All posts tagged “Healthy

thanksgiving-meal-tips
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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

pumpkins
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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

flu-shot-2
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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

football
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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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Bring your dog to work day, week or indefinitely

Who could possibly have a bad day when a dog is sitting by your desk? Recent studies have shown that bringing your dog to work has lowered stress levels of both dog owner and non-dog owner employees. Not only does the dog’s presence in the workplace cause a sense of calm but it also increases the likelihood of employees taking their breaks. Employee breaks will tend to be more active as they will need to walk their dog allowing the employee to go outside and get some fresh air. This helps employee’s stay away from less healthy habits they might indulge in on their break such as smoking, remaining sedentary or eating even if they aren’t hungry. Not only will it increase the physical activity for dog owners but it will also increase the physical activity of non-dog owners at work. Who could resist denying an animal some attention?

Having dogs in the workplace does not only benefit the employee but it also benefits the employer. Allowing dogs in the workplace has become a huge factor and incentive when deciding to interview for a job or take a job. This service attracts a younger population which consequently,  makes the company more compelling and even more competitive . Having dogs in the workplace also creates a better sense of morale and bonding between employees and upper level management. These benefits create a more comfortable and responsive work environment which will allow employees to be more productive. Thus, the employer can show that they provide a healthy and enjoyable work environment.   Replacement LTD is an example of a company who has successfully integrated having dogs in their workplace. They have allowed dogs in the workplace for over 15 years and the majority of their employees have worked for the company for over 10 years! Did you know that Moda Health’s location in Milwaukie, OR also allows dogs in their workplace?

People might be asking what about employees with allergies? Even though that is a serious factor to consider, the service can be modified. Maybe dogs can be in the workplace on certain days of the week, once a month or quarter. This could allow employees to still be able to receive the healthy benefits from this service as well as being mindful of the other health situations.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by Mike Spasoff

Summer Jog
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Exercise triggers brain cell growth and improves memory

Recent studies by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) shed new light on a link between exercise and memory. By exercising regularly, you can increase your ability to retain learned and new information. Scientists examined the muscles during exercise to determine which proteins are released. The studies revealed that a protein called cathepsin B is released during aerobic exercise. The protein travels to the brain after being released. Cathepsin B triggers new brain cell growth, scientists believe this is key in the link between memory and exercise.

Researchers discovered an increase in the protein cathepsin B when examining mice who regularly ran on exercise wheels. The mice who exercised produced greater amounts of the protein than the mice that did not exercise. Further, mice that released cathepsin B displayed better results in memory tests than the mice that did not.

Dr. Henriette van Praag, a neuroscientist at the NIA states, “Overall, the message is that a consistently healthy lifestyle pays off.” In humans, the release of cathepsin B is also triggered by exercise. This means that simply increasing physical activity can aid in an individual’s ability to perform better on complex tasks and memory retention.

To read the full article click here

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  andreviebig

 

Disaster Kit
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The Great Oregon ShakeOut

When it comes to natural disasters, sometimes it feels like there is nothing you can do. So, why worry? Even though an earthquake cannot be prevented, shakeout.org has developed ways to help protect ourselves and loved ones during an earthquake. Shakeout explains that Oregon lies between two tectonic plates in a constant state of collision. The 600 mile long fault line known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone spans from California to British Columbia.  After years of pressure and slow movement the plates will rip apart causing massive earthquakes.

In order to protect ourselves during a large earthquake, shakeout.org has organized a worldwide earthquake drill. In 2015 over 43 million people participated in the shakeout.  This year on October 20th at 10:20 a.m. another worldwide drill is set to take place. At this time, over five million U.S. participants are signed up, and the numbers are growing daily! In Oregon alone, there are nearly 25,000 individuals registered for the drill. The top three participating areas are as follows,

1)      Washington County

2)      Marion County

3)      Multnomah County

How to Participate in The Great Oregon ShakeOut

Visit shakeout.org and enroll to participate with millions of others worldwide. Then, on October 20th at 10:20am follow the four recommended steps below.

1)      Drop, Cover and Hold on: Don’t waste time, Drop to the ground. Cover yourself; find shelter under a nearby desk or table. Hold on tight for one minute.

2)      Now, take a look around, imagine what would be happening around you in an actual emergency.

3)      (optional) Practice what your next steps would be following an earthquake.

4)      When you are finished, talk with coworkers, friends or family about what you learned, and your disaster plan.

Participation will be tracked through online enrollment. Individuals, as well as businesses, schools and nonprofit organizations can all take part in this amazing opportunity.

For more information regarding The Great Oregon ShakeOut and other useful disaster information click here.

 

  Feature photo by  Global X

A mother and child fast asleep.
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The connection between sleep and sickness

Sleep leading to sickness

Recent studies have confirmed what most people kind of already knew; sleep is good for you. Too little sleep can be directly related to cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune function as well as a lot of other health issues related to a lack of sleep. In a long term sleep study, over 22,000 participants reported their sleeping patterns in parallel with their health from 2005 to 2012. This study found that getting six or less hours of sleep per day had a direct correlation with experiencing sickness of flu-like symptoms and that the more sleep people got, the less they faced these negative health outcomes.

Sleep should be on the agenda

A lack of sleep isn’t just important to bodily functions, it also sets the tone for the rest of the day and many people don’t realize how much sleep may determine their plans and activities. As mentioned earlier sleep can cause a plethora of negative health issues but even more so is the lifestyle that usually comes with not sleeping enough. Turns out, short sleepers are also more likely to have negative health behaviors like not exercising and poor nutrition which in the long run can be detrimental to health. Creating good sleeping habits can translate into other positive health behaviors because of the increased energy and productivity that accompanies being well-rested.

Sleep is serious business

An interesting point Dr. Sanjay R. Patel of the Center for Sleep and Cardiovascular Outcomes at the University of Pittsburgh makes is that “society does not stigmatize the person getting in their car and driving after only four hours of sleep the way it does the person driving after drinking, even though the risk to others on the road may be the same.” Meaning that a lack of sleep can be just as detrimental to motor function and cognitive skills as drinking, but is largely overlooked and the seriousness of the matter is rarely emphasized. He goes more in depth about just how neglected the science of sleep is by mentioning how little physicians usually discuss sleep with their patients due to the lack of training and attention given to sleep in medical school.

While sleep may still be a little bit of a mystery it is clear that adequate sleep is closely related to good health. Not getting enough sleep is not only bad for the body, but also makes it harder to create and sustain other healthy habits, so get those Z’s!

For the full article, click here.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by  Sima Dimitric

 

Sprinkler
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Fun in the sun

Windows down and music up, there is nothing like cruising around on a sunny day. Unfortunately, there is also nothing like the feeling of the summers first sunburn. As the sun starts to shine through don’t forget to take proper care of your skin. A sunburn is more than just a change in skin color. When viewed under a microscope, visible damage to the cells and blood vessels can be seen.  This is true whether the burn turns in to a tan or you peel.

Today, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Constant sun exposure without proper protection greatly increases your chances of developing skin cancer over time.

What benefits does the sun have?

Exposure to sunlight increases the body’s vitamin D production. This is important because vitamin D is not found naturally in most foods.  However, as food production methods have changed, vitamin D found in the foods you eat has increased. Many foods are now fortified with enough vitamin D to help you sustain proper levels. That being said, barbecuing with family, playing a sport or hiking in the sun, is still better for you than watching television inside. Don’t forget that you can still protect your skin while enjoying your time in the sun.

How to limit the harmful effects of sunlight

Of course, staying out of the sun is the best way to stay protected, but who doesn’t want to enjoy the sun when it makes an appearance? Try to take the following steps when exposed to sunlight to keep your skin healthy and looking its best:

  • Don’t leave the house without wearing sunscreen. Apply it every day and make sure it’s a habit, just like brushing your teeth!
  • Between the hours of 10am and 3pm be extra cautious; avoid the sun when you can, and apply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming, getting wet or sweating. (Ultraviolet rays are strongest between 10am and 3pm).
  • Long sleeves and slacks help protect from the sun, especially when in the sun for long periods of time.
  • Don’t forget your shades! Wear sunglasses that can filter UV light.

Three little letters; SPF

Everyone has seen them, but what does it really mean? SPF stands for sun protection factor. The greater the SPF number, the greater protection one will get from UVB rays (the burning rays). Choose an SPF that is 30 or higher no matter your complexion. If you have had skin cancer or precancer, it is recommended to increase the SPF to 45 or higher.

Sunscreen is important for everyone, regardless of age, sex, complexion or profession. Protection from the sun and the damage harmful rays can do to your skin makes applying sunscreen very important; whether or not you burn. Remember to check the label in order to determine the proper amount to apply.

See the full article here

 

caption-arrow Feature photo by  echoroo

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