Pediatric Cancer Moms: The Most Amazing Moms I Know

I joined the pediatric cancer club in 2016 as the grandmother of a child with cancer. Never in my wildest dreams (nightmare) did I think pediatric cancer would become a family tagline. Never. We are all healthy, and while we often had some unique medical concerns, cancer was not one of them. Since 2016, the sheer grit, talent, and perseverance of what is called the “cancer”  mom continues to amaze me.

 

“Cancer” moms are resilient and generous

Google “cancer” mom and you get information on mom’s with cancer, not mom’s with children who have cancer. Even google can’t handle that search. Now, if you ever hear an adult cancer survivor talk of their journey, they often say the cancer was a “gift”. I certainly don’t see pediatric cancer as a gift, but it has opened my eyes to the absolute strength of those moms as well as the phenomenal generosity of others.

Can you imagine wrapping up brain cancer treatment of your son and then soon after donning a long red gown to attend a fundraiser to support pediatric cancer patients? This “cancer” mom  pulled this off with such elegance that you would never know her son was just wrapping up treatment. Time after time I see poised, strong, and resilient “cancer” moms moving through life with grace and boulder-like strength.

Helping others with the pediatric cancer challenge

A central theme with cancer moms is to help others going through the same experience. It might be the worst emotional trauma on earth to a parent, and so many of these moms (and dads) only want to help others in any way they can to lessen the pain for others. It is not about themselves, but always other families. Here are some amazing ways these moms have helped other cancer families:

  • There is a local cancer mom that is a photographer. She offers to take photos of the cancer warrior children during the holidays. She reaches out for toy donations and then all these children receive toys along with the precious family photos.This act of generosity is priceless to those dealing with pediatric cancer.
  • There is a Chicago area charity called Cancer Kiss my Cooley (CKMC). The purpose of this organization is to create special moments and lasting memories for families living with pediatric brain tumors. The founders of CKMC lost their son, and their son Carter only wanted “everyone’s dreams to come true.” The organization was named after a phrase that Carter used to say during treatment. His backside was called his “cooley” which is Italian slang for “rear end”. He would sing “cancer kiss my cooley” during treatment and hence the legacy name of this organization. There is a mom (and dad) behind this special organization.
  • There is a mom that runs marathons and she is my daughter. She ran two, and runs her third in October, 2019. These marathons are to raise funds for brain cancer research. And then there are the toy drives so that children receiving brain radiation can have a gift after each treatment. And, other children receive Christmas gifts at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Why does her running matter for research? Only 4% of federal government cancer research funding goes to study pediatric cancer and only a small fraction of that is slated for brain cancer research.

A toast to all moms

So, I give a toast to all moms this Mother’s day. But for cancer moms, I will toast you and also thank you for making lemonade from lemons. It really does take a village to fight and support pediatric cancer. On this Mother’s day, consider your blessings if your children are healthy, and support those that are not with a shoulder to lean on or a donation in your community.

To read more or donate:

Cancer Kiss My Cooley

Lurie Children’s Hospital

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Coping With Pet Loss: Try Walking

Pet loss and coping

RIP my friend

Grief is what we feel at loss. The loss of a person, a four-legged buddy, or your past way of life. Everyone grieves and copes differently. But even though we all grieve in different ways, we all need to cope. Walking can be a coping tool for all loss, including pet loss. As hard as it may be to start walking to cope with grief, it’s a tool that most of us can use as we cope with loss of any sort.

Planned walking for coping with pet loss

I walk regularly. Walking for me is usually for my physical self-care. But, walking can be for mental health as well. On this day, walking is for my mental well-being. I got on the treadmill after being away from it for a few days. After 2 miles, I got off the treadmill. Then, I got ready for the next exercise event I had mentally planned so I could start to feel better. I had suffered yet another pet loss that I needed to heal from.

Over the weekend, I lost my seemingly healthy 12 year old cat. He was a very cool cat that acted like a dog. Everyone loved him, including all my granddaughters. He is the third fur baby I have lost in 3 years. His death was very unexpected as he had passed his vet check-up less than a month ago with flying colors. He was eating, drinking, playing and being his normal self. I have a hole in my heart. I haven’t really gotten over the loss of my last two pets, and was cherishing the “wellness” of my remaining fur baby.

My planned strategy

What was my planned exercise event? I got off the treadmill and went to a canine rescue shelter that allows volunteers to walk the dogs. I knew I needed to do this for my mental health to help healing. The walking of the shelter dog was purely selfish. But, I just knew it would help me and help whatever dog was allowed to escape for the 30 minute walk. It was a calculated move for my mind that was a win-win. I can’t wait to go back.

Walking for mental health

So how does walking help our mental health and just plain old coping? Here are some reasons researchers have suggested walking can help lift our mood and help our mental health.

Fatigue. Regular walking can actually alleviate physical fatigue. Physical fatigue begets mental fatigue. I know when I have experienced severe emotional stress, I always feel physically exhausted. As exhaustion lessens, our minds are better able to refocus and cope with life.

Better sleep. We don’t need to be a scientist to know that a good night’s sleep can be magical. A good sleep allows our mind to start healing and lets us get through the next day more effectively. Better sleep casts a better light on EVERYTHING life throws at us.

Hormones. Some hormones will be increased and others lowered. The shifts in the hormones are of benefit to our brain. Walking releases mood lifting hormones called endorphins. Endorphins reduce pain and improve our mood. At the same time, mild exercise can decrease the stress related hormone called cortisol. While we need cortisol, we don’t need the blood levels that come along with chronic stress.

And walking in sunshine? Even better! The sun will allow your body to make vitamin D which will boost serotonin levels. Increased serotonin levels is a known mood booster.

RIP my Louis. You loved hanging with me by the computer and the treadmill. We had a nice visit in Michigan on the porch just before you left me. I am so glad you were able to see all the birds and do your goofy chirp.

For more excellent tips on how to manage grief from pet loss, see the suggestions from the American Veterinary Medical  Association.

Grieving moves in stages. The passing of time helps our wounds. Have you walked or turned to physical activity to help soothe the process? Please share.

 

 

 

Enough Vitamin D: A Challenge

Why is vitamin D important?

A large percentage of people worldwide are not meeting the challenge of getting enough vitamin D. Doctors and dietitians have known for decades that this nutrient is important for bone health, but the list of reasons why we need optimal levels is growing. Researchers note an extensive list which includes warding off cancer, heart disease, depression, dementia, certain skin diseases, and high blood pressure. As vitamin D receptors are everywhere in the body, any part of the body will be affected by a deficiency.

Why we aren’t getting enough to reach our goals?

It’s dubbed the “sunshine” vitamin because we can both make it from sun exposure and get it from food. Given the right circumstances, our bodies are very adept at making this vitamin. Ultraviolet light from the sun shines on a cholesterol compound on our skin, then that compound is transformed into a vitamin D precursor which gets absorbed into the blood. Over the next day, the liver and kidneys finish converting this compound to the active form of vitamin D.

The factors that interfere with making this vitamin are directly related to factors that block our exposure to the sun. Think sunscreen use, air pollution, city living, geography, and dreary winters. Even our skin pigment is a factor as darker-skinned people synthesize less vitamin D than lighter-skinned people.

Sunshine makes vitamin D: a challenge to get enough

Enough vitamin D: A challenge

Food sources.

So if we cannot make it efficiently, how we can we get it from food? In terms of food sources, it’s interesting to compare sunshine vs. food. According to an old but very interesting 2009 AARP article (unknown author), you would need to eat the following amounts of food just to get the amount the amount of vitamin D your body makes in 10 minutes:

  • 6.5 pounds of mushrooms
  • 150 egg yolk
  • 3.75 pounds of salmon
  • 30 servings of fortified cereal
  • 2 pounds of sardines
  • 30 cups of fortified orange juice

Adult requirements.

While this is an interesting comparison, it is not a realistic diet strategy. The current adult recommendations for vitamin D intake are 600 IUs for those aged 19-70 and 800 IUs for those over 70 years old. Unfortunately,  foods with vitamin D are limited.  Some common foods with vitamin D content include:

  • 566 IU from 3 oz. swordfish
  • 440 IU from 1 tsp. cod liver oil
  • 400 IU from 3 oz. salmon
  • 228 IU from 3 oz tuna
  • 137 IU from 1 cup fortified orange juice
  • 120 IU from 1 cup fortified milk
  • 100 IU from 3/4 cup enriched cereals
  • 40 IU from 1 egg

As you can see, with limited sun exposure and limited foods with vitamin D, it can be challenging to have adequate vitamin levels. This is why supplementation is such a hot topic and why many people end up taking a supplement. The question is, “how much to take?”  A simple blood test determines if you need a supplement and how much to take.

What is your experience with vitamin D levels on your health and how did you determine you needed to supplement your diet?

For more thoughts on supplements for baby boomers.

How to Buy Vitamin Supplements: Be a Savvy Consumer

We are a pill popping society, and we know it. It is what Americans seem to love to do. But, do you really know how to buy vitamin supplements? It’s best to be a savvy shopper, as there’s no sense in making poor supplement choices that may hurt you and your wallet. There is such a thing as too much of certain nutrients. Understanding some key points on how to buy supplements will make you a savvy and healthier consumer.

supplement fact label

Supplement Fact Label

Who might benefit from supplement use?

People that would benefit from supplements include: those with nutrient deficiencies, women of childbearing years, or the elderly on certain medications. People with low calorie intakes and those that skip entire food groups might also benefit. While it is always best to have your nutritional requirements met through a healthy food selection, appropriate dosages of supplements can “supplement” your diet by filling in the gaps.

The bad news on supplements

The bad news about supplements is that overdoing dosages can be harmful to your health. Many people have the “if some is good, more is better” mentality. The truth is that scientists have documented upper limits of safety, and beyond those limits you are putting your health at risk. Mega doses of supplements are actually categorized as drugs, and excessive amounts of supplements can cause symptoms ranging from nerve damage to liver failure.

Another little known fact is that just because you can purchase a supplement at a store, doesn’t mean it is safe. Supplements sold in this country have virtually no regulation in terms of safety. Under current law, the FDA is responsible for taking action on unsafe supplements already on the market. But, it does not need to screen or pre-approve a supplement before it gets to the store shelves. This means you need to be a savvy supplement shopper if you decide to take supplements.

Here are 5 tips to help you buy vitamin supplements:

  1. Look at the Supplement Fact label (example in above photo); choose a multi-nutrient supplement that does not have very high percentages of nutrients (around 100% Daily Value (DV) would be safe). If many nutrients are 200% or higher, consider selecting a different supplement.
  2. Look for the USP symbol or text on a label.usp logo on a supplement lable
    The USP symbol or text means that the supplement will dissolve in your digestive system, and the ingredients are guaranteed.
  3. Supplements with added ingredients such as parsley, alfalfa, and herbs offer no added health benefit to the consumer. There would be too little added to the supplement-best to just eat the parsley!
  4. Don’t let terms such as “stress relief”, “time release”, or “natural” drive your brand selection. These are only marketing terms!
  5. Because there is no regulation on supplements prior to arriving on the store shelves, consider purchasing supplements that are name brands. These companies are more likely to have their own internal high quality control standards, as they have a reputation to be protected, which can also ultimately protect the consumer.

If in doubt about whether to supplement or not, a registered/licensed dietitian can assist you! And remember, you are still getting nutrients from foods that are fortified, like cereals.

For additional safety guidelines on supplement use, click here.

What are your thoughts about supplement use and safety?

 

 

10 Easter Egg Safety Tips: Keep Your Eggs Safe to Eat

Easter egg safe eating tips

Easter Egg Safety: Keep it fun to hunt and safe to eat!

Keep in mind Easter egg safety during the holidays

The egg hunt is on! But, if you want to eat those Easter eggs after the Easter hunt, you need to be thinking about Easter egg food safety. Families all over the country will buy, dye, and hunt for eggs in the next few days. If you handle the eggs properly, those colored eggs will be safe to eat in the upcoming week. Add the leftover eggs to a salad, eat as a snack or a even a quick breakfast.

Nutrients in an egg.

A hard boiled egg has only about 80 calories, but is rich in many nutrients, including protein, phytochemicals, many B-complex vitamins, and vitamins A, D, and E. If eggs are from chickens fed an omega-3 rich feed, the hatched eggs will also contain omega-3 fatty acids which we need more of in the American diet. Another nutritional perk of eggs hatched in 2019, is they are significantly lower in cholesterol. Today’s eggs have an average of only 180 mg. of cholesterol, down from about 220 mg. cholesterol in years past!

Here are ten tips to keep those eggs safe to eat after Easter

  1. When purchasing your eggs, make sure there are no broken or dirty eggs. The shell keeps the inside of the eggs free of bacteria and a broken shell can allow for bacterial contamination.

  2. Be sure to check the date stamped on the carton. Avoid purchasing eggs which are stamped with a “sell by” date close to the purchase date.

  3. After purchasing, refrigerate eggs immediately at 40° or less.  Avoid putting eggs in the refrigerator door, as temperatures will be inconsistent and may not meet temperature guidelines.

  4. For eggs already in your refrigerator, you may safely use them for both coloring and eating even if the sell-by date has already passed. In fact, they can be safely eaten 2-4 weeks past that stamped “sell by” date. If your eggs are typically stored in another container in the refrigerator, and you have no idea how long they have been there, it is best to pitch them and start with fresh eggs for coloring if you plan on eating them.

  5. Consumers should not wash egg shells prior to hard boiling.  When the chicken lays an egg it has a protective film coating to protect the inside of the egg. Washing the shell can actually remove that protective film, and hasten the likelihood of bacteria moving into the egg.

  6. Cook the eggs thoroughly.  Place your eggs in a pan of water and bring to a boil. Just as water boils, remove from the burner and cover with a lid.  Let eggs remain in the hot water for 9 minutes for medium eggs and 15 minutes for extra large.

  7. After cooked, refrigerate the eggs within a 2-hour period.

  8. Use a food safe dye so you can plan on eating your Easter eggs!

  9. Do not plan on eating Easter eggs which have been placed on the ground.  This becomes a perfect recipe for making you ill as the bacteria from the ground can enter the cooked egg. Stick with the plastic version for egg hunting in the yard.

  10. If you are hiding real Easter eggs, pick clean areas to hide them inside your home. Bacteria lurks there as well.

    Leave cooked Easter eggs out for no more than 2 hours.  Safely eat your leftover Easter eggs for up to 7 days.

Do you do anything special with leftover eggs?

Chocolate Ice Cream Cake Roll: A Versatile Holiday Recipe

IMG_3109(1)

Cake ready to serve.

I have been making this sponge ice cream roll cake for over 4 decades. It has become a favorite holiday recipe and even the in-laws and grand kids ask for it each holiday. It was passed down to me from an Aunt and I hope my own daughters eventually make it to keep it in the family. For now, they will assume it’s my job!

  Here’s what I like about it:

  • I love that it can be made in advance of the holiday. Whip it up and put in the freezer.  I’d say it could freeze for months, but it will most likely never last that long.
  • I call this a chameleon recipe because it can be changed so many ways to suit dietary needs or taste buds.  You can use a gluten free flour mix and make it a gluten free recipe. After cutting out most wheat, I have used gluten free baking flour for this recipe and no one can tell the difference. I still get a treat and no one is the wiser. You can also use lactose free ice cream and make it lactose free as well. You can even modify this recipe and make it a vanilla roll or put a different flavor of ice cream in the roll. There’s pretty much something for everyone.
Chocolate Ice Cream Roll Cake (about 10 servings, 
depending on your greediness)

Ingredients:

6 eggs, separate the egg whites into one bowl and the egg yolks
into a second bowl
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. cocoa
4 Tbsp. sifted flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
confectioner’s sugar-have at least a cup to spread on foil
and use to wrap up the roll
About 3 cups of ice cream

Get Ready to Bake

Preheat the oven to 325 ⁰. Grease a 15.5 x 10.5 jelly roll pan with vegetable spray. On top of that, insert a piece of wax paper onto the pan and spray that as well.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and add ½ tsp. cream of tartar. Gradually beat in ½ cup sugar. Set aside.  Beat the egg yolk until thick. Add ½ cup sugar. Mix the cocoa and flour and add to the yolk mixture. Mix and then add the salt and vanilla. Fold the egg yolk mixture gently into the egg white mixture.

Spread in the well greased jelly roll pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, just until the surface springs back when touched lightly with finger (be sure to avoid over baking as it will crack while rolling up).  Loosen the edges with a knife and then immediately turn upside down on a large sheet of foil that is sprinkled with a generous amount of confectioner’s sugar. At this point, layer your ice cream on top (don’t wait for it to cool). I usually put at least a quarter inch of ice cream across the top, but it can be more. If the sponge cake starts to stick on the foil, just roll some confectioner’s sugar on that as well.

IMG_3106

The warm sponge cake topped with ice cream and ready to roll up.

To make this a vanilla roll, I just replace the 4 Tbsp. cocoa with 2 Tbsp. of flour (so a total of 6 Tbsp. flour) and follow the rest of the recipe.

~200 calories, 8 g fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 5 g protein~ Happy Easter

 

Without Wheat: Blueberry Streusel Teff Muffins

I decided to finally try using the teff flour I bought months ago. Muffins always seem like a forgiving baked product to start on, so teff muffins it was. It seems as though a lot of the available recipes require another flour in addition to the teff flour. The teff flour can make a drier product so a recipe that has sweet potatoes, bananas, applesauce, and berries would seem to be a good fit. I took a conventional recipe and modified the flours.

1/4 canola oil
1 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 cup teff flour
1 cup Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten free Flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup frozen organic blueberries, thawed and well drained

Streusel Topping:
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Heat oven to 400º . Mix the streusel ingredients into a bowl and set asside. Generously grease or spray muffin pan. Mix the milk, oil, vanilla, and egg together. Stir in both flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt until moistened. Fold in the drained blueberries. Divide batter in 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle the streusel topping on top and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the pan immediately.

These muffins, as is the case with all muffins, freeze well for a quick grab start to the day or easy snack. 

Yeild 12 muffins: Each muffin has 199 calories, 6 g fat, 30 g carbohydrates, and 4 g protein

If you are looking to experiment with another wheat free flour, try my buckwheat muffin recipe.

Have you used Teff flour in a baked product?

6 Food Staples for Healthier Eating: Stocking Your Kitchen

food staples prepared for healthy meal planningA “healthy” kitchen stocked with food staples is a pretty straightforward path to healthier eating. Who doesn’t care about healthy eating? I think most people would like to make better food choices, but end up floundering for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there is no healthy food in the house, they are tired, not motivated in the moment, or just too tired to care about eating a healthy diet. It’s important to keep in mind that a healthy meal does not need to be labor intensive and time consuming. Keeping basic food staples around can simplify the process of carrying out healthier eating. Here’s my list of 6 food staples and what you can do with it.

Vegetables

Everyone knows vegetables are important to a healthy diet. The problem is that even though people know this, they are not going out of their way to eat enough. I have not really figured out why, but I think it is because there is a bit more labor required in order to eat most vegetables. You know, scrape, clean, cut, etc. The “work around”  is to prep some for the week, and bag them up. For instance, if you like peppers, cut a few up for the work week and put your portions in Ziploc bags for the week. You will not need to stop and chop, just grab your portion. Don’t forget you can also drink your vegetables by stocking low sodium V-8 juice which is full of nutrients like potassium and vitamin C.

Fruit

Yes, it is good for you. No, it does not contain too much sugar and is ok to eat even if a diabetic. While we do not have a ton of choices in the Midwest right now, every store has a nice variety of bagged organic frozen fruit. Keep it on hand to use as a smoothie.  When I am hard pressed for good nutrition on the run, I love doing the smoothie trick.  Want to increase the protein? My trick is to add 1/2 cup of cottage cheese to the mix which boosts the protein to 15 grams.  Smoothie recipe.

Grains

Despite all the negative comments regarding carbohydrates, grains are an important part of a healthy diet.  Grains provide fiber and B vitamins. They can be dished up differently for different people. Whole grain pasta, crackers, and cereal can keep in the cupboard as a staple side dish or even eaten as an occasional entrée.  I frequently have sheepish clients say they eat cereal for dinner. Guess what? I have done that as well topped with a fruit such as a banana or strawberries. As with the vegetables, planning ahead and freezing some grain based foods also works to foster a healthier diet. Freezing wheat free muffins and gluten free waffles for later use is super helpful. Wondering how to buy a loaf of bread, here are some tips.

Milk or milk substitute

I’m lactose intolerant, so I keep lactose free milk in my kitchen. I also enjoy kefir for my smoothies. If you don’t want to drink cow’s milk, you should still have a milk alternative in your kitchen. Milk alternatives are typically fortified with calcium and will have a similar calcium content to cow milk. Options are: almond, soy, rice, hemp, or the now popular oat milk.

Eggs 

Despite the new bad press, an egg is a wonderful package of nutrients for very few calories. Eggs have high quality  protein and the cholesterol content of eggs has been declining. Today, eggs such as EggLands Best Eggs have omega-3 fatty acids and are a source of vitamin E.  An average egg has only about 180 mg. of cholesterol. If you still want to decrease your dietary cholesterol while eating several eggs, consider mixing a whole egg with an egg substitute like Egg Beaters.

Frozen Meals

Healthy frozen dinners are included in my list of important food staples. I can pretty much guarantee that a Healthy Choice or Kashi brand frozen meal is going to be a healthier option than heading to your local fast food joint. When time is tight or energy is already spent, having a few of these on hand can save the day. Many frozen dinners are now lower in sodium, fat, calories, and preservatives, but high in flavor. Don’t forget, you can freeze your own meals as well.  Double up your recipe, and freeze the other half.

Do you have more tips for fast healthy eating?

Without Wheat: Buckwheat Flour Muffins

Buckwheat muffins with chocolate chips

Buckwheat flour muffins with chocolate chips

I started my life without wheat by making buckwheat flour muffins

Personally, I REALLY enjoy eating whole grains. And, I used to eat a ton of wheat. Sadly, my wheat days are basically over due to my food sensitivity testing. I started weaning myself from wheat by making these buckwheat flour muffins.

For others, it may be apersonal decision to pull back because you need or want to be gluten-free (products labeled gluten free are also wheat free). Whatever the circumstances, there are definitely some grain alternatives out there for those that love whole grains. I started living without wheat by making the pictured buckwheat flour muffins. The verdict was they were delicious!

Keep in mind that two of these grains noted here are not gluten-free, only wheat free or differing in the gluten profile. Barley, rye, wheat, and oats that are not processed in a dedicated gluten free facility are not allowed on a gluten free diet. For those choosing to live without the ubiquitous wheat found in standard grocery stores, the challenge is to find alternative products that may be better tolerated.

Here are some other wheat-free options:

Rye

Most commercial store brands of rye bread actually contain wheat. For instance, Pepperidge Farm rye bread notes: unbromated unbleached enriched wheat flour as the first ingredient, followed by water, then rye. To find a rye bread made entirely of rye flour, you may need to go to a bakery. In the Chicago area suburbs, there is a little bakery that only uses rye flour. For those going “wheatless”, breads using only rye flour are a delicious alternative. Don’t assume every bakery uses just rye flour, you will need to ask the staff.

Spelt

Spelt is an ancient grain. According to one bakery website (kolateksbakery.com), spelt needs more steps to harvest and then bake, so it fell out of favor and eventually took a back seat to our now popular wheat. Spelt is technically part of the wheat family, but it possesses a different gluten profile. Those with a wheat sensitivity may be able to tolerate spelt better than wheat. I found this bakery’s Tata bread to be very “normal tasting” and almost reminiscent of whole wheat bread days!

Buckwheat

Here’s an actual gluten-free alternative. It’s actually not a grain, which is why there is no gluten! It’s a type of seed called a pseudo-cereal. I’m trying to get in the kitchen a bit more making my own wheat-free alternative foods, because so many of the commercial mixes are just way too high in sugar and calories. Here’s a great buckwheat muffin recipe:


1.5 cups buckwheat flour
¾ cups oatmeal (use gluten-free oats for a GF diet)
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup skim milk or milk of choice
2 tbsp. oil of choice
¼ cup applesauce
1 mashed banana
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
½ cup chocolate chips

Combine ingredients. Mix until moistened.  Bake at 350º for 18-20 minutes. Yields 12 muffins. 150 calories per muffin; 5 g protein, 23 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat

There are other grains to try such as Teff which is gluten-free as well.  Anyone else have experience focusing on these grains along with great recipes?

 

Better Aging: 5 Tips to Make it Happen

So, do you want to look your age?  This topic can get pretty dicey as we push through the decades.  I have one friend that says she’s earned her wrinkles and intentionally sports her gray hairs. No more hair coloring for her!  I think it’s certainly a personal decision. I also think that if we implement diet and lifestyle strategies that make us look a bit younger than our real age, we might reap some positive health benefits.  After all, our health has to be our top priority as we get older. Better health usually means a better quality of life. We want to be able to enjoy our second 50 years, right?

Here is my top five list:

Wear your sunscreen.  This is a huge point and it’s never too late to start.  Anti-aging dermatology procedures are pricey. They are almost all self-pay.  If you can protect your skin early in life, it will help your appearance in your second 50 years.  When I was in graduate school, I had a strange rash that brought me to the dermatologist.  She told me at that point to never go in the sun again.  I followed her advice (for the most part), and now that I have a Medicare card, I am so glad I did.  Wrinkle removal is expensive and time consuming, prevention is much easier. The health benefit: lessened skin cancer risk.

Exercise when you can. We all know we should be moving our bodies more, right? For some, it is easier said than done.  Lots of us have knees that hurt, but even for osteoarthritis, the current recommendations are to work through it and just keep moving.  Options for lessening joint stress while working out include using a stationary bike and an elliptical.  If you are able to move, you really should be sure to do so.  After counseling thousands upon thousands of clients over my career, it never ceases to amaze me how much younger the exercising crowd looks in middle and later life.  The health benefit:  weight management.  And, weight management can help diabetes, heart disease, joint pain, and hypertension.  And, this is only a partial list!

Manage Your Weight.  Again, those people that are at an appropriate body weight always seem to look younger.  For women in particular, weight gain seems to happen easily during menopause when our estrogen levels decline.  A common “sign” of middle age in both women and men is the increased fat in the abdominal area-known as visceral fat.  This pouch does not need to happen with a healthy eating plan matched to energy requirements and limited in alcohol.  The health benefit: losing this visceral fat will lessen inflammation and decrease your risk for diabetes and heart disease.

Sleep.  It can be difficult to get enough sleep. It seems like each decade brings its own sleep issues.  I know of so many seniors that will fall asleep but cannot stay asleep.  Getting up at 3:00 AM is not ideal, and many of us already did that when we raised our kids.  Tips are to not overstimulate your brain before bed.  Get off the iPad or phone if it is too stimulating before nodding off. Try to set a routine and stick to it most of the time.  Discuss sleep issues with your physician.  Lastly, a little melatonin (3-5 mg) may be helpful.  We make less as we age, so this supplement makes sense.  The health benefit: you just feel so much better, it’s like magic!

Eating Well. Don’t give up on a healthy eating plan.  Consult with a nutritional professional if you are totally confused about what you should be eating to maintain or improve your health.  There is just so much information out there that is often incorrect or not correct for you as an individual. Most nutrition health care providers would suggest a diet high in fruits, vegetables, with the appropriate amounts of whole grains and lean protein.  Some supplements might be in order as well, depending up your individual circumstances.  For thoughts on those supplements:  5 Dietary Supplements for Baby Boomers!

 
For those of you in your second 50 years, what else can you add?