Body Beautiful – Weight Control & Exercise

With summer upon us, there’s new incentive to reach that ideal body weight and get fit. Anyone can achieve their body beautiful with weight control and exercise. Does it take work? Absolutely! Is it worth it? That’s up to you. I’ve posted a number of articles to help you achieve your goals, but instead of searching to find your answer, this post provides the links with a brief description for your convenience. Then, we’ll take it to the next level… Remember, always speak to your physician before making any changes to your health care regimen.

START OVER/TAKE CHARGE: ENERGY BALANCE & WEIGHT CONTROL
weight control, energy balance, take charge, motivation, exercise, portion control, maintenance
5 lb Human Fat Model

Provides an overview of energy balance and how it relates to weight control.
Tip #1 – Write it down.
Tip #2 – Use an app.

 

ON THE ROAD TO HEALTHY LIVING: FOOLPROOF YOUR PLAN!
energy balance, take charge, motivation, portion control, maintenance
On the Road to Healthy Living

Learn how to set your goals and create a realistic plan.
Tip #3 – Find an accountability partner.
Tip #4 – Cut out distractions.

 

 

 

THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL WEIGHT CONTROL
Fish, healthy,
Trout the Healthy Way
                   The Key to Successful Weight Loss

The key is in portion control. Learn the difference between a portion and a serving size.

Tip #5 – Add water.
Tip #6 – Fill with fiber.

 

 

LEAN BELLIES AND BODY TYPE
exercise, weight control, energy balance, take charge, motivation, portion control, serving size, maintenance
Body Type: Apple or Pear

Although we’re each born with a certain body type, excess fat around the middle is dangerous.

Tip #7 – Chew longer with smaller bites.
Tip #8 – Consume protein.

LOW CALORIE ALTERNATIVES COUNT
exercise, weight control, energy balance, take charge, motivation, portion control, serving size, maintenance, food choice, low calorie alternatives
Supermarket – Low Calorie Alternatives

Replace high calorie foods with low calorie alternatives. Check out the recommendations.

Tip #9 – Think smaller.
Tip #10 – Eat protein after exercising.

EXERCISE IS KEY: A TRIBUTE TO OUR MILITARY!
exercise, weight control, energy balance, take charge, motivation, portion control, serving size, maintenance, food choice, low calorie alternatives, stretching
My Dad: Christian Van Den Heuvel  Exercise is Key: A Tribute to Our Military

 

 

Exercise is critical to your health. Take a step in the right direction — the benefits of walking.

 

 

 

MOTIVATED? TIPS FOR CALORIE CONTROL!
exercise, weight control, energy balance, take charge, motivation, portion control, serving size, maintenance, food choice, low calorie alternatives, stretching
Motivated? Tips for Calorie Control

When you’re ready to take the weight off and keep it off, you are motivated. Check out the tips for success in the following areas:

  • Plan
  • Activities
  • Eating Behavior
  • Parties & Holidays
  • Your Reward
  • How to Monitor Yourself
  • Shopping
YOUR HEALTH – A FEW SIMPLE MOVES
physical therapist, Diane Foley
Diane Foley, Physical Therapist

 

Meet Physical Therapist, Diane Foley, and learn a few simple moves to decrease some of the health risks associated with sitting. In this article, Diane provides a stretch for the first of five common muscle groups affected by sitting — the neck.

 

 

SIMPLE STRETCHES TO REDUCE THE PAIN OF SITTING
Chest Stretch, Pectoral Stretch, Stretches
Diane Foley, Physical Therapist
                           Pectoral Stretch

This article is the second in the series with Diane and focuses on the next muscle group — the chest (pectoral) muscles.

 

LOWER BACK — STRETCHES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

 

side stretch, lower back muscles
Side Stretch for the Lower Back

The title says it all.

 

STRETCHES TO ALLEVIATE STIFF TIGHT HIPS
Stretch, hip flexor, hip muscle
Hip Flexor Stretch

Sitting causes the front of the hips to stiffen and tighten. Stretching these front hip muscles (hip flexors) is important. Diane shows you how.

 

 

HAMSTRINGS AND CALVES — STRETCHES
stretches, stretches for the back of the legs, calf stretch lunge
Stretches for the Back of the Legs — Calf Stretch Lunge

Hamstrings and calves are the last muscle group in this series affected by prolonged sitting. Take short breaks throughout the day to stretch and make a difference in your life.

 

 

 

With the review complete, we are ready to take it to the next level. Follow me in this next series as I personally bump it up a notch with Diane and her exercise partner Karen. Although Karen and I share the same first name, she is way ahead of me on the fitness scale.

Are you ready? What’s your incentive?

Iron Man & Woman – Iron Absorption

“Iron Man & Woman” — For hundreds of years the importance of dietary iron was common knowledge. Despite this understanding, one of the most common worldwide nutrient deficiencies is iron. This is also the only nutrient where the RDA for men is less than the RDA for young women. (3)

Worldwide

Every living cell contains iron, amounting to approximately 5 grams, or one teaspoon for the whole body. Iron absorption is based on a number of factors. This article provides an overview of what factors come into play in its absorption. (2)

Absorption – Controls
Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History, Atherosclerosis, preventable risk factors, obesity, excess weight, inactivity, alcohol.
Hypertension – The Silent Killer — Exercise Makes a Difference

Once iron is absorbed it is not easily eliminated from our bodies, therefore, it is important to control iron absorption. Several mechanisms exist to regulate our body’s ability to absorb iron. Generally, iron absorption depends on:

  • the body’s need for iron,
  • its form in a particular food,
  • and many other factors.

Healthy people absorb approximately eighteen percent of the iron present in food, however people who are iron deficient absorb more. (2)

Absorption – Form Counts
Steak – Heme Iron

Iron is found in different forms based on the food. The amount absorbed is influenced by the particular form. Within animal flesh, approximately forty percent of the total iron is:

  1. hemoglobin, the form that is found in red blood cells, and
  2. myoglobin, the pigment that is present in muscle cells.

This kind of iron is referred to as heme iron and is absorbed approximately 2 – 3 times better than nonheme iron (the simple elemental iron). Nonheme iron is the form that is added during the enrichment process to grain products. It is also found in:

  • animal flesh,
  • milk,
  • eggs,
  • grains,
  • vegetables, as well as
  • other plant foods. (2) (3)

    Citrus Fruit – Increases Absorption of Nonheme Iron

Consuming nonheme iron with heme iron together increases the absorption of nonheme iron. Consuming more vitamin C rich foods will increase iron absorption, especially if blood iron is too low or there is inadequate dietary iron. Copper also aids with the body’s iron use.

Iron is the oldest known trace mineral critical for the growth and development of the human body. A number of factors influence its absorption, including its form (whether heme or nonheme) as well as other foods with which it is consumed. The body of knowledge is vast and this article just touches upon its absorption. The next article will further delve into what affects its absorption and its distribution.

References:
https://www.cdc.gov/immpact/micronutrients/index.html
https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/99-02/pdf/nr_ch3.pdf
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00051880.htm

Without the Trace – Minerals That Is


Without the trace — minerals that is, you cannot maintain a healthy life. Also referred to as microminerals, this area of nutrition science is growing at a rapid rate. Although the importance of iron has been known for centuries, it is only within the last 50 years that scientists recognized the significance of other trace minerals. Even though only 100 milligrams or less of each of these minerals are required daily, they are as essential as major minerals for good health. (5)

This article provides a general overview of trace minerals. Discover additional key facts and findings including rich sources of specific trace minerals in this next series of articles.

The Mystery Uncovered
trace minerals, microminerals, iron, iodide, zinc, selenium, copper, fluoride, chromium, manganese, and molybdenum, vitamin C, deficiencies
Selenium Deficiency Found in Remote Areas of China

The importance of each micromineral is like following a good mystery, and still, evidence continues to unfold.

  • Scientists found a rare type of heart disease in a remote area of China. This disease was linked to a deficiency in selenium.
  • In 1961 other research scientists linked a zinc deficiency to dwarfism, prevalent among Middle Eastern villagers.
  • In the latter part of the 1960’s and early 1970’s synthetic formulas for intravenous feeding omitted some trace minerals. When recipients of these intravenous feedings showed symptoms of deficiencies, it led to the identification of these trace minerals.  (1) (2)
The Difficulty in Identifying Trace Minerals
minerals, supplements, lab
Mineral Supplements are Manufactured in the Lab

The difficulty lies in the ability to define precisely what our trace mineral needs are since only minuscule amounts are needed. In order to measure these minute amounts in both body tissues and food, highly complex technology is required.

Although the mystery continues to unfold, we are aware of iron, iodide, zinc, selenium, copper, fluoride, chromium, manganese, and molybdenum. In the next article, we will see how foods rich in vitamin C increases the absorption of minerals, and iron in particular, a trace mineral commonly found deficient in a large percent of the world’s population. (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
References:

1. https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/99-02/pdf/nr_ch4b.pdf
2. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6302a3.htm
3. https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/99-02/pdf/nr_ch4a.pdf
4. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ToxProfiles/tp132-c1-b.pdf
5. https://www.cdc.gov/nutritionreport/pdf/Trace.pdf

Take Heart with Potassium

Take heart with potassium… . In order to live, you need minerals. Not just any mineral — eating dirt won’t be helpful, but everyone needs those major and trace minerals required for basic life functions. This article will take an in-depth look at the major mineral, potassium.

Heart Health: Potassium and Sodium

Potassium and sodium share many of the same life functions, namely transmission of nerve impulses and fluid balance, but in different locations. Where sodium operates outside the cell, potassium operates inside. Fluids found inside the cell (intracellular fluids) contain most of the potassium found in the body — 95%.

Your Blood Pressure: What’s Healthy – What’s Not

Additionally, where sodium intake increases blood pressure, potassium lowers blood pressure. Potassium is a critical element for cardiovascular function. (1) (2)

A person who has low blood potassium is in a life-threatening situation. Often, symptoms include:

  • muscle cramps,
  • loss of appetite,
  • constipation, and
  • confusion.

Eventually the heart will beat irregularly, thus decreasing its ability to pump blood. (1) (2)

Potassium Needs:
potassium, trace minerals, microminerals, sodium, hypertension, heart health, blood pressure, heart, intracellular fluids, processed food, unprocessed food, minerals, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk, meats, and dried beans, kidneys, minerals
Whole Grains – Mineral Rich

Adults need to consume 4700 milligrams (4.7 grams) per day in order to fulfill the Adequate Intake for potassium requirements. The food and supplement labels use the Daily Value based on 3500 milligrams. Although approximately 90% of the potassium we eat is absorbed, the average North American only consumes 2000 to 3000 milligrams of potassium per day. Most need to increase their intake. (3) (4)

Where sodium is often added to foods, potassium is not, contributing to a lower intake. Also, those with high blood pressure being treated with diuretics are at risk of depleting their body’s potassium stores. Therefore, people who take diuretics waste their body’s potassium and must carefully monitor their intake of this mineral. Foods high in potassium are healthy additions to their diets. (3) (4)

potassium, trace minerals, microminerals, sodium, hypertension, heart health, blood pressure, heart, intracellular fluids, processed food, unprocessed food, minerals, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk, meats, and dried beans, kidneys
Take Heart with Potassium – The Role of Your Kidneys

No Upper Level for potassium is set since potassium toxicity is not a risk with typical food intakes as long as the kidneys function properly. Those with unhealthy kidney function, however, are at risk for the build up of potassium in the blood. This prevents the heart from functioning and slows the heartbeat. If left untreated, it results in death. (3)

Potassium Sources:

The most healthy way to meet your potassium requirements is by increasing the consumption of foods rich in potassium. Unprocessed foods are generally rich sources of potassium, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk, meats, and dried beans. (4) (5)

What’s your favorite potassium rich food? Do you have a recipe to share?

References:

1. https://www.cdc.gov/salt/index.htm
2. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2011/p0711_sodiumpotassiumdiet.html
3. https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/dietary-reference-intakes
4. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/
5. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/appendix-10/

Without Warning… Steps to Avoid High Blood Pressure

Without warning, it could all be over. The diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure is critical to prevent sudden death, cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, circulation problems in the legs, and vision problems. Better yet, take steps to avoid high blood pressure in the first place. The best preventive measures are natural and should be a way of life. The previous article identified certain lifestyles that increase the risk of high blood pressure; inactivity, obesity, and excess alcohol were a few. This article will identify the influence of certain minerals on a person’s blood pressure.

Sodium
Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History, Atherosclerosis, preventable risk factors, obesity, excess weight, inactivity, alcohol, salt, natural
Sodium & Hypertension

Blood pressure is particularly sensitive to sodium, especially in certain populations that include older people who are overweight and African-Americans. In these individuals, an excessive amount of salt leads to the kidney’s retention of fluid correlating to an increase in blood volume which then causes an increase in blood pressure. Since not all people living in North America are susceptible to a higher blood pressure resulting from a person’s salt intake, it is number 4 on the list of lifestyle factors associated with hypertension. Obesity, inactivity, and alcohol abuse rate higher.

Helpful Minerals to Avoid High Blood Pressure
Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History, Atherosclerosis, preventable risk factors, obesity, excess weight, inactivity, alcohol, salt, natural, potassium, magnesium, calcium, minerals
A diet that is low in salt and rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium can reduce blood pressure.

According to research studies, a diet that is low in salt and rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium can reduce blood pressure within days of starting this kind of diet. The type of response seen is comparable to what is observed with commonly used high blood pressure medications. Further studies found a decrease in the risk of stroke among individuals who follow a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, and Vitamin C.

Generally, a low salt diet that is

  • rich in fat-free and low-fat dairy products,
  • vegetables,
  • fruits,
  • whole grains, and
  • some nuts

can significantly decrease the stroke and hypertension risk in countless people, especially those with high blood pressure.

The majority of the risk factors contributing to stroke and hypertension can be controlled and suitable changes to one’s lifestyle can make a significant difference in reducing a person’s risk. Experts in the field recommend that people with hypertension try to decrease blood pressure through lifestyle changes and diet before relying on blood pressure medications. Numerous studies find that consumption foods rich in minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium as well as vitamin C combined with other lifestyle changes including moderate physical activity at regular intervals will contribute to better blood pressure control.

What’s your favorite mineral rich food?

References:

(1) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/risk_factors.htm
(2) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/family_history.htm
(3) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/conditions.htm
(4) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/behavior.htm
(5) https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/express.pdf

Beware of Hypertension — The Silent Killer

Beware of hypertension, the silent killer. As Part 1 of the series pointed out, one in five North American adults have hypertension and this number increases in adults over the age of 65 to one out of every two. A number of factors can increase a person’s risk including family history, age, atherosclerosis, inactivity, obesity, and excessive alcohol intake. (1)

Uncontrollable Risk Factors

Two uncontrollable risk factors include:

  • Family History

    Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History
    Hypertension – The Silent Killer – Uncontrollable Risk Factors: Family History, Age

A person with a family history of hypertension starts out in life with a risk factor that they cannot control. Especially significant is whether one or both parents either have or had hypertension. (2)

  • Age

As a person gets older, blood pressure typically elevates. (2)

Atherosclerosis and Medication

Atherosclerosis, a condition where arterial plaque builds up, is associated

Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History, Atherosclerosis, preventable risk factors
Hypertension – The Silent Killer – Atherosclerosis

with age but could be preventable. Arteries are made to be flexible, however with the build up of plaque, this capability diminishes. Rigid blood vessels maintain a higher blood pressure. Ultimately the plaque decreases the kidneys’ blood supply reducing their capability to control the body’s blood volume, and thereby its blood pressure. (5)

There are hormone-like compounds and an enzyme that the kidneys secret that are designed to sustain a blood pressure that is healthy. The anti-hypertensive medications used to reduce high blood pressure often reduces these compounds’ effect. (5)

Lifestyle Factors
  • Excess Weight
Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History, Atherosclerosis, preventable risk factors, obesity, excess weight, inactivity, alcohol.
Hypertension – The Silent Killer – Risk Higher with Excess Weight

Generally, people who are overweight have a risk for hypertension that is six times greater than lean people. The first lifestyle factor on the list leading to hypertension is obesity.

In order to support the excess tissue in individuals who are overweight or obese, the body creates additional blood vessels. These additional blood vessels increase the work performed by the heart and also increase the blood pressure. With obesity, adipose cells become insulin-resistant causing an elevation of blood insulin levels. The increased blood insulin level causes the body to retain more sodium and accelerates atherosclerosis. Without a doubt, obesity is linked to hypertension. Losing only 10 to 15 pounds often helps treat hypertension. (4)

  • Inactivity

    Hypertension, Silent Killer, High Blood Pressure, Uncontrollable Risk Factors, Age, Family History, Atherosclerosis, preventable risk factors, obesity, excess weight, inactivity, alcohol.
    Hypertension – The Silent Killer — Exercise Makes a Difference

Number two on the list of lifestyle factors is inactivity. If a person who is obese engages in physical activity on a regular basis (a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes five days a week) and loses weight, often the blood pressure will return to a normal level. (3) (4)

  • Alcohol Consumption

Approximately 10% of the cases related to hypertension are caused by an excess intake of alcohol. The good news is that this is generally reversible. Hypertensive men should have no more than two drinks per day while women no more than one. (4)

As the silent killer, hypertension cannot be ignored. Many of the factors increasing a person’s risk for stroke and hypertension are controllable with certain lifestyle changes. Weight loss, increased regular physical activity, and limited alcohol intake will make a significant difference. A diet rich in certain nutrients is essential. The next article will provide you with important information concerning essential minerals required to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

References
(1) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/risk_factors.htm
(2) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/family_history.htm
(3) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/conditions.htm
(4) https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/behavior.htm
(5) https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/express.pdf

Blood Pressure: What’s Healthy – What’s Not

This article, “Blood Pressure: What’s Healthy- What’s Not” is the first in a three part series. One out of every five adults in North America live with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. After the age of 65, this number increases significantly to one out of every two adults. Since it often goes undetected, hypertension is commonly referred to as the silent killer.

blood pressure, healthy heart, heart disease, heart beat, pulse
Your Blood Pressure: What’s Healthy – What’s Not
Blood Pressure

Two numbers convey a person’s blood pressure:

  • the systolic (higher number) blood pressure and
  • diastolic (lower number) blood pressure.

The systolic blood pressure denote the arterial pressure as the heart muscle contracts and then pumps blood through the arteries. Optimally, it should be at 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or less. The diastolic blood pressure is the pressure within the artery when the heart is in a relaxed state. It should optimally be at or less than 80 mm Hg. The elevation in both of these numbers are strong

blood pressure, healthy heart, heart disease, heart beat, pulse, systolic, diastolic
Blood Pressure Systolic/Diastolic

indicators of disease. (1) (2)

 

Hypertension

By definition, hypertension is when the systolic blood pressure exceeds 139 mm Hg or the diastolic blood pressure exceeds 89 mm Hg for extended periods.

Primary or essential hypertension has no clearly defined cause and occurs in 95% of the cases. Secondary hypertension occurs in the remaining 5% of the cases and

blood pressure, healthy heart, heart disease, heart beat, pulse, systolic, diastolic, high blood pressure, silent killer, hypertension
Blood Pressure: What’s Healthy – What’s Not Hypertension: The Silent Killer

is often caused by sleep apnea (sleep-disordered breathing) and kidney disease. (1) (2)
Typically there are no symptoms of hypertension. To assure it does not go undetected, it is important to check it on a regular basis.

Importance of Controlling Blood Pressure

It is essential to control blood pressure to primarily prevent strokes and related diminished brain function, cardiovascular disease, poor circulation of blood in the legs, vision problems, and sudden death. People with hypertension are much more likely to suffer from these disorders than those with normal blood pressure levels. Additionally, smoking and elevated lipoproteins also significantly increases the risk for these diseases. Early diagnosis of hypertension is important. If the condition continues unchecked over a long period of time, typically it resists therapy and with time will advance to a more serious stage. (4)

blood pressure, healthy heart, heart disease, heart beat, pulse, systolic, diastolic, high blood pressure, silent killer, hypertension
Your Health Matters – Avoid the Silent Killer
Control Your Blood Pressure

Hypertension is a disorder that cannot be overlooked. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and decrease your risk of these life-threatening diseases, there are a number of preventive measures that can be taken. As the next two articles in the series will show, lifestyle changes and critical minerals are important to the function and maintenance of the heart and circulatory system.

References

https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_bloodpressure.htm
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/UnderstandSymptomsRisks/Why-High-Blood-Pressure-is-a-Silent-Killer_UCM_002053_Article.jsp
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbp/atrisk

Gluten Free – Turkey & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

dining, Highlands, North Carolina, Recipe
Dining Delight

Whether you have a gluten sensitivity or not, this recipe is a gluten free keeper — Turkey and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash. A good friend of mine shared this tasty, low fat, nutrient rich meal that’s sure to leave you feeling satisfied.

acorn squash, recipe, gluten free, Turkey & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
Acorn Squash – Delicious Stuffed

This recipe serves 8 so feel free to double it or cut it in half.

Ingredients:
  • 4 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 8 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher or fine sea salt, to taste (I typically cook without the added salt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 medium sweet apples, such as Pink Lady or Gala, peeled, cored, and
    Gluten Free, Recipe, Turkey & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
    Apples for Your Gluten Free Recipe – Turkey & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

    diced

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 3/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the squash halves cut sides up on the baking sheets. Brush with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 45-55 minutes, until tender when pierced with fork (and when top edges are nicely browned).

mushrooms, recipe, Turkey & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
Mushrooms

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the turkey. Cook, breaking up with wooden utensil, until cooked through and no longer pink. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Add apples, onion, celery, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and poultry seasoning and stir 1-2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with turkey. Stir to combine, then taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Stir in almond flour and egg whites.

When squash halves finish roasting, pile stuffing evenly into the halves. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Squash is a nutrient rich food we should all indulge in when we can. Do you have a good squash recipe to share? How about a gluten free one? Check out my Sweet & Sour Chicken — another gluten free keeper.

Dark Chocolate & Love’s Heart Healthy Month

The month of February is not only the month for love, but it’s American Heart Month. With Valentine’s Day smack in the middle and thoughts of cards, flowers, and chocolate, it’s also a time to focus on steps we can take to ensure a healthy heart… and mind. Exercise, food choices, and modifying unhealthy habits are among the areas of our lives where we need to concentrate. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, this article will address a particular food at the forefront of this day for sweethearts — dark chocolate.

Valentine’s Day, American Heart Month, Heart Health, Dark Chocolate, healthy lifestyle, February, love, candy, flowers, cards
February – The Month for Love
Food of the Gods
Valentine's Day, American Heart Month, Heart Health,Dark Chocolate, healthy lifestyle, February, love, candy, flowers, cards
Dark Chocolate – Good for Your Heart and Mind

The botanical name for chocolate is Theobroma cacao, which means “food of the gods.” Not only is it delicious, but dark chocolate is good for your heart and mind when combined with a healthy lifestyle. Notice, it’s the dark chocolate not the milk chocolate that may benefit you. Let’s check out why… .

What Makes Dark Chocolate Special?
Valentine's Day, American Heart Month, Dark Chocolate, healthy lifestyle, phytochemicals, flavonoidsFebruary, love, candy, flowers, cards
Cocoa Beans – Rich in Phytochemicals

Dark chocolate comes from the cacao bean which is rich in a type of phytochemical called flavonoids. Although milk chocolate contains some, it does not contain enough to make a difference — the darker the better.

Potential Health Benefits

According to current research, when dark chocolate is incorporated into a healthy lifestyle, it

  • can enhance heart health,
  • improve blood pressure,
  • decrease the “bad” LDL cholesterol, and
  • cause an increase in blood flow to the brain.

There are also studies that point to another benefit — it may improve insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels thereby reducing the risk of an ever growing problem — diabetes. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease with the risk even higher for women.

A NOTE OF CAUTION…
Valentine’s Day, American Heart Month, Heart Health, Dark Chocolate, healthy lifestyle, February, love, candy, flowers, cards
Dark Chocolate – the Darker the Better

In order to enjoy the health benefits of dark chocolate, a healthy lifestyle is important. Here are few tips to keep in mind:

  • Balance your calorie consumption — according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 100-gram serving of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar has 531 calories whereas that much raw apple contains only 52 calories.
  • Avoid the dark chocolate that is higher in sugar and fat — in other words, avoid the chocolate coated bonbons that contain all the cream, marshmallow, and other unhealthy centers.
  • When you enjoy a little dark chocolate, eliminate another sweet from your diet, not another nutrient rich food.
  • If you have a choice between U.S. made dark chocolate or European, choose the European — they tend to be richer in the cocoa flavanols.

REMEMBER THE DARKER THE CHOCOLATE THE BETTER

What’s your favorite Valentine treat?

Loveland Remailing Program
Loveland Remailing Program – Miss Loveland Valentine

Sources:

The Journal of the American Medical Association, July 6, 2005; vol 294: pp 97-104.

American Heart Association: “High Blood Pressure.”

American Heart Association: What’s So Super About Superfoods? http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Whats-so-super-about-superfoods_UCM_457937_Article.jsp#.WJN4tRCcHq0
Updated:Dec 12,2016

News release, American Heart Association. http://newsroom.heart.org/news/consuming-flavanol-rich-cocoa-237327 Consuming flavanol-rich cocoa may enhance brain function
August 13, 2012 Categories: Heart News

American Society of Hypertension Nineteenth Annual Scientific Meeting and Exposition, New York, May 18-22, 2004.

Taubert, D. The Journal of the American Medical Association, Aug. 27, 2003; vol 290: pp 1029-1030.

Grassi, D. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, March 2005; vol 81: pp 611-614.

Taubert, D. The Journal of the American Medical Association, July 4, 2007; vol 298: pp 49-60.

Military Service Dogs: Silent Heroes

Military service dogs provide an important contribution to our armed forces and the protection of our country. They are our silent heroes. In my earlier article, As Veteran’s Day Approaches – A Look at Military Service Dogs, we reviewed their service historically and touched on one of their modern day duties – sentry. This article further explores the invaluable contributions of our military service dogs.

Messenger

Military Service Dog, Messenger, Sentry, Scout, Patrol, Explosive Detection, Casualty, Military Working Dog
Military Service Dog Messenger

Messenger dogs must travel in silence and use the terrain’s natural cover to go from one handler to another. Although loyalty is an important quality in all military working dogs, messenger dogs require more. When a dog works with two handlers, loyalty becomes an even more important quality.

Patrol/Scout

Dogs with patrol/scout duty must not only have the skills required for sentry dogs (warn, work in the dark, accompany a guard, and guarding), but in order to detect ambushes, snipers, and enemies within the area, they must work in silence. Only the brightest with a quiet demeanor can handle this duty.

Military Service Dog, Messenger, Sentry, Scout, Patrol, Explosive Detection, Casualty, Military Working Dog
Patrol/Scout Military Service Dog

Patrol/scout dogs can detect  enemy presence long before humans become aware of them – up to 1,000 yards. This dog alerts to the enemy in the following ways:

 

 

  • It stiffens its body,
  • pricks its hears,
  • raises its hackles, and
  • holds its tail rigid.

The presence of these service dogs not only boosts morale, but significantly decreases the risks associated with ambush.

Mine

Mine detection dogs also referred to as the “M-Dog” locate booby traps, trip wires, nonmetallic and metallic mines.

Tunnel

This duty was a specialty required in Vietnam. The Vietnam Cong tunnel dwellers caused the death of many of our military. They were difficult to locate until tunnel dogs were trained to find and explore these tunnels.

Casualty

Military Service Dog, Messenger, Sentry, Scout, Patrol, Explosive Detection, Casualty, Military Working Dog
Silent Heroes – Military Service Dogs

Just as search and rescue dogs are trained, so are casualty dogs to search for casualties and report those in obscure places. Time is of the essence in cases of hemorrhage or severe shock and every minute counts in a life or death situation.

Explosives Detection

Military Service Dog, Messenger, Sentry, Scout, Patrol, Explosive Detection, Casualty, Military Working Dog
Our Silent Heroes

Explosives detection dogs detect and alert to the chemical scent used in explosives. Their highly acute sense of smell makes them ideal for locating explosives regardless of how they are packaged. In our fight against the War on Terrorism, it is critical to locate explosives hidden in a vehicle, on an individual, or on the roadside and there is no other member more qualified to assist than this service dog.

Military service dogs serve our military, our veterans, and our country well. While these first two articles explore the duties they provide, the next will look at the preferred breeds for these duties. If you have had first hand experience with one of these amazing dogs, please share… .

Military Service Dog, Messenger, Sentry, Scout, Patrol, Explosive Detection, Casualty, Military Working Dogs
Military Service Dogs: Silent Heroes
GOD BLESS AMERICA!!

References:
Newton, Tom. “K-9 History: The Dogs of War!” Hahn’s 50th AP K-9.
http://www.uswardogs.org/war-dog-history/types-war-dogs/, US War Dog Association | National Headquarters, Types of War Dogs