5 Habits for Healthy Ageing

Woman's Eye

Ageing is one of those things we are all doing, but no one wants to talk about. Of course ageing is better than the alternative, so how can we find a healthier, happier way to grow older? There are some proven habits you can adopt to encourage health, mobility and vigor deep into your older years. 

1. Stay Active

Research shows that staying active can help us stay healthier as we age. Keeping our body moving is important for our muscles and joints, but also for our minds. Studies have shown that regular physical exercise cuts your chances of developing Alzheimer's disease by up to 50 percent. And while keeping our mind sharp, it also helps us fight weight gain and keeps our muscles and joints moving and lubricated. It can be as simple as going for a daily walk, but cardio exercise is key in keeping our bodies young. Stretching exercises like yoga are also helpful in keeping the body flexible. If you make physical activity part of your daily routine, you will keep that momentum going as you move into older age. 

Avocado Toast

2. Eat Healthy

It’s no big surprise that eating healthy is another key in ageing healthy. It makes sense that the more nutrients we feed our body, the easier it is to stay at our optimal health. Many of the nutrients found in green leafy vegetables, nuts and fruits are necessary for body functions that help us age healthy, like our immune system and our eyesight. A diet of whole foods helps us fight off disease and decreases our chances of long-term conditions like chronic inflammation. Skipping processed foods is important because eating less junk means we consume less harmful chemicals. Many additives used in processed foods (even sugar!) erode our health over time. 

3. Protect Your Skin

Unfortunately, as we age, our skin gets thinner and looses elasticity and smoothness. Wounds tend to heal slower, and dark spots can start to form. That’s why it’s important to protect our skin from any additional damage. Harmful UV rays from prolonged sun exposure is a major factor in skin ageing. Making sunscreen and moisturizer part of your daily routine is a great way to protect yourself from unnecessary skin damage due to sun exposure. Smoking cigarettes also exposes you to harmful chemicals that can make your skin look older than it is. Quitting smoking can be a great step towards protecting your skin in the long term. 

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4. Stay Social

Getting engaged in your community and staying social are also great ways to help you age healthier. Whether visiting with friends at the coffee house, or taking the grand kids to the park, staying social is a vital part of keeping the brain active and sharp. Starting new hobbies or taking some new classes can be a great way to meet new people and learning new skills. Volunteering is also a great way to get involved in your community and earn some good karma while you’re at it. The more you get out of the house, the easier it is to stay current with trends and styles as well. Updating your style is always a great way to look and feel younger!

Woman Sleeping

5. Get Enough Rest

Getting enough sleep is another important way to age healthy. Stress and lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your system over the long term, and can really speed up the physical signs of ageing. Building a  relaxation routine into a busy life can make a big difference in combating stress. Establishing a good sleep routine without the distraction of electronics can also help calm the mind and find rest. As we age, our bodies generally need less sleep, but maintaining a good sleep schedule of 7-9 hours a night is still key in healthy ageing. Our bodies need this time to regenerate and recuperate from our busy lives. Without this critical down-time, your body quickly starts to show increased signs of ageing.

Are You Making Your Chronic Inflammation Worse?

XRay of knees

A few years ago, I found out that some of the inexplicable aches and pains I was always feeling in my body were caused by chronic inflammation. After many months of constantly taking pain killers and not really knowing what to do about it, I also started to hear about other conditions and diseases that long-term inflammation can actually cause in the body. The next time I reached for that bottle of pain killers I really had to wonder if I was ignoring a problem that I really needed to fix. I wanted to find out what was going on and became determined to find a natural way to heal my chronic inflammation.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is your immune system’s natural response to infection and injury. Your body increases blood flow to the area in order to deliver more healing and “invader-fighting” agents to the area. This can temporarily make the area more swollen, red and warm because the body is bringing more of the components needed to heal the wound and fight off germs. Without this process, the tissue would not get enough healing and protective agents, and the wound would not heal properly and get infected more easily. In this way, inflammation saves us from having major complications from cuts or injuries because it keeps infection from forming and heals the skin.

Red Blood Cells

Normal Inflammation

Normally, the inflammatory response is a relatively short process of a few hours or days (depending on the size of the wound and the surrounding conditions). Once the body has sent more healing and protecting agents, the skin is repaired and the wound closes. The redness, swelling and tenderness usually go away soon after the process is complete.This is the acute immune response that reacts to anything from a mosquito bite to a broken bone. While localized swelling, redness and tenderness may be painful, they are a necessary side effect of the body’s healing response.

Long-term Inflammation

Yet in some cases like my own, this acute immune response went rogue. I was having persistent inflammation that lingered without truly repairing anything. This is called chronic inflammation, and it can persist for months or even years. It can become a very painful and debilitating condition all in itself. Some days I felt like I was “rusting” when I tried to walk up the stairs! The swelling can have a wide variety of effects on the body, including problems with digestion, cognitive function and joint mobility. As more research is being done, links have also been established between chronic inflammation and many diseases such as

  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Daibetes
  • Arthritis
  • Depression and/or Anxiety
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Alzheimer's disease

It is becoming ever more clear that long term inflammation can be quite destructive in the body.

Fast Food

Foods that Cause Inflammation and Why

There are several factors that can contribute to chronic inflammation, including long term exposure to irritants like certain foods or chemicals, autoimmune disease, and underlying infection in the body. Once major disease or infection have been ruled out as a cause, I found that your diet is the best place to start looking for answers!
It turns out that overly processed, greasy and sugary foods can cause the body to release inflammatory messengers called cytokines. These messengers will encourage the body to build inflammation without a real injury or infection. Over time, this can turn into chronic inflammation. Studies have shown that changing what you eat can be an effective way to heal chronic inflammation and start to correct the body’s immune response. There are several foods which can cause chronic inflammation in the body:

  • Red meat like burgers and steak
  • Sugary drinks or foods like sodas or chocolate bars
  • Fried foods like fries or doughnuts
  • Refined carbohydrates like breads and pastries made of white flour
  • Margarine, shortening or lard
  • Processed snacks and treats like chips, cookies or crackers

Unfortunately, these culprits seem to be repeat offenders when it comes to being bad for our health. Many nutritionists have already had these foods on their “naughty” list for years. I know I was guilty of indulging in more than just a few!

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Foods that Heal Inflammation

The good news is that many of the foods that have anti-inflammatory properties are also dense in nutrients and have many other positive side effects on your health. These rock-star foods include:

  • Spices high in polyphenols and antioxidants like turmeric and clove
  • Green Leafy Vegetables like spinach, kale and chard
  • Olive oil (not mixed with other oils)
  • Tomatoes
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Fruits and berries like blueberries, cherries and oranges

The foods on this list are high in natural antioxidants and polyphenols, which together, act in the body to reduce inflammation and protect the tissue of the body. This means that over time, these compounds can help heal chronic inflammation and protect the body from further damage.

Turmeric

Targeting Inflammation with Supplements

I found that while changing my diet was a vital part of finally combating my chronic inflammation, I could only eat so much kale in a day! In order to really target my inflammation in a natural way, I started using a concentrated form that is high in polyphenols to kickstart my healing process fast. Research shows that one superstar supplement can help combat oxidative and inflammatory conditions like chronic inflammation, chronic pain, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, hyperlipidemia and more.

This superfood is Turmeric. It’s a yellow spice often used in Asian cooking, and it happens to be an extremely high source of the polyphenol curcumin. This active ingredient has been shown to target the inflammatory response in the body and help reverse chronic inflammation. Because it can be easily concentrated into supplement form, it was finally easy to get enough active ingredient to target my chronic inflammation in a natural way!

Are Multivitamins Necessary? The Answer Will Surprise You

Vitamins

If you’ve neared or passed the dreaded age of 40 like me, you probably have friends or family members that insist you take a multivitamin. After all, according to the commercials on TV, everyone over 40 absolutely NEEDS a multivitamin to be healthy, right? Are multivitamins really as important as we’re told? Today, I decided to slap on my investigative reporter hat and share the shocking truth about multivitamins.
To tell you the truth, even I was surprised by the answer. It turns out that recent studies show that taking multivitamins is a complete waste of time for most people. Those huge pills don’t magically protect you against heart problems at all. Why not?

Are Most Multivitamins Effective?

Professional nutritionists have known these pills are a waste of money for a long time. That’s why you’ll rarely see a nutrition expert recommending mega-humongous multivitamins with 20+ different vitamins and minerals. I found three reasons why those pills don’t work:

  • You get many vitamins from a healthy diet: If you’re already getting enough vitamin A, C, D, E, K and other essential nutrients from a healthy diet, taking more is overkill. Once your immune system has plenty of vitamin C, for example, another 300% of the daily value isn’t going to make you any healthier.
  • Multivitamins often have nutrient absorption issues: Just slapping together a bunch of vitamins doesn’t mean your body can actually use them. The digestive system usually needs help transforming vitamins into useful compounds. Only high-quality supplements have special ingredients designed to boost bio-availability.
  • Some multivitamin makers are dishonest: The FDA doesn’t investigate multivitamin makers, so some of these companies lie about the amount of vitamins in their products. To avoid this problem, you have to find a supplement maker you trust, preferably one that certifies qualify using an independent testing lab.

The good news is that, for the most part, multivitamins seem safe. Getting too much of healthy vitamins (except for vitamin E and beta carotene) won’t hurt you. It just won’t help much either.

Green Smoothie

Are Multivitamins and Nutritional Supplements the Same?

I should explain that when I talk about multivitamins, I mean those all-in-one pills packed with every vitamin known to man. I’m NOT referring to nutritional supplements, which are very different. Many studies show that taking supplements CAN provide health benefits, and really big ones.

Why are supplements different from multivitamins? Because they target specific vitamins, minerals, nutrients and healthy compounds that you personally are missing. Nutritional supplements combine natural ingredients that alleviate certain health problems, including pain, poor mental focus, low energy, depression, elevated blood sugar and high cholesterol.

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Are Nutritional Supplements Beneficial?

If you have a health problem you want to deal with naturally, I absolutely recommend trying a high-quality supplement designed for it. For example, turmeric, ginger, garlic, Omega-3 fatty acids and black pepper can be very effective at fighting inflammation.
Most people don’t need multivitamins. But almost everyone needs to get more of certain nutrients. Older adults usually need extra vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D. People following a vegan or vegetarian diet have to get B12 and Omega-3 fatty acids from supplements, too.
If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try adding some magnesium, melatonin, Valerian root and tryptophan to your diet with a supplement. Just from personal experience I can tell you it works wonders. Valerian root helped me sleep like a baby when I had problems with stress headaches a few years ago.

Healthy Vegetables and Fruit

Are Natural Foods a Great Source of Most Vitamins?

You can get many wonderful benefits from planning healthy meals. If you want to enjoy natural stress relief, munch on lots of green leafy veggies (folate), salmon (Omega-3 fatty acids), berries (antioxidants), Greek yogurt (probiotics) and dark chocolate (tryptophan). However, if you know you’re missing certain nutrients due to a busy schedule, there’s nothing wrong with taking a natural supplement containing those nutrients.

Does Skipping Meals Really Help You Lose Weight?

Empty Plate

Maintaining a healthy weight is about more than just your appearance. Being overweight or obese is associated with a wide range of health issues, including a higher risk of developing heart disease, certain types of cancers, type 2 diabetes, and osteoarthritis. In an attempt to control your weight, you may be enticed to skip meals to reduce your daily caloric intake. However, skipping meals might not be the best option when it comes to your weight loss journey.

Exhausted Woman

What Happens to Your Body When You Skip Meals

The idea is pretty simple; taking in fewer calories than you burn allows you to drop pounds. In this respect, skipping meals (which is sometimes referred to as intermittent fasting) just makes good sense. Eating less means fewer calories, which in turn means lower weight. Unfortunately, there are downsides to this practice, some of which can have a negative impact on your health:

  • Decreased Energy - When you go without food, you're likely to experience decreased energy, sluggishness, and fatigue. Healthy, wholesome foods (including lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) are the best sources of fuel since they're not associated with the crash and burn of eating sugar-packed goodies or consuming cup after cup of coffee.
  • Low Blood Sugar - Hypoglycemia (AKA low blood sugar) is often associated with diabetes. This condition can also occur when a person goes many hours without eating, which causes dizziness, headache, blurred vision, problems concentrating, and many other ill-effects. Low blood sugar can even affect your mood. That tell-tale feeling of anger and irritation that arises within a few hours of your last meal shows that your brain is being deprived of an essential source of sustenance (i.e. glucose).
  • A Greater Risk of Overeating - At some point, your body will be crying out for food after many hours of fasting. It's a lot harder to make smart food choices in this state, as intense cravings are likely to emerge. Often, these cravings involve the very worst foods available, such as those containing a lot of sugar and fat. If you have a hard time saying no to these foods under normal circumstances, imagine how hard it will be to abstain when you're racked with hunger pains.
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Healthy Alternatives to Meal Skipping

The ultimate goal of any lifestyle changes you make should be to improve your health and well-being. Instead of meal skipping in an effort to lose weight, focus on eating wholesome meals three or more times a day in reasonable portions. When it comes to snacking, look for items low in calories but high in nutritional content. For example, nuts contain healthy fats as well as a good portion of protein. Even better, nuts contain a lot of fiber, which ensures you feel full after snacking.
Greek yogurt is another great selection for healthy snacking. Like nuts, Greek yogurt contains plenty of protein. It's also a great source of calcium, which is essential for healthy bones and teeth. For even greater benefits, add berries or other fruit to your Greek yogurt.
If you're a fan of salty snacks like potato chips, consider incorporating kale chips into your diet routine. Kale is a popular superfood brimming with antioxidants, which prevent damage on a cellular level. Kale is also a great source of fiber, as well as being rich in vitamin C.

Almonds in Bowl

Keeping Your Dog Healthy after the Quarantine for a Happy and Long Relationship

Dog in car

Who doesn't love their little fur baby? Dogs are the best, but keeping them healthy is crucial to sustaining a long-lasting bond. While the current pandemic has made it easy to spend time with your best friend indoors, what happens now that things are reopening? How do you keep your furry companion happy and healthy? Dog's can experience anxiety and depression, just like people, so making sure they are OK is a significant concern for many pet parents, especially as the world returns to normal. To make sure your favorite pooch stays happy and healthy, focus on five key lifestyle areas.

1. Diet

A dog's diet is not the same as a human diet. Dogs are carnivores, which means they need meat in their food. Granted, people feed their pets vegan and vegetarian diets, but to keep your pup as healthy as possible, mimic what they would eat naturally. If you want to switch to a specialty diet, talk to a veterinarian first, making sure your dog receives all the essential nutrients they need to live a healthy life.

Dog running

2. Socialization

Dogs are social creatures, and they absolutely love to be around other dogs. However, they need to learn how to be around other pooches first. When a dog is a puppy, take them around all kinds of dogs, so they learn about natural behaviors. There are several ways to socialize your pup.

  • Dog Parks
  • Walks
  • Playdates

Proper socialization ensures that your pup is comfortable around other animals and people. During walks, you are also familiarizing the animal with the sites and sounds of the city, their habitat. It's a great time to get back out there with your pup, but make sure your leash is long enough to help you keep that 6 foot distance from other owners.

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3. Training and Interactive Play

Dogs can get bored. Unfortunately, when your pup gets bored, they can become restless and misbehave. Some common misbehaviors include chewing, barking, aggression and other nuisance habits. The best way to cure boredom is with interactive play and daily training. You can buy and make toys and games, like puzzle balls, that will keep your dog busy for hours. Beyond toys, train your dog every day. Helping your furry friend learn new tricks through repetitive practice and commands will strengthen your bond and keep their brains healthy.

4. Outdoor Activities

Think about how bored and depressed you can get in the cold winter months when you are stuck inside. The sun does wonders for energy and health. Dogs need time outside. They need to breathe the fresh air and feel the sun against their backs. Honestly, most people need fresh air, too, especially now.

Sleeping Dog

5. Vet Visits

The primary way to ensure that your dog remains healthy for a long, carefree life is to commit to routine veterinary visits. According to Dr. Barry Kipperman, a veterinarian working with PETA, dogs under 10 years of age need to go to the vet at least once per year, and senior dogs over 10 should go twice or every six months. However, depending on any underlying conditions your dog may have, you may need to go more frequently. Talk to a veterinary professional to discuss specifics.
Pets, especially dogs, offer incredible companionship during uncertain times, but they are also excellent allies even when all is right with the world. It is only fair that dog owners reciprocate affection by providing a well-balanced life, including lots of cuddles, but don't forget about you in the animal health equation. Your dog depends on you and loves you, so while you may pour your heart and soul into creating a beautiful life for your furry buddy, make sure you are prioritizing yourself. You need to stay happy and healthy to keep your dog happy and healthy, so take the time to understand your own diet and needs.

I Tried Keto for 30 Days and Discovered This Amazing Secret!

Keto Bowls

To me, there’s nothing better than discovering natural health secrets that can make us working moms feel amazing. So, I decided to try the keto diet for 30 days. Does it really work? Here’s what happened to me.

How Much Weight Did I Lose?

I know this is what you’re dying to know, so let’s get this question out of the way first. Is keto as thrilling for weight loss as they say? I have to admit I was a little skeptical of the “lose 10 pounds in a week” claims. But, that’s exactly what happened to me!
Well, not exactly 10 pounds. I lost 8 pounds in my first week on keto. Over the next three weeks, my waistline kept dropping more and more. By the end of the month I had burned a stunning 15 pounds!
You’re looking at the happy owner of a size 12 dress size. I’m so proud! My goal is to hit a size 10 in another month or so. I have this sexy size-10 red dress that I’ve been saving in the back of my closet (and have since moved to the front of the closet to stay motivated) that I’m dying to slip into for ladies’ night.

What Are My New Favorite Keto Recipes?

Bacon

How did I manage to slash carbs, balance my protein intake and keep up with my calories? A LOT of bacon. Now, let me confess that I really had NO problem getting into that. Don’t tell anyone, but I love bacon, cheese and avocados, so that part was pretty easy!

Here are a few of my new favorite recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner:

  • Breakfast: I have two breakfast favorites. One is keto granola with sesame seeds, coconut oil and flakes, chia seeds, almonds and cinnamon. It’s just toasty and yummy to the extreme. I also have a soft spot for bacon and egg cups with jalapeno slices, cheddar cheese, avocado and sour cream.

  • Lunch: My favorite option for a tasty lunch are spicy shrimp lettuce wraps (I eat a LOT of lettuce wraps for lunch). They have tasty shrimp with chipotle flakes, hot sauce, celery, blue cheese and romaine lettuce.

  • Dinner: For dinner, I try to plan meals that are easy to adapt to my kids. For example, keto mac’ and cheese basically replaces the macaroni with cauliflower and adds bacon on top. So, I make half a dish with the pasta noodles for them, and the other half with cauliflower for me.

If I need a shot of energy when I’m working, smoothies are awesome. My fave is a coconut milk smoothie with mint leaves and blackberries.

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What About the Keto Flu?

I had heard a lot about the dreaded “keto flu” that makes you feel lethargic, tired and irritable. But I also found some tips from other keto warrior women like me. They recommended drinking lots of water and adding extra sodium and potassium (electrolytes) to my diet. I did that and didn’t notice any big energy or mood problems at all.

Keto Breakfast

What Are My Biggest Takeaways and Recommendations?

I think the biggest thing that has helped me to get so many benefits from keto is that I did my research before starting. I learned about the biggest obstacles, made my grocery list, planned my meals and went to town. That’s what I would recommend for everyone interested in keto.

Recharge Your Batteries With These 5 Safe Outdoor Activities During COVID-19

Great Outdoors

So, here’s a fun fact I discovered: “Quarantining” is what someone who is contagious does to avoid getting other people sick with COVID-19. What the rest of us are doing is called “sheltering in place.”
Unless you’re actually sick, there’s no reason to completely seal yourself inside the home. It’s perfectly possible to practice social distancing and still get some fresh air (not to mention let your kids burn off some of their built-up energy before they drive you insane). Let me share a few of my favorite outdoor activities in this age of “sheltering in place.”

1. Eat Dinner Outside As a Family

If you have a nice backyard, you can actually eat ALL of your meals outside. This is what my family has started to do, and I can’t believe the difference it makes. For 30 minutes, we all feel FREE.
As we’re laughing and eating delicious food and talking, I keep think to myself, “I'm so blessed.” These positive experiences give me the energy to keep going. Every day, we have memorable family moments where it’s like the coronavirus doesn’t even exist.

Eating outside

2. Organize a Lawn Games Tournament

Now’s the perfect time to show your family members why you’re the undefeated champion of bocce, cornhole, badminton, volleyball or cricket. These outside activities are healthier for you than watching back-to-back movies on TV. What if your family isn’t big on competitions? Just tossing a baseball, football or Frisbee around keeps kids entertained and does your heart good.

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3. Enjoy Breakfast on the Patio

Don’t forget to take some time for yourself, too. Getting some peace and quiet is important for moms. It lets us recharge our batteries. Treat yourself to a calming cup of coffee or tea, munch on some homemade (healthy) scones, eat some fruit and watch the beautiful sunrise in complete serenity. Our house has some birds that wake up as early as I do, and hearing their little chirps is like healing for my soul.

4. Do Some Gardening

Working with plants can be an amazing stress reliever. Even better, it gives people who are temporarily out of work a sense of purpose. Instead of feeling “lost,” you can have real satisfaction with this rewarding hobby. By the way, if bending over makes your back hurt, you can always get a gardening table that lets you care for your plants standing up.

5. Go for a Walk (Social-Distancing Style)

Family Walking

Some states have declared public places such as parks and beaches off limits. Others let people walk around as long as they stick to social distancing. If it’s allowed in your area, you may want to don your mask, grab a small bottle of antiseptic gel and slide on your walking shoes.
Here are a few things to remember:

  • Stay at least 6–10 feet away from other people
  • Avoid any crowded areas
  • Wash your hands thoroughly when you get home
  • Don’t touch your face or your mask
  • Don’t touch things at the park — benches, fountains or handles
  • Don’t use public restrooms if possible

Blue skies, fresh air and gorgeous hills have a calming effect on your emotions. And the less stressed you are, the better your immune system works! Try to come up with your own outdoor adventures for the backyard. Picnics, fashion shows and tenting under the stars are all great possibilities.

5 Delicious Gluten-Free Meals

Gluten free recipes

Gluten-free eating eliminates foods that contain wheat, rye and barley. These grains contain a protein called gluten, which can cause a host of symptoms in people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Others find that getting rid of gluten helps with digestive symptoms, weight loss, fatigue, headaches and depression. Whatever your reason for exploring a gluten-free lifestyle, get started with these five inspired meal ideas.

Grilled Chicken With Pineapple

Grilled Chicken

This simple meal offers quick clean-up with the help of foil packets. You'll need:

  • 20-ounce can of pineapple chunks
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 bell peppers
  • Salt to taste

First, combine the juice from the canned pineapple with the soy sauce and brown sugar. Set the mixture aside and cut the chicken and pineapple into 2-inch cubes. Divide the ingredients among four sheets of tin foil and add salt if desired. Fold up the edges to make a secure seal and pop the packets on the grill. Cook at six minutes on medium heat with the grill covered, then flip and cook uncovered for an additional 12 minutes. Switch up this versatile dish with your favorite veggies.

Mahi-Mahi With Lemon Butter

Mahi mahi

Take a trip to the islands with succulent grilled fish. Ingredients include:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Four 4-ounce mahi-mahi filets, or substitute another firm white fish such as halibut
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 1 lemon juiced and zested
  • Fresh parsley to taste
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In a large pan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Season the fish with salt and pepper and cook for four to five minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for another four to five minutes until it flakes easily with a fork. Remove the fish and add the other tablespoon of olive oil. Then, saute the asparagus for four to five minutes. Remove the veggies and add the last tablespoon of butter. Let it melt, then saute garlic and red pepper for one minute. Finally, add lemon slices, lemon juice and parsley to complete the sauce, which you can use to top the mahi and asparagus for a restaurant-quality meal.

Salsa Chicken Con Queso With Rice

Salsa con queso chicken

This five-ingredient recipe will be a winner with the whole family. You'll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favorite brand of gluten-free salsa (or make your own!)
  • 1 cup long-grained rice
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts cut into chunks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ounces shredded pepper jack or Monterey jack cheese

In a 3-quart saucepan with a tight lid, cook the broth, salsa and rice on high heat, uncovered. When the mixture begins to boil, add the chicken chunks, which you can season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture come back to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 12 minutes, then take off the heat and let stand for five minutes before fluffing the rice, stirring in the cheese and serving.

Avocado Tuna Salad

Sliced Avocado

This lunch idea is a breeze. You'll need:

  • One avocado
  • One 5-ounce can of tuna
  • 2 tablespoons greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon minced red onion
  • Lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Slice the avocado lengthwise and scoop out half the flesh. Mix it with the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Scoop the tuna salad back into the avocado for a fun way to serve.

Watermelon Mint Feta Salad

Watermelon

This recipe makes an ideal light lunch or side. The short ingredient list includes:

  • One watermelon
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • Chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the watermelon in cubes or scoop it out of the rind with a melon baller. Sprinkle the fruit with the rest of the ingredients, then chill in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.

The 10 Best Family Films To Watch During Quarantine (That You Haven’t Seen a Billion Times)

Normally, I would feel guilty about letting my kids watch so much TV, but honestly I’m way too tired to think of other things to do. So, I chose the next best thing. I decided to plop down on the couch and watch a movie with them.

It was surprisingly relaxing. By the end, everyone’s mood was better, we were hugging and laughing, and my stress had vanished. I highly recommend having your own family movie night. Here are my top 10 family-friendly movies for this quarantine:

1. The Incredibles 2

This is one of my personal favorite movies of all time and my kids love it, too. A family of superheroes has to save the world from crazy villains (twice), and they get closer together in the process.

2. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

This modern Spider-Man cartoon features mind-blowing animation, hilarious jokes and lovable characters. A new Spider-Man named Miles Morales teams up with various spider heroes from alternate dimensions to, you guessed it, save the world. There’s even a spider version of Porky Pig (Spider Ham) that made me giggle like crazy.

3. Jumanji: The Next Level

I guarantee you’ll be surprised by how much this “lost in a video game” movie makes you laugh. I went in with low expectations and got more than my money’s worth. I guess that’s what happens with Danny DeVito, Danny Glover, Jack Black, Kevin Hart and The Rock.

4. The Rocketeer

Who doesn’t want to watch a rocket-powered hero save his girlfriend (a young Jennifer Connelly) from evil Nazi spies? Think Indiana Jones but with less violence.

5. School of Rock

If your kids have musical inclinations, School of Rock is a must-see movie. Rock anthems meet classic Jack Black humor. Prep-school students get Black as their (pretend) substitute teacher, who educates them in the ways of rock and sticking it to The Man.

6. The Princess Bride

Isn’t it time to introduce your kids to unforgettable lines from The Princess Bride? Not sharing this family classic is simply inconceivable. It’s got a pirate, a princess, a giant and a man with six fingers!

7. Blended

This movie wasn’t the biggest hit, but I think it’s one of Adam Sandler’s funniest family films. The story is about two single-parent families (like Yours, Mine & Ours) who end up taking a trip to Africa together.

8. Ever After

In Ever After, Drew Barrymore plays Danielle de Barbarac, a sweet girl raised by her stepmother. It’s a superb modern version of Cinderella, minus the magic pumpkin and talking mice. If you’re looking for a coming-of-age film to watch together, this is it.

9. Julie & Julia

This film is more appropriate for teens than little kids (there are sexual situations and language but no nudity). I included it because it’s my family’s favorite movie ever. I love cooking with my kids, and this love story/homage to Julia Child is funny, touching and romantic.

10. The Adventures of Tintin

I had no idea that Stephen Spielberg directed this animated film, but that would explain why it was so awesome. Parents will love the excitement just as much as kids. Tintin is a globe-travelling young detective who has all the skills of Indiana Jones for getting into and out of trouble.

These movies will make you smile from start to finish. That’s exactly what you and your kids need right now. Don’t forget to make some healthy snacks to enjoy together at the same time.

10 Ways To Keep Your Spirits Up During the Quarantine

I’m not going to tell you to smile and act like the world isn’t completely crazy right now. Pretending that everything is perfect won’t make you feel better, but there are things you can do to keep your spirits up. So, here are 10 REALISTIC tips that have helped me enjoy some sunshine within my little plastic bubble:

1. Peel Yourself Away From the News

Constantly bombarding yourself with bad news isn’t the best way to stay happy. I finally decided to limit myself to two “news nights” a week. Doing crossword puzzles makes me happier than doomsday scenarios.

2. Set Reasonable Goals

Setting specific goals every morning is a big help in staying positive. After reaching each goal, you’ll feel like you scaled Mount Everest (my laundry pile looks that way some days). Now I feel like a wonderful wife and mother again. I recommend keeping goals small (like washing laundry) so you don’t get stressed.

3. Cut Yourself Some Slack

Don’t expect perfection of yourself right now. You’re a human being, remember? Humans have emotions and fear is one of them. Just do the best you can. Your kids aren’t going to starve because you accidentally burned the chicken.

4. Forget About Things You Can’t Control

Recognize that you can’t do anything about what’s going on across town, let alone halfway across the country. What you can do is keep yourself healthy. Do your best to take care of your family and let the rest slide.

5. Focus on Giving

Helping other people makes you happy and brings purpose to life. You don’t have to do something huge. A beautiful note or phone call can make a major difference for friends and family. Every time you bring sunshine to a loved one, you should feel proud.

6. Smell the Roses

You may not be able to literally smell roses through a cloth mask, but there are good things to celebrate. Notice little things around you every day. You may love favorite melodies, certain foods (mine’s Greek yogurt), old photographs, love letters or the way fluffy carpet feels on bare feet.

7. Spend Time on Things That Mean Something

Watching TV all day was fun for a week. Now it just makes me feel like a pajama-covered bowl of Jell-O. Recently, I’ve discovered how awesome checking things off my to-do list is. You’re looking at the proud owner of a cute home office (formerly guest bedroom/box storage area).

8. Eat Three Meals a Day

Get up at the same time every morning and EAT BREAKFAST. This helps your body and mind to enjoy a semblance of routine. As creatures of habit, humans feel way better emotionally when life has structure.

9. Try Cooking New Recipes

Take advantage of a freer schedule to dust off great cookbooks and make recipes you haven’t tried before. A delicious menu with fresh fruit and veggies, proteins rich in Omega-3 and mood-enhancing spices such as ginger is just what the doctor ordered.

10. Connect With One Person a Day

With everyone sharing humorous videos constantly, feeling pressured to respond to messages instantly can stress instead of help. Instead, call or text one person a day. Laugh together, cry and really talk. That’s what friends are about.

Don't forget how important healthy nutrition is right now. Eating right increases levels of serotonin and dopamine — your brain’s happiness hormones. Salmon, poultry, spinach, eggs, milk and nuts are natural depression-fighting superfoods.