Monthly Archives: February 2015

Medical Assistant

Medical Assistant — earning a living series

You may want to review the earlier post at

We have already discussed CNA v EMT for entry level healthcare providers. There is another ‘entry level’ provider that is relatively new on the scene – new as in the last 20 years. That 3rd person is known as a ‘Medical Assistant”. A medical assistant typically has about a years worth of training in such things as office management, coding and billing, some lab and x-ray experience, phlebotomy and injections and medical records creation and maintenance. One school that I know of which trains Medical Assistants charges $30,000.00 USD per student for the year. That does not include living expenses.

Typical jobs are in doctor’s offices which would include doc in a box situations and in hospitals as a unit secretary, medical records tech, billing office and maybe the lab. There are jobs as a free standing coder / biller or as a medical transcription person.

Overall the training is good and well rounded for the intended purpose. MA is also a good job as far as it goes and it does help in your understanding of things so that you can progress up the food chain ladder if you want to.

The down side of MA school / jobs is that it takes a long time to be able to earn money going this route, a whole year [or more depending on if you go to school full time or part time] v CNA where you can start earning in as little as 3 weeks. Once again $30,000.00 is a rather high price to pay for the school.

Several friends have gone though the school and then found out that the area was over saturated with MAs and that they could not find a job in the field – one is working at a local big box store.

MA’s do not end up with a professional license in most states – they work under the MD’s license. With that situation there is no ‘governing board’ or union to ‘protect’ the public as far as their practice goes.

IF you want to go into this area that is great! I would not want to start off with it as my first exposure. I would recommend starting with CNA and then going into this, EMS or maybe nursing.

Cooking with Amaranth Grain

Cooking with Amaranth Grain

[if you have not already read go there now]

This blog is dedicated to cooking with Amaranth Grain. Let’s begin by learning a little history of this grain.

Amaranth was known to the Aztecs as huauhtli, and was used in everyday life as well as in ceremonies. It is believed that up to 80% of the Aztecs calories were obtained from this grain. In ceremonies the amaranth grains were toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses or chocolate to make a treat called alegria, meaning “joy” in Spanish. Amaranth was grown in large scale in ancient Mexico, Guatemala and Peru. This was all before the conquest.

In current day Amaranth is cultivated in small quantities in Mexico, Guatemala and Peru, but also grown in India, China, Nepal and in other tropical countries.

In 1977 in an article in the magazine Science Amaranth was described as “the crop of the future”. It can be grown inexpensively by indigenous people in rural areas for several reasons:
1. It is easy to harvest.
2. Its seeds are a good source of protein, and contain about 30% more than cereals like rice, sorghum and rye.
3. It is unusually rich in the amino acid lysine.
4. It is easy to cook.
5. It grows very rapidly and their large seed heads can weigh up to 1 kilogram and contain a half-million seeds in three species of amaranth.

Amaranth Pancakes

½ cup whole amaranth
Pinch of sea salt
¼ cup amaranth or other gluten-free flour, plus extra for dusting pancakes
1 medium carrot, grated
¼ cup chopped scallions
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro or dill
Olive or sesame oil for cooking

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


In a small saucepan, add 1 ½ cups water to the whole amaranth and salt, and stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. The amaranth will be the consistency of a thick porridge. Let it stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, stir together amaranth, flour, carrots, scallions and herbs. The batter will be very thick.

Drop batter by the tablespoonful onto a well-floured parchment or plate, and lightly coat cakes with a dusting of flour.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium flame. (I have tried both very lightly coating the pan and using more oil, and I personally prefer the low fat version. Using more oil will give a crispier but also greasier pancake.) Cook pancakes 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden. Hold on paper towels until ready to serve.

Amaranth Pilaf

3 cups water or combination chicken broth and water
1 cup amaranth
½ tsp salt
½ tsp. dried thyme leaves
2 Tbsp. softened butter
1/8 tsp. pepper

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

In a medium saucepan, combine water, amaranth, salt, and thyme. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover saucepan and cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes to steam. Stir in butter and pepper and serve.

Cinnamon Amaranth Grits

4 ½ cups water
Pinch of sea salt
¾ cup amaranth
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 small apple, cored and chopped
Agave nectar or maple syrup
Soy, rice or almond milk

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Bring water and salt to a boil.

Meanwhile, heat a dry skillet over medium-high flame. When the pan is hot, add amaranth. Cover and shake the skillet to keep the amaranth moving, so that it toasts and pops but does not burn.

When about half of the seeds have popped, add amaranth to boiling water, along with the cinnamon. Stir well. Lower heat to a simmer and cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Add apple and cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve plain or with agave and ‘milk’ of choice.

Cooking with Whole Grains

Cooking with Whole Grains

Before we start the cooking let’s look at what a grain is. A whole grain is a cereal grain that contains the bran (the outer layer), the germ which is the innermost part of the grain) and endosperm (the largest part in between). With 100% whole grains the outer bran and germ layers remain to contain the endosperm which is inside and is the starchy part of the grain. The outer layer makes it take longer to digest and the endosperm keeps you feeling fuller longer because it takes longer for the starch to turn into sugar for your body to use.

Grains can be divided up into two groups:

Whole Grains Refined Grains

natural state has been processed

purchased from bins or prepackaged prepackaged or in a product

brown to black depending on how much processing
Usually white

great source of fiber and vitamins only if vitamins have been added very small amount of
Fiber or if the bran has been added back

are dry and can be found on grocery can be prepacked in the dry food isle or in other parts
shelf or in bins of store in other products

entire grain have been processed parts of the grain removed
Such as the outer part called the bran and/or the
The germ which provides the nutrition

sometimes manufacturer will put vitamins and minerals
Back into product will be called “enriched”

rough texture finer texture

There are many different types of whole grains, some are ancient grains and others are newer. Whole grains have been grown all over the world.

Whole Grains include:

Amaranth Oat
Barley Quinoa
Brown Rice Rye
Buckwheat Sorghum
Chia Spelt aka fitches
Farro / Emmer Teff
Flaxseed Triticale
Freekah Wheat Berries
Kamut® Grain

I will have a blog on each of these along with recipes following this blog.

Always look on the ingredients list to make sure that these grains are 100% whole grains. Some whole grains have been enriched with vitamins and minerals; however, most do not need additional nutrition.

Most whole grains include:

• dietary fiber
• thiamine
• riboflavin
• niacin
• folate
• iron
• magnesium
• selenium

Whole grains have health benefits which differ depending on which grain you are eating.
Providing 100% whole grains as part of your diet can help:
• reduce your risk for heart disease
• reduce your risk for diabetes
• improve your overall digestion and reduce the chance of constipation
• provide a feeling of fullness that helps prevent overeating
• lower cholesterol in your blood stream
• vitamin Bs help the body produce energy and is important for the nervous system
• folate also helps make red blood cells
• iron helps carry the oxygen throughout the body
• magnesium and selenium help build bones and is important for a healthy immune system to fight disease
• selenium is important for a healthy immune system to fight disease

General tips on cooking with whole grains are below:
• For most grains, rinse prior to cooking to remove any debris (rolled oats are the
exception). It’s particularly important to rinse quinoa, which has a soap-like
component called saponin that can taste bitter and have a laxative effect.
To rinse, place a bowl of cold water and swish around with your fingers, refilling
the water once or twice during the process. Drain in a fine-meshed strainer.
• The instructions given for each grain are for a stovetop preparation. But you can
also use a rice pressure cooker for any whole grain instead of a pot on the burner;
just know that the cooking times and liquid ratios provided may need to be adjusted.
• To reduce cooking time for longer-cooking grains, pre-soak them for a few hours or
overnight (with the exception of quinoa, which has a batter coating that can be
absorbed if soaked; rinse quinoa briefly instead).
• Except where stirring or uncovering is suggested, don’t remove the lid while cooking
grains, as it will lengthen the steaming process.
• If you are watching your sodium intake, feel free to cook your grains in unsalted water.
Otherwise, one-fourth of a teaspoon of sea salt goes a long way (add salt when you
combine grain and water in the pot). Alternatively, try using vegetable broth as the
cooking liquid, or for a more exotic flavor, a 50/50 mixture of water and juice. You
can even add dried herbs.
• It’s generally a good idea to purchase grains in bulk, except where otherwise noted.
Some grains such as rice and oats are found at typical supermarkets, but you will
have better luck finding more obscure grains, such as teff and amaranth, at your local
natural foods store. For all grains, opt for organic varieties from the bulk bins of
health food stores whenever possible – they have higher turnover rates, which
improves the likelihood of freshness.

According to USDA My Plate recommended servings are shown in ounces or ounce equivalents, with the whole grain recommendation being ½ of the total grain amount.
2-3 year olds – 3 ounces of total grains cooked
4-8 year olds – 5 ounces of total grains cooked
9-13 year old girls – 5 ounces of total grains cooked
14-18 year old girls – 6 ounces of total grains cooked
9-13 year old boys – 6 ounces of total grains cooked
14-18 year old boys – 8 ounces of total grains cooked
19-50 year old women – 6 ounces of total grains cooked
51 + year old women – 5 ounces of total grains cooked
19-30 year old men – 8 ounces of total grains cooked
31-50 year old men – 7 ounces of total grains cooked
51 + year old men – 6 ounces of total grains cooked

What is an ounce serving? According to the USDA My Plate program an ounce of grain equals:
1 slice of white/whole wheat bread
1 small slice of French bread
½ bagel or English Muffin
1 small piece of Cornbread 2 ½ by 1 ¼
1 small biscuit
1 cup cooked rice or pasta
½ cup cooked bulgur
5 whole wheat crackers

I hope that this will help your understanding of grains. Next, I will start talking about each of the grains listed above and include recipes on using each grain.

School Safety Through Firepower

reposted with Brad’s permission — Rich

School Safety Through Firepower

By Bradley Harrington

Published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on February 13, 2015.

“Any politician who won’t trust you with the weapon of your choice clearly cannot be trusted with the power he desires over your life.” – Aaron Zelman and L. Neil Smith, “Hope,” 2009 –

Most citizens would agree that a person’s right to life doesn’t mean much without the corollary right to self-defense that must accompany it as well.

Some local school officials and parents, however, don’t seem to have much use for either, judging from the nonsense they’re spewing regarding Wyoming House Bill 114 (which would abolish nearly all of Wyoming’s current “gun-free zones,” including in the public schools).

Regarding this bill, already passed in the House and now before the Senate, LCSD1 Superintendent John Lyttle said:

“’This needs to be balanced with safety of students and staff’… One of the first priorities for the district is to provide students with a safe environment, he said.” (“Officials: Guns not welcome in school,” WTE, Feb. 10.)

Hmmm… Let’s consider some historical facts of reality – for, unfortunately enough, the inability for a good guy to quickly gain access to a firearm didn’t do much to help the 20 kids and six staff members brutally murdered in 2012 by a disgruntled, gun-firing nutcase at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Nor did that inability save the lives of the 32 people shot dead by another disgruntled, gun-firing nutcase at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute back in 2007.

[Sidebar: Sadly enough in regard to this last massacre, Mr. Lyttle’s brain-brother, Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker, praised the Virginia State Legislature’s scuttling of a bill just a year earlier that would have eliminated their “gun-free” zones: “I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus,” he said. (“Gun bill gets shot down by panel,” Roanoke Times, Jan. 30, 2006.)]

So, Mr. Lyttle: just how, exactly, do you intend on providing a “safe” environment? By going after the next disgruntled, gun-firing nutcase who might decide to show up on one of your campuses with a pair of scissors?

Just to prove that Mr. Lyttle is not the only well-meaning fool promoting his topsy-turvy concept of “safety,” however, we can also add some parents to that mix as well:

“He [Lyttle] added that some parents already have said they will move their students to schools in Colorado if the bill is approved.”

Now there’s a great idea. Down to Columbine High School, possibly, where yet another pair of disgruntled, gun-firing nutcases slaughtered 12 students and a teacher back in 1999?

Here’s a couple of questions for both Mr. Lyttle and those parents: how “safe” do you think those Columbine students, ensconced in their “gun-free zone,” felt 30 seconds before the bullets started to fly, as compared to three minutes later?

In answer to those who claim that granting teachers, staff and other adults their right to pack weapons won’t help stop these atrocities, history says you’re wrong – for that’s exactly what happened at both Virginia’s Appalachian School of Law in 2002 and Mississippi’s Pearl High School in 1997.

But, in both of those instances, it bears mentioning, the individuals who finally subdued the shooters had to first run to their vehicles to retrieve their weapons before they could act.

So, regarding those two shootings, here’s a third question, the same question I asked of the University of Wyoming’s Faculty Senate a few months back, regarding their desire to maintain a “gun-free zone” on campus:

“What would have happened in those ‘gun-free zones’ if students and/or faculty had already been armed at the time the shootings began?” (“Call it a ‘shoot-me zone,’” WTE, Oct. 10, 2014.)

So, since true safety is obviously not a concern for Mr. Lyttle, what’s he really worried about if HB 114 passes? “Some federal money is tied to the fact that a school is a gun-free zone, and there hasn’t been any guidance given on how to manage that, he said.”

And there you have it. God forbid that Mr. Lyttle might lose his “free” federal dollars, and just what is he supposed to do when his federal masters fail to provide him with the proper “guidance”?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what passes for “administration” at LCSD1. What a tragedy, both now and in the making. The LCSD1 Board should seriously consider relieving this man of his duties and find someone who truly cares about the health and welfare of the students in his charge.

As for the Wyoming Legislature: kudos to the House members who voted for passing HB 114, and may their colleagues in the Senate have the foresight, fortitude and respect for an individual’s right to defend their lives to pass it there as well.

Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming; he can be reached at