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Week of January 29, 2007

Easy Crockpot Beans

Not sure why, but whenever the temperature drops, I always bring out my crockpot/slowcooker. This easy recipe is so simple, but definitely big on taste.

Crockpot Black Bean Soup
Serves: 10

2 - 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 - 14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 - 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, or diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 - 14.5 ounce can chicken broth
1 - 11 ounce can Mexicorn, drained
2 - 4 ounce cans chopped green chilies
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on high for 4 - 5 hours. Serve with baked corn tortilla chips, low fat or fat-free sour cream and shreddedlow fat cheddar cheese as garnishes.

Week of January 21, 2007

Trans Fat & Belly Fat

Want a big fat belly? Eat lots of trans fats.

Trans fats make you fatter than other foods with the same number of calories -- but that's not all. Researchers at Wake Forest University find that trans fats increase the amount of fat around the belly. They do this not just by adding new fat, but also by moving fat from other areas to the belly.

"Trans fat is worse than anticipated," Wake Forest researcher Lawrence L. Rudel, PhD, says in a news release. "Diets rich in trans fat cause a redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen and lead to a higher body weight even when the total dietary calories are controlled."

Rudel colleague Kylie Kavanagh, DVM, reported the findings at this week's annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association in Washington.

In the study, researchers fed 51 male vervet monkeys a western-style diet -- that is, 35% of their diet was fat. Half the monkeys got a lot of trans fat, totaling 8% of their diet. The other monkeys were fed unsaturated fats such as olive oil.

Both types of diets were calorie-controlled. In theory, the monkeys should not have gained weight.

But they did.

Over six years -- what would, in humans, be a 20-year span -- the monkeys who ate unsaturated fats upped their body weight by 1.8%.

Those fed trans fats packed on 7.2%. In humans, that would be enough weight gain to significantly increase risk of diabetes and heart diseaseheart disease.

"Trans fatty acid consumption increases weight gain," Kavanagh says in a news release. "In the world of diabetes, everybody knows that just 5% weight lossweight loss makes enormous difference. This little difference [of weight gain seen in the study] was biologically quite significant."

Trans fats are found in vegetable shortenings, some kinds of margarine, and in manufactured baked goods such as cookies, crackers, and snack foods. A major source of trans fat in American diets is fast food fried in the stuff.

By Daniel DeNoon
WebMD Medical Labels

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
on Monday, June 12, 2007

Week of January 14, 2007

Lowering the Fat in Poultry

You can easily lower the fat level in chicken or turkey. The most important thing you can do to get less saturated fat from poultry is to remove the skin, since most of the fat is found here rather than marbled through the meat like beef.

Removing the skin from the poultry reduces the calories by at least 20 percent and the fat by 40 - 50 percent. Wow, that is a lot of fat and calories.

Choose white meat over dark meat to get the greatest benefit. Compared with white meat, dark meat is approximately 25 percent higher in calories and over twice as high in fat.

Turkey offers some advantages over chicken. It is around 20 percent lower in calories and 75 percent lower in fat. Three-and-half ounces of turkey breast contain only one gram of fat. Ground turkey patties are a healthy alternative to beef burgers. (Some ground turkey contains a lot of dark meat and a great deal of fat. Read the label to be sure. Mix half ground turkey and half ground turkey breast or have the butcher grind your choice of cut for you.

Turkey Marsala
Serves 4

4 fresh boneless turkey breast cutlets
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Heat large skillet over high heat until hot; add 1 tablespoon olive oil and turkey. Cook 1 to 2 minutes each side; remove from skillet and keep warm. Add remaining oil, mushrooms and onions to skillet; cook and stir 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add wine and simmer uncovered 2 minutes. Return cutlets to skillet, coat with sauce; sprinkle with parsley.

Per Serving: 185 Calories; 8g Fat (43.1% calories from fat); 1g Saturated Fat; 19g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 45mg Cholesterol; 165mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat.

Week of January 07, 2007

Olive oil is a fruity, peppery oil made from crushed olives. Olive oil comes with many names like Virgin, Extra Virgin, Pure, Lite and what they discribe are how the oil is processed.

The several oils extracted from the olive fruit can be classified as:

  • Virgin means the oil was produced by the use of physical means and no chemical treatment. The term virgin oil referring to production is different from Virgin Oil on a retail label (see next section).
  • Refined means that the oil has been chemically treated to neutralize strong tastes (characterized as defects) and neutralize the acid content (free fatty acids). Refined oil is commonly regarded as lower quality than virgin oil; the retail labels extra-virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil cannot contain any refined oil.
  • Pomace olive oil means oil extracted from the pomace using chemical solvents—mostly hexane—and by heat.

Since the International Olive Oil Council's (IOOC) standards are complex, the labels in stores (except in the U.S.) clearly show an oil's grade:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. There can be no refined oil in extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Virgin olive oil has an acidity less than 2%, and judged to have a good taste. There can be no refined oil in virgin olive oil.
  • Olive oil is a blend of virgin oil and refined virgin oil, containing at most 1% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.
  • Olive-pomace oil is a blend of refined pomace olive oil and possibly some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but it may not be called olive oil. Olive-pomace oil is rarely found in a grocery store; it is often used for certain kinds of cooking in restaurants.
  • Lampante oil is olive oil not used for consumption; lampante comes from olive oil's ancient use as fuel in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market.

Labeling Terms:

  • Imported from Italy" produces an impression that the olives were grown in Italy, although in fact it only means that the oil was bottled there. A corner of the same label may note that the oil was packed in Italy with olives grown in Spain, Greece, Turkey, and Tunisia instead of Italy.
  • "100% Pure Olive Oil" is often the lowest quality available in a retail store: better grades would have "virgin" on the label.
    "Made from refined olive oils" suggests that the essence was captured, but in fact means that the taste and acidity were chemically produced.
  • "Light olive oil" refers to a lighter color, not a lower fat content. All olive oil—which is, after all, fat—has 120 calories per tablespoon (33 kJ/mL).
  • "From hand-picked olives" may indicate that the oil is of better quality, since producers harvesting olives by mechanical methods are inclined to leave olives to over-ripen in order to increase yield.
  • "First cold press" means that the oil in bottles with this label is the first oil that came from the first press of the olives. The word "cold" is important because if heat is used, the olive oil's chemistry is changed.
  • "D.O.P." when applied to Italian olive oil, denotes that the oil is made from olives that are typical of the region from which the oil derives, therefore may have a more characteristic taste than blended oils.

Buy only what you will use within a 2 month time frame. As you use oil from the container, it fills with oxygen and the oil will start to oxidize and deteriorate, and begin to tastes stale.

Try to choose oils that are packaged in dark glass or store in a dark place. Light is also a source of flavor-sapping oxidation.

Buy extra virgin if you want to emphasize the oil's flavor, as in dressings or marinades; use pure for sautéing or stir-frying.

Store opened bottles in a dark, cool place, such as the back of a pantry or your fridge - though oil stored there may cloud, it will clear at room temperature.

For more information got the the web site of the California Olive Oil Council or International Olive Oil Council


Complex flavor in fine Balsamic Vinegar comes from this long and exacting aging. A variety of woods are used including durmast, chestnut, ash, cherry and mulberry. Balsamic vinegar makers keep a secret art in the matching and blending of resinous aromatic wood staves. One taste of a truly fine Balsamic will make clear why it is worth all the effort. Balsamic Vinegar is truly in a class apart from other vinegars. Unlike the sharp tastes we usually associate with vinegar, the balsamics present a rich dark complex of sweetness and intrigue.

After having said all of this, let us return to the supermarket shelf where a full two-thirds of the brands are "imitation" balsamic vinegars that have nothing in common with the traditional balsamic vinegar. These are basically wine vinegar with added sugar and artificial flavors and colors.

Again, your best guides will be your own taste and budget. But generally speaking, a fine "tradizionale", to use sparingly, is wonderful to have on hand for special presentations, while a good quality "condimento" is excellent for every day use.

Week of January 01, 2010

Creeping Weight Gain

As January approaches, most of us once again think of New Year's resolutions if you have gained weight in the last year. As most of us grow older and our metabolic rates drop, the pounds tend to creep up on us. Before you know it, you have to buy new clothes to fit your expanding measurements.
You wonder how you could have gained another five pounds this year. You think to yourself that "I don't eat that much that is bad for me". OK, all right, you do grab a pat of butter here, a little extra mayonnaise there, a little half-and-half in your coffee . . . what can it hurt? It is such a very small amount!
Yes it may be tiny, but consistent indiscretions do finally add up. If you drink two and one half tablespoons of half-and-half distributed among your 2 or 3 cups of coffee each day, you add 50 fat laden calories a day. That does not sound like much until you realize that those 50 extra calories have blossomed into 5 extra pounds at the end of one year.

Do the math: 50 calories x 375 days in a year = 18,750 calories.

3500 excess calories are necessary to gain one pound.

18,750 divided by 3500 = 5.2 pounds.

Take a look at those consistent things that you are ingesting each and every day that adds unwanted fat and calories to your diet. Replace the half-and-half with fat free half-and-half or use 1% milk. Instead of the pat of butter on your toast, try using spreadable fruit or sugar free jam or marmalade only. Replace the mayonnaise with low fat mayonnaise or use mustard or honey mustard.
After you take a close but really honest look at what you consistently eat every day, you probably won't have to wonder where those extra fifteen pounds you have gained over the last few years have come from.


Before you begin any exercise or diet program, you should have permission from your doctor.
Contents in this web site are in no way intended as a substitute for medical counsel .

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