Friday, December 29, 2006

Here I Come 2007

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! In light of the upcoming New Year, I sat down last night to make a list of my New Year’s resolutions for 2007. You see, every year I make not one but usually three resolutions for the upcoming year. Do I succeed at all of them? Of course not! But, I figure I have a much better chance of succeeding when I have three options to pick and choose from. So, without further ado, these are the things I will try to change and improve upon this year:

Truly incorporate healthier dishes into my diet.
That means using margarine (of course!) in all of my recipes, using skim milk instead of ½ percent milk, eating more heart healthy fish, basting my meat and veggies with fat-free marinades, etc. You get the gist of it. Basically, just focusing on living on a heart healthy lifestyle. The disease runs in my family, and I really want to take all precautions not to get it!

Exercise.
I must admit I don’t like physical fitness. I don’t enjoy pumping iron at the gym with men who look like they belong in a bodybuilding competition and women that could be models. So, I’ve decided to start taking walks around my neighborhood everyday after work. It will help burn calories plus relieve the stress that the workday inevitably brings!

Follow the golden rule ALWAYS. I try to be a good person most of the time but every once in a while I say or do something that I shouldn’t. I’m not going to gossip about people because it’s petty and hurtful, and I’m also going to try to be more aware of the feelings of others.

So there it is – my goals for the upcoming year. What are yours?

Welcome 2007 - Here I Come!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! In light of the upcoming New Year, I sat down last night to make a list of my New Year’s resolutions for 2007. You see, every year I make not one but usually three resolutions for the upcoming year. Do I succeed at all of them? Of course not! But, I figure I have a much better chance of succeeding when I have three options to pick and choose from. So, without further ado, these are the things I will try to change and improve upon this year:

Truly incorporate healthier dishes into my diet. That means using margarine (of course!) in all of my recipes, using skim milk instead of ½ percent milk, eating more heart healthy fish, basting my meat and veggies with fat-free marinades, etc. You get the gist of it. Basically, just focusing on living on a heart healthy lifestyle. The disease runs in my family, and I really want to take all precautions not to get it!

Exercise. I must admit I don’t like physical fitness. I don’t enjoy pumping iron at the gym with men who look like they belong in a bodybuilding competition and women that could be models. So, I’ve decided to start taking walks around my neighborhood everyday after work. It will help burn calories plus relieve the stress that the workday inevitably brings!

Follow the golden rule ALWAYS. I try to be a good person most of the time but every once in a while I say or do something that I shouldn’t. I’m not going to gossip about people because it’s petty and hurtful, and I’m also going to try to be more aware of the feelings of others.

So there it is – my goals for the upcoming year. What are yours?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A LIttle Margarine Vocab for You

Don’t we all like to think of ourselves as smarter than everyone else? We certainly don’t want to consider ourselves the dumbest in the crowd? I believe it’s innate to want to feel that you have more knowledge than the average human being. I might not be the smartest person out there but I, like everyone else, consider my self above average when it comes to intelligence.

That’s why, when possible, I learn new vocabulary and random facts that I can present to others to make myself look smarter than I actually am! Below is some margarine vocabulary (from the UK’s Margarine and Spread association) that might find useful one day because you just never know when the subject of margarine might come up! Happy holidays!!!


Retention of moisture:In bakery items, margarine can help retain a product’s moisture and therefore increase its shelf-life. It can also be used to baste foods that are cooked using dry heat, for example, when you spoon the fat over your Sunday roast.

Glaze: Placed on hot vegetables, margarine gives a glossy appearance. It also adds shine to sauces.

Plasticity: Fats do not melt immediately, but soften over a range of temperatures. This property is called plasticity, and gives each fat its unique character. The plasticity is due to the mixture of triglycerides, each with its own melting point. Some fats have been formulated so that their melting points are low and they can be spread straight from the fridge, e.g. soft margarine.

Flavour: All fats and oils have unique flavours and odours. Some are more suited for particular purposes than others, e.g. olive oil for salad dressing (for flavour) and lard for pastry (due to its blandness).Back to Top

Monday, December 18, 2006

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Wow, I can’t believe Christmas is exactly one week away. Where has December gone? I’m heading home to Houston on Friday but in the meantime, I’ve been in my kitchen whipping up some delicious goodies for friends. Below is a LOW-FAT recipe (courtesy of recipe4all.com) that is sure to tempt your taste buds. Naturally, it contains my dietary staple – margarine!!!

HOLIDAY DELIGHT CHEESECAKE (Lo-Fat)
Instructions:

Yield: 12 Servings
1 cups Graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoon Sugar
2 tablespoon Margarine, melted
3 package Fat-free Cream Cheese (8oz)
¾ cups Sugar
2 tablespoon Flour
3 tablespoon Lemon juice
3 tablespoon Cholesterol-free egg product
1 ct Non-fat lemon yogurt
Lite whipped topping
1 can Cherry pie filling



1. Heat oven to 350øF. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and margarine; mix well. Pat onto bottom of 9" or 10" springform pan. Set aside.

2. Beat cream cheese, sugar and flour together until light, fluffy and smooth. Gradually add lemon juice and egg product; beat well. Add lemon yogurt and mix thoroughly. Pour over prepared crust.

3. Loosely place aluminum foil over springform pan.

4. Bake at 350øF 60 to 70 minutes or until center of cake is set.

5. Gently run tip of knife between cake and edge of pan. Cool to room temperature before removing from pan. Chill.

Served topped with cherry pie filling and whipped topping. Per 1/12th serving:

Calories.....................216 Protein...................16g Carbohydrates................30g Total Fat..................4g Saturated Fat.................1g Cholesterol................9g Sodium.....................542mg Fiber......................6g % of Calories from Fat 17

* * * * *

Comparison:

Per Serving % Calories Fat from Fat Cholesterol -------------------------------------------- This Cheesecake 4g 17% 9mg

Regular Cheesecake 26g 63% 120mg

Your HOLIDAY DELIGHT CHEESECAKE (Lo-Fat) is ready. Good luck


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Thoughts About Saturated Fat

Well, I’m back from Chicago. It was a wonderful trip even if the temperature was 11 degrees during the day. No, I’m not kidding.

We shopped a lot and ate even more. While I was there I got to thinking about fat. Now, I know this is a very random thing to think about but when it comes to my life food is very important so naturally, fat plays a role.

Why do we need fat? If it’s so bad for us, then why is it so necessary for us to consume it?

According to margarine.org:

Fats do play a vital role in a balanced diet. Not only is fat an important energy-providing nutrient, some dietary fat is needed for the body to function properly. Fat assists the body in transporting and digesting fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E and K, but fat from vegetable oil sources also provide two essential fatty acids that the body requires. Health professionals do not recommend that individuals eliminate all fat from their diets. Rather, they state that a person’s diet should contain no more than 30 percent of total calories from fat and less than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat.

Now, there are different kinds of fats but in general, I try to avoid foods that are high in saturated fats, such as butter. I can almost feel my body cringe when I consume it. That’s how I ended up with margarine. I really enjoy the taste plus I don’t feel guilty about putting it into my body.

What your thoughts on saturated fat?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Overweight Human Snowwoman

I’m heading to the Windy City today and I must admit, I’m a little nervous. You see, I’m a Southern girl and do not deal well with cold weather. To me, 50 degrees is about the coldest I can handle.

Below is the predicted weather report from www.weather.com while I will be there:

Dec 6 Today
Occasional snow flurries developing. Morning high of 37F with temps falling to near 30F. Winds WNW at 10 to 20 mph.

Dec 6 Tonight
Snow flurries this evening will give way to partly cloudy skies during the night. Cold. Low 13F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph.

Dec 7 Tomorrow
Partly cloudy skies with gusty winds. Colder. High 16F. Winds NW at 20 to 30 mph.

Dec 7 Tomorrow night
Clear skies. Cold. Low 11F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 mph.

Dec 8 Friday
A few clouds. Highs in the upper 20s and lows in the low 20s.

Dec 9 Saturday
Mainly sunny and windy. Highs in the upper 30s and lows in the upper 20s.

A low of 13 degrees!!! Is that humanly possible? Anyways, I’ve already resigned myself to the fact that I will be looking a ridiculous fool, all bundled up in my winter clothing. Women from Chicago look adorable with their stylish yet functional winter clothing while I basically pile on as many clothes as possible onto my 5’3” frame. Think obese human snowman or should I say, snowwoman.

If anybody has any recommendations for things to do or see, I would love to hear them. I’m also a foodie so if you’ve got any restaurant recommendations, I’d really appreciate it!

Talk to you guys on Monday!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pfizer Stops Clinical Trial Experimental Cholesterol Drug

Yesterday was a somewhat disappointing day for those with high cholesterol. A new drug, torcetrapib, which was undergoing clinical trial, was found to be causing “a disproportionately large number of deaths and cardiovascular problems among patients receiving the drug,” according to HealthDay. Pfizer announced that an independent board had recommended the clinical trial be stopped.

“It’s big news.” Said Dr. Daniel Fisher, clinical assistant professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine. “This was going to be a blockbuster drug because it represented a new form of treatment – raising HDL cholesterol significantly. It had a lot of promise to it. Heart disease is the number one killer,” Fisher explained.

Unlike other cholesterol drugs, which lower the bad LDL cholesterol in the body, this drug would have raised the good HDL cholesterol.

Until a new drug is developed, Pfizer’ Lipitor will likely continue to be the most popular cholesterol drug on the market.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I Heart Pecans Almost as Much as Margarine

As a serious proponent of heart healthy eating, I wanted to bring to your attention a recent study that supports the benefits of yet another heart healthy food, pecans. Pecans are delicious in recipes or as a snack and provide numerous health benefits. Below is a recent press release discussing a clinical study that found eating about a handful of pecans each day may help prevent heart disease.

Who knew that consuming something so delicious might actually help you live longer? Read on and let me know what you think…

New research confirms antioxidant-rich pecans protect against unhealthy oxidation in the body

Loma Linda, California – New research from Loma Linda University (LLU) shows that adding just a handful of pecans to your diet each day may inhibit unwanted oxidation of blood lipids, thus helping reduce the risk of heart disease. Researchers suggest that this positive effect was in part due to the pecan’s significant content of vitamin E.

“Plant foods, including pecans, are rich sources of phytochemicals that can have a unique effect on the body,” says LLU researcher Ella Haddad, DrPH, associate professor, department of nutrition, School of Public Health.

Pecans contain different forms of vitamin E – known as tocopherols – which protects fats from oxidation. Pecans are especially rich in one form of vitamin E – gamma tocopherol.
“We found that eating pecans increased levels of gamma tocopherol concentrations in the blood and subsequently reduced a marker of lipid oxidation,” adds Dr. Haddad.

Oxidation of fats in the blood – a process akin to rusting – is detrimental to health. When the “bad” cholesterol becomes oxidized, it is more likely to build up and result in arteriosclerosis.

These latest research findings on pecan’s healthfulness were published in the recently released August issue of Nutrition Research. They are from the second phase of a research project designed to evaluate the health benefits of pecans, according to Dr. Haddad. She analyzed blood samples from study participants (a total of 23 men and women between the ages of 25 and 55) who ate two diets: one that contained pecans and one that did not. Participants were randomly placed on either the American Heart Association’s Step I diet or a pecan-enriched version of the Step I diet. (The pecan-enriched diet was similar to the Step I diet but replaced 20 percent of calories with pecans). After four weeks on one diet, they then switched to the other diet.

In the laboratory analysis of blood samples from the research subjects, Dr. Haddad’s team found that the pecan-enriched diets significantly reduced lipid oxidation (by 7.4 percent) versus the Step I diet. Oxidation levels were evaluated using the TBARS test, which measures oxidation products. The researchers also found that blood levels of tocopherols were higher after participants were on the pecan diet. Cholesterol-adjusted plasma gamma-tocopherol in the study participants’ blood samples increased by 10.1 percent (P < .001) after eating the pecan diet. The researchers concluded that these data provide some evidence for potential protective effects of pecan consumption in healthy individuals.
Another key research finding, beyond the reduced level of blood lipid oxidation, was that the various phytochemicals found in pecans seem to be protective of the pecan’s high levels of unsaturated fat. All unsaturated fats in foods can be prone to oxidation themselves (which some may describe in foods as rancidity).
So, did eating pecans lead to an increased risk of oxidation? No, according to this analysis, which found that pecans, while high in unsaturated fat, are “self-protective” due to their vitamin E content (tocopherols) and relatively high content of complex phytonutrients, some of which have been identified as proanthocyanidins, or condensed tannins, which are recognized for their ability to slow the oxidation process.
“We concluded that even though the pecan diet was high in unsaturated fats, which one may think would increase blood oxidation, that did not happen. We found the opposite result: the pecan diet showed reduced oxidation of blood lipids,” states Dr. Haddad.
The dramatic initial research findings from this research project were published earlier in The Journal of Nutrition by LLU’s Joan Sabate, MD, DrPH, professor and chair, department of nutrition, School of Public Health. He found that the pecan-enriched diet lowered levels of LDL cholesterol by 16.5 percent – more than twice as much as the Step I diet. Similarly, the pecan-enriched diet lowered total cholesterol levels by 11.3 percent (also twice as much as the Step I diet).
Loma Linda University is a health-sciences university with more than 3,000 students in seven schools – Allied Health, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Science and Technology. The university also includes a Faculty of Graduate Studies and a Faculty of Religion. The campus is located about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. For more information, check out http://www.ilovepecans.org/.