Friday, April 24, 2015

Healthy Habits: Living with Diabetes

Diabetes is a complex and often overwhelming disease that requires ongoing patient awareness and self-management.  For the millions of Americans who live with the disease, there can be mental and physical barriers that challenge their daily activities.
Diabetes requires continual blood sugar monitoring, meal planning, exercise and stress management. Medication may be needed for the rest of their lives, including insulin, which often requires multiple injections per day.
I recently had a chance to interview, Tami Ross, a nationally-known Certified Diabetes Educator and Registered Dietician who will discuss the “Dynamic Duos” education campaign, which champions the role of diabetes educators in empowering people with diabetes and their caregivers with tips and resources to successfully manage their diabetes.

Sweepstakes: Ragú Saucesome

Ragú is recognizing and celebrating everything that makes family mealtime Saucesome with a chance to win $12,000 towards a Saucesome kitchen makeover.
From April 16, 2015, through July 8, 2015, fans can go to to register and enter daily by voting on their favorite recipes and sharing with friends/family.   Each week for 12 weeks, a lucky fan will win $1,000 and one grand prize winner will take home $12,000 towards a Saucesome kitchen makeover.
For more details on the Ragú Saucesome Sweepstakes, visit and see Official Rules.

Smart Safety: Pool Safety Interview

I recently had a chance to interview Eric Lupton, President of Life Saver Pool Fence Systems, Inc., about pool safety.

What factors contribute to drownings (or near-drownings) in home pools?

Lack of education is really the biggest factor that contributes to drownings nationwide. Parents don't realize how silent and fast drowning is. They think they will hear their child fall into the pool or cry for help, but in reality, children slip into the pool quietly and then drown very quickly. Many parents also don't realize how common drowning is (drowning is the #1 accidental cause of death for children under 5), so they don't take the necessary precautions to make their pools safer. When the pool is in use, like during a pool party, the most common cause of drowning is one adult assuming another adult is supervising, when really neither are. There is a psychological phenomenon called "diffusion of responsibility" that occurs when multiple adults are present, where they all become less vigilant than if they were the sole person responsible for supervision. This is why you hear so many stories of children drowning in a pool full of people and nobody notices until it's too late.

Besides fatal drownings, what other injuries and health effects can near-drownings cause?

Non-fatal drownings can result in injuries ranging from absolutely nothing at all to severe, permanent neurological damage, requiring lifelong, 24/7 care.

What can parents do to prevent these accidental deaths?
It's important to know that drowning IS preventable. The solution is to institute layers of protection. Parent supervision is the most important
​layer, but it can and does fail -- one or both parents were responsible for supervision in 69% of fatal drowning incidents.. No one can watch an active toddler every moment of every day. The annoying neighbor rings the doorbell to borrow milk (again), your burning dinner sets the fire alarm off, your seven year old runs inside with a bloody nose, you drop a frozen pork chop on your toe – distractions happen. It only takes minutes for your life to be turned upside down forever.

The solution is to implement layers of protection. In addition to active parent supervision, Life Saver Systems recommends:

High locks and alarms on all doors and windows with pool access.
A pool safety fence isolating the pool from the home and all access points.
Alarms both in the pool and worn on the child.
Water survival training as soon as you and your doctor feel comfortable
CPR and rescue techniques – your final layer of defense.

The more layers you have, the safer your pool area. If there is a lapse in supervision, for whatever reason, all must fail before a drowning can occur.

If the pool is in use and multiple adults are present, pick a water watcher whose sole job is to watch the pool and the children for 15 minutes -- no reading, no texting, nothing but supervision for 15 minutes. When the 15 minutes are up, assign the next person. This way, one person is always definitely watching the pool.​

Mom’s Love in a Breakfast Bowl

by Joel L.A. Peterson
My mother – the wonderful woman who adopted me despite already having four biological children of her own – was a bright, educated, and deeply thoughtful person.  So she had been planning for my arrival from the orphanage in many ways.  When I arrived from Korea as her new son, I was nearly seven years old, and my mother knew that Koreans did not eat the same breakfast that Americans typically ate.
She reasoned that I was used to eating rice, not cold cereal with milk.  But she didn’t want to serve me rice, which she thought could reinforce a sense of not belonging; being treated as a foreigner, given non-typical America food.  So she had a plan.  She would ease me through the transition from steamed rice.
The very first day, I was seated at the breakfast table surrounded by my new parents, brother, and three sisters.  Mother put her plan into action as all the pairs of blue eyes and faces framed by blonde hair looked on.
I didn’t speak any English.  I couldn’t understand anything that anyone was saying to me.  It was just so much noise.  But I was old enough that I had internalized Korean customs and manners.  Even though I knew that this was my new family, my Korean socialization urged me to remember that I needed to act like a guest in their house.
In Korea, there are many social rules covering all manner of situations and social settings.  Everyone has a specific role.  Two of the most important roles were host and guest.  Other important roles were adult and child.  As a child guest in a strange adult host’s home, Korean custom demanded that I not complain, not refuse any offered food or gift, and that I not leave any food unfinished.
My mother set down a small bowl of steaming hot oatmeal in front of me and placed a small spoon into it and stirred.  She sat down and the entire family looked on expectantly.  I looked from one set of blue eyes to the next around the table.  I looked down at the bowl.  There was nothing about the bowl of oatmeal that was remotely like rice.  But to my mother’s Midwestern way of thinking, it was similar.
I took a spoonful and put it in my mouth.  It was awful.  Horrible.  The texture, the taste, the stickiness of it were like nothing I had ever eaten.  I wanted to spit it out.  But I was a guest and the youngest child.  I swallowed and almost threw up.  I gagged and forced it down my esophagus.  I took another spoonful and forced myself to swallow it too.  I did this until it was all gone.  I’d done my duty as a guest.  Everyone around the table was smiling and making their weird English noises at me.
My life in America was off to a distasteful start.
But I had spent most of my life in Korea in near starvation.  I lived with my Korean mother until she sent me to Korea Social Services to put me up for adoption when I was six.  She had little choice.  As a single mother of a mixed race child, she was stigmatized and outcast and could find no other work than in American GI clubs.  At times, we were reduced to begging on the streets.  She knew she could not support me and that I had little hope for a future in Korean society.
So I had learned never to refuse food.  No matter what.
The next day, the same thing happened.  And the next.  And the next.  But the servings of oatmeal grew larger over time, eventually needing a bigger bowl.  I somehow managed to choke down every bowl, leaving each clean of any leftovers.  I thought this was some sort of American torture ritual that the youngest in a family must endure.
In Korea, there were customs that didn’t allow children certain adult foods or to use adult terms for things until they had reached a certain age.  I thought maybe it was similar in America.  While everyone else in the family got to eat delicious looking cereal with milk, I thought I must be too young, and was relegated to this God awful, goopy oatmeal stuff.  I endured this torture for six months.  One day, my mother asked me if I wanted to try some cereal, pointing to a box of raisin bran on the table.  By now, I could speak English and I understood her offer fully.  I leaped at the chance and grabbed the Raisin Bran box and poured myself a bowl full of it.  Dad poured the milk, since I was too small to safely hold the heavy, large pitcher.
The first spoonful of raisin bran was pure heaven!  The taste was nutty but sweet, the texture crunchy and the milk cool and quenching.  I loved it!  I must have eaten Raisin Bran for the next two years.  To this day, it’s my favorite cereal.
Years later, I came home for the first time from college.  It was Christmas time and I came down for my first home cooked breakfast since going out of state for school.  And there at my table place was a big steaming bowl of oatmeal.
“I thought I would make you a treat,” Mom said.  “You used to just love oatmeal when you first came from Korea!  You would always clean your bowl and we kept having to give you bigger and bigger servings, because you would always eat it up.”  She smiled and gave one of her musical laughs.  “I finally had to force you to try something different!  But it’s good to have you home for the Holidays.  So I made this special, just for you.”  She beamed.
My mother is a wonderful woman – bright and well educated.  And deeply thoughtful and giving.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her the truth.  I sat down and ate, cleaning the bowl while my mother smiled.
In his new book, Dreams of My Mothers, author Joel L.A. Peterson brings his unique personal background as a biracial international adoptee and combines it with his penetrating insights into multiple cultures to create an exceptionally enthralling and inspirational story. Learn more at

Healthy Habits: Get in Fantastic Shape with this 4 Minute Workout

Are you spending a lot of time at the gym but not seeing the results you want?  Maybe you want to get in better shape but can’t find time to go to the gym?  What if you could get in fantastic shape exercising only 4 minutes each day, 4-5 days week?  What if you could do all the exercises at home without buying any equipment?  You can.  This article will teach you how.

Tabata interval training is a highly effective training protocol designed to produce exceptional results in a very short period of time.  In 4 short minutes, you get a complete workout that will improve your fitness performance, build muscle, and burn fat.  

Tabata interval training is very simple.  Perform 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest.  Repeat 8 times without pause for a total of 4 minutes.  The 4 minutes are challenging and very intense, but yield better results than 60 minutes of aerobic exercise.

The Science

In his ground breaking study, Dr. Tabata had two different groups of athletes perform two different exercise regimes, and then he compared the results.  The first group exercised for 60 minutes, 5 days/week at an intermediate intensity.  The second group exercised using short but very intense intervals (20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds, for a total of 4 minutes).  After 6 weeks, Dr. Tabata found:

·       Group 1 improved their aerobic capacity by 9.5% but got no improvement in anaerobic capacity

·       Group 2 (the interval trained group) improved their aerobic capacity by 14% and their anaerobic capacity by 28%

Later, a 2007 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found high intensity interval training (HIIT) increased fat burning capacity in women after only 7 sessions over a 2 week period.

In 2009, a study found that men performing HIIT doubled their metabolic rate and increased glucose and fatty acid oxidation (burned fat) for three hours after exercising.

In 2013, Dr. Olson found that a 4-minute Tabata routine of jump squats burned 13.5 calories per minute, (5 times the calories burned in the average cardio workout) and doubled the subjects' metabolic rate for 30 minutes after the workout ended.

What Exercises Can Be Performed in Tabata Interval Training?

A variety of exercises can be performed, but they must be compound movements that activate a lot of muscle mass.  So think squats, not calf raises.  Bodyweight exercises like squats, sit-ups, and push-ups can be done as well as full body movements like burpees, sprints, or jumping jacks.  You can also use weighted movements like deadlifts or power cleans.  You can mix and match exercises depending on your fitness goals.

How to Perform a Tabata Interval Workout, Step by Step

Step 1: Plan the Exercises

Determine the exercises you will perform.  No equipment or gym membership?  No problem.  Bodyweight exercises are perfect for Tabata interval training.  Go to for a periodic table of bodyweight exercises complete with instructional videos on how to correctly perform each exercise.  They are arranged by difficulty, so you can pick exercises that fit your fitness level.  Don’t have time to plan the exercises?  You can use Strength Stack 52 bodyweight exercise cards.  Simply shuffle the deck and deal yourself 8 cards.

Step 2: Warm up

Start with some dynamic stretching and then perform full body movements (jogging, rowing, etc.) that increase your body temperature until you achieve a light sweat.

As you warm up, get fired up and mentally prepare for an intense 4 minutes.  Remember, a 4 minute workout is more fun than a 60 minute workout, and it’s more effective too!

Step 3: Get a Clock

Get a clock or stop watch handy.  Better yet, if you have smartphone or computer go to for a Tabata timer with voice commands that tell you when to start, stop, and rest between intervals.

Step 4: Workout

Set the timer, get in position for the first exercise, and wait for the beginning bell to ring.  Without sacrificing technique, get as many reps as possible for each exercise in 20 seconds.  So if you’re doing squats, try to get as many squats as possible using good technique before the 20 second timer is up.

When the timer rings, stop the exercise, breathe deeply, and get in position for the next exercise.  Repeat this for all 8 intervals at the highest intensity you can manage. 

Step 5: Cool down

Yes, you just finished an awesome workout, and it only took 4 minutes!  You will be thoroughly exhausted.  Breathe deeply and walk briskly until your heart rate and breathing returns to normal.  Finish by lightly stretching your muscles. 

The Stack 52 4-Minute Workout

Want to get started right away?  Try the Stack 52 4-Minute Tabata Workout.  First watch the video of each exercise (find demo videos here) and practice a few reps to make sure you know how to perform the exercise.  This will help you warm up to a light sweat.  Then get your Tabata timer ready and go for it!

Round 1: 20 Seconds of bodyweight Squats

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 2: 20 Seconds of Push-Ups

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 3: 20 Seconds of Mason Twists

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 4: 20 Seconds of Burpees

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 5: 20 Seconds of Diamond Push-Ups

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 6: 20 Seconds Vertical Crunches

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 7: 20 Seconds of Clock Lunges

10 Seconds of Rest

Round 8: 20 Seconds of Mountain Climbers

10 Seconds of Rest


Not only can you get a great workout in only 4 minutes, you will get results faster than anyone doing 60 minutes of cardio at the gym.  Tabata interval training is wonderfully challenging and extremely effective.  After a few weeks, you will notice your overall fitness has dramatically increased, and you have burned a lot of fat.  I worked out for 10 years at gyms, and I never had 6-pack abs until I started doing Tabata interval training.  If you play sports, you will notice that you can play with much more intensity for longer periods without getting winded.  You will run circles around your friends who will think you’re some kind of freak who doesn’t get tired.

You can become extremely fit and love the way you look working out for just 4 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  That’s only 20 minutes a week!  You can do this, and if you use bodyweight exercises, you can do it anywhere without equipment!

If you have preexisting health problems or are not used to performing exercise at a high intensity, be sure to check with your doctor before attempting Tabata interval training.  Remember to start at your own pace and increase the intensity as you are able.

This article was written by Kurt Boyd, fitness fanatic, and director of Strength Stack 52, a unique way to transform bodyweight exercises into fun, competitive workouts that can be performed anywhere.


Tabata I. et. al.  Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. (1996) 28(10):1327-30.

Talanian J. et. al. Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women. Journal of Applied Physiology Apr 2007, 102 (4) 1439-1447

Gibala M. et. al.  Brief intense interval exercise activates AMPK and p38 MAPK signaling and increases the expression of PGC-1α in human skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology Mar 2009, 106 (3) 929-934

Olsen, M. O. Tabata Interval Exercise: Energy Expenditure and Post-Exercise Responses

Scharff-Olson Kinesiology Lab, Auburn University Montgomery, Montgomery, AL

Mealtime Magic: Silk Cashew Recipes

Disclosure: I received complimentary products through BzzAgent to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I recently got to try Silk Cashew. It makes incredibly delicious milk for cereal and coffee. It also makes good recipes. Here are a few tasty options!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

2 cans coconut milk, chilled
2 cups Silk® Cashewmilk
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c peanut butter
1/3-1/2 c sugar, honey, or agave (to taste)
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 c chopped peanut butter cups (optional)

Opened chilled cans of coocnut milk and scoop the cream from the top of each can (use the remaining liquid for smoothies or other recipes). Add with remaining ingredients to blender and puree until smooth. Chill for at least 1 hour. Process in ice cream maker, and add chopped peanut butter cups, if desired. Soften in refrigerator 10 minutes before serving.

(We don't have an ice cream maker; we added the cups right away and froze, stirring every 10 minutes or so).

Strawberries and Cream Smoothie

1 c Silk® Cashewmilk
4-8 frozen strawberries
1 t almond butter
1/4 t vanilla extract
1-5 t honey, agave, or sugar (to taste)

Pour Silk in a blender and add strawberries, one at a time, until smoothie reaches desired consistency. Add remaining ingredients and sweeten to taste.

Consumer Critique: Hope in a Box

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

Hope in a Box wants to help everyone remember to Hang On, Pray Everyday. They have a variety of products, from stationery and bracelets to t-shirts and bags, to provide that reminder. I received a sample of the sling backpack, and it was well-made and I could easily see using it frequently (especially for my girls going to a Christian school).

I liked the concept so much, I actually ordered t-shirts and cards. I think the cards will be great to use as sympathy or just-thinking-about-you cards for my Christian friends. You can also get blankets and iPad covers with the message on it.

H.O.P.E. was developed by a husband and wife team that was struggling to make their marriage work, as well struggling with the realities of illness. Realizing that their ability to get through their trying circumstances was a result of their hope and their faith in God, they wanted to find a way to bring this message to others and offer them inspirational gift items that were meaningful and encouraging. By including their H.O.P.E. logo on each item, the H.O.P.E. team hopes that their products can be an everyday reminder to pray and focus on faith and God in all circumstances. 
In addition, 25% of all profits go to life, marriage and family affirming ministries that offer hope.

Consumer Critique: Chef's Thumb

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own. 

Chef’s Thumb is a multipurpose thumb protector and peeler system that makes food prep safer and easier. It slips right on the thumb to grip and stabilize the cutting surface, ensuring safe and secure cutting, while protecting the thumb from the knife. The Chef’s Thumb can also act as a high-efficiency light duty produce peeler by just snapping the optional peeler into place. It's made out of stainless steel and high strength polycarbonate, with a triple bonded Titanium T3™ blade that is razor sharp and will never rust.

I got a chance to try it out, and it was so nice. It made it a lot easier to include my kids in food prep. The tool comes with inserts to allow for a comfortable fit for any size finger. It was a little bit loose on my 5-year-old, but the 7-year-old worked, and my husband's finger fit as well. It took just a bit of getting used to, but it really did allow for a safer, more secure grip on everything I cut with it.

Fun Freetime: Science Fun from SciGirls

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

If you're looking for some great ways to keep your kids entertained and educated this summer, here are some ideas courtesy of the PBS show SciGirls. Visit the site for more fun and games!

Insulating Dough

Mix 3 T oil with 1 c flour and 1/2 c sugar. Mix in 1 T deionized or distilled water and stir. Add deionized/distilled water 1 T at a time until the mixture is dough-like. Remove from the bowl and knead in additional flour until the desired consistency is reached.

Conductive Dough

Mix 1 c flour, 1 c water, 1/4 c salt, 3 T cream of tartar, and 1 T vegetable oil. Add food color to help differentiate between the doughs. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously utnilt he mixture begins to boil and get chunky. Stir until a ball forms in the center of the pot, and then remove from heat. Allow dough to cool, then mix flour into the dough until firm but moldable.

Dough will keep in an airtight container for 3 weeks.

Make one batch of each, then experimented with a 9V battery, a connector and some LED light bulbs to make creations that light up!

For younger kids, try chromatography art. Color a tissue or coffee filter with markers. Accordion fold the tissue and hold together with a pipe cleaner to make a flower, or pinch the coffee filter with a clothespin to make a butterfly. Spritz with water. Then talk about the ink separation that occurs when the dried ink gets wet again.

Visit SciGirls Connect to learn about how you can encourage girls in science and more activities you can do at home.