Archive for October, 2012

October 30 is National Candy Corn Day. This treat has survived unchanged for more than a century. Production is expected to exceed 35 million pounds this year.

Although Halloween accounts for 75 percent of annual sales, candy corn is now available for other seasons:

  • Valentine’s Day; cupid corn (red, pink, white)English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's cand...
  • Easter; bunny corn (pastel colors)
  • Fall; Indian corn (chocolate and vanilla flavored)
  • Christmas; reindeer corn (red, green, white)

For a tasty treat with candy corn, try the recipe below. This is not an original, but I have used it for so many years, I have forgotten the source. Use less candy, if desired, to cut the amount of sugar and extra calories.

Place individual servings into zip-locked sandwich bags and serve to little goblins.

Try it and enjoy.


1                      package small pretzels (about 3-4 cups)

1                      box miniature peanut butter Ritz Bitz

1                      cup dry-roasted peanuts

1                      cup sugar

½                     cup margarine

½                     cup light corn syrup

2                      tablespoon vanilla extract

1                      teaspoon baking soda

1-2                   cups M&Ms

2                      cups candy corn

In a large bowl, combine the pretzels, Ritz Bitz, and peanuts.

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, butter, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and baking soda.

Immediately pour syrup over pretzel mixture and stir until coated.

Pour mixture into a greased 15x10x1″ baking pan or sheet. Bake at 250oF for 45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Break apart while warm. Toss with M&Ms and candy corn.

Pour onto wax paper to cool completely. Store in airtight containers.

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Sugar sugar

Sugar sugar (Photo credit: dhammza)

What do you think Halloween means to most children? My first guess is candy. I doubt they think much about ghost and goblins. They recognize the best part of trick or treat. It’s all about those gooey or hard high-sugar candies.

What’s a parent to do? While we’re concerned about all that sugar, what are we dishing out to our neighbor’s children?

Most of us enjoy sweets. There’s nothing wrong with candy to satisfy our occasional sweet tooth. But are some options healthier than others?

The National Confectioners Association at http://www.candyusa.com gives a calorie count of select candies and other helpful information. Consider these treats for less than 100 calories:




hard candy

one piece 20

Hershey’s miniature assortment



4-bite size chocolate squares

one 45
jelly beans 15-25 small


Brach’s candy corn

13 pieces 70
candy bars small snack size

about 80


small snack size


peanut butter cups two bite-sized

about 90


Although the high sugar content of candy is a concern, especially for children, it isn’t the worst thing they can eat. In the average diet, candy provides about 6 percent of added sugar, ranking just above dairy desserts at 5.4 percent. Fruit drinks come in third with 10.5 percent followed by grains and flour based desserts at 13 percent, and various other foods at 28 percent. The highest amount of sugar in the diet, at nearly 38 percent, comes from sodas and energy/sports drinks.

While candy contributed modestly toward total calories, researchers claimed it didn’t increase weight or body mass index (BMI) as much as other high-calorie foods and drinks. Children and adolescents who consumed more candy, which resulted in slightly higher total energy and added sugar intakes, weren’t as likely to be overweight or obese as those who did not eat candy.

Is this a license to overindulge? By no means. Added sugar in any food increases calories, and calories translate into weight.The average American eats candy less than twice a week and averages less than 50 calories a day from those tasty morsels.

This Halloween, use judgment in the amount of candy you allow yourself and your children.  Give the kids a treat while selectively controlling calories. Teach them to enjoy treats in moderation while eating healthier diets with plenty of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products, and whole grain breads and cereals. You will know you have done your part to keep them healthy.

Little goblins and adult ones, too, can savor limited amounts of candy treats on this special occasions without feeling guilty.


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If someone steps on your toe, the pain is minor compared to what gout sufferers experience. This arthritic condition affects as many as 8.3 million adults in the United States.

Excessive uric acid levels in the blood cause gout. Uric acid performs vital functions in the body (essential for genetic codes and energy metabolism and beneficial as an antioxidant), but excessive amounts cause severe pain. Uric acid crystals form in joints with about 90 percent occurring in the joint at the base of the big toe.

Several factors may trigger an attack—surgery, joint injury or infection. A lifestyle of alcohol and a high purine diet may initiate or worsen attacks.

The liver breaks down purines into uric acid. Foods highest in purines include:

  • organ meats (liver, kidney, etc)
  • poultry
  • other meats
  • seafood (especially anchovies, sardines, mussels)

More moderate amounts of purines can be found in:

  • whole grains
  • yeast
  • certain vegetables (asparagus, beans, cauliflower, mushrooms, peas, spinach)

Although eating foods high in purines increase the chance of an attack, they don’t cause gout.

In September 2012, the American College of Rheumatology issued new guidelines for gout management. Although they suggested eating less purine-rich meats and seafood, they pointed out that lifestyle changes weren’t likely to end attacks.

Recent research, however, found that cherries and cherry extract decreased the risk of gout attacks. Thirty-two percent of participants who ate cherries for two days cut their risk compared to 53 percent who took medication. Including cherries with allopurinol, a common drug used to lower uric acid levels, reduced attacks by as much as 75 percent. Eating more cherries up to three servings (1/2 cup per serving) dropped risks even more.

Cherries contain antioxidants and may inhibit certain enzymes in the same way as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID) such as ibuprofen. The future looks brighter for sufferers who combine cherries with traditional drugs to lower uric acid levels and reduce the risk of painful gout attacks. For more information about gout, go to www.Gout.com

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If women live long enough, all will experience menopause. Will what they eat affect their quality of life during this phase of the life cycle?

Each day about 6,000 women reach menopause. Some 80 percent will experience night sweats and vasomotor symptoms—better known as hot flashes. Up to half of those will have moderate to severe discomfort.

Women with larger body sizes, whether because of a higher body mass index or greater amounts of fatty tissue, tend to have more frequent or greater severity of symptoms. Likewise, as women gain weight or increase fat cells, they boost their chances of more problems.

A study reported in the journal Menopause supports evidence that weight loss can lessen symptoms. Nearly one-fourth of women who lost at least 10 pounds experienced fewer menopausal difficulties. The greatest relief occurred, however, in more than 50 percent of the participants who lost 10 percent or more of their body weight.

Some studies have indicated that a high-fiber, low-fat diet may reduce symptoms. In the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial, the women most likely to become symptom-free after one year were those who daily consumed a low-fat diet (20 percent or less of calories from fat) with five or more high-fiber servings of fruits and vegetables and six servings of whole grains. They also lost more weight than the control group.

Questions remain as to whether the high-fiber, low-fat diet lessened symptoms or if improvement resulted from losing weight. Regardless, weight-loss made a difference in the quality of life. The results from these studies seem like a win-win situation for women plagued with unpleasant side-effects of menopause.

What have you got to lose—except weight and hot flashes.

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