Let’s GO BANANAS!!

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Who out there remembers Harry Belafonte’s song Day-o?  You know…Come, mister tally man, tally me banana, daylight come and me wan’ go home!  Or the ever popular song written in 1923, ….Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today!!  Then there is always the poor guy in the movies that slips on a banana peel and gets a big laugh.  In the 60’s “going bananas” became a popular pop phrase for going crazy.

So? Why is the banana such a popular fruit?  Mostly because it is one of the most affordable (cheapest) fruits you can buy.  Not only that, the banana is one of the healthiest foods you can eat.  Plus, the banana is so versatile.  The once sought after delicacy that originated in India, has become an everyday experience from banana splits to smoothies and everything in between.

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Bananas are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, niacin, riboflavin and B6.

Bananas are also loaded with soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.  The soluble fiber helps to slow down digestion and keep you feeling full for a longer period of time.  Also, bananas feed your healthy gut bacteria which may safeguard against colon cancer!  So if you are trying to stay healthy or lose weight, grab a banana.  At 100 calories each, what are you waiting for?

The potassium in a banana makes this a super fruit.  Potassium is good for your body in helping to regulate your heartbeat, blood pressure and keeps your brain alert.  Potassium is also beneficial for healthy kidneys.  Studies have shown that people eating bananas 4-6 times a week are almost 50% less likely to develop kidney disease.

If you are suffering from anemia and have symptoms of fatigue, shortness of breath and paleness, bananas can also help.  They are high in iron.

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Eating a banana may help reduce exercise related muscle cramps and soreness.  Before you head out for that next marathon, you might want to grab a banana or two!!

Another good thing about bananas, they rarely contain any pesticides due to the thick peel.

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The next time you go shopping, make sure you grab a bunch of bananas.  You’ll be glad you did!!  If by chance you bought too many and they started getting too ripe.  Try making them into bread.  It’s easy to make and SO delicious!  Check out the recipe below.

Banana Bread

In a large bowl combine,  2 cups all-purpose flour,  1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.  In a separate bowl, cream 1/2 cup of butter, and 3/4 cup brown sugar.  Stir in 2 beaten eggs and 2 1/3 cups of mashed bananas.  Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture.  Stir to moisten.  Pour batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan.  Bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for 60-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack.

Here’s to good health and happy eating!

Laura

 

 

 

 

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Life is about moments

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Well, we made it through the first phase of the holiday season.  I don’t know about you, but, I’m still feeling the effects of the sugar cookies, pies, stuffing and turkey!  Yes, I know, I write about staying on a healthy diet, but, what can I say?  I’m a sucker for all the yummy things!

I do know that it’s hard to think about eating healthy this time of year.  With work, and running from one store to another, fighting crowds, not finding what you want, getting frustrated with parking and customer service, who wants to go home and cook?  It’s okay, you can head to the nearest fast food place for a burger or try out that new ice cream concoction!  YES, you do NEED a break, right?  Sure, it’s Christmas.  It’s okay to indulge a little.  Life is short after-all.  It’s not like one double burger with bacon, large order of fries, topped off with a large mint mocha shake is going to hurt just this once!  As long as it is “just this once”!

Too often when we fall off the healthy wagon, we forget to hop back on.  When you DO (notice I said DO and not IF), fall off the wagon, don’t roll down into that pit of despair and start thinking you’ve blown everything you’ve been working for all year.  Remember, tomorrow is another day.  Don’t feel guilty about what you ate yesterday.  Guilt will trigger you to eat that large pizza or extra box of chocolates.  Don’t let that happen!  You have worked to hard for where you are now.  Take a deep breath and continue on your path to healthy eating.  Believe me, you will be fine!

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I must say, for me, over-indulging did serve a purpose.  I can’t even look at a cookie right now!  Yesterday, I pulled my stationary bike out of the closet and pedaled for half an hour.  Maybe that isn’t much to some of you die-hards, but, for me, it was a huge work-out!  Today, the weather is warmer, I’m planning on taking my dogs for a walk.  The main thing is not to give up on yourself.  Now go look in the mirror and give that person a smile.  You got this!

Laura

 

 

Planning for success

The holidays are just around the corner, are you prepared?  Planning and remembering all the things you need to do with the regard to food safety is a key point in a successful holiday meal.

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No matter if you are planning an intimate dinner for two or planning a meal for 50, food safety is a must!  I am always extra cautious when it comes to fixing poultry, whether it’s a turkey, chicken, duck or goose.  Poultry is a great source for salmonella and I’m sure you don’t want to make your guests sick!

When planning your meal, make sure that you have enough refrigerator space to thaw out the turkey or whatever meat you are planning on serving.  Plus room for salads, pie, fresh veggies and drinks.  Another thing to plan on is oven space!  Will you have to cook the turkey the day before?  Can you make the rolls ahead of time?  Can the salads be made a couple of days in advance or that morning?

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When you are ready to thaw out the turkey, keep it in the original, unopened wrapper and place it on a tray that will prevent the turkey juices from dripping on other foods.  The best place to put the turkey would be the bottom shelf of the fridge.  You will need about 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds of frozen turkey.  If you have a 10 pound turkey it will take at least 2 days and 12 hours.  A 20 pound turkey it could take 5 days.  Make sure your fridge temp is around 38 to 40 degrees.

If you forgot to get the turkey out soon enough, place the turkey, still in its original wrapper, in a leak-proof package or plastic bag.  You can then submerge the bag in COLD water.  NEVER use warm or hot water as that can cause the outer layer of the meat to heat up to a temperature where bacteria can begin to grow.  Change the water every 30 minutes to make sure the water stays COLD.

This process will take time, approximately, 30 minutes for every pound.  This process isn’t highly recommended.  Once the turkey is defrosted this way make sure it is cooked immediately.  Do not refreeze the thawed out turkey.  It can only be placed in the freezer after it’s been cooked.

NEVER, EVER, defrost a turkey on the counter at room temperature or in HOT water.  The turkey will be sitting in the danger zone which is 41 degrees to 140 degrees for too long to be safe.  Bacteria grows at a phenomenal rate in the DANGER ZONE!

If this is your first time cooking a turkey, always remove the package of giblets and the neck from the bird!  I don’t know anyone that hasn’t left that package in a bird at one time or another!!  Myself included!!

If you are planning to cook the bird the day before, make sure you cool down the meat as quickly as possible.  The meat should be at least 165 degrees when removed from the oven.  Never trust the pop up timer that comes with the turkey.  Use a meat thermometer!  Pack the meat with ice.  I put ice in zip lock bags and place it around the bird, then put the turkey in the fridge.  The temperature should be 70 degrees within 2 hours and 40 degrees within the next 4 hours.  If not cooled to at least 40 degrees harmful bacteria can grow.  The next day check the temperature to make sure the meat is at 38-40 degrees.  If you plan on warming it up, make sure to cook it to a temperature of 165 degrees.  If the temperature reads anything above 41 degrees I recommend you throw out the meat!  The turkey will be filled will harmful bacteria!

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If you are planning on serving fresh fruits or vegetables, make sure you wash them thoroughly.  Fact is, fresh fruits and vegetables have been linked to more outbreaks of foodborne illness than any other type of food.  That’s why it is SO IMPORTANT not to use the same utensils or cutting boards and that you wash your hands and counters after handling the raw meat.  Once produce has become contaminated, it can be very hard to get the bacteria like salmonella and E. coli off.  You will want to scrub produce thoroughly in cool water. Once again always store produce at 38-40 degrees and toss out any bruised or slightly rotting fruits.

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There are a few tips on keeping everyone safe with your holiday foods.  First and foremost…..WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE HANDLING ANY FOOD.  Yes that sounds like a no brainer, but, in reality you can cross contaminate so many things by just wiping your hands on a towel.  If you are working with food and happen to touch your nose or itch your eye and then touch the rolls or some other ready to eat food, you have just contaminated that piece of food.  Wash your hands often and you should wash them for at least 20 seconds.

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ALWAYS KEEP A SANITIZER SOLUTION HANDY.  It doesn’t have to be an expensive solution, but make sure it’s food safe!!  You can wipe down the counters with a solution made from 1 Tablespoon bleach to a gallon of water.  Always wipe down counters after working with meat, especially if you are going to prepare salads or vegetables on the same counter.  You do not want to cross contaminate the bloody raw meat on to the ready to eat foods.  Another tip, NEVER use the same knife or cutting board for the meat and vegetables.

KEEP PEOPLE AWAY IF SHOWING SIGNS OF NAUSEA, VOMITING, OR DIARRHEA.  Once again, you want your family to stay healthy.

All these tips don’t just apply to turkey.  They apply to everything you cook!

Make sure you have room in the fridge for leftovers.  Foods need to be put away within 2 hours of serving.  DO NOT KEEP THE LEFTOVER TURKEY ON THE COUNTER.  Once again the meat needs to be cooled quickly.  As does all the other leftovers such as potatoes, vegetables, salads, etc.

As for the leftovers, try to eat everything up within 3 to 4 days.  After that, throw it out.  You can refreeze the meat, but do that within 1 or 2 days.

You don’t have to be afraid to cook your holiday meal.  I know it can be a bit overwhelming but with planning and safety precautions, you should have a great holiday!!  Most importantly….WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN AND BE CAREFUL ABOUT CROSS CONTAMINATION!

Enjoy your holiday!!

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

WARNING! Don’t feed that to your dog!

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As you know, I talk about human nutrition, but, today, I’d like you share with you a little information about what is good and bad, even dangerous to feed your fur-babies.

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If you have 4 legged babies at your house, I’m sure they sit and watch you eat and beg for a taste of your food.  I know mine do!  And who can resist those big, sad, poor me, puppy dog eyes??  Just be careful what table scrapes you give them.  Especially with the holidays coming up.

After all, we all know Grandma will slip a few pieces of turkey off her plate which is ok, but then, there’s Uncle John.  Funny Uncle John gets a kick out of feeding the dog something he shouldn’t just to watch the dog lick its lips in agony.  Let’s face it, a dog will eat just about anything you give it, so, it’s up to you as a doggie parent to know what’s right and wrong.

If you are serving up the traditional Thanksgiving meal, things should be ok, such as plain green beans, cooked potatoes, sweet potatoes, and plain apples from the apple salad.  The exceptions would be feeding your dog anything that has onions or leeks in it.  Onions are toxic and can cause blood cell damage.  Also, raisins or currents.  They can cause kidney failure.  Some types of mushrooms are also poisonous to dogs causing them to go into shock and even death. So, I wouldn’t give things like stuffing or a salad that contains raisins, or mushrooms.

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Also, if you are planning on having guacamole and chips as an appetizer, please don’t let Uncle John give your dog any guacamole!!  Avocados are not good and will cause your dog’s tummy to be upset with vomiting and diarrhea.  That’s something no one wants to clean up at a family gathering!  Also, don’t let Uncle John let your dog drink his beer!!  Alcohol can make a dog intoxicated and lead to coma and death.

As for little Jimmy sitting at the table eating that turkey leg, make doubly sure he doesn’t give that bone to your pup!  Cooked bones, especially poultry bones are brittle and will splinter.  That might cause stomach lacerations.  Also, don’t let little Jimmy share his milk with the pup.  Dogs are naturally lactose intolerant and too much milk will cause diarrhea.  Once again, not a good thing to happen when you have a house full of guests!

Then be careful when you give baby Suzie that chocolate candy bar.  It’s true there is nothing like the face of a little one eating a chocolate bar.  But if your dog happens to grab it out of her hand, it could be trouble!!  Chocolate is toxic to your dog’s heart and nervous system and can cause death.  Also, watch out for little Tommy.  He’s chewing gum!  Oh no!  He’s sharing his gum with the dog!!  The ingredient xylitol in gum and candy can cause liver failure, hypoglycemia and even death.

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Now, we go to Grandpa.  He’s sitting in his comfy chair watching the football game.  You  put out nutritional snacks such as grapes and a bowl of walnuts and almonds to be shelled.  Grandpa’s hands shake a little and he ends up dropping more grapes than he eats and walnut meat and shells are everywhere around the chair.  Here comes the fur-baby.  Naturally, she will start cleaning up around the chair.  After all, if Grandpa is eating, it must be good!  Grapes will cause kidney damage and nuts effect the nervous system and can cause muscle damage.

While the men are watching football,  naturally, the women end up in the kitchen with the dishes.  What are you going to do with the turkey fat in the pan.  Hmmm, pour it over your dogs dry food?  NO!!  Too much fat in your dog’s diet can cause pancreatitis.  That is very painful for your baby.

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It’s time for pie.  You start to brew some coffee and, and Grandma slices up the pie.  Aunt Janie says she has a headache so she opens up a bottle of Tylenol.  Whoops, she drops a few pills and can’t find them all.  Here comes your pup.  She sniffs around and you see her eat something.  Tylenol and other like pills can cause kidney failure and GI ulcers.  While you bend down to help find the pills, you happen to spill your whole cup of coffee.  Here comes your 4-legged cleaning machine.  STOP! Once again, you don’t want to clean up vomit or diarrhea!!  Too much caffeine is toxic to the heart and nervous system.

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If you do want to give you pup a Thanksgiving treat, sweet potatoes are a good thing as long as they’re plain and not covered in sugary syrup and marshmallows.  Carrots are also a good treat.  Once again make sure they are free of any sugary glazing. Dogs can have apples, bananas, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe,  cooked eggs and potatoes, broccoli, and even shrimp!! Pumpkin, pears, lettuce, spinach, rice, green beans, peanut butter, plain yogurt, and oatmeal are good choices when it comes to table treats.  This isn’t the whole list of foods your dog can eat or not eat so if you’re not sure, check with your vet.  Better yet, stick to special made dog treats!

If you would like to make your own special dog treats for Thanksgiving, you might like to make, Pumpkin apple dog treats!

Ingredients:

4-4.5 cups oatmeal plus additional

1 medium apple

1 egg

1 cup of canned pumpkin

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Put the oatmeal in a food processor and grind it.  Make sure it’s ground evenly.  Remove all the seeds from the apple.  SEEDS ARE POISONOUS TO DOGS!  Grate apple ad mix it with the oatmeal in a large bowl.  Add the egg and the canned pumpkin and mix well.  The batter will be thick and a little sticky.

Dust your surface with oatmeal and roll the dough to 1/2 inch thick.  Take a dog cookie cutter and make into cookies.  Transfer them to a lined baking sheet.  Bake in over for approximately 15 minutes or until the treats are golden and crispy.  Let cool and serve!!

Store treats in an airtight container for up to a week.

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If you would like to read more about dogs, let me know!!  They are kinda my “thing”!!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Laura

 

What everybody ought to know about Thanksgiving!

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Halloween is over and Christmas decorations are up all over in the stores.  What happened to Thanksgiving?

Yes, everyone loves Christmas, a time to celebrate love, peace, sing songs about a new-born king….but let’s face it, it’s mostly about PRESENTS!!  And I’ll tell you a little more about that later.

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So ok, what is Thanksgiving?  It’s a day the family gets together to over eat, watch football and get into political arguments, where someone in the family gets angry, hurt or embarrassed am I right?  Well, it doesn’t HAVE to be that way if you take Thanksgiving the way it was meant to be.

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Thanksgiving started out as a religious celebration with feasts and thanking God for the MANY blessings He had given.  Actually, the first noted Thanksgiving wasn’t at Plymouth Rock, it was in the 16th century conducted by the Spaniards and French.

Thanksgiving services were routine in Common Wealth Virginia as early as 1607.  Jamestown, the 1st permanent settlement held a Thanksgiving celebration in 1610.

The “First Thanksgiving” that we all learned about in school and by watching Charlie Brown, was held in 1621 at Plymouth Plantation.  The Pilgrims had a celebration after a bountiful harvest.  The celebration lasted 3 days and took place somewhere between September 21-November 11.  The celebration was held by the 50 survivors from the Mayflower and 90 Native Americans.  The feast was cooked by the 4 surviving adult women and daughters and the help of servants.  It consisted of fish, water fowl, turkeys, venison and Indian corn.

In 1789, George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving day to be celebrated Thursday the 26th of November.  Then in 1795, he proclaimed the day to be February 19th.

Thomas Jefferson chose NOT to celebrate Thanksgiving and the holiday was removed during his term as president.  Madison renewed the tradition in 1814 at the close of the War of 1812.  Once again the holiday was declared as a holiday “for a day of public thanksgiving and prayer” and held on November 25, 1814.

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In 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a federal holiday as a proclaimed national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”.  Once again, the celebration was to be held the last Thursday of November.  Since then Thanksgiving has been observed annually in America.

During the late 1800’s, Thanksgiving traditions in America varied from one region to another.  A traditional New England Thanksgiving consisted of a raffle held on Thanksgiving eve for prizes such as a turkey or a goose.  A shooting match on thanksgiving morning was held as were church services.  The traditional feast included turkey and pumpkin pie.

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Guess what showed up on the scene also in the late 1800’s??  FOOTBALL!!  First the games were high school games played in Massachusetts.  Pro-football took center stage in the 1890’s and the football tradition goes on today.

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In New York City, people would dress up in fancy masks and costumes and roam the streets in “merry-making” mobs.  In the beginning of the 20th century, this turned into what they called Ragamuffin Parades.  Children would dress in ragged adult clothes.  

In 1920, Philadelphia kicked off the season with the Gimbel’s parade.

In 1924, Detroit started a parade.  Today it is one of the largest parades in the country.  It is always followed by the annual Detroit Lions football game.

Also in 1924, the Macy’s day parade began.  The parade is filled with floats and big balloon characters.  The last float of the parade features Santa and the kick off to the Christmas holiday.

Then in 1939, President Roosevelt broke the tradition once more and declared Thanksgiving to be the 4th Thursday of the month, instead of the last Thursday, that is when the month happens to have 5 Thursdays.  WHY??

 

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The country was in the Great Depression at the time.  With the push of Fred Lazarus Jr., the founder of Federated Department Stores ( later Macy’s), he had the President believe that an earlier Thanksgiving would give merchants a longer period to sell products before Christmas and increase their profits.  With the extra profits and the extra spending it would help the country out of the depression.  Needless to say, at this point in time, advertising Christmas before Thanksgiving was thought to be inappropriate!

So here we are 80 years later, the Christmas decorations in the stores are put up in October!  Leave it to the department stores to push spending and take the joy out of Christmas and total ignore Thanksgiving.

Anyway, in 1941, Thanksgiving was FINALLY signed into law and declared to be celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November.

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Let’s always remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving.  It’s a time to thank God for the blessings in your life.  Your family, your health, your home, job, car, money, animals…!  Even if you don’t think you are blessed with the job you want or a house you don’t like, or that cell phone that’s outdated…take a step back and think of the people who would give anything to have a job or a roof over their heads or even someone to talk to.  Also, be thankful for the little things that mean so much…a smile, a flower, a sunset, the rain, or that penny you found in the parking lot!!

Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday, it should be an everyday celebration!

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed holiday!!

Laura

 

 

 

Unbelievable stories of the paranormal

 

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Halloween is at our door once more.  It’s time for parties, candy, and costumes, but why?

Halloween was part of the ancient Celtic religion over 2000 years ago.  It was practiced in the regions that now are Ireland, the UK and northern France.  This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the cold, dark winter.  The Celts also believed that this time of year was often associated with human death.  It was believed that on October 31, the barrier between our world and the world of ghosts and spirits got REALLY thin.  It was on this night, it was believed, the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.  People would gather to light bonfires, offer sacrifices, wear costumes and pay homage to the deceased.

 

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Halloween as we know it today didn’t really get its start in America until the last half of the 19th century.  It was a night of trickery and sometimes ended in violence.  Between the 1920’s and 1950’s people were wanting the trickery and violence to stop.  So began the parties at school or in homes.  The idea of going house to house was an idea to give children candy as a good gesture rather than having them run around getting in trouble.

It’s also a night for dressing in costumes and watching scary movies!  To be quite honest, I’m not one for watching horror shows.  I have enough real “ghost stories” in my everyday life!  Even as I sit here writing, my electronics are “playing games” with me by switching sites or shutting off!  Some say that’s a sign of paranormal activity…I guess I’ll let you decide!

I will admit that I am hooked on a couple of paranormal TV shows.  Are they true?  Who really knows for sure, but, like I said I have had my own experiences.

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Being raised in a Christian household, I was led to believe when we die, we sleep in our graves until the Second coming and then will be lifted to Heaven.  So, when I had my first experience, naturally I was ridiculed and told there are no such thing as ghosts!  But then maybe that’s a parents way of comforting a scared 10-year-old.  The trouble with that was it made me think I was CRAZY!!  So, ok, I learned to live with the creepy shadow that lived on the stairs next to my bedroom.  Let me tell you, there were many sleepless nights and yep, I was a teenager sleeping with a nightlight!

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The next time I had an experience was after I was married.  We lived in an old, two-story house.  I was in my early 20’s with no job at the time, so, when my husband went off to work, I’d sneak back to bed, which turned out not to be the smartest thing I ever did.

I’m sure you all have been in the state of dozing.  Not really sleeping and not really awake?  It was during this time, I felt a presence in the door way of the bedroom.  I looked over and there was a man with a trench coat standing there and just as soon as I saw him, I felt him on top of me!  My body froze with fear!  I couldn’t move, I couldn’t open my eyes, and try as I might I couldn’t scream.  Then, as quick as it came over me, it was gone!  I was like WHAT IN THE HECK JUST HAPPENED!!  Once again, I thought it was my imagination.  I didn’t tell anyone.  Naturally, we NEVER learn from the first mistake, after all, I must have been dreaming, right?   Well, it happened at least a half-dozen other times until I got smart and stayed downstairs on the sofa.

I did tell my husband about the experience and he too was a non-believer.  So, I tried to pass it off again.  That was until my mother-in-law happened to mention something in passing about some evil thing that happened in the house.  She never did say what it was but, I’m sure the residual presence is what I felt!

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I finally made a believer out of my husband when we moved into an old farmhouse.  The land was homesteaded right after the Civil war.  I knew the second I walked into that house there was something I didn’t like about it.  Once again….my imagination!

Actually there were a few experiences there, but, the one that made him a believer was when the baby woke up in the middle of the night crying.  I was rocking him back to sleep and I heard people talking!  Mind you, this house was miles from anyone and it was about 2a.m.!  I shouted to my husband to get up and look if anyone was outside.  When he came down the stairs, he too could hear the voices.  He went outside and walked around the house.  No one was there.  The conversation continued on for a few more moments….then…silence!

We moved on into town where the activity was non-existent.  When we moved to our present location, my oh my, how the activity picked up!  Thank goodness, it wasn’t an evil type of thing, mostly a guardian type, I’d say.

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I’m pretty sure we have more than one spirit in this house.  The one that was here, was an old man in a faded red almost pinkish shirt.  All I could see was his face and shirt as he peered in the kitchen window as if to see who was living here.  Every once in a while, he would be looking in through the window at the kitchen door.  Once again, I never told anyone that I saw him.  He wasn’t scary, he was just nosy!

It wasn’t until my daughter came to me and said she had the weirdest experience.  She said, “I thought I saw and old man looking through the kitchen window.”  I asked what was he wearing?  She said, “He had a pinkish shirt!”  Wow!

This old man never entered the house.  He usually kept his eye on us from outside until one night when my daughter and her new baby were staying with us.  She woke up to find him standing over the crib!  She had enough!  It’s one thing for him to look through the window, it’s another having him in her room!  Needless to say, I saged the house.  I haven’t seen him since.  Hopefully, he went to a better place.

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I could bore you with more ghostly tales of things falling off walls, sounds of tools falling off the garage shelves and the stereo turning on and off.  Or the experiences I’ve had working in the nursing home, like the smell of chocolate chip cookies throughout the building before a resident passed or hearing your name being called when no one is around.  But I’m sure you have your own ghost stories.

If you do have some stories, I’d like to hear them!!

I hope you all have a safe and fun Halloween!!

Remember….those footsteps you hear down the hall might be someone from the past!!  BAAAHAAAAAHAAAA!

Laura

 

Is your mood affecting your life?

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So, it’s MONDAY AGAIN!  The alarm rings, you hit snooze and hope for 5 more minutes of bliss.  After the second snooze alarm, you throw back the blankets and head for the shower.  By the time you’re dressed, the coffee is ready and you reach for that glorious first sip!  Then off to work you go without any breakfast.

Once at work, you grab another cup of coffee and go to your office.  Within five minutes of being there, in comes the first complaint of the day.  By the time you get that fire put out, you look at the clock and you’re late for a meeting.  For the next hour, you are stuck in a small, stuffy room listening to more complaints and the famous, “what are you going to do about it” routine from a boss that has absolutely no idea what’s going on in your department.

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Meeting is adjourned and back to the office in hopes of getting some actual work done.  You sit down to your computer and finally you get started on that report.  That is until the next complaint from your employee comes in!

Finally lunch time!  But wait, you don’t have TIME to eat…you have that errand to run across town and clothes to pick up from the cleaners!  Once again you head to the drive in and grab an espresso.

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Back at work, it’s the same grind.  This time you get lucky, they’re serving donuts at the 2 o’clock meeting!  By 3 o’clock, you can finally get back to your office and start that report that is due tomorrow afternoon.

5 o’clock hits, just a few more paragraphs and it’s out the door.  Only to remember you forgot to get your prescriptions filled, so, it’s back across town at rush hour.

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By the time you get home, you are too tired to think about cooking.  You look in the fridge and there’s nothing in there except for a box of take out from Thursday night. You throw it in the microwave, grab a soda and curl up on the couch and watch TV.  All the while hating life and hoping tomorrow won’t come.

Does this sound like you?  Do you know what’s WRONG with this picture?   First off, life isn’t going to get better if you are living on coffee, soda, donuts, and take out!  Yes, I realize you are living on a hectic schedule but you are also killing yourself slowly but surely!

Your body needs fuel just like your car.  By living on caffeine, sugar, and processed foods that are high in salt is like putting sugar in your gas tank.  Your car will eventually need repaired or replaced.  It’s pretty hard to replace your body, you need to take care of your body and make sure it gets the nutrients it needs before it’s too late!

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So? What are you suppose to do when time is limited?  First thing, try not to hit the snooze button!  If you can get up when the alarm goes off, you will have time for some breakfast.  Say, a bowl of instant oatmeal with a banana.  Without going into scientific details, let’s just say oatmeal has mood-boosting minerals.  It also slowly releases energy into the bloodstream, which keeps blood sugar and your mood stable.  The banana is a great mood-boosting carb rich in vitamins and minerals that help your body in many ways.  If you REALLY can’t get up in the mornings, try boiling some eggs in the evening and have a hard-boiled egg for breakfast along with some whole wheat toast and honey.

If you need a mid morning pick me up, carry along some pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or brazil nuts.  It only takes 3 brazil nuts to get your recommended daily amount of selenium.  Selenium is your mood-booster!

 

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Ok, lunch time!  Yes, you have a million and one things to do in that little bit of time, but, make sure one of those things is to grab a bite to eat.  Try to stay away from fast foods that are deep-fried or breaded beyond recognition.  Opt for a spinach salad with either turkey, chicken or tuna.  If you are trying to lose weight be careful about the salad dressing.  Also, put down that soda and grab a bottle of water.  Make sure you are drinking at least 64 ounces of liquids a day.  Yes, this can include that first robust cup of coffee.  Just make sure you drink plain water through out the day!

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If the 3 o’clock slump hits and you HAVE TO HAVE something sweet.  Try eating a couple  squares of DARK chocolate.  That’s right you can have chocolate as long as it is at least 60-70% dark cocoa.  Dark chocolate helps reduce stress hormones and anxiety levels.

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You finally made it through the day.   Believe it or not, you ACTUALLY have some energy left!!  Since your fridge is empty, stop at the store and grab some salmon, broccoli, and brown rice for supper.  In less than 30 minutes you can have a healthy mood-boosting meal.  You can even enjoy a glass of wine!!

Not only will you feel better, your mind will be clearer and your employees will love you!!   Well, ok, maybe that last thing is a little far-fetched!  But one thing is for sure, you will feel better!

Please leave a comment if you would like more diet tips or what kind of foods you should eat for a better life!

Happy eating!

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pull the trigger on ADHD

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Did you know, 8.7% of children age 3-17 years, suffer from ADHD according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention?

So?  What is ADHD?  Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is thought to be caused by developmental differences in the brain that affects the parts controlling attention, concentration, impulsivity, activity levels and memory.

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Symptoms can include, over looking or missing details or handing in homework that is not done.  Having difficulties paying attention or remaining focused during class or lengthy reading.  Often seems not to listen when directly spoken to or their mind is elsewhere even when there is no distraction.  School work can be a chore, they start fast, then lose interest and get side tracked.  Is their desk or backpack a mess and disorganized?  Do they suffer from poor time management?  Does your child avoid or dislike school work?  Do they lose things, such as homework, glasses, keys or phone?  Do they get easily distracted and forget to complete chores?  Does your child have difficulties sitting still or waiting to take turns?  Do you find that your child is always interrupting you or talks excessively?  If so, you might want to get checked out by a Doctor.    ADHD seems to be on the rise, the question is why?

Doctors and parents have begun to turn to nutrition.  What you feed your children on a daily basis can have a huge impact on the severity and frequency of ADHD symptoms.  Foods that contain high amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, saturated fat, caffeine and processed foods like deli meats have been linked to triggering ADHD symptoms in children.

Studies have shown that foods high in vitamin B, protein, calcium and trace minerals have actually reduced symptoms on a regular basis.

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It has been found that foods high in protein like, eggs, beans (navy and soy), goat cheese, and chicken can help a child’s concentration.  High complex carbs like, apples, pears, oranges, kiwi and grapefruit have been known to aid in sleep.  Foods high in Omega 3’s also help in treating symptoms, like, salmon, mackerel, tuna, white fish, walnuts, brazil nuts, and almonds.  Also, foods rich in trace minerals such as spinach, kale and watercress or whole grained cereals and breads.

The studies have shown the WORST foods you can give you child with ADHD are the following: ice cream, yogurt, cow cheese.  Why the dairy products?  They have found that kids with ADHD tend to have an intolerance to cow’s milk which can trigger ADHD symptoms.  Try to remove dairy products from your child’s diet for 6-8 weeks to see if it helps lessen the symptoms.  If so, you can change to soy or nut products.

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Besides dairy products, sugar is also on the hit list.  Sugar strips the body of the vitamins, enzymes and minerals required to help stabilize moods.  Stay away from sweets which include fruit juices.  Make sure the juice you buy is 100% juice with no artificial sweeteners, colorings or flavorings

Coffee, chocolate and pop also contains caffeine which is a stimulant that triggers symptoms.  Not to mention, pop contains artificial flavorings and colors.  Chips also fall into this category.

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Frozen pizza is a real danger.  All the ingredients are triggers for symptoms.  The processed meat, the flour in the crust, the cheese….Frozen pizza or pizza bites are not healthy for anyone!   If you want pizza, make it at home and use natural ingredients.

Last but not least, watch out for “yellow” vegetables such as corn and squash.   Yellow vegetables have been known to trigger symptoms.

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If you have a child that has been diagnosed with ADHD or have symptoms go back and do a food log of what your child has been eating over the course of the week.  If they have been eating processed meats, milk, pizza, pop, chocolate…..you might want to try changing their diet.  After all,  if you can make your child feel better why wouldn’t you?

Good luck and healthy eating

Laura

 

 

 

Magnesium, who knew??

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Isn’t it crazy that we all run to the doctor for a “quick fix” pill for our aches and pains, when in reality, our problems just might boil down to the foods we consume, or don’t consume?  Eating healthy isn’t just a gimmick.  Eating the right foods that contain the right vitamins and minerals can keep our bodies fueled for a long and healthy life.

Today, I’m going to talk about the mineral, magnesium.  I’m sure some of you have heard about this.  Magnesium helps with just about every body function from breaking down proteins we eat to helping with depression!  Magnesium plays an important role in your body’s ability to keep your heart, kidneys and muscles healthy, also, keeps your bones strong.

Symptoms of low magnesium can be hard to recognize.  If you find yourself being tired all the time, that can be a symptom.  Sure everyone feels TIRED at some point in their lives with work and kids, but  an insufficient amount of magnesium can make you feel tired and weak.  Often drs. don’t check for magnesium levels at this point.  Unfortunately, this feeling of fatigue won’t go away until the magnesium levels are back to normal.

Muscle spasms and cramps are another sign of a low magnesium level.  If you are suffering from uncontrollable and unpredictable spasms and cramps and its not due to inadequate stretching, dehydration or over-exertion, have your magnesium level checked.

Magnesium is vital for proper muscle contraction and can affect your most important muscle….the heart.  If you are suffering from arrhythmia, magnesium can help you maintain a normal heart rhythm.  There have been studies on how magnesium affects your heart and if it can prevent heart disease or lower the risk of heart attacks.  While there is no guarantee, the studies have shown a positive effect on heart health.

Do you suffer from dizziness?  Not the type that happens when you stand up fast, but, from dizziness that seems to last all day.  Low magnesium levels can give you feelings of vertigo which can totally ruin your life.  If you are suffering from dizziness that just seems to be getting worse, check your magnesium level.

If you seem to have never ending nausea and vomiting, yep, once again it can be due to low magnesium.  Although, you can suffer the same if your magnesium levels are high.  If you are taking a supplement, it’s important to have your levels checked.

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Magnesium also impacts your nervous system.  Tingling and numbness can be a warning sign of a deficiency, especially if it keeps getting worse.  It’s common to feel these symptoms in your face, feet and hands.  I just want to add, numbness is not to be something to brush off.  There could be a real serious problem so make sure you get medical help.

Another interesting fact is, having a low magnesium level can affect your personality!   Do you or someone you know seem to be having abnormal amounts of confusion and irritability?  Or do simple things seem overwhelming?  Is there mood swings?  Are you having trouble sleeping?  Do you suffer from restless leg syndrome? You might want to have your magnesium level checked, before you are prescribed mind bending medications.  Drs. don’t often check magnesium levels for symptoms like these.

Along with the personality changes, low magnesium levels can cause panic attacks and/or anxiety.  If you are suffering from these regularly it could be due to magnesium deficiency.  This can lead to a vicious circle because the stress from anxiety can lower your level of magnesium even more.

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If you are suffering from high blood pressure, try taking in more magnesium.  A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension did a study and the results were that the people with the healthiest blood pressure, had the highest levels of magnesium.  Those with low levels of magnesium had high blood pressure.  Another study revealed that eating magnesium rich foods approximately 100 mg a day, would decrease the risk of having a stroke by 8 percent.

It has also been found that a lack of magnesium could play a role in developing type II diabetes.  Low levels of magnesium are 10 times higher in people that are newly diagnosed with type II diabetes.

A deficiency in magnesium can also increase your risk of developing bone problems like osteoporosis.  Your bones store large amount of magnesium, so when levels of the mineral are low for a long time, it can lead to bone loss.

Another symptom of magnesium deficiency can be migraines.  Researches say that migraines can be caused due to the dilation of blood vessels and that nearly half of the people suffering from migraine headaches show to have a low amount of magnesium in their blood.

Now here is something we don’t like to talk about, but, if you are having trouble with bowel movements, part of the reason might be having a low magnesium level.  Magnesium has a relaxing effect on many parts of the body, including the digestive tract.  If these muscles contract more, it makes it more difficult for waste to move through yours system, resulting in constipation.

On the other end of the spectrum, so to speak, are you having trouble with acid reflux?  Just like I previously mentioned, magnesium plays a key role in muscle relaxation throughout the body.  This includes the valves at the top and bottom of the stomach, which allow food to move through the body as it should.  If the cause of your acid reflux is a magnesium deficiency, most over-the-counter medications can actually worsen the symptoms.  So be sure once again to talk to your dr. and get your magnesium level checked.

Now that you know some symptoms of magnesium deficiency, what can you do about it?  These are a few foods that are loaded with magnesium and I would recommend that you would try to incorporate them into your daily diet.

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First, Avocados.  They are loaded with magnesium.  So go ahead and add an avocado to a salad or sandwich.  Avocados are also a great source of potassium and protein, which helps keep you feeling full and helps in the muscle building process.  Avacodos are high in the “good” fat, but still, unsaturated fat, so consume in moderation.

Then there are the DARK leafy greens.  Swiss chard, kale, and spinach are packed with magnesium.  These greens have virtually no calories or fat so enjoy.  Just remember to be careful with what you “dress” them with if you are watching your calories.

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Now there are my favorites!  Cashews and dark chocolate.  Both can help with regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.  They also help with high cholesterol, hypertension and other heart health issues.  Just remember dark chocolate means having a higher cocoa percentage.  Anything with  60% would be ideal.  No milk chocolate!!  One word of caution, the nuts and chocolate are high in fat, so, take in moderation.

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Pumpkin seeds aren’t just for Halloween anymore!  They are very high in magnesium.  Make sure to leave the shells which contain the most helpful nutrients.  Also another important seed are flax seeds, they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and magnesium.  All are very good for body health.  Add the seeds to salads, sauces, and cereals or buy whole grain breads with flax seed.

The last food I’m going to include is tuna.  Tuna is loaded with magnesium and low in calories and fat.  Tuna can contain mercury, which is unhealthy if consumed in high quantities.  Also canned tuna contains lots of added salt, so, try to limit your consumption of canned tuna and go for the fresh.

Once again, I want to encourage you to check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

If you find yourself with any of the above symptoms and the drs. can’t figure out a cause, ask for a magnesium test.  After all, eating healthy is a whole lot better than taking meds you don’t need.

Happy eating!!

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

The season for change

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Can you believe August is coming to an end?  I have no idea where the summer went, but, I think, I might have missed it!  I’ve noticed the days are getting shorter, the nights, cooler, and before you know it, Jack Frost will be knocking at the window pane.

So, now that the summer vacations are winding down, the kids are back in school, Fall gives us a time to transition into gearing up for….dare I say it??  CHRISTMAS!!  Do you find it a little unnerving to go into the stores where they are putting up Halloween decorations AND Christmas decorations at the same time?  Anyway, I’m getting off on a whole other subject!

Today, I want to check in with you and see if anyone out there reached their goal of losing weight, buying healthier foods, or have made a change for the better in their life.  Since I started this blog 6 months ago, I have lost 15 pounds!!  Most of the weight loss was due to more exercise as in walking and weight lifting.  I must admit, I can’t give up my sweets, but, I have cut down on what I was eating.

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As you know, most of my blogs have been about eating healthy and exercise.  I can not stress enough the power of exercise!  You don’t have to go to a gym or hire a trainer.   No matter what your age, get up and WALK.  If you haven’t exercised in a while, just try to walk around the block or even to the corner of the street and back.  Do this for a few days, then push yourself to go just a little farther.  Work your way up to a mile a day.

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If you have access to a swimming pool, that’s even better!  You don’t have to know how to swim, just get in and walk a few laps in waist deep water.  Remember how much fun you had as a kid, playing and splashing in the pool??  I bet you’ll be amazed how time will fly!

Another great way to get some exercise is Yoga.  If you are greatly overweight, you can check out my pins on Pinterest, look for, the lunch lady!!  The key is to start small.  You can’t expect to lose 25 pounds in 2 weeks or go down 3 dress sizes in a month.   Keep going one day at a time!!  If you lose 2 pounds a month, that’s 24 lbs in the year!

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If summer has passed you by, Fall is a great time to get up and get out!  Enjoy the sunshine, the crisp air, the changing colors of the trees.  

Remember the holidays are coming with all the candy, cookies and goodies!  If you go through the winter putting on extra pounds, it’s just going to be that much harder to take them off next Spring!

If you would like a free, personal BMI reading that tells how much body fat you are carrying around, send me your height and weight to my email: larsonlaura74@gmail.com and I’ll get you started on your way to a better life!!

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I hope you can take advantage of this new season!  Can you imagine yourself WOWING everyone at that Christmas party??

Take care

Laura