American Idol isn't doing so well in the ratings. That is to say, by most shows' standards, it's doing phenomenally well, but by Idol's No. 1-all-the-time standards, it's faltering--enough that NBC's rival show The Voice is passing it in the ratings on what's starting to look like a routine basis. The show's also got another, more recent arguable stumble: Jermaine Jones was disqualified in what, depending on your level of cynicism, is either an unplanned disaster or a carefully planned conspiracy. (We're not taking either side. The irony of the show's hand-selected wild card being eliminated, and of the oft-proclaimed "gentle giant" having a violent crime record, is a little too neat, but this is also a legal minefield too risky to just play around with.)

So when MJs Big Blog reports that Lana Del Rey was listed on the audience tickets with slated performers Daughtry and Demi Lovato, it's hard not to see this as a ratings thing. It's not a ridiculous ratings thing, of course. Lana Del Rey's certainly not out of the ordinary for artist bookings, having an album out that sold much better than it could have and came out recently enough that the performance circuit is still open. (Plus, the Idol judges have already dropped her name as a favorable comparison.) And Idol's guest performances are usually pre-taped, which rules out another SNL debacle.

But the thing about that SNL debacle? Lana's appearance on Saturday Night Live tarnished her reputation, even if the publicity meant her sales weren't so tarnished. For NBC, though, it was the second-best telecast for the network's coveted 18-49 age demographic, and the No. 1 show (Kelly Clarkson/Charles Barkley) had a NFL Wild Card show to goose it. Controversial singers draw attention, and Lana certainly qualifies.

At the very least, Idol's top twelve could take plenty of notes from a Lana Del Rey performance. Career-launching notes. Notes on how to sing. Notes on how not to sing. It might be the best feedback they'll ever get on the show!

The fresh approach to dieting; PART 2 OF YOUR ORGANIC FOOD SPECIAL.(Features)

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland) January 12, 2000 | Mortensson, Charlotte FORGET the myth that going on a diet means surviving on salads and tasteless low-calorie snacks.

Choosing an organic eating plan won't just help you shed pounds - it will also bring a whole new element to your diet ... flavour.

In the second week of our organic food series, we've put together a seven- day organic eating plan to get you started on a new, healthier regime.

And, by trying the tasty meals and snacks we suggest, you could lose up to 3lbs in a week.

Old-fashioned eating plans designed to make the dieter go hungry are outdated and don't work in the long run. The 21st- century way to weight loss is to eat nutritious and tasty organic meals.

Organic food is ideal for dieting because its nutritional quality is proven to be higher than that of everyday fruit and vegetables.

This means you can eat smaller quantities than usual, and still get all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Being nutritionally- balanced and less watery, it is also more satisfying.

The plan also helps avoid one of the biggest pitfalls of conventional dieting - food cravings.

Most dieters experience energy dips as their body's blood sugar and nutrient levels drop. When this happens, they crave something sweet or fatty, such as chocolate or crisps. go to website low calorie snacks

This won't happen with the organic diet, because each day is planned to ensure a slow, steady release of energy.

This ensures that you feel motivated and refreshed right through the day.

FRESH AND TASTY The organic diet focuses on foods which are seasonal.

Michael von Straten, author of Organic Super Foods, said: "It is healthier to eat produce which is in its appropriate season and, if possible, produced in the UK.

"If it produced locally, and not imported, it doesn't lose vital nutrients during transportation." At the moment, some of the vegetables in season include cabbages, Brussels sprouts, leeks, potatoes and root vegetables such as swedes and carrots. Some farms also have onions, cauliflower, beet and kale.

As well as these vegetables, various types of lettuces, broccoli, chicory and parsley are also grown organically in Britain.

Although most of the foods in the diet are grown in the UK, some imported foods are included. Rhona Leslie, Area Manager for the shop Real Food, in Edinburgh, said: "We have to import some of our organic produce partly because certain things, such as tropical fruits, don't grow in the UK, and also because there's still a shortage of UK organic produce." STORING GOODNESS Fruit and vegetables begin to lose some of their nutrients as soon as they are harvested, so it's vital to store them correctly so they don't lose all those extra nutrients.

Ian Miller, who has been farming organically in Fife for 15 years, runs the delivery and mail order scheme, Organic Meat and Products Ltd.

He said: "The main thing is to keep produce in a cool, dark place.

"Take fruits and vegetables out of any plastic bags they've been bought in, and place them in a bag or sack - fabric is better than paper.

"If possible, store them in a dark and cool shed or larder. Leave the top of the bag open, so that air can get to them.

"If you don't have a cool storage place, use the bottom of the fridge. Hard fruits and vegetables will keep fresh a very long time if they're stored well." Green vegetables, salad-type plants, tropical fruits and soft fruits lose their goodness much more quickly, and should be eaten as soon as possible.

When cooking, chop and prepare fruit and vegetables just before use.

Michael von Straten said: "As soon as you slice into fresh vegetables, you increase the surface area exposed to oxygen which destroys the nutrients.

"If you chop up broccoli and spinach hours before cooking, you'll be lucky if there's any vitamin C left by the time you eat it." Michael advises cooking vegetables for as short a time as possible so that they are still crisp.

The juice can then be used to make soup or gravy. It is a good idea to make vegetable and fruit juices whenever possible.

THE MIND FACTOR The organic diet is so satisfying that you won't feel hungry. But, as we all know, genuine hunger isn't the only reason for eating.

Stress and boredom can make us tuck into our favourite comfort food, even when we're stuffed full.

But there are lots of ways to beat fake hunger pangs.

1. Think first. In today's society we're surrounded by food and images of it.

Whenever you have a sudden craving for food, ask yourself what triggered it. Just because a work colleague is having a packet of crisps, it doesn't mean that you really need one too. Find something else to do and see if the peckishness passes after a few minutes.

2. Replace the habit. Snacking is often an automatic response to a situation, for example, many of us automatically want to eat when we're watching TV.

Find something else to do with your hands - paint your nails or do a jigsaw puzzle to break the habit.

Be aware of other habitual eating situations. Do you automatically have a sweet when driving, or comfort yourself with a snack during tasks you don't enjoy? Try to break the habit.

3. Eat something satisfying. If you really are hungry, eat something healthy and nourishing to keep you going. Instead of crisps, which are high in fat and will leave you hungry again after an hour, choose a tasty organic roll with a bit of cheese or an organic egg. Ir you're just peckish, have a piece of fruit.

4. Take care of yourself. So much eating is because we're stressed or upset. The high nutritional levels in this diet will automatically reduce stress and depression.

To calm stress further, resolve to walk briskly for 20 minutes more than you normally would each day. As well as improving digestion, this increases seratonin levels in the brain, so we feel happier and less likely to overeat.

5. East slowly and regularly. Sit down to eat and enjoy it, taking time between each mouthful, so that the body can register when it's full and doesn't want any more. Eating slowly improves digestion, so you are less likely to put weight on. Don't skip meals, however much of a hurry you're in.

SLIM DOWN Follow these guidelines to ensure you get the optimum health benefits from the diet.

l Use organic food when possible, but don't worry if you can't. The diet is still super-healthy. If particular ingredients are not available, use something similar.

l If the meals don't fill you up, have a piece of organic bread.

l Use low-fat milk and yogurt.

l Season soups and salads with a teaspoon of olive oil or black pepper and parsley.

l Have only three alcoholic drinks this week, no fizzy drinks and only two cups of tea or coffee a day.

l Drink at least a litre of still water a day - this will aid digestion.

l Brief instructions are given for the meals, which are extremely simple. Adjust the ingredients to your own taste, and remember to eat slightly smaller quantities than you normally would. Use minimal oil for cooking.

THE DIET SNACKS: Fill up with at least two pieces of fresh fruit a day. Oranges, satsumas, apples and pears are all in season and delicious.

BREAKFASTS: Start each day with a glass of fresh organic orange or carrot juice blended 50- 50 with still mineral water. If you have your own juices, add other seasonal vegetables, such as cabbage juice. website low calorie snacks

Follow this with porridge made with organic oats and honey, organic muesli with low- fat milk, or organic toast and a little honey.


LUNCH: Leek and potato soup.

To make: Chop potatoes and leeks. Simmer in organic vegetable bouillon for 20 minutes. Liquidise.

DINNER: Salmon and herbs.

To make: Place fish in foil, top with freshly-chopped parsley, finely sliced leeks, chopped tomato and a little olive oil. Wrap into parcels and bake for about 25 minutes until flaky.

Serve with baked potato and green salad.


LUNCH: Grated carrot salad.

To make: Blend grated carrots with just a few walnuts, almonds and a few raisins.

DINNER: Organic omelette.

To make: Chop and par-boil potatoes. Saute with chopped courgettes and onions until vegetables are soft. Add whisked eggs and fry. Sprinkle with grated cheese.


LUNCH: Red lentil soup.

To make: Boil lentils for 10 minutes. Add chopped carrot, swedes, leek, potato and vegetable bouillon. Simmer for further 15 minutes until vegetables are cooked.

DINNER: Grilled chicken and salad.

To make salad: Make it a nice, healthy green one, including finely-cut broccoli and chopped raw peppers.


LUNCH: Scrambled eggs and tomatoes on toast.

DINNER: Sicilian cauliflower pasta.

To make: Chop cauliflower into large florets and boil until just tender. Boil spaghetti in a separate pan. When cooked, blend pasta and cauliflower together with a half a tablespoon of olive oil and four tablespoons of vegetable water from the boiled cauliflower.


LUNCH: Seasonal fruit and vegetable dip.

To make: Cut carrots, cauliflower, fennel, apple, and any other fresh, appealing ingredients into slices or chunks and eat with a live natural yoghurt dip.

DINNER: Grilled lamb chops, Brussels sprouts and mixed leaf salad.

To make: Sprinkle chops with freshly chopped organic garlic and a little olive oil when grilling.


LUNCH: Baked fennel potato.

To make: Drizzle a little live natural yoghurt onto a baked potato followed by plenty of raw, finely chopped fennel and apple.

DINNER: Organic risotto.

To make: Cook brown rice and grill a piece of organic chicken. Chop and saute onion, tomato, mushrooms, and carrot and simmer for five minutes. Cut chicken into pieces and mix all ingredients together.


LUNCH: Hot beetroot salad.

To make: Boil beetroot until skin is wrinkly. Do not pierce with knife as the goodness will seep into the water. Drain, peel and top with finely- chopped leeks, parsley and a little olive oil.

DINNER: Barley and vegetable hot pot.

To make: Soak pearl barley overnight. Chop onion, potato, parsnip, turnips, swede and carrot. Saute onions and carrots in olive oil for three minutes. Add remaining vegetables, barley, water, bay leaf and vegetable bouillon. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for around 25 minutes. Sprinkle with a little grated cheese before serving.

Organic Meat and Products Ltd deliver meat nationwide and can be contacted on: 01738 850498.

Michael van Straten's book. Organic Super Foods is published by Mitchell Beazley and costs pounds 9.99.

Mortensson, Charlotte