Monthly Archives: June 2016

Easy, Healthy Lunches

Take-it-to-Work-Turkey-and-Hummus-Wrap

Many of us lead busy lives, and it can be hard to think ahead and prepare a lunch for the following work day. We often find ourselves ordering take out or getting fast food as a quick solution during our lunch hour. However, if we put some time aside the night before, we can prepare a healthy lunch which can save us time, money and can often provide us with better nutrition as well. Try out some of these easy recipes for lunch.

Hummus Veggie Wrap

Ingredients:
2 whole grain tortillas
4 tablespoon low-fat cream cheese
4 tablespoon hummus
1 small tomato, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
½ cup shredded lettuce or spinach
Salsa

Preparation:
Spread cream cheese on one tortilla and place the second tortilla on top of the first. Spread the hummus on top of the second tortilla. Sprinkle the tomatoes, onions, lettuce/spinach, and salsa on top. Roll up the tortilla and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill to firm and slice in half.

Healthy Burrito

Ingredients:
1 whole grain tortilla
¼ cup beans
2 slices avocado
½ small tomato, chopped
¼ cup shredded lettuce
1 tablespoon shredded low fat cheese
1 tablespoon salsa

Preparation:
Place beans on the tortilla. Top with the avocado, tomato, lettuce, cheese, and salsa. Fold in the sides of the tortilla and roll it up.
You can also add brown rice or other vegetables to the burrito.

Peanut Butter & Jelly

Ingredients:
4 Tbsp peanut butter
1-2 Tbsp Jelly
2 slices whole grain bread
Small bag of celery sticks or baby carrots
1 piece of fruit (apple, banana, etc.)

Preparation:
Spread 2 Tbsp of peanut butter on each slice of whole grain bread. Spread jelly on top and join slices to make sandwich. Have celery sticks/baby carrots and piece of fruit on side.

Turkey and Swiss Pita

Ingredients:
2 slices turkey breast
1 slice Swiss cheese
2-4 slices tomato
1 teaspoon mustard
1 whole grain pita

Preparation:
Stuff whole grain pita with first four ingredients.
You can add other ingredients, such as peppers, onion, leafy greens, etc.

Skin Cancer Warning Signs

It’s summer, and we are all ready for some fun in the sun. But don’t forget the sunscreen. Throughout the year, you should examine your skin from head to toe once a month, looking for any suspicious lesions, even if you practice sun safety. Self-exams can help you identify potential skin cancers early, when they can almost always be cured.

For a successful self-exam, you need to know what you’re looking for. To spot either melanomas or non-melanoma skin cancers (such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma), take note of any new moles or growths, and any existing growths that begin to change significantly in any way. Lesions that change, itch, bleed, or don’t heal are alarm signals.

ABCs of Melanoma

A – Asymmetry: If you were to draw a line through the middle of a mole and the two halves do not match, the mole is asymmetrical, a warning sign for melanoma.
B – Border: The borders of early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.
C – Color: A mole that is a variety of colors is a warning sign of melanoma. A number of different shades of brown, tan, red, or black might appear.
D – Diameter: Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the eraser on your pencil tip (1/4 inch or 6mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.
E – Evolving: Be on the alert when a mole starts to evolve or change in any way. See your doctor if you notice any changes in size, shape, color, elevation, or other traits, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most frequently occurring form of all cancers. Basal cell carcinomas are abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions that arise in the skin’s basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin). Basal cell carcinomas often look like open sores, red patches, pin growths, shiny bumps or scars and are usually caused by a combination of cumulative and intense, occasional sun exposure.

Although basal cell carcinoma rarely spreads beyond the original tumor site to other parts of the body or becomes life-threatening, it should not be taken lightly; it can be disfiguring if not treated promptly.

Recognizing Basal Cell Carcinoma

  • Reddish patch or irritated area, frequently occurring on the face, chest, shoulders, arms, or leg. Sometimes the patch crusts. It may also itch or hurt. At other times, it persists with no discomfort.
  • Shiny bump or nodule that is pearly or clear and is often pink, red, or white. It can also be tan, black, or brown, especially in dark-haired people and can be confused with a normal mole.
  • Pink growth with a slightly elevated rolled border and a crusted indentation in the center. As the growth slowly enlarges, tiny blood vessels may develop on the surface.
  • Scar-like area that is white, yellow, or waxy, and often has poorly defined borders; the skin appears shiny and taut. This warning sign may indicate the presence of an invasive basal cell carcinoma that is larger than it appears on the surface.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. It is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells, which compose most of the skin’s upper layers. Squamous cell carcinoma often looks like scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths with a central depression, or warts; they may crust or bleed. They can become disfiguring and sometimes deadly if allowed to grow.

Squamous cell carcinoma is mainly caused by cumulative ultraviolet exposure over the course of a lifetime. (UV from the sun and from tanning beds)

Squamous cell carcinoma may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes and genitals, but are most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, balding scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs.

Recognizing Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • Persistent scaly red patch with irregular borders that sometimes crusts or bleeds.
  • Elevated growth with a central depression that occasionally bleeds and may rapidly increase in size.
  • Open sore that bleeds and crusts and persists for weeks.
  • Wart-like growth that crusts and occasionally bleeds.

Not sure? See your medical provider. And always wear sunscreen!

(Source: Skin Cancer Foundation)

Getting Enough Sleep?

Often neglected and overlooked, sleep is one of the most essential aspects of good health. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep on average. Many of us simply get too little sleep or our sleep schedule fluctuates widely, depending on the day of week. Take a look at these sleep tips and compare them to what you currently do.

Establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Think about what you can do on a nightly basis to unwind and prepare yourself for bed. This includes the basics like brushing your teeth and so on, but it can also include rituals for closure of the day and calming yourself. Avoid things that stress you out right before bed as well as activities or thoughts that may activate your mind or body too much.

Maintain a consistent time for going to bed and rising. The reality for some of us is that this is not always possible or even desired, but try to limit dramatic schedule changes from day to day. Your internal clock will appreciate a regular schedule as well as limited daytime naps.

Create an environment that will encourage sleep. For most people, this includes a comfortable bed (not the couch in front of the TV) and a dark and quiet room. What is your room like?

Exercise regularly. Physical activity helps just about everything, including your body’s ability to sleep. Activity helps make us more alert in the daytime and contributes to sounder sleep. Note that exercise right before bed might make it hard to fall asleep for some people.

Pay attention to what you ingest prior to bedtime. While coffee might keep you awake during the afternoon, caffeine can disrupt both falling asleep and the quality of sleep because of its effect as a stimulant. The effect of caffeine is long-lasting: try to avoid it for 5-6 hours before sleep (this includes energy drinks, tea and chocolate). Nicotine from cigarettes or tobacco products is another stimulant that can interfere with sleep. Alcohol can be problematic too. Even though alcohol is a sedative, it can cause you to wake up more often and sleep less productively. Finally, eating certain foods or a heavy meal too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep as well.

Understanding Fiber

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. It’s important to have both in your diet, and, luckily, most fiber–rich plant foods contain a mixture of both, although they are not usually differentiated on food labels.

Soluble fiber dissolves or swells when it is put into water. Think of the way oatmeal becomes soft and a bit “gooey” in water, unlike, say, wheat flakes. That softness is a sign that oats are rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber reduces cholesterol levels and helps keep blood–sugar levels stable. Beans, fruits, and oats are especially good sources of soluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber gets its name from the fact that it does not dissolve in water. Like soluble fiber, it is not readily broken down by the bacteria in your intestinal tract. Insoluble fiber increases fecal bulk and is great for preventing constipation. All plants, especially vegetables, wheat, wheat bran, rye, and brown rice are full of insoluble fiber.

Fiber is only found in foods from plants, such as beans, grains, vegetables, and fruit. It passes through the digestive system with very little change. That means that fiber provides few or no calories, in addition to having many health benefits. While maintaining the health of the digestive tract, it also lowers the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. It can help to control appetite, making it easier to keep weight in check.

Other benefits include:

  • Increasing fiber can help decrease the risk of colon and rectal cancers.
  • Diets high in fiber help control blood sugar levels and have also been shown to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Fiber can reduce blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in fiber have also been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease.
  • Fiber decreases the risk of diverticulitis, a painful intestinal condition.
  • Fiber helps prevent constipation.
  • Fiber is filling, has almost no calories, and helps maintain blood sugar—all factors that help control hunger and body weight

How much fiber do you need?

Men 50 and younger: 38 grams per day Men 51 and older: 30 grams per day
Women 50 and younger: 25 grams per day Women 51 and older: 21 grams per day

The average American gets less than 15 grams a day.

Sources of Insoluble and Soluble Fiber

Insoluble:

Whole grains:

Barley
Brown rice
Bulgur
Rye
Whole–grain breakfast cereals
Whole–grain pasta
Whole–wheat breads

Nuts and Seeds

Vegetables:

Carrots
Cucumbers
Zucchini
Celery
Tomatoes

Soluble:

Oatmeal

Bran

Fruit:
Apples
Blueberries
Nectarines
Strawberries

Legumes:

Beans
Lentils
Peas

Tips to increase your fiber intake:

  • Choose oatmeal or a whole–grain cereal every day for breakfast.
  • Eat fruit for dessert.
  • Use beans in chili and soups.
  • Snack on raw vegetables.
  • Replace refined grain products such as white bread, rice and pasta with whole–grain varieties, such as brown rice and whole–grain pastas and breads.
  • Beans are also loaded with fiber. If you are using canned beans, you can reduce their sodium content by choosing reduced–sodium brands or draining the liquid and rinsing the beans before serving them. If you use dried beans, you’ll avoid added sodium, although cooking is usually more time–consuming.

Stretch Anywhere!

You really can stretch anywhere, even at your desk. Try these stretching exercises anywhere to ease back pain and boost energy

  • Stand up and sit down over and over without using your hands
    It can be a challenge!

  • Shrug your shoulders — to release the neck and shoulders
    Inhale deeply and shrug your shoulders, lifting them high up to your ears. Hold. Release and drop. Repeat three times.
    Shake your head slowly, yes and no.

  • Loosen the hands with air circles
    Clench both fists, stretching both hands out in front of you.
    Make circles in the air, first in one direction, to the count of ten.
    Then reverse the circles.
    Shake out the hands.

  • Point your fingers — good for hands, wrist, and forearms
    Stretch your left hand out in front of you, pointing fingers toward the floor. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, pushing your fingers down and toward the body. Be gentle.
    Do the same with the other hand.
    Now stretch your left hand out straight in front, wrist bent, with fingers pointing skyward. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, pulling the fingers back toward your body.
    Do the same on the other side.

  • Release the upper body with a torso twist
    Inhale and as you exhale, turn to the right and grab the back of your chair with your right hand, and grab the arm of the chair with your left.
    With eyes level, use your grasp on the chair to help twist your torso around as far to the back of the room as possible. Hold the twist and let your eyes continue the stretch — see how far around the room you can look.
    Slowly come back to facing forward.
    Repeat on the other side.

  • Do leg extensions — work the abs and legs
    Grab the seat of your chair to brace yourself and extend your legs straight out in front of you so they are parallel to the floor.
    Flex and point your toes five times. Release.
    Repeat.

  • Stretch your back with a “big hug”
    Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and the left hand on your right shoulder.
    Breathe in and out, releasing the area between your shoulder blades.

  • Cross your arms — for the shoulders and upper back
    Extend one arm out straight in front of you. With the other hand, grab the elbow of the outstretched arm and pull it across your chest, stretching your shoulder and upper back muscles.
    Hold. Release.
    Stretch out the other arm in front of you — repeat.

  • Stretch your back and shoulders with a “leg hug”
    Sit on the edge of your chair (if it has wheels, wedge the chair against the desk or wall to make sure it does not roll). Put your feet together, flat on the floor.
    Lean over, chest to knees, letting your arms dangle loosely to the floor. Release your neck.
    Now bring your hands behind your legs, right hand grasping left wrist, forearm (or elbow if you can reach that far), left hand grasping the right. Feel the stretch in your back, shoulders and neck. Hold.
    Release your hands to the floor again.
    Repeat three times or as often as feels good.

  • Look up to release upper body
    Sit up tall in your chair, or stand up. Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers.
    Turn the palms to the ceiling as you lift your chin up, tilt your head back, and gaze up at the ceiling, too.
    Inhale, exhale, release.