Fueling For Finals

I recently took the opportunity to switch divisions within my company to work in higher education.  While I often miss the hustle and bustle of the medical center, I really enjoy being back on a school schedule and working with healthy young individuals who have a thirst for knowledge.  

While many things have changed since I was in college, the importance of eating healthfully and nutritionally remain the same.  
This week I am having an event at lunch time in the dining hall to explain the importance of good nutrition while studying for finals.  I remembered my very neglected blog and decided to share the info with any patient followers. 

If you are taking finals this winter - Make good nutrition part of your study plan to help you ace those exams.  The better the fuel your brain gets, the better you'll study and perform! 

Try these foods to boost your brain function and memory

Eat your veggies: Getting adequate vegetables, especially cruciferous ones like broccoli, cabbage, and dark leafy greens. may help improve memory.  
Try: raw kale salad or broccoli stir fry

Stay sweet with berries and cherries: Berries- especially dark ones (blackberries, blueberries, and cherries) are a rich source of anthocyanins and other flavonoids that may boost memory function. 
Try: frozen or fresh berries for a snack or baked in to an anti-oxidant rich dessert

The good fat: Essential for good brain health, Omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) specifically, may help improve memory in health healthy young adults.  According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain.  If you have higher levels of DHA in the blood, then the brain will operate more efficiently.  
Try: seafood, algae, and fatty fish like salmon

Work in walnuts: Well known for a positive impact on heart health, walnuts may also improve working memory.  They also help to satisfy your hunger!
Try: snacking on a handful of walnuts to add them to oatmeal or a salad. 

As always, remember to stay balanced.  Aim for fruits, veggies, dairy, protein, and whole grains in very meal. During this stressful time good nutrition is as important as ever.  

Good luck, good hunting, and bring home the bacon! Happy Studying :) 


Nemo Found Us

As you now know, we moved back to Boston .  Our first winter of 2011 - 2012 was a breeze... very little snow and mild tempatures, we made it through unscathed.  As 2012-2013 winter started, everything seemed to be the same as last year... until February!!! 
The news said we were getting a superstorm named Nemo.  What a storm it was!!  I think we got 2 feet of snow in less than 24 hours.

The snow started to fall Friday morning...
...and continued to fall.  Here's a picture of the same street the next morning. 
For many lucky Bostonians, Nemo brough a slew of snow days.  I remember having 1 snow day from BU back in the winter of 2005 and am a believer that snow days are the best gift ever! 

Lucky (not so much) for me, hospitals don't get snow days.  We had 400 patients to feed in addition to all of the staff.  We had a lot of work to do! 
There was a city wide ban on driving due to the road conditions and fast accumulation of snow.  Public transportation was also stopped.  Being an essential employee, I was exempt form the driving ban and figured I would just hop in my car (in the covered garage) to drive myself to work.  This was the view from inside my garage.. I wasn't driving anywhere!

I needed to find an alternate way to get to work.  I slapped on my 'snow trax' that my mother had sent as a gag gift and started my journey by foot in to work.

The city streets were so peaceful and beautiful in the blanket of white, fluffy snow.  There were some people out and about enjoying the snow on sled, cross country skiis, and snow shoes.  It was as if Harvard Avenue was turned into a beautiful skii resort. 

There was no place open to buy food or coffee. 

Or to get gas.
It took me about an hour (usually a 30 minute walk), but I made it to work.   Our team successfully fed all of the patients and staff in the hospital.  Not a relaxing weekend to enjoy the snow for this girl.  Ahhh the joys of living on the east coast! 
Picture of the streets outside of the medical center
As I post this, we are in the midst of another snow storm.  Yes, it IS March 8th... I thought Punxsutawney Phil said we would be having an early spring this year.  Boy, was he wrong!  We've gotten over a foot of snow in the past 24 hours.  
I'm heading out to do some sledding and play in the snow... such a big kid at heart.  I think I'm just making up for not having snow days as a child; they really are the best!  I'm hoping spring really is right around the corner, but until then I'll continue to throw my snow boots on and enjoy the winter wonderland that surrounds me.  


Israel 2012

In November I got to take another trip to Israel.  This time I went with my Mother, Aunt, and Grandmother on a non-denominational trip for women.  After my experience during my birthright trip in 2010, I could not wait to visit the country I love again.  I must say, it was not the same without the Jew Crew from birthright, but every trip to Israel has something different to offer.  I left for this trip with the goal of exploring the cuisine and sights that I didn't get to during my last trip.

We began our trip in Jerusalem and headed down to the dead sea... way below sea level. Ran into a nice bedouin and his camel on our way, and then stopped at the Ein Gedi for a quick hike through the paradise.
We finished our day with dinner at a kibbuz over looking the dead sea.

One of my favorite parts of this trip was seeing the dome of the rock in the Muslin quarter of Jerusalem.  It was so eye opening to discover all of Jerusalem during this trip and learn about why Muslims, Christians, and Jews all claim it as their holy land.

After we finished at The Dome, we explored the Arab markets..another new site for me.  

One evening while we were in Jerusalem we visited the 9/11 Memorial that's in the JNF.  I was very surprised to learn that this is the only 9/11 memorial outside of the US.  It's a beautiful site with the flag sculpture, part of the twin tower, and all of the names of those who we lost engraved around the edge.  It's truly a breath-taking site at sundown with the whole city of Jerusalem in the background.  

Another breath-taking site was this Greek Orthodox mosque in the middle of the desert that's built into the mountain.

Every morning in Israel, no matter what part of the country or where you are staying, salad is offered for breakfast.  As a dietitian I know that I should be thrilled to see fresh vegetables any time of day, but I really cannot get down with salad first thing in the morning.  Lunch or dinner - absolutely, fill up my plate! I still really prefer something sweet or eggs with my coffee when I wake up.  

After the breakfast salad, we headed out for more exploring.  This is still one of my favorite pictures from Israel. This sign really gives you a sense for where you are sanding in the world.  All of the 'scary' countries they talk about on the news are listed, yet the 2 times I have stood here, I have not been scared... just thankful that I get to enjoy such a beautiful view.

 We visited the Rosh HaNikra grottoes on the coast of Israel at the Jordan border.  Beautiful sights that are rich in history.

The best meal I had during this trip was at the Druze village.  The Druze people practice a secret religion that they must be born into, you cannot convert to become Druze.  The Druze were some of the nicest, most hospitable people and their food is delicious!!! This platter of food fed about 6 women, and they continued to replenish items as soon as we finished them.  The flavors were so fresh and well balanced.  I could go on for the rest of this post, but I think you get the idea... it was DELICIOUS! 

We finished out trip in Tel Aviv, which is my second favorite city in the world (behind Tokyo).  Tel Aviv is a major city right on the Mediterranean Sea.  The markets and the night life are second to none. These pictures are from the Carmel Market.

This is my idea of a fruit cup!  Wish the fruit in Boston  looked like this year round

I took some spices home with me.  Sounded like a great idea at the time... until I got home and my suitcase and everything in it smelled like middle eastern spices! 

My third favorite part of Tel Aviv is the outdoor gyms.  They can be found along the beach boardwalk and scattered throughout the city.  What a way to promote healthy lifestyles.  It's no wonder Israelis are so beautiful!  

Mark my words... I am going to live in this apartment building on the beach of the Mediterranean one day.  How cool is this building??

 I encourage every person to visit Israel.  It doesn't matter what religion, nationality, or background you come from.  Israel is a country for everyone...  I can't wait to go back!

Ahava: nothing but love for Israel. 

Ahava or 'love' sculpture at the Jerusalem Museum


Ayurvedic Spices & Super Grains

I made these handouts for a project at work and thought I would share.  Our chefs were in a cooking competition and wanted to exhibit the health benefits of the ingredients used.  I was amazed at the medical healing properties of the spices - it's no wonder the are incorporated into so many cultural foods.  


It's Fall

There is a chill in the air and the leaves are changing color - It's Fall in New England!  I really don't know how I lived without one of the best seasons for 20 years of my life.  Fall brings pumpkin coffee, comfy sweaters, boots, pumpkin cream cheese, apple cider, and apple picking!

The girls and I wandered out to Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, MA for a day of picking apples, enjoying apple cider, and devouring apple cider donuts - YUM!  My favorite part was eating apples right off of the tree.  There is seriously nothing better than a fresh picked apple - so juicy and crunchy.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

We left the orchard with almost 30 pounds of apples... Time to cook and bake! 

I originally planned to bake an apple cake as well as homemade applesauce, but I was enjoying the fresh apples for snacks so often that I was left with only enough apples to make applesauce.
Boyfriend loves this applesauce and does a little happy dance every time he eats it - it must be good if Boyfriend likes it!

Here's my recipe for baked applesauce:

5 tablespoons water
1/4cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh NH maple syrup (for a sweet New England twist!)
4 lbs apples, peeled, cored, and halved

Preheat oven to 375*
Combine all ingredients in a large Dutch oven; toss to coat.  Cover and bake for 1 hour, or until apples are tender, stirring once after 45 minutes.

Happy Fall!