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Robin Roth Hep C

Hepatitis C: Why baby boomers should be tested immediately

(BPT) – If you were born between 1945 and 1965, you could be one of more than 3 million baby boomers living with hepatitis C in the U.S. and not even know it. Despite only making up 27 percent of the U.S. population, baby boomers account for more than 75 percent of hepatitis C cases in the U.S.

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by a virus primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person. While some people only experience a short-term infection, 70-85 percent of those with hepatitis C develop a chronic infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which can lead to liver cirrhosis (or scarring), liver cancer and even death. Hepatitis C is often referred to as a “silent epidemic,” since a person can have the condition for decades without any symptoms.

Why should boomers, born between 1945 and 1965, be tested today?

The CDC estimates boomers are five times more likely to have hepatitis C than the rest of the population. Hepatitis C rates peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, when boomers may have been exposed to infected blood before certain safety precautions were adopted for medical procedures, body piercings and tattoos.

Only 14 percent of baby boomers report having been screened for hepatitis C, which is why the CDC recommends all boomers speak with their healthcare providers and request to be tested for hepatitis C.

Have YOU been tested?

The only way to know if someone has the virus is through a one-time blood test, yet testing among boomers remains low. Quest Diagnostics, a leading diagnostics company, has more than 2,200 Patient Services Centers with labs offering hepatitis C testing for boomers. Quest Diagnostics patient Robin Roth was diagnosed with hepatitis C following a routine doctor’s visit that changed her life.

Though she was symptomless, Robin asked to be screened for hepatitis C and tested positive for the virus. When her doctor explained the virus may have impacted her liver health, Robin asked for a biopsy, which confirmed she had liver cirrhosis. After receiving treatment for nearly a year, she became virus-free and cleared her cirrhosis.

Watch Robin’s journey from diagnosis to recovery to learn more.

Is there a cure for hepatitis C?

Yes, there are new and successful treatments that can cure the virus and prevent liver damage, cirrhosis and liver disease. The biggest barrier to treatment is diagnosis, given the lack of obvious symptoms. This barrier has been a contributing factor to half the cases of liver cancer in the U.S., which increased by 72 percent from 2003 to 2012.

For more information about hepatitis C and to assess your risk factors, visit KnowAboutHepC.com.

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Need care today? Here are 4 choices to try before the emergency room

(BPT) – A health concern rarely strikes when it’s convenient for you, and in most cases it occurs at the worst possible time. When you need care and don’t have time to schedule an appointment, what do you do?

You head to the emergency room, of course. You wait in the long ER lines and pay the hefty bill that concludes your visit, all for a non-emergency situation that required immediate treatment. It’s hardly the most efficient solution, and while your health is certainly your most important concern, there are ways to receive the same quality care without the long wait and extravagant expense of an emergency room visit.

Considering the three C’s

Years ago the emergency room was your only option when you needed immediate care, but today’s health care market is home to a number of flourishing alternative options. To find the right solution for your situation, consider the three C’s: care, convenience and cost.

* Care: Evaluate the severity of your symptoms and identify what services you need. An emergency issue should always be treated at the ER, but if the problem is not life- or limb-threatening, it can be treated somewhere else.

* Convenience: It’s a good idea to know what health care facilities are near you, as well as their hours of operation.

* Cost: Not every provider will be covered by your insurance, so it’s important to understand your coverage area as well as your pre-authorization requirements.

Finding the best health care option for you

If you face a serious health issue, you should head to the emergency room immediately. However, if the issue merits immediate care but is not life- or limb-threatening, the Urgent Care Association of America offers this quick guide to your on-demand health care options.

Urgent care centers

Urgent care centers are equipped to handle illnesses and injuries that require X-rays, intravenous fluids and/or on-site lab tests. With an emphasis on convenience, urgent care offers short wait times — often 30 minutes or less compared to four hours in the emergency room — and affordable care, made even more so because it is covered by most insurance providers.

Retail clinics

Otherwise known as walk-in clinics, retail clinics are commonly found in supermarkets or pharmacies and specialize in treating less serious conditions than urgent care centers or emergency rooms. If you have a minor illness or you need preventative care, like a vaccination, then a retail clinic is a logical stop for you.

Telemedicine

A product of the digital age, telemedicine connects patients with providers via virtual visits, resulting in lower costs and decreased travel time. Telemedicine services are an attractive option if you live in a rural community or for times when the treatment you require does not extend beyond a consultation. They are also a handy tool for follow-up appointments that do not require an in-person visit.

On-site clinics

Finally, you may consider an on-site clinic. This option is now offered by many employers as a way of providing increased health care access to their employees. Similar to retail clinics, an on-site clinic specializes in offering wellness and preventative services — though the specific services offered by each clinic may vary.

Finding the best solution for you

You’ve read all the care options above and you have a pretty good idea of the best solution for any care need. Match that need with the right treatment option above and you’ll receive the same quality care without the long wait and hefty bill of that emergency room visit.

To find an urgent care center near you, visit www.whereisurgentcare.com.

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6 surprising health benefits of strawberries

6 surprising health benefits of strawberries

(BPT) – Eight strawberries, a single serving, delivers on a surprising checklist of benefits for anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Strawberries are much more than a sweet and delicious treat — they are a versatile fruit that’s great for your health. What better time than National Strawberry Month to share six health benefits of strawberries that may be new to you. Grab a handful of strawberries and read on, because eating right has never tasted so good.

* Strawberries help you stay sharp. A recent study in the Annals of Neurology suggests that eating strawberries more than twice a week appears to delay cognitive aging by up to two and a half years.

* Loaded with nutrients. Strawberries pack a lot of healthy properties into a small package. Each berry is full of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients, including potassium, folate and fiber.

* Sweet without the sugar. The sweet taste of strawberries makes them a natural dessert topping, and strawberries are also low in calories and sugar — one serving of eight strawberries contains just 45 calories!

* A delicious source of vitamin C. When you think vitamin C, think strawberries. One serving of eight strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange, topping out at 140 percent of the recommended daily value. It’s the perfect power-packed boost that you can add to any meal or cold remedy.

* A healthy choice for diabetics. The American Diabetes Association has identified berries, including strawberries, as a perfect component of a diabetes meal plan. This is because strawberries have a low glycemic index and are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

* Cholesterol fighter. Lowering your cholesterol is a common goal for many Americans these days, and strawberries can help. In addition to being packed with antioxidants and fiber, strawberries are also rich in phytochemicals, which have been shown to reduce overall cholesterol levels. In addition, the potassium found in strawberries may help control blood pressure and fight strokes.

It’s easy to see why you should eat eight strawberries each day. Grab a handful today — your body and taste buds will be glad you did.

To learn more about the health benefits of strawberries, visit www.californiastrawberries.com.

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5 facts about strokes that could save your life

Chances are you know someone who has had a stroke. An estimated 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite how common strokes are, there are a lot of widely believed misconceptions. Unfortunately, not knowing the facts can put a person at bigger risk for experiencing a stroke themselves, or, not being able to help someone else who may be experiencing a stroke.
To help separate fact from fiction, the medical experts at Life Line Screening share the truth about the top misconceptions about stroke:
Misconception: Strokes only happen to older people
Fact: Research found 61 percent of strokes happen in people over the age of 65. That means 39 percent of strokes happen to younger people.
Misconception: Strokes are not a problem in the United States
Fact: You may only know a few people who’ve had a stroke in their life, but someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the U.S.
Misconception: A stroke will kill you
Fact: Approximately one out of eight strokes results in death within thirty days. The other seven instances leave the person disabled. Stroke is fatal in about 10 to 20 percent of cases and, among survivors, it can cause a host of disabilities, including loss of mobility, impaired speech, and cognitive problems.
Misconception: Strokes cannot be prevented
Fact: Up to 80 percent of strokes could be stopped before they start. Health screenings are an effective way to identify and understand risk factors so they can be properly managed.
Research shows nine out of 10 cardiovascular doctors support preventive health screenings for cardiovascular disease (plaque in the arteries) among patients with key risk factors. To learn more, visit http://www.lifelinescreening.com.
Misconception: Only a doctor can identify a stroke
Fact: Everyone can and should know the signs and symptoms of stroke. By taking quick action, you could save a life.
According to the CDC, the most common signs of stroke are:
* Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
* Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or difficulty understanding speech.
* Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
* Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination.
* Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
If you or someone else has any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Understanding the facts about stroke helps empower you to control your own health. Even if risk factors are present, you can take proactive measures to help prevent stroke for yourself and loved ones.

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Thinking about a career in health care? Consider this

(BPT) – Medical professionals are in greater demand than ever before, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), by the year 2025, the United States could need as many as 90,000 more physicians than it actually has, and the demand for nurses and other health professionals could be even higher.

Given those numbers, the time couldn’t be better to consider a career in health care.

Historically, the path toward becoming a doctor or nurse has been a rigid one — and, as a student, you were either on that path or you weren’t. But today, new options are opening up, as even the best-established medical schools seek to expand their offerings and encourage a greater number of medically inclined students to enter the field professionally.

New options for health care-inclined students of all ages

Just take what Harvard Medical School is doing. This spring, the school — whose typical acceptance rate is under 4 percent — announced its first-ever online certificate program that’s open to all aspiring clinicians as well as the general public.

The program, called HMX Fundamentals, is designed to give students a taste of what a top-tier medical education entails, while building crucial expertise in four foundational subject areas: Immunology, Physiology, Biochemistry and Genetics. These highly immersive courses emphasize real-world applications and experiences, integrating real-life case studies and offering a first-hand look into real medical facilities — a significant step beyond the traditional, passive learning and slide-show presentations that are common in some other online programs. The idea is to provide foundational knowledge in a meaningful context, making the information as relevant as possible.

By offering wider access than ever before to some of the school’s top physician-scientists, Harvard Medical School is hoping to change the game, and encourage more health-curious students and professionals to explore medicine seriously.

Whether you’re a highly motivated high school student, a recent college graduate or a young professional considering a transition into health care, this summer’s HMX Fundamentals program could be the first step in your path toward a career in medicine.

Expanding access without sacrificing quality

While HMX Fundamentals courses are open to students at virtually any phase of their academic or professional career, they do require a basic understanding of chemistry, biology and physics. To ensure that students are prepared to succeed, prospective students are asked to submit a brief application, both to confirm they’ve completed the recommended prerequisites and to give HMX a sense of what they hope to achieve through the program.

Applications for the program will be accepted through May 30, and the inaugural summer installment program will begin June 20. Tuition for HMX Fundamentals courses is tiered, beginning at $800 for a single course or $1000 for a two-course bundle. Partial scholarships are available on a limited basis.

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A female pharmacist sits with a senior female patient in the pharmacist consultation area and discusses her prescription and choice of medication. In the background a father and daughter stand at the dispensing counter and are served by a female pharmacy assistant .

Too many with epilepsy are unaware of this uncommon but fatal threat

(BPT) – For people with epilepsy—and for those who care for them—the side effects of the condition are well known. They know all about the seizures and they also know how best to care for themselves or their loved ones should a seizure occur. While the persistent possibility of a seizure is well known, many people living with epilepsy are unaware of another threat that, while uncommon, is fatal.

They are unaware of SUDEP.

What is SUDEP?

SUDEP stands for Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy. It is an uncommon but fatal complication that kills one in 4,500 children with epilepsy and one in 1,000 adults with epilepsy each year. In many cases of SUDEP, an otherwise healthy person with epilepsy dies unexpectedly. And while SUDEP may seem to strike from nowhere, new research is available to help patients and their families reduce their risk.

The American Academy of Neurology and the American Epilepsy Society recently released a new guideline to help patients and their families better understand SUDEP and its risk factors. According to the guideline, the occurrence of generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS), a type of seizure that involves the whole body, is one of the key risk factors for SUDEP. The guidelines also find that a patient’s risk of SUDEP increases as GTCS increases in frequency.

Likewise, seizure freedom from GTCS decreases a person’s risk of SUDEP.

Care guidelines for doctors, patients and caregivers

Given the clear connection that exists between the frequency of GTCS and their risk for SUDEP, reducing GTCS experiences remains the most effective way to reduce a person’s SUDEP risk.

For neurologists—the doctors who treat patients with epilepsy—this means increasing patient knowledge of SUDEP and letting people know that while the condition is uncommon, it can be fatal. This conversation can be difficult, but it is essential so patients can better understand their risks and how to protect their health. Actively working with patients who experience GTCS to manage their epilepsy therapies is the best way to reduce their seizure risk. Neurologists should also inform patients that seizure freedom, particularly freedom from GTCS—which is more likely to occur by taking prescribed medication regularly—is strongly associated with a decreased risk of SUDEP.

For patients, this report makes the conversations they have with their neurologist regarding their epilepsy treatment more important than ever. Patients must speak with their neurologist about their experiences and carefully follow the treatments set in place. Failure to do so could not only be seizure inducing, but life threatening. For those living with epilepsy and their caregivers, sidestepping the treatment simply isn’t worth the risk.

To learn more about SUDEP and the latest treatment guidelines available from the American Academy of Neurology and American Epilepsy Society, visit aan.com.

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The important role vaccines may play in helping keep children and adults healthy

(BPT) – Every one of the nearly 12,000 babies born in the United States each day may be susceptible to infectious diseases. The good news is that vaccines can help protect children from some of these diseases.

As National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) approaches, it is timely to remember the role that vaccinations can play in helping to prevent certain diseases among infants. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that routine vaccination of the nearly 4 million babies born in the US each year may help to prevent about 20 million cases of diseases that they could develop over their lifetime. In fact, over time, successful vaccination campaigns have contributed to the near elimination or elimination of some diseases in the U.S., like polio.

Vaccination is considered to be one of the greatest public health achievements since 1900. NIIW, which is held April 22 – 29 this year, highlights the importance of helping to protect infants from diseases for which there are vaccines and celebrates the achievements of vaccination programs in helping to promote healthy communities.

“Today vaccines can help to protect against 14 diseases before age two,” explains Eddy Bresnitz, M.D., M.S., Executive Director, Merck Vaccines Global Health & Medical Affairs. “Failure to vaccinate may mean putting your children at risk for potentially serious diseases.”

“In the U.S., most young children receive many of the recommended vaccines, but there is room to improve vaccination rates among all groups, including adolescents and adults,” says Bresnitz.

In fact, the CDC has specific recommended vaccination schedules that cover children, adolescents and adults. Talk to your healthcare provider about vaccines that may be recommended for you and your loved ones, and visit www.vaccinesandyou.com to learn more.

This information is provided by Merck.

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Proper nutrition is key to senior health

(BPT) – Americans are now living longer than ever before. In fact, one of the fastest growing segments is people over the age of 85 who will represent 20 percent of the population by the year 2040. Because we are living longer, certain conditions specific to seniors are also on a steady rise. Dehydration, falls, fractures, cognition loss and attention deficits are now becoming more commonplace.

In a recent paper titled “Salt Appetite Across Generations” presented at a medical conference in Switzerland, Israeli researchers from the University of Haifa indicated that among seniors, a reduced sense of thirst could increase the increased risk of serious dehydration. They also noted that the appetite for salt does not diminish with age, and suggested that this could be used to help sustain hydration and prevent the dangerous symptoms that result from dehydration.

Another study published in the American Journal of Hypertension identified significant risks to cardiovascular health and longevity from consuming any less than 1, or more than 3 teaspoons of salt per day. Fortunately, most Americans, including seniors, when left to their own choice consume right in the middle of this range.

Seniors in assisted living centers can be especially susceptible to the dangers of low salt diets. In 2013 a task force of 12 professional medical, nursing, and nutritional organizations assembled by the Pioneer Network published the “New Dining Practice Standards.” Their report concluded that low salt diets were contributing to malnutrition and weight loss among a significant percentage of seniors in assisted living facilities.

Low salt diets can also cause seniors to suffer from mild hyponatremia, an electrolyte imbalance in the blood which may not sound bad but can lead directly to walking impairment, attention deficits and a much higher frequency of falls. Several recent medical papers found a direct relationship between hyponatremia and unsteadiness, falls, bone fractures and attention deficits.

Falls are one of the most serious problems for the elderly and about a third of people over 65 fall at least once every year. Fall-related injuries in the elderly are associated with numerous psychological and physical consequences and are a leading cause of bone breakage and hip fractures, which can lead to complications and permanent disability or death. Some seniors do need a low salt diets but many do not, and it should not be assumed that they all do or benefit from when in fact the opposite may be the case.

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Experts say alarming rise in STDs among young adults requires urgent action

(BPT) – Lauren, a young woman from North Carolina, started noticing symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) after being with a new partner. As someone who typically took great care of her health, she knew it was important to get her symptoms checked out. She was surprised to learn that she had chlamydia.

“Luckily, I experienced symptoms, so I knew to get tested,” Lauren says, “but not everyone experiences them.” Since talking to her friends about what happened, she adds, “I’m surprised at how many of them have gone through the same thing. It’s a lot more common than I thought.”

Because she caught it early, Lauren was able to treat her chlamydia quickly with one course of antibiotics. She said she knows getting an STD isn’t a punishment for having unprotected sex, but if you are having sex, getting tested is the best way to take care of yourself.

“I’m so glad that I didn’t wait to be tested, because the real problem is when STDs aren’t treated,” Lauren says.

Lauren’s experience is increasingly common among young adults. In fact, one in two sexually active people will get an STD by age 25, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yet a recent study shows that fewer than 12 percent said they were tested in the past year.

Shattering the STD stigma

To spread the message about the importance of STD testing, the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) has launched a stigma-shattering initiative — “YES Means TEST(TM)” — to educate and empower young adults who say “YES” to sexual activity also to say “YES” to getting tested for STDs.

“At ASHA, we understand there are plenty of reasons young people aren’t getting tested,” says Lynn Barclay, president and CEO of ASHA. “They’re often in denial about the risk of STDs, aren’t educated about their harmful effects or for some reason are too embarrassed to discuss them. We’ve got to reverse that stigma so people, especially young women, feel empowered to take ownership of their sexual health.”

“YES Means TEST” launched with a video featuring comedian/actress Whitney Cummings, a creator of the hit TV show, “2 Broke Girls.” The video is aimed at normalizing STD testing so young people will view it as a natural part of their health routine. The video reveals surprising statistics about the impact of STDs and asks young people why their generation isn’t more comfortable talking about STDs and getting tested. All “YES Means TEST” activities direct people to www.YESmeansTEST.org, where they can locate nearby clinics to receive STD screenings.

Why testing matters now more than ever

People may not know they have an STD because many do not have symptoms, and they can cause serious health consequences if they are not detected and treated appropriately. For example, chlamydia left untreated can put a woman at risk for pelvic inflammatory disease, a condition that can lead to infertility. “YES Means TEST” was designed primarily to reach sexually active women ages 18-24. The CDC recommends annual chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings for this demographic.

STD testing can be confidential and free or low-cost, and common STDs, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, are usually effectively treated with antibiotics. For more information about STDs, “YES Means TEST” or how and where to get tested, visit www.YESmeansTEST.org. Join the conversation online with #YESmeansTEST.

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Fresh ways to enjoy pizza night and make a balanced meal

(BPT) – You know a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables is best for your health, but achieving that can be a challenge given everything you have to accomplish in a day. Daily meal planning doesn’t have to be such a chore if you turn to your freezer for a little help. In fact, starting with frozen prepared foods as the foundation of your dinner plate and adding side dishes with fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and/or low-fat dairy can make it possible to serve a balanced meal that is quick and tasty. And that works for pizza night, too!

“Eating a balanced meal doesn’t mean you have to give up favorite foods like pizza,” says Bobby Parrish, Food Network personality and Today contributor. “It just means you need to be mindful of portion sizes and balance out your plate with a nutritious side dish of fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains.”

Research shows that Americans struggle with meeting recommended dietary guidelines. In fact, nine out of 10 people don’t get the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. A simple way to improve the mix of foods you’re eating is by supplementing something you already enjoy — like pizza — with side dishes made up of other food groups.

Nestlé USA’s Balance Your Plate educational program aims to help you put together delicious and nutritious meals that incorporate both frozen and fresh foods. The website www.nestleusa.com/balance provides information, tips and recipes to help consumers create easy, balanced meals that meet dietary guidelines.

By choosing your favorite frozen dishes, like pizza, as the foundation of your meal, you can build a more balanced plate with these tips:

* Make at least half your plate fruits and vegetables. For example, if you have a slice of cheese pizza, pair it with a fresh salad or your favorite vegetable side dish.

* Figure out your portion by looking at the recommended Serving Size in the Nutrition Facts label. Here’s an easy idea for pizza portions: picture your hand as a pizza slice and plan to enjoy one or two hands’ worth.

* Don’t be afraid to mix vegetables right into or on top of your pizza. For example, top cheese pizza with fresh tomato and basil after it comes out of the oven.

* Bagged salad greens, spinach or salad kits are a great, speedy way to add greens to your plate.

Parrish, who partnered with DiGiorno to create original side dish recipes, offers these two nutritious and tasty salad recipes to pair with your favorite pizza to create a more balanced meal:

Quinoa and Grapefruit Herb Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups of cooked quinoa

1 grapefruit

2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped and roasted (optional)

1-2 small carrots, grated

1 tablespoon each of fresh parsley and dill, chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Couple cracks of black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Bring 1 3/4 cups of water to a boil and add 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. Add 3/4 cups of raw quinoa. Stir well, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Check the quinoa; the water should be absorbed and the grain should be fluffy. If the quinoa has not unraveled, add another 1/4 cup of water and cook until the water evaporates and the quinoa looks cooked. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool for up to two hours, or you can make ahead of time and refrigerate overnight.

Place the cooked, cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Using a knife, cut away all the skin from the grapefruit and cut all segments directly into the bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Check for taste; you may need to add more lemon juice. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Shaved Apple and Romaine Crunch Salad

Ingredients:

2 hearts of romaine lettuce

1 sweet apple, like gala or pink lady

2 tablespoons raisins

1 tablespoon fresh chives, sliced

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

For the salad dressing:

3 tablespoons tahini

2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Zest and juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Couple cracks of black pepper

2-4 tablespoons water

Directions:

Use a slicer or mandoline to thinly slice the apple. Place the slices in a large bowl and squeeze some lemon juice over the slices to prevent them from turning brown. Slice the romaine thinly and add it to the bowl along with the remaining salad ingredients. Set aside.

For the dressing, add everything but the water to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add enough water to loosen the dressing so it’s able to be poured. Check for seasoning; you may need a little more salt or lemon juice.

Keep the dressing and salad in the fridge until ready to serve. Right before you dress the salad, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a couple cracks of pepper to the romaine mixture. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to coat everything, making sure not to over-dress the salad. Once the salad is dressed, it must be eaten and cannot be stored in the fridge.

For more recipes, information and meal ideas, visit www.nestleusa.com/balance.

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