Archive for the 'Health' Category

Beyond the Sandwhich part3

In this third installment of Beyond the Sandwich, we’re looking at lamb.

This meal is ideal for the day after your holiday lamb leftovers and when you might want something lighter.

Mediterranean Lamb Salad

Romaine lettuce
Field greens
Greek olives
Spanish Olives (with or without pimientos)
Fresh garlic
Fresh basil (not the dried flakes)
Burpless cucumbers
Feta cheese
Greek vinaigrette (or other vinaigrette of choice)
Leftover lamb sliced thin
Cracked pepper (optional)

Wash the tomatoes and cucumbers
Slice tomatoes in eighths and the cucumbers into thin slices and then in half
Cover the tomatoes and cucumbers with the dressing, add 1/2 t of fresh garlic, cover and chill during remaining steps

Wash and drain all of the greens
Slice about 4 long leaves romaine in small bite-sized pieces
Add the field greens to the romaine and toss together gently
Add the olives–about 1/4 of each (or more to your desire)
Add the feta and chilled marinating cucumbers and tomatoes (include liquid)
Toss all of the above together to cover all leaves and olives lightly (add more dressing if necessary)

Lay the above into a bed on plates.
Wash and pat dry the basil.
Gently lay the fresh basil in the center of the plated mixture. (Have fun with it and make a design with the basil leaves.)
Lay the sliced lamb on top of the basil and serve.

Posted in Uncategorized, Cooking, Holidays, Healthy Eating, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

Take the 4-point plastics pledge

Probably everyone has seen that one scene from The Graduate where during the Benjamin’s party, one of his parent’s friends says something to the effect of: “I’m going to tell you one word about the future. Plastics.” Many of us even remember the old commercial sponsored by the American Chemistry Council that stated: “Plastics Make It Possible.” For years we’ve come to rely on the convenience, portability and “safety” of plastics.

Then, we got a collective environmental conscience and realized that plastics were filling our landfills and destroying the planet.

Now, we know that certain plastics contain Bisphenol-A a possible endocrine disruptor and hormonal disruptor as it mimics the female hormone estrogen.

It is in many items that we use daily and consider safe: from baby bottles to sports bottles, the linings of metal food cans, and in nearly any take-out container that isn’t foil or a paper product. The least safe plastic items are those labeled 3, 6 and 7 and their unsafe properties increase with heating from the dishwasher and microwave. A recent report by Catherine Zandonella, M.P.H. in the Green Guide states that “the plastics industry says it is harmless, … a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. …[And] ninety-five percent of Americans were found to have the chemical in their urine in a 2004 biomonitoring study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” The company asserts that the levels of BPA found in the items we use daily are safe, and are only unsafe at high doses. Zandonella’s report continues that according to Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri, “low doses that are now proving to cause a myriad of harmful effects in animals, including chromosomal damage in female egg cells and an increase in embryonic death in mice. A follow-up to this is a study indicating a relationship of BPA blood levels to miscarriages in Japanese women.” While the FDA sees no reason to change its 2003 opinion on the safety of BPA in conjunction with food use, they have been wrong before. In contrast, in December 2007, the Center to the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction issued a detailed report about BPA and its implications in humans, concluding that more study on the effect of BPA in humans is needed.

Hmmm. Some experts say BPA is perfectly okay; others, not so much.
So what are we to do?

After a thorough check of my cabinets for anything labeled 3, 6 or 7, I was happy to find that all of my son’s sippy cups were labeled 2. But that was just the cups themselves. What about the lid–the part that he actually sucks on? What about the ones that have been saved by relatives with toddlers before us and passed down to us and clearly show the wear and tear of little toddler nibbles? Are the ones that are a decade old (and clearly flaking) still safe? There was no way to know…as neither the contemporary lids nor the older sippy cups had any numbers on them. Am I to assume that because the newer cups have a “2″ imprinted on them that the lids are also twos?

You see. More questions.

I checked my son’s bowls and other plastic that we use for food regularly as well. No numbers there either. Luckily, I never heat food in plastic, but what about transferring hot food to a plastic bowl?

As you can see, the new information only leads to more questions, concerns and decisions about food container choices.

While on one hand I don’t want to give my toddler a glass bowl…it is much easier to take care of a cut than potential future problems that could affect his internal functions.

I put my mind at ease with the intent to make some behavioral changes and wiser shopping choices. Luckily, I didn’t have to grapple with how to dispose of any threes, sixes or sevens properly.

But later in the day, the question arose again. I was at my favorite local cafe, where as I sipped my steaming coffee from its cardboard-lined cardboard cup, I stared down at the number six on the lid. How many times have I sucked on a hot liquid in one of these lids in my lifetime? How many times have I consumed hot food from a number 6 container? Sure, my exposure has been minimal according to the FDA and some scientists, but the questions still lurk.

What about you and your family? It makes you too, wonder now, doesn’t it?

Armed with this new information, I am willing to take a four-point pledge for myself and for my family and make a behavioral change to reduce my (our) exposure to BPA.

  • A pledge to shop smarter and avoid purchasing plastic products labeled with the numbers 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge to avoid take-out and establishments that use plastic containers labeled with 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge that when point two is absolutely unavoidable, to avoid personal exposure to such plastics that have come into contact with heat.
  • A pledge to use sustainable and safe reusable products.
  • Will you too take the pledge?

    Feel free to make it public and claim the pledge in the comments field.

    Posted in Health, Daily Living, Health Care, Healthy Living, Poison, Smart Buying, Guest Blogger, News Items | 1 Comment »

    Beyond the Sandwich: Making Use of Holiday Left-overs (part two)

    In this installment of Beyond the Sandwich, we’re looking at turkey. There always seem to be leftovers when you make a turkey, and after a while, turkey sandwiches can get a little boring. Here are two easy recipes to breathe new life into those turkey leftovers: turkey tortellini soup and warm turkey burritos/wraps.

    First, set aside some turkey breast for the burritos/wraps.

    Turkey Tortellini Soup


    Turkey (still on the bone)
    Stewed tomatoes
    While the turkey is boiling, wash spinach and remove the spines from the leaves. Set aside.
    Carefully remove bones from the liquid and discard them. You may need to use the slotted spoon to help gather the smaller bones. Use a pair of tongs to return any meat collected in the spoon back to the soup.

    Add the tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes to the mixture.

    Add a handful of basil (Note: other spices are not necessary as the soup will have the flavoring of whatever spices were used to season the turkey initially before cooking.)

    Bring mixture to a low boil, stirring intermittently. If the mixture is too thick, gradually add cupfuls of water until it is at your desired consistency.

    Simmer for 20 minutes

    Bring mixture back up to a boil and add the tortellini. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions.

    When tortellini is al dente (or near it) gently add the spinach to the soup by the handful and stir it into the soup. As each handful of spinach wilts down, add another of fresh spinach.
    Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all spinach is wilted.

    Serve and enjoy.

    Warm Savory Turkey Burritos/Wraps
    (Note: these can be served cold as well, just omit the melting directions)

    Large, round flat bread/tortillas (either wheat or corn)
    Field greens/lettuce (optional)
    1 T olive oil
    1 medium Red onions (chopped)
    Chopped tomatoes
    Scallion /green onion (chopped)
    Block of sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)

    Optional Sauce:
    Chipotle powder
    Black pepper

    Cutting board
    Small whisk (or fork)
    Small bowl (for the sauce)
    Cheese grater

    Prepare sauce and refrigerate
    In a small bowl, add about ¼ tsp of chipotle powder to mayonnaise and whisk, blending well. (Add more or less of each to taste.) Dash with a sprinkle of ground black pepper to taste.

    Prepare wrap
    Preheat oven to 350° F.

    Shred the cheddar cheese and set aside

    Wash the lettuce/field greens and set aside (if using for the cold wrap)

    Cut the turkey breast into long, thin strips (about ¼ to ½ inch wide)

    Chop the scallions, red onion and tomatoes and mix together. Set aside.

    Gently warm the tortillas/flatbread in the oven. (You can also steam them if you have a large steamer.)

    When warmed, remove from oven and layer the turkey and cheese, lengthwise in the center.

    Return to oven to melt cheese/heat turkey. Watch carefully as cheese melts. When cheese starts to melt, remove from oven and layer on the onion/tomato mixture.

    Top with the sauce and roll up or fold into thirds. (This last part has to be done fairly quickly.)

    For a cold wrap, still warm the bread but skip heating the turkey and cheese. Instead layer on the lettuce/greens, turkey, cheese, onion/tomato mixture and sauce. Roll up and enjoy.

    Next up…Left-over Lamb

    Posted in Cooking, Home and Garden, Healthy Eating, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    Beyond the Sandwich: Making Use of Holiday Left-overs

    We’re hosting Easter dinner this year for the extended family of 15, which means that despite the gazillion-pound ham that I bought at the market yesterday, there will be left overs. There always are. And of course, with left overs comes the lingering question of what to do with them to make them interesting for the next couple of days, and maybe even for a not-too-distant lunch, snack or dinner. Sure, I could send some home with the family as they each depart for their own homes, but that still leaves whatever is left for us to contend with. Whether you’re having ham, turkey or lamb for Easter (or any other holiday), these recipes may help make greater use of your leftovers too.

    Disclaimer: Please forgive any missing quantities or measurements. I cook like my mom and grandma: part alchemy, part inspiration, part magic and a whole lot of love.

    What to do with left-over ham: Savory Split-Pea Soup

    You’re probably thinking “ick.” But this split pea soup will delight even the biggest naysayer. (I know, because my husband loves it.) If you have a ham with the bone in, save it, wrap it well in parchment paper or a freezer bag and refrigerate overnight or freeze if it will be longer than a day or two before using. (Don’t forget to put the date on it.) Do the same with some of the meat.

    Ham bone (optional)
    Left over ham—diced (about 1 cup)
    1 16 oz package of split peas
    vegetable or chicken stock/broth (about 6 cups)
    Sea salt
    1 T. Ground black pepper
    1 T. Yellow curry powder
    2 T. Cilantro or recaito
    One onion peeled and diced
    Several cloves of garlic diced or pressed
    One to two whole carrots, peeled and sliced into disks
    Olive oil
    fresh parsley or cilantro
    sour cream or half-and-half
    optional: sherry or sauterne

    Stock pot
    Wooden spoon
    Rubber spatula
    Blender or food processor

    1 Wash and drain peas. Set aside. (You can soak them in warm water while they are set aside.)
    2 In the stock pot, place 2 T olive oil
    3 On medium heat sautee the onion, garlic and 1 T cilantro until the onion is clear
    4 Reduce heat slightly and add the ham, sautee for about five minutes
    5 Reduce heat again and add 1 cup of stock/broth
    6 Add in the ham bone and add more broth gradually until the bone is covered (if not using the ham bone skip to #10 )
    7 Increase heat again to medium-high and bring to a low rolling boil
    8 After mixture boils, reduce heat and simmer until the meat falls off of the bone
    9 Carefully remove the bone from the liquid and discard
    10 Add the remaining broth (you can substitute one of the cups of broth with water or dry white wine)
    11 Add the peas, carrots, 1 T of recaito or cilantro, 1 t of curry and the salt and pepper
    12 Increase heat again and bring to a rolling boil
    13 Reduce heat, cover and let simmer until the peas are tender (use a the back of a spoon and see if you can smush the peas against the side of the pot)
    14 Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes
    15 Carefully ladle the mixture into the blender or food processor
    16 Add remaining curry (or more to taste) and blend until a velvety smooth texture and a uniform color
    17 Remove from blender/food processor with a rubber spatula and serve in bowls
    18 Sprinkle a bit more curry over the top and add a dollop of sour cream or swirl half-and-half in gently to the soup in small measures.
    19 Garnish with a sprig of parsley or fresh cilantro and serve.

    This soup can be served warm or cold. It also can be served in bread bowls for a fun touch. And, as a vegetarian option, skip the meat steps use vegetable stock. For added texture, use diced potatoes instead of meat, and add when adding the carrots and peas. Use the potatoes as the gauge for when to remove the mixture from the heat and blend.

    Next on beyond the sandwich, ideas for left over turkey.

    Posted in Uncategorized, Cooking, Holidays, Healthy Eating, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    To Fish or Not to Fish?

    Stay away from certain fish because they contain high mercury levels. Eat fish because it can boost your unborn baby’s IQ. What’s a mom-to-be to do?

    A study out of the University of Bristol has found children whose mothers ate fish more than three times a week did better in tests of cognitive function.

    A-ha. But there’s a catch. It’s not just any fish, but oily fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids, that help raise baby’s IQ. Unfortunately, some of the fish highest in Omega-3, like swordfish, are off-limits to pregnant and nursing women due to their higher mercury content.

    Fortunately, many lower mercury-content fish, including, shrimp, canned light tuna, certain salmon, Pollock and catfish, are also high in Omega-3s. Farm-raised salmon tends to be lower in mercury, but also lower in Omega-3s, while Alaskan salmon tends to be the purest in the ocean. Use his handy mercury calculator to find out how much mercury is in the fish you want to eat.

    To get the most benefit for the baby-to-be, pregnant women should aim for three servings per week of heart healthy (and brain healthy), low-mercury fish. You can also supplement your fish intake with an Omega-3 vitamin. Check with your doctor before taking any supplements if you’re pregnant or nursing.

    Of course hubby and I want to raise a genius. So I’m starting to introduce more canned, white tuna (not albacore) and salmon into my diet (and longing for the day when I can enjoy a nice swordfish steak, again—and a cup of coffee after dinner!)

    I won’t lie and call the recipe below “healthy,? but it’s definitely tasty, easy to prepare and is making eating more fish easier for me!

    1 salmon steak or filet
    2 cups low-sodium soy sauce
    1/8 cup lemon juice
    ¼ cup honey
    1 teaspoon ginger, or more

    In a baking pan or marinating dish, combine soy sauce, lemon juice and honey. Place salmon, skin side up, in marinade, for 30 minutes to an hour or more. (Refrigerate immediately!)

    Remove fish from marinade and grill for 5 – 7 minutes on each side or until salmon is cooked through.

    If you’re not pregnant, this entrée tastes great with a chardonnay like Robert Mondavi Private Reserve. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

    Posted in Healthy Eating | 3 Comments »

    Once A Month Cooking and Oatmeal Bars


    In the essence of keeping to our healthy resolutions, hubby and I have been moving our diet to a more plant based one. We have cut out all red meat and pork, leaving only seafood and fowl. We feel better and have found that our grocery bill is lower, giving us extra money to spend on the other items we enjoy to eat.

    One of my favorite bloggers (and a great person to know), Marye Audet at Baking Delights posted a really comprehensive How-to on Once a Month Cooking. This is probably the best guide with a realistic approach I have found. I’m not saying that just because I like her, it’s really that good.

    Since we can buy more, we can put away more. Freezing and dehydrating are two of the best ways to keeping food fresh longer, though I have not tried dehydrating a whole meal yet. That will come eventually! As a work at home professional, it is essential for me to be able to throw together a meal quickly. Healthy meals and fast healthy meals are exactly what we need! I need something quick for the mornings, one child off to school and the two others small enough to be starving to death before their sister is out the door.

    Our children do like to eat some sweets and my mother in law would bring the kids doughnuts occasionally for a morning treat. Even once in a while is too much when the doughnuts in question are covered in chocolate glaze and stuffed with whatever can fit inside.

    So, I experimented with a sweet but healthy breakfast treat. Pre-packaged oatmeal squares and other types of breakfast ‘bites’ are available. I tend to avoid these because of the preservatives and other unnatural ingredients. So, this morning we had home-made oatmeal breakfast bars with fruit. So tasty and very filling!

    I can post what went in, but not the exact amounts, because when I experiment, I throw caution to the wind! You can experiment with the ingredients on your own, I will try to estimate the amounts to give you a better chance of duplicating my results. These bars took about half an hour to bake up, your time may vary. You can place these in the fridge and keep for up to a week without freezing. Make a double batch and freeze a whole pan!

    Super Oatmeal-Fruit Breakfast Fuel

    2 cups Oat meal, plain (the kind in the big cylinder)
    ¾ cup flour (all purpose)
    1 ½ cup low fat granola (I just used some from a cereal box with almonds and raisins)
    ½ cup raisins
    2 bananas, sliced thin
    2 eggs
    1 cup milk (more or less)
    3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

    Preheat oven to 400 F.
    Mix everything in a large bowl. It will be slightly ‘goopy’. The milk will not completely absorb, but try to get all of the flour mixed into the liquid. If the mix is too dry, add a little more milk. Once it is all completely mixed, pour into a pan that has been lined or oiled well.

    Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check at 20 minutes for browning. The top of the bars should be dry with spotty golden brown areas. Remove from oven, cool until you can cut and handle the bars without being burned. Serve warm!

    Posted in Uncategorized, Cooking, Healthy Living | 2 Comments »

    Dark Chocolate

    Chocolate is a wonderful thing. From ancient times, chocolate has been used in medicine and relaxation. Nearly everyone knows about Montezuma and his desire for, well…desire. His legendary consumption of chocolate drinks supposedly gave him the stamina he needed to keep up with a huge harem.

    In recent times, chocolate has become the indulgence of choice for women. A guilty pleasure, sometimes hidden and eaten in times of stress or depression. But, chocolate does not need to be a guilty indulgence. This food is power packed with antioxidants and is actually very good for you.

    When you buy chocolate for eating, remember that the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you. Americans are used to the sweeter milk chocolate, but as we age our tastes begin to mature. Dark chocolate has a stronger, slightly bitter taste. Because of many cultures tendency to enjoy sweets, they have forgotten that the taste buds are geared to detect and enjoy slightly bitter items.

    You can find different strengths of dark chocolate by reading the percentages on the wrapper or package. The higher the percentage, the stronger the bitter taste. Once you have become accustomed to the darker chocolates, your heart will thank you. Why? Because dark chocolate has those antioxidants mentioned earlier and helps protect the heart.

    Hey, why not go grab a bar right now?

    Posted in Uncategorized, Healthy Eating | No Comments »

    My Personal Trainers

    I resolved to lose weight at the beginning of the year. Thanks to my children, I am well on my way.

    You may wonder how a few children can help their mother in her pursuit of a svelte figure. Easy! Each time I make a plate or decide to have a snack, three little heads turn in my direction, six hands are held out, and three little mouths eat or drink most of whatever I have in my hand or on my plate.

    Not only this, but chasing them through the house does wonders for my exercise routine. I lift, bend, twist and stretch muscles that I never knew existed. My behind is on the path to rival even the tightest muscled fitness guru. Thanks to these little personal trainers, my husband thinks my legs are the sexiest ever.

    That’s right. Mommy is becoming the hottie she was before these munchkins caused the pregnancy weight gains.

    Lift your laundry baskets in salute of the hottie mommies all over the world, because we might not be able to afford Oprah’s personal trainer, but we have made our own. Viva toddlers!

    Posted in Uncategorized, Weight Management, Humor | 1 Comment »

    Holiday Eating For Diabetics.

    If you have diabetes, you probably look at the holidays with dread. All of the cookies, pies, tarts, and cakes that are offered by your friends and family can really wear on your determination to ‘be good’. If you follow a few simple guidelines, you can enjoy the holidays and the food that comes with them, safely.

    1. Eat a light meal before leaving home. A healthy snack can curb your appetite, making you less likely to over eat which can force your sugar levels to high numbers.

    2. Check your sugar levels before leaving home. Carry your glucose monitor with you, along with lancets and test strips. If you feel the slightest bit off kilter, excuse yourself to a restroom and check your glucose.

    3. Bring an insulin injection pen with you. You can discreetly inject yourself in a rest room. Have alcohol pads in your insulin kit. If you do not wish the host or other guests to know about your kit, pack it in a small soft cooler that can fit into a purse or coat pocket with a small ice packet.

    4. You don’t have to deny yourself from the dessert section. Just take much smaller portions.

    5. Do not eat any sugar laden or refined foods during the day or when you are not at a party or family gathering. Consider these outings as your treat and reward for carefully following a diet the rest of the weeks/month.

    Being a diabetic doesn’t mean losing out on sweets entirely. Everything in moderation and only when your sugar is in an acceptable range. Be sure to make healthy choices when you are eating, paying particular attention to vegetable side dishes. If you are filled with healthy foods it will be easier to not over indulge at the dessert table.

    Posted in Holidays, Diabetes | 2 Comments »

    Alternative Skin Cancer Treatment

    I use herbal and natural remedies for almost every illness or injury. You probably have seen I enjoy posting about kitchen spices that have health or medicinal benefits. We’ve spent too long relying on synthetic drugs to cure our ills, so long that thanks to that, we now have super bugs resistant to even the strongest antibiotics. Cancer runs rampant through our societies, with skin cancer attacking people of all ages.

    I try not to be preachy when telling others how natural remedies can prevent many health problems that people normally just pop a pill for. But, with prescription prices going through the roof, why wouldn’t someone want to know how to mak their own medicines for free or nearly free? Or what if you could buy herbal or alternative skin cancer treatment that lasts for a long time, avoiding the cut and burn treatments from the doctor?

    I’m concerned about cancer and especially skin cancer due to it running in my family. My aunt had an experience with malignant melanoma several years ago that gave us all a scare. A bad scare. I wish at that time I had known about the skin cancer cream you can buy at The Original Cream Company. Their creams are made from wild crafted herbs. Wildcrafted herbs are thought to be better for oils, creams, and teas than herbs grown in greenhouses. Wildcrafted means ‘picked in the wild’.

    The company also sells dog skin cancer cream, plus other creams for your best friend. I haven’t seen too many companies that serve humans and animals with the same level of care. Pretty cool, I think. Spend some time checking out the different creams and their new body wash. You just might find something for you.

    Next time I discuss herbs, we’re going to talk wild foods. Learn to make a salad from things you can find growing in your yard.(or close to it).

    Editors note: Alternative Skin Cancer treatments can sometimes be used in conjunction with medication and treatment prescribed by your physician.  Always consult your physician before modifying your treatment regime.

    Posted in Uncategorized, Herbs and Natural Remedies | 13 Comments »

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