Tag Archives: winter

Do you suffer from SAD?

If you don’t know what SAD is, you may not have it. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is depression felt mainly in the darker winter months. How can it be treated? Sometimes anti-depressants may not seem like enough. Some doctors may prescribe light therapy. You can get a light box made to treat this disorder. There are many on the market and most insurance companies won’t cover this expense so you want to be sure to get the correct one.

The Mayo Clinic has some pointers of what to consider:

  • Is the light box made specifically to treat SAD?
  • How bright is it?
  • How much UV light does it release?
  • Does it use LEDs?
  • Does it emit blue light?
  • Can it cause eye damage?
  • Is it the style you need?
  • Can you put it in the right location?
  • Does your doctor recommend it?

~ 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

Summer Squash

Summer squash is a type of squash that is harvested when immature and the rind is still tender and edible. I asked Jody Victor®  to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor®: The name “summer squash” refers to its short storage life as opposed to the longer storage life of winter squash. Summer squashes include: cousa squash, patty pan/scallop squash, yellow crookneck squash, yellow summer squash, and zucchini. Summer squash can be harvested later in the season when the rind is tougher. You just have to prepare them more like a winter squash with longer cooking times.

To prepare summer squash, run it under water until the skin feels clean. Cut off and discard the ends. If the skin is tough or if the skin feels gritty after washing, peel it. Summer squash can be grated, sliced, or cut into desired pieces.

To steam summer squash, arrange the pieces in a strainer or rack over 1/2 inch of boiling water. Cover and steam just until barely tender. Drain well and toss with olive oil or your favorite sauce.

 To sauté summer squash, cook in butter or olive oil over medium-high heat until barely tender. Season with herbs of your choice, salt, and pepper. The healthiest way to sauté any vegetable is in 3 tablespoons of vegetable or chicken broth or even water. Heat liquid in a stainless steel skillet. Once bubbles begin to form add sliced squash, cover, and “healthy sauté” for 3 minutes (1 1/2 minutes on each side). Transfer to a bowl and toss with a Mediterranean dressing or any dressing of your choice.


3 medium summer squash

1 large onion, chopped

 3 tablespoons olive oil

 1/2 pound sausage

 3 cups fresh bread crumbs, divided in half

 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided in half

 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

 4 tablespoons melted butter 

 Cook squash with 4 tablespoons water in microwave on high for 7 minutes. Cool. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Remove from pan. Saute sausage until brown. Put onion/garlic back in pan and mix with 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and parsley. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out leaving 1/2 inch shell. Drain scooped-out squash for a few minutes then add to sausage mixture. Put squash mixture in squash shells. Make a topping with melted butter, 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake in greased pan, covered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 6.


2 pounds yellow summer squash and/or zucchini, sliced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges

1/2 onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped]

 Olive oil

5-6 slices jack or cheddar cheese

Basil, dry or chopped fresh

Salt and pepper

Saute squash, onion, garlic, and bell pepper in a large saucepan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the vegetables slightly. Sprinkle with basil and stir it in. Remove from heat and add slices of cheese. Cover. In a separate frying pan, sauté tomatoes on medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Juices from tomatoes should evaporate some. Add the tomatoes to the rest of the vegetables. Stir gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.


 2 summer squash

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of herbs of choice

 Salt and pepper to taste

 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut each squash lengthwise into quarters. Cut spears in half crosswise and in half again until you have 16 short spears. Toss squash in olive oil and garlic in a bowl. Place in shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast squash until the spears and garlic begin to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Check squash after 5 minutes and add time in 2 to 3 minute intervals to avoid burning. Serves 4.

Thanks, Jody!

All the Best!

Steve Victor

Seasonal Food- Beets

Beets are one of the many root vegetables that are available year-round, making them a great seasonal addition to your winter meals. The best time to buy them, however, is when they are in season June through October. I asked Jody Victor® to tell us more.

Jody Victor®: In-season beets are at their most tender. Look for unblemished bulbs with sturdy, un-wilted greens. Beets with round bottoms are sweeter than flat-bottomed ones.  Besides the usual red beets you can find golden beets and a pink-and-white striped variety. If possible, take your beets home with the greens intact. Beets are loaded with Vitamins A, B1, B6, and C and also with calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, sodium, and iron. Beet greens contain a high content of beta-carotene and a higher content of iron than spinach.  

Beets have been cultivated since the second millennium BC. Beets are believed to have been domesticated somewhere along the Mediterranean and later spread to Babylonia by the 8th century BC and as far as China just fifty years later. Aristotle and Theophrastus made mention of beets in their writings. Beets became commercially important in the 19th century when Germany developed the sugar beet. It was discovered that sucrose could be extracted from the sugar beet, providing an alternative to tropical sugar cane. Beets remain a widely commercial crop for producing table sugar.

The roots and the leaves of the beet have been used in folk medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments. Ancient Romans used beetroot for fevers and constipation. Hippocrates used beet leaves to bind wounds. Beetroot juice has been used to improve performance in athletes due to its high concentration of nitrites. The pigment molecule betanin found in beets protects against oxidative stress and has been used for this purpose in Europe for centuries. The many health benefits of simple beet juice recognized today include:

ACIDOSIS The alkalinity of beets is effective in combating acidosis.

ANEMIA Its high iron content regenerates and reactivates red blood cells and supplies fresh    oxygen. The copper in beets helps make the iron more available to your body.

ATHEROSCLEROSIS Beet juice is a powerful solvent for inorganic calcium deposits that cause arteries to harden.

BLOOD PRESSURE Normalizes blood pressure by lowering high blood pressure or elevating low blood pressure.

CANCER An amino acid in beetroot called betaine has significant anti-cancer properties. Especially helpful against colon and stomach cancer.

CONSTIPATION Its cellulose content eases bowel movement. Drinking beet juice regularly helps chronic constipation.

DANDRUFF Mix a little beet vinegar with a small cup of beet juice. Massage into scalp with fingertips. Leave on for one hour, then rinse.

DETOXIFICATION The choline from beet juice detoxifies not only the liver, but also your entire system of excessive alcohol consumption.

GASTRIC ULCER Mix honey with beet juice. Drink 2 to 3 times a week on an empty stomach to speed up the healing process.

GALL BLADDER and KIDNEY AILMENTS Coupled with carrot juice, beet juice has superb cleansing properties that are exceptional in treating these two organs.

GOUT The cleansing properties of beet juice helps greatly with gout.

LIVER or BILE The cleansing properties of beets help aid healing for liver and bile ailments such as jaundice, hepatitis, food poisoning, diarrhea, or vomiting. A squeeze of lime with beet juice heightens the aid.

VARICOSE VEINS Beet juice helps to maintain the elasticity of arteries. Regular consumption helps prevent varicose veins.

One note of caution: All parts of the beet contain oxalic acid. People who have a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should limit their consumption of beets.

Beetroot can be prepared by boiling, roasting or microwaving. It can be cooked, pickled, and eaten cold as a condiment. It can be peeled, shredded raw, and eaten as a salad. Beet juice is used to stabilize foods with low water content, such as frozen novelties and fruit fillings. Betanins from beetroot are used as food colorants to intensify the color of tomato paste, sauces, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets, and breakfast cereals.

Roasting is the easiest way to prepare beets mainly because the skins will slip right off. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut greens away, leaving about 1/4 inch of stems. Scrub the beets and place in a baking dish or a lidded ovenproof casserole dish. Add 1/4 inch of water. Cover tightly with foil or lid. Place in oven. Roast small beets (3 oz or less) for 30 to 40 minutes; medium beets (4-6 oz) for 40 to 45 minutes; large beets (8+ oz) for 50 to 60 minutes. When done, they are easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and cool in baking dish. Cut away ends and slip off the skins. Roasted beets will keep for 5 days in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. It is best not to peel them until you are ready to use them. If boiling the beets, cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Also if boiling, add a little lemon juice or vinegar to the water to keep the beets from bleeding.  If microwaving, cook the beats with a little water for 8 to 15 minutes. If you’re mixing the beets with other vegetables (EX: in a salad), cook and dress the beets separately and add them last. Their strong coloring will seep into everything otherwise.


ROASTED BEETS WITH FETA                                                                                                              

Peel 4 medium beets and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Roast at 450 degrees, stirring once or twice, until tender (about 35 minutes). Transfer to bowl and toss with 4 chopped scallions and 2 teaspoons wine vinegar. Top with crumbled feta.



20-30 baby carrots

10-12 baby turnips, peeled

8-10 new red potatoes, cut to baby carrot-sized pieces

1-2 large parsnips, peeled and cut diagonally in 1-inch thick slices

1-2 medium onions, halved then quartered

1-2 large beets, peeled cut into thick wedges

1 whole head garlic, separated into cloves

2-3 fresh sprigs of rosemary, sage, or thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil                   

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put all the root vegetables and herb sprigs into a large baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle generously with olive oil and toss to coat evenly. Put vegetables in preheated oven and cook until they are tender and golden brown. Stir vegetables occasionally. Serve from baking dish or transfer to a platter to accompany a roast.

All the Best!

Steve Victor




Winter Vegetables

It doesn’t matter if you live in a state that has warm or cold winters you can still find local winter foods. I askede Jody Victor® to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor®: In areas with cold winters you can find foods that are known as brassica crops along with the squashes and leafy greens that are available. Brassica crops include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Leafy winter greens include kale, collards, and argula. Hearty herbs such as thyme, cilantro, rosemary, sage and parsley are available in the winter as well.



1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts (trim ends and remove yellow leaves)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sprouts, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Shake to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet and place on center rack of oven. Roast in preheated oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Shake pan every 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat if necessary to prevent burning. Brussels sprouts should be dark brown, almost black, when done. Serve immediately.


6 cipolline onions (wild onion from Italy, now grown in US) or one bunch of green onions, cut in 2-inch pieces or large scallions, quartered
4 baby turnips or 2 large turnips, cut in eighths
1 small celery root, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 pound baby carrots
3 new potatoes, halved
2 parsnips, peeled and quartered
8 Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 sprigs each of thyme, rosemary, and parsley
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups vegetable stock
1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes
1 bay leaf
2 cups coarsely chopped Swiss chard
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepared Polenta

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place vegetables and olive oil in re-sealable plastic bag. Shake to coat. Pour into heavy roasting pan and place on middle rack of oven. Roast 20 to 30 minutes. Turn vegetables every 10 minutes. Vegetables should be nicely browned. While roasting, tie herbs together with kitchen string. Transfer roasting pan to top of stove. Add wine, stock, tomatoes and herbs. Cook over high heat for 15 minutes. Remove herb bundle. Stir in Swiss chard and cook two more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon over polenta to serve.


1 8-ounce package farfalle (bow tie) pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 cup roughly chopped kale
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and place in large bowl. Cover. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Stir in peppers, kale, and garlic. Season with basil, cayenne, salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are tender. Toss cooked pasta with skillet mixture in the large bowl. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound chorizo sausage, chopped
1/3 pound cooked ham, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (1 pound) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 small hot green chile pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups water
2 16-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 mango, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Cook chorizo and ham for 2 to 3 minutes. Place onion in pot and cook until tender. Stir in garlic and cook until tender. Mix in sweet potatoes, bell pepper, tomatoes with juice, chile pepper, and water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir black beans into pot and cook uncovered until heated through. Mix in mango and cilantro. Season with salt and serve.

All the Best!

Steve Victor