IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date:  December 1, 2013

Holiday cream pesto pasta

When you're involved in holiday preparations, menu ideas for a family dinner are far down your list, but any recipe with pasta in the title signifies easy, time-saving and satisfying.

Pesto is Italian green sauce that gets its name from the process of crushing basil, garlic and pine nuts in olive oil with a mortar and pestle.

Here’s an effortless pesto pasta recipe bound to please your family or guests any day of the month, but made doubly so, because it uses the already prepared sauce found in the refrigerated section of your grocery stores.

Holiday Pesto Pasta (serves 4-6)

1 16-oz of your favorite pasta, or
2 9-oz packages of refrigerated fresh fettuccine.
1 container (7 ounces) refrigerated pesto with basil
A few fresh basil leaves
10 baby spinach leaves
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts), toasted
1/4 cup freshly shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream.

While waiting for pasta water to boil, wash and halve tomatoes and toast the nuts in a small skillet over high heat until browned. Then stack a few basil leaves, roll up like a cigar and slice diagonally into thin strips. Do the same for the spinach leaves.

Cook the pasta, and drain, saving 1/4 cup of the cooking water for thinning the pesto, if necessary.

Add the tomatoes to the hot pasta and stir a couple minutes to slightly soften them.

Heat cream and butter over low heat and stir into pesto.

When your guests are seated at the table, fold in the cream pesto and swirl until the pasta is evenly coated. Toss in the shredded fresh basil and spinach, leaving a few of each for garnish. Serve immediately on a heated platter and top your masterpiece with the nuts and shaved cheese (you could also add plump, ready-cooked shrimp)

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The Lighter Side ...

Where's Harry?

A group of friends who went deer hunting separated into pairs for the day. That night, one hunter returned alone, staggering under a huge buck.

"Where's Harry?" asked another hunter.

"He fainted a couple miles up the trail," his partner answered.

"You mean you left him lying there alone and you carried the deer back?"

"It was a tough decision," said the hunter. "But I figured no one was going to steal Harry!"

Pearls of Wisdom

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
            Ralph Waldo Emerson: American essayist, lecturer, and poet

There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.
          Bruce Lee, martial artist and filmmaker

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
          Henry David Thoreau: American author and philosopher

Faith is daring to put your dream to the test. It is better to try to do something and fail than to try to do nothing and succeed.
         Robert H. Schuller, American pastor and author

Chuckles Corner

A Christmas gift for yourself

Don't wear yourself out in December over-preparing for family, friends, and fancy dinners.

Here are some tips to give yourself a Merry Christmas:

  • Decorate for yourself. If you love your Christmas village, then why not do it early, even before Thanksgiving, so you can play with it and enjoy it longer?
  • If you don't care a thing about a big tree with fancy decoration, deck the halls with something you do like and skip the tree.
  • The main idea is to do the decorating that means the most and skip the stuff that just drains your energy.
  • Get some rest. Your family and friends want to see you happy, not frazzled and worn. Plan ahead to have some fun yourself.
  • Keep dinner simple. Even for formal dining, keep your menu to five items. Make those items special. Forget the rest.
  • Simple shopping. Studies show that, overwhelmingly, the gifts people like most are gift certificates or money. These don't work for kids, but they're a convenient and appreciated gift for adults like your mother, your best friend, your sister, aunt or your uncle.


    The flu on your fingertips

    The influenza virus can live on a person's fingers for half an hour or more, depending on the size of the droplet, according to a new Swiss study.

    Experts assume most flu is transmitted by air -- tiny droplets spreading out on the air currents as the infected person coughs or talks.

    But this finding also suggests that flu can be transmitted by touch.

    The study should encourage people to wash their hands with soap and water and keep hands away from the face.

    In public places, where you don't know the health status of the people around you be sure to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.

    Doctors recommend that, if you have the flu, don't go to work and share the disease with others: Stay home.

    Get the flu shot to give yourself the best chance of staying healthy.


    Easier ways to deal with nasal polyps

    When you have suffered from frequent sinus infections, nasal stuffiness, headaches and runny a nose, you've probably already guessed that you have nasal polyps.

    The polyps are benign tumors in the mucous lining of the nose or sinuses that cause chronic inflammation. They are often associated with hay fever, allergies and asthma, and they are more common after age 40

    The good news is that doctors at Johns Hopkins Medical Center say surgery isn't the only answer. In Many cases, corticosteroid nasal sprays will relieve the inflammation, increase air flow and may also shrink the polyps.

    The sprays include Nasonex, Flonase, Veramyst and Nasacort.

    Sometimes a doctor may also prescribe an oral corticosteroid, but because of the risk of side effects, they're usually used only for a short period.

    A corticosteroid injected directly into the polyps is another option.

    If the polyps are very large or don't respond to medication, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove them.


    Yoga for Men

    Even though yoga is an ancient exercise developed by men, few men in the West do it.

    According to Robert Sidoti, co-founder of Broga, yoga for men, one reason is that men think they have to be able to touch their toes to do yoga.

    Not true, says Sidoti. Sidoti says most men have tight hamstrings, making toe-touching difficult. The Broga regimen uses a series of poses (asanas) that focus on strengthening the back, shoulders, arms and chest.

    The Broga program improves flexibility as a side benefit of its main focus on improving core strength. The program is available in most major cities.

    Also, in Broga, guys don't get that slightly out-of-place feeling they will probably have among 10 women and wafting incense.

    The San Diego Padres do yoga twice a week as a team. The idea is to build strength and balance.

    High-priced women's exercise retailer Lululemon now makes workout clothes for the regular guy with workout pants called Kung Fu priced at $98 and Pace Breaker shorts at $64


  • Married cancer patients get better more often

    A new study shows that married people were 20 percent less likely to die from cancer than patients who were separated, divorced, widowed or never married, according to a study published in September in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

    The real secret to survival may be social support rather than marriage itself, says study author Ayal Aizer of the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program in Boston. He was interviewed by USA Today.

    Spouses or partners provide take care of patients, driving them to appointments or even just making sure they take their medicine.

    One key conclusion is simply that a caring social network makes people get well. According to Paul Nguyen, oncologist in Boston, 'being there' for a person really does help. When you help people with their appointments and general health, you are also helping them recover from cancer.


    Shoulder Pain

    So your painful shoulder has been a nagging problem but now you can't move it at all. Frightening, definitely. But no need to panic.

    Frozen shoulder can repair itself without treatment during the course of a year or more.

    Doctors are not completely sure what leads to frozen shoulder. It seems to occur in people whose shoulders are immobile for a period of time because of rotator cuff injury, a broken arm, or stroke recovery.

    Frozen shoulder occurs when the capsule around the shoulder joint thickens and tightens. Stiff tissue bands can develop, and there may be reduced synovial fluid to lubricate the joint, say doctors at the Mayo Clinic.

    It usually develops in three stages.

    First, shoulder pain occurs with any movement and become worse at night.

    In the second stage, range of motion decreases notably and it may be difficult or impossible to raise your arm to comb hair. Pain may well diminish in this stage.

    The third stage is the thawing stage. Range of motion improves but pain will probably linger. A doctor or physical therapist may recommend stretching and simple exercises.

    Injecting sterile water into the joint can make room for joint movement.

    Surgery to remove scar tissue inside the joint can also give some relief. It could take up to a year for the joint to thaw entirely.

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    Women, aspirin and colon cancer protection

    Many studies show that taking a baby aspirin every day can reduce a man's risk of colon cancer.

    Now, a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that middle-aged women who took 100 milligrams of aspirin (a little more than a standard baby aspirin) at least every other day for 10 years were less likely to develop colon cancer.

    Women at high risk because of family history or previous polyps should discuss it with their doctors.


    New devices guard the head from concussion but not controversy

    Player safety has become the goal for college and pro football with the NCAA and NFL facing lawsuits over concussions.

    Though both college and pro sports penalize players for taking aim at the head or neck of an opponent, but it still happens either on purpose or by accident.

    Some colleges and universities are outfitting their players with Guardian Caps that fit over their regular helmets. The caps are actually shells that fit over the helmet. They have padded compartments throughout the top and sides of the caps. They dissipate energy better than a solid helmet.

    Right now, they can only be used in practice, but 35 states have schools or leagues using at least 20 Guardian Caps each.

    Other companies are also offering products to protect the brain.

    A Pennsylvania company offers extra head padding that includes bulletproof material. Riddell, maker of the official helmet of the NFL, is introducing a sensor system in its helmet that signals when an impact exceeds certain thresholds. Reebok has a new impact sensor that flashes when impacts exceed the designated threshold.

    The National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) says schools' primary focus should be on limiting illegal hits by players and medical handling of concussions when they occur.

    They also say, "A helmet addition that changes or alters the protective system by adding or deleting protective padding ... or which changes or alters the geometry of the shell or adds mass to the helmet, whether temporary or permanent, voids the certification of compliance."