grad school week 3, and a public service announcement

Week 3 of grad school began with Labor Day weekend. Naturally, that meant attending a cookout with my new classmates.

At an event earlier in the week, my friend brought her husband which means the significant-others barrier had been broken so I brought Steve.

Not only is he better at small talk than I am, thus making social occasions much more pleasant, he made this decadent dish right here:


He used homemade bread to make French toast (with local eggs and whole milk) and then topped the slices with tomatoes, green onion, and lots of cheddar. SO good.

My contribution paled in comparison, just desserty things (I made gluten-free stuff and then none of the gluten-free people were there!)


The meal also involved a watermelon-gin drink (in the pitcher), carrot muffins, tomato-basil-mozz skewers…


And lots more unpictured stuff- deviled eggs, guac, the BEST tandoori chicken I’ve ever tasted, made by our classmate whose family is from Goa.

Later that night Steve and I got dinner in Durham, eating outside.


Mount Fuji had a ridiculous selection of rolls, which are BOGO.


We started with a shared seaweed salad (totally faked for the picture; I am not left handed).


And then we split four rolls- shockingly, I, the nutrition student, was not the one who ordered the deep fried one on the left 🙂


Mount Fuii is so reliably yummy.


On Labor Day itself Steve and I got brunch at Elmo’s. It was hot, but the powerful fans made the patio a comfortable place to eat, and it’s great for views and people watching.


Steve got one of his favorites, which he’s dubbed “The Hypocrite”: a veggie burger with bacon and cheese 🙂 Plus REAL good creamy, smoky and subtly spicy macaroni and cheese.


I got a yummy dish they’ve been having as a special for awhile (my sister got it when she was here), the “Cowboy Eggs”. It’s cornbread topped with veggie chili, scrambled eggs, green onion, sour cream, and LOTS of cheese. Plus baked cinnamon apples as my side.


Once the relaxing long weekend was over, I dove back into school. Lots more fascinating chat about pregnancy in my Nutrition Through the Lifespan class. Which brings me to my nutrition/public health service announcement.

LADIES. I am LOOKING AT YOU. Are you in your reproductive years? Then TAKE FOLIC ACID RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Let’s talk about it.

You need adequate dietary folate equivalents (either dietary folate, the best source of which is leafy green vegetables, or synthetic folic acid, which is now in all fortified grain products as well as any women’s or children’s multivitamin) to prevent neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are BAD NEWS. Two you may have heard of are spina bifida and anencephaly (which is awful awful awful)

Now, you may say to yourself, “I’m not pregnant or trying! I don’t have to worry about this yet!” WRONG. The critical period to prevent neural tube defects is before the 9th week of pregnancy. Since 50% (HALF! HALF!) of pregnancies in the US are unplanned, and most women wait til a missed period (or two) until confirming that they are pregnant, they mostly miss that critical period during which they should be focusing on getting enough folic acid. That means, ladies, that you need enough of the good stuff in your system before your babies are twinkles in your eyes, so that when your little teeny bambinos are just multiplying bundles of cells, you can count on the fact that they’re getting that folic acid even if you don’t even know they’re there yet.

Now, what if you said to yourself, “I eat a healthy diet, so I must be getting enough”? Well, that’s where I was before I started taking this class). However, the nutrient is much more easily absorbed as synthetic folic acid than it is as folate.

Definitely eat your leafy green vegetables (a great source of natural folate and a bunch of other things that are good for you).

Also, appreciate a recent public health success: folic acid fortification became mandatory in the US food supply in 1998, for the exact reason that we need our women in their childbearing years to maintain good nutritional status in preparation for pregnancy. That is credited for a huge drop in neural tube defects.

But, don’t count on diet alone to get you enough folic acid- dietary folate (veggies) and dietary folic acid (enriched grains) may only get you part of the way there.

What I’m opting to do is taking a children’s multivitamin. One because apparently I am only motivated to take vitamins when it means eating delicious gummies (because I am four years old, apparently). Two because almost all children’s multivitamins have 400 mcg folic acid (the recommended amount to prevent neural tube defects- though note that any mamas who’ve already had a child with a neural tube defect need to supplement with a LOT more than that- like, milligrams, not micrograms!)

A prenatal vitamin will also get you there (and my sister swears by then and I hear they give you great skin and hair).

Just ladies, whatever you do, just promise me you’ll do something, okay? Even if (like me) you aren’t planning on getting pregnant anytime soon, maybe someday that will change. Knowing you have those stores built up and are putting your little nugget on a good path is pretty great for peace of mind.

End of rant!

Speaking of peace of mind, there was randomly a super classy (healthy) reception for students at the school of public health.

 IMG_0682 IMG_0683

Some (all?) of it was catered by Vimalas (delicious, community-oriented restaurant nearby) and there was an amazing selection of local, seasonal fruits and veggies and generally great for you stuff.

This was my plate!


Particularly delicious were the grapes (muscadine and scuppernong; they smell super amazing and boozy), the oh so juicy and sweet yellow watermelon, and the (slightly buried under the cheese) homemade chickpea flour and herb crackers. So yummy! I smuggled out a plate for Steve, too, since he was nice enough to pick me up from class.

Now, I woke up the following day with a gross, gross stomach bug. I’m going to muse further on stress and illness (since I finish this post coming off a weekly cold I was scared would turn into bronchitis), but for now I’ll just give ginger a shoutout, and thank it for helping nurse my gut back to health.

Weaver Street Market, thanks for making me this awesome lemon ginger muffin and stocking this awesome light ginger beer.


Hard to fault this ingredient list.


Also, thank you friends, who aid my recuperation- and, absurdly, pay me- by asking me to puppy sit.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s