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Culinary Conversation: Drinking your full eight cups a day helps maintain good health

Published 10:19am Tuesday, September 1, 2009

For many years, physicians have been advising us to drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water daily … in order to maintain good health. This suggestion certainly does not sound “far fetched” since our everyday environments seem custom designed to leave us feeling rather “parched.” Considering the fact that we are living in a state of low humidity, air conditioning and our cars and public transportation usually have temperature controlled air that can often be a lot drier than it needs to be for comfort … we are usually ingesting much less water than we are losing.

It actually takes a surprisingly little amount of fluid loss, only 1-2 percent of the body’s total water content, to cause dehydration. Every day an average person loses at least two cups of water just through the simple act of breathing. Another two cups through invisible perspiration, and six cups through daily eliminations. That, right there is a total of 10 cups.

In addition to this, there can be other factors that contribute to water loss. How about those carbonated beverages and others that act as diuretics?  These can cause you to lose invisible perspiration and to empty your bladder more frequently, and additional moisture evaporates as you sweat during exercise or hard physical labor. Of course, we cannot forget that we do have something on the intake side that we have not yet mentioned. Many foods contain large amounts of water; you’ll get approximately 3 1/2 cups of fluid from just the food you eat during a typical day. Plus, the body itself does a modest amount of water recycling. As you burn energy, one of the byproducts of your metabolic processes is water, almost 1/2 cup. Now figure it out: Since you lose 10 cups of water daily, and gain about four from food and metabolism; does it not seem obvious that you need to ingest at least six cups daily just to stay on an even keel?

Now, if you up that a couple of cups to eight, as recommended, you are even better off still. Just bear in mind that getting your fill of liquids is more than just an energy preserver, it is also a fat burner.  Many of us even mistakenly perceive our thirst drive as hunger and eat high fat snacks when we are actually thirsty, not hungry. A good way that you can distinguish between the two is to drink a glass of ice cold water when you feel hungry, then wait a few minutes. You might find that you’re no longer hungry at all. But if you are, then go ahead and partake of a light snack. Just remember that the important thing is that you feed your body’s real thirst and hunger and feed them appropriately, drinking water when you’re really thirsty and eating food when you are actually hungry.

When you drink plenty of water throughout the day, this can be the number one way to head off those food cravings and reduce appetite. There is also some evidence to suggest that the chillier the beverage, the greater is its fat burning power. These findings would seem to apply to both men and women. If you fail to drink enough water during the day, then your body’s reaction is to retain the water that it does have and this in return can hamper kidney function, and waste products accumulate. Then, your liver is called upon to flush out impurities. As a result, one of your liver’s main functions is minimized: metabolizing stored fat into usable energy. By drinking the necessary daily amount of water, you are helping to decrease fatigue.

Lasagna

1 pound ground chuck
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
dash garlic salt
1 – 12 ounce container tomato paste
2 eggs
24 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
1 – 15 ounce carton ricotta cheese
14 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1 – 28 ounce can tomatoes with juice
1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown your ground chuck (together with the onions in a large pan; then drain the fat. Add sugar, oregano, and salt, red pepper, thyme, garlic, bay leaf, salt, tomatoes and tomato paste. Heat to a boil, while stirring occasionally. Discard the bay leaf, and then arrange just half of the lasagna mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 9×13 inch-baking dish. Overlap the noodles to make them fit. Then mix together both of the eggs along with the ricotta cheese. Spoon half of this cheese mixture over your noodles, and cover with a third of the mozzarella cheese. Top with half the sauce, then repeat the layers. Slide into the oven, uncovered and let bake for 35 minutes, remove it from the oven, top with the remainder of the mozzarella cheese and bake for 10 minutes more.

Timely Trivia: Did you know that the original mozzarella cheese was made in Italy using only buffalo milk? Eventually they came to use the milk from cows.

Homemaker’s Hint: Did you know that even though you are eating nonfat food, the calories can increase rapidly if you eat fast or go back for a second or third helping?

** All it takes are some nice, sunny, warm days as we have been having, to prompt us to heat up the grill for some:

Barbecued Chicken

2 – 2 1/2 to 3 pound chickens
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper as desired

Combine the vinegar, barbecue sauce, salt pepper and oil in a saucepan; bring this mixture to a boil over a medium heat. Be sure to stir it occasionally while it is cooking for two or three minutes. Now, set this aside and turn your attention to the chicken. Place the chicken, skin side up, on the grill. Grill it over medium hot coals for approximately 15 minutes. Then, remove each chicken quarter and proceed to dip them into your barbecue sauce. Quickly return the dipped chicken to the hot grill and cook for approximately 40 minutes or until it tests tender. Do not fail to baste it with the barbecue sauce mixture every 10 minutes while it is cooking.

A touch of Levity: Have you ever noticed that fun is a good deal like life insurance, for the older you get … the more it costs.

Cocktail Sauce

1 1/2 cups chili sauce
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup vinegar
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped celery
2 teaspoons sugar
4 drops Tabasco sauce

Blend ingredients until smooth; cover and refrigerate overnight. (Note: this sauce can be kept safely for several weeks if refrigerated; it is delicious with any cold seafood and yields over three cups.)

Timely Trivia: Thirty years ago, no one had ever even heard of plastic garbage bags, so usually regular brown paper bags were used in our trash cans.

**For the reader questioning the definition of “Quinoa”, I am told it is a chewy, nutty tasting grain that is packed with protein, Lysine (an amino acid that helps tissues grow and repair themselves) and blood building iron. Many refer to this as the super grain of the future.

Butterscotch Cheesecake

1 – 12 ounce package butterscotch chips
1 – 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 – 14 ounce can condensed cream
1 cup chopped nuts, of your choice
1 egg
1/3 cup butter

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Melt together the butterscotch chips and the butter. Stir the crumbs and nuts into this then press just half of the resulting mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch pan, and set aside. Beat the cheese until it becomes fluffy, then beat in the milk, extract and egg and beat until mixture is smooth. Pour this into your prepared crust, dot with any remaining crumb mixture. Place into oven and bake for 25-30 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the filling. Cake will be done when toothpick comes out clean. Allow cooling for a while on the countertop, then chill in the refrigerator.

** Goodness consists not in the outward things that we do, but in the inward thing that we are.

Homemaker’s Hint: Did you know that even the most excellent vacuum cleaners would not necessarily capture all of the dust and debris. Some of the waste does get blown around, and some of it can even be veered back into the room through the exhaust port; but the particles most likely to escape filtration are miniscule.

Grasshoppers

4 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup butter, melted

Frosting:
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 drops green food coloring
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1-2 tablespoons milk
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then grease and flour an 11×17-inch pan. Beat the eggs and sugar together until thickened, then add the cocoa, flour and extract. Gradually stir in the butter. Pour mixture into your prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes. Avoid overbaking and cool completely. For the frosting, cream the confectioner’s sugar, butter, food coloring and extract together. Add a bit of milk to make it spread-able, then spread it evenly over the cooled cake. Melt the chocolate and the butter together in the top of your double boiler. Carefully brush this over the frosted cake, then place into the refrigerator to harden. Cut into 1×2-inch bars.

**Have you ever happened to notice how other people’s faults are so much more obvious than our own?

**For the reader who mislaid the cheese dip recipe I had given her, I believe that it might have been this one:

Cheddar Cheese Dip

1 1/2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese
8 strips bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
6-8 tablespoons finely chopped onions
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons Miracle Whip
dash Tabasco sauce

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Combine just the first 6 ingredients and blend them together well, then place into your baking dish. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 20 minutes until the mixture becomes bubbly.

A touch of levity: Quite soon after our last child left home for college, my husband happened to be resting next to me on the couch with his head on my lap. I very carefully removed his glasses. “You know, honey,” I said sweetly, “without your glasses you look like the same handsome young man I married.” “Honey,” he replied with a grin, “without my glasses, you still look pretty good too!”

((Although it seems too early in the season to even think about it, I have heard some news commentators discussing flu symptoms that we should be watching out for. Unfortunately, even though modern man has discovered how we can send a man to the moon and back; our news commentators tell us that they have not yet found a preventative cure for the yearly flu virus. The only thing that they have proven to date, is the fact that stress is a factor in vulnerability. Stress hormones depress immunity. They do state for a fact, however, that stress can increase vulnerability … so we need to sleep well and eat well in order to de-stress. There is nothing in the world like plenty of sleep and good nutrition to recharge our immune system. I personally feel that you cannot ever wash your hands too much. There are even small alcohol based hand sanitizers that fit in your purse or pocket. If you feel the symptoms, (exhaustion, fever, cough, body aches, etc.) then phone your doctor for there are flu stopping anti-viral drugs that can help ease your misery and perhaps even shorten your recovery time. These drugs, however, must be started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Sleep well, eat well, de-stress; if you hope to “out-wit” that flu bug this year!

**Always remember that life’s journey is never totally smooth!

Culinary Conversation encourages reader’s recipe contributions and requests, helpful hints and timely trivia. Simply phone them to (269) 683-7266 or mail them to 527 Philip Rd. Thank you!

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