Hunger Signals Are Linked to Brown Fat

“Is it hot in here?”

That would be me asking, the day after I overate. I could literally feel the extra calories leaving my body as heat. My brown fat must be up to snuff, probably because I exercise and I don’t “weight cycle” (loose weight and regain.)

Brown fat (also called BAT, brown or beige adipose tissue) is a new critical determinant of energy expenditure. BAT seems to be an endocrine organ that influences metabolism. Aaron Cypess, M.D., a metabolic researcher from the Joslin Diabetes Center, explains that 54% of the variation in metabolic rate correlates with an individual’s activated brown fat. Wow! Maybe it’s time to retire the Harris–Benedict Equation and other formulas that predict basal metabolic rate.*

Last week, I wrote an article about new brown fat research for DietsInReview.com. In my opinion, the research links a healthy supply of brown fat to “intuitive eating” – in mice.
See my article, and the TIME magazine report, that got me thinking.

Your thoughts: Do you love brown fat as much as I do?

* Basal Metabolic Rate:  The rate at which energy is used by an organism at complete rest, measured in humans by the heat given off per unit time. It is expressed as the calories released per square meter of body surface per hour. 

The Absolutely, Positively Not Chip to Eat

Clean room technician holding  finished microchip waferOkay, I’m blowing the whistle on Ray Kurzweil, the director of engineering at Google. Did you hear him being interviewed by NPR Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal on May 3rd? Please, listen as Ray tells Kai that microchip computers will soon live in our brains. Ray said,

“Ultimately these devices will be the size of blood cells, we’ll be able to send them inside our brain through the capillaries, and basically connect up brain to the cloud. But that’s a mid-2030’s scenario.”

In Kurzweil’s vision, these advances don’t simply bring computers closer to our biological systems. Machines become more like us. “Your personality, your skills are contained in information in your neocortex, and it is information,” Kurzweil says. “These technologies will be a million times more powerful in 20 years and we will be able to manipulate the information inside your brain.”

“When I say that computers will reach human levels of understanding by the 2030s, I’m specifically talking about emotion. I’m talking about getting the joke, and being funny, and being sexy, and being loving.”

“When computers can achieve these things it’s not for the purpose of displacing us it’s really to make ourselves smarter, and smarter in the sense of being more loving… Really enhancing the things that we value about humans.”

So, our brain functions are altered remotely by supercomputers via microchips?  Robotization to fix personality quirks.

But, but…I thought humans learned those things through spiritual growth. One thing I do know: No chips for me.

Your thoughts: ….about implanting microchips in humans?

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….

Adorkable Easter Appetizers

Easter Appetizers Deviled EggsA lot of people ask me, Mary, do you make adorkable appetizers for every holiday? I say, not really, but if I do make anything, I make these. I like my appetizers to be wholesome, easy, attention-getting, and appealing to kids. Besides, my traffic spiked traffic to 10,000 hits a day because of those Strawberry Santas at Christmas. The people have spoken. Adorkable appetizers it is! Click on the links for “how-to” recipe information.

 

Eggy Chicks, Roosters and Bunnies

File these appetizers under “What to Do with the Hard-cooked Eggs.” The deviled Easter egg chicks (above) are my favorite and the no-devil roosters and happy-face chicks are easy enough to make, but the deviled bunnies are scary to me; however, I’ve seen worse. Rachel Ray shows how to make the deviled egg chicks.

Easter no devil Easter roostersEaster Bunny_deviled_eggs_Lg (1)

Raw Vegetables Appetizers Kids will Eat Easter Potted CarrotsEaster Appetizers Smurf Mushrooms

Rule number one: kids love to dip. I love these Potted Carrots and Dip from Toys in the Dryer and the Smurfy Radish Mushrooms from The Paper Pony. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

Easter Appetizers Chick Breadeaster_chickbunsEaster Chick Buns

Granted, making bread is a lot harder than boiling an egg, but how sweet are these little chick rolls?  Grandma’s Kitchen shows you how.

 

Scary Bunnies

Tell me if this pear bunny doesn’t look like a rat? The recipe is from my childhood cookbook and it still creeps me out.

Easter Pear Bunny Image_2Easter_ betty_crocker_boys_and_girls-thumb-250x343Easter bunny_salad-thumb-500x671

Your thoughts: Do you see adorkable Easter appies in your near future?

You Are No Match for Big Food as Stephen Colbert Explains

So, by now, everybody knows that, at the 11th hour, a New York State Supreme Court Judge overturned Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in New York City restaurants. Constitutionality aside, I think the judge didn’t want to wait in the long line at Dunkin’ Donuts. There will be appeals and the lawyers will get rich because the American Beverage Association spends millions and billions to fight soda taxes and laws like Bloomberg’s across the land every year. People don’t understand that we all pay for obesity in higher taxes to support Medicare, Medicare, disability benefits, etc.  And “personal responsibility” is no match against foods that are engineered and marketed to make us overeat. Stephen Colbert explains it better than I. Watch.

A “Healthy Weight Week” Reality Check

Baby on ScaleTake out your compass. I am celebrating Healthy Weight Week – the 20th Annual – and that means it’s time to focus on eating problems that originate from our media-fed perceptions of “healthy” weight. The images of women in the media are much too thin. They feed into our confusion about reference points and what is weight normal.

We have a Skinny Girl Fetish

Our society is primitive when it comes to  objectifying our idols. We expect them to attain and maintain unattainable slimness, and we settle for nothing less. Consider the unfortunate  Jennifer Lawrence, a 22-year old actress, nominated for Jennifer-Lawrence-Bikini-1Best Actress in a Leading Role, Silver Linings Playbook (trailer) Jennifer recently told ELLE Magazine, “I’m considered a fat actress.” “I’m Val Kilmer in that one picture on the beach.”  A Google search runs five pages deep into the topic of of Ms Lawrence’s weight. The real problem is our notion of a healthy body. Jennifer is perfect, but our view of women’s bodies is f—ked up.

Why Are the Natives Fat?

Do you ever wonder why the well-fed, native people we see in National Geographic Magazine are kind of chubby by modern Western standards? The natives don’t have mirrors or scales, or junk food, or cars; yet, they are not thin. In fact, the natives are like Jennifer Lawrence. Note: nature prefers a little meat on the bones for a rainy day. That meat is muscle and fat, not too little, not too much, just right. Reality check: Photographs of healthy native women.

The Next Step?

In South Korea, notions about perfection have led to the highest rate of plastic surgery in the world. Eyelid surgery, nose reshaping, facial contouring – Asians want a westernized face. See this article from Jezebel, I Can’t Stop Looking at These South Korean Women Who’ve Had Plastic Surgery. Reality check: celebrities have plastic surgery all the time. The shock is in the trickle down to the masses.

Korean_1

Your thoughts: How will you celebrate healthy weight week? Everything counts.

Adorkable Christmas Appetizers

Black Olive Penguin
To minimize my calorie intake from holiday appetizers, I make appies that are almost too cute to eat. Not that they aren’t delicious and nutritious (and low in calories), I simply want to keep them around a little longer. This year, I plan to reintroduce the penguins that were such a hit in 2011 – plus two more appies that are more about fun than food. All are are quick and easy enough for a slacker like me!

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Pinterest…

Pinterest is a great place to find photos of creative recipes. Here are the Pinterest pages for my favorite holiday appetizers, Penguin Appetizers, Strawberry Santas, and Cheese Reindeer. So many pictures! Modern living – you must open the links.

Penguin Appetizers

My Penguin Appetizers, 2011

Originally from the blog FoodieWithFamily.com, these super cute cream cheese-filled black olive penguins are the hit of every party. AND, they have only four ingredients – olives, cream cheese, carrot, and green onions – and the toothpicks that hold them together.  I like my penguins to ice skate on a silver tray. See the recipe for Black Olive Penguins.

Strawberry Santas  

Strawberry Santas

Popular on Pinterest with only four ingredients again – large strawberries, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla – the chocolate sprinkle or seed eyes are optional. This recipe is oh so no work. Check out the Strawberry Santas from JustAPinch.com.

Cheese Reindeer

Reindeer Appetizers

This easy appetizer is – again – (I didn’t plan this) made with only four ingredients – a Laughing Cow cheese wedge, pretzels, olive, and red pepper, so its creator says. As for me, I think the nose is a maraschino cherry and there are more chocolate sprinkles for the eyes. Here’s the recipe for Cheese Reindeer from CuteFoodForKids.com.

Your thoughts: Do you have a cute Christmas recipe for a slacker to pass along?

The Wish Tree. Keep Wishing.

Wish Tree at the Brooklyn Museum

“Yes, I’m your angel – I’ll give you everything – In my magic power – So make a wish and I’ll let it come true for you. Tra, la, la, la, la.” 
~Yoko Ono lyrics “Yes, I’m Your Angel” from the album “Double Fantasy” (1980)

Yoko Ono presented a “Wish Tree” to the Brooklyn Museum in appreciation of her 2012 Women in the Arts Award. “Wish Tree” is an ongoing project that has been installed across continents for decades, gathering wishes from more than one million people so far. After each presentation, when all of the wishes are collected, they are buried (unread) around the Imagine Peace Tower, an outdoor light installation in Reykjavik, Iceland created by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon. The Brooklyn Museum’s Wish Tree is new, and so it needs more wishes, but when a wish tree is full, it looks like this:

For over fifty years, Yoko Ono has made art that requires viewer participation for completion. Yoko provides the pencils, tags, and instructions. (“Make a wish, write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch of the wish tree. Ask your friend to do the same. Keep wishing.”) You make the wish. Yoko encourages us to believe in the collective power of our hopes for the future. I encourage us to believe in the power of wishes for ourselves. Wish to make it easy to eat in a healthy way.

Your thoughts: Would you like me to hang a wish for you? Let me know. Keep wishing.

My Thoughts on Sarah Palin’s Diet Book

Mary Hartley as Sarah Palin

Yesterday, ABC News asked me for a quote about Sarah Palin’s new diet book. (The quote was not used.) I guess Palin’s book will be out soon, even though last October, People magazine couldn’t say if Palin had a contract or when the book would be published.

According to several news outlets, Palin said her book advocates “a balanced approach to weight loss” focusing on “self-discipline as we still eat our beloved homemade comfort foods.”  Of me, the ABC writer asked, “Is it OK to indulge once in a while?” and “Is this a good approach to weight loss?” To the first question, I answered, “Yes; only a control freak would not indulge once in awhile.” To the second question, I said, “Dunno.”

I do say this: Never take nutrition or medical advice from a celebrity.

Sarah Palin is no authority on diet and fitness, but she does have a loyal following and enough gawkers to sell a book. And then there’s the diet-crazed crowd. Get that book on the shelves by January 1st.

Sarah has lost some weight since she was a household name in 2008. She espouses a low-carb-, lean-protein-style diet, and so I presume that will be her focus. She drinks a “skinny white-chocolate mocha” for breakfast, and so I guess that is her indulgence. For decades, Sarah has been a distance runner, which accounts, in part, for her trim physique.

Without reviewing what Sarah actually eats, I cannot say whether her diet is wholesome and balanced. There are countless routes to a balanced diet. For instance, an Inuit does not eat like a Bantu, yet both native diets are correct.

I’m glad Sarah is happy with her own eating style, and as long as she meets her daily requirements for protein, carbohydrate, essential fats, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds with nutrient-like activity that are known and still unknown, it doesn’t really matter whether she focuses on low-carb or low-fat. That’s because total calories matter most when it comes to weight control.

The Palin family’s food choices don’t have to be yours. Every individual needs to find his own style in terms of personal preferences, resources and “life-style.” (Not my favorite term)  For me, moose stew doesn’t work, and I doubt if Sarah has tried my Portuguese Kale Soup.

Your thoughts: Would you read Sarah Palin’s diet book?