other words, healthy, hippie food. And I still ended up with binging on hidden candy stashes, giving up on exercise, and tipping the scale at 300 lbs. in my 30s. 

Giving your kid french fries isn't the sole reason he dies of a heart attack.

In fact, studies show that parents trying to set more stringent dietary rules on their kids end up with more eating disorders AND obesity issues. 

Then again, you can blame it on television. Or the school system. Or anyone else who you need to place shame upon. 

In other words, its a rich tapestry of reasons as to why we might be obese and suffer from health issues because of it. And by shaming both the obese person and their might as well be blaming them for the economy, too. It doesn't help. In fact, I can only imagine it will make it worse, because you're making the situation worse. You're not asking or helping people take accountability. You're just abusing them for having birthday cake.


Which reminds me of THIS video, which is meant as a joke, but I think covers what the ad is trying to convey in a much better fashion and far more truthfully:

The answer is try to be healthy. Work on it and own it. I can certainly blame my parents for a ton of things, but my current weight and health are my responsibility alone.

Carter R. “The Impact of Public Schools on Childhood Obesity.” JAMA 288, no. 17 (November 6, 2002): 2180–2180. doi:10.1001/jama.288.17.2180-JMS1106-6-1.
Clark, H. R., E. Goyder, P. Bissell, L. Blank, and J. Peters. “How Do Parents’ Child-Feeding Behaviours Influence Child Weight? Implications for Childhood Obesity Policy.” Journal of Public Health 29, no. 2 (June 1, 2007): 132–41. doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdm012.
Flores, Aaron. “Balance Variety and Moderation RDN: Childhood Obesity PSA - The Completely Wrong Message.” Balance Variety and Moderation RDN, August 14, 2014.
Klesges, Robert C., Mary L. Shelton, and Lisa M. Klesges. “Effects of Television on Metabolic Rate: Potential Implications For Childhood Obesity.” Pediatrics 91, no. 2 (February 1, 1993): 281–86.
Robinson, Thomas N., Michaela Kiernan, Donna M. Matheson, and K. Farish Haydel. “Is Parental Control over Children’s Eating Associated with Childhood Obesity? Results from a Population-Based Sample of Third Graders.” Obesity Research 9, no. 5 (May 1, 2001): 306–12. doi:10.1038/oby.2001.38.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Happy fluffy dinner balls

[No references, just a recipe]

It's just been a wacky week. Along with gout recovery, we're finally getting repairs done on the apartment. Repairs that were needed from Superstorm Sandy. And of course, some of the "simpler" fixes have turned into multi-day event dramas:

I just wanna take a shower!
So between work obligations, dealing with maintenance men and having newish pets still acclimating to each other (and said maintenance men), all of a sudden it's 6 PM and dinner has to be on the table. 

What's a streamlined ska librarian to do?

Thankfully we had some ground turkey, and meatballs are usually quick, but I wanted to kick them up a bit and still keep them healthy. I had some yams, egg whites and tons of spices. And then I added a little molasses for contrast and taste and also to help create some caramelization. They were very light and barely solid, but I didn't want to go the flour route, so I threw in a little corn meal.

The result?

Not the best photo but I'll leave that to the "foodies"
They were amazingly fluffy and wonderfully fragrant with just the right molasses crust on the bottom. Paired with a little sauerkraut cooked in a sherry-sour cream sauce and fresh tomatoes with zataar....perfection after a stressful day!

The Streamlined Ska Librarian's Fluffy Spicy Meatballs
(Serves 4-6)

1 lb. ground turkey
3 TBS. Tandoori spice blend (I buy mine from my local fave, Dual Specialty Store.)
2 tsps. minced garlic
1 TBS. dried ginger
2 TBS. molasses
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups cooked sweet potato or yam
1/2 cup corn meal

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. In large bowl, combine all ingredients until well blended
3. Form into balls about 1 1/2 to 2 in in diameter
4. Place on oiled baking pan
5. Bake until done (about 30-45 min.)

Monday, August 4, 2014

What's Next...Lumbago?

This post took longer than expected. In fact, it was supposed to be about another topic and released before the end of last month. But then I developed gout. Yes, you read that right. And, boy, was it not pleasant!

The gout james gillray
There is no exaggeration to this image.(Via Wikimedia Commons)

I find it ironic that during my Retro Ska Librarian Lifestyle (aka Sedentary, Binge Eating Unhealthy Diet Life of Dan), this never happened. But a few years into Streamlined, Leafy Green, Daily Workout Ska Librarian Life of Dan .... hot poker glass shard demons jam into my bunion joint.

I'm hoping this was a one time event and not a chronic condition. And forcing myself to spend several days immobile with my foot up has once again made me realize how much I really need and want to move on a daily basis.

(What's also fascinating is finding out how many of my friends are gout sufferers. Who knew this persnickety affliction affected so many? I guess I know a better class of people than I thought!)

I tried to avoid too many fitness and nutrition websites during my recovery, lest I get too antsy, but I did start falling back to the Nutrition Blog Network, figuring my RD "colleagues of another terminal degree" might give me some interesting recipe ideas. And from that website, I came across this recent post from Dietitian Without Borders on "How to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day".

And here I can only walk zero! *sob*

But it did give me an idea for a blog post. All those steps...

I see a lot of friends and colleagues with the FitBit bracelet nowadays. Interestingly enough, many of these were gifts to these people from loved ones. Nothing like passive-aggressively telling someone to move more...

Don't get me wrong. I think it's great if you want to keep track of moving. And, as that aforementioned link shows, it's something we should probably all be doing in simple easy ways. I see it in the same vein as calorie-tracking, which I'm sure will get me in trouble, as that seems no longer a supportable choice for weight loss and maintenance. 

But I look at it as a template. I can see calorie levels and get a better understanding of portion control, even if not I'm not following calorie counting to the exact digit. And knowing that 10,000 steps is equivalent to 5 miles, well that can give you a better sense of how much you should really be moving. And when these FitBit and similar apps show you how much you actually move ... I'm sure it's an eye opener.

But many of my NYC pals using these apps (gouty or no) find it funny that they tend to go way past the limit of steps per day pretty early on each morning. That's because we live in a city where walking is just something you do, even during motorized commutes:

Subway, New York.  Step Lively... Digital ID: 836141. New York Public Library
It really hasn't changed all that much via NYPL Digital Gallery

We are a walkable city. It's been measured. Evidently, and not surprisingly, my NYC neighborhood has a walkability score of 100. Of, course, you can look at it from the other side: 3 or out 4 gas stations in the neighborhood closed in the past few years and there's no parking without a huge cost. And not that walkability always signifies a good thing to urban planners. You can look at the research that shows financial status can play a much bigger role in walkability as opposed to all other markers. (i.e. If you can't afford to drive, you won't).  This report that shows a correlation between high walkability and higher crime rates.

But that's not taking into account a place like NYC. We just move more.We sort of have to. 

So, lot's of walking, better diet ... was I a candidate for this dreaded "disease of kings?" Could I have done everything to prevent this issue? Slept more and eat even better? This study showed that while those people who slept less tended to eat for a longer period throughout the day, they did not intake more calories than those who slept longer. That doesn't quite take into account those of us binge eaters. Longer hours awake may mean more opportunities to binge. And this one showed that a low glycemic diet (in a controlled test) did show a lowering of weight, but did not really decrease inflammation, as it was thought it might. Although I'm pretty much already in the low GI fruit eating group anyway.

No, it may have just been fate that did me in.It was also pointed out that stress could have been a factor. So even with extra walking and good eating, I'm not sure I could have escaped this pain.

If it does come back (and man, I certainly do hope it does NOT), I just need to be more aware of the situations and how it might be better controlled. And I think that means being more aware, but also getting back to taking of advantage of this oh so walkable, moveable city of mine. It may not have made me the healthiest young adult, but it always has the potential to get you moving more:

Men and boys playing paddleball, Cincinnati, Ohio, circa 1950
Believe it or not, I even played this when I was a Retro fella. Via The Center for Jewish History on Flickr


Carr, Lucas J., Shira I. Dunsiger, and Bess H. Marcus. “Walk ScoreTM As a Global Estimate of Neighborhood Walkability.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 39, no. 5 (November 2010): 460–63. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2010.07.007.

“How to Walk 10000 Steps a Day.” Dietitian without Borders. Accessed August 4, 2014.

Juanola-Falgarona, Martí, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Núria Ibarrola-Jurado, Antoni Rabassa-Soler, Andrés Díaz-López, Marta Guasch-Ferré, Pablo Hernández-Alonso, Rafael Balanza, and Mònica Bulló. “Effect of the Glycemic Index of the Diet on Weight Loss, Modulation of Satiety, Inflammation, and Other Metabolic Risk Factors: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 100, no. 1 (July 1, 2014): 27–35. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.081216.

Kant, Ashima K., and Barry I. Graubard. “Association of Self-Reported Sleep Duration with Eating Behaviors of American Adults: NHANES 2005–2010.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, September 1, 2014, ajcn.085191. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.085191.

Manaugh, Kevin, and Ahmed El-Geneidy. “Validating Walkability Indices: How Do Different Households Respond to the Walkability of Their Neighborhood?” Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment 16, no. 4 (June 2011): 309–15. doi:10.1016/j.trd.2011.01.009.