IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  January 1, 2010

Where's the beef? It's shrimp instead

Beef Stroganoff dates back to the 19th century. Although not a new recipe, it is a refined version of an older Russian dish that had probably been in the family of Count Pavel Stroganoff for some years. It became well known through his love of entertaining.

Count Stroganoff was a dignitary at the court of Alexander III, a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts, and a known gourmet. Legend has it that Count Stroganoff had lost all his teeth and his chef had prepared this recipe specially for him.

It is doubtful that it was the chef's invention since the recipe was included in the 1871 Molokhovets cookbook. Here's a new twist on the old recipe.

Shrimp Stroganoff

20 to 25 cooked and deveined shrimp
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
7 tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 teaspoon garlic buds
4 ounce can tomato paste
8 ounce tub fat-free sour cream
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 can beef broth
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Hot buttered egg noodles.

Saute the shrimp briefly in butter but do not overcook. Set aside.
In a large skillet or wok, combine beef broth, onions, mushrooms, salt, butter, garlic, nutmeg and flour. Bring to boil.

Cut in tomato paste and stir until well blended. Add the sour cream and wine. Stir until sauce is smooth, thick and pink.

Add shrimp and cook on medium for ten minutes, stirring constantly.

Serve over a package of prepared egg noodles.

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Optimism and better health

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have found that people who have an optimistic attitude are less likely to develop heart disease and cancer.

To test their attitudes, 100,000 women who were free of any disease were given personality tests to assess their optimism and their "cynical hostility."

During the period of the study, 120 more of the most cynical subjects developed heart disease than did those in the most optimistic group.


Optimism and better health

When the new year rolls around do you feel optimistic about your future? If you do, you have a proven healthy outlook on life. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have found that people who have an optimistic attitude are less likely to develop heart disease and cancer.

To test their attitudes, 100,000 women who were free of any disease were given personality tests to assess their optimism and their "cynical hostility."

During the period of the study, 120 more of the most cynical subjects developed heart disease than did those in the most optimistic group.


Headaches linked to inactivity

Norwegian surveys of more than 68,000 people show that being sedentary may increase the risk of developing frequent headaches.

Over an 11-year period, researchers found that subjects who never exercised were 14 percent more likely to develop non-migraine headaches than exercisers. Participants who reported pre-existing headaches were more likely to be physically inactive.

Study authors say protection against headaches is a good reason for people to lead a more active lifestyle.


Chuckles Corner

New guidelines can help you analyze back pain

The American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society have released a new set of guidelines. They will help doctors and patients classify types of low back pain and plan a course of treatment.

The doctors recommend that a patient think about when and how the pain developed before visiting a physician. At the appointment, a history will be taken that focuses on precipitating circumstances and present symptoms.

There are a few symptoms that can tell you whether your backache is more than the result of too much physical work on the previous day. If there is any loss of sensation or strength in the leg, immediate medical attention is needed. If there is fever, immediate treatment is required.

If pain lasts through the night, you should see a doctor soon.

  • Shooting pain and tingling could be caused by lumbar disc disease.
  • Back pain that intensifies and subsides repeatedly might be caused by a kidney stone.
  • Pain that shoots down one leg to behind the knee is an indication of sciatica.
  • Tender points and pain in the spine, neck, shoulders and hips could be caused by fibromyalgia.
  • Most back pain can be treated without surgery. Physical therapy and education on lifting and movement techniques are recommended.

    To prevent back injuries:

  • Lift with your legs. If you have back problems, don't lift much at all.
  • Stretch daily to keep the back limber and to improve circulation.
  • Keep abdominal muscles strong. They support your back.


    It's the All-American food

    Cook your hamburger thoroughly and you'll stay well.

    As you slide the spatula under that hamburger, you might be thinking about its high cholesterol content. You should be more concerned about something else: E. coli bacteria.

    Unless you are certain that it's cooked thoroughly, cook it longer. There's no way to know whether the meat contains the bacteria. You can't tell by the aroma or the taste.

    It's hard to say how many Americans fall ill every year from E. coli infection, the largest source of which is contaminated ground beef. The best guess is that more than 70,000 people get sick. About 2,000 get sick enough to be hospitalized and some 60 people in the United States will die of it.

    An industry-wide survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year found that one of every 200 samples of ground beef was contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

    It would be impossible to test every package of hamburger, and it takes just a small amount of E. coli to make someone seriously ill. Irradiation has been approved for use by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It treats meat with a low dose of radiation that can kill virtually all bacteria. Public suspicion, however, has prevented its use.

    Producers and the USDA can't guarantee germ-free meat. All consumers can do is to handle it carefully and cook it to 160 degrees, which kills E. coli.

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    How to save your back and your heart but still shovel the snow

    The white stuff drifting down is beautiful. But you have to get rid of it, and start getting rid of it very soon.

    Shoveling snow is a physically demanding job. Check with your doctor to see if you should be doing it at all. If not, or if shoveling is not your thing, prepare ahead by setting up a snow removal service or contracting with a strong neighbor.

  • Before you go out, warm up your muscles and stretch as you would before any exercise. Dress in layers so you can remove one if you get heated up. Extra heat makes the heart beat faster, and you want it to stay at a normal pace.
  • The best time to work on the snow is when it's still falling. It won't be as deep, and it will be loose, powdery or a lot easier to move. At this point, your leaf blower could do the job.
  • If it's already deep, use a smaller, lighter shovel. Start with small loads.
  • Push the snow rather than lifting it whenever you can, even if it's for a small area. Every push avoids a lift.
  • When you do lift, use your legs instead of your back. Face the direction you want the snow to go and throw it without twisting.
  • Do larger areas in segments. The National Safety Council recommends shoveling a while, then resting.


    Healthier turkey sandwich

    If you've added a few extra pounds over the holidays, you may want to cut calories and preserve the taste of foods at the same time. When it comes to a chicken or turkey sandwich, you could reduce calories by more than 200 (or walk for a half hour for the same effect). First, remove the skin from the meat. That's where most of the fat is found.

    Second, use fat-free or low-fat salad dressing on the sandwich. You can load the sandwich with all the lettuce and tomatoes you can eat, because they have very few calories and are healthful.


  • Second wave of H1N1 flu cases expected

    Though vaccine that protects against the H1N1 flu has been available, many parents have not had their children vaccinated.

    Some think that the flu season is subsiding, and because their child has avoided H1N1, there's no need to get them a flu shot now.

    That's not the case. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expect another wave of flu cases this spring. Kids who didn't get an H1N1 shot before should have one now. It will be effective within two weeks and will protect them in March and April.

    Parents may think it's not a serious illness, but thousands of children have been hospitalized and many have died. Immunization is especially important if a child has a medical condition such as asthma or a heart problem.

    Other parents question whether the vaccine is safe. Health authorities, however, say that it is.

    If your children haven't had an H1N1 shot, now is the time to protect them, which also helps to protect you.


    Check your pulse

    Do you know your resting heart rate? It's one of the easiest ways to calculate the health of your heart.

    A study at Georgetown University found that people with the highest resting heart rates, over 76, were more likely to have a heart attack than those with the lowest rate, 62 or under.

    Take your pulse after resting, not talking much and not smoking for 20 minutes. It could be higher on stressful days, when you are very tired or when you are coming down with a cold.

    Check your pulse by placing a finger under your wrist. Count the number of beats for 15 seconds and multiply by four. Or count the beats for a full minute. Drugstore blood pressure machines calculate your pulse rate and blood pressure at the same time.

    Regular exercise can lower a heart rate and relaxation strategies can help too. Breathing exercises, meditation and peaceful music can lower it.


    Stress and (more) overweight

    One Harvard study shows that stress can cause people who are already overweight to put on more pounds. In the Midlife in the United States Study, subjects were followed for nine years. Those with a higher body mass index (BMI) and those who reported greater psychosocial stress gained more weight during the study.

    Men gained when facing financial problems. Stress at work had a greater impact if caused by a lack of decision-making authority and by a lack of opportunity to learn new skills.

    Women's BMI tended to increase in response to job demands, family strains, difficulty paying bills and "perceived constraints in life."

    Recommendations for treating prediabetes

    About one in four American adults has prediabetes. Now, there are guidelines for keeping the condition from progressing to full-blown diabetes. They include:

    Lowering LDL cholesterol levels and increasing HDL, the good kind.

    Lowering triglyceride levels.

    Keeping blood pressure under 130/80 and taking a daily low-dose aspirin.

    Exercise is important. Results of the Diabetes Prevention Program study showed that people who exercised for 30 to 60 minutes five days a week were 71 percent more likely to prevent or delay diabetes than those who didn't.

    Exercise also helped people lose the recommended 10 percent of their body weight.

    When to get 'Urgent Care'

    Doctors at Johns Hopkins University say that if their primary care physician is not available, people with chronic conditions should go to an urgent care center for treatment of a sore throat or deep cut.

    Urgent care centers offer services such as x-rays, on-site lab work, and suturing. Urgent care centers are springing up all over the United States. They're fast.

    For symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, however, go to the emergency room. Only a hospital can help.


    Staying Well

    To help avoid a cold: Keep your feet warm

    A number of studies show that feeling generally cold outside or indoors will not cause a cold. Having cold feet, however, can make you more likely to get one.

    Researchers at Cardiff University's Common Cold Center (Wales, U.K.) say that having very cold feet could jump-start a cold. Cold feet, the doctors explain, cause constriction of the blood vessels in the upper airways, which may reduce your body's defenses against viruses.

    It wouldn't hurt to make yourself comfortable and reduce your chance of a cold at the same time.

    Put on some thick socks if the floor gets drafty when you watch television, and wear them outside when the weather is frigid.