IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  April 1, 2011

An Easter tradition: Hot cross buns

Easter is a time of rebirth and rejoicing, a time to feast on symbolic and traditional food fare. What better than to accent a breakfast buffet or light Easter meal than a plate of steaming hot cross buns?

Hot cross buns with dried fruit


1/2 cup warmed milk
1 package yeast (7 gram)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 egg
5 tablespoons soft unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 to 4 tablespoons dried cherry bits, citron, or raisins
2 tablespoons lemon or orange zest.


1 egg white beaten
3 tablespoons granulated sugar.


1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

For the dough, stir together the milk, yeast and half teaspoon of granulated sugar. Set aside until foamy. In another large bowl, mix 2 cups of flour, remaining sugar and spices. Add half of this flour mixture to the milk mixture. Beat until combined.

Add the butter and egg and stir until smooth. Add the remainder of the flour and mix until the dough forms. Knead the dough for 10 minutes. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a floured bread board, knead in the zest and fruit bits. Roll the dough into a 12-inch log and cut into one-inch slices. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand 10 minutes.

For the wash: In a small bowl, thoroughly beat the egg white and add 3 tablespoons of sugar. Brush on buns.

Place buns on the greased baking pan 1 1/2 inches apart. Allow to rise until double in size, about 45 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes. Remove and cool for 10 minutes.

For the icing: Beat the confectioners sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, cream and vanilla until thick. Place in a pastry bag and using a tip about an eighth inch apply the cross design to the tops.

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To lose weight, sleep more

Diet and exercise are important when you want to lose weight, but unless you get a good night's rest, pounds are likely to stay where they are.

One study found that overweight adults lost 55 percent less fat when they got 5 1/2 hours of sleep a night compared to adults who slept 8 1/2 hours. And the sleep restricted group lost more muscle mass, which slows metabolism.

David Rapoport, MD, associate professor and director of the Sleep Medicine Program at the New York University School of Medicine, says doctors have long known that hormones are affected by sleep. It wasn't until recently that appetite and the influence of leptin and ghrelin entered the picture. Doctors found that both can influence our appetite. And studies show that production of leptin and ghrelin are influenced by how much we sleep.

If leptin and ghrelin are at low levels, a person will feel more hungry throughout the following day and will eat more.


Chuckles Corner

April is Cancer Control Month

Help cancer society save lives by reducing your own risk.

The American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. They want to prevent cancer, save lives and diminish suffering from cancer.

Their goals, by 2015, are to reduce cancer mortality by 50 percent, to reduce the incidence of cancer by 25 percent, and to improve the quality of life for cancer patients. How can you help the organization reach its goals and save lives, including your own? Think about this:

  • You could help reduce cases of skin cancer. It's not that difficult for you as an individual, but if many people stay out of the midday sun, cover exposed areas of the skin when outdoors and wear plenty of sunscreen, skin cancer can be avoided.
  • Protecting children, who are outdoors more than adults, is especially important. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer.
  • Believe the facts about smoking and lung cancer. It's the leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women. In order to quit, you have to do more than read statistics. You need to make a personal commitment. Over-the-counter nicotine replacement products and prescription medications can help you start, but it takes great dedication to quit for a lifetime. You can do it.
  • Your anti-cancer lifestyle is much the same as that recommended for a healthy heart and avoidance of other diseases. You'll get a big bang for your buck if you decide to eat a healthy diet, avoid weight gain (or lose weight if you should) and get some exercise on most days of the week. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can't be done instantly, but if you steadily work toward it, you can save your own life. Think about it every day and make a plan.
  • Take early detection seriously. Many cancers are curable if found early, including cancer of the colon, prostate, cervix and breast. Ask your doctor for a screening schedule.
  • Get immunized. Immunizations are available for Hepatitis B, which can lead to liver cancer, and for human papillomavirus for people under age 26, which can lead to cervical cancer.
  • Practice safe sex to avoid HIV or AIDS, which increases the risk of several types of cancer.

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    The worst excuse: No time to take care of yourself

    People have lots of excuses for not thinking about health and getting in shape. Lack of time is the most common excuse, says best-selling author Bob Greene in his book The Life You Want: Get Motivated, Lose Weight and Be Happy.

    He studied peoples' schedules and found they all had time every day that would be better spent being physically active. He asks, "Who doesn't have 30, 40 or 60 minutes a day to exercise and take care of themselves?"

    Green says exercise aversion is another cause. Even his most famous client, Oprah Winfrey, didn't like to exercise.

    People avoid it because they don't want to experience the discomfort of working at it. But discomfort means you are exerting yourself enough to burn calories and improve your health. Some people exercise while watching TV or walking with a friend.

    Once a week, it's important to make a healthy week's menu instead of just eating whatever is in the fridge.

    Buy fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, whole grain bread and crackers, plus meat, but not too much. Skip the processed foods and fatty snacks.

    The good news is that successful dieters take a break on one or two days of the week. Within reason, they eat whatever they want, such as a few slices of pizza but not the whole pie.

    Put health on your time-management plan. When you are stronger and healthier, you'll do everything better.


    Higher B6 intake lowers lung cancer odds

    After decades of decline, the smoking rate in the United States has plateaued over the past five years. About one in five.

    American adults is a smoker, according to a study released in September 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control.

    Now, new research shows that higher levels of vitamin B6 and a common amino acid called methionine may reduce the risk of lung cancer, the world's most common cause of cancer death.

    Reported by Tufts University, a European study of 400,000 participants showed that higher levels of B6 and methionine reduced rates of lung cancer by 56 percent, regardless of whether or not a person smoked.

    Foods high in vitamin B6 include fortified breakfast cereal, potatoes, bananas, garbanzo beans, trout, and lean beef and pork.

    Foods higher in the amino acid methionine include animal protein, seeds (especially sesame seeds), nuts (particularly Brazil nuts), and cereal grains.


  • Stroke is no longer the third leading killer

    Healthier lifestyles, better blood pressure control and cholesterol management by Americans are credited with moving stroke down a notch.

    Instead of being the third leading killer, it has moved to number four behind heart disease, cancer, and chronic respiratory disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    While improved treatments can take some of the credit for the improvement, better stroke prevention is having an even greater effect.

    Treating risk factors

    The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association report that metabolic syndrome is defined as having risk factors such as high blood pressure, high tryglycerides, Low HDL cholesterol, a large waist circumference and elevated fasting glucose.

    Screening just for metabolic syndrome may not be effective. Stroke specialists quoted in Duke Medicine say each component is a risk factor that should be treated individually.

    Fixing the carotids

    When medication and lifestyle can't halt narrowing of the carotid arteries, the blood vessels on either side of the neck, options include implanting a stent or having surgery to remove the blockage. Carotids are the arteries that carry oxygenated blood to the brain.

    Surgery isn't advised for those with general coronary artery disease.

    Stroke prevention advice

  • Treat blood pressure to a goal of 140/90 mm Hg or less.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables for weight control and potassium.
  • Talk to your doctor about daily aspirin use.
  • Limit alcohol consumption to two drinks per day for men, one for women.
  • Treat sleep apnea.
  • Exercise moderately for at least 150 minutes per week.
  • Know your family history of stroke.
  • Ask your doctor about statin therapy.


    New breast cancer drug comes from deep in the sea

    The Food and Drug Administration has approved Eisai Co.'s Halaven for treating late-stage breast cancer. It was developed in conjunction with Harvard University.

    Halaven derives from halichondrin B, a substance identified in a black sponge that lives off the coast of Japan. Studies show it has a powerful effect on tumors, blocking cell division in a way scientists hadn't previously thought of.

    At the National Cancer Institute, they say primitive creatures developed clever ways to kill each other after billions of years of evolution. Some can be turned to human use, such as those used by the black sponge.

    CT scans detect lung cancer

    A large study shows that using CT scans to screen smokers and ex-smokers for lung cancer could reduce deaths by 20 percent. The scan catches lethal tumors at an earlier, more treatable age.

    Until now, there has never been a reliable way to do this.

    Nearly 160,000 Americans die of lung cancer each year. It is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. The American Cancer Society says avoiding tobacco, which causes 87 percent of lung cancers, is still the best way to prevent all smoking-related illnesses, which kill more than 400,000 Americans a year.

    CTs cost about $300, but that doesn't include the cost of follow-up tests, which 25 percent of patients needed.

    Bilinguals delay Alzheimer's

    A study reported in Nature shows that in people with early signs of Alzheimer's disease, bilingual adults delayed the actual onset of Alzheimer's by five years. The researchers suggest that mastering two languages creates a reserve in the brain that can delay decline. Brain scans showed a similar progression of the disease in one- and two-language speakers, but bilinguals had fewer symptoms such as memory loss and difficulty planning.


    Weight Watchers allows zero points for fruits, vegetables

    The company, which since 1997 has helped millions of dieters lose weight through its point system has changed its values. Previously, dieters could eat whatever they wanted, as long as they kept portions under control.

    Now, company president David Kirchhoff concludes, on Weight Watchers website, that calorie counting has become unhelpful.

    Quoted in Time, he says, "When we have a 100-calorie apple in one hand and a 100-calorie pack of cookies in the other, and we view them as being the same because the calories are the same, it says everything that needs to be said about the limitations of just using calories in guiding food choices."

    The new point system favors food that is high in protein or fiber (0 points for fruit and vegetables except starchy ones like potatoes) and higher points for foods loaded with carbohydrates, which are easily absorbed and turned into fat.