All posts filed under “Fall

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Four tips to a healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here! This means it is time to bring on the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and don’t forget the pies! We have four tips that will help you stay healthy throughout your thanksgiving feast.

The first tip is to…eat breakfast! This may seem like a shocker because most people save themselves for the big thanksgiving feast but this can have negative effects on your body. You become more tired and you tend to eat more than what your body actually wants. Eating breakfast gives you more energy throughout the day and allows your stomach to have a capability of letting you know when you are full.

Our second tip is listening to yourself. You know yourself better than anyone. Listen to yourself when you think you are full. There is no shame if you do not participate in 3rd or 5th servings.

Our third tip is to savor every bite. The more you enjoy your individual bites, the slower you will eat which will allow your stomach to catch up to your mind. This can help you establish the full feeling better.

Our fourth tip is stay active. Take your family and friends on a walk before and the meal. Play a game of football in the backyard or enjoy a game of tag. Stay active throughout the day will help you digest your food better, especially the slightly heavier foods such as your mom’s favorite stuffing recipe. Not only will this help you but it will also keep the little ones active and out of the kitchen!

The most important tip though is to enjoy yourself. No one loves counting calories or worrying about dieting on a big holiday. Listening to yourself and including a few more physical activities throughout the day are the two most important tips that you can add into your holiday routine. Enjoy the day and the time you spend with your loved ones!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by kristin :: thekitchensink

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Healthy substitutions to add to your Thanksgiving meal

It is not difficult to make a tasty Thanksgiving meal while having it semi-healthy. Thanksgiving meals are often high in fats, sodium and sugars.  A few substitutions here and there can help provide a healthier alternative to a Thanksgiving meal as well as give you and your guests all your favorite food items!

Let’s start with the biggest part of the meal, the turkey. Buying a turkey breast instead of the whole bird can help cut down on calories as the breast has more white meat. However, the turkey is the center piece to the whole meal. If you want the whole bird, try sticking to the white meat or if you want the dark meat, make it half the portion you normally would have. This way cuts down on some of the sodium and calories that come from the darker parts of the meat. Keep the seasoning simple with salt and pepper and use olive oil or spray oil instead of butter.

Everyone loves stuffing! Try stuffing the bird with:

  • onions
  • lemon or apples
  • thyme, rosemary, sage and other fresh herbs

Then bake the rest of the stuffing (i.e. the bread pieces, sausage and celery) in the oven. This way the stuffing doesn’t absorb the extra fats from the turkey and you can make a slightly smaller serving.

Gravy is a must a have! But instead of using the turkey drippings, use vegetable oil. This will cut down on the saturated fats and make the gravy cholesterol free. You can also look for low-fat broth based gravy or even vegetarian gravy. All these taste great and are slightly healthier options to the original gravy.

Don’t forget the mashed potatoes. Instead of using butter or cream to add to make a creamy texture to the potatoes, save the boiled water from boiling the potatoes or add chicken brother or fat-free sour cream. These substitutions can help cut down on fats and calories and still make the mashed potatoes taste great.

Now time for arguably the best part of the whole day, dessert. Pies are a huge part of the Thanksgiving. Most of the fat and sugar in pie come from the crust. Try a reduced fat graham cracker crust or go crust free. These are delicious alternatives to our traditional and loved pies.

These are just some of the substitutions that you can use in your Thanksgiving Day meal preparation. Check here for full recipes and more ideas on how to put a creative and healthy spin on your Thanksgiving Day meal.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by David McSpadden

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Happy Healthy Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner and candy has been flying off the shelves for weeks now. However, even though candy is a huge part of Halloween these days, we have some tips on how to create a healthier Halloween for you and your family.

Planning on hosting a Halloween party? Try integrating fruits and veggies into your snack list. People can’t resist eating something that is creative and cute. Use a sharpie and draw faces on clementines’ to make yourself some little Jack o lanterns.  Take some pretzel sticks and place them into half a cheese stick. Then pull some of the cheese stick apart at the ends and now you have tiny broomsticks! Dip some strawberries in white chocolate and use tiny chocolate chips to create a face. Now you have ghosts for dessert! There are such easy and creative tricks to have some healthier snacks at your party. See some more creations that will bring a smile to both adults and kids faces here.

Trick or treaters do not just have to walk away with a bag full of candy. Nowadays there are several kids that have severe food allergies so not only will these ideas be food allergy safe but they will also be a healthy alternative to all the other candy they will be getting.

Here are some ideas of non-food items that could make a great alternative to candy on Halloween:

  • Sunglasses with animal print on them
  • Disguises/glasses
  • Bubbles
  • Glow in the dark bracelets
  • Bouncy balls
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Mini containers of play-dough
  • Fake teeth
  • Check out more ideas here

Make it a challenge to provide at least one healthy option for you trick or treaters this Halloween. Even if the kids may not love it over candy, their parents will sure thank you for it later!

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Thad Zajdowicz

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Welcome to cold and flu season!

It is that time of the year again to break out the tissues and cold and flu medicine. It is the start of cold and flu season! This year, there a few new changes as well as important reminders to keep in mind as we enter into this new season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just came out with a new 2016-2017 recommendations to not get the nasal flu vaccination, which was a very popular method of vaccinating last year.  The flu, or influenza virus, has a tendency to change its viral structure. Some people believe that once you have had the flu you become immune from contracting the flu in the future. However, even if this was somewhat true, the viral structure or strain of the flu changes so frequently it is unlikely that anyone is immune from the flu at all. Some of this year’s flu viruses have been assessed and based off the assessments, flu shots (compared to nasal vaccination) will be more accurate and a stronger source of flu prevention this season.

There has been talk in the past about individuals with egg allergies getting the flu shot, since some flu vaccines have eggs within their ingredients. This year the CDC is saying that individuals who have had mild reactions to the flu shot (i.e. hives) should get the recommended flu shot. Individuals who have more serious reactions to the shot (i.e.  angioedema, becoming dizzy/lightheaded or the need for an epinephrine) should still receive the flu shot but they should receive it in an inpatient or outpatient (i.e. hospital, clinic, local doctor’s office) medical environment. That way if serious reactions occur, medical professionals can deal with it right then and there. However, whether or not you have mild or serious allergic reactions to eggs, it is important to notify the individual who is giving you your vaccine of your egg allergy. Have an egg allergy? Read more about this change here.

Last year (2015) the flu season started later than usual and did not peak until December. This year we have already entered the flu season and it is the second week of October. It is recommended for everyone to get a flu shot, especially children and the elderly before the end of October. If you need to know where you can get one, check out this link to find a flu vaccine near you.

Besides getting a flu shot, make sure to wash your hands regularly and stay home when you are feeling sick. The common cold is one of the biggest gateways for contracting the flu. The cold may seem like no big deal but colds can suppress your immune system greatly making it easy for other viruses, such as the flu, to enter your body. If you are a supervisor at work encourage employees to stay home when they don’t feel well. Colds can last up to two weeks without proper care. This is two weeks where a cold can spread to other individuals and weaken your immune system for longer. Don’t be afraid to call out of work for the cold, everyone will thank you for it later!

Want to learn more about preventing colds and flu? Check out these links:

CDC – Common Colds

CDC – Flu

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Nuclear Regulatory Commission

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Bring the “home” to home games with your homemade snacks!

Fall is upon us, which means we have officially entered into football and tailgating season! Tailgating is a great time to catch up with friends, eat snacks and have fun before and during the game. However, just because you are in the middle of a parking lot or near the football stadium with your friends does not mean your food choices have to become unhealthy! It just means you have to become a little bit more creative. Not only does healthier snacks at a tailgate fuel your energy more but it will also make your snacks more original and “gourmet”.

Everybody loves dip during any event. The traditional Five Layer Dip is delicious but can be unhealthy especially if you buy it from the store. But if you switch out the ground beef layer in the traditional Five Layer Dip with some whole kernel corn, the dip becomes low fat and low calorie! This dip is easier to make and is just as tasty the well-loved Five Layer Dip! Want to try it? Click here for the recipe. Sour cream and onion dip is also a crowd favorite. The crowd might love you more if you offer them a fresher and healthier version of it. Mix together a yellow onion, fresh garlic, reduced-fat sour cream, plain Greek yogurt (instead of mayonnaise) and seasoning and create your favorite dip within in your kitchen! See the full recipe here.

Eating out or picking up packaged food will increase your sodium intake by almost two thirds of what your sodium intake would be if you made your food at home. Home cooked meals on average have less calories than meals that are purchased outside of the home. When you eat at home, you are more likely to eat less than you would out. This is because restaurants tend to go over the recommended portion sizes. This may appear to be the better deal,  ”more for your money”, but it’s not! Home cooked snacks and meals give you more control over your food which can allow you to create healthier versions of your favorite foods.

Want healthier tailgate snack recipes? Click here.

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Shari’s Berries

 

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Think inside the bento box for healthy lunches

What is Bento?  The official definition is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine.  A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. Containers range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquer ware.  Although bento lunches are readily available in many places throughout Japan many Japanese homemakers often spend time and energy on a carefully prepared lunch box for their spouse, child, or themselves.

Why bento?  Portion sizes can be the stumbling block for adults and children when it comes to eating healthy.  The pre-formed size of the food spaces in the bento boxes make it easy to keep the portions small and within the USDA MyPlate.gov standards.

Be careful not to stress portion sizes to kids. Just pack their lunches and let them enjoy their new bento box.

Building a bento – don’t confuse bento with a box of snacks. 

  • Protein (eggs, yogurt, low fat cheese, low sodium deli meat, chick peas, edamame, chicken, turkey,)
  • Grain (muffin, pita bread, crackers, pasta salad, quinoa, tortilla)
  • Vegetables (baby carrots or carrot sticks, cucumbers, celery, peppers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, radishes)
  • Fruit (grapes, apple, water melon, kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, raspberries, orange slices – mandarin oranges, pear slices)
  • Snack (dried fruit, pretzels, popcorn, small cookie, chocolate covered raisins, gold fish crackers, nuts, seeds, fig newtons, bunny grahams)
  • Olives, pickle

Enjoy the process and have fun thinking inside the box.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by buzzymelibee

Hiking in nature can be very beneficial both physically and mentally.
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How hiking helps the brain

Hiking kicks out negative thoughts

Rumination is defined as the tendency to continuously think about upsetting situations, causes, and consequences that might be burdening an individuals mind. Luckily, the National Academy of Sciences recently conducted a study which found that going on nature-filled hikes can significantly curb these thoughts, encouraging not only physical well being but also mental prosperity. By measuring neural activity and levels of rumination in the two different groups, researchers found that urban environments have distinct correlations with depression and negative disposition while the natural environments show to lower levels of rumination as well as neural activity in the part of the brain that is intimately linked to mental illness.

Hiking can boost brain power, and help keep you focused

Other studies contrasting urban vs. natural environments have found that not only can hiking in nature prevent negative thoughts, it can also greatly improve cognitive performance! Researchers realized that a nice long hike away from urbanization and technology can reduce mental fatigue, boost creative thinking, improve memory, and even remarkably reduce symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Along with all of these incredible benefits, it is proven that people who work out outside are much more likely to continue their routine rather than quit shortly after starting. Whether it’s for a minute or an hour, everyone should make an effort to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the tranquility of nature whenever possible. Good for the mind, body, and soul, hiking in nature is an excellent way to stay healthy and happy.

 

For the full article, click here.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Loren Kerns

 

 

Hand Washing. Sept 2009Photo by Stephanie Schupska
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How to stay flu free in 11 simple steps

Chances are you know somebody with a cold or a flu right now. Find out how you can protect yourself and others with these simple tips below.

Tips on how to stay healthy

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Don’t share personal products (lip balm, eating utensils, etc.)
  • Try not to touch your face
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Get enough sleep
  • Reduce stress
  • Avoid people who are sick
  • Avoid large crowds of people
  • Use tissues and dispose of them properly
  • Wipe down commonly used items (door knobs, computer mouse, etc.)

Even if you are feeling a bit run down it is best to keep your distance from loved ones and take time to rest. The flu is contagious up to 1 day before symptoms occur and up to 7 days after becoming sick. If you have a cold you are contagious the first 3 days you have symptoms. Also if you know somebody who is sick make sure to take the necessary precautions such as those listed above so you stay healthy and happy.

 

caption-arrow  Feature photo by UGA College of Ag & Environmental Sciences

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Cold vs the Flu

It is the middle of the week and you’re looking forward to going to the Blazer game on Saturday night. You’re feeling a little tired but maybe it’s because you didn’t sleep well. You continue your day and by lunch you notice that your throat is also a little scratchy and your nose is a little stuffy. You think you maybe it’s a cold but the flu has been sweeping through the office. So how can you tell if you are coming down with a cold or with the flu? The chart below might help you out.

Cold Symptoms

  • Runny/stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Headache
  • Lasts 7-10 days

Flu Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Tiredness
  • Dry cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Last 5-7 days

Whether you have a cold or the flu it is important to take care of yourself. Make sure to get enough rest, drink plenty of fluids, and stay home from work so that you don’t get anybody else sick. One of the best ways you can prevent getting the flu is by getting a flu shot. If you have any concerns it is best to talk with your doctor. Stay healthy and have fun this winter.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Laura Taylor

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Exercise for men’s health

Men, they bear the social burden of having to be strong both mentally and physically. Yet the highest rate of depression is in men who are 40-59 years old, and 41% of men who live in high-income countries do not exercise enough. Being aware of these conditions might not change these numbers but it can help those who are affected by them. Here are ten facts about how physical activity helps improve mental health as well as overall health.

  1. Exercise releases feel good chemicals in the brain, this can ease depression
  2. Exercise can improve sleep
  3. Exercise can increase energy and stamina
  4. Weight loss may be achieved
  5. Self-confidence may be improved
  6. Reduce your risk of chronic disease
  7. Improve learning skills
  8. Helps boost decision making skills
  9. Decreases stress
  10. Strengthens heart as well as muscles

It is suggested that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Exercise is a great way to boost mental and physical health but it is important that you check with your doctor before you being your mood improving journey. Physical activity is also a great way to get involved in the community, and build connections and support within families. If you or somebody you know is suffering from physical inactivity or mental health issues, there is no better way to show your support than by getting out there and exercising with them. How will you being your journey?

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Nick Page