This Month's Featured Resources...

Father's DayTravel - CookingLatin WW2

Monday, July 31

A Day at the Office With..................a Computer Scientist

As part of our new series, "A Day at the Office," we are interviewing people about their chosen career paths and how they got to where they are today.  Our hope is to bring some perspective and inspiration to middle and high school students beginning to form an answer to the age-old question, "What do you want to do when you grow up?"

Today, we are featuring a Computer Scientist who works with analytical software at SAS

1. Hi Eddie, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Eddie Rowe. I was born in the Chicago suburbs and grew up in Asheville, NC. As a child, I enjoyed board games, swimming, roller skating, nintendo, and playing football in our socks at a friend's house. I live in Cary, NC just outside of Raleigh with my wife and sheepdog. I work at SAS Institute, a world-leader in business intelligence software.

2. How did you first get involved with computers?
My brother bought an Atari-400 and I "inherited" it after he upgraded to a Commodore-64. I would try to follow the programming recipes in a book we had in the house, but mostly I just played games. It did introduce me to what in today's language is called "the art of the possible" - that computers can do a lot of things for us, so we can always try to see what we can get them to do.

3. Everyone has their own story. Who or what would you say has influenced you the most?
A handful come to mind. My Dad is a huge influence. He is a tirelessly selfless person. He taught me the value of giving your time for others. He also taught me much about self-reliance, how to cook, how to use power-tools, and how to be a maker. At least a fourth of the furniture in our house growing up was made by Dad. Another influence on me is my brother who demonstrates how to be both personally successful and a man a strong family and faith.

4. Which question about your job do you get most often from other folks, and how do you answer it?
"What is it you'd say you do here?" The official answer is "lots of stuff." (better answers in #6)

5. Computer scientists can have a variety of jobs. Can you describe some of them, and what is your role?
My official tasks include supporting the primary product sold by the division in which I work. SAS is a company that produces its own software language for statistical data analysis. We also produce software programs that facilitate using the SAS language for certain tasks. One of those is the SAS Fraud Framework which is web-based and allows our customers to interact with the reports and analysis that we prepare for them. The facets of my job are writing SAS code to create the reports and analysis, and writing additional code that populates the web display for customer use.

6. Describe your typical day on the job. What is your favorite part about your job?
My favorite part of my job is that I'm not limited to my specified tasks. After nearly seven years here, I have been able to acquire some latitude to look through our processes and our programming and find key places where significant improvements can be made and make them. I still do the typical customer interactions like my peers, but at least 50% of my time is being a "force multiplier" as described by my manager. (A coworker at my last job would say "we make things more better."). Something I completed recently is using what I know about processing efficiency to rewrite a significant portion of our healthcare provider networking algorithms to perform 85% faster. (What used to take 350 hours to run, now only takes 52 - still a long time, but we talking about data tables with half-of-a-trillion records in them.) But, generally I spend time at my computer writing code and helping my coworkers to do the same.

7. What sort of training and education did you complete?
On my own as a teenager and at Summer Ventures, I learned the BASIC programming language. I have undergraduate degrees in Science Education and Physics. While in college I learned C++ and dabbled in Matlab and Maple. I was originally a high school math and science teacher. I went back to school for a Master's degree in Applied Mathematics which is where I learned most of what I know about computational efficiency as well as a firm foundation in Matlab. I worked at a web-company and learned MySQL and Perl on the job as well as Mathematica. I went back to school again for a Master's degree in Analytics where I completed several courses related to my current industry as well as successful certification in Basic and Advanced SAS Programming.

8. If you had to give a single piece of advice to a young person looking toward computer science as a career option, what would it be?
Learn SQL and *at least* one other language. Many languages and operating systems are available open source which is great. Get a unix computer, install a web-server, and start writing database-driven webpages using SQL and either Perl or PHP. Learn javascript. Learn mobile web development. There are a lot of technologies that are easily accessible for free on the web for learning purposes. And cheap computers like the Raspberry Pi make the hardware accessible, too. Build a website, build a mobile-app, get an arduino and make some servos move. And, *take a logic course* Learn what the opposite of "A and B" is.

9. Where do you see yourself / your family in 10 years?
I'd like to have traveled more in the next 10 years than I have in the last 10.

10. What makes you happy?
Mild weather, swimming, routine, good conversation, making things - especially making things for others. 

11. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself, your journey, or how to pursue a career in the computer science?

Like most careers the people who truly stand out technically are the ones who immerse themselves in what they do. The difference between interest and passion. We all hope to be blessed to work in a field that interests us. But the things you're passionate about are the ones you'll do on your own. I do a lot of programming and web-development pro bono for the NCHSAA and a dog-rescue for which I volunteer because I enjoy it. It's a good way to know you're in the right field. 

One caveat to that is a great piece of advice I heard from Mike Rowe. "Don't follow your passion, but always bring it with you." Your passion may be stained glass window repair, but how many of those opportunities are there really? You may find yourself doing something that's hard to be passionate about, say, septic tank cleaner. But bring your passion with you. Passion for a job well-done, a well-pleased customer, and a well-regarded coworker. Which brings me to my second point. Standing out technically is not enough to stand out. Those that truly shine in industry are the ones who are not only superbly capable, but those who make others around them better. Share what you know - when asked. Find ways to make everyone else better.

As you can see, there is a lot to the field of Computer Science.  We hope that this has helped you to understand the career just a little bit better.  Discover more about Computer Science as a career path here!

Sunday, July 30

All Saints Movie & Giveaway

The movie All Saints is set to open August 25th, and it may be one of the best unheard-of films this summer!  Rated PG, and running at less than two hours, this is an uplifting story of crisis and faith.  This is a true story, and is filmed on location at the All Saints church near Nashville, TN.  In the trailer, Spurlock prays, and then he says 'we have farmland, and we have farmers' as he comes to terms with what he's about to do - an act that will jeopardize his career as a priest, but ultimately save the church and its congregation.

Movie Summary :

Michael Spurlock decides to trade in his corporate sales career to become a pastor. Unfortunately, his first assignment is to close a country church and sell the prime piece of land where it sits. He soon has a change of heart when the church starts to welcome refugees from Burma. Spurlock now finds himself working with the refugees to turn the land into a working farm to pay the church's bills.

Visit the All Saints official film site to learn more about the movie, access behind-the-scenes videos, check out photos and news, find a theater near you, purchase tickets, and more!

Movie Extras :
John Corbett may not want to play a nice guy anymore, but he does it so well!  In the film, we learn about a refugee crisis in Southeast Asia (and one that I knew nothing about), and how this tiny, rural church helped the refugees at the same time that the refugees helped the church.  Learn more about the Burmese / Karen people in the clip below :

Enter to win two tickets to see All Saints by leaving a comment below.  Winner will be randomly selected on August 7th.

As a Featured Contributor with Columbia TriStar Marketing, I had the pleasure of viewing the trailers and special features ahead of movie release.  It is a must see film! In theaters August 25!

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Monday, July 24

Slow Cook July

July : Sweet Summer Treats
Learn the Crockpot Basics!!

Caramelized Peaches
  • 6 peaches, sliced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 1/4 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • ice cream (optional)
  1. Coat peaches in lemon juice.
  2. Whisk together sugar, butter, cream, and cinnamon.  Add peaches and coat well.
  3. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours.
  4. Serve with ice cream, if desired.

Lemon-Berry Cake
  • 3 eggs (at room temp)
  • 1 c fresh berries (blue, black, rasp, or any combination)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c milk
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • powdered sugar (optional)
  1. In bowl, mix 1/2 c sugar, flour, zest, salt, milk, lemon juice, butter, and egg yolks (only yolk).
  2. In another bowl, beat egg whites until they form peaks.  Mix into batter bowl.
  3. Pour batter over berries and 1 Tbsp sugar in crockpot.  
  4. Cover and cook on high 2 1/2 - 3 hours.
  5. Uncover and cook 1 hour.  Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar, if desired.

Wednesday, July 19

Battle of New Orleans (Johnny Horton)

At the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport, we got to see battle gear!  The boys are all about weapons and war right now (old enough to think it's cool; young enough to still be innocent), so they got really interested in the Battle of New Orleans and the War of 1812 after seeing these exhibits.

The War of 1812 was America's "second war for independence."  It was only with the assistance of the pirate Jean Lafitte that Andrew Jackson and his troops held off the British during this important battle.  Since then, he has been known as "the pirate & patriot Jean Lafitte." At the museum, we saw swords, money, uniform hats, and other artifacts leftover from this battle.

Jean Lafitte Resources

Battle of New Orleans Resources

Tuesday, July 18

Doctor Aviation - Family Review

Doctor Aviation
If you’ve followed our journey for any length of time, then you know that aviation is celebrated in a big way around here!  We have multiple aviation-themed field trips each year, and find as many ways to work it into our school day as possible. 

When we first discovered Doctor Aviation, my son began salivating right at the keyboard!  Although it’s a high school level course, I acquiesced, and we are spending a semester doing in-depth studies on multiple facets of aviation.  Some are things we’ve studied in the past, but many of them are far deeper than we’ve taken it before, and there are also off-the-beaten-track topics, too! 

This go-around, we’re primarily using it as a summer unit study, and for the vast majority of his Boy Scouts Aviation Merit Badge.  However, we give this program an A+ and plan to re-subscribe when he gets to high school – as an elective!

The Program
There are fifteen lessons included in the entire semester.  Each one has a video, downloading PDFs, and suggestions for extra learning.

Lessons include :

  • PDF of “To Learn More” suggestions (books, videos, hands-on activities, research, writing assignments, etc)
  • PDF of “Guided Notes” (fill in the blanks / questions about the video)
  • 45-60 minute video
  • Exam Notes / Exams (not included in every lesson)
Each of the videos includes three twenty-minute long sections :
  1. Technical Trivia (about the mechanics of flying itself and being a pilot)
  2. Notable Innovator (about a famous aviator)
  3. Legendary Aircraft (about a specific plane)
I like how the videos cover all three topics, with limited review from previous lessons included as well.  When it became clear that they were a little long for my 10 year old’s attention (even with his interest in flying), we were able to easily break them into three shorter segments to watch separately.  The course combines raw footage and graphics with the lecture format.  ‘Doctor Aviation’ incorporates anecdotes from his actual experiences into the lectures, bringing the concepts to life!

The course covers history, science, vocabulary, and technology, but it also has fun trivia, too – like how the P-51 Mustang got its name!  The lecture format is where my little one got lost, but it is very appropriate for the intended grade level.  As an adult or high school course, this is fabulously done!  It is a very appropriate level of coursework for an elective, and I look forward to having my son take it again when he reaches that level.

Our Experience
If we were going to spread this course out over an entire semester, we would do one lesson per week, and then spend the rest of the week doing written activities and projects pertaining to that lesson.  When we re-subscribe in a few years, this will be how I have him go through the course, as it will be counting for an elective credit then.  Right now, however, my airplane-minded son is only ten years old, and this was his in-depth summer learning project. 

He watched one lesson every other day, completing the accompanying worksheets as he watched it, and then we talked about the program together.  (I also watched and listened, but from the kitchen – usually while doing chores.  This gave him the grown-up experience of taking the course alone.)  On the ‘off’ day, he did research to further explore topics that had peaked his interest from the previous day’s lecture.  Although some of the material was over his head (after all, it is intended for high school students and adults), it was not so much so that he could not enjoy it and learn quite a bit from it.

Completing this course gave him all of the background knowledge required for the Aviation Merit Badge for Boy Scouts.  We then took a trip to a local airport for the hands-on component.  I’m all about combining school with badges, as y’all well know!  

Just the Facts

  • $99 / semester
  • Online-streaming
  • Downloadable / printable components
  • Exams offered
  • Counts as a semester of high school elective credit

See what others are saying about DoctorAviation at the Homeschool Review Crew!

Crew DisclaimerAviation Course {Doctor Aviation Reviews}

Monday, July 17

Teaching Kids About Herbs : Calendula

July's herb is Calendula........the magic skin herb that will soothe your sunburn!

Just the Facts
  • Plant Description : Calendula flowers are often tall, with green leaves and yellow-orange flowers.
  • Parts to use : Flowers
  • Used primarily for : Bee sting, cuts / sores, skin inflammation, sunburn
  • You can make : Tea, salve, oil, lip balm

  • Calendula Salve : Mix 2 ounces of dried calendula with 1 cup olive oil.  Simmer 20 minutes on low heat (with your parent’s help).  Melt ½ ounce beeswax into a different pan and then pour in the herbal mixture to make a cream.  (If it is too hard, add oil.  If it is too soft, add beeswax.)  Spread on skin as needed.
  • Calendula Oil : Put herbs (dried herbs work better than fresh) into a glass jar and cover with oil.  Set into a cool, dark place and shake daily.  Leave 3-5 days before straining out flowers.  Store oil in a glass jar in a cool, dark place.  Place 3 drops oil in ear for earache, as needed.  Rub onto cuts / scrapes  / rashes, as needed. 

Do it Yourself!
  • DIY Resources :  Use the hardware resources listed here, along with dried calendula and beeswax.
  • Not ready to DIY? :   Try the Calendula Cream, Calendula Oil, or Calendula Salve.
  • Fun Bonus : Calendula was the original yellow dye for cloth.  Make a bit pot of very strong calendula tea, then strain out the flowers.  Place your cloth into the tea, add 1 tsp salt, and let simmer on low heat (very low heat) for at least an hour (and up to five hours, depending on how dark you want it).  Rinse cloth out and allow to dry, and you’ve just performed the original method tie-dye!  

Wednesday, July 12

Start Me Up (Rolling Stones)

As a kid, we used to have a pet named "Herman."  Herman was our sourdough starter, kept on the third shelf of the fridge, and everyday he had to be fed, just like a pet.  We loved Herman....he made the tastiest bread!  You, too, can have your own's really quite easy!

A lot of people talk about gluten-free diets, and while it's necessary for some, more people have a gluten-sensitivity.  By properly fermenting the gluten in wheat, it becomes more easily digested as the yeast pre-digests the phytic acid in the wheat, causing fewer issues.  

Sourdough bread can even be considered a health food!  When it's fermented, it unbinds, and makes available, amino acids, complex carbs, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, and several other trace minerals that our bodies need to function properly.

Many people see the process for making sourdough as overwhelming, but it's really quite simple - and once you get the hang of it, you'll always have fresh, nutrient-laden, bread available.  Added bonus - the smell of fresh bread baking!!

If you read through this and STILL want to skip the first step (making the starter), you can pick up a starter culture.

Step 1 :  Make the Starter

  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c cool water

Day 1 :  Mix flour and water in a glass or steel bowl.  Make sure it is thoroughly mixed.  Cover the container loosely and set it at room temp for 24 hours.

Day 2 :  You might see bubbling, but you might not, within this first day.  Either way, discard 1/2 cup of the starter and add another cup of flour and another 1/2 cup of water.  Cover and let stand at room temp for 24 hours.

Step 2 : Feed the Starter

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c lukewarm water

Day 3 : You should start to see some bubbling.  This is your baby for the next few days, and you'll be feeding it twice a day (as evenly spaced as possible).  For each feeding, discard 1/2 cup of the starter.  Then add one cup flour and 1/2 cup water and mix thoroughly.  Cover and let stand 12 hours, then repeat.

Day 4 : Repeat Day 3.

Day 5 : Repeat Day 3

Day 6 : If starter is very bubbly and growing, give it one last feeding.  If it is having difficulty growing, continue to repeat Day 3 until it is tangy-smelling, slightly acidic, and full of tiny bubbles.

Day 7 : If Day 6 went well, you may begin to use parts of your starter for baking.  Put the rest of the starter into a crock or other long-term home.  Store it in the refrigerator and feed it regularly - at least once a week.

Step 3 : Bake Your Bread (makes 2 loaves)

  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 2 c sourdough starter
  • 4 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  1. Mix water and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Give the yeast a few minutes to dissolve completely. Stir in the sourdough starter until the starter is mostly dissolved.
  2. Add in flour and salt.  Knead dough.  Add extra flour as needed if dough becomes too sticky (don't add too much).  Dough will be ready when it comes together like a ball in your hand.
  3. Coat mixing bowl with oil, return dough to bowl, cover and let stand at room temp 2 hours (until doubled in size).
  4. Pull out dough and divide into two parts.  Shape each loaf into a pan and let rise another hour.
  5. Bake 10 minutes at 450.
  6. Reduce heat and bake 30 minutes at 400.

Tuesday, July 11

Fascinating Physics - Review

High School science can be intimidating to a homeschool mom, especially one that may not have excelled in this area during her own high school days.  As our son matures, we’ve allowed him to have more student-directed learning…focusing on topics he is most interested in.  Lately, that topic has been Physics, so when Fascinating Education gave us the opportunity to review Fascinating Physics with a one-year subscription, we jumped on it!

The course is geared for high school, but could be used with an advanced 8th grader. It does go off the assumption that the student has a working knowledge of algebra and geometry. (Fascinating Education recommends this course order :  Chemistry, Biology, Physics.)  Fascinating Physics includes 15 lessons, covering over 150 subjects – each with its own video, text script, and assessment.  You can access a course outline to see a more in-depth course explanation for each course on the site.
My son liked the course well enough that it was the first thing he asked to do each day.  He logged in, completed the videos and assignments, and then he would ‘teach’ me about everything he had learned!  (There is no need for both a student and parent account – everything is mainstreamed within one account.)  One of the aspects he liked about the first lessons was how they applied the science to forensics, which is something he's recently shown an interest in.  In the above photo, with the graph, we are learning about how body temperature can tell time of death.

The Lessons include:
  • Lesson 1: Movement
  • Lesson 2: Vectors
  • Lesson 3: Forces
  • Lesson 4: Energy-Work-Power
  • Lesson 5: Circular Motion
  • Lesson 6: Fluids and Gases
  • Lesson 7: Waves
  • Lesson 8: Light, Part 1
  • Lesson 9: Light, Part 2
  • Lesson 10: Light, Part 3
  • Lesson 11: Electrical Charges
  • Lesson 12: Moving Electrical Charges
  • Lesson 13: Electrical Currents
  • Lesson 14: The Atom
  • Lesson 15: The Nucleus

The lessons center around videos.  They can be lengthy at times, but there is a great tool on the side of the screen where it breaks each segment into sub-segments.  This is handy for if you want to pause and come back later, or if you need to spend a bit more time on a particular concept.  If you have to stop midway through a video, your account will remember where and take you right back there to pick it up later. 

Each lesson also includes a downloadable / printable PDF script of the video, complete with all of the visual information.  This was SO helpful to my son – especially when he wanted to print something out to ‘teach’ me later.  (It’s not uncommon for me to feign ignorance to allow him the opportunity to teach me something – teachers do it all the time in school when they have students teach other students.  It helps to cement concepts within the brain; plus, if needed, I will occasionally point out where he has something not quite right.)

Finally, each lesson has an interactive assessment to review the material.  Links to the answer explanations are included so that the student can review any incorrect answers.

The videos go at a slow enough pace to follow, but fast enough to prevent boredom.  They are clearly spoken and line up well with the visuals.  Spend some time using educational videos on YouTube, and you’ll know that this is a blessing!  The first couple of lessons are super tedious, and we did have to push through them (he was ready to give up), but it’s because there is a lot of formulaic work and setting up the basics for better comprehension later on.  I’m happy to say that once you get deeper into the program (not too deep), the lessons become considerably more engaging!

One concern I have is that it’s touted as a full year high school science credit.  According to the FAQs, the content in the course is similar to that found in other high schools physics classes.  However, in terms of the amount of material, it doesn't seem to add up to the approximate 120-150 hours of coursework necessary for full year Physics class.  It seems to me that additional resources would need to be added to this class in order for me to feel confident that my student was doing work worthy of a high school course.

The c
ompany also offers Fascinating Chemistry (with labs), Fascinating Biology, Fascinating Medicine, and Fascinating Atoms & Molecules.

Fascinating Education
See what others are saying about Fascinating Education at the Homeschool Review Crew.
Biology, Chemistry & Physics {Fascinating Education Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Monday, July 10

Cultural Cooking : French

Remember reading A Tale of Two Cities?  On July 14, 1789, troops stormed the Bastille, a medieval fortress and prison in Paris. This was a pivotal event at the beginning of the French Revolution.   Bastille Day is a great French celebration, observed each year on July 14th.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris and the French national flag, or tricolor, are important symbols of Bastille Day. The French national flag is one-and-a-half times as wide as it is tall. It consists of three vertical bands of equal width colored blue, white and red.

In honor of Bastille Day, this month's kitchen adventure hails from France!  Bon app├ętit!

Coquilles a la Provencale
  • 2 lb sea scallops (cut into 1/4 slices)
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • flour
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • Garlic Butter
    • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
    • 1 tsp chopped garlic
    • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
    • 1 sliced lemon
  1. Season scallops with salt and pepper, then dip into flour.
  2. In skillet, melt butter and oil. Saute scallops until lightly browned.
  3. In separate pan, clarify butter by melting slowly, skimming off foam.
  4. Spoon butter into a skillet and heat, but do not brown.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in garlic. Pour over scallops. Garnish with parsley and lemon.
Haricots Verts
  • 6 qt water
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 3 lb green beans
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • salt
  • black pepper
  1. Bring water and salt to boil.  Drop in beans.
  2. Reduce heat and boil 10 minutes.  Drain.
  3. Melt butter over beans and season with salt and pepper.
Mousse au Chocolat
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 6 oz bakers chocolate, in chunks
  • 3 Tbsp coffee
  • 8 Tbsp soften unsalted butter
  • 4 egg whites
  1. Spray the inside of a ring mold with nonstick spray.
  2. Beat egg yolks and sugar with electric mixer until thick enough to form a ribbon.
  3. In double boiler, melt chocolate with coffee, stirring constantly.
  4. When chocolate has dissolved, bean in butter, making a smooth cream.
  5. Beat chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture.
  6. In separate bowl, beat egg whites until they form peaks.  Fold into chocolate mixture.
  7. Spoon mousse into coated ring and refrigerate at least four hours before serving.

Thursday, July 6

Jump Off the Sugar Bandwagon in July!

July – Jump off the Sugar Bandwagon!
Sugar.  It’s everywhere!  And it’s killing us slowly, like an insipid assassin. It’s an addiction that I daresay most of the world suffers from these days. There are a lot of people that advocate against any and all sugar, and I applaud them for their fortitude and ability, but I’m going to advocate against cutting down on sugars and choosing ‘better’ options.

Sugary Beverages
About a third of sugar that we consume comes from sugary beverages. That is A LOT.  This month, take a look at what you're drinking.  Sugar is sugar - whether it's stevia, high fructose corn syrup, or granulated sugar.  Granted, we do need some sugar, and not all sugars are created equal, but they do all cause inflammation in your body.  

Juice, in particular, is a little bit more insidious and a concern in our excessive sugar intake in our diet.  We think of juice as being healthy, but think of it this way....It would be hard to eat six oranges. But when you make it into juice, it becomes easier to consume what could have been a good substance, but in excess.

In the food arena, minimize your intake of processed foods, which usually have added sugars.  Also, steer clear of low-fat and fat-free foods --- how do you think they make them taste edible?  Sugar. 

Sugary Fruits 
In the rush to avoid sugar, many people now are avoiding fruits.  They believe that because added sugars are bad, the same must apply to fruits, which also contain fructose.  However… this is completely wrong, because fructose is only harmful in large amounts and it is almost impossible to overeat fructose by eating fruit.

Fruits are loaded with fiber and water, and have significant chewing resistance.  For this reason, most fruits (like apples) take a while to eat and digest, meaning that the fructose hits the liver slowly.  You want that extra fiber (adding Metamucil to a glass of juice will not create the same effect in your body!), and it helps your digestive tract.

 In the fruit hierarchy, choose fresh fruit, then dried fruit, with sweetened dried fruit a distant third, and juice in fourth place.

Many of the fruit juices on the market aren’t even “real” fruit juices. They consist of water, mixed with some sort of concentrate and a whole bunch of added sugar. But even if you get 100% real fruit juice, it is still a bad idea.  There is actually a lot of sugar in fruit juice, about as much as a sugar-sweetened beverage, but  there is no fiber and chewing resistance to slow down consumption, making it very easy to consume a large amount of sugar in a short period of time.
Sugary Grains
In the rush to avoid sugars, grains have gotten 
a bad rap.  While processed grains are generally best-avoided, there are still many reasons to choose whole grains.

The benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:
  • stroke risk reduced 30-36%
  • type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
  • heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
  • better weight maintenance
  • Other benefits indicated by recent studies include:
  • reduced risk of asthma
  • healthier carotid arteries
  • reduction of inflammatory disease risk
  • lower risk of colorectal cancer
  • healthier blood pressure levels
  • less gum disease and tooth loss
Choose foods that name one of the following whole-grain ingredients first on the label’s ingredient list:
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • millet
  • oatmeal
  • quinoa
  • rolled oats
  • whole-grain barley
  • whole-grain corn
  • whole-grain sorghum
  • whole-grain triticale
  • whole oats
  • whole rye
  • whole wheat
  • wild rice
What to look for on the food label:
1.   Foods labeled with the words "multi-grain," "stone-ground," "100% wheat," "cracked wheat," "seven-grain," or "bran" are usually not whole-grain products.
2.   Color is not an indication of a whole grain. Bread can be brown because of molasses or other added ingredients. Read the ingredient list to see if it is a whole grain.
3.   Use the Nutrition Facts label and choose whole grain products with a higher % Daily Value (% DV) for fiber. Many, but not all, whole grain products are good or excellent sources of fiber.
4.   Read the food label’s ingredient list. Look for terms that indicate added sugars (such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, or raw sugar) that add extra calories. Choose foods with fewer added sugars.
5.   Most sodium in the food supply comes from packaged foods. Similar packaged foods can vary widely in sodium content, including breads. Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose foods with a lower % DV for sodium. Foods with less than 140 mg sodium per serving can be labeled as low sodium foods. Claims such as “low in sodium” or “very low in sodium” on the front of the food label can help you identify foods that contain less salt (or sodium).

Sugary Treats 
You aim to eat right and exercise most of the time, but we all stray from our healthy path every once in a while . . . and it’s a good thing.  When the holidays come up, and all those yummy family feasts, you can be sure that more people will be indulging than not….

Allowing yourself indulgences as an exception, rather than the rule, will make you happier in the long run and make you more apt to stick to your diet.  So go ahead, and enjoy that one piece of pie!!