The Week in Health and Fitness

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Welcome to this weeks review of important Health, Fitness and Nutrition news. I have been posting the links to articles about health, fitness and nutrition, along with healthy recipes in ek hornbeck’s daily news round up. Since life is now making greater demands on my time both on and off line, I thought a weekly separate essay at the end of the week would be a good idea. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time and in January it will be coming to you from Paris, Fr. for awhile.

I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.

Now that the big food day is over, I’ll add healthy recipes at the end of the essay.

Be Healthy. Be Safe  

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More than 1,000 deaths in past week from H1N1: WHO

GENEVA (Reuters) – More than 1,000 deaths from the H1N1 swine flu virus were officially reported in the past week, a sharp rise which brings the global total to at least 7,826, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

More than half of the latest fatalities were reported by health authorities in the Americas region.

The winter flu season arrived early in the northern hemisphere this year and continues to be intense across parts of North America and much of Europe.

“In the United States and Canada, influenza transmission remains very active and geographically widespread,” the WHO said, adding that the disease now appeared to have peaked in all U.S. regions.

“In Canada, influenza activity remains similar but (the) number of Hospitalizations and deaths is increasing,” it said.

Don’t kiss Santa, he may have the flu: Hungary government

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Santa Claus should avoid kissing children and shaking their hands to prevent spreading the flu and should get vaccinated against the illness, Hungary’s state health authority said.

In a recommendation issued over the weekend and posted on its official website www.antsz.hu, the authority did not ban traditional Santa Claus activities but warned of increased risks of contagion due to a nationwide flu epidemic.

In Hungary, Santa Claus traditionally comes on December 6, when children find gifts in shoes placed on window sills the night before.

Drug resistant H1N1 no major change in virus: WHO

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – Tamiflu resistance in some H1N1 patients with badly weakened immune systems does not seem to reflect a major change in the virus’ susceptibility to the frontline drug, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

Nine people in Britain and the United States developed a Tamiflu-resistant form of swine flu while being treated in hospital mainly for blood cancers, said WHO flu expert Keiji Fukuda.

Sharp increase in swine flu deaths in France

PARIS (Reuters) – The number of deaths in mainland France from the H1N1 swine flu virus jumped in the last week, according to official data Thursday.

The toll rose to 68 deaths as of November 22, with 22 new deaths last week. Six of the 68 victims had no underlying health problems, the country’s health monitoring institute said. Health minister Roselyne Bachelot said 750,000 people had already been vaccinated but admitted that many vaccination centres were facing long waiting lines.

U.S. sees rise in secondary infections after flu

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. health officials said on Wednesday they are seeing a worrying pattern of serious bacterial infections in swine flu patients, mostly among younger adults not normally vulnerable to them.

The pattern is typical of pandemics such as the current H1N1 pandemic but shows the need for patients and doctors to keep an eye out for the infections and treat them quickly, Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told reporters.

 

Greater Use of Vaccine for Infection Is Urged

There has been a “worrisome spike” in secondary bacterial infections among Americans with swine flu, federal health officials said Wednesday, urging more people at risk to get the underused vaccine that prevents some of those infections.

Bacterial infections are a common and sometimes deadly flu complication for the elderly, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of immunization and respiratory disease for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But in this pandemic, they are becoming more common among children and younger adults.

For example, Dr. Schuchat said, Denver, one of 10 cities where her agency monitors circulating bacterial strains, has 20 serious cases in a typical October. Last month it had 58, two-thirds in adults under age 60.

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Diabetes Rate May Double by 2034 Diabetes Rate May Double by 2034

Cost of Treating the Disease Set to Triple, Researchers Say

By Salynn Boyles

WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

Nov. 27, 2009 — If nothing is done, the number of Americans with diabetes will nearly double in the next 25 years and spending on the disease will nearly triple, a new study shows.

An aging population combined with a dramatic rise in obesity has created a perfect storm for diabetes in the U.S., researchers say.

“A perfect storm is a good way to look at it,” study researcher Elbert S. Huang, MD of the University of Chicago tells WebMD. “If things stay the way they are right now we will have massive increases in diabetes incidence in this country over the next two decades.”

By 2034, as many as 44 million Americans will have diabetes, up from 23 million today, according to the new projections, published in the November issue of the American Diabetes Association journal Diabetes Care.

Delaying Type 1 Diabetes

B-Lymphocytes May Hold Key to Delaying Type 1 Diabetes

By Daniel J. DeNoon

WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 25, 2009 — Researchers may have found a new way to delay, or perhaps prevent, type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes usually begins early in life, when the T-lymphocyte arm of the immune system attacks insulin-making beta cells in the pancreas. Researchers hoping to slow or stop this process have targeted T lymphocytes or T cells.

But recent research suggests that B lymphocytes play a role in T-lymphocyte immunity. In non- obese mice with diabetes, depleting B cells inhibits the disease. Can it work in humans?

Yes, find Indiana University’s Mark D. Pescovitz, MD and a team of diabetes experts from 12 U.S. and Canadian diabetes centers.

Timely and continuous HIV care extends survival

By Megan Brooks

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – In people infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS, high-risk behavior, HIV infection itself, as well as late initiation and early discontinuation of anti-HIV therapy all contribute to substantial decreases in life expectancy, United States researchers report.

Using a comprehensive computer model of HIV disease, the researchers simulated cohorts of HIV-infected individuals and compared them with uninfected individuals who had similar demographic characteristics.

Cancer drug preserves insulin cells in diabetes

By Gene Emery

BOSTON (Reuters) – Rituxan, a drug used to treat cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, may help slow the development of newly discovered type 1 or juvenile diabetes, researchers reported on Wednesday.

The drug may interfere with the body’s mistaken destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, the researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Cancer or inflammation? New pancreas test tells

By Gene Emery

BOSTON (Reuters) – Researchers in Italy said on Wednesday they have developed a test that identifies most people with autoimmune pancreatitis, which could make it easier for doctors to distinguish it from pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest types of cancer.

But the method is not perfect. While it gave a correct diagnosis in 94 percent of cases, 5 percent of people with pancreatic cancer falsely tested positive for the less-serious inflammatory condition.

Antioxidants could help preserve muscle strength

y Marilynn Larkin

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – In a study in older adults, dietary intake of vitamins C and E was linked with muscle strength, leading the researchers to suggest at a meeting in Atlanta this past weekend that a diet high in antioxidants could play an important role in preserving muscle function in older adults

“Muscle strength is really a marker of aging,” one of the investigators, Dr. Anne Newman of the University of Pittsburgh, told Reuters Health. “Muscle strength starts declining when people are in their 40s, but it decreases dramatically after age 60.”

Drug-resistant bacteria on increase in U.S.: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Cases of a drug-resistant bacterial infection known as MRSA have risen by 90 percent since 1999, and they are increasingly being acquired outside hospitals, researchers reported on Tuesday.

They found two new strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — MRSA for short — were circulating in patients and they are different from the strains normally seen in hospitals.

Artery Disease in Some Very Old Patients

The Book of Exodus in the King James translation of the Bible describes a pharaoh who “hardened his heart” against the exodus of the Jews from ancient Egypt. But if a research letter published last week in The Journal of the American Medical Association is correct, the pharaoh may have been suffering from hardened arteries.

The new report recounts how a team of cardiologists used CT scanning on mummies in the Egyptian National Museum of Antiquities in Cairo to identify atherosclerosis – a buildup of cholesterol, inflammation and scar tissue in the walls of the arteries, a problem that can lead to heart attack and stroke.

The cardiologists were able to identify the disease in some mummies because atherosclerotic tissue often develops calcification, which is visible as bright spots on a CT image. The finding that some mummies had hardened arteries raises questions about the common wisdom that factors in modern life, including stress, high-fat diets, smoking and sedentary routines, play an essential role in the development of cardiovascular disease, the researchers said.

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HRT given to protect heart, despite lack of proof

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women with the highest heart disease risk were the most likely to quit taking hormone therapy after it was shown to offer no protection against cardiovascular disease, a new analysis of national data shows.

Dr. Angela Hsu and colleagues from Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City found that while 28 percent of women with heart disease were taking hormone replacement therapy in 1999-2000, just 8 percent were in 2003-2004. But for low-risk women, the decline was much smaller, from 20 percent to 17 percent over the same time period.

Women who smoke risk having seizures: study

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women who smoke may have a higher risk of developing seizures than non-smokers do, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among more than 100,000 U.S. women in a long-running health study, current smokers were between two and three times more likely than non-smokers to suffer a seizure over 16 years.

Current smokers did not clearly show a higher risk of developing epilepsy, a disorder marked by recurrent seizures that are not provoked by a specific cause, such as a reaction to a drug

Fertility treatment may produce fewer baby boys

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The number of baby boys conceived by a fertility treatment known as ICSI may be lower than what is produced by Mother Nature, a new study suggests.

On average, there are 105 baby boys born for every 100 girls — a natural advantage that helps balance out the higher number of deaths among male fetuses and infants. But in the new study, researchers found that this male-to-female birth ratio seems to be reversed when infants are conceived through intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI.

Among more than 15,000 U.S. babies born in 2005 via assisted reproduction, the investigators found that a particular ICSI approach appeared to result in a smaller-than-average number of boys.

Moms-to-be smoke less after workplace smoking ban

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Ireland’s implementation of a workplace smoking ban in 2004 appears tied to a decline in maternal smoking rates as well as lower risk for preterm births, study findings hint.

Compared with the year prior to the smoking ban, 12 percent fewer women reported smoking during pregnancy in the year after the ban, Dr. Zubair Kabir, of the Tobacco Free Research Institute in Dublin, Ireland, and colleagues report.

Their study, in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, also revealed “a welcome sign,” Kabir’s team notes. They observed 25 percent lower risk for preterm births in the year after the smoking ban compared with the year prior to the ban.

Depression may up risk of a leaky bladder in women

By Rachael Myers Lowe

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Older women who suffer from major depression are at greater risk of developing urinary incontinence than women of the same age who are not depressed, new research shows.

Since urinary incontinence and depression often occur together in women, Dr. Jennifer Melville from the University of Washington in Seattle and colleagues set out to determine if a causal relationship exists between the two conditions.

Previous studies demonstrated a high rate of depression among women being treated for urinary incontinence but none had examined whether one condition led to the other.

Fertility drugs may pose some uterine cancer risk

By Joene Hendry

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Though the use of fertility drugs does not seem to generally increase uterine cancer risk, a Danish study identified small increases in risk from certain fertility drugs used for longer duration.

Dr. Allan Jensen, with the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen, and colleagues identified higher uterine cancer risk among women who used follicle-stimulating hormone and human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG) for more than 10 years.

They saw similar risk among women who ever took six or more cycles of clomiphene, an established treatment for women not ovulating normally, or when clomiphene did not work, when women were injected with six or more cycles of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

Pregnancy Protein May Slow Breast Cancer

Researchers Say Early Research on Protein Called AFP Could Lead to Treatments

By Salynn Boyles

WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 24, 2009 — New research could help explain how pregnancy protects against breast cancer, and the findings may one day lead to a novel way to treat the disease.

Investigators from the University of Albany linked the pregnancy protein alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) to slowed growth of breast cancer in rats exposed to pregnancy hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, or human chorionic gonadotropin.

These hormones were shown by the researchers to induce AFP during pregnancy.

They have also been shown to inhibit breast cancer growth in earlier rat studies, although estrogen and progesterone are known to fuel the growth of breast cancer in humans.

Many pregnant women take drugs harmful to baby

By Joene Hendry

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – With the help of their doctors, women planning to become pregnant should take an inventory of the medications they take, researchers from Canada advise.

In a study, they found that many pregnant women still take medications long known to cause birth defects.

Some medications with known fetal risk, such as drugs that control epilepsy, are essential during pregnancy, Dr. Anick Berard, at the University of Montreal in Quebec, noted in an email correspondence to Reuters Health.

follow url Men’s Health News

Testicular Self Exam: What’s Normal, What’s Not

Do you know how to do a testicular self-exam? Learn what’s normal and what’s not.

This link takes you to a video about testicular self-examination and why men need to know what feels normal and when it doesn’t, just as a woman needs to know about what her normal breast feels like, with all the normal lumps and bumps. There is also other important information about men’s health. You fellows need to bookmark this one.

Long-term effects of testicular cancer chemo seen  

By Laura Buchholz

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Men wondering about the long-term side effects of chemotherapy for testicular cancer may now have a road map defining likely outcomes.

A Norwegian study, published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, reveals that long-term side effects vary depending on the dose of chemotherapy given and how many cycles of chemotherapy the men received.

“A continuous aim in the care of testicular cancer patients is to reduce toxicity without comprising the high cure rate,” Dr. Marianne Brydy of Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway wrote in an email to Reuters Health. “Treatment plans should thus follow the existing guidelines with recommendations for treatment based on risk,” she advised.

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‘Covert’ coping with job conflict ups heart risk  

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Walking away or letting things pass may be an unhealthy way to deal with unfair treatment on the job, research from Sweden shows.

Men who reported using such “covert” coping strategies were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack or die from heart disease over the next 10 years, Dr. Constanze Leineweber of the Stress Research Institute at Stockholm University and her colleagues found.

Food, Kin and Tension at Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving dinner, what side dish would you prefer to accompany your turkey – a serving of well-marinated conflict over how much or how little you eat, or some nice, fresh criticism of your cooking skills?

As families gather around the country this week to celebrate Thanksgiving, many of them are bracing for the intense emotions of the holiday meal. The combination of food and family often brings out longstanding tensions, criticism and battles for control. Simple issues like cooking with butter or asking for seconds are fraught with family conflict and commentary.

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Kids should get moving to avoid obesity

By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Vigorous exercise may be an especially good way to keep kids lean, but sitting around, in and of itself, doesn’t appear to have a major role in making them fat, new research shows.

Nevertheless, there are still plenty of reasons to avoid too much sedentary “screen time,” Dr. Ulf Ekelund of the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, UK and colleagues say, given potential negatives including “violence and aggressive behavior, poor academic performance, and poor body image.”

To help tease out the role of time spent in different types of activity in making children fat, independent of screen time and otherwise being a couch potato, Ekelund and his team looked at 1,862 children 9 to 10 years old, 23 percent of whom were overweight or obese.

Meet flu’s rival in kids: respiratory syncytial virus

By Megan Brooks NEW YORK (Reuters Health)

– With all the public’s attention focused on flu, particularly H1N1 swine flu, doctors in Boston are warning that another highly contagious seasonal virus takes a substantially greater toll in some ways than does seasonal flu, particularly in young children. It’s respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and it has been “underappreciated,” Dr. Florence T. Bourgeois, of Children’s Hospital Boston, told Reuters Health by email. RSV is a common virus that most children get by the time they are 2 years old. “There’s been disproportionate attention given to influenza even though our data show (illness) to be high from RSV,” Bourgeois said. For example, over two recent Boston winters, the investigators found that children aged 7 and younger infected with RSV had twice as many ED visits and six times as many hospitalizations for acute respiratory illness as those infected with seasonal flu. RSV infections were also twice as likely to result in additional trips to the child’s pediatrician and in use of antibiotics, they report today in the journal Pediatrics.

Exposure to smoke, lead ups risk of ADHD

By Megan Brooks NEW YORK (Reuters Health) –

If you need another reason to stop smoking while pregnant, or to rid your home of lead, a new study suggests that children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy and who are exposed to the metal have more than twice the usual risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Study co-author Dr. Tanya E. Froehlich, of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, told Reuters Health that the lead finding is particularly “surprising,” given that the blood lead levels in the study children — even those in the top third of the sample – were, on average, about a tenth of the threshold for harmful effects set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “These are not high levels of lead exposure; they are historically what we would consider to be low levels,” Froehlich said. In a study of almost 2,600 children aged 8 to 15, Froehlich found that the rate of ADHD in the whole group was about 9 percent (222 children). The rate of ADHD was about 17 percent in kids whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, and about 14 percent in kids who had blood lead levels in the top third.

Zimbabwe child mortality up 20 percent, U.N. says

[HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s infant mortality rate has risen by 20 percent over the past two decades as children under five succumb to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and pneumonia, a joint government and United Nations survey showed on Tuesday.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday a survey it carried with Zimbabwe’s government in May this year showed the number of children dying under the age of five had risen by 20 percent since 1990, the baseline year for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

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Dementia big threat for elderly in poorer nations

* Dementia threat growing in low and middle income nations

* Study says costs “enormous,” will grow as populations age

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – Dementia is the biggest cause of disability in old people in poorer countries and the problem and its costs for society will grow rapidly as populations age, doctors said on Friday.

British researchers studied 15,000 elderly people in seven low- and middle-income countries and found that, contrary to previous expert opinion, dementia, not blindness, is by far the biggest cause of poor health in old age.

Renata Sousa of the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, who led the study, said this was contrary to World Health Organization estimates that visual impairment and blindness were the biggest problems.

“Chronic diseases of the brain and mind deserve increased prioritization,” she wrote in the study published in The Lancet.

 Psychotropic drugs boost fall risk in the elderly

y Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A new analysis of studies including nearly 80,000 people aged 60 and older confirms that certain types of widely prescribed drugs, such as antidepressants and sedatives, can increase their risk of falling.

Falls often have serious consequences for older people, such as injuries leading to disability and admission to a nursing home, or even death.

Shifting Vaccine for Flu to Elderly

Federal health officials are trying to shift supplies of the seasonal flu vaccine away from chain pharmacies and supermarkets to nursing homes, hoping to counter a shortage that threatens to cause a wave of deaths this winter among the nation’s most vulnerable population.

The extent of the shortage is still unclear, but Janice Zalen, director of special programs for the American Health Care Association, which represents 11,000 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, called it “a very big problem.”

Ms. Zalen said that of 1,000 nursing home managers who responded to a survey of the association’s 11,000 members, 800 reported they could not get enough vaccine.

Dr. Carol Friedman, head of adult immunization at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said she did not have a figure for the size of the shortage, but added, “It’s a problem, and it’s all over the country.”

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Phys Ed: How Necessary Is Stretching?

For research published earlier this year, physiologists at Nebraska Wesleyan University had distance-running members of the school’s track and field team sit on the ground, legs stretched before them, feet pressed firmly up against a box; then the runners, both men and women, bent forward, reaching as far as they could past their toes. This is the classic sit-and-reach test, a well-established measurement of hamstring flexibility. The runners, as a group, didn’t have exceptional elasticity, although this varied from person to person.

Foods That Boost Mood and Fight Holiday Weight Gain

Neither stress nor holiday weight gain need ruin your holidays this year. Here are tips about eating habits and foods that can boost your mood when a stressful situation strikes. You’ll feel calmer – and be trimmer — throughout the holiday season.

Good information and well worth the time reading.

Stopping Weight Gain While Quitting Smoking

Many people who quit smoking gain 10 pounds, but not you.

By Gina Shaw

WebMD Feature

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

TK Baltimore (pronounced “Teak”), 34, a Web developer who lives in New York City, smoked for nearly 20 years. She’s lost track of how many times she tried to quit. Here, she shares how she quit smoking without weight gain, and how you can do it too.

Diet Myth or Truth: Vinegar Helps You Lose Weight

By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

WebMD Expert Column

Can vinegar really help you lose weight? A recent study on mice gave hope to the idea that the acetic acid in vinegar may help trigger fat-burning genes. But until the effects are reproduced in humans, vinegar cannot be considered a weight loss aid.

Apple cider vinegar has long been touted as being good for weight loss, and several apple cider vinegar diets have circulated over the years. The acidic vinegar, along with the fruit pectin from the fermented apples, is supposed to have fat-burning effects.

This has to be one of the most unappealing diets I can imagine. ugh

Roasted Apple and Pear Compote With Candied Ginger

4 apples, preferably on the tart side, peeled, cored and cut into sixths

3 ripe but firm pears, peeled, cored and cut into sixths

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (more to taste)

1 cup apple juice

A handful of golden raisins

2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

2 tablespoons agave syrup

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (to taste)

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon whisky

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a baking dish large enough to accommodate all of the fruit. Fill a bowl with water, and add 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. As you prepare the fruit, put it into the water. When all of the fruit is peeled and sliced, drain and toss with the remaining lemon juice in the baking dish.

2. Combine the apple juice, raisins, ginger, agave syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and whisky in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, and pour over the fruit.

3. Place in the oven, and bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours until the fruit is very soft. Stir gently every 10 to 15 minutes to keep all the fruit moist. Serve warm.

Yield: Serves six.

Advance preparation: You can make this a few hours ahead and reheat. The leftovers are great with yogurt.

Orange Sorbet With Blood Orange Salad

For the sorbet:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 cups strained fresh squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon Cointreau or Grand Marnier (optional)

For the blood orange salad:

6 blood oranges, if available, or substitute tangerines or navel oranges

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (more to taste)

1 tablespoon slivered fresh mint leaves

1. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Boil until the sugar melts, and remove from the heat. Allow to cool while you squeeze the oranges.

2. Place a 1-quart container in the freezer. Combine the strained orange juice, the syrup, lemon juice and Cointreau or Grand Marnier in a bowl. Transfer to an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the sorbet reaches the desired consistency, transfer to the chilled container and freeze for at least two hours. Allow to soften for 15 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.

3. Using a small paring knife, peel away the skin and white pith from the blood oranges or navels (break tangerines into sections). Cut the sections away from the membranes, holding the oranges above a bowl so that you catch all of the juice, then squeeze the shell of membranes above the bowl to catch any remaining juice. Toss with the Grand Marnier and mint. Place one or two scoops of the sorbet in serving bowls, garnish with the blood oranges and their juice, and serve.

Spinach Quiche With a Mediterranean Crust

For the crust:

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

3 tablespoons lukewarm water

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature, beaten

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

1 6-ounce bag baby spinach

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

4 eggs, at room temperature, beaten

3/4 cup low-fat milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (3/4 cup, tightly packed)

1. To make the crust: In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water, add the sugar, and allow to sit until the mixture is creamy, about five minutes. Beat in the egg and the olive oil. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour and the salt. With the processor running, pour in the wet ingredients. Process until the dough comes together on the blade. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead just until smooth; do not overwork the dough. Shape into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, rounded side down first, then turn over, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise in a draft-free spot until doubled in size, about one hour.

2. Meanwhile, place the spinach in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for three minutes, then transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain, squeeze out excess water, and chop fine.

3. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet, then add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, five to eight minutes. Stir in the spinach, and toss together. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.

4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush a 9- X 13-inch baking pan or a 9- or 10-inch tart pan with olive oil. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, gently knead a couple of times and shape into a ball. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, and let rest for five minutes. Then roll out to fit the baking pan or tart pan. Line the pan with the dough, pushing the dough well into the corners and one inch up the sides of the rectangular pan (or all the way up the sides of a regular tart pan). Brush the dough with a small amount of beaten egg. Immediately place in the preheated oven, and pre-bake the pastry for 10 minutes, until just beginning to color lightly on the edges. Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 350 degrees.

5. In a bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Add the milk, salt, and pepper, and beat together until very foamy and light. Stir in the spinach and onion mixture. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the bottom of the pie crust. Carefully pour the egg mixture into the piecrust, scraping out every last bit with a rubber spatula. Place in the oven and bake 40 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned in paces. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

Yield: Serves six

The traditional Quiche uses a pate brise for the crust. This crust is healthier and just a flavorful although a bit more time and work.

Creamy Pasta

1/2 cup nonfat or low-fat cottage cheese

1/4 cup low-fat milk (more as desired)

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus additional for the table

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3/4 pound pasta (such as penne, fusille, spaghetti, fettucine)

1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, place the cottage cheese in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn on the machine, and add the milk with the machine running. Blend until the mixture is smooth and there is no sign of graininess. Blend in the olive oil and the Parmesan, taste, then add salt and pepper as desired. Scrape the cottage cheese mixture into a large pasta bowl.

2. When the pasta water comes to a boil, add the pasta. Cook al dente, following the timing instructions on the package (about eight minutes for penne). Before draining the pasta, add two to three tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to the cottage cheese mixture and stir together.

3. Drain the pasta, toss immediately with the cottage cheese mixture, and serve, passing additional Parmesan at the table.

Variations:

Three minutes before the end of cooking, add two cups broccoli florets to the boiling pasta water. Drain with the pasta and toss with the sauce.

Add to the ingredients one garlic clove, cut in half, green shoot removed. Before adding the cottage cheese, turn on a food processor fitted with a steel blade and drop in the garlic. When the garlic is chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cottage cheese and proceed with the recipe.

Yield: Serves four

Advance preparation: You can reheat this dish in a microwave. The creamy sauce will keep for five days in the refrigerator. You will have to thin it out with pasta cooking water.

Forget the boxed Mac ‘n Cheese, this is much better.

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    • TMC on November 28, 2009 at 3:34 am
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    Don’t forget to wash your hands, frequently and carry a hand sanitizer with a greater than 60% alcohol content for when you can’t.  

  1. With a couple diced Habaneros is heaven….

  2. I would like to try that spinach quiche recipe.  Yum!  I wonder if you can use egg white substitute instead of whole eggs?

     

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