Archive for August, 2016

Preparing for the perfect summer barbecue gathering

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Gathering with family and friends in the summer helps to create enjoyable memories of afternoons and evenings spent with delicious grilled foods, fun games and good socializing.

Organizing these gatherings isn’t difficult, and with a little practice, you’ll be known by your family, friends and neighbors as an expert, both in organizing an excellent outdoor gathering, and in your grilling techniques.

To spice up your barbecue menu and make the gathering one to remember, Chef Aaron McCargo Jr., host of Big Daddy’s House on the Food Network, has some planning and grilling tips to share.

“Summer barbecues should be fun, flavorful and carefree.  And, it all starts with a flavorful menu,” McCargo Jr. says. “This is the perfect time of year to experiment with flavor combinations when planning your menu. From seasonal fruits and vegetables to marinades and sauces, there are many different ways to combine flavors that best represent the mood or theme of your celebration.”

* Prep your food perfectly. Marinate your meat in Glad(R) freezer bags overnight or several hours before to lock in the delicious flavors you’re going to be serving.

* Gather together some useful, but often forgotten materials that will make life a little easier during your event, like weights or clips, markers and stickers. The table weights are to keep the table cloth down – old unused keys pinned on the corners work well. Markers are so everyone can write their names on their cups for reusing. For a fun twist, encourage people to make up a name, and then guess whose cup belongs to whom. Finally, put stickers on the underside of a couple of plates and mix up the pile. Hand out a door prize to the people who end up using the stickered plates.

* Games are also very important, and have a variety on hand for kids and adults alike. Family Dollar offers a fun selection of prizes and activities for everyone, in every age group – without breaking your barbecue budget. Create your own kickball field, or establish a smaller bean bag toss game to encourage a little friendly competition. Another activity perfect for kids is sidewalk art.

* When grilling, turn meat only once. For steaks, turn the meat when the juices start to bubble on the top. The clearer the juice, the more well-done the meat.

* Apply sauces containing honey, brown sugar or molasses during the last 10 minutes of grilling to prevent the sauces from burning.

* Keep a spray bottle handy so you can calm down grill flare-ups, which could blacken the food.

* Clean up throughout the gathering, both to make the process easier when everyone’s ready to go home after dark, and also to help keep the insects away. Check out Family Dollar for the best value on basic cleaning supplies, such as trash bags, disinfecting wipes, and Scott(R) Brand Paper Towels.

For grilling and side dish recipes to make your summer gathering a success, try these:

Crispy Fried Honey Mustard and Chipotle Chicken Wings
3 pounds or 24 to 32 wing pieces
4 cups of canola oil for frying
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 envelope of garlic herbed dressing
1/4 cup of canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (chopped fine)
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons canola oil

Toss wings in one envelope of garlic herbed dressing and 1/4 cup of canola oil until coated evenly. Use charcoal and lighter fluid to prepare grill. Place wings on the grill and cook for approximately 14 to 18 minutes, turning consistently to avoid burning until desired crispness. Remove from grill and toss wings with sauce and serve.
Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together and add wings in batches. Once well coated, remove wings with tongs shaking off the excess sauce as to prevent sogginess.

Savory Ranch, Bacon and Cheddar Cheese Mashed Potatoes
5 Russet potatoes baked, halved and scooped
1 4-ounce pack plain gourmet instant potatoes
1 cup chopped (crispy) cooked bacon
8 strips raw thin-sliced bacon (for Twice Baked Potato recipe)
1 cup heavy cream (heated to warm)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 envelope of Hidden Valley(R) The Original Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix
1/2 cup chopped fresh scallions
16 toothpicks

Directions for mashed potatoes: 
In large sauce pan with heated heavy cream, add dressing and stir on medium low heat. Add the potatoes (use both the scooped and instant potatoes) and stir into the cream mixture until smooth. Turn off heat and fold in cooked bacon, cheese and scallions. Serve.

Directions for twice baked potatoes: 
Chill potato halves. Put equal amounts of mashed potato mix in each potato half. Wrap each half with raw, thin-sliced bacon and put toothpicks into the loose ends of the bacon to secure it while grilling or baking. Place wrapped potatoes near the front of the grill where there is less heat and rotate every 12 to 14 minutes or until you achieve the desired crispness. For oven cooking, place potatoes on a sheet tray seam side down and bake at 400 degrees for 14 to 16 minutes or until desired crispness.

Five steps to impact community health positively through education

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Health education is a rewarding career for many. You don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse to become involved. It takes professionals in accounting, research, law and administration – as well as individuals who enjoy working with people – all collaborating to improve the well-being of others. Why care about community health? Several reasons, according to the Association of Schools of Public Health’s website, What is Public Health?, are: the importance of improving access to health care, controlling infectious disease and reducing substance abuse.

There may be no better example of a dedicated public health professional than Dr. Mine S. Seniye, chair of the Allied Health department at Brown Mackie College – Albuquerque. She has traveled the world preparing students and health care professionals to care for underserved populations.

Here, she outlines five steps to implement a successful health program.


Step one. Assess the community

Whether you want to enhance community health in a Bosnian village or an inner city neighborhood, it is important first to understand the community as a whole. Who lives there? Where are they from? What are their current health practices? “This can’t be done long distance,” says Dr. Seniye. “You can’t just barge into a community and ask ‘What do you eat?’ You must take part in the society and let them accept you as a person.”

Step two. Community organization

Collaboration with community leaders is essential to any successful health program. “It is important to identify leaders and stakeholders in the community to recruit to the team,” says Dr. Seniye. The Minnesota Department of Health suggests looking for those who are in a position of power, or have already made decisions on previous community issues, and those who actively volunteer. Collaborators from the community help you understand the inner workings of the society.

Step three. Create and implement the program

When approaching any community to help, it is important to speak in terms of what they already have, and adding to it. “Rather than telling them you want to fix something or change the way they do things, you must communicate that you are here to enhance what they already have,” Dr. Seniye says. “Suggest what may be lacking, and integrate a solution into a program already familiar to them.”

Step four. Assess the program

An advisory group formed at the outset can be invaluable to assessing the progress of your efforts. “Keep the team involved. I always share small successes with the group – the number of patients, where they were treated. I see the grassroots community advisors as gatekeepers,” she says. “They keep us on track.”
Step five. Maintain the effort

Eventually others come in to carry on. They must be prepared to be effective in that community. “This takes a competency that many don’t have. They must be chosen carefully,” says Dr. Seniye. “I find that as I get to know people of other cultures, and students who want to engage, I also get to know myself better. It is a growth process. Students teach me something every day.

“All the knowledge, resources, and ideas won’t help without fitting into the culture you want to improve,” adds Dr. Seniye. Whether diversity occurs among the people staffing the program, or the people they serve, it is important to develop an understanding of others. Respect for their culture, beliefs, and ways of interacting is critical for success.

Reduce stress to boost your mood

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

For many, the combination of a busy family life, workplace pressures, and constant connectivity through technology can lead to unhealthy stress levels.


“High stress levels on an ongoing basis, without relief, can lead to serious health issues such as heart problems and various wear and tear diseases like carpal tunnel syndrome,” says Lynda M. Miller, the CEO of “Every day we are exposed to demanding jobs, traffic jams and too many personal commitments. It’s vital we learn and practice smart stress relieving techniques to release pressure.”


Try these tips to help you relax, unwind, and melt unwanted stress away:


Home for a rest


• Soothing music or your favorite songs can help you unwind after a stressful day. If you have a long and traffic-heavy commute, consider listening to relaxing music in the car to help make the sometimes painful drive a bit easier.


• Lighting aromatherapy candles or reading a book can help relax you after a long day.


• Establish a “happy place” in your home, a spot where you have time to yourself, privacy to reflect, and the space to do things that make you calm, such as painting or reading.

Bathroom retreat


• Shower the stress away. A relaxing shower can help ease tense muscles and make you feel rejuvenated. A raincan showerhead and a custom shower allow you to create your ideal showering experience that is both luxurious and soothing. At, take a look at the sensational Compel custom shower as one appealing example.


• Use aromatherapy products like body washes, lotions, and oils to calm your senses.


Let’s get physical


• Practice yoga in the morning or take stretch breaks at work to help alleviate sore muscles and release tension.


• Go for a walk, work in the garden, or go to the gym to help sweat out stress and toxins and take your mind off the tasks waiting for you at home or work.


• Affordable massage therapy tools – like wooden body rollers and scalp massagers – can release endorphins, increase circulation, and help you to relax and feel good.

Organ donation: gift of a second chance at life

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

(BPT) – While organ transplantation is a remarkable story in the history of medicine, the need for organs is vastly greater than the number available for transplantation.

Any way you figure it, the math doesn’t add up to a promising picture. In 2012, there were more than 115,000 people in the U.S. awaiting an organ transplant – enough to overflow the country’s largest football stadium. Each year, more than 28,000 Americans receive a donated organ, but sadly, more than 6,500 people die each year waiting for an organ.

While many are on the waiting list for years, their number increases at the rate of more than 50,000 people a year, nearly one new person every 10 minutes. Day after day the list and the problem grow. It is, however, a problem with a solution – one that depends a lot on education and selflessness.

Professional snowboarder Chris Klug knows first-hand what the waiting game is like. After being diagnosed with PSC (Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis), a rare degenerative bile duct condition, Klug learned that he needed a liver transplant. He spent several years on the waiting list, eagerly anticipating the call that a donor organ had become available.

After a successful surgery and aggressive rehabilitation regimen, Klug won the bronze medal in snowboarding in front of the home crowd in Salt Lake City – just a year and a half after his transplant.

-”I’m so blessed to be here today,” Klug says. “I will forever be grateful for my second chance. Every day I thank God and I thank my donor and his family for the decision to donate.”

A new survey released by Astellas Pharma US, Inc. shows that while 60 percent of people are familiar with their state’s organ donor registry and 57 percent would be willing to donate their organs after they pass away, only 43 percent are actually registered as organ donors and 48 percent don’t know how to register.

“We are very encouraged by the number of Americans who view organ donation positively and are willing to donate,” says David Fleming, president and CEO of Donate Life America. “However, knowing the large number of people awaiting a transplant, we are committed to continuing to educate all Americans on the importance of registering in their state, and ensuring they know.”

Registering to become a donor is a simple process that can be completed online or through many local departments of motor vehicles. Transplantation gives hope to thousands of people with organ failure and provides many others with active and renewed lives. Register today to become an organ donor at


Stake your claim as grilling guru with America’s classic: the cheeseburger

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

As Americans fire up their grills and the smell of charcoal pervades the blistering summer air, cheeseburgers claim the spot as the paramount menu item from coast to coast.

Since the cheeseburger’s epic debut in the 1930s, the summertime staple has earned its rightful spot as the unequivocally American classic. Deemed the quintessential comfort food, 55 percent of Americans would even forgo French fries to top their burger with cheese. Despite the laundry list of toppings, one ingredient reigns supreme: can you “say cheese?”

“Americans have a love affair with the cheeseburger, and Sargento Natural Sliced Cheeses transform ordinary burgers into a savory sizzling experience,” notes Stephanie Meyer, core marketing manager at Sargento. “The authentic flavor and texture of natural, never processed cheese easily amps up any juicy cookout creation.”

As the most preferred topping for a burger, cheese is simply irreplaceable. A burger without cheese is like a sundae without the hot fudge or peanut butter without the jelly. In fact, more than three in four Americans can’t imagine eating a burger without it. Rising to the top of cheeseburger aficionados’ lists are Cheddar, Swiss and Pepper Jack, all offered by Sargento.

Looking to raise the bar on your juicy cheeseburger creations? Try the mouthwatering “Drill Sargento Burger” recipe below from Chicago’s iconic burger joint, Butcher & the Burger.

Drill Sargento Burger

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1
8 ounces ground Black Angus Chuck
1 tablespoon finely minced Vidalia onion
1 teaspoon chopped Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt  
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 slice Sargento Deli Style Sliced Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 slice Sargento Deli Style Sliced Baby Swiss Cheese
1 slice (1/4-inch thick) ripe beefsteak or heirloom tomato
1 split top bun
2 thick slices bacon, cut in half
1 heaping tablespoon sauteed onions
Dijon mustard

Mix beef with onion, parsley, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Shape into patties. Brush lightly with olive oil and grill until desired doneness.

Meanwhile, toast bun and spread mustard on bottom half. Warm onion and cook bacon.

Put burger on bottom half of bun, top with onions and Swiss. Melt cheese under a broiler.

Top with tomato slice, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Top with bacon and Sharp Cheddar. Melt cheese under a broiler, top with bun.

Longer life spans shifting focus toward dignity, quality of life.

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

The life expectancy for average Americans is longer than ever before – 78 years for a child born in 2007 versus 71 who was born in 1970, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

That’s the good news, and it’s been evolving over decades. Until recently, however, that positive change has come with a less happy corollary: More aging Americans are entering long-term care facilities, where they cope with basic issues of dignity such as incontinence, and independence, like the ability to choose their own waking and meal times. 

The need to address the issues of dignity and independence is spurring change in the health care and extended care communities.
“With people living so much longer, a sea change is occurring in the health care community, and especially among providers of extended care,” says Dan Love, president of the personal care division for Medline Industries, Inc. “The focus is shifting away from simply extending life and toward a greater emphasis on enhancing quality and maintaining dignity in the later years of life.”

To better preserve the dignity of those in long-term care, a culture change movement is afoot in long-term care facilities, which is good news for older Americans. Today’s long-term care facilities are transforming services for older adults through better attention to patient-directed values that include choice, dignity, respect, self-determination and purposeful living, according to the Pioneer Network, a not-for-profit advocacy group. 

“The resident-centered care in long-term care  encompasses nearly every aspect of life, from simple things like incontinence products that fit properly, to allowing residents to determine when they would like to get up in the morning and have dinner at night,” Love says. “These changes focus on preserving an individual’s dignity and autonomy as much as possible.”

In fact, incontinence is a good example of a simple, yet pervasive need that directly impact’s an individual’s sense of dignity. More than half of all nursing home residents are incontinent, and it’s the second leading cause of institutionalization, according to the National Association for Incontinence. Yet in the past, incontinence products have been little more than extra-large diapers that did little to preserve an individual’s dignity. 

Demand for better fitting products prompted Medline to develop a new design in adult briefs. FitRight provides a more comfortable, garment-like fit, with odor protection and leak guards that enhance the wearer’s dignity, mobility and independence. Visit to learn more about incontinence products.

“By switching to better-fitting, discreet and more absorbent incontinence products, facilities have taken steps toward mitigating the embarrassing effects of this issue,” Love says. “It’s a good example of how facilities are emphasizing the need to listen to – and respond – to residents’ needs and concerns.”

With Americans living longer, that means there will be a lot more of them. About 13 percent of the population (nearly 40 million people) are 65 or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2030, that number is expected to rise to 72 million, or nearly one in five Americans; and the need for quality extended care facilities and products like FitRight will almost certainly rise with that number.
If you need to seek extended care for a loved one, the Pioneer Network offers some advice on how to evaluate whether a facility is on board with, and acting on, the concept of patient-directed care.

The organization recommends you ask these questions:

* How will they get to know your family member? – The facility may have a questionnaire to gather information about your loved one, and should be prepared to spend time with you and the patient to learn about their preferences, past, current interests, goals and wishes for the future.

* Will your family member be able to choose his or her own wake-up and meal times?

* Will your loved one be able to choose to have a shower or bath, and when that will happen?

* What recreational activities will be available?

“Every day, we’re learning more about how to extend life,” Love says. “Now, the challenge is to ensure that extra time is lived with the most dignity and best quality possible. Extended care facilities are finding that they can achieve that goal, often by taking some of the simplest steps.”

Become a produce professional: healthy eats from farm to family

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Local. That’s the buzzword when it comes to healthy eats these days. From the farm to the city, locally grown goods are keeping menus fresh and food lovers satisfied. This trend is on the rise in hot-spot restaurants around the nation and now it’s never been easier to make fresh, culinary magic happen in your own home. Here’s the trick to getting it done: learn the facts and become a produce professional.

The most obvious benefit of shopping local is taking garden-fresh, flavor-packed goods home for your family to nosh on. You’ll get the highest nutritional value foods by buying in season, says chef Lynn Krause, culinary academic director of The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of St. Louis. If that’s not enough to get your juices flowing, consider this: Purchasing crops from various community farmers boosts local economies and enhances sustainability practices by keeping food import/export needs down, according to chef Linda Trakselis, culinary instructor at The International Culinary School at The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago. Buying produce cultivated within a 150-mile radius of your location may also increase the likelihood of ingesting products with fewer pesticides and protective coatings typically added during the shipping process.

When it comes to buying regional fruits and vegetables, chef Clare Menck, academic director of Culinary Arts at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Wisconsin, recommends cruising farmers markets. It’s best to arrive early and do a lap for price checks, product quality and available options. From there, let your menu be guided by seasonal items and begin picking your produce. Menck also suggests you develop a relationship with the farmers – ask for their pick of the week, recipe tips and preparation suggestions.

Purchasing medium sized, darker colored fruits and veggies is your best bet for flavor and nutrients, says Trakselis of hand-picking products at the week-end pop-up shops.

Farmers markets are also a great spot to pounce on the freshest proteins. I always head for the specials; seek out the fresh catch of the day, fresh cut steaks and chicken specials to feature in meals, says Krause. Local poultry and shellfish is often inexpensive when compared to goods imported from other regions.

Another convenient way to secure the season’s freshest crops is to order produce boxes from community supported agriculture (CSA) programs. Boxes offer a variety of the season’s crops straight from the farm on a weekly, bi-monthly or monthly basis. The problem may be that you’re getting something in the box you’re unfamiliar with, but that’s not such a bad deal. You learn how to incorporate new vegetables into your meals and can ask for the farmer’s cooking tips, says Trakselis.

Your bounty will vary by season as crops are harvested for the market. Summertime finds include berries, melons, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini, green beans, asparagus and dark, leafy greens. As the season shifts to fall, you’ll score root veggies, Swiss chard, kale and the last crop of sweet corn and melons. Winter brings citrus and hearty vegetables like beets, turnips, winter squashes, Brussels sprouts and leafy greens to your market. Stock up on more bitter veggies during this time as the hard winter frost releases sugars in the produce and sweetens up your goods. Finally, springtime means peas, lettuce and the first berry buds.

Proper storage will ensure the longevity of your loot. Don’t ever put your tomatoes in the fridge – it breaks down the fibrous membrane and you’ll notice a steep decline in taste and texture, says Menck. Natural sugars turn to starch in the fridge and it also stops the ripening process. She also recommends keeping onions, potatoes, garlic and even carrots in plastic containers in cool locations, like on a shelf in the garage, especially in the wintertime.

Look no further than your local farm for the freshest and most nutritious meals. Knowing your way around the market will benefit your week’s food haul, your health and your wallet.