Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Vegas Wedding Bells

The whole reason for the vacay: Tiffany and Rob's big day! All dressed up with somewhere to go!
The ceremony was at the Venus Garden at Caesar's Palace.  It was short and sweet and so beautiful!  Look how sweet they are! We had such a wonderful time in Vegas with these two.  Tiffany is such a sweet woman.  Mr. Kummerow and Tiffany have been very close for year's.  When I met Mr. Kummerow, Tiffany was so welcoming to me and made me very comfortable.  She has always been so supportive of us and I was so delighted we were able to share in her big day! 
After the ceremony we headed to Bally's for the reception.  These are our condo buddies.  We shared a suite for the weekend.  Vegas is such a good time!
Look what we found on the way to Bally's!
Our first viewing of the Fountains at the Bellagio!  Such perfect timing! These fountains were so much fun to watch and we actually caught them several times while in Vegas.
Check out some of these photos from the reception.  So classy and fun!
View from the ballroom!
Did I mention Tiffany was such a gorgeous bride!  Not to mention a fun bride! Of course you have to be fun to have your wedding in Vegas!
Dinner was brilliant! The most vegan-friendly menu I have ever encountered at a wedding! Thanks Tiff!
Dinner was of course followed by toasts.  Which brings me to my favorite part of any wedding...
And my lesser favorite portion of the evening...
Non-vegan cake! Which somehow ended up on my lips...
Hey! What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! Right?!

World School Milk Day

Guess what today is? World School Milk Day! Bob and Toby the Girl came home with stickers on their shirts pronouncing "Fuel up with milk."  Of course I had to do some research, and find out what this is all about.

Today is the 11th annual World School Milk Day, an international event that celebrates the importance of school milk in children's diets.  Their website announces that this event is a way to focus on children making healthy beverage choices.

While it is true that milk provides calcium and other nutrients that growing children need, my fear is that The World School Milk Day, as well as other well-known milk advertisements ("Got Milk" and "It does a body good") are misleading.  Did you know that there are vegetables that provide more calcium than milk?  And the calcium in milk is not well absorbed by the body because of animal proteins.  That raises the question whether milk is really the "super food" advertisers claim.  Here are some other lesser know facts about milk:

    • Milk doesn't benefit sports performance. • There's no evidence that dairy is good for your bones or prevents osteoporosis -- in fact, the animal protein it contains may help cause bone loss! • Dairy is linked to prostate cancer. • It's full of saturated fat and is linked to heart disease. • Dairy causes digestive problems people with lactose intolerance. • Dairy aggravates irritable bowel syndrome. 
    So here's the truth about dairy:
    According to Dr. Willett, who has done many studies and reviewed the research on this topic, there are many reasons to pass up milk, including:

    1. Milk doesn't reduce fractures. Contrary to popular belief, eating dairy products has never been shown to reduce fracture risk.
    2. Less dairy, better bones. Countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
    3. Calcium isn't as bone-protective as we thought. Studies of calcium supplementation have shown no benefit in reducing fracture risk. vitamin D appears to be much more important than calcium in preventing fractures.
    4. Calcium may raise cancer risk. Research shows that higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products may increase a man's risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent.
    5. Calcium has benefits that dairy doesn't. Calcium supplements, but not dairy products, may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
    6. Not everyone can stomach dairy. About 75 percent of the world's population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products -- a problem called lactose intolerance.


    Mr. Kummerow is lactose-intolerant, a fact that was a large contributor in choosing to go vegan.  When you think about it, we are the only species that drinks another mammal's milk.  And certainly the only species that drinks milk after weaning.  It seems to me, if 75 percent of the world's population cannot tolerate dairy, perhaps we are missing a large clue.  Maybe we shouldn't be drinking milk if  it is so intolerable!

    The World School Milk Day website also tells us: research shows children who drink milk at school are more likely to meet their daily nutrient needs.  We can offset this fact if parents at home were more concerned with their child's dietary needs.  I get it, it is difficult to prepare well-balanced nutritious meals at home for your children when you are busy.  I am struggling with the same issues as a nanny and trying to feed two very picky eaters, while holding down 2 jobs and still cooking for my own family.  But health and wellness needs to be a focus!  Forget working so hard to make enough money to give your kids all the extras in life...without their health, those extras won't mean a thing. 

    I hate to take a complete anti-milk stand, but it just seems that it isn't quite the "super food."  I think I would feel better serving my kids spinach knowing that they were getting their recommended calcium requirements and then I would not have to worry about the side-effects.  If you choose to drink milk, stick to organic milk.  Conventional milk is laced with hormones and antibiotics...things your 8 year old does not need!

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Tuesday Topics- Why Organic?

    Hi folks! Finally home from Las Vegas and somewhat recovered.  I didn't think I would be getting to the Tuesday Topics today.  But I have a few more minutes before dinner and I wanted to keep my commitment. 

    Today's topic is inspired by an article that Bob and Toby's dad sent me.  If you remember, these are the kids I babysit, and the weeks they are at their dad's I cook them dinner (tonight's unfortunately wasn't a Vegan Faith approved meal).  I typically send a meal plan with a grocery list each week and he does the shopping.  After the first attempt, he came home with a great selection of organic foods: pasta, fruits, vegetables and meats.  But all that organic food came with a hefty price tag and he questioned whether it was worth the money. 

    What does it mean to be organic and why is it so much more expensive?  I found a great  answer at  Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. This means a farmer must take obsessive care of the soil.  Keeping chemicals in the form of pesticides and fertilizers away from his crops requires laborious hand-weeding - and it's reflected in the price at the supermarket.

    Reading through the organic qualifications list, I think you get why you would want organic foods. Chemicals, sewage, or radiation aren't things I like to associate with food.  I think of it this way, if a word cannot be easily read or explained by a 3rd grader, I don't want it in my food!

    Just a quick briefing on the dangers of eating non-organic foods:

    According to the EPA, using pesticides have been shown to create many health problems including birth defects, nerve damage and cancer.  Genetically modified foods come with a set of problems as well.  Genetically modified foods are developed because of a perceived advantage over their natural counterpart (higher yields, better nutrient content) but have not been thoroughly researched.  New studies are beginning to reveal dangers associated with GM foods, even approved ones.  Some approved GM foods have been linked to organ failure, and according to the Center for Food Safety genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans including higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer.  These details do not even begin to touch on the environmental threats that pesticides, fertilizers and GM foods create.  Or how it all effects the small business farmer and local economy.  

    Rather than continue to dwell on the negatives, let me explain the positive effects of purchasing organic foods.  By buying organic you:
    1. prevent water pollution
    2. prevent air pollution
    3. prevent soil erosion
    4. ensure humane treatment of animals
    5. are supporting small farms
    6. will eat chemical free foods
    7. above all will notice better taste in your food!
     Back to my original point, it is certainly more expensive to purchase these foods.  Going organic is not easy, and like anything else, it requires a transition.  Not all of us can afford to go 100% organic every time we shop.  I know I certainly can't.  So I found the "Dirty Dozen" on The Daily Green to help you decide what you need to buy organic.
    1. Celery 
    2. Peaches 
    3. Strawberries 
    4. Apples 
    5. Blueberries 
    6. Nectarines 
    7. Bell Peppers 
    8. Spinach 
    9. Kale 
    10. Cherries 
    11. Potatoes 
    12. Grapes (Imported)
    These foods are determined as the dirtiest by the level of pesticides found.  The list doesn't address other issues of organic vs. not-organic such as GM foods.  But it is a starting point.  They also offer a list of "cleanest" foods that you can also find on The Daily Green.

    One side note: buying organic, doesn't ensure that your food is healthy.  While it is very important to buy organic, there are other items I consider when shopping for food.  Is this food a "whole food?" Meaning is it as close to its natural form as possible.  Apples vs. applesauce.  Oats vs. granola bar.  I try not to buy much processed foods, and a good rule of thumb is to buy items with 5 ingredients or less.  Those ingredients should also be easily read by a 3rd grader.  The other item I consider is whether the food is local.  Buying local foods decreases your carbon footprint and supports your local farmers and economy.

    Wow! Well I tried to make that short and sweet, but it is a lengthy topic.  I still do not feel I gave it justice.  For more information on buying organic check out these websites:
    Mayo Clinic 

    And just remember, every little bit counts.  Start small, and go from there.  You do not need to go organic overnight.  Just educating yourself is the first step.  My favorite way is to watch food documentaries.  My favorite is Food, Inc.

    Do you buy organic? What foods do you insist on purchasing organic? What is holding you back from buying organic?

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Disneyland for adults

    We are on our last day in Vegas, and I know I have so much to catch you up on! For today I will just leave you with this short post.
    Here are a few things I do not like about Vegas:

    1. You have to pay for water everywhere! Hello, we are in the desert...water should be free.  I have been so dehydrated!
    2. No recycling.  This upsets me because we are drinking bottled water everywhere we go, and I haven't seen a single recycle bin.
    3.  You can smoke anywhere.  I feel like I've been smoking.  My chest hurts, my nose is stuffed up.  I just want clean air to breathe.

    With the bad out of the way, let me tell you, I am loving Vegas.  Despite not being a gambler, and not being a shopper, and those are two of the most popular activities here, I just love it.  Vegas is like Disneyland for adults.  It is a world of make-believe.  My favorite thing to do is walk around all the hotels.  Stay tuned for a top ten list of my favorite hotels and a full report on all the food we consumed!  For now, there is still so much to see.  So we are off for another fun day.  Happy Monday!

    Saturday, September 25, 2010

    Airport fun!

    The clock on my computer is telling me it is 8pm, the one on my wrist is telling me it is only 5.  My body is telling me it is conflicted. 

    We made it to Vegas and we are having a great, but exhausting day.  Here's a photo recap of the rest of our airport travels. 
    Catching up on more Vegas while sitting at O'Hare on a layover.
    Happy Couple! Awaiting their Vegas flight.
    Healthy dinner at the airport: Salad Works
    We arrived!
    There are even slots at the airport in Vegas!
    I can't wait to give you all the fun details of our first day in Vegas, but right now it is time to go to the wedding! I am so excited!

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    On our way!

    Mr. Kummerow and I are at the airport, sipping Jamba Juice, awaiting our flight to Vegas!
    Our bags were quickly packed just hours ago, somehow I think we forgot we actually had to pack for this trip and waited until the very last minute.  Let's hope we didn't forget anything!
    This morning I squeezed in an 8 mile run.  I am tapering now for the Triple Lakes Trail Run, where I will run an 11 mile leg of a marathon relay.  So my farthest distance run was 10 miles last week.  I did 8 this week, and next week I will run 6 as my long run.  The following weekend is the race.  Despite the shorter run this week, I still logged 25 miles!

    What made the 8 miles this morning so special was A. I did it without stopping to walk! and B. I ran it all by myself!  During the relay I will be running without any of my usual partners by my side.  Unless I befriend a runner from a different team and keep pace with that person, I will be on my own on the trails for 11 miles.   I was worried that mentally I would hit a brick wall without someone to keep me company.  I intentionally ran by myself today to ensure that the I could do the distance solo.  To my surprise and pleasure, I actually felt great.  I brought my iPod with me in case I needed some motivation, but I never even used it!  Now I think I'm ready for the least mentally!

    Well, we are off to Vegas now! And guess what I'm watching on the flight to keep me busy...Vegas of course! I'm on season 4 and loving it!  Have a great weekend!

    Thursday, September 23, 2010


    I mentioned I had a surprise for today! Well here it is! Have you noticed how long my hair is getting? I wore it down to Emily's shower and even I was surprised how long it is.  For years I've been talking about donating my hair to Locks of Love.  So finally I bit the bullet. 
    Check out the length on these locks!
    I made an appointment with Donna Baker at Salon Elle.  She has never cut my hair before, so we were both a little nervous!  To donate to Locks of Love, you must have 10 inches cut in a ponytail.  So we started with pig tails.  And one by one Donna sliced them off!
    Immediately after the first one came off I had this intense sensation that I had just lost a limb.  It was such an odd feeling.  Cutting my hair was quite traumatic.  And I even teared up just a little.
    I think in many ways I have been hiding behind my hair for years.  It is my security blanket.  I have never had hair as short as it is now.  For most my life it has been very, very long.  My dad always adored us 3 girls with long hair.  And that's the way it was in my house.  Interesting, because my dad, who rarely calls, phoned me last night and left me a message that he missed me and was thinking about me.  I think he was missing my hair! I hadn't even told him I was cutting it off, but he must have a sixth sense about my hair!
    One more pigtail was cut and I was left holding my hair in my hands.
    Holding my hair was even more weird than having it cut.  It was very surreal!
    Despite the tears and drama, I know this hair will be loved.  I take great care of my hair.  Probably more because I am so low-maintenace, and not necessarily that I really take that great of care.  But I have not died my hair in over 5 years, I rarely use product or hairdryers.  When I held my hair it was soft and shiny.  I know that it will be a wonderful wig and will make someone very, very happy!

    I just love this- the mission statement for Locks of Love:
    Our mission is to return a sense of self, confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss by utilizing donated ponytails to provide the highest quality hair prosthetics to financially disadvantaged children. The children receive hair prostheses free of charge or on a sliding scale, based on financial need.

    It makes it all worth it! Even the initial shock of seeing myself with short hair!
    As she continued to cut, I became more comfortable.  And even started to like it a bit!
    Donna did such a wonderful job ensuring my comfort.  She went slowly and kept asking me what I liked.  She also kept me distracted with fun conversation.  I found out about Salon Elle and Donna first from my friend Ashley who always has awesome hair styles.  But then Donna signed up to coach for Girls on the Run and I had the opportunity to meet her in person.  She is a beautiful, caring woman with five children and a strong faith in Christ.  I felt comfortable around her immediately and knew that she would do a wonderful job.
    As you can tell, my smile grew as she continued to style.  And by the end I was a very happy hair donor.
    It is such a big change, but I can't hide behind my hair forever.
    It feels really odd not to have hair hanging down my neck, shoulders and back.  I keep reaching for a ponytail that doesn't exist.  This new haircut will take some getting used to!
    But I love it!

    You can check out Salon Elle at 149 Market Place Avenue, Mooresville, NC 28117.  Call for an appointment: 704-799-9384.  And if you see this post and visit Donna for a haircut for the first time you will receive 20% off your visit!

    Life is full of changes, and I am fully embracing this one!

    Interesting facts about me and my hair:
    • Rarely have I had the same person cut my hair twice.  (But I will definitely go to Donna again)
    • I usually cancel my hair appointments 2 or 3 times before I will actually go.
    • Before getting my haircut yesterday, I had high anxiety for almost an hour prior.
    • I almost canceled yesterday at the last minute. Even as I was in the salon waiting, I almost walked out.  Good thing Alex was with me to keep me there!
    Is your hair a security blanket for you? Have you ever donated hair to Locks of Love? Comment and let me know what you think of the new 'do!

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Veggie Stuffed Cabbage

    Good morning! Have I got a recipe treat for you today! I finally got back in the kitchen last night, and in an attempt to clean out the fridge of all perishables, created this masterpiece:
    Vegetable cabbage rolls! They were so delicious, and I was very happy with how they turned out! It creates quite a mess in the kitchen, but if you utilize your spouse as I do (I cook, he cleans) then you don't have to worry about the fact that this meal dirtied 3 pans!

    Before I get to the recipe, check out what I did yesterday:
    Um, yes that is me...on a bike...taking my own photo! You think I would learn my lesson from the scooter, and be a little more careful when hovering above pavement.  Thankfully, no accidents here! The kiddos got new accessories for their bikes this weekend and wanted to go for a ride...I rode their brother's bike.  However, there are discussions about Susan's (the kiddos mom and one of my running partners) old road bike and maybe a long-term borrow.  I think I may love riding.  If I can get over the fear of falling.  When you are on a bike, you just glide.  It isn't messy like running can be sometimes.  I feel on top of the world on a bike.  I am excited to try out this whole cycling thing.  And even more excited to try it out without breaking the bank on a bike.  It would be a shame to spend so much and then decide cycling isn't really for me.  So I'm excited for this "trial" bike.

    Ok, back to the recipe:

    Veggie Stuffed Cabbage

    Head of Green Cabbage
    1 cup Quinoa
    2 cups vegetable broth or water
    Olive Oil
    Lemon Juice
    2 cloves garlic
    2 cups carrots chopped
    2 cups broccoli chopped
    2 cups butternut squash, cooked, peeled and diced
    1/2 red onion, chopped
    Classic Hummus, or your choice of hummus
    Green onions, ends trimmed

    Prepare hummus in advance if making your own:
    I love whipping out my new food processor for everything now! It took me minutes to throw together the Classic Hummus Recipe!  I did use canned chickpeas this time to speed prep time.
    Prepare Quinoa
    Boil 2 cups vegetable broth or water in pot.  Pour in quinoa. Stir in salt and olive oil.  Reduce heat and simmer 17-20 minutes, until all water is absorbed.  Squeeze juice from 1/2 lemon and mix in.

    While Quinoa is cooking, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and stir in 2 cloves garlic, minced. Cook until fragrant and add onion.  Saute onion until translucent, add carrots, broccoli and squash and cook until carrots are easily pierced with a fork. 

    Meanwhile, heat large pot of water to boiling.  Cut out core of cabbage and place in boiling water.  As leaves begin to soften fall off the head pull out of water and set aside.  Repeat until all leaves are removed.

    In another small pot, heat water to boiling and stir in green onions.  Cook 2 minutes or until soft.

    Stuff the cabbage leaves:
    Begin with a spoonful of hummus, fork in 2 tbsp of quinoa and a heaping scoop of veggies.  Roll the sides of the cabbage together and then roll forward (similar to the method we used for spring rolls)
    Can you see my rad scar on my shoulder from the scooter accident?
    And check out my bandaged finger.  Makes rolling these stuffed cabbage leaves tricky!
     Secure each roll with green onion tied together (or if yours are too small, you can use a toothpick like I did).  Enjoy!
    For dessert:
    This cake is leftover from a meeting/dinner party I attended on Monday night.  I know the picture stinks, but you can still tell how light and fluffy this cake is.  Guess what is in it? Eggs? Butter? Nope. Just cake mix and Sundrop (that is a Southern style Sprite).  That is all.  It is a Tupperware recipe that you have to make in their special microwave cake pan.  I'm sure both the cake mix and Sundrop had high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and neither are good for you.  But I can't help but think, if I invested in this cake pan, I could purchase healthier versions of cake mix and soda- without HFCS in them, and have an easy cake recipe I can bring with me to all the dinner parties I attend.  Then I will never be without dessert ever again! And all these weddings I've been going to this year...I have just drooled over the cake- and even snuck a bite on a few occasions! Well if I had this cake to come home to, maybe I wouldn't need to "cheat."

    Ok, one last thought for the day: this morning I ran a strong 6 miles with my friend Chrissy.  But when I came home, there was no milk! What to do for breakfast with no milk? Argh! I was frustrated. No worries, though, I thought of something.  Right after our run, Chrissy and I ran in to Summit to grab coffee and she grabbed a yogurt parfait.  That got me thinking: I can have that for breakfast.  I created my very own yogurt parfait with Banana Soft Serve!
    I layered on the granola, Chia Goodness, Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, and raisins. Yummy!
    Alright folks, that is all for now! Have a great hump day! And have I got a surprise for you tomorrow!