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  • January 2020
    M T W T F S S
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Cook It Up This Summer

I love food, I love eating, and most of all, and I love to cook the food I eat.  Cooking gives you the satisfaction of creating something delicious.  Cooking is a wonderful way to express yourself creatively.  Cooking also makes you popular—people love food and the people who give them food.

Cooking also gives you control over what you put into your body, which may be more important now than ever before.  Teenage diabetes, namely Type 2 diabetes, is on the rise in the United States.  Until recently, this was a disease rarely seen in children and teens.  Now, with increasing obesity rates, young people are at much greater risk for weight-related diseases.

Take charge of what and how you eat!  If you are a beginning chef or have been cooking for years, these books are for you.  For more cooking inspiration, take a look at some of these food blogs written by teens!


Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs by Rozanne Gold

Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by Megan Carle

Teen Cuisine by Matthew Locricchio


Check out A Teen Gourmet, written by a Kentucky-based teen about cooking, starting college, and life!

In Kate’s Kitchen features delicious recipes with step-by-step instructions and photographs on how to make each recipe!

17 and Baking features everything baking.  Check out this blog to find out how to make cookies, bars, and other scrumptious baked goods!

21st century football, or ‘how physical is too physical?’

By Justin K. Aller, Getty Images

If you live in Western Pennsylvania, chances are you know a fair amount about football. This region is often referred to as the “Cradle of Football” because of all the great players who grew up around here. (And, of course, Pittsburgh is home to the six-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.)

In Pittsburgh, football is everywhere. Even if you aren’t a die-hard Steelers fan, you can probably still recognize Troy Polamalu’s flowing mane, Hines Ward’s smile, and Brett Keisel’s beard. In Western PA, Mondays after a Steelers’ loss are unbearable (everyone is in a bad mood!), and the excitement in the air before a playoff game is palpable. Why? I could speculate, but what it ultimately boils down to is this — football just matters here. 

We love the Steelers because they represent something tough and enduring and, despite some necessary strife and struggle, successful (attributes modest Pittsburghers may secretly identify with).

While the 2011 Steelers love to pass the ball (utilizing their impressive corps of talented young receivers) the franchise is traditionally associated with a tough up-the-gut running  game and crushing defense. The hard-hitting defense has been a mainstay since the vaunted “Steel Curtain” defense of the 70s, but recent rule changes have begun to shift the way the game is being played and, therefore, the way the Steelers are allowed to play. Hits and tackles once considered textbook are now drawing penalty flags, while the players responsible are fined and sometimes even suspended.

Just today, Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker and “repeat offender” James Harrison (the man responsible for THIS PLAY) was suspended for one game without pay after a helmet-to-helmet hit left scrambling Cleveland QB Colt McCoy with a concussion. (See the play at NFL.com HERE.) This is Harrison’s fifth illegal hit on a quarterback in the last three seasons.

To better understand this ruling we have to look at the 2010 NFL season when the league decided to crack down on tackles they considered to be dangerous. Take a look at an excerpt from this Associated Press story from last season:

Not only is the league worried about defenders turning themselves into human missiles, but also with them aiming for the head with the forearm, shoulder or any other body part.

”We’re certainly concerned,” said Anderson, a member of the league’s competition committee and one of its loudest voices on the need for enhanced player safety. ”The fundamentally old way of wrapping up and tackling seems to have faded away. A lot of the increase is from hits to blow guys up. That has become a more popular way of doing it.

”Yes, we are concerned they are getting away from the fundamentals of tackling, and maybe it has been coached that way. We’re going to have to look into talking to our coaches.” (AP, 2010)

The league not only talked to coaches, but also modified its rules (read the NFL – Rulebook here) in an attempt to cut down on these dangerous hits. The NFL Rulebook reads more like a phone book, but here’s the specifics of the roughing the passer penalty that James Harrison was flagged for last Thursday (and a bunch of other Sundays in recent memory):

Second-and-3 on A35. Quarterback A1 rolls out of the pocket, and while moving, throws a pass to A2
who is downed at the A40. Just after A1 released the ball, B1 tackles the quarterback making helmet-to-helmet
contact in the process.
Ruling: A’s ball, first-and 10 on B45. Roughing the passer because of the helmet-to-helmet hit. (12-2-12-3)

We can probably all agree that helmet-to-helmet hits are dangerous, but what if they’re unintentional? In that case, who’s to say whether a helmet-to-helmet hit was intentional or not? It’s a slippery slope, which is probably why the league has begun to penalize all helmet-to-helmet hits regardless of intention.

It’s confusing and frustrating, but you could make a strong argument that these rule changes are a step in the right direction. Believe me, I know it’s frustrating that the Steelers won’t be dressing #92 against the Forty-Niners on Monday Night Football next week, but at least they’re being proactive about preventing injuries (even if they’re spouting off mixed messages to their fan base about big hits).

For years the NFL turned a blind eye to player injuries resulting from repeated head trauma. That is until 2002 when Dr. Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist and neuropathologist here in Pittsburgh, discovered a new disease — Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). That year, Dr. Omalu found CTE in the brains of Mike Webster, Terry Long, Andre Waters, Justin Strzelczyk and Tom McHale.

What is CTE? It’s a degenerative brain disease found in those who have suffered repeated head trauma. People with CTE may show symptoms of dementia such as memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression. What’s worse is that these symptoms may appear within months of the trauma or not until many years later. (Read more about CTE HERE.)

The first deceased athlete examined by the CSTE researchers was John Grimsley, former Linebacker for the Houston Oilers and Miami Dolphins, who died in February 2008 at the age of 43 from an accidental gun shot wound. Examination of Mr. Grimsley’s brain confirmed extensive CTE. In both sets of photographs, below, the brain tissue has been immunostained for tau protein, which appears as a dark brown color. (2011, CSTE)

And CTE doesn’t just affect football players–the disease is prevalent in hockey and professional wrestling, too. In May of this year, New York Rangers brawler Derek Boogaard died of an accidental overdose. When doctors performed the autopsy they found his brain was riddled with the disease.

How do you solve this problem? In football, some have suggested removing face masks, having lineman begin each play standing (rather than in the 3-point stance that results in repeated blows to the head), or even getting rid of helmets all-together (so players theoretically hold back on the big hits). So far, other than the new rules, nothing has changed.

So, yes, I’m upset that James Harrison won’t dress next week, but knowing what we know about CTE, maybe these rule changes are for the best.

What do you think? Take our poll and let us know.

– Corey, Digital Learning Librarian

Smoothie Snacks

I don’t know about you but I’m fending off left over Halloween candy and cookies well into November. And with a few of the biggest gastronomic events of the year still on the horizon I’m doing my best to keep it cool with the calories.  It’s not easy. I love to cook and eat, and to me this is the best time of year for both.

One of my favorite ways to get lots of vitamins without empty calories is by making a smoothie. Smoothies can include tons of different ingredients with room to adapt for all types of dietary concerns, and personal taste. My basic smoothie recipe includes fruit and yogurt, but there are tons of options. I usually freeze my fruit because that creates a thick smoothie without the ice. Depending on the fruit you use, you might decide to add a little sweetener like honey or agave nectar. Using fruit flavored yogurt could kick the sweetness up too. Try using soy based yogurt or plain soy milk if you want to go dairy free, and keep in mind that there are no rules!

If you want a more filling smoothie consider adding some oatmeal, oat bran, or flax-seed for a fiber boost.  Don’t just limit yourself to fruit either, a wide variety of vegetables would add great nutrition to your smoothie. Try any type of greens, carrots, peppers or tomatoes, or for a richer smoothie put in some peanut butter or chocolate.

It seems like I’m not the only one who likes to have a smoothie snack now and then. There are tons of books on how its done.

Or if you’re looking for a smoothie with the flavors of the season check out his one I stumbled across on the terrific cooking blog called The Pioneer Woman Cooks.

Pumpkin Smoothie Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 Ounce) Pumpkin Pie Filling
  • 3 cups Whole Milk (more If Needed
  • 1/2 cup Vanilla Yogurt (up To 1 Cup)
  • A Few Dashes Of Cinnamon
  • Cinnamon Graham Crackers, Crushed
Preparation Instructions
Well ahead of time, place pumpkin pie filling into a freezer-safe container. Freeze for a few hours or until frozen solid.
To make the smoothie, add milk, and yogurt to a blender. Drop in the frozen pumpkin pie filling and blend until the frozen filling is completely pulverized. Add more milk or yogurt as needed to get it the consistency you’d like.
Pour into individual glasses and sprinkle the tops with graham cracker crumbs. Serve immediately!
*Note: Make a lower-calorie smoothie by using unsweetened/unflavored pumpkin puree, non fat plain yogurt, and the sweetener of your choice.
*Can also sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg instead of graham cracker crumbs.

Happy Blending


Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month. To kick it off, Autism Speaks sponsored “Light it up Blue” Day on April 1st.  Autism Speaks and other non-profit groups are spending every April getting the word out.

So what exactly is autism?  It can get a little confusing, because ‘autism’ is used to refer to a number of similar conditions under the Austism Spectrum Disorder umbrella.  People affected by autism can have very mild or very austere and oppressive symptoms.  Some of the specific disorders under this umbrella include Classic Autism, Asberger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, also known as Atypical Autism.

According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in almost all cases, autism causes problems in the following areas:

  • Communication – both verbal (spoken) and non-verbal (unspoken, such as pointing, eye contact, and smiling)
  • Social – such as sharing emotions, understanding how others think and feel, and holding a conversation
  • Routines or repetitive behaviors (also called stereotyped behaviors) – such as repeating words or actions, obsessively following routines or schedules, and playing in repetitive ways.

There are no known causes for autism.  We do know that it now affects 1 in every 100 births, according to the Autism Society of America.

How can you participate in Autism Awareness month?

Continue reading

This Season, The Flu Shot Isn’t the Only Important Vaccine for Teens

In 2007, a lot of studies were released showing that the prevalence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) among young women was way more than anybody could have expected (almost half!). For those of you who don’t know, HPV is the virus that causes genital warts and puts you at a very high risk for cervical cancer.

Most sexually active teens will wind up with HPV, unless they take the extra precaution of getting an HPV vaccine. Condoms don’t protect against it completely, so even if you are all about safer sex, you should still go to your local reproductive health clinic and get yourself set up for the shot.

It’s only a few pricks, but it could easily save your life. And girls 9-18 years old can get it free through the Allegheny County Health Department.

Oakland Immunization Walk in Clinic (3441 Forbes Avenue) Hours of Operation: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wednesday, 1 to 8 p.m.

So girls, if you want to give yourself a big gift this holiday season, give yourself the gift of immunity against HPV. The earlier the better (message for parents: this immunization is recommended for kids 11-12 years old, as teens may contract HPV on their first sexual encounter), so make sure you educate yourself about the HPV vaccine and make the smart choice for your health.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main

It’s Only Skin Deep… Or Is It?

Skin Deep Database

Skin Deep Database

When you hear the word “poison” what comes to mind? Arsenic? Lead? Cyanide?

If you’re like most people, you’re not thinking “personal care product.” But maybe you should be. Did you know that the average teen girl in the United States uses somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 personal care products each day? (The average guy uses closer to 10.) Personal care products include everything that you put on your skin that isn’t a prescribed medicine. Shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, sunscreen, lip balm, shaving cream, deodorant… the list goes on and on. Someone tested these products that we use every day, right? We wouldn’t be allowed to put toxic chemicals–poisons–on our bodies, right?

Wrong, unfortunately. Not only does the FDA not require companies to test their products for safety before they are sold, it also has little authority to remove unsafe products from the market. The Cosmetics, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) makes the decisions, and they aren’t exactly objective. The consumer group Skin Deep and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that 87% of the ingredients in personal care products in the U.S. were not even tested by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, the industry’s internal safety panel. Another problem is that cosmetics and other personal care products often contain chemical contaminants that are not listed because they are present at very low levels. For example, sodium lauryl sulfate is a rather harsh cleanser that is often converted to the milder sodium laureth sulfate trhough the addition of a chemical called ethylene oxide. This process (called ethoxylation) produces small amounts of 1,4-dioxane, a chemical that causes cancer in animals and is also likely to cause cancer in humans. This is only one of the thousands of chemicals contained in the products you use each day. Take a closer look at the chemicals in your life with the Environmental Working Group, or get the report on your personal care products at the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/special/whatnottobuy/

And check out these books to learn more:

Your right to tan…

If your parents are planning on moving you to Texas anytime soon, know that your right to tan is currently under fire.  Lawmakers are trying to pass a law requiring teens to get a doctor’s permission and have their parents in the salon before getting their tan on.  Since tanning beds expose their users to a high risk for skin cancer, lawmakers are comparing it with cigarette smoking, which is illegal for those under 18 with or without a doctor’s permission.


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