IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  February 1, 2008

A gift of the Roaring 20s: The Hot Brown

The Hot Brown was born in the Roaring 20s at a time when flappers danced all night and wanted a hearty meal to keep them going. The Hot Brown was just the ticket.

The Hot Brown sandwich is a open-face concoction of bread, meats, and melted cheeses. Chef Fred K. Schmidt of Louisville, Kentucky's Brown Hotel invented the treat to please the hotel's 2,500 annual guests.

Bored with routine fare, he drew from staples in his kitchen to create a sandwich that would satisfy hungry dancers taking a midnight break between two sets of the big band music. Often ordering ham and eggs, the dancers soon made the transition to Fred's melted delight.

Traditional ingredients include turkey, bacon, and pimentos, covered with mornay sauce.

Since that time, several variations, in restaurants and cookbooks, have shifted makings to include ham, bacon, and turkey, covered with melted cheddar cheese sauce and often garnished with slices of tomato.

Hot Brown Crowd Pleaser

To serve four, start by toasting 8 slices of rye bread or Texas toast and set aside. In a 2-quart sauce pan, place 2 cans of condensed cheddar cheese soup, 6 tablespoons of milk, 6 tablespoons of butter, and 4 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Warm slowly over a medium heat, constantly stirring until the sauce becomes warm and smooth.

Additionally, crispy-fry or micro-wave 16 slices of bacon and set aside. At this point, the sauce may be kept warm for an upcoming meal or the sauce and toast set aside for a later time.

Before serving, place the slices of toast under the broiler and melt 1 slice of Swiss cheese on each.

Place 2 pieces of the cheese-covered toast on each plate and heap with shaved ham, shaved turkey, and 4 pieces of bacon.

Warm the sauce to piping hot and pour lavishly over the sandwich ingredients.

Serve immediately. As desired, tomatoes, pimentos, or sliced hot peppers may be added.


February is American Heart Month

The choices you make today could boost your heart health right now. We know what we're supposed to be writing: Exercise, eat right, don't smoke, and check our blood pressure. There are a lot of scary statistics that prove this advice to be correct. But you've already heard them all. Maybe the numbers convinced you to make changes in your life. Maybe not.

In either case, thinking small about heart health does make a difference, and it doesn't take much time or effort. You can do it today or tomorrow.

Eat an apple or a pear instead of a donut. Fruit tastes good. You'll be less likely to gain weight, which would make your heart work harder.

Walk with the dog or the kids instead of watching television. You'll enjoy it, and new studies show that the condition of your arteries improves immediately, not just in years to come.

Do something you really want to do instead of lighting a cigarette. Every cigarette counts. Your blood pressure bounces up every time you light one.

Park farther away from the store instead of right in front of it. That little walk is good for your heart.

Order broiled fish instead of batter fried. A meal high in saturated fat causes arteries to stiffen right away.

Check your waist-to-hip ratio. Search for waist-to-hip ratio on the Web. There are several easy sites that let you enter your numbers. They tell you whether you need to improve.

Women, check the American Heart Association's http://www.GoRedForWomen.org or call (888) MY-HEART for information about lowering your personal risk.

Whether you are in your 20s, 40s, or 60s, it's important to take care of your heart. Sometimes, just taking the small steps makes a big difference. It's never too soon or too late to start.


This nasal spray can bust cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are intensely painful. They usually strike on one side of the head and near the eye. Sometimes their pain radiates to the temple, forehead, cheek, nose, or upper gum.

A prescription nasal spray called zolmitriptan has now been found to provide fast and effective relief. A study published in the journal Neurology showed that within 30 minutes, 63 percent of patients who took the 10 mg dose of the nasal spray experienced pain relief.
Zolmitriptan also comes in a 5 mg dose, but it proved to be less effective with only half of patients reporting pain relief.

Cluster headaches come on suddenly and can last from minutes to hours over a period of days, weeks, or months. They are more common in men and may appear as early as age 20 but they are more likely to occur in men at age 40

Though researchers aren't sure why, cluster headaches don't usually appear in women until they reach their 60s.


Getting rid of household germs can help you avoid colds, and more

The word is out about hand washing. If you do it right and often, you can get rid of bacteria that could make you sick. But attacking germs where you pick them up makes it less likely you'll get them on your hands in the first place.

In the kitchen: Sink handles, sinks, and counters are the biggest offenders. Clean sinks, sink drains, and counters with antibacterial soap at least once a day. Wash your sponge in the dishwasher to kill germs.

Fresh vegetables and fruits: They may carry salmonella, campylobacter, or E. coli, say microbiologists at New York University. Rinse them thoroughly.

In the laundry: Add bleach to a load of white clothes that includes underwear. It kills virtually all of the germs on underwear so they don't spread. Move the load immediately to the dryer and dry at a high temperature.

In the bathroom: Use a disinfecting cleaner on the bathtub weekly. If someone with a skin infection uses the tub, wash it with bleach right away so you don't pick up the germs.

Shared devices: Use antibacterial cleaner frequently on telephones, TV remotes, door handles, and shared keyboards, especially if someone in the household has an illness.


Zumba puts the rhumba in your workout

Zumba! It's the new fitness program that is sweeping the nation and it's doing it to a Latin beat. The program is based on the premise that exercise should be fun and leave the participants feeling good.

It was developed by fitness expert Alberto "Beto" Perez and takes its name from a Colombian word meaning to move fast and have fun.

The story goes that Perez walked into one of his fitness classes and realized he had forgotten his aerobics music. He grabbed the CDs he had in his car, a mixture of salsa and merengue, improvised a class, and realized he had come up with a new concept in the fitness arena. His students loved it.

Zumba mixes body-sculpting movements with dance steps including salsa, mambo, rumba, and calypso. A variety of fast and slow rhythms provide a cardiovascular workout and an energetic, entertaining experience at the same time.

In 2003, Zumba teamed with Kellog's to develop a fitness campaign for the Hispanic market. Kellog has expanded the program to additional countries and now Zumba is on a roll throughout the United States.

If Zumba is not offered at your local fitness center or spa, DVD's and videos of the program are available for an at home workout.

For more information on Zumba workshops and programs, check their Web site at http://www.zumba.com. Classes are available in most locations.


Fight bone loss once a year

A new osteoporosis drug can be taken just once a year. Reclast (zoledronic acid) is given intravenously. The infusion takes about 15 minutes and can be done at a doctor's office. Taken for three years, it decreases the risk of fractures by 70 percent.


Caffeine may protect memory in women

A recent study shows that drinking coffee may protect women's ability to think and remember, especially as they grow older. Reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, those who drank more than three cups of coffee per day (or the equivalent in tea) had less decline in memory over time than those who drank one cup or less.

The benefits increased with age with coffee drinkers being 30 percent less likely to have a decline in memory at age 65 and 70 percent less likely at age 80 and beyond.

The research did not show the same effect in men. They may metabolize caffeine differently.

Cell therapy for bad knees

Harvesting a problem knee's cartilage cells could soon result in a patient growing healthy new cartilage. It's possible with Carticel technology.

The procedure includes sending a piece of cartilage harvested by biopsy through a process that enables it to grow new cells. The doctor places a patch over the damaged area of cartilage. Then the cultured cells are injected in liquid form beneath the patch, where they can grow into new cartilage.

The Carticel system is offered by Genzyme, a Massachusetts biotech firm.

Avoiding AMD

Age-related macular degeneration can begin far earlier than when it is diagnosed. Researchers at Tufts University found diet to be a factor. In a study of people age 55 and older, they found those who ate foods which cause a spike in blood sugar levels (mainly carbohydrates) were significantly more likely to develop advanced AMD, the most common cause of blindness in older adults, than those who ate more foods that were lower on the glycemic index. They conclude that 20 percent of AMD cases could have been prevented with a diet lower in carbohydrates.


Wine headache is genetic

Does it happen to you? You have a nice dinner and some wine. A few hours later, you've got a pounding headache. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, they say the red wine headache can also come from sake, another wine.

If you are sensitive to the amines in red wine and sake, including tyramine, histamine, and others, indulging can not only give you a headache but it can make your heart race. Heart specialists warn that in people sensitive to them, amines can trigger sudden high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and an elevated adrenalin level.

Lower levels of amines occur naturally in aged, pickled, and fermented goods, chocolate, and some cheeses, olives, nuts, and cured meat.

Virgin olive oil is best

Many people have switched from regular vegetable oil to olive oil for their salads and cooking. The phenols in olive oil reduce the danger of blood clots, which could cause a heart attack or stroke.

Researchers reporting in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have found that pure virgin olive oil has a far higher phenol content than other forms. It's a better choice.

Make your own granola

To put more whole grains into your life and have some great snacks, try this simple granola recipe offered by http://www.cdkitchen.com:

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries.

Bake at 300 for 40 minutes, stirring often. Cool and put in several sealed plastic bags.