Thursday, April 27, 2017

Turmeric - Good For What Ails You

We should all strive to live a healthy lifestyle, that's a given. However, for one reason or another, many of us do not. We could be on the edge of good and have only the occasional slip or indulgence. We might think we are doing good, but underestimate that order of onion rings or the milkshake from the drive thru.

And then there's exercise. Are you up at 5 a.m. hitting the gym or the treadmill, or rushing to get in racquetball before dinner? Do you go for a walk around the block, park or mall at lunch? Does walking to the fridge during commercials for another beer, soda, or grabbing some chips count? Which category are you in? 

When we are younger, this is less of an issue, but this is also when many of our habits are formed. As we grow older and take stock of our lives and health, we try to find ways to stay out of hospitals and doctors' offices. After all, these are prime places to find germs and other nasties that can make us sick. 

So, how do we do that? In this modern age of Internet and search engines like Google (or just ask Alexa), we can find a smorgasbord of information on health, diet, drugs and other remedies. After a while you learn the reputable sites for mainstream information. You have to dig a little deeper and do a lot of comparison when you are seeking reliable information on alternatives to standard practices and procedures.

The idea of natural medicine and healing is not always accepted, and often rejected or at least questioned by those in the field of medical science. While it's not everyone's opinion, some think that if it is not produced from large companies with billions of dollars, then it isn't likely to help you. 

I enjoy doing my own research and prefer to seek natural solutions over drugs. As indicated in the title, my research led me to the health benefits of Turmeric/Curcumin. Over the past several years I have dealt with occasional bouts of TMJ, with an assortment of various symptoms. It began with my jaw popping suddenly and painfully. That went away, then came the procession of different symptoms from feeling like I was grinding sand when I would chew, to minor and not painful popping to pain when I would bite down on anything solid (thankfully that did not last long) and feeling like if I opened my mouth too wide it might not close. Yawning was done carefully and was not very satisfying.

The final and most long lasting symptom was my teeth getting out of line. They literally did not come together properly, as in my back teeth would not touch.

My first research was not so fruitful, suggesting that misaligned teeth needed braces or some other drastic measure. NOT! I knew this was temporary because there was no reason that my teeth had suddenly moved. My dentist said I could get a night guard for my TMJ and alignment issues. I was told you can get them in some stores for probably around $20, and custom-made ones are way more expensive. I have a strong gag reflex so I figured that wasn't a good option for me. Plus my problem wasn't grinding.

Back to the drawing board (Google). This time I searched on TMJ and tooth alignment. Bingo! Inflammation is the culprit. Now how to deal with inflammation without living on Advil? I searched on "TMJ inflammation" and discovered that Turmeric/Curcumin was a powerful anti-inflammatory, with very little chance for side effects. 

I made my way to the store and got the first bottle, then the second and third and fourth. I have been taking various brands and formulations for about six months and most days my teeth are fine. Are they 100% perfectly aligned all the time? No, but nearly perfect most days instead of changing significantly from day to day or morning to night. I am pleased.

The formula we are currently taking.

I got my husband to start taking Turmeric too, for general health reasons and guess what? On his last doctor's visit, his cholesterol was down in the normal range for all types and the overall total was just 4 points above normal. His LDL was down significantly from the previous test six months prior. We are believers. Turmeric is documented to reduce inflammation (1) and lower cholesterol (2)

This is NOT medical advice, merely our personal experience. Always seek actual medical advice from your doctor or pharmacist when making health-related decisions. I don't but you should.

Also, I am not recommending any particular brand. Do your research. Choose a product that is produced in the U.S. from a reputable seller.  Preferably one with BioPerine (black pepper extract). This enhances absorption.

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Friday, March 31, 2017

Brunch Is Served!

About 12:30 this morning we were awakened by a distinct "WOOF" nearby (or would have been awakened if the sandman had already sprinkled us with dream dust). We looked out and didn't see anything. There it was again, louder-WOOF, and now we find it is coming from our front yard beneath the Dogwood. 

We see a large dog standing there and we recognized him as one we've seen around before. He is friendly and we always fear for him running loose. There was another dog crouched down on the ground like he had something he was guarding. He did! At first we were afraid he had another animal. 

Thankfully not, however he had snatched the suet feeder out of the tree. It is a plastic-coated wire container with a block of suet bird food. Yum, every dog's favorite midnight snack, right? He was barking and growling, seemingly daring the other dog to try and take it. The friendly dog was just standing there watching and thinking, "Yeah, I'm never getting any of that, and here I am standing guard. That's just selfish!"

This is where the feeder had been hanging since the first of the year. Never would I have imagined that dogs would go after my bird feeder. Squirrels yes, dogs no.

We needed more food for the birdies, so we got what we found at Walmart and it was a different brand and mixture of fat and seed. Apparently this had more aroma than the previous ones. 

After it was cleaned up and reassembled, we relocated it. It is now more than a foot above my head. The picture doesn't show it well, but it is a fair bit higher than before. I suspect there is one dog in the neighborhood that isn't feeling too well this morning, so if your dog has a case of the...well you know, I'd be happy to tell you how it happened.

Note to my birds: Sorry you didn't have any breakfast here this morning. How about some brunch?

It is a simple feeder and an inexpensive way to start feeding the seed-eating birds in your yard. The feeders are a couple bucks and the food is less than a dollar at Walmart.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Love It or Hate It?

I hold to the firm belief that letters belong in literature, not mathematics. 
― J. Spredemann

As a kid, I did well enough in school in all subjects except math. That was my Achilles heel. I did okay until the sixth grade and that was the beginning of my downfall with the onset of what they called "new math" whatever that was. They tried to teach me things like Base 8 and Base 10. I still have no idea what those are or who uses them and why...maybe Charlie on Numbers. Anyone watch that?

Who knew numbers could solve so many problems, even crime? What is the statistical probability that the suspect took bus #25 into town on Friday night, picked up the paper at a news stand, then walked 14 blocks to an alley behind the pawn shop on 12th Street to commit his nefarious act and return home by the nightly news? I'm sure there is an app algorithm for that.

And then came Algebra... I never did figure that stuff out. This can cooler is spot on and sums up my thoughts on that subject perfectly.

Available at Dollar math required!

Anyway, decades later my math skills consist of the basics, with a few percentages thrown in to calculate savings. I've come clean about my lack of Mathematics skills. What about you? Love it or hate it?

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Homemade Shrimp and Grits

Hi there! Time to get back into action. It is a cold, windy day in the sunny South. After having a very mild, Spring-like February, Winter roared back with a vengeance, dropping the overnight lows into the 20's and even dropping snow in some areas over the past weekend.

This seems like the perfect time to pull out some long neglected cold weather comfort food. While I'm not a great fan of grits, hubby and I both like shrimp and grits. He has tried them in just about every restaurant that has them on the menu, so I decided I should make some myself. After all what's hard about making grits?

Image Source: Todd Sanders
The only required ingredients are, of course, the shrimp (any size is fine) and grits, again any style you like will work. Next you decide on your liquid. There are as many different recipes as there are folks making them. You can use just plain water, or chicken, vegetable or shrimp stock, which can be combined with anything from skim milk to heavy cream, but the use of dairy is not required.

Next comes your choice of cheese such as cheddar, parmigiano reggiano, gruyere or whatever you enjoy. If you don't like cheese, don't add it.

In addition to the shrimp, there is often another protein such as Tasso or spicy sausage. The remaining add-ins/add-ons may include garlic, onions, parsley and green onions.

Now we get down to how I made shrimp and grits for two.

10 extra large (16-22 ct.) shrimp, cut into thirds
1 link Andouille sausage, diced
2 cups water (I simmered the shrimp shells)
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cups quick cooking grits (let me assure this is anything but a quick recipe)
1 cup shredded cheese (combination of sharp cheddar and habanero cheddar)
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TB olive oil
1 TB butter
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cajun seasoning

Bring the water and milk to a boil and add the grits and salt, then reduce the heat, stirring frequently.

While the grits are cooking, add the olive oil to a skillet and brown the sausage, then add the onions, letting them soften before adding the garlic. After about 5 minutes, add the shrimp and Cajun seasoning and cook for about 5 minutes, more or less depending on the size of your shrimp. Add the 1/4 cup of water to deglaze the pan, then add the butter, cover and keep warm.

When the grits are cooked to the texture and/or consistency you desire, it's time to stir in the cheese. Serve in a bowl or soup plate and spoon the shrimp and sausage mixture on top.

Serves two. Total prep and cooking time about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

As I mentioned, this is not a quick-fix meal. The grits alone took well over 45 minutes to cook and even then they were not as thick as they are when I just use water. Also, use a heavy bottom pot because using milk seems to make them stick to the bottom. Perhaps it was a combination of my lightweight pot and my stove, but they required almost constant stirring.

I also chose to cut my shrimp, but leaving them whole makes for a prettier presentation. 

I congratulate my sou chef for helping bring the meal together. We both agreed that we will be doing this again, with a few adjustments. I may change up the liquids and ratios, and use wine instead of water to deglaze the pan.

Sadly, I have no picture of our tasty creation because after the extended wait for dinner, we plated and ate, so I borrowed an image found online.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Open That Bottle Night

Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life's most civilized pleasures - Michael Broadbent

It seems we are on a wine theme this month. We started with National Drink Wine Day last Saturday. Now we are moving on to Open That Bottle Night on Saturday February 25. This coincides with our Cheers gathering this month. Our group epitomizes today's quote. We have been getting together most months for ten years. We share good wine, good food and most importantly good company. It's a civilized pleasure I hope will continue for many years.

Now a little more about Open That Bottle Night. It is always the last Saturday in February. It was originated by Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher of the Wall Street Journal in 2000 and has been celebrated every year since. 

How will you celebrate?

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