Wednesday, April 14, 2021

International Moment of Laughter
The Health Benefits of Laughter

"People who laugh actually live longer than those who don't laugh.
Few persons realize that health actually varies according to
the amount of laughter."
James J. Walsh, MD


Having a good laugh usually makes us feel good about ourselves.




I Love to Laugh

Babies Laughing

Research published in the International Journal of Obesity discovered laughter can be beneficial in weight control.

Laughing helps burn calories by increasing the heart rate by 10 to 20 percent: The metabolism increases as well, meaning you will burn more calories at rest once you have stopped laughing.

Scientists calculated 15 minutes of laughter a day will burn 10 to 40 calories, depending on a person’s weight and the intensity of the laughter.

Laughter can relieve physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.

Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which promotes an overall sense of well-being.

Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which may benefit the cardiovascular system.

Laughter may benefit people with diabetes. One study showed after watching a comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after listening to a boring lecture.

Laugh because it feels great,
because it is healthy for you and
because we take ourselves too seriously.
It’s time to lighten up.

“Laughter is the best medicine.”

April, National Garden Month
a Tribute to the Cooperative Extension

The ground has thawed from the winter, at least in most areas. Many people are deciding if they want to start a garden or what crops will they be planting this year.

Gardening is a passion of mine. I initially started my studies in agronomy and later changed to nutrition. The cooperative extension became an important part of my education and a wonderful resource. It was also the first job I had as a dietitian, teaching nutrition in a summer program through Cornell University Extension.




What is the Cooperative Extension?
The Cooperative Extension, also known as the Extension Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, is a research-based educational program designed to help people in the areas of agriculture and food, home and family, the environment, community economic development, and youth and 4-H. The service is provided in every state's designated land-grant universities. 

NIFA is the federal partner in the Cooperative Extension System. It provides federal funding to the system and, through program leadership, helps the system identify and address current issues and problems.

History 

The Morrill Act of 1862 established land-grant universities to educate citizens in agriculture, home economics, mechanical arts, and other practical professions. Extension was formalized in 1914, with the Smith-Lever Act. It established the partnership between the agricultural colleges and the USDA to provide for cooperative agricultural extension work. 


Over the last century, the extension has adapted to changing times, and it continues to address a wide range of human, plant, and animal needs in both urban and rural areas. The cooperative extension focuses education in six major areas: 


1. 4-H Youth Development 

2. Agriculture
3. Leadership Development

4. Natural Resources
5. Family and Consumer Sciences

6. Community and Economic Development

Below are educational videos prepared by various Cooperative Extensions across the United States.


How to Grow Blueberries
North Carolina Cooperative Extension



Caring for Asparagus
University of Maine Cooperative Extension


Eat Smart New York! - 
Cornell Cooperative Extension Westchester County


Color Yourself Healthy
University of Nebraska



Florida Statewide Extension Sustainability Programs


Resources
1. To find your nearest Cooperative Extension office.
2.  
National Gardening Association
3.  
Food Gardening Guide








National Pecan Day - Food Styling: Butternut Squash with Pecans

April is National Pecan Month
Pecans are a good source of fiber and protein. They  
are sodium-free and cholesterol-free.
A healthy snack, but watch the portion size.








Butternut Squash with Pecans


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Make Lunch Count Day for Our Children's Health and School Performance


Lunch plays a serious role in children's health and school performance. Studies have shown children skipping lunch, are likely to have trouble concentrating in the classroom, lack energy for sports, and overeat on low-nutrient snacks. Whether children eat lunch at home, enjoy lunch, or pack a lunch box these ideas apply to all.
The goal of lunch is to provide a nutrient-rich meal to fuel our children’s brains and bodies for the afternoon. Look to create a lunch with a nutritional punch and appeal. Try the following ideas to create lunches your child will not waste.

Let Your Children Help Plan
When kids help plan their lunches, they are more likely to eat them. If your child's school has a lunch program, review the menus together and pick the ones they would enjoy. When kids eat school lunch, they are more likely to consume milk, meats, grains, and vegetables, which gives them a higher nutrient intake over the course of a day. School lunch is a great cost and nutrition value.
If your child prefers a lunch packed at home, create a method that works for both of you. Make a checklist of what your child likes in each food category. Agree on some protein, a grain, at least one fruit, and veggie, a dairy product (if not buying milk at school), and an optional small sweet or snack item.
Make a plan for the next week. Take about an hour of free time (and grab a child or partner to help) and bag items for each day, except sandwiches. The sandwiches should not be prepared ahead of time.

Variety is the Basis of Well-Balanced Nutrition
Don't worry if a child wants the same lunch for two weeks in a row. The child will probably change to something else before long. Workaround pickiness by creating a list of substitutes. For example, if sandwiches are in the "don't like" column, what else might work? 
  • Deli turkey + cheddar slices in roll-ups, pretzels, apple wedges
  • Tortillas + cream cheese spiced with taco seasoning + rotisserie chicken rolled up and cut into pinwheels, cherry tomatoes
  • Little salads with protein (cheese, nuts, beans)
  • English muffin + marinara sauce + shredded mozzarella for homemade pizza bites, grapes

Make the Food Attractive
We eat with our eyes first. We are attracted to foods by the packaging so you can compete with the best. Use a reusable lunch bag or box with a favorite color or cartoon hero. Make foods as bright and colorful as a rainbow. Have fun with shapes and size — use cookie cutters on sandwiches or make mini-muffins. Endless possibilities. 
Reference.
1. Kids Eat Right, Banishing Brown Bag Boredom
2. Kids Eat Right, Making the Grade at Lunchtime
3. Peanut Blossom, 30 Days of Lunchbox Recipes

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day
Add Color, Flavor, Texture, Creativity, and Nutrients
Recipe Makeovers



Cooked bread and cheese are popular in many cultures around the world.  In the United States, the grilled cheese sandwich originated in the 1920s. Bread and American cheese were inexpensive and readily available during the Great Depression.

A grilled cheese sandwich is assembled and then heated until the bread crisps and the cheese melts, sometimes combined with additional ingredients such as tomatoes, bacon, ham, peppers, and assorted fruits. Several different methods of heating the sandwich are used. Common cooking methods include cooking on a griddle, grilled, fried in a pan, broiled, or made in a panini grill or sandwich toaster.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches 

Grilled Brie Sandwich with Apricots and Sliced Almonds

Ingredients
1 slice Pumpernickel Bread
1.25 oz Brie
2 tsp Apricot Fruit Spread
4 g Sliced Almonds
20 g Dried Fruit (Apricots, Raisins)



Directions
Spread Brie on pumpernickel bread. Grill until melted. Top with apricot fruit spread and sliced almonds. Serve apricots and raisins on the side. 



Grilled Apple and Swiss Cheese Sandwich
One serving



Ingredients.
2 slice whole-wheat bread
1-1/2 tsp olive oil
1/2 granny smith apple (peeled cored and thinly sliced)
1/3 cup swiss cheese (shredded)

Directions.
Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Lightly brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil. Place 1 slice of bread, olive oil side down into the skillet, and arrange the apple slices evenly over the top. Sprinkle the Swiss cheese over the apple, and then top with the remaining slice of bread, olive oil side up. Cook until the bread is golden brown, flip the sandwich over, and cook until the other side is golden brown and the cheese has melted, 1 to 2 more minutes.


Grilled Muenster Cheese on Whole Wheat Sandwich Round with Pecans, Blueberries, and Green Onions. Serve with Sliced Yellow Squash and Raspberries

National Pet Day
Health Benefits





Health Benefits of a Pet



Studies have found that:
• Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
• People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets.
• Playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
• Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than those without pets.
• Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.
• Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.

Caring for a pet can help with those healthy lifestyle changes by:
• Increasing exercise. Exercise doesn’t have to involve boring repetition at a gym. Taking a dog for a walk, riding a horse, or simply chasing a kitten around are fun ways to fit healthy daily exercise into your schedule.
• Providing companionship. Isolation and loneliness can make disorders such as depression even worse. Caring for a living animal can help make you feel needed and wanted, and take the focus away from your problems. Most pet owners talk to their pets, some even use them to work through their troubles.
• Helping meet new people. Pets can be a great social lubricant for their owners. Dog owners frequently stop and talk to each other on walks or in a dog park. Pet owners also meet new people in pet stores, clubs, and training classes.
• Reducing anxiety. The companionship of a dog can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for people anxious about going out into the world.
• Adding structure and routine to your day. Many pets, especially dogs, require a regular feeding and exercise schedule. No matter your mood—depressed, anxious, or stressed—you’ll always have to get out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for your pet.
• Providing sensory stress relief. Touch and movement are two healthy ways to quickly manage stress. This could involve petting a cat or taking a dog for a walk.

Pets and older adults
The key to aging well is to effectively handle life’s major changes, such as retirement, the loss of loved ones, and the physical changes of aging. Pets can play an important role in healthy aging by:
• Helping you find meaning and joy in life. As you age, you’ll lose things that previously occupied your time and gave your life purpose. You may retire from your career or your children may move far away. Caring for a pet can bring pleasure and help boost your morale and optimism. Taking care of an animal can also provide a sense of self-worth.
• Staying connected. Maintaining a social network isn’t always easy as you grow older. Retirement, illness, death, and moves can take away close friends and family members. And making new friends can get harder. Dogs especially are a great way for seniors to spark up conversations and meet new people.
• Boosting vitality. You can overcome many of the physical challenges associated with aging by taking good care of yourself. Pets encourage playfulness, laughter, and exercise, which can help boost your immune system and increase your energy.

Resources and References

American Humane Association
5 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health

April, Parkinson's Awareness Month
Nutrition and Parkinson's Disease




Michael J. Fox with Muhammad Ali:
Living With Parkinson's


Nutrition and Parkinson's Disease Webinar



Kathrynne Holden is a registered dietitian who specializes in nutrition for Parkinson's disease (PD). Drawing on her former hospital experience, she has pioneered the understanding of the unique nutrition needs of people with Parkinson's. Her aim is to provide the knowledge needed to prevent nutrition-related hospitalizations, make the best use of PD medications, and maintain an independent lifestyle.




“Some Parkinson medications can cause edema
(a build-up
 of fluid in the tissues,
often in the ankles, lower legs, and wrists).
If you have edema, it’s important to get plenty
of potassium in the diet,
avoid too much salt
 and highly-processed
foods (potato chips, canned soups
, pickles for example),
and stay in close touch with your physician.”
- Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD

Kathrynne Holden has written books and articles for the public, produced and has authored the professional's manual "PARKINSON'S DISEASE: Guidelines for Medical Nutrition Therapy." She has also developed the first nutrition risk assessment tool specific to PD. Kathrynne regularly speaks at Parkinson's symposiums and conferences and has conducted presentations in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Research. Gerald C. McIntosh, M.D., Kathrynne E. Holden, M.S., R.D.: Risk for malnutrition and bone fracture in Parkinson's disease: a pilot study. Journal of Nutrition for the Elderly. Spring 1999; Vol. 18, No. 3.

Abstract. Conditions relating to Parkinson's disease include tremors, impaired balance, falls, constipation, food-medication interactions, and anorexia. Weight loss, bone thinning, and muscle wasting are common, raising the risk for malnutrition and bone fracture. This pilot study examines the lifestyle and dietary choices of 24 Parkinson's patients. Unplanned weight loss and falls were common, and most had multiple risk factors for malnutrition and fracture. Results support findings in previous studies and call for early nutrition intervention to help prevent fractures, muscle wasting, bowel impaction, and dehydration. The findings indicate that such intervention could prevent hospitalizations and related costs.



Review of the literature on
Nutrition and Parkinson's Disease

There is no special diet for people with Parkinson's disease. The nutritional goals include:
  • Eat well-balanced meals.
  • Consume adequate calories to maintain body weight within a normal range.
  • Minimize food and drug interactions.
  • If chewing, choking or excessive coughing becomes a problem, provide food consistency easily tolerated.
  • Feeding may become difficult and a referral to an occupational therapist may be necessary for adaptive eating utensils.
Eat Well-Balanced Meals
Eat a variety of foods. Include foods rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, bran, cereals, rice, and pasta. Limit intake of salt, sugar, and foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Drink eight cups of water per day. Balance exercise and food in order to maintain your weight within a healthy range. Ask your doctor if alcohol will interfere with any of your medications.

Medication and Food Interactions
Medication used to treat Parkinson's disease may cause nausea. Let your doctor know if nausea is a problem. There are several ways to control nausea, including:
  • Drink clear liquids, such as water, broth, fruit juices without pulp (apple juice, grape juice or cranberry juice), Clear sodas, sports drinks, and plain gelatin.
  • Avoid juices with pulp and orange and grapefruit juices.
  • Eat and drink slowly.
  • Beverages should be consumed between meals, not with the meal.
  • Choose bland foods such as saltine crackers. Avoid greasy and fried foods.
  • Eat smaller meals, more frequently throughout the day.
  • Foods should be eaten cold or at room temperature.
  • After eating keep your head elevated and avoid brushing your teeth.
Some medications for Parkinson's disease may cause thirst or dry mouth. Include 8 or more cups of liquid each day, unless other medical conditions require you to limit your fluid intake. Add sauces to foods to make them moister. Try sour candy or an ice pop to help increase saliva.

Malnutrition may become a problem for a person diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. This could be related to depression, nausea, difficulty feeding, problems with swallowing, chewing, coughing, and/or a loss of interest in food.

Patients who experience swallowing difficulties should consult a physician. The doctor may recommend a swallow study to determine the food consistency best tolerated. If feeding becomes difficult, a referral to an occupational therapist may be necessary for adaptive eating utensils.

The Parkinson's Disease Foundation (PDF) is a leading national presence in Parkinson's disease research, education, and public advocacy. PDF is working for nearly one million people in the US who live with Parkinson's by funding promising scientific research and supporting people with Parkinson's, their families, and caregivers through educational programs and support services. Since its founding in 1957, PDF has funded over $85 million worth of scientific research in Parkinson's disease, supporting the work of leading scientists throughout the world.

Click the following link to learn more about Parkinson's Awareness Month.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

National Farm Animals Day

National Farm Animals Day was created as a day to raise awareness about the plight of slaughtered animals and to find a home for the abandoned and abused farm animals.



Animal Rescues That Will Make You Happy
that PETA Exists


Vegetarian Resources

1. The Vegetarian Resource Group
2. Peta
3. Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group (VN DPG), Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
4. The Vegan Society
5. Ginny Messina, RDN - Vegan Dietitian: Recipes to Try - Pinterest 
6. MyPlate, Healthy Eating for Vegetarians




How to Get Enough Calcium On A Vegan Dairy Free Diet  http://bit.ly/2GQsDdr  @TConscDietitian






Friday, April 9, 2021

Egg Salad Week - Food Safety and Recipes

Egg Salad Week (the week after Easter). Dedicated to the many delicious uses for all of the Easter eggs that have been cooked, colored, hidden, and found.

Food Safety
If you plan to eat the Easter eggs you decorate, be sure to use only food-grade dye. (Some people make two sets of eggs - one for decorating and hiding, another for eating. Others use plastic eggs for hiding.) For an Easter egg hunt, avoid cracking the eggshells. If the shells crack then bacteria could enter and contaminate the egg inside. Also, hide eggs in places that are protected from dirt, pets, and other bacteria sources and keep hard-cooked eggs chilled in the refrigerator until just before the hunt. The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should be no more than two hours. Then be sure to refrigerate the "found" eggs right away until you eat them. Eggs found hours later or the next day should be thrown out — not eaten! 


When shell eggs are hard-cooked, the protective coating is washed away, leaving open pores in the shell where harmful bacteria could enter. Be sure to refrigerate eggs within two hours of cooking and use them within a week. Check your refrigerator temperature with an appliance thermometer and adjust the refrigerator temperature to 40°F (Fahrenheit) or below. 


Egg Salad Sandwich with Spinach and Tomato

INGREDIENTS
1 hard-cooked egg and 1 hard-cooked egg white. chopped
1 tablespoon 0% plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped onion
ground black pepper
garlic powder
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
2 slices tomato
1 whole-grain bread

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl, combine the eggs, yogurt, mayo, celery, and onion. Add the pepper and garlic powder to taste. Place the egg salad, spinach, and tomato on a slice of whole-grain bread.

Resources
1. 
Egg Salad, Lightened Up. Egg salad can be high in fat, cholesterol, and calories but with a few simple tweaks, you can make light and delicious versions of this comfort food classic. Dana Angelo White #RDN






Thursday, April 8, 2021

National Public Health Week



About National Public Health Week (NPHW) 

The first full week of April was declared National Public Health Week in 1995. The goal is to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation.
  

The American Public Health Association (APHA) serves as the organizer of NPHW and develops a national campaign to educate the public, policymakers, and practitioners about issues related to each year's theme. APHA creates new NPHW materials each year that can be used during and after NPHW to raise awareness about public health and prevention.






Wednesday, April 7, 2021

National Walking Day


The first Wednesday in April is National Walking Day. The American Heart Association sponsors this day to remind us of the health benefits of taking a walk. 





The American Heart Association is encouraging everyone to get out and walk. Visit National Walking Day located at the American Heart Association. Learn the health benefits, get motivated, join a walking group - make walking a Daily Habit.




Here is a catchy song to start your walking.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

April is Fresh Florida Tomato Month
Discover the Benefits and Delicious Recipes




Florida Tomatoes - So Delicious



Ten Health Benefits of Tomatoes
1. Tomatoes are the most concentrated food source of lycopene. Lycopene is an antioxidant that may play a role in the prevention and treatment of some cancers, such as colon, prostate, breast, lung, and pancreatic cancers.

2. Tomatoes are low in calories. One medium-sized tomato (about five ounces) has 25 calories, a great snack to include on a weight control program.

3. Tomatoes are high in Vitamin C. One-cup tomato provides about 78 percent of the daily value (DV)1. Consuming foods rich in vitamin C helps the body resist infection and aids in wound healing.

4. Tomatoes are a good source of fiber. One cup of diced tomatoes provides 7.9 percent of the DV for fiber. Studies show fiber may lower high blood cholesterol levels, aid in maintaining stable blood sugar levels and help an individual feel full longer.

5. One cup of tomatoes contains 22.4 percent of the DV for vitamin A. Vitamin A plays an important role in vision and night blindness.

6. Tomatoes are a good source of potassium (11.4% DV per one cup). Research indicates diets high in potassium can reduce the risk of heart disease and hypertension.

7. Tomatoes enhance the flavor and color of meals making food more appealing.

8. Tomatoes contain chromium; a mineral associated with helping people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.

9. Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin is found in tomatoes. One cup of tomatoes provides 5.1 percent of the DV for riboflavin. Studies on riboflavin show they may prevent migraines.

10. Tomatoes are a source of folate (6.8% DV per one cup). Folate has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and neurological defects in the fetus.

1 The Daily Value (DV) of foods comes from the Reference Daily Intake or Recommended Daily Intake (RDI). DV provides a frame of reference to evaluate the nutrients consumed.

Tomato Wellness – Snacks
Are you looking for some ideas of affordable, healthy snacks, that you can make out of products you already have in your cupboard? Corinne Dobbas, MS, RD stops in to show us some great easy treats that will keep your body nourished and provide you some great disease-fighting dishes that everyone will enjoy!


Growing Tomatoes


Recipes

Yellow Squash with Tomatoes 

John Denver sings about "Homegrown Tomatoes"
and includes suggestions on
how to use them in your favorite recipes.




Tomato Food Photography


Mini Pizza with Spinach, Diced Tomato, Onions,
Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, Oregano, Scallions

From Our Garden

 Gazpacho

Tabouli Salad with Grape Tomatoes and String Beans.
Canon EOS T3i; f/5.6; expt 1/25 sec; ISO 3200;
focal length 47 mm; artificial light;
78 calories/servings






Resources
Florida Tomatoes

Nutrition.gov News

Dietitian Blog List