Okay, so last month, I confessed my juice reboot failure, but it wasn’t for pity or even to vent my frustration (well, maybe a little venting). It was to share how I’ve learned from my mistakes and turned those lemons into lemonade (or a healthful lemon juice blend).

First off, let me say how much easier it is to incorporate juices into your diet when the weather is warmer–it’s often refreshing to grab a juice or smoothie instead of a big meal on these warmer days. Secondly, when the hubby and I were going for the full, 3-day reboot, we were a little overwhelmed (and hungry). We are currently trying to incorporate just one juice or smoothie into our day. We may try a reboot again just for the “clean slate” effect, but one a day seems much more do-able for us. I should note that though we may choose a juice or smoothie for breakfast or lunch, we are not doing this as part of some fad weight-loss/meal replacement plan. We simply want to incorporate more fruits and veggies into our diet, and a juice or smoothie makes that easier to do.

Speaking of easy, here’s the biggest win we’ve taken from our juice fail: keep it simple. For the juice reboot, we purchased a nice juicer, since we figured the soluble fiber from the juice might be a little easier on my sad digestive tract than the insoluble fiber you get from smoothies made in blenders (and we didn’t want to have to purchase a crazy-expensive Cadillac of a blender). We are still using the juicer, especially for harder fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, and pears. But making juicing and smoothies more part of our natural routine has meant looking for quicker and easier ways to do it. We were pleased to discover that our very ordinary blender could handle the job (within reason).

We also took advice from our friend Cristina, who has some family trying out juicing and smoothies. She said that they started with other people’s recipes, but eventually started changing them up a bit and trying things that worked better for them. For example, when the hubby and I started making smoothies instead of just juicing, we used the very popular 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse as a blueprint. We were a little bummed that some recipes called for sugar substitutes, since we don’t really like things overly sweet and were more interested in just adding some healthier foods to our diet instead of just losing weight. We started tweaking the recipes a bit and came up with a very basic formula for the world’s laziest smoothie, as demonstrated in the video below.

Finally, as I mentioned last month, the original juice reboot called for us to go vegan a few days leading up to the juicing and a few days after. We were going to use it as a jumping off point for the VB6 diet, and did to a certain point. Now that we are having juice or smoothies once a day, we find it is a lot easier to stick to only vegan (or at least vegetarian) fare before 6 p.m. most days. Do we falter some days? Absolutely. But our new simplified and laid-back approach to juicing and smoothies takes a lot of the pressure off and helps us to keep the momentum needed to maintain the healthier eating habits we are trying to acquire.

  • It's amazing how good a well-seasoned avocado can taste!
  • Salad and vegetable broth--sigh--very vegan and satisfying, if not altogether mouth-watering.
  • Steamed broccoli, brown rice, and tofu, made delicious with a little help from their good friends Sriracha and soy sauce.
  • Avocado also makes a great vegan topping for a whole-grain bagel.
  • The little blender that could!
  • Hey, does my blueberry smoothie resemble planet Earth? Maybe just a little?
  • Yummy vegan chili (with a dollop of cheating sour cream).
  • Vegan tacos? Yep, and tasty.


Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2015_blogMonday, July 13, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Monday, July 13, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us to use artistic expression to improve your mood. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950.

Tuesday, July 14, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Tuesday, July 14, 2:00 p.m. Carver Science at Savage Branch. Join us in exploring the life and accomplishments of George Washington Carver, a celebrated botanist, agronomist, chemist, biochemical engineer, and inventor. Re-explore and test his experiments. Register for all five sessions. Registration required. Ages 11-18. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Individualized Diabetes Management. Meet with a Howard County General Hospital certified diabetes dietitian and nurse to learn how to manage diabetes. Call 443-718-3000.

Wednesday, July 15, 10:00 a.m. Infectious Disease Academy at Savage Branch. Learn about infectious diseases, how they are spread, and how disease detectives work to find and stop their spread using medical technology and nanotechnology. Participate in mock disease outbreaks around the globe to learn to identify and handle some of the most dangerous diseases, select the right medical or nanotechnology methods, and develop a communication pack to let others know. Register for all ten sessions. Registration required. Ages 11-18. Register online or by calling 410-313-0760.

Wednesday, Aug. 5. $40. Dietary Counseling appointments Meet with a registererd dietician one-on-one. Discuss goals, concerns, weight loss, healthier bones, blood pressure, cholesteral and diet. Held in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

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Ever heard of no ‘poo? It’s really not what you think.

No ‘poo advocates ditching store-bought shampoo and conditioner for ethical, environmental, economic, and health reasons and replacing it with baking soda and apple cider vinegar.

I had severe dandruff that none of the store-bought shampoos cured.  Head and Shoulders made the dandruff and the itching worse. Neutrogena’s T/Gel worked a while, then it stopped working and the itchiness came back. Selsun Blue helps with the itching but the scent is completely intolerable to me. I couldn’t even watch those dandruff shampoo commercials on TV where the person can’t wear black because of embarrassing dandruff. Desperation led me to no ‘poo two years ago and I lasted a whole three months.  In short, after going no ‘poo, I found that my hair was cleaner for a longer period of time and that my dandruff problem was cured (for the duration that I went no ‘poo).

So why should you try no ‘poo? No more harmful chemicals polluting our waterways. Looked at the ingredient list of shampoos and conditioners recently? I don’t know about you, but I certainly do not know what most of the ingredients are, let alone how to pronounce them. Take, for example, the ingredients in Pert Plus shampoo:   Water, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Glycol Distearate, Cocamide MEA, Dimethicone, Cetyl Alcohol, Fragrance, Sodium Citrate, Polymethacrylamidopropyltrimonium Chloride, Sodium Benzoate, PEG-14M, Dihydrogenated Tallowamidoethyl Hydroxyethylmonium Methosulfate, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Chloride, Citric Acid, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Ammonium Xylenesulfonate, D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Blue No. 1. I probably should have paid better attention in chem class.

Going no ‘poo is also very animal friendly. I highly doubt baking soda and apple cider vinegar mix needs to be tested on animals. Companies that do not conduct animal testing proudly advertise that they do not conduct animal testing. For a list of companies that might conduct testing on animals, click on this PETA link. PETA has separate listings of cosmetics companies that do and do not conduct animal testing.

Another reason to try no ‘poo? Economic reasons. It is vastly cheaper to buy baking soda and apple cider vinegar than it is to purchase shampoo and conditioner, even if it’s a two-in-one shampoo. After the initial shock of switching to no ‘poo, your scalp will begin to secrete less oil, and as a result, you’ll wash your hair less frequently.  Fewer washings means that you’ll stretch your baking soda and apple cider vinegar supply much longer.

Initially, there may be no difference after switching. It took two weeks for me to notice that my hair was less oily, less itchy, and less flaky. My main problem with no ‘poo, however, was the inconvenience of it. There are no shampoo and conditioner-filled plastic bottles ready to go. With no ‘poo, you need to prepare your own baking soda and apple cider vinegar concoctions. It’s not complicated, but it is very inconvenient.

Here’s the recipe: For “shampoo,” mix together 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 cup of warm water. For “conditioner,” mix together 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of warm water. Warm water is very important because the one time I used regular room temperature water, it felt very cold once I dumped it onto my head.

Now for the inconvenient part. I keep my baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and measuring spoons/cups in the kitchen. I make the mix in the kitchen before I head to the shower and put it into two separate soda bottles. I use soda bottles because I have a lot of them (soda is my vice), and the smaller neck allows me greater control on how much I pour onto my head at once. I also mark with a permanent marker on the bottle itself how much water goes into the bottle so I need not constantly bring out the measuring cup. Finally, I keep handy a newspaper so I can funnel the baking soda directly into the soda bottle.

One more piece of advice: keep your mouth closed so the baking soda or apple cider vinegar mixtures don’t accidentally stream into your mouth. It’s all natural so it won’t kill you, but it might dampen your enthusiasm for going no ‘poo. The baking soda and apple cider vinegar mixes are not nearly as viscous as regular shampoo and conditioner, and hence, they do dribble all over your head no matter how careful you are.

Finally, does it work, you ask? I had my doubts about this, but I tried it anyway, reasoning I didn’t really have anything to lose and that I’ll be wiser for the experience.  The apple cider vinegar especially worried me as well as I did not want to smell vinegary. I even took precautions for my first attempt to make sure I didn’t have to interact with anyone immediately following my first no ‘poo experience. But to my surprise, my hair did not have even a whiff of vinegar tainting it (with a thorough rinsing of the hair, of course) and my hair was very soft after my first no ‘poo experience. Now, I still do no ‘poo once a week to keep my dandruff in check and use small amounts of shampoo and condition during the week because I cannot resist the sweet smell of shampoo.

Mio Higashimoto is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She has a background in history and spends much of her spare time knitting, reading, hiking, and watching Star Trek reruns.

(Special repost from November 2012)


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ride to conquer cancer event

John Dunn, administrative director for Diagnostic Imaging at Howard County General Hospital, is riding to conquer cancer this fall in memory of his father. He’s pictured here with his dad in front of the St. Louis Arch in 1976 and more recently in 2012 at Ocean City, NJ where the two biked together on vacation.

Father’s Memory Inspires Hospital Leader to Take Epic Challenge

What makes a person willing to ride 150 miles in just two days throughout Maryland? Knowing that you’re doing it for a good cause, a precious memory of a loved one. I’m riding in this September’s Ride to Conquer Cancer in memory of my father, also John, who lost his life to cancer a few years ago. By doing so, maybe I’ll be helping rid our world of the disease, so cancer can no longer rob us of precious moments with our loved ones.

Some of my favorite memories of my dad involve bicycling. I vividly remember one ride in the late 1970s through the Missouri countryside, near the house where I grew up. We started at dawn on a humid summer morning, and rode all day on the gravel roads in the Boone County countryside, through cow pastures and cornfields. I also have fond memories of bicycling up and down the boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey, and roaming the island on bikes while on vacation.

My father grew up just outside of Philadelphia. He loved sports of all kinds. He played high school basketball and ran track. He was also president of his senior class. After graduating from Penn State in 1959, he served in the Army in Fort Lee, VA. Following his discharge, he worked in retail and switched careers in the 1960s and completed a Ph.D. in agriculture at Rutgers University. He then joined the faculty at the University of Missouri and initiated the turf grass research program for the College of Agriculture. He remained involved in sports–he was a longtime member of the Columbia (Missouri) Track Club and coached youth soccer.

In October 2011, a few years after he retired, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was shocking news to us all, especially since he had never smoked. He weathered the next year with courage and dignity, never complaining. He passed away on Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 at home with me, my sister and my mother by his side.

During his last year, my dad talked to me about how dying is part of the circle of life. He said, “Don’t fear dying. I have a feeling there are surprises waiting for us that are beyond our imagination.”  I don’t think he necessarily meant that in a conventional religious way. I do think he meant that life, and the universe, is more wondrous than we can grasp during our time on Earth. When I’m biking, I think about his words.

It’s been fun training for the Ride to Conquer Cancer in September. I’ve been riding on the Capital Crescent Trail, which starts near my house in Silver Spring and skirts the western border of Washington D.C., ending in Georgetown. From there, it’s a straight shot back up through Rock Creek Park to Silver Spring. It’s about 22 miles and is wonderfully scenic. As I ride, I think of how much my dad would have enjoyed the views of the Potomac River and the D.C. landmarks. Riding is a chance to reflect on some of the good times I spent with Dad.

My dad had a great sense of humor – I think I miss him most when something funny happens. He dearly loved his five grandchildren, and I wish they could have had more years with him. I wish I could have had more years with him. I’m doing my part to help conquer cancer by riding in this upcoming event and I would greatly appreciate your support.


The 2015 Ride to Conquer Cancer is a two-day, 150-mile ride benefiting the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and Howard County General Hospital. The hospital team, led by Steve Snelgrove and Ryan Brown, includes physicians and staff who are taking this challenge to support cancer patients everywhere. Support John here. Our goal is ambitious and we can’t do it without the support of our community members.


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Do No Harmdo no harm is a gift of a book bestowed upon us by Henry Marsh, an accomplished British neurosurgeon. These linked stories eloquently describe life as the person who holds others’ lives in his hands. With 35 years in practice, Mr. Marsh has insight into all aspects of providing medical care. (In the UK, surgeons are referred to as “Mr., ” so please allow me to refer to this renowned physician as Mr. Marsh.) He shares his accomplishments, fears, and failures. He boasts, gripes, mourns and vents.Mr. Marsh takes us inside the skull, behind the orbits, into the brain. We join him on a fascinating anatomic journey as he incises through to the meninges, the spine, and the pituitary gland. We are riveted by the urgency of his patients’ conditions such as brain tumors, aneurysms and trauma. We are pulled along hoping that all of his patients do well, but he leaves us with no illusions.  These are stories of life and death and the mistakes even the most experienced surgeons make.

Not only patient outcomes lie at the heart of Do No Harm. Mr. Marsh also describes the challenges he has faced as son, father, husband, medical colleague and customer of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). There is much dark humor in the aggravation he describes dealing with NHS management and computerized health records. Will there be beds for his patients? Will he be able to coax the NHS computer system to show him the patients’ brain scans? He admits to an arrogance that has mellowed over time, but we see that he continues to be an opinionated force wherever he goes. One of my favorite chapters is “Infarct,” where he confronts how medical care and bureaucracy impossibly conflict.

In Mr. Marsh’s beautiful descriptions of his days, as he cycles to work, evaluates patients, instructs new surgeons, and waits to enter the “operating theatre,” we appreciate his dedication. His powerful introspection illuminates how medicine is a “craft.” Enmeshed in the combination of art and science exists a huge human element with alternately confident and nervous providers striving to develop their skills to provide the best treatment for their patients. As in a lecture he has delivered internationally, “All My Worst Mistakes,” Mr. Marsh is willing to share his experiences so that others can grow from what he still hopes to learn.

Mr. Marsh never loses perspective on his fallibility as a surgeon no matter the fame he has achieved. As an example, he has worked extensively in Ukraine providing care to its medically underserved population. Documentaries have been made about him and his service. Still, he writes “of surgical ambition and of my failure” and reminds us that diagnosis and treatment plans are filled with “uncertainty” and that “patients become objects of fear as well as of sympathy.” As a reader, I am grateful for his honesty and generosity as a neurosurgeon and author.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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Saturday, July 04, 2015: Howard County Library System Will Be CLOSED in Observance of Independence Day. 

Monday, July 06, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Little Ninjas at Miller Branch. Sykesville Tae Kwon Do Academy students demonstrate skills to aid in focus, balance, coordination, memory, control, discipline, confidence, and fitness through the art of Tae Kwon Do. Wear athletic shoes and loose fitting pants or shorts. Well & Wise event. Ages 5-7 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form required. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950. 10:30 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download | 11: 15 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download

Monday, July 06, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Well & Wise event.

Wednesday, July 8, 7 to 9 p.m. Free. Prenatal Class for Your Early Pregnancy is for parents-to-be and parents in the first trimester. Learn about the early stages of pregnancy including your body’s physical changes, your baby’s growth and easy ways to promote a healthier pregnancy in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Wednesday, July 08, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Little Ninjas at Miller Branch. Sykesville Tae Kwon Do Academy students demonstrate skills to aid in focus, balance, coordination, memory, control, discipline, confidence, and fitness through the art of Tae Kwon Do. Wear athletic shoes and loose fitting pants or shorts. Well & Wise event. Ages 5-7 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form required. Register online or by calling 410-313-1950. 10:30 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download | 11:15 a.m. Registration & Release Form Download

Thursday, July 9 or Tuesday, July 21, 5:30-9 p.m. $55. Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED will teach you the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform CPR and how to use an AED. At the successful completion of this course, you will earn a two-year American Heart Association completion card. Located in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center.

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diabetes meals by the plate useThe overwhelming majority of type II diabetes is preventable. If we pay attention to our nutrition and exercise we can control our path toward or away from type II diabetes. If your family has a history of diabetes, obesity, or other endocrine disorders, you may be more likely to develop diabetes. Once thought to be genetic, science has revealed it’s our environment (and family’s lifestyle behaviors) that can lead to type II diabetes. What’s more, type II diabetes can be reversed nearly 9 times out of 10 with proper nutritional guidance and an adequate exercise program. While many walk the line of pre-diabetes, the likelihood of getting full-blown diabetes increases significantly if you do nothing to change your ways. I argue that many of us, particularly those who are overweight or obese, are at risk of developing diabetes. Dr. Mark Hyman has explained time and again that when it comes to your body, its sugar levels, and its inflammatory responses, you’re either diabetic or you’re not- much like you’re either pregnant or you’re not. If your blood sugars are out of the normal range, even by just a little, on a regular basis, you’ve crossed the line. Pre-diabetic seems to be a gentle way of saying, “you’re a diabetic, but we don’t have to give you medication- yet.” Thankfully, you have the power to change it; with the help of your doctor, and perhaps, an awesome endocrinologist, you can turn that diabetes train around and live a long, healthy life.

Diabetic Living and Better Homes and Gardens published Diabetes: Meals by the Plate in 2014. I find that this is a simple cookbook with a no-nonsense approach to balancing your nutirion, particularly if you’re struggling with managing your diabetic diet. The book is based on the template of 1/2 a plate of nonstarchy veggies, 1/4 plate of protein, 1/4 plate of starch or grain, and dairy or fruit on the side at each meal. Simple. Direct. Manageable.

My favorite recipes:
The Trattoria-Style Chicken encrusted with parmesan is particularly easy recipe to follow. It’s paired with a lovely spinach salad and spaghetti. See? You can have some carbs. Just not ALL THE CARBS.  (p. 16)
The Indian-Style Beef & Rice recipe is definitely a comfort food type of meal. The peach-grape salsa that accompanies the Indian-spiced beef brings just enough citrus to the flavor party. Even better? The Basmati rice with mint and lemon peel to boot. The skillet-roasted cauliflower and squash that’ll fill 1/2 your plate will fill you up and satisfy for sure. (p. 72)
And for the vegetarian option, I’m a fan of the broccoli cheese tortellini soup. How can something so decadent be less than 400 a serving? Anyhow, you get to whip out your Dutch oven for this recipe and the kohlrabi chopped salad is pretty inspired. (Considering I only ever eat kohlrabi in stews.) (p. 202)

I hope you’ll find the time to take care of diabetic diet, your blood sugars, and yourself. Enjoy and delight in a delightful cookbook that everyone can enjoy!

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch & STEM Education Center. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.

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