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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tesla's Macintosh - THE MODEL S

Just got back from a factory tour of the makers of the 2013 Automobile of the year - MODEL S
Ellon Musk was in the building too ...
 Some 13,000 customers had put down $5000 as a reservation, and we had put it down in April 2009 - and today was the big day. We were actually #787 on the wait list. Reminded me of the times when my dad had made his own reservations back in those days... the cycle of life continues. I saw it first on David Letterman and impressed sufficiently to plunk down 5 grand. The Model S was featured on Late Show with David Letterman in April 2009. Because the car uses no gasoline and does not produce any tailpipe emissions, it was allowed on the Late Show set and was the first fully functioning car on stage, and that probably got some of the 13,000 customers interested enough.,

 With Elon Musk @ TiECON 2009

We had been anticipating the 'arrival' since November last year, but as they say " the fruit of wait is always sweet"!

 Instead of picking up from Menlo Park, we decided to go hang out at the Factory.
Fabulous factory tour, and none of the gimmicks associated with the sale of a car.
No one trying to sell you undercoating, or sleaze balling you for something that you don't need.
These guys made the process a breeze - even though we were passed from team to team - as we progressed towards the final-pick up today.
PEN FED credit union is very popular with TESLA customers @ 1.49APR

So we have it now...
I am still confused about the flush door handles, the lack of an ignition button ;-(
Went to pick up Shivaum, and one of his friends called the Model S WICKED
All-glass panoramic roof, turn-by-turn navigation and a backup camera, along with WI-FI and two USB ports for plugging-in devices. And how about the 17 inch touchscreen dashboard?
Cost to drive 25 miles? A buck
You do the math now 
Brake lights come on when Tesla is losing speed
Seema was wondering why my brake lights came on so often when I was driving on 880.
Regenerative braking details here
  "It's the performance that won us over," admits editor-in-chief Jean Jennings AUTOMOBILE magazine. "The crazy speed builds silently and then pulls back the edges of your face. It had all of us endangering our licenses." The Signature's AC induction motor puts out 416 hp (weighs 4500 lbs) and that it blasts to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.

The Lithium Ion battery consists of more than 7,000 battery cells (the same cell you see in a laptop) for the 85KW-h pack. The battery uses Panasonic cells with NI-CO AL Cathode. The 60KW-h battery pack is guaranteed for 8 years or 125 miles. The battery is located under the car onto the floor, the last thing assembled, which makes taking out a lot easier, but also provides the MODEL S with a very low center of gravity. THere is a $10K battery replacement option for the 60KWh battery, replaceable anytime after the 8th year or 12K miles

Like most electric cars, the torque is generated instantly. Tesla's torque amounts to a 443 lb-ft and all on the rear axle (it is a rear wheel/ rear engine car).
Someone arranged an informal drag race to 100 mph with a 560-hp BMW M5. The Model S won.

RANDY CARLSON makes a very interesting point about HIGH PERFORMING electric cars

"Low performance electric cars, especially those with limited range (small batteries) fail to exploit inherent advantages of electric drive. Electric drive batteries, power inverters and motors all work more efficiently at part load than they do when delivering maximum output. This is the opposite of an ICE. A relatively underpowered ICE car - where the engine is working hard most of the time - is inherently more efficient than a high performance ICE car where the engine is inefficiently loafing most of the time. In the case of low performance cars, the ICE versions get to operate near their best efficiency while the electric versions end up operating at their least efficient point. For high performance cars, the reverse is true. It follows that the electric car designer has the advantage when designing a high performance car, but when designing a low performance car, not so much. Tesla's Model S is acclaimed as a quicker, quieter, smoother riding, better handling BMW.
Randy points out the Different Approaches

Different Approaches
StrategyGM, Ford, othersTeslaTesla Advantage
CarEconomyPerformanceGreater electric vs. ICE advantage.
MarketTCO driven.Performance, status driven.Tolerates premium.
BatteryCustomCommodityCost, availability, performance, reliability.

TESLA's approach is to build the best vehicle possible using electric power, aiming to compete with the best ICE cars, using commodity batteries in comparison to the approach to build the least expensive electric vehicle possible, aiming to compete with lower-end ICE cars on cost, with newly developed specialty batteries. Very smart!
Battery technology developed specifically for electric car applications is not the key to lower cost. The existing battery industry is already being driven to higher capacity, longer cycle life, shorter recharge times and wider operating temperatures - all the things an electric car battery needs to be - by makers of laptop computers, cell-phones and other electronic devices. Development of a 'new' battery, even if the chemistry is the same and only the form-factor differs, presents an economic and manufacturing learning curve challenge. Commodity batteries manufactured by the billions, from experienced suppliers driven by intense competition offer lower cost, greater reliability, better performance and assured availability compared to any custom developed battery. Until the electric car market begins using large volumes of batteries, the custom electric car battery is a dog that just isn't going to hunt."

Monday, January 7, 2013


Sound Advice: Consider a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera instead of an SLR

Updated:   01/04/2013 06:34:56 PM PST

Q I want to buy a travel camera with interchangeable lenses, which I guess means an SLR. I'd like something on the small side. What do you recommend?
-- J.B., Milwaukee
A For travel I'd strongly recommend a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. You can fit an extremely capable outfit and an iPad in a small, light shoulder bag, which is how I travel now. Mirrorless camera bodies and lenses are much lighter and more compact than their SLR equivalents, while producing equal or better picture quality. Mirrorless also works better for recording video.
Besides their superiority for travel, I actually find them to be a superior choice for most other consumer use as well. In Japan, mirrorless cameras already make up about half of interchangeable lens camera sales and are likely to outstrip SLRs in the not-too-distant future. Here in the United States, SLRs are still dominant. I think a lot of this has to do with consumer education (or better put, the lack of it) and big-box retailers stocking up on SLRs and telling their staff to push them.
Almost all the major brands now offer mirrorless cameras. About a year ago I indicated my preference for the Micro Four Thirds system developed by Olympus and Panasonic. The past year has solidified my preference as the cameras have gotten better and the lens lineup has expanded with more great choices from both manufacturers. Though the
Micro Four Thirds sensor is slightly smaller than most SLR sensors, the latest Micro Four Thirds sensors have achieved image quality parity with their SLR competitors, making an SLR an even harder argument now. I prefer the Olympus cameras for their built-in image stabilization and their ability to produce sharp, bright, colorful pictures that look perfect straight from the camera. At my deadline for submitting this column the Olympus OM-D E-M5 was in the lead on dpreview.com for reader choice of best camera of 2012. After using it extensively I can report it is hands-down the most enjoyable photographic tool I have ever used. The OM-D E-M5 kit sells for $1,099, which is a bargain for what it offers, but still a bit much for many consumers. You can now get the same image quality and most of the capability with the new $599 E-PL5 and $499 E-PM2. These new models share the sensor and imaging technology of the OM-D EM-5 in a smaller, more affordable package.
Another reason I am in love with Micro Four Thirds: the lenses. Olympus and Panasonic have come up with a dream lineup of impressive optics. Besides the high quality, affordable zooms lenses, there are many fixed focal length lenses available. Fixed lenses are preferred by serious photographers for their sharpness and low-light ability. I recently tested the Olympus 75mm/1.8 lens on the OM-D and it is easily the best portrait lens I have ever used. Third-party manufacturers are also manufacturing lenses for Micro Four Thirds. Sigma recently introduced two lenses, the 19mm/2.8 and 30mm/2.8, which are only $149 each after an instant rebate. They are a great way to get a taste of what it is like to shoot with a fixed lens.
Learn more at www.getolympus.com, www.panasonic.net/avc/lumix/systemcamera/gms/index.html and www.four-thirds.org/en/microft/index.html.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

There is hope...be the GHAJINI

It takes 30 days to fully transform your body
By Ankit Ajmera, Mumbai Mirror | Jan 6, 2013, 12.00 AM IST

When Hrithik Roshan's trainer says four weeks is all it takes to transform your body, you better believe it

Satyajit Chaurasia, the man who trained Aamir Khan for Ghajini and is currently working with actor Hrithik Roshan is making you a promise. You will lose between eight to 10 kg of weight, and gain 1.5 to 2 kg lean muscle if you take his advice. We got Chaurasia to design a 30-day workout that he says can transform the way your body looks by up to 40 per cent. "Getting fit isn't difficult, especially if you are not training to compete in a body building contest. Most people falter with diet and consistency. A little discipline is all it takes and your body will do all the work for you," he claims.

Week 1 Beginner I
You will have to start off by exercising five to six days a week. Don't exert yourself but try doing all the exercises, with as many repetitions as you can. You are allowed to stop for a maximum of one minute between exercises.

Total workout time for week 1 (per day): 45 mins. Calories burned (per day): 300-350

Total cardio time: 30 mins
For your body to start burning fat, your heart rate needs to get to more than 125 beats per minute. Track it with a heart rate monitor (Rs 2,000-Rs 6,000). Most treadmills these days are fitted with an inbuilt heart rate monitor.

Or outdoors
Total cardio time: 20-25 mins
If you can't afford a gym membership or prefer working out outdoors, start with a warm up walk at 6 kmph 8-10, for sprints five minutes of 100 . R metre each. You are allowed to stop for 30 secs to 1 min between sprints. Starting and stopping in between sprints uses the principle of interval training to burn calories. Although short, sprints helps burn same amount of calories as walking for longer duration.

Or cycling
Total cardio time: 30 mins
Chaurasia says cycling is a better cardiovascular exercise than running. Running impacts the joints including the knees and lower back. Cycling works on core muscles, especially the quadriceps which are not used to their best Warm optimum up for while 5 mins running and . cycle at an easy speed of 15-20 kmph. If you are using a spin bike indoors, start with - Increase a resistance speed level to 25 of -30 six kmph . or resistance level to 9-10; cycle for 2 mins. Keep alternating your speeds every 2 mins for a total of 20 mins. Put at least 60 per cent of effort while pedalling slowly, and 90 per cent while pedalling fast.

Ab crunches + Leg raises
Impact area: upper abs and lower abs No. of sets: 3 of 15-25 reps each After half hour of cardio, get down to the abs. Buy an ab trainer (Rs 1,000-Rs 2,000) — it helps support your neck. If not, lie down on your back with knees folded and hands placed close to your ears. Do not support your head with your hands; you'll sprain the neck. Staying in this position, come up by bending half way and exert pressure on your upper abs. Do 15-25 repetitions and rest for 30 secs Follow to 1 with minute 15- . 25 reps of leg raises to work the lower abdomen. Lie on your back with your legs extended in the air. Raise your legs at a 90 degree angle while keeping knees together. Slowly lower them to the ground without touching it. In all, you will complete three sets of each exercise.

Impact area: Abdomen, back, shoulders
No of sets: 2 of 30 secs
Done with crunches, lie down on your stomach. Rest your body on your forearms with arms flat on the floor and legs straight behind you. Your shoulders must be aligned directly above your elbows. In position, raise your body off the ground, supporting your weight on your forearms and toes. Try and hold for 30 secs. Make sure your stomach doesn't drop and hips don't rise while holding » still Rest . for 30 secs and do another set.

Side plank
Impact area: external abs and glutes
No of sets: 2 of 30 secs each on each side
Lie on one side of your body, placing elbow directly under your shoulder. Keep your legs straight, with one leg resting on the other. Maintain the straight line and lift your hips off the floor. Keeping your weight on the forearm, your knees must be in line with your spine, and hips square. Hold for 30 secs. Rest for 30 secs and perform another set. Repeat two sets with on other side of your body.

Impact area: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves
No of sets: 3 of 15-25 reps each
Place your feet at shoulder width. Extend hands straight in front of you. Keeping your back straight, lower thighs and sit on an imaginary chair. Without lifting your heels off the ground, raise slowly and repeat 15-25 times. Complete three sets.

Walking lunges
Impact area: quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes
No of sets: 1 of 15-20 reps
Stand straight with feet together and arms at rest. Take a step forward with one leg. Lower the hip and bend knee at an angle of 90 degrees. The front knee must be directly over the ankle and back knee pointing to the ground. Push with your back leg and return to starting position. Repeat with another leg and do 15-20 reps.

Push ups
Impact area: chest, triceps
No of sets: 2 of 10 reps each Lie down on your stomach with hands placed on the ground at shoulder width and legs straight behind. Exhale and push away from the floor. Inhale as you lower your body, stopping as your elbows reach a 90 degree bend. The hips must be in line with the back and must not rise. Do 10 reps of 3 sets.

Chin ups
Impact area: Back and arms
No of sets: 2 of 5-7 reps each
Buy a chin up bar available (Rs 1,000). Hold at shoulder width and hang for the first 30 secs to get a good grip. If you are doing it for the first time, take the support of a chair. Once you have a grip, pull yourself up as far as you can. Do not worry if you cannot pull up to chin level in the first week. Hold for a few secs and lower yourself slowly. Repeat for 5 times and do 2 sets.

Resistance Band Circuit
Impact area: Biceps and shoulders
No of sets: 2 of 12 reps each Resistance band (Rs 1,000) is a cheaper and effective substitute for dumbbells. It is a giant rubber band that you pull to strengthen certain muscle groups. It comes with three difficulty levels — green for beginners, blue for intermediate and red for experts. In week one and two, stick to the green band.

Front raises
Exhale and lift your arms in front of your body and bring up to shoulder height and lower slowly. Do two sets of 12 reps.
Side laterals
Exhale and lift your arms out to the side to shoulder height and lower slowly. Do 2 sets of 12 reps.
Rear raises
It is the opposite of front raises. Grasp the band and lean forward slightly. Lift arms behind you at a comfortable height and lower slowly. Do 2 sets of 12 reps.
Bicep curl
Place both feet on the band and grasp handles. Stretching the band, bend the elbows and curl hands up towards shoulder. Lower and do two sets of 12 reps.

Week 2 Beginner II
The pattern remains the same in week 2 but intensity increases by few minutes or reps.
Total workout time for week 2 (per day): 1 hour Calories burned (per day): 400-450
Total cardio time: 40 mins Follow same pattern of walking as in week 1 for the first 30 mins. Warm up for 5 mins at a comfortable speed of 6 kmph. Alternating between slow and fast — after every two, three or four minutes — choose speeds of 7 kmph and 8.5 kmph, respectively. After walking for 30 mins, run for 10.

Or outdoors
Total cardio time: 25 mins Same as week one, except you are now doing 8-10 sprints of 100 metre each.
Or cycling
Total cardio time: 40 minutes Same as week one, but alternate between slow and fast speeds of 25 and 35 kmph, respectively, after every 2 mins for half an hour. Post that, cycle at your best capacity for 10 mins continuously.

Ab crunches + leg raises
No of sets: 3 of 30-35 reps each Hold static for 10 secs at the end of every set of ab crunches and leg raises. This improves muscle isolation and increases endurance levels by up to 7-10 extra reps.

No of sets: 2 of 50-60 secs
Side plank
No of sets: 2 of 45-60 secs each on each side
No of sets: 3 of 20-30 reps each Hold static for 10 secs after every set.
Walking lunges
No of sets: 2 of 15 reps each
Push ups
No of sets: 2 of 14 reps each
Chin ups
No of sets: 2 of 7-8 reps each
Resistance Band Circuit
No of set: 2 of 15-20 reps each for bicep curls, and side, front and rear raises While coming down and lowering your arms in each set, count to three. If you come down fast, the exercise will not isolate your arm muscles, lessening the impact.

Week 3 Intermediate
Introduce an extra exercise — monkey jumps. Total workout time (per day): 1hr 30 mins Calories burned (per day): 600-650
Total cardio time: 45 mins Warm up. Run for 20 mins at 9 kmph. Adjust settings to 6 per cent incline and walk for 10 mins at 6 kmph. Up incline to 8 per cent and speed to 7.5-8 kmph, and walk for 10 mins.
Or outdoors
Total cardio time: 30 mins Do a warm up jog for 1 km at a comfortable speed. Perform 10-12 sprints of 100 metre each. Do not stop for more than 45 seconds between sprints.

Or cycling
Total Cardio Time: 45 mins Warm up and use 80 per cent of your capacity and cycle continuously for 20 mins. Then, fluctuate at slow and fast speeds for 5 mins and keep cycling for 20 mins. Give your best in the last five minutes.

Ab crunches + Leg Raises
No. of sets: 3 of 50 reps each (abs) + 3 of 25 reps each (leg raises) Count for 3 secs after every repetition while coming down to the ground. Hold static for 10 secs at the end of every set.

No of sets: 2 of 75 seconds
Side plank
No of sets: 2 of 75 secs each on each side
No of sets: 2 of 50 each Hold static for 10 secs after every set.
Monkey Jumps
Impact area: quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals
No of sets: 2 of 10 each Squat on the floor, touch palms to ground and jump in the air. Land and repeat for 10 times for two sets.

Walking lunges
No of sets: 3 of 15 reps each
Push ups
No of sets: 3 of 15 reps each
Chin ups
No of sets: 2 of 10 reps each
Resistance band circuit
No. of sets: 2 of 15-20 reps each with blue band. Hold static for 15 secs after every set and count 3 secs while lowering your arms.

Week 4 Expert
All exercises become vigorous, and you include hanging leg raises, which is what Chaurasia recommended for Aamir Khan during training for Ghajini.
Total workout time (per day): 1 hr 45 mins Calories burned (per day): 700-750
Total cardio time: 50 mins Warm up. Keep your speed constant and increase incline to 6 per cent. Walk for 10 mins. Increase incline to 8 per cent and walk for 10 mins. Adjust incline to 10 per cent and walk for 10 mins. Maintain incline and run at 8 kmph for 15 mins.
Or outdoors
Total cardio time: 35-40 mins Warm up. 12-14 sprints of 200 metre each.

Or cycling
Warm up. Alternate for 5 mins at slow and fast speeds at 60 and 90 per cent of your capacity, respectively, for 45 mins.

Ab crunches + Leg Raises
No of sets: 4 of 50 reps each (abs) + 3-4 of 25 reps each (leg raises). It's important that you remain static at angles of 45 degree, 22 degrees and 10 degrees, while lowering your legs in each set. Breathe constantly.

Hanging Leg Raises Ghajini-style
Impact area: Abdomen
No of sets: 2 of 25 reps each This exercise can be performed on the chin up bar. Grab the bar and hang until your body is still and the legs straight. Flex your arms and ab muscles and raise your feet up to the bar. Slowly lower legs and repeat 25 times for 2 sets. Hold for 15 secs in last rep.

No of sets: 2 of 120 secs
Side plank
No of sets: 2 of 90 seconds each on each side
No of sets: 2 of 50 each Hold static for 10 secs after every set.
Monkey jumps
No of sets: 3 of 20 each
Walking lunges
No of sets: 3 of 20 reps each
Push ups
No of sets: 3 of 15 reps each Do all repetitions independently without knee support. Hold static for 10-15 secs at the end of every set.
Chin ups
No of sets: 3 of 10 reps each
Resistance Band Circuit
No of sets: 4 of 20 reps each for all exercises

What to eat
Dr Rekha Sharma (in pic), president, Indian Dietetic Association, suggests a diet plan to match your workout. Fat gain and the onset of diabetes are largely due to skipping breakfast and irregularly eating patterns. To stay fit, you must eat something every 3 hours. Don't reach out for heavy meals. Nuts, fibre biscuits, fruit or a brown bread sandwich is enough to keep you going in between meals.

Eat a bowl of muesli or a peanut butter sandwich or a couple of bananas before your workout. Eat every 3 hours and continue with your regular diet for the first 10 days. But make sure you avoid foods made of maida (refined flour), fried snacks and white rice.

From the 11th day after the launch your new workout, start your day with two slices of brown bread, omelette/bhurji or 4 egg whites or soyabean bhurji, along with a glass of low fat milk. Snack on apples, papaya or oranges along with dates and nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.) two hours after breakfast. Lunch must include a green salad, two chapatis, a vegetable, dal and chicken or fish. Cook all your food in minimal oil. Vegetarians can supplement their protein requirement with protein shakes. Make sure you read the ingredient make-up chart on the container to avoid those with steroids. For essential amino acids, vegetarians can combine cereals and pulses to make multigrain dals and chapatis. 3 hours after lunch, have a sprout salad, bhel without fried sev or a brown bread sandwich. During the day, drink 4 litres of water and sip on coconut water and lime juice. Eat dinner by 8 pm. Cut down on carb intake — have 1 chapati and a vegetable soup, dal and sabzi. Eight hours of sleep is a must.

Maintaining your body after 30 days
Once you have lost weight and gained muscle, work out for not more than four days a week. Following this 10-min routine daily will keep your body in shape for up to couple of months. Four minutes of skipping, fast walking or running, followed by one minute of squats, one min of push ups, half a min of chin ups, 1 min of plank and 45 secs of side planks each. "It'll make sure that blood reaches your muscles, preventing muscle loss. But do get back to working out, soon," says Chaurasia.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Energy drinks hogwash...create your own health smoothies

Had enough of the holiday treats and thinking about the diet again?

 Follow the nature's trail, very simple tips to stay healthy via some health drinks (see recipes below by Charles Ayers, Chef Calafia, Malene Koch and Lisa Books-Williams)
And Energy drinks? They are spiraling towards a free fall....stay away from them

Juices and smoothies to reboot that New Year's diet

Updated:   01/03/2013 07:51:27 AM PST
Recipe: Google Gulp

Recipe courtesy of Charlie Ayers, chef Calafia, Palo Alto

Google Gulp

Serves 1

3 ounces black iced tea

3 ounces rice milk

2 ounces orange juice

1 ounce strawberries

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 a banana

Level scoop of ice

Blend all ingredients on medium speed for 1 minute. Serve immediately.

-- Charlie Ayers, chef, Calafia


Recipe: Facebook Freeze

Serves 1

1 ounce blueberries

1 ounce peaches

4 ounces milk

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1 teaspoon agave syrup

1 ounce plain yogurt

1 level scoop of ice

Blend all ingredients on medium speed for 1 minute. Serve immediately.

-- Charlie Ayers,

Recipe: Carrot Cucumber Lemonade

Carrot Cucumber Lemonade

Serves 1-2

Note: If you are making this in a blender, add ice cubes and enough water to help the blades turn smoothly.

1/3 English cucumber, peeled

3 carrots, peeled

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Cucumber slice, for garnish

Combine the cucumber, carrots and lemon in a blender; puree. Strain into a glass, then garnish with a cucumber slice.

-- Charlie Ayers,

Recipe: Pineapple Grapefruit Juice

Pineapple Grapefruit Juice

Serves 1-2

Note: This juice is delicious but expensive, unless you can score a good price on pineapple.

1 ruby red grapefruit

1 small pineapple

1. Thinly pare a strip of zest from the grapefruit, then cut into thin strips.

2. Peel the rest of the grapefruit. Juice it with the pineapple. Pour over crushed ice and serve, garnished with the grapefruit zest.

-- Charlie Ayers

Recipe: Strawberry Banana Orange 'Julius'

Strawberry-Banana Orange "Julius"

Serves 1

Note: This slimmed-down version of the classic drink supplies the protein of one egg (without the fat) and 1½ servings of fruit in just 130 calories.

1/3 cup frozen strawberries

1/3 cup light orange juice

1/2 small banana

1/4 cup liquid egg substitute

4 teaspoons granulated no-calorie sweetener (2 packets)

2 tablespoons low-fat milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup crushed ice

Place all the ingredients except the ice in a blender. Blend to mix. Add crushed ice, and blend on high until the ice is completely incorporated.

-- Marlene Koch


Recipe: Lisa's Winter Green Smoothie

Recipe courtesy of chef Lisa Books-Williams

Lisa's Winter Green Smoothie

Serves 1

1 1/4 cups water

1/2 cups ice cubes

2 Bosc pears, cored

1 banana, optional

5 kale leaves, stems removed

3 sprigs mint leaves, stems removed

1-inch piece vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of sea salt

Place all items in blender, and blend until smooth.

-- Lisa Books-Williams
  • Eating more fruits and vegetables is like hitting a diet reset button. It's a chance to start over after weeks of indulging in holiday fare. But sometimes we need an extra nudge to add the good stuff back in -- and it had better be tasty, or the habit won't stick past Groundhog Day.

That's why juices and smoothies are so popular -- and these days, chefs are combining fruits and vegetables in imaginative new ways.
Consider the Godzilla, chef Charlie Ayers' favorite breakfast juice, which combines arugula, kale, spinach, cucumber and apple with a splash of lemon. Ayers cooked for the Grateful Dead and techies at Google before opening Calafia, his restaurant in Palo Alto. But the chef has always had a penchant

Starting the year off right eating healthier is on many folks to do list and it can come in the form of juice, Walnut Creek, Calif., Dec. 27, 2012. (Susan Tripp Pollard/Staff)
for juices and smoothies, and he gets a kick out of giving them quirky names."A lot of people say they don't want to drink something green because they think it's going to be nasty," Ayers says. "But (the Godzilla is) very balanced with the sweetness of the apple, and the arugula is just a little bit peppery. The kale and cucumber give you many of the nutrients you need."
Ayers also serves his Silicon Valley customers a Facebook Freeze, a smoothie that mixes blueberries, peaches, peanut butter, yogurt and agave syrup. His Google Gulp blends black tea, rice milk, strawberries and banana with a touch of orange juice and honey.
The magic of juices and smoothies, of course, is that a single glass can pack several fruits and
vegetables -- and all of their vitamins and minerals -- into one meal or snack. That makes it easier to increase the fruits and vegetables we eat, which is just what the doctor ordered for many of us. When you make drinks at home, you control the ingredients, flavor and texture, says Marlene Koch, a Los Gatos dietitian and author of "Eat More of What You Love" (Running Press, $27, 352 pages). People generally want their smoothies to be fruity, creamy or both, so Koch starts with whole fruit and adds water or low-sugar juices. Be careful of ingredients such as apple juice, she says, which lacks the fiber of whole fruit and adds extra sugar.
"Also remember, all calories count," Koch says. "Even fruit in its whole form contains sugar, so you need to be aware of how much fruit fits in your diet."
The same goes for thickening agents. Smoothie shops may add frozen yogurt or even ice cream to thicken a drink, but there are far more healthful alternatives. Frozen fruits, which are just as wholesome as fresh, thicken a smoothie beautifully. When Koch makes her Strawberry-Banana Orange Julius, she pours in ¼ cup of egg substitute to add protein and that signature froth. When she wants a creamy smoothie, she adds a dollop

Charlie Ayers, executive chef and owner of Calafia Cafe and Market A-Go-Go, with some of his smoothies at Calafia Cafe in Palo Alto, Calif. on Friday, Dec 28 , 2012. (John Green/Staff)
of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese to the mix.Change up your smoothie and juice recipes with the seasons, and don't be afraid to experiment. During the winter, there are plenty of greens, carrots, beets and apples for juice, says AshEL Eldridge, founder of S.O.S. Juice, an urban culture and community health organization in Oakland that serves fresh organic juice at its community events. Adding almond or cashew butter boosts the protein, too.
Vegan chef and Pleasanton educator Lisa Books-Williams uses herbs and spices to add flavor, mixing fresh mint and vanilla bean to Bosc pears, bananas and kale for a Winter Green Smoothie.
Pears play into the smoothies at Frog Hollow Farms as well. Rebecca Courchesne uses Warren pears from her Brentwood farm to impart sweetness and a creamy texture to her smoothies, but she says the sky -- or rather, the orchard and produce garden -- is the limit.
"I make smoothies for my kids," she says, "and I never make them the same way twice."
No juicer?
No problem
You don't need a fancy, expensive juice machine to make fresh juices at home. Most bar blenders work just fine for making juice, chef Charlie Ayers says.
Juices made in a blender have more texture; just pour the drink through a fine-mesh sieve to reduce the amount of pulp. Ayers also adds a few ice cubes with his fruits and vegetables before flipping the switch. The ice helps prevent fruit bruising and keeps the blender from getting too hot.
How much?
Fruits and vegetables are so essential to a healthy diet, half your plate should be filled with produce, according to the federal government's MyPlate recommendations, which replaced the old food pyramid in 2011. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say adults are eating far less produce than they should. Only 40 percent of California adults eat fruit two or more times a day, and just 27 percent eat vegetables three or more times a day -- rates that fall below targets for reducing the risk of illness and managing weight.
For more information on your nutritional needs, based on your age and activity level, go to www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/fruitsvegetables/howmany.html.

FDA posts injury data for 3 energy drinks

Updated:   11/15/2012 08:56:52 PM PST

As its policies on highly caffeinated energy drinks are scrutinized, the Food and Drug Administration publicly released records Thursday about fatality and injury filings that mentioned the possible involvement of three top-selling products.
The Web posting of the records by the agency included 13 previously undisclosed injury filings that mentioned Rockstar Energy. The FDA also released filings related to 5-Hour Energy, a popular energy shot, and Monster Energy, another popular brand.
The agency's action comes a day after The New York Times reported that the agency had received more than 90 filings about 5-Hour Energy, including reports that cited it possible involvement in 13 fatalities. In late October, the FDA confirmed it had received five fatality reports that cited Monster Energy.
The filing of an incident report with the FDA does not mean that a product was responsible for a death or an injury or contributed to it in any way.
The makers of 5-Hour Energy and Monster Energy have insisted their products are safe and unrelated to the problems reported to the FDA
Officials of Rockstar Energy Drink, which is based in Las Vegas, did not return calls Thursday seeking comment
The release of the filings may represent a turnabout in agency policy. While units within the FDA that oversee prescription drugs and medical devices make adverse event reports about those products available to the public through websites or
other means, the unit that oversees dietary supplements routinely does not do so. Shelly Burgess, an agency spokeswoman, said the agency had decided to release the records "in an effort to be transparent." She added that the filing of a report did not show a product was at fault.
"If we find a relationship between consumption of the product and harm, FDA will take appropriate action to reduce or eliminate the risk," Burgess said.
Many medical experts say that healthy adults can safely consume 400 milligrams or more of caffeine daily, or about as much as caffeine as in several 8-ounce cups of coffee or in two 16-ounce cans of many energy drinks.
There is scant data, however, about whether such levels are safe for young teenagers to whom energy drinks are frequently marketed. Along with caffeine, energy drinks typically contain other ingredients like high levels of certain B vitamins and a substance called taurine, which exists inside the body.

Scant proof is found to back up claims by energy drinks

Updated:   01/01/2013 08:43:20 PM PST

Energy drinks are the fastest-growing part of the beverage industry, with sales in the United States reaching more than $10 billion in 2012 -- more than Americans spent on iced tea or sports beverages like Gatorade.
Their rising popularity represents a generational shift in what people drink, and reflects a successful campaign to convince consumers, particularly teenagers, that the drinks provide a mental and physical edge.
The drinks are now under scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration after reports of deaths and serious injuries that may be linked to their high caffeine levels. But however that review ends, one thing is clear, interviews with researchers and a review of scientific studies show: the energy drink industry is based on a brew of ingredients that, apart from caffeine, have little, if any benefit for consumers.
"If you had a cup of coffee you are going to affect metabolism in the same way," said Robert Pettitt, an associate professor at Minnesota State University in Mankato, who has studied the drinks.
Energy drink companies have promoted their products not as caffeine-fueled concoctions but as specially engineered blends that provide something more. For example, producers claim that "Red Bull gives you wings," that Rockstar Energy is "scientifically formulated" and Monster Energy is a "killer energy brew." Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., has asked the government to investigate the industry's marketing claims.
Promoting a message beyond caffeine has enabled the beverage makers to charge premium prices. A 16-ounce energy drink that sells for $2.99 a can contains about the same amount of caffeine as a tablet of NoDoz that costs 30 cents. Even Starbucks coffee is cheap by comparison; a 12-ounce cup that costs $1.85 has even more caffeine.
As with earlier elixirs, a dearth of evidence underlies such claims. Only a few human studies of energy drinks or the ingredients in them have been performed and they point to a similar conclusion, researchers say -- that the beverages are mainly about caffeine.
Caffeine is called the world's most widely used drug. A stimulant, it increases alertness, awareness and, if taken at the right time, improves athletic performance, studies show.
"These are caffeine delivery systems," said Roland Griffiths, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University who has studied energy drinks.
"They don't want to say this is equivalent to a NoDoz because that is not a very sexy sales message."

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