Archive for January, 2012

Finally, someone designated a month just for my taste. January is National Hot Tea Month. The Duchess of Bedford in 1840 initiated the afternoon tea to ward off “that sinking feeling.” I can attest to that. Nothing quiets my soul like settling down in the late afternoon with Earl Grey to whisk away worries of the day.

My love for hot tea spans more decades than I will admit, but the joy of such a respite goes back centuries. Drinking tea, credited to a Chinese Emperor, began nearly 5,000 years ago.

Tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world other than water. Not all teas are the same nor do they offer equal health benefits. Black, green, oolong, and more recently white tea, come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Black tea, the most popular tea for Americans, claims 87% of the market. Its fermented leaves produce a rich full color and flavor. Oolong, rarely seen in America, is mildly fermented. The astringent flavored green tea and the sweet, silky, delicate-favored white tea aren’t fermented.

Herbal teas differ from what we call true tea. Herbal teas come from the leaves, fruits, or flowers of other plants. They contain no caffeine nor do they possess the same healthful qualities of the tea plant.

One tea bag of black tea has slightly less caffeine (about 40 milligrams) than a 12-ounce cola and about half as much as coffee. Caffeine in green tea is about half that of black tea, and white tea contains even less than green tea. One decaffeinated tea bag has about 2 milligrams of caffeine.

If you drink tea every day, it may keep you healthier in several ways. While earlier research touted healthfulness of green tea, black tea also promotes physical well-being, and white tea may contribute greater advantages because of its plentiful supply of antioxidants. Benefits attributed to tea include:

  • Decreased serum cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol, and triglycerides
  • Reduced risks of heart disease and stroke
  • Lowered risks of cancer including certain skin, colon, ovarian, and oral cancers
  • Improved immune function
  • Increased bone mineral density (BMD) which may lead to protecting women from osteoporosis
  • Decreased incidence of dental cavities
  • Reduced risk of kidney stones.

While you flatter your palate and celebrate the virtues of hot tea, bask in the thought of improved health. As the Apostle John wrote, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you” (3 John 1:2). Start today with a  cup of steaming hot tea. Enjoy!

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Well, now I’ve heard it all—fried Kool-Aid. Just when I thought it could get no worse than fried Twinkies, “Chicken” Charlie Boghosian made a batter from flour, water, and cherry flavored Kool-Aid, scoped it into balls and deep-fried like doughnut holes. Spin-off recipes on the web include egg and milk, but Boghosian isn’t about to share his successful formula. He attempts to introduce a new item each year to his assortment of goodies. Since he loved Kool-Aid as a child, why not try it fried. He introduced the delicacy in June 2011 at the San Diego County Fair. It was an immediate success. For an order of six or seven fried scoops, you could clog your arteries for a mere $5.95.

Not to be outdone, Mark Zable of Plano, TX filled pretzel dough with liquid beer and deep-fried it. He claimed the fried Kool-Aid was only flavored dough balls. His treat used real liquid. I think I’ll pass.

Other unusual health-food challenges presented at the Minnesota State Fair included deep-fried spaghetti and meatballs, bacon-cheddar mashed potatoes, and bologna, all on a stick.

Most nutrition databases don’t include such interesting foods. One thing is sure, all these fried concoctions provide whooping amounts of fat and calories.  Don’t look for any nutritive value. How many calories are there in a serving of fried cola dough topped with whipped cream and Coke syrup? One guess—about 830 calories. The Calorie King website gives the following estimates of similar foods. Five ounces fried Snickers (444 calories), two ounces fried Twinkie (420 calories), one Funnel cake (760 calories), one giant turkey leg (1,136 calories).

What will they think of next? Already in the works is fried bubble gum. The product didn’t work with real bubble gum. Instead, the creator used bubble gum-flavored marshmallows dipped in batter, deep-fried, and decorated with icing and powdered sugar.

As a nutritionist noted, foods at fairs and similar functions may be scarier than the dangerous rides offered. In an overweight society, what are we thinking? Such eating wreaks havoc on any health plan and creates a bulging waistline.

If you’re dying for Kool-Aid, check out http://www.calorieking.com/foods/search/Kool+Aid for nutritional information. Just skip the fried kind.

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Wishes for 2012

New Year’s Eve has passed and January 1, 2012 marked the beginning of a new year. Perhaps you took the last day of 2011 to reflect on the foods you ate and how they affected your health. For many, the past year changed lives, whether for better or worse. Maybe last year you made resolutions that soon went awry. Will you, or have you already, missed the mark in 2012?

Instead of impossible resolutions, consider a wish list. Do you wish you could eat more healthy this year? Consider ways to make that happen without a guilt trip when you don’t make the wisest choices.

How difficult would it be to eat one more vegetable or fruit each day? This one small change could help make a difference. Find ways, as I have, to sneak in those added foods. I make my sauce for lasagna. My adult grandson thinks my recipe is the best. Whether he knows it or not, each batch has two shredded carrots. If you use purchased sauce, add carrots to that. Some substitute zucchini for noodles or shred a few into the sauce. The same principle works for many vegetables and foods. I’ll bet young children will never suspect additional chopped vegetables on their pizza.

To add fruits, consider an old standby that most children (and adults) love—Jello. If you believe your children consume too much sugar, choose artificially sweetened gelatin. Combinations of fruit and gelatin are endless. Add fresh or frozen strawberries to strawberry flavored gelatin or canned Mandarin oranges to orange. Lime is great with apples. Crushed pineapple adds a great touch to all of these as well as other flavors.

Choose individual serving containers of flavored or original applesauce for a tangy dessert. Substitute applesauce for part of the oil in most baked goods such as cakes or nutbreads. This little ingenuity cuts fat in the diet (not to mention calories) as well as adding more fruits.

Other minor changes include passing up all those less healthy goodies in the grocery and reaching for special treats of low-fat yogurt or one of the many snack or protein bars. Just check labels to know what you are eating and choose the healthy ones.

If losing weight is your number one wish, as it is for many, the above choices will help with that, too. Forget failures and focus on the future. Many substitutions provide painless hidden ways to cut calories and at the same time eat healthier. Filling your cupboards and refrigerator with more nutritious snacks helps. May your wish for a healthier you come true in 2012.

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