Yes, we’ve heard the hype about various fad diets, from the gluten-free craze, to Paleo, to low fat, to no carbs. But forget waist-whittling and weight loss, we’re looking for something more in our diets. We’re talking glowing skin, a more even complex…
SPECIAL FROM Next Avenue
Nostalgic as the ice cream truck jingle sounds, the high sugar, high-fat treats it dishes up aren’t the best way to keep cool in fiftysomething years.
Smarter strategies for “chilling out” call for lighter, nutrient-packed frozen and liquid treats that don’t pile on the pounds or aggravate good health.
Check out these five easy DIY recipes (and store-bought alternatives for when you don’t have time). Finally, adult treats that let you chill with good health in mind.
1. Chocolate-Dipped Bananas
Fiftysomething benefits: The blood-pressure lowering potassium from the bananas and the health-enhancing antioxidants from the dark chocolate make for a guilt-less treat.
DIY recipe: Microwave 6 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips in a glass bowl on medium power for one minute; stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments until chocolate is melted. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Cut two medium bananas in half and insert popsicle sticks into cut ends. Dip banana sections in melted chocolate and freeze on tray for two hours, or until firm. Place in freezer bags and store until ready to eat.
Lazy Cook’s substitute: Choose the dark chocolate version of Diana’s Bananas. Just two ingredients here — bananas and dark chocolate.
2. Fruit-Infused Waters
Fiftysomething benefits: Hydration. Hydration. Hydration. With a less-than-reliable thirst mechanism in later years, it’s common for water reserve to drop too low.
DIY recipe: Clean and slice up to 1 cup of any of your favorite seasonal fruits or veggies and add them, along with a few sprigs of fresh herbs, to a 1-quart pitcher. Fill with water and let steep in the refrigerator for two hours or longer. Serve as is, or strain out fruit mixture. Try, say, a strawberry-lime-cucumber water: Slice 12 large strawberries, one lime and one-fourth of a cucumber; add a few fresh crushed mint leaves along with ice and water and let steep. Note: For stronger flavors, muddle or crush fruits and herbs.
Lazy Cook’s substitute: Hint Water or Hint Fizz. No sugar. No fake sweeteners. This is just good old H20 (sparkling or still) with natural flavors such as apple, blood orange, blackberry or grapefruit.
3. Frozen Fruit Bars
Fiftysomething benefits: Research confirms that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may reduce risk for heart attack and stroke.
DIY recipe: Combine 1/2 pound of frozen mango chunks with 6 tablespoons light coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 tablespoon lime juice and 1/2 teaspoon lime zest in a blender. Puree until smooth and pour into four juice bar molds. (Popsicle mold sizes are wildly variable so adjust amounts as needed.) Freeze bars for four hours or until firm.
Lazy Cook’s substitute: Fruttare Mango Fruit Bars. At a skinny 60 calories and only 11 grams of sugar, Fruttare Mango packs big flavor yet less sugar than most store-bought frozen fruit bars.
4. Green Smoothies
Fiftysomething benefits: Dark leafy greens are fiber-rich, full of vitamins and sport two potent antioxidants — lutein (healthy eyes & heart) and beta-carotene (healthy immune system, skin and bones).
DIY recipe: Green smoothies typically start with at least one dark leafy green (kale, spinach) and add other vegetables, along with a bit of fruit to keep things sweet. Eating Well magazine’s Green Smoothie or Good Green Tea Smoothie are good choices that use whole fruits and vegetables and so offer plenty of healthy fiber.
Lazy Cook’s substitute: Choices here are abysmal. Supermarket “green” drinks typically list fruit juices as their main ingredients and sadly contain very little of the “green stuff.” So what you’re sipping is a lot of simple fruit sugar — think adult soda pop — that’s absorbed quickly instead of being buffered by the fiber in whole fruits. Don’t believe us? Compare the numbers. An 8-ounce glass of cola sports 93 calories, 26 grams of simple carbs. Eight ounces (about half the bottle) of Naked Green Machine racks up 140 calories and 33 grams of simple carbs. Eight ounces of Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness Fruit Smoothie (again, about half the bottle) weighs in with 140 calories and 30 grams of simple carbs.
5. Fruit Sorbets
Fiftysomething benefits: Filling half the plate with colorful fruits and veggies nets you all kinds of vitamins and disease-fighting chemicals. On that list: anthocyanidins (that help keep blood vessels healthy) in berries, lycopene (good for heart health and cancer prevention) in pink grapefruit and beta-carotene (for immune, skin, and bone health) in aprictos. Whatever you pick, it’s all good.
DIY recipe: The sky’s the limit on flavor combinations with fresh fruits so go ahead and blend your own combos. Or check out these easy recipes from Cooking Light for Double Berry Sorbet or refreshingly tart-sweet Pink Grapefruit Sorbet.
Lazy Cook’s substitute: Haagen-Daz Strawberry Sorbet. One of the lowest sugar supermarket sorbets. More sugar than a homemade light sorbet but just 130 calories in half a cup.
SPECIAL FROM Next Avenue
It may be the favorite way to cook on hot summer days, but experts say the high heat of grilling can produce cancer-causing compounds that are dangerous to your health.
But don’t ditch the barbecue just yet. Grilling can still be one of the healthiest methods of cooking, as long as you use the right techniques and make healthy food choices.
In fact, the trick to being the healthiest BBQ boss on the block is as simple as seven smart strategies:
1. Scrub the grill. A few passes of a good stiff grill brush will take off any charred compounds lingering on the grill. And that’s important, why? Well, these bits of charred residue harbor potentially harmful cancer-causing chemicals that might transfer to your newest grilled masterpiece.
2. Pick the right meats. How does grilled chicken with tomato-avocado salad or grilled chicken with honey-chipotle BBQ sauce sound? These light recipes are a good to grill not only for flavor, but also for health.
Chicken is lower in saturated fat than red meats such as steak or burgers. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up those juicy foods. “It’s OK to eat red meat as long as you limit the amount,” says the American Heart Association. Best red meat choices include leaner cuts like round, loin or sirloin.
What about hot dogs? Health experts put them on the avoid (or limit to the very rare occasion) list. Not only are processed meats linked to cancer, but a 2014 study also links them to heart failure.
3. Turn down the heat. While it’s tempting to crank up the heat to give barbecued meats a charred, crusty exterior, it’s also a sure way to produce some nasty cancer-causing chemicals, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Potentially dangerous heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form when muscle meats are grilled directly over an open flame with high temperatures. Current research suggests these chemicals can cause cancer in animals. But cancer experts say it’s probably wise for all of us to reduce exposure to these chemicals.
Simply turning down grilling temperatures or using indirect grilling methods that let food sit on a cooler side of the grill is enough to minimize exposure to HCAs and PAHs.
4. Use a marinade. A quick bath in flavorful herb- and spice-based liquids (tea, wines and beer) before grilling will cut down on potential cancer-causing HCAs and PAHs.
“Marinating can decrease HCA formation by up to 96 percent, although studies are still underway to determine which ingredients help the most,” says registered dietitian Karen Collins, spokesperson for the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).
Indeed, the newest research, summarized by Science Daily, reports that marinating pork for four hours in Pilsner beer or black beer ale reduces PAHs considerably, even when grilled meat is cooked to the well-done stage.
5. Plan to precook. Less time spent on the grill means less time for cancer-causing compounds to form. So roast ribs in the oven or crockpot first. Precook chicken or beef in the microwave.
The idea is to use any method that lets you “finish off” meats on the grill for only a few minutes, just enough time to acquire that smoky grilled flavor.
6. Fish for flavor. Seafood might just beat out chicken as the go-to lean protein for summer barbecues for two reasons.
First, wild salmon or shrimp or any kind of firm white fish that is cut into thin fillets will cook quickly on the grill. So that means there’s less time for cancer-causing HCAs and PAHs to form.
Second, seafoods sport low levels of fat. And less fat means less smoke and less of those fiery fat-induced grill flare-ups (which also promote formation of HCAs). Here’s an AICR recipe for tuna kebabs.
7. Pile on the veggies. Those harmful by-product substances that form in meat cooked over high temperatures are not an issue with vegetables. In fact, vegetables, and even fruits, are perfect foods for the grill. You can enjoy all that smoky grilled flavor without any health worries.
SPECIAL FROM Grandparents.com
Women spend about $426 billion on beauty products each year. You can forgo the expensive products and still look and feel fabulous with just one do-it-all tool – and it only costs about a dollar. Find out how to use plain old baking soda to get great hair, skin, nails, and more.
Help Your Hair
Drugstores and beauty supply stores sell expensive shampoos, serums, and dry shampoo formulas to combat product buildup, chlorine damage, and oily hair. All you need to solve all three hair woes is a cheap box of baking soda. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to your usual handful of shampoo to remove buildup, rinse hair with about half a teaspoon dissolved in water to fight chlorine discoloration, or sprinkle a small amount on your scalp and brush for a quick and easy dry shampoo. Baking soda is a great cleaning agent, and easily lifts oils, discolorations, and buildup on your scalp from hairsprays, conditioners, and other products.
Several studies published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry found that not only were toothpastes with baking soda more effective at removing plaque, but baking soda also is more effective at whitening teeth than other products. Want a make-at-home whitener? To banish coffee and wine stains from your smile, many dentists recommend brushing with a powerhouse combination of baking soda and strawberries, which contain malic acid, another natural stain-fighter. Mash a ripe strawberry and combine with baking soda to form a paste. Brush onto teeth for a few minutes, rinse, and then brush with regular toothpaste to remove residue. A word of caution: Don’t use this treatment more than two or three times a month, since too much malic acid could damage your tooth enamel.
Soothe a Sunburn
When aloe just isn’t cutting it for soothing sunburnt skin, try baking soda for calming relief. Combine baking soda and water and use a washcloth or soaked cotton balls to apply to your skin, says Hadley C. King, MD, a clinical instructor of dermatology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in an article on Womansday.com. A baking soda and water paste also helps calm itchy bug bites, bee stings, and poison ivy rashes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The alkaline nature of baking soda neutralizes irritants and restores skin’s pH, soothing burning and itching in the process.
If your silver jewelry looks old and tarnished, try cleaning it with this simple trick. You just need some baking soda, very hot (almost boiling) water, and aluminum foil. Pour the water into a small bowl and submerge your jewelry. Then add about a tablespoon of baking soda and a sheet of aluminum foil. The combination of the water and baking soda helps lift the tarnish from your jewelry and sticks it to the aluminum. Move the pieces around, making sure that all of your jewelry touches the aluminum. Afterwards, just rinse and polish with a soft cloth. Avoid using this method on jewelry with gemstones or organic material like pearls (which are easily damaged), says the Gemological Institute of America.
There’s an easier way to remove those tiny, pesky splinters than trying to dig around with a tweezer. The baking soda helps swell the skin and draw the splinter to the surface. Simply make a paste of baking soda and water, apply to the area, and cover with a bandage. After about 24 hours, the splinter should be sticking out enough that you can pull it out with tweezers. If not, repeat the process.
You can even use baking soda in place of your deodorant. A pinch of baking soda mixed with water provides a paste that doubles as a natural deodorant. If you’re having trouble making it stick, try applying a little cornstarch first. But if you aren’t ready to part with your antiperspirant, just sprinkle some baking soda in your shoes for an easy, cheap deodorizer.
Get Cleaner Nails
Yellowing, stained nails can make your hands look older. Nail experts recommend making a paste with equal parts hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, and using a nail scrub brush to scrub underneath and on top of your nails. Let it sit for a few minutes and rinse off. Persistently yellow nails, however, could be a sign of a fungal infection. See a doctor if your nails don’t lighten up.
Exfoliate Rough Skin
Baking soda is also great as an exfoliator. Use three parts baking soda to one part water and rub onto rough elbows, feet, hands, or other spots to exfoliate dry, scaly skin. Do not use on cracked or broken skin, however.