IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  November 1, 2009

May your stuffing be better than a ‘farce’

Stuffing, or the mixture that is known as dressing today, was first called forcemeat, or farce. It was a meat concoction much like modern sausage and first appeared in cooking in the 1530s.

In the theater at that time, a farce was a light skit between acts of a serious play, one "stuffed between" or just "stuffing."

The upper classes of the 1880s sought a more elegant cooking term and it became known as a dressing, served with, but not stuffed into, a bird’s cavity.

Later, stuffings often included food plentiful in various locales such as pecans and fruits in the Old South or potatoes and apples in Germanic areas.

The key to a good oyster dressing is using just the right amount of the sometimes-pungent mollusks so the flavor doesn't overpower the recipe.

Traditional oyster stuffing

8 cups bread crumbs or small pieces of dry bread
1 cup celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoon sage
1 cup chicken broth
2 eggs
1/2 pint fresh or canned oysters
Salt and pepper to taste.

In a saucepan, cook celery and onion in margarine or butter until tender but not brown. Remove from heat. Stir in sage and several dashes of salt and pepper.

Place bread cubes in a bowl and add the onion and celery mixture.

Whisk the eggs into the chicken broth and drizzle the liquid over the bread crumbs. Drain liquid from the oysters and thoroughly stir the oysters into the bread mixture. The dressing can be stuffed into the cavity of the chicken or turkey or placed around it in a large baking pan or roaster.

Cook until the bird is done and the top of the dressing in the pan is brown and crisp. If the bird needs to be baked longer, periodically baste the dressing with chicken broth or water to keep it from becoming too dry.

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November is National Diabetes Month

It's easy to think that diabetes can happen to older people, or other people, but not to you.

That's what many of the millions of people with diabetes thought. And it's what the tens of millions of people with prediabetes think now.

About 40 percent of Americans age 20 and older have elevated blood sugar levels. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases predicts that the United States is facing a diabetes epidemic.

The most common form is type 2 diabetes. It develops when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels normal, or when the body is unable to properly use the insulin it does produce, a condition called insulin resistance.

Who is at risk?

People who are over 45, overweight and have a family history of diabetes are at greatest risk. African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans are more prone to the disease.

Millions of people with prediabetes have metabolic syndrome, which includes obesity, low HDL (good) cholesterol, high triglycerides and high blood pressure, which puts them at risk of both diabetes and heart disease.

What prediabetics can do

The Diabetes Prevention Program study shows they can reduce their risk of developing a full-blown case by 58 percent by losing 5 to 10 percent of their body weight and getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Just working toward those goals can help.

Type 2 used to be called adult-onset diabetes, but kids as young as five have it now, according to the International Diabetes Center at Park Nicollet Health Services in Minneapolis.


Chuckles Corner

The Great American Smokeout: November 19

November 19, the Great American Smokeout, reminds us of the dangers of smoking. Tobacco causes twice as many deaths a year as AIDS, alcohol abuse, motor vehicle crashes, illicit drug use, and suicide combined. Nicotine is addictive. The act of smoking adds a second obstacle to quitting. It's hard to do, but there are helpful options:

  • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), in the form of patches, inhalers, gum and lozenges.
  • Zyban (bupropion), a prescription antidepressant that replaces the "high" of nicotine.
  • Chantix, a prescription drug that blocks nicotine receptors in the brain.
  • Smoking cessation counseling.. One study group received hour-long counseling weekly for three months. They were also encouraged to use NRT and bupropion. Two years later, one-third of those in the group had successfully quit, compared to 9 percent who had other care.
  • Cold turkey is quitting all at once with no help. It's cheaper and quicker but works mainly for light smokers who are committed to stopping.

    Moderate to heavy smokers benefit more from NRT, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. NRT users, however, are more likely to begin smoking again.

    No matter what your approach, you need a genuine desire to stop. Those who are trying to quit can be helped by exercise, which reduces cravings. Even a five-minute walk can help.


    Questioning benefit of vertebra cementing

    Thousands of people have had surgery to repair fractured bones in the spine. Now, researchers have found no detectable benefit when these patients were compared with others who didn't have it. The studies were funded by the National Institutes of Science.

    The surgery is usually performed by a radiologist who injects bone cement directly into a fractured bone to shore it up, a procedure covered by Medicare.

    The American Association of Radiologists disputes the finding, saying study subjects were not people with serious conditions who would be most likely to be helped by the operation.

    Lung cancer pill could help

    New research shows that the AstraZenica PLC drug Iressa can be more effective than other chemotherapy as a first-line treatment in certain cases of lung cancer. It appears to work best with Asians, women and nonsmokers. The daily pill targets cancer rather than healthy cells.

    Iressa was approved in 2003 only as a last-resort drug for non-small-cell lung cancer, which kills more Americans than any other kind of tumor, according to the American Cancer Society.

    Dialysis treatment studied

    The standard treatment for kidney failure covered by Medicare is three treatments of four hours each per week. With this treatment, only a quarter of patients age 18 to 54 are well enough to go to work or school. Medicare covers all patients who are on dialysis.

    In 2006, 20.1 percent of dialysis patients in the United States died, twice as many as died in Japan. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Diseases, dialysis patients are hospitalized six times as often as other Medicare patients.

    Many doctors feel patients should receive dialysis more frequently, and any who want to take the treatment at home should have dialysis machines.


    Get strength-training benefit in 12 minutes a week

    Dr. Doug McGuff says 12 minutes a week of his high-intensity, slow cadence strength training is enough. McGuff is the author of Body Science.

    He recommends:

  • Lift weights slowly and smoothly over 10 seconds and lower over 10 seconds.
  • McGuff says you can avoid injuries with this low-force form of exercise.
  • Do each exercise until you can't make the movement anymore. Produce a momentary muscle weakness, which triggers improvement in muscle strength.
  • Allow adequate time for recovery. The bigger the muscle stimulus, the greater the adaptive response, the longer it takes for muscles to recover. That's why he recommends people should wait a week before doing the routine again.

    Ibuprofen is best for injured kids

    A child with a broken bone or other injury will do better by taking the over-the-counter ibuprofen for pain than a more powerful prescription combination that contains a narcotic.

    Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee tested ibuprofen, sold as Advil, Motrin and other brands, against acetaminophen plus codeine as in Tylenol 3 or in a generic form.

    Researchers found that the injured children were more likely to play, eat better and have fewer adverse effects. Children in the study were ages 4 to 18


  • Q & A on the H1N1 flu

    Who is most at risk?

    Pregnant women and everyone who has a chronic disease such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease. About 70 percent of those who have died had underlying conditions.

    What if I get the H1N1 swine flu?

    Without a lab test, you won't know if it's seasonal flu or the H1N1. Most people get well just by resting, staying hydrated, and taking medications to reduce fever. Stay home and avoid contact with others until at least 24 hours after the fever is gone.

    If you have trouble breathing, have chest or abdominal pain, dizziness, confusion, persistent vomiting, or if you don't soon get better, see your doctor.

    Should I take an antiviral like Tamiflu?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend taking them for mild cases. Antivirals are recommended for serious cases and for those with other medical conditions.

    How about the new vaccine?

    First, people at high risk will get the two H1N1 flu shots, including pregnant women, children and adults age six months through 24 years old, people with medical conditions, health care and emergency medical care workers.

    The vaccine should be available now and is safe. It does NOT protect against regular seasonal flu. Be sure to get your regular flu shot.

    How can I protect myself before getting the vaccine?

    People who are infected with the virus start spreading it a day before they develop symptoms, which means the virus could be present almost anywhere. It is spread through respiratory droplets from a cough or a sneeze. You can get it by touching something they have touched, then touching your mouth or nose.

    Hand washing is your most powerful preventive. Wash often with soap and water or a sanitizer.

    Should I keep my child home from school if it's going around?

    No. Schools will watch kids and staff members for symptoms, isolate them quickly and send them home. In most cases, schools will remain open.


    Exercise is great for your health, but ...

    You must eat less to lose weight

    In 1980, 47 percent of Americans claimed they exercised regularly. By 2000, that figure had grown to 57 percent. Yet the number of overweight and obese people rose dramatically.

    Physical activity is essential for good health, but it may not be able to melt pounds away. Exercise researchers at Louisiana State University say when it comes to losing weight, how much you eat is more important than how much you exercise.

    Building muscle makes you stronger, but a pound of muscle burns only four calories more per day than a pound of fat. If you somehow gained 10 pounds of muscle, you would only be able to eat an extra 40 calories a day.

    Vigorous exercise can also stimulate hunger and could lead to a self-reward system. If you burn 300 calories at an exercise machine and reward yourself with donuts on the way home, you could be gaining weight instead of losing.

    Many researchers believe that frequent, lower-level activities work better for weight loss than bouts of vigorous exercise. They say it's better to be active in your life and throughout the day if you can. Take a walk; it doesn't have to be a fast one. Climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Dance to the music, hit a golf ball, do the laundry or play with the dog.

    People only have a certain amount of energy to expend in a given day. For it's better to be active each day rather than do a vigorous routine a couple of times a week.

    A British study compared normally active children and those in sports with vigorous athletic training and found the two groups to be equally healthy.

    At the end of the day, it's more about how many calories you take in than how many you burn off.

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    100 calories less=big benefit

    It's just a model prediction by the American Journal of Health Promotion, but it makes sense: 100-calorie reductions in daily intake would cut about 71.2 million cases of overweight and obesity and would save $58 billion annually in health care costs.

    How to cut 100 calories:

    Examples: On a salad, use two tablespoon of light salad dressing instead of two tablespoons of blue cheese dressing. Eat a 100-calorie pack of microwave popcorn instead of a buttery bowl.