Monday, January 30, 2012

Where Are You Laying Up Your Treasures?

I never imagined that getting finished medals for completing the little sprint triathlons or even the half marathons and full marathon I have done can be really, really...I mean really NICE to receive. Of course my main and foremost reasons for biking, swimming, and running is to be healthy and to have fun and feel good doing these activities. However, the added bonus of receiving a "finished medal" even without placing solidifies and completes the feeling of accomplishment...something I had never planned for...meaning that sense of accomplishment. It comes along with the territory. So yes, that was a nice surprise when this all started. You do experience a momentary high. Well, but paying for that registration fee is like actually paying for your own medal. Oh well, let's just not think that way. The bottom line is that it is nice to receive these "rewards". At times the feeling can be addicting and you're thinking about the next race you can enter right at the moment you just finished one while the medal is being placed around your neck or just plain handed to you.

Yesterday, my running buddy, Naara, and I participated in the inaugural Tinkerbell Half Marathon at Disneyland. Receiving the "finished medal" was somewhat shocking due to its ginormous size. It is even way bigger than our San Diego Rock 'n Roll full marathon finished medal. Mercy! certainly was wonderful to receive even though I felt like I should have run another 13.1 miles in order to feel like I really deserved it.

These "finished medals" are displaying nicely on a bulletin board in my office, but now what? They're just sitting there doing nothing. They're certainly not doing anything now for me, except that they're "cool" for me to look at. If these race events never gave out finished medals or cool long-sleeve t-shirts, would I still be as interested in paying all that money to join them? Because I am one that does not trot along on a fast pace, I know I would never ever in this life-time place first, second, third, or even in the top ten. I'm just happy to finish. Maybe I would enter if I knew that 100% of the registration fees went completely to the charities the various races raise money for.

Exercise is definitely important for good health, feeling good, and de-stressing. I just need to do a self check that I am not participating in these events for the little blings we get at the end. There certainly is nothing wrong with theses rewards, but it shouldn't be my focus for doing these events. I'm having to remind myself about the message found in Matthew 6:20 which says, "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal". The little treasures down here on earth do not last long or give lasting joy. However, the time we spend in talking to God and reading His word is a great investment in our relationship with Him. I want to lay my treasures in Heaven where I will get to be with my Lord and Savior all the time, where good-byes will never have to be said, and where we will enjoy life eternally with no worries. I'm looking forward to Heaven. I can't wait. I wish it can be sooner. Let's continue to lay up in treasures in Heaven and I'll look forward to seeing you there too!

What would you like to do when we all get to Heaven?

Monday, January 23, 2012

One Size Does Not Fit All

Many of us like to wear sunglasses. Actually, many of us feel it is actually a need to wear sunglasses, especially if you're out running or cycling for hours or spending a whole day at Disneyland when it's sunny. However, some of us feel comfortable with slightly tinted shades and that's all we need. Some of us like the lenses a little darker. Then there are those of us who need really dark lenses to help us enjoy the outdoors by cutting out a lot of the sun. We have different likes of tinted lenses according to which will decrease the discomfort of the sun down to zero. This allows us to see and enjoy the beauty all around us. There is no one size fits all.

Just like people see life through their own set of lenses, people also see their relationship to food through their own set of lenses. Some people appreciate using the lens of the word "mindful" in order to enjoy their food without repercussions. These particular individuals are conscious of when they eat, where they eat, how much they eat, and how often they eat. This makes them feel comfortable with food and their health. Others appreciate using the lens of the word "intuitive" in order to enjoy their food without repercussions. This lens encourages people to not view eating as a diet, to make peace with food, and to note the fullness signals that their body gives. This is like a wholeness approach. Then some individuals do appreciate using the lens of the word "awareness" in order to enjoy their food without repercussions. Awareness lets them be in the present with their eating experiences at that very moment. This allows individuals to assess how certain foods make them feel. Yet, another group of people like to use the lens of the word "moderation" in order to enjoy their food without repercussions.This allows these individuals to feel there is no food deprivation in their lives whatsoever, so they enjoy food in portions that are reasonable. Last but not least, we have people who like to use the lens of the word "avoid". Some individuals honestly feel that telling them they cannot have this or that works much better for them versus allowing them to have some of this and some of that. In helping people eat right for better health, there is no one size fits all.

God made us with different personalities and different make-ups. One way of viewing food may work for a certain individual, while that same way may not work for a neighbor next door. If a person is forced to view life and food through a lens that is not compatible to how he or she is made, failure will take place in his or her life. 

I personally like to take a combination approach of mindful, intuitive, awareness, and moderation when I counsel people. I don't ever like to use the word never or avoid. Food should be viewed positively, especially because food does contribute to the enjoyment of life. However, in my practice of eighteen years, I have learned that I can't force my philosophy on people. If they see eye to eye with me and like my approach and they feel it will work for them, then we will continue in that path. On the other hand, I have had individuals tell me that approach doesn't work for them. They have said they will be more compliant by telling them you shouldn't have this or you shouldn't have that. As a counselor on healthy living, I have to respect that. If that is what will work best for them, then that is the direction that should be taken. I have to support my clients with "the lens" which will help them see clearly in order to live comfortably and in a healthy manner. All philosophies of eating right has its place. No one size fits all. An individual will be more successful in achieving his goals for health when he has been guided to look through the most appropriate lens for him.


Which lens to do you like to look through?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Recipe Redux: Papaya Cashew Granola with Chia Seeds

From the time you eat dinner till breakfast the next day, you're not going to bother with feeding yourself. You're sleeping most of those in between hours. When you wake up in the morning, it's time to break that fast. Having breakfast will help you start the day on the right foot. You'll be more alert through the morning hours and you'll help jump start your body's ability to burn off calories more effectively in this manner.

The theme for this month's Recipe Redux is "Fresh Starts" in which we were to come up with a new approach to breakfast. For me, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I have been a big fan of granola for many years. This is the first time I have made my own granola and came up with my own granola recipe. I have taken three favorite ingredients and added them to this granola. 


1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

4 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup of cashews
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
3/4 cup of dried papaya
1/2 cup of chia seeds

Preheat oven at 350.

 Mix in a bowl the honey, canola oil, and vanilla extract.

 Add and stir rolled oats, cashews, coconut, and chia seeds to above mixture until coated with the liquid.
Spread mixture on 2 baking sheets with a thin layer on each tray. Bake in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, stir and turn well. Return to oven for another 10 minutes or until desired golden brown color. Remove immediately from oven and add right away cinnamon and nutmeg. Then sprinkle and fold in dried papaya to granola mixture. Allow granola to cool on baking tray. Place in airtight container.

You get good, cleansing fiber from the cashews and oats, protein from the cashews, beta carotene from the papaya, and omega three fatty acids from the chia seeds. Enjoy a crunchy granola cereal that is not too sweet, but sweet enough to start your day off with!

Take a look at the other wonderful healthy breakfast recipes my colleagues have to offer down below!

What is your favorite breakfast combination?

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Monday, January 16, 2012

PRODUCT REVIEW: Honey Stinger Chews

I walked into the bike shop one day where I was about to purchase my supply of GU Chomps for my week-end long run. As I was about to approach the shelves the Chomps are housed on, the owner of the store shouted out that I should try the Honey Stinger products. I hadn't heard of the Honey Stinger products, but I'm always eager to try new products. I left the store that day with Honey Stinger Chews than my usual GU Chomps.

The flavor of the Honey Stinger Chews are fine and pleasant just like what I'm use to. That part wasn't different. However, we have good news and bad news. Which news do you want first? The bad? Alright. Here it is. The Honey Stinger company recommends taking five to ten chews per hour. They're probably assuming you will use these for either long bike rides or long runs that last for a few hours. Five chews only provide 19.5 gm of carbohydrate, 80 calories, 40 mg of sodium, and 20 mg of potassium. These numbers will not do well for an endurance athlete per hour on just five chews. You need more nutrition than that. On we go to ten chews. Well, just double all of those numbers I listed. Yes, that does look better; however, who wants to bother with TEN CHEWS PER HOUR while running a full marathon or biking? Okay, yes, now time for the good news. Ten chews provides protein and fiber! GU Chomps and Powerbar Energy Blasts don't provide those at all. It would be nice if they did. However, the Honey Stinger provides only one gram of fiber and one gram of protein in ten chews. Nothing really to be excited about. GU Chomps and Powerbar Energy Blasts are still my choice of chews for running.

I wouldn't completely discount using Honey Stinger Chews. It has its place. In my humble opinion, these are more appropriate to use during shorter distance events.

Which is your preferred method for replenishing carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium during your endurance event?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Added Sugar: Can Sweeten Life & Can Mess Up Life

I must say one of the many things that makes life sweet is sugary foods. Yes, that is correct. I did say sugary foods. I will continue on to admit to the world that I do love ice cream! I love ice cream especially with some kind of crunch effect to it. However, I do practice moderation even more so when it comes to added sugars in food, like ice cream, across the board. Let me just make it clear before I go on, I am not talking about the natural sugars found in fruits and milk, but the sugars that are added through processing.

A few years, I was going through a difficult time. Being a registered dietitian, I knew better, but what soothed my soul at that time was eating ice cream, with chocolate, once a day for a month. Even though it was just one ice cream sandwich a day, my body was not use to all this extra added sugar, because I don't eat that much added sugar on a regular basis. At the end of the month, my immune system was weakened that it opened up the gates to the former allergies I use to have. My allergies came back with a vengeance. That difficult health situation I dealt with was difficult. I thank God that is resolved now. I am also thankful to God, I am now back on track to healthy eating with enjoying sweets in moderation.

Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pies, ice cream, and doughnuts do add flavor to life. These wonderful food delights certainly can also make us feel happy. Therefore, this should never be taken away from anyone's healthy eating plan. We know that added sugars are found in all pastry goods, frozen yogurt, ice cream, and last but not least, sodas. We all know that added sugars provide extra empty calories that our bodies do not need. Again, sugar does provide wonderful flavor. However, if we continue to consume these food items and beverages on a regular basis in great amounts, this can then contribute to weight gain, obesity, and eventually chronic diseases. Yes, we have been told this and that truth still stands to this very day.

Added sugars are also found in food items you wouldn't expect it would be in. Added sugars give extra delicious flavoring to side dishes, entrees, and condiments as well. Baked beans, ketchup, french dressing, and canned fruit have them. Some entrees that are served in certain cuisines have added sugars to achieve a certain flavor. I have listed a few here just to make you be aware where added sugars can also be contained in.

The take home message here is not "do not ever have added sugar". The take home message is be mindful of how much added sugar you have on a regular basis, so that you will not end up in an unhealthful situation. Once again, moderation is the key. The American Heart Association recommends that women should have no more than 100 calories or 25 gms of sugar per day and men should have no more than 150 calories or 37.5 gms of sugar per day. Enjoy your sweets in whatever form the desire of heart calls for. Just make sure to mindfully enjoy it in moderation.

What is your favorite dessert?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Are Good Nutrition and Exercise Enough to Be Healthy?

The motto of Loma Linda University and Medical Center, where I work, is "to make man whole". Our goal for students, staff, faculty, and patients is to help one another achieve a balanced, healthy life. However, in order to live in wholeness, several aspects of life have to be addressed. To be healthy and whole, it doesn't mean just eating properly. It doesn't mean just making sure you work out and exercise on a regular basis. On the other hand, it is just not nutrition and exercise together, and nothing else is needed. Other than nutrition and exercise, we can also add spending adequate time with family and friends, giving our best while at work, volunteering our time, and spending time with the Peacemaker.

Last month, Pastor Randy Roberts of Loma Linda University Church, gave a meaningful and encouraging sermon on peace. Click here if you would like to view and listen to his sermon. In his sermon, he talks about the importance of peace in our lives despite going through difficulty. I really appreciated his reminder of the verse found in Philippians 4:6 and 7, which says "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus".

You can eat as healthy as you want 365 days a year and exercise 365 days a year, but if you live in a lot of anxiety, that can stress your body and cancel the effects of good nutrition and exercise. Excessive unhealthy stress can wreak havoc on our immune systems. This can then lead to illness.

I need the personal reminder of Philippians 4:6 & 7, because while working full time and working on a PhD, I can definitely break down, or have already broken down several times into tears. However, it is by the grace of God, leaning on Him, trusting in Him that is helping me get through life one day at time. When I focus on His blessings and thank Him for all He has done for me thus far in my life, the peace of God does come over me and relaxes me. True peace only comes from Him and He is willing to give you the peace that you want as well. We can have his peace even when things are going crazy around us in our personal lives. We can have his peace and the assurance that He will take care of our concerns.  In addition to eating well and exercising, allow the peace of God's love to make you healthy and whole.

At the end of Pastor Roberts' sermon that Sabbath, I sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth and Wonderful Peace" with my pianist, Kwasi Agyeman.The video clip was taken while we were putting the two songs together in one of our practice sessions.  Hopefully the words to parts of the songs will be a blessing to you. So, just to warn you, we're very informal here...and I was happy at the end that we were getting close to make this medley work.

What does being whole mean to you?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

JeJe's Version of Pancit

Have you ever been to a Filipino restaurant or have been invited to a friend's house for dinner who's Filipino? What did you have there or what were you served? Some type of noodles? If so, you might have had pancit. There are so many variations to pancit, and I just added to the one millionth variation I believe. I am Filipino-American, so I definitely have to at least have one Filipino recipe here! 

My women's Bible Study group potlucked it for our Christmas party. My contribution for the evening was pancit. When I made the pancit for this particular occasion was when I took a picture of this favorite dish of mine.

2 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 10 oz can of Companion Gluten
7 cloves of minced and chopped garlic
2 cups water
1 bag of bean thread noodles

1 bag of mixed frozen vegetables from Trader Joe's
1 tsp achuete mixed in 1/4 of water
3 tsp McKay's Chicken-Like/Style powdered broth
3 tsp of mushroom seasoning or to taste
ground black pepper to taste
Salt (optional)
Green onions for garnish


The first thing I would do is to soak the bean thread noodles in water for at least half an hour. While the noodles are soaking, chop your onions, garlic, and gluten. In a pot on medium heat, at the oil. After several seconds, sautee the onions and garlic. Then add the gluten. Stir it in the pot for a few minutes. Add water to the pot. Drain the noodles in a colander. You can cut the noodles to a shorter length before adding the noodles in the pot, but this is when you would add the noodles to the pot. Stir everything well together . Add the frozen vegetables. Add the McKay's seasoning. Add the achuete mixture. Stir everything well together. Add the mushroom seasoning and black pepper. Continue stirring everything very well through and through. Keep on heat until noodles are fully softened, but not mushy. If noodles begin to stick, you may add a little bit of canola oil. You may also need to add salt to taste or even more mushroom seasoning to taste if flavor not achieved. Continue to stir and mix well. When flavor desired, turn off heat. Sprinkle on top with green onions. Ready to serve.

Hope you enjoy this Filipino dish!

What other Filipino dishes do you like?