Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays Internet!

Today is officially my last day in the office until next year and I've gotta admit, I need a break. A break from the emails, a break from the reports, a break from actually having to focus on anything for more than 20 minutes.

I plan on using the next week and a half to rejuvenate my mind, body and soul. I'll be making lots of healthy dishes for the holidays (of course, with my favorite ingredient, margarine), exercising, reading and logging lots of snoozing hours.

I wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season. Please take the time to smile at just one person you don't know or commit one small act of kindness for someone else today. After all, isn't that what the season is really about?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Allergies Abound

Hey all, so sorry for the lack of posts lately. I am battling a major sinus infection all the while my allergies are going crrrrrazy!!! I sound like Elmer Fudd and look like Santa Claus with his cherry red nose.

I promise, promise I've got some yummy content in store for you tomorrow. For now, all I've got for you is a runny nose and Kleenex in every crevice of my apartment. I really should consider buying stock in Kleenex.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Soft Margarine vs. Butter? The Choice is Simple

An article from the Statesman-Journal recently described the debate of margarine vs. butter as ongoing and inconclusive. What?!!!! I think not.

The article is actually a pretty good one, noting that soft margarines contain less saturated fat and have less trans fat than they used to. However, the author later indicates that the trans fat found in butter is more beneficial to one's health than the minuscule amount of trans fat found in some buttery spreads because the trans fat in butter is natural.

I can understand the confusion when so many health experts out there tell you to do this and then the next expert comes out and says, "No, do this instead."

Scientific studies have proven time and time again that saturated fat is BAD. I'm talking artery-clogging, heart attack bad. Soft margarine products have much less saturated fat than butter.

It's pretty folks, go for the margarine you find in the tub.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Spiced Beef Stew

As I noted yesterday on Twitter (follow me!), cold weather always makes me crave some steaming beef stew...with margarine, duh! This recipe tastes even better a few days later.

Spiced Beef Stew

1/4 cup margarine
2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 (14 ounce) can beef broth
1 cup beer
1 onion, sliced into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 (15 ounce) can mixed vegetables, drained

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 C).
2.In Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt butter or margarine. Cook beef in two batches until browned, stirring often. Remove beef from Dutch oven and set aside. Stir in flour.
3.Add broth, beer, onion, garlic, brown sugar, thyme and bay leaf. Heat to boil. Return beef to dish. Cover and bake at 350 degree F(175 C) for 1 1/2 hours.
4.Add mixed vegetables. Cover and bake for 1 hour, or until beef is done. Remove bay leaf and serve.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I would like to wish everybody out there a happy, healthy and "stuff your face" awesome Thanksgiving.

You can be sure I'll be using lots of margarine in my recipes to help reduce the amount of saturated fat without skimping on taste. It will be used to hold the spices onto the skin of my turkey, to make my whipped potatoes delightfully indulgent, to thicken my sweet potato pie and to add just the creamy touch to my apple crisp.

This year, I am truly thankful for all of the love in my life. I am surrounded by good people every day - my family, my friends, my boyfriend, my neighbors, my co-workers. Also, there's the sweet old man at the grocery store, the maintenance guy with the huge grin at my apartment, the security cop at work, etc.

Never underestimate the power of a smile. If you do one thing today, take the time to smile, genuinely smile, at someone you don't know. It really could make all the difference in their life.

Happy Thanksgiving, Internet friends.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quit Today - The Great American Smokeout

Today, November 19, is the Great American Smokeout. Being a former smoker myself, I urge all of you that smoke to make today the day of your last cigarette.

Here's more information from the American Cancer Society:

All About The Great American Smokeout

Every year, on the third Thursday of November, smokers across the nation take part in the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout® by smoking less or quitting for the day on the third Thursday of November. The event challenges people to stop using tobacco and helps make people aware of the many tools they can use to quit for good.

In many towns and communities, local volunteers support quitters, publicize the event, and press for laws that control tobacco use and discourage teenagers from starting.

Research shows that smokers are most successful in kicking the habit when they have some means of support, such as:
* nicotine replacement products
* counseling
* stop-smoking groups
* telephone smoking cessation hotlines
* prescription medicine to lessen cravings
* guide books
* encouragement and support from friends and family members

Using 2 or more of these measures to help you quit works better than using any one of them alone. For example, some people use a prescription medicine along with nicotine replacement. Other people may use as many as 3 or 4 of the other measures listed above.

Telephone stop smoking hotlines are an easy-to-use resource. And as of 2008, they are available in all 50 states. Call 1-800-ACS-2345 (1-800-227-2345) to find telephone counseling or other support in your area.

Support is out there, but the most recent information suggests that fewer than 1 in 4 smokers reports having tried any of the recommended therapies during his or her last quit attempt.

How the Great American Smokeout began
The Smokeout has helped bring about dramatic changes in Americans' attitudes about smoking. These changes have led to community programs and smoke-free laws that are now saving lives in many states. Annual Smokeouts began in the 1970s when smoking and secondhand smoke were commonplace.

The idea for the Great American Smokeout grew out of a 1974 event. Lynn R. Smith, editor of the Moticello Times in Minnesota, spearheaded the state's first D-Day, or Don't Smoke Day. The idea may have been inspired by Arthur P. Mullaney of Randolph, Massachusetts. Three years earlier, Mullaney asked people to give up cigarettes for a day and donate the money they would have spent on cigarettes to a high school scholarship fund.

The idea caught on, and on November 18, 1976, the California Division of the American Cancer Society successfully got nearly 1 million smokers to quit for the day. That California event marked the first Smokeout, and the Society took it nationwide in 1977.

The Great American Smokeout fuels new laws and saves lives
Each year, the Great American Smokeout also draws attention to the deaths and chronic diseases caused by smoking. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, many state and local governments responded by banning smoking in workplaces and restaurants, raising taxes on cigarettes, limiting cigarette promotions, discouraging teen cigarette use, and taking further actions to counter smoking.

Those states with strong tobacco control laws are now reaping the fruits of their labor. They have markedly lower smoking rates and fewer people dying of lung cancer, according to a 2003 report in Cancer Causes and Control. The study found that lung cancer death rates among adults age 30-39 were lower and falling in most states that had strong anti-tobacco programs. In states with weak tobacco control, lung cancer rates were higher and climbing. Another study published in 2008 showed this trend between tobacco control and lung cancer continues.

Today, about 43 million US adults smoke. Tobacco use can cause lung cancer, as well as other cancers, heart disease, and lung disease. Smoking is responsible for nearly 1 in 3 cancer deaths, and 1 in 5 deaths from all causes. Another 8.6 million people are living with serious illnesses caused by smoking.

Fortunately, the past few decades have seen great strides in changing attitudes about smoking, in understanding the addiction, and in learning how to help people quit.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Mammogram Recommendations Add to Confusion

A task force came out today suggesting that women in their 40's do not need routine mammograms.

According to CNN, "While roughly 15 percent of women in their 40s detect breast cancer through mammography, many other women experience false positives, anxiety, and unnecessary biopsies as a result of the test, according to data."

However, the American Cancer Society does not agree with these recommendations. "The organization says it looked at virtually the same data as the task force but came to a different conclusion. "Breast cancer is a serious health problem facing adult women, and mammography is part of our solution beginning at age 40 for average-risk women," it says. It recommends annual exams beginning at that age."

With all of the contradicting health information out there, consumers are confused as to what is best for their health. One organization says do it this way, then another comes out shortly after and says no, do it this way.

We have GOT to come to a consensus people.

You can track all the lastest comments on Twitter, using the hashtag #mammo. Also, you can now follow me on twitter at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veterans Day!

I would like to take this blog post and personally thank all of the soldiers out there who are currently fighting or have fought for our freedom. Your bravery and devotion to this country is something to be admired. We love you and thank you!

Here are some quotes related to this very special day:

Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous. -George Bernard Shaw

It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you. -Author unknown, sometimes attributed to M. Grundler

I think there is one higher office than president and I would call that patriot. -Gary Hart

Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men. -George Patton

Freedom is never free. ~Author Unknown

It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.- General Douglas MacArthur

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul. ~Michel de Montaigne

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother, what was war?" ~Eve Merriam

We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. ~Cynthia Ozick

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes! ~Maya Angelou

The most persistent sound which reverberates through men's history is the beating of war drums. ~Arthur Koestler, Janus: A Summing Up

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die. ~G.K. Chesterton

In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. ~Mark Twain, Notebook, 1935

It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you. -Unknown
Either war is obsolete or men are. -Buckminster Fuller

There never was a good war or a bad peace. -Benjamin Franklin

Have the courage to act instead of react. -Earlene Larson Jenks

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Turn Off That Tube

Unless you’ve had your head in the sands for the past decade, you know that weight loss and heart health come with eating nutritious foods and exercising. Hey, the taste isn’t the only reason I pick margarine over better every day – it’s also for my health!

But, new research shows that the number of televisions in your home can also affect your health. I suppose it makes – TV + comfy couch = sedentary Emma. The study examined 167 people who lost at least 10 percent of their body weight and here’s the important part – kept it off for at least five years.

According to HealthDay:

Those who lost weight and kept it off were about three to four times more likely to exercise than those who were obese or overweight. They were also about 1.4 to 1.6 times more likely to spend time thinking about restraining their food intake, considering things like calories.

Those who lost weight had fewer televisions in their home and less high-fat food on hand. They also had more exercise equipment in their homes, the study authors noted.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Baking Just Ain't My Thang

I am huge fan of pecan pie but I am so not a huge fan of baking pies. See, Emma + any type of baking = disaster. I burn cookies, under-cook pies, cause complete ruin to cakes - you get the point. These pecan pie bars though, just happen to be the exception. For some reason they seem to love me (and my quickly growing pant size) and come out jussssst right. Plus, with only 160 calories per serving, they don't completely kill my diet...except when I down five in one sitting. Another story for another time.

• 1 box yellow or butter-flavor cake mix
• 1/3 cup margarine, softened
• 1 egg

• ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
• 1 ½ cups dark corn syrup
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 3 eggs
• 1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan. Reserve 2/3 cup of the dry cake mix for filling.

In large bowl, beat remaining cake mix, margarine and 1 egg at low speed until well blended. Press into bottom of greased pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

In the same bowl, beat reserved dry cake mix, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and eggs at low speed until moistened. Beat at medium speed 1 minute or until well blended.

Pour filling mixture over warm base; sprinkle with pecans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Store in refrigerator. Makes 36 bars.

Per serving: 160 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g polyunsaturated, 1 g saturated, 24 g cholesterol, 1 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 140 g sodium.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Don't be Such a Drag

With winter on its way and our country having major economic difficulties, it can be easy to take on the "my life sucks" mentality and live each day hoping tomorrow will be better. This article from the Huffington Post really made me stop and think about the way I live my life. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Taking care of ourselves is not just of physical importance, but mental and spiritual importance as well.

Not Happy? Who's Dragging You Down?

So, are you unhappy? Frankly, who cares? Who cares whether you're happy or not? You do? Then why don't you just get over it and do something? This may seem insensitive or uncaring to some. Actually, I do care and I'm quite sensitive. I've just found over the past couple of decades working with people, that buying into individual tales of difficulty and challenges only serves to add to the burden of overcoming life's obstacles and improving one's experience of well being.

So, let me start with who cares whether you're unhappy? Maybe you do. I say maybe, because I have met so many people who are of the mindset, "life's a bitch and then you die." Not only is that person doomed by their own consciousness (we do seem to get what we focus on), but the rest of us who interact with this person also get to "benefit" from their "life sucks" mentality. Hang around with enough people with this kind of mindset, and you just may start the downward slide right along with them. Pretty soon, you may be a candidate for membership in the "ain't it awful club." These folks seem to revel in one downsmanship - you-think-that's-bad-wait-until-you-here-this-one kind of thinking. Or, "been down so long, looks like up to me" also comes to mind.

Are You Dwelling in Your Own Negativity?
If you dwell enough on the negativity of a circumstance, you will pretty soon start producing an increasingly negative experience to go along with the negative circumstance. And the more you dwell in the negativity, the less likely you are to even perceive an opportunity to make a different choice, much less act on it. Kind of - why bother?

Many people are unhappy these days. Not sure if that comes as any big surprise, or if it's really all that different from days gone by. Maybe people were just as unhappy before the most recent recession, but with more cash in the bank and inflated home values back then, people may have been simply "happy" to make do while continuing to make the sacrifices they hoped would make them happier some day later.

Is Today the "Secret" to Changing Your Circumstance?
Many are now discovering that this "life-will-be-better-later" thinking is not only not true, but wasteful of the only opportunity you will ever have. The only time you will ever get to experience happiness, fulfillment or meaning is right here, right now. Today. Not tomorrow - it hasn't happened yet. That doesn't mean that you might not experience happiness, fulfillment or meaning tomorrow - just that we'll have to wait and see what choices you make when tomorrow arrives. Not yesterday, or some other time in the past - it's over, done with, gone. You aren't going to be able to do anything about what happened, except to make new choices today that might have a better chance of working for you. That leaves today. The Present. The Here and Now. This is the only opportunity you will ever have to make choices that impact your experience of happiness, fulfillment or meaning. Happiness, fulfillment and meaning are experiences you have in the moment, in the now - not when you are focused on the past or the future. Sure, you can make choices that influence the future, or perhaps correct past errors, but those choices also have great impact on what you are experiencing right here, right now.

You may have heard the old cliché about "life is a journey, not a destination." Indeed, the focus here is more on the quality of experience you have as you go through life than it is on any physical or material scorecard. However, I am also of the mind that you can have a measure of both - quality, fulfilling, enriching life experience coupled with the ability to create more of what you seek in the physical world as well.

You could start today, right now even, by asking yourself what are you currently experiencing? Not necessarily what you are doing, but how you are experiencing yourself while you are doing something. You could be at work, performing chores, or engaged in some other kind of activity that is less than your favorite. Without changing a thing in terms of what you are working on, could you change something inside yourself in terms of how you are approaching the task at hand. Yes, this is a little bit like choosing a different attitude. Perhaps all it takes is to choose to notice what you are doing in a different light: how is my experience of life impacted by the choices I make; or by the outcomes I focus upon; or by what I tell myself about what's happening around me?

So, What Can I Do?
The question becomes: how do I experience happiness, joy, fulfillment, or well-being in the midst of what might otherwise appear to be difficult, trying circumstances.

Perhaps you are currently living an uninspired, or at least under-inspired life. defines uninspired as "having no intellectual, emotional, or spiritual excitement; dull."That doesn't sound like much fun, now does it? They go on to define uninspiring as "depressing to the spirit."

I have certainly worked with a number of people over the years who lack much excitement or enthusiasm in their lives, people who are leading lives that are, indeed, depressing to their own spirit. If you are finding yourself in that depressing experience right now, what is it that you are focusing on that creates the experience of depression? Are you in some version of complaint (ain't it awful) or hopelessness (been down so long looks like up to me)?
How could you begin to change your experience, even if the circumstances aren't going to change any time soon? Or at least, apparently not any time soon? There are multiple steps necessary to begin the process of change. The first is to get yourself into Now - the reality of what's present. Notice I didn't say you had to like it, just get here. Then you need to move into acceptance (our focus for next week) - again not liking it, just accepting it. From there, moving to a positive focus (not some dumb form of positive thinking that pretends everything is cool), just a positive focus on how you would like your experience to change. That will lead to positive actions, and with a few more keys, a set of improved experiences, and, perhaps, even a set of improved circumstances.
Of course, you could also be doing just fine in your life and still be open to things going even better. Contrary to much of western thinking, you don't have to be sick to get better. Your life can be going just fine and still have room for improvement. No matter how well you are doing, would you object to doing even better?

As my teacher often says to me, "Russell, your 'laters' are already upon you." Basically, he has been telling me that now is the time to take the next step. I've been pretending for a while that I'll get around to doing something different, "later." Well, later is here!

Your email responses and comments to these articles have been all over the place, some claiming my writing is, well, right on, and others telling me I'm wrong, insensitive or just blaming the victim. However, they have all been helpful in shaping what I write. In fact, your responses have inspired a book I am working on with the working title of: The Aspirational Life: 9 Keys to Finding Your Source of Inspiration, Fulfillment and Meaning.

Future Huffington Post essays will attempt to lay out a series of steps, exercises and frameworks inspired by creating this book, steps that could enable you to rise above your current circumstances, and enter an uplifting world of increasing well being. Next week, we will tackle the role of acceptance as a key to change.

As always, please do leave a comment or drop me an email with your thoughts, ideas, questions or suggestions. Next week, we will pick on the theme of living (and choosing) in the present as a key to well being.Read more at:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It's My Party

Well, today is my 27th birthday and I've gotta say it started out a little rough. Last night was one of those nights were no matter what I did or how hard I tried, sleep would not come to me. Warm milk? Tried it. Reading? Been there. Staring at the ceiling, counting those tiny little dots? Some nights, sleep just ain't gonna happen.

I woke up this morning to some very dreary weather with the possibilities of flooding and tornadoes! Combine that and my lack of sleep and you've got a very grouchy Emma.

You know what though? The following quote flashed through my mind (sorry I can't attribute it someone but I don't know who said it originally):

"Your attitude decides whether you are happy or not. You can change your attitude."

There are days when I wake up and suddenly decide I'm grumpy for the silliest reasons such as stubbing my toe or getting stuck at a red light. How absurd! There are so many horrendous things occurring around the globe every day - why should I add to the unhappiness?

Today, on my 27th birthday, I pledge to put more of a focus on how I can change my attitude to make a positive contribution to the world around smile at a time.

Note: A cupcake from Crave Cupcakes helped with my sudden epiphany.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

French-Style Cream Cheese Spread - Yum-O!

I am a huge fan of cheese and crackers paired with a glass of wine after a long day. This cheese spread always does the trick for me!

French-Style Cream Cheese Spread
Yield: 1 servings
package 8 oz soft cream cheese
¼ cups margarine, soft
1 Clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon snipped parsley
1 tablespoon Water
2 teaspoon White wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence, crushed*
¼ teaspoon Seasoning salt
Fresh thyme (optional)
Assorted crackers

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese, margarine or butter, garlic, parsley, water, vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, Herbes de Provence, and seasoning salt. Cover and refrigerate over- night.

2. To serve, garnish with fresh thyme, if desired. Serve with crackers.

***Herbes de Provence: In a small storage container, combine 1 T dried marjoram, 1 T dried thyme, 1 T dried savory, 1 t dried basil, 1 t dried rosemary, ½ t dried sage, and ½ t dried fennel seed. Store in airtight container. Crush before using.

Calories: 58 per tablespoon; 6 gm fat; 1 gm protein; 72 mg sodium

Friday, October 09, 2009

5 Ways to Age Naturally

We are all looking for that mystical "fountain of youth" but to me, it really just boils down to taking care of yourself mentally, physically and spirtually. I found these tips from the Huffington Post blog of interest. Happy Friday everybody!

5 Ways to Age Naturally

You can begin to rejuvenate yourself right away. Here are five areas of self-renewal activities:

What You Eat: It is no surprise that diet is crucial to health and longevity. A diet that historically promotes longevity is high in fish and vegetables as well as mushrooms, seaweed, corn and buckwheat. It is low in animal products like meat and poultry.

What You Do: Tai chi practitioners live longer and remain healthier. Besides being enjoyable, tai chi makes you stronger. Recent studies have found that it increases energy, boosts immunity against viruses, lowers blood pressure and improves cognitive function among other benefits.

How You Heal: "First do not harm." This simple yet profound ancient wisdom still holds true today. How can healing be effective if harm is created alongside the cure? Prevention is the key to maintaining good health. If healing is required, seek natural remedies that "first do no harm."

Who You Are: Understanding your inherited and genetic vulnerabilities and the need for prevention gives you a head start on anti-aging. Chinese Longevity Medicine promotes self-responsibility and awareness-of yourself, your relationships and your health.

Where You Are: With environmental factors causing ever more damage to our well-being, it is important to know what to look out for. You can avoid chemical compounds if you buy organic foods and use glass and recycled paper products.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fried Butter? No, Really.

Who doesn't like a little fried goodness every once in a while? My personal favorite - fried Snickers. I know it sounds disgusting but don't knock it until you try it. It's divine!

There is, however, a limit. Unfortunately the people at the State Fair of Texas don't agree. Every year they come up with a "friend specialty" that is highlighted at the Fair. One year it was friend Twinkies, another fried Coca-Cola. Don't even ask me how one goes about frying Coca-Cola.

This year? Fried butter. Yes people, fried butter. Take a food item that's already loaded with saturated fat and yes, let's fry that baby up! Here's more information on fried butter and other concoctions that will be available in case you have a led stomach.

DALLAS — Last year, Chicken Fried Bacon and a Fried Banana Split took top honors at the annual Big Tex Choice Awards to pick the best new foods at the State Fair of Texas.
This year, the competition is equally innovative (and similarly deep-fried).
Cast Your Vote

Which new State Fair food sounds tastiest to you?
Deep Fried Butter
Twisted Yam on a Stick
Fernie's Deep Fried Peaches & Cream
Texas Fried Pecan Pie
Country Fried Pork Chips
Sweet Jalapeno Corn Dog Shrimp
Fried Peanut Butter Cup Macaroon
None of the above

Deep Fried Butter could push the grease-o-meter to a new high. "100 percent pure butter is whipped 'til light and fluffy, then specially sweetened with a choice of several flavors." It is then surrounded by a "special dough" and quick-fried.

Twisted Yam on a Stick consists of "a delicious, towering, spiral-cut sweet potato on a 13-inch skewer." After being plunked in the fryer, it is then "gently rolled in butter" and dusted with sugar and cinnamon.

Fernie's Deep Fried Peaches & Cream do
es not appear to have any butter in the recipe, but other ingredients include "a delicious batter of cinnamon, ginger, coconut, graham cracker crumbs, eggs and milk." It is then (natch) deep-fried and served on a plate, drizzled with raspberry sauce, sprinkled with streusel and topped with whipped cream. Wait — there is vanilla buttercream icing provided on the side.

Texas Fried Pecan Pie sounds pretty conventional (except for the fried part, of course). It is served with caramel sauce "then topped with whipping cream and chopped, candied pecans."

Country Fried Pork Chips could be your main course, with seasoned, thin-sliced pork loin "surrounded by a tasty corn meal batter and deep-fried." You can get ketchup with it, but why not go whole hog and pour on the cream gravy?

Sweet Jalapeno Corn Dog Shrimp sounds almost too simple: "Shrimp on a stick is coated with a sweet and spicy corn meal batter, then deep-fried to a golden brown and served with a spicy glaze." This could actually have some nutritional value.

Fried Peanut Butter Cup Macaroon is about what you'd expect from the description. It is, of course, "dusted with powdered sugar" after the oil drains. And you probably wouldn't want to get it without the available scoop of Blue Bell ice cream, would you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Smoking Ban Cuts Heart Attacks

According to this story below from U.S. World News & Reports, the smoking ban has taken a dramatic and positive toll on the number of heart attacks. Read on for more info...

Health Buzz: Smoking Bans Curb Heart Attacks and Other Health News
By Megan Johnson
Posted September 22, 2009

Research Finds Public Smoking Bans Reduce Heart Attacks
New research suggests that cities that enact smoking bans in restaurants, bars, and other public places curb heart attack rates as a result, HealthDay reports. Two studies published in separate journals incorporated data from 24 smoking ban studies in cities in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Combining the studies showed that heart attacks dropped by at least 17 percent one year after the bans took effect. University of Kansas Prof. David Meyers told HealthDay: "The risk reduction got bigger the longer the ban was in effect." Meyers's study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed that after one year, heart attack risk declined an average 25 percent. One Montana city that banned smoking saw heart attacks decline by 45 percent, Meyers said. But after the ban was lifted, heart attack rates rose to their previous level, he said. The other study appears in the journal Circulation.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Swine Flu Blues

Hey guys, sorry for the major lack of posts this week. I have been battling a serious case of the flu since last weekend and am finally inching way to feeling like a normal human being again. My main indicator something is not right with my health: Friday night I could not even stand to think about eating my all-time favorite cuisine, Mexican food.

Anyways, I'm planning on spending this weekend cuddled up in my bed with a hefty stack of chick flicks. Chat with you next week!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ole' Buddy's Oyster Burger

For those of you not raised on the Gulf Coast or near any coast at all, oysters might have a...slimy connotation. I, on the other hand, couls slurp those suckers down all day. Below is a winning recipe from a recent contest by the Daily Press for the best burgers. Enjoy!

Ole' Buddy's Burger
The recipe was submitted by Van Kennedy of Hampton.

1 side of a hamburger bun
1/4 pound ground beef
1 medium oyster
Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Lemon juice, to taste

Smear the bun with margarine and grill until toasted. You may also sprinkle the roll with Old Bay seasoning. Shape the ground beef into a patty and grill with olive oil. Steam the oyster until done. Place the burger on the bun, spread a heaping tablespoon of mayonnaise on the burger, or more according to taste. Top with the oyster, pressing it down into the mayonnaise. Squeeze two or three squirts of lemon juice on top of the oyster and burger.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Two Cheers for Thunder Thighs!

According to a recent study, having larger thighs might actually prove beneficial to your heart. Check out this article from the Los Angeles Times for details...

We know having a large waistline is unhealthy. But big thighs, it appears, may protect against heart disease and premature death.

A study published on found that men and women whose thighs are less than 60 centimeters - 23.6 inches - have a higher risk of premature death and heart disease compared to those with thighs exceeding 60 cm. Having thighs that are even bigger than 60 cm, however, confers no added benefit. The study is the first to suggest that thigh size matters.

The researchers, from Copenhagen University Hospital, examined almost 3,000 people who were followed more than 12 years. The relationship between thigh size, heart disease and early death was found even after the scientists controlled for other factors, such as body fat, smoking and cholesterol levels. The study also found that cardiovascular death risk was more strongly related to thigh circumference than to waist circumference.

It seems logical that large thighs signal a higher fat content, which would be bad for cardiovascular health. So why are slender thighs worse? The authors suggest that small thighs could mean there is too little muscle mass in the region. The presence of muscle tissue influences insulin resistance and other cardiovascular risks.

The authors recommend more emphasis on lower-body workouts to strengthen legs.

". . .Behaviors to selectively reduce waist circumference are generally unknown," they wrote. "Thigh muscle mass, on the other hand, can be selectively increased by lower body physical activity."

However, an editorial accompanying the paper calls for more research before everyone grabs a tape measure. Future studies should assess whether efforts to increase thigh muscle mass through additional leg exercises cuts cardiovascular risk more than would be expected.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Never Fail Pie Dough

Okay, let me just say it - I really, really, REALLY stink at making pie dough. In fact, in order to avoid the pending frustration and cursing that will eventually occur I usually just buy the dough. Until now!!! This recipe really is a no-fail pie dough recipe.

Never Fail Pie Dough
Makes five single crusts
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1¾ cup margarine
½ cup cold water
1 large egg
1 tablespoon white vinegar

1. Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut in margarine, using a pastry blender or a fork, until the mixture has grains the size of peas.

2. In a large cup, mix water, egg and vinegar with a fork. Sprinkle vinegar mixture on flour mixture, blending as you sprinkle. When mixtures are blended, knead two to three times. Roll out on floured board or freeze.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Green Chili-Chicken Casserole

This weekend and next weekend are the Green Hatch Chili festivals in various cities around the Southwest. Being a devoted fan of all things green chili, I thought I'd share this delectable recipe I made this week from fresh green chilies (!). Folks, I assure you there is nothing better than a meal with green chilies in it. find something better - I dare you.

Oh, and as a bonus it's fairly low in calories too! Can this meal get any better? Me thinks not. One serving has only 335 calories. I double dare you to only eat one serving.

Green Chile-Chicken Casserole

If you assemble the casserole the day before, cover with cooking spray-coated foil. When ready to serve the make-ahead, chilled dish, bake 1 hour; then uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and browning."

1/3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup canned chopped green chiles, drained
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fat-free sour cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (10 1/2-ounce) cans condensed 98% fat-free cream of chicken soup, undiluted (such as Campbell's)
1 garlic clove, minced
Cooking spray
24 (6-inch) corn tortillas
4 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 1 pound)
2 cups (8 ounces) finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Spread 1 cup soup mixture in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange 6 tortillas over the soup mixture, and top with 1 cup chicken and 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat layers, ending with the cheese. Spread remaining soup mixture over cheese. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)

CALORIES 335 (29% from fat); FAT 10.8g (sat 5.9g,mono 2.7g,poly 1.2g); IRON 1.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 66mg; CALCIUM 270mg; CARBOHYDRATE 34.3g; SODIUM 693mg; PROTEIN 23.9g; FIBER 3.2g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2003

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Snooze Silently or Be Scared

I am going to cut and paste this article in whole because I know a LOT, and I mean a LOT, of people that snore. This is really scary stuff people. If you or someone you love has a snoring or sleep apnea problem, please discuss this with your doctor.

Snoring is more than loud, it's a sign of a health risk
Interrupted breathing during sleep, depriving body of oxygen, increases chances for dying
By Stephanie Desmon
August 18, 2009

Severe nightly episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep - commonly known as sleep apnea - double the risk of death for middle-age men, according to a new study being called the largest ever conducted on the disorder.

Even men with moderate sleep apnea - anywhere from 15 to 30 instances of oxygen deprivation per hour - appear to be 45 percent more likely to die from any cause than those who have no nighttime breathing problems.

As many as one in four men is believed to suffer from sleep apnea, researchers said, and many with less severe apnea may not even know they have it, even though it can dangerously decrease the oxygen in their bloodstream. Sleep apnea - typically characterized by loud snoring - is believed to be a growing problem, since it is often linked to obesity, which has become an epidemic in the United States. Women also are affected by the disorder, but to a lesser degree.

"This is a bad disorder that not only affects your lifestyle in the short term, but your life span in the long term as well," said Dr. David Schulman, director of the sleep laboratory at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, who was not involved in the study. "People with sleep apnea today are more likely to die tomorrow."

The study, led by Johns Hopkins pulmonologist Dr. Naresh M. Punjabi, is being published online today in the Public Library of Science, Medicine. Small studies and anecdotal reports have long hinted at the connection between sleep problems and death, especially from heart disease, but this is the first large research study to make the link.

This study, part of the Sleep Heart Health Study, involved 6,441 men and women between the ages of 40 and 70. They have been followed for more than eight years. Some had sleep apnea; some did not. Many identified themselves as snorers - a major symptom of the disorder. More than 1,000 participants died since the study began.

Men with apnea were more likely to die regardless of age, gender, race, weight or whether they were a current or former smoker, or had other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes, the study found.

Punjabi said the study shows that the majority of deaths aren't the result of the daytime drowsiness that is a hallmark of sleep apnea, the result of night after night of interrupted sleep.

Losing oxygen
A major culprit appears to be repeated episodes of apnea and the resulting oxygen deprivation, during which blood oxygen levels drop below 90 percent. If the heart doesn't get enough oxygen, it doesn't pump very well. As few as 11 minutes a night spent essentially holding one's breath - 2 percent of an average night's sleep of seven hours - caused the risk of death to double, Punjabi found.

"We all know that breathing's very important to our health, but because we're asleep and there's no pain, the difficulty in breathing while we sleep is not something [doctors] observe ... in a routine office visit," said Michael Twery, director of the National Institutes of Health's National Center on Sleep Disorders Research. "It's one of those hidden conditions."

Sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway is intermittently narrowed during sleep, causing breathing to be difficult or completely blocked.

The health risks appear to accumulate over many years. "It's a chronic exposure," he said. "One night's exposure in itself is not a health risk. ... It happens hundreds of times a night and it goes on for decades."

Along with so many men, about one in 10 women are believed to have sleep apnea. There were too few women in the study to draw any conclusions about apnea and death, but Twery said women also appear to be at risk. He said more needs to be known about women and apnea. There are questions, for example, about snoring during pregnancy and whether it affects the health of the mother and the developing fetus.

"It's underdiagnosed," Punjabi said. "Many physicians are unaware of this disorder. ... Patients have to know what they're suffering from."

Own snoring wakes him up
Jim Cappuccino, a 49-year-old retired police officer who develops and sells medical equipment, has been snoring for more than a decade. Loudly. The Baltimore resident - who at 5 feet 10 weighs 256 pounds - recently learned he has sleep apnea, though he wasn't all that surprised. His own snoring often woke him up."

Some nights I felt I was actually not asleep," he said. "You wake up and you're as bone-tired as when you went to bed."

Of his six siblings, four are doctors, who have long pushed him to take better care of himself and to get control over his roller-coaster weight. "It's time I face facts," Cappuccino said. "I'd like to see my [college junior] daughter graduate from college and law school."

Now, as part of a different Hopkins study, he is using a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, a mask worn at night that pushes air through the airway passage at a pressure high enough to keep it open during sleep. After two months, he already feels better.

Schulman said the public began to pay attention to the breathing disorder after Hall of Fame football player Reggie White's death five years ago was attributed to undiagnosed sleep apnea. The message started getting out, he said: "If you snore, go see your doctor."

Apnea in the air
When it makes headlines, the stories about sleep apnea are rarely good. This month, National Transportation Safety Board officials said the reason a plane in 2008 overflew a Hawaii airport was because the pilots fell asleep and the captain suffered from undiagnosed sleep apnea. The NTSB is calling for pilots to be screened for sleep apnea.

Schulman said treating apnea - through CPAP machines or by losing weight - might prevent deaths, though more research needs to be done.

Sleep apnea is diagnosed through a visit to a sleep clinic, something not everyone is willing or able to do.

"When we get people in the clinic, they're usually here because they're sleepy," Schulman said. "Often, folks will take treatments because they like the way it makes them feel."

But not everyone with apnea feels poorly. Some with more moderate, but still potentially dangerous, night breathing problems don't know there is anything wrong.

"There are some people with apnea who don't feel bad," he said.With that group, when the doctor suggests the bulky CPAP machine, "that's a much harder sell," Schulman said.

By the numbers
•Middle-age people with severe apnea were:
46 percent more likely to die of any cause
•Middle-age people with moderate apnea were 17 percent more likely to die of any cause
•About 1 in 4 men and 1 in 10 women suffer from sleep apnea
•Breathing problems for as little as 11 minutes a night cause the risk of death to double

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Buffalo Chips

Yummy yummy buffalo chips!

1 cup margarine
1 cup solid shortening
2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups quick oats (uncooked)
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups Rice Krispies
6 ounces chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream margarine and shortening. Add sugars, eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in oats, flour, baking soda and baking powder. When well blended, stir in coconut, pecans, Rice Krispies and chocolate chips. When batter is thoroughly mixed, measure 1/4 cup batter for each cookie on a large ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges are golden. For a crispier cookie, bake 12 to 15 minutes. Allow cookies to cool slightly on baking sheet before removing. This recipe makes about 4 dozen large cookies.

Tips From Our Test Kitchen: Substitute peanut butter or butterscotch chips if you prefer.

Monday, August 03, 2009


Whew, this heat stroke of a summer is really starting to get to me! It was already 86 degrees at 8 a.m. this morning. By 3 p.m. they expect the heat index to be 105 degrees. Seriously people, this is cruel and unusual punishment.

To keep cool during the summer I've been checking out one of my absolutely fave foodie Web sites, If you like to cook and you like to eat, this social networking site is for you. Plus, if you're going on vacation to a city you've never been to, you can check out dining recommendations from the people that live there. It is fabulous!

Monday, July 27, 2009

New York Eateries Nearly Trans Fat-Free

Wow, according to this article from Reuters, restaurants in the state of New York are pretty much trans fat-free! That is pretty impressive.

Using new technologies, margarine manufacturers have met the challenge and eliminated or reduced trans fat in margarine products, making a good product even better. In fact, almost every soft margarine product now shows “0 grams trans fats” on its label.

Read on for more about the elimination of trans fats in the New York eatieries. Kudos!

New York restaurants nearly all trans-fat-free

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Two years after New York City declared war on artificial trans fats, nearly all city restaurants had successfully cut the artery-clogging fats from their menus, health officials reported Monday.

In December 2006, the city's Board of Health decided to launch a gradual trans-fat phase-out from all licensed eating establishments -- including restaurants, school cafeterias and street vending spots.

By November 2008, more than 98 percent of city restaurants had stopped using artificial trans fats for cooking, frying and baking, researchers with the city's health department report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Trans fats have become notorious because they not only raise so-called "bad" LDL cholesterol, as the saturated fats in animal products do, but also lower levels of so-called "good" HDL cholesterol.

While some meats and dairy products naturally contain trans fat, most trans fats in people's diet are artificial; they are formed when manufacturers add hydrogen to vegetable oil to make it solidify.

These so-called partially hydrogenated oils were long a staple in processed foods, like crackers, cookies and pastries, and widely used by restaurants in cooking, frying and baking.

In 2006, before the health department ban, half of New York City's restaurants were using trans fats. By November 2008, less than 2 percent were, according to Dr. Sonia Y. Angell and her colleagues at the Department of Health.

When the restriction was first adopted, the researchers note, some critics claimed it was an Orwellian measure, while others worried that restaurants would have a tough time finding suitable trans-fat replacements.

However, the transition has been smooth, Angell's team writes, asserting that trans-fat restriction "is now a largely unnoticed part of New York City life."

The researchers point out that food manufacturers have been quick to market trans-fat-free shortenings and other products, making the transition easier for restaurants. In general, they say, city restaurants report that the change has been "cost neutral."

Since New York's measure passed, more than a dozen jurisdictions, including California, have adopted similar laws, and many national restaurant chains have cut trans fats from their menus, Angell's team notes.

Ridding the food supply of trans fats, the researchers write, could potentially improve the cholesterol levels of millions of people.

SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine, July 21, 2009.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Five-a-day Vegetables with Parmesan

After a completely exhausting vacation on a week-long cruise (seriously!) I have no energy to even sit up, much less think. Who knew that a cruise would be so jam-packed? Anyways, my body is feeling drained from too much activity and WAY too much food. I'm going to try and stick to healthful recipes this week. Like this one...

Five-a-day Vegetables with Parmesan

4 cups thinly sliced zucchini
1 small onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium carrot, grated
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons margarine
teaspoon salt Black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 cup diced tomatoes, seeds removed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese Instructions

1. Combine zucchini, onion, bell pepper, carrot, water, butter, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning in a large skillet. Cover and cook 1 minute. Uncover and cook, turning with wide spatula, until vegetables are barely tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Toss and cook another minute.
Serves 8 to 10.

Tips from the Test Kitchen
Tips From Our Test Kitchen: Throw in a handful of chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano or thyme, with the tomatoes for extra flavor.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Cruise Time Baby!

I hope everyone had a superb 4th of July! Why can't every week be a 4-day work week? Man, last week was great. I spent my 4th of July in Austin and every time I go there I am reminded of how much I love that city. The sites, the food, the people - you just can't beat it.

Anyways, today is actually my last day in the office for an entire week (!) because I'm going on my first-ever cruise. we're headed to the Bahamas, St. Thomas and St. Martin so if anybody has any tips on things to do or places to go, I'd love to hear 'em.

Cheers and I'll be talking to you in a week!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Margarine Wars

Being the margarine enthusiast that I am, I found this article rather amusing...

Imagine, if you will, a world where oleo-margarine is banned. Where only real butter is available and people have to smuggle the substitute substance across the border, avoiding border patrols, and taking back roads in the dead of night.

Is it some sort of Orwellian nightmare? Life in some oppressed communist satellite state? No, this was life in Wisconsin until the late 1960s, albeit with some fictional flourishes. These were the oleo wars and as silly as it may seem today, people then fought margarine as seriously as many fight genetically engineered food today.

Oleo-margarine was invented in 1869 by French scientist Hippolyte Mége-Mouries. He developed a way to extract an oil from beef fat. He combined this oil with milk, water, and a yellow dye to create a edible substance that resembled butter but was cheaper and stored better than the real thing.

His process was granted a U.S. patent in 1873 and by 1886 there were 37 plants in the United States manufacturing oleo-margarine. Fears soon developed that this product would be fraudulently substituted for real butter.

By 1886, the dairy lobby succeeded in having legislature passed that instituted labeling and packaging restrictions. Taxes were also imposed on margarine manufacturers. Wisconsin went a step further and in 1895 passed laws requiring hotels and restaurants to have clearly posted signs indicating that margarine was sold there.

They went even further by prohibiting the sale and manufacture of colored margarine (margarine was naturally white).

Despite these restrictions, the manufacture of margarine continued to increase and the dairy industry asked for more restrictions. The Grout Bill passed in 1902, which stated that margarine shipped between states was subject to the laws of the state it was being shipped to and that butter colored margarine was subject to a 10 cent per pound manufacturing tax while uncolored was only taxed 1/4 cent per pound.

It was the Great Depression and then World War II that gave oleo-margarine its greatest boosts. The Depression increased sales for the cheaper product and Wisconsin reacted by enacting license fees on margarine manufacturers and increasing the tax on the uncolored margarine to six cents per pound, while colored margarine was banned outright.

WWII, with it's food rationing, introduced margarine to many who had resisted it until then and after the war, as margarine's popularity gained, the government was forced to reconsider it's margarine legislation. In 1950, the federal law taxing colored margarine was repealed. Slowly, over the next decade, states that had instituted their own laws against margarine repealed them until only Wisconsin remained, refusing to change its laws.

In 1957, margarine consumption surpassed butter consumption, yet while others enjoyed their colored margarine and toast, in Wisconsin it was still illegal to use it and Wisconsinites were forced to color their own margarine or cross state lines to buy it. The 15 cent tax on uncolored margarine back in the 1950s was a huge extra expense that many families couldn't bare.

After much debate, including a blind taste test that embarrassed several of the pro-butter contingency, a law was passed on July 1, 1967 making colored margarine legal in Wisconsin for the first time since 1895. The product however, was still taxed until 1973.

Today, only a few laws regarding margarine still remain in Wisconsin, such as butter substitutes are not allowed to be served in state prisons and margarine may not be substituted for butter in restaurants unless requested by the customer

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chocolate Brownies with Fudge Frosting

I don't know why but thi week I've had a MAJOR yen for chocolate. Chocolate bars, chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!!! Given the fact that I am leaving for a cruise in less than a week in which I will be eating and drinking nonstop, this craving is really not so good for my waistline. But hey, there's not much I can do and I refuse to ignore my cravings.

Here's a yumtastic recipe from Betty Crocker's cookbook for chocolate brownies with fudge frosting. I put peanut butter morselfs in mine because nothing is better than peanut butter and chocolate!!!

Suggestions for additions to the batter:
1/2 cup peanut butter, stirred in before baking
Chocolate chips
Peanut Butter chips
Heath Bar, crushed up

Cocoa Brownies
2 cups sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix together sugar, margarine/butter, vanilla, and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread in a greased 9x13 pan.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool. Frost if desired.

Fudge Frosting:
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons margarine or butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix granulated sugar and cocoa in saucepan. Stir in milk, margarine, corn syrup and salt; heat to boiling, stirring frequently. Boil, stirring occasionally for 3 minutes. Cool. Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla. Add enough powdered sugar to desired spreading consistency.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Just One More Reason to Get That Beauty Sleep

Lacking Sleep Boosts Risk of High Blood Pressure, Study Finds
By Nicole Ostrow
June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Sleeping less than seven or eight hours a night as a routine puts people at risk for high blood pressure, a study found.

The less the adults participating in the research slept, the more likely they were to see their blood pressure rise, according to research published in yesterday’s Archives of Internal Medicine. For every hour of missed sleep, odds of developing the condition rose an average 37 percent over five years, said Kristen Knutson, the lead author. Skipping two hours sleep raised the blood pressure risk 86 percent.

More than 73 million American adults have high blood pressure and about 70 million suffer from chronic sleep problems, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney failure, according to the American Heart Association.

These study’s results “confirm what we’ve seen in the lab that there are health consequences to not getting enough sleep or not sleeping well,” said Knutson, a research associate and assistant professor at the University of Chicago. “People don’t respect sleep relative to diet and exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle.”

Researchers in the study followed 578 adults who had their blood pressure and other health signs measured between 2000 and 2001. At the start of the study, the participants were aged 33 to 45 years old. The scientists also measured how long each participant slept using a sensor on the wrist that chronicles rest and activity at two different points in the study.

After five years, each participant’s blood pressure was checked again and each was asked about their sleep.

Six-Hour Average
The adults in the study slept an average of six hours each night. Only seven participants averaged eight or more hours of sleep each night, the researchers found.

In the study, 14 percent, or 75 people, developed high blood pressure during the trial, the authors said. A U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the rate of high blood pressure among those aged 25 to 74 years old was 15 percent, she said.

Lack of sleep may affect the body’s sympathetic nervous system, which controls how the body responds to stress through the fight or flight response, Knutson said. Chronic lack of sleep or sleep problems may have a long-term effect on the cardiovascular system, increasing high blood pressure, she said. Not getting enough sleep is also related to obesity and diabetes, affecting overall heart health, she said.

People should focus on sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle that includes diet and exercise, Knutson said. Future studies need to examine whether improving sleep reduces a person’s risk of developing high blood pressure, she said.

The study, sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, was part of a larger trial called the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults, which recruited patients aged 18 to 30 years old in 1985 and 1986 from Chicago, Minneapolis, Oakland, California, and Birmingham, Alabama. The study’s results only included participants from Chicago.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Chocolate Toffee Crescent Bars

Just got back from Little Rock, AR where I stayed at the Capital Hotel. This place is gorgeous and has THE best toffee in the world. This isn't the recipe but for relevancy's sake, I figured I'd post it anyways because it's yummy.

Chocolate Toffee Crescent Bars

1 8 oz. can refrigerated quick crescent rolls
2/3 cup butter or margarine
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped nuts, your favorite
6 ozs. (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 375 F. degrees
2. Unroll dough into 2 long rectangles.
3. Place rolls in ungreased 15" X 10" jelly roll pan, pressing over bottom to form crust, sealing perforations.
4. In small saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar, boil 1 minute.
5. Pour evenly over dough and sprinkle with nuts.
6. Bake for 14-18 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips.
8. As the chips melt, slightly spread them over top.
9. Cool completely; cut into bar

Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

I hope everyone has a fantastic Memorial Day. I'm off to the University of Texas' graduation in Austin. Safe travels and please don't drink and drive!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Best Lasagna Recipe

This lasagna recipe is out of this world!! The combination of the meat sauce and the cream sauce is simply divine. This is one recipe you don't want to miss out on!


Noodles and Cheese:
1 pound lasagna noodles
16 ounces Parmesan cheese
16 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
16 ounce cottage cheese

Meat Sauce:
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 pound mild sausage
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (12-ounce) can tomato paste
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons salt
Black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Cream Sauce:
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

1. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse with hot water. Drain again. 2. To prepare the meat sauce, brown ground beef in a skillet. Add onion and garlic. Drain grease and add sausage, tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir in oregano, basil, salt, pepper, fennel seed and parsley. Simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer 30 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
3. To prepare the cream sauce, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour. Cook 1 minute. Add milk and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thick.
4. Preheat oven to 375F. To assemble the lasagna, pour 1/3 of meat sauce in bottom of a 15-by-12-inch pan. Lay 6 or 7 noodles over sauce. Pour 1/2 the remaining meat sauce over noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 the Parmesan cheese. Add another layer of noddles. Sprinkle on mozzarella. Pour hot cream sauce on top. Layer with remaining noodles, cottage cheese, remaining meat sauce and remaining Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake until cheese melts, about 30 minutes. Serves 12.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Poor Reporting on Margarine

There was a really crappy article in The National Post recently that helped to perpetuate the myths that margarine is one molecule away from plastic, was originally used to fatten turkeys AND increases one's risk for cancer five fold.

WOW, that certainly is giving one food product a lot of credit and power! If it can do all of those things, what can't margarine do?

Awful, awful, awful. These myths unduly harm consumers and may prevent them from consuming a product that not is harmless, but can help reduce the amount of saturated fat in one's diet.

Please do not believe these margarine email hoaxes that pop up sporadically. For more information, check out

Emma, out.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Take Care of Your ticker - Toddler Style

I found this cute little poem about heart health. Sure, it's made for young kids but when you get down to it, the advice is applicable to all of us.

The Heart

The heart pumps blood from your head to your toes
Through arteries and veins the blood smoothly flows
It goes round and around and around and around
From side to side
And up and down
The heart can beat slowly or it can beat fast
But good food and exercise will make it last
So be sure to eat all your veggies today
And when you are through
Just go out and play
These are the things we all need to do
Then your heart will be healthy...
And so will you too!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

"When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child."
-Sophia Loren, "Women and Beauty"

I love that quote and how true it seems to be. I'd like to wish my mother, my grandmother and all of the other mothers out there a truly fantastic Mother's Day. There's nothing we as children can do to thank you enough.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Pita Crisps

I love potato chips but they don't particularly love my waistline so I've become a pretty big fan of pita chips. This recipe is easy and sure to please even the most devoted chip fan

Pita Crisps
Yield: 4 servings
2 Pita breads (6" diameter)
2 teaspoon Margarine
2 teaspoon Oregano
4 tablespoon Grated parmesan cheese

Preheat broiler. Split pitas horizontally into 2 rounds. Spread rough edges with margarine. Place on cookie sheet. In a small bowl, toss together oregano and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over margarine. Cut each bread into wedges. Broil about 5" from heating element until crisp, about 2 minutes. Watch carefully! VARIATIONS: experiment with other herbs of your choice such as chives and parsley; or, omit oregano and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve alone or with dips or pates.
Your Pita Crisps is ready. Buon appetito!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Shopping Tips

Stress-free shopping
Article By:Marieke Loubser

Can you relate to this scene? After a long day at work, you're tired and hungry and you need to make a plan for supper. You don't know what to make, you aren't quite sure what you already have at home. Solution? A quick stop at the shops on your way home where you fly through the aisles and choose foods that look tasty and quick to prepare. When you get home, you realise that you still don't have all the ingredients you need for a balanced meal... but you did buy plenty of less-than-healthy foods.

Not only is food shopping inevitable but it's where healthy eating begins. What we buy affects the quality of our diets and nutritious meals can't happen without a ready supply of nutritious foods. It's all about shopping strategically.

Plan ahead
Start by planning what you will eat over the next week or two, depending on how often you shop for food. For optimal health, plan meals based on a variety of foods from each food group to build a balanced diet. See our plan for healthy eating.

As a quick rule of thumb, base your plan on the plate model:
Half your plate should be vegetables.
One quarter should be a carbohydrate-rich food, such as baby potatoes, dairy or fruit.
One quarter should be a lean protein, such as grilled fish, skinless chicken or boiled egg.
Add a small amount of healthy fat when cooking (e.g. olive oil) or as additional fat (e.g. low fat margarine) and you have a balanced plate.

Take stock
Then audit what you already have at home and make a list of what you still need. Putting together a master shopping list that you can use every time you shop is a great way to save time and to ensure you never forget anything.

Remember, a balanced, varied diet that incorporates foods from all the different food groups is the key to healthy eating.

Here are some ideas of nutritious basics you can use to create your master shopping list:
Dairy products
These foods are rich in bone-building calcium and muscle-building protein.
· Fresh milk (fat free or low fat)
· Long life milk (fat free or low fat)
· Evaporated milk (low fat)
· Powdered milk (fat free or low fat)
· Soya milk (low fat)
· Yoghurt (fat free or low fat or soya)
Boost your immune system with these nutrient power-houses for plenty of vitamin, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre.
Fresh fruit: A variety of different coloured seasonal e.g. apples, bananas, peaches, apricots, grapes, kiwi fruit and strawberries.
Canned fruit: In fruit juice (not syrup) e.g. pears, peaches and apple.
Bottled fruit: e.g. apple sauce.
Dried fruit: e.g. apricots, peaches, prunes, pears, raisins, cranberries and figs.
Choose different coloured vegetables for a wide range of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre.
A variety of fresh vegetables e.g. onions, gem squash, brinjals, baby potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cucumber, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, spring onions and peppers.
Canned: e.g. tomatoes, tomato and onion mix, corn, mushrooms, asparagus, artichokes and peas.
Bottled: e.g. asparagus, beetroot, baby sweet peppers, gherkins.
Frozen vegetables: plain or mixed.

Carbohydrate-rich foods
These foods provide essential fuel and energy for optimal function and performance.
Bread: e.g. whole grain, low GI bread and whole-wheat, low fat crackers/crisp bread.
Rice: e.g. white, basmati, brown, wild, mixed brown rice with lentils/wild rice.
Whole grains: e.g. barley, stampkoring (wheat rice), millet, quinoa.
Cereals: e.g. oats, high-fibre cereals, oat bran and porridge.
Pasta: All types (preferably wholewheat), such as spaghetti, penne, linguini and lasagne noodles.
Pasta sauces: e.g. low fat tomato and vegetable-based sauces
Couscous: (wholewheat if possible).

Beans, peas and lentils are a valuable addition to any healthy eating plan. They are very low in fat but concentrated sources of plant protein, minerals and fibre. They are also very economical and can easily be added to other dishes to enhance the nutritional value!
For example, baked beans, butter beans, sugar beans, kidney beans, green beans, mixed beans, chick peas, lentils, split lentils and split peas.

Protein-rich foods
These foods provide amino acids — the building blocks of protein essential for growth, maintenance and repair.
Fresh or frozen white fish: e.g. hake, sole, haddock and kingklip.
Fresh, frozen or canned oily fish: e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards and tuna.
Chicken: e.g. skinless thighs, skinless breasts, whole chicken, skinless kebabs.
Meat: e.g. extra lean beef mince, ostrich mince, ostrich steaks, pork fillet Cheese: low fat cheese wedges (e.g. Laughing Cow Light), fat free and low fat cottage cheese, parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, reduced fat cheddar, reduced fat gouda, reduced fat feta.

Fats and oils: Although fats are concentrated sources of kilojoules, some healthy fat is essential for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, protecting your cells and organs and increasing satiety.
Oils: Cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil; canola oil, avocado oil, low fat cooking spray.
Spreads: Soft, tub 'low fat' margarine, olive oil margarine.
Nuts and nut butters: Almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, macadamia, hazel and peanut butter.
Seeds: sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
Condiments and flavourings: Mustard, chutney, balsamic vinegar, low-sodium soya sauce, low-salt stock cubes.
Herbs and spices: Pepper, rosemary, mixed herbs, oregano, thyme, basil, coriander, mint, ginger, curry, garlic and cinnamon. Crushed garlic, fresh ginger, chillies, lemons.
Tomato cocktail, lemon, low-kilojoule cordial, 100 percent fruit juice (always dilute with water or soda), green tea, ceylon tea, herbal tea and decaffeinated coffee.
Before you go
Don't shop when you're hungry. We tend to buy on impulse and items that could compromise your nutrition goals seem more appealing when you are hungry. Have a healthy snack before you go. Arrange your lists according to aisles if you can — this will reduce zigzagging through the shop and save you time.

  • At the shops
    Stick to your list.
    Carry a basket where possible as this will limit space available for items not on your list.
    Processed foods tend to mainly be displayed towards in the centre aisles of the shop so try to stay on the perimeter of the shops where the less processed items are usually found.
    Buy perishable products last to avoid drastic temperature changes between the shops and home. Check your list again before you get to the till.
    When you get home
    Get your perishable foods into the fridge and freezer first.
    Pack items away in clean cupboards and containers at the appropriate temperatures.
    Place items with the oldest shelf life in front to be used first.
    Making it a habit
    Investing some effort into optimising your nutrition empowers you to complement a lifestyle of healthy eating that saves you time, money and frustration. Try it — the benefits will speak for themselves!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Icing in a Minute!

Homemade is almost always better but when it comes to icing for a cake, I usually take the lazy route and go for the store-bought stuff. However, One-Minute Chocolate Icing? I'm in!

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 stick margarine (do not use light margarine)
1/2 cup cocoa

Mix all ingredients together and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring while boiling.
Cool. Beat until creamy, then spread between layers and on top and sides of cake.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Jennifer Garner to be Dipped in Fatty Butter

I saw this article this morning and just thought it was slightly amusing.

I’m sure we’ve all dreamed at some point of combining Jennifer Garner with butter, but Mandate has taken it a step further and made that dream a reality. They’ve hired Jennifer Garner to star in a comedy about an orphan who grows up to be a champion butter-carver. It’s called Butter, and according to screenwriter Jason Micallef' it’s actually a political satire.

He’s a better writer than me, because I can’t think of any parallels between margarine and the Iraq war. HR says the idea came from a trip to the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, which is exactly where I’d have thought to look if I were out to find champion quality butter-carving. It sounds like the film will take place in a similar setting, with the movie’s orphan hero pitted against the ambitious wife of the retired reigning champion in an annualbutter-sculpting contest. No word on whether Garner plays the orphan or the orphan’s competition, but either way expect to see her greased up and shaping a block of butter into an exact likeness of Barack Obama’s head.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Get Your Zzz's

Late Bedtimes Linked to Heart Disease
Men who Turn In After Midnight Show Early Signs of Atherosclerosis
By Charlene Laino, WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 30, 2009 (Orlando) -- Burning the midnight oil may be hazardous to your health.
Men who go to bed after midnight have significantly more arterial stiffening -- an early stage of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries -- than men who turn in earlier, a new study shows.
Several large studies have linked chronic sleep loss to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other health problems, says Yu Misao, MD, of the Misao Health Clinic in Gifu, Japan.
But whether bedtimes also have an influence on heart health has not been explored, he tells WebMD.

Too Little Sleep Affects Heart Health
So Misao and colleagues put that question to the test in a study of 251 healthy men 60 and younger. They had an annual checkup, during which their blood pressure, body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and lipid levels were measured.

Brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity was used to examine the men for evidence of arterial stiffening. This measures how fast blood is rushing between the brachial artery in the arm and the tibial artery in the ankle. When blood pressure is high, blood flow accelerates, and the arterial walls stiffen.

All the participants filled out questionnaires that asked how many hours of sleep they got each night (six hours and 20 minutes, on average) and what time they went to bed (11:30 p.m. on average).

The fewer hours a man slept each night, the higher his BMI, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels, the study showed.

“This is consistent with previous reports showing that short sleep duration may negatively affect cardiovascular risk factors, Misao says.
There was no significant relationship between how many hours a man slept and arterial stiffness.

Late Bedtimes Linked to Arterial Stiffness
The men were then divided put into three groups according to the number of hours they reported sleeping at night: less than six hours, six to seven hours, and seven hours or more.
In each of these groups, the men who reported going to bed before midnight had more relaxed arteries, as shown by significantly lower brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity levels, than the men who went to bed after midnight.

The findings were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 58th Annual Scientific Sessions.

“While the study doesn’t tells us why, a previous study suggested that people who go to bed late might eat more at night,” Misao says. Evening snacking may raise the risk of obesity, a risk factor for heart disease, he says.

Other research suggests that turning in after midnight might activate the sympathetic nervous system, which accelerates body functions, including heart rate, and helps control how the body responds to stress, Misao says.

Daniel Jones, MD, past president of the American Heart Association and dean of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, says it’s possible that “there’s some physiological [explanation] for the finding.”

For example, turning in after midnight might throw your internal biological clock out of synch, he says.

“But people who go to bed late are different from people who go to bed early. They may be more likely to smoke. They may be more likely to drink, They may be more likely to overeat. These are all heart disease risk factors that [weren’t taken into account in the analysis],” Jones tells WebMD.

At this point, “I wouldn’t recommend changes in my sleep behavior based on this study,” he says.

Misao agrees that further research is needed.

“From the point of view of preventing cardiovascular disease, we have to focus not only on diet and exercise, but also on how we sleep, including when we go to bed,” he says.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

Home sweet home. It's good to be back! I just returned from a week and a half long business trip in Tucson, AZ. Let me just tell you that I thought living in Houston was hot but whoa, Tucson takes it to a whole new level. It was mid-March and it got into the 90's a few days last week!

The terrain in Tucson is like nothing I've ever seen before. While trees are (very) limited, there are beautiful cacti all over the place. Plus, the sun setting over the mountains is like nothing I've ever seen before. Simply stunning.

I've got to go catch up on buckets and buckets of work but I'll be back later this week!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Celebrity Chefs Criticized by UK Fat Panel

I am loving this article below! I watch The Food Network constantly and am frequently amazing at how much FAT is in the recipes that celebrity chefs make. I can almost feel my butt getting bigger as I watch the show. There are simple tricks, as this UK Fat Panel recommends, to cut calories such as switching from butter to margarine, using skim milk instead of cream, incorporating fat-free or reduced-fat versions of your favorite products, etc. that can really lighten the caloric load of a recipe. Be sure to check out Gordon Ramsey's "Sticky Toffee and Chocolate Pudding" recipe and ways to make this "fatty recipe" much lighter without skimping on taste.

Read on...

Naughty and not so nice: celebrity chefs in firing line
Recipes by Lawson, Ramsay and others contain too much 'killer' fat, says panel

The popular recipes of celebrity chefs such as Nigella Lawson and Gordon Ramsay are laden with "killer" fats linked to deadly heart disease, strokes and obesity, according to new research.
Recipes of 15 top chefs which have featured in their bestselling cookery books have been scrutinised by a panel of nutritionists and dieticians and found to contain high levels of unhealthy saturated fat by using ingredients such as butter, double cream and cheese.

In some cases one serving contains more than an adult's entire recommended daily limit of saturated fats - 20 grams for women and 30g for men.

The report, The Guilty Secret of Celebrity Chefs, published today by The Fat Panel, analysed the saturated fat content of a variety of starters, main courses, side orders and desserts from popular cookbooks. It warns that people eating these dishes regularly could be putting their lives at serious risk by bumping up their saturated fat intake.

On average, people are eating 20% too much saturated fat, the report says, and there is evidence that it can increase levels of LDL cholesterol, which is a risk factor for causing heart disease, Britain's biggest single killer.

Recipes by Jean-Christophe Novelli and John Burton-Race are singled out for containing a lot of butter and cream. A single portion of Novelli's honey roast pumpkin soup generated 43.2g of saturated fat - well over twice the daily allowance - even before adding the full fat cheese garnish. One portion of Gordon Ramsay's sticky toffee and chocolate pudding contained 23g of saturated fat. Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver are given overall approval, but they are admonished for their frequent use of butter. Burton-Race and Rick Stein are criticised for being "keen to use high saturated fat ingredients constantly", and Nigella Lawson is criticised for using butter instead of margarine in her egg and bacon pie, with a single serving brimming with 36g of fat.

The report says some simple swaps can make a dramatic difference to saturated fat content, without adversely affecting the overall flavour and food experience. The panel - which receives funding from the UK's Margarine and Spreads Association - suggests that consumers use stronger cheese and low-fat polyunsaturated or mono-unsaturated spreads instead of butter.

Sian Porter, a registered dietician on The Fat Panel, said: "We are not being the nutrition police here or killjoys, but there are some things that are pure indulgence and should be left as such, to be enjoyed as an occasional treat in all their fat, sugar and calorie-laden glory. We should be cautious of getting into the habit of eating them too frequently."

She said celebrity chefs were hugely influential in the UK but many people did not realise the potential health implications of their "calorie and fat-laden dishes". A spokesman for Novelli said: "Jean-Christophe puts his recipes together for flavour, to give people an exciting eating experience. If people are worried about saturated fat content in any of his recipes, they can easily substitute other ingredients. In the case of the pumpkin soup, for example, by using single cream, creme fraiche or even healthy yoghurt."

The Food Standards Agency has recently launched a multimillion pound advertising campaign featuring TV adverts and cooking tips to encourage consumers to cut down on their saturated fat intake.

The fat factor
Gordon Ramsay's sticky toffee and chocolate pudding
Ingredients for pudding
200g medjool dates
175g muscovado sugar
250ml water
100g lightly salted butter* (use margarine instead!)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp espresso or strong coffee
3 large eggs
150g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
For toffee sauce
100g dark muscovado sugar
75g lightly salted butter * (use margarine instead!)
250ml double cream*

*Replacing the butter with the same quantities of low fat vegetable spread and the double cream with thick single cream reduces the saturated fat content by 65%

Monday, March 09, 2009

Fresh Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I adore cream cheese frosting so this cake is always a staple for me. Happy Monday...ick!

Fresh Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt 2 cups peeled and chopped apples
1 cup chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Icing:
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. 2. Beat sugar, eggs and oil together with a mixer until well blended. Mix in flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in apples and walnuts, mixing well. 3. Pour into baking dish. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool before icing. 4. To prepare the icing, mix butter, sugar, cream cheese and vanilla. Spread on cooled cake. Serves 20.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I Like to Move it, Move it

Hey there folks. I hope everybody's staying warm out there. If not, have I got a solution for you! MOVE IT!!!

This week is the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's MS Awareness Week. According to its Web site, "MS Awareness Week March 2 – 8 is the time for the nation to go orange and Move It to end multiple sclerosis, a disease where someone is newly diagnosed each hour. Supported by a Congressional Resolution, this year MS Awareness Week and the state of MS research aptly coincide: Move It to create a world free of MS."

In recognition of MS Awareness Week, many organizations, individuals and companies have special events planned. These include:

  • Phil Keoghan, host of CBS’s The Amazing Race, will Move It on Thursday, March 5 in Times Square when he sets up a cycle-thon training ride for his upcoming bike ride across America that will raise awareness for the Society’s Bike MS ride series;

  • People across the country are volunteering to help raise funds and awareness to end MS by registering for Walk MS, Bike MS, and joining grass roots activist teams to advocate for health care reform;

  • Crowds of volunteers and staff from the Society are “taking over” high-traffic/high visibility sites such as Rockefeller Plaza across the country for “now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t” Move It stunts; a “Join the Movement bus” tour will roll across AL; movement marathons including stair climbs are occurring in Chicago and New York, cycle-thons in MI and CA, and a mud-run in Florida, all designed to bring awareness of the impact of MS;

  • Buildings including the Empire State building and city fountains are going orange; 3,000 orange pinwheels representing the people with MS in Maine will be spread out across a well-known field;
  • Teri Garr recorded Move It PSAs are now playing nationwide;

  • and orange bracelets, bumper stickers, shirts and caps will be the dress du jour throughout the week.

Do your part. I know that times are tough and it's hard to donate a lot of money right now, but ever little bit helps. Or, if you can't donate money then donate your time or just wear orange to support the cause.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Off to Publicly Relate for the Weekend

Long but exciting weekend ahead! I'm driving to Dallas from Houston this afternoon to attend the Texas Public Relations Association's Best of the Southwest Communicators Conference.

It's a 3-day conference filled with some great speakers discussing timely topics such as making your brand recession-proof, better understanding the role of social media for PR, etc. I'm super exicted about it and think it will be very useful.

The only downside of this conference is that I'll be missing the Houston Rodeo's cook-off. This is basically Houston's version of Mardi Gras...except on hay! It's a weekend of lots of food and fun and I'm very sad to miss it. Oh well, there's always next year.

Talk to you next week!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cheesy Chicken Chowder Delight

I am a total chowder freak. I could eat corn chowder, clam chowder, bacon & chowder and so on, pretty much every single day of the week. Of course my butt would be the size of Wisconsin but hey, we all make sacrifices, right?

This recipe below is delish and I think you'll enjoy it too!

Cheesy Chicken Chowder

3 cups chicken broth
2 cups diced peeled potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup margarine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups diced cooked chicken

1In a large pan, bring chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat. Add potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. 2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour and mix well. Gradually stir in milk and cook over low heat until slightly thickened. Stir in cheese and cook until melted. Add to broth and vegetables along with chicken. Cook and stir over low heat until heated through. Serves 6 to 8.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fight the flu

Wow, I feel like I'm back from the dead. After almost a week of sitting in bed, miserable and tortured, I can finally say the flu has passed. I'd recommend giving criminals the flu virus as some sort of capitol punishment.

Anyways, this week will be one of relaxation and recuperation. Below are a few steps to avoid the misery I went through:

Get the flu vaccine! Either the shot or the nasal spray if you are eligible.

To help boost your immune system, get plenty of rest, exercise, and eat properly.

Stay home from work or school if you experience flu symptoms. Taking it easy could help you feel better sooner and also will slow the spread of disease to others.

If you think you have been exposed to someone with flu, or are starting to have flu symptoms, call your health care provider. Certain medications can help if you start taking them within the first 48 hours.

To reduce the spread of germs, cover your nose and mouth, preferably with disposable tissue, when coughing or sneezing. Always discard used tissue properly in the trash.

Pay attention to hand-washing. After using the bathroom, before eating and before and after preparing food, clean your hands with soap and warm water for at least 15 seconds. Carry a waterless hand gel and wash your hands frequently.

Clean surfaces you touch frequently, such as door knobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles and telephones.