Heart-Healthy Caramel Apple Cake

Heart Healthy Apple Cake with Caramel SauceServes: 8

Ingredients:

1/4 c. brown sugar
2 T. butter or margarine
1 small Granny Smith or other tart apple, peeled and sliced
1 T. cinnamon
3/4 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
1 egg
1/4 c. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
Scant 1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add brown sugar and margarine or butter to a deep-sided, 9-inch baking pan. Place pan in oven while preheating to melt butter. Remove from oven and stir to blend. Add apple slices, sprinkle with cinnamon. Add sugar to sifted flour and sift again. Add remaining ingredients and mix for 2-3 minutes, using medium speed. Pour over apple mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of the cake comes out clean.

Variation: Brown sugar can replace the granulated sugar with the addition of nuts, raisins and allspice for a quick, spice cake.

Note: This quick to fix cake is tender and sweet, a great alternative to a cake mix that can be used as a base for an upside-down cake.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories: 210; Fat: 9g; Protein: 3g; Carbohydrates: 29g; Fiber: 1g; Sodium: 120mg.

5 Surprising Heart Attack Triggers – And How to Avoid Them

5 Heart Attack TriggersHeart attacks seem as though they come out of the blue, but most don’t. Clogged arteries are often the root of heart attacks, but there is usually something else that triggers them. Here are some common yet surprising heart attack triggers:

  • Waking up. Your risk of heart attack increases 40 percent in the morning.
    Why? As you wake up in the morning, your body secretes adrenaline and other stress hormones, increasing blood pressure and a demand for oxygen. Your blood is also thicker and harder to pump because you’re partially dehydrated. All this taxes your heart. Build some extra time into your morning schedule so you can wake up slowly. If you’re a morning exerciser, warm up thoroughly to reduce additional stress to your heart.
  • Sudden, strenuous exertion. Regular aerobic exercise keeps your heart healthy. But, people who are sedentary should be careful before attempting intense exercise, as it can lead to a heart attack. Talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program, and increase your intensity level gradually.
  • Anger. All strong emotions increase adrenaline output, heart rate and the stickiness of red blood cells, which combined can trigger a heart attack. Men who are quick to anger are more likely to develop premature heart disease and five times more likely to have an early heart attack. Talk with your doctor or a psychologist about ways to manage extreme emotions.
  • Infections. Common forms of influenza and respiratory tract infections can raise your risk of suffering a heart attack due to an inflammatory response in your body that puts excess stress on your heart. To protect yourself, get a flu shot.
  • Eating a big meal. Eating a heavy meal can trigger a heart attack, especially in people who already have heart disease. Heavy eating can raise your levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that can increase blood pressure and heart rate. The temporary rise in blood pressure creates extra work for the heart. Avoid foods high in fat and calories and keep your portion sizes reasonable.

Determine if you’re at risk for heart disease. Take our free heart health assessment.

No More Excuses: Schedule Your Mammogram

Here are some of the top excuses women give for not getting a mammogram and reasons why these excuses just don’t work:

  • I don’t feel any lumps. Even though you don’t feel any lumps, mammograms can detect tumors up to three years before they’re big enough to feel. Cancerous lumps detected by feeling account for about 4 percent of all the breast cancers out there – 96 percent are not felt, and 90 percent of those are picked up on a Breast Cancer Monthmammogram.
  • I’m too young to get breast cancer. It’s true most breast cancer appears in women after menopause. But did you know that one in eight breast cancers is diagnosed in women younger than 45? Women should get yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor to find out if you should get a mammogram sooner.
  • I’m afraid it will hurt. While a mammogram may cause momentary discomfort, it’s a very quick procedure. To minimize any pain, schedule your mammogram at least one week after your period when your breasts are less sensitive. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever one to two hours before your exam and do not forget to relax.
  • My breasts are small, so my risk must be, too. Cancer does not discriminate, and women with small breasts are just as likely as large-breasted women to get breast cancer.
  • No one in my family has breast cancer so I am not at risk. Actually, 85 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history whatsoever. If you do have a family history of breast cancer, particularly if your mother or sister had it, you have an increased risk of getting breast cancer yourself.

Every three minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. The earlier breast cancer is detected; the easier it is to treat. A mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. Schedule your mammogram today! No more excuses. It could save your life.

Kentucky Adults Not Eating Enough Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits-and-Vegetables-KentuckyKentucky adults eat on average fewer than three servings of fruits and vegetables per day. That’s well below the latest dietary guidelines, which call for five to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (depending on your age, gender, physical activity and overall health). Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables?

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can help you ward off heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure and prevent some types of cancer. Here are some tips on how to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet each day:

  • Eat some at every meal. Make sure every meal or snack you eat is paired with a fruit or veggie. Add salsa to your eggs, avocado to your turkey sandwich and fruit to your cereal.
  • Snack smart: Instead of snacking on chips or cookies, make sure to have healthier alternatives on hand. Some great options include baby carrots and hummus, celery and peanut butter, sugar snap peas or a piece of fruit.
  • Start dinner with a salad. And this doesn’t have to mean just boring lettuce and tomato – add lots of colorful vegetables, such as red cabbage, carrots and bell peppers. With so many combinations, you can eat a different salad every day.
  • Freeze your fruit: Looking for a sweet snack after dinner? Freeze of a handful of frozen grapes or strawberries.
  • Sneak it in: Add extra vegetables, such as grated zucchini or carrots, spinach, kale and bell peppers, to pasta sauces and soups.
  • Sip on a smoothie: A blended smoothie can be the perfect breakfast, lunch or snack. Start with your favorite fruits and some low-fat or almond milk and then throw in a handful of greens for an added nutritional boost. If you’re worried that you won’t like the flavor of the spinach or romaine, add a banana or a small spoonful of peanut butter or both, and you won’t taste the greens.

Why Women Shouldn’t Skip Lifting Weights

iStock_000015266481_LargeMany women believe that the only way to lose weight is to do aerobic exercise. However, weight training is also essential for getting into shape. Here are six reasons you should start lifting today:

  1. You’ll burn more calories. It takes more energy for your body to maintain muscles than fat and so while your 30-minute run on the treadmill might have you sweating, lifting weights to develop your muscles will help you to burn more overall. Increased muscles also help to speed up your metabolism, which means that you still get to burn fat even while your body is at rest. And no, you won’t bulk up – women don’t have enough muscle-building hormones to gain a lot of mass like men do.
  2. Your clothes will fit better. One pound of fat takes up 18 percent more space than one pound of muscle although muscle weighs more. As such, a woman who weighs 150 pounds can still look better in her clothes than someone who weighs 130 pounds of the same height, simply because she has more muscles.
  3. It helps reduce stress. Weight training can release endorphins, the “feel-good” chemical in your brain. It also reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which helps to relieve feelings of anxiety.
  4. You’ll build stronger bones. Lifting weights can be your best defense against osteoporosis – a disease affecting 10 million Americans, 80 percent of which are women. Stronger bones and increased muscle mass also lead to better flexibility and balance, which is especially important for women as they age.
  5. It’s good for your heart. Lifting weights increases your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and decreases your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. It can also lower your blood pressure.
  6. It reduces your risk of diabetes. Weight lifting improves how your body processes sugar so that your risk of diabetes is reduced. By combining strength training with aerobic exercises, you will also be better able to control your blood sugar levels if you are already diabetic.

Talk your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

Heart-Healthy Monday: Vodka Penne

Vodka-Penne-Heart-HealthyServes: 4

Ingredients:

1 c. low-fat Alfredo sauce
1 c. marinara sauce
1/4 c. vodka
4 c. cooked pasta
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (opt.)

Preparation:

In a large bowl, combine Alfredo sauce and marinara sauce; stir in vodka. Add to warm, cooked pasta. Stir to blend or serve as a sauce. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Note:

Not quite the cream sauce, this is a blend of bottled marinara, low-fat Alfredo (from the refrigerated pasta case at the grocery store) and a splash of vodka. Great additions include cooked shrimp or chicken pieces, grilled mushrooms and toasted pine nuts.

Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories: 360; Fat: 9g; Protein: 12g; Carbohydrates: 50g; Sodium: 539mg.

 

6 Steps to Start and Stay Mentally Motivated When Exercising

Stay Mentally Motivated When ExercisingYou’ve made up your mind to start exercising. But, just the thought of getting out of bed to exercise or rearranging your busy schedule has you concerned. Here are some tips to help you start, and stay motivated:

  1. Write down why you’re working out. Determine what your reason is and keep notes or pictures of inspiration in plain view so that you’re constantly reminded of why. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, put a picture on the bathroom mirror of yourself and post a new one every time you lose five pounds so that you can see your progress.
  2. Stick to a schedule. Schedule workout times that work with your schedule. Workout sessions should be thought of similarly to very important meetings or social events that you must attend.
  3. Hire some help. If it’s difficult for you to muster the will power to exercise alone, hire a personal trainer. Enroll in a boot camp or another fitness class. If you’re scheduled to workout in a fitness class or have paid a personal trainer to help you, you’ll be more likely to show up.
  4. Mix things up. Don’t do the same old workout week after week. Mix up your workouts to keep them fresh and prevent boredom. Instead of running daily, consider a cross-training regimen that includes swimming and cycling.
  5. Deal with your diet. You can do all the exercise you want, but if you neglect your diet, then you won’t achieve the intended benefit. Cut back on snacks and other prepared foods. Add more fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins into your diet. Drink plenty of water while you exercise and cut down on caffeine.
  6. Reap the rewards. There is nothing wrong with providing yourself with an incentive. That reward might be a new dress or a weekend trip to somewhere special. Reward yourself with a prize, but only if you meet your goals. That incentive can help you stay on track.

Talk your doctor before starting any new exercise program.

 

 

6 Steps to Strengthen Your Immune System

6 Steps to Strengthen Your Immune SystemYour lifestyle can affect how well your immune system protects you from germs, viruses and other serious diseases. Here are six steps that will strengthen your immune system and reduce your risk of getting sick (especially now that cold and flu season is here):

  1. Move more. Exercise can help keep your immune system healthy. Get 30 minutes (or more) of moderate exercise every day and to reduce your risk of getting colds, infections and even depression. Schedule it into your day just like you would a business meeting.
  2. Fight back with food. Eating processed foods that are high in fat and full of chemicals not only does nothing for your immunity, but it actually compromises it. Also cut back on coffee, soda and alcohol. Eat more fruits and vegetables, which are full of nutrients such as vitamins C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc. Other foods particularly good for your immune system include fresh garlic, which may help fight viruses and bacteria, and old-fashioned chicken soup.
  3. Fill up on fluids. Preferably water. All living cells are made of water so in order for them to function best; they have to be topped off. Fluid also keeps your blood and digestive system moving so that your body circulates needed nutrients and disposes of those you don’t need or that are harmful. Drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
  4. Rejuvenate with rest. Lack of sleep reduces your immune system function making you more susceptible to cold germs or the flu. Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  5. Soothe stress. Everyone has some stress; it’s part of life. If stress drags on for a long time, it makes you more vulnerable to illness, from colds to serious diseases. You may not be able to get rid of your stress, but you can get better at managing it. Learn to meditate. Take a few deep breathes, relax and be patient.
  6. Stop and get the shot. The flu shot isn’t your only defense against the flu, but it is by far the best. What else can you do to protect yourself? Wash your hands often.

4 Safety Tips for Packing School Lunches

School-LunchesEven though today’s insulated lunch boxes or bags do more to keep food safe, it still pays to be cautious when packing school lunches for your children. Here are some tips for packing a safe lunch:

  • Keep bacteria at bay. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before preparing any meal and remind children to do the same before they sit down for lunch. For extra protection, pack moist towelettes in their lunch box or insulated bag. Avoid introducing bacteria into a lunch when packing it by regularly cleaning and sanitizing your kitchen counter. And clean your child’s lunch box or insulated bag and make sure that it is completely dry before packing lunch.
  • Protect perishables. Always use a cold pack when you are packing anything perishable, such as a sandwich with lunch meat or fresh cut fruit with a yogurt-based dip. Place perishable food right against the cold pack in an insulated bag. Cold packs are intended to keep food cold, not cool it down. If you make a sandwich in the morning, it’s unlikely the cold pack will be able to cool it sufficiently. Instead, make the sandwich the night before and refrigerate it to ensure the sandwich starts out – and stays – cool. Or simply choose foods that are not perishable, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Single-serving fruits in pre-packaged containers, such as applesauce or fruit cocktail, are also great options.
  • Keep hot foods hot. If your child is taking hot soup or chili for lunch, pack it in an insulated bottle. Between uses, wash the bottle and rinse it with boiling water.
  • Throw out the trash.
    Pack only the amount of perishable food that your child can eat at lunch and ask them to throw out any leftovers. Don’t reuse packaging materials such as plastic bags or aluminum foil, as bacteria can grow on these wrappings, contaminate other foods and cause food borne illness.

5 Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

Breast-Cancer-AwarenessOctober is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a perfect time to take action to help lower your risk of developing breast cancer. While you can’t change some risk factors such as genetics and aging, there are things you can do that may lower your breast cancer risk:

  1. Watch your weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of breast cancer (especially after menopause and for women who gain weight as adults). If you’re already at a healthy weight, stay there. If you’re carrying extra weight, try to lose a few pounds (5 to 10 percent of your current weight over six months is an excellant way to start).
  2. Exercise. Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week (or a combination of both), preferably spread throughout the week. Limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down or watching TV.
  3. Limit alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. Don’t drink alcohol or limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day (two for a man). A single drink equals roughly 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (hard liquor).
  4. Avoid or limit hormone replacement therapy. Taking hormones such as estrogen and progesterone had long been used for night sweats, hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. But in 2002, researchers found that postmenopausal women who took a combination of these hormones were more likely to develop breast cancer (your risk appears to return to normal within five years after stopping hormone replacement therapy). Talk with your doctor about all the options to control your menopause symptoms, and the risks and benefits of each.
  5. Perform breast self-exams monthly. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, see your doctor. Schedule a yearly mammogram starting at age 40.