Lara Evans Bracciante

Restoring the Simple Pleasures of Food

The Art of Slowing Down

The succulent and distinct taste of a fresh Olympia oyster. The sweet, mellow, nutty flavor of dry jack cheese intensified by years of aging. The aromatic juiciness of a pixie tangerine. The richly flavored meat of the bourbon red turkey. Chances are you’ve never experienced any of the palatable pleasures mentioned here because these food sources are almost extinct, and along with them a slice of culture, and the appreciation for diverse and traditional foods.

But, then again, there may still be hope.

Meditate, Lose Weight

News Note

Mindfulness meditation can help control eating binges and may help reduce obesity, according to recent studies conducted by researchers at Indiana State University (ISU). In a pilot study five years ago, Jean Kristeller, professor of psychology and director of ISU’s Center for the Study of Health, Religion, and Spirituality, observed 18 women who regularly overate. After incorporating meditation techniques, weekly binges were reduced from four to one-and-a-half. These findings were corroborated recently in another Kristeller study of 100 obese men and women.

Lighting a Fire, Dousing a Flame

News Note

Setting the mood with candles could mean setting yourself up for respiratory problems. According to Andrew Weil’s Self Healing newsletter, the burning of the fragrant oils in scented candles can create significant air pollution, potentially comparable to that produced by diesel fuel exhaust. The produced soot particles can lodge deep in the lungs, especially a concern for young children, the elderly and those with asthma or other already established respiratory problems. Weil recommends unscented beeswax candles with cotton wicks when adding ambiance.

Gene Control

News Note

Doctors have long known that proper nutrition is important for pregnant mothers but, until a recent study published in Molecular and Cellular Biology, they didn’t know exactly why. Turns out, a vitamin-rich diet for pregnant women can actually turn off disease-causing genes in their unborn children. Researches used a strain of mice with a genetic trigger that causes a yellow coat and makes them predisposed to obesity, diabetes and cancer.

Chocolate Does a Heart Good

News Note

A box of chocolates for that special valentine may touch your loved one’s heart — literally. Chocolate is full of antioxidants called proanthocyanidins, the same compounds believed to be responsible for red wine’s heart-health properties. Proanthocyanidins have been shown to help reduce excess blood platelet aggregation, which can damage blood vessel walls and lead to stroke or heart attack.

Forbidden Fruit?

News Note

Approximately seven out of 10 food items in your grocery store have been genetically modified (GM) by artificially integrating one species’ DNA with another. For example, in some cases, tomato DNA has been spliced with fish genes to increase freezing tolerance in the tomatoes, and other produce has been genetically altered to contain its own pesticide, such as corn engineered to kill off corn-eating bugs.

Reducing Prostate Hypertrophy

News Note

A minute injection of Botox — the very same substance commonly used to abate frown lines and wrinkles — may ease benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) in older men. BPH, a noncancerous enlarged prostate, affects more than 50 percent of men over 60 and 80 percent of men by age 80. As the prostate increases, it impinges on and narrows the urethra, causing difficult and painful urination as well as increased frequency, urgency or a sense of incompleteness.

How to Avoid Lightning Strikes

Stay Safe During Thunderstorms

If you find yourself boating, swimming, fishing, bicycling, golfing, hiking, camping, or otherwise outside when a summer thunderstorm rolls through, know how to protect yourself from lightning — a phenomenon that kills an average of 77 people and injures hundreds more nationwide every year. While lightning-related injuries are most likely to occur in Florida, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, lightning-related fatalities are most common in Florida, Michigan, New York, Texas and Tennessee. Strikes are most common during the summer months between 2-6 p.m.

Summer's Natural Medicine Chest

News Note

Summer has arrived, meaning everyone’s spending more time outdoors hiking, biking, swimming, gardening, and traveling. However, sunburn, bug bites, and motion sickness often go hand-in-hand with these seasonal activities. Below are several natural remedies to help ease those acute issues and get on with enjoying the pleasures of summertime.


Aloe (Aloe vera), applied topically, is a pain-relieving anti-inflammatory that penetrates to injured tissue and soothes the skin.

The Great Pumpkin

News Note

During this harvest season, you may want to consider carving up your pumpkin for a soup recipe rather than a jack-o’-lantern. The orange pigment of pumpkin is rich in carotenoids — specifically beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene — which are powerful antioxidants with cancer-fighting properties. Studies have specifically shown the compounds in pumpkin help ward off lung, colorectal, breast, uterine and prostate cancers. Furthermore, carotenoids can boost immunity, help eyesight and protect cells from ultra-violet radiation.