HEALTH / FITNESS
Information about fitness, health, nutrition and weight loss
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In this Section....
- March Recipes
- Daily Diet Tip
- Healthy Easter Basket Goodies
- Happy St. Patrick's Day!
- Exercising for Weight Management
March Recipes - Click Here
This month we have a double delicious issue because we have both St. Patrick's Day and Easter in the same month, and we've offered you a couple of yummy meals for these holidays!! We went straight to Ireland for our St. Patrick's Day meal, and we even went to green for dessert for the kiddies!!! For Easter, we present a rack of lamb dinner with all the trimmings, with another great dessert for the kids to enjoy that will remind them of the Easter bunny, too!!! So, get out your "green", and start thinking up some new hiding places for those Easter baskets, and have a great March!!!!
We'd love to feature one of your favorite recipes in any one of our monthly issues, just send them on to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to hear from all of you in the following months, and have a Happy New Year!!!
Healthy Easter Basket Goodies
Easter baskets filled with marshmallow peeps, jelly beans and chocolate Easter bunnies are sure to have the kids bouncing off the walls for days to come. It seems that just about every holiday encourages candy consumption. By the time the Halloween candy is gone, Christmas arrives, then Valentine’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day brings green cupcakes and other goodies and now, Easter is just around the corner! What’s a responsible parent to do? Be creative with an eye towards both fun and health and fill the basket with alternatives to the standard drug store Easter offerings. The kids won’t even miss the junk. Easter baskets don’t have to be full of chocolate and peeps. Here are some great ideas that will fill your Easter basket without all the extra fat and sugar.
I have found they love getting
- Books, erasers, stuffed animals and figurines
- Raisins, Other dried fruit, Fresh fruit
- Bread sticks or crackers and dip
- Carrot sticks and peanut butter
- Home made cookies or muffins: Use half the sugar and replace half the fat with either applesauce or mashed banana.
- Ants on a log: celery stick stuffed with peanut butter, and studded with raisins
- Finger sandwiches
- Fill the basket with hard boiled Easter eggs.
- For special treats, consider carob, chocolate or yogurt dipped pretzels.
- Chocolate dipped fruit such as strawberries or orange slices are pretty, healthy and delicious.
- Sugar free gum, packages of cheese in fun shapes, teddy bear shaped graham crackers, and fruit leather or fruit rollups all make a nice addition to the basket.
Of course every child should have some special treats in the Easter basket as well. Along with the obligatory chocolate bunny, include some healthier treats.
- Chocolate and Yogurt Covered Raisins - Both chocolate and yogurt covered raisins look like little mini Easter eggs and are a yummy treat. Fill a small cellophane bag with these sweet treats and tie a pretty bow around it.
- Trailmix with Jellybeans - Chex, goldfish crackers, Cheerios, all flavors graham goldfish crackers, teddy grahams, raisins - Mix some low sugar cereal like Chex, or Cherios with some small pretzels, peanuts, raisins, and some jellybeans for an Easter inspired Trail Mix. You don’t have to feel bad about your kids filling up on this. Pour your trail mix in a small bag, or fill some large plastic Easter eggs with the mix.
Stuff plastic Easter eggs with stickers and other small items.
- Depending on the age of the child, consider placing earrings or bracelets inside the eggs. Fill out the remainder of the basket with sports trading cards, bubble solution and a fun new bubble blower, colorful pencils and erasers, a packet of flower seeds to plant and perhaps a deck of playing cards like UNO or Old Maid.
- Origami kits and art supplies are festive and at the same time provide an activity to do later in the day.
- For younger kids, instead of Marshmallow peeps, put in a few finger puppets and special bathtub tints.
- Puzzles, books, games, music toys, jump rope, jacks, kite, etc.
- What child doesn’t love to blow bubbles? Grab a couple of bottles of bubbles for this year’s Easter basket. The kids will have a blast with them and with a little luck it will be warm enough outside to keep them busy and running around chasing bubbles for quite some time.
- Another fun treat is sidewalk chalk. This is the perfect time to draw on the sidewalk with the weather warming up. Plus we get enough rain in the spring that your driveway or sidewalk won’t be decorated for too long.
- Make some playdough using your favorite homemade playdough recipe (we have one at kinderinfo.com). Get a couple of small playdough toys to go along with it and let the fun begin.
- You can also pick up some very inexpensive toys at the dollar store. I have found anything from Easter themed coloring books to kites in there. This is also a great place to shop for the Easter baskets themselves, as well as some plastic Easter eggs that are great for hiding small trinkets and treats.
For older children:
- Balloons and a small pump to make balloon animals and sculptures.
- A bottle of bubbles and some special wands for blowing bubbles.
- A package of seeds, and child sized gardening gloves and garden tools.
- Punch balls.
- If you live in an area where it is getting warm enough to go to the park or beach by Easter, then assorted sand toys and beach balls are always a fun gift.
- Check party stores for party favors and novelty items you can buy on sale or in bulk.
- Disposable cameras. Then spend the afternoon at the zoo or some other interesting place where your kids can take pictures.
- For a few healthy treats besides colored eggs, try to add in items with some nutritional value, such as chocolate covered almonds or yogurt covered raisins.
For more information check out http://rubyglen.com/holiday/easterfrugalbasket.htm or http://www.everythingeaster.com.
Written and submitted by: Maria Albus
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Of course, St. Patrick's Day wouldn't exist if not for the man himself! But how much do we know about him? Did you know that he spent six years of slavery in Ireland until he escaped and undertook religious training abroad? Important historical figures are frequently shadowed by the myths and legends attributed to them over the course of centuries, and St. Patrick is no exception. He is believed to have been born in the late fourth century. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, St. Patrick was the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Most of what is known about him comes from his two works, the Confessio, a spiritual autobiography, and his Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians. Saint Patrick described himself as a "most humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshipped idols and unclean things had become the people of God."
Saint Patrick is most known for driving the snakes from Ireland. It is true there are no snakes in Ireland, but there probably never have been -- the island was separated from the rest of the continent at the end of the Ice Age. As in many old pagan religions, serpent symbols were common and often worshipped. Driving the snakes from Ireland was probably symbolic of putting an end to that pagan practice.
There are several accounts of St. Patrick's death. One says that St. Patrick died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, on March 17, 460 A.D. His jawbone was preserved in a silver shrine and was often requested in times of childbirth, epileptic fits, and as a preservative against the "evil eye." Another account says that St. Patrick ended his days at Glastonbury, England and was buried there. The Chapel of St. Patrick still exists as part of Glastonbury Abbey. Today, many Catholic places of worship all around the world are named after St. Patrick, including cathedrals in New York City, USA, Dublin, Ireland, and Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia.
Origins of St. Patrick's Day
Saint Patrick's Day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck. Most importantly, to those who celebrate its intended meaning, St. Patrick's Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. The Irish are descendants of the ancient Celts, but the Vikings, Normans and English contributed to the ethnic nature of the people. Centuries of English rule largely eliminated the use of the ancient Gaelic, or Irish, language. Most Irish are either Catholics or Protestants (Anglicans, members of the Church of England). So, why is it celebrated on March 17th? One theory is that that is the day that St. Patrick died. Since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them their history and celebrations. The biggest observance of all is, of course, in Ireland. With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses close on March 17th. Being a religious holiday as well, many Irish attend mass, where March 17th is the traditional day for offering prayers for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrating begins.
In American cities with a large Irish population, St. Patrick's Day is a very big deal. Big cities and small towns alike celebrate with parades, "wearing of the green," music and songs, Irish food and drink, and activities for kids such as crafts, coloring and games. Some communities even go so far as to dye rivers or streams green!
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, a shamrock is "any of several similar-appearing trifoliate plants (plants whose leaves are divided into three leaflets). Common shamrocks include the wood sorrel or any of various plants of the pea family including white clover. According to Irish legend, St. Patrick chose the shamrock as a symbol of the church's Holy Trinity because of its three leaflets bound by a common stalk. Wood sorrel is shipped in large quantities from Ireland to other countries for St. Patrick's Day.
The Legend of the Blarney Stone
There is a stone there,
That whoever kisses,
Oh, he never misses
To grow eloquent.
'Tis he may clamber
To a lady's chamber,
Or become a member
Just northwest of the Irish village of Cork is the village of Blarney. The name Blarney is derived from the Irish An blarna, "the plain." Blarney is home to the 90-foot-tall (27.4-meter) Blarney Castle. The castle visited today is the third one built at the site and was erected in 1446. Built on a rock, above several caves, the tower originally had three stories. On the top story, just below the battlements on the parapet, is the world famous Blarney Stone. While its origins are unknown, the Blarney Stone is said to give the gift of eloquence (beautiful speaking ability) to all who kiss it. Today, "Blarney" means "the ability to influence and coax with fair words and soft speech without offending." Kissing the stone is quite a physical feat. You have to sit with your back to the stone, and a local guide or friend sits on your legs or firmly holds your feet. Then you lean back and down into the darkness between the castle's 18-foot-thick (5.5-meter) walls and, grasping the iron rails, lower yourself until your head is even with the stone. One local legend claims that an old woman, saved from drowning by a king of Munster, rewarded him with a spell that if he would kiss a stone on the castle's top, he would gain a speech that would win all to him. It is not known, however, when and how the word Blarney entered the English language and the dictionary.
Famous Irish Americans
Along with other immigrants, the Irish have been coming to America for centuries. Rich and poor, Protestant and Roman Catholic, fortune seekers and refugees, they have all sought a new beginning here and many of them have gone on to strengthen the structure of our country, including:
- John and Ethel Barrymore: Distinguished stage and screen performers
- Charles Carroll: Named Maryland's attorney general in 1688; grandson signed the Declaration of Independence
- Henry Ford: Established Ford Motor Company
- Judy Garland: Entertainer and singer, Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz"
- Patrick J. Hurley: Secretary of War under President Hoover
- John F. Kennedy: First Irish-American Catholic to be elected U.S. President
- Archibald Mellon: Patriarch of Mellon family, prominent in industry, finance, education and art patronage
- Augustus Saint Gaudens: 19th-century sculptor
Now that you know all about Saint Patrick, the day named in his honor, and the legends associated with the celebration, go out and enjoy St. Patrick's Day -- and don't forget to wear your green!
For more information on St. Patrick's Day and related topics, check out http://www.st-patricks-day.com.
Written and submitted by: Maria Albus
Exercising for Weight Management
On any given Monday at least one out of every four Americans spend more than 30 billion dollars per year on various weight loss methods, most of which fail. Excess body weight is associated with numerous health related problems including increased risk for coronary artery disease, diabetes and hyperlipidemia. Unfortunately, 95% of people who lose weight are unsuccessful at keeping the weight off permanently. In addition, an obsession with weight and weight loss can lead to serious practices of self imposed starvation, yo-yo eating and poor nutrition. While maintaining a healthy body weight and eating nutritionally is important, it is not an easy task for most people.
The diagnosis and treatment of obesity is difficult and frustrating. A detailed medical and dietary history is necessary before a physician can begin to determine the causes of obesity in patients. Obesity can be caused by complex psychosocial issues, caloric consumption and/or physical activity habits. These are all related to the increased prevalence of excess weight.
Exercise in combination with a sensible eating plan produces the best long-term weight loss results. Exercise is important because it helps maintain resting metabolic rate. Both strength training and aerobic exercise has been proven to make the greatest contribution to a weight-management program, when the caloric intake does not go below 1,200 kilocalories per day. Regular exercise may help control appetite and improve psychological outlook when trying to lose weight.
Exercise considerations for obese people should include the following listed items.
- Mode – Walking is a highly effective form of exercise for weight loss and control. Walking, cycling and aerobic have shown to elicit better results than swimming. Although, the key is to find an activity that is safe, effective and enjoyable enough to become consistent. Variety in the modes has benefits in safety, effectiveness and compliance.
- Intensity – The intensity should be low initially (as low as 40 - 50% of maximum rate). As ones fitness level improves, he or she should increase the intensity level. Signs that one is working at an intensity level that is too high include excessive sweating, joint pain and excessive fatigue, inability to complete the exercise session and a flushed color.
- Frequency – It is important for weight loss to make exercise habitual. An obese or overweight person may only be able to begin exercising twice to three times per week, building to five times per week.
- Duration – Most overweight people will not be able to exercise at high intensity, duration becomes an essential exercise variable, especially in the beginning. Generally speaking, the longer the duration the greater the caloric expenditure.
- Resistance Training – This is key in helping overweight exercisers maintain lean body mass when caloric restriction is moderate. Beginners should start with one sitting of 8 – 12 repetitions of 6 – 8 different exercises. Some people can progress to higher intensity programs, others can benefit from a consistent, moderate intensity training program.
As with any exercise program, keeping goal achievements reasonable allows for more success. Significant health benefits can be realized by a body weight reduction of only ten percent. The key to a healthy weight management is consistency in both activity level and healthy eating.
Written by: Marianne Westervelt
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