Saturday, January 29, 2011

EASY Egg-Free Cupcakes

Baking for vegan?  Got allergies?  What to do about the egg part of the recipe?
What to do when you CAN'T use these?

I needed to make some egg-free cupcakes for a birthday party recently, and after perusing many options and suggestions, I decided to try a few different versions to see how they would turn out.  I did NOT want to make them from scratch, if at all possible.  It turns out you don't have to!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Let me tell you all about you

People love to analyze themselves, to figure out why they do things a certain way, what motivates them in everyday life, and what draws them to others.

Moving one step further, people really enjoy it when someone else can give them the answers and fill in the blanks for them.  This I think explains the love of horoscopes and fortune telling.  I was surprised to learn that more than 1/4 of all Americans believe in astrology.  This reality has been highlighted recently with all the buzz about zodiac signs and shifting planets that has been in the news lately (and much talked about).

In case you are one of the last to know, here is the article that explains why the sign you thought you were may not be your true one.  And here is an article (one example of many) that highlights the identity crises that are happening all across the country.

In honor of all this frivolous hubub, I'd like to offer an alternative system for identifying your strengths and characteristics.

Twelve Signs of the Garden
Based on what delicious produce is at its peak of perfection.  What better way to connect with your roots?

Monday, January 10, 2011

How Clean is Your Favorite Restaurant?

While waiting to pick up some take-out food from one of our favorite local restaurants last weekend, my eyes fell upon this most unfortunate sign in the window:

"Public notice
Upon last inspection this establishment 
with the acceptable sanitation standards 
of the Oregon Health Division 
of Sanitation"

A few questions came to my mind:
What?  Was I reading that correctly?
They're still in business?  Is that even legal?
Is my food ready yet?

Funny thing was, I seemed to be the only person who noticed the sign.  I happened to be waiting outside for my order, enjoying the crisp wintery air and the peaceful night.  There was a steady stream of people wandering in for their take-out packages, oblivious to this important public announcement posted right by the door.

When I got home my husband and I did some researching on the topic (over a plate of pad thai...hey we were still hungry!).  Here's what we learned:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Power of Choice

When I was a kid, I knew I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up.  It was a wonderful feeling.  My first big dream was to be a singer.  As a little girl I would perform from my "stage" in the living room and belt out my favorite songs (ah, Dolly Parton) and show off how I could sing my A-B-C's in vibrato (like the opera), which I considered to be very advanced.

As the years passed, my world of possibilities became more limited.  By the time I was a teenager I could feel the pressure to make the right decision for my life's purpose and direction. 

I came to the conclusion that I had two choices:
1) lawyer
2) doctor

For some reason I thought those were the "best" jobs out there.  Even though I knew very little about what either of them would actually entail, let alone what the various other options might be.  After more thought, some very enjoyable science classes, and an inspiring health class, I decided I would be a doctor. 

What had started as a wide open meadow of limitless possibilities, had now evolved into a well defined path leading toward a distinct goal.

This is NOT a story about ending up in the wrong place.
Today I am completely in love with what I do for a living.  Working with kids and their families, learning new things on a daily basis, watching technology advance with the field, and teaching.  It is an honor and a privilege to be a part of these patients lives.

It's about finding my voice again.
What I also love is my ability to define what, where, and when I do my work.  Without this power, the joy is much harder to come by.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I Love Shopping From Home

Let's say you want a garlic press.  You're tired of holding those little cloves of garlic on the cutting board while you mince them.  You want a nice one that works well and is comfortable to hold.  You don't need it right this moment, but it would be nice to have it soon, so that it's handy when the urge to make stir fry strikes.
Oxo SteeL Garlic Press, Stainless
So you wait until the weekend when you have some free time, get in the car and drive 20 minutes to your store of choice (Target perhaps), try for a close parking spot but fail because everyone else shops on Saturdays too, walk about a mile's worth circling the store for not just the item you want, but other departments of interest too (might as well, while you here...), wait in line to check out, pay for your cart full of stuff (half of which you probably didn't actually need), run through the rain back to your car, and drive the 20 minutes back home.


Pop online (Amazon, for example), type "garlic press," search through the results for your perfect fit and price, see that a hundred+ reviewers have given this product an average of 4.5/5 stars, click in into your virtual cart, then find the lovely item on your doorstep a few days later.

Is there any contest here?

The (Bad) News

I literally grew up watching the evening news.  As young as I can remember, I would perk up when hearing the theme music.  I would mimic my father as he stood before the TV screen unconsciously stroking his mustache, carefully studying the events unfolding.  Each night we gladly welcomed Dan Rather into our home (we "knew" him way back when he was a local news reporter).

I carried on this tradition when I left home for college and beyond.  My day didn't seem complete without a nightly recap of the latest events from one of the trusted anchors.  Even with the availability of online news articles, I kept up my ritual, enjoying the tidy 30 minute package of stories, conversation, and video footage that brought it all to life.

It's been many months now since I stopped watching the news, and I know I am much happier because of it.

Why did I stop?
Because it's mostly bad news!  Bad in more than one way.
1) For some reason it's the rare but horrible things that happen in the world which qualify as newsworthy.  Threats, murders, accidents, disasters, and scandals get top billing.
2) Stories are sensationalized, with snippets made to grab your attention rather than deliver true substance.  "Coming up, an amazing new discovery that will add years to your life..."  or "the hidden danger inside your own home that could be making you sick..."  The answers to these teasers are almost always a fairly boring one, that put in the right context isn't actually a breakthrough at all.
3) Because of the need to report the latest updates about headline stories, the shows are often repetitive.  Think of day #xxx of the BP oil disaster and you get my point.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Perfect Winter Drink

I've just come up with the most delicious drink that's also very simple to make and perfect for those cold winter evenings.  I must share it with the world!

The taste is familiar, hot spiced apple cider, but the formula is new.  Simply warm up a cup of cider, and plop in a bag of Tazo's sweet cinnamon spice tea!  It's so brilliant, I don't know why I didn't think of is sooner!

I bet this would work with red wine too, also known as mulled wine or "Glogg."

Happy 2011 everyone!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Feeding Your Baby

As a pediatrician and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), I agree with and follow the vast majority of guidelines put forth by the AAP.  As a woman of science and a mom, I can see how some of the advice and policies are based less on researched evidence and more on tradition.

One of the BIG areas that I feel needs changing is that of starting baby on solid foods.

Why is this important to me, and why should it be important to all parents out there?
*  You may be restricting your children from a wide world of delicious foods.
*  This may cause them to grow up with a narrow selection of taste preferences.
*  This leads many parents to panic and give their child whatever they will eat, often resulting in too many starches and sweets.
*  This may contribute to unhealthy feeding habits, which could be a source for overweight and obesity issues.
*  This may also be a cause for our leading nutritional deficiency, iron.

Here are some of the steps TRADITIONALLY put forth: 
(see example here
- Wait until baby is 4-6 months of age, and watch for signs of readiness (sitting upright, lack of tongue thrust, watching you eat or grabbing food from your plate).
- Start with just rice cereal for a month or two.
- Next give one new food per week, so that you watch for signs of allergic reaction.  These should be cooked pureed fruits or vegetables.
- Next try meats (still only one new food per week).
- Give 100% fruit juice to drink, limiting to 4-6 oz per day.
- Delay eggs until after 1 year of age.  Delay peanut products until even later.

Do these sound familiar?  Many pediatricians are still offering this advice, even though MUCH of it is outdated and inconsistent with current scientific findings.