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Mood Control - Food, Neurotransmitters And Reclaiming Your Calm

You and I know that we can't always control what happens in our lives, but we can control how we respond to them. What happens however when your having a bad week, your peri-menopausal or pre-menstrual? Well science might have an answer.

Let me introduce you to the world of brain chemistry and a powerful group of natural chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. The communication network in your brain is a multi-trillion maze of connections capable of performing 20 million-billion calculations per second. Yes, I did say 20 billion!

How does this intricate network operate? Well there are three major players:

  • Neurons, which power the message,
  • Neurotransmitters, which create the message and
  • Receptors, which receive the message.

In simple words, a neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger released from one nerve cell which finds its way to another nerve cell where it influences a particular chemical reaction to occur. Neurotransmitters control major body functions including movement, emotional response, and our physical ability to experience pleasure and pain.

Neurotransmitters also set in motion specific functions within our body and our nervous system. These transmitters can create and control a range of feelings, moods and even thoughts - everything from depression, anxiety and addiction, to feelings of self-confidence, to high or low self-esteem, the competitive spirit and can even affect our deep sleep.

A neurotransmitter imbalance can cause Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, irritable bowel, hormone dysfunction, eating disorders, Fibromyalgia, obsessions, compulsions, adrenal dysfunction, chronic pain, migraine headaches, and even early death. Scientific and medical research indicates that our brains use more than 35 different neurotransmitters, some of these we can control and some we can't.

It appears, however, that we can control five of the major neurotransmitters with exercise and nutrition, and with our thoughts and behaviours.

Most neurotransmitters are made from amino acids obtained from the protein in food you consume. Two of the most important neurotransmitters are serotonin and dopamine, sometimes called the 'happy' drugs. They seem to play a leading role in determining our moods and thoughts.

Dopamine, fuel for enthusiasm and motivation

The brain uses dopamine to stimulate arousal, alertness, awareness and our competitive spirit (a form of mild aggression). Dopamine is also essential for coordinated muscle movement.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter needed for healthy assertiveness and sexual arousal, proper immune and autonomic nervous system function. Dopamine is important for motivation and a sense of readiness to meet life's challenges.

One of the most vulnerable key neurotransmitters, dopamine levels are depleted by stress or poor sleep. Alcohol, caffeine, and sugar also seem to diminish dopamine activity in the brain. It's easily oxidized, therefore we need to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables whose antioxidants help protect dopamine-using neurons from free radical damage.

Dopamine is made from the amino acid tyrosine. Once produced, dopamine can, in turn, convert into the brain chemicals norepinephrine and epinephrine.

Low levels of dopamine can cause depression, a lack of energy, an excessive need for sleep, and can even make you withdraw from everyday events, such as going to work or wanting to be with people.

Dopamine is a building block for the production of adrenaline, which stimulates us into action if we are frightened or anxious. These natural drugs are also necessary for us to be competitive, especially in highly- competitive sports, business and corporate life.

Boost your alertness with protein. Without going into the detailed chemistry of the brain, small amounts (100-to-150 grams) of protein-rich food will elevate dopamine levels and have significant effects on your moods and brain functions. The effects can be felt within 10-to-30 minutes. Protein foods are broken down into their amino acid building blocks during digestion. One amino acid, called tyrosine, will increase the production of dopamine, nor epinephrine and epinephrine. These neurotransmitters are known for their ability to increase levels of alertness and energy. No one eats pure tyrosine, but eating foods high in protein will give you a slight mental boost. High protein foods include fish, poultry, meat, and eggs. If you can't eat those, try high protein foods that also contain significant amount of carbohydrates, such as legumes, cheese, milk, or tofu.

Many of us eat a high carbohydrate breakfast as cereals have become the common form of morning meal. One of my friends is a highly respected bio-pharmacist and it is his opinion that breakfast is the time of day for eating a high protein meal.

Serotonin, reclaiming your calm

Serotonin is the calming neurotransmitter important to the maintenance of good mood, feelings of contentment and is responsible for normal sleep. In addition to the central nervous system, serotonin is also found in the walls of the intestine (the enteric nervous system) and in platelet cells that promote blood clotting.

Serotonin plays an important role in regulating memory, learning, and blood pressure, as well as appetite and body temperature. Low serotonin levels produce insomnia and depression, aggressive behavior, increased sensitivity to pain, and is associated with obsessive-compulsive eating disorders.

This neurotransmitter also helps the brain focus, heightening your concentration levels.

Low levels of serotonin can create anxiety, a feeling of insecurity, anger, fear, depression, and can even induce suicidal thoughts. Now have you ever wondered why you eat more in winter? It has a lot to do with your level of serotonin, or your lack of it and a condition called appropriately enough S.A.D. or Seasonal Affected Disorder.

With the lack of sunlight in winter, the body produces higher levels of a hormone called melatonin, which consumes your serotonin. Research has shown that when this happens, the body craves carbohydrates, which produce serotonin and makes us feel good. This is when we crave those comfort foods such as biscuits, pizza or chocolate!

Eating carbohydrates will trigger the release of insulin into the blood stream. Insulin goes about clearing all the amino acids out of the blood, with the exception of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that normally gets crowded out by other amino acids in its attempt to cross the blood brain barrier, but when its competitors are out of the way, it enters the brain. Once in the brain, the tryptophan is converted to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has the effect of reducing pain, decreasing appetite, and producing a sense of calm, and in too large a quantity, inducing sleep. Research has shown that dieters tend to become depressed about two weeks into a diet, about the time their serotonin levels have dropped due to decreased carbohydrate intake.

In summer sunlight reduces your production of melatonin, the serotonin eater and therefore it is easier to diet in summer. Summer makes us feel great and this theory could explain why people head for the sun during winter.

This gave me a clue as to why I became a carbohydrate addict - the more carbohydrates I ate the more serotonin I produced and like any drug addict I craved more and more carbs to get a higher and higher kick of the 'feel goods'. The result was that I became fat, even though I went to the gym four or five times a week! My energy levels dropped, I was constantly tired and became extremely difficult to live with. I didn't want to go to the gym. I was overdosing on carbohydrates which leads to a another hormonal disorder called insulin resistance.

Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan in the presence of adequate vitamins B1, B3, B6, and folic acid. The best food sources of tryptophan include brown rice, cottage cheese, meat, peanuts, and sesame seeds. Choline is another B complex vitamin that that is concentrated in high cholesterol foods like eggs and liver. A lack of choline can cause impairment of memory and concentration. Choline is a precursor to the brain neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is linked to memory. People given drugs that block acetylcholine flunk memory tests. Low levels of acetylcholine have been linked to Alzheimer's disease and poor memory. What a good excuse to put eggs back on your diet plan!

How You Can Control the Natural 'happy drugs'.

Being balanced is the answer, not too much or too little of anything. Excessive protein or carbohydrates over time will eventually have side effects that will affect how you feel and behave at work and at home.

Eating certain food and exercising at the right level, at the right time for your lifestyle is a keystone to controlling your moods and generating feelings of happiness and relaxation.

If you are a professional athlete, you require a different approach to control your neurotransmitters to a teacher, a taxi driver or a CEO. Also, every person's body chemistry is different and needs to be taken into account. I recommend you consult a nutritionist who understands how food and neurotransmitters work to meet your health needs and lifestyle.

There's a lot more to brain chemistry, mood control and peak performance, but that's food for another article.


Small amounts (100-to-150g) of protein-rich food will elevate dopamine levels and have significant effects on your moods and brain functions. That's why many nutritionists recommend a little protein with your breakfast. It boosts your energy and gives you that rush to seize the day.

A List of Ways to Control Neurotransmitters

Some proteins that affect dopamine levels are:
  • Fish such as salmon, unprocessed tuna, and flounder.
  • Chicken without the skin, eggs and turkey.
  • Small amounts of red meat.
  • Beans, such chickpeas and lentils.
  • Aerobic exercise and dopamine levels

    If you need to temporarily reduce your levels of dopamine to relax, non-competitive (why non-competitive? competition raises levels of dopamine) aerobic exercise could help such as:

    • Running and walking for effective health benefits.
    • Skipping.
    • Rowing at the gym.
    • Vigorous cycling at the gym or on a home exercise bike.
    Some carbohydrates that affect serotonin levels
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, oats, and corn.
  • Good quality breads, pasta and bagels.
  • Vegetables such as potatoes and squash.
  • Simple sugar.
  • Exercise and serotonin

    To control the Serotonin you need less vigorous exercise such as:

    • Strolling in the park or along your favourite beach.
    • Gentle cycling along a river bank or flat bike paths.
    • Stretching exercises.
    • Gentle Yoga.
    • Reading.
    • Listening to music.
    • Meditation and even prayer (The best type of prayer to control serotonin levels is a prayer of gratitude).

    Egg in the Hole With Mexican Cheese and Fire-Roasted Chiles

    Egg in the Hole is comfort food, no doubt about it. This simple fare comforts kids, parents, and grandparents alike. If you've never had this homey dish you're in for a treat. You may ask yourself, "How can something so simple taste so darned good?"

    When my daughters were little I fixed this recipe for them and they gobbled it up like candy. Though this is an old recipe, known across the country, its popularity has never waned. Maybe that's because you have the ingredients on hand -- bread, butter, and eggs.

    You may know this recipe by other names. According to Ree Drummond's website (she calls herself the pioneer woman) it is also called Egg in a Basket, Bird's Nest Egg, Frog in a Hole, Toad in a Hole, and of all things, Pop Eyes. She started making it at her husband's request (his grandmother fixed it for him) and has grown to love it. One Internet website calls the recipe Egg in a Boat and there are probably other names as well.

    My tattered copy of the Good Housekeeping Cookbook, published in 1955, contains a recipe called Picture Frame Eggs. The old recipe is still tasty, but health-conscious cooks are lightening it. Everyday Food magazine, for example, published a version called Bell Pepper Egg in a Hole, which uses a ring of red pepper instead of bread.

    Aida Mollenkamp, on her television program, "Ask Aida," prepared a recipe that is a cross between Egg in the Hole and a grilled cheese sandwich. She added Canadian bacon to her version.

    Kraft Foods has developed its own recipe, Toad-in-the-Hole Bake. Apparently baking the sandwiches reduces the number of calories. Each serving, according to Kraft, contains 310 calories.

    My recipe for Egg in the Hole with Mexican Cheese and Fire-Roasted Chiles combines the best of all of the above recipes. I bought mild chiles, but if you want to start the day with a bang, you may buy hotter ones. Choose the bread you like best -- white, sourdough, rye, whole wheat, cracked wheat, or mixed grain. If the bread starts to brown too quickly, cover the sandwiches with non-stick foil until the eggs are done.


    8 slices of bread

    Soft butter or margarine

    8 large eggs

    7-ounce package Mexican taco cheese, made with 2% milk

    4-ounce can fire-roasted green chilies, drained well

    Salt and pepper to taste (may be omitted)


    Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a rimmed cookie sheet with baking spray. Spread four slices of bread with butter or margarine. Place on cookie sheet, buttered side down. Put some Mexican taco cheese on each slice. Using a fork, place a few chiles on each sandwich. (You won't need the entire can.) Using a biscuit cutter, cut holes in the remaining slices of bread and spread with butter. Butter the circles, too, and sprinkle them with cheese. Set circles on baking sheet. Top each sandwich with a cut-out slice of bread. Crack an egg into each hole, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the cheese is golden brown and the yolks are set. Makes four servings.

    Copyright 2012 by Harriet Hodgson

    Cheese and Wine Gift Baskets

    The phrase "joie de vivre" in French means "joy of life or living" and one way they practice this is by enjoying a open air luncheon. On any day of the week you will see loaves of fresh baked bread, bottles of French wine and cheese baskets being carried through one of the many parks in France.

    But selecting a French cheese and wine gift basket is not your only choice; there are many different types of wine that can be used to issue your invitation to relaxation and fun. Wine and cheese gift baskets are the perfect combination of two age-old treats that are wonderful alone and even better when they are enjoyed together. The universal appeal of these two items is the reason that people choose wine and cheese gift baskets to celebrate life's special moments.

    Personalizing a wedding or anniversary gift is easy when you choose a wine and cheese gift basket; you can select all of their favorite food specialties. In addition to wine and cheese, there are nuts, fruits, chocolates, biscuits and for the heartier appetite, meats, poultry and seafood delicacies. Your ability to customize your selection of a wine and cheese gift basket gives you an advantage and makes this the one gift that is sure to be appreciated by almost everyone who enjoys wine.

    The numerous varieties of cheese is easily matched by the numerous types of wine, and anyone who has had the pleasure of tasting how the flavors of wine and cheese compliment each other will tell you that it takes you one step closer to heaven. But if you need proof, the enduring popularity of this combination speaks for itself.

    Of course, the key to success in creating a wine and cheese gift basket is selecting the appropriate ingredients; every wine and cheese has its best match. The first thing to remember is that wines and cheeses from the same country or region usually compliment each other well; acidic wines usually go well with acidic cheese. Here are a few tips to pairing cheese and wine:

    · Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel wine with the Blue cheese varieties is ideal.

    · White wines like Chardonnay or Pinot Noir enhance Brie cheese.

    · For Cheddar cheese lovers, a Merlot or Riesling wine will add a pleasing flavor.

    · Roquefort cheese is delicious with Port wine.

    · The flavor of Swiss cheese is enhanced by Sauvignon Blanc wine.

    · Gouda cheese paired with Riesling or Zinfandel wine is a wonderful taste treat.

    · Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc are the favored wines for Monterey Jack cheese.

    You should keep in mind that both wine and cheese varieties come in many different levels of quality which will affect the price. On the average you can expect to find good quality wine and cheese gift baskets within the $25 to $300 range depending on the type and number of items you select; one bottle of rare wine can cost hundreds of dollars.

    Deciding which items to use that will compliment your wine gift basket is not limited to food items; stemware, wine accessories and music CDs are often included to make the occasion more memorable. Your wine lover will know you care if you keep their favorites in mind as you make your selections.

    Food Gift Basket Ideas for Family Gatherings

    Make this year's family reunion memorable by giving cheese and sausage gift baskets and other goodies to everyone. It is best to give relatives gifts which remind them of gatherings, especially for families which rarely see each other every year. Below are some tips on how you can make your gifts very special:

    Think of food items that your relatives would surely love. Find out what their favorites are, or what their children usually eat. If there are more kids in the family, include candies and healthy treats. Are they fond of eating meat? Do they love sharing pizza at home? If so, you might as well give them meat and cheese gift baskets to enjoy. If you have plenty of time to prepare, determine what each family's favorites are, and prepare different gift baskets suited to each of them.

    When you choose goodies to put in the basket, consider buying nutritious food items. Include vegetables or fruits, or organic snacks that everyone would surely love. Remember that you will be handing the fruit baskets to people are dear to you, so you might as well give them healthy goodies. You can also make fruit and vegetable preserves for them. This way, you are certain that what you give them are safe and organic.

    Giving them no-cook food items is also a great idea. Weekdays might be very hectic to your relatives. Hence, they may have no time to cook and prepare meals. Put snacks or goods in the basket that do not need too much cooking such as no cook cereals, healthy canned fruit, and vegetables, non-fat cookies, and biscuits. Include home-made dips and spreads, so your nieces and nephews would enjoy eating bread and healthy salads at home.

    Be creative in decorating your food baskets. Base your decorations on this year's family reunion. Put ribbons on cookie jars or candy containers to make them look more colorful and attractive. Do not forget to label the baskets-put names of the families whom you are giving the gift baskets to. This way, they'll appreciate them more and feel you exerted much effort in preparing such food items for them.

    Put your food items in reusable containers so your relatives will have something to use for food storage. Plastic reusable containers are very affordable and perfect for giveaways. If for example you have decided to give meat and cheese gift baskets for everybody, make sure that the meat and blocks of cheese are contained and sealed in lightweight reusable plastics.

    Food Ideas and Food Party Planning

    If you are going to hold a party, food is the most important thing that we need to consider. It is also important because this is what the guests are looking forward to. You want to satisfy the taste buds of your guests and accommodate them with special drinks. The need to be aware of the kind of party and the age group of your visitors is very important. It really matters a lot because adults' party food is far different from children party food. You need to consider cooking or preparing foods that suits to their ages. Offer foods that are healthy and nutritious.

    You can present food like pizza slices, vegetable dips, sausages, scotch eggs, sandwiches, chicken wings, crisps and cheese pineapple sticks to a children party. Sweet foods like ice cream, biscuits, and chocolate cornflakes are also good. Serve food that you think your guests would really finish to avoid it to be wasted. Drinks must also be considered. You can have fruit shake, fruit smoothies and fruit juices and other friendly drinks.

    When you want to conduct this kind of social gathering, you should not only be aware to your foods but also to consider your guests health problems, most especially to the children because they do not usually mind what they eat. To make them safe you can ask their parents what kinds of food activate their allergies.

    If your guests are adults, and you are conducting a bachelor party with a wild theme, they probably would love to have drinks like wines and beers. They also would love greasy foods like pizza and fried chicken. But other people have different choices, which mean to say that preparing food depends on what kind of party is being held.

    Those are some of the party ideas you should always remember when conducting one. You can also search other important information about party ideas in the internet. This will ensure you to really entertain your guests and for all of you to have fun.

    I Love Italian Wine and Food-Amarone and Friends

    This article reviews a fine, distinctive Italian red wine and its more pedestrian cousins. I look at several food pairings. Was it a bargain?

    I have a confession to make. I really thought that I had finished our series I Love Italian Wine and Food, and even wrote two articles drawing conclusions, one for the red wines and one for the white wines. And then I was tempted by a bottle of Amarone, a specially made wine from the Veneto region of northern Italy. Why not do one last wine for the series? Of course there are still Italian wines to taste and to retaste. But for the time being I am moving on to French and German wines and will be launching two series I Love French Wine and Food, and I Love German Wine and Food. But first let's talk about Amarone and its less distinctive cousins; Valopicella, Valpolicella Ripasso, and Valopolicella Recioto.

    Valpolicella (DOC) is usually nothing to write home about, although some producers are said to be better than others. This deep maroon, light-bodied wine comes from the area near Verona in eastern Veneto. It contains 10% to 12% alcohol and often tastes of cooked cherries. Valpolicella is made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes and sometimes other grapes native to the region.

    Valpolicella Ripasso is made from young Valpolicella wine put into tanks or barrels containing the lees (one could say dregs, but that might give the wrong impression) of a recioto wine (see below). The mixture undergoes a secondary fermentation and becomes a more interesting wine. In spite of its higher quality, this wine may no longer carry the Valpolicella appellation and is usually sold as a table wine.

    Valpolicella Recioto is made from passito grapes, those dried on mats for several months. It may be a still wine, a fizzy wine, or a sparkling wine. Valpolicella Recioto is sweet or bittersweet.

    Amarone DOC is a type of Valpolicella Recioto whose sugar has been completely transformed into alcohol becoming a powerful tasting wine that packs a punch and ages well. What a difference between Amarone and its source wine, Valipolcella.

    Wine Reviewed Farina Amarone della Valolicella Classico DOC 2001 15% alcohol about $30

    Let's start by quoting the back label. This wine originated from different clones of Corvine, Rondinella, Molinara, Negrara, and Dindarella, cultivated in our own vineyards on the hills north of Verona. The grapes were harvested in late September and spread out on trays for about 4 months to evaporate their moisture and concentrate their sugar. Fermentation started in early February and continued slowly for about 2 months. After settling, the wine matured for 3 years in Slavonian oak barrels of 5 and 10 hectolitres.

    Given the wine's power in part due to its higher alcohol content, I was able to taste it with more dishes than usual. Here are my comments.

    The first meal consisted of slow cooked chicken legs in a honey and garlic sauce. The Amarone was multilayered and complex. It was very long. The black cherry taste of the underlying Valpolicella was still there. The wine was quite powerful but did not overpower the meat. I think it would have overpowered most chicken breast dishes. The wine handled the meat's grease well. It was great with a dessert of thin biscuits containing almonds and pistachios.

    The next meal consisted of whole wheat spaghetti with a commercial Arrabbiata sauce that was not very spicy. The sauce, which wasn't very tasty, did a fine job of bringing out the wine's fruit. Amarone is known to pair well with Parmesan cheese, but the grated Parmesan cheese on the spaghetti sauce was lost in the shuffle. This wine became softer in the presence of high-quality butter cookies. It was excellent, but I felt wasted on the cookies. I finished the meal with a bit of Amarone on its own. The wine was not as intense as I expected.

    The next meal included slow-cooked boneless beef ribs and potatoes with caponata, an eggplant and tomato dish. The wine was very long and fruity, tasting in particular of black fruits, tobacco, and leather. At one point I put too much horseradish mustard on the meat, but the Amarone handled this potential problem very well. On the other hand, the Amarone was flat with dessert, a chocolaty pecan pie.

    Saint Aubin is a French soft cow's milk cheese with a natural rind. It has a creamy texture and a soft taste. The Amarone-Saint Aubin marriage was not made in heaven; the cheese gave the wine a flat taste.

    Bel Paese is a mild, buttery cheese from the Lombardy region of northern Italy. This pale, creamy yellow cheese is made from cow's milk and matures within six to eight weeks. Critics suggest pairing Bel Paese cheese with fruity wines. The Amarone-Bel Paese combination was better than the Amarone-Saint Aubin pairing but didn't really make sense, even though the cheese brought out the wine's fruit. By the way, when I finished the glass of wine on its own, the wine wasn't as good as it was on its own or after a more appropriate pairing.

    Before giving my final verdict, I like to state that I don't blame the Amarone for not faring so well with inappropriate pairings. I regret that I didn't have any ungrated Parmesan cheese to accompany it. I was somewhat disappointed with this wine. I expected more; having tasted better, albeit more expensive Amarones. Amarone della Valpolicella will return to my wine glass, but the next stops are France and Germany for the series I Love French Wine and Food and I Love German Wine and Food.

    Propylene Glycol for Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics

    Propylene glycol is a popular ingredient for food because of its versatility and its extremely low toxicity. As a matter of fact, the US Food and Drugs Agency (FDA) approve it as an ingredient for human and animal consumption. Listed below are some of its special properties:


    A humectant absorbs and retains water to keep products from drying out. To lengthen shelf life, the sweet alcohol is added to chewing gums, mints, dog food, biscuits, and candies. Snacks that are exposed for too long can now maintain their moisture.


    An emulsifier stabilizes a mixture by binding two or more liquids that are normally immiscible. It forms a layer around oils contained in a mixture in order to keep them from gathering in clumps. Oils are dispersed into droplets, and the process preserves the mixture in turn. Soft drinks and mayonnaise take advantage of this property when propylene glycol is added.

    Solvent Carrier

    Some ingredients need a vehicle to be active in a mixture. Propylene glycol is a suitable carrier because of its neutral nature. It carries flavors and colors that give food their unique appearances and tastes. It also stabilizes beer, salad dressings, and pre-made pastries.

    Thickening Agent

    A thickener increases a product's viscosity or bulk without modifying substantially its other properties. This is very important especially with food as the additive should not in any way affect its taste or aroma. Propylene glycol adds the desired volume for cheeses, ice cream, and yogurt.

    Although it is popular as a food ingredient, the organic glycol has also found its way to different health-sensitive applications in which moisture is a concern.

    Cosmetic and Toiletries:

    The food grade glycol is one of the most chosen additives for cosmetic products. It provides lipsticks with its consistent texture, preserves the consistency of oil-in-water emulsions, provides fixative for perfume scents, and enhances the foaming ability of shower gels.

    Animal feeds:

    Because this alcohol absorbs moisture, it also keeps animal feeds moist, fresh, and chewy. This makes it easy for dogs and livestock animals to digest the food. This is even useful during winter as it helps feed reduce its freezing point and preserve for sustained periods. So even at sub-zero temperatures, the feed is still viable for eating. Propylene glycol is also an available energy source.


    For drugs to be potent, the active ingredients should be homogenized in a solution and still be effective upon application. Propylene glycol's main function is to make the curing agent more soluble while distributing it equally in a formulation. Patients are assured that pills, syrups, and creams always contain the exact amount of dosage needed.

    It is important that the propylene glycol to be used for health-sensitive applications should have a USP/EP grade. USP stands for the United States Pharmacopeia, which is the country's official standards-setting authority for all prescription and over-the-country drugs, food supplements, and other health care products produced in the United States.

    EP meanwhile stands for European Pharmacopeia. It is a semi-autonomous institution of the Council of Europe that also lists a wide range of active substances and excipients used for drug preparation in the aforementioned continent. A chemical substance with either a USP or EP grade means that it has undergone intensive independent testing and review to verify its ingredients, purity, and potency.

    Note: * - not permissible for cat food use

    British Food - Cuisine and Culture

    Some of my fondest memories as a child are of visiting my grandparents in both the North of England and the Eastern coastal area of England. Those visits were not only wonderful times, but they were also accompanied with delicious food. I had one grandmother who could be equated with a British version of Martha Stewart and another grandmother who'd open her handbag which was laden with penguin bars and bar clubs, or an assorted variety of flavored crisps.

    Let me reminisce a minute and with that reminiscing share some favorite traditional British cuisine. I do have to acknowledge, however, that the Brit's cuisine, especially the English dishes, hasn't always had the greatest reputation. Still, they have some of the finest restaurants in the world and with the added diversity in the population, and an increased experimentation with new dishes, the culture has created new culinary styles - curry recipes being one of the most popular trends right now.

    So back to the reminiscing, back to my Martha Stewart nanny. Every morning in her home, on schedule, was a full English breakfast which would usually consist of sausages, bacon, fried eggs, fried tomatoes, and fried bread or toast. Some would opt for scrambled eggs, or throw in some fried mushrooms, baked beans, and if you were really adventurous -- black pudding. Black pudding is a type of blood sausage - something I've never opted for, but others love.

    Next would be the traditional lunch, which is a bit like a Sunday dinner in my home today. Nanny would cook some kind of roast meat - beef, pork or lamb - and with that were her crispy roast potatoes and a fresh garden vegetable. Steaming windows from boiling cabbage was a common occurrence. The lamb would be complimented with mint sauce, and the beef with gravy and Yorkshire pudding. Yorkshire pudding was always a favorite of mine, a dish made from baked dough - almost like roasted bread.

    Tea-time was promptly at five o'clock. This was one of my favorite meals: cakes and biscuits, scones and jams. Both my grandmothers usually had jam tarts (bakewell tarts) pre-made and stowed in their pantries. This consisted of a pastry shell filled with jam and a spongy filling. Shortbread biscuits - melt in your mouth buttery cookies - were always stocked and stored in old Christmas tins. Now remember our cookies are their biscuits, and our biscuits are their scones. To this day, I've never discovered a version of our scones overseas.

    Supper-time was just before bed - a quick snack before lights out. My supper was cheese on toast and hot cocoa.

    My other grandmother wasn't as much about order and tradition, but loved filling her cupboards with food her grandchildren loved. She was famous, at least to me, for her sausage pie. And never would a visit go by without at least one trip to the fish and chip shop: Battered and fried cod or plaice with chips (French fries) and usually sprinkled with salt and lathered with vinegar. Some would opt for the mushy peas on the side which was merely a green soup made from peas.

    Let me list briefly some of the most traditional dishes that I haven't included up to this point.

    • Roast chicken with chipolata sausages (thin sausages), bread sauce, and cranberry sauce or redcurrant jam.
    • Bangers (sausages) and mash (mashed potatoes).
    • Toad in the hole (sausages cooked in Yorkshire pudding batter), somewhat similar to piggies in a blanket.
    • Shepherd's pie. Traditionally the bottom layer was ground lamb, although in my family we used ground beef, and this was followed with a layer of mashed potatoes. We also usually put cooked carrots in between the beef and potatoes. There are many variations to this though and also under the names of cottage pie and fisherman's pie.
    • Steak and kidney pie -- speaks for itself.
    • Lancashire hotpot which was meat, onion and potatoes baked in a pot or casserole dish for a long time on low heat.
    • Cornish pasty. This is a baked pie is smaller distinct shape which was traditionally filled with beef, onion, and potato.
    • Kedgeree. This is flaked fish combined with boiled rice, eggs and butter. Smoked haddock was usually the fish of choice and this dish dates back to the time of the British Indian Empire.
    • Mince (ground beef) and tatties (mashed potatoes).
    • Spotted dick. This is a steamed pudding which contains dried fruit and raisins, and is usually served with custard.

    So there you have it, a quick version of my enjoyment of English cuisine and some of the traditional dishes. Good luck on your English cooking adventure!

    Dog Food Basics and a Recipe

    Every dog owner takes special care to provide the best food for his pet. Here are some hints to provide a healthy and delicious meal for a dog.

    1. Let the meal components be as raw as possible. make it a fitting BARF meal (bones and raw food)

    2. A choice of the top 10 ingredients that you should try and include in a dog's meal

    •  cooked eggs 
    •  fresh yogurt  
    • vegetables and fruits 
    • garlic  
    • chicken  
    • cottage cheese  
    • honey  
    • parsley 
    • apple cider vinegar

    3. Ten ingredients that should NOT be included in a dog's meal

    •  soy and maize products  
    • raw eggs  
    • onions  
    • alcoholic beverages 
    • caffeinated drinks  
    • chocolates  
    • the following fruits: grapes, raisins, avocado  
    • macadamia nuts  
    • leaves, stems and seeds of cherries, plums peaches and apples  
    • excessive dairy products

    Here is a delightful treat you can prepare for your dog! It is nutritious and tasty and your dog will enthusiastically agree, once you feed him this!

    For the dough

    Ingredients to make Dog Biscuit Bones

    - Rice flour 1 cup

    - rye flour 1 cup

    - beef broth 1 cup

    - cracked wheat 1 cup

    - milk powder 1 cup

    - wholewheat flour - 2cups

    - honey 4 tsps

    - minced garlic - 4 tsps

    - baby food meat of 2.5 ounce jars - 2;

    - olive oil -12 tbsps

    - eggs - 2

    (tsps=teaspoons; tbsps=tablespoons)

    For the glaze

    - beef broth - 4 tbsps

    - eggs - 2

    Procedure to make Dog Biscuit Bones

    Mix together the garlic, oil, honey, milk powder, baby food meat, and eggs thoroughly. To this, gradually blend in the cracked wheat and flours. prepare a stiff dough. Roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick on a flat surface.

    Using bone shaped cutter, carve out the biscuits. Arrange them in a non-greasy tray so that each piece is at least 1/2 inch away from the other. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes, at 325 degrees F.

    For Glazing: Mix the broth and well beaten eggs thoroughly. Brush the biscuits on both sides evenly with this glaze. Put the trays back in the oven and bake for another 30 minutes. Remove biscuits from oven, cool and store in air tight tins in the refrigerator.

    Liederkranz Cheese and Shrimp - Make a Sandwich

    Centuries before Lonton food restrictions were drawn up, bread and cheese headed the food thrift list. These classic affinities still take top honors as the most nourishing and economical of foods and although they won their first fame as necessities of life, they now hold a high place in the epicure's food register, too. With such famous dessert cheese delicacies as Camembert Brie Swiss and Liederkranz cheese, all available with Made-in-America labels, the housewife can turn her family into cheese eaters without straining her budget.

    The absence of Roquefort is now filled successfully by domestic blue cheese. Blue cheese is included in the cocktail cheese spreads. And did you know that the relish cocktail cheese spread you've been using for canapes and sandwiches gives equally delectable flavor to broiled fish when spread on just before the last five minutes of cooking?

    High in protein, cheese is valued as a meat substitute, lending flavor as well as nourishment to many cooked dishes. Always cook cheese at moderate temperatures as high heat will cause the fats to decompose. To be easily digested, cooked cheese should be well done.

    For meatless days, these recipes for sandwich spreads and hot main course dishes beg for a trial.

    Liederkranz Cheese And Shrimp Sandwich

    -6 slices bread -1 cup chopped cooked shrimp -1 package Liederkranz cheese

    Toast bread lightly on both sides. Remove black membrane sides. Remove black membrane from cooked shrimp and chop. Spread on toast. Cover with slices of cheese. Place in broiler for a few seconds until cheese is melted and slightly brown. Serves 6.

    Cheese Dumplings In Tomato Sauce

    -1 can condensed tomato soup

    -1 cup water

    -Salt and pepper

    -2 cups prepared biscuit flour

    -1 cup grated American cheese

    -1 tablespoon grated onion

    -3/4 cup milk (about)

    Heat tomato soup, water and seasonings. Lightly mix biscuit flour, grated cheese and onion. Add milk to make a soft dough. When soup is boiling, drop in dumplings from a teaspoon. Cover closely and cook slowly 20 to 25 minutes. Do not uncover during the first 20 minutes. Serves 6.

    Friday "Meat" Loaf

    -1/2 of 1/2 lb. package American Pasteurized Process Cheese

    -2 cups canned kidney beans

    -1 cup bread crumbs

    -1/2 teaspoon salt

    -1 teaspoon grated onion

    -1/4 teaspoon pepper


    Put cheese and beans through the meat chopper. (If preferred lima, baked beans or cooked lentils may be used in place of kidney beans.) Add crumbs and seasonings with a little melted butter or milk to moisten if too dry. Make into a roll and bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) 45 minutes, basting occasionally with melted butter and water. Serve with well seasoned tomato sauce. Serves 6.

    Twice Baked Cheese Potatoes

    -1/2 lb. package pasteurized process pimento cheese

    -1/3 cup milk

    -6 large baked potatoes

    -2 teaspoons salt

    -1/8 teaspoon pepper

    Cut cheese into small pieces. Heat milk in top of double boiler. Add cheese and beat with rotary egg beater until smooth. Cut baked potatoes in halves lengthwise and scoop out center. Mash thoroughly. Add prepared cheese, salt and pepper. Beat until light and creamy. Refill potato shells and bake in hot oven (450 degrees F.) 10 minutes or until brown. Serve immediately.

    Onion And Liederkranz Cheese Spread

    Chop Bermuda onions fine, marinate and drain. Spread on thin slices of rye, pumpernickel or whole wheat bread which have been buttered and covered with slices of Liederkranz cheese. Crisp crackers may be used instead of the bread. To marinate onion, add salt, pepper and equal quantities of oil and vinegar to sliced onion and let stand twenty minutes.

    Macaroni Mousse

    -1 cup macaroni broken in 2-inch pieces

    -1.5 cups scalding milk

    -1 cup soft bread crumbs

    -1/4 cup incited butter

    -1 pimiento, chopped

    -1/8 teaspoon pepper

    -1 tablespoon chopped parsley

    -1 tablespoon chopped onion

    -1.5 cups grated cheese

    -1/2 teaspoon salt


    -3 eggs, well beaten

    Cook macaroni 10 minutes in boiling salted water; pour cold water over it and drain. Pour milk over bread crumbs; add remaining ingredients except macaroni. Put macaroni in buttered loaf pan; pour milk and cheese mixture over it. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) about 50 minutes, until loaf is firm. Serves 6.