Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Never Use Plastic In The Microwave

Could using plastics in the microwave be dangerous to your health? The answer is “yes,” according to important news from John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. There have been many stories circulating about the safety of microwaves, heating, plastics and food. Some have focused on dioxin, a known carcinogen. Dioxin occurs in our environment, primarily from the incineration of waste materials, according to Dr. Rolf Halden, at John Hopkins Bloomberg School. People are exposed to dioxin mostly from eating meat and fish rich in fat. But it may not be the sole offender. There are other concerns we should consider, according to Halden. There’s a group of chemicals called “phthalates” that have been added to some plastics to make them flexible and less brittle. If you heat these plastics, it can increase the leaching of phthalates from the containers into your food. Many scientific studies have shown that when you heat up an object, the chemicals are more likely to release into the environment. This is the same with plastics...and possibly the plastic packaging in some microwave meals. Another chemical, diethylhexyl adipate (DEHA), is also used to make plastics more flexible. DEHA exposure can occur when eating certain foods wrapped in plastics. “It’s true that substances used to make plastics can leach into food,” says Edward Machuga, Ph.D., a consumer safety officer in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “But the levels are low.” What should you do? People should use heat resistant glass, Corning Ware or ceramic containers for heating food in the microwave. Don’t use foam or plastic carryout containers from restaurants or margarine tubs in the microwave, according to the FDA. And never use plastic storage bags, grocery bags, newspapers or aluminum foil in the microwave.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Is Organic Good?

If a product is advertised as “natural” and “organic,” it’s good for you, right? That’s not necessarily the case. While the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has taken some enforcement actions against companies, food labels still need improving. Don’t be fooled: Here’s what to look for to select the healthiest products for your family. • “Zero trans fat.” That may be true but it could mean the product is high in saturated fat. Be sure to read the Nutrition Facts label for the full story. • “Low calorie” or “Reduced fat.” Compared to what? Chances are the company has a previous, higher calorie version of the product. • “Made with real fruit.” That may be in the form of a concentrate and the primary ingredient may be sugar. You’re better off eating an apple. • “Natural.” This word isn’t regulated. To be sure a product is natural, buy from a local farmer or buy food that is certified organic by the USDA. • Ingredient label tricks. Since ingredients are listed in order of their proportion in the product, the first three are what you’re primarily eating. A manufacturer may use various sugars (sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose etc.) in the product so the word “sugar” isn’t listed first. • Combining healthy ingredients. The actual amount of the healthy ingredients may put them at the end of the list. By combining them into a “blend” or “mix” they can make it to the top. • “Yeast extract.” It’s a labeling trick to hide monosodium glutamate (MSG), which can cause side effects for people sensitive to this additive. • Using the word “wheat.” All flour derived from wheat can be called “wheat flour,” even if it’s processed. The key is to look for “whole grain wheat flour” on the ingredient list to make sure you’re eating whole wheat.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Magic Of Cinnamon

Did you know that cinnamon offers more than just a great scent and taste? It has important health benefits too. A USDA scientist, Dr. Richard Anderson, recently found that cinnamon imitates the effect of insulin in the body. A study of Type-2 diabetics found that people who were given between 1-6 grams of cinnamon per day reduced their blood sugar by up to 29% depending on the amount of cinnamon they were given. In two other scientific studies, one that was published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, rats were given cinnamon extract to see if it would improve how they metabolized glucose. These findings may help scientists understand the role of cinnamon on the body, and open the door to much needed research. Taken a step further, cinnamon may also help people reduce their chance of developing diabetes and improve the body’s ability to balance blood sugars.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What You Should Know About Child Identity Theft

Guess who are the next victims of identity theft – children! It’s hard to believe but criminals are searching for dormant social security numbers (SSN) online and selling them to people (strangers or even their family members) who use them to establish phony credit. Victims may not know it’s happened until they are older and apply for financial aid or try to open a line of credit. While you can’t prevent identity theft, you can take steps to limit the opportunities for it to happen. Here’s what you can do and look for:  Safeguard your child’s SSN and only give it out on a “need to know” basis. School sports teams and doctors’ offices do not have to have the number. Be cautious about disclosing place and date of birth details, particularly online (cybercriminals can find SSNs based on that information). Teach your kids not to give out personal information, especially on social networks (have them use nick names or code names when filling out online profiles).  Watch for red flags like these: • You receive checks, pre-approved credit card offers or bank statements in your child’s name. Note: the pre-approved credit card offer may just be a marketing tool sent by an affiliate of your bank because you opened a college fund for your child. • You get calls from collection agencies. • Your teen is denied a driver’s license because another person has a license with that SSN. The imposter may even have accumulated tickets or citations in the child’s name  If you suspect anything, call Social Security and ask if any income has been reported with your child’s number. You can see if there’s a credit report for your child, but don’t do so unless you have a strong indication of theft (ordering a report unnecessarily opens the door to thieves). For more information, see sites such as www.idtheftcenter.org.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Super Thrifty Tips...

Here are a few handy cooking tips: • Rescue an over-baked cake by drizzling with a sugar syrup spiked with a little Grand Marnier, Kahlua, Tia Maria or brandy. • Cut a roll of clear plastic wrap in half to use for individually wrapping brownies, cookies and other small items. You’ll end up with two narrow rolls of the perfect size wrap. • If you accidentally over-salt a dish while it’s still cooking, drop in a peeled potato, it will absorb the excess salt.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

7 Easy Ways to Discover Your Family History

Would you like to know more about your ancestry, but don’t know where to start? Now you can learn about your family’s history and discover interesting facts in a matter of minutes – all from the internet. Here are seven easy tips you can follow to help research your ancestry on the web: 1. What Does Your Name Mean? A fun way to begin to search your ancestry is to find out what your surname means. You can go to a number of sites on the web including www.Ancestry.com/learn and www.Geneology.com. 2. Where Do Most People With Your Surname Originate? You can continue your search to find out where most people with your last name came from. You can also learn immigration information, headlines from that period, war records, and the current population distribution. 3. When Did They Arrive At Ellis Island (if you live in the U.S.)? Go to www.EllisIsland.org to search passenger arrival records, which are fascinating to view. 4. What Type Of Work Did Your Ancestors Do? You can find the occupations of your ancestors, which can tell you about their socioeconomic class and dominant family trades. 5. Access a Variety of Interesting Family Information and Trivia. You can access obituary data, prison records (for that “black sheep” of the family), bible records transcriptions and more at www.AncestorHunt.com. 6. How to Access Military Records? You can search military records including Civil War records, WWI, draft records, and other records using the above links on the web. 7. Connect And Share With Your Family. You can begin to build your family tree using computer software, or you can create your own family tree using many free resources available on the websites mentioned here. Searching family records is fun, interesting and rewarding. Hop on the internet today, and discover amazing facts about your family.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Top 10 Jobs For Working From Home

Here They Are— Have you ever wanted a job where you didn’t have to drive to work? No traffic. No commuting. Flexible hours. And no sharing office space with people you might not care to see everyday. Now more and more people are opting for working at home. With technological advances and computers, home offices make working at home more affordable for employers, and much more convenient for workers. How do you know if working at home is for you? Two traits can help to make someone more successful at working outside the office. First, successful at home workers or telecommuters are self-starters who don’t need “hands-on” help from managers. Secondly, they need to be an organized person with good time management skills. So if you’re interested in what career opportunities lend themselves to working at home, here’s a list of the Top 10 Jobs for working from home: 1) Computer Programmer / IT Specialist; 2)Accountant / Financial Advisor; 3) Graphic Designer; 4)Web Site Designer / Web Developer; 5) Communications Specialist; 6)Medical Transcriptionist; 7) Real Estate Agent; 8) Sales Representative; 9) Market Researcher; and 10) Translation Specialist. For more information on working from home or telecommuting, go to smarterwork.com, projectfirm.com, brainbid.com.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Secrets Of Female Millionaires

Did you know there are more women millionaires today than at any time in history? It’s true. Thomas Stanley, author of The Millionaire Woman Next Door, has come up with some interesting facts. The average female millionaire is 49 years old, married, a mother, spends 3-4 hours a week at the gym, and works a 50-hour week. Stanley found three themes that stood out. Female millionaires were responsible for budgeting and financial planning in their households and had a detailed method of tracking expenses. Second, female millionaires focused selling their skills rather than merchandise. Service businesses enabled the women to do what they liked, and work a reasonable schedule. Third, female millionaires viewed themselves as leaders. Four out of five women millionaires focused their attention on the future...and not what had happened in the past. The millionaire women were proactive, and believed it was their responsibility to move situations forward.