Monday, July 30, 2007

Herbed Garlic Croutons

This makes a simple yet elegant addition to any salad:

Herbed Garlic Croutons


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!

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

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
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

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!