When our children were younger, spaghetti for dinner was a weekly event. It was quick, cheap and somewhat healthy. Even though the kids are grown, hubby and I still enjoy our spaghetti dinners (albeit not as often.)

Currently, I’m doing a Whole 30 challenge which excludes the eating of grains. How can one eat spaghetti without noodles? The answer: Spaghetti Squash.

Before I share my healthy version of spaghetti, please know that I’m a super picky eater and it is a struggle for me to eat my vegetables. If I’m truly honest, if it weren’t for the Whole 30, I would have never tried spaghetti squash. Now, that I’ve tried it~I like it and plan on incorporating it more into our meal plan.

The VP Version of Healthy Spaghetti

1 Spaghetti Squash
1 Jar of Organic Spaghetti Sauce (Or Marinara Sauce)
1 Can of Roasted Tomatoes
1 lb of Ground Turkey
1 TBSP Italian Seasoning
2 tsp of garlic salt (or 1 to 2 garlic cloves)

In a skillet, cook ground turkey until brown and crumbly. While turkey is browning, empty jar of spaghetti sauce (marinara sauce), can of tomatoes, 1 TBSP Italian Seasoning and garlic into your crock pot. Add turkey after it’s browned. I find the flavor of our spaghetti sauce is greatly enhanced if it simmers in the crock pot. I typically make my sauce the day before, chill overnight and start crock pot in the morning (low setting) right before I leave for work. The sauce is hot and waiting when we get home from work.

Now, all we have to do is cook the spaghetti squash. There are several ways to cook spaghetti squash. Last night I used my Instant Pot. I washed off the outside of my squash, sliced the squash in half, scooped out the seeds, placed the squash cut side up in my Instant Pot, added 1 cup of water, put the lid on to seal, and used the manual setting for 7 minutes. After Instant Pot beeped, I Wwaited for pressure to release 5 to 10 minutes. Then I took the squash out of the Instant Pot and forked the inside of the squash to look like spaghetti. Placed spaghetti squash on my plate and added my sauce….DELISH! (and healthy too!)

Have you ever tried spaghetti squash? If so, did you like it?



Don’t Let Glaucoma Steal Your Sight!

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, but half of people with glaucoma don’t know they have it. 

Know the Facts

  • Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the eye’s optic nerve and can result in vision loss and even blindness.
  • It is the 2nd leading cause of blindness worldwide with about 3 million Americans have glaucoma.
  • Open-angle glaucoma, the most common form, results in increased eye pressure. There are often no early symptoms, which is why 50% of people with glaucoma don’t know they have the disease.
  • There is no cure (yet) for glaucoma, but if it’s caught early, you can preserve your vision and prevent vision loss. Taking action to preserve your vision health is key.

Know Your Risk

Anyone can get glaucoma, but certain groups are at higher risk. These groups include

African Americans over age 40
All people over age 60
People with a family history of glaucoma
People who have diabetes.

African Americans are 6 to 8 times more likely to get glaucoma than whites. People with diabetes are 2 times more likely to get glaucoma than people without diabetes.

Healthy behavior will help you avoid vision loss from glaucoma.

Take Action

There are many steps you can take to help protect your eyes and lower your risk of vision loss from glaucoma.

  • If you are in a high-risk group, get a comprehensive dilated eye exam to catch glaucoma early and start treatment. Prescription eye drops can stop glaucoma from progressing. Your eye care specialist will recommend how often to return for follow-up exams. Medicare covers a glaucoma test once a year for people in high-risk groups.
  • Even if you are not in a high-risk group, getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam by the age of 40 can help catch glaucoma and other eye diseases early.
  • Open-angle glaucoma does not have symptoms and is hereditary, so talk to your family members about their vision health to help protect your eyes—and theirs.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure, being physically active, and avoiding smoking will help you avoid vision loss from glaucoma. These healthy behaviors will also help prevent type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.
You and your eye care specialist are a team. Tell them about any side effects of treatment.

Manage and Treat

Vision loss from glaucoma usually affects peripheral vision (what you can see on the side of your head when looking ahead) first. Later, it will affect your central vision, which is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks like reading and driving.

Glaucoma is treated with eye drops, oral medicine, or surgery (or a combination of treatments) to reduce pressure in the eye and prevent permanent vision loss. Take medicine as prescribed, and tell your eye care specialist about any side effects. You and your doctor are a team. If laser or surgical procedures are recommended to reduce the pressure in your eye, make sure to schedule regular follow-up visits to continue to monitor eye pressure.

Some people with glaucoma have low vision, which means they have a hard time doing routine activities even with the help of glasses or contacts.

This year, take steps towards protecting your eyes and the vision health of your loved ones by learning about glaucoma and other eye diseases. Know the facts, know the risks, and take action. 

Article Source: CDC
Photo Credit: Amanda Mills

When it comes to increasing physical activity~the number one excuse we hear as wellness coaches~you guessed it, “NO TIME!”

The second excuse we hear is “It’s too cold to go outside in the winter.”

We agree~There never seems to be enough time and winter in South Dakota makes it a challenge to exercise outside.

That’s why we are excited to share with you the 7-Minute Workout Challenge.

Instructions are easy! Perform each movement for 30 seconds, followed by a 10-second rest. Repeat for all 12 movements.

  1. Jumping Jacks
  2. Wall Squat
  3. Push-Ups
  4. Crunches
  5. Step-Ups
  6. Bodyweight Squats
  7. Triceps Dips
  8. Planks
  9. High Knees Running in Place
  10. Front Lunges
  11. Side Plank Push-Ups
  12. Side Planks

What do you think? Can you find 7 minutes in your day to do this workout?


What is Cervical Cancer?

Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later.

When cancer starts in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. The cervix connects the vagina (birth canal) to the upper part of the uterus. The uterus (or womb) is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant.

Cervical cancer is highly preventable in most Western countries because screening tests and a vaccine to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are available. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and good quality of life.

What Are the Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer?

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed from one person to another during sex. There are many types of HPV. Some HPV types can cause changes on a woman’s cervix that can lead to cervical cancer over time, while other types can cause genital or skin warts.

HPV is so common that most people get it at some time in their lives. HPV usually causes no symptoms so you can’t tell that you have it. For most women, HPV will go away on its own; however, if it does not, there is a chance that over time it may cause cervical cancer.

Other things can increase your risk of cervical cancer—

  • Smoking.
  • Having HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) or another condition that makes it hard for your body to fight off health problems.
  • Using birth control pills for a long time (five or more years).
  • Having given birth to three or more children.
  • Having several sexual partners.

What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk of Cervical Cancer?

  1. The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that may become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. You should start getting Pap tests at age 21.
  2. The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.

The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to have regular screening tests starting at age 21.

If your Pap test results are normal, your chance of getting cervical cancer in the next few years is very low. For that reason, your doctor may tell you that you will not need another Pap test for as long as three years. If you are 30 years old or older, you may choose to have an HPV test along with the Pap test. If both test results are normal, your doctor may tell you that you can wait five years to have your next Pap test. But you should still go to the doctor regularly for a checkup.

For women aged 21–65, it is important to continue getting a Pap test as directed by your doctor—even if you think you are too old to have a child or are not having sex anymore. However, if you are older than 65 and have had normal Pap test results for several years, or if you have had your cervix removed as part of a total hysterectomy for a non-cancerous condition, like fibroids, your doctor may tell you that you do not need to have a Pap test anymore.

Getting an HPV Vaccine

Two HPV vaccines are available to protect females against the types of HPV that cause most cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. Both vaccines are recommended for 11- and 12-year-old girls, and for females 13 through 26 years of age who did not get any or all of the shots when they were younger. These vaccines also can be given to girls as young as 9 years of age. It is recommended that females get the same vaccine brand for all three doses, whenever possible. It is important to note that women who are vaccinated against HPV still need to have regular Pap tests to screen for cervical cancer.

More Steps to Help Prevent Cervical Cancer

These things may also help lower your risk for cervical cancer—

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Use condoms during sex.*
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.

*HPV infection can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that are not covered. While the effect of condoms in preventing HPV infection is unknown, condom use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer.

What Are the Symptoms of Cervical Cancer?

Early on, cervical cancer may not cause signs and symptoms. Advanced cervical cancer may cause bleeding or discharge from the vagina that is not normal for you, such as bleeding after sex. If you have any of these signs, see your doctor. They may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor.

For more information on Cervical Cancer diagnosis and treatment visit: National Institute of Health.

Source: www.cdc.gov

Hello and Happy Thursday!

Did you look at the forecast for the weekend? Looks like it will be perfect temps to get outside and get some fresh air?

Here are a few of our favorite outside winter activities.

  • Ice skating
  • Walking our dogs
  • Sledding
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Hiking
  • Having a winter bonfire and making s’mores
  • Snowshoeing
  • Building a snow fort
  • Snowball fights
  • Birdwatching
  • Ice Fishing
  • Going on a winter picnic.
  • Snowmobiling
  • Making snow paint or ice candles
  • Making an obstacle course for the kids in the yard.
  • Going on a photo expedition
  • Sitting on our deck, wrapped in a blanket, sipping tea

Life’s too short and winter’s often too long. Let’s embrace our winter and enjoy the outdoors. What’s your favorite winter activity?