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Healthy Living: Drink, Doggy, Drink!


Drink, Doggy, Drink!Summertime can be a prime time for dehydration in your outdoor pets.

You can tell when your pet is dehydrated if they become listless with a dry mouth or nose, sunken eyes and loss of appetite.

Don’t let your pets run out of steam this summer. Keep a water bowl filled at all times and keep it in the shade, if possible. Choose a plastic bowl, rather than a metal one, as it will keep the water cooler. Some pets love it when you fill their bowls with ice water because they like to chew on the ice as well.

Here are some other tips to keep your dog hydrated in the summertime:

  • Provide clean water at all times, and change it frequently to ensure freshness. Also, don’t forget to wash your pet’s water bowl every day to prevent bacteria from growing.
  • Monitor your dog’s water intake. Generally, a dog needs at least one ounce of water for each pound of body weight per day. If your dog is not drinking an adequate amount of water, seek veterinary advice. Monitoring water intake is especially important if he’s recovering from diarrhea, vomiting or other illnesses.
  • Purchase a water bowl with a weighted bottom to prevent your dog from knocking it over.
  • Bring extra water when you’re traveling or exercising with your dog.
  • If you notice your pet is drinking less than usual, check his mouth for sores or other foreign objects, such as burrs or sticks.
  • Avoid chaining a dog outside since he may get tangled up, preventing him from accessing his water bowl.
  • Keep your toilet lid closed to interrupt your dog’s efforts to turn the bowl, which can be a source of bacteria, into a water fountain.


Healthy Living: Skinny Buffalo Chicken Soup


Skinny Buffalo Chicken SoupAs winter fades into spring, it reminds me that bathing suit season is right around the corner. “Hooray,” said no one, ever.

All joking aside, it also reminds me that I should be thinking about bathing suit season all year long, but my overall health is more important than how I’ll look in a bathing suit.

This soup combines the flavors of my favorite food in a healthy form. To eliminate even more calories and fat, use boneless, skinless chicken breasts in place of the rotisserie chicken, and poach or roast then shred before use.

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Soup

Ingredients:
2 lb rotisserie chicken, cooked and shredded
3 Tbs dry ranch dressing mix
1 large head cauliflower, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 lb carrots, sliced
6 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
1 Tbs butter
1 cup Frank’s RedHot® Sauce
chopped green onions and bleu cheese crumbles, for garnish

Directions:
Boil cauliflower in stockpot with water, ranch seasoning, chicken broth and chicken stock until very tender, approximately 10 minutes.

While cauliflower is cooking, sauté carrots, celery and onions with the butter. Cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are fork-tender.

Using an immersion blender, blend the cauliflower into a puree in the stockpot. It should blend completely and form a thicker base for the soup. Add the hot sauce and stir.

Add the celery, carrots and onions to the stockpot and stir.

Stir in chicken and let cook on low heat for 20 to 30 minutes

Serve hot with green onions and bleu cheese as garnish (optional).

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 436, Calories from Fat: 188, Fat: 21 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 140 mg, Sodium: 2257 mg, Potassium: 772 mg, Carbohydrates: 19 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 9 g, Protein: 38 g

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Healthy Living: Dates


DatesA friend of mine just returned from a trip to China, and she brought back packaged, dried dates. She gave me a handful, colorfully wrapped in cellophane with mysterious Chinese characters on them. She said she ate them all through her trip for extra energy, to avoid hunger pains and for something healthy in a foreign land.

Dried dates are sold at Brookshire’s, too.

Dates are a healthy way to incorporate fiber and antioxidants into your diet.

Dates can give you relief from constipation, intestinal disorders, heart problems, anemia, sexual dysfunction, diarrhea, abdominal cancer and many other conditions.

Dates are good for gaining weight also, if you need to bulk up.

Dates are rich in several vitamins and minerals, and they contain oil, calcium, sulfur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium.

Eat them as a snack food to stay full and feel full of energy.



Healthy Living: Always Wear Sunscreen


Always Wear SunscreenDo you remember the famous words often (and erroneously) attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, but in actuality penned by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich to be used as a potential commencement speech?

The speech/column begins:

“Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.”

Well, she wasn’t kidding, folks.

Sunscreen can protect your skin from getting dull, wrinkled and leathery, and more importantly, it can help protect you from skin cancer.

I wish I’d known when I was 17 that slathering myself with baby oil wasn’t a good idea. Age and sun spots are real. Luckily, no skin cancer for me, but recently a young (as in early 20s) neighbor was diagnosed with several spots on her shoulders and back. Scary stuff.

WebMD offers these tips for using sunscreen, which you can find in all levels of protection at your local Brookshire’s store.

  1. Wear sunscreen every day in all weather and in every season. It should have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and say “broad-spectrum” on the label, which means it protects against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Put it on at least 15 minutes before going outside. Use 1 ounce, which would fill a shot glass.
  2. Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours or more often, if you’re sweating or swimming.
  3. Wear sunglasses with total UV protection.
  4. Wear wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  5. Avoid being out in the sun as much as possible from 10am to 2pm.
  6. Check your skin regularly so you know what’s normal for you, and to notice any skin changes or new growths.
  7. Choose cosmetics and contact lenses that offer UV protection. You still need to use sunscreen and wear sunglasses with broad-spectrum sun protection.
  8. If you’re a parent, protect your child’s skin and practice these habits together.
  9. Don’t use tanning beds.
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Healthy Living: Monkey Butter


Monkey ButterFirst things first: This is the Healthy Living post, so you should know right up front that this is not really butter, nor is it made out of monkeys.

Now that we have that out of the way, what we DO have is a healthy, sweet and delicious spread that’s absolutely yummy on English muffins, toast, waffles, pancakes, over ice cream or on a sandwich with peanut butter, for starters.

The pineapple brightens the bananas, and the coconut gives it a lovely sweetness.

Bananas have tons of potassium, and the pineapple has lots of vitamin C.

Enjoy!

Monkey Butter

Ingredients:
5 medium-sized perfectly ripe bananas (no brown spots)
1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, not drained
1/4 cup ground coconut (Look near the flaked coconut. If you can’t find it, grind it yourself in a spice/coffee grinder or your food processor.)
3 cups white sugar (can substitute equivalent artificial or other natural sweetener)
3 Tbs bottled lemon juice

Directions:
Peel and slice the bananas, and then put them into a large pot. Add the rest of the ingredients; put the pot on the stove to bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

After bringing to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook until thickened, still stirring constantly.

When properly thickened, spoon the mixture into sterilized glass jars and let cool. At this point in the recipe, this jam can just be refrigerated and will keep for approximately 4 to 6 weeks. The lemon juice in the recipe will keep the bananas fresh.

Or, after putting the jam in the jars, you can seal the jars with sealing lids and rings, and process in a water bath for 15 minutes. Just a note: if you process the jam in this method, it will turn out to be a little pink instead of the mellow yellow color.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 206, Calories from Fat: 11, Fat: 1 g (1 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 2 mg, Potassium: 136 mg, Carbohydrates: 51 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 46 g, Protein: 1 g

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Healthy Living: Spinach-Tomato Tortellini Soup


Spinach-Tomato Tortellini SoupI love this time of year.

The promise of spring and summer produce is tantalizing. Mouthwatering, if you will.

Even in the South, the spring and summer produce haven’t quite hit their stride yet. Luckily, we still have a bit of cool weather to enjoy before the warm-up because I’m not quite done with this healthy and delicious soup.

The tomatoes are great cancer-fighting agents, and the spinach provides potassium and iron. The rest is just delicious.

Spinach-Tomato Tortellini Soup

Ingredients:
1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (9 oz) pkg refrigerated three-cheese tortellini
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups baby spinach, chopped
2 Tbs parmesan, grated

Directions:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

Add garlic and onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Whisk in chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tortellini, basil, oregano, bay leaf and 1 cup water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tortellini is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Stir in spinach until it begins to wilt, about 2 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with parmesan cheese.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 161, Calories from Fat: 47, Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (2 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 9 mg, Sodium: 632 mg, Potassium: 303 mg, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 9 g

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Healthy Living: Kidney Health


Kidney HealthNext week (March 12) is International World Kidney Day, and healthy kidneys are important to keeping your body free of toxins and waste.

Every day, your two kidneys filter about 120 to 150 quarts of blood to produce about 1 to 2 quarts of urine, composed of wastes and extra fluid.

To keep them healthy, you have to be able to manage a healthy lifestyle and control diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

The National Kidney Disease Education Program offers these tips to kidneys healthy:

  • Keep your blood pressure at the target set by your healthcare provider. For most people, the blood pressure target is less than 140/90 mm Hg. This can delay or prevent kidney failure.
  • If you have diabetes, control your blood glucose level.
  • Keep your cholesterol levels in the target range.
  • Take medicines the way your provider tells you to take them.
  • Cut back on salt. Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day.
  • Choose foods that are healthy for your heart: fresh fruits, fresh or frozen vegetables, whole-grains and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Be more physically active.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • If you smoke, take steps to quit. Cigarette smoking can make kidney damage worse.
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Healthy Living: Healthy Mushroom Soup


Healthy Mushroom SoupI was one of those weird kids who loved spinach and mushrooms.

My boys didn’t take to either vegetable readily, and even, as old as they are now, still struggle with both. I can get them to eat raw baby spinach, but mushrooms? Forgeddaboudit!

Mushrooms are meaty, but they are super low in calories. They are dense and filling, but they have zero fat or carbohydrates.

In addition to having protein, they can help fight disease as well, with antioxidants and beneficial dietary fibers such as chitin and beta-glucans. Mushrooms contain just as high an antioxidant capacity as carrots, tomatoes, green and red peppers, pumpkins, green beans and zucchini. They also contain vitamin D.

Studies have shown that Type 1 diabetics who consume high-fiber diets have lower blood glucose levels, and Type 2 diabetics may have improved blood sugar, lipids and insulin levels. The fiber, potassium and vitamin C content in mushrooms all contribute to cardiovascular health. Potassium and sodium work together in the body to help regulate blood pressure.

Try this soup for a low-cal, low-fat, filling meal. You can swap out the butter for the equivalent amount of coconut oil, if you’d like.

Healthy Mushroom Soup

Ingredients:
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup onions, sliced
1 cup sliced leeks, halved and sliced
3/4 cup celery, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 lb assorted mushrooms, rinsed and thickly sliced
6 cups chicken stock
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Directions:
Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add carrots, onions, leeks, celery and garlic. Cook and stir until tender but not browned, approximately 10 minutes. Add thyme, mushrooms, chicken stock, salt and pepper. Heat until at a soft boil, then turn down to low heat. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat, ladle into bowls and serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 106, Calories from Fat: 45, Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 10 mg, Sodium: 1139 mg, Potassium: 654 mg, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 6 g, Protein: 6 g

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Healthy Living: No Fad Diets


No Fad DietsI overheard my 13-year-old son on the phone last week.

“If you eat nothing but fruits and vegetables for 20 days, you’ll lose 20 pounds,” someone told him.

I yanked that phone right out of his hands, and a long discussion followed about what is healthy and what is not.

Fad diets are not healthy.

Cutting out food groups is not healthy.

Losing 20 pounds in 20 days (a fifth of his body weight) is not healthy.

It made me sad that we even had to have the conversation. As someone who has struggled with weight my entire life, I didn’t want my son to be stained with the stigma of food, and fad or yo-yo diets. He’s not heavy; he’s at that awkward 13-year-old stage when his body is transforming. I don’t want him to be uncomfortable with himself.

We could be better at home about incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our meals. A meatless meal can be a great thing, but his growing body needs good protein as well. We could eat fruit for dessert instead of ice cream.

The next morning, I let him help me pack his lunch. I explained to him that lean turkey was brain food and would help him stay full in the afternoon. I talked about how whole-grain bread is a complex carbohydrate, which fuels his body and gives him energy during the day. We talked about how mustard added a lot of flavor without fat. He added fresh baby spinach and tomato slices to his sandwich. We then packed two kiwis and a small, 1-ounce bag of Takis chips because it’s okay to have a treat now and again.

When he comes home again, we’ll have a dialogue about meal planning and healthy choices.

No fad diets in this house.



Healthy Living: Sesame Ginger Quinoa Salad


Sesame Ginger Quinoa SaladMardi Gras is just around the corner, and this festive – and healthy – salad is the perfect way to celebrate. It brings in all the colors of the festivities – purples, golds and greens, and it is a healthy oasis in the sea of excess.

This hearty salad can easily be a main dish as it includes cooked quinoa for protein and fiber, while being vegan and gluten-free. At only 331 calories, each bowl offers 13 grams of protein and seven grams of fiber.

Plus, did I mention it’s pretty?

I’m a huge carnivore, so I try to get protein from alternate sources as often as I can. The quinoa is filling and adds protein, and the edamame adds protein as well. Sure, you can serve this as a side dish to a meat main course, but why would you want to?

Sesame Ginger Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups shelled frozen edamame
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup red cabbage, chopped
2 Tbs sesame oil
2 Tbs rice vinegar
3 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced
1 Tbs sesame seeds

Directions:
Place the quinoa, water and salt in a covered pot. Heat on high until it boils then lower the heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft and the water is absorbed.

Pour the quinoa into a medium-sized bowl. Mix in the frozen edamame, carrots, peppers and cabbage.

In a small bowl, make the dressing by mixing the sesame oil, rice vinegar, minced ginger and sesame seeds.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa and veggies; mix thoroughly.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 331, Calories from Fat: 122, Fat: 13.5 g, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 195 mg, Potassium: 769 mg, Carbohydrates: 40 g, Fiber: 7.2 g, Sugar: 4.5 g, Protein: 12.8 g

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