Rhonda’s Cooking


Archive for June, 2008

Stop Putting It Off—Take Care of Your Body

Posted by rhondascooking on June 20, 2008

Did you know that the No. #1 cause of death amongst adult men and women is atherosclerosis, a disease affecting the arterial blood vessels?  Although you may not feel it, when you have atherosclerosis, your blood vessels do not function as well as they could and it may reduce your quality of life, according to cardiologist Dr. Robert Ostfeld.1  


As you may have heard last weekend, NBC’s Meet the Press anchor, Tim Russet (age 58), died suddenly while at work due to a rupture in the artery caused by cholesterol plaque build up.1  Reports indicate that Tim has had coronary artery disease for many years, as well as an enlarged heart.  His health was being monitored by his doctor and “under control” with medication and exercise; as a matter of fact, according to NBC, Tim did well on his stress test in April.  Unfortunately, there was not a test available that could predict that plaque would rupture.


I know that this is hard for Tim’s family, friends and his fans, and I don’t want to exploit this situation.  However, I do have several subscribers to this newsletter who are challenged with some sort of heart problem, who can learn from what has happened. So, please don’t stop reading this article, instead perform a self-check.  If you know that you or someone else you know has been diagnosed with high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, an enlarged heart, diabetes, obesity, etc., stop wasting time; do your part by making some changes in your life. According to studies, heart atherosclerosis develops from LDL (bad cholesterol).2 LDL increases when you eat fried foods, high fructose corn syrup, etc.  Some ways you can decrease LDL by eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acid, eating whole grains, losing weight and exercising. 


So stop telling yourself that life is too short—you’re going to eat whatever you want.  Stop telling yourself, that you can’t stop eating fried chicken and peach cobblers.  Don’t allow your lusts/desires for unhealthy foods to determine your fate in life.  The following are Dr. Cam Patterson’s, Chief of the Division of Cardiology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 4 important steps to do concerning your health:

1.      Have a dialogue with your physician about your risk and whether you’re at high risk or not.

2.      Identify those things under your power to control and to change those that you can.

3.      Make those changes as part of a lifestyle commitment and not as a diet you fall on and off of; it really needs to be a lifestyle commitment.

4.      Understand that cardiovascular disease is the # 1 cause of death and disability in our society, so it’s something you really can’t afford to ignore.



1 “Tim Russet’s Death:  Questions, Answers.”  June 17, 2008.  Medscape.  June 18, 2008 <http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/576251_print>.

2“Atherosclerosis.”  June 13, 2008.  Wikipedia.  June 19, 2008.  < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atherosclerosis#Diet_and_dietary_supplements>.


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Summer Foods

Posted by rhondascooking on June 20, 2008

The official day of summer starts tomorrow, Saturday, June 21, 2008, but for those of you in very hot climates like Arizona, summer started 2 months ago!  Summer time for most people is a time for activities like vacationing with family, relaxing by the pool, or swimming.  As for me, summer time is about cooking and eating wonderful fruits and vegetables that I get from my local Farmer’s Market.


Eating foods when they are in season makes for an awesome dining experience!  When foods are in season, this means that they are at its peak of the growth cycle—the fruit is very sweet!  Do you remember what happened when you bought a peach from the grocery store in December? I’m sure that it was bitter!  This is because peaches are a summer fruit.  Most of the fruit sold in stores year round even though they are not in season are grown in a controlled environment—sometimes it may be sweet and other times it may not be. 


Some of the delicious fruits, vegetables and herbs that are (or will be) in season for June and July are as follows:







Summer squash (yellow crooked, zucchini, etc.)









Green Beans (snap beans)


Melons (cantaloupe, Honeydew, water, etc.)









Berries (black, rasp, etc.)



















Peppers (sweet/bell)



Please note that peaches, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, grapes, green beans, cucumbers, raspberries, and plums are ranked in the top 20 worst produce impacted by pesticides, so please try to buy these items organic (for more information, see Newsletter May 16th).  A good place to buy local, seasonal, and organic produce is at your local farmer’s market.  To find a farmer’s marketing new you, please visit http://apps.ams.usda.gov/FarmersMarkets/.  

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Gadget of the Week: The Epicurean Cutting Surface

Posted by rhondascooking on June 20, 2008

The Epicurean Cutting Surface is a cutting board that is made of wood composite and non-porous material, which prevents bacteria from harboring.  This material is the same material that is used for skate boarding platforms!  I started using the Epicurean about 8 months ago.  What made me buy it wasn’t the price—it is actually pricey—but it was the size and the appearance.  This cutting board is relatively flat and has a very stylish look for my kitchen (it comes in a natural or slate finish). 

What I love most is the fact that I don’t have pieces of the board’s material on my food as I cut.  Also, unlike the other boards that I used in the past, my Epicurean cutting surface doesn’t have deep cuts in it after slicing food. The Epicurean is NSF approved, dishwasher safe, heat resistant, and eco friendly.  This board can be purchased from Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sur la Table, as well as on Amazon.com.  If you haven’t seen the Epicurean Cutting surface, take a look at the demo video from their website










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Update on the Nationwide Tomato Recall

Posted by rhondascooking on June 13, 2008

In a press release distributed on Saturday, June 7, 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers nationwide not to consume certain types of raw red tomatoes due to an outbreak of salmonella, specifically Salmonella serotype Saintpaul, an uncommon type of salmonella.1 Salmonella is a group of bacteria with many different kinds.  Since the first announcement, the FDA has reported that at least 167 were infected with salmonella across 17 states.
The types of raw red tomatoes that are suspected are raw red plum, red Roma, round red tomatoes, and products containing these raw tomatoes.  At this time the source of this outbreak has not yet been identified, the FDA has identified the states, territories and countries that have not been associated with this outbreak.1, 2 According to the FDA, grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and tomatoes on the vine are not linked to the outbreak. 







1 “FDA Warns Consumers Nationwide Not to Eat Certain Types of Raw Red Tomatoes?”  June 8, 2008.  The U. S. Food and Drug Administration.  June 11, 2008 <http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2008/NEW01848.html>.

2“Advice for Retailers, Restaurateurs and Food Service Operators.”  June 11, 2008.  The U. S. Food and Drug Administration.  June 12, 2008.  <http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/tomatoes.html#retailers>.


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Living with Food Allergies

Posted by rhondascooking on June 13, 2008

Food allergies develop when the body’s immune system reacts to certain foods that are harmless.  When this reaction occurs, the body produces antibodies to the food and releases various chemicals in the body, which triggers allergic reactions such as hives, nausea, swelling, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, etc.1, 2 Food intolerances, unlike food allergies, do not involve the immune system; instead it is a food reaction in the digestive system. 


Research indicates that over 12 million Americans suffer with food allergies—2 to 4% are adults and 6 to 8% are children.3, 4 There are many foods that could cause an allergic reaction, but only 8 of them account for over 90% of all food allergies.3, 4 These foods are dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, etc.).  A food allergy can occur in both children and adults of all ages and races.  According to the Center for Disease Control each year hundreds die from food allergies and over 30,000 receive life-saving treatment in emergency rooms due to food induced anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction) and 150 deaths annually.2


Unfortunately, today there is no medicine to cure people with food allergies.  The best prescription that many doctors give is for the person to avoid all food that they are allergic to.  Some sources state that people can grow out of their allergies; however this is not always true for everyone.  In 2005, I was diagnosed with food intolerances to casein (protein found in milk), eggs, and soy; and, in 2006, I learned that I have food allergies to almonds, blueberries, pineapples, cane sugar, yeast, whey, and sesame.   I also learned that many of these foods triggered arthritic inflammation in my body.   Consequently, I have completely removed all of these foods from my diet, and yes I can tell the difference in how I feel—much better!


You cannot look at someone to determine if he or she has a food allergy.  So, please be sure to ask first or label the ingredients in foods before serving to people—it could mean life or death.


1 “What is a food allergy?”  The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. June 10, 2008 <http://www.foodallergy.org/questions.html>.

2“Allergies: Problem Foods: Is It an Allergy or Intolerance?”  WebMD.  June 10, 2008 <http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/foods-allergy-intolerance>.

3“Healthy Youth! Food Allergies.”  CDC. June 11, 2008 <http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/foodallergies>.

4“Food Allergy Information.”  Food Allergy Initiative.  June 11, 2008 <http://www.foodallergyinitiative.org/section_home.cfm?section_id=3>.

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Gadget of the Week: FoodSaver® Vacuum Sealing System

Posted by rhondascooking on June 12, 2008

FoodSaver (image www.foodsaver.com)This week’s lifesaver is the FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System.  I use this wonderful appliance everyday, several times a day!  The FoodSaver keeps food fresh longer by using a vacuum sealer packaging.  When I first purchased this appliance 2 years ago, I was a naysayer; I didn’t believe the claims.  However, after using it for a variety of things from storing lettuce to freezing dinners I soon became a believer.  What I really love most is that it does not require a lot of counter space. 


The FoodSaver comes with an instructional DVD explaining the usage and benefits of the system.   You can purchase this appliance online at FoodSaver.com, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sam’s Club, or Costco.  Due to the fact that Foodsaver.com offers free shipping and lots of sales, it is the best place to purchase the accessories and newer models that are not offered in retail stores.

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