Friday, July 4, 2008

Food Facts in the News

" When one has tasted watermelon he knows what the angels eat."
Mark Twain

Gone are the days when personal hygiene and, ahem, dysfunction were discussed only in the privacy of the doctor's office. You know that cold, sterile environment with nothing to look at while you sit on a paper-lined steel table waiting for an exam of parts "down there" that can't even be named out loud.

No, today, just about everything that was once private and personal is fair game for pharmaceutical marketers. Erectile dysfunction, vaginitis, the spread of genital herpes, constipation and pooting in public are all freely discussed by celebrities and ordinary people. I don't know about you, but I prefer not hearing about certain symptoms that the ads promise to alleviate. Any discussion of odor and itching is way more information than I need. Nor do I care to hear about all the possible side effects. In fact I find it hard to believe that the list of scary possible concerns could possibly help the sale of the advertised medications. About the only thing not listed as a complication of using Viagra or Cialis is that the once flaccid member that is in dire need of help might actually fall off. This could be the reason the advertisers strongly suggest that hopeful Viagra users talk to their physician before taking the drug. Well, duh!

And my point is? Well, yesterday the lead story for every news program was that scientists have discovered a Viagra-like effect produced by watermelon. Indeed this is interesting information, and I'm guessing that the sale of watermelon, even at today's inflated prices, will skyrocket this weekend. Celebrating patriots will gorge themselves on hot dogs and beer, then leer suggestively at their mate as they eat an extra slice of juicy melon and spit seeds through their teeth.

Science Daily reported that the director of Texas A&M's Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center [is there really a center for fruit and vegetable improvement or did someone make this up?) said, "Watermelon may not be as organ-specific as Viagra. But it's a great way to relax blood vessels without any drug side-effects." Unfortunately most of the "photo-nutrients that deliver these healthy effects - lycopene, beta carotene and citrulline" are found in the melon's rind and I'm thinking that a hefty intake of watermelon rind will produce an intestinal pain that will overshadow even an erection that might last for hours. Now that I've offered my own brand of advertising that I just railed against, I feel it is also important to remind you that the photo-nutrients are found in trace amounts. To get enough of the effect you're hoping for you may also, unwittingly, ingest enough sugar to send you into a diabetic coma. I suggest you check with your doctor before trying this summertime dessert/aphrodisiac.

Watermelons that produce sexual stimulus is intriguing but what about this little gem of information I found in a pamphlet from a local hospital?* According to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, "substances found in dark chocolate, called phenols, may play a role in improved blood pressure." Participants in this study were asked to eat 6.3 grams of either dark or white chocolate a day. Those in the dark chocolate group had reduced blood pressure results. And here's the best news - no one in the study gained weight.

I don't mean to sound skeptical but the first question I have to ask is just exactly how much is 6.3 grams? And how did the scientists who devised this study come up with the number 6.3? Why not 5.7 or 7.0 grams?

I'd also like to know how many Hershey miniatures equal 6.3 grams? This could be a medical breakthrough for every member of my household who not only have high blood pressure but also tend to stick their hand into the candy jar on a regular basis. Do you think the fact that my pressure has been going up rather than down, would indicate that I need a little more chocolate in my diet?

Good eats and good health!
Merry ME
* St. Vincent's Healthcare heartmatters, Summer 2008


July 4: Chocolate Crinkles

½ cup vegetable oil
4 sq. unsweetened chocolate (4 oz.) melted
3 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oil, chocolate and granulated sugar. Blend in one egg at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; stir into oil mixture. Chill several hours or overnight.

Drop teaspoons of dough into confectioners’ sugar. Roll in sugar; shape into balls. Place about 2” apart on greased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes. DO NOT overbake!

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

Notes:
I use the same pan that I melt the chocolate squares in to do all the mixing.
You may have to clean your hands several times during the ball making stage. It’s pretty messy.

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