Monthly archives of “July 2015

10 best sunscreens for kids
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How to protect your kids from sunburns the right way

We’re still in the midst of the summer sun.  By now the kids, and yourself, might have a slight “kissed from the sun” glow to your skin.  But it’s never too late to stay vigilant against the damaging UV rays that cause sunburn, premature aging or skin cancer.

With so many products on the market it may be hard to make an informed decision while the kids are waiting in the car (air conditioner running) and the cooler is packed with healthy snacks.  Everyone just wants to get to the river (lake or ocean).  You hear in your head “c’mon, let’s just go, I won’t burn, I promise.”  But you’re too smart for that.

Here is a list of the top 10 sunscreens to protect your kids.  Remember to read the directions and re-apply as often as instructed.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  AnnCN



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5 tips to eat more fruits and veggies

Did you know that produce is good for you? WHAT. Stop. Cue the sarcasm. Everyone knows fruits and veggies are great…but why aren’t we eating them?

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention did a study and learned that less than 15% of adults in the U.S. eat their recommended servings of fruits. Less than 9% got their veggies!!! In fact, in Oregon they found adults ate a veggie less than 2 times per day (on average).

Let’s start with what’s recommended.

1) Fruits- if you engage in 30 minutes or less of moderate activity each day, plan on eating between 1.5-2 cups of fruit each day.

2) Veggies – if you engage in 30 minutes or less of moderate activity each day, plan on eating between 2-3 cups of vegetables each day.

Typically folks like fruits better than veggies. And some hate certain veggies with an all-consuming fire. However, there’s a lot of good recipes out there – why not give some of these tips a try?

Tip #1 – roast veggies on your grill

Veggies are surprisingly delicious when drizzled with a little olive oil and grilled. It’s minimal work, and tasty results! This is a great option for summer.

Tip #2 – smoothies

Green smoothies – so hot right now. Sounds funky…looks weird… but tasty! When you make a “green smoothie” the fruit dominates the taste, so you get the benefit of spinach or other nutrient dense veggies, with the taste of berries instead! Sample recipes found here.

Tip #3 – be sneaky

Chances are you have picky eaters in your home – maybe it’s you! Sneak in some grated zucchini and carrots into your turkey burgers or meatballs. Add chopped mushrooms, onions, squash and peppers to a pasta sauce or stew. Be creative!

Tip #4 – enjoy a salad

Not all salads are created equal – and they certainly don’t have to be boring! If you enjoy Mexican food – try combining spinach/lettuce + bell peppers + tomatoes + salsa & a protein of your choice. Maybe add in some avocado for some healthy fats too!

Tip # 5 – breakfast goodness

If you like savory foods in the morning – sneak some veggies into your egg or tofu scrambles! Peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions go great in scrambles.

If you prefer sweets in the morning – add some berries to nonfat plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Try an overnights oats recipe that has added benefits of yummy fruits found here.

There’s lots of fresh options right now with all the local farmer’s markets. If you can’t break away from the desk during the work week…guess what?! You’re not off the hook. Portland has wonderful organizations including A Couple of Fruits that deliver a wonderful selection of produce right to you!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Christer Barregren

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6 tactics for dealing with stress

Everyone knows stress is bad for them. It’s nothing new. But how to deal with it? What triggers it? Goodness. Even thinking about stress levels and stress triggers can be stressful…

Common symptoms of stress can include:

- jaw pain (from clenching jaw or grinding teeth – ouch!)

- headaches

- difficulty sleeping or weird dreams

- acne

- tummy troubles

Enough about the symptoms… what about the solutions?!

1) Take action

Without being proactive, your body will always be on high alert. Taking action to deal with stress will allow your body to “stand down” and relax. Acknowledge stress is inevitable, but be prepared to tackle it head on.

2) Identify the causes

Sometimes it’s easy to identify the cause of stress. A difficult relationship, challenges at work, finances. But sometimes daily stress can add up (i.e. commuting or arranging childcare).

3) Talk it out

You don’t have to figure it out on your own. Get help from your support network – maybe friends or family members. Give your primary care provider (PCP) a call and see if they have any suggestions.

4) Exercise!

Shocker. Exercise is good for your health – duh. It’s a great stress-reliever too. The activity helps you ditch daily tensions and increases your focus. Not only does it help relieve tension – but it is scientifically proven to boost your mood.

5) Be kind to yourself

Positive self-talk is a great way to handle stress. It’s amazing how much negative self-talk can impact your stress levels – and how easy it is to beat yourself up! It may seem awkward, but practice positive self-talk. Try phrases like these:

- I’ve got this

- I can get help if I need it

- We can work it out

- I can deal with this

6) Daily relaxation

No. Not binge watching a Netflix season. True relaxation. The goal of daily relaxation is to calm tension in your mind and body. Examples are yoga, tai chi, writing in a journal, or meditation. Watching 8 episodes of House of Cards will not do this.

Learn more about daily relaxation like meditation and yoga here.

Sometimes it’s more than stress. If you think you have anxiety talk to your doctor, they are here to help you feel your absolute best.

For more information:

Controlling stress: American Heart Association 

Coping with stress: American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Amy McTigue



Pacific Northwest Hiking
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No-nonsense tips for safe hiking

There’s still so much of summer left.  Have you ventured out to a hiking trail in the beautiful Pacific Northwest?  Whether you’re a novice or seasoned hiker there are many simple steps to keep yourself safe and enjoy your hike.

Follow the Hiker Responsibility Code.

Be prepared:

1. With knowledge and gear.  Become self-reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.

2. To leave your plans.  Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you will return and your emergency plans.

3. To stay together.  When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group.  Pace your hike to the slowest person.

4. To turn back.  Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike.  The mountains will be there another day.

5. For emergencies.  Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening.  Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.

6. To share the hike code with other. 

REI, the leader in outdoor equipment, also has a great list of 10 day hiking essentials to make your day fun and safe.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Loren Kerns

How to avoid your enemy and know if you've been bitten.
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Quick guide to spider bites

Spiders seem to be more plentiful after a mild winter.  Along with spiders comes the increase of spider bites.  Luckily not all spiders are poisonous, but if you’ve ever been bitten by a venomous spider you should know how to treat the bite.

The Pacific Northwest can claim several varieties of spiders that carry a bite to be medically important.  To know the difference between venomous, dangerous, and low-risk non aggressive spiders, refer to the USA spider identification chart.  In the unlikely event you’ve experienced a bite, know when to seek professional medical care vs simple home care of the bite site.

Remember, prevention is the first defense in avoiding a nasty spider bite.

Per the Mayo Clinic, here is how to prevent spider bites :

  • Wear a long-sleeve shirt, hat, gloves and boots when handling stored boxes or firewood, and when cleaning out sheds, garages, basements, attics and crawl spaces.
  • Inspect and shake out gardening gloves, boots and clothing that have been unused for a while.
  • Use insect repellents, such as DEET or Picaridin, on clothing and footwear.
  • Keep insects and spiders out of the house by installing tight-fitting screens on windows and doors, and caulking or sealing cracks or crevices where spiders can come in.
  • Discard old boxes, clothing and other unwanted items from storage areas.
  • Store items you want to keep off of the floor and away from walls.
  • Remove piles of rocks or lumber from the area around your house.
  • Avoid storing firewood against the house.
  • Vacuum spiders and spider webs and dispose of them in a sealed bag outside to prevent re-entry into the house.


caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Ray Bouknight
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Sunglasses: Look cool and be safe

Are your sunglasses a fashion statement? Whether they are or not, wear them to protect your eyes from the sun. The sun’s UV rays can hurt your eyes any time of year, even on overcast days. The damage adds up over your lifetime, and it can lead to vision problems like cataracts.

Before you buy sunglasses, here are some things to consider:

  • Choose sunglasses that block 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays
  • Green, brown or gray lenses are best
  • Bigger is better
  • Wraparound styles can block rays that sneak in from the side
  • Wearing a hat with your shades gives you even more protection

Make your sunglasses a daily habit. Even kids who spend much time outdoors should protect their eyes from UV rays.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Mike Mozart

Watch your sun exposure
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Bad sunburn art could increase melanoma risk

Crazy trends are just that…..CRAZY!  And this one ranks right up there as one of the worst.  Instead of the previous summer quest for no tan lines some people are going in the opposite direction and are deliberately using their skin and the sun to create temporary art on their skin.    What?  Since when is melanoma art?  The American Cancer Society website has great information on skin cancer causes and prevention.   The biggest culprit is prolonged exposure to UV (ultra violet) rays.

There are other ways to have temporary art on your skin that aren’t cancer causing or permanent (tattoos).  How about Henna ink?  Seems like a safer choice. 

Let’s hope this trend fades like a tan  before you have to see the Oncologist

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Alan Light

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6 tips to beat the heat!

Ok. Portland isn’t supposed to be this hot. Ever. What’s the deal?! The sun is much appreciated – but how to stay cool in this insane heat if you don’t have air conditioning at home? Never fear! As always, the internet has the answers!

Tip #1: Freeze those sheets

This trick probably won’t keep you cool all night…but it will help you fall asleep, which seems like it’s half the battle! Put your sheets in a sealed plastic bag, being careful that it’s sealed tight so no moisture sneaks in. Pop the bag in the freezer for a few minutes – and snag them when it’s ready for bed.

This trick isn’t ideal, since your body heat will warm them back up. But hey – it’s something!

Tip #2: Cooling packs

These are more long-lasting than freezing sheets, and inexpensive which is another plus! Make your own cooling packs to put in your pillow cases at night. Pinterest for the win!

For each pack you need:

1 cup rubbing alcohol

2 cups water

2 freezer plastic bags

Put the rubbing alcohol and water in one freezer bag. Squeeze out all of the air you can, and then double bag it. Pop each pack in the freezer for 6+ hours. The rubbing alcohol will prevent the packs from freezing completely (making them squishy gel-like). Unlike Tip #1 above, these gel packs last for hours and are a welcome relief in the heat!

Tip #3: Close windows & blinds

This may seem like a no-brainer….but during the day close all your windows and draw the blinds. Keeping the sun out will help lower the temperature inside.

Tip #4: DIY A/C

If you’re feeling ambitious- try making your own air conditioner.

TIP #5: Swamp Cooler Method

Don’t worry. It’s classier than it sounds. Well…maybe not classy. But hey, it gets the job done. Cue Larry the Cable Guy…Get ‘er done!

What you need:

Large ice block from store

Turkey roasting pan


Place the large block of ice in the pan, with a fan blowing behind it. The fan will blow over the ice and cool down the room. Plus side – if you have animals, they will soon have tasty ice cool water to drink from a massive water dish!

Tip #6: Avoid large electronics

Using your oven, dryer, dishwasher, and other electronics can heat your home up. Avoid using them to keep the inside cool!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Dorian Wallender