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Want better nutrition? Chew your food MORE.

I have a friend who I actually have not met. She is from Canada and her name is Krista Scott-Dixon. I got involved with her through her women’s weight lifting site, Stumptuous 7 years ago and she is someone who knows more about weight lifting, food, eating, and women’s health than anyone I know. She came up with a recipe for a smoothie made with coconut milk that basically kept my mother alive while she was dying of dementia. Brilliant woman. She’s widened her focus in terms of food but recently, she posted something that really hit home with me, which is that if she could say one thing to the people she coaches, it would be ‘slow down and chew your food.’ There’s a lot of other stuff about being mindful about what we eat and the choices we make when we feel like we want to reward ourselves and so on. (more…)

How to get warm and stay warm

P5190021  New lamb (Truth in advertising: This is not a shot of any of our sheep; this photo is courtesy of North Devon Farmer)
Everyone cozy? All settled in? (given the amount of snow and cold out there right now, Aunt Toby certainly hopes wherever you are is cozy) Let me tell you a story. (more…)

No bike riding for a while…

That’s my left shoulder area from yesterday afternoon. I’ve got, what is known in the trade as a “fractured glenoid” – a broken scapula (shoulder blade) caused when I fell off my bike while riding home from work. The shoulder itself is also dislocated. When I was falling, I threw my arm out. I also had the casual thought that I probably should NOT have gone down that way, but when this sort of thing happens, it’s not as if you consciously think, “tuck and roll,” if you know what I mean.

So, I was rescued by a couple of guys named Ernest and Carlos (father and son), who got me off the road, pulled my cell phone out and called the DH, and stayed with me until he showed up. Probably a half dozen other people stopped, inquired, or raced over to lend assistance. To everyone out there – my humble thanks especially to Carlos who held onto me while I was retching from the pain. I got lucky in the ER – mid afternoon on Friday is not so busy that I could not get seen right away.

Weirdest things about the ER:
The first question they asked me was not “Where does it hurt?” It was “Were you wearing a helmet?”
I was wearing my Rx sunglasses when I went in – they did not take them off until they sedated me
(and I mean “totally knocked me out”) to put my dislocated shoulder back in (which for some reason is referred to as a “reduction”). I must have looked very odd in my spandex shorts, bike shoes and sunglasses. Considering the amount of begging for painkillers I was doing, I do not think Lance Armstrong is going to be asking me to join LiveStrong any time soon.
The other thing is that I was apologizing constantly. I have no idea why.

I’ll be seeing the orthopedist on Monday. In the meantime, I’m discovering all the things I can’t do now because I don’t have the use of both hands.

Kitchen Counter Chemistry or, If You Can Mix Salad Dressing, You Can Make Moisturizer

Many times, Aunt Toby is off-season for a lot of people. It’s geography, you see. Chez Siberia is in Upstate New York and usually for the rest of the US below the Mason Dixon Line, my comments about gardening, the weather, dressing warmly, etc. etc. don’t really line up with their calendars.

This year, as we are reminded by our favorite weather prognosticators winter has come to the entire country. So, today I’ve got something for everyone.

Aunt Toby figures that by this point, most of the people in the US have got whatever form of heat they use cranked up about as far as it can go (or, everyone has unearthed their sweaters, hats, mitties, and long johns and are wearing them 24/7). And it has been that way for a while (for those of us who have had the heat turned on since November, this is not news; for those folks in the South, we feel your pain, truly). The air inside your house is dry and your eyes and your lips might be feeling dry too. (more…)

Step Away From The Sugar Bowl and No One Gets Hurt

Last month, in what was viewed as a pretty shocking move, the American Heart Association not only connected heart disease with the intake of sugar but also made specific recommendations in terms of how much. AHA Announcement

“Most American women should consume no more than 100 calories of added sugars per day; most men, no more than 150 calories. That’s about 6 teaspoons of added sugars a day for women and 9 for men. The 2001-2004 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) database showed the average intake of added sugars for all Americans was 22.2 teaspoons per day or about 355 calories….Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the No. 1 source of added sugars in the American diet. A 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 130 calories and 8 teaspoons of sugar.” (more…)

Family-based Healthcare System Reform

This is a photograph of the person who is probably responsible for 90% of her descendants’ deaths over the past 100 years. Our own version of Mrs. O’Leary (minus the cow, the fire and Chicago). This is Elizabeth Briggs-Smith, my mother’s grandmother. For her time, she was prodigious – married at least 3 times that we can document, buried all three husbands before dying herself at the age of 55 from what was referred to at the time as ‘dropsy’. We call that congestive heart failure today – and any way you slice, dice, or mince it, she died of heart disease but not before having several children. One of them was my grandmother, Rosalyn Briggs-Smith. She and my grandfather proceeded to have over a period of 20 years (20 years!!!) 9 children, 2 of whom died during the worldwide influenza epidemic of 1917-1918. My mother was born in 1919. Out of the 7 children who survived to adulthood, all were touched by heart disease, the youngest son having his first heart attack in his mid-forties. (more…)

Loose Ends and Housekeeping

If you are (ahem) old enough to recall the Ed Sullivan Show, then if I mention the words “Italian acrobats with spinning plates”, you will know exactly what I’m talking about. For the less ‘elderly’ among Aunt Toby’s readers, suffice it to say that this family group had a hilarious act whereby they set up poles with plates spinning at the tops and they ran about the stage, back and forth, making sure the plates were spinning and not falling to smash on the floor. The big finale was their all picking up the poles and catching the plates. Voila!!

Well, sometimes, Aunt Toby feels that way about KCE. I have to make sure to keep some of the ongoing things up in the air and revisiting them from time to time before they..well, they won’t go smash on the floor, but the story may not be fresh or interesting any longer and all of my little buggers might lose interest.

So, this post is a bit of a catch up. (more…)

More Obscure Vegetables You Can Learn to Love – Chard

In our last episode of “Weird Veggies I Have Known and Learned to Love”, we talked kohlrabi; today it’s that ‘not quite celery – where’s the beet’ thing called Swiss Chard. Chard suffers from a branding problem – how good does it feel saying the word “chard”?


Broccoli – now THERE’s a word that has a good feel in your mouth – very Italian and dramatic — brock–o–li. “Chard” has no charm at all; they should have stuck with the name that they used to call it, “Silver Beet” – that at least has a little bit of charm to it. Even ‘spinach beet’ which was another name for it, is better. Chard? A marketing specialist would have a field day with this – let’s find the guy who came up with ‘the other white meat’ – that’s the guy we want to rebrand chard. (more…)

Bleeding Money

This is the first in what will hopefully be a long line of guest posts. In case y’all didn’t know, I’ve been helping Aunt Toby (well, she’s just Mom to me) with the back-end of the blog since its inception, and I’m super excited to be able to contribute to the content now! So hello from me! xo Carolyn

If you aren’t already, you may want to sit down to read this, because the things I’m about to discuss are considered unpleasant by a lot of people. Physical discomfort and even sickness, throwing money away, and contributing to larger landfills – all of these things can and do happen when you use… (more…)

Is cheap, confinement raised meat lighting the fuse on the next flu pandemic?

Lest we start to play ‘Healthy Days are Here Again”, Aunt Toby would like to remind readers that the so-called Swine Flu (H1N1) is still with us.
“Just as many New Yorkers were beginning to forget the threat of swine flu, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a hastily called news conference Thursday evening that swine flu had been confirmed in the sick man, whom colleagues identified as Mitchell Wiener, the assistant principal of Intermediate School 238 in Hollis. He was being treated at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, where he was on a ventilator.” Latest on Swine Flu in NYC Schools

Update: Mr. Weiner, the gentleman mentioned above, succumbed to H1N1 and died Sunday evening.first swine flu death in New York City

For current updates on H1N1, see US CDC: Swine Flu Update

What Aunt Toby wants to talk about is this: Where the hell did this thing come from? (more…)

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