What is making me smile this week?

What is making me smile this week?

Hope you are taking a moment to smile this week. It is my hope this blog post will assist you in smiling. This feature was inspired by a wonderful show called the Pop Culture Happy Hour, a favorite podcast of mine from NPR. Please follow them on twitter at @nprmonkeysee.  At the end of each show, they discuss what is making them happy.  As a result, I am going to have a weekly feature in a similar vein, what is making me smile this week. The two things making me smile are pinto beans and The Amazing Spiderman 2.

Since I am a struggling vegetarian, I have explored many of the legume options available to me. My new favorite bean the pinto bean found me via a Spanish burrito at a restaurant. My eating out experience inspired me to make some quasi burritos at home, which were wonderful. I had no resulting digestive problems. As a result, this bean has taken first place in my heart and in my digestive system. It was hard fight but the pinto bean beat out the black bean for the number one spot. So here are my top 5 legumes from easiest to digest to hardest in my opinion.

  1. Pinto Bean
  2. Black Bean
  3. Chick Peas
  4. Black eyes peas
  5. Cannellini Beans

The second thing making me smile is the Amazing Spiderman 2, which I found to be very enjoyable. Andrew Garfield gives a more intense, dynamic, and dark approach to Spiderman. He strikes a nice balance between being cool and dorky/nerdy. As result, I highly recommend the movie to everyone who enjoys the genre. Additionally, I am excited about the next installment of Xmen. That will keep me smiling I am sure, since I adore the depth and breadth of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine. Of course, there is the marketing tie that I cannot be overlooked with Spiderman, so I must address it.


Sony did an awesome job of teasing us with trailers for months to keep the fan base excited. Naturally, the movie studios provided the required complimentary Spiderman merchandise and video game, which appeared to get concept of swinging and web throwing correct according to experts. The movie did a great tie in with the US post office on their trucks and television commercials. Naturally, Disney will work with Sony to time the release of the DVD for Halloween to be in tandem with merchandise to support fandom as well as excited youth market. The marketing of movies and related merchandise are always interesting along with being innovative sometimes. I didn’t see the US post office tie in with Spiderman coming, however US post office is feeling a great deal of external market pressures. As a result, the Spiderman marketing buzz was helpful in increasing the post office’s brand awareness to a different segment of potential consumers.

Well on that note, I say smile a little more this week. Have a great day!



Celebrating Salads!

Spinach Salad 4

Here are some great places to get a great salad:



Olive Garden

Trader Joe’s

Whole Foods Market



Making your own salad at home while supporting local farmers! 🙂 (Also it is the cheapest way to create a salad.)

A Confession….

            My blog originates out of a desire to help myself and others seeking a healthier way of being. As a result, I am confessing that I am struggling vegetarian. The challenge that I face is related to time, access, knowledge, and finances. The time issue creeps up either in small or large ways. A small way is taking the time to plan my meals for the week along with the weekly run to the produce junction. In addition, time is needed to exercise and meditate because vegetarian eating is a lifestyle, so exercise is needed to assist digestion. Time plays a bigger part with getting to a grocery store that sells vegetarian food items such as tofu, tempeh, falafel, etc, trips which I cannot always make because of time.

          Access is another issue, since the store locations that would best support a healthier diet are not in my immediate area. My neighborhood is a wonderful mix of upper income, working class, and new entrants as a result of gentrification happening all at once. Most residents don’t purchase a lot of products in the community including life sustaining items such as food in the neighborhood.

          Finances can be an issue for all parties even me. Sadly, broccoli in many communities cost more than the dollar menu French fries. This is an issue that I am only slightly insulated from, but anyone of us could be struggling with this additional limitation.

          Lastly, the knowledge part is something that I struggle with in particular. I grew up in a family that ate all imaginable and unimaginable parts of the pig. Along with eating the wonderful edible pig, a lot of food was cooked in a white substance called Cisco aka lard. Conversely, my mother was a big advocate of not eating lot candy, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, and playing outside. Also I must confess, I do love vegetables and fruits. I guess I got the good with the bad from my family. Thanks, Mom. Smile.

          So, I am confessing, so that you know I am SO SO imperfect as it relates to this vegetarian and healthy living thing. It is my hope to share my journey, support fellow struggling vegetarians, and keep myself accountable in a public way via this blog. Hopefully, my starts and stops along the way will be amusing as well as supportive to others. My next step is to share a weekly post about my food mishaps along the way to being a better vegetarian! The other weekly post will be more general healthcare topics. We can be our best selves together. Join Me. Share this Blog Post!

Great soups to eat during a polar vortex!


Happy New Year to Everyone! As a result of the polar vortex recent visit to the US northeast corridor, I have reconnected with my love of soups. Here are my top 3 soups: vegetable minestrone, black bean, and tomato basil Soup.  Of course, listed but not forgotten is vegetarian chili. Also I have included an easy recipe via the Food Network for minestrone soup with pasta, beans, as well as vegetables. Here is a website that appears to be devoted to soups around the world.  What are your favorite healthy soups?  Please let us know your favorite healthy/low calorie soups.

Happy Sunday!

Urban Healthy Chick

The Great Vitamin Debate, Again!


             There has been a great deal of discussion related to effectiveness of vitamins. One day they are bad for you, then the next the minerals and nutrients are important for stopping everything from alzheimers to cancer. I agree 110% that humans should strive to get their minerals and nutrients from quality fruits, vegetables, and non processed foods. My issue is with the discussion, so let’s look at two players to illustrate my point.

                American Medical Association is doctors that have attended medical school. It is a very well known fact in some circles that doctors receive very little training in nutrition. Therefore, it is very challenging for such a group to discuss in an educated and nuanced fashion: vitamins, healthy diets, and nutritional value of foods. However, these groups along with government agencies are leading the discussion about supplements and potential benefits. This is the same government that gives farmers of corn, American tax dollars money in the form of subsidies, that are returned to citizens via a corn fructose infused in lot of processed food products. This corn fructose has been linked to potentially obesity and high rates of diabetes in Americans.

Groups such as the Council for Responsible Nutrition are interested in selling their supplemental nutrition products. Additionally, many of the participants at the council are from pharmaceutical companies. Many pharmaceutical companies have consumer health divisions that sell products such as multivitamins.  The scientists are put in an interesting position of doing the research and then evaluating the products of companies that support their livelihood.  This creates a bit of a quandary for scientific professionals. I provided links to my facts as well as argument against vitamins, which was very interesting.

Why don’t we stop this silly discussion and focus on what is best for American citizens? The spin from both directions is very dizzying. We clearly cannot trust either governmental agencies or doctors to discuss nutrition in a patient centric way.

Article about Vitamin E benefits from MayoClinic:


Cancer and Vitamin D link:


Vitamins a waste via CNN opinion article:


Doctors and Nutrition Training:


A doctor says nutrition training is needed in medical school:


FDA issues:



Book: Our Daily Meds  by Melody Petersen.

Please let me know your thoughts or frustrations related to this issue.

Patients and their care should be the focus as it relates to vitamins/supplements.

Happy 2014, everyone!