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You Say Tomato..
By Carol LeBeau
4/10/2014 11:03:51 AM


–FULL BIO
 
Following a devastating stroke, my husband’s sweet Dad, “Woody,” lived another five years – each day a challenge because the massive blood clot in his brain left his left side paralyzed. Woody handled his situation with grace and class but it wasn’t easy.
 
Because heart disease and stroke run in Tom’s family, he’s fighting back with a healthy lifestyle and frequent check-ups and I make sure the fridge is full of fresh veggies including tomatoes.
 
A new study shows that men who had the highest levels of lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, had fewer strokes than men who had the lowest level of lycopene in their blood.
 
And get this. Overall, the risk of strokes was reduced by a whopping 55 percent!
 
But here’s where the study, based in Finland, got my attention.  Lycopene, it seems, is found in the highest concentrations in cooked tomato products such as prepared paste, puree and sauce.  
 
As someone who likes to take short cuts in the kitchen, I was thrilled to learn a cup of ready-to-serve marinara sauce has 10 times more lycopene than a raw tomato.  It’s not only okay to use the stuff in the jar it’s actually better than fresh when it comes to lycopene concentrations.
 
And that goes for the sauce found on fast food pizza and store-bought catsup, too (though high fat and sugar content in these products should also be considered.) 
 
One doctor commenting on the lycopene study in the journal, “Neurology,” says the lycopene study shows “diet is very important” for cutting stroke risk along with exercising and not smoking.  Dr. Rafael Ortiz says lycopene works by reducing inflammation and preventing blood clots from forming.
 
So, when I want a quick and easy meal that’s loaded with lycopene, here’s a simple, little recipe I came up with:
 
*Sauté a chopped onion, green pepper and 1 cup of mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil.
 
*Brown one pound of lean, ground turkey and combine with vegetables
 
*Add one large jar of marinara sauce (We’re hooked Costco’s 40-oz. Victoria All Natural Marinara Sauce)  
 
*Simmer all ingredients together for one hour
 
Serve over whole-wheat penne (or pasta of your choice)  
Double the recipe.  It’s even better the next day!  And it freezes beautifully.
 
One more thing…If you’re not a tomato lover, no worries. Lycopene is also found in watermelon, grapefruit, papaya and mango.
Bananas Boring? Think Again!
By Carol LeBeau
4/1/2014 10:57:46 AM


–FULL BIO
 
When it comes to fruit, all the buzz is about the berries – the more exotic the better. From black and blue to goji and acai, these antioxidant superstars get all the attention. And that’s fine.
 
But I think it’s high time somebody gives a shout-out to one of the most popular fruits no one talks about. In smoothies, sliced on cereal or gobbled up before (or after!) a long workout, I’m big on bananas!  
 
For me, and millions of Americans, the perfectly packaged curved, yellow fruit has been a nutritional mainstay for decades.  Tucked in my lunchbox as a child or stuffed in my purse as a working professional…I could always count on a power-packed banana for a burst of energy and sense of wellbeing – all for 100 calories or less! 
 
I decided to investigate whether my favorite fruit could nutritionally go “peel to peel” with other popular fruits. Now, I’ll never look at a banana the same way again after discovering the many health benefits and reasons to keep them in my diet.   
 
If you think bananas are just for monkeys…think again! Here’s a sampling of the benefits you can expect from that bunch of bananas in your fruit bowl:
 
1. Bananas help overcome depression, due to high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin…the happy-mood brain transmitter.
 
2. Eat two bananas before a strenuous workout to pack an energy punch and sustain your blood sugar.
 
3. Protect against muscle cramps during workouts and night-time leg cramps by eating a banana.
 
4. Counteract calcium loss during urination and build strong bones by supplementing with a banana.
 
5. Improve your mood and reduce PMS symptoms by eating a banana which regulates blood sugar and produces stress-relieving relaxation.
 
6. Bananas reduce swelling, protect against Type II diabetes, aid weight loss, strengthen the nervous system and help with the production of white blood cells…all due to high levels of vitamin B-6.
 
7. Strengthen your blood and relieve anemia with the added iron from bananas.
 
8. High in potassium and low in salt, bananas are officially recognized by the FDA as being able to lower blood pressure and protect against heart attack and stroke.
 
Then there’s bananas and digestion!
 
9. Rich in pectin, bananas aid digestion and chelate toxins and heavy metals from the body…stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in the bowel and produce digestive enzymes to assist in absorbing nutrients.
    
Constipated? High fiber in bananas can help normalize bowel motility. They also help restore lost electrolytes after diarrhea. Bananas are a natural antacid and the only raw fruit that can be consumed without distress to relieve stomach ulcers by coating the lining of the stomach against corrosive acids.
 
And don’t forget natural cures from a simple banana!
 
10. Eating bananas helps prevent kidney cancer, protects the eyes against macular degeneration and builds strong bones by increasing calcium absorption.
 
11. Bananas help with learning by making you more alert. They’re high in antioxidants, providing protection from chronic disease.
 
12. Eat a banana between meals to help stabilize blood sugar and reduce nausea from morning sickness, lower body temperature and cool you during a fever or on a hot day.
 
And how about this?
 
13. Rub a bug bite or hives with the inside of a banana peel to relieve itching and irritation. Remove a wart by placing the inside of a piece of banana peel against the wart and tape it in place (take that, Compound W!!) and, what the heck…rub the inside of a banana peel on your leather shoes or handbag and polish with a dry cloth for a quick shine!
 
How ‘bout a hand for the mighty banana?  (Now you know why monkeys are so happy!!)
 
Eat a banana today.
Good Foods? Bad Foods? Challenging diet myths and what really works for weight loss
By Carol LeBeau
3/25/2014 10:52:49 AM


–FULL BIO
 

For more than three decades, I’ve reported on the latest in health, fitness and medical breakthroughs.  I can’t think of a better “beat” for a reporter in southern California – with one tiny exception. 

Diets.

From Atkins and South Beach to Jenny Craig and the “Zone,” literally hundreds of diet plans over the years have promised to help people lose weight.

Bottom line? When it comes to weight loss, there is no magic diet. The secret to losing weight is no secret at all.  Eat less and move more. Period.  

That also goes for the temptation to categorize foods as either “good” or “bad".

In February, we “busted” five popular myths about nutrition and dieting. Now, with a little help from the American Dietetic Association, (ADA) we’ll blow up five more diet myths and find the honest-to-goodness truth about how to keep your weight and health under control. Here we go!

Myth: To eat less sodium, avoid salty-tasting foods and use sea salt in place of table salt.

Reality: Your sense of taste doesn’t always notice sodium and sea salt or other gourmet salts aren’t any healthier than table salt. According to the ADA, just because it doesn’t taste salty doesn’t mean it isn’t salty. Many processed foods contain a lot of sodium, so check the label.

As for sea salt?  It does contain slightly less sodium per teaspoon than table salt only because sea salt is coarser, so fewer grains fit into the teaspoon!

Myth: Drinking more water daily will help you lose weight.

Reality: There is no evidence that water peels off pounds. Foods containing water such as soup can fill you up, but the ADA’s Dr. Christine Rosenbloom says just drinking water alone doesn’t have the same impact. “Our thirst mechanism and our hunger mechanism are two different things.”

Myth: Whole grains are always healthier than refined grains.

Reality: Whole grains are a healthy choice, but you don’t need to ditch refined grains. You can have some of each. “You don’t have to replace all your foods with whole grains,” says Dr. Rosenbloom. Enriched grains, refined grains with certain nutrients added, have some perks. “Enriched grains generally are going to have more folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and iron. The whole grains usually have more fiber, vitamin E, selenium, zinc and potassium, so it’s a trade-off.”

Myth: Sugar causes behavioral problems in kids.

Reality: You might want to check your expectations about sugar and children’s behavior. “For most children,” says Dr. Rosenbloom, “the excitement kids have supposedly from consuming sugar is probably more related to the excitement of the event than to eating sugar.” She cites research showing that when parents think their kids have been given sugar, they rate the children’s behavior as more hyperactive…even when no sugar is eaten.

Myth: Protein is the most important nutrient for athletes.

Reality: It is true that athletes need more protein than sedentary people. They just don’t need as much as they think. And they probably don’t need it from supplements…they’re probably getting enough from their food. But timing matters. Rosenbloom recommends that after weight training, athletes consume a little protein, about 8 grams (the amount in a small carton of low-fat chocolate milk) to help their muscles rebuild. "You just don’t need four scoops of whey powder to get what you need.”
               

New diet myths can crop up at any time…fads come and go. Determining nutrition myth from reality really boils down to this: Step back, check out the evidence and be a bit skeptical.

The true approach to good health isn’t scare tactics from the barrage of media reports. It’s simply an overall healthy eating pattern enjoyed and followed over time.

The National Presidential Prayer Breakfast serves up some food for the soul
By Carol LeBeau
3/18/2014 10:41:46 AM


–FULL BIO
 

“The Bucket List,” one of my all-time favorite movies was an enormous hit at the box office despite its seemingly maudlin theme. The 2007 comedy-drama film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman followed two terminally ill men on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they "kick the bucket."

But the film clearly hit a collective nerve. Alternately hilarious and touching, the film’s mega-stars took on the issue of their inevitable mortality by making the most of what time they had left.

Only 53 at the time, but motivated by the movie’s powerful message, I found myself working on my own bucket list as I left the theater.  In the seven years since, I’ve swum the 2.4-mile Ironman course off Kona, Hawaii, snorkeled along the Great Barrier Reef and visited Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall.

 


Above: Carol LeBeau with friends Hattie Kaufman and Maggie Watkins at National Prayer Breakfast

Now, newly 60, I checked one more dream off my bucket list last month after attending the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. The annual event steeped in history is held the first Thursday in February which also coincides with February “sweeps,” the all-important ratings period in television news. So for 35 years, this former news anchor waited…for retirement…and for the chance to get one of the hottest tickets in the nation’s capitol.

Months ago, I accepted an invitation to speak at a media dinner in Washington the night before the breakfast.  The event organizer apologized profusely for not being able to pay me.  “We can, however, provide you with a ticket to the Presidential Prayer Breakfast.”

In the early morning of February 6, I picked up my precious ticket at registration and made my way through security and into the biggest ballroom I have ever seen! Steeped in history, every president since Dwight Eisenhower has joined the gathering featuring prayer, Scripture reading and rare bipartisan unity in Washington.

On the expansive dais, President Barack Obama, Michele Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden joined senators and congressmen from both sides of the aisle…for a time of prayer to Almighty God for strength and guidance in leading our country.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) read from the Hebrew Book of Ecclesiastes. Bethany Hamilton, the young, Christian surfer who lost her left arm to a shark, read the Good Samaritan passage from the Gospel of Luke and keynote speaker, Rajiv Shah, the USAID Administrator encouraged the room of 3,500 guests and foreign dignitaries to continue the fight against extreme poverty around the world.

As the President tied a bow around the morning with a heartfelt message about the need for bipartisanship and the importance of religious freedom worldwide, I couldn’t help but pray the moment of peace and harmony in that ballroom would last a little longer.

I believe someday, with God’s help, it will last forever.


“America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety.  I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it’s all right to keep asking if we’re on His side.”  - Ronald Reagan

Fitbit – A high-tech tracker that makes exercise fun…and maybe even addictive!
By Carol LeBeau
3/11/2014 2:34:25 PM


–FULL BIO
 

The trails at Torrey Pines may be beautiful, but after a nearly two-hour trek up and down the scenic paths recently, I needed a nap! Disappointed in my apparent lack of physical prowess, I crawled into my car and drove home only to find an encouraging e-mail from Janine that clearly explained why Torrey Pines had totally wiped me out.

Turns out, my walking partner and “techie” friend had been wearing her “Fitbit” as we trekked the trails that morning.  The tiny tracking device on her wrist had recorded our every step…and more… synching wirelessly with her computer and smart phone.  

The “Fitbit” computer readout justified my exhaustion. Distracted as we hiked, gabbed and enjoyed the scenery, Janine and I took nearly 19,000 steps, covering 7.71 miles – the equivalent of climbing 86 floors during 115 active minutes. (Does the Fitbit really know when we took photos and potty breaks??!!)  

Actually, the tracker uses a three-dimensional accelerometer similar to that found in the Wii Remote, to sense user movement. Simply stated, the device measures steps taken, and combines it with user data to calculate distance walked, calories burned etc.

Speaking of calories, the trendy tracker claims we burned 2,372 calories that morning! (I find that hard to believe…but it sure sounds good!) No wonder I found myself later that day crashed on the couch eating spoonfuls of peanut butter straight from the jar!

These beefed up pedometers are making getting in shape as addictive as checking Facebook and Twitter.  Janine wears her Fitbit “Force” all the time.  She shoots for 10,000 steps a day, but with an added 4-mile run or “walk and talk” with a friend, can easily reach 20,000 steps.

“It keeps me motivated to get out there and get active on days I’m at my desk on the computer,” says Janine. “When I check my Fitbit and realize how few steps I’ve taken, I make it a point to get moving!”

I’m always late to the party when it comes to embracing new technology…but this is just too fun to pass up. Plus, these new-fangled trackers even allow you to compete with your friends.

Waddaya say, Janine?   

Game on?!

Note: The Fitbit “Force” used by Janine has recently been recalled, not for any defect in the device, but because a few users have experienced contact dermatitis (skin rashes) where the tracker comes in contact with their wrists possibly from the nickel used in the band.  Fitbit is replacing the device with one minus the nickel and offering a full refund to their customers.

Diet Myths
By Carol LeBeau
3/4/2014 11:14:38 AM


–FULL BIO
 

True or false: You’ll get fat if you eat at night; high fructose corn syrup makes you gain weight; and caffeine is bad for you.

As a health and fitness reporter over the last three decades, the correct answers to these dietary dilemmas could go either way depending on the most recent study. As a reporter and consumer, I find that frustrating.

Well, there may finally be some clarity when it comes to caffeine, carbs, salt, fat and other nutrition and food myths – compliments of the American Dietetic Association. At their recent annual meeting in Chicago, food experts gathered from around the world to separate the science from the silliness issuing the truth behind 10 common diet myths.

In this writing, we’ll bust five diet myths….

Myth: Eating at night makes you fat.

Reality: Calories count whenever you eat them.   The American Dietetic Association’s (ADA) Dr. Christine Rosenbloom notes some small studies with mixed results, tests on animals and a belief that because eating breakfast is linked to lower BMI… eating at night isn’t as good.  But the science isn’t there.  All in all, it’s your calorie total that matters – day or night.

Myth: Avoid foods with a high glycemic index.

Reality: You could use the glycemic index to adjust your food choices, but don’t make it your sole strategy for losing weight or controlling blood sugar.  According to the ADA, for those people who are already counting carbs, this can be a way for them to fine-tune their food choices, but it isn’t the be-all, end-all for weight loss.

Myth: High fructose corn syrup causes weight gain.

Reality: This may sound sacrilegious to some, but there’s probably nothing particularly evil about high fructose corn syrup compared to regular old sugar. This diet myth arose in 2003 when researchers noticed that obesity was rising, along with the use of high fructose corn syrup. The speculation was maybe we handle high fructose corn syrup differently than we do sugar, but there’s no evidence to support that. Beyond its calories, the American Medical Association recently concluded that high fructose corn syrup doesn’t contribute to obesity.

Myth: Caffeine is unhealthy.

Reality: The ADA’s Dr. Rosenbloom says there is some evidence that caffeine may have a positive effect on some diseases including gout and Parkinson’s disease…besides caffeine’s famous alertness buzz. Also, caffeine does not dehydrate people who consume it regularly another commonly held belief. However, Dr. Rosenbloom does caution that caffeine isn’t always listed on product labels and children who drink a lot of caffeinated energy drinks may intake more caffeine than their parents expect. “Kids tend to guzzle these things,” she warns, “whereas an adult may sip a beverage.”

Myth: The less fat you eat, the better.

Reality: For some people, counting fat grams can work for weight control, but it’s not the only way. The ADA reports that people with heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome may benefit from adding a little healthy fat – the monounsaturated kind and cutting back on carbs. But they shouldn’t increase their overall fat intake. Just swap saturated fat for unsaturated fat. Balance is key says Dr. Rosenbloom. “If you go to an Italian restaurant and have triple-cheese-meat-sausage lasagna then have a little olive oil on your bread, you’re not doing much for your heart.

Next month, we’ll examine five more nutrition myths. You can take it all with a grain of salt, but should it be table salt or sea salt?  We’ll bust that myth, too.

Stay tuned.

Building a Better Brownie! Healthy, Gluten-Free and Yummy!
By Carol LeBeau
2/25/2014 11:16:02 AM


–FULL BIO
 

Whether you need to or not, these days it’s cool to eat gluten-free. The food industry has capitalized on this so-called health trend, marketing everything from bread and chips to cookies and cereals as “gluten-free.” 

But for those who truly are gluten intolerant, the results of eating wheat in any form can be agonizing. For those with gluten-induced Celiac disease, the outcome can be fatal.

After years of living with miserable, unexplained intestinal distress, my step-Mom, Kaye, discovered she had an extreme sensitivity to gluten. Thankfully, her symptoms have abated because she adheres to a strict gluten-free diet. And it’s not always easy.

Maintaining a diet free of wheat-based products takes discipline…especially if you’ve got a sweet tooth.  Most cakes, cookies and other baked goods are a big no-no.  And sadly, most of the store-bought, gluten-free fare out there tastes like sand.

So, when I came across an interesting recipe for super-healthy flourless brownies, I just had to give it a try. They are so delicious; I’m going to make a batch for Kaye!

If you or someone you know happens to be a gluten-free chocoholic, you’ve got to give these brownie makeovers a try. Even if you’re good with gluten, I think these fudgy, flourless brownies are better than energy bars...packed with protein and fiber to keep you fully charged before or after a workout.  

If you’d like to build a better brownie, here’s the recipe!  Whip up a batch of these super squares and let me know what you think!

Fudge Flourless Brownies

½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup sugar
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup packed pitted Medjool dates (brilliant!)
¼ cup unsweetened almond milk
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
2 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips (optional)

You’ll find these brownies fudgy but not at all dense, thanks to the whipped egg whites. The olive oil and almonds give a double shot of healthy fats and if you prefer them less sweet, skip the chocolate chips.

Sleep Your Way to Good Health in 2014 with a Little Help from the Food You Eat!
By Carol LeBeau
2/18/2014 1:40:44 PM


–FULL BIO
 

After 34 years working the night shift, I wondered whether I’d be able to adapt to a normal sleeping schedule when I retired from the TV news business.

Not only have I adapted, I haven’t even seen the 11 p.m. news in more than four years!  No offense to Kimberly or my other news pals, but these days I’m lucky to make it past nine before drifting into dreamland. My body clearly loves the change. I sleep soundly and wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.  

Not only that, within a year on my new schedule – completely unintentionally, I’d lost nearly 10 pounds. What a surprise… until I looked at the facts.

For years I think I was always just a little bit sleep deprived…getting by on about seven  hours, when my body craved closer to nine in the sack. And, if I’m honest, I’d developed some pretty unhealthy eating habits working those weird hours.

On a busy night at work, I’d miss dinner altogether, then exhausted and wired after the late news, I’d come home, turn on Conan and fix myself a plate of cheese and crackers and wash it down with a glass (or two!) of wine… to unwind, you understand.  

Bad plan. A fat and calorie-laden snack combined with sugar in the alcohol often made for light, interrupted sleep. When I finally adopted my husband’s routine an early dinner with only a light snack before bed, I began sleeping like a baby and reaping the health benefits.

Adequate slumber (7-9 hours is the sweet spot for most of us!) does more than make you feel good. An abundance of sleep research has found a well-rested engine is essential for controlling your weight and sharpening your memory.  

What you eat can play a major role in the quality of your rest. My best snooze advice?

1. Warm milk can help you sleep better. Milk contains tryptophan, which your body uses to make serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes sleepiness. Because tryptophan needs carbohydrates to work its sedating magic in your brain, milk is a natural choice since it has the drowsy duo.  (While warming it up adds to the soothing sensation, I still prefer my milk cold.)
 
2. Avoid eating a late meal, then going straight to bed.  Consuming a heavy dinner or even a super-size bedtime snack can make you feel uncomfortably full when you lie down. Even worse, you may develop heartburn or gas… which makes falling asleep extra-challenging. For a peaceful slumber, aim to eat dinner at least three hours before you hit the sack. (When that’s not possible, enjoy a lighter meal –
less than 400 calories.)  If you need a late-night nibble, keep it at 200 calories or less.

Three smart pre-sleep snacks that work for me:
*1 cup fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt topped with some crunchy, low-sugar cereal
*3 cups low fat popcorn topped with grated Parmesan
* Rice cake topped with hummus and a slice of turkey breast or (my fave) peanut butter

3. Talk to you doctor about sleep aids.  One of the most popular options is melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles. You can even increase your intake of foods that naturally contain melatonin…like tart cherries, walnuts or some special sleepy-time teas. (Nights when it’s difficult to fall asleep or when I travel, my doctor prescribes Ambien but only occasionally…and ONLY with my doctor’s okay.)

Don’t minimize the importance of sleep.  It’s crucial for good health and wellbeing.

Sweet dreams…

Saying Good-bye to a Good Friend – San Diego Mourns the Passing, but Celebrates the Life of Loren Nancarrow.
By Carol LeBeau
2/12/2014 12:03:18 PM


–FULL BIO
 

Loren Nancarrow is gone. It’s still hard to believe. After bravely battling brain cancer, my friend and former TV colleague passed away last month at the age of 60.  

We’ll never know, this side of eternity, why Loren was taken from his family, friends and thousands of fans in the prime of life. It’s just not fair. But from the moment Loren received his grim diagnosis, he decided not to waste a moment pondering “why me?” 

“The doctors tell me I have between one and three years to live,” Loren wrote in his blog shortly after his diagnosis. “So, boo-hoo, poor me.”   

Then, with grace, class and his signature sense of humor, Loren showed the rest of us how to live to the max and die with dignity…living each day with a grateful heart and a hopeful spirit. 

Loren only got 10 more months but he filled his final days with fun, family and a sense of purpose – using his health challenges and high profile to help others with cancer and inspire thousands through his touching blogs.

Nowhere was that inspiration more evident than at Loren’s celebration of life service at Cardiff Beach. More than a thousand of us laughed, cried and comforted one another as paddlers formed a circle beyond the breakers and floated flowers in Loren’s honor. Many believe it was Loren himself who ordered the spectacular sunset that signaled his final goodbye.

As the crowd dispersed, my media pals and I remained on the darkening beach. The memorial was over, but we weren’t ready to leave. That’s when Jody Hammond, former News 8 reporter and friend to Loren got an idea. She invited any of us who could to an impromptu gathering at her home to talk about and toast our TV colleague. 

For hours, 15 of us…all Loren’s co-workers over the years reminisced about our dear friend. We represented several local TV stations…Jim Laslavic from 7/39, Liz Purcell from News 8, photojournalist Mike Ineman, producer Janine Nakama and yours truly were part of the 10 News contingent. 

But that night – standing around Jody’s kitchen island we may as well have been from the same station. No matter where he had worked, or with whom, Loren was loved. Through laughter and tears, we shared countless touching and hilarious remembrances about the guy who transformed his home into a “ranch,” from which he would report on every fruit, vegetable, herb and critter know to man…a guy completely unafraid to dig deep into a heap of compost or a heap of political controversy …the guy who insisted on calling me “Clara Bow,” despite years of protestations.

When the night ended, Loren was still gone, but thanks to Jody’s warmth and hospitality, we’d been given the gift of a little more time together to mourn and celebrate our friend providing closure for the gaping hole in our collective hearts.

Please keep Loren’s remarkable family in your thoughts and prayers.  Those of us who knew and loved Loren have lost a friend…but Susie, Hannah, Graham and Britta have lost their husband, dad and hero.

May God richly bless them and give them comfort in their grief.

Taking on the Trails at Torrey Pines
By Carol LeBeau
2/3/2014 2:36:22 PM


–FULL BIO
 
It was Janine’s idea. My friend and high-energy walking buddy suggested that we shake up our routine a bit. Sure, Mission Bay, Coronado, Lake Miramar and Batiquitos Lagoon are great venues for our monthly “talk and treks.” But how about a change? 
 
Janine’s plan was to bump it up a notch in the New Year – move from the flats to something a bit more challenging. So last week we headed for the hills (or at least the cliffs!) at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.  
 
Two hours later – sweaty, spent, with quadriceps on fire, we hobbled back to our cars congratulating one another with “high-fives,” for conquering the sometimes steep and winding trails overlooking Torrey Pines State Beach. Then came the, “I should have had a V-8” moment. Why, we wondered, had we never considered one of the most spectacular places to walk, jog or hike in southern California for our monthly walking workout?
 
I’m afraid I’d lumped Torrey Pines in with other local attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Cabrillo Monument, USS Midway Museum and Belmont Park as destinations meant only for out-of-town guests. Come to think of it, the last time I trekked Torrey Pines, it was with my nephews from Iowa five years ago.  “Auntie Carol” spent several days visiting the attractions I typically enjoyed only as tour guide.
 
Well, no more! We live in paradise and I intend to start taking advantage of it with or without out-of-town guests! 
 
Did you know Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is located within San Diego city limits, 
yet remains one of the wildest stretches of land on our Southern California coast? The 2,000 awesome acres of land are as they were before San Diego was developed…including the chaparral plant community, the rare and elegant Torrey pine trees, miles of unspoiled beaches and a lagoon vital to migrating seabirds.
 
Travelers and locals (like Janine and me!) take a break at the stunning overlooks, walk peaceful trails or exercise in a clean, beautiful environment. There’s a trail for everyone or you can combine several to intensify your workout.  Here’s a trail list to get you started: 
 
Guy Fleming Trail - 0.7 mile loop. Easiest, relatively level, forested, nature markers. Diverse scenery, ocean vistas, sandstone formations, spring wildflowers, drinking water, parking.
 
Perry Grove Trail - 0.5 mile loop. Secluded, not too difficult, but steep entry/exit (100 steps) Drought and Bark Beetle infestation have devastated this grove, but it is recovering. Whitaker native plant garden at trailhead.
 
Razor Point Trail - 0.7 mile to point.  Dramatic views of gorge, badlands, spring wildflowers, fewer but more picturesque trees.  Trail splits from Beach Trail 200 yards below restroom trailhead and follows the Canyon of the Swifts toward the bluffs.
 
Broken Hill Trail - Access to beach via north fork 1.2 Miles (my fave!) Longest trail…chaparral, few trees, scenic overlook of the “broken” hill. (Combine this trail with Razor Point Beach Trails for a 3-mile loop.)
 
Beach Trail - ¾ mile to Flat Rock and beach. Popular beach access. Least scenic trail, few trees, steep. (If you plan to hike down and then walk back to the lower parking area along the beach, remember to check the tides or you may find yourself swimming back to your car!)
 
If you’d like to join Janine and me as we enjoy the tourist attraction right here at home, go to www.torreypine.org where you’ll find maps and much more about one of San Diego’s natural wonders.
 
See you on the trails!