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Green Chile Pie

What won’t green chile go with?

—Francie Zeller

If you ask any New Mexican this question, they will say chile goes with absolutely everything. So one holiday season at The Merc, I tried something a little different. To my surprise, it was the biggest hit. What was it? Green chile apple pie! Sound a little strange? Well, give it a try. This pie has traveled to New York City, Chicago, and even Michigan.

Any pie crust will do. Cheat, make that the easy part. I like the folded crust in the dairy section, since you will need two pieces—one for the bottom and one to top the pie.

Green Granny Smith apples are the perfect complement, but you can use any apple of your choice. Again, make it easy, don’t peel the apples. Just core, slice, and remove the seeds. For a large pie, you’ll need eight to ten apples.

Mix the apples with 3/4 cup of sugar, two large spoons of cinnamon, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of well-drained hot green chile. Toss it all together and fill your pie shell, dot with butter, and dust with a spoon or two of flour. Cover your pie and crimp the edges well. Cut about six vent holes on top. This allows the steam to escape. Brush your pie with a pure, well-beaten egg wash. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar just around the edges for a decorative effect.

Bake on a cookie sheet to prevent any spills in the oven. 350 degrees should be fine. Bake your pie until it is completely golden brown.

This recipe is as easy as pie! Go for it!

You’ll need:

  • •Pie crust
  • •8 to 10 Granny Smith apples
  • •3/4 cup sugar
  • •Cinnamon
  • •Lemon juice
  • •Green chile
  • •Butter
  • •Flour
  • •Egg
  • •A pastry brush
  • •A good pie pan

Ten tips for holiday eating without weight gain

—Michelle May, MD

Do you anticipate the holidays but dread the “inevitable” holiday weight gain? Do your holiday events revolve around food more than meaning, people, presents, decorations, or travel?

Eating mindfully and preventing holiday weight gain during the holidays can be a real challenge unless you have a strategy. These ten holiday eating tips will help you enjoy the season more while eating less.

It’s easier to get distracted from signals of physical hunger and satiety at social gatherings, especially if food is the main event. Make an effort to pay close attention to your body’s signals.

Be a food snob. Skip the store-bought goodies, the dried-out fudge and the so-so stuffing. If the food you select doesn’t taste as good as you expected, stop eating it and choose something else. Think of how much less you’d eat if you only ate things that tasted fabulous!

Ignore the old diet advice of “eat before you go to a party so you won’t be tempted.” That is absurd! You want to be hungry enough to enjoy your favorites. Pace your eating prior to the event so you’ll be hungry but not famished at mealtime.

Most people are food suggestible, so socialize away from the sight of the food.

Survey all of the food at a buffet before making your choices. Choose the foods that you really want most and remind yourself that you can have the other foods another time.

It’s common to have holiday treats lying all over the place this time of year. Grazing mindlessly leads to eating food that you won’t even remember. Eat mindfully by reducing distractions and sitting down to eat—even if it’s just a cookie. Appreciate the appearance and aroma of your food and savor one small bite at a time by putting your fork down. You’ll eat less food but enjoy it more.

Before overeating, pause and take a breath; ask, “How do I want to feel when I’m finished?”

Be cautious of obligatory eating—eating just because it’s on the table, on your plate, you paid for it, it’s free, or someone made it for you. Deal with food pushers with a polite but firm, “No, thank you.” If you’re concerned about hurting their feelings, ask for the recipe or a small portion to take home with you for another meal.

Don’t use exercise as punishment for eating. Instead, look for opportunities to move more. For example, take a walk after dinner to enjoy the holiday lights, take a few laps around the mall before it opens to do some window shopping, or take guests to local attractions.

Most importantly, delight all of your senses. Enjoy the company, the atmosphere, the entertainment, and the traditions even more than the food.

Michelle May, MD is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle.

Flash in the Pan

Flash in the Pan

Infant formula additives, claimed to make babies smarter, could make them sick

—Ari LeVaux

The Diarrhea Formula

If you believed a certain baby food would make your child smarter, would you buy it? Infant formula manufacturers are betting that you would. Since 2002, several baby food companies have fortified their products with synthetic versions of DHA and ARA, long-chain fatty acids, aka oils, that occur naturally in breast milk and have been associated with brain development.

The oils are produced by Martek Biosciences Corporation from fermented lab-grown algae and fungus, and extracted with hexane, according to the company’s patent application. Hexane is a neurotoxin.

A growing number of parents and medical professionals believe these additives are causing severe reactions in some babies, and it’s been repeatedly shown that taking affected babies off of DHA/ARA formula makes the problems go away almost immediately. The FDA has received hundreds of letters to this effect from upset parents.

Ohio mother Karen Jensen says that due to health complications, she was unable to breastfeed her daughter, and so fed her Neocate, a formula containing DHA/ARA.

“At two weeks, my daughter would often stop breathing in her sleep, and was having various other serious health conditions,” Jensen told me in an email.

After many trips to the hospital, a CT scan, an EEG, time on an apnea monitor and thousands of dollars in bills, Jensen says, “we tried the Neocate without the DHA/ARA in it. Within twenty-four hours, we had a brand new, entirely different baby. She had no abdominal distress, no gas, she smiled and played and for the first time ever, we heard her laugh.”

Jensen’s story is echoed many times over in letters urging the FDA to ban DHA/ARA from baby foods, or to require warning labels advising parents that some babies may experience adverse reactions like bloating, gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, and diarrhea. While only a fraction of babies seem to react in this way, it’s a common enough occurrence to have earned DHA/ARA baby formula the nickname “the diarrhea formula” in the neonatal unit of an Ohio hospital, according to a nurse, Sam Heather Doak, who works there.

In 2001, the FDA had concerns about the safety of DHA/ARA formula additives, and notified Martek of the agency’s plans to convene a group of scientists to study the issue. Martek wrote back: “…convening a group of scientific experts to answer such hypothetical concerns would not be productive.” A month later, the FDA caved.

While quick to protest examination of such “hypothetical concerns,” Martek had already pounced on the hypothetical benefits of its oils.

In a 1996 briefing to investors, Martek explained that “Even if [the DHA/ARA blend] has no benefit, we think it would be widely incorporated into formulas, as a marketing tool and to allow companies to promote their formula as ‘closest to human milk.’”

Mead Johnson Nutritionals took the opportunity to heart, drawing the ire of breastfeeding advocates when it began promoting its Enfamil Lipil, containing DHA/ARA, as “The Breast Milk Formula.”

Mead Johnson was also involved with a report in the September/October issue of the journal Child Development, in which a Dallas-based team of scientists provided evidence that DHA/ARA in baby food improves mental function in infants. Several members of the team received research funding from Mead Johnson, as well as the coveted currency known as “consulting fees.”

The Child Development report claims that infants fed DHA/ARA baby formula (supplied free of charge by Mead Johnson) showed greater ability to solve certain problems, like pulling a blanket with a ball on it toward them. The researchers say this problem-solving ability correlates with enhanced IQ and vocabulary development later in life.

“New evidence favors baby formula,” announced the Los Angeles Times, in an ambiguously worded headline that begs the question: Over what is baby formula favored?

Breastfeeding advocates bristled at the suggestion that formula could be better for babies than breast milk. “Parents will be encouraged to forego breastfeeding in favor of a hyped-up infant formula,” complained Barbara Moore, president and CEO of Shape Up America, a pro-breastfeeding nonprofit. “Breast milk has other benefits not related to mental development. The CDC [Center for Disease Control] promotes breastfeeding to confer maximal protection against swine flu and other infections.”

Charlotte Vallaeys, a researcher for the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute has written a weighty report on the risks and benefits of baby formula containing DHA/ARA. She told me that the Mead Johnson-funded team behind the Child Development story is “the only group that has found real differences in cognitive development” resulting from the addition of DHA/ARA to formula.

Not that other researchers haven’t looked. To make sense of the growing body of research on the subject, a team of scientists led by Karen Simmer, a professor of newborn medicine in Australia, compiled a review, published in the Cochrane Library in January 2008, of the available literature. The team found that “feeding full-term infants with milk formula enriched with [DHA/ARA] had no proven benefit regarding vision, cognition, or physical growth.” A March 2009 review by the European Food Safety Authority also found the available data “insufficient to establish a cause and effect relationship” between DHA/ARA and brain development.

Nonetheless, the use of DHA/ARA has grown, and via some backdoor means has even won approval for use in Certified Organic baby formula and milk. In a Washington Post article on the eroding integrity of the Certified Organic label, staff writer Kimberly Kindy described how these lab-produced oils received organic approval.

“… in 2006, [USDA] staff members concluded that the fatty acids could not be added to organic baby formula because they are synthetics that are not on the standards board’s approved list… Barbara Robinson, who administers the organics program and is a deputy USDA administrator, overruled the staff decision after a telephone call and an email exchange with William J. Friedman, a lawyer who represents the formula makers.”

While serious questions have been raised regarding DHA/ARA’s safety, the issue remains in limbo, with concerned parents, medical professionals, and advocacy groups pushing one way, and deep-pocketed corporations pushing the other. The FDA did instruct Martek and other formula companies to conduct post-market surveillance of the health impacts of DHA/ARA-containing products, but after seven years, no reports of any surveillance has been submitted.

Until conclusive proof emerges on the safety and/or benefit of DHA/ARA in baby formula, it’s buyer beware for parents of newborns. Last I checked, breast milk—the product of millions of years of evolutionary shaping into the perfect food for babies—remains widely available, and free of charge.

Questions of ‘eggspiration‘

Q: How long do “fresh” farm eggs stay good in the fridge?

A: If kept refrigerated, eggs can keep safe for months after their expiration date. I know some farmers who stockpile eggs in the summer, when the chickens are laying overtime, and keep them in their produce cooler to eat all winter.

Nonetheless, the longer eggs are kept, even under ideal conditions, the higher the chances that they’ll go bad. If in doubt, use the “float test.” Place the questionable eggs in water. If they float, they’re bad. If they sink, they’re useable.

Of course, to legally cover my bases, I should say, “the minute the expiration date passes, throw it away.” But as the next question points out, blindly worshipping at the altar of expiration dates can get you in trouble, too. 

Q: I’ve been buying some local pasteurized heavy cream for my coffee. (Half-and-half? Why go halfway?) The last three containers I’ve purchased have started smelling sour and curdling in my coffee up to a week before the “sell by” date. What gives? What should I do?

A: From here, it’s tough to know why that’s happening. If you want to stick with this brand of cream, you should grab yours from the back of the display fridge—those bottles will often have a later “sell-by” date. And once you get it home, be extra-vigilant. The first smell of spoiled milk or cream often comes from the thin film that coats the dispenser from pouring, and isn’t in the liquid itself. At the first whiff of something wrong, pour the cream into sterile half-pint Mason jars and boil in a water bath for an hour. This re-pasteurization will buy your cream some time, and to me, makes it taste even better than before. 

Top ten holiday office party blunders

—Debra Fine

1. Skip the Party

Thinking of not attending? Think twice. Your presence is mandatory if you expect to attain or maintain visibility within your organization. If office parties are your idea of a root canal, approach the party as a task that you will succeed at making into a worthwhile investment of your time.

2. Forget to Wear Your Smile and Make a Positive Impression

This is the time to make those around you feel comfortable and enjoy getting to know you. Appear approachable in your body language with good posture (no slouching!), eye contact, and a warm smile. Appear relaxed even if you have to fake it, as no one wants to spend time with someone ill-at-ease or nervous. You participate in activities, devote time to hobbies; maybe you like sports and travel. You might even have attended the same school as someone you work with. This is the time to find out. Anyone will be delighted to learn that members of their team are actually multi-faceted human beings.

3. Drag Along Un-Invited Guests

Get a babysitter! Odds are great that your colleagues do not share in your delight for your children’s company. It has become less common to have family members at parties due to budget cuts. Bring your spouse or partner if it is clear that is the expectation. Never make assumptions.

4. Make Assumptions About Who You Are Talking To

Are you certain of this person’s position or alliances within the company? Probably not, so skip the gossip and negative comments of any kind. Prepare by reviewing a company directory in order know people’s names and be ready for introductions.

5. Wear Your “Cup Runneth Over” Cleavage or Your Tattered Harley Davidson T-Shirt

Despite encouragement from the executive suite that the office holiday party is a great time to “enjoy,“ “relax,“ and “just have fun,” odds are that does not mean wear the clothes you are the most relaxed in or have the most fun in, be it skimpy tops, or the jeans you wore to the Blink 182 concert. Imagine how unsettling it is to see extra skin on the boss or cubicle buddy, or what an unprofessional lasting image those jeans left behind. And it‘s an image not quickly forgotten when you are at your next quarterly revenue meeting requesting additional budget increases.

6. Get Drunk and Tell Your Boss How You Really Feel

Cocktails make for loose lips that sink ships! Watch your intake to insure your mind moves faster than your mouth. Abstinence for this party is a wise and risk-free plan. Anxiety is directly related to increased alcohol intake so if you must imbibe, just take a few sips, or water down your drink so it lasts a lot longer. As friendly as your boss is at the office party, this is not the time to ask for a raise, mention a friend who is looking for a job, or offer your opinion about the lousy coffee provided in the break room.

7. Limit Your Conversation to “Shop Talk”

You approach the manager, introduce yourself and then, well, what do you say? Guess what? He or she is probably is not hoping for an update on the project your team is in the thick of. If you like, you can keep the conversation work-related, just not specific to the current work you are doing: “Tell me about your career path in human resources...” or some favorite openings for these occasions: “What keeps you busy outside of work?” or “Tell me about your holiday plans...” People enjoy talking about themselves, especially when they perceive a genuine interest.

8. Mingle Only With Your Best Office Cronies

It is tempting to remain in your comfort zone, talking with the people you meet regularly within your department or enjoy lunch with a couple times a week. Instead, your company party may be the only time you have all year for a face-to-face conversation with the CEO. The office party is an opportunity to get to know new people and enjoy the chance for others to get to know you. Invest the effort in making sure the people who should know that you are there, know that you are there. Circle the room and say hello to your boss, her husband, and other decision makers and executives. Push yourself and introduce yourself to people you don’t know.

9. Leave Manners to the Etiquette Experts

If the invitation requires a RSVP, promptly respond either way; if the office party is being hosted at a home, bring a host/hostess gift; and even if the party is in a grand ballroom, thank your hosts or boss before you leave. If the boss is accompanied by his or her spouse, do not wait to be “properly introduced” or you will be taken for a snob. Treat the service people as you would members of your family with graciousness and kindness. And do not be the last to leave a party. You do not want to be remembered as the last person to take leave of the party.

10. Assume People Will Forget Your Blunder

So, you stepped in it. You insisted that children in private schools gain a far better education. You expressed your disgust with those who purchase foreign cars rather than American made and she’s drives a BMW. You shared an anecdote that is inappropriate. Now make amends. Apologize. Let your boss or team mate know what happened before they hear it through the grapevine. Get out in front of the problem. The mistake might not matter as much as how you handle what comes after it, experts say. So deal with it and move on.

Stop shopping and start thinking

—Judith Acosta, Signpost

The Writing on The Wall

The other night, a friend told me about a graffiti artist in New York City who’s been covering subway and building walls with a simple declarative statement: Stop shopping and start thinking!

This got my attention, since we are now approaching the season to shop… and shop and shop and shop. It also made me wonder what he was suggesting we actually think about. And perhaps more importantly, what we are doing instead of thinking.

So, more than halfway across the country, I went into town and I spent a day watching people. I observed them on the street, in stores, in restaurants, on television, at gas stations.

What I noticed overall was that the more intense the environmental stimuli, the less genuine interaction there was between people. Many walked about with glazed eyes and slightly open mouths. People appeared to be in deep trance. I am not aware of any research to validate or refute this observation, but it is what I saw.

The Impact of Too Much Information

It’s no secret that telecommunications have changed the world in which we live. There’s more information, more excitement, more scandal, more sensory overload, and more crisis than ever before. Seventy-five years ago in a small town, you could spend a whole week without knowing much more than the week before.

The important items—like the assassination of a president, the illness of a neighbor, or the arrival of the new preacher—made themselves known quickly enough. And people responded as necessary. But there were long periods of time that were left, well, unfilled and simple. Not that there was nothing to do. There was always plenty to do. But it was plenty of one thing or maybe two, like getting the field plowed or fixing the roof, or going to work and coming home, not lists of twenty, thirty, or forty things to do. Our ancestors were different in many ways, but perhaps the most significant distinction is that they had a lot less information to manage in one bite and a lot less to worry about. Crises happened, but they happened rarely. Now, crisis is constant. The critical state is the nominal one.

Viral Fear As Part of American Culture

Speed is only one part of a world that is spinning us out of control. On top of being pounded through all five senses, we are increasingly pressured on a psychological level: pseudo-intimacy, over-exposure (both physical and emotional), intensity, frustration, pressure to complete multiple tasks simultaneously, complexity and confusion of social expectations, and fluidity of family roles.

Fear has become so embedded in our culture we no longer notice it as fear. We see it as thrill. One Walt Disney theme park—a place that was created as a small paradise for children and an escape for the young at heart—now boasts a ride called The Tower of Terror. Can you imagine? “Daddy, after we see Mickey Mouse can we go on the terror ride?” How do you fit those two things together? I don’t think they were made to go together, especially in children. So, then, what happens to us when we force it?

The Addicted American

Americans have always been a brave, brazen group. While most of us are religious or at least spiritual and the vast majority are incredibly generous, we are also a culture of iconoclasts and take some delight in upsetting the old order of things, splitting open the delicately jeweled egg just to see what’s inside, racing across a forbidden continent to see who can get to the rocky coastline first.

Consider the sort of person, the individual that has those qualities. Now consider that individual over time as there are fewer and fewer old orders to overthrow, fewer and fewer gods to shatter against temple walls. The energy of that person, the forces at work in him have not been changed and as a result they must find some other outlet.

When we run out of continent, we must conquer space. When we run out of new fun, we must generate danger. We have become a nation of thrill addicts unable to be still or just be. So what do we do? I think we do what our graffiti artist said. We stop thinking and we shop.

Judith Acosta has a private practice in Placitas and can be reached online at






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