The Miracle Bean in Your Grocery Store

<b>The Miracle Bean in Your Grocery Store</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Looking for a food that is healthy and full of anti-oxidants, protein and fiber? You might want to get your can opener — when it comes to health benefits, it’s hard to beat black beans.

Ounce for ounce, black beans have the same amount of protein as beef but contain no cholesterol and have only a third of the calories. In addition, black beans are high in dietary fiber — one cup of black beans provides 15 grams. Dietary fiber helps control blood sugar and weight.

Black beans also provide vitamins and minerals, flavonoid anti-oxidants and omega-3 essential fatty oils, which can improve skin, lower blood pressure and boost brain function. When buying black beans, don’t worry about purchasing canned over dry. Canned beans preserve the nutritional value of the beans, while making them much easier to use in recipes.

There are many ways to incorporate black beans into meals. For example, many South American and Mexican dishes include black beans. For a healthy, low-fat meal, Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati, authors of the independent cookbook “Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s,” suggest this black bean soup with cumin and lime:

Favorite Black Bean Soup

Serves Four

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove crushed garlic

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 15 ounce cans of black beans, with liquid

1 cup (half a jar) of your favorite salsa

2 tablespoons lime juice, or the juice of one lime

Plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)

1. In a medium pot, add the olive oil and sauté the onions until they are soft and translucent.

2. Add cumin and garlic, sautéing for an additional minute.

3. Pour in black beans with their liquid, salsa and lime juice. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 minutes.

4. When serving the soup, top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.

To learn about the book “Cooking with Trader Joe’s,” or to find more healthy, time-saving recipes from Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati, visit www.cookingwithtraderjoes.com.

Spend Time With Your Guests, Not Your Kitchen

<b>Spend Time With Your Guests, Not Your Kitchen</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – You barely saw your friends and family the last time you hosted a holiday soiree. As your guests mingled under the mistletoe, you baked trays of mini quiche and assembled shrimp cocktails, leaving little time to enjoy their company.

Sound familiar? If so, you might want to rethink your entertaining strategy — it is possible to throw an elegant gathering without spending all of your time in the kitchen.

Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati, authors of the cookbook “Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s,” say that it’s a simple matter of buying the right ingredients.

For example, making homemade puff pastry requires hours of folding dough on itself — but frozen puff pastry, which is available in most grocery stores, makes for easy and impressive appetizers. “Use the grocery store as your prep kitchen,” says Miniati. “With the right purchases, you can make gourmet appetizers in minutes.”

Try serving these surprisingly simple Pastry Bites at your next gathering. Alternate fillings could include goat cheese with cranberries, pesto with roasted red peppers, or ricotta and pine nuts.

Pastry Bites

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

3-4 tablespoons bruschetta or olive spread

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the puff pastry sheet into nine equal squares. In the center of each square, drop a rounded teaspoon of bruschetta. Place squares evenly on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

For a quick alternative to pumpkin tarts, enfold pumpkin butter in puff pastry dough:

Pumpkin Spice Turnovers

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed

1/2 cup pumpkin butter, apple butter or any fruit jam

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut each puff pastry sheet into four equal squares. Place one tablespoon pumpkin butter in the center of each square. Fold the pastry into a triangle, then press and seal the edges. Repeat for each square. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.

To see more recipes or find more information about the cookbook, “Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s,” visit www.cookingwithtraderjoes.com.

How to Monitor Your Child’s Virtual Life

<b>How to Monitor Your Child’s Virtual Life</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Joe started to notice that his daughter, then 16, was behaving differently. “She had no desire to go to school in the morning, did not do her homework as she used to, and stopped going to the gym because she was always tired. When the family got together, or even when her friends asked her to go out and do something with them, she would rather stay home, alone.”

Desperate, Joe and his wife decided to install SpectorSoft’s Spector Pro, a monitoring software program, on their home’s computers. The software captures any keystrokes, chats and instant messages, e-mails, Web site visits, Internet searches and programs run by a child, so that parents can see every action performed, step-by-step.

Joe was shocked to learn what his daughter was doing online. “Our girl had met a married 42-year-old man during a chatting session, and they were sending provocative pictures to each other,” he says. His daughter was also visiting juvenile pornography and suicide Web sites, as well as planning to run away with the man she had met.

Joe and his wife put his daughter in counseling and contacted the FBI and local authorities about the online predator.

Pedophiles continue to use the Internet to target victims. It’s important for parents to monitor Internet activity and discuss the dangers with their children. According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, there are certain online behaviors that put children and teenagers at greater risk. These include:

– Posting personal information – Interacting online with strangers

– Making nasty comments

– Sending personal information to people unknown in real life

– Downloading images from file-sharing programs

– Visiting pornography sites

– Engaging in cyber-bullying

– Talking about sex online

If parents cannot supervise their children’s online activity, or if they suspect a problem, they should consider installing a software program that tracks online behavior. “I truly believe that we saved our daughter,” said Joe.

For more information, visit www.spectorsoft.com.

Recession-Proof Family Entertainment That Will Outlast the Economic Slump

<b>Recession-Proof Family Entertainment That Will Outlast the Economic Slump</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – An outing to the movies for a family of four could run upwards of $70 with the gasoline, parking, tickets and a snack bar visit. And an amusement park could be double that. As hard economic times are affecting more middle-class Americans, entertaining the family at home on a shoestring is becoming the trend.

The 21st century’s version of traditional parlor games (board games, charades, etc.) is video gaming. But even amongst video games, costs – and experiences – vary wildly. Compared with hardcore games designed for young males, family-friendly “casual” video games like Bookworm Adventures and Bejeweled Twist are far more cost-effective, easy to learn and appealing to everyone in the family.

Joe and Cary Anne Melton of Huntersville, N.C., have assembled a sizable library of casual classics which they play with their daughters Jenna and Claire. “When you consider the four of us have collectively enjoyed Bookworm Adventures for at least a couple of hundred hours over the years, the modest cost of the game is a tremendous deal compared to most other forms of family entertainment,” Joe says. “And these are games I can feel good about letting my daughters play. It’s a great bonding experience to have your child sit on your lap and help you solve the challenges in Bookworm Adventures or Peggle,” Joe notes. “We end up having thoughtful, enlightening discussions about everything from spelling and word definitions to zoology and physics.”

Casual games range in price from $10 to $20 and can be tried for free online. With the average casual game providing more than 100 hours of entertainment, that equates to pennies per hour of play. For a wide array of family-friendly titles, check out www.popcap.com, www.spintop-games.com or www.realarcade.com.