Daily Archives: October 26, 2011

Could The Innocent Gas Pump Handle Be The Filthiest Item You Touch?

Turns out YES!  The gas pump handle was identified as the filthiest surface Americans may encounter….who knew?  Would you have thought that gas pump handles, ATM buttons, mailbox handles, and escalator rails had anything in common?  According to a study released by Kimberly-Clark Professional, a unit of Kimberly-Clark Corp, the personal hygiene giant, these are among the dirtiest surfaces we touch every day.  The study was carried out in six major U.S. cities.  Trained hygienists swabbed frequently touched surfaces in high traffic areas in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and Philadelphia using an instrument that monitors sanitary conditions in industry, and analyzed a total of 350 surfaces.  

The test checked for levels of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is used in food hygiene and signals the presence of animal, vegetable, bacteria, yeast, or mold cells.  Surface reading levels with ATP of 300 or higher suggest high risk of contamination of a transmitted illness.  The tests revealed that the following surfaces had ATP counts of 300 or more:

  • 71 percent of gas pump handles
  • 68 percent of mailbox handles
  • 43 percent of escalator rails
  • 41 percent of ATM buttons
  • 40 percent of parking meters and kiosks
  • 35 percent of crosswalk buttons and vending machine buttons

So, even if you do not drive or own a car you are still at risk for contracting germs at other surfaces used daily. The study results may or may not surprise many readers, but shows that we need to take care against germs at our workplaces and in public places, which surprisingly lists everything else but public toilets!  Another place to avoid are the public water dispensers in public places. 

Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, who helped designed the study stresses the importance of keeping surfaces clean and washing hands frequently throughout the day to prevent getting sick and spreading illness. Continue to wash your hands and use the hand sanitizers and alcohol dispensers whenever you can.

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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in General, Healthcare


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Pasta Salad with Cranberries and Peas

Pasta salads are one of the very easy and convenient mini meals that are appealing to children and adults.  Pasta, of course, is the main player in the game.  Most pasta salads are creamy and heavy.  I like my pasta salads light and so you’ll find no creamy dressing holding the salad together.  And, somehow I find the pasta salads are usually made with larger pasta.  I found tiny bow-tie pasta that is ideal for soups.  I began with the intention of making soup for lunch, but ended up with a pretty pasta salad, complete with green peas, cranberries, crunchy walnuts, and a very simple dressing of extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

The tiny pasta with peas and ruby-red cranberries will surely appeal to children.  Put this beautiful bowl of pasta salad in front of kids, and I’m sure they will want to try it.  Well, even if the kid(s) in your house doesn’t feel tempted to dig in, you should try it.  It is light, delicious, and healthy too!  Half a cup of frozen peas has only 5% of your daily value of sodium. Peas are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, thiamine (B1), iron and phosphorus. Pulses are rich in protein, carbohydrate and fiber and low in fat. Cranberries are full of antioxidants, which protect cells from damage by unstable molecules called free radicals. The health benefits of cranberries include prevention of urinary tract infection, lowering cholesterol, and cancer prevention.

Ingredients I used:

  • 1/2 cup of your favorite pasta (I used tiny bow-tie pasta)
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Few simple steps:

  1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.  Drain and keep aside.
  2. Cook peas in boiling water for about 3 minutes and set aside.
  3. Mix the olive oil and lemon juice with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper until well combined.
  4. In a bowl, toss the pasta, peas, cranberries, walnuts, parsley and mix well.
  5. Pour the dressing and let the salad rest for some time until flavors are well combined before serving.

Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Recipes, Vegetarian


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