IMAG0531The Veggie­-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook by Randy Clemens has been (hands ­down) my favorite cookbook of 2013 and is still going strong in 2014. I have made about half a dozen recipes from the book and plan to make many more.

One of my personal favorites has been soondubu jjigae, loosely translated as “Korean Soft Tofu Stew with Kimchi.” Soondubu Jjigae is great for warming up during the last days of winter and also contains heaping amounts of kimchi, or pickled cabbage. If you’ve been turned off by the smell, you may want to reconsider. Health magazine listed kimchi in its top five World’s Healthiest Foods earlier this year citing its high levels of vitamins A, B, and C- as well as its digestive benefits. It’s low in calories and high in fiber too! So, if you’re trying to stay healthy, you may want to give the national food of South Korea another try.

Reserve this item at Howard County Library SystemThe Veggie­-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook isn’t about kimchi however, it’s about sriracha. The Thai chili sauce has been getting a lot of press recently, mostly because of it’s delicious flavor and spicy kick, but there has been some research into its potential health benefits as well. Sriracha contains real chili peppers, well­-known to boost metabolism and serotonin levels, and garlic, a key ingredient in regulating cholesterol and blood pressure. The most familiar brand of sriracha sauce (the one with the rooster on it) is also gluten-­free and vegan. It’s even certified kosher.

So, if you haven’t tried either of these delicious foods, grab a copy of The Veggie­-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook and make yourself a bowl of soondubu jjigae. If that’s not the comfort food you’re craving, try the Sriracha and Green Onion Biscuits with Country Mushroom Gravy. It’s pretty good too!

Aryn is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch and has been with HCLS for over 3 years. She has many hobbies including, but not excluded to: exercising, vegetarian living, and eating cake. Perhaps cake is neither “well” nor “wise” but it’s certainly delicious!


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“I hate broccoli. I hate asparagus. I hate vegetables! Yuck!”veggies

A common enough refrain from kids who just don’t know any better, but there are a lot of adults out there who also haven’t discovered just how delicious vegetables can be. Not just great for your health, but for your taste buds as well. Check out some simple and tasty ways to incorporate more vegetables into your diet.

Try roasting asparagus in a hot oven until tender and then serving with a little butter and gremolata (minced lemon peel, parsley and garlic.)

Keep your veggies green by dropping them into boiling, lightly salted water and cooking for about four minutes. Rinse with cold water until they are very cool, refrigerate and then, right before serving, heat them up to finish cooking in a sauté pan with a little butter (or olive oil), salt, pepper, your favorite herbs and a few drops of lemon juice. (Lemon juice is a great way to get a nice bright flavor without adding a lot of salt.)

Get kids to eat veggies by cutting them into sticks and serving them raw with dips. They’ll be more likely to accept them as an after-school snack when they’re good and hungry, but there’s no reason not to include them this way at the dinner table.

Check out Healthy Recipes at Johns Hopkins Medicine for healthy and delicious ways to prepare vegetables.

For more information about encouraging a healthy lifestyle for your children, see this presentation called “Weighing in on Your Child’s Weight.”

Get more vegetables into your kitchen and your diet

Fill your grocery cart from the outside in.

Start shopping at the perimeter of the supermarket. Fruits, vegetables, fresh meats and poultry, and dairy items are usually located on the edges of the store, while high-carb, sugary, pre-packaged foods are in the center aisles. Fill your cart with colorful vegetables and you’ll be less tempted to buy snack foods.

Become a gardener.

If you like to garden, consider growing fruit, vegetables and herbs along with your flowers. Ornamental tomatoes and peppers and Asian eggplants not only taste great, they add beautiful color to your garden. If you have limited space, try a container garden with pretty ceramic and terra cotta pots. Get your kids involved to help them understand where their food comes from, and have them pick and prepare the vegetables at mealtime.

Be creative.

You can use vegetables in creative ways, like using pureed veggies instead of cream or flour to thicken soups or sauces. Diced carrots in tomato sauce taste sweet and help to neutralize the acidity, and the added nutrition and fiber will fill them up.

Buy and eat local.

Eating healthy can seem more expensive, but it is possible to buy local produce without paying a premium price for imported produce at the grocery store. Community supported agriculture (CSA) programs are a popular new way to buy local produce. Residents sign up to purchase a weekly “share” in a local farm and then get to share the produce, and many CSAs offer half shares for small families. The following organizations have listing for CSAs in and around Howard County:

Farmers markets are another option. There are five such markets in Howard County, including the one in Howard County General Hospital’s parking lot that operates on Friday afternoons from early May through late October. You’ll be surprised at the excellent produce, fruit, cheeses, breads, honey and other great foods that come from our local farmers, and you can get to know them and ask questions about their farms and their food. Click here for a listing of Howard County farmers markets.

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If you need help getting your family started on a healthier path, try Eat! Move! Play! Simple, direct, and manageable for any family!

I haven’t always been on the healthy path. There have been many years where I loved fast food! The convenience alone was worth the price I was paying. Then, I became a mom. Still, the convenience of fast food was a big factor. Then, I got divorced and started raising my daughter on my own. Still no change, and the convenience became an even bigger excuse. After a long day of work, a long drive home, and homework to do (yep, working full time and going to school), who wants to cook dinner at 6:30 at night?

Then, something changed. Finally. I started seeing myself and my habits through my daughter’s eyes. I saw how much she would expect me to stop at the drive-thru or to go get ice cream. It was then, that I saw my bad habits were creeping into her life. It had to stop. I became a part of Elf for Health, a group on Facebook, that gave daily challenges for four weeks. It wasn’t all health-driven, some of the challenges were to write positive things about yourself, call a loved one, etc. But it was the healthy challenges that started planting the seed within me. I began to understand that I needed to set better examples for my daughter. And frankly, I want to be around a long time for her- so, it was finally time to step it up.

Eating healthy and exercising are two great ways to lead by example. But there are other ways too, things we can do on a daily basis. I read an article by Steven C. Reuben for Johns Hopkins that hit the nail on the head. He said, “One of the most common teachable moments happens every time you drive your car with your kids inside” (p. 1). So true!! I am always careful when a driver cuts me off or rides my tail. If my daughter says something about a driver who cuts me off my response is this, “well, we don’t know what that person is going through, maybe they are just having a bad day or they aren’t feeling good.” (trying to keep it simple, she’s 4.)

A couple of weeks ago we were leaving Target and I saw a $10 bill on the ground next to my car. For that split second I thought, “Sweet! $10!” Then, I decided the universe was giving me a chance to teach her something, so I took that teachable moment. As I was writing a note she asked what I was doing. I explained to her that I thought the car next to mine dropped the money so I was writing a note and leaving it on their windshield. She asked, “Why?” I explained that we never know how bad that person needs that money, “it could be their lunch money.” She smiled and said that it was a nice thing to do. Teaching moment success!

Remember to pay attention, you never know when your children are watching you.

Monika is no stranger to the healthy-living community online. You may recognize her from Everything Mommy or Fitness Mama blogs. She has a 4 year old daughter, Ava, and works and goes to school full-time in Las Vegas.


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Are you in the mood for some more culinary travel? Last month I highlighted several wonderful cookbooks from the Mediterranean, Spain, Italy, France, Indonesia, and Ireland. I felt like I was mining in a vein rich in gold! There were so many great cookbooks from around the world in our Glenwood Branch that we mounted a display. The books have been flying off the shelves! I hope this means you will indulge me in a little more “eating around the world.”

We ended up in Ireland last month. Let’s start in The Scottish Kitchen (2004), by Christopher Trotter. I have a soft place in my heart for Scottish food even though I never got to know my Scottish grandmother’s cooking. Chef, and restaurateur, Trotter does a great job of bringing Scottish regional specialties to life as he profiles the traditions of “the eight culinary regions” of Scotland. Yes, you will learn how to make haggis, but you will also see some foreign influence in dishes like osso bucco Florentine.

Janna Gur’s The Book of New Israeli Food (2007) begins with “What’s cooking in the melting pot?”–a promising start! I asked a friend, fresh-returned from a visit to Israel, to comment on this one. She testifies that the Israeli breakfast, a holdover from kibbutz days, really does include “everything”–salads, fruits, fish, and all manner of eggs and cheese. The hummus recipes will produce the fluffy, smooth mainstay that she encountered on her visit. A new recipe for my friend was shakshuka, a pan of tomato sauce, usually fresh-made and well seasoned, with eggs cooked on top. You will need fresh bread to soak up the savory juices and a salad to round out the meal. As with the best cookbooks we get a taste of the culture as well as the food with excellent photographs of the people, the food and the farms and restaurants of Israel.

Japanese Farm Food (2012), by Nancy Singleton Hachisu, is a charming visit inside a real Japanese organic farm. A California girl, Nancy first came to understand real seasons while in Japan. When you live on a farm “you don’t choose the vegetables, they choose you.” You plan meals around what is ripe, not around recipes. She says “Walking among the rows [of vegetables] I would stroke them and feel their energy. Touching vegetables while they are living is something every cook should do. You have to accept them, not force your will on them.” I loved reading about the foods unfamiliar to me from someone so obviously in love with the foods and the lifestyle she has adopted. Great food writing aside, I also love the photography and layout. Nancy’s comments on a recipe are in red type while her occasional essays on foods are in white type on red pages—very striking. Read this as a recipe book or as a narrative on life as a “foreign bride” in Japan.

In contrast, Burma: Rivers of Flavor (2012) is written by Naomi DuGuid, a“photographer, writer, world traveler,” more in the style of a travelogue. We experience Burma a little more as outsiders, but it’s wonderful all the same. She describes a “market by candlelight”; vendors set up their wares lit by one or two candles and at dawn, snuff out the candles and move their displays off the streets to set up all over again in an open area. Duguid has spent over 20 years “exploring food as an aspect of culture” and has “co-authored six cookbooks that focus on home cooking—in the Indian Subcontinent, in the outlying areas of China and in the Mekong region.” She hopes the stories, recipes, and photographs will give readers an urge to go and meet the people of Burma for themselves.

And I hope that you will experiment with some of these healthful recipes from all over the world. Be an adventurous cook!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch. Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.


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Your diet is an important tool in maintaining good health as well as a necessary element in promoting peak performance. Proper nutrition and hydration for runners can make or break a workout or race. The food you eat greatly affects how you feel, work, and think. A balanced diet for healthy runners should include these essentials: carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Be sure you communicate your health goals and consult your primary care physician or a licensed nutritionist or dietitian when making changes to your diet.

Here are some basic guidelines for a nutritious, healthy balance:

Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for athletes. They provide quick and long-lasting energy. Our bodies work more efficiently with carbs than they do with proteins or fats. Whole grain pasta, steamed or boiled rice, potatoes, fruits, starchy vegetables, and whole grain breads are good carb sources.

Protein is used for some energy and to repair tissue damaged during training. Protein keeps you feeling full longer. Try to concentrate on protein sources that are low in fat and cholesterol such as lean meats, fish, dairy products (lower fat), poultry, whole grains, and beans.

A high fat diet can quickly pack on the pounds, so try to make sure that you stick to foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Foods such as nuts, oils, and cold-water fish provide essential fats called omega-3s, which are vital for good health.

Runners don’t get energy from vitamins, but they are still an important part of their diet. Getting vitamins from whole foods is preferable to supplementation.


  • Calcium: A calcium-rich diet is essential for runners to prevent osteoporosis and stress fractures. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, calcium-fortified juices, dark leafy vegetables, beans, and eggs.
  • Iron: You need this nutrient to deliver oxygen to your cells. If you have an iron-poor diet, you’ll feel weak and fatigued, especially when you run. Good natural sources of iron include lean meats, leafy green vegetables, nuts, shrimp, and scallops.
  • Sodium and other electrolytes: Small amounts of sodium and other electrolytes are lost through sweat during exercise. Usually, electrolytes are replaced if you follow a balanced diet. But if you find yourself craving salty foods, it may be your body’s way of telling you to get more sodium. Try drinking a sports drink or eating some pretzels after exercise.

Here are some excellent resources which provide a comprehensive guidelines to nutrition for athletes:








Happy trails until we meet again!

Anna Louise Downing is a Customer Service Specialist at the Miller Branch. She is an avid reading and enjoys Disney, music and her passion of running. She has been a race ambassador for several local races, is a Sweat Pink Ambassador for promoting women’s health. Follow her journey towards being physically fit with running and healthy lifestyle here on Well & Wise.


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Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

It’s been a long cold lonely winter… or something like that. I know that February always bring those thoughts…  but this year, even the snow lovers are weary of it all. The snow shovels don’t get put away anymore, they stand propped up against the house in an attitude of resignation.

Perhaps you brace yourself to withstand the final icy grasp of winter by looking through seed catalogs and planning gardens, by reading about new varieties of tomatoes and new methods of germinating seeds. Perhaps you even have a cold frame and will jump the season and nurture seedlings into edible lettuce plants early. Or, perhaps you’ll wait a little longer to start seedlings indoors or wait for the traditional days to plant outdoors. Did you know that planting potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day is a gardening tradition?

But what if you have never had a garden? Or don’t have a yard large enough for a garden plot? Or live in the shade? Can a novice start a growing tradition? Should they? Absolutely! There are resources for every gardening obstacle and plenty of help for the greenest of green thumb wannabes.

Is your yard too small?  Too shady? Too rocky? Try a community garden. If you live in Howard County, check out Howard County community gardens and the garden at the Howard County Conservancy. Other jurisdictions offer the programs, as well. In addition to a right-sized plot, many of these gardens include deer fencing, compost heaps, water and even plantings to encourage pollinators. Equally important- they offer expert advice from fellow gardeners- just what the novice needs!

Do you need information about how to get started? Information about types of plants? Resources about pest management? Questions about fertilizers? The Howard County Library System has an extensive selection of books that can answer all of your questions about gardening. And, of course, there is always the Old Farmer’s Almanac – published continuously since 1792- it is wealth of information. If you learn better from attending classes in person, the University of Maryland Extension service offers a series of gardening classes in Howard County that will get you off on the right track.

Finally, do you need to have a reason to give gardening a go this year?  Here are a few good reasons.

  • It’s good for the bottom line. Gardening can save you money. A $2 tomato plant can produce $60 worth of tomatoes during a single growing season. The drought in California will cause produce prices to rise, buying locally- and better yet, growing locally will save you money.
  • It’s good for the bottom line- the other bottom line. Growing your own vegetables is great exercise. Eating fresh veggies may keep you fit, but the physical exercise that it requires also contributes positively to your fitness level. Think of what all that weeding and hoeing will do for your glutes!
  • Fresh vegetables are nutritious and tasty because they have the chance to ripen on the vine. If you’ve never had the opportunity to go out just before dinner and pluck a red ripe tomato off the vine to add to your salad- you don’t know what you are missing. No supermarket tomato will ever compare.
  • It’s good for the environment. Locally sourcing your own vegetables reduces- the carbon resources need to transport veggies from far away.
  • Staying connected to the earth is good for your mental health and the extra sunshine vitamin D will give your mood- and immune system- a boost, as well.

Perhaps most importantly, though…  planning a garden gives you something to look forward to in the lingering days of February.  And if that isn’t encouragement enough, I leave you with a little music to get you going.

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