Saturday, October 26, 2013

October Grain of the Month: Maize, aka Corn

I know October is almost over, but I would be remiss to not post about 
The ugly, the bad, and the good.
Aaaah Clint. So freakin' good-looking!
First, the ugly:
It's sad that every time I find out a product contains corn, I'm immediately turned off. According to Mother Jones, 90% of USA corn is genetically modified.
What's that mean?
It means the crops are Round Up Ready: Engineered to be pesticide resistant. Corn is also engineered to produce its own toxin, Bt Toxin. Bt Toxin comes from bacteria. It attacks the intestines of insects by paralyzing their digestive tract. This is why it's used as an insecticide. I feel scientists have gone too far genetically modifying sweet corn crops to self produce this toxic material.
SH*T (No pun intended), 
I got Crohn's.
There ain't no way I'm eating GMO Corn!
She's not that convincing,
She needs to be doubled over more, don't you think?
Next, the bad:
Just for laughs (OK, I'm a nerd), I googled how many products have GMO corn in them. It's bad! High fructose corn syrup lends itself to Soda, Gatorade, BBQ sauce, Cookies, Cakes, Candy, Chocolate....BABY FOOD! GMO corn oil can be found in margarine, mayonnaise, and salad dressings. And, let's not forget about all the breakfast cereals!
Corn is in over 3,000 grocery products!
GMO Corn = Ubiquitous!
If you want to find out if your food contains GMO Sweet Corn, the kind you find in the grocery aisle, the farmer's markets, and processed foods, the Non-GMO Project has built a data-base and you can use their search bar.
So many people I talk to, 
and a lot of you bloggers are trying the new Grain Brain diet. 
I am curious to know:
Are the grains really contributing to 
dementia, chronic head aches, anxiety, or depression, 
or 
Is it due to the Round-up Ready and Bt Toxins in our grains? 
But at last, the good:
There are different types of corn. Most of the US genetically modified corn is Sweet Corn. Dent Corn (field corn) is used in animal feed, and in industrial products (often a NON-GMO type). The 3rd type of corn is decorative Indian corn - used for, duh, decorative purposes!
Nothing says "Fall" better than Indian Corn
The American Indian word "mahiz" means "that which sustains us". And it does: corn contributes about 21% of human nutrition world-wide. Most of the corn grown in the US and Canada is fed to animals. Corn is also found in industrial products, like cosmetics, fabrics, medicines laundry starch, glue, and ink.
Corn has its rightful place in our diet.
It's really high in vitamin A (10 times more than other grains). Vitamin A is an anti-oxidant, which may help protect us against cancer and could prevent age-related macular degeneration. Corn is often eaten with beans, which is great because their complimentary amino acids (parts of proteins) make up complete proteins. This is super important if you're vegan because so many plant proteins are not complete proteins. 
Corn is a great source of fiber. 
From a runner's perspective, fiber may not be what you want to eat a lot of the day before a race, or right before you're going go for a long run, but there are some energy benefits to the fiber in corn that shouldn't be overlooked. In our colon, the soluble fiber from corn is metabolized by our gut flora (bacteria) into short chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA provide energy to the cells that line our colon, lowering our risk of colon cancer.
For you Gluten Free Foodies out there, 
Bob's Red Mill makes a gluten free corn flour, 
cornbread mix and corn meal.
Click Here to try a Gluten Free Cornmeal Pancake Recipe
My favorite way to eat corn is to pop it.
For years I was grossed out by microwaveable popping corn, and disheartened by GMO corn. I wouldn't allow any of it in the house. But then a fellow runner told me that she microwaves organic popping corn. You can get organic popping corn from Trader Joe's, Eden Foods, or Arrowhead Mills. Just get a flat-bottomed, brown paper bag (like the kind you use for school lunches), add 1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels, fold the bag over 2X, pop in microwave for 3 minutes on high. Stop when popping slows - like when you hear the last 1 or 2 last kernels pop. 
Top it however you wish:
Use a tiny bit of salt or Mrs Dash; chili, onion or garlic powder; sesame, ground flax or hemp seeds. Of course you can make it on the stove too. If you make it on the stove, you can experiment using different flavored olive oils.

Have you experimented with organic popping corn? 
Have better experience with one brand over the other?
Do you have a favorite recipe?
I'd love to learn about them - it's so corn popping season.

Train Smart Today!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Prairie Fire Half Marathon: Wichita, Kansas, State #17!

State #17: Kansas
There are no direct flights from Newark, NJ to Wichita, Kansas. So, Side-kick and I flew into Dallas/Ft. Worth, and then on to Wichita, Kansas. I wanted to run in Kansas in honor of my daughter's performance as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz this past year.
There's no place like home!
Girlfriend is at college in Boston, and couldn't come, but she really wanted to. On the other hand, Mini-man wanted to be "mature" and stay home by himself. He proved he could do it - my home wasn't trashed by drunken teenagers! So proud, Dude!

Anyway, after we landed in Kansas, we made our way to the baggage claim. I usually always check my bag. I think it's ridiculous how people try to jam their luggage in the overhead compartments. I think it's even more ridiculous how panicky and bent out of shape they get when the stewardess says, "I'm sorry, we are going to have to check that below."
On the way to baggage claim area, 
we noticed this 9/11 tribute:
We Will Never Forget! 
The eagle is spreading its wings above one of the steel beams form the WTC
I got very choked up. I took some photos and texted them to my kids, saying, "See, I was meant to do this! To run a half in every state!" This goal is so very important to me. It's my way of saying that they didn't crush us. They killed my husband, but they cannot and will not keep his family down - not in New Jersey, New York, or any of the other 48 states!
It is also my way of saying that Crohn's disease will not keep from running
 ...just make sure I get to the Port-O-John (STAT) at the end of the race!

After picking up our bags, and getting the rental car, we checked into the Wichita Hyatt Hotel, and picked up the packet. The race was set up right outside the Hyatt ...talk about convenient! The race goodies were "eh", although the knapsack bag was nice. We walked around town, and had dinner at the River City Brewing Company. Great beer list! Wichita has some very beautiful sculptures, statues, and water features around town. The paved pathways made it easy and fun to explore the town.
Sidekick along-side the Arkansas River
More sculptures in the background
Lots of water features
I was a tiny bit nervous before the race. See, I just finished my RD Med-Surg rotation at a local hospital, and hardly got any sleep the week before the race. I slept 2 hours from Sunday to Monday, 0 hours from Monday to Tuesday, gave my lecture on neutropenic colitis, secondary to chemotherapy, secondary to endometrial cancer, slept 4 hours from Tuesday to Wednesday, and only two hours from Wednesday to Thursday - only to repeated that from Thursday to Friday. I was exhausted! I still am!

On race day thousands of runners lined up to run either a half or full marathon. On the way to the race, the announcer shouted, "Okay runners, make your way to the finish line." I was walking next to a small woman - she looked a little older than me, but was much smaller - this is pretty hard to beat, since I am only 5'2.5" and like 105 lbs. Anyway, we looked at each other and started to laugh, "Finish line," she said, "He must be confused." She had a little accent - Indian/British sort of. I laughed and said that maybe he just didn't wake up yet - quite like myself! We laughed, and lined up (at the start). Someone sang the Star Spangled Banner, and we were off.

The weather was great - about 55 degrees F, with a clear skies. I ran the race in 1hour and 41minutes. It was the fastest I've run since last year. I have to say, finally the TP Therapy foam rolling, TPTherapy Total Body workouts, and exercises from Dr. Metzl have paid off. I've really felt a lot stronger, and faster lately, in spite of the lack of sleep. Of course, it didn't hurt that this 13.1 was a fast, flat course. Nonetheless, I finished 2nd in my age group, making this the 11th, out of the 17 states that I've come in 1, 2, or 3 in my age group.
2nd in 45-49 yo females
In comparison, this was one of the most well-run races. The most impressive thing about this race was that there were over 1,000 volunteers. The best part of this was that for about ten miles, I ran next this young man, who kept thanking all the volunteers we passed along the way. He was cracking me up. I kept telling him he was the most polite person I've ever met!

When I finished, the announcer announced my name, and stated that I was from NJ. Just then, out of nowhere, a guy came running up to me, "Did they say you are from NJ? OMG. I grew up in NJ!"
What's that expression? 
Six degrees of separation?
Well, it gets weirder. 
On the flight back to NJ, we flew from Wichita to Houston to Newark. Boarding the flight to Houston, I see the woman that I was walking next to when the announcer told us to line up at the finish line. I smiled to her, but it looked like she didn't recognize me. When we landed in Houston, Side-kick and I jumped on the air tram to the next terminal. There was that woman, again - on the air tram. I asked her if she remembered me from the race - she did. She asked me where I lived - I told her NJ. She started to laugh. She said, "Me too!" At the same time, we asked each other, "Why were you running a race in Wichita?" She told me that she was trying to run a marathon in every state, and that Kansas was her 48th state! Wow! I was so impressed. I told her that I was trying to run a 1/2 in every state, and humbly proceeded to say, "This was only state #17!"
She was incredible.
She had lots of fun state racing stories, 
and some great running advice.  
What are the odds?
Talk about six degrees of separation!
Train Smart Today!