Saluting U.S. Presidents and their Food

American Flag blows in the wind amongst a blue sky.In honor of President’s Day on Monday, February 20, we’re sharing #FunkyFacts about U.S. presidents and their food proclivities. And if you’re looking for culinary inspiration to celebrate on Monday, read “FOOD52’s 17 Presidents’ Favorite Foods for Presidents’ Day.”


 

  • Every other Thursday at 4pm sharp, President George Washington and his wife Martha hosted a dinner for legislators. In Ron Chernow’s biography of the inaugural leader, Washington would then explain curtly [if guests were even five minutes late] that the cook was governed by the clock and not by the company. His dentures may have been the source of his persnickety remark. “By the time he was elected, Washington only had one tooth remaining and had to rely on dentures, which not only restricted his diet to soft foods, but made public speaking extremely difficult,” writes Smithsonian Magazine.
  • First Lady Michelle Obama wasn’t the first White House resident to plant a vegetable garden. The tradition goes back to 1800 where President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams cultivated a plot of land for vegetables and fruit that the first family would eat.
  • When President Theodore Roosevelt toured the American Northwest in 1902, the avid outdoorsmen noshed on foods that we see on many farm-to-table menus today. Broiled trout, lettuce salad, Roquefort cheese and roasted duck all made appearances on the menu, which you can view here.
  • According to a 1969 article in the Reading Eagle, President Richard Nixon made a regular habit of eating cottage cheese with a healthy douse of ketchup. Why? The 37th president said he ate the diet staple for health reasons but disliked the taste, hence the sweet condiment.
  • Did you know that we’ve never had a vegetarian president? The closest would be President Bill Clinton who turned vegan diet after his tenure when he was diagnosed with heart disease. But while he was in the White House, he was a notorious fast-food lover — so much so that Saturday Night Live parodied his eating habits.
  • According to Food & Wine Magazine, President George W. Bush (2001-2009) loved cheeseburger pizza for dinner, which is literally a margarita pizza topped with cheeseburger ingredients.

For more President food history, check out this CNN.com article.

Live Gourmet’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

 

A brown paper gift wrapped in a shiny red bow for the holidaysIn a blink of an eye, it seems like the holiday season is upon us. There are gifts to be bought, cookies to be made, and cocktails parties to frequent. Wondering how you’re going to get through this jam-packed month in one piece? We’ve asked fitness and wellness specialist Charlene Rodriguez and nutritionist Barbara Ruhs MS, RDN to lend their expertise on how to maintain a balanced routine amidst the busy holiday season.

A helpful nutritional note from Barbara

In the bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to skip meals while running around with last-minute gift shopping, parties and juggling day-to-day activities. Unfortunately, skipping meals inevitably leads to over-eating. As a dietitian, I refer to this as the “starve-stuff” cycle. Avoid this pitfall of the holiday season by planning ahead with a few of these ideas:

Eat a breakfast with protein, carbs and some healthy fat, such as avocado toast topped with a scrambled egg. 

Plan and pack healthy snacks if you know that you may skip a meal. Pre-portion 2 TB of nuts and a piece of fruit. 

At lunch and dinner, use the “half of your plate” healthy rule, filling it with fruits and vegetables to maintain a nutritious balance. 

Blueberries, peaches and strawberries lay on a cutting boardMake sure to stock your fridge with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables to stave off the flu and maintain a healthy immune system during the holidays. Leave fresh fruit on your countertop instead of decadent treats like cookies to serve as a visual cue to eat more!

You can find Barbara Ruhs on Twitter at @BarbRuhsRD, Facebook, Pinterest and on http://www.neighborhoodnutrition.com/

Fitness Tips from Charlene:

During the holidays your portions might be larger and higher in calories, leading you to feel sometimes lethargic. As challenging as it may be to motivate yourself to workout in the thick of festivities, exercise is key.

To maintain your healthy weight, I recommend 20 to 30 minutes of moderate exercise, like brisk walking, dancing, water aerobics or going for a leisure bike ride, three to four days per week. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, you should bump up the intensity, with jogging, hiking, spinning class or weight lifting, to 30 to 60 minutes four to five days a week.

Keep in mind: Taking 20 to 60 minutes out of your possibly 15-hour day to exercise is nothing!  Be mindful of your health; only you can take the best care of you.

For more exercise tips, check out this blog post from earlier this fall.

Last, but certainly not least, Charlene shares ways to de-stress through mindfulness meditation

Young woman meditating indoors

In addition to exercise and eating in a well-balanced way, taking time for yourself to breath and reflect during the holidays is equally as important. One way to do this is through mindfulness meditation.

Why practice mindfulness? It can help ease chronic pain, it elevates mood, helps with managing depression and anxiety, it improves sleep, to name a few.

To get started:

  • Choose a quiet place
  • Sit up or lie down, keeping back straight
  • Palms facing up, hands are open
  • Clear you mind from distractions, even if you have to start again several times
  • Focus on your breathing and your body relaxing with each breath (be mindful of your muscles relaxing but not to a state of slouching over)
  • For beginners, try meditating 1 to 10 minutes a day