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La Sur Consommation

Thank you, Hayfa, for sending this truly horrifying video about our food, and where it comes from . . .


La surconsommation from Lasurconsommation on Vimeo.

February 14, 2013 Posted by | Diet / Weight Loss, Financial Issues, Food, Interconnected | , , , | Leave a comment

Smell More, Eat Less

This is another great find from Bottom Line Secrets; we often read things from them that haven’t yet hit the headlines or the TV news:

You probably associate delicious food aromas with wanting to eat more of whatever you’re smelling, whether it’s the scent of fresh-baked cookies or bacon sizzling in the skillet.

But a new study suggests that powerful food smells actually may help you eat less… and lose weight in the process.

René de Wijk, PhD, is a Dutch sensory scientist who studies how people react to the look, feel, taste and smell of food.

He wanted to explore whether the smell of food influences how big a bite we take, because previous studies have shown that when we take smaller bites, we feel full on fewer calories than when we take bigger bites.

Dr. de Wijk hooked 10 volunteers to machines that pumped a custard dessert directly into their mouths. (I know—I wish that I could have participated in this study, too.)

At the same time, the subjects were randomly exposed to either a slightly detectable aroma of natural cream…or a moderately detectable aroma of natural cream…or no aroma at all. During the experiment, the participants could press a button whenever they wanted to stop the flow of custard, which determined their “bite” size. The key result? People pressed the button more quickly—in essence, took smaller bites—when the aroma was stronger.

What surprised Dr. de Wijk was the fact that it didn’t take an overly strong scent to influence his subjects’ bite size. “Even the relatively weak aroma was associated with a smaller bite size. Most of the subjects were not even aware that an aroma had been presented—the decision to take a smaller bite was largely subconscious,” he said.

Dr. de Wijk theorized why the smell may have worked. “A cream aroma is associated with calories, and we regulate calories via bite size,” he said. Or, it could also be that we have an innate tendency to try to moderate intense sensations of any kind, so we take smaller bites as a protective measure. (Dr. de Wijk’s work has also shown that we take smaller bites from highly textured foods.)

“I would think that any foods that have intense flavors—and therefore intense scents—would result in smaller bite size and, therefore, you’d need less food to feel full,” he told me. So creamy aromas aren’t the only ones that might help you eat less. For example, aromas that are strongly spicy, meaty, buttery, fishy, vinegary, lemony, garlicky or oniony—anything other than bland—might also do the trick. And whatever the aroma, eating your food warm or hot might help you eat less than eating it cold, since warmth brings out aromas more strongly. Heat up those leftovers!

Source: René A. de Wijk, PhD, senior sensory scientist in the department of food and biobased research at Wageningen University and Research Centre, The Netherlands, and lead author of a study published in Flavour.

September 30, 2012 Posted by | Diet / Weight Loss, Experiment, Food | Leave a comment

McGuire’s For Lunch

“I just have a yen for a steak,” I said to AdventureMan, and since it is my turn to choose, he grins and says “I could use a steak, too.” We don’t even feel guilty. The last steak we had was New Year’s Day this year, also at McGruires. Two steaks a year, not so bad.

It’s a gloomy day, and we are hoping it’s not so crowded we have to wait. We are seated immediately, but upon looking around, AdventureMan said “Does anyone in here know that the economy is suffering? Do they know we are in a downturn?”

McGuires is PACKED. It’s not just old retired folk and tourists, either, it’s young Pensacola families and their children, generations meeting up for a Saturday lunch. The bar is packed, the tables are full throughout and as we leave, there is a line waiting.

The steaks – we like the Molly filet – were fabulous. Erin A, our excellent waitress, warned us that some people find the pepper coating too peppery, and we assured her we like a pepper coating to be very peppery; when our steaks came, they were VERY peppery, and we were very happy. They also had fresh asparagus, perfectly cooked, still just a little crisp. We were really bad, we also had the bleu cheese dressing on our salads. It was a wonderful meal, altogether, and Erin A was attentive without being intrusive. Erin kept our glasses full, swept used dishes away as soon as they were finished, and kept her eye on our table in case we had any needs. Her service added to our enjoyment of the meal. Isn’t that the best?

There are other steak houses in town, where you can get a steak almost as good for a lot less. You can’t beat McGuires for the overall experience, though, and when you only have steak every few months, why not have the best?

We also love it that our out-of-town guests LOVE McGuires, for the overall experience as well as for the food. Live entertainment at night, lots of old Irish ballads. 🙂

As we left, we had to run between the raindrops to get to our car. Big heavy voluminous clouds over Pensacola, and a daily humidity factor of around 100%.

July 28, 2012 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Diet / Weight Loss, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Food, Health Issues, Restaurant, Weather | Leave a comment

Good For You! Nuts!

From today’s Bottom Line Daily Health News:

If you’ve relegated nuts to the “occasional snack” category, it’s time to get more creative. Substitute nuts for some or all of the meat in a stir-fry entrée… sprinkle sliced or chopped nuts over vegetables, rice, soup or cereal… add ground nuts to a smoothie or yogurt… dress salads with nut oils… spread nut butter on celery sticks or apple slices. Why am I pushing nuts? Because from all corners of the nutrition world, I am hearing from wellness professionals who are amazed by nuts’ health benefits. Recent research shows that eating a moderate amount of nuts on a regular basis may help…

Control weight. According to Richard D. Mattes, PhD, MPH, RD, a professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University who has done extensive research on the topic, nut consumption increases your resting energy expenditure, which means that you burn more calories just sitting still than you otherwise would. Also, about 5% to 15% of the calories in nuts are excreted without being absorbed. And nuts’ unique combination of protein, fiber, fatty acids and other characteristics quells hunger quickly and for prolonged periods.

Prevent heart disease. Most of the fats in nuts are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids that help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides… increase HDL (good) cholesterol… and prevent abnormal heart rhythms. Nuts also contain vitamin E, which inhibits arterial plaque buildup… and L-arginine, an amino acid that makes arteries more flexible and less vulnerable to clots.

Fight inflammation. The soluble fiber in nuts appears to increase production of the anti-inflammatory protein interleukin-4. Antioxidant vitamin E also eases inflammation.
Reduce diabetes risk. A Harvard study found that women who ate five or more ounces of nuts weekly were almost 30% less likely to get type 2 diabetes than women who rarely or never ate nuts. Also: Spanish researchers found that nuts were even more effective than olive oil in combating metabolic syndrome, a condition that puts you at risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Combat cancer. Some nuts (including Brazil nuts and walnuts) are high in selenium, a mineral associated with a decreased risk for colorectal, skin and lung cancers. In animal studies, walnuts appeared to inhibit breast tumors — perhaps due to their disease-fighting omega-3s and antioxidants.

Support brain function. Evidence suggests that nuts’ omega-3s may ease depression and boost thinking and memory by improving neurotransmitter function. Nuts also provide folate — and low levels of this B-vitamin are linked to depression and poor cognition.

Per ounce, nuts typically have 160 to 200 calories and 13 to 22 grams of fat. Eating 1.5 ounces of nuts per day (a small handful) is enough to provide health-promoting benefits. Nuts naturally contain only a trace of sodium, so they won’t wreak havoc with blood pressure, especially if you choose brands with no added salt.

“All types of nuts are good for you, so there’s no such thing as a ’best’ type of nut,” Dr. Mattes emphasized. Still, each type does contain a different mix of nutrients — so for the widest range of benefits, eat a variety. Below are some excellent options and the nutrients that each is especially rich in. Consider…

Almonds for bone-building calcium… and inflammation-fighting vitamin E.

Brazil nuts for cancer-fighting selenium.

Cashews for magnesium, which is linked to prevention of heart attacks and hypertension.

Hazelnuts for potassium, which helps normalize blood pressure.

Peanuts for folate, which lowers levels of the artery-damaging amino acid homocysteine.

Pecans for beta-sitosterol, a plant compound that combats cholesterol.

Pistachios for gamma-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E that may reduce lung cancer risk.

Walnuts for the heart- and brain-enhancing omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid.


Richard D. Mattes, PhD, MPH, RD, professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He has published numerous studies on nuts and appetite.

December 29, 2011 Posted by | Diet / Weight Loss, Education, Food, Health Issues | 4 Comments

. . . Hurray for the Pumpkin Pie . . .

“You’ve worked HARD!” our water aerobics instructor told us. “You get a free pass tomorrow; you can eat anything!”

I wish she hadn’t said that. We did work hard, but it wasn’t just one day of feasting, it was pretty much four days, and we enjoyed ourselves too much. No matter how hard we had worked Wednesday morning, it wasn’t enough to cover four days.

Arriving at Papa’s and Grammy’s we were welcomed with a bubbling gumbo, a combined effort of Papa and Grammy; Grammy did all the shopping and chopping, and PaPa worked the roux, which is the butter and flour combination that makes that smoky flavored base for the gumbo. They had just finished cleaning and deveining about 40 pounds of shrimp for Thanksgiving, and threw a few in the gumbo. Oh YUM. The next morning was full of preparations, and then, mid-morning, the feasting began, with all the guys shucking oysters and eating boiled shrimp. As you drive up, you can smell smoke from an outdoor fire, and chairs and tables are out everywhere, but the shucking goes on down near the creek:

The house is beautiful, spacious and welcoming for so many people. The happy baby, who is now a happy toddler, was in heaven – he was surrounded by boy toys – tractors and golf carts and a Model A and all sorts of age appropriate toys, as well as cousins, aunts, uncles and a lot of hilarious rough housing. Why is it kids just love the terror of being turned upside-down?

For me, this was the best Thanksgiving with the family; finally I am beginning to figure out who is who from year to year. I still have to ask questions, but they seem more comfortable with me, and I had some really good conversations, sort of beyond the polite-passing-the-time conversations. I’m not that great in big crowds, but now I am beginning to have some good one-on-ones, and for me, that’s a great Thanksgiving.

And on, man, the food. Tables and tables of food. I don’t know how they do it, but I saw the list of cakes, and there must have been twenty cakes on THE LIST. They each have responsibilities, and somehow, it all works.

Three turkeys, all carved, and so much dressing (which I grew up calling stuffing, it all depends on where you grew up):

That green container is AdventureMan’s first foray into cranberry chutney. This one was a little tart, but tasty. As are darling daughter in law so diplomatically put it, “I would probably like it more if my taste buds were accustomed to having cranberries without sugar.”

About half of the sides were sweet potato casseroles; you can’t believe how good these are. This year this front dish was one of the favorites, squash cassarole:

This photo doesn’t begin to do justice to the desserts – holy smokes:

So the biggest brother blessed the food and we ate around one, then we visited for a few hours, people going back and grazing a little. Then the next generation cleaned everything up and got all the food packaged up and put away. About an hour later, that broccoli salad started calling me, and I went out to try a little more and discovered it was all put away, but a partner in crime knew where it was, and we pulled it out and had some, which started a whole landslide of second-platers, just when everything had been all put away, LLOOLLL!

It was a great day, a day full of thanks for all the things in life that really matter.

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Circle of Life and Death, Community, Cooking, Cultural, Diet / Weight Loss, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Food, Friends & Friendship, Thanksgiving | 5 Comments

Hilarious French Video / Ad

Thank you, Hayfa!

October 14, 2011 Posted by | Beauty, Cultural, Diet / Weight Loss, Exercise, Health Issues, Marketing | Leave a comment

Glycemic Index

On the way to my follow up visit with my doctor, I figured it all out. Diets are hooey. I don’t really need to loose weight; I am happy the way I am. Actually, I am losing weight, but I am so contrary that as soon as I really try, I sabotage myself. Or worse, I lose a lot of weight, and then I put it back on, which is worse. So – no diets for me.

He has the results of all my blood work, and before I can go into my speech, he starts talking about how my trigliceride ratio is all wrong, and that my blood sugar readings would have been OK ten years ago, but now the scale has changed, and although I am a smart woman, my brain is spinning and I never get a chance to give my ‘I am not going on a diet speech’ because he is talking about the GLYCEMIC INDEX and how if we can reverse this all and I will never have to go on medication.

I register that part. I never want to have to go on any medication I have to take every day. That’s for OLD people, not me. Not me!

Diabetes is scary to me. I had a diabetic cat. We did everything, tried all different kinds of insulin, we never did get her blood sugar under control until we put her on special food, when it evened out. Then we moved to Doha, where the vet said he had never seen a diabetic cat before, and where the pharmacies promised me it was the ‘right’ insulin and it wasn’t . . . I really, really do not want to be diabetic.

So I started reading about the glycemic index, and glycemic diets, and oh, my head is spinning, none of the resources agree with one another about what is desirable and what is not! In one place, they will say you can eat pasta, and in another place, they will indicate that you can only eat whole grain pasta, and in one place peanut butter is good, and in another, it is like the worst.

They all agree that you need to be eating mostly fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but watermelon is forbidden, and candy has a lower glycemic number than a baguette. I am SO confused.

Wikipedia says The glycemic index, glycaemic index, or GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates that break down quickly during digestion and release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream have a high GI; carbohydrates that break down more slowly, releasing glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI.

I totally get that. It’s the specifics I have problems with, as well as wondering if it works the same for each person (I imagine metabolism gets involved here, and exercise) and there is a part of me that wants to be like an ostrich and bury my head in the sand. It’s all overwhelming.

I slept well last night, but was wide awake at five, worrying about my glycemic index. I decided it might be a good time to walk; we are having really warm weather, so warm the windows are all frosted up from the A/C inside and the heat outside. I used to have water aerobics on Wednesday, but now that I am in the Isaiah study, I don’t get there on Wednesdays, and walking early would be a good substitute.

I headed our with my phone, keys and flashlight, all of which can be used as weapons if I feel endangered, but I discover there is a whole neighborhood full of people out there running and walking at that quiet, dark time of the day. As I reached the top of the hill, there is even a stiff breeze, which feels really good in the sticky humidity. If I can make this a habit, maybe the glycemic index will have less significance. I can hope.

October 27, 2010 Posted by | Aging, Diet / Weight Loss, Exercise, ExPat Life, Food, Health Issues, Pensacola, Weather | 4 Comments

New Territory: Pensacola Medicine

It’s payback time. Since AdventureMan and I retired, we have been trying to catch up with all the things we have left undone as we lived overseas. One of those things is catching up on medical work, you know, the preventive stuff.

One of the things I avoided in Qatar and Kuwait were any kind of procedures where something alien entered your body. There are good hospitals, and there are good doctors, but you have to know someone who can recommend them, and they they have to accept you as patients. My strategy was simply to stay well. I had a constant concern, about the cleanliness of the hospitals, about the conscientiousness of the people sterilizing medical equipment, about patient care, about credentials of those putting in IV’s – little things like that.

When I came to Pensacola, LOL, I had the same concerns. We have this illusion that everything is better in the USA, but we are only as good as our rules, and the enforcement of the rules, and when budgets are being cut, code enforcement can suffer. Who is checking on the cleanliness of the facility, etc. can be an issue here, too.

We ran into a couple of breaks. We have friends here, and we also have good advisory people. While our advisory people are not allowed to give specific recommendations, we had a long and lively chat with one and we asked, at the end, “if your Mom or Dad needed a good overall internist, who would you send them to?” and she paused and gave us a name.

The name was also on our short list of doctors we had looked up online. There are all kinds of places that comment on doctors, and this doctor has all A’s.

My visit with the doctor got me started on a lot of other appointments. The first visit, however, had a very funny moment. We were talking, generally, I thought, about weight, and he said “what do you think would be a good weight for you at this age” and I thought and said a number and HE WROTE IT DOWN. “Oh no!” I said. “Are you writing it down?”

“Yes.” he responded. “I agree, I think that is a good goal for you.”

GOAL??? I talk a lot about exercise and trying to lose weight, but now I am expected to meet a goal??? Oh, aaaarrrggghh. Me and my big mouth, why did I pick that number???

My Pensacola medical experience grew this week as I had a dreaded colonoscopy, something older people have to do as part of preventive maintenance. I totally hate colonoscopy preparation, and I also know that the same problems that happen in Qatar and Kuwait can happen here in Pensacola, so I was anxious the day of the procedure.

As I was pushed into the operating room by a young guy, I asked “who are you?” and he said he was the doctor. I interviewed him, asking about his certification, etc. and his record. He could see I was anxious.

Finally, I asked, in desperation, “are you Christian?” and he said “yes,” and then added “Would you like us to pray together before we start?” I was shocked. I paused, trying to deal with this new information – you are allowed to pray in the operating room?

“Yes,” I said, “please.”

They put hands on me and prayed for guidance during the procedure, and safety and a positive outcome. That is the last I remember, I felt so secure, and then I woke up and it was over. The outcome was positive.

There is no such thing as not allowing prayer in the schools or public places. People can pray wherever they want. The only thing forbidden is prayers where everyone is forced to pray together, the same words, words that may not express the same faith. We don’t all share the same beliefs, we don’t all pray in the same vocabularies. But we are free to pray, no one can stop the prayers of the heart.

October 7, 2010 Posted by | Adventure, Diet / Weight Loss, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Florida, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Qatar, Spiritual, Values | 4 Comments

Bacteria Makes Me Fat!

It’s not my fault! Bacteria makes me fat! I am so relieved! (But I am still fat 😦 )

This is an excerpt from Newsweek Magazine, part of a much longer article which you can read for yourself by clicking on the blue type, above.

The grapefruit diet, the Atkins diet, low-fat diets, low-carb diets, the cabbage-soup diet: they and all the other fad diets make the health establishment roll its collective eyes. The only way to lose weight, says every reputable textbook and medical society, is to burn more calories than you consume. And if you are adding pounds, the reason is, pure and simple, that you are consuming more calories than you expend. Weight gain is a straightforward matter of calories in minus calories out, they maintain.

But while the basic math is right, the meaning of “calories in” isn’t what we’ve been taught, according to a growing pile of studies of chubby mice, obese people, svelte mice, and slim people. The calories that matter are not simply the number printed on grocery items, fast-food menus, and those guilt-inducing signs next to Starbucks’ brownies.

The calories that count are those extracted by your digestive enzymes and—as more and more research is showing—the trillions of bacteria in your intestine. People whose gut bacteria are better at digesting fats and carbs than their neighbor’s will absorb all 1,500 calories in a Friendly’s Ultimate Grilled Cheese BurgerMelt, while the neighbor will absorb fewer. So even in people with identical metabolisms, the effects of eating identical foods can be different.

July 8, 2010 Posted by | Diet / Weight Loss, Food, Health Issues | 2 Comments

Victory at the Shrimp Basket

This is a moral victory. AdventureMan and I ate at the Shrimp Basket last week and we DID NOT eat fried food! We tried their non-fried platters, AdventureMan had the grilled fish and shrimp, and I had the blackened fish and shrimps. I took the photo before eating! (another victory, woooo HOOOO!)

Yes, I did dip my shrimp in the melted butter. I could not resist. This is one of the best seafood meals I have had in a long time, it was totally delicious.

On the table was this sign:

The oil has started coming ashore in Louisiana. It is thick and gooey, and it is sticking to the marshlands, clinging to delicate feathers on birds and suffocating wildlife. This is the beginning of a long, long, ugly process of trying to reclaim what nature never intended the oil to touch. It is devastating.

May 23, 2010 Posted by | Diet / Weight Loss, Eating Out, Environment, ExPat Life, Florida, Food, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Political Issues | 4 Comments