Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday Out and About in Baltimore

I had intended to get a post up yesterday but I was out of the house far too long and then on the phone when I got home which means the day got completely away from me. However I wanted to share the details of my day for those that aren’t local to give you a glimpse into my city life. Here is what I was up to:

For breakfast we both had a quick green smoothie that contained our usual: frozen banana, kale, freshly ground flaxseeds, cinnamon, powdered ginger, soymilk or water and stevia for Dan.

Tuesday was a whirlwind of activity starting with two morning dental appointments for me. It started with driving downtown even though the city was bathed in a thin coating of ice. Not fun! Thankfully Dan’s office is two buildings away from the dentist which meant I rode downtown with him otherwise I would have been rescheduling my appointments.

Throughout the day I was texting a friend pictures as I went from place to place. When she responded that my pictures looked like a Meg Ryan movie I thought I should share them with everyone. I have lived in the city so long that I take it for granted. However having a friend in the middle of the country has given me a new perspective of the things around me.

I have mentioned before that we live close to Loyola University of Maryland where we belong to the gym. We also live very close to Johns Hopkins and drive by it on the way downtown. This is another one of those things that is a normal part of my day that I never give much thought to but I realize most of you have only heard of Hopkins but never see it. The campus is quite large and sprawling. Here is the north side of the campus.

Even thought there was ice everywhere the drive was uneventful and we arrived downtown early. The picture above is the building where the dentist’s office is located, on the 22nd floor.

I had an appointment with the hygienist (Regan) and another one with the dentist (Nick) to have three old amalgam fillings removed and to have an impression taken for a bite guard. Fun stuff right? I know not so much fun but everyone is nice at the dental office so it isn’t as bad as it sounds. They got all that stuff done in less than 2 hours. I was very impressed with how quickly they were everything finished. It didn’t hurt except for the needles which are always the worst part for me! I have to go back in a few weeks to get the bite guard and check the fit but otherwise my next appointment is August. Woo hoo! LOL

Here is a picture of downtown Baltimore from the dental chair. The view from the dentist’s office is nice. Too bad I seem to spend most of my time looking at the ceiling rather than out the window. ;-)

After the dental appointment I met Dan and Jason and Phiet (from the Dan’s office) for lunch in the lobby of the office builiding. I had heard quite a bit about them both and since but had never met them so that nice a nice surprise.  The buliding lobby is lovely and I though you would enjoy the pictures above.  The office is in a gracious old buliding in downtown Baltimore.

We all went to the Vietnamese restaurant (Mekong Delta) that Phiet says is very close to authentic. The picture above is the restaurant exterior which as you can see is in a typical old brick rowhouse that you see everywhere in Baltimore.

Dan and I did our usual sharing food routine; no surprise there I am sure. After much review we decided to have the spring rolls with peanut sauce. They were good but it is not easy to eat because my entire upper lip was numb from going to dentist. Fortunately I didn’t embarrass myself but it was touch and go there for a while. ;-)

For an entrée we ordered the curried tofu with veggies. This was completely different from what I expected. The curry flavor was much lighter than Indian food; the coconut milk was definitely full fat which we are not used to LOL. The most surprising thing was that the curried coconut sauce had a sweetness to it that was completely unanticipated. It was very good and I enjoyed it. I am not entirely sure what Dan thought. Then again he isn’t as adventurous and I am when it comes to food.

Here is a picture of an old house that now contains the historical society. Again it is something I have seen hundreds of times but never really looked at if you know what I mean. The doorway into the retaining wall is interesting and I never saw that before. When I looked this up when I got home I found it was the rectory for the church in the next picture.

Walking to the coffee shop we passed by Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church circa 1692. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked by this church and never really looked at it either. Somehow when I am taking pictures for someone else I see things which I would otherwise take for granted.

After lunch we headed to Caribou to get me a cup of white tea while I waited for the bus. You didn’t think I was going to drive home in the messy weather did you? Not this weather wimp I took the easy way out, LOL. ;-)

This is the view looking west from inside Caribou.

I have only taken the bus maybe 5 times in the last 20 years which made the bus ride an adventure for me. It was fine but very odd because I wasn’t used to it. Fortunately a commuter bus runs north to our neighborhood which was nice.

For those of you that are used to stand-alone Subway Sandwich shops and 7 Eleven’s I thought you would find these pictures interesting. I remember how odd I found this to be when I moved here from Indiana more than 30 years ago.

I got off the bus three stops early so that I could get more activity in since I hadn’t gone to the gym and it was already after 3pm I knew exercising was out once I got home. I don’t do well with late afternoon exercising. However, when you are always thinking of ways to add more activity into your day it tends to become second nature. By the end of the day I had walked over 5 miles so I wasn’t exactly sedentary on Tuesday.

Here are a few pictures of houses I passed on the walk home from the bus.

Next I swung by The Rotunda to run into the grocery store and eventually headed for home.

When I got home there were phone calls to return, and dinner to make. I also needed to check on my parents. Our lunch was so heavy from the full fat coconut milk (even though we only ate about 2/3’s) of it I wanted something on the light side for dinner. I decided a salad would be the way to go.

I combined cold cooked winter squash cut into cubes, thinly sliced cucumber, thinly sliced red onion, chickpeas (love those intentional leftovers), and sliced yellow bell pepper, with a dressing of grainy Dijon, red wine vinegar, stevia and wet hots. I added fresh minced parsley just be serving and put the salad over baby spinach and topped with a few chopped walnuts.

Needless to say this wasn’t enough calories for Dan so he also had strawberry banana soft serve for dessert.

As you can see it was a bit of busy day here yesterday. I always think I have more time to do things than I actually have. Yesterday I thought I would be home with plenty of time to make dinner, clean, and write a post *rolls eyes* and we can all see how well that worked out, LOL. Other than being very busy it was a good day. I am very happy to have the mercury containing amalgam out of my mouth. I have never thought that made any sense and was practically doing the happy dance to have them gone.

Making Good Choices:

I get email questions from people all the time asking me how we are able to eat such an uber healthy diet and not feel deprived. I completely understand why so many of you ask this question so I am going to try to explain it differently than I have in the past.

All my food decisions start with a mindset that may be very different from the one you have. I buy and prepare food with the idea in mind that I want it to be the most healthy choice we can consume. In other words I ask myself “what would I prepare if my goal is to optimally nourish us?” The answer to that question will be different depending on what season it is, what food is in the house or what I am in the mood for but I always keep health in mind first.

You will notice my goal is to nourish us as best I can not to satisfy a craving or to indulge. In the past we ate food because we wanted to indulge in something delicious and it normally involved sugar, fat and/or salt and the healthy things were an add-on but they weren’t the main focus. When you change your mindset to focus on health first you will find that you naturally make better choices. When eating this way was new to us I used to literally ask myself “what is the healthiest thing that appeals to me now?” Of course this assumes that you know which foods are healthier and equally important which ones to avoid. However I assume that you do know that if you are reading my blog.

This is the reason you never see me using commercial faux dairy or faux meat. It is the also the reason you don’t see me sauté food in oil, add salt or use sugar. As I have said many times vegan is only the starting point for our food. What is critical to me is that it is whole plant-based food. When you are eating whole food you naturally omit most of the food products that get people into trouble health wise.

If you are thinking you can’t possible give up sugar, fat and salt I would suggest that you read “The End of Overeating” by David Kessler MD. I found the book to be enlightening and explained my cravings (more like addictions) to sugar, fat and salt. It was initially tough to give it up but now that it is gone I don’t miss it.

Water Intake Project:

I seem to have this completely under control now. I make my tea double strength to cut down on the total volume of fluids and have two glasses of water for each mug of tea. Sounds easy right? It was much easier to up my water intake without reducing my EGCG consumption than I expected.

Happy thoughts:

Things worked out much better yesterday than they could have. Here is what I am thankful for today:

• I am very thankful that the roads weren’t as bad after the ice coating as the local news was making it sound. Why the news has to blow things out of proportion is completely beyond me. *rolls eyes*

• *happy dance* The mercury is gone from my teeth. Woo Hoo! Can you tell I am happy about it? I am not a big fan of going to the dentist in general (though I like our dentist) but I thrilled to get  rid of my old fillings.

• It was great to meet Jason and Phiet yesterday and try a new restaurant. I have not had much exposure to Vietnamese food and loved having some that we knew was authentic (per Phiet and he should know) was great. ;-)

• We both loved the salad I made last night for dinner. I am sorry that I didn’t measure anything because we both enjoyed it quite a bit. I guess that means I have to make it again. Bummer! LOL

• If you any of you are familiar with Debbie Ford you will understand why I am thankful for being exposed to her. I find her words speak to me and I am thankful to have been introduced to her work. I need to pick up a few of her books now. Can any of you recommend one of her books that I should read first?

Signing out:

I have been bouncing from task to task so far today trying to catch up from being out of the house yesterday. Fortunately I found time to make another pound of beans (red kidney this time) in the pressure cooker, I will give specifics tomorrow. I feel much better since I had time to exercise this morning. After I get a little more  cleaning finished I am going to take some time to meditate and then do a little reading later today before Dan gets home for dinner.

I hope all of you are having a happy and healthy Wednesday. Talk to you again tomorrow.


  1. I just love it when you post pictures of the town like this. Thanks for sharing. Hope you're staying warm!

  2. it WAS really strange to see that 7-11 in a brick building. glad you got the mercury out, i would not want that in me either.oh and dthe view form your dentists office??? WHAT! thats crazy! lol the tallest building we have here is...two there are so many building rules here.

  3. Heather,

    I am always somewhat hesitant to post pictures of Baltimore. Thanks for letting me know you like them. Maybe I will remember that next time I am thinking should I or shouldn't I post them.

    I am staying warm I hope you are as well.


  4. Michelle,

    I thought seeing stores like that in old buildings was odd too when I first moved here. Grocery stories in old buildings were also weird to me.

    The view from the dental chair is nice isn't it? It is too bad the weather was gray yesterday. If it is nicer when I go back to get my bite guard I will take another picture or two. ;-)

    It is crazy that old silver fillings had mercury in them isn't it? The fillings Nick removed were from the late 70's or early 80's and that is was how they make them way back then. Scary stuff!

    Thanks for letting me know you like the city pics. I will take more when I see something interesting. ;-)

    As you might have guessed by the number of pictures I took I like the lobby in Dan's office building. But then again I love old architecture.


  5. Great pics, Ali, and brrrrrrrrrrr! The Vietnamese food looks delish (and is making me hungry just thinking about it!)!

    I clicked on the Debbie Ford link--I hadn't heard of her, she seems awesome--thanks for sharing!


  6. LJ,

    Thanks, I am glad you liked the pictures. The Vietnamese food was delish. I will definitely go back for lunch when I am downtown. BTW you are right, brrr is the perfect description right now. I had on my full-length coat, thinsulate gloves and heavy boots Tuesday. ;-)

    Debbie Ford is fascinating. I think I am going to take one of her online seminars when I have time hopefully later this year. When I do I will share what I think of it.

    talk to you later,

  7. Great photos! I think Baltimore is a very romantic looking city, so no wonder the comparison to Meg Ryan movies.

    Thanks for your note about my upcoming travels. My flight isn't until late tomorrow so I shouldn't have any trouble. *Crossing fingers!*

  8. enjoyed the pics of Baltimore - have never been there but would like to as i enjoy exploring all of the cities. are you saying that after the 70s and 80s they stopped using mercury in the silver fillings? i don't have any, but i've talked to my husband about whether he should remove some of his or not.

  9. Thanks for sharing the photos around town, it is neat to see other cities. I was surprised to see that you headed to lunch after the dentist, though - glad you didn't embarrass yourself. I was also surprised that you said Dan isn't a very adventurous eater, because you typically make such diverse foods. Maybe I'm not too adventurous, either.

  10. Sarah,

    Baltimore is an interesting mix of old and new architecture. I don't usually think about that unless I am photographing it.

    I will keep my fingers crossed that you make it out of Chicago. Enjoy the process. :-)


  11. Jenny,

    My old silver fillings were all vintage 70's and 80's. I think all of the silver colored ones have mercury but you should ask a dentist to be certain. Mine were starting to deteriorate so the replacement was covered by insurance. I was very happy to have mine removed but I also read that mercury levels spike when they are removed. I can't say I blame you for having your husband's removed.

    Sorry I couldn't be more help,

  12. Jessica,

    Dan wanted to take me to the Vietnamese restaurant since he goes with the boys sometimes. He wanted to order his usual but I wanted him to break out of his rut.

    Dan is fairly adventurous with food but he likes what he likes if you know what I mean. Once he has a favorite he doesn't want to deviate. Also the sweetness in the curry really threw him off. I saw it as interesting and his take was that it was weird. Your food choices seem pretty adventurous to me.



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