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Thursday, 11 October 2012

How to deal with colds and flu this winter


So winter is here. Yes it's miserable out there right now and motivation can flounder at this time of year much easier. A strong mind and will is one thing, but what if you get a nasty bout of flu putting you out of action. We don't want that.... and neither do you!
  
Most of us will probably have a cold this winter and some of us will have flu. Find out how to look after yourself if these viruses affect you. 
 
Colds and flu are caused by viruses. There are more than 200 common cold viruses, and three types of flu virus with many different strains, so they're hard to avoid. These viruses can be spread through droplets that are coughed and sneezed out by an infected person. The viruses can also be transferred on a person's fingers. For example, if you have a cold and you touch your nose or eyes and then touch someone else, you may pass the virus on to them.

The main symptoms of winter bugs are coughing, sneezing, blocked nose, sore throat, headache and a slight temperature. If these are the only symptoms you have, it’s unlikely that your GP will be able to do anything.
You may want to visit your local pharmacy, where you can get advice on how to manage the symptoms and buy over-the-counter medicine.
Get rest and eat well
Dr Rupal Shah, a GP in south London, has the following advice: “Try to rest, eat well, avoid stress and keep well hydrated. If you have a fever, you may need extra fluids. You could also take paracetamol to treat fever and pain, or inhale steam with a decongestant in it to help clear a blocked nose.”

Pharmacists say cold and flu medicines are among their top sellers in the winter. Some of the remedies combine painkillers with decongestants, which help to manage symptoms.

“Painkillers, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin, can really help if you have a cold,” according to pharmacist Angela Chalmers. But aspirin shouldn't be given to children under 16 years of age. “Decongestants help to reduce the swelling inside your nose so you can breathe more easily.” Find your local pharmacy.

Children can also be treated using over-the-counter painkillers to ease discomfort and help to bring down a fever. Both paracetamol and ibuprofen are available as a liquid for children and can be given from the age of about three months. Always check with your doctor if you aren’t sure which treatments you can give your child.

In most cases, antibiotics (which are used to treat bacterial infections) aren’t necessary. “Colds and flu, and most coughs, are caused by viruses so antibiotics can’t help. Minor bacterial infections will also be fought off by natural immunity,” explains Dr Shah.

Children and colds

There are some benefits, particularly for children, in catching a few coughs and colds. “Children tend to get a lot of colds because the body takes time to build up immunity. Your body learns to fight off a particular kind of virus every time you get an infection, which is why you get fewer colds as you get older," says Angela Chalmers.
While most bugs will run their course without doing any real harm, Dr Shah says there are certain cases when you or your child should see a GP. These include:
  • if you or your child has a chronic condition such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease
  • if you have a very high temperature and feel ill, for example if you also have an unusually severe headache or abdominal pain
  • if your child is vomiting but does not have diarrhoea, or has a rash in addition to the fever
  • if your child stops drinking and is unusually lethargic
  • if your child’s fever doesn’t respond to paracetamol or ibuprofen 
  •  
Babies, and older and frailer people should get help if they're unwell. All babies under three months with a temperature of more than 38°C (100.4°F) should be urgently assessed by a doctor, as should babies aged three to six months with a temperature higher than 39°C (102.2°F).

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Friday, 5 October 2012

Avoid flu this winter - Catch it, Bin it, Kill it

Catch it, Bin it, Kill it

 
Find out how easily flu viruses are passed on and learn the simple measures that will prevent them spreading.

Video courtesy of the UK National Health Service. http://www.nhs.uk

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Thursday, 4 October 2012

7 Inspirational Wallpapers








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Sunday, 30 September 2012

10 winter health risks


Some health problems, such as asthma, sore throat and cold sores, are triggered or worsened by cold weather. Here's how to help your body deal with cold weather ailments.

Colds

You can help prevent colds by washing your hands regularly. This destroys bugs that you may have picked up from touching surfaces used by other people, such as light switches and door handles. It’s also important to keep the house and any household items, such as cups, glasses and towels, clean, especially if someone in your house is ill.

Top tip: If you get a cold, use disposable tissues instead of cloth handkerchiefs to avoid constantly re-infecting your own hands.

Sore throat

Sore throats are common in winter and are almost always caused by viral infections. There’s some evidence that changes in temperature, such as going from a warm, centrally heated room to the icy outdoors, can also affect the throat.
Top tip: One quick and easy remedy for a sore throat is to gargle with warm salty water. It won’t heal the infection, but it has anti-inflammatory properties and can have a soothing effect. Dissolve one teaspoon of salt in a glass of part-cooled boiled water.

Asthma

Cold air is a major trigger of asthma symptoms, such as wheezing and shortness of breath. People with asthma should be especially careful in winter.
Top tip: Stay indoors on very cold, windy days. If you do go out, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth. Be extra vigilant about taking your regular medications, and keep rescue inhalers close by and in a warm place.

Norovirus

Also known as the winter vomiting bug, norovirus is an extremely infectious stomach bug. It can strike all year round, but is more common in winter and in places such as hotels and schools. The illness is unpleasant but it’s usually over within a couple of days.
Top tip: When people are ill with vomiting and diarrhoea, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Young children and the elderly are especially at risk. By drinking oral rehydration fluids (available from pharmacies), you can reduce the risks of dehydration.

Painful joints

Many people with arthritis say their joints become more painful in winter, though it’s not clear why this is so. Only joint symptoms, such as pain and stiffness, are affected by the weather. There’s no evidence that changes in the weather cause joint damage.
Top tip: Many people get a little depressed during the winter months and this can make them perceive pain more acutely. Everything feels worse, including medical conditions. Daily exercise can boost a person's mental and physical state. Swimming is ideal as it’s easy on the joints.

Cold sores

Most of us recognise that cold sores are a sign that we’re run down or under stress. While there’s no cure for cold sores, you can reduce the chances of getting one by looking after yourself through winter.
Top tip: Every day, do things that make you feel less stressed, such as having a hot bath, going for a walk in the park or watching one of your favourite films.

Heart attacks

Heart attacks are more common in winter. This may be because cold snaps increase blood pressure and put more strain on the heart. Your heart also has to work harder to maintain body heat when it's cold.
Top tip: Stay warm in your home. Keep the main rooms you use at 21C (70F) and use a hot water bottle or electric blanket to keep warm in bed. Wrap up warm when you go out and wear a hat, scarf and gloves.

Cold hands

Raynaud’s phenomenon is a common condition that makes your fingers and toes change colour and become very painful in cold weather. Fingers can go white, then blue, then red and throb and tingle. It’s a sign of poor circulation in the small blood vessels of the hands and feet. In severe cases, medication can help, but most people live with their symptoms.
Top tip: Don't smoke or drink caffeine (they can both worsen symptoms) and always wear warm gloves, socks and shoes when going out in cold weather.

Dry skin

Dry skin is a common condition and is often worse during the winter when environmental humidity is low. Moisturising is essential during winter. Contrary to popular belief, moisturising lotions and creams aren’t absorbed by the skin. Instead, they act as a sealant to stop the skin’s natural moisture from evaporating away. The best time to apply moisturiser is after a bath or shower while your skin is still moist, and again at bedtime.
Top tip: Have warm rather than hot showers. Water that is too hot makes skin feel more dry and itchy. Hot water will also make your hair look dull and dry.

Flu

Flu is a major killer of vulnerable people. People aged 65 and over and people with long-term health conditions including diabetes and kidney disease are particularly at risk. The best way to prevent getting flu is to have the flu jab. It gives good protection against flu and lasts for one year.
Top tip: Find out if you’re at risk of getting flu by asking your GP or read our article on who should have the flu jab. If you're in a high-risk group, see your GP to get the vaccination.



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Feel Good Winter Warmer: Chilli Con Carne

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions
  • 700 g lean stewing beef, fat removed and cut into 1-2cm cubes
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 800 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 green peppers, sliced
  • 3 green or red chillies, chopped, seeds left in if you like your chillies fiery
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tinned red kidney beans, 400g
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
To serve
  • 125 ml soured cream
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • 4 tbsp cheddar cheese, grated  

Method

Heat the olive oil in a casserole,or saucepan and fry the meat until it changes colour - about 5-7 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and stir for a minute or so before tipping in the tinned tomatoes,chopped chillies, peppers, and a good pinch of salt.

Cover the pan and simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the liquid reduced to a thick sauce. If it gets too dry during cooking, pour in a little more water.

Add the cumin, kidney beans (and a little of the bean liquid,if you like)and the brown sugar. Simmer for a further 10 mins before serving with rice, a spoonful of sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and and coriander leaves as a garnish.  For added spicy kick, serve this dish with hot chilli sauce.

And there you have it, a wholesome hearty meal that will warm you through after a long day in the winter weather. Enjoy!


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Whooping cough outbreak: Pregnant women to be vaccinated

Hundreds of thousands of pregnant women across the UK are to be offered a whooping cough vaccine to protect babies from an escalating outbreak of the disease.

Very young babies are at the greatest risk of serious complications. Nine have died in the UK this year.
The injection, available from Monday, should boost a mother's defences, which are then passed onto the baby.

Health officials say there are no safety concerns about the vaccine.
There are surges in whooping cough cases every three to four years and the latest outbreak started at the end of 2011. It is already the worst for more than a decade. 

Unprotected
Babies under six months of age are the most vulnerable. They are too young to be protected by routine vaccination, which starts at two months of age. 

The infection can stop the baby breathing or lead to pneumonia, brain damage, weight loss and death.
Women who are between 28 and 38 weeks pregnant are to be offered a combined whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccine. About 730,000 women a year could be given the vaccine.
Prof David Salisbury, the director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said: "We're boosting the mother to protect the baby. We can't protect babies until they are eight weeks, but their mothers can."
The mother's immune system should respond to the injection by producing whooping cough antibodies, which then cross the placenta into the developing child. 

This should provide enough protection until the baby has its first routine vaccine.
Women are being advised to have the vaccine even if they have been vaccinated before and that they should be vaccinated during all subsequent pregnancies.

Prof Salisbury said the safety of the vaccine was "excellent" and there were "no concerns" about using the vaccine during pregnancy, although some women would develop a fever.

"There is a clear benefit and no evidence of risk," he said.

Outbreak 
Before routine vaccination in 1957, whooping cough outbreaks in the UK were on a huge scale. It could affect up to 150,000 people and kill 300 in a single year.
The latest figures from the Health Protection Agency reported 4,791 cases in 2012 - 1,230 in August alone. There were only 908 cases in the whole of 2008 during the last outbreak.
Scotland has reported 508 cases up to mid-June while Northern Ireland had 139 cases up to mid-July. Both figures are significantly higher than for the previous year.

Whooping cough

  • It is also known as pertussis and is caused by a species of bacteria, Bordetella pertussis
  • It mostly affects infants, who are at highest risk of complications and even death
  • The earliest signs are similar to a common cold, which then develop into a cough and can even result in pneumonia
  • Babies may turn blue while coughing due to a lack of oxygen
  • The cough tends to come in short bursts followed by desperate gasps for air (the whooping noise)
  • Adults can be infected - but the infection often goes unrecognised
The chief medical officer for England, Prof Dame Sally Davies, said: "Whooping cough is highly contagious and newborns are particularly vulnerable.

"It's vital that babies are protected from the day they are born - that's why we are offering the vaccine to all pregnant women."
The vaccine will be offered during routine antenatal appointments with a nurse, midwife or GP.
The vaccination programme is only temporary to deal with the heightened risk of whooping cough infection during this outbreak.
A similar programme is already under way for pregnant women in the US, although the evidence for its effectiveness is still unclear.
Dr Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at the Health Protection Agency (HPA), welcomed the measure.
"We have been very concerned about the continuing increase in whooping cough cases and related deaths.

"It's also important we continue to remind all parents to ensure their children are vaccinated against whooping cough to continue their protection through childhood.
"Parents should also be alert to the signs and symptoms - which include severe coughing fits accompanied by the characteristic 'whoop' sound in young children but as a prolonged cough in older children or adults. It is also advisable to keep their babies away from older siblings or adults who have the infection."
Other groups including the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have backed the scheme.

Analysis: What caused the outbreak?

Vaccination for whooping cough is at record levels in the UK, so what is behind the largest outbreak of the disease in recent times?
The experts do not know for certain. One thought is that the bacteria which causes the infection, Bordetella pertussis, may have changed.
Another idea favoured by the HPA is that so many years of really tight control over whooping cough means people's immune systems have not been naturally boosted by repeat infections in adulthood - leaving the population as a whole more vulnerable.
It is also an outbreak which is affecting multiple countries including the US, Norway, the Netherlands and Australia.


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Saturday, 8 September 2012

Creamy Potato Salad


Tossing potatoes with a little good vinegar while they are still warm infuses them with flavor. Capers, gherkins and a touch of anchovy give this old-fashioned salad a piquant finish, while red bell pepper and celery give it an appealing crunch.

12 servings, 1/2 cup each
Active Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, or other small waxy thin-skinned potatoes (about 10), scrubbed
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise, or soy mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery, (1-2 stalks)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons diced gherkin pickles
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Preparation

  1. Hard-cook eggs (see Tip). Peel eggs and chop coarsely.
  2. Meanwhile, place potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with lightly salted water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain; let cool for about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk mayonnaise, yogurt, oil, anchovy paste and pepper in a small bowl until smooth.
  4. Cut potatoes into cubes and place in a large bowl. Add vinegar and salt; toss gently to coat. Add bell pepper, onion, celery, parsley, gherkins, capers, chives, chopped eggs and the mayonnaise mixture; toss to coat well. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  • To Make Hard-Cooked Eggs: Place eggs in a single layer in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook at the barest simmer for 10 minutes. Pour off hot water and run cold water over the eggs until completely cooled. To peel, crack the shell, then roll egg between your palms to loosen shell. Peel, starting at the large end. Rinse under cold water or dip in water to remove bits of shell.

Nutrition

Per serving: 119 calories; 5 g fat ( 1 g sat , 2 g mono ); 40 mg cholesterol; 14 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 4 g protein; 1 g fiber; 321 mg sodium; 97 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: 42 mg Vitamin C (70% dv), 20% dv Vitamin A.
Carbohydrate Servings: 1
Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fat


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Sunday, 26 August 2012



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Friday, 24 August 2012

Tex-Mex Summer Squash Casserole


Chiles and cheese turn mild summer squash into a zesty, satisfying casserole. The jalapenos make this dish quite hot; if you prefer a milder version, use a second can of diced green chilies instead.

12 servings
Active Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 pounds summer squash, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (about 10 cups)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 1 4-1/2-ounce can chopped jalapenos, (about 1/2 cup), drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 1/4 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, (about 7 ounces), divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup mild salsa
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, for garnish

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Combine squash, onion, chiles, jalapenos, salt and 3/4 cup cheese in a large bowl. Sprinkle with flour; toss to coat. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish and cover with foil.
  3. Bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the squash is tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Spoon salsa over the casserole and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Bake, uncovered, until golden and heated through, 20 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with scallions and red onion.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat, covered, at 350°F for about 40 minutes. Garnish just before serving.

Nutrition

Per serving: 101 calories; 5 g fat ( 3 g sat , 0 g mono ); 15 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 3 g fiber; 217 mg sodium; 265 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (30% daily value).
Carbohydrate Servings: 1/2


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Monday, 13 August 2012

Grilled Eggplant & Portobello Sandwich


Looking for a vegetarian option for your next cookout? This grilled eggplant and portobello sandwich is our answer. For extra flavor, we top it with slices of garden-fresh tomato and spicy arugula. Serve with a mixed green salad.

4 servings
Active Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients

  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 large or 3 medium portobello mushroom caps, gills removed (see Tip)
  • Canola or olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 8 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread, lightly grilled or toasted
  • 2 cups arugula, or spinach, stemmed and chopped if large
  • 1 large tomato, sliced

Preparation

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Mash garlic into a paste on a cutting board with the back of a spoon. Combine with mayonnaise and lemon juice in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Coat both sides of eggplant rounds and mushroom caps with cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables, turning once, until tender and browned on both sides: 2 to 3 minutes per side for eggplant, 3 to 4 minutes for mushrooms. When cool enough to handle, slice the mushrooms.
  4. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons of the garlic mayonnaise on each piece of bread. Layer the eggplant, mushrooms, arugula (or spinach) and tomato slices onto 4 slices of bread and top with the remaining bread.

Tips & Notes

  • Tip: The dark gills found on the underside of a portobello mushroom cap are edible, but can turn a dish an unappealing gray/black color. Gently scrape the gills off with a spoon.

Nutrition

Per serving: 250 calories; 7 g fat ( 1 g sat , 3 g mono ); 4 mg cholesterol; 39 g carbohydrates; 10 g protein; 9 g fiber; 688 mg sodium; 789 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Potassium (22% daily value), Folate (20% dv), Magnesium & Vitamin C (18% dv).


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Seven-Layer Salad


This makeover of a Midwestern classic tops layers of lettuce, peas, bell pepper & tomatoes with a creamy, tangy dressing. The salad stays fresh underneath until it's served and gets even better when held overnight.

This makeover of a Midwestern classic tops layers of lettuce, peas, bell pepper and tomatoes with a creamy, tangy dressing. The salad stays fresh underneath until it's served and gets even better when held overnight.

10 servings, about 1 cup each
Active Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients

  • 8 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes , or quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar 
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 3 strips cooked bacon, crumbled

Preparation

  1. Place lettuce in a large bowl. Layer peas, bell pepper, tomatoes, celery and scallions on top.
  2. Whisk yogurt, mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar to taste, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Spread the dressing evenly over the top of the salad (an offset spatula is handy for this, if you have one). Sprinkle with cheese, basil and bacon. Serve room temperature or chilled.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Sprinkle with basil just before serving.

Nutrition

Per serving: 84 calories; 4 g fat ( 1 g sat , 0 g mono ); 7 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrates; 2 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 2 g fiber; 355 mg sodium; 234 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (70% daily value), Vitamin A (60% dv).


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Sunday, 12 August 2012

Oven-Baked Zucchini Sticks


Our oven-baked zucchini sticks taste every bit as good as their deep-fried brethren with only a fraction of the fat and calories. Serve with a side of your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.

4 servings
Active Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients

  • Canola or olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, (about 3 medium), cut into 1/2-by-3-inch sticks
  • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Combine flours, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a large sealable plastic bag. Dip zucchini in egg white, shake in the bag to coat, and arrange, not touching, on the baking sheet. Coat all exposed sides with cooking spray.
  3. Bake on the center rack for 10 minutes. Turn the zucchini and coat any floury spots with cooking spray. Continue to bake until golden and just tender, about 8 to 10 minutes more. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Per serving: 127 calories; 2 g fat ( 0 g sat , 0 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 4 g fiber; 427 mg sodium; 524 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Potassium (15% daily value).


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Friday, 10 August 2012

Grilled Corn Salad with Black Beans & Rice


Southwestern flavors star in this perfect salad.

4 main-dish or 6 side-dish servings
Active Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup short-grain brown rice
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
  • 3 large ears corn, husked
  • 2 medium red onions, cut into 3/8-inch-thick slices
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and quartered lengthwise
  • 1 small ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup hot tomato salsa, preferably chipotle
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Baked tortilla chips, (optional)

Preparation

  1. Cook rice in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al dente, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and rinse. Place in a large bowl, toss with beans and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat grill.
  3. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill corn, onions and bell pepper, turning frequently, until tender and charred, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Cut kernels from cobs (see Tip) and add to reserved rice and beans. Dice the bell pepper and half the onions; add to the rice mixture. Place the remaining onions in a mixing bowl. Peel and dice avocado; add half to rice mixture and half to the bowl with sliced onions.
  5. Whisk salsa, orange juice, lime juice, cilantro, oil and cumin in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss 3 tablespoons of the salsa mixture with sliced onions and avocado. Toss the rest with rice mixture.
  6. Spoon rice mixture onto a serving dish and top with onion-avocado mixture. Serve with chips, if desired.

Tips & Notes

  • To oil the grill rack: Oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.) When grilling delicate foods like tofu and fish, it is helpful to spray the food with cooking spray.
  • To remove corn kernels from the cob: Stand an uncooked ear of corn on its stem end in a shallow bowl and slice the kernels off with a sharp, thin-bladed knife. This technique produces whole kernels that are good for adding to salads and salsas. If you want to use the corn kernels for soups, fritters or puddings, you can add another step to the process. After cutting the kernels off, reverse the knife and, using the dull side, press it down the length of the ear to push out the rest of the corn and its milk.

Nutrition

Per serving: 421 calories; 11 g fat ( 1 g sat , 5 g mono ); 0 mg cholesterol; 72 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 13 g protein; 12 g fiber; 275 mg sodium; 779 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (103% daily value), Potassium (22% dv), Folate (16% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 4



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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Zucchini Rice Casserole


This cheesy baked rice casserole is packed with succulent vegetables. Plus we substitute brown rice for white, reduce the cheese by half and swap turkey sausage for pork sausage.

12 servings, about 1 cup each
Active Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups diced zucchini , and/or summer squash (about 1 pound)
  • 2 red or green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded pepper, Jack Cheese, divided
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) corn kernels
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese , (Neufchâtel)
  • 1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeños

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Pour rice into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring broth to a simmer in a small saucepan. Stir hot broth into the rice along with zucchini (and/or squash), bell peppers, onion and salt. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until the rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, 35 to 45 minutes more.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk milk and flour in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until bubbling and thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add 1 1/2 cups Jack cheese and corn and cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted. Set aside.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Cook, stirring and breaking the sausage into small pieces with a spoon, until lightly browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
  5. When the rice is done, stir in the sausage and cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Jack cheese on top and dollop cream cheese by the teaspoonful over the casserole. Top with jalapeños.
  6. Return the casserole to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 5; cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. To finish, bake at 375°F until the casserole is hot and the cheese is melted, about 45 minutes.
  • Tip: To remove corn from the cob: Stand an uncooked ear of corn on its stem end in a shallow bowl and slice the kernels off with a sharp, thin-bladed knife. This technique produces whole kernels that are good for adding to salads and salsas. If you want to use the corn kernels for soups, fritters or puddings, you can add another step to the process. After cutting the kernels off, reverse the knife and, using the dull side, press it down the length of the ear to push out the rest of the corn and its milk.

Nutrition

Per serving: 248 calories; 9 g fat ( 5 g sat , 1 g mono ); 34 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 13 g protein; 2 g fiber; 491 mg sodium; 273 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (56% daily value), Vitamin A (20% dv), Calcium (16% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 2


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Friday, 3 August 2012

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes



A sprinkle of Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil transform tomatoes into the perfect side dish. Or try sandwiching them between slices of your favorite whole-wheat country bread.

4 servings
Active Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes, halved horizontally
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Place tomatoes cut-side up on a baking sheet. Top with Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and bake until the tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Nutrition

Per serving: 91 calories; 6 g fat ( 2 g sat , 4 g mono ); 4 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrates; 3 g protein; 2 g fiber; 375 mg sodium; 363 mg potassium.
 
Carbohydrate Servings: 1/2


Nutrition Note: What you get: Vitamins A & C, potassium, calcium.
 

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Saturday, 21 July 2012

Don't be a part of these statistics!

Don't be a part of these statistics!


Stop with the excuses already...




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Thursday, 19 July 2012







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First double amputee to compete in the Olympics.

Take inspiration from this guy. You think it's hard for you? This athlete runs without his feet! The next time you feel you can't do it, think of Oscar Pistorius.

After striving to qualify for the 400 metres at the London Olympics for six years, Oscar Pistorius believes he will now be better placed to run at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.

The South African, who wears carbon fibre blades, will become the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics.



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Friday, 6 July 2012

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex

The health benefits of sex extend well beyond the bedroom. It turns out sex is good for you in ways you may never have imagined.

 


When you're in the mood, it's a sure bet that the last thing on your mind is boosting your immune system or maintaining a healthy weight. Yet good sex offers those health benefits and more.

That's a surprise to many people, says Joy Davidson, PhD, a psychologist and sex therapist. "Of course, sex is everywhere in the media," she says. "But the idea that we are vital, sexual creatures is still looked at in some cases with disgust or in other cases a bit of embarrassment. So to really take a look at how our sexuality adds to our life and enhances our life and our health, both physical and psychological, is eye-opening for many people."

Sex does the body good in a number of ways, according to Davidson and other experts. The benefits aren't just anecdotal or hearsay - each of these 10 health benefits of sex is backed by scientific scrutiny.

Among the benefits of healthy loving in a relationship:

1. Sex relieves stress

A big health benefit of sex is lower blood pressure and overall stress reduction, according to researchers from Scotland who reported their findings in the journal Biological Psychology. They studied 24 women and 22 men who kept records of their sexual activity. Then the researchers subjected them to stressful situations - such as speaking in public and doing verbal arithmetic - and noted their blood pressure response to stress.

Those who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviours or abstained.

Another study published in the same journal found that frequent intercourse was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure in co-habiting participants. Yet other research found a link between partner hugs and lower blood pressure in women.

2. Sex boosts immunity

Good sexual health may mean better physical health. Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A, or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections. Scientists took samples of saliva, which contain IgA, from 112 university students, who reported the frequency of sex they had.

Those in the "frequent" group - once or twice a week - had higher levels of IgA than those in the other three groups - who reported being abstinent, having sex less than once a week, or having it very often, three or more times weekly.

3. Sex burns calories

Participating in 30 minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. Doubling up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions.

"Sex is a great mode of exercise," says Patti Britton, PhD, a Los Angeles sexologist. It takes work, from both a physical and psychological perspective, to do it well, she says.

4. Sex improves cardiovascular health

While some older people may worry that the efforts expended during sex could cause a stroke, that's not so, according to British researchers. In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, scientists found frequency of sex was not associated with stroke in the 914 men they followed for 20 years.

The heart health benefits of sex don't end there. The researchers also found that having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by half for the men, compared with those who had sex less than once a month.

5. Sex boosts self-esteem

Boosting self-esteem was one of 237 reasons people have sex, according to researchers who published the list in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

That finding makes sense to Gina Ogden, PhD, a sex therapist and marriage and family therapist, although she finds that those who already have self-esteem say they sometimes have sex to feel even better. "One of the reasons people say they have sex is to feel good about themselves," she reports. "Great sex begins with self-esteem, and it raises it. If the sex is loving, connected and what you want, it raises it."

6. Sex improves intimacy

Having sex and orgasms increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, which helps us to bond and build trust. University researchers evaluated 59 premenopausal women before and after warm contact with their husbands and partners ending with hugs. They found that the more contact, the higher the oxytocin levels.

"Oxytocin allows us to feel the urge to nurture and to bond," Britton says.

Higher oxytocin has also been linked with a feeling of generosity. So if you're feeling suddenly more generous towards your partner than usual, credit the love hormone.

7. Sex reduces pain

As the hormone oxytocin surges, endorphins increase and pain declines. So if your headache, arthritis pain or PMS symptoms seem to improve after sex, you can thank those higher oxytocin levels.

In a study published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 48 volunteers who inhaled oxytocin vapour and then had their fingers pricked lowered their pain sensitivity by more than half.

8. Sex reduces prostate cancer risk

Frequent ejaculations, especially in 20-something men, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer later in life, Australian researchers reported in the British Journal of Urology International. When they followed men diagnosed with prostate cancer and those without, they found no association of prostate cancer with the number of sexual partners as the men reached their 30s, 40s and 50s.

However, they found men who had five or more ejaculations weekly while in their 20s reduced their risk of getting prostate cancer later by a third.

Another study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that frequent ejaculations, 21 or more a month, were linked to lower prostate cancer risk in older men as well, compared with less frequent ejaculations of four to seven monthly.

9. Sex strengthens pelvic floor muscles

For women, doing a few pelvic floor muscle exercises during sex offers a couple of benefits. You will enjoy more pleasure, and you'll also strengthen the area and help to minimise the risk of incontinence later in life.

To do a basic pelvic floor exercise, tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor, as if you're trying to stop the flow of urine. Count to three, then release.

10. Sex helps you sleep better

The oxytocin released during orgasm also promotes sleep, according to research.

Getting enough sleep has been linked with a host of other good things, such as maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure. This is something to think about, especially if you've been wondering why your partner can be active one minute and snoring the next.


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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Why Is It So Hard to Quit Smoking?


As any former smoker can attest, quitting isn’t easy. The American Cancer Society says about 70 percent of smokers want to quit, and about 40 percent make an attempt to stop smoking each year. However, quitting for good often requires multiple attempts.

Why is it so hard to quit smoking?

The short answer is nicotine. The long answer is more complex. First, nicotine is physically addictive and, second, nicotine addiction also causes psychological changes in smokers because they connect its pleasurable feelings to many different aspects of their lives. Cigarette smoking becomes interwoven with their lives, so that when they try to quit smoking, they not only have to beat back an addiction to smoking, they also have to deal with dozens of triggers that can prompt a desire to smoke.

Nicotine is a drug that naturally occurs in tobacco. When you puff on a cigarette, you inhale nicotine in the smoke and it then spreads through your body. Nicotine interferes with communication between nerve cells. The result is a relaxing, pleasant feeling that makes you want to smoke more.

As you continue to smoke, your body adapts and becomes tolerant to nicotine. You have to smoke more cigarettes in order to achieve the same pleasant feeling. Because your body metabolizes nicotine quickly, the level of nicotine in your blood drops within a couple of hours and you find yourself needing to smoke repeatedly throughout the day to refresh the drug’s effect. At some point, enough nicotine may accumulate in your system that you may need only a certain number of cigarettes each day to keep the level stable.

The Power of Nicotine

You can become physically dependent on nicotine after just a few weeks of regular smoking. When you try to quit smoking, your body goes into nicotine withdrawal. Your system reacts to the absence of nicotine with symptoms including:
  •     Irritability and impatience
  •     Hostility
  •     Anxiety
  •     Depression
  •     Headaches
  •     Fatigue
  •     Trouble sleeping
  •     Restlessness
  •     Difficulty concentrating
  •     Increase in appetite
  •     Decreased heart rate

Beating the Nicotine Addiction

If physical addiction were the only problem, it might be easier to quit smoking and more people would succeed. But smokers have to deal with the psychological addiction to smoking as well as the physical dependence of nicotine addiction. Even people who use cessation aids to take the edge off the symptoms of physical addiction have trouble feeling “normal” without cigarettes and smoking rituals. This feeling is exacerbated by psychological triggers that build up over time as people use the pleasant feelings prompted by nicotine and their smoking habit to either cope with unpleasant things or enhance their enjoyment of activities.

Activities that trigger the desire to smoke can include:
  •     Talking on the phone or even just hearing the phone ring
  •     Finishing a meal
  •     Drinking a cup of coffee or an alcoholic drink
  •     Driving
  •     Seeing someone else light up a cigarette
  •     Watching television or relaxing around the house

You also might find the desire to smoke triggered by negative emotional states that you previously coped with through nicotine use, including:
  •     Sadness or disappointment
  •     Anger, frustration, or resentment
  •     Anxiety or stress
  •     Depression
  •     Embarrassment
  •     Guilt
  •     Fright or fear
  •     Boredom or loneliness

Nicotine is addictive, but it can be beaten. You can take comfort in the fact that most people try many times before finally kicking the habit.

There are products you can use to aid you with your battle to quit smoking for good. You will still need will power to stop (regardless of how easy some say it can be) but there are many conventional and less conventional methods used to succeed. Here are some that have great claims and were found while researching this topic. Do your own research however and make sure you choose the kind of help that will work for you. Good luck!!

Quit Joking & Stop Smoking: I've Quit.

The Painless Stop Smoking Cure

Quit Smoking - Stop Smoking With Eft


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