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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Resolve: Get fit during holidays for your health’s sake

People who step up their exercise may actually lose weight during the holidays.
The holidays have given us Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but no provision for something like Workout Weekdays. Maybe they should. Being physically active this time of year can help people maintain their weight or even lose a pound or two, one study showed. Plus, it can relieve stress and improve health.
Consider the benefits: Regular physical activity has been shown to lower the risk of early death, help control weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some types of cancer and a host of other conditions. It lowers the risk of cognitive decline and hip fractures.
And recent research suggests that exercise may be as effective as medication in preventing early death in people who’ve had heart attacks or strokes.
By Jan. 1, many people will resolve to get in better shape, but it’s not too soon to start right now. USA TODAY asked Boston-area sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, author of the best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, now in a new fifth edition, to talk about the benefits of exercise.
Q: What are the advantages of exercising during the holidays?
A: Exercise does take some time from your busy day, but the benefits include using that time to think about what gifts to give to whom, to plan your to-do list, to connect with friends for holiday walks and runs, to reflect on hopes and fears and to give yourself the gift of health. I multitask when I exercise by planning my day as I bike to work or walk or run with my dog. Exercise disconnects me from e-mails, phones and screens and allows much needed “thinking time.”
Q: […]

Pear and Cherry Crumble

Description
Ingredients
Ingredients for the fruit
Cooking spray
Juice of one lemon
5-6 fresh pears, the riper the better
1 cup dried cherries
Zest of one lemon
1/2 cup pear juice (may substitute apple juice)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour

Ingredients for the topping
1 cup vanilla granola
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup trans fat free margarine spread
Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly spray a 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.  Fill a large bowl halfway with cold water and the juice of one lemon. Cut the stems off the pears and peel them, placing each one in the acidulated water as you do so. Then, half, core and seed the pears and cut them into inch-thick lengthwise slices or chunks, returning each sliced pear to the lemon water until the job is completed. Drain the cut pears in a colander and return them to the mixing bowl. Add the cherries, lemon zest, pear or apple juice, honey, flavorings, spices, and one tablespoon of flour to the fruit and stir to mix everything well. Let the fruit macerate for 15 minutes; then place it in the prepared baking dish.
Make the topping. Place the granola, flour, brown sugar, almonds, and spices in a large mixing bowl and toss them together lightly. Add the margarine spread and use your hands to work the spread into the dry ingredients until blended but crumbly. Spread the topping over the pears. Place the dish on the foil-lined baking sheet and bake the crumble for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the juices are bubbling and translucent. Serve warm.
Note: This is a good way […]

Healthiest State Rankings: Sadly Louisiana Ranks 48!!

Healthiest State Rankings: Hawaii Tops 2013 List
Where you live could say a lot about your health habits — and a new ranking reveals which states have it the best and worst.
On a whole, Americans are adopting healthier behaviors, such as stopping smoking and increasing physical activity, according to the report, published by the United Health Foundation, American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention.
The report also shows that the percentage of smokers has dropped to 19.6 percent in the U.S. from 21.2 percent in the last year. And physical inactivity has dropped on a whole to 22.9 percent in the last year, down from 26.2 percent.
The findings are based on multiple sources of data, including the FBI, the American Medical Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Education and the Census Bureau. Rankings are based on a number of criteria, including premature death, infant mortality, preventable hospitalizations, high school graduation rate, violent crime, health insurance, child poverty, obesity, diabetes, physical activity and immunizations.
Among other general findings:
– While 27.6 percent of adults are obese in the U.S., the percentage has not increased from the last year (it was 27.8 percent in 2012). The report also showed that 9.7 percent of adults have diabetes. – The infant mortality rate has decreased 39 percent since 1990. – Fewer people are dying from heart-related disease; cardiovascular deaths decreased 36 percent since 1990. – Fewer people are also dying from cancer: Deaths from the disease decreased 3 percent since 1990.
Take a look at the list below to see the top 10 states and the bottom 10 states in the 2013 ranking:
Top 10: 1. Hawaii – Fewer people in Hawaii are lighting up, with […]

Five-Spice Turkey & Lettuce Wraps

Description
Based on a popular Chinese dish, these fun wraps also make appealing appetizers for entertaining. Make it a meal: Serve with chile-garlic sauce and rice vinegar for extra zip; toss diced mango and strawberries with lime juice for a quick dessert.
Ingredients
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup instant brown rice
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 large red bell pepper, finely diced
1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed and chopped
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce (see Cooking Tips)
1 teaspoon five-spice powder (see Cooking Tips)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 heads Boston lettuce, leaves separated
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs, such as cilantro, basil, mint and/or chives
1 large carrot, shredded
Cooking Instructions
Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add rice; reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add turkey and ginger; cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until the turkey is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice, bell pepper, water chestnuts, broth, hoisin sauce, five-spice powder and salt; cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

To serve, spoon portions of the turkey mixture into lettuce leaves, top with herbs and carrot and roll into wraps.
Cook’s Tip

Hoisin sauce is a spicy, sweet sauce made from soybeans, chiles, garlic and spices. It will keep in the refrigerator for at least a year.
Often a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns, five-spice powder was originally considered a cure-all miracle blend encompassing the five elements (sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, salty). Look for it in the supermarket spice section.
To Make Ahead: Prepare the filling (through Step 2), cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Serve cold […]

Small businesses can save with health care tax credit

Small businesses can claim a larger tax benefit for providing health care to employees, beginning with the 2014 tax year.
Included in the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the tax credit is aimed at helping small employers pay for employee health insurance and to encourage more of them to offer it.
For tax years 2010 to 2013, the maximum credit was 35% of premiums for small businesses and 25% of premiums for tax-exempt organizations. Starting with the 2014 tax year, the maximum credit is 50% of premiums for small businesses and 35% for tax-exempt organizations.
For businesses that do not owe taxes, the credit can be carried backward or forward to other tax years. Tax-exempt organizations may be able to claim the credit as a refund. There is also a provision that allows businesses to claim a deduction on the remainder of the premium that isn’t covered by the credit.
More businesses are likely to take advantage of the credit as the ACA’s health care exchanges continue to go online and awareness spreads, says John Arensmeyer, CEO of the Small Business Majority, a small-business advocacy group. Though there is a time commitment involved in applying for the credit, businesses that have taken advantage of the credit like it — some even claimed up to $15,000, Arensmeyer added.
There is no downside to applying for the credit, Arensmeyer says. If a business qualifies, they receive a credit. If they don’t qualify, there is no risk involved. The biggest problem, he says, is the fact that many business owners don’t know they can claim it.
An estimate by the Council of Economic Advisers says 4 million small businesses would be eligible for the credit if they provided health care for their employees. But […]

Eyes might be window into common heart disorder

Damage to the blood vessels of the eyes or kidneys might help identify people who are at raised risk for a common type of heart-rhythm disorder, a new study suggests.
The disorder, called atrial fibrillation, is common in older people and increases the risk of stroke. It also can trigger heart-related chest pain or heart failure in some patients, the researchers said.
In the new study, which is scheduled for presentation Monday at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Dallas, researchers followed more than 10,000 middle-aged people for an average of almost 14 years.
Researchers led by Sunil Agarwal, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, found that microvascular changes — trouble in the smaller vessels of the eyes or kidneys — appeared to be linked to the presence of atrial fibrillation.
For example, while about six out of every 1,000 people with no microvascular disease developed the heart-rhythm disorder, that figure rose to about nine out of every 1,000 for people with micro-bleeds or micro-aneurysms in the smaller vessels of the eye’s retina, the researchers said.
That number rose to almost 17 per 1,000 people for those with signs of vessel damage in the kidneys. It increased to more than 24 per 1,000 in people who had vessel damage in both the eyes and kidneys, the study found.
Why this vessel damage appears to be tied to a higher risk for atrial fibrillation remains unclear, the researchers said.
One expert not connected to the study theorized that small-vessel damage might be an underlying cause of atrial fibrillation.
“This suggests that a potential trigger for developing atrial fibrillation may be worsening microvascular disease,” said Dr. Neil Sanghvi, an electrophysiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Therefore, treatments […]