The 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics Annual Conference

Last month, from October 15th through the 18th, the American Academy of Pediatrics held its annual meeting. Drawing over 8000 physicians, health care professionals and others, it included health professionals who are all dedicated to the well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

Held this year at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the conference served to inform attendees about products and services that pertain to pediatrics and to medicine in general. The Exhibitors list included everyone from those in the pharmaceutical and health care fields to those focused on infant feeding, nutrition, computer technology and beyond.

Leslie McGuire, the Deputy Director at the Teen Screen National Center, explained that “What surprised me was how much these physicians like our kids and care deeply about their futures. In the midst of a busy professional meeting, they embraced the exuberance and energy of youth and had fun with the young patients they serve.”

She described that, as part of the conference, there was a flash mob of pediatricians and a tear-jerking rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner sung by a 10 year old blind and autistic boy.

This year’s conference theme, in staying with First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative, was focused on childhood obesity. One highlight at the conference, according to Christina Harsanyi from SBR Health, was the new Pediatric Office of the Future that showed technology designs that help physicians to create higher quality medical care.

Coke Is It

Pretty much everyone loves a can of ice-cool coke. The carbonated beverage has been popular for years and no doubt will continue to be for years’ to come.  But what are the origins of this dark brown heavily-sweetened drink?  It was John Pemberton who created the drink, but unfortunately the man never got to drink to his success since he died in 1888.  When the beverage was first sold two years earlier, it was for a price of 5 cents a glass at Atlanta’s Jacobs’ Pharmacy soda fountain.

From Nine to Over a Billion

Amazingly Pemberton was only selling around nine glasses of his tasty beverage a day when he first started out.  Today Coca-Cola sells around 1.4 billion servings!  Asa Griggs Candler (from Atlanta) bought the rights to the business from 1888 to 1891 for a mere $2,300.  Clever Candler certainly made the right decision as the business boomed with his development of plants in Chicago, Dallas and LA.  The Coca-Cola servers were nicknamed Soda Jerks because they made a jerking motion when preparing a drink for a customer.
In 1923 the six-pack Coca-Cola was launched and the beverage remained loyal to its original flavor for 70 years. But then in the 1950s and onwards, the following drinks came on to the market:  Fanta, Sprite, TAB and Fresca.  Today the drink is still enjoyed in its original form and the owners continue to reap significant financial benefit from John Pemberton’s unique recipe.

Gobbling Good Ideas for a Thanksgiving Kids Party

So here I am at my parents’ house, enjoying Thanksgiving weekend with my family. My older sister is also here with her two kids. My niece and nephew are of course the cutest children out there – but they are definitely getting a bit antsy here away from their usual schedule. So I decided to be a good aunt and put together a fun kids party for them, where they could invite the friends they have made over the years of visiting their grandparents.

First, I asked them to sit down with me and help me write a menu of foods they’d like to serve. They weren’t interested in traditional Thanksgiving favorites – they wanted hot dogs and marshmallows! So we are going to have an indoor barbecue. Then we worked on the decorations. We chose an autumn theme and had a great time collecting leaves outside to use for giant leaf collages to hang up in the family room.

Finally, we put together some entertaining but educational activities to try and express some of the important themes of the holiday, like gratitude and American history, in a fun way.

The party is tonight – and I’m confident that all the children are going to enjoy it!

A Brief History of Thanksgiving

Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving

I’m writing now from my parent’s home as we prepare for our annual Thanksgiving dinner. I’m happy to be home, and even happier that the big meal is just a few hours away. Meanwhile, as I smell that sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie baking in the oven, I wanted to share, as a reminder, a brief history of the first Thanksgiving.

A group of “Pilgrims” (as we call them now) left Plymouth, England in September of 1620 in search of a new life and religious freedom. These 102 religious separatists set sale on the Mayflower for the New World. Sixty-six days later they had crossed the Atlantic and docked at Cape Cod, a place far to the north of their intended destination. They set sail for another month and finally docked at the new Plymouth, in Massachusetts.

Their first winter in the new land was a devastating one, as most of the colonists chose to remain aboard the ship while the settlement was being built, and over half of those who had arrived died of exposure, scurvy, and disease. The survivors moved ashore when warm weather arrived in March.

To their surprise, they were greeted by two English-speaking Native Americans. One of them, Squanto, taught them survival skills, including how to cultivate corn, extract maple syrup, fish from the rivers, and avoid poisonous plants. He also helped the Pilgrims forge an alliance with the local Indian tribe, an alliance that lasted more than 50 years.

After the first successful harvest in November 1621, Governor William Bradford organized a three-day festival – what we call today, the first “Thanksgiving.” The colonists and their Native American allies gathered to celebrate, eating traditional Native American fare such as deer, lobster, seal and swan, as well as local fruits and vegetables.

From then until the Civil War, Americans celebrated their thanks one or more days a year, until in 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed November 26th as the nation’s official Thanksgiving Day, to be observed on the final Thursday of November each year.

So enjoy your meal, and remember to be thankful for all the good in your life.

Turkey Time!

The countdown to Thanksgiving continues. And that means it’s almost Turkey Time! Turkey is one of my favorite foods and I’m always “game” for a reason to eat it. But I have learned that are some good rules of thumb for how to buy and prepare the best turkey. So in honor of our upcoming turkey dinner, here are some tips:

How Big Should Your Turkey Be?

Figure about one pound of uncooked turkey per person – or one-and-a-half pounds per person if you want leftovers.

Round upwards if your turkey is under 12 pounds; round down for turkeys over 12 pounds since they have more meat on the bones.

How Long Should You Store Your Turkey?

You can keep a fresh turkey for 2 to 4 days in the fridge.

You can store a frozen turkey for up to a whole year in the freezer. (So perhaps you should buy a turkey on sale this Friday and save it for next year’s Thanksgiving dinner!)

How Do You Defrost Your Turkey?
In the fridge: Don’t take it out of its wrapper; allow one day for every four pounds of turkey; put a platter underneath to catch any drips

In the fridge: Don’t take off the wrapper; place the turkey breast-side down in a large bowl of cold water; change the water every 30 minutes; allow 30 minutes per pound of defrost time

How Do You Stuff Your Turkey?
The USDA suggests cooking your stuffing outside the turkey. While it may be less moist, it will likely have fewer calories.

If you do choose to stuff the turkey, use about ¾ cup of stuffing for each pound of turkey.

Stuff the bird loosely to ensure proper cooking.

Stuff your turkey right before roasting.

All this talk of turkey has made me really hungry – good thing Thanksgiving is almost here!

Traveling Home with Pumpkin Cookies

Thanksgiving has finally come. I’ve been looking forward to having a bit of a break from college life and returning homeward to enjoy the familiar atmosphere of my childhood – especially my mother’s Thanksgiving dinner. But this year I decided that I want to contribute to the dinner as well. Since I obviously can’t carry home a 14-pound turkey, I looked around for a holiday themed recipe that would be easy to make in advance, freeze, and transport home in an ordinary container. So if you’re going to be a guest somewhere, here is a great idea for an edible contribution to your host’s Thanksgiving table:

Low-fat Pumpkin Cookies


2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ tsp allspice

¼ c. softened butter

½ c. canola oil

½ c. sugar or sugar substitute

1 c. canned pumpkin

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 c. chopped pecans

1 c. dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in medium bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together butter, oil, brown sugar and sugar (substitute).

Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla.

Gradually add in flour mixture.

Beat at low speed until well blended

Add in chopped pecans and cranberries.

Drop cookie dough onto ungreased cookie sheets in heaping spoonfuls.

Flatten slightly with back of spoon.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Cookies can be stored tightly at room temperature for about a week, or can be frozen for up to 3 months.