Heart Awareness Month: 5 Exercises For A Healthy Heart

As many of you know, February is a month dedicated to Heart Health Awareness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 600,000 Americans die of heart disease annually. Also, heart disease is one of the major causes of disability in the United States.

To stop this from happening, people have started to eat foods low in cholesterol, incorporate healthier food in their diets, and change or modify lifestyle factors such as being physically inactive. You can reduce the chance of developing heart disease by doing the correct exercises that are good for your heart.

Some of the exercises that are recommended by cardiologists and experts in the topic are:

Stretch your muscles. No matter the exercise you are going to do, you need to always stretch your arms and legs before and after doing it. This will prevent you from suffering an injury or muscle strain.

Take a walk. This is the physical activity for excellence. Weather it is on a treadmill or on the road, walking will improve the way your body uses oxygen. If you walk 20 minutes each day, you’ll notice that your breathing improves and that you can perform physical activities for a longer period of time. These are the first signs that your heart is becoming stronger.

Aerobic exercises. This type of exercise, according to the WebMD website, “has the most benefits for your heart”. When doing it correctly, aerobics help decrease your heart rate and blood pressure. Jogging, jumping rope, and even climbing the stairs are examples of aerobic exercises. If you want a more interactive experience, fun video games such Wii Sports and Wii Fit Step Aerobics will get your heart rate up and have you entertained for hours. Try this with your kids, they’ll love it!

Cardiovascular exercises. According to the SheKnows website, cardiovascular exercise is “any form of activity that increases your respiratory and heart rate.” Running, swimming, cycling, and circuit training are all examples of this. These exercises help you burn unwanted calories and, by losing weight, you reduce your risk of heart disease. Also, cardiovascular activities make your heart pump faster, becoming stronger with every time you do any of these exercises.

Weight Lifting. The American Heart Association has stated that “resistance training increases muscular strength, endurance, independence, and ability to perform a large range of activities.” Moderate weight training is recommended to some patients to increase their health and fitness. If you are embarking on resistance training for the first time, remember that you have to first consult it with your doctor. He will give you a weight lifting program that fits to your needs.

Exercise schedule. To achieve maximum benefits, you need to do one of the exercises mentioned above at least three to four times a week. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. A total of 30 minutes a day, five times a week, is an easy formula to remember and accomplish!

Heart Health Awareness Month: Portobello Mushroom Burger Recipe

February is dedicated to the Heart Health Awareness. For this reason, we provide you a heart healthy recipe that has very few calories and no cholesterol. This Grilled Portobello Mushroom burger from the website Mayo Clinic is not only delicious, but healthy for your heart and body. With only 283 calories and 0 mg of cholesterol, this is an excellent alternative for those of you who love eating burgers:

Ingredients

4 large Portobello mushroom caps, 5 inches in diameter
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 whole-wheat buns, toasted
4 slices tomato
4 slices red onion
2 bibb lettuce leaves, halved

Directions

  1. Clean mushrooms with a damp cloth and remove their stems. Place in a glass dish, stem (gill) side up.
  2. To prepare the marinade, in a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, cayenne pepper and olive oil. Drizzle the marinade over the mushrooms. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, turning mushrooms once.
  3. Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill or broiler. Away from the heat source, lightly coat the grill rack or broiler pan with cooking spray. Position the cooking rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source.
  4. Grill or broil the mushrooms on medium heat, turning often, until tender, about 5 minutes on each side. Baste with marinade to keep from drying out. Using tongs, transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
  5. Place each mushroom on a bun and top with 1 tomato slice, 1 onion slice and 1/2 lettuce leaf. Serve immediately.

 

Shrimp Recipe: Stop Protein Cravings!

If you have abstained from eating beef and poultry because of Lent, try cooking this delicious seafood alternative…you will love it! With this fresh fry meal you will be able to please yourself with things you love to eat, without breaking the Lenten diet. This tasteful Fiesta Popcorn Shrimp Tacos recipe from the Woman’s Day website is easy and fast to cook:

Ingredients

  • 2 packages (12 oz.) of Popcorn shrimp
  • 8-10 flour tortillas, heated according to package directions
  • 8 ounces of white shredded cheddar cheese
  • 14 ounces of coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage)
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 cans of sliced black olives
  • Lime wedges (optional)
  • Milk, as needed to thin

Sauce

  • 8 ounces of sour cream
  • 1 ounce packet ranch dressing mix
  • 1 ¼ ounces packet taco seasoning
  • Milk, as needed to thin

Directions:

  1. Bake shrimp according to package directions.
  2. Combine sauce ingredients, adding taco seasoning to taste. Thin sauce if need with 1-2 tablespoons of milk.
  3. Spread a tablespoon of sauce over each warm tortilla, shredded cabbage, cheese, tomato and olives. Top with cooked shrimp. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

I am Lactose Intolerant. Can I eat dairy products?

We keep celebrating the Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month and this time we want to provide some tips so, if you are lactose intolerant, you can enjoy dairy with no regrets.

The answer to having lactose intolerance is not stop eating dairy. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), persons with lactose intolerance can manage this issue effectively by having “small amounts of milk, yogurt, hard cheeses, and reduced-lactose foods”. Remember that dairy foods have calcium and other good nutrition to help build bones and healthy bodies. For this reason, you cannot cut off dairy products completely from your diet.

If you or someone you know suffers from this, we provide you some of the answers to your questions:

How many servings of dairy can I have in a day?

If you are 9 years or older, you can have 3 daily servings of dairy. If your kids are between 4 and 8 years old, they can have 2 ½ daily servings and, for toddlers (2 to 3 years) the appropriate amount of daily servings is 2.

What is one serving of dairy?

Some of the daily servings recommended to lactose intolerant people are 8 oz. cup of milk, 8 oz. cup of yogurt, 1.5 oz. of natural cheese, or 2 oz. of processed cheese. As we mentioned above, if you are an adult you can have 3 servings.

What type of milk is better for me?

Chocolate milk is a great treat that may be easier on your stomach than regular white milk. Try drinking a small amount of milk and slowly work your way up to an amount that doesn’t upset your stomach. Remember the daily servings!

What type of cheese is better for me?

Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, mozzarella and Swiss are cheeses that are more lactose intolerance friendly. Top your sandwiches and crackers with these amazing natural cheeses.

Can I eat yogurt?

Yes! Yogurt has friendly bacteria that help your body break down milk sugar. It also gives your body important nutrients such as potassium, vitamin D and protein.

What is the difference between “lactose-free” and regular dairy products?

Lactose-free are real dairy foods, just without the milk sugar (which is what produces your body to feel uncomfortable after you eat dairy foods). Also, lactose-free products give your body the same nutrition that regular dairy products provide

President’s Day: Let’s Honor George Washington with a Magnificent Dessert!

President’s day is more than a holiday. It is a celebration to remember and honor our first President George Washington. For this reason, we encourage you to try a George Washington Cherry Cobbler dessert from the Taste At Home website. Each serving has just 231 calories and 2 g of saturated fat. Let’s bake this marvelous dessert so you and your family can have a sweet President’s Day:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 package (12 ounces) frozen pitted dark sweet cherries, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • Ice cream, optional

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Stir in water until smooth. Add the cherries and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Pour into an 8-in. square baking dish; set aside.
  2. For topping, in a large bowl, combine the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk just until moistened.
  3. Drop by spoonfuls over the cherries; sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 400° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream if desired. Yield: 8 servings.

 

 

A Healthy Kids Diet: Tips to Use MyPlate

Are you concerned about your children’s diet? Is the food they are eating high in calories and trans-fats and low in nutrients? As parents, our role is to teach our kids how to eat healthy so they can have a happy, healthy, and long life.

We are what we eat. It is well known that if you have unhealthy eating habits, you have a highest tendency of developing diseases. In contrast, if you eat the adequate amount of nutrients your body needs to function properly since your childhood; your probability of having more energy and a better quality of life will be higher. If you already know all this, why not paying attention to the food your kids have?

In 2010, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) found out that many Americans want to provide healthy meals for their children but they don’t know how to do it or where to start. As a response to this issue, the ChooseMyPlate.gov initiative was created. MyPlate is a very easy-to-understand icon—in the form of a plate—that moms and dads can use to develop healthy eating habits for their children and the entire family.

But you might be wondering right now, how can you use this icon to teach your kids how to eat healthier? For that, we provide you some tips so you can better understand this initiative, the MyPlate website, and the MyPlate icon:

Print a copy of the MyPlate icon

You just need to go to choosemyplate.gov to print a copy of the plate. Hang the icon on your fridge or in any part of your house where it is visible. By just seeing the icon you can have a general idea of the portions of every type of food your kids need to eat on a daily basis.

Use the Dietary Guidelines Consumer Brochure as a starting point

This four-page brochure tells you the type of food you need to cut back, the ones you need to increase in your diet, the portions of each food type you need to include on your plate, and how to understand food labels.

Track down the calories you and your kids consume

MyPlate.gov provides a link that automatically takes you to the Super Tracker website (https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/default.aspx). Here you’ll be able to track the foods you and your children eat by entering the food you have (e.g. banana, apple, tomato, beef, chicken, etc.) as well as the food type (e.g. fruits, vegetables, meats, etc.).  This site also provides you the nutrition facts of each food, as well as other important things you need to know about it.

Teach your kids with your example

Remember that toddlers like to copy everything you do. Therefore, if you want your kids to eat healthy you need to become a role model for them. The PBS parents website suggests that you incorporate in your daily diet a combination of the food you like and the one your kids like. That way everyone will be happy and satisfied of what everyone is having for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  You can also make a quick game by sitting with your kids and ask them what would be a good choice for the dairy, fruits, vegetables, protein, and grains sections. That way they will not only eat the food they like, but you are also teaching them how to build a healthy plate.

 

Happy Fat Tuesday: It’s All About Feasting!

Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday. This means that, if you follow the tradition, tomorrow is your last day to eat and drink a lot with no regrets. So, if you are ready to celebrate this festivity, we have gathered some of the best recipes that you can enjoy in this day with your family and friends.

Although Mardi Gras was celebrated this past weekend, the real “Mardi Gras day” is tomorrow. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, which refers to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.  According to About.com, many Catholic countries have acquired this tradition of feasting right before the beginning of the fasting season, which starts with Ash Wednesday.

If you are a Catholic, a Mardi Gras lover, or you simply enjoy tasting delicious food, try these recipes and celebrate Fat Tuesday with your loved ones:

Breakfast can’t get any sweeter

Start your Fat Tuesday day by cooking and eating a super sweet Cinnamon Bun Pancake from TastyKitchen.com (http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/breakfastbrunch/pancakeswaffles/cinnamon-bun-pancakes/). Who doesn’t love cinnamon, right?

Lunch gets flavorful

Celebrate Fat Tuesday with a touch of New Orleans style by preparing a delicious gumbo with bacon and sausage and seasoned with Cajun blend from AllRecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/good-new-orleans-creole-gumbo/detail.aspx). If you are a chicken lover, try this tasteful Chicken and Okra Gumbo from TasteOfHome.com (http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Chicken-and-Okra-Gumbo).

Dine like a King/Queen!

Nothing can beat a delicious Jambalaya dish! The combination of shrimp, ham, rice, and creole seasonings make this main course something exquisite that everyone will love. We recommend you to try the Creole Jambalaya recipe from TasteOfHome.com (http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Creole-Jambalaya). For those who like cutting the categories even during Fat Tuesday, try preparing a classic New Orleans sandwich, known as Muffuletta, from Delish.com (http://www.delish.com/recipefinder/muffuletta-2088). You can have a real Fat Tuesday dinner by eating only 390 calories!

Thirsty? Fat Tuesday is also about drinking!

If you are a cocktail lover, try preparing one or all of the drink recipes provided by DMagazine.com (http://sidedish.dmagazine.com/2012/02/21/what-to-drink-now-happy-fat-tuesday/). You can either have the Hurricane, which is one of the most popular New Orleans cocktails; On the Mark Sazerac, made with Bourbon whiskey and Peychaud bitters; or a Rosemary Frozen Margarita, which is made with tequila and lemon juice. For those who don’t like alcohol, try the Acohol-Free Mint Julep made with fresh mint leaves and lemonade from AllRecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/alcohol-free-mint-julep/).

Let Mardi Gras Come to You!

It is “Carnival season”. Bourbon Street is getting ready for the most awaited time of the year in New Orleans. It has been down that the Mardi Gras celebration is just about excess. Excessive drinking, eating and doing crazy stuff to win plastic beads are things that have characterized this celebration along the years. But besides considering it to be an R-rated celebration, Mardi Gras is also a family-friendly celebration.

Hundreds of families gather at the avenue’s median (or “neutral ground”) to spend some time with their kids and have a better chance of catching goodies from the floats. While having a good time, they eat and snack as much as they can. Not only people and families in New Orleans celebrate what is considered to be the last days of eating richer, fatty foods, but people across America also celebrate “Carnival season” at their local towns. So, if you can’t go to Mardi Gras, let Mardi Gras come to you!

Here are some party ideas and recipes that you can incorporate to your Mardi Gras party:

Create a masquerade ball party

If you are hosting the party, make masquerade invitations so your party follows a theme. Make the invitations colorful and playful. Cook or buy cookies with a masquerade shape and learn how to decorate them with glitter—you will have a real Mardi Gras masquerade cookie! Follow these easy steps from Sweetopia.net (http://sweetopia.net/2011/03/how-to-decorate-mardi-gras-mask-cookies/).

Decorate your dinner table with beads

Remember to keep it colorful! Use a gold, green, or purple tablecloth and put some plastic beads over each plate. Combine colors to make it interesting to the eye of your guests. Use confetti and glitter and sprinkle over the table. Click on this link to view a picture of a Mardi Gras decorated dinner table: http://media-cache-ec2.pinterest.com/originals/73/4a/41/734a41adee3bcb89ffbb267c016ece3f.jpg

Cook following the real New Orleans style

Spice it up! Two of the most well-known New Orleans dishes are the Gumbo and the Jambalaya. In just 45 minutes, you can cook a delicious Chicken-Andouille Gumbo from MyRecipes.com (http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-andouille-gumbo-10000000257659/) that all your guests will love. You can also make an easy Cajun Jambalaya in just 45 minutes from AllRecipes.com (http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Easy-Cajun-Jambalaya/Detail.aspx?prop24=RD_RelatedRecipes).

Finish your party with a cherry on top!

No Mardi Gras party is complete without a King Cake. This cake is a sweetened yeast bread, usually baked in a ring shape.  According to About.com, the cake is frosted with gold, green, and purple icing representing in order, power, faith, and justice. Although you will have to refrigerate it for 8 hours, it will only take you 1 ½ hours between the preparation and the cooking procedure. Learn the ingredients and how to make a delicious and sweet King Cake on FoodNetwork.com (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/king-cake-recipe2/index.html).

A Main Course With Love: Grilled Ginger Salmon

In just 25 minutes, you can prepare an exquisite Valentine’s Day main dish that will amuse your sweetheart. Follow these easy steps from Food.com:

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets

Directions:

  • In bowl, mix the first 5 ingredients.
  • Place onions in small bowl and chill until ready to use.
  • Grill salmon over medium coals for 10 minutes, turn and grill the other side for 10 minutes.
  • Brush with ginger sauce throughout grilling.
  • Place salmon on platter and sprinkle with onions.

Valentine Treats: Rice Krispies Pops

For a heavenly Valentine’s treat, prepare these easy and delicious Rice Krispies Valentine Pops from the Love From The Oven blog:

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 1 box of Rice Krispies Treats
  • Sprinkles
  • Sticks

Directions:

  1. Cut the Rice Krispies Treats into squares using a square cutter.
  2. Put the sticks in the Rice Krispies squares and place them in the freezer to chill.
  3. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  4. Dip the Rice Krispies squares in chocolate and decorate with sprinkles.