Artist Carves Beautiful Trees from McDonald's Bags

David B. Smith Gallery"Whimsical" is one word that can be used to describe artist Yuken Teruya's work. Titled Notice - Forest: What Victory Tastes Like, the New York-based Teruya creates miniature trees from the Olympic's version of McDonald's bags and a bit of glue. The work is stunning: inspired by trees he has seen around his neighborhood and on his travels, Teruya weaves magic out of otherwise disposable bags. Ranging from designer (Paul Smith) to luxury (Laduree), Tekuya's trees are proof positive art can exist anywhere. His work is currently being exhibited at David B. Smith Gallery in Denver, CO.

Yuken Teruya

Photos courtesy: Yuken Teruya, David B. Smith Gallery

Eating Only McDonald's Before Running

For Joe D'Amico, running a 2 hour, 36 minute marathon wasn't tough enough. He needed to up the ante. So he decided to eat only McDonald's for 30 days before the race. On his blog McRunner, D'Amico recorded his journey and raised nearly $30,000 for the Ronald McDonald House. D'Amico claims that his foray into an exclusively McDonald's diet is not an attempt to prove or disprove any political or nutritional theories-he just wanted to conduct an experiment and raise money for charity. Over the course of the 30 days, D'Amico ate dozens of hotcakes, cookies, and hamburgers.

Still, he reported feeling good throughout his training; his cholesterol and blood pressure even dropped at the end of the McDonald's diet. D'Amico focused on meeting his basic protein, carbohydrate, and fat needs, and in the process learned a lot about how his body responds to different kinds of nutrition during training.

At the Los Angeles marathon, D'Amico finished in 2:36:13, 29th place and a personal best. He continues to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House, and emphasizes that he doesn't endorse the McDonald's diet. Ultimately, it was an experiment intended to draw attention to nutritional choice, balance, and the importance of exercise. Read more about the McRunner story here. To learn about eating right during running season, click here.

The Celebrated Return Of Coconut Oil

Vegans and non-vegans alike are celebrating the return of coconut oil to shelves in health stores around the country. Coconut oil is a great alternative to dairy and animal fats, but it's flavor is a pleasure even for those who aren't avoiding animal products. Experts now recommend virgin coconut oil, but the less healthful hydrogenated form is what was popular with giant food processors a few years ago, giving any coconut oil product a bad name. Movie theaters were loading their popcorn with lots of the more processed type of coconut oil boosting calorie counts to that of several McDonald's Big Macs.

This confusion is a great example of the important differences between fats -- there are ones that are an essential part to  a nutritious diet, while more processed fats are contributors to clogged arteries and associated illnesses.

When contemplating use of coconut oil, think of olive oil, but more fruity. Coconut oil is good when used in moderation and works well as a shortening for everything from sauteing to baking. The flavor is subtle enough to make virgin coconut oil a versatile product, delicious to bring out the best of savory and sweet. Try out coconut oil yourself with this delicious recipe for Spiced Banana Donuts.

To read what the New York Times has to say about coconut oil, read the full article.

A Bowl Of McDonald's Oatmeal Equals An Egg McMuffin

Not surprisingly, McDonald's new oatmeal isn't very good for you, at least according to Mark Bittman. In his New York Times op-ed "How to Make Oatmeal. . .Wrong," Bittman maintains that McDonald's new oatmeal is a nutritional disaster. Although "Fruit & Maple Oatmeal" sounds nutritious, when it's a McDonald's product, calories and sugar abound. Bittman compares a bowl of that oatmeal to an Egg McMuffin-only 10 fewer calories-and a Snickers bar: they have the same amount of sugar.

As opposed to "real" oatmeal, Bittman claims that the McDonald's version contains "11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen." Worse, it even costs more than a double-cheeseburger.

Bittman argues that there are no redeeming features in McDonald's oatmeal: it's less convenient than making it at home, and is only intended to bring more customers into each restaurant for unhealthy breakfasts.

For a healthier (and much more delicious) option, try this recipe for Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal. Later in the day, make these farro-stuffed peppers for a wholesome dose of grains. This farro-orange salad is another good alternative. Ultimately, there are so many great ways to give your body whole grains-avoid the nutritional wasteland of McDonald's oatmeal in favor of these better options. Click here to read Bittman's entire op-ed.