All Posts for November 2009

December 2009: Is the Year Over Already?

Monday, November 30th, 2009

barebranchesIMG_0247Yesterday (Sunday) the sun was bright and the air was warm, so I sat on our patio and took this picture of the tree opposite our patio. It is lovely even when bare!

December is often a time of stress because of the pressure of the holidays. Now, not only is there Black Friday, but we also have Cyber Monday. Since I celebrate Hannukah, the stress is less, since we only give small gifts of Hannukah gelt (money) and don’t have huge holiday dinners, just some potato latkes (pancakes) with applesauce.

Jay, my son-by-marriage, brought the nicest gift for his sister when he came for Thanksgiving.  He took all his mother’s and grandmother’s favorite recipes, as well as some of his own, and put them in an album that he created online. It was a gift of love and time and we all swooned over this wonderful piece of memory. Jay made his mom’s noodle pudding recipe for Thanksgiving dinner, and Penny, his sister, made her grandmother’s famous chocolate cake recipe. So we got to eat some of the gift.

While I don’t have those two recipes, I do have another one that Penny made, which I call Simply Squash. Because it is so easy, I hesitate to call it a recipe. But I want to share it because it was so easy and so delicious, I can’t not share it. It will appear later this week.


Penny’s Simply Squash

Although the end of December is holiday time, there are two other dates that need mentioning. One is December 1st, World AIDS Day. My volunteer work at MANNA  keeps me in touch with HIV/AIDS, since many of their clients have HIV or AIDS and receive free meals because they are homebound and/or can’t cook for themselves. Because the immune system is heavily compromised, I decided to review a cookbook for December called The Immune Support Cookbook by Mary Hale & Chris Miller. The subtitle is called “Easy, Delicious Recipes to Support Your Health if You’re HIV positive or suffer from CFIDS (chronic fatigue), Cancer or Other Degenertive Diseases.”


Additionally, here is information about World AIDS Day that I lifted from Since tomorrow is Dec. 1st, I am including it on my Home Page. This year’s campaign links it with Human Rights Day on Dec. 10th.

Started on 1st December 1988, World AIDS Day is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. The World AIDS Day theme for 2009 is ‘Universal Access and Human Rights’. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done.

According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.4 million people living with HIV, including 2.1 million children. During 2008 some 2.7 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 2 million people died from AIDS. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35.

The vast majority of people with HIV & AIDS live in lower- and middle-income countries. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world.


Last month I lobbied at Robert Casey, Jr.’s office concerning three human rights issues. This  was part of an Amnesty International effort to discuss three major issues, one of which I hope to post here. I usually write letters as part of the Urgent Action Network, but this experience was very interesting. To learn more in the meantime, go to More on that in about one week, closer to December 10th, Human Right Day. But no need to wait to start to write your own letters.



Finally, I hope to profile a local artist who does memory quilts and makes many other interesting items from fabric. The name of her company is Ei of the Needle. Her first name is Eileen, so the name is apt!  Here is Eileen choosing fabric from our mutually favorite fabric store, The Cloth & Bobbin. She makes beautiful gifts from beautiful fabrics. Great for gift giving. If you can’t wait until I profile Eileen, you can reach her at


Eileen of Ei of the Needle is on the left, and Johanna, owner of Cloth & Bobbin, is on the right.

I know I will have more posting during the month, but after 10 days of non-stop company at our apartment, before, during, & after Thanksgiving dinner, I can’t think past what I wrote tonight. I will end with a photo I took this morning, November 30th,but will call it December Dawn, because that’s close enough!


Diabetes Digest

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Today I would like to feature bits and pieces of information on diabetes with the caveat that I am not a doctor and these comments are not to be taken as a  diagnosis or recommendations. Rather, I hope they will stimulate you to do your own research on the areas of interest to you. Since this is National Diabetes Month, this may be a good time to get a blood sugar checkup if diabetes runs in your family, as it does in mine.

My mother died at age 66 of a massive heart attack, brought on by the combination of her obesity and diabetes, now called diabesity. This newly coined word aptly illustrates the close association between weight and diabetes, since 97% of all cases of Type 2 diabetes are caused by excessive weight. This is a concrete example of the wider cluster of symptoms of a metabolic disorder known as insulin resistance Metabolic Syndrome X. (Source:

The website was sent to me by my friend Coll and has excellent information on Insulin Resistance Syndrome. What I learned on this website is that white, granulated sugar and other sweeteners, including honey and maple syrup, are only the tip of the iceberg. Here is what Dr. Randall Bradley says on this website: “And the cause is sugar, not just white sugar or other refined sweeteners, but also refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and desserts made from white flour and sugar.”


Photo of white bread before baking. Choose whole grains instead!

So the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is not conducive to staying healthy, because so many of our foods are made with refined carbs and the desserts are mostly white flour and white sugar. Eating more whole, unrefined, and lightly processed foods without being stripped of nutrients seems to be the key for preventing all kinds of health problems, not just diabetes.

In an article by David Seaman,a chiropractor (magazine unknown), I read about  pain andinflammation and its causes. Here is the quote from that article:

“The foods that cause inflammation and lead to pain include refined sugar, refined grains, and related flour products (bread, pasta, bagels, etc.), refined oils, and obese meats.”

DownloadedFileI grew up with bagels, so when I have a craving for one, I look for pumpernickel, rye, or whole grain bagels.  White is usually too pasty for me.

This next tidbit is from O Magazine (August 2007) and I found hard to believe, so I am printing it with surprise.

“Something in coffee seems to help insulin do its job: Women who drank three to four cups of coffee a day and a 29% lower risk of diabetes, according to a study from Finland.”

There has been a great deal of controversy about the pros and cons of coffee in the last few years, so you need to make up your own mind after doing the research, but I thought this was interesting enough to print.


The three or four cups suggested in the study seems excessive, so check with your doctor if this information interests you.


High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) seems to be in every processed (sweetened) food. According to Wise Traditions, the newsletter of the Weston Price Foundation, HFCS accounts for more than half the refined sweeteners used in the U.S. food supply.  It is sweeter and less expensive than regular white sugar and represent a major change in the American diet over the past 40 years.

The articles explains how HFC is free, unbound fructose, which is not the same as the fructose in fruit. Fruit fructose is bound with other sugar and is part of a complex that includes such things as fiber, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Thus, HFCS is a refined sweetener and, as such, is converted into triglycerides and body fat.

A chronic, high triglyceride level, in turn, translates to increased insulin resistance, inflammation, and heart disease, according to this article. The article also notes that some people are more sensitive to fructose than others, which may also affect how much damage results from ingesting HFCS regularly.

Again, if this is a concern, do some research on your own and then consult with your doctor and/or a nutritionist. (I hope to do a special report on HFCS soon.)


Mexican soft drinks, HFCS-free


Finally, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. has many pages on diabetes. The summary is succinct and includes diet, supplements, botanical medicines, and exercise.  Here is just an excerpt from the summary:

“All simple, processed, and concentrated carbohydrates must be avoided. Complex carbohydrate, high fiber foods should be stressed, and fats should be kept to a minimum. Legumes, onions, and garlic are particularly useful.” (p. 429)

These two definitions from are very clear:

  • Simple carbohydrates are digested quickly. Many simple carbohydrates contain refined sugars and few essential vitamins and minerals. Examples include fruits, fruit juice, milk, yoghurt, honey, molasses and sugar.
  • Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest and are usually packed with fibre, vitamins and minerals. Examples are vegetables, breads, cereals, legumes and pasta.


Legumes include, but are not limited to: Adzuki Beans, Black Beans, Black-eyed peas, Cannellini Beans, Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans), Edamame (Green Soybeans), Kidney Beans, Lentils, Lima Bean, Navy Beans, Pinto Beans Split Peas. (Beans are an important part of my diet as a source of protein, good fats, and fiber. ES)

The information on diabetes is almost overwhelming, but I think one thing is clear: a healthful diet is an important part of prevention and treatment, so if diabetes is in your family and you are concerned about your blood sugar levels, be sure to ask your doctor for the proper tests and treatment and a nutritionist for dietary tips.  In the next posting I will review The Diabetes Revolution Workbook by Janet Sanders, a local resident of Philadelphia. Watch for it!