What is your Favorite Beverage

For several years, I’ve virtually replaced my favorite beverage, Coca Cola, with a refreshing and healthier alternative, Lipton’s “Original” Iced Tea in frosty cold glass bottles, the flavor ‘Sweetened’ (No Lemon) being the hands-down favorite. Obviously in demand by many others besides myself, it is always the first flavor to empty off the shelves, be it the local grocer or the corner Quiki-Mart’.

It is an excellent iced tea, with the just the right amount of sugar to tea ratio, and, although expensive, at between $1.29 to $1.89 per bottle (or between $5.99 and $6.99 for a six-pack of glass bottles, in the supermarket aisle), I was hooked from day one and gladly plunked down the money that, in the past, would have purchased me TWELVE cans of cola, or an entire case during sale events!

Tea is good for the body. There’s enough caffeine to please those looking for a substitute to cola or coffee pick-me-ups, but less of the syrupy sweetness and zero carbonation, so those of us wanting a healthy beverage, but reluctant to give up sweets for substance entirely, finally seemed to have a new fix.

Of course, all can go well for several years without mishap. There WAS a tiny spike in alarm when Lipton seemed to be dropping the glass bottles in favor of plastic, sometime during 2004-2005, but mass protest mailings and phoned complaints from loyal customers, I’m sure, had a lot to do with nipping THAT tea-sacrilege in the bud! They still offer a plastic-bottled variety, but the glass-bottled individuals and six-packs returned, and became easier to find, as well.

The purists among us exhaled a collective sigh of relief and vindication.
Just don’t mess with that glass bottle.
Iced Tea just is NOT ‘iced tea in a glass’ without the GLASS!

It was as if there was a cult around this particular brand of ‘instant serve’ tea: in shopping lines, we customers would spot each other by the six packs in our carts, strike up conversations along the lines of ‘how long have you been drinking’, and sometimes we’d even have time in that long line at checkout to trade horror stories on not being able to locate the ‘sweetened-no-lemon’, and how far a person would have to drive until they found a new source… There was a camaraderie between us “Lipton “Original” Iced Tea, Sweetened – No Lemon” users that one just doesn’t see, anymore, between the major soda brands.
We were special. Lipton made us feel special. And we LOVED each other…

The honeymoon may be over.

Just a few weeks ago, as early as mid-March 2007, I discovered my local Wal-Mart had SOMETHING ELSE sitting in that spot between the Green and SuperSweet flavors, sporting the ‘Sweetened-no-lemon’ moniker, but on a label that was different in every other way:
“Lipton PureLeaf Iced Tea”.

“Oh, it’s the SAME tea,” the cashier assured me, when I asked, “It’s just another label design change.”

So I took it home, but warily.
As soon as I removed a bottle from the plastic six-pack wrapper, I knew something else was very different. I held it up to the light and was stunned. It was not the rich amber-red I had come to know so well. It now looked like APPLE JUICE, transparent and golden, like honey.
I opened the bottle, took a sip.

And it was, at once, foreign, undeniably WEAK, and almost too sweet in proportion to its weakness, It was as if somebody had re-brewed tea from old tea bags, realized their mistake, and ‘corrected’ themselves by simply adding a little less sugar – but not ENOUGH ‘less’.
There was no mistake: someone, somewhere, had CHANGED the formula or ingredients!
This was certainly NOT the same tea with a label design change’- it wasn’t even a comparable substitute!

For the following three or four weeks, I searched high and low, and even though I found there were still quantities of SuperSweet, Green, even Raspberry, flavors still available in their “Original” labels, the ‘sweetened-no-lemon’ had been cleaned off the shelves EVERYWHERE.
Now I was running into anxious others, like myself, and we openly wondered, in the checkout lanes and parking lots: “What was going on? If something was selling so well, why change it?”

Okay, so this is just about ICED TEA, not a world crisis.
I KNOW there are children going to bed without supper tonight, and I KNOW somebody somewhere is dying alone and in squalor… but this IS, after all, a SERIOUS change that affects a lot of people, loyal customers who don’t deserve being cuckolded by an IMPOSTOR…

I tried going back to my favorite Cola, but it just wasn’t the same.
I found myself waking at night, wondering if I’d checked that little mini-market in a small town half-an-hour’s drive away; after desperately acting on that impulse, I’d wind up driving back home with a can of Nestea in my cup holder (utterly NOT even close).
Every other morning would find me searching the internet, Googling ‘Lipton PureLeaf’ and finding NOTHING (except that 90% of the results were in CHINESE).
They could not SERIOUSLY be replacing the far-superior recipe (Original), that they’d won over millions of customers by, with the weak, insipidly sick-sweet, PureLeaf… could they?

It is said ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’
Well, my DESPERATION had become the catalyst for ME…
I broke, one afternoon recently, and brought two bottles of the PureLeaf version home with me. I had an idea, and nothing to lose (EXCEPT the almost $4.00 they cost me).

I opened a bottle and set it on my kitchen counter as I rummaged in the cupboard, found what I was looking for: a tall glass bottle of “Lipton Instant Tea – unsweetened”.
I took a clean dry teaspoon of the freeze-dried stuff and leveled it off.
The I let it sprinkle from the spoon into the contents of the PureLeaf bottle.
I capped it, shook it up for a few seconds.
(Of course, as with any home brewed ‘cold’ tea, instant or bag, the shaking will cause some tea-foam. This settles after a bit. Some of us tea-vets actually enjoy the fine foam.)

Wow…at least now it LOOKED like it was ‘back’ to its familiar color!
Uncapping the bottle, I took a deep breath, then sipped…

EUREKA! I almost shrieked with joy. Wait, I DID shriek – and my son came running into the kitchen.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, worried.

“I did it!” I declared, and this time took a long, thirsty drink.
“I FIXED it,” I happily told my son, waving the bottle of tea in his face, “LOOK at the color -it’s right again! And the taste -“
He was staring at me quizzically.
“I put in ONE LEVEL TEASPOON of INSTANT TEA, shook it up, and now it TASTES LIKE IT DID! It’s “ORIGINAL” again!”
I offered him the bottle, and he took a sip, then nodded, “Wow, You’re right.”
He looked relieved then annoyed, “Great, Mom,” and he left me in the kitchen to rejoice in solitude.

I finished the first bottle off, and just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, prepared the second bottle the same way.
It was HEAVEN. And I drank that one down to the bottom as well…

ANYONE, besides me (and I KNOW you’re out there), missing their “Original” sweetened-no-lemon Lipton Iced Tea, need only remember this TIP, in order to enjoy their favorite beverage again:

To one ice cold bottle of Lipton “PureLeaf” Sweetened (No Lemon) Iced Tea,
add one slightly less than a level teaspoon of Lipton Instant Tea
(the freeze-dried crystals most of us brewed-tea drinkers abhor),
dropped into the bottle of PureLeaf, then SHAKE WELL.

It appears this puts some of the missing TEA back into the drink, while cutting back some of the ‘over-sweetness’.
My solution added NO CALORIES. No Sugar, nothing harmful. Just a PINCH more TEA.

Now, WHY, Lipton? WHY would you, in making something purportedly ‘healthier’, strip as little as a half or level teaspoon of TEA from your recipe? How does removal of a PINCH OF TEA make this product ‘healthier’? Did it save the company a few pennies per dozen bottles?

My ‘fix’ will allow MILLIONS to quickly have their favorite tea BACK, thank goodness.
But I am still BAFFLED as to why the Lipton Tea people felt even that smidgen of ingredient cut would go unnoticed – and why they felt it necessary to change by that much in the first place.

If enough Lipton “Original” lovers read this, try it for themselves, and are as overjoyed as I was to find this simple ‘step’ FIXES the PureLeaf problem, fine…
But don’t stop there.
Write and phone your questions, complaints and protests to Lipton… email them from their website, but just don’t stand there.
Companies need to be made aware when their brand tinkering goes too far.

They need to know that they’ve made a change that ultimately has made their product one that now comes off the shelf requiring a PATCH.
And even Bill Gates would agree, that’s just not good business…

How to Make a Tortilla Bowl

One of the best parts of going to a Mexican restaurant is getting a tortilla bowl for your salad.  While these bowls are not the healthiest food, they are one of the best parts of a taco salad.  Fortunately, it is easy to make your own tortilla bowls at home, and they are a lot healthier than the ones that you get in restaurants.

Start by buying pre-made flour or corn tortillas.  In general, larger tortillas are better, but it is possible to make bowls of any size.  If desired, whole grain tortillas can be used. 

Next, measure your tortillas (or read their size off the package) and subtract four inches.  Using tin foil, make a ball that is approximately this wide.  For example, if you are using eight inch tortillas, make a tin foil ball that is four inches wide.  If you’re making mini bowls, make one inch tin foil balls.  Make a ball for each tortilla bowl you want to make.

After making the balls, microwave your tortillas for about fifteen seconds.  This will make them more flexible.  Then, place a tortilla over each of the balls, and place each tortilla with its ball on a cookie sheet.  If you’re making more than one, make sure that the edges of the tortillas are not touching.  If desired, brush the bowls with a small amount of olive oil before baking.  This will turn the tortillas a golden brown and make them crispier.  Bake the tortillas for about ten minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

After pulling the tortillas out of the oven, turn each tortilla over and discard the tin foil balls.  Your result will be tortilla bowls.  Because they are baked and not fried like restaurant bowls, they are much healthier for you.  These baked tortilla bowls also will not have any trans fats like the bowls that are produced by many Mexican-style fast food chains. 

In addition to using your bowls for taco salads, think about how to use them for other recipes.  For example, you can sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar before baking and use them as edible containers for desserts.  Fill the bowls with pudding, flan, or fruit.  Other possibilities include sprinkling garlic salt over corn tortillas for flavored bowls.  You can also bake two tortillas on top of each other to create a thick bowl that can be used to hold soup or stew. 

Ideal Charcoal Placement and Arrangement on the Grill

Spring is in full swing and the backyard grills are being fired up around the nation. Steaks, chicken, pork and veggies are being marinated, seasoned and cooked up for family and friends to enjoy. You will find, too, that there is no shortage of advice on what to cook, how to spice, how to grill it, how long to marinate it, etc..

You may even find that there are different theories as to how to arrange your charcoal briquettes in the grill. Many people will tell you that you need to arrange your charcoal into a pyramid, douse it with lighter fluid, set it ablaze and let it burn until the charcoal starts to turn white around the edges. They would then tell you at this point you need to spread your charcoal out evenly so that your meat gets cooked evenly. There is nothing wrong with this method, nothing at all. I’ve used it dozens of times, if not more.

But my preferred method of grilling varies slightly from the one just mentioned. I also arrange my charcoal into a pyramid, douse it with lighter fluid and then light it. After the charcoal starts to turn a little white around the edges I don’t spread them out evenly across the grill. Instead, I do something a little different-nothing! I leave the charcoal to burn in the form of a pyramid the entire time I am cooking.

This type of charcoal placement does require the outdoor chef to pay very close attention to what he/she is cooking, as the grill will remain hotter in the center. What are the advantages of cooking this way, you might ask? The first advantage of this type of charcoal placement is that your grill will remain hotter, longer. You will be able to cook more food for a longer amount of time, if you wish. But the reason that I grill using this method is that everyone in my home likes their meat cooked a little differently. My wife likes the outside of her steak, chicken and pork steaks to have a nice char on them, but still be juicy in the middle and not burned. My children like their meats just pretty well done and I like mine a little pinker in the middle, but with a nice char on the outside.

With traditional charcoal placement you could still have a char on the outside, but it would mean that the middle of the piece of meat would probably be pretty well done. With all of the charcoal remaining in the middle of the grill, the outside edges of the grill are quite a bit cooler (but still warm enough to cook smaller pieces of chicken and hot dogs thoroughly.) Here’s how I do it: I first wait until I can hold my hand about 6″ from the center of the grill for about 4 seconds without it burning. I then place the larger pieces of meat into a circle or ring around the outer edges of the grill, with all pieces pointed towards the center. The portion of each piece that is pointing towards the center will cook faster as it is getting the brunt of the heat. After a short while, I flip all pieces end over end and side to side as space permits. It’s just that simple.

As you’re cooking, the charcoal pyramid will get smaller and smaller but will still retain a good amount of heat. If your meat needs more cook time, you just move each piece closer and closer to the center. As mentioned earlier, this method of charcoal placement does require a little more supervision than others, as the portions of the meat that are pointed towards the center will burn quickly if not monitored closely. But, if done correctly, you will be left with very juicy, thoroughly cooked meat that has a beautiful char on it that can be tailored to your guests desire.

Authentic German Strudel

Strudel is a delicious dessert made from high gluten flour, stretched thin over a filling.  Many people associate strudel with western European companies like Germany and Austria where it has been enjoyed for hundreds of years but strudel was born from traditional Turkish baklava when it was introduced into Austria during the mid 15th century. 

Attempting to make strudel for the first time can be a bit overwhelming.  But if you are an adventurous baker there are several tips to keep in mind if you want to try to make homemade strudel on your own.  There are several steps to making strudel that makes strudel what it is.  Without these steps strudel wouldn’t be strudel. 

The first thing that a baker needs to know before buying ingredients to make strudel is to look for high gluten flour.  Gluten is needed to give strudel dough its elasticity.  Strudel dough is stretched so thin over filling; sometimes so thin it may appear translucent.  Not just any type of flour will give you this elasticity. 

The second thing a baker needs to know in order to make authentic strudel is that kneading the dough is the key to giving gluten flour its elasticity.  When you make strudel for the first time you may feel as if you just worked out on a punching bag.  In order to make thin dough you may need to punch and knead dough for up to 20 minutes. 

Recipe for Authentic Strudel Dough

1 1/3 C high gluten flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

¼ C water

2 T canola oil

1 t vanilla

 Directions:

 In a large stand mixer mix flour and salt. 

 Mix water, oil and vanilla in a separate bowl.  Add to flour mixture.

 Mix in stand mixer until a soft dough forms.  You may add more water if necessary.  Once a soft dough is formed change beaters to dough hooks and mix on medium speed until a dough ball forms and the sides of the bowl are clean. 

Remove dough ball from mixer and rotate punching and kneading the dough ball for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes of kneading place dough ball in a bowl, cover and set aside while you prepare your filling. 

Once filling is prepared your dough needs to be worked with to stretch it.  Take your dough ball out of its bowl and knead it for another 5 to 10 minutes.  Then you want to place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it as thin as you can possibly get it.  Rolling strudel dough works best if you have a large area such as a table or a kitchen island where you can roll out the dough. 

Your strudel dough needs to be rolled until it is just millimeters thick.  Try to roll it into a square if you can.  A dough square 2 feet by 2 feet is a good goal.  If your dough still isn’t thin enough roll until it is almost transparent. 

Your dough is now ready to be filled and baked.

Here is a traditional recipe for authentic apple strudel (Apfelstrudel):

 ¼ C golden raisins

1/2 T cinnamon

1 t nutmeg

1 stick of melted butter

½ C brown sugar

½ C walnuts or slivered almonds

2 lbs tart apples (baking apples), cored, peeled and diced

strudel dough prepared (see recipe above) 

Directions: 

Mix raisins, apples, nutmeg and cinnamon together and set aside.

Using a pastry brush coat your strudel dough with melted butter.

Cover strudel dough with nuts.

Cover nuts with apple mixture. 

Starting at the left roll your strudel dough into a roll. 

Trim the ends.

 Place your roll on a parchment lined baking sheet.  You may choose to leave it in a log, make a horseshoe shape or make a circle. 

 Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until your strudel is golden brown and bubbling in the center.  Serve warm. 

Today many bakers choose to substitute traditional strudel dough with phyllo dough or premade pie crust.  This may be because strudel dough can be difficult to prepare but keep in mind if your goal is to make authentic strudel using a substitute  is nothing like the real thing.  Thin, transparent dough is what makes strudel.

Apple strudel is the most popular kind of strudel.  Many other types of fruits are also enjoyed in strudel as well but authentic recipes may include different kinds of nuts and seeds, dates, and figs.  Savory strudels may be enjoyed as a dinner meal.  Vegetables and meats may be baked in a strudel.  In Germany and other western European countries blood sausage is often baked into strudel. 

If you are the type of baker who learns by example you may want to check around your local community.  Many communities in the United States have German settlements (over 51 million people in the United States can claim German ancestry) and within these settlements annual festivals and heritage days are often held. Introduce yourself at a local festival and you may just make a German friend who has a recipe that has been handed down through the generations. 

The Amazing Delicious Drink Called Goyin

Everyday, I drink a scientific wonderful health drink called Goyin.

Call me crazy, but what can I say, I am a Goyin drinking machine. And, you know what else, I love it.

Well, what is the reason I like it so much? There are wonderful characteristics of this drink that make it awesome.

#1 – The Ingredients. GoYin Juice is a blend of 7 fruits: Cili , Longan, Gac, Hawthorn Berry, Lycium berry, Mangosteen and Seabuckthorn berry and 7 herbs: Astragalus, Coriolus versicolor, Jujube date, Ginger, Rhodiola rosea, Schisandra]berries and Tangerine peel.

These ingredients have proven scientific qualities that allow great longevity and vitality of life. The FDA does not allow certain words to be used to describe a drink, otherwise it can be listed as a drug. Ask Kevin Trudeau… he’ll tell you all about it. However, all you have to do is look under the natural healing processes and anti-oxidant powers of the above ingredients to know that you are providing a wonderful source of energy to your body with Goyin. Natural healthy energy is always more beneficial than artificial sources.

Those ingredients alone are wonderful natural substances that make my body HEALTHY and WHOLE. I’ve been consuming Goyin for the past 6 weeks, and without question, I can feel the wonderful aspects of this consumption in my physical energy and health.

#2 – The energy I have from drinking Goyin is vastly improved from drinking other drinks. I do not have the same “up and down” effect as I would from other drinks like Red Bull, Rockstar and others. Goyin has proved beneficial to my overall well-being.

Xangosteen is an amazing superfruit that provides strong benefits for my body. Cili, Longan, Hawthorne Berry… has anyone ever even heard of those ingredients? I hadn’t either, until now, and they have been wonderful. You can learn more about Goyin at www.mygoyin.com/goyincharlie.

I’m not a big believer in “miracle cures” and all the alternative medicine stuff that’s out there. I never have been. I don’t have any desire to put fast food and other unnatural foods and drinks into my body though. There’s a challenge out there that talks about Goyin. IF you desire to feel stronger, leaner, more vivacious, and energetic, I would suggest this wonderful concoction!

The best way to Share a Restaurant Bill with others

The easiest way to split a restaurant bill when you are eating with a group is to split it evenly, so that everyone pays the same thing.  If everyone agrees, then you’ll be in great shape,  and the meal will end on a happy stress-free note.

Sometimes, though, at least one person will object.  Some people like to figure out their shares exactly down to the penny.  Some feel, reasonably, that it would be unfair to split the bill evenly if they ordered food that was significantly less expensive, or if other people ordered drinks and they didn’t.  If you end up having to figure out everyone’s bill individually, the larger the group, the more difficult it will be.

If you anticipate that people will not want to split the bill evenly, then you can try, at the beginning of the meal, to request separate checks.  Some restaurants will be glad to do that, while others won’t, especially if the group is large.

If you can’t get separate checks, and if everyone does not agree to split the tab evenly, then you’re just going to have to bring out the pencils, calculators, and cell-phone calculators and figure it all out.

Even if some people in your party insist on figuring out individual shares, you might still be able to save some trouble if you can convince them to let you (or whoever is in charge of figuring out the bill) round off and approximate the bills.  Some people, though, will insist on figuring everything down to the penny.

The next hurdle is figuring out the tip.  If some people in your group are generous tippers, and some are – let’s say, not so generous – that can cause a great deal of conflict, and even lasting anger and hurt feelings.  It  may be best if you can agree on a single percentage, and have everyone pay the same percent of their bills.

 Because, with some groups, splitting the bill can cause so much stress, you might want to try to find ways to bypass the problem altogether.  Perhaps you can go to a restaurant that serves prix fixe meals, where everybody is charged the same thing.  Or you could try a buffet, where each person pays individually at a cash register.  Otherwise, the best you yourself can do, if conflict breaks out in your group, is to be as flexible as possible.  Someone has to try to keep the peace, and it might as well be you.

My Favorite Energy Drink

Before a water polo game, Brett Johnson and his teammates like to prepare themselves mentally and physically with a jolt from their favorite drug in liquid form.
“It’s like crack; it’s addicting,” he says of his favorite energy drink, Monster.
Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world and it is infamous for its energy boost and mild addictive properties. Energy drinks that contain high doses of caffeine are quickly gaining popularity with the younger generation.
Last year alone, $2.3 billion was spent on energy drinks and one in five college students had consumed energy drinks in the past year.
Charleen Essling, a nutritionist, is very concerned with the possible lasting effects of consuming energy drinks.
“Kids have never had access to so much caffeine in soda form before, when it’s mixed with all that sugar and carbonation. It’s just not healthy,” Essling said. “This generation is going to be the guinea pigs.”
Conversely, Dr. Aurora Saulo of the University of Hawaii believes that there are no adverse effects to caffeine, as long as it is in moderation, about 300 milligrams per day, which is what the Food and Drug Administration says is safe.
“Even the World Health Organization says consumption of caffeine in moderation is okay,” Dr. Saulo said. “Common sense tells you that if you go over moderation, you are taking a risk.”
Dr. Saulo, who often advises food manufacturers, admits that there is some controversy over caffeine.
“Caffeine is a food safety issue. It is one of the hotter topics,” she says.
According to CNN, a Colorado high school banned the energy drink Spike Shooter after several students reported feeling sick after consuming it. One student drank four cans before beginning to feel sick, ultimately being sent to the hospital.
A store near the school had been promoting Spike Shooter, giving away free beverages. The cans warned “Begin use with one-half can to determine tolerance.”
Most of the time, the caffeine content of a beverage isn’t even labeled on the can so there is almost no way of knowing how much caffeine you are putting in your body.
An excess of caffeine in the system can cause heart palpitations, jitters, shortness of breath, and nausea.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends, but does not regulate, the maximum caffeine content in a beverage to be 65 milligrams for 12 ounces.
An 8.4-ounce can of Spike Shooter has 300 milligrams of caffeine. In comparison, a cup of coffee has around 100 milligrams of caffeine and a can of Coke has around 35 milligrams of caffeine.
The caffeine kick from energy drinks is “like soda, cubed!” Johnson says.
Another popular energy drink, Red Bull, contains a measly 67 milligrams for 8.3 ounces compared to SoBe NoFear, which contains 141 milligrams for 16 ounces.
Sometimes coffee in the morning just isn’t enough. Sleepy teens are very attracted to the promised jolt from energy drinks. More and more, teens are getting well below the recommended nine hours of sleep per night.
Audrey Knuth, an Iolani senior (a high school in Oahu, Hawaii), only drinks energy drinks after she has had a late night and needs the extra caffeine to stay awake throughout the day.
“After a late night, it’s a great boost that makes me concentrate more,” she says. “It is like liquid speed.”
Many people like to mix energy drinks with alcohol in order to amplify the experience. There is no proof that incorporating energy drinks will lessen or increase your alcohol tolerance.
Many energy drinks incorporate extra ingredients to make the beverages more exotic and appealing. Taurine, an amino acid naturally produced by the body, is often added; taurine helps regulate heartbeat, muscle contraction, and energy levels.
Guarana, a South American plant, is dense in caffeine and adds extra caffeine to the drink. Ginseng is an herb known to increase energy and L-Carnitine is an amino acid that increases your metabolism and energy levels.
Of course, most energy drinks contain a lot of sugar. Sugar, or glucose, is fuel for the body, as it is a carbohydrate but many people experience a sugar high and low. They will receive a rush of energy from the sugar and crash soon after.

Dining out Etiquette how to Behave Stylishly at Restaurants

Here are some tips for dining:

1. Dress sense : Dress appropriately for the dining event. This would be the first impression that you would give others at the restaurant, may it be your company or the waiters. Shirts and dark long pants or blouses and skirts of matching colours would most often do fine. You may like to have some fragrance for better impression.

2. Posture : Walk with confidence, sit with backs straightened and do not put elbows onto the table as it is often considered inappropriate in most places.

3. Ordering : To get the attention of waiters, it is always best to use eye contact. Give an affirmative nod or at most a slight raise of the finger (ie not frantic waving). When given the menu, thank the waiter. If you would take some time to decide (it depends on how large your company is and who you are dining with) tell the waiter politely that you will order later. Once ready, say the items clearly, pointing to them clearly in the menu if you wish so as to avoid confusion. You might want to ask for the dish of the day if you are undecided.

4. Table manners : Chew with your mouth closed and do not talk while chewing. Refrain from coughing or sneezing or ask to be excused if unavoidable. Do not play with food or the utensils. Fingers are usually not to be used unless given finger food.

5. Tips : Tip the waiters. It shows your generousity and appreciation of their service.

Additional tips:
Depending on where you are dining, there are some specific dining practices that apply at different places:

1. In Britain, upon finishing of the meal, utensils must be placed in the four o’clock position.

2. In America, do not leave the table without the permission of the host and do not start eating until food has been served to everyone.

3. In France, putting your utensils at the 6 o’clock position would imply that your plate can be taken away, while putting your utensils at the 4 and 8 o’clock position would imply that you have not finished the meal.

4. In Japan, wastage of food is undesirable and all food should be finished.

Following the above tips would ensure that you dine with proper etiquette. Stylishness comes from the gentlemanly and gracious presentation of the above dining guidelines.

Energy Drinks Negative Health Effects

The New Energy – Liquid Crack In A Can

So you’re low on energy and coffee doesn’t cut it anymore? A popular alternative in liquid energy comes in small, bright cans, packing a big punch. Walk into any convenience or grocery store, and you’ll see various brands of Red Bull, Adrenaline Rush, Full Throttle, and Monster Energy. They’re a new breed of energy drinks, with stiff doses of caffeine, sugar, and a mixed bag of vitamins, amino acids and herbs.
Millions around the world consume them to receive that extra energy needed to survive the day. Bar hoppers mix them with vodka to party longer and students use them to pull all-night study sessions. Even athletes are hopping on the wagon as a boost to their performance.

But now they’re being flagged by some health experts as a potential health danger. According to a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, these and other drinks can contain ingredients which stress the immune system if consumed excessively or over the long haul.

Unfounded Claims?

Red Bull, arguably the most popular energy drink worldwide, states that their formula is scientifically formulated to “provide energy, vitalize the mind, improve concentration and reaction time.”

But many nutrition professionals remain unconvinced, noting that caffeine is the primary working ingredient. In a report last month, Consumer Reports on Health criticized energy drinks for having ” ‘extras’ you don’t need.” The publication said these beverages “contain mostly sugar and caffeine, with other ingredients having little benefit or being untested.”

Red Bull contains about 80 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce can. While this is more than double that of a Coca-Cola Classic, it’s no more than your average cup of coffee. But now there’s a new breed of these super charged liquid stallions, led by a drink called “Cocaine.” Also available in an 8.4 ounce can, it contains a whopping 280 milligrams of caffeine. According to the company’s Web site, the only way to get more caffeine per ounce is with an espresso.

A September 28, 2006 CBC article quoted Jamey Kirby, the drink’s inventor, as saying “the beverage is 350 percent stronger than Red Bull. The “high” hits within five minutes, followed by an energetic, buzzed out ride fifteen minutes later, which lasts five to six hours.”

With such an extreme high, this huge wallop of legal stimulants can be intense for anyone, especially kids. Of course energy drink manufacturers deny marketing to children, but the debate remains hot. The drinks are sold legally over the counter to anyone, and critics believe they may be fostering caffeine addiction, cause hyperactivity, restlessness, and increase excretion of calcium, a valuable mineral while bones are still growing. Health experts say young people already consume unhealthy amounts of caffeine and sugar, and don’t need a product which raises that intake.

The official imported Canadian Red Bull is a caffeinated version of Thai Krating Daeng. Until late 2004, it was prohibited for sale in Canada and now must carry a warning label that says: “Caution: Contains caffeine. Not recommended for children, pregnant or breast-feeding women, caffeine sensitive persons or to be mixed with alcohol. Do not consume more than 500 ml per day.”

The danger is obvious, says the National Institutes of Health. So much caffeine on a regular basis can raise blood pressure, (sometimes to the point of palpitations), dehydrate the body, as well as increase the risk of heart disease and premature death.

Do other ingredients contribute to the kick?

Arguably, the next ingredient is no healthier. Simple sugars are a “huge” part of these drinks and help elevate the buzz quickly. These cause the nervous system to become over stimulated, making people feel more energized. But clearly, a drink with a large amount of sugar is not a good high, because the energy produces can be ephemeral and short-lived, causing a crash once the sugar works its way out of the bloodstream.

Taurine also has been mentioned as a source of energy, especially when combined with caffeine. It is thought to be a “mild inhibitory neurotransmitter”, as some studies show it helps with excitable brain states. Though taurine is an amino acid found naturally in the human body, in energy drinks it is entirely synthetic and could also have potentially negative side effects when present in high concentrations in the body.

A 2005 CBC Marketplace report stated that one can of Red Bull contains about 1000 mg of taurine, or as much as 500 glasses of red wine. This amount is packed into a tiny 8.4 ounce can. But pick up a 16 ounce can of some other brands, and you can ingest up to 3000 mg Taurine and an insane 500 mg of caffeine.

In a nutshell, these drinks contain stimulant with unclear long-term consequences, in relation to amounts and interactions within in the human body. What is known, is that they can boost the heart rate and blood pressure (sometimes to the point of palpitations), dehydrate the body, and, like other stimulants, prevent sleep. In extreme cases, they have been linked to deaths, though reports are inconclusive as to exact cause.

Alcohol and energy drinks

A November 2001 Science Daily states that college students and teens are now mixing these drinks with alcohol, producing a potentially dangerous combination. David Pearson, a researcher in the Human Performance Laboratory is quoted as saying that “mixing the stimulants contained in some energy drinks with depressants in alcohol could cause cardiopulmonary or cardiovascular failure.”

Other adverse effects include dehydration, insomnia, headaches, nervousness, nosebleeds, and vomiting. Some countries like France and Denmark are so concerned about the possible side effects; they have banned the sale of Red Bull. This wasn’t a mere knee-jerk reaction, as the action followed several reported deaths of people who mixed the drink with alcohol.

The BBC News in 2001 reported that the three healthy young people who died are thought to have drunk Red Bull shortly before their demise. Two deaths came after mixing the product with alcohol, with one collapsing of the floor of a nightclub. A third person died after drinking several cans of the energy drink following a heavy workout at the gym. But the energy drink’s manufacturers said there was no proof the deaths were linked to its product, citing regulation of its product by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In 2003, Ross Cooney, an 18-year-old college basketball player from Ireland, downed three cans of Red Bull and then played in a tournament a few hours later. He died partway through the game from what doctors called “sudden adult death syndrome.”
Red Bull denies actively marketing their product for mixture with alcohol, but on the question-and-answer page on its Web site, the company gives that practice a whole-hearted endorsement: “Can you mix Red Bull with alcohol? Yes!”

None of this takes responsibility away from the consumer, but it does show that such products have the potential to be lethal. Now, with even more powerful versions appearing on the market, these dangers will only increase.

And since energy drinks are stimulants, they can also mask alcoholic intoxication, say experts. Consumers may drink more than they would have without the caffeine, because of the alert feeling. As a result, people may be more inclined to drive while impaired. Of course much of this will be hard to prove after an accident, which is why some foresight on the part of regulators would be prudent.

To drink or not to drink?

Most of the time, the immediate dangers of energy drinks are only a concern when consumed too frequently or used at the wrong time. In today’s culture, that’s easy to achieve, since few people act in moderation. So the thought of consuming one energy drink for a quick boost, quickly translates into three or four drinks for sustained energy throughout the day.

Another thought to muse: While regulators allowing companies to sell these products, there is still little research done on long term dangers. Current regulation merely means the products do not pose any “immediate” harm.

Labels also can carry misleading or ambiguous claims, leading the consumer to believe almost anything. It also remains unknown as to how medical conditions or prescription medication will interact with energy drinks. Everyone’s body chemistry reacts differently to various products. Alcohol is a prime example of this. Some people get drunk faster or have allergic reactions, so a universal reaction to energy drinks also seems unlikely.

In the end, most nutritionists agree that there’s little health benefit to be derived from these products. Claiming that a few herbs and vitamins counter the adverse effects of high caffeine and sugar levels is either a brilliant marketing campaign, or an outright lie. Either choice is unpleasant.

Tips for going out to Eat alone

Many of us equate dining out with sharing time with friends and family over a good meal.  While the idea of going out to eat alone may sound solitary, depressing and more than a little lonely, it doesn’t have to be that way.  Eating out is often viewed as a social activity and a way to reunite and rekindle our relationships with friends and family but, let’s not forget, taking nourishment is also a basic function of survival.  We all do it, usually two or three times a day, and we can’t always make it into a special event.

If you find, either by circumstance, necessity or choice, that you are dining out alone, there are several ways to make the experience acceptable, enjoyable or even desirable.

Plan to arrive at the restaurant early.  If you arrive during the peak of the dinner rush, you may feel the wait staff resents having to seat a single person at a table, thereby minimizing their tip potential during prime time.  If you arrive when the restaurant is half empty, you are likely to find the wait staff more receptive to anyone who might fill their table.

Bring a magazine, book or your e-reader along to entertain yourself.  If you’re eating alone because you’re on a business trip and you have been traveling alone, use this time to review pertinent paperwork for your business meeting.  Many business travellers use this time alone at the restaurant table to check messages on their Blackberry.  The activity of message checking may be unobtrusive, but you should really leave the voice mail and call backs for another time after you leave the restaurant and are not likely to intrude on the dining pleasure of others in the restaurant.

Make it a habit to be a generous tipper when you dine out alone.  Your wait staff will have to make nearly as many trips back and forth to your table for just you as they do for a party of two or more.  Be a part of the population that makes a good name for solo diners by making servicing you worthwhile for the servers.

Dining out alone does not have to be a commentary on your sad and lonely existence.  Approach each experience as an opportunity to enjoy good food and your own good company without regret.  Walk into the restaurant with your head held high and politely request a table, preferably in the corner, for one.  You will almost certainly find that the restaurant staff will treat you will courtesy and maybe even a little extra attention while you enjoy your meal.