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Monday, February 28, 2011

Remembering Hugh

There will be no posts this week due to the untimely passing of my brother in law, Hugh, on Sunday.  He will be missed by all who knew him for the loving husband, father, brother, son and friend that he was.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Recipes And Updates

I seldom cease to be amazed how some people never eat vegetables and don't even recognize them when they hold them in their hand.  Just the other day I was at the grocery and my check out girl exclaimed, "Oh, this zucchini feels weird!  I've never held one before."  I can't imagine the look on my face.  What kind of society do we live in when common vegetables are as alien to people as little green men from Mars?  Please don't let your children grow up in ignorance and don't be a prude yourself about trying new things.  With that said, here is a carrot recipe that has few ingredients but is big on taste.

Chili Carrots
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced in one inch pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey
1/2 to 1 tsp. chili powder
In a medium sized pot, cook carrots in boiling water for 8 minutes or until just tender.  Drain and return to pot.  Add remaining ingredients and cook and stir till carrots are glazed, about 2 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  I added a bit more chili powder myself.

Next week, I have an unusual new recipe I created that my family really enjoyed and it used BEEF!  For once, the beef was flavorful and tender, not the usual shoe leather I turn out when I cook beef.

In an earlier February post titled "Flu Shot Or Not", I told what has been happening with my brother in law Hugh.  I thought I should update everyone.  The news is not good.  It has now been three weeks since Hugh was admitted to the hospital and he has been in ICU the entire time.  Last Friday, he had improved enough for doctors to put in a feeding tube and perform a tracheotomy so he could be awake more and start to sit up.  (If you are on a ventilator, you are sedated most of the time and you can not talk.  A trach is a transition to weaning off oxygen support.)

Then on Monday night, Hugh developed a GI bleed which caused his blood pressure to drop dangerously low and his body to go into shock.  He suffered renal and liver failure.  Miraculously, Hugh has survived after a great deal of blood pressure medicine and more than 6 units of blood.  This has been a major setback.  Please keep Hugh and his family in your thoughts this weekend.  Never take for granted your own good health; take care of yourself as best you can.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Finding Inspiration

I was lucky to spend this past weekend at the Missouri Grand Prix, a swim competition for Olympians, Olympic hopefuls and up and coming young swimmers.  Never have I been around so many wonderfully healthy, fit people.  Elite athletes understand that good nutrition, health and fitness is the key to their sport, even more than talent or natural ability.  You can't perform if you don't eat well and certainly not if you don't train and take care of your body.

I am always looking for inspiration to keep me going.  I don't always want to get sweaty; maybe I'd rather lay on the couch.  I have my food issues too.  Chocolate milk shakes are always calling out to me; I'm surprised others don't hear them.  So use other's example to motivate you in your quest for fitness, weight control and better health.  Surrounding yourself with people who live a healthy life will help you too.

One swimmer in particular is my hero.  Dara Torres is 43, has competed and medaled in FIVE Olympics and is training for 2012.  This weekend I was privileged to see her swim her first race since having reconstructive knee surgery in 2009.  She has been back in training for a couple of months now and her competition is in their teens and twenties.  Dara managed to qualify for the 2012 Olympic trials in the race on Saturday; her time was the 5th best.  Dara does train differently than she did earlier in her career.  She has to be mindful of old injuries and a body that doesn't work like it did.  You can bet that I find her dedication a great motivating factor in my own life.

So get off the couch and get going.  Maybe you aren't an elite athlete but maybe you'd like to improve your tennis game or run your first 10 K.  Instead of just watching those games, use the athletes as role models.

As always, I'm on the lookout for veggie recipes and I found a great carrot dish that I'll share on Thursday.  Check out my blog on for more results on the health of the cardiologist and his wife.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Want To Be Less Stressed? Cook!

I am always reading up on the latest health information and the other day I came across an interesting study that helps back up one of my key convictions - people should eat home cooked meals.  The California study was done to find out the differences between families that had less stressful lives and those that had more stressful situations.  One difference they found was that less stressed families ate meals prepared at home from scratch.  The families that used more convenience foods actually spent more time in the kitchen, not less.  Of course, sitting down together for a meal also bonded families and allowed for better communication.

Not only are home cooked meals better for you physically, but apparently they are better for your mental health too.  I think most people who don't cook much would if they would just get organized.  Your kitchen pantry needs to be organized and filled with basic foods so that you can prepare a simple meal without a trip to the grocery.  You need to keep a running grocery list so that when you do shop, you don't forget things.  You need to plan exactly what you are going to have for dinner for at least three days every time you shop.  You can refer to some of my earlier posts for more tips on getting organized.

Family time can also include cooking together so get everyone involved.  You will be teaching your kids the necessary skills to take care of themselves eventually when you get them to help in the kitchen.  By the time they are teens, every kid should be able to prepare a simple meal.  I'm not talking about peanut butter sandwiches by the way.

Even though our local weather has turned unseasonably hot, I have a simple, satisfying chowder recipe. Real crab can be very expensive but you can substitute imitation crab in this recipe and it will be just as good.

Corn and Crab Chowder
6 slices bacon (I used the precooked kind)
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 onion chopped
1 32 oz. container chicken broth
1 Tbsp. flour
2 14 oz. cans of whole kernel corn, drained or equivalent amount frozen
1 lb. crab meat, drained and picked for shells, or use imitation
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Cook bacon in microwave and crumble.  Saute celery, bell pepper, and onion in 1 to 2 Tbsp. olive oil till tender.  Whisk together broth and flour till smooth.  Add to vegetables and stir in corn.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Gently stir in crab meat and next 4 ingredients.  Cook 5 minutes until well heated.  Serve with crumbled bacon and oyster crackers.  You could also substitute cooked chicken in place of the crab meat.

Spend some time this weekend organizing your kitchen so it is easier to prepare meals.  I have begun posting the results of our health tests this week on my blog on  Look for the cardiologist's wife under the living tab.  The first test didn't reveal any surprises but there are some to come!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Today's Gripe - A Lack Of Restaurants

Today I just feel the need to gripe so please excuse me.  If you have been reading my blog the last couple of weeks, you have seen our weekly menu published and that we tend to eat out about once a week.  My gripe is that our town has growing pains: we need more restaurants badly.  Lately whenever we go out, there have been long waits at the local restaurants, even if we get there shortly after 5 p.m.  I find it ridiculous to wait 45 minutes for a table at 5:15.  The wait doesn't get any better at 6:15 or 7:15.  Some of the new chain restaurants have made the mistake of putting in too small a facility with too small of a parking lot (Olive Garden).  When our new Red Lobster opens, we won't even go near the place for at least 6 months because we know we won't be able to get in just like we haven't been able to get in the new pizza place (Larry's) that we've heard good things about.  It will be a very long time before I agree to go to Olive Garden again.  It has been here at least a year but we've only been twice because there is often a loooong wait.  (And I don't think the food is that good to begin with!)

I'm hoping that restaurant developers will study the new census information just out and realize that with the growth in this area, we need more restaurants though preferably not Asian or Mexican.  We have plenty of those.  I'm also hoping for some better restaurants than fast food chains; we need better quality like Old Charlies, Outback and San Francisco Bread.  I'd love to see more local restaurants like Omar's, Skinny Jay's and Sai Tai open as those are often some of the best places to eat.

So there's my challenge to anyone listening out there.  If you have the skill, expertise and money to invest, restaurants are a growing industry in this area.  We also need more restaurants available to those just under 21.  If you aren't 21, there are few decent places to take a date.  I've seen prom couples turned away from local restaurants and I know many head to Memphis for this reason.

Sorry to complain so today.  I'm interested to know what my readers' experiences have been.  Has anyone else felt like eating out is a hassle these days due to overcrowded restaurants and few places to go?  Anyone had any really bad experiences?  Feel free to comment if you have a story to share.

Meanwhile, cook at home and enjoy this bit of lovely spring weather.  You know it won't last long.  Also, I'd like to welcome any new readers and followers.  I hope you've found some helpful information and enjoyable reading here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Flu Shot Or Not

The flu is something I've never worried about; it just didn't seem that bad so I have never gotten a flu shot either.  The rest of my family gets a flu shot.  I think Barry is more likely to get the flu given his line of work and I've always thought schools are the breeding ground for all sorts of diseases.  But working at home, I felt less likely to be exposed and while that is probably true, I've changed my mind.

Sometimes it takes a major event to make you change your mind.  Last week, Barry's brother Hugh and his family came down with the flu.  I didn't think much about it until Hugh was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia later in the week.  Then things really took a turn for the worse Friday night when the doctors had to put Hugh on the ventilator.  Hugh has been engaged in a fight for his life since then and he still isn't out of the woods.  He has responded well to a new drug in the last two days so we are hopeful.  The doctors think he will pull through but admit that it will be a long process.  Needless to say, all of this has made me rethink my position on getting a flu shot.  Hugh is only 55 and has two teenage daughters.  If a flu shot could prevent this from happening to me, it's worth the time and a little pain.

The problem with the flu is that it weakens your immune system leaving you vulnerable to other things like pneumonia.  In this day and age, pneumonia still kills people regularly and not just the elderly.  So if you have been like me and felt the flu shot was unnecessary, perhaps you'd like to think about it again.  If a few bucks could prevent a life altering event like Hugh's, maybe it's a good investment.  As I always say, your good health is too precious to ignore or take for granted.

As promised, here is the last of our weekly menu.  Due to the snow and Barry being out of town, I've moved a few things around.  Last night we had chicken and dumplings and sauteed butternut squash.  The rest of the week follows.

Thursday - Eggs, biscuits, gravy and bacon (does that sound heart healthy?)
Friday - Beef Stew with potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and green peas
Saturday - Eat out or leftovers
Sunday - Crab and corn chowder

Have a happy, healthy weekend and take care in the snow and cold.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Health Tests For The Cardiologist And His Wife

Recently I began to wonder whether my own health is really as good as I think it is.  And what about my husband's health?  Though we exercise, are we really fit or are we fooling ourselves?  So we decided to put ourselves to the test.  Last week, we had blood drawn for several tests and we had a calcium score, a simple test to check for plaque buildup in our arteries, a sign of heart disease.  In the coming weeks, we will have our fitness levels checked by a local trainer.  Once the results are in, I will begin posting the facts on my blog on  Then you can decide whether what we preach is the gospel or just alot of bunk.  Should be interesting to see what the results are.  I predict that one or both of us needs to work a bit harder at fitness though.

As for the Super Bowl party, I admit I pigged out pretty much especially with the Mexican Layered Dip and chips and the sausage stuffed mushrooms my sister made at the last minute.  The cupcakes were to die for but as the recipe didn't make many (this is a handy tip, don't make extra),  I only ate one.  I skipped the alcohol this time and actually drank milk.  Milk goes better with chocolate cupcakes anyway.  I was dreading the scales the next morning but I was surprised to see I hadn't gained any.  So my other strategies paid off; eat sensibly most of the time and exercise!

You can get outside at this time of the year and exercise you know.  So many adults and unfortunately, even children, stay inside in the winter and become more sedentary.  Being outside does so much good for your mental status as well as for the rest of your body.  I took our extremely short haired dog for a walk this morning - we both bundled up in coats and we both felt better for the fresh air and sunshine.  My kids and their friends get out and enjoy the snow like kids should, sledding, exploring and having snowball fights.  I had planned on sledding yesterday but there wasn't enough snow.  Maybe on Thursday.........

This is the last week I'm going to post our week's menus.  I hope seeing what we actually eat is inspiring to you.  I know so many people don't take the time to cook so I also hope my easy recipes will help with that too.

Monday - Tuna marinated in orange juice, parsley and oregano, wild rice and Brussel sprouts
Tuesday - Chili spaghetti and garlic bread (a good way to use up the leftover chili from Sunday)
Wednesday - Crab and corn chowder, a new recipe
Thursday - Chicken and dumplings, a family favorite

Stock up on supplies.  I suspect that we will have more snow this week in our local area by Wednesday.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Super Bowl Menu

As promised, I have finally settled on a Super Bowl menu which I will share with you.  I've tried to include fun party food while keeping the fat, sugar and calories under control.  The dips are kept to a minimum because they encourage mindless overeating.  Of course the key at any party is not to eat too much, no matter what is served.

Mexican Cornbread
Fruit Tray
Mexican Layered Dip With Tortilla Chips
Chocolate Cupcakes With Peanut Butter Icing

I decided to make chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing for dessert as they are easy to serve and delicious, not because they are low fat or low in sugar.  Plus the recipe only makes 2 dozen so there will be few leftovers for me to eat the next day.  Between the chili and the dip, there are lots of beans for lean protein and fiber, plus the chili will be made with ground turkey.  There are tomatoes and avocados, onions and spices to provide antioxidants, fiber and vitamins.  (You can justify eating anything if you know a few tricks!)  Anyway, make your game plan ahead of time and stick to it this Sunday and you are sure to be a winner, not overly stuffed and regretting your choices.

Also as promised, here is the rest of my dinner menus for this week.  I hope you have seen that you can eat very well, enjoy your food and still eat a healthy diet.  Many of these recipes have been featured in past blogs; you can check the recipe list at the side.  This is how we really eat every week.  I plan meals ahead for 3 or 4 days, do the grocery shopping and I'm set.  Remember many of these dishes are a breeze.  For instance, the Cranberry Chicken has four ingredients.  You mix up the sauce and pour it over the chicken breasts in about 5 minutes in the morning to marinate all day.  Then you pop it in the oven when you get home, cook some rice or pasta, add a side dish and you have a great meal.  

Thursday - Kubideh Sandwiches (a new Iranian sandwich featured in Delish magazine recently)
Friday - Chicken and Potatoes with Onion Garlic Jam, Garlic Green Beans
Saturday - we will eat out
Sunday - See above

I hope you have a lovely weekend no matter what your plans are.  Just squeeze in some exercise and eat well!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Big News

I am happy to announce that my blog will now appear Wednesdays on, a new website developed by Occasions Magazine with all kinds of information about Jonesboro, Ar.  I am happy to bring my blog to new readers and hope they will find some useful information. has local events, movie listings, business information, etc.  Just about anything you would want to know about Jonesboro can be found on this site.  I hope you will check it out.

The Super Bowl is this weekend and I know many of you are planning to host a party or go to one.  We are planning to have a small gathering this year so I'm thinking of food to serve.  I love party food!  I love cheese dip and chips, margaritas or martinis, pigs in a blanket, cookies, brownies and more!  However, I realize I can't just eat all I want of every bad food there is.  Choices will have to be made but that doesn't mean you can't eat well and sensibly at the same time.

I will have a fruit tray.  Fruit gives you that nice sweet taste but some fiber and vitamins too.  I must have a Mexican Layered Dip.  It is one of my favorite things and yes, I will eat it with chips but it has beans for fiber, tomatoes, avocados and onions for antioxidants and more vitamins.  This dip does have sour cream but I will use the low fat kind at least.  I haven't made up my mind about wings yet.  I don't have a tried and true recipe for wings and I've only made some once which were OK but not worth a repeat.  If I do make wings, they will be cooked in the oven, not fried and will be coated in picante sauce and honey, a new recipe I'm contemplating.  I may make stuffed mushrooms, empanadas or brushetta.  So many possibilities.  By Thursday, I will have made up my mind so I will publish the rest of the party menu.

Here are some tips for not eating the whole hog at your Super Bowl party.
1.  Fill your plate only once, no seconds and try not to heap food so it's falling off the plate.
2.  Choose things like fresh fruit, salsas, raw veggies or chili.
3.  Avoid too much cheese dip or other dips made with cheese and mayo.
4.  Have one dessert not a sampler platter.  Eat two or three cookies or a brownie.
5.  Watch the game and stay away from the area where the food is served.
6. Limit the alcohol intake to no more than two reasonably sized drinks as much for your waistline as for your ability to drive home safely.
7.  Have only one soda then switch to water.  Same for the alcohol.

Eat a decent, light lunch with plenty of fiber before the party.  If you are not starving before you get to the party, you won't be as likely to eat out of control.  Take a nice long walk or go to the gym for a pregame workout too.

An update on our weekly dinner menus.  Last Thursday I posted our dinner for Saturday as sloppy joes with broccoli.  Since both of our kids were not home for dinner due to a change in plans, Barry and I ate out at a Mexican restaurant.  We had the sloppy joes dinner last night.  Part of this week's menu follows.
Tuesday - Cranberry Chicken, rice and sauteed sugar snap peas.
Wednesday - Creamy tacos and a green salad.