Back to School & Work a Little Healthier

by Tracy Hammons on August 12, 2016

IMG 0877 e1471007075192 224x300 Back to School & Work a Little Healthier Why this pic? These kids know how to MOVE! We can learn a lot from them!

 

Back to school is rushing at us like a freight train! It’s time to remind our kiddos – and ourselves – of a few basic things that will help prevent some of the health issues that always crop up at this time of year.

It’s easier to be healthy at home on your own time, especially the summer time. You have more control over your environment. You can make a healthy lunch. You can exercise freely. Even when you don’t want to, you really can get up off the couch and move around whenever you want.

But then life happens. School and work and after school demands may leave you feeling like healthy living is out of your control. You have to deal with things like having to touch a what seems like hundreds of germy door handles on the way to work, spending lunch hours eating with one hand while working with the other, and pulling college-era all-nighters to finish a project or deadline. 

There’s some steps you can take, and teach your children to take, that can help you stay healthy.

An Ounce of Prevention

For most of us, going to work or school means more people, and more contact with them. Learning together, working together, and having fun together is great, but the other thing that happens in bigger groups is a higher incidence of spreading germs.

Now, we’re not trying to make you a germophobe. Too much hand sanitizer, keeping little Johnny from playing in dirt, and keeping kids (and ourselves) away from anything that resembles a germ can sometimes create its own issues. But I digress. Germs are everywhere, and some of them can cause colds or flu. How can you protect your kids and yourself?

The A #1 Most Awesome Way to Help Stop the Spread of Germs

Washing your hands regularly is one way to protect yourself and those around you. Frequent hand-washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness. It can help limit the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes. It’s far more efficient than just using hand sanitizers.

If you do get sick, follow these steps to help avoid spreading it:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash. Sneeze or cough into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue. Please, please, don’t use your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. It’s easy for germs to get in that way.
  • Clean the surfaces around you at work and at home with a disinfectant. Be sure to follow the product directions. And wash your hands after you use them. They’re great on surfaces, they don’t belong on your skin.

Get a Move On!

What’s another way to keep our families healthy? MOVE. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the average American sits more than 7 hours a day.

Sitting for extended periods of time:

  • Increases the risk for cardiovascular disease
  • Increases the risk for diabetes
  • Increases fat storage
  • Increases the risk for metabolic syndrome

Taking breaks during the day to move around can help you stay healthier. And mild exercise, like walking, has been shown to help lessen stress, reduce fatigue and boost your mood. Taking martial arts, fitness kickboxing, or Krav Maga takes it to an even higher level!

It’s good for your brain, too. And Lord knows, I need all the help I can for my brain! Moving for as little as 1-2 minutes each hour can “light up” your brain. Taking a break can even make you more productive! Studies show that taking a short break allows you to refocus for longer periods.

Try some of these suggestions, and teach them to your kids. There’s never a better time than now to start building good habits.

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a little farther away on purpose.
  • Get up at least once per hour to walk around. Walk to the water cooler for a refill. Once kids start changing classes in school, this becomes a no-brainer.
  • Stand up and stretch at your desk either at work or when at home working on homework. Teachers might not like this suggestion in their classroom – I’m picturing Whack-a-Mole right now…
  • Use a speaker or mobile phone and pace during calls. Or Pokemon Go after work, because you gotta catch ‘em all.
  • Schedule a walking meeting with your coworkers or stand during meetings. Take a walk with the family after dinner and talk about the day.
  • Go to someone’s office instead of sending an email.Teach your kids to walk and find you instead of texting you. From the other room in the house. Or from the SAME room in the house.
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Wonderful Avocados!

by Tracy Hammons on March 9, 2014

avocado big1 Wonderful Avocados!

A 3 pound avocado? Yep, some varieties get that huge! Most of the avocados we are familiar with are much smaller, of course, but this is one of those superfoods that deserves a little attention.

I realized how much I didn’t know about this amazing fruit (yep, fruit) when I read about it being the fruit of a treeavocado 300x225 Wonderful Avocados! that can grow up to 65 feet high. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if one of those 3 pound avocados grew at the top of one of those tall trees, but I digress…

A couple of the great antioxidants we get when we eat spinach and carrots – lycopene and beta-carotene – are absorbed at significantly higher rates when combined with avocado. That’s a great reason to add avocado to our salads.

Not only that, avocados contain a spectacular array of carotenoids. Many of the popular carotenoid containing food are the bright oranges and red colors we add to our healthy plates, but the distinctive green avocado demands its rightful place as well. Researchers believe that avocado’s amazing carotenoid diversity is a key factor in the anti-inflammatory properties of this vegetable. Not only that, but carotenoids are high in Vitamin A and have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and eye degeneration.

To get a bit nerdy for just a minute, check out this list of carotenoids found in avocados: beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, neochrome, neoxanthin, chrysanthemaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and violaxanthin. Even if you don’t know what they all do, you just have to be impressed that this little powerhouse has all that good stuff!

What about other nutritional benefits? It has a full range, from cholesterol management and high fiber content to alleviating arthritis and potentially lessening the side effects of chemotherapy.

Need more? OK!

Vitamin E: Vitamin E packs an antioxidant punch, protecting body tissue from damage by disabling free radicals (groups of unpaired atoms in the body that can lead to cancer or heart disease). It’s also vital to red blood cell formation — another plus, since these cells are responsible for circulating oxygen and getting rid of waste.

Vitamin B6: Among other awesome functions, Vitamin B6 (aka pyridoxine) assists with the body’s formation of glycogen (that’s your back-up fuel that’s stored in your liver and muscles) and promotes skin health (remember all those avocado moisturizer recipes you’ve seen? Makes sense now.)

But wait! Aren’t avocados high in fat? The answer is yes, but it’s GOOD fat and the answer goes much deeper than that. We have gone far overboard in demonizing fat. Our brains and bodies need good fats to operate optimally.

First, the fats in avocado are phytosterols and are key supporters of our bodies anti-inflammatory system. As a matter of fact, the anti-inflammatory properties are so notable that multiple studies have shown benefits even related to arthritis. Second are the PFAs (polyhydroxylated fatty acids) found in avocados, a wonderful anti-inflammatory properties that are usually only found in ocean plants. Finally, over half the fat in avocados is from oleic acid, helping increase absorption of fat-soluble nutrients and lower risk of heart disease.
And yes, there’s a ditch on the other side too. You don’t want to eat too much of a good thing, just like our other nutritionally dense high fat foods like walnuts, olive oil, and coconut oil. Quantity-wise, most experts recommend enjoying roughly half a Haas avocado each day.

Although there are dozens of varieties of avocados, the Hass is by far the most popular type in the United States. 95% of all avocados grown in the US are produced in California, the home of the Haas variety. They are most abundant in the spring and summer in California. In October, Florida grown varieties pop up on many shelves.

AvocadosVarieties 0 300x225 Wonderful Avocados!

The first step of adding avocado to a healthy diet (and perhaps the most daunting one) is knowing which fruit to pick. A good rule of thumb is to buy the fruit when it’s firm, and let it ripen for a few days before eating. To know when the avocado is ready to eat, squeeze it lightly. It should still be somewhat firm, but with enough give that a knife could smoothly cut through it.

You can also check the ripeness of an avocado by removing the small stem and looking to see if it’s green underneath. If it’s ripe, the stem will come off easily. I have also read that leaving the stem on actually helps it stay fresher longer, but I’m still experimenting with that one. What that means to me is buying them purposefully with the stem on to improve my odds of not finding that over-ripe one.

One more neat trick – if you do only eat half of an avocado, leave the pit in the other half to refrigerate – it keeps it fresher longer!

Thanks to its versatility, avocado can easily be used on a sandwich, as a dip or salsa, in chilled soup, in a salad, in sushi, with an omelet, or even just right out of its skin! And even though we know that avocado can be so much more, don’t forget the guacamole!

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Sausage Stuffed Veggie Boats

December 7, 2013

This started out as many of my recipes do, and morphed into something a little different! I have seen so many recipes for Zucchini boats, and I’ve never tried them! This is now one of my faves, I hope you enjoy it! Zucchini hollowed out and stuffed with chicken Italian sausage and veggies then topped […]

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5 Great Reasons to Drink More Water

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  5 Great Reasons to Drink More Water Pure, crystal clear water is a beauty serum that can’t be equaled. So much of our bodies are water, we have to keep it replenished to keep it operating at its best! Water makes you wiser. OK, that’s a stretch. But it is necessary for your brain […]

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Martial Arts Can Help

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  My mothers heart is troubled this morning. It started with an innocent enough phone call at the martial arts school yesterday. Just calling to see if a student could be scheduled to get their photo taken at the martial arts school. Mom answered the phone, and she could be any of us. Instead of […]

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