Anzio’s Brick Oven Pizza

Anzio’s Brick Oven Pizza is an outstanding restaurant located in North Grafton specializing in New York/New Haven style pizza. Anzio’s also has a full menu including entrees, salads, sandwiches, and a nice selection of draft beers and wines.

Todd Harrington opened Anzio’s in August of 2012. He put Grafton, MA on the pizza lover’s map in Worcester County and beyond. My wife gave it the slogan, “Pizza Worth Driving For!”

Todd’s long career in the restaurant industry gave him skills that can help any home cook. Check out Todd’s top 3 tips:

Anzio's Brick Oven PizzaAnzio’s is located at 135 Westboro Rd. (rte.30) in North Grafton (close to the T station and Tufts Veterinary School). They share the building with Pecorino Cheese & Wine, Holy Cow Ice Cream & Fore Season Indoor Mini Golf, and a new karate studio.

Anzio’s has dine-in and take-out options and can be reached at 508-839-4900.

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Local, Organic Produce – The Best Food On The Planet

To nutritional coaching clients and in seminars, I will say, “be more concerned with eating foods high in micro-nutrients (vitamins, minerals, water, & phytochemicals), rather than counting the calories of macro-nutrients (fat, protein, & carbohydrates).”

Dr. Joel Fuhrman calls this “nutrient density,” which is the amount of micro-nutrients per calorie. The foods with the highest “nutrient density” on the planet are local, organic vegetables and fruits. Leafy greens are the top scorers, by a huge margin. See a sample nutrient density list here.

Try to eat most of your vegetables raw. Cooked vegetables lose a great deal of nutrient value because many vitamins do not react well to extreme temperatures. Big salads, green smoothies, and fresh juicing are the best ways to get your raw, natural micro-nutrients.

Locally grown food is also more nutritious. This whitepaper from the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment, by Kathleen Frith, explains why by using these factors: the specific variety chosen, the growing methods used, ripeness when harvested, post harvest handling, storage, extent and type of processing, and distance transported.

What My Wife And I Did

We joined the Red Fire Farm CSA Share Program. Luckily, someone in the Boston area was moving away and had to give up their share for the summer and our name was next on the waiting list. For the next 7 weeks we get fresh, local, organic (the nutritional triple-threat) produce.

Check out this haul, for only $40!

photo(4)What is a CSA Share?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, you pay for your food ahead of time and then receive a weekly distribution as foods are harvested over a fixed period. It is a true win-win situation.

The farm is a business and experiences most of its expenses before the food is harvested. With the CSA Share program, farmers receive their income at the beginning of the season and can focus on growing the best food possible, rather than being worried about money later.

Red Fire Farm is not the only farm offering a CSA program, here is a great resource to find farms close to you.

Please add to the conversation. Where do you like to buy your locally grown produce?

What Game of Thrones Taught Us About Infection Prevention

As my wife and I watch the HBO series Game of Thrones, we are taught lessons every episode, for example, a Lannister always pays his debts. But, the last episode we watched gave a very important life lesson on infection prevention.

For those who don’t watch the show, here’s a quick summary (SPOILER ALERT)

A very, physically strong character, Khal Drogo, is cut deeply in his chest with a small sword, clearly not disinfected before the fight, and while the sword is against his chest he leans into it, also not recommended. After an attempt to clean the wound, by a woman who did not wash her hands, the infection killed him.

Khal CollageIt does not matter how physically strong you are, the bacteria, fungi, viruses, etc. that can colonize and attack our body doesn’t care. If we do not act quickly, with the proper procedures, and our immune system is not in tip-top condition, those little bugs can do serious harm.

What Should We Do?

  • If you are ever cut, clean and protect the wound ASAP. Our body has fewer defenses again germs entering our bloodstream directly
  • If you have been exposed to harmful germs, whether via a sword fight or a sick coworker, do everything you can to help your immune system fight off the infection

How Can We Strengthen Our Immune System?

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat immunity boosting foods
  • Try to reduce stress
  • Engage in many forms of wellness, like chiropractic care, etc.
  • Add physical fitness to your regular routine
  • If you are infected, avoid physical contact with others and sanitize your hands often

Got a question, want to add to the conversation, or have you learned any other life lessons from Game of Thrones that you wish to share…please add to the comments below.

Screenshots from HBO’s Game of Thrones

How To Find The Best Carpet Cleaner In Worcester County Or Anywhere

If you need to have your carpets cleaned professionally, you have some homework to do. You could try Yellow Book and randomly pick one or clip a coupon to try to save some money. These might work, but do you really want to roll the dice with a company that will be coming into your home?

You want a carpet cleaner who you can trust to not only do the job right, but also treat you and your home with respect. Here’s what I recommend you do to find the Best Carpet Cleaner in Worcester County.

Contact your neighbor, friend, family member, coworker, fellow church member, gym buddy, Facebook friend, etc. and find out who they have used in the past. Before you ask, “How much did they charge?” Consider asking these questions:

  • Were you pleased with the work performed?
  • Did they show up on time or call you if they were running late?
  • Were they uniformed and professional?
  • Did they communicate with you clearly before performing any services?
  • Were their equipment and tools clean and kept organized?
  • How many technicians came?
  • Did they follow themselves out the door and clean any drips left behind on any hard surfaces?
  • Did they dry vacuum before doing any wet cleaning and extraction?
  • Did they rake the cleaning product in and concentrate on the areas of greatest need?
  • Did they wipe all over-spray off of the baseboards and furniture?
  • Did they tab or Styrofoam block all furniture moved?
  • How long did it take to dry?
  • Did they follow up with you on the phone or in person 24 to 48 hours after the cleaning was done to make sure you are pleased after the carpets were dry?
  • If there were any issues or problems, were they dealt with promptly and to your satisfaction?
  • Were you charged a fair price?

I can tell you from 9 years of experience that every job is so different; it is very difficult to gauge price from asking about a previous job. Hopefully, the carpet cleaning company you choose will have their basic pricing online to get a rough estimate on the services in your home.

Once you get the details from someone you trust, you know you can hire a company with confidence and feel better about who your are welcoming into your home.

If your friends and family cannot refer you to a good company, ask the carpet cleaning company you do call to answer the above questions or to let you speak with one of their customers about their service.

Life and Death Hand Washing and Hygiene

I wish I was being dramatic for effect, but it’s the truth. In medical facilities, nursing homes, schools, fitness centers, and anywhere where people are often sick and exposed to each other for extended periods of time, good hand washing, hygiene, and surface disinfection can mean life or death.

small_5321247830In hospitals in the United States, according to the CDC, there are roughly 1.7 million hospital acquired infections (HAI) per year, of which 99,000 deaths are attributed to these infections. That means 99,000 people died with something they contracted in the hospital. These are truly needless deaths that could have been avoided by proper surface cleaning and disinfection, proper hand washing and hygiene, and proper medical equipment sanitizing and treatment.

Most HAIs are urinary tract, surgical site, bloodstream, and pneumonia infections. This equates to extra medical expenses, extra days in the hospital, extra medications, and 5.8% of the time, death.

What You Can Do To Protect Yourself And Your Loved Ones

1. Know your rights and the medical facility’s rules.

Most hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, etc. have rules for all health care workers.

  • They must wash their hands using anti-bacterial soap and water or an alcohol based handrub before and after interacting with a patient
  • They must do so where the patient can see them
  • They must do so before donning gloves and after removing gloves
  • They cannot enter the room wearing gloves

All visitors are strongly advised to do the same.

2. Speak Up

Most patients and family members are resistant to ask health care workers to wash their hands, especially doctors. Who can blame them, especially if the health care worker seems like they are in a hurry or not concerned for your well-being.

There are a few options:

  • Find a health care worker in your wing that seems helpful and caring and ask for their advice, without mentioning names, on how to best get everyone to wash their hands.
  • Where a button or name tag requesting hand washing before being touched or worked on. Some hospitals will provide you with one.

The bottom line is, would you rather the hospital worker possibly getting annoyed with you or spending a few extra days in the hospital because you said nothing.

There are some wonderful organizations working to minimize the Hospital Acquired Infection problem, like the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, headquartered in Massachusetts. Research the statistics for the HAIs in the facility you or your family member might be in to better know the risks.

Please add to the conversation or give other tips to help protect yourself when you are in any medical facility.

Photo by NIAID

Where To Shop For Food In Worcester County

Finding places to buy food in Worcester County is pretty easy, but finding places to buy healthy food is a little more challenging.

By no means is this an exhaustive list, so please add your favorite places in the comments.

Farmers’ Markets and Community Supported Agriculture Crop Shares

Try to make this your first stop. Locally grown and raised plant and animal foods are the best foods for you. They are usually harvested when ripe and only a short while before your purchase, this is when they are the highest in nutrient value. More details can be found in the article, How To Shop For Food.

Markets & Supermarkets

Wegmans (Northboro, close to the Christmas Tree Shops in Shrewsbury)

WegmansNo matter where you live in Worcester County, making the drive out to Wegmans at least once a month is worth it. Try to go mid-week in the middle of the day, weekends are crazy.

Their selection of healthy foods and staff knowledge are outstanding, that’s why they are consistently one of the top employers in the nation (number 5 by Fortune in 2013).

They have an amazing array of bulk nuts, seeds, and organic teas. Their fresh food selection is remarkable and their Wegmans brand staples (like beans and milk) are as good as, if not better then the major brands.

Normal shopping rules still apply, they have plenty of junk foods. But, like my wife told me before my first trip to Wegmans near Buffalo, NY, “You will never look at supermarkets the same way again.”

Stop and Shop

I’ve been impressed with their organic produce selection and other healthy foods options. We shop at the Stop and Shop in Grafton and they always have organic greens and fruits.

The Living Earth (Worcester)

Always a great experience at The Living Earth near the Park Ave./Chandler St. intersection in Worcester. Terrific selection of locally grown produce and locally raised meats. They also have quite a few products like shampoos, soaps, and beauty products made without chemicals.

Isador’s Organics (Oxford, with delivery service)

Isador’s is a great, local market that does quite a bit of delivery service. I recommend checking them out, meeting Justin, learning about what they do, and trying some of their prepared meals too.

Paoletti’s (Sturbridge & Charlton)

I grew up on Paoletti’s produce and continue to shop there. Organic options are available by special request, use this guide to help you decide what vegetable and fruits are best to buy organic or conventionally.

Where do you go for your healthy foods? Please comment on your experiences at any of the food stores listed too!

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, All I Can Say Is WOW

mr-clean-magic-eraser_05102010131819The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is an outstanding tool and does jobs that you would never expect it to. Such as removing hard water spots on chrome, marks on walls, trim, and doors. It can clean bathroom and kitchen fixtures, as well as furniture.

The Magic Eraser is primarily melamine foam and works with only water. The details can be found here. But, before you start using it for everything, you should know a few things:

  • Be accurate and only rub the eraser directly on top of the stain or mark you are trying to remove.
  • Always test the surface in an inconspicuous area because it will remove everything, not just the mark
  • Some surfaces may be permanently damaged like plastic and painted surfaces. Don’t use it on the front of your microwave or other plastic covered kitchen appliances.
  • Only use water. Some cleaning products will eat away at the eraser and it won’t work.
  • It will leave a residue (little bits of foam) that needs to be wiped off

They look like a sponge, but think of them like a pencil eraser. Once it gets really small and somewhat dirty, it will still work. Use it until it disappears.

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are available anywhere you can buy cleaning products.

Bar Keepers Friend, Pretty Amazing Stuff

bar-keepers-friend-2Bar Keepers Friend is one of my recommended products for The Ultimate Cleaning Kit. My mother introduced me to it in 2007 and it was definitely a “where have you been all my life” moment.

We were cleaning a restaurant with a brass foot rest. We tried a bunch of metal cleaners and my mom recommended Bar Keepers Friend. It was amazing and the foot rest looked brand new.

Bar Keepers Friend is amazing for:

  • Removing coffee and water stains from stainless steel and chrome
  • Removing many hard water deposits from toilets and sinks
  • See more

There are a few precautions and rules to follow:

  1. It’s a powder that you will mix with water and make a paste – DON’T LET IT DRY ON THE SURFACE or SIT FOR LONGER THAN A MINUTE
  2. Protect your hands, clothes, and other fabrics you don’t want ruined. Whatever towel we use when cleaning with BKF, we usually throw away after.
  3. DON’T USE ON: Gold, silver, pewter, marble, lacquered metals, or anodized aluminum

Where to Buy Bar Keepers Friend

Most stores that have cleaning supplies carry Bar Keepers Friend and it’s in a gold can. It’s often under $2 which is an unbelievable deal. I would pay $15 per can!

How To Shop For Food

How do you shop for food and where do you shop for food are questions I am asked often. There is a really long answer (and if you ever want to get into details feel free to ask), but I’ll try to keep it simple.

small__9232487861Here’s what I recommend, in priority order:

1. Farmer’s Markets, CSA Food Shares, or direct from the farm for local, organically grown produce and livestock

Local, organic produce is the healthiest, most micro-nutrient dense food on the planet and should be the bulk of our diet. It may be more expensive and harder to find, but well worth the money and effort. You do get to choose how you are going to pay for it, out of your wallet now or by your health later.

Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA makes weekly deliveries to Worcester & Boston with food that is grown organically, harvested at peak ripeness, and delivered locally for a fair price.

Locally raised, grass-fed, hormone & antibiotic free livestock is so much better for you and usually priced right. Remember the serving size for steak is the size of a deck of cards!

Steak Serving2. Local Markets and Supermarkets: “Keep to the edges”

Lots of local markets and supermarkets offer an organic produce selection, just be careful of how you choose the processed organic foods. Organic does not equal healthy.

When purchasing any processed food (which should be kept to a minimum), look at the nutritional information label. When I am label browsing I am looking for 4 things:

  1. The serving size
  2. The amount of saturated fat
  3. The amount of sugar
  4. The ingredients

The “Serving Size Con” is a travesty and loophole that many food companies exploit. The serving size for many drinks is 8 oz. and the amount of sugar in the 8 oz. can be pretty scary. An 8 oz. serving size means a 20 oz. bottle of soda or juice should last about 3 meals. When was the last time that happened?!?

Saturated fat is not your enemy (ask anyone on the Paleo Diet), but when dealing with fat in processed foods, the benefits of saturated fat go out the window. Keep it to below 1g per serving

Sugar in processed foods is your enemy. Keep it below 5g per serving.

The ingredients list is just as important as the label. Many people say, “if it contains more than 4 ingredients, it’s not food!” Try to avoid foods with lots of ingredients that sound like they came out of a lab and not the ground.

When you are heading to checkout look at your shopping cart and ask:

Is it mostly fresh produce or boxes and plastic containers?

Other Considerations

Be cautious of foods that with remain edible after a week. Chances are the nutrient value is low and whatever is inside that is keeping that food from spoiling is going to be pretty bad for you.

Ask lots of questions. The more informed the staff is usually means better options for healthy, quality foods.

Avoid most foods with coupons or discounts. Rarely are truly healthy foods discounted, unless the are getting too ripe. Don’t let a “good deal” alter your shopping, unless it’s on toilet paper.

Photos by Robert Couse-Baker, japes18, and Nic McPhee

D.T. Automotive

Paul Marengo Jr., owner of D.T. Automotive, gives us his top tips for achieving the best fuel economy possible:

Tip 1: Make sure you are on time for oil and air filter changes
Tip 2: Keep you tires at optimal pressure
Tip 3: Use branded, mid-grade fuel

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D.T. Automotive moved from the site of 13 years in Worcester to Rte. 20 in Auburn (525 Washington Street). That is the old Lundgren Honda location (Lundgren now sells value cars, under $10,000 in the same building as D.T. Automotive).

Paul and his crew are working to change the auto repair experience for their customers in several awesome ways.

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  1. A drive up garage. Drive right in and avoid bad weather
  2. Big, comfortable waiting area with free, secure wi-fi and beverages
  3. Friendly customer service (for real, they are happy to see you)
  4. Loaner cars and easy car rentals when needed

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You can reach Paul and the D.T. Automotive team at 508-832-5033