Healthy Super Bowl Noshes

January 30, 2014

If you’re hosting a Super Bowl gathering or going to a friend’s place to watch the big game, you’ll probably want to prepare an appetizer or two to share with others during the event. Foods that are typically served at sporting events are often high in calories, sodium, and fat, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Read on for low-cost, healthy versions of popular Super Bowl noshes.

Make your own popcorn. Did you know that popcorn is a whole grain? Popcorn can be a healthy choice if it is prepared the right way. Try preparing your own stove top popcorn. Avoid adding extra fat (butter) and salt; instead, add your own spices for flavor.

Lighten up your buffalo wings. Bake your buffalo wings instead of frying them to cut calories and fat. Serve this Baked Buffalo Wings recipe with blue cheese dip and see if your friends notice the difference. If you want to try a delicious vegetarian option, try this Healthy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites recipe!

Make your own guacamole. It’s actually quite easy to make guacamole at home. This homemade guacamole recipe is simple and won’t break the bank. If you want to be extra adventurous, make your own tortilla chips to go with it!

Serve mini taco meatballs. Imagine the best part of a taco in appetizer form. This mini taco meatballs recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make. This healthy app is packed with flavor!

Make your own healthy pizzas. Pizza is a wonderful low-cost meal that can feed many people without costing a lot of money. Whip up Pesto Pizza with Sliced Tomatoes and a Barbecue Chicken Pizza. If these two options aren’t your style, pick your favorite pizza toppings and create your own recipe!

There are many different ways to re-create your favorite dishes in a healthy way without sacrificing taste. Make one or two of these low-cost Super Bowl snacks and you’re sure to receive compliments from your guests!

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“Kick butt” in 2014!

January 15, 2014

It’s still early in the new year, which means it’s a great time to start creating some new, healthy habits. Quitting tobacco is one of the best things you can do for your health. Some benefits happen quickly, such as your blood pressure improving, and other benefits occur over time, such as lowering your risk for lung cancer, your teeth and nails being whiter, and more.

Quitting tobacco may seem like a daunting goal, especially if you have been smoking for a long time. Luckily, you don’t have to go through the quitting process alone. There are many free and low-cost resources that can help you quit. Check out our comprehensive list of resources, including written information about quitting tobacco, online resources for help, smartphone apps, how to obtain individualized counseling, in-depth information about smoking cessation medications, and more.

Your employer
Your employer may be a great resource to help you quit smoking. Many employers offer free tobacco cessation programs as part of the employee benefits package. Talk to your benefits or human resources team to find out what’s offered at your workplace.  Also, ask your employer if they subsidize nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine gum or the nicotine patch (if they don’t, check online–you may be able to find coupons to use on these products).

Your doctor
Mention to your doctor that you’re interested in quitting smoking.  Your doctor can provide you with recommendations and resources that can help you quit.
Cancer.org
Click here for a ton of really cool resources, including a cigarette cost calculator (you may be shocked at how much money you’re spending on cigarettes over time), “desktop helpers” that can help you plan your quit day and deal with cravings, and more.

National Cancer Institute resources:
NCI Smoking Quitline at 1–877–44U–QUIT (1–877–448–7848) provides individualized counseling, printed information, and referrals to other sources.
View this NCI fact sheet, “Where To Get Help When You Decide To Quit Smoking”: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/tobacco/help-quitting

http://www.smokefree.gov/ is a Web site created by NCI’s Tobacco Control Research Branch; check out their Step-by-Step Quit Guide.
Get the Smokefree QuitGuide app for your smartphone: http://www.smokefree.gov/apps/

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/GuidetoQuittingSmoking/index
Their website includes a guide to quitting smoking.
You can also call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/QuitSmoking/Quit-Smoking_UCM_001085_SubHomePage.jsp
1-800-AHA-USA1

BecomeAnEX.org
http://www.becomeanex.org/
This website features a free, online plan to help you quit smoking.

American Lung Association
http://www.lungusa.org/
1-800-LUNG-USA

Other resources:
“Help for Smokers and Other Tobacco Users” is a free booklet created by the US Department of Health and Human Services packed with tips on how to quit:
http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/tobacco/helpsmokers.htm

“FDA 101: Smoking Cessation Products” is an article put out by the Food and Drug Administration that discusses the variety of approved products, both over-the-counter and prescription, that can help you quit smoking.
http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm198176.htm

For more help finding free and/or low-cost resources, read the Healthcare Survival Guide!


Low-Cost, Family-Friendly Outdoor Winter Activities

January 3, 2014

Baby, it’s cold outside! But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun outdoors. Whether you live in a sunny or snowy locale, there’s sure to be an idea on this list that’s perfect for you and your family to do together. And best of all, these ideas are inexpensive—and many are even free!

Play in the snow

If you live somewhere where there’s snow, take advantage! Bundle up and go be active outdoors. Here are some simple ideas:

  • Make snowmen. Be sure to gather dark rocks for eyes and button details, sticks for arms, a carrot for the nose, and perhaps even a scarf for decoration (snowmen get chilly, too!).
  • Make maple snow candy. Click here for an easy recipe.
  • See what else you can make with snow! Older kids can build a snow fort, while younger children may prefer to make snow angels.

 

Get in touch with nature

Not every animal hibernates during the winter, nor do all birds fly south. Go outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature!

  • Go bird-watching. It’s especially easy to see birds when there are fewer leaves on the trees. Find out what types of birds visit your area during the winter. Go for a walk and see if you can spot and identify any birds. Here is a reference that can help you identify the types of birds you’re seeing.
  • Check out animal tracks. If it snowed recently, and you live in an area where animals roam, you may be able to spot some tracks in the snow. See if you can identify any deer, rabbit, squirrel, or raccoon tracks around your property. This guide can help you identify what tracks you’re seeing.
  • Make a bird feeder for the backyard. Put out a tasty treat for your feathered friends. There are many types of bird feeders you can make using materials you already have around your home. Check out these easy, inexpensive ideas.
  • Take a walk. Enjoy the winter wonderland around you—the smells of cozy fires burning in people’s fireplaces, the winter sights (majestic pine trees, deer walking through fields, and many more), and the crisp, clean air.
  • Take pictures of snowy landscapes. Although snow and ice isn’t fun to scrape off your car, it looks beautiful on trees and rooftops. Capture the winter scenery with your camera!

 

Kindnesses

Consider taking a little time out of your day to do something nice for a neighbor or friend who lives nearby. It’ll bring a little cheer to their day, and it’ll make you feel good, too!

  • Shoveling a friend’s driveway or sidewalk. Shoveling snow is good exercise that engages many muscles. Plus, keeping sidewalks and driveways clear of snow and ice can also help prevent falls.
  • Raking a neighbor’s leaves. This, too, is a good source of exercise, and it helps make the neighborhood look nicer.
  • Volunteer. Visit your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter and lend a helping hand. Shelters and soup kitchens are often more crowded when the weather is cold, so an extra volunteer will surely be appreciated!
  • Give animals some love, too. See if your local animal shelter needs volunteers, or offer to walk your neighbor’s dogs.

 

For more healthy, low-cost tips and ideas, be sure to check out the Healthcare Survival Guide!