There’s more to chewing gum than meets the eye

Now that is clever!! and may address one of the problems with gum.

The other day somebody actually asked me why I’m often seen chewing gum. It was that type of question that implies chewing gum is something of the past, or something children can do and get away with but not adults, unless  you’re involved in a physical activity like tennis or racquet ball. For some reason chewing gum is projected as a lowerclass “thing”, maybe a step or two above smoking.

Chewing gum is for some unidentified reason associated with some social stigmas these days, as in an ex-smoker looking for oral satisfaction or the last resort quick fix for someone suffering from halitosis (bad breath), whether it’s caused by a lunch loaded with onions, garlic, turmeric and curry, or just bad dental health habits.
Although these contributions of chewing gum are positive side effects of the practice, I chew gum quite often and lately a bit more, because it reduces stress and helps me concentrate and focus.
So even though all those negative sentiments were part of the question, somehow I didn’t consider it too personal a question to not share the answer.

Chewing Gum has Great Health Benefits

Early on in my marketing career I was PR advisor to a Mental Hospital in the Netherlands, and had the great pleasure to have long conversations and interviews with the medical director of the Institute, who not only gave me a deep understanding of the human brain, he also gave some pointers in how to protect and improve its functioning. He told me about tests he did in which people who chewed gum while being tested produced much higher scores than those who were not chewing. He claimed it was largely the result of improved memory caused by the fact that the activity of chewing increases glucose levels in the area of the brain that controls our cognitive and memory functions, the hippocampus.
In addition he explained that chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain, which improves oxygen delivery to the brain, which enhances those cognitive powers.

Although I always question study results these days because of the often underlying ulterior motives of the study sponsors, there are a number of independent studies that have reported that blood flow to the brain increases by as much as 25 percent to 40 percent during gum chewing and that I would consider remarkable.
So even though chewing gum is not exactly a food group, it’s more than just something to keep your mouth occupied, something Researchers at Northwestern University recently confirmed what I learned 35 years ago: people who chew gum enjoy a substantial reduction in stress, as the blood flow protects brain cells from stress-related hormones.

And what further excites me personally is that chewing gum speeds up our heartbeat and blood pressure just enough to wake up both left-and right hemispheres of the brain to work together. It often gives me instant access to new and unique ideas and approaches to challenges.

So even though chewing gum has also apparent benefits to weight management, dental health and halitosis control as well as digestion and stress relief, I mainly chew gum to support increased bloodflow through my brain.
It’s a lesson I learned long ago, that has served me well, especially during periods of increased stress.

No More Deviled Eggs

The Best I got from 3 dozen eggs

The process to make the perfect deviled eggs starts with feeding chicken a properly balanced diet.
I’m a fairly good cook and given enough time, I can put something nice and special on the table. Not that it makes any difference in relationship to deviled eggs, but I just wanted you to know that I know my way around a kitchen.
So when I was recruited to make the deviled eggs and the meatballs for our daughter’s Baby Shower last Saturday at the Amelia Hotel at the Beach, I timely prepared and bought 3 dozen eggs Friday afternoon and some spices and herbs I use in my particular recipe.
Now the boiling process for perfect hard boiled eggs requires a little hands on attention. You can not just dump them in the water and walk away for 15 minutes. As the water is slowly getting to the boiling point you need to constantly roll the eggs in the water in order for the yolk to harden pretty much in the center of the eggs. Nothing is worse than a boiled egg that has a half inch wall of white on one side and has the yolk shine through on the other side. That’s a no-no.

After 9 minutes of boiling I take the pot off the stove, get rid of the scalding water and poor ice cold water over the eggs to shock the egg loose from the shell. It’s what I learned when I was 8 years old and it has always worked to perfection for me; softly break the shell and peel it off without a problem. I may have done a million eggs in that same manner since those early days. Never a problem.

Yet in recent years I have noticed increasingly that the simple task of peeling hardboiled eggs is not simple anymore. An increasing number of shells just don’t want to be peeled off and instead of leaving a smooth, soft, whole surface on the egg, they look like moon craters coming home from a rough Saturday night at the neighborhood’s biker bar.

Now I know that we’re living in an era, where half of the things we new when we were twenty have become extinct by the age of forty, and half of the things we know at forty did not exist when we were twenty, but boiling eggs should not be one of those things. I should not have to re-learn how to boil and peel hardboiled eggs!

Now I grew up on 10 acres on the outskirts of town and we had a couple of dozen free roaming chicken at any given time. That does not make me an expert on eggs, but I know a thing or two about the basics. My grandfather, who was the real expert on chickens told me to feed them some greens every day because the chicken need some honest food to turn eggs into perfect balls of protein. And with the right food intake the eggs come out with a reasonably hard outer shell and a thin sliver of inner coating.

Miserable result

If that is the case than peeling a hard boiled egg is a matter of 5-10 seconds.

Imagine my irritation when it takes 3-4 minutes per egg as I peel minuscule parts off and the inner skin keeps sticking to the egg white. In my days if you needed 5 to 6 minutes to peel 3 dozen eggs you were slow and out of a job (yes we did contests!).
Now Imagine 1 hour and 12 minutes… and you understand why this was the last time for a long while, that I make deviled eggs.

While looking at the bowl of deformed little eggs sitting next to the now two dozen good eggs, I also realized that I should be more aware of what I learned about taste, quality and health aspects of food when I was young. I know I don’t have much of a choice, nor time in these day to spend hours looking at the small print on cans and boxes, but if the outer shell of an egg becomes thinner than the inner coat, I think it may be time to be a bit more cautious with what I put in my mouth.

Cereal or Muffin -Another Useless Report

Remembering Phil Hartman in Saturday Night Live

A new scientific study says drinking coffee is good for you.
Another new scientific study says drinking coffee is bad for you.
What the @&%*#%! is going on here?

How many more studies do we need to endure to know the obvious? Here is one study that claims a breakfast choice that can make you love yourself more. The breakfast item in question? Cereal. In a study, the women who had it for breakfast every morning experienced greater self-esteem than the women who started their days with a muffin — even though both breakfasts had the same number of calories.

Mind over Food
The cereal eaters apparently felt fuller, happier, and more relaxed, according to food diaries the women kept to record how many calories they thought they’d had and what they felt after eating it. Even though both breakfasts had 400 calories, women who ate the cereal thought it had fewer calories — and they felt better about themselves because of it. And a mood boost like that is good for self-esteem, researchers note, because how people feel is closely linked to their perceptions of their weight and body image. Hello… ever heard of advertising? If a popular Hollywood actress tells you often enough with a studied smile on her face that you can be like her, if you would only eat Special K for breakfast, your adoption process of Special K accelerates when you buy the box of Special K at the store, which gives you a first Feelgood sensation and then when you actually break the vicious circle of bad breakfast habits and only take a serving of Special K in the morning, you know that you’re on your way to become a Hollywood success.

Now listen how Researchers confirm Feel-Good Flakes

Researchers think that the kind of self-love the cereal eaters experience may even boost the chances of weight loss success because feel-good vibes can help people stick with a weight loss plan. Choosing foods that you think are high in calories, on the other hand? It just makes you feel bad about yourself. And that may make you more likely to fall off the weight loss bandwagon.
Don’t you love these “researchers” as they cautiously “think” that when you do something good for yourself, you actually feel good, kind of accomplished. The problem is the mindset. If everyone who grabs a “Happy Meal” at MacDonald’s actually feels bad about themselves, we’d have a lot of Feelbad people on our hands. So here’s my reaction to this study; MacDonald’s should start serving cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner one day a week and name it: Oh Happy Day.

Come to think of it. How about a specialty store that only sells cereals? Hundreds of different ones. Some loaded with dried fruits, others with nuts or dried veggies and may be some with bacon bits and dried sausage.
This last one I would dedicate to these “wannabe researchers” who get paid by industries to write reports on issues we arbitrarily accept or reject.

When I walk out of the Gym at Club 14, I feel good and accomplished; when I’m on work overload and can’t make it, I feel burdened. Guess I need some cereal to lift my spirits, but there is that nagging piece of knowledge in the back of my mind, that cereal is loaded with sugars and THAT we all know is bad for us, even though it’s the base ingredient in most of our “comfort foods”.
I’m starting to get a bit confused about happiness and food, but I know that a Lobster Thermidor accompanied by a glass of vintage Pinot Grigio or Dopff d’Alsace gives me happiness. And if I can have it after a good work out and in the company of good friends, my happiness and feelgood rise to a boiling point.

Maybe I can get someone to pay me to research the Feelgood Factor of combining and offsetting the causes of good and bad feelings against the background of real life. I expect it to be well paid, and it has to include a lot of restaurant visits and a personal trainer.

Hazards of Social Eating

Hazards of Social Eating

Eating Contest

Most of our social engagements with friends revolve around food. Watching a football game? Bring on the wings, chips and beer! Having a birthday party? Cake and ice cream are nasty temptations if you are trying to eat healthy. So what can you do?

Obviously, I am no expert. You don’t get a figure like mine by watching what you eat! Noticing this social eating trend among our friends, my husband and I have decide to try a few subtle changes to see if we can reduce or replace our unhealthy caloric intake. After a bit of research and thinking long and hard about changes we can make, here are some ideas to try.

Eat a healthy meal before attending a party with lots of food and snacks. This way we won’t be hungry when we arrive and we should eat less.

If we bring a dish to a party, we will bring a healthy dish.

When it is suggested we meet another couple for dinner, we are going to suggest bowling or another physical activity instead.

Turn down dinner invitations and suggest stopping in for coffee afterwards when appropriate.

If we are hosting the get together, we try to plan for folks to come “after” dinner; this reduces the amount of food we have to serve. So we can save calories and a few dollars, too.

Avoid “grazing!” You are not required to taste some of everything on the buffet line! Look at what is available and choose the lower calorie options.

Avoid non-diet sodas and other sweet drinks. Learn to drink unsweetened tea or water.

Alcohol adds lots of calories to your diet. Try mixing your alcohol with water or diet soda rather than fruit juice cocktails or sugary sodas.

Drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages.

The best way to remove social pressure and drinking temptations? Volunteer to be the designated driver and don’t drink at all!

When you know you are going to splurge, eat light the day before and the day after.

Add a few extra workout routines to your schedule to burn off the extra calories.

The more people we are entertaining, the more food we prepare. All of our friends are excellent cooks and it seems we have begun a pattern of “one-uping” each other when it comes to shared meals. I will always know that none of our friends can beat my Lasagna or my sweet, baked Bar-B-Q ribs; and my husband’s sausage and cheddar cheese stuffed jalapenos are literally “to die for.” Well, this year we are throwing in the towel and crying, “Uncle!” All of this wonderful social eating is killing us!

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Keeping Your Eye on the Goal

Keeping Your Eye on the Goal

Keeping Your Eye on the Goal

When you have set a goal for yourself, any goal, it is important to keep your eye on the prize and not let everyday stressors get in your way. My goal happens to involve fitness. I intend to win this battle with my weight, but it is easy for me to make excuses and let things slide.

The following are some ideas that I have found to keep me on track so I can reach my fitness goals.

If you are like me, there are many things that can happen in your day that may change your schedule. A friend needs help, the house needs cleaning, dinner needs to be made, etc. Fitness needs to be scheduled in and made a priority in your week. If the classes are at a set time, plan to be there, and if you cannot, then have a backup plan so you can still get your workout done.

Another benefit to planning your workout time on a calendar would be for you to see how much time you have spent working toward your goal. As my doctor said, 10 minutes of exercise 3 times a day is as good as 30 minutes at once, but you still need to make time to get it done.

If bribery works for you, try rewarding yourself for completing all your scheduled workouts. The reward could be flowers, a new item of clothing, or really anything other than food. To make workouts even more enjoyable and a treat, see if you can find some friends to take the classes with you (or make new friends in your class) and then going to class would include visiting your friends!

Make sure your family and friends are aware of your scheduled workout times and then you will be less likely to be interrupted or tempted to make excuses. If your friends have scheduled a get together, you can tell them when you are available, or if you really want to go, schedule a new time to get to the gym. You will need to learn and recognize your particular “danger zones” and figure out how to negotiate around them.

There will be days that you simply don’t feel like exercising, but you must keep that goal firmly in mind and know that the ends will justify the means. If you sometimes struggle to get to your class, get a friend to call you to be sure you are not still sitting on the sofa. Also, make sure that your gym bag is always ready and packed and that your exercise gear is washed as soon as you get home. This way, dirty laundry does not become yet another excuse to avoid going.

A picture of yourself at your goal weight, or an outfit that you really want to fit into, may also help to motivate you and keep you on track. No matter how you do it, keep your eye on the goal and don’t give up!

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The Household Hype about Health Continues

A new trend for fresh veggies

With our household getting ready to go into overdrive on the issue of health, weightloss and feel good, I pick up a lot of stories that provide tips and sound advice. This following story came to me via a Craigslist post and I thought it interesting enough to share with you after I verified the credentials of the author.

Air gardens, EPA, Carbon Dioxide

In the middle of winter, when snow is drifting across the frozen landscape, fresh herbs and vegetables are at a premium in the stores. 
To help you get fresh produce at that time, some companies are advertising counter-top gadgets, so-called air gardens to grow your own green sprouts, ready to harvest in the depth of winter.

An air garden is a rewarding hobby that can provide some healthy food, such as tomatoes, lettuce and herbs, and aesthetic pleasure as well. Indirectly, it will also contribute some carbon dioxide to the air, but can it be a polluter? Like all living plants, your counter-top air garden needs a few key ingredients, namely some mineral nutrients, such as potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous salts, water, light (provided from a lamp above), and carbon dioxide (CO2). 
The salts are supplied, the water you add, and the light you plug into the nearest electric outlet and flip the switch.

The CO2, however, is silently garnered by the growing plants from the surrounding air. 
Even though CO2 is present at a concentration of only 0.04% in the air, nothing would grow at all without it. Many commercial greenhouse operations exploit that knowledge to accelerate plant growth by artificially raising the CO2 level to 0.1%.  Air gardens actually consume CO2 (by the growing plants), but, indirectly, they also create CO2 by consuming electricity via the grow-light.

Overall, your air garden converts nutrients and electricity into food and, indirectly, some CO2. 
All plants on the earth’s surface are getting their entire carbon from the photosynthetic process that is converting atmospheric CO2 to plant matter. Without CO2 in the air, no plant would exist on the surface of the earth.

So, do you think your air garden is a polluter?

Most of the carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air comes from volcanic emissions. Only a small percentage is from burning fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, natural gas, or wood. This CO2 is the natural and unavoidable main product of burning fossil fuels, a process which generates approximately 75% of North America’s electricity.

How does that relate to your air garden’s sprouts?

Well the EPA 
-the US Environmental Protection Agency- recently declared CO2 to be an evil dangerous pollutant and is in the process of limiting the CO2 output of electricity-generating power plants. That also means, indirectly, they are limiting the amount of electricity generated that way and available to you. That is how your air garden comes into focus and may soon be on EPA’s hit-list too. 
Better start your own air garden grow-operation soon, before itt becomes defined as a dangerous polluter and is outlawed. Oh yeah… and eat your veggies!

Dr. Klaus L.E. Kaiser

Forever Fit Challenge 2011

Forever Fit Challenge

Forever Fit Challenge

Forever Fit Challenge 2011 is coming to CLUB 14 FITNESS and you could win $1,000. The Forever Fit Challenge will start on January 26th with weigh-ins on January 24th and 25th.

Last year, SearchAmelia followed several of the contestants, including Dawn who took home the women’s first place prize and SearchAmelia’s own “Alex” who finished in 2nd place in the men’s category, on their quest to lose weight. See the story and catch a glimpse of what they have in store for you by viewing last year’s weekly videos HERE.

Once an initial body weight and fat percentage are determined, you will be ready to begin. Optional weigh-ins will be offered halfway through the program for those who are interested in checking their progress.

The contest will run for eight weeks and will end March 21st and 22nd with weigh-outs.

How the Contest is Judged

The contest will be judged by two parameters:
Percentage of fat lost and pounds of body weight lost.
Regardless of your body type, all contestants will be on the same playing field.


There is a $3,000.00 Prize Purse:
1st Place Male and Female – $1,000.00 Each
2nd Place Male and Female – $300.00 Each
3rd Place Male and Female – $200.00 Each

How Much Does it Cost?

All participants will receive a nutritional consult, one private training session and weekly circuit training classes.
$69.00 for CLUB 14 FITNESS Members
$159. for guests, which includes membership to the club for the eight weeks.

CLUB 14 FITNESS is located at 1114 S. 14th Street in the 8 Flags Shopping Center near the Movie Theater on Amelia Island. Sign up today, the Forever Fit Challenge starts on January 26th!

Two Expats, a Native and a Bottle of El Jimador

Baguette, Cheese and El Jimador, the party essentials

A couple of days ago our good friend Philippe Boets, the man behind Petanque America and the Annual Tournament in Downtown,  came over to our house to show me what needed to be done to get my Christmas Gift underway: a Pétanque Court in the Backyard.

For the occasion we introduced him to the most organic Happy Hour Drink we know, El Jimador Tequila, as he proclaimed to never have tasted it. As is usual during our get-togethers our conversations cover Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach and from there the world. This night we ended up talking about the “old” country versus the “new” country and some involuntary comparisons always come out. As I am deeply involved in the organization of the Amelia Island Blues Festival our conversation went to the Annual Fête de la Music, a huge global music festival that started in 1982 in France and has now spread to more than 100 countries around the globe. We think huge after a couple of shots.

The Fête de la Music was first held on June 21, 1982, the day of summer solstice, a pagan night which recalls the ancient tradition of Saint John’s feasts.  Now mind you, this story is not about music, but from music it is an easy step for us to get to food and when we brought out the extra aged Dutch Cheese to complement our Tequila, the ensuing conversation planted a story to my mind. In educated, exposed opinions, food quality in the US in general, has been historically low due to a few major corporations who control the food supply with little care about quality and too much focus on price.

Although there is some truth to that assessment, in my opinion however, the American consumer is to be blamed to a large degree, even though I also believe that consumers these days are pushing for better and… are showing a willingness to pay for better.

Historically Americans in general simply don’t value quality food, at least not enough to pay extra. And yes of course I am generalizing here. Compared however to European countries, the quality of basic staples is often worlds apart.

Take for example the fresh bakery on any block in Paris, Milan, Madrid, Brussels or my hometown of Heerlen easily makes better breads than any bakery in Jacksonville, Orlando or Atlanta. As my recollection goes I only found comparable in San Francisco and New York.
Here on island I cannot get a real Baguette, although some stores and restaurants are slowly getting closer to the formula.

Two minutes from my house in little French St.Martin however I can get a couple of “sticks” for 80 cents a piece, put some Dutch Cheese on it and wake up in Heaven. Furthermore, at almost any corner, I can buy coffees to die for. Then there’s the superior-quality milk. What we refer to as organic milk in the U.S. is just “milk” over in Europe,where you can’t find the poor quality of milk sold in the U.S. supermarkets, even if you tried. And my apologies that I’m not going to get into the salamis, deli meats, and vegetables available.

These aren’t food specialties with a special place in my heart, but rather items that any person can appreciate – milk, bread, coffee, etc. There’s something very strange going on here. How can people in a country with a much lower standard of living (St.Martin) than the U.S., be eating better in many ways? It’s seems too convenient to immediately blame the big corporations like the movie Food Inc. does, but I think it is because the European system is very much based around small vendors. It’s the local bakery on the corner, the farmers’ markets; it’s the neighborhood butcher and the tiny café with the best coffee made fresh every 30 minutes. Small business supports this way of life and the consumers support them. Small communities support small business. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. That’s why I’m such a big fan of keeping Amelia Island local. Support the local small business and quality is mostly guaranteed.

But of course this comes with a price in both time and money. It’s easier to grab some sliced Wonder”bread” from a grocery store shelf than to make a special trip to the bakery shop. Even without a price difference, there’s a higher cost there. But it’s a cost that many Europeans are willing to pay. And when you’re willing to pay this price, wonderful neighborhood bakeries will exist. In Europe the pull toward the big box grocery store model started at least 40 years ago, but somehow there is a balance kept between the two models, likely because the cities are older and kind of set in their architectural ways, leaving lots of space for small businesses to deliver quality.

Now that is what I'm talking about

I do think that America is slowly turning European as far as its food tastes go. It’s impossible to ignore the recent success of businesses such as Whole Foods and Starbucks Coffee, or even the opening of the Mustard Café at the Nassau Health Store. The consumer is becoming more concerned about quality and health, not just the price. Even Walmart sells organic milk now. (On a side note, I consider organic milk to be the gateway drug to organic food. If you haven’t tried it yet, do so). Forget for a minute the Lactose intolerancy or the supposed negative health implications and drink liquid whipped cream. Woohoo. The Dutch are famous for their milk cows and dairy and yet recent surveys have found them to be the tallest, yet healthiest people in the world. The only common denominator is milk products!

So we are on the right track here in America, however, consumer sentiment still has a long way to go. A lot of my friends love organic food but complain that they can’t afford it. Well to be brutally honest, that isn’t true for most of them. They can afford it, but they don’t value the food enough to spend the money. I can’t afford a Maserati or Bugatti at the moment, but if I choose not to buy one of those cars this year, and instead drive my bike on this gorgeous island, I can easily afford to eat much better for a long long time.

It’s of course a matter of personal preference.

Folks like my grandparents would rather have a three-year supply of fresh tomatoes than a giant TV. I get my aged Dutch cheese from iGourmet, because without it my Tequila is somehow a bit harsher and I don’t have the pleasure of seeing people close their eyes in pure ecstacy after just a small taste. People in Europe drive average small cars, because the gasoline is $6-$7 dollars a gallon. They need money in their budget to live life to the fullest and because of that, a car has become a tool. That’s just the lifestyle they’re accustomed to.

Sure, at first, I thought the whole organic food movement was simply an “alternative soul” niche market. But it’s really catching on for reasons that have nothing to do with the environment and everything with lifestyle changes. Now that the trend has started, I don’t think it will stop. And that is a good thing.

Uh Philippe, “how did I end up with this story instead of a story about the upcoming Blues Festival?”  Guess it was El Jimador, a name given to the experienced Mexican farmer who selects and cultivates the legendary and unique Blue Agave; the man whose perfect blend of experience and basic instinct commands respect for these plants, whose knowing eyes identify those, which after ten years of cultivation, have reached maturity, and whose strength and skilled management of his tools, bring the finest specimens to harvest.

And that is almost poetry without a hangover.

Club 14 Fitness Revolution

Club 14 Fitness RevolutionRev·o·lu·tion (from the Latin revolutio, “a turn around”) is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time.”

The revolution kicks off on January 10th at CLUB 14 FITNESS in the movie theater shopping center on 14th Street on Amelia Island. This is your opportunity to join the 2011 Fitness Revolution and make a serious change in your body’s organizational structure in a relatively short period of time!

Check out some of what they have lined up for you:


$39 PER MONTH PLUS Zero enrollment, available on January 10th, 2011 ONLY!


-Nutrition Coaching
-Chiropractic Analysis
-Massage Therapy
-Gait Analysis


-Forever Fit Competition
-Group Fitness Re-launch
-2011 Health Fair

For more information stop by, visit or call them at (904) 206-4414.

Dead Birds, Dead Fish and Hazmat Suits

Dead Birds, Dead Fish and Hazmat SuitsAll over the news both online and on television were stories about the thousands of birds that fell from the sky over Beebe, Arkansas late New Year’s Eve.

Described by many as a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, the community is looking for answers. Dead are mostly red-winged black birds and authorities are speculating the deaths may be related to lightning, stress, hail or fireworks. Really? Then why are officials from the Department of Environmental Services who are picking the birds off of lawns, roofs and streets wearing protective gloves, oxygen masks and hazmat suits?

Take a look at some of these reports for yourself:


Here is the official press release from Arkansas’s Game and Fish Commission, released January 1, 2011, regarding the dead birds.

BEEBE – Last night, ringing in the New Year took on a whole different meaning for the citizens of Beebe. Beginning at around 11:30 p.m., enforcement officers with Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began getting reports of dead black birds falling from the sky in the city limits of Beebe.

Officers estimated that over 1,000 birds had fallen out of the sky over the city before midnight. Most of the birds were dead, but some were still alive when officers arrived. The blackbirds fell over a one-mile area in the city. AGFC wildlife officer Robby King responded to the reports and found hundreds of birds.

“Shortly after I arrived there were still birds falling from the sky,” King said. King collected about 65 dead birds that will be sent to the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission lab and the National Wildlife Health Center lab in Madison, Wis.

The AGFC has flown over the area to gauge the scope of the event. There were no other birds found outside of the initial area.

AGFC ornithologist Karen Rowe said that strange events similar to this one have occurred a number of times across the globe. “Test results usually were inconclusive, but the birds showed physical trauma and that the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail,” Rowe said.

Another scenario may have been that New Year’s Eve revelers shooting off fireworks in the area may have startled the birds from their roost. The birds may have died from stress.

Rowe said that it didn’t appear as though the birds died of any poisoning or other event. “Since it only involved a flock of blackbirds and only involved them falling out of the sky it is unlikely they were poisoned, but a necropsy is the only way to determine if the birds died from trauma or toxin,” she said. Testing will begin on Monday.

The City of Beebe has hired U.S. Environmental Services to begin the cleanup and dispose of the dead birds. The environmental firm will go door-to-door to pick up the birds that are still in yards and on roof tops.

Mid Air Collision

MSNBC has recently revealed the cause of death may have been a mid-air collision among the birds.

But wait… there’s more

24 Hours Later

Twenty four hours later and 125 miles away, hundreds of thousands of Drum fish were found dead in the Arkansas River.


What do you think?

Could these incidents have been caused by government testing as many commenting on a wide variety of articles on this topic are suspecting? Or is something else at play here? Let us know what you think!

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The Inevitable Post Holiday Diet Effort

Potatoes are back on the diet roster

This year we left a lot of traditional calorie boosters out of our Holiday intake line up. We kept an eye on Portion Control, we went light on the alcohol, heck we even cut out our Rum Fruit Grog Tradition, in an effort to limit the caloric damage. Well sad to say that the result in weight gain is about the same as in any other year when we went all out. That verdict came in when we faced the window on our scale of damage by the first of the New Year.
The question now is, would we have gained even more if all our traditionals would have been part of the Holiday Food and Beverage Equation?

A glimpse of how this may have worked was recently revealed in a new study of overweight people and the effect of potatoes in their diets.
As we all know, for quite a few years now, potatoes have been declared a starchy evil in any serious diet effort. Turns out however there is no truth to that at all.

Researchers tested this very theory as they put everyone in the study on a diet but let half of them eat a serving of potatoes almost every day. Twelve weeks later, the potato eaters had lost roughly the same amount of weight as the potato abstainers — about 3 pounds.

Contrary to popular belief, carbs aren’t off limits when you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, your body needs carbs for energy and key nutrients. And in a study where overweight people cut 500 calories from their diet each day, people still lost weight regardless of whether their diet included potatoes. Bottom line: When it comes to weight loss, the overall composition of your diet is more important than including or excluding any single food. A calorie-controlled diet that is balanced, high in fiber and nutrients, and focused on healthful fats will get you further than nixing bread. Or potatoes. Or any one food group, like carbs.

Whether you’re trying to slim down or just boost your nutritional status, potatoes are a super menu choice. One medium baked potato with the skin serves up 4 grams of fiber, 900 milligrams of potassium, and a healthy dose of vitamin C. All for just 160 calories. Top your tater with corn, black beans, and salsa to ratchet up the flavor and nutrition without adding tons of extra fat and calories.

Armed with this information I’ll reintroduce the potato to our menu, however I have one overriding concern resulting from this test: Overweight people cut 500 calories from their daily intake and in twelve weeks only drop 3 pounds on average??? They mean that for 84 days I drop 500 calories from my daily intake (that is 42,000 calories!) and I only loose 3 pounds?

I think it’s time to make my cabbage soup; I’ll loose 3 pounds in 3 days, guaranteed.

Food Channel Predictions for 2011

Back to Grandma's Canning Corner

At this time of the year, everyone and his lapdog comes out with a list of forecasts and trends that will see daylight in 2011. Nothing new therefore when I got this email from the Food Channel that 2011 will see a lot more Home Canning, more Men Cooking and more purchasing of local foods.

The Food Channel, along with CultureWaves, Mintel International and International Food Futurists, identified the most significant food trends that will drive how people eat throughout 2011.

“The new economy has created a boldness and willingness to change how we work, how we cook and how we eat. All of our 2011 trends reflect that in some way,” says Kay Logsdon, editor of The Food Channel. “One example is baby boomers wanting to age well. For example, trend No. 10 explains they are eating for better sex, more energy and the ability to work longer.”

The Food Channel’s top 10 trends for 2011 are:
• The canning comeback, something grandma did is gaining popularity for both economy and health.
• More men cooking because of layoffs.
• People wanting to get food grown locally.
• Americans are of tired of being told what they can eat.
• Social media working as a food guide and coupon source.
• Corporations thinking like small businesses to respond to a changing market.
• More fresh foods daily via gardens.
• Bringing chefs to schools to improve taste and improve diet.
• Eating “out of the box”, because change makes people comfortable with more change.
• Eating for better sex and better health to live longer and healthier.

Well I would like to add that foregoing doesn’t change my circumstance one bit, as aside from the holidays, I do the great majority of cooking around the house and an important reason why is, that I work from the house. Surprisingly that trend does not show up on the Food Channel’s list, but I think that one important reason for the trend detection is the fact that a growing number of people have taken their business to the internet working from the home, which will have consequences on eating out as well as the type of foods purchased.

One major change for me is that grocery shopping once a week has now turned into daily or at least three times a week, increasing the level of fresh food in my household substantially, while also stocking up canned food like the squirrels in my attic.

New Year Resolutions… Again

New Year Resolutions... Again

New Year Resolutions... Again

Here we go again. It is the time of year when most people are either making resolutions about how they are going to be in the year ahead or they have given up on resolutions because they have disappointed themselves by making promises that they haven’t kept. I recall my article from last year called Time to Make Some Changes and I see that I have not been very successful in implementing and sticking to the life changes that I wanted to achieve.

Although I may not have accomplished all my goals, a lot of positives were achieved during the year. I traveled to Ohio and Tennessee. I graduated summa cum laude with a BS in Legal Studies. I spent time with my mother and granddaughter. I completed many quilting projects. I welcomed my husband home from Kuwait. 2010 was a good year.

If you plan to make New Year’s resolutions, be sure that they are realistic. Psychology Professor Richard Wiseman created a quiz to assess whether or not the techniques that you plan to use will actually work. You can find it at I scored in the medium range.

I am looking forward to 2011 knowing that I need to make time for me. My health, both mental and physical, is important. Working on my goal of being fit may take some time and I may slip up, but if my ultimate goal is to improve my life and I keep that in mind, it will help keep me going. Even when I slip up, as long as there is an overall improvement, it is a success! Isn’t that the whole point of this resolution thing?

Happy New Year!

Family Togetherness is Making Me Sick

Family Togetherness is Making Me Sick

The Common Cold

Yes, I love my family and I love the time we spend together, but all of this family togetherness is making me sick, literally!

Traveling in the tight quarters of the family sedan to Grandma’s house is the best way for Cousin Bobby to give you his cold. Let us all gather in the dining room and hold hands for a prayer before Christmas dinner; thank you little Suzie, I now have your sniffles!

When you work outdoors or mostly alone as the adults in my home do, then you aren’t exposed to as many germs that cause illnesses, I suppose that makes my immune system a bit weaker than other people’s. And these Christmas gatherings are making me sick.

I hate to catch a cold, the sniffles or the flu!

    -If you have a fever stay home. If you or your child has had a fever within the past 24 hours, stay home!
    -Don’t use your hand to shield a cough or sneeze, use your elbow. Since it is difficult to open a door with your elbow, this will reduce germs spread on doorknobs, lightswitches, remote controls and keyboards.
    -Use disposable drinking glasses. When you have company over for several days, just use disposable drinking cups and throw them away! Not a big tree-hugging initiative, but you will reduce the chances of catching their cold.
    -Take vitamin C and increase your vitamin D!
    -Get plenty of rest. It is easy to over extend yourself physically during the holidays. You do not have to do it all… call it a day and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Remember, this is your holiday, too!
    -Drink plenty of fluids.
    -Encourage your guests to scrape their plates and put their dirty dishes in the sink. You shouldn’t have to touch everyone’s dirty napkins and eating utensils!
    -Avoid white sugars. This is harder to do this time of the year with so many delectable tidbits lying about.
    -Don’t drink alcohol to excess. This is also hard to do with the in-laws visiting this time of the year.
    -Continue your exercise routine unless you have already contracted a severe cold.

The weather does not make you sick. It is the behavioral changes that often accompany weather changes that may cause you to get exposed to cold and flu viruses. Staying rested and healthily active will keep you feeling your best into the New Year… and if you must, it is ok to avoid your sister’s snot-nosed kids if they have been ill!

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Battling the Holiday Season Weight Gain

Apple Cider Vinegar to the Holiday Weight Gain Rescue?

Between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, the pressure on the waistline of your pants or jeans seems to be accelerating quickly. Too many Holiday Parties, dinner events, office party hors d’oeuvres and snacks in the cupboard.

I have lost count of how many times in recent weeks we have gone out to restaurants and on the way back in our car, loosened the top button of our pants, while having discussions on how, come January 1st life will make a big turn for the gym, diets and no more alcohol.

So when I read a story about how vinegar, or more precise the acetic acid in vinegar, is capable of inhibiting the body’s ability to store fat. It turns out that vinegar does double-duty fat-blasting, especially around the middle where the body likes to stock up on the stuff.

It also doesn’t seem to matter what vinegar — white, apple cider, balsamic or even red raspberry — you use. What’s critical is that you use the vinegar that has 5% acidity (acidity is typically marked on the label). The antiglycemic effect is greater the more vinegar you consume: The bare minimum for lowering your blood sugar is 1 to 2 tablespoons. It’s not the most chuggable liquid, so I think the best delivery system is as a dressing. I make a killer cucumber salad with an assortment of vinegars but in combination other fat burning foods such as asparagus, celery, onions. beets, brussel sprouts, cabbage, tomatoes and carrots, it can do wonders for your waist.

For a salad dressing it suffices to mix your favorite vinegar with olive oil at a 2 (vinegar):1 (oil) ratio, and serve with mixed leafy greens, crucifers like watercress and arugula, and other veggies or even potatoes. Be creative.

Another recent study revealed that obese people who took in 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily melted significantly more body fat and especially belly fat than a group taking a placebo — despite being on the same diet and exercise plan.

Oh, and listen to this, vinegar also seemed to help lower bad-for-the-heart triglyceride levels and systolic blood pressure as was discovered at the end of the 12-week study. That’s what I would call a Sherpa’s load of health benefits for one little flavor maker.
Piece of advice, start getting your daily dose of vinegar (don’t overdo it or you may get negative side effects from low potassium and low bone density) and maybe you won’t have to get the 2 sizes bigger clothes out of the winter wardrobe chest.

And even though some dietitians and “health experts” call it irresponsible for celebrities like Megan Fox to endorse the vinegar diet, citing potential damage to the liver, I don’t hear them calling drug companies irresponsible, even if their pharmaceuticals cause potentially debilitating side effects. I did a vinegar diet about 7 years ago and lost close to 50 lbs – actually the only thing I did was eating my daily serving of lettuce and greens with a oil and vinegar dressing.

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