Monthly Archives: January 2008

cholesterol drugs over the counter?

I came across an article on another wordpress blog that I thought was interesting.  Link   Looks like Merck, who is a very large drug company, is trying to get it’s cholesterol lowering drug available over the counter.   Lovastatin was the first statin approved by the FDA in 1987 and because it was approved so long ago it is now available in generic.  So having it sold over the counter would give Merck the ability to make a lot of money off of this product again.   I don’t really have an opinion on that one way or another but I did find something interesting when doing a quick search to compare Merck’s product with Lipitor.   Comparison Chart

This study compared a bunch (the merck one is lovastatin listed in the chart as Mevacor, Altocor and Altoprev) and found that it didn’t rank very high compared to some of the newer statin drugs.    I’m not sure we will get to a point where cholesterol drugs will be sold over the counter, but I’ll continue to monitor this and give an update if there is one.

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recipe corner – chipolte salad dressing

For Christmas my wife got a Magic Bullet.   For those of you that haven’t seen the infomercial it is basically a blender that looks like…well a bullet.   I have to say that I was sceptical of this little gizmo but since starting to play with it a few weeks ago it is my new favorite kitchen appliance.   This weekend we had friends over and I made the whole menu out of the Magic Bullet.    Hummus, Bean Dip, Salad Dressing, Spaghetti Sauce, Garlic Spread for Bread and Chocolate Mousse…oh and Margaritas!       I’m going to share the salad dressing that really came out great.   I adapted it out of a Mexican cookbook that I have.  It has a little kick so if you are sensitive to that you may want to experiment with the chipoltes.

Into the bullet went:

1/4 of a red onion

3 tbls balsamic

1 teaspoon oregano

1-2 chipoltes (canned with a little of the sauce)

juice of half a lime

1/4 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

Bullet until dressing like.     Add olive or vegetable oil until you get to the consistency you want (stirring as you go) and shake to combine.  Obviously a blender or food processor will work just fine, but you can’t say “abracadabra” as it blends.   Well, you can say that but you’ll just sound stupid.

plant sterols (part two)

A few posts ago I compared a few products that include plant sterols to see which one was the better buy.  Link   During that post I mentioned how people looking for plant sterols now have some options on how they want to include it.   How?  If you look at the back of the Minute Maid orange juice discussed in that post you will see a little logo for something called Corowise which, turns out, is the secret to this super duper juice.

Corowise is a product made by Cargill Health Food Technologies and is a concentrated form of plant sterols which they can put into either a pill form or into other food.    Going to the Corowise website it appears that you’ll soon be able to get your twice daily plant sterols in everything from cheese to granola bars and this is a good thing for consumers.   The reason?    Competition.   When I only really had the option of taking Active shots I might have been willing to pay the premium price. But, when I also see I can get it in orange juice, maybe I become less likely to pay so much.   Now, thanks to Corowise branching out I can get it in store brand Kroger milk, Nature Valley granola bars, Orowheat bread, dark chocolate muffins, Rice milk, cheese and of course vitamins.

The key when looking at these products is to read how much is included in each serving to make sure you are taking enough of it to make a difference.   But, you can easily mix and match throughout the day or week so you don’t get stuck drinking 8oz glasses of OJ everyday for the rest of your life.   I’m going to try and include as many of these as I can over the next month and we’ll see if it makes a difference in my cholesterol.

in defense of food

I was at Costco today and stumbled across a book by Michael Pollan called “In Defense of Food : Eat Food, Not to Much, Mostly Plants.”   The title struck me funny so I picked it up and flipped through it really quick.    The part I happened to flip to made me laugh out loud so I thought I would share.   

Pollan was writing about the overabundance of food additives and he used bread as an example.  I didn’t buy the book or write anything down, but basically he had an ingredient comparison of Sara Lee Soft and Smooth 100% Whole Wheat Bread to a Wheat Bread your Grandmother would make.   My Grandmother knew dinner was done when the smoke alarm went off; so I’m going to pretend by finding a normal Wheat Bread recipe available at Cooks.com. 

The fictitious Grandmothers ingredients are:

yeast, water, honey, olive oil, eggs, whole wheat flour and salt.

And now our friend Sara Lee’s version care of Safeway.com

Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Wheat Gluten, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Yeast. Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Calcium Sulfate, Brown Sugar, Vegetable Oil (Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oils), Salt, Butter (Cream, Salt), Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of the Following: Mono and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Mono and Diglycerides, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Enzymes), Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate), Corn Starch, Guar Gum, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Distilled Vinegar, Natural Flavor, Beta-Carotene (Color), Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour.
I guess Grandma was out of Ammonium Sulfate and Soy Lecithin when she made her version.  Also I had to chuckle when spell check kicked back seven of the words in the list as not exisiting.   My favorite though is the ingredient “Natural Flavor” if it is natural why do I need to add it?   I’m not picking on poor Sara, I’m sure most bread you find in the store has a similar list.   It does, however, make me pause and wonder if some of the health issues facing the population today are advanced due to this long list of ingredients for a fairly simple product.   I just might try and make bread this weekend.

fried chicken sandwich

I am a sucker for Kentucky Fried Chicken but I know that it isn’t a health food. Recently I wondered which fast fried chicken option was the least harmful so I compared the numbers on chicken sandwiches at KFC, Popeye’s and Chick-fil-A.

First KFC’s Crispy Twister which came in at 550 calories (250 of it from fat) with 6 grams of Sat Fat

Next was Chick-fil-A Classic Sandwich with 410 calories (150 from fat) with 3.5 grams of Sat Fat

And finally Popeye’s Tame Chicken Deluxe Sandwich with a petite 728 calories (351 from fat) with 9 grams of Sat Fat.

chickfilacow.jpgI actually thought the three sandwiches would come in pretty close to each other so I was shocked to find how much more the Popeye’s version was. So much so that I looked at a couple of different sources to make sure these numbers were right. It just goes to show that doing a little research up front can save a lot of calories and fat grams on the back side. Armed with my new info I hit up the local Chick-fil-A to try the classic sandwich and see if I liked it as much as KFC’s. Sorry Colonel, I liked it better. The wheat bun seemed fresher and the patty itself seemed to have a lot more juice than the KFC version.

Now I know that the grilled versions most of these restaurants offer are much better choices, and honestly I do pick those most of the time. But when I’m in the mood for a little fried chicken goodness on a bun looks like I’m heading to Chick-fil-A.

recipe corner – artichoke pasta salad

This is a tasty salad that is great for lunch and hearty enough for dinner.

For the salad:

1 can artichoke hearts in water chopped

6 sun-dried tomatoes sliced

1 sliced English cucumber

1 box pasta spirals

1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives

freshly grated Parmesan cheese

cook pasta, cool and add all ingredients except the cheese.

Dressing:

1 cup low sodium V-8

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 minced garlic cloves

1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves

salt and pepper

Put the above in a food processor, blender or magic bullet and spin until dressing like. Add salt, pepper, and oil if needed to get to the right consistency. Pour over pasta and add cheese. The great thing about this is you can add whatever you want to this. Broccoli, Pine Nuts and Mushrooms are great additions.

oatmeal

A read a really good article today on one of the other wordpress blogs about oatmeals positive impact on cholesterol.     The link is here.    I’m not a big fan of oatmeal but it looks like I need to start being one.  I recently bought the Quaker Oats Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies and have started eating those.    But…something tells me the cookies aren’t quite as healthy as the regular stuff.