NYT: Study Weighs Risks of Vaccine for Cervical Cancer

The New York Times has an article about vaccines to protect against cervical cancer. A recent study shows the vaccine has about the same amount of risk as any other vaccine. (So if you’re OK with getting, say, a tetanus shot, then you should have no prob with this.)

The vaccine, called Gardasil, “was approved for girls and young women ages 9 to 26 and is recommended for routine vaccination of girls 11 and 12.”

The decision to get vaccinated for HPV (and cervical cancer) is an important and personal matter. It’s nice to have this information so that you can make an informed decision.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Fried Green Tomatoes: Not Just a Movie

You may remember Fried Green Tomatoes as a pro-woman movie from the early ’90s, but the titular fruit is actually a tasty summer treat.

Sure, fried things are in general not so healthy. But for an occasional treat, green tomatoes are certainly better than bacon or french fries.

Martha Rose Shulman at the Gray Lady serves up a recipe with a Mediterranean twist. (She recommends a heavy nonstick skillet, but I always stick with cast iron, to avoid carcinogenic teflon bits getting in the food.)

    1 pound firm green tomatoes

    1/2 cup cornmeal (you will not use all of it)

    Salt and freshly ground pepper

    Extra virgin olive oil or canola oil for frying

    1. Slice the tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick. Season the cornmeal with salt and pepper and dredge the tomatoes in it. You can do this in a large bowl, a flatter baking dish or a brown paper bag — whatever is easiest for you. You won’t use all of the cornmeal.

    2. Heat a heavy skillet, either cast iron or nonstick, over medium-high heat, and add enough oil to coat the bottom by about 1/8 inch. Fry the tomatoes on each side until golden, about two to three minutes per side. Drain on paper towels, on a paper bag or on a rack. Keep warm in a low oven until all of the tomatoes are fried. Serve hot or warm.

Photo and recipe are from the New York Times, natch.

Another Healthy Cool Summer Bev: Agua Fresca

Agua Fresca, a beverage made from melon, water and lime or lemon juice, is a wonderful way to keep cool in the heat of summer. Gourmet foodie blog Smitten Kitchen describes how to make it.

In Chinese medicine, melon has cooling energy. But be careful: while refreshing, it’s best not to have melon with breakfast as it is too cold for a morning stomach just heating up to digest food all day. Save melon for later in the day.

And I agree with Smitten Kitchen: leave out the sugar. Melon is plenty sweet on its own. If you do need more sweetener, I recommend agave nectar, a sweet, honey-like product of the agave cactus (tequila!), which has a low glycemic index so it’s gentler to the system.

Head over to Smitten Kitchen for the recipe and more info.

Found this tidbit via StumbleUpon.

EDIT: Before I could get this piece up on the intarwebz, Lifehacker beat me to it. But I still found it first! Ha!

Coconut Water: Nature’s Own (Wicked Expensive!) Sports Drink

I spent most of the week before last on a yoga retreat, which was awesome. But it was also blazing hot. Even with intermittent air conditioning, I was sweating like a hog. So I was in desperate need of healthy fluids, and I needed something more effective than just water, but better than a sports drink. The answer: coconut water.

Coconut water comes from the inside of an unripe, green coconut. It’s what would turn into coconut milk if the coconut were allowed to ripen all the way.

Unlike coconut milk, the water is light, refreshing, fat-free, and replenishes lots of the same things sports drinks replenish (especially potassium), without all the various sugars, colors, and flavors.

It is, however, quite expensive: almost $6 per liter. I recommend mixing it with some regular water. It won’t be quite as lusciously tasty, but it will go farther and still be good for you.

And you absolutely must have it chilled.

You can also make cocktails with it, but that will of course negate its effects as a sports drink. For example, Chuck T. at Flickr has posted a recipe for a Coconut Water and Ginger Caipiroska:

You can find it at Whole Foods, and probably some other places as well, such as Harvest in Cambridge. It comes in individual serving sizes and liters, in aseptic packages. There are several brands available, and each has several flavors.

My fav brand (based mostly on price) is Zico, and my fav flavors are plain and mango.