Saturday, March 3, 2012

Movie Review

I usually only write about health topics, but thought I would take a break on that for this post.  It seems like tons of people have common colds, bronchitis, sore throats, congestion, etc. right now.  I've heard of a lot of people taking sick days from work and staying at home for the day.  If this is you, I'm recommending a movie for you to watch!  I usually don't have lots of time to watch movies and it's rare that I come across a movie that I really like.  A friend recommended "The Help" to be and I'm really glad I watched it.  It takes place down South during the 1960's.  The plot of the story is a young college graduate interviews black maids and records their stories in a book that she wants to have published.  Overall, it was a really fantastic film and fit for teenagers and on up to adults to watch.  I have not seen a movie that was made this well in a very long time.  The sets were realistic and the acting was fantastic.  It also helped teach me about a time period I knew little about.  If you're looking for a good movie to watch on a rainy afternoon, I definitely recommend this one.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Healthy Coleslaw

As spring is just around the corner, I have been making lots of my favorite healthy coleslaw lately.  The taste is amazing and the fat content is low compared to other coleslaws.  It keeps well for days in the fridge and can be made a few days in advance.  Overall, it's good to have food prepared in advance, especially when we are busy.  It makes it easier to get extra vegetables in our diets!  See the youtube video with recipe at the link below.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My Favorite Cookbooks

I have probably looked through or used hundreds of cookbooks at this point in my cooking career.  It’s so hard to find a good cookbook with recipes that you actually will use often.  Below, I’ve listed some of my favorite cookbooks, the staples in my kitchen.  Hopefully this will be helpful to those who are trying to learn how to cook better.  With the holiday season coming up, they also make great gifts.

One of my favorite cookbooks is called Wildly Affordable Organic by Linda Watson.  I use recipes from this book weekly.  It’s also printed in paperback, which means it’s very affordable.  Part of the book is the author describing her journey learning how she and her husband could eat organic on $5 dollars per day.   It shows how to make eating organic affordable.  I learned a ton about how to prepare vegetables in a way that reduces the pesticides, how to shop and cook in season, etc.  This book really helped change the way I prepare food.  The rest of the book is filled with recipes she collected or developed that are wholesome and balanced.  All the recipes are made from scratch.  Her recipes in general are very “clean” cooking and I’ve loved everything I’ve made from her book.  The recipes are very practical.  She had foods in there I would have never thought of cooking like hamburger buns made from scratch and chocolate pudding.  I love the lentil soup recipe and have made her version of chocolate pudding Many times.  I use one of the pinto bean recipes almost weekly.  There are tons of other recipes in this book like blueberry pancakes, yogurt, black bean burgers, pesto, pizza dough, lasagna, bread, strawberry shortcake, and many yummy healthy desserts.  This book didn’t have any meat recipes, but is still an amazing book to have on your shelf.  It definitely shows people how to eat less red meat by providing recipes that taste Really good.  I think this book is a very helpful reference for anyone who is in favor of organic cooking. 

The second book that is a kitchen staple is Skinny Italian by Teresa Giudice with Heather Maclean.  Giudice is one of the women on a popular Bravo TV show that people love to hate.  She is very annoying on the show, but this woman knows how to cook.  Her cookbook is Amazing.  I also use recipes from this cookbook each week.  When I used to think of Italian, I would think of greasy breadsticks, creamy fettuccini, and fattening lasagna.  This cookbook really changed that.  Skinny Italian is filled with family friendly Italian recipes.  It shows how to make healthy Italian recipes with more of an emphasis on vegetables than regular Italian food.  All Giudice’s recipes are easy to follow and most of them are made from scratch.  They don’t take long to prepare and are perfect for making meals for a family or dinner party.  I love her one-pan oven-roasted chicken feast, pizza dough, marinara sauce, steak pizzaiola, and her farfalle con piselli.  I was really happy to see Giudice recently came out with a second cookbook called Fabulicious!: Teresa’s Italian Family Cookbook.  This book has even more family-friendly recipes like chicken parmigiana, pasta dough, meatballs, cheesy cavatelli, ravioli, salads, cannoli cupcakes, and tiramisu.  If you want to cook delicious and satisfying food for your family, these are the cookbooks to have.  I don’t think one of her cookbooks is better than the other.  Both books have amazing recipes and are both worth having. 

Another good cookbook was Cooking with My Indian Mother-in-Law by Simon Daley and Roshan Hirani.  I use recipes from this cookbook maybe once every few weeks.  It is filled with Indian recipes for someone with an intermediate cooking skill level.  I have looked through tons of Indian cookbooks and tried recipes from others, but this is the only one I really liked.  The authors really break down how to make Indian food.  When I first got this book, I had to search around to different stores to find some of the Indian spices used in this book.  There was also a learning curve to preparing some of these recipes.  Once you get the spices and master the learning curve, you can make some pretty amazing curries.  My favorites were a chickpea curry, cauliflower, potatoe, and pea curry, and also basic dal.  The recipes in this book are really healthy.  If you’re interested in branching out and attempting to cook some Indian food, this is the cookbook to get.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

What to Do When You Get Sick

As I write this, I'm getting over a common cold.  This is the first time I've been sick in 2 years and it's definitely not fun.  What causes a common cold?  The answer is a virus that you pick up from another person, usually during flu season.  I'm pretty sure I picked my cold up from working at a health clinic and assisting sick patients all day.

If you have a fever, you need to go to the doctor.  The fever shows that your body is fighting some type of bacteria like strep that you will need antibiotics to totally kick.  If you have congestion, runny nose, cough, sneezing, and no fever, you probably have a common cold and would do better just staying home for a few days and watching television programs.

The best way to treat a common cold is rest and lots of fluids. Take a few days off from exercising and treat your body good with lots of rest.  Above all, avoid other sick people because your immune system is already knocked down and you don't want to get another cold.   A lot of people believe taking large amounts of Vitamin C help fight a cold.  This is Not true.  All the scientific studies to date show that taking a lot of Vitamin C has no effect upon speeding up recovery from being sick.  I've done vast reading on this subject and the medical community has not found any benefit from taking vitamin C during a cold.

What they have found to be beneficial is taking a large amount of Vitamin D.  It has been proven in studies that if you take a large amount of Vitamin D (2000-7000 iu) per day right for a few days when you begin to sick,  you recover faster.  Overall, you are sick for less days and the cold symptoms are milder.  2000 -7000 iu per day of Vitamin D seems like a lot, but it's really not.  It depends on how up to date your doctor's schooling is.  Due to new research, physicians are starting to put people on 2000-5000 iu per day every day.  If someone has a Vitamin D deficiency, they can safely take up to 15000 iu per day.  If you're starting to get sick and you don't normally take Vitamin D, leave the Vitamin C in the cabinet and take Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is what really works.  Above all, use common sense, take care of your body, and have a hopefully sickness free season.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Causes Male Pattern Baldness And How To Slow It

 Every wonder what causes guys to lose their hair?  It starts to recede by the temples or in the back and from there it’s just downhill.  It’s mostly genetic.  And it’s also a sex linked genetic pattern.  That means if you want to tell if a guy is going to go bald early in life, you need to look at his mother’s father and see what his hair was like.  Did he lose it early?  If the answer is yes, the guy in question probably will too.  What actually causes male pattern baldness is excess testosterone gets converted to a molecule called DHT.  DHT is what starts the cascade and makes individual hair follicles start to fall out. 

It’s starting to be a fad in the US that males are getting tested to check their testosterone levels.  If it’s low, physicians who jump on the health trends band wagon are putting them on extra testosterone.  Testosterone comes in a shot form, cream, and it recently just came out in a under the arm deodorant like application tube.  To be on extra testosterone, it has to be by prescription.  A side effect of giving men extra testosterone is that there is more of it for the body to convert to DHT.  And remember how DHT causes a male’s hair to fall out?  A side effect for some men of putting extra testosterone in their body is an increase in hair loss.  A lot of them don’t make the connection between the testosterone and their increasingly thinning hair, but you need to be cautious of side effects if you go on prescription medication. 

Luckily, there is a way to slow male patterned balding.  There are a lot of quackery remedies out there, so be extra careful when you shop.  If you can stop testosterone from being converted to DHT, you can prevent a male’s hair from falling out.  There are only a few ways to do this.  Rogaine is basically a medicated shampoo that helps slow testosterone from being converted to DHT.  It has a chemical called Minoxidil in it that prevents hair from being lost and stimulates hair growth.  There are several prescription medications that do the same thing.

With both the Rogaine and the prescription medication,  it’s best to start to use it when hair is just starting to thin out.  Once the hair is lost, it’s very difficult to grow any of it back because the hair follicles are no longer active.  If you wait too long, it will be impossible to grow back.  Rogaine is expensive and the prescription medication can be too if you don’t have good health insurance.   For most guys, it’s definitely worth the investment.  But in reality, this is the only way to go if you really want to starve off male patterned baldness.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cloth Diapers Protect a Baby Boy's Reproductive Future

Cloth diapers rock for many reasons.  I was lucky enough to be a cloth diaper baby.  A few years ago, almost all the mom’s I knew used plastic disposable diapers.  Now, cloth diapers are becoming more and more common.  Cloth diapers save families money, cut back on diaper rash for sensitive skin, and reduce the excess waste produced from plastic diapers piling up in landfills.  Some parents claim that cloth diapers enable their babies to be potty trainer faster.  Cloth diapers also spare exposure to some of the harsh chemicals that are in plastic diapers.  The most important reason to use cloth diapers is it helps preserve a baby boy’s reproductive potential.

As adults, men who had cloth diapers as babies have higher sperm counts than men who were diapered in plastic disposable diapers.  When a boy baby is diapered in a plastic disposable diaper, it insulates the scrotum area pretty well.  It can get very hot inside his diaper.  The testicles were made to be in the scrotum outside the body because they need to be kept 2-3 degrees cooler than body temperature.  When the testicles of a baby are insulated in a diaper and start to heat up for long periods of time, it begins to damage the sperm making “machinery” inside the scrotum.  Once the tubules that produce the sperm are damaged, they can’t be repaired.  The more the area heats up to a higher temp, the more sperm making machinery is destroyed.  When this baby boy grows up and becomes a man, his sperm count is lower than it could have been if he hadn’t had some of the tubules that made his sperm destroyed by heat early on in life.  Overall, if parents want to give their son the best reproductive future possible, cloth diapers are the way to go.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What To Give Trick Or Treaters For a Healthy Halloween

October may be the month that kids consume the most sugar.  For a youngster, the high point of Halloween is dressing up in a costume, collecting candy, and consuming it until they put themselves in a sugar coma. I Loved to trick or treat when I was little.  I looked forward to Halloween night all year.  My thrill came from running to house to house and collecting what they were handing out.  When I was a youngster, the houses that handed out something different than candy are the houses I like the best.

With the obesity crisis facing the United States, do kids these days really need more candy?  I don’t think we should load them up with candy when a lot of kids already don’t eat enough good fruits and vegetables.  Most parents appreciate their children getting stickers or a glow bracelet instead of one more chocolate bar or sucker they have to confiscate and ration out to the child later (or consume themselves).

Instead of handing out candy, try something new this year.  You could hand out quarters, a small sheet of stickers, or glow sticks.  If you handed out glow sticks, the kids would think your house was the coolest house on the block.  It’s such a new and novel idea, chances are, your neighbors won’t have thought of it yet. 

Glow sticks are totally safe and a lot of fun.  They glow in the dark and once on the child’s wrist, around their neck, or attached to their costume, it helps keep track of them in the dark as they run.  To get them ready, you take them out of the package and slightly bend them until you hear a slight cracking sound, then they start to glow.  You can put them in a basket and let the Trick or Treaters pick what color they want.  The glowing will usually last the night.  My favorite as a child was the glow stick necklaces.  If you have over 50 trick or treaters, you may want to consider the glow stick bracelets.  If you buy glow sticks, you will want to open the box and start getting them ready maybe 25 minutes before the Trick or Treating starts.   This year, they have tri-color mixed glow necklaces, which are the coolest yet.  What’s best of all is handing out glow bracelets or glow necklaces can sometimes cost less than handing out candy!

The key to handing out something other than candy is getting it ready ahead of time.  15 minutes of planning a few weeks before Halloween is all it takes.  I admit I’ve waited until Halloween evening to get a pumpkin carved, but as life has gotten hectic, I know planning brings success.  Take some time this week and get a plan for what you’re going to hand out to Trick or Treaters.  You’ll save yourself the last minute rush to the store to purchase candy and instead be the one house on the block that parents appreciate.

I added a link to the glow stick bracelets and necklaces below.  Each bracelet is a different color and the necklaces are tri-color.  Depending on where you live, they can be really hard to find in stores.  Because the links are to Amazon, it’s the lowest price I’ve seen.  Whatever you end up doing this Halloween, get ready early and have fun!