The Curious Autodidact

September 19, 2009

Food Choices: A Diet Post

For those of you who made it to see Food Incorporated this post may not have added appeal. I call Food Inc. the perfect “diet” movie, if you are trying the change your eating habits to a little lighter it’s the perfect flick to view. If you are interested in eating more locally take a look at Local Harvest’s site that details where you can buy food closer to home including a tab that details Community Supported Agriculture.

This posting that shows the difference between fast food advertising and the actual product is quite something to see also. Keeping some healthy snacks in the car, such as dried fruit and nuts at hand, will allow you to think twice before making one of these high calorie stops, the actual calorie counts can be looked up here or this list of the highest calorie foods on the run.

August 25, 2009

More Podcasts worth a Listen

Filed under: helpful hints,kitchen tips,media related,social justice — Honilima @ 2:55 am
Pommes frites

Pommes frites

Snacks, Overeating, and Sensory Science (broadcast on NPR’s Science Friday, July 10th, 2009)

Got a weakness for chocolate chip cookies? Kettle chips? Pizza? Ira talks with former FDA commissioner David Kessler about how tasty foods change your brain, and how the food industry designs the fat, salt, and sugar-laden snacks you crave. Kessler, the former head of the FDA during the Bush and Clinton administrations, is the author of the new book “The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite.” Is overeating a lack of willpower, or a disease?

From KUER in Salt Lake City an interview with Ellen Rupple Shell author ofCheap the High Cost of Discount Culture.
You’ve probably heard stories of people standing in line for an amazing sale or fights breaking out over a bargain table. Chances are – you may have gone to some great lengths for a rock-bottom price yourself. “Cheap” has become part of the American way, but journalist Ellen Ruppel Shell says it comes at a cost. Tuesday on RadioWest, she joins Doug for a look at discount culture and what it means for our homes and our economy.

Marjane Satrapi Cannes 2008.jpg


From KUOW in Seattle: Marjane Satrapi: ‘Growing up in Iran’

We talk a lot about the Middle East, but what was it really like to grow up there? What does it mean to be a woman in Iran? How do people in Iran feel about their Iraqi neighbors? Marjane Satrapi grew up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. What was occurring at that time? What were the fears and the hopes? What is the human cost of war? How do those events play into present day? How did Saddam look from the other side of the border?
Satrapi records the events of her childhood in two graphic novels, “Persepolis” and “Persepolis 2.” She joins us on “Weekday” to share her story. Additionally here’s a short YouTube film with Satrapi speaking on a panel about her film, based on her book, that was nominated for the best animation category.

August 22, 2009

Sorting Out Fruit and Vegetables by Season

Filed under: environmental ideas,kitchen tips — Honilima @ 1:54 am

In today’s modern world it’s hard to keep track of what foods are in season and what have been shipped from halfway around the world.

Here’s a neat listing that shows the seasons of various foods that you may have lost track of. It is helpful to keep you eating more locally and aware of how far things have traveled to get to you table.

August 2, 2009

Take Yourself and a Friend to this Movie

Filed under: environmental ideas,kitchen tips,media related,social justice — Honilima @ 8:50 am
The perfect diet movie

The perfect “diet” movie

Go see the movie “Food Inc.” — really. Not only will be help you to stick to your vegetarian diet it will let you know more about what a sickly industry we are supporting in this country when it comes to the production of our food.

You will get a big crush on a farmer in N. Carolina who is trying hard to do the right thing and witness many jobs you are glad you don’t have to do, in environments no one should work. This movie is the update of Upton Sinclair’s book THE JUNGLE and more. There are extensive minutes with Michael Pollan and Fast Food Nation’s Eric Schlosser both of whom have important messages about what we eat and how it gets to our tables.

See it on the big screen if you can, support the movie’s message, and work for more enforcement of the FDA laws that are in place, and help to pass Kevin’s Law.

June 7, 2009

Another Green Home Tip

Filed under: book related,environmental ideas,helpful hints,kitchen tips — Honilima @ 10:05 pm

Big trees provide stunning background for Capilano Bridge in British Columbia

Big trees provide stunning background for Capilano Bridge in British Columbia

Trying hard to be more gentle to Mother Nature is a worthy goal and this run down from the Natural Resources Defense Council of paper products used in the home is a great resource.

If you are looking for additional inspiration you might listen to Daniel Goleman’s speaking about his book Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What we Buy Can Change Everything.

April 14, 2009

How you Eat and What you Eat

Filed under: helpful hints,kitchen tips — Honilima @ 11:35 pm

This article about eating, from the Wall Street Journal, mirrors a conversation I had with a good friend just last week. Those who have been trying to watch their waist lines will find it of interest particularly those who have bought into the smaller meals and more protein theory.

April 5, 2009

The Hierarchy of Healthy Food Choices: A Locavore View

Filed under: environmental ideas,helpful hints,kitchen tips — Honilima @ 8:35 pm

A locavore is someone who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius such as 50, 100, or 150 miles. The locavore movement encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to produce their own food, with the argument that fresh, local products are more nutritious and taste better. Locally grown food is an environmentally friendly means of obtaining food, since supermarkets that import their food use more fossil fuels and non-renewable resources.

The healthiest diets come from eating a variety of fresh foods, and living in a colder climate means less available options during certain times of the year. Although hydroponics make it possible to produce some vegetables (and perhaps some fruits) year-round, even that has its limitations. Considering both human and environmental health, here is a guideline to sourcing food (listed from most optimal to least favorable) if you are unable to get it locally:

• If you can’t get it locally, make sure it’s organic. Skipping the hormones and pesticides is best for you and the environment.

• If you can’t get it organically, try to get your food from a small family farm or farmers’ co-op. When it comes to policymaking and generating pollution, large-scale agribusiness easily out-competes the small-scale family farm. By supporting family owned farms and farmers’ co-ops, you help give farmers a voice in production and processing decisions, and prevent them from being left in the hands of profit-seeking special interest groups.

• If you can’t get your food directly from a family farm or farmers’ co-op, then get it from a local business. Let’s face it certain food items like coffee can’t be grown locally in most parts of the world. Keep your dollars local by focusing on supporting local roasters or coffee shops. Local business owners have a stake in your community and are vital to the health of your local economy. Local restaurant owners are also more likely to source some of their food stocks from local or regional producers.

• If you can’t support a local business, then support Terroir. French for ‘soil’, terroir is a term most often used by wine producers when referring to the specific type of regional geographic influences (soil composition, climate, etc.) that go into producing a wine’s unique finished flavor. In other words, support the specific region or farming practices that specialize in producing your favorite non-local foods (e.g. brie cheese from Brie, France, or coffee that is fair trade and shade-grown).
This list was adapted from

A Vegetarian for Just One Day?

Filed under: environmental ideas,helpful hints,kitchen tips — Honilima @ 12:28 am
Children at International Fountain at the Seattle Center

Children in the International Fountain at the Seattle Center

From the Huffington Post shocking data about the results of our carnivorous culture in the USA.

If you aren’t sure how to begin you can read this article for a sensible starting point.

March 28, 2009

Whole Grains: a Healthy Choice

Filed under: helpful hints,kitchen tips — Honilima @ 8:26 pm

The USDA Food Pyramid recommends that at least half of your daily servings of grains come from whole grains. While it is easy to rely on just wheat, rice and corn to get your recommended daily allowance, expanding your repertoire of grains can be a fun and exciting way to increase the variety, flavor and texture of your favorite meals. Here are some easy ways to integrate more whole grains into your diet:

• Switching from white rice to brown rice is a simple first step. Mixing brown and white rice may help you adjust to the flavor and texture of brown rice.

• When choosing whole grain breads, always look at the ingredient list. The first ingredient should be “whole wheat flour” or “whole grain flour.” If the word “whole” is not used, then the bread is made with refined flour.

• Quinoa, though not a true whole grain, but a seed, is delicious and easy to prepare and can be used in place of rice in any meal. Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse, providing all nine of the essential amino acids. It is also high in iron, magnesium and manganese. Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) Quinoa (keen-wah) comes to us from the Andes, where it has long been cultivated by the Inca. Botanically a relative of swiss chard and beets rather than a “true” grain, quinoa cooks in about 10-12 minutes, creating a light, fluffy side dish. It can also be incorporated into soups, salads and baked goods. Commercially, quinoa is now appearing in cereal flakes and other processed foods. Though much of our quinoa is still imported from South America, farmers in high-altitude areas near the Rockies are also beginning to cultivate quinoa. Quinoa is a small, light-colored round grain, similar in appearance to sesame seeds. But quinoa is also available in other colors, including red, purple and black. Most quinoa must be rinsed before cooking, to remove the bitter residue of saponins, a plant-defense that wards off insects. Botanists are now developing saponin-free strains of quinoa, to eliminate this minor annoyance to the enjoyment of quinoa. Health bonus: The abundant protein in quinoa is complete protein, which means that it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies can’t make on their own.

Field of Millet

Field of Millet

• Millet is another lesser-known but nutritious grain that’s not just for the birds. This tiny round grain is an excellent source of manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium and comes in yellow, white, gray or red. A versatile food, millet can be served as breakfast porridge with nuts and fruits — or it can be tossed with cooked veggies and vinaigrette for a cold salad. It is also a great substitute for rice or potatoes. Millet (Panicum miliaceum) Millet is rarely served to humans in the United States – here, it’s the grain most often found in bird feeders. Yet it’s the leading staple grain in India, and is commonly eaten in China, South America, Russia and the Himalayas. Millet has a mild flavor and is often mixed with other grains or toasted before cooking, to bring out the full extent of its delicate flavor. Its tiny grain can be white, gray, yellow or red.

Amaranthus tricolor0.jpg

• Amaranth is another great alternative to more common grains. It is a very nutritious, small seed with high levels of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. Use amaranth in place of rice in stir-fry or stews, as a hot cereal or popped like popcorn. It also can be ground into flour for baking. Amaranth contains no gluten, so it must be mixed with other flours to bake bread. Amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) Amaranth was a staple of Aztec culture, until Cortez, in an effort to destroy that civilization, decreed that anyone growing the crop would be put to death. Seeds were smuggled out to Asia, where local dialects referred to Amaranth as “king seed” and “seed sent by God” as a tribute to its taste and sustenance. Amaranth kernels are tiny; when cooked they resemble brown caviar. Today amaranth is making its way back, thanks to a lively, peppery taste and a higher level of protein (16%) than most other grains. In South America, it is often sold on the streets, popped like corn. Amaranth has no gluten, so it must be mixed with wheat to make leavened breads. It is popular in cereals, breads, muffins, crackers and pancakes. Health bonus: Amaranth has a high level of very complete protein; its protein contains lysine, an amino acid missing or negligible in many grains. Oats (Avena sativa) Oats have a sweet flavor that makes them a favorite for breakfast cereals. Unique among grains, oats almost never have their bran and germ removed in processing. So if you see oats or oat flour on the label, relax: you’re virtually guaranteed to be getting whole grain. In the US, most oats are steamed and flattened to produce “old-fashioned” or regular oats, quick oats, and instant oats. The more oats are flattened and steamed, the quicker they cook – and the softer they become. If you prefer a chewier, nuttier texture, consider steel-cut oats, also sometimes called Irish or Scottish oats. Steel-cut oats consist of the entire oat kernel (similar in look to a grain of rice), sliced once or twice into smaller pieces to help water penetrate and cook the grain. Cooked for about 20 minutes, steel-cut oats create a breakfast porridge that delights many people who didn’t realize they love oatmeal! Health bonus: Scientific studies have concluded that like barley, oats contain a special kind of fiber called beta-glucan found to be especially effective in lowering cholesterol. Recent research reports indicate that oats also have a unique antioxidant, avenanthramides, that helps protect blood vessels from the damaging effects of LDL cholesterol. For additional information and suggestions on how to integrate whole grains into your diet, visit


Information provided by: Sarah Flessner, BS, dietetic intern and Elizabeth A. Kirk, Ph.D., R.D., associate professor, School of Nutrition and Exercise Science, Bastyr University

January 27, 2009

Saving Money on the Monthly Bills: First in a Series

In these belt tightening times it is even more important to examine what are the essential costs of daily living and what are the extras that got added on when wallets were thick. You may quickly dismiss the fact that there is anything that can be trimmed but perhaps that just means you have to think with a tad more intention. Maybe you’d look stylish in your glasses instead of the disposable contact lenses. Instead of feeling too busy all the time you should turn off the cable and spend more time visiting with family and friends, or more time outside moving around for health.

think of how smart youll look in your glasses

think of how smart you’ll look in your glasses

Re-occurring monthly bills—-we all have them and these are likely the vampires that arrive twelve times annually that we just leave on autopilot without a thought. The companies count on this, that our lives are too full to get competitive bids on the car insurance, or the fuel bill, or the internet service.

Consider raising your deductibles on your car insurance or health insurance. Call around and make sure that the insurance you have is the best value. Ask your agent if she or he can suggest some ways to cut down the costs.

Compare the costs per gallon for your oil or propane bill that is likely delivered while you are at work without much thought and possibly without examination of the unit costs when you pay the bill.

Consider eating a little lower on the food chain and think of yourself as not only thrifty but ahead of the environmental curve (more…)

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