Monthly Archives: May 2014

Anything For Love {Fun Friday}

First of all, I apologize for posting late this week. Our wedding pictures finally came in the mail yesterday, so I spent the afternoon working on an online gallery for them instead of finishing my fun Friday post. The pictures are fantastic! We had a blast re-living our wedding day when we looked at them. I will be working on a few wedding recap posts to share on BNP soon. Anyway, on to some videos, pictures, and stories that made me laugh or smile this week!

First up this week is a video about what it’s like to be out of shape at the gym (aka my experience right now).

I’m also motivated by tacos, so I can relate. 🙂 Next up is a sweet video that I saw about what one woman’s friends did to show their support while she undergoes cancer treatment.

 

What an extraordinary group of women! If you are looking for more sources of inspiration, I also found a link to the 22 best TED talks for fitness, health, and happiness inspiration. I’m a fan of TED talks, and I’ve seen a handful of the ones on that list. If you only have time to watch one, I recommend 16. Brené Brown: The Power of Vulnerability. Brené Brown is a social work researcher and a wonderful speaker. Her message is one that everyone needs to hear over and over.

Finally, I’ll end with two videos that made me laugh. The first is an old Sprite commercial.

I always think about how weird it would be if mascots actually talked to you. I love the dog’s reaction. 🙂 That commercial somehow led me to these Japanese McDonald’s commercials, which are insanely creepy but also funny.

What in the world?? Commercials from other countries are always entertaining.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to smile and laugh!

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Tacos, Ice Cream, and Massages

I’m really trying to slow down and enjoy my last few days before I start work on Monday, and the past couple days have been great. Yesterday I slept in and spent the morning reading and working the blog. Then I met up with my grad school friends Brittany and Caroline for lunch at NANATACO

. Nanataco

I got the lunch special, which was two tacos, rice, and beans. I chose the rotisserie chicken and garlic beef as my taco meats. I was having so much fun catching up with Brittany and Caroline that I completely forgot to get a picture of the food.

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I forgot to take a picture of my food. Whoops! Here’s an example lunch special though. (Source: indyweek.com)

It was delicious though, and I liked the laid back atmosphere. NANATACO is quite popular. Parking is tough, but we didn’t have to wait in line to order very long at all. After lunch, we went to another popular place in downtown Durham called The Parlour.

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My lovely dates for the afternoon. 🙂

I’m an ice cream addict, so I was pumped to finally try out The Parlour. People always talk about it, and it lived up to the hype. Brittany and Caroline got Vietnamese coffee, and I got tiramisu. Yes, that’s right. Tiramisu ice cream!! My two favorite desserts together as one. *Swoon.* It was heavenly.

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We had a great time swapping stories and talking about graduation and the future. All three of us tend to work with people who are sick and/or dying, and it’s nice to talk to people who understand why I love that kind of work.  We also decided that we will have enough crazy social work stories between us to write a book someday.

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Brittany and I showing off our ice cream.

Brittany, who I sometimes refer to as the ghost Christmas future, is also married to a future doctor. Her husband just graduated, too, and they are heading to Milwaukee for his residency. I will miss her dearly, but I know we’ll keep sharing our crazy stories from afar. Plus, who knows where Derek and I will end up in two years for his residency? I’m glad to know that I’ll have a friend in the midwest

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Last night Derek and I watched the movie The Normal Heart on HBO. Have you heard about it yet? It’s based on Larry Kramer’s play of the same name, and it’s about the beginning of the AIDS crisis in New York City. It was a compelling movie, and the acting is excellent. As this NPR article states, The Normal Heart shows a piece of history that many people in my generation have never learned about. I highly recommend watching it if you have HBO or HBO GO.

Today I was really productive around the house. I put the laundry away, unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned the kitchen, etc. I love the feeling of getting all of those necessary chores done. The highlight of the day was finally using the Groupon for a 60 minute massage at Flawless Day Spa that Derek gave me for my birthday back in February. It was wonderful! I’ve never had a professional massage before, and I absolutely loved it. I feel so relaxed. If you’re in the Chapel Hill/Durham area, I would definitely recommend Flawless. They were nothing but professional and kind. In the afternoon, I was also able to fit in a run before going to dinner with some of my friends from college. Overall, it was another awesome day.

Last, but not least, our wedding pictures are FINALLY ready!! I’m so excited to see them tomorrow. Be on the lookout for a wedding recap soon!

Blackened Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette Recipe

As I mentioned in my Lightened Up Cobb Salad post, I don’t like wimpy salads. If I’m going to eat a salad as a meal it needs to be flavorful and filling. Last week I decided to try out a new dinner salad, and it was a scrumptious success! I made Cooking Light‘s Blackened Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette. I reviewed my experience with the recipe, including any substitutions and tips I learned along the way.


 

Recipe Review: Blackened Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette by Cooking Light

When I first found this recipe in Cooking Light, I almost wrote it off immediately due to the length of the ingredients list.

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But then I took a closer look at the recipe. The first 7 ingredients are part of a spice rub, and I already had all of the spices on hand. (Technically I used regular paprika instead of Hungarian sweet paprika, but it worked out fine.)

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I thought the rub was flavorful and had the perfect amount of “kick” to it, but If you really don’t like spice, you may want to cut back on the red pepper. After mixing the spices together, I put the rub on the chicken breasts and cooked them on a grill pan. You could also use a regular grill.

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It took about 10 minutes to cook the chicken.

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While the chicken grilled, I put together the vinaigrette and salad.

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I bought shallots and substituted red wine vinegar for white wine vinegar, but other than that, I had all of the ingredients used to make the vinaigrette. I followed the recipe and used blue cheese, but I think feta would work as well. I let Derek think it was impressive that I made the dressing, but it was super easy. He doesn’t have to know that though. 🙂

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The salad portion consisted of half of a romaine heart and halved cherry tomatoes. After I let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, I sliced it and put everything together.

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The salad was beautiful and delicious. It paired nicely with grilled Texas toast, but any crusty bread would be great, too.

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The salad was really good and much easier to make than I expected. I tend to think that more ingredients= more time and difficulty, but I was definitely wrong with this one. Other than shallots and blue cheese, you probably have the ingredients for the spice rub and vinaigrette in your kitchen right now.

Happy cooking!

Food Deserts and Swamps {Social Justice Issue}

Though I often write about food and recipes, you read that correctly; I’m writing about food deserts, not dessert. I’m sorry to disappoint if you came here looking for delicious sweet treats. Perhaps I’ll make a dessert post soon. 🙂

I love reading healthy living blogs and food blogs, and there is a vast amount of valuable information about how to live a healthy life. However, among the debates about organic foods and Crossfit, there is little discussion about people who do not have access to the tools and foods necessary for a healthy lifestyle. I say this not to trivialize typical blog topics (that’s mostly what I write about, too) but to suggest that there is room for broader discussion of healthy living challenges that most bloggers, myself included, do not usually face. My goal with this post and future social justice posts is to provide information and encourage people to contribute to change in their communities if the topic is meaningful to them.


Food Deserts and Swamps

What is a food desert?

A food desert is an “area in the United States with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, particularly such an area composed of predominantly low income neighborhoods and communities” (US Department of Agriculture). (Low income areas are defined by more than 40% of the population having incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty threshold.) Approximately 23.5 million people live in food deserts. Food deserts are most common in urban and rural areas.

What is a food swamp?

Some people have suggested that food swamp is a better term for urban areas than food desert because there is usually food available, but it is not healthy, varied, or affordable (i.e. fast food and pricey, processed convenience store food).

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Case Study #1- Emma and Charles Davis in Atlanta, Georgia 

If you read anything in this post, please take a look at this excerpt from Atlanta Magazine‘s feature “Stranded in Atlanta’s Food Deserts” by Rebecca Burns:

If everything goes right—the buses are on time and they make every connection—a one-way trip from their apartment to the store takes two hours. But if there’s a glitch, and there’s almost always a glitch, they’re looking at three hours. Each way. By car it takes twenty minutes to cover the same route. There’s another Kroger, half the distance from the one on Moreland Avenue. But the bus to get there is crowded. “No one gives up a seat,” Charles said. “We have to stand the whole way.” Forget the store five miles north in Vinings Village; MARTA service ends at the border of Fulton and Cobb counties. 

I highly suggest reading the rest of the article. While statistics are useful and important, I think reading about the human side of food deserts is most powerful.

Case Study #2- Baltimore

The infographic below depicts the location of large grocery stores vs. small grocers, convenience stores, carry out, and fast food in three geographic areas of Baltimore, Maryland. The population, average income, and racial makeup of each area is included. The bottom of the infographic shows the number of deaths/10,000 people for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes (which are all linked to diet) for each area. The last statistic is the potential years of life lost due to preventable disease.

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Source: BryanConnor.com

The infographic illustrates the difference between food deserts and swamps, and it also demonstrates that low income areas and African Americans are most affected by food deserts/swamps.

What can we do about food deserts/swamps? 

The image below lists several strategies to help combat food deserts and swamps. I highlighted  a few of the solutions and included  examples that have been enacted.

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Source: Dark Rye by Whole Foods Market

  • Grant funding to get affordable, fresh produce into local convenience stores. Minneapolis has the Healthy Corner Store Program to assist convenience stores with providing healthier food options.
  • Investment pools to provide grants and loans to grocers wanting to build or expand in underserved neighborhoods. The New Jersey Food Access Initiative is one example.
  • Non-profit grocery stores. Follow this link to see a video about the non-profit grocery store Fare and Square in Chester, Pennsylvania.
  • NYC Green Carts.

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  • Volunteer programs that collect unsold food (especially fruits and vegetables) from farmers and food vendors to redistribute to low income communities where fresh food is not readily accessible. One example is Gather Baltimore.
  • Mobile  markets and produce vans such as Veggie Van in Durham.

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Resources and Additional Information

Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences by USDA

Food Access and Food Deserts: Durham County, North Carolina by Associate Professor Stephan Schmidt of Cornell University

Food Empowerment Project – Great information about food deserts and health risks associated with poor diet.

 

Create Love, Manufacture Meaning, Generate Motivation

Hope you’re having a good Memorial Day weekend! This week’s quote is very new, but I’m already a big fan. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that life isn’t just happening to us. We are active players in our own lives.

The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.   -Neil deGrasse Tyson

I Wish I Was 4 Again {Fun Friday}

It’s fun Friday at Brown is the New Pink! Check out the pictures and links below if you need to smile or laugh.

To kick things off, I want to share an excerpt from John Legend’s graduation speech at the University of Pennsylvania’s commencement ceremony:

Professor Cornel West gives us a word for what this kind of love looks like in public. That word is justice. If you’re committed to loving in public, it requires you opening your eyes to injustice, to see the world through the eyes of another. This is not a passive activity. You have to read. You have to travel to other neighborhoods, other parts of the world. You may have to get your hands dirty. You have to allow people to love you, and you have to love them back

If you have time, the full speech is definitely worth reading.

Have you ever struggled with making an important decision in your love life? Perhaps you can relate to the kiddo in the video below. He is adorable. 🙂

Here’s another cool story from Humans of New York. It shows that just 15 seconds of courage can change your life.

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“We’ve been married 31 years.”
“How’d you meet?”
“I saw her on a bus, put my watch in my pocket, sat down next to her, and asked her for the time.”

Finally, Jimmy Fallon– er, I mean Gary Frick’s advertisement for dog treats was cute and funny. What a sweet dog!

Have a great weekend!

Steak and Asparagus Stir-Fry Recipe

Happy Friday! I wanted to share this steak and asparagus stir-fry recipe that I mentioned in my weekly meal plan post. The recipe is from Cooking Light. Instead of coming up with new recipes, I will most frequently review recipes on Brown is the New Pink. I always learn something from the first time that I make a new recipe, so I hope information about my experience with the recipe will help you!

The first step in the recipe involves mixing ingredients for the sauce. I made a few changes with this step based on what I had in the house. I used chicken broth instead of stock, and I left out the ginger because it’s too expensive for me. The sauce still turned out great.

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Whisking the sauce together.

Next, the recipe calls for browning boneless sirloin steak that has been cut into 1/4″ strips. Unfortunately, sirloin steak was not on sale at my grocery store, but I found some less expensive choice beef that was already cut into strips for stir-frying. Convenience for the win! After the beef is browned, which only takes about 1-2 minutes, the next step is stir-frying the veggies.

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Stir-frying the asparagus and bell pepper.

The red bell pepper and asparagus go in first followed by the green onions. The sauce is added next. Finally, the beef goes back in at the end.

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Putting it all together.

If you’re like me and want to make sure you’re cooking everything for the right amount of time, I suggest setting a timer for 10 minutes and watching your time throughout the whole process. For example, if I put the asparagus and bell pepper in the skillet at 10 minutes, I know to add the green onions at 8 minutes and the sauce at 7.5 minutes.

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Sorry for the poor picture quality. It may not look it, but it was delicious!

It’s as easy as that.

Derek and I both LOVED this recipe. It will become a regular on our rotation. Derek even said it is one of the best things I’ve ever cooked. The recipe is easy and super fast. I chopped the vegetables in advance, so the whole recipe took me 15 minutes with about 10 minutes of actual cooking time. I served the stir-fry over jasmine rice that I microwaved while I was cooking. It all came together fast, and it was incredibly flavorful.

Steak and Asparagus Stir-Fry Recipe by Cooking Light

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