Friday, October 28, 2011

Taking the Mystique Out of Candy

Taking the Mystique Out of Candy

Today's post is from a guest blogger, Emily Matthews. Enjoy!

Many children, and adults, consume more sugar than their bodies need. Consequently, more and more parents are trying to show their children what harmful effects sugar can have on a person. Of course, it’s not that we want kids to stop eating candy and sweets. We just want them to eat less.

One of the best approaches to talking to children about nutrition and sugar is a mental one. It doesn’t take a masters degree in psychology to know that actions speak louder than words: show your kids what the sugar is doing them. Show them pictures of teeth affected by too much sugar. Sharing images of rotten teeth might be the tactic you need to open up a dialogue about moderation.

You can teach children about the sugar in soda using a similar method: drop a penny into a glass of dark soda. Let the penny soak in the glass for a few days, then take the penny out and show it to your children. The soda will corrode away at the tarnish on the penny and you can use this to show your children what soda can do to their enamel.

As a parent, you can also show your children how eating too much sugar will make them more tired. One way to do this is by having your children do an experiment. First, tell them about the experiment and explain it. Tell them not to eat candy for a whole day and play outside. On the following day, allow them to eat several pieces of candy before playing outside. This will allow your child to feel the difference and show your child that eating too much candy will make them become tired more quickly after the initial sugar rush.

These are wonderful psychological ways to teach your children about the effect too much candy can have on them. None of these tips will harm your child. They will, however, allow your child to physically see the problems caused by excessive sugar intake.

About Emily: Emily Matthews is currently applying to masters degree programs across the U.S., and loves to read about new research into health care, gender issues, and literature. She lives and writes in Seattle, Washington.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This is a great article about ways to reduce your risk for breast cancer. Check out my blog tomorrow for a special guest post about Halloween candy!
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which makes this a good time for every woman (and man) to reflect on lifestyle changes they can make to promote breast health.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women; one out of eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Although there are some non-modifable risk factors for breast cancer — including family history of breast cancer, onset of menopause after the age of 54 and increasing age — there are risk factors which are modifiable, such as obesity, alcohol use and diet. Addressing these modifiable risk factors can reduce your chance of developing breast cancer.
My prescription for promoting breast health is as follows:
1. Be physically active, and try to maintain a normal weight. Exercise is a powerful way to decrease your risk for not only breast cancer but other chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity five times a week. Find something you enjoy doing, such as taking a brisk walk, going on a bicycle ride or taking an aerobic class. The important thing is to just get moving.
2. Eat well. The food you eat has a significant impact on your health. Diets high in fruits and vegetables and whole grains have been shown to decrease the risk of cancer. Aim for six to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Use turmeric, which acts as a great anti-inflammatory agent. Eat a least two servings of broccoli or cauliflower a week, and include 1-2 tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed in your food daily to help with estrogen clearing. Limit red meat and other animal fat, and avoid eating charred meats which are carcinogenic. Add healthy oils, like olive oil, nuts and fatty fish.
3. Don’t smoke, and limit your alcohol consumption to no more than seven servings of alcohol a week.
4. Drink several cups of green or black tea a day. Tea has been shown to have cancer-fighting properties.
5. Take a daily multi-vitamin/mineral and vitamin D (1,000 to 2,000 IU) daily. Also take an omega-3 supplement (2,0000 mg EPA+ DHA) daily. For those at high risk for breast cancer, consider adding the supplement indole-3-carbinol (400 mg per day) to help with estrogen clearing.
6. Reduce toxic exposures in your life. One of my favorite websites is — a great resource to learn about pesticides in food and toxic chemicals in household and personal products.
7. Manage stress in your life by developing a daily relaxation program.
8. Get annual mammograms starting at age 40. Although there has been some recent debate about when to get mammograms, most breast cancer experts will tell you that mammograms are the best tool we currently have for early detection.Incorporating these lifestyle changes not only will help you delay or avoid the development of breast cancer, but will improve your overall health and wellness.
IHM tip: Don't forget to add soft margarine spreads to your diet, which contain no trans fat a dn can be beneficial to your heart health and overall health in general!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Useless, Unrelated Tip of the Month

Okay, I just read this tip in Women's Health magazine and I'm so impressed with it that I just have to share it with you, my beloved readers.
Do you struggle with a dirty keyboard - crumbs, hair, dust getting stuck between the keys? I have a solution for you!
Take a sticky note and run the stick part of the part between the keys of your keyboard and voila! Your keyboard is instantly de-junkified. How cool is that? I really enjoy seeing all the crap that ends up on the sticky note. Is that wrong? If so, I don't want to be right.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tips for Cooking and Baking with Soft Spread Margarine

Here are some tips for cooking & baking with soft spread margarine, courtesy of

Use the following guidelines when selecting a soft spread margarine product (also know as buttery spreads) for use in a favorite recipe:

◦Spreads with 60% or more oil can be used almost anywhere butter or margarine is specified. (Spreads are not recommended for baked goods that require precise amounts of fat and moisture, such as pastry crusts, unless a recipe has been developed specifically for that purpose.)

◦Spreads with 50-59% oil also work well for most cooking applications, including sautéing, in addition to topping and spreading.

◦Spreads with 49% or less oil should be used only for spreading, topping and adding flavor to recipes. They are not designed for baking and frying.

◦The lower the oil content (% oil), the less fat there is in the product. Because fat contributes texture and browning properties to foods, spreads with a lower amount of fat may not perform in the same way as traditional stick margarine or butter.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Listening to Life: Heart health, weight loss benefits of pets have been focus of national studies

I found this article online and thought it was so cute that I'd have to share it with my lovely readers. As if we all need an excuse to own a pet it turns out it's actually beneficial to heart health.

Listening to Life: Heart health, weight loss benefits of pets have been focus of national studies
Naples News
By Nori St. Paul

Life isn’t always a bed of roses.

I woke up this morning, stretched and popped a few bones. I’m getting old, I thought. I reached out my hand and slid around the sheets, looking for Lily. I drew her to me and felt the indescribable warmth of pure love next to my skin. My physical discomfort melted into the background as Lily snuggled close and kissed my face and I began my morning meditation.

If you have a pet, you know the feeling. Well, unless you have a pet fish or snake, you wouldn’t want to wake up to them in bed. (Eh-hemm. No comments, please!) But, as a matter of fact, I’ve had those, too, and loved them. There’s just something about Lily. I’m not alone in my zeal for my precious pup.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that about two-thirds of all U.S. households own at least one pet, and a 2009 report reveals there were more than 160 million pet cats and dogs nationwide. And reports abound about the health benefits of our four-legged friends. One NIH-funded investigation looked at more than 2,000 adults and found that dog owners who regularly walked their dogs were more physically active and less likely to be obese than those who didn’t own or walk a dog. Another study supported by NIH followed more than 2,500 older adults, ages 71-82, for 3 years. Those who regularly walked their dogs walked faster and for longer time periods each week than others who didn’t walk regularly. Older dog walkers also had greater mobility inside their homes than others in the study.

Well, let me tell you, I do love the opportunity to get more exercise, like now.

OK, I’m back. Took her out real quick for her morning business, then I did what I always do. I turned on my computer to start my day writing, and started my coffee, which brand happens to be a step down from my passion for Starbucks. “OK,” I say, “That’ll be one extra scoop for this brand. There, ahhh,” I say as I simultaneously sip and will myself to imagine the weaker more rancid tasting coffee is as blissful as any, and after all, practical in an economy that is wearing thin the term “economic recovery.” Anyway, I’m happy. Where’s Lily? Oh. Here she is. “I’m lucky,” I say to myself.

It’s just a fact that Lily gives me unconditional love. No matter what, she loves me. No matter what, I’m good enough for her. I really like the study where the NIH looked at 240 married couples. Those who owned a pet were found to have lower heart rates and blood pressure, whether at rest or when undergoing stressful tests, than those without pets. Pet owners also seemed to have milder responses and quicker recovery from stress when they were with their pets than with a spouse or friend.

Excuse me while I take a break; breakfast time for Lily. She doesn’t ask for much, and she gives me so much — I feed her the best dog food money can buy. Dollar for dollar, the dog food is more expensive than my coffee, and all the other canine brands on the shelf are cheaper, every single one of them. If I went for the cheapest dog food, I could justify my Starbucks coffee. If you knew how much I loved my Starbucks French Roast in the morning, you’d know how much I love my Lily to forgo it for the IAMS. And she’s worth it.

Although, I’ll admit that at first I thought, how funny…people would rather be with an animal than a human? But now that I think about it, when I was a little girl, I had pets that served as my safe haven from all kinds of discord, and even saved my emotions in some ways, just as the studies indicate. Let’s see, there was Rusty, Sam, Bandit, Max and a beagle whose name I can’t remember. In my adult life, there were two more Sams, a Shadow, Bit Bit and Little Boy. There was Jolie, Caesar, Callie and Romeo. And then my fish, and that little baby king snake. Never once did any of my pets abuse me, call me a name, shame me or hurt my feelings in any way.

When I first got Lily a year and a half ago, I was worried that she may be too much of a distraction for a writer, or too demanding of my time. While it’s true that pets are a great commitment, they give far more than they require. Twenty four-seven, my precious dog is available to give me love, and let me love her. She has truly become my most trusted and loving confidant, odd as it sounds, and she is always so happy to see me, no matter what.

And Lily, who I adopted from a client at the Naples Shelter for Abused Women and Children, (where, by the way, they allow pets), well, she is my life jacket. Really. Another NIH related study reveals she’s good for my cardiovascular system, and when I pet her, not only does it reduce my blood pressure, it reduces my stress and risk of heart attack. One NIH-funded study looked at 421 adults who’d suffered heart attacks. A year later, the scientists found, dog owners were significantly more likely to still be alive than were those who did not own dogs, regardless of the severity of the heart attack.

So, yes, life isn’t always a bed of roses, but it’s been pretty awesome with my friend Lily, and you know, this coffee tastes pretty darn good after all. C’mon Lily, let’s get on with our day.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

State Fair of Texas' Big Tex Awards

My husband and I are heading to Dallas for the annual University of Texas vs. Oklahoma University football game held in Dallas at the State Fair of Texas.

Besides football and carnival games and rides the fair is well-known for its fried item contest. Next week I'll update you on the variety of fried items we tested but I can assure you the fried bubblegum will not be on that list. Below are the list of this year's finalists. For more information check out

Buffalo Chicken in a Flapjack BEST TASTE - A buffalo chicken strip is coated in flapjack batter, rolled in jalapeno bread crumbs, deep fried to a golden brown, skewed, and served with a side of syrup. Crowd pleasing appetizer or a meal in itself! inside the Automobile Building and in the Thrill Way.

Fried Bubblegum MOST CREATIVE - You’ll swear it’s bubblegum! A light as a feather bubble gum flavored marshmallow is dipped in batter and lightly fried to perfection. Decorated with a swirl of icing. A final sprinkling of powdered sugar completes this treat! It will blow you away! Granny’s Funnel Cakes on Coliseum Drive.

Deep Fried Pineapple Upside Down Cake - Fresh and sweet pineapple rings are delicately dipped in cake batter, fried, and coated with a caramel, sugar, and cinnamon glaze. What tropical treat is complete without a cherry on top? Fun Way across from Guest Relations and Nimitz Avenue by the Embarcadero.

Deep Fried Texas Salsa™ - This spicy medley of jalapenos, roasted garlic, onion, tomato, and pepper is rolled together, dipped in masa, and covered in crunchy tortilla chips. Into the fryer and served with warm, deliciously creamy queso. Located on Cotton Bowl Plaza at the Taste of Cuba stand and the Beer Garden.

El Bananarito - In case you are wondering, it’s a deep fried banana rolled in a flour tortilla, topped with whipped cream, powdered sugar, a dusting of cinnamon, and a touch of vanilla extract. Top it off with your choice of smooth, hot caramel or decadent chocolate syrup. Funnel Cake stand on Fun Way.

Fried Autumn Pie - Fairgoers will fall for this hard to resist puff pastry infused with a scrumptious combination of pumpkin, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and fall spices. Deep fried and rolled in ginger, cinnamon, and sugar. Chicken on a Stick stand located on Nimitz Drive, near the entrance to the Embarcadero.

Hans’ Kraut Ball - A conglomeration of taste: browned pork sausage, onion, garlic, a zing of sauerkraut, mustard, and tasty seasonings all rolled into a mouth-watering ball of delight. Covered with seasoned bread crumbs, deep fried, and served with your choice Spicy Mustard, Raspberry Chipotle, or Ranch. Hans Mueller tent next to the Main Stage, in Cotton Bowl Plaza, and at on Nimitz Circle.

Walking Taco - Stroll down the Midway with this concoction of seasoned hamburger meat, lettuce, onion, fresh tomato, grated cheese, sour cream, and tasty salsa. Inventively served up in a Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos® bag! Darn Good Corn stand across from Gateway Pavilion tent on Coliseum Drive.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Mom's Margarine Cake

Mom's Margarine Cake

3 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups margarine, softened
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup evaporated milk


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch tube pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and margarine until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and lemon juice. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; mix into the batter alternating with the milk just until blended. Pour into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the crown comes out clean. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.