Senior Workshop: Get Fresh! With Farm-Fresh Eating


Piedmont Fayette Hospital’s Sixty Plus Services and Fayette Senior Services present

Get Fresh! Farm-fresh eating…it’s easy, fun and better for you!

Thursday, July 18

11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (includes lunch)

Fayette Senior Services Life Enrichment Center

4 Center Drive, Fayetteville

The event is FREE. PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Seating is limited. Please call 770.461.0813 to register.

Whether it’s picking a tomato from your own garden or purchasing a basket of Georgia peaches from a local produce stand, there is a direct health benefit of eating fresh food. The “farm to table” local food movement is one current trend that is actually good for you! Our home-grown experts will introduce practical tips to make farm-fresh eating a part of a healthier lifestyle and ways to make the most out of seasonal produce. Learn all about the benefits of buying locally-grown food and why community gardens are such a great resource. From getting great nutritional advice to understanding what “super foods” are and why they are so good; the program includes a cooking demonstration and a fresh and delicious lunch!  Featured speakers: Tricia Stearns, executive director of Fresh South, Inc., Keith DeMars, director of nutrition and dining services, Piedmont Fayette Hospital and Lisa Stillman, RDLD.

What to Eat for Great Skin

healthy skin

As a bride, you’re going to have a natural glow on your big day. But what if you could take it to the max? You can, and it’s all about the foods you eat in the weeks or months leading up to your wedding date (and hopefully beyond).

Sticking to a diet that’s rich in whole foods will supply your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep your skin looking fantastic. Foods to incorporate into your diet include:

Beets: Beets reduce inflammation in the body and help balance the hormones, which can cause acne.

Carrots: The anti-aging beta-carotene gives a boost to your sunscreen’s effectiveness, but don’t skip the SPF!

Mangoes: The vitamin A and antioxidants in mangoes help skin look younger and more refreshed.

Pumpkin seeds: The zinc in these can help clear up acne or make the skin tone appear more even. There’s also magnesium and those lovable omega-3’s to give you a glow.

Coconut oil: Eating coconut oil, a healthy fat with vitamins A and C as well as antioxidants, (or applying it directly to the skin) can promote moisture and elasticity. It can help repair the skin.

Olives or olive oil: Olive oil works to keep moisture in the skin, whether you eat it or apply it topically. Try using extra virgin olive oil on your salads for an extra helping of antioxidants.

Salmon: This fish helps the skin retain moisture and also promotes collagen growth. The omega-3s in salmon and other fish like tuna, catfish, pollock, anchovies, and oysters also reduce inflammation.

Nuts: Eating a variety of nuts can give you an extra dose of vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium (especially in Brazil nuts), magnesium, copper, and B vitamins.

Green tea: Drink it, flavor your rice with it, or apply it topically. Green tea contains antioxidants (specifically EGCG) that help reduce DNA damage.

Eggs: Because of a combination of B vitamins, choline, protein, and lutein, eggs help the body make collagen and elastin. They also help reduce free radical damage to the skin.

Maple syrup: Maple syrup can enhance cell regeneration, and the antioxidants inside help neutralize free radicals.

Dark chocolate: Guess what? You don’t have to give up chocolate before your wedding day. Just choose dark chocolate, complete with antioxidants, and only have a square or two per day, at the most. It helps protect skin from sun damage.

Cucumbers: Not only are cucumbers loaded with water, they also contain antioxidants, vitamin C, and manganese (which helps create enzymes that boost antioxidant efficiency).

Melons: Like cucumbers, these are full of water so they assist with hydration. In addition, you get antioxidants, vitamins A and C, lycopene (which fight free radicals and block UV rays), beta-carotene, and anti-aging flavonoids.

Rhubarb: Full of antioxidants and lutein, rhubarb works against free radicals that come from exposure to the environment.

Berries: Berries are tiny little antioxidant powerhouses. Throw them on top of yogurt or cereal, or toss them into a smoothie.

Dark, leafy greens: You can’t go wrong with these. Cook them, use them in salads, or put them in smoothies when you’re always on the go between work and wedding planning (you can’t taste them once you add your other ingredients, like fruit, coconut water, or milk). You get vitamins like K, C, E, and B), minerals (iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium), and phytonutrients (lutein and beta-carotene).

What to skip: Refined sugar, white bread, soda, artificial sweeteners (Stevia is fine), and other processed foods.

Eat clean! Don’t underestimate the power of getting half your body weight in ounces of water (for example, a 150-lb woman should have at least 75 ounces of water each day), exercising five to six days per week, and sleeping seven to nine hours every night. By increasing your intake of foods that benefit your skin, you’ll find an increase in energy and maybe even a more balanced mood, too.

Best Fruit Plants for the Southern Garden

Blueberries look great massed planted in the garden and will reward you with luscious berries that are loaded with nutrients.

Mid-winter is the perfect time to plant fruit trees and shrubs in anticipation of enjoying your own delicious harvest in the years ahead. Many people are reluctant to grow fruit because they believe the process is too challenging. While growing some fruit, like peaches and apples, can be a daunting task, you’ll be surprised how many plants are easy to grow and maintain in your garden.

Blueberries look great massed planted in the garden and will reward you with luscious berries that are loaded with nutrients.

To get some recommendations on the easiest fruit plants to grow, I talked to one of our local growers, Greg Ison. Greg and his sisters, Darlene Ison-Evans and Janet Ison-McClure are the third generation of Isons to run their family-owned business, Ison’s Nursery & Vineyard, in Brooks. Their first muscadine vines were planted on three acres by their grandfather in 1934. Today the vineyard and nursery operations encompass 112 acres and feature over 200 varieties of fruit, nut and berry plants, including 22 patented varieties of muscadine.

Greg was happy to share a few of his favorite fruit plants for the home gardener. All his selections can be grown locally, are disease-resistant, have minimal pruning needs and will be non-invasive in your landscape. What’s not to like?

Blueberries: Not only are blueberries delicious and nutritious, they are easy to grow and have little or no pest problems. Blueberries, like all fruit plants, need full sun and well-drained soil. They also thrive in a more acidic soil with a pH of 4.5, so add peat moss to your planting hole and mulch with pine straw to help maintain the soil’s acidity. Blueberries are partially self-fertile but will produce more fruit if a couple of different varieties are planted. They look great as a hedge, mass planted in a garden bed or interspersed among other sun-loving plants.

Muscadines: This native grapevine plant needs a trellis or arbor to grow on and requires some pruning the first year to properly direct the vine growth up and down the support wire.  Once established, you will be rewarded with a sweet aroma in the late summer as the fruit ripens, and your arbor will become a fabulous focal point in the garden. Muscadines prefer to be planted in soil with a pH in the mid 6 range.

Olives: One of the oldest cultivated fruits in history, this mid-size tree has little or no pest problems and can be kept pruned to a height of 8-10’. Olive trees are drought-tolerant and love hot summers and mild winters. The fruit ripens in fall and early winter.

Pomegranates: Another fruit grown since antiquity, pomegranates are prized for their vivid color,

Did you know pomegranate juice has more than twice the amount of antioxidants found in green tea or red wine? Not only is this fruit super nutritious but it provides a vivid splash of color in the garden.

super nutrients and luscious flavor. Pomegranates prefer a more alkaline soil, so you will need to amend the soil. Some pruning will be needed in the first two years to promote a strong framework, but little pruning is required after that. Pomegranates are self-fertile and do not need another variety nearby.

Blackberries: Urban gardeners will enjoy planting blackberries because they take up little space. You can select blackberries that are erect or trailing, have thorns or are thornless. These plants will tolerate most soil types and have few disease and insect problems. Blackberries produce fruit on last year’s growth. Removal of canes is required after you have harvested the fruit. Each plant will yield about 1-2 gallons of blackberries per season.

Planting and Maintenance Tips:

The optimal time to plant fruit trees and shrubs is between mid-November and mid-March. Select a location where your plants will get full sun. Prior to planting, get a complete soil analysis (including pH) by taking a soil sample to your local extension office. You will receive instructions on amending the soil to benefit the specific fruit you are planting.

Dig a generous hole for each plant. According to Greg, “the biggest investment you can make is to dig a really nice, big hole where the roots have room to spread out and then to backfill with your loose dirt mixed with soil amendments. Your plants will be so much happier!”

Fertilize your plants in mid-April and mid-June. Check fertilizing needs of the specific fruit you are growing. And, as a general rule, don’t allow your plant to fruit the first year to allow all the energy directed toward establishing good growth.

Start today! According to Greg, “the best time to plant fruit was 20 years ago or today! It takes time for your plants to get established, but you will be well-rewarded.”

Ison’s Nursery & Vineyards is located on Hwy 16 near Griffin. Right now they have a full inventory of plants.  Check out their selections online at and read Greg’s blogs on their Facebook page to learn more about planting fruit.

5 Strategies to Curb Thoughtless Eating

cookies shhh

TOPS Offers Tips to Curb Thoughtless Eating

It’s a common scenario that many people often find themselves in: eating and overeating without rhyme or reason. Perhaps you always seem to feel hungry or eat “just because.” TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, explains the triggers that cause these behaviors and offers solutions to help curb thoughtless overindulgence.

Because It’s There
“It’s Monday, and we could all use a pick-me-up after the weekend,” says a co-worker. The local sandwich shop offers a free cookie with the purchase of a combo meal. The auto body shop replenishes a spread of sweet treats throughout the day while you wait for your service to be completed. When food is in plain sight, it’s convenient to grab a handful simply because it’s there. Be mindful, take personal inventory, and ask yourself if you are truly hungry at that moment. There are times when you may need to remove yourself from the situation or move the temptation out of reach, if necessary.

You Skip Breakfast
It can be difficult to fit a meal into the typical morning rush, but breakfast is considered the “most important meal of the day” for a reason. A study in the “American Journal of Epidemiology” showed that people who regularly skip breakfast are nearly five times as likely to be obese than those who don’t. Breakfast provides your body and mind with the fuel necessary to take on the day and get your metabolism out of its resting state and back to burning calories.

“So many people start every day on a diet and routinely skip breakfast in an effort to compensate for last night’s behavior with the hopes of losing weight,” says Nicholas “Dr. Nick” Yphantides, M.D., M.P.H., Medical Editor for TOPS. “In reality, skipping breakfast is much more likely to cause weight gain rather than weight loss. Overweight and obese individuals are much more likely to skip breakfast in comparison to healthier and leaner individuals.”

Unprocessed, fiber-rich foods like steel-cut or slow-cooked oatmeal, grapefruit, whole-grain and low-sugar cereals, and low-fat dairy are all best bets. If possible, prepare your breakfast ahead of time or bring your breakfast with you to work if you aren’t able to find the time to eat at home.

You’re Emotional
Emotions are a common eating trigger. You may typically celebrate happy news with a gourmet dinner and dessert, or soothe sadness with a large bowl of ice cream. Anger or stress can lead to munching on a seemingly bottomless bag of chips. While eating creates a temporary sense of physical fullness, it only temporarily distracts from the feelings that are bothering you. In actuality, the unhealthy decisions are likely to leave you feeling guilty with a sense of regret, which may start a vicious cycle of continued unhealthy decisions.

Instead, reach out to a friend or family for support and guidance. Even a quick workout releases tension, generates extra energy, and stimulates feel-good endorphins. Relaxing behaviors, like getting a quick massage or taking a hot bath, also help calm the system. If you are celebrating, remember that the occasion is about being with loved ones and creating memories – not about the food. Check in with your hunger level and see if you are actually hungry, or if you’ll be simply satisfied by the company.

You’re Bored
If you know boredom is a trigger for thoughtless eating, have a list of strategies in place to keep yourself busy and entertained when you feel like you don’t have anything else to do. An activity that occupies your hands is ideal, like giving yourself a manicure, reading a book, playing a game on the computer, or writing in a journal. Go for a walk with a friend and/or with your dog. This will also take you away from the kitchen and should help cravings subside. Or, drink a glass of water, which is filling. Snacking on celery or watermelon or chewing a piece of gum can also help curb appetite.

You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep, or just the typical mid-afternoon energy slump, can lead a person to binge on sugary or salty treats and beverages for a boost. Researchers at Columbia University note, people who sleep two to four hours a night are 73 percent more likely to be obese than those who get seven to nine hours. Those who get five or more hours of sleep a night are 50 percent more likely to be obese than normal sleepers.

“There is substantial and growing medical evidence suggesting some important links between adequate sleep and a healthy weight,” notes Yphantides. “Recent research has indicated that the production of certain hormones, leptin and ghrelin, may be influenced by how much or how little we sleep. Inadequate sleep can influence these hormone levels in our body in such a way that when we are sleep-deprived, we may not be as satisfied when we eat and our appetite may be enhanced. Additionally, it’s harder to be disciplined and make the right decisions when we are exhausted. One way that we may try to perk ourselves up is to consume extra fuel. All these actions contribute to excess caloric consumption and resulting weight gain.”

Getting consistent exercise can improve the quality of sleep and make you feel more rested. Avoid exercising less than three hours before bedtime though, as it can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep. To combat an afternoon lull, drink a large class of refreshing, cold water, take a walk around the office, or head outside for a quick walk. A change of scenery, fresh air, and sunshine can be invigorating and give you a jolt of positive energy.


TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded more than 64 years ago, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.SM” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information. TOPS has about 170,000 members – male and female, age seven and older – in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. Membership is affordable at just $28 per year in the U.S. and $32 per year in Canada, plus nominal chapter fees. To find a local chapter, view or call (800) 932-8677.

Ten Underappreciated ‘Super Foods’

sun seeds shutterstock_109481582

Do you know what’s in your fridge?  Believe it or not, there are many ordinary foods in there that have extraordinary nutritional value.  Whether it’s a vegetable or seed, these foods can add flavor and health benefits to any meal or snack.  TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, examines ten ‘super foods’ that you already have at home.
Beans (also known as legumes), including kidney, black, white and red beans, chick peas, and lentils, are a powerful source of protein and complex carbohydrates, as well as fiber and important vitamins and minerals.  Eating beans has been proven to help reduce cholesterol levels, body weight, the risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and some instances of cancer.  Add a variety of beans to your meal, whether they are fresh, frozen, canned, or dried.

Celery is a simple, yet important vegetable, offering vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can reduce cholesterol and protect against cancer.  Add celery to soups, stews, meats, side dishes, and other meals.

With a distinct flavor and fragrance, garlic contains anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that protect against heart disease, reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and provide anti-clotting features.  It also offers vitamins C and B6, manganese, and selenium.

Whether they’re sliced, diced, chopped, or pureed, onions have a pungent flavor and a lot of nutrition, containing fiber, minerals, and vitamins C and B6.  There has also been research to learn more about onions’ polyphenol and sulfur compounds, which may reduce the risk of cancer and boost immune function and heart health.

Green and yellow vegetables, including green peas, are often associated with reducing the risk of heart disease.  Garden, snow, snap, dried, and other varieties of peas are also loaded with vitamins A, C, K, and B, minerals, fiber, and protein.  They are a great source for eye-healthy compounds beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.  Include peas in a soup or stew, toss them into a salad, or eat them as a snack.

Black Pepper
This common spice is a great way to boost a meal’s flavor without adding calories.  Also, capsaicin, the substance that gives pepper its heat, is known for its anti-cancer properties and inflammation reduction, which is the root of chronic disease.  Use ground, cracked, or whole versions of pepper.

Bell Pepper
Bell peppers come in a variety of vibrant colors – green, red, yellow, orange, and purple.  Peppers offer powerful anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals, which can help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of certain cancers.  Enjoy cooked or raw peppers and their many health benefits.

Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin E, which serves as an anti-oxidant and contains anti-inflammatory properties.   They also offer B vitamins, heart-healthy polyunsaturated oil, manganese, magnesium, selenium, and phytosterols, a compound known to reduce blood cholesterol levels.  Add sunflower seeds to a fresh salad, mix them into chicken salad, sprinkle them over meat, or grind them up for a spread.

Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are a rich source of copper, which can provide arthritis relief.  They also contain calcium and magnesium, which may lower blood pressure, protect against osteoporosis, and more.  Mix them with steamed vegetables, sautéed fish or chicken, or add sesame seeds to homemade bread.

Canned Tomatoes
Canned tomatoes are not only a versatile ingredient, but they are also a powerhouse of anti-oxidants and nutrients, including lycopene, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and iron.  Keep some in your pantry for pasta and rice dishes, soups, stews, casseroles, ethnic meals, and other concoctions.


TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded more than 64 years ago, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information. TOPS has about 170,000 members – male and female, age seven and older – in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. Membership is affordable at just $28 per year in the U.S. and $32 per year in Canada, plus nominal chapter fees. To find a local chapter, view or call (800) 932-8677.

Omega-3s and Heart Health: What you should know


With heart disease the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s time to listen to your heart and get the right kinds of fats into your daily diet. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming polyunsaturated fats, specifically omega-3 fatty acids, for heart health. But what are these “good fats” and how do you make them a part of your daily nutrition program?

“Hundreds of studies from prestigious groups like the National Institutes of Health and universities like Harvard and Tufts, repeatedly and consistently show that when you add omega-3-rich foods or supplements to the diet, you help to lower your risk for heart disease,” says Elizabeth Somer, a registered dietitian and author of “Eat Your Way to Sexy.” “One important step is making sure your diet is packed with heart-healthy omega-3s. The omega-3s in fatty fish, especially DHA, keep blood vessels squeaky clean and reduce inflammation. They lower heart disease risk; raise HDLs – the good cholesterol; help stabilize the heartbeat and reduce blood clots, thereby curbing the risk for heart attack and stroke.”

Somer answers some questions about heart health:

Q: What are the main differences between “good fats” and “bad fats?”
A: We often hear that Americans eat too much fat, while people in other parts of the world aren’t eating enough. The truth is that, regardless of fat intake, very few people are eating the right fats. Fats to avoid are saturated and trans fats, which are solid at room temperature – like butter. In contrast, consuming polyunsaturated fatty acids – specifically omega-3s DHA and EPA found in fatty fish – are important for brain, eye and cardiovascular health.

Q: Doesn’t my body make all of the omega-3s needed to help maintain a strong heart?
A: Many experts have indicated that the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are essential nutrients due to the limited ability of our body to make enough of them and because of their beneficial health effects. That’s why we must get these nutrients from the foods we eat and supplements. The main dietary source of DHA and EPA is cold-water fish, such as salmon. Unfortunately, studies show the American diet includes far less than the ideal amount of DHA and EPA. For example, an average U.S. diet contains less than 100 milligrams of DHA per day. That is well below one expert’s recommendation of at least 220 milligrams of DHA per day. Studies show that the more omega-3s you consume, the healthier your heart.

Q: What if I don’t like eating fish – are there other ways to get DHA and EPA into my diet?
A: The most common sources of DHA and EPA omega-3s are fatty fish and fish oil. Interestingly, many people believe that fish produce their own DHA and EPA, but in actuality it is the microalgae in their food chain that make fish such a rich source of omega-3s. For those who do not eat significant amounts of fish due to dietary preferences, allergies, a vegetarian lifestyle or worries about potential ocean-borne pollutants, there are DHA/EPA supplements made from algae. One such supplement is Schiff MegaRed Plant-Omega, which is made from a vegetarian and sustainable source of DHA and EPA – algae. To learn more, visit

Q: How much DHA/EPA should I get in my diet?
A: If you’re not getting at least two servings a week of salmon, mackerel, herring or sardines, and you’re not loading foods fortified with an algal-based DHA onto your plate, then make sure to take at least 220 milligrams of DHA in pill form. According to the American Heart Association, people with documented coronary heart disease (CHD) are advised to consume about one gram of EPA and DHA per day.

Top 10 food trends for 2012


Last year’s high grocery prices had many Americans looking for ways to save at the supermarket. The upswing in prices over the past 12 months may have you wondering what will happen this year at your local grocery store.

In partnership with ConAgra Foods, industry expert, and “Supermarket Guru,” Phil Lempert, predicts an interesting year ahead.

“We will continue to see higher prices, but we will also see all the different ways Americans love their food – in supermarkets, on television, at restaurants and now even on their mobile phones,” Lempert says. “We are on the verge of what may be one of the most exciting and game-changing years in the food world.”

Lempert advises consumers to watch for 10 major trends in their supermarkets this year:

1. Higher food prices - Last year’s trend will continue, so consumers will place even more emphasis on ways to save money. In addition to already-popular methods like coupons and frequent shopper cards, you may want to consider using your mobile device to menu plan while you shop. Websites like ConAgra’s give you recipe ideas and can also help you find out which ingredients are on sale in your store.

2. The group experience will grow - Food blogs set a foundation for group experiences, food trucks tweet their locations, and flash food raves assemble underground at midnight. More Americans are choosing to eat and shop together in new ways. Mobile app marketers will offer “social rewards” for groups that shop together – think of it as the virtual version of warehouse clubs.

3. The baby boomer influence will grow – Last year, the first of the 76 million-strong boomer generation turned 65. Their influence on the supermarket will show up this year in increased healthful food options, wider aisles and lower shelves.

4. Increased emphasis on “farm to fork” - More Americans are interested in knowing where the food comes from. In 2012, you’ll see more blogs and social media featuring farmers, as well as advertising and TV programs starring farmers as food experts. Hunt’s tomatoes, for example, are grown in Oakdale, California and harvested at the peak of ripeness then flash-steamed to maintain the natural tomato goodness.

5. The end of the checkout lane – Tech-savvy options are gaining popularity, with consumers enjoying self-checkouts, comparing prices at nearby retailers, and taking advantage of the convenience of cellphone scanners, in-store interactive media devices, QR codes, RFID and mobile coupons.

6. Ethnic on the road – Food trucks are replacing gourmet and specialty stores as the channel to experiment and discover new food experiences – especially when it comes to ethnic foods. More often than not, these ethnic food trucks are operated by natives of the countries from which the actual cuisines being offered originated, and they have the ability and knowledge to share the heritage and romance of the food.

7. It’s a man’s (grocery shopping) world – Dads aren’t just winning the bread; these days, they’re also bringing it home from the grocery store. A Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that 41 percent of men are now preparing food for their families, as compared to half that percentage in 2003. Look for them to do more grocery shopping, too, Lempert predicts.

8. Extreme home cooking - More people will continue to eat at home to save money. Following the lead of extreme couponers, groups of everyday cooks pride themselves on making the most food for the least amount of money.

9. How sweet it isn’t - Reduced sugar products and revised Nutrition Facts panels will be the biggest health claim in 2012. With the negative health effects of sugar and high fructose corn syrup gaining so much attention, look for a continued emphasis on reducing sugar in our diets. Food producers like ConAgra are responding by eliminating high fructose corn syrup from such staples as Peter Pan peanut butter and Hunt’s Ketchup products.

10. Listen to your food - You judge the readiness of some foods (like microwave popcorn or grilled burgers), by the sounds they make. Multisensory perception will be one of the new “food sciences” in 2012, as psychologists and food scientists join forces to design, create and influence the sounds of our foods to convey freshness, taste and even health attributes.

For more information about Phil Lempert’s 2012 predictions, visit, and for simple meal ideas made in 30 minutes or less, visit


Feed your heart!


by Shar Peters

Feed your heart as if your life depended on it. It does.

Here are some tips for healthy heart nutrition:

  • Go fishing. Eat salmon, tuna, trout, herring and halibut twice a week.
  • Grab a handful of nuts. They’re one of the highest sources of dietary omega-3 fatty acids. Because they are high in calories, eat only a handful of unsalted walnuts or other nuts daily.
  • Bring Popeye back into your life. Eat spinach. It’s an ultimate heart-healthy food.
  • Support the earth. Eat those things that grow in the ground or on a tree. Choose colorful fruits and vegetables for main meals and snacks. Blueberries are perfection.
  • Think brown and whole grains. Substitute white rice with brown. Choose wheat pasta. Select whole grain breads. Discover steel-cut oats and barley.
  • Monitor your meat. Limit your intake of red meat. Choose chicken or turkey without the skin, or lean pork tenderloin. Prepare these without added saturated and trans fats, or rich sauces. Once a week plan a meal with beans instead of meat.
  • Be dairy wise. Select fat-free, one-percent fat, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Know your fats. Use olive oil, an unsaturated fat. It can lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
  • Skip the sugar. Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
  • Cocktail caution. If you drink alcohol, remember, one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man.
  • Just back away. Think portion control and back away from the table.

Source: American Heart Association

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Immunity-boosting Foods from Your Kitchen

In the Northern hemisphere, it’s now peak time for the flu and colds, which grip millions of Americans each year. And contrary to common belief, the best way to combat viruses and bacteria is not in your medicine cabinet – it’s in your kitchen.

Topical BioMedics, makers of Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream, has partnered with Roufia Payman, the director of outpatient nutritional services at Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck, NY, to provide a list of nutritional tips for top immunity-boosting foods that can help you achieve optimum healing and wellness.

We’ve all heard the saying “Starve a fever and feed a cold”…Or is it, “Feed a fever and starve a cold?” The actual phrase, which dates back to the middle 1500s, claims we should starve a fever and feed a cold. But there’s no reason to be confused because the good news is that starving is never the correct answer, making it easy to remember you should feed both.

Foods that are rich in nutrients may help keep you well, or if you do succumb to illness, will help your body fight off the infection.

For starters, it’s always a good idea to include more raw fruits and vegetables in your diet as they provide an abundance of all important antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Zinc is an important mineral, as well, as it has antioxidant effects plus is vital to the body’s resistance to infection and to stimulate the immune system.  Foods rich in zinc include eggs, meats, nuts, seafood, seeds, wheat germ and whole grains.

The mineral selenium helps to boost immunity and increase your body’s production of cytokines, which help remove the flu virus.  Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts and seafood, particularly lobster, oysters, crab, clams, tuna and cod.

It’s important to think protein, too.  It’s vital to help build and repair tissue and fight viral and bacterial infections.  Choose lean sources like skinless chicken, turkey, sardines, and beans, as well as a good-quality whey protein powder.

Here’s a list of top immunity-boosting foods for optimum healing and wellness.

Grandma was right – nothing beats chicken soup for fending off sniffles.  Not only does it provide the fluids needed to help fight off viruses, it’s a powerful mucus stimulant so it helps clear nasal congestion as well as thin mucus.  It’s also thought to have a mild anti-inflammatory effect than can help ease cold symptoms. Keep some organic chicken stock on hand, because studies have found that even commercial soup is as effective as homemade.

If you want to punch up the healing power of your chicken soup – or any other dish – add plenty of garlic and onions.  When combined, these flavorful healers contain numerous antiseptic and immunity boosting compounds.  As an added plus, garlic helps to open clogged sinuses.

No herbal medicine cabinet should be without mushrooms.  They increase the production of cytokines, which are cells that help fight off infection.  They also contain polysaccharides, which are compounds that support the immune system.  The most potent cold- and flu-fighting ‘shrooms are shitake, maitake and reishi.

Citrus fruits contain hefty doses of powerhouse vitamin C.  Studies have found that this antioxidant can reduce cold symptoms by 23 percent, and all that’s needed is just one to eight grams (1,000 to 8,000 milligrams) to do the trick.  Besides citrus fruits, other foods that have high amounts of vitamin C include papaya, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, tomatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts and red bell peppers.

Studies have shown that eating a cup of low-fat yogurt each day can reduce your susceptibility to colds by 25 percent.  The beneficial bacteria is Lactobacillus reuteri which has been found to block the replication of viruses that invade the body when we get sick. Not all brands have that particular bacteria, so check labels and be sure to go organic.

While yogurt is a great source of probiotics, some have more than others and we can really benefit by taking an additional supplement.  Other immune-booster “musts” are vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acid.

Hot tea is soothing and a great home remedy, helping to thin mucus and ensure proper hydration. For added health benefit, sip green or black tea – both are filled with flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants.

Ginger comes to the aid when we’re sick in some powerful ways. Besides soothing a scratchy throat, it has chemicals called sesquiterpenes that target rhinoviruses – which are the most common family of cold viruses – as well as substances that help suppress coughing. Ginger is also a natural pain and fever reducer and a mild sedative so you’ll feel more comfortable and be able to rest easier.  Add a couple of tablespoons of shredded gingerroot to your tea, or make ginger tea (it comes in tea bags, but you can also simmer fresh sliced ginger to make a potent brew).

Honey has numerous medicinal properties and because it coats your throat it is a natural way to soothe sore throats. It also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi.  Skip the common clover honey that you’ll find in the supermarket as it has the lowest antioxidant level.  Look for buckwheat honey, which has the highest. (A note of caution:  never give honey to children under one years of age because their immune systems are not developed enough to ward off infantile botulism, which is carried in honey spores.)

It’s ironic that black pepper – the spice best known for making you sneeze – can ward off the sniffles.  Black peppercorns are high in piperine, a compound known for its anti-fever and pain-relieving qualities.

Make recipes more flavorful with garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano – while spicing things up, you’ll also get an added kick of immune-busters, too.

Follow these tips, nourish yourself with these immunity-boosting foods and have a happy and healthy season.


Roufia Payman is a contributing columnist to Natural Healing, Natural Wellness, a newsletter published by Topical BioMedics featuring insight from experts in various health fields.  The newsletter is available free at Sign up to receive updates when a new issue of the newsletter is published as well as other news and information.

Topricin is available in pharmacies, natural food stores and other fine retailers nationwide, including Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe, Vitamin World, Fred Meyer, Wegmans, and other retail stores throughout the U.S., as well as direct from the Topical BioMedics’ online store. To learn more about Topricin, go to

Broccoli…with a Side of Baby


Trying to get pregnant? These 6 edible nutrients could increase the chances of conceiving

For those with a clear-cut fertility problem such as blocked fallopian tubes or sperm duct defects, diet isn’t going to make much of a difference. “But there are many shades of gray in fertility issues,” says Beth Weinhouse, editorial director for Conceive magazine. In unclear instances, sometimes consuming certain nutrients may actually help a couple get pregnant a little faster.

Here are six helpful nutrients to get via grub.


Many women suffering from infertility need to lose weight, says Melinda Johnson, registered dietician and owner of Nutrition For Slackers (, a personal counseling service for would-be dieters.

Fat cells produce estrogen; if the body produces too much of it, it can react as if it was on birth control and ovulation may be inadequate or not occur. Excess weight also is frequently a factor in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, an endocrine disorder in which an abundance of small cysts on the ovaries can lead to hormonal imbalances that can interfere with egg development and release.

Johnson recommends eating foods high in fiber, such as oatmeal, whole grains, whole fruits, veggies and beans, as they are usually loaded with vitamins, low in fat and can help fill the belly so that dieters end up consuming less calories throughout the day.

According to research, hopeful mothers-to-be who are concerned about carbs really shouldn’t be. The results of the famed Harvard University Nurse’s Health Study, published in 2006, showed that among the approximately 18,000 women observed over eight years, the amount of carbohydrates in their diets didn’t affect fertility; what mattered immensely was the quality. Eating lots of easily-digested carbohydrates, such as white bread and potatoes, can increase blood sugar and insulin levels, which, in turn, can disrupt hormonal balance and throw off ovulation. But slowly digested, high-fiber carbohydrates can improve chances of getting pregnant.

Folic Acid

Repeated studies have shown that women who get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid (vitamin B9 or folate) daily, prior to conception and during early pregnancy can reduce the risk that their baby will be born with serious neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, by up to 70 percent. Recent research suggests that it also may help prevent severe congenital heart disease, Weinhouse says.

Chances are a medical adviser will recommend a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid, but Weinhouse notes that citrus fruits, strawberries, green leafy vegetables, beans and legumes also are good sources.

Vitamin C

To promote sperm count, quality and mobility, feed daddy some kiwifruit, Johnson says. These edible berries are an exceptionally rich source of vitamin C, a nutrient that research suggests may aid male fertility by preventing sperm from clumping together.

Papaya, red bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries and oranges are also C-heavy options.


Another finding of the Nurse’s Health Study was that women who took extra iron experienced less ovulation-related infertility. In addition, the women who consumed nonheme iron (found in plant sources) had a significantly lower risk of infertility due to ovulation than those who were consuming heme iron (found in animal sources).

It is possible to overdo it with iron, so check with a doctor before taking a supplement. But when it comes to making smart dining choices, Weinhouse suggests limiting the meat and beefing up on nuts, seeds, dried fruit, watermelon and leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens.

Plant Protein

Protein does help to regulate insulin function and is important for early fetal development, but now is not the time to start the Atkins program. According to the Nurse’s Health Study, the women who ate the most protein were 41 percent more likely to have problems with ovulatory infertility than women in the group that ate the least protein. And just as with iron, the women who got the majority of their protein from plant sources had substantially less problems than women who favored red meat and poultry.

Try to limit meat to occasional small portions and consume more beans, peas and nuts, Weinhouse says. Brazil nuts are an especially good buy for him, adds Johnson, as they are rich in vitamin E and selenium, two nutrients that have been shown to boost sperm production and motility.


Multiple studies have found that a deficiency in this mineral can lower testosterone and diminish both sperm count and quality, Weinhouse says. Make sure he’s getting his fill by feeding him pumpkin and sunflower seeds, wheat germ, chickpeas, mushrooms, spinach and oysters.

Figure Out Fiber


For years, any weight-loss aficionado could easily tell you the best sources of dietary fiber: whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. But in today’s environment, things have changed. Grocery store shelves have become crowded with traditionally low-fiber foods that are now packed with fiber, like candy, ice cream, and artificial sweeteners.

According to TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, these “new fiber” foods may not yield the same health benefits as their traditional high-fiber food counterparts.

Defining Fiber

Dietary fiber – also called roughage – is defined by the Institute of Medicine as the edible, nondigestible component of carbohydrate and lignin found naturally in plant food. Fiber is not digested or absorbed in the small intestine, and it does not contribute calories; rather, bacteria in the stomach metabolize the fibrous parts of food. When you eat a food that contains a natural source of dietary fiber, you are said to be eating intact fiber.

Added fiber consists of isolated, nondigestible carbohydrates that have beneficial physiological effects in humans. These fibers can be synthetically manufactured or derived from other plant or animal sources. An example of an added fiber is pectin extracted from citrus peel and used as a gel in making jam or jelly. Generally, added fiber is referred to as isolated or functional fiber.

Total fiber is the sum of dietary (or intact) fiber plus added (or isolated or functional) fiber. Things can seem confusing on the Nutrition Facts panel of food packaging because “dietary fiber” includes all sources of fiber in that food, whether they are from intact or isolated sources. This is why you can see upwards of ten grams of dietary fiber listed for a fiber-fortified flour tortilla that traditionally would have only one or two grams of fiber.

Fiber can help lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and promote satiety or the feeling of fullness.

According to The Institute of Medicine, women ages 50 and younger should consume 25 grams of fiber per day. Women ages 51 and older should aim for 21 grams per day. For males, those 50 and under need 38 grams per day, and men ages 51 and older should consume 30 grams of fiber per day.

Isolated vs. Intact Fiber

According to Katie Clark, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.E., Assistant Clinical Professor of Nutrition at the University of California – San Francisco and nutrition expert for TOPS, the health benefits of intact fiber are widely accepted among health professionals.

Researchers who study the effects of fiber on health have done so largely by analyzing the dietary fiber that occurs naturally in high-fiber foods. But do the health benefits of dietary fiber extend to synthetically manufactured or extracted fibers added to traditionally low-fiber foods? The American Dietetic Association (ADA) maintains that, “Whether isolated, functional fibers provide protection against cardiovascular disease remains controversial.” The ADA’s position paper on dietary fiber goes on to say, “Longer-term studies of fiber intake which examine the effects of both intrinsic (intact) and functional (isolated) fibers…are required.”

“Because we don’t know to what degree the health benefits of dietary fiber are attributable to intact fibers (the additional nutrients in those high-fiber foods), most dietitians and nutrition professionals are recommending that consumers focus on eating foods that are naturally high in fiber,” says Clark.

Whole foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables are not only high in fiber, but low in salt, devoid of added sugar, and tend to be lower in calories than processed and packaged foods. Many of the isolated fiber foods on the market are highly processed and are high in salt, added sugars, and extra calories.

“Much like the notion that ‘organic junk food is still junk food,’ keep in mind that a ‘high-fiber cookie is still a cookie!’” notes Clark.

Side of Package Sleuthing

To determine whether the fiber in a food product comes from an intact or isolated source, you should search the ingredients list on food packaging.

The most common isolated fibers that manufacturers use to bulk-up traditionally low-fiber foods are:

  • Maltodextrin
  • Inulin (chicory root)
  • Polydextrose
  • Oat fiber
  • Resistant Start
  • Pectin
  • Gum

Keep in mind that rapidly increasing the amount of fiber in your diet can lead to gas, bloating, and other gastrointestinal discomfort. Drinking more water alongside increasing fiber intake and slowly increasing fiber intake by a few grams per day can help alleviate symptoms.

By increasing the amount of whole grains and legumes in your diet and making sure to eat five to seven servings of fruits per day, it’s quite possible to meet your dietary fiber needs without eating fiber-fortified or isolated fiber foods. Eating whole foods that are naturally high in fiber are oftentimes more satiating – and less expensive – than foods that contain functional fiber or are fiber-fortified.

“Fiber can be an important tool in weight loss, diabetes management, and reducing the risk for other chronic diseases,” says Clark. “When selecting high-fiber foods, look for whole fiber foods over fake fiber foods to maximize your health potential.”

Mission: Healthy Meals for Schoolchildren

Adam Soper, son of Brad and Laura Soper, loves the garden Patch option!

Adam Roper, son of Brad and Laura Soper, loves the Garden Patch option!

With childhood obesity becoming an epidemic in this country, a professor at Georgia State University has linked overweight children with federal school nutrition programs. Research published in the Summer 2010 edition of The Journal of Human Resources by Associate Professor Rusty Tchernis (“School Nutrition Programs and the Incidence of Childhood Obesity”) reveals that children who eat lunch as part of the National School Lunch Program have an increased likelihood of becoming overweight.

Even the military is concerned. Mission: Readiness, a non-profit group made up of America’s retired Generals, Admirals, and civilian military leaders issued a report earlier this year (“Too Fat to Fight”) calling on Congress to pass new child nutrition legislation that would (a) get the junk food out of schools; (b) support increased funding to improve nutritional standards and the quality of meals served in schools; and (c) provide more children access to effective programs that cut obesity.

It’s an about-face for the military, considering they were the ones who helped win passage of the National School Lunch Program in 1946 after turning away 40 percent of recruits during World War II for reasons related to poor nutrition. Now the opposite is true. “Too Fat to Fight” reports that at least 9 nine million 17-24-year olds in the United States are too fat to serve in the military: “Obesity rates among children and young adults have increased so dramatically that they threaten not only the overall health of America but also the future strength of our military,” the report concludes.

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has been working to reform school meals in the U.K. and has brought his campaign “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” to the U.S., educating families and schools how to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients.

The staff of Professional Touch Catering kathy Sullivan, Chef Matt Preble and LauraLyn Preble

And now, St. Paul Lutheran School in Peachtree City has followed his lead by starting its own food revolution.

St. Paul had been considering changes to their lunch program for some time, but the recent economic recession brought the issue to the forefront. Faced with increased operating costs while trying to keep tuition costs steady, the school administration decided it was time to seriously investigate their options.

According to Principal Jim Richards, “We needed to find a way to save money, but we also wanted to give the kids healthier choices.”

St. Paul looked to other Lutheran schools in the Missouri Synod for inspiration and what they found was that some schools were contracting with local catering companies.

Enter church member and professional chef Matt Preble, owner of Professional Touch Catering. Preble’s approach differed from the other proposals received in that he aimed to create a complete food ministry that includes providing school lunches made from scratch using fresh ingredients as well as freezing family-sized leftovers to use as “love meals” for church members in crisis.

Chef Preble has some basic rules in his kitchen. Nothing comes out of a can. He scrutinizes products to make sure no artificial ingredients are used. Juices are 100% fruit juice. He limits frozen foods, choosing fresh meats and produce as much as possible. He uses antibiotic and hormone-free proteins. He doesn’t use chopped or formed meats, such as chicken nuggets or fish sticks. (Chef Preble forms his hamburger patties by hand!) The only exception to this rule is the 100% beef hotdogs he serves on occasion.

Chef Preble was trained at Western Culinary Institute (now Le Cordon Bleu) in Portland, Oregon, where he was captain of the Culinary Competition Team and Valedictorian of his graduating class. He has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality and food service industry including employment with The Sundried Tomato, Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center, as well as stints in restaurants in Panama City and New Orleans.

His wife, LauraLyn, works beside him at St. Paul, encouraging students to pick up a fresh piece of fruit before leaving the kitchen.

“We want to broaden their palettes with our food,” she says. “We won’t turn away anyone wanting to try something.” She describes her husband’s cooking style as a “fusion” since he was trained in international cuisine and tries to incorporate it into his menu.

So what’s for lunch at St. Paul? During a given week, the menu features baked tilapia with provençale sauce, long grain wild rice and broccoli almondine; chicken parmesana, spaghetti pomodoro and Italian green beans; meatloaf with gravy, cheesy mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables; or, blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon.

Students also have the choice of selecting the “Garden Patch” option on any given day. In addition to a fresh salad bar, the Garden Patch also features pairings such as tuna salad with creamy tomato basil soup, egg salad with beef and barley soup, and chicken salad with minestrone soup.

The response of the students and parents at St. Paul has been overwhelmingly positive. Participation in the school lunch program has doubled. Surprisingly, the cost hasn’t gone up: it’s the same as last year, a reasonable $3.00 for hot lunch and $2.00 for Garden Patch. Parents and church members can also have lunch for $4.00 ($3.00 for Garden Patch).

Chef Preble is surprised by some of the favorites. “We sold out of the tilapia last week!” he says.

“It’s a blessing to have such a positive response to this new program that provides healthy choices and fellowship for our students and church members,” says Principal Richards.

For more information about St. Paul Lutheran Church & School, visit or call 770-486-3545. For more information about Professional Touch Catering, visit www.professionaltouchcatering or call 678-870-9201.