Good Intentions

When we start something new or make a promise to ourselves it is usually with good intentions in mind.  We start with a positive can do attitude and are not planning on taking a detour or hitting a roadblock along the way.  However life happens and maybe your plan that you thought was such a great idea was not such a doable one after all.  Maybe giving up all sugar for example was a little extreme.

This past summer I started training for a 25k (15.7 miles) Trail Race with good intentions in mind of course.   This wasn’t just any trail race however.  This was the Bulldog named after its long 4.3 mile long hill that climbs up to 2500 hundred feet.  This was a brutal trail race and it was supposed to be my  “first” big comeback race since the birth of my youngest son.  Sure I had run the local races around town but this was going to be my first big test.  For those of you that don’t know, my third pregnancy really threw me for a loop both mentally and physically and finally two years later I felt ready to go at it again.

Well the big day arrived and my body was ready, but mentally I was not.  It was literally the HOTTEST day of the summer and I began to have my doubts.  I had been envisioning a top three finish but that soon clearly became not the case.  In the middle of the wretched Bulldog hill all I wanted to do was turn around.  It was hot, I had fallen off the pace and there was an “old “ lady that just passed me up the hill.  My good intentions started to turn into no intentions.  My friend’s husband caught up with me and we started talking.  Clearly if I was able to hold a conversation up the Bulldog with him I was not pushing myself.  We arrived at the aid station at mile 7 and after the volunteer doused me with fabulously cold water something clicked in me.  My race was not going how I had envisioned it to but I was not a quitter.  I said so long to my friend’s husband and was off.  My body was flying up and down the trail and I was passing runner after runner.   I came through the finish line feeling depleted.  I made up so much time I ended up beating my friend’s husband by eleven minutes.  I did not finish in the top three as I hoped but I felt good that I did not let my whole entire race fall apart.  My intentions were to run hard and finish at least third woman.  My reality:  I ran hard the second half of the race and had to settle for sixth woman.  As I drove home from the race that day I felt disappointed and sad that I did not accomplish what I had set out to do. (I was also wising that I was not such a competitive person!)  However I did not let myself completely fall apart which is something I should be proud of.  My goal that I had set for myself with good intentions in mind was not completely fulfilled but I did not abandon it because I hit a roadblock.

When you set a goal for yourself whether it is to include more fruits and veggies in your diet or to workout more often and you hit a roadblock don’t jump ship.  Get over the obstacle and continue where you left off.    It is often thought that if a person eats one so called bad food during the day that their diet is ruined and they may as well continue to eat poorly the rest of the day.  This is not the case.  Get over the “bad food” and jump back to your plan.  The same goes for exercise.  If you can’t get your full one-hour workout in and can only fit in 30 minutes, do it!  Something is better that nothing.

So next time your healthy living plan that was made with good intentions of course does not go as planned don’t jump ship.  Make adjustments and continue on.


Katie Valdes MS RD CSSD

Katie is a Registered Dietitian specializing in weight management, sports nutrition and child nutrition. Katie maintains her own practice in Southern California consulting with individuals of all ages.  She has taught university nutrition classes, conducted nutrition seminars and lectures, and continues to author a nutrition newsletter.

She is an avid runner, having regularly run long distance competitively in high school, at USC, and she continues to do it today while pushing two of her three children, ages 25, and 8, in a stroller.  Katie has placed 13th overall female in the Los Angeles Marathon, 4th overall female in the Napa Valley Marathon and regularly ranks at the top of her class in races today.

Katie holds a Masters Degree in Nutrition and is Board Certified in Sports Dietetics in addition to her Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science from USC.


Image from Flickr Creative Commons lululemonathletica

Gardening With Your Little Ones

Spring is right around the corner believe it or not and that means that it is time to start planning your vegetable garden.  Growing a vegetable garden is a great family activity.  Not only does it allow for some family bonding time, it teaches your child about where food comes from.  And if your child has been involved in the gardening process they are more likely to eat the vegetables they have grown themselves.

Peak your child’s interest by reading books on gardening together.  Some great fun reads are: How Groundhog’s Garden Grew by Lynne Cherry and Muncha, Muncha, Muncha  by Candace Fleming.  You can also visit local farmer’s markets, pick-your own vegetable farms and community gardens.  This will allow your child to talk with the growers themselves.  Now let’s get started!

  1. Vegetables love the sun so pick a nice sunny location in your yard.  If you don’t have a yard, don’t despair, a couple of large containers will work just as well.
  2. Prepare your dirt with some good soil amendments/fertilizer that can be found at local nursery or hardware stores.
  3. Pick your veggies.  Depending on where you live you will either want to start your vegetables from seed or plants.  Some good, easy-to-grow, and nutritious choices are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, beans, and if space allows, pumpkins.
  4. If you are feeling adventurous, add some herbs to your garden as well.  Some great summer choices are basil, chives, oregano, thyme and cilantro.
  5. To keep your plants healthy make sure to water regularly and watch out for pesky bugs.  You can purchase organic pest sprays, ladybugs and/or praying mantis to help keep pests at bay.

Since growing vegetables can take some time, have your child keep a journal of the plants growth, either through words or pictures.  This will not only keep your child interested but it will also help you keep track of when your plants should be harvested.  All that is left to do now is to sit back and eat your veggies.  If your child was not eating vegetables before, I guarantee you they will be eating their vegetables now.

Katie Valdes MS RD CSSD

Katie is a Registered Dietitian specializing in weight management, sports nutrition and child nutrition. Katie maintains her own practice in Southern California consulting with individuals of all ages.  She has taught university nutrition classes, conducted nutrition seminars and lectures, and continues to author a nutrition newsletter.

She is an avid runner, having regularly run long distance competitively in high school, at USC, and she continues to do it today while pushing two of her three children, ages 25, and 8, in a stroller.  Katie has placed 13th overall female in the Los Angeles Marathon, 4th overall female in the Napa Valley Marathon and regularly ranks at the top of her class in races today.

Katie holds a Masters Degree in Nutrition and is Board Certified in Sports Dietetics in addition to her Bachelor Degree in Exercise Science from USC.



Images sources from flickr Creative Commons: Seeds, Enormous Cucumber, Planting



Free Urban Farming Workshop

If you are hip on growing what you eat then you need to check this out! At the Huntington Library…

April 24  (Tuesday)

7:30 p.m.  Free



Ranch lecture – The Wild Mediterranean Food Garden: Ideas and Practical Methods for Resilient Urban Agriculture

If your vegetable gardening is tied to traditional methods for planting, irrigation, and weed control, an exciting new world of ecosystem gardening awaits your discovery. Ecological landscape designer Darren Butler will discuss how to balance wildness and human management in seasonal food production as he outlines the core ideas for a new and evolving approach to gardening. Free; no reservations required. Friends’ Hall


When I was growing up, Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, were a regular on our dinner table. The way we made Garbanzo curry, Chole, started by soaking raw garbanzo beans in water overnight. In the morning (EARLY in the morning, like 5.30 AM when she woke up), my mom would put them in a pressure cooker. Once the whistle blew (loudly, thus serving as our alarm to get up for school), she cooked it on low heat for 40 minutes, then made the curry before leaving for work. That evening we knew exactly how dinner conversation would go.

All of us: Chole are really tasty!

Dad adds: How long did you cook it for?

Mom: 40 minutes

Dad: You should have cooked it for 45 minutes. It makes the chickpeas softer & thoroughly cooked.

Mom: They are soft & thoroughly cooked.

Dad: 5 more minutes would have been good.

Mom: 40 minutes are good enough.

Dad: 45 minutes.

Mom: 40 minutes.

And so on…

Don’t tell mom, but I am with my dad on this one. Garbanzos from cans are convenient, but are just barely done. I mostly make my own, so they really are very soft & cooked thoroughly. Real simple. Real tasty. Try it.

At night, set your crockpot on low & put in the raw beans with lots of water (if you want exact measurements, I can’t help you). Add salt now rather than after they are cooked. Add some whole spices – bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon – whatever you have on hand. Adding spices takes their taste to a whole new level! Cover & let the crockpot do its magic. The garbanzos are ready by morning. You can fish out the whole spices or leave them in until you are ready to use the garbanzos. If you are serving some to frenemies, leave the peppercorns in.

What do you like to make with garbanzos? Here are a few my favs. Chole, garbanzo curry as described above, sans the 40-45 minute debate. We also add garbanzos to cooked quinoa for a quick salad or lunch. Have little kids? Try these as finger foods (split them in half before giving it to younger ones). There are many recipes for Garbanzo salad –onions, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, cilantro, mint, avocadoes, lemon juice, jalapenos – add any or all of these. Even without oil or cheese, it tastes awesome! I’ve also tried my hand at making hummus. Umm, no comments on that.

Give homemade garbanzos a try. You really don’t need the canned kind. Target has a crock pot for $10. Best investment ever (actually 2nd best for me, but we’ll talk about that another time)! And if you need raw garbanzo beans, you are lucky to be in Glendale. Is there a single grocery store here that doesn’t carry them? Happy cooking!

Shalini Singh, CEO of the Singh household, vegetarian, foodie, community volunteer.

Zekes BBQ Smoke House

Urban Toot Zekes Banner

I have to be honest. I went to Zekes years ago when they first opened up and I wasn’t very impressed. The food was okay but I felt like it was on par with fast food. As you can imagine I never went back. That is until now. The truth is that  I’ve been hearing good things about Zekes BBQ and I thought well, I gotta go back and give them a second chance. Let me tell you something. I’m glad that I did.

First up I have to say. How cool is it to sit outside in Janruary with shorts and a T-Shirt on and have a nice time. I think it’s great! What else is great? Well let me tell you. I had some sort of sliced pork sandwich that was put on a french roll, melted cheese with peppers on top and then of course a small bowl of dipping juice. It was so good! In fact it was better then good! It was great! However I have to tell you what was FANTASTIC… The onion rings. They were done just how I like them. The coating was a batter which was so smooth and easy to eat! So glad that I ordered them and not the french fries for a change! Way to go me!

baby back ribs from Zekes BBQ in GlendaleThe other two people in my party ordered the baby back ribs and the pulled pork sandwich. Both said that they were very good and I have to admit that I tried the baby back ribs and they were very flavorful and juicy. I fully enjoyed my meal. Had a great time with great service. I completely encourage everyone to try it out for themselves and let us know what you think!


You can find Zekes at 2209 Honolulu Ave., Montrose, CA 91020    The telephone number is 818-957-7045, I believe that you can call ahead and they’ll have take out ready for you.

According to the website their hours are:


Monday-Thursday 11-9Friday & Saturday 11-10Sunday 11:30-9Saturday & Sunday 8-11:30 Breakfast


You can find a link their menu here but it doesn’t look like the same menu I ordered from. I have a feeling that they have updated the menu but not the website. Thats okay just understand that you might not find exactly what you are looking for on them menu.

Panera Bread Review

Last week my boys and I were running errands around Glendale and found our selves needing to go to the Sprint Store on Brand around lunchtime. The trouble was that when you have two young boys you know for a fact that there is absolutely no way that you should risk sitting in a line for any extended period of time with a hungry 7 year old. It’s just plain dangerous. So I did what any good Dad would do. I picked the nearest lunch spot to our destination that had easy parking. This of course was Panera Bread on Brand Avenue.

It’s been years since I’ve been to Panera Bread and to be honest I couldn’t actually remember too much about how things are done there. I knew that it wasn’t a full service restaurant (please wait to be seated type of place), nor was it a completely fast food place either (next in line!) As it turns out it’s a little bit of both. The deal is that you wait in line at the counter, order, grab your own drink and then sit down and the staff will bring it to you.

I have to admit that my expectations were pretty low. I mean the place is attractive enough on the inside. The staffs were courteous and friendly but it felt like an American version of Ikea inside. Nice but sort of generic.

Panera Bread Frontega Chicken Sandwich

Panera Bread Frontega Chicken Sandwich

I ordered the Frontega Chicken Sandwich., (the menu describes it as Smoked & pulled white meat chicken, mozzarella, tomatoes, red onions, chopped basil & chipotle mayonnaise, grilled hot on our Focaccia.) and a cup of the Vegetarian tomato soup. (the menu describes the soup this way – Vine-ripened pear tomatoes pureed with fresh cream for a velvety smooth flavor accentuated by hints of red pepper & oregano, topped with our Asiago croutons. Served daily.)


My ever-adventurous kids ordered the children’s mac and cheese with lemonade. Now the thing that I have to tell you about my kids is that they are Mac and Cheese experts. They love Mac and Cheese. They eat it for breakfast (no really!) lunch and dinner. Wherever we go they order it and tear It up! I was curious to hear they thought of Panera Bread! The Panera Menu describes their Mac and Cheese as made with shell pasta & tangy Vermont white cheddar cheese sauce.

Before I get to the Mac and Cheese I have to tell you that the soup and sandwich tasted great! The chicken sandwich was full of flavor, had melted cheese on toasted bread. The soup was equally good (I had really low expectations about the soup but was pleasantly surprised!). Both the sandwich and the soup came out hot and very tasty!

Panera Bread Kids Mac and Cheese

Panera Bread Kids Mac and Cheese

As low as my expectations were, my kids loved the Mac and Cheese. It was served with bread and a yogurt tube. My kids said it was amongst the best Mac and Cheese that they have had and that they would definitely order it again. They rated the yogurt tube as okay but not as good as gogurt (go figure) and the only criticism was the lemonade. For being freshly prepared it tasted a bit off. Now I’m not quite sure what freshly prepared means. It sounds to me like it should mean that it’s freshly squeezed but I suspect that it’s fancy double talk for meaning something else. The lemon flavor was fine but it had a chemical taste to it that I suspect derived from using liquid sugar. Just a hunch but something about it was different.

Panera Bread Kids Mac and Cheese Empty Bowl

Panera Bread Kids Mac and Cheese Empty Bowl

On top of that Panera’s staff was very quick. It took less then two minutes after we sat down for our entire order to arrive and as I mentioned above, it came out hot. Panera also has free WiFi (I assume with purchase) and so there were quite a few student and office type people there with laptops.

My only real complaint was that halfway through our meal a young man came through the restaurant selling candy bars. He would stop at each table and ask the patron to buy a candy bar and claim that the sale would benefit a children’s camp. Now this isn’t the worst thing in the world but when he approached a employee at the restaurant I expected that they would tell him to leave and they didn’t. I just don’t think that when you go out to eat that you should have to be hassled and feel like you want to hide. Instead you want to just enjoy your meal and the people you are with.

Where do you like to go for lunch in Glendale? When was the last time you tried someplace new? Tell us about it in the comments section below!


Cole Slaw Wars!

So earlier this week my wife sent me to Ralphs Grocery Store on Verdugo to pick up some coleslaw. She had planned a great meal of shredded BBQ Chicken Sandwiches and that of course calls for some tasty Coleslaw. Well, wouldn’t you know it I got to the Deli Counter and low and behold they were all out of coleslaw! Whats a intrepid husband to do?

Make my own Coleslaw of course? So I did. Sorta .

You see I went over to the produce section and I was looking at the carrots, cabbage etc when I noticed that Dole was selling Coleslaw Mix in a bag. Yup, thats right. Coleslaw in a bag! In fact they were selling to different types. So I did want any other coleslaw hunting husband would do, i bought both! Crazy? Perhaps but thats how the Dads roll in Glendale!

Coleslaw Wars Dole Creamy Dressing

Coleslaw Wars Creamy Dressing

The first one was the more expensive. It was about $4.50 for the complete mix. It included a large bag of shredded cabbage, carrots and other coleslaw veggie stuff, and it came with a pouch of coleslaw dressing. When I took it home it was pretty easy to assemble. I just emptied the bag of cabbage and veggies into a bowl, tore open the dressing and mixed it together. It took me less then 5 minutes to have it ready and in the fridge chiling (cuz I do like my Cole Slaw chilly).

Dole Coleslaw Wars

Dole Coleslaw Wars

The second choice was cheaper. Or was it? So this second bag only had the shredded cabbage, carrots and other “raw materials.” There was only raw veggie type stuff and no pouch of dressing. However there was a recipe on the back of the bag and I decided that I was going to try to make it! So I did!!!

Coleslaw Making Prep

Coleslaw Making Prep

The truth is that I was going to include the recipe here for everyone to try but I forgot and I threw away the bag! Oops! However I can remember most of what was in it (but not the proportions).

It had:

  • Sour Cream
  • Sugar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Mustard Stuff
  • Celery Stuff
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
The thing about this less expensive bag was that while it was only $1.49 for the bag I still had to buy all the ingredients. Dollar out of the pocket was about the same but I did still have lots of ingredients left over. It’s true that in our house we always can use more sour cream and sugar the other stuff I’m not so sure about.
Okay, okay. I know get to the point. I know that the big question was… How was it! I have to say that both were pretty good. Our survey pool consisted of 5 adults and two kids. The kids tried it and weren’t really interested. So they don’t count.
While everyone was amazed that I made the Coleslaw dressing and they said that it tasted okay they thought I over did the mustard stuff and that it was a bit too spicy for their taste.
Coleslaw Wars- Coleslaw in a bowl
The more popular choice by far was the pre made dressing in a pouch! 
Coleslaw Wars- Coleslaw in a bowlWhile I have to admit that $4.5o seems a lot to me to get shredded cabbage and carrots with some dressing I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we had enough of both items left over to mix together and thats when everyone fell in love with the coleslaw. Which one is better is hard to say but it was definitly fun to try out both recipes and have a taste test!
Oh and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Dole website that deals with coleslaw praises the positive health benefit! I’ve copied it below!

Cole Slaw Nutrition Benefits

  • A Naturally Fat Free Food
  • A Naturally Cholesterol Free Food
  • A Naturally Very Low Sodium Food
  • While many factors affect heart disease, diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of this disease
  • Development of cancer depends on many factors. A diet low in total fat may reduce the risk of some cancers
  • Diets low in sodium may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, a disease associated with many factors
  • Excellent Source of Vitamin A
  • Excellent Source of Vitamin C
  • Excellent Source of Vitamin K
Where do you get your coleslaw? Whats your favorite? Got a recipe to share?

Confessions of a Pizza Snob

I’ve now lived in Glendale 25 years, and as of May it will be 30 years in California. I was born and raised in New Jersey, and if you know anything about the people of New Jersey (excluding exaggerated reality TV shows) it is that we take our food, especially pizza, very seriously. The crust should be thin and have some crispness to it. Toppings consist of any or a combination of the following: cheese, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green pepper, onion. PERIOD. The mere mention of Hawaiian pineapple pizza triggers my gag reflex. Fruit has no place on or near a respectable pizza. The addition of “gourmet” meats such as chicken or ham is not at all repulsive, but if you want chicken or ham and cheese on bread, go eat a sandwich. A fancy-schmancy 10″ circle of baked dough with toppings is called an appetizer. Real pizza should yield 6-8 respectable slices, and still leave room for a side of pasta and/or salad.

Over these past 30 years, I have been on the hunt for good California pizza, and I must confess it has been a herculean quest. Most often my disappointment lies with the crust. I’ve been told the “problem” is the water. I’m not sure if there are too many or not enough minerals in Southern California water, nonetheless, I’ve tolerated soft, doughy pizza crust, while not unpalatable, simply isn’t the pizza I long for.

Now the good news. It’s taken me almost three decades to find, but good pizza does exist in our area. I wish my #1 choice was closer, but through sheer tenacity and optimism, my #3 and #4 picks are within five minutes from home. I generally prefer to eat at the establishment because fresh out-of-the-oven pizza is always better than one that has to be reheated.

1. North End Pizzeria – Burbank

2. Vito’s – West Hollywood

3. Giuseppe’s – Montrose

4. Rocky’s – Glendale * Rocky’s Gourmet Pizza

* I am acknowledging Rocky’s, located across from Verdugo Park on Canada Blvd., for its excellent taste even though its crust is the soft variety, and it’s really close to home.



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