IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  October 1, 2009

Swiss steak: Enjoy its rich taste

If you are looking for the origins of Swiss steak, donít look toward Switzerland. Rather, seek out traditions of the Amish and a food culture passed down from their first settlements in the eastern counties of Pennsylvania. Then look to farm communities across the United States.

This rich meat dish, with a thick rue and fresh vegetables, is traditionally prepared in a heavy iron skillet, but it's also great when left to simmer all day in a crock pot.

Preparation of the meat is key to tenderness. In choosing cubed steaks, forget any with large sections of white bands running through the meat, this is a sign of sinew, which causes a stringiness in the cooked meat.

Even better, select a large piece of lean round steak and cut it into smaller pieces. Pound on both sides with a meat hammer to assure its tenderness.

Swiss steak in skillet or crock pot

4 cubed steaks or one pound of
lean round steak cut into four
1 cup coarsely sliced onions
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 packet of dry au jus mix
1/4 cup water.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Flour for meat coating.

Tenderize round steak with a meat hammer. Salt and pepper the steaks and dredge them with flour for coating.

Braise on high in a large skillet with vegetable oil.

Add sugar, au jus mix and ketchup. Stir thoroughly with a small amount of water. Put in a large iron skillet or crock pot.

Add the vegetables. In an iron skillet, cover and simmer over a low heat for 30 to 45 minutes.

In a crock pot, cook on high for 30 minutes, than reduce to low and simmer until served.

Serve on plates or in bowls, adding ample gravy. Sopping up gravy with bread is a time-tested tradition.

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To lose weight, limit 'liquid calories'

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University studied the difference between a 100-calorie reduction in foods vs. a 100-calorie reduction in sweet drinks such as soda.

Study subjects who reduced calories from sweet drinks lost more weight than those who reduced the same number of calories from food.

Possibly because of metabolic differences, limiting "liquid calories" was more effective.


Fish for your heart

Studies published in the European Heart Journal and elsewhere show that eating fatty fish just once a week lowers men's risk of heart failure. Eating a small, 3-ounce serving each week resulted in reducing heart failure by 12 percent.

Fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, whitefish, lake trout and albacore tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.


Chuckles Corner

Get more fiber for better health: It's easy

If you need fiber but don't like broccoli, and black beans make you look the other way, you can skip them. There's a big list of other foods to choose from.

Fiber helps to move food through your digestive system. On the way, it can improve your cholesterol numbers and lower your blood sugar. It also does things you don't regularly talk about such as reducing the risk of constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticulosis.

Most Americans get only 15 grams of fiber a day instead of the 19 recommended for women and 38 for men. If you're 51 or over, it's 21 grams for women and 30 grams for men.

  • Fruits and nuts provide a gram or two per serving, but the Mayo Clinic says pears, apples, raspberries, bananas and oranges have 3 to 5 grams.
  • Among vegetables, you will get 4 to 5 grams from just a half cup of green beans, squash, baked beans or sweet potatoes.
  • Some common cereals are good choices. Two shredded wheat biscuits, for example, have 5.5 grams, and a cup of Post Raisin Bran has 7.1 grams.
  • If you really want to catch up on your fiber intake, some products are designed to do just that:

    Kellogg's All-Bran Buds, 1/3 cup,12.9 grams
    General Mills Fiber One, 1/2 cup, 14.2 grams
    Post 100% Bran, 1/3 cup, 8.3 grams
    Kashi GoLean, 1 cup, 10.2 grams
    General Mills Fiber One (1 bar), 9.0 grams

    For a snack: 3 cups of popcorn has 3.3 grams.


    Never exercised? Starting late still pays big dividends

    You've heard about it, read about it, and vowed to start ... some day. Now you might think it's pointless, but experts at Tufts University say it's never too late to start exercising.

    If you're at mid life and your tennis shoes are just for show, you can still begin to get your body moving. Your condition will improve with every step along the way.

    Check with your doctor to see what type of activity is recommended for you. With exercise, you will soon begin to feel stronger and you will improve your quality of life now and in years to come.

    Over two decades, Swedish scientists studied a group of people including those who were new to exercise and those who exercised regularly. At the five-year point, those who were sedentary at the beginning of the program had the highest mortality rates.

    After 10 years, however, people who began exercising at age 50 had a mortality risk as low as those who had exercised all their lives.


    Flu shots in 2009 are more important than ever

    In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the flu vaccine for the 2009-2010 season.

    It provides protection from the three strains of flu virus that are expected to circulate in the United States this year. No flu vaccine shortages are predicted. Flu shots do not protect against A(H1N1) swine flu.

    Now is the time to get your annual flu shot. It is an important step for your personal health and public health in general. People are protected won't be spreading the virus to others.

    Each year in the United States, an estimated 5 percent to 20 percent of the population is stricken with the flu. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized and about 36,000 people die.

    People over age 50, young children, and people with chronic health problems are at higher risk for complications. They should always be vaccinated. All health care workers should certainly get a flu shot, but not all of them do.

    It's always possible that the match between the vaccine is not optimal. If you do get the flu in spite of having a flu shot, it will be a mild case.

    The new A(H1N1) vaccine

    Physicians and health care professionals will be the first to receive the new A(H1N1) swine flu vaccine, according to the National Vaccine Advisory Committee. By November or December, it is predicted that 600 million doses will be available to the public.

    The Committee expects swine flu to return to the United States this fall. It can cause pneumonia and respiratory failure.


    Massage for back pain

    Back pain that is not caused by a specific condition or injury can be difficult to treat. Many times, massage therapy can help. A course of treatment reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine included 262 people with chronic back pain. After one massage per week for 10 weeks, they reported much less pain up to one year after the treatment.

    Another study showed massage was more effective at reducing pain and increasing function when stretching exercises were included and posture was improved.


  • Health in the News

    States say malt liquors with caffeine are bad news.

    New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, along with his counterparts in other states, are looking into new, fast-selling caffeinated malt liquors. They are concerned that the combination of caffeine and alcohol is dangerous. They also suspect that the beverages are aimed at underage drinkers.

    A fruit-flavored booze called Joose that is 9.9 percent alcohol is popular with young people. Made by United Brands Co., it comes in 23.5-ounce cans featuring Gothic lettering. It ranks first, and its competitor, Four Loko by Phusion Products LLC, is fourth in national sales growth this year among alcoholic beverages at 7-Eleven Inc. stores.

    Experts say the drinks, including Anheuser-Bush InBev's Tilt and Miller-Coors' Sparks, second and third in popularity, pose a greater health risk because they mask the effects of alcohol.

    Parkinson's/impulse control

    Parkinson's disease is caused by the death of brain cells that produce dopamine, which is necessary for motor control. Patients take a drug called levodopa, which the brain converts into dopamine. But after taking it for several years, the drug may cause uncontrollable movements.

    In younger patients, doctors at Johns Hopkins University say dopamine agonists may be prescribed. They stimulate receptors in the brain that are normally activated by dopamine.

    But during activities people find pleasurable, the neurotransmitter is released in large quantities and higher levels.

    This can lead to an impulse-control disorder that may cause excessive habits like smoking, gambling, risk-taking or use of illegal drugs.

    Many patients don't realize that impulse-control disorders are treatable. Once under control, the physical symptoms of Parkinson's become easier to cope with.


    Follow directions when taking medicines with acetaminophen, like tylenol, nyquil

    By the time he got home from work, old football injuries usually made his ankle or knee hurt. Taking Tylenol made the pain go away. He could relax, watch TV and have two or three beers.

    Sounds harmless enough, but after a few years, a doctor discovered he had significant liver damage. While neither the amount of acetaminophen he took nor the amount of beer he drank would cause liver damage, the combination did. Using acetaminophen in conjunction with beer or liquor increases the risk of liver failure by 33 percent.

    Acetaminophen's long-standing reputation for safety is lulling consumers into complacency. Many think nothing of taking more than the recommended dosage. Some have discovered, after liver problems were diagnosed, that other medications they took also contained a big dose of acetaminophen.

    These include the prescription drugs Vicodin and Percocet and 300 over-the-counter medications such as Nyquil and Excedrin. Most medications that are for cold and flu contain acetaminophen to treat fever and muscle pain. In many medicines, acetaminophen is called APAP.

    Without realizing it, you could take a maximum dose of 4,000 mg a day. The FDA wants the maker of Tylenol to reduce maximum dosage to 2,000 mg per day from 4,000

    The first symptoms of acetaminophen overdose feel like the flu and don't set in for several days. By that time, it could be too late to save your liver. Acetaminophen causes 450 deaths and 56,000 emergency room visits a year.

    Having a liver that is just damaged has consequences as well. A doctor can't prescribe most high-cholesterol medications, for example.

    Note that Tylenol is very safe at recommended dosages.

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    Staying Well

    The best times and best ways to wash up.

  • Wash your hands before lunch, especially after a meeting or church service where everybody shakes hands.
  • Wash after you use the bathroom, change a diaper, sneeze, cough or blow your nose.
  • Do it after you ride on public transportation or go shopping.
  • Sanitize or wash every couple of hours during cold and flu season. Germs stay on door handles, desks, pens and everything people touch.

    Here's how to wash

    Use soap and water if it's available. Studies show it removes more viruses than alcohol-based hand rubs.

    Use enough soap to work up a lather. Lace your fingers together to cover all surfaces and rub the finger tips of each hand on the other hand. Wash for about 15 seconds or as long as it takes to sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat."

    Dry your hands on paper toweling if it's available, rather than use a hand dryer.