Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Graham Cracker Frozen Treats

In the mood for a sweet treat? Try this low calorie recipe! With just two ingredients and minimal preparation, this frozen treat can take the place of ice cream for only 95 calories per bar.
4 graham crackers (cinnamon or chocolate)
½ cup whipped cream

PREPARATION:Spread whipped cream between 2 sheets (2 connected crackers) graham crackers. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours. Keep in freezer until ready to eat.
Nutritional Information: Per square
95 calories
4 gm fat
14 gm carbohydrates

The Ties That Bind

Research shows that maintaining strong social bonds increases life expectancy by reducing health risks throughout a person’s life. Having a social network of supportive relationships also contributes to psychological well-being. Here's how you can benefit from these relationships:

Sense of belonging. Spending time with people helps ward off loneliness. Whether it's other new parents, dog lovers, fishing buddies or siblings, just knowing you're not alone can go a long way toward coping with stress.

Increased sense of self-worth. Having people who call you a friend reinforces the idea that you're a good person to be around.

Feeling of security. Your social network gives you access to information, advice, guidance and other types of assistance should you need them. It's comforting to know that you have people you can turn to in a time of need.

Given the pleasures and benefits of social ties, take opportunities to expand your social circle and deepen the ties you’ve already made.

Here are 4 ways to strengthen your social bonds:
  • Explore volunteer opportunities, from wielding tools to help spruce up affordable housing to mentoring a child or businessperson.
  • Embrace technology. Email, texting, and tweeting can help you connect with old friends or find new work opportunities.
  • Find like-minded people through intriguing classes and organizations.
  • Religion offers enormous support to many people around the world. If that’s true for you, join in on services that suit your faith.
Source: Harvard Health 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Vegetarian Pasta Salad

Play around with your seasonal vegetables and create a savory pasta salad! They're perfect for picnics, potlucks, or workplace lunches. It's a delicious go-to side dish that's simple to toss together!

1 pound dried spiral pasta (or cavatappi, ziti, fusilli or other salad-friendly shaped pasta)
2 cups (8 ounces) halved sugar snap peas
2 cups (1-inch pieces) asparagus
2 cups baby or roughly chopped arugula
2 cups baby or roughly chopped spinach
1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange), finely diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half, or quarters if larger
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup slivered fresh basil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, but 1 minute before the pasta is tender, add the sugar snap peas and the asparagus. Cook for 1 minute, then drain the pasta and the vegetables and rinse under cold water. Drain well.
Place the pasta, sugar snap peas and asparagus in a bowl with the arugula, spinach, peppers, tomatoes and scallions.
In a small bowl or container, combine the olive oil, mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, shallots, basil, salt and pepper. Pour this dressing over the pasta salad and toss well to combine. Add the Parmesan and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
This recipe serves 8.

424 calories
268 mg sodium
53 g carbohydrate
5 g fiber

Monday, April 16, 2018

Surviving on a Modest Income

There’s no denying the importance of the almighty dollar. We all need money to provide food, shelter, transportation, and clothing – life's basic necessities. Did you know that our well-being suffers when we don’t have enough cash to cover these essentials? While money is not necessarily the path to happiness, low income is associated with low emotional well-being according to the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). When income is not enough, it can trigger stress that can lead to depression and other negative health outcomes and may shorten your life expectancy.

If you're living on a modest budget, you can still enjoy life if you plan ahead. Here are 3 ways to make the best of your budget:

Consider using cash. Financial experts often recommend that if you are on a low monthly budget, use cash to make purchases. Avoid added charges that come with credit cards. Using cash makes it easier to keep track of how much money you are actually spending.

Live beneath your means. Eating out, going to a movie, or happy hour after work can drain your bank account. Make a commitment to cut 10, 20, or even 30 percent from your monthly spending. Be creative and have potluck dinners with friends and family or enjoy a movie night with your children. Entertainment doesn't have to break the bank!

Build an emergency fund. Cutting back on extra spending will allow you to build a saving account. Knowing you have savings lessens stress during an unexpected life occurrence. Start small. Setting aside even a few dollars a week will help build up a reserve over time.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Get More Fruits and Vegetables Into Your Diet

Dinner is typically the largest meal of the day, and it’s also your last chance to strike a healthful balance of foods for the day. If you didn’t eat many or any fruits and vegetables at lunch, now’s your chance; why not load up on fruits and vegetables to meet your produce quota? Dinner is the time to make up for any lack of nutrients earlier in the day. Plus, piling on the produce means there’s less room in your dinner for unhealthful options. Try these tips from Harvard Medical School to work more produce into dinner.

Roast vegetables along with whatever entrée is in the oven. Roasting is a great way to let the deep, rich flavors of vegetables shine through because their starches start to convert to sugar at around 375° F, releasing a deep, nutty sweetness. To roast, just bake cut-up vegetables at 375° F for 20 to 25 minutes or until they’re lightly browned. Any vegetable is a roasting candidate—from mushrooms, onions, eggplant, and zucchini to tomatoes, broccoli, and carrots—so don’t limit yourself.

Poach veggies in low-sodium chicken broth and white wine. Add garlic, basil, or tarragon for a flavor bonus. To poach, boil enough liquid to cover the vegetables. When it boils, add the vegetables. Turn down the heat to just below boiling and cook the vegetables for about five to seven minutes, until they’re brightly colored and tender-crisp.

Smuggle fresh cut vegetables into main dishes. Try adding mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, onions, or carrots into pasta sauce, casseroles, soup, stews, scrambled eggs, and chili. And pureed cooked vegetables can easily be used as sauces, soups, spreads, and toppings.

Make it your goal to have a salad with dinner most days. Stock your salad with dark green leafy lettuce and toss in petite peas, tomatoes, onions, celery, carrots, and peppers. Bonus: in addition to the nutrient bonanza you’ll get, studies show that starting meals with a low-calorie salad can help you consume fewer calories at the meal, as long as the salad is no more than 100 calories.
Choose fruit—fresh or frozen, stewed or baked—for dessert. It all counts toward your daily produce quota. Dried fruits are healthy but high in calories, so eat them sparingly.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Get Out and Move More

Get moving in April! There is no time like the present to increase your physical activity. Every April all Americans are encouraged to commit to being more active on a regular basis. Whether its yoga, cycling, aerobics, jogging or a brisk walk, you can choose how you want to participate and customize the experience for your community.

If you're starting out light with a walking routine, make sure to wear the proper gear and use common sense to prevent injury and stay safe. According to the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, the ideal walking shoe should be stable from side to side, well-cushioned, and it should enable you to walk smoothly. When the shoes are on your feet, the heel should be snug, and you should be able to wiggle your toes in the shoe.  Make sure your ankles don't roll in the shoes.

Are you ready to hit the pavement? Here are five tips keep you safe:

  1. Know your surroundings and walk in a well-lighted, safe place.
  2. If you are walking alone, don't wear headphones. They can distract you and keep you from hearing oncoming traffic. 
  3. Carry a cell phone for emergencies.
  4. Warm up your muscles before stretching them.  Walk at an easy walking pace for 5 minutes before stretching. Then stretch by starting at the top of your body and working your way down. Make sure to cool down and stretch after your walk. 
  5. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your routine. Take a water bottle with you when you walk.
Click here to view the features of an ideal walking shoe.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Lighter Side of Potatoes

Wondering how to enjoy delicious potatoes without overdoing you calorie and fat intake? Try this recipe makeover of the classic potato salad that is normally full of mayonnaise and fat-laden.
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon salt for cooking potatoes
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt plain, non-fat
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise light
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 cup celery chopped
  • 3 tablespoons pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons red onions minced
  • 2 eggs hard-cooked, peeled and cut into 1/4" cubes
Place potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add 1-tablespoon salt, reduce heat to medium, and simmer. Stir a few times until potatoes tender, about 8 minutes. Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. In a medium sized bowl whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and onion powder. Add to potatoes and gently stir to combine. Add celery, pickles, red onions and chopped eggs to potato mixture, stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour before serving.
Nutritional Information:
Calories 97
Fat 1.8 gm
Sodium 255 mg
Provided by Marcy W. Bowman, RDN, LDN, CDE Dietitian Health Coach

Eggplant Pizza!

This dish can be cut into small pieces to serve as an appetizer, or it can be a delicious light entrée. The eggplant, artichokes and tomatoes are loaded with cancer-fighting nutrients, and count toward your 5 daily servings of fruit and vegetables.
  • 1/2 package frozen bread dough, thawed
  • 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and grilled until browned
  • 8 Roma tomatoes, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts
  • 1 tablespoon black olives, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
Press bread dough onto a pizza pan or cookie sheet, forming a crust. Rub dough lightly with olive oil. Top crust with eggplant, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and olives. Sprinkle with garlic salt, basil, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes on middle rack of oven until cheese is bubbling and crust is lightly browned.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (approximate)
Total Fat7 g
*To avoid the bitter taste of eggplant, salt both sides of the slices, let stand for 30 minutes, then rinse well in cool water. Pat the slices dry and use according to recipe.

Workout Nutrition

It’s common knowledge that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. According to a Harvard Medical School study, the blood sugar we need to energize our muscles and brains is normally low when we wake up. Breakfast gives us a boost! Eating breakfast regularly has been linked to a lower risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Fueling up with a healthy, well-balanced meal before you get your day started is especially important when you exercise. The right foods can prepare your body with the energy it needs to maximize your workout! In fact, adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise and improve recovery time. According to The American College of Sports Medicine, athletes should be well hydrated before exercise and drink enough fluid during and after exercise to balance fluid losses.
It's a good idea to prepare your body at least two hours before you exercise by:
  • Hydrating with water.
  • Eating healthy carbohydrates such as whole-grain cereals (with low-fat or skim milk), whole-wheat toast, low-fat or fat-free yogurt, whole grain pasta, brown rice, fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoiding saturated fats and even a lot of healthy protein — because these types of fuels digest slower in your stomach and take away oxygen and energy-delivering blood from your muscles. 
  • If you only have 5-10 minutes before you exercise, eat a piece of fruit such as an apple or banana.
Experts say the key is to eat easily digested carbohydrates, so you don’t feel sluggish.

Make it a Family Affair - Exercise Together

Set a goal for the whole family to get active together. By enjoying physical activities together, children learn that exercise is fun and makes you feel good. Try these five tips to get everyone in on the action.
  • Plan one or two family activities a week, such as going for a walk or bike
    ride together.
  • Once a month, plan a special outing, such as walking at the zoo or local walking trail.
  • Have a family dance night to laugh, move and have fun together.
  • If it’s raining, have a hula hoop contest or play hide-and-seek.
  • Register the family for a fun local run/walk and train together.

Step Up to Better Health

Grab your walking shoes and get moving to improve your health. According to the American Heart Association, moderate physical activity, such as walking for at least 30 minutes a day, has several health benefits. Here are five reasons to get your walk on.
  1. Reduces your risk for coronary heart disease and helps
    strengthen your heart, lungs and muscles
  2. Improves your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  3. Helps you lose or maintain a healthy weight
  4. Improves your mood and energy levels
  5. Reduces your risk of non-insulin dependent (type 2)
Try this walking plan from the American Heart Association to get started!

Pesto Makeover

Traditional pesto is typically loaded with fat. This is a great alternative that removes most of the fat without sacrificing any of the flavor.
  • 1 15 oz can white beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons toasted walnuts
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place all ingredients into a food processor. While processing on high, slowly add bean liquid until you reach your desired consistency. Toss with your favorite whole wheat pasta, veggies or use as a spread.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutritional Information
Per serving (3 tablespoons)
Calories 100
Total Fat 2.5g
Sodium 181.4mg
Carbohydrates 14.4g

Dig In and Get Dirty

With warmer temperatures, it's time for planting our spring gardens. Some of the most common spring crops for home gardens include tomatoes, cucumber, squash, eggplant, peppers, okra, and sweet potatoes. In order to ensure a smooth gardening season, experts recommend having all the supplies you need prior to planting. Here are three things to keep on hand:
  1. Most cucumber and squash varieties vine, so you need trellises to keep the fruit off of the ground.
  2. Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and okra need to be staked to remain upright.
  3. If you plan to fertilize during the season, purchase that at the time you purchase seeds and/or transplants.
    You have your supplies and you're ready to get your hands dirty. When planting, remember the rule of thumb to plant the seeds two times as deep as they are wide, and always follow package instructions for spacing. This gives the plants enough room to reach their full potential, and it increases the air flow through your garden, decreasing the risk of disease.

    Healthy Happy Hour

    The social aspect of happy hour can be relaxing after a long day or at the end of a hectic week. But the calories in those spiritous cocktails can add up, leaving you with a feeling of defeat. Get a handle on happy hour and your waistline by choosing healthier habits.
    Choose your drink wisely!

    Alcoholic beverages supply calories but few nutrients and may contribute to unwanted weight gain. If you need to lose weight, looking at what and how much you are drinking may be a good place to start. Read more.
    Don’t go overboard.

    According to the American Heart Association heavy drinking is typically described as consuming 15 or more drinks per week for men and 8 or more drinks per week for women. Moderate drinking is considered up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. Read more.
    Focus on being happy!

    Reap from the pleasures of socializing with your friends and co-workers. Socialization can boost your mental health and help to relieve stress. Read more.

    Managing Medications

    Prescribed medications come in several forms and are taken in different ways. Even though they are meant to improve health, taking medicat...