Public Health? Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

ABA Close UpDe do do do, de da da da. Entering the Brooklyn subway on a sunny day. But what’s this? A public health message? Move in closer….img_1921

Okay, I see. Big Soda is paying the MTA to endear us to their products, disguised of healthful advice. This ad is sponsored by the group that represents Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper. (I miss Mayor Bloomberg.)
Public Health Indeed!

That was fours days ago. Then. today I woke up to this article in the New York Times: Coke and Pepsi Give Millions to Public Health, Then Lobby Against it. Ah, the public health part.

But these articles, also ripped from today’s headlines, put another spin on “public health”:

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (“The Academy”), the professional organization of registered dietitians in which I once held leadership positions, accepts (a lot of) sponsorship from Big Food. That’s why I am no longer a member. They have sullied my name and so they must be renounced. My dietitian friends will tell you, the phrase “The Academy” always evokes the response, “I hate them.”

Personally, I favor a soda tax (and everything else that can be done to reform our sick brand Capitalism.) I neither drink soda nor eat processed food. (Bread is about as processed as it gets.) I’ve written about why I favor a soda tax in the blog posts listed below.

Your thoughts: How can we stop this?

Double-Double Gratitude, Happy Thanksgivukkah!

A Turkey-shaped Challah

A Turkey-shaped Challah

This year, I think I’ll celebrate Thanksgiving in a Jewish home because I don’t want to miss out on Thanksgivukkah. That’s the pop culture portmanteau neologism for the first day of Hanukkah that falls on Thanksgiving this year. (Such a phrase! Oy, the fun!)

This is the first and only Thanksgivukkah in our lifetimes. The next one is 70,000 years from now. Since both holidays are about giving thanks, it’s double-double gratitude happy happy joy joy, 2X the love.

The Thanksgivukkah Meal

A Thanksgivukkah menu combines the best foods from both holidays: Manizchewitz-brined turkey….challah stuffing….pumpkin pie with caraway and seeds in the crust. The Internet is a cornucopia of creative and healthy Thanksgivukkah recipes. My favorites are from Christine Byrne for BuzzFeed who has nine original recipes that combine the best foods from both holidays for us. I am considering these recipes:

Your thoughts, Will you be celebrating Thanksgivukkah? What’s for dinner? 

Squatters Get Free Subway Rides

Subway Squat

This is right up my alley. I ride the subway, I worship squats, and I’m all over free stuff. The proof is in my archives:
Do You Know (How to) Squat?
If You See Something Say Something
3 Degrees of Separation from Snackman
Cock-a-Leekie Soup and Free Yogurt

And so, you can imagine my excitement when I read the headline today:

—-   Russian Commuters Can Earn Free Subway Ticket by Doing Squats   —-

The news is that the Russian Committee for the 2014 Winter Olympics (in Russia) came up with a cool promotion for one month. They are giving away a free travel ticket to anyone who does thirty squats. How clever is that? And look at how easy it was to set up the ticket machine:

If this is another Space Race, then Russia is beating us for supremacy in physical fitness, public health and public relations campaigns. Our subway stunts don’t promote healthy behavior. Do you remember when Heineken Took Over the NYC MTA? You know, I’m going to email Mike Bloomberg, Michelle Obama, and Stephen Colbert too right now.

Your thoughts: Should Americans get free subway tickets for doing squats?

A Fire Escape Herb Garden

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Fire Escape Herb Garden in August

Fire Escape Herb Garden in August

Naysayers, I know it’s illegal. But, in case of fire, toss the pots and run.

Everyone else, I thought you might like to see what can grow in a 3′ X 3′ space fire escape in the city.

This year, there is spearmint, chives, flat parsley, lemon grass, Italian oregano, culinary thyme, rosemary, Genovese sweet basil, spicy globe basil, morning glory, nasturtium, euphorbia, a dwarf Japanese maple tree, and self-seeded red-orange impatiens and a heirloom black cherry-tomato. The mint and chives reappear every year.

At the risk of sounding like Martha Stewart, I love cooking with fresh herbs. Yum, flavor! Yippee, disease-fighting antioxidants! And a way to use less salt. Here’s a little Guide to Using Fresh Herbs from the Cooperative Extension offices at the Universities of Nebraska and New Jersey (Rutgers), your tax dollars at work.

At my place August means it’s all-pesto-all-the-time (add a little lemon to keep it green) and Insalata Caprese, as well as mint syrup in beverages, rosemary vinegar, and assorted herbs in every salad, stew and roasted dish.

Your thoughts, How do you cook with fresh herbs?

The Quinoa Standard

Liza and QuinoaGreetings from the planet we call Brooklyn, where the peeps can’t get enough of healthy (organic, gluten free) food. Look at my daughter, Liza, standing alongside of 130 pounds or so of quinoa. At $10 for a 26-ounce bag no less. A picture says it better than words.

Quinoa, a seed not a grain, is a wonderful source of complete protein, providing all of the essential amino acids. It is also a good source of dietary fiber and a host of other nutrients. It made the Incas thrive. But that’s an awful lot for the USA..

Furthermore, we happen to be in a grocery store in Crown Heights, a once posh residential neighborhood that took a deep dive in the 1960s, but is now coming back. I guess quinoa is an economic indicator. Invest with confidence in a quinoa-forward neighborhood.

Here are some quinoa recipes from Cooking Light: Cooking with Quinoa: 22 Recipes

Your thoughts: Do you eat quinoa?

Hey Brooklyn, What’s in Your Lunch Bag?

brooklynlicious_tote_bagMary:     Why am I doing this? No one begins a TV career at my age.
Brian:    Not so. There’s Judge Judy.
Mary:     Okay. That’s true.

For what it’s worth, that conversation took place on July 10th outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It’s three subway stops from my home.  While the cameraman filmed, I asked regular people on the way to work to let me peek into their lunch bags. It was spontaneous and unrehearsed. You get what you pay for.

“Brian” is Brian Vines (BTW: He drinks half portions of soda at the movies now) of Brooklyn Independent TV. He called to ask what I though about developing a pilot based on what Brooklynites eat for lunch. (Actually, the cameraman’s wife, a Brooklyn foodie, thought the idea would make a good show.) I told Brian to add a few questions to put the lunch choices in context, and suddenly, I was the one asking the questions.

One week later, Amy Sarah Clark from the Prospect Heights Patch posted this on my Mary Hartley RD Facebook timeline:
“I saw your piece at the BRIC media thing today, it was fantastic! Congratulations!”
(Translation: “BRIC media thing” had to do with an event, presentations, and the pilot.)

Really? Sweet! Thanks you! Maybe I should see it. Maybe you should see it too.     

Mary Hartley, RD Asks Brooklyn, “What’s in Your Lunch Bag?”  

Those Brooklynites couldn’t be healthier! Everybody carries produce and no bacon was found. Brooklyn should show the rest of the country how it’s done. As for me, I could be a correspondent, like Ross the Intern. I will even prepare for pay.

Your thoughts:  Do you agree that the lunch idea would make a good show?

Rethinking Soda at the Movies

soda at the MoviesSince I choose to do those things that amuse me most, I find myself in lots of crazy places. A few weeks ago, I was a guest on Brooklyn Independent Television’s show, Intersect, talking about Mayor Bloomberg’s sugary drink limit with host Brian Vines and fellow guest Andrew Rigie of the NYC Hospitality Alliance. At minute 23:05, I talk Brian Vine out of thinking big portions of soda at the movies are a bargain. Here is our conversation:

BV:   I was just at the movies two weeks ago and split a, what had to be a 60-ounce something, between the two of us. The thing was gone, and this was the debate we had afterwards, that if the mayor would have had his thing, we would’ve had to buy two drinks – and I believe in my health, but I more than that, I am cheaper than I am healthy – so we would have had to buy two different drinks to get the same thing, but we wouldn’t even be allowed to buy the thing if this law passed. So it hits you in the pocketbook because cheap food is usually bad food…
MH:   That’s not food. DON’T CALL THAT FOOD!
BV:   What is it then? It’s empty calorie things….
MH:   It’s empty calorie stuff. You cannot compare….
BV:   Cheap drinks. It’s enjoyment. It’s cheaper though….
MH: Well, for instance, I’m a fun gal, but one thing about me is I do not order anything at the movies. I have unhooked the idea that sitting in a movie means eating. Talk about cheap! I’m not going to that concession stand. I’m not buying any of that stuff!
BV: It’s relative. (laugh)
MH: So let’s get it all straightened out, okay, and that’s what the dialogue is about. It’s testing those ideas people have: “I need my soda!”  Well, why do you need your soda?
BV: Thank you for unhooking me, because it’s not cheap. Soda isn’t cheap at the movies.

Your thoughts: Will Brian Vine quit drinking soda at the movies?

The Cleansing Power of Dayenu

THANXNo, it’s not a laundry detergent. It’s a song I learned at my first Passover Seder two weeks ago, and now I can’t get it out of my head – which is a good thing. Dayenu is a traditional Passover song about being grateful to God for the gifts he gave the Jewish people. For 15 stanzas, the leader says something or other and we, the audience, respond with “Dayenu.” “Dayenu” means one gift would have been enough.
“If he had split the sea for us…It would have been enough for us.”
“If He had led us through on dry land…It would have been enough for us.”
The song is surprisingly upbeat despite its woeful subject matter.

And so It’s All Dayenu All the Time for me. Honestly, the concept that taken over my brain. I lie in bed, wake up, and I think, “I am so comfortable here on this memory foam mattress.…it would have been enough.…my pillow is perfect too….it would have been enough….and the light is so beautiful streaming in through the window.…it would have been enough.… It makes it easy to be thankful for every single thing.

The other day, my friend, the Passover hostess, who lives around the corner said, “Let’s meet on the sidewalk.” I thought to have a friend who lives around the corner…it would have been enough.…to meet on a brand-new sidewalk….it would have been enough….to face a beautiful museum….it would have been enough….on such a sunny day….it would have been enough….

Somehow, I don’t think the Scholars of The Torah had this in mind – but it works for me. Saying Dayenu has a cleansing effect that I can feel. Gratitude changes us on a cellular level. When we feel thankful, our cells transmit chemicals that enhance our nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system – all systems –  that are consistent with good health. The “cleansing” delivers a sense of calm and peacefulness that forms a base for mindful living and healthy eating too.

Your thoughts about attitude, gratitude, and Dayenu….

Confusion at the Coffee Counter

Dunkin' Donuts Flyer

Dunkin’ Donuts Flyer

Call me blogger in absentia. I’ve been busy freelancing for the public relations agency that represents Eggland’s Best eggs – the eggs that are superior in nutrition, with twice the vitamin D, ten times more vitamin E, more than double the omega-3s, 35% more lutein, and 25% less saturated fat – compared to ordinary eggs. It’s all about the chicken feed. I eat EB eggs. And that is public relations.

But I had to take a break to comment about this flyer that comes to you newly at the Dunkin’ Donuts check out counter in New York City. Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on the sale of sugar beverages larger that 16-ounces goes into effect next week.Dunkin’ Donuts want to get ahead of the confusion, which shows that it’s easier to complain than it is to fix.

Here’s the deal: if your hot coffee is smaller than 16-ounces, Dunkin’ will add the sugar for you, but if your hot coffee is size large or X-large, then you’ll have to add the sugar yourself. For iced beverages, do-it-yourself sugar service starts with size medium because, for iced, medium is the large hot and large is the hot X-large. Got it? That ice has to go somewhere. For beverages that already come with added sugar, like hot chocolate or that oxymoron, frozen hot chocolate, you cannot buy a portion larger than medium – but you can buy two or more.

So, now, you will have to think twice before adding six sugar packets to your “Extra Extra.” Teeheehee. And it doesn’t stop there. Bloomberg is going after the Styrofoam cup next.

Your thoughts: Mayor Bloomberg: Yea or Nay?

Read about mayor’s public health campaigns in The New York Times:
City’s New Drink Rules Add Wrinkle to Coffee Orders
To Go: Plastic-Foam Containers, if the Mayor Gets His Way

Pie from The Automat

I am still working my way through the sugar pumpkins I bought – cheap – after Halloween. They are stored on the fire escape and I have to eat them before the hard freeze.

Yesterday, I made a Pumpkin Pie that is worthy of a recommendation. The recipe is authentic from Horn & Hardart’s Automat, a fixture in New York City, opened in 1912 to flourish in branches for the next 50 years. Drop a nickel in a slot, open the door, and pull out your dish. Sandwiches, hot dishes, and desserts – lunch for office workers and tourists.

The Pumpkin Pie recipe is a take-away from an exhibit at the New York Public Library, Lunch Hour NYC, through February 17, 2013 at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Drawing on materials from throughout the Library, the exhibit looks back at more than a century of New York City lunches, exploring the ways in which New York City—work-obsessed and time-obsessed—reinvented lunch. But honestly, Lunch Hour NYC, the online exhibition is really good too. Dig deep because there’s a lot there.

PUMPKIN PIE (from Horn & Hardart’s Automat)
2 cups of cooked pumpkin (mashed)
¾ tbsp. salt (I used less)
1 can (14 ½ fl. oz) evaporated milk
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Heat over to 425o
Beat all ingredients together with a rotary beater or wire whisk. Pour into a pastry-lined 9-inch pan.
Bake 40-45 minutes. Insert a silver knife into the filling about one inch from the side of the pan. If the knife comes out clean, the filling is done.

Watch “The Automat” scenes from THAT TOUCH OF MINK (1962) with Doris Day, Cary Grant, Gig Young, and Audrey Meadows.

Your thoughts: Have you been to The Automat? Tell us about it.