Meditation benefits include - mental clarity, reduction of stress, increased focus, enhanced Self awareness, lowered blood pressure, improved sleep, reduction of pain, and the list goes on.
Some call it silent prayer. Others say it’s listening to the still, small voice. I call it “getting in rapport with the Universe”. Whatever one chooses to call it, the jury has deliberated, and the verdict is in, anyone who chooses to adopt a daily practice of meditation is in for a plethora of benefits. These include reduction of stress, increased focus, enhanced Self awareness, lowered blood pressure, improved sleep, reduction of pain, and the list goes on. Mental clarity is another reward of a meditation discipline. I have noticed in my own path of meditation practice that my anxiety level has decreased over time. I was a very anxious, worried and stressed person before I started meditation . Now, everyday I meditate, those old feelings of stress and anxiety I used to experience are low to zero. I have also found a greater sense of confidence and direction through finding and utilizing a practice. There is certain peace and tranquility that comes from learning to be still in meditation. Think about it, going through the day without experiencing debilitating stress or anxiety. This is possible with meditation.
Which meditation practice is best?
This is a question every beginner will likely wonder. In some meditation practices, there is an object of focus, resting the attention on the Heart center, breathing in and out, or a particular feeling or sound. This helps us focus on an object in the moment, thus releasing the “shoulds” and worries of our lives. There are countless different practices, such as a walking, sitting, and lying meditation. There is also the very popular visualization meditation. You can close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and imagine an uplifting scene of your pleasing, possibly a nature scene with sounds of a running stream, the smell of blooming wildflowers, the feeling of a light warm breeze and the view of a pink sky, lit up by a summer sunset. The imagined experience, whatever you choose, when experienced fully and with all the senses, triggers elevated emotions that leave us with a sense of peace. Doing this practice regularly trains the body to be in a state of relaxation.
A little investigation will be needed to find your favored approach.
The main thing is to get started. Guided meditations are a great first step. This is a verbally directed meditation, so all you have to do is follow along. There are many different styles and everyone is different, so its important to find what works for you. Start out with 5 to 10 minutes then gradually extend the time and try different methods:
Five Minute Meditation You Can do Anywhere
Forest Walk Guided Meditation
Yesterday, I decided to go to the grocery store on my bicycle. Lack of traffic made my trip both easy and safe. The absent particle haze from interstate 81, has also left our valley with much clearer skies. The air feels fresher and reinvigorating! Consider how a healthy environment can impact your life for the better. Take this opportunity to slow down and:
Picking up trash is a great way to help ensure we are keeping both the trail and waterway clean. Everything from soda bottles, grocery bags, coffee cups, and yes, even polyester clothing, which enters the waterway or environment will turn into microplastics. Microplastics are derived from these larger pieces of from larger pieces of plastic trash. By cleaning out our small portion of the environment we could potentially save birds, fish, and continue to build a healthier ecosystem in Mercersburg and those communities downstream.
Bottom line…a healthy environment and life, begins with each of us! So go out and enjoy the Spring. Delight in the vibrant greens and other colors which abound in nature, and stay safe and healthy.
Everyday Chef March 2020 Class 1 - Chicken or Fish or Eggplant - 3 variations on 3 recipes!
All totaled, in an hour of prep and cooking, the group made 9 different main dish variations, side dishes and rounded the meal out with a salad of mixed greens, apple, oranges, walnuts and avocado with 3-2-1 Dressing. All sat down to a meal together and enjoyed the success of their efforts and fabulous variety of flavors.
Many thanks to Chef Adam Carlson for volunteering his time and talent. Everyday Chef appreciates support from Food Lion, their wonderful selections (including organic) and friendly atmosphere.
Crunch Oven Chicken Strips (or Fish or Eggplant!!)
1/2 cup all purpose whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
4 eggs (or flax seed egg substitute)
2 pounds of chicken breast or fish filet cut into strips, or medium eggplant in 1/2 inch slices
1/2 dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon dried basil
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Sift or stir flour, salt, and pepper together in a shallow dish. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs with cornmeal and basil.
4. In a third bowl, crack eggs, separate the whites from yolks and whisk whites lightly.
5. To bread the chicken strips, dip first into flour, shaking off any excess, then into egg whites, then into bread crumb mixture.
6. Spray a shallow baking dish with non stick cooking spray. Lay chicken strips flat in the dish, tucking under any thinner ends of edges for a more even bake.
7. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes - check temperature (Chicken needs to be baked to 165 degrees).
**To substitute this recipe with 2lbs of fish fillets, follow the same instructions except bake for 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
**To substitute this recipe with eggplant, slice the eggplant and follow the same instructions. Baking at 375* until eggplant is fork tender.
THAI BLACK RICE SALAD
2 cup Thai black rice (or other whole grain rice blend)
1 tsp sea salt
¼ cup chopped onion
1 red pepper (diced)
1½ cups, pineapple peeled and diced
3 green onions (sliced)
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)
1/2 cup toasted cashews
1/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium)
2 lime (juiced)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1. Cook the rice as directed on the package with 1/2 tsp salt and ¼ cup onion.
2. Cool cooked rice.
3. Mix the black rice, red pepper, pineapple, green onions, cilantro, and cashews in a large bowl.
4. Mix the soy sauce, oil, lime juice and zest in a small bowl.
5. Pour mixture over rice and toss.
Put Thai black rice over mixed greens
INDIAN FUSION STYLE CHICKEN or shown in homepage picture with EGGPLANT/PORTABELLO
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast cut in 1” chunks
1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken thigh cut in 1” chunks
(or 3/4" cube one large eggplant and slice 2 large portabella mushrooms)
One medium size onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
1 16 oz can chickpeas drained
2 bay leaves
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp canola or olive oil
**Important, the peppers and onions need to be sliced very thinly!!!
1. Heat oil in pan. Brown garlic and onion lightly. (Or, see below to sauté without oil***)
2. Add chicken and start to sear. Cook 3-5 minutes.
3. Add dry seasoning and stir well. Sear 1-2 minutes more.
4. Add tomatoes and chickpeas and lemon juice.
5. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes.
* To sauté without oil, heat your pan to medium, then throw in your onions - theywill give up their own moisture for cooking; if additional moisture is needed, you can use vegetable broth, apple cider, white wine, water, whatever.
Have fun cooking these recipes, and then create your own variations, using different ingredients and spices!
Preventing Nature Deficit Disorder
It's so important to give our minds and bodies a break from our ever busier, technology driven world by
taking daily doses of laughter, mindfulness and nature. Here's some thoughts on how to accomplish this healthful habit.
Last Friday evening as we completed a 19 mile bike ride to Old Stonebridge – coming back along Stitzel, King, Findley, and McFarland – we were treated to a beautifully spreading and glowing sunset, lighting up the clouds with azures, rose, violet, orange and golden edges. I felt my mood soaring. Later as I sat down to my computer again – revisiting the irksome website I had been working on earlier in the day – even then my mood remained elated. It wasn’t just the endorphins of the exercise that did this; it was the 2 hours of immersion into the out of doors – our beautiful rolling hills, fields, streams, woods, mountain views.
My experience gave me some further insight into the term “Nature Deficit Disorder”, coined by child advocacy expert Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods”. He points out that getting out into nature is actually key to the developing brain, mobility and agility, and remains important to adult mental and physical health.
Anyone who takes a nice walk outdoors over lunch-break, will tell you that they come back refreshed from the morning’s work and energized for the afternoon. The exercise is great for your heart, lungs, brains, bones, and joints, and it goes beyond that; the mindfulness of the daylight, the fresh air, the views, the sights and sounds around – debrief us from the busy work morning, relax us, refresh us. Not only does it make us work more efficiently in the afternoon, the physiologic benefits of stress reduction are well known.
In a presentation to the American Academy of Pediatrics*, Mr. Louv included some interesting facts from research on nature’s role in our growth and wellbeing:
Think of when you were a child. On weekends we left the house in the morning and road the neighborhood on bikes, explored streams, climbed trees. Remember the delight and amazement of finding a birds nest, spying a box turtle hidden in the garden, gathering brightly colored leaves; we collected acorns, rocks, feathers, shells from our nature trips – and made a “natural science center” at home.
In one generation we have dramatically shifted away from that exploring, adventure, creativity, and fresh air, to a world focused on hand held devices, Aps and screens – at home, at school, at work. We’re connected to the internet and disconnected from the outside world.
We can blame technology, but behind every screen-dominant upbringing is an overly cautious parent. Understandably, we want to protect our kids from “out there” variables; but as a result we’ve created a divide in our lives from nature. The more we get back out doors and preserve it in our yards and our communities, the more we recapture security as well as key health benefits.
One might think that kids and adults can “travel” further and see more with computers and TV. One can look at pictures from Tuscarora Ridge, but that’s nothing like hiking up there, marveling at the rock formations and seeing the vast views of our valleys. One can look at a picture of Johnston Run, but that’s nothing like sitting there, listening to the stream and the rustling of the wind and birds in the trees, or catching a glimpse of a curious critter out of the corner of your eye. One can look at a field of wild flowers, but that’s nothing like standing in it, watching bees, monarchs, humming birds and other pollinators busily at work. Interestingly – they are actually harvesting in their garden, and creating the seeds for their next year’s food supply. Listen intently and you can hear the flap of a butterfly’s wings – honest!
Further, if we only explore the world in photos or in virtual reality, our non- involvement in the real world of nature causes us to not see its changes, pollution and degradation; we are risking losing it.
Enjoy some of these (and there are many more) outdoor activities in our area:
Perhaps, if we each enrich our well being with daily doses of laughter, mindfulness and nature, we can have a world with joy, awareness of each moment, and a commitment to a sustainable Earth.
The term “processed foods” is tossed around a lot and can be a little hard to be certain of just what that means, or why these foods can be a health problem. In the winter, without our fresh local produce stands, the choices can seem more limited. However, there really are plenty of options. Most of our foods are at least minimally processed, unless you’re the rabbit that eats my lettuce down to the nub or the deer that yank the sweet potatoes from the ground. Our plant foods have to be picked and usually are washed and placed in some kind of container – “minimally processed.” These foods have their nutrients intact.
Grains such as brown rice (in picture) and rolled oats are also minimally processed as they’re removed from the plant shaft, and generally sold in some kind of container; when cooked they still retain their nutritional value. However, when you take whole grain rice and mill it to remove the bran layer and the germ to get white rice, you’re more intensely processing away a number nutrients as well as flavor. 1 Cup of brown rice contains 4.4 g of fiber, while a cup of white rice contains only 0.8 g. Fiber helps boost satiety, aiding in healthy weight management, cholesterol and glucose control, AND your microbiome thrives on it. Brown rice is a good source of vitamins B and E, manganese, selenium and magnesium. With processing you also lose these important nutrients.
If you take the rice and process it further into packaged Rice-A- Roni with Chicken Flavor, you now have a rice dish that has 9 grams of fat (with 2g saturated) and 1060 mg sodium, MSG, Ferric Orthopohosphate, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate! To find the actual “Ingredients” contained in a product you have to look at the box of fine print below the “Nutrition Facts” (see the Quaker Oats illustration)
Here’s what happens when we process good old Quaker Oatmeal into the instant oatmeal packets (see illustrations); note that the list of “ingredients” grows from one ingredient to a whole paragraph of unrecognizable ingredients. The only ingredient in the round box of Quaker Oats is “Rolled Oats”.
Instead of using the instant package of additives, artificial flavoring and preservatives, here’s an easy to make breakfast: place ½ apple chopped into a bowl, shake on cinnamon, add ½ cup oatmeal and 1 cup water, stir, microwave for 1 ½ - 2 minutes to your preference of consistency.
Freezing and canning are also forms of processing, and helpful for storage and availability. These are done when the food is at peak ripeness, flavor and nutrient value, and can be done “minimally” without losing much nutritional value. Cooking and canning can actually make some nutrients more available (such as lycopene from tomatoes) and decreases others. So we actually benefit by including both raw and cooked fruits in our food choices. So we could consider these foods “minimally processed” EXCEPT when sugar, salt, artificial flavor and preservatives are added. Compare Lipton’s Ragu spaghetti sauce with 756 mg of sodium, to Classico Roasted Garlic which has just 220mg per serving. A Prego brand tomato sauce has 10 g of sugar added. Many sauces and soups have added fats. All you can do is read the labels and compare. When purchasing canned (or jarred) fruits and veggies look for less than 250 mg sodium per portion and no added sugar, preservatives, flavoring, coloring.
Processed meats are best avoided for several reasons. Meats are often processed by salting, curing, fermenting smoking turning into sausage, baloney, luncheon meats, hotdogs, bacon etc. In 2015 the World Health Organization reported that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified processed meat as a carcinogen (something that causes cancer). Processed meats also contain large amounts of saturated fats and salts, as well as preservatives and coloring agents. It’s not unusual for these to be a part of children’s meals (think hot dogs); one can see how over the years this could contribute to not only cancer, but also obesity and hypertension; something to ponder as we shop, cook meals and pack lunches for our families. Schools are working to improve the quality of their meals - cooking from scratch, leaving out processed meats, using whole grains, including more fruits and vegetables.
In summary :
1. Choose mostly foods that don’t need an “ingredient” label – fruits and veggies. Or choose “minimally processed” packaged food.
2. For packaged items look past the claims on the front of the package, and look at the actual ingredient list.
3. When buying packaged items, such as frozen veggies or brown rice – there should be just one ingredient on the list ie. the actual food without additives.
4, Canned items such as beans and stewed tomatoes are actually available that have no sodium, or very little!
5. If you’re buying pre-made items such as bread, cereal, crackers, pastas, soups – look for less than 2 grams of fat, less than 200 mg sodium, and less than 7 g sugar per serving.
6. Choose the above items as whole grains – don’t be fooled by the front of a package that says “made with whole grains”, look for 100%. The 1st ingredients on the list on the back should be whole grains.
7. If sugar (or corn syrup or fructose or maltose etc) is among the first 3 ingredients, chances are it’s too much added sugar.
8. For condiments – such as salad dressing, pay attention to the actual amount of added salt, fat, sugar. “Low fat” on the front might just mean “lower fat than our usual”, and often, more sugar is added.
9. Look very, very carefully at ingredients and amounts of fat, sodium, salt in premade meals. Even those labeled as healthy choices, might not be that healthy.
9. Pay attention to portion or serving size (it’s usually smaller than you might think); the sodium, fat, sugar content are based on portion size, not the whole container. For example, can of soup often has 2 ½ servings.
Label reading can be tedious, but if you keep your sense of humor with you, you’ll see that some of the marketing tricks, ingredient lists and amounts are almost laughable. Eventually you’ll find your favorite, healthy products and you can bypass all the rest.
#1 Romaine lettuce, celery, carrot, tomato, mushrooms, chopped red cabbage. Top with your choice of low calorie dressing (60 calories or less/Tbsp) (By the way a wedge of crisp red cabbage makes a delicious snack – taste tested by my grand kids)
Tuscarora Area Cycling Map – an MPMC and JBHS Digital Design Class Collaboration
By Elizabeth George MD
MPMC Tuscarora area bicycle maps are now available at numerous public places in Franklin County and at mpmcproject.org. This is the product of a collaboration between MPMC volunteers and JBHS students; Summit Health has generously funded the printing of the 1st Edition. Since our Feasibility Study on walkabiity/ bikeability, area cyclists, have been providing MPMC with their favorite routes for traveling to work and for exploring our beautiful area; many thanks to cyclists Sean Grove, John Johnson, and Ryan Smith. The map design work was done by JBHS Advanced Digital Design Class of 2015-2016 under the instruction of Mrs. Erin Martin.
Vice Principal Rick Burkette noted “this is a great example of ‘Experiential Learning’ – a student project resulting in an authentic product for the community.”
The assignment was kept intentionally vague to give students the opportunity to really create and develop the brochure. “Take this local map with color markings showing favorite bike routes and create a brochure that will be informative and inviting to people to explore our beautiful area. Include scenic, recreational, historic destinations.”
I went to my first meeting with the students and was impressed by their creative and practical questions – they had previously looked at MPMC and MACWell materials and started to think about themes – who’s the audience, size, how will it be used, what map style?
A key part of the project was getting out and exploring the community – students traveled by van to observe, take photos of favorite areas, create descriptions, “get to know their subject”. Mrs. Martin assigned each student one of the routes to investigate and research in advance; “they didn’t come up with much, But as they traveled out on the routes, they discovered so much to include and so many photos of historic and scenic locations, they weren’t sure how they would fit everything in.”
A month later at our next meeting all students presented a basic design concept for the map/description - their design ideas - their energy and creativity was notable. One student created a map that actually folded up into a hat; that would be a fun 2nd edition of the map. Graduated student Samantha (“Sammy”) Fritsche came up with the base design that was used for the final project along with additional design elements from the class.
Then the really technical part and fine-tuning began. Working with the base map (downloaded from County info) was a computer challenge – working with the “layers” of information and different computer programs is more complex than someone just looking at a map might realize. Carl Rosenberry commented that this part, “though challenging and often frustrating, was a valuable learning experience. “ Mrs. Martin said “I’m going to include this new knowledge in my teaching plans for future design classes”.
This fall I met with students again to go over our proofs. As we reviewed the map Jaiden Hart displayed a “magnificent eye” (as Mrs. Martin said) for alignment and find details on graphic design products
As the students looked at the printers proofs with great satisfaction – they reminisced over the project. “The hardest part was getting started - coming up with the design concept. Rick Burkett noted that this is a key learning point – “people in graphics/ advertising have to know how to get started on a project they are unfamiliar with. “
Sydney Jones said –“I really enjoyed our trip out – I learned so much about our community - I had never explored our area so much. Now, I can even find the alpaca farm.” And Jaiden noted, “it’s amazing how much is almost right next door to us, that I never really explored.” Mr. Burkett added, “It was motivational to get me out and bike more.” Mrs. Martin noted that only half the students had previously been out to the JB Monument State Park. (I don’t know if they had time to poke around under the rocks in the stream and find crawdads – a favorite Saturday activity last summer with my Grandkids). The students agreed that the trip up to white Tail was a favorite part – especially the extra treat of hiking up for a wonderful view from the top
As part of their “real world experience”, Jaiden Hart and Sydney Jones, along with Mr. Burkett and Mrs. Martin met with Lyndon Shank at Mercersburg printing to go over some final editing. Mr. Shank noted that he was very impressed with the design work and extensive computer skills of the students. Many thanks go to Mr. Shanks for his work on printing details.
Mr. Burkett summarized, “This was an opportunity for our students to gain real-world experience applying what they have learned in class to the creation of an authentic product for a client in the community. They learned so much more than digital design. The gained a deeper appreciation for the surrounding area. They learned how to work through the exchange of ideas between designer and client to create a quality product that represents both their hard work and also the interests of their client. They worked with a local business and toured their outstanding facility.” He added “I’m very proud of our students for their leadership and commitment to seeing this project through! I’d like to thank Mrs. Erin Martin and Dr. Liz George for their patience and willingness to engage our students in this valuable learning opportunity.” I would add that, once again, it was an absolute pleasure to work with JBHS talented and energetic students, and see their commitment to making a difference in the area in which they live.
The Valentine that Keeps on Giving
Here are 5 Inexpensive Valentines gifts!
February is “Heart Month”. Here are 5 gifts to promise your heart and your loved ones for a lasting valentine!
Once again this year’s research points to the following basic “gifts to your health” as being important for vigorous longevity, reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimers and improving general wellbeing. Research has yet to produce any pills with anywhere near the benefits.
1. Go for a walk – in fact, go for 150 minutes of brisk walking or other physical activity each week (gardening, hiking, Zumba, cycling are my favorites). Whether you do it all in 1-2 days or spread out over the week, it’s a benefit. This 150 minute a week habit will not only improve your mood, but will reduce the risk of hypertension, strokes, and Alzheimer’s by 50 %. If you have a sedentary job (or a lot of “screen” time)– a new study encourages folks to get up and move for 5 minutes every 30 minutes; this will lower your BP and help manage your glucose (and benefit your sanity).
2. Move plants to the middle of your Plate – for generations in the past, Mothers reminded their children “eat your fruits and veggies”. The advent of fast foods pretty much disrupted this healthy pattern. It’s a good idea to start counting your fruits plus veggies again; aim for 5-7 (or more) each day; benefits include reducing hypertension and many cancers. And a new study showed this helps reduce frailty in aging.
Legumes (beans) have been shown to support your arteries’ (blood vessels’) ability to dilate and to prevent plaques. They’re easy to add to soups and salad, serve Mexican style on brown rice with veggies, or make a delicious chili or hummus. There’s an endless variety (over 1,000 kinds) - kidney, garbanzo, navy, adzuki, butter, canolini, lentils, peas, limas and many more.
Avoid saturated and trans fats – found mostly in animal products. These fats are the culprits in hardening of the arteries and also seem to increase some cancers. They also play a role in insulin resistence.
Choose whole grains and limit processed and fast foods high in salt and added sweeteners. Most people seem to be understanding how these contribute to hypertension, diabetes and obesity. The trick is to read the fine print on the labels. Manufacturers are still adding more sodium and sugar. Even Campbell’s new supposedly healthy YES brand has 580 mg of sodium per portion. I wrote them a letter asking them to take a look at this contradiction – still waiting for a reply. Meanwhile, don’t fall for the tricky advertising on the front – read the ingredients closely. Another important step is to cut out the #1 sugar culprit in the USA – sodas.
And don’t fall for the TV hype and advertising by the pharmaceutical companies. A cholesterol pill might make some of your numbers look better, but it won’t have near as many benefits on your arteries or for disease prevention. And a pill for diabetes might help the numbers, but choosing these healthy habits could actually reverse or prevent diabetes.
“Poly pharmacy” is a problem, with many seniors being on >10 medications; this has been shown to often produce more side affects than benefits. Meanwhile our healthy longevity is decreasing. Pills aren’t the answer – they don’t prevent or reverse disease. Go to your grocery store for your “Farmacy” and eat plenty of foods made from plants, not made in plants!
3. Be sure your home and the places you work and play are smoke free (and don’t let your kids think that “e – cigs” are safe.) (See last weeks helpful Journal article by Larry Stillwell). I think the risks of tobacco and smoking have become very clear to most. Hooray for so many community programs and public education over the years. If you’re still struggling with this addiction, don’t give up! Most people who finally successfully quit, have had to try several times. Just remember, the day you quit, your blood pressure and heart attack risk start to improve!
4. Laugh often! Laughing actually has physiologic benefits – increasing circulation to your heart and brain, decreasing blood pressure and producing powerful, helpful endorphins. Remembering to find humor in challenging situations can also help find the solution. And take time to play with the kids (spouse, friends etc) and aim for 7 hours of sleep each night.
5. And last, but probably the most important - Love - do daily good deeds, take care of Mother Earth, volunteer, stay active with family, friends, community groups, your church. Studies on health and longevity worldwide show that these are key contributors to wellbeing
When you give these gifts to your heart, chances are you’ll be giving them to those around you as well. You’ll be sharing a helpful example (and maybe share some of your delicious foods), and your good health will speak for itself.
Straight from the Garden!
by Shelby Miller
Just a short share with you all on what I ate today, and how simple it was prepare. I began my morning in my garden where I selected three nice sized leaves from my Brussels sprouts plants - about 8 inches in diameter. I then went on to pick some snow peas, cut some beet greens, a few smaller Swiss chard leaves, and some fresh dill weed (approximately 1 loose cup, including the tender stems). I then washed all of my garden finds and packed in reusable containers for my lunch. From the fridge, I threw in about 1/2 cup of leftover hummus, 1/2 cup each of left over brown rice, pinto beans and around a 1/4 cup leftover carrots from last night. At lunch I then spread each Brussels sprout leaf with equal parts of hummus, then I topped with slivered carrots, fresh snow peas, rice, beans, beet greens, chard, and the dill weed. Oh - I also had sweet grape tomatoes that I halved and threw on top of all of that. I wrapped those up tightly and enjoyed three very healthy, yummy, flavorful wraps - and the bonus, it was really very filling allowing me stay satiated.
This month I am really enjoying the fresh taste of dill so on my way home from work I decided that when I got home I would go back to the garden for more greens and dill. I then cooked some potatoes in the pressure cooker and mashed them with the dill once cooked through. As I sautéed the greens I also added some of the dill at the very end so it could just wilt just a little. I decided to whip the potatoes with some of the cooking water, and a handful of fresh dill weed with my handheld blender. I put potatoes on 1/2 my plate with fresh ground pepper, the sautéed greens on the other half, and feeling like I needed a grain, I sprinkled about a 1/4 c brown rice over it all. Like a little child, I mixed it all up while eating it!
Check back next week for more Wellness Tips and links!
Laughing has health benefits!
Taking the chore out of cooking
By Ingrid Ashley
Do you ever get home from a long day of working look in the fridge and just want to turn to the take out menu? Trust me, we have all been there! I still have times when it is just not in me to cook a big meal. The beautiful thing is that cooking dinner does not have to be a big meal. Some of the best dishes I have created have been the ones that took all the weekly leftovers and made a casserole or stir fry that was out of this world. The other day Dr. Liz sent me a photo of a simple one skillet dish she threw together that looked so delicious! (See photo below.) When I have one of these moments, I have no choice but turn on loud salsa music (or whatever my kids will tolerate), and turn into the dancing chef! My kids get a kick out of my dancing even joining in on occasion, and the music fuels me along to keep calm and carry on into a healthy dinner for our family. What motivates you to cook? Tell us below!
Pinto beans and kale added to squash, porta bella mushrooms and lightly marinated in Annie's Ginger Marinade with coriander and tumeric add a gentle spiciness to this simple dish!
Nick Lula's Standing Desk
By Dr. Elizabeth George
But now there is a new twist on the role of physical activity in wellness. Two recent articles (well really many, but I’ll go over 2) are noteworthy. Health care providers are saying, “Sitting is the New Smoking”
Blood pressures were measured eight times per day. At the end of the light-walking day, subjects’ blood pressure was on average 14/8 mm Hg lower than on the uninterrupted sitting day. On the simple resistance activity day, it was 16/10 mm Hg lower. Once again – a lifestyle change can give you a comparable result to a blood pressure pill – without side affects and no co-pay!!
I don’t want to make this article to long – but real quick – there’s another study of similar design in diabetics that showed improved glucose control and better insulin function with just this simple shift to standing up every 30 minutes and moving around!! So simply put, sedentary jobs are risky!! People with sedentary jobs, or sedentary lifestyle should get up every 30 minutes and move for 3 minutes – to reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
So, you might be asking, what’s this about “Nick Iula’s Standing Desk”? Today Patti Nitterhouse and I went to Shippensburg University to enjoy Roberta’s dreamy art show “How’s the Weather?” Looking at her artwork, you feel like you’re right there in the painting. Afterward, we went to the dining hall for lunch. Yes, the public is welcome. Nick was there, so we got to rave to him about our delicious meal AND he got to proudly show us the “standing desk” he had created for his computer in his office - so he can stand, walk in place, move while he designs those delicious menus for the whole school. No wonder he has more energy and glow than ever!!
Check back weekly for new posts on health and wellness!
Time to clear out the freezer!
By Dr. Elizabeth George
My husband and I were getting the garden ready to plant today. (This early we can put in the spinach, lettuce and potatoes). We got the fence mended (we have deer friends and worse, we have a dog, Frodo, who loves to dig up potatoes and eat them!)
That got me to realizing that the summer crop will be coming in before too long, and I haven’t used everything in the freezer. Well, lets make a dent in it tonight. Frozen veggies roast just as easily as fresh – though this is the first I’m trying my frozen potatoes. I gathered up my broccoli, heirloom string beans, potatoes and kale from the freezer. (I also set out a frozen tomatoe sauce – it will work well later this week to add to leftovers –and , yum, throw in some Quinoa).
Meanwhile, I’ll also chop up the fresh veggies. Also, I’ll get the frozen veggies out of the oven in about 15 minutes and see if they can be cut a little smaller.
Sun chokes add a nice zing to potatoes dishes – kind of like parsnips and turnips and kohlrabi do. They are also yummy slivered raw on most any kind of salad – they add a nice crunch and flavor. I cut the carrots in 1- inch pieces – they’re slow cooking so smaller is better. I noticed the onion was actually a scallion (?) – slivered it and spread it over the rest so the flavor could sink in.
And then I opened the spice drawer and looked around to see what inspired me. Oregano jumped out first – shake it on, then cumin, and then dill seemed right and finally pepper. I’m not entirely sure how I decided on these – and we’ll see how they taste! Finally I topped it with some garbanzo beans – but didn’t have as many as I wanted, so I opened some lentils and added a cup. Also I got the frozen kale out and broke off a handful and crumbled it on top of everything; it will come out crispy and delicious. I put it back in the convection oven at 300. (Notice that I did not add any oil to all this. I prefer to get my healthy plant fats from the plants themselves – rather than expressed and extracted into an oil with nutrients and fiber missing. And the bonus is, it’s soooo easy to clean the dishes!
While it’s cooking I’ll make some notes about adding the legumes – garbanzo beans and lentils. They are a wonderful source of protein, magnesium, iron and fiber and many other nutrients. They help diabetics (or anyone for that matter) regulate their blood sugar. Also, they help your blood vessels produce nitric oxide which helps arteries relax, “vasodilate”, be “unsticky”, and reduces inflammation; all of this is wonderful of course for your circulatory system and everything it serves – AKA your whole body! Of course every veggie in this dish with all their different colors adds potassium, a variety of vitamins and other antioxidants, minerals, fibers and more than we’ll ever know!!
Time to taste!! A yummy success – what’s really cool is I can taste the distinctive flavor of each of the different veggies and beans, while they all go well together. Also, all the different veggies maintained their own textures – some are crisper than others, nice!. Tomorrow night I’ll cook some of these up with Farro and that yummy tomatoe sauce thawed from last summer.
Coming soon on our next blog "The standing desk!"
We’ve been allowing our children to develop a “nature deficit”, think back to when children were free to play — their first choice was often to flee to the nearest wild place — whether it was a big tree, brushy area in the yard, a watercourse, or woodland nearby. Enjoy this article and lets work together to get all of us back outdoors! Check out this article from the Miami Herald!
The Sun Came Out for MPMC 5 Miler
The forecast had planners and runners a bit worried, but the weather couldn’t have been better for the 6th Annual MPMC 5 mile run/walk on Saturday May 14th at Springfest. Lions Club Park and pavilion is a perfect setting to start and finish the race- thank you Lions Club!! Senator Eichelberger was there to thank racers for “running for Johnston Run” and supporting walkability/bikability in our communities. He noted that his work in Congress includes encouraging Penn DOT to make safe, multimodal use the goal for all roads.
Apex Wellness was there to provide runners with gentle stretches and massages on their return. Many thanks to Betsy Miller’s team from Legacy Realty Mercersburg for helping the runners rehydrate and replenish electrolytes with water and fresh fruits. Additional sponsors Atlas Copco, DL Martin, Modnur Pharmacy, Fast Ink, Summit Health, Fulton County Medical Center Foundation and Summit Physicians Services were there on our T-shirts!
Many Thanks – it takes a Community.
Senator Eichelberger sounded the bull horn at 9AM and 39 runners and walkers were off with tags on their shoes to receive official timing by Timber Hill Timers. They made the trek from just beyond the corner of Karper and Corner Roads, then turning left to proceed on Charlestown Road, turning back before Nevins Road, turning right again onto Mt Pleasant Road, and then left onto Corner Road to make the final leg to the finish line. (This route is also a fun loop for an enjoyable, scenic family bike ride)
A number of runners were over 60 – and their energy and well toned muscles made it obvious that this running habit helps keep people fit and healthy. (In fact 150 minutes per week of brisk walking or other physical activity reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and Alzheimers by 50% -- and runners accrue even more benefits) Our 70 and over age group champions were Ray Michael and Delores Price (pictured below).
Special entry this year were 2 huskies Coal and Embers running their owners Liz and John Martin.
Race coordinator Ingrid Ashley noted, “The Race is really about people getting together to support Montgomery Peters Mercersburg Connectivity projects including the Streamside Trail and stream bank restoration.” Even our youngest volunteers noted, “I’m doing this so I can ride my bike around safely”. They helped with stuffing the “goodie bags”, directing on the course, and reminding folks to spread the word through social media (photo at beginning of blog!) Many thanks to all our volunteers who set up the course, made check-in smooth, and cheered the runners along the way with cool water and encouragement with “looking good!”
Congratulations to all participants!! Official times are posted at mpmcproject.org
Age group winners:
Age 15- 19 Jonah Nortarianni Stephens
Age 20- 29 Ryan Barnhart, Anna Crouch
Age 30 -39 Cain McFadden, Leigh Ann Irwin
Age 40 – 49 Rob Harvey, Alicia Nortarianni
Age 50- 59 Mike Meadows, Kim Brant
Age 60- 69 Neal Hospelhorn
Age 70 & Over – Ray Michael, Delores Price
Men’s Overall winner – Luke Cessna
Women’s Overall winner – Stephanie Pullens
As runners returned triumphant and a little winded, they also commented on the magnificent views of our rolling hills, trees and fields against the back drop of our Tuscarora Range. A runner from Cumberland noted that, “this is one of the most beautiful courses I run”. A main goal of MPMC is to restore the “connectivity” of our community – with safe, scenic, seamless routes for walking and biking. Share the road signs are reminding pedestrians and cars to be mindful of each other. Long term goals with Penn DOT include improving the shoulders.
The MPMC 5 mile run/walk is held each year to promote the efforts to increase connectivity of the Tuscarora area for walkability, bikeability, and sustainability of our beautiful natural resources. As you know, Mercersburg has a beautiful stream running through it. As a limestone stream, if healthy, it would be an ideal habitat for trout. Unfortunately the stream is on the impaired waterways watch list in Pennsylvania. Revitalization of this stream is possible with attention paid to restoring riparian buffers and conscious attention of storm water runoff. What is a riparian buffer you ask? Read about it on mpmcproject.org. MPMC and the Johnston Run Committees are devoted to bringing vitality and connectivity to Mercersburg in an effort to bring the community together, and make the area a destination spot for walkers, runners, bikers, and families to stay active and enjoy our rich culture, heritage and beautiful outdoors.
Watch for progress and volunteer opportunities on the Johnston Run Streamside Trail – “where history and ecology meet!” mpmcproject.org Support with donations at gofundme.com/macwell
MACWell has been working to reverse the trend of obesity in our community since 2009. The obesity epidemic caused by processed food, not cooking from scratch and not getting outdoors is exploding throughout the world. Obesity reflects metabolic disarray that causes diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and some cancers. Getting back to the basics of cooking from scratch, eating our fruits and vegetables as our parents or grandparents preached, and moving is essential to reversing this life-shortening trend. This linked video shows ways we can incorporate healthy eating habits in your school and community!
Check our next "What's In The Fridge?" posting tomorrow!
Most days a salad is the best option for a quick and healthy meal. See our first video on how simple throwing a salad together can be. Whether the ingredients are prepared ahead or prepared when you eat, a salad is a quick and healthy way to get in the recommended fruits and vegetables. Enjoy!
Check out our next blog on what we can do encourage our communities to eat healthier from youth!
'Farmacy' vs Pharmacy
Ages ago Hippocrates said "let food be thy medicine". A major portion of chronic illnesses are "food born". This doc is prescribing "real food". Diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and even cancer -- often have their roots in the inadequate nutrition of todays processed foods, fast foods, sugary drinks, salty/fatty snacks. And on top of that, folks aren't getting the recommended 5-7 fruits plus veggies. Time to plant our gardens and looking forward to the farmers stands. See this post about Dr. Richard Bryce and his program providing Fresh Presciptions by Annamarie Sysling.
Follow us for easy ways for you and your family to enjoy healthy food, and other healthy lifestyle tips. Check our next blog post with a video on making a simple lunch time salad with leftovers!
The Well Stocked Pantry
A well stocked pantry will allow you to get home at 7:30pm with no ideas of what to make for dinner, and have a deliciously nutritious meal on the table by 8:00pm.
Brown rice, Quinoa, Barley, Oats or any
Black beans, Kidney beans, Butter beans, Chick peas and any other of the huge variety - choose low sodium canned, or using dried beans is easy to learn and can cook quickly with a pressure cooker. Dried lentils cook quickly and easily.
Other Canned/jarred items:
applesauce, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce (look for low sodium), and tomato paste.
Frozen veggies - peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans. Frozen fruit - blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mango, and bananas
Comment ~ I buy these in season and freeze. Also, store bought frozen veggies and fruits are economic and harvested at peak ripeness for flavor and nutritional value. Serving size portions of chicken and fish can also be frozen in freezer baggies; freeze them in a single layer for easy use.
Fresh items that keep fairly long at room temperature:
White, yellow, red, fingerling and sweet potatoes, onions, whole garlic, butternut squash, apples, oranges, and lemons.
Keep well in refrigerator:
Carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, head of romaine lettuce, red/green cabbage, boc choy, collard greens, kale, and grapes.
Things to buy more often and that can be frozen for smoothies if they get over ripe before you get to use them:
bananas, berries, peaches, and cantaloupe.
Buy fruits and veggies in season, buy local, check out your local CSA(Community Supported Agriculture)!
Cinnamon, Turmeric, Curry, Chili Powder, Garlic Powder, Ginger Powder, Oregano, Thyme, Dried Parsley, and Cardemon.
Check out our next blog on how Pharmacists, Doctors, and other healthcare professionals around the world are focusing on the nutrition we put into our bodies vs. treating with pharmaceuticals!
Often I have a large green leafy salad for lunch with a limitless variety of combinations of fruits, veggies, beans and grains. And over the months I’ll share many of those with you, and talk about all those wonderful greens and combining salad “fixings”.
Today however, it’s cold and damp and I felt like cooking something. And the purple fingerling potatoes my husband boiled last night were calling my name. If you haven’t tried fingerling potatoes, I should let you know that they are delicious cooked and eaten with nothing added (and nothing taken away!). Gently wash, leave skins on, no need to cut fingerlings, place in a pot, cover with water, cover the pot, and boil until slightly soft; pour off the water, let them cool a bit and enjoy!.. Of course you can have them as part of a meal, but I walked in the door hungry and enjoyed them as an hors d’eovres.
Today I got the extra fingerlings out of the fridge and looked to see what else caught my eye (and my taste bud fancy). Hmm – lovely organic cherry tomatoes, zucchini and mushrooms.
And, oh yes there was some home garden made gespacho soup that we thawed a few days ago. The mushrooms were starting to dry out a bit, but that’s just fine.
To get ready to stir fry without oil, I put my nonstick pan (I use a ceramic one) on the stove and set it on high (yes high, things stick less if the empty pan is heated to high.)
Then I chopped the veggies and added the veggies that give off the most liquid to the pan first; so in went the tomatoes and zucchini and I turned the heat down to medium.
Then as things started to brown, I stirred with a soft spatula (better than rigid utensils for a nonstick pan) and then added a splash of the soup for a little more liquid.
Cooked a little longer until the tomatoes and zucchinni started to soften and then in went the mushrooms and potatoes and ½ cup more of the soup. Heat it through, and ready to enjoy as a vegetable stew.
Cook until heated through and I could have been done here. But, the 3 bean and corn salsa in the fridge had caught my eye, and I knew that would add a dash of spicey heat, so in went a cup of that.
The dish was delicious and spicey. I think I would also have enjoyed it even without the salsa – the taste of the potatoes, mushroom and zucchini would have popped through a little more. And, I’ve put the rest in the refrigerator in a tupperware container that I’ll grab in the morning to take for my lunch. An apple and kiwi will go in my bag also and some frozen home grown raspberries. Yum!!
Next Blog... a Well Stocked Pantry will share what to have on hand to be creative with meals any day, any time!
Dr. Elizabeth George