IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  September 1, 2013

Mexican chilaquiles move from home fare to chef's specialties

A simple breakfast food served in every Mexican mom and pop diner across America, chilaquiles can be elevated to a grander dish and become fancy brunch items.

In Mexico, chilaquiles (chee-la-KEE-les) have become a favorite for guests in hotels like the Hilton or Sheraton.

They're a Mexican comfort food, a traditional, home-style staple using tortillas, smothered in either red or green salsa, and topped with anything from shredded chicken to crumbled cheese, onions, and even an egg.

Serve chilaquiles from the skillet, from a casserole dish, scooped onto plastic plates or artfully arranged on your best china.

Quick and Easy Chilaquiles

  • 6-8 tortillas cut into six wedges
  • 1 15-ounce can red or green chile sauce (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema (like sour cream or crème fraiche)
  • 1/2 cup fresh Mexican queso fresco cheese, crumbled (or feta)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro for garnish
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced and separated into rings. Drain them on paper towels. Repeat this process until all the tortillas are toasted. Season with salt.

    Use a paper towel to wipe out the skillet; turn down the heat to medium, add 1 more tablespoon of oil. Add the sauce. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the tortillas a few at a time to avoid breaking them. If you're using the chicken, add to the skillet and coat with the salsa. Cook another 2 minutes.

    In another skillet, gently fry 4 eggs sunny-side up.

    Serve on four plates; top with the egg and garnish with crumbled cheese, cilantro and 2-3 onion rings. Drizzle with the Mexican crema.

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    The Lighter Side ...

    Longevity questions

    After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, my new doctor said I was doing "fairly well" for my age. A little concerned, I asked him, "Do you think I'll live to be 80?"

    Then he asked, "Do you smoke tobacco or drink beer or wine? Do you eat steaks and barbecued ribs? Do you spend time in the sun playing golf, sailing, or bicycling?" I said no to all.

    He looked at me and asked, "Then why do you want to live to be 80?"


    One evening during a violent thunderstorm a mother was tucking her small boy into bed. She was about to turn off the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"

    The mother smiled. "I can't dear," she said. "I have to sleep in Daddy's room."

    The little boy replied with a shaking voice, "The big sissy."


    Pearls of Wisdom

    Our self-image and our habits tend to go together. Change one and you will automatically change the other.

    Dr. Maxwell Maltz, surgeon, author of self improvement books

    The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.

    Eleanor Roosevelt: Former First Lady of the United States

    We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.

    Carlos Castaneda, Peruvian-American author and student of anthropology

    Miracles happen to those who believe in them.

    Bernard Berenson: American art historian

    Chuckles Corner

  • How to prevent motion sickness

    Sometimes called sea sickness or car sickness, this disturbance of the inner ear can also be caused by turbulence in an airliner. Tips on how to avoid it:

  • Before the trip, don't drink alcohol or eat foods that don't agree with you.
  • Choose the right seat: the front seat of a car, in a lower middle cabin of a cruise ship, or a seat over the wing of an airliner. On a train or boat, never sit facing backwards.
  • In a car or boat, focus on the horizon or a fixed point.
  • Breathe fresh air.
  • Stay away from those who are sick or talking about motion sickness.
  • The CDC recommends taking an over-the-counter medication containing meclizine (Dramamine, Bonine or Antivert).
  • For longer trips, and for those who develop severe motion sickness, the doctor can prescribe a medication. One example is a medication patch containing scopolamine that often is effective in preventing motion sickness.

    Remember that scopolamine can cause drowsiness and has other side effects. Its use should be discussed with your physician prior to your trip.


    Statins could have some side effects

    Although statins are credited with saving countless lives because of coronary artery disease, some people don't want to take them. They're concerned about safety, but there are few problems related to statins.

  • Muscle weakness. There is some risk, but experts say it's relatively uncommon. Clinical trials find the same number of statin takers reporting muscle weakness as people who take the placebo. Still, researchers at the Atherosclerosis Research department of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute say 5 to 10 percent of people taking statins may experience a mild muscle problem, usually weakness.
  • Diabetes. The FDA now requires statin labels to warn about an increased risk of elevated sugar and type 2 diabetes. Most people who have diabetes shouldn't take statins.
  • Liver inflammation. Research has found that statin-related liver problems are rare and seldom progress to serious disease. The FDA advises taking a blood test for liver problems before starting statin therapy.
  • Fatigue. A study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine found statin users were more likely to report increased fatigue with exertion. A new Harvard study shows that fatigue was reported in only 1 of 300 statin users.
  • Memory problems. In the Harvard study only about 1 in 1,500 statin users reported memory problems. Other studies show that statins reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.


    Buying eggs

    It doesn't matter whether they are brown or white, the nutritional value is the same.

    Discard any eggs that are broken, which can lead to contamination.

    Buy large eggs to use in recipes. That's the size used to test recipes.

    Eggs are good for at least 4 to 6 weeks after the sell-by date if you store them correctly.


    No time to exercise? Try the 2-minute drill

    You can wake up your metabolism with this 2-minute drill. It's featured in the fitness book Belly Off! Diet, written by Jeff Csatari, the editors of Men's Health and fitness expert David Jack.

    Though the drill was developed for men, the principles apply to women too.

    The authors suggest working out in the morning before work.

    Perform this eight-calisthenic circuit at a work effort of 6 to 7 on a 1 to 10 scale. Do each exercise for 15 seconds, then immediately move to the next.

  • jumping jacks
  • prisoner squats *
  • high knee skips
  • side-to-side hops
  • pushups
  • crunches
  • mountain climbers **
  • body weight thrusters ***

    * Prisoner squats: Stand with your fingertips behind your ears, your ches. Sit back at your hips and bend your knees to lower your body as far as you can without losing the natural arch of your spine. Keep your head up. Squeeze your gluteals and push yourself back to start position.

    ** Mountain climbers: Start in a pushup position. Keeping your head in line with your body, bring your right knee to your chest. As you straighten the right leg to start position, bring your left knee to your chest. Keep your weight on the balls of your feet and "climb" alternating your legs back and forth.

    *** Body weight thrusters: Keeping your back straight and hands at your shoulders, bend at the knees into a squat, then explosively drive your legs straight as you extend your arms above your head.


  • New skin patch approved for migraines

    The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first prescription skin patch for migraines. Users activate the patch with a button, turning on a small battery charge that carries the anti migraine medicine through the skin for a fast-acting, consistent dose.

    Nearly half of migraine sufferers get nausea along with their headaches, and many experience a shutdown of the digestive system, making pills ineffective.

    In clinical trials, the patch relieved headaches within 2 hours in 53 percent of patients.

    The patch contains sumatriptan. The drug isn't new, but the type of delivery system certainly is. The original brand name for sumatriptan is Imitrex.


    Two new drugs could increase weight loss

    Two new diet pills promise to boost weight loss by just 5 percent to 10 percent, but they are new tools for doctors trying to help Americans fight obesity.

    Belvik (pronounced bel-VEEEK) by Eisai works on brain chemistry to create a feeling of fullness. It helps an obese patient lose an average of about 5 percent of their starting weight. The wholesale cost of a month's supply is $200. What patients pay depends on their insurance coverage.

    The second drug is called Qsymia (pronounced Kyoo-SIM-ee-uh) by Vivus. It helps obese people drop about 10 percent of their weight by suppressive appetite and increasing the feeling of fullness.

    Both drugs are intended for people who are roughly 35 or more pounds over a healthy weight, or overweight patients who have one other weight-related condition, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes.

    While neither drug promises a dramatic cure for obesity, an additional 10 or 20 pound loss could be important.


    To perk up your joints and brain, have some strawberries

    The most popular berry in the world is not a berry.

    The summer favorite strawberries are botanically members of the rose family, say scientists at Tufts University's Antioxidant Nutrition Laboratory.

    Americans each consume about 6.5 pounds of strawberries a year. They taste great and are good for your heart, your joints and even your brain.

    Researchers say most strawberry benefits come from their flavonoids, a natural antioxidant that gives them their red color. Flavonoids might help lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for heart disease, some studies suggest.

    Just one cup of strawberries (about eight berries) contains 140 percent of your daily value for vitamin C. Because vitamin C plays a key role in formation of cartilage and collagen, strawberries might help your joints.

    A study by Tufts' HNRCA Neuroscience Laboratory shows there are neurological benefits associated with strawberries. In the study, rodents were fed with the equivalent of one pint of strawberries added to their regular diet.

    This group performed best in learning and memory tests as they aged, suggesting that strawberries (and other berries) might be "brain food."

    All of this sounds complicated, but the message is simple, eating strawberries protects your heart, your joints, your waistline and your brain.

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    With kale, get vitamins C, K and A ... and more

    Suddenly, kale has become the darling of cooking magazines and health websites. It could be because a cup of kale contains only 36 calories, but it's a health powerhouse with double your daily value of vitamin C, almost double your daily value of vitamin A, and has a lot of magnesium.

    What's really important is its vitamin K, 10 times the daily value for this vitamin that promotes bone heath, heart health, reduces inflammation and diabetes risk. Like other cruciferous vegetables, it inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells.

    New types of kale have a milder and sweeter favor. Some ways to use it:

  • In a salad with apples and walnuts,
  • Roasted: toss it with olive oil and bake it for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees,
  • Added to pizza toppings, soups, pasta and stews,
  • Used instead of spinach in a recipe,
  • As kale chips: chop, toss with oil, and bake 30 minutes at 250 degrees.
  • Mixed with other salad greens.


    Tuft doctors dispute 'Wheat belly' claims

    Though websites frequently mention the slang term wheat belly, doctors at Tufts University say there is no evidence that eating wheat will increase the risk of abdominal fat.

    There's a big difference, however, between whole wheat and refined wheat products, including cookies, cakes and doughnuts. All of these have added sugars and fats that contribute unhealthy calories to your diet. If you eliminate these refined wheat products from your diet, you will lose weight, including weight on your middle.

    Many weight-loss diets target grains in general, not making distinction between whole grains and refined. But adults who eat three servings of whole grains, like whole wheat bread and oatmeal, have less fatty tissue on their bodies, including on their abdomen.