Building a better sandwich: Add variety

Does the mention of a sandwich conjure up images of bologna and mustard on white bread? It may be the mainstay of brown-bag lunches, but packable sandwiches needn’t be boring or a nutritional disaster. Try these ideas:

Breads: Enriched and whole-grain breads are low in fat, while providing energy, vitamins and iron. For extra dietary fiber, choose whole-grain wheat bread, rye, multi-grain, healthy oatmeal or bran bread. When choosing grain products, keep in mind:

Crackers, biscuits and some muffins can be high in fat or sodium. Check labels.

Many breads come in a variety of sizes. Snack-size pumpernickel, a tortilla or small pita pockets may be good choices for youngsters.

Breads stale faster if stored in the refrigerator. Keep them frozen, then toast for instant use. Packed lunches are less of a risk for food poisoning if sandwiches are made with frozen bread slices (they help keep fillings cool longer).

Fillings: Try these ideas for lower fat and sodium:

Flaked, cooked fish or water-packed tuna mixed with chopped vegetables and plain, low-fat yogurt or mayonnaise.

Chopped poultry with mandarin oranges, alfalfa sprouts and a low-fat dressing.

Mashed, cooked dry beans flavored with onion, parsley and garlic.

Add-ons: Try these spreads and additions for moistness, flavor and variety. Pack them separately to avoid soggy sandwiches.

Diced apples, pears or grapes.

Sliced cucumber, zucchini, onion or tomatoes; spinach leaves, lettuce or other salad greens (even fresh basil).

Shredded carrots or cheese.

Flavored mustards, reduced-calorie salad dressings, plain low-fat yogurt.

Packing a school lunch: A national survey has shown that children who buy a hot lunch at school generally have a more nutritious meal than children who take food from home. To make the lunch you pack tempting as well as more nutritious:

Let kids shop for and make their own sandwiches.

Whole fruit may be enjoyed by older children, but pear and apple slices are more appealing to young children. Treat cut sides of fruit with citrus juice to help prevent browning. Prune plums are smaller and less drippy than regular plums. Cut in half and remove the pit to eliminate any chance of a child choking on it.

Pack cookies or cupcakes that supply vitamins or minerals, too, such as pumpkin cupcakes, fig bars and oatmeal-applesauce cookies.

Include one of your child’s favorite foods even if it tends to contain a little more sugar, sodium or fat than you think she or he needs. You can make up for the indulgence by serving more nutritious meals and snacks at other times of the day. Nutritious food that is left uneaten is certainly not a health benefit.

Salad dressing: low-fat, homemade, delicious

The average salad dressing can fatten up an otherwise nonfat salad more than you might think. A ladle at most salad bars holds two to six tablespoons of dressing. Since most regular dressings contain 6 to 8 grams of fat and 75 calories per tablespoon, a large ladle may give you 48 grams of fat and 450 calories. That’s as much fat as someone on a 1,500-calorie daily diet should eat in an entire day. Salad dressing is one of the leading sources of fat in the American diet, especially for women aged 19 to 50, according to USDA surveys.

Most commercial dressings, whether creamy or oily, are primarily fat, with 85% of their calories coming from the oil they’re made with – usually soybean oil. Some dressings also contain eggs, cream, and cheese.

Dressing for success

* Try one of the many new fat-free dressings sold in supermarkets. They have only 5 to 20 calories per tablespoon (but as much as 200 milligrams of sodium). Water is usually the first ingredient, followed by vinegar, some form of sugar (such as corn syrup), spices, and sometimes lemon juice or tomato paste.

* Make your own lower-fat vinegar-and-oil dressing. The classic recipe for vinaigrette calls for a three-to-one ratio of oil to vinegar: that’s about 90 calories per tablespoon. Instead try a one-to-one–or even lower–ratio. It helps to use a flavorful oil, such as olive, sesame, or walnut, so you’ll need less. (All oils have the same number of calories and amount of fat.)

* Stretch your dressing with broth, fruit or vegetable juice, wine, or honey. Mayonnaise can be thinned with lemon juice, vinegar, plain nonfat yogurt, or tomato puree.

* For thick, creamy dressings, experiment with a low-fat or even nonfat product (yogurt, sour cream, or mayonnaise) as a base. For instance, nonfat yogurt flavored with herbs and spices makes a good basic dressing. You can also try buttermilk, evaporated skim milk, or pureed cottage cheese as a base.

* Try using no oil at all. Some people like plain lemon or lime juice. Try salsa (you can blend it with nonfat yogurt). Or sprinkle your salad with a mild vinegar–balsamic, rice, or wine vinegar, or one flavored with fruit or herbs. Experiment with combinations of tomato puree or tomato juice, plain nonfat yogurt or buttermilk, apple juice, lemon or lime juice, dry or prepared mustard, minced or crushed garlic or onion, herbs, cumin, curry powder, and hot pepper sauce or Worcestershire in small amounts. When you find a combination you like, you can make a batch and refrigerate it.

* In restaurants, ask for the gluten free salad dressing on the side, and measure it with a teaspoon, not a tablespoon.

Keep fit and healthy

Changing lifestyles have created a boom market for exercise equipment, health, beauty and fitness clubs and gyms. As free time becomes scarce and daily stress increases, more people are looking at exercise as a way of dealing with the demands of urban life.
The limitations of public facilities have spurred growth in health clubs, fitness centres and athletic equipment sales. Shopping malls, hotels, housing projects and office buildings are all opening fitness centres, either as a pure business or as an additional service.
With modern athletic equipment from Gateway Sports Source, Inc., exercise in the home or office is a viable alternative to traditional outdoor sports such as running or bicycling. Home equipment encompasses a wide range of products, from common dumbbells to computerised treadmills and rowing machines.
For some customers, home equipment represents an addition to daily outdoors exercise, for use when time is short or the weather is bad. Others purchase inexpensive home equipment because they want to get in shape but are unwilling to invest too much money in more upscale equipment or in a health club membership.
While home equipment appeals to some consumers, fitness clubs are targeting a more specific audience of women and shape-conscious young professionals.
Beauty and weight-loss centres attract consumers because of the high emphasis on personal service. Most feature on-site medical staff and fitness coaches to help push clients out of their sedentary lifestyles and on to the weight machines and treadmills. This is a business that can never fail. Women always want to improve and keep their beauty, as well as delay the effects of aging.

The patches to restore testosterone levels

Male hormone patches to increase low testosterone levels were launched on the NHS yesterday – with a warning that doctors could not cope if they were swamped by middle-aged men looking to boost their love lives.

The patches are for men with a medical condition which results in low testosterone, but the fear is that men with normal levels who believe their sex drive is falling will inundate GPs with requests for the treatment.

The patches, called Andropatch, are meant for men suffering from hypogonadism. This can result from damage to the testes through disease or accidents, a malfunctioning of the pituitary gland which controls the release of sex hormones, or some rare inherited conditions.

Men with the condition suffer from impotence and loss of libido, fatigue, loss of muscle power and depression. In the long term they are at risk of osteoporosis.

The patches, made by SmithKline Beecham, are said to restore testosterone levels to within the range found in normal men in 90% of patients.

Two have to be worn, with the manufacturers recommending they be applied at around 10pm. The patches cost $1.60 a day – $584 a year – and will need to be worn for life.

Other methods of low testosterone treatment are available through capsules, injections, or pellets inserted under the skin. The patches are said to be easier to use and more closely mimic the natural release of testosterone, rather than causing peaks and troughs like other methods.

Pierre-Marc Bouloux, an endocrinologist from the Royal Free hospital, London, said around one man in 200 suffered from hypogonadism.

Between 20,000 and 30,000 men were known to be taking some form of testosterone replacement therapy in Britain, but there were probably an equal number with undiagnosed hypogonadism who could benefit from treatment.

Ian Banks, a GP from Northern Ireland who acts as spokesman on male health for the British Medical Association, said GPs could not cope with a sudden flood of men wanting the patches.

He said tiredness and impotence were far more likely to be caused by overwork, marital problems, job insecurity or alcohol abuse, but men were likely to see testosterone replacement therapy as an instant fix to their problems.

“If this is presented as a wonder drug, or a panacea, or the elixir of life, which it is not, GPs will not be able to cope. There will very quickly be an overload on our time and our finances, not just from the cost of the patches but also from the costs of the tests to diagnose low testosterone.”

He added: “There is no way we could offer this to every man who feels he is going through a mid-life crisis.”