IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  June 1, 2011

Just wonderful! Crab-stuffed mushrooms

Do you ever dream about the taste of crab-stuffed mushrooms as they are served in the country’s largest seafood restaurants? Try this recipe for size.

These delicious gems can be used as an appetizer or as a starter for a seafood night at home.

Depending on the size of the mushroom caps, the following will produce about 24 to 40. Any leftovers can be reheated in the microwave.

Crab-stuffed mushrooms.

3 8-ounce packages of medium or large button mushrooms
1/2 pound crab claw meat, fresh or canned
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons finely chopped bell pepper.
2 cups crushed oyster crackers
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground Old Bay seasoning
1/4 teaspoon fresh salt
1 egg, beaten
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup Chardonnay wine.

Preheat oven to 400

Wash mushrooms, remove stems and set caps aside. Finely chop about half the stems (the most-tender appearing). Discard others.

Saute celery, shallots, and peppers in one stick of butter for about 2 minutes.

Combine the stems, sauteed vegetables and all other ingredients (except the Parmesan cheese and half the wine) in a medium mixing bowl. Mix well.

Stuff the caps, mounding on the top. Place the caps in a buttered, large but shallow ceramic baking dish.

Sprinkle each stuffed cap with Parmesan cheese and sparingly baste with the remainder of the wine. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until the cheese and stuffing are slightly brown.

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Recent dietary guidelines slash salt intake advice

The most recent federal dietary guidelines for Americans call for salt consumption to be reduced from 2,300 to 1,500 milligrams (mg)

The lower figure was already recommended for 70 percent of American adults, including those with hypertension, all African Americans and everyone over age 40. The prestigious Institute of Medicine wants a crackdown on added salt in foods, arguing that past public-education campaigns have failed.

The institute considered the results in the Interstroke study, which compared data on 6,000 people from 22 countries, half of whom had suffered a stroke and half had not. The study discovered that high blood pressure (hypertension) was the strongest predictor of stroke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 77 percent of dietary sodium comes from processed foods and restaurant items. Also:

  • Grain mixtures, 530 mg/day: from pizza, burritos, tacos, egg rolls, packaged pasta dishes and frozen dinners.
  • Ham, sausages, bacon, lunch meat, 423 mg/day: all have high salt content.
  • Breads, 354 mg/day: two slices can contain 300 mg. of sodium.
  • Meat, poultry and fish, 286 mg/day: all from salt shakers.
  • Cake, cookies and crackers (229 mg/day): two Oreo cookies contain 160 mg of sodium.


    Chuckles Corner

  • What your bones want to tell you

    If your bones could talk, they would first say they are living things that respond to diet and exercise by becoming stronger.

    Until age 20 and up to age 30, bone mass accumulates and grows, peaking in the third decade of life. After that, your bones would say it's up to you to keep them strong. If you don't, bone mass will decrease, year by year, for the rest of your life.

    No matter what your age, regular weight-bearing exercises can not only prevent the loss but can make bones stronger. They include walking and exercising with hand weights.

    Calcium and vitamin D are important factors in bone strength. Adults generally should aim for at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Add 1,000 International Units of vitamin D from food or supplements. You can't absorb calcium without vitamin D.

    Your spine would have a lot to say, especially when it's hurting. It would tell you that its natural curve is a figure 8. As far as the upper back is concerned, your posture is important. If you stand round-shouldered and let your stomach sag, the upper back pays a price.

    When the lower back is tight and hurting, other parts of the body might be responsible. The American Physical Therapy Association says almost all of the leg's thigh muscles are attached to the pelvis, which is interlocked with the spine. If thigh muscles don't keep the pelvis stabilized, the spine is prone to shifting. Lower back muscles become overworked and cause pain.

    Stretching and strengthening thigh and hip flexor muscles can help to keep the spine in shape and pain free.


    Food allergy sufferers rearrange their lives

    Eight foods cause 90 percent of all food allergic reactions. They are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.

    People often blame wheat for their intestinal trouble, but if you suspect pasta, bread, and crackers are making you sick, you might have gluten intolerance.

    Symptoms include abdominal pain, gas, bloating and diarrhea. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. Gluten is in grain-based products such as cereal, bread and beer.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, simple gluten intolerance is not actually a food allergy, but it can cause uncomfortable symptoms.

    Celiac disease

    Serious gluten intolerance is called celiac disease. In this case, gluten triggers the body's immune system. For that reason, it's considered an autoimmune disease. It is often genetic, which means it runs in families, and it has serious implications.

    Peanut and shellfish allergies

    Allergies to some foods, such as peanuts, can be very dangerous, ranging from a minor irritation to a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.

    Food allergies cause 30,000 cases of anaphylaxis a year, requiring 2,000 hospitalizations and causing 150 deaths.

    Shellfish allergies can also cause anaphylaxis. They may be to only certain kinds of shellfish or to all shellfish. The category includes marine animals with shells, such as clams, lobster and shrimp, as well as octopus and squid.

    Special arrangements

    Dining out can be a challenge that begins with careful questioning of restaurant staff about dinner ingredients.

    Going to a buffet or sit-down dinner party can be a problem for the same reason. Some people bring their own food, which may offend the hostess. Some decline such invitations or attend without eating. Food allergies can be socially isolating.
    When traveling, people with food allergies often solve the dining problem by staying in a place where they can cook their own meals.


    Take your medicine...carefully

    To get well or stay well, patients should have prescriptions filled and take them according to the directions. But the Community Pharmacists Association says often that doesn't happen.

  • 49 percent forget to take it
  • 39 percent forgot they took it and took it again
  • 31 percent did not fill a prescription
  • 29 percent stopped taking the medication before the supply ran out
  • 18 percent took someone else's prescription
  • 11 percent received a prescription but substituted an over-the-counter drug
  • 8 percent didn't understand how to take the medication
  • 6 percent took more than .

    If everyone took their medicine as prescribed, more people would get well and their conditions wouldn't turn into something worse.

  • Good news for GERD patients

    Heartburn symptoms caused by GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) are usually relieved by drugs called proton-pump inhibitors such as Prilosec, Prevacid and others.

    The Food and Drug Administration now says these over-the-counter drugs do not appear to be associated with an increased risk of fractures. They scrapped plans to require an update of product labels to warn consumers of the risk.

    Last year the FDA said the proton-pump inhibitors, which suppress acid in the stomach, might be associated with various types of fractures. Now they say that isn't so.

    Babies need 39 weeks in the womb to fully develop

    Some mothers and their doctors believe that inducing labor at 37 or 38 weeks does no harm. Obstetrics groups say for an unborn baby to develop fully, it takes 39 weeks and not a day less.

  • National Institute of Health studies show infants born at 37 or 38 weeks face problems with brain development and function, including psychological, behavior and emotional problems.
  • They are more likely to have vision and hearing problems after birth.
  • Babies born before 39 weeks often can't learn to suck and swallow well. They may not be able to stay awake long enough to eat.
  • Their lungs may not be fully developed until 38 weeks, 6 days. Those born a few days before have increased risk of respiratory problems.
  • Important growth in the liver occurs during the last weeks of pregnancy.

    The March of Dimes is leading a national campaign to reduce early induced deliveries. Insurance companies and government agencies are taking notice.
    About 18 percent of babies electively born at 37 and 38 weeks require expensive neonatal special care for 4.5 days, compared with 4.6 percent of babies delivered at 39 weeks.


    June 5-9 is National Headache Awareness Week

    Doctors focus on tension headaches, the most common kind.

    If it's late afternoon of a hectic day and you begin to feel a band of tightness forming around your head, you're probably getting a tension headache, which could last from 30 minutes to several days.

    It's the most common kind of headache, with about 80 percent of the adult population saying they have had one, 40 percent say they had one recently, and others saying they have them frequently.

    Researchers for the National Headache Foundation say it is the most neglected type of headache being studied, because sufferers don't see their doctors for a tension headache. They treat it themselves with over-the-counter medications, but if they do it frequently, they can suffer rebound headaches.

    For chronic tension headaches, antidepressants called tricyclics (Elavil or Tofranil) are effective in people who have not found relief with over-the-counter medications.

    But these drugs can cause drowsiness

    Anti-seizure drugs, muscle relaxants and migraine medications may also prevent chronic tension headaches, and many do not cause drowsiness.

  • New delivery methods for pain medications include inhalation devices. They allow a drug to enter the bloodstream faster and lead to rapid pain relief.
  • Transdermal patches are helpful for chronic headache patients. One peak time for tension headaches is early morning. They could be caused by interrupted sleep, sleep apnea, awkward sleeping posture, caffeine withdrawal or a hangover.

    Late afternoon is another peak time. Events of the day can cause people to hunch their shoulders, grind their teeth and tense their neck muscles. Eyestrain may contribute to a headache, as can skipping lunch, sitting for long periods without getting up to walk around, and loading up on caffeine.

    Experts stress that people who suffer headaches should see a doctor for a prevention and treatment plan.

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    The sleep-deprived eat more

    Researchers at Columbia University have conducted a test to find out for sure if sleep deprived people actually do consume more calories. Study subjects slept seven to nine hours, or four hours. At first, they ate a controlled diet for four days, then they could eat as much as they wanted on the remaining two days of the study. They did the study twice with subjects getting a different amount of sleep.

    Participants consumed an average of 296 calories when they were sleep-deprived. Most of the extra calories came from high-fat foods, such as ice cream and fast food. Ice cream was the preferred food during the sleep-deprived state.

    Health habits and AMD risk

    New research on the Women's Health Initiative shows that women who eat right, exercise and don't smoke are 71 percent less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in older Americans. The research was done at the University of Wisconsin.