Why You Need Good Sleep Hygiene and How to Improve It

Written by Samantha Kent

It’s biologically necessary—sleep—and yet it’s so easy to forget about how important it is. You lose consciousness and wake up eight hours later ready to go. But, that’s not exactly how it all goes down. Both children and adults can struggle to get enough rest. However, no matter your age, healthy sleep hygiene can improve the efficiency of your sleep as well as extend the number of hours you’re getting.

Sleep Hygiene: A Term Worth Remembering 

Sleep hygiene includes everything in your personal habits and behaviors that contribute to the success of your sleep cycle. The food you eat, a nap, your afternoon caffeine boost, size of your dinner, and exercise routine can all influence when and how well you sleep. The more consistent you can be in your behavior from day to day, the more successful your sleep cycle will be.

Before we jump into how to improve your sleep hygiene, we have to consider how much sleep you need¹. Adults require seven to nine hours but a child’s needs change, depending on his developmental stage. Preschoolers need ten to thirteen hours while teens should be getting anywhere from eight to ten with elementary kids falling somewhere in between.

It should also be noted that everyone is not the same. Some children need less sleep than others and some adults need at least nine hours to be at their best. You can gauge your own and your child’s needs by how you feel mid-morning. Though you may be groggy first thing, once you’re awake, you should feel rested. If you’re drowsy or your brain still feels foggy, you may need more sleep than average or you may not be getting as much sleep as you think.

We’ve broken down the areas where you can improve sleep hygiene by the time of day. As strange as it may sound, sleep success starts as soon as your eyes open.

Early Morning Sunshine 

Your morning schedule has more influence over your sleep cycle than you may think. It sets the stage for the rest of your day, laying the groundwork for your nightly sleep cycle.

  • Wake-up Time: A consistent wake-up time creates a predictable schedule that the brain will recognize and follow. It then reduces certain hormones like melatonin and releases others to start the wake-up process. Once the wake-up cycle starts, your body temperature rises, and brain waves change in preparation for full alertness.
  • Exercise: Exercise is good at any time of day, but we generally recommend exercising early rather than later to avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime. Exercise helps fatigue the body and keeps all your systems strong and healthy.
  • Increased Light Exposure: Sunlight is crucial for your circadian rhythms², which control the sleep cycle. The blue light that filters from the Sun through the atmosphere suppresses sleep hormones. That prepares the body to release sleep hormones once light fades and night falls.

Daily Habits

Sleep influencers don’t stop once the afternoon hits. At this crucial time of day, the most important factor to keep track of is your caffeine intake. Caffeine blocks sleep hormones and can stay in your system for several hours. Give yourself at least four hours, though some people will need more time than that, for the caffeine to leave your body.

Energy drinks are especially troublesome for teens. Their high caffeine content can cause issues at an age when teens are already prone to a delayed start to their sleep cycle. These drinks should be avoided starting in the early afternoon.

Food is the other factor to consider in the afternoon. While meal timing³ isn’t quite as influential as light exposure, it plays a part. Try to eat your meals and snacks at regular intervals and at roughly the same time each day. It creates a behavioral pattern that the brain recognizes and follows through to the start of the sleep cycle.

Winding Down the Evening 

As bedtime draws near, it’s important to keep to a regular schedule and prepare your mind and body for sleep.

  • Early, Light Dinner: Dinner can either make or break bedtime. Try to avoid late meals laden with fat or sugar. If you’re prone to heartburn, avoid acidic foods like citrus, tomatoes, and chocolate.
  • A Bedroom Customized to You: Customized sleep means a mattress that suits the sleeper’s preferred position. Side sleepers typically do better on models like memory foam⁴ that conforms to the body. Stomach sleepers need firm support to keep the spine aligned while back sleepers do well with a neutral support mattress. Your weight will also be a factor. The heavier you are the more support you need. People who are on the lighter end of the scale like children may need a softer mattress to sleep comfortably.
  • Lead Into Bedtime: You need time to wind down after a long day and so do kids. As bedtime draws near and before you start the bedtime routine, bring the family activity level down. For kids, puzzles or reading a book might be a good option while dimming the lights and playing quiet music. Avoid watching television, tablets, or using laptops. Their blue spectrum light can suppress sleep hormones.
  • Routine, Routine, Routine: The human body loves routine; that’s all there is to it. A bedtime routine can work wonders for children (and adults) who struggle to fall asleep. The routine helps the brain recognize when to release sleep hormones and provides an opportunity to burn energy and relieve stress. Start the routine at the same time and perform it in the same order every day.
  • Love Your Bedtime: A regular bedtime matters. Just like your wake-up time, the more consistent you are, the easier it is for your brain to correctly time the sleep cycle. Pick a time and stick to it even on weekends.

Conclusion 

Good sleep hygiene is just as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise, both of which contribute to your sleep hygiene, by the way. If you make small positive sleep hygiene changes each day, you’ll soon find that sleep comes easier and lasts longer. Be patient and flexible as you develop routines that work for you and your family.

  1. “How much sleep do I need?”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html.
  2. Duffy, et al. “Effect of Light on Human Circadian Physiology,” Sleep Medicine Clinics. June 2009, 4(2): 165-177.
  3. Wehrens, et al. “Meal Timing Regulates the Human Circadian System,” Current Biology. June 2017, pgs. 1768-1775.
  4. “Best Memory Foam Mattress Reviews,” The Sleep Help Institute. https://www.sleephelp.org/memory-foam-mattress-reviews/.

About Samantha Kent

Samantha Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face.   

Kanye joins other Celebs to bring Health Conditions into Public Consciousness

Written by Joshua Mansour, M.D., Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine

Joshua Mansour, M.D.

Joshua Mansour, M.D.

A special episode of the Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman airing May 31 features Kanye West describing how he manages his mental health, particularly his manic episodes.  Kanye West does a public service proclaiming to the world that he lives with bipolar disorder, a condition in which an individual will experience mania and depression in varying degrees and at different times, with bouts of intense emotional states that can ultimately leave a person feeling helpless.  In doing so, others are more likely to come forward to deal with their depression, mania or other health conditions.

The episode air date wrapped up the final day of National Mental Health Awareness Month, with Kanye describing some of these moments by explaining “you think everyone wants to kill you, you pretty much don’t trust anyone”.  After years of speculation from many fans, especially after being hospitalized previously for “personal issues”, and then in November 2016 for a “psychiatric emergency” after canceling part of his tour West hinted at being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  At that time he experienced an involuntary psychiatric hold which he admits to being “so happy that I experience myself so that I can start by changing the moment”.   In 2018 he then released his album Ye which on the cover which included the phrase “I hate being Bi-Polar it’s awesome”. There are also lyrics throughout his songs in the album which allude to this condition.

Given what he has experienced, the musician has used his platform to discuss this diagnosis.  He has recently described his current stance and involvement in raising awareness by stating “It’s a health issue that has a strong stigma on it and people are allowed to say anything about it and discriminate in any way”.  Many celebrities often times do not speak up to the public about their health issues, as they understandably and deservingly would like to keep certain matters private.

Several other celebrities have been outspoken about what diseases/illnesses have had an impact on their well-being.  There have been a breadth of various diseases that have come to light and celebrities, athletes, and others in the spotlight have found several unique ways to share their information and raise awareness. In a time when society can be fixed on who is wearing the latest dress or suit, it is refreshing that several are using their platform in a different manner.

Larger organizations have as well called to the attention of “awareness”.  The National Football League has continued to support breast cancer awareness during the month of October and the National Basketball Association has now started to raise awareness of again a very important but many times under-discussed topic – mental health awareness.   The continued efforts of larger establishments to use their influence to educate and impact others is necessary and must be sustained.

However, it is important to note that there are times where simply being aware of a celebrities battle can have a different effect on the viewer’s behavior, a phrase coined as the “Angelina Jolie Effect”.  This most notably occurred after her piece in The New York Times discussing results of her BRCA gene testing (having a positive mutation can put an individual at increased risk of certain cancers) leading to her preventative double mastectomy.  In the two weeks following this, there was an over 60% rise in women in the United States undergoing testing for BRCA 1 and 2 genes.  However, it was found these women who had the testing done actually had a lower pre-test probability of having the BRCA mutation.

Another potential downfall can be the several diet “fads” or unproven “medical treatments” that are claimed to be “miracle workers”.  Although in some cases these particular diets or treatments may be beneficial, they should be met with caution.  Awareness about the potential benefits is a good thing, but hastily jumping to conclusions about something that is endorsed by a celebrity “just because”, should be cautioned against.

In the end, having these multiple national awareness days/months and watching or listening to celebrities, athletes, and “influences” opening up about medical issues could be the first step in someone getting checked or asking for help.  The impact of this is more than they even know.  It is humbling to see how there are many who use it in a positive manner.

But there are many health conditions that don’t have their special month and go largely unnoticed.  They even may be viewed as ‘taboo’ – until a celebrity or someone in the media takes a bold step forward to bring it into public consciousness.

About Joshua Mansour, MD:

Dr. Joshua Mansour is a board-certified hematologist/oncologist working and in the field of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and cellular immunotherapy in Stanford, California.  Recently he has managed to have over 10 recent abstracts and over 10 recent manuscripts published in esteemed journals and given countless presentations at conferences and other institutions.  He has helped design and implement clinical studies to evaluate current treatment plans, collaborated on grant proposals, and lead multi-institutional retrospective studies that have been published.

The Best Gift for Father’s Day? Help Dad Live a Long, Healthy Life with the Mediterranean Diet (and These Delicious Recipes)

Written by Amy Riolo, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine

          With Father’s Day just around the corner, most of us are busy planning the perfect present for Dad. The usual gifts of cards, neckties, and watches are nice ideas, but the greatest gift you could give your father is helping him achieve lasting health.

          The best way to show love to your dad on Father’s Day is by making a meaningful contribution to his life. Let your dad know that you love him, and that’s why you want him to live a long, healthy, and happy life. Introducing him to the healthful and delicious dishes from the Mediterranean region is a great way to do just that.

          You’ve likely heard of the Mediterranean diet, which was recently named best overall diet of 2019 and has been shown to help extend your lifespan by roughly a decade. This eating pattern has also been linked to preventing heart attacks, strokes, certain cancers, and diabetes, and reducing inflammation. It may even help lower your risk of dementia by a third.

          The Mediterranean eating pattern centers around seasonal produce, fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy, and small amounts of meat and sweets. Part of what makes this diet so successful is that people in the Mediterranean region consider food to be a friend and ally—a source of pleasure, nutrition, history, medicine, and tradition. When combined with lifestyle choices like communal eating and physical activity, the Mediterranean diet is believed to contribute to remarkable longevity in the region. For example, residents in Sardinia are ten times more likely to live past 100 than people in the United States.

          Father’s Day is the perfect time to help your dad make the lifestyle changes that can give him a longer and more joyful life. Read on for two ways you can celebrate your love for your dad and help him start living a healthier life.

Prepare a delicious Mediterranean-style Father’s Day lunch. Show Dad how much you love him by preparing him a special Father’s Day meal. Offering a lunch that features delicious and healthy Mediterranean-inspired dishes is the perfect way to celebrate with your dad and the rest of your family. Not only is this a great time to enjoy healthy food, it’s also a chance to reap the benefits of communal eating, a long-upheld tradition in Mediterranean communities. Sharing a table and enjoying camaraderie with loved ones provides a sense of comfort, security, and stability. Below you’ll find a tempting lunch menu.

Help him stock a healthy Mediterranean pantry. A well-stocked pantry saves time, money, and stress, and makes it easy to eat more healthy meals. With a full Mediterranean pantry in place, Dad can whip up fresh and delicious dishes in just minutes. For Father’s Day, treat him to a shopping trip and stock his pantry with the basics he’ll need to continue cooking healthy meals. (Please see the attached sidebar for a checklist of essential foods and products you’ll need to stock a ready-to-cook Mediterranean pantry.)

          Ready to start planning an unforgettable Father’s Day feast? Read on for a healthy and delicious menu to share with Dad and the rest of your family.

Moroccan-Style Grilled Tuna (Samak bil chermoula)
Gluten-free

Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 Tuna Steak | Prep Time: 5 Minutes, Plus 1 Hour Marinating Time
and 5 Minutes Resting Time | Cook Time: 10 Minutes

When we think of Moroccan cuisine, lamb, couscous, and tajines usually come to mind. Bordering both the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, however, Morocco offers a wonderful array of flavors from the sea. On our culinary tours to Morocco, we usually stop in a few of the Moroccan coastal towns such as Casablanca, Essaouira, and Tangier in order to sample the North African seafood delights as well as the breathtaking towns themselves.

This recipe features chermoula sauce, a Moroccan classic that tastes great on both chicken and fish. If you prefer to make this dish in the oven instead of grilling it, simply place the fish in a greased baking dish, top with chermoula, cover with aluminum foil, and bake in a 425°F oven for 20–25 minutes, or until cooked through.

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt
1/2 tsp paprika
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 (3 1/2-oz) tuna steaks

In a medium bowl, mix the cilantro, parsley, garlic, salt, paprika, and lemon juice and zest together. Whisk in the olive oil.

Place the fish in a glass baking dish and pour half of the chermoula sauce over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for 1 hour.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grill the fish, turning once, until firm (about 6–8 minutes). Transfer to a platter, spread with the remaining chermoula sauce, and let stand for 5 minutes to absorb the flavors.

Choices/Exchanges 
3 Lean Protein, 1 ½ Fat

Calories 220
Calories from fat 110
Total fat 12.0 g
Saturated fat 2.3 g
Trans fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 40 mg
Sodium 180 mg
Potassium 310 mg
Total carbohydrate 3 g
Dietary fiber 0 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 25 g
Phosphorus 275 mg

Healthy Living Tradition
Marinating seafood, meat, and chicken before grilling it not only flavors it, but is believed to reduce the harmful, potentially cancer-causing substances that can be created by cooking over an open flame.

Grilled Italian Vegetables
Gluten-free, Vegan

Serves: 8 | Serving Size: 1 Cup | Prep Time: 15 Minutes | Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Grilled vegetables are used in a multitude of ways in Italian kitchens. From antipastos to pastas and accompaniments for second courses, you’ll find them everywhere. This dish works very well for buffets.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
2 large red bell peppers
1 small, firm eggplant (about 7 oz), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 small zucchini, trimmed and cut in half

Preheat broiler or grill. Combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, black pepper, and basil in a small bowl. Set aside.

Place whole red peppers over an open flame on a gas grill, or broil under the broiler, until blackened and blistered, about 5–10 minutes.

Place in paper lunch bags and seal shut to enclose steam. After 10 minutes, carefully open the bags (escaping steam can cause burns), remove peppers, peel off the skin, and cut into slices.

Place eggplant and zucchini on a large baking tray and season with remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Broil or grill until golden and tender on both sides, about 5–10 minutes.

When cooked, transfer to a bowl and stir in peppers, pour dressing over, and mix. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Choices/Exchanges 
2 Nonstarchy Vegetable, 1 Fat

Calories 100
Calories from fat 60
Total fat 7.0 g
Saturated fat 1.0 g
Trans fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 120 mg
Potassium 300 mg
Total carbohydrate 8 g
Dietary fiber 2 g
Sugars 5 g
Protein 1 g
Phosphorus 40 mg

Healthy Living Tradition
Leftover grilled vegetables can be used in the Mini Vegetable Frittate recipe (p. 310), stirred into sauces, added to stews, or puréed into a soup.

MangoMiSu (Mango Tiramisu)
Vegetarian

Serves: 8 | Serving Size: ½ Cup |
Prep Time: 5 Minutes, Plus at Least 6 Hours Chilling Time | Cook Time: None

The rich, indulgent flavors of traditional tiramisu are reserved for special occasions in Italy. This version combines yogurt, mango, and cooling cardamom for a light, uplifting treat that is perfect for a healthy indulgence any time of year. Keep in mind that the MangoMiSu needs to set for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight. Peaches and pineapple also work well in this recipe.

12 BelVita breakfast biscuits, golden oat
16 oz fresh mango cubes, or frozen and thawed, divided
2 Tbsp light agave nectar
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups fat-free organic vanilla yogurt, divided
1/2 cup strawberries
8 fresh mint sprigs

Line the bottom of an 8-inch wide bowl with 4–6 biscuits, making an even layer. (You may need to break a few to get them to fit.)

Purée 8 oz mango cubes by placing them in a food processor and processing until liquid. Using a spatula, remove from food processor. Add agave nectar, cardamom, and vanilla to mango purée.

Pour or spoon half of the mango purée over the biscuits. Spoon 1 cup of yogurt over mango purée evenly. Scatter remaining mango cubes over the yogurt, reserving 1 Tbsp for garnish. Sprinkle the strawberries over the mangoes, and top the fruit with remaining 6–8 biscuits.

Pour remaining half of mango purée over the biscuits. Top with remaining yogurt, and smooth out to cover surface. Scatter remaining 1 Tbsp mango cubes over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight or until set.

Serve 1/2-cup portions in small dessert cups. (Alternative plating idea: To plate as 8 individual servings rather than using a large bowl, simply layer 1/8 of each ingredient in a glass dessert dish or wine glass.) Garnish each serving with a mint sprig.

Choices/Exchanges 
2 Carbohydrate, ½ Fat

Calories 170
Calories from fat 30
Total fat 3.5 g
Saturated fat 0.3 g
Trans fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 110 mg
Potassium 230 mg
Total carbohydrate 31 g
Dietary fiber 2 g
Sugars 19 g
Protein 4 g
Phosphorus 85 mg

          Getting healthy and staying that way means adopting a lifestyle that allows you to enjoy more nutritious homecooked meals and share them with the ones you love. There’s no better time than Father’s Day to help your dad make a commitment to eat fresh and delicious foods that will keep him healthy and well for years to come.

Starting a Mediterranean Pantry
Excerpted from The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition: A Flavorful, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking 
(American Diabetes Association, May 2019, ISBN: 978-1-580-40702-1, $22.95)

          A well-stocked pantry saves time, money, and stress when you’re ready to cook. And most importantly, it encourages you to eat healthfully. This essential checklist contains all the ingredients you’ll need to prepare delicious and nutritious Mediterranean-inspired meals.

Items to Stock in Your Pantry
The following items are categorized by where they are found in grocery stores.

Baking
Active dry yeast
Agave nectar
Almond extract
Baking powder
Baking soda
Cocoa powder, unsweetened
Cornmeal
Cornstarch
Flour, all-purpose, unbleached; barley; bread;
chickpea; semolina; spelt; whole-wheat;
whole-wheat pastry
Polenta
Salt, kosher
Sea salt, unrefined
Sugar, natural
Vanilla extract

Beans and Legumes
I prefer using dried beans and legumes, but if you are not used to using them, or might need them to be ready to use in a pinch, I recommend keeping canned varieties on hand as well.

Black beans, canned, reduced-sodium
Cannellini beans, canned, reduced-sodium
Chickpeas, canned, low-sodium
Lentils (brown), canned
or dried, no-salt-added

Herbes de Provence (Dried)
Basil
Lavender
Marjoram
Oregano
Rosemary
Sage
Tarragon
Thyme

Italian Specialty
Anchovy fillets, packed in olive oil
Artichoke hearts, canned
Bread crumbs, plain
Capers, packed in water
Espresso coffee
Ladyfingers
Olives, green, black, Kalamata, Niçoise,
and Gaeta
Roasted red peppers, jar
Tomato paste
Tomato purée
Tomatoes, canned, low-sodium
(diced and fire-roasted)
Tuna, canned, packed in water

Miscellaneous
Dijon mustard
Garlic
Granola, low-fat, almond
Honey

Nuts and Dried Fruit
Almonds, blanched
Chestnuts, jar, whole,
roasted or steamed
Dates
Pine nuts
Pistachios, shelled
Raisins
Walnuts

Oils and Vinegars
Corn or vegetable oil, expeller-pressed
Nonstick cooking spray
Olive oil, extra-virgin
Vinegar, apple cider, balsamic, white, distilled

Pasta and Grains
Bulgur wheat
Couscous
Orzo
Quinoa
Rice, arborio, basmati, medium-grain, wild
Whole-wheat pasta, spaghetti, penne rigate

Spices and Seeds
Allspice
Anise seeds
Caraway seeds
Cayenne pepper
Chili powder
Cinnamon and cinnamon sticks
Cloves, whole and ground
Coriander, ground
Crushed red pepper
Cumin
Fennel seeds
Flaxseeds
Ginger, ground
Green cardamom, ground and pods
Juniper berries
Mint
Nutmeg
Paprika
Peppercorns
Saffron
Seafood seasoning
Sesame seeds
Sumac
Turmeric
Za’atar

Stocks
I prefer making homemade stocks and freezing them for future use. However, it’s also good to keep a few boxes on hand in a pinch.

Chicken stock, reduced-sodium
Vegetable stock, reduced-sodium

Items for the Fridge
(Use local and organic if possible)

Carrots
Celery
Cheese, Parmesan, Romano, mozzarella,
feta, and goat
Eggs

Fresh Seasonal Produce
Herbs, fresh
Lemons
Lettuces, assorted
Milk, skim
Onions
Potatoes
Shallots
Sweet potatoes
Yogurt, plain, fat-free

Items for the Freezer
While I prefer fresh food whenever possible, a well-stocked freezer can help when you are short on time. In terms of nutrition, frozen items (without high-fat ingredients or excess sodium) are often a better option than takeout and delivery items, which can sabotage a healthy lifestyle plan.

Chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
Fish fillets
Phyllo dough
Vegetables, frozen

About the Author: 

Amy Riolo is the author of The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition: A Flavorful, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking (American Diabetes Association, May 2019, ISBN: 978-1-580-40702-1, $22.95). She is an award-winning, best-selling author, chef, television personality, and educator.

A graduate of Cornell University, Amy is considered a culinary thought leader who enjoys changing the way we think about food and the people who create it. Amy is a food historian, culinary anthropologist, and Mediterranean Diet advocate who makes frequent appearances on numerous television and radio programs both in the United States and abroad, including FOX TV, ABC, CBS, NBC, the Hallmark Channel, Nile TV, the Travel Channel, Martha Stewart Living Radio, and Abu Dhabi Television.

For more information about Amy, please visit www.amyriolo.com.

About the Book:
The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, 2nd Edition: A Flavorful, Heart-Healthy Approach to Cooking (American Diabetes Association, May 2019, ISBN: 978-1-580-40702-1, $22.95) will be available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.

4 Stealthy Ways to Keep Your Family Healthy

Living a healthy lifestyle takes effort and diligence, but with common stressors of day-to-day life, health can take a backseat to jobs, social engagements and tempting treats. While adopting more healthful habits may not be top-of-mind for your family, there are some simple and sneaky ways to incorporate them into your family’s routines.

Consider these stealthy tips to sneak more healthy habits into your family’s lifestyle. For more information about creating healthy habits for your pet as well, visit Greenies.com.

  1. Take a Day Trip – Take your family – and your dog – on a visit to a local farmers’ market to take advantage of in-season finds, like fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables. They might think it’s just a fun excursion, but it can actually be an engaging and educational activity that exposes them to the vibrancy and flavor of in-season fruits and vegetables and the nutrients they can add to their diets.

  1. Incorporate Sneaky Snacks – Get creative with everyday snacks to find healthy additions and alternatives. Try adding veggies in your family’s smoothies, such as spinach or carrots, or toast up some granola with honey to cure a sweet and crunchy craving. Don’t forget to include your furry friends in snack time. Treats like GREENIES Dental Chews are enjoyable snacks that can help your pup improve his or her oral care without even knowing it. Pets think they’re just enjoying a tasty treat, but they’re also cleaning their teeth, helping to maintain healthy gums and freshening breath. As an added bonus, they’ll get vitamins and nutrients to support a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Have Fun with Your Meals – Get your family members involved in the kitchen to help prepare nutritious meals and introduce them to good-for-you flavors and recipes. A meal-prepping session can help teach them to enjoy and appreciate healthy ingredients, while learning the process of preparing a healthful meal.While your family interprets the meal as a fun activity, you can reinforce the importance of being conscious of what you’re putting in your body.

  1. Stay Active – Find outdoor activities that you and your family (pets included) can enjoy for regular exercise. Walking your furry friend, playing catch or checking out a new park are easy ways to spend quality time with the family, while sneaking exercise into your day. Plus, bringing your pet along can help him or her expel energy for better behavior at home. (Family Features)

Photos courtesy of Fotolia

SOURCE:
Mars Petcare

Does Losing Weight Mean Having To Go Hungry?

This NYC Millenial Doctor Shares 6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Starve for Weightloss and What to Do Instead.

For many people losing weight is synonymous with restriction and sacrifice. In an effort to acquire the body of their dreams, patients obsess over every calorie and cut too many corners, leaving their body starved and tired. Dr. Niket Sonpal, an NYC Internist and Gastroenterologist, tells us malnourishment is not the key to a healthy lifestyle and could be the “gateway into difficult health problems.”

Dr. Sonpal, who is an Assistant Professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and Associate Director of Brookdale Hospital’s Residency Program, says, “Starving yourself is a technique that quickly backfires on patients. It can cause ma ss to be stored, water to accumulate, and hormone imbalances, among other things. If we aren’t careful about our nutrition and our weight loss, we can end up worse than when we started.”

Hunger is defined by bodily sensations ranging from mild pains in the abdominal region, headaches, mood changes, a decline in energy or light-headedness. These sensations signal the body’s instinct that it needs to replenish energy by consuming food. Biological cues arising from hunger inform the body of what to how to operate some of its essential functions to adapt to your circumstance. Remember though society has evolved tenfold since the first Neanderthals roamed the earth, our biological instincts are still quite similar, and hunger is at the center of how our body assesses its ability to survive. Simply put, if our body is not receiving the energy it needs, it will adapt its functions to survive what it perceives as hard times. During this adapting period, we can undergo mild to serious health implications that run contrary to our overall goals of losing weight and improving our health.

Here are 6 Major Reasons to Refrain from Starving Yourself and what to do instead:

Your Metabolism

Prolonging your body’s state of hunger regularly and for extended periods can cause your system to slow down your energy expenditure during periods of rest. Your Basal Metabolical Rate dictates how much energy your body burns in order to fuel your essential bodily functions while at rest. In the absence of regular and consistent nourishment, your body may begin to store energy, often in the form of fat.

Many people get caught up in an unhealthy obsession with calories. While calorie counting is sometimes necessary to get rid of stubborn fat and techniques like intermittent fasting can help people jumpstart their metabolism. Studies show that for people who are already obese or lack muscle while packing excess body fat, extended periods of hunger can worsen their situation.

To avoid going down the path of starvation and fat storage, start to slowly and sustainably build a schedule and regiment that has you eating high volumes of low calorie and low carb foods. Vegetables and lean proteins are your friends. Instead of eating two or three huge meals, space them out throughout the day with space for small healthy snacks that keep your energy up throughout the day.

Stress and Bingeing

Hunger and stress have an interesting relationship. People come in a great many varieties, and they react to stress differently. However, it is common for stress, in short doses, to decrease appetite. Prolonged stress, on the other hand, can lead people to binge-eat, especially if someone has developed the habit of food-for-comfort over time. Hunger, prolonged periods of fasting, and eating disorders can increase the body’s production of cortisol, known as the stress hormone. This can make you moody, anxious, and uncontrolled. Stress also inhibits our ability to control our appetite, often leading to overconsumption of calories. Once your system becomes overwhelmed with stress, you break, and the result may very well be binge eating.

Instead, focus on eating as healthily as possible without sacrificing the fulfillment of feeling nourished. If you have a craving for sweets or some treat, navigate the situation reasonably. For example, if you are a fan of chocolate, as many of us are, treat yourself to a piece of dark chocolate after dinner. Dark chocolate is an excellent way to get a taste of cocoa without overdoing the sugar. As for your cortisol production, don’t revolve your entire life around dieting and counting calories. Take time to run outside and feel the sun. Working out is a natural stimulant of endorphins, the hormones that help us feel good. Endorphins are also helpful in helping relieve stress and pain.

Your Calorie Intake Helps Dictate Your Calorie Output

As previously mentioned, our bodies burn calories daily to cover our essential bodily functions while at rest. Reducing calories in an extreme way can reduce the number of calories you regularly burn in an extreme way also. This makes it more difficult over time to lose weight, maintain weight, and remain lean. This is especially true for people who are predisposed to having a hard time shedding pounds, such as postmenopausal women and people with a family history of high cholesterol, diabetes, or obesity.

Instead, focus on the quality of your calories. 200 calories of broccoli will not affect your body the same way as 200 calories of ice cream. Giving our bodies an appropriate amount of food at an appropriate amount of calories is key to our metabolic health. The best way to cover our bases on the calorie front and on the hunger front, meaning fulfilling our energy needs while still satisfying our hunger is to eat foods that are high on nutrients, fiber and vitamins.

Hydration is key to your health

In their incessant battle for an “Instagram-worthy” body, people concentrate overwhelmingly on the solid foods they eat and very little on the liquids they drink. Needless to say, our bodies are dependent on water to help keep them regulated, hydrated and refreshed. If we are dieting like madmen while drinking sugary drinks, dairy products, and alcohol all the time, we are essentially counteracting everything we have accomplished at the gym and the dinner table. In other instances, people forget to drink water leading to dehydration and water retention.

Drinking ample amounts of water is also an effective way to send signals to the brain, informing it that you are not on an empty stomach. Drinking water before a meal has been shown to effectively decrease the amount of a person consumes once they sit down to eat.

Keep in mind water is extremely useful in keeping your digestion working properly.

Fiber is your friend

Fiber is a useful tool for staying regulated and healthy. Fiber is interesting because, though it is a carbohydrate, the body is unable to dismantle the nutrient to convert it to a simple sugar molecule. This results in Fiber passing through our gastrointestinal tract accomplishing many beneficial tasks to help us with our diet and health goals. Fiber is a healthy way to increase fullness hormones in the body. For many people who have built up resistance to this hormone, called leptin, this becomes more beneficial as your body becomes leaner and you become healthier. Fiber also helps to keep you full and it shows up in a variety of foods from fruits to vegetables to grains. The versatility of fiber means it is easy to work it into your diet without a lot of stress. Fiber helps fill you up as well without the risk of it staying and accumulating in your body to be processed into fat.

Opt for healthier choices that are rich in fiber, as opposed to processed and sugary drinks with little nutritional value. Because of where fiber is found, odds are the foods you eat to incorporate it into your diet will be full of many other vitamins and nutrients that will help keep your body healthy.

Fat Storage

The term “starvation mode” is incredibly common and if you confess your fasting weight loss methods to a caring friend or family member, odds are they will mention starvation mode as a reason against going hungry.  You may be tempted to roll your eyes and ignore the advice, but your loved one may be right. When we are constantly hungry, skipping meals and only feeding our bodies with one or two big meals a day, even if the meals are mostly healthy the body will do everything it can to store as much fat and nutrients as it can. This is especially true if you eat at inconsistent times of the day. Why? Because the body’s biological clock does not know when its next meal will come and how big that meal will be. So while you go hungry, your body grows anxious and looks for ways to compensate for the insufficient and inconsistent way with which it is fed.

To avoid starvation mode, make sure you are eating consistently and snacking on something natural and healthy between meals. Make sure to never skip breakfast as it jumpstarts your metabolism. Breakfast is also a signal to the body that its overnight fast is now over. It helps to keep track of the times you eat and make an effort to stay relatively consistent when it comes to your eating schedule. This will help alleviate some of the body’s anxieties about being left without food until further notice.

About the Expert

Dr. Niket Sonpal is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and Clinical instructor at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, Brooklyn who specializes in Gastroenterology. He is a graduate of the Medical University of Silesia – Hope Medical Institute in Poland. After completing his residency in Internal Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, he was selected to be the 2013‐2014 Chief Resident at Lenox Hill Hospital–Northshore LIJ Health System. Dr. Sonpal has completed his Fellowship in Gastroenterology & Hepatology at Lenox Hill Hospital and continues his work in the field of medical student and resident test preparation. He now serves as the associate program director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Brookdale University medical center.

He is the co‐author for the best-selling Master the Boards: USMLE Step 2 CK, Master the Boards Step 3, And Master the Boards: Internal Medicine. He is also the Chief Operating Officer for Medquest Test Prep, Director of Medical Education for Picmonic Test Prep, and a recognized expert on medical test prep.

Sedentary Seniors: How To Help Your Loved One Take Charge of Their Health

Written by Karen Weeks, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine

Photo by Pexels

Has your senior loved one become a bit of a couch potato in retirement? It’s not uncommon for people over 65, especially those used to working long, hard hours, to lose their sense of purpose when they first retire. Sometimes they shake it off pretty quickly, but for others things might get worse. This inactivity can spiral into depression, weight gain or chronic health issues.

Talking to a sedentary senior about taking charge of their health can be hard. It’s not an easy conversation to start and, if you aren’t compassionate and sensitive, you can end up causing more harm than good. In some cases, the best way to change behavior isn’t to talk, but to do. Here are five activities you can do with a stagnant senior to help them manage their care and feel empowered in their life.

Reliable Transportation

If your senior loved one can’t easily get around, the barriers to a healthy life are higher than you know. Some seniors, especially those who are unable to drive, can be intimidated by using public transit or feel like a burden if they are frequently asking for rides. Helping them take charge of their health means giving them options for transportation and being there when they first start using different means. Take a few Uber rides with them so they are comfortable with the app and understand how it works. Help them schedule a medical service pickup and wait with them for their first ride so they can rely on you if they feel unsure of what to do.

Healthcare That Makes Sense

Seniors who don’t understand their Medicare plan are often surprised by unplanned out-of-pocket expenses. If your senior is scared of the costs of medical bills, they may not get up and go to the doctor even when they know they should. Help them sign up for the right plan and even do some research together on the benefits of a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans cover gaps in benefits that many seniors need, like vision, dental and more. For example, Medicare Advantage plans offer access to Silver Sneakers fitness programs. These exercise and wellness classes are custom-tailored for the health needs of people 65 and over. Your senior loved one might be more inclined to start one of these programs if it’s covered by their insurance.

Friends Who Care

Senior isolation is a very real and dangerous thing. It’s much more than loneliness or depression, though that is not to say those aren’t serious concerns. But with senior isolation lives are at risk. Did you know that senior isolation leads to an increase in mortality rates? That’s why it’s critical your senior loved one spends time with friends, especially if they live alone. Have them invite their friends to go on walks in botanical gardens, at the zoo, local parks, the mall or just for a stroll in the neighborhood. You can also encourage them to volunteer in their community to help others, while also making new friends.

Try Something New

Retirement is a time for R&R, but those golden years really shine when peppered with a little adventure. Help your senior take charge of their mental and physical health by trying new things with them at least once a month, but preferably once a week. It can be as simple as eating out at a new restaurant or as adventurous as going on a road trip to a new city. Encourage them to sign up for a class where they can learn a new skill, especially in something that might stretch their comfort zone a bit, like technology, art, music or sports.

Taking charge of their health means helping your senior loved one find outlets that are both physically and mentally stimulating, so they get a chance to exercise all the important muscles. Staying young in retirement might not always be easy, but it can always be fun with the right support, encouragement and mindset.

“Backward Workout” for Your Top 3 Trouble Spots

Pilates moves from celebrity trainer Kit Rich takes a “back to front” approach

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Just like your mother told you: beauty is on the inside. Your transverse abdominus to be exact. Pilates takes a “backward” approach to the core and overall conditioning, focusing on the muscle groups around your spine and deepest muscle groups to get the bikini-ready abs you’ve always wanted. Now celebrity trainer and Pilates expert Kit Rich shares Pilates moves that literally starts from the back to create the body of your dreams, with a workout designed to tame and tone the top three areas her clients ask for while building flexibility and strengthening the back of the body. 

Most people take the direct approach to their trouble spots, focusing on just one area instead of creating an evenly conditioned body inside and out. “There’s no such thing as spot reducing,” says Kit. “You can’t crunch your way to beautiful abs.” Kit, who frequently is on set with her clients, has developed KICHGOa big gym in a little bag that weighs less than two pounds and fits inside your backpack, purse or suitcase and makes the moves below easy to do anywhere, anytime. 

Request: Tone my arms

Great arms start from the back—toning your lats (the biggest muscle in your back) and triceps. In the cell phone era and with people spending more time in their cars, we’re hunching over, weakening the muscles in our back and the back of the neck and seeing tightness in the front of the chest. To get the arms you want, you have to emphasize the back and triceps to not only tone and strengthen, but also improve your posture and strengthen your neck. As you lengthen your spine and stand up straighter, everything tightens up and snaps into place. 

Overused move: Push-ups, which don’t do anything for posture or strengthening the neck.

Pilates moves: 

  • Pulling straps and T straps 
  • Pilates pullups 
  • Chest expansion
  • Tricep kickbacks
  • Swimming (mat move) 

Request: Lift and tone my butt

The muscle systems work together, so you have to work the entire leg muscle system as well as your glutes to get the butt you want. It’s especially important to do isolation exercises for hamstrings and quads, which are often overlooked. 

Overused move: Jump squat and squats, which are effective but lead to overactive quads and underactive glutes and hamstrings.

Pilates moves: 

  • Lying hip raises (lifting hips up and down on your back)
  • Single-leg hip raises
  • Pilates side leg series
  • Side leg sweeps
  • Clams

Request: Flat lower abs

By far the most requested—and most misunderstood—fitness target area and the “core” of the Pilates system. Pilates works “in and up by flattening the lower abs rather than pushing up or protruding out.” The first thing to know is that “abs” are actually a set of muscles with different layers. Beautiful abs depend on the deepest ab muscles, the transverse abdominus below your belly button and above your pubic bone, but traditional weight training focuses on the rectus abdominus, the superficial ab muscles. To get the tight, lean look you want you need to focus on the strengthening deep below the surface. 

Overused move: Crunches, too many of them without proper form and awareness.

Pilates moves: 

  • Pilates series of 5
  • Pilates toe taps
  • Side series on the box
  • Pilates short box series (round, flat, up and over, side reach)
  • Pilates reformer or Pilates Wunda chair (tendon stretch) 

6 Ways to Help Your Dog Maintain Calm Behavior

Summer can be a stressful time of year for dogs who experience anxious behaviors, with triggers like fireworks, thunderstorms, summer travel and more taking a toll on pets. While you may not be able to prevent your pet’s anxious behaviors entirely, there are ways you can ease your dog’s apprehension and manage the behavior it can potentially cause.

In a survey* by Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements, 62% of dog owners reported seeing regular anxious behaviors in their dogs, such as excessive barking, compulsive jumping and shaking or trembling. Yet 35% of owners surveyed believe their dogs’ personalities are among the primary causes of concerning behaviors.

“It’s important to talk to your veterinarian if your dog is displaying undesirable behaviors,” said Jason Gagne, DVM, DACVN and director of veterinary technical communication for Pro Plan Veterinary Diets. “What might be perceived as a characteristic of a particular breed or part of a dog’s personality could really be an anxious behavior that needs attention.”

Gagne suggests pet owners take these steps to help keep pets comfortable and calm.

Start preparing early

For stressful situations near your home, such as fireworks, help prepare your dog by exposing him or her to recorded firework or thunder sounds. Begin training several months in advance and gradually increase the volume while rewarding your dog for maintaining calm behavior.

Create a safe space

Prepare a special area in your home where your dog can feel safe and secure during noisy instances. If crate trained, your dog may feel most secure there with a favorite toy to stay occupied. If not crate trained, put the bed in a quiet place during fireworks or thunderstorms, close the windows and play some music to help muffle sounds.

Consider a probiotic

Pay your vet a visit to discuss your dog’s behavior and see if he or she could benefit from a probiotic that’s been shown to help dogs maintain calm behavior, like Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements Calming Care. This probiotic supplement, available through veterinarians, also helps dogs maintain positive cardiac activity during stressful events, promoting a positive emotional state. It may take up to six weeks to see results, so give yourself plenty of lead time.

Make your dog comfortable

Giving your dog a special treat or favorite toy during a potentially upsetting event might help establish a positive association with these loud noises. Calming wraps may help for some dogs, too. Like swaddling for infants, these may help your dog feel secure during stressful situations.

Make car travel a positive experience

If car rides bring out your dog’s anxious behaviors, get him or her used to the idea of car travel before summer road trips. Use a crate or dog carrier that’s large enough for your dog to lay down comfortably. Use a reward such as a favorite treat or interactive toy to get him or her excited to get in the car and crate before taking a trip.

Stay calm

Pets look to their owners for reassurance, so showing them a calm, relaxed demeanor helps them understand there is no real danger.

For more information, visit Purina.com or speak to your veterinarian.

*The survey data was collected by Relevation Research via an online survey from Aug. 15-19, 2018. Eight-hundred-twenty-six nationally representative dog owners qualified for and completed the survey. Qualified participants were men and women age 18 and older, owned one or more dogs (age 13 months or older), were household members most responsible for taking the dog(s) to a veterinarian and had taken the dog(s) to a veterinarian in the past 12 months. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Purina

Parents, Are You Too Overwhelmed to Recognize Your Kids’ Mental Health Crisis?

Written By Dr. Mark Goulston 

It’s no secret that there’s a mental health crisis in today’s youth. Depression and anxiety are rampant, and suicide is now the second-leading cause of teen death. Parents are the first line of defense for recognizing suffering in their kids. But when parents themselves are overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed, they can miss warning signs that their children are at risk.

It’s hard enough for parents to pick up on their teens’ suffering under the best of circumstances. But when parents are immersed in their own stress and inner chaos, their kids’ problems are much harder to detect.

On top of that, when parents have no more psychological room for pain and anxiety, they may engage in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” game with their teens.

Parents avoid asking how their teens are really doing, because their plates are already full. If parents asked and got an alarming reply, they would have to drop everything. It’s not that they don’t love and care about their kids. They just don’t have time to deal with it. Meanwhile, teens don’t want to burden anxious parents (or confront their own pain) and so they suffer silently.

This collective suffering is why the message of new documentary Stay Alive (available here on YouTube), which serves at-risk populations, is so important. (#StayAliveNow). The documentary, featuring suicide survivor Kevin Hines and suicide prevention advocate Rayko, delivers messages of education, compassion, and caring for those who are in deep despair, along with guidance for their families and friends who love them.

The first step to being more available for your kids is to improve your mental health. And since May is Mental Health Month, now is a great time for a mental health check. These six questions can help you assess your own mental health:

1. In the past week, have you felt overwhelmed and thought, I can’t handle any additional stress?

2. In the past week, how often have you felt overwhelmed with no room to listen to more upset? (Rarely, somewhat, frequently, constantly)

3. In the past week, have you felt alone in handling all the responsibilities you have and stress you feel?

4. In the past week, how often have you felt alone in handling all the responsibilities you have and stress you feel? (Rarely, somewhat, frequently, constantly)

5. In the past week, have you withdrawn from the people around you because you couldn’t take any additional stress?

6. In the past week, have you felt guilty or ashamed at not being the patient, listening, and compassionate parent that your child needs and you want to be?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above and are feeling too overwhelmed, find someone you can talk to to help you feel some relief and make room to be able to listen to your child’s hurt, fear, anger, and pain. If you have no one to talk to, consider keeping a journal. Your feelings are important too, and writing them down will help you process some of what you are experiencing and feeling.

You owe it to yourself and your kids to become your very best self today. And when you’re in control of your mental health, you can really be there for them and help them thrive.

If you or someone you love needs help, call 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. 

Dr. Mark Goulston

Dr. Mark Goulston

About Dr. Mark Goulston:

Dr. Mark Goulston is the co-creator and moderator of the suicide prevention documentary Stay Alive. He is a former UCLA professor of psychiatry, FBI hostage negotiation trainer, suicide and violence prevention expert, and one of the world’s foremost experts on listening. He is the author of the best-selling “Just Listen”: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone, which became the top book on listening in the world. Dr. Goulston’s HBR IdeaCast episode Become a Better Listener is ranked number one of all their podcasts. He is also host of the My Wakeup Call podcast. Dr. Goulston is on the Board of Advisors for HealthCorps and is the recipient of the Dr. W. Mark Warfel Resilient Heart Award.

For more information, visit Dr. Goulston’s website at www.markgoulston.com. 

About the Producers:

Producers Frank Kilpatrick (www.frankikmusic.com) and Linda Kilpatrick, along with director PaulEmami(www.storytellerz.tv), partnered withMark, Kevin, and Rayko to create Stay Alive to express the purpose of helping you or someone you love to find their way out of despair. We hope this video is a helpful catalyst for having conversations about those at risk or even with yourself. If you or anyone you know has been touched by suicide and is feeling isolated, we hope you find the video valuable and share it with others.

About Stay Alive (#StayAliveNow):

Stay Alive is a 75-minute video/podcast documentary serving at-risk populations. The program’s two sections, Understanding and Helping, deliver messages of education, compassion, and caring for those who are in deep despair, along with guidance for their families and friends who love them. Stay Alive is recommended for individuals, families, schools, communities, social services, and churches—anywhere there is a need. Moderated by Mark Goulston, MD, participants in Stay Alive’s intimate and disclosing discussion also include Kevin Hines, best known as the man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived (www.kevinhinesstory.com), and suicide prevention advocate Rayko (www.rayko.com). #StayAliveNow 

Stay Alive is available hereon YouTube, and will be available on Amazon Prime Video and other distribution channels free of charge.

For more information, please visit www.stayalivevideo.com.

 

Sensational Salads

Add fruits, veggies to meals for plant-forward nutrition

Adding more fruits and vegetables is one of the simplest ways to make at-home meals healthier for your family.

Focusing your plate on more of the good stuff – vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, plant-based proteins, lean animal proteins and fish – can help you cut back on the not-so-good stuff, including refined carbohydrates, added sugars, processed meats, sodium and saturated and trans fats, according to the American Heart Association.

While some may think meat makes the meal and it can be part of an overall healthy eating pattern, a survey from Aramark, the largest U.S. based food service company, found many people want to ease up on meat consumption, and 2 out of 3 want to eat more fruits and vegetables. The company made sweeping changes to incorporate more plants into its menus, resulting in meals with fewer calories, less saturated fat and reduced sodium.

Punching up the plants on your plate can lead to better nutrition in your house, too. Try putting vegetables and fruits center-stage with these heart-healthy salads.

To help encourage healthier communities, the American Heart Association and Aramark have made it simple for you to learn better nutrition and lifestyle habits and to share that information. For more recipes, tips and resources, visit heart.org/healthyforlife.

Make the Most of Seasonal Fruits and Veggies

For many people, warmer weather means more time outdoors and food cooked on the grill. To help make your meals more nutritious, consider these ideas to choose, store and enjoy warm-weather fruits and veggies:

Corn

Straight from the cob, sweet corn is packed with fiber and antioxidants and can be grilled, boiled or even microwaved. Try tossing it with a small amount of light mayonnaise, lime juice, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper for a simple version of Mexican Street Corn.

Cucumbers

Prep is a breeze with cucumbers, which can be eaten raw with or without the peel. For a no-fuss salad, toss together cucumbers, onion and fresh dill then add a dash of sugar, salt and pepper plus a splash of cider vinegar.

Tomatoes

Full of nutrients, including vitamins A and C and the antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes are a popular option for seasonal dishes. Store them stem-up on the counter, rather than in the fridge, to prevent bruising and enhance the flavor.

For more ways to introduce fruits and veggies to fresh, seasonal meals, visit Aramark’s wellness blog at fyp365.com.

Tangy Kale Slaw with Cilantro and Honey

Recipe courtesy of Aramark

Servings: 6

  • 2          tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1          tablespoon light mayonnaise
  • 1          tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons cilantro leaves, washed and chopped
  • 1          teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/4       teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8       teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2          cups kale leaves, washed, shredded and stems removed
  • 1/2       cup red cabbage leaves, washed and shredded
  • 1/2       cup carrot, trimmed and shredded
  • 1/4       cup green onion, trimmed and thinly sliced
  1. In bowl, combine vinegar, mayonnaise, honey, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Whisk until well blended.
  2. Add kale, red cabbage, carrot and onion. Toss to coat.
  3. Cover and keep chilled prior to serving.

Nutritional information per serving: 40 calories; 1 g protein; 1 g fiber.

Watch video to see how to make this delicious recipe!

Black-Eyed Pea, Corn and Rice Salad

Recipe courtesy of the American Heart Association

Servings: 6

  • 2          cans (15 1/2 ounces each) no-salt-added or low-sodium black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1          can (15 1/4 ounces) low-sodium or no-salt-added whole-kernel corn
  • 1          package (8 1/2 ounces) brown rice, microwaved according to package directions and broken into small pieces
  • 2          medium ribs celery, chopped
  • 1          medium bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4       cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1          tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1          tablespoon water
  • 1/8       teaspoon black pepper
  1. In large bowl, stir peas, corn, rice, celery, pepper, parsley, olive oil, water and black pepper until combined.

Nutritional information per serving: 231 calories; 10 g protein; 7 g fiber.

Simple Persian Salad

Recipe courtesy of the American Heart Association

Servings: 4

  • 2          medium cucumbers, seeded and diced
  • 4          medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1          medium red onion, diced
  • 1/4       cup chopped fresh mint or parsley
  • 2          tablespoons fat-free feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2          medium limes, juice only
  • 1          tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2       teaspoon black pepper
  1. In bowl, stir cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, mint and feta. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes.
  2. In small bowl, whisk lime juice, oil and pepper until well blended.
  3. Pour dressing over salad, tossing gently to coat.

Nutritional information per serving: 88 calories; 3 g protein; 3 g fiber. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
American Heart Association/Aramark