Friday, October 30, 2015

Easy Healthy "Caramel" Apples

Autumn is the time of year when the leaves embarrass the flowers. It's also the time of year when my soul craves warm, spicy apple cider and gooey, sweet caramel apples. But, for the past few years, I have not eaten caramel apples. It’s because they come with an undesirable companion--corn syrup. 

Yesterday I couldn’t tame my craving. I had to have a caramel apple. And out of that intense craving came one of my most delicious and easy recipes: Healthy “Caramel” Apples. The whole family will have fun making and eating these apples.

Ingredients
  • Organic Granny Smith apples
  • approximately ¼ c organic natural peanut butter for each apple
  • 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup for each ¼ c of peanut butter
  • ¼ c organic unsalted dry roasted peanuts for each apple

Directions
Wash and dry apples. Mix the maple syrup with the peanut butter in a small bowl. Crush peanuts in a zip lock bag using a rolling pin. Place them on a plate. With a butter knife, spread peanut butter and maple syrup mixture over apples. Roll apples in the crushed peanuts. Refrigerate for an hour before eating. (Note that the spread will not harden like a caramel apple, but the flavor will make up for it.)



Insert a wooden candy apple stick, or just slice it up. 



Enjoy! Store leftovers in the refrigerator. (But there probably won't be any.)


What fall traditions do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.



Domonique

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Monday, October 26, 2015

What You Need to Know About the American Cancer Society's New Breast Cancer Guidelines

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but breast cancer is a topic that should always be on our minds. One of the most important things we can do, men and women, is to be life-long learners. Stay informed, especially with new guidelines.

I recently learned of the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) guidelines for women at average risk for breast cancer. They include the following:
  • Delay mammograms for 5 years. Instead of the previously recommended yearly mammogram starting at 40 years, the ACS now recommends mammograms begin at 45 years.
  • At 55 years, women should have mammograms every other year.
  • It goes a step further and recommends women forgo clinical breast exams and self-exams.

(American Cancer Society, October 20, 2015)

Thinking about the ACS’s new guidelines reminds me of the time I received a bill from a medical center. I was shocked by the amount. I noticed my insurance coverage had changed. My insurance company at the time no longer paid for certain tests. I mentioned this to one of my health care professionals during my next visit, and the health care professional said something startling to me. It went something like this: If people don’t have the money to pay for tests and treatments because insurance companies won’t pay for them, they probably won’t get the tests and treatments. As a result, a person’s life could be shortened. But, it saves the insurance companies money.

I'm not the only one who is uncomfortable with the new breast cancer guidelines:

                                                 (CBS This Morning, October 21, 2015)

  • Will insurance companies follow the new guidelines? If so, how many women, 40-44 years old, will forgo mammograms?
  • How many women know if their breast cancer risks are average or high?
  • How many women have found a cancerous lump during a breast self-exam?
  • How many doctors have found a cancerous lump during a clinical exam?
  • How many mammograms detected a cancerous lump in women ages 56, 58, 60 . . . respectively (every other year after 55 years)?
The answers to these questions are important because these women’s lives are important—more important than the statistics and money spent on false positives.

How will you join the fight against breast cancer? This is the story in you. Share it.


Domonique

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Reference
American Cancer Society. (October 20, 2015). American Cancer Society breast cancer screening guidelines overview. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50CdcLJsIEI

CBS This Morning. (October 21, 2015). Controversial new mammogram set later testing age. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP_H9wZRnvg


Monday, October 19, 2015

Breast Cancer Awareness: Join the Fight

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but breast cancer is a topic that should always be on our minds. A few years ago, I received an email that contained the link to the following video:

(sowhttt, September 10, 2008)

This video was one of the catalysts that led to drastic changes in my life, particularly my diet. I realized I had placed too much trust in the big businesses and corporations that produce our food—not for our good but for their profit. The use of antibiotics, hormones, grain feed, and inhumane confinement all contribute to the substances in beef and dairy that can cause illnesses in humans.

The Mediterranean diet has be hailed as an anti-inflammatory diet that may reduce breast cancer. Foods like wild caught fish, nuts (if you're not allergic), beans, legumes, olive oil, vegetables, and fruit usually do not provoke an inflammatory response in the body. I recommend taking additional steps:
  • Read labels, and make choices that support a healthy long life.
  • Eat less beef and dairy. When you do eat beef and dairy, make sure it is from grass fed beef. Grass fed beef is getting easier to find now. We buy ours from Whole Foods and Fresh Thyme. Fresh Thyme carries plain yogurt from Maple Hill Creamery. The yogurt comes from grass fed cows. For those who like flavored yogurt, it only takes a few minutes to add some chopped/sliced organic berries and raw honey to sweeten it. 
Prepared foods may be convenient, but if you analyze the ingredients, they may cost you more than you are willing to pay: your health. It takes less time than you think to prepare your own products. Two small appliances make the preparation time very fast: a food processor and a blender.

One of my quick and healthy choices is making my own almond milk. Have you seen the ingredient lists on most cartons of prepared almond milk? They are unhealthy. So, I place a handful of raw almonds and 1 ½ cups of water in my food processor. If I drink it, I strain it in a small mesh strainer. If I use it to make oatmeal raisin cookies, I don’t strain it. There’s no need because I put nuts in the cookies anyway. It takes less than 2 minutes. (Some people soak their almonds in water overnight. When I plan ahead, I do this. But if I don't plan ahead, I don't let this stop me from making my own almond milk.)

Some of my loved ones have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Over the years, three have died. I have concluded that cancer is a cruel disease that deserves our attention. We need to fight against it. 

How have you engaged in the fight against breast cancer? This is the story in you. Share it. 

Domonique

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Reference
sowhttt. (September 10, 2008). Monsanto & cancer milk: Fox News kills story & fires reporters. 

Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JL1pKlnhvg0

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Homework Helper: How to Make the Most of Studying

I used to think learning styles didn’t matter until my son was in middle school. He was quite different from my daughter who could read, take notes, memorize, and do well on tests and quizzes. When my son was taking 7th grade geography, he was required to memorize large amounts of information about various countries. He struggled, and he was not satisfied with his grade. Ricky also wanted to win the grand prize for having the highest number of points in geography at the end of the school year. (Thankfully, they don’t do that anymore.) Reading, making sense of the text, taking notes, and trying to memorize the information wasn’t working for him in geography. I became a believer of learning styles when I analyzed the situation. I realized that Ricky could hear a song and memorize the words quickly. He is an auditory learner. I instructed Ricky to tape record the text book chapters and to listen to them. This worked well! Long story short: Ricky won the grand prize in his geography class. The grand prize was wait for it . . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . a geography book. But he soon got over the shock of it and focused on his class status. Other tips for auditory learners—
  • listen to audio books (eBooks, including text books, usually have an audio option as well as a smart phone app so you can listen on the go)
  • record and listen to notes
  • discuss concepts with others

You might have a child like my daughter Alana. She's a visual learner. She takes notes and makes diagrams. As an adult, she loves to make graphic organizers for fun from an app on her IPad. Other tips for visual learners—
  • draw pictures and matrices
  • highlight texts
  • watch videos

If your child is a hands-on learner (kinesthetic), he or she will benefit from “doing” something. Making a model of a concept is a good way to increase understanding and to retain the information. Other tips for hands on learners-
  • role play
  • involve the senses: hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching
  • attend museums and displays

Many people are combination learners. They benefit from hearing and doing or seeing and doing. So, a combination of techniques may work. But don’t limit your child. If he or she is a visual learner, play games and engage in activities that require him or her to use auditory and hands on strategies.

If you don’t know how your child learns, be observant. Does he or she grasp a math concept by listening? Or, does he or she need to see a step-by-step process? Maybe he or she needs to use manipulatives to understand.

I’m a combination of visual and hands-on. I am lost when I am in situations in which I have to hear only. I must take notes and make diagrams in order for the information to stick with me. My understanding increases when I make something that demonstrates a process or shows concept relationships.

One of my favorite ways to stimulate visual learners is through PowerPoint. Alternate question and answer slides. For example, type a question on slide 1, and type the answer on slide 2. You can even time the slides so your child has a few seconds to think about the answer. (Did you know that when you close your eyes, you can improve memory recall?

How do you learn? This is the story in you. Share it.

Domonique

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