Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Food of the Week . . . Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Did you know that countries where people use olive oil regularly, especially in place of other fats, have much lower rates of heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma? These countries enjoy a Mediterranean-style diet, which studies continue to uncover as being among the healthiest in the world. For example, one study, which followed participants for over six years, discovered that those most closely following a Mediterranean 'olive oil and salad' dietary pattern had a 50% reduced risk of overall mortality! Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that the naturally high concentration of phenolic compounds with their antioxidant properties found in extra-virgin olive oil, (that is properly cold pressed and stored in opaque containers), may be one of the key reasons for the lower incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease in the Mediterranean region. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil have also been found to be used by the body to produce substances which are relatively anti-inflammatory. By reducing inflammation, these fats can help reduce the severity of arthritis symptoms, and may be able to prevent or reduce the severity of asthma. And not least of all, let's not forget it's great flavor!

 Olive oil is made from the crushing and then subsequent pressing of olives. The fact that olives are rich in oil is reflected in the botanical name of the olive tree-Olea europea- since the word "oleum" means oil in Latin. Extra virgin olive oil is derived from the first pressing of the olives and has the most delicate flavor and most antioxidant benefits.

Health Benefits

Pure, extra virgin olive oil is not only a light and delicate addition to many wonderful dishes, it is one of the most health-promoting types of oils available. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that researchers are discovering has excellent health benefits

Practical Tips:

Instead of serving butter, fill a small condiment dish with extra virgin olive oil for use on bread, rolls, potatoes or other vegetables.

For even more flavor, try adding a few drops of balsamic vinegar or a sprinkling of your favorite spices to the olive oil.

To get the most health benefit and flavor from your olive oil, buy and store oil in opaque containers, and add olive oil to foods immediately after cooking.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Use extra virgin olive oil in your salad dressings.

Purée roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and extra virgin olive oil together to make exceptionally delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Season to taste.
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over healthy sautéed vegetables before serving.
Purée extra virgin olive oil, garlic and your favorite beans together in a food processor. Season to taste and serve as a dip.

Instead of putting the butter dish out on the table, place a small cup of extra virgin olive oil out instead to use on your bread or rolls. For extra flavor, try adding a little Balsamic vinegar or any of your favorite spices to the extra virgin olive oil.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Popeye for President!!

Forget being your favorite sailor, he was right on the money when it comes to nutrition!
We all know that Popeye made himself super strong by eating spinach, but you may be surprised to learn that he may also have been protecting himself against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other diseases at the same time.

Food of the week?  SPINACH!

Did you know that spinach is not only a rich source of vitamins and minerals, but researchers have identified carotenoids and at least 13 different flavonoid phytonutrients in spinach that act as powerful antioxidants? Antioxidants combat the free radicals that cause oxidative damage to our cells, including their DNA. When the researchers at the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University tested various fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant capabilities, spinach ranked second only to kale among the vegetables tested. The various flavonoids in spinach have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, and anti-carcinogenic properties, while its carotenoids, such as zeaxanthin and lutein, help fight prostate cancer and protect against eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Since carotenoids are fat-soluble, they are not well absorbed unless consumed with a little fat — one more good reason to add extra flavor and nutrition to spinach by dressing it with antioxidant and phenol-rich extra virgin olive oil. When looking at spinach's impressive nutritional profile, remember that it also contains many other health-promoting phytonutrients for which daily recommended intakes have not yet been provided, so they are not included in the chart.

This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Spinach provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Spinach can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Spinach, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.


Spinach is thought to have originated in ancient Persia (Iran). Spinach made its way to China in the 7th century when the king of Nepal sent it as a gift to this country. Spinach has a much more recent history in Europe than many other vegetables. It was only brought to that continent in the 11th century, when the Moors introduced it into Spain. In fact, for a while, spinach was known as "the Spanish vegetable" in England.
Spinach was the favorite vegetable of Catherine de Medici, a historical figure in the 16th century. When she left her home of Florence, Italy, to marry the king of France, she brought along her own cooks, who could prepare spinach the ways that she especially liked. Since this time, dishes prepared on a bed of spinach are referred to as "a la Florentine."
Spinach grows well in temperate climates. Today, the United States and the Netherlands are among the largest commercial producers of spinach.


Choose spinach that has vibrant deep green leaves and stems with no signs of yellowing. The leaves should look fresh and tender, and not be wilted or bruised. Avoid those that have a slimy coating as this is an indication of decay.
Store fresh spinach loosely packed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep fresh for about five days. Do not wash it before storing as the moisture will cause it to spoil. Avoid storing cooked spinach as it will not keep very well.

Tips for Preparing Spinach:

Spinach, whether bunched or prepackaged, should be washed very well since the leaves and stems tend to collect sand and soil. Before washing, trim off the roots and separate the leaves. Place the spinach in a large bowl of tepid water and swish the leaves around with your hands as this will allow any dirt to become dislodged. Remove the leaves from the water, empty the bowl, refill with clean water and repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water (usually two to three times will do the trick). Cut away any overly thick stems to ensure for more even cooking. If you are going to use the spinach in a salad, you can dry it in either a salad spinner or by shaking it in a colander. If you are going to cook it, you do not need to worry about drying it well as the remaining water will serve to help it cook. Spinach is one of the few vegetables we suggest quick boiling (for one minute). That's because boiling will help to reduce the amount of oxalic acids found in spinach, resulting in a sweeter taste.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Add layers of steamed spinach to your next lasagna recipe.

Toss steamed spinach with pressed garlic, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.

Pine nuts are a great addition to cooked spinach.

Spinach salads are a classic easy and delicious meal or side dish.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Ballad Of The Harp-Weaver

by, Edna St. Vincent Millay.

It is a poem about the love a mother has for her child.
It is sweet and sad and it is one of my all-time favorites.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I.

I dedicate this to all mothers everywhere.

"Son," said my mother,

When I was knee-high,

"you've need of clothes to cover you,

and not a rag have I.

"There's nothing in the house

To make a boy breeches,

Nor shears to cut a cloth with,

Nor thread to take stitches.

"There's nothing in the house

But a loaf-end of rye,

And a harp with a woman's head

Nobody will buy,"

And she began to cry.

That was in the early fall.

When came the late fall,

"Son," she said, "the sight of you

Makes your mother's blood crawl,—

"Little skinny shoulder-blades

Sticking through your clothes!

And where you'll get a jacket from

God above knows.

"It's lucky for me, lad,

Your daddy's in the ground,

And can't see the way I let

His son go around!"

And she made a queer sound.

That was in the late fall.

When the winter came,

I'd not a pair of breeches

Nor a shirt to my name.

I couldn't go to school,

Or out of doors to play.

And all the other little boys

Passed our way.

"Son," said my mother,

"Come, climb into my lap,

And I'll chafe your little bones

While you take a nap."

And, oh, but we were silly

For half and hour or more,

Me with my long legs,

Dragging on the floor,


To a mother-goose rhyme!

Oh, but we were happy

For half an hour's time!

But there was I, a great boy,

And what would folks say

To hear my mother singing me

To sleep all day,

In such a daft way?

Men say the winter

Was bad that year;

Fuel was scarce,

And food was dear.

A wind with a wolf's head

Howled about our door,

And we burned up the chairs

And sat upon the floor.

All that was left us

Was a chair we couldn't break,

And the harp with a woman's head

Nobody would take,

For song or pity's sake.

The night before Christmas

I cried with cold,

I cried myself to sleep

Like a two-year old.

And in the deep night

I felt my mother rise,

And stare down upon me

With love in her eyes.

I saw my mother sitting

On the one good chair,

A light falling on her

From I couldn't tell where.

Looking nineteen,

And not a day older,

And the harp with a woman's head

Leaned against her shoulder.

Her thin fingers, moving

In the thin, tall strings,

Were weav-weav-weaving

Wonderful things.

Many bright threads,

From where I couldn't see,

Were running through the harp-strings


And gold threads whistling

Through my mother's hand.

I saw the web grow,

And the pattern expand.

She wove a child's jacket,

And when it was done

She laid it on the floor

And wove another one.

She wove a red cloak

So regal to see,

"She's made it for a king's son,"

I said, "and not for me."

But I knew it was for me.

She wove a pair of breeches

Quicker than that!

She wove a pair of boots

And a little cocked hat.

She wove a pair of mittens,

Shw wove a little blouse,

She wove all night

In the still, cold house.

She sang as she worked,

And the harp-strings spoke;

Her voice never faltered,

And the thread never broke,

And when I awoke,—

There sat my mother

With the harp against her shoulder,

Looking nineteeen,

And not a day older,

A smile about her lips,

And a light about her head,

And her hands in the harp-strings

Frozen dead.

And piled beside her

And toppling to the skies,

Were the clothes of a king's son,

Just my size.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jeanie Hill Has a Pretty Mouth.

Well, she does.
And what is wrong for saying this?

I am ashamed of myself right now at this moment. 1st > I am procrastinating from creating web content which my brother, Ross, is waiting for (and quite patiently, too).
Instead I am skipping around Facebook, ya know, seeing what's up. S'uuup?

And I see Jeanie's post and it kinda just hit me. Her mouth is pretty.
But there is more to her than that, Jeanie has a pretty soul. She is petite and bubbly. I can honestly say I have never seen her get angry even when she was at her limit. I wanted to compliment her, so I did.

Everyone should go out of their way to compliment a different person every day. And not an "obvious" compliment. I am talking about a compliment that the person is not aware of or maybe has not heard in a while. When was the last time someone told you that they like your mouth? Weird, right? Oh well, I also like to tell people when their butts look good in a pair of pants. I always tell the person to put a star on that pant's hanger. Makes 'em smile. I like making people smile. It is like a drug to me.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Speech! Speech!

Good evening,
Please allow me to extend a warm Thank you to family, friends and faculty who have come here tonight to celebrate the Graduating Class of 2010.

It has been quite a journey that has spanned almost ¾’s of a year. A year of juggling family’s schedules, kid’s soccer games, finances, missed dinners, long days at work or school followed by longer nights at work or school. And everyone that is here that has felt the brunt of this journey, again I say ‘Thank You.”

When I found out I was named Salutatorian, I was honored. And when I was told I was required to make a speech, well…
I thought to myself, now that’s not going to be easy. I mean you all know I am certainly not one to stand at the center of attention and speak my mind… Ahem, But since I must….

Dr. Drew explained to me that a Salutatorian’s speech is meant to Welcome Everyone to the new life for which they have spent these long months preparing. It is my honor to do so right now. Feel free to give yourselves a round of applause. And let me say, Welcome Therapists! Welcome to the first day of the rest of your new life!

Tonight I would like to speak out on what I feel is the most valuable element that will become the foundation for success within this new life, and that element is PERSEVERANCE.

The great Madame Curie once said,

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”

So, our “Thing” is massage therapy.

But I don’t like the word “Thing”, I prefer the term “Super Power.”

For example, think of John Smith sitting at his computer suffering from headaches and sharp pains in his shoulders. He makes an appointment to go to the doctor where he is shuffled about before obtaining his prescription. Then he must fill out the prescription (hopefully not at Wal-Mart or this speech may never end), at last he takes the prescribed pain pill, and once again, he must wait…. wait for the pain to go away. Whereas you or I can place our hands where the pain begins, and faster than a flexoril the pain subsides.

And what about Sally Brown, the typical single mother struggling to make ends meet, feeling frustrated and weary. Within the hour, we can ease that stress with smooth therapeutic strokes until she begins to feel lighter, less burdened, and centered. I think that is an amazing power, a power that each and every one of us now possess, a power that requires knowledge and skill, and luckily for us, we were able to learn and hone our skills at one of the top schools in Texas… Parker. Let’s hear it for Parker!

So, we have a Super Power. Now what?

Now we must use this power. We must persevere in our quest for clients, job opportunities and furthering our education in a specific field. Do not procrastinate. Do not let this power sit dusty upon a shelf only to be taken down between shifts of other jobs. We have been struggling for 8 long months. What are a few months more? Do not fall back on the easier means. We are no longer a cog in the corporate wheel. No more cubicles and fluorescent lighting for us. No more long shifts filled with “What can I get ya?” and 10% tips.
So tonight I ask that you take this excited energy and enthusiasm and channel it as the fuel to your own perseverance. Network, stay in touch with each other, pass along opportunities that for you may not work, but for a fellow classmate could be the job of a lifetime. Create a social circle and stay current within it.

I learned perseverance from my Grandfather. He started as a shoe salesman at JC Penney. He retired as a Vice President; I wish he could be here. But I know he would agree with me when I say:
Submerge yourself within this new life and it will blossom before you.

I will leave you with a final quote from our former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, that reads,

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. “

Thank you everyone,

and goodnight.