Monthly Archives: June 2009


24 Jun

Fatten Up Your Fathers

Posted by on June 24, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Jason is not a father, nor do we have any plans to change that anytime in the near future. (So don‘t get any ideas people- this isn’t one of those “special announcement” posts.)

Jason’s lack of offspring, however, didn’t stop me from spoiling him a bit on Father’s Day. I know some of you are thinking right now that a man without any kids has no business getting any kind of special treatment on Father’s Day. But before you come to that conclusion let’s review the facts:  1. I enjoy spoiling my husband immensely and any reason to do so, no matter how lame, is good enough of an excuse for me. 2. Jason wasn’t exactly an angelic child, quite the opposite actually. He was constantly into all sorts of mischief, from hotwiring dirt bikes to breaking into classmates’ homes. So if karma has anything to do with the outcome of the universe we will probably have the worse behaved children on the planet. In which case, Jason deserves a few anticipatory Father’s Day celebrations before his brood put him through hell.

This picture doesn't really do the Bananas Foster French Toast justice. Yum!

This picture doesn't really do the Bananas Foster French Toast justice. Yum!

So, in honor of Jason, and all his kid-less glory, I made a tasty, extremely fattening, Father’s Day breakfast that included a Baked Gruyere and Sausage Omelet and Bananas Foster French Toast. I used a whole carton of eggs and more heavy cream than I care to remember preparing this hearty breakfast. But hey, Father’s Day only comes around once a year, right? One wouldn’t want to miss such a wonderful opportunity to clog the arteries of the man you love, even if he isn’t a father yet by any definition of the word. It’s probably a good thing though I don’t cook decadent food like this on a regular basis, or that sweet man of mine might not live long enough to ever become a father.

The Baked Sausage and Gruyere Omelet was also delish!

The Baked Sausage and Gruyere Omelet was also delish. Gruyere makes anything taste fantastic!

16 Jun

That Sounds Fishy

Posted by on June 16, 2009 at 10:58 pm

A recent conversation with some of my family members made me realize that the general public is quite confused about oils, fats, and fatty acids. What’s good for you? What should you be avoiding? Why? What’s with that trans and saturated stuff?

Since the subject of fats is way too broad to cover in entirety here, I will focus on a small, but still complex, portion of it: omega-3 fatty acids.

When I was a child my mom regularly required me and my siblings to take cod liver oil. I didn’t exactly enjoy this routine but, since I wasn’t given a choice, I forced this nasty, supposedly healthful, substance down the hatch. It has taken a couple decades for the masses to grasp what my mom already understood back in those days: fish oil, high in omega-3 fatty acids, is good for you and perhaps worthy of forced feeding. Although the public has finally accepted the healthfulness of omega-3s, they still don’t seem to grasp the why and how much, those details continue to baffle. With the recent interest in fish oil there appears to be a lot of conflicting information out there regarding this substance, even among the experts, so it’s no surprise that consumers remain a bit mystified about omega-3s.

Although the jury is still out regarding many of the possible benefits of omega-3s, I will divulge here what everyone does agree on.

Let’s start with the basics. Lipids are a broad class of chemical compounds. Put most simply, lipids do not readily dissolve in water. Fatty acids are the most common form of lipids; they are found extensively in our bodies and in our food. “Fat” is a term often used incorrectly to encompass a wide range of lipids, but for the simplicity of this discussion I will use it here synonymously with fatty acids.

Fat has gained an undeserved bad reputation in the recent past. We associate it erroneously with obesity and heart disease. While the consumption of some types of fat certainly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, eating other types actually lessens that risk. Besides, no matter how fats alter the risk of this or that, we should be mindful of the fact that we really do need them. That’s right- in order to be healthy we require certain fats in our diet.

So before you decide to live off carrots and fat free cookies consider this: our bodies lack the ability to produce certain types of fatty acids. These fatty acids are needed for immune response, vision, blood clotting, stomach secretions, and blood pressure regulation. Since we can’t make them, we must obtain them from our diet; hence they are called “essential” fatty acids.

There are two different essential fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6. Chances are, if you’ve heard anything about either of those, omega-3 is the one you’ve heard about. So why, if we need both, does omega-3 get the spotlight while omega-6 is forced into the background like an ugly stepchild?

Omega-6 fatty acids are found in many plant oils so they are in a lot of the foods Americans commonly consume, such as mayonnaise and salad dressing. This means that deficiencies of this fatty acid are rare. Omega-3s, on the other hand, are found in foods not eaten as frequently by westerners. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include: canola oil, flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and fish of course. What, you didn’t have a salmon burger today? Or drizzle canola oil over your pancakes this morning? Shame on you! In all seriousness though, Americans tend to not get adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, especially those that don’t regularly consume fish.

Jason decided that the best way to illustrate this post was to pretend to be a fish while wearing a latex glove with an omega symbol on it, which all resulted in him looking like an idiot yet again.

Jason decided that the best way to illustrate this post was to pretend to be a fish while wearing a latex glove on his head with an omega symbol written on it, which basically just resulted in him looking like an idiot yet again.

So why should you care? I guess you shouldn’t if you don’t value your heart, skin, mental wellbeing, or the brain development of your unborn children. If having blood the consistency of toothpaste doesn’t bother you then you needn’t worry about getting enough omega-3s. An inadequate intake of omega-3 fatty acids has detrimental effects on many systems in your body and, in pregnant women, even on the body of your baby.

Why are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids so vital for optimal health? Our bodies use these essential fatty acids to synthesize hormone like compounds called eicosanoids. Although eicosanoids resemble hormones, unlike hormones they remain at their production site, instead of traveling via the bloodstream to a place of action. Eicosanoids are involved in regulating everything from childbirth to inflammatory responses.

So, if both essential fatty acids form eicosanoids, can’t we just eat a lot of omega-6s and call it good? No. Different starting materials result in distinct eicosanoids. Omega-6 fatty acids form different eicosanoids than omega-3s. For example: eicosanoids made from omega-6s increase blood clotting while those made from omega-3s decrease it.

Therefore, if your intake ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is out of whack, due to you avoiding fish like it was your mother-in-law, then your eicosanoids will also be out of whack.

Many studies have been done on omega-3s and their treatment of all sorts of conditions from depression to rheumatoid arthritis, and everything in between. While most of these studies have been conflicting and less than conclusive, some things are certain:

You need omega-3s and you probably aren’t getting enough, most Americans consume less than 50% of the RDA. Omega-3s are good for your heart. They can decrease your blood pressure, improve your triglyceride status, and slow the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque- especially in those that already have heart disease.

So does that mean you should start popping omega-3 pills from a PEZ dispenser? No, unless of course you fancy your blood being about as thin as the hair on your head. Remember, as with anything diet related, balance is the key here. There can be too much of a good thing. How much isn’t too much then?

While the optimal intake level of omega-3s is still in debate, here are some basic guidelines: If you eat fish, two servings a week should be adequate. If you don’t eat fish, and would rather swallow your own vomit than ingest some salmon, you may want to consider omega-3 supplementation; fish oil capsules are the most common form. I wouldn’t recommend taking more than 1 gram of fish oil a day though, unless you have been instructed to do so by your doctor, since there isn’t a consensus yet on the most advantageous amount.

So there you have it folks, a brief overview of omega-3 fatty acids and all their fabulousness. Now go eat some delicious healthy fish! It will make your heart happy.

10 Jun

Girls Night and the Man Date

Posted by on June 10, 2009 at 8:43 pm

My friend, Fran, organizes a monthly ladies night out. Sometimes this event just involves eating and chatting, other months it’s a bit more elaborate, like when we had a Pride and Prejudice marathon. (I love you Mr. Darcy!)

The ladies chowing down some sushi at Happy Sumo

The ladies chowing down some sushi at Happy Sumo

This month the plan was eating dinner at Happy Sumo, one of my favorite restaurants, and heading to Color Me Mine for some creative ceramic painting. Because this get-together was going to take place on a Friday, which is not the norm for girls night, I decided I needed to find Jason some alternate entertainment for the evening. I couldn’t leave him home alone on a Friday night; that just wouldn’t be right. In lieu of wifely company I arranged for him to have some male companionship; I set him up on a man date. His brother Jeremy, my brother Drew, and our friends Jacob, Cody, and Greg all agreed to be Jason’s escorts for the evening- probably because he’s so hot!

Since I am too jumpy and anxious to watch horror movies, and Jason loves them, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for him to see the new Sam Raimi horror flick, Drag Me to Hell. He was all over that! And because my brother Drew’s birthday was the following day, Jason decided to make this event an honorary birthday celebration for him.

Ahh, aren't the boys so cute together!

Ahh, aren't the boys so cute together?

The guys went to the burger joint, Five Guys, for dinner and then ran to the movie. They enjoyed the show, but the highlight of their evening was apparently not the flick itself but rather what my brother Drew was doing during it. He jumped, squirmed, shrieked, and frequently shouted things like, “Don’t go in there!”. I’m sure I would have been very entertained by this if I had been present- oh wait, if I had been there I probably would have been way too terrified and busy screaming like a little girl to even notice Drew’s antics. Skittishness evidently runs in the family.

This is my vase before it's kilning.

This is my vase before kilning.

While the men relished the amusement Drew unwillingly provided, the girls talked non-stop through a delicious sushi dinner and then did some experimental painting at Color Me Mine. The hour and a half we had to paint until closing time didn’t allow me, an extremely slow perfectionist, to put many details on my vase, but some of the other ladies managed to create impressive pieces despite the time limit.  If only I could be that artistic! I’m sure all of their masterworks turned out fantastic after kilning!

My vase after kilning

My vase after kilning

I enjoyed my relaxing evening with the ladies and I’m glad that Jason’s sizzling man date was a success.

3 Jun

Going Up

Posted by on June 3, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Since we need to uphold our status as the coolest aunt and uncle around, last Saturday Jason and I took a group of our nieces and nephews to see the new Pixar movie, Up. We invited all of my sister’s and brother’s kids that are old enough to sit through a movie. Of course, I’m defining “sitting” here quite liberally as: constantly moving around while your hind-end is relatively close to a seat cushion.

We unwisely seated the two youngest, Miles and Jadon, next to each other. The proximity of these two squirming beings seemed to increase their wiggles tenfold. Besides just being restless, Miles was also a little freaked out by the “scary” dogs in this movie, which surprised me because that boy seems like he isn’t intimidated by anything, but he settled down once he was safely snuggled up on my lap.

Me withe the kiddies outside the theater

Me and the kiddies outside the theater

After the movie we walked a couple blocks to an ice cream shop and got the kids a treat. Benson had the oddest sundae: blue bubblegum ice cream topped with gummy bears and caramel. It didn’t quite look natural or appetizing to me but he was pleased to devour it.

Benson

Benson and his bizarre treat

Despite the mid-movie bathroom breaks and nearly constant fidgeting, we enjoyed our little Saturday outing with the kids. We’re glad we get the chance to indulge them now and then. After all, that’s what aunts and uncles are here for- spoiling kids and sugaring them up. We are more than happy to do both.