The new rage of kids from Thailand, Indonesia and China is having braces put on their teeth even if it is unnecessary. It has become a sign of prosperity to be able to afford having this form of dental work done. Most of the braces are superficial and are usually administered in beauty salons and can prove to be as complicated a process as putting in real braces. Because the trend has now been banned in Thailand a black market for these phonies has popped up.
Mold on certain foods can be safe to cut away and use the un-moldy portion. For example, hard cheeses are much safer than soft cheeses if mold appears. Soft cheeses make it easier for the mold to penetrate the food whereas in hard cheeses the mold is usually visible and can be cut away. With firm fruits and vegetables simply cut off about 1 inch below the moldy area and the rest of it is safe to eat. Foods such as jams or jellies as well as soft fruits, breads and yogurt should be discarded. When mold is allowed to penetrate it can in some cases become toxic.
Most Americans seem to be deficient in Vitamin D. The cure seems to be easy enough. It is a matter of taking in the suns’ rays for at least 20 minutes a day. Here in the northeast it becomes a little difficult for at least six months out of the year. Rich sources of Vitamin D are egg yolks, salmon and liver. Mushrooms are not often mentioned as a high source of this vitamin. In fact it is one of the few vegetarian sources of Vitamin D. It seems a little strange that a fungus that grows in the dark should be a rich source of the so needed vitamin. Interestingly enough, if you were to let mushrooms lie in the sun for a couple of hours before you use them the potency of Vitamin D will greatly increase. Actually, just 5 minutes in the sun increases their potency to more then the recommended daily requirement of vitamin D.
Olive Oil is still one of the healthiest fats available. Even more so if eaten in its natural state instead of heated. However, the new trend in restaurants is to line up a tasting menu of different olive oils with a basket of bread as you await your order. We are all aware of how easily we can empty a basket of warm bread. Add to this dipping each piece into a bath of olive oil and you may be setting yourself up for unnecessary additional calories, 120 calories a tablespoon to be more precise. Should we avoid this taste bud sensation? Maybe it is better to have both the bread and the oil brought to the table while the meal is being served. Chances are you will consume less then when you are sitting at a table on an empty stomach.
Adding sweeteners is a major concern for people trying to limit sugar consumption and especially for those with medical concerns such as diabetes. Stevia is one option. It is made from a leaf related to popular garden flowers like asters and chrysanthemums and has no effect in raising blood sugar levels. There is however a new option. Since many claim that stevia has a bitter after-taste a new product called “Eversweet” promises to deliver a more pleasant after-taste. “Eversweet” is produced by the fermentation of yeast. When simple sugars are added to Baker’s yeast, the yeast will digest them and in turn will convert them into a calorie free sweetener.
Formally thought of as an aid to the digestive tract, prunes/dried plums have now taken on a more important role in health. Dairy always comes to mind when we think about filling our calcium needs and building strong bones. However, this dried fruit is extremely rich in both boron and selenium, two very important minerals for bone density. The fiber in prunes/dried plums can be of benefit to cholesterol levels and can help diabetics by slowing the digestion of carbohydrates. A great way to enjoy them is by soaking them in orange juice overnight until they return to looking more like plums (My 100 year old Mom’s credo).
The Incas faced problems with having to take long journeys and having a food productthat would travel well and sustain them for a long time. Chuno is an Inca discovery which is still a part of the culture of the population that inhabit the area surrounding the Andes. It is essentially freeze-dried potatoes that can be stored for years. The process is simple. Potatoes are sun-dried and then frozen at night and then stomped on to remove the water and skin. Inhabitants of both Peru and Bolivia lean on Chuno, which can last for decades. When there is a long lasting drought and there is little in the way of vegetables and meat to survive this is what they lean on. Many who have tried it say it is bad-tasting and foul smelling. However, it is abundant in carbohydrates while being high in iron and calcium making it a necessity for energy, strength and strong bones when little else is available.
Logan fruit is the actual name of this fruit. It is also referred to as euphoria fruit in China where it has been part of traditional Chinese tonics for anti-aging and sexual health. It is native to Southeast Asia and is not grown in the Americas. After the thick skin is peeled, it resembles a peeled grape and has a flavor similar to a lychee. The interior has a shiny dark lacquered brown pit which is where it gets its name “Dragon Eye”. The fruit is more easily found in Asian markets. Dragon eyes are rich in Iron, Magnesium, phosphorus, potassium as well as a rich source of Vitamin A and C. It has been used for centuries as a cure for reducing fevers and the leaves are rich in quercetin which is used to treat allergies.
Cereal has been a big part of the American breakfast diet dating as far back as the late 19th century. It was first introduced as a hard flat graham based flake by a religious vegetarian James Jackson. C.W. Post took off with the idea and created the first popular successful brand ”Grape Nuts”.The transition from what was a healthy digestive aid to what we presently know as breakfast cereal began about 1900 when the Kellogg brothers came up with a lighter flake made of corn and began adding small amounts of sugar. From 1910 to about 1950 somewhat healthier versions of cereal dominated the market with favorites like Puffed Rice, Wheaties and Shredded Wheat as the go-to breakfast cereal. It wasn’t until after World War II that sugar began to be the main selling point. Cereals such as Frosted Flakes(1950), Cap’n Crunch (1960), Count Chocula (1970), Smurf Berry Crunch (1980) and Puffins (1990) soon took over the category as the desire for more and more sugar-sweetened cereals persisted. In the year 2000, parents began questioning what exactly they were giving their children and a push for more transparency in labeling and wholesome ingredients started a revolution in the cereal industry. This in addition to the fact that sales were declining because the younger generation had turned more toward smoothies and yogurt as alternative breakfast foods. They considered these sugar-laden cereals to be more of a dessert and comfort food then a nutritious meal. As a result of consumer demands, Cheerios began using non-GMO wheat. Other food companies have turned to producing healthier grain cereals with less sugar, preservatives and food coloring. All of these changes are being introduced by the large food producers in an attempt to win back their share of what was once an extremely lucrative market. Change has been slow and long overdue. As consumers we do have the power to influence in a positive way what we choose to consume.
Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis found that assigning a date and time to a leisure activity actually made the experience seem more like a chore. The 13 studies that were conducted showed that being too specific about what to do and at what time decreased both anticipation and enjoyment. That is not to say that planning does not have its benefits but occasionally meeting a friend and leaving the meeting open to possibilities may turn out to be a great experience. Spontaneity is processed by the brain as more of an adventure with an increased level of excitement.