Archive for July, 2015

Top 5 super foods with a powerful health impact

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

“What are super foods? They are foods that have a very high or dense nutrient profile,” says Sophie Uliano, New York Times best-selling author, passionate environmentalist and healthy living advocate. “Some super foods come from countries such as South America, in which case, it’s important to make sure they are sustainably harvested and fair trade. Other super foods can be found in your local grocery store.”

Some of the most powerful super foods may surprise you. Uliano’s list of top super foods that pack a big serving of healthy goodness include:

1. Goji berries

Recommended frequency: every day

These little berries are a very rich source of antioxidants: flavonoids, polyphenols and carotenoids. They also contain vitamins C, E and A. They have a whopping amount of vitamin C – better than 500 times more than an orange. In addition, these tasty berries contain 19 amino acids, including eight essential amino acids. They are also anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.

“These berries are great for our long-term health. They have anti-aging benefits and help boost your immune system,” says Uliano. “I recommend eating them in the same way as you would cranberries or raisins. You can add them to smoothies, oatmeal, granola, or even to make a salad a little more interesting.”

2. Sardines

Recommended frequency: one can a week

If you’ve always avoided sardines, their nutritional profile should change your mind. Sardines contain B vitamins, phosphorus, potassium and iron. They are particularly rich in the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are also important for their anti-inflammatory effects.

“Canned sardines are just as healthy and rich in nutrients as fresh sardines,” Uliano says. “If you dislike the taste and texture, try mashing them up with spicy mayo and eating as you would tuna salad. If you’re still not sold, consider a high quality fish oil supplement from Nordic Naturals, which will give you a boost of the omega-3s your body needs to stay healthy and prevent disease.”

3. Kale

Recommended frequency: every day

In addition to vitamin K, which is important for blood-clotting and healthy bones, kale is packed with vitamins A, C and E, calcium and fiber. The veggie also contains loads of carotenoids, which are great for eye health.

“Different kinds of kale include Curly Kale, Dino Kale, Premier Kale and Redbar Kale,” explains Uliano. “I love to steam kale and drizzle with olive or toasted sesame oil and a little tamari sauce. I eat it warm or as a cold side in the summer. It’s also great to eat raw, but make sure that you wash well and remove all of the tough stems before chopping it up.”

4. Coconut oil

Recommended frequency: 1 to 3 tablespoons per day

Raw virgin coconut oil has a plethora of health benefits. It must, however, be raw, not hydrogenated. The lauric acid in coconut oil has been found to increase metabolism as well as fight bacteria and viruses. Coconut oil also has been shown to help lower cholesterol, stimulate the thyroid and is good for the brain.

“At room temperature, coconut oil will solidify, and when it’s heated, it will liquefy,” Uliano says. “My favorite ways to eat coconut oil include adding a tablespoon to smoothies or oatmeal, and using it in place of butter when baking. Coconut oil has a very high smoke point, so it is great for frying pancakes, or deep frying, too.”

5. Maca

Recommended frequency: every day

Typically from Peru, maca is usually sold as a nutty powder, but it also comes in capsules. “It is an adaptogen, which means that it is a biological substance found in a plant, which helps the human body adapt to change and stress,” says Uliano. “It has been used for more than 3,000 years in South America, and is also thought to be a libido enhancer.”

Perfect for vegans, maca is also a rich source of vitamin B12, minerals, protein and amino acids. “I like to bake with it or use it in smoothies. I add one heaping tablespoon of maca to my smoothie daily,” notes Uliano.

The grilled cheese: A new spin on an American classic

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Double Delicious Grilled Cheese

Create a sandwich to satisfy any adult’s taste buds with this recipe. Replace the traditional white bread with your choice of thickly sliced artisan bread and upgrade your cheese selection with any of Great Midwest’s flavored Cheddars or Monterey Jacks. Add some spice to your sandwich by selecting Mango Fire Cheddar or infuse it with the savory taste of Morel & Leek Jack. If fruit is more your thing, try Blueberry Cobbler or Cranberry Cheddar. This recipe allows you to build four sandwiches so try them all.

To make these sandwiches, you will need:

* 3 to 4 tablespoons butter, melted

* 8 slices artisan bread, thickly sliced

* 7 to 8 ounces Great Midwest Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sliced


Using a pastry brush, butter each slice of bread on one side and place four slices, buttered side down, on a work surface. Place a portion of Great Midwest flavored Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese on each slice. Top with the remaining four slices, butter side up.

Lightly butter and heat a griddle, heavy skillet or Panini press until hot. Place two sandwiches in the skillet. Brown slowly on one side for two to three minutes before turning with a spatula and grilling the other side until brown and the cheese melts. It may be necessary to add a bit of butter to the skillet.

Repeat with remaining two sandwiches and serve immediately.

Serving suggestions:

Spread mayonnaise or mustard – if you prefer – on the unbuttered side of the bread.

Add vertical slices of dill pickle, thinly sliced ripe, medium-sized tomatoes or red onion rings for an extra punch of flavor.

Gourmet Grilled Cheese with Peach Apricot Preserves

Tantalize your palate with the wide array of flavors in this delicious sandwich. Paprika, garlic, peach apricot preserves and flavor-infused Cheddar cheese all come together for one sumptuous offering. Interested in shaking it up? Swap out the peach-apricot preserve for another of your choice. Satiate your taste buds with a little extra pop of flavor by adding Great Midwest’s Apple Cinnamon Cheddar to your sandwich. Or, if you want a little spice, try Chipotle Cheddar.

To make this sandwich you will need:

* Two slices of your favorite artisan bread

* 2 tablespoons butter, melted

* 2 ounces Great Midwest Cheddar cheese, sliced

* 1 ounce of peach apricot preserves

* 2 thick slices of tomatoes

* Arugula

* 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

* 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced

* Lemon juice

* Paprika


In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, a splash of lemon juice and a dash of paprika. Set aside.

Using a pastry brush, butter each slice of bread on one side, and place the slices, buttered side down, on the work surface. Top each of these slices with Cheddar cheese, tomatoes, arugula, the mayonnaise mixture and preserves. Top with the remaining bread slices, buttered side up.

Lightly butter and heat a griddle, heavy skillet or Panini press until hot. Place the sandwich in the skillet. Brown slowly on one side for two to three minutes before turning with a spatula and grilling the other side until brown and the cheese melts. It may be necessary to add a bit of butter to the skillet. Serve immediately.

Across the nation adults are recognizing the versatility of this American classic and making their own unique grilled cheese sandwiches. What is yours? If you think you have a great idea for a grilled-cheese sandwich, visit and enter the I Love Grilled Cheese contest. You could win a weekend getaway to the “Great Midwest” or other prizes that will help you reinvent the grilled cheese over and over again to the delight of your taste buds.

Steps for creating the ultimate game day space

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

Store away the things you don’t need

Since this space is likely to have quite a few visitors, it’s essential that you can always find what you need and your buds have plenty of space to celebrate. Tip one: Never lose the remote. Velcro works great for securing the remote to a designated space on the wall; that way it’s always in the right place. Tip two: cut back on the clutter. Consider installing some shelving units – nothing says team pride more than painting the selves in your team’s colors. If you don’t have the space, consider purchasing furniture pieces that do double work, such as a storage ottoman with a hidden mini-fridge or a chair with a built-in cooler.

Add some team spirit

Your favorite team doesn’t have an ivory colored locker room, so why does your man cave? Embrace your team colors with a fresh coat of paint, a simple and cost-effective way to update your space. If your team has bright colors, consider painting a few items or striping the walls so it is not too overpowering. When painting the walls, pick up a Purdy White Dove roller cover. It’s especially great for applying paint to large areas and can be easily cleaned and ready for multiple colors. White Dove covers work with all paints and exterior stains, especially where a smooth, lint-free finish is desired.

Allow your collections to manifest

Whether you enjoy building mini airplanes or have a slight movie obsession, make the space your own and showcase that plane collection, baseball memorabilia or movie theme. Having a place to enjoy your hobbies and your friends is a smart way to save space and showcase what you love. If you don’t have any collections, consider hanging a few posters of the hometown teams. Looking to brag a little more? Create a custom banner symbolizing your championship last year in your fantasy football league.

Create your own halftime activities

You could sit there and watch the commentators and commercials for 20 minutes, or you can add some fun and competitive spirit to your man cave. If you have a small space, consider breaking out games like darts or cards. If you have more space, think about incorporating some larger games such as a vintage pinball machine or a pool table in the room.

Feed your friends

Designate an area of the man cave for food and beverages. To really set your space off, consider a vintage-styled popcorn machine or hot dog roller cooker. A slow cooker is also a game day essential for making chili. Sport themed plastic bowls are great for snack foods such as pretzels and chips.

By following these simple tips, the guys will be enjoying the game and your awesome space in no time.

Foot care advice for new moms and babies

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

“Pregnancy creates many changes in the body, and can even affect the size of a woman’s feet,” says Dr. Matthew Garoufalis, a podiatrist and president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “And even though newborns aren’t walking yet, it’s understandable that mothers may have some concerns about how to best take care of their baby’s feet.”

The discomforts of pregnancy are common and well-known, ranging from back pain and frequent bathroom trips to feet that are both sore and bigger.

“It’s not at all unusual for a woman to gain a shoe size while pregnant,” Garoufalis says. “Increased weight puts more pressure on the foot, the arch flattens a bit and the foot elongates. Just a quarter-inch increase in foot length is enough to prompt a change in shoe size.”

While it’s probably impossible to completely avoid foot challenges during pregnancy, moms-to-be can take steps to minimize them:

* Control weight gain. Added weight is the most likely cause of foot expansion. Do your best to follow your obstetrician’s guidelines for how much weight you should gain throughout the pregnancy.

* Avoid high heels. Sure you see celebrities accessorizing their baby bumps with stilettos, but a lower heel during pregnancy will relieve pressure on the foot. Also, lower heels will provide you with greater stability during a time when newly gained weight might throw off your balance. It’s easy to find plenty of pretty, stylish lower heels – 1 to 2 inches in height – that will look and feel great while you’re pregnant.

* Comfort and support should be key considerations any time you choose footwear, but they are even more important for pregnant women. With extra weight and pressure on your feet for nine months, you need a shoe that provides support and cushioning. Avoid thin-soled shoes (including flip-flops and ballet flats); look for shoes with thicker soles and plenty of cushioning inside the shoes. Whatever shoe you choose, it should bend only at the ball of the foot, and you should never be able to twist the sole or bend it anywhere else.

While it’s common for women’s feet to enlarge during pregnancy – and remain that size even after delivery – generally that size increase occurs only with a first pregnancy. So you shouldn’t worry that your feet will continue to grow with subsequent pregnancies. Instead, many new moms will worry about their new baby’s feet.

“The good news is, as long as the baby’s feet are healthy at birth most newborns won’t require special care for their feet,” Garoufalis says. “Caring for your baby’s feet is much like caring for the rest of her body.”

Don’t worry if your baby’s feet look discolored or wrinkled or even have flaky, peeling skin when she is born. After nine months in protective fluid within the womb, they’re bound to look a bit different from yours. Your pediatrician will look for any obvious abnormalities of your baby’s feet and legs, and will let you know what to do if he or she finds some concern.

Use baby nail clippers to keep your child’s toenails trimmed, cutting straight across to prevent ingrown toenails. Be sure to thoroughly dry baby’s feet after a bath, and choose soft, anti-microbial socks that don’t wrinkle or bunch to keep her feet warm and protected.

When she starts to walk, bare feet are best inside the house as she’s learning the finer points of getting around. Outside, put her in a lightweight, flexible shoe made of natural materials.

If foot problems run in your family, consider having your child examined by a podiatrist when she begins to walk. He or she can examine your child’s feet to ensure they’re growing normally. You can find a podiatrist that specializes in pediatrics at

Turn video games into family time

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

If you have children who love video games– and an estimated 95 percent of them do– or are interested yourself in video gaming, consider the positive aspects of how playing video games can benefit your family, and others:

* Educational components – Video games have plenty of educational opportunities designed for the youngest to oldest members of the family. Some games work on math skills, others teach history lessons and still others work on teaching different languages. Research studies have also shown that fast-action games improve visual acuity and attention to details – especially when it comes to reading the fine print.

* Physical fitness – Gaming doesn’t have to be a couch potato activity any longer. Modern gaming systems encourage players to stand up so the technology can track body movements to create the action happening on the screen. This physical activity can help improve muscle tone, balance and provide a cardio workout while the player is engrossed in the game play.

* Social connectedness – With gaming systems encouraging multiple players at once, and online communities established for players to talk about specific games, players can connect and socialize across the globe. On the local scale, a family video game night promotes a bit of competitive fun among family members, while still enhancing the physical and educational skills that children and adults can glean from video game play.

This Nov. 2, take advantage of the positive benefits of playing video games, and push them one step further by signing up for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Extra Life event. Families can register to participate in this give-back gaming celebration, asking supporters to pledge at least $1 per hour of game play on Nov. 2.

In previous years, Extra Life participants have raised an average of $200 each, which benefits CMN Hospitals across the country to fund the most pressing local pediatric needs. Families can find their area’s member hospital and sign up to start their fundraising quest at

Once registered for Extra Life, invite friends and other family members to also get involved in raising money for CMN Hospitals. Consider blogging or using social media to report your family’s participation in the day’s activities, and document the different games played each hour. You can even switch it up and play a mix of video, board and lawn games. Relays are a great way to keep the energy going while allowing regular breaks.

And consider keeping the tradition going strong by establishing a video game-playing night once a week or once a month. Push your children to the physical and educational games, and see if you can keep up with them. By joining them at the console or computer, you’ll turn video gaming into family fun time– and show them that play can do the world a whole lot of good.

Life insurance 101: What you need to know

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

Life insurance can help you provide for the people and organizations you care about. Choosing the right life insurance solution gives you peace of mind knowing your loved ones will be taken care of. Here’s a quick primer from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans on some of the most common types of life insurance.

* Term life insurance – Temporary life insurance that offers a death benefit and is generally less expensive than permanent insurance. It’s ideal for short-term life insurance needs, like when you are raising a family, paying off a mortgage or starting a business.

* Whole life insurance – Permanent life insurance that gives you a guaranteed death benefit, guaranteed level premiums and a guaranteed cash value that increases each year. The guarantees are contingent on all premiums being paid and no loans or changes being made to the contract.

* Whole life plus term protection – Permanent life insurance with added flexibility. It lets you “dial-in” your premium to the level of whole life and term insurance desired. This insurance offers lifetime protection through a blend of whole life insurance plus term insurance and paid-up additional coverage.

* Universal life insurance – Permanent life insurance that allows you to increase or decrease your death benefit and your premium is flexible; subject to any limitations in the contract. Accumulated value in a universal life contract earns interest at the current rate, with a minimum rate stated in the contract.

* Variable universal life insurance – Permanent life insurance that gives you a flexible premium and the potential to build accumulated value. However, death benefits and other values may vary, because you direct how the cash is invested among the investment portfolios offered. The investment performance has no guarantees and you could lose money.

How much life insurance should you have?

When purchasing life insurance, think about your goals for your overall financial strategy, your economic value to your loved ones and your wishes for your survivors.

First you’ll need to calculate your economic value – the value of your future earnings over your lifetime. To do so, consider the following factors:

* Your current annual earnings.

* The amount your annual earnings increase.

* How many years you plan to work until retirement.

* The rate of return you expect your invested assets to earn.

Use these numbers as a starting point when you sit with a financial professional to determine the level of coverage you might need. Remember to consider how much of your future economic value you want to replace in the event of your death. This will depend on the financial goals you set for yourself and your survivors.

Life insurance is an essential part of any healthy financial program. It is important that you choose what’s right for you and your situation and that you plan accordingly with a licensed professional.

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About Thrivent Financial for Lutherans

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is a faith-based, Fortune 500 financial services membership organization helping its nearly 2.5 million members to be wise with money and to live generous lives. Thrivent Financial and its affiliates offer a broad range of financial products and services. As a not-for-profit organization, Thrivent Financial joins with its members to create and support national outreach programs and activities that help congregations, schools, charitable organizations and individuals in need. For more information, visit Also, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Insurance products issued or offered by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI. Not all products are available in all states. Securities and investment advisory services are offered through Thrivent Investment Management Inc., 625 Fourth Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55415, 800-847-4836, a FINRA and SIPC member and a wholly owned subsidiary of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. Thrivent Financial representatives are registered representatives of Thrivent Investment Management Inc. They are also licensed insurance agents of Thrivent Financial.

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