Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Beef 'n' Potato Bake

I must admit that although I try to eat healthy most of the time, sometimes I just want to kick back and have some meat and potatoes. Actually this recipe I found from Parkay allowd me to indulge a bit without causing my cholesterol to go through the roof.

Beef 'n' Potato Bake

Makes: 10 servings

1 pound ground beef
1 cup minced onion
3/4 cup steak sauce
1-1/2 pounds long white potatoes, peeled and boiled
1/2 cup soft margarine
1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large skillet, cook and stir ground beef and onions for 4 to 5 minutes or until beef is no longer pink; drain. Add steak sauce; heat to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Spoon into 1 1/2 quart casserole. Mash potatoes with Parkay and milk until smooth. Spread mashed potato mixture evenly over beef mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until heated through.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

If You're a Woman, You Must Check Out This Web Site

Every once in a blue moon, a Web site comes along that really captivates me. I found such a Web site yesterday. The National Women’s Health Information Center’s Web site, www.womenshealth.gov, is an incredibly informative and fascinating Web site for women.

They have a quiz on their site that allows you to asses your risk for heart disease and read articles tailored to your risk. According to the directions for the quiz,

“…you will be escorted through a short, confidential survey of questions about your health and lifestyle. Based on your answers, we'll provide you with a series of articles detailing the latest information on exercise, nutrition, smoking, diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure and other factors that affect you and your risk for heart disease - all tailored to your needs.

We've designed a personalized web site because we believe you're better equipped to make changes to improve your health and quality of life when you receive materials that speak to you and your unique health concerns. Click above or below to continue reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease and begin enjoying the benefits of better health!”

I took the quiz and read all of the pertinent articles, and I really found all of the information was well-written, easy to understand and very helpful. The quiz only takes about three minutes and could save your life.

Check it out: http://www.womenshealth.gov/ForYourHeart Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Get Started!”

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Most Women at Risk for Heart Disease

The American Heart Association (AHA) released its 2007 guidelines intended to help women prevent heart disease. The major change this year is that the guidelines focus more on a woman’s lifetime risk rather than just her short-term risk, which was the case with the 2004 guidelines.

With one in three women dying from heart disease each year, this subject is no laughing matter. However, there are steps that each woman can take to reduce her risk for the deadly disease. A few highlights from the guidelines include:

Quit smoking.
Quitting this disgusting habit today can influence the rest of your life. The AHA guidelines recommend counseling, nicotine replacement and/or other forms of smoking cessation assistance. If you don’t smoke, that’s wonderful but you should also avoid inhaling secondhand smoke, which can also be hazardous to you health.

All women should exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Women who need to lose weight or maintain their weight loss are advised to exercise between 60 to 90 minutes a day for most days of the day.

Heart healthy diets are important. This should include fruits, whole grains, vegetables and foods with fiber. Women should limit their consumption of alcohol and watch their sodium intake. Margarine can also be a part of this heart healthy diet and should be used in place of butter.

Women over the age of 65 should take low-dose aspirin daily. If you’re not of this age, you don’t need to take aspirin but in women 65 and older, the medicine has been shown help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Ladies, it’s important to reduce your risk for heart disease today! Don’t wait until tomorrow.

For more information about the AHA and its 2007 guidelines, visit http://heart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3045524.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Napping May Benefit the Heart

A new study indicates that taking a midday nap may reduce your risk for heart disease. This study proves to be very good news for me as I’m a firm believer in the nap! The study examined more than 23,000 people from Greece with no history of heart disease, stroke or cancer and followed participants for more than 6 years. Researcher Dimitrios Trichopoulos, MD and his colleagues chose to study people from Greece because people living in Mediterranean and Latin American countries have fewer deaths due to heart diseases, which may be due to their traditions of taking siestas during the day.

The results showed that participants who napped at least three times a week for an average of 30 minutes were 37 percent less likely to die of heart disease than those who did not take regular naps. Researchers hypothesize that taking a nap during the day may help to reduce stress.

“The siesta is a victim of progress. Most of us aren’t in the position to take a daily nap,” says Trichopoulos. “But our research suggests that the practice could help protect the heart, and we need further studies to find out if this is really the case.”

Hmm, so who wants to be the one to let me boss know that it’s really in my best interest to take naps during the day? Think he’ll go for it? Me neither!

Monday, February 12, 2007

10 Tips for a Heart Healthy Refrigerator

In honor of National Heart Month, here are 10 tips for a heart healthy refrigerator, courtesy of healthyfridge.org:

Take stock of what's inside. Once a month, pull everything out and separate the better-for-you foods from the rest. Make sure you have more low-fat, high-fiber and low sugar foods than other types, and, if not, consider gradually reducing the number. Choose more low-fat and fat-free dressings, condiments, sauces and tablespreads instead of full-fat ones.

Hide desserts. Stow away desserts and other indulgent foods in the crisper, so they're “out of sight, out of mind. ” Most of the time, healthier foods like fruits and vegetables are the ones that perish the quickest and, therefore, should be kept on the refrigerator shelf where you can see and eat them.(Americans on average waste about $10 a week on produce that spoils.)

Organize by “more ” and “less. ” Divide your refrigerator into different sections of “choose more often ” and “choose less often. ” This could be by shelf or within the shelf, always keeping healthier foods up front and less-healthy foods toward the back.

Substitute lower-fat foods for higher-fat ones. Some examples include skim or 1% milk for whole milk; soft margarine for butter; and lean meats, chicken and fish for ribs, ground meat and other fattier meats. A simple substitution like soft margarine for butter over a week's time can save you an entire day's worth of saturated fat.

Make healthy eating fun for the family by color-coding foods with stars or heart stickers - use green for heart-healthy, and red for less healthy.

Make healthy food appealing. Keep an indulgent topping or accompaniment next to a healthy food to make it more appetizing. Next time you want a snack, you'll be more likely to eat something healthy if the mixed nuts are next to the low-fat yogurt, or the chocolate syrup is beside the skim milk, ready to be mixed together.

Prepare leftovers as a meal for the next day. Put the entree with the vegetables and other side items on a plate and cover for the next day's lunch or dinner to create a do-it-yourself balanced “TV ” dinner.

Prepare foods as “ready to eat ” meals when you come home from grocery shopping. Cut up vegetables and fruits and store them in containers, so they'll be ready for the next meal or when you come looking for a ready-to-eat snack.

Freeze foods in portion sizes to make healthy eating easier. Did you know the recommended serving of cooked meat is 3 ounces, similar in size to a deck of playing cards? The standard serving size for pasta is one cup (or the size of a Walkman) and half a cup for vegetables (about the size of a tennis ball).

Freeze fruit for fun. Freeze fruits such as bananas, grapes and orange slices to make them more fun to eat for children. Next time they want a sweet snack offer them frozen fruit rather than ice cream

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Delicious Spinach Wrap Ups

I’ve really been making a conscious effort to take care of my body lately. That means exercising every morning before work, taking my vitamins and eating well.

I’m not going to go haywire on my eating habits and consume barley and wheatgrass but I’m trying new recipes that incorporate fruits, vegetable, whole grains and of course, margarine! The following recipe contains two of my favorite goodies: margarine and spinach. Ever since the recent spinach scare people have been avoiding it like the plague but it’s perfectly safe to consume. If you buy it fresh, just make sure to wash it well like you would do with any vegetable. I tried these wrap ups last night and they’re delicious and very easy to make!

Spinach Wrap Ups

Yield: 1 servings
1 Stick of margarine
1/3 cups Water
2 cups Pepperidge Farm herb Stuffing mix
1 cups Parmesan cheese
2 package Frozen chopped spinach
(cooked and well drained)
½ lb Mild sausage
2 Eggs, slightly beaten
1 lb Bacon

Melt butter in the water; stir in stuffing, add the rest of the ingredients. Chill for 1 hour. Shape into walnut size balls. Cut bacon into 4 pieces and wrap balls, securing with toothpicks. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Retired NFL Linemen at High Risk for Heart Disease

As I’m sure many of you know the Colts defeated the Bears last night in the Super Bowl XLI. Despite the weather, I thought it was a great game and very action-packed. I was never really a big football fan until I went to college, where football was an integral part of student life.

As I was searching for news on the Super Bowl the other day, I came upon this article from HealthDay. According to a study conducted by Dr. Arthur Roberts, Ex-NFL Linemen are at high risk for a serious and life-threatening condition called metabolic syndrome. Symptoms of metabolic syndrome include enlarged heart, sleep apnea, abdominal obesity and high blood pressure.

I’ve never really thought about it before but linemen in the NFL are huge, typically weighing at least 300 pounds. Such a high body weight can put them at risk for serious health conditions. Although these men are incredibly muscular while playing in the NFL, once they reduce their activity level, the muscle often turns to fat.

Dr. Roberts screened 550 retired NFL linemen and found that 52.2 percent had metabolic syndrome, meaning they have three or more of the following health conditions: abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol.

Metabolic syndrome is not a health condition to be taken lightly. These retired players need to take some serious steps to improving their health. Eating properly and exercising are two effective steps that can not only reduce the risk for metabolic syndrome, but also for numerous other diseases too.

Hmm, maybe I should send these guys a tub of soft margarine?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I Heart You

February is a month of romance and love. But, did you know that it’s also National Heart Month? Since 1963, February has been designated as the month to raise public awareness about the risks of heart disease. In honor of this very special month, About.com has offered some tips to help you reduce your risk for heart disease:
  1. Limit your intake of fat
  2. Choose heart-healthy fats over saturated fats and trans fats
  3. Limit your intake of sugars
  4. Limit your intake of sodium/salt
  5. Choose more whole grains, legumes, fresh produce and low fat dairy products
  6. Choose lean meat and poultry
  7. Include fish in your diet
  8. Exercise portion control
  9. Become physically active for 30 to 60 minutes a day
  10. Stop smoking
  11. Limit your intake of alcohol

One thing you can do to ensure your heart stays healthy is to consume polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in soft margarine. These good fats have been found to reduce cholesterol levels, which reduces your risk for heart disease. Soft margarine is also loaded with beneficial vitamins that can help improve your health.

As I’ve told you time and time again, heart disease is the number killer among both men and women. It doesn’t have to be that way folks. By watching what you eat and taking a few simple precautions, you can help reduce the prevalence of heart disease and make your life long-lasting and fulfilled.