Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Dermatology Blog Says that Olive Oil Good for Skin and Flax Seed Oil Even Better!

Since I began my little olive oil as face wash and moisturizer experiment I've gotten everything from "why"? to "great idea"!, but I haven't had any one with a dermatology background agree that it's a good idea or even green light it as being not harmful. Today, however, I found just the article posted on The Dermatology Blog, written by Dr. Benabio. He says that olive oil is beneficial to your skin, and recommends flax seed oil as an alternative. So, without further ado, here's the professional advice I offer as evidence to support my sanity:

Flax Seed Oil and Your Skin

Flax oil or flaxseed oil is derived from the pretty, blue-flowering flax plant. The oil, obtained from processing the seeds, is high in omega 3 fatty acids, especially alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for normal skin and body function, but they are not produced naturally by your body.

The only way to get omega 3 fatty acids is from your diet. You can add flax oil as a dressing in salads, as a substitute for other oils (except in cooking, since flaxseed oil breaks down quickly when heated), or even take a tablespoon in a healthy smoothie. Flax seed flour, which is also high in omega 3s, can be added to muffin or pancake mixes or even sprinkled on cereal. You can also buy flax seed supplements.

Foods high in omega 3s help your skin protect itself by increasing natural oils that your skin secretes on the surface. These fats and oils are critical for keeping your skin soft, protecting it from irritants and preventing it from drying out.

But will it make me look younger?

Ah, the question most people want answered: maybe. According to a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who consumed the most linoleic acid had the youngest-looking skin among 40-74 year-olds.

Like vitamin C and olive oil, flax oil has benefits not only from eating it, but also from applying it directly to your skin. When smoothed on your skin, flax oil can help lock in moisture and prevent water loss through the skin. Applying it can also improve your skin’s dry dull appearance and even improve the appearance of fine lines, both of which certainly make you appear younger.

As an added benefit, omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, which help minimize redness and skin irritation. There is evidence that omega-3s can improve chronic skin conditions such as eczema (atopic dermatitis), rosacea, acne, and psoriasis, but only preliminary studies have been done. Omega 3s have been shown to aid in wound healing as well. There is even some evidence that flax seed oil might protect against ultraviolet light (sun) damage and can help protect you against skin cancer.

What to look for when buying flax seed oil:

Because flax seed oil is easily oxidized, which diminishes its antioxidant capabilities, it is important that you find flax oil that is

  • in a dark container
  • protected from light
  • vacuum sealed when you buy it
  • stored in the refrigerator after opening it

What about cold pressed oil? This is controversial. There is no standard for labeling an oil “cold pressed.” Heat and/or high pressure is needed to extract the oil from the seeds. Oil that is labeled as cold pressed and sold in the refrigerator section is certain to be a lot more expensive but not necessarily more effective. As soon as the oil is exposed to air and light, it begins to break down, anyway. So save your money.

Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD.

The Dermatology Blog Tackles Exfoliation

I've recently began reading The Dermatology Blog because I have sensitive skin, my daughter has acne to the point that the doctor recommended prescription drugs and I'm looking for sensible, inexpensive, natural solutions that are good for our bodies and our environment. The Dermatology Blog has lots of great ideas. I had recently read about ladies making their own exfoliating facial scrubs at home using olive oil and sea salt. I think this is a fabulous idea and I'll begin incorporating it into my routine in a few weeks, but for now read this article to make sure that you aren't overdoing it:

Facial scrubs can be soothing and can give your face a soft, healthy glow. They can also make your face raw. Too many women are overusing their facial scrubs, giving them red, irritated cheeks. Are you over-scrubbing?

A patient came to me last week with a bright red, painful rash on her cheeks. She thought she was allergic to her new citrus facial scrub from Burt’s Bees; she was faithfully using it everyday.

She wasn’t allergic to her facial scrub. It was doing what it is designed to do: remove a layer of cells from her skin every time she used it. But at that point she was down to raw skin.

This is a classic case of too much of a good thing in facial skin care. Facial scrubs can be an easy, rather inexpensive way to exfoliate the dull scaly cells on your skin’s surface leaving you with softer, more vibrant skin. However, exfoliating has gotten a little out of hand recently.


Thanks to my wife’s subscriptions, I have noticed that several women’s magazines this month have articles touting the benefits of some apricot-and-citrus-lavender-dead-sea-salt-micronized-facial scrub. It’s too much.

Facial scrubs can exfoliate your skin chemically or physically. Chemical facial scrubs use salicylic, glycolic, citric, or lactic acid to chemically remove the dry dead scales on your skin’s surface.

Physical scrubs exfoliate physically by using ground apricot pits or almonds, sugars, salt, sand, or even tiny beads in microdermabrasions. These abrasives are often mixed in an oil base (such as olive oil if it’s homemade), and when you scrub the abrasive on your face, you physically remove the dull, scaly surface to reveal the healthy living cells beneath.

It is helpful to understand that although these dead cells can give you a dry, dull look, your skin puts those dead cells at the surface for a reason: to protect the delicate living cells below. A little exfoliating once in a while can be useful, making your skin softer and visibly brighter. But you must do this in moderation, that is once every two weeks (which is about how long it takes your skin to turn over).

Some people can tolerate scrubbing more frequently than this, but I suggest you start slowly and work your way to more frequent exfoliating if you so desire. You will notice at some point that using your scrub more frequently does not improve your complexion any further. That’s because there are no dead cells left on your skin’s surface. In this case, give your skin a break, and let it heal before you scrub it again.

Over scrubbing with physical or chemical facial scrubs will not clean your pores, reduce your skin’s oiliness, decrease your acne, or give you a permanent healthy glow. It will however make your skin red, irritated, and raw.

Remember, everything in moderation.

EVOO: Day 3

Well, I got up early, took a shower, washed my face did my make-up and then my truck slid from one end of my street to the next. My neighbors helped me shovel it out and clear the street enough that I could move it to a curb and I called it a day. I did nothing, I mean really nothing after that. I napped, I attempted to watch t.v. and then I napped some more. But...the good news to report is that even though I had on my full make-up my face didn't get oily. Incidentally, I've started hitting the t-zone with the Burt's Bees herbal blemish stick in combination with washing my face with olive oil each morning and before bed. Not only is my face doing well, dare I say it's improving?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

EVOO: Day 2

So not much new to report today. My skin is still looking better than it has in a while. My scars continue to heal and my pores are unclogged. My t-zone was actually less oily than usual today, but I also never put on any make-up because I worked from home. I'll continue to monitor over the next few weeks, albeit less frequently. So...unless you hear anything from me to contradict this statement, it works great, its cheap, its good for the environment and your body; so what are you waiting for?

High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury!?!

Egads, it's worse than I thought. A recent study has found that HFCS contains mercury, introduced during its manufacturing. Here's the article below that I read in the Washington Post:

Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

Monday, January 26, 2009; 12:00 AM

MONDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.

HFCS has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80 percent more HFCS than average.

"Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply," said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies.

In the first study, researchers found detectable levels of mercury in nine of 20 samples of commercial HFCS. The study was published in current issue of Environmental Health.

In the second study, the agriculture group found that nearly one in three of 55 brand-name foods contained mercury. The chemical was most common in HFCS-containing dairy products, dressings and condiments.

The use of mercury-contaminated caustic soda in the production of HFCS is common. The contamination occurs when mercury cells are used to produce caustic soda.

"The bad news is that nobody knows whether or not their soda or snack food contains HFCS made from ingredients like caustic soda contaminated with mercury. The good news is that mercury-free HFCS ingredients exist. Food companies just need a good push to only use those ingredients," Wallinga said.

More information

The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry has more about mercury and health.

SOURCE: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, news release, Jan. 26, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

EVOO: Day 1

Well, it's been 24 hours since I started cleaning my face with the EVOO. I also purchased the Burt's Bee's Herbal Blemish Stick in case things go wrong. On the mornings that I shower (every other day unless I get sweaty) I just use the olive oil soap, because it's more convenient. I actually really love the olive oil as a cleanser and a moisturizer. Not a clogged pore in sight, and the pores that looked like they were trying to break out, are flat and completely happy. The most amazing improvement is in the texture of my skin. It's soft, kind of dewey looking and completely comfortable. It doesn't feel greasy at all. In fact, my face was less oily today than usual. I did have to pat once, but that was it and my make-up didn't slide off the way it normally does. The red marks/scars from past breakouts are clearing up much faster than ususal, in fact some of the fresh ones are hardly even noticeable. My wrinkles are far less prominent and the black circles under my eyes, yep, you can hardly see them. I also read that lemon juice added to the olive oil help lighten discolorations and acts as a mild astringent too, but I figured I'd stick to one thing at a time for now. So, to end my report for the day, I couldn't be happier. Rubbing salad dressing on your face isn't so bad after all. I'll keep reporting as I continue along. Now, if I can just get my husband to stop trying to dip bread on my face....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Olive Oil Expriement

For most of my life I have had sensitive skin with dry itchy patches combined with oil slicks; not pleasant. I've spent lots, and lots, and lots of money on everything from grocery store products to some seriously high end stuff to even my tone, soften, dry, heal, clear, you get the picture. About 2 months ago I switched to Method's olive oil soap after they sent me a sample of their Olive Leaf body bar. It's great, my skin is soft, smooth clear, and not oily. I recall in some Roman/Greek history class that I took as an undergrad that in ancient times people actually washed with olive oil. They simply rubbed down their bodies and then scraped it off. I often wondered how they dealt with acne back then without today's lovely chemicals. I have noted in my life that the girls I've met with the best skin are rarely the same girls who use hundreds or even thousands of dollar worth of products on their bodies each year. In fact, my husband has irritatingly perfect skin and he barely even washes! So, I go a crazy idea, I mean really crazy. What if I used olive oil on my face? Would it stop my face from being so oily, or would it make it worse. So, I read around on the internet to see if anyone else had tried anything so crazy. What I was surprised to find is that lots of people have taken this leap of faith long before I had even thought of it. I'll post links to some of their stories below. So, I've decided that for the next two months (I recall my dermatologist saying that it takes 6-8 weeks for a pimple to form) that I'll try using the olive oil on my face. This could go really well, or it could end badly. But after my recent breakout which has left me reconsidering harsh chemical acne treatments again I figured what the hell, how much worse can it really get. Hey, it might even work out. So here we go, I'm diving in. I'm scared as hell, but I'll let you know how it goes. My method of attack:

Run olive oil into pores with a gentle massage. Use warm water on a washcloth to steam my face. Wipe off oil with the washcloth and toss a little cool water to close my pores.

Here are some links to stories of other girls taking the plunge:
Healthy Living


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Yummy Hair Care Product Review - Burt's Bees

My husband, daughter, and I all have very sensitive scalps combined with oily hair, and damaged ends with a lot of breakage. Recently my husband and I have both started to lose our hair in gobs. I've tried many, many different shampoo and conditions combinations with similar results. My scalp is permanently itchy and peeling in layers even when using my salon recommended products for dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis. This has only been an issue since we moved into Baltimore City where we have highly chlorinated water. I've finally found a product that doesn't irritate my scalp, has healed the itchy peeling and improved the texture of my hair. My hair is soft, bouncy, full of body and the drain in my tub reveals that I'm losing far less hair. What amazing product caused this change you ask? It was my $8.00 a bottle of shampoo and conditioner made by Burt's Bees! I've been using the More Moisture Raspberry & Brazil Nut Shampoo and the Color Keeper Green Tea & Fennel Seed Conditioner. It was an impulse buy at my Safeway about two weeks ago and I have never been happier with the condition of my hair and scalp. Best of all, they are an relatively local (East Coast) company with a great mission, vision, and values focused on social responsibility with concern for well-being and the environment. I had tried other organic/natural shampoos in the past, but were disappointed with their lack of lather and the fact that they often left my hair looking flat and dull. I just can't sing the praises of this combination of shampoo and conditioner enough because it lathers well, requires only one shampoo, and I look and feel like I've been using a high-dollar imported salon shampoo. So, even if you've tried natural/organic products in the past and been disappointed, make sure that you revisit them, you may not know what you are missing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Global Economic Crunch and My Dog - Pet Product Review - Halo

My concern with the slow down of the global economy centers around the fact that as profit margins shrink companies may seek ways to increase profits by using shoddy ingredients to fool regulators and end up harming consumers. China's recent melamine controversy that sickened and killed children through tainted milk and pets through tainted food immediately comes to mind. As a result, I am now buying only food products that come from food sources that I trust (U.S.A., Canada, etc). I realize that this can seem small-minded, but I just can't imagine taking any chances with my loved ones (yes, this includes my dog). Maybe these dangers exist with local producers as well, but it certainly seems less scary, and until someone proves me wrong that's my game plan. That being said, while at my local Petco this weekend I perused the natural, holistic, locally made dog food and found Halo Natural Pet Care products. I read the ingredients, perused the nutritional information and where the products were made. My dog, Max, has dry itchy skin and buying healthy food with fish oil in it seems easier than purchasing the supplements and putting them in his food separately. I chose the Wild Salmon Spot's Stew. It seems healthy, my dog loves it, and I'm supporting our economy; this is a small change that I can make and feel good about. He's been eating this new food for about a week now and seem quite contented. Hopefully I'm making the right choice for everyone.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Now's a good time to buy Made in America or DIY...

China warns of more health scares amid slowdown
Wed Jan 14, 2009 4:50pm EST

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese food and drug makers struggling in a declining economy could be tempted to cut corners and ignore quality standards, a senior Chinese official warned as the country awaits court verdicts in a tainted milk scandal. China has been rocked by a number of scandals in recent years involving unsafe food and drugs which have sometimes killed people and prompted global recalls of Chinese-made goods. At least six children last year died from drinking milk formula adulterated with melamine, an industrial compound used to cheat nutrition tests, and more than 290,000 fell ill with kidney stones. China has put on trial a number of company officials and farmers accused of producing and selling the toxic milk. Shao Mingli, a senior official from China's food and drug safety watchdog, said that the country was on "high alert" as the impact of the financial crisis began to hit home, Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying late on Tuesday. "Some enterprises might conduct production in violation of standards and regulations in an attempt to ease their financial burdens," Shao said. "On the other hand, conflicts and disputes arising from some companies' regrouping or merger and acquisition might impact production and quality management," the official added, calling for tighter supervision of all levels of the supply chain. The watchdog had dealt with 297,500 cases of "illegal drugs and medical equipment" with a value of about 600 million yuan ($88 million) last year, Xinhua said, in an indication of the seriousness of the problem. The report comes amid an investigation into a health scare involving a foreign brand of dog food, which local media have linked to the deaths of dozens of pets. The China Daily on Tuesday said that at least 30 dogs had died from liver complications after eating a brand of dog food which the state newspaper said was tainted with aflatoxin. The paper quoted vets who said a number of dogs had been diagnosed with liver damage after eating the pet food, and a local supplier that had stopped selling it.
But China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said it had neither approved the food for import, nor had border quarantine units ever allowed its import, Xinhua said, casting doubt over the product's origins. In 2007, pet food made with Chinese ingredients tainted with melamine killed a number of dogs and cats in the United States.

Lunch Leftover's: Pescatarian "Beef" and Eggplant Red Curry

It's too cold to go out for lunch, so I'm having leftovers from last nights dinner. Technically its not vegetarian or vegan because the curry has shrimp paste and fish sauce, so let's call it pescatarian "beef" and eggplant curry. Here's the recipe:

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 + 1/2 cup water or broth
1 package of Morningstar meal starters, beef
1 eggplant, chopped into 1/2" squares.
2 tablespoons of red curry paste
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups of jasmine rice, steamed

In a wok, stir 1/2 a can of coconut milk and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Once it is thick, bubbly, and fragrant (about 2-3 minutes) add the red curry paste. Mash and stir until it forms a creamy, smooth curry (about 2-3 minutes. Next, toss in the beef strips and stir, tossing to coat for a minute or two. Add the rest of your ingredients and stir occasionally, allowing to simmer for about 8 minutes, or until the eggplant takes on a light green color and softens. Once the curry looks ready to go, spoon it over a bowl of steamed jasmine rice and enjoy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Most Unhealthy Healthy Foods Out There

14 Health Foods That Aren't!

The authors of the bestselling new book “Eat This, Not That!” uncover the most misunderstood “health” foods in America

1. Bran Muffin
2. Chicken Caesar Salad
3. Tuna Melt
4. Chicken Wrap
5. Turkey Burger
6. Fruit Smoothies
7. Granola Bar
8. Pasta Salad
9. Yogurt with Fruit on the Bottom
10. Bagel with Cream Cheese
11. Pasta Primavera
12. Dried Fruit
13. Fish Sandwich
14. Margarine

If your weight-loss regimen consists of giving up pizza and cheeseburgers in favor of flaxseeds and rice cakes, it’s time to reconsider your strategy. In the hot bestselling book Eat This, Not That! co-authors David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding insist you don’t ever have to diet again. You can eat all of your favorite foods and still drop 10, 20, 30 pounds in just a few months! To do so, though, you must be able to spot the many perilous nutritional traps that continue to plague health-conscious consumers every day. Seemingly nutritious packaged and prepared foods often abound with added sugars, preservatives, and dangerous, belt-breaking fats. To help you slim down this year, the Eat This, Not That! guys have identified the 14 most punishing health ruses and replaced them with delicious alternatives that will keep you satisfied and give you all the purported nutritional benefits that many of our most beloved foods sadly do not. Just click on the index at left to discover a new, smarter game plan!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

On the Menu Tonight: Moroccan Eggplant with Garbanzo Beans and Mediterranean Kale

I love the World's Healthiest Foods site, it is so full of nutritional information and new ways to cook foods. This week I randomly picked up an eggplant with hopes to use it and found this delicious recipe online. Sure I could just make eggplant parmesean like I alwasys do, but this is an exciting opportunity to try something different, healthy, and with an international flair. Mangia!

Moroccan Eggplant with Garbanzo Beans
This is a great cold weather dish that is an example of tasty and nutritious a vegetarian dish can be. One serving provides 166% of the Daily Value (DV) for molybdenum, 119%DV for vitamin C, 64% DV for manganese and 62% DV for fiber.

Prep and Cook Time: 35 minutes Ingredients:
1 large onion cut in half and sliced thin
5 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1 medium red bell pepper cut in 1 inch squares
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1 inch pieces
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tsp turmeric
½ tsp garam masala
1 15oz can garbanzo beans
1 15oz can lentils, drained
½ cup tomato sauce
1¼ cups + 1 TBS vegetable broth
½ cup raisins
1 TBS chopped fresh cilantro
salt & black pepper to taste
Slice onion and press garlic and let sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out their health-promoting properties.
Heat 1 TBS broth in a 10-12 inch skillet. Healthy Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently. Add garlic, red bell pepper, eggplant, garam masala, and turmeric. Stir to mix well for a minute, and add broth and tomato sauce. Stir again to mix, cover, and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until peppers and eggplant are tender. This is our Stove Top Braising cooking method.
Add garbanzo beans, lentils, red chili flakes, and raisins. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro.
Serves 4

With this delicious, easy-to-prepare recipe you can include kale as part of your Healthiest Way of Eating in a matter of minutes. Kale is one of the healthiest vegetables around with one serving of Mediterranean Kale providing you with 409% of the daily value (DV) for vitamin C, 358% DV for vitamin A and 80% DV for manganese. Enjoy!

Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes Ingredients:
2 medium bunches kale, chopped, about 12 cups
Mediterranean Dressing
2 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp soy sauce
3 medium cloves garlic, pressed
extra virgin olive oil to taste
salt & black pepper to taste
Chop garlic and let sit for 5 minutes to bring out its health-promoting properties.
Fill bottom of steamer with 2 inches of water and bring to boil.
While water is coming to a boil, slice kale leaves into 1/2-inch slices, and cut again crosswise. Cut stems into 1/4-inch slices. Let kale sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out it health-promoting properties.
When water comes to a boil add kale to steamer basket and cover. Steam for 5 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl and toss with Mediterranean Dressing ingredients. Mediterranean Dressing does not have to be made separately. For the best flavor it is best to toss with dressing while kale is still hot.
Serves 4

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Mother's Cold Care Tips

My mother is a massage therapist (I am so lucky aren't I?) and owner of Sacred Space in Glen Burnie, MD. During the Christmas break I had a terrible cold that was quickly headed for sinus infection. As a gift she gave me a neti pot and some eucalyptus oil. I used my neti pot and my mother helped me heat some eucalyptus oil in a sauce pot full of water on the stove and then built me a towel "tent" so that I could inhale the vapors. I felt better almost immediately and could even feel my ears drain; it was great. Within 24 hours my cold was gone. My husband was the next unfortunate soul in the house to share my germs and he too found the same relief and healing benefits and was also better with 24 hours. So as an homage to my mother, here are her cold care tips:

1.Neti Pot

The original...since 1972. The Neti Pot naturally cleanses, refreshes, and protects the nasal passages, one of our body's first lines of defense against illness. Recommended today by doctors and pharmacists worldwide, the Neti Pot has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to alleviate sinus and allergy problems. The Himalayan Institute introduced the Neti Pot over 35 years ago, and we currently offer a full line of high quality products to support a complete sinus cleansing system.Neti Pot instructions on youtube:

2. Eucalyptus

Properties of the essential oil of Eucalyptus globulus, E. radiata and others: antiviral, decongestant, expectorant, analgesic amoung others

Eucalyptus is best known as a decongestant inhalation for colds and catarrh. Bactericidal and anti-viral, Eucalyptus is a very powerful bactericidal and anti-viral. A steam inhalation with Eucalyptus is an effective natural treatment for colds. It eases nasal congestion and inhibits proliferation of the cold virus. Eucalyptus used in airsprays or any form of vaporization during epidemics, will give a good measure of protection from 'flu and the infectious illnesses of childhood. A spray containing 2% essential oil of Eucalyptus is found to kill 70% of staphylococci in the air. Eucalyptus essential oil is more effective than eucalyptol, its main active ingredient, that is used pharmaceutical preparations. The effectiveness of oil of Eucalyptus appears to be due to the action of aromadendrene and phellandrenes. When these come into contact with the oxygen in the air, their chemical reaction produces ozone. Bacteria cannot live in this environment. The anti-viral action of Eucalyptus has been observed empirically frequently.

Enjoy these healthful tips which are the best thing I've found for us non-chicken soup- eating vegetarians to get rid of those winter bugs. If you still enjoy your tasty chickens, do steps 1&2, then beg mom to make you some old-fashioned homemade chicken soup.

Giant and Wegman's Get Generous with Drugs

From WJZ13:

Wegmans Joins Giant In Offering Free Antibiotics

One week after supermarket chain Giant Food LLC announced it would offer free antibiotic prescriptions to its customers, rival Wegmans Food Markets Inc. says it is doing the same.
Wegmans' spokeswoman Jo Natale says the program has been in the works for weeks and called the timing of the announcements coincidental. She says the Wegmans program was not a direct reaction to Giant's program. Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans will fill prescriptions for nine types of drugs through March 31. The Giant program ends March 21.Wegmans has 72 stores, including five in Virginia and Maryland.Giant is the largest supermarket chain in the Washington, D.C., region with 182 stores and more than 160 in-store pharmacies.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Vegetarian Chicken Fajitas

Tonight's dinner consisted of vegetarian chicken fajitas with a side of rice and fat-free refried beans. I had some cilantro and guacamole cream leftover from last week's tofu chicken skewers that I didn't want to go to waste, so I pulled out some frozen Morningstar meal starters chicken strips and made fajitas. My daughter and husband both went back for seconds and I can confirm that they turned out really tasty.

2 packages (16oz) Morningstar meal starters chicken (the beef flavor would work equally well).
3 bell peppers (I used 2 green and 1 yellow) sliced into strips
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp chile powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground pepper
2 Tbs lime juice
1/4 C cilantro, chopped

Add about 2 Tbsp of canola oil to a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add green peppers and onions, along with cumin, ground pepper, and chile powder. Stir until the peppers and onions begin to soften, about 10-12 minutes. Next add the chicken strips and continue stirring until heated through, about 6-8 minutes. Finally, once the vegetables have reached the level of crispiness you prefer and the chicken strips are heated through, remove from heat and add the lime juice and cilantro. Stir and enjoy over rice or on tortillas.

Eat This, Not That

I love receiving the Men's Health - Eat This, Not That newsletter. The aim of the newsletter is to show the fat and calories in foods at chain restaurants. I knew deep down that many of my favorite restaurant foods were bad for my health, but not only does this newsletter confirm it, it will likely contain a few shockers. Ordering what may seem like a healthy food choice at a restaurant chain, and you could still accidentally down a day's worth of calories. However, the best part about this list is that it also recommends healthier alternatives. While cooking for yourself is always best, because you know exactly what you are putting into your meal, for many of us, this is a luxury. So without further ado, here is the 2009 top 20 worst foods...egads!

The 20 Worst Foods in America 2009 : Avoid these 20 industrial-strength calorie bombs this year

1. The Worst Food in America of 2009

Baskin Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake
2,310 calories
108 g fat (64 g saturated fat, 2.5 g trans fats)
266 g sugars

Let's look at America's Worst Food in numbers:
73: The number of ingredients that go into this milkshake.
66: The number of teaspoons of sugar this drink contains.
11: The number of Heath Bars you would have to eat to equal the number of calories found in one Baskin Robbins Large Heath Bar Shake.
12: The average number of minutes it takes to consume this drink.
240: The number of minutes you'd need to spend on a treadmill, running at a moderate pace, to burn it off.

Eat This Instead! (and ask for two spoons)
2-Scoop Hot fudge Sundae
Chocolate and Vanilla
530 calories29 g fat (19 g saturated fat)
52 g sugars

2. Worst Pasta of 2009

Romano’s Macaroni Grill Spaghetti and Meatballs with Meat Sauce
2,430 calories

Eat This Instead!
Simple Salmon
590 calories

3. Worst Starter of 2009

Uno Chicago Grill Pizza Skins (full order)
2,400 calories
155 g fat (50 g saturated)
3,600 mg sodium

Eat This Instead!
Chicken Lettuce Wraps
390 calories

4. Worst Pizza of 2009

Uno Chicago Grill Chicago Classic Deep Dish Pizza
2,310 calories

Eat This Instead!
Cheese and Tomato Flatbread Pizza (individual)and a House Side Saladwith Fat-Free Vinaigrette
755 calories

5. Worst Ribs of 2009

Outback Steakhouse Baby Back Ribs (full rack)
2,260 calories(no other nutritional information available)

Eat This Instead!Prime Minister’s Prime Rib with Fresh Veggies and Sweet Potato
730 calories

6. Worst Chicken Entrée of 2009

Romano’s Macaroni Grill Primo Chicken Parmesan
2,220 calories

Eat This Instead!
Pollo Magro
330 calories

13. Worst Fish Entrée of 2009

Outback Steakhouse Atlantic Salmon (9 oz)
1,640 calories(no other nutritional information available)

15. Worst Salad of 2009

T.G.I. Fridays Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad
1,360 calories
Fat: unknown (The company refuses to disclose the nutritional content of the food they’re serving you.)
Sodium: unknown

18. Worst "Healthy" Sandwich of 2009

Blimpie Veggie Supreme (12”)
1,106 calories

Go to the article to see the rest of these scary foods and avoid them at all costs! Register for the newsletter, it's a great resource and they don't bombard you with other useless information. Happy New Year! I wish you all good health!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Healthy Panaeng "Beef" in Red Curry Peanut Sauce

The other day my local grocery store had a sale on Morningstar Meal Starters in the frozen section for 50% off.  I purchased several of the chicken and beef, which are vegan and 27% less fat than regular meat, and begin looking for recipes to use them in.  Here is the one I made for tonight's dinner:

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 package of Morningstar meal starters, beef
2 tablespoons of panaeng curry paste
2 tablespoons of fish sauce
 2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground peanuts
1 tablespoon of lime juice
2 cups of jasmine rice, steamed

In a wok, stir 1/2 a can of coconut milk and the water together and bring to a simmer.  Toss in the beef strips and stir, simmering for about 5 minutes.  Remove the beef using a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the curry paste and a few more tablespoons of the coconut milk, press and stir to make a paste for about 3 minutes.  Return the beef strips to the wok, add the remaining coconut milk and remaining ingredients.  Continue stirring and maintain a simmer for another 3 minutes, or until the sauce is smooth and fragrant.  Serve over a bowl of steamed jasmine rice and enjoy.

Chronicling my adventures in proving that less is more. I'll learn to refashion/recycle clothes, prepare gourmet meals using as many natural/basic/raw ingredients as possible. I'll learn to spend less, live more, and reclaim those things that are truly valuable in my life.


Below are feeds from websites that I find to be interesting and from a similar vein.


craigslist | free stuff in baltimore

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