Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The End of Dieting, My Ass: A Review of The End of Dieting by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Want these? Well, unless they contain black beans and chia seeds, you're not getting them!
Even though The Toad tries to be a savvy exerciser and informed healthy citizen, she occasionally indulges in a little self help. Seeing the title The End of Dieting, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and feeling a bit bloated, she thought it might be worth a read. Perhaps it would have new information, some helpful, reasonable eating tips, or a consumption philosophy that would allow for copious amounts of healthy chocolate on a regular basis. An amphibian can dream.

Well, a fool is soon parted with her $12.99. I discovered that The End of Dieting is not, in fact, the end of dieting, it's simply the beginning of an insanely restrictive diet that's supposed to last the rest of your miserable life.

Dr. Fuhrman's diet plan isn't just an actual diet, it's an actual diet based on some fairly extreme vegan concepts. Fuhrman is against dairy, meat, almost all fats and oils of any kind, sugar, wheat, most grains, and anything else you might be tempted to stick in your hungry, gaping maw. What does that leave you with? Well, a whole bunch of salads and some cooked veggies, some tofu, some tempeh, and a stockpot full of tears. I've rarely seen a diet as restrictive as Fuhrman's, and I'm just guessing that it's designed for people who are at death's door in terms of their nutritive health; who need someone as sure and bossy as Fuhrman to tell them just what they can eat so they won't drop dead.

Fuhrman has lots of science to back him up regarding the traditional food pyramid and American diet. There's no question that American diets are less than ideal, and lead to a host of avoidable health problems. But I do wonder: is it necessary to move so far in the opposite direction?

Fuhrman has virtually nothing good to say about any other culture's diet, either. Take the Mediterranean diet, for example. He spends time criticizing it because the current state of Mediterranean people's health isn't all that good, because they've americanized their diets. So, fine, I guess Italians have been hitting the Big Macs recently. But that has no bearing on the actual elements of the Mediterranean diet, which has, when followed, led to legions of healthy old Greeks and Italians (all that beautiful smooth taut skin involves a bunch of healthy fat in the diet). Fuhrman side steps this, and simply throws all that good olive oil out the window like the contents of an old chamberpot.

The most puzzling thing of all about The End of Dieting isn't just that it's super restrictive; that's been going on for forever. It's that Dr. Fuhrman, when it comes to cuisine, appears to be stuck in the '70s. You remember "health food" in the '70s, don't you (although I'm probably dating myself here as an old dinosaur). Healthy food had to be bland food, often in unappetizing forms, such as bean loaves and carob, nuts masquerading as meat (other cultures do this alchemy far better than ours) and tofu as a substitute for everything (soy, as it turns out, isn't necessarily very good for a body, but I guess Dr. Fuhrman never got that memo about that science. There's some scientific cherry picking going on here).

The real standout of The End of Dieting is the Recipes section, which seems like an odd thing to include in an anti-diet book (then again, the tome includes sample meal plans, which seems awfully diet like to me). The recipes mostly amount to a buttload of beans; perhaps the book's alternate title could be The End of Socializing. Beans even make an appearance in the dessert section: Fudgey Black Bean Brownies (with an avocado topping, no less. It contains no chocolate whatsoever). My husband Mr. Crab calls this recipe "the culinary equivalent of a suicide note," explaining that, "all you need to do is make a batch, set them on the counter, and do the deed. Your friends and family will understand."

Dr. Fuhrman's final point comes in his patronizing Epilogue, in which he states that "... The nay-sayers are typically food addicts fighting to maintain their addictions with the "myth of moderation." Really? While I do not deny that there are many people out there who could benefit, health wise, from less meat, less fast food, less fat, and less sugar, I hardly think that anyone who nay-says Fuhrman's book is a food addict. Perhaps they just, you know,
like food beyond beans, kale, and chia seeds. That could be it. Then again, I read this book right after a trip to In-N-Out Burger, so what do I know?

It was delicious.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thoughts on the Demise of DailyCandy

It's all gone, gone, gone.
Frankly, I hadn't thought much about DailyCandy, the daily "in the know" online subscription service, in an age. It hasn't seemed relevant in a while.. That's probably why it's now gone, a victim of no longer being the first in the know, competing with endless other sites for inside information. It simply got lost in the shuffle.

When I first saw DailyCandy, I was in love. Its short, pithy little entries about everything from products to restaurants to hair salons was totally new and fresh. In fact, I wanted to write for DailyCandy, quite desperately. I wrote them, and obviously never heard back. Still, that rejection pushed me forward into creating Find A Toad, sort of my own little version. I've written about pretty much anything and everything I've wanted, baring of course the deeply personal. I guess I owe DailyCandy for that.

There now seem to be a thousand versions of exclusive tidbit sites, ranging from the fairly cynical Dead Cool (which is completely uncool and seems a slave to publicity mavens), to the countless discount sites, which make you wonder exactly who pays top dollar for anything anymore. Is everything at a discount? And, if everything is at a discount, doesn't that mean that the discount is the new full price? Just wondering.

So, that's my little obituary for the end of a taste making, trend spotting, and ultimately visionary site, done in by, I suppose, doing its job so well that it paved the way for too many imitators. Rest in peace, DailyCandy.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Say The Words, Wear The Words

God knows what these are saying, but I'm sure it's charming.
As you well know, jewelry is a big favorite as a Valentine's Day gift. Tiffany & Co certainly knows that, since my email and feeds have been inundated with advertising for expensive baubles.

While diamonds are nice, they're impersonal. Why not immortalize your own words with a David Bizer audio file necklace or keyring? The concept is pretty brilliant: create an audio file of what you'd like to say to your love (something short, please, now is not the time to recite Jabberwocky). Then, use the jewelry maker's site to send the audio file. He'll create a plywood or acrylic representation of your file, either as a necklace or a keychain. It's so much less obvious that a necklace that sports "I Love You." I can see the necklace also strung on a wall as an art piece, too. Inside jokes, pet names, unique endearments, all work beautifully. You can even get dirty and no one will know.

If you want one, better order it pronto at bza.biz. Prices are in pounds, but seem to cap out at around $80 or so.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Fuzzy Wuzzy Valentine

Lie down beside the fire, Baby.

Now that I've gotten all my crabby out regarding Valentine's Day (see previous post), the Toad is ready to give some solid romantic suggestions.

Everyone has fantasies about that romantic evening, lying in front of the fire, some fine wine in hand, smooching it up. But if you don't have a landing pad for your achy bones, that lying by the fire might require a medic alert to help you get up. Plus, you might notice some less than lovely little details, like dust bunnies the size of buffaloes, rolling your way. The solution? Buy your lady or man a sheepskin rug for a little floor lounging comfort. Sheepskin rugs are soft, silky, non-shedding and machine washable. They also look great either on the floor (for your lurid purposes) or laid across the foot of a bed, Scandinavian style. This is really a practical gift for the household.

A word of warning: your pets will go crazy for sheepskins. Cats will sleep on it in submersed circles; dogs will roll on their backs, scratching an itch, making unsavory noises. Did I mention these are machine washable? At Sheepskin Town, starting at just $59.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Opining on Valentine's Day

As a gift and product blogger, I realize that The Toad has a responsibility to come up with a bevy of gifts for Valentine's Day. Then why do I have such mixed feelings about it?

For those of you who've never considered the holiday's origins, Valentine's Day stems from the ordeal of St. Valentine, a Roman era Christian who tried to convince the Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity. He lost, and died in the process, but not before apparently curing the Emperor's daughter of some sort of fatal illness. St. Valentine literally lost his head for, I suppose, his love of his faith. How this translates into giving your partner a big box of candy eludes me.

There's all sorts of pressure surrounding Valentine's Day, especially for men. The aforementioned candy, expensive bouquets of flowers, trashy lingerie, all seems to be required. Not to mention the requisite love note, probably soon to become love e-note. And then there's the dinner plans. Never mind the fact that Valentine's Day is possibly the worst night of the year, besides New Year's Eve, for going out for a meal. All those back to back reservations and prix fixe menus virtually guarantees any restaurant kitchen will end up in the weeds. Once, I actually walked home from a prix fixe Valentine's Day meal because we'd been there for hours with very little results. Romantic!

The Toad recommends dinner, for certain, but probably of the pizza or take out type (maybe ethnic). Save the excellent meal for the following weekend, when the restaurants are back to normal and you can order at your leisure (now, that's romantic).

Other thoughts: live plants, not flowers that are going to die. A gorgeous orchid or succulent planting is far more satisfying than watching roses croak. On the lingerie front, how about some underwear she might actually want to wear? Visit any Hanky Panky site for ideas, from thongs to boy shorts to cami tops.

As this holiday is labeled a "Hallmark" one, a card is a must. But please, look for something not so generic. And write something in it besides your name. It doesn't have to be poetry, it just has to be either funny or heartfelt. Preferably both.

So yeah, Valentine's Day is weird, and I have mixed feelings, but I guess it's still a requirement. Stay tuned for individual V-Day gift ideas coming soon.

Monday, January 13, 2014

De-Clutter Now, You Lazy Slobs

This person will never need a GPS to find his keys.
Just when you thought it was safe to come out from the under the dried up christmas tree (the relatives are gone, I promise), you're getting all kinds of flack for not having your house in order. You know: it's de-clutter time in January, so that you can start off the year right and organized, instead of lonely and intoxicated on the couch.

Most of this de-cluttering trend includes lots of elbow grease in terms of cleaning, and plenty of time spent rummaging through closets and trying to decide what to toss (and where to toss it). It's exhausting just contemplating it.

That's why the Toad recommends starting with the entryway, the place in your home where everything piles up. Because you can't afford a butler, and if you have a coat closet it's probably stuffed full of crap (that you haven't gotten around to tossing), you need a landing pad. This ash and brass valet from Cincinnati brand Dixon offers one stylish solution, with hooks for hanging coats and a small shelf for phones and keys. It's clean and modern, yet warm and welcoming. And it keeps your entryway from looking like the aftermath of an NYC sample sale.

The Intersect Valet sells for $148; there are also individual hooks available for $29 each. At Dixon Branded.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

DuVenay Does Great Vintage


Real gold and real jewels for the elegantly attired.

While there are some giftees who will only want shiny and new for the holidays, there are others who long for the elegantly preserved (and I don't mean jam). Great vintage is hard to find, and reasonably priced great vintage is rarer still.

DuVenay, a small but selective vintage store on Etsy, manages to deliver vintage for those on a budget (at least, compared to the crazy stuff in L.A., I'm talking to you, PaperBag Princess). The very classy purveyor of this store (shown as a lounging lady looking elegant and so very relaxed), has accumulated an intimate but quintessential selection. You might find a lovely black Gucci bag, or a Rudi Gernreich silk scarf, all in terrific condition. But where DuVenay really shines is in the jewelry selection. In keeping with the Toad's lower price point, there are only lower priced items here, like 1950s sterling earrings or an old yet modernist carnelian signet ring. There are other, more expensive offerings, but nothing is over a grand (a holiday miracle, really).


Pay DuVenay a visit for the vintage fan on your list. You might even pick up a bauble for yourself. At DuVenay.