Thursday, December 19

Be Ready for the Holiday (Eating) Season

by JCC Staff

We are about midway through the winter holiday season, and there are still plenty of opportunities as well as plenty of pressure to indulge with food. 

It's not uncommon for people to experience weight fluctuations this time of year. Exercise routines are often disrupted by travel and other events while food portions typically increase and include more sweets.

All of this doesn't mean you have to experience an unhealthy holiday season. Here is some food for thought that can help you keep your weight in control.

Fine tune your appetite by asking yourself:
  • Am I really hungry? Many times we reach for food out of habit or boredom.
  • Can I make a better choice? Substitute fruits and vegetables for indulgent snacks.
  • Have I had enough water? Remember sometimes hunger can be mistaken for thirst. Reach for water first.

   Learn how to look at food in a different light.
  • Instead of a cookie exchange think non-food exchanges, crafts make time spent memorable.
  • Meet up with a friend for a walk or trip to the gym.
  • Volunteer your time serving food at a local community event.

    Have a game plan before you eat.
  • Make your dinner plate a salad plate. By eating a smaller size, you can easily save 150-300 calories.
  • Bring your own healthy dish to the party–this way you know you’ll have something healthy to eat.
  • If drinking alcoholic beverages, drink 8 ounces of water before and after each drink.
Note: This article includes references to A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain by Jack A. Yanovski, M.D., Ph.D., Susan Z. Yanovski, M.D., Kara N. Sovik, B.S., Tuc T. Nguyen, M.S., Patrick M. O’Neil, Ph.D., and Nancy G. Sebring, M.Ed., R.D.N.

Thursday, December 5

Exercise of the Month: December

by JCC Association and Club One

Inverted Rows on Bar & TRX

Target muscle groups: Mid traps, rhomboids, lats & biceps

Benefits: Strength & core stability

How to:  
• Lay on back under fixed horizontal bar or TRX straps
• Grasp bar or TRX straps with wide overhead grip
• Keep body straight, pull body up to bar or TRX straps
• Return until arms are extended and shoulders are stretched forward
• Repeat 8-12 times for 3 sets

Monday, November 25

Safe Holiday Eating

by Taylor Hughes

As we approach the holiday, it is important to make sure you know all the safety precautions for the food you plan to prepare.

Turkey Prep
There are three safe ways to thaw food: refrigerate, submerge in cold water, and microwave.

You must plan ahead if you are going to thaw your turkey in the fridge. Allow for approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds.

Submerging the turkey in cold water takes less time, however, you must change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is completely thawed.

Cold water thawing times:
4-12 pounds: 2-6 hours
12-16 pounds: 6-8 hours
20-24 pounds: 10-12 hours

For microwave thawing, follow the microwave’s instruction for defrosting. You must cook it immediately after it’s been thawed because it may become partially cooked.

Cooking Tips
Stuffing 101: For optimal safety, it is best to cook the stuffing separately. If you want cook your stuffing inside the turkey, be sure to place stuffing inside turkey just before cooking and make sure that it reaches a temperature of 165°.

Turkeys must be cooked in the oven at a temperature of at least 325°. Place the thawed turkey breast-side up in a roasting pan 2-2.5 inches deep. The internal temperature of the turkey must reach 165°.

Roasting times:
4-6 pounds: 1 ½ - 2 ¼ hours
6-8 pounds: 2 ¼ -3 ¼ hours
8-12 pounds: 2 ¾ - 3 hours
12-14 pounds: 3- 3 ¾ hours
18-20 pounds: 4 ¼ -4 ½ hours

20-24 pounds: 4 ½ -5 hours

Here's wishing you a happy, and healthy, Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 20

The Deceptive Barrenness of Late Fall

by Richard S. Kordesh

No matter how empty the garden in late fall might appear, there’s actually much to see. 

A row of hardy beets continues to grow in our raised bed. The variable temperatures characteristic of the season allow tougher root vegetables like these to endure beyond the time when most of the other plants have gone to rest.

Shrubs now dormant continue to shed their flaky offerings upon the late November ground. Red, green, yellow, and gold leaves cling to bushes and pear trees. More of them form a thin, colorful blanket on the turf. Soon, I’ll rake them into the compost bin where a quiet transformation over the colder months will yield nutrients for next summer’s cucumbers and tomatoes.

Inside the house, other gifts from the fall garden sit on a kitchen platter prior to their immersion in the simmering broth of a pot roast. This slow-cook recipe, taught to us by our friend, Tom, calls for carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, garlic, and parsnips. The first three have been harvested from our own beds and sacks.

At a nearby market, I’ve met some of the farmers whose crops end up on our table. The roast in its bubbling juices blends good things from varied sources: vegetables from our yard and regional farms, and know-how from our friends. Nearby yields infuse into an autumn meal distinctive aromas and flavors.

As we anticipate the approach of winter’s more barren landscape, we can savor and give thanks for the tasty, durable abundance afforded by our place.

Guest blogger Richard S. Kordesh is the author of Restoring Power to Parents and Places and has worked professionally in the community development field for 35 years. Visit Richard's website for more

Thursday, November 14

Workouts for your brain

by JCC Association and Club One

Your brain is like any muscle: you need to use it or you’ll lose it. 

Daily brain training challenges memory, attention, language, visual skills and executive function.

Try these tips – it’s not as hard as you think.

Helps maintain concentration despite distractions and focus on several activities at once. 

By changing routines, i.e. car routes or re-organizing your desk, you’ll force your brain to pay attention.

Executive FunctionActivities using logic, reasoning and strategy are activities you do daily. 

A brief visit with a friend boosts intellectual performance by requiring you to consider responses and desired outcomes.

Memory: Crucial role in cognitive activities, including reading, reasoning and mental calculation. 

Try memorizing something challenging or brush your teeth with the opposite hand. This builds new associations between different neural connections.

Language: Challenges our ability to recognize, remember and understand words. 

Take time to read new materials and understand words in context, this helps you build your language skills.

Visual: Analyzing visual information is necessary to be able to act within your environment. 

Try walking into a room and picking out 5 items with their location. After you leave, try to recall the 5 items.

Sources: Bernard Croisile, M.D. Neurology, Ph. D. Neuropsychology

Note: The information presented here is not a substitute for medical advice. Consult a physician before starting any exercise. We suggest that you discontinue exercise immediately if you feel you’re exercising beyond your current abilities.

Tuesday, November 5

Katz Festival: The first line of the parental job description

by John Schwartz

I’m really looking forward to this visit to Indianapolis, and to talking with everybody about Oddly Normal, our family memoir about raising a gay son. 

It leads to wonderful conversations with people who want to share their own stories about their own families. 

Oddly Normal isn’t a self-help book – I don’t think anybody would really find guidance in the crazy path that our lives have taken. But a good memoir doesn’t instruct, it leads us to reflect on the path we would take. 

And so that’s why I mention, at the beginning of the book, the only piece of parental guidance that ever rang perfectly true to me: the first words of Dr. Benjamin Spock’s 1946 masterpiece, Baby and Child Care, published in 1946. 

"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do," Spock writes. 

The rest is commentary, as the sage Hillel said. 

Parents and families raising a child who is different certainly can find themselves in unexpected and unusual situations, facing an unfamiliar landscape. 

But the job of parenting, the support of a family, is the same whatever it is that makes a child different – whether we’re talking about a child growing up gay, or with a learning disability, or being the heavy kid or the short kid or the kid on the autism spectrum. 

Loving our kids so they can learn to love themselves is the first line of the parental job description.
The rest is commentary.

Guest blogger John Schwartz is author of the book Oddly Normal and is set to appear as a featured speaker at the 15th Annual Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts.

Tuesday, October 29

Katz Festival: Data-dumping and remembering the past

by Dara Horn

Tell me if this has ever happened to you.

You celebrated something over the weekend—a child’s birthday, a friend’s wedding, an anniversary, a holiday—and you took some pictures. 

Or at least you thought you took “some” pictures. 

The only problem, as you discovered when you got home, was that “some” pictures turned out to be 487 pictures.

If you had taken 20, or even 80, you might have enjoyed glancing through them. But the mere thought of looking through 487 pictures turns reliving the past into something unpleasant, burdensome. You never look at them again.

In my novel, “A Guide for the Perplexed,” a software developer creates an app that records everything its users do. She is so successful that she’s invited all over the world, including to Egypt. When she takes that ill-fated invitation, she finds herself kidnapped in Egypt’s post-revolutionary chaos—and suddenly faced, in a dark and silent room, with what it really means to remember the past. That past includes the lives of Jewish data-dumpers who came before her.

In Cairo, a thriving Jewish community once stored 150,000 scraps of paper in a genizah—a “hiding place” in a 900-year-old synagogue where anything with Hebrew letters was tossed into a windowless room. The material they saved created a kind of medieval Facebook. But 100 years after its discovery, much of it has barely been read yet.

What is it about data-dumping that we find so compelling, then and now? Why do we aspire to save every moment of our lives—and now that we can, are we sure that we want to?

We’ll talk about this and my novel when I visit the Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.

Guest blogger Dara Horn is author of A Guide for the Perplexed and is set to appear as a featured speaker at the 15th Annual Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts.

Thursday, October 24

5 Tips to Provide Healthier Holiday Eating

by Katherine Matutes

The greatest number of heart attacks occurs on the same three days each year. 

According to a study published in the journal Circulation, you are most likely to die from a heart attack during the winter holidays. 

The highest number of fatal heart attacks occurs on Dec. 25, second highest on Dec. 26, and third highest on Jan. 1. 

Why? Overindulgence is one key factor. 

The increased incidence of fatal heart attacks is directly related to the increase in fat consumption. High fat intake places a burden on the metabolic system, which results in an increase in circulating serum fats – a primary trigger for clogging arteries. 

A recent highly publicized victim of this phenomenon is the actor James Gandolfini, who died of a heart attack at age 51 while on vacation after consuming meals laden with fat and alcohol.
How can you help your family eat healthier during the holidays?  Below are a few tips to still enjoy your favorite holiday meals but keep them on the healthier side. 
  1. Discourage second helpings – don’t serve your meal with extra helpings readily available on the table. Instead, serve from a buffet or plate up servings individually (an added bonus - you’ll use less dishes).
  2. Create a meal plan that is composed mostly of fruits and vegetables.
  3. Use smaller plates, studies indicate that we consume more when we use larger plates (a good excuse to break out your vintage dinnerware -it will likely have a smaller diameter).
  4. Reduce the amount of high fat items that your serve choosing lower fat substitutes -use milk in place of cream, drain excess fat from pan drippings used in gravy, offer more fruit and vegetables and less cheeses for appetizers.
  5. Plate up dessert in small portions and serve them buffet style instead of allowing guests to cut their own portion.
For more in depth cooking ideas, attend the JCC’s Happy, Healthy Holiday Cooking Classes Tuesday 5th, 12th and 19th in November 6:30-7:30PM.

More About Katherine Matutes, PhD

Tuesday, October 22

Katz Festival: I Say Tomatoes

by Miriam Rubin

Tomato wasn't one of my first words. 

My sister's first word was chocolate, but I imagine I said "tomato" fairly soon after I began appreciating food. 

It was love at first bite. 

Aptly, another name for tomatoes is Love Apples.

Heirlooms weren't yet a concept when I was a child, but even then, I craved only full-flavored tomatoes. In season, sun-ripened, firm-textured. 

A favorite summer lunch was a version of the classic Southern tomato sandwich. My way: toasted challah, Hellmann's, sliced olives and juicy, ripe tomatoes. 

These days, in my garden in southwestern Pennsylvania, I grow many vegetables, but tomatoes are my passion. 

This year, I grew 22 different varieties. They're what I wait for. Why I wrote my book. 

I'm thrilled to be meeting with you to talk about tomatoes. The JCC Cooking Committee is preparing scrumptious tomato dishes for sampling: Matbucha, Edna Lewis' Baked Tomatoes with Crusty Bread and Spiced Green Tomato Crumb Cake. As part of my presentation, I'll prepare Ginger Tomatoes.

Tomato season is well past. With sadness, I pulled up the last plants weeks ago. Cooler temps approach, light snow and killing frost threaten, but now it's bright and sunny. 

I've harvested all the lettuce, some chard and the last of the cilantro. My garden is ending, but it couldn't be a prettier time to appreciate what's still there.

Some of summer is preserved in jars. But mostly, the tomatoes I'm cooking with are canned. There's next season to ponder, garlic to plant in a couple weeks. Gardeners always look forward.

Thanks for inviting me to Indianapolis. I look forward to sharing tomato love and lore on November 3 as part of the Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts.

Guest blogger Miriam Rubin is the author of Tomatoes: A Savor the South Cookbook and is set to appear as a featured speaker at the 15th annual Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts.