12 Fruits and Vegetables That Will Help You Eat Healthier this Summer

We are a fruit and veggie lovin’ family.  We genuinely like the taste of most of them – especially in the summer.  We make salads, grill them, snack on them at the park, take to pitch-ins, etc.  We know they’re good for us, but it was eye-opening to learn WHY they are good for us.  Read on to see how you can prepare the following fruits and veggies to maximize their flavor and healthy benefits.

Asparagusfruits and veggies
Lightly grill then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar this summer.  Asparagus is high in fiber, folic acid, potassium, vitamins A and C and glutathione (a phytochemical with antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties).

Avocados
Add to your salad, sandwich or alone on whole wheat toast for breakfast.  One ounce of an avocado contains 20 different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  It’s rich in monounsaturated fat, which may lower bad “LDL” cholesterol and reduce risk for heart disease.

Blackberries
Add to salads, smoothies, yogurt and oatmeal.  Blackberries contain antioxidants, are high in vitamin C and the seeds are high in fiber.

Brussel Sprouts
These can be lightly grilled after splitting in half and lightly drizzled with olive oil.  These veggies are high in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and fiber.

Butternut Squash
Add to pasta dishes, risottos and soups.  It’s rich in complex carbohydrates and vitamins A and C and it’s a good source of beta carotene, magnesium, calcium and potassium.

Figs 
Rich in potassium and fiber, try adding dried figs to trail mix with some almonds and whole-wheat cereal.

Kale 
Use in smoothies or add them to entrees in place of spinach or cabbage.  Kale is packed with vitamins A, C and E.  Kale is high in antioxidants and also includes important minerals manganese, iron, calcium and potassium.

Pomegranate
Toss some of the seeds on your salad this summer.  They are high in antioxidants and rich in potassium, vitamin C, and fiber.

Spinach
Blend into smoothies, saute with garlic and olive oil, or use as your salad base.  Spinach is an excellent source of folate, iron, and vitamins A and K.

Strawberries
Eat alone or on salads or make a fruit kebab with other fruits like grapes and melon.  This fruit is rich in Vitamin C, folic acid and antioxidant flavonoids thought to be protective against stroke and cancer.

Swiss Chard
Use in side dishes, salads and soups.  It’s a blood sugar stabilizer and one of the world’s most nutritious vegetable.  It contains magnesium, vitamins A and C, and can aid as an anti-inflammatory and detoxifyer.

Tomatoes
Sliced on a sandwich, chopped into a salad, added to omelets or skewered and grilled, tomatoes are a summer staple.  Huge in antioxidants and rich in beta carotene, tomatoes also contain vitamin C, manganese and vitamin E.

How many of these items are you already nibbling on this spring?  Which one will you incorporate into your menu this season?

– S.O.
The Patrick O’Brien Agency – Fishers, IN

 

 

 

Clean a Stinky Garbage Disposal

If your kitchen is developing an odor and you’ve taken out the trash, it could be your garbage disposal.  Even if you run your garbage disposal until the last shred of food is gone, and you let the water run the recommended time, you can still wind up with an out-of control science experiment that stinks up your kitchen.

The reason is – some food is going to stick to the inside of the grinding chamber, and it’s going to decay.  You can clean the chamber by grinding ice and lemon rinds, adding baking soda or rinsing with vinegar and water.  Or, you can add commercial cleaners like Disposer Care, which is available at discount stores and most home centers.

garbage disposalIf there is still an odor after cleaning the grinding chamber, you’ll need to attack the underside of the splash guard.  Cleaning the splash guard is easier than you think.  you don’t even have to remove it.  Just clean it with a toothbrush and cleaner as shown.

Dip an old toothbrush in antibacterial grease-cutting kitchen cleaner and lift up one corner of the splash guard.  Scrub off the crud and rinse with cold water.  Repeat with each flap until it’s totally clean and rinsed.

Simple as that!

To prevent future odors and to ensure all the food particles are cleared away, don’t turn off the garbage disposal as soon as the grinding noises stop.  It is better to leave the garbage disposal on (with the water running) for several seconds after the grinding noises subside, as there may still be small particles in the disposal unit which have not yet been cleared away.

– S.O.
The Patrick O’Brien Agency – Fishers, IN

Bone Friendly Foods

Want to boost your bone power?

Healthy bonesAs we get older, the threat of osteoporosis become more and more real.  Nearly 52 million Americans over age 50 have low bone density or osteoporosis according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.  According to them, 1 out of about 2 women and 1 in 4 men will break a bone thanks to osteoporosis.

As with most things, eating right and exercising can prevent osteoporosis but what exact foods and activities really make a difference.

Calcium is crucial but don’t be fooled that you can pop a supplement and up to par with your daily requirement.  Calcium supplements are not well absorbed.  It’s best to get it from food.  Aim to get 1,000 mg a day if you’re under age 50; 1,200 if you’re 50 or over.
–   Yogurt
–   Cheese
–   Soy
–   brocoli, Kale & other leafy greens

Vitamin D is debatable on whether it makes much of a difference in bone health but many experts say you can’t go wrong with taking a vitamin D supplement.  Especially if you live in northern states (like Indiana) where from October to April, you can’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun.  Aim to get 800-1000 IU daily from food and supplements.
–   Fatty Fish
–   Egg Yolk
–   Some types of orange juice
–   Fortified Milk and Cereal
–   Cod Liver Oil

Magnesium is a multipurpose mineral that helps your bones form and regulates vitamin D levels.  According to research, supplements may help to prevent bone loss.  Aim for 320 mg daily.
–   Bananas
–   Almonds
–   Avocados
–   Black beans
–   Whole wheat bread
–   Brown Rice

Vitamin K helps blood clot but it also plays a role in bone health.  BUT, experts don’t recommend taking a supplement.  Instead, aim for 90 mcg daily from food sources.
–   Leafy Greens:  Spinach, Kale, Romaine, & Lettuce
–   brocoli
–   Brussel Sprouts

If you want to tackle two or more of the above with one snack, try spinach.  Just 1/2 cup gives you 122 mg of calcium, plus bone building magnesium and vitamin K.  Also snack on almonds.  Just 1/4 cup offers 94 mg of calcium, filling fiber and healthy fats.

What do you eat to keep your bones strong?  Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with osteoporosis?

– S.O.
POB Agency

6 Amazing Household Things You Can Do With Salt

morton salt

Salt isn’t just for flavoring your food. Thanks to HGTV magazine, I just learned of 6 amazing ways to use salt around the house to fix some oops and clean a variety of items from tools to body parts.

1.   Remove the stains from a coffee mug

Pour half a teaspoon of salt into a stained coffee cup or teacup, scrub with a dry paper towel, then rinse.  The alkaline in the salt gets rid of discoloration from coffee or tea like magic.

2.   Neutralize a stinky sink

After cooking smelly things like onions and garlic, add a heaping tablespoon of salt to a quart of boiling water, then pour it down the drain to clear away odor-causing grease and bits of food

3.   Lift wine stains

Instead of cleaning a stain with a wet cloth, which can make it spread, blot the area with a dry cloth.  Then pour on a heaping mound of salt to help lift the stain off the fabric.  Let it sit for 30 minutes, then blot clean with cold water and wash.

4.   Eliminate rust

Use a paste of six tablespoons of salt and two tablespoons of lemon or lime juice on a dry cloth to wipe away rust from almost anything metal.  Use on bicycles, outdoor furniture, and tools.  Rinse thoroughly.

5.   Clean a cast iron skillet

Ad a splash of water and a teaspoon of Kosher salt to a cast-iron skillet.  Use a paper towel to wipe off food without causing the pan to lose its seasoning.

6.   Use as a body scrub

There are many exfoliating products for the body on the market but you can make a scrub at home with just a bit of sea salt.  Just mix two parts sea salt and one part grape seed oil and you’ve got a great exfoliating body scrub.

I learned quite a bit from this article in the HGTV April issue.  I think the wine tip and the stinky sink fix will come in especially handy at our house.  Did you learn anything new?  What will you try first?

– S.O.
POB Agency

Healthy Holiday Eating (and Drinking)

Holiday cookiesWe definitely want you to have fun this season and we know delicious baked goodies & seasonal beverages come with the territory.  Between baking at home with your family, receiving baked goods as gifts, and attending functions with a large selection of deserts & drinks, you’re probably consuming your fair share of bulge inducing delectables.  No wonder so many people make weight-loss a part of their New years resolutions!

Here’s how you can modify a bit but still have fun and enjoy the goodies.

If you’re baking, try substituting the following:

*   Whole wheat flour, ground oats or almond meal for FLOUR.
*   Honey or Stevia for SUGAR.
*   Applesauce, mashed banana or coconut oil for BUTTER & OIL.
*   Applesauce or flax meal for EGGS.
*   Carob chips or dark chocolate chunks for CHOCOLATE CHIPS.
*   Greek yogurt for SOUR CREAM.

If you’re attending a party try the following:

*   Make the earlier part of the day extra healthy.  Have a high fiber breakfast, a vegetable filled lunch and exercise in the afternoon.
*   Eat a healthy snack before the party to ease your hunger.  We’ve heard a cup of vegetable soup does a great job.  Also try fiber filled fruit, string cheese, almonds, 4 oz. Greek yogurt or 1/2 cup of cottage cheese.
*   When you get to the party, survey and determine your options before filling your plate.  Decide which foods you like best and choose only those – don’t fill up on the others.
*   Dish out smaller portions – about 20% less than you think you might want. (How many times have your eyes been bigger than your stomach at a party)?

If you are going to indulge in Holiday Libations, here are lower calorie options:

*   Wine spritzer = White or red wine mixed with club soda
*   5 oz. of wine, 12oz. of light beer, or 1.5oz of liquor combined w/ non-calorie mixers = 120 calories each.
*   Cranberry crush = Club soda splashed with cranberry cocktail and frozen grapes
*   Guiltless hot chocolate = 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder, skim milk, low-cal sweetener, dash of cinnamon & vanilla extract
*   Apple tea = Brewed tea sweetened with a splash of apple cider and a cinnamon stick.

Do you have any tricks, tips and strategies for savoring the season without putting on the pounds?  We’d love to hear it!

Merry Christmas!!

S.O.
POB Agency