Egg in cup

Why skip breakfast? 5 warm comfort foods that cook in 3 minutes

(BPT) – In spite of the well-documented drawbacks of not eating breakfast, approximately 30 percent of Americans are still failing to fuel themselves in the morning, according to WebMD. And many of those moving through their days with empty stomachs blame a lack of convenience.

Earlier this year, the Washington Post pointed to research showing millennials consider even breakfast cereal too inconvenient. And research cited in the Huffington Post indicates Americans 18 and older who miss their first daily meal most frequently blame lack of hunger or an overly busy schedule.

However, several studies point to adverse health and cognitive effects from missing breakfast. Consumer Reports indicates eating within two hours of waking promotes the metabolizing of your glucose or blood sugar all day, in turn boosting your energy. “Don’t skip breakfast,” advises researcher Dr. Leah E. Cahill of Harvard Medical School. “Incorporating many types of healthy foods into your breakfast is an easy way to ensure your meal provides adequate energy and a healthy balance of nutrients.”

Experts recommend those in the habit of skipping breakfast instead optimize ultra-easy and ultra-convenient comfort food meals. Most recipes can be made ahead and stored in your fridge for mornings when you’re short of time and energy. They’re made even faster via the latest microwaves by Panasonic that optimize inverter technology for even cooking that works from the outside in.

Below are a few easy microwave recipes for busy mornings:

1. Toasty banana bread oatmeal: In a microwaveable mug, combine 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 smashed banana and a little flax seed, cinnamon and/or honey. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, stir and eat.

2. Savory French toast in a mug: Just cube a slice of white bread and soak it for 5 minutes (press it down) in a mug holding a whisked egg, 5 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons grated cheddar, 3 tablespoons cooked ham and salt and pepper. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, then eat warm.

3. Warm apple muffin: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a microwaveable mug. Mix in a beaten egg, 3 tablespoons flour (almond or coconut works well), 1/8 teaspoon baking powder and a little maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Top with finely chopped apple and walnuts and butter. Microwave for a minute. Grab and go.

4. Tasty breakfast sandwich: Add to a mug 1 teaspoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon milk, an egg and some chopped onion, green pepper ham and hot sauce to taste. Microwave about 30 seconds, then scoop out and add to a toasted English muffin topped with a slice of your favorite cheese. Grab, then enjoy the savory goodness.

5. Roll-ups to go: Slather the inside of a 6 inch tortilla with peanut butter, jam, half a smashed banana and dried unsweetened coconut. Roll it up like a burrito, wrap it in a loose paper towel and microwave it for half a minute before appreciating how the flavors melt in your mouth.

Panasonic’s two Microwaves with Inverter Technology (NN-SD372S and NN-SN686S) optimize a patented technique that cooks food quickly and evenly every time to ensure a yummy breakfast on-the-go.

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How does your hospital stack up for maternity care?

(BPT) – As you get closer to your delivery date, many decisions lie ahead, all centered around care, maternity leave and even decorating the baby’s room. But one question may rise to the top: Where will you give birth?

If you are like most expectant mothers, you will be giving birth in a hospital. In spite of the rising popularity of home births, most moms choose hospitals to have their babies. The most recent statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that fewer than 2 percent of babies born in the U.S. are born in a home setting.

When you’re looking at where to give birth, expectant parents should consider the following while choosing a hospital, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA).

  1. Where does your doctor go?

The place to begin is with your doctor. Most women go to the hospital where their physician has admitting privileges. So when you choose your doctor, the hospital where your baby will be born is tied into that. Discuss your birth plan in detail with your physician and make sure you both are at an understanding. If you have specific preferences, ask your doctor if they can be accommodated. For example, if this is not your first child, and you want to try a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), have that discussion in detail with your physician. And while doctors are on call after office hours, it’s always a possibility that your doctor cannot attend your birth. Know who would take the place of your doctor if those circumstances arise.

  1. What’s the rate of C-section?

If you’re proceeding along in a healthy pregnancy, you may be planning a vaginal delivery. But a cesarean section is something to be aware of because one third of U.S. births are delivered by C-section, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield, The Health of America Report. It turns out that the city you live in can have a big impact on how you give birth. Some cities see rates as high as 50 percent, however, cities like Albuquerque, New Mexico, have rates as low as 22 percent. It’s important for patients to be aware of this because C-sections raise complications for both babies and mothers, and experts say these should be used only when medically necessary. In addition, vaginal births cost $4,000 less than surgical births.

  1. How does your hospital stack up?

The Blue Distinction Centers for Maternity Care program evaluates hospitals on several quality measures, including the percentage of newborns that fall into the category of early elective delivery, an ongoing concern in the medical community. The program is meant to identify facilities that offer maternity care safely and affordably. The maternity programs also must offer family centered care, such as promotion of breastfeeding.

If you’re interested in a list of hospitals that deliver quality maternity care, visit bcbs.com/healthcare-partners/blue-distinction-for-providers/ and select “maternity care.”

  1. Which amenities are available at the hospital?

Not all hospitals are alike, so take time to review what it has to offer. Some maternity centers offer birthing tubs and fold-out couches. Knowing whether the hospital has a newborn intensive care unit may be a consideration, depending on the circumstances of your delivery and birth. If the hospital does not have a neonatal intensive care unit, ask your physician how these newborns are evaluated and transferred to other facilities. If you are interested in breastfeeding, ask if lactation consultants are available and how and when you can seek assistance.

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Man who has overcome kidney disease

Are you at risk for kidney disease?

(BPT) – Edward Beans could be described as a man with great purpose who makes the most out of all life has to offer. He is a husband, father, business owner and a basketball coach. And, as of five years ago, he is a dialysis patient.

Beans found out he had kidney disease while at a routine doctor visit. His primary care doctor ran a full range of blood tests, including one to measure his kidney function, or glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The results showed Bean’s kidneys were failing.

“I was fortunate my doctor checked my GFR, or else I might not have had the chance to make a healthy transition to dialysis,” Beans says. “I encourage everyone to ask to have their GFR checked as part of their yearly physical.”

Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 31 million adults have been diagnosed with the disease, which is often called a “silent killer” because it can be symptomless until immediate medical attention is needed. Once kidney disease progresses to kidney failure, dialysis or a kidney transplant is necessary for survival.

When caught early enough, the progression of kidney disease may be slowed, and in some cases, prevented altogether. A simple GFR blood test can assess if someone has or is at risk of having kidney disease.

Beans recognizes that high blood pressure and poor dietary choices contributed to his kidney disease. In fact, diabetes and high blood pressure are the leading causes of kidney disease in the U.S. One in three people with diabetes and one in five people with high blood pressure also have kidney disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Moreover, minority populations — particularly Hispanics, African-Americans and Native Americans — are at a disproportionately higher risk of developing kidney disease. Additional risk factors include people with cardiovascular disease, obesity, high cholesterol, lupus and a family history of the disease.

Beans, like many people with kidney failure, chooses to live life to its fullest while managing the disease. He remains a committed family man, continues working as a property manager, and volunteers as a children’s basketball coach in his community — all while completing dialysis treatments three times a week.

“I’m still coaching, still running a business and still doing everything I want to do. But now I have to factor in time in a dialysis chair,” Beans says.

Beans is a good example of how it is possible to live a high quality of life after a kidney disease diagnosis. Staying employed after being diagnosed or while on dialysis has many potential benefits, including lower rates of depression, sustained income and, in many cases, more choices in medical insurance.

“If you choose to be active, you can still take care of yourself and slow it down. I choose to continue to work and coach and spend time with my family because it gives my life purpose.”

Take a one-minute quiz to find out if you may be at risk for kidney disease at DaVita.com/LearnYourRisk.

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Protect your heart with these easy meal add-ins

(BPT) – What’s the biggest threat to our health? It isn’t cancer or even accidents, but heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, one in four deaths in the U.S. is caused by heart disease, which includes heart attack and stroke. This statistic is scary, but the good news is, there is something powerful we can do to prevent us from becoming a victim to this disease.

Even if you are one of the 47 percent of Americans living with a major risk factor, there are preventive measures you can take for a healthier heart, says registered dietitian nutritionist, Dawn Jackson Blatner. All you have to do is embrace some simple lifestyle changes starting with your diet.

“Food is quite literally one of the best medicines out there when it comes to improving our health,” says Blatner. “Studies show us repeatedly that a balanced diet including heart-healthy unsaturated fats, along with multiple servings of fruit and vegetables can give you additional protection against heart attack and stroke.”

Here are five of Blatner’s go-to foods you can easily incorporate into your diet for a daily dose of heart-healthy compounds.

1. Fish: Salmon and other fatty fish such as sardines are chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, which lower the risk of irregular heartbeat and help decrease plaque buildup in the arteries. If fish isn’t already in your meal rotation, it’s time to start. Preparation and cooking time for fish entrees is much shorter than that of chicken, beef and pork, making it a perfect weeknight meal.

2. Greens: Leafy greens contain nitrates, healthy compounds that not only reduce the risk of heart attack, but can boost survival rates after a heart attack. Plus, spinach, kale and other dark green vegetables have carotenoids, which work to keep blood vessels healthy. So aim to have at least one cup of leafy greens each day, such as scrambled in your morning eggs, a green juice as a snack or a leafy salad with lunch or dinner.

3. Nuts: They contain protein, fiber and healthy fat, which work together to keep us feeling full and satisfied. Though high in fat, studies show people who consume nuts on a daily basis are leaner than those who don’t, and staying lean is, of course, heart-healthy. So go ahead and keep almonds, walnuts or pistachios on hand for snacking, and choose those that are minimally processed, avoiding candied or highly salted nuts.

4. Dark chocolate: Good news: Eating dark chocolate every day can reduce heart attack and stroke for high-risk patients. The magic compound here is flavonoids, which are beneficial for blood pressure and clotting while also reducing inflammation. If you’re on-board with making chocolate your after dinner indulgence, opt for brands with 60-70 percent cocoa and that don’t contain milk fat in the ingredient list.

5. Eggs: Contrary to earlier belief, eating one egg a day has no negative effect on coronary health and can actually reduce the risk of stroke by 12 percent, according to a recent review of 30 years’ worth of scientific study cited on nutraingredients.com. But all eggs are not created equal. Eggland’s Best eggs, for example, offer the benefit of 25 percent less saturated fat, five times more Vitamin D, more than twice the omega-3s and three times more Vitamin B12 than ordinary eggs. Eggland’s Best’s superior nutritional profile is due to its proprietary, all-vegetarian diet. So get cracking and experiment with recipes featuring poached, baked and even hard-boiled Eggland’s Best eggs to serve up heart-healthy meals.

Very Vegetable Frittata

Ingredients

4 Eggland’s Best Eggs (large)

1/3 cup Eggland’s Best Liquid Egg Whites

1 cup non-fat milk

1 tablespoon chopped chives

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1 cup chopped broccoli

1 cup chopped cauliflower

1 cup chopped zucchini

1 cup halved cherry or pear tomatoes

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

arugula, for serving (optional)

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk and Dijon mustard; set aside.

In a 10 to 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet, spray with cooking spray and heat to medium-high.

Saute onion until softened — about 2 minutes.

Add the mushroom, broccoli, cauliflower and zucchini to the skillet. Saute until slightly softened — another 3 to 4 minutes.

Whisk the egg mixture again, then pour over the vegetables.

Sprinkle tomatoes and feta cheese on top.

Place a lid on the skillet, reduce heat to medium and cook until the bottom and sides of the frittata are firm — 8 to 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven broiler.

Place the skillet under the broiler and broil until the frittata is cooked through (no longer jiggly) and slightly browned on top — about 5 minutes (watch closely).

Cut into 4 wedges and serve immediately, over a handful of arugula, if desired.

— Recipe courtesy of Eggland’s Best.

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Keep your teen athlete fueled with these 4 vital tips

(BPT) – High school can be intense, but being a student athlete can intensify expectations.

As the start of spring sports approaches, the stakes are even higher for your student to maintain the success they had first semester. There are practices, matches and conference finals that have to fit in with exams and semester-long projects. Being a standout in the classroom and on the field requires expert-level planning and execution.

That’s where parents play a huge role in helping their teen athletes keep it all in balance. Here are four easy tips to help you ensure that your teen is ready for a great season, on and off the field.

Food: Allison Maurer — a sports dietitian and Gatorade consultant who has worked with high school and collegiate athletes — says, “The important thing to remember is that food is fuel. It gives athletes the energy they need to perform and also helps them recover. When planning your athletes’ meals, look for whole food sources that provide high-quality fats, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. Talk to your athlete about his or her fuel strategy before, during and after practices and games, and offer support by providing healthy, energy rich snacks.”

Hydration: When exercising hard, the body cools itself through sweat. If body mass is reduced by about 2 percent, which would be 3 pounds of water weight loss in a 150-pound athlete, it can negatively affect performance, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s (NATA) Position Statement on Fluid Replacement for Athletes.

“Athletes lose more than water in sweat, so it’s important that they take their hydration seriously since it can impact performance,” Maurer says. “There are a number of products to meet an athlete’s hydration and fueling preferences. For those looking for an organic fueling option, I recommend G Organic, Gatorade’s latest product. It’s made with only seven ingredients and provides the same hydration benefits that athletes expect from Gatorade.”

Rest: Although teens may seem to bounce back easily from a night with too little rest, the truth is that good sleep helps both learning and athletic performance. Sleep helps athletes recover, especially after they’ve pushed their limits in an intense workout. Being rested can also improve reaction time, as well as speed and accuracy. In addition, teens with earlier bedtimes had better grades than those who stayed up later and slept less, according to a study of 3,000 subjects cited by the National Sleep Foundation.

Talk about these benefits with your athlete, and encourage them to go to bed and rise at the same time each day. Also, the glowing light of electronic devices can also interfere with sleep. So, help your teen come up with a strategy to power down an hour or so before bedtime in order to prepare their minds for a night of restorative sleep.

Planning: Schedules have a way of colliding, and this especially happens when a huge test and a game are scheduled for the same day. Each week, sit down with your student athlete and walk through that week’s schedule. Look at practices, games, homework assignments and tests, and create a calendar. That way, if a midterm and a game take place on the same day, he or she can plan accordingly. This will help avoid a late-night, stress-filled cram session that will steal from their performance in the classroom and on the field.

Life as a student athlete means keeping everything in balance. By focusing on the body — from nutrition to time management — athletes can focus on giving their best performance this upcoming season.

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5 simple steps to boost your immune system now

(BPT) – Whether it’s battling the rampant germs of cold and flu season or maintaining wellness throughout the year, the immune system is your main line of defense. In order to feel good as often as possible — and recover quickly when you don’t — it’s important to keep your immune system strong.

“The immune system is the part of the body that monitors both internal and external environments,” says Dr. Chris Oswald, certified nutrition specialist and chiropractor in Hudson, Wisconsin. “It’s important to understand that both too much immune response and too little immune response, including inflammation, is not good, so maintaining that happy medium is the name of the game.”

To achieve that “happy medium,” Dr. Oswald recommends incorporating five simple steps into your daily routine:

Support natural sleep cycles

“Sleep is the time when our bodies repair and rejuvenate, so it is something to not be taken lightly,” Dr. Oswald says. “Generally speaking, the older we are the less sleep we need, but for adults 7-9 hours is usually the sweet spot.”

He says a good way to know if you are sleeping well is if you fall asleep within 30 minutes of lying down and you are able to wake at approximately the same time every day without an alarm clock.

“It is also very important to maintain regular hours as our body’s circadian rhythms do not like to be disrupted,” he adds.

Eat fermented and unprocessed foods

Dr. Oswald says the body’s microbiome health has a huge impact on the immune system. The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms that inhabit the intestinal tract, creating a mini-ecosystem.

“Every bite of food we eat impacts microbiome balance, so it is important to eat foods that promote its health,” he says. “I like fermented foods and foods that are minimally processed or as close to their form in nature as possible. When the wrong foods are eaten, certain microbiota are able to ‘gain strength’ and offset the health promoting benefits of other more beneficial organisms.”

He adds that dietary fiber is also very important to maintaining the health of the microbiome. Additionally, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA help boost the immune system.

Use supplements to support digestive health

“The digestive tract is a barrier to the outside world which selectively allows molecules to pass through,” says Dr. Oswald. This is why a healthy gut is a big part of overall health — it filters out the bad while keeping in the good.

Eating plenty of probiotics in foods like yogurt and kefir helps maintain digestive health, but it can be difficult for the average person to get enough to make an impact. “Supporting digestive health with a comprehensive probiotic supplement such as Nordic Naturals Nordic Flora Probiotic Daily is a great foundational health strategy for everyone,” Dr. Oswald says.

Move your body

“Higher levels of fitness are definitely associated with improved immune function,” says Dr. Oswald. He recommends high intensity interval training (HIIT), where you alternate short periods of intense exercise with brief rest periods.

“I like people to choose any activity they like and have a nice gentle 5 minute warm-up followed by up to six 100 percent work intervals for 30 seconds with 60 seconds of rest,” he says. “Once complete with the circuit, a five minute cool down completes your workout in 19 minutes or less.”

Embrace mindfulness and meditate

Dr. Oswald says both acute and chronic stress have an effect on the immune system, which can potentially decrease your resistance to illness. One easy way to combat stress is to try to meditate every day.

“Meditation is a very powerful option and I firmly believe that all should find some way of increasing mindfulness,” he says. “It is important to remember that meditation is different for everyone.”

Meditation can be sitting quietly with eyes closed, staring at a flame, walking in the woods, etc. Try something that feels right to you that allows you to relax and be mindful of the present.

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Transform your home into a retreat with these 5 tips from a luxury resort

(BPT) – There’s a reason why they say your home is your castle. This is a place of rest and refuge so you can be returned to your best state.

The next time you find yourself with a quiet evening or weekend in your abode, make self-care and pampering a priority. In fact, you can borrow a few pages from the wellness playbook with expert tips from one the world’s most storied resorts.

Destination Kohler located in the heart of Wisconsin in the quaint village of Kohler — and recently named one of the top 15 wellness resorts by Conde Nast Traveler — is what you might call a luxurious refuge. Here, after you explore picturesque snow-covered hiking paths on snowshoes or cross-country skis, and enjoy five-star accommodations at this historic American Club, you can restore your body and mind at the luxurious five-star Kohler Waters Spa or unique Yoga on the Lake facility.

But even a few simple additions at your home, says Garrett Mersberger, director of Kohler Waters Spas, can greatly increase the relaxation factor during your down time.

1. Include the five senses.

The secret to setting up the best spa experience, Mersberger says, is making positive connections to all the senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and sound.

“If one of these is missing, the experience isn’t the same,” he says.

Even the smallest changes can transform your space and elevate your mood. You can light a candle and plug in the indoor water fountain to create sound and lighting that soothes the mind. Snuggle into a plush robe and encase your feet in super soft socks or slippers after your shower or bath. Finally, don’t forget to set yourself up with a glass of wine and a cheese plate.

2. Prepare your body with hydrotherapy.

People have known this since ancient times: water has great powers of restoration, which is why hydrotherapy is central to any worthwhile spa experience. At home, it’s as simple as making small adjustments to your shower routine. Mersberger suggests changing the pulses in your shower head and experimenting with hot and cool blasts of water, which he says are good for the skin and blood flow.

But be careful, while a hot bath or shower before bed feels terrific, it’s not relaxing since warm temperatures will raise your blood flow, preparing the body for work or exercise, he says. To ready your body for sleep or relaxation, finish with a shower that’s a neutral temperature (about 92-97 degrees Fahrenheit), to return your body to normal.

3. Release blocked energy.

Start your quest for relaxation with a simple yoga move called the seated cat/cow position. “In addition to releasing blocked energy, it also opens the spine,” says Ashley Kohler, Manager of Yoga on the Lake at Destination Kohler. To do this, sit cross-legged on the floor and place your hands on your knees. As you inhale, lean your chest forward and lift your gaze to the sky. As you exhale, round out your spine while drawing your shoulders forward, gazing down.

4. Hone your breathing technique.

Breathing is a vital component of managing stress levels, Kohler says. Yet most Americans only breathe with a third of their lung capacity, creating “flight energy” in the body and cultivating that feeling of stress.

“Conscious breathing will ease your nervous system and help control stress levels and help you unwind,” Kohler says.

Here’s an easy antidote: Sit quietly for a few moments, taking full-body, deep breaths through your nose.

“I like to visualize the ocean, and imagine the sound of the its big crashing waves with every breath I take,” she says.

5. Relieve stress by going outside.

The benefits of going outside in the winter is not only good for our bodies, being outside chases away the winter blahs, as research has told us. So go ahead and skip the treadmill and go jogging in the park. Or rent a pair of snowshoes take a tromp through the woods. Or take a walk. When you’re done, there’s no better feeling than coming in from the cool air, knowing you are truly in for the day.

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Tips to make goodbyes better for both parent and child

(BPT) – As a parent, you’ve probably experienced the clinging, clutching and crying that often accompany a goodbye when your child returns to day care or preschool after a long holiday break. Separation can be difficult for both children and their parents. Remember, separation anxiety is perfectly normal and can start at any time during the first three years.

The challenge of separation can vary greatly depending on your child’s age, developmental stage, temperament and environment. But there is relief. Child development experts agree families can learn how to ease separation anxiety and manage transitions by developing a predictable routine between the parent and/or caregiver and child — a consistent way to say goodbye.

Saying goodbye helps your child

You may be tempted to sneak out and avoid a scene, but that only tends to make your child more anxious. Creating a consistent and predictable routine will help ease separations that are painful for both of you. The repetition of a goodbye routine will help your child develop a sense of security and facilitate a smoother transition from your presence to your absence and back again.

“Neuroscience has shown that the consistency and predictability will help your child learn to anticipate your return,” says Dr. Victoria Simms, child development specialist and president of the Simms/Mann Institute. “It’s very important for young children to have experiences that promote security. Consistent routines leave a positive imprint on the brain that will help set the stage for easier transitions during times of separation.”

Tips for easing separation anxiety

1. Bring a familiar object from home. Children often find comfort in familiar objects such as a cuddly lovie, toy or blanket. These special items are called transitional objects. By introducing a transitional object early on your child will begin associating it with you and what you represent to them: warmth, comfort, security and most of all, love.

2. Create your own consistent goodbye routines and rituals. Creating a consistent and predictable goodbye routine is key to making transitions easier. Designate a special place in your house where you can focus on each other for a few minutes before saying goodbye. Don’t forget to confidently give your child a hug and a kiss and be on your way.

3. Comfort yourself. When you’re comfortable and calm, your child will feel less anxious and more confident. Remember, thoughtful distress can help you and your child grow and spending the time to say goodbye will enable your child to manage the separation and help your child reconnect with you in a more positive way when you return.

To further help parents and caregivers understand the importance of creating consistent and predictable routines, the Simms/Mann Institute recently launched the CuddleBright(TM) Experience, a product that incorporates all the elements needed to get your goodbye routine off to a strong start.

By integrating the latest neuroscience research and years of child development theories, the CuddleBright(TM) Experience aims to connect and comfort both parents and children during times of separation. The product is specially designed for children ages 0-5 and their parents. It includes a cuddly lovie, a beautifully illustrated board book, “A Cuddle Before I Go,” and a special keepsake heart that will serve as a transitional object for the parent. These items work together to create a loving goodbye routine for both parent and child. In addition, the CuddleBright(TM) Experience includes a parenting guide focused on 18 child development topics that provide tips and strategies for navigating parenthood.

For more information about the CuddleBright(TM) Experience visit www.cuddlebright.com.

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