Managing stress

There’s no doubt about it, we lead busy lives. Commitments may include anything and everything from work, school, family, social, spiritual, recreational and chores. Other obligations, needs and temporary situations can also be contributing factors, such as finances or moving, also impact us, leaving one with a feeling of being stressed out.

With so much on our plates, it’s no wonder we can feel overwhelmed from time to time, but knowing how to manage stress is key to maneuvering through each day to maintain a healthy balance.  As we continue to recognize American Hearth Month, here are some ways to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being:

1.    Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit! They contain antioxidants that help protect against free radicals within your body that damage your cells, helps reduce inflammation within your body, and increases your immunity!
2.    Get sufficient sleep, which generally ranges from 7 – 10 hours, depending on your age. Children, adolescents and teens need more, and as you age, your body tends to require less sleep. Remember that sleep allows your body to reset, restore, and heal.
3.    Exercise! Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate (or higher) exercise at least 4 times per week. You’ll probably notice improved mental performance and overall boost in your mood!
4.    Drink plenty of water, which keeps your entire body hydrated, from a cellular level to your skin, and keep you moving more effectively.
5.    Meditation has been reported to help improve mental clarity and also provides you with a few minutes to relax and reflect on what’s important to you. Spend 5 minutes in a quiet, dimly lit room either sitting or lying down with no noise or distractions and concentrate on positive things in your life or things you want to achieve.
6.    Pick up a hobby and work on it a little every day or week. This could be cooking, coloring, painting, knitting, gardening, puzzles, volunteering, or anything else you enjoy!
7.    Sometimes having help can lighten the load! Consider assigning chores or tasks to family members, and you can even make a game out of it! Once they’re done, go outside to play a game, or every week celebrate your accomplishments and have a picnic! This also creates good bonding time!
8.    Make sure you have a monthly budget so you can feel confident knowing your financial needs. It can be a simple piece of paper, a spreadsheet, or finance software that guides you through this process. Be sure to make a list of all your monthly expenses and your income, and make any adjustments as needed.
9.    To maximize the time you have each day to conquer the world, write down what you need to do, either by priority or by time of day. Having a way to track your daily to-do’s will help keep you on track and focused, which leads to …
10.    Take some time for YOU each day, whether it’s 5 minutes or 2 hours. However you can spend time doing something you enjoy benefits not only you, but those around you. You are the best you for others when you are the best you to yourself!

Now that you’ve just discovered a little more free time, seize the day!

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Less salt, plenty of taste

February is American Hearth Month and we will be focusing on ways to improve your heart health this month!

 

It is well recognized among doctors and nutrition professionals that too much salt is a bad thing. High levels of sodium leads to hypertension and high blood pressure, of which both are major stressors on the heart and makes it work much harder than it should. So why not be as good to your heart as it is to you? Here are a number of easy ways to decrease sodium intake:

 

  • Cut out (or decrease) the amount of processed foods you consume, especially deli meats, frozen meals, soups, condiments and snack items.
  • Use fresh herbs when cooking for added flavor, such as cilantro, thyme, lemon juice, parsley, rosemary, basil, and dill just to name a few.
  • Enjoy spices to enhance flavors! Some favorites include garlic, oregano, black pepper, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, curry powders, turmeric, chili, and so many other wonderful options.
  • Add a little vinegar, wine, lemon, lime or other citrus to add a zesty kick to foods when cooking.
  • Use salt only sparingly when cooking and avoid adding any at the table when eating.
  • Look for nutrition labels that indicate the food is low-sodium (140 mg per serving) or no salt has been added to the food.
  • Beware of how much cheese you use as it contains a lot of sodium.

 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily up to the age of 50, and reducing that amount to 1,500 mg daily for persons age 51 and older. You’ll be pleased to find that as you start to decrease the amount of sodium you consume, the more your palate will change and not desire salty foods as much.

 

Here’s to a healthy, happy heart!

Healthy Snack Alternatives for the Big Game

Getting ready for the big game? All of the greasy chicken wings, pizza and chips can leave you feeling heavy afterward. Here are some recipes that are healthy and delicious alternatives to your traditional game day dishes.

Substitute hot wings for…

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

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Serves 4
1 medium cauliflower – cut into bite size pieces
½ cup flour
½ cup water
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2/3 cup buffalo hot sauce – pick your favorite

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and spray a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
In a large bowl whisk together flour, water, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add cauliflower bites and toss to coat. Bake for 15 minutes.
While cauliflower if baking, mix together the melted butter and buffalo sauce.
Add baked cauliflower to buffalo mixer, toss and coat. Then place cauliflower back onto baking sheet and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, or until crispy. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve with celery, carrot sticks and your favorite ranch or blue cheese dipping sauce!

Not a fan of cauliflower? Try veggie chips! You can dip them in low-fat ranch or hummus.

Substitute queso dip for…

White Bean Chili

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Serves 4 – 6
1 can diced tomatoes – drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped white onion
4 ounces of chopped green chilies
2 cloves of garlic – minced
1.5 teaspoon ground cumin spice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
A pinch or red pepper flakes for a spice (optional)
2 cups of Vegetable broth – regular or low-sodium
2 cans of Navy beans – rinsed and drained
1 can Cannellini beans – rinsed and drained
For topping:
Sour cream
Fresh chopped tomatoes

Shredded cheddar cheese
Sliced scallion onions

Heat oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium-high heat and cook onions for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chilies, garlic, cumin spice, oregano, sugar, red pepper flakes, chili powder and canned diced tomatoes. Let tomatoes and spices heat through for 5 minutes. Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add beans and simmer for another 15 minutes. Finally, season with salt and pepper for taste. Serve.
You can also add ground meat, such as turkey or chicken to this recipe!

Too busy on game day to cook a fancy chili? You can also cook this chili in a crock-pot! Cook the ground meat (optional), onions and garlic in a saucepan, and then add all the ingredients into the crock-pot on high for one hour. Bring the temperature down to low for 1 one hour or until the chili is thick and ready to serve. Make sure to stir the chili every 30 minutes while cooking in the crock-pot. Serve with tasty toppings and cheer on your favorite team!