Tag Archives: home

How to Start Cooking at Home for Health and Fun

Cooking at home is ideal. It gives you complete control of what you eat. The general wisdom is that cooking at home is healthier and that people typically consume less calories than when they eat out or get takeout. And if anyone in the family has special dietary needs it is much easier to build a collection of recipes you make yourself rather than relying on restaurants that will have to modify theirs to (maybe) fit your needs.

Cooking at home allows you to avoid processed food items from the middle of the grocery store and use instead fresh, seasonal ingredients. Many processed foods and restaurant dishes will contain extra sodium, sugar and/or fat.

If starting from scratch, there are several things you’ll need to do to get started. Gathering recipes, getting basic cooking tools, deciding how often during the week you’ll cook are all good ideas. If you don’t cook at all, don’t jump in headfirst. Start out cooking once a week. After a few weeks increase it to two days. You might consider trying to cook on your days off to avoid stress and to decrease the chance you’ll get frustrated and dial out for pizza.

Basic equipment should include: a decent sized cutting board; a good, sharp chef’s knife; a large saucepan with lid; a spatula and cooking spoon; a large nonstick skillet. With these tools you’ll be able to tackle many basic recipes.

You’ll also want some ingredient basics like salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, cooking oil (pay attention to nutrition and smoke temperatures to find the best one for you) olive oil is a good start. Keep some basic canned goods and frozen veggies around.

When picking recipes start simple! As you learn you can try more complex recipes The fewer ingredients typically the easier the recipe. Don’t be embarrassed by starting by pan cooking or baking some chicken breast and preparing a fresh vegetable with a salad. If you’ve never cooked before something simple like this is a good way to get your feet wet.





Salad: Bagged or Bulk?

A new recall in September of 8,000 cases of Hearts of Romaine salad has consumers worried once again about bagged salad. I asked Jody Victor to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor:

A new recall in September of 8,000 cases of Hearts of Romaine salad has consumers worried once again about bagged salad. Listeria was the problem that forced this recall. Other top producers have since pulled their bagged lettuce off the shelves for evaluation. No illnesses have been tied to the voluntary recalls. Food safety experts get asked all the time- which is better, bagged lettuce or bulk?
Doug Powell, a professor of food safety at Kansas State University, says, ?We call it faith-based food safety.? He and other researchers in food science and technology say that while consuming any lettuce is a gamble, they place their bets on the bagged varieties. Even the crisp heads of lettuce from a farmer?s market can be unsafe as you do not know how long they have been sitting in water with soil still on them. They believe that the professionals do the best job of anyone cleaning the product, washing it thoroughly in chlorinated water. They also believe that the professionals have a big stake in safety and a bigger incentive to get it right.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure the safety of your bagged salads:

  1. Buy bagged salad as far away from its expiration date as possible.
  2. Choose bagged salad only from a very cold refrigerator in the grocery store.
  3. Wash your hands and sink before washing the bagged salad again at home.
  4. Place bagged greens in a clean colander and rinse thoroughly.
  5. Shake greens well in colander to drain and dry.
  6. If you are not going to use greens immediately, re-bag into a zippered plastic food bag or bowl with tight-fitting lid.
  7. Keep greens cold until serving.

Thanks Jody

All the Best,

Steve Victor

Whooping Cough Outbreak

The United States is having the worst whooping cough outbreak in modern times. The previous record of 27,550 cases was set in 2010. 2012 is on track to shatter that record as the country has seen 32,131 reported cases already (through September 15). I asked Jody Victor®  to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor®: The top ten states with reported cases are: Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa, Colorado, and Utah. Eight of those states allow parents to exempt their children from required immunizations (only New York and Iowa do not). Those eight states account for 56 percent of all the whooping cough cases in the United States.

Pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, is an upper respiratory infection caused by the Bordetella pertussis or Bordetella parapertussis bacteria. Whooping cough gets its popular name from the whoop sound that the patient makes after a coughing fit as he/she is trying to take a breath. (The whoop noise is rare in patients under 6 months of age and in adults.) Whooping cough can affect people of any age. It is a highly contagious and serious disease that can cause permanent disability in infants, even death.

Initial symptoms are similar to the common cold and develop about a week after exposure to the bacteria. Severe episodes of coughing start about ten days later, long after a common cold should be gone. Coughing spells may lead to vomiting or a short loss of consciousness. Whooping cough should always be considered when vomiting occurs with coughing. With infants choking spells are also common.

If started early enough, antibiotics such as erythromycin can make the symptoms go away more quickly. Unfortunately most patients are diagnosed too late and antibiotics are not very effective, though the medicine can help reduce the patient’s ability to spread the disease.

Pertussis/ whooping cough, is a preventable disease and yet it is still a problem.  In 2005, DTaP replaced the old “whole cell” pertussis vaccine called DTP, which often caused severe side effects. Currently five doses of DTaP (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) are given to children before they enter school. The vaccine is administered at 2, 4, and 6 months and again at 15 to 18 months and at 4 to 6 years. It is currently recommended that children get a booster shot at age 11 or 12.

A new study by researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center in Oakland, California, has documented for the first time how quickly DTaP immunity can wear off. Dr. Nicola P. Klein, head of the study, and colleagues showed that even after all five doses of the new a-cellular vaccine were properly administered, protection against pertussis waned during the next 5 years. They also found that the infected children were surprisingly young- 8 to 11- not the teenagers who were historically the most infected during prior outbreaks. “The old vaccine lasted longer,” says Dr. Klein, “Originally we didn’t think this vaccine would be substantially different from the old one.”

The new evidence on whooping cough shows that the booster vaccine should be given earlier, perhaps at 8 or nine years of age, to protect children in their preteens. The same booster is currently recommended as a one-time injection for adults through age 64 in lieu of a 10-year tetanus shot. As researchers study the longevity of DTaP they may soon recommend a booster for adults every ten years instead of a one-time booster.

Babies who are not fully immunized and have not yet built up their own immunities to diseases are especially vulnerable to pertussis. Babies who are not fully immunized may develop pneumonia, severe breathing problems, and terrifying seizures. It is vitally important that anyone who has routine contact with infants should be immunized against pertussis. That would include all day care workers, nannies, babysitters, and grandparents. If pregnant women have not recently had a booster shot, the CDC recommends that it be given late in the second trimester or early in the third.

Dr. Klein has stated, “Although a better vaccine is needed, the current vaccine is safe and effective, and some protection is better than no protection.”

 Thanks, Jody!

All the Best!

Steve Victor

Type 3 Diabetes- Double Trouble

Health officials are deeply concerned over a new phenomenon that physicians are seeing in increasing numbers with their patients suffering with diabetes. I asked Jody Victor® to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor®: The phenomenon is typically called Type 3 Diabetes (or Double Diabetes). It has also been called Hybrid Diabetes. According to recent reports, physicians are increasingly seeing patients with the symptoms of both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. It appears that having either type of diabetes is necessary for developing Type 3. There are only a few symptoms of Type 3 that have been directly associated with it, including an increased heart rate and spikes in glucose levels.

Diabetes occurs when the body cannot turn blood sugar, or glucose, into energy- either because it does not produce enough insulin (Type 1) or when the body does not use it correctly (Type 2). Type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes, affects five percent of all diabetics. It happens when the body’s immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. It was previously thought that Type 1 only occurred with children, but it is now known that adults can also develop it as well. Type 2 diabetes affects over ninety-five percent of all diabetics. Type 2 happens when the body becomes unable to process insulin properly.

Since little is currently known about Type 3 Diabetes, physicians are turning to prevention as the first response to fighting this new phenomenon. When a child is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, parents are encouraged to keep him/her as close to a healthy weight as possible with regular physical activity and a healthy diet. A healthy diet should be a family affair, whether or not someone in the family has diabetes. Controlling your body weight is a good way to keep from getting Type 2 Diabetes. Researchers believe that controlling obesity may be crucial to getting to the bottom of the Type 3/Double Diabetes phenomenon. One theory currently under testing is that obesity may be the trigger either because it overworks the pancreas or it destroys the autoimmune system.  It is also believed that even if you are genetically predisposed to Type 1 Diabetes, you may be able to avoid Type 3 Diabetes with weight control.

Diabetics can consume the same foods as the rest of the family. The goal is to follow a well-balanced diet, keep serving sizes under control, and make sure your body has enough insulin to handle the foods you eat. Diabetics need to observe and learn how different foods affect their blood sugar and how to coordinate the types and amount of insulin taken before a meal. Your family meal plan should include more good fats (vegetables and nuts) and less bad fats (saturated and animal fats). Carbohydrates have the most influence on blood sugar levels. Grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, and dairy products have the highest concentrations of carbs. You should talk with your doctor or registered dietician to develop an individualized plan.

Thanks, Jody!

All the Best!

Steve Victor

Fall Allergy Season 2012

The middle of August marks the beginning of ragweed season. The Fall Allergy Season of 2012 is expected to be a bad one for the tens of millions of Americans who suffer from hayfever.  I asked Jody Victor®  to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor®: There are 17 different species of ragweed in the U.S. They are most common in the rural areas of the Eastern states and the Midwest, but can be found throughout the country. Ragweed pollen this year is expected to be the worst in the Eastern states, which have had sufficient rainfall for the plants to grow.  Warm summer weather with just enough rain creates perfect conditions for ragweed to grow and produce pollen.  In the Midwest and Southwest, the pollen count is expected to be normal due to summer drought conditions.

To make matters worse, fall weather throughout the U.S. this year is expected to be warm and dry, setting up ideal conditions for the ragweed pollen to be abundant in the air. Scientists estimate that a single ragweed plant can release one billion grains of pollen over the course of a single season. Ragweed pollen can travel for hundreds of miles on the wind, so even if it doesn’t grow where you live, it can still reach you. Ragweed pollen has even been detected as far as 400 miles out to sea and up to two miles up in the atmosphere.

When pollen or other allergy triggers get into your nose your immune system mistakenly sees them as foreign invaders and releases antibodies- substances that normally go after bacteria, viruses, and other illness-causing organisms. Your antibodies attack the allergens by releasing chemicals called histamines into your blood. Histamines are what trigger your sneezing, runny nose, itchy or watery eyes, coughing, scratchy throat, and dark circles under the eyes. Airborne allergens can also trigger asthma.

Here are some tips to help you through the fall allergy season:

  1. Keep track of the pollen count in your area.
  2. Stay indoors with the doors and windows closed when pollen is at its peak- 10am to 3pm.
  3. Keep the windows in your car closed and use the AC even if the outside temperature has cooled.
  4. Wear a mask while mowing your lawn or raking leaves.
  5. If you exercise outdoors, do so in the early morning while the air is cool and still.
  6. Before you turn on your furnace for the first time of the season, have your heating ducts cleaned. Change the filters, using an anti-allergy filter.
  7. Use a humidifier in your bedroom. Keep your air at between 35 and 50 percent humidity.
  8. Try an OTC antihistamine to reduce sneezing and runny nose.
  9. Try an OTC decongestant to clear mucus out of your nasal passageways.
  10. Some OTC allergy medications contain both antihistamine and decongestant.
  11. Try antihistamine eye drops.
  12. Apply cool compresses to your eyes once a day.
  13. Read all medication labels. Look for non-drowsy medications for the daytime. Check to see how long they recommend you take the medication. Check for incompatibility with other medications.
  14. If OTC medications do not help, you may need to go to your doctor for testing and start a regimen of allergy shots.

Thanks, Jody! We’ll put this great info to good use.

All the Best!

Steve Victor