Entertaining ideas for going Greek (yogurt)



“Even if you’re not a fan of Greek yogurt’s distinctive flavor for snacking or breakfast purposes, you can still tap the health benefits of this popular dairy product,” says Laurie McNamara, author of the blog Simply Scratch. “You can incorporate Greek yogurt into a variety of recipes by using it to replace less healthful options like sour cream and mayo, or less nutritionally powerful ones like regular yogurt.”

The approaching holidays are a perfect opportunity to begin incorporating Greek yogurt into your family’s diets – and your entertaining menus. It’s possible to reap the health benefits of this super food in every course of your holiday meals.

Appetizers

What holiday buffet – or other occasion, for that matter – would be complete without a veggie tray and dip? Store-bought dips are often loaded with preservatives, sugar, salt and/or fatty ingredients. Making your own is a great way to reduce fat and calories, amp up nutritional value and ensure fresh, organic flavor.

McNamara has partnered with Simply Organic, purveyors of quality organic seasonings, to create ideas for serving Simply Organic Greek Yogurt Dip Mixes. Dips made with Greek yogurt add zest to vegetable platters, and can be a healthier complement to more decadent treats like chips and pretzels.

The dip seasonings can also pair with Greek yogurt in other appetizers, too. “If a recipe calls for regular yogurt or sour cream, you can substitute Greek yogurt,” McNamara says.

Try this recipe for a flavorful dish that can work on an hors d’oeuvres table or as an appetizer on a buffet.

Spinach and bacon-stuffed mushrooms

Ingredients

1 package-(16 ounces) baby portabella mushrooms (about 20 baby bellas)
 1 1/4 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt-
 4 tablespoons-turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled (about four slices)
 4 tablespoons-finely shredded 2 percent milk Colby Jack cheese
 1 package-Simply Organic Zesty Spinach Dip Mix
 1 1/2 teaspoons-fine bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a large glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Remove stems and scrape out gills of mushrooms with a spoon, being careful not to puncture caps of mushrooms.

In a large bowl, combine yogurt, bacon, cheese and dip mix until evenly mixed. Stuff mushroom caps with yogurt mixture, and sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Place mushroom caps in baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes, until the filling is hot and bubbly.

Entrees and sides

Think of all the dishes that call for sour cream, milk, heavy cream or regular plain yogurt. From mashed potatoes and chicken salad to soups and marinades for meats, Greek yogurt can replace those less healthful ingredients, allowing you to reap its health benefits while making the flavor subtle (or even undetectable) and enjoyable. And you don’t need to confine yourself to Greek recipes; Greek yogurt works regardless of a dish’s ethnic origins.

Here’s a recipe from Simply Organic in which Greek yogurt cuts the fat in a traditional Hungarian classic:

Smoky chicken paprikash

Ingredients

2 -8-ounce chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
 2 tablespoons-ground flax seed
 1 tablespoon-all-purpose flour
 1/4 teaspoon-smoked salt
 1/8 teaspoon-cayenne
 1/4 teaspoon-finely ground black pepper
 1 tablespoon-smoked paprika, divided
 1/2 teaspoon-garlic granules
 1/2 -white onion, chopped
 1/2 -red bell pepper, chopped
 1/2 -yellow bell pepper, chopped
 1/2 cup-sliced mushrooms
 1 -tomato, chopped
 1/2 cup-chicken broth (made with chicken flavored broth powder)
 3/4 cup-non-fat plain Greek yogurt
 1/2 teaspoon-lemon juice
 1/4 teaspoon-cornstarch

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray an 11-by-7-inch baking dish with non-stick spray.

Combine ground flax seed, flour, salt, cayenne, black pepper, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and garlic granules in a small bowl.

Dredge chicken pieces in dry mixture and place in non-stick pan. Surround chicken breasts with onion, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, mushrooms and tomato. Pour chicken broth over chicken and vegetables, then evenly sprinkle vegetables and chicken with remaining smoked paprika.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until done. Chicken’s internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees when done.

Combine Greek yogurt and lemon juice in a saucepan. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/2 cup liquid mixture from baking dish. Stir into yogurt and lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about five minutes. Pour yogurt sauce over chicken and vegetables.

Desserts

Cakes, bread puddings, pies – even cookies – practically any holiday dessert can work with Greek yogurt as an ingredient. Vegetarians and vegans have been replacing eggs with regular yogurt for years, and Greek yogurt is an even healthier substitution. Generally, if your recipe calls for a cup of creme fraiche, sour cream, mayonnaise or cream cheese, you can substitute a cup of Greek yogurt. It’s also a great-tasting, creamy and healthier alternative for homemade frozen yogurt.

Includes recipes.

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Gluten-free meals with ‘wow’ factor, from breakfast to dinner

(BPT) – As awareness of gluten-free diets continues to grow, more people are searching for ways to make their menus delicious, creative and varied while still staying gluten-free. In the past, forgoing gluten was challenging at best and frustrating at worst, due to a lack of available ingredients and products. But that was then. Now, whether it’s gluten intolerance or a goal of healthier eating that drives your meal plans, you can indulge and enjoy great meals from breakfast to dinner (and everything in between).

The expanding availability of gluten-free substitutes for favorites like tortillas, breads and pastas means that you don’t need to give up the dishes you love. For truly healthy options, it’s important to look for gluten-free products with shorter ingredient lists filled with familiar items.

Get your gluten-free menu started with these tips for meals throughout the day. Packed with flavor, nutrition and great ingredients, they’ll keep the whole family happy.

Breakfast

* Breakfast burrito bar – Get the day off to a spicy start with delicious breakfast burritos. Make it an interactive morning event on the weekend with a burrito bar. Set out an array of gluten-free ingredients, like scrambled eggs, beans, vegetables and cheese, for your family to mix and match. Fold it all up in black rice tortillas made by Food For Life, which are highly nutritious – black rice boasts antioxidant levels on par with “superfruits” like acai and blackberries.

* Dressed-up English muffins – Crispy outside, fluffy inside and topped with delicious, nutritious goodies – what could be a better way to start the day? Try topping yours with mashed avocado that’s been whisked with crushed chili, a splash of lime juice and a pinch of salt. Or, if you like something sweeter, try gluten-free almond butter with raspberries, blackberries or a dash of cinnamon sugar. Gluten-free English muffins are available from Food For Life.

Lunch

* Standout sandwiches – Go beyond the basics for your midday meal. Using gluten-free bread, you can create gourmet sandwiches that would cost far more in a restaurant. Rethink tuna salad by using Dijon mustard instead of mayo, and adding capers, diced sundried tomatoes and preserved lemon. Or, go for a veggie extravaganza with Portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers, crunchy sprouts and hummus.

* Seasoned quesadillas – Add a little something extra to your classic quesadilla, that well-loved snack of melted cheese between two gluten-free tortillas. Try adding a variety of cheeses and boosting the flavor with herbs and spice mixes.

Dinner

* A new take on pizza – Everyone loves pizza for dinner, especially when they can make it their own. Using gluten-free tortillas, the whole family can create personalized mini-pizzas with thin, crunchy crusts. Simply assemble the toppings of choice and either grill or toast in the oven. For busy nights, it’s a meal that’s quick, easy and guaranteed to please.

* Enchiladas -This classic Mexican dish is great for crowds, so if you’re welcoming friends, add it to your menu. Black rice tortillas will add eye-catching color and lots of nutrition, without bringing gluten to the table. Fill the enchiladas with the meat of your choice (such as shredded chicken or beef) as well as rice, beans and grilled onions and peppers. Top with a spiced sauce of roasted tomatoes, as well as Mexican cheese like cotija or chihuahua, and bake.

Today, gluten-free diets can be every bit as delicious and rich with nutrition – and maybe more so – than other diets. Celebrate the possibilities and find creativeness in your gluten-free kitchen. For more ideas, go to www.foodforlife.com.

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Decorating your home with chandelier lighting and other accessories


If you are planning on making some decorative changes around the home this year, there are many lighting accessories that you can choose from. From installing elegant and regal chandeliers to simple table lamps and everything in between, finding the right pieces for the best price is easy once you know where to look and what to look for. There are many sites online that offer an amazing array of products that can light up the mood in any home, but not all are created equal.

Before you are ready to shop, consider how you want your home to look once your design ideas have come to life. The last thing you need is to have a chandelier that does not fit well in the space you intended for it to go. Taking measurements, deciding on style, color and effect are all part of the planning process when it comes to finding the right lighting accessories for your home, but it is especially important to do with chandeliers.

Of course, not every lighting remodeling project is limited to chandeliers, but can include a wide range of other options to consider as well. Table lamps, wall lights and standing floor lamps all work to add their own effect in the space they are going to be used. While light is simply light, how it is reflected in the house depends on anything from the color of the lampshade to the tint of chandelier crystals. You can change one crystal to red, and end up having a red lighting effect on the entire room.

This is just one example of things to consider when deciding how to develop a lighting scheme for the home. It is not just brightness, but effect, mood, comfort and feel as well. Lighting accessories can do wonders when it comes to the way in which light beams throughout the home as well as the mood it creates.

With table lamps, the process isn’t as involved and it is pretty easy to decide what will look good and what will not. Taking a picture of some of the table lamps that interest you can help to pick the right one for your particular layout and the effect you want to create. Consider color and shade as well as the impact it has on the lighting of the entire room.

So, from easy to involved, the type of lighting you choose for your home will determine the amount of planning and visualizing that it will require. While the process is not that complicated or time consuming, skipping the preparation and research phase of any remodeling project can lead to unsatisfactory results. Making the effort now will save a lot of trouble down the line as well as ensure that you are happy with the look that you created for your home.

There are many sources online to find the best lighting accessories for your needs as well as for your budget. A good retailer will not only have a wide range of fixtures and other items available for sale, but they should also include a section for tips, suggestions and product information that will help you to make the best decision. They should also have a solid return policy as well as product guarantee in case you are unsatisfied with your purchase.

That being said, there are limitless options available online for anything from chandeliers to table lamps or red chandelier crystals, and it is easier than ever to order and have them delivered to your house. Keep in mind that you will need to wait a little while for the items to be shipped to your home, but that can be a benefit in and of itself because you can do the work necessary to prepare for installation. Whether you are ordering lighting accessories for the first time, or are a seasoned decorator, you will be amazed at the quality, selection and prices of a wide range of products found at an online chandelier store today.

by: Kathryn Dawson 

http://www.articlecity.com/articles/home_improvement/article_6896.shtml 

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Helping moms get finances on track for now and the future

(BPT) – Being a mom is a full-time job. No matter how old the children are, a mom is on call at all hours of the day and night, responding to injuries and broken hearts, handling homework questions, setting household rules, and establishing consequences if said rules are broken. But moms often have other jobs as well, juggling household chores, managing finances and often holding a full-time job.

Unfortunately, when the work load becomes too much, something can fall by the wayside, and often that something is finances. Only 24 percent of moms report they are satisfied with their current financial situation. They admit they are struggling to make ends meet, or are worried about their financial future, according to the -State of the American Mom Study released by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual).

“It’s no secret in today’s world that moms are stretched thin, but their finances shouldn’t have to suffer as a result,” says Tara Reynolds, corporate vice president with MassMutual.

Moms can get their finances on track with a few tips from MassMutual:

* Be prepared – Emergencies are not predictable, but if you have an emergency fund, you can protect yourself and your future plans for your family if you find yourself in a troubling financial situation.

* Protect your income – Families often don’t take into account the salary a stay-at-home mom would earn if she were to be paid for the work she does. If something were to happen to you as a stay-at-home mom, preventing you from doing these duties, your family may experience some troubling out-of-pocket expenses. With the help of a financial professional, you can explore financial options to ensure that you’re planning ahead adequately no matter what the future holds.

“Luckily, finding an experienced professional for your finances can be easier than finding help for child care or other things that cause stress for today’s moms,” Reynolds says. “This can make all the difference in helping moms achieve financial security for themselves and their families.”

* Plan now, not later – Don’t procrastinate when it comes to planning for your financial future. No one knows what the future will bring, so now is the time to sit down and think about how to pass your assets – but not your taxes – to your heirs.

* Have the talk – Schedule a monthly meeting to sit down with your spouse or significant other – or children if they’re old enough – to discuss your finances. It’s critical for family members to have a full understanding of all debt and assets in order to build a realistic plan.

The survey found only one-third of moms currently use the services of a financial professional to help them with their investments and insurance needs. Set up a meeting today to get your finances on track for both your current needs and those of the future.

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Expert Q&A: Wear and tear or osteoarthritis of the knee?



Jeffrey E. Rosen, M.D., a leading osteoarthritis expert and Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation at New York Hospital Queens, shares expert insights and advice that all osteoarthritis of the knee sufferers should know, including ways to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle and common disease misconceptions.

What is osteoarthritis?

Often referred to as “wear and tear,” osteoarthritis is a chronic disease in which the cartilage, or cushioning tissue between the surfaces of joints, wears away. When cartilage surrounding the joint breaks down, the joint has to bear more weight; this transmits across the joint possibly leading to changes in the underlying bone.
What are some common misconceptions about osteoarthritis of the knee?
Osteoarthritis is often confused with osteoporosis, which is a disease that affects the makeup of the bone, as opposed to the joints and cartilage surrounding the bone. Another common misconception is that osteoarthritis of the knee only affects older people.
Who is at risk of developing osteoarthritis?
There are certain factors that can increase a person’s risk including weight, age, gender and injury or trauma to the knee joint. Those who have had repeated trauma to the knee joints, also referred to as “micro-traumas,” are at higher risk, and women are affected more than men. Approximately 60 percent of the nearly 27 million people affected by osteoarthritis of the knee are women.ii
What are the symptoms? How can you tell it may be time to see your doctor?
General osteoarthritis of the knee symptoms include stiffness, particularly when getting up in the morning, aching in the joints and pain while walking up and down stairs. Patients will normally use over-the-counter medications to treat the symptoms. However, if symptoms progress over time or you start to feel a “crunching” sensation from inside the joint, this may be a sign that it is time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Also, consult your doctor when pain, stiffness or swelling becomes too persistent or starts to affect your stability when standing. Another sure sign to seek medical attention is when symptoms cannot be alleviated with an anti-inflammatory or an over-the-counter medication, such as acetaminophen. The key to a better outcome is seeking support early and before the problem progresses too far.
How is osteoarthritis knee pain treated?
Traditionally, physicians have approached treating osteoarthritis in a step-wise fashion, beginning with improving diet as well as a modified exercise program, then moving towards pharmacological intervention as needed. However, now physicians are starting to try different treatment approaches to help get the best result possible for patients as quickly as possible. My preference is to use multi-modal strategies where I can combine treatments and therapy strategies.
Non-interventional Treatment, Modified shoe wear/orthotics, Assisting device (e.g. cane), Weight loss Nutrition and proper diet, Over-the-counter Medication, Glucosamine for joint health Pain medication (e.g. acetaminophen), Interventional Treatment, Cortisone or hyaluronic acid injection therapy, Partial joint replacement, Total joint replacement

What type of questions should people who suffer from osteoarthritis knee pain ask their doctors when it comes to diet, nutrition, exercise, treatment options, etc.?

I tell my patients the importance of being informed. Ask your doctor about ways to maintain proper body weight and an exercise program that is appropriate for you. It is also important to keep an open dialogue with your doctor about worsening symptoms so treatment can be adjusted as necessary.
What are three things you would recommend someone diagnosed with osteoarthritis knee pain to keep in mind?

Maintain a healthy body weight. It is essential to maintain a healthy body weight. In fact, every 10 pounds, either lost or gained, is magnified by four times depending on the physical activity being done by the individual. Stay active and exercise. Keep up an active lifestyle and make sure this includes a stretching and exercise program.


A common misstep is to focus on cardiovascular training only or weight training only, whereas a combination of the two is ideal. Stronger muscles can act like shock absorbers to joints, so a strength training program is beneficial.
Educate yourself about your disease. Finally, it is imperative to be educated about your condition and aware of the contributing factors so you know when it is the right time to see your doctor.For more information, please visit: www.euflexxa.com.
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After-school smarts: Go healthy when kids go home



Personal safety

Some kids engage in team sports after school. Others participate in school-sponsored extracurricular clubs. Still others go home and spend time alone until parents are finished working. Regardless of how a child spends the hours after school, personal safety should be important—and a topic of conversation between parents and kids.

Consider how your child will spend their after-school hours, and work together to develop a list of relevant safety tactics. For example, if your child plays a sport, discuss ways to avoid injury and make sure they always wear appropriate safety gear. For students who will arrive home before parents, set ground rules, such as go straight home and check in via phone call or text once they arrive. Remind children not to open the door to strangers or answer phone calls from numbers they can’t identify. Safekids.org offers a wealth of safety tips that can be applied to virtually every child’s after-school situation.

Better snacking

Snacking is actually a very healthy habit when done smartly. Teach kids to reach for a sensible and filling snack to help keep their minds alert for homework and their bodies fueled for after-school activities. Encourage kids to use portion control and choose healthier snacks, like fresh fruits or veggies or fat-free options like pretzels.

Portion-controlled, pre-packaged choices are convenient and healthy options for after-school snacking. For example, 100-calorie pretzel packs from Snyder’s of Hanover are a great-tasting snack kids love. Plus, ample research – and common experience – indicates chewing on something crunchy stimulates the brain. Try a low-fat combination of pretzels with apple slices or carrot sticks, which are more stimulating to a child’s brain than something sweet and fatty. Visit www.snydersofhanover.com to learn more.

Follow a schedule that builds in fun and eases homework headaches

Naturally, all children want to work some fun into their day, whether it’s before or after homework is complete. Since most kids thrive with guidance and structure, talk to your child about creating a schedule or “to-do” list for after-school time, and make sure it includes a combination of fun activities, snack time and homework. Keep in mind that every child is different. Some children need to run around before starting homework, while others do best when saving the fun time for last.

Screen time

Once kids have completed homework and gotten a little physical activity, many may prefer to spend hours online, playing video games or watching TV. Finding a balance can be tough. Many parents take a “homework first” approach, having kids complete school assignments before they’re allowed the treat of screen time. Also consider parental control software to set limits on when kids can use the PC, laptop or tablet and to restrict when—and where—they can go online.

You can also encourage kids to use technology in a manner that stimulates their brain, such as reading a book on a tablet, working on a brain puzzle on the computer, or practicing their keyboard or typing skills. Many schools will provide a list of fun websites kids can access at home or the library to reinforce skills taught in school.

Once the bell rings and school is out for the day, keep your children safe, smart and healthy with each of these approaches.

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