Freezer-Friendly Foods for Painful Arthritis

Dinner is Ready in Minutes!

 

I can remember my working days and since I have trouble judging distance, I don’t drive, so getting to work always involved a few blocks to the bus stop, walking across two parking lots, and then I had arrived and could begin my day. My arthritis was mostly in my back at that time, and I remember having to take a pain pill before I had even worked a half hour. I walked the parking lot on breaks and lunch just to get through the day.

When it was time to go home, I repeated my morning walk and arrived home in about an hour. What was I cooking for dinner?  I was mostly eating trail mix or fast food, and cooking something healthy seemed too much trouble when I could just swing by the food court and pick up a sub or burger.

Menopause is a common time to have pain flare-ups, but you’ll feel better if you take time to prepare healthy food. That is where your freezer comes in. Here are five tips for arthritis freezer-friendly foods:

Freezer-Friendly Foods

If you’re trying to eat healthy, you’re probably eating more whole grains. For a fun twist, you can make oatmeal and freeze it in muffin tins, or try some new grains such as quinoa or bulgur.

Butter, cheese, and nuts also freeze well, and don’t forget broth and stock to make soup or gravies.

Foods That Don’t Freeze Well

Foods you shouldn’t freeze include eggs, or salad fixings such as lettuce, tomato, and celery. Make a fresh salad the day you plan to serve it, and eggs scrambled, fried, or poached taste better when they are hot from the skillet.

Buy in Bulk

Watch for grocery sales, and stock up on ground beef or turkey. Brown the meat and you can add it to chili, spaghetti, or sloppy joes. Chicken freezes well also and can be added to casseroles, chicken salad, or chicken tortilla soup.

Make Extra Batches

When you’re doing your meal prep, make extra batches of pasta sauce, stews, and soups. You’ll thank yourself later when you come home starving but not wanting to stand over a hot stove to prepare dinner.

Pre-Portion Servings

I know it takes extra time, but make single portions of whatever you’re freezing and then you have the perfect size when you’re ready to eat. It also helps keep you on track with portion control.

 

 

5 Tips to Minimize Bone Loss in Menopause

It's Never Too Early to Start!

You lose more bone mass in menopause because your body is producing less estrogen. This increases your risk of bone fractures due to osteoporosis.

You don’t have to suffer in silence. Making wise choices, changing some bad habits, and consulting with your doctor can minimize bone loss, and improve your quality of life.

Here are five tips to minimize bone loss in menopause:

Enjoy the Sunshine

The conventional wisdom is that you shouldn’t go out in the sun without sunscreen. However, enjoying the sun for 15-20 minutes a few times a week, allows you to soak up Vitamin D3. This feel-good vitamin not only helps you build bone mass, it also brightens your mood.

Quit Smoking

Smoking may relax you, but it reduces the amount of calcium in your bones, and interferes with Vitamin D production. There are many over the counter products to help you quit smoking, or you can  join a smoking cessation group.

Weight Bearing Exercise

Walking, jogging, or strength training helps keep bones strong. If you have arthritis or osteoporosis, ask your doctor which exercises would be appropriate for you. If you’re a member of a gym, many personal trainers will give you at least a complimentary session, so take advantage of that.

Foods High in Calcium

Fish with bones such as salmon, sardines, or whitebait, are rich in calcium, and can be served as a main dish, added to a casserole, or used as a tasty protein over salad greens. Other good sources of calcium include almonds, broccoli, collard greens, dried figs, soy milk, and fortified tofu.

Calcium Supplements

It may not be possible to get all the calcium you need from your diet. Unless you take hormone therapy, you need between 1000-1500 mg a day. Take two to three times a day, because the body only absorbs about 500mg at a time.

 

Why Your Smoothie May Not Be Healthy

Try One of These Healthy Substitutes!

Smoothies are popular with the diet crowd, and by combining and blending different fruits with a vegetable, you may feel like you’re meeting your nutritional requirements.

On those busy mornings when you don’t have time to prepare a full-course breakfast, drinking a smoothie will keep you from starving to death before lunch. However, like everything else in life, there is always a down side.

You May Still Feel Hungry

Liquids may not satisfy your appetite like solid food, and so you may eat more later in the day, which can send the scale into overdrive.

It Affects Your Blood Sugar

According to Dr. Thomas M. Campbell, medical director of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, “When you blend fruit with a veggie, you’re absorbing much more of the fruit and that can cause a rapid rise and fall of your blood sugar. Your energy can plummet, which makes for a very tiring day.

There Are Healthier Substitutes

Fruits and vegetables in their natural form provide needed nutrients, and they’re easy to prepare ahead of time. Cut melons into cubes, have a bowl of grapes on hand, or make a fruit salad with apples, pineapple, blueberries, and strawberries, which is my personal favorite.

Put some cooked greens in a Ziploc and mix into omelets or scrambled eggs. You’ll have to get up earlier, but the protein will give you energy to motor through your day. Layer cucumbers on sandwiches and top with a juicy tomato.

This doesn’t mean that you can never have another smoothie, but don’t make it an everyday thing. As a time saver, you can mix your smoothie the night before so it’s ready for you when you need it.

What has been your experience with Smoothies?

4 Foods That Get a Bad Nutritional Rap

They're So Good You Won't Even Feel Like You're Dieting!

It seems like we are always on a diet. Too much holiday cheer, pigging out at the buffet, or just not keeping close track of calories can add pounds in a hurry.

You know the healthy foods you should eat, such as yogurt, whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and veggies. However, many times the foods you think might be bad for your diet, are actually nutritious and can help you keep your diet on track.

Here are four foods that get a bad nutritional rap:

Peanut Butter

I would like to raise a toast to the man that invented peanut butter. Yes, it may be high in fat, but the majority of fat is made up of healthy monounsaturated fat, and polyunsaturated oils. The high protein count will give you extra energy, and it is rich in Vitamin E, niacin, folic acid, and antioxidants.

When you shop for peanut butter, buy a natural brand that just contains ground peanuts, and avoid brands that have trans fat, high fructose corn syrup or too much salt.

Bananas

Bananas are my favorite fruit, but have received a bad rap because they’re high in calories and carbohydrates. On the plus side, bananas are packed with potassium, vitamin A, folic acid, and fiber. Remember, a half a banana is one serving. I just have to point out with a little peanut butter spread on they are over-the-top delicious.

Potatoes

Who doesn’t love a fully loaded baked potato? It makes my mouth water just thinking about that crispy bacon, sour cream, butter and cheese.

Unfortunately, if you are interested in losing weight, you’ll have to skip the loaded version, but you won’t have to skimp on flavor. Replace sour cream with low-fat Greek Yogurt, which only has ten calories per tablespoon. Season your baked potato with thyme, fresh chives, and rosemary.

Egg Yolks

Every time I go out to breakfast, it seems I always see an egg white omelet as one of the daily specials. Many people don’t eat egg yolks because they are afraid their cholesterol will go up.  You miss out on so many vital nutrients such as choline, which promotes neurological function, and lutein and zeaxanthin for healthy vision.

Limit yourself to four egg yolks a week and if you have any questions, consult your doctor or dietitian.

5 Drug-Free Tips to Control Hypertension

You Will Be Happier and Healthier!

 

Americans have a love affair with salty snacks. Nibbling on foods such as chips, crackers, deli meats and fries, has caused an epidemic of high blood pressure problems. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1500 mg. of salt is the ideal daily limit, but some people are consuming as much as 3400 mg.

Eating too much salt in menopause can cause hot flashes, palpitations, and may lead to dehydration. Here are five drug-free tips to control hypertension in menopause:

Limit Eating Out

Restaurants are notorious for adding too much salt, and since portions are larger, you can easily go over your daily limit. Cooking at home lets you keep an eye on portion size and either eliminate or reduce added salt.

Home Monitoring

Blood pressure monitors are inexpensive, and let you keep tabs on your blood pressure. You can adjust lifestyle changes if the numbers are too high, or call your doctor to deal with complications. Best of all, you can buy a blood pressure monitor without a prescription.

Keep a Food Diary

Write down everything that you eat in a week’s time. List each food, portion size, time of day, and why. Were you hungry or just stewing over a problem and used food to make you feel better?

Buy Low-Sodium Foods

Stores feature a wide variety of no or low-sodium foods. If you like cereal for breakfast, try shredded wheat, oatmeal, or muesli. Snack on unsalted popcorn, rice cakes, unsalted nuts, or plain breadsticks.

Use Juices and Spices for Flavor

For flavorful veggies and salads, use lemon juice or freshly-squeezed lime juice. I like sweet potatoes, which can be drizzled with lemon juice and black pepper before roasting. Make your own seasoning for meats by combining 1 tsp. of paprika, 1 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 tsp onion powder.

Is Keeping Up With Exercise Driving You Crazy?

5 Benefits of Wearing a Fitbit Flex

 

Staying fit is a priority at any age, but especially in the menopause years it’s easy to slack off on exercise and the next thing you know you’re piling on the pounds.

That’s why I am saving up my money to buy a Fitbit Flex. If you’re not familiar with the Fitbit Flex, it is a solid basic bracelet that you wear on your wrist. You program in your fitness goals, and the Fitbit keeps track of your progress.

It’s designed to be worn 24 hours a day, and even has a vibrating alarm that will tell you when it is time to get up and start your day.

Here are five benefits of wearing a Fitbit Flex:

It’s Waterproof:

When you drive to the gym to swim laps, you don’t have to worry about taking off the Fitbit Flex and possibly losing it. I like the fact that you can shower with it on and it just keeps on working.

Counts Daily Steps

You are probably on the go a good part of the day, and the Fitbit app keeps track of how many steps you’re taking on a daily basis. If you have set a goal of 10,000 steps a day, when you reach your goal, Fitbit awards you a fancy badge. It’s kind of like an extra pat on the back.

Tracks Water Intake

Use the Fitbit Flex app to monitor how much water you’re drinking. You even get a reminder if you’re not drinking enough fluid. What is really cool is that it takes the total water intake and calculates the average ounces a week.

Monitors Food Intake

You may have used apps before to calculate your food intake, but the Fitbit Flex app has a chart that shows you how many calories you’ve taken in vs. how many calories you’ve burned off. Follow the meal shortcuts so you don’t have to stand over a hot stove all day.

Tracks Sleep Patterns

The Fitbit app tracks your sleep so you can see how well you slept, and the times you were awake and restless. You’re going to be more productive if you’re well rested, so you can identify the things that are keeping you awake, and take action to eliminate them.

 

 

 

Are the Numbers On Your Scale Creeping Up?

5 Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in Menopause

 

According to the Center for Disease Control, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. We’re also consuming too much sodium, which can cause high blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke.

Too much sodium can also cause a temporary increase on the scale, and it’s a real bummer when you do your morning weigh-in and you’re two or three pounds heavier.

You want to keep your sodium content down to less than 2300 grams a day, but not have to eat food that tastes like bland cardboard. Here are five strategies to reduce sodium intake in menopause:

Cook Fresh Food

It’s a temptation when you’ve had a hard day, to just swing by the local fast food drive-thru or go out to eat, but you can easily exceed your daily sodium intake in one meal. For example, an Angus Bacon and Cheese Burger from McDonald’s contains 2,070 grams of sodium. That is before you tack on those yummy fries to go with it.

Sear, sauté, or roast your meat, and fill up half of your plate with fruits and vegetables.

Change Pizza Toppings

A nice pepperoni and sausage pizza is always a favorite, but will send your sodium intake sky high. Eat healthier toppings such as Canadian bacon, turkey pepperoni, or white meat chicken.

Rinse Off Canned Foods

It’s more convenient for me to buy canned beans because I don’t like standing for hours over a hot stove. Canned vegetables are fine to substitute when you don’t have time or money to cook fresh. Just rinse these canned goods with water and you’ll wash off some of the excess sodium.

Eat Smaller Portions

This is where you really need to pay attention to food labels. Determine how much salt is in one serving and eat a half portion or share with someone else.

Buy Low-Sodium Products

There’s no shortage of low-sodium soups, crackers, bread, salad dressings or condiments. Check the nutrition labels on products such as milk, cheese, or yogurt. It’s better to buy fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

How do you control your sodium intake?

Pickle Juice For Hangover and Better Digestion?

4 Unique Juices You Should be Drinking!

I remember growing up we had orange juice every day for breakfast. It was easy to serve, just pop open the frozen can, mix in some water and you were good to go.  Now that I am trying to make better food choices, I learned that an 8 oz. glass of orange juice can have as much as 21 grams of sugar.

This is true of most fruit juices, but there are exceptions. Here are four unique juices you should be drinking:

Pickle Juice

Once you eat the last pickle, it’s time to heave the jar in the trash. Not so fast. If you’ve had a night of excess drinking, pickle juice can help replenish your sodium levels caused by dehydration.  The vinegar content in pickle juice helps balance flora and bacteria which aids in digestion.

Watermelon Juice

This favorite summertime fruit is not only delicious, but since it is mostly water, you don’t have to worry about excess sugar. It is high in lycopene, which helps reduce your chances of getting skin cancer.  I like the fact that citrulline, which is an amino acid found in watermelon, can reduce soreness after a good workout.

Tart Cherry Juice

I don’t know about you, but there are many nights I can’t get to sleep. According to a pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, tart cherry juice can help you get a better night’s rest. This is due to a high content of naturally occurring melatonin.

There is good news for arthritis sufferers.  In a 2012 study by the Journal of Food Studies, participants drank tart cherry juice twice daily for 21 days, and felt less arthritic pain.

Pomegranate Juice

Short-term studies have shown that pomegranate juice may benefit those with heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.  This is promising research, but more studies are needed according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Pickle Juice Helps Hangover and Digestion?

4 Unique Juices You Should Be Drinking!

I remember growing up we had orange juice every day for breakfast. It was easy to serve, just pop open the frozen can, mix in some water and you were good to go.  Now that I am trying to make better food choices, I learned that an 8 oz. glass of orange juice can have as much as 21 grams of sugar.

This is true of most fruit juices, but there are exceptions. Here are four unique juices you should be drinking:

Pickle Juice

Once you eat the last pickle, it’s time to heave the jar in the trash. Not so fast. If you’ve had a night of excess drinking, pickle juice can help replenish your sodium levels caused by dehydration.  The vinegar content in pickle juice helps balance flora and bacteria which aids in digestion.

Watermelon Juice

This favorite summertime fruit is not only delicious, but since it is mostly water, you don’t have to worry about excess sugar. It is high in lycopene, which helps reduce your chances of getting skin cancer.  I like the fact that citrulline, which is an amino acid found in watermelon, can reduce soreness after a good workout.

Tart Cherry Juice

I don’t know about you, but there are many nights I can’t get to sleep. According to a pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, tart cherry juice can help you get a better night’s rest. This is due to a high content of naturally occurring melatonin.

There is good news for arthritis sufferers.  In a 2012 study by the Journal of Food Studies, participants drank tart cherry juice twice daily for 21 days, and felt less arthritic pain.

Pomegranate Juice

Short-term studies have shown that pomegranate juice may benefit those with heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.  This is promising research, but more studies are needed according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Don’t Turn Your Vacation into a Diet Disaster

5 Ways to Vacation in Style Without Breaking the Calorie Bank!

 

Who doesn’t love to go on vacation? New sights to see, people to have fun with, and just a complete rest from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Get some neat souvenirs to take back, but you don’t want to bring back extra pounds that may be hard to take off.

Here are five ways to vacation in style without breaking the calorie bank:

Pack Healthy Snacks

You’ll probably be eating a lot of meals out, so having healthy snacks on hand will help keep calories in check. Fill small Ziploc bags with fresh fruit, trail mix, or protein bars.  Once it’s time for dinner, you won’t be so hungry that you inhale the bread basket or order a three-course meal.

Bring Workout Equipment

Many hotels have a gym or swimming pool, so take advantage of that if possible. If not, bring an exercise DVD or a jump rope and exercise in your room. If it is a hip-hop DVD, you can close the blinds and really get crazy.

Stick to Light Drinks

Part of the fun of being on vacation is sitting and sipping one of those fancy umbrella drinks with the rest of your friends. Unfortunately, those cute drinks can add up to 500 calories, so stick with lighter options such as a Bloody Mary, white wine spritzer, or champagne.

Balance Sweets and Treats

I’m not into self-denial, and if I am at a special lunch or dinner, I don’t want to eat an apple while everyone else is having apple pie. However, I try to balance things out by doing more exercise, or eating a smaller helping.

Exercise as a Family

Kids are notorious for being bored on vacation, so a family activity such as bicycle riding should be fun for everyone. There are lots of nice bicycle trails, or if you don’t mind spending some extra money, rent Segway-powered scooters.

Throwing a football around outside allows kids to work off that nervous energy, and it doesn’t cost anything. Throw a few passes over their heads so they have to run and retrieve the ball.