One of my favorite things about fall….apples, apples, apples.

Did you know that apples are one of the healthiest foods to eat? They are extremely rich in important antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fiber. The phytonutrients and antioxidants in apples may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease.

Mini Peanut Butter and Apple Sandwich Recipe

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of sea salt
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray
1/4 cup raisins
4 medium apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 300° F.
  2. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Combine orange juice, honey and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in oil and vanilla.
  4. Pour honey mixture over oat mixture, stirring to coat. Spread mixture in a thin layer onto a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring well halfway through.
  5. Stir in raisins and let cool completely.
  6. To assemble sandwiches, core each apple and cut into ¼-inch slices (8 slices per apple). If you won’t be eating these right away, brush the apples slices with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown. Spread two teaspoons of peanut butter on eight apple slices then sprinkle with granola. Top with remaining apple slices, pressing down gently to make the sandwiches.

Sweet Potato Apple Cinnamon Muffins

1 sweet potato
2 large apples, cored and chopped into 1 cm pieces
2 1/4 cups whole rolled oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup coconut sugar

Preparation

  1. Bake the sweet potato in the oven at 375° F for about one hour or until it is tender. Alternatively, you can microwave it until it is tender. Set aside. Cut the apples into 1 cm pieces. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Put the rolled oats in a food processor or high speed blender and process until the oats resemble flour (about 1 minute). Put the flour in a large mixing bowl. Put chia seeds in a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons water and stir (it will form a gel). Set aside. Remove the skin of the baked sweet potato and add the flesh to the food processor or blender (no need to clean it out from the flour). Add up to 1/4 cup water and process until smooth. Set aside.
  3.  Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon to the bowl of oat flour and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix the melted coconut oil, coconut sugar and chia seed gel and mix very well. Then, mix in 1 cup of sweet potato puree.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in the apple chunks. Divide the batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle with oats and a bit of coconut sugar, if you like.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Enjoy them fresh out of the oven or store them in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Recipe Source: http://dailyburn.com/life/recipes/healthy-apple-recipes/

Bone Health for Life: Health Information Basics for You and Your Family

Why Does Bone Health Matter?

Our bones support us and allow us to move. They protect our brain, heart, and other organs from injury. Our bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorous, which help keep our bones strong, and release them into the body when we need them for other uses.

There are many things we can do to keep our bones healthy and strong. Eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, getting plenty of exercise, and having good health habits help keep our bones healthy.

But if we don’t eat right and don’t get enough of the right kinds of exercise, our bones can become weak and even break. Broken bones (called fractures) can be painful and sometimes need surgery to heal. They can also cause long-lasting health problems.

But the good news is that it is never too late to take care of your bones.

What Can I Do to Make My Bones Healthier?

It is never too early or too late to take care of your bones. The following steps can help you improve your bone health:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. Good sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products, and foods and drinks with added calcium. Good sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and milk with vitamin D. Some people may need to take nutritional supplements in order to get enough calcium and vitamin D. The charts below show how much calcium and vitamin D you need each day. Fruits and vegetables also contribute other nutrients that are important for bone health.

Sources of Calcium

  • Tofu (calcium fortified)
  • Soy milk (calcium fortified)
  • Green leafy vegetables (e.g., broccoli, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, kale)
  • Chinese cabbage or bok choy
  • Beans/legumes
  • Tortillas
  • Sardines/salmon with edible bones
  • Shrimp
  • Orange juice (calcium fortified)
  • Pizza
  • Bread
  • Nuts/almonds
  • Dairy products (e.g., milk, cheese, yogurt)
  • Get plenty of physical activity. Like muscles, bones become stronger with exercise. The best exercises for healthy bones are strength-building and weight-bearing, like walking, climbing stairs, lifting weights, and dancing. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise each day.
  • Live a healthy lifestyle. Don’t smoke, and, if you choose to drink alcohol, don’t drink too much.
  • Talk to your doctor about your bone health. Go over your risk factors with your doctor and ask if you should get a bone density test. If you need it, your doctor can order medicine to help prevent bone loss and reduce your chances of breaking a bone.
  • Prevent falls. Falling down can cause a bone to break, especially in someone with osteoporosis. But most falls can be prevented. Check your home for dangers like loose rugs and poor lighting. Have your vision checked. Increase your balance and strength by walking every day and taking classes like Tai Chi, yoga, or dancing.

From personal experience, on the weeks that I have a meal plan (and follow it)…I save time and money. When I first started meal planning, I’d get lost. Every meal plan I saw was super detailed and frankly was just too difficult for me to attempt to implement into our family schedule. The method I found that works best is my family calendar. On Sunday afternoons, I sit down with our family calendar. I review the upcoming week’s events, paying special attention to days that are heavy with meetings and/or have evening activities. I then take a look at what’s in our freezer, refrigerator, and pantry. Based on the day activities, I start planning on meals. Nothing fancy…here’s an example of our meals for the last week:

Sunday: Grill Out Sirloin Stk and baby potatoes in the Instant Pot (Make extra potatoes)
Monday: Grilled Chicken Breast (Make extra for lunches)
Tuesday: BLT’s, add a chicken breast for extra protein.
Wednesday: Hamburgers on grill
Thursday: Dice Potatoes from Sunday, add to 7 eggs (scrambled), 3 slices of bacon (left from Tuesday evening), 1/2 cup almond milk (or real milk), 1/2 cup low fat shredded cheese, seasonings to taste. Mix all together and bake in oven at 35o for 30 min.
Friday: Pizza Night (Naan Bread, pizza sauce, toppings)
Saturday: Salmon on Grill

When time permits, I add a new recipe every other week.

Here are a few other tips for Meal Planning:

  1. Create a list of family favorite recipes
  2. Create a list of 15 minute or less recipes (Instant Pot is awesome for this.)
  3. Consider theme nights like Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Fish Friday
  4. Choose a day to do your meal planning and a day to do your grocery shopping
  5. Ideally, it would be nice to plan your meals around what’s on sale
  6. Try to cook once, use twice. Prepare meals that have leftovers.
  7. When starting out, keep it simple.

How about you? Do you meal plan? If so, what are some of your tips?

When doing some research on Home Eye Safety Month, I came across an article on blue light. I was vaguely familiar with blue light and I was curious, so I did a bit more research. How about you, have you heard about blue light before?

Here is what I learned:

Sunlight is made up of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet light. When combined, it becomes the white light we see. (How cool is that!)

Where are you exposed to blue light?

The largest source of blue light is sunlight. In addition, there are many other sources:

  •  Fluorescent light
  •  CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs
  •  LED light
  • Flat screen LED televisions
  • Computer monitors, smart phones, and tablet screens

Blue light exposure you receive from screens is small compared to the amount of exposure from the sun. And yet, there is concern over the long-term effects of screen exposure because of the close proximity of the screens and the length of time spent looking at them. According to a recent NEI-funded study, children’s eyes absorb more blue light than adults from digital device screens.

What are the benefits of blue light? Blue light is needed for good health:

• It boosts alertness, helps memory and cognitive function and elevates mood.

• It regulates circadian rhythm – the body’s natural wake and sleep cycle. Exposure to blue light during daytime hours helps maintain a healthful circadian rhythm. Too much exposure to blue light late at night (through smart phones, tablets, and computers) can disturb the wake and sleep cycle, leading to problems sleeping and daytime tiredness.

• Not enough exposure to sunlight in children could affect the growth and development of the eyes and vision. Early studies show a deficiency in blue light exposure could contribute to the recent increase in myopia/nearsightedness.

How does blue light affect the eye?

Almost all visible blue light passes through the cornea and lens and reaches the retina. This light may affect vision and could prematurely age the eyes. Early research shows that too much exposure to blue light could lead to:

Digital eyestrain: Blue light from computer screens and digital devices can decrease contrast leading to digital eyestrain. Fatigue, dry eyes, bad lighting, or how you sit in front of the computer can cause eyestrain. Symptoms of eyestrain include sore or irritated eyes and difficulty focusing.

Retina damage: Studies suggest that continued exposure to blue light over time could lead to damaged retinal cells. This can cause vision problems like age-related macular degeneration.

What can you do to protect your eyes from blue light?

If constant exposure to blue light from smart phones, tablets, and computer screens is an issue, there are a few ways to decrease exposure to blue light:

Filters: Screen filters are available for smart phones, tablets, and computer screens. They decrease the amount of blue light given off from these devices that could reach the retina in our eyes.

Computer glasses: Computer glasses with yellow-tinted lenses that block blue light can help ease computer digital eye strain by increasing contrast.

Anti-reflective lenses: Anti-reflective lenses reduce glare and increase contrast and also block blue light from the sun and digital devices.

Intraocular lens (IOL): After cataract surgery, the cloudy lens will be replaced with an intraocular lens (IOL).The lens naturally protects the eye from almost all ultraviolet light and some blue light.There are types of IOL that can protect the eye and retina from blue light.

Talk to an eye care professional about options about ways to protect your family and your eyes from blue light.

Article Source: Prevent Blindness.Org