When vegan restaurants aren’t vegan.

1 07 2009

Ever wonder how sometimes vegan/vegetarian foods that aim to mimic meat or meat products taste a lot like the real thing?

I was reading this interesting article today on how items from vegan restaurants actually tested positive for animal ingredients in the Los Angeles area. They called in, ordered take-out, and tested the food with kits that assayed the presence and concentration of hen’s egg, milk protein (casein), and shell fish.

Of the 17 restaurants tested, 10 came up negative for all three (egg, milk, fish). The other tested neative for one or more, often showing readings of “high” or “overload,” indicating almost certainly that those ingredients were present.

Since the restaurants they picked billed themselves as vegan restaurants, one should safely assume that there would be no chance of cross-contamination.

I’m not vegan or vegetarian, but the mis-labelling of foods concerns me greatly. It’s just a terrible business practice in general. Hell, it’s LYING. I like to know what I’m eating, what I’m buying! It’s the kind of stuff that makes me hesitant about eating out. If I’m going to a store and buy a DVD, I should be able to trust that the DVD inside the case is as labeled on the box, right? I mean, imagine buying a disney movie for your kid and openin it up to find a sex tape. Why should it be any different when it comes to purchasing food? GRRRRRRRR.

What do you think? There are interesting comments at the end of the article as well, and here is the link if you missed it at the top: http://www.quarrygirl.com/2009/06/28/undercover-investigation-of-la-area-vegan-restaurants/





Video: Rosalie does chin-ups!

29 06 2009

Last night I made my mom take a video of me doing chin-ups. Usually, it takes my almost all my effort to do three of them consecutively from a dead hang. So I made sure I was well-rested all day since I wanted to make it look effortless on camera, haha. After showing my mom how to work the camera’s video recording capabilities, I did 3 in rapid succession, thinking all was well and quite giddy about seeing what my back looked like during a chin-up.

Well, it turned out that the video didn’t actually start recording. 3 chin-ups for nothing, I thought. Well, not for nothing, because I like doing chin-ups and thus they’re still for something but I wasn’t sure I could do three more for the video.

Then I surprised myeslf and squeezed them out, albeit grunting and muttering. So you should click the button and watch ;P

Some people call them chin-ups, some people call them pull-ups with a supinated grip (palms facing inwards). Whatever one might call them, the number of chin-ups one can do is a great marker of overall upper body strength, since they pretty much use all the muscles in my arms/shoulders/back at the same time. In my opinion, pullups/chinups are the best upper body exercises, and the only other exercises I do are dips and pushups. Chin/pullups are great for developing functional strength and I can do them right at home in my door! Ha.

What if you can’t do a chin/pullup? About 6 months ago, I couldn’t complete one from a dead hang. I could go from 180 degrees (arms straight) to… oh, maybe 120 degrees (and my boyfriend would tease me about explaining it in math terms). Most untrained females can’t do one! I basically built up to one by doing a lot of negative chinups (using a stool to get to the top, with my chin above the bar, and lowering myself as slowly as possible), jumping pullups (in which I jump to the bar and use the upwards momentum to help me up), and having someone push my legs up as a boost as I pulled up (thank you dear boyfriend). Well, the learning curve was steep, so though it took me quite awhile to get the first rep, the second came quickly soon after, and the third, etc., and now I can do 4 in a row!





OMGWTFBBQ!!!

27 06 2009

Today, I went to a potluck BBQ with my parents’ family friends. My mom was responsible for bringing the meat so last night we marinated a bunch of drumsticks, wings, etc. in some soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions, onions, garlic and other random chinese spices. We also made a dry rub with cumin, cinnamon, pepper, garlic powder, salt, and montreal steak seasoning for another batch. SO TASTY. This was my first plate:

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I didn’t take anymore pictures, but I had another entire chicken wing, a drumstick, half an italian sausage, handful of rye bagel chips, and something like half a pound of costco strawberries. I love the fruits of summer.

And something sweet and cold…

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It was nice seeing my parents’ friends again. Two families have children who are my age (seniors in college) and the three of us went to SAT class together back in the day. Unfortunately, neither of them could make it.

And here’s a pic of “my” — in quotes because it’s technically not mine — new car. It’s my mom’s car, but I’m driving it to work everyday so I consider it mine for now. Her name is Gemma. Vroom vroom.

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After I came home today I did a practice verbal section on the GRE. Is it just me or is the verbal GRE so much harder than the verbal SAT?!

Off to read some blogs, watch 24 in bed, and sleeeeep.





Post-biking reflection

27 06 2009

The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend. ~Chuck Palahniuk

Usually I’m so tired by Friday night that I really, really look forward to spending an easy night in bed, reading and watching TV, and going to sleep before midnight. Except in reality, I get caught up in an engrossing book, or watch half a season of some show instead of two episodes like I intend, or otherwise find some reason to stay up until it’s 2am. Sometimes it’s pure excitement (at what?! It’s not like I do anything interesting on a weekend that I don’t do on a weekday, besides grocery shopping), but when I stay up late, I console myself with the prospect of sleeping in the next morning.

Except ever since I knew about the indoor cycling class at 8am on Saturday mornings at my YMCA, I have been completely unable to sleep in. I tell myself, “If I don’t get up by 7:30am, I’ll skip the class,” and go to bed without setting an alarm. Well, last night I went to bed at 12:30am or so. Couldn’t sleep. Tossed in bed for a long time. Got up at 2:30am to pee. Woke up at 5:45am, then at 6:14am, then at 6:43, each time checking my watch for the time. I finally got up at 7:15am. Felt cranky and unrested. Had a mashed banana and avocado sandwich (this might be my new favorite spread!) and went biking.

So in conclusion, I am completely unable to “just wing it” in the morning. If I think I might go to the class, then you bet I’ll get up in time — hours earlier (just to make sure I’m on time, heh), with or without an alarm. I should just set an alarm next time to begin with, because at least then I’ll sleep with the assurance that I won’t oversleep. I wish the same could be said about my work day mornings… but alas…

The workout was just okay — bad music at a low volume, a sarcastic instructor, and I just wasn’t feeling energetic. My highest heart rate was 172, and average was 138. That kind of concerns me because I’m usually unable to get my heart rate that high on the bike and I think I am doing too much/too hard and not getting enough rest/sleep. My heart rate’s been slightly elevated at rest as well (usually it’s in the mid/high 50s after I’m sitting down for awhile, but yesterday night it was in the mid 60s). Elevated heart rate at work and at rest (as well as poor sleep) is a classic indicator of overtraining, which may be the case since I’m on my feet all day at work on top of 5-6 days/week of fairly hard workouts. Or I just read too deeply into things in my body when they don’t mean anything.

In conclusion, I should

  1. Sleep more
  2. Schedule workouts more efficiently
  3. Workout less or workout less hard
  4. Quit my demanding job

Haha, don’t tease me, #4.





Resolved: shin splints

25 06 2009

I think I mentioned in one of my first posts that I’ve had pain in my right shin for the past 5-6 weeks and that’s why I haven’t been running. This was particularly unfortunate, since I wanted to build up enough of a base to run a half marathon by the end of the summer… but that’s obviously impossible when even walking gingerly is a painful activity. I think my last run was 4.5 weeks ago, when I limped home in pain and I’ve been off my feet since.

On Monday, 3 days ago, I finally went to see a doctor, mostly to rule out a stress fracture, since I had heard/read that sometimes the two conditions present with similar symptoms, but obviously a stress fracture is more serious. Now I kind of wish I hadn’t gone and just waited a couple more days, because the pain has faded drastically since my visit and all he did was put a tuning fork to my leg, vibrate it, and upon seeing my lack of reaction, announced that my tibia was all intact. If I had a stress fracture, he assured me that I would have been howling from the vibration. Not sure if the visit was worth however much I’ll have to pay when the bill arrives, but at least it calmed my nerves.

He did send me home with a “therabland,” basically a glorified resistance band. For stretching, he explained, as he handed me a packet of moves. In addition, I’m thinking about tying it up to my pull-up bar for doing assisted pullups. *beams*

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In the meantime, I also retired my old shoes, which probably had 500-600 miles on them. As you can see, I’m pretty stingy with money and I love old stuff… but avoiding injured is my first priority, so new shoes were procured. They’re Adidas Supernova Sequence!

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Doctor dude is giving me 2.5 more weeks of rest from running until I can give it a try again. Apparently I’m supposed to be able to sprint without pain before starting up again. There’s a 5k in the town of my high school to be held on July 12, and one of my best friends from HS asked me if I wanted to do it together… I hope I can, although I probably won’t go very hard since my shin troubles really only started after I raced my last 5k at a pace that was really fast for me (25:32).

I’m off to watch the NBA draft! Is anyone into basketball? I adore college basketball (I’m a dukie, so duh — GO GERALD HENDERSON!!!), and Dad is probably the biggest professional basketball fan I know, so draft night is pretty exciting in our house 🙂 So you think you can dance is also on!





What I think about food blogs.

23 06 2009

Kelly from Every Gym’s Nightmare asked an interesting question today, in reference to food blogs:

Do you think its healthy to spend so much time consumed with food?”

This is one of my favorite discussions, and a topic I think about a lot. Before I can get started, I have to differentiate between food blogs that photograph/track everything someone eats and one that is for recipes, cooking, restaurant reviews, etc.  Although there is some overlap between the two categories, the track-food blogs tend to have themes of health and fitness, feature low-calorie/sugar/fat products, and are often written by raw/vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/soy-free bloggers.

As anyone with an eating disorder can attest, being overly occupied with food — especially healthy food — is a result of restriction. When I was going through an eating disorder, it was soothing to read menus, read recipes, analyze and sum up nutritional information for recipes. Reading about food/looking at photos of food was a fascinating activity when I was really, really hungry. What would prompt someone to start a food blog? What would prompt someone to read a food blog? When I asked my friends (no ED), most of them thought such track-food-person-eats blogs would be boring to read, because for them, they just eat until they’re done and aren’t concerned with what others are eating. This doesn’t mean they don’t eat healthily — they do, but moreover, they treat eating like sleeping or drinking (water) or breathing: something that doesn’t require much forethought or reflection, and something that would be pointless to document. I admit that if it weren’t for my ED, I probably would never have started reading food blogs.

Speaking as someone who is fully recovered, I love reading blogs that track food (I mostly lurk, though!). In my opinion, some bloggers seem to eat fairly restrictively. On the whole, I see the same foods circle around the healthy food blogosphere. Barney butter, coconut milk, green monsters, light laughing cow, crack wraps. Flat out wraps, ezekiel english muffins, apples with PB. Oatmeal for breakfast. Salads with the dressing on the side for lunch. Workout summaries, heart rate monitor summaries. month-long challenges. It’s predictable. Nevertheless, great recipe ideas, new product news, and friendships have been borne out of the healthy food blogosphere so there is still innovation and value amidst the photos of daily eats.

Another thing that always strikes me is that the majority of food bloggers are of a certain demographic: teens to late 20s, female, white, middle-class (or so I assume). This is probably also the group with the highest rate of Eating disorders, body dissatisfaction, etc. My theory is that people with food, exercise, and body insecurities, or people trying to lose weight find food blogs particularly appealing. It could be coincidence, but it always raises some flags for me.

I’ve also noticed that food blogging has become a marketing vehicle for companies with healthy foods. There are contests going on all the time, for products that were given to food bloggers with the hope that bloggers will post positive reviews of the free samples. It’s a certainly great idea on the marketing end. I suppose it’s a classic example of a mutualistic relationship: food bloggers get free products and contests enlarge the circle of readership, while product companies get some advertising to an audience who are primed to purchase healthy food. There’s nothing wrong with the system when both sides find gain.

Finally, I do sense a hypocrisy in the food blogging world. Most food bloggers seem pretty positive about eating and body image, but they often eat a lot of low-calories, low-fat substitutes, and most exercise moderately to A LOT. They claim to enjoy sweets and desserts, but often use recipes that are then “healthified” and doesn’t resemble something I would consider a treat. Last, lots of bloggers claim to enjoy going out to eat, but I see so many salads (with dressing on the side) when they do restaurant reviews. I think that it’s hip to promote self-acceptance, body love, splurging and treating oneself (bloggers frequently encourage others), but I’m not sure some food bloggers fully accept that message for themselves.

I know some lot of food bloggers will be reading this and I hope I don’t offend them, because my intention was simply to make some observations of TRENDS and this blogosphere as a whole. I enjoy reading many food blogs, am friends with people who write said food blogs, and I would be really sad if they stopped blogging. It’s up to each blogger to be honest with themselves and decide why they blog and come to terms with their relationship with the blogosphere. It’s not up to me — or anyone else — to judge.

What think you?





Chipotle Review

22 06 2009

My peeps at work go to Chipotle Mexican Grill at least once a week. Once I think they went three days in a row. While I don’t go as much as they do (I bring lunch on most days), today I decided to head out with them because I needed a change of scenery.

Chipotle is known for its “conscience-free” menu, because their meat comes from animals raised on vegetarian diets, open-range, antibiotic-free, and hormone-free. They use organic produce and local produce “when they can,” whatever that means. In any case, they have tasty, tasty food.

I particularly like eating there for lunch due to the ease of order. We fill out an order form online, give them a call, and pick up our food, bypassing everyone else waiting in line. We then have the option of eating there or eating back at the company. last week, our orders weren’t ready yet when we showed up, and they gave us two free fountain drinks!

Chipotle (and restaurants like chipotle) appeal to me because of their customizability. I like it when my food is composed of ingredients I can identify, and I like watching the assembly line in action. I call it the subway effect! It’s certainly intriguing to watch deft hands fold all those ingredients into burrito after fat burrito, but more importantly, I can be assured that my food will come exactly as I order it. I’m a little neurotic.

Today I went with a salad, with the following items:

  • steak
  • cheese
  • black beans
  • hot tomatillo salsa
  • fajita veggies

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I was soooooo hungry when I started eating, so I may or may not be biased when I rave about how GREAT it tasted. The salsa was very hot, even to my tastebuds of steel well-honed from a childhood of authentic sichuan cuisine.  Steak cubes were plenty and juicy and pink at the center, a perfect medium rare. The cheese, sprinkled on top, melted into the dish from the heat of the steak and fajita veggies. My salad was so flavorful I didn’t need the dressing, but the dressing was tasty so I kept it in the fridge and plan on using it on home-made salads I bring to work. I would have preferred the cheese to have more of a presence. I dislike it when cheese seems to taste like whatever it’s served with (ie. swiss cheese is so useless on ham sandwiches), and such was the case in this salad. The portions were enough — along with the astronomical protein content — to keep me full for 6 hours. :]

Item: Chipotle steak salad

Location: Route 1, North Brunswick, NJ

Price: 6.75$ + Tax

Rating: 9/10