Maximizing Your Cold Weather Workouts

During the colder months, many people can warm up to these four simple tips from celebrity fitness expert Jennifer Cohen to help keep up with their workouts:

• Incorporate Exercise Throughout Your Day: Put free weights at the doorway of your bedroom and move them from room to room as you go about the day, doing a few arm curls each time. At the end of the day, you’ll have a great upper body workout.

• Double Your Trips Up and Down the Stairs: Have to move laundry? Do it in two trips with small baskets instead of one, to burn extra calories and work your hamstrings and glutes.

• Take Advantage of TV Time: Keep a stretch band in the living room and do lunges to work on your arms, thighs and butt while you watch TV. Put the band under your foot and pull up with your arms.

• Outdoor Chores Count, Too: Taxing yard work such as raking leaves and cleaning gutters, chopping wood, scraping the windshield or shoveling snow can count toward fitness and weight loss. Rake leaves for an hour to burn 250 calories and shovel snow for an hour to burn up to 400 calories.

Cohen says cool fitness gadgets can be great for motivation. By using a heart rate monitor, for example, you can track your intensity level, calories burned and duration-regardless of whether it’s yard work or an intense workout session. At the gym, heart rate monitors can track your progress on whatever equipment you’re using-exercise bikes, stair-steppers-or during a group exercise class.

Heart rate is a convenient, accurate, personalized indicator of the intensity of your exercise. Using a heart rate monitor lets you set your goal, create a training program and use your exercise data to adjust the intensity of your workout accordingly. A Polar heart rate monitor can help bring your workouts to the next level by optimizing time spent at the gym, exercising at home or doing outdoor chores.

It’s also important to exercise with a goal in mind, whether that goal is weight loss, improving your general fitness or maximizing your performance for a sporting event. Create a training program to help you meet your goal that includes both cardio and strength training. You can devise a customized workout plan via free sites such as www.polarpersonaltrainer.com.

For more on heart rate training, visit www.polarusa.com/whyHR.

*Article and image courtesy of NAPS.*

Family Meals Keep Kids Healthy

The average family meal lasts just 20 minutes, but research clearly shows that sharing regular meals can have significant benefits for children of all ages. Family meals have the potential to reduce the risk of substance abuse, obesity and eating disorders, and can improve kids’ eating habits.

Many families struggle to find time to gather around the table every night, juggling work, household chores and other activities. Other challenges, such as sibling conflict, can interfere with the quality of family mealtimes. The Pampered Chef®, the largest direct seller of kitchen tools, knows that a meal plan is more than just a recipe and a grocery list. They partnered with the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois to develop strategies to help families make mealtimes easier.

They offer these suggestions:

• Get the kids involved. Include them in mealtime planning by giving them specific, age-appropriate tasks such as setting the table. Plus, let them choose one weekly meal.
• Teach children how to stop, think and talk when they get into disagreements.
• Keep it engaging. Telling stories during mealtimes helps children understand family values and traditions.
• Make mealtime simple. Choose easy, budget-friendly meals that allow you to spend less time cooking and more time with your family, such as this dinner recipe developed by the Test Kitchen experts at The Pampered Chef, for around $2 per serving.

For more family meal recipes that cost around $2 per serving, visit www.pamperedchef.com.

Harvest Pasta Skillet

Ingredients

1 large onion
8 oz white mushrooms
½ tbsp olive oil
1 can (15 oz) solid pack pumpkin
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
¾ cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
½ cup water
5 garlic cloves, pressed
3 Tbsp Moroccan rub
¼ tsp salt
1 pkg (14.5 oz) uncooked
Protein-enriched multigrain penne pasta
¼ cup shelled pistachios
½ cup heavy whipping cream (“Mom” prefers Soymilk Plain Creamer)
1 oz Parmesan cheese
Coarsely ground black pepper and chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preparation

Thinly slice onion using Simple Slicer on No. 2 setting. Cut onion slices in half with Chef’s Knife. Slice mushrooms using Egg Slicer Plus®. Heat oil in (12-in) skillet over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until simmering. Add onion and mushrooms. Cook and stir 3 minutes or until onion is translucent. Meanwhile, combine pumpkin, broth, wine and water in Classic Batter Bowl; whisk well using Stainless Whisk. Add garlic pressed with Garlic Press, rub and salt to skillet; cook 20 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in pumpkin mixture. Bring to a simmer; stir in pasta. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook 11 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally. Coarsely chop pistachios using Food Chopper. Turn off burner; stir in cream. Grate cheese over pasta mixture using Rotary Grater. Sprinkle with pistachios. Garnish with black pepper and parsley, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

For free mealtime resources, including downloadable conversation starters, visit pamperedchef.com/mealtimeminutes.

Regular family meals, research suggests, can boost children’s health and well-being, reducing the likelihood that they’ll become obese or use drugs, and increase the chances that they’ll do well in school.

*Article, recipe and image courtesy of NAPS.*

Delicious dishes such as stuffed peppers may help you keep active and strong. These mini bell peppers are just too cute, as well!

Stuffed Mini Bell Peppers

Ingredients

12 red, yellow and orange mini bell peppers
4 Tbsp canola oil
2 (3-inch) pieces day-old Italian bread with crusts, broken into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves
½ cup fresh parsley or cilantro leaves
1 tsp capers
¼ tsp kosher salt
1⁄8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450° F. Slice the tops off of the mini peppers and remove the seeds. Combine 2 tablespoons of the canola oil, bread, garlic, parsley, capers, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse to form a thin paste. If the mixture is runny, add more bread. If it is too thick, add more oil. Carefully stuff each pepper with the filling without puncturing the pepper. Fill each pepper to the top. Coat a small baking or loaf pan with 1 Tbsp of the oil. Lay the peppers in a single layer in the bottom of the pan. Drizzle the peppers with the remaining canola oil. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes on each side until the peppers are soft and slightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 servings

For more recipes and information, visit www.northerncanola.com.

*Recipe and image courtesy of NAPS.*

Protecting Kids from Bed Bugs in the School Environment

Whether you have young children in daycare or older kids that are already in school (or both) you may be somewhat concerned about the possibility that they could bring home bed bugs. These parasites not only cause itchy and painful bites as they feed on your blood, but they also spread rapidly since they are capable of traveling great distances. And since person-to-person or person-to-environment contact is how they spread, an infestation at school could mean a lot of kids bringing the little buggers home. So if you think there’s a possibility that bed bugs are present at school, there are a few steps you should take to protect your children.

1. Issue preventive information. Since most people are still unaware of the fact that bed bugs have had a resurgence over the last several years, many don’t have the foggiest notion of how to spot them or get rid of them. But this can be easily fixed by disseminating information. So contact your daycare or school to discuss sending out a flier to parents that addresses the signs of a bed bug infestation, how to exterminate the pests, and the plan of action for ensuring that the school and other households don’t become infected. Families that find bed bugs should keep kids home until the problem is resolved and inform the school so that they can mount their own efforts, as well as pass the information along to other parents.

2. Keep kids home. If you get a notice from the school about a bed bug incident, you may want to consider keeping your own child home until it has been resolved and the coast is clear. Of course, you should also begin your own home inspection. You can check mattresses for the bugs themselves, check your child for bites, and even hire a professional exterminator to come out and do an inspection for you.

3. Keep a clean house. Although it is difficult to prevent bed bugs from taking up residence in your home, you can exercise preventive measures by keeping your house clean with frequent vacuuming of plush surfaces (including mattresses). Nabbing these bugs before they get out of control is essential to stopping an infestation before it starts.

4. Wash clothing and linens in hot water. If you have found bed bugs or you think it is possible your child carried them home from school, do not hesitate to quarantine your child. Before he comes in the house, put his clothing and backpack in a plastic bag and dump them in the washing machine on the hot-water setting. Then check him from head to foot. While it is rare to find a bed bug on a person, it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility. If you do happen to find one, rubbing alcohol can be used to kill it.

5. Use steam. Bed bug steamers are the best option once you’ve found bed bugs in your home. You may also try organic pesticides in both powder and spray form, but high heat is the best way to kill them (and their eggs). Of course, if you simply can’t seem to get them all, you may have to toss mattresses, linens, and other plush items and call an exterminator to tent the house. But this should be a last resort since you probably don’t want to expose your child to those toxins.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson writes for bedbugs.org where you can find more information on what causes bed bugs and how to eliminate them.

A nutritious snack can be a smart way to provide kids with the energy needed for busy days — and the right snack may also help them maintain a healthy weight.

“Choosing nutrient-rich snacks can be a great way to maintain energy between meals,” says Sherry Coleman Collins, registered dietitian.

For example, peanuts can provide a welcome alternative to sugar and nutrient-deficient snacks. Preliminary research ­suggests that peanuts may help people feel full, which may help moderate appetite. Peanuts are a nutrient-rich superfood. They contain the most protein of any nut at seven grams per serving, and have more antioxidants than broccoli or green tea. Peanut butter is a good source of vitamin E and an excellent source of niacin, an essential vitamin that converts food to energy, both of which are important for proper growth and development. Try this tasty recipe!

Get-Up-and-Go Peanut Crunch Bars

Ingredients

2 cups GoLean Cereal (or other high-fiber cereal)
4 oz. peanuts, dry roasted w/salt, all types
1⁄4 cup cranberries, sweetened, dried
1⁄4 cup blueberries, dried
1⁄3 cup honey, strained or extracted
1⁄4 cup peanut butter, smooth
1 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp. peanut flour, defatted (optional)

Preparation

Prepare an 8” square dish by lightly spraying with nonstick spray or lining with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix cereal with peanuts, cranberries and blueberries and set aside. Stir together honey, peanut butter, brown sugar and peanut flour (if using) in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until the mixture is combined and pourable. All at once, add honey and peanut butter mixture to dry ingredients, stirring quickly to combine. Pour this mixture into the prepared pan, pressing into the pan with a silicone or lightly oiled spatula, and let cool completely. Once set up, turn out on a cutting board and cut into 12 equal-sized bars.

For more information, visit www.skinnyonnuts.com.

*Recipe and image courtesy of NAPS.*

Need to Lose Weight? Skip Calorie Counting & Burn Fat Instead

Losing weight has become a matter of life or death and counting calories, Weight Watcher points and fat grams hasn’t lessened the numbers of people affected. In 2010, more than 25 percent of Americans had pre-diabetes and another 1.9 million got a diabetes diagnosis, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The single most effective way for people to avoid the disease? Losing weight.

“The current obesity epidemic proves that the typical low-fat diet recommendations and low-calorie diets have not worked,” says Don Ochs, inventor of Mobanu Integrated Weight Loss Solution (www.Mobanu.com), a physician-recommended system that tailors diet and exercise to an individual’s fat-burning chemistry. “America is eating less fat per capita than we did 30 years ago, yet obesity, diabetes and heart disease are all up.”

To drop the weight and keep it off, people need to get rid of their stored fat by eating fewer processed carbohydrates and the correct amount of protein, and by doing both high and low-intensity exercises, Ochs says.

Here are some of his suggestions for getting started:

Eat what your ancestors ate – if it wasn’t available 10,000 years ago, you don’t need it now. Our bodies haven’t had time to adapt to the huge increase in processed carbohydrates over the past 100 years. These refined carbs kick up our blood sugar levels, which triggers insulin production, which results in fat storage. Avoid the regular no-no’s such as candy and soft drinks, but also stay away from sneaky, sugary condiments like ketchup; dried fruits, which have more concentrated sugar than their hydrated counterparts, and anything with high fructose corn syrup.

Eat the right kind of fat – it’s good for you! Bad fats include trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils. Look for these on labels. Trim excess fat from meats and stick with mono- and poly-unsaturated fats. Use olive oil for cooking, as salad dressing or on vegetables. Eat avocados, whole olives, nuts and seeds, and don’t be afraid to jazz up meals with a little butter or cheese.

Eat the proper amount of lean protein to maintain muscle mass and increase your metabolism. Eggs, beef, chicken, pork, seafood and dairy in the right amounts are good protein sources. Remember, most of these contain fat, so it shouldn’t be necessary to add more. Use the minimum amount needed to satisfy your taste buds. Also, anyone trying to lose weight should limit non-animal proteins, such as legumes, because they contribute to higher blood sugar levels and increased fat storage.

Vary your workouts to speed up fat loss. Both high-intensity and low-intensity exercises play a role in maximum fat loss. Low-intensity exercise, like walking, is effective for reducing insulin resistance so you store less fat. Alternate walking with high-intensity interval training to build lean muscle mass and increase your metabolism. Interval training can be cardio blasts such as running up stairs on some days and lifting weights on others. This type of exercise forces your body to burn up its glycogen – a readily accessible fuel for your muscles – faster than an equivalent amount of cardio exercise. When you’re done, your body will replenish that fuel by converting stored fat back into glycogen and you’ll lose weight.

“Healthy weight loss isn’t about picking a popular diet and trying to stick to it,” Ochs says. “It’s about discovering the right diet for your unique body. For each person, the optimal amount of carbohydrates, proteins and exercise to burn the most stored body fat will be different. And that’s why one-size-fits-all diets just don’t work.”

About Donald Ochs

Donald Ochs is a Colorado entrepreneur, the president and CEO of Ochs Development Co. and M4 Group, an inventor and sports enthusiast. He developed the Mobanu weight loss system based on research conducted at The Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health. The program is endorsed by physicians, nutritionists and exercise experts.

Oven Roast Chicken with Fresh Thyme and Honey Butter

Ingredients

One Small Chicken 2.5-3.5 lbs

Fresh Thyme and Honey Butter:

4 oz soft (room temperature) butter

1.5 Tbsp Honey

2 -3 Sprigs of Fresh thyme, picked from stem and chopped

1 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, chopped

1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)

Zest of 1 lemon (optional)

2 tsp Salt

1 tsp cracked pepper

Preparation

Rinse the chicken and pat dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Remove any loose fat and be sure inner cavity is completely dry.

For the butter mix all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl or food processor. The butter should be soft, not melted. Also, avoid any bits of stem from the thyme, use only the leaves. Set aside once complete.

With the cavity of the chicken facing you slide a finger under the skin. Starting with the breasts, gently create a pocket under the skin, taking care not to tear the skin. Next, separate the skin from the thighs with the tip of your finger.

With the cavity still facing you, use your fingers to spread the thyme honey butter under the skin in the pocket you have just created. Push the butter into the thighs and liberally across the breast; be gentle throughout this process.

Season the outside of the chicken and the inner cavity with salt and pepper. Tuck the wing tips behind themselves. Cover loosely with a paper towel and refrigerate.

To Roast the Chicken:

Preheat the oven to 475°

In a shallow roasting pan, place the chicken breast side up in the center of the oven. After about 30 minutes, baste the chicken with any pan dripping that have accumulated in the bottom of the roasting pan and turn the chicken over. Reduce the temperature to 450°. Roast for another 10 -20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken, then turn the bird over again and roast another 5-10 minutes. Overall cooking time should be 45-60 minutes. The skin should be crispy, golden brown and any juices running from the bird should be clear.

Carefully remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest 5 minutes. Lift the chicken from the pan and place on the center of a plate pour any pan dripping back over the chicken.

Serve while hot with oven roast potatoes and green beans for a delicious meal.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Dan Lorig of Honeydrop Beverages.*

 

Honda Civic Wins Green Car of 2012

Whereas a few short years ago it was odd to see a hybrid, electric, or alternative fuel vehicle on the road, and the only people driving eco-friendly cars were “tree-huggers” and “granola crunchers”, it is now considered both trendy and responsible to do your part for the environment by purchasing a vehicle that reduces your carbon footprint. Of course, many drivers have also discovered how much money they can save by selecting a car that runs on less (or no) petroleum. And with so many consumers clamoring for these types of cars, the competition has definitely increased. In fact, there are now so many options on the market for greener vehicles that the Green Car Journal holds an annual competition to name the “Green Car of the Year”. And for 2012, the Honda Civic Natural Gas gets the crown.

With the goal of presenting “environmental progress in the auto industry”, the Green Car Journal this year selected five vehicles to compete for the coveted Green Car of the Year Award. And the competition was stiff. The Civic was up against the Ford Focus Electric, the Mitsubishi i-Miev, the Toyota Prius v, and the Volkswagen Passat TDI. Each car came with a wealth of eco-friendly features and the judges (including noted designer Carroll Shelby, car enthusiast Jay Leno, Sierra Club chairman Carl Pope, and Natural Resource Defense Council president Frances Bienecke, amongst others) no doubt had a tough time deciding on a winner due to the variety of options presented.

The Ford Focus, for example, is a fully electric vehicle that comes with some excellent street cred after a few jaunts around the block, as well as eco-upgrades like the inclusion of soy foam and wood fiber parts and a charging unit that boasts 60% recycled materials. The Mitsubishi i-Miev is also a 100% emission-free electric model and it is not only uber-compact; it also comes with a very affordable price tag (under $30,000). While the Toyota Prius has long been a good option for environmentally-conscious drivers that need the range of a hybrid, the v offers a roomier cabin for families (with a wagon-style body) along with excellent fuel efficiency. And the turbocharged diesel that makes up the TDI portion of the new Volkswagen Passat means that drivers will get all the power they want at 40+ mpg (not to mention cleaner burning fuel).

So what make the Honda Civic the winner? There are a couple of bonuses to be found in this fantastic green vehicle. Although some may balk at the inclusion of natural gas, thinking it’s not as green as other alternatives, the truth is that it may have beat out the competition with the added value it offers American drivers. Not only does it come with nearly 40 mpg thanks to the electrical components that made the Civic hybrid a breakout hit nearly a decade ago; it is also an American-made vehicle that runs on natural gas resources found in abundance in – you guessed it – America. It has more than double the range of fully electric competitors (with a full tank of compressed natural gas), but each visit to the pump will save drivers approximately 30% over petroleum fuel products, making it a good buy in a recession economy.

Of course, the judges didn’t necessarily consider maintenance costs or compare car insurance quotes to see how each of these vehicles would stack up for a real-world driver. But in terms of the value offered to both the environment and the consumer market, it seems that the panel of experts has spoken. And the Honda Civic Natural Gas appears to be the best choice for eco-friendly drivers looking to upgrade in 2012.

Sweet, savory, decadent – this elegant dish courtesy of Dan Lorig of Honeydrop Beverages is rich in antioxidants and big on taste!

Honey Poached Pears with Gorgonzola and Hazelnuts

Ingredients

4 Pears

3 Cups White Wine

¾ Cup Honey

¼ Cup Lemon Juice

1 Star Anise

1 Cinnamon Stick

¼ Cup Honey

½ Cup Gorgonzola Cheese – Crumbled

¼ Cup Hazelnuts

Preparation

1. Carefully, core pears from the bottom, then peal and reserve in cold water with a few drops of lemon juice to prevent browning.

2. Combine the Wine, Honey (reserve ¼ cup), Lemon Juice and spices.

3. Place pears and honey mixture in a 2 -3 quart saucepot ensuring that the poaching liquid fully covers the pears.

4. Place a small oven safe dish on top of the pears to keep them submerged throughout the cooking process.

5. Poach the pears on medium heat and bring to a slow simmer. Continue poaching the pears for approximately 40 minutes or until they are fork tender.

6. Remove the pears from the honey liquid and refrigerate to cool (Discard the star anise and cinnamon stick.

7. Reduce the remaining liquid down to 1 cup.

8. Remove the reduction from the heat and add the remaining honey. Refrigerate to cool.

To Serve:

1. Place a chilled pear on a small chilled plate (trimming the bottom as necessary, for a flat surface).

2. Drizzle the chilled reduced poaching liquid on top of the pear and place the Gorgonzola and Hazelnuts around the plate to garnish.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Dan Lorig of Honeydrop Beverages*