My name is Yvonne. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, an aunt, manager/ chef/ maintenance crew at the Syto Manor, novice superhero of the planet, and a foodie. Oh yeah, I am also a registered dietitian nutritionist.
Needless to say, like so many women that have come before me, I wear many hats. I have one of the best jobs on the planet. I get to be a stay at home mother and wife that happens to gets paid to talk about food all day long. Many people are unsure what dietitians actually do when they are advised to see one. Contrary to popular belief, we are not in the business of taking food away. What a horrible business model that would be. Rather, we give food back to our patients, arming them with the tools they need to live healthy, in the real world. We provide survival skills to navigate in an ever changing world.
Alzheimer’s disease is a disease that takes prisoners while annihilating the victim. We embarked on this seemingly foreign battle officially almost 2 years ago, but I feel like it has been an eternity since I first noticed the signs in 2008.
Some days are really hard for mom and I. Our relationship has completely changed, and deep down I know she knows it. I really don’t know how to label it. It is beyond “the child is now the caregiver” thing. Now I spend my time making sure I can lay my head on the pillow at night knowing I did my best for her, even though others may disagree.
Yesterday, on the fly, I decided to take my mom out to breakfast, just the two of us. Like I said, some days are really hard for us but this morning was completely calm. When she looked at me, she saw me, her daughter, not a stranger. Talked about everything and nothing in particular and that was just fine. I will take that as a win.
My kids are constantly amazing me. As a parent you always wonder if you are raising them to be respectable little beings when they go out into the world.
Last week my kids started yet another week of soccer camp followed by Apple camp in the afternoon. Yet another week of fitting in patients and paperwork, while I make sure my kids have all I didn’t growing up, especially, summer fun.
After the first morning session of soccer camp, I picked up my kids, exhausted, and heated from 3 hours of play in the sun. My kids and their friend are always last because 1: they are discussing how to wrangle a play date, and 2: they just plain old enjoy each other’s company. When my friend and I got to the area where the kids keep their belongings, we were greeted by plastic cups all over the floor from the water breaks. My friend and I cringed and reminded the kids the scout phrase “leave no trace”. These kids went over and picked up each cup they had no part in leaving without so much as a complaint or a sigh (they bring refillable water bottles).
The next few days there was a garbage bag near the water cooler, so way less mess. On the final day though, no garbage bag = big mess. The next thing I know, my daughter went, got a garbage bag from maintenance and started picking up garbage without any direction from any adults. Bit by bit, 3 other campers began helping her. When I asked her why she did it she just answered “I don’t know, I just did it.”
At that very moment, my hectic day melted away. I totally did something right.
This is a recipe that usually goes over really well at most gatherings I serve it at. All I ask is that when you consume this (or really any meat for that matter), you consume it sparingly and paired with many, many, many plant based selections. Better yet, make sure to have a fiber filled smoothie that morning with loads of calorie burning activities in preparation. Heck do that the next day (and every day) after that.
I serve this with mini rolls (whole grain if you can find them) with sides to make mini Cuban sandwiches, or with black beans and yuca.
1 pork loin, about 3-4 pounds
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 cup loosely packed parley leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed garlic cloves
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp organo (dried)
1. Cut pork loin in half and pierce flesh several times to create holes in the meat for the marinade to penetrate.
2. Place the remaining ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend for approximately 2 minutes until a thick liquid forms.
3. Combine loin and marinade in a dish deep so marinade covers both halves. Marinate for 12-24 hours.
4. Place in slow cooker for 8-10 hours on low (but check after 6-8).
5. Shred meat with 2 forks, add salt and/or pepper to taste, and allow to cook on low for another 20-30 minutes before serving.
We live in an extremely fast paced world. Many of us go nonstop from the moment our feet hit the ground, not even taking a break to eat. We eat in the car, at a desk or event standing, shoveling it all in. Slowing down during meal times is imperative to moving forward on your journey towards optimal health. I present to you one of my favorite and most inexpensive ways to slow down when eating: chopsticks. Using chopsticks at meal times really forces me to slow down, because there is just so much I can pick up with them. Although I have really improved my skills using them throughout the years, it always works to get me to slow down. One rule though: the plate stays on the table or at least away from your mouth. No “shoveling” the food in. How do you slow down?
I present the latest addition to the Nutrition Map office. The price came down on #Amazon and we promptly snagged one up plus the desk expansion kit. How does it compare to walking while working? I find it easier to get work done on the bike however prefer the treadmill for webinars and lectures. If you find yourself on any device, mindlessly surfing the net, I still recommend getting up and moving. Might as well burn some calories while “surfing”.
Researchers often aim to “figure it out” or determine the one factor that is the cause of whatever they are investigating. We want to know the magical component that can be THE cure. We live in a reductionist culture. This couldn’t be more the case when it comes to obesity and the quest to lose weight and find good health. There are so many theories surrounding why humans weights are climbing. Everything from hormones, antibiotics, low activity, stress, vitamin deficiencies (just to name a few) are being investigated. We actually want it to be one single component. We NEED it to be. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
There are so many roads I can go with this, but I am only tackling one contributing factor today. Sitting on our bums. The longer you sit, the more your risk of dying increases (sleeping time excluded, that you need of course). Now you may be thinking, “I workout most days of the week so I am good” and I am sorry to report you are wrong. The longer you sit without getting up and moving, the worse it is for you.
One discovery I have made in my travels has been converting to a standing desk. You may be thinking this is an expensive new age concept and my employer will never go for it. I introduce what my husband came up with.
My standing desk is made from an old side table we found in the basement in our downsizing quest (that post is for another time). A shelf for the key board and trackpad completes the set up for my docking station. I sit when I am with patients, stand while charting, and when I need to complete online trainings, back to the treadmill I go.” Even my watch reminds me to stand.
When I buy zucchinis, I buy 4-5 at a time and use my “spiralizer” to make them into noodles. I usually use several cups immediately and pack the remainder into freezer safe containers, about 2-3 cups each. This recipe uses 1 container of my frozen zucchini spaghetti combined with whole wheat fettuccini. Serves 2. This recipe can totally be multiplied to make more servings.
2 oz dry whole wheat fettuccini noodles
3 cups of spiraled zucchini
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
2 oz shallots, chopped
3 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup white beans
1 tbsp red curry paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 ounce chopped scallions (optional)
Prepared peanut sauce (optional)
1. Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions. If your zucchini is frozen like mine, you can use the boiling water to thaw quickly before putting in the pasta.
2. In another pot (4 quart minimum) or large sauté pan, combine the water, carrots, shallots, mushrooms, and beans. Heat on medium for 10-15 minutes until vegetables have soften.
3. Toss in the curry paste and coconut milk stirring until combined and heat for another 5 minutes.
Toss in pasta and serve immediately topped with scallions and peanut sauce (if using).
First I will say the title of this post is so not what you may think it is about. Stay with me until the end and you will see where I am going with it.
So much has happened since my mother was diagnosed almost 15 months ago with Alzheimer’s disease. Another year of firsts, too many to count. But so far this has been the year:
My mother didn’t recognize me, like at all. Total blank. She looked at me with the pensive look like “this young lady looks so sweet and kind waving at me from across the room” kind of look. Luckily she came back to me when I called out “Mima.”
My mother forgot my birthday. Sounds so totally selfish on my part, but a necessary bump in the road I was meant to experience and handle.
Today, my mother forgot my kids entirely. She actually jumped back in horror when my 7 year old daughter ran to her screaming “Abuela Happy Birthday!” Thank goodness my daughter is so resilient and happy. Let her brightness shine on.
Today I took mom out to celebrate another year on this planet. Another year of changes in our relationship. Another year I will survive, because she needs me to. Another year I will treasure the art and gift of remembering.
After dinner we crossed the street and went for dessert at Strawberry Fields in Morristown. For so long I felt like a fighter in life, and now I am learning I am a survivor. “War is Over, If You Want It.” This is the year I commit to finding peace in it all.