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IN THIS ISSUE:
  • Cell Phone Safety

    With the recent WHO statement that cell phones may increase cancer risk, many are wondering what is the safest way to communicate.

  • Barriers To Keep Bambi Out of the Garden

    Bambi is cute, but you don’t want him or his friends getting into your garden to graze. Knowing what they like and don’t like can help keep them out.

  • Healthy Family Meals

    Here are some recipes for family meals that will make your mouth water, but they are also very healthy.

  • Exercise to Cut Cancer Risk

    Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of developing cancer, along with a healthy diet and weight.

  • Runners Need to Know Their Carbs

    Carbohydrates are an essential fuel for runners, but they need to be cautious about excessive amounts or the wrong form at the wrong time.

  • Manage Your Spring Fever

    Spring brings longer days, more sunshine, and warmer weather. It can actually take a little getting used to for those coming out of a long, dark winter.

  • Lighter Versions of Favorite Comfort Foods

    There’s no need to give up comfort foods with these lighter recipe re-makes.

  • Smell Therapy to Treat Veteran PTSD

    “Smell” therapy that takes soldiers back to the battlefield mentally may help them overcome post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • Don’t Let These Derail Your Diet

    Here are some tips on how to stay motivated and in control of your new healthy eating and lifestyle habits.

  • Meatless Meals

    Make a few more meatless meals in March. You will still be satisfied and will enjoy a variety of flavors.

  • Help Fido Lose Weight

    Obesity is a problem in the United States for more than just people. Many pets need to lose weight too.

  • What’s The Best Diet to Lose Weight

    Low fat? Low carb? Low calorie? Moderation? How does one choose the best diet for losing weight?

  • Storing Root Veggies

    Root vegetables are economical, nutritious, and they can last a long time–if stored properly.

  • Healthy Eating on a Budget

    Here are some tips on eating healthy while also stretching your dollars.

  • Top Expert Tips to Manage Weight

    Here are a list of tips to help manage weight from some of the top experts in the field.

  • Gluten Free Living

    Learning to live gluten free because of celiac disease or gluten intolerance takes a little more effort, but the health improvements are worth it.

  • Early Diagnosis Can Save Your Life

    Early diagnosis of colon cancer through screening is critical for a full recovery and clean bill of health. New advances in medicine are now making the screening process easier.

  • Be Conscious About Food

    Healthy eating takes some thought, planning, and a little bit of knowledge.

  • Diabetes Diagnosis and Changing Your Habits

    A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes is a wake up call for many to make the necessary lifestyle changes.

  • Foods To Keep Colds at Bay

    Eat these foods containing key vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to help you stay cold-free this winter.

  • Lose Weight, Stay Satisfied

    You don’t have to fight feelings of hunger to lose weight. There are very simple lifestyle changes that will keep you full while helping you to lose extra weight.

  • Holiday Drinks That Won’t Ruin Your Diet

    Some holiday beverages are notorious for being rich and high in calories, such as classic egg nog. Fortunately there are lighter alternatives.

  • Have a Healthy Holiday

    You can make some simple substitutions in your favorite holiday recipes to cut out extra calories while still keeping the taste and flavor you love.

  • Transition to Gluten Free Cooking

    No wheat, no barley, no rye..or anything made from those basic grains, no problem!

  • Cheap and Healthy Tips for College Kids

    It takes a little more planning than just dialing the pizza delivery number but college kids can eat a moderately healthy diet.

Cell Phone Safety

Posted June 4, 2011

What’s the closest distance to your ear that you should hold a cell phone? Don’t know? You probably should, said David O. Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment in the University at Albany’s School of Public Health.

“The manuals that come with cellphones all say ‘Don’t hold a cellphone closer than one inch from your head,’ but nobody knows that, because they don’t read the manual,” Carpenter said.

Given the World Health Organization’s recent statement that cellphones might increase cancer risk, you might want to dig that manual out of the cellphone box at the bottom of your closet and learn more about the safest way to use that device.

Though there’s still no definitive proof that using a cellphone can make you more susceptible to cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which develops cancer-prevention strategies for the WHO, has assessed the phones as “possibly carcinogenic,” the third-strongest designation on its carcinogen rating scale. Some said the statement proves what they have believed for years, that the radiofrequency energy released by cellphones may be dangerous. Others have been skeptical, pointing out that coffee and pickled vegetables have also been labeled as “possibly carcinogenic” at some point.

It’s never a bad idea, however, to practice safer cell phone usage, said Douglas Lyon, chairman of the computer engineering department at Fairfield University. “The bias right now seems to be toward ‘Better safe than sorry,’ ” Lyon said.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Well, reading the manual is a good start, as they usually tell you how close to your head you can safely hold your phone. Elaborating on his earlier statement, Carpenter said the exact distance varies depending on the phone, but it is usually close to an inch.

Try telling that to the students at Fairfield U., Lyon said. “The students always have their cell phones glued to their ear as they walk around,” he said. “I don’t know what they’re talking about. I think they’re talking about nothing.”

Lyon and Carpenter both advised phone users to stop pressing the devices into their skulls and switch to a hands-free apparatus. Carpenter said wireless ear pieces, such as a Bluetooth, can still expose you to some radiation, but wired headsets are a good option that can reduce exposure. If you don’t have either of these, you can hold the phone a short distance from your ear, or use the phone’s speaker mode.

Carpenter also strongly cautioned parents against letting their children use cellphones — for talking, at least. “Fortunately, most of the kids today are texting instead of talking,” he said.

Texting is thought to be safer, mainly because the phone is fairly fair away from your head when you let your fingers do the talking.

Lyon stopped short though of recommending you strip kids of their cellphones.

“I understand wanting your kids to have a cellphone, so they can stay in touch,” he said. But, if you must give your child a cellphone, he said, give them a headset as well.

Of course, there’s one way to eliminate your risk of exposure while staying in touch, Lyon said.

“If you have a land line,” said Lyon, “that’s the safest way to talk.”

Reach Amanda Cuda at acuda@ctpost.com or 203-330-6290. Follow at twitter.com/AmandaCuda.

To see more of the Connecticut Post, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.ctpost.com/.

Copyright © 2011, Connecticut Post, Bridgeport

What's the closest distance to your ear that you should hold a cell phone? Don't know? You probably should, said David O. Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment in the University at Albany's School of Public Health.

"The manuals that come with cellphones all say 'Don't hold a cellphone closer than one inch from your head,' but nobody knows that, because they don't read the manual," Carpenter said.

Given the World Health Organization's recent statement that cellphones might increase cancer risk, you might want to dig that manual out of the cellphone box at the bottom of your closet and learn more about the safest way to use that device.

Though there's still no definitive proof that using a cellphone can make you more susceptible to cancer, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which develops cancer-prevention strategies for the WHO, has assessed the phones as "possibly carcinogenic," the third-strongest designation on its carcinogen rating scale. Some said the statement proves what they have believed for years, that the radiofrequency energy released by cellphones may be dangerous. Others have been skeptical, pointing out that coffee and pickled vegetables have also been labeled as "possibly carcinogenic" at some point.

It's never a bad idea, however, to practice safer cell phone usage, said Douglas Lyon, chairman of the computer engineering department at Fairfield University. "The bias right now seems to be toward 'Better safe than sorry,' " Lyon said.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Well, reading the manual is a good start, as they usually tell you how close to your head you can safely hold your phone. Elaborating on his earlier statement, Carpenter said the exact distance varies depending on the phone, but it is usually close to an inch.

Try telling that to the students at Fairfield U., Lyon said. "The students always have their cell phones glued to their ear as they walk around," he said. "I don't know what they're talking about. I think they're talking about nothing."

Lyon and Carpenter both advised phone users to stop pressing the devices into their skulls and switch to a hands-free apparatus. Carpenter said wireless ear pieces, such as a Bluetooth, can still expose you to some radiation, but wired headsets are a good option that can reduce exposure. If you don't have either of these, you can hold the phone a short distance from your ear, or use the phone's speaker mode.

Carpenter also strongly cautioned parents against letting their children use cellphones -- for talking, at least. "Fortunately, most of the kids today are texting instead of talking," he said.

Texting is thought to be safer, mainly because the phone is fairly fair away from your head when you let your fingers do the talking.

Lyon stopped short though of recommending you strip kids of their cellphones.

"I understand wanting your kids to have a cellphone, so they can stay in touch," he said. But, if you must give your child a cellphone, he said, give them a headset as well.

Of course, there's one way to eliminate your risk of exposure while staying in touch, Lyon said.

"If you have a land line," said Lyon, "that's the safest way to talk."

Reach Amanda Cuda at acuda@ctpost.com or 203-330-6290. Follow at twitter.com/AmandaCuda.

To see more of the Connecticut Post, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.ctpost.com/.

Copyright © 2011, Connecticut Post, Bridgeport

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Barriers To Keep Bambi Out of the Garden

Posted May 28, 2011

Sometimes even a doe-eyed Bambi will wear out its welcome. Deer have been banned from many gardens, orchards and woodlots because they damage or destroy so many tender shoots, fragile saplings and emerging blooms.

“At high density, deer will eat just about anything on the landscape,” said Paul Curtis, an extension wildlife specialist with Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. “Orchard and nursery industry crops are particularly susceptible. It’s almost impossible to plant without some kind of deer protection.”

That can range from netting and fences (the latter at least 2.5 metres high and electrified) to free-ranging dogs, repellents and deer-resistant plants, often in combination.

The problem is huge. Deer numbers have ballooned from fewer than 500,000 nationwide in the early 1900s to a current 25 million to 30 million.

“New houses out in rural areas have become deer sanctuaries,” Curtis said. “Most (subdivisions) become no-hunting zones. That makes for subsidized grazing.”

Deer bring other costs, too, including automobile accidents, Lyme disease, and extensive wildflower and forest losses.

“They can really do a job on hardwood seedlings browsed during the winter months,” Curtis said. “Trillium and several kinds of lady’s slippers (orchids) are particularly sensitive to deer grazing. We have a seven-acre (almost three-hectare) wildflower garden on campus and we’ve had to put a 10-foot-high (three-metre-high) fence around it.”

Not everyone likes installing physical barriers, however.

“Part of having a garden is surely an attitude of wanting to be part of nature rather than shutting yourself off,” said Ruth Clausen, author of the new “50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants” (Timber Press).

No plant is deer-proof, Clausen said, but the animals are selective feeders and will ignore certain plants if offered alternatives.

“Many stunning plants are unpalatable to deer because of their poisonous compounds, fuzzy or aromatic leaves, tough, spiny or bristly textures,” she said.

Well-known plants that Clausen labels “deer candy,” likely to attract the foraging critters, include: phlox, azalea, chrysanthemum, clematis, daylilies, hostas, hydrangea, leaf lettuce, petunias, strawberries and ornamental sweet potato vines.

Plants considered deer-resistant include: certain marigolds, peonies, yarrow, bleeding hearts, many hellebores, English lavender, weigela, Japanese painted ferns, daffodils and ornamental grasses.

Other suggestions for reducing damage from deer:

Use combination planting in mixed beds and borders. Integrate at-risk plant species with deer-unfriendly natives.

Hang them high. That includes plants and birdfeeders. Remove shrubs or understory plants that give deer shelter and invite them to linger. Prune low-hanging limbs on fruit trees.

Place plant containers near the house or beyond the animals’ reach on patios and decks.

Add yard art or ornaments that frighten deer. Strips of light-reflecting aluminum and objects with moving parts often prove effective, Clausen said.

Orchard fruits, vineyard grapes and acorns littering the ground constitute a deer feast, Clausen said. Gather them up.

“Plants that are strongly aromatic usually are left alone,” she said. “That includes most herbs.”

Online:

For more about deer control in home gardens, check out this Cornell University fact sheet:

http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/deerdef/

ou can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick(at)netscape.net

Sometimes even a doe-eyed Bambi will wear out its welcome. Deer have been banned from many gardens, orchards and woodlots because they damage or destroy so many tender shoots, fragile saplings and emerging blooms.

"At high density, deer will eat just about anything on the landscape," said Paul Curtis, an extension wildlife specialist with Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. "Orchard and nursery industry crops are particularly susceptible. It's almost impossible to plant without some kind of deer protection."

That can range from netting and fences (the latter at least 2.5 metres high and electrified) to free-ranging dogs, repellents and deer-resistant plants, often in combination.

The problem is huge. Deer numbers have ballooned from fewer than 500,000 nationwide in the early 1900s to a current 25 million to 30 million.

"New houses out in rural areas have become deer sanctuaries," Curtis said. "Most (subdivisions) become no-hunting zones. That makes for subsidized grazing."

Deer bring other costs, too, including automobile accidents, Lyme disease, and extensive wildflower and forest losses.

"They can really do a job on hardwood seedlings browsed during the winter months," Curtis said. "Trillium and several kinds of lady's slippers (orchids) are particularly sensitive to deer grazing. We have a seven-acre (almost three-hectare) wildflower garden on campus and we've had to put a 10-foot-high (three-metre-high) fence around it."

Not everyone likes installing physical barriers, however.

"Part of having a garden is surely an attitude of wanting to be part of nature rather than shutting yourself off," said Ruth Clausen, author of the new "50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants" (Timber Press).

No plant is deer-proof, Clausen said, but the animals are selective feeders and will ignore certain plants if offered alternatives.

"Many stunning plants are unpalatable to deer because of their poisonous compounds, fuzzy or aromatic leaves, tough, spiny or bristly textures," she said.

Well-known plants that Clausen labels "deer candy," likely to attract the foraging critters, include: phlox, azalea, chrysanthemum, clematis, daylilies, hostas, hydrangea, leaf lettuce, petunias, strawberries and ornamental sweet potato vines.

Plants considered deer-resistant include: certain marigolds, peonies, yarrow, bleeding hearts, many hellebores, English lavender, weigela, Japanese painted ferns, daffodils and ornamental grasses.

Other suggestions for reducing damage from deer:

Use combination planting in mixed beds and borders. Integrate at-risk plant species with deer-unfriendly natives.

Hang them high. That includes plants and birdfeeders. Remove shrubs or understory plants that give deer shelter and invite them to linger. Prune low-hanging limbs on fruit trees.

Place plant containers near the house or beyond the animals' reach on patios and decks.

Add yard art or ornaments that frighten deer. Strips of light-reflecting aluminum and objects with moving parts often prove effective, Clausen said.

Orchard fruits, vineyard grapes and acorns littering the ground constitute a deer feast, Clausen said. Gather them up.

"Plants that are strongly aromatic usually are left alone," she said. "That includes most herbs."

Online:

For more about deer control in home gardens, check out this Cornell University fact sheet:

http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/deerdef/

ou can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick(at)netscape.net

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Healthy Family Meals

Posted May 15, 2011

As a writer, registered dietitian and mom of twins, Janet Helm is an expert in childhood and family nutrition. When she recently featured a new cookbook on her Nutrition Unplugged blog and website, we took notice.

Deliciously Healthy Family Meals is part of the “Keep the Beat” recipe series from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Health.

Not only does this free cookbook offer delicious, nutrient-rich recipes to help busy families get food on the table, it also provides tips for involving children in meal preparation. We’ll be adding the entire cookbook to MealsMatter.org, and featuring it in a new recipe series in the coming weeks and months.

We’re kicking off this new recipe series with a family meal that starts with Deliciously Healthy Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes paired with Rosemary Oven Fried Chicken and Strawberry Almond Parfaits. Other family-friendly recipes to enjoy all week long include Mini Chile Relleno Casseroles, Zesty Vegetable Salad, Garlic Roasted Red Skin Potato Soup and Spicy Caribbean Chicken Salad.

“Family Meals Matter” features recipes selected by registered dietitians from the thousands of user-contributed recipes available at our free online nutrition and meal-planning website, Meals Matter, sponsored by Dairy Council of California.

SHOPPING LIST (Includes ingredients to make at least four servings of each Featured Family Meal recipe)

QUINOA-STUFFED TOMATOES

4 medium (2 1-2 inches) tomatoes, rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons red onions, peeled and chopped

1 cup cooked mixed vegetables, such as peppers, corn, carrots or peas

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

One-half ripe avocado, peeled and diced

One-quarter teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley

ROSEMARY OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN

Two-thirds cup seasoned bread crumbs

One-third cup grated Parmesan cheese

Three-quarters teaspoon dried rosemary

Three-quarters teaspoon dried thyme

One-half teaspoon garlic powder

One-half teaspoon onion powder

Pepper to taste

1 1-5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 1-4 cup plain nonfat yogurt

STRAWBERRY ALMOND PARFAITS

1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix

2 cups fat-free milk

One-quarter teaspoon almond extract (optional)

2 pint baskets California strawberries, stemmed and sliced

2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)

1 1-2 cups Amaretti (almond cookie) crumbs

Mint sprigs

FEATURED FAMILY MEAL

Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/90363

4 medium (2 1/2 inches) tomatoes, rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons red onions, peeled and chopped

1 cup cooked mixed vegetables, such as peppers, corn, carrots or peas

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

One-half ripe avocado, peeled and diced

One-quarter teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and hollow out the insides. (The pulp can be saved for use in tomato soup, tomato sauce or salsa.) Set tomatoes aside.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 1-2 minutes.

Add cooked vegetables and heat through, about another 1-2 minutes.

Add quinoa and cook gently until it smells good, about 2 minutes.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover the pan. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid and is fully cooked, about 7-10 minutes.

When the quinoa is cooked, remove the lid and gently fluff quinoa with a fork. Gently mix in the avocado, pepper and parsley.

Carefully stuff about three-quarters cup of quinoa into each tomato.

Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until tomatoes are hot throughout.

Serve immediately.

Cook’s notes: Unprocessed quinoa must be washed thoroughly before it is used to remove a powdery coating called saponin, which has an unpleasant and bitter taste. Check your package for rinsing instructions. Leftover friendly tip: Use leftover vegetables in quinoa mixture. Make ahead tip: Tomatoes may be stuffed in advance and baked later.

Rosemary Oven Fried Chicken

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/10113

2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Pepper to taste

1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

1- 1/4 cups plain nonfat yogurt

Line baking sheet with foil and spray with Pam. Combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, rosemary, thyme, garlic, onion powder and pepper in plastic bag. Shake until ingredients are well mixed. Dip chicken in yogurt. Place in plastic bag and shake until well coated. Arrange chicken in single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs and spray lightly with Pam. Preheat oven to 400. Bake chicken 25-35 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Chicken can be cooled, wrapped individually, and frozen. Thaw in refrigerator overnight or heat directly from freezer in microwave on high until heated through 1-2 minutes. For crisp chicken broil 1-2 minutes after heating.

Strawberry Almond Parfaits

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/12506

1 package (3.4 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix

2 cup nonfat milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

2 pint baskets California strawberries, stemmed and sliced

2 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)

1-1/2 cup Amaretti (almond cookie) crumbs

Mint sprigs

In bowl, prepare pudding mix with milk as package directs, mixing in the almond extract; cover and refrigerate.

Sweeten strawberries with sugar; spoon about 3 tablespoons into each of six 8-to-10-ounce stemmed glasses. Layer each with 3 tablespoons cookie crumbs and 1/3 cup pudding. Top with the remaining strawberries and crumbs, dividing equally. Garnish with mint sprigs.

ADDITIONAL RECIPES

Mini Chile Relleno Casseroles

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/62133

Garlic Roasted Red Skin Potato Soup

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/9574

6 cups red skin potatoes, sliced in to 1-inch pieces

1/2 red pepper, washed, seeded, and cut in half

3 large garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup green onions, chopped (1/4 up for garnish)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

8 slices bacon

1 (14.5 oz.) can vegetable or chicken broth

1 (12 oz.) can nonfat evaporated milk

1 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (1/4 cup for garnish)

1 tablespoons sour cream

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut washed potatoes (skin on) into 1″ pieces. Place in large mixing bowl with red pepper, garlic, green onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper; toss until potatoes are well coated. Dump potatoes in a 13 x 9-inch pan; spread out into one layer. Roast for 40 min. Flip twice with spatula during cooking.

While potatoes are roasting. fry bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Crumble and set aside.

When potatoes have finished roasting, remove from oven. Place red pepper in small glass bowl covered with plastic wrap. Allow skin to soften and remove skin.

Place potato mixture, chicken broth and evaporated milk in a large saucepan. Stir gently to combine. Remove 1 1/2 cups of potato mixture and the skinned red pepper; pour into container of electric blender. Process until smooth. Return to saucepan.

Stir in bacon and cheese. Heat thoroughly over med-low heat (do not boil). Just before serving, stir in sour cream.

Garnish each serving with remaining cheese, bacon and onions.

Zesty Vegetable Salad

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/7758

10 fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 bottle (8 oz.) zesty Italian salad dressing

In a bowl, combine mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumbers and onion. Add dressing; toss to coat. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yield: 12 servings

Spicy Caribbean Chicken Salad

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/21180

2 cups water

4 green onions

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts

2/3 cup Chablis or other dry white wine

2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried whole thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced fresh pineapple

1/2 cup seedless red grapes, halved

1/2 cup nonfat mayo

Romaine lettuce leaves (optional)

1 tablespoons sliced green onions

Combine water and onions in large skillet; bring to boil over medium heat. Add chicken, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until cooked. Remove chicken, set aside and let cool. Discard cooking liquid, shred chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Combine wine and next nine ingredients in large heavy duty zip top plastic bag. Add chicken, seal bag, and marinate in refrigerator for two hours, turning bag occasionally. Drain, discard marinade.

Combine chicken, pineapple, grapes, and mayonnaise in a bowl and toss gently. Serve on a lettuce plate if desired. Top with sliced green onions.

For more healthy meal planning made simple, go to http://www.mealsmatter.org

© 2011, Dairy Council of California, MealsMatter.org.

As a writer, registered dietitian and mom of twins, Janet Helm is an expert in childhood and family nutrition. When she recently featured a new cookbook on her Nutrition Unplugged blog and website, we took notice.

Deliciously Healthy Family Meals is part of the "Keep the Beat" recipe series from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Health.

Not only does this free cookbook offer delicious, nutrient-rich recipes to help busy families get food on the table, it also provides tips for involving children in meal preparation. We'll be adding the entire cookbook to MealsMatter.org, and featuring it in a new recipe series in the coming weeks and months.

We're kicking off this new recipe series with a family meal that starts with Deliciously Healthy Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes paired with Rosemary Oven Fried Chicken and Strawberry Almond Parfaits. Other family-friendly recipes to enjoy all week long include Mini Chile Relleno Casseroles, Zesty Vegetable Salad, Garlic Roasted Red Skin Potato Soup and Spicy Caribbean Chicken Salad.

"Family Meals Matter" features recipes selected by registered dietitians from the thousands of user-contributed recipes available at our free online nutrition and meal-planning website, Meals Matter, sponsored by Dairy Council of California.

SHOPPING LIST (Includes ingredients to make at least four servings of each Featured Family Meal recipe)

QUINOA-STUFFED TOMATOES

4 medium (2 1-2 inches) tomatoes, rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons red onions, peeled and chopped

1 cup cooked mixed vegetables, such as peppers, corn, carrots or peas

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

One-half ripe avocado, peeled and diced

One-quarter teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley

ROSEMARY OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN

Two-thirds cup seasoned bread crumbs

One-third cup grated Parmesan cheese

Three-quarters teaspoon dried rosemary

Three-quarters teaspoon dried thyme

One-half teaspoon garlic powder

One-half teaspoon onion powder

Pepper to taste

1 1-5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 1-4 cup plain nonfat yogurt

STRAWBERRY ALMOND PARFAITS

1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix

2 cups fat-free milk

One-quarter teaspoon almond extract (optional)

2 pint baskets California strawberries, stemmed and sliced

2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)

1 1-2 cups Amaretti (almond cookie) crumbs

Mint sprigs

FEATURED FAMILY MEAL

Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/90363

4 medium (2 1/2 inches) tomatoes, rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons red onions, peeled and chopped

1 cup cooked mixed vegetables, such as peppers, corn, carrots or peas

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

One-half ripe avocado, peeled and diced

One-quarter teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cut off the tops of the tomatoes and hollow out the insides. (The pulp can be saved for use in tomato soup, tomato sauce or salsa.) Set tomatoes aside.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 1-2 minutes.

Add cooked vegetables and heat through, about another 1-2 minutes.

Add quinoa and cook gently until it smells good, about 2 minutes.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cover the pan. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid and is fully cooked, about 7-10 minutes.

When the quinoa is cooked, remove the lid and gently fluff quinoa with a fork. Gently mix in the avocado, pepper and parsley.

Carefully stuff about three-quarters cup of quinoa into each tomato.

Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until tomatoes are hot throughout.

Serve immediately.

Cook's notes: Unprocessed quinoa must be washed thoroughly before it is used to remove a powdery coating called saponin, which has an unpleasant and bitter taste. Check your package for rinsing instructions. Leftover friendly tip: Use leftover vegetables in quinoa mixture. Make ahead tip: Tomatoes may be stuffed in advance and baked later.

Rosemary Oven Fried Chicken

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/10113

2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Pepper to taste

1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

1- 1/4 cups plain nonfat yogurt

Line baking sheet with foil and spray with Pam. Combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, rosemary, thyme, garlic, onion powder and pepper in plastic bag. Shake until ingredients are well mixed. Dip chicken in yogurt. Place in plastic bag and shake until well coated. Arrange chicken in single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs and spray lightly with Pam. Preheat oven to 400. Bake chicken 25-35 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Chicken can be cooled, wrapped individually, and frozen. Thaw in refrigerator overnight or heat directly from freezer in microwave on high until heated through 1-2 minutes. For crisp chicken broil 1-2 minutes after heating.

Strawberry Almond Parfaits

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/12506

1 package (3.4 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix

2 cup nonfat milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

2 pint baskets California strawberries, stemmed and sliced

2 tablespoon sugar (or to taste)

1-1/2 cup Amaretti (almond cookie) crumbs

Mint sprigs

In bowl, prepare pudding mix with milk as package directs, mixing in the almond extract; cover and refrigerate.

Sweeten strawberries with sugar; spoon about 3 tablespoons into each of six 8-to-10-ounce stemmed glasses. Layer each with 3 tablespoons cookie crumbs and 1/3 cup pudding. Top with the remaining strawberries and crumbs, dividing equally. Garnish with mint sprigs.

ADDITIONAL RECIPES

Mini Chile Relleno Casseroles

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/62133

Garlic Roasted Red Skin Potato Soup

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/9574

6 cups red skin potatoes, sliced in to 1-inch pieces

1/2 red pepper, washed, seeded, and cut in half

3 large garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup green onions, chopped (1/4 up for garnish)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

8 slices bacon

1 (14.5 oz.) can vegetable or chicken broth

1 (12 oz.) can nonfat evaporated milk

1 1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (1/4 cup for garnish)

1 tablespoons sour cream

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut washed potatoes (skin on) into 1" pieces. Place in large mixing bowl with red pepper, garlic, green onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper; toss until potatoes are well coated. Dump potatoes in a 13 x 9-inch pan; spread out into one layer. Roast for 40 min. Flip twice with spatula during cooking.

While potatoes are roasting. fry bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Crumble and set aside.

When potatoes have finished roasting, remove from oven. Place red pepper in small glass bowl covered with plastic wrap. Allow skin to soften and remove skin.

Place potato mixture, chicken broth and evaporated milk in a large saucepan. Stir gently to combine. Remove 1 1/2 cups of potato mixture and the skinned red pepper; pour into container of electric blender. Process until smooth. Return to saucepan.

Stir in bacon and cheese. Heat thoroughly over med-low heat (do not boil). Just before serving, stir in sour cream.

Garnish each serving with remaining cheese, bacon and onions.

Zesty Vegetable Salad

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/7758

10 fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 bottle (8 oz.) zesty Italian salad dressing

In a bowl, combine mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumbers and onion. Add dressing; toss to coat. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon. Yield: 12 servings

Spicy Caribbean Chicken Salad

http://www.mealsmatter.org/recipes-meals/recipe/21180

2 cups water

4 green onions

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts

2/3 cup Chablis or other dry white wine

2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried whole thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced fresh pineapple

1/2 cup seedless red grapes, halved

1/2 cup nonfat mayo

Romaine lettuce leaves (optional)

1 tablespoons sliced green onions

Combine water and onions in large skillet; bring to boil over medium heat. Add chicken, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until cooked. Remove chicken, set aside and let cool. Discard cooking liquid, shred chicken into bite sized pieces and set aside.

Combine wine and next nine ingredients in large heavy duty zip top plastic bag. Add chicken, seal bag, and marinate in refrigerator for two hours, turning bag occasionally. Drain, discard marinade.

Combine chicken, pineapple, grapes, and mayonnaise in a bowl and toss gently. Serve on a lettuce plate if desired. Top with sliced green onions.

For more healthy meal planning made simple, go to www.mealsmatter.org

© 2011, Dairy Council of California, MealsMatter.org.

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Exercise to Cut Cancer Risk

Posted May 8, 2011

Geneva (dpa) – Studies have shown that regular exercise lowers the risk of developing cancer. Combined with a balanced diet and healthy body weight, it can cut the risk by up to a third, according to data from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The lower risk applies to diseases such as breast and intestinal cancer as well as heart disease and diabetes.

Adults should perform at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. “This can be achieved by simply walking 30 minutes five times per week or by cycling to work daily,” remarked Tim Armstrong, from the WHO’s Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion. He said a light exercise programme was advisable for people of all ages.

Each year, according to the WHO, 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 7.6 million die from the disease.

Geneva (dpa) - Studies have shown that regular exercise lowers the risk of developing cancer. Combined with a balanced diet and healthy body weight, it can cut the risk by up to a third, according to data from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The lower risk applies to diseases such as breast and intestinal cancer as well as heart disease and diabetes.

Adults should perform at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. "This can be achieved by simply walking 30 minutes five times per week or by cycling to work daily," remarked Tim Armstrong, from the WHO's Department of Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion. He said a light exercise programme was advisable for people of all ages.

Each year, according to the WHO, 12.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and 7.6 million die from the disease.

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Runners Need to Know Their Carbs

Posted April 30, 2011

Frankfurt (dpa) – The legs are heavy, the heartbeat rapid, the fatigue total. Many long-distance runners have experienced this state. Some then immediately ingest large amounts of glucose. Others say this only makes the fatigue worse.

In his bestselling book “Ultra-marathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner,” American running guru Dean Karnazes writes that he has completely eliminated refined sugar from his diet. Is sugar really so bad? It is a main ingredient, after all, in many energy drinks.

Sugar is a member of the carbohydrate family. Carbohydrates are found in foods are varied as whole-grain bread and vegetables, and enter the bloodstream at different speeds. “Slow” carbohydrates deliver energy longer, while “fast” carbohydrates give an immediate energy boost.

The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that measures how a food’s carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels, noted Thomas Konrad, director of the Institute of Metabolic Research (ISF) in Frankfurt.

High GI carbohydrates such as white bread and sweets cause blood sugar levels to rise very rapidly, Konrad explained. This prompts the body to release the hormone insulin. But is that bad?

“Insulin channels excess sugar from the blood into energy storage,” remarked German running coach and author Herbert Steffny, who was a professional marathon runner for many years. This is good during a run, he said, because muscles are supplied with fuel and carbohydrate reserves are built up.

“But you don’t burn calories when you snack in front of the television set,” he said. “Then the insulin works like a fattening hormone.” So when does a runner need sugar?

“Someone who likes to push it to the limit sometimes, runs for over an hour or is training for a moderate city run needs a quick source of energy during long training sessions,” said Hans Braun, a nutritionist at the German Sport University in Cologne. Such sources are primarily energy drinks, bars and gels, which contain a lot of sugar.

The question for leisure-time runners, though, is how strenuous must a training regimen be before “fast” carbohydrates are really necessary.

“You don’t need them at all either before or during a normal endurance run of up to an hour,” Steffny said. So leisure-time athletes with no ambitions to run a marathon should ban “fast” carbohydrates from their diet.

After training, too, it is a good idea to fill up the body’s energy stores with “slow” carbohydrates, Steffny said. They are found in foods including potatoes, vegetables, whole-grain bread and oat flakes. Sugar, on the other hand, is a fattener whether you are a runner or not. As a rule, it is unnecessary for most runners’ “normal” training runs.

The body requires a quick energy boost only during long training sessions or competition. Karnazes is a case in point. In his book, he lists the foods he ate during a 199-mile run, which included five chocolate cookies, four peanut butter sandwiches and a cheesecake.

In Braun’s view, it is sufficient for leisure-time runners when about half of their energy comes from carbohydrates.

“Someone training for a race definitely needs more, though,” noted Steffny, who also recommends high-quality protein after training. “You don’t need powder for that. Low-fat curd cheese, eggs and fish are cheaper,” he said, adding that about a quarter of the calories should come from high-quality oils and fats.

Frankfurt (dpa) - The legs are heavy, the heartbeat rapid, the fatigue total. Many long-distance runners have experienced this state. Some then immediately ingest large amounts of glucose. Others say this only makes the fatigue worse.

In his bestselling book "Ultra-marathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner," American running guru Dean Karnazes writes that he has completely eliminated refined sugar from his diet. Is sugar really so bad? It is a main ingredient, after all, in many energy drinks.

Sugar is a member of the carbohydrate family. Carbohydrates are found in foods are varied as whole-grain bread and vegetables, and enter the bloodstream at different speeds. "Slow" carbohydrates deliver energy longer, while "fast" carbohydrates give an immediate energy boost.

The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that measures how a food's carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels, noted Thomas Konrad, director of the Institute of Metabolic Research (ISF) in Frankfurt.

High GI carbohydrates such as white bread and sweets cause blood sugar levels to rise very rapidly, Konrad explained. This prompts the body to release the hormone insulin. But is that bad?

"Insulin channels excess sugar from the blood into energy storage," remarked German running coach and author Herbert Steffny, who was a professional marathon runner for many years. This is good during a run, he said, because muscles are supplied with fuel and carbohydrate reserves are built up.

"But you don't burn calories when you snack in front of the television set," he said. "Then the insulin works like a fattening hormone." So when does a runner need sugar?

"Someone who likes to push it to the limit sometimes, runs for over an hour or is training for a moderate city run needs a quick source of energy during long training sessions," said Hans Braun, a nutritionist at the German Sport University in Cologne. Such sources are primarily energy drinks, bars and gels, which contain a lot of sugar.

The question for leisure-time runners, though, is how strenuous must a training regimen be before "fast" carbohydrates are really necessary.

"You don't need them at all either before or during a normal endurance run of up to an hour," Steffny said. So leisure-time athletes with no ambitions to run a marathon should ban "fast" carbohydrates from their diet.

After training, too, it is a good idea to fill up the body's energy stores with "slow" carbohydrates, Steffny said. They are found in foods including potatoes, vegetables, whole-grain bread and oat flakes. Sugar, on the other hand, is a fattener whether you are a runner or not. As a rule, it is unnecessary for most runners' "normal" training runs.

The body requires a quick energy boost only during long training sessions or competition. Karnazes is a case in point. In his book, he lists the foods he ate during a 199-mile run, which included five chocolate cookies, four peanut butter sandwiches and a cheesecake.

In Braun's view, it is sufficient for leisure-time runners when about half of their energy comes from carbohydrates.

"Someone training for a race definitely needs more, though," noted Steffny, who also recommends high-quality protein after training. "You don't need powder for that. Low-fat curd cheese, eggs and fish are cheaper," he said, adding that about a quarter of the calories should come from high-quality oils and fats.

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Manage Your Spring Fever

Posted April 10, 2011

BERLIN — The weather is getting warmer and the days longer, the first buds are sprouting and birds are back to chirping in the morning. Not everyone enjoys spring, though. Some people suffer from spring fever, whose symptoms include circulatory problems, lethargy and tiredness. For them, the switch to summer time in late March is especially upsetting.

But there are two pieces of good news for those who lack a spring in their step when winter wanes. First, there are ways for people to recharge their batteries. Second, spring fever symptoms disappear no later than the end of April.

“By May, a balance has been reestablished,” said Thomas Weiss, a general practitioner and psychotherapist in the German city of Mannheim.

Spring fever is a sign that the body is acclimating to the new conditions, namely more ultraviolet (UV) radiation and warmth. Ill and elderly people have the greatest problems in adapting. And more women are affected than men, Weiss said.

The increased sunlight upsets the body’s hormonal balance. “More serotonin is produced because of the UV rays,” explained Michael Schellberg, a psychologist in Hamburg.

Serotonin is known as the “happiness hormone.” But it takes a while until serotonin has gained the upper hand over the hormone melatonin, which causes drowsiness. The body produces melatonin in greater amounts in the dark months of winter. The “struggle” between serotonin and melatonin exhausts the body.

Blood vessels also adjust to the warm season by expanding. Blood pressure drops and people become tired.

“A lot of bacteria become active at spring temperatures,” remarked Schellberg, noting another possible cause of fatigue. People often do not notice that they have an infection. Their bodies defend themselves without clear signs of illness, but they feel run-down.

The time switch in late March makes springtime even more difficult for sensitive people. Losing an hour can knock them off their stride for days or even weeks because every healthy person has a biological clock.

“It’s situated on the lower floor of the brain — in the hypothalamus, to be precise,” said Horst-Werner Korf, director of the Senckenberg Chronomedical Institute in Frankfurt. The hypothalamus is the seat of the autonomic nervous system — also known as the vegetative nervous system — and is responsible for such things as maintaining blood pressure, controlling body weight and appetite, and regulating sleep and arousal.

People are not at the mercy of the body’s adaptive inadequacies, however. To fight spring fatigue, Weiss recommends exercise, contrast showers, sauna sessions and stepping outside briefly without a jacket now and then during the cool months, for example to go to the mailbox.

“This boosts the body’s adaptability,” he said, adding that no-one would catch a cold from such a short outing into the cold. As regards saunas, he said it did not matter how hot they were. “What’s important is that cold comes afterwards,” he said. Taking a lukewarm shower after a sauna session has no beneficial effect.

The mind also plays an important role in spring fever, so having the right attitude helps.

“Some people don’t really feel up to spring with all its activities,” Schellberg said. They have made themselves comfortable during the winter months, perhaps with food high in calories. In spring, life becomes lively again. Though it is time to get off the sofa, some people prefer to prolong their winter hibernation and find an excuse for it in spring fever.

There is no problem with that. After all, experts say, by May at the latest everyone has overcome the seasonal lethargy.

“Then, like it or not, people start feeling frisky,” Schellberg remarked. But until then, he said, outdoor exercise and light meals can ease the transition.

To see more of dpa, go to http://www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html

Copyright © 2011, dpa, Berlin

BERLIN -- The weather is getting warmer and the days longer, the first buds are sprouting and birds are back to chirping in the morning. Not everyone enjoys spring, though. Some people suffer from spring fever, whose symptoms include circulatory problems, lethargy and tiredness. For them, the switch to summer time in late March is especially upsetting.

But there are two pieces of good news for those who lack a spring in their step when winter wanes. First, there are ways for people to recharge their batteries. Second, spring fever symptoms disappear no later than the end of April.

"By May, a balance has been reestablished," said Thomas Weiss, a general practitioner and psychotherapist in the German city of Mannheim.

Spring fever is a sign that the body is acclimating to the new conditions, namely more ultraviolet (UV) radiation and warmth. Ill and elderly people have the greatest problems in adapting. And more women are affected than men, Weiss said.

The increased sunlight upsets the body's hormonal balance. "More serotonin is produced because of the UV rays," explained Michael Schellberg, a psychologist in Hamburg.

Serotonin is known as the "happiness hormone." But it takes a while until serotonin has gained the upper hand over the hormone melatonin, which causes drowsiness. The body produces melatonin in greater amounts in the dark months of winter. The "struggle" between serotonin and melatonin exhausts the body.

Blood vessels also adjust to the warm season by expanding. Blood pressure drops and people become tired.

"A lot of bacteria become active at spring temperatures," remarked Schellberg, noting another possible cause of fatigue. People often do not notice that they have an infection. Their bodies defend themselves without clear signs of illness, but they feel run-down.

The time switch in late March makes springtime even more difficult for sensitive people. Losing an hour can knock them off their stride for days or even weeks because every healthy person has a biological clock.

"It's situated on the lower floor of the brain -- in the hypothalamus, to be precise," said Horst-Werner Korf, director of the Senckenberg Chronomedical Institute in Frankfurt. The hypothalamus is the seat of the autonomic nervous system -- also known as the vegetative nervous system -- and is responsible for such things as maintaining blood pressure, controlling body weight and appetite, and regulating sleep and arousal.

People are not at the mercy of the body's adaptive inadequacies, however. To fight spring fatigue, Weiss recommends exercise, contrast showers, sauna sessions and stepping outside briefly without a jacket now and then during the cool months, for example to go to the mailbox.

"This boosts the body's adaptability," he said, adding that no-one would catch a cold from such a short outing into the cold. As regards saunas, he said it did not matter how hot they were. "What's important is that cold comes afterwards," he said. Taking a lukewarm shower after a sauna session has no beneficial effect.

The mind also plays an important role in spring fever, so having the right attitude helps.

"Some people don't really feel up to spring with all its activities," Schellberg said. They have made themselves comfortable during the winter months, perhaps with food high in calories. In spring, life becomes lively again. Though it is time to get off the sofa, some people prefer to prolong their winter hibernation and find an excuse for it in spring fever.

There is no problem with that. After all, experts say, by May at the latest everyone has overcome the seasonal lethargy.

"Then, like it or not, people start feeling frisky," Schellberg remarked. But until then, he said, outdoor exercise and light meals can ease the transition.

To see more of dpa, go to http://www.dpa.de/English.82.0.html

Copyright © 2011, dpa, Berlin

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Lighter Versions of Favorite Comfort Foods

Posted April 3, 2011

Today I am cooking with recipes from the Taste of Homes Comfort Food Diet Cookbook. This one is the family classics collection, featuring remakes of many old familiar recipes.

There are 416 recipes, with new takes on casseroles, meat loaves, pizzas, and fried chicken. The color cover picture of a 30-minute skillet lasagna looks good enough to rip off and eat!

This cookbook makes it easy to eat healthy: Just follow the suggestions and use the calorie-friendly recipes in the 6-week plan spelled out in the front of the book.

It’s all the comfort foods you love, without the guilt.

The first recipe I tried was bananas foster sundaes. Wow, I can’t even describe how delicious they were — they may very well be the best sundaes I have ever eaten. I have never tried to make bananas foster because just looking at them stopped me in my tracks. They certainly looked too fancy and complicated for me to take on. But this is one of the easiest desserts I have ever made.

Regular bananas foster has a ton of calories. This recipe has only 233 per serving, but you won’t believe it’s a low-cal version — there were four of us here when I was cooking, and the platter was licked clean.

One of the samplers, a grandson home on leave from the Air Force, said he liked the healthier version better because they’re a little less rich and filling than the original. In other words, he was able to eat more.

If you never try any other recipes from this column, try these. The first 5 recipes below are from the Taste of Home Diet Cookbook Classics, with permission.

Happy eating!

Bananas foster sundaes

Yield: 6 servings

1 tablespoon butter

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon orange juice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1,4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 large firm bananas, sliced (rounds)

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

3 cups reduced-fat vanilla ice cream

In a large nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in brown sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, until blended. Add bananas and pecans; cook, stirring gently, for 2 or 3 minutes, or until bananas are glazed and slightly softened. Remove from heat; stir in extract. Serve with ice cream. Each serving — 1/3 cup banana mixture with 1/2 cup ice cream — equals 233 calories, 7g fat, 68mg sodium, 40g carbs, 2g fiber, 4g protein

Sweet and spicy

chicken drummies

Yield: 20 drumsticks

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

20 drumsticks, 5 ounces each

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cayenne. Add the drumsticks, a few at a time, seal and shake to coat.

Place chicken in two greased 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pans (cookie sheet with sides). Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. (A small amount of meat juices will form in the pans.)

Bake, uncovered at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear and a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees.

Favorite skillet lasagna

Yield: 5 servings

1/2 pound of turkey sausage links, casings removed

1 small onion, chopped

1 jar (14 ounces) spaghetti sauce

2 cups uncooked whole wheat egg noodles

1 cup water

1/2 cup chopped zucchini

1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

In a large nonstick skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until meat no longer is pink; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce, egg noodles, water, and zucchini.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, and parsley. Drop by tablespoonfuls over pasta mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese; cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.

1 cup equals 250 calories, 10g fat, 783mg sodium, 24g carbs, 3g fiber, 17g protein.

Sausage-potato bake

Yield: 6 servings

1/2 bulk pork sausage

3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, drained

3 eggs

1 cup 2 percent milk

2 tablespoons minced chives

3/4 teaspoons dried thyme or oregano

Additional minced chives, optional

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.

Arrange half the potatoes in a greased 8-inch square baking dish; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and half the sausage. Top with remaining potatoes and sausage; sprinkle with pimientos. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, chives, and thyme; pour over the top.

Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center, comes out clean. Uncover, bake 10 minutes longer or until lightly browned.

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

1 serving equals 202 calories, 11g fat, 407mg sodium, 18g carbs, 1g fiber, and 9g protein.

Caprese tomato bites

Yield: About 3 1/2 dozen

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

6 fresh basil leaves

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Scoop out and discard pulp of cherry tomatoes. Invert tomatoes onto a paper towel to drain.

In a food processor, combine the whipping cream, mozzarella cheese, basil and garlic; cover and process until blended.

Cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry or heavy duty resealable plastic. Fill with cheese mixture.

Turn over tomato halves; drizzle with vinegar. Pipe cheese mixture into tomatoes. Refrigerate until serving.

3 appetizers equal 63 calories, 5g fat, 27mg sodium, 2g carbs, trace fiber, 1g protein.

Simple salsa chicken

Makes 2 servings

2 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves (5 ounces each)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup salsa

2 tablespoons taco sauce

1/3 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend

Place chicken in a shallow 2-quart baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt. Combine salsa and taco sauce, drizzle over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear.

1 chicken breast half equals 226 calories, 7g fat, 601mg sodium, 5g carbs, trace fiber, 3g protein.

Hamburger hash skillet supper

Serves 4

1 pound boneless beef sirloin

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon garlic pepper

1 bag (1 pound) frozen potatoes, carrots, celery and onions

1 jar (12 ounces) beef gravy

Cut beef into thin strips (beef is easier to cut if partially frozen). Heat oil and garlic pepper in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook beef in oil, stirring occasionally, until brown.

Stir in vegetables and gravy; reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer 7 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Add water or beef broth if more liquid is needed.

NOTE: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and chicken gravy can be substituted for the sirloin and beef gravy to create a whole new delicious dinner. The frozen potato, carrot, celery and onion mixture called for in this recipe may be labeled “vegetables for stew” or “stew vegetables.”

1 serving equals 240 calories, 670mg sodium, 16g carbs, 3g fiber, 27g protein.

Readers are always asking for slow cooker recipes. Here is one of my favorites. I will have more soon!

Slow cooker pork chops with

cranberry-cornbread stuffing

Makes 6 servings

6 boneless pork loin chops, about 1 inch thick

2 teaspoons seasoned salt

1/2 bag (16-ounce size) cornbread stuffing (3 cups)

1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1/2 medium apple, chopped (1/2 cup)

1/2 medium onion, chopped (1/4 cup)

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Cranberry relish (see recipe below)

Place pork chops in large resealable food-storage plastic bag. Add seasoned salt; shake bag to coat pork.

Spray 5- to-6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In cooker, mix remaining ingredients, except pork chops and cranberry relish. Arrange pork chops on stuffing mixture.

Cover; cook on low heat setting 4 to 5 hours. Serve pork and stuffing with cranberry relish.

Cranberry relish

Prep time: 15 minutes.

2 cups washed raw cranberries

2 cored tart apples, cut into sections

1 large, whole (peel on) seedless orange, cut into sections

1 to 2 cups granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you like your relish)

Place ingredients in a food processor and chop. Do not over pulse or it will be mush.

NOTE: I have used Splenda in this, but it does not release the fruit sugars as well, and it’s a little dry — but not bad if you are watching your sugar intake.

Tip of the week (from of Alex Paschal): When peeling a banana, hold it upside down and pinch the bottom end between the thumb and forefinger and squeeze. The peel will split and make it easy to remove.

To see more of The Daily Gazette or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.saukvalley.com/.

Copyright © 2011, Daily Gazette, Sterling, Ill.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Today I am cooking with recipes from the Taste of Homes Comfort Food Diet Cookbook. This one is the family classics collection, featuring remakes of many old familiar recipes.

There are 416 recipes, with new takes on casseroles, meat loaves, pizzas, and fried chicken. The color cover picture of a 30-minute skillet lasagna looks good enough to rip off and eat!

This cookbook makes it easy to eat healthy: Just follow the suggestions and use the calorie-friendly recipes in the 6-week plan spelled out in the front of the book.

It's all the comfort foods you love, without the guilt.

The first recipe I tried was bananas foster sundaes. Wow, I can't even describe how delicious they were -- they may very well be the best sundaes I have ever eaten. I have never tried to make bananas foster because just looking at them stopped me in my tracks. They certainly looked too fancy and complicated for me to take on. But this is one of the easiest desserts I have ever made.

Regular bananas foster has a ton of calories. This recipe has only 233 per serving, but you won't believe it's a low-cal version -- there were four of us here when I was cooking, and the platter was licked clean.

One of the samplers, a grandson home on leave from the Air Force, said he liked the healthier version better because they're a little less rich and filling than the original. In other words, he was able to eat more.

If you never try any other recipes from this column, try these. The first 5 recipes below are from the Taste of Home Diet Cookbook Classics, with permission.

Happy eating!

Bananas foster sundaes

Yield: 6 servings

1 tablespoon butter

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon orange juice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1,4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 large firm bananas, sliced (rounds)

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

3 cups reduced-fat vanilla ice cream

In a large nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in brown sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, until blended. Add bananas and pecans; cook, stirring gently, for 2 or 3 minutes, or until bananas are glazed and slightly softened. Remove from heat; stir in extract. Serve with ice cream. Each serving -- 1/3 cup banana mixture with 1/2 cup ice cream -- equals 233 calories, 7g fat, 68mg sodium, 40g carbs, 2g fiber, 4g protein

Sweet and spicy

chicken drummies

Yield: 20 drumsticks

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 teaspoons pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

20 drumsticks, 5 ounces each

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cayenne. Add the drumsticks, a few at a time, seal and shake to coat.

Place chicken in two greased 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pans (cookie sheet with sides). Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. (A small amount of meat juices will form in the pans.)

Bake, uncovered at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear and a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees.

Favorite skillet lasagna

Yield: 5 servings

1/2 pound of turkey sausage links, casings removed

1 small onion, chopped

1 jar (14 ounces) spaghetti sauce

2 cups uncooked whole wheat egg noodles

1 cup water

1/2 cup chopped zucchini

1/2 cup fat-free ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, or 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

In a large nonstick skillet, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until meat no longer is pink; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce, egg noodles, water, and zucchini.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, and parsley. Drop by tablespoonfuls over pasta mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese; cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes longer, or until cheese is melted.

1 cup equals 250 calories, 10g fat, 783mg sodium, 24g carbs, 3g fiber, 17g protein.

Sausage-potato bake

Yield: 6 servings

1/2 bulk pork sausage

3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 jar (2 ounces) diced pimientos, drained

3 eggs

1 cup 2 percent milk

2 tablespoons minced chives

3/4 teaspoons dried thyme or oregano

Additional minced chives, optional

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.

Arrange half the potatoes in a greased 8-inch square baking dish; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and half the sausage. Top with remaining potatoes and sausage; sprinkle with pimientos. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, chives, and thyme; pour over the top.

Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center, comes out clean. Uncover, bake 10 minutes longer or until lightly browned.

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

1 serving equals 202 calories, 11g fat, 407mg sodium, 18g carbs, 1g fiber, and 9g protein.

Caprese tomato bites

Yield: About 3 1/2 dozen

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

6 fresh basil leaves

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Scoop out and discard pulp of cherry tomatoes. Invert tomatoes onto a paper towel to drain.

In a food processor, combine the whipping cream, mozzarella cheese, basil and garlic; cover and process until blended.

Cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry or heavy duty resealable plastic. Fill with cheese mixture.

Turn over tomato halves; drizzle with vinegar. Pipe cheese mixture into tomatoes. Refrigerate until serving.

3 appetizers equal 63 calories, 5g fat, 27mg sodium, 2g carbs, trace fiber, 1g protein.

Simple salsa chicken

Makes 2 servings

2 boneless, skinless, chicken breast halves (5 ounces each)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup salsa

2 tablespoons taco sauce

1/3 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend

Place chicken in a shallow 2-quart baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt. Combine salsa and taco sauce, drizzle over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear.

1 chicken breast half equals 226 calories, 7g fat, 601mg sodium, 5g carbs, trace fiber, 3g protein.

Hamburger hash skillet supper

Serves 4

1 pound boneless beef sirloin

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon garlic pepper

1 bag (1 pound) frozen potatoes, carrots, celery and onions

1 jar (12 ounces) beef gravy

Cut beef into thin strips (beef is easier to cut if partially frozen). Heat oil and garlic pepper in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook beef in oil, stirring occasionally, until brown.

Stir in vegetables and gravy; reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer 7 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Add water or beef broth if more liquid is needed.

NOTE: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and chicken gravy can be substituted for the sirloin and beef gravy to create a whole new delicious dinner. The frozen potato, carrot, celery and onion mixture called for in this recipe may be labeled "vegetables for stew" or "stew vegetables."

1 serving equals 240 calories, 670mg sodium, 16g carbs, 3g fiber, 27g protein.

Readers are always asking for slow cooker recipes. Here is one of my favorites. I will have more soon!

Slow cooker pork chops with

cranberry-cornbread stuffing

Makes 6 servings

6 boneless pork loin chops, about 1 inch thick

2 teaspoons seasoned salt

1/2 bag (16-ounce size) cornbread stuffing (3 cups)

1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1/2 medium apple, chopped (1/2 cup)

1/2 medium onion, chopped (1/4 cup)

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Cranberry relish (see recipe below)

Place pork chops in large resealable food-storage plastic bag. Add seasoned salt; shake bag to coat pork.

Spray 5- to-6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In cooker, mix remaining ingredients, except pork chops and cranberry relish. Arrange pork chops on stuffing mixture.

Cover; cook on low heat setting 4 to 5 hours. Serve pork and stuffing with cranberry relish.

Cranberry relish

Prep time: 15 minutes.

2 cups washed raw cranberries

2 cored tart apples, cut into sections

1 large, whole (peel on) seedless orange, cut into sections

1 to 2 cups granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you like your relish)

Place ingredients in a food processor and chop. Do not over pulse or it will be mush.

NOTE: I have used Splenda in this, but it does not release the fruit sugars as well, and it's a little dry -- but not bad if you are watching your sugar intake.

Tip of the week (from of Alex Paschal): When peeling a banana, hold it upside down and pinch the bottom end between the thumb and forefinger and squeeze. The peel will split and make it easy to remove.

To see more of The Daily Gazette or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.saukvalley.com/.

Copyright © 2011, Daily Gazette, Sterling, Ill.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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Smell Therapy to Treat Veteran PTSD

Posted April 1, 2011

It’s not quite smell-o-vision, but UCF researchers are kicking off a study that will combine a virtual-reality simulation of wartime scenes along with the “smells” of Middle East combat zones to help veterans overcome post-traumatic stress disorder.

Because smells are so acutely tied to memories, researchers hope that the combination of reliving painful experiences — along with the smells of war — will help Iraq and Afghanistan veterans overcome their anxieties.

Known as exposure therapy, the technique teaches people to face their fears by confronting them gradually. “If you’re afraid of a dog, how do you get over it? By being around a dog,” said Dr. Deborah Beidel, a University of Central Florida psychology professor who is leading the study.

In the program, Beidel and a team of therapists will use software programs known as Virtual Iraq and Virtual Afghanistan — which look like a video game but simulate the experience of being in those countries — to duplicate the traumatic experiences the soldier witnessed.

Gradually, the teams will take the soldier back through the experience, talking about it and reliving it until he or she overcomes the fear.

And though researchers have been using Virtual Iraq for several years, the smells, Beidel said, may be a key part of reliving the experience. The computer that runs the virtual-reality program is hooked up to a scent machine with 13 scents, ranging from burned rubber to gunpowder to “Middle Eastern spices.”

By pushing a button, therapists running the program can send off a puff of air that contains those scents — and have it travel right under the vet’s nose.

Adding scents to the Virtual Iraq package, said creator Skip Rizzo, a psychology professor at the University of Southern California, was designed to make the experience more realistic.

“Smell is a real primordial. You walk by a bakery, and it reminds you of being 5 years old and your grandmother baking bread. It has an incredible capacity to activate old memories,” he said.

For Vietnam veterans, he said, the smell of swamps or even the scent of Asian food triggered wartime memories.

If results from the UCF study are promising, they may become part of Veterans Affairs treatment programs throughout the country.

How big is the problem?

Rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been disproportionately high, according to a study by the Rand Corp. A third of returning troops have reported mental problems, and 18.5 percent of all returning service members battle either post-traumatic stress or depression.

Like Vietnam veterans — who said they dropped to the ground every time a helicopter flew overhead because that was how they were trained — many of today’s veterans find that the stresses they endured overseas have followed them home and are interfering with civilian life, Beidel said.

Some find themselves checking the sides of the road for IEDs while driving down Interstate 4. Although they know that the chance of a roadside bomb on a local interstate is remote, they can’t stop themselves.

The first step in treating vets for post-traumatic stress disorder, say therapists, is getting them to talk about their traumatic experiences, such as being attacked or ambushed, seeing dead bodies, being shot at or knowing someone who was killed or seriously hurt.

When asked about the events that may have sparked their post-traumatic stress, many vets provide only the basic details — a “just the facts” recitation of the events — said Rizzo. But in time, he said, therapists can help them open up and provide more detail.

Using that information, therapists can set up a virtual scenario that helps the vet walk through the experience again. In Virtual Iraq, the soldier can be placed in a Humvee, either driving, as a passenger or in the gun turret. He or she can go on street patrol through a city market or walk into a mosque.

The therapist then can add pieces to the scenario, including people running into the street, a roadside bomb exploding or a helicopter flying overhead. A car may explode in the marketplace or the passenger in the Humvee may get shot and slump over.

Though veterans experience many stressful encounters, Beidel said most can pinpoint one event that was the most traumatic — and it’s often the subject of their nightmares.

Reliving it, she said, can gradually reduce their anxiety.

“Their flashbacks are so anxiety-ridden that they can’t sleep, they can’t drive down I-4 without scanning for IEDs,” she said. “We’re trying to help them so they don’t have the flashbacks or they don’t feel nauseous every time they smell diesel fuel.”

> A tool, not a fix

For the UCF study, 120 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder will be recruited in two locations, UCF and the Medical University of South Carolina. The veterans will be divided into two groups.

For the first five weeks, all the vets will use the Virtual Iraq or Virtual Afghanistan video simulation, along with the smells. For the remaining 12 weeks, half of the veterans will receive group therapy aimed at helping with social and emotional problems, including problem-solving and anger-management training. The other half will receive standard mental-health treatment that they would receive at VA hospitals or clinics.

Funded by the U.S. Army, the study’s researchers are recruiting veterans to participate.

The challenge for researchers and mental-health professionals has been getting vets to stick with treatment without dropping out.

But Beidel and Rizzo think that this type of treatment — using a virtual-reality scenario that looks a lot like a video game — may appeal to this generation of vets more than traditional therapy.

“We’ve got a generation of soldiers who grew up digitally, so they’re at home with the technology,” Rizzo said. “You may draw somebody in with this, by saying, ‘We’re gong to put you in a video game.’ ”

And though there’s no chance for revenge — or even fighting — reliving the experience can change their lives.

“The technology doesn’t fix anybody,” Rizzo said. “It’s a tool for the therapist.

“When you do this and you put somebody in that environment, a good therapist will say, ‘Let’s do it again, but take me back to an hour before this’ — and eventually they open up.

“These guys are bound up when you first see them, but at some point all of a sudden the stories start coming out,” Rizzo said. “And they start talking to someone about something they haven’t talked about before.”

lshrieves@tribune.com or 407-420-5433

To participate

Wanted: Military service men and women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and who are seeking treatment for combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

Treatment is free.

For information, call 407-823-1668. A study organizer will interview you over the telephone and then may ask participants to go to UCF for a more complete interview. Those not accepted into the study will be directed to other places for treatment.

To see more of The Orlando Sentinel or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.OrlandoSentinel.com.

Copyright © 2011, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.

It's not quite smell-o-vision, but UCF researchers are kicking off a study that will combine a virtual-reality simulation of wartime scenes along with the "smells" of Middle East combat zones to help veterans overcome post-traumatic stress disorder.

Because smells are so acutely tied to memories, researchers hope that the combination of reliving painful experiences -- along with the smells of war -- will help Iraq and Afghanistan veterans overcome their anxieties.

Known as exposure therapy, the technique teaches people to face their fears by confronting them gradually. "If you're afraid of a dog, how do you get over it? By being around a dog," said Dr. Deborah Beidel, a University of Central Florida psychology professor who is leading the study.

In the program, Beidel and a team of therapists will use software programs known as Virtual Iraq and Virtual Afghanistan -- which look like a video game but simulate the experience of being in those countries -- to duplicate the traumatic experiences the soldier witnessed.

Gradually, the teams will take the soldier back through the experience, talking about it and reliving it until he or she overcomes the fear.

And though researchers have been using Virtual Iraq for several years, the smells, Beidel said, may be a key part of reliving the experience. The computer that runs the virtual-reality program is hooked up to a scent machine with 13 scents, ranging from burned rubber to gunpowder to "Middle Eastern spices."

By pushing a button, therapists running the program can send off a puff of air that contains those scents -- and have it travel right under the vet's nose.

Adding scents to the Virtual Iraq package, said creator Skip Rizzo, a psychology professor at the University of Southern California, was designed to make the experience more realistic.

"Smell is a real primordial. You walk by a bakery, and it reminds you of being 5 years old and your grandmother baking bread. It has an incredible capacity to activate old memories," he said.

For Vietnam veterans, he said, the smell of swamps or even the scent of Asian food triggered wartime memories.

If results from the UCF study are promising, they may become part of Veterans Affairs treatment programs throughout the country.

How big is the problem?

Rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury among troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan have been disproportionately high, according to a study by the Rand Corp. A third of returning troops have reported mental problems, and 18.5 percent of all returning service members battle either post-traumatic stress or depression.

Like Vietnam veterans -- who said they dropped to the ground every time a helicopter flew overhead because that was how they were trained -- many of today's veterans find that the stresses they endured overseas have followed them home and are interfering with civilian life, Beidel said.

Some find themselves checking the sides of the road for IEDs while driving down Interstate 4. Although they know that the chance of a roadside bomb on a local interstate is remote, they can't stop themselves.

The first step in treating vets for post-traumatic stress disorder, say therapists, is getting them to talk about their traumatic experiences, such as being attacked or ambushed, seeing dead bodies, being shot at or knowing someone who was killed or seriously hurt.

When asked about the events that may have sparked their post-traumatic stress, many vets provide only the basic details -- a "just the facts" recitation of the events -- said Rizzo. But in time, he said, therapists can help them open up and provide more detail.

Using that information, therapists can set up a virtual scenario that helps the vet walk through the experience again. In Virtual Iraq, the soldier can be placed in a Humvee, either driving, as a passenger or in the gun turret. He or she can go on street patrol through a city market or walk into a mosque.

The therapist then can add pieces to the scenario, including people running into the street, a roadside bomb exploding or a helicopter flying overhead. A car may explode in the marketplace or the passenger in the Humvee may get shot and slump over.

Though veterans experience many stressful encounters, Beidel said most can pinpoint one event that was the most traumatic -- and it's often the subject of their nightmares.

Reliving it, she said, can gradually reduce their anxiety.

"Their flashbacks are so anxiety-ridden that they can't sleep, they can't drive down I-4 without scanning for IEDs," she said. "We're trying to help them so they don't have the flashbacks or they don't feel nauseous every time they smell diesel fuel."

> A tool, not a fix

For the UCF study, 120 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder will be recruited in two locations, UCF and the Medical University of South Carolina. The veterans will be divided into two groups.

For the first five weeks, all the vets will use the Virtual Iraq or Virtual Afghanistan video simulation, along with the smells. For the remaining 12 weeks, half of the veterans will receive group therapy aimed at helping with social and emotional problems, including problem-solving and anger-management training. The other half will receive standard mental-health treatment that they would receive at VA hospitals or clinics.

Funded by the U.S. Army, the study's researchers are recruiting veterans to participate.

The challenge for researchers and mental-health professionals has been getting vets to stick with treatment without dropping out.

But Beidel and Rizzo think that this type of treatment -- using a virtual-reality scenario that looks a lot like a video game -- may appeal to this generation of vets more than traditional therapy.

"We've got a generation of soldiers who grew up digitally, so they're at home with the technology," Rizzo said. "You may draw somebody in with this, by saying, 'We're gong to put you in a video game.' "

And though there's no chance for revenge -- or even fighting -- reliving the experience can change their lives.

"The technology doesn't fix anybody," Rizzo said. "It's a tool for the therapist.

"When you do this and you put somebody in that environment, a good therapist will say, 'Let's do it again, but take me back to an hour before this' -- and eventually they open up.

"These guys are bound up when you first see them, but at some point all of a sudden the stories start coming out," Rizzo said. "And they start talking to someone about something they haven't talked about before."

lshrieves@tribune.com or 407-420-5433

To participate

Wanted: Military service men and women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and who are seeking treatment for combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

Treatment is free.

For information, call 407-823-1668. A study organizer will interview you over the telephone and then may ask participants to go to UCF for a more complete interview. Those not accepted into the study will be directed to other places for treatment.

To see more of The Orlando Sentinel or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.OrlandoSentinel.com.

Copyright © 2011, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.

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Don’t Let These Derail Your Diet

Posted Mar 19, 2011

HOW TO … STOP YOUR DIET SABOTEURS

Certain people and situations can derail the best diet and exercise intentions. But you can overcome them, says Dr. Thomas Clark, a bariatric surgeon and medical director of the Center for Weight Loss Success in Newport News, Va. Here’s how:

Don’t get in your own way. You’re in control of your behavior. Erase the word “can’t” from your self-talk: it’s not that you “can’t” exercise or eat right, but that you “won’t.” Change that.

Be assertive with family and friends. The people you need for support often are the ones encouraging you to have a treat, celebrate or just eat one more bite. Explain your goals in a heart-to-heart talk and ask for their help.

Don’t go crazy on vacation … Yes, you deserve to “let loose” – but you can also have fun in moderation, taste new healthy foods, try different activities and work in exercise with walks, runs or visits to the hotel fitness center.

… or at parties. Focus on socializing, not eating. Eat a healthy snack in advance to curb your hunger and then have small portions of your very favorite party foods. Limit alcoholic beverages, which can be high in calories and reduce self-control. Try holding a cup of water in your dominant hand – you’ll be less likely to pick at food.

Change your co-workers. Offices tend to celebrate often with cookies, cake or donuts. Tell co-workers you’re trying to change and ask if they want to join you. If that doesn’t work, avoid the break room and bring your own meals and snacks.

Protect yourself. Identify situations that might ruin your progress and think about avoiding them until you’ve formed new eating habits.

HOW TO ... STOP YOUR DIET SABOTEURS

Certain people and situations can derail the best diet and exercise intentions. But you can overcome them, says Dr. Thomas Clark, a bariatric surgeon and medical director of the Center for Weight Loss Success in Newport News, Va. Here's how:

Don't get in your own way. You're in control of your behavior. Erase the word "can't" from your self-talk: it's not that you "can't" exercise or eat right, but that you "won't." Change that.

Be assertive with family and friends. The people you need for support often are the ones encouraging you to have a treat, celebrate or just eat one more bite. Explain your goals in a heart-to-heart talk and ask for their help.

Don't go crazy on vacation ... Yes, you deserve to "let loose" - but you can also have fun in moderation, taste new healthy foods, try different activities and work in exercise with walks, runs or visits to the hotel fitness center.

... or at parties. Focus on socializing, not eating. Eat a healthy snack in advance to curb your hunger and then have small portions of your very favorite party foods. Limit alcoholic beverages, which can be high in calories and reduce self-control. Try holding a cup of water in your dominant hand - you'll be less likely to pick at food.

Change your co-workers. Offices tend to celebrate often with cookies, cake or donuts. Tell co-workers you're trying to change and ask if they want to join you. If that doesn't work, avoid the break room and bring your own meals and snacks.

Protect yourself. Identify situations that might ruin your progress and think about avoiding them until you've formed new eating habits.

---

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Meatless Meals

Posted Mar 13, 2011

You might not be able to imagine going without meat for a month, but once a week is certainly doable.

Nutritionists and food experts in the United States lament our love affair with meat protein (beef, chicken, turkey pork, lamb) — we eat more than any other nation, and it’s not helping our health.

How much meat do we eat? Annually, the average American consumes 62.4 pounds of beef, 46.5 pounds of pork and 73.6 pounds of poultry, according to 2010 figures from a variety of federal government agencies that track nutrition and health.

What we forget is that while everyone needs protein in their diets, it doesn’t have to come from meat. Fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes and nuts all have substantial amounts. (We eat about 16 pounds of fish and shellfish annually.)

So, there’s no need to worry about not getting enough protein in your diet if you skip eating meat once a week.

These tasty meals lean heavily on seafood, from the humble can of water-packed tuna to shrimp; they could become regulars on your table — and not just on Friday nights during Lent. Plus, you’ll find a fancy mac and cheese recipe and two vegetarian soups.

Round out these meals with a nice crisp salad and you’ve got dinner.

Tortellini with Salmon-Ricotta Sauce

1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini

2 green onions, sliced

1 teaspoon butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 cup fat-free milk

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese

1 pouch (7.1 ounces) boneless skinless pink salmon

2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dill weed

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute onions in butter until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Combine cornstarch and milk until smooth; gradually stir into the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Stir in mozzarella cheese until melted. Stir in the ricotta cheese, salmon, dill, lemon peel, lemon juice and salt.

Drain tortellini; add to ricotta sauce. Cook and stir until heated through.

Yield: 4 servings of 1 cup each with 373 calories, 11 grams fat, 67 mg cholesterol, 797 mg sodium, 40 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 28 grams protein. Diabetic exchanges: 3 medium-fat meat, 2 1/2 starch.

— “Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook”

Light-But-Hearty Tuna Casserole Recipe

3 cups uncooked yolk-free noodles

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat reduced-sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1/2 cup fat-free milk

2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

1 can (5 ounces) white water-packed solid tuna

1 jar (6 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained

1/4 cup chopped roasted sweet red pepper

TOPPING:

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the soup, milk, mayonnaise and mustard. Stir in the tuna, mushrooms and red pepper.

Drain noodles; add to soup mixture and stir until blended. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over casserole. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Yield: 4 (1 1/2-cup) servings, each with 322 calories, 9 grams fat, 32 mg cholesterol, 843 mg sodium, 39 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 18 grams protein.

— “Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook”

ROASTED RED PEPPER SOUP WITH SMOKED GOUDA

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces

1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 (14.5-ounce) cans reduced sodium, fat-free chicken broth

2 teaspoons dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda

Heat olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add carrots, roasted red peppers, garlic, chicken broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove from heat. Carefully use an immersion blender and puree soup or ladle soup, in batches, into a blender, vent cover and puree soup.

Return soup puree to saucepan; add cheese.

Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.

Makes 4 servings (total yield 5 cups), each 1 1/4 cups with 161 calories, 10 grams total fat, 16 mg cholesterol, 15 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 165 mg sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.

Shopping tips: Look for roasted red peppers in the produce aisle or the condiments aisle, often near the olives. Refrigerate remaining peppers in the jar.

Look for Gouda as a small wheel (often covered in wax) in the deli section; it doesn’t come preshredded.

Cooking tip: An immersion blender is a cool little handheld stick with a rotary blade on the end to puree soup right in the pot. They’re a fairly inexpensive appliance, but you can use a blender if you prefer. Just be sure to allow the soup to cool slightly and vent the top before pureeing to avoid splatters on the ceiling.

Serving tip: If you have fresh basil in the fridge, add a leaf to this brilliant red-orange soup for a bit of gourmet style.

— McClatchy Newspapers

FRESH SPINACH SOUP

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 small leek, thinly sliced

1 pound baby spinach, washed

4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon curry powder (more for extra heat)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the butter or oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and leeks, and cook until soft, stirring frequently, 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn heat to high. Add the spinach and the stock to the pan. Cook until the spinach completely wilts and is tender, about 5 minutes.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Return the puree to the pan and stir in the cream and the curry powder. Gently reheat the soup, but don’t allow it to boil. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot. Makes: 4 servings.

— Earthbound Farm Organic products (www.ebfarm.com)

MEXICAN SALMON-SALAD SANDWICHES

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup tomatillo or verde salsa

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can salmon, drained and deboned

1 ripe avocado

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

4 (7-inch) pitas

2 cups baby romaine lettuce leaves

Stir the mayonnaise and lime juice into the salsa in a medium bowl. Flake the salmon into the salsa mixture, leaving the pieces large.

Halve, seed and peel the avocado, and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 cup). Fold it into the salmon mixture, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice open the tops of the pitas. Divide the salmon mixture and romaine among them, and serve.

Makes 4 servings, each with 563 calories, 32 grams fat, 53 mg cholesterol, 28 gram protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 565 mg sodium.

— Adapted from” Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners”

Sweet & Sour Shrimp with Noodles

8 uncooked lasagna noodles

1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth

1/4 cup water

3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

2 small onions

1 medium green bell pepper

1 medium red bell pepper

1 pound medium uncooked shrimp (41-50 per pound), peeled and deveined, tails removed

3 tablespoons Asian Seasoning Mix–

2/3 cup sweet-and-sour sauce

1 cup diced fresh pineapple

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1. Break noodles crosswise into narrow strips. Combine noodles, broth, water and garlic in deep baking dish. Microwave, covered, on high 14-16 minutes, or until noodles are tender, stirring every 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cut onions lengthwise into wedges and dice bell peppers.

3. Combine shrimp and seasoning mix in bowl; mix well. Let sit for a few minutes.

4. Add onions and peppers to baking dish. Microwave, covered, on high 2-3 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender.

5. Add shrimp and sauce to baking dish; stir. Microwave, covered, on high 3-5 minutes or until centers of shrimp are opaque. Carefully remove dish from microwave; stir in pineapple and basil.

Makes 6 servings, each with 260 calories, 2.4 grams total fat, 115 mg cholesterol, 39 grams carbohydrates, 22 grams protein, 410 mg sodium, 3 grams fiber. Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 starch, 1/2 fruit, 2 low-fat meat (21/2 carb).

–You can make your own Asian Seasoning Mix by combining 2 teaspoons grated fresh gingerroot, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 minced garlic clove and

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper.

— Pampered Chef

Easy Crab Cakes

2 cans (6 ounces each) crabmeat, drained, flaked and cartilage removed

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs, divided

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

1/4 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon butter

In a large bowl, combine the crab, 1/3 cup bread crumbs, egg, onions, red pepper, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic powder and cayenne.

Divide mixture into eight portions; shape into 2-inch balls. Roll in remaining bread crumbs. Flatten to 1/2-inch thickness. In a large nonstick skillet, cook crab cakes in butter 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Yield: 4 servings (2 crab cakes) with 295 calories, 12 grams fat, 142 mg cholesterol, 879 mg sodium, 23 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 23 grams protein. Diabetic exchanges: 3 very lean meat, 1 1/2 starch, 1 1/2 fat.

— Light & Tasty, June/July 2005

Four-Cheese Pasta Florentine

3 cups mostaccioli, uncooked

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach

4 ounces cream cheese, cubed

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

2 eggs

1 package (8 ounces) part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt.

Meanwhile, cook spinach as directed on package; drain well. Place in large bowl. Add cream cheese; stir until melted.

Stir in cottage cheese and eggs until well blended.

Drain pasta. Add to spinach mixture with mozzarella; mix lightly. Spoon into dish; top with Parmesan.

Bake 25 minutes, or until center is set.

Serves 4, each with 690 calories, 28 grams fat, 195 mg cholesterol, 950 mg sodium, 69 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 42 grams protein, 6 grams sugar.

— Kraftrecipes.com

—–

To see more of the Belleville News-Democrat, Ill., or to subscribe, visit http://www.belleville.com.

Copyright © 2011, Belleville News-Democrat, Ill.

You might not be able to imagine going without meat for a month, but once a week is certainly doable.

Nutritionists and food experts in the United States lament our love affair with meat protein (beef, chicken, turkey pork, lamb) -- we eat more than any other nation, and it's not helping our health.

How much meat do we eat? Annually, the average American consumes 62.4 pounds of beef, 46.5 pounds of pork and 73.6 pounds of poultry, according to 2010 figures from a variety of federal government agencies that track nutrition and health.

What we forget is that while everyone needs protein in their diets, it doesn't have to come from meat. Fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes and nuts all have substantial amounts. (We eat about 16 pounds of fish and shellfish annually.)

So, there's no need to worry about not getting enough protein in your diet if you skip eating meat once a week.

These tasty meals lean heavily on seafood, from the humble can of water-packed tuna to shrimp; they could become regulars on your table -- and not just on Friday nights during Lent. Plus, you'll find a fancy mac and cheese recipe and two vegetarian soups.

Round out these meals with a nice crisp salad and you've got dinner.

Tortellini with Salmon-Ricotta Sauce

1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini

2 green onions, sliced

1 teaspoon butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1 cup fat-free milk

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese

1 pouch (7.1 ounces) boneless skinless pink salmon

2 tablespoons snipped fresh dill or 2 teaspoons dill weed

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, saute onions in butter until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Combine cornstarch and milk until smooth; gradually stir into the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Stir in mozzarella cheese until melted. Stir in the ricotta cheese, salmon, dill, lemon peel, lemon juice and salt.

Drain tortellini; add to ricotta sauce. Cook and stir until heated through.

Yield: 4 servings of 1 cup each with 373 calories, 11 grams fat, 67 mg cholesterol, 797 mg sodium, 40 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 28 grams protein. Diabetic exchanges: 3 medium-fat meat, 2 1/2 starch.

-- "Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook"

Light-But-Hearty Tuna Casserole Recipe

3 cups uncooked yolk-free noodles

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat reduced-sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1/2 cup fat-free milk

2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

1 can (5 ounces) white water-packed solid tuna

1 jar (6 ounces) sliced mushrooms, drained

1/4 cup chopped roasted sweet red pepper

TOPPING:

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the soup, milk, mayonnaise and mustard. Stir in the tuna, mushrooms and red pepper.

Drain noodles; add to soup mixture and stir until blended. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine topping ingredients; sprinkle over casserole. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Yield: 4 (1 1/2-cup) servings, each with 322 calories, 9 grams fat, 32 mg cholesterol, 843 mg sodium, 39 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 18 grams protein.

-- "Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet Cookbook"

ROASTED RED PEPPER SOUP WITH SMOKED GOUDA

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces

1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 (14.5-ounce) cans reduced sodium, fat-free chicken broth

2 teaspoons dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda

Heat olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Add carrots, roasted red peppers, garlic, chicken broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove from heat. Carefully use an immersion blender and puree soup or ladle soup, in batches, into a blender, vent cover and puree soup.

Return soup puree to saucepan; add cheese.

Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted.

Makes 4 servings (total yield 5 cups), each 1 1/4 cups with 161 calories, 10 grams total fat, 16 mg cholesterol, 15 grams carbohydrates, 14 grams protein, 165 mg sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.

Shopping tips: Look for roasted red peppers in the produce aisle or the condiments aisle, often near the olives. Refrigerate remaining peppers in the jar.

Look for Gouda as a small wheel (often covered in wax) in the deli section; it doesn't come preshredded.

Cooking tip: An immersion blender is a cool little handheld stick with a rotary blade on the end to puree soup right in the pot. They're a fairly inexpensive appliance, but you can use a blender if you prefer. Just be sure to allow the soup to cool slightly and vent the top before pureeing to avoid splatters on the ceiling.

Serving tip: If you have fresh basil in the fridge, add a leaf to this brilliant red-orange soup for a bit of gourmet style.

-- McClatchy Newspapers

FRESH SPINACH SOUP

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

2 tablespoons minced shallot

1 small leek, thinly sliced

1 pound baby spinach, washed

4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon curry powder (more for extra heat)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the butter or oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and leeks, and cook until soft, stirring frequently, 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn heat to high. Add the spinach and the stock to the pan. Cook until the spinach completely wilts and is tender, about 5 minutes.

Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor. Return the puree to the pan and stir in the cream and the curry powder. Gently reheat the soup, but don't allow it to boil. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot. Makes: 4 servings.

-- Earthbound Farm Organic products (www.ebfarm.com)

MEXICAN SALMON-SALAD SANDWICHES

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup tomatillo or verde salsa

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can salmon, drained and deboned

1 ripe avocado

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

4 (7-inch) pitas

2 cups baby romaine lettuce leaves

Stir the mayonnaise and lime juice into the salsa in a medium bowl. Flake the salmon into the salsa mixture, leaving the pieces large.

Halve, seed and peel the avocado, and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1 cup). Fold it into the salmon mixture, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice open the tops of the pitas. Divide the salmon mixture and romaine among them, and serve.

Makes 4 servings, each with 563 calories, 32 grams fat, 53 mg cholesterol, 28 gram protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 565 mg sodium.

-- Adapted from" Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners"

Sweet & Sour Shrimp with Noodles

8 uncooked lasagna noodles

1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken broth

1/4 cup water

3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

2 small onions

1 medium green bell pepper

1 medium red bell pepper

1 pound medium uncooked shrimp (41-50 per pound), peeled and deveined, tails removed

3 tablespoons Asian Seasoning Mix--

2/3 cup sweet-and-sour sauce

1 cup diced fresh pineapple

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1. Break noodles crosswise into narrow strips. Combine noodles, broth, water and garlic in deep baking dish. Microwave, covered, on high 14-16 minutes, or until noodles are tender, stirring every 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cut onions lengthwise into wedges and dice bell peppers.

3. Combine shrimp and seasoning mix in bowl; mix well. Let sit for a few minutes.

4. Add onions and peppers to baking dish. Microwave, covered, on high 2-3 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender.

5. Add shrimp and sauce to baking dish; stir. Microwave, covered, on high 3-5 minutes or until centers of shrimp are opaque. Carefully remove dish from microwave; stir in pineapple and basil.

Makes 6 servings, each with 260 calories, 2.4 grams total fat, 115 mg cholesterol, 39 grams carbohydrates, 22 grams protein, 410 mg sodium, 3 grams fiber. Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 starch, 1/2 fruit, 2 low-fat meat (21/2 carb).

--You can make your own Asian Seasoning Mix by combining 2 teaspoons grated fresh gingerroot, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 minced garlic clove and

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper.

-- Pampered Chef

Easy Crab Cakes

2 cans (6 ounces each) crabmeat, drained, flaked and cartilage removed

1 cup seasoned bread crumbs, divided

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup finely chopped green onions

1/4 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon butter

In a large bowl, combine the crab, 1/3 cup bread crumbs, egg, onions, red pepper, mayonnaise, lemon juice, garlic powder and cayenne.

Divide mixture into eight portions; shape into 2-inch balls. Roll in remaining bread crumbs. Flatten to 1/2-inch thickness. In a large nonstick skillet, cook crab cakes in butter 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Yield: 4 servings (2 crab cakes) with 295 calories, 12 grams fat, 142 mg cholesterol, 879 mg sodium, 23 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 23 grams protein. Diabetic exchanges: 3 very lean meat, 1 1/2 starch, 1 1/2 fat.

-- Light & Tasty, June/July 2005

Four-Cheese Pasta Florentine

3 cups mostaccioli, uncooked

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach

4 ounces cream cheese, cubed

1 cup low-fat cottage cheese

2 eggs

1 package (8 ounces) part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt.

Meanwhile, cook spinach as directed on package; drain well. Place in large bowl. Add cream cheese; stir until melted.

Stir in cottage cheese and eggs until well blended.

Drain pasta. Add to spinach mixture with mozzarella; mix lightly. Spoon into dish; top with Parmesan.

Bake 25 minutes, or until center is set.

Serves 4, each with 690 calories, 28 grams fat, 195 mg cholesterol, 950 mg sodium, 69 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 42 grams protein, 6 grams sugar.

-- Kraftrecipes.com

-----

To see more of the Belleville News-Democrat, Ill., or to subscribe, visit http://www.belleville.com.

Copyright © 2011, Belleville News-Democrat, Ill.

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Help Fido Lose Weight

Posted Mar 6, 2011

Just like in their human counterparts, obesity in dogs seriously affects their health. It is commonly linked to arthritis, diabetes, and heart problems, among others. If you find that your pooch has packed on a few pounds, you can help get him back on track in a healthy way so you both can live a long, happy life together. The American Kennel Club offers healthy diet tips:

– Take a trip to the vet. Before getting started on any new regimen, first have your dog examined by your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes for obesity such as endocrine disorders.

– Change Fido’s diet. Switch your dog’s food to a low-calorie, high-protein food.

– Account for treats. Feed your dog low-calorie snacks such as carrots, rice, or even ice cubes. Make sure to include treats in the daily allotted calories, and limit the amount of treats to less than 10 percent of his daily caloric intake.

– Get active! As with humans, exercise plays a role in weight loss. Get active with your dog

Just like in their human counterparts, obesity in dogs seriously affects their health. It is commonly linked to arthritis, diabetes, and heart problems, among others. If you find that your pooch has packed on a few pounds, you can help get him back on track in a healthy way so you both can live a long, happy life together. The American Kennel Club offers healthy diet tips:

- Take a trip to the vet. Before getting started on any new regimen, first have your dog examined by your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes for obesity such as endocrine disorders.

- Change Fido's diet. Switch your dog's food to a low-calorie, high-protein food.

- Account for treats. Feed your dog low-calorie snacks such as carrots, rice, or even ice cubes. Make sure to include treats in the daily allotted calories, and limit the amount of treats to less than 10 percent of his daily caloric intake.

- Get active! As with humans, exercise plays a role in weight loss. Get active with your dog

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What’s The Best Diet to Lose Weight

Posted Feb 27, 2011

A low-fat diet will help you lose weight. Or is it a low-carbohydrate diet? Pore over decades of research and dozens of studies over this debate and you’re likely to be confused about the best way to go about reducing your waistline.

“I think lowering carbs is what you should do,” says Heather Straight, a Pleasant Hill, Calif., mom of three who says she’s tried several diets. “At least, I think so.”

She may be onto something. Maybe.

Gary D. Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education and professor of Medicine and Public Health at Temple University in Philadelphia and his colleagues published a widely circulated study in August that followed 307 dieters and concluded either a low-fat or low-carb diet can help you lose weight, but a low-carb diet is, perhaps, better for “good cholesterol” values, or HDL.

But is Foster a convert to a low-carb dieting approach, popularized by cardiologist Robert Atkins in the 1970s?

“I think it’s a disservice getting people to worry about the minutia of diets,” Foster says. “There are pieces of dieting that we know work. One, track what you eat. Weigh yourself often. Make changes behaviorally that allow you to eat healthier.”

In fact, many diet experts, including local doctors, reel over the low-fat versus low-carb dieting discussion. It misses the point, they say. Americans, 60 percent of whom are either overweight or obese, need to eat less and lower the amount of sugar in their diets, through reducing carbs and sweets. They need to eat real foods, not overly processed, sugar-added treats. And they need to think about what they’re eating instead of mindlessly consuming whatever tastes good.

“Honestly, it’s more than just a question of should you go low-fat or low-carb but more of the quality of what you eat,” says Sooji Rugh, a doctor with the San Jose, Calif., weight-loss centers Greenlite Medicine. “Not all carbs are the same and not all fats are the same.”

For example, saturated fats found in cheeses and fatty meats can contribute to heart disease, although protein rich diets are considered good for people. Carbohydrates also differ: The sugar and white flour in white breads are considered less healthful than the whole wheat flour in some wheat breads. If you are trying to lose body fat on a low carb diet, 20 to 70 daily grams are recommended, depending on your level of activity. People need some carbs for energy, and most healthful fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates.

The promotion of a low-fat diet started in the United States around the 1950s, fueled mostly by Nathan Pritikin. Pritikin was diagnosed with heart disease and began his low-fat diet along with exercise and resolved the condition. He popularized the results in his 1979 book, “The Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise.” Low-fat diets became all the rage.

To lose weight on a low-fat diet, weight loss experts say total fat intake should be no more than 30 percent of total calories. The problem now, says Greenlite’s Rugh, is that many foods in the grocery store that are labeled “low fat,” such as yogurts, are loaded with sugars to keep them appealing to the palate.

“If you lower the fat content in the processed food, it tastes horrible unless you do something else, so they heightened the sugar content,” Rugh says.

The World Health Organization and the American Dietetic Association recommend that calories from sugar not exceed more than 10 percent of our total calories, she says.

“You have one can of Coke, and you’ve exceeded that,” she adds.

The problem with sugar is that, simply, it spikes insulin. And when insulin levels are raised, people accumulate fat.

“At one point, your pancreas (which produces insulin) will start wearing out and then you’re looking at diabetes two,” says Ranveig Elvebakk, an Oakland, Calif.-based doctor and nutrition expert who is a long-standing member of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians.

She likens the question of a low-fat versus low-carb diet to a nonsensical proposition.

“It’s like, if I have a yellow car, what type of fuel do I put in it? It doesn’t make any sense,” she says.

Insulin spiked by sugars and carbohydrates – which are processed by the body into sugars – promotes weight gain, Elvebakk says.

“Ninety percent of the weight problem we have is caused by eating sugar, not fat,” she says. “If you want to lose, gain, or stay the same weight, then you need to understand the mechanics of weight loss. And when you raise your blood sugar, you raise your insulin and insulin stores fat.”

Perhaps the best-known version of a low-carb diet is the Atkins diet, which had a resurgence in the early 2000s. It’s a common misperception that people can eat butter-laden steaks and lose weight healthfully. There are good fats and bad fats – fats in nuts, olive oil and fish are better than most other fats.

“We can eat a small amount of fat,” Elvebakk says. “People need about three tablespoons of olive oil a day and some omega threes.”

And the American Heart Association criticizes low-carb diets, saying the food restrictions in them often starve the body of essential vitamins and nutrients.

Dr. Diana Wright of Bay Area Nutrition, whose offices are in Gilroy, Calif., lives by the adage that if you want to lose weight, you need to eat less and exercise more instead of worrying about fats and carbs.

“You need to look at how you’re eating now. Sometimes you can turn to a peer or a book, sometimes you need to turn to a professional to give you some advice about where you can make reasonable changes in your diet,” she says.

She also doesn’t want people to forget about exercising either. People are designed to be physically active, she says, and sitting hours behind a desk doesn’t promote good health.

“We eat more now and exercise less. It’s like you lose a job and you start spending more money. That’s backward,” Wright says.

Wright quotes popular author and University of California-Berkeley professor Michael Pollan saying Americans need to “eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

“People who control their weight also don’t skip meals. They always have breakfast. They are exercising about an hour a day. They don’t take holidays from their diets and they weigh themselves regularly,” she says, adding that many people may benefit from a diabetic diet plan that limits sweets, promotes eating often and considers how often and when you eat carbs.

Lifestyle change is the key to losing weight, the experts say.

“Successful weight loss and maintenance is having the mind-set to do it,” Wright says.

A low-fat diet will help you lose weight. Or is it a low-carbohydrate diet? Pore over decades of research and dozens of studies over this debate and you're likely to be confused about the best way to go about reducing your waistline.

"I think lowering carbs is what you should do," says Heather Straight, a Pleasant Hill, Calif., mom of three who says she's tried several diets. "At least, I think so."

She may be onto something. Maybe.

Gary D. Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education and professor of Medicine and Public Health at Temple University in Philadelphia and his colleagues published a widely circulated study in August that followed 307 dieters and concluded either a low-fat or low-carb diet can help you lose weight, but a low-carb diet is, perhaps, better for "good cholesterol" values, or HDL.

But is Foster a convert to a low-carb dieting approach, popularized by cardiologist Robert Atkins in the 1970s?

"I think it's a disservice getting people to worry about the minutia of diets," Foster says. "There are pieces of dieting that we know work. One, track what you eat. Weigh yourself often. Make changes behaviorally that allow you to eat healthier."

In fact, many diet experts, including local doctors, reel over the low-fat versus low-carb dieting discussion. It misses the point, they say. Americans, 60 percent of whom are either overweight or obese, need to eat less and lower the amount of sugar in their diets, through reducing carbs and sweets. They need to eat real foods, not overly processed, sugar-added treats. And they need to think about what they're eating instead of mindlessly consuming whatever tastes good.

"Honestly, it's more than just a question of should you go low-fat or low-carb but more of the quality of what you eat," says Sooji Rugh, a doctor with the San Jose, Calif., weight-loss centers Greenlite Medicine. "Not all carbs are the same and not all fats are the same."

For example, saturated fats found in cheeses and fatty meats can contribute to heart disease, although protein rich diets are considered good for people. Carbohydrates also differ: The sugar and white flour in white breads are considered less healthful than the whole wheat flour in some wheat breads. If you are trying to lose body fat on a low carb diet, 20 to 70 daily grams are recommended, depending on your level of activity. People need some carbs for energy, and most healthful fruits and vegetables contain carbohydrates.

The promotion of a low-fat diet started in the United States around the 1950s, fueled mostly by Nathan Pritikin. Pritikin was diagnosed with heart disease and began his low-fat diet along with exercise and resolved the condition. He popularized the results in his 1979 book, "The Pritikin Program for Diet and Exercise." Low-fat diets became all the rage.

To lose weight on a low-fat diet, weight loss experts say total fat intake should be no more than 30 percent of total calories. The problem now, says Greenlite's Rugh, is that many foods in the grocery store that are labeled "low fat," such as yogurts, are loaded with sugars to keep them appealing to the palate.

"If you lower the fat content in the processed food, it tastes horrible unless you do something else, so they heightened the sugar content," Rugh says.

The World Health Organization and the American Dietetic Association recommend that calories from sugar not exceed more than 10 percent of our total calories, she says.

"You have one can of Coke, and you've exceeded that," she adds.

The problem with sugar is that, simply, it spikes insulin. And when insulin levels are raised, people accumulate fat.

"At one point, your pancreas (which produces insulin) will start wearing out and then you're looking at diabetes two," says Ranveig Elvebakk, an Oakland, Calif.-based doctor and nutrition expert who is a long-standing member of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians.

She likens the question of a low-fat versus low-carb diet to a nonsensical proposition.

"It's like, if I have a yellow car, what type of fuel do I put in it? It doesn't make any sense," she says.

Insulin spiked by sugars and carbohydrates - which are processed by the body into sugars - promotes weight gain, Elvebakk says.

"Ninety percent of the weight problem we have is caused by eating sugar, not fat," she says. "If you want to lose, gain, or stay the same weight, then you need to understand the mechanics of weight loss. And when you raise your blood sugar, you raise your insulin and insulin stores fat."

Perhaps the best-known version of a low-carb diet is the Atkins diet, which had a resurgence in the early 2000s. It's a common misperception that people can eat butter-laden steaks and lose weight healthfully. There are good fats and bad fats - fats in nuts, olive oil and fish are better than most other fats.

"We can eat a small amount of fat," Elvebakk says. "People need about three tablespoons of olive oil a day and some omega threes."

And the American Heart Association criticizes low-carb diets, saying the food restrictions in them often starve the body of essential vitamins and nutrients.

Dr. Diana Wright of Bay Area Nutrition, whose offices are in Gilroy, Calif., lives by the adage that if you want to lose weight, you need to eat less and exercise more instead of worrying about fats and carbs.

"You need to look at how you're eating now. Sometimes you can turn to a peer or a book, sometimes you need to turn to a professional to give you some advice about where you can make reasonable changes in your diet," she says.

She also doesn't want people to forget about exercising either. People are designed to be physically active, she says, and sitting hours behind a desk doesn't promote good health.

"We eat more now and exercise less. It's like you lose a job and you start spending more money. That's backward," Wright says.

Wright quotes popular author and University of California-Berkeley professor Michael Pollan saying Americans need to "eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

"People who control their weight also don't skip meals. They always have breakfast. They are exercising about an hour a day. They don't take holidays from their diets and they weigh themselves regularly," she says, adding that many people may benefit from a diabetic diet plan that limits sweets, promotes eating often and considers how often and when you eat carbs.

Lifestyle change is the key to losing weight, the experts say.

"Successful weight loss and maintenance is having the mind-set to do it," Wright says.

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Storing Root Veggies

Posted Feb 6, 2011

They’re at the root of the hearty winter meal.

In past centuries the mainstay of the human diet, root vegetables are regaining popularity nationwide for their versatility and flavor.

Cooks have moved far beyond basic potatoes and onions. The Food Channel predicted the rise of root vegetables – particularly in upscale side dishes – as a major restaurant trend for 2011. Chefs, already enamored with heirloom beets, are rediscovering the joys of turnips, parsnips and other old-time favorites.

“Really big so far this year are yellow or golden turnips,” said Suzanne Ashworth of Del Rio Botanical, a West Sacramento, Calif., organic farm that caters to many local restaurants’ chefs. “They’re doing for turnips what yellow potatoes did for potatoes – they’re sweeter and they look like they’re pre-buttered.”

Recently, Bon Appetit magazine announced, “We dig root vegetables.”

Taste restaurant in Plymouth, Calif., has paired roast turnips with its grilled filet mignon. Mulvaney’s B&L in midtown Sacramento serves roasted roots with short-rib ravioli. The Waterboy, also in midtown, offers celery root (celeriac) mashed potatoes alongside its fried chicken – and stuffs that versatile root inside pasta.

New cookbooks such as “Recipes From the Root Cellar: 250 Fresh Ways To Enjoy Winter Vegetables” by Andrea Chesman (Storey Publishing, $18.95, 387 pages) and “The Complete Root Cellar Book” by Steve Maxwell and Jennifer Mac Kenzie (Robert Rose, $24.95, 256 pages) are tapping roots in new ways.

Why all the attention? Root vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, packed with vitamins and flavor. At grocery stores and farmers markets, they’re relatively cheap. They can be stored for weeks or even months. And, of course, they’re fresh just in time for comforting winter meals.

Chesman, who lives in rural Vermont, appreciates root vegetables for their longevity and versatility.

“Roasting is the best thing to do to root vegetables,” she said in a phone interview. “It brings out their natural sugars.”

Roasting is easy: Peel and cut roots into 1-inch wedges or cubes. (Baby beets, turnips and carrots can be left whole.) Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Add some thyme, oregano or other herbs if desired. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees or until fork tender.

“People make the mistake of cutting pieces too big and crowding the sheet pan,” Chesman said. “You really want to use a sheet pan (instead of a large baking dish) with a shallow rim. You don’t need much oil; you can drain any excess on paper towels before serving.

“The only bad thing about roasting – they shrink so much! You fill the whole pan and end up with just a little.”

Root vegetables can also be cooked alongside a beef, pork or lamb roast. And Chesman suggested serving roasted roots with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or her new favorite, pomegranate molasses.

Roasting takes time, but root veggies can be quick, too. “What surprised me is that I discovered I could shred just about any root vegetable and cook it quickly in a skillet as a stir-fry,” Chesman said. “It was ready in just 10 minutes.”

Cubes of turnip or rutabaga can be added to soups or stews to thicken the broth and boost the nutrients. Another hint: A teaspoon of sugar brings out the flavor in boiled turnips and rutabagas.

Interest in heirloom vegetables has taken root with consumers of these underground staples. Novel twists on old favorites are particularly popular.

Each January, for example, Del Rio Botanical includes gold turnips and purple carrots in its community-supported agriculture, or CSA, boxes, introducing home cooks to unusual variations.

“Purple, gold or white carrots – any color but orange is hot,” Ashworth said. “Purple carrots are a little higher in beta carotene and antioxidants, too. The important point is eating carrots.”

Beets also remain popular. In winter, restaurants replace tomato salad plates with mixed beet combos. But chefs tend to gravitate toward non-red varieties.

“All red beets bleed,” Ashworth explained. “They turn everything shocking pink and just seem to drool red all over the plate. Golden beets, white beets, even (two-toned) Chioggia beets do much better.”

Among the unusual roots catching on with top chefs are celeriac, sunchokes, yacon and crosne du Japon.

“Celeriac has been underappreciated for a long time,” Ashworth said. “It’s great mixed with mashed potatoes. Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) have a good following already. Yacon – an ancient Peruvian vegetable – is gaining interest, too. We’re getting requests for crosne du Japon.”

Yacon is similar to jicama, the Mexican yam bean.

Definitely one of the more unusual root vegetables, crosne du Japon – also called Japanese or Chinese artichoke or knotroot – looks like puffy caterpillars. A member of the mint family, it’s no relation to artichokes, globe or Jerusalem but is very popular in France and Asia. It’s part of Chinese New Year celebrations as red-dyed “chorogi,” which means “longevity.” Eating it is considered good luck.

As a side dish, almost all root vegetables are good boiled and mashed, with or without potatoes.

Said Chesman, “Just serve them with a little salt and lots of butter.”

GET TO THE ROOTS

Beet: A common vegetable since 800 B.C., the beet gets its red color from betalain – as do bougainvillea and amaranth – but this nutritious root also comes in gold, white and striped varieties. The Romans, who considered the beet an aphrodisiac, spread its use throughout their empire. For best flavor, choose small or medium beets that are firm.

Carrot: High in the antioxidant beta carotene, carrots come in multiple colors, including red, white, yellow and purple. In the 16th century, the Dutch developed the first orange carrot (in honor of their royal House of Orange). First cultivated in Afghanistan, carrots became a favorite for romance in ancient Greece, where the name meant “love charm.” Settlers in Jamestown brought carrots to America in 1607. China now ranks as the world’s top carrot producer, followed by Russia and the United States.

Celeriac: The root of the celery plant with a parsley-like flavor, this creamy, white-fleshed vegetable – favored by French cooks – mixes well with mashed potatoes or as an addition to soups and stews. Don’t overcook; it quickly turns mushy. Look for roots with the fewest knobs (they’re easier to peel).

Jicama: A member of the bean family, jicama is also called the Mexican yam bean or Chinese turnip, reflecting its broad range. The crunchy raw white flesh doesn’t discolor, making it a favorite for vegetable platters and salad bars, but it also is good when stir-fried as a substitute for water chestnuts. Look for tubers with smooth, unblemished skin.

Parsnip: A versatile cousin of carrots and celery with a peppery flavor, the parsnip came to the United States with German colonists. Parsnips, which must be cooked, are often boiled, then mashed like potatoes, but can also be steamed, roasted, sauteed, pureed or deep-fried as chips. Frost in the field improves their flavor. Choose shorter, firm parsnips for the best taste.

Radish: Members of the mustard family, these roots range from the familiar little round garnish varieties to foot-long hot daikons. Crunchy when fresh, they also taste great roasted. Horseradish ranks among America’s favorite roots; we consume 24 million pounds annually.

Rutabaga: Actually a cross between the cabbage and the turnip, this vegetable gets its name from the Swedish word “rotabagge,” meaning “round root.” Also called “Swedish turnip,” it usually has light yellow, fine-grained flesh and more sugar than its turnip relatives. The farther north it’s grown, the sweeter the rutabaga. Use like turnips.

Salsify: Nicknamed oyster plant, this root vegetable has a taste and texture faintly similar to shellfish. Black salsify (a native of Spain) looks like a big, brown carrot while white varieties have pale, thin, forked roots. Popular in Europe since the 16th century, they’re treated like parsnips. Don’t overcook; salsify gets mushy quickly.

Sunchoke: Also called Jerusalem artichoke and very high in iron, this is the tuberous root of a sunflower variety with a nutty taste like artichoke heart. Native to both North America and North Africa, sunchokes became popular in France 400 years ago. Bland and crunchy when raw, sunchokes benefit from roasting to bring out their flavor. They can be eaten with or without the peel.

Turnip: Before potatoes immigrated to Europe from the Americas, turnips were the staple of many diets, particularly in the Middle Ages. Persians considered turnips a cure for the common cold. A member of the cabbage family, turnips taste sweetest when fresh; choose small to medium, firm turnips for best flavor. They’re also rich in vitamin C.

ROOTING AROUND: THE GROCERY, THE KITCHEN

Shopping: Look for root vegetables with firm flesh and smooth skin. Avoid any that have mushy spots. Smaller veggies usually taste sweeter.

Storage: Kept at 32 to 40 degrees, root cellars allow long-term storage (up to four months) of most root vegetables. But in Sacramento, with daytime temperatures above 40 degrees, root vegetables keep best in the refrigerator. Wrap in paper towels, then place inside a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator’s crisper. Most will keep crisp two to four weeks; age turns turnips and rutabagas bitter.

Store turnips and beets with their leaves, which can be used as greens. Trim carrot tops back to 1 inch before storing. Remove radish, parsnip and salsify leaves before storing.

Peeling: Peel to remove any dirt, feeder roots or wax (used to inhibit mold if commercially shipped).

To peel celeriac or jicama, slice off the top and bottom. Stand upright on one end. Using a sharp knife, slice off the peel vertically from the sides. Put peeled celeriac in water with lemon juice to keep it white.

Baby beets and carrots can be cooked unpeeled, but scrub first to remove dirt. Well-scrubbed sunchokes can be left unpeeled, too. To scrub, use a soft-bristle brush.

BEETS IN SOUR CREAM

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves 4

From “Recipes from the Root Cellar” by Andrea Chesman.

Note: The prep time does not include the cool time for the beets.

Three tablespoons minced red onion may be substituted for the shallot. Also, the beets may be boiled instead of roasted. Boil gently for 40 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain, let cool and peel.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds beets

1shallot, minced

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or more to taste

1 cup sour cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap beets individually in aluminum foil. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes until fork-tender. Unwrap and let cool.

Peel beets and cut into 1/2- inch cubes. Transfer to a bowl with minced shallot. Mix in vinegar and sour cream. Add salt, pepper to taste. Serve or refrigerate up to 8 hours.

Per serving: 206 cal.; 5 g pro.; 21 g carb.; 12 g fat (8 sat., 4 monounsat., 0 olyunsat.); 26 mg chol.; 154 mg sod.; 1 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 52 percent calories from fat.

TURNIP SALAD

Prep time: 35 minutes

Standing time: 1 hour total

Serves 6

From “Recipes From the Root Cellar.”

Note: Harissa is a North African chile paste. Hot sauce or other chile paste may be substituted.

INGREDIENTS

6 turnips, peeled and shredded

2 carrots, peeled and shredded

1/4 cup minced red onion

2 mandarins or tangerines, peeled, seeded, chopped

Salt to taste

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 to 2 teaspoons harissa, divided use

Freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine turnips, carrots, onion and mandarins in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and mix well. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Combine oil, lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon harissa. Mix well. Season with salt, pepper and more harissa to taste. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Let sit another 30 minutes for flavors to meld.

Per serving: 140 cal.; 2 g pro.; 14 g carb.; 9 g fat (1 sat., 7 monounsat., 1 polyunsat.); 0 mg chol.; 290 mg sod.; 4 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 56 percent calories from fat.

PARSNIP LATKES

Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes

Makes 15 to 18 three-inch latkes

Note: Prep time does not include 30-minute standing time for the parsnips. Cook time is for the latkes cooked in 4 batches.

From Roots Restaurant and Cellar, Milwaukee.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound parsnips, peeled and grated

2 tablespoons salt

1/2 cup minced leek (just white part)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme

Freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

Creme fra

They're at the root of the hearty winter meal.

In past centuries the mainstay of the human diet, root vegetables are regaining popularity nationwide for their versatility and flavor.

Cooks have moved far beyond basic potatoes and onions. The Food Channel predicted the rise of root vegetables - particularly in upscale side dishes - as a major restaurant trend for 2011. Chefs, already enamored with heirloom beets, are rediscovering the joys of turnips, parsnips and other old-time favorites.

"Really big so far this year are yellow or golden turnips," said Suzanne Ashworth of Del Rio Botanical, a West Sacramento, Calif., organic farm that caters to many local restaurants' chefs. "They're doing for turnips what yellow potatoes did for potatoes - they're sweeter and they look like they're pre-buttered."

Recently, Bon Appetit magazine announced, "We dig root vegetables."

Taste restaurant in Plymouth, Calif., has paired roast turnips with its grilled filet mignon. Mulvaney's B&L in midtown Sacramento serves roasted roots with short-rib ravioli. The Waterboy, also in midtown, offers celery root (celeriac) mashed potatoes alongside its fried chicken - and stuffs that versatile root inside pasta.

New cookbooks such as "Recipes From the Root Cellar: 250 Fresh Ways To Enjoy Winter Vegetables" by Andrea Chesman (Storey Publishing, $18.95, 387 pages) and "The Complete Root Cellar Book" by Steve Maxwell and Jennifer Mac Kenzie (Robert Rose, $24.95, 256 pages) are tapping roots in new ways.

Why all the attention? Root vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, packed with vitamins and flavor. At grocery stores and farmers markets, they're relatively cheap. They can be stored for weeks or even months. And, of course, they're fresh just in time for comforting winter meals.

Chesman, who lives in rural Vermont, appreciates root vegetables for their longevity and versatility.

"Roasting is the best thing to do to root vegetables," she said in a phone interview. "It brings out their natural sugars."

Roasting is easy: Peel and cut roots into 1-inch wedges or cubes. (Baby beets, turnips and carrots can be left whole.) Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Add some thyme, oregano or other herbs if desired. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour at 350 degrees or until fork tender.

"People make the mistake of cutting pieces too big and crowding the sheet pan," Chesman said. "You really want to use a sheet pan (instead of a large baking dish) with a shallow rim. You don't need much oil; you can drain any excess on paper towels before serving.

"The only bad thing about roasting - they shrink so much! You fill the whole pan and end up with just a little."

Root vegetables can also be cooked alongside a beef, pork or lamb roast. And Chesman suggested serving roasted roots with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or her new favorite, pomegranate molasses.

Roasting takes time, but root veggies can be quick, too. "What surprised me is that I discovered I could shred just about any root vegetable and cook it quickly in a skillet as a stir-fry," Chesman said. "It was ready in just 10 minutes."

Cubes of turnip or rutabaga can be added to soups or stews to thicken the broth and boost the nutrients. Another hint: A teaspoon of sugar brings out the flavor in boiled turnips and rutabagas.

Interest in heirloom vegetables has taken root with consumers of these underground staples. Novel twists on old favorites are particularly popular.

Each January, for example, Del Rio Botanical includes gold turnips and purple carrots in its community-supported agriculture, or CSA, boxes, introducing home cooks to unusual variations.

"Purple, gold or white carrots - any color but orange is hot," Ashworth said. "Purple carrots are a little higher in beta carotene and antioxidants, too. The important point is eating carrots."

Beets also remain popular. In winter, restaurants replace tomato salad plates with mixed beet combos. But chefs tend to gravitate toward non-red varieties.

"All red beets bleed," Ashworth explained. "They turn everything shocking pink and just seem to drool red all over the plate. Golden beets, white beets, even (two-toned) Chioggia beets do much better."

Among the unusual roots catching on with top chefs are celeriac, sunchokes, yacon and crosne du Japon.

"Celeriac has been underappreciated for a long time," Ashworth said. "It's great mixed with mashed potatoes. Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) have a good following already. Yacon - an ancient Peruvian vegetable - is gaining interest, too. We're getting requests for crosne du Japon."

Yacon is similar to jicama, the Mexican yam bean.

Definitely one of the more unusual root vegetables, crosne du Japon - also called Japanese or Chinese artichoke or knotroot - looks like puffy caterpillars. A member of the mint family, it's no relation to artichokes, globe or Jerusalem but is very popular in France and Asia. It's part of Chinese New Year celebrations as red-dyed "chorogi," which means "longevity." Eating it is considered good luck.

As a side dish, almost all root vegetables are good boiled and mashed, with or without potatoes.

Said Chesman, "Just serve them with a little salt and lots of butter."

GET TO THE ROOTS

Beet: A common vegetable since 800 B.C., the beet gets its red color from betalain - as do bougainvillea and amaranth - but this nutritious root also comes in gold, white and striped varieties. The Romans, who considered the beet an aphrodisiac, spread its use throughout their empire. For best flavor, choose small or medium beets that are firm.

Carrot: High in the antioxidant beta carotene, carrots come in multiple colors, including red, white, yellow and purple. In the 16th century, the Dutch developed the first orange carrot (in honor of their royal House of Orange). First cultivated in Afghanistan, carrots became a favorite for romance in ancient Greece, where the name meant "love charm." Settlers in Jamestown brought carrots to America in 1607. China now ranks as the world's top carrot producer, followed by Russia and the United States.

Celeriac: The root of the celery plant with a parsley-like flavor, this creamy, white-fleshed vegetable - favored by French cooks - mixes well with mashed potatoes or as an addition to soups and stews. Don't overcook; it quickly turns mushy. Look for roots with the fewest knobs (they're easier to peel).

Jicama: A member of the bean family, jicama is also called the Mexican yam bean or Chinese turnip, reflecting its broad range. The crunchy raw white flesh doesn't discolor, making it a favorite for vegetable platters and salad bars, but it also is good when stir-fried as a substitute for water chestnuts. Look for tubers with smooth, unblemished skin.

Parsnip: A versatile cousin of carrots and celery with a peppery flavor, the parsnip came to the United States with German colonists. Parsnips, which must be cooked, are often boiled, then mashed like potatoes, but can also be steamed, roasted, sauteed, pureed or deep-fried as chips. Frost in the field improves their flavor. Choose shorter, firm parsnips for the best taste.

Radish: Members of the mustard family, these roots range from the familiar little round garnish varieties to foot-long hot daikons. Crunchy when fresh, they also taste great roasted. Horseradish ranks among America's favorite roots; we consume 24 million pounds annually.

Rutabaga: Actually a cross between the cabbage and the turnip, this vegetable gets its name from the Swedish word "rotabagge," meaning "round root." Also called "Swedish turnip," it usually has light yellow, fine-grained flesh and more sugar than its turnip relatives. The farther north it's grown, the sweeter the rutabaga. Use like turnips.

Salsify: Nicknamed oyster plant, this root vegetable has a taste and texture faintly similar to shellfish. Black salsify (a native of Spain) looks like a big, brown carrot while white varieties have pale, thin, forked roots. Popular in Europe since the 16th century, they're treated like parsnips. Don't overcook; salsify gets mushy quickly.

Sunchoke: Also called Jerusalem artichoke and very high in iron, this is the tuberous root of a sunflower variety with a nutty taste like artichoke heart. Native to both North America and North Africa, sunchokes became popular in France 400 years ago. Bland and crunchy when raw, sunchokes benefit from roasting to bring out their flavor. They can be eaten with or without the peel.

Turnip: Before potatoes immigrated to Europe from the Americas, turnips were the staple of many diets, particularly in the Middle Ages. Persians considered turnips a cure for the common cold. A member of the cabbage family, turnips taste sweetest when fresh; choose small to medium, firm turnips for best flavor. They're also rich in vitamin C.

ROOTING AROUND: THE GROCERY, THE KITCHEN

Shopping: Look for root vegetables with firm flesh and smooth skin. Avoid any that have mushy spots. Smaller veggies usually taste sweeter.

Storage: Kept at 32 to 40 degrees, root cellars allow long-term storage (up to four months) of most root vegetables. But in Sacramento, with daytime temperatures above 40 degrees, root vegetables keep best in the refrigerator. Wrap in paper towels, then place inside a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator's crisper. Most will keep crisp two to four weeks; age turns turnips and rutabagas bitter.

Store turnips and beets with their leaves, which can be used as greens. Trim carrot tops back to 1 inch before storing. Remove radish, parsnip and salsify leaves before storing.

Peeling: Peel to remove any dirt, feeder roots or wax (used to inhibit mold if commercially shipped).

To peel celeriac or jicama, slice off the top and bottom. Stand upright on one end. Using a sharp knife, slice off the peel vertically from the sides. Put peeled celeriac in water with lemon juice to keep it white.

Baby beets and carrots can be cooked unpeeled, but scrub first to remove dirt. Well-scrubbed sunchokes can be left unpeeled, too. To scrub, use a soft-bristle brush.

BEETS IN SOUR CREAM

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Serves 4

From "Recipes from the Root Cellar" by Andrea Chesman.

Note: The prep time does not include the cool time for the beets.

Three tablespoons minced red onion may be substituted for the shallot. Also, the beets may be boiled instead of roasted. Boil gently for 40 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain, let cool and peel.

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 pounds beets

1shallot, minced

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or more to taste

1 cup sour cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wrap beets individually in aluminum foil. Roast for 50 to 60 minutes until fork-tender. Unwrap and let cool.

Peel beets and cut into 1/2- inch cubes. Transfer to a bowl with minced shallot. Mix in vinegar and sour cream. Add salt, pepper to taste. Serve or refrigerate up to 8 hours.

Per serving: 206 cal.; 5 g pro.; 21 g carb.; 12 g fat (8 sat., 4 monounsat., 0 olyunsat.); 26 mg chol.; 154 mg sod.; 1 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 52 percent calories from fat.

---

TURNIP SALAD

Prep time: 35 minutes

Standing time: 1 hour total

Serves 6

From "Recipes From the Root Cellar."

Note: Harissa is a North African chile paste. Hot sauce or other chile paste may be substituted.

INGREDIENTS

6 turnips, peeled and shredded

2 carrots, peeled and shredded

1/4 cup minced red onion

2 mandarins or tangerines, peeled, seeded, chopped

Salt to taste

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 to 2 teaspoons harissa, divided use

Freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine turnips, carrots, onion and mandarins in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and mix well. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Combine oil, lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon harissa. Mix well. Season with salt, pepper and more harissa to taste. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Let sit another 30 minutes for flavors to meld.

Per serving: 140 cal.; 2 g pro.; 14 g carb.; 9 g fat (1 sat., 7 monounsat., 1 polyunsat.); 0 mg chol.; 290 mg sod.; 4 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 56 percent calories from fat.

---

PARSNIP LATKES

Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes

Makes 15 to 18 three-inch latkes

Note: Prep time does not include 30-minute standing time for the parsnips. Cook time is for the latkes cooked in 4 batches.

From Roots Restaurant and Cellar, Milwaukee.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound parsnips, peeled and grated

2 tablespoons salt

1/2 cup minced leek (just white part)

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme

Freshly cracked black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

Creme fra

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Healthy Eating on a Budget

Posted Jan 29, 2011

Eating healthier may have been one of your 2011 New Year’s resolutions.

Recently, the Daily Press offered a live Web chat offering readers a chance to ask questions about how to eat healthier on a budget. Panelists included Jennifer Shea, registered dietitian for Farm Fresh supermarkets, and Bonnie Tazewell, a retired Virginia Tech extension agent specializing in foods, nutrition and health.

Q. What would you recommend as a quick, healthy, budget-friendly dinner option I could feed my 4-year-old and husband?

Shea. Whole grain pasta is a great inexpensive staple. Add in a few veggies that your husband and 4-year-old will love — broccoli, spinach, canned tomatoes — and top with your favorite shredded cheese, reduced-fat variety.

Also, chilis are easy to make and store for multiple dinners. Use a variety of low sodium canned beans, chili mix (I like McCormick) and lean ground beef. I also love to throw in some fresh or frozen spinach, carrots and onions.

Q. The Daily Press Savvy Shopper has a $50-a-week grocery budget goal. What staple items would you recommend for best nutrition punch, lowest cost?

Shea. Grains: Whole grain rice, whole grain pasta, legumes/beans/barley, whole grain/high fiber cereals, high fiber tortillas and crackers, whole grain bread.

Fruits: Dried fruit, frozen fruit, 100 percent juice, seasonal favorites, canned packed in juice or water.

Vegetables: Canned (no salt added), frozen (no sauce), seasonal veggies, spaghetti sauces (read labels — can count towards a veggie serving — watch sodium/added sugar), salsa.

Dairy: 2 percent milk cheese, skim or 1 percent milk, house brand yogurt, nonfat dry milk powder (add to soups, stews, casseroles, mashed potato, use in recipes, etc.)

Proteins: Canned and pouch salmon, tuna, nuts/peanut butter, legumes/beans (canned and dried), eggs/egg substitutes, bulk chicken/lean meat.

Q. What are the best “seasonal” buys right now (with nothing around here in season outside of frozen and canned foods)?

Shea. Brussel sprouts (love them roasted!), parsnips, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes. Apples are still tasting great and there are lots of fresh fruit coming in from Chile. Frozen veggies and fruit are always a great option and inexpensive so as long as they don’t have added sauces. Many times, they are just as nutritious as fresh because they’re packed at the peak of freshness and flash frozen.

If you go canned, choose low-sodium options or rinse and drain the veggies or beans.

Q. Can you name five or so of the most powerful foods nutritionally that we should be eating more of?

Tazewell: Fruits and vegetables in season, omega-3 foods (nuts, fish), low-fat dairy, iron rich foods and vitamin D if deficient.

Shea. Blueberries, walnuts, salmon, oatmeal, kale. The blueberries can be frozen, salmon can be canned, kale can be frozen. Oatmeal is a great breakfast or dessert — but also can be added to meatloaf, muffins, etc.

If there is one thing you’re looking for as a must to include in your diet to lower bad levels of cholesterol, it is oatmeal — plain rolled oats — and then add your own toppings. I like bananas and walnuts.

Q. I know that fish contains omega-3 and should be included in your diet. Do you still get the same results if you take the omega-3 vitamin?

Shea. My recommendation is always to get as much of your nutrition from food versus supplements.

Editor’s note: Tests done by ConsumerLab.com on omega-3 fatty acid supplements showed that all but two were fresh and all contained their claimed amounts of EPA and DHA omega 3 fats. None of the products were found to contain detectable levels of mercury. By comparison, mercury levels in fish generally range from 10 ppb to 1,000 ppb, depending on the fish. In addition, none of the products contained unsafe levels of PCBs. PCBs have been found in several fish including farm-raised salmon. -Megan Witt, RD, LD

To see more of the Daily Press, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.dailypress.com.

Copyright © 2011, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Eating healthier may have been one of your 2011 New Year's resolutions.

Recently, the Daily Press offered a live Web chat offering readers a chance to ask questions about how to eat healthier on a budget. Panelists included Jennifer Shea, registered dietitian for Farm Fresh supermarkets, and Bonnie Tazewell, a retired Virginia Tech extension agent specializing in foods, nutrition and health.

Q. What would you recommend as a quick, healthy, budget-friendly dinner option I could feed my 4-year-old and husband?

Shea. Whole grain pasta is a great inexpensive staple. Add in a few veggies that your husband and 4-year-old will love -- broccoli, spinach, canned tomatoes -- and top with your favorite shredded cheese, reduced-fat variety.

Also, chilis are easy to make and store for multiple dinners. Use a variety of low sodium canned beans, chili mix (I like McCormick) and lean ground beef. I also love to throw in some fresh or frozen spinach, carrots and onions.

Q. The Daily Press Savvy Shopper has a $50-a-week grocery budget goal. What staple items would you recommend for best nutrition punch, lowest cost?

Shea. Grains: Whole grain rice, whole grain pasta, legumes/beans/barley, whole grain/high fiber cereals, high fiber tortillas and crackers, whole grain bread.

Fruits: Dried fruit, frozen fruit, 100 percent juice, seasonal favorites, canned packed in juice or water.

Vegetables: Canned (no salt added), frozen (no sauce), seasonal veggies, spaghetti sauces (read labels -- can count towards a veggie serving -- watch sodium/added sugar), salsa.

Dairy: 2 percent milk cheese, skim or 1 percent milk, house brand yogurt, nonfat dry milk powder (add to soups, stews, casseroles, mashed potato, use in recipes, etc.)

Proteins: Canned and pouch salmon, tuna, nuts/peanut butter, legumes/beans (canned and dried), eggs/egg substitutes, bulk chicken/lean meat.

Q. What are the best "seasonal" buys right now (with nothing around here in season outside of frozen and canned foods)?

Shea. Brussel sprouts (love them roasted!), parsnips, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes. Apples are still tasting great and there are lots of fresh fruit coming in from Chile. Frozen veggies and fruit are always a great option and inexpensive so as long as they don't have added sauces. Many times, they are just as nutritious as fresh because they're packed at the peak of freshness and flash frozen.

If you go canned, choose low-sodium options or rinse and drain the veggies or beans.

Q. Can you name five or so of the most powerful foods nutritionally that we should be eating more of?

Tazewell: Fruits and vegetables in season, omega-3 foods (nuts, fish), low-fat dairy, iron rich foods and vitamin D if deficient.

Shea. Blueberries, walnuts, salmon, oatmeal, kale. The blueberries can be frozen, salmon can be canned, kale can be frozen. Oatmeal is a great breakfast or dessert -- but also can be added to meatloaf, muffins, etc.

If there is one thing you're looking for as a must to include in your diet to lower bad levels of cholesterol, it is oatmeal -- plain rolled oats -- and then add your own toppings. I like bananas and walnuts.

Q. I know that fish contains omega-3 and should be included in your diet. Do you still get the same results if you take the omega-3 vitamin?

Shea. My recommendation is always to get as much of your nutrition from food versus supplements.

Editor's note: Tests done by ConsumerLab.com on omega-3 fatty acid supplements showed that all but two were fresh and all contained their claimed amounts of EPA and DHA omega 3 fats. None of the products were found to contain detectable levels of mercury. By comparison, mercury levels in fish generally range from 10 ppb to 1,000 ppb, depending on the fish. In addition, none of the products contained unsafe levels of PCBs. PCBs have been found in several fish including farm-raised salmon. -Megan Witt, RD, LD

To see more of the Daily Press, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.dailypress.com.

Copyright © 2011, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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Top Expert Tips to Manage Weight

Posted Jan 15, 2010

Many of us are resolving to eat better and slim down in 2011. There’s no shortage of advice, often conflicting, out there in books and websites.

To cut through the confusion, we sought advice from experts who have helped make Durham the “diet capital of the world.”

Durham is home to The Rice Diet Program, the Duke Diet & Fitness Center, Structure House and low-carb researcher Dr. Eric Westman’s Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at Duke University. It may have more dieters and diet professionals per capita than any other city in the country.

Here are tips (and recipes) to start 2011 on a healthier note.

Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director of the Duke Diet & Fitness Center, offers this guidance:

Keep a daily log. Write down what and how much you eat. Many patients tell Politi that they don’t eat that much. But when she asks them to keep a log, they both learn the truth. Writing it down, she says, helps you make better food choices and be more accountable to yourself. “You think twice before having a snack,” she says. It’s not a bad idea to have a registered dietitian look over your log to suggest healthy changes to your diet.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. This old standby is often repeated because it works. To prove the point, Politi shares the calorie counts for two restaurant meals featuring grilled salmon but different sides. If you order salmon with mashed potatoes and asparagus with hollandaise sauce, the meal will have up to 1,100 calories. If you order it with steamed asparagus and grilled zucchini, it has only 490 calories. “Your plate is still full. You don’t feel deprived. You are eating fewer calories,” she says.

Eat breakfast. Research shows eating a full meal in the morning prevents people from overeating later in the day.

Kitty Gurkin Rosati is the nutrition director of The Rice Diet Program and author of the best-selling books, “The Rice Diet Solution,” “Heal Your Heart,” and “The Rice Diet Cookbook.” She offers these tips:

Set goals. Then use your brain to commit to them. Tell your goals to a friend. Have that friend repeat them back to you. Meditate on your goals. Listen to music while you write those goals in a journal. It is part of an effort, Rosati explains, to engage all parts of your brain in committing to your weight loss and fitness goals — a practice that she sees work again and again with her patients.

Eliminate salt. Salt, Rosati says, can be as much of a trigger to overeat as sugar in some people.

Dr. Eric Westman, who advocates a low-carb approach, had these suggestions:

Avoid s ugar in drinks. Stay away from sodas, juices and energy drinks loaded with sugar. Stick to water, teas and coffee — and avoid adding that teaspoon or two of sugar or honey.

Try a new resource. Westman suggests low-carb websites, www.atkins.com, livinlavidalowcarb.com , and Linda’s Low Carb Menus & Recipes, bit.ly/eSJVQv.

All recipe links are to the right under “Related Content.”

andrea.weigl@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4848

To see more of The News & Observer, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.newsobserver.com.

Copyright © 2011, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.

Many of us are resolving to eat better and slim down in 2011. There's no shortage of advice, often conflicting, out there in books and websites.

To cut through the confusion, we sought advice from experts who have helped make Durham the "diet capital of the world."

Durham is home to The Rice Diet Program, the Duke Diet & Fitness Center, Structure House and low-carb researcher Dr. Eric Westman's Lifestyle Medicine Clinic at Duke University. It may have more dieters and diet professionals per capita than any other city in the country.

Here are tips (and recipes) to start 2011 on a healthier note.

Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director of the Duke Diet & Fitness Center, offers this guidance:

Keep a daily log. Write down what and how much you eat. Many patients tell Politi that they don't eat that much. But when she asks them to keep a log, they both learn the truth. Writing it down, she says, helps you make better food choices and be more accountable to yourself. "You think twice before having a snack," she says. It's not a bad idea to have a registered dietitian look over your log to suggest healthy changes to your diet.

Eat more fruits and vegetables. This old standby is often repeated because it works. To prove the point, Politi shares the calorie counts for two restaurant meals featuring grilled salmon but different sides. If you order salmon with mashed potatoes and asparagus with hollandaise sauce, the meal will have up to 1,100 calories. If you order it with steamed asparagus and grilled zucchini, it has only 490 calories. "Your plate is still full. You don't feel deprived. You are eating fewer calories," she says.

Eat breakfast. Research shows eating a full meal in the morning prevents people from overeating later in the day.

Kitty Gurkin Rosati is the nutrition director of The Rice Diet Program and author of the best-selling books, "The Rice Diet Solution," "Heal Your Heart," and "The Rice Diet Cookbook." She offers these tips:

Set goals. Then use your brain to commit to them. Tell your goals to a friend. Have that friend repeat them back to you. Meditate on your goals. Listen to music while you write those goals in a journal. It is part of an effort, Rosati explains, to engage all parts of your brain in committing to your weight loss and fitness goals -- a practice that she sees work again and again with her patients.

Eliminate salt. Salt, Rosati says, can be as much of a trigger to overeat as sugar in some people.

Dr. Eric Westman, who advocates a low-carb approach, had these suggestions:

Avoid s ugar in drinks. Stay away from sodas, juices and energy drinks loaded with sugar. Stick to water, teas and coffee -- and avoid adding that teaspoon or two of sugar or honey.

Try a new resource. Westman suggests low-carb websites, www.atkins.com, livinlavidalowcarb.com , and Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes, bit.ly/eSJVQv.

All recipe links are to the right under "Related Content."

andrea.weigl@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4848

To see more of The News & Observer, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.newsobserver.com.



Copyright © 2011, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.

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Gluten Free Living

Posted Jan 2, 2010

Sally Fulmer, marketing manager for the Common Market, knows a bit about healthy eating and organic food.

But working at Frederick’s co-op grocery store didn’t help the digestive issues that plagued her much of her life. That is, until a co-worker suggested she try eliminating certain foods from her diet. When she eliminated all things gluten, including wheat, she noticed a big difference.

Within two weeks, she was feeling better. “I had been misdiagnosed with different ailments,” she said. “It was never diagnosed as a food allergy. Every specialist told me it was something different.”

Fulmer has never been tested for celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that is triggered by gluten. She doesn’t want to get the test, because in order to do so, one must eat gluten.

Instead, she has what she determined to be a gluten intolerance. For years, she tried various treatments designed to settle her stomach and end heartburn. Nothing worked, however.

“I felt so bad all the time,” she said. ” I never felt good.” She attributed much of that to stress. In addition to her full-time job, she was working on her master’s of business administration degree. Fulmer hikes and mountain bikes, so her digestive troubles were not related to inactivity.

What sold her on the gluten-free diet was her reaction when she added a tiny bit of gluten back in. “When I do consume a little bit of gluten, I immediately get a stomachache,” she said.

Eating gluten free is more than eliminating wheat products. Barley and rye also contain gluten. Soy sauce and many commercial salad dressings contain gluten. Malt vinegar contains gluten. Even some brands of french fries and Pringles Potato Chips contain some wheat.

“I’m very careful about what I eat,” she said. “I have to ask a lot of questions.”

Fulmer said that has been made easier because of where she works. The Common Market carries a large number of gluten-free foods, and many staff members are aware of the challenges of a gluten-free diet. “I think working here has helped me transition more smoothly,” she said. Otherwise, she said, she may have felt overwhelmed.

Some local restaurants offer gluten-free items, including The Orchard, Acacia, Hinode and Bonefish Grill. Pizzeria Uno now has a gluten-free pizza. Pizza is one popular food that can be hard for the person on the gluten-free diet to substitute. Pizzeria Uno’s version does measure up, however. “It is good,” Fulmer said.

Fulmer said her friends have been flexible about eating at restaurants with gluten-free options when they go out.

The Common Market also offers frequent gluten-free cooking classes with Jerree Nicolee, a local personal chef who cooks gluten-free. “She has helped me as well,” Fulmer said.

Nicolee has the ability to make gluten-free foods taste anything but. Before Thanksgiving, she made sweet potato biscuits that tasted better than traditional biscuits, Fulmer said. Christmas cookies, cakes, macaroni and cheese, all taste as good or better than those from traditional recipes, she added.

“She does a lot of baking,” Fulmer said. Still, during this holiday season, Fulmer must watch what she eats when at parties. “Eating gluten-free has helped me maintain a healthy weight,” she said. “This time of year, I can’t eat cakes and pies. I can’t eat all those empty calories.”

Nicolee had already started a personal chef business before she discovered she was gluten intolerant. “It was a little daunting,” Nicolee said.

Nicolee loved Italian food, bread, beer, all foods with gluten. She adapted quickly, however. She experimented with various flours, rice flour, corn flour, potato flour and soy flour. “Rice flour tends to suck up all the moisture,” Nicolee said. It works best when combined with other flours.

Through experimentation, she has learned to bake cakes, cookies and muffins. For the holidays, she features gingerbread, toffee, brownies and raspberry cheesecake bars. “I even did a cookie swap,” she said. While she couldn’t eat all the cookies she received, she did get peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate.

Her business is not limited to those with gluten intolerance, but she has found more gluten-intolerant customers than she expected in the Frederick area. There are two local bakeries, Clustered Spires Pastry Shop in Frederick and A Better Choice Bakery in Brunswick, that feature gluten-free offerings.

Nicolee likes to make people forget they are eating gluten-free.

There are even a few gluten-free beers on the market that taste pretty good, Nicolee said. And wine is gluten-free.

Nicolee and Fulmer like to focus on what they can eat.

Fulmer said she has always been a food label reader, but that’s especially important when eating gluten-free. “It’s not always called wheat,” she said. Maltodextrin is another red flag, especially if it’s derived from wheat.

“It is a challenging diet to follow,” she said. “That was one of the things I struggled with. It’s almost like a loss. It’s a life-changing diet.”

Because she ate a healthy diet to begin with, the transition wasn’t as difficult for Fulmer as it might be for someone who eats a lot of processed foods. Fruits and vegetables, which do not have gluten, have always been a large part of her diet.

“One important thing to know is that white flour comes from wheat flour,” she said. People who have a gluten intolerance or allergy must learn to read and understand food labels.

Gluten can even be found in lipstick and lip balms, some medicines and vitamins where it’s used as a binding agent, and toothpaste.

> Dr. David Kossoff, a Frederick gastroenterologist, recommends people who think they have celiac disease get tested for it. Celiac disease is probably underdiagnosed. “We’re much more attuned to it today than we were 20 years ago,” he said. In the past, celiac disease was often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome or other gastrointestinal disorder.

People with celiac disease can be anemic or suffer from other dietary disorders. Celiac disease affects the small intestine, preventing many nutrients from being properly absorbed into the diet.

The gluten-free diet almost always contains rice and potatoes. Buckwheat, corn, grits and a high-protein grain called quinoa are often part of the gluten-free diet as well. Rice pasta allows people on gluten-free diets to enjoy many of the same Italian dishes that use wheat-based pasta.

Since Fulmer gave up gluten 18 months ago, she said her outlook on life has brightened considerably. She has a lot more energy and people tell her she seems much happier.

“I feel like a completely different person,” she said. “It affected me mentally and emotionally because I felt so bad all the time.”

To see more of the Frederick News-Post or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.fredericknewspost.com.

Copyright © 2010, The Frederick News-Post, Md.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Sally Fulmer, marketing manager for the Common Market, knows a bit about healthy eating and organic food.

But working at Frederick's co-op grocery store didn't help the digestive issues that plagued her much of her life. That is, until a co-worker suggested she try eliminating certain foods from her diet. When she eliminated all things gluten, including wheat, she noticed a big difference.

Within two weeks, she was feeling better. "I had been misdiagnosed with different ailments," she said. "It was never diagnosed as a food allergy. Every specialist told me it was something different."

Fulmer has never been tested for celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that is triggered by gluten. She doesn't want to get the test, because in order to do so, one must eat gluten.

Instead, she has what she determined to be a gluten intolerance. For years, she tried various treatments designed to settle her stomach and end heartburn. Nothing worked, however.

"I felt so bad all the time," she said. " I never felt good." She attributed much of that to stress. In addition to her full-time job, she was working on her master's of business administration degree. Fulmer hikes and mountain bikes, so her digestive troubles were not related to inactivity.

What sold her on the gluten-free diet was her reaction when she added a tiny bit of gluten back in. "When I do consume a little bit of gluten, I immediately get a stomachache," she said.

Eating gluten free is more than eliminating wheat products. Barley and rye also contain gluten. Soy sauce and many commercial salad dressings contain gluten. Malt vinegar contains gluten. Even some brands of french fries and Pringles Potato Chips contain some wheat.

"I'm very careful about what I eat," she said. "I have to ask a lot of questions."

Fulmer said that has been made easier because of where she works. The Common Market carries a large number of gluten-free foods, and many staff members are aware of the challenges of a gluten-free diet. "I think working here has helped me transition more smoothly," she said. Otherwise, she said, she may have felt overwhelmed.

Some local restaurants offer gluten-free items, including The Orchard, Acacia, Hinode and Bonefish Grill. Pizzeria Uno now has a gluten-free pizza. Pizza is one popular food that can be hard for the person on the gluten-free diet to substitute. Pizzeria Uno's version does measure up, however. "It is good," Fulmer said.

Fulmer said her friends have been flexible about eating at restaurants with gluten-free options when they go out.

The Common Market also offers frequent gluten-free cooking classes with Jerree Nicolee, a local personal chef who cooks gluten-free. "She has helped me as well," Fulmer said.

Nicolee has the ability to make gluten-free foods taste anything but. Before Thanksgiving, she made sweet potato biscuits that tasted better than traditional biscuits, Fulmer said. Christmas cookies, cakes, macaroni and cheese, all taste as good or better than those from traditional recipes, she added.

"She does a lot of baking," Fulmer said. Still, during this holiday season, Fulmer must watch what she eats when at parties. "Eating gluten-free has helped me maintain a healthy weight," she said. "This time of year, I can't eat cakes and pies. I can't eat all those empty calories."

Nicolee had already started a personal chef business before she discovered she was gluten intolerant. "It was a little daunting," Nicolee said.

Nicolee loved Italian food, bread, beer, all foods with gluten. She adapted quickly, however. She experimented with various flours, rice flour, corn flour, potato flour and soy flour. "Rice flour tends to suck up all the moisture," Nicolee said. It works best when combined with other flours.

Through experimentation, she has learned to bake cakes, cookies and muffins. For the holidays, she features gingerbread, toffee, brownies and raspberry cheesecake bars. "I even did a cookie swap," she said. While she couldn't eat all the cookies she received, she did get peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate.

Her business is not limited to those with gluten intolerance, but she has found more gluten-intolerant customers than she expected in the Frederick area. There are two local bakeries, Clustered Spires Pastry Shop in Frederick and A Better Choice Bakery in Brunswick, that feature gluten-free offerings.

Nicolee likes to make people forget they are eating gluten-free.

There are even a few gluten-free beers on the market that taste pretty good, Nicolee said. And wine is gluten-free.

Nicolee and Fulmer like to focus on what they can eat.

Fulmer said she has always been a food label reader, but that's especially important when eating gluten-free. "It's not always called wheat," she said. Maltodextrin is another red flag, especially if it's derived from wheat.

"It is a challenging diet to follow," she said. "That was one of the things I struggled with. It's almost like a loss. It's a life-changing diet."

Because she ate a healthy diet to begin with, the transition wasn't as difficult for Fulmer as it might be for someone who eats a lot of processed foods. Fruits and vegetables, which do not have gluten, have always been a large part of her diet.

"One important thing to know is that white flour comes from wheat flour," she said. People who have a gluten intolerance or allergy must learn to read and understand food labels.

Gluten can even be found in lipstick and lip balms, some medicines and vitamins where it's used as a binding agent, and toothpaste.

> Dr. David Kossoff, a Frederick gastroenterologist, recommends people who think they have celiac disease get tested for it. Celiac disease is probably underdiagnosed. "We're much more attuned to it today than we were 20 years ago," he said. In the past, celiac disease was often misdiagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome or other gastrointestinal disorder.

People with celiac disease can be anemic or suffer from other dietary disorders. Celiac disease affects the small intestine, preventing many nutrients from being properly absorbed into the diet.

The gluten-free diet almost always contains rice and potatoes. Buckwheat, corn, grits and a high-protein grain called quinoa are often part of the gluten-free diet as well. Rice pasta allows people on gluten-free diets to enjoy many of the same Italian dishes that use wheat-based pasta.

Since Fulmer gave up gluten 18 months ago, she said her outlook on life has brightened considerably. She has a lot more energy and people tell her she seems much happier.

"I feel like a completely different person," she said. "It affected me mentally and emotionally because I felt so bad all the time."

To see more of the Frederick News-Post or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.fredericknewspost.com.

Copyright © 2010, The Frederick News-Post, Md.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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Early Diagnosis Can Save Your Life

Posted Aug 1, 2010

WASHINGTON – Nearly half the people who need potentially lifesaving checks for the nation’s No. 2 cancer killer – colorectal cancer – miss them, despite years of public efforts to make colon screening as widespread as tests for breast and prostate cancer.

But what if you opened your mailbox one day to find an at-home test kit, no doctor’s appointment needed?

The dreaded colonoscopy may get the most attention but a cheap, old-fashioned stool test works, too – and when California health care giant Kaiser Permanente started mailing those tests to patients due for a colon check, its screening rates jumped well above the national average.

Now specialists are looking to Kaiser and the Veterans Affairs health system, another program that stresses stool-tests, for clues to what might encourage more people to get screened for a cancer that can be prevented, not just treated, if only early signs of trouble are spotted in time.

“By overselling and overpromising colonoscopies, we’ve put up barriers for people” to get any type of screening, says Dr. T.R. Levin, Kaiser Permanente’s colorectal cancer screening chief in northern California.

Everyone is supposed to get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50, but U.S. data shows just 55 percent do. That’s better than a decade ago when screening rates hovered below 30 percent, and both new cases and deaths have dropped as a result.

But about 150,000 people still are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year, and nearly 50,000 die. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says proper screening could eliminate many new cases, because regular colon checks can remove precancerous growths called polyps before the cancer has time to form.

Colonoscopies – where doctors use a long, flexible tube to visually inspect the colon – now account for 80 percent of all screening, a panel of specialists convened by the National Institutes of Health reported this month.

The $20 stool test – usually handed over by a doctor, performed at home and then mailed to a lab – is considered as effective if properly used once a year. But its use has dropped as colonoscopies took center stage.

Many doctors recommend colonoscopies as “one-stop shopping: You get screened and can get treated with one intervention,” explains NIH panel member Dr. Lawrence Friedman of Harvard Medical School and Tufts University.

Sedation means it doesn’t hurt, although it requires a day of bowel-cleansing preparation and can exceed $1,000. But colonoscopies allow removal of polyps on sight. If no problems are found, they’re only required once a decade. They’re also the required next step when the stool test or other screenings signal a possible problem.

Other options: sigmoidoscopy, an exam of the lower colon only, and the new virtual colonoscopy, a new X-ray exam offered in only limited places.

The NIH panel concluded that people should pick the screening option best for their own needs and comfort.

But it urged eliminating financial barriers. Both out-of-pocket test costs and access to a regular health provider to advise about the each option’s pros and cons are hurdles.

Indeed, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center last week reported racial disparities in colon cancer are widening, suggesting unequal improvements in screening access. In 1992, blacks were 60 percent more likely than white to be diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer; by 2004, that likelihood had doubled.

Medicare pays for colorectal screening – with the exception of virtual colonoscopy – but that government-run insurance program is for people 65 and older. So 22 states and four tribal organizations are about to begin free screening for low-income 50- to 64-year-olds, with CDC funding. Florida is offering both the stool test and colonoscopies; other states are choosing one or the other and will track public acceptance.

The NIH panel also pointed to Kaiser Permanente’s ability to track down people due for screening and pull them in without waiting on them to show up in a doctor’s office.

How? Combing electronic medical records of northern California patients, Kaiser learned in 2005 that only about 40 percent who needed a colon check had gotten one. The health maintenance organization already paid for colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies, and still does for those who prefer them. But it tried mailing out stool kits in hopes of catching people wary of invasive testing – with phone calls to those who didn’t return them.

Last year, screening rates rose to 75 percent.

“It’s kind of like doing your own science experiment at home,” said Bob Cach, 56, of Livermore, Calif., recalling instructions for that first mailed test. He did fine.

But this year’s kit signaled Cach had a problem. A follow-up colonoscopy removed a polyp, still benign. He’s grateful it was caught, having watched his wife battle colon cancer over the past year.

“I am an advocate now for screening.”

EDITOR’s NOTE – Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.

CDC-funded screening program: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/crccp/

WASHINGTON - Nearly half the people who need potentially lifesaving checks for the nation's No. 2 cancer killer - colorectal cancer - miss them, despite years of public efforts to make colon screening as widespread as tests for breast and prostate cancer.

But what if you opened your mailbox one day to find an at-home test kit, no doctor's appointment needed?

The dreaded colonoscopy may get the most attention but a cheap, old-fashioned stool test works, too - and when California health care giant Kaiser Permanente started mailing those tests to patients due for a colon check, its screening rates jumped well above the national average.

Now specialists are looking to Kaiser and the Veterans Affairs health system, another program that stresses stool-tests, for clues to what might encourage more people to get screened for a cancer that can be prevented, not just treated, if only early signs of trouble are spotted in time.

"By overselling and overpromising colonoscopies, we've put up barriers for people" to get any type of screening, says Dr. T.R. Levin, Kaiser Permanente's colorectal cancer screening chief in northern California.

Everyone is supposed to get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50, but U.S. data shows just 55 percent do. That's better than a decade ago when screening rates hovered below 30 percent, and both new cases and deaths have dropped as a result.

But about 150,000 people still are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year, and nearly 50,000 die. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says proper screening could eliminate many new cases, because regular colon checks can remove precancerous growths called polyps before the cancer has time to form.

Colonoscopies - where doctors use a long, flexible tube to visually inspect the colon - now account for 80 percent of all screening, a panel of specialists convened by the National Institutes of Health reported this month.

The $20 stool test - usually handed over by a doctor, performed at home and then mailed to a lab - is considered as effective if properly used once a year. But its use has dropped as colonoscopies took center stage.

Many doctors recommend colonoscopies as "one-stop shopping: You get screened and can get treated with one intervention," explains NIH panel member Dr. Lawrence Friedman of Harvard Medical School and Tufts University.

Sedation means it doesn't hurt, although it requires a day of bowel-cleansing preparation and can exceed $1,000. But colonoscopies allow removal of polyps on sight. If no problems are found, they're only required once a decade. They're also the required next step when the stool test or other screenings signal a possible problem.

Other options: sigmoidoscopy, an exam of the lower colon only, and the new virtual colonoscopy, a new X-ray exam offered in only limited places.

The NIH panel concluded that people should pick the screening option best for their own needs and comfort.

But it urged eliminating financial barriers. Both out-of-pocket test costs and access to a regular health provider to advise about the each option's pros and cons are hurdles.

Indeed, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center last week reported racial disparities in colon cancer are widening, suggesting unequal improvements in screening access. In 1992, blacks were 60 percent more likely than white to be diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer; by 2004, that likelihood had doubled.

Medicare pays for colorectal screening - with the exception of virtual colonoscopy - but that government-run insurance program is for people 65 and older. So 22 states and four tribal organizations are about to begin free screening for low-income 50- to 64-year-olds, with CDC funding. Florida is offering both the stool test and colonoscopies; other states are choosing one or the other and will track public acceptance.

The NIH panel also pointed to Kaiser Permanente's ability to track down people due for screening and pull them in without waiting on them to show up in a doctor's office.

How? Combing electronic medical records of northern California patients, Kaiser learned in 2005 that only about 40 percent who needed a colon check had gotten one. The health maintenance organization already paid for colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies, and still does for those who prefer them. But it tried mailing out stool kits in hopes of catching people wary of invasive testing - with phone calls to those who didn't return them.

Last year, screening rates rose to 75 percent.

"It's kind of like doing your own science experiment at home," said Bob Cach, 56, of Livermore, Calif., recalling instructions for that first mailed test. He did fine.

But this year's kit signaled Cach had a problem. A follow-up colonoscopy removed a polyp, still benign. He's grateful it was caught, having watched his wife battle colon cancer over the past year.

"I am an advocate now for screening."

EDITOR's NOTE - Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.

CDC-funded screening program: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/crccp/

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Be Conscious About Food

Posted Dec 26, 2010

Americans consume a lot more sodium and sugar than they need every day.

The average sodium intake for Americans is 3,400 milligrams daily. The recommended maximum is 2,300 milligrams. Excessive sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which is associated with congestive heart failure, strokes and kidney damage.

A report last month by the Institute of Medicine estimated that reducing sodium intake could prevent 100,000 deaths a year and save $18 billion in medical costs. The Food and Drug Administration is working with food manufacturers to achieve voluntary sodium reductions.

Meanwhile, a study last month showed that people with higher intakes of added sugars were more likely to have lower levels of the HDL, the good cholesterol, and higher levels of triglycerides (blood fats), all which of increase obesity and risk factors for stroke and heart disease.

The study found subjects consumed 21.4 teaspoons of added sugars a day, more than 320 calories. The American Heart Association recommends that most women should not get more than 100 calories, or 6-1/2 teaspoons, a day from added sugars. For men, the maximum recommendation is 150 calories, or 9-1/2 teaspoons a day.

“It’s tough to reduce the sodium and sugar in our diets when we live in a world that pushes these types of food on us for cheaper than their healthier counter parts,” said Marisa Silbernagel, a Gundersen Lutheran registered dietitian.

“You can buy a burger, fries and a soda for cheaper than a salad and bottle of water,” she said. “Bottom line: Educate yourself.”

By comparing labels and looking at online resources for nutrition information, you’ll find that Burger King and Hardees actually use double the salt that McDonald’s uses in its food products, Silbernagel said.

“You’ll find that blended coffee drinks contain double the amount of sugar that iced coffee drinks have,” she added.

People have to find ways to make better decisions “in a world full of nutrient-sterile food that is packed with sugar and sodium,” Silbernagel said.

Ruth Vach, a Franciscan Skemp registered dietitian, said people need to read labels for salt and sugar content.

Gundersen Lutheran registered dietitians say food items with less than 140 milligrams per serving are considered “low sodium” and less than 480 milligrams is considered a low-sodium meal. They recommend no more than an average of 600 to 700 milligrams of sodium per meal.

“The first thing is to get rid of the salt shaker and look at other seasonings,” Vach said. “It’s difficult, but try it.”

Vach said prepared and processed foods make up the majority of the daily sodium intake (77 percent).

“The key here is to eat fewer processed foods and prepare meals with little sodium,” Vach said. “Focus more on whole foods. The problem is most people are not aware of the hidden sodium and sugar.”

Amber Bowe, a Gundersen Lutheran registered dietitian, said people need to look for added sugars such as sugar, sucrose, dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses and evaporated cane juice when grocery shopping.

“Look for products without these sugars or that have these sugars listed at the bottom of the ingredient list versus as one of the first,” Bowe said.

She said it is important to identify the amount of sugar from the beverages we regularly consume.

“It can add up quickly, especially from sweetened coffee drinks, sodas and fruit-flavored beverages,” Bowe said. “Choose other varieties that are lower-sugar or sugar-free. Better yet, drink water as your primary beverage.”

—–

To see more of the La Crosse Tribune or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.lacrossetribune.com/.

Copyright © 2010, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Americans consume a lot more sodium and sugar than they need every day.

The average sodium intake for Americans is 3,400 milligrams daily. The recommended maximum is 2,300 milligrams. Excessive sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which is associated with congestive heart failure, strokes and kidney damage.

A report last month by the Institute of Medicine estimated that reducing sodium intake could prevent 100,000 deaths a year and save $18 billion in medical costs. The Food and Drug Administration is working with food manufacturers to achieve voluntary sodium reductions.

Meanwhile, a study last month showed that people with higher intakes of added sugars were more likely to have lower levels of the HDL, the good cholesterol, and higher levels of triglycerides (blood fats), all which of increase obesity and risk factors for stroke and heart disease.

The study found subjects consumed 21.4 teaspoons of added sugars a day, more than 320 calories. The American Heart Association recommends that most women should not get more than 100 calories, or 6-1/2 teaspoons, a day from added sugars. For men, the maximum recommendation is 150 calories, or 9-1/2 teaspoons a day.

"It's tough to reduce the sodium and sugar in our diets when we live in a world that pushes these types of food on us for cheaper than their healthier counter parts," said Marisa Silbernagel, a Gundersen Lutheran registered dietitian.

"You can buy a burger, fries and a soda for cheaper than a salad and bottle of water," she said. "Bottom line: Educate yourself."

By comparing labels and looking at online resources for nutrition information, you'll find that Burger King and Hardees actually use double the salt that McDonald's uses in its food products, Silbernagel said.

"You'll find that blended coffee drinks contain double the amount of sugar that iced coffee drinks have," she added.

People have to find ways to make better decisions "in a world full of nutrient-sterile food that is packed with sugar and sodium," Silbernagel said.

Ruth Vach, a Franciscan Skemp registered dietitian, said people need to read labels for salt and sugar content.

Gundersen Lutheran registered dietitians say food items with less than 140 milligrams per serving are considered "low sodium" and less than 480 milligrams is considered a low-sodium meal. They recommend no more than an average of 600 to 700 milligrams of sodium per meal.

"The first thing is to get rid of the salt shaker and look at other seasonings," Vach said. "It's difficult, but try it."

Vach said prepared and processed foods make up the majority of the daily sodium intake (77 percent).

"The key here is to eat fewer processed foods and prepare meals with little sodium," Vach said. "Focus more on whole foods. The problem is most people are not aware of the hidden sodium and sugar."

Amber Bowe, a Gundersen Lutheran registered dietitian, said people need to look for added sugars such as sugar, sucrose, dextrose, fructose, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses and evaporated cane juice when grocery shopping.

"Look for products without these sugars or that have these sugars listed at the bottom of the ingredient list versus as one of the first," Bowe said.

She said it is important to identify the amount of sugar from the beverages we regularly consume.

"It can add up quickly, especially from sweetened coffee drinks, sodas and fruit-flavored beverages," Bowe said. "Choose other varieties that are lower-sugar or sugar-free. Better yet, drink water as your primary beverage."

-----

To see more of the La Crosse Tribune or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.lacrossetribune.com/.

Copyright © 2010, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

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Diabetes Diagnosis and Changing Your Habits

Posted Dec 18, 2010

Josefina has Type 2 diabetes.

She was diagnosed Nov. 29, three days after Thanksgiving, during her annual checkup.

The diagnosis left her dumbfounded.

“I was shocked; I really thought I took care of myself,” she said. “Nobody in my family has diabetes. I never had any of the symptoms. I walked about a mile to a mile and a half every day and I ate the right foods, and my cholesterol was under control.”

Her doctor has given her three months to manage the diabetes through exercise and diet. If that doesn’t work, she will go on medication.

“I’m walking from five to six miles a day now and I’m trying to learn about how to eat properly,” said Josefina, who attended a diabetes management course sponsored by the El Paso Diabetes Association. “It could hit anybody. I’m really going to try my best to beat this without having to go on medication.”

Nearly 18 million people in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Most have Type 2 diabetes, in which the body doesn’t effectively use the insulin it creates. Insulin is a hormone that takes sugar from the blood to the cells.

“The problem with diabetes is it’s silent, it’s chronic, and it doesn’t have a cure,” said Irma Herrejon, a diabetes specialist with the El Paso Diabetes Association. “People ignore it because it is silent. When you don’t make the change in your lifestyle, you will have complications — and those complications are the worst part.”

The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes varies from person to person, depending on such factors as family history, ethnicity, weight and age.

Several complications can develop if diabetes is not treated.

“There could be retinopathy, which could lead to blindness; kidney disease, which could lead to death; neuropathy, which affects all the nerves in your body and could lead to amputation,” Herrejon said.

She said the next step after being diagnosed is simple, in theory.

“Change your life; change the way you live,” she said. “You need to educate yourself. When you know what you are eating or doing is not healthy and can lead to complications, you’ll choose the right way to live.”

Herrejon, who herself has had diabetes for 22 years, understands that a change in lifestyle can be difficult.

“The treatment for diabetes is in the change in your life style,” she said. “The doctor can give you the medicine, but if you are still living like you used to, the medicine will be insufficient.”

She wakes up at 5 every morning to exercise.

“If you’re not used to exercise or eating right — and I see it in every ethnic group — it’s going to be very difficult to change,” she said.

The diabetes management class at the El Paso Diabetes Association is six hours of instruction, in which newly diagnosed diabetics learn the basics of diabetes treatment, complications, management, portion control in meals, and the role of exercise.

Las Palmas LifeCare Center also has a diabetes treatment center, which provides meal planning, a personalized exercise regimen and other services.

“We’ll make sure that we put them on a program where diet and exercise is covered just for the patient,” said Mike Flores, the director of Las Palmas LifeCare Center, 3333 N. Mesa. “Our doctor will also talk to the patient about stress and everything else that involves diabetes.”

The diabetes patient will sit down with a dietitian and a certified strength and conditioning specialist to detail a plan.

“That is the difference,” Flores said. “We do a little bit of what they do in the doctor’s office, but we do a whole lot of the complementary stuff that surrounds it. Here, it’s a slow-down version. The diet and exercise really makes the difference for people to improve their health.”

Maria Prieto, 54, found out she is a borderline diabetic at her annual physical a few weeks ago.

“My blood-sugar readings came back too high at my last physical,” she said. “My mom and my sister have diabetes, and I want to learn how to eat better.”

Prieto also attended the diabetes management course sponsored by the El Paso Diabetes Association.

“I don’t want to get diabetes. That’s why I’m here, trying to learn all I can,” she said. “I do a lot of walking, a lot of exercising. I’m just really worried I might have it. I feel like I’m in good health.”

Diabetes education is key, even for parents of children with diabetes.

Carmen Enriquez’s 10-year-old son, Richie Gomez, has had Type 1 diabetes — in which the body does not produce insulin — since he was 3 years old. Enriquez, whose parents have Type 2 diabetes, recognized the symptoms right away.

“It was a shock at first, but I knew I had to get as much education and information as I could for my son,” she said. “We have to do this together. I taught him to check his glucose when he was 3.”

As Enriquez is learning, so is Richie.

“He has to learn what I learn,” she said. “I try to explain to him the importance of taking care of himself. He needs to do it for himself, because Mommy is not always going to be here.”

Enriquez said it was difficult at first for Richie to understand why the other children could eat frosting and drink soft drinks.

“I let him be a kid, but at the same time I tell him he can’t have two or three pieces of pizza anymore,” she said. “He knows he should just have one slice. When we go to birthday parties, he knows to take off the frosting from the cake.”

She said the El Paso Diabetes Association has been a blessing for providing camps for children with diabetes.

“I know a lot of moms want to put a shield around their children, and I was doing that, too,” Enriquez said. “I learned through the association about teaching them their independence, and the camps he attends does wonders for his self esteem.”

Richie would feel different around other children before going to the camps.

“He saw that he wasn’t the only one who had to poke his fingers,” Enriquez said. “He was just like everybody else.”

Victor R. Martinez may be reached at vmartinez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6128.

Diabetes and diet There is no such thing as a “diabetes diet.” The foods recommended for a diabetic are good for everyone. For people with diabetes, carbohydrates must be monitored. Carbohydrates have the greatest influence on blood sugar levels. A dietitian can provide nutrition education to develop a meal plan that fits your lifestyle and activity level, and meets your medical needs. The following are the basics of a healthy diabetes diet, courtesy of diabetes.webmd.com. –Eat a variety of foods.

–Eat the right amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight.

–Choose foods high in fiber. You need 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day. Studies suggest that people with Type 2 diabetes who eat a high-fiber diet can improve blood sugar and cholesterol.

–Do not skip meals.

–Eat meals and snacks at regular times every day. If taking a diabetes medicine, eat meals and take medicine at the same times each day.

–Small amounts of sugar are fine.

–Read food labels. Learn how to determine how much sugar or carbohydrates are in the foods that you eat.

–Substitute, don’t add. When you eat a sugary food, substitute it for another carbohydrate that you would have eaten that day.

–Sugary foods can be fattening. Many foods that have a lot of table sugar are very high in calories and fat. Eat in moderation.

–Check your blood sugar after eating sugary foods and talk to your health-care provider about how to adjust your insulin if needed.

Diabetes and exercise The American Diabetes Association offers these exercise guidelines for those with diabetes: –Start slowly; gradually increase your endurance.

–Choose an activity you enjoy.

–Exercise at least three or four times a week for 20 to 40 minutes each session. An exercise program should include a five- to 10-minute warm-up and at least 15 to 30 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise or muscle-stretching exercises.

–Drink water before, during and after exercise.

–Do not ignore pain. Stop any exercise if it causes unexpected pain.

–Discuss with your doctor appropriate types of exercise.

–Do not exercise if your blood sugar is greater than 250 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) and your ketones are positive. This is a sign you already may have a lack of insulin; exercise will only cause a greater rise in blood sugar.

–Learn the effects of various exercises on your blood sugar.

–Eat carbohydrates after exercise. Add carbohydrates to your meals before exercising; adjust insulin appropriately before. Types of exercise

–The latest findings show that strength training has a profound effect on managing diabetes. In a recent study of Hispanic men and women, 16 weeks of strength training produced improvements in sugar control comparable to taking medication.

–Aerobic fitness helps decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes and helps manage blood sugar levels.

To see more of the El Paso Times, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.elpasotimes.com.

Copyright © 2010, El Paso Times, Texas

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit http://www.mctinfoservices.com.

Josefina has Type 2 diabetes.

She was diagnosed Nov. 29, three days after Thanksgiving, during her annual checkup.

The diagnosis left her dumbfounded.

"I was shocked; I really thought I took care of myself," she said. "Nobody in my family has diabetes. I never had any of the symptoms. I walked about a mile to a mile and a half every day and I ate the right foods, and my cholesterol was under control."

Her doctor has given her three months to manage the diabetes through exercise and diet. If that doesn't work, she will go on medication.

"I'm walking from five to six miles a day now and I'm trying to learn about how to eat properly," said Josefina, who attended a diabetes management course sponsored by the El Paso Diabetes Association. "It could hit anybody. I'm really going to try my best to beat this without having to go on medication."

Nearly 18 million people in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Most have Type 2 diabetes, in which the body doesn't effectively use the insulin it creates. Insulin is a hormone that takes sugar from the blood to the cells.

"The problem with diabetes is it's silent, it's chronic, and it doesn't have a cure," said Irma Herrejon, a diabetes specialist with the El Paso Diabetes Association. "People ignore it because it is silent. When you don't make the change in your lifestyle, you will have complications -- and those complications are the worst part."

The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes varies from person to person, depending on such factors as family history, ethnicity, weight and age.

Several complications can develop if diabetes is not treated.

"There could be retinopathy, which could lead to blindness; kidney disease, which could lead to death; neuropathy, which affects all the nerves in your body and could lead to amputation," Herrejon said.

She said the next step after being diagnosed is simple, in theory.

"Change your life; change the way you live," she said. "You need to educate yourself. When you know what you are eating or doing is not healthy and can lead to complications, you'll choose the right way to live."

Herrejon, who herself has had diabetes for 22 years, understands that a change in lifestyle can be difficult.

"The treatment for diabetes is in the change in your life style," she said. "The doctor can give you the medicine, but if you are still living like you used to, the medicine will be insufficient."

She wakes up at 5 every morning to exercise.

"If you're not used to exercise or eating right -- and I see it in every ethnic group -- it's going to be very difficult to change," she said.

The diabetes management class at the El Paso Diabetes Association is six hours of instruction, in which newly diagnosed diabetics learn the basics of diabetes treatment, complications, management, portion control in meals, and the role of exercise.

Las Palmas LifeCare Center also has a diabetes treatment center, which provides meal planning, a personalized exercise regimen and other services.

"We'll make sure that we put them on a program where diet and exercise is covered just for the patient," said Mike Flores, the director of Las Palmas LifeCare Center, 3333 N. Mesa. "Our doctor will also talk to the patient about stress and everything else that involves diabetes."

The diabetes patient will sit down with a dietitian and a certified strength and conditioning specialist to detail a plan.

"That is the difference," Flores said. "We do a little bit of what they do in the doctor's office, but we do a whole lot of the complementary stuff that surrounds it. Here, it's a slow-down version. The diet and exercise really makes the difference for people to improve their health."

Maria Prieto, 54, found out she is a borderline diabetic at her annual physical a few weeks ago.

"My blood-sugar readings came back too high at my last physical," she said. "My mom and my sister have diabetes, and I want to learn how to eat better."

Prieto also attended the diabetes management course sponsored by the El Paso Diabetes Association.

"I don't want to get diabetes. That's why I'm here, trying to learn all I can," she said. "I do a lot of walking, a lot of exercising. I'm just really worried I might have it. I feel like I'm in good health."

Diabetes education is key, even for parents of children with diabetes.

Carmen Enriquez's 10-year-old son, Richie Gomez, has had Type 1 diabetes -- in which the body does not produce insulin -- since he was 3 years old. Enriquez, whose parents have Type 2 diabetes, recognized the symptoms right away.

"It was a shock at first, but I knew I had to get as much education and information as I could for my son," she said. "We have to do this together. I taught him to check his glucose when he was 3."

As Enriquez is learning, so is Richie.

"He has to learn what I learn," she said. "I try to explain to him the importance of taking care of himself. He needs to do it for himself, because Mommy is not always going to be here."

Enriquez said it was difficult at first for Richie to understand why the other children could eat frosting and drink soft drinks.

"I let him be a kid, but at the same time I tell him he can't have two or three pieces of pizza anymore," she said. "He knows he should just have one slice. When we go to birthday parties, he knows to take off the frosting from the cake."

She said the El Paso Diabetes Association has been a blessing for providing camps for children with diabetes.

"I know a lot of moms want to put a shield around their children, and I was doing that, too," Enriquez said. "I learned through the association about teaching them their independence, and the camps he attends does wonders for his self esteem."

Richie would feel different around other children before going to the camps.

"He saw that he wasn't the only one who had to poke his fingers," Enriquez said. "He was just like everybody else."

Victor R. Martinez may be reached at vmartinez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6128.

Diabetes and diet There is no such thing as a "diabetes diet." The foods recommended for a diabetic are good for everyone. For people with diabetes, carbohydrates must be monitored. Carbohydrates have the greatest influence on blood sugar levels. A dietitian can provide nutrition education to develop a meal plan that fits your lifestyle and activity level, and meets your medical needs. The following are the basics of a healthy diabetes diet, courtesy of diabetes.webmd.com. --Eat a variety of foods.

--Eat the right amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight.

--Choose foods high in fiber. You need 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day. Studies suggest that people with Type 2 diabetes who eat a high-fiber diet can improve blood sugar and cholesterol.

--Do not skip meals.

--Eat meals and snacks at regular times every day. If taking a diabetes medicine, eat meals and take medicine at the same times each day.

--Small amounts of sugar are fine.

--Read food labels. Learn how to determine how much sugar or carbohydrates are in the foods that you eat.

--Substitute, don't add. When you eat a sugary food, substitute it for another carbohydrate that you would have eaten that day.

--Sugary foods can be fattening. Many foods that have a lot of table sugar are very high in calories and fat. Eat in moderation.

--Check your blood sugar after eating sugary foods and talk to your health-care provider about how to adjust your insulin if needed.

Diabetes and exercise The American Diabetes Association offers these exercise guidelines for those with diabetes: --Start slowly; gradually increase your endurance.

--Choose an activity you enjoy.

--Exercise at least three or four times a week for 20 to 40 minutes each session. An exercise program should include a five- to 10-minute warm-up and at least 15 to 30 minutes of continuous aerobic exercise or muscle-stretching exercises.

--Drink water before, during and after exercise.

--Do not ignore pain. Stop any exercise if it causes unexpected pain.

--Discuss with your doctor appropriate types of exercise.

--Do not exercise if your blood sugar is greater than 250 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter) and your ketones are positive. This is a sign you already may have a lack of insulin; exercise will only cause a greater rise in blood sugar.

--Learn the effects of various exercises on your blood sugar.

--Eat carbohydrates after exercise. Add carbohydrates to your meals before exercising; adjust insulin appropriately before. Types of exercise

--The latest findings show that strength training has a profound effect on managing diabetes. In a recent study of Hispanic men and women, 16 weeks of strength training produced improvements in sugar control comparable to taking medication.

--Aerobic fitness helps decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes and helps manage blood sugar levels.

To see more of the El Paso Times, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.elpasotimes.com.

Copyright © 2010, El Paso Times, Texas

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit www.mctinfoservices.com.

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Foods To Keep Colds at Bay

Posted Dec 6, 2010

The holiday season is upon us, and along with the festive lights and music, we often encounter the not-so-welcome sounds of coughing and sneezing.

Unfortunately, winter colds and flu can be part of the holiday happenings. Health officials advise the two most important things you can do to ward off winter ills are to wash your hands and to try to steer clear of folks who have a cold.

But what you eat and drink can make a difference, too. Good nutrition plays a starring role in keeping your immune system in high gear. That doesn’t mean you have to mega-dose on certain vitamins or stock up on foods claiming to be “immune boosters.” It turns out there are no super foods to help you battle bacteria and viruses.

However, a shortfall in the consumption of certain key nutrients can weaken your immune system so you’re more vulnerable to germs.

What do immune cells need to be their fighting best?

Registered dietitian Sharon Palmer, editor of Environmental Nutrition newsletter, says research points to a well-balanced diet including food sources of the mineral zinc and vitamins such as C, E and D as well as probiotics in yogurts. “It’s important to keep in mind that foods contain a synergy of nutrients that work in unison to provide health benefits versus supplements, which only provide one or two nutrients.”

It turns out the time-tested advice to eat your vegetables is the foundation for firming up immune function, too.

The generous roasted root vegetable side dish served at Craft Atlanta offers a delicious solution for healthy dining out this winter.

Chef Kevin Maxey oven-roasts a mix of parsnips, golden beets, rutabaga, winter squash and baby carrots tossed in olive oil and a little sherry vinegar.

Diet to dodge sniffles, or shorten duration

Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies to create protective coating on cell surfaces. The latest research, according to the National Institutes of Health, does little to support the belief that vitamin C is a sure thing to prevent a cold, but it plays a key role in speeding recovery. Vitamin C-rich foods: orange juice, grapefruit, lemons, limes, tomatoes, strawberries and bell peppers. Flying this holiday season? Order a hydrating and healthy mix of half orange juice and half sparkling water from the in-flight drink cart.

Vitamin E has been found to reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections such as the common cold. One of the most important anti-oxidant vitamins, it stimulates the production of natural killer cells that seek and destroy invading germs. Vitamin E-rich foods: nuts, olives, olive oil and leafy greens. Attention, partygoers: People who don’t exercise, consume a lot of alcoholic beverages and smoke need even more vitamin E to support the immune system.

Vitamin D: The “sunshine vitamin,” so called because skin produces vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight, is emerging as a big player in the immune system. Hmm, could it be a coincidence that the incidence of cold and flu is up when we spend more time inside during the winter? Go out for a walk in the winter sun, and enjoy vitamin D-containing foods such as salmon, sardines and fortified milk products.

Zinc: The body uses the mineral zinc to build infection-fighting T cells. The elderly are often deficient in zinc, so it’s an important nutrient to prioritize as we age. Many studies show zinc’s the thing to help shorten the duration of a cold. Zinc-rich foods: red meat, poultry, seafood (notably oysters), beans and nuts.

Probiotics: Yogurt’s live cultures increase beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, which is the frontline defense of our immune system. Palmer said, “The gut is the largest immune organ in the body, accounting for 25 percent of immune cells.”

Beta carotene: Found in orange-colored foods such as carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and mangoes, this powerful anti-oxidant becomes immune-boosting vitamin A in the body.

Mushrooms: Palmer’s focus on immune research for Environmental Nutrition found that mushrooms are capturing scientists’ attention. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that a powder made of white button mushrooms significantly increased killer cell activity when fed to laboratory mice. More palatable is the array of wild and foraged mushrooms consistently featured on Craft Atlanta’s menu. Feed your immune system and appetite for flavorful foods by ordering Maxey’s winter greens salad with roasted hen of the woods mushrooms and pumpkin seed brittle.

Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and co-author of “The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!” E-mail her at carolyn@carolynonei l.com.

The holiday season is upon us, and along with the festive lights and music, we often encounter the not-so-welcome sounds of coughing and sneezing.

Unfortunately, winter colds and flu can be part of the holiday happenings. Health officials advise the two most important things you can do to ward off winter ills are to wash your hands and to try to steer clear of folks who have a cold.

But what you eat and drink can make a difference, too. Good nutrition plays a starring role in keeping your immune system in high gear. That doesn't mean you have to mega-dose on certain vitamins or stock up on foods claiming to be "immune boosters." It turns out there are no super foods to help you battle bacteria and viruses.

However, a shortfall in the consumption of certain key nutrients can weaken your immune system so you're more vulnerable to germs.

What do immune cells need to be their fighting best?

Registered dietitian Sharon Palmer, editor of Environmental Nutrition newsletter, says research points to a well-balanced diet including food sources of the mineral zinc and vitamins such as C, E and D as well as probiotics in yogurts. "It's important to keep in mind that foods contain a synergy of nutrients that work in unison to provide health benefits versus supplements, which only provide one or two nutrients."

It turns out the time-tested advice to eat your vegetables is the foundation for firming up immune function, too.

The generous roasted root vegetable side dish served at Craft Atlanta offers a delicious solution for healthy dining out this winter.

Chef Kevin Maxey oven-roasts a mix of parsnips, golden beets, rutabaga, winter squash and baby carrots tossed in olive oil and a little sherry vinegar.

Diet to dodge sniffles, or shorten duration

Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies to create protective coating on cell surfaces. The latest research, according to the National Institutes of Health, does little to support the belief that vitamin C is a sure thing to prevent a cold, but it plays a key role in speeding recovery. Vitamin C-rich foods: orange juice, grapefruit, lemons, limes, tomatoes, strawberries and bell peppers. Flying this holiday season? Order a hydrating and healthy mix of half orange juice and half sparkling water from the in-flight drink cart.

Vitamin E has been found to reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections such as the common cold. One of the most important anti-oxidant vitamins, it stimulates the production of natural killer cells that seek and destroy invading germs. Vitamin E-rich foods: nuts, olives, olive oil and leafy greens. Attention, partygoers: People who don't exercise, consume a lot of alcoholic beverages and smoke need even more vitamin E to support the immune system.

Vitamin D: The "sunshine vitamin," so called because skin produces vitamin D when it's exposed to sunlight, is emerging as a big player in the immune system. Hmm, could it be a coincidence that the incidence of cold and flu is up when we spend more time inside during the winter? Go out for a walk in the winter sun, and enjoy vitamin D-containing foods such as salmon, sardines and fortified milk products.

Zinc: The body uses the mineral zinc to build infection-fighting T cells. The elderly are often deficient in zinc, so it's an important nutrient to prioritize as we age. Many studies show zinc's the thing to help shorten the duration of a cold. Zinc-rich foods: red meat, poultry, seafood (notably oysters), beans and nuts.

Probiotics: Yogurt's live cultures increase beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, which is the frontline defense of our immune system. Palmer said, "The gut is the largest immune organ in the body, accounting for 25 percent of immune cells."

Beta carotene: Found in orange-colored foods such as carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and mangoes, this powerful anti-oxidant becomes immune-boosting vitamin A in the body.

Mushrooms: Palmer's focus on immune research for Environmental Nutrition found that mushrooms are capturing scientists' attention. A 2007 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that a powder made of white button mushrooms significantly increased killer cell activity when fed to laboratory mice. More palatable is the array of wild and foraged mushrooms consistently featured on Craft Atlanta's menu. Feed your immune system and appetite for flavorful foods by ordering Maxey's winter greens salad with roasted hen of the woods mushrooms and pumpkin seed brittle.

Carolyn O'Neil is a registered dietitian and co-author of "The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!" E-mail her at carolyn@carolynonei l.com.

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Lose Weight, Stay Satisfied

Posted Nov 27, 2010

The sound of your stomach growling can be a reminder that losing weight is sometimes a pain.

Nutrition experts say the key to losing weight and keeping it off is not a strict, oppressive diet but making permanent lifestyle changes that you can live with.

“You do not have to eat less food to lose weight but change what kind of food you are eating,” said Indi Maharaj, a registered dietitian with Erlanger’s Chattanooga LifeStyle Center.

According to Brian Jones, registered dietitian at Memorial Hospital, a healthy rate of weight loss is between 1 and 2 pounds per week.

The Times Free Press spoke to area registered dietitians to assemble 10 tips on how to lose weight without going hungry.

1. Eat filling foods with a high water and fiber content, such as fruits and vegetables. Fiber takes a long time to digest and will keep you feeling satiated longer. Trade white flour pastas and bread for whole grain options, which tend to have fewer calories and are more nutritious.

2. Try to include some protein with each meal you eat. Protein moves slowly through the digestive system and can release a hormone to give the feeling of fullness. Three eggs for breakfast have the same number of calories as a bagel, but will keep you feeling satisfied longer.

3. Eat a moderate amount of fat (30 percent or less of your calories) each day. Healthy fats include olive oil, avocado, salmon, nuts and seeds. Try a glass of milk or some cottage cheese with fruit and flaxseed as an afternoon snack.

4. Give into cravings, in moderation. If you want chocolate, have a small piece of chocolate and really enjoy it. Otherwise, you’ll binge later.

5. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. If you’re trying to consume 1800 calories a day, try six 300 calorie meals rather than three 600 calorie ones. Eating smaller amounts more often will keep your blood glucose level stable and stave off the lethargy that can send you to the vending machine.

6. Never skip breakfast. Skipping meals will cause your body’s metabolism to slow down. When this happens, your body will store calories as fat rather than discarding them. Skipping meals and forgoing necessary calories can cause a permanent slowing of the metabolism leading to lifelong weight struggles.

7. Reduce meat consumption to no more than five ounces a day. Choose lean cuts and cut off any visible fat. Remove skin from poultry before cooking.

8. Get enough sleep. Poor quality sleep can raise stress hormones, which causes extra calories to be stored as fat. Getting sufficient sleep can raise metabolism, which might cause an increased appetite, but the reduced stress hormone will permit you to make better decisions.

9. Drink plenty of water. The recommendation is eight cups, or 64 ounces of water daily. Avoid sugary drinks and sodas.

10. Eat slowly. It takes a while for fullness signals to kick in. Really take the time to taste and enjoy your food. It is not the enemy. Let eating be an experience.

— Sources: Registered dietitians Pamela Kelle, Pamela Kelle Nutrition; Brian Jones, Memorial Hospital; Patrick Wortman, Center for Integrative Medicine; Indi Maharaj, Erlanger’s Chattanooga LifeStyle Center.

Sample daily menu for an adult female who is overweight (BMI29) and wanting to lose weight gradually, consuming an average of 1600 calories a day.

Breakfast:

8 oz skim milk (or soy)

1 small fresh orange

12 oz coffee (sugar free sweetener and 2 tsp skim milk)

6 oz of oatmeal with 1/4 cup of blueberries

Morning snack:

2 oz trail Mix (nuts, seeds, dried fruits)

6 oz herbal Tea (no sugar)

Lunch:

3 oz chicken breast sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and light mayo

One half cup tomato and cucumber salad with oil and vinegar

One cup vegetable soup

Afternoon Snack:

8 oz vegetable juice

1 oz cheddar cheese and 8 whole wheat crackers

Dinner:

4oz salmon steak

One half cup steamed broccoli with 1/2 oz cheese

One half cup mashed sweet potato

Night Snack:

8oz fruit smoothie made with fat free low sugar yogurt

Courtesy of Brian Jones, registered dietician, Memorial Hospital

—–

To see more of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.timesfreepress.com.

Copyright © 2010, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

The sound of your stomach growling can be a reminder that losing weight is sometimes a pain.

Nutrition experts say the key to losing weight and keeping it off is not a strict, oppressive diet but making permanent lifestyle changes that you can live with.

"You do not have to eat less food to lose weight but change what kind of food you are eating," said Indi Maharaj, a registered dietitian with Erlanger's Chattanooga LifeStyle Center.

According to Brian Jones, registered dietitian at Memorial Hospital, a healthy rate of weight loss is between 1 and 2 pounds per week.

The Times Free Press spoke to area registered dietitians to assemble 10 tips on how to lose weight without going hungry.

1. Eat filling foods with a high water and fiber content, such as fruits and vegetables. Fiber takes a long time to digest and will keep you feeling satiated longer. Trade white flour pastas and bread for whole grain options, which tend to have fewer calories and are more nutritious.

2. Try to include some protein with each meal you eat. Protein moves slowly through the digestive system and can release a hormone to give the feeling of fullness. Three eggs for breakfast have the same number of calories as a bagel, but will keep you feeling satisfied longer.

3. Eat a moderate amount of fat (30 percent or less of your calories) each day. Healthy fats include olive oil, avocado, salmon, nuts and seeds. Try a glass of milk or some cottage cheese with fruit and flaxseed as an afternoon snack.

4. Give into cravings, in moderation. If you want chocolate, have a small piece of chocolate and really enjoy it. Otherwise, you'll binge later.

5. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. If you're trying to consume 1800 calories a day, try six 300 calorie meals rather than three 600 calorie ones. Eating smaller amounts more often will keep your blood glucose level stable and stave off the lethargy that can send you to the vending machine.

6. Never skip breakfast. Skipping meals will cause your body's metabolism to slow down. When this happens, your body will store calories as fat rather than discarding them. Skipping meals and forgoing necessary calories can cause a permanent slowing of the metabolism leading to lifelong weight struggles.

7. Reduce meat consumption to no more than five ounces a day. Choose lean cuts and cut off any visible fat. Remove skin from poultry before cooking.

8. Get enough sleep. Poor quality sleep can raise stress hormones, which causes extra calories to be stored as fat. Getting sufficient sleep can raise metabolism, which might cause an increased appetite, but the reduced stress hormone will permit you to make better decisions.

9. Drink plenty of water. The recommendation is eight cups, or 64 ounces of water daily. Avoid sugary drinks and sodas.

10. Eat slowly. It takes a while for fullness signals to kick in. Really take the time to taste and enjoy your food. It is not the enemy. Let eating be an experience.

-- Sources: Registered dietitians Pamela Kelle, Pamela Kelle Nutrition; Brian Jones, Memorial Hospital; Patrick Wortman, Center for Integrative Medicine; Indi Maharaj, Erlanger's Chattanooga LifeStyle Center.

Sample daily menu for an adult female who is overweight (BMI29) and wanting to lose weight gradually, consuming an average of 1600 calories a day.

Breakfast:

8 oz skim milk (or soy)

1 small fresh orange

12 oz coffee (sugar free sweetener and 2 tsp skim milk)

6 oz of oatmeal with 1/4 cup of blueberries

Morning snack:

2 oz trail Mix (nuts, seeds, dried fruits)

6 oz herbal Tea (no sugar)

Lunch:

3 oz chicken breast sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and light mayo

One half cup tomato and cucumber salad with oil and vinegar

One cup vegetable soup

Afternoon Snack:

8 oz vegetable juice

1 oz cheddar cheese and 8 whole wheat crackers

Dinner:

4oz salmon steak

One half cup steamed broccoli with 1/2 oz cheese

One half cup mashed sweet potato

Night Snack:

8oz fruit smoothie made with fat free low sugar yogurt

Courtesy of Brian Jones, registered dietician, Memorial Hospital

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To see more of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.timesfreepress.com.

Copyright © 2010, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn.

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Holiday Drinks That Won’t Ruin Your Diet

Posted Nov 20, 2010

HOW TO … MAKE HEALTHIER HOLIDAY DRINKS

Many people put on a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s – and it’s not just food that’s to blame. Popular cold-weather beverages also can be packed with calories, fat and sugar. “They can really add up and do a number on your waistline,” says Gloria Tsang, a Washington-based registered dietitian. Here are tips from Tsang and other nutrition experts to make drinks healthier:

Substitute ingredients. Hot chocolate and eggnog still taste great with low-fat or skim milk instead of whole. You can also use egg substitutes in eggnog and keep it liquor-free.

Take advantage of antioxidants. Look for hot chocolate mixes with dark chocolate as the first ingredient; they have more flavonoids, compounds that can reduce inflammation linked to heart disease. Add some cinnamon to hot apple cider to help improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels. And drink a glass of red wine for antioxidants that may protect against heart disease and eye problems.

Stick to small sizes. Think of treats such as eggnog lattes and mochas as desserts, not drinks.

Beware of mulled wine. Adding sugar and spices to wine boosts the calorie count: a 5 oz. glass of mulled wine has about 175 calories, compared to about 125 in a glass of red wine. Have one small glass of mulled wine and then stick to plain – or water.

Hold the toppings. Cutting whipped cream from a drink such as peppermint mocha can save 60 to 70 calories and six to seven grams of fat, Tsang says. Apple cider without added caramel has about 25 fewer calories a cup.

Mix in zero-calorie drinks. After enjoying one sweet drink and maybe a glass of wine, stick with water or diet soda.

HOW TO ... MAKE HEALTHIER HOLIDAY DRINKS

Many people put on a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's - and it's not just food that's to blame. Popular cold-weather beverages also can be packed with calories, fat and sugar. "They can really add up and do a number on your waistline," says Gloria Tsang, a Washington-based registered dietitian. Here are tips from Tsang and other nutrition experts to make drinks healthier:

Substitute ingredients. Hot chocolate and eggnog still taste great with low-fat or skim milk instead of whole. You can also use egg substitutes in eggnog and keep it liquor-free.

Take advantage of antioxidants. Look for hot chocolate mixes with dark chocolate as the first ingredient; they have more flavonoids, compounds that can reduce inflammation linked to heart disease. Add some cinnamon to hot apple cider to help improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels. And drink a glass of red wine for antioxidants that may protect against heart disease and eye problems.

Stick to small sizes. Think of treats such as eggnog lattes and mochas as desserts, not drinks.

Beware of mulled wine. Adding sugar and spices to wine boosts the calorie count: a 5 oz. glass of mulled wine has about 175 calories, compared to about 125 in a glass of red wine. Have one small glass of mulled wine and then stick to plain - or water.

Hold the toppings. Cutting whipped cream from a drink such as peppermint mocha can save 60 to 70 calories and six to seven grams of fat, Tsang says. Apple cider without added caramel has about 25 fewer calories a cup.

Mix in zero-calorie drinks. After enjoying one sweet drink and maybe a glass of wine, stick with water or diet soda.

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Have a Healthy Holiday

Posted Nov 13, 2010

Everyone looks forward to wonderful holiday meals, but not many of us relish the idea of an expanded holiday waistline.

That’s why experts with the Texas extension service and Texas A&M University have offered some suggestions on altering traditional recipes and making better food choices to help cut holiday calories.

“The sugar, fat or salt content of almost any holiday recipe can be reduced without a noticeable difference in taste,” said Dr. Mary Bielamowicz, an extension nutrition specialist in College Station, Texas. “If a recipe calls for a cup of sugar, use two-thirds of a cup. If it calls for a half-cup of oil, shortening or other fat, use one-third cup. And if a recipe says to use one-half teaspoon of salt, use one-quarter teaspoon or omit the salt entirely.”

Holiday meals don’t have to be high in fat or calories to be tasty, said Dr. Connie Sheppard, a Texas extension agent for family and consumer sciences.

Bielamowicz said modifying more complicated recipes may not always produce the desired texture or flavor — so give your new recipes a test run before serving them to friends and family.

“But most changes in flavor or texture are typically not significant and are well worth the trade-off of a much healthier dish with less fat and fewer calories,” she said.

Here are some tips on how to do it.

–For more healthful substitutions to holiday recipes, try using plain low-fat yogurt or applesauce in lieu of butter or margarine. Fat-free, skim or low-fat milk can replace whole milk, and egg whites or an egg substitute can be used for whole eggs. Another more healthful substitution is to use whole-grain or bran flours in recipes calling for all-purpose flour.

–In some instances, cooks can replace one-quarter to one-half the amount of all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. But beware of substituting whole wheat flour for all the flour in a recipe, because it may not produce the same texture you’re used to.

–For vegetable casseroles, such as candied sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, try substituting baked sweet potatoes with a little brown sugar and butter substitute. For a green bean casserole, replace the full-fat mushroom soup with reduced-fat mush room soup or chicken soup or a defatted broth. In addition, use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk — and skip the fried onion topping.

–Try using reduced or non-fat cheese, milk, cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt or mayonnaise instead of their higher-fat counterparts. Evaporated milk can also be used instead of cream.

–When cooking vegetables, try steaming or roasting them, using a low-fat margarine or cooking spray. And when making mashed potatoes, replace butter with defatted broth — which will cut fat and calories from the final product.

–What to do for your main course? If you love turkey, you’re in luck. Turkey breast provides the lowest fat and highest protein content of any traditional holiday meat — and the healthiest way to cook turkey (or other meats) is baking.

“If you’re cooking a turkey, leave the skin on to contain the flavor, but then remove it afterward to reduce the fat content. Baste your turkey it in its own juice or use a de-fatted broth, and make the stuffing outside the turkey,” Sheppard said.

–Don’t stuff your turkey because the stuffing cooked inside the turkey absorbs more oil and many cooks have to overcook the turkey just to get the stuffing up to the required temperature.

–Substitute canola or vegetable oil in the same recommended amount for butter when baking holiday sweets such as cookies, cakes and pastries.

–Prefer barbecue during the holidays? Try brisket — which has a healthier fatty-acid composition than other cuts of beef, according to Dr. Stephen Smith, meat scientist in Texas A&M’s department of animal science.

Even though beef brisket contains tiny reservoirs of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, it still has about the same calorie content as other cuts of beef so your waistline doesn’t get much help from the change.

–Can’t part with your holiday barbecue or smoker? Try a smoked or barbecued turkey or chicken. “These are lower-fat, high-protein alternatives,” said Nelda Lebya Speller of the extension agency’s food and nutrition education program. “And you may want to also skip or go easy on the barbecue sauce since many of them have a high sugar content.”

Information on other healthful food substitutions can be downloaded at no cost from http://fcs.tamu.edu/food_and_nutrition/pdf/alteringrecipes.pdf.

Linda Shrieves can be reached at lshrieves@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5433.

—–

To see more of The Orlando Sentinel or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.OrlandoSentinel.com.

Copyright © 2010, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Everyone looks forward to wonderful holiday meals, but not many of us relish the idea of an expanded holiday waistline.

That's why experts with the Texas extension service and Texas A&M University have offered some suggestions on altering traditional recipes and making better food choices to help cut holiday calories.

"The sugar, fat or salt content of almost any holiday recipe can be reduced without a noticeable difference in taste," said Dr. Mary Bielamowicz, an extension nutrition specialist in College Station, Texas. "If a recipe calls for a cup of sugar, use two-thirds of a cup. If it calls for a half-cup of oil, shortening or other fat, use one-third cup. And if a recipe says to use one-half teaspoon of salt, use one-quarter teaspoon or omit the salt entirely."

Holiday meals don't have to be high in fat or calories to be tasty, said Dr. Connie Sheppard, a Texas extension agent for family and consumer sciences.

Bielamowicz said modifying more complicated recipes may not always produce the desired texture or flavor -- so give your new recipes a test run before serving them to friends and family.

"But most changes in flavor or texture are typically not significant and are well worth the trade-off of a much healthier dish with less fat and fewer calories," she said.

Here are some tips on how to do it.

--For more healthful substitutions to holiday recipes, try using plain low-fat yogurt or applesauce in lieu of butter or margarine. Fat-free, skim or low-fat milk can replace whole milk, and egg whites or an egg substitute can be used for whole eggs. Another more healthful substitution is to use whole-grain or bran flours in recipes calling for all-purpose flour.

--In some instances, cooks can replace one-quarter to one-half the amount of all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. But beware of substituting whole wheat flour for all the flour in a recipe, because it may not produce the same texture you're used to.

--For vegetable casseroles, such as candied sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, try substituting baked sweet potatoes with a little brown sugar and butter substitute. For a green bean casserole, replace the full-fat mushroom soup with reduced-fat mush room soup or chicken soup or a defatted broth. In addition, use low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk -- and skip the fried onion topping.

--Try using reduced or non-fat cheese, milk, cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt or mayonnaise instead of their higher-fat counterparts. Evaporated milk can also be used instead of cream.

--When cooking vegetables, try steaming or roasting them, using a low-fat margarine or cooking spray. And when making mashed potatoes, replace butter with defatted broth -- which will cut fat and calories from the final product.

--What to do for your main course? If you love turkey, you're in luck. Turkey breast provides the lowest fat and highest protein content of any traditional holiday meat -- and the healthiest way to cook turkey (or other meats) is baking.

"If you're cooking a turkey, leave the skin on to contain the flavor, but then remove it afterward to reduce the fat content. Baste your turkey it in its own juice or use a de-fatted broth, and make the stuffing outside the turkey," Sheppard said.

--Don't stuff your turkey because the stuffing cooked inside the turkey absorbs more oil and many cooks have to overcook the turkey just to get the stuffing up to the required temperature.

--Substitute canola or vegetable oil in the same recommended amount for butter when baking holiday sweets such as cookies, cakes and pastries.

--Prefer barbecue during the holidays? Try brisket -- which has a healthier fatty-acid composition than other cuts of beef, according to Dr. Stephen Smith, meat scientist in Texas A&M's department of animal science.

Even though beef brisket contains tiny reservoirs of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, it still has about the same calorie content as other cuts of beef so your waistline doesn't get much help from the change.

--Can't part with your holiday barbecue or smoker? Try a smoked or barbecued turkey or chicken. "These are lower-fat, high-protein alternatives," said Nelda Lebya Speller of the extension agency's food and nutrition education program. "And you may want to also skip or go easy on the barbecue sauce since many of them have a high sugar content."

Information on other healthful food substitutions can be downloaded at no cost from http://fcs.tamu.edu/food_and_nutrition/pdf/alteringrecipes.pdf.

Linda Shrieves can be reached at lshrieves@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5433.

-----

To see more of The Orlando Sentinel or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.OrlandoSentinel.com.

Copyright © 2010, The Orlando Sentinel, Fla.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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Transition to Gluten Free Cooking

Posted November 6, 2010

When you’re diagnosed with celiac disease or decide to avoid gluten for another reason, your diet gets the star treatment — it’s Extreme Makeover: Gluten Edition.

No wheat, barley, rye or their derivatives. For the most sensitive, no food that has even been in contact with them, prepared on the same surface or fried in the same oil. A whole range of fast-food options, convenience meals and restaurant choices is forbidden, capable of causing days of wrenching discomfort.

Suddenly, cooking becomes more attractive, perhaps for the first time. That’s where books like “Gluten-Free Cooking for Dummies” succeed. It’s part cookbook and part textbook, first explaining what gluten avoiders need to know and why.

The book teams gluten consumer expert Danna Korn with experienced gluten-free cookbook writer Connie Sarros. The result is an accessible, smart guide to a personal issue of daunting complexity.

After 100 pages of education, it gets rookies cooking with eggs, hard to mess up and easy to replace. There are breakfast breads and bagels too, part of the book’s focus on baking with different types of flour. Since it’s not easy for most gluten avoiders to find acceptable baked goods at the store, home baking becomes another technique many will try for the first time.

“We all love bread, cakes, pizza and pasta,” the book says. “Celiacs, especially those who are newly diagnosed, have nightmares of never being able to eat those processed carbohydrates again. None of these foods is traditionally gluten-free–but they can be!”

The authors suggest blending your own gluten-free flour replacement, which will re-quire a shopping trip to a well-stocked “natural foods” section. The mix includes rice flour,

potato starch, tapioca and another unusual ingredient: xanthan gum.

Setting up your kitchen to deal with the possibility of contamination won’t come naturally to most people, and it gets its own chapter. So does shopping for gluten-free ingredients, with a page on “saving money on ridiculously expensive ingredients.” (Try buying gluten-free staples by the case and asking for a manager’s discount.)

There are 150 recipes here, but you can only fit so many recipes into a printed book. The authors offer a step-by-step example of their strategies in converting gluten-heavy recipes into gluten-free dishes. agalarneau@buffnews.com

—–

To see more of The Buffalo News, N.Y., or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.buffalonews.com.

Copyright © 2010, The Buffalo News, N.Y.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

When you're diagnosed with celiac disease or decide to avoid gluten for another reason, your diet gets the star treatment -- it's Extreme Makeover: Gluten Edition.

No wheat, barley, rye or their derivatives. For the most sensitive, no food that has even been in contact with them, prepared on the same surface or fried in the same oil. A whole range of fast-food options, convenience meals and restaurant choices is forbidden, capable of causing days of wrenching discomfort.

Suddenly, cooking becomes more attractive, perhaps for the first time. That's where books like "Gluten-Free Cooking for Dummies" succeed. It's part cookbook and part textbook, first explaining what gluten avoiders need to know and why.

The book teams gluten consumer expert Danna Korn with experienced gluten-free cookbook writer Connie Sarros. The result is an accessible, smart guide to a personal issue of daunting complexity.

After 100 pages of education, it gets rookies cooking with eggs, hard to mess up and easy to replace. There are breakfast breads and bagels too, part of the book's focus on baking with different types of flour. Since it's not easy for most gluten avoiders to find acceptable baked goods at the store, home baking becomes another technique many will try for the first time.

"We all love bread, cakes, pizza and pasta," the book says. "Celiacs, especially those who are newly diagnosed, have nightmares of never being able to eat those processed carbohydrates again. None of these foods is traditionally gluten-free--but they can be!"

The authors suggest blending your own gluten-free flour replacement, which will re-quire a shopping trip to a well-stocked "natural foods" section. The mix includes rice flour,

potato starch, tapioca and another unusual ingredient: xanthan gum.

Setting up your kitchen to deal with the possibility of contamination won't come naturally to most people, and it gets its own chapter. So does shopping for gluten-free ingredients, with a page on "saving money on ridiculously expensive ingredients." (Try buying gluten-free staples by the case and asking for a manager's discount.)

There are 150 recipes here, but you can only fit so many recipes into a printed book. The authors offer a step-by-step example of their strategies in converting gluten-heavy recipes into gluten-free dishes. agalarneau@buffnews.com

-----

To see more of The Buffalo News, N.Y., or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.buffalonews.com.

Copyright © 2010, The Buffalo News, N.Y.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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Cheap and Healthy Tips for College Kids

Posted October 30, 2010

HEALTHY diet is often seen as expensive, but researchers at Harvard School have suggested that you don’t need a big budget to make big improvements to your diet, especially if you spend more on plant-based foods.

This is great news for students moving away from home for the first time who may have no experience of shopping or cooking for themselves.

Here are some easy tips to help save pennies while ensuring you get a balanced, heart-healthy diet.

Work out how much you can afford to spend on food each week; stick to your budget by planning your meals for the week ahead and making a list of the ingredients you’ll need. This will help prevent you from buying on impulse;

Buying processed foods can be more expensive than buying basic ingredients. Make meals from scratch that you can then freeze in serving-sized portions; this will help save money and avoid wasting food; Compare supermarket prices in your local area to see which are cheaper.

Look at supermarketown brands which can be less expensive and lower in fat and salt compared with well-known brands; Look out for a local market where you may find cheaper fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry.

Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season as you need it, so it stays fresh and nutrient-rich. Remember to stock up on frozen, tinned or dried fruit and vegetables that’ll last longer and still count towards your five- a-day;

Instead of buying lunch in the university canteen, which may offer tempting but unhealthy food that can also be expensive, make your own pack which you can tuck into wherever and whenever you want.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to break the bank; with some planning ahead every student can afford a hearthealthy diet to help keep mind and body ready for their university life.

e-mail lifestyle@heartresearch.org.uk

HEALTHY diet is often seen as expensive, but researchers at Harvard School have suggested that you don't need a big budget to make big improvements to your diet, especially if you spend more on plant-based foods.

This is great news for students moving away from home for the first time who may have no experience of shopping or cooking for themselves.

Here are some easy tips to help save pennies while ensuring you get a balanced, heart-healthy diet.

Work out how much you can afford to spend on food each week; stick to your budget by planning your meals for the week ahead and making a list of the ingredients you'll need. This will help prevent you from buying on impulse;

Buying processed foods can be more expensive than buying basic ingredients. Make meals from scratch that you can then freeze in serving-sized portions; this will help save money and avoid wasting food; Compare supermarket prices in your local area to see which are cheaper.

Look at supermarketown brands which can be less expensive and lower in fat and salt compared with well-known brands; Look out for a local market where you may find cheaper fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry.

Buy fresh fruit and vegetables in season as you need it, so it stays fresh and nutrient-rich. Remember to stock up on frozen, tinned or dried fruit and vegetables that'll last longer and still count towards your five- a-day;

Instead of buying lunch in the university canteen, which may offer tempting but unhealthy food that can also be expensive, make your own pack which you can tuck into wherever and whenever you want.

Healthy eating doesn't have to break the bank; with some planning ahead every student can afford a hearthealthy diet to help keep mind and body ready for their university life.

e-mail lifestyle@heartresearch.org.uk

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