Welcome to our unaccompanied tours (UT) blog, Foggy Bottom Rambles! We can share information, programs, and resources quickly with you and since blogs are a two way street, we (and the other readers) can hear from you. What's in a name you say? This blog reflects how we (back here in DC, Foggy Bottom area) provide information (rambles) to you. Find websites and information, upcoming webinars, programs and events. FLO does not endorse organizations or companies linked-to in this blog, the views they express, or the products/services they offer. Let us know what you think: contribute to the blog or email us at FLOAskUT@state.gov.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Food and Mood

According to WebMD, growing research suggests that your diet may affect your mood.1 The following foods (and nutrients) may not only be good for your mood, they can also help your overall health:2
·        Omega-3s: Omega-3s may protect us from chronic stress damage. Canned light tuna, sardines, flaxseed, and chia seeds are all good sources of omega-3s.3
·        Complex carbs: Carbs trigger the brain to make more serotonin, a feel-good, calming chemical. Complex carbs provide a steady supply of serotonin. By keeping blood sugar levels stable, complex carbs can also help you feel balanced. Whole-grain breads, pastas and cereals (including oatmeal) are all good sources of complex carbs. Avoid simple carbs, such as sugary foods and drinks.2
·        Vitamin C: Oranges are packed with vitamin C. Studies suggest this vitamin can lower stress hormone levels while making the immune system stronger.2
·        Magnesium: Low magnesium can contribute to headaches, fatigue and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Green, leafy vegetables, cooked soybeans, pumpkin seeds, and salmon are all good sources of magnesium.2
·        B vitamins: Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins play a role in mood and other brain functions. Low levels of B-12 and other B vitamins such as vitamin B-6 and folate may be linked to depression.4 Vitamin B-12 can be found in animal products such as fish, lean meat, poultry, eggs, and low fat and fat-free milk. Fortified cereal is also a good source of B-12 and other B vitamins.
·        Polyphenols: Eating a diet rich in polyphenols (found in colorful fruits, vegetables, spices, teas and wines) may support brain health and help battle brain-related disorders. For example, green tea and turmeric have been associated with better brain function, better mood and protection against various brain diseases.5
·        Tryptophan: Tryptophan helps production of serotonin in the brain. Try to incorporate tryptophan-rich foods in your diet, such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and kidney beans.6
·        Calcium: Calcium can ease tension, anxiety and mood swings linked to PMS. Try a glass of warm skimmed or low-fat milk before bed.7

Article thanks to:

MHN Members Pulse Digest 

Interested in receiving Members Pulse?  Please write FLOaskUT@state.gov

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

UT Book Club

Just read a good book?  Share it with the community!  Write FLOaskUT@state.gov

Below are some books you might enjoy!


The Wasted Vigil by Nadeem Aslam
The End of Manners by Francesca Marciano
In the Shadow of the Prohet by Milton Viorst
Come Back to Afghanistan by Said Hyder Akbar
The Caged Virgin by Ayann Hirsi
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
Kabul in Winter by Ann Jones
Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseine
The Places in Between by Rory Stewart
My Forbidden Face by Latifa
Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriquez
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hasseine
Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile
Caravans by James A Michener
Afghan Campaign by Steven Pressfield
The Warlord’s Son by Dan Fesperman
In Afghanistan by David Loyn

Youth Fiction Afghanistan

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis
Mud City by Deborah Ellis
A Bed of Red Roses by Nelofer Pazira


The Translator by Daoud Hari
The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles


Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber
Arab Folktales by Inea Bushnaq
Nights and Horses and the Desert edited by Robert Irwin
The Prize by Daniel Yergin
Ghosts of War by Ryan Smithson
The Nightingale by Morgana Gallaway
Soft Spots by B. Van Winkle
Absent by Betool Khedairi
Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth
Voices of the Desert by Nelida Pinon


Trespassing by Uzma Aslam Khan
 Moghul Buffett by Cheryl Benard
Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh
 Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
Passion and Peril on the Silk Road by Susan Barrett Price
Stones into Schools by Gregg Mortenson
Diplomatic Immunity by Grant Sutherland
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin

Youth Fiction Pakistan

Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples
Havali by Suzanne Fisher Staples
House of Djinn by Suzanne Fisher Staples
Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina

The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany
8 Months on Ghazzah Street by Hilary Mantel
Finding  Noef  Zoe Ferraris
The Cairo Trilogy by Najib Mahfuz
Beneath a Sky of Porphyry by Aicha Lemsine
The Chrysalis Aicha Lemsine
The Dawning by Milka Bajic
The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes you a Happy Birthday by  Neil MacFarquhar