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Pick a Pocket Full of Pawpaws: Sure to be the Hottest New “it” Fruit

pawpaws

Now is the time for “pickin’ up pawpaws and puttin’ ‘em in your pockets” as the children’s chant goes. The best pawpaws are the fully ripe fruits that have fallen to the ground between mid-August and mid-October, perfect for stuffing your pockets or your face!

Pawpaws are the largest edible fruit native to the U.S. and are an indigenous plant to 26 states east of Nebraska, reaching from Florida to New York. The fruit was an important food for Native Americans and early settlers. Pawpaws graced George Washington’s table in colonial days. And even animals aren’t missing out on this delicious treat — squirrels, raccoons, possums, and bears happily feast on aromatic pawpaw flesh.

Pawpaws are large fruits, similar to mangoes or papayas, ranging in color from yellow to green with skin often flecked. When over-ripe, the skin will turn brown like a banana. They have big black seeds that are easy-to-remove, a custard-like texture, and a flavor that is related to bananas, mangoes and melons. They are known commonly as a poor man’s banana.

“It has a sweet, yet rather cloying taste….a wee bit puckery” is the way their taste was described by a botanist of yore.   
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Bye Bye Bloomberg! What NYC Gained Before it Lost its Biggest Health Advocate

With the new year, New York City bid farewell to Mayor Mike Bloomberg after a twelve-year term. Love him or hate him, his achievements in public health were stunning. While others only talked, he managed to act on smoking, obesity, and hypertension—and he placed the burden of fixing them on the industries that profited at the cost of the public’s health.

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The Mayor showed that public health is a priority for local government, not just for the federal government to create health policies from on high. Bloomberg used New York City as a laboratory for public health innovation, spotlighting issues and testing solutions on a relatively small scale.

Here’s a reminder of Mayor Bloomberg’s most significant public health campaigns:


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Detox Diets and Fasts Do Not Work and May Increase Toxins in the Body

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To detox or not to detox? That is the question I had for Gerard Mullin, MD of Johns Hopkins University as he spoke about nutritional detoxification at the 2013 Food & Nutrition Conferences and Expo a few weeks ago.

Dr. Mullin said that toxins are everywhere – in the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the things we touch.

Bisphenol A (BPA), a carcinogen, is in plastics, dental sealants, canned food linings, and cash register receipts.

Phthalates, other carcinogens, are found in fatty milk, butter and meats, along with personal care products, detergents, children’s toys, printing inks, and more.

Heavy metals, like arsenic, mercury and lead, are in food, batteries, paints, plastics, and fertilizers.

For the most part, toxins are “endocrine disruptors” that change the way our hormones regulate bodily functions. In animal studies, endocrine disruptors are linked to cancers, birth defects, diabetes, and other diseases. What is worse is that, when they work together, the sum of their actions is greater than the whole, and they are stored practically forever in body fat. Whether or not an individual develops a problem depends on genetics, level of exposure, and the quality of nutrients in the diet.
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Take Grain Brain’s Villainization of Carbs with a Grain of Salt

Grain Brain is the catchy title of a new self-help diet book on the New York Times Advice and How-to Best Sellers lists. The author, neurologist David Perlmutter, makes the case for a slow death to brain cells caused by wheat, “carbs,” and sugar. Those foods, he says, are behind most of the common but incurable neurologic diseases including Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, anxiety, depression, and others. To prevent and treat those conditions, he recommends a diet of fish, seeds, nuts, and olive oil, sans the “carbs” from grains, milk, fruit, and sugary sweets. Grain Brain is in the same vein as Wheat Belly and other best-selling Paleo-type diet books.

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David Perlmutter and his co-author, writer Kristin Loberg, followed the diet book formula: reel in the lay audience with indisputable scientific facts and then lead them to ungrounded conclusions because they all sound good. With technical expertise, Dr. Perlmutter explains the workings of the brain and central nervous system. He is up on the hot nutrition topics and buzzwords of the day: inflammation, free radicals, bacteria in the gut, and metabolic fuels.

Sure, we agree that neurological diseases are scary and seem to be everywhere, but are gluten and carbohydrates the cause? Not so fast. David Perlmutter is often called “cutting edge,” which means research verification is needed.  
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35 Kid-Friendly Snacks that Meet the New Smart Snacks in Schools Guidelines

Students are going back to a healthier school environment this year, as schools continue to advance Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Last year, USDA added more fruit, vegetables and whole grains to the school lunch program. This year, those healthy advancements extend to school vending machines and school stores. Expect to see more of the foods we should encourage – whole grains, low fat dairy, fruits, vegetables and leaner protein – and less of the foods we should avoid – sugary, salty and fatty items. Read the guidelines in Smart Snacks in School, the USDA’s guide to the new nutrition standards.

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Download this Printer Friendly Version for your home or classroom.

We took those guidelines one step further by translating them into brand name foods to help busy parents and even teachers know what to look for at the store. Our list contains ­only foods that meet the new standards. There are no cookies or soda (too much sugar), nor meat jerky (too much salt), and several snack bars didn’t make the cut because they exceed the 200-calorie limit. While our list doesn’t include every acceptable packaged food on the market – and let’s make it clear, we love snacks made at home from healthy, fresh ingredients – we hope our list will help school administrators, teachers and parents to identify better-for-you commercial snacks that are more apt to promote our kids’ healthy lifestyles.
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