Monday, February 29, 2016

Warm Recipes for Cold Nights


For a cold, rainy night, there’s nothing like a belly-warming soup and hot entrée. Happily, there are many seasonally-appropriate yet healthy dishes to get you through the chill.

No matter what time of year it is, it is always better to purchase vegetables that are in-season. They tend to be fresher, and many times are more locally grown. Look for broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale and onions, which can generally withstand a hard frost. Here’s a more comprehensive list of frost-tolerant vegetables.


Healthy recipes for a cold day


When a hot food is what the doctor ordered, try one of these:

Healthy Winter Soup Recipes

If you want a super-healthy raw soup, and have a high-powered blender, such as a VitaMix (which can actually heat up the recipe through the force of its blade action), try this raw sweet corn and cashew chowder or this raw cream of celery soup recipe.

In a mood for a hearty but healthy chili? Then try this heart-healthy chili from American Heart Association, or this recipe for insanely easy vegetarian chili:

Ingredients:

· 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
· 1 cup chopped onions
· 3/4 cup chopped carrots
· 3 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
· 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
· 3/4 cup chopped celery
· 1 tablespoon chili powder
· 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms
· 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with liquid, chopped
· 1 (19 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
· 1 (11 ounce) can whole kernel corn, undrained
· 1 tablespoon ground cumin
· 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
· 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

Directions:

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions, carrots, and garlic until tender. Stir in green pepper, red pepper, celery, and chili powder. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes.

2. Stir in mushrooms, and cook 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, kidney beans, and corn. Season with cumin, oregano, and basil. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Healthy, Warm Entrées

It doesn’t get much heartier or heart-warming than a main dish of chicken breasts with mushroom cream sauce, especially with a side of balsamic & parmesan roasted cauliflower.

But then again, this cabbage roll recipe might be just as hearty, and pairs nicely with this roasted beet and kale salad:

Ingredients:

· 3 large beets
· 1 tablespoon olive oil
· salt and ground black pepper to taste
· 1 bunch fresh kale, cut into bite-size pieces
· 1/2 cup chopped cashews
· 1/4 cup dried cherries
· 2 tablespoons golden raisins
· 1/2 cup apple cider
· 1/2 lemon, juiced
· 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
· 2 tablespoons olive oil, or more to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Trim roots and stems from beets. Coat beets with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place beets onto prepared baking sheet.

3. Roast beets for 30 minutes; turn beets over and continue roasting until tender, 30 minutes to 1 hour more. Let beets cool. Peel skins from beets and cut into 1-inch cubes. Toss cooked beets with kale, cashews, dried cherries, and golden raisins in a large salad bowl.

4. Whisk apple cider, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, and cider vinegar in a bowl. Slowly drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil into apple cider mixture, whisking constantly, until dressing is combined. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 1 hour for flavors to blend before serving.

Healthy, Warm Desserts

There’s something about chocolate that feels “just right” during cold weather. Two good options are cashew & 3-seed chocolate bark or a low-fat warm chocolate pudding. For a warm, fruity dessert, try this topsy-turvy apple pie.


Do you have favorite healthy recipe of your own? Use the comments below to share and help us all warm up!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Monday, February 22, 2016

10 Effective Tips to Fight the Common Cold

 
With millions of cases of the common cold reported each year, colds are the number one reason that children miss school and adults miss work. In addition to pesky symptoms such as congestion, sneezing and sore throats, colds can be costly. Lost time at work, doctor’s visits and cold remedies adds up to a billion dollar industry in the U.S.
 
 
With that in mind, what are the most effective steps in preventing a cold? And once a cold starts, how can we treat it in an effective way? 
 
These tips can help prevent a cold and avoid expensive trips to the doctor or prescription medication: 
 
  1. Add moisture to your home: Germs travel faster in colder, less-humid environments. When your home is dry from the heat, it’s a breeding ground for cold germs. Experts recommend using a humidifier in your home if the air is overly dry. Humidifiers are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. 
  2. Treat your nasal passages: Your chances of getting sick are increased when your nasal passages are dry. Saline nasal spray flushes out mucus and bacteria, while keeping nasal passages moist. You can also try a neti pot. This device helps keep sinuses irrigated and may help ward off colds. 
  3. Exercise: Experts agree that exercise boosts the immune cells throughout your body, which is important for preventing colds. 
  4. Sleep: Get plenty of rest, especially during cold season, to keep your immune system strong. 
  5. Hand washing: Washing your hands thoroughly throughout the day is one of the best ways to prevent catching a cold this season. Remember to wash your hands after touching particularly germy items such as the refrigerator handle, remote controls and doorknobs.
If you’ve already developed cold symptoms, don’t despair. Check out these effective tips for treating a cold:
  1. Throat lozenges: Black currant, in particular, contains gamma-linoleic acid, a fatty acid that soothes the throat and decreases inflammation. This type of throat lozenges might be more effective in fighting sore throats associated with the common cold.
  2. Healthy foods: Try incorporating buckwheat honey into your diet. This honey is high in antioxidants and iron and filled with immune-boosting power. Chicken soup is an age-old remedy with anti-inflammatory effects that may help soothe a sore throat. Inhaling the steam from the soup may help clear nasal passages, too.
  3. Tea: Try one with medicinal mushrooms and help stop germs before they take over.
  4. Turmeric: This yellow spice is a disease-fighter against bacteria and viruses. It’s a good source of manganese and potassium, and both help overall immunity.
  5. Vitamin C and zinc: Check with your doctor or pharmacist regarding supplements such as vitamin C and zinc. They might be helpful in fighting the common cold.
By practicing sound prevention and treatment options, you can effectively tackle the common cold this season.   
 
If you do require cold or flu medication this winter, remember that the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card may help you save money on these prescriptions. For a FREE card, visit www.familywize.org/card or download a free card in the App Store.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Top Tips for Heart Health


February is National Heart Month, a smart time to check your heart health and assess the degree to which your lifestyle is affecting your risk of heart attack, heart disease or stroke, and make positive changes for better cardiovascular health.

How?

Good heart health is all about the basics: diet, exercise and genetics.
  • Diet: What you put into your body
  • Exercise: What you do, or don’t do, when it comes to physical activity
  • Genetics: Your family history
While you cannot redefine your genetic history, you have the ability to influence your own health and longevity by making smart lifestyle choices, and using what you know about your background to improve your odds. Let’s look at each of these three factors in terms of strengthening your heart and reducing your risk of heart disease.


Diet 

Dietitians and other experts recommend reducing your sodium (salt) intake to less than 1,500 mg/day. Other heart-healthy diet recommendations include eating lots of high-fiber foods, foods with omega-6 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, certain oils), and oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout).
 
Foods to avoid include those with low nutrients, foods that are high in saturated fats (red meat, whole-fat dairy, egg yolks), fast food (which often is high in trans fats) and limiting alcohol to just a drink or two per day. 

For a more complete list of heart-healthy foods see University of Maryland Medical Center’s heart healthy diet list.

Exercise

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends regular physical activity to reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke and heart disease. AHA’s recommendation is to get “at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.” 
 
An easy-to-remember and effective plan is 30 min./day for 5 days/week. If your schedule or current health condition makes the thought of doing a daily 30-minute routine overwhelming, you can break that 30 minutes up into two or three daily sessions of just 10-15 minutes each for positive results. 
 
These levels will, for most people, ensure good maintenance of heart health. But if you need to also lower your blood pressure or reduce bad cholesterol levels, shoot instead for at least 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise for 3-to-4 days/week. Try walking, running, swimming or biking – as these exercises naturally maintain an elevated heart rate for an extended time.
 
For more recommendations on heart-healthy physical activity, check out AHA’s Heart-Healthy Recommendations for Physical Activity.

Genetics

Your genetic background – your family tree and racial/geographic roots – can influence your risk of heart disease. But two recent studies from Northwestern Medicine suggest that a healthy lifestyle of good diet and exercise is far more influential in reducing your risk of heart disease:
  • A 2010 study showed that cardiovascular health in middle age and beyond is less a gift from your genes and more earned by a healthy lifestyle.
  • A second study showed that only a small percent of cardiovascular health is passed from parent to child; the bulk of negative or positive cardiovascular health resulted from lifestyle behaviors.
That said, if incidences of heart disease or stroke are in your family, the AHA cautions that your own risks are higher. So while knowing your family’s health history can help you avoid a heart attack or stroke, the AHA agrees that you can reduce your risk by making heart-healthy lifestyle changes.


Live Healthy. Live Smart.
- FamilyWize


Ric Moxley 
Contributing Writer


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Share the Love with FamilyWize



How appropriate that February brings us both Valentine’s Day and National Heart Month. We celebrate the heart’s passion as well as the heart’s importance to our overall wellness.

For both reasons – emotional and physical heart health – we at FamilyWize have launched the Share the Love initiative.

Share the Love, running throughout the first half of February, seeks to raise awareness of heart health as well as the savings potential of the free FamilyWize prescription savings card. In 2015, FamilyWize helped 350,000+ cardholders save more than $29 million on heart medications alone!

We encourage you to show your love for family and friends by telling them about the free FamilyWize prescription savings card. Giving the gift of chocolates in February is popular, but why not also give a gift that will save your loved ones an average of 36 percent on heart medications all year long?!


Share the Love

To help you share the love with your friends and family, here’s what you'll need to know:
  • The FamilyWize prescription discount care is free, whether or not you have health insurance.  
  • The card is accepted at more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide, including all major chains.
  • The card comes with unlimited use, which means that the savings can be substantial for those who are on regular, ongoing medication use.
  • The card covers all FDA-approved prescription medications.
  • The card provides an average of 43% savings on all prescription medication retail prices, and an average of 36% on heart meds (based on FY 2015).
  • In total, FamilyWize has helped more than 9 million people save more than $900 million dollars on prescription medications.
  • You can get your FamilyWize card by printing it from FamilyWize.org, by calling 1-866-810-3784 or by downloading the free FamilyWize app.
  • Getting your prescription discount is as simple as showing the card to your pharmacist - every time.
  • Always  carry your FamilyWize prescription savings card with you to the pharmacy, to ensure you are always receiving the lowest price.
All of this information is available with our sharable Valentine's Day e-card, which you can get at www.FamilyWize.org/SharetheLove, through February 15, or click the first link below. The “Share the Love” Valentine’s Day e-card includes the FamilyWize prescription savings card.

 GET THE CARD               SHARE WITH OTHERS
 
There are many ways to share the message, including posting it on Facebook, sharing it on Twitter, or send the message by e-mail.
  
Hashtag the Love!

We will be sharing tips and advice for better heart health and savings on social media using #SharetheLove throughout the month, so look for those messages too!

Learn more at www.FamilyWize.org/SharetheLove.

Live Healthy. Live Smart.
-FamilyWize

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Getting the Facts on Glaucoma

Currently, more than three million people in the United States suffer from glaucoma. According to the National Eye Institute, this number is expected to rise to about 4.2 million by the year 2030. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to learn more about the disease - and how to help prevent it.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a classification of diseases that damage your optic nerve, which carries images from your eye to your brain. The Glaucoma Research Foundation calls it "the sneak thief of sight," as there are no symptoms. In addition, any loss of vision permanent; you can lose as much as 40% of your eyesight without noticing. It is progressive and irreversible, and initial vision loss from glaucoma is to your peripheral (side) vision, so if you have it, you may not notice anything until significant vision is lost.
 
The onset of glaucoma often results in the complete loss of eyesight. The World Health Organization estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind as a result of glaucoma, with over 120,000 of those people in the United States alone.

The most common type of glaucoma is hereditary. Siblings of people with glaucoma are at a much greater risk. It can affect people of any age, but usually occurs to the elderly and people of middle age.

There are two main types of glaucoma: primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), and Angle-Closure Glaucoma. Both are identified by an increase of pressure inside the eye.
When optic nerve damage has occurred despite a normal nerve pressure, this is called normal tension glaucoma.

Secondary glaucoma can occur when a different disease contributes to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and vision loss. Read about this and other types of glaucoma here.

How can glaucoma be prevented?

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness and is the leading cause of preventable blindness. A number of factors can put you at higher risk. This includes:
  • People of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent 
  • People over 60 
  • Family members of those already diagnosed 
  • Diabetics 
  • Those who are severely nearsighted
Raising awareness is the key to prevention. Though glaucoma’s most common form has virtually no symptoms, a comprehensive eye examination can reveal its presence and allow you to begin treatment immediately.

The right treatment for glaucoma depends upon the type of glaucoma you have as well as other factors. Although there is no cure, medication or surgery can help slow or prevent further vision loss. This is why awareness and early detection are vital to stopping the progress of the disease.

Learn more

The resources below can help you increase your awareness and understanding of glaucoma:
Remember that regular eye exams are especially important for those at higher risk, and may help to prevent vision loss. If you have been diagnosed with the disease, it's important to follow your treatment as instructed by your doctor, including taking your medication exactly as prescribed. However, recent studies have shown that many people in the United States skip their medication, due to the high costs associated with them.

free prescription savings card like the one offered by FamilyWize can help make medication more affordable, even if you have insurance. Last year, the FamilyWize card saved an average of 43% on prescription medications. Everyone is eligible and there are no restrictions, so if you're concerned about the price of your prescription or know someone who is struggling to pay for their medication, the card can be a great way to save.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Friday, January 22, 2016

Solutions for Progress: Our New Partner in Savings!

Our goal at FamilyWize is to help improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities by lowering the out-of-pocket costs for prescription medication. We’re dedicated to making life more affordable for people, which is why we’re so excited to announce our partnership with Solutions for Progress (SfP), a 20-year-old company dedicated to helping low- and moderate-income individuals move out of poverty.


SfP offers cloud-based services that help people with limited incomes meet their financial needs. Their services include MyBudgetCoach, an online financial coaching service, as well as The Benefit Bank, an online service that combines a benefits screener, benefits application filer and IRS-certified tax assistance and filing.

SfP’s mission of using proven outreach techniques and cloud-based technology to help families stabilize, manage and grow their household finances makes them the perfect new partner to support FamilyWize’s goal to help make prescription medication more affordable for all.

Through their network, SfP will be helping to distribute the FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, which is absolutely free for anyone to obtain and use. In 2014, the FamilyWize card saved an average of 42 percent on prescriptions, with over $935 million saved since 2005!


Those who want to learn more about Solutions for Progress can visit their website at www.solutionsforprogress.com.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How to Stay Healthy as a Family this New Year

If you're interested in getting healthier, the New Year is a great opportunity to connect with your family and make plans to accomplish positive changes together. By setting goals now, you can reap the benefits for the entire year. Read on for some suggestions on how to stay healthy and fit as a family in 2016.

Eating Well

A healthy lifestyle begins with a healthy diet. Start eating meals that include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Choose foods at the grocery store that are unprocessed and lower in fat and sugar. By preparing meals and eating them as a family instead of going to a restaurant or ordering takeout, you can ensure that everyone is eating healthy and enjoying quality time together. For snack suggestions, check out our post on healthy snack options for ideas on what to have instead of junk food, which is often high in sugar or salt.

Exercising

Did you know that family members are more likely to keep up an active lifestyle if they're engaging in one together? This winter, choose fun activities that the whole family can enjoy, like sledding, skating or even having a snowball fight in the yard. In warmer weather, try biking, hiking or going to the beach.

And don’t forget to set goals. According to Let’s Move, America,  you should plan for at least 30 minutes of activity three times per week.

Maintaining Good Mental Health

Mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to your overall wellness. If you suffer from high stress levels, use techniques like exercise or meditation, which can help manage your mood. How much you socialize is also an important factor, so group activities are best. Incorporating healthier habits in your diet and exercise routines can also give you more energy and lead to a more positive outlook.

Financial concerns can also be a major cause of stress. In many cases, people who need a prescription or take one regularly often skip doses or fail to fill their prescription entirely. This can affect your entire well-being - both mental and physical. That's why FamilyWize is proud to offer a free prescription savings card that can save you money just by showing it to your pharmacist when you pick up your medication. It's completely cost-free to use, can be used an unlimited number of times, and everyone is eligible, insured and uninsured.

The image of a healthy parent is an important one. Kids will mimic your habits and lifestyle, so it’s just as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the rest of the family. By making plans and setting concrete goals, you can help ensure that 2016 is your healthiest year yet!