Post Card: Farmer Craig Black at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens

Post Card: Farmer Craig Black at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens-photo
by Rien Fertel
For thirty-five years Craig Black has tended the thirty-eight acres of gardens, greenhouses, ponds, and oaks of Houmas House, the crown jewel of Louisiana’s River Road plantation trail. Located on the Mississippi River’s eastbank, midway between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Houmas House and its restaurant Latil’s Landing have thrived under the direction of Chef Jeremy Langlois. The chef and the farmer work together to develop dishes through experimenting with heirloom fruits, vegetables, and herbs. When I asked Craig Black to describe his life with plants, he rhapsodized on asparagus-the shoots, leaves, and soil-in such a sensuous style that I know my own next spear will be my first all over again. -Rien Fertel

Latil’s Landing Restaurant at Houmas House Plantation and Gardens
40136 Highway 942
Darrow, LA 70725
tel: 225/473-9380


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November 2, 2012 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

Underwear blogger’s message to her bullies: It didn’t work, I love my body

She’s struggled with body issues for her entire life, and as a size 12 woman attending college in New York City, Stella Boonshoft is faced with images of skinny, half-naked women everywhere she goes.

To stand up to all of the people who have picked on her and to spread her message of body acceptance, the 18-year-old Boonshoft posted a photo of herself in her underwear, an image that has won her thousands of online supporters as it went viral in the last week.


When 18-year-old Stella Boonshoft posted this photo of herself on her body-acceptance blog, she had no idea it would cause such a stir… but says she’s glad she did it.

With the photo now having been viewed more than 4 million times, Boonshoft explained her decision to show her stomach and her stretch marks, telling Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Tuesday that she finally realized it was wrong for people to harass her because of her size.

“I found that after years of struggling with my body image that really there was no way to justify the bullying and the torment I endured as a child and as a teen,” Boonshoft said.

“We don’t have the authority to judge other people’s beauty,” Boonshoft said. “We don’t have the authority to make assumptions about other people’s health based on the way they look. And I finally came to a place where I was really happy with the way I looked.

“And I wanted to give a message to the bullies who had tormented me that it didn’t work,” she said.

Boonshoft posted the picture of herself in a bra and undies on her Tumblr site, The Body Love Blog, with a warning: “Picture might be considered obscene because subject is not thin. And we all know that only skinny people can show their stomachs and celebrate themselves. Well I’m not going to stand for that. This is my body. Not yours. MINE.”

It had already been shared some 80,000 times when Boonshoft met Brandon Stanton, who photographs people on the street for his blog, Humans of New York. He took her picture and she emailed him her underwear shot, which he shared on his site on Thursday.

“I said, ‘I think this is something that’s really going to resonate with my audience,’” Stanton said on TODAY alongside Boonshoft.

She was stunned to learn that he blogged that photo, rather than one he took of her clothed, even though, as she wrote on her blog, it was “getting thousands of likes every minute” on Stanton’s Facebook page.

“The reason I cried was because it was so amazing,” Boonshoft told Guthrie. “I got an outpouring of love pretty much instantly. It was extremely overwhelming because I made myself so vulnerable on the Internet.”

There were detractors as well, but she said she doesn’t let the cruelty get to her.

“I have to remind myself, I have a real life and I have real people who support me,” she told Guthrie. “I think people are cruel because they’re uncomfortable with seeing images of someone who is not thin, and they also don’t understand what the body acceptance movement is.

“It’s not to promote being unhealthy, it’s to take away the stigma of overweight people in America, because a lot of us are, and that’s all right. It doesn’t mean that you can look at someone and know what is wrong with their health.”

Boonshoft has written online that she was diagnosed as a young teenager with polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder in which weight gain and obesity are common.

In a blog post a week ago titled “I love my doctor,” she wrote that her cholesterol is normal and that doctor told her that her blood pressure was “beautiful.”

While Boonshoft said she never expected that so many people would see her photo, she said she wanted to the show the world something different.

“Every single day I’m bombarded, especially living in New York City, with images of naked women or half-naked women and they all look the same,” she said. “They all have the same kind of body type and somehow that’s OK, but God forbid we put someone like me, who’s a size 12, on the billboards.”

Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York.

Read more stories from TODAY Health:

Can you be healthy at any size?

Too fat for TV? Anchor fires back at critic

America’s hatred of fat hurts obesity fight

Fat? We’re fit. Get over it, female Olympians say


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November 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

‘I Lost 76 Pounds, But More Importantly, I Gained My Life Back’


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November 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

White Chocolate Peppermint Pringles: Like toothpaste on a chip

Brandon Goodwin /

White Chocolate Peppermint is the oddest flavor of the bunch, while Cinnamon and Sugar tastes a lot like cereal.

Pringles has carved out a comfortable niche in America’s snack food psyche with its salt-laced and impossibly thin potatocrisps. When the chips first became available in America in 1968, we popped — and we really couldn’t stop.

But there comes a time in every popular snack’s life when its makers decide that something new is in order. Remember Crystal Pepsi? New Coke? We know how successful those were. Now it’s Pringles’ turn. Come November, you’ll find three new holiday flavors — White Chocolate Peppermint, Cinnamon and Sugar and Pumpkin Pie Spice — next to the standard flavors of our favorite curvaceous crisps. And like many holiday-themed treats, they’re sweet. Well, sweeter.

They’re actually both sweet and savory, at the same time. The classic Pringles chip flavor you know and love is still packed in there somewhere; it’s just gussied up with sugar and seasonal ingredients.

So why didn’t the people behind Pringles just spring for a fully sweet chip? Well, they don’t seem to think we’re ready for a potato crisp revolution.

“We wanted to explore unique flavor offerings, while remaining loyal to the savory flavor varieties our fans know and love,” Pringles’ associate marketing director Angela Gusse told

As anyone who enjoys a bag of kettle corn or cinnamon sugar pita chips will insist, salty-sweet flavor combinations can actually be quite good. So how do these Pringles flavors fare?

The cinnamon sugar variety rated best in our office taste test, probably because its flavor is reminiscent of two nostalgic foods: Classic Pringles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal. Unfortunately, the cinnamon is a little too subtle — not that that stopped any of our staffers from going back for more.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Pringles pack a more distinctive punch, actually tasting something like their name suggests — at least at first. The pumpkin pie spice quickly faded, leaving a soapy taste lingering on the tongue. But some stood by the crisps, deeming them their favorite of the bunch.

Last and decidedly least came the real black sheep of the holiday pack: White Chocolate Peppermint. The Huffington Post referred to them as a “horrible abomination to humanity,” and we, unfortunately, have to agree. As one staffer described it, it tastes like a Pringle with “a thin layer of toothpaste on it.” We now know the result of knocking over a  bottle of mouthwash on an open container of Pringles. We’ve learned our lesson: No Pringles in the bathroom. No one went for seconds.

While this is the first time Pringles has ventured into sweet territory in the U.S. market, they’ve experimented more freely abroad with interesting flavors like Cinnamon Sweet Potato and Blueberry Hazelnut.

For now, this year’s limited edition holiday pack left us wanting. Pick up a tube for yourself when they debut nationwide in early November for $1.79. Note: Pumpkin Pie Spice is only available at Walmart. 

Danika Fears is a intern who prefers Lays to Pringles, but would consider a conversion if offered those Cinnamon Sweet Potato chips.

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November 2, 2012 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Chinese Food the Healthy Way (What The Heck Are You Eating WIth Joy Bauer)

In this week’s What The Heck Are You Eating, created and hosted by Joy Bauer, Joy explains how to order <a…


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November 2, 2012 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Some energy drinks have more caffeine than listed, Consumer Reports finds

In response to an FDA report investigating a link between a popular energy drink and five recent deaths, Consumer Reports launched its own investigation, and found that some of the drinks actually had 20 percent more caffeine than listed, and many of the products don’t list levels at all. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

By TODAY staff and Reuters

In the wake of reports this week that five may have died after consuming Monster Energy drinks, Consumer Reports released Thursday its own investigation into the real caffeine levels in energy drinks.

Consumer Reports tested 27 products and found that five of the cans that list caffeine actually have levels at least 20 percent higher than what the label reports. Eleven of the products tested, including Monster, don’t specify the caffeine levels. Since the beverages are considered a dietary supplement, it’s not required.

“It’s important for people to understand what they’re buying and drinking, and if that information is not even available on the product, that’s a problem,” Gayle Williams, Consumer Reports deputy health editor, told TODAY.

Anais Fournier, 14, died of cardiac arrest in December after consuming two Monster Energy drinks in less than 24 hours, roughly 480 milligrams of caffeine. Her cause of death was listed as “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.” The family of the teen, who had a heart defect, is suing Monster. 

While the Food and Drug Administration confirmed this week that Fournier’s death is one of the five that could be linked to drinking Monster Energy drinks, the beverage maker points out that its drink contains 240 milligrams of caffeine for a 24-ounce can, less than is in many popular coffee drinks. For example, a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks brewed coffee has 330 milligrams of caffeine.

Caffeine levels in the drinks tested ranged from about 6 milligrams per serving for 5-Hour Energy Decaf, made by Living Essentials, to 242 milligrams for 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength, the report found.

The drinks that Consumer Reports found that contained more caffeine than was listed on their labels included Arizona Energy, Clif Shot Turbo Energy Gel and Sambazon Organic Amazon Energy, as well as Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc’s Venom Energy and Nestle Jamba, sold by a partnership of Nestle and Jamba Inc.

One sample of its Archer Farms Energy Drink Juice Infused beverage had about 70 percent less caffeine than advertised, the report found. Archer Farms is the private label of retailer Target Corp.

Greg Fleishman, Sambazon’s chief marketing officer, disputes Consumer Report’s finding. “The Consumer Reports study stated that our product was found to have 81 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces, but the correct amount is 53 mg of organic caffeine per 8 ounces. This has been tested and verified by a third-party lab,” he wrote in a statement to Sambazon has reached out to Consumer Reports requesting a correction. 

The other companies did not immediately respond to Reuters with a comment.

Dr. Allen Taylor, the chief of cardiology at Georgetown University Hospital, says caffeine overdose is a real issue. 

“Between the caffeine, the sugar, its effects on blood pressure, potential adverse effects, I think it’s really difficult to justify a case for children, young adults to be using these substances right now,” he said.

Emergency rooms visited tied to energy drinks have risen in recent years, from 1,128 visits in 2005 to 16,053 in 2008 and 13,144 in 2009, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 

For more on the drinks Consumer Reports tested and which had higher levels of caffeine, go to Consumer

Reuters contributed to this report.

Related stories: 

When caffeine kills: Energy drinks under the spotlight

Monster Energy drink linked to five deaths


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November 2, 2012 at 4:00 am Leave a comment

What NOT to do to fight a cold

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Suffering? Vitamin D may not help you, but there are ways to boost your immunity this season.

By Elizabeth Narins
Women’s Health

There’s one vitamin that comes pretty close to perfect on paper–until now. Researchers have long sung their praises for D, the vitamin proven to fend off everything from bad moods, to belly fat – we’re talking bone-strengthening, cancer-fighting, life-lengthening power. Damn.

Not to rain on the vitamin D parade, but a new study suggests that D isn’t all it’s cracked up to be – at least when it comes to fighting colds. The New Zealand study of 322 healthy adults found that those who took large monthly doses of vitamin D got just as many colds (that lasted just as long) as the people who took placebos.

That said, don’t toss the D pills just yet. “This is far from a conclusive look as to whether D fights colds or not,” says Alisa Bowman, author of The Vitamin D Diet. Lurking variables include the participants’ initial vitamin D levels. “If they were normal, a supplemental dose [of vitamin D] wouldn’t have done any good anyway,” she says. Individuals’ initial immunity–also unknown–could have also played a role in the results.

Study gaps suggest there may be a ray of hope for vitamin D, despite its somewhat tarnished reputation as a cold-fighter. “D has been shown over and over again to do so much good beyond immunity that I don’t think this is any reason for it to drop from favor. [Vitamin D supplements] are cheap, easy to find, and tiny (won’t make you gag). They are great insurance, especially during the winter months. And if you want stronger bones and better health (who doesn’t?), definitely keep taking your D.”

And while vitamin D might not help you stave off sickness this season, there are other ways to keep yourself healthy. Boost your immunity with these foods, germ-proof your office, get your flu shot ASAP, and pick up the best OTC medicines – just in case.

More from Women’s Health:  

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One leg, tons of spirit: Amputee cheerleader inspires crowds
Some energy drink have more caffeine than listed, report finds
Forget puzzles, exercise is a better brain workout


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November 2, 2012 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

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