Rediscover the Joy of Eating: How a Diet is Helping Thousands Heal

Guest blog by Jenny Lass

What would you do if the comfort food you grew up loving suddenly made you sick? This is what the 70 million Americans with digestive disorders experience, and many don't find the relief they need through traditional medical interventions. The treatment options for gastrointestinal patients usually involve expensive medications with daunting side effects, such as bone thinning, rashes, night sweats and facial swelling. 

Although drug treatment for intestinal conditions is sometimes warranted, what happens when the drugs don't work or the side effects seem worse than the disease? Steroids, a common treatment for many digestive disorders, become less effective each time they're used, so patients are left with little recourse if their symptoms return. Fortunately, there are other options, such as the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), which has been a welcome option for thousands of people around the world seeking long-term help.

The SCD was developed over 50 years ago by prominent New York pediatrician Dr. Sydney Haas and made famous by Canadian nutrition scientist Elaine Gottschall. It eliminates complex carbohydrates and disaccharides so food is easier to digest - that means no grains, starches or refined sugars. The SCD was actually one of the earliest treatments for celiac disease, which is defined as an autoimmune disorder that leads to intestinal damage when patients eat gluten. 

The SCD got somewhat lost in the gluten-free hype, but many celiacs turn to it if the gluten-free diet doesn't work for them. In fact, the gluten-free diet can take up to six months to kick in, whereas many SCDers find relief within the first week. A 2004 physician-run survey found that approximately 80% of people who try the SCD are helped by it, including those with ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Even the autistic community has latched on to the SCD, which is sometimes more effective than the gluten-free casein-free diet.

However, the SCD is not meant to replace drugs or doctors - it's integrative. It can help reduce medication dosages, help medications work better, eliminate medications sooner or even help patients avoid medications altogether. SCDers are encouraged to seek supervision by physicians or dietitians, but they are often left to fend for themselves when the health care professionals the consult aren't aware of the diet. A lack of funding for this non-drug-based treatment has also limited the amount of research that can be done to fully understand the benefits of the SCD. The Elaine and Herbert Gottschall Foundation is finally starting to accumulate funds to support the promotion and further study of this diet.

Another challenge facing the SCD is its elimination of some of the foods we're used to eating - a prospect that might seem unappetizing at first. But a quick review of the SCD's innovative techniques and recipes shows that it is full of your old favorites, made differently. There's the art of eating virtually lactose-free dairy products. Old-aged cheeses, such as parmesan, brick, gouda, havarti, Swiss and cheddar, are naturally lactose-free due to their long fermentation time. The same principle applies to homemade lactose-free yogurt - 24-hour fermentation allows the bacterial culture to break down the lactose, leaving easy-to-digest yogurt that can be used for cheesecake, cream cheese, ice cream and breads. Being able to eat dairy is not only satisfying to the palate, but also essential for fighting low bone density, a condition that often accompanies digestive diseases.

One of the other keys to the SCD's success is its creativity in the absence of all grains. Spaghetti squash, zucchini, egg, Enoki mushrooms and squid replace crepes and noodles, and cholesterol-lowering, vitamin-packed almond flour produces authentic-tasting baked goods that are healthy and easy to make. The SCD provides the simplest gluten-free baking method on the market and uses easy-to-find ingredients. Aside from almond flour, which can be found in the bulk section of many grocery stores, bulk food stores, health food stores or online, your SCD baked-good shopping list might be as minimal as honey, butter, baking soda, spices and fruit. 

Although some may balk at the idea of eliminating a long-standing staple such as grains, it's important to note that there's nothing magic in pasta and cereal - you can find the nutrients in grains in many other foods. Squash is packed with vitamins A, B, C and folate, and almond flour is high in fiber. Eggs are one of the few foods containing naturally occurring vitamin D and red meat is one of best sources of dietary iron. 

The SCD's reliance on almond flour also takes full advantage of the "good fat" in nuts. Research shows that the fat in almonds actually helps instead of hinders weight loss because it satisfies hunger and tends to prevent unhealthy or excessive snacking. And we tend to forget that fat is an important part of a healthy diet. For example, we need fat to metabolize fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D and E, and fat helps with temperature regulation, hormone production, and the development of the brain and nervous system.

All controversy aside, the SCD warrants further investigation. Medical journals are slowly accumulating case studies that document how this diet that got lost in the shuffle is helping people with digestive diseases who have run out of options or are searching for complementary solutions. 

Know Why You Gained Weight It May Stop You from Regaining It

Guest blog by Judith J. Wurtman, PhD
Author of The Serotonin Power Diet: Eat Carbs--Nature's Own Appetite Suppressant--to Stop Emotional Overeating and Halt Antidepressant-Associated Weight Gain

Sharon, my new weight-loss client, laughed when I asked her whether she had been on any other diets. "How much time do you have? My mother probably put me on a my first diet when I was around eleven. since I am now fifty, that means forty years of dieting."

I nodded. The story was a familiar one. The only clients who had never been on a diet were people who had gained weight from medication such as antidepressants. All the rest had bounced from one weight-loss program to another, often following whatever was fashionable. Some had even had bariatric surgery to reduce drastically the amount of food they could swallow. Yet they had managed to gain weight by constantly eating small amounts of extremely caloric foods. 

Sharon talked about her inability to control her eating when she switched from liquid low-calorie beverages or calorie-controlled prepackaged meals to her own food. She related how much she overate when she went off of diets without carbohydrates or three-day fasts or a week of residential spa food. She was now considering surgery but she wasn't heavy enough to qualify. 

She told me that she thought her weight gain was due to her love of food but when I pointed out that many thin people love food also, she grew quiet. Eventually she said that she suspected she ate out of emotional needs. "My needs keep changing but my response is always the same. When I eat, my problems disappear -- for the moment."

Dieters like Sharon are likely to regain their weight unless they have insight into the causes of their overeating and are helped to develop strategies to control it. Unfortunately, diet programs tend to focus on how to get the dieter to his or her weight-loss goal rather than giving the dieter tools to prevent the weight from reappearing again. Even Oprah Winfrey, who certainly receives more support in her weight-loss efforts than the average dieter, has lost and regained weight continually during her television career. 

The most effective way of preventing weight gain after a diet is to tackle the problems that caused it. Although each of us has our own overeating triggers, usually they can be grouped in a few categories:

1. Logistics or too much to do and too little time to do it. Sometimes the problems caused by impossible schedules seem insurmountable and affect everything from the ability to shop for food to getting too little sleep. Often the dieter's life has to be brought under control before the eating can be controlled. With either family or professional help (like a life coach), this usually can be accomplished. One client who used to overeat when she came home from work and found the beds unmade and dirty breakfast dishes in the sink solved her problems by making her kids get up earlier and doing chores before school. 

2. Work schedules, business travel and meals, toxic supervisors and fear of unemployment. Some work situations place almost unlimited obstacles in front of the dieter, especially when personal relationships are involved. And these days, the option of leaving a virulent workplace is difficult. Recognizing how work stress is affecting eating is an important first step. The dieter should seek out help, either from the weight-loss counselor or someone trained to deal with worksite problems, to develop strategies to deal with the problems. However, sometimes a job change is really necessary, as in the case of a client who worked as a pastry chef. 

3. Family and social problems may influence everything from menu planning to emotional well being. Neither the dieter nor the diet counselor can hope to solve chronic problems that may have led to years of overeating. Recognizing them and seeking help (whether from a dating service, divorce lawyer or therapist) will increase your chance of not gaining weight after the diet is over. If the problems are particularly difficult to handle, it may even be wise for the dieter to consider putting weight-loss efforts on hold to concentrate on resolving the issues that caused the weight gain. Temporarily stopping the diet may also be necessary when financial, medical or family crises arise. Seeing how your eating changes when a crisis arises is helpful in preventing overeating after the diet is over and another crisis occurs. 

4. Sabotage by not-well meaning friends, family, co-workers and casual acquaintances. Especially those who have not managed to lose weight may regard a successful dieter as a weight-gaining time bomb. Often subtle and not so subtle methods will be used to make the dieter overeat, such as asking the dieter if she has been very sick recently or mentioning that a particularly caloric dish won't hurt her. Self-sabotage is also common, especially if the successful dieter is now complimented on his or her appearance. Many clients have told me that they both enjoy and resent the attention they receive when they have lost a lot of weight. A college student made herself gain about 75 pounds after losing that amount because guys who had ignored her the year before when she was fat asked her out on dates.

Losing weight is not as hard as keeping it off. Still, as someone who was called "butter-ball" in second grade, I know it can be done.

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Got Milk?

Guest blog by Dr. Jana Klauer
Author of How the Rich Get Thin: Park Avenue's Top Diet Doctor Reveals the Secrets to Losing Weight and Feeling Great

Fat-free is clearly preferred. Why waste calories on putting 2 percent milk in your coffee? Soy milk is not an ideal choice, either, because it is not a complete protein, as milk is, has extra calories, and does not give you as much calcium. 

Keep milk cold at the back of the refrigerator, at 35º-40ºF, not on a door shelf. Each 5ºF rise in temperature shortens milk's shelf life because of bacterial growth. 

The sad fact is that teens are drinking half as much milk as they did thirty years ago. Milk has been replaced with newfangled drinks including designer bottled waters, exotic juices, iced teas, and soy beverages. But the saddest fact of all is the replacement of milk with carbonated sweetened beverages. When milk is replaced with carbonated beverages, the result is a loss from the diet of protein, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A and D. There is an almost linear relationship between the rise in consumption of carbonated drinks and obesity in teens. Teenagers need to build bone mass that will last for a lifetime. Because of this, we have to look for new and creative ways to get the calcium we need every day. Space your intake of calcium during the day and also take a calcium supplement as an insurance policy. 

Which Calcium Supplement Is Best? 

Supplemental calcium comes in two forms: calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Calcium carbonate must be taken with meals. This is also the type of calcium found in TUMS. By consuming this indigestion remedy, you are giving your bone density a boost. Calcium citrate may be taken any time -- with or without food. I recommend that my patients take at bedtime a supplement of calcium citrate containing vitamin D. 

Even if you receive your calcium requirement from food, I recommend adding a calcium supplement just to insure adequate intake. If you have trouble swallowing calcium tablets, as many people do, try another form of calcium. TUMS and calcium chews are popular, and easy for most people to consume. They contain calcium carbonate and must be taken with food for the calcium to be digested. Calcium citrate can be taken with or without food. Make sure that your calcium supplement also contains vitamin D, for optimal absorption. 

You need to be aware of the amount of elemental calcium any supplement contains. The term "elemental calcium" refers to the amount of calcium in a supplement that is available for your body to absorb. Most calcium supplements list on the label the amount of elemental calcium. Some brands list only the total weight -- in milligrams (mg) -- of each tablet. This is the weight of the calcium, plus whatever may be bound to it -- such as carbonate, citrate, lactate, or gluconate. For calcium, the % Daily Value (DV) is based on 1,000 mg of elemental calcium, so every 10 percent in the Daily Value column represents 100 mg of elemental calcium (0.10 x 1,000 mg = 100 mg). For example, if a calcium supplement has 60 percent Daily Value, it contains 600 mg of elemental calcium (0.60 x 1,000 mg = 600 mg). It is also important to note the serving size -- the number of tablets you must take to get the % DV listed on the label. 

When choosing a calcium supplement, check the label for the abbreviation USP. The best supplements meet the voluntary standards of the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) for quality, purity, and tablet disintegration or dissolution. Generic brands of calcium supplements are often cheaper than name brands. However, they may not meet voluntary standards for tablet disintegration. In other words, they may dissolve more slowly, which decreases their effectiveness. Avoid calcium supplements that contain bone meal or dolomite, as these may also contain toxic substances, such as lead, mercury, and arsenic. Check the label for "no added sugar." Chelated calcium tablets tend to be more expensive and really do not have any advantage over other types of calcium. Coral calcium is also marketed as superior calcium, which has not been proven. 

Many of my patients love Viactiv Calcium Soft Chews -- chewy little squares that taste like Kraft caramels and come in several dessertlike flavors. Although they are very sweet, two squares contain 100 percent of the Daily Value of calcium and include vitamins D and K. Each VIACTIV Calcium Soft Chew contains 500 mg of elemental calcium from 1,250 mg of calcium carbonate. 

Calcium and Blood Pressure

Glimmerings of this important relationship began in 1982, when Dr. David A. McCarron noted that a diet low in dairy products increased a person's chance of developing high blood pressure. A study of the entire population of the United States confirmed his hypothesis and revealed that the people who ate the least amount of dairy products had the highest blood pressures. In fact, the normal diet of the majority of United States doesn't meet the minimal requirement for adequate calcium. This led to a 1997 clinical trial, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or the DASH trial, which showed that blood pressure could be lowered by a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. While fruits and vegetables lowered the blood pressure somewhat, it was the addition of dairy products that made the difference. The importance of maintaining an optimal blood pressure cannot be overstated. High blood pressure stresses the heart, strains the arteries, and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. How remarkable that we can lower the risk for these terrible consequences simply by adding dairy products to our diets! I am constantly surprised that my patients who have high blood pressure have not been told anything about this relationship by their primary care physicians. 

If you have high blood pressure, you should have a minimum of one dairy product at each meal. This can be easily accomplished by adding a glass of skim milk, 2 ounces of low-fat cheese, or a 6-ounce container of low-fat yogurt at each meal. This can be as vital as your taking your medication. 

Marcia is a forty-seven-year-old divorced mother of two teenage sons who works as a museum curator. She was referred to me by her primary care doctor for weight reduction. When I first met Marcia, she was five foot three and weighed 160 pounds. Her cholesterol and blood pressure were elevated and she took medication for both of these conditions. On the positive side, she had a commitment to exercise and swam three times per week for the last twenty-five years. However, Marcia's diet was sadly deficient in the foods that she needed to control her blood pressure and cholesterol. Her typical breakfast was coffee and a croissant with butter, lunch was a sandwich, and dinner was often her sons' leftover pizza. These foods were the worst possible choices for someone with her health problems. In revamping Marcia's life, I suggested that she start a walk-run program, which she readily committed to. There is greater weight loss with walking or running than with swimming. For food, I suggested that she begin her day with a vegetable omelet and a glass of skim milk. For a midmorning snack, she had some plain yogurt and fresh berries. (This reminded her of the summer she spent in France, where she began each morning with fresh raspberries and yogurt.) Lunch was a fruit salad with low-fat cottage cheese. I pointed out to Marcia that it was in her best interests to encourage her housekeeper to stop indulging her sons' pizza cravings, and to have her prepare a wholesome meal for them instead. Her housekeeper began preparing grilled fish or chicken with fresh herbs, two vegetables, and a salad for dinner. She set aside a portion of the meal for Marcia, who had a glass of skim milk with dinner and a calcium supplement prior to retiring. 

The changes Marcia experienced were truly remarkable. She became a devoted runner, lost 40 pounds, and no longer required medication to control her blood pressure or cholesterol. Her health problems had been totally resolved by dietary changes. Even her sex life improved. She proudly showed me a bikini she had purchased for a vacation to France with her new boyfriend! 

Calcium and Cancer Risk Reduction

Population studies indicate that a diet high in calcium lowers the risk for colon cancer. In both the Nurses Health Study, which included 88,000 women, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, with 47,300 men, people with the highest calcium intakes had the lowest rates of colon cancer. There was an inverse risk of colon cancer, meaning that the more calcium consumed, the lower the risk for cancer. The way that calcium reduces colon cancer is by binding digestive acids that could potentially harm the cells of the colon lining. The cells of the colon are susceptible to damage by fatty acids and bile (produced by the body to digest dietary fat). If they are subjected to these acids on a regular basis (as is the case with a high-fat diet), the cells proliferate and polyps form. Colonic polyps are precancerous tissue. They are not cancers but, allowed to grow, may evolve into cancer. (This is why it is important for everyone to have a colonoscopy after fifty. As we age, the colon cells are more apt to form polyps. These are easily removed during a colonoscopy before they have a chance to become cancerous.) When digestive acids are bound to calcium, they are inactivated and rendered incapable of damaging the colon cells. Furthermore, when people prone to developing polyps consume high amounts of calcium, formation of polyps is reduced.

If you have had colon cancer or colonic polyps, or have a family history of colon cancer, it is wise to lower the amount of fat in your diet and increase your calcium intake. The best way to do this is by incorporating low-fat dairy products and adding a calcium supplement. 

Calcium and Weight Loss

Even more intriguing than the association of a reduction in blood pressure and cancer risk with calcium is the association of calcium with weight loss. The relation between calcium and body weight was first noted more than twenty years ago in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This study of the nutritional habits of the entire United States reported that the slimmest people had the highest intakes of calcium. Since there was no known mechanism for how calcium kept people thin, the finding was written off as pure chance. When the study was repeated ten years later, it was found that not only did the slimmest people have the highest calcium intakes, but the heaviest people had the lowest calcium intakes! Now, this got researchers' attention: Perhaps there could be a connection between calcium and weight. 

A study at the University of Tennessee found that when fat cells were exposed to a calcium-rich environment, they broke down fat much more rapidly than when they were in a calcium-depleted environments. That was a very interesting finding but it was done in a Petri dish, not in human clinical trials. The reasons for the cells behaving in this manner are believed to date back to our prehistoric origins. In ancient times, our diets had much more calcium, due to the consumption of nuts, tubers, and roots grown in calcium-rich soil. Examination of the skeletons of prehistoric man shows bones with high amounts of calcium. Some researchers estimate the ancient diet had two to three times the calcium consumed today. In light of this, it may be that the body may respond to a low calcium intake as a state of starvation, causing it to hold on to fat stores more closely. Of course, this is all speculative. 

What about real people and calcium? Can calcium really help them lose weight? In 2004, a published study showed that this was indeed the case. This weight-loss study, also from the University of Tennessee, divided overweight subjects into three groups. Each group was restricted by the same amount of calories, and the proportions of fat, carbohydrate, and protein were the same for each group. But they differed in the amount of calcium in their diets: One group had 1,200 to 1,300 mg of dairy (food-derived) calcium per day, another had 800 mg of supplemental calcium per day, and the third received no additional calcium. What do you suppose happened? The group that received 1,200 mg of dairy calcium lost 70 percent more weight than did the calcium-depleted group! And the group that consumed dairy products lost more weight than the group that got the same amount of calcium from supplements. 

This tells us two very important things: 

1. Calcium can help us lose weight. 
2. There may be an as yet undiscovered factor in dairy foods that works with calcium to aid in fat breakdown.

Design of Nine: A No Nonsense Plan for Creating and Maintaining Beautiful Skin At Any Age

Guest blog by Julia Tanum Hunter, M.D.
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

1. Prevention at any age. Its never too late - just get started! 
As long as your heart is beating, no matter where you’re starting, it’s never too late. You CAN be successful - quickly, permanently and happily. You can sometimes be “bad” but because you know how to and why to be “good” and understand it’s not about deprivation, you won’t get frustrated. Beginning to experience the skin, health, youthfulness, body, brainpower, energy and vitality you desire will motivate you to stay on the road to success. AND, what’s the alternative? Aging more quickly, not feeling “good”-gastrointestinal issues, aches, pains, injuries, illnesses, operations, medications, unhappiness, diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, prostate and erection issues, debilitation-physical and financial, stroke, nursing homes. Or maybe you’ll be luckier, but based on experience, prevention = greater happiness, fun and well-being and quality longevity. 

2. Avoid foods, products, ingredients and chemicals that inflame the skin and internal organs. 
-- the primary cause of disease and aging that begins afflicting us from birth! Skin, the largest organ of the body, is one of the main organs used by the body to detoxify so many of the skin issues we experience are a result of the body attempting to clear, clean and heal itself (skin is a window to what is occurring internally). As skin becomes inflamed from what we consume, absorb and are exposed to (such as pollution and sunlight) - the results are aging and disease. Research on skin cancer and aging, acne, enlarged pores, ingrown beard hairs, hyperpigmentation, photodamage, rosacea, thinning hair, heart and blood vessel disease, erectile dysfunction and organ diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancers, arthritis and osteoporosis demonstrate that free radicals, fungal overgrowth and compromised hormone and immune systems, are the core causes resulting in inflammation, chronic and severe. Free radicals cause acidic blood and tissue pH, creating a hostile body environment of inflammation especially for collagen production (and every thing in your body is constructed of collagen). Stress causes inflammation via activating the release of stress hormones, which protect then damage, when depleted, then we progress to more disease.

3. Essential building blocks. 
The skin and body is a 24/7 construction site so we need to supply the building blocks AND ones the body needs, wants, is missing, can recognize, absorb and utilize. In today’s toxic and stress filled world and with foods as they are-even organic and right out of the garden due to soil depleted of nutrition from farming year round, it is imperative to supplement the internal organs and skin with specific foods, water and supplements-an array that keep your tissues alkaline and supplied with enough raw materials to do their job the best, the most youthfully and energetically. Your genetics and sex often require a unique prescription of what your body needs and doesn’t. You cannot take enough antioxidants in today’s world to fight the number and amount of free radicals that are being generated and inflaming your organs and tissues. Your unique Action Plan delineates everything you need for maximizing health, beauty and slowing down the ticking of the clock

4. Most everything in MODERATION regarding food. 
You are what you eat - organic, hormone and antibiotic free, grass fed, wild, the less sugar, carbs, flour (even whole wheat), grain, corn, cow's milk, the better to minimize toxicity. 

Skin Fitness Plus

• Drink 1.0-2 liters of water a day, ideally with no chlorine, fluoride or bromide, and filtered at least for organisms are recommended. Your skin and body require much water for them to function correctly. All cells need water and water helps treat and prevent constipation. Make your water therapeutic by placing one or more green tea bags in it daily.

• The closer to nature, ideally the greener and darker the fruits and vegetables the better and seasonal in your location are best. 

• Grains - white and whole wheat flour, bread, pasta, corn, white rice, oatmeal and sugars are not anyone's friend. Less is best!

• Cereals, grains, sugars and pastas should be low glycemic when eaten meaning complex grains, infrequently multi-grain and consider raw almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, raw dates, DARK chocolate (in moderation) or unsweetened raw chocolate products, xylitol sweetened products, wild rice as better choices. Many people have gluten allergies, which cause acne, constipation and inflammatory diseases. Save your sweets for something worth aging and getting pimples for and having to exercise off or diet for and protect with antioxidants and probiotics. We all love sweets and bread, but they contribute to aging, disease and fungal overgrowth so in moderation.

• Red meat - Ideally women and men - don't consume more then once a week. Lamb is healthier then beef, pork can be healthier then both. Replace with healthy wild, low toxin fish, turkey, black beans, buffalo and wild game, chicken (skinless) and goat. Eat more vegetables and beans - also full of protein.

• ETOH in moderation (tequila, scotch, dry red wine and vodka are better choices), no sweet mixers and try not drinking every day. Alcohol increases free radicals and the body turns it into fat so take glutathione and an array of antioxidants and drink water with it. It also negatively impacts sleep, so again, indulge in moderation. Helpful solutions to cut down are (when you want a glass of wine or cocktail) to drink hot or cold tea instead, which generally distracts your brain, so you lose the urge.

• Avoid cow’s milk, even for children, as much as possible, especially if you have acne or constipation. Many are allergic to it and the lactose is a sugar that promotes fungal overgrowth and fat. It acidifies the body and you get more calcium from vegetables. Goat milk is compatible with virtually everyone and there are tasty goat cheeses, yogurts and milks. Sheep milk is next best and still better than cow’s milk.

• The right oils that juice up and plump the skin (we all dry up as we get older) and they promote health and decrease inflammation. The most anti-inflammatory oil that everyone should take is fish oil - Omega-3’s. Healthy oils for your skin and body also include olive oil (great also to put on your skin in small amounts for irritation and hydration), raw coconut oil, hemp, flax with lignans, walnut, green tea, borage, black currant.

5. Supplements and Nutrients. 
Even organic, fresh and healthy food must be supported in today’s world with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, nutrients and targeted oils that continually replenish, strengthen, energize and detoxify the entire body, promote physical and psychological well-being and effectively combat the epidemic of acne, melasma, rosacea and skin cancers. The soil is depleted and over-farmed so supplementation is essential. Examples of these essential nutrients:

• Green powder/pills - green, green and more green, the more green the better! 
• B vitamins
• Detoxified iodine
• Multi-minerals
• Probiotics
• Digestive enzymes

6. Ingredients. 
Checking out ingredients in everything we put in and on our bodies helps to protect and enrich our diet. The hidden sugars, MSG, simple salt, the ingredients we consume in foods and their lack after shipping and cooking- of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, even if entitled organic, greatly contribute to our inflammation. The closer to nature foods you eat, the more alkaline, healthy and rejuvenated your skin and body will become and the aging clock slows as much as possible. You CAN look 10-20 years younger than your peers. We must address the skin and body internally and externally to achieve health and turn back the clock. 

Skin Fitness Plus
7. Have your Hormone Levels Checked. 
Aging, disease, depression, sleep disorders, “brain fog”, emotional lability, lack of energy and vitality, anxiety, mid-adominal weight and struggles, nail ridging and fungus, athletes foot, jock itch, tiny postular, itchy, skin rashes, brown spots, skin tags, thickened skin growths, yeast infections, dry furrowed heels, pain and unhappiness in men and women are significantly advanced by declining hormone levels which also advances skin, collagen, tissue and hair thinning and laxity, loss of integrity and strength, weakens the immune system, negatively impacts the risks of prostate disease, and all cancers, can cause emotional and psychological changes, low energy levels and brain functioning, organ and erectile dysfunction, weight gain and let’s not forget…the law of gravity everywhere in and on the body. Acneic skin demonstrates increased hormone sensitivity at the level of the skin and must be treated and balanced to cure the problem.Bio-identical hormones in cream form vs. those in a chemical form which are foreign to the human body, properly dosed, administered, monitored and individually tailored contribute to turning back the physiological clock in a healthy manner, promoting well-being, preventing diseases, strengthening the immune system, energy, sleep, skin and brain fitness. Like nutritionals and supplements, they must be balanced and titrated both for the skin and internally. Men have the same hormones as women in different amounts. Bio-identical hormones that must be addressed include bio-identical progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, thyroid, pregnenolone, growth hormone, melatonin and more...

8. Exercise – 
Workout safely and healthfully. Exercise is anti-aging. Sweating is detoxifying, increases blood flow, oxygenation and is anti-fungal, bringing in the nutrients to the cells and tissues and increasing lymphatic flow, which takes out the toxins. Exercise helps balance hormones and increases growth hormone output, which is anti-aging, enhances good sleep, lubricates your joints and spine if done correctly, produces energy and brainpower. By increased circulation and delivery of nutrients to skin cells, you are expelling potentially damaging toxins. If you are not exercising, then you are not detoxifying nor stemming aging. Exercise is walking the stairs instead of the elevator, carrying your own groceries, taking a walk on your street or up a hill, parking the car NOT closest to the door so you have to walk a bit, bicycling, cleaning the house, doing yard work, etc. Working out with some weights doesn’t mean you always have to go to the gym, everyday chores can maintain and promote muscle mass. Your skin is attached to your muscles so lifting and toning your muscles can help to tighten skin. Building muscle also increases your metabolic rate so you burn more calories all the time and lose weight more easily. Remember - muscle weighs more than fat so you can be losing inches and the scale reports your weight is the same. Yoga is great exercise and as with all exercise, be careful and work up slowly, stretch gradually and if your body is telling you it hurts then you need to work up more slowly and often you need professional advice at first for safety. 

9. Routinely maintain skin health! 
Just as you consistently repair and upkeep your house and car, maintenance is needed for your skin and body. Everything that results in skin health and beauty must be addressed – foods, water, exercise, vitamins and supplements, bio-identical hormones and internal organ health. Insure that your physiology is kept working at its best, disease-free and youngest to achieve the results you want and the health you need! To enhance, not harm your skin, use chemically correct, therapeutic concentration products without toxic ingredients. Add scientifically correct procedures to cure damage and slow the aging process. Skin, oral, hair and nail products must be free of harmful chemicals, artificial colors, dyes, and fragrances that cause inflammation…the primary cause of disease, aging and skin pathology. Skin Regimen Must Be Individually Formulated For Women - easily and quickly doable - specifically designed for you and your unique anatomy to maximize, repair, rejuvenate, prevent and re-invigorate. 

Skin Fitness Plus . . . young at any age

Ten Psychological Tips that Will Change How You Look and Feel About Beauty

Guest blog by Vivian Diller Ph.D. with Jill Muir-Sukenick Ph.D., edited by Michele Willens
Author of Face It: What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change 

Face it: there is no magic solution to aging with grace and dignity. Having just written a book offering guidance to millions of women who feel trapped by conflicting feelings, we think we are on to something. We have found satisfying, long term solutions that help us deal with a culture that virtually programs women to have a crisis over their aging appearance. We were once professional models, so we were made acutely aware how quickly a premium on physical beauty can fade with age. It took hard work and time, but we learned the secret of how to enjoy our changing appearance. Now we are therapists treating hundreds of women who may be fulfilled and evolved in many ways, but are still having difficulty coming to terms with the lines of time. Here are some great psychological tips we tell women to "think" about that help them change the way they "feel" and "look." They worked for us. They can work for you!

1) Beauty is not just a physical experience, but a psychological one as well. We all tend to think of beauty as a skin-deep issue, all about how we physically look. But research tells us that perception of what is deemed attractive and unattractive is much more complicated. Why do you think some beautiful women say, "I've never thought I was pretty"? Yes, even beauties like Uma Thurman and Michelle Pfeiffer have drawn attention to what they consider flaws. Similarly, there are women who may not be your typical image of beauty, yet when you ask them they say they are quite confident in their looks. Serena Williams never tries to cover up her unconventionally muscular physique: in fact, she flaunts it and somehow it makes her more appealing. What makes people feel attractive goes well beyond our physical self. It runs deep, much deeper than the eye can see.

2) Although we can't stop the physical changes of aging, we can change our experience of aging. No one, not any doctor, dermatologist or surgeon can stop physical changes of aging. There may be ways to look better, take care of your skin and bodies that put things temporarily on hold, at least on the surface. We're all for that! We're also for ways we can experience -- and even enjoy -- our changing looks. If we take care of ourselves, it makes us feel better and we smile more. When we smile, we look more attractive. The sooner we go through an interior process, (we offer six steps in our book) the better you will feel inside and out.

3) While aging is inevitable and irreversible, self-image is not. Self-image can be fluid and timeless. Self-image is not an actual still picture of oneself. It is an internal experience, how we see ourselves from within, over time throughout our lives. It's flexible and malleable. And if we understand that self image is changeable, then that is what we try to help women conquer. Not age itself. That's a battle we can't win.  

4) Beauty is in the "I" of the beholder. If we become our own internal "eye," we can take control over how we see ourselves, rather than give it over to other people to determine if we're attractive or not. Our six steps serve to change the internal lens through which we see, not only ourselves, but others as well. The result? Women will be less self critical and less critical of each other.

5) Chronological age does not have to define you. You can define yourself at your chronological age. A particular age has little to do with how old you feel. You can define how you want to be 40, 50 and onward. We also don't have to let magazine images define what is beautiful. Some women in their 20's feel old. Some women in their 60's feel young.

6) Put your beauty in your identity, not your identity in your beauty. Your identity is made up of many aspects of yourself. How you look is just one of them. As you get older, more aspects of yourself can make up your identity; for example, your experiences in life, your accomplishments and your relationships. If you hold onto youthful beauty as a narrow definition of yourself, you're especially unlikely to enjoy your looks as you age. You leave out so many other ways to feel good about yourself.

7) Take an honest look at who you are, not what you look like. Mirrors tell only a little of what we really look like. Gaze again and go beyond, past your reflection and see who you are as a person. Think of what you see as only the image of yourself, that informs the world of your physical self. But who you are is more than what they see.

8) Rob beauty of its power over you. Take back that power and you will feel more beautiful. Our culture has given beauty power over women. We are told who and what is beautiful. We know that youth is beautiful. Most people see babies as beautiful. But grandmothers can be beautiful as well. Some of the most beautiful women in the world are those who smile, engage and appear happy at any age. If you take back the power of what makes you feel attractive, you will become more attractive to yourself and others.

9) Become less afraid of aging and you will look more beautiful. When you see a face that is scared, you would hardly call it beautiful. There is nothing pretty about fear. Women need to accept that aging happens and that becoming more courageous about all aspects of our lives will enhance them . . . and us.

10) Beauty matters to all women, but to those who age beautifully, it matters neither too much nor too little. We all know that a core aspect of our identities is our appearance. No doubt our looks matter. But women who allow beauty to matter, but keep it in balance with all other aspects of their lives, can enjoy their looks at any age.

Bottom line: Dealing with your looks as they inevitably change is a psychological process as well as a physical challenge. Master the first and the second will come with much more joy. When it comes to your face, your body and your aging process, be smart, be thoughtful and you'll be more beautiful.


Guest recipe by Judith Fertig and Karen Adler
Authors of Fish & Shellfish, Grilled & Smoked: 300 Foolproof Recipes for Everything from Amberjack to Whitefish, Plus Really Good Rubs, Marvelous Marinades, Sassy Sauces, and Sumptuous Sides
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

For this recipe, choose a firm-fleshed fish such as U.S. farm-raised catfish. 
Serve this with Texas pecan or the more fragrant jasmine rice.

Serves 4
1 pound U.S. farm-raised catfish fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup green onions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths on the bias
1 cup chopped Napa cabbage
Toasted sesame seeds to garnish
For the Lemongrass Marinade:
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh lemongrass (available at Asian markets)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon nam pla or bottled fish sauce, (available in the Asian section of grocery stores)
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon peanut or other vegetable oil
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

1. Place the fish, onions, and cabbage in a large seal able plastic bag. In a medium bowl, mix the Lemongrass Marinade ingredients together and pour over the fish mixture in the plastic bag. Seal, then toss to coat the fish and vegetables with the marinade. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
2. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal, gas, or wood pellet grill. Spray a grill wok with cooking spray and place over the sink or outside on the grass. Pour the marinated fish and vegetables into the wok, allowing the excess marinade to drain away. Place the wok on the grill. Using wooden paddles or grill spatulas, turn and toss the fish and vegetables until the
fish is opaque and the vegetables have lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Serve over rice, garnished with toasted sesame seeds.


Guest recipe by Judith Fertig an Karen Adler
Authors of Fish & Shellfish, Grilled & Smoked: 300 Foolproof Recipes for Everything from Amberjack to Whitefish, Plus Really Good Rubs, Marvelous Marinades, Sassy Sauces, and Sumptuous Sides
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

1. Select only the freshest fish and shellfish. Fresh fish has a glistening, dewy look, a sweet or briny smell of the sea, and a somewhat firm texture. Shellfish has a sweet or briny smell of the sea, too. Ask to smell the fish or shellfish before you buy. Even the slightest odor of ammonia means the fish is not the freshest. You can also judge freshness by texture-if you
press the center part of a fillet or steak with your finger and the impression stays, the fish is not fresh. If you're buying a whole fish, look at the eyes-if clear and bright, the fish is fresh; if opaque or cloudy, the fish is not fresh. If you buy flash-frozen fish or shellfish, make sure it
still frozen when you buy it. You'll have the best luck if you buy your fish from a reputable and knowledgeable fishmonger-he or she can help you select the best options.

2. Handle fish and shellfish carefully. Always keep fish and shellfish chilled before grilling. Rinse thoroughly under cold running water, then pat dry. Discard any oysters, clams, or mussels with cracked or open shells.

3. Marinate fish and shellfish for only 30 to 60 minutes in the refrigerator before grilling. Marinating longer could mean an overpowering flavor of the marinade instead of the delicate flavor of fish. The vinegar or citrus juice in the marinade could also "cook" the fish and you'll end up with ceviche. However, there are some types of firmer-textured or oily, full-flavored fish
and shellfish-such as bluefish, mackerel, marlin, monkfish, octopus, shark, tuna, or squid-that can take a longer marinade.

4. For grilling, it is preferable to leave the fish skin on. Always place a fillet flesh side down first, then turn halfway through grilling onto the skin side. This technique helps the fish fillet hold together better during grilling.

5. Grill just about any fish or shellfish you like. Very thin and delicate fish such as Dover sole or lake perch are better sauteed or broiled. Catfish fillets are great on the grill because they hold together well and taste great.

6. Grill over a hot fire. Hold your hand 5 inches above the heat source. If you can only leave your hand there for 2 seconds, your fire is hot.

7. The general rule for grilling fish is 10 minutes per inch of thickness. For a fillet or steak that is 1 inch in the thickest part, you grill flesh side down for 5 minutes, then turn and finish grilling for 5 minutes on the skin side. For shellfish, grill for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until the shellfish becomes more opaque and firm in texture.

8. Test for doneness by making sure the fish and shellfish are opaque and somewhat firm. Most fish are done when steaks or fillets begin to flake-not a dry flake, but more a moist separation and you see a clear liquid-when tested with a fork in the thickest part. For firmer-fleshed varieties such as farm-raised catfish, monkfish, sturgeon, walleye pike, or eel, the fish flesh should be all one color, when tested in the thickest part, and the texture
firm. If you prefer your salmon or tuna on the medium-rare side, look for opaque pink or grayish brown on the outside, glistening reddish pink or dark purple-red on the inside, just as you would judge the doneness a beef steak. Shellfish are done when they turn more opaque and firm up in texture. Underdone fish or shellfish can always be put back on the grill or zapped in the microwave for a few seconds. Overcooked fish or shellfish can't be rescued.

9. Grill gadgets that rule: two long-handled wide metal spatulas for fish steaks or fillets and long-handled tongs for shellfish. For delicate fish like flounder or skate wings and very small shellfish like clams or baby squid, use a perforated grill rack, disposable aluminum pans, Nordic ware fish boat, or aluminum foil as a base so that the fish won't fall through the
grill grates. Although your fish or shellfish won't have grill marks, it will still have the flavor of the grill-and be a lot easier to remove. Perforated grill woks allow you to stir-grill marinated fish and vegetables together. 

10. Because you never know what fish or shellfish will be the freshest when you shop, be ready to substitute. You'll want to match the same firm, moderate, or delicate texture and mild, moderate, or full flavor of the fish or shellfish you originally planned on. For example, if cod is unavailable or not very fresh, substitute U.S. farm-raised hake, hoki, whiting, or
turbot-similar matches in delicate texture and mild flavor. In place of moderate-textured and mild-flavored red snapper, try catfish, grouper, haddock, orange roughy, walleye, or whitefish. In place of firm-textured, mild-flavored shrimp, substitute lobster, prawns, soft shell crab, or even halibut or monk fish.

Sign Language

Guest blog by Jennifer Rosen

At the Airport Grill, where my dad used to take us for a hamburger in the 60's, the bathroom choice was "Pilots" or "Stewardesses." A slam-dunk lawsuit today, still, you knew where you stood (or sat, if you were a stewardess.) It certainly beats having to decide if you're a Buoy or a Gull, a Turtle or a Tortoise, or which of the odd silhouettes most resembles you and your clothing. Easier, too, than my neighborhood hangout, Mels, where the triple choice of Men, Women and Ladies requires more reflection than I'm usually in the mood for.

A too-cute wine list scratches the same blackboard. I applaud restaurants for the effort, but headings like "Grills, Thrills and Wild Things," "Cutting Edge," and "Silver Linings," raise more questions than they answer. 

Attempting to describe wine makes sense if you share a common language. Alas, many terms mean one thing on wine lists, another to professional tasters and a third to the average diner. Let's decode some common ones.

Dry: Refers to sugar, or lack of it. Does not mean mouth-puckering, rough, tooth-coating or bitter. Those are the work of tannins and acids. Dry wine can be smooth as silk. High-alcohol wine, like Viognier or Zinfandel, sometimes seems sweet, even with little or no sugar. Taste a little rubbing alcohol and you'll see.

Rich: If they made Shiraz-flavored Koolaid and you used seven packets for one pitcher, you'd have rich. Also known as concentrated or extracted, it means more color and flavor.

Fruity: Does not mean sweet. Arguably, all wine should be fruity - it's made from fruit, for heaven's sake! If you smell peach, pineapple, blackberry, and, yes, even grape, the wine is fruity. (If you pick up gooseberry, you're faking it. Gooseberries are a hoax perpetuated by wine critics, and do not, in fact, exist. Quince and Bramble, two other common wine descriptors, do exist, but no one really knows what are.) On a wine list, fruity usually means simple: you taste the fruit and nothing but the fruit.

Floral: smells like perfume, flowers, or the soap in the guest bathroom that everyone's afraid to unwrap. 

Spicy: Exotic. Can refer to anything in the spice rack. Gewurztraminer is always described as spicy because, a) that's what Gewurtz means and b) there aren't any other things that smell like it. Spicy in a Syrah means cinnamon and black-pepper-up-your-nose.  

Body: A tactile thing: the glop factor. Light-bodied is skim milk or water. Full-bodied is heavy cream, honey or 10-W-40.

Big! Huge! Blockbuster! A Monster!: Three possible meanings. With California Zinfandel, it refers to how your head will feel the next morning; that is, the wine packs a punch. In the case of Cabernet or Barollo, it means tannins like a three-day-old beard. Either the wine is too young, or you're meant to tough it out, saying things like, "Now THERE'S a wine!" Applied to other reds, it means super-rich and full-bodied. Beware; when it comes to food, blockbuster wines are about as friendly as a Sumo wrestler with diaper rash. 

Soft: This term sells oceans of Merlot every year. It means not enough acid or tannin to last, refresh or excite. Lemonade without the lemons. No complexity, nothing that would tax your brain. It's a plot, can't you see?? They think you're too low brow to appreciate anything better than pablum. They want to turn you into pod people! Forget soft wine! Get out of that ghetto, man! Make like an infinitive and split! 

If you follow this guide and still aren't crazy about the wine they bring, give it a chance with your meal. Under whelming sipping wine can make beautiful music with food. But go easy on it, or you could find yourself in front of two doors in a hallway, wondering if you're a Porpoise or a Dolphin. 

Green Fruits in Jasmine Tea Syrup

Guest recipe by Joanna Pruess
Author of Tea Cuisine: A New Approach to Flavoring Contemporary and Traditional Dishes
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

Serves 6

Jasmine tea and sweetened lime juice transform a simple trio of green fruits into an ambrosial offering. Its memory will linger on your taste buds. Savor the fruit alone or with a scoop of green tea ice cream.

2 tsp jasmine tea leaves
1⁄2 c sugar
Grated zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
3 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 ripe honeydew melon, about 5 lbs, flesh scooped into little balls or diced
8 oz seedless green grapes, stemmed, washed, and cut in half
Sprigs of fresh mint, for garnish

1. Bring 1/3 cup water just to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the jasmine tea, remove the pan from the heat, and steep for 4 to 5 minutes. Strain into a clean pan, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible, and discard the tea leaves.
2. Add the sugar and lime zest to the pan. Over medium heat, stir until the sugar dissolves, then bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the syrup for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lime juice.
3. Place the kiwi, melon, and grapes in a serving bowl and pour on the syrup. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours. Remove from the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before serving, toss gently, and garnish with mint.

Yellow Fruit Salad: Combine 4 apricots, 4 nectarines, 1 mango, 1 papaya, and 1 small pineapple all cut into cubes. Prepare a syrup flavored with Earl Grey tea and lemon juice instead of jasmine tea and lime. Proceed as for a green fruit salad.

Ice, Ice Baby

Guest post by Jennifer Rosen

To Americans, Canada is a parallel, frozen universe peopled with hockey players, polar bears and cheap prescription drugs. Wine-wise, it's not on the radar. Well, roll over Mondavi, and give Nanook a chance. Canada happens to be the Mecca for icewine.

Icewine, in case you haven't met it, ranks among the world's classiest dessert wines, more Chateauneuf de Popsicle than EskiMerlot pie. To learn what sets this sticky apart, let's pay a visit during harvest. Ah, harvest time! Indian summer! Sweat on the brow and dirt between the toes! Singing workers, laden with bushel baskets of bursting berries…oops, wrong harvest.

It's February on the Niagara peninsula; the thermometer's barely cresting zero. In the proto-dawn of 4:00am, shivering figures in fleece and down maneuver mittened fingers through rattling, lifeless vines. Frozen berries are whisked off as fast as they're picked, to be pressed before the sun comes up. 

Look closely: these are not your normal migrant workers. I see doctors, lawyers…media types! Someone with a degree from the Tom Sawyer School of Economics has people paying to come up here and freeze their assets off. Such is the prestige of this rare and expensive wine. What's going on?

There are several ways to turbo-charge a dessert wine. All involve dehydrating the grapes. You can dry them on mats in the sun, or let them shrivel on the vine. Very good little winemakers may get a visit from Botrytis Cinerea, the "noble rot" that turns healthy grapes into hairy, scary, little sugar bombs. Then there's icewine.

Repeated freezing and thawing changes the chemical composition of grapes. It concentrates sugars, acids and extracts and separates them from water, which freezes at a higher temperature. If the grapes are frozen solid enough, pressing will eject the water in crystalized shards, leaving behind the intense, aromatic goo from which ethereal wines are made. 

This fortuitous discovery was made in Germany, in 1794, when Hans Schnockleputter went on a Schnapps bender and forgot to harvest his grapes until January, by which time they had frozen solid. When worse comes to Gewurtz, bad wine is better than no wine, so he went ahead and vinified, stumbling, thus, upon the magic of eiswein.

The capricious German weather permits eiswein only a few times a decade. But in the shadow of the Niagara Escarpment (a mystifying geologic word that sounds like it pushed back its chair in a hurry and left), the harmonic convergence of long, temperate growing season, followed by a predictable deep-freeze, makes icewine a reliable crop.

Which is not to say it's easy. Leaving grapes on the vine long into January is a risky and labor-intensive business. Rain and wind storms, bad mold and birds all vie to make off with the goods. Yields are extremely low; only 5% to 10% of a normal harvest. 

Hence, the price. But at least you know what you're getting. To distinguish themselves from unscrupulous Yankees who put grapes in the freezer and pass the results off as icewine, Canada formed the Vintners Quality Association (VQA), which tightly controls how, when, and at what temperature you can harvest. Scofflaws can't use the VQA appellation and will be put in the penalty box for icing. Right now you're probably thinking, "Hello! Icing results in a stoppage of play with the puck being dropped in the face-off circle near the goalie in the offending team's zone!" But that would be hockey and this is wine.

And extraordinary wine, indeed. What sets it apart from the cloying mass of syrup that defines some belly-button wines is its zingingly high, refreshing acidity. Along with exotic perfumes like papaya, passion fruit and ginger, you get this sweet-tart wake-up-call of fresh lemon and lime. And a texture like the heavy, hypnotic, flow inside a lava lamp.

Which just goes to show that where there's a will there's a wine, and we ought to look at a map more often.

Have Some, M'Dear

Guest post by Jennifer Rosen

You can leave a bottle of Madeira on a hot car seat for weeks without ruining it, and for that you can thank King George the Third, the German navy, and Zarco the One-Eyed.

1419: the dawn of the Age of Exploration. Portuguese sea captain João Gonçalves Zarco, sailing around the north coast of Africa, spots what he describes as "vapors rising from the mouth of hell." Screwing up all his courage, he penetrates hell to discover a small, fog-bound island, part of an archipelago lying 475 miles offshore of Casablanca. The fog is important, not only because it will later feature in the opening shot of the remake of King Kong, but also because it makes the island invisible. That, plus the fact that it's the largest deep-water harbor in the world, and sits squarely in the path of anyone sailing from Europe to the West Indies, makes it a valuable gateway for Portugal. 

Zarco names the island "Madeira," which means wood. Next, he wipes out every last tree by starting a fire that will burn for seven years. 

He has inadvertently provided a great service to the wine industry. The volcanic soil, once too acidic for grape growing, is made alkaline by the ashes of burnt forests. Grapes are planted.

Cut to Boston, 1650: Colonists are protesting the Navigation Acts, which decree that nothing enters or leaves the Colonies without passing through, and paying taxes to, England. 

Just then, Charles II of England makes one of the great political marriages of all time, when his Portuguese fiancée arrives with a dowry consisting of Bombay, Tangier, Morocco, the use of ports in Africa, Asia and America, and lots of money. She also introduces twin civilizing influences: tea and the fork. In return, Charles exempts Madeira from his protectionist policy.

Madeira, therefore, is the only wine shipped directly to America, and so acquires totemic status: a swig of Madeira becomes the American patriot's way of spitting in the British eye. Both the signing of the Declaration of Independence and George Washington's inauguration are toasted in Madeira wine. 

However, despite the fact that in 1478, the Duke of Clarence, condemned to death in the Tower of London, chooses to accomplish this by drowning in a vat of Madeira, an anecdote that I have been trying to stuff into this story for hours, the fact of the matter is that the wine is thin, acidic, and basically tastes terrible. 

This changes in 1600, when a cargo ship goes off course and wanders around the tropics for a year because none of the crew can bring himself to ask for directions. To everyone's surprise, this vacation in the sun vastly improves the wine on board. 

For the next 300 years, Madeira is routinely sailed around the world to mellow, sometimes for 5 years or more. The inconvenience of this approach is brought home during World War I, when German U-boats find these slow wine tankers gratifying target practice. Especially when they manage to salvage the cargo before it sinks. In a quantum leap of technology - no doubt strongly resisted by Portuguese dockworkers unions - the wine industry trades baking aboard for baking ashore.

Today, the wine cooks for three to six months in giant tanks with heat-sensitive locks that alert the government if the temperature gets too high, and then the government comes and confiscates the wine. If that doesn't happen, the wine next ages in barrels for anywhere from three to hundreds of years before bottling. It's so indestructible that someone who just tasted the 1795 vintage reports that it "easily has 50 years of life ahead of it." Which is a lot more than the Duke of Clarence had, but when it comes to that, personally, I think I'd rather jump into a vat of Lubriderm and soften to death.

A Bargain, Really! 

Appellation Spring

Guest post by Jennifer Rosen

If you've got some time, say, five years, I'll explain all about reading wine labels. Ten, if you want Germany. Since the bottling statement alone (there's a difference between "made" "cellared," "grown," "produced," and "vinted") will spin your head, today we'll just look at appellations.

To head the obligatory joke off at the pass, an appellation is NOT a guy with five teeth who plays the banjo. It's a legal statement about quality and where the grapes came from. It shouldn't be too difficult to explain just as soon as I finish this bottle of valium.

In the New World, comprising Australia, South Africa and the Americas, appellations are purely geographical. But they are not laid out edge to edge like tiles on the kitchen floor. Imagine, instead, that you spill a cup of coffee on the floor, and then drop a bowl of cornflakes into and around the puddle. What have you got? Layers. American Viticultural Area, or AVA, is the term for appellation in America. Let's say the whole floor represents the United States AVA. Each tile is also a state AVA. Within the California tile, the coffee splatters are also county AVAs. One of the cornflakes in the Sonoma County coffee spill is also the Alexander Valley AVA. 

A winemaker in that cornflake could claim any one of those AVAs. But he'd choose Alexander Valley, because the more specific the appellation, the better (and more expensive) the wine. A bottle from the "Pacific Northwest" generally delivers less than one from "Jean-Pierre's Half-Acre." 

Jean-Pierre can plant Catawba, for all our government cares, but in Europe, appellations are strictly controlled for quality. In France, for instance, if you're lucky enough to make red wine in Burgundy's Côte d'Or (pronounced: coat door), the grape must be Pinot Noir. You may not irrigate, or produce more three tons per acre. Your vines must be spaced exactly one meter apart in every direction and be no higher than three feet, and, as far as I can tell, your name must be Jean-Noel, Jean-Pierre, or Jean-Marie, which - I can't help it - always struck me as a silly name for a man. 

Appellations in Burgundy are so convoluted and layered that even most Burgundians don't understand them, but they do ensure a certain level of quality. 

An Italian label might list the place, the place plus the grape, the grape plus the place, or the place plus the wine style. If you don't know the names of the over 100 Italian wine grapes, I challenge you to even find the appellation. 

In Germany, an appellation is a meld of region, vineyard, grape, and quality level, determined by the amount of sugar in the grapes.

Just when you start to get a handle on all this, along comes the European Union and slaps its own regulations on all 18 EU countries, trumping all the national labeling laws.

Why the big deal about where the damned grapes grew, anyway? Because certain minute areas of the globe produce grapes like no others. Ernst Loosen, who makes highly-acclaimed Riesling from his family's estates in the Mosel and Pfaltz, rants for hours about the strangling German government regulations that make doing business there a nightmare. So why doesn't he just up and move to a country that supports free enterprise? Because his handful of acres is pure gold.

At least European appellations have the decency to change at glacial speed, unlike in the New World where they're dividing like cells in a petri dish. Australia is poised to expand its number of apps ten-fold, and wineries are fighting tooth and nail to hang onto the prestigious ones, instead of being stuck with a new, untested name.

But where does this mess leave you, the label reader, the drinker? The sidebar explains how to identify the appellation. As a rule of thumb, go for the most specific app you can afford. If you discover a wine that really pops your cork, look for others from the same appellation Oh, and clean up that kitchen floor. 

Find the Appellation

European wine:
A legal statement, usually in smaller letters, shows up under the appellation name. Some statements to look for:
France: Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC)
Italy: Denominazione di Origine Controllata (e Garantita) (DOC, DOCG)
Spain: Denominación de Origen (Calificada) (DO, DOC)
Germany: Qualitätswein mit Prädikat (QmP) (This is technically a quality statement, not an appellation.)
New World Wine
Look for a place. Examples: New South Wales, Maipo Valley, North Coast, Santa Barbara.

The Magical Job Hunt

Guest post by Janina Renée
Author of By Candlelight: Rites for Celebration, Blessing & Prayer

Job hunting can be a grueling and discouraging process, but we can turn it into more of a game and a quest by approaching it with a magical mindset.

For example, job hunting is something of a "numbers game." Many of us have to send out hundreds of cover letters, resumés, and applications, and then go to numerous interviews before we get an offer. When we are rejected, it is not necessarily that we are unqualified, have made a bad impression, or are being discriminated against, it is just that there are such huge numbers of qualified applicants for the jobs available. However, a numbers game can be turned into a blessing game. Every time you sign another cover letter (and you should generally always include a cover letter because it "sells" your application or resumé), you can say, "As I send this out, I extend my blessings. Abundant blessings to one and all." When you go in person to put in an application or show up for an interview, you can pause, squeeze the door handle, and think, "Abundant blessings!"

By getting around, you are opening more channels for the inflow of your own luck. However, do all of these things without expecting anything in return. Here, you measure your job hunting success not by how quickly you get hired by an ideal employer, but by how many blessings you are able to spread around.

Occasionally you may encounter an employer where you observe or suspect unfair hiring practices or exploitative conditions. Even though such employers might rightly deserve a curse instead of a blessing, bless them anyway, perhaps by saying something like, "AcmeCo and Mr. X., chief of AcmeCo, are magically blessed; may they now do right by others, and be a blessing to our community." (This does not mean you can't report them to the appropriate authorities, if their practices are overt enough to provide proof of wrong-doing.)

You can keep count of all the companies you've blessed by keeping a log of the letters you've sent out and visits you've made. To better visualize your achievement, you could create a material record by setting out an abacus, or stringing beads on a necklace or garland (interviews get bigger beads), forming a chain of paper clips, or coming up with some other visual counting device. You could also mark the places that you've applied to on a map, so that you can see how you have extended your magical presence as a bestower of blessings in your community. As you contemplate your map or list of jobs applied for, (or your garland, paper clip chain, or whatever), don't be pessimistic and say, "50 companies have turned me down!" Rather, say, "Wow, I've contacted (and blessed) 50 companies! I wonder if I can contact 50 more?" Indeed, you can take the view that the job hunt is just a ruse, an excuse to get out and around, to get to know more places than are normally accessible to the public.

There is a magical psychology behind this. When we are desperate to get work, we put out subtle signals, and the people in charge of hiring pick up on them and judge us unfavorably. Indeed, one study showed that human resources people routinely made job offers to actors who were secretly sent in as part of an experiment, rather than the real job seekers. Because the actors weren't worried about getting hired, they didn't convey a sense of anxiety--unlike the people who actually needed the job. Thus, if we can make the job hunt more playful, the desperation vibes are diminished. Of course, once you do get a good job offer, whether sooner or later, you can set the game aside and graciously take the job, thanking your Higher Powers or the Living Universe.

Here are some additional suggestions for job hunting with a magical mindset:

After each interview, consider it a blessing if you can discover at least one way to improve your self presentation, skills, or answers to interview questions. 

Maintain a sense of openness, without an expectation that you have to have a particular job or a particular kind of job. This way you make it easier for your Higher Powers to lead you to some other interesting possibilities.

It has been said that "the best way to get a job is to get a job." It is an unfortunate fact that unemployed people are often perceived as losers. However, if you are able to get any kind of a job at all, whether that be a part time, temporary, lower paid, or less prestigious position, you will be perceived as more desirable, and will therefore be in a position to find a better job. The situation can be compared to the common phenomenon of persons who have a hard time finding dates, but once they do get into a steady relationship, they suddenly start attracting all kinds of interest from the opposite sex.

Volunteer work magically primes the pump, because it affirms that you are working. It can also get you out into the wider world, help you make contacts, and build references.

From an astrological viewpoint, the more companies you contact and the more people with whom you interview, the greater the chance that you'll hook up with some whose planets are in a friendly, fortunate aspect to your own, (as all of us have many planets in different positions in our horoscopes). Again, it's a numbers game.

Manipulation @ Work How Do You Get What You Want?

Guest post by Jamie Showkeir and Maren Showkeir

n today's do-or-die workplace, authentic conversations are out-and manipulation is in. In fact, four out of five careerists say that people who do it "best" seem to get ahead. And with manipulation so common in everyday conversations, odds are, most of us don't even realize when we're the ones doing the manipulating. Find the "you" in manipulation-your personal favorites in 12 popular techniques: 

Over promising
Do you make unrealistic promises to win people over or get something in return?

"Sure, I can get it to you tomorrow-or maybe even later today. I've got three other reports due this week, but I'll make yours a priority."

Spinning the facts
Do you dance on the edge of dishonesty and give calculated descriptions that
favor your positions or ideas?

"Employees will surely resist another reorganization. Let's emphasize how it will benefit them-or they might not buy in."

Feigning interest
Do you fake interest in someone or something to get what you need?

"Oh! Are those your vacation pictures? I'd love to see them. And, hey, now that you're back, when can I get the new numbers?"

Do you exaggerate threats or create a heightened sense of urgency to "motivate" people?

"This is our worst quarter yet. If we don't double production, we'll be out of business-and you'll be out of a job."

Do you downplay major issues or problems to keep others calm-and focused on work? 

"Stop worrying and just do your job. Things aren't as bad as they seem, and even if they were, this stuff always blows over."

Playing to emotions
Do you appeal to others' overtly positive or negative emotions?

"I know you're tired of putting in all these extra hours. But just think how proud you'll feel when the product launches."

Reassuring-without assurance
Do you assure people that "everything will be fine" when you have no real evidence it's true? 

"This is just a slowdown. Trust me, things are going to be alright."

Disguising agendas
Do you mask your true intentions and say or do something else? 

"Boy, have I got a great overtime opportunity for you. It's a chance to make some big bucks and be a real star on the team."

Being intentionally vague 
Do you stay mum-and purposely not clear things up-when a misunderstanding serves your self-interest? 

"Thanks! Sounds like you've got it."

Dropping names
Do you drop a name or two just to get people's attention or commitment? 

"I know you'll do a great job. In fact, I may even show this one to Mr. Jones and the executive team when I'm with them next week."

Using sarcasm
Do you make your point by making others look and feel foolish? 

"How brilliant are you? You promised delivery to the customer in three days when everyone knows those orders take a week. Good job."

Sucking up 
Do you go over the top and give phony praise to get what you want? 

"You're the best writer here, and everything you do is perfect. That's why I couldn't ask anyone but you to take this on."


Odds are, most of us don't even realize when we're the ones doing the manipulating. 

Helpful Tips for Authors

Guest post by Janice Woods Windle

Following are some tips I feel have helped me become a best-selling author:

o Personalize the process of writing the book. Make it your own. The publishing industry is tough right now, so stick to your guns!

o The book is an art form while it's written and a product when finished--market it as a product. The marketing of books is very competitive.

o Overall, you must have a willingness to travel and spend time with readers. Keep in touch with your readers. They are your fans and advocates. You must travel for a book tour and be willing to do those 5 a.m. interviews.

o Don't hesitate to ask for help from relatives and friends. Ask them to buy books and tell everyone they know about your book. Develop a network from these friendships. This creates your team of people talk up the book. Buddy emails are always a good form of "word of mouth" promotion, too.

o Visit book clubs and other organizations to do readings.

o Tailor the readings to the audience. Junior high girls would want to hear about the stories of strong frontier women, whereas the philosophic society would want to hear about the research process.

o Ask for adequate time to be effective when you are invited to speak. Many organizations do their business up front and try to rush the speaker. Make sure there's a clear understanding of how much time you need.

o Promote each speaking event as a book/author event. 

o CRC's at bookstores should send out flyers and hang posters. You can anticipate an audience for the first 30 minutes. Make the signing no more than an hour. Try to get local media the day of the signing. And newsletter coverage, of any sort, is helpful.

o Bookstore customers have become very jaded. They are accustomed to seeing a book signing each time they walk in the door. Make yours unique in some way.

o Always inform the event coordinator that you want a microphone. Many book events attract senior citizens who need to be able to hear the author.

o Make yourself accessible to your readers and then be prepare for an onslaught of emails. If they care enough to come to an event, you owe it to them.

Conversations @ Work 10 Way to Revolutionize Your Workplace-one Conversation at a Time

Guest post by Jamie Showkeir and Maren Showkeir

Seven out of ten people say that conversation is essential to getting things done at work. Yet, roughly half of today's careerists-regardless of level or position- admit to finding it difficult to have open, honest conversations at their company.  The result? Everyday conversations-the "invisible" driver of workplace culture and business success-are frequently manipulative and counterproductive. Ten waysto take the lead and create change-one authentic conversation at a time:

Have a point of view. 
Develop an informed, independent viewpoint about the topic at hand. Have a strong voice, but be open to others' perspectives, too. 

Focus on choice. 
Need to be right or do everything your way? Get over it. Leadership-formal or informal-is no longer defined as "having the right answers," but as an ability
to engage others in considering all the choices and finding the best solution. 

Raise difficult issues
It's not easy to bring up a hard subject. Still, be the one who acknowledges
the "elephant in the room" and concentrates on resolution. 

Extend goodwill. 
Approach others as allies-not adversaries. Choose to convey goodwill-despite any existing stress or strain-and manage your emotions. 

Take the other side. 
Go ahead-argue the other person's point of view. You'll help people feel heard and understood, and get to the heart of collaboration. 

Own it. 
Resist the urge to point the finger when things go wrong. Identify your own contribution to the problem and make it public. 

Deny denial. 
Denying or downplaying difficulties is dishonest and demeaning. Address the truth of a situation-the cold, hard facts-and invite others to join you in moving forward. 

Confront cynicism. 
Beware the cynics, victims, and bystanders. Sure, they're everywhere in the workplace, but if you're clear on where you stand, you needn't pour your energies into winning them over-just invite them to make their own choices instead.

Deal with resistance. 
Turning a blind eye to resistance won't make it disappear. Learn to see it, 
call it out, and deal with it.

When a conversation takes a turn for the worse, stop and "process" what's happening. Admit you're at an impasse, make a good-faith statement, and
ask for help. 

Finally, stop playing the parent and taking responsibility for others' feelings.
Encourage everyone-co-workers, direct reports, and even the boss-to deal with their own emotions and let go of the childlike hope that somebody else will make
it "all better."


Roughly half of today's careerists-regardless of level or position-admit
to finding it difficult to have open, honest conversations at their company. 


How To Get Your Consumer Invention to Market©Guest

Guest post by Joan Lefkowitz
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog!

So you have an idea for an invention? What do you do now? The most successful hair accessory in history, the TopsyTail, made 100 million dollars. This did not happen by miracle or chance. The key was a well-conceived and executed plan. Following an informed approach will help you turn your invention into a bonanza of extra income.

Getting Started: 

The Ideabook
Keep a bound ideabook of your invention idea. Date your entries. Draw it. State what it is, how it’s done and for whose use? Examine possible variations. Add and define over time.

Get it Notarized
If your idea still seems brilliant after a month or two, get it officially confirmed that you conceived your invention idea on a particular date, and have your notes notarized. This may help if you, at some point, need to prove that you were ‘first to invent’ that idea.

Seek and Search
Do your own patent search to ascertain if your invention is original and prospectively patentable. Go on the internet to and study all patents in the product category of your invention to see if something like yours already exists. Better yet, use a professional patent searcher who will do a thorough search and may advise the patentability of your invention. Go to an inventor’s association, books on inventing, or websites such as, to find resources.

Create the Initial Prototype
Use simple materials to rig it up, to see if it works. Some of the most successful consumer inventions today started as pipe cleaner, coat hanger wire or foam rubber embryos.

Get Educated
Educate yourself on the inventing process. Go to a bookstore or and review the plethora of books written on the subject. From Patent to Profit by Bob De Matteis is particularly informative.

The Non-Disclosure Form
This is an Agreement signed between you and anyone you reveal your invention to. It states that the information and materials belong to you and cannot be used without your written permission. It allows you to show your invention to parties who might be helpful in bringing your product to market such as prototypers, product evaluation services, manufacturers, packaging designers, licensing agents and marketers. Variations of the Non-Disclosure form are easily accessible in invention books and on the web.

Moving Ahead

Analyze Costs to Produce
Ascertain what the costs will be. Research domestic and foreign resources. Add up all costs to manufacture a unit of your product. Include molds, packaging, naming and trademarking, promotion, marketing, distribution and mark-up. Seek sources through the Thomas Register, libraries, the yellow pages, the web, Chambers of Commerce, foreign trade bureaus and referrals.

The Evaluation Process
Analyze the benefits and features, strengths and weaknesses of your invention.
Can it have longevity in the marketplace?
Is its timing aligned with market trends? 
Research the size of the potential market. 
Identify your competition. Question why a retailer would buy your product if they can do business with experienced, multi-product, well financed suppliers, who may take back unsold products and replace them with ongoing new items? Visit the marketplace and talk with managers and consumers. If your product represents a significant improvement or simplification in the way that something is currently done, you have a better chance of breaking through to success.

Get a Professional Prototype
Have professional prototypes made, the quality of which can be shown to potential retail buyers. For sourcing suggestions, see ‘Analyze Costs to Produce’.

Protect Your Idea
Apply for a provisional patent yourself. This can be done by downloading the application from the patent office website: The provisional patent will secure patent pending status for the invention for one year during which time you must apply for a non-provisional patent, if desired, or lose the option to get the invention patented. Using a patent attorney to make the application for the provisional patent secures more complete specifications of the invention and lays the groundwork for an effective non-provisional patent application.

The Non-Provisional Patent
Your patent attorney files your non-provisional patent application. If the patent is rejected on examination by the patent office, as most are, the attorney will respond with revisions. This may reoccur several times before your patent is finally granted or rejected. This process can take up to two years. If a patent is issued it becomes your personal asset for twenty years. Like other assets, you can lease or sell it to earn income.

To Market, But How? 

The inventor has the choice to license the invention to a manufacturer in exchange for a royalty percentage in sales. Typically, an inventor can expect to receive royalties of between 3 to 7 percent of net sales. The most efficient way to secure a licensing agreement is to hire a licensing agent with expertise in the field of your invention. The licensing agent is conversant in the language and varieties of licensing agreements, can advise you on options and help negotiate the agreement. Licensing agents ordinarily charge between one-third and one-half of your royalty fees. Royalties are an excellent way to create supplementary income.

Manufacturing and distributing your invention entails higher financial risk but can reap greater profits. If you have the time, financing, manufacturing connections, a storage and distribution point, bookkeeping and legal skills or assistance, sales and marketing channels and mainly the desire to be your own boss; this may be the route for you. 
Teaming with specialists and hiring outside sales representatives to grow your business can create economies of scale. Successful manufacturing and distribution of a protected product can provide you with active income.