Are you fixing the plumbing, or building a mansion? Part 2 of 2

At church Sunday, someone was making an announcement about a care center that wants us to bring them snacks for the mentally handicapped residents: “The care center staff said they want HEALTHY treats, like fruit snacks and Gushers.” I don’t know what Gushers are, but the fact that they have a brand name is a bad sign. The person making the announcement turned to the side of the room where I was sitting and said, “Robyn would not approve of these ideas as healthy snacks, and neither do I, but anyway, that’s what they want.”

(I love how at church I seem to have a “rep” even though I never talk about food there.)

It’s a throwback to my days as a grad-school intern on the State Hospital Children’s Unit 15 years ago. I went to the director to plead for less sugar on the unit. I could see that the kids were constantly ill, incessantly fed antibiotics, most of them overweight, because the school and therapists rewarded them with candy, the hospital cafeteria’s nutrition was appalling, and after-school volunteers brought cookies and junk nearly every day. I was brushed off by the psychiatrist director who said, “Sugar is the only love most of these kids every get, and it’s not a big deal. We’re dealing with REAL issues here.” In other words, he was saying: nutrition doesn’t matter for these kids.

I don’t want to roll my eyes. I want to educate patiently. I hope I am always tolerant. I hope I always teach to the knowledge level of the audience. I hope I never act superior.

Whatever knowledge I have, I gained it as God was building a courtyard in my cottage, while I would have much preferred just a little cleanup. I lean on others in their areas of subject-matter expertise where I am shaky. (Computers. Applied math. Spatial puzzles and maps.)

God is making a mansion of me. When He knocks out a support beam, I want to grow from it instead of shake my fist at heaven.

Last Sunday at church, Carla, in our women’s organization, gave a lesson on the Word of Wisdom scripture. I attend a lay church, where the parishioners are also the teachers. She said my name three times during the lesson, as if she had no right to teach on nutrition because I happened to be there.

Fact is, as I told her later, it was the best lesson I’ve ever heard on the Word of Wisdom, my religion’s scripture about nutrition. I told her, “I don’t think I would have had the courage to be so bold.”

She’d researched statistics about the health risks associated with red meat, caffeine, carbonation. She indicted Utah’s prescription drug dependency (especially anti-depressants) as fueled by the culture, even reading a quote from our attorney general. She read stats about the benefits of whole grains, the benefits of drinking a lot of water.

She didn’t cover sugar, she didn’t cover the Word of Wisdom’s counsel to “eat meat sparingly,” she said that poultry and fish are good for you. But overall, I found the whole lesson to be starkly committed to the truth, relative to most lessons I hear on that topic.

She did cover the closing line of D&C 89, that if we eat whole foods, “I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” This seemed to have a profound emotional impact on the teacher. No wonder, as her husband has battled prostate cancer this past year. Who doesn’t want to put that amazing promise to the test?

She was so stunned when I gave her a hug and told her I would probably have soft-pedaled the topic, myself. Why? I hate offending people. And, as I said to her, “People are more emotional and opinionated about food than they are about religion and sex.”

Anyway, thanks for the food for thought, Jennie, and the Word of Wisdom lesson, Carla.

Do all of GSG’s friends drink green smoothies?

The answer to that question is NO. Only about 95% of them. A longtime holdout is Kristin, very possibly my best friend, who is a newly single mom and stays with me 9 nights out of the month when her ex moves in with the kids. She also works for GreenSmoothieGirl.com, and she’s been my assistant at tons of my speaking events. She drinks up to 84 oz. of Diet Coke every day. It’s her safe place, her stress reliever, her energy prop.

Kristin has lost 38 lbs. in the past year. She has a thing she has done to stop buying junk food (M&M’s formerly being her vice). When she goes to the store, she walks past the candy aisle and sneers, says to herself, “I don’t eat that s%#! any more!” I don’t know if that’ll work for you, but it works for Kristin so I’m passing it along.

Despite being surrounded by offers of green smoothies and raw food, at my house, and listening to my enthusiasm for the topic nearly ad nauseum, she had yet to try anything except Hot Pink, which I have fed her for breakfast fairly regularly and which she likes.

How is this possible, you ask? Believe it or not, I don’t talk about food much when I’m not teaching about it. I probably talk about it less than the average person, in fact. I figure, when people want to know, they’ll ask. They know I know stuff.

Kristin has never asked. I have, on a rare occasion, made a mild comment. Like, “Hey, I really think your anxiety isn’t just circumstantial. Nutrition might make a real difference.” Stuff like that.

I watch and wait. I’ve been friends with someone for YEARS, or dated a guy for many months, before they really get motivated to start the GS habit. Finally, this week, Kristin announced that she’d started green smoothies the day before. Mostly because her oldest daughter (age 18) decided SHE wanted to!

Next day, she went to Costco and they had no spinach. Her 12-y.o. twin daughters cried, “Oh no, what will we do?!” LOL.

I asked Kristin what her experience was after 24 hours and 2 smoothies. She’s one who always tells me the truth, good or bad, because we trust each other completely. She said, “I feel happier today, not my usual anxiousness. I got up this morning easily and was alert–-I actually WANTED to go for a run.”

Then my friend Liz came over last night for a while. She asked me to tell you her tip. Like Kristin, she’s a busy, working, single mom of 6 kids. She spends two hours, every few weeks, making 40 GREEN SMOOTHIES and freezing them! Her counter is covered with green foods and fruits and she just bangs it out and fills up her big freezer.

Not a bad idea–then your nutrition for a few weeks is a guarantee. She takes hers to work frozen and it thaws there.

NYC: hot dogs or raw gourmet? Horn of plenty or fries and a shake?

After my second trip to New York City this year, the verdict is this: in keeping with the diversity of that teeming city as immigrants poured in during the 19th and early 20th century, the city is all things.

Hot dog stands AND lush edible vegetables growing next to the street on 9th Ave. A horn of plenty in the Macy’s parade, and a giant Ronald McDonald and Pillsbury Dough Boy. A huge Hershey’s store on Times Square, AND Sarma Melngailis’ Pure Food and Wine restaurant.

(See them below. My friends Jamie and Jennie were afraid to try the oyster mushroom I am showing in the photo, so I enjoyed most of the 10 fabulous courses myself. Both of my friends suffer from horrific endocrine / hormone problems that cause them great pain as well as infertility. I am working on getting them to see the connection between those issues and diet/lifestyle. Both subsist primarily on junk food, so raw food dishes taste strange to them. Anyway, the food was wonderful, but DARN I didn’t get to meet Sarma.)

A few of my photos

–served and cleaned up at a downtown soup kitchen run by Baptists

–watched the Macy’s parade including Jessica Simpson, Kanye West, and Gladys Knight

–ran all over the city and Central Park on the subway and on foot, impressed in the photo below at the creative places I found KALE growing!

–hung out with some drag queens, firefighters, and Elmo (see photos for proof)

–saw some fabulous shows like Promises, Promises with Kristen Chenoweth, Sean Hayes, Molly Shannon

–found a sports bar to watch BYU lose by one point to the U of U

–and of course shopped till we dropped on Canal Street and Chinatown, and here at FAO Schwartz (or the candyland “FAO Schweetz” here!)

Somehow I missed snapping the parade photo of–I am not making this up–the cornucopia of plenty from the original Thanksgiving followed IMMEDIATELY by a giant fries-and-a-shake. I did, however, capture my Nemesis #1 and Nemesis #2 as they floated past us on the edge of Central Park.

On Thanksgiving I reflected on the abundance and the paucity of modern life. How we can tap the amazing things available to us like never before in history–or we can indulge in those things that are shiny on the outside but slowly drain away our life force.

do you “make” your kids finish dinner?

The day after Halloween, I posted on my facebook page that I paid my kids $20 for their bag of candy, like I do every year, and then I threw it in the trash.

I got some indignant responses, saying, “Geez, at least give them to candy giveaway programs for the troops!” and the like.

(The two who said that are friends who were on my high school’s drill team. In other words, people who don’t know much about where I am now and what I do.)

Anyway, some of my fellow health nuts went, well, nuts on them. I was a non-participant in the ensuing debate, which you can see on my FB wall. But if I’d wanted to get all argumentative (I didn’t and don’t), I’d point out that if I don’t want to feed my kids poison, why would I want to feed it to the people defending my country? (Or anyone, for that matter. Death row inmates, maybe, if I could be really certain they are guilty.)

Yes yes, I know, the troops will get candy regardless–if not from me, from someone else. But that doesn’t mean I have to be a part of it.

(Have you seen the story about the burning Carnival cruise ship, and the people onboard who were “rescued” with a delivery of Spam and Pop Tarts? LOL!)

The other day at my tennis workout, Laura, one of my teammates and a friend of mine for 20+ years said, “Robyn, I went all Red today.” (She’s speaking of one of my favorite subjects, Taylor Hartman’s Color Code, which you may google at will. Everyone close to me knows you have to understand the Code or you won’t speak my language. I eventually buy any friend who doesn’t “get it” The Book. Which is now inexplicably renamed–for political correctness?–The People Code.)

Anyway, Laura’s daughter Gabby came home from school saying that her friend gave her the brownie out of her school lunch. (I’m talking about the lunch they SELL at school.) So Gabby had two brownies–her own and the friend’s. Gabby was about to throw them away when the lunch lady said, “You’re not going anywhere until you finish your lunch” and required Gabby to eat everything, including the two brownies. “I almost threw up!” Gabby reported to Laura.

Laura was incensed and described the incident wherein she pointed her finger in the principal’s face about this (she’s a White/Yellow! out of character!) and had a little chat with him about the lunch lady.

I said this, separating the “making” kids do it issue from the junk food issue. “Yeah, um. I require my kids to finish their salad, veggies, fruits. If they don’t want whatever ELSE we’re having, like whole-wheat pasta with pesto, for instance–I don’t care.”

I often have this debate with someone in my life who regularly reiterates the mantra that children shouldn’t be “forced” to do anything. I agree that it’s not only pointless, but also impossible, to force anyone to do anything. (I’ve written before about the unforgettable experience I had many years ago, watching a friend of mine force-feed her son a hot dog, because she was terrified he wasn’t getting enough protein.) But could it be that this argument often functions as a smokescreen for the real issues:

Are we willing to parent? Do we take a stand on things we think are important? Requiring a child to do something she’ll learn from–for example, complete homework, eat foods containing live enzymes, treat others with respect–isn’t a bad thing. Are they “forced” (negative word) just because it’s required and there’s a consequence for non-compliance attached? We adults are all required to do things every day. Forced? No, but our feet are held to the fire, and if we choose badly, negative consequences follow. I’m pretty sure you and I work part of every day to pay the rent of some folks sitting behind bars thanks to this very principle.

“Well, sure,” Laura said, “it’s one thing to require your own child to finish her carrots.” But a bunch of junk food? She told the principal, “A brownie is a waste from the minute it is created! After you eat it the rest of the day is about getting RID of it.” (There’s that consequence thing rearing its ugly head again.)

And Laura, my friends, isn’t a health-food fanatic. She’s just a regular mom. She’s at her ideal weight and incredibly fit. Disciplined about food consumption like no one else I know. Laura’s is one of the testimonials in my book The Green Smoothies Diet. She’d been told she was pre-diabetic until she started green smoothies. She has brought one to the gym every morning for the past few years since I taught them to her. She takes one to a handicapped woman in her neighborhood, regularly, and she evangelizes for green smoothies constantly. When one of the dozens of women we play tennis with at the club asks, “WHAT’S THAT?!” about her disposable see-through cup of sludge she’s drinking, she points at me. I take it from there.

Anyway, Laura continued, “When I see somebody nagging their kid to finish their Thanksgiving pie, I think, ‘Why? It’s PIE!”

She said it, not me. Well, now I know I can confide in Laura, at least, if not the popular girls from high school, that I dump all the Halloween candy in the trash. (Lest you think I’m an ogre, let me say this: I do let the kids keep three pieces.)

Your thoughts?

that ubiquitous blue, sugary sports drink

That blue drink. It’s everywhere. I’ve never tried it, but it’s in the photo with my son in the dugout from last week.

One of my kids reported to me not long ago, “My soccer coach says I HAVE to drink Gatorade, because it’s good for us and she doesn’t want us passing out.” I told her, “I’ve never tasted Gatorade in my life, and I’ve run 10 miles at a time, or played tennis for 3 hours and haven’t passed out yet. There was no Gatorade until 20 years ago or less. [Thanks, University of Florida! Not.] What do you think all the distance runners in Africa are doing? All you need is what I already give you–good ol’ water. Mom trumps the coach in this case–I am not buying Gatorade.”

Chemical food dyes, chemical sweeteners, chemical electrolytes, no thanks. Good water and fresh fruits and vegetables, plus some nuts or seeds for good fats, are the best thing to fuel a workout before or after. I also love Hot Pink Breakfast Smoothie–what I make every morning–for a perfect electrolyte and fat/carb/protein ratio for athletics, 400 calories. It’s in the Breakfast recipe collection or Ch. 11 of 12 Steps.

baseball, apple pie, and . . . green smoothies?

I was asked recently for photographic evidence of my son Tennyson’s snacks in the dugout that radically differ from traditional standards. It wasn’t easy to capture boys sitting together eating (since they are usually PLAYING), and this isn’t the greatest photo, but here ya go.

I love baseball, but I don’t love blue PowerAde and Red Vines and salted sunflower seeds that you see my son’s teammates eating.

I do love apple pie–the LaraBar kind! (It’s a raw-food snack widely available now, even at Costco.) And green smoothies. Here you see Tennyson, who Coach tells me leads the team in all categories, with both.

No, my high-school junior doesn’t take Mom’s healthy stuff in the dugout any more. That’s okay–I give it to him at home before the game.

The Renegade Lunch Lady, part 2 of 2

The “Renegade Lunch Lady” Chef Ann Cooper went to Washington, D.C. to investigate our first lady’s agenda. She ripped a hole in Michelle Obama’s “feel-good” childhood-obesity legislation, that has no funding and no policy “teeth.” I figured as much. Great platform, Mrs. Obama. Let’s make it reach to families and schools:

Let’s get vending machines out of the schools even if they create revenues (at the expense of our children’s health). Let’s get processed food out of school lunches. Let’s not cut funding and class time for physical education. Let’s educate people about real nutrition, not curriculum funded by big businesses like meat and dairy and processed food conglomerates.

Those are the things we need, not feel-good irrelevancies like providing milk and juice as options, or replacing potato chips with low-fat potato chips, or frying the french fries in a different oil. (Someone here in Utah, where nutrition initiatives have always failed in our legislature, called me this year to ask if I’d get behind a school-lunch initiative that was baby pablum like that.)

Chef Ann Cooper’s sites are here:

Thelunchbox.org

Lunchlessons.org

Enjoy her sites–I love this lady and her enthusiastic, tireless mission. She said re-training long-time lunch ladies, towards better nutrition, is one of her most difficult tasks. We are certainly, the vast majority of us, deeply and emotionally entrenched and invested in the destructive food habits of our generation.

I am personally not untouched by the way our culture is sucking our kids into a no-win situation where more than half our kids finish junior high school overweight. Since my divorce 18 months ago, despite the fact that I have NEVER purchased school lunch for any of my children, one of my own children has become overweight. I do not provide junk food in my home, and serve only whole plant foods. But just eating in her father’s home some of the time, 1 of my 4 children has gained significant weight.

It is an issue that is very difficult to discuss with a child. Any suggestions are welcome.

But one study found that being overweight is a bigger life stressor for a child than having cancer is. Watching my own daughter, I cannot overestimate the social impact on her own life. I am doing all I can do, including begging her father to make efforts on his side, but the good news is that she has the experience and knowledge to make a change in her choices, when she decides the physical/social/emotional cost is too high.

We do more than physical harm to children allowing them to become overweight. The whole culture must be educated and retrained back to the basics our ancestors took for granted.

If more and more people support whole, locally grown, organic, and raw plant foods, we will turn the health care debacle around. Watch this blog this week for my thoughts on ObamaCare.

the Renegade Lunch Lady

In Anaheim (I know! I still haven’t told you about the handful of cool products I found–but I will! And I bought some of them for you!) . . .

I heard the coolest talk by Chef Ann Cooper, the “Renegade Lunch Lady.”

She manages 30,000 kids’ lunches in the Boulder, Colorado area. Her goal is to transform children’s diets from the hot mess of processed food it is now, to a nourishing whole-food meal, one school lunch at a time. She’s my hero.

The U.S. government pays $2.68 for a child’s school lunch. Two thirds of that, Cooper says, goes to payroll, leaving just a dollar to feed each child! She wants you to go to her site, thelunchbox.org and write your elected officials to ask for an extra dollar to feed kids good nutrition, in addition to other government initiatives.

She told us to go out into ExpoWest and find real nutrition. (Good luck! Like I said, 1 in 100 “organic” or “natural” choice is worth your money.) Instead of (her voices changed to a sarcastic tone) organic gummy bears. (I love this lady. Wasn’t that just what I was telling you last week? Don’t waste your limited dollars on organic junk food!)

She said, about school lunches:

“Just say NO to refined flour. To soda, candy, and chips. To antibiotics and hormones. To chemicals and preservatives.

“Just say yes to plum tastings, to a salad bar in every school, to cutting sodium levels in half, to hummus tastings.”

She helps the schools figure out ways to connect children to their food sources. Growing food in the school yard. Trying new, whole foods they’ve never been exposed to, with fun tastings–with all the varied colors, textures, and tastes.

She says the USDA LOVES food for school lunches that haven’t been touched by human hands. School lunches nationwide are chicken nuggets, corn dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches. And we wonder why 70% of America is overweight. In the next two years, MILLIONS of Americans will become overweight. We have to stop the trend NOW.

What is needed, Chef Ann says, is “fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, and clean proteins.” Amen, sister.

She says, “Vote with your purchasing!”

Here’s her PowerPoint presentation she showed us, which is fantastic:

http://www.chefann.com/html/about-chef-ann/audio-video.html

is a green smoothie a license to eat a boatload of junk food?

I was at a family party last night. My youngest brother and his wife (I have six brothers) just built a new home and hosted a game night. (Actually we mostly just watched the Olympics where Apolo Anton Ohno got juked out of a medal by a bad DQ call. According to Ohno,  by a Canadian judge favoring a Canadian skater.)

As we were sitting around, my brother-in-law Matt said to me, “Hey Robyn. You’ll be so proud. I’ve been drinking a green smoothie every morning.”

I gushed a little. About how proud I am (and  props to my baby sis–she’s making them, I ask, right? Right.). And do you feel more energy, have better digestion? I wonder.  Oh yes! he said. And my sister, looking very pinched, like someone who is trying reaaallllly hard to hold back, finally said,

“Sha. And he eats NOTHING else that’s healthy the entire day. Just crap. He figures that if he drinks a green smoothie, he’s golden.”

Do YOU? Think you’re golden, I mean?

Could your green smoothie habit possibly be holding you back in some ways, because you’re so self-congratulatory after slugging down a pint, that you figure it earns you a double portion of DoubleStuf Oreos after that?

(That was for you, Matt, just on the off chance you read this–since Oreos are your favorite cookie.)

If so, I’ve got some work to do.

‘Fess up.