Mary’s Memo #2127


When asked recently what he thought of the national health care overhaul, the CEO of the Cleveland Clinic said he was more interested in what is causing health care problems and the skyrocketing costs. Two thirds of the population is overweight and one third of them are considered obese and it's a major reason for chronic ailments that afflict older people. I have visual proof of these statistics every weekend working at the Bryan Chief. Sadly, many of the overweight and obese are not even close to being senior citizens yet!

Some people are naturally thin but most of us have to work at it, yours truly included. When I was wearing size 16 clothes I was as sensitive as the next person about being overweight. Although I knew I should do something about it, in the beginning it was vanity that really motivated me. So if you have a weight problem do something about it by modifying your diet and exercising on a regular basis. It works! When I first started walking in the mid 80's at our local Y, 15 minutes seemed like an hour but the more I walked the less effort it became. So increase your exercising time gradually. It also helped my routine to listen to something while I walked and Broadway show tunes worked for me. The important thing is to get moving! If you can't afford a membership at an exercise facility, walk in your neighborhood. I stress walking because it's the easiest, cheapest and most convenient thing you can do.


As many of you know, I have a weakness for potato chips and if there's a bag in the house I usually don't stop at a single serving. After I've shamefully polished off a bag of chips, I tell myself that I won't buy them for awhile but when Chief and Rays have a buy one get one free sale I weaken! Another name for my love affair with potato chips is addiction!

When starchy foods that are heated to a high temperature such as in frying, grilling, broiling, roasting, toasting and baking, a carcinogen called acrylamide happens. The chemical first made headlines in 2002 when Swedish researchers detected very high amounts in potato ships and French fries, foods we should limit anyway, and smaller amounts in such staples as breakfast cereals, crackers and bread. Its presence in cigarette smoke and to a lesser extent, in water had been known for years, but no one had suspected that foods contained acrylamide, too. Since then FDA scientists have found acrylamide in many foods, even prunes, soy nuts, peanut butter and coffee. Here's what you can do:

Limit French fries and chips as well as pastries, pies, cakes and cookies, all of which are high in fat and calories anyway.

Boiling, steaming and microwaving are less likely to produce acrylamide. If you toast your bread don't blacken it.

Don't give up cereal or other high carbohydrate foods but do choose ones made with whole gains. The fiber and other substances in whole grains have health-promoting properties, including possible cancer protection.

Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, August 2009.


Most kids are not going to buy the above information but they may enjoy a healthy alternative to chips, Cowboy Salsa, from Diane Grimes, a Ney shopper at the Bryan Chief. She was there to get the ingredients to make it and shared the recipe. Her grandchildren love it, she told me. Not only is it tasty but it's a way to sneak a variety of vegetables into the diet. More beans and less meat are good for us, too. Serve as a salad or relish.


3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 small jar diced pimiento
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup or less chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper

Bring to a boil vinegar, sugar, vegetable oil, salt and pepper. Set aside and cool. Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients and pour cooled vinegar mixture over all. Chill in the refrigerator.

Source: Diane Grimes, Ney, OH.

Fall is approaching and soup sounds better to me when warm sunny days are mixed with cool nights. Can the first frost be just around the corner? We hope not but frost doesn't ask us, does it? So before there's frost on the pumpkins (or tomatoes) make a batch of Herbed Fresh Tomato Soup for your family.


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled and quartered (about 5 cups)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon thyme (1 tablespoon fresh stripped from stems if you have it)
2 teaspoons crushed basil (2 tablespoons chopped fresh if you have it)
3 cups reduced fat chicken broth without MSG
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
1/8 teaspoon pepper or to taste

In large saucepot, saute onions in butter until tender but not brown. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and thyme, mashing tomatoes slightly. Add chicken broth. Bring to boil. Reduce temperature to simmer and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Recipe makes 8 servings. Download PDF of Memo #2127

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