Archive for February, 2009

Dr. Frank Sacks says, “it isn’t what you eat that matters, it’s how much you put in to your mouth!

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

It was fun last night to hear Dr. Frank Sacks too excited about his NEJM article The Pounds Lost Trial which comes out today (New England Journal of Medicine), to give the talk he was scheduled to deliver at the Nutrition Roundtable at Harvard School of Public Health. The old story was “Please pass the salt. How much sodium is too much?” The new story is “When you want/need to lose weight, there’s no difference in either success or health that depends on the diet you choose.’ Go Atkins, go South Beach, go Weight Watchers (although there may be an edge here, but more on that later)…go Mediterranean. They all work as long as you keep you caloric intake under control. “it’s the null hypothesis in terms of the differences between the diets,” Dr Sacks says.

This is the longest, largest study ever completed of how the weight loss diets differ. Sacks calls the results, “A relief. It simplifies things. takes the whole question of what you eat out of the weight loss conversation.” Most diet studies have a high dropout rate, (people get bored), or are skewed towards women (this one had a reasonable balance of men and women in their early 50’s). Sacks study compared four popular diets concepts and meal plans, which according to Sacks, were all “equally tasty. If one group had jam or butter on their bread, the other one had peanut butter. There was no one diet with the good food and the other ones were losers.”

Dr. Sacks is a Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Harvard Medical School and at the HSPH Department of Nutrition. He is publishing today the results of a two year study of over 800 men and women, in two locations (Boston and Baton Rouge, LA) who were divided up into four groups and each set of 200 were put on one of four different diets. The diets were four variants of high-fat, low-fat, high protein, low protein, high carbs, low carbs that mirror all the diets that are on talk shows and airport malls today. At the end of two years–the participants had mostly all lost 20 pounds or more, and lost inches from their waistlines–and most had kept it off for the two years of the study.

One interesting finding is that group participation seems to matter to weight loss. (Listen up Weight Watchers etc.!) As part of the study, people had to go to weekly support group meetings, and have regularly scheduled individual support session and medical monitoring (blood tests, weigh ins etc).  “Participation matters,” Dr. Sacks says. “On, the whole, people who show up for meetings seem to do better.” But there were still people who showed up every session and still lost close to bupkes. Maybe they came for the coffee.

Everyone Wants to Be a TV Chef

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Everyone wants to be a TV Chef
An awesome responsibility. I was a judge, clipboard in hand, fork at the ready. Sitting in judgment over the skills, the menus, and media demeanor of eight aspiring cooking school students hoping to win the New England t

Louisa makes her famous brisket!

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Hey. Watch me make my brisket!

Watch my videoJuicy and delicious

Great time at the Chatham Bars Inn!

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Ever the local, I’d never been to the town of Chatham on Cape Cod, and so a mini-weekend at the Chatham Bars Inn seemed slightly exotic, even though it was a whopping 90 minutes from Boston, a straight shot on the Mid-Cape Highway from our cluttered house with unfinished projects and the call of the laptop, to the total serenity of a cottage by the sea. We arrived at lunch-ish on an overcast Saturday. The curved sweep of the brick driveway, the huge covered porch, the snow on the beach, Adirondack chairs in the winter glaze, and a fire in the tavern.

I had two glasses of wine at lunch (definitely weekend behavior) followed by a deep tissue massage at the zippy lavender and green co-ed zen-like spa, nestled next to the golf course, (ask for Diane!). After the massage, to complete the “experience” I took a sauna and steam shower. Mike had a nap.

As I walked back from the spa, I waved to a gaggle of ladies, bonding in black tank suits in the outdoor hot tub, steam rising from their shoulders, snow mounds as close as their fingertips. We checked into our cottage –the Beach House––private decks, a living room and bedroom, two baths, and a Nespresso machine. (Did I forget the two flat screens?) But the gem is the view of the beach, the ocean channel (England to the right, P’town to the left), the public fish pier, and the winter sky at sunset. Dinner at the hotel–elegant but not over the top. Mike found a pearl in his Wellflleet oyster. He secured it in the cap of his ever-present fountain pen. Slow roasted swordfish, perfect local scallops. Favorite touch: the mini desserts. Tiny creme brulee, mini cheesecake. Just enough for a bite or two.

Back across the road to our beach front cottage, with the taste of sweet and sea in our mouths, and the on-shore salt air stiffening our senses. The moon is out. And the sky is clearing. We can see the big dipper from our deck.

Sunday morning lazy. Watching the talking heads and drinking espresso. Ambling over to the Inn for a brunch of lobster frittattas and fresh berries. Have we only been here 24 hours? Next time, more time. Two nights, more spa, more walks on the beach. Maybe the walk with the naturalist? A gem, an escape. A winter bargain, an escape only a few hours from home.

Who knew there were so many men in Cambridge who know all the words to La Vie en Rose?

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Last week I went to a dinner cabaret at Rialto Restaurant that still has me humming. The food was lovely –natch–but the event was simply delightful. Dinner and a show, an old fashioned one at that. Tables of 8’s and 10’s, arranged around the room with space for a singer and her four piece back up band. She was a wonderful, husky Armenian chanteuse–Julie? Julie? What is her last name that ends in -tanian?–who moved through romantic international classics, as Charles Aznavour (himself a French/Armenian) seduced New Yorkers in the 60’s. She sang Never On Sunday, Que Sera Sera, (I even managed to squeak out part of the chorus when the microphone was thrust under my nose), an Armenian song, a gypsy melody, a Russian ballad, and a little Sinatra for good measure. Perfect strangers became friends.Men in tweeds and bow ties stood up to sing, soulfully, occasionally knocking over their wine glasses. The pianist (who is also the singer’s husband) took a bow. The violinist smiled, the percussionist nodded.

The next event at Rialto is a Tango night this coming Wednesday, Feb 11. I’m on it. A hip hop cabaret comes next in March on the 10th. I’m up for that one too. You know, you forget, you fall into a rut about forms of entertainment…it’s so rare to have an almost cheek-to-cheek moment with a live performer.