Stumped for the perfect Christmas gift for your workout buddy? Here are a few healthy gifts and gadgets that are sure to please:
Fitbit Flex or Fitbit Charge: These nifty wristbands track movement as well as sleep – and sync wirelessly to your computer or smartphone. The Charge also functions as a watch and a caller I.D. The free Fitbit app functions as a handy calorie calculator and allows you to earn badges, taunt (or cheer) your Fitbit “friends,” and track your hydration. At $99.95 and $129.95, these activity trackers are reasonably priced and far more affordable than the Apple Watch, which is scheduled for release in early 2015 and will likely boast a price tag of over $300.
Bling Your Fitbit: If your friend or honey already sports a Fitbit Flex, how about helping her add a little bling with a Tory Burch Fitbit Bracelet or Pendant? A perfect gift for the fitness fashionista.
Balancing Act: It’s still our favorite home gym tool for working the core and improving balance and agility. Dome up or down, the BOSU is the perfect training device at only $119.95.
Better with a Beat: How about some ear buds that are both sporty and sleek? Let’s face it, working out to some snappy tunes helps a body go longer, harder and faster. Skullcandy ear buds are both durable and affordable, from $19.99 to $49.99.
Chip Away: Does your special somebody always seem to succumb to the crunchy temptation of salty and oily chips? Problem solved. Mastrad’s TopChips Chips Maker with Mandolin allows one to indulge in the crunch without the fat and calories.
H2O on the Go: Reusable water bottles are at once thoughtful and practical. Not only do they remind us to hydrate often, which is critical to good health, but they’re also green, unlike the plastic water bottles that are so harmful to the environment. We like the Klean Kanteen because it’s “free everything” (BPA, lead, and other toxins) and also constructed with the germaphobe in mind. And you can’t go wrong with Earthlust’s whimsical stainless steel bottles.
Deck the Bikes with Bells and Baskets: What healthier way to romp about town than pedal power? Whether commuting to work or running errands, these accessories will make the ride fanciful, fun, and secure.
Thule Bike Basket – $59.99
OnGuard K-9 Folding Bike Lock – $89.95
Cabelas Trapper Hat – $17.49
Ugg Double U Sheepskin Earmuff – $65.00
Sorel Tivoli II Suede Boot – $120.00
A Walk Back in Time: We love snowshoeing – and the rugged, retro look of LL Bean’s Green Mountain Snowshoes will make the winter wonderland all the more compelling.
Thanksgiving is a time when many of us take stock our numerous blessings – our health, our homes, our comforts and our loved ones. Unfortunately, many of our neighbors have not been so fortunate, and this Thanksgiving they won’t be counting their blessings, but rather, the days until the trial for the Aurora theater shooting victims begins – an ordeal in which many will be forced to relive the tragedy of the night on July 20, 2012 when a lone gunman entered the Century Aurora 16 Multiplex Theater and opened fire, killing 12 innocent people and injuring 58 more.
These victims – family members, friends, and loved ones of those killed, as well as witnesses to the horrors of that massacre – will need all the support our community can provide during the trial of accused gunman James Holmes, which is scheduled to begin in January of 2015.
And so, we’re asking for your help in this worthy cause. In three weeks, on Saturday, December 13, 1:00-4:00 pm, our nonprofit We Play It Forward is partnering with our good friends, Jacque Shumway and Joe Brady of the Living Younger Longer Institute, in a benefit concert for the Aurora Strong Resilience Center to support stress therapy programming and services to those attending the Aurora shooting trial. This worthwhile fundraiser, featuring the talented guitar duo Skanson & Hansen, will be held at 1298 Peoria Street in Aurora, and will also include good food and a silent auction. Seating is limited and tickets are just $30.
Log on to http://taichidenver.com/communityfunding.html more information, to purchase tickets, or to donate online to this worthy cause. Or if you can’t make the event and prefer to donate by check, simply mail your contribution to:
Living Younger Longer Institute
1529 York Street, #1
Denver, CO 80206
Questions? Call 303-744-7676.
We hope to see you there. Thank you all in advance for your support!
Baked, beaten or pureed, pumpkin is a dietary power house, boasting a wide assortment of nutritional benefits. Loaded with healthy fiber as well as immunity-boosting vitamin C, pumpkin also contains L-tryptophan to boost your mood and beta-carotene for healthy vision.
Here are three delicious ways to add a little pumpkin to your palette today:
Roasted Pumpkin Guacamole (from www.bhg.com)
1 ½ tsp olive oil
1 pie pumpkin, peeled, cut in ½ inch cubes to equal 1 cup (reserve remaining pumpkin for another use)
1 tsp kosher salt
½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
3 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 fresh red jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
¼ tsp toasted cumin seeds, ground, or ¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375°. In medium ovenproof skillet heat half the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add cubed pumpkin, season with a pinch of he salt, and cook about 5 minutes, until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Transfer skillet to oven. Roast pumpkin 5 minutes, just until tender. Remove from oven. Cool to room temperature.
Halve avocados; remove pits, leaving skin intact. Cup one half at a time in palm; score flesh with paring knife in a grid. Spoon avocado flesh into medium-size bowl. Add onion, lime juice, jalapeno, olive oil, remaining salt, pepper, and roasted pumpkin. Stir together; if desired, mash guacamole with fork. Serve immediately.
Yield: 8 Servings
Per Serving: 122 calories, 10 g. fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g protein
Frozen Pumpkin Yogurt (from www.relish.com)
1 ½ cups Greek lowfat yogurt
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
2 cups pureed pumpkin
¾ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Whisk all ingredients in a bowl until combined. Place in container of ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
Yield: 10 servings
Per Serving: 190 calories, 2 g fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 5 g protein, 39 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 30 mg sodium
Maple Nut Pumpkin Candies (from www.familycircle.com)
1 cup light brown sugar packed
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup solid-pack pumpkin
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp salt
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Line an 8 X 8 inch metal baking pan with parchment paper. Spray paper with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium pot, combine sugars, maple syrup, butter, pumpkin, cream, pumpkin pie spice and salt over medium heat. Stir until butter is melted and all ingredients are combined. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until temperature reaches 238° on a candy thermometer. Stir in walnuts
Pour mixture into lined baking pan. Cool 1 hour on the counter, then refrigerate an additional 1 hour. Slice into 36 squares.
Yields: 36 servings
Per Serving: 92 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g protein, 14 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 20 mg sodium, 8 mg cholesterol
Q: My 13-year old daughter has been hanging out after school with friends at the local coffee shop. I’m concerned because I’ve heard that drinking coffee isn’t healthy for children and teens. After reading your recent article on the health benefits of coffee, I don’t know what to think. Could you weigh in on this? ~ Juanita, Montrose, CO
A: I’m glad you asked, Juanita. And the answer, of course, is everything in moderation. Too much coffee – at any age – is not a good thing, mainly because of the caffeine content. The FDA has determined that up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is fine for adults; unfortunately, it has set no specific guidelines for kids and teenagers. However, Health Canada has recommended no more than 2.5 mg/kg of body weight. So a teen who weighs in at 125 lbs, should not drink more than 140 mg of caffeine per day. To put that into perspective, here is the caffeine content in common beverages:
- Starbucks grande coffee – 330 mg
- Brewed coffee (8 oz) – 163 mg
- Red Bull – 80 mg
- Mountain Dew – 54 mg
- Iced Tea – 47 mg
- Pepsi – 38 mg
- Coca Cola – 34 mg
- Chocolate Milk – 5 mg
- 7-Up – 0 mg
Excess caffeine consumption can cause jitteriness and sleep deprivation – which obviously isn’t a good thing for kids or adults. But it can also lead to behavioral problems, hyperactivity, and difficulty in concentration with kids and teens. Also, coffee should definitely not be substituted for nutritionally healthier beverages such as milk and water. One other thing – because coffee is a diuretic and increases urination, this can lead to dehydration. Even worse, increased urination causes loss of calcium, which can lead to bone loss, since calcium is essential for bone growth. That old wives’ tale that coffee drinking will stunt one’s growth – well, maybe it’s not an old wives’ tale after all.
Forbidding your daughter from drinking coffee will only make her want to drink it more. My advice is that you encourage her to drink it, as well as all caffeinated, high-sugar beverages, only occasionally, in moderation – and not as substitutes for healthier beverages, especially water. You might even take it one step further and suggest that she and her friends take up active after school hobbies like intramural sports, biking, or even walking around the mall.
Today was National Coffee Day. Actually, I celebrate national coffee day every day – but yesterday I enjoyed a whole lot of company in that commemoration. In fact, some 54% of the population in the United States drinks coffee on a daily basis. Lucky for all of us – half a dozen coffee joints from McDonalds to Dunkin’ Donuts distributed free cups of coffee to anyone who asked. And since there’s been a bit of buzz lately about the assorted health benefits of coffee, I decided to pack up my iPad and do some research while enjoying various and sundry free cups of jo all over town.
One of my first surprises lay in the discovery that coffee is actually a fruit. Specifically, the coffee bean is extracted from the cherry fruit. Who knew? And interestingly enough, the longer coffee is roasted, the weaker is the strength and impact of its caffeine, so that darker roasts deliver less caffeine than lighter roasts. I love the lighter roasts, which just might explain why I come across as being somewhat hyper.
Okay, very hyper.
During the 17th century in England, coffee houses were known as “penny universities” where a cup of coffee cost a penny and engaging conversation was held. Come to think of it, this might be where the expression “a penny for your thoughts” originated.
Coffee itself, before all the cream and sugar are added, boasts some surprising health benefits:
- The smell of coffee alone provides an olfactory-approved aromatherapy.
- Folks who drink 4-cups of coffee a day are less likely to have health issues such as certain cancers, stokes, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
- The caffeine in coffee, when not ingested in high quantities, can be quite beneficial to some. However, decaf may be healthier for those who need to watch their caffeine intake because it raises blood pressure and epinephrine known as adrenaline.
- Coffee is rich in magnesium and chromium, which help the body regulate insulin.
- Studies have shown that drinking coffee can reduce the severity of symptoms in people who suffer from poor eyesight and tinnitus.
- Coffee drinkers report experiencing improved mental acuity, and thus, improved performance at work, school or sports.
- Drinking coffee is a very social and calming activity for some and therefore throwing down a cup or two opens the door to conversation and relaxation. For many, day without coffee is a day without sunshine.
- Coffee aids “” Drinking coffee seems to stimulate the muscles of one’s colon.
Are there any negatives to drinking coffee? Well, if you’re drinking coffee in public, make sure you know where the restrooms are. Coffee is very effective as a diuretic. Coffee also contains acids which can irritate the lining of the stomach, therefore causing upset – so, know your limits. Finally, adding the “extras” (i.e., creams, sugars) into your coffee rings up quite the caloric punch, so beware!
I don’t know what I’d do if I ever had to give up coffee. My morning brew is like warm hug from a good friend on a cold day. How I do LOVE my coffee!