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Healthy Living: June is National Dairy Month


June is National Dairy MonthThe slogan “Milk, It Does A Body Good” has been around for a long time for a good reason: Dairy does your body good!

Not just milk but yogurt, cheeses and other dairy products are also essential for strong bones, great teeth and good gut health.

Dairy products provide you with calcium, which (when consumed in a dairy product) is easily processed by the body. Dairy projects also provide you with vitamin D and protein, both essential for strong bones and muscles.

Cultured dairy products, like yogurt, infuse your system with probiotics that are essential for good gut health.

Dairy products are also a good source of potassium, vitamin D and iron.

Simply put, dairy is good for every part of your body!



Healthy Living: Kids’ Summer Breakfasts


Kids’ Summer BreakfastsSummers can be tough.

I still have to go to work, but my kids don’t have to go to school.

They’ve hit the age where they’re old enough not to need summer day camp, so they stay home during the day. They spend their hours running or biking (being certain to text me before they leave and as soon as they get home), working through the job list I leave every morning, playing outside with the kids down the street, and probably playing too many video games, truth be told.

I can’t always control what they do during the day, but I can make sure they have a good breakfast to start the day.

They are often still asleep when I leave, so I make sure to stock up on things they can prepare themselves that will give them energy and nutrition to have a great summer.

Some of those things include whole grain Bagel Thins with peanut butter, Greek yogurt with diced fruit and granola, homemade breakfast burritos (if you wrap them in foil, they stay warm for a pretty long time), homemade sausage rolls (same foil trick applies) and all kinds of fruit bars.

These are their favorite.

Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients:
For the strawberry bars:
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbs sugar, divided
10 oz fresh strawberries, chopped

For the glaze: (optional)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbs milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper so that it hangs over the sides.

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, ginger and salt. Swirl in the melted butter, and stir until it forms crumbs and the dry ingredients are moistened. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture. Press the rest into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.

Spread about 1/2 the strawberries over the crust. Sprinkle with the cornstarch, lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Top with remaining berries and the remaining sugar. Spread the topping crumbs over the strawberries. It’s fine to have fruit showing through.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the fruit bubbles and topping is golden. Cool completely.

For the topping, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk; whisk until smooth. Add more milk if you want the glaze to have a thinner consistency. Drizzle bars with glaze. Slice and serve.

Makes 16

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 115, Calories from Fat: 43, Fat: 5 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 12 mg, Sodium: 68 mg, Carbohydrates: 17 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 8 g, Protein: 2 g.

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Healthy Living: Sunscreen


SunscreenIf you’ve ever read the famous newspaper column or heard the song, for that matter, you know that if you learn one thing in life, it’s to always wear sunscreen.

Sunscreen protects your skin from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, thus greatly reducing your chances of skin cancer.

When should you wear sunscreen?

That’s easy: at all times.

Really? Even during the winter months or on cloudy days?

You betcha.

Your skin can still be damaged on a winter or dreary day. Trust me; I’ve gotten sunburned in February.

Look for a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of 15 or higher. The number means the amount of time you should be protected from the sun versus not wearing any at all. For instance, if you apply an SPF 30, you should be protected 30 times longer than you would be without sunscreen, in theory.

In reality, sunscreen itself can only work up to a certain amount. If you’re going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time, consider putting on long-sleeves, and covering your legs and your head with a hat, which will protect your face. Don’t forget your ears. Spray them liberally with sunscreen to prevent them from burning.

If you’re on the beach, outside at a festival or sporting event, or doing other outdoor activities, you’ll want to reapply about two ounces of sunscreen every 90 minutes, more if you’re swimming or sweating heavily.

Apply sunscreen about 15 minutes before going outside. Don’t forget your lips! Buy a lip balm with a high SPF rating and reapply frequently. If you’re outside, store sunscreen in a cooler bag to keep it from melting and making a mess during frequent use.

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Healthy Living: 100-Mile Challenge


100-Mile ChallengeSummer vacation is almost here for area students, and you know what that means: sleeping late, no school lunches to fix and a lot of lazy days sitting around not doing much of anything aside from playing video games.

At least, that’s how it tends to go in our house.

My sons are old enough that they’ve aged out of summer day camps and activities like that, but they’re not old enough for summer jobs. Two summers ago, they devised their own plan that would keep them active, give them something to do each day, and give them a goal to work toward. They called it the “100-Mile Challenge.”

The point was to travel 100 miles by the end of summer vacation, either by walking, running, jogging or riding their bikes. We clocked off a 2.1-mile loop in our neighborhood, one I felt safe enough letting them do without me. It didn’t involve any main roads and stuck to the neighborhood. While it still made me a little nervous, (because let’s face it, in this day and age you can’t be too careful) the benefits seemed to outweigh the risks.

Most days, I’d say at least five a week, they’d embark on their 2.1-mile jaunt. If they were riding their bikes, they’d generally do the “loop” twice for 4.2 miles. Keeping this pace, they were each able to hit 100 miles the week before school started again.

They loved the competition (truth be told, my younger son finished his 100 miles before his older brother). They also stayed in shape and had some fun. They quickly learned that in the heat of the summer, they’d better pry themselves out of bed at a reasonable hour before it got too hot to run. My older son realized that he needed to stay in shape all year, not just the summer, to keep up with his brother who plays soccer 11 months out of the year. They both learned that cross-training, combining the bike with running, was the smart way to use different muscles and combat fatigue.

Plus, they just had fun.

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Healthy Living: Steel-Cut Oats


Steel-Cut OatsSteel-cut oats are like regular oatmeal but cut with steel.

Also, not really.

Okay, so they might be cut with steel, but that’s not why they’re called “steel-cut” oats.

Steel-cut oats are actually whole oat groats that have been cut into two or three pieces. What’s a “groat,” you ask? The whole hull of an oat. So, steel-cut oats differ from rolled or old-fashioned oats simply in that they are not pressed into a round shape.

In a side-by-side comparison of steel-cut oats to rolled oats, steel-cut oats have 20 fewer calories per 1/4 cup, but they are completely equal in protein and carbohydrates. Steel-cut oats have no sugar, compared to 1 gram for rolled oats. They have identical amounts of fat, calcium and iron.

The point of steel-cut oats, really, is that they are less-processed. However, to get the health benefits, be sure to buy them without all the sugary mix-ins like flavorings and sweeteners.

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Healthy Living: Living with Celiac Disease


Living with Celiac DiseaseCeliac Disease is an autoimmune and digestive disorder that results in damage to the lining of the small intestine when foods with gluten are consumed. Gluten is a protein found in some grains. Foods containing gluten include anything made with wheat or flour. That’s a lot of the foods in a typical American diet.

The inability to process gluten can lead to the body having a hard time absorbing nutrients like fat, iron, calcium and folate.

Celiac Disease, and other autoimmune disorders, occur when the body’s normal processes turn on itself. Gluten should be absorbed by the body, but in cases of Celiac Disease, the body attacks the gluten and cannot digest it.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease include significant digestive problems, a severe skin rash, musculoskeletal problems like joint disorders, seizures, growth disorders in children and a tingling sensation in the legs caused by low calcium.

Celiac Disease can lead to osteoporosis, miscarriage or infertility, birth defects, seizures and, rarely, cancer of the intestine. Your doctor can diagnose Celiac Disease with a simple blood test, looking for the presence of antibodies.

Removing gluten from your diet usually eliminates the symptoms of Celiac Disease fairly rapidly, but you have to stay on a gluten-free diet the rest of your life. Doctors may recommend infusions of vital nutrients as well.

These days, there are a lot of gluten-free options in Brookshire’s and in restaurants. There are flours and baking mixes made out of potato, rice, corn or soy instead of wheat. Fruits and vegetables are always fine, as are most unprocessed foods. With all the options available on grocery store aisles, you’d almost never know you were eating gluten-free.

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Healthy Living: Fruit Salsa


Fruit SalsaOne of my very favorite things to bring to a summer cookout is fruit salsa.

It’s bright, it’s beautiful, and it’s so good for you. You can get an entire day’s serving of fruit in a few scoops of this delicious concoction.

Also, because it doesn’t have anything that can spoil, it’s great for an outside picnic or cookout.

We like to mix up the varieties of fruits we use, but we also use raspberry preserves to bind it all together. They’re our favorite. You can find the sugar-free variety at Brookshire’s to make it healthier, too.

We serve this with toasted cinnamon pitas, but you can also eat it on top of grilled meats or simply as a side salad with a spoon.

Fruit Salsa

Ingredients:
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
1 lemon
1 cup kiwi, diced
1 cup watermelon, diced
1 lb strawberries, stems and leaves removed then sliced
1/2 lb raspberries
1/2 lb blueberries
6 Tbs raspberry preserves

Directions:
Slice, dice and half all fruit; toss gently in a large bowl to mix.

Place lemon in microwave, and cook on high for 20 seconds. Roll lemon on the countertop, pressing with the heel of your hand. Slice down the middle horizontally; squeeze over the fruit. Add preserves, and stir gently to coat. Refrigerate for several hours.

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 134, Calories from Fat: 6, Fat: 1 g, Sodium: 7 mg, Potassium: 302 mg, Carbohydrates: 33 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 22 g, Protein: 2 g.

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Healthy Living: Trending Turmeric


Trending TurmericLately, I’ve been noticing a lot of buzz about turmeric.

A golden-yellow spice, turmeric has a peppery, slightly hot flavor, and is used in a lot of curries.

For centuries, turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory by both Chinese and Indian cultures. It’s also been used as a condiment and a fabric dye. Turmeric is a great source of iron and manganese. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber and potassium.

In ancient medicine and throughout the years, turmeric has been used to treat disorders, including excessive flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, toothaches, bruises, chest pain and colic. In numerous studies, the potent ingredient in turmeric, which is curcumin, has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects similar to hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone, as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents such as Motrin, without the toxic effects of the chemicals in manufactured medicines.

Turmeric can be used to help with inflammatory bowel disease. It can provide relief from those suffering with rheumatoid arthritis, and it can be used in cancer prevention because of its ability to neutralize free radicals. Turmeric can help detoxify the liver and lower cholesterol. It can also help protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

To increase your turmeric intake, add it to your deviled eggs, egg salad or scrambled eggs. Use it in a curry sauce, doubling the amount called for. Sauté with onions for use on top of a burger or in other dishes. Sauté with cauliflower for a great side dish or add to salad dressings.



Healthy Living: Drink More Water


Drink More WaterYou drank enough water today.

April Fools!

The fact of the matter is that most Americans do not drink enough water.

Doctors’ guidelines tell us that we should drink half our body weight in ounces daily.

So, if you weigh 100 pounds, you should drink 50 ounces of water daily.

Staying hydrated helps your organs function at their optimal level. It helps cleanse waste from your body. It helps your skin stay clear and your brain stay alert. Being well-hydrated can help you sleep well and perform at your best.

I always thought it was such a pain to have to stop and use the restroom during the day. Then, I realized that your body adjusts to being well-hydrated, and it’s not so much of an issue once that happens.

I don’t love water; I have to admit that. However, I do love adding lemon and especially limes (or cucumbers, blueberries or strawberries) to my water. The light, fresh taste makes the water easier for me to drink and adds some nutrients as well.

There are sugar-free flavoring packets to add to water as well; just don’t add caffeine, which can dehydrate you.

Drinking water also helps you feel full sooner so that you’ll eat less.

There is no downside to drinking enough water. It’s becoming especially critical as the days heat up and you lose more fluids from sweat and activity.



Healthy Living: Healthy Dorm Room or Office Snacks


Healthy Dorm Room or Office Snacks My friend’s daughter came home from college over the holiday break with a few extra things: 25, to be exact, according to her.

She claims she packed on 25 pounds her first semester away at college. Between late-night pizza orders, buffet-style dining and an irregular exercise schedule, the pounds snuck up on her.

Her mom came up with some healthy snack ideas to send back with her. These would also work well in an office or even just at home:

  • Yogurt-covered raisins
  • Cucumber sandwiches (cucumber slice spread with tzatziki sauce then topped with another cucumber slice)
  • Spread a small, whole-grain tortilla with natural peanut butter. Place a banana on top; roll up and enjoy.
  • Top a whole-grain English muffin with a slice of tomato and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Toast and serve.
  • Toss Greek yogurt with blueberries. Freeze.
  • Toasted almonds
  • String cheese
  • 99% fat-free microwave popcorn
  • Fill the hollowed out part of half an avocado with tuna. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  • Celery or carrots with hummus
  • Toss chickpeas with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until they’re crispy.
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Freeze grapes for a sweet treat.
  • Hard-boiled eggs


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