Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Love This

Monday, February 24, 2014

Melanoma - The Ugly Duckling Mole

By Lisa VanWilliams

As a child in the 70's & 80's we would spend hours on the beach while vacationing and swimming in the pool with minimal sun screen, and then as teenagers we would spend hours laying out by the pool slathering the baby oil on. When we could not tan by the pool, we went to the tanning salons.

Now with 40 hovering close by my door, a family with two young children to care for, and enough freckles and moles to connect the dots for the complete constellation, I go for twice yearly melanoma body screenings and slather on the sunscreen. Skin cancer was not something you heard as much about "back then" as you do now. I know people who have had it, and I know some people's lives that have been forever changed by it.

The American Cancer Society states the following estimates for 2014 in America:
  •   About 76,100 new melanomas will be diagnosed (about 43,890 in men and 32,210 in women).*
  •   About 9,710 people are expected to die of melanoma (about 6,470 men and 3,240 women).* 
 There are some simple checks you do to try an prevent this less common cancer by affecting you and those you love.  Know your risk factors, watch your moles for changes, if you have fair skin and light hair, if your African American you could be at higher risk (20x more common*), and if you have a family history are just a few factors to consider. Early detection is important and you can use your "ABC's" to check yourself:
  • Asymmetry
  • Borders (irregular)
  • Color (variegated)
  • Diameter (greater than 6 mm (0.24 in), about the size of a pencil eraser)
  • Evolving over time*

If you question something, go see your dermatologist and do not delay. Apply sunscreen on yourself and children regularly when out in the sun and try to prevent burns.



Thursday, February 20, 2014


By Lisa VanWilliams

You can add some flaxseed oil to a smoothie, grind them up and add them to your bread & muffins, or sprinkle it over your kale before you bake it for a nutty flavor that adds crunch. 

The flax seed comes from the flax plant and it has been around for thousands of years making it one of the oldest fiber crops in the world. WebMD stated in article, "The Flax Council estimates close to 300 new flax-based products were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone. Not only has consumer demand for flaxseed grown, agricultural use has also increased."*

Why are they good for you?

  • packed with Omega-3's (reduces inflammation in the body)
  • cancer prevention -help to reduce risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer.  
  • lignan rich which acts as an antioxidant
  • packed with fiber to help digestion (8 grams of fiber per teaspoon)
  • may help to lower cholesterol
  • may help to stabilize blood sugar levels
  • may help to protect skin tissue from being damaged during radiation

Ground flaxseeds have less of a shelf life than whole seeds and refrigeration will increase longevity. You can purchase them either way.  


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Organic Milk Or Regular?

By Lisa VanWilliams

It has been a topic of great debate lately and some just say it's a matter of personnel preference.  Is there really a difference between the two?  The National Dairy Council says no.  They state the main difference between the two is that it costs more for the farmers when they want a "certified organic" label.  There is a lack of long term clinical studies so there is no conclusive evidence to support that one is healthier than the other.

Legal definition of organic milk is as follows:
In general, livestock used to produce organic milk must be maintained using the methods of organic farming as defined in the jurisdiction where the milk will be sold, and generally must be certified in order to be marketed as organic. In general, these laws require that livestock be allowed to graze on pasture, be fed organic certified feed (which may not include byproducts of animal slaughter), and that the animals not be treated with drugs (although it is also illegal to withhold necessary drugs from a sick animal in order to maintain that animal's organic status).*

The National Dairy Council and The American Dairy Association have provided this great FAQ sheet regarding the differences:

It's good to know the facts about the milk your giving your family and then decide which brand works best for your families needs.  


Monday, February 17, 2014

Protein Shakes - Without Arsenic Please

By Lisa VanWilliams

We love our morning fruit smoothies. Here I am thinking I am making a healthy breakfast and we could have been poisoning ourselves.  I did not realize what toxic brands are out there and to be aware of.  Consumer Reports did a study that revealed the following:

Here are the average amounts of metals we found in three servings of these protein drinks. The maximum limits for them in dietary supplements proposed by the U.S. Pharmacopeia are: arsenic (inorganic), 15 micrograms (µg) per day; cadmium, 5 µg; lead, 10 µg; mercury, 15 µg. Amounts at or exceeding those limits are in bold. Experts said three servings a day is common.*
What's in your protein drink 

Check the list and makes sure you are not using any of the brands with alarming levels of chemicals. Food Babe did an article where she recommends the healthiest brands on the market which you can check out here: http://foodbabe.com/2012/12/13/the-healthiest-protein-powders-on-the-market/

 Protein shakes are a wonderful way to eat your fruit, they are convenient,  and it's a great way to supplement nutrients and sneak in other food supplements (flax seed, coconut oil, etc). Experiment and try some different mixes, just be aware of the toxic brands !


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Coffee & Grinds

By Lisa VanWilliams

A short 8oz White Chocolate Mocha can cost you around 200 calories. Try to stay away from the mocha's, lattes, and frappuccino's because they are packed with calories and sugar. Go for straight up coffee instead, and just be careful on your additives cause you can rack up calories adding creamers, flavorings and sugar. 

Coffee can actually be good for you in moderation.  Studies suggest that drinking coffee can reduce the risks of Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson's disease, heart disease, diabetes mellitus type 2, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and gout.*

Hitting up your local coffee establishments can be costly on a regular basis. One way we try to cut down on this expense is by using a Kuerig single cup brewer.  A company called Mochamate makes a refillable (reusable) filter cup for roughly $12 so you make your own gourmet singles at home.  

The great thing about this is it allows us to try many different kinds of coffee without having to commit to buying a whole box of k-cups if we aren't sure we like them or not.  They say variety is the spice of life and this allows us to constantly try new blends.  I will go to our local Wholefoods on a weekly basis where they have a whole coffee bean section.  Strong, mild, medium, exotic, whatever kind of flavor you might be into that week is available at your tips. Take the beans and they usually have a grinder right there or the Barista will do it for you (make sure you pick the correct setting -autodrip).  Let me tell you, this the best smelling coffee everrrrrrrrrr from the car on the ride home to the kitchen after I bring it inside -it has the best aromatic scent to catch a waft of here and there.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Summer Bodies

Spaghetti Squash

By Lisa VanWilliams

This winter squash is a perfect low carb substitute for pasta and asian noodles.  Once cooked the flesh of the squash resembles stringy pasta-like threads. It has a mild flavor and it is not sweet. It is low in fat, low in carbs, and high in water content so it works effectively in weight loss and management.

The yellow oblong fruit has the following health & nutritional benefits:
  • packed with vitamin A & C
  • beta carotene
  • helps support a strong immune sytem
  • helps protect against colds
  • folic acid
  • anti-inflammatory benefits
  • antioxidant which is great for cancer treatment and prevention
  • can assist in blood sugar regulation
  • tests show it may also help to prevent cardiovascular disease
 Throw some meatballs and sauce over it, or you can mix it will olive oil add some spices. Whichever way you decide, it's a great alternative to use instead of pasta and sneak in some veggies.

The easiest way to cook them is to split the squash in half, remove the guts, place the squash cut side down in a 13x9 pan, add 1/2 and inch of water and cook uncovered for almost an hour. Once it's cooked and tender, just scrape out strings with a fork and season.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Workouts

By Lisa VanWilliams

Ice skating, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, sledding, shoveling, or even just a plain old snow ball fight for an hour can burn crazy calories. It's a great way to get the whole family out together and the best part is, it can be so much fun you don't even realize your working!  You would be amazed how much energy it takes to build a snowman with the kids.

Outdoor activities can also help:
  • destress and get some fresh crisp air in the lungs
  • raise your metabolism to adjust to the temp change
  • offers physical benefits
  • get some activity where you can so the winter blues don't get you down

Remember to stay hydrated, often during winter people tend to not realize how much they are sweating while wearing so many layers. Take breaks, offer help if you can, and if you need help ask. Stay safe and most important have fun and enjoy the seasons as they come.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Comfort Food Control

By Lisa VanWilliams
“A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.”
~ Mark Twain, Following the Equator

Somehow carrots sticks and a salad do not sound very enticing on a snow day. The body naturally craves heavier body warming carb foods during cold winter months.  Something like a nice warm New England Clam Chowder, or a spicy bowl of red bean chili with a warm hunk of fresh bread sounds better. Moderation is key when indulging and it is important to not blow your whole weeks work in a day.

Even today's Weight Watchers program allows you to bank points and have a full blown cheat day or if you prefer, you can use some cheat points daily. Individuals definition and preferences of cheating may vary. For example, one person may think a Brownie Fudge Sundae is a great idea for a cheat plan and another person may think 2 cookies is cheating.  Try to keep a calorie number in mind and stick to it.  You might not be able to eat the whole ice cream, but you can have a few bites and it's not going to throw you off the program to bad.
 WebMD had an article in which Rallie McAllister, MD, author of Healthy Lunchbox: The Working Mom's Guide to Keeping You and Your Kids Trim states, "Studies indicate that we do tend to eat more during the winter months, with the average person gaining at least 1 to 2 pounds -- and those who are already overweight likely to gain a lot more."

Cut yourself off and stick your plan..but remember shoveling gets you an extra couple bites of whatever treat your picking.