Friday, April 25, 2008

Trans Fat Trivia

Friday is finally here! This weather is certainly making it difficult for me to motivate myself during the week. I hope everyone gets to spend some time outdoors and enjoy the season this weekend.

Here's an informative true or false quiz about trans fats, which appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Measure your fat grams of knowledge
Here's a quiz to test yourself on trans fat.
True or false?

1. Trans fat is also known as trans fatty acid.

2. Trans fat behaves like saturated fat in the body by raising bad cholesterol.

3. Trans fat is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil.

4. The most common places you will find trans fats is in solid vegetable shortening, some margarines, crackers, cookies and snack foods.

5. The FDA estimates that the average daily intake of trans fat in the U.S. is about 4 grams.

6. Trans fat can occur naturally in some animal products such as butter, milk products, cheese, beef and lamb.

7. The USDA recommends choosing vegetable oils (except coconut and palm kernel oils) and soft margarines (liquid, tub or spray) when possible because the combined amount of saturated and trans fats is lower than the amount in solid shortenings, hard margarines and animal fats.

8. The USDA allows a manufacturer to list 0 grams of trans fat per serving if the product has less than .5 grams of trans fat per serving.

9. It is healthier to eat butter instead of margarine in order to avoid trans fat.

Answers: 1. True; 2. True; 3. True; 4. True; 5.False. Americans eat about 5.8 grams daily. 6. True; 7. True; 8. True; 9. False. The combined amount of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol for butter is usually higher than margarine even if the margarine contains more trans fat than butter.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,

Monday, April 21, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This recipe doesn’t utilize my all-time favorite ingredient, margarine, but it is absolutely delicious just the same! It’s quick, easy and is very addictive. Enjoy!

8 ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup blue cheese dressing
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/4 cup red hot sauce
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (or use the already made grilled chicken breast strips)
1/2 cup diced celery

Heat oven to 350*
Place cream cheese in pie plate microwave 1 minute to soften Whisk in salad dressing, hot sauce & blue cheese crumbles until smooth.
Stir in chicken & celery

Bake 20 minutes and serve with tortilla chips

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Counting Sheep

I have been dealing with a serious bout of insomnia lately so last night I decided to do a little research into the matter. Below is some information from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) that you might find useful. I thought it was really interesting that women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. Like we don't already have enough to deal with!

What is insomnia?
Insomnia is too little or poor-quality sleep caused by one or more of the following:

Trouble falling asleep
Waking up a lot during the night with trouble returning to sleep
Waking up too early in the morning
Having un-refreshing sleep (not feeling well rested), even after sleeping 7 to 8 hours at night
Insomnia can cause problems during the day, such as excessive sleepiness, fatigue, trouble thinking clearly or staying focused, or feeling depressed or irritable. It is not defined by the number of hours you sleep every night. Although the amount of sleep a person needs varies, most people need between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night.

What are the different types of insomnia and what causes them?
Insomnia can be:
Transient (short term) insomnia lasts from a single night to a few weeks.
Intermittent (on and off) insomnia is short term, which happens from time to time.
Chronic (on-going) insomnia occurs at least 3 nights a week over a month or more.
Chronic insomnia is either primary or secondary:
Primary insomnia is not related to any other health problem.
Secondary insomnia can be caused by a medical condition (such as cancer, asthma, or arthritis), drugs, stress or a mental health problem (such as depression), or a poor sleep environment (such as too much light or noise, or a bed partner who snores).

Do women suffer from insomnia more than men?
Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. Some research suggests that certain social factors, such as being unemployed or divorced, are related to poor sleep and increase the risk of insomnia in women. Also, insomnia tends to increase with age.
Sometimes perimenopausal (the time leading up to menopause) women have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep; hot flashes and night sweats often can disturb sleep. Pregnancy also can affect how well a woman sleeps.

How is insomnia diagnosed?
If you think you have insomnia, talk to your doctor. It might be helpful to complete a sleep diary for a week or two, noting your sleep patterns, your daily routine, and how you feel during the day. Discuss the results of your sleep diary with your doctor. Your doctor may do a physical exam and take a medical history and sleep history. Your doctor may also want to talk to your bed partner to ask how much and how well you are sleeping. In some cases, you may be referred to a sleep center for special tests.

How is insomnia treated?
If insomnia is caused by a short-term change in the sleep/wake schedule, as with jet lag, your sleep schedule may return to normal on its own.
If your insomnia makes it hard for you to function during the day, talk to your doctor.

Treatment for chronic insomnia includes:
Finding and treating any medical conditions or mental health problems.
Looking for routines or behaviors, like drinking alcohol at night, that may lead to the insomnia or make it worse, and stopping (or reducing) them.
Possibly using sleeping pills, although controversy surrounds the long-term use of sleeping pills. You should talk to your doctor about the risks and side-effects.
Trying one or more methods to improve sleep, such as relaxation therapy, sleep restriction therapy, and reconditioning.
Relaxation Therapy. This type of therapy aims to reduce stress and body tension. As a result, your mind is able to stop "racing," the muscles can relax, and restful sleep can occur.
Sleep Restriction. Some women suffering from insomnia spend too much time in bed trying to fall asleep. They may be helped by a sleep restriction program under the guidance of their doctor. The goal is to sleep continuously and get out of bed at the desired wake time. This treatment involves, for example, going to bed later or getting up earlier and slowly increasing the amount of time in bed until the person is able to sleep normally throughout the night.
Reconditioning. This means using your bed only at bedtime when sleepy or for sex. Avoid other activities in your bed, such as reading or watching TV. Over time, your body will relate bed and bedtime with sleep.

What can I do to sleep better?
Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Do not take naps after 3 p.m.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day or at night.
Get regular exercise. Exercise during the day--make sure you exercise at least 5 to 6 hours before bedtime.
Make sure you eat dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or a "white noise" machine to cover up the sounds.
Follow a routine to help relax and wind down before sleep, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath.
If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes or don't feel drowsy, get up and read or do something that is not too active until you feel sleepy. Then try going back to bed.
If you lay awake worrying about things, try making a to-do list before you go to bed.
Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
See your doctor if you think that you have insomnia or another sleep problem.

For more information on insomnia, call the National Women's Health Information Center at 1-800-994-9662 or contact the following organizations:

National Center on Sleep Disorders Research
NHLBI Health Information Center
Phone Number(s): (301) 592-8573
Internet Address:

American Insomnia Association
Phone Number(s): (708) 492-0930
Internet Address:

National Sleep Foundation
Phone Number(s): (202) 347-3471
Internet Address:

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Summer is just around the corner and nothing reminds me of summer like some delicious barbecue chicken. Pair this recipe with some grilled veggies or a fresh vegetable salad and maybe a baked potato topped with margarine and low-fat sour cream and you’ve got a low-calorie, heart healthy meal in a jiffy!

Jan's Barbecued Chicken

Chicken Parts, Breast or legs or thighs skinned.
1 cup margarine liquid type
1/4 cup dill cut up fresh or 2 tbsp dill
2 tbsp garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne pepper,very little

Start your barbecue and cook the chicken parts as you would normally do. Last ten minutes of cooking add the melted margarine, salt and pepper; cayenne pepper; dill an minced garlic. Brush margarine mixture on chicken every 10 minutes - watch so chicken doesn't burn.
This is a great sauce for the chicken as well as corn on the cob and also baked potatoes. The dill is different and very tasty. The cayenne gives a bite of spice.

Number of Servings: 6

This recipe is courtesy of Jan Toomey, on

Friday, April 04, 2008

Striving for Good Health

Happy Friday everybody! My post today is something a little out of the ordinary and doesn’t focus so much on heart disease or heart health but it’s just as important.

I read about this little girl’s story here and it broke my heart. She’s weathered an incredibly rough storm and she’s far from in the clear. I’ve never met her or anyone in her family but I can only wish them the best. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.