The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Air Quality Program issued an orange Ozone Alert for Sunday, May 28th - the first alert of the season.
Ozone pollution is formed when emissions from vehicles, lawn and garden equipment, and other sources react in heat and sunlight. Environmental factors — such as warm, sunny weather; low wind speeds; and lack of rain — increase the likelihood of poor air quality.
The two most important things residents should do on Ozone Alert days are:
1. PROTECT YOUR HEALTH
Ozone pollution can cause a variety of problems — even in healthy adults — including chest pains, coughing, nausea, throat irritation and difficulty breathing. People who are sensitive to air pollution, including children, older adults and people with breathing or heart problems, should limit outdoor activity between 10:00am and 7:00pm. Everyone should consider scheduling outdoor activities before 10:00am or after 7:00pm.
2. REDUCE POLLUTION
More than half of all emissions that lead to ozone pollution are caused by everyday activities such as driving and yard work. To help reduce air pollution, you can postpone mowing and wait until evening to refuel vehicles. If you live close to where you work, consider riding a bike or walking instead of driving. Both options produce zero emissions and the exercise is great for your health. Try to schedule walking and biking trips before 10:00am or after 7:00pm, and avoid prolonged exposure to outdoor air.
Learn more about simple actions to reduce pollution and follow the SkyCast, the region’s daily air quality forecast, at AirQKC.org. MARC issues the SkyCast each afternoon from March 1 through Oct. 31.
by Bethany Bachmann, Field Specialist in Horticulture, firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional information from Dr. Trinklein, MU Adjunct Professor, and Cathy Bylinowski, MU Horticulture Instructor, email@example.com
Rhubarb is in season May to June in Missouri. It is rich in vitamin K which helps in blood clotting and bone formation. Rhubarb also contains vitamin C.
How to Grow Rhubarb-
Spring is a good time to plant rhubarb, a perennial vegetable that favors cool weather. It produces large leaves attached to succulent stalks or petioles that grow from short, thick underground rhizomes.
Rhubarb is a full-sun plant that needs at least six hours of direct sun each day. Since it favors cool weather, rhubarb benefits from some afternoon shade in Missouri. It does not grow well in most of southern Missouri because of higher summer temperatures.
It tolerates a variety of soil types but prefers those high in organic matter. Like most perennial plants, rhubarb needs excellent drainage. Do not grow rhubarb where water will stand at the base of the plant or in soils with high clay content. Garden beds with composted manure and other forms of organic matter improve poorly drained soils and create ideal growing conditions for rhubarb.
Add about 2 to 2.5 pounds of a complete garden fertilizer such as 10-10-10 per 100 square feet of garden area at the start of growing season. A light side dressing of a fertilizer high in nitrogen or application of 2-3 inches of compost or manure after harvest also helps rhubarb stay healthy.
Crown divisions of rhubarb become available in the spring at garden centers, nurseries, and from online nursery catalogues.
Plant rhubarb in a shallow trench. Each dormant growing point, or bud, should be about a half-inch below the soil’s surface. Mature rhubarb plants are large. Space plants 2 to 3 feet apart in rows separated by at least the same distance. Firm the soil around the crowns, then water. Keep plants uniformly moist during establishment and avoid overwatering. Do not harvest rhubarb the first year.
Do not use rhubarb leaf blades for cooking. They contain oxalic acid, which crystallizes in the kidneys. Only the leaf stalks of rhubarb can be eaten safely.
Harvest from healthy rhubarb plants lasts about two months. To harvest, grasp the leaf stalk near its base and pull it to one side while twisting the stalk. Since cuts encourage crown rot, avoid harvesting rhubarb with a knife. Remove the toxic leaf blade soon after harvest. Refrigerate in plastic bags and use the stalks within five to seven days or freeze. Frozen rhubarb lasts about one year.
Remove flower stalks when seen. This forces the plant to put its energies into the leaves and roots instead of flowers and seeds.
Selection of stalks for cooking- Choose stalks that are firm and crisp. Avoid wilted or very thick stalks which can be woodier than others. Unwashed rhubarb should be wrapped with a paper towel and stored in the crisper drawer for best results. Rhubarb stalks can last up to three weeks stored in this manner.
Recipe of the Month
Some people love the sour flavor of rhubarb, as in the recipe below. Others like to combine rhubarb with other fruit, such as strawberries, to lessen the intense sour flavor. You can experiment and see what you like the best.
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk.
3. In another bowl, mix the yogurt, butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the rhubarb.
4. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. If desired, sprinkling tops of each with sugar.
5. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
The kickoff to summer is officially here and cookouts are in full swing! Break out the grill this Memorial Day and enjoy time with your guests outside – cooking up everything from sides to main dishes. Grilling allows you to prepare a balanced meal for your guests, from fruits and vegetables to your favorite lean protein and even toasting those whole-wheat hamburger buns. Let the grill be the star and you become the master behind the grill this Memorial Day with these dietitian-approved tips on how to grill your whole meal from produce to protein!
First – let’s tackle why your grill is such a great cooking method to utilize on a regular basis. To start, grilling is a healthier alternative to frying or other cooking methods because it allows the fat to naturally drip away during the cooking process. This results in leaner proteins – cutting down on fat and total calories, along with allowing extra sauces and oils to drip away, further reducing potential added sugar or fat found in sauces, marinades and cooking oils.
Next – the versatility of your grill can’t be beat! Practically anything that can be cooked indoors can be prepared outdoors on a grill. Even small items like mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and slices of zucchini can be grilled on skewers or in a grill basket.
Last – it’s practical because outdoor grilling allows you to skip using the oven and subsequently heating up the house while running your air conditioning.
Plus – you can socialize with your guests who are enjoying the cookout outside rather than having to step away from the party each time you need to check on the food.
Just because cookout season is here doesn’t mean you won’t reach or maintain your health and wellness goals this summer. You can enjoy fruits, vegetables, proteins and whole grains – all straight off the grill – helping you create a balanced and flavorful meal. It’s important to skip the food guilt and help yourself to foods you enjoy – moderation is key!
Serving grilled fruits and vegetables will not only help you and your guests hit the 5-a-day recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, but they will love having an alternative to traditional salads served at cookouts! Fruits and vegetables pack in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, plus a dose of fiber to help balance blood sugar and keep you full longer. Find our top dietitian tips for grilling up the perfect produce below. Plus create a balanced meal with our tips for perfectly grilled proteins and grains!
Fruits such as nectarines, peaches, pineapple, watermelon and more are great for grilling. Just avoid grilling overly ripe fruit as grilling caramelizes the natural sugars in fruit and weakens the structure. Starting with overripe fruit can result in a mushy final texture or it may fall apart. For the best success, try cutting fruit into larger chunks, using a grill basket or skewering after brushing with a neutral cooking oil that will stand up to the high heat like Chosen Foods Avocado Oil.
Kabobs are a great way to serve up grilled vegetables! For the best flavor, try tossing your vegetables in a neutral, high-heat cooking oil or quickly marinating (20 minutes or less) cut vegetables with your favorite spices, herbs and Chosen Foods Avocado Oil to pack in extra flavor! Check out the recipe below for delicious Grilled Veggie Fajita Kabobs to serve at your Memorial Day cookout.
Pairing your fruit and vegetable sides with protein at your Memorial Day cookout is a great way to serve up a satiating meal to your guests! Opt for lean proteins such as fish, ground beef that is 90% lean or greater, ground turkey, chicken breasts or pork tenderloin. Protein not only helps fill you up at mealtime but balances blood sugar at meals and is associated with building and maintaining muscle mass. Just be sure to grill your protein until it reaches the proper internal temperature for a food safe celebration!
Impress your guests by quickly toasting whole-wheat hamburger or hot dog buns, serving up grilled slices of artisan bread such as ciabatta, or grill-ready garlic bread. Save grilling grains for last as they cook quickly! To grill bread or buns, lightly brush cut sides with oil. Place cut sides directly onto grill grates, grilling for 1 to 2 minutes or until toasted to your preference.
For more grilling tips and tricks, reach out to your local dietitian or check out Hy-Vee’s Grilling Guide!
Grilled Veggie Fajita Kabobs
Serves 5 (1 each)
All you need:
½ (0.9-oz) pkg Good Graces organic gluten-free veggie fajita seasoning (1½ tbsp)
1 tbsp Chosen Foods Avocado Oil
1½ tsp Full Circle Market light-colored agave nectar
1½ tsp fresh lime juice
10 mini sweet peppers
1 medium zucchini, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
½ medium red onion, sliced into ½-inch-thick slices
1 cup cherry tomatoes
½ cup halved baby bella mushrooms
Crema agria sour cream, for serving
Avocado hot sauce, for serving
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
All you do:
Recipe adapted from: May/June 2023 Hy-Vee Seasons magazine
This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
(StatePoint) The International Code Council’s 43rd annual Building Safety Month campaign has begun, and week one’s theme: “Building Safety Starts at Home” highlights how building safety impacts our everyday lives.
According to InjuryFacts.NSC.org, about 16 out of 100 people were injured in a home or community venue in 2021. The leading causes that contribute to these injuries, such as drowning, fire smoke, and general home maintenance, can be prevented by acting ahead of time.
As the leading global source of model codes, standards and building safety solutions, the Code Council is passionate about educating homeowners on fire safety, home maintenance and sustainability practices. Here are some safety tips from the Code Council to help prevent accidents and keep your family and community safe:
Fire Safety Tips:
• Put a smoke alarm on every level of your home, outside each sleeping area and inside every bedroom. Test each smoke alarm regularly and replace it every ten years.
• Install home fire sprinklers. They are relatively affordable and can increase property value and lower insurance rates.
• Make an escape plan with a meeting place outside so everyone knows how to get out fast.
• Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from portable heaters.
• Keep all items that can burn away from your home. Remember to clean leaves from your gutters and clear dead leaves and branches from shrubs and trees surrounding your home.
Home Maintenance Tips:
• Never overload electrical cords or power strips.
• Don’t use appliances that have damaged cords.
• For mold prevention, watch for leaky pipes, condensation and wet spots, and fix sources of moisture problems as soon as possible.
• Keep in mind that there are several materials and items that should never be flushed down the toilet, including medication, disposable wipes, coffee grounds and more.
• To prevent your pipes from freezing in the winter, drain water from the swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following the manufacturer’s or installer’s directions.
• Make sure all pedestrian gates in the barrier fence of your swimming pool are self-closing and self-latching.
According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the average U.S. family can spend $2,000 a year on energy bills. This means that reducing your home energy use is the single most effective way to save money and reduce your home’s contribution to greenhouse gasses. The Code Council recognizes that for many people, it’s unclear where to start, and suggests the following tips to help communities forge a path forward.
Energy and Sustainability Tips:
• Install water-saving shower heads and low-flow faucet aerators and use your water meter to check for hidden water leaks. These steps can improve water conservation.
• To prevent stormwater runoff pollution, never dump anything down storm drains.
• Change the filters in your home’s heating and cooling system regularly to increase energy efficiency.
• Replace your light bulbs with LEDs, which use up to 90% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
• Build green and design your home with materials that are easily recyclable, reusable, renewable, durable, affordable and low maintenance.
• Build a rain garden to capture roof drainage and divert it to your garden or landscaping to recycle non-potable water. Be sure to check your local rules on rainwater harvesting prior to installation.
For more information, check out the Code Council’s Safety Tool Kits and additional resources at iccsafe.org.
Plants on Your Plate: Asparagus
Asparagus grew abundantly along the ditch behind my childhood home. I am not sure why the previous owners chose to plant it there, but I remember my mother’s delight when it popped up out of the ground in the early spring. Unfortunately, I did not share her delight…then. But oh, how I wish my adult efforts to grow this lovely vegetable could result in as prolific a harvest!
While green asparagus is by far the most common, you might also find it in purple or even a combination of the two, due to hybridization. White asparagus is also available due to a process called ‘earthing up’, which repeatedly covers the shoots as they emerge from the soil. Without exposure to the sun, no photosynthesis occurs, so the shoots remain white. Many people find white asparagus to be less bitter and more tender.
With prime growing season from February through June, asparagus will be an early morning find at the farmers market and also more prevalent in the produce section this time of year. When shopping for asparagus, opt for spears that are crisp and round. Ideally, tips should be pointed and tightly closed. Avoid extra-large spears, as they will be more ‘woody’ and tough. Asparagus keeps for 2-4 days in the refrigerator. Wrapping the bottom ends of the stalks in a wet paper towel and storing in a plastic bag will maximize storage time.
Asparagus is rich in Vitamins A and C, antioxidants that may reduce your risk of developing chronic disease. Vitamin C also aids in absorption of iron. Asparagus is a good source of vitamin K, potassium, and folate. Asparagus is also a good source of fiber, an important nutrient for controlling cholesterol and keeping your digestive system healthy.
To prepare, clean asparagus under cool running water. Rinse tips well, dipping in and out of water to ensure removal of dirt inside tips. Cut off any white or tough ends on the spears. Spears may be left in longer lengths or cut into one-inch pieces. To grill, broil, sauté or stir-fry, drizzle with olive oil and fresh herbs. Cook until desired tenderness, about 5 minutes. To roast, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Follow the steps as if grilling/broiling, roast for 5-8 minutes. If asparagus can be pierced easily with a fork but is not yet flimsy, the asparagus is done. Asparagus can also be microwaved or steamed with small amount of water, low-sodium seasoning, and garlic. Microwave for 3-4 minutes in microwave safe container or steam over medium heat for 6-8minutes. To serve cold on a relish plate, plunge the asparagus into cold water to stop cooking. The main point to remember is do not overcook it to retain a tender-crisp texture and bright green color.
For longer-term storage, asparagus is best frozen, as the desired color and texture is lost in the canning process. Asparagus can however pickled, like green beans or okra, and still have be a desirable tender-crisp texture.
The pasta recipe below makes a tasty summer meal when served with a tossed green salad.
Asparagus with Pesto Pasta
(makes 6-8 servings)
2 cups whole grain penne pasta
½-pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups fresh green peas
4 tablespoons basil pesto
½ cup fresh grated parmesan
Nutrition information (based on 6 servings): Calories: 292, Total Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 3.5g, Sodium: 240mg, Carbohydrates: 37g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 15g
Recipe adapted from Seasonal and Simple, analyzed by verywellfit.com
Kick Stress to the Curb
So long to winter blues, hello spring sunshine! While the change in seasons (especially to warmer ones) can bring on renewed moods and energy, it can also bring about a whole new set of potential stressors waiting to wreak havoc on our bodies. While some stress can be good for our body, chronic stress and its byproducts can be more harmful than helpful to our overall health.
Combatting stress can be easy by incorporating simple, healthy habits into a daily routine. One easy place to start is with food. To say that stress affects eating habits is an understatement. Whether you eat more or less during times of stress, aiming for balanced meals and snacks as much as possible is the key to eating healthier and feeling better both physically and emotionally. A balanced meal should include carbs, protein and fat with an emphasis on including produce when possible. And don’t forget the snacks! Pack a Good Measure bar for that morning or afternoon snack-attack for a blood sugar-friendly food with nutrient-rich ingredients.
For many, the spring and summer months mean a garden full of produce. Growing your own produce is a surefire way to increase your overall fruit and vegetable intake. While there is no one fruit or vegetable that will specifically help combat stress, increasing our fruit and vegetable intake can increase our overall health, which can lead to less stress. Additionally, fruit and vegetables are high in antioxidants which help fight free radicals in our body. Free radicals are literally the byproduct of stressors in our body, so eating more produce literally helps fight stress!
Moving our bodies has momentous outcomes for our overall health and for combating stress. Not only do we feel better after movement, but activity can also help reduce anxiety and increase cardiovascular health. Aiming for at least 20-30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week may help reduce stress.1
Don’t forget the water! Staying hydrated is imperative for good health. The healthier our bodies, the less likely we are to feel the effects of stress. 60% of our body is water and it plays a key role in many processes throughout our body. While our water needs can fluctuate depending on the time of year or age and gender, standard recommendations include about 9 cups (72 ounces) of water for women and 13 cups (104 ounces) of water for men.2
Finally, don’t forget to make the end of your day a priority as well. Sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercise to physical and emotional health. To prevent stress from affecting sleep, consider creating a night-time routine that starts about 30 minutes prior to your bedtime. Aim to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. On average, adults should aim for about 7 hours of sleep each night.3
Staying healthy doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, growing your own food or creating exciting meals can be a great way to bust stress daily. Let Hy-Vee dietitians help you free up time in your week by prepping ahead with our virtual freezer meals class. In under an hour, prepare 5 freezer meals to feed 4-6 people. A stocked freezer = reduced stress for sure! This month’s menu includes: Marry Me Chicken, Korean Beef & Rice Bowl, Tuna Noodle Casserole, Lemon Poppy Seed Energy Balls, Saucy Peach & Honey Pork Chops. To register head to https://www.hy-vee.com/health/hy-vee-dietitians/default.aspx.
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
(StatePoint) From the beach to the backyard, taking care of your feet and ankles in summer is essential.
“Nothing ruins summer fun faster than a problem with your feet. However, a few smart precautions can help keep you healthy and safe,” says Gretchen Lawrence, DPM, AACFAS, a board-certified foot and ankle surgeon and an associate member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS).
To help you understand some of the most common summer risks to feet and how to avoid them, ACFAS is sharing these insights:
• Puncture wounds: Millions of Americans go barefoot every summer, and thousands will sustain cuts and puncture wounds. To prevent injury and infection, wear shoes whenever possible and get vaccinated against tetanus. If you do get a puncture wound, see a foot and ankle surgeon within 24 hours and don’t swim until it’s healed. Bacteria in oceans and lakes can cause infection.
• Pool problems: Always wear flip flops or other footwear in locker rooms and on pool decks to prevent contact with bacteria and viruses that can cause athlete’s foot, plantar warts and other problems.
• Sun damage and skin cancer: Don’t overlook your feet during your sun protection routine. Feet get sunburned too, and melanoma on the foot or ankle is more likely to be misdiagnosed than on any other part of the body. A study published in “The Journal of Foot & Ankle Surgery” reported the overall survival rate for melanoma of the foot or ankle is just 52%, in sharp contrast to the 85% survival rate for melanomas on other areas of the body. Apply sunscreen to the tops and bottoms of feet and limit sun exposure. Dr. Lawrence notes, “If you spot abnormal moles or pigmented skin, including under toenails, visit a foot and ankle surgeon. Early detection and treatment could save your life.”
• Pains and sprains: Summer sports can lead to arch pain, heel pain, ankle sprains and other injuries. Proper footwear with heel cushioning and arch support is essential, particularly on uneven surfaces, such as sandy beaches or hiking trails. If injury occurs, use the RICE approach: rest, ice, compression and elevation to ease pain and swelling. Any injury that doesn’t resolve within a few days should be examined by a foot and ankle surgeon.
• Mower risks: Some 25,000 Americans sustain injuries from power mowers annually, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission. Many of these injuries are preventable. Always cut the grass in protective shoes or work boots and keep children away during this chore. Never mow a wet lawn or pull the mower backward, and always mow across slopes, not up or down them.
• Travel concerns: Sitting for long stretches can increase the risk of dangerous blood clots. “Whether road tripping or flying, regularly stretch your legs and pump your feet to circulate blood. Wearing compression socks for longer travel is also a good idea,” says Dr. Lawrence.
• Diabetes complications: If you have diabetes, prolonged hot and humid weather can lead to numerous foot woes. Any type of skin break has the potential to get infected if it isn’t noticed right away, and exposure can cause dry, cracking skin. Inspect your feet daily and wear closed shoes whenever possible. Swelling is another hot-weather risk, potentially making shoes fit tighter which can cause blisters. Compression stockings may not sound appealing in hot temperatures, but they can reduce swelling and help prevent poor circulation. Finally, never go barefoot in summer. Impaired nerve sensation can make it hard to detect just how hot surfaces are. Just a few minutes walking barefoot on pavement to grab the newspaper can cause third-degree burns.
For more information and to find a foot and ankle surgeon near you, visit FootHealthFacts.org, the patient education website for the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
Top 5 Tips to Manage Your Blood Sugar
Did you know there is a scientific cause for cravings? Cravings often appear after you experience a big spike in blood sugar followed by a dramatic drop in blood sugar or a “crash.” You may feel frequent hunger pains, low energy or like you’re relying on caffeine to make it through the day. But did you know there is a way of eating to help you feel more balanced?
It’s true! There is a style of eating that can help with more stable energy, reduced inflammation, fewer cravings and better blood sugar control for anyone. It can be especially helpful for those with elevated glucose or insulin resistance who are working to improve their blood sugar control. Life is about learning and improving. Whether you have diabetes, prediabetes, a family history of diabetes or just want to take a pro-active approach with your eating, there are small actions you can take today to get started right away. Don’t wait another day to feel your best!
Research has found there are several highly effective ways to balance blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance. Here are the top five Hy-Vee dietitian tips to manage your blood sugar.
Start your day with a protein-rich breakfast rather than something sweet.
Make your first meal of the day balanced with a good source of protein such as eggs, nuts, Greek yogurt or protein powder. Research shows if you balance the beginning of your day, your body will be better at regulating blood sugar the rest of the day.
Eat your meals in a specific order.
Research has found that eating your meal in a specific order can help decrease a blood sugar spike by almost 75%. This can be nearly as affective as some diabetes medications.
Once again, save anything sweet for the end of a balanced meal when you already have fiber, protein and fat in your stomach to help blunt a blood sugar spike. Plus, since cravings usually occur due to a crash in blood sugar following a spike, many people notice less cravings for sweets once they have balanced their blood sugar. They report feeling satisfied with just a few bites of something sweet and feel powerful having control over their cravings rather than being controlled by cravings.
Move for a few minutes after meals.
Timing some form of movement after meals is an excellent way to help reduce a blood sugar spike. Even just a few minutes of movement such as walking or performing household chores helps by allowing muscles to utilize some of the sugar in the blood. Research has shown even TWO minutes of walking can help!
Stay consistent with support.
Do you know even just writing down a goal makes you more likely to achieve it? So does having someone to hold you accountable. One of the best parts of this style of eating is it is NOT all or nothing. There are no off-limit foods. There is no guilt associated with enjoying favorite foods. It truly is an approach to eating most feel like they can continue with for the long-term. When it comes to making progress, consistent action is key. Set yourself up for success with support from a Hy-Vee dietitian. It is also crucial to communicate with your doctor about any changes to your diet and continue taking medications as directed while monitoring changes in blood sugar.
Almost half of U.S. adults now have elevated blood sugars. More than one in three have prediabetes and roughly 80% are not even aware their levels are high. If you do not know where you stand in terms of blood sugar control, register today for our free A1C screenings brought to you by generous sponsors including: RxSugar, Embecta, Good Measure, Catalina Crunch and Fairlife yogurt.
In under 15 minutes, you’ll learn your average blood sugar over the last two to three months and can connect with your Hy-Vee dietitian about our upcoming Balancing Your Blood Sugar program for the support to help you succeed. Request your free A1C screening and learn more about our Balancing Your Blood Sugar program here.
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
Plants on Your Plate: Swiss Chard
by Denise Sullivan, Nutrition & Health Education Specialist, MU Extension-Jackson County
Swiss chard is another leafy green that sometimes gets overlooked in the produce section or farmer’s markets. Chard is actually a member of the beet family (Beta vulgaris) that does not produce a root. The leaves are similar to beet greens, but have more crinkly, ribbed sections, more closely resembling kale. The center rib of the plant can have a range of colors from white to red depending on the variety. White stalks are commonly known as ‘silver chard,’ red varieties are commonly called ‘rhubarb chard,’ while ‘rainbow chard’ can have red, yellow, orange, or pale green center ribs.
Chard is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region near Sicily and was a popular food even before the days of the Roman Empire. It eventually grew in popularity across Europe, and was once grown in the south of France, where the center rib alone was enjoyed as a highlight of the Christmas Eve meal. Until the 1850’s, Swiss chard was considered a specialty plant produced mainly for European markets. After the Civil War, the United States began increasing production of the crop.
Most commercially grown chard comes from California, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Hawaii. Swiss chard is a biennial plant but is typically cultivated as an annual and can be easily grown in the mid-west in early spring and early fall. It prefers cool temperatures as high temperatures slow down leaf production. Chard tolerates heat better than spinach does and rarely bolts like spinach is prone to do. Chard grows best in full sun, although it tolerates partial shade and likes fertile, well-worked soil with good drainage. It can even be grown as an ornamental within flower beds or pots, which I have done.
Chard is a unique green because both the leaf and the colorful stalk can be cooked and enjoyed, unlike kale, where the tough center rib is usually discarded prior to preparation and consumption. The bright colors of Swiss chard bring a variety of nutritional benefits, including vitamins A, C, and K in addition to minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber. The mild, sweet, earthy taste with a touch of bitterness provides a unique flavor profile. The bitterness is reduced with cooking and can be complemented with herbs or a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end of cooking. Younger, more tender leaves are less bitter and can be blended into salad greens for a contrast in both flavor and texture. Both the leaf and the rib are utilized in this delicious summer frittata.
Swiss Chard and Squash Frittata
(makes 4 servings)
1 lb. rainbow chard
1 summer squash, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped onions
2 tsp. olive oil
3 Tbs. chopped fresh basil (optional)
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground black pepper
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Recipe adapted from Tufts University, analyzed by verywellfit.com
(StatePoint) You know how important regular check-ups are and that consulting your healthcare provider when you have a concern is smart. But what happens after the visit is just as essential to maintaining good health.
Unfortunately, some people don’t follow their provider’s advice. Maybe they don’t take their prescriptions as written or forego recommended preventive screenings and immunizations. This can be costly, both for individuals and the health care system. Case in point: More than 125,000 people die each year because of prescription medication non-adherence, according to the National Council for Patient Information and Education.
Following a doctor’s recommended care plan can be challenging, according to Dr. J.B. Sobel, chief medical officer with Cigna Healthcare’s Medicare business. There are multiple reasons why older patients can have difficulty following their provider’s instructions – including managing multiple medications at different times of day – or trouble accessing or affording care.
Thankfully, there are some processes and resources that can help you faithfully follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
Get organized. More than half of adults 65 and older take four or more prescription drugs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. With more medications, it can be difficult to know what to take, when to take it, and in what dosage. A low-cost pill organizer, available at drug stores and retail outlets, can help you stay organized. You may also want to automate your medication by taking it at the same time every day if directions allow that. The key is to find a system that works for you and stick with it.
Communicate with your provider or pharmacist. If your medication doesn’t seem to be working or is causing undesirable side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about adjusting your dosage or switching to an alternative. Likewise, discuss any concerns about screenings or tests with your provider.
Having a good rapport with your doctor helps. Take notes at your appointment or bring a loved one with you to help with questions. And don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anything you don’t understand.
Connect your providers. Make sure your various doctors share information. For example, if you have an unexpected hospital visit, notify your primary care provider so they can review any new medications or diagnoses from the hospital and help you fit them into your current care plan. This can also help protect you from unnecessary or duplicate procedures.
Find alternative access to care. If you have difficulty getting around or live far from where care is rendered, there are programs to help. Your provider may offer virtual visits. You may be able to have prescriptions safely delivered to your home in a 90-day supply, perhaps at a lower cost, and with reminders for refills. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may be eligible for rides to your provider or pharmacy at no extra cost. Learn more about Cigna Healthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans at www.cigna.com/medicare.
Seek help with costs. “Extra Help” is a federal program providing prescription drug cost support to those who qualify. Many pharmaceutical manufacturers help customers afford medications. You could also ask your healthcare provider about generic medications, which typically cost less but are equally effective.
Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans pay for many preventive procedures with no extra cost to you.
“If keeping up with your health care feels overwhelming, please don’t get discouraged,” said Dr. Sobel, who oversees a team of clinicians that contact Cigna Healthcare’s Medicare Advantage customers whose prescriptions have lapsed or not been refilled. “Seek help from a doctor, a pharmacy or a loved one. They want to help you. Keep in mind that it’s easier to maintain good health than it is to recapture your health following a preventable crisis.”
The information contained in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.
Grain Valley News
Grain Valley News is a free community news source published weekly online.
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Grain Valley MO 64029