Rhonda’s Cooking

www.rhondascooking.com

Hunger in America: Feed a Family for Christmas

Posted by rhondascooking on December 5, 2011

Lately I’ve been thinking about what I could do to impact my community even more than I currently do.  As I kept this thought in the forefront of my mind, I was introduced to a project called “You Got Blessd”, a project to encourage people to be a blessing to others.  As I brainstormed options, I decided to identify an activity that involves food.  So, I decided that I would bless a family living in the Phoenix / East Valley area with food.  As I researched ways to do this, I came across a lot of statistics regarding the number of households that are at poverty level and without food.  As I continued to read, my heart ached more and more.   The following are some statistics that Feeding America published on its website regarding hunger in America:

America’s Childhood Hunger Facts

  • According to the USDA, over 16 million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2010
  • In 2009, the top five states with the highest rate of food insecure children under 18 are the District of Columbia, Oregon, Arizona, Arkansas, & Texas.
  • In 2010, 16.4 million or approximately 22 percent of children in the U.S. lived in poverty.
  • Research indicates that hungry children have done more poorly in school and have lower academic achievement because they are not well prepared for school and cannot concentrate

Arizona’s Hunger Facts

  • More than 888,100 unduplicated Arizonans receive emergency food assistance annually.
  • 1 in 4 Arizona children age 18 or under are living in poverty
  • More than 464,000 (12.5%) people live in poverty; 37% of those living in poverty are children!
  • 50% report having to choose between buying food and paying for utilities
  • 41% report having to choose between buying food and paying their rent or mortgage
  • 27% report having to choose between buying food and paying for medical care
  • 31% report having to choose between buying food and paying for transportation

So, as you see, we don’t have to travel far to feed hungry people, we can start right here in America—in our own communities.  Join me in helping to feed America starting within your community, especially during the upcoming Christmas holiday! If you know of a family in need please send their name and contact information to info@rhondascooking.com.


 

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XBox 360 w/ Kinect Changes the Game of Health

Posted by rhondascooking on November 24, 2011

I’m not a hard core gamer, but since Microsoft released its Kinect for XBox 360 I’ve turned into a HUGE fan thanks to games like “Your Shape”, “The Biggest Loser”, and “Adventure Games.”    I’m sure you’re wondering why and the answer is simple–these games make me sweat!    After setting up my Kinect and launching the first game, it was so much fun, and it left me drenched in sweat with an elevated heart rate and gasping for air!   I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m out of shape!”

XBox 360 w/ Kinect

Also, with games like  “Your Shape” I’m able to have my own personal trainer in the comfort of my home–no need to pay gym membership and trainer fees.  This game is truly amazing; I’m can set workout routines that complement my goals and body profile.   There is no special device  to hold during the workout; the Kinect senor senses my body and all I have to do is just get moving!

I know that many Parents struggle with decidng whether to purchase a video game console for their childbren, but I believe that XBox 360 is worth adding to the wishlist!  This console can help encourage children to exercise more which helps in reducing obesity or heart disease, which are ideal.  Just integrate exercise fitness game play with their favorite games, such as for every 15 minutes of regular game play, there will be 15 minutes of fitness game time!   Lastly, not only is the the XBox 360 an awesome gaming console, but also it is a great all-around home entertainment center that delivers both Live and On-Demand content.

So, no matter the occasion, XBox 360 with the Kinect are indeed must have’s for any family!

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African American Boys More Likely to Have Severe Food Allergies!

Posted by rhondascooking on November 13, 2011

A few months ago the results from a study were published that addressed African American boys and food allergies, so I definitely wanted to post these findings on my blog; here’s what I learned.

A food allergy can occur in both children and adults of all ages and races.  In fact, research shows that over 12 million Americans suffer with food allergies—2 to 4% are adults and 6 to 8% are children.[1][2]  What’s even more alarming is that of those 960,000 children with food allergies, African American boys are more than FOUR times likely to have moderate to severe food allergies in comparison to other races of children![3]  Even worse than this statistic is the nightmare that parents have to deal with as they attempt to read food labels and decipher which foods are safe and which ingredients are derivatives of their child’s allergen. FDA officials have even stated that the current warning labels “may not be protecting the health of allergic consumers.”  In a sense, African American parents are often playing a game of Russian roulette when they purchase ANY prepackaged food or beverage for their children.

In my opinion, reading food labels requires a chemistry degree because the ingredients that are in the foods are just ridiculous!  So, for a parent who isn’t knowledgeable nor has access to the internet or time to even research the ingredients, the child can be at a life-threatening risk.

What is a Food Allergy?

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.[4][5]

What is a Food Intolerance?

Food intolerances, unlike food allergies, do not involve the immune system; instead it is a food reaction in the digestive system.

What foods can cause an allergy?

There are many foods that could cause an allergic reaction, but only 8 of them account for over 90% of all food allergies.1,2 These foods are dairy, soy, eggs, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, etc.).

Can a person die from a food allergy?

According to the Center for Disease Control each year hundreds die from food allergies (about 150 deaths annually).  Also, over 30,000 people receive life-saving treatment in emergency rooms due to food induced anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction).4

Is there a cure for food allergies?

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.

How can I tell if my child or I have a food allergy?

You cannot look at someone to determine if he or she has a food allergy.  Besides a person breaking out in immediate hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, etc., the first thing to do is to see your health care provider for consultation.  He/she may require that you do a food allergy panel test either via saliva, finger prick or some other form of testing.

So, what’s my story?  I was diagnosed with food intolerances to casein (protein found in milk), eggs, soy, yeast, whey, and sesame at the age of thirty-two.  Once I found out about my intolerances, I learned that many of these foods also 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 and medication free!


[1] “Healthy Youth! Food Allergies.”  CDC. June 11, 2008 <http://www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/foodallergies&gt;.

[2] “Food Allergy Information.”  Food Allergy Initiative.  June 11, 2008 <http://www.foodallergyinitiative.org/section_home.cfm?section_id=3&gt;.

[3] “African American boys at risk for food allergies.”  KOOH.com.  October 7, 2010 < http://www.koaa.com/news/african-american-boys-at-risk-for-food-allergies?.

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

[5] “Allergies: Problem Foods: Is It an Allergy or Intolerance?”  WebMD.  June 10, 2008 <http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/foods-allergy-intolerance&gt;.

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Rhonda’s Cooking Supports the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Posted by rhondascooking on October 5, 2011

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and to demonstrate its commitment to the fight against breast cancer, Rhonda’s Cooking, LLC, will be donating 20% of its sales of the cookbook So, What Can I Eat Now?!  to the  National Breast Cancer Foundation.  The charitable promotion will end October 31st, 2011.

In addition, I will participate in “Faith For The Cure” hosted by Faith Christian Center.  The fundraising event will be held at Castles-N-Coasters Amusement Park from 12noon to 6pm on October 8, 2011. A portion of the book sales from this event will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

If you would like to help me for this awesome cause, please purchase a book on my website or anywhere my books are sold.   The current price of the book is $14.99.

National Breast Cancer Awareness

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It’s time to make a change…African Americans continue to rank high with heart disease

Posted by rhondascooking on August 11, 2011

Since I can remember, heart attacks, strokes, stints, triple by-pass surgeries, etc. are all words that I’ve heard countless times as a child in my small town in Louisiana.  Almost everyone I knew had some sort of surgery related to their heart.  Over the years, it seemed as if the number of people I knew with heart disease continued to grow along with poor eating habits.  In fact, there was a person who was close to me who had two open heart surgeries and a heart transplant, but still refused to change his eating—he laughed at me and said, “I can’t eat ‘rabbit food’ like you.”  A year later, he died.  This really impacted me greatly and it gave me even more ammunition to finish writing my cookbook to help people learn to cook and eat healthy meals that are low in sodium, sugar and fat.

Being that I’m from Louisiana, I know how hard it is to transition to a healthier lifestyle.  It’s almost a sin!  Sweet, salty, and fried…is like the basic foundation of all of our family recipes; it’s what makes people smile whenever they say they are going to Louisiana to eat “good food”.  Well, enough is enough!  Good Food is not good if it will kill you! As African Americans, we must stop this nonsense mentality that I have one life to live so I’m going to eat what I want.  Well, enough, your life is not just about you.  Everyone has a purpose in life and in order to fulfill that purpose, you must be alive. If you continue to eat foods that are fatal to your health, then your purpose will never be fulfilled, which has more of an impact for generations to follow.

Five facts why African Americans MUST make a lifestyle change[1]!

FACT 1

Cardiovascular Disease (also known as CVD or sometimes called heart disease) is America’s number one killer!  In fact, more than 2,200 people die per day with this disease.  To break this down further, this is 1 death every 39 seconds!!!  This is more than cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, and accidents combined.

FACT 2 

Major cause of death for Blacks (non-Hispanics), is cardiovascular disease with men at 44.8% and men at 47.3%

FACT 3

In 2007 the overall death rate for cardiovascular disease was 251.2 with black men at 405.9 and black women at 286.1.  Both of these rates are higher than other races (i.e. 294 for white men and 205.7 for white women).

FACT 4 

More than 150,000 Americans younger than age 65 died of CVD and almost 33% of all Americans with CVD died before age 75, which is younger than the estimated life expectancy. Of these numbers, CVD caused the death of 47,387 black men and 50,015 black females—that’s almost 50% of the total American death population due to CVD!

FACT 5 

Majority heart disease diagnosis is associated directly with diet.  In fact, overweight/obesity and physical inactivity were each estimated to be responsible for nearly 1 in 10 deaths.

I hope that these five facts that I have presented to you are enough for you to consider changing your life towards a healthier lifestyle.  One that includes choosing healthier food choices including low salt, low sugar and no fried foods!  Are you up for the challenge?  If you need help or motivation, please post a comment and we can encourage each other!


[1] Veronique Roger, et al.  “Heart Disease and Stroke Disease—2011 Update:  A Report from the American Heart Association,” Circulation 2011, 123: e18 – e209: originally published online December 2010.

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Weight gain and hair loss due to thyroid disorder

Posted by rhondascooking on July 20, 2011

I was one of the 8 million people who suffered with many problems, and didn’t know what was going on. What was this problem that allowed me and others to walk around not noticing any differences in our health thus remaining undiagnosed–the culprit was Thyroid Disease! There are more than 20 million people suffer from a thyroid disorder, and of that number more than 10 million women have low-grade thyroid imbalance. So, how did I find out I had a problem? A family friend saw me during holiday break and told my mom that I needed to have my thyroid checked because my eyes looked bigger than normal. Though I was really offended at the time, her guess was correct! I had hyperthyroidism for months and never knew it!

What is thyroid?
The thyroid is a gland that sits in the neck and is shaped like a butterfly.

Is the thyroid gland important?
The main function of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormone, which regulate the functioning of the body including regulating mood, emotions, and many other brain functions. In fact, this gland controls the body’s metabolism; specifically it controls the amount of energy the body burns.

What happens if there is a problem with my thyroid gland?

If the thyroid gland is not performing correctly, there are two most common problems, which are as follows:
1. Hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)–this occurs when there is not enough thyroid hormones thus causing the thyroid to become underactive; according to many studies this affects about 10 percent of the population and is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid.

2. Hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease)–this occurs when there is an excess of thyroid hormones thus causing the thyroid to be overactive.

What are some of the obvious signs of a thyroid problem?
Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have different signs or symptoms. The following are a few signs to make note of:

Hypothyroidism: weight gain, tiredness, increased sleepiness, hair loss including loss of eyebrows, joint pain, constipation, forgetfulness, decreased ability to pay attention and focus, cold intolerant, depression, dry skin, etc.

Hyperthyroidism: weight loss, Fatigue, shakiness, increased bowel movement, restlessness, warm intolerant, rapid heartbeat, anemia, increased sweating, irregular menstrual periods, decreased fertility

Is thyroid disease hereditary?
Thyroid disease is an autoimmune disorder, and there is a high percentage that it could be hereditary, but it is not always the case. There could be other factors that trigger this disease and it differs for everyone.

Is there a way to find out if my thyroid gland is okay?
If you are uncertain about whether your thyroid is not properly functioning, please make an appointment with your general physician and ask to have your thyroid levels checked. This is not traditional tested in the yearly physical exams, it is only ordered if necessary or upon patient request. If your thyroid levels indicate that you are hypo or hyperthyroid active, then please make an appointment with an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in the endocrine system which includes the thyroid gland, or a naturopathic doctor who specializes in thyroid disorders.

I am writing this post not to scare you, but instead to give you information with the intent of you being proactive about your health. If you have more questions, please post a comment!  You can also send me comments via Twitter and Facebook.

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My Miracle Drink: Increases metabolism and reduces colds and joint inflammation naturally!

Posted by rhondascooking on July 4, 2011

I’m always looking for natural foods that can help heal my body so that it can stay healthy without all of the artificial ingredients.  After spending several years researching foods that could help reduce inflammation, I knew that there were certain herbs and spices that were powerhouses, and could help heal and sometimes cure anything because of its natural properties.  Some of these powerhouse foods included garlic, ginger root, lemon, and cayenne pepper.   One day after catching a cold, I decided to mix up a natural concoction merging these powerhouse ingredients.  Here’s my recipe that I call “Rhonda’s Miracle Drink”:

Rhonda’s Miracle Drink:

1 cup warm (medium hot) water

½ medium lemon, juiced

1/8 teaspoon – ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon grated ginger

1 teaspoon Grade B maple syrup or local raw honey (optional)*

Why is the drink awesome?

Lemons:  Excellent antioxidant and source of Vitamin C that boosts the immune system and prevents free radicals from damaging healthy cells that could cause inflammation.

Cayenne pepper:  Excellent source of Vitamin A and C and other important ingredients.  This powerhouse has many natural functions such as aiding in digestion, reducing muscle pain and joint inflammation, clearing mucus, increasing metabolism of dietary fats, and much more!

Ginger root:  Great for reducing joint inflammation and aiding with stomach problems including irritable bowel syndrome, digestion, and gas.  Also, ginger has been known to help treat colds, flu and sinus issues.

Maple syrup:  Natural sweetener that provides lots of vitamins and minerals that varies according to the location and soil where the tree is grown.  Some vitamins include potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, iron, and Vitamin A, B1, B6, and C, etc.

When can you drink this?

You can drink this anytime, but especially if you want to do an internal body cleanse or if you’ve developed a cold or flu.  Drink once every three hours until the cold or flu has ended.  This is especially great for those with sore throats because as the liquid travels down the esophagus, you will start to feel the pepper tingling in the throat—it’s very soothing and with this drink there’s no need for cough drops!  You can also drink first thing in the morning or in between meals after eating a high fat or high sugar meal.  It could help to break down the meat and assist with stabilizing blood sugar levels.

How often should you drink this?

I recommend that people drink at least one glass daily.  Because of the wonderful healthy, natural properties, you would definitely benefit.

Do you have a special natural drink that you use to help with a specific health issue?
Lemons

Posted in Arthritis, Diet, Food, Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Still not sure about gluten free

Posted by rhondascooking on July 4, 2011

Are you still trying to decide if you should consider a gluten free lifestyle?  Here are answers to the 4 most asked questions that I get from people when they are considering a gluten free diet.

Gluten free pasta

What is gluten?
Gluten is made of two protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley and is an important component in baking. Simply put it is the glue-like or sticky texture in baked goods and it is responsible for causing the baked goods to rise.

What does gluten do to the body?
Gluten doesn’t impact everyone. However, gluten does impact people diagnosed with Celiac (pronounced as See-lee-ak) Disease (CD), an autoimmune condition that damages the small intestines whenever a person eats anything with gluten. In fact, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, when people with this disease eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Visit the Celiac Disease Foundation website to find out more about the symptoms of CD.

Should you consider a gluten-free diet?
Yes, you should definitely eat gluten-free if you have Celiac Disease! Also, you should consider a gluten-free diet if you have challenges with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Autism, or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

What foods are gluten-free?
Some examples of gluten-free foods are as follows: brown rice, corn, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, tapioca, brown rice flour, cornmeal, sorghum, beans, soy (use caution), poultry, beef, fish, mushrooms, vegetables, etc. There are a lot of foods that are gluten free, but the key thing to remember is that sometimes foods have hidden gluten ingredients, so make sure that you verify before you purchase. Read the labels or ask questions.

I have been eating gluten-free since 2005, and I have seen major improvements in my arthritis and I have not looked back! Do you need to consider transitioning to a gluten-free diet?  If you have more questions, please post a comment!

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Submit cookbook feedback for a chance to win!

Posted by rhondascooking on May 15, 2011

If you’ve purchased my cookbook, “So, What Can I Eat Now?! “, I would love to hear your feedback.  Submit your feedback on Amazon.com and your name will be entered in a drawing to win a $25 American Express gift card.

So What cookbook

So, What Can I Eat Now?!

Contest ends July 1, 2011, at 11:59pm.

Contest Rules:  Submit your feedback on Amazon.com.  After submitting feedback,  email info@rhondascooking.com and indicate the name that you used when you submitted the feedback.  For example if you used “healthylady” as your name when you provided the feedback, then you will need to provide that name in the email message.  I will then add you to the list that will be used in the drawing for the $25 gift card.  The contest will end on at 11:59pm on July 1, 2011.   (other restrictions may apply.)

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Beyonce supports Let’s Move Initiative

Posted by rhondascooking on May 4, 2011

If you haven’t seen Beyonce’s exercise video called “Move Your Body”, you must check it out. Though I did not attempt to try it, I was impressed that she released a routine in support of the Let’s Move Initiative.  On May 3, 2011, Beyonce and The National Association of Broadcasters coordinated a Let’s Move Flash Mob based on Beyonece’s “Move Your Body” video.  This event had about 600 schools participating nationwide in an effort to encourage the kids to exercise and have fun.  “Move Your Body” is an exercise/dance routine created to encourage kids to exercise.

Even though this is a good video, it is still just Step 1; kids still need to also learn to eat healthier and make better food selections–that’s Step 2!

Just in case you haven’t seen the video, check it out:

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