Five hurdles to overcome obesity

Sometimes, it seems that the more warnings we read, the more dire the situation becomes.  But, is it the fault of those who do the warning, or is it something else?

Stop-ObesityObesity, as the issue of smoking was when I was a child, is the topic du jour.  And, frankly, it is no wonder.  Those who want to eat whatever they want, without regard to their health, are doing nothing different from those who continue to smoke tobacco, even with all the culture “noise” and health warnings that have been drummed into them.

It is, ultimately, a decision in which the “eater” has to consider the benefits, weigh them against the costs, and then, change his/her own behavior.

But, there are significant hurdles to overcome.  Here are a few:

  1. The “pleasure” hurdle — the inability to deny ourselves the pleasure, fleeting as it may be, to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, and in the quantities we want.  Self-denial and delayed gratification have become rare, and is bordering on extinction.
  2. The “peer pressure” hurdle — the desire not to be seen as “odd”, “difficult to please”, or “picky” when it comes to eating.  Blending in to the culture, whether it be the mainstream or one of the countless countercultures, reigns supreme in our value system, and it takes its toll in many ways, including our health.
  3. The “procrastination” hurdle — as long as we have lived, to date, there has always been tomorrow.  We may know the facts, when it comes to eating unhealthy foods, but we still have time to enjoy what we want with no immediate impact, we believe.
  4. The “health care” hurdle — With drug companies always offering newer and better drugs to counteract our unhealthy eating habits, we surrender our nutritional choices to pills.  Also, doctors seem more hesitant than ever to prescribe lifestyle changes in lieu of drugs.
  5. The “convenience” hurdle — the preference not to put ourselves to any trouble, if we can avoid, and if we can afford it.  Convenience foods, whether at a fast-food restaurant, or in convenient prepared meal packages at the supermarket, make life easier, or so it seems.

The warnings will continue, and they should.  People will hear them, read them, and believe them, and at some time in the future, it may matter to them enough to do something to help themselves without depending on the health care system to do it for them.  But, the hurdles will have to be jumped.

This article, “34% of Kids Eat Food on a Given Day, Study Says“, on sorts out some of the facts and assumptions about childhood obesity and the “fast-food” component of the cultural problem.


Home-grown microgreens

I enjoyed my first taste of soil-grown sprouts this weekend, and I was impressed with how much this technique of growing them in soil intensified the flavor.  I grew these in partial sunlight, and this picture was taken fter only six full days from seeding.

These are lentil sprouts, grown in a clamshell packaging flat, with just a few drops of water added as needed during the week.  We had a couple of 90-degree-plus days, lots of sunshine, and plenty of TLC from the gardener (me!).

Lentil microgreens

After trimming these, I placed them back on my outdoor shelf to see if I could get more growth from some of the “slower” seeds.  After one day, I’m seeing more sprouts, and I’ll get a full second harvest, it appears.

Microgreens, such as these, deliver a large dose of antioxidants for just pennies a cup, when you do it yourself.  Another big plus is that you can grow your own salads 365 days per year.  Whether grown in soil or in a Mason jar, the nutrient density per dollars spent make it worthwhile for your health.

Another tip: I continue to grown them even when I have plenty in the fridge.  I package the excess in reusable containers in my freezer to use for my morning smoothies.

Here’s a link to Dr. Greger’s blog regarding micronutrients.  It also links to some of his short videos that explain the cost effectiveness a little more.

Bean bed and make-shift gardening

I thrive on beans of all different sorts!  Since going to a plant-based (vegan) eating plan, beans have become even more important to me than before, even after liking them my whole life of 60 years.

Beans are cheap!  Even so, they are so easy to grow that it seems like it just has to become a part of my gardening plans to grow them myself.  This ensures me that they are grown organically and fresher from soil to fork.

Bed prep

Last weekend, on my backyard garden conversion project, I cleared out an area on my fenceline to start my “bean bed.”  Voila:bean bed

I have some old fence posts already in place from a previous dog run we had.  I will use these posts this weekend to string with some kind of wire mesh so the vine beans can climb.  I need to pull some weeds and plenty of organic matter to the bed to prepare the soil for the babies I sprouted this week.

Sprout prep

Aside from the indoor sprouting method I’ve used for awhile, I decided to sprout some beans in soil, some of which will be used for eating immediately, and others to provide plants for my new bean bed.

I made use of some of the clamshell packaging that many of my “bought” fruits and veggies come in.  I feel really great about saving this for something useful now.  They have built-in drainage, and each clamshell provides you with TWO planting beds by cutting the top off the packaging.  The shallow side (the top) is PERFECT for “no-soil” sprouting, using paper towels to lock in the moisture.

I chose among the beans I have in my pantry: mung, adzuki, and lentil.  Here are some pictures of the sprout preparation:


Since I didn’t have any compost yet, I used a bagged potting soil.

lentil sprouts

Lentils for eating immediately, on wet paper towel. I also covered this with another paper towel and kept these moist throughout the past week. I have sprouts ready for eating this weekend.

lentil sprouts in soil

Lentils, using soil sprouting method. These are sprouting as well, for this weekend. I will use some of these for planting when they get big and strong.


Mung beans, using paper towels, non-soil, method. These sprouted within two days. Tasted some today, and they are much richer tasting than the indoor “Mason jar” method I’ve been using. Delicious!

adzuki sprouts

I love these adzuki beans. These are ready for the plate this weekend, too. (Wet paper towel method)


Kept all covered with wet paper towels, watered twice a day if needed in our 90+ temps this week. Ready to go!

This is the shelf that faces the south side of my house. It gets good sun, but is protected from the wind and hard rains when we get them. This will become my "greenhouse" during the colder months, and I will install some temporary heat lamps and plastic covers to keep the project going.

This is the shelf that faces the south side of my house. It gets good sun, but is protected from the wind and hard rains when we get them. This will become my “greenhouse” during the colder months, and I will install some temporary heat lamps and plastic covers to keep the project going.

I don’t have finished product pictures yet, but will harvest most of the eating sprouts this weekend.  My starter plants are coming along well.  I will transplant them into small containers for a couple of weeks before planting in my new bean bed.

It’s late in the traditional growing season, but, this is Texas, and we don’t have freezing temps, usually, until late October, and they are usually mild until mid-November at the earliest.  I should get some harvest by the time the colder temps come into play.


Delicata squash

delicataI’m a big fan of this variety of winter squash I just saw for the first time.  Like all winter squash varieties, delicata is very mild, and it is slightly sweet.

I prepared it by cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds (for the garden), and then cutting it into 1/4″ slices.  I baked it for 50 minutes in a covered dish with some excellent fresh tomato sauce, shiitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, and about 1/4 cup of California wild rice.  I spiced it with my favorites: turmeric, black pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  I also added some apple cider vinegar.  I really like this tangy addition to the dish!

It made 4 generous servings, and it was delicious and healthful.

Will do this again soon!  And, I’m counting on it growing in my garden, maybe even getting a few before our first freeze, usually in late October.

Give it a try, cooking it your way, or try mine!

Source: Delicata squash – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Grocery shopping

A&P Grocery StoreThe first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.— Joel Salatin

My earliest memories of grocery shopping with my mother were those trips to the A&P grocery store in my hometown of Carrollton, Texas.  I’m not sure she liked taking me with her because I’m sure I begged for lots of things that I had no chance of getting her to buy.

I remember the meat market counter where a man wearing a white apron and cap would cut meat to my mother’s liking, wrap it in white butcher paper, and marked it with a pen or a stamp with purple ink, labeling it with whatever cut of beef it was.  We would take these home, store them in our deep freezer in our garage, and enjoy it on our table nightly.

I didn’t know that supermarkets had not always existed.  It made sense to me that there had always been stores like these.  Food was easy to come by, and it was taken for granted.

We had relatives however who had gardens, some who lived on farms, and for some of them, especially those in rural areas, a grocery store like ours was probably not very common.  We were suburbanites — city folks — to them, and that’s what spoiled me and made me think of food as something easy to get, always available, thus prone to overconsumption and abuse and easy to waste.

Consequently, it was the perfect setup for learning to eat highly processed foods, prepackaged and ready-to-eat, with no forethought as to the consequences to my health.

This has changed, but it is still a problem for many people.  Weaning ourselves away from “the easy way” to embrace “the mindful way” takes time, patience with our bodies that still crave the bad stuff, and greater knowledge about how to choose good foods that are also healthful and in their most natural, edible forms.

It is a journey, but in a sense, it is a “back to the future” experience that recaptures some of the best memories of childhood when things were simpler, and in a real sense, better.

Source for Joel Salatin quote above: 32 inspirational gardening quotes | MNN – Mother Nature Network

Resting the spirit in the garden

Peace roseWe must cultivate our own garden. When man was put in the garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man was not born to rest.— Voltaire

Nothing against rest, you understand, right?  Coming off of a three-day weekend, I can vouch for the benefits of rest.  But, there are different kinds of rest, and I hardly lack the physical kind.  Mine is the need for mental rest.

I have noticed that while working at my job, at my computer, studying technical information and engineered drawings and schematics, my mind is usually alert to every detail.  It requires concentrating all my mental resources on one focal point for several minutes, or sometimes hours, without lifting my eyes from the page.  Over the years, concentrating on such details has become less and less stressful, because I’ve become accustomed to it.  I can steal two or three minutes between drawings and projects, take a quick walk around the office, and I’m ready to go on to the next one with all my resources.

But, when weekends get here, the thing I long for most is to relax my head, and take in sunshine, good food, and the warmth of my wife and dogs, who are always willing, it seems, to accommodate.

Gardening is a special place set aside in my psyche that tires me physically and relaxes me mentally, the perfect prescription for the spiritual experience of powers beyond my understanding.  It is meditational, yet it is as physically basic as anything a person can do.

From out of nowhere, it seems, rest comes, the mind recovers, and the body comes along for the ride.

Source for Voltaire quote: 32 inspirational gardening quotes | MNN – Mother Nature Network

The spiritual connection: the garden

“Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.” — Wendell Berry

It never fails.  Gardening is both physically taxing and spiritually rewarding.

My first day back into the garden after a couple of years of neglect, then abandonment, led to profound soreness this morning as well as a pleasing, and calm, satisfaction.  Unlike the struggles I sometimes have with mental tiredness and the stress of the day’s agenda, the focus on physical labor, applied to the earth, in the cooperative effort between myself and Nature to provide food for my own consumption and to feed the soil, otherwise devoid of nutrients in this suburban wasteland of chemical dependence, is invigorating and inspirational.

Rather than bemoaning the fact that urban gardening, at least in the beginning, is more about undoing the damage done to Nature through “hurry-up” landscaping and propping up a “magazine-ready” curb appearance, teaming up with natural processes and using the earth’s own medicine produces an optimistic calm in the face of devastating opposition, the essence of joy.

The link to gardening is not lost on me.  The decision to eat a plant-based, cruelty-free diet, permanently, has brought my focus upon “the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.”

It is a spiritual exercise, though it’s the muscles that ache this morning!

Source for Wendell Berry quote at header: 32 inspirational gardening quotes | MNN – Mother Nature Network