Don’t Fry Day

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Don’t Fry Day is a national health observance day—it is to be observed the Friday before Memorial Day to educate the public about skin cancer. As warm weather approaches, the risk of Ultraviolet rays damaging your skin increases. Skin cancer is a serious matter—more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. Sadly, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70 and every hour someone dies of skin cancer. What can we do to prevent these staggering statistics?

Here are some general tips to help prevent skin cancer, including nutrition tips!

  1. Wear long-sleeved clothing when sun is the strongest (between 10 a.m. p.m.). If you think it is too hot for long sleeve, linen clothes are very light-weight. Also consider athletic dry-wicking clothing. There are even clothes that have UV protection built in!
  2. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses throughout summer.
  3. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher
  4. Get your vitamin D safely through a healthy diet. Dairy products, egg yolks and fatty fish are all good sources of vitamin D.
  5. Eat sun-protective food. Yes, some foods help, here are just a few:
  • Eat foods rich in lycopene, like watermelon, grapefruit, cooked tomatoes, tomato sauce, or chili powder. Studies show that lycopene helps protect against the sun!
  • Load up on broccoli. Broccoli, especially the florets, is a good source of sulforaphane, a compound that reduces the risk of skin cancer.
  • Eat pomegranates. Pomegranates are well known to contain tons of antioxidants and known as sun-protective. Some scientists say they can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Click here to learn how to prepare a pomegranate or drink pomegranate juice!
  • Fill up on flaxseed. Omega 3 fatty acids in flaxseeds can protect your skin from sunburn, reduce additional inflammation if sunburn occurs, and fight against skin cancer. According to the National Institute of Health, flaxseed oil can protect your skin against UV rays and keep your skin moisturized so it won’t dry out, as well as fight against skin cancer. Make a salad dressing using the oil or add some in your morning smoothie!

Summer is the season of fun and we’re meant to enjoy the sun…just go about having fun in the sun smartly by applying the tips above. Don’t fry today or at all this summer!

 

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Beat the Candy Attack with Your Own Healthy Trail Mix

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It happens every year; your kids go trick or treating; your office mates’ kids go trick or treating and candy dishes abound everywhere! Your candy of choice calls out your name. For some its peanut butter cups, for others its Smarties or tootsie rolls. Whatever candy it is, it’s going to sabotage your nutrition goals! Fear not because I have a sweet, healthy and delicious solution for you! Make your own trail mix!

Common Components you can use in your Trail Mix:

Nuts:

These nutritional dynamos are loaded with healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, and other essential vitamins and minerals. These should be the base of your trail mix.

Whether they’re raw or roasted, go for unsalted, unsweetened nuts to keep sugar and sodium under control.

Some of my favorites are: almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts.

Seeds:

For those with nut allergies (or just looking to mix things up), seeds provide many of the same nutritional benefits as nuts. Hemp seeds, and Chia seeds for example, are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, gamma linolenic acid, protein, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Sprinkle a handful of pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax, or hemp seeds in trail mix for an extra boost of nutrients.

Grains:

Add some complex carbohydrates to your custom blend for extra fiber, which boosts overall energy and helps to keep you full .

Choose whole grains whenever possible and avoid highly processed cereals that add unnecessary sugar and sodium.

Shredded wheat cereal, pretzels, whole-grain cereals like cheerios or chex, bran flakes, whole-wheat crackers, granola, toasted oats, puffed rice cereal, and air-popped popcorn can all add a little bit of crunch.

Something Sweet:

Lastly, t’s totally acceptable to have a little something sweet in your trail mix. This will help deter you from the candy bowl.

Dried fruit can be a great source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K.

Look for dried fruit options with as little added sugar and preservatives as possible.

Dried apples, cherries, cranberries, goji berries, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, raisins, banana chips, figs, pineapple chunks, mango, and dates.

Dark chocolate chips are a good source of antioxidants.

And once in a while, don’t fret adding a little bit of M&Ms.

Some of My Favorite Combos:

Hiking Power:

  • ALMONDS
  • WALNUTS
  • DRIED CRANBERRIES
  • ORGANIC TYPE OF CHERRIOS
  • CASHEWS
  • PECANS
  • RAISINS

Peanut Butter Lovers:

  • BANANA CHIPS
  • PEANUT BUTTER CHIPS
  • PEANUTS, ALMONDS
  • DARK CHOCOLATE CHIPS

Movie Night:

  • POPCORN
  • PEANUTS
  • M&MS
  • DRIED CRANBERRIES

Try some of these combos and make some unique signature recipes. You have so many options! It’s a great way to defeat the candy bowl and also the holiday sweets that are around the corner. I suggest making little baggies of them to bring to work, carry in your purse, etc. It is possible to overindulge so be careful not to do that. Depending on the ingredients< I recommend ½ cup to ¾ cup serving.

 

 

 

 

 

My Top 10 Hacks for Holiday Baking

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Baking

My busy schedule doesn’t allow much time for baking, but I do love making sweet treats for my friends and family. Shhhh…little do they know that these sweet treats are actually healthy. Here are some tricks that I use:

  • I always replace sour cream with Greek yogurt. This cuts down the calories big-time; it’s especially delicious in coffee cake!
  • Replace oil with applesauce. For every 1 cup f oil the recipe calls for, use ¾ cups of applesauce. Make sure you use unsweetened apple sauce!
  • Decrease the sugar, increase the spice! I always decrease the sugar in holiday recipes and increase the cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg. Works like a charm to create amazing without being intolerably sweet!
  • If you insist on very sweet treats, at least use natural sugars like maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey.
  • Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour. Whole wheat flour doesn’t go through the crazy refining flour that white flour does; white flour is bleached too…ewwww! Whole wheat has more fiber and more nutrients.
  • Or try gluten-free flours. Many people are discovering that they can’t tolerate gluten so well so try some gluten-free whole grain flours like brown rice flour, millet flour or gluten-free oat flour.
  • Add nutrient-dense foods. I sometimes sneak in some ground flaxseeds or chia seeds to boost the healthy fat, fiber, and protein content of baked goods.
  • Use lower fat dairy products. I always use 2% milk instead of whole milk in my baking or “light” cream cheese instead of full-fat cheese and the difference isn’t even noticeable.
  • Baked banana-based cookies or muffins. Bananas are so nutritious and so sweet. I call them the “cake of fruit.” Most recipes that call for banana tend to be at least semi-healthy. If the recipe calls for unhealthy additional ingredients, use some of the hacks I described above.
  • Last, but definitely not least, if you do not have time for healthy baking and aren’t so precise with measuring, try a healthy mix. I recently fell in love with Among Friends Baking Mixes. Their cookie and brownie mixes are to-die for. Best of all, they’re healthy and are made with whole grains. There are several gluten-free mixes you can try too.

I hope these hacks help you.

 I close this blog with a giveaway! There are several ways you can get entries to win an alec-package-and-brownie-2Among Friends Baking holiday baking kit that we have put together.

The kit contains:

Here are the ways you can enter the giveaway.

  • Comment on this blog with your favorite holiday baking tip for two entries to the giveaway.
  • Like the giveaway on Facebook for one entry.
  • Share the giveaway on Facebook for one entry.
  • Comment on the giveaway on Facebook for one entry.
  • Retweet the giveaway for one entry.
  • Like the giveaway on Instagram for one entry.

All of these entries must be submitted by noon on Friday December 16. The winner will be announced later that evening!

 

Food Choices to Reduce your Risk of Breast Cancer

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salmon fillet with vegetables and basil

Approximately one in eight women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.  And sadly, the death rate for women with breast cancer is higher than any other form of cancer except for lung cancer. While there is not a food recommendation that can guarantee that you will not develop breast cancer, I will discuss some food choices that will help keep your risk for breast cancer as low as possible.

#1: Eat Plenty of Fruit and Vegetables

Aim to eat at least five cups of vegetables and fruit a day. A recent study has found that carotenoids (nutrients) in fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Make those salads as colorful as possible; experiment with fruit and veggie combos (spinach, strawberry and a sprinkling of feta cheese; diced tomatoes, avocados, and mangoes; arugula, pecans, pears, and dried cranberries). The more colorful your fruits and veggies diet, the more variety of powerful carotenoids!

#2: Load up on Fiber

A study of 99,534 women, published earlier this year, found that those who ate more fiber in early adulthood had up to a 19% lower risk of developing breast cancer, depending on how much more fiber they ate. Some great high-fiber food choices include: apples, pears, berries, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, oats, almonds, chia seeds, and sweet potatoes.

#3: Eat Foods High in Omega=3 Fatty Acids

Several studies have suggested that the higher your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, the lower your chances of getting breast cancer. Fish is the greatest source of omega-3s. If you are not a fan of fish, consider a fish oil supplement. Other food choices that have an attractive amount of omega-3s include flaxseeds and walnuts, both of which I love adding to a bowl of oatmeal!

When you are deciding what to eat, think of the return on investment you get when you make healthy food choices. Not only does that choice help you to maintain a healthy weight, but also, it may be helping to reduce your risk of developing diseases like breast cancer. Choose the apple over the candy bar and the grilled salmon over the burger and watch your quality-of-life improve!