Summertime Crockpot Cooking - Smart and Healthy

Don't tuck your trusty crockpot away in a bottom cabinet or the pantry just because the weather is getting warmer. It's a practical and healthy cooking alternative for summertime, too.

  • No one likes to cook over a hot stove in the summer, but many people prefer a warm meal for dinner. The crockpot solves the overheated kitchen problem, as there's no need to turn on heat-generating oven or burners. All cooking heat is isolated to one small appliance on your kitchen countertop.
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Summertime Crockpot Cooking - Smart and Healthy

Summertime Crockpot CookingDon't tuck your trusty crockpot away in a bottom cabinet or the pantry just because the weather is getting warmer. It's a practical and healthy cooking alternative for summertime, too.

  • No one likes to cook over a hot stove in the summer, but many people prefer a warm meal for dinner. The crockpot solves the overheated kitchen problem, as there's no need to turn on heat-generating oven or burners. All cooking heat is isolated to one small appliance on your kitchen countertop.
  • The crockpot also allows you to take advantage of the bounty of fresh vegetables that summertime offers. Main dishes, side dishes, casseroles, soups and more are perfect for cooking in the crockpot and a brilliant way to get your daily quota of vitamins and nutrients.
  • A crockpot meal paired with a crisp, cool salad is perfect for a taste tempting summer dinner menu. Use the crockpot to prepare tasty chillable summer soups. Guests coming for a barbecue in the evening? Start a tasty crockpot side dish earlier in the day. You can even use your crockpot to make delicious desserts!
  • Would you rather be outside having some fun in the sun? Save time by keeping prep time and cleanup to a minimum using your crockpot - no multiple pots and pans throwing heat on the stove top, just gather your fresh ingredients and place them in the pot, put the lid on and walk away for a few hours. What could be simpler.

Now begin planning all the fun things you can do with the time that you saved in the kitchen this summer. You can visit The Summer Crockpot at for more than 100 summertime recipe ideas, and dozens of other great crockpot-oriented sites abound. Enjoy!

"Speaking of Healthcare" is the official blog of Assured Healthcare Staffing.  Please LIKE us on Facebook to receive health and wellness tips and more!  Article by Kim Washetas, contributing writer and enthusiastic whole health advocate.

Better Breathing for Better Health


With the confusing myriad of exercise programs out there, people often have difficulty choosing -- and sticking to -- a healthy physical regimen.  It's not all about burning up the calories, either.  The reason aerobic exercise is good for us is because it enables us to take in more oxygen, expel carbon dioxide and give that muscle known as our heart a healthy workout. Do you know that you can also begin improving your health by simply changing the way you breathe throughout the day?   When we breathe too shallowly, which many of us do, over time our chest and lung tissue can become constricted.  This reduces the flow of oxygen to all our tissues.  Consciously practicing deep, rhythmic breathing throughout the day has a number of benefits, including expansion of the diaphragm, the cone-shaped muscle beneath our lungs.  It also expands the air pockets in our lungs, which triggers a relaxation response in our bodies.

But it's not just about the lungs and the heart.  When we breathe our circulatory system carries oxygen and nutrients throughout our body; the lymphatic system completes the equation by eliminating what we don't need.  Deep, regular breathing stimulates and enhances the functioning of our lymphatic system, which in turn carries away toxins, dead blood cells and other matter that our body no longer requires.

Start being healthier and more relaxed right now.  Before you get up from your chair, take a few moments to sit up straight.  Breathe in deeply, expanding your chest and filling your lungs with air.  Slowly exhale.  Repeat three or four times.  You've just taken a great first step toward better health!

Article by Kim Washetas, contributing writer and enthusiastic whole health advocate.

Space Clearing for Better Health - 4 Starter Tips


If you constantly feel disorganized, out of time and overwhelmed, you are probably among the many of us who need some space clearing and de-cluttering at home or work.  Living and working surrounded by unorganized "stuff" can be fuel for the fire of unhealthy stress.  And who needs more stress and anxiety?  Begin by clearing just a counter space, storage area or cluttered corner.  It will generate a great feeling of accomplishment and energize you.  Here a four simple tips to get started: Start small. When a task seems daunting -- like your office, the garage at home or the big closet in the hall -- break it down into manageable chunks.  Set a time limit, schedule it and stick to it.  Book 30 minutes after lunch on Monday to clear your desktop; do the same on Wednesday and Friday, 30 minutes each for the main file drawer, then the storage box in the corner.  Set a manageable pace to finish the room - this stuff's not going anywhere and every bit of headway you make will lighten your load.

Carry something away. Whenever you leave a room, be it your office, your kitchen or the family rec room, take something with you and put it where it really belongs or get rid of it.  Keep it simple:  just one item, every time you leave a room, and you'll be seeing a difference in a matter of days.

Trash junk mail - every day.  Take a quick look, and if it's not something you feel compelled to even open and skim, don't set it aside for later.  Shred it or tear it up, and into the recycle bin it goes.  You may also want to check out options for reducing junk mail by visiting Direct Mail's Facebook page for information  on its "National Do Not Mail List."

Make a Donate box. Pick a box of manageable size and keep it near the exit door.  Whenever you come across something useable and in good repair that you don't need anymore, put it in the box.  Each time the box gets reasonably full (meaning you can still easily carry it), put it in the car and drop it off the next time you go out.  As your de-cluttering becomes habit, you'll become a familiar face at the Goodwill and other local charities.

Give yourself three weeks of using these simple starter tips (they say that's how long it takes to make habits stick), then take a look around and enjoy your cleared space and reduced stress level!

Article by Kim Washetas, contributing writer, enthusiastic whole health advocate - and recovering clutterer.

Sunburn and Heatstroke - Dangers to Avoid


It's a beautiful summer morning and you head to the beach. By mid-afternoon you're on your way to the ER. What went wrong?

Odds are, you thought the sun was your friend. But too much of a good thing can make you sick.

The most common sun-related problem is sunburn. Fortunately the risk of sunburn often chases us inside before we suffer an even worse fate. Sunburn is indeed a burn, caused by the ultraviolet rays of the sun, both UVB and UVA. The superficial layers of your skin are actually cooked and start leaking fluid, like a sizzling steak. Once the damage is done there is no medical cure except to allow your body to heal itself. Pain medications and cool compresses may relieve the discomfort, but do not speed healing. Do yourself a favor and leave your sunburn alone. You don't want scarring from peeling a deep sunburn, or infection from opening the blisters.

Certainly prevention is the best answer. Avoid direct exposure to the sun between 10 and 4 p.m. Always use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, and apply it to all sun-exposed areas a good half hour before exposure. Even sunscreens that claim to be water resistant should be reapplied every few hours after sweating or swimming.

When the core of your body becomes overheated, not just the skin, the danger becomes much greater. The body core can become overheated due to direct sun exposure on a hot day, or other high temperature environments, especially when physical activity is involved. Below 80 degrees Fahrenheit this rarely happens. Above 130 degrees F the danger is extreme. Between 80 and 130 degrees the danger rises dramatically.

The body becomes overheated from a combination of internal heat production (as in fever) and external heat. In order to maintain a normal body temperature the body must be able to get rid of excess body heat. Think of your car engine, for example. If the fan goes bad or the water leaks out, it will overheat. Similarly, if the body cannot be cooled through a combination of evaporation (sweating), convection (a cool breeze), conduction (cold packs or cool water, or radiation, it, too, will become overheated.

A car that overheats will start sputtering and steaming, and eventually quits working. So will your body. The first symptom you are likely to experience is heat cramps, which generally occur in the calf muscles or abdominal muscles. Stretching your muscles before exercise and keeping yourself hydrated with a sports drink such as Gatorade can help prevent heat cramps. If they do occur, stop exercise, cool your body, and if you haven't done so already, drink some Gatorade.

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses too much water and/or sodium. Core body temperature is usually between 100.4 and 104 degrees F. Again, an adequate intake of sports drinks can help prevent heat exhaustion. In addition to heat cramps, you may experience light-headedness, confusion, headache, nausea, vomiting, and lack of urination. For milder symptoms, immediate cooling with fans or water is helpful. However for severe symptoms, especially disorientation, other mental symptoms, or a rapid heart rate, you should seek immediate medical attention, where a doctor can check your electrolytes and provide the proper balance of replacement fluids through an I.V.

The worst case scenario is heat stroke (sun stroke, if due to the sun). Heat stroke can be deadly, especially if treatment is delayed. At an internal temperature of 104 or above the internal organs stop functioning properly. Therefore, heat stroke is a medical emergency - call 911 immediately.

Symptoms of heat stroke can occur even when a person is not sweating. Confusion is common, which may delay recognition of the problem, especially in the elderly. Persons suffering from heat stroke should be moved to a shady area and excess clothing should be removed. A heat stroke victim should be doused with water and/or fanned, and ice packs should be applied to the armpits, groin, and neck until professional help arrives.

In summary, avoiding hot environments and keeping well-hydrated are the answer to preventing most heat and sun related problems. Don't plan to run a marathon on a hot summer day, especially if you are not conditioned to the heat. Keep an eye on granny, in particular if her home is not air-conditioned. Don't leave your children or pets in the car where the sun can bake them. Preventing the problem in the first place is the key to avoiding life-threatening illness.

For practical advice on affordable health care visit: Cynthia J. Koelker MD is a family physician of over twenty years, and holds degrees from MIT, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the University of Akron. She is the author of "101 Ways to Save Money on Healthcare."  Article Source:

8 Healthy Summer Snack Ideas for the Young and Old

Summer is here and in most places school is out. Keeping our children on a good eating pattern is harder in the summer as most do not keep the same schedule as winter. Here are a few snack ideas to keep them healthy and on track with their healthy eating habits.

  1. Peel a ripe banana and cut it in two inch pieces. Roll each piece in vanilla yogurt, crushed dry cereal and freeze. This is also a good way to put use to the last stray bites of cereal in the box. Mixing different cereals can be fun also.
  2. Mix peanut butter and lightly crushed corn flakes in a bowl. Make quarter size balls with the mixture then roll in crushed nuts. Walnuts or pecans work best. Store left overs in an air tight container. Use within 3 days.
  3. Fresh fruits [apples of any kind] and vegetables [celery or carrots] can be spread with peanut butter to make an appealing snack.  Most children will try something if it is pleasing to their eye.
  4. Make kabobs using a pretzel stick. Push a cube of cheese, pineapple, apples or grapes on the pretzel and watch the snacks disappear.
  5. Add some low fat shredded cheese to a corn tortilla, roll it up and heat for 20 seconds in a microwave. Use a bowl of salsa for a dipping sauce.
  6. Toast a frozen whole grain waffle, spread a heaping tablespoon of vanilla yogurt over the top, then add a few strawberries. You will have happy children.
  7. Blend a tablespoon of honey in 3/4 cup of small curd cottage cheese. You will have a great tasting dip for active children. It can be used with fruits or vegetables.
  8. Baked corn chips and a mild homemade salsa will keep them coming back for more.

Quick Salsa Recipe 1 large tomato, cored and diced 1 8-10 inch celery stalk, ribbed and sliced thin 1 medium red onion, chopped small 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. If the mixture is dry add one teaspoon of virgin olive oil and two tablespoons of vegetable juice. That will give it enough moisture to be dipable and add an extra little kick to the taste.

Lead your children by your example. If they see you eating these healthy snacks, so will they.


Faylee James is a Life Coach/Writer/Speaker from Northeast Tennessee, who has an above average interest in people, cooking and living life to the fullest. Her website is in honor of her mother who passed away recently. For more recipes and thoughts, visit her website or blog at Article Source: Article Source:

Chicken Soup is Good for Body and Soul

Though spring is officially here, the unseasonable weather we're having recently may contribute to the lingering of the viruses that more typically cause wintertime's sneezes, sniffles and colds.  There are a number of ways to help speed them on their way. Foods high in Vitamin C are great  for helping to fight off a virus and chicken soup is also high on the list. It actually does help - it's a comfort food that's good for the soul and for making you feel better when you have a cold. It also contains nourishment in the form of protein and vegetables to fuel your body's immune system and replenish your resources.

Plenty of fluids (water is first on the list, and orange juice and green or herbal teas are also good choices) help to thin secretions and make them easier to expel.  If you're experiencing fever as well, it's very important to drink large amounts of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.

Regardless of whether you have a cold or a fever, rest is the order of the day until it has run it's course - and make sure you wash your hands frequently to keep germs from spreading.

Copyright © Christine Hammerlund – 2011. Christine Hammerlund is a registered nurse and the owner of Assured Healthcare, a healthcare staffing service headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois.

Hiccups Making You Crazy? Try These Tricks.

Most cases of hiccups are generally believed to be a reflex action of your body, which can be caused when the vagus nerve (which runs from the brain to the abdomen) or one of its branches is irritated. If you regularly suffer from hiccups (and they always seem to manifest when you least expect them), you may have been told you can cure them by swallowing sugar. Some people also swear by the stick-your-fingers-in-your-ears technique. Believe it or not, some of these seemingly goofy "cures" can prove to be helpful, and here are some of the reasons why they may work:

Taking a spoonful of sugar overloads the nerve endings in the mouth and sticking your fingers into your ears stimulates the vagus nerve, which can help to stop the hiccups. There are several other tricks that you can try.

Disrupting the hiccups cycle is sometimes effective, so if you are startled the element of surprise could serve the purpose; gulping water can also interrupt the cycle of hiccups. Sticking out your tongue and pulling on it could also be effective. A cotton swab to the roof of your mouth or having someone tickle you are two ideas that may also help.

Another treatment variation includes holding your breath for as long as possible or breathing into a paper bag. This increases the of level carbon dioxide in your bloodstream and may make the body "forget" the hiccups.

Two final tips: If you are a fast eater, slow down and don't overload your stomach. Avoiding overly spicy foods and excess alcohol can also reduce the incidence of hiccups.

If you suffer regularly from hiccups or are having a prolonged bout, consult a healthcare professional to make sure there are not more serious underlying issues causing the problem.

Copyright © Christine Hammerlund – 2011. Christine Hammerlund is a registered nurse and the owner of Assured Healthcare, a healthcare staffing service headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois.