Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Hike at UW Arboretum

Happy Easter and happy spring! We are finally getting some nice-ish weather in Madison. It rained last night but the sun was out today. Our gym is closed on Easter, so it is a good day to do something outside to get some exercise. When we first moved to Madison we took a hike at picnic point on Easter. I can't remember what we did last year, but lets just say going on hikes is becoming an Easter tradition for us.

We decided to go to the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, which is free and has tons of trails to explore. With all the snow melting, I told Aaron he should probably wear some boots, but he didn't listen. When we came upon little rivers running over the trails he had to jump over.

It was a great day to be outside. We saw a rabbit, sandhill cranes, and some wild turkeys.

Didn't make it over this one. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Diet Variety: Radicchio and Fennel Salad

Our time in D.C. was filled with a lot of eating out. It was fun and we had a lot of good food, but I missed my green smoothies and was definitely feeling weighed down by all of the oil and richness of the restaurant food.

Going into the trip I was expecting I wouldn't feel so great eating out for every meal, so I made sure the days before we left were filled with tons of raw veggies. This radicchio and fennel salad was perfect because the two main ingredients are foods that we rarely eat (well radicchio is often included in our salad mixes, but we eat those less and less lately). I love mixed greens and spinach, but its nice to change things up once in a while.

I keep a draft email with our grocery list and weekly meals. At the bottom I have a list that says "Eat more of these" followed by a bunch of greens and salad things I obviously read in an article a long time ago. Radicchio is on that list, so it must be good for you. Its bright purple color gives a hint that it probably has lots of antioxidants. 

Fennel is a great source of fiber, folate, and vitamin C. We typically only eat it in its seed form, but the bulb is delicious, soft but crunchy, and a little sweet. It was a nice contrast to the bitter radicchio. 

Another great thing about this salad is the radicchio and fennel are hearty enough to stay crunchy and fresh days later, so you can enjoy the leftovers (the lemon in the dressing kept the apple from browning). 

**The recipe says to use a mandolin to slice the fennel "paper thin." We don't own one, so Aaron just sliced it thinly with a knife. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Policy Solutions Nationals- Washington, D.C.

For the past few days Aaron and I have been in Washington D.C. with the rest of my team competing in the Policy Solutions Challenge Nationals. Aaron came along for the ride because he hadn't been to D.C. before and wanted to check it out.

After the months of preparation we put into our paper and policy recommendations, I'm happy to say that my team took first place. I was confident in our ability to win and am happy the judges noticed our hard work and quantitative analysis!

Trophy in a bag.
We really enjoyed getting to compete and meeting students from other policy schools. The judges at the competition were important actors in obesity policy and asked great questions.

Although we spent a lot of our trip at the competition and working on our presentation, we were also able to see some of D.C. and of course, celebrate our win!

Aaron and I stayed at the W Hotel. The lobby is pretty sweet!

We were right across from the Treasury Department...

...and the White House.

Doesn't Aaron look like he loves D.C.?
American University Campus (they hosted the competition)
Cherry Blossoms

Air and Space Museum
No big deal, just some drones.
Mr. Lincoln

Korean War Memorial
Vietnam Memorial 
We ate a lot.
Motorcade leaving the White House.

Celebrating with La Follette alums who came to watch our presentation.

For more information about the competition and our policy suggestions, check out the La Follette School article.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Top of the Capitol Tour

Visiting the Wisconsin capitol building is always a must-do when we have visitors. It is a beautiful building and its best when you can go outside around the base of the dome and get a great view of Madison.

Last Friday my program hosted a social event at the capitol where we got to go on a special tour to the very top of the capitol dome. This tour is only available via senator request and luckily we have a student who works for a senator.

Mural at the top of the first dome.


Our group stopped at the top of the first dome to look at the painting. There was fishing wire strung across the opening to protect the painting. It was put up during the protests two years ago when people were releasing balloons.

We headed up to the top of the second dome in groups of six, because the area at the top is pretty small. There were a lot of stairs and it was a gross day, so I was wearing my heavy rain boots. Not ideal for climbing a winding staircase when you are afraid of heights! I made it to the top though with only a little bit of a stomach ache.

Even though we couldn't see much because of the rain, it was so cool to be way up on top of Madison and look out over both lakes. If you can get the hookup, this tour is way better than the average capitol tour.

Read more about the capitol tour here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

One Barrel Brewing Company

So there is a lot of talk happening in Wisconsin right now about alcohol consumption because the UW Population Health Institute came out with a study saying that binge drinking costs the state of Wisconsin $6.8 billion per year. Apparently Wisconsin consumes the most alcohol in the U.S. Not really something to be proud of being number one for, huh?

The study was interesting to me because they estimated the cost using things like lost productivity and absenteeism from work. It is really similar to what we do for cost-benefit analysis (I wonder if they included any benefits).

The reasons people in WI drink so much are both cultural and legal (in my understanding). Cities control liquor licenses and they sell a lot of them. This means there are a lot of places to get a drink, so people drink more (hmm sounds like soda consumption...).

Anyway, I'm not complaining. There is always a new place to try and there is especially a plethora of microbreweries. This little one (a nano-brewery), One Barrel Brewing Company, opened this year in the Atwood neighborhood, which is right next to our neighborhood.

Things I like about One Barrel:
1) They sell other beer besides their own.
2) The stools are pretty and they have a bike on the wall.
3) They make frozen pizzas.
4) Aaron let me get one of their t-shirts.
5) They raffled off a wheel of gouda cheese during Packer games.
6) Their mascot is a little penguin.
7) If you bike there on a Thursday night you get a beer for $1 (just show your helmet).

So we can't really partake in number 7 because it is about a 15 minute walk away, although we have joked about bringing our helmets with us on our walk (but we won't cuz we are too honest). We've only been twice but its really cute.

Also, the beer is good and the staff are nice! That is all it takes for me to keep going back.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wild Rice (Roasted Carrot and Wild Rice Salad)

Photo from

I've been keeping up with my new grocery item each week resolution pretty regularly, just not documenting it here. Aaron cooks and I eat too fast to take a picture!

A couple days ago I noticed we had some hazelnuts in our freezer, which have definitely been in there for at least a year. I really had no idea what to do with them, but fancy nuts are expensive and I didn't want to leave them in the freezer until we move in August. Then I saw a link to this recipe that features hazelnuts. Perfect timing! Roasted carrot and wild rice salad with hazelnuts and feta.

The wild rice is our new ingredient this week. I have never cooked wild rice, mostly because its so expensive compared to regular rice (and yes I know its not really rice, but a seed). But its so good and apparently has twice as much protein and antioxidants as brown rice. Plus there is that whole arsenic in brown rice thing (limit to 1.5 servings a week).

I guess I could count the feta as a new ingredient too, since we rarely buy cheese, but I don't consider it to be a healthy food.

We really enjoyed this for dinner last night. The flavor combination is different than our typical meals and if you like hazelnuts you should give it a try. If you don't like hazelnuts, I think walnuts would work perfectly.

We have some wild rice left because we always buy too much when we use the bulk bins, so I'll be looking forward to either making this recipe again or just eating the rice on its own.

Get the recipe: Roasted Carrot and Wild Rice Salad from Greens and Seeds

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Winning in Ohio

If you checked out the link from my last post, you saw that this past weekend the Policy Solutions Challenge mid-west regionals took place at Ohio State University in Columbus, OH. I travelled there with my team (8.5 hour road trip!) and am happy to say we placed first.

We spent most of the weekend working on and revising our presentation, but we also enjoyed looking around the Glenn School of Public Affairs and meeting students and faculty. Our advisor also met us in Columbus and provided advice about revisions (and brunch).

It was a long weekend, but we had a good time and all left feeling proud of our analysis thus far and the education we have received at La Follette. Our quantitative skills and emphasis on policy analysis were clearly a benefit.

We are now working on the logistics of going to the national competition in Washington D.C. in just around two weeks! We will compete against seven other public affairs schools and hope to see some great presentations and creative policies for reducing childhood obesity. Eventually our paper will be posted on the competition website, but for now we are keeping it (mostly) secret.