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The Bayshore Bikeway. Bike the Bay for fun and fitness!
By Carol LeBeau
6/30/2014 10:22:55 AM


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Every summer, my home state of Iowa hosts one of the premiere bicycling events in the country. July 20 marks the start of the 42nd annual RAGBRAI – an acronym for the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa.  It’s the granddaddy of all cross-state bike rides, drawing cyclists from around the world. This year, for the first time, I plan to be among the 10,000 riders pedaling 450 miles across the Hawkeye state.
 
I’ve been training several months for the ride…slowly increasing my mileage and the all-important “fanny time” every cyclist needs to prepare for seven days in the saddle!   
 
Completely out of my comfort zone, I’m grateful for advice and encouragement from my biking pals, good health to keep up with the training and the best place on earth to ride a bike.
 
It’s true! San Diego is the center of the universe when it comes to cycling. Cyclists who come here to train know it as Bike City, USA.  And you don’t have to be a competitor to enjoy the benefits. There are 510 existing miles in San Diego’s bicycle network – an additional 595 additional miles are proposed by 2030.
 
While I’ve enjoyed (more like survived!) fabulous rides both in north and east counties – my favorite training rides have been along the beautiful Bayshore Bikeway. And apparently, I’m not alone. The 24-mile bicycle route is rated tops by San Diego County Bicycle Coalition and is a bicycling destination for thousands of riders every day.
 
I just love the 13 miles of bike paths that make up the car-free bikeway. It’s safe, well maintained and great for an intense workout or relaxing ride. The rest of the route consists of on-street sections designated as either bicycle lanes or bicycle routes.  
 
Whether you’re training for RAGBRAI or just want a ride with a view, this is an iconic, must-do cycling tour of San Diego’s bay shore.  Starting downtown, hitch a ride (your bike, too!) with “Flagships’ Coronado Ferry” or “Water Taxi” across the Bay. Then start your ride after docking at the Coronado Ferry Landing. The Bikeway makes its way through Coronado along the Silver Strand through Imperial Beach and Chula Vista and back into downtown San Diego.
 
The route is mostly flat, but definitely lengthy, so bring plenty of water and snacks.  Most of the opportunities to stop and eat are at either end of the course.  And while the ocean breezes keep you cool, they can also kick up in the afternoon, causing strong head and crosswinds. Just allow enough time and stay fueled and hydrated and you’ll have a blast while getting a great workout.  
 
The Bayshore Bikeway is just one more reason San Diego is America’s Finest City. And from your bike, San Diego Bay never looked so good!
Meet Melissa d’Arabian
By Carol LeBeau
6/24/2014 1:38:04 PM


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For all you “foodies” out there, this may be hard to believe, but I have never watched the Food Network. I can’t tell you where to find the Cooking Channel either.   
 
I realize it’s my loss. It seems everyone I know loves to watch and learn from cooking shows. And while I could certainly use a little help in the kitchen (just ask my long-suffering husband!), I’ve just never found slicing and dicing or simmering and sautéing all that interesting to watch.  
 
Until I met Melissa d’Arabian!
 
Left: Melissa d'Arabian (3rd from left) with emcee, Pat Brown (left), yours truly and friend, Vicki Hesterman.
 
The New York Times best-selling cookbook author, host of “Ten Dollar Dinners,” and winner of the “Next Food Network Star” recently wowed a crowd of 400 as the keynote speaker at my church’s (First United Methodist Church, San Diego) annual “Spring Fling” women’s luncheon.  
 
Melissa may be a pretty face, a celebrity chef, and an engaging TV host, but as she shared her compelling life story, it became clear she also possesses an inner beauty and depth of character not often seen in the celebrity world.
 
Early in her work life, d’Arabian found success in corporate America. She received her MBA from Georgetown University and was enjoying a career in corporate finance when she met her now husband, Philippe, in Paris.
 
When the two returned to the States and started their family in Coronado, d’Arabian made a career shift to stay-at-home mom. And with four daughters close in age, her work schedule was packed full.
 
One challenge was figuring out how to feed four young children on a sustainable budget, but with her love of cooking and financial savvy, d’Arabian discovered how to kill two birds with one stone. She began making her own baby food and yogurt at home. “I was saving $125 to $150 a month on yogurt alone!” she says.  
 
The idea became so popular among her friends and family, she began self-recording home yogurt-making tutorials on her cell phone to share with even more moms. 
 
The concept of combining delicious recipes and money-saving techniques spread quickly leading to her victory on season five of Food Network’s “The Next Food Network Star.”
 
That was five years ago and the TV competition was true to its name. Melissa is now well known as the star of Food Network’s “Ten Dollar Dinners.” She has a best-selling cookbook of the same name and her second book is due out soon. She is also featured in numerous publications.
 
But Melissa’s successes are just part of her story. The gifted, bright-eyed beauty is also a down-to-earth, passionate woman of faith…a faith that has carried her through life’s trials, including her mother’s suicide when Melissa was only 19 years old.
 
As Melissa shared, it became clear that success and celebrity are not what’s most important in her life.  Her main focus is to be on the path God wants her to be on, which affects her daily decisions as a woman, wife, mother and professional. “I focus on staying in a place where I’m grateful for everything I have. Faith is what gets me through.”
 
Melissa has even turned the pain of her mother’s loss into an opportunity to help others as she champions the cause of suicide prevention through a variety of organizations. She is an active Girl Scout leader for her daughters and was recently honored by the organization as one of San Diego’s “Cool Women.” 
 
I have to agree with the Girl Scouts. In fact, Melissa d’Arabian is not only “cool,” she’s a breath of fresh air. And now that I’m one of her fans, I plan to DVR her show, if for no other reason than to get a little boost from her million-dollar smile.
 
Who knows, I may even learn how to separate an egg in the process!
 
Check out Melissa’s recipes at melissadarabian.net/recipes/
(I recommend her Salad Nicoise. It’s yummy and so easy, even I can make it!)
The Not-So-Sweet Side of Sugar
By Carol LeBeau
6/4/2014 10:14:09 AM


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I drive my coffee-loving friends crazy. Don’t get me wrong. I love coffee, but only if it’s masked with every accoutrement available. By the time I’m done with it, my morning dark roast is the color of my husband’s khakis!

For years, I’ve justified my breakfast treat –half and half, two teaspoons of sugar and a little coffee because, for the most part, I eat healthfully the rest of the day.

But recent news about the relationship between sugar and heart disease has got me thinking I may need to learn to drink my java black. A report from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) comes with a stern warning: eating too much sugar can be deadly!  

Now, I hate to be alarmist about food studies, but this research is compelling.

The problem isn’t with sugar found naturally in foods.  But the largest study of its kind reveals consuming too much added sugar – found in regular soft drinks, cakes, cookies and candy dramatically increases your risk of death from heart disease.

According to one of the study’s authors, the risk of cardiovascular disease increases exponentially as you increase your consumption of sugar.  

Adults, on average, consume about 15 percent of their daily calories – about 300 calories a day from added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than 100 calories a day from added sugars – about six teaspoons. Men should keep it to about nine teaspoons. (BTW: One can of regular soda has about 140 calories of added sugar.)

But just as I began congratulating myself for not drinking sugary soda, there’s this: 

Added sugars in the CDC report also include table sugar (the stuff I add to my breakfast brew) brown sugar (which I love atop an otherwise healthy bowl of hot oatmeal) high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, honey (Yikes! Last night I drizzled honey over a slice of cornbread!), molasses and other caloric sweeteners in prepared and processed foods and beverages (I guess that includes the handful of M&M’s I nibbled on while working at my computer.) 

Busted! Clearly – without even realizing it, I can blow right through my 100-calorie sugar limit…even if I’m making otherwise healthy food choices.  Bottom line, sugar is everywhere and we need to be intentional about keeping intake to a minimum.

And if the risk of heart attack isn’t enough incentive, other research has tied a high intake of added sugars to obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and risk factors for stroke. With all that’s at stake, it may just be worth keeping an eye on how much sugar you add to your diet each day.  

As Rachel Johnson, spokeswoman for the American Heart Association points out, “Now we know that too much added sugar doesn’t just make us fat – it could cause a heart attack.” 

Guess I’ll take my cuppa joe with a little half and half, thank you. Hold the sugar.