4 Fun, Healthy Lunches for Work

Bored with the same old salad you bring every day for lunch, but don’t want to spend the extra money on take-out? To stave off boredom, look for ways to make lunch more interesting. Here are some fun, healthy lunches for work.

1. Mason Jar Salads

It’s time to remake your salad. Mason jar salads give you your leafy greens and protein all in one container. Prepare these salads in advance so you can grab one from the fridge in the morning as you’re headed out the door.

The key to a successful Mason jar salad is the order in which the ingredients are layered. Make sure the dressing goes in first so your salad doesn’t get soggy. Then, add your protein with chunks of chicken or a grain like quinoa. Next come toppings such as dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and nuts. Leafy greens top off the jar. When you’re ready to eat, pour your salad into a bowl and enjoy.

2. Muffin Tin Meals

Cooking smaller versions of your favorite recipes in a muffin tin gives you an easy-to-transport meal and helps you control your portions. Spend some time on the weekend making things like mini lasagna, chicken pot pies or a similar recipe suggested by The Huffington Post. Throughout the week, pack these handy meals for your lunch. They heat up quickly and don’t always require a knife and fork to eat. You can even freeze many of these recipes for future meals.

3. Copycat Recipes

You can make some of your favorite restaurant meals right at home. This lets you control the portion size and the ingredients so you know exactly what you’re eating. For example, Gimme Delicious suggests a recipe that is similar to Chipotle’s burrito bowl and is extremely easy to make on a bed of brown rice. Another great set of healthy lunches for work are Panera Bread‘s broth bowls, which are filled with healthy ingredients, very simple to recreate and all under 400 calories.

4. Lose the Bread

When it comes to lunch, many people resort to a sandwich. But instead of bread, put slices of lunch meat and cheese between two hollowed-out pieces of cucumber. You might even spread peanut butter on various pairs of apple slices and squeeze raisins or nuts in between. Or, use lettuce as a wrapper for a tasty filling in your own turkey tacos.

 

Don’t let lunch be the same every day. Have fun with these healthy lunches for work and you’ll be more productive, in better health and have more money in your pocket.

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.

Managing Asthma with Your Diet

Did you know that eating a more balanced diet can do more than just slim your waistline? It could help you breathe better, too. If you have asthma, research has shown that certain foods can open restricted airways and reduce inflammation.

Here’s a list of foods that could help you manage your asthma:

Follow a Mediterranean Diet

You’ve probably heard about the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, which includes fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts. Absent from this list are red meat, margarine and processed foods, according to EatingWell, as they contain the saturated fat that interferes with blood flow.

Items in the Mediterranean diet also have anti-inflammatory properties, which is important for those suffering from asthma since it’s a disease of lung inflammation. Look for freshly grown vegetables and fruits from your local farmers’ market this fall, such as beets, carrots, kale and apples.

Get Vitamins with Fruits and Vegetables

By eating a range of fruits and vegetables, you’ll get an ample amount of vitamins. Mayo Clinic suggests those who receive higher servings of vitamin C, Vitamin D, beta-carotene and vitamin E have fewer symptoms of asthma.

For Vitamin D, local eggs and milk are good sources as well. Of course, you can also consider omega-3 fatty acids, too, which Reader’s Digest says you can find in many kinds of fish in your area: Lake trout contains a high concentration of them, whereas catfish and bass also have it to a lesser extent.

Learn more about managing health conditions.*

Add Ginger

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, ginger may also work as an herbal medication to help manage common asthma symptoms. It’s believed that ginger can help decrease lung inflammation due to the high levels of antioxidants in this plant. Add it as an ingredient to the fresh foods you’re already making, or boil it with water to make tea.

Consider Flaxseeds

These small seeds pack a big nutritional punch. Flaxseeds not only contain protein, fiber and Omega-3 essential fatty acids but also magnesium, which has been shown to relax the muscles of the airway.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

Q&A with a Registered Dietitian: Getting Started with Healthy Cooking

One of the biggest challenges when trying to improve your and your family’s eating habits is coming up with healthy family recipes that are quick, easy and tasty. Rather than finding new recipes, however, a quicker strategy may be to recreate the dishes you’ve been making all along.

For a simple food makeover, Rebecca Greer, a Registered Dietitian, shared personal experiences that can help anyone who wants to eat right and serve healthier meals.

Q: How did you get interested in healthy eating?

Rebecca Greer: I’ve always loved food and being around the kitchen. I quickly discovered that if you love good food, it’s handy to be able to make it yourself. I learned a lot about how to make healthy food taste delicious by watching cooking TV shows and reading healthy cookbooks. I had a lot of mishaps in the beginning, so I always encourage people to keep trying. Cooking takes practice.

Q: Are there any aspects about cooking that present unique obstacles?

RG: I find cooking to be enjoyable most of the time, but it can be stressful if I don’t have a meal planned or go to the grocery store ahead of time. I recently spent about ten minutes writing down a list of my family’s favorite recipes. It’s hanging on the fridge, so that way I can plan meals from those if I don’t feel like looking for new ones. I also often tell my clients to make sure they’re selecting easy and quick recipes for weeknights.

Q: What family recipes have you converted to healthy ones?

RG: My mom always made delicious artichoke dip for football games. I’ve made it healthier by swapping out half the mayo for plain low-fat yogurt. I do [this type of] swap a lot. For my mom’s pumpkin bread, I swapped out half the oil for applesauce. For pancakes, I do half whole wheat and half white flour. My mother-in-law makes her greens with olive oil, which is healthier but also delicious. For my husband’s favorite double-chocolate cookies, I switched out half the butter for oil.

Learn more about healthy eating.*

Q: How did you and your family react to the change to heathier recipes? Was there any resistance?

RG: I learned not go on and on about how healthy something was; that usually puts a preconception in someone’s mind that it won’t taste good. Just cook and serve it and see how everyone likes it. After all, flavor is the number-one reason people choose to eat what they do, so even if it’s the healthiest meal in the world, you won’t make it again if it doesn’t taste good.

Q: Where do you buy food for making healthy family recipes?

RG: I go to the grocery store for most things, but I love visiting farmers’ markets when I can. I also have a small garden that helps with the cost of things like herbs. I prefer to spend money on good food and cut back elsewhere, but I’ve found that meal-planning helps keep the cost down.

When starting your own healthy family recipes, don’t overwhelm yourself with too many right away. Begin by giving one of your favorite recipes an adjustment, and when you’ve perfected it, move on to another. Find substitution ingredients and ratios online. By taking these baby steps, you’ll make tremendous progress over the long term.

Judy Wilson is a writer and editor specializing in varied content areas, including health, wellness, food, cooking and nutrition. She enjoys educating others and enabling them to lead fulfilling lives of vibrant health. You can follow Judy on Twitter @EvergreenWords.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.
Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.

Learn the Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Contrary to popular belief, more women than men die of heart disease each year, according to Mayo Clinic. Symptoms of heart disease in women are often more subtle than men.

Men are much more likely to show and experience unmistakable symptoms when suffering a heart attack — such as intense chest pain and trouble breathing.

But for women, symptoms of a cardiac problem can be very different. A woman may not even experience obvious chest pain during a heart attack.

Why the Difference?

A heart attack occurs when there’s a decrease in blood and oxygen to the heart because of a clogged artery. Blood flow may even become cut off entirely. Arteries can become clogged over time due to coronary artery disease, which is a buildup of fat, cholesterol and plaque.

In women with heart disease, the body’s main arteries experience blockage just like in the smaller peripheral arteries, in a condition called microvascular disease. Because of this, heart attacks can feel different to women than men. Instead of sharp, stabbing pain in the upper chest, they may feel increasing pressure or fullness in a woman’s lower chest or upper abdomen.

Women often mistakenly assume these symptoms to be a result of the flu, acid reflux or just getting older — causing heart attacks to go unnoticed. Without quick action, however, extensive damage can occur to a woman’s cardiovascular system and lead to other long-term health problems.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

It’s important for women to know beforehand how heart attacks might feel. According to The American Heart Association, common symptoms of heart attacks for women are:

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest pain
  • Discomfort in either arm
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Unusual fatigue

Learn more about managing health conditions.*

Know the Symptoms to Save Your Heart

Because women don’t always recognize what’s happening during a heart attack, their cardiovascular systems can suffer damage during the event itself. Women also tend to downplay what’s happening to their bodies and wait until it’s too late to seek medical treatment.

If you think you’re experiencing a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or have someone drive you to the nearest emergency room. Never try to drive yourself.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease in Women

High blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity can lead to coronary artery disease in both men and women, but women are more prone to other factors, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Emotional stress and depression
  • Feeling the urge to smoke
  • A lack of physical activity
  • Decreased estrogen following menopause
  • High blood pressure or gestational diabetes during pregnancy

If you find that you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease, talk to you doctor for recommendations on adopting a heart healthy lifestyle.

A former newspaper journalist, Chelsea Adams is a freelance writer specializing in health, wellness and lifestyles topics. A native Tennessean, she makes her home in Kansas with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about her transition from the mountains to the prairie at http://wichitawesome.blogspot.com.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

7 Can’t Miss Historic Spots to Visit in Memphis

As the largest city in Tennessee, Memphis has a thriving downtown and exciting nightlife. But don’t forget one of Memphis’ best features – its history. Let’s look at some of the city’s best attractions and how they played a part in today’s music, civil rights, architecture and American history.

Local visitors and long-time residents alike can experience the city’s vibrant cultural heritage through these historic sites:

National Civil Rights Museum

Located south of downtown Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum is housed in the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968. This multimedia museum features interactive exhibits, video presentations, African-American art installations, historic collections and dynamic special events.

Chucalissa Archaeological Museum

The C.H. Nash Museum at the Prehistoric Chucalissa Archaeological Site celebrates a rich cultural history of Native Americans who first settled along the Mississippi River. See the prehistoric American Indian mound complex, believed to be constructed between 1000 and 1500 A.D. Other attractions include a hands-on archaeology lab, a nature trail and an arboretum.

Beale Street Historic District

Spanning three blocks in downtown Memphis, Beale Street features restaurants and nightclubs where you can experience the city as the musical melting pot that it is. Officially declared the Home of the Blues by Congress in 1977, Beale Street hosted performances by early blues and rock legends from around the country, including Louis Armstrong, Isaac Hayes, Muddy Waters and B.B. King. In May, you can attend the Beale Street Music Festival.

Graceland

Elvis Presley was born in Mississippi and immortalized in Las Vegas, but he made Memphis his home. The second-most visited home in the U.S., Graceland welcomes more than 600,000 visitors each year to tour the King of Rock’s storied mansion. The building spans 10,266 square feet and still features original furnishings chosen by the Presley family.

Sun Studio

Often called the birthplace of rock n’ roll, Sun Studio and its founder Sam Phillips helped launch the careers of numerous rock and blues legends — Elvis, B.B. King, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash among them. Tour the downtown Memphis studio to see where these performers recorded their first hits, and peruse Sun’s impressive collection of music memorabilia.

Stax Museum of American Soul Music

Located on the site of the original Stax Records studio, this museum celebrates the lives and careers of soul singers who got their start in Memphis: Aretha Franklin, the Staple Singers, Booker T. Jones, Otis Redding and several others. In the 1960s, Stax was the fifth-largest African-American-owned business in the U.S., and Memphis’ most successful record label.

Peabody Hotel

The Peabody Hotel was originally constructed in 1869, and is a treasured piece of architectural history. The four-star luxury hotel is known for its excellent service and beautiful decor, but its real claim to fame are the mallard ducks that march through the lobby each morning at 11 a.m., spend the day swimming in the Peabody Fountain and waddle back to their rooftop suite each evening at 5 p.m. Hotel guests and the general public are all invited to watch the procession, which is an 80-year tradition.

Where are the best places to take in history while visiting Memphis? Let us know in the comments.

Taylor Mallory Holland is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in healthcare, technology, and business leadership. She regularly contributes content to some of the world’s top brands, including BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, and Samsung USA. As founder of Taylored Editorial, LLC, Holland also edits books, blogs, and Web content for dozens of bestselling authors. Find her on Twitter @TaylorMHoll.

Three Tips for Caring for Aging Parents

As the lifespan of the average American increases, so does the number of children caring for their aging parents. According to the Centers for Disease Control, life expectancy in the United States has hit a record high at 78.7 years.

New research from the Pew Research Center shows families in the United States are the primary caretakers for their aging parents.  Among Americans with an elderly parent, 58 percent have helped with errands, housework or home repairs.

The following are some ways to keep your stress to a minimum and act with compassion when caring for aging parents:

Don’t Ignore Small Changes

Changes happen gradually as parents age, so you might not notice anything unusual at first. However, if and when you do notice a change, don’t ignore it. According to AARP, some of these behavioral changes might include past-due notices for regular bills, not adhering to medication schedules, a change in personal hygiene and a change or avoidance of prior interests, friends or even family occasions.

You might also notice signs of disrepair in the house or laundry and dishes piling up. These are all signals that your parent may need help with home repairs, shopping, cooking or cleaning. When these instances happen, they don’t always signal a serious decline or danger, but you do want to be proactive and ask questions to determine whether help is needed, what type of help is needed and how you can make it happen.

Keep Conversations Open and Honest

Your role in a healthy relationship with your parent should be as an adult to an adult. While you want to be honest, you never want to treat your parent like a child. According to SageMinder, your role as a grown child is to effectively help your aging parents deal with any changes. Your parents’ role is to acknowledge when they need help and ask for it.

AARP offers a useful checklist of questions to ask your parents to get an honest assessment of how they feel about their living arrangements and daily life, so you may be able to talk openly about where and when they need help.

Know When YOU Need More Help

When parents fall or injure themselves, the need for help is clear. This might include finding professional help for personal care such as bathing, medication adherence and physical therapy. If you notice weight changes, your parent may need help with shopping and cooking. If you notice memory changes such as the inability to follow directions or forgetting how to do daily tasks, that is a sign of mental decline and may mean that they need more permanent assistance.

Naomi Mannino is a health and personal finance journalist who specializes in helping consumers get the most from their health and financial choices. She enjoys sharing her personal experiences and never writes about anything she has not tried herself. You can follow Naomi on Twitter @naomimannino.

Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.

IRONMAN Training for Beginners

Even if you aren’t in triathlon shape, there’s no shame in trying something new. A half-triathlon is fun and challenging without being overwhelming — and the Chattanooga 70.3 Ironman is a great place to start. It’s not until May 22, 2016, but first-time participants are preparing right now. Here’s what you should know before putting together your beginner IRONMAN training plan.

The Right Gear

If it’s your first race, you shouldn’t spend tons of money on top-of-the-line gear. For now, you only need the basics. The opening swim calls for a thin, snug swimsuit, goggles and swim cap. Make sure they all hug your body somewhat; you want to cut through the water as smoothly as you can.

For bicycling, you’ll naturally need a bike (a road bike is best, but any bike will do) and a helmet. You could ride in the outfit you swam in, but you may also stash a mesh t-shirt and cycling shorts with your bicycle. Consider taking your bike to a local shop for a tuneup before you start riding. Be sure to invest in a portable tire pump and spare tube to tackle flat tires on the road, as well.

Running comes last. Choose clothes and socks made of mesh-based wicking material, and a comfortable pair of running sneakers. Because you’ll be lacing up after your swim, pick shoes that are breathable and quick-drying. Mesh uppers, instead of leather, are a must.

If you’re unsure about which brands or products are right for you, consider asking these questions at your local sporting goods shop. There, the pros can help pick out the gear that’ll meet your needs without overselling you on equipment you don’t need just yet.

A Training Schedule

A triathlon consists of swimming, bicycling and running, so your training should prepare you for all three. IRONMAN recommends a breakdown that looks something like this:

  • 20 percent swimming.
  • 50 percent bicycling.
  • 30 percent running.

You should strive for an equal number of weekly swimming, running and bicycling sessions, but the length of each workout should depend on the amount of time it takes up during the triathlon. So, swim workouts should be the shortest, bicycle workouts should be the longest and runs should fall somewhere in between.

Fueling the Healthy Way

Make whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables the mainstays of your diet. Even if you’re trying to lose weight, resist the temptation to cut back on your calories at first. You need the energy to get through your training, and the workouts alone might be enough to help you start burning fat. Keep in mind muscle weighs more than fat, so your bathroom scale may confuse you at first.

If you need extra fuel before your workout, try a small mix of complex carbohydrates and protein — like a slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter. And if you’re exercising for more than one hour at a time, keep a small bite on hand (like a handful of dried fruit) for a quick boost of energy.

Lastly, remember to stay hydrated. Mayo Clinic generally recommends up to an extra two cups of water for workouts that last a full hour, though you may need more if you’re exercising for longer.

How to Avoid Injuries

Most aspiring triathletes who get hurt during training develop injuries from pushing themselves too hard. Before starting or ending your workout, take the time to warm up and cool down. And remember to work rest days into your training schedule; they’ll give your body more time to recover so you can come back stronger for your next session.

Marygrace Taylor is is an award-winning health, wellness, and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in Glamour, Redbook, Prevention, and Women’s Health. You can follow her on Twitter @mgtylr, or at marygracetaylor.com.

Consult your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.