IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  March 1, 2010

The Reuben casserole could become a new Irish tradition

The origins of the Reuben sandwich are widely contested, but it is certain that many a palate has savored the rich deli taste of the corned beef, Swiss cheese and a sauerkraut-laden stack.

One story related to famed chef Craig Claiborne by Patricia Taylor contends that her father, Arnold Reuben, made the first Reuben sandwich in 1927 or 1928 in his New York deli. It was actually rye, ham, and Swiss cheese with a topping of cole slaw and Russian dressing.

Reuben Kulakofsky, a wholesale grocer and restaurateur in Omaha, made the sandwich for his poker buddies and it later appeared on the menu of the Blackstone Hotel.

While the Reuben sandwich could be Jewish or Nebraska homegrown in origin, corned beef is an Irish staple for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Irish Reuben casserole

3 cups toasted pumpernickel bread cut into one-inch cubes
1 pound corned beef deli slices or slices from a boiled slab
12 slices Swiss deli cheese
1 cup sauerkraut
1 bottle Thousand Island dressing for garnish or condiment.

Layer the bottom of a large rectangular glass baking dish with half the cubes of the toasted Pumpernickel.

Layer six slices of the Swiss cheese on top. Next, add a layer of the corned beef and another layer of Swiss cheese.

Spread the sauerkraut evenly over the top of the Swiss cheese layer and spread the remaining toasted cubes of bread on the top. Bake at 350 degrees until the top layer of bread becomes firm and crusty.

Drizzle the dressing lightly across the top and place a bowl of it on the table as a condiment. Green Goddess dressing can be substituted as the drizzle for a St. Paddy’s Day touch.

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Next at the grocery store: Foods with dietary fiber added

Call it fiber fascination. Our search for dietary fiber has prompted food manufacturers to add extra fiber to new or existing products.

The presence of such products increased by 10 percent last year, the beginning of a trend. General Mills, for example, expanded its line of Fiber One cereals to include snack bars, yogurts and baking mixes. Its FiberPlus bars each contain 9 grams of fiber. By the end of 2010, most of its cereals will have at least 2.5 grams.

Fiber is an important part of your diet. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, most women should shoot for over 20 grams of fiber a day. Men should try for more than 30

Besides aiding digestion, getting enough fiber can prevent many physical conditions, including high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. It reduces diabetes risk and helps to maintain a healthy weight.

If you're tired of counting calories, the good news is that you don't actually have to count your grams of fiber, the Harvard doctors say. When you eat a healthy diet, you usually get most of the fiber you need without supplements in foods.

A fiber-rich diet includes fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, breakfast cereals, and all kinds of beans. Eating more plant-based foods will insure that you are getting enough fiber. Of course, if you're a meat-and-potato man who rarely eats fruit or vegetables, the new products are right for you.

If you do decide to add fiber to your diet through enriched foods, do it slowly. Significantly upping your intake all at once can cause some problems. Extra intestinal gas is one and dashes to the bathroom are another.

Doctors at Tufts University say you should study labels to decide whether the product includes extra calories, saturated fat, sugar and salt.


Chuckles Corner

No more than 5 to 9 teaspoons of sugar a day

The American Heart Association recommends cutting back on sugar.

The heavier you are, the more work your heart has to do. That's one reason why the American Heart Association is looking for the causes of weight gain and obesity.

At this time, they are focusing on sugar. It is one of the main culprits in the rising obesity rates in the United States. The association wants everyone to cut way back on added sugar in their diets.

For the first time since 2006, it is presenting new guidelines that recommend sugars added in processing, cooking or at the table total no more than 100 calories a day for women and 150 calories a day for men. That's five to nine teaspoons.

It's a drastic reduction from the 22 teaspoons per day in the present American diet, which is a total of 355 calories. The amount of sugar in the American diet has increased by 19 percent since 1970

One can of non-diet soda can put a woman over the limit. Sweetened drinks are the main cause of increased sugar consumption since 1970


Healthy lifestyle cuts risk of serious diseases

A big study of people ages 35 to 65 shows that having just four healthy habits reduces your risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer by almost 80 percent.

The research by the Centers for Disease Control and colleagues shows the association with four lifestyle factors: Not smoking; eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in meat consumption; getting a half-hour daily of moderate exercise; and avoiding obesity.

Diabetes risk was most sharply reduced by a healthy lifestyle, while cancer was affected the least. Avoiding obesity was most effective in reducing risks, followed by not smoking.

The potential for avoiding society's biggest killers through healthy living is "enormous," say the researchers.


Prevent heart problems, diabetes, more

Being just 'a little more fit' improves longevity, quality of life.

What have you done recently to improve your fitness level?

You might think that because you have exercised off and on throughout your life that you are in pretty good shape. Don't rest on your laurels.

An extensive study by a New Zealand university, cooperating with Stanford in the United States, shows that overall exercise habits during adult life didn't matter very much when it came to current fitness levels.

Recent activity, during the last 16 weeks, was more important.
The doctors followed several thousand middle-aged and older Americans for about nine years. Study subjects were divided into five groups ranging from the least fit to the most fit.

By the end of the study, those who were most fit were the least likely to have died or develop a life-threatening disease. No surprise there.

What did surprise the researchers was the improved outlook between the least fit and those on the next level. They discovered that being just a little more physically active was associated with a big improvement.

At any level, especially the least-fit category, moving up just one more will make a big difference in your life.

Add a little more activity to your day for the next four months and you could prevent a heart attack, diabetes and other serious conditions.

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Healthy, tasty mushrooms

Researchers believe that the maitake mushroom (a fanlike tree fungus) boosts immunity and protects against infections. Some say that mushrooms are medicinal magic.

Dr. Harry Preus, of Georgetown University School of Medicine says the maitake mushroom may be the most potent natural immunity booster ever discovered. Preus is the author of Maitake Magic (Freedom Press).

Maitake capsules, pills, powders and teas are also found in health food stores. Visit maitake.com for pills.

Always store supermarket mushrooms in paper bags. Dry them first and they should last five days in the fridge.

Most women want mammograms for cancer screening

One Gallup Poll shows that many American women under age 50 plan to ignore new recommendations about mammograms. But the poll also shows that most women sharply overestimate their risk of developing cancer.

A week before the poll was taken, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggested that most women don't need routine mammograms until age 50.

Many of those polled thought the panel based its conclusions on cost, even though the task force report included only scientific studies.

Forty percent of those interviewed estimate that a 40-year-old's chance of developing breast cancer over the next decade is 20 percent to 50 percent. The real risk is 1.4 percent, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The task force didn't rule out mammograms under age 50, but suggested that women talk to their doctors about the benefits and risks of screening, which include false alarms and unnecessary treatment such as a biopsy.

Few women realize that for several decades, doctors have hotly debated the use of regular mammograms for women under age 50.


New lines for stem cell study

The National Institutes of Health has approved 13 new human embryonic stem cell lines. They were the first new lines approved for federally funded research since the Bush administration. The Obama administration requires informed consent of donors.

An embryonic stem cell line is a colony of cells grown from one embryo, which is destroyed in the process. The cells can grow into every type of body tissue.

At Rockefeller University in New York, the National Institutes of Health will allow researchers to proceed with the 13 lines. One area of research: development of rejection-free replacement organs.

D2B (door to balloon) effort In heart attacks, doctors knew for many years that clearing clogged arteries within 90 minutes saves lives. But only half of heart attack patients were treated with angioplasty in that time frame.

Angioplasty involves inflating a narrow balloon in the clogged blood vessel to clear it. A heart deprived of blood by a blood clot soon begins to die.

In 2006, American College of Cardiology and 38 other groups started the campaign to improve treatment times.

The Journal of the American College of Cardiology now reports that nearly 80 percent of heart attack patients get angioplasty within 90 minutes. They want to drive the time down more, down so far that all damage is prevented and it's as if there were never a heart attack.

Screening for eye diseases

Scientists at The University of Tennessee have technology that screens for eye diseases, gives feedback in minutes, and tells if medical attention is needed.

Pictures of the eyes are sent to a national database and compared to thousands of known diseases of the eyes, including diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. If disease is found, the database provides a follow-up plan.

The goal is to have such cameras all over the United States.


Get moving to reduce Alzheimer's risk

Research by University of Kansas School of Medicine shows that regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by up to 60 percent.

Exercise has a multitude of benefits for people of every age. For those over age 55, it's even more important. One in 10 men age 55 and older in the United States will develop Alzheimer's. The percentage for women is higher, in part, because they live longer.

Half an hour a day of moderate exercise will do it. Other preventive steps include:

  • Eating fruits and vegetables. They reduce damage to brain cells.
  • A drink or two per day of an alcoholic beverage (one drink a day for women) reduces the risk of cognitive decline, including Alzheimer's.

    Chocolate lovers rejoice

    A U.S. and Swedish study shows that heart-attack patients who had eaten chocolate at least twice a week during the year prior to hospitalization were 66 percent less likely to die.

    The higher the cocoa content in chocolate, the greater the protection. In the United States, milk chocolate has 10 percent cocoa content; dark chocolate has 15 percent. In Sweden, it's 25 percent for milk chocolate, 35 percent for dark.