movember salad bucks winners!

Movember is over, and I’m pleased to announce the Movember salad bucks results!  The turnout was light this time, so I’ll be working on a plan to increase participation next year.  If you have ideas, let me know!


Coming in first, and with ten total salads and a sweet nine-salad collage, Matthew Eckstein!  In second place with three salads, Alex Feinstein.  And tied for third with two salads each are David Moss and Devorah Moses.  Scroll down to see all the pictures.  Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who participated.


Participant Salads Winnings
Matthew Eckstein 10 $60
Alex Feinstein 3 $33
David Moss* 2 $22
Devorah Moses* 2 $22
Andrew Kim 1 $1
Michael Allen 1 $1
Ruthie Fierberg 1 $1

* Because I didn’t specify what would happen in case of a tie, I decided to give both third place winners the full third place amount.


Matthew Eckstein Salad #1

Matthew Eckstein Sweet, Sweet Nine-Salad Collage

Alex Feinstein Salad #1

Alex Feinstein Salad #2

Alex Feinstein Salad #3

David Moss Salad #1: two salads, baby!

David Moss Salad #2

Devorah Moses Salad #1

Devorah Moses Salad #1

Andrew Kim Salad #1

Michael Allen Salad #1

Ruthie Fierberg Salad #1

movember salad bucks

Having successfully survived the extreme Octsober reset month, it’s time to move on to Movember.  But, I’m doing something different this year.  Instead of asking you for money, I’m going to pay YOU!  (…to eat salads…)

(Of course, if you DO wish to donate, here’s the link:

What’s this about?  My approach to Movember is about prevention, to promote men’s health by engaging in such behaviors as maintaining a healthy diet.  So to incentivize this, I will pay you $1 every time you eat a comically large salad as your meal.  And I will give an additional bonus to the top three eaters this month.  Anyone can participate!

Rules of Saladly Engagement

  1. The salad must be comically large.  (See previous comically large salad posts for examples.)
  2. The salad must completely replace lunch or dinner.
  3. The salad must not contain any of the following: meat, fish, dairy, animal-based proteins of any kind, bread/enriched white flour products, added sugar.
  4. The salad must not be dressed, except for vinegar or lemon juice.  (In other words, the health benefits of the vegetables must not be negated by slathering them in ranch dressing.)
  5. The salad must not be accompanied with or followed by obvious cheateration, e.g. drinking soft drinks or alcohol with the meal, eating dessert or foods that would not be allowed in the salad afterward, etc.

To claim your leafy reward, send a picture of the comically large salad to  The first 250 salads will receive one dollar each.  And the top three salad eaters of the month will receive an additional $50, $30, and $20 for first, second, and third prizes respectively.  I will keep a tally throughout the month based on emails received, and I will publish the results and distribute the winnings at the end of the month.

May your Movember filled with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, polyphenols, antioxidants, and more.

two salads, one bowl

One week remaining in the super healthy reset month, a.k.a. #healthyoctober, Sobetober, Octsober, and still going strong!  It hasn’t been easy!!!  In fact, the hardest part has been the sobriety, mostly because of the ubiquity of alcohol in my new locale/work environment.  So instead, I’ve been drinking a cocktail of willpower, stubbornness, and fear of failure, which has allowed me to maintain a clean sheet.  Hurray for questionable motives!

What’s that?  What have I been eating?  Well, as I mentioned in my previous post, it ain’t home cookin’.  But what the New York lifestyle lacks in homemade, it makes up for tenfold in a cornucopia of options online and delivered in seconds.  And healthy is trendy, so you better believe there are restaurants catering to whole-food, raw-food, gluten-free, local, organic, fair-trade, über-vegan, level five.  And yet, my staple has been, shock of shocks, a salad.  But not just any salad!  A custom salad conjured up by mouse click with all the fix-ins a person with a primarily plant-based diet is proud to call his own.

My new employer, Yext, provides two free meals per day (yes, we’re hiring) when ordered on Seamless, a magical service that delivers pretty much any kind of food at pretty much any hour to your doorstep.  (And if you live in New York, and you hadn’t heard of Seamless…you’re welcome.  Also, you really should get out more.)  Many restaurants allow you to “build your own salad,” where you can choose the leaves and various other toppings.  My usual is something like kale/spinach, beans, grape tomato, red onion, Portobello mushroom, avocado, and tofu, with some modifications here and there depending on what the place offers.  I always get the large salads, but they’re just not big enough.  So…I order two.  Because of the pricing structure of the “build your own salad” offerings, and because variety is the spice of life (and basically required when you eat salad every day!), I build two completely different salads.  And then, well, I think you know what happens next…

Using the old Coke can technique measuring stick for size reference.

So a bowl of salad walks into a bar…

a new city, a new bowl

Been quite a while indeed since my last post. And much has transpired: I moved to New York!! As with traveling, moving breaks the routine and destroys the environment I create for myself to make it easier to eat healthy. Add to that the fact that I was a temp-housing/hotel-hopping/couch-surfing transient for over five months, and the fact that I’m a night owl with a penchant for exploration in the city that never sleeps…well, let’s just say sticking to the routine I had in Seattle was an uphill battle.

Now armed with a permanent mailing address and a renewed energy, I have decided to figure out a new strategy that will work in New York. Much of my approach to eating healthy in Seattle was to cook and eat at home. But in New York, I’m more likely to use my oven for storing winter clothes than roasting broccoli.  So to jumpstart the process of figuring out how I’m going to make the healthy eating thing work in my new locale, I am doing a super healthy October. For me, that means this: no meat, no fish, no dairy, no animal-based proteins of any kind, no bread/enriched white flour, no sugar, no soft drinks, no alcohol.

People have been asking “why?” and “isn’t that a bit excessive?” I don’t expect that to stick — it’s just a tactic I use. For me, overcorrecting and then dialing it back is a lot more effective than trying to take small steps in the direction I want to go.

Well, so far, so good. Except for trace amounts I can’t control and one careless dip of a grape tomato into a tiny bit of pesto (I forgot it has parmesan in it!), I’m pitching a perfect game one week into the challenge. And, yes, this does mean a lot of salads. You know what they say: a new city, a new bowl.

A New City, A New Bowl

know your numbers 2013

It’s “Know Your Numbers” time again at Microsoft, and I was eager to find out how my numbers compared to last year, especially because I haven’t been quite as good as I normally am over the past six months.

  • I’ve been travelling a lot, so I end up eating things I normally wouldn’t for a variety of reasons (harder to find healthy options, want to try new foods special to that region, etc.)
  • I haven’t been as good about prepping at home, particularly because of a lot of weekend travelling
  • I haven’t been exercising as much because I hurt my foot :-/

Still, I try when possible to choose healthier options, which to me means eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole foods, and less animal-based protein and processed foods. And I’m still eating comically large salads at work.

Overall, even the changes are slight, you’ll see most of my numbers still improved even though I was far from perfect! And I think this is the important point: you don’t have to be perfect to improve your health significantly.

Cholesterol, Glucose, and Blood Pressure

Metric Nov2011 Nov2012 Nov2013 Very Good Good Bad
Total Cholesterol 185 154 146 < 200 200 – 240 > 240
LDL (Bad) 124 86 76 < 100 100 – 130 > 130
HDL (Good) 46 51 53 > 60 40 – 60 < 40
Total / HDL Ratio 4.0 3.0 2.75 < 3.5:1 < 5:1 > 5:1
Triglycerides 73 88 86 < 150 150 – 200 > 200
Blood Glucose 91 76 72 < 100 100 – 125 > 125
BP – Diastolic 76 68 74 < 80 80 – 90 > 90
BP – Systolic 116 111 125 < 120 120 – 140 > 140

Body Composition

Metric Nov2011 Nov2012 Nov2013 Too Low Good Border High
BMI* 27.5 24.3 24.5 < 18.5 18.5 – 25 25 – 30 > 30
Body Fat 18% 12% 13% < 10 10 – 20 20 – 25 > 25
Waist (in) 34 32 30 n/a < 40 n/a > 40
Weight 180 160 161 n/a n/a n/a n/a
* Body Mass Index

grain bowl recipe: sweet potato and onion and more

Been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, so here’s one of my favorites.  It’s warm, colorful, tasty, and thoroughly satisfying.



Your favorite bowl :-)
Cooked healthy grain (I used half TruRoots Sprouted Rice & Quinoa Blend and half farro)
1 Sweet potato
2 or 3 Okinawan sweet potatoes (it’s purple, adds a cool color, and has a great flavor)
1 red onion
Pickled beets
Garbanzo beans (I use canned for expediency)
1 haas avocado
1 lemon
1 bunch of cilantro
Olive oil
Salt / pepper (if you want)

Note: this is enough to make 2 or 3 grain bowls.  I usually have leftovers and mix and match them to invent new creations.



  1. Cook the grain (I just use a rice cooker).
  2. Cube the sweet potato (regular and Okinawan), slice the onion, and add a little olive oil and salt / pepper to taste.  Then bake on 350 for about 30 minutes or until the potato is fork tender and the onions have browned.
    Potatoes and Onions Post-cook
  3. Drain and rinse garbanzo beans.
  4. Cube the avocado.
  5. Cut the lemon in half.
  6. Chop the cilantro.


  1. Put grain in first.
    Grain in Bowl

  2. Top with the potatoes and onions.
    Add Potatoes and Onions

  3. Add the garbanzo beans and some pickled beets.
    Add Beans and Beets

  4. Finish with avocado, cilantro, and some lemon juice (for brightness and to prevent the avocado from oxidizing).
    Finish With Avocado, Cilantro, and Lemon Juice

  5. Enjoy!!



In our first healthy/nerdy lunch discussion group coined “Leaves for Life,” Lawrence, Craig, and I shared our histories and experiences with eating (healthy and otherwise).  To be sure, my switching to eating healthy demanded significant mind over matter thinking, and the today’s discussion reminded me the mindshift I went through that helped me overcome the hurdle of even beginning to change.  These three (related) realizations may not seem like much, but for me they were literally life-changing and drastically conflicted with my culture and upbringing.  Integrating these statements into my belief system (as opposed to just acknowledging them intellectually) were instrumental in allowing me to drastically and permanently change my eating habits.

  1. If there’s food left on the plate, and I’m not hungry anymore, it’s OK to stop eating.  This may seem obvious, and while I always knew it made sense, I never practiced it.  Culturally, and I’m sure it’s the same for many of you, it was unacceptable to leave anything on the plate.  So, I never did.  But, eating all the food on my plate never did help any hungry kids in Africa – it just made me overeat.
  2. If it’s dinner time, and I’m not hungry, it’s OK to skip that meal altogether.  This is a more extreme version of the statement above, but the thought of skipping a meal (again I think largely because of culture) was impossible for me to comprehend before.  “Well, I should eat now in case I get hungry later,” I would think to myself.  Turns out, your body (when healthy) is pretty darn good telling you when you *really* need something.  I was ignoring my body’s signals and stuffing food in my face just because it was time!  A lot of the time I wasn’t even *really* hungry; it was more like a psychological addiction I had developed to eating at a particular time, like a habit-forming drug.  And even if I was hungry, many times it was just a tinge of hunger, something that would easily pass by focusing on something else if I applied even the slightest bit of willpower.
  3. If there’s no meat in the meal, it’s still a meal, and everything will be OK!  This was probably the hardest one for me to completely believe.  No meat – no meal; that’s just how I was brought up.  I thought I would perish without meat!  “Where will I get protein!?”  (Turns out, there are many other sources of protein.)  I ate meat at pretty much every meal.  And if there was no meat in it, I considered it a snack.  The interesting thing was I didn’t have to believe that not eating meat would improve my health – it was just believing that everything would be OK, that I would not disintegrate, if I didn’t eat meat at *every* meal.  This was the key to feeling safe to try a drastic diet change where I stopped eating meat (and fish and dairy and processed grains and basically just started eating only plants) for a while.  After I did that, I felt so great by eliminating meat, fish, dairy, processed grains, high sugar foods, etc., I decided I would limit my consumption of those things as much as I could tolerate while still being sustainable for the long term.

I think that anyone who goes through as drastic a change as I did cannot sustain it on willpower alone for the long term.  The mindshift is what allows me to keep it going.  Maybe you have struggled with these same hurdles, or maybe you have others that you’ve overcome.  I’d love to hear your experiences.

the last taco

You won’t believe this story!  There’s a place by my house called Space Taco that I’ve been meaning try out for months because I heard they had a vegan taco.  I tried multiple times to go in the past, but the place was always closed by the time I got there.  Today, I finally made it with several hours to spare, but they were closed.  Not like closed for the day – they were shutting down the business for good.  After recounting my tale of tacos uneaten, an upbeat girl said, “Come inside.  I’ll fire up the grill and make you one last taco.  It’s on the house.”

After talking for a few minutes to JJ, the handyman who remodeled the place, my vegan taco was served.  It was cactus!  And it was delicious!!!  Behold, the last Space Taco ever.


thrive at microsoft!!!

It’s no secret that my favorite healthy restaurant is Thrive for their winning combination of healthy, tasty, convenient, and affordable.  I suggested to the Microsoft dining team that Thrive should be at our cafés.  Well, that’s now a reality.  I ordered my first warm grain bowl at City Center today.  And the most exciting thing to me is that they sold out!



eat to live

It’s about time I posted about Eat to Live as it was undoubtedly the proverbial straw.  I noticed a friend / colleague from work (Lawrence) eating enormous salads at lunchtime and shedding pounds.  He mentioned Eat to Live as a source of inspiration — the correlations between diet and disease discussed in the book are striking.  After you read it, you too will likely feel compelled to eat comically large salads.

Exactly 1 year ago, Lawrence posted a fantastic write-up on Eat to Live and how he implements the lifestyle on his blog.  A quote:

For me, the main takeaways of Eat to Live are basically this:

  • Good food are foods which have a high nutrient / calorie ratio
  • Eat mostly vegetables. Do not eat a lot grains (even whole grains), not a lot of oils, almost no processed food. Eat vegetables.
  • Minimize almost everything else. Almost no meat, v little dairy (milk, cheese, etc), oils, processed foods, etc.
  • Because you do not get to eat many calorie rich foods, you have to eat an enormous amount of vegetables. This is the virtuous circle. To get 30 – 60% of your calories, be prepared to eat 1lb of salad and 1lb of cooked vegetables per day
  • Because you have to eat such a large amount of vegetables, you rarely feel hungry. Stretch receptors in your stomach trigger whenever you eat a large volume of food which make you feel satiated. Because of this, you rarely feel hungry on the diet

My recommendation: read the book with a positive attitude and an open mind.

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