IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  November 1, 2013

Wild Rice, Sweet Potato Salad

Cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner can be tricky when space management becomes an issue: The oven, counters, and refrigerator packed.

Here’s a terrific make-ahead salad that can be refrigerated until ready to take to the table. It could be used to replace candied yams or mashed potatoes. The mixture is different, unexpected and yummy (and even pairs well with ham or a roast beef)

If you’re contributing to a buffet, the salad is easy to transport, looks appealing and will bring praise for its innovative use of ingredients.

Wild Rice, Sweet Potato Salad with Pears and Pecans

2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups uncooked wild rice
1 1/4 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes
1 2/3 cups peeled Bartlett pears (about 2), cored and diced
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice (or lemon)
1 1/4 cups diced yellow bell pepper
1/3 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup apple cider
2 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
1/8 cup fresh orange juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Add wild rice. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer 45 minutes or until tender. Set aside.

Cook diced sweet potato in boiling water for 5 minutes or until tender.

Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain well. Set aside.

Combine diced pear and tablespoon orange juice in a large bowl; toss to coat and prevent browning. Add the cooked wild rice, sweet potato, bell pepper, green onions, chopped pecans, and salt. Toss.

Prepare the vinaigrette. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients. Mix well. Pour over rice mixture and mix. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garnish with a few whole toasted pecans. Makes 10 half-cup servings.

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A classic Waldorf salad, coleslaw style

The original salad was created by the maître d'hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, of the Waldorf-Astoria for 1,500 dinner guests. It became an unexpected success. He published it in a book of his recipes back in 1896. It didn't use cabbage or walnuts.

Waldorf Salad, Coleslaw Style

12 cups savory cabbage, cored and chopped
4 Red Delicious apples, cored, sliced and cut into medium-sized chunks
4 ribs of celery sliced thin and diagonally
1 1/2 cups walnuts, quartered
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar.

Stir together the cabbage, diced apple, celery, and walnuts in a large bowl.

Whisk the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, sugar, oil, and vinegar in a separate bowl until the dressing is smooth. Then pour it over the cabbage mixture and integrate well.

Chill the slaw, covered, for at least 2 hours. It can be made one day in advance, if kept covered and chilled.

Garnish individual servings with an apple slice (dipped in lemon water to prevent browning) and a whole walnut…or place it all in your prettiest buffet bowl with flowering kale and a few whole walnuts for garnish. Serves 12


The Lighter Side ...

Borrow a Newspaper

I was visiting my granddaughter last night when I asked if I could borrow a newspaper.

"This is the 21st century," she said. "We don't buy newspapers. Here, use my iPad."

I can tell you this. That fly never knew what hit him.

New Company Policy

When the company president learned that his employees were tanking up on no-odor vodka during their lunch hours, he issued the following memo:

To all employees: If you must drink during you lunch hours, please drink whiskey. It's better for our customers to know you're drunk than to think you're stupid.


Pearls of Wisdom

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, "What's in it for me?"
      Brian Tracy, business consultant and author.

Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
      Warren Buffett, business magnate, investor and philanthropist

Life is like photography. You need the negatives to develop.


Chuckles Corner

Why gastric bypass can relieve diabetes symptoms

People who are greatly overweight sometimes wonder whether they should have gastric bypass surgery.

If they also have diabetes, there's another good reason to choose surgery. It minimizes and sometimes eliminates the symptoms of diabetes entirely.

Gastric bypass is the most common weight-loss surgery in the United States. It can be done by open surgery or by laparoscopic surgery through a small incision.

First, the surgeon closes off part of the stomach by sewing or stapling.

The smaller stomach makes patients feel full sooner with less food.

Second, a bypass around the rest of the stomach is made. Food entering the small intestine absorbs fewer calories because the food moves through it quickly.

The procedure also produces changes in hormonal activity, allowing patients to digest meals with better glucose control.

Researchers quoted in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism say it's the most effective weapon to combat morbid obesity and, as a side effect, it is proven to relieve symptoms of type 2 diabetes.

Gastric bypass surgery jumpstarts the weight-loss process with improvements in blood glucose levels. Researchers say the astonishingly fast normalization of the glucose process is seen in 85 percent of diabetics after the surgery.

Researchers are hoping they can learn to achieve the anti-diabetic effect without surgery, possibly with medications, but that accomplishment will only be in the distant future.


November is American Diabetes Month

What you should know about diabetes.

We've all heard about diabetes mellitus (or simply diabetes), usually in reference to how the disease is becoming so prevalent. More than 25 million Americans have it, according to the American Diabetes Association.

But not many people know what it is and how they can avoid getting it.

The food we eat is digested into nutrients, which are then absorbed by the body. Protein turns into amino acids, fat into fatty acids, and starch (carbohydrates) into glucose.

Glucose is transported by the blood to the cells, where it's used for energy. But to enter the cells, insulin is needed. Without it, the level of glucose in the bloodstream gets too high. It can damage the blood vessels, cause kidney failure, impotence, blindness, and risks for amputation.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body still produces insulin, but the cells have become resistant to it. For a while, the body can compensate by producing more insulin, but the cells become even more resistant.

When the body can no longer produce enough insulin, type 2 diabetes has occurred.

Who is at risk, what they can do

The largest risk factor is being overweight. Others include age, a family history of the disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and lack of exercise.

Before developing type 2, people almost always have pre-diabetes, a condition marked by a blood glucose level that's too high. There are no symptoms, so those with pre-diabetes, often don't realize they have it. But their doctors will warn them, and they should listen.

Because it could take some time for pre-diabetes to turn into a full-blown case, there's an opportunity for prevention.

Studies show that changes in diet, weight loss and exercise can prevent diabetes in up to 60 percent of cases.

Once diabetes is diagnosed, patients have it in their power to reduce the most serious side effects.

By maintaining glycemic control, keeping blood pressure under control and improving their cholesterol, they can reduce the risk of complications such as heart disease, nerve problems, kidney and eye diseases by one-third to one-half.

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The pumpkin has a colorful history

Some say the word pumpkin may have descended from the centuries-old Greek word pepon which meant large melon.

But that word doesn't actually refer to the pumpkin we know today. Pumpkins are native to the western hemisphere and have been cultivated in North American for 5,000 years, according to the History Channel.

The Iroquois Indians were quite skilled in growing the famous member of the gourd family, an especially useful crop since most everything in the pumpkin is edible.

While the men hunted, the women tended to the crops. Each spring the ground was prepared and the women carefully dug holes for the planting.

Into each hole they placed a fish along with a corn, bean and pumpkin seed. The fish fertilized the ground and the corn stalk provided support for the bean plant to climb on.

The pumpkin plant offered ground cover to keep the weeds out, and the roots of the bean added nutrients to the soil. By summer and autumn, whole fields were filled with corn, beans and pumpkins growing together.

When the first colonists arrived, they survived partly by trading with the Indians for food.

The Pilgrims made their own contributions as well. In the case of the pumpkin, they not only gave it the name we know today, but instead of cutting pumpkins into strips and baking them, they cut off the tops, scooped out the seeds, and filled the hollow with various ingredients including milk, honey and spices.

Once filled, they replaced the tops and baked the pumpkins in the hot coals of a fire, thereby inventing an early pumpkin pie filling.

Later, they baked the concoction in a crust to give us their version of the pie that we serve at Thanksgiving and at Christmas.


Correct your vision to reduce the risk of falls

A study by the University of California Davis, led by Dr. Jeffrey Willis, shows that vision and balance are highly integrated in the brain. Visually impaired individuals, as well as those who could benefit from glasses but don't wear them, have a significantly greater risk of diminished balance and falling than people with normal vision.

In another study, this one by The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 4,590 adults aged 40 and older were checked for their vestibular balance.

The vestibular system maintains balance, posture and the body's orientation in space. As many as 35 percent of adults over age 40 experienced some form of vestibular dysfunction. Vision plays an important role in the system.

One third of individuals age 65 and over fall in any given year.

Individuals with uncorrected vision refractive errors have higher rates of falling than those with normal vision. Refractive errors include astigmatism, farsightedness and nearsightedness.

The doctors recommend that people of all ages should have proper eyeglasses. And they should wear them.


Antibiotics for COPD

Patients admitted to hospitals for worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are usually treated with steroids and bronchodilators.

Now, a study of 53,900 such patients finds that adding antibiotics to the treatment resulted in significantly lower mortality rates.

The study was published in the journal Chest.

Meanwhile, another study found that a five-day, low-dose course of corticosteroids to treat exacerbations is as effective as higher-dose, longer-course treatments.

These studies were also reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


DORA-22 works in a different way from existing sleeping pills

In the not-too-distant future, a new medication could help insomniacs fall asleep and sleep soundly without the memory problems or groggy feelings that other sleeping pills can bring.

Billed as bringing "a good night’s sleep without the side-effects," the tablet, known only as DORA-22, works in a different way.

Researchers have discovered orexin, a compound that keeps the brain alert. Dora mimics what happens in the normal system, where orexin's alert signal goes away at night. But in some people, it doesn't. As one sufferer says, "I can just open my eyes in the middle of the night, get up and do my work as if it's the middle of the day."

Merck's drug additionally targets the problem of waking shortly after taking a sleep medication.

In testing, DORA-22 was free of problems that impact reaction times, even when given at high doses.

The new drug is still in the testing phase and won't be on the market for some time. Only then will we know for sure if this new generation of sleeping pills will finally let us rest easy.


Dietary fiber has many benefits

A surprising 80 percent of North Americans don't get enough fiber in their diet.

According to Tufts University, high fiber diets have a lot of benefits, including lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Fiber is associated with reducing the risk of both ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke by a significant 7 percent. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot travels to the brain or stays in the blood vessel and cuts off circulation to the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.

"Ideally, you should get the majority of your fiber from fruits, vegetables and grains," says Robert M. Russell, MD, emeritus professor of nutrition and medicine at Tufts University.

Too much fiber can cause excess gas and discomfort, or it may bind with minerals to lessen their availability. But getting too much fiber is uncommon.


The lady who created Thanksgiving: Sarah Josepha Hale

Thanksgiving has had many proponents in many times that include thankful pilgrims, sailors and discoverers.

But the holiday we celebrate today on the last Thursday of November can be credited to the efforts of the remarkable Sarah Josepha Hale.

Hale, born in 1788, to the Buell family, was the self-taught daughter of modern thinking parents who believed women should be educated.

In the 1820s, Hale became the first American to write an anti-slavery book. By 1828, she was the editor of an influential ladies magazine.

During this period, it was Hale who penned a still-popular series of children's poems that included Mary Had a Little Lamb.

By 1863, the nation was deeply entrenched in the bloodiest years of the Civil War. Tens of thousands were already dead and the war seemed likely to go on, which it did, until 1865

It seemed an unlikely time for Thanksgiving and homecoming, since so many fathers and sons were dead. Few families knew where their loved ones died -- or even it they died, and most everyone lived in anguish.

Still, it was Hale who 150 years ago wrote to President Abraham Lincoln and asked that the last Thursday of November be set aside for Thanksgiving. And so it came to be.

In arguing for Thanksgiving, Hale wrote:

"Let this day, from this time forth, as long as our Banner of Stars floats on the breeze, be the grand THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY of our nation, when the noise and tumult of wordliness may be exchanged for the laugh of happy children, the glad greetings of family reunion, and the humble gratitude of the Christian heart."