Later On

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Archive for July 1st, 2009

American Dietetic Assn endorses vegetarian diets

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It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes. A vegetarian diet is defined as one that does not include meat (including fowl) or seafood, or products containing those foods. This article reviews the current data related to key nutrients for vegetarians including protein, n-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and vitamins D and B-12. A vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients. In some cases, supplements or fortified foods can provide useful amounts of important nutrients. An evidence-based review showed that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes. The results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals. The variability of dietary practices among vegetarians makes individual assessment of dietary adequacy essential. In addition to assessing dietary adequacy, food and nutrition professionals can also play key roles in educating vegetarians about sources of specific nutrients, food purchase and preparation, and dietary modifications to meet their needs.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

The firefighters in New Haven

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The NY Times editorial:

On Monday, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to diversity in the American workplace.

The court ruled, 5-to-4, that New Haven acted illegally when it threw out a promotion test on which minority firefighters had done poorly. In doing so, it put a new, narrower definition on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is intended to root out discriminatory policies.

The case is already being used as ammunition against Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, who sided with New Haven at the appeals court level. If the Monday ruling says anything about Judge Sotomayor, however, it underscores the reasonableness of her views.

Many black and Hispanic firefighters took New Haven’s promotion exam, but few passed. This sort of racial disparity often makes an exam illegal. Concerned that it would be sued by minority firefighters, New Haven threw out the test. A group of white firefighters sued, alleging that their civil rights had been violated.

A three-judge panel of the New York-based Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which included Judge Sotomayor, ruled in favor of New Haven. The full Second Circuit declined to reconsider that decision.

The Supreme Court reversed the panel’s ruling. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, said throwing out the promotion exam was a race-based decision that hurt the white firefighters. It was permissible under Title VII, he wrote, only if the city could demonstrate a “strong basis in evidence” that if it had kept the test it would have been liable in a lawsuit by minority firefighters. New Haven failed to show that, he said.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the dissenters, provided the larger context. There is a long history of discrimination in the firefighting ranks. Although New Haven is nearly 60 percent black and Hispanic, few minorities are in command positions. She noted that New Haven’s test was flawed, and that other cities used better tests, with less racially skewed results.

Justice Ginsburg argued convincingly that when New Haven threw out the test it did not discriminate. The motivation of the civil service board that made the decision was to avoid discriminating against minority applicants and being sued by them under Title VII.

Cases like this, even the dissenters concede, pose difficult questions of fairness. New Haven’s decision to reject a test on which one group did poorly hurt other firefighters, who studied hard and were not to blame for the test’s flaws. But in the end, as Justice Ginsburg noted, New Haven was within its rights not to use a flawed, possibly illegal, test to make its promotions.

Judge Sotomayor’s critics wasted no time in calling the ruling a rebuke to her and arguing that it provided reason to oppose her confirmation to the Supreme Court. It does nothing of the sort.

Even the majority noted that its opinion “clarifies how Title VII applies” — hardly an indication that the Second Circuit ignored well-established law. Four of the nine justices — including David Souter, whose seat Judge Sotomayor would take — agreed with the result she reached. The ruling suggests that if Judge Sotomayor joined the court, in cases like this she would be likely to vote with the more liberal bloc — no great surprise.

On another point, the ruling underscored the emptiness of the “judicial activist” label that Republicans like to use in debates over nominees to the federal courts, including Judge Sotomayor. In the firefighters’ case, she actually refused to second-guess the city’s decision — an act of judicial restraint. It was the court’s conservatives, including Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted to overturn the decision of an elected government.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 2:43 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

The complete story on dry-rubbed ribs

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Via a post at Kafeneio, this post on Smitten Kitchen telling all about how to cook ribs. Very informative. Check it out.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Cold Noodles With Sesame Sauce, Chicken and Cucumbers

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Mark Bittman provides this tasty-sounding recipe:

Cold Noodles With Sesame Sauce, Chicken and Cucumbers

Yield 4 servings
Time About 30 minutes

To make the noodles into a one-dish meal, you need some protein. Use leftover chicken, pork, beef or seafood, or poach some chicken in the water you use to cook the noodles. You can also use fresh tofu. You will also want crunch: cucumbers are my favorite, but bean sprouts are another possibility.

  • Salt
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded cooked chicken or about 8 ounces boneless chicken breast
  • 1 pound cucumber
  • 12 ounces long pasta like linguine, or fresh Chinese egg noodles
  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup sesame paste (tahini) or peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger, optional
  • 1 tablespoon rice or wine vinegar
  • Hot sesame oil or Tabasco sauce to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more
  • At least 1/2 cup minced scallions for garnish

1. Set a large pot of water to boil and salt it. If your chicken is uncooked, poach it in water as it comes to a boil; it will cook in about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel cucumbers, cut them in half, and, using a spoon, scoop out seeds. Cut cucumber into shreds and set aside.

2. When water comes to a boil, cook pasta until tender but not mushy. (If chicken is not done, you can still add pasta; remove chicken when it is done.) While pasta is cooking, whisk together sesame oil and paste, sugar, soy, ginger, vinegar, hot oil and pepper in a large bowl. Thin sauce with hot water, so that it is about the consistency of heavy cream; you will need 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Stir in cucumber. When pasta is done, drain it and run pasta (and chicken, if necessary) under cold water. Drain. Shred chicken (the easiest way to do this is with your fingers).

3. Toss noodles and chicken with sauce and cucumbers. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary (the dish may need salt), then garnish and serve.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Creamy feta vinaigrette

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From The Bitten Word, which got it from Food & Wine:

Creamy Feta Vinaigrette

    Total time: 5 min
    Servings: Makes 3/4 cup

3 ounces feta cheese, preferably French, crumbled (3/4 cup)
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, pulse the crumbled feta with the red wine vinegar, water, oregano and olive oil until the vinaigrette is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Great with grilled vegetables or shrimp, cucumber salad, spinach salad, tomato salad, potato salad.

My own preference is for sheep-milk feta.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Good guidance on grain salads

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Good post at Culinate giving some general advice on making grain salads.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 12:05 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

More on the contaminated cookie dough

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Marion Nestle at Food Politics:

The story thus far:

From January to June 2009, at least 69 people from 29 states have gotten sick with E. coli O157:H7.  Many of them confessed to eating Nestlé’s raw cookie dough.

On June 19, the FDA warned the public not to eat Nestlé’s raw cookie dough.  Nestlé issued a “voluntary’ recall.

Everyone is baffled about how E. coli O157:H7 could have gotten into cookie dough.  They wonder if cookie dough really is the cause.

The voluntary recall isn’t working (most don’t).  Obama Foodorama has no trouble finding plenty of recalled cookie dough on Washington DC shelves.

The Wall Street Journal reports that since 2006, Nestlé has consistently refused to allow FDA investigators to look at their safety records.  The company doesn’t have to.  All those pesky regulatory requirements are voluntary (that word again).

But now, in a spirit of someone more enforced cooperation, Nestlé lets the FDA in.  Bingo.  On June 29, the FDA says it finds E. coli O157:H7 in one batch of cookie dough.    But conversations with FDA officials leave many questions unanswered.

Nestlé is understandably concerned.   The company says it “deeply regrets” what happened and is fully cooperating with the FDA.

OK.  So if we didn’t know it before, we know it now: “voluntary” is a euphemism for not having to do anything.  Doesn’t this suggest the need for some real regulations?

Written by LeisureGuy

1 July 2009 at 12:03 pm

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