Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How not to waste food

Waste not, want not is the watchword these days. Madeline Vann, Everyday Health, says just because leftovers “look” fine does not mean they are safe to eat.

You can’t go by the Expiration Date on the package because you may not have stored the item at the optimum temperature. Keep the fridge below 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Frozen foods must be below freezing—32 degrees F. Foods higher in protein spoil faster than those containing more sugar and sodium.

You can go by your nose to some extent—small off? Toss. If the food is gray or greenish—toss. Clumpy—say milk—no way.

Here are some other guidelines: Eggs—Use within three weeks. Toss cracked or broken ones.

Seafood—refrigerate if you are using it within two days, otherwise freeze.

Ground meat—Two days in the fridge, 3-4 mos in the freezer.

Fresh poultry—1-2 days in the fridge, nine mos to a yr in the freezer.

As for dairy—get pasteurized products. Watch those expiration dates.

Canned foods—Store in a cool dry place without temperature fluctuations. Acidic content—such as tomatoes—up to 18 mos.Low acid foods can be kept 2-5 yrs.

Other tips:

“Sell by’ Date – last calendar date the food can be sold. Can still be used.

“Best if Used By” date – refers to quality not safety.

“Guaranteed Fresh” date—Usually on bakery products. OK, but may not at peak freshness.

Milk is usually OK a week past the “Sell By” date.

Maybe we need to emulate the French and just shop every day, cook, and enjoy.

By the way--don't you love it when someone thrusts a package at you and says, "Try this--it tastes funny."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Learning the ropes

Remember Double Dutch? This is similar but different.

Most forms of exercise can get old. You may force yourself to get the “high,” but there is a sameness to it.

For variety, try Ropes Gone Wild—it’s strength, cardio, flexibility—the whole deal in one.

Invented by a guy named Anthony DiLuglio, Ropes Gone Wild is more like “play.”

If you think heaving hawser-sized ropes around play.

You need to conquer the ropes. Your heart goes up to 90% of capacity.

The ropes are attached at one end—you might be able to rig this up.

Check out this YouTube intro…

Whap, whap….

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hotsy totsy

Why do people in hot climates—Mexico, Thailand—like “hot” foods? So they will sweat, evaporate, and feel cooler, I guess.

Do you ever watch those guys on the Food channel show called HEAT SEEKERS? They laugh and clown around watching people make chili-infused grub then eat some, tears popping from their eyes!

Well, those two will be happy to know about the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chili. This is the hottest pepper on the planet, according to New Mexico State’s Chili Pepper Institute.

It means heat topped 1.2 million units on the Scoville heat scale.

I don’t know what that is, but according to reports, you take a bite of this thing and think you’re OK at first, but it builds and builds and becomes “quite nasty.”

Previous record holders were the 7-pot, the chocolate 7-pot and the Bhut Jolokia of India.

No, thanks…but I know two guys who will try them. Maybe Pay-Per-View?

Also--pardon me--but that thing looks disgusting.

Friday, February 24, 2012

How to survive Disney World

T. Foster Jones (my editor Tod) wrote in the Feb Costco Connection about how to spend less money at D’World. He consulted a Costco travel consultant named Sarah Gaudet.

First, she says, plan each D’World day in advance. Have a schedule of where to go and when and what to eat and where.

Make dining reservations well in advance, especially at popular joints like Cinderella’s Royal Table or Mythos.

When entering the park—turn left—most people turn right.

Go to the back of the park first.

Or ride late in the day—shorter lines then, too.

Get the Disney FASTPASS. Or Universal’s Express Pass.

If you have some kids that can’t ride, go to child swap areas—Mom or Dad can stay off with a kid, then trade—without waiting again.

To save on lodging—don’t stay at a Disney place. Look for a kitchenette. Plenty of meals can be snacky and not full-on expensive.

Also get a car. Yes, rentals cost, but this gives you more eating and fun possibilities in Orlando, which is stuffed with things to do.

Go off-peak—Jan-Feb or Sept-Oct.

A little planning can make it fun. I remember trips to Disneyland, but have never been to Disney World.

I got a whiplash on the Space Mountain rollercoaster, so look straight ahead.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Heart Month--Valentine's--get it?

I hate “doing” these dopey months. But the University of Mich has the skinny on some new heart approaches.

Since I have atrial fib, I listened up.

First, instead of heart transplants, or while waiting, there are devices now that can keep the heart pumping along pretty well in certain cases. One is the left ventricle assist.

There also is more emphasis on testing young athletes for heart problems—esp hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Ask your kid’s coach.

Of course, they are all ABOUT kids losing weight—less juice, fewer fatty meals, more playing outside.

There are also new aortic valve approaches—not requiring open heart surgery.

Your Medicare doctor will also talk to you about preventing cardiovascular disease—by blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol control.

And—last but never least—women. Heart disease is their number one enemy—but often their heart symptoms are ignored. Such symptoms often are different from men’s. Days of fatigue, upset stomach, dizziness, or even insomnia—maybe you could ask.

This is making me feel like hammered do-do…back later.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sit up straight

Did your Mom tell you that? Mine did. Do I do it? Nah, not always.

Connie Midey wrote about posture in the AZ Republic, Feb 17, 2012. Poor posture is the number one cause of back and neck pain.

People with good posture are also seen as more strong and vital.

THAT made me sit up and take notice!

If you tend to slouch head-forward, lift the front of your rib cage a few inches.

Rounded shoulders? Pull your shoulder blades back toward your spine.

If you have a sloppy stance, make sure your legs are not locked. Inhale. As you exhale, pull your belly toward your spine.

OK—at least I am sitting straighter.

I bet you moved a little, too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Don't feel like exercising?

Researchers at the Univ of Pennsylvania say motivation to exercise waxes and wanes in any normal person.

Week to week, motivation can change a lot, says David Conroy, professor of kinesiology.

Conroy and his team took 33 college students and gauged their intentions to be active and their actual activity over a 10-week period.

The results, in the Feb issue of J of Sport and Exercise Psychology, were that motivation fluctuated a lot.

For some motivation was high on the weekend. For others, during the week.

The key, they thought, was to weave exercise into the day so motivation was not such a factor.

Maybe--what—selling the car? Wearing a pedometer all the time?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Not the solution

Watch what you stick in your eye.

Connie Midey, AZ Republic, Feb 17, 2012, reports that some contact lens wearers still wet their contacts by sucking on them.


There are 500 kinds of bacteria in your spit—many of which don’t belong in your eye.

But an eye doc says that is not the worst—homemade saline or urine are not great.

They did a survey (of course) and 20% of contacts wearers had used something “unconventional.” Baby oil, Coke, Vaseline.

Even water is not safe—remember a previous post, where my eye doc blanched when I said I got water in my eye.

If you can’t do this right—get one-use lenses. And toss.

Urine—really? Come on, people!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Quick--but challenging

We know, we know—it takes time to get to the gym, easy to make excuses. But now researchers at McMaster University have found a way to exercise 20 mins twice a week and get fit.

It’s a variation on interval exercising—fast and hard followed by slow or a rest period.

In this case, it’s one minute of strenuous exertion (90% of max heart rate), followed by a minute of recovery. Repeat 9 times.

Sound too good to be true? Well, first, 90% of max heart rate means SWEATY and HARD.

But yes, both fit and unfit volunteers showed significant improvement to health and wellness.

I bet this is not as carefree as it sounds. I have written about SuperSlow—hold weight poses for 10 seconds—it kicks drill instructor booty.

Has anyone tried this?

Read more here:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Not all female cancer survivors scared straight

A recent study at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa and the Mayo Clinic found that female cancer survivors getting screening mammograms had “worse health behaviors” than women getting screening who had never had cancer.

Researchers looked at 19,948 women age 35 and older getting mammograms. The cancer survivors and those who had never had cancer were assessed on smoking, alcohol use, physical activity, weight, and vitamin use.

Cancer survivors 30 to 49 had greater rates of smoking.

Cancer survivors were less likely to use alcohol monthly or more often, but of that group, the younger survivors used it more.

Survivors were less likely to engage in strenuous exercise.

Cancer survivors did report less weight gain and were more likely to take vitamins.

Survivors were more likely to rate their health as “poor.”

This was seen as an opportunity for interventions, the study said.

I don’t always do what I should. Would cancer make me? I honestly don’t know. How about you?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Letting it all hang out--NOT

Good old Arizona—always good for a laugh. Now, we are so stupid we need a state law—one representative says—to warn people who see beautiful people in ads that the zits and brown spots have been PhotoShopped out.

Not to mention 25 lbs or so…or bulges and lumps not Spanxed into submission.

Yeah—we need a law for this. We know! Duh!

The legislator knows this has no chance—but wants to start a “discussion.” You know—so young girls will not feel bad because they are not “perfect.”

This is a stupid waste of time. Everyone feels crappy about themselves. I look at a fashion rag and am grateful I don’t have to wear the shoes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Calling an ambulance is a crapshoot

Laura Landro, WSJ, Feb 14, 2012, cites a new report from the National Assn of EMS Officials that shows a wide variation in how emergency services are defined from state to state.

EMS budgets have also been hard-hit.

Patient safety is an issue.

Survival rates from cardiac arrest—low for years—often is in the single digits.

Seattle’s is 50%, though—but the city provides a 3-day course in just resuscitating. This is rare.

The key to saving people is instructing ordinary people to do chest compressions only and forget the mouth-to-mouth. Better instructions over the phone will help, too.

Communication between EMS people and hospitals could also be improved. This is when an angioplasty is needed to open an artery that’s blocked—calling the hospital to have people standing by cuts "door-to-balloon” time.

OK—people—get on it. Chop chop.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Going within--in college

Everyone keeps telling me I am freaking out, what with being terrified and broke and all. So maybe I should enroll in the Univ of Pennsylvania’s course in how to be monk-like.

This is a course on monastic life and asceticism.

Students wake at 5 am, and for various periods, forgo technology, coffee, and human contact.

Men wear white shirts, women black—they sit on opposite sides of the classroom.

They forgo alcohol for periods. Cannot touch anyone. No eye contact. No eating after dark. They also write in a journal every 30 minutes.

This builds hyperawareness.

I suspect hyperawareness is what is getting me in trouble, but what do I know. This could be an interesting exercise. I used to know yogis who did things like this.

What I liked about the swamis I met was they could be in a limo one day and in a loincloth on a cold rock the next—they took it in stride.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Don't stick deadly stuff up your nose

Don’t run with scissors.

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.

Oh, never mind.

Anyhow, a woman in North Louisiana used a neti pot to rinse out her sinuses and introduced a brain-eating amoeba that killed her.

A neti pot is an ancient device to rinse your nasal passages. Apparently Ganges water never hurt anybody.

Use distilled or boiled water—the docs say.

Yeah, that tap we are drinking could eat your brain.

I do know when my eye was sewed shut (don’t ask), it pulled and itched and I let the shower run on it. The eye doc was horrified—not tap, he almost screamed.

Soooo…have a nice weekend. Try to live through it.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Should doctors care about patients' personalities?

Laura Landro, WSJ, Jan 31, 2012, says many medical conditions can be affected by externals—fear, being broke, fear of being broke, fear of upcoming war, losing a house—almost anything.

Should doctors care about this? I know they almost never ask about your life—maybe if you drink—and then they peer at you intensely to see if you are lying. Yes—if and when I can afford to buy liquor.

But I am also extremely stressed—cannot sleep—see my career and life crushed to giblets by this economy…want to know about that?


I went to my doctor Tues. Well, “my” doctor—the third woman in a row from India—they seem to last in that practice a year and then when I come again, I need a new one.

She was worried about my BP—it’s in our family—I have been on meds for 30 yrs. I may need more meds.

I am not sure I want more meds.

Then a cardiologist—well, everything they have suggested that I agreed to has harmed me…well, you still should go…

I am old and cranky—and noncompliant. I am not going to do things that have harmed me in the past. I read the research—was she offering me any studies?

Doctors should ask about your life, Landro wrote—not just your sore knee, but how it keeps you from walking your grandkids to school. Oh, yes—let’s have a nice long talk…that never happens.

There was also a woman in that article who did not want to take a “big drug” for her psoriasis because of the possible side efx.

Still, I also went to a new eye doctor recently—and he apologized for the damage done to my right eye by other practitioners—that was new—and welcome. He said if ANYTHING went wrong or changed to call him immediately.

I felt he cared. That was nice. So who knows, maybe even cranky patients can be reached.

Even if he didn't mean it or if he would be gone the next time I called for an appt, it was a nice moment.

I had another eye doctor who told me to "think positively." Come on--have you met me, I am standing right in front of you!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

I know you know this

My daughter is just learning to ride a bike at age 29. She tried earlier but took some tumbles as a kid and backed off.

Now—she needs a bike to get around.

I want her to be safe—so of course, I suggested training wheels—this was met with derision…uh, OK, forget that.

But what will she need? Suggestions?

I mentioned a protective helmet—she is on the fence on that—and I wrote a concussion booklet. Yipes. Will raise it again.

A reflective vest? Not sure how much she will be out at nite.

Bike lights—same, but I think the thing has a reflector.

A head lamp? Don’t know—expensive?

How about a water bottle? Yes! This is the desert. The burning sands, etc.

Other ideas?

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Delish and won't raise blood sugar

Ever since Paula Deen came clean on her diabetes, people have been conscious—or more conscious—of blood sugar (needing zaps of insulin).

I tried these Granola Gourmet bars, which rank low on the glycemic index (19-25), where 70 is high.

They are kosher, whole grain, wheat and dairy free, low sodium.

And they still taste pretty good!

They come in Mocha Fudge, Fudge Brownie, Berry, and Cran-Orange.

I really liked how they did not have too many sharp mystery crumbs in them. I am not a fan of weird things that get caught in your teeth.

For more info—more elegantly stated--go to www.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Yumminess without too much guilt

I had ramen for Super Bowl—even the pooch would not finish it. Then my kid came home with a cheese Danish, which is not exactly a diet item, but was kinda super.

In the AZ Republic, Jan 27, 2012, Marilynn Preston, www.marilynnpreston,com, a woman in a strange hat, recommends swapping out “bad” for “better” in terms of snacks.

Mustard instead of mayo.

Carrots for chips (uh…)

Water instead of cola.

Snacks are a quarter of our intake.

Swap nuts for chips…fiber, good fats, so-called. Just remember to eat fewer than 25 nuts.

Peanut butter—with anything—1 tablespoon.

Ten olives.

Fruit and don’t forget dried fruit. Small amts.

Apple and cheese.

A small baked sweet potato. An hour at 400. Try yogurt and cinnamon on it.

Sounds good—now send over the armored truck with the money for this.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Exercise cleans up your nasty cells

I always like to visualize the weird stuff going on in my body. Usually this is more comical than medical.

But Tara Parker-Pope of the NYT recently wrote about your body’s cells.

“It’s long been known that cells accumulate flotsam from the wear and tear of everyday living,” she says.

This can be broken or misshapen proteins, shreds of membranes, viruses or bacteria, worn out components—you know, cell crap.

In most cases, cells sweep this stuff away or recycle it for fuel—through a process called autophagy or “self-eating.”

Without this, cells would be choked with trash, which can lead to diabetes, MD, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

The key to making cells get with the program is exercise! The more you move, the more your body cleans itself.

So walk, play sports, even run—incinerate cell garbage.

Oh, this is fun, people.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Get a glaucoma test

I know there is a constant barrage of urgings to get this test or that—and all require punishing copays and long waits and sometimes pain—but I am a convert to getting periodic eye exams.

When my right retina fell off—I saw…the um…light.

Best of all—eye exams require no nakedness, nasty bits, or pain.

Your eye is a little bag of fluid and if that fluid does not circulate properly, pressure can build up damaging the optic nerve and other conduits that take the visual signal to the brain.

No pain, no symptoms, then…failing vision.

The test of eye pressure is no biggie—they put in numbing drops and either touch your eye with a little device or blow a blast of air—you don’t even feel it.

If you have a family history of glaucoma—all the more reason to go at 40 and keep going periodically. High blood pressure or diabetes are also reasons to go.

If you have it, you will get eyedrops. If those don’t work, a laser procedure. In rare cases, surgery to improve drainage is needed.

Sure, there can be glitches—but leaving glaucoma undetected or treated is a mistake. Again, we have to roll the dice.


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Physician sidelines

Been to the doctor’s office lately? You may be able to buy expensive face cream at the internist’s or get your hearing tested (and aids provided) at the eye doctor.

Doctors are getting more and more creative in the “revenue stream” department. I was at the eye doctor and they offered to check my hearing.

EENT—this USED to be the specialty—Eye Ear Nose and Throat. Now ears are being added back in?

I declined the hearing test—but they did a short little beep in each ear anyhow—and then the tech said, “That is all I do.”

Enigmatic. Did she not approve?

Anyhow—I don’t need dermabrasion by someone who took a weekend course—that is FACE SANDING. I want n experienced sander for THIS face.

Eye lifts from an ophthalmologist? Well, it’s eye related, but not central to the practice.

I am also not too happy about docs who run tests for drug companies—they are giving their personal patient something that may not work—that is how I look at it.

Where am I wrong?