Saturday, June 25, 2011

This post aim to bring to our attention the diabetes disease, its effects, what we can do about it and how anyone affected can live with it.
Diabetes and all the complications associated with it are responsible for a number of deaths and disabilities all around the world. Millions of people are diagnosed and at the same token millions are undiagnosed. The figures in the United States alone are startling; there is nearly some 8 percent of the population or 18.1 million people living with diabetes. In 1980, there were only 5.6 million people diagnosed with the disease. This disease is one of the leading health problems in the Caribbean, contributing significantly to morbidity and mortality and adversely affecting both the quality and length of life.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a defect in the body’s ability to convert glucose (sugar) to energy. Glucose is the main source of fuel for our body. When food is digested it is changed into fats, protein, or carbohydrates. Foods that affect blood sugars are called carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, when digested, change to glucose. Examples of some carbohydrates are: bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, corn, fruit, and milk products. Individuals with diabetes should eat carbohydrates but must do so in moderation. (Diabetes Research Wellness Foundation).
Diabetes is not contagious. According to medical personnel, after digestion, glucose passes into the bloodstream, where it is used by cells for growth and energy. For glucose to get into cells, insulin must be present. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, a large gland behind the stomach. When we eat, the pancreas automatically produces the right amount of insulin to move glucose from blood into the cells. In people with diabetes, however, the pancreas either produces little or no insulin, or the cells do not respond appropriately to the insulin that is produced. Glucose builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine, and passes out of the body in the urine. Thus, the body loses its main source of fuel even though the blood contains large amounts of glucose.
Who gets Diabetes?
Anyone regardless of
  • age
  • Color
  • sexual orientation
  • location
  • size
It has been recorded that people with a family history of diabetes are a usually a high risk. Others at high risk also are older people, overweight and sedentary people.
Well, my family is one of those families with a history of diabetes. My grandmother, (Dad’s mom) had one of her legs amputated some years before she died and my dad had a number of complications that were associated to the disease. I recall him making drastic changes to his life style once he was diagnosed with this disease in the late 80s. I am convinced those changes were responsible for him living with the disease for approximately 20 years. He abstained from alcohol, minimized his rice intake and when he did have some, it was brown rice. He ate toasted whole wheat bread, lots of yams, vegetables, beans and fish. Pasta, potatoes, regular milk or anything that would increase his blood sugar level were seldom a part of his diet. For the most part he kept himself active in his kitchen garden from which he grew most of the food he ate.
Three years ago on this date, June 25, he was called home just a few days short of his 81st birthday. We were fortunate to celebrate his life at his funeral on July 7, his birth date. Usually it is after someone passes on from a particular ailment that we tend to speculate about what could have or should have been done. Yes! We had those moments as a family. However, though it may sound weird to say we are grateful that our father was as disciplined as he was. Had he continue with his usual eating and drinking habits he would have been long gone. We were blessed to have had him around for 20 plus years after his diagnosis.
I am sure family members of diabetics can attest to the fact that their suffering relative can be troublesome, irritable and stubborn. Nevertheless, it’s noteworthy to mention that this disease is dangerous and its complications will take our loved ones away from us earlier that we would like if we do not act responsibly. The good news is that it is treatable and as such we need to stop crying foul about the illness and act, it is not a death sentence to anyone. We need to utilize the medical assistance available to us and support organizations that are researching the illness.
Reports are that the number of diabetic cases is likely to increase for several reasons. First, a large segment of the population worldwide is aging and second, people are becoming increasingly overweight and sedentary. This is very true for the American society. Detecting the symptoms and seeking your doctor’s advice are the first steps one should take in the process of becoming aware of this problem. Diabetes often goes undiagnosed because many of its symptoms seem so harmless. Recent studies indicate that the early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of developing the complications of diabetes.
Here are some of the symptoms we can look for
Type 1 Diabetes
  • Frequent urination
  • Unusual thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Extreme fatigue and Irritability

Type 2 Diabetes*
  • Any of the type 1 symptoms
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling/numbness in the hands/feet
  • Recurring skin, gum, or bladder infections
*Often people with type 2 diabetes have no symptom
My father when he was in pain due to poor circulation would say to us he did not wish this illness on a Dog of his. Thank God to date none of his children or grandchildren or great-grandson is diagnosed. However, we are taking the necessary precautions, given the heredity factor.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

7 Steps Newly Diagnosed Diabetics Should Take - US News and World Report

7 Steps Newly Diagnosed Diabetics Should Take - US News and World Report

Read more @

Guyana Pepperpot

Pepperpot is Guyana’s national dish, which was derived by the Amerindians. It is traditionally served at Christmas and other special events.

Last Sunday, Father’s Day, I had pepperpot with bread for breakfast, YUM!. So I thought, why not share this with everyone.

Here is my mom’s recipe I tweaked a bit.

You will need

2 lb pork with bone
1 lb beef, cut into 3 inch pieces
1 lb cow heel or pig feet
1/2  lb pig tail, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 Lime juice or vinegar
1/2 cup cassava cassareep
2 hot peppers
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 bunch thyme
2 Maggi cube
2 tbsp sugar
5 -7 cloves
2 pieces orange peel
2 cinnamon sticks


Trim excess fat off meats, wash them with lemon juice or vinegar and season as usual.

Lay the cow heel or pig feet at the bottom of the pressure pot, followed by the pig tail, beef, pork thyme, orange peel, clove, cinnamon sticks, 1 pepper, chopped onions, and garlic.

The reason for laying the meat like that is to have the tougher meat at the bottom. Turn the heat on medium and cook until water dries out. Cover pot during this process, however not in pressure mode.

Once the water evaporates add the cassava cassareep and hot water to cover the meat. Pressure for 25-30 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to cook further until the pressure is safe to open. Test the texture of the meat especially cow heel and pig tail. If necessary you may need to pressure it for another 5 minutes. Skim and discard the oil which sits at the top. In addition, if the meat and gravy are not dark enough add some more cassareep. The color should be dark; the pictures tell the story.

Add sugar, the second pepper, salt to taste and cook slowly for another 10-15.

It is okay to eat this dish immediately, however, it is best after 24 hours. Besides, it tastes even better as the days go by. As such it is advisable to make it a day ahead. Note there is no need to refrigerate this dish after cooking it. It is safe to remain at room temperature once it is warmed up at lease once per day.

This meal is typically served warm with bread (home made); however some people eat it with store bread, rice and ground provision.

If you were to visit Guyana, pepperpot should be one of the things on  your must have list or if you have a Guyanese friend ask them to make  you some. To take it a little further, if you are able to put your hands on some cassava cassareep  go right ahead and experiment.

I understand versions of the dish are also served in several other countries in the  Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada and St Vincent. I wonder if it taste the same?

Learn more about the Caribbean @

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vacation in Bermuda

My visit to the Island of Bermuda just over a year ago convinced that vacationing away from our habitat is good. I spent just over a week on the island and I am willing to dub it as one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Bermuda is a British overseas territory located in the North Atlantic Ocean which seems to be a world away from any other land. The closest land to it is the coast of North Carolina U.S.A. It consists of 138 islands that form a fishhook-shaped landmass, stretching some 22 miles in length and about a mile in width. Bridges and causeways connect the eight largest islands. Tourism is an important to the island's economy, although international business has overtaken it in recent years. Shopping with the Bermuda dollar or the US dollar are welcomed the exchange rate is US$1= BMD$1. Bermuda has developed into a highly successful offshore financial center.

As a child, I recall hearing all the horrid stories about ships and aircrafts miraculously disappearing into the Bermuda Triangle. To date, there are grown people who are still of the view that something is amidst and it is all based hearsay.

Well, I love to investigate things for myself and I decided to hit two birds with one stone; visit a friend and get a personal experience on the Island. I flew to the island from the John F. Kennedy Airport JFK New York (NY) and arrived at my destination within less than two hours. No!!! The plane did not disappear because I am here!. Nevertheless, before the plane landed I was in love with what I saw. The view from the aircraft was majestic. The island is surrounded by a wide platform of underwater coral reefs. The closest thing I have seen to it is Oprah flying the coral reefs in Australia. I was so caught up with what I saw that I was unaware the plane was on the runway. The lone airport is located in the parish of St George’s and is 10 miles (16 km) east of Bermuda's capital city of Hamilton where I intended to reside for the rest of my vacation. On my way to the city I quickly realized that all the roofs were white, the buildings were painted in beautiful bright colors and the place was a bit mountainous. This unique display of architecture captivated me and before long the Q and A session began. I learnt that the roofs are made from large pieces of limestone tiles and painted white for two reasons:

1.    They are designed to retrieve the water from the rainfall and channel it down to a tank that is usually located under the house. The rain is the main source of water on the island. and
2.    To keep the inside of the house cool in the summer.

The reasons made sense to me since similar methods of trapping rain water are practiced in Guyana. I was like a kid in a candy store looking left and right as my Guide and the taxi driver provided me with tons of information.

Bermuda is truly a beautiful tropical island. My stay was so relaxing. The view from Front Street in the city of Hamilton across the water way at the Hamilton Harbour is breathtaking. My ferry ride to the Royal Navy Dockyard was the highlight of the visit, even though I arrived a bit late. I watched in awe at young men and women jet skiing, kids sailing and a boat owner playfully entertained us as he rode behind us in the path of the waves made by the ferry. At first I thought it was scary, but he seems to be a professional at the display as he waved at the passengers who were mostly visitors to the Island. As I looked at these activities it dawned on me that there is so much for the world to learn. While some kids are stuck in a house with a Xbox here in Bermuda the kids have a sail boat. Interesting!

The Dockyard or Kings Wharf is located in Ireland Island, at the western tip of Bermuda's Sandy’s Parish.  It spreads across some 24-acres and offers many attractions in addition to being home to a marina, a working boatyard, many restaurants and shops. Some of the largest Cruise Ships dock the harbor. I returned to Hamilton with the bus service which was prompt. Some of the roads are relatively narrow and I found myself worrying unnecessarily about the driver hitting the oncoming traffic. Then it was Dinner at the Pickled Onions. I love to cook my own food so my criticism may be biased; it was nothing to shout about other than the cost. Expensive!

[caption id="attachment_812" align="alignright" width="300" caption="On my way to the Dockyard"]<img src="" alt="&quot;On my way to the Dockyard&quot;" title="Me on a boat in Bermuda" width="300" height="225" class="size-full wp-image-812" />[/caption]

Unfortunately, I missed out on a ride with the glass bottom boat which enables you to see the coral reefs below the beautiful turquoise water but I will make up for that on my return. I also missed out on the beach activity since it was in February and the temperatures and weather were not cooperating. The Island is north of the Caribbean and while it was snowing in New York it was raining and windy in Bermuda.

Bermuda is one the Islands I will revisit not in February of course and I suggest you visit it as well. I was told by a local that besides the water being turquoise, it is warm and it is the delight of swimmers, snorkelers, divers and deep-sea fishermen. It is an Island that is touted to be an Island for the rich and famous, but wait, I am neither. I say you explore the possibilities and take a trip.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Who is my Neighbor

Loving God and loving neighbor are foundational to our Christian faith. As Jesus points out, total love of God is the greatest commandment followed by love of neighbor: "He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (Matt 22:37-39). Often, we focus on one to the exclusion of the other.
Another polar shift that we do lies in how we view neighbor. We tend to swing between recognizing that everyone is our neighbor and keeping a more restrictive view of neighbor to our inner circle. The trouble is, we often seem to find it easier to take up the cause of an unnamed group that we can champion than to show mercy and justice to those beside us. How do we show mercy to our friends and family and the people who do not share our core values and deeply held opinions? How are we neighbors to them?

By Claire Smith

Friday, June 3, 2011

Redjet and Caribbean Airlines Feud.

Let me categorically state that I am in no way supporting either airline; I am simply stating what I discovered!

I was reading the news earlier this week and discovered that there is a feud between the new airline REDjet and the authorities in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago over the airline flying to these islands. From what was reported, a petition has been created by supporters of “the regional low-cost carrier”, REDjet to force the authorities in Jamaica and Trinidad to give the airline clearance to fly to those territories. The petition called the ‘Freedom of Caribbean Air Travel’ was created over the weekend, and had garnered a number of signatures from people all across the region, including Trinidad and Jamaica. According to Caribbean 360, the document addressed to the Governments of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, appeals for an explanation of the REDjet delays.

I investigated to determine the answers to two burning questions plaguing my mind at the time:

(1).Whether REDjet was having cheap fares? and

(2).Whether the Governments of these two territories were really holding back on the airline’s clearance?

I visited the REDjet’s website and it immediately deepened my interest so I had to do some additional browsing to confirm that the figures I saw were accurate. They were! But, it depended on my destination, the embarkation point, the particular day of the week selected to depart, the time of departure and the length of stay. Interestingly, I recall flying to Barbados and Trinidad a few years ago and paid a ridiculously higher price than the highest prices offered by REDjet. How could this be possible?

Intrigued further, I went to the website of the Trinidad owned Caribbean Airlines to do a comparison and some extra browsing. I must admit that the prices there in comparison to REDjet were incredibly higher. As such I concluded that Politics and Monopolization were at work and ventured on to the Caribbean Airlines News link. This visit was all I needed to confirm my suspicions and conclusions. The headline read:


27 May 2011, Piarco, Trinidad and Tobago W.I. - Days before the deadline for a notice of closure of the largest aviation merger in the Caribbean, Caribbean Airlines has finalized its acquisition of Air Jamaica. The deal was made official at the Office of the Prime Minister in St. Clair, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Minister of Finance, Winston Dookeran, and Jamaica's Finance Minister, Audley Shaw, signed the agreement which was witnessed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, and Works and Transport Minister, Jack Warner.

After reading the first paragraph I started to get the picture as to why REDjet was having difficulty with these two governments. The release added that the Government of Jamaica will now have a sixteen percent stake in the Trinidadian airline and a member appointed to the Caribbean Airlines Board of Directors. I personally think that the merger is good; however trying to shut another airline out is not in the interest the people of these islands, the people of the Caribbean in general, or people from around the world who may want to Island hop via this means.

I noted that the penultimate paragraph of the release ended with the line, “A truly Caribbean airline will now be of service to the Caribbean and its people”. As such, I investigated to determine who the owners of REDjet were. I found that REDjet is privately owned and may have an Irish connection. I am stunned by this situation! Does it really matter whether an airline is Caribbean owned or not? I can pinpoint numerous benefits to the Caribbean basin from a foreign airline taking to the skies, for example, increase in jobs, easy, frequent and inexpensive flying from island to island, tourism sectors reporting increase in revenue and most of all making traveling, spending and saving extremely easier for all concerned. And I’m sure they are additional benefits you can add.

What are your views on this situation?

Remember to visit for this and more Caribbean information.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On Thursday May 30th, 2011, Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) celebrated Indian Arrival Day. On May 30th 1845, the Fath Al Razak docked at the Port of Spain harbour in Trinidad and Tobago with 225 adult passengers on board. The passengers were immigrants from India who had come to the British colony to work on the sugarcane plantations. There were over 140,000 East Indians Immigrants listed to have arrived over a 70 year period. At least 75 percent of those who came remain and settled. They continued with their religious traditions of Hinduism and Islam, and eventually transformed Trinidad into a diverse, colorful society, with their customs, style of dress, dance, food, music, singing, and language. Descendants of these Indian immigrants, now comprise about half of the 1.3 million multi-ethnic society of the island.

Indian Arrival Day was first celebrated in Skinner Park, San Fernando, as the East Indian Centenary on May 30, 1945 which marked the hundredth anniversary of the coming of Indians to Trinidad. However, this historic day was only declare a national holiday since 1994. It was called Arrival day, however in 1995 it was renamed Indian Arrival day.

Since its establishment in Trinidad, Indian Arrival Day has given rise to similar celebrations in Guyana, Jamaica, Britain, the United States, Canada, and Australia.

The commemoration takes the form of prayers, speeches, songs, music, dances and plays in communal as well as public spaces. The spirit of the day is invoked at various beaches with the reenactment of the landing of the first boat-load of pioneers who gave birth to the Indian community in Trinidad.

As a part of the celebration also there was an annual Miss Indian Arrival Trinidad and Tobago, which is in its eight year. Twelve beautiful young women will vie for the title on Saturday at the Rudranath Capildeo Centre, Couva.

East Indians have made significant contribution to the Caribbean history and culture. Indian foods have been the most significant; Roti, dhal, doubles, sweets, curry etc.  are a must have at least once per week. These dishes have become popular among the the other ethnic groups and are sold in restaurants in the Caribbean, Canada, US, and UK.