Your Health — A Few Simple Moves

stretches, simple moves, exercises
A Few Simple Moves

Most people sit more than 8 or 9 hours a day. A few simple moves are required to help decrease the risk associated with sitting. It’s common knowledge that cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and a multitude of other life-threatening illnesses. According to the American Diabetes Association, sitting is the next “cigarette.” However, sitting is to a writer and a myriad of other professions, as running is to an athlete. It’s essential, and most of us experience pain as a result.

Solutions are few and far between and include things like standing desks (with different health issues) and expensive treadmill desks which contain inherent risks. Aside from the obvious of multitasking 2 different types of activities, one of which is on a moving machine — I know I’d fall flat on my face, and if I didn’t fall, I’d be trying not to fall instead of working.

Diane Foley — Physical Therapist
physical therapist, Diane Foley
Diane Foley, Physical Therapist

We are going to have a guest for this next series. Diane Foley is a physical therapist who is going to share a few simple moves that you may have done or heard of before, but always check with your physician before you make any changes to your health regimen and if something hurts when you do it, immediately stop.

First, a little background on Diane:

  • She received her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Sports Science at the University of New Mexico in 1986 and her Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy at Stockton State College in 1992.
  • Diane worked as an inpatient and outpatient Physical Therapist for McKee hospital for 11 years and has been actively setting up exercise programs for individuals for the last 8 years.
  • She is passionate about motivating people to become healthy so they can enjoy life to the fullest!

According to Diane, “Sitting for prolonged periods of time can put your body at risk for pain syndromes and injury due to muscle tightness. The good news is everyone has the ability to avoid and even reverse painful and tight muscles by taking short breaks during the day and actively stretching.”

Diane will identify the 5 most common muscle groups that tighten up with prolonged sitting and follow each muscle group with a stretch that can loosen up tight muscles. Each stretch should be performed for 20-30 seconds 2-3 times.

The first involves the neck muscles.
Neck Stretch, stretches
Neck Stretch

“Most people strain their neck forward when looking down or at a computer screen for prolonged periods of time.” To help alleviate this problem, Diane suggests the Side Bend Stretch.

Side Bend Stretch:

Sit or stand with your arms at your side. Keeping your shoulders down, move your head to the right trying to touch your ear to your shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch of the neck muscles on the left side. Optional: to further stretch, take your right hand and very gently put a small pressure on your head and try to stretch the ear to the shoulder a little further.

stretches, neck stretch
Stretches – Neck Stretch – Optional

Hold for 20-30 seconds and return to starting position. Repeat on the opposite side.


This is the first in a series of helpful stretches from Diane. Stay tuned for more.

If your job requires extensive sitting, do you have any recommendations for alleviating the pain?

Interactions: Interference with Mineral Need

scientific laboratory
Scientific Laboratory

Interactions can interfere with mineral needs. Without certain minerals, you cannot sustain life. And, just because a food is rich in a mineral, does not mean you will garner its benefits. Such is the case when it comes to mineral interactions with fiber and mineral interactions with each other. This article will explore these interactions.

Fiber Interactions:
Grain Products
Grain Products

When it comes to fiber, certain substances can bind to the mineral preventing its absorption. In particular, grain fiber contains a compound called phytic acid which binds to minerals limiting its absorption. Another plant substance that binds minerals, especially calcium, is oxalic acid, found in high concentrations in spinach, thus severely limiting the absorption of this mineral. Accordingly, diets high in fiber can limit the body’s absorption of zinc, iron, and other minerals. The current recommended intake of fiber is 25 grams for adult women and 38 grams for adult men. A higher intake could create problems with the body’s mineral status.

Mineral Interactions
minerals, supplements, lab
Mineral Supplements are Manufactured in the Lab

With respect to mineral interactions with each other, this problem arises most frequently with those taking a specific mineral supplement. This is because several minerals, such as

  • calcium,
  • magnesium,
  • copper, and
  • iron

are similarly sized with similar electrical charges. These similarities create a competition among them for absorption affecting their bioavailability. In other words, if one of these minerals are taken in excess, it decreases the absorption of the others. For example, copper absorption is decreased with an excessive intake of zinc. For this reason, individual mineral supplements should be avoided unless recommended by a health professional due to a medical condition or dietary deficiency. On the other hand, food sources, pose little risk for mineral to mineral interactions.

Farmer's Market Fresh, vegetables
Fresh from the Farmer’s Market – Vegetables – A Great Source of Vitamins and Minerals

The bottom line is that there is minimal threat of interference in absorption caused by phytic acid and oxalic acid, two compounds found in high fiber foods and vegetables, with natural foods rather than pills. When you use a natural food product, mineral to mineral interactions is not an issue.

(C) 2016 Karen Van Den Heuvel Fischer

The Mysterious Stanley Hotel – Above Ordinary

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado

The mysterious  Stanley Hotel touts itself as a hotel “7500 feet above ordinary.” Listed on the Historic Registry and featured as one of the most haunted hotels in America, I definitely agree. My husband and I had the pleasure of staying there on a number of occasions.

With Interesting:
  • guests including frequent visitors from various “ghost buster” groups,
  • ghost tours,
  • museum pieces, and

    The Stanley Hotel, museum pieces.
    The Stanley Hotel — Museum Pieces
  • the fact that it inspired the setting for movies, a television series, and Stephen King’s book The Shining, as well as my own — Hidden Bloodlines, it’s a fun place to visit.

They even offer a Ghost Adventure Package. What would F.O. Stanley think? I wonder…

The Stanley Hotel, Steamer, Estes Park
The Stanley Hotel —

F.O. Stanley, famous for his Steamer among other things, moved west because of his health. He suffered from symptoms of consumption and found reprieve after he arrived in Estes Park, Colorado, the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park. Excited about his health benefits, he wanted to build a hotel replete with all the eastern amenities he found the area lacking. He bought 160 acres from Lord Dunraven (more on him later) and initially built the main building of the Stanley Hotel. When it opened in 1909, it was the first hotel in the area to

Otis Elevator, Stanley Hotel
The Stanley Hotel’s Otis Elevator 1909

offer posh amenities like electricity, telephones, bathrooms en suite, and automobiles. It attracted visitors from all over, especially those who searched for a similar reprieve for their health.

Stanley, in some form or another, helped develop the town. By 1917, the municipality was official with civic organizations, a power plant, and water works. Together with his wife Flora, he worked to create the Rocky Mountain National Park, probably his most lasting legacy. His efforts went a long way toward his friendship with

portrait F.O. Stanley, Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Portrait of F.O. Stanley
The Stanley Hotel

Kyle Mills, a renowned naturalist.

By the 1970’s, this grand hotel was no longer grand. Faded by the wear and tear of time, it earned the reputation of being haunted. But for Stephen King’s stay which inspired his best-selling novel, The Shining, the hotel might have ceased to exist. In the next post on the Stanley Hotel, we’ll explore one of the most popular rooms in the hotel — the one frequented by many prominent guests and the ghost of Mrs. Wilson.

What historic hotels have you visited?

(C) 2016 Karen Van Den Heuvel Fischer

Southern Tomato Pie — Add to Your Summer Delight

Southern Tomato Pie, pie, farmers market
Southern Tomato Pie — A Summer Delight

Southern Tomato Pie is a delicious way to top off your summer! Savory, not sweet, take advantage of your garden or your local farmers market. Mouth watering fresh tomatoes and sweet Italian basil fill this pie along with a variety of cheeses. It makes a great side dish or a Vegetarian main dish — your choice.


  • 1 9-inch pie shell (store bought or homemade)
  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow onion chopped

    sweet Italian Basil, garden, herbs, farmers market
    Sweet Italian Basil — Home Grown or Farmers Market Fresh
  • 1/4 cup sliced basil (about 7-8 large leaves) — If you don’t have fresh, feel free to use dry.
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) of shredded cheese (use a combination of sharp cheddar cheese and Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or Gruyere)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (reduced fat preferred)


  • 1 tsp Hot Sauce if you like it hot (if not, skip this ingredient)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (Note: Used to remove additional liquid from the tomatoes. Cheese has a lot of naturally occurring salt. Generally, after squeezing the tomatoes, I do not use salt.)


To prepare the tomatoes:
tomatoes, vegetables, fresh
Fresh Ripe Tomatoes
  • horizontally cut them in half,
  • squeeze to ensure the removal of excess juice,
  • chop to yield about 3 cups.
    • If using salt, lightly salt the tomatoes and set them in a colander over a bowl to drain.
    • Note: Remove as much moisture as possible. Squeeze or press with paper towels, potato ricer, or a clean dish towel.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F:

Pre-bake the pie crust until browned lightly (about 8 to 10 minutes — a frozen pie crust may take a little longer). You may want to poke holes in the bottom with a fork to vent.

Layer the pre-baked pie shell:
  • Start with a layer of chopped onions on the bottom of the pre-baked pie crust,
  • spread the chopped, drained tomatoes over the onions, then
  • sprinkle the fresh sweet Italian basil over the tomatoes.
Prepare cheese mixture:
  • Mix together the shredded cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauce (if used), and black pepper in a medium sized bowl.
  • Spread this cheese mixture over the the tomatoes & basil.

Place Tomato Pie in the oven and bake at 350 degrees F until bubbly and browned. This usually takes between 25 and 45 minutes.

Visiting the Highlands, North Carolina area?

Southern Tomato Pie, tomatoes, basil,
Dusty’s Rhodes Superette
Highlands, N.C.
Serving Delicious Southern Tomato Pie

Enjoy breakfast or lunch at Dusty’s Rhodes Superette, a wholly owned family operation since 1952. The original owners built this market with an attached apartment where current owners, Dusty and Kitty were born. With fresh produce, meats, specialty foods, a bakery, deli and more, it’s a great place to stop, shop and enjoy a meal. They also make a delicious Tomato Pie!

market, dining, breakfast, lunch, Highlands, NC
Dusty’s Rhodes Superette
Highlands, N.C.

The Supernatural — Fact or Fiction?

guardian angel, the supernatural, spirits
Guardian Angel – A Supernatural Phenomenon

Is the supernatural fact or fiction? Angels, demons, ghosts/spirits, the Force, God…anything that cannot be explained by science or the laws of nature. Don’t we all in one way or another believe in the supernatural? Books, movies, and stories abound. How many of you remember sharing ghost stories around the camp fire?

camp fire, stories, fun, laughter
Around the Camp Fire

Just look at some of the most popular television shows, both past and present — Touched by an Angel, Poltergeist, Game of Thrones … the list can go on and on. Prior to the political campaigns, the news was fraught with stories of successful exorcisms and exorcisms gone bad. Numerous reports of hauntings and sightings by ghost busters made headlines. It makes for great marketing potential. The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, featured as one of the most haunted hotels in the country, inspired the setting for my book, Hidden Bloodlines.

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado
The Stanley Hotel
Our Wedding

It started with a weekend adventure at the Stanley Hotel for our wedding anniversary and we were definitely in for a treat. At the registration desk, a group of ghost busters, replete with the necessary equipment joined us. Their excitement was contagious as they discussed what ghosts they hoped to detect as well as when and where it would all start. We were even invited to join them. Although we declined their kind invitation, we heard them in the halls outside of our room trying to detect a spirit seen on a ladder going to the roof. Although they shared their disappointment with us the next day, it did not stop them from planning their next visit. They just knew the next visit would be THE visit.

supernatural, fog, night
The Supernatural – Fact or Fiction? Night Fog …

Solicitations for stories on miracles, angels, and other unexplainable happenings occur on a regular basis. I have received such solicitations more times than I can count. Many have either personally experienced miracles or know someone who has. I have. This is the first in a series featuring the Stanley Hotel and the supernatural.

What do you believe?

(C) 2016 Karen Van Den Heuvel Fischer

The Ultimate 5 Week Bran Muffins

5 Week Bran Muffin, Fresh Fruit
The Ultimate 5 Week Bran Muffins

The Ultimate 5 Week Bran Muffins are not only delicious, but they are healthy as well. Food does not have to be high in fat, salt, and sugar to be scrumptious. With the summer months upon us and the farmer’s markets at their best, we can take advantage of the succulent fruit rich in vitamins and minerals that are available to us. Most will do for this easy, flavorful, healthy muffin that can be eaten for breakfast or dessert as a healthy alternative. The particular muffins shown in these photos have Georgia peaches, blueberries, bananas, apples and walnuts. You can use whatever fresh fruit you enjoy and is available (or a combination).


5 Week Bran Muffins, bananas, blueberries, walnuts, peaches, apples
5 Week Bran Muffins — Perfect for Breakfast or Dessert.Ingredients
  • 1 (15 oz.) box Raisin Bran
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated Splenda (if you do not wish to use Splenda, increase the sugar for a total of 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat graham flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, apple pie spice, or pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 quart buttermilk


  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Add beaten eggs, oil, and buttermilk to the well mixed dry ingredients.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Tip: I generally use a 3 cup cereal bowl to make a batch at a time.

Farmer's Market, Fresh Fruit
Farmer’s Market – Fruit


To this batter, you may add approximately 1/2 cup of your favorite diced fruit — fresh (or frozen) like peaches, apples, mashed ripe bananas, and blueberries. Walnuts make a delicious and healthy addition.



  • Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 of the way or bake in muffin baking paper cups.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. If they get too brown bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

    Bran Muffins, Dessert, Breakfast, Party Snack
    Healthy & Delicious 5 Week Bran Muffins — Perfect as a Dessert, Breakfast, and Party Snack

You may use the entire batter to make the muffins all at once and freeze some for later (they freeze beautifully), or make what you want to eat that day and refrigerate the batter for the next time you want a warm muffin fresh out of the oven. The batter should last up to approximately 5 weeks in the refrigerator.

The Ultimate 5 Week Bran Muffins have been a favorite of ours. It packs a healthy, tasty punch few could deny.

Farmer’s Market Fresh — Salsa Recipe

Farmer's Market Fresh
Vegetables and Fruits — Rick in Vitamins

There is nothing better than the fresh produce available from your local farmer’s market. Typically it’s picked fresh that day and is rich in vitamins, minerals, and flavor. It also gives us the opportunity to support our local businesses. Check out my prior post —  Vitamins – Storage In the Body and Out.

Recipe - Farmer's Market Fresh SalsaThis salsa recipe is an easy and great way to enjoy fresh produce. Feel free to double it or triple it based on the number of people you plan to serve.

Ingredients for Farmer’s Market Fresh Salsa
Garlic & Tomatoes Farmer's Market Fresh
Garlic and Tomatoes
  • 1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup of diced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt to taste — Americans tend to consume far more salt than is necessary or healthy. When I make the salsa, do not use salt, however, I do realize that most people prefer it.


Directions — Putting it all together
Farmer's Market Fresh
Jerusalem Shuk – Breads

Combine all the ingredients. Serve with your choice of fresh vegetables, tacos, corn chips, nano chips, pita chips, baked or toasted french bread, or anything else that your heart desires.

Karen in Cornfield
Karen in Cornfield

I love sweet corn and have tried cooking it every way imaginable to ensure the sweetest, most delicious taste. Boiling corn probably does it the most injustice, although it may be the easiest. I grilled it shucked and wrapped in foil, not shucked and wrapped in foil, and right on the grill, without shucking it. Then, a farmer told us we were “wrecking” our corn and shared the secret…. You soak the corn in water with the husk on for 30-45 minutes then wrap each ear in foil and grill each side for about 7 minutes. You will have the most succulent, sweetest corn you have ever tasted. As an added plus, it freezes beautifully (I take it off the cob) and enjoy that summer sweetness throughout the winter.

What is your favorite summertime recipe?