Friday, November 30, 2012

After a Heart Attack - Beware of OTCs

A heart attack is a life changing event that often leaves the patient and family members reeling. This is a sobering health concern that, once it happens, life is never the same. Heart attack patients need to take special precautions for the future, including but not limited to diet, exercise, and of course, the use of common painkillers that could have potentially deadly effects.

Research suggests that the use of typical painkillers like ibuprofen and naproxen can pose a risk for patients after suffering their first heart attack. A study of 100,000 first-time heart attack patients, published in the American Heart Association's (AHA) journal, Circulation, found that patients using NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) were more likely to have a second heart attack, or worse, to die, within the half-decade following their initial heart attack. NBC News online cited this study and points out that the AHA advised that anyone who has suffered a heart attack should discuss any use of NSAIDs with their doctor before using them.

aspirin and heart attacks
OTC painkillers called NSAIDs
can be dangerous for people
who have suffered a heart

What OTC medications are considered NSAIDs? As mentioned above, ibuprofen and naproxen are considered NSAIDs. They are also sold by brand names like Advil, Motrin and Aleve. Aspirin is also an NSAID that is available over the counter. NSAIDs are also available by prescription. It is important to tell your primary doctor if you have suffered a heart attack in the past. However, because OTC medications are available at pharmacies, grocery stores and even convenience stores, it is important for heart attack sufferers to be aware of the serious risks involved with taking them.

What Is a Heart Attack?

Perhaps it helps to more fully understand the concern of using OTC pain killers by first examining exactly what a heart attack involves. The American Heart Association describes a heart attack as occurring “when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked (often by a blood clot).” The cause of heart attack is related to the coronary arteries becoming harder and thicker as they are congested with plaque, a buildup of cholesterol, fat, and other material. If bits of plaque break off and form a clot that blocks the blood flow, a person can have a heart attack.

Some common symptoms of a heart attack are shortness of breath, chest pain or discomfort, and pain or discomfort of one or both arms, the neck, jaw, back, or stomach. Heart attack victims may also break into a cold sweat or experience nausea or become lightheaded.

If you or someone you know begins to experience these heart attack symptoms, it is critical to get to a hospital as soon as possible. It is best to call 9-1-1 to get emergency help as soon as possible.

Heart Attack Treatments and Precautions

We often discuss aspirin and heart attacks together because an aspirin a day can be prescribed as a preventive measure for heart attack and stroke. People who think they are having a heart attack are told to chew an aspirin right away. It's important to note the difference between taking an NSAID as prevention and self-prescribing it for treatment of pain after a heart attack. Before taking any over the counter medication, it is important to check first with your doctor to avoid any side effects.

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute reports that at-risk patients can take aspirin for heart attack prevention in order to thin the blood and avoid new blood clots. Aspirin is considered an anti-clotting medicine. These medications prevent platelets from clumping together to form new blood clots, lowering a patient’s risk of having a heart attack.

Some other effective treatments for heart attack patients include treatment to manage the chest pain, oxygen therapy, nitroglycerin, angioplasty, and medicines to eliminate clots in the bloodstream. Beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, and anticoagulants comprise some other medicines for heart attacks while bypass surgery is another possible treatment. Even patients suffering a mild heart attack should be seen by a doctor and evaluated for heart damage and ongoing risk factors.

The availability of over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen is a cause for concern, as OTC drugs are considered "safe" by most consumers. It’s a scary thought that heart attack survivors may unknowingly be putting themselves at greater risk of another heart attack or even death. If you are a heart attack survivor with a need for painkillers, be sure to consult your family physician as well as your cardiologist to help you make the best decisions for your health care.

Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How Healthy is Garlic? Arm Yourself with Mints It’s Worth a Bit of Bad Breath

People have had a hunch that garlic was a healthy, healing herb for centuries. In fact, it’s medicinal properties date back to the ancient Greece and Egypt as well as 18th century France. Today, we know more about garlic health benefits than we ever have, and new findings continue to stun researchers.

What is Garlic?

Garlic benefits
Garlic cloves from my own kitchen!
According to WebMD, garlic is a member of the Allium genus and is classified as Allium sativa. It is capable of growing over two feet high, but the bulb is the source of up to 20 garlic cloves, which typically weigh one gram each. Under the raw garlic bulb’s white, onion-like outer skin, it divides into pieces called cloves, which are also covered in a white skin. It is known for its strong odor and the distinct flavor that it adds to a variety of foods, both of which are caused by the sulfur compounds in garlic's composition. 

Although garlic is most popular in the Middle East, India, and China, Americans consume 250 million pounds annually, of which 90% is California grown. It is available in fresh, dried, aged, or oiled forms.

With all these options and its increasing popularity, you'll want to include this ingredient on your grocery list. Why should it be there, though? What are the health benefits of garlic? Read on.

The New York Times points to research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that say it's the levels of hydrogen sulfide found in garlic that promote our bodies’ natural production of that chemical, which protects against a variety of diseases. Hydrogen sulfide works as an antioxidant and increases blood flow. Garlic benefits have the power to prevent a variety of diseases, ranging from certain cancers (breast, prostate, and colon) to heart disease. The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) also claims that garlic can prevent the common cold and lessen the time a cold lasts as well as lower blood pressure.

To get the most out of this antioxidant-packed vegetable, Dr. Kraus, a University of Alabama professor quoted by The New York Times, recommends waiting approximately 15 minutes after you've chopped your garlic to start cooking it. Why? This gives enough time for the garlic to reach their highest levels of nutrition.

Can garlic be dangerous? Yes, there are some issues with garlic and health. Besides the obvious bad breath, garlic might interfere with some medications. According to the UMMC, using garlic as a supplement can lower the effectiveness of birth control, HIV/AIDS medications, and tuberculosis medications. Also, because of its ability to aid blood flow, it can actually make blood-thinning medications too strong, increasing the dangers of bleeding. Garlic can have some serious side effects and interactions that you should be aware of before using it as a flavoring or supplement. If you are on related medications, consult your doctor before adding high levels of garlic to your diet.

Secondly, for the health benefits of garlic to be noticeable, you need to eat a lot of garlic… as in two cloves every day. It sounds impossible, but it’s actually a realistic goal if you aim to incorporate it into every meal.

Here are some garlic recipes to help you get started:

garlic recipes
Garlic cloves add flavor to
ordinary potatoes (picture from

Breakfast: Garlic Potatoes from 


4 medium potatoes, chopped
1 medium onion or 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
garlic powder, to taste
salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Add potatoes to a medium frying pan, cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes begin to become soft (a few minutes).
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are slightly browned and onions or peppers reached desired texture.
  4. Serve topped with dill, ketchup or salsa if desired

Benefits of garlic
Grill your favorite fish or fowl
after applying this tasty garlic rub.
Lunch: Garlic Lovers' Rub from


8 cloves garlic, minced 
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
2 teaspoons stone-ground mustard 
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest 

  1. Combine minced garlic, oil, mustard, salt, pepper and lemon zest in a small bowl.
  2. Using your hands, spread rub evenly onto 1-1/2 pounds (6 servings) of your chosen protein just before grilling. Try using extra-firm tofu, shrimp, scallops, salmon, mahi-mahi, chicken, duck, pork, beef, or lamb.

Dinner: Chicken with Garlic and Parsley from


3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (each about 7 ounces), cut into 1 to 1-1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon flour to coat the chicken, 1 tablespoon for gravy
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chicken broth

  1. Dry the chicken cubes with paper towels and toss them with the flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Trust me, don’t be tempted to add more flour, the amount mentioned is perfect.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until very hot but not smoking.
  3. Add the cubed chicken and cook in one layer for about 4-5 minutes, this will develop a lovely crust.
  4. Turn pieces of chicken and continue cooking for 3-5 more minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the garlic and parsley in a small bowl.
  6. Add half the butter and the parsley mixture to the skillet and saute for 1 minute longer, shaking the skillet occasionally to coat the chicken.
  7. Use a spoon to remove the chicken to a plate, leaving brown bits, extra parsley, and garlic in the pan to make gravy. 
  8. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of flour, 1 cup chicken broth and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter to the pan and stir while simmering. Serve over chicken.

Amanda Gilmore
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to Run Injury-Free

In our previous article on running safety, Are Running Shoes Killing your Feet?, we revealed new research that challenges some long-held ideas about preventing running injuries. These new ideas are changing the way running shoes are made and altering the way running coaches help those who are training to run.

Born to Run - The Minimalist Shoe Movement

After reading, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall, I started noticing that runners were talking about or looking for a more lightweight, minimalist running shoe. I wanted to find out more about this type of shoe.

running form
The minimalist shoe is like running
barefoot and is the newest
revolution in running shoes.
What is a minimalist shoe? Basically, it's a shoe that, by design, attempts to stay out of the way of what your running would be like without the assistance of a running shoe. So, it's a shoe that mimics as closely as possible what it would be like to run barefoot.

Common running shoes that most of us are familiar with are more structured running shoes and they are made to control or stabilize the foot and ankle and substantially cushion impact forces. This style of shoe might be the right solution for some runners. But as research presented in our previous article, Are Running Shoes Killing Your Feet, revealed, many runners may be better off with a simpler shoe, or possibly even running barefoot. Why? Because not all runners run the same way.

One of the problems with the traditional running shoe is that it's design virtually forces a heel-strike-first style of running. The traditional running shoe has extra bulk and height built into the heel of shoe. The thought was that runners would reduce injuries if there was more cushioning between the heel and the road. The problem is that many studies seem to indicate that those who “heel-strike” – landing heel first, then rocking forward to the rest of the foot when running – have a greater likelihood or frequency of injury than those whose initial strike is the forefoot or mid-foot.
A 2012 study performed by Lieberman and colleagues, Foot Strike and injury rates in endurance runners, Medical Science Sports Exercise, revealed that competitive cross country runners who run heel first experienced a marked increase in injury rates, compared to those who have a forefoot strike. Other studies support this including Physiological and ergonomics factors in running shoe design, reported in Applied Ergonomics.

In the study Foot strike patterns of recreational and sub-elite runners in a long-distance road race reported in Journal of Sports Sciences 2011, stated that the majority of elite runners – those with the most experience and running faster – are forefoot strikers, rather than heel-first.

Choosing a shoe with a less built-up heel will allow you to adapt to a style of running that gives your heel a break, and allows you to run in a way that lets your foot land under your center of gravity, which most running coaches consider ideal.

Should you change the kind of running shoes you wear?

Possibly, but this is a decision that should be based on how you run and what you want to get out of running. While most elite runners land initially more to the front or middle of their foot, rather than heel first, a few elite runners do land heel first. The fact is that foot shape, size, leg length, body weight, body form, body posture, and bone density differ from one runner to the next. So one shoe style or running form does not fit all runners.

So before you change shoes, consider this; as the expression goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Are you experiencing pain (such as shin splints, forefoot or heal pain, etc.) in your current running shoes? If not, then why switch? But if you are in pain or getting injured, then perhaps it's time to go to a reputable running shoe store or join a local running club for running tips or advice on a running shoe that might be better suited for you. Running clubs and running stores are both good sources for running training or running tips, as well as where to find the best local running trails and running routes.

Be open to trying something different. New forms and new shoe styles may feel foreign, and will take a period of adjustment. But in the end, if you are running pain free and injury free, you will enjoy it more and you will have better endurance and a better experience.

Whether you are a running beginner or into marathon running, these are a couple of my favorite sources for running information.
  • - A guide to minimalist running shoes and other advice for runners.
  • Science of Running - A blog by Steve Magness, Head Cross Country coach at University of Houston.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Are Running Shoes Killing your Feet?

If you are a runner who suffers from running injuries, it's possible that your shoes could be at fault, no matter how fancy or expensive they are. In fact, some research even suggests that the more expensive the shoe, the more frequent the injuries. The research suggests that athletic shoe manufacturers may have been "getting it wrong" for years – designing running shoes that, though intended to reduce running injuries, may have in fact increased injuries.

Before starting running, or before you go another painful step with your current running program, pay attention to this recent data. You may save yourself from injury.

Running Benefits vs. Running Injuries

In recent years, an increasing amount of data is changing the way that running shoes are built, largely in response to a growing demand for a more minimalist style of shoe. One of the initial drivers in this change toward less structured, more minimalist shoes was Christopher McDougall's research suggesting that human beings are physiologically designed for running.

McDougall's search to find a way to run with less pain and injury became an actual journey around the globe, leading him to discover that:
  • There is little evidence that running shoes prevent injuries.
  • Some of the world's greatest modern-day runners run barefoot, or run with little more than a rudimentary  pair of sandals.
  • Though running shoes (shoes that are specifically designed for running) have only been a part of our running for less than a hundred years, long distance running has been a part of human history for thousands of years.

starting running
The style of running shoe you choose may
increase the likelihood of injury
Equally compelling is the information McDougall shares regarding how running shoes have changed in the last 50 or so years, going from the simple racing flats and other simple-soled designs to heavily designed/structured marvels of engineering, but that these changes have not reduced running injuries.

Insider Medicine reported that more expensive running shoes do not guarantee a decrease in the likelihood of injuries to the feet, legs or knees. In some cases, lower end shoes actually reported fewer injuries than higher priced sneakers.

Many people think that the more they spend for something, the better the quality. We have this perception for many things, not just for running shoes. But high price does not always equal superior quality. There may also be truth to the thinking that running in shoes that have more cushioning could cause a runner to be careless because they think they have better protection.

The bare-naked truth about running

As radical as this study sounds, do not immediately chuck your $140 running shoes and head out for a pair of discount store shoes. Other equally startling studies seem to indicate that your chances of avoiding running injuries and your chances of improving your running abilities or performance increase if you train with no shoes at all.

In SPORTSCIENCE, a peer-reviewed journal, physiotherapist Michael Warburton suggests that wearing running shoes reduces running performance and increases the risk of injury.  Even more surprising is what Warburton suggests is the better option:  Running barefoot.

And indeed, several internationally renowned athletes have competed barefoot, running races with great success and no shoes. This includes South Africa’s  Zola Budd-Pieterse, an Olympic record holder, and Ethiopian Abebe Bikila, the first African to win a gold medal who also became the first person in history to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the marathon. I recommend the movie, The Athlete, about Abebe Bikila to find out more about barefoot running.

Barefoot running:  Sounds crazy, right?  Before you write this off as being a solution just in countries or cultures where walking and running barefoot is the norm, and thus couldn’t apply to U.S. running, you should know that Warburton cites several studies in his report which collectively indicate that acute and chronic injuries in countries where barefoot and shod populations co-exist, such as in Haiti, the rate of lower extremity injuries are substantially higher in the shoe-wearing portion of the population.

You may be wondering then, is it safe to run in running shoes at all? It can be. In our next article on running safety, we’ll look more closely at how you can significantly reduce your risk of a running injury, rather than ditching running altogether.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer 

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    Supporting Our Troops and Their Families this Holiday Season

    As we approach the holiday season, many of us are thinking of our many troops who, sadly, won't be able to spend time with their families and loved ones to celebrate this special time of year. They are either deployed to other countries or are stationed all over the world in the service of our country. When you are enjoying the company of your family members and friends, please remember our soldiers as they endure the hardships of not only serving our country, but being separated from their own families and loved ones during this wonderful time of year.

    Help Make the Holidays a Little Less Lonely!

    This separation during the holiday season is not only a sacrifice on behalf of the soldier but for their families as well. Their families are celebrating Christmas and New Years without their loved ones, who are serving in a foreign country, often a hostile one where their lives are in danger. Explaining to children why mommy or daddy can't be home for Christmas adds to the pressures for the families of deployed service members. They may not understand why their parents cannot come home for the holidays or may have anxieties about their parents' safety.

    While many of us enjoy the holiday feast, warmth of our safe homes and other special family traditions, military families are adapting their traditions around the deployment of their loved ones. Fortunately, there are agencies and organizations that can make this a little easier on the family members left behind. There are groups that have taken on the task, trying to ease the pain of separation for both the soldier and his or her family. 

    Since 9/11 about 2.1 million spouses and more than 2 million children have had to cope with at least one deployment of a loved one to Iraq or Afghanistan; for many families, multiple deployments have been endured. According to the Department of Defense, at the latter part of 2010, about 140,000 troops have been serving on those missions. We need to make sure that those troops know that people back here at home are thinking of them and support them each day, but especially during the holiday season.

    Show you Care!

    The American Red Cross serves more than 2 million service members and many of the 24 million veterans across the globe. During this special time of year, they deliver cards and letters from thousands of Americans to the soldiers in order to give them a connection to home. They collect cards from October through early December, then they are delivered to military installations and hospitals all over the world. This is through the Red Cross's Holiday Mail for Heroes program. You can send them your own cards if you wish, or you can also make a donation to the Red Cross to the Holiday Mail for Heroes Program, PO Box 5456, Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456. The deadline for this mailing is December 7, 2012 so contact your local Red Cross office as soon as possible to take part.

    holiday mail for heroes
    Soldiers in Afghanistan distributing care packages from home.
    Send a care package to a soldier this holiday season.
    Care packages are always a welcome treat to deployed service members, especially during the holidays. The Department of Defense website has links for groups that help to send care packages to deployed soldiers.

    The USO website has a USO Wishbook for soldiers where you can purchase a specific gift, like a phone call home or a comfort food package. When you make a purchase like this on line, an e-card will be sent to announce your gift. There are a wide range of gifts for deployed servicemen, veterans and families.

    These community resources have direct contact with the military and can tell you just what items they desire or need for your care packages. There are also local charitable organizations such as Operation Homefront Tristate that serves New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. They sponsor "Adopt a Family" to support military families in need. Type help military families + your location in your browser's search box to find local programs.

    American Red Cross
    Care package for the
    holiday season.
    The following websites can help you create your care packages, both were started by spouses of soldiers and are a great resource for assembling your gifts. 

    It is very important to make sure that our troops know that they and their families are supported during this holiday season. Our previous article, For the Troops gave great insight into what military families are feeling while their loved ones are deployed. We owe our troops and their families a lot for the sacrifices that they have all made, for us too, as they defend our freedom. Even little gestures can make a huge difference for these families. I speak from experience as my husband spent our first Christmas in Vietnam. I know how much it means to the family when people show they care. The soldiers and their families will appreciate it so much. Just get involved!!

    American Red Cross
    Support from the home front means a lot to our soldiers!
    The Holiday Mail for Heroes program is a great
    way to show support. 

    Cindy Foley
    Contributing Writer

    Friday, November 23, 2012

    Black Friday! Who Wants to Go Shopping?

    This photo from shows a crowd ready
    to find sales on Black Friday.
    Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving when everyone goes shopping for great bargains and, hopefully, some fun! I remember going out one year to find THE great bargain. It was the first time I worked for a company that actually gave me the day off. I was so excited. I thought I'd sleep in, take my time and enjoy a nice peaceful day of fun and bargain shopping. Until my friend told me that we had to be up by 3:00 AM and out the door no later than 4:00 AM to get to the store so we could wait outside in line. Are you kidding me? It's my day off! Well, not wanting to miss the experience of a great American tradition, off I went. We waited outside in the cold for hours, and once the doors opened, it was a madhouse. All the pushing and shoving just to get in the front door! I just hope I didn't seriously hurt anyone....Just kidding!

    What Is Black Friday About?

    Black Friday is traditionally known as the start of the holiday shopping season. This is the day when many people shop for door buster deals on items that would normally cost much more. When is Black Friday? Normally it's always been the day after Thanksgiving. However, in recent years, especially this year, it's starting earlier. Some shopping centers are opening and offering sales on Thanksgiving Day in hopes of boosting sales during the economic downturn. Many stores also offer online sales and free shipping! That's good news for those of us who've experienced the thrill of camping out, waiting and waiting in line to get into the crowded store and then taking hours to get through the check out!

    Why is it called Black Friday? Well, when businesses did their accounting in years past, they recorded their losses in red ink and their profits in black inc. Hoping to boost sales for the last quarter of the year, stores refer to finishing in the 'black', or with a profit. Black Friday originated from that hope that retail outlets would finish with a big profit at year end.

    Cyber Monday shopper.
    (Image from

    Cyber Monday

    Cyber Monday began in 2005 and has been a growing tradition since then. It falls on the Monday after Thanksgiving; this year it will be on November 26. Shoppers can find great bargains at their favorite online stores. So, again, rather than shopping in crowded stores, you can take your time and browse the internet from the comfort of your own home. No pushing or shoving!

    Small Business Saturday

    shopping in smaller stores
    Small Business Saturday:
    A chance to shop for bargains
    in small businesses.
    What is Small Business Saturday? Started by American Express about three years ago and gaining popularity, it can mean big business for small businesses. It's falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 24, when shoppers can get out and support small businesses and honor their contribution to the communities where they do business. It also helps boost sales for small, family owned businesses who have struggled during the rough economy for the past few years.

    Which way should you shop? It depends on what you are looking for and how much you are hoping to save. Some shoppers enjoy the excitement of Black Friday. In my neighborhood in Philadelphia, neighbors gather at midnight on Thanksgiving and head out in their cars, armed with their wallets and ready to shop till they drop! It's a chance for neighbors to get together and share some holiday cheer. I choose a calmer shopping experience now and prefer to find my bargains on line. Shopping on Saturday, after the die hard Black Friday shoppers have finished, might be fun for people who are looking for bargains, but appreciate a neighborhood business where the lines might not be so long and the stores that are not quite as crowded.

    Whichever way you choose to shop this weekend, be safe, have fun and save money! But above all, make sure you have a SAFE shopping experience!

    Share your Black Friday stories in our comments section, too. What is the earliest time you've ever gotten up to hit the stores? What's the craziest thing you would do to find a bargain? Let us know if you have any funny stories to share!

    Caroline Carr
    Contributing Writer

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

    Cornucopia: Horn of Plenty...Abundance of Nutrition

    Cornucopia - The Horn of Plenty
    Of all the traditional Thanksgiving decorations, my favorite is the Cornucopia - The Horn of Plenty. Why? Well, because it always makes me think of the beautiful colors of Autumn and the abundance of nutrition that comes with fruits and vegetables that are in season. In modern times it is represented as a horn shaped basket that is filled with plenty of fruits, flowers and vegetables. In Greek mythology, it was an amazing horn that had the magical power to fill itself with whatever kind of food or drink its owner wanted.

    What Do We Wish For?

    What kind of things would you fill your horn of cornucopia with this Thanksgiving? The winter months can seem so barren as the trees grow bare and the we no longer see our beautiful gardens in bloom. But that doesn't mean we can't grow plants indoors! There are many winter flowers that can decorate your home during the holidays and all winter long. For example, the poinsettia plant, African violets, primrose and the Christmas rose.

    There are plenty of fruits and vegetable that are in season that have much nutritional value. Just because it's winter doesn't mean you have to stop eating fresh or local fruits and vegetables. Here are a just a few of my favorites that you can include this season.

    • Pomegranates - A featured fruit in Greek mythology, just like the cornucopia, this delicious and beautiful fruit is called the jewel of autumn. Pomegranates are high in antioxidants and may help break down LDL (bad) cholesterol.
    • Apples - A great snack when you're craving sweets, or chop them up and add them to a vegetable salad or to leftover turkey salad this holiday.
    • Blood Oranges - High in vitamin C these are a taste of sunshine on a cold winter's day. During the cold and flu season, vitamin C is a must.
    • Cranberries - Sweet and tasty, they are high in antioxidants and can help prevent urinary tract infections.
    • Radishes - A great low-cal snack by themselves or in a salad, they add color and taste.
    • Sweet Potatoes - A thanksgiving dinner favorite, they are lower in carbohydrates than white potatoes and high in potassium.
    • Rutabagas - Sweet and nutty and great in stews or mashed with a butter substitute to keep this root vegetable low in calories and carbohydrates.

    Thanksgiving Crafts

    Making a cornucopia as a table centerpiece can be a fun craft for kids over the holidays. Craft stores are a great place to by a horn shaped basket without going to a lot of expense. It can be filled with fresh fruits and set on the table to add color and serve as a nutritious, low calorie desert after thanksgiving meals. It can also be filled with plastic fruits and flowers if it's a decoration you'd like to keep from year to year. Either way, it's a colorful bit of ancient history to include on your holiday table.

    Thanksgiving for kids
    Example of mosaic cornucopia from
    Some other craft ideas that will make thanksgiving for kids more fun include:
    • Stuff the cornucopia with other objects. You could fill it with canned goods and donate them to a local food shelter or a neighbor in need. Or wrap up leftovers and put them in a cornucopia basket for guests to take home.
    What is your favorite thing about Thanksgiving? Please feel free to share a favorite decoration idea or memory in our comments section. We at FamilyWize wish you and your family a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
    Greek mythology
     The horn of plenty, part of ancient history and a
    Thanksgiving tradition, as this photo from shows.

    Caroline Carr
    Contributing Writer

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    National Family Health History Day

    health care history

    Being aware of your family's health history can increase your
    chances of enjoying many more holidays and
    making family memories in the future.

    National Family Health History Day was first started in 2004. My family and I have never even heard of this day before. So when I decided to do some research on it I found it to be a very important topic that all Americans should know about. 

    For the past eight years during Thanksgiving, the Surgeon General has raised awareness of the importance of knowing your family's health history. Why? To educate all of us about our health history so we can live longer and healthier lives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updates information about illnesses and genetics. They are a great resource to use when checking risk factors in your family.

    Many illnesses, like cancer, heart disease and diabetes run in families. Knowing what runs in your family may save your life one day. There are also rare diseases like hemophilia, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia that may have occurred in your family in the past, and you may not even know about them. Knowing your family's health history can help you and your doctor to assess your risk for certain diseases. That is why it is so important for us to be able to give our doctors a complete family health history. It may keep you and your family members healthier in the future. Together you can use your family history of illness to lessen risk factors that may be in your control.

    Keeping Your Family Healthy

    For most parents, keeping our family healthy is our number one concern. One step is having yearly physicals. Many family health care services use this annual exam to update information about your health and that of your family. Have you discussed any recent health issues your relatives might be having? Are you aware of any diseases that might run in your family? It's important to be able to report any changes to your doctor.

    My Family Health Portrait is an online tool that can help you get started. By doing this you are staying one step ahead and being cautious about what might lay ahead for you and your family. Even though not all illnesses are carried down from one generation to the next, it is always good to have information about what illnesses might run in your family.

    What is Family?

    When you check your family's health history you may need to know what is considered family and how many branches in your family tree you need to look at. This doesn't have to be complicated. The main family members to look at are your closest ones. You want to know the history of both biological parents and grandparents on both sides. You will also look at any biological siblings, uncles, aunts, and your own children. If your health care provider has all the history on those family members he or she should be able to assess your health risks and help you know what to look out for. Your health care history is kind of like your fingerprint. Each is different and it has to be looked at from every angle.

    This Thanksgiving, when you and your family are together, might be a great opportunity to ask some questions about family and health. Also talk to your family about the importance of knowing the family's health history so you can all live long lives and celebrate many more holidays together.

     Marci Psalmonds
    Contributing Writer

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    Leftovers - A Holiday Gift That Keeps on Giving

    With the Holidays quickly approaching everyone is gearing up for some good home cooked meals. Sometimes the second night is better than the first when leftovers are involved. Who doesn't love a turkey sandwich the next day after the big Thanksgiving meal?

    In our family we break out the turkey sandwiches that night, after our Thanksgiving dinner because we can't wait for the next day! Holiday leftovers are the best by themselves or used to make up another everyday meal for our family. Nothing goes to waste in our household during the holidays and every one's jeans seem to fit a little bit tighter by the New Year. Here are a few soul warming food recipes and some leftover ideas for your family that will keep their mouths watering through the cold winter months.

    Leftover Recipes

    Here are my favorite leftover recipes that I love from Thanksgiving and Christmas food leftovers. I hope you will at least like one of them or maybe all of them and try something new this year.

    Thanksgiving dinner
    Turkey leftovers that make you go Yummmmm.
    Turkey Leftovers -- Turkey Pasta Salad

    Cubed turkey leftovers
    1 box of (14.5oz) uncooked rotini pasta
    2 cups of fresh broccoli florets
    1 cup of raw zucchini, chopped
    1 medium stalk of celery, chopped
    1/2 cup of almonds 

    Use 1 1/2 cups of your favorite dressing or whatever you happen to have in the fridge or cupboard. I have used Ranch, Cesar, Poppy Seed or Italian Cheese Dressing in the past and they have all turned out great.  

    Cook pasta as directed on the package, omitting salt for a healthier salad, and add broccoli for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Next drain the pasta and broccoli, rinse with cold water to cool, and then drain it again.
    In a large bowl mix the turkey, pasta, broccoli, zucchini, and celery. Next add your favorite dressing and top with almonds. Now enjoy an easy pasta leftover turkey meal.

    Yam Leftovers -- Candied Yam Muffins

    2 eggs
    1 cup milk
    1 stick butter
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1 1/2 cups mashed, cooked yams
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

    All ingredients should be at room temperature. Cream butter, sugar and yams until smooth. Add eggs. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add milk slowly while stirring. Fold in nuts. Fill muffin tins, then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

    Ham/Scalloped Potatoes/Corn leftovers -- Ham Casserole 

    This is the easiest leftover of them all and it tastes so good. My Mom usually has this about the 4th day after Christmas when everything else has been picked through. All you do is take all your leftover Ham, scalloped potatoes, and corn and mix it in a deep dish pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. You can even add a cup of shredded cheese for some extra pizazz.  

    Mashed Potato Leftovers -- Mashed Potato Patties

    4 cups of leftover mashed potatoes
    1 onion, diced
    1 egg
    1 cup of cheese, grated
    Salt and pepper

    Combine mashed potatoes, onion, egg, and cheese. Shape into large size balls. Roll in flour and flatten into patties. Melt butter in frying pan and brown about 5 minutes on each side. Salt and pepper to taste.

    Here are some helpful websites that also have great leftover ideas that you might like.  
    All Recipes
    Left Over Chef
    Top 10 Best Leftover Recipes
    Rethinking Thanksgiving Leftovers 
    Closet Cooking Top 10 Recipes

    I think what makes leftovers better year after year is simply using your imagination. You can't go wrong with what is in your fridge; you already ate it once and liked it the first time, so it's sure to be a winner once you jazz it up! Who knows, maybe you will come up with a meal that makes it to the first night instead of the second. Share your favorite leftover recipes in our comments section!

    Marci Psalmonds
    Contributing Writer

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Honor Teachers for American Education Week

    How I came to be the teacher I am today......

    I have been an educator for thirteen years now and I absolutely love getting up every day and going to school. Now, that wasn’t always the case. As a child going through elementary school I struggled with my reading and speech which caused me to be placed in the remedial classes.This made me feel isolated and different from my friends. After elementary school, next came middle school. The dreaded middle school, I hated school even more. I always made good grades but I was the shy, quiet kid that didn’t really fit in. But I have to say that I had some of the best teachers in middle school and here is where I met my favorite teacher of all time. I believe this is also where my love of science developed!

    Study and homework reinforce the
    skills we learn in class.
    His name was Mr. Fischer. He was a wonderful teacher that loved what he was doing. His class came alive and he always had us doing something fun. My favorite days were when we dissected anything! I know, I am a girl and girls are not supposed to like that kind of stuff but I sure loved it. He taught me that school doesn’t have to be boring. You can have fun and students will learn better when class is interactive and hands on.

    From here on out I was inspired to become a teacher, thanks to Mr. Fischer. He believed in me and always encouraged me to do my best in everything no matter what anyone said. He gave me the confidence in myself that allowed me to open up and participate more in class. To this day I always think about my 7th grade science class and I try to model my science class and my teaching after Mr. Fischer's.

    This week is American Education Week and it is a great time to honor the educators who have made a difference in our lives and to commit ourselves to ensuring that every child gets quality education. The National Education Association has some great ideas for how to celebrate educators this week.

    The joys and obstacles of teaching......

    I love teaching. Each day is an adventure and you never know what each day might bring! I feel lucky and blessed that I have the opportunity to teach children and that the parents put their trust in me to educate their children. With that said, sometimes the biggest hurdle in education is parent support. What can parents do to support their child’s education? The most important thing I can say is get involved! Research has shown that students with involved parents are more likely to:

    •    Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs
    •    Be promoted, pass their classes, and earn credits
    •    Attend school regularly
    •    Have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school
    •    Graduate and go on to post-secondary education

    So what can you do as a parent? Attend open house and meet your child’s teachers, go to conferences, attend PTO meetings, become a mentor or volunteer at your child’s school. Schools love when parents come to school functions because it shows that they really do care about what is going on in the schools. It also shows your child that you as a parent hold education as a high priority. Parents have the most influence and are the biggest role models for their kids. Show your child that education is important by getting involved!

    One of the most powerful things a parent can do to support their child’s education is to study and help their child with homework! Now I know the subject of homework is a touchy one. There is so much controversy over “to give homework or not” and how much homework is too much.

    What are the benefits of homework? Homework is the extra practice of a particular skill your child has been working on at school. Now, no one ever has a problem with baseball or football practice, right? Practice helps you get better! That is what homework does…it helps your child get better, the more you practice the better you become. Now I know parents have very busy schedules but making the time to study and share in your child’s homework time really does benefit your child. Most children long for the opportunity to share what they have learned with their parents. I tell my students all the time to go home and share what you learned today with your parents and some kids say, “My mom doesn’t have time or she doesn’t care!”  This saddens me because homework time is a great way to bond with your child. There are some great tips to help your child with homework in our previous article, Ending the Homework War.

    Believe me, I know sometimes homework time can be a struggle but from personal experience students do benefit and they really love when their parents get involved and take the time to help them study.

    How to talk to your child’s teacher

    How do you talk to your
    child's teacher?
    Okay now that you are involved in your child’s education, how do you go about talking to your child’s teacher? Having a positive relationship with your child's teacher can help your child be more successful in the classroom. Some good tips to parents for better communication with their child’s teacher are:

    • Establish a good relationship from the first day. Be in contact with your child’s teacher often and maintain it throughout the year. It’s important to discuss issues face-to-face or over the phone. Email can be misinterpreted too easily.

    • Always put the child’s needs first. Explain in detail what you see as the concern and how it’s affecting your child. Be sure to listen to the teacher’s perspective and ask questions if you do not understand any of the information they provide.

    • Offer to meet with the teacher to discuss in more detail.

    • Ask the teacher what you can do to support his or her educational efforts. Work together to put a plan in place for how the issue can be resolved, including follow-up communication from both the parent and teacher.

    • Approach with a smile and a positive attitude … it’s contagious!

    Parents and teachers are like a team. All good teams are successful if they work together! Let’s work together to make sure that the children are successful at school and in life. Get involved and show your child that education is a top priority and that with a good, solid education they can go far in life Now, will every day be easy? No, it will not, but keep at it and someday your child will thank you for being so involved in their school lives!

    study homework
    Inspired to become a teacher
    by her 7th grade science teacher,
    Kim Walter now teaches science.

    Kim Ryan Walter
    Fifth Grade Teacher at Midway Elementary School in Georgia

    Friday, November 16, 2012

    Time to Get Smart About Antibiotics

    Will antibiotics work when you really need them? At the rate we are over-using antibiotics in America and throughout the world, possibly not. But there are steps you can take to reduce the risks of antibiotics resistance, steps you’ll find right here.

    antibiotics resistance
    Get Smart About Antibiotics Week
    This November 12-18 is national “Get Smart About Antibiotics” Week -- an annual effort to coordinate the work of CDC’s Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work campaign and state-based appropriate antibiotic use campaigns.

    This one-week observance educates consumers and medical professionals about the dangers of antibiotic resistance and the importance of appropriate antibiotic use. 

    Understanding the risks of antibiotic resistance

    Antibiotic resistance is the ability of bacteria to resist an antibiotic. Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria carry several resistance genes and become what is known as a superbug. They pass on their resistance trait to their offspring, which results in an entire generation of bacteria to become fully resistant to the antibiotic medicines that once worked well against them.

    Overuse of antibiotics has greatly accelerated the development of these superbugs, as has incorrect diagnoses, unnecessary prescriptions, and improper use of antibiotics by patients. So, even when properly prescribed, resistance to the drug can occur in your body if you are not using the antibiotic as prescribed.


    Key message: Antibiotics do not fight viral illnesses!

    Taking antibiotics for colds can be harmful to your health. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that unnecessary antibiotics use can make future infections harder to treat. They advise that parental pressure has much to do with whether or not a doctor prescribes an antibiotic. With that in mind, it’s important to work with your child’s healthcare provider to find the best treatment for your sick child.

    Get Smart About Antibiotics Week logo for November 12-18, 2012 web button 300x250 Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. Colds, flu and most sore throats are caused by viruses. Antibiotics don’t affect viruses.

    But too often, parents seeking relief for a child’s runny nose ask the doctor for antibiotics, or adults call the doctor and ask for an antibiotic for ordinary cold symptoms, when that is not necessary. Whether out of compliance or lack of understanding, some doctors will go ahead and prescribe an antibiotic for cold symptoms. 

    Dark shading indicates highest use of antibiotics in the U.S. 

    Many people have either missed the message about appropriate antibiotic use or they simply don’t believe it. The CDC reports that, according to public opinion research, there is a dangerous and misguided perception that “antibiotics cure everything.”  As this antibiotics use map shows, the problem is greater in some states than in others.

    Many Americans believe in the power of antibiotics so much that many patients go to the doctor expecting to get a prescription. And they often get them, either because physicians often are too pressured for time to engage in lengthy explanations of why antibiotics won’t work or because, when the diagnosis is uncertain — as many symptoms for viral and bacterial infections are similar — doctors are more likely to yield to patient demands for antibiotics.

    Risk of Antibiotic Resistance

    The problem is, taking antibiotics when they are not needed can do more harm than good. When we take an antibiotic unnecessarily, we can actually increase our risk of developing a future infection that will be resistant to an antibiotic, since our body builts up a resistance. Antibiotic overuse is also the reason bacteria becomes resistant and therefore threatens you and your family.

    When do Antibiotics Work?

    Antibiotics are great for curing bacterial infections, such as strep throat. Antibiotics should not be used, however, for viral infections. Common viral infections for which antibiotics should not be used include:
    • Colds or flu;
    • Most coughs and bronchitis;
    • Sore throats not caused by strep;
    • Runny noses; or
    • Sinus infection (antibiotics may be appropriate though, if your child has acute bacterial sinusitis, which is caused by bacteria.)
    If you and your doctor do decide that an antibiotic is right for you, remember that you can use the FamilyWize discount prescription card to get a discount at over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide. The card is free to download and easy to use!

    Colds and Flu

    The CDC recommends that children and adults with viral infections recover when the illness has run its course. Colds caused by viruses may last for two weeks or longer. Measures that can help a person with a cold or flu feel better include:Antibiotic overuse
    • Increase fluid intake.
    • Use a cool mist vaporizer, saline nasal spray, or neti pot to relieve congestion.
    • Soothe throat with ice chips, sore throat spray or lozenges (for older children and adults).
    Viral infections may sometimes lead to bacterial infections. It is important to keep your doctor informed if your illness gets worse or lasts too long.

    Ric Moxley
    Contributing Writer

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    The Great American Smokeout - Commit to Quit

    dangers of smoking
    The Great American Smokeout
    Stop smoking today!

    If you or someone you love smokes, today is the day to take control of your life! The American Cancer Society established the Great American Smokeout 37 years ago to encourage people to stop smoking or at least begin a plan to quit smoking.

    The Great American Smokeout! 

    In towns and communities across the country there will be a number of volunteers available with a variety of resources to help smokers get through the difficult task of quitting.There will be information on how to quit smoking and anti smoking advertisements. The American Cancer Society offers tips to help people quit. They even have an E-Quit Study for people who are interested in developing a plan to quit, learning to quit and helping others to quit.


    Why Should You Quit?

    Despite all the publicity about the dangers of smoking, many Americans haven't given up their cigarettes.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 3,800 kids start smoking each day.

    The CDC reported that cigarette smoking claims about 443,000 lives a year and studies of teenage smoking reveal that 1 in 4 high school students claimed current tobacco use.

    Medical costs associated with tobacco products are in the billions annually. Another costly issue is the loss of productivity at work and premature death. It is also estimated that tens of thousands of adult non-smokers die each year due to the side effects from second hand smoke. These are most often your loved ones who have been exposed as children, or by spouses or partners. This is a great reason to "quit the sticks." 

    Speaking strictly in economic terms, smokers spend anywhere from $5.50 to $10 per pack for cigarettes, depending on where they live and what brand they chose. That's between $2,000 to $4,000 per year on cigarettes! Add that to the medical costs that will eventually catch up with the smoker and you have some very costly expenses. Think of what you could buy with the money you will save by quitting.


    The Great American Smokeout!



    There are over 45 million smokers in the US and one in five adult deaths are due to the side effects of smoking.  70% of those that quit smoking relapse, and it often takes 7 to 10 times of quitting before someone can quit for good. 

    Quitting means changing your routine. Many smokers enjoy their cigarettes with their morning coffee or as an after dinner treat. So when you attempt to quit, your normal everyday routines will also probably change.  This is what makes quitting so hard for a lot of people. 

    WebMd gives some great tips for how to quit smoking. Some people find that quitting cold turkey works best for them. However, many people seek the help of medicine or therapy to quit. Discuss it with your doctor and find the best way for you. You will be more successful if you do what works best for you. Remember that you are changing a lifetime habit, and when you take something away, you might have to replace it with something else. Part of a plan for quitting might include taking a walk after dinner instead of having a cigarette.

    There are a variety of medications available from your doctor to ease the difficult task of giving up tobacco.  There are also over-the-counter products including patches, nicotine gum and lozenges. For prescription smoking cessation products, the FamilyWize discount card may help you save money. Download your free discount card today!

    If you get frustrated there is a hotline (1-800-QUITNOW) that is available 24 hours a day. So take advantage of the resources available to help you become healthier and happier. Become a success story of the


    ~~~~~  Do it for yourself and your loved ones  ~~~~~

    Cindy Foley
    Contributing Writer

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    Get Started On a Low-carbohydrate Diet

    If you read our previous article Is a Low Carb Diet Right for You?, a primer on low carbohydrate dieting, you may feel ready to forget about counting calories and focus instead on counting carbohydrates per day. Here’s how:
    • Get guidance
    • Get inspiration
    • Prepare your fridge
    • Stock up on low-carb recipes

    Safe Low-Carb Dieting


    Doing a low-carb diet “right” – that is, in a way that is safe and optimizes long-term weight loss potential – requires a proper balance of dietary fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.

    Getting the balance wrong – too few carbohydrates, too much protein, too little dietary fat or the wrong kinds of fats can sabotage your success or worse, lead to health risks. Always discuss any weight loss plan with your doctor before you begin and report any health issues right away.

    burning fat
    A low-carb diet does not mean cutting out all carbs.
    For example, some people might thing that ending their carbohydrate intake completely is a low-carb diet. But, they often cut out all fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds from their diet, opting instead for nothing but bacon cheeseburgers, steak, and hot dogs.

    Not only is a zero-carb diet very hard to stick to, it can also be counterproductive, slowing down long-term weight loss while depleting alertness and energy. All the above foods are permissible in the right type and quantity, and at the right phase of the diet.

    Another common mistake some low-carb dieters make is to get stuck in the what is called the introductory phase, which is only supposed to last about two weeks. This is a "kick-start" phase and it is valuable for getting your body keto-adapted, which means adjusted to burning fat instead of sugars.This introductory phase is not sustainable in the long run. For one thing, it lacks variety and dieting can become boring and unproductive when there is little variety in the menu.

    Inspiration to Stick With It


    Any diet change can be difficult to adjust to. To help you maintain a low carbohydrate diet, it helps to have inspirational sources, such as the examples of others who have stuck with the diet and have succeeded in losing weight or meeting other health goals. There are plenty of places you can turn to online for this kind of support. Some of my favorites include:
    • Me and My Diabetes – Both inspiring and educational, this blog shows how low carbohydrate dieting has helped the author overcome many health issue.
    • Timothy Olsen's article on the effectiveness of a low-carb diet for ultra-marathon runner.
    • It's the satiety A successful low-carb dieter discusses weight, health, and satiety as a guiding principle to the diet.
    • Eating Academy: Another successful weight loss individual, focusing on the positive effect of a low-carb diet on athletics/physical performance.
    It's also helpful to develop a network of low-carb buddies – people who are doing the same diet and have similar goals. Participating or commenting in discussions on blogs dedicated to low carbohydrate dieting is a great way to build such a network and to get that much-needed inspiration.


    Prep Your Fridge 

    Prepare your food supply to support a strong start to a low carbohydrate diet. has several lists that can help you determine the best low-carb foods for your lifestyle and health goals. We also cannot stress enough how important your health care professional is as a partner in your weight loss plan. Having a physical prior to beginning a new diet is a great step in helping you decide with diet is right for you.

    Here are some of the foods that are either extremely low in carbohydrates or are low enough that you can still achieve a healthy weight loss:
    counting calories
    Green vegetables and healthy fats are
    recommended instead of starchy
    carbs and high fat foods.

    • Meats – Proteins usually have no carbohydrate calories on their own. However, if something is breaded or marinated, those extras will add carbohydrates.
    • Healthy fats – Lean cuts of meat are healthier than fatty choices. Also, beware of low-fat dairy products that are sometimes higher in carbohydrates due to added sugars. Full fat cheeses may be better, as long as you have smaller portions. Butter, olive oil, and coconut oil are also good choices.
    • Greens – Any green vegetable is recommended including lettuce, spinach, kale, and green beans.
    • Seeds and nuts – Though not free of carbohydrates, most nuts are low enough in carbs that you can safely enjoy a few handfuls daily. A handful of sunflower seeds or almonds makes a great between-meals snack to keep you feeling satisfied.
    • Fruit – Nearly all fruits are too high in carbohydrates to include on the diet. The exceptions to that include berries, avocado, lemons, and limes.
    To get a better handle on what foods with carbohydrates are healthy, WebMd's article about the Glycemic Index can help.

    Stock up on low carbohydrate recipes 


    There are many low-carb recipe books available as well as recipes for a low carbohydrate lifestyle online. Ready Set Eat has some great low carbohydrate recipes. Remember that variety is the spice of life and of any weight loss plan you want to use. Making sure your refrigerator is stocked with the healthy foods you need and having quick and easy recipes handy will help you be successful

    Happy dieting, and feel free to share your recipes and idea about low-carb dieting in the comments.

    Ric Moxley
    Contributing Writer