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Archive for November, 2013

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So this morning I had the privilege and opportunity to be a guinea pig for a couple of scientists over at the Spaulding National Running Center, a part of Harvard.  The folks at the NRC are studying the biomechanics of those of us who a) run barefoot or barefoot style and b) have not had any injuries to the lower extremities recently that would keep us from running.  I jumped at the chance to participate, in part because it sounded like fun and in part because in a couple of weeks I will get a High-Definition, Super Slow Motion recording of my stride along with what my GRF (Ground Reaction Force) is.  All super cool stuff, but nothing to do with today’s post.

While the scientists were marking me up with pen and then attaching tiny reflectors all over my body, they became somewhat frustrated.  It turns out that my skin, for whatever reason, has a higher resistance to ink than that of a typical person.  In addition, my level of adhesiveness is also substantially lower.  This is not due to lotion or moisturizer – they had made it very clear that we were not to use anything of that sort before coming in.  The various reflectors took many times more tape and adhesive spray that their typical subjects required.  One of the scientists joked that I must be made of Teflon.

Which leads me to just one conclusion…

Remember the old school yard saying?  Well, it’s true…

I’m rubber and you’re glue…

How do I know?

…because Harvard said so!

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America is in trouble because its [sic] perpetuated this idea of “enjoying food” and food that make(s) you “feel good”. People need to understand that food is fuel. Its not there to entertain you.
-a commenter on Go Kaleo’s Facebook Page

To which I say, well then what is the friggin’ point, man?  If you take that approach to life, you are really going to to lead a dull, boring life, aren’t you?

Is food fuel?  Yes, of course it is.  Should we eating whatever we want, whenever we want?  Absolutely not.  But why the heck would you NOT want to enjoy your food when you do have it?  For Lord’s sake, taste is one of our five major senses, and arguably the most intimate.  I wonder if the people who preach the “Food is only fuel” mantra feel the same way about sex?  It’s only for procreation!  or music? sound is only for communication! or the smell of a rose? smell is only for warning us of danger!

As a person of Japanese decent, I have been exposed to food in a very different way – a meal is not just fuel;  a meal is something that pleases as many senses as possible – from the subtle flavors (emphasis on subtle), to the simple visual presentation, to the smells and sounds (say from a sizzling dish) and of course texture of the dish.  A meal is to be enjoyed by all five senses, not just downed in an attempt to fuel the body.

But most importantly, a meal is something you take time to enjoy.  Eat it slowly, take your time, let your senses revel in the process of consuming.

Whether you are a believer in God or a higher power or, like me, the Universe, we were given a gift when we emerged from the primordial ooze – the ability to sense and enjoy what we sensed.  Beauty comes in all kinds of forms – there is beauty in touch, in sight, in sound, in scent and in taste.  Why would we obsessively deny ourselves the ability to experience the beauty that is all around us.

Food, or more importantly a meal, invites us to do just that.

Does our American society have a problem with food?  There’s no arguing that.  Everything is super-sized, extemely salted, heavily sugared and overly processed; the foods that much of the Nation consumes are addictive, calorically dense and nutritionally empty.  But Americans aren’t addicted to the enjoyment of food…they are addicted to the food choices they have made – there is a difference.

Does that mean we need to stop enjoying our food?  I don’t think so.  Maybe we need to take a clue from my ancestors and take a moment to slow down, observe, inhale, listen, touch and taste.

m&t_zilia_0003_4and remember the Okinawan phrase: Hara hachi bu.

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cant_say_that

There are some words that, in my humble opinion, should rarely, if ever, be used – the list is relatively short.  You can probably come up with them all on your own – the “n” word, the “r” word, the “c” word…I’m sure there are a few others, but suffice it to say, that these words are frowned upon because as a society we have realized that they are hurtful in more ways than just hurt feelings.

It seems that there are some in the health industry who would like to take a few more words away from your vocabulary – the most prevalent one being “moderation”.  Why do they want to take this word away from you?  Simply put, because it’s a crutch; an excuse for poor choices; it means different things to different people; and my personal favorite people are too dumb to know what moderation really means.

Andy Bellatti, a register dietician, recently wrote on the Huffington Post that “Everything in moderation,” is another way of unnecessarily and inaccurately equalizing all foods. It operates on the inane and utterly insane notion that peaches, Pop-Tarts, muffins, soda, lentils and tomatoes should all be approached the same way.

Um…really?

He goes on to imply that you, the public, are not intelligent enough to understand that three cups of mixed greens as part of a salad are not the same thing as three cups of chocolate pudding.

And that you are too clueless to realize a large Dunkin’ Donuts Mountain Dew Coolatta should not be consumed with the same frequency as unsweetened green tea.

And that you have no idea that eating a pint of blueberries in one sitting is very different from eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs.

Hmmm…is that you?

Personally, I think most people actually do understand that.

Do you really think that three cups of mixed greens is the same as three cups of chocolate pudding?  If I were to say to you that you’re okay to eat chocolate pudding occasionally, as long as it’s in moderation, would you interpret that as “I can eat 3 cups of chocolate pudding every single day!”?

Do you, as many of these health experts believe you do, believe that drinking a 32 oz soda slushy is the same as drinking unsweetened green tea?

In your mind is eating a pint of blueberries the same as eating a pint of Häagen-Dazs?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Now, Bellatti does have a point.  Ask 20 people what moderation means and you will probably get 20 different answers, but you can bet next week’s paycheck that the majority (and to be specific I’ll say 80%) of the answers will be lumped together like a giant bell curve, varying only minutely.

Perhaps Bellatti and those of his ilk are former food addicts in a past life and feel they must go to extreme measures to keep their past behaviors under control.  You know what?  That’s not fair, I don’t know him at all, but perhaps Bellatti and his followers simply need to do a better job of reminding themselves what “moderation” actually means and relearn that a moderate amount of food A is not is not going to be the same as a moderate amount of food B…

Here’s a little help:

mod·er·a·tion
ˌmädəˈrāSHən/
noun
noun: moderation
1.  the avoidance of excess or extremes, esp. in one’s behavior or political opinions.

synonyms: self-restraint, restraint, self-control, self-command, self-discipline, temperance

Notice the synonyms?

I’m not a dietician.  I don’t even play one on TV, in part, well, because I’m not on TV, but I’m pretty sure that someone who has worked hard for their RD status can work with individual clients and help those who want to know what a moderate amount of chocolate pudding would be…it’s certainly going to be a significantly less amount, in both volume and frequency, than a moderate amount of salad greens.

…but of course, most of us already knew that.

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Today’s recipe is actually a modification of one of my favorite recipes.  The original recipe is from Loren Cordian’s The Paleo Diet Cookbook.  To be clear, I am NOT an adherent to any “diet”.  My personal belief is that if it is yummy and relatively healthful?  I’ll eat it!  The original recipe calls for shrimp, but with cost in mind, I went with chicken tenders that were on sale for $2.99 per pound.

Here are the ingredients:

2 tbs olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes slice in half (I like to use a full cup)
1 pound of chicken tenders, cut lengthwise then chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 teaspoon of paprika
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (I use a handful)
Juice from 1/2 lime
Cayenne Pepper, to taste

It’s pretty straightforward.

1. Heat oil over a medium heat

2. Add garlic and sauté for one minute.

3. Add tomatoes and continue cooking for 2 more minutes.

4. Toss in chicken, stir for a couple of minutes and then cover for two more until chicken is cooked through.

5. Turn off heat and toss with paprika and cilantro.

6. Squeeze lime juice over the chicken and sprinkle with cayenne.

7. Serve either over or next to one cup of cooked quinoa

Serves 4

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Going forward I am going to have to assume that you have supplied your kitchen with a few essentials – olive oil, butter, spices like paprika, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper.  These will not be included in my pricing in part because they are investments that should last you at least a month or two even with daily use.  So this is how the pricing breaks down for this meal.

$2.99 – one pound of chicken tenders$0.66 – 1/3 of a bunch of cilantro ($1.99 per bunch)
$2.00 – cherub tomatoes (a little less than 1/2 a package at $3.99 per package)
$0.25 – juice from 1/2 lime at 50¢ per lime
$0.30 – one clove of garlic at $2.99 per bulb
$2.35 – 1/2 package of TruRoots Quinoa at $4.69 per package

GRAND TOTAL – $8.55

If you still have the salad supplies from earlier, you can make a nice side salad somewhere between $1.50 ~ $2.00 bringing you total to just a touch over $10.

The final numbers (per serving):

Calories: 370 cal
Fat: 8 g
Cholesterol: 65 mg
Sodium: 105 mg
Carbs: 44 g
Dietary Fiber: 8 g
Protein: 35 g
Iron: 25%
Vitamin A: 68%
Vitamin C: 41%

As always, let me know what you think! If you have a recipe you think I could use for this series, please let me know.

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I went out for a run this morning.  5 miles, 39 minutes on the nose.  I went out with no particular plan, but I eventually found myself at the local high school track.  While there, for no apparent reason, I decided to do a couple of Fartleks at 5 minutes a piece, averaging at about a 6:20 pace.  The run itself really is nothing to write about; it is rather how my run started that has me sad.

For over the past year I have been using the Charity Miles App for almost every run I do outside.

It is ingrained into my routine – step outside, put in earbuds, start my playlist, start the Charity Miles App, swipe to the Autism Speaks page, hit go, run.  For almost every single run over the past year and a half, this has been my routine, whether it be a training run, a fun run or a race.

The same thing, over and over.

Every run was inspired because I knew every extra mile was a little extra money going to Autism Speaks…every extra stride was money being spent on awareness…every step was improving the lives of autistics and their families…

With the family out on various errands and activities, I decided I needed to go for a run.  I went through my routine – step outside, put in earbuds, start my playlist, start the Charity Miles App, swipe to the Autism Speaks page, hit g…

I stopped.

I thought of Suzanne Wright’s call to action.

I stared at my screen.

I thought of Suzanne broadly painting every family with autism as lost.

I sighed.

I thought of Suzanne making it clear that their focus was on children only.

My thumb hovered over the start button…wavering just so.

I thought of the countless autistic adults who are being left behind by Suzanne Wright’s call to action.

I sighed and looked away, hanging my head.

I thought of the fact that Brooke is only a handful of years away from being an adult.

Sadness overcame me as I realized I just couldn’t bring myself to pressing start.

I swiped through the other very worthy charities that Charity Miles has teamed up with.  I finally settled on Achilles International, an inspiring group that helps disabled athletes compete in events like the New York City Marathon.  Although I did not cry outwardly, I was doing so on the inside.

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…feeling lost and sad after 5 miles…

I am sad.

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There is a certain freedom I feel when I run – the rhythmic beat of my feet, the wind in my hair, the straining of my muscles and lungs, all contribute to a feeling that I am free to go, at least for a short while, wherever my feet may take me.  For a while, running served solely as my version of therapy.  Along with the everyday struggles we all experience in life, our family also has an autism diagnosis.  I will readily admit I struggled with the concept that my baby girl was not going to lead the life I had imagined for her.  It took me some time to adjust my way of thinking…evolve, if you will.  Initially running gave me an outlet, a place where I could funnel all my frustration and anger and return physically spent but mentally refreshed and recharged.  It wasn’t long thereafter that I realized that I could use my running, the activity that had given so much to me over the course of a year or two, and use it to help my daughter and those like her.  Running would not only help me deal with my daily struggles with my daughter’s autism diagnosis, it would help make the world a better place for her.

In the very beginning of our family’s journey with autism, my first thoughts were focused on a cure.  I was scared, not for me, but for my baby.  How on God’s green Earth was she ever going to make it without being cured of this…this…thing?  My initial reaction to Brooke’s diagnosis was because there was so little out there in the way of awareness and accommodation.  For months I would cry when nobody was looking, whether it was in the bathroom in the middle of the night or during the day when I was home alone.

Eventually I came to understand that what was best for my baby was autism awareness.  What would a cure mean anyway?  Who would I be left with?  Through our initial interactions with Autism Speaks, I became enamored with their awareness campaign and their dogged pursuit of health insurance reform on a state by state basis. In 2010 I began running for Autism Speaks in support of these two things, knowing that awareness and health insurance coverage for autistics would make my daughter’s life easier, better, more accessible.

Since Fall of 2010 I have run three New York City Marathons, two Boston 13.1 Half Marathons, one 100 Mile Ultra-Marathon and streaked 167 straight days while using the Charity Miles App, raising thousands of dollars, all in support of Autism Speaks because I believe in awareness and I believe in health care coverage for autistic people.

Awareness leads to understanding which in turn leads to compassion and empathy which hopefully evolves into acceptance and inclusion.  Health care coverage means families worry less and have more time to focus on what is most important – their family.

Suzanne Wright has painted me into a corner.  She has made it clear that her focus is on children and on a cure.  She has chosen to ignore self-advocates and the whole of adult autistics.  I understand that the autism she and her family experiences may be different than that of mine.  I even understand why some families seek a cure – I was one of those people once upon a time.  There’s a reason why they seek it, and for some, it has nothing to do with autism and more to do with how society, and certain advocacy groups, views autistic people – there is a difference.

Some day, Brooke will be an adult.  She will still be autistic.  My hope is that she will be able to advocate for herself and others like her if she so chooses.  I hope that people will listen to her just as intently then as they do now.

Suzanne Wright has painted me into  a corner because in her plan, there will soon be no room for Brooke; there will be no place for her in Suzanne’s world view.  Why does this matter?  Because Autism Speaks has the biggest platform, the loudest voice and the most money.

Throw me a bone, Suzanne.  Tell me you understand that there is more than just one autism.  Tell me that you understand that our children will grow up to be adults.  I know many parents mourn the child they thought they were going to raise.  Honestly though, how many parents, of any children, actually end up raising the kids they imagined they would have. 

There are times, Suzanne, where I and my family feel lost.  That doesn’t mean we are lost.  There is a huge, HUGE difference.  Throw me a bone, Suzanne.  Tell me that the opinions of autistic adults, no matter how they communicate, matter.  Tell me that you’ve gone back over your last op-ed piece and realize that your words were too harsh, too exclusive, too narrow.  Tell me you want John Robison back and that you promise to add several more autistic adults to your board so that you can better direct what it is that Autism Speaks stands for.  It’s right there in the name, Suzanne.  Autism Speaks.  Please, throw me a bone.

Running is where I find freedom – it is a joyful experience for me.  You can see it here after 26.2 miles of spreading autism awareness.

...after 26.2 miles of spreading awareness...

The New York City Marathon 2013…after 26.2 miles of spreading awareness…

Where does that energy come from?  My daughter…my autistic daughter who will someday be an autistic adult.  Someone who is only about 10 years away from not fitting into your model anymore.

What am I supposed to do Suzanne?  What am I supposed to do?  Throw me a bone, please, because you’ve painted me into a corner.

I leave you with this thought that came mind this morning:

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So Lord only knows if this is going to work or even if people are going to like it, but here goes…

I would like to introduce you to the $10 Meals Series – hopefully an ongoing weekly series here at Run Luau Run.  For the premiere of the series, I am going with an old standby in our household, Grandpa Bill’s Tuna Noodle Casserole…honestly, Grandpa Bill’s Casserole isn’t that different from anyone else’s.  In fact, last night I received an email from one of my readers, Tristen, who offered up a very similar recipe.  Tristen adds a 1/2 cup of milk to the recipe.

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Is it healthful?  Relatively speaking, yes.  Here are the vitals:

Ingredients:

TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE

2 Cans of Tuna – drained $2.50
1 Can of Cream of Mushroom Soup – $0.75
1 Box Quinoa Garden Pagoda Pasta – $2.99
8 oz Frozen Peas – $0.50
TOTAL: $6.74 (In the Youtube video below I misread the price on the soup at $1.33 when in fact it was 75¢.)

SALAD

1 Head Romaine Lettuce – $0.67
1/3 Package of Cherub Tomatoes – halved – $1.33
Handful of Kalamata Olives – halved – $1.00
TOTAL: $3.00

GRAND TOTAL: $9.74

The directions are pretty simple.

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F
2. Boil Pasta for 7 – 8 minutes depending on desired tenderness.
3. Drain pasta, place back in pot and mix with tuna, cream of mushroom soup and peas.
4. Spread in a casserole dish, cover with foil, bake for 30 minutes.5. Uncover casserole and bake for an addition 15 minutes or until top is at desire crispiness.
6. Take out of oven and let sit for 5 minutes to set.

While all of this is happening, chop of romaine head and toss with tomatoes and olives.  Dress with a little olive oil and sea salt and you are good to go.

The nutritional information on the casserole:

8 Servings total.
Per Serving:
170 calories
2.5 grams of fat
30 grams of carbohydrates
3 grams of fiber
7 grams of protein
379 mg of sodium
Iron 7% RDI

Let me know what you think.

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