A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

Sitting tied to disability among older Americans: study

(Reuters Health) Regardless of how much time older Americans spend being active, those who sit for more hours each day are more likely to be disabled, according to a new study.
Researchers found that every hour people 60 years old and older spent sitting daily was tied to a 46 percent increased risk of being disabled - even if they also exercised regularly.
"It was its own separate risk factor," Dorothy Dunlop told Reuters Health…
If future studies can confirm that sedentary behavior causes disability, which this study does not, then older people may possibly avoid becoming disabled by being more active throughout the day.
Community: No need to wait for further studies. We can certainly benefit from being active throughout the day. See below.
(Carrie Barron, M.D., Psychology Today) Cleaning up dishes and picking up dropped belongings provide the experience of completing tasks. Combining this habit with pleasureful stimuli, such as music, fosters an inner sense of mastery and autonomy. It is less about the chore and more about instilling a sense of carefulness and consideration. The honed habit can assist with academics and athletics.
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Irisin: The “Exercise Hormone” has Powerful Health Benefits

(Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today) If you need one more reason to motivate yourself to be more physically active, you can add the exercise induced hormone irisin to your list. In the past two years scientists have discovered that a hormone called irisin—which is released after moderate endurance aerobic activity—has the ability to help maintain healthy body weight, improve cognition, and slow the aging process…
Irisin Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight
[R]esearchers found that irisin is capable of reprograming the body's fat cells to burn energy instead of storing it. Experiments have shown that irisin levels increase as a result of regular aerobic exercise, but not during short-term bursts of anaerobic muscle activity.
Irisin Stimulates the Growth of Neurons and Improves Cognition
[Researchers] identified that when irisin is released during endurance exercise it improves cognitive function and protects the brain against degeneration…
Irisin May Slow the Aging Process
[Scientists showed] that irisin slowed the aging process by lengthening telomeres [the end caps on chromosomes – their length determines how many times the cell can successfully divide]…
[Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, a cell biologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute,] cautions that the discovery of irisin won't allow people to skip the gym and build muscles by taking irisin supplements, because the hormone doesn't appear to make muscles stronger.
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What's Breathwalking?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If you are crunched for time and want to get the physical benefits of walking and the mental benefits of breathing exercises, consider breathwalking. It is based on a Kundalini yoga technique, and involves making strong, purposeful strides in rhythm with breathing.
Watch my colleague, Dr. Jim Nicolai, demonstrate various examples of breathwalking including the "stair" and "wave" patterns. Give them a try!
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Exercising regularly? Keep track of your progress.

(NIH Senior Health, via email) If you’ve started to exercise regularly, it’s a good idea to keep track of how you’re doing. You’re more likely to stick with regular exercise and physical activity if you can see the benefits. See how often you should check your progress and learn about tests you can do to measure your progress.
To track your endurance activity, print out this free Activities Worksheet from Go4Life®, the exercise and physical activity campaign for older adults from the National Institute on Aging.
The information on Exercise: How To Stay Active was developed for NIHSeniorHealth by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at NIH.
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More Information and Recent Research on Exercise and Fitness

(Medical Xpress) Scientists in China and Aberdeen have made a key discovery which could explain why some people are 'couch potatoes'.
Community: That's no excuse. I’m sure I have the couch potato gene, but I exercise most days of the week.
(Sharecare.com) After a long day, plopping down on the couch and putting on your favorite show probably sounds amazing. But that's the fastest way to a flabby body. Luckily, Dr. Oz's trainer has easy exercises to help couch potatoes stay fit and toned.
(Sharecare.com) Walking is the most user-friendly form of exercise. Millions of people do it every day. In this video, integrative medical specialist Robin Miller, MD, says the speed at which you walk matters—especially if want to live longer.
(Huffington Post) For people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) -- a condition affecting 15 million Americans -- a daily exercise regimen could help them stay out of the hospital, according to a new study.
(Science Daily) Researchers are working with breast cancer survivors to help them regain muscle mass and bone density lost through both chemotherapy and the aging process.
(Mayo Clinic) Counting your steps with a pedometer can motivate you to keep walking. Here's what to look for and how to set walking goals.
(LiveScience) Plan to buy a fitness tracker like the Fitbit Force or Jawbone Up? Check out LiveScience's in-depth reviews before making a purchase.
More . . .


Cooking Light:
100 Easy Chicken Recipes
Whether it’s grilled, sautéed, baked, or roasted, this is your guide to the ultimate weeknight wonder: Chicken!
The Supermarket Guru:
Steal This Recipe® Honey Cayenne Mop Chicken
'Stolen' with permission from Scott Walton, Executive Chef of Markethouse, (located in Chicago's busy Streeterville neighborhood), this simple roast chicken recipe comes alive with a mouth-watering Honey Cayenne Mop.
Penne and Chicken with Spiced Tomato Sauce
This penne pasta recipe is a simple way to bring Italian flavors to your dinner table.  Serve with a green salad and garlic bread for a hearty, filling meal.
Turkey Burgers with Mango Chutney
Mango chutney and grilled red onion flavor this quick turkey burger. Serve with grilled baby red potatoes and a frosty beer.
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Why You Should Never Peel An Apple

(Huffington Post) Whatever the excuse -- maybe you don't like the texture or the taste -- you're plain and simple not getting all an apple has to offer by peeling it first. Here are some very powerful reasons to never remove the skin again.
The skin packs most of the fiber…
The skin also packs most of the vitamins…
Apples can ease breathing problems -- but only if you eat the skin…
Quercetin [in the skin] also protects your memory…
The skin may also keep cancer at bay…
A skin-on apple a day keeps spare pounds away.
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As cost of coffee rises, how to savor every cup

(Consumer Reports) The next time you buy coffee, the jolt you get may come not from the caffeine but the cost. The coffee futures market is heating up due to hot, dry weather in Brazil that’s harming the crop, according to the Wall Street Journal. That means the price of your morning cup could go up in the next few weeks. Even as prices rise, it’s still more economical to make coffee at home than to buy it in a coffeehouse, especially if you use one of the top-performing coffee machines and top-tasting coffees from Consumer Reports tests.
While pod coffeemakers have been growing in popularity over the last few years because of their convenience, in Consumer Reports tests the flavor of coffee made from pods, packs, or pouches hasn’t measured up to that of the coffee made in drip machines. If you want the speed of a single-serve machine but prefer a more robust brew, consider one of the brew-and-dispense models that did best in our tests.
Community: We import our coffee from Louisiana, from Community Coffee. We order 10 pounds at a time, and I’m on their mailing list, so I wait for a big discount offer, to get the best deal. Our favorite is the red bag dark roast.
This past Christmas, I bought us a French press coffee maker, because it gives us the health advantages of boiled coffee. And I’m loving the ritual of making it in the morning.
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Food Packaging Chemicals May Be Harmful to Human Health Over Long Term

(Science Daily) The synthetic chemicals used in the packaging, storage, and processing of foodstuffs might be harmful to human health over the long term, warn environmental scientists in a commentary in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
This is because most of these substances are not inert and can leach into the foods we eat, they say.
Despite the fact that some of these chemicals are regulated, people who eat packaged or processed foods are likely to be chronically exposed to low levels of these substances throughout their lives, say the authors.
And far too little is known about their long term impact, including at crucial stages of human development, such as in the womb, which is "surely not justified on scientific grounds," the authors claim…
[S]ome sort of population-based assessment and biomonitoring are urgently needed to tease out any potential links between food contact chemicals and chronic conditions like cancer, obesity, diabetes, neurological and inflammatory disorders, particularly given the known role of environmental pollutants, they argue.
"Since most foods are packaged, and the entire population is likely to be exposed, it is of utmost importance that gaps in knowledge are reliably and rapidly filled," they urge.
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Fecal Transplant Regulations Too Strict, Some Say

(LiveScience) Physicians use fecal transplants to treat certain intestinal infections, but the procedures recently came under strict regulations, with the Food and Drug Administration managing the transplants as though they were a drug treatment.
This regulation has made it harder for patients to receive fecal transplants, and in a new paper, some researchers are calling for the transplants to instead be regulated as a tissue, akin to blood donations.
The raw material for fecal transplants isn't hard to come by, and so in the face of what some see as current over-regulation, an underground market for the transplants will likely spring up, the researchers argued.
Community: Fecal transplant may even be a treatment for obesity, which is infinitely more desirable than going under the knife, to me.
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Don't slam Canada for mammogram study

(H. Gilbert Welch, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice) Last week, a 25-year follow-up of the Canadian National Breast Screening Study was published -- one of the eight major randomized trials of screening mammography. The headline was simple: Mammogram screenings don't reduce cancer death rates.
The reaction by some American mammographers was predictable -- discredit the study. It's predictable because it is exactly what they did when they didn't like the first findings of the study published more than 20 years ago…
In the Canadian trial, one group received a regular physical exam of the breast -- a very careful exam performed by specially trained nurses. The other group received the same regular physical examplus regular mammography. In other words, the trial tested the usefulness of adding mammography to a physical exam in an effort to detect abnormalities that are too small to feel.
And the trial showed that finding these "too small to feel" abnormalities doesn't help women live longer.
That's really important information. It doesn't mean that mammography can't help at all -- it is extremely challenging to standardize a physical exam of the breast across an entire population. It does mean, however, that if we are going to do mammography, we should be using it to find big, important things -- not small, unimportant things.
Further, the Canadian trial confirms that the harm of being overdiagnosed by screening mammography is real: One in five invasive cancers found by screening represents overdiagnosis. Overdiagnosis happens when cellular abnormalities meet the pathologic definition of "cancer," yet never progress to cause clinical disease. Overdiagnosed women are told they have cancer, are treated for cancer, yet their "cancer" is not destined to cause them any problems.
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'Low T' and the peril of medicating grumpy old men

(Steven Woloshin and Lisa M. Schwartz, Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice) Could you have low testosterone?
That's the question Abbott Laboratories (now AbbVie) has been urging men to consider with its "Is It Low T?" awareness campaign, a highly effective effort to change how doctors and the public think about managing aging in men…
Since the start of the campaign, testosterone sales, which had been stable for years, have risen more than 1,800%, exceeding $1.9 billion in 2012.
By targeting men worried about weight, muscle tone, energy levels, mood and sexual satisfaction, the campaigns imply that treatment will help them become thinner, more muscular, more energetic, less grumpy and more sexually satisfied. But there's a big problem: We really don't know if diagnosing and treating "low T" does any good. More important, there is some evidence it may cause harm.
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Nasal Tissue Samples May Advance Personalized Medicine for Asthma

(Science Daily) It has become increasingly clear in recent years that asthma comes in several variations, with different causes, different pathologies and different responses to therapy. These subtypes of asthma can be identified by knowing which genes are expressed at higher and lower levels in patients' airways. That information can, in turn, help guide personalized treatment to more effectively manage asthma and inspire research to better understand, manage and possibly prevent asthma.
The difficulty is that tissue samples necessary for this kind of genetic profiling are currently obtained from the airways, which requires bronchoscopy, an invasive procedure involving sedation. Concerns about safety, sedation, and expense limits the use of bronchoscopy, especially among children, and thus the asthmatic tissue samples needed for genetic profiling.
Max Seibold, PhD, … and his colleagues recently described a less invasive, less expensive and safer way to obtain genetic profiles of asthmatic patients… [T]hey recently demonstrated that genes expressed in the nasal passages can serve as accurate proxies for those expressed deeper in the airways. Tissue samples can be obtained from nasal passages with a small brush.
Dr. Seibold and his colleagues showed that gene expression in the nasal passages overlaps 90% with genes expressed in the lungs.
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Helpful Meds Can Become Harmful As You Grow Older

(LiveScience) A drug that helped you cope with depression in your 30s, 40s, and 50s can become a menace to your health when you enter your 60s and beyond. Too many patients and too many of the doctors who first wrote the prescriptions may not realize something that was a great help in coping with anxiety and depression threatens to do great harm at a different stage in life. A body's ability to process and manage medicines becomes less effective as we age.
The category of drugs to watch out for is called benzodiazepines. Medicare Part D is covering these medications for the first time in 2013, and this calls for alertness by both patients and doctors…
They are often prescribed for anxiety, agitation, muscle spasms and sleep disorders.
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Novel contact lenses 'enable more effective glaucoma drug delivery'

(Medical News Today) Glaucoma is a disease caused by damage to the optic nerve in the eye - the nerve that sends electrical impulses from the retina to the brain…
Patients with glaucoma are often treated with eye drops. These drops can reduce the production of fluid in the eye, or help the eye drain fluid.
But the research team, led by Dr. Dean Ho of the UCLA School of Dentistry, says these eye drops can cause many side effects, such as dry eyes, headaches and sensitivity to light.
The investigators note that some glaucoma patients also find it hard to keep up with their eye drop regime.
Furthermore, they say that as little of 5% of the drugs used in the eye drops can actually reach the affected area and, at times, the drug can be delivered into the eye too fast, which causes it to spill out of the eye…
The research team combined glaucoma medication with nanodiamonds and embedded them into contact lenses. When the drugs interact with the patient's tears, the drugs are released into the eye.
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Brain Signals Move Paralyzed Limbs in New Experiment

(Science Daily) To help people suffering paralysis from injury, stroke or disease, scientists have invented brain-machine interfaces that record electrical signals of neurons in the brain and translate them to movement. Usually, that means the neural signals direct a device, like a robotic arm…
When paralyzed patients imagine or plan a movement, neurons in the brain's motor cortical areas still activate even though the communication link between the brain and muscles is broken. By implanting sensors in these brain areas, neural activity can be recorded and translated to the patient's desired movement using a mathematical transform called the decoder. These interfaces allow patients to generate movements directly with their thoughts.
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Affordable Care Act News

(Bloomberg) One-third of U.S. employers plan to move their workers’ health-care coverage to a private exchange in the next few years, a survey found, following the lead of companies like Walgreen Co. seeking to reduce costs.
(Kaiser Health News) Similar coverage in places like Minneapolis (cheaper) and Aspen (more expensive) have very different costs. Here's why.
(Politico) Newfound health benefits often come with newfound questions. But most states have either spurned or run out of federal funding for consumer assistance programs aimed at guiding Obamacare’s newly insured through the complexities of using their coverage. Some states with GOP governors never sought Affordable Care Act dollars for these programs. Most states that did have almost used up the federal cash and are struggling to keep programs afloat. Only 12 states and the District of Columbia now have active consumer assistance programs, and they’re basically on their own.
(The Fiscal Times) Many Americans within Obamacare’s target market -- like young or low income Americans -- are still largely unaware of the president’s health care law.  According to the Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey, only about a third of all adults have heard either “some or a lot” about Obamacare. Those without insurance and/or below the poverty threshold were even less likely to know about the new law.
(Wall Street Journal) On Jan. 1, the key provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect. Americans gained access to new health plans subsidized by federal dollars. Insurers no longer can turn away people with existing conditions. Millions are now eligible for new Medicaid benefits. But the federal law also upended existing health-insurance arrangements for millions of people. Companies worry about the expense of providing new policies, some hospitals aren't seeing the influx of new patients they expected to balance new costs and entrepreneurs say they may hire more part-time workers to avoid offering more coverage.
(CBS News) Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Monday argued the Affordable Care Act will not lead to job losses, in spite of a nonpartisan analysis that the Republican Party has used to argue just that. "There is absolutely no evidence -- and every economist will tell you this -- that there is any job loss related to the Affordable Care Act," Sebelius said at an event in Orlando, according to WESH-TV.
(Reuters) A gay couple in Ohio filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday, charging they were unable to obtain family coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law because the state of Ohio does not recognize their same-sex marriage.
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Medicare Will Cover Rehab for Chronic Heart Failure Patients

(MedPage Today) Medicare will cover cardiac rehabilitation services for patients with stable yet chronic heart failure, the agency said Tuesday.
Under the final decision, Medicare would pay for rehab services -- exercise, behavioral risk factor reduction, health education, and personal counseling -- for patients with left ventricular ejection fraction of 35% or less and New York Heart Association class II to IV symptoms with at least 6 weeks of heart failure therapy.
Previously, Medicare covered rehab only for patients who had experienced an acute myocardial infarction in the preceding year or had undergone coronary artery bypass surgery, heart or heart-lung transplant, or other major events.
But a review of literature on rehab services from 2006 to August 2013 led the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to determine that cardiac rehab services were effective in chronic heart failure as well.
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Loneliness increases risk of premature death in seniors

(Medical News Today) According to research by a professor at the University of Chicago, extreme loneliness can increase an older person's risk of premature death by 14%...
John Cacioppo, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, says he found dramatic differences in the rate of decline in physical and mental health between lonely and socially engaged older people.
Loneliness can have profound health consequences for older people. Disrupted sleep, elevated blood pressure, increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increased depression are all reported in people experiencing extreme loneliness. This can also cause problems for the body's immune system and generally lower overall feelings of well-being.
In 2013, Medical News Today reported on a study from the UK that found social isolation is tied to a shorter lifespan. Although Cacioppo - who specializes in analyzing the health effects of loneliness - found that the UK-based study contradicted some of his findings, he suggested that this could be due to cultural differences between Americans and older British people.
Community: Is better health the impetus for more socializing, or does socializing drive better health? The article doesn’t say.
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Science refreshes its view of aging

(Chicago Tribune) How do we stay healthy and mobile into our senior years? How do we stave off dementia?
Exercise regularly. Stay mentally active. Nurture rich social connections. Find things you enjoy doing and people you enjoy doing them with, scientists said at the annual Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.
"We don't know how to be old because old age is relatively young. It's something new to us," University of Illinois psychology professor Elizabeth Stine-Morrow told a crowd, many of them middle-aged scientists, at the Hyatt Regency for a program Sunday on "The Science of Resilient Aging."
"A century ago, the average life span was 45 or 50 ... and 4 to 5 percent of the population was over 65," she said. "By 2050, it's going to be over a fifth of the population."
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For Health Reasons, Fort Worth Is Going Blue

(KERA News) Fort Worth wants to reduce medical bills and invest in healthier living, so the city is going blue in a five-year project, called the Blue Zones Project
“Blue Zones is actually an off-shoot of a 10-year-long National Geographic project that found parts of the world where populations are living longer with a fraction of the rate of heart disease and cancer and diabetes,” [Dan] Buettner says. “And then, in a sense we reversed engineered it. So we went in to find out what these people are doing that explains longevity.”
Buettner is working with Texas Health Resources, the city of Fort Worth and community groups to create what it’s calling "blue zones."
“We focus on the buildings, and the built-in environment that people live in, so I’m not hounding individuals,” he says. “I’m using evidence-based ways to optimize our streets, our restaurants, our grocery stores.”  
That means asking schools to limit eating to cafeterias loaded with fruits and vegetables, building sidewalks and bike lanes, or asking employers to tie gym memberships to lower insurance rates.
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Smog, clog — and HEALTH?

(Lauren Kessler, Counter Clockwise) I’m going to tell you about extraordinarily [healthy] and long lived people who live in the belly of the beast, aka 21st century America. And not just America: California. And not just California: Southern California. That’s right, land of smog and clog, land of freeways and fast food. Yet, the healthiest and longest lived people in all of North American live here…
They are the extensively studied Seventh day Adventists of Loma Linda, California, and there’s a glimpse of the lifestyle that keeps them weller than well:
They exercise.
They avoid alcohol, tobacco and “mind altering substances.” (I’m afraid that means caffeine, but I choose not to think too deeply about this.)
They eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet rich in legumes, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
They work to create, nourish and maintain strong relationships.
They are involved in their communities.
They believe that good health is “a gift from a loving God who wants us to live life in its abundance.” (Personally, I could get behind a God like that.)
They believe that “to not take care of our bodies, which is a part of the stewardship of the earth, is an affront to our God.
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More Information and Recent Research on Aging and General Health

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If you snack regularly on nuts, you may be prolonging your life. The latest study on this healthy snack found that individuals who ate a one-ounce serving of nuts daily (that amounts to 16-24 almonds, 16 to 18 cashews) reduced their risk of dying from any cause over three decades compared to people who didn’t eat nuts or ate fewer nuts.
(Sharecare.com) Here's a pleasant little pastime that takes about 5 minutes to do each day but could make you up to 5 years younger if you're faithful to it: drinking tea. In a Chinese study, the cells of enthusiastic tea drinkers showed about 5 fewer years' worth of wear and tear compared with the cells of people who drank little tea.
(Appetite for Health) These days virtually every beauty product and service is touting “anti-aging” benefits: from creams and lotions to pricy laser treatments.  While some may actually work to reduce the signs of aging, many cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.  For some of the most effective (and least expensive!) age erasers, look no further than your local grocery store.  Fruits, vegetables, green tea, and a host of other healthful foods rich in antioxidants and other age-deterring compounds will help give you a gorgeous, youthful glow.
(Dr. Sanjay Jain, MD) Getting used to regular health screenings sets the foundation for your future well-being. The older we get, the more critical it becomes.
(Science Daily) Single seniors lead a risky life: after a fall, they often lie on the floor several hours before their awkward predicament is discovered. A sensor system detects these emergency situations automatically and sends an emergency signal.
(Washington Post) [Mary-Carroll] Potter is a member of Mount Vernon at Home, a “senior village” that, for an annual fee of $700 per individual or $950 per couple, coordinates volunteers to provide older residents with services that help them live independently.
(New York Times) According to a recent study…, about 20 percent of all new businesses were started by entrepreneurs aged 50 to 59 years, and 15 percent were 60 and over. And, in fact, over the last decade, the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity belongs to those in the 55-to-64 age group, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity. A desire to work for oneself and create a business that is meaningful and has social impact at this stage of life, combined with a job market that makes it tough for workers over 50 to get hired, has clearly pushed more people to pursue the entrepreneurial path.
More . . .


Sesame Pork Rice
Brightly flavored with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and rice vinegar, this pork fried rice recipe is faster than take-out, ready in just 15 minutes.
Caldo Tlalpeño
Although there are many variations of this Mexican chicken soup, spicy chipotle chiles are always part of the broth. Make it a meal: Serve with a Mexican beer and cheese quesadillas.
Grilled Steak with Texas Mop Sauce
Coffee might be a surprising barbecue ingredient, but in Texas it often shows up in "mop sauce," which is used to baste, or mop, meat while it's cooking, resulting in a moist and tender dish. The name probably comes from the fact that pit masters in the South actually use cotton mops to baste large quantities of slow-cooking meat.
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Healthy eating takes more planning, effort than money

(Tulsa World) Suzanne Forsberg, [a] healthy-lifestyle dietitian at St. John Medical Center, believes purchasing healthy foods can be expensive and that's probably because you're shopping and eating incorrectly.
For starters, you can't neglect portion control and eat more than the recommended serving size, she said.
In the grocery store, don't buy "posh brand names" when cheaper choices are just as good. For instance, store brand shredded wheat vs. Kashi or store-brand Greek yogurt vs. the name-brand stuff.
It can also be expensive if you buy convenience items, such as snack packs, individual servings, frozen meals, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, and salad in a bag, Forsberg said.
Meat and fresh produce tend to be more expensive, Campbell said. That's why she urges shoppers who seek her services at Reasor's to buy items in-season, which will save you money…
You can minimize waste by buying a bag of oranges and some bananas, and eat those all week, Campbell said. Next week, buy a bag of apples and some grapes.
Healthy eating on a budget takes planning, she said. "Write a list, shop from a list, pack your lunch, and post your meals."
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'Personal nutritionist' helps shoppers to buy healthy food at Horwich Tesco

(Bolton News) First, there were personal shoppers to help you look good — and now there are personal nutritionists to help you feel good too.
The Nutricentre in Tesco Extra, Horwich, has launched a free healthy eating tour of the store to educate shoppers about what is in their food.
Qualified nutritionist Aimee Wheeler is on hand to help customers learn about the good and the not-so-good food on offer — looking at salt and sugar content, calories and fat, and gluten and wheat free alternatives.
Community: I haven’t seen anything like this going on here.
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Mardi Gras season stirs up Louisiana cooking

(The News Herald) The words Cajun and Creole often are used interchangeably, though chefs and Louisiana natives still know the difference…
“Creole is more centered around New Orleans. The hub of Cajun cooking is Southwestern Louisiana, with Lafayette, La., being kind of the hub. There’s a lot of ‘mixture’ dishes that have a Creole version and a Cajun version — that is Louisiana cooking. Creole is a mixture of cultures. Louisiana is a mixture of cultures.”
Creole cuisine has been influenced by Native Americans, French, Spanish, Africans, English, German and Italian cultures, while Cajun cooking can be traced to French immigrants who settled in Southern Louisiana in the 1700s.
“Creole is a lot more city versus country, fancy versus simple. Creole is a lot more complex than Cajun, which is more one-pot cooking — jambalayas, gumbos, etouffees, meant to be cooked long and slow. A lot think Cajun is spicy, maybe a little more bite than Creole, but not blow you away. They lived off the land and pepper masked the flavor of things such as opossum. It’s not meant to be hot, hot, hot. Everyone thinks cayenne pepper, but it’s not; it’s spicy with flavors, not peppers,” [Executive Chef Beany] Macgregor said.
Community: If you’re interested in Louisiana cooking, why not buy a book written by my friend Marcelle Bienvenu?
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The Food Basket of America - Hungry People, No Water

(Food Journal) While the joint statement from Secretaries Tom Vilsack (Agriculture), Sally Jewell (Interior) and Penny Pritzker (Commerce) on Governor Jerry Brown's drought declaration in California ensured Federal help for farmers in counties severely affected by the drought, the broader message is "the long-term need to take a comprehensive approach to tackling California's water problems."
The Joaquin Valley, "the food basket of the world" is in troubled times. With unemployment as high as 40% in towns such as Mendota, Firebaugh and Huron, and farmers leaving 50% of their land fallow due to the drought, the largely Hispanic populations are going hungry. The CA Latino Water Coalition marched to the State Capital to rally for a short-term water supply solution. The drought is affecting not just farm workers, but truck drivers, processing plant employees, gas stations and inspection officers. "The story is more about the harm to the food production enterprise and the social fabric in rural California than consumer level price effects," says Jason Peltier, Chief Deputy General Manager, Westlands Water District. That said, expect a price hike in certain produce such as lettuce come spring or the price of tomato sauce.  
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Germany's stance on pricing threatens drug firm profits

(Reuters) Germany's plan to publish price discounts agreed with drugmakers poses a risk to profits in the industry, which fears the information could be used to drive down prices elsewhere.
Germany, Europe's biggest market for medicines, is already one of the toughest for pharmaceutical companies, in part because statutory health insurers club together to increase their bargaining power in price negotiations with the industry.
Now, in its latest drive to curb rising healthcare costs, Berlin has drafted new rules that will blow the lid on the previously confidential discounts the insurers win. Discounts vary widely, but can be around 20 percent off drugmakers' list prices.
The aim of the new law, which could come into force as soon as April, is to stop wholesalers and pharmacies from basing their margins on list prices rather than the discounted prices.
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Apple looking at cars, medical devices for growth - report

(Reuters) Apple Inc is looking at cars and medical devices to diversify its sources of revenue as growth from iPhones and iPads slow, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.
Apple's head of mergers and acquisitions, Adrian Perica, met with Tesla Motors Inc founder Elon Musk at the company's headquarters last year around the same time analysts suggested that Apple acquire the Model S electric car maker, the newspaper reported on Sunday, citing a source.
The company is also exploring medical devices and sensors that can help predict heart attacks by studying sound blood makes at it flows through arteries.
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Bing joins fitness craze with new Health and Fitness app

(Tech Times) Clearly 2014 is the year to get into shape. Everyone from Google to Apple and all the other technology companies in between are pushing new health and fitness apps and devices. Now even Microsoft has jumped on the band wagon with Bing Health and Fitness. 
Instead of manufacturing an expensive wearable, Microsoft opted to bring health and fitness to Windows Phone users in the form of several apps.
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Acid-Bath Stem Cell Study under Investigation

(Scientific American) A leading Japanese research institute has opened an investigation into a groundbreaking stem-cell study after concerns were raised about its credibility. 
The RIKEN center in Kobe announced on Friday that it is looking into alleged irregularities in the work of biologist Haruko Obokata, who works at the institution. She shot to fame last month as the lead author on two papers published in Nature that demonstrated a simple way to reprogram mature mice cells into an embryonic state by simply applying stress, such as exposure to acid or physical pressure on cell membranes. The RIKEN investigation follows allegations on blog sites about the use of duplicated images in Obokata’s papers, and numerous failed attempts to replicate her results.    
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23% in US Use Online Doctor Ratings, Others Don't Trust Them

(LiveScience) About a quarter of Americans have used websites that ratephysicians, and although some people said the sites helped them pick a doctor, others said they distrust the ratings, according to a new study…
Overall, 23 percent of respondents said they'd used such ratings sites in the past year. Of those who did use the sites, 35 percent said they'd picked a doctor based on good ratings, and 37 percent said they'd avoided certain doctors because of bad ratings.
Of those who did not use online physician ratings, 43 percent said they did not trust the information.
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New Insights on the Cost Structure of Home Health Agencies

(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) The home health industry is dominated by for-profit agencies, which tend to be newer than the non-profit agencies and to have higher average costs per patient but lower costs per visit. For-profit agencies tend to have smaller scale operations and different cost structures, and are less likely to be affiliated with chains. Our estimates suggest diseconomies of scale, zero marginal cost for contracting with therapy workers, and a positive marginal cost for contracting with nurses, when controlling for quality.
Our findings suggest that efficiencies may be achieved by promoting non-profit, smaller agencies, with fewer contract nursing staff. This conclusion should be tested further in future studies that address some of the limitations of our study.
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