Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Greetings LIFEers! We were joined this morning by morning meteorologist Anthony Yanez. Hurricane season is upon us, and we Houstonites (and anyone living along the gulf coastline) are in the path of these monstrous storms. Learn about how they form, some hurricane history, and what you can do to protect yourself in the slide show below. Get prepared now and stay tuned to the weather channels to keep you and your loved ones safe during hurricane season.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Eat It Raw!

Greetings LIFEers - this summer we are trying to get you healthier! Hot on the heels of Dr. Hayden's class about the health benefits of Omega 3s, today's LIFE class was all about the health benefits of eating raw foods. We were joined by Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram, a Rice graduate with a degree in Kinesiology who also founded Rawfully Organic, a coop here in Houston which brings in organic foods from around the country. Kristina shared with us her success story eating the raw food diet, and shared with us some recipes from her website, (see link below).

Kristina was diagnosed hyperglycemia at age 16. She was in the grocery store one day when she was approached by a stranger asking her if she was a raw foodie. Not knowing anything about it at the time, Kristina did some research, and decided to try the raw food diet. After 30 days, Kristina felt noticeably better, and her blood sugar was testing within the normal range. After a year and a half of the raw food diet, Kristina's condition was gone. Now in her early 20s, she runs several miles a day and keeps up with her blood tests, but her doctor reports her health is excellent.

Inspired by this turnaround, she started working with organic farmers to bring more organic foods into the Houston area. She began by selling the food (not-for-profit) out her garage, which evolved into the Rawfully Organic coop, with several locations around Houston. The coop prices are on par with, and sometimes less than, organic food prices at regular grocery stores.

Suggested books on the raw food diet:

  • The China Study by Colin Campbell (available in the library)

  • The 80-10-10 Diet by Douglas N. Graham

Suggested equipment: Vitamix blender - Kristina makes a lot of smoothies with leafy greens that regular blenders have trouble with


Smoothie Recipes:

  • Blueberry Peach
    5-6 Peaches
    2 Cartons of Blueberries

  • Banana Blueberry
    5-6 Bananas
    1 Carton of Blueberries

  • Blueberry Kiwi
    5 Kiwis
    2-3 Cartons of Blueberries

  • Blueberry Strawberry Banana
    3-4 Bananas
    1-2 Cartons of Blueberries
    Handful of Strawberries

  • Blueberry Nectarine
    4 Bananas
    3-4 Nectarines

  • Blueberry Pineapple
    2 Cartons of Blueberries
    1/2 a RIPE Pineapple

Mexican Sweet Corn Salad:

2-3 Ears of Sweet Corn
3-4 Tomatoes (Add More if Desired)
1/2 or One Full Cucumber Diced
1 Stalk of Celery
1 Red Bell Pepper (Optional if picked as a choice item)
Fourth of One Yellow Onion (Optional)
Quarter of One Avocado (Optional)
Bunch of Basil, Cilantro, or Parsley (Free to add a little of all if desired)
Half of One Fresh Squeezed Lemon
For Extra Pizazz, Add in a PEACH!

Cut and dice up all ingredients and mix into a bowl. Mix all of the ingredients together until the flavors mix and create a savory salad!

The Side Salsa:
4-5 Tomatoes
Third of an Avocado
4 Celery Stalks
Slice of Yellow Onion
Herb of Choice
Fresh Squeezed Lemon or Lime (optional)

In a food processor, combine all ingredients for a short period of time and then pour over salad! Mix!!

Baby Bok Choy Salad:
1-2 heads of baby bok choy (depends on for how many you are preparing)
Juice of 1-2 Lemons
Bunch of Cilantro
Quarter of Red, Green, or Yellow Onion
1 Garlic Clove (optional)
1 Cucumber
1/4 of One Avocado (optional)
1 Tomato (optional)

Chop up the baby bok choy stalks until they are good to put into a salad. Tiny chunks are much better here.
Dice the cilantro, tomato, avocado, and onions together.
Dice up half of the cucumber, and save the other half for the dressing.
Put these ingredients on top of the salad, and mix them in with your hands. That's right, get messy! Eating with your hands is liberating!
For the dressing, you have two options.
For the first option, you can merely sprinkle the salad with a squeeze of your lemon, chop up a TINY bit of garlic, and mesh it all within your salad.
For the second option, you can use the other half of the cucumber and blend it in your vitamix with a stalk or two of celery, lemon juice from one lemon, a bit of cilantro, and a TINY bit of garlic. If you wish, you can add in a tablespoon of raw sesame seeds to grind in the mix.
Enjoy this salad, and be creative with it! The more flavors, the better for this one!

Learn more about Christina and the Rawfully Organic coop at their website,

Eat healthy and stay happy my friends!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Miracle of Omega 3s

Have you ever heard the phrase, "You are what you eat"? If so, then you know that our diet of processed, fried and fatty foods are leading us to become a nation of overweight and unhealthy people. If you want to be a lean, mean, long-living machine, it starts with your diet. And a crucial component of our diets are Omega 3 fatty acids. Today, Dr. Chase Hayden returned to teach us about the importance of Omega 3s, and how they help us stay healthy.

Omega 3s serve two important functions in our bodies: they allow for mineral transportation out of our bloodstream and into our cells, and they protect the cellular lining. This doesn't sound like a big deal, but remember, our brains are roughly 60% fat, so fatty acids are critical for optimum brain functioning and mineral absorption. (Side thought: does this make being called a "fat head" a compliment?)

Dr. Chase was bombarded with questions like "so what vitamins should I take". Unfortunately there is no singular answer. Everybody is different. Some people spend enough time in the sun that they don't need Vitamin D. Other people get enough fatty acids in their food so they don't need to take supplements. But a general rule of thumb that won't hurt people (provided you have healthy functioning gallbladders, kidneys and livers) are to take about 1000 milligrams of Omega 3s each day (usually 500 mgs twice a day). Dr. Hayden recommends supplements from whole foods, that is, the label says the ingredients are from animals or vegetables like kale, cod liver, algae, etc... A good rule of thumb is the 4th grader test: if a 4th grader couldn't read and understand the ingredients, it probably isn't from a whole food. For Omega 3s, Dr. Hayden recommends cod liver oil (yes, your grandmother was right). The label should say the only ingredient is cod liver oil. In general, you should be wary of supplements. The FDA does not regulate this industry, so there are lots of fakes out there. Do your research and consult with your doctor before trying anything new.

Check out Dr. Hayden's slide show below, and stay happy and healthy my friends!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Great New Summer Reads

Greeting LIFEers! What a beautiful (and hot) summer it is shaping up to be. But fortunately, it won't be a boring one, thanks to Valerie Koehler, owner of Blue Willow Book Shop. She joined us this week to dish out some good summer reading suggestions, and our LIFE class ate up every minute.


  • My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliviera - civil war historical fiction about a woman trying to become a medic with a Lincoln cameo

  • Room by Emma Donoghue - heavy on the "ick" factor, but a great read and unanimously voted one of the best books of the year by all who've read it, a moving tale from the point of view of a 5 year old boy locked in a room with his mother

  • The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer - story of a Hungarian Jewish family and how they survived WW2 with the war approaching on two fronts

  • Coffins of Little Hope by Timothy Schaffert - beautifully written story about an obituary writer in a small town who gets involved in the case of a missing girl

  • Informationist by Taylor Stevens - action/adventure similar to the Steig Larson books, the heroine does jobs no one else will do, here she is hired to search for a missing girl in Africa

  • Still Missing by Chevy Stevens - story of a missing girl, a dark and more disturbing story

  • I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson - a young David Cassidy fan in Wales grows up and struggles with her mother and boyfriend

  • Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson - fluff, a fun read about a widower in a British village trying to get his father's gun back while befriending a foreign woman in town


  • In the Garden of the Beasts by Eric Larson - story of William Dodd, the America's Ambassador to Germany in the 1930s

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot - story of a Maryland woman who died of cancer but whose cells have lived on and contributed to science in many ways

  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand - story of Lewis Samborini, an American Olympic athlete who enlisted in WW2 and was a POW in Japan
Young Adult:

  • Divergent by Veronica Roth - action, distopian future with a heroine

  • True (Sort of...) by Katherine Hannigan - outgoing teen befriends a troubled girl
Short Stories:

  • If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This by Robin Black - stories of love, loss, grief, kids, marriage, etc...

Blue Willow Book Shop is located near the intersection of Memorial Drive and Dairy Ashford. They have lots of fun events and automatic discounts for frequent customers.

Blue Willow Book Shop
14532 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079(281) 497-8675