Tai chi is a martial art developed in ancient China that is now practiced for health improvement. Tai chi combines slow, graceful movements flowing into the next with focused mental concentration.
Tai chi requires very little in terms of equipment or props. This slow and gentle movement of body weight and deep breathing requires nothing more than comfortable clothes and flat, flexible shoes. It is suitable for all ages and can be done indoors or outdoors, alone or with a group. The whole family can learn and practice tai chi together.
People who practice tai chi several times weekly may experience several health benefits such as improved balance (which helps to reduce risk of falling), flexibility, strengthened muscles, stress relief, lower blood pressure, better sleep quality, and improved sense of well-being, to name a few.
Before beginning tai chi, as with any exercise program, consult your physician if you have a chronic health condition.
Sources: www.extension.org/pages/32340/tai-chi:-movment-for-health-benefits/print/ and http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi/introduction.htm
fitness, healthy living
The day has somehow gotten away from you—it’s later than you think; the family is hungry and you haven’t begun to fix dinner, let alone think about what to fix. One look in the freezer and you spot a frozen brick of ground beef. What’s the quickest way to turn the brick into a quick and delicious beef meal? Here is what you need: microwave-safe storage bag (gallon size), microwave, four minutes, and these simple steps.
- Transfer your frozen ground beef from its packaging to the gallon-size storage bag.
- Seal the storage bag, leaving a small opening for steam to escape (about 1/2 inch or size of a pencil).
- Heat the bag in the microwave on a microwave-safe plate for one minute on HIGH.
- Flip the bag over.
- Heat on HIGH for one more minute; wait for one minute.
- Remove the beef from the microwave and massage the bag
- for 10 seconds.
- If needed, heat on HIGH for 30 seconds longer, followed by 30 seconds of rest. The leaner the ground beef, the less time in the microwave. TIP: the beef should not be HOT to the touch; just thaw it enough to form it into a shape.
- Immediately cook your beef to 160°F.
food preparation, healthy living
Serves 4 | Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups each
- 1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 16-ounce jar green salsa, green enchilada sauce or taco sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 15-ounce can pinto or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- Cook beef, bell pepper, and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in salsa (or sauce) and water; bring to a simmer.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Stir in beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
Nutrition Per Serving: 307 Calories; 8 g Fat; 3 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 64 mg Cholesterol; 29 g Carbohydrates; 27 g Protein; 6 g Fiber; 516 mg Sodium; 641 mg Potassium
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized two rules that will require chain restaurants, vending machines, and similar retail food establishments to inform consumers of calorie information on menus and menu boards.
Rule 1: Menu Labeling
This rule requires:
- The calories of the menu items be placed on the menu or menu board, and it applies to larger restaurants and similar retail food establishments (e.g., part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name, and offering the same menu items).
- Calorie labeling for certain alcoholic beverages and certain foods sold at entertainment venues such as movie theaters and amusement parks.
- Menus and menu boards include the following statement: “2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”
- Covered establishments provide, upon customer request, written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, and protein.
Restaurants and similar retail establishments that are covered will have one year from the date of publication of the menu labeling final rule to comply with the requirements. Foods purchased in grocery stores or other retail stores intended for more than one person and requiring additional preparation before consuming are not covered by this rule.
Rule 2: Vending Machines
This rule requires that vending machine operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines disclose calorie information for food sold from vending machines, subject to certain exceptions. Vending machine operators that are covered will have two years from the date of publication of the vending machine labeling final rule to comply with the requirements.
For more information about these new rules please visit www.fda.gov/Food/NewsEvents/ConstituentUpdates/ucm423987.htm.
healthy living, nutrition
Exercising can be hard, but tracking your progress doesn’t have to be. A fitness tracker counts your steps and provides motivation to exercise more throughout your day without drastic lifestyle changes or fad diets. By simplifying the process of monitoring with a fitness device, you will increase the likelihood of reaching a healthier weight and improving your overall health.
Fitness trackers are lightweight and wearable, and they can track steps, distance, heart rate, and calories used. Some even monitor sleep. The best activity trackers monitor your activity and display information about your daily routine on your smartphone or on the screen of the device itself.
Look for ones that will calculate your total minutes of activity, steps taken, heart rate, and goals for you. Some may even remind you to get up and move when you have been sitting for too long. Choose one that works with your lifestyle and habits. PC magazine has a good review of features and costs for some of the more popular wearable activity trackers.
fitness, healthy living
Are you confused by the dates that appear on food labels? If so you are not alone! Product dating is not required by federal regulations with the exception of infant formula. Most companies do put a date or a code on the package, but unfortunately there is no universally accepted method used so it can get confusing.
Here are some terms that will help you determine if the food item is still safe.
- “Sell by” means the store should sell the product by the date printed, but it can still safely be eaten after that date. Egg cartons have a “sell by” date.
- “Best if used by” means the consumer should use the product by the date listed for best quality and flavor (not for safety reasons). Most canned goods have a “best if used by” date.
- “Use by” or “Expires” means the product should be used by or frozen by the date listed. There will likely be a marked deterioration in product quality and safety after this date. Meats are an example of a food with a “use by” date.
- “Packing code” is required on all cans. This enables the company to track when and where the food was manufactured. This code is not a “use by” date. Canned foods are safe indefinitely as long as they are not exposed to extreme temperatures (freezing or temperatures above 90°F). Any cans that are dented, rusted, or swollen should be discarded. You will find that high-acid foods (tomatoes, fruits) will keep their best quality for 12 to 18 months and low-acid canned foods (meats, vegetables) for 2 to 5 years.
Serving Size: 1½ cups | Serves 6
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup sliced fresh white mushrooms (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 14-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 10.75-ounce can reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup
1 cup uncooked instant
2 cups chopped broccoli
2 cups chopped cooked
1/2 teaspoon freshly
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Add onions, mushrooms, and minced garlic (if using); cook, stirring often, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, broth, soup, and rice. Cover and cook until rice is nearly tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Stir in the broccoli and turkey; return to boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until broccoli is tender and turkey is heated through, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat; stir in pepper.
Nutrition information per serving: 310 calories, 7g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 40mg cholesterol, 510mg sodium, 40g total carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 5g sugar, 23g protein
Prebiotics and probiotics are considered “nutrition boosters”that are naturally present in everyday foods. Although there are prebiotic and probiotic supplements available, those found naturally in food are more readily digested and absorbed.
Prebiotics are natural, nondigestible food components linked to promoting the growth of “good” bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics help good bacteria grow in your gut and might also help your body better absorb calcium.
Probiotics are actual live cultures of “good” bacteria that are naturally found in your gut. These help balance or grow the bacteria you need in your gut. Probiotics may help enhance immunity and overall health, especially intestinal health. Probiotics have been used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, to lower lactose intolerance symptoms, and to prevent some allergy symptoms; however, the benefits vary person-to-person.
Try to include both prebiotics and probiotics in meals and snacks since they work together to restore and improve gut health. For example, enjoy a cup of yogurt with a banana at breakfast or top sautéed asparagus with melted aged cheese for dinner.
For a more extensive review of prebiotics and probiotics, register to view the 2010 Current Issues in Nutrition webinar, “The Good Gut Bugs: Prebiotics and Probiotics.”
healthy living, nutrition
High-intensity workouts such as CrossFit are popular workouts, but are they for everyone? CrossFit combines gymnastics, endurance exercises, speed training, and strength training into one intense and short workout called workout of the day. These exercises are done with very short breaks in between. There is limited research about the safety of CrossFit in comparison to other types of exercise.
According to John Porcari, PhD, head of the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse Clinical Exercise Physiology program, CrossFit is safe for an active person but may not be safe for a 45-year-old with heart disease risks. Dr. Porcari adds, “We’ve seen with a lot of these workouts people go flat-out as fast as they can, but then their form falls apart. You really need to be technically correct with a lot of these exercises or else you’re going to get hurt.”
Take these steps to make sure you stay injury free:
1. Consult a health care professional before starting a workout routine if you are not physically active.
2. Find a certified personal trainer who can teach you proper techniques. Ask about their credentials and references, and look for a trainer that is concerned about form and safety. Certifications to look for include NSCA, ACE, ACSM, and NASM.
3. Don’t overexert yourself, watch your form, and gradually increase the intensity of your workout.
A 2013 study identified the six germiest items in the kitchen. These items were found to have pathogens (disease-causing agents) on them that can cause someone, especially children, pregnant women, and older adults, to become ill. Risk of illness can be lowered by using the cleaning tips below.
||How to Decrease Pathogens
||salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold
||Handheld: Wash in hot soapy water, rinse, and air dry after each use.
Electric: Using a clean cloth, wash the cutter, feed gear, and magnet with hot soapy water. Rinse with a wet, clean cloth.
|Vegetable drawer of refrigerator
||salmonella, listeria, yeast, and mold
||Wash in hot soapy water, rinse and air dry after each use.
||salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold
||Dishwasher Safe: Wash blender in the dishwasher.
Not Dishwasher Safe: Wash in hot soapy water, rinse, and dry before reassembling.
||E. coli, yeast, and mold
||Wash in hot soapy water, paying special attention to the area where the handle joins the spatula.
|Refrigerator meat compartment
||salmonella, E. coli, yeast, and mold
||Use a clean cloth and wash the bin with a mild detergent mixed with warm water. Thoroughly rinse with warm, clean water and dry.
|Food storage container with rubber seal
||salmonella, yeast, and mold
||Wash in hot soapy water, paying special attention to any grooves where the cover attaches to the container. Then rinse and dry.
|General Safe Food Practices:
• Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 10–15 seconds.
• Avoid cross-contamination by storing ready-to-eat foods on top of uncooked foods, such as meat, to avoid raw juices dripping on other foods.
food safety, healthy living