Health Report

By Hannah Wallace February 1, 2012

Asparagus supplies more folic acid than any other vegetable. Five ounces = 60 percent RDA for folic acidDinner for two: Chef Mattison’s Tagliatelle with Green and White Asparagus and Watercress.

A romantic meal doesn’t have to mean extra calories. This recipe from chef Paul Mattison is not just beautiful, but centers on vitamin-rich asparagus, watercress and sun-dried tomatoes, as well as heart-healthy olive oil. And the fresh pasta, which cooks in a minute, will absorb and maximize the flavors of the veggies—so you won’t feel the urge to add extra butter and cheese.



1 cup white asparagus, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces

2 cups green asparagus, cut into ¼-inch pieces

2 cups watercress, roughly chopped

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned into ½-inch pieces 

2 cloves garlic, chopped

½ cup white wine

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

4-6 ounces fresh tagliatelle pasta (se ree recipe below)



Sauté the olive oil and the asparagus on medium heat for one minute. Add the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes, cook for a few seconds, then add the wine; let reduce to about half. Add the watercress and butter and sauté for another minute. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta to the water; cook for about a minute. Remove the pasta from the water, keeping some of the liquid with it, and toss into the pan with the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve immediately with fresh Parmesan cheese if you like. Serves two people.  


Web Exclusive! Fresh pasta recipe:

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 

2 large eggs 

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoon sun dried tomato puree in oil or (1 tablespoon tomato paste)

Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden cutting board, and make a well in the middle. In a small bowl mix the eggs, tomato paste and oil. Pour this mixture into the well; using a fork, beat the egg mixture and begin to incorporate the flour starting with the inner rim of the well. As you incorporate the eggs, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape (do not worry if it looks messy). The dough will come together in a shaggy mass when about half of the flour is incorporated. 

Knead the dough with both hands, primarily using the palms of your hands. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour, in 1/2-cup increments. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape any leftover dry bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for three more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Continue to knead for another three minutes, remembering to dust your board with flour when necessary. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes at room temperature. Roll and cut with the knife or pasta cutter about ½ inch wide. 

Note: Do not skip the kneading or resting portion of this recipe, they are essential for a light pasta.


Miracle GlassesMiracle Glasses

The new emPower! electronically focusing prescription glasses

What they do: A step beyond no-line bifocals, emPower! lenses change focus level with a touch of the finger or the tilt of the head, allowing wearers to change to “near-focus mode” as needed.

How they work: An electronically activated layer of liquid crystals changes the lenses to near focus. In manual mode, the change is triggered by a button on the glasses’ arm; in automatic mode, near focus engages when your head tilts downward.

Why they’re awesome: Imagine you’re cooking cacciatore, and you need to double-check the tomato-to-mushroom ratio. With the emPower! glasses in automatic mode, you can look down at the recipe and instantly have near-focus vision, then look back up at your sauté pan with your standard focal prescription. Available at the Eye Associates; (941) 792-2020.


Pedaling for Parkinson’sPedaling for Parkinson’s

“What is the best treatment for Parkinson’s disease?” In the last three years, studies have shown that exercise activates parts of the brain affected by Parkinson’s in similar ways to Parkinson’s medications. But exercise also has other less expected benefits. For instance, high-speed cycling results in improved handwriting and sense of smell, two things that can be hindered in Parkinson’s patients. Scientists have even begun preaching “exercise is medicine”—not as a replacement for medications, but as a necessary supplement. For more information, call the Neuro Challenge Foundation, (941) 926-6413.


Skin Cancer

The SHADE Foundation aims to prevent skin cancer through sun safety education.

Cancer prevention advocate Shonda Schilling. (Kerry Brett)In 2001, 33-year-old Shonda Schilling, wife of Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling and mother of three (she has since had a fourth child), was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Her public struggle with the disease—five surgeries and a melanoma-specific chemotherapy that causes extreme sickness—led her to form the Shade Foundation, which promotes sun safety through community education, focusing especially on children. Schilling was a featured speaker at a recent Sarasota Shade Foundation luncheon. We asked her a few questions after the event.

What was it like to battle cancer in the public eye? It was overwhelming at first. I was like, “No one’s treating this like it’s a real cancer, but I’m going to bed tonight scared of what could happen.” The public battle made me heal. It seemed to give me a purpose.

What was the most surprising revelation during your ordeal? Skin cancer is the leading cancer killer of women between 20 and 30.

How important is it to go to the dermatologist? I would feel horrible for someone who lost their life because of something they were looking at [on their body] and didn’t ask about. Probably the coolest thing that has happened is people say, “I saw your story, I decided to go in, and you saved my life.”

You talk about your love of tanning as a teenager in Maryland. What do you think about tanning now? I believe that you can have an addiction to tanning. If they told me it was healthy tomorrow, I’d be right back at it. I talk to girls about tanning beds. They sign a waiver in the beginning; it says “may cause skin cancer.” They just don’t understand what skin cancer is. They think, “Do your lecture; [you can] just take that little mole off.”

Can parents help? There are parents who say, “I can’t do anything [about kids tanning].” My daughter plays tournament softball. She’s 14. Once I said, “Put your sunblock on,” and she said no. I wrestled her—literally. She’s bigger than I am, but eventually she put her sunblock on. And that’s the image that the girls on her team and the parents say, “We never forget.” It was very playful, but it is very serious.

Do you believe that our society is getting better about sun safety? Five years ago, you go to your local drugstore and it’s lined with oils. Now you barely find those oils. The industries know it’s not healthy. The Coppertone baby—we used to see the dog pulling down her pants, and we saw the burn line. There’s no burn line anymore.



One in five children will grow up to develop skin cancer.

More than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year.

One person dies every hour from melanoma.



Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds. Tanning is the skin’s response to being damaged by UV rays.

Seek shade, wear protective clothing and generously apply sunscreen. Look for a product of at least SPF 30 that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

Use extra caution near water, snow and sand, which reflect and intensify UV rays.

Check the UV index. The closer you are to the equator, the more UV radiation exposure you receive.

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