Sunday, April 27, 2014

                                              M E N O P A U S E        

The following was submitted by one of our fearless readers.  I'm sure you can sympathize.

(sung to Oh, Christmas Tree) "Oh, Menopause, oh menopause, where for art though, menopause? When you first came, I was so young......But now I'm cranky, and high-strung......Oh Menopause, oh menopause, I'm counting days, until you come."

Thanks, Julie

Thursday, April 17, 2014


I came to the appreciation of avocados late in life.  They were like mangoes - a Southern food that seldom appeared in our Northern states back when I was younger.  Even after we moved to the best place in the world, Florida, the old northern tastes prevailed, but once I was introduced to this wonderful fruit it began a love affair that has lasted to this day.

I love all kinds of avocados; the Haas with their rich, buttery taste and the lower calorie but much larger Florida avocados that require a little boost to kick up their blander taste.  Although far from low-cal, this luscious fruit is chock full of that monosaturated fat that is so good for you.  In a vegan or vegetarian diet, the avocado (also known as alligator pear for obvious reasons) is a sinfully creamy delight.  

Herewith, a few recipes for those of all tastes, purely vegetarian or omnivorous:

                                                             QUICKY GUACAMOLE

One ripe Florida green avocado or 2 ripe Haas avocados
Juice of 1/2 lime
2-3 T. mango salsa (I like the Paul Newman's)
fresh ground black pepper

Mash the avocados and mix with the rest of the ingredients.  Use as a dip or as a sandwich spread instead of mayonnaise (or just to eat with a spoon, it's that good).

                                                          AVOCADO SALAD

One ripe Florida avocado
2 T. fresh lime juice
1 jarred roasted red pepper
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 c. mixed salad greens
1/4 t. dried dill
Toasted walnuts

Slice avocado in half lengthwise and remove pit.  Scoop out flesh, just leaving a thin layer on the rind.  Cut up the flesh into about 1/2" chunks.  Slice the red pepper into strips.  Sprinkle 1 t. of  lime juice over the avocado shells.  Whisk the rest of the lime juice and the olive oil with a  fork and toss with the greens.  add the red pepper, dill and the avocado chunks and toss gently.  Pile into the empty shells and top with the walnuts.

2 Servings.
                                              CHOCOLATE AVOCADO PUDDING

One ripe Florida avocado, peeled, pit removed and cut in chunks
1 t. vanilla
4 T. unsweetened cocoa
4 T. real maple syrup
6 T. almond milk

Pop it all in the blender and blend until smooth.  Refrigerate until cold.  

Top it with a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt sweetened with a little stevia and serve with some fresh raspberries, if desired.

Two servings.

These are just a few ideas.  This versatile fruit can be used for a lot of 
delicious dishes.  Simply adding avocado slices to a sandwich or a
salad can make these ordinary meals really special.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I recently came across this poem that I had read many years ago.  It is so touching and beautiful that I wanted to share it with you.  It was written by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. and was composed in 1941 while he was a pilot in England during World War II.  Soon after writing it, at the age of 19,  he was killed while serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force.


Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on 
laughter-silvered wings:
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the
tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of
Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence;
hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along,
and flung
My eager craft through footless halls
of air.
Up, the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights
with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while the silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face
of God.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Monday, April 14, 2014


That old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" has a ton of truth in it.  Most people fail because they don't keep on trying.  Who knows, the next time might be the one that works, but if you stop you'll never find out.  How about a few examples of folks who never gave up no matter what anyone said?

  • Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was four years old and didn't read until he was seven.  His teacher said he was "mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his foolish dreams."  He was expelled and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.
  • Beethoven handled the violin awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions rather than improving his technique.  His teacher called him hopeless as a composer.
  • Thomas Edison's teachers said he was too stupid to learn anything.
  • Henry Ford went broke five times before he finally succeeded.
  • Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lack of ideas.  He also went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland.
  • Babe Ruth was famous for setting the home run record, but he also holds the record for strikeouts.
  • Grandma Moses didn't begin painting until she was 76 years old and kept painting for the rest of her life.  She died at 101.
  • Winston Churchill failed sixth grade.  He did not become Prime Minister until he was 62, and then only after a lifetime of defeats and setbacks.
  • Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, was told by her family to find work as a servant or seamstress.
  • Stephen Hawkings never let his severe disabilities stop him from using his brilliant mind. 
Celebrate every small success.  Regard a failure as a learning experience and move on.It's never too late to follow a dream.  If you let rejection, despair and mockery influence what you do, you'll lose the chance to see what you could be.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I had just about decided to never watch the news or read a newspaper or touch my computer.  All the news seemed really BAD, and I was frustrated that I couldn't really do anything about it.  I doubted that my measly vote would make a difference, although I sincerely wanted to vote everybody who was in - out

While going through my possible blog posts folder I came across the following,  which was written on the tomb of  an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abbey (1100 A.D.):

"When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world.  As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

"But it, too, seemed immovable.

"As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

"And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize; if I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.

"From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world."

What a concept!  If we all decided - before we were on our deathbeds - to start change within ourselves, what might we accomplish?

Friday, April 11, 2014



     I'm all for science and the many good things it has brought us.   Life-saving drugs and improved surgical techniques have saved many lives.  And the researchers and doctors who once pooh-poohed the idea that what you eat could affect your health are now climbing on board the healthy foods bandwagon.

     That's good science.  Let's talk about Monsanto, et al and good-only-for-the-bottom-line science.  Years ago when the chemical companies were pushing their pesticides and herbicides, they had a real problem.  Unfortunately the products that could kill the bugs and weeds also killed the crops.  What to do? What to do? 

      How about messing around with a little gene splicing so that the seeds were resistant to the poison that killed bugs and weeds?  You could spray Roundup all over the corn, soy, etc. since the crops were Roundup-resistant. Not only could you sell the heck out of Roundup, but now the only seeds the farmers could use were those Roundup resistant ones.  And the best part? These little buggers produced sterile plants, so no problem with saving some of the seeds to sow next year because all they would do is just lay there and rot. The company bean counters were beside themselves with joy.  Self-propagating profit!   But you better not fool with Mother Nature.  Her little bugs and weeds developed a resistance to Roundup so farmers had to use more and more of it. Again a win-win for Monsanto.  

      You will hear that the majority of these frankencrops are not in your supermarket.  They are, instead, used as animal feed.  Of course - just like us - animals are what they eat.  Since the GMO crops are cheaper than the old conventional varieties, they are sold to the food manufacturers to be converted into that super sweetener High Fructose Corn Syrup.  They are also used in most processed foods under a plethora of names that are not only unpronounceable, but give little hint of their origin.

      There are still some corn, soy and other crops that have not been 'improved' by agrichem (my word) companies.  They are clearly marked ORGANIC - NON-GMO.  If you make the decision to do without pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, antibiotics, etc. in your food, it is difficult but not impossible.  The extra that you spend for real food will be much less than what you would spend at the doctor's office attempting to undo the damage done by our food manufacturers.

      If you would like to give real food a fighting chance, you can download a free list of Non-GMO foods to take with you when you shop.  This is by no means a complete list, since it's a category that changes frequently.  You can return to this site later on to see the updates.





Thursday, April 10, 2014


Once upon a time there was a quite chubby little girl named Goldilocks.  Goldilocks had the unfortunate habit of wandering away from home in search of cream puffs.  One day while on her puffy quest she became lost in the woods.  She was crying and hungry and trying to find her way home when she came upon a charming cottage. "Maybe they will have some cream puffs",  she thought.  She knocked on the door but there was no answer, so she pushed the door open and went in.  

She was very tired from her wandering.  There were three chairs in the room.  A great big one, a middle sized one and an itty bitty one.  She tried out the itty bitty one, but it was too small.  Then she tried out the middle sized one, but it also was too small.  But the great big one was just right.

She sat in the great big chair and noticed that there were three cream puffs on the table.  A great big one, a middle sized one and an itty bitty one.  First she ate the itty bitty one, but that was not enough, so then she ate the middle sized one.  This wasn't enough either, so she ate the great big one.  

Now even Goldilocks was stuffed, so she wandered into the bedroom and there were three beds.  A great big one, a middle sized one and an itty bitty one.  Remembering past experiences, she opted for the great big one right away and fell fast asleep.

Well, who should come home to their little cottage but three bears.  A great big one, a middle sized one and an itty bitty one.  They had been out for a walk before eating their dessert and were looking forward to their cream puffs.  

"Look", cried the itty bitty bear," my cream puff is all gone" .  "Look" said the middle sized bear, "mine is gone too".  The great big bear growled, "Who ate our cream puffs?"

They looked in the bedroom and there,  in the great big bed, they found Goldilocks, with cream still on her face.

So they ate her instead.

The moral of this story: If you're going to steal cream puffs from bears, make sure you have a get-away car handy and, for Pete's sake, don't take a nap first.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

               KEEP YOU FAT               

Unrestrained, unhealthy eating and uncontrolled weight gain are not good for our bodies.  Lets face it, the chances of you or someone you know wanting to get diabetes, high blood pressure, a heart attack or any of the other diseases and maladies that may be the consequences of being overweight are slim.  We all know, well most of us, the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and weight, but sometimes we need to be reminded.

I'll tell you right now that these 7 diet mistakes were part of my daily eating routine (there were actually a lot more), in fact I still find myself struggling with a few.

We all need to stop expecting perfection from ourselves and others; we are all perfectly imperfect after all.  We will make mistakes; what we have to work toward is minimizing them as much as possible.  So here are seven of the most self-destructive errors that contribute to a flabby middle.

#1  Too many liquid calories

If you subscribe to the notion that "liquids don't count, they go in and then out", you might be surprised to learn that Americans get 21% of their calories from beverages.

Specialty coffee drinks, fruit and energy drinks and alcohol are some of the biggest calorie offenders.  Alcohol may be the worst because drinking relaxes our willpower.  After a couple of drinks, eating half a pizza may not seem like such a bad idea.

#2 Skipping meals to cut out calories

Not eating regularly throughout the day slows down your metabolism, making it harder to lose and easier to gain.  

#3  Not drinking enough water.

Water is essential for burning calories and plays an integral role in nearly every biological process in the body. 

When we're not well - hydrated our metabolism drags.

#4 Waiting for the Diet Fairy to swoop down, twang you with her magic wand and "poof" your extra pounds away.

Umm, what are you smoking?                                      

#5  Eating too little

Mistake #2 talked about intentionally skipping meals to cut calories; here we are talking about not eating enough or often enough.

Our bodies are built to help prevent starving when there's not enough food to go around.  Your body perceives any drastic reduction of calories as a threat of possible starvation and rapidly adjusts (slows) its metabolism.

#6  Mindless eating - if it's not on a plate it doesn't count

Unless you're keeping a food journal you probably don't have a clue as to how much you really eat.  Unknowingly putting hand to mouth or "eating amnesia" accounts for the large consumption of calories that have little to no nutritional value.

#7  If you exercise, you can eat anything

Just because you exercise regularly doesn't mean you can feast on garbage food all the time without worrying. Exercise won't benefit you much if you stuff your body with crap.

Exercise alone is not enough, you also need to maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

Don't believe #4.   There really is a Diet Fairy.  Anybody who doesn't believe in the Diet Fairy probably doesn't believe in the Tooth Fairy or Santa.  Geesh.                 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


     The wonders of modern science are truly mind-boggling.  First we had GMO, then we had BPA and now -tada!- the purveyors of our foodstuffs proudly present - NANO!

     As you know, in our blog we have beaten the heck out of GMO and stated our aversion to all things Monsanto, and then we jumped all over plastics and can linings and BPA.  Bloody but unbowed, science has now snuck in the back door with a science fiction staple - nanoparticles.

     Nanotechnology, that geeky mad scientist vision of the future, has now invaded the food industry.  While we may not thrill to the idea of tiny robots scurrying about our bodies, poking their teensy noses into every cell and molecule, we can at least see the possibilities of their being useful in a medical sense.  In our food - not so much.

     Few, if any, studies demonstrate the safety of nanoparticles in food, yet nanomaterials are making their way into our food supplies.  Currently the United States has no labeling requirement for products or packaging containing nanomaterials.  The FDA has stated that nanomaterials cannot generally be regarded as safe.  Ingredients that are GRAS (generally recognized as safe) at the macro level may not be safe at the nanoscale.

     Their small size allows nanoparticles to go places in the body that larger particles cannot.  Whether you inhale 'em, eat 'em or rub 'em on your skin, once they get in you they can penetrate cell walls and pass into the lymph and blood system.  From there it's a hop, skip and jump to bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, heart and they're even small enough to cross the blood brain barrier.  

     A laboratory study showed titanium dioxide nanoparticles in the white powdered sugar that coats Dunkin' Donuts Powdered Cake Donuts and Hostess Donettes. (See Slipping Through the Cracks: An Issue Brief on Nanomaterials in Food

     Back in 1966 a classic sci-fi movie was released called Fantastic Voyage.  To save the life of a diplomat, a group of doctors and scientists in a submarine were were shrunk down to the size of a bacterium and injected into the diplomat to "make repairs internally".  This is actually the cutting edge of medicine today (not tiny scientists - nanobots).  Amazing - and no prob.  Years of research and countless studies enabled such breakthroughs.  Unfortunately, when it comes to what goes into our foodstuffs, the attitude seems to be "Oh, wow.  A whole country full of lab rats.  Let's throw this out and see if anybody develops anything interesting."

      If you needed still another reason to avoid processed foods, think about this one.  Pleasant dreams.



Monday, April 7, 2014


It's difficult to turn on the TV lately without seeing the BREAKING NEWS that too much sugar is bad for you.  Duh.  Newscasters are delightedly reporting that studies have shown that the average American consumes 130 pounds of sugar per year (some studies have indicated that we eat 140 pounds a year, but what's a few pounds among friends?).

Let's do the math:

        one pound of sugar = two cups x 130 = 260 cups per year

        260 cups divided by 365 days (we won't do leap years) = .71 cups per day

That's very close to 3/4 cup each day.  Now I know you're thinking that you certainly do not consume that much sugar in a day.  If all you're considering is the spoonful or two that you put in your coffee, remember that virtually ALL processed foods contain either some form of sugar or an artificial sweetener.

Do you eat flavored yogurt?  Sugar
Do you drink milk?  Sugar    Chocolate milk?  Sugar, sugar, sugar.
Soda?  Sugar or Splenda or aspartame, etc.  
Bread or other baked goods?   Sugar
Cottage cheese?  Sugar
Energy or breakfast bars?  Sugar
Fruit juice?  Sugar

Just check out the ingredients in the packaged food you buy.  Better yet, stop at your local MacDonald's and ask to see the ingredient list of any of their 'food'.  Lots of luck with that.

If you really want to get scared, figure out the calories.

           one cup of sugar is 768 calories
           .71 cup is 545 calories PER DAY
           545 calories x 7 = 3815 calories per week
           Every extra 3500 calories you consume = one pound of weight

Presumably you don't lounge all day in a pile of pillows with servants bringing you goodies and peeling you grapes.  If that were the case, math tells us you would gain in excess of one pound per week.  Since most of us have places to go and things to do we will work off some of those calories, but they are always there, lurking, waiting for us to take a few days off.

I'm sure our readers are much more savvy than average and probably are careful about what they eat, but it's easy to fall into the trap of a Starbuck's latte with soy milk (21 g. of sugar), or a 6" sweet onion chicken teriyaki at Subway (19 g. of sugar).  Don't forget the office donuts or Aunt Tillie's double chocolate brownies.  It would be rude to decline.

The point is that we are surrounded on all sides by the beguiling allure of sweetness.  If sweetness is what you want, make it a piece of fresh fruit.  Sure it has fructose, but it also has fiber and all those macro-and micro-nutrients that make it a whole food.  Save the indulgences for special occasions and you may find that you have lost the taste for them.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


We were shocked and appalled when we realized that we last posted to our blog in December of last year.  Shame,shame on us.

In our defense, we have been working for the past many months on a work of fiction - novel length.  This, coupled with some unforeseen circumstances, is our excuse.  Robin, in addition to helping to write our book, is working on a website design, so I will be doing the blogging for the foreseeable future - and continuing to work on our book.  What the heck happened to retirement?  Ah well, 'tis a labor of love.

Now that you have heard our lengthy - and boring - excuses, what can you expect to hear from me?  Depending on time constraints and whether I feel like it or not, you may read (please read - we would love more followers) an exposé of some of the abuses foisted on us by Big Pharm, Big Ag, etc.; a video of a cute kitty; a book review; cartoons; recipes; short stories; and blah, blah, blah.  I'm nothing if not eclectic.

If you have managed to stay awake to get to this point, we love you.  To our devoted readers, we appreciate your comments and suggestions.  If there is something you would like me to research or discuss, let me know.  Your wish is my command.  I work cheap (free).