Friday, December 28, 2007

Cute Ways to Use Your Leftover Margarine Containers

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I also hope that most of you are snuggled warm in your beds as I write this and not slaving over your computers.

Here’s a cute article on the many things you can do with your leftover margarine containers. By the way, I hope everyone used margarine in their recipes for Christmas!

Before you discard common household items, think about whether they can be reused. Recycling is great, but preventing waste is always your best option — and often your most frugal one. Today, readers share multiple uses for a simple empty margarine tub. Consider these ideas before you decide to toss them.


DONATE: I give mine to the school art department. They use them for paint projects and storage. — Laurie, Florida I give them to the local soup kitchen to send home leftovers to the clients. — Missyali, Ohio

ODDS AND ENDS: I use them to store small things, such as hair accessories, buttons and tea bags, or leftovers for the fridge. I use neon-color labels on them. I use them to bring food such as dry cereal, crackers and fruit to work, too. — Shorty, Canada

PERFECT PORTION: I use them to make sure I have 1 pound of hamburger in each freezer package. The 16-ounce container will be just 1 pound filled. I also use them for freezer containers. I mark each one with masking tape and label what's inside and the date I froze it. One pound of homemade soup frozen is two small bowls. Most of my leftovers go into them, too, and they stack well in the freezer. — Brat, e-mail

SAVE MONEY: I send my husband's lunch to work in them. He never brings home my containers, so this way I'm not losing any money. — Sherry, Michigan

CRAFT RECIPES: I use them for the kids' homemade play dough. — Heather, New York

GARDENING: I use them to start seeds in and to scoop potting soil. — Denise, Colorado

CATCH DRIPS: I use the lids as trays under houseplants and for pantry items such as molasses, honey and corn syrup. — Marcia P., via e-mail

REFILL AND REUSE: The small tubs are great for filling from larger containers of yogurt, ice cream, bagged snacks, gelatin and nonfood stuff like glue and paint. You can use them for kitchen compost scraps or to save leftover vegetables for soup. I've used the larger containers to hold coffee filters and brown sugar, too. — Paula, e-mail

PIGGY BANK: They're perfect little snack cups for kids. They're easy to make a small change jar/bank with or use in a backyard sandbox or at the beach, too. — Janine T., e-mail

HOMEMADE BUTTER: I whip my own butter to increase the volume and store it in plastic tubs. Just whip half a pound of butter and 1\/4 cup of milk, or try 1 cup butter and 1\/2 cup canola or olive oil. You can experiment with a variety of flavors, like adding jam or honey. — Jennifer B., e-mail

CUPCAKE KEEPER: I keep small margarine containers because a cupcake or muffin fits perfectly in them for the lunch box and they do not get smashed or soggy. I reuse them when I have something gross like chicken skin and freeze them until garbage day. That way it does not stink up my trash. — Debra, Nebraska

FOR PETS: I use them as scoops for pet food and as drinking bowls for pets. — Brenda, e-mail

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stomp Out Those Butts

In celebrating the overall theme of my blog, Heart Health, I would like to congratulate a good friend of mine for quitting smoking. He has been a pack-a-day smoke since he was 18 (he's 28 now) and honestly believed he would never be able to kick the habit.

We all know that smoking kills. You hear it time and time again but for many people, it just doesn't sink in. My friend has long recognized the fact that smoking was very bad for his health but had never really made the effort to quit. Almost everybody I know that smoked has said quitting is the hardest thing they have ever done. Yet, it has also been the most positive.

There are many methods for quitting. Some go cold turkey, others prefer to pick a day and stop then. Many use cessation methods such as the patch, the gum, the inhaler pr prescription drugs. Each method is different and the individual must find what works best for them. There is no tried and true method.

Whatever method you choose, make the decision to stop. Your heart will certainly thank you.

According to the American Cancer Society:
20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drops
12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.
5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker's. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease.
15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker's.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy TGIF!!

Thank Goodness it is Friday!!! This week, with all of the holiday hustle and bustle plus all the craziness at work, has been absolutely insane. I plan to do some major Christmas shopping this weekend (along with the rest of the world) so there's quite a bit to do.

I'm off to go send some emails and return some calls but I hope everyone is getting into the holiday spirit. Cheers to all!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chocolate Sanwiches - Perfect For Kids of All Ages!

Kids of all ages will love this recipe because it's not only fun to eat but it's got food coloring in it, which kids adore.

Chocolate Sandwiches

Instructions:
Yield: 36 Servings

Sandwiches
½ cups margarine
1 cups Sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1¼ cups All-purpose flour
½ cups Unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon Baking soda
¼ teaspoon Salt

Filling
2½ cups Confectioner's sugar
¼ cups Butter; softened
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 tablespoon Milk
Red food coloring
Green food coloring

Cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Shape dough into two 1½" thick rolls. Wrap in waxed paper. Chill for several hours. Place slices on ungreased cookie Bake at 375 F for 8-10 min. or until almost firm.

Meanwhile, combine filling ingredients except food coloring and mint or strawberry extract. Beat until spreading consistency. If desired, divide filling half - tint half pink and half green. Add appropriate extract to each one. Cool cookies, then spread wrong side of cookie and top with second cookie.

Your Chocolate Sandwiches is ready. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Vancouver's Largest Gingerbread House

This story is just one of the many reasons I’ve vowed to spend more time in Canada. This is great and puts me in the Christmas spirit!!!

The World's Largest Gingerbread Man has, unfortunately, retired from the Hyatt Regency Vancouver's annual Gingerbread Lane, making way for Vancouver's Largest Gingerbread House.

The house is 11 feet high and 15 feet wide, and consumed 1.6 kg of brown sugar, 5 kg of icing sugar, 4 kg of margarine, 4 kg of molasses and 4 kg of flour.

For the next two Sundays, Vancouverites are invited to come to the hotel to decorate a gingerbread man for charity, with proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of B.C. and Yukon.

"We invite everyone to enjoy the spirit of Hyatt's Gingerbread Lane," said Steve McNally, Hyatt Regency Vancouver's General Manager. "The event is not only a feast for the eyes with gingerbread displays, but it raises much needed funds."

The event, which began last week, also features a four-foot-tall gingerbread man cut-out that people can put their face through to take photos. There will also be a collection of 36 handcrafted gingerbread houses on display from both professional pastry chefs and high school students.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Let's Talk Frank About Heart Disease, Frank

Most of us know the risks of heart disease and realize that it can cause death. Does knowing about heart disease affect our lifestyle choices such as the way we eat, whether we exercise, take medications, smoke? It appears not. However, a recent study indicates that adults at risk for heart disease are more likely to modify their behavior after having frank discussions with their doctor’s about heart disease than those who did not.

Patients prescribed to cholesterol medications often discontinue use because they do not believe the risk factors of high cholesterol necessarily affect them. Because of this, Dr. Steven A. Grover of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, decided to conduct a study to determine whether increasing patients’ knowledge of their heart disease risk profile might modify behavior in a positive, heart healthy manner.

According to Reuters,

“To find out, they randomly assigned 3,053 adults being treated for cholesterol problems to usual care or to receive a 1-page computer printout displaying their probability of developing heart disease in the next 8 years based on their current lifestyle, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other risk indicators.

During the study, reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the printout group also received ongoing feedback on how much they could cut their risk through lifestyle modification and drug therapy.

A total of 2,687 patients completed the 12-month study, and the researchers saw that those in the intervention group who kept track of their heart risk profile had small but significantly greater improvements in their cholesterol profiles.

The patients who were better educated about their heart risk profile were also more likely to reach cholesterol targets, the investigators found.”

Pretty interesting that once the risks are personalized, they become a reality for us. No more of the “that can’t happen to me mentality” because you realize that it can happen to you and will if you don't take care of yourself.

Just some food (heart healthy food of course!) for thought.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Emma's Healthy Holiday Plan" - Step #1

I don’t know about you guys but wow, did I stuff myself over Thanksgiving. Between all the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie I ate, I feel like I gained about 10 pounds this week! My jeans are so tight they barely zip.

In order to combat the holiday weight gain that so many people fall victim to, I’ve decided to start really focusing on maintaining my healthy habits during this binge-filled season. This week I’ll be giving you insight into “Emma’s Healthy Holiday Plan” – my effort to avoid the dreaded holiday weight gain.

The first thing I’m going to do is start keeping a food diary. I’ve found that I’m often a mindless eater, munching on calorie-laden snacks when I’m not even hungry. Writing down everything I eat helps me to track my caloric intake and see where the holes are.

I’ll fill you in on step number 2 of Emma’s Healthy Holiday Plan later this week.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Margarine as a "Super Food" in Fighting Heart Disease

Okay wow, am I the worst blogger on the face of the universe? I’m really sorry I’ve been such a huge slacker lately. Between business trips, the flu and car problems, every second of every waking hour has been packed.

Anyways, I’m always on the lookout for interesting articles on ways to fight heart disease. Here’s a goodie from the Indianapolis Star. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Some foods pack a particularly powerful punch when it comes to fighting heart disease.
"For some people, they're going to have a larger impact than others, depending on your family history," said Jennifer Jones, registered dietitian with St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana.

For those with a history of heart disease, eating a diet that includes these foods can at least delay heart disease or help recovery after a cardiac event, she said.

St. Vincent's Healthy Spirit magazine lists these five "super foods" that should be part of your diet:

1. Oatmeal: Oat bran in oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber, which binds to cholesterol, helping to remove it from your body and lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol. Other good fiber sources: kidney beans, apples, pears, citrus fruits, peas and Brussels sprouts.

2. Fish: Fatty types of fish are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower blood pressure and triglycerides. Good sources: salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring and albacore tuna.

3. Soy: Soybeans are a rich source of protein, calcium, iron, B vitamins and fiber, and contain plant chemicals called isoflavones, which help protect against many diseases.

4. Nuts: Although nuts are high in calories, their unsaturated fatty acids help lower cholesterol and keep blood vessels healthy. Almonds and walnuts seem to have the most heart benefits.

5. Margarine: Regarding heart health, margarine is better for you than butter, as long as it's fortified with plant substances called sterols or stanols

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Easing the Pain with a Little Cinnamon Toast

I'm so sorry for the lack of posts this week - what a slacker blogger I've been! In my defense though, this is probably the busiest time of year at work for me. Lots of meetings to attend and annual updates to prepare. In addition, I'm coming down with a nasty cold.

When I was a young girl and got sick my mother always used to make me cinnamon toast for breakfast. It's warm, sweet and hits the spot when you're not feeling 100%.

All you need to do to make cinnamon toast is spread some margarine on a piece of bread, sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and stick it under the broiler until it's toasted and voila!!

I promise I'll be back with more heart health news later this week.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Macaroni and Cheese That Packs Nutritional Bang!

Macaroni and cheese is one of the best comfort foods out there. You just can’t beat it in my book. This recipe (from Good Housekeeping) has a new take on an old classic and it’s just as delicious yet actually provides some nutritional value.

Enjoy!!!


INGREDIENTS

1 package (16 ounces) multigrain or whole wheat rotini or penne pasta
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons margarine
1 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) or cracker crumbs
3/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups reduced-fat (2%) milk
Salt and ground black pepper
10 ounces reduced-fat (2%) sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped

PREPARATION
1. Heat large covered saucepot of water to boiling over high heat. Add pasta and cook 2 minutes less than label directs. Drain pasta; transfer to large bowl. Stir in tomatoes; set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In microwave-safe small bowl, heat 1 tablespoon margarine in microwave oven on High 20 seconds or until melted. Stir in panko and 1/4 cup grated Romano until blended; set aside.

3. Meanwhile, in 4-quart saucepan, melt remaining tablespoon margarine over medium heat; add onion and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.

4. In 4-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk cornstarch into milk until blended. Whisk milk mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into onion mixture in saucepan; heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Boil sauce 1 minute to thicken slightly. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in Cheddar, basil, and remaining Romano until cheeses melt. Stir cheese mixture into pasta mixture.

5. Transfer pasta mixture to six 1 1/2-cup au gratin dishes or one 13" by 9" glass baking dish; top with panko mixture. Bake 20 minutes or until center is hot and top is lightly browned.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (based on individual servings)
Calories: 645
Total Fat: 21 g
Saturated Fat: 11 g
Cholesterol: 56 mg
Sodium: 1055 mg
Carbohydrates: 82 g
Fiber: 8 g
Protein: 34 g

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Here are a couple of silly Halloween jokes to brighten your day!

What do ghost add to their morning cereal?
Booberries!

What’s a vampire’s favorite sport?
Casketball!

What is Dracula’s favorite kind of coffee?
Decoffinated.

Where do ghosts mail their letters?
At the ghost office

What is a ghost favorite article of clothing?
Boojeans

I know, I know, they are super cheesy but isn’t that what Halloween’s all about?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

Who doesn’t love ice cream? I mean really, without ice cream my life would be filled with an empty void. Everyone’s got a favorite kind of ice cream. My mom loves plain old vanilla while my dad prefers mint chocolate chip. Me, I adore cookies and cream!

This cookies and cream cheesecake is great to serve at parties because its appearance is posh enough to impress even the snobbiest of guests. However, it often brings out the youthful side of people once they realize the desert tastes like cookies and cream ice cream. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser!

Cookies And Cream Cheesecake
Instructions:

Yield: 8 servings
2 cups Cream-filled Cookies *
6 tablespoon Margarine, Softened
1 Envelope Unflavored Gelatin
¼ cups Cold Water
8 oz Cream Cheese Softened
½ cups Sugar
¾ cups Milk
1 cups Whipping Cream, Whipped
1¼ cups Cream-filled Cookies **
* The cookies (24) should be chocolate cream filled cookies and be
to as fine as can be done.
** These cookies should be chocolate cream-filled cookies and should be
coarsely chopped.


Combine cookie crumbs and margarine; press onto bottom of 9-inch spring form pan. Soften gelatin in water; stir over low heat until dissolved. Combine cream cheese and sugar, mixing at medium speed on an electric mixer until well-blended Gradually add gelatin mixture and milk, mixing until well blended. Chill until mixture is thickened but not set. Fold in whipped cream. Reserve 1½ C cream cheese mixture; pour remaining cream cheese mixture over crust. Top with cookies and reserved cream cheese mixture. Chill until firm.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

Who doesn’t love ice cream? I mean really, without ice cream my life would be filled with an empty void. Everyone’s got a favorite kind of ice cream. My mom loves plain old vanilla while my dad prefers mint chocolate chip. Me, I adore cookies and cream!

This cookies and cream cheesecake is great to serve at parties because its appearance is posh enough to impress even the snobbiest of guests. However, it often brings out the youthful side of people once they realize the desert tastes like cookies and cream ice cream. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser!

Cookies And Cream Cheesecake
Instructions:

Yield: 8 servings
2 cups Cream-filled Cookies *
6 tablespoon Margarine, Softened
1 Envelope Unflavored Gelatin
¼ cups Cold Water
8 oz Cream Cheese Softened
½ cups Sugar
¾ cups Milk
1 cups Whipping Cream, Whipped
1¼ cups Cream-filled Cookies **
* The cookies (24) should be chocolate cream filled cookies and be
to as fine as can be done.
** These cookies should be chocolate cream-filled cookies and should be
coarsely chopped.

Combine cookie crumbs and margarine; press onto bottom of 9-inch spring form pan. Soften gelatin in water; stir over low heat until dissolved. Combine cream cheese and sugar, mixing at medium speed on an electric mixer until well-blended Gradually add gelatin mixture and milk, mixing until well blended. Chill until mixture is thickened but not set. Fold in whipped cream. Reserve 1½ C cream cheese mixture; pour remaining cream cheese mixture over crust. Top with cookies and reserved cream cheese mixture. Chill until firm.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Can I Take a Vacation From My Vacation?

Phew!!! I had forgotten just how exhausting vacations can be. Between the packing and unpacking, traveling to and from the airport and waiting in ridiculously long lines while actually at the airport, I'm tuckered out!

My trip was wonderful and thank you for all of the birthday wishes. Much fun was had, lots of money was spent and way too much food was consumed. I was pleasantly surprised to see that all of the restuarants I dined at served margarine instead of butter. Perhaps it's because New York City recently banned trans fats at all restuarants.

As I've told you time and time again, most margarines today are low in trans fat and many of them are trans fat free!

I will fill you in more on my adventures in New York but first I've got to take a nap!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

It’s hard to believe it but my 25th birthday is finally almost here. To celebrate this momentous occasion (ha!) I’m heading to New York City for a couple of days to visit a friend. This will be a much-needed break from a stressful couple of weeks.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. I won’t be posting while I’m gone (wipe those tears) but I’ll give you an update on my trip upon my return.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Myth: Margarine is One Molecule Away From Plastic

I get emails from people about this topic all of the time so I will continue to post articles that address the myth that margarine is one molecule away from plastic. Here’s one reporter from the Montreal Gazette’s explanation of the myth:

This is no joke!" As soon as I see that phrase pop up in an email, I know what's coming. I'm going to be warned about some nasty substance that is unravelling the very fabric of society. Like margarine. It is "one molecule away from plastic," a widely circulating email proclaims.

Even flies are smart enough to stay away from it. We also have to be on the lookout for mouldy pancake mix, which apparently is lying in wait to kill us. Sodium benzoate, a common preservative, can trigger Parkinson's disease. And the MMR vaccine for children? Trading in mumps, measles or rubella for autism is not an attractive proposition.

These warnings, often forwarded by good Samaritans looking out for our welfare, are generally based on some sort of misinterpretation of scientific research. But not always. Margarine being "one molecule away from plastic" is just plain nonsense. Plastics are composed of long molecules called polymers, while margarine is a blend of fats and water. There is no chemical similarity between the two. In any case, being "one molecule away" is a totally meaningless expression.

Substances are made of molecules, which in turn are composed of atoms joined together in a specific pattern. I suppose one might say that hydrogen peroxide, H2O2, is one atom away from water, H2O, but even this is meaningless. That extra oxygen atom changes the properties of the substance dramatically. Stick your finger into a bottle of pure hydrogen peroxide and you will quickly experience the effect of that extra oxygen.

Even if margarine had some chemical similarity to plastic, which it does not, its properties could still be dramatically different. Slight alterations in molecular structure can account for very significant changes in properties. As far as flies staying away from margarine goes, I have yet to see a study confirming the allegation. In any case, our dietary decisions should not be based on the dining habits of flies

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Bad Marriage May Kill You

New research from the University College of London indicates a bad marriage might actually kill you! A study of more than 9,000 people revealed those with the worst marriages were 34 percent more likely to have heart attacks or other heart problems than those with good marriages.

“What we add here is that, ‘OK, being married is in general good, but be careful about the kind of person you have married.’ The quality of the relationship matters,” said lead author Roberto De Vogli.

To me, it’s kind of common sense that one would be “careful about the kind of person you have married.” You’re not going to marry someone you think will cause you stress, anxiety and sadness, right? I would certainly hope not!

This study is just further proof to me that the people should truly make sure that they person they marry is the right one. If you’re with someone that might actually increase your risk for heart disease, it’s probable to say they aren’t the right one. Talk about dying for the one you love – WOW!!!

By the way, Congrats to Kim who recently married someone she knows won't increase her risk for heart disease!!! Best of luck to you both!

Monday, October 08, 2007

What's Your Exercise Strategy?

Phew! I am exhausted today. As part of my daily routine, I have been forcing myself to get up and hit the gym before work. Many people think I’m crazy to wake up at 4:45 in the morning and go run on the treadmill. However, I learned long ago that after work there is no way I would ever make it to the gym. I’m exhausted and the last thing I want to do is go exercise. As the clock hits five, I can practically hear my couch calling my name.

Each person must assess their own habits and find a fitness routine that works best for them. Some people are like me and prefer to get it out of the way in the morning. I find that by starting my day with exercise, I’m more likely to continue my healthy habits throughout the day. It helps me make better eating choices and I have more energy to keep me going all day long.

Others feel that a good workout after a long strenuous day is just what the doctor ordered. Breaking a sweat and relieving tension after a workday helps many people leave the stress of the office behind and sleep better at night.

And yet others have different routines such as working out during their lunch break or breaking the exercise into small increments throughout the day. Some people can't stand the thought of the gym and take their exercise outdoors.

Whatever method you prefer, be sure you’re getting some form of exercise for at least 30 minutes five times a week.

Happy Monday everyone!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Garlic Parmesan Pasta

I am a total carb lover and pasta is by far my favorite carb to indulge in. This recipe is easy (as are all the recipes I post on my blog) and hey, anything with garlic is sure to come out delicious, right?!

Garlic Parmesan Pasta
Instructions:

Yield: 4 servings
½ cups Margarine
2 teaspoon Dried Basil; Crushed
2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder W/Parsley
¾ teaspoon Seasoned Salt
8 oz Fettuccine; Cooked & Drained
1½ cups Broccoli Floweretts; Cooked
3 tablespoon Walnuts; Chopped
½ cups Parmesan Or Romano Cheese

Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the basil, lemon juice, garlic powder and seasoned salt, blending well. Add the fettuccine, broccoli, walnuts and parmesan cheese, blending well and tossing to coat the fettuccine.

PRESENTATION:

Serve with a fresh spinach salad.

Your Garlic Parmesan Pasta is ready. Bon appetit!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Avoid Being Misdiagnosed

I’m posting this because I think it’s incredibly important to recognize the importance of finding a knowledgeable doctor that you can trust. Having a general practitioner you can rely upon is one of my first priorities when moving to a new city.

According to CNN.com some diseases are more commonly misdiagnosed than others. Here they are:

1. Aortic dissection: Sometimes aortic dissections are easy to diagnose -- a patient feels a distinct tearing sensation in his or her chest. But other times they're pretty easy to miss because the symptoms could point to other diseases, says Dr. Robert Bonow, past president of the American Heart Association. "Sometimes it feels like heartburn," he says.

2. Cancer: In a Harvard study of malpractice claims in the U.S., cancer was far and away the most misdiagnosed illness, primarily breast and colorectal. Study authors attributed this to doctors failing to stick to cancer screening guidelines.

3. Clogged arteries: Sometimes doctors tell patients they're short of breath because they're out of shape, when it's actually coronary artery disease, says Bonow, who's also the chief of cardiology at Northwestern Medical School.

4. Heart attack: Sound strange? How could a doctor miss a heart attack? Bonow says the big and obvious attack -- the one where someone clutches his or her chest and falls to the floor, the one Bonow calls "the Hollywood heart attack" -- isn't always so clear. Sometimes the only signs of a heart attack are a sense of fullness in the chest, nausea and a general sense of not feeling well.

5. Infection: In the Harvard study, infection followed cancer as the most misdiagnosed condition.

Here’s how to avoid being misdiagnosed:

1. Ask for more tests
Actually, Nancy Keelan says, demand more tests. For more than three years, Keelan says, she complained to her gynecologist about irregular, heavy bleeding, and for three years he told her she was entering menopause and not to worry. Keelan says it turned out she had both advanced endometrial and ovarian cancer. "I believe he missed my diagnosis five times," says Keelan, who was 46 when she got her correct diagnosis.

Keelan, a registered nurse, now speaks to women's groups, telling them not to let more than three weeks go by if they're having new, strange symptoms. She says if the doctor tells you it's no big deal, you can frame your request this way: Tell your doctor you know it might be nothing, but would it do any harm to have a simple test? She says a simple ultrasound, would have caught her cancer much earlier.

2. Ask, "What else could my illness be?"
Let's say you've been experiencing shortness of breath when you exercise, and your doctor tells you you're just out of shape. You can ask your doctor if it could possibly be something more dangerous. Dr. Mark Graber, chief of medicine at the Veteran's Administration in Northpoint, New York, says the single most common cause of misdiagnosis is a doctor's failure to consider other possibilities after an initial diagnosis is reached. "It's called premature closing -- the minute they come up with a diagnosis, they don't think about a better solution," he says.

3. Don't assume no news is good news
Another source of misdiagnosis: Lab results get lost or forgotten.
A study by Dr. Tejal Gandhi at Harvard Medical School found that up to 33 percent of physicians did not always notify patients about abnormal test results. "No news is not good news," says Dr. Saul Weingart, vice president for patient safety at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. "It might be that the report fell down behind someone's desk."

4. Assume your doctors don't talk to one another
Our experts said doctors often don't share information about test results. One piece of advice: Use that conference call function on your cell phone. Make phone appointments with your doctors at the same time, and then conference them all together.

5. Be wary when your doctors work in shifts
The title of Gandhi's 2005 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine says it all: "Fumbled Handoffs: One Dropped Ball after Another." In it, she describes how a hospital patient's tuberculosis was misdiagnosed partly because test results weren't passed on when doctors changed shifts.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Nutrition Misinformation on Margarine

I’m posting this article from EarthTimes.org in whole for two reasons: 1.) It supports the use of margarine over butter, noting margarine is recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, American Medical Administration and the American Heart Association. 2.) It discusses misinformation on the Internet, which is a rapidly growing problem.


PRINCETON, N.J., Sept. 21 A U.S. survey showed that an overwhelming number of people are following health and nutrition advice from the Internet -- but many don't believe its accuracy.



Opinion Research Corp. polled more than 1,000 U.S. adults across the United States and found of the two-thirds of people seeking information from the Internet, 82 percent said they are specifically seeking health and nutrition advice, however, of this group 62 percent believe its accuracy.



Nonetheless, 89 percent said they follow the advice.



A statement by the American Dietetic Association said that food and nutrition misinformation can have harmful effects on the health, well being and economic status of consumers.



For example, almost all soft margarine free of trans fat, but many Web sites still advise people to choose butter, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration supports soft margarine as the healthier option, as does the American Heart Association.



"Soft margarine is a healthier choice because of its content of good fats and because many are available in lower calorie versions," Dr. Barbara Howard of the American Heart Association's Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism, said in a statement.

Nutrition Misinformation on Margarine

I’m posting this article from EarthTimes.org in whole for two reasons: 1.) It supports the use of margarine over butter, noting margarine is recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, American Medical Administration and the American Heart Association. 2.) It discusses misinformation on the Internet, which is a rapidly growing problem.

PRINCETON, N.J., Sept. 21 A U.S. survey showed that an overwhelming number of people are following health and nutrition advice from the Internet -- but many don't believe its accuracy.

Opinion Research Corp. polled more than 1,000 U.S. adults across the United States and found of the two-thirds of people seeking information from the Internet, 82 percent said they are specifically seeking health and nutrition advice, however, of this group 62 percent believe its accuracy.

Nonetheless, 89 percent said they follow the advice.

A statement by the American Dietetic Association said that food and nutrition misinformation can have harmful effects on the health, well being and economic status of consumers.

For example, almost all soft margarine free of trans fat, but many Web sites still advise people to choose butter, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration supports soft margarine as the healthier option, as does the American Heart Association.

"Soft margarine is a healthier choice because of its content of good fats and because many are available in lower calorie versions," Dr. Barbara Howard of the American Heart Association's Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism, said in a statement.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Baked Stuffed Peppers...Mmmm!

Baked Stuffed Peppers
Instructions:

Yield: 1 servings
1/8 cups Long-grain brown rice
1/16 cups Minced parsley
Salt
½ Eggs, slightly beaten
1 lg Sweet peppers, red or green
1/16 teaspoon Dried oregano leaves,crumble
¾ tablespoon margarine
1/16 cups 4 oz. chopped green chiles
¼ md Onion, chopped
Black pepper
1/8 cups Finely diced celery
1/8 cups Shred. sharp Cheddar cheese
1/8 cups Sunflower seeds

Cook rice in 1-½ cups boiling salted water for 35 mins or until tender. Drain if necessary. Set aside. Cut peppers in half. Remove seeds and white membrane. Parboil peppers in boiling salted water for 5 mins. Arrange in slightly oiled, shallow 1-½ qt baking dish. Melt butter in small skillet. Add onion, celery, and sunflower seeds. Saute until onion is tender. Remove from heat. Stir into rice. Add parsley, eggs,oregano, chiles, black pepper, and salt to taste. Fill peppers with mixture. Sprinkle cheese on top. Put about 1/3 cup hot water in bottom of dish. Bake at 400* for about 20 mins. Good served with: Stewed tomatoes and corn bread (bake corn bread along with peppers).

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

BHF Launches Heart Health Campaign to Encourage People to Get Moving

So this really surprised me – a recent poll conducted by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found that only 38 percent of people living in the United Kingdom would exercise more after being told their lives depended on it. 38 percent??? That is mind-boggling to me.

If someone told me I was gonna die if I didn’t get off my butt and start moving I would be up faster than you could blink.

In response to this disturbing statistic, BHF has launched a television advertising campaign to encourage UK adults to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Many health experts believe exercising for just 30 minutes a day can reduce a person’s risk for heart disease by 50 percent.

“For many people, exercise has become an ugly word, something to avoid at all costs – but you’d be amazed how easy it is to up the tempo of your heartbeat,” said Dr. Mike Knapton, director of prevention and care at the BHF.

The BHF poll also found that a motivating factor for women to exercise is their figure (17 percent) compared with just 7 percent of men.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Dreaded Move is Complete

The move is finally complete! You know, for all the worrying I did about the whole prcoess, it was fairly painless. By noon on Saturday my amazing movers had transported everything from my old condo into my glorious new house.

I'm in love with my house - the look, the feel, the location - it's perfect! The house was built in 1933 so it's got some kinks and a few things that need to be fixed but it's got personality.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. I'm supposed to be working right now so I've got to get something done!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"Margarine - is it healthier than butter?"

I’m desperately trying to become more technically savvy but it’s not easy. There’s so many different tools on the Internet today that I just can’t seem to keep up. I thought having a blog might help my “techy skills” and it has a little bit, but certainly not enough.

I’m very proud of myself though because I listened to a Podcast today. My very first Podcast and it was all about margarine and eating heart healthy. The Podcast was from the Mayo Clinic and was entitled, “Margarine – is it healthier than butter?” The registered dietitian from the Mayo Clinic, Katherine Zeratsky, stated,

“Quite generally speaking, margarine is the better choice…Now with the many choices of different margarines, they have made the margarines contain less trans fat, and therefore there are some better choices out there.”

If you are interested, the Podcast is available here: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/margarine/HB00097

Unrelated Side Note: I'm moving into my new house on Saturday and I've discovered packing is the most miserable thing in the world!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Marshmallow Fudge

Lately I've been really into baking. Granted, I'm no Betty Crocker but this Marshmallow Fudge is right up my ally. Even the novice baker could manage it and it really satisfies those chocolate cravings I often seem to have.

Marshmallow Fudge



Instructions:
Yield: 36 servings

1 package Marshmallows (12oz)
1 package Chocolate bits (12oz)
4½ cups Sugar
2 Hershey milk choc bars
1 can Evaporated Milk
½ lb Margarine
2 cups Nuts
1½ teaspoon Vanilla

Directions:
Boil sugar and milk for 12 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over other ingredients in large bowl, stir until chocolate and marshmellows are dissolved. Add vanilla and nuts, then pour into greased pan.

From the Kitchen of: Mary Jacobson

Your Marshmallow Fudge is ready. Happy cooking!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Many Teens with High Blood Pressure Undiagnosed

Here's an interesting little tidbit...

High blood pressure among children and teens is becoming increasingly prevalent yet is often undiagnosed, suggests a study published in the August 22nd issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is commonly linked to such diseases as juvenile diabetes, kidney disease or heart disease. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland examined the medical records of more than 14,000 children and adolescents ages 3 to 18 and found that of the 507 cases of high blood pressure identified by the researchers, nearly three quarters of that group had not been diagnosed. “If abnormal blood pressure is not identified by a patient’s pediatric clinician, it may be years before the abnormal blood pressure is detected, leading to end-organ damage,” noted the researchers. However, lead researcher Dr. Matthew Hansen and his team offer a possible solution to the problem – hospitals should implement a computer program designed to automatically identify high blood pressure in children based on previous blood pressure readings and patient age, sex and height.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Movin' On Up

I’m moving! Technically speaking I’m only moving about ten minutes away from where I currently live but it will feel like miles away.

My three roommates (count ‘em – three) and I will be moving into a deliciously beautiful house in the Virginia Highlands area in just a few short weeks. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Virginia Highlands, it’s a great part of Atlanta filled with eclectic shops, quaint restaurants and hopping bars. Technically there are six parts, or “villages” in Virginia Highlands, each with its own personality. It’s my favorite area of Atlanta and I’m delighted to be moving there.

After I got over the pure glee of moving, I suddenly remembered something – I abhor moving!!! I hate packing up the loads of crap I’ve accumulated in the past couple of years, dealing with movers, the hard labor and the general pain in the butt process it takes moving into a new place.

So while I’m still excited about my soon-to-be new home I’m dreading all of the miserable details in between. These are the times I wish I was still in college where a simple call to Mom and Dad would remedy the problem. They would be over here in a jiffy for fear that I would mess something up if left to my own devices, which was a completely rational fear for them to have.

This time around they’ve offered to help – at a distance. They will offer insight, advice and listen to me moan and groan but they won’t be lifting a finger. Sigh…

Updates soon to come.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Margarine vs. Butter

This is a really great article on the debate between margarine vs. butter and margarine is the clear winner. Sorry for the short post – I’m so busy today!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Margarine Spill Causes Traffic Jam

I never knew that margarine had the ability to cause a major traffic problem? According to an article from Stuff.co.nz, a truck carrying a load of margarine accidentally spilled its contents on a frequently traveled road in Melbourne.

According to the article, “Workers are at the scene, along with the fire brigade, ambulance, police and two heavy-haulage tow-trucks.” All of the margarine must be removed by hand so it’s a very tedious process.

Who knew my favorite heart healthy spread could cause such a raucous!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Delicious Sirloin Burgers with Tomato Corn Salsa

Annie, over at Mixed Salad Annie, recently made history on her blog and posted her first burger recipe. I often check out her site because she always provides delicious yet fairly simple recipes. Being that I'm not the best cook in the world, I absolutely adore her recipes.

I try to incorporate a little red meat into my diet. One, because every once in a while I crave some read meat. And two, because a little red meat can actually be good for you. Just remember, all things in moderation. Here's her recipe for Sirloin Burgers with Tomato Corn Salsa. Enjoy~

Sirloin Burgers with Tomato Corn Salsa
Salsa:12 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped (I used 1 large organic field tomatoes)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
1/2 cup cooked fresh corn or thawed frozen corn kernels (I used fresh)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I used my own grown Italian parsley)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Burgers:
4 - 1/4 pound 93% lean sirloin burgers
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon grill seasoning
Dash of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

To make the salsa: Toss the tomatoes with the salt and drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Combine the tomatoes, corn, lime juice, garlic, cilantro/parsley, and olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and toss well.

To make the burgers: Preheat the oven broiler. Season the burgers with the the grill seasoning and salt and pepper. Spray a foil lined baking sheet with the cooking spray and place the burgers on it. Cook for about 3 minutes per side for medium well or to your liking.
Top with salsa and serve immediately.



Mixed Salad Annie

Thursday, August 09, 2007

S-S-S-Stress

Yeah, I don't know what's up with the weird headline of my blog entry - my brain is fried today and I couldn't come up with anything.

Lately I have been stressed with a capital “S.” My job, which I truly love, has been a little crazy and I’m starting to feel its effects, both emotionally and physically.

Yesterday I noticed that my insatiable appetite for all things chocolate had suddenly begun to wane. WHOA!! This is warning sign that something in my life is just not right. Chocolate is an integral part of my everyday life and when I turn it down, I know something is amiss.

Then last night although I was exhausted I tossed and turned all night. The thoughts in my head simply would not turn off no matter how hard I tried. Even my beloved sleep prescription of hot chocolate and an awesomely bad cheesy movie didn’t even do the trick. Sigh…

Today I’m irritable, worn out and just plain tired. I’ve been doing fairly with my eating habits (incorporating margarine into my diet whenever I can, of course!) and I’ve been working out in the morning before work.

To help combat my stress I’m thinking I will now try taking up yoga, which is rumored to help reduce stress by calming the body and mind. I’ll keep you updated as to how it goes.

It’s almost Friday everybody – hang in there!

Monday, August 06, 2007

I Heart Margarine Receives Web Award!

I just found out that my blog was chosen as one of MyHeartCentral.com’s Top Sites. According to their Web site,

“Our 2007 Top Site winners include small websites and individual blogs and were chosen based on their candid and informative content. In giving these awards, we hope to recognize the individuals and organizations who share our vision in providing comprehensive, interactive and vital information on living with heart disease.”

This is very exciting news for me as the purpose in starting in this blog was to provide information about heart disease and how everyone can live a heart healthier life. Thanks so much MyHeartCentral.com!

If you would like to check out the other heart health winners, please visit: http://www.healthcentral.com/heart-disease/top-sites.html.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Herbed Garlic Croutons

This makes a simple yet elegant addition to any salad:

Herbed Garlic Croutons


Instructions:

Yield: 4 servings
4 tablespoon Margarine (unsalted)
2 Cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon Basil
½ teaspoon Oregano
2 cups Whole wheat bread cubes,½"

In a large skillet, heat margarine. Add seasonings. Cook for about 1 minute to soften. Stir in bread cubes and saute until browned and crisp. Scatter on tops of soups or salads just before serving. Makes 2 cups. VARIATIONS: - try other seasonings of your choice such as curry powder, cut into cubes. Spread on ungreased baking sheet. Toast in 400 deg F oven for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown and crisp. Store in tin at room temperature for 1-2 days; some of their crispness will be lost if stored in plastic container. They may be reheated and crisped in 350 deg F oven for 5 minutes.

Your Herbed Garlic Croutons is ready. Happy cooking!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tracking U.S. Obesity Rates

A friend sent me this fascinating and very disturbing map today. It tracks obesity rates in the U.S. by state from 1985 to 2004. You just sit and watch the colors change over the years. It really shows how we are just getting fatter and fatter.

Check it out! http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2007/fit.nation/obesity.map/

If we don’t all do our part now, obesity will be the leading cause of preventable death soon, surpassing cigarettes. I actually read a study the other day that said in the year 2015, three out of four adults in the U.S. will be overweight. Come on people! Pay attention to what you put into your mouth and be sure to regularly exercise.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Fabulous Benefits of Fiber

My goal for this week was try and add some more fiber to my diet. Each week I try and make a new healthy living goal that I hope to incorporate into my everyday lifestyle.

Most of you already know that I’m huge on living a heart healthy lifestyle, especially due to heart disease running in my family. Well, this week I decided that I wanted to try and add more fiber to my diet because it’s so beneficial to the body.

What are the benefits of fiber? Well, I’m glad you asked:

According to Yahoo, getting enough fiber in the diet can lower the risk of developing certain conditions:

· Heart disease. Evidence is now growing to support the notion that foods containing soluble fiber (such as oats, rye barley, and beans) can have a positive influence on cholesterol, triglycerides, and other particles in the blood that affect the development of heart disease. Some fruits and vegetables (such as citrus fruits and carrots) have been shown to have the same effect.

· Cancer. The passage of food through the body is sped up when fiber is eaten. Some experts believe this may prevent harmful substances found in some foods from affecting the colon and may protect against colon cancer. (However, a recent study conducted by Harvard University concluded that eating high-fiber food did not appear to protect people from colon cancer.) Other types of cancer that are linked with overnutrition and may be prevented by a fiber-rich diet include breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer.

· Diabetes. Adding fiber to the diet helps regulate blood sugar levels, which is important in avoiding diabetes. In addition, some people with diabetes can achieve a significant reduction in their blood sugar levels and may find they can reduce their medication.

· Diverticular disease. Diverticular disease is a condition in which small pouches, called diverticula, develop in the wall of the colon. In a small percentage of people, these diverticula become inflamed or infected, a condition known as diverticulitis. Diverticular disease can cause pain, diarrhea, constipation, and other problems.

· Gallstones and kidney stones. Rapid digestion leads to a rapid release of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream. To cope with this, the body has to release large amounts of insulin into the bloodstream, and this can make a person more likely to develop gallstones and kidney stones (in addition to diabetes and high cholesterol).

Why not try and incorporate some fiber into your diet today? You’ve got nothing to lose weight. Wait, scratch that, fiber can be beneficial in weight control so you just might lose some weight!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sorting Fat From Fiction

There’s so much health information on the Web that it’s often difficult to discern fact from fiction. One of my major difficulties when it comes to health is understanding the different kinds of fats. Monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, trans fats, omega fatty acids, etc. It can be so confusing!

I think the average consumer knows that there are good fats and bad fats but isn’t quite sure which is which. Let’s see if this article from Memphis Commercial Appeal can help sort things out.

The fat facts


Omega-3 fats: Though actually in the polyunsaturated category, generally considered to be in a class by themselves. Work hard at reducing heart disease, cancer, swollen joints, even may help eczema and depression. Found in the company of fish, shellfish, flaxseed, walnuts and canola and liquid soybean oil.
Prime performance: Lowers bad cholesterol, raises good cholesterol.

Mono-unsaturated fats: Long-term experience lowering bad fats and raising good fats in the blood. Also may help manage blood sugar levels. Monos are found in olives, olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, cashews, almonds, peanuts and avocados.
Prime performance: Lowers bad cholesterol, raises good cholesterol.

Polyunsaturated fats: Although still recognized as a leader in their field for lowering cholesterol levels, demoted several years ago behind omega-3 fats and monos. Chief fat in walnuts, flaxseed, whole grains and vegetable oils, including canola, safflower, soybean and corn oils.
Prime performance: Lowers bad cholesterol, raises good cholesterol.

Saturated fats: Have held the same low-level position for decades. Known to clog arteries and suspected of other dealings affecting heart health. Chief fat in animal foods -- fatty beef, pork, lamb, butter, cream, ice cream and other full-fat dairy products. Acceptable in small doses; should make up only 10 percent of your total staff.
Prime performance: Raises bad cholesterol.

Trans fats: Long-term experience raising artery-clogging bad cholesterol in the blood. Used in many packaged foods -- crackers, cakes, cookies, pastries, cereals, soups and salad dressings. Often goes by the name "partially hydrogenated vegetable oil."
Prime performance: Raises bad cholesterol.

Human resources note: Trans fats are increasingly unwelcome in any business spawning a nationwide movement to create "trans fat-free" frying oils, margarines, cookies, crackers and snack chips.

Note from Emma: You will be hard pressed to find many types of margarine with trans fats in them. Margarine manufacturers have been leading the pack in removing trans fats from their products. Score: one for margarine and zero for trans fats!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What's the Shelf Life of Margarine?

I just learned something new about my beloved margarine today. Naturally, my random factoid was brought to me by the ever-wise Heloise. I love that woman!

Let's test your Heloise hint IQ. Ready? What is the refrigerator shelf life of margarine?

a. Two to three months
b. Four to six months
c. Eight to 12 months

If you chose "a," you get to go to the front of the class! Margarine has a refrigerator shelf life of two to three months. There is usually a "use by" date on the margarine, so check it out, too. Margarine can be frozen for six to eight months for longer storage. – Heloise

Monday, July 09, 2007

My New Southern Obsession

Living in the South, you are pretty much required to love grits. When I first came to Georgia from Texas I had no idea what everyone’s obsession was with this tasteless, bland dish. That is until I went to a friend’s house and had them covered in margarine, cheese, salt and pepper. It was divine!!! Here's a great recipe!

Garlic Cheese Grits
Instructions:

Yield: 8 Servings
1 cups Grits; uncooked
3¾ cups Water
½ teaspoon Slat
1/3 cups Skim milk
3 tablespoon Tub margarine
½ teaspoon Garlic powder
4 oz Velveeta cheese; light
1 cups Sharp cheddar cheese; grated
Fat
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


Cook the grits in the salted water. Once cooked, stir in milk and cook a few more minutes. Then add the margarine, garlic, Velveeta cheese, sharp cheddar cheese and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until the margarine and cheese have melted. Put in a casserole sprayed with vegetable oil cooking spray and sprinkle with paprika. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Good News for U.K. and Heart Disease

Wow, some actual good news from Bloomberg.com

Risk of Heart Disease in U.K. May Be Overstated, Report Says
By Kari Lundgren and Kristen Hallam

July 6 (Bloomberg) -- The number of U.K. residents at risk for heart disease may be overestimated by as many as 1.9 million, according to a report today in the British Medical Journal.
A new method incorporating more factors including family history and socioeconomic backgrounds resulted in an estimate that 3.2 million adults were at high risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers said in the study. Previous methods of gauging the risk predicted the figure may be as high as 5.1 million.

Such over-estimates place substantial strain on the country's National Health Service resources and exposes patients to unnecessary treatments and possible side effects, the researchers said. In 2004, the disease cost the U.K. economy 29.1 billion pounds ($58.5 billion), according to an Oxford University study published by the on-line journal Heart in March 2006.

The new method ``takes account of social deprivation to better identify patients most at risk of heart disease and stroke who are most likely to benefit from treatment,'' study leader Julia Hippisley-Cox, professor of clinical epidemiology and clinical practice at the University of Nottingham, said in a statement.

Cardiovascular disease kills more than 110,000 people in the U.K. every year, making it the country's most deadly disease, according to the Department of Health.

The study tracked the incidence of cardiovascular disease in more than 1.2 million people between the ages of 35 and 74 over a 12-year period, comparing the predictions of three indexes. Researchers found that the new QRISK method, which takes into account the extra factors, was more accurate than a recently developed Scottish score called ASSIGN and the Framingham risk equation, which is the most used. The Framingham index, developed in the U.S., may overestimate risk in European populations by as much as 50 percent, researchers said.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Welcome to the Jungle

This blog post is going to be fairly quick today as I’m at work, trying to prepare for the four-day week. Actually, the next three weeks of July will be 4-day weeks for me due to a few quick vacations so I’m pretty pumped.

You know what I’m not pumped about? The air conditioning in my building at work must be on the fritz because it is sweltering in here. People are sweating, grumpy and falling asleep at their desks because of the devilish heat in my office.

There are should be an employee Bill of Rights and one of the items should be the right to go home when your office is a sweltering jungle.

I’m trying so hard to get work done but it seems as though every time I try to move, my shirt gets stuck to my back and my jeans feel like garbage bags suctioned to my legs. People it is hot in here and it’s not just my gorgeous looks that are bringing on the heat!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Margarine Nightmare

Okay don’t make fun of me now. I had a dream about margarine last night. I know I know, I must be a pretty lame person if all I’ve got to dream about is margarine. Well, even though you don’t know me, you’re just going to have to take my word that I’m actually a pretty decent person who does have a life beyond that of margarine.

In my dream I was at a restaurant about to eat a delicious stack of hot pancakes. You could see the steam rising up from the pancakes and they smelled scrumptious. Side note, I didn’t know that you could smell things in your dream but apparently in my dreams you can.

Anyways, I always spread my pancakes wit a generous portion of margarine and then immerse them in syrup. I need lots of syrup or they don’t taste right.

Well much to my dismay there was no margarine to be found. Sure, there was loads of butter on the table but butter is bad for your health and margarine can be a good for you as long as it’s part of an overall healthy diet.

I asked and asked the waiter for margarine but he said they didn’t have any and that they had ran out. I had to eat my pancakes without margarine? AHHH!! It was at that second that I awoke from my horrible nightmare. As I write this I’m sitting at my table eating pancakes covered in maple syrup and of course…margarine.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Little Insight on the "Five Second Rule"

I read this on Ask Yahoo! this morning and I couldn't resist posting:


Dear Yahoo!:
Is there any truth to the "five second rule" about food that falls on the floor?


This piece of folk wisdom maintains it's hygienically safe to eat food dropped on the ground, provided it's been there no longer than five seconds. Generations of school kids have pleaded "the Five," popping potato chips into their mouths after swiping them off the floor.

But is this maxim, first codified by Genghis Khan who used a 20-hour limit (the steppes of central Asia being so immaculate), actually true? For disappointed butterfingers, two experiments provide somewhat inconclusive guidance.

The first, at the University of Maine, counted the number of bacteria clinging to various downed eats. Results? Contrary to what you might expect, the number of bacteria on "wet" foods like cheese actually decreased the longer the food was on the floor, seemingly making five seconds too short a time for wet foods, rather than too long.

In another study, a Chicago high-school student won an Ig Nobel Award after measuring the bacteria on Gummy bears and cookies dropped around a university campus. Astoundingly, she found the floored food was relatively bacteria-free. However, when she deliberately exposed the food to floor tiles inoculated with E. coli, contamination did indeed occur within five seconds. Foods with higher levels of naturally occurring microflora, such as meat, cheese, and vegetables, attracted the germs fastest.

So the rule is really in the eye of the beholder. Though most observers seem to think it wishful thinking at best, the particularly hungry might want to consider where the food was dropped, the relative food wetness of the food and the floor, etc. But more importantly -- is anyone watching?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Oven-Baked Buttermilk Chicken

Yield: 4 Servings

1 Envelope of Golden Onion Soup Mix
1 cups Unbleached All-purpose Flour
2 Large Eggs
½ cups Buttermilk *
3 lb Chicken Cut into Serving Pieces
¼ cups Margarine, melted
* Substitution: Blend 1½ t lemon juice with enough milk to
equal ½
cup; let stand 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine golden onion recipe soup mix with flour; set aside. Beat eggs with buttermilk. Dip chicken pieces in buttermilk mixture, then flour mixture, coating well. Place in large shallow baking pan, on rack, and chill 30 minutes. Drizzle with butter, then bake 45 minutes or until well done. NOTE: This is a great recipe for picnics or just eating on the patio.

Your Oven-Baked Buttermilk Chicken is ready. Thanks to recipe4all.com for this delicious and simple recipe!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Celebrities and Heart Disease

Can you guess which celebrities have or had a connection with heart disease? Let’s test your heart health smarts!

David Bowie
Peter Boyle
Toni Braxton
Drew Carey
Dick Cheney
Bill Clinton
Phyllis Diller
Mike Ditka
Bob Dole
Kirk Douglas
Linda Evans
Victoria Gotti
Kate Jackson
Elton John
Larry King
Ashton Kutcher
David Letterman
Regis Philbin
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Elizabeth Taylor
Vanessa Williams

So, which ones did you guess? If you guessed all of them then you are correct! Heart disease does not discriminate and could care less how much money or fame a person has.

Celebrities and Heart Disease

Can you guess which celebrities have or had a connection with heart disease? Let’s test your heart health smarts!

David Bowie
Peter Boyle
Toni Braxton
Drew Carey
Dick Cheney
Bill Clinton
Phyllis Diller
Mike Ditka
Bob Dole
Kirk Douglas
Linda Evans
Victoria Gotti
Kate Jackson
Elton John
Larry King
Ashton Kutcher
David Letterman
Regis Philbin
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Elizabeth Taylor
Vanessa Williams

So, which ones did you guess? If you guessed all of them then you are correct! Heart disease does not discriminate and could care less how much money or fame a person has.

Friday, June 01, 2007

TGIF!

Friday is finally here! You would think with it being a short week that this week would go by so quickly. Wrong! I feel as if this week has been longer than ever. Incredibly long hours at the office may have been contributing to this though. Thank goodness I love my job because it’s been crazy here!

Not much on tap for the weekend. Spending time at the pool tomorrow followed by the Virginia Highlands festival, which is supposed to be tons of fun. I’m a sucker for arts, crafts, jewelry and live music.

I hope everyone has a heart healthy weekend! Be careful and if you’re planning on spending time outside in the sun be sure to wear sunscreen!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Snopes.com Debunks Margarine Myths

Snopes.com is one of my favorite Web sites out there. If you haven’t heard of it, basically it’s a Web site that debunks common myths. For example, will eating pop rocks and soda at the same time make your stomach explode? Or, will a tooth left in a glass of soda dissolve overnight?

Snopes.com debunks myths of all kind from fraud to old wives’ tales to food myths. They have an entry on the email circulating about margarine. This email contains a significant amount of misinformation, specifically that margarine was made as a turkey fattener and that it is one molecule away from plastic.

Check out what Snopes.com has to say about this myth.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Chocolate Rapsberry Spriz

The combination of raspberry and chocolate is definitely one of my favorites. This recipe is really simple to make, even for a beginner baker. I don't consider myself to be a good baker so if I can make this, you can too!!!

Chocolate Raspberry Spritz*

Instructions:
Yield: 96 servings
1½ Foil-wrapped bars nestle; Bars (3 oz)
¾ cups margarine
1 cups Sugar
½ teaspoon Salt
1 Egg
½ cups Raspberry preserves
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
3 cups All-purpose flour
1 package Nestle tollhouse Morsels (9 oz)

Preheat oven to 350'F. In small saucepan over low heat, melt Nestle unsweetened. In large mixer bowl, beat butter, sugar and salt until creamy. Blend in egg. Bake 8-10 minutes until set. Let stand 1 minute. Remove from cookie sheets.

Makes 8 dozen cookies.

Your Chocolate Raspberry Spritz is ready. Good luck!

*** Recipe courtesy of recipeforall.com

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Soggy Disposition

I really do love the spring but I’ve got to say that all of this pollen is for the birds…or for the bees I guess. I have been a total grouch at work this week and I think people are ready to call mutiny.

Let me explain. I’m one of those people that needs their eight hours of sleep every night, must eat properly and exercise on a regular basis. Yes, one of the reasons is to maintain the all-important heart health but the other is so that I don’t rage like a total psychopath.

One misstep from my routine and my whole body is thrown off. I haven’t been sleeping well due to my allergies and in turn, haven’t been able to get up and exercise in the mornings. This leads to poor eating habits, which in turn, creates a monster. I yell at people who don’t deserve it, I’m not as productive at work and my head pounds like there’s a little elf with a hammer inside of it all day long.

In order to try to combat my foul mood I made sure to allot plenty of quality sleeping time last night. Luckily, the pollen was a bit better and I finally had the energy to get my lazy body out of bed to exercise this morning. For breakfast, I had a sesame bagel with margarine and low fat cream cheese topped with slices of fresh tomato. It was scrumptious and heart healthy!

Starting today I’m going to stop feeling sorry for myself and get up and do something about my soggy disposition.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Did You Know?

In 1902, 32 states and 80% of the U.S. population lived under margarine color bans. While the Supreme Court upheld such bans, it did strike down forced coloration (pink) which had begun in an effort to get around the ban on yellow coloring. During this period coloring in the home began, with purveyors providing capsules of food coloring to be kneaded into the margarine. This practice continued through World War II.

Amendments to the Federal Margarine Act raised the tax on colored margarine five-fold, but decreased licensing fees for white margarine. But demand for colored margarine remained so strong, that bootleg colored margarine flourished.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Heart Health News From NHLBI

A new guide to help women improve their heart health was issued by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) entitled, “The Healthy Heart Handbook for Women.”

This guide is free to download and offers tons of great tips for women who want to improve their health. The guide also recommends that women who have high blood pressure and hypertension may want to consider following the DASH diet, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet places emphasis on fruits, veggies, whole grains, low fat dairy products, fish, etc. It’s a very sensible diet that can be maintained for a lifetime.

In this booklet, there are suggestions about how many servings of the various types of foods one should consume for heart health. NHLBI recommends consuming 2-3 servings of fats and oils such as margarine, mayonnaise and light salad dressing.

So to the naysayer who believes margarine can’t be part of an overall healthy diet –take that!! Margarine can be an integral part of an overall diet and can help people who want to improve their heart health.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Misinformation on the Internet About Margarine

Okay, work is really crazy today and I’ve got tons of cleaning to do before my parents arrive from Houston on Friday. However, I did just want to post a few paragraphs from this quickie article. This myth that margarine is one molecule away from plastic is ridiculous but some people continue to believe misinformation on the Internet.

Q: My mother-in-law e-mailed my teens an article that says margarine is one molecule away from plastic. It also said if you leave margarine out in the woods, wild animals will ignore it, and it is far healthier to eat butter. Please help us with the butter vs. margarine wars in our house.


A: Apparently, this Internet rumor has been around since 2003, and shows no signs of dying. Let's look at a couple of the claims you heard.

The statement that margarine is "one molecule away from plastic" is essentially meaningless. According to the Snopes site, many substances share a similar chemical structure, but when the chemical structure is changed, it can mean the difference between an OK food and one that is inedible, or a poison.

To find the heart-healthy margarines, look for those with the least saturated fat and no (or very low) trans fat (these are generally in the tubs or liquid squeeze bottles).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms and Shrimp

During the spring and summer when the weather gets warm, nothing satisfies my taste buds like a delicious, light meal. This recipe, from Recipe4all.com, is really simple but will impress even the snobbiest of food snobs.

Spaghetti Squash With Mushrooms and Shrimp

Instructions:

Yield: 6 servings
1 Spaghetti squash, about 2 lb
4 oz Fresh mushrooms
1 lb Medium shrimp
2 tablespoon Margarine, divided
1½ tablespoon Flour
¾ cups Milk, 2
% (low fat) 1 tablespoon Dry sherry
½ cups Grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh ground black pepper
¼ cups Corn flake crumbs

Boil shrimp with seasonings, let cool then peel and devein. Cut shrimp into small pieces, or shread. Set aside. Weigh squash, determine microwave time at 6 minutes per pound. Place squash, whole, on a glass pie plate. Microwave on high for 2 minutes; pierce rind in 4-6 places with an ice pick. Turning squash over, halfway through cooking, microwave on high for the time determined. Let stand while preparing the rest of the recipe. Place mushrooms in a 2-cup glass measure; cover with vented plastic wrap. Microwave on high 1¾ minutes. Remove mushrooms and add 1 tablespoon margarine to liquid. Blend in flour with a wire whisk, then add milk. Whisking midway through cooking, microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in sherry, cheese and pepper. Add cooked mushrooms and shrimp, mix well. Cut squash in half, remove seeds. Use a fork to scrape strands of squash from the rind. Place strand in a 1½ qt casserole, pour mushroom sauce over squash; toss to combine. Place remaining 1 tablespoon margarine in a custard cup; microwave on high 30 seconds, or until melted. Blend in corn flake crumbs. Distribute over the top of squash. Microwave on high for 1 minute, or until hot.

Your Spaghetti Squash With Mushrooms and Shrimp is ready. Bon appetit!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pollen is a Pain for Allergy Sufferers

Ah, spring is in the air…and so is the pollen. I think that 2007 is going down as the worst allergy season I’ve had yet. The pollen has been out of control! In Atlanta, everything has been dyed a lovely shade of yellow. My normally cherry red SUV, it’s now yellow. My tan condo, it’s yellow too.

At work people are constantly sniffling, sneezing, coughing and scratching their eyes. It’s ridiculous and miserable! Is there any reprieve in sight? Nobody knows, but according to the Harvard Medical School, approximately 40 to 50 million Americans suffer from allergies.

The Harvard Medical School also offers a few tips for easing the annoyances of allergies:

Stay indoors when the pollen count is high, and especially on dry, windy days.

Stay indoors between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., when airborne pollen is likely to be at its highest.

Shut your home windows at night.

Keep car windows closed when driving.

Take a vacation to the coast (where pollen count is low) during pollen season.

Have someone else cut your grass.

Don’t hang your clothes to dry outside.

Happy Friday and happy sneezing!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What Makes Your Cholesterol High or Low?

I found this on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Web site. It explains the various risk factors for having high cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease.

Heredity. Your genes influence how high your LDL ("bad") cholesterol is by affecting how fast LDL is made and removed from the blood. One specific form of inherited high cholesterol that affects 1 in 500 people is familial hypercholesterolemia, which often leads to early heart disease. But even if you do not have a specific genetic form of high cholesterol, genes play a role in influencing your LDL-cholesterol level.

What you eat. Two main nutrients in the foods you eat make your LDL ("bad") cholesterol level go up: saturated fat, a type of fat found mostly in foods that come from animals; and cholesterol, which comes only from animal products. Saturated fat raises your LDL-cholesterol level more than anything else in the diet. Eating too much saturated fat and cholesterol is the main reason for high levels of cholesterol and a high rate of heart attacks in the United States. Reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol you eat is a very important step in reducing your blood cholesterol levels.

Weight.
Excess weight tends to increase your LDL ("bad") cholesterol level. If you are overweight and have a high LDL-cholesterol level, losing weight may help you lower it. Weight loss also helps to lower triglycerides and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol levels.

Physical activity/exercise.
Regular physical activity may lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol levels.

Age and sex. Before the age of menopause, women usually have total cholesterol levels that are lower than those of men the same age. As women and men get older, their blood cholesterol levels rise until about 60 to 65 years of age. After the age of about 50, women often have higher total cholesterol levels than men of the same age.

Alcohol.
Alcohol intake increases HDL ("good") cholesterol but does not lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Doctors don't know for certain whether alcohol also reduces the risk of heart disease. Drinking too much alcohol can damage the liver and heart muscle, lead to high blood pressure, and raise triglycerides. Because of the risks, alcoholic beverages should not be used as a way to prevent heart disease.

Stress. Stress over the long term has been shown in several studies to raise blood cholesterol levels. One way that stress may do this is by affecting your habits. For example, when some people are under stress, they console themselves by eating fatty foods. The saturated fat and cholesterol in these foods contribute to higher levels of blood cholesterol.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Clearing Up Another Myth About Margarine

I feel like every few months or so I should address a myth surrounding margarine in order to clear up some misinformation circulating the Internet. I’ve found that the Internet is often breeding grounds for people to become experts on a topic without the appropriate education and background to actually be an expert on that topic.

Today’s Myth: Margarine is one molecule away from plastic.

Fact: Okay, if this myth was true there’s no way I would ever get near a tub of margarine! However, this myth is completely false and inaccurate. Plastic is a polymer, whose ingredients may include polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene, acrylic, silicone, and urethane. Margarine is an emulsion of naturally processed vegetable oil, water, salt, vitamins, and other functional ingredients that ensure the safety and quality of the finished product. Emulsions consist of two or more ingredients that naturally do not remain blended or “in suspension”; and need added ingredients to keep them together; think of it like oil and water. Other types of emulsified foods that you may eat include deli meats and salad dressings.

Living a healthy lifestyle includes eating moderate amounts of various types of foods. The margarine industry has been in the forefront of reducing the amounts of trans fat, and adding more functional ingredients to its products to support health.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

As promised, here’s Paula Dean’s recipe for Twice Baked Potato Casserole. The recipe originally calls for butter but my mom made it with margarine and it came out fantastic!

2 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 small bell pepper, sliced thin
8 tablespoons margarine
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar
4 medium potatoes, cooked
6 slices bacon, cooked crisp (you could use Turkey bacon to make this healthier)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread mashed potatoes evenly on bottom of casserole dish. Layer sour cream evenly over top. Sprinkle House Seasoning, to taste. Saute onion and bell pepper in margarine; evenly layer over top of sour cream. Slice potatoes and layer over onions and bell peppers. Add margarine. Sprinkle House seasoning. Finally top with cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven and crumble bacon over top.

Cook's Note: Leftover mashed potatoes work wonderfully in this recipe.

House Seasoning: 1 cup salt 1/4 cup black pepper 1/4 cup garlic powder

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Little TLC

Besides eating properly and exercising, I’ve found there’s another key to good heart health: being with the ones you love. Nothing heals the heart like some good old-fashioned family time!

I went home to Houston for the weekend and it was exactly what I needed! I ate TONS of food, laughed and relaxed by the pool with my parents. I’ve been a little stressed out at work lately and going home and getting away from all things stress-related was just what I needed!

Also, my mom made a delicious beef tenderloin, twice baked potato casserole and her famous Caesar salad. I’m going to post the recipe for the Twice Baked Potato Casserole tomorrow. You will love it! Plus, it’s made with margarine! It comes from Paula Dean’s recipe book, and she happens to be my favorite chef. I’m obsessed with the Food Network and watch it constantly.
I hope everyone had a wonderful and heart healthy weekend. Take care!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pasta Ala Oglio with Shrimp

Now that the weather’s getting warmer, it seems I’m favoring a bit lighter fare for my dinners. The heavy stuff probably isn’t going to get my body bikini-ready, and summer’s just around the corner.

This recipe is delicious but also lower in calories so you can enjoy this dish guilt-free!

Pasta Ala Oglio with Shrimp

Ingredients:


Yield: 1 servings
1 tablespoon Light margarine
1 teaspoon Preminced garlic or
2½ Cloves of minced garlic
1 cups Cooked pasta of your choice
3 oz Cooked shrimp
1 teaspoon Dill
1 teaspoon Parsley
½ teaspoon Basil
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste

Directions:

In a small sauté pan, sauté the margarine and garlic. Note: the author likes garlic, you may choose to add more or less as you prefer.

Once the garlic and margarine have reached a tender consistency, add the spices, and blend. Add the cooked shrimp, and sauté until shrimp is warm.

Add cooked pasta to sauté pan, toss gently but thoroughly, and transfer to warm plate. Add salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese to taste.




Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Few Stats on Heart Disease

My “Healthy Emma” weekend went great!!! I spent a lot of time alone, which really seemed to clear my head. There’s nothing more calming than sitting in the park in 70-degree weather and reading a good book. I just re-read The Alchemist, which if you have not read I highly recommend.

Anyways, I found a few statistics on heart disease this morning and just though I’d post them. I know it really seems like I’m obsessed with heart disease but after seeing someone in your family have it, I’m sure you would be too. Especially when there are so many things you can do to reduce your risk for heart disease, such as choosing margarine over butter.

Did you know

80 percent do not know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for females

70 percent believe heart attack warning signs are the same for women as they are for men (when in actuality, they can be significantly different)

Only 50 percent know that menopause increases a woman's risk for heart disease

Other information on women and heart disease revealed that:

A woman who has a heart attack is one-and-a-half times as likely as a man to die from it, and, if she survives, more likely to have a second one. Framingham Heart Study

In women, the rate of death from heart disease far exceeds that of breast cancer. One woman in 25 dies of breast cancer. One in two dies of cardiovascular disease, including a heart attack or stroke. Heart disease is the number-one killer of women.

Friday, March 09, 2007

My "Healthy Emma" Weekend

You know how some days the hours seems to fly right by and then other days, it seems as if someone’s playing a trick on you and has stopped all of the clocks around you?

I absolutely love my job and usually stay pretty busy so my days always go by very quickly – except today. I got up at 5:00 am. this morning and worked out, thinking it would energize me for the weekend ahead but all if did was make me more tired. I even went to bed at 9:00 pm. last night – I’m fairly young and I feel like I’m 80 years old!! My parents don’t even go to bed at 9:00 p.m.

Anyways, I’ve decided to make this weekend my “Healthy Emma” weekend. I know I’m a cheeseball, and I freely admit that. Taking that into consideration, I’ve decided to eat properly this weekend, do cardio and strength training and get plenty of sleep. No wild partying for me! Actually, I’ve never been into wild partying and I’m pretty much a homebody but a girl can pretend, can’t she?

Anyways, this weekend I’m going to make a sincere effort to take care of myself, physically and mentally. I’ve had a lot of stuff on my mind lately and I want to sit back, relax and think things through. Nothing bad, don’t worry. I get easily stressed and I want to make sure I return to work on Monday 100% Emma, with no nagging worries nibbling at my brain.

So, I want to wish everyone a safe and heart healthy weekend. Be mindful of what you do and what you eat!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Tend and Befriend" for Good Heart Health

A friend forwarded me this article today and I think it’s a relevant topic to this blog. I discuss heart health issues, and stress plays an important role in how healthy a person’s heart is.

According to a study conducted by UCLA, women respond to stress by making and maintaining friendships with other women. Scientists previously thought all people respond to stress with the “fight or flight” mechanism but it turns out that all stress-related studies have only been conducted only on men. If the studies had included women, they would have learned that “fight or flight’ is not always the case. Go figure…

According to the article,



In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as
part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response
and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When
she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more
oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming
effect. This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because
testosterone---which men produce in high levels when they're under
stress---seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to
enhance it.


Basically, instead of “fight or flight,” women have a “tend and befriend” notion that helps them to deal with stress.

I was thinking about this study and realized that when I get stressed out, I don’t seclude myself like so many of my guy friends seem to do. Instead, I call up one of my best friends and vent to her and usually request a girl’s night of movies, chocolate and talking. It’s really the only thing that makes me feel better and puts my mind (and heart) at ease.


If you're a woman, the next time you get stressed out, just remember to call a friend or loved one.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Margarine vs. Butter?

I happened to come upon this article this morning and I think it really helps clarify the debate between margarine versus butter. Here’s what the article had to say:

“A soft margarine spread is the healthier choice in the long-debated butter-or-margarine battle, says Dr. Jo Ann Carson, a clinical nutritionist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Margarine, made from vegetable oil, is cholesterol-free and higher in polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats, which help reduce a person’s “bad” LDL cholesterol level. Butter, made from animal fat, contains dietary cholesterol and saturated fat, which tend to raise that “bad” cholesterol level.

But not all margarines are created equal, Dr. Carson warns.

Stick margarine contains trans fats, which are created when oils are hydrogenated to make the margarine solid. Trans fats, like dietary cholesterol and saturated fats, elevate “bad” cholesterol.

“The best choice is a soft tub margarine or liquid spread because they tend to incorporate water and other ingredients that reduce the potential for trans fats and calories,” Dr. Carson says.

If you’re having trouble selecting which soft margarine might be best, the best
thing you could do is look for a product that is low in both saturated and trans
fats, she adds.”

I think this debate has been solved for a long time now but people are still bringing it up. If you’re looking to live a long and heart healthy lifestyle, then margarine is the obvious winner.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Beef 'n' Potato Bake

I must admit that although I try to eat healthy most of the time, sometimes I just want to kick back and have some meat and potatoes. Actually this recipe I found from Parkay allowd me to indulge a bit without causing my cholesterol to go through the roof.

Beef 'n' Potato Bake

Makes: 10 servings

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef
1 cup minced onion
3/4 cup steak sauce
1-1/2 pounds long white potatoes, peeled and boiled
1/2 cup soft margarine
1/4 cup milk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large skillet, cook and stir ground beef and onions for 4 to 5 minutes or until beef is no longer pink; drain. Add steak sauce; heat to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Spoon into 1 1/2 quart casserole. Mash potatoes with Parkay and milk until smooth. Spread mashed potato mixture evenly over beef mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

If You're a Woman, You Must Check Out This Web Site

Every once in a blue moon, a Web site comes along that really captivates me. I found such a Web site yesterday. The National Women’s Health Information Center’s Web site, www.womenshealth.gov, is an incredibly informative and fascinating Web site for women.

They have a quiz on their site that allows you to asses your risk for heart disease and read articles tailored to your risk. According to the directions for the quiz,

“…you will be escorted through a short, confidential survey of questions about your health and lifestyle. Based on your answers, we'll provide you with a series of articles detailing the latest information on exercise, nutrition, smoking, diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure and other factors that affect you and your risk for heart disease - all tailored to your needs.


We've designed a personalized web site because we believe you're better equipped to make changes to improve your health and quality of life when you receive materials that speak to you and your unique health concerns. Click above or below to continue reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease and begin enjoying the benefits of better health!”


I took the quiz and read all of the pertinent articles, and I really found all of the information was well-written, easy to understand and very helpful. The quiz only takes about three minutes and could save your life.

Check it out: http://www.womenshealth.gov/ForYourHeart Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Get Started!”

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Most Women at Risk for Heart Disease

The American Heart Association (AHA) released its 2007 guidelines intended to help women prevent heart disease. The major change this year is that the guidelines focus more on a woman’s lifetime risk rather than just her short-term risk, which was the case with the 2004 guidelines.

With one in three women dying from heart disease each year, this subject is no laughing matter. However, there are steps that each woman can take to reduce her risk for the deadly disease. A few highlights from the guidelines include:

Quit smoking.
Quitting this disgusting habit today can influence the rest of your life. The AHA guidelines recommend counseling, nicotine replacement and/or other forms of smoking cessation assistance. If you don’t smoke, that’s wonderful but you should also avoid inhaling secondhand smoke, which can also be hazardous to you health.

All women should exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Women who need to lose weight or maintain their weight loss are advised to exercise between 60 to 90 minutes a day for most days of the day.

Heart healthy diets are important. This should include fruits, whole grains, vegetables and foods with fiber. Women should limit their consumption of alcohol and watch their sodium intake. Margarine can also be a part of this heart healthy diet and should be used in place of butter.

Women over the age of 65 should take low-dose aspirin daily. If you’re not of this age, you don’t need to take aspirin but in women 65 and older, the medicine has been shown help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Ladies, it’s important to reduce your risk for heart disease today! Don’t wait until tomorrow.

For more information about the AHA and its 2007 guidelines, visit http://heart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3045524.