Eat Well. Live Well. Friday, May 29 2015 

Food is nature’s medicine. Well, at least before we add all the butter and sugar. A recent study published in the journal, Alzheimer’s & Dementia: the Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, showed a particular diet, known as the MIND diet, lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53% in participants who faithfully adhered to it.

MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. The acronym comes from the fact that the MIND diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. This diet is predominately based on whole, natural foods but one that is easier to follow than the other two.

The MIND diet consists of vegetables—especially a generous amount of green leafy ones, nuts, berries—especially blueberries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil, and wine.

Foods to avoid include red meat, butter and margarine, cheese, pastries and sweets, and all fried and fast food.

The study also showed that the longer we’re on the diet, the better. But even those who only adhered to it moderately saw a 35% lower risk.

The study, which began in 1997, was funded by the National Institute on Aging. One researcher was from Harvard School of Public Health. The others were all from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Participants consisted of more than 900 people between the ages of 58 and 98.

Click on the link below for a chart to hang on your refrigerator:

MIND Diet Chart

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

BC—Before Credit Cards Saturday, May 23 2015 

Once upon a time, there was a busy mom who needed groceries but she couldn’t shop that day. She had no money left in her bank account.

Why didn’t she use her credit card, you ask? There was no such thing at that time.


Believe it or not, there was a time not that long ago when people couldn’t buy anything if they didn’t have the money to pay for it—unless the store owner kindly allowed them to pay later. They’d count out pennies and refigure numbers over and over in the checkbook to decide if they could afford an item before purchasing.

Today, if we need automotive repairs, new shoes for our son, or dental work—we charge it. In fact, a good many of us charge everything we purchase. And few pay that debt off each month when the bill arrives.

Throughout history, there was some sort of credit extended where a creditor allowed buyers to take home a product and pay them back later, typically with an additional charge. Sometimes, however, it was just considered good business. When I was in high school I worked at a neighborhood grocery store. The owner’s office was covered in notes taped to the wall above his desk with IOUs from customers who owed him for groceries. Often, a child was sent for a few items and the mom would just pay the next time she went in.

From the 1800s to 1930s consumers had small coins or charge plates marked with their identification. They’d show their coin or plate to the cashier when they checked out and that information was marked on their receipt.

The coins and charge plates were replaced in the 1930s with the Charga-Plate, a small rectangular sheet of metal embossed with the customer name, city, and state. It was similar to a dog tag. A paper card was on the back with the customer’s signature. Oil companies issued their own cards beginning in the 1940s as did major domestic airlines in the United States. Use of these cards, as well as ones issued later by department stores, were limited to that specific company.

In 1946 John Biggins, a Brooklyn banker, offered his customers a card to use for credit. A similar card was later offered in 1951 for New York’s Franklin National Bank customers.

Frank McNamara is credited with the development of the Diners Club Card when he could not pay his dinner bill at a restaurant because he had forgotten to bring his wallet. He offered the restaurateur an IOU on a small cardboard card. The Diners Club Card was soon used for travel and entertainment at numerous locations. Carte Blanche and American Express cards followed. The first cards made from plastic came out in 1959.

Bank of America, later known as VISA, offered the first general purpose card in 1966. Banks joined together and created InterBank Card Association, now known as MasterCard.

These early charge cards only allowed credit for a month. Consumers were required to pay in full when they received their bill. It wasn’t until 1987 when American Express issued a credit card allowing customers to make monthly payments. Around this time the general public commonly began carrying cards in their wallets.

As with every new innovation, there are pros and cons. Credit’s allowed the public to get our medical care, automotive repairs, and college education in addition to the zillions of things we think we need from ice cream to manicures. On the other hand, our lives now include credit card fraud and debts that become impossible to pay off.

According to an online calculator, if we only made the minimum payments on a $5,000 charge, it would take 12.5 years to pay it off. The total interest paid would total $2,916. If the charge was $10,000, it would take 14.8 years to pay the debt with an interest payment of nearly $6,000.

Like calories in our bodies, it’s so much easier to put the dollars on the card then it is to take them off.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

Breakfast or an All-Day Snack Sunday, May 17 2015 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I have a recipe for you that you’ll want to munch on all day long. I’ve been perfecting my granola recipe for more than six months and have it right where I want it. I think you’ll like it too.

Oatmeal is a super food that should be in all of our diets. I don’t mind cooked oatmeal, but can only eat it a couple of times a month at best. Toasted oatmeal is another matter. A sweet, salty, crunchy granola has definitely turned this non-cereal lover into one. The coconut oil and pecans in this recipe makes it healthier yet!

Oatmeal contains two types of fiber: soluble which absorbs water and is fermented by bacteria and insoluble which does not absorb water or ferment. Both have health benefits.

The fiber in oatmeal helps to decrease LDL cholesterol, (the bad cholesterol), as well as high blood pressure and the risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases. It helps control blood sugar by slowing down digestion time. Fiber also makes us feel fuller longer, reducing overeating and the bulk cleans us out reducing the risk of colon cancer.

Why don’t you give this very quick and easy recipe a try and let me know what you think.


Mary Doyle’s Granola

2 cups regular oatmeal – rolled outs*

¼ cup chopped pecans

¼ cup coconut oil, softened

¼ cup butter, softened

½ cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla

¾ teaspoon salt

Mix the oatmeal, brown sugar, pecans and salt in a bowl. Blend coconut oil, butter, and vanilla. Combine the dry and soft mixtures together. You may want to toss with your hands.

Spread the mixture across a cookie sheet. Bake 350 for about 15 minutes. Turn once or twice during baking. Watch carefully. The granola quickly goes from brown to burnt.

*Do not use instant oats—which is too soft—or steel cut—which is too gritty.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle


Real Colors Wednesday, May 6 2015 


It started innocently with a box of crayons. My two-year old grandsons proudly announced the colors of each one to their Uncle Joey. “Wed. Yeddow. Gween. Boo.” But then they said the word that triggered a lengthy explanation from their artist uncle—“popo.” “Purple is not a color,” he declared.

According to Wikipedia, purple is closer to red, and violet is closer to blue on the traditional color wheel. Although both appear similar, violet is a spectral color. It occupies a place at the end of the spectrum of light (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) and also has its own wavelength.

On the other hand, purple is a perception. It is a combination of the two spectral colors of red and blue and does not have its own wavelength. There is no pure purple light as there is for orange, also a combination of colors. This is similar to the color white, which also is a blended mixture of many colors.

I know little of color or photography, but perhaps this is why purple does not photograph well. All of the fabrics in the photo here are what I consider to be shades of purple, yet all look different to me in the photo than they do in reality.

Even if artists don’t recognize colors not on the spectrum, the Merriam-Webster dictionary does define purple as a color.  The best part of this acknowledgement for me is that we can continue to hear our little ones say “popo.”

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

When the Earth Moves Beneath Us Tuesday, Apr 28 2015 

The people of Nepal are in need of our love and support as reports now state that more than 4,600 are dead and 9,000 injured after the recent series of earthquakes. Nepal is located in the Himalayas surrounded by China and India in South Asia. It ranks among the world’s lowest economically.

Thousands of earthquakes occur every day around the world resulting in 500,000 each year. They can occur anywhere but the majority happens along the rim of the Pacific Ocean called the Ring of Fire because of volcanic activity there as well. Minor earthquakes constantly occur in locations including California, Alaska, El Salvador, Mexico, Guatemala, Chile, Peru, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Azores in Portugal, Turkey, New Zealand, Greece, Italy, India, and Japan. More than 100,000 people die in earthquakes annually.

Earthquakes, also called quakes, temblors, and tremors, are the result of a release of energy in the Earth’s crust that creates seismic waves. Giant rock slabs that make up the Earth’s upper layer collide or slide against each other. When stress is released quickly, it sends massive vibrations called seismic waves hundreds of miles through the rock and up to the surface. Other quakes occur far from fault zones when plates stretch or squeeze. Further destruction results from subsequent smaller temblors, mud slides, fires, floods, and tsunamis.

Magnitude rating is based on the strength and duration of their seismic waves. A rating of 3-5 is considered minor, 5-7 is moderate to strong, 7-8 is major, and 8 or more is great. The April 25 quake in Nepal was rated 7.8.

Construction built to sway rather than break under stress is vital as much of the loss of life during earthquakes is due to collapsing buildings. Emergency planning and education is also important, particularly in areas of frequent occurrences.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

Radio Interview on Caregiving and Alzheimer’s Monday, Apr 13 2015 

Are you a family caregiver, especially for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, or know a friend who is? If so, you may want to check out my latest interview. The interview also features my newest book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. To do so, click Meet the Author on RadioMaria. There are two book interviews here. Mine begins at about 28.20 minutes.

Don’t Feel Bad (Badly) Wednesday, Apr 8 2015 

How often has someone told you, or have you told someone, not to be angry or sad? It’s a typical response when we know a loved one is in distress to jump in and try to make it better. But whatever we say seems to make things worse. The truth is that we just don’t want them to hurt. We’re not telling them they can’t feel their emotions. Rather, we are sad that they are sad.

So what might we say? Most often, it may be best to say—nothing. If we haven’t experienced what they have, we really can’t tell them we understand. We might not even agree with their reaction to a situation and do indeed feel they have no reason to be upset. Or maybe what happened was so horrific it makes us uncomfortable.

We live in a time when we want to fix everything. We think we are expected to solve all problems and help others receive “closure.” We rarely just listen and let them vent. Allowing our friend the opportunity to express their pain can be healing. What’s needed most of all is to be present, listen quietly, and acknowledge their feelings.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

Hard Baked Sunday, Mar 29 2015 


One of the pressing questions of the week is how to make a perfect hard-boiled egg for the family Easter egg coloring marathon. A sure-proof option is not to boil at all. I recently was reminded that eggs can also be baked, as I used to do in the center of my braided Easter breads.

The traditional method of preparing eggs for coloring, or simply eating, is to either boil them until cooked or boil them for a few minutes and then allow cooking to continue in the water after removing the pot from the stove top. You can see the recipes in a previous post, (Hard Boiled, March 30, 2012).Unfortunately, we never know if the egg is under or over cooked until we break it open. Most often the yolk is too soft or dry and edged in green.


Another option is to place the eggs in a muffin tin and bake at 325 for 30 minutes. I usually buy brown eggs, but you will want white ones if you plan on coloring them. Remove and immediately submerge the eggs in ice water.


If your oven is calibrated correctly, the eggs will be perfectly baked. The only draw back is that the egg whites get brown spots on them.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle


Friendship, Love, and Loyalty Saturday, Mar 14 2015 



Shamrocks are perhaps the most common symbol of the Irish, but Claddaghs can’t be far behind. Americans from all nationalities are familiar with the intricate design, most often seen on rings, but it’s doubtful many know what it represents, much less how to say it.

The word Claddagh, pronounced klah-duh, is rich in meaning and tradition. The full Gaelic name actually is fainne Claddagh and symbolizes elements of a long-lasting relationship, specifically friendship, love, and loyalty. With these three qualities, all else, such as respect, compassion, patience, and understanding, are sure to follow. Since Roman times Irish mothers have handed down their Claddagh to their daughters in hopes that they find true love.

The Claddagh is comprised of three elements: hands which represent friendship; a heart for love; and a crown for loyalty. How the ring is worn also is symbolic:

  • Wear the ring on your right hand with the crown turned away from you to show you are single.
  • Worn on the right hand with the crown towards you says you are in a relationship.
  • If the ring is on the left hand with the crown turned away from you, it means you are engaged.
  • And when the Claddagh is on the left hand with the crown turned inward, you are married.

The story is that the first Claddagh ring was designed by a young man in ancient times from the village of Claddagh, Ireland who was separated from his beloved when he was captured and sold into slavery. While in captivity, he stole small amounts of gold from his master until he had enough to fashion the special ring. When the two were finally reunited, the young man was delighted to find his lady had waited for him. He gave her the ring as a sign of their enduring love.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

The Caregiver’s Disease Wednesday, Mar 4 2015 

Cover Image Nav Alz

The journey we take when we partner with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is turbulent to say the least. Our husband, sister, or mother needs everything we can possibly give them. They don’t realize it, and may resent or shun our help, but they can do little without assistance.

The statistics aren’t pretty. More than 30% of the primary family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s die before the loved one they care for. In this position we are taxed at an extraordinary level. The disease zaps us emotionally, physically, and financially because of the 24/7, day-after-day, often for decades, all-consuming demands and the sheer agony of watching our relationship fade away.

I know this path well. My husband Marshall has had Alzheimer’s disease at least eleven years. He now resides in an assisted living home specializing in memory care, and although I no longer have the full-time responsibility of his every need, there continues to be much I must do for him. At this point, I feel blessed that our love for each other remains strong, but I know full-well that soon can be taken away from me too.

My latest book, Navigating Alzheimer’s. 12 Truths about Caring for Your Loved One, is jam-packed with solid information and observations I learned along the way. It covers issues raised by many people who have approached me seeking answers for their own caregiving needs. Topics include the early signs of Alzheimer’s; important behavior for caregivers; the perpetual mourning we experience;  expected costs of caregiving; dealing with insensitive remarks from outsiders; guidelines for selecting appropriate caregivers and assisted living homes; and the importance of appreciating the gifts we do have.

The book is available at ACTA Publications, 800-397-2282 and Amazon.

Navigating Alzheimer’s certainly isn’t a fun read but offers an important resource and compassionate camaraderie for families dealing with loved ones with Alzheimer’s.

Click here to listen to an interview about this book with Dean Richards on WGN Radio.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

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