Wednesday, October 29, 2014

You Can End That Addiction to Fried and Fatty. You Can Change Your Mind. Yes, You Can.

It's still chicken, only baked instead of fried. Archive photo.

THE power of positive thinking can help individuals overcome any number of difficulties, meet myriad challenges. Very few would dispute this.

But now this notion has some science behind it – certainly as it regards more healthful food choices. Indeed, the-little-engine-that-could brand of thinking is not so much pep talk and pop psychology.

If your mind can conceive your choosing a turkey burger on eggplant instead of a beef burger on bun. If your heart can believe it. Then, you can achieve it. Not only a healthier, lower-calorie meal, but one that can lead to many quality of life benefits, particularly if you are not overweight or obese.

It really is all in the mind. Entrenched, addictive preferences for unhealthy foods can eventually be reversed, according to research by scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University and Massachusetts General Hospital.

A nice break from mac&cheese aka whole wheat pasta salad. Archive photo.

“We don’t start out in life loving French fries and hating, for example, whole wheat pasta,” said lead author Susan B. Roberts, director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the USDA HNRCA. She is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and an adjunct professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine. “This conditioning happens over time in response to eating – repeatedly! – what is out there in the toxic food environment.”

A brain scan study in adult men and women suggests that you, you, you, you and you can, for instance, reverse the addictive pull of a sugary soft drink and replace it with a preference for a lightly sweetened or unsweetened Honest Tea.

The study, Pilot randomized trial demonstrating reversal of obesity-related abnormalities in reward system responsivity to food cues with a behavioral intervention, is published in a recent issue (1 Sept. 2014) of the journal, Nutrition & Diabetes.

SR& Co. observed the reward system part of the brain in 13 overweight and obese men and women. Eight were participants in a new weight-loss program designed by Tufts University researchers. The five in the control group were not.

"A 'just a tad sweet' white tea brew with agave syrup and mango puree." Honest. Tea. A typical soft drink can't make the same claim. Photo from Honest Tea Web site.

Both groups underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans at the beginning and end of a six-month period. After six months the brain scans showed that those in the weight-loss program were more sensitive to healthy, lower-calorie foods, suggesting an increased reward and enjoyment of these foods.

Further, they showed less enjoyment of unhealthy, higher-calorie foods. Conversely, those in the control group showed no change in food preferences.

“The weight loss program is specifically designed to change how people react to different foods,” said co-author Sai Krupa Das, a scientist in the USDA HNRCA's Energy Metabolism Laboratory. She is also assistant professor at the Friedman School. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of this important switch.”

It is possible, then – though difficult, to be sure and with professional intervention – to flip your script and go for a small piece of dark chocolate instead of a large chunk of chocolate cake.”

The researchers believe that several features of the weight-loss program contributed to the better food choices. They include behavior change education and high-fiber, high protein, low-glycemic carb menu plans, as well as consuming up to 1,000 fewer calories a day. They also acknowledge their study has drawbacks.

“There is much more research to be done here, involving many more participants, long-term followup and investigating more areas of the brain,” SR said. “But we are very encouraged that, the weight-loss program appears to change what foods are tempting to people.”

A little bit of dark chocolate can easily be a stand-in for chocolate cake. Archive photo.

No one is suggesting that anyone give up mac&cheese. Occasionally, however, the mind (and palate) can be tempted toward whole wheat pasta salad, no?

Visit to read the entire article or an abstract of “Pilot randomized trial demonstrating reversal of obesity-related abnormalities in reward system responsivity to food cues with a behavioral intervention.”

Monday, October 27, 2014

Steve Harvey Clearly Spells Out How to Act: (Like a Success, Think Like a Success ...)

Steve Harvey appeared on "Oprah's LifeClass" last month to share success and failure stories. Photo from OWN Web site.


God has already lined up all the people in your path to get you to your dreams and your visions, all you have to do is get rid of the wrong ones.

… failure is such a HUGE part of succeeding.

Words to live by and some of my takeaways (and others interspersed throughout this article) from Steve Harvey's latest book, “Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life's Riches.”

To illustrate his points, SH pulls examples from his personal life experiences as well as those of others. For example, he references Jordan Belfort, the author of “The Wolf of Wall Street." The book spawned a film of the same name (

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it,” JB is quoted as saying.

Entertainer and Emmy-winning media mogul SH takes that quote to the next level, declaring that “Excuses are the lies you convince yourself are true to avoid proving you are worthy of the gift you were given … NO MORE EXCUSES.” (Visit to listen to an excerpt from the book).

Steve Harvey (right) with Bob Borzotta on Steve Harvey, the latter's daytime talk show. Photo from Steve Harvey Web site.

That passage in “Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success” reminded me of the time I was pledging Zeta Phi Beta. Whenever one of our line sisters would make an excuse, our Big Brother would always make us repeat the following after him:

“Excuses. Excuses are tools of incompetence used to build monuments of nothing. And those who use them seldom accomplish anything. Excuses.”

That was almost 20 years ago and I still can recite it as if I was a pledge.

“Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success” debuted atop The New York Times best-seller list last month. It held that spot for two consecutive weeks. As of 26 Oct., it is No. 10.

Steve Harvey's "Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life's Riches" is a New York Times best-seller.

It started trending before it was available in bookstores or in the e-book arena, thanks to the native West Virginian's appearance on “Oprah's LifeClass” on OWN days before its release.

“I was tired of myself for not going after my dreams ... I was tired of not being able to see the potential in myself that others clearly saw," SH told Oprah. “I was tired of living in a rut.” (See video snippet below from "Oprah's LifeClass").

His words described exactly how I was feeling and how I have been feeling for the last 10 years.

Release yourself from excuses and limitations.

After SH's appearance on “Oprah's LifeClass," I had to wait two days before my copy of “Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success” was available on my iPad Nook reader. It was 3 a.m. when my iPad chimed to let me know that the book was ready to read on my device.

Get back to that space of being like a kid and let your heart and desires guide your vision.

Once I started reading I said to myself, “This will be the last success self-help book that I purchase in my lifetime.” Why? Well, I felt that SH was speaking directly to me.

The host of a daytime talk show, game show and radio show will be talking about his book at 9 p.m. on Wednesday (29 Oct.) on the UP channel in “A Special Night with Steve Harvey.”

There are four kind of haters. Get the book and figure out which one you need to get rid of.

I have every excuse in the book for why I am not where I am supposed to be in my career, my life and my spiritual journey. All of those excuses I believe are 100 percent valid. But I am only fooling myself.

Become one of those people who are willing to share, educate, gift, help inspire, lead and push. Afterward, watch to see what comes your way.

Steve Harvey greets an audience member on "Family Feud." Photo from Family Feud Facebook page.

What about you? Are you on track to where you want to be? If not, "Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success" will help guide you on your journey.

… make the choice everyday not to let anyone’s negativity stop me from fully operating my God-given gift.

Visit to learn more about “Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life's Riches,” including purchase information and Steve Harvey's various ventures.

Tamika Cody is an NYC-based multimedia journalist with a niche in finance. She currently writes about topics trending in arts and culture at; visit to learn more about her ventures.

Friday, October 24, 2014

She's Coming Undone and He Has Nothing to Do With It: 'Laggies' and 'White Bird in a Blizzard'

Shailene Woodley, Gabourey Sidibe and Mark Indelicato in “White Bird in a Blizzard." Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

WOMEN going through existenial crises is the theme of two films opening in U.S. theaters today.

In Lynn Shelton's romantic comedy, “Laggies,” Megan (a well-cast Keira Knightley) is 28 and has not much to show for it since she graduated high school. Reality dawns as she prepares to attend her 11-year high school reunion.

Lest mediocrity clump down and swallow her whole, she takes some drastic measures and is aided and abetted by 16-year-old Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz, also well-cast) who, after all, owes her elder. (See video below).

The ensuing fallout is delightful and amusing, if not always satisfying. Yet an unapologetic chick flick.

A chick flick of a wholly different temperament is “White Bird in a Blizzard.” It is based on the novel of the same name by Laura Kasischke.

Sensitively directed by Gregg Araki and his biggest film to date, it is engaging but also fails to satisfy as one wants. A good deal of discontent with this thriller may be derived from a somewhat convoluted plot.

At its center are mother and daughter, Eve (Eva Green) and Kat (Shailene Woodley). Both are trying to find their way in an increasingly obtuse world. One doesn't succeed, and there is hope for the other in a tale where issues related to abandonment and lost youth drive the plot. (See video below).

On a side note, it is difficult to ignore in “White Bird in a Blizzard” the presence of two high-profile black actresses and speculate about what these supporting roles suggest about their respective career trajectories.

Gabourey Sidibe has in Beth a vibrant character as Kat's best friend. The young actress seems to be thriving since her rise in “Precious.” On the otherhand, Angela Bassett in a role far beneath her considerable talent as the youngster's therapist, Dr. Thaler, has been struggling to find her footing since her splash in “What's Love Got to Do With It.”

Meanwhile, the most interesting aspect of both films, which both had their world premiere earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, their shortcomings, notwithstanding. Indeed, where they most succeed is in permitting women to be less than paragons.

To dare not be salt of the earth. To be flawed, a slacker. To unburden themselves of the shackles of nurturer and dutiful. To be woefully imperfect, damn it!

Too often in film and TV when women are floundering, they are victims whose circumstances are caused by some man. He beat her. He sexually harassed her. He cheated on her. The louse left her for a younger and/or hotter woman.

Conversely, the women in “Laggies” and “White Bird in a Blizzard” have men who love them, perhaps too much. These females are the bad guy, if you will.

In these films, as in two popular but very different treatments of the female in full free fall, set in Brooklyn, incidentally – CBS' “Two Broke Girls” and HBO's “Girls, the protagonists are negotiating life's vicissitudes at the instigation of other catalysts.

It is refreshing, emancipating and wonderful to witness this oft-neglected aspect of the female experience.

“Laggies” is rated R for language, some sexual material and teen partying; visit to learn more about the film.
“White Bird in a Blizzard” is rated R for sexual content/nudity, language and some drug use; visit to learn more about the film.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Some of Oscar de la Renta's Great Hits

Oscar de la Renta couture designs for Balmain in the recently closed retrospective of the designer's work, "Oscar de la Renta Five Decades of Style," at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas. Photo courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

A ladies man. From ladies who lunch, to first ladies to leading ladies to young ladies taking those first baby steps into full womanhood, he dressed them all.

Sandra Bullock in Oscar de la Renta at the 76th Annual Academy Awards in 2004. Archive photo.

Óscar Arístides Renta Fiallo. Though the fashion world is in deep mourning over the death Monday at 82 of the man known the world over as Oscar de la Renta, the designer will live on through the exquisite frocks that emanated from his atelier. These are shoes that shan't easily – if ever – be filled.

Oscar de la Renta with models wearing his designs in 1973 at his induction into the Coty Hall of Fame. The award was bestowed on the designer in 1967 and 1968. Archive photo.

“I want to make clothes that people will wear, not styles that will make a big splash on the runway,” ODLR has said.

Yet his runway was the setting for both. Accessible. Transportive. Elegant. One could literally quit the runway for lunch or gala or awards ceremony without upsetting sartorial sensibilities. (See video of September's Spring 2014 show).

A citizen of both his native Dominican Republic and the United States, ODLR, along with Bill Blass and Geoffrey Beene, helped put U.S. fashion on the maps that the doubtful and dismissive European gatekeepers were reading. Of course, ODLR was helped by having work in France. He understood the importance of having that city on his resume.

Then First Lady Laura Bush (with first dogs) in Oscar de la Renta outside the White House. Photo courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

“If you want to establish an international presence you can't do so from New York,” he once remarked. “You need the consecration of Paris.”

Jacqueline Kennedy was the first of the presidential wives to wear Oscar de la Renta. Archive photo.

Long after he had made a huge name for himself and won many prestigious awards, this old workhorse nimbly and shrewdly continued to evolve with the times and technology. He did not rest on his laurels. Many products beyond clothes and fragrances bear the de la Renta moniker ...

It is natural to mourn, but long after the mourning period comes to an end, a beautiful and bountiful legacy will continue.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shaking Your Groove Thing and Other Powerful Weapons in the War on Breast Cancer

Get moving to lower the weight and risk of breast cancer. Archive photos.

This time of year, this month, more than any other time of the year, women (and men) are admonished and reminded to do regular checks and to undertake other preventative measures.

It is October and it is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Consequently, a spotlight is on breast cancer, this decreasingly major killer, on the strides that have been made in eradicating it. A time of year when survivors celebrate, when fundraising and information initiatives are in overdrive.

Contributing to the general awareness are two of the country's top cancer-fighting institutions – the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. They suggest eight ways to significantly reduce the likelihood of contracting breast cancer.

These are common-sense approaches, some or all, of which many have likely been encouraged to undertake at one time or another, including the individuals quoted throughout:

1. Keep weight in check
It’s easy to tune out because it is said so often, but maintaining a healthy weight should be an important goal for everyone. Being overweight can increase the risk of many different cancers, including breast cancer, especially after menopause.

Post-menoopausal hormones have adverse effects if taken for long periods of time.

2. Exercise
Exercise is as close to a silver bullet for good health as there is. Women who are physically active for at least 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer. Regular exercise is also one of the best ways to help keep weight in check.

It drove home, personally, the value of early detection and education and intervention.Janet Napolitano

3. Drink (alcohol) in moderation
Alcohol can be good for the heart, but when it comes to cancer, there’s really nothing good about it. Even moderate amounts increase the risk of breast cancer. In general, if you drink moderately (no more than one drink a day for women), the overall health benefits of drinking outweigh the risks. But if you don’t drink, don’t feel that you need to start.

Having cancer does make you try to be better at everything you do and enjoy every moment. It changes you forever. But it can be a positive change. Jaclyn Smith

4. Breastfeed, if possible
Breastfeeding for a total of one year or more (combined for all children) lowers the risk of breast cancer. It also has great health benefits for the child.

My first thought was, 'Really? Me, breast cancer?' I just couldn't believe it.Wanda Sykes

5. Avoid birth control pills (particularly after age 35 or if you smoke)
Birth control pills have both risks and benefits. The younger a woman is, the lower the risks. While women are taking birth control pills, they have a slightly increased risk of breast cancer. This risk goes away quickly, though, after stopping the pill.

Avoiding excessive alcohol can prevent a multitude of ill, including breast cancer.

The risk of stroke and heart attack also is increased while on the pill – particularly if a woman smokes. However, long-term use also can have important benefits, like lowering the risk of ovarian cancer, colon cancer and uterine cancer – not to mention unwanted pregnancy – so there’s also a lot in its favor. If you’re very concerned about breast cancer, avoiding birth control pills is one option to lower risk.

6. Don't take post-menopausal hormones
Postmenopausal hormones shouldn’t be taken long term to prevent chronic diseases, like osteoporosis and heart disease. Studies show they have a mixed effect on health, increasing the risk of some diseases and lowering the risk of others, and both estrogen-only hormones and estrogen-plus-progestin hormones increase the risk of breast cancer.

If women do take post-menopausal hormones, it should be for the shortest time possible. The best person to talk to about the risks and benefits of post-menopausal hormones is a personal physcian.

Men get it . I think us men need you women to help us survive.Peter Criss

7. Learn your family history
Women with a strong family history of cancer can take special steps to protect themselves, so it’s important for women to know their family history.

You may be at high risk of breast cancer if you have a mother or sister who developed breast or ovarian cancer (especially at an early age) or if you have multiple family members (including males) who developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer.A doctor or genetic counselor can help you understand your family history of the disease.

Cancer is really heard to go through and it's really hard to watch someone you love go through, and I know because I have been on both sides of the equation.Cynthia Nixon

Tamoxifen has been found to significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer in those at high risk for contracting it.

8. Take Tamoxifen and raloxifene (for women at high risk)
Although not commonly thought of as a “healthy behavior,” taking the prescription drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene can significantly lower the risk of breast cancer in woman at high risk of the disease.

Approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention, these powerful drugs can have side effects, so they aren’t right for everyone. If you think you’re at high risk, talk to your doctor to see if tamoxifen or raloxifene may be right for you.

Fight each round take it on the chin. And never, never, never ever give in.Olivia Newton-John

Visit to learn more about breast cancer prevention, treatment and other aspects of the disease.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

NYCWFF Day 3: A Bloody, Jamaican Crazy, Stacked and Fit to be Thaied Smoke Revival

The Jamaican Crazy Bloody Mary created by Robert McShea is a hangover starter. Photos by Yours Truly.

IT has the makings of a curative: Yellow Heirloom Tomato Puree, Agave Nectar. One is sure of it: Lemon, Mango Chip. Perhaps, though, Yours Truly is being a little naive: “Bloody Jerk” mix, Prawn, ABSOLUT Citron.

Still seduced by mango and lemon, I venture the question burning my lips like those Jamaican spices on the rim of the cup, “Is this a hangover cure?”

Robert McShea regards me as if he is explaining that 1 +1 = 2. “It's a hangover starter.”

Perhaps, too, the name should have been a clue about the origins of the “Jamaican Crazy.” It is the libation that the barman and assistant General Manager of The Duck Dive in San Diego, Calif. has concocted for the “'CHOPPED' Best Bloody Mary Brunch perfected by ABSOLUT.”

Jamaican Crazy is one of the Bloody Marys in the running for “Best Bloody Mary in America.” Alas, it did not attain that distinction – it would go to David Wakefield's "A Bloody Beaux Thai" – but it is delicious and innocuous-tasting. Further, it is clearly only a take on the famous drink with its bright mango coloring. As the saying goes, it's all good.

Is it bad form for Robert Irvine's (Restaurant: Impossible) Smoked Expresso Rubbed Brisket Sandwich to have won the
Stacked: A Sandwich Showdown 
presented by Martin's Famous Potato Rolls hosted by Restaurant: Impossible's Robert Irvine?
In any case, clearly there was something special about the lineup of Expresso dry rubbed smoked beef brisket, grilled onions, taleggio cheese, horseradish aioli and crispy pickled jalapenos on a Martin's hoagie roll ... The whole is quite yummy; the beef so tender and succulent, it almost felt liquidy.

There is lot of good at the 2014 Food Network New York City Wine&Food Festival on Saturday, the busiest day of the four-day bacchanal. That includes Stacked: A Sandwich Showdown presented by Martin's Famous Potato Rolls hosted by Restaurant: Impossible's Robert Irvine and Riesling Revival hosted by Eric Hemer Celebrity Cruises® Wine Seminars hosted by FOOD & WINE.

Today – LAST DAY – for two good causes: Food Bank For New York City Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry® campaign, there is more good stuff.

Offerings include: Down-Home Country Brunch hosted by Trisha Yearwood, Chocolate and Whiskey Pairing, Anolon Cookware presents The Art of Pasta Making, Oktoberfest, Dale's Dim Sum Party and the second and final Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite

Meanwhile, the “'CHOPPED' Best Bloody Mary Brunch" has also presented an opportunity to catch up with one of its chefs and former “CHOPPED” champ, Dinah Surh. (

The effervescent DS dished on her brunch dish, Korean Sweet and Spicey BLT w/Pinenut Mayonnaise: “I just love everything having to do with bacon.”

On her “CHOPPED” (hosted by Ted Allen) victory earlier this year: “When Ted Allen announced that, 'Dinah you are the chopped champion', I was just on top of the world. I felt Iwas in the moon. I was so excited that I did a horsey dance!”

And some things she would do with $1 million if she is the overall victor in a major cooking contest next month: “I would love to start a food career and publish a cookbook.” (See video above).

Eight is enough for the Riesling Revival hosted by Eric Hemer Celebrity Cruises® Wine Seminars hosted by FOOD & WINE. What say the experts about some of the wines:
2010 Villa Maria Riesling Cellar Selection (New Zealand), “Forthright.” It says, “I'm great, drink me”;
2012 Lamoreaux Landing Dry Riesling (New York), “green apples, peach”;
2010 S.A. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett (Germany), “Old World,” “honey,” “All the things you want in a Riesling.”

Yes siree, Saturday is a good day at NYCWFF.

Visit to learn more about the 2014 Food Network Wine & Food Festival, including schedule, tickets and venue.
Visit to learn more about Food Bank For New York City;
Visit to learn more about Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign.

Friday, October 17, 2014

NYCWFF Day 2: A LAMB-MARC (by Murphy) Is Judges' Best at Blue Moon Burger Bash

Marc Murphy (center, pointing), flanked by Racheal Ray (third from left) and others, created the winning burger in the Blue Moon Burger Bash competition. Photo by Yours Truly.

THE spiced ground lamb and mint chimichurri are in perfect harmony. The lamb is nice and crunchy on the outside. On the inside it is moist, juicy, medium-rare. Somebody's palate is having a moment.

The LAMB-MARC came in as a lamb but went out like a lion. The “hamburger” created by Marc Murphy of Landmarc (Time Warner Center) emerged at the top of the judges' list, beating out more than 25 others earlier tonight during the Blue Moon Burger Bash hosted by Rachael Ray.

In the 2014 Food Network New York City Wine&Food Festival (NYCWFF) ever-popular event, the LAMB-MARC had some stiff competition, including from 5 Napkin Burger's Beef Knockwurst Burger, a confection crafted from Muenster cheese, bacon and mustard onions.

Another worthy competitor is Ramen Co.'s Ramen Burger, made from prime ground chuck, secret shoyu sauce, scallions and arugula. It is dressed with the signature ramen noodle bun, one of the few burgers in competition that did not use the bread provided by sponsor, Martin's Famous Potato Rolls and Bread. Once again, Pat LaFrieda brought the meat.

The LAMB-MARC burger is not meek and mild. Photo by Yours Truly.

Two that deserve an honorable mention are Brindle Room's Brindle Room Burger and the Meister Shack from Shake Shack. The former hews toward minimalism. It is a dry-aged burger on bun. The well-done patty is crunchy throughout but is packed with flavor. The latter benefits from the fireworks set off by the chemistry between the cheese and crispy beer-marinated shallots.

Meanwhile, one can infer that MM is surprised by his victory. He seems a little shell-shocked; he has that deer-in-the headlights look as he navigates his way to the stage, a plastic glass of Blue Moon beer on hand and in hand. He didn't have much to say for himself.

His burger did the talking.

Elsewhere, tomorrow, one big day for NYCWFF's two good causes: Food Bank For New York City Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign.

The two Marthas are burning at "'CHOPPED' Best Bloody Mary Brunch, Cooking with One Pot: A Master Class, and MasterCard® Priceless® New York Demo Pass at the Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite. (

Riesling is getting its sexy back. Photo courtesy of New York City Wine and Food Festival.

Indeed, NYCWFF Day 3 is full to bursting. Some of the other events on tap: Foie Gras Fête, Jets + Chefs: The Ultimate Tailgate hosted by Joe Namath and Mario Batali, Brilliant Bubbles hosted by Ray Isle and Riesling Revival hosted by Eric Hemer.

Also on the schedule are Expect The Unexpected A Panel Discussion at Bumble and bumble, the first Grand Tasting presented by ShopRite and another marquee event, CASAMIGOS Tequila presents Tacos & Tequila: A Late Night Fiesta sponsored by Mohegan Sun hosted by Bobby Flay.
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