IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  March 1, 2011

Angie's pork casserole is a meal in a dish

Whether it's for a church social, an office party or tonight's dinner, the casserole has grown to become an American tradition. It's often a meal in a dish or at least an entree with one side dish.

Casseroles could have been imagined by someone who was tired of washing pots and pans or by a chemistry teacher bedazzled with the cooking arts. We may never know.

Angie's dish combines lean pork tenderloin with a few staples found in every pantry. It makes a delicious and attractive meal center for any table, and it also includes four of the major food groups.

Angie's pork casserole

4 to 6 pieces of thinly sliced pork tenderloin
1 package chicken flavor stuffing mix
1/2 package au jus mix
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can mushroom soup.

Prepare stuffing in 2-quart pan as directed on package, adding the celery, onion and au jus mix.

Put a layer of pork tenderloin on the bottom of a baking pan. Add a layer of the stuffing and then add a second layer of the meat.

Pour condensed soup over the top and spread evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees until the top of the mixture is slightly brown.

Add a side of seasoned green beans, buttered asparagus or peas, along with a tossed salad and hot rolls, and the meal is complete.

For more lavish fare, a light dessert can be added and all of it washed down with a cup or coffee or a big glass of iced tea.

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Botox injections approved to reduce migraine

There's a new wrinkle in migraine treatment: Botox.

A new version of Allergan, Inc.'s famous cosmetic treatment for lines and wrinkles has now been approved as a migraine treatment.

Scientists say botulinum toxin (the ingredient in Botox) blocks chemicals responsible for muscle contractions and pain in migraine sufferers.

About 14 million people experience debilitating migraine attacks. Attacks last from four to seventy-two hours, according to the Migraine Research Foundation, a New York nonprofit.

Two major studies now show injecting Botox can reduce the number of days chronic sufferers have headaches.

Allergan recommends 31 shots a session in seven separate locations on the head, neck and shoulder. The cost is from $1,000 to $1,500 and is sometimes covered by insurance. The shots must be repeated every three months.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the treatment has been found effective on chronic migraine sufferers who experience episodes more than 15 days a month. Some studies have shown mixed results and the treatment may not be effective for everyone.

Side effects of the botulinum toxin can include temporary weakness in facial muscles. Eyes may not close fully or eyelids may droop temporarily. However, Allergan experts say very serious side effects are unlikely at the approved dose.


Avoid a stroke

Many "brain attacks" can be prevented even if several have occurred in your family history. The answer lies in controlling factors that add to the likelihood of a stroke. The three conditions you can control are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

You will set yourself up for a repeat of your family history if you smoke cigarettes, weigh too much, drink too much and don't exercise.

High blood pressure is the No. 1 risk factor for stroke. About one in five Americans have it, but some don't even know it. Others know they have it but don't take their medication regularly.

High cholesterol and diabetes damage the veins and arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain.

It will be helpful if you can lose weight and quit smoking. But if you have one or all three of the big risk factors, you need to follow the advice of your doctor and keep regularly scheduled appointments to check on your conditions.


Chuckles Corner

March, National Nutrition Month

How to interpret the FDA food pyramid

Do you feel as though you can't keep up with the latest nutrition news because it's always changing? Knowing these basics, you'll be better equipped to sort through the latest information.

What foods are in the grain group?

Any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain is a grain product. Bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products.

What's in the vegetable group?

Any vegetable or 100 percent vegetable juice counts as a member of the vegetable group. In cooking, vegetables may be used raw, cooked, frozen, canned, dried or dehydrated.

What foods are in the fruit group?

Any fruit or 100 percent fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group. Fruits may be used fresh, canned, frozen or dried and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed.

What foods are in the milk group?

All fluid milk products and many foods made from milk are considered part of this food group. Foods made from milk that retain their calcium content are part of the group, while foods made from milk that have little to no calcium, such as cream cheese, cream and butter, are not. Most milk group choices should be fat-free or low-fat.

How about the meat group?

Foods made from meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, peas, eggs, nuts and seeds are considered part of this group. Dry beans and peas are part of the FDA's meat group as well as the vegetable group.

Fish, nuts and seeds contain healthy oils, so choose these foods frequently instead of meat or poultry.
What are oils?

Oils are fats that are liquid at room temperature. They come from many different plants and from fish. Some common oils are: canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, olive oil,safflower, soybean and sunflower oil.

A number of foods are naturally high in oils, like nuts, olives and avocados.


Reduce arthritic wrist pain, increase function

Wrist arthritis is common in older adults. Often, it develops as the result of a past trauma or fracture, but there are simple steps that can reduce pain and increase function.

  • Learn the difference between general discomfort and pain resulting from strain or overuse. For example, if you have arthritis in one wrist and it hurts to turn a doorknob, use the other hand. Or install lever type door handles.
  • Apply heat, cold or both. An electric heating pad or warm water soaks can ease pain and stiffness. An ice pack or cold water soaks can reduce pain from a flare-up caused by too much activity.

    Contrast baths can also be helpful. Soak hands in warm water for 10 minutes. Then switch to cold water for one minute. Or cycle back and forth for half an hour and end with warm water.

  • Apply a topical prescription pain reliever gel like Voltaren or Solaraze.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers can help. Acetaminophen, (Tylenol and others), Advil has the lowest risk of side effects.
  • Wear a splint to limit movement during a wrist-intensive activity.

    If pain persists, ask your doctor for a prescription pain medication or corticosteroid injections.


    Active workers have a lower risk of heart disease

    If your job keeps you on the move, that type of work is good for your heart. Researchers studied 60,000 people and discovered that as the level of physical activity went up, heart risks went down. Study participants were age 25 to 64 and were followed for about 18 years.

    As expected, both moderate and high levels of leisure-time physical activity were associated with lower likelihood of developing heart failure. Commuting to work in a way that burns calories, such as walking or biking, was also linked to lower heart risks.

    Those who have inactive jobs, like working at a computer, could raise the activity level by walking up and down the stairs, taking a walk at lunch break or visiting the gym for relaxation and exercise.

    Study subjects with the lowest heart failure risk had physical activity at work, at play and during their commute.


    National Cherry Blossom Festival

    March 26 - April 10, 2011.

    Washington, D.C. welcomes the arrival of spring with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, a tradition that showcases the beautiful gift of 3,000 cherry trees that the city of Tokyo gave to our nation's capital. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual two-week, city-wide event featuring more than 200 international cultural performances and over 90 other special events. From arts and exhibits to cuisine and sports, there are many different family activities. The Cherry Blossom Parade is April 9.

    The blossoming cherry trees symbolize the arrival of spring and brighten the area surrounding the Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin with their pink and white blooms.
    The National Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off the busy tourist season in Washington, D.C. and includes many special events near the monuments and the museums on the National Mall.


  • Here's what to do about spring allergies

    About 60 million Americans may perhaps be excused if they do not share in the raptures of spring.

    That's the estimated number of people who suffer from allergies to spring pollens.

    Studies by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, in New Orleans, suggest that the duration of the suffering season seems to be increasing. One surprising reason: More trees than 100 years ago.

    Most allergy sufferers have itchy, watery, red eyes during the allergy season. Eye problems are a neurological reflex that starts in the nose, travels to the brain and back to the eyes and nose again.

    Doctors at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., say sufferers first try to treat themselves with over-the-counter medications. There are many effective eye drops, such as mast cell stabilizing agents, antihistamines and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for relieving redness.

    One caution: Using decongestant eye drops (as opposed to simple saline drops) for a long period of time can lead to increased pressure in the eye. Chronic use could lead to glaucoma.

    If over-the-counter meds don't relieve your allergy symptoms, see your doctor. Many prescription drugs are available.

    New prescription nasal sprays shrink swollen nasal passages.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, there are also a variety of prescription antihistamines and leukotriene inhibitors that may work for you. Short term oral steroids can be prescribed for those with severe symptoms.

    Adults and children who are tired of their spring and fall allergies, and their efforts to treat them, should consider allergy shots. After taking them twice a month for six months, a maintenance shot is given once a month for two to five years. In time, you may not need shots at all.

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    'Eat down the fridge'

    It's an expression borrowed from the Great Depression era that means eating foods you already have instead of buying more.

    The idea is a healthy one, since the largest percentage of food thrown away is made up of vegetables and fruit. Kim O'Donnel, author of The Meatlover's Meatless Cookbook, challenges you to be resourceful for a week or longer in order to reduce food waste.
    According to Jonathan Bloom in his book, American Wasteland, Americans annually throw away about 197 pounds of food per person.


    Low-dose aspirin reduced cancer risk, study finds

    A heart disease study has produced surprising results about cancer. Researchers followed more than 25,000 study subjects who took low-dose aspirin (or placebo) to see if it lowered their risk of heart disease. Researchers were surprised to discover that cancer risk was reduced by 21 percent in those who took aspirin.

    The five-year study, reported in Time, suggests that aspirin might become a tool for cancer prevention.

    New lupus drug gets approval from FDA panel

    The first new lupus treatment in more than 50 years has been recommended for approval by an FDA advisory panel.

    The drug, Benlysta, was developed by Human Genome Sciences, and is expected to be a big seller.

    An estimated 1.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with lupus. It can cause painful inflammation and tissue damage almost anywhere in the body.

    Benlysta has been shown to hold off flare-ups. Rheumatologists say the new drug is "incredibly important."

    Exercise strengthens bones, holds off osteoporosis

    Several studies show a strong association between exercise and improvements in bone mineral density. Because bone is living tissue, certain types of exercise can make it stronger.

    The pull of muscle on bone stimulates the bone to grow, incorporate minerals and become stronger. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, racket sports and volleyball, make bone and muscle work together to build strength.

    A combination of weight-bearing exercise and resistance-training exercise additionally builds up the muscles that support the skeleton, improving posture and improving balance to help avoid falls that lead to fractures.


    Professional carpet cleaning is good for your carpet and your health

    Steam cleaning is the most thorough method of carpet cleaning and most likely to restore the lush appearance of your carpet. Even traffic wear can sometimes be prevented.

    Running the vacuum cleaner and using a store-bought carpet shampoo machine can't remove deep dirt particles from between the carpet fibers. The particles are sharp and you press on fibers when you walk on the carpet. Fibers can be cut, which results in wear patterns and a shortened carpet life.

    Professional deep cleaning removes allergens such as those caused by dust mites living deep in the carpet and pollen from trees, grass and flowers.

    Children and adults who have asthma or allergies will feel better and be less likely to get a respiratory infection after these allergens are removed.