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Think green: celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in a healthy way!

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You know it is almost St. Patrick’s Day when McDonald’s starts advertising the return of its highly anticipated Shamrock Shake and stores start changing their decor to highlight different shades of green. After a long, seemingly never-ending winter, March 17 brings a rush of excitement, not only for the celebration of the patron saint of Ireland, but for the feeling that spring weather is upon us.

St. Patrick’s Day is full of tradition: parades, leprechauns, shamrocks, and corned beef and cabbage, just to name a few. But don’t use the celebration as an excuse to forget all the healthy habits we vowed to make when that ball dropped in Times Square just a few short months ago!

Give yourself a push to get your daily servings of fruits and vegetables. The latest dietary guidelines from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion recommend 1 ½ -2 cups of fruit and 2 ½-3 cups of vegetables per day for the average adult. It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, which is why the guidelines also recommend at least 1-2 cups of dark green vegetables per week. Dark green vegetables include broccoli, spinach, bok choy, kale and turnips. So, fill up half of that St. Patrick’s Day plate with green fruits and vegetables!

Here are some ideas on how you can think green this St. Patrick’s Day and make some healthy swaps. Continue Reading »

Chia: not just your average seed

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When it comes to recent food trends, it is almost impossible to ignore the increased use and popularity of Salvia hispanica L.

Salvia hispani… what?

Salvia hispanica L. is popularly known as chia seeds. This mint-related plant is leaving its mark on the food industry and is ever so prevalent on the Internet. If you do a quick Google search you will find plenty of recipes using chia seeds, and you are likely see people raving about this gluten-free seed on Pinterest and other social media networks, too.

Chia seeds, which date back to the ancient Aztecs, have shot to the top of the “superfood” lists, creating a craze with consumers. Perhaps it is their versatility that is so appealing. You can use chia seeds to make beverages, desserts, crackers, breading and more.

The seed can be consumed whole or ground, and may be easily added to foods such as yogurts, smoothies, oatmeal and other cereals. A unique property of the seed is its ability to turn gelatinous or gummy when soaked, allowing it to be used as a thickening agent in recipes.

This feature comes in handy when using chia seeds as a substitute for eggs in baking. To use chia seeds instead of eggs, soak one tablespoon of ground chia seeds in three tablespoons of water for five to 10 minutes. This is usually the equivalent of one egg. In a study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, it was found that 25 percent of eggs or oil in a recipe could be replaced with the chia gel without affecting the functional or sensory properties of the result. By using chia seeds instead of oil or eggs, it decreases the caloric and fat content of the final product. Continue Reading »

How to store breast milk (Infographic)

Your biggest questions about breast milk storage are answered here:

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Essential oils: mankind’s first medicine

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Essential oils were mankind’s first medicine. Shown in Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese manuscripts, we know that priests and physicians have been using essential oils for thousands of years. Essential oils are extracted from plant leaves, flowers, stems, roots or bark and carry the essence of the plants in such a potent form that a single drop of essential oil can equal multiple teaspoons of the dried herb. One drop of peppermint oil, for instance, equals more than 25 cups of peppermint tea!

Essential oils can be used or applied in a variety of ways and combinations to bring powerful results. Lavender, for example, can be used for issues such as burns, insect bites, headaches, PMS, insomnia and stress. Oils can be applied directly on the skin or within compresses, by inhalation, in baths or through cooking. Many essential oils have antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antibiotic properties.

As essential oils become more mainstream, more choices flood the store shelves. Keep in mind that the purest therapeutic-grade essential oils are the most effective and worth the cost. Anything less than pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil may not produce the desired result and can in some cases be extremely toxic. It is also a good idea to consult your provider before beginning use of essential oils, especially if you are pregnant. Continue Reading »

Baby Teeth Chart (Infographic)

Our pediatricians are often asked about teething timelines for babies. To help, we thought we’d make a baby teeth chart for you to download, save and print.

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Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.