Welcome Linda!

We are excited to add a new employee, Linda, to our team.

She has worked in our industry for 15 years and is very knowledgeable about all of the products and services we provide. She will be based out of our new retail location – opening in April – and will also be working with our COPES clients.

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Mediterranean Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini

Ingredients
For the Quinoa:
3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes
2 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons kalamata olives, chopped
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Zucchini:
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 medium zucchini
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions
For the Quinoa:
1. Place the sundried tomatoes in a small, microwavable bowl and add just enough water to cover. Microwave for 30 seconds and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain, cool, and chop the tomatoes.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water or stock to a boil in a saucepan, and add the quinoa. Lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the outer rim of the germ is visible, about 12 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat, fluff quinoa with a fork, and let stand uncovered for 5 minutes.

3. While the quinoa is cooking and the tomatoes are rehydrating, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, for about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the chopped garlic to the onion and sauté for another minute. Remove from heat.

4. Transfer the chopped tomatoes, onion mixture and quinoa to a large bowl and stir in the olives. Cool the mixture completely and then stir in feta cheese. The quinoa mixture can be made ahead up to a day ahead of time.

For the Zucchini:
1. Cut each zucchini is half lengthwise, and slice a small slice lengthwise off of the outside of each half so that the halves will sit flat in a dish. Using a small metal spoon or melonballer, create a well for the stuffing by scooping out about half of the flesh in the center of each zucchini half.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle scooped side of zucchini with pepper, and place scooped side down in hot pan. Sauté until zucchini is golden, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.

3. Place zucchini halves in a baking dish, scooped side up, and fill each half with quinoa mixture, dividing evenly amongst zucchini halves.

4. Bake until zucchini is tender when tested with a fork, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Courtesy of Food Fit

Coffee for Sensitive Stomachs?

For millions of coffee-lovers with delicate stomachs, scientists may have found a way to enjoy an eye-opening cup of java without gastrointestinal discomfort.

European researchers studying stomach-irritating chemicals in coffee have unexpectedly found one that actually inhibits acid production in the stomach. “The major import of our work is that it provides scientific evidence that you can produce a more stomach-friendly coffee by varying the processing technology,” said study author Veronika Somoza, professor and chair of the Research Platform of Molecular Food Science at the University of Vienna, Austria. The finding offers the promise that coffee makers can produce a blend that will be easier on the tummy, Somoza said.

The scientists looked at coffee’s effect on human stomach cells using a variety of preparations, including dark-roast, regular roast, decaffeinated and stomach-friendly. Instead of one single element, they identified a mixture of compounds — caffeine, catechols and N-alkanoly-5-hydroxytriptamides — as the chemicals in coffee that promote the production of stomach acid. But a fourth chemical, N-methylpyridinium, which is more common in dark roasts, such as espresso and French roast blends, was found to inhibit acid. N-methylpyridinium is a product of the roasting process itself, resulting in dark roasts that are less likely than lighter ones to cause stomach irritation, according to the research.

Whether the findings will translate to human coffee drinkers remains unclear. The authors hope to conduct tests with human coffee drinkers this year.

Dr. Joseph Vinson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania who has studied the antioxidant properties of coffee, said the study suggests the possibility of a less troublesome brew. “Cell studies can be legitimate. They can lead to human studies that will say the same thing,” said Vinson. “She [Somoza] has figured out a research approach that is one way to do it, and it’s a question of whether it is relevant to the human realm.” Vinson predicted it will be. “There’s more than enough data [in the study] to make it interesting,” said Vinson. “There can be this special coffee that doesn’t bother you.”

The potential market for a kinder, gentler coffee is huge. About 40 million people in the United States alone avoid java, often because of acid reflux disease, a common stomach problem for coffee drinkers, according to background information from the American Chemical Society. Stomach-friendly coffees are already on the market, but some doctors don’t recommend them for people with acid reflux, which pushes stomach contents back up the esophagus, causing heartburn.

The study suggests some balance of “good guys” and “bad guys” in coffee, and the process used to make it more stomach-friendly eliminates both, he noted. The study’s identification of components causing problems for coffee drinkers is a valuable finding and supports his medical advice that some people should avoid drinking coffee entirely, he said. “It shows a reason, and you always need to have a reason. At the end of the day, if you have significant acid reflux disease, you should not drink coffee,” said Starpoli.

Many medications prevent acid reflux, and Starpoli believes they help. But he cautions against their overuse by folks who take them so they can have coffee, wine or other heartburn-inducing foods. The medicines can inhibit the acid that kills helpful bacteria, sometimes causing diarrhea and other serious problems, and can also become addictive, Starpoli said.

Production of a less-irritating coffee would be welcome news, because so many patients resist giving up their daily java, he said. “It’s almost a completely non-negotiable item for some of them,” he said.

Courtesy of Health.com

Choosing a Nursing Home

The decision is one of the hardest you will ever make. Your spouse, parent or another loved one needs care that assisted living or home health care simply cannot provide. You need to choose a nursing home. The horror stories are well documented, and even in the best situations the transition can be wrenching for the entire family.

Finding a good nursing home takes research and perseverance. You want a safe, engaging and pleasant environment with caring staff and solid medical practices. “You can actually get all of that in a nursing home — if you know what to look for and how to search,” said Larry Minnix, chief executive of the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, a trade group for nonprofit nursing homes and other organizations for the elderly.

Unfortunately, the typical search for a nursing home is made under duress. More than 60 percent of admissions come from hospitals. The patient may have broken a hip or had a stroke and now needs rehabilitative care. The hospital is in a hurry to discharge and may move quickly to get the patient moved to an available nursing home bed, regardless of the operator’s quality or reputation. “Hospitals ought to be more aware, but it often is just not on their radar screen whether they are sending a patient to a good nursing home or a bad one,” said Janet Wells, director of public policy at the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, an advocacy group. In such situations, you have precious little time to do your research. What is more, these temporary stays often become permanent, depending on the individual case and sometimes on the quality of the temporary care received.

Paying for a nursing home is another huge source of stress. Medicare pays only for medically necessary care in a skilled nursing home, like physical therapy or intravenous medicine. It does not pay for what is called custodial care — help with walking, eating, bathing and other daily tasks. Instead, the majority of nursing home residents pay from personal money, long-term care insurance policies or, if they qualify, through Medicaid.

To find a nursing home you can really feel good about, consider these important steps.

START WITH THE DATA Every year the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services collect data on more than 15,000 nursing homes throughout the country. Health inspection data, staffing and quality measures are combined to come up with an overall ranking of one to five stars. To look up nursing homes in your area, go to medicare.gov and click on the “nursing home compare” tool.

In addition to the rankings, the site offers a useful brochure entitled Medicare’s Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home, as well as other resources. Keep in mind that government rankings have their limits, and they reflect the nursing home’s performance during only a short period. “Health inspection data is only as good as the data itself,” Ms. Wells said. She points out that many studies show that state inspections tend to underreport nursing home deficiencies and the seriousness of those deficiencies. “The home could be even worse than it appears in the rankings,” she said. “Of course, it could also be better.”

There are other shortcomings. For example, under the grading curve Medicare uses, precisely 10 percent of nursing homes in any one state are permitted to get five stars. That could mean a four-star-rated facility may be just as good as a top-rated home down the street but simply falls below the percentage cutoff, said David LaLumia, president of the Health Care Association of Michigan, which represents nursing homes and rehabilitation centers in the state. On the other hand, it could also mean that more homes would fall into lower rankings if the curve did not exist.

VISIT, THEN VISIT AGAIN Nothing substitutes for what you see, hear and smell when you visit a nursing home, Mr. Minnix said. Be sure to visit more than once and at different times of the day and different days of the week. Take the checklist from the Nursing Home Compare Web site with you. “Trust your five senses,” advised Mr. Minnix. “Does it smell like cleaning fluid and urine when you walk in or fried chicken and apple pie? You also want to see an ant farm of activity. Are the staff friendly and interacting with the residents?” Be sure to ask to speak with crucial leaders, including the executive director, lead physician and head nurse. If those people are not available, ask when you can meet with them. If you get the runaround, Mr. Minnix said, that could be a red flag.

When you do meet with the staff, ask them if you may attend a resident council or family council meeting. These groups are usually run by family members to address concerns and improve the quality of care. You will get a good inside view of what is really going on at the nursing home from these meetings.

WHAT TO ASK There are two big buzzword trends in nursing home management that can significantly increase the quality of care. Ask the nursing homes you visit if they engage in “person-centered care,” as well as “consistent assignment,” suggests Carol Benner. She is the National Director of the Advancing Excellence Campaign, a coalition of industry, government and consumer groups working to improve nursing home quality. Nursing homes that provide person-centered care allow residents to wake up when they want to, eat when they want to and generally set their own schedules. Traditionally, many nursing homes have had residents wake, eat, bathe and go to bed at the same times.

Consistent assignment, meanwhile, simply means that the same staff members — doctors, nurses, aides — treat the same patients each shift. The continuity of care reduces errors or problems and helps residents and staff members to develop a lasting relationship that can significantly improve a resident’s emotional well-being. “Imagine how much nicer it would be to know the same person will bring your tea each evening and already knows you like sugar in it,” Ms. Benner said. “We know from the evidence out there that a strong relationship between residents and staff consistently leads to better care.” It can also lead to lower staff turnover, because employees are naturally more engaged in their jobs and less willing to leave if they have developed relationships with their patients. Be sure to ask each nursing home you visit what percentage of their staff leaves each year. Less than 30 percent annually is considered good. More than 50 percent is a sign to look elsewhere.

A nursing home is not obliged to disclose this information to you, but if it does not, “that tells you something, too,” Mr. Minnix said.

CALL YOUR OMBUDSMAN Each state has a federally funded long-term care ombudsman who is an advocate for nursing home patients. This person can tell you if there are state rankings or surveys available in addition to the Medicare ratings. The ombudsman can also help you find the latest health inspection reports, which are public information, on specific nursing homes. Ombudsmen can also tell you how many complaints the office has collected about a specific nursing home and the nature of those complaints. You can find the ombudsman in your state online at the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center. Maybe most important, a good ombudsman will know about recent significant changes at various nursing homes.

When Ms. Wells recently helped a family member find a nursing home, for example, she was considering a three-star center close to home. But when she called the ombudsman’s office she discovered that the well-regarded director of that center had moved to a nearby one-star home. Ultimately, Ms. Wells decided to go with the lower-ranked facility because of the change in management.

Courtesy of NYTimes

New Retail Location to Open in April 2010

It is hard to believe that we are just about to welcome spring into our midst! A time for shaking off the winter blues and adding some “spring” to our step.

Over here at Professional Medical, we are preparing to grow by opening our new retail store in April, so that we can meet the requests of our clients who want more options and the ability to see and feel the products that might help improve their quality of life. Our retail store is set to open sometime next month on Lake City Way between 125th and 127th. Feel free to come in and explore what we have to offer.

Check back here and on our website for more information regarding location, hours, and products.

Grab Those Records: Vinyl Is Back!

“They lied to us, man,” he said.

Flipping through old vinyl albums at a used-record shop, I did what anyone does when a fellow human bares his soul: I ignored him. “They said CDs would sound better,” he persisted. “They lied!” He rapped a vintage Ramsey Lewis album on the edge of the bin, like a gavel, releasing that distinct scent of dust and decomposing cardboard.

“I got rid of my record player. I let my records go. And they never even bothered to bring back half of my old jazz albums. Not half. It was like they hooked us, and then they gutted us.”

It was a spontaneous outburst, but the gist of it I’ve been hearing for years among frequenters of the vinyl bins: despite the advantages of compact disks (CDs) over vinyl—you’ll never hear a CD pop or click, and you can access any track instantly—the supposed perfection of the format was overstated. Of course, the companies were just as over-the-top about LPs. Here’s a quote from my vinyl copy of Tony [Bennett]’s Greatest Hits, Volume III: “You can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future.” Pioneer audiophiles felt that way about Edison’s cylinder phonograph of the late 1800s and the 78-rpm shellac disks of the early 20th century. And even as the “never obsolete” vinyl promise was being made in the 1960s, guys in lab coats were dreaming up cassette tapes and eight-track tape cartridges.

Then came the CD in the mid-1980s, and everyone knew that vinyl’s days were numbered. But like those ancient tiny mammals that predated the dinosaurs—and then kept skittering around the feet of T. Rex and his pals—vinyl never completely disappeared: throughout the ’90s, hip-hop DJs spun vinyl disks, manipulating the turntables by hand for musical effect.

Now record companies are making money from vinyl again: vinyl-record sales soared 89 percent in 2008, while CDs, falling prey to Internet downloads, continued to trudge down the road to extinction. Music giant EMI has rereleased some 65 classic albums on vinyl, including acts ranging from Frank Sinatra to the Beastie Boys. U2’s newest album (No Line on the Horizon), Bruce Springsteen’s latest (Working on a Dream), and Harry Connick Jr.’s Your Songs have all done brisk vinyl business.

And it’s not just a generational thing. Newer acts such as The Killers and Ryan Adams are finding an LP audience as well, offering vinyl and MP3-download versions of their latest releases as a single package. In fact, whereas Borders and Best Buy stores have been reducing their CD space, both retailers have installed new vinyl-LP racks.

The Sound of Silence
It wasn’t the sound that sold us on CDs—it was the absence of it. Your first CD experience was probably a lot like mine. I was working at a tabloid newspaper in Florida, and one day the publisher called me into his office. “Siddown,” he barked. As always, I did as I was told. He just sat there staring at me, cigarette aloft in one hand. Then, suddenly, the crashing opening chords of Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien came barreling out at me from two large speakers. I leaped to my feet, as if to escape. My boss clapped his hands and laughed, sending ashes flying.

“It’s the silence,” he said gleefully. “A record warns you something’s gonna happen with all the noise it makes. But this is a compact disk. When it’s quiet, it’s damn quiet.”

Maybe too quiet. Even after CDs nudged vinyl out the record-store door in the late 1980s, enthusiasts stuck to their position that vinyl’s sound reproduction was ultimately more satisfying than digital’s. Warmer is the word used most frequently, and Jason Boyd, who oversees vinyl-record production and sales for music giant EMI, tried to explain it to me.

“The imperfections of the sound—the low ends—are sonically appealing,” Boyd says. “CD is most pristine. But vinyl has the warm, full sound of the music. The cracks and the little imperfections that pop up seem to enhance the music. It’s a way of experiencing music rather than just consuming it.”

Boyd is probably right. But here’s my theory: it’s the unique imperfections of each vinyl record that make it irreplaceable. After enough plays, a record becomes a fingerprint of your listening experience. Just about everyone who owned the Beatles’ White Album wore the thing down to a nub. Your copy, like mine, is a crackling mess through “Cry Baby Cry”—but then it becomes a mint-condition collector’s item the moment that unlistenable jumble of sounds the Lads called “Revolution 9” fades in.

Indeed, all of our records carry an indelible personal stamp: the skip on your copy of The Dark Side of the Moon that results in Roger Waters’s repeating “Money!” over and over…the holiday album you still play despite the damage it sustained in that unfortunate 1962 Christmas-tree pine-needle accident…the Shari Lewis record you kicked off the turntable while you were dancing, so now Lamb Chop repeats herself, like Rain Man.

See Me, Feel Me
Even the nonlistening rituals of record ownership are burned into the memories of everyone who ever had a collection. Need proof? Head down to a music store and buy a record—most larger shops now have at least a small vinyl section. The rest will come naturally: bring the record home (on the way, I guarantee, you’ll admire the cover artwork). Now slip your thumbnail into the cellophane sheath, right at the album’s business end, and slide it along. Feel that flutter in your stomach as the album opens? You’re remembering what it’s like to access your music with a single, graceful stroke—instead of peeling, stabbing, cutting, and finally biting your way into a CD jewel case. Now slide out the inner sleeve. There she is: the proud, black thing of beauty, her label winking at you through the sleeve’s center hole. As you extract the disk from the sleeve, you’ll find you haven’t forgotten how to hold it safely: your thumb at the ridge, the label resting on your fingers. If you’re lucky enough to still have your turntable, you’ll deftly center the record on the spindle. Best of all, the disk won’t hop into a drawer and disappear into a box, like a CD. It will stay right there in plain view, singing to you at a steady 33 1/3 revolutions per minute.

Then there’s the structure of a two-sided album. In the old days, records were programmed in two acts: Side One and Side Two. Someone who’s never flipped an LP would be mightily puzzled over the lyric at the end of Side One on the Carpenters’ fourth album, A Song for You: “We’ll be right back /After we go to the bathroom.” On my favorite album, Electric Light Orchestra’s Eldorado, Jeff Lynne ends Side One on a chord progression that is left unresolved until Side Two.

Your Song
In my world, digital and vinyl have found a way to coexist: when I’m on the subway, or walking on a bustling city sidewalk, the slightly shrill digital music flowing through my earbuds seems appropriate. At home, however—where I’m bathed in the warmth of family and familiar surroundings—the sounds from my old record player seem to float from room to room, filling every corner with aural incense.

“Vinyl will never be mainstream again, but it’s a growing niche,” says Michael Fremer, senior contributing editor for Stereophile magazine. (He owns 15,000 vinyl records.) “When a former vinyl listener reconnects, he or she says, ‘I remember that sound. That’s what I’m missing!’ And a new generation is discovering that vinyl sounds better and represents tunes sequenced as the artist wishes, rather than as a series of random events.

“I doubt kids will look back in 50 years and say, ‘I remember when I downloaded that!’ The forward-looking young people are going for vinyl editions of their important music.”

The End
Those of us who fell for the Great Lie will never fully recover. My distraught friend from the used-record store is right: we’ll spend the rest of our days trying to re-create our old collections, Ancient Mariners roaming the earth, our MP3 players slung about our necks like albatrosses.

But there will be the inevitable reunions with long-lost LP friends, the rush of anticipation when the needle hits that groove, and the exquisite moment when the music plays, warm and full, punctuated with the pops and crackles of passing time.

Courtesy of AARP.com

Common Cooking Errors: Live and Learn

Every cook, being human, errs, bungles, botches, and screws up in the kitchen once in a while. If you have not “caramelized” fruit in salt rather than sugar, you have not suffered the most embarrassing mistake made by one of our editors. We did not have to look much farther than our staff―and their encounters with readers, friends, and relatives―to compile a list of common, avoidable culinary boo-boos.

The creative cook can often cook her way out of a kitchen error, but the smart cook aims to prevent such creativity from being necessary. Here are 25 ways to be smarter every time.

1. You don’t taste as you go.
Result: The flavors or textures of an otherwise excellent dish are out of balance or unappealing.

2. You don’t read the entire recipe before you start cooking.
Result: Flavors are dull, entire steps or ingredients get left out.

3. You make unwise substitutions in baking.
Result: You wreck the underlying chemistry of the dish.

4. You boil when you should simmer.
Result: A hurried-up dish that’s cloudy, tough, or dry.

5. You overheat chocolate.
Result: Instead of having a smooth, creamy, luxurious consistency, your chocolate is grainy, separated, or scorched.

6. You over-soften butter.
Result: Cookies spread too much or cakes are too dense.

7. You overheat low-fat milk products.
Result: The milk curdles or “breaks,” yielding grainy mac and cheese, ice cream, or pudding.

8. You don’t know your oven’s quirks and idiosyncrasies.
Result: Food cooks too fast, too slow, or unevenly.

9. You’re too casual about measuring ingredients.
Result: Dry, tough cakes, rubbery brownies, and a host of other textural mishaps.

10. You overcrowd the pan.
Result: Soggy food that doesn’t brown.

11. You mishandle egg whites.
Result: The whites won’t whip up. Or, overbeaten or roughly handled, they produce flat cake layers or soufflés with no lift.

12. You turn the food too often.
Result: You interfere with the sear, food sticks, or you lose the breading.

13. You don’t get the pan hot enough before you add the food.
Result: Food that sticks, scallops with no sear, pale meats.

14. You slice meat with―instead of against―the grain.
Result: Chewy meat that could have been tender.

15. You don’t use a meat thermometer.
Result: Your roast chicken, leg of lamb, or beef tenderloin turns out over- or undercooked.

16. Meat gets no chance to rest after cooking.
Result: Delicious juices vacate the meat and run all over the cutting board, leaving steak or roast dry.

17. You try to rush the cooking of caramelized onions.
Result: You end up with sautéed onions, which are nice but a far cry from the melt-in-your-mouth caramelized ideal.

18. You don’t shock vegetables when they’ve reached the desired texture.
Result: Mush.

19. You put all the salt in the marinade or breading.
Result: Fish, poultry, or meat that’s underseasoned.

20. You use inferior ingredients.
Result: Sigh.

CLICK HERE to view the slideshow for helpful tips on how to recover from these common mistakes. Get out there and start eating!

Courtesy of Cooking Light