Tag Archives: healthy

An apple a day RX? Madison announces program for docs to prescribe fruits, veggies

Some Madison residents are eligible for a program in which doctors prescribe healthy and fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

The city announced the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program — FVRx — is focused at the neighborhood level, with financial support from Wholesome Wave and a partnership between Willy Street Co-op North and UW Health Northeast Family Medical.

Wholesome Wave is a national group dedicated to “affordable, healthy, local food for all.” Its mission is to empower under-served consumers to make healthier food choices by increasing affordable access to fresh, local food. The group funded the pilot with a $23,000 grant to the city of Madison.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said in a statement, “By collaborating with partners at Public Health Madison and Dane County, Willy Street Co-op, Second Harvest Foodbank and UW Health Northeast Family Medical Clinic, the city continues to illustrate how government and the community can work hand-in-hand to increase the well-being and health of all of our residents.”

Here’s how the program works: A patient can qualify for aid to help purchase produce and join the co-op if a doctor deems he or she does not have food security. Food security means a person has reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food.

To qualify for the aid, a patient must answer yes to one of two questions:
• In the last year, have you worried about having enough food until you could buy more?
• In the last year, have you actually run out of food before you could buy more?

The aid comes in the form of a packet that includes a coupon to become a co-op owner and 60 $2 coupons that can be used in the produce department until the end of the year.

Participants can also join a program at the co-op that offers an additional 10 percent off of groceries and a free coupon to attend one of the co-op classes, which would normally charge a fee.

“The co-op is invested in continuing to expand the ways in which we can help address food security in Dane County,” said Kirsten Moore, director of cooperative services.

Moore said data collected from the pilot will help the co-op determine how to continue and fund these type of programs for the future.

“We already have some great ideas to share in the next few months, and we look forward to launching new initiatives to expand these offerings,” Moore said.

 

On the menu: Breaded cauliflower cutlets

Let’s say that one of your New Year’s resolutions is to eat healthier and lose some weight. Join the crowd, right?

In practice, what we probably mean — among other things — is that we plan to eat more vegetables and less meat.

It’s a challenge.

But if you try this dish — a wonderful vegetarian version of breaded veal (or pork or chicken) cutlets swimming in a marina sauce — you will see how easy and satisfying it can be to turn a resolution into reality.

You start by slicing a whole head of cauliflower into cutlets.

The idea is to end up with thick slabs of the vegetable. One easy method for doing this is to cut the head in half down the center, then turn each half on its cut side and cut the halves into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. There will always be a few loose bits from the ends, but those also can be breaded and cooked as described below.

You’ll want to take care with the breading, too. It’s a three-step process: dust the steaks lightly with cornstarch, coat them well with an egg mixture, then finish them with a layer of breadcrumbs. This is standard operating procedure among culinary pros. The three layers provide a more substantial crust than any other single coating or combo of coatings.

Now it’s time to brown your vegetable cutlets. You could do it in a skillet — just as you would a breaded meat cutlet — but that would require a ton of oil (those breadcrumbs just soak it up).

And remember, it’s the New Year and you’re on a new path. So we bake them instead, which requires a lot less oil. The key is to place the cutlets fairly close to the heat source. In my electric oven that’s the top of the stove. If they’re not properly browned at the end of the prescribed cooking time, just leave them in the oven a little longer.

Then dig in. The biggest flavor is going to come from the marinara sauce. Your brain likely won’t care at all whether the cutlet is veal or vegetable. But your body will thank you.

BREADED CAULIFLOWER CUTLETS WITH MARINARA

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (45 minutes active)

Servings: 4

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

I large head cauliflower

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 cup cornstarch

1 3/4 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups speedy marinara (recipe below) or store-bought marinara, heated

Heat the oven to 400 F.

In a small bowl, combine the oil and the garlic. Set aside.

Pull off any leaves from the stem end of the cauliflower and trim off just enough of the stem so the cauliflower stands flat on the counter. Slice the cauliflower head in half down the center top to bottom. One at a time, set each half onto its cut side. Starting from one end of each half, slice crosswise to create 1/2-inch-thick slices. This will yield 3 to 4 cutlets from the center of each half, with the small ends being chunks. The chunks can be prepared as the cutlets, or reserved for another use.

In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, 3 tablespoons of water and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.

On a sheet of kitchen parchment, combine the cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stirring the mixture with a fork to combine. On a second sheet of parchment, combine the panko with the cheese, stirring with a fork.

One at a time, coat the cauliflower cutlets (and trimmings, if using) on both sides with the cornstarch, knocking off the excess. Next, dip each in the egg mixture, coating them on both sides and letting the excess drip off. Finally, coat them with the panko mixture, patting the crumbs on well. Set aside.

Strain the garlic oil through a mesh strainer, pressing hard on the garlic to get out all the oil. Discard the garlic (or reserve for another use).

On a rimmed baking sheet, spread half of the oil in an even coating. Set the baking sheet on the oven’s top shelf and heat for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and quickly arrange the prepared cauliflower on it in a single layer. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, drizzle the tops of the cauliflower evenly with the remaining oil, turn them over, then bake for another 15 minutes. Divide the cauliflower among 4 serving plates, then serve topped with marinara.

Nutrition information per serving: 490 calories; 190 calories from fat (39 percent of total calories); 21 g fat (4.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 170 mg cholesterol; 1110 mg sodium; 58 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 17 g protein.

SPEEDY MARINARA

Start to finish: 35 minutes (10 minutes active)

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 large cloves garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Hefty pinch red pepper flakes

28-ounce can plum tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted), chopped

Kosher salt

In an unheated medium saucepan, combine the garlic and the oil. Turn the heat to medium and cook, turning over the garlic several times, until it is just golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and a hefty pinch of salt, then bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook at a brisk simmer until the sauce is reduced to about 2 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the garlic. Season with salt.

Nutrition information per 1/2 cup: 60 calories; 25 calories from fat (42 percent of total calories); 2.5 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 460 mg sodium; 8 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 1 g protein.

Sara Moulton is host of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including “Cooking Live.” Her latest cookbook is “Home Cooking 101.”

E-cig use stalls as health concerns grow

Use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices has stalled in the United States as more Americans question their safety, according to a new online Reuters/Ipsos poll.

About 10 percent of the 9,766 adults surveyed between April 19 and May 16 use the devices, the same percentage as in a similar Reuters/Ipsos poll in May, 2015.

This year, however, a growing percentage of participants expressed negative attitudes toward e-cigarettes. Forty-seven percent of respondents said vaping was not healthier than smoking conventional cigarettes compared with 38 percent who felt that way a year ago.

Forty-three percent said they did not believe vaping could help people quit smoking compared with 39 percent who held that view in 2015. A majority of participants — 66 percent – say that vaping can be addictive compared with 61 percent in 2015. Additionally, 49 percent said this year that it could have a similar effect to that of second-hand tobacco smoke compared with 42 percent last year.

The growing concerns about the devices could hit their already slowing sales, especially for smaller e-cigarette and vaping companies. Many of these brands have lost market share to big tobacco companies, such as Altria and Reynolds American Inc. Some do not expect to survive with new U.S. rules to regulate the e-cigarette market.

“In some ways, a move away from e-cigarettes is actually positive for Altria and Reynolds,” said Morningstar analyst Adam Fleck, pointing out it may help sustain sales of conventional cigarettes, whose margins are much higher.

Sharra Morris, 42, a mental health counselor in Moore, Oklahoma, started using e-cigarettes in February despite some misgivings about their safety. She tried vaping to help her quit smoking regular cigarettes.

“The question now is: are they really safe?” said Morris, who likes to vape using liquids flavored to taste like Fruit Loops cereal and Snickerdoodle cookies. “What will they tell us in 20 years?”

E-cigarettes are metal tubes that heat liquids typically laced with nicotine and deliver vapor when inhaled. The liquids come in thousands of flavors, from cotton candy to pizza.

Use of the devices has grown quickly in the last decade, with U.S. sales expected to reach $4.1 billion in 2016, according to Wells Fargo Securities. Sales were down 6 percent in the first quarter of 2016, however.

The healthcare community remains deeply divided over the devices. Some healthcare experts are concerned about how little is known about the potential health risks. They are especially worried about rising teen e-cigarette use, and fear that may get a new generation hooked on nicotine.

Some support them as a safer alternative to tobacco smoke for smokers who have been unable to quit.

Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, has advocated vaping as a way to wean smokers off conventional cigarettes. He blames negative publicity for the growing concerns about the devices, and believes most are unwarranted.

“There have been public health scares, and they are working,” said Siegel. “They are dissuading a lot of people from trying these products.”

CHANGING ATTITUDES

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its first rules regulating e-cigarettes earlier this month, banning their sale and advertising to minors and requiring that manufacturers submit their products for approval.

At least one lawsuit has been filed in response to the new rules and more are expected. Many smaller companies say the testing requirement is too burdensome because it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per product, and they often manufacture dozens. They say the rules favor the large players, such as Altria and Reynolds.

Companies selling in the United States are banned from marketing the products as smoking cessation devices. About three-quarters of people who switch between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes said in the Reuters/Ipsos survey they tried them to quit conventional cigarettes, but still smoke tobacco “on occasion.”

Many are like Michael Whittaker, a 47-year-old delivery driver from Halifax, Massachusetts, who took up vaping a few months ago. “I figured it might be better for me and I might smell better.”

Now he is trying to cut back on both, which is common for dual users.

About 80 percent of people who switch between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes said they vape “in places where regular cigarettes are prohibited,” such as public buildings, or “when I’m near people who don’t like tobacco smoke.”

About half of those who currently vape or said they used e-cigarettes in the past said friends and family encouraged them to try the devices. The Reuters/Ipsos poll has a credibility interval, a measure of its accuracy, of plus or minus 1.1 percentage point for all respondents and 5.6 percentage points for questions asked of people who switch between conventional and e-cigarettes.

A concern for healthcare professionals is that while 29 percent of those who stopped vaping said in the poll they “quit all nicotine products,” almost half returned to conventional cigarettes.

Of those who went back to traditional tobacco products, 57 percent said they returned to conventional cigarettes because vaping was not satisfying, and 10 percent said it was not convenient enough. U.S.-approved smoking cessation products and strategies include medications, patches and counseling, many of which are now covered by insurance.

“We think there are certainly more and better ways to help smokers to quit,” said Erika Sward of the American Lung Association. “When you’re going to e-cigarettes, you’re not quitting, you’re switching,” she said.

(Reporting By Jilian Mincer; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Tomasz Janowski)

Enthusiast Brandy Tseu uses an electronic cigarette at The Vapor Spot vapor bar in Los Angeles, California March 4, 2014. The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes, popularly known as "vaping," from restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other public spaces within the nation's second-largest city.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Enthusiast Brandy Tseu uses an electronic cigarette at The Vapor Spot vapor bar in Los Angeles, California March 4, 2014. The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes, popularly known as “vaping,” from restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other public spaces within the nation’s second-largest city. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Emeril Lagasse tells life story via recipes in new cookbook

Before there were Food Network icons and cultish produce, before farm-to-table was a philosophy and cake decorating became a competitive sport, there was Emeril Lagasse.

And his is a life story best told by the kitchens that formed and informed him. There was the Portuguese bakery where he washed dishes as a youngster, the pizzeria where he stretched dough in high school, the Asian restaurants where he learned the secrets of Chinese sauces, and of course the grand kitchen of New Orleans’ iconic Commander’s Palace, where he became head chef at 23.

It’s a story Lagasse is ready to tell. His latest cookbook, “Essential Emeril,” is his life in recipes, a collection that covers everything from Asian fusion and Tex-Mex to classic French and Italian.

“Cooking isn’t just about what ends up on the plate. It’s the journey, taking time, having a plan, being prepared, being patient, noticing the smells, being mindful of what’s going on in the pan,” he said. “(The book) is a generous slice of the amazing journey I’ve had up until now in this glorious world of food.”

Through stories and recipes that chart his course through the television and restaurant worlds, Lagasse shares the foods and people _ everyone from his mother to Mario Batali _ that shaped his career. Peppered throughout the cookbook _ Lagasse’s 19th _ are many of the New Orleans dishes he has become known for, including barbecue shrimp with jalapeno biscuits, pork candy ribs with spicy hot Creole seasoning, and andouille-crusted redfish with Creole meuniere sauce.

And through those recipes, Lagasse gives us a glimpse at another side of the chef Americans came to know best for kicking things up a notch. He reflects back on those early, nervous years when he first took over at Commander’s and spent his days off in the Louisiana country, visiting farmers and Vietnamese fishing boats, sourcing trigger fish and escolar that “no one else was bringing to the table.”

“If I could control as much of the quality of what was being served on the table for my guests, then this was what was going to be the path in building an incredible reputation as a chef,” he said in a recent interview. Eventually, “memories of my childhood started flashing back at me and why my family had a farm and why they raised animals. … The avenues connected and my love and fondness for what I was doing just grew.”

Lagasse also isn’t afraid of dropping the names of the many celebrities he has counted among customers and friends. And that’s half the fun of reading the book. For example, there are the “potatoes Alexa,” made with a portobello-truffle emulsion, named after Billy Joel’s daughter, as well as the triple truffle risotto he served to Sammy Hagar at his wedding.

Lagasse went on to open numerous restaurants of his own, including Emeril’s in New Orleans, NOLA and Delmonico. And the book is filled with tips and recipes inspired by those who helped him along the way, Charlie Trotter to Julia Child.

More recently, Lagasse’s television career has focused on Florida, where he lives with his family. When producers first approached him about “Emeril’s Florida,” Lagasse was taking a break and not interested. But the avid fisherman, who loves spending rare days off on the boat with his kids, said he started thinking about the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and all the lakes and ponds around the state. “I’m going to show people that there is so much abundance here.”

“I love the state,” he said. “I’ve met some amazing people from shacks that sell fish sandwiches to five-star restaurants.”

In the kitchen…

CHICKEN WITH CHAMPAGNE AND 40 CLOVES OF GARLIC

“The slow cooking of the garlic makes this dish sweet, nutty and creamy,” Emeril Lagasse writes in his new cookbook, “Essential Emeril.” “Some folks like to cut up a whole chicken, but I prefer all thighs. They braise well and the meat stays juicy. I used Champagne because I love the subtle flavor it adds, but any dry white wine could be substituted.”

Start to finish: 1 hour 45 minutes

Servings: 6

2 tablespoons olive oil

10 to 12 large bone-in chicken thighs (about 5 pounds)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

40 cloves garlic, peeled (about 3 whole heads)

1/4 cup lemon juice, or to taste

1 cup Champagne or other dry sparkling or white wine

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

6 sprigs fresh thyme

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oven to 325 F. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high. When the pot is hot, add the oil.

Season the chicken on both sides with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Working in batches so as to not crowd the pot, sear the chicken, skin side down, until golden brown, about 6 minutes per batch. Brown briefly on the second side, then transfer the browned chicken to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Add the garlic to the empty pot and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice, Champagne, broth and thyme. Return the chicken to the pot, nestling the pieces down into the liquid. Make sure some of the garlic is sitting on top of the chicken. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pot, then place in the oven. Cook, stirring once midway to ensure even cooking, until the chicken is falling-off-the-bone tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken and some of the garlic to a platter, then cover with foil to keep warm. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs from the pot.

In a medium bowl, mash together the flour and butter to form a smooth paste. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of the hot juices from the pot into the paste until smooth, then add this mixture to the pot along with 2 tablespoons of the parsley. Whisk to combine. Don’t worry if some of the garlic cloves get smashed; they will help to thicken and enrich the sauce. Cover and cook over medium heat until the gravy has thickened, 10 to 20 minutes longer.

Season the sauce with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or more to taste. Serve the chicken with the gravy spooned over the top and sprinkled with the remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley.

Nutrition information per serving: 870 calories; 560 calories from fat (64 percent of total calories); 62 g fat (18 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 325 mg cholesterol; 1,090 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 56 g protein.

(Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s “Essential Emeril,” 2015, Oxmoor House)

Got fresh tomatoes? A recipe for Summer’s End Tomato Tart

If you’re like me, you believe that a fresh, ripe tomato is one of the best things about summer. And this tart is an ode to the tomato in season — and a lesson about how to make the most of it.

Let’s start with how to choose the best tomatoes. First, pick up your candidate, smell the stem and confirm that it smells strongly like a tomato. Next, figure out if it is juicy by hefting it. You want a heavy tomato; if it’s heavy, it’s juicy.

On the chance that you buy more tomatoes than you plan to eat right away, store the extras on a counter away from the sunlight. Do not put them on a sunny windowsill, which can make them rot. Likewise, don’t put them in the refrigerator, which can kill their flavor if they’re not already ripe and make them mealy after a few days.

If you bought a few tomatoes that weren’t quite ripe and you want to speed up the process, put them in a brown paper bag with a banana. The ethylene gas given off by both the tomatoes and the banana will do the trick.

Do not seed the tomatoes. Once upon a time we routinely seeded them, a nod to the French ideal of finesse, which decreed that seeds were crude. Years later, I read a story in Cook’s Illustrated magazine that persuaded me that discarding the seeds is a mistake. Apparently, the seeds and the jelly surrounding them are the most flavorful parts of the tomato. And — bonus! — you save a bunch of prep time when you don’t bother to remove the seeds.

One of the main reasons we love tomatoes in season is because they’re so juicy. That’s great when we eat them raw, not so great when we’re making a tomato pie. How to keep juicy tomatoes from turning that pie into a watery mess? By slicing and salting them ahead of time. The salt delivers a one-two punch, draining the tomato of its excess liquid and concentrating its natural flavors.

Though tomatoes are terrific all by themselves, they also get along famously with a cornucopia of other ingredients, starting with virtually every herb under the sun and moving on to just about any cheese you care to name. This recipe calls for Gruyere, but you’re welcome to swap in sharp cheddar, mozzarella or even feta. Point is, feel free to experiment with different herbs and cheeses that melt. Make this recipe your own.

Tomatoes are so meaty and satisfying that I’m sure everyone _ even die-hard carnivores _ will be happy to see a slice or two of this pie set down for lunch, maybe with a simple green salad on the side. And picnickers take note: This tart happens to be as scrumptious served at room temperature as it is hot right out of the oven.

SUMMER’S END TOMATO TART

Start to finish: 2 hours 55 minutes (30 minutes active)

Servings: 8

All-purpose flour, for rolling out the dough

1 pie dough (recipe below) or 12 ounces store-bought pie dough

1 1/2 pounds large tomatoes

Kosher salt

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere cheese

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as mint, basil, thyme, chives, tarragon or a mix

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough until 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, easing the dough into the pan and pressing it into the corners. Trim off any excess dough hanging over the edge. Prick the dough all over with a fork, then chill it for 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 375 F.

Line the pie shell with foil and fill it with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake in the lower third of the oven until it is opaque throughout, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove the weights and foil. Return the shell to the oven and bake until light golden, about another 8 minutes. Transfer the tart shell to a rack and let it cool 15 minutes.

While the tart shell is baking, slice the tomatoes 1/3 inch thick, sprinkle them liberally with salt, then arrange them on a wire rack to drain over the sink or a rimmed baking sheet.

Increase the oven temperature to 400 F. Spread the mustard evenly over the bottom of the tart shell, then sprinkle the cheese over it. Pat the tomatoes dry and arrange them over the cheese in one overlapping layer. Bake on the oven’s middle shelf until the pastry is golden brown and the tomatoes are very soft, 35 to 40 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic and herbs. Sprinkle the pie with this mixture while it is still hot, spreading the mixture gently with the back of a spoon. Serve the pie hot or at room temperature.

Nutrition information per serving: 370 calories; 230 calories from fat (62 percent of total calories); 26 g fat (14 g saturated; 0.5 g trans fats); 60 mg cholesterol; 570 mg sodium; 24 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 9 g protein.

PIE DOUGH

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (15 minutes active)

Make 1 batch pie dough

1 1/2 cups (6.4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon table salt

10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and the salt. Add the butter and, working quickly, use your fingertips or a pastry blender to mix the dough until most of mixture resembles coarse meal, with the rest in small (roughly pea-size) lumps. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of ice water evenly over the mixture and use a fork to gently stir until incorporated.

Gently squeeze a small handful of the dough. It should hold together without crumbling apart. If it doesn’t, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring 2 or 3 times after each addition until it comes together. Be careful: If you overwork the mixture or add too much water the pastry will be tough.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface. With the heel of your hand, smear in a forward motion on the work surface to help distribute the fat. Gather the smeared dough together and form it, rotating it on the work surface, into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic, then chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

FDA tells food makers to phase out trans fat

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that artificial trans fat is no longer generally recognized as safe for use in food.

Healthy food advocates hailed the decision, which could result in a decreased incidence of heart disease.

However, the agency gave food processors three years to transition to other ingredients and the rule appears to retain a loophole that allows food processors not to disclose trans fat content of less than half a gram per serving. This means the label of an item containing .49 grams of trans fat can falsely say “zero” trans fat or “trans fat free.”  People who eat a package containing several servings can unknowingly consume several grams of the substance.

Renee Sharp, director of research for the Environmental Working Group, said, “We applaud the FDA for taking an important step that would eventually eliminate partially hydrogenated oils – the primary source of trans fats in Americans’ diets – in our food. But we’re disappointed that the FDA did not set a speedy deadline. What’s worse, the FDA has failed to close the labeling loophole that allows processed food manufacturers to avoid full disclosure.”

A lot of artificial trans fat has been eliminated in food because of pressure from consumers and consumer advocates, litigation, nutritional labeling and city, county and state bans on the use of partially hydrogenated oil in restaurants.

“The eventual elimination of artificial trans fat from the food supply will mean a healthier food supply, fewer heart attacks and heart disease deaths, and a major victory for public health,” said Center for Science in the Public Interest executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “The final determination made today by the Food and Drug Administration gives companies more than enough time to eliminate the last of the partially hydrogenated oil that is still used in foods like microwave popcorn, biscuits, baked goods, frostings and margarines.”

Artificial trans fat promotes heart disease by raising LDL, or bad cholesterol, and lowering HDL, or good cholesterol, and perhaps in other ways, according to CSPI.

“Like most public health measures, at first the phasing out of artificial trans fats was controversial,” said former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has been at the forefront of the public health campaign. “But as soon as New Yorkers understood that taking trans fats out of a dish didn’t impact the way their favorite foods tasted, and restaurant owners understood that the ban didn’t hurt business, the measure was widely accepted.

“In fact, the trans fat ban became a point of pride for many restaurants. When the FDA finishes the work that we started in New York City, tens of thousands of lives will be saved each year by this sensible public health measure.”

The packaged food industry has signaled that it will file a food additive petition asking the FDA to preserve its ability to use small amounts of artificial trans fat for certain uses. The food additive petition process would require the industry to demonstrate that the uses would be safe at the levels intended.

Erik Olson, director of the Health and Environment Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “We applaud FDA’s decision restricting unhealthy trans fats — it is the right one to protect public health and is long overdue. But just like trans fats, manufacturers have self-certified over 1,000 other chemicals as safe that may be in our food — without FDA review or approval. That puts public health at risk. FDA should do its own safety reviews of these chemicals and provide more transparency so the public can learn whether we are eating potentially harmful chemicals, and what actions the agency is taking to make sure that our food is safe.”

In 2014, the NRDC issued a report, “Generally Recognized as Secret,” showing that manufacturers have overused an exemption in a 1958 law for common ingredients “generally recognized as safe” or “GRAS” to self-certify more than 1,000 chemicals as safe for use in food.

On the Web …

“Generally Recognized as Secret” report,  http://www.nrdc.org/food/safety-loophole-for-chemicals-in-food.asp

FACETIME: Filler turns back the clock on your face by replacing volume lost from aging

In their never-ending quest to maintain a youthful appearance, Americans of a certain age and mindset are increasingly choosing dermal fillers over surgery to smooth the cracks and crevices of time. Together with Botox, fillers can erase a decade or more of age’s cruelties in a relatively inexpensive and painless hour. Unlike cosmetic surgery, which carries the danger of branding you with that alien or “wind-tunnel” look, fillers are subtle and non-invasive. 

Those on the fence should know that fillers come with a double-edged benefit. If you don’t like the results, you can just wait: They generally dissipate after eight months. But if you do like the results, that temporary nature is a liability. As one of the latter, I was excited to learn about ArteFill, a dermal filler that, in the hands of a skilled practitioner, cannot only pave over the potholes of time but also resculpt the youthful contours of your face.

Best of all, the effects can last for seven years — or longer. 

Comfort level

When Dr. Stacy Kaiser, who owns A Younger You Medical Spa in Brookfield, offered me the opportunity to try out ArteFill, I instantly agreed. Kaiser is a Picasso with a syringe, as she’s proven several times in the course of applying various injectable products to my face. Because I have very thin skin (literally, not metaphorically), such procedures usually leave me with a few bruises. But Kaiser, who began her medical career as an ER doc, has given me dozens of injections without even breaking a capillary. She says that’s a matter of luck, but after 15 years of undergoing such procedures, I’m convinced that it’s skill.

A Younger You operates three small offices, in Burlington, Lake Geneva and Brookfield. The Brookfield office is a small, homey suite, a welcome contrast to the faux McMansions and strip mall castles where I’ve generally had such work done.

Feeling at ease is an essential ingredient in achieving success with cosmetic fillers. You have to be comfortable enough with the doctor or practitioner to share insecurities about your most defining physical characteristic — your face. The practitioner must have not only technical skills and product knowledge, but also the ability to manage your expectations, and to read and maintain your level of comfort during the procedure. The best practitioners engage you in the process, soliciting your input and approval.

Dermal fillers correct changes in the face that accompany aging, particularly the loss of subcutaneous fat and protein-like substances. Those losses create the sunken cheeks, hollow eyes, creases and wrinkles that are inevitable markers of our golden years. 

Beginning around age 25, the body stops producing collagen and elastin, which are in the deepest layer of the skin. As a result, your skin becomes gradually thinner and looser. It’s not gravity that makes your face look like it’s fleeing to Mexico as you get older, it’s the loss of elastin, the substance that holds your skin in place.

Fill ’er up

The dermal fillers Restylane, Juvederm and Radiesse (I’ve tried them all) are effective at correcting the loss of volume in the face. They’re used most commonly to plump up cheeks and fill crevices in the nasolabial fold, the area of the face between the nose and mouth. Fillers also add volume to the lips, replace fat loss under the eyes and erase “puppet lines” — those pesky creases that form at the corners of the mouth.

I’ve used dermal fillers for more than a decade and, in most cases, I’ve been highly satisfied. They create subtle improvements that make my face appear healthier and refreshed but not artificial. The only times I’ve been disappointed were when I failed to heed the doctor’s advice and insisted on overdoing it.

Making collagen

There are several important differences between ArteFill and other fillers. It’s injected with a blunt-tipped cannula tube rather than a syringe, which I found more comfortable. ArteFill is also more flexible, and can be used in more areas of the face and for more purposes.

Most importantly, the technology behind ArteFill, the longest studied of all dermal fillers, provides twofold benefits.

One ingredient in ArteFill is bovine collagen, which instantly plumps up the skin as it is applied, just as other fillers do. But contained within ArteFill’s collagen are beads of polymethylmethacrylate (PMA), a compound used for years as a surgical glue and a permanent filler for soft-tissue augmentation.

After the collagen in ArteFill breaks down and is absorbed by the body, the tiny round particles of PMA remain behind. “They’re too big to eliminate and they’re inert,” Kaiser says. “The body can’t dispose of them or degrade them, so they just remain there.”

You want that because PMA stimulates collagen production. Kaiser says the PMA works like scaffolding, on which the body goes to work building new matrices of collagen. It’s truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Before my procedure, Kaiser scrutinized my face to identify areas of fat loss and asymmetry. Research has shown that people rate symmetrical faces as more attractive than asymmetrical ones, so Artefill can improve on what you had before aging began.

From lax to firm

I quickly discovered ArteFill could help out cosmetically in ways that I’d never imagined. When I complained about some droopiness over my right eye, Kaiser simply inserted a dollop of filler over my brow. The filler slightly pulled up the skin above my eye and voila — the droopiness was gone.

Kaiser also used ArteFill above my cheeks and forehead to balance out the volume added to the lower part of my face, where I had ArteFill placed in my jawline. The filler also made the sides of my face more symmetrical.

As Kaiser predicted, the initial volume slowly dissipated over the course of several weeks. But after two months, the collagen-making process began to show dramatically in many ways.

After three months, my skin is appreciably smoother and healthier looking. The volume lost after the initial collagen injection was absorbed, but now collagen has returned in force, supplied by own body. The skin on my jawline is dramatically firmer, an effect that I hadn’t thought was possible. 

All told, Kaiser used five syringes of ArteFill on my mug, which carries a total price tag of $2,750. That represents far less than I would have spent on my annual doses of fillers, which are now unnecessary. In fact, the treatment accomplished many of the goals of a facelift, which costs upwards of $12,000.

And the process might not be over yet. With my body now in collagen-churning mode, I will likely continue to see improvements, Kaiser said.

Because of the body’s delayed response to the treatment, she requires patients to wait three months after their initial application of ArteFill before receiving more. But I think she got it just right for me the first time. My face is good to go.

Tomayto, tomahto: Either way it’s a nutritious summer treat

Let’s make one thing clear. A tomato, despite its uses, is botanically a fruit — specifically an ovary, together with its seeds, of a flowering plant.

However, a tomato has far less sugar than any other fruit, making it less suitable for all those tasty usages to which fruit is put. Yes, there are green tomato pies, but would you ever dollop chopped tomato over vanilla ice cream? 

Still, tomato — or “tomahto,” if you prefer the British pronunciation — is one of the botanical and culinary joys of late summer. Our garden is ready to burst with this year’s heirloom varieties, and we can’t wait to get them on our plates.

We’re waiting patiently for our Big Rainbow heirloom beefsteak variety, its yellow flesh mottled with red, to be sliced and served drizzled with olive oil and fresh basil as a succulent appetizer. Our Lemon Boys will be quartered and chunked into salads, adding their delightful flavor and colorful contrast to succulent Bibb lettuce and peppery arugula.

As to the remaining heirloom cultivars — Chocolate Cherry, Cherokee Purple and Black Krim — their colors and flavor variations will also delight us. Our garden also is home to cantaloupe, cucumber, eggplant, and both black and pimento peppers; but it’s clear that our rubyfruit jungle of tomato varieties will always be the anchor tenant.

Tomatoes, like potatoes, originated in South America’s Andes Mountains. The plant takes its name from the Nahuatl word tomatotl, and records show that by 500 B.C. tomatoes were being cultivated in Mexico. 

Although European colonists first thought tomatoes, a member of the deadly nightshade family, to be poisonous, conquistador Hernán Cortés was recorded to have taken some small yellow tomatoes to Europe in 1521. There is also evidence that Christopher Columbus may have introduced tomatoes to Spain as early as 1499.

Tomatoes are considered among the world’s healthiest foods. They’re an excellent source of the antioxidant lycopene, vitamins C and K, and a host of minerals and other nutrients. 

Our dish of sliced Big Rainbow tomatoes is, in fact, one of the healthier serving options, because olive oil helps increase the body’s absorbance of lycopene, a naturally occurring compound that has been linked to a reduced risk for cancer, heart disease and age-related eye disorders. Add a little oregano, some buffalo mozzarella cheese and dashes of pepper and sea salt and you have an insalata Caprese, one of the most popular summer salads.

Tomatoes offer nutrition and flavor without a lot of calories: A cup of chopped raw tomatoes contains only 32.

Tomatoes are delightful both raw and cooked. Here are several tasty ways to use your summer harvest.

For more tomato recipes, visit
www.wisconsingazette.com

Watermelon-peach salsa and tomatoes

If you like your summer dishes sweet and hot and your tomatoes raw, this salsa may be just the thing to get your taste buds tingling. You’ll need:

Ingredients

½ cup hot pepper jelly

1 tbsp. lime zest

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 cups seeded and diced fresh watermelon 

1 cup peeled and diced fresh peaches 

1 cup chopped fresh basil

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

3 cups baby heirloom tomatoes, halved

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnish: fresh basil sprigs

Directions

Whisk together pepper jelly, lime zest and lime juice in a bowl, then stir in watermelon, peaches, basil and chives. Season halved baby tomatoes with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and spoon into cocktail glasses. Top with salsa and garnish with basil sprigs.

Grilled tomatoes with basil vinaigrette

Many foods are grillable, but few fare as well as tomatoes. Here’s how to make the most of those lovely little orbs over red-hot coals. You’ll need:

Ingredients

3 yellow tomatoes

3 red tomatoes 

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

2 tsps. white balsamic vinegar

2 tbsps. chopped fresh basil

Garnish: fresh basil sprigs

Directions

Cut tomatoes in half and thread onto skewers, alternating colors. Brush with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over medium heat (300 degrees to 350 degrees) for 10 minutes, turning skewers often. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, vinegar and basil and drizzle over kabobs. Garnish, if desired.

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Outpost opens its first ‘green’ certified market in Mequon

Although its grand opening was less than a month ago, Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative in Mequon — the cooperative’s fourth store in the greater Milwaukee area — is already getting a lot of attention.

“The response has been overwhelming (and) we are delighted,” said one of the store’s 80 new employees.

Located at 7590 Mequon Road, the juncture of Mequon and Wauwatosa roads, the stunning, 16,700-square-foot building is comparable in size to Outpost’s stores on Capitol Drive in Glendale, Kinnickinic Avenue in Bay View and State Street in Wauwatosa.

Even from a distance, the Mequon store’s design savvy is apparent. The building’s multi-textured exterior is constructed of several natural materials — it’s a harmonious blend of wood, metal, lannon stone, brick and glass. Large windows cover a significant portion of the building, and skylights provide additional natural light. Outpost used repurposed materials wherever possible. Some of the wood rafters inside the building, as well as part of the lannon stone exterior, were salvaged from a building that had stood at the site for many years. 

The Mequon store is Outpost’s first LEED-certified building, which means it’s about as “green” as possible. The building has rain gardens to catch run-off, energy-efficient lighting and an herb garden that eventually will yield herbs for the deli department’s salads.  

The pavement in the parking lot is permeable, allowing water to seep into the rain gardens instead of running off onto Mequon Road. Rainwater from the roof goes into underground cisterns and is used for plants on the grounds.

Countertops are made out of paper, and the flooring consists of recycled rubber. There’s even a charging station for electric cars.

Besides making the design as green as possible, Outposts’ directors wanted to create a “warm, inviting environment that has a ‘personal’ feel to it,” said Lisa Malmarowski, the store’s brand and store development manager.  “We wanted the building to reflect a more ‘human-scale’ experience.”

‘I can trust it’

“Hundreds of Outpost’s owners are from the Mequon area,” Malmarowski said, which makes it an ideal place to locate a store. Its members, who number about 19,000, collectively own Outpost. 

It also doesn’t hurt that Mequon is one of the state’s most affluent communities. Outpost offers top-quality products that contain no GMOs and are largely organic. Well-heeled shoppers tend to be more aware of the perks that come with healthier eating, and they’re better able to pay for them.

The new location also gives neighboring communities, such as Cedarburg, Germantown, Menomonee Falls and Brown Deer, accessibility to Outpost. 

Outpost member Lyn Falk, who lives in Thiensville, said she is “so happy to have an Outpost store practically in my back yard.” She admits to shopping at the store daily during its first week of operation. Falk owns her own design business, and she shops for herself and her fiancé. One of the best things about Outpost stores, she said, is that she can “stop reading labels. I don’t have to worry about the ingredients I’m eating,” she said. “If it’s sold at Outpost, I can trust it.” 

Like most Outpost shoppers, Falk said that taking care of her body is a priority in her life. For that reason, she appreciates the store’s commitment to quality food — and also local growers, she said.

And Falk admits to being an adventurous gourmet who enjoys “eating out of the mainstream.” Outpost helps her learn about new foods and methods of preparation, she said. “When I try some of the samples offered at the store,” she said, “I always learn something new.”

Outpost member Mark McCormick lives in Bayside, about half way between the Capitol Drive and Mequon locations. “On days when I’m doing business on the north side of town, I’ll probably drive to the Mequon location and pick up my lunch,” he figures. 

Like Falk, McCormick visited the Mequon Outpost during its first days of operation. Stepping inside was a déjà vu experience, he said.

“The stores are laid out basically the same, so you know exactly where to find what you are looking for,” he explained. 

Bur McCormick said he likes the new store’s “feeling of openness,” which makes shopping “a more relaxing experience.” 

The Mequon Outpost is also different because it’s the first to have a stone-hearth pizza oven and a bar that offers local beer, kombucha and sodas on tap.  (Kombucha is an effervescent drink made from fermented tea.) It’s also the first to have an outdoor, sheltered dining pavilion. 

The store also offers indoor dining at a café, a bar and a community room. The latter can be reserved for meetings, and Outpost staffers are happy to supply the food.  

WHERE TO GO: The Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative in Mequon is located at 7590 Mequon Road. The store is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information about the store and the cooperative, go to www.outpost.coop

New year, big tests for Affordable Care Act

The new year brings the big test of President Barack Obama’s beleaguered health care law: Will it work?

The heart of the law springs to life on Jan. 1, after nearly four years of political turmoil and three months of enrollment chaos. Patients will begin showing up at hospitals and pharmacies with insurance coverage bought through the nation’s new health care marketplaces.

The course of 2014 will show whether Obama can get affordable care to millions of people in need, without doing intolerable damage to the 85 percent of U.S. residents who already were insured.

Lots of Americans are nervous.

Will their new coverage be accepted? It’s a concern because insurers have reported problems with the customer information they’ve gotten from the government, including missing data and duplication.

How many more people will see old individual plans that they liked canceled? Will a flood of newly insured patients cause doctor shortages? Will businesses respond to the law by ditching their group plans or pushing more health costs onto workers?

About three-fourths of people who face changes to their job-based or other private coverage in 2014 blame the health law, a recent AP-GfK poll found. Yet the trend of employers trimming costly health benefits predates the law now widely known – by critics and advocates – as Obamacare.

Many people should benefit immensely.

People previously locked out of individual insurance by high prices or pre-existing health problems can get coverage to stave off the threat of medical bankruptcy. More low-income workers will come under Medicaid, in states that agreed to expand the safety-net program. Middle-class families without workplace coverage can get tax subsidies to help pay for their insurance. How much patients like the new plans, and whether they can afford the co-pays and deductibles, will become clear as they start visiting doctors.

The new year also launches the most contentious aspect of the law: the mandate that nearly everyone in the U.S. have health coverage, or pay a fine.

All this will unfold during the super-heated politics leading to November’s midterm elections.

Republicans and Democrats will jostle all year to influence the public’s assessment of changes to American health care not matched since Medicare and Medicaid were launched nearly a half-century ago.

Some dates – and moving parts – to watch in 2014:

JAN. 1

Coverage begins. Many low-income Americans who didn’t qualify for Medicaid in the past can use it now. People who signed up for private insurance in a state or federal marketplace by Dec. 24 (or later in some states) and have paid their first premium are now covered, too.

Coverage begins for workers at companies that have signed up for new small business plans through the marketplaces, also called health care exchanges.

Coverage lapses for people whose existing plans were canceled, if they haven’t signed up for a replacement or received an extension. At least 4.7 million people got cancellation notices, despite Obama’s promise that Americans with insurance they like could keep their old plans. Obama recently gave insurance companies the option of extending old plans for existing customers for a year, but only where state insurance commissioners give their OK.

The clock starts on the “individual mandate.” Nearly all U.S. citizens and legal residents are required to have “minimum essential coverage” for most of 2014, or pay a penalty. Most people already are insured through their jobs, Medicare, Medicaid, or military coverage and so don’t need to do anything.

Insurance companies are no longer allowed to turn away people in poor health or kick customers out of plans when they get sick.

Women and people with pre-existing conditions pay the same rates as healthy men in the new plans. The law also limits how much more insurers can charge older people.

New insurance plans can’t put an annual dollar limit on care, or require individuals to pay more than $6,350 in out-of-pocket costs per year.

JAN. 10

Payment due. In most cases, marketplace customers who signed up by Dec. 24 have until now to pay the first month’s premium and get coverage for their January medical bills. Major national insurers agreed to accept payments 10 days into the month because of technical troubles plaguing online enrollment at HealthCare.gov. But buyers should check early with their insurance companies – some may not honor the grace period. A few states running their own marketplaces are granting even more time. Those who miss their deadline can get coverage starting Feb. 1.

JAN. 31

A temporary program for people denied coverage because of poor health ends. Tens of thousands of Americans with serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer were in the special program and needed new coverage for 2014. The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, originally set to expire Dec. 31, was extended one month to help sick people whose enrollment was stymied by HealthCare.gov computer crashes.

Some people could lose coverage for a prescription they’ve been taking. The Obama administration urged insurers to temporarily let customers keep filling prescriptions covered by a previous plan, but not their new one, through January.

LATE MARCH

The patched-up health care website will face a major test if too many people rush to sign up in the final days of open enrollment. Watch for a possible return of rampant crashes and error messages.

On the other hand, low enrollment signals another danger. The law’s design relies on younger, healthier enrollees to offset the cost of older and sicker consumers. If the numbers stay low, it’s likely that enrollees will be disproportionately people with more expensive medical needs, putting a financial strain on insurers. The White House set a goal of 7 million sign-ups for private coverage. More than 1 million had enrolled by Dec. 20, Obama said.

MARCH 31

Last chance for open enrollment through the federal marketplace or 14 states running their own exchanges. Late March enrollees will be covered beginning May 1. (It’s possible the administration could decide to extend open enrollment, if major website problems resurface and interfere with sign-ups.)

This is the deadline for most people to get coverage to avoid a fine. The Obama administration says, however, that those whose existing health insurance was canceled because of the Affordable Care Act will be exempt from the penalty. People who lose coverage during the year can go without for three months before facing a penalty.

The enrollment deadline doesn’t apply to people signing up for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, based on income. People can apply for those programs at any time and coverage begins at once.

The March 31 deadline also won’t stop those who need to sign up later in 2014 because of a “qualifying life event.” The events include things like getting married, having a baby, or leaving a job that provided insurance. Qualifying events trigger a special enrollment period lasting 60 days.

APRIL 15

No worries yet. Those who go without insurance won’t owe penalties until federal taxes are due in 2015 for the previous year’s income. Tax returns filed in 2015 will include health insurance information; insurers will send notices to confirm that taxpayers were covered in 2014. People who bought plans in the marketplaces and received either too little or too much in premium subsidies during the year also will square things with the IRS in April 2015.

NOV. 4

The midterm elections will be yet another referendum on the health care law passed in March 2010 with no Republican support. Obama will still be in the midst of his final term, however. So even if Republicans emerge with control of both chambers of Congress, they will still face two more years with Obama in the White House to veto attempts to undermine his signature law.

NOV. 15

Open enrollment for 2015 begins. Americans can sign up for insurance or switch to a different plan. And they’ll see what rate increases are in store for the coming year.

DEC. 31

The extension ends today for people who were able to keep their old individual plans for an extra year, even though the coverage wasn’t up to the law’s minimum standards.

COMING IN 2015

JAN. 1

Large employers – those with more than 50 employees – that don’t offer health plans face a possible tax penalty. The penalties are designed to discourage businesses from dropping their existing health plans, although some have already begun to do so.

JAN. 15

Open enrollment for 2015 ends.

APRIL 15

Penalties for individuals who weren’t insured in 2014 kick in. The penalty is $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is higher. It goes up in later years. The IRS can deduct the penalty from a taxpayer’s refund.

COMING IN 2018

So-called “Cadillac health plans” offered by some employers come under a new tax. It hits plans that spend more than $10,200 per worker or $27,500 for a family. Most job-based coverage isn’t that generous, but corporate executives get such plans, and so do some workers in jobs with strong union contracts. Some companies will pass the tax on to workers and others may trim employee benefits to avoid it.