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12 fun egg hunt treasures

egg huntMany families across the United States will soon be celebrating Easter and partaking in the fun activities associated with the holiday. This often includes egg hunts, especially for those families with young children. My daughter has participated in many of these and it is not uncommon for her to bring home lots of junk food that she doesn’t even like.

While we appreciate the occasional sweet treat, it seems that every celebration is overloaded with junk food; Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day parades, Labor Day parades, Fourth of July parades, Halloween, Easter, birthdays…the list goes on. This year, why not try something new? Below are some food and non-food items to consider using for filling traditional plastic colored Easter eggs.

  1. Dark chocolate. If you are going to spend your money on candy, then go all out and get good quality candy like dark chocolate. Choose chocolate that is 70 percent or more cacao. Dark chocolate contains beneficial antioxidants and other healthy substances while providing something sweet and delicious to enjoy.
  2. Nature’s candy. Mini boxes of raisins or individually wrapped prunes are a wonderful treat for many kids who like chewy sweet treats. Before you laugh at the suggestion of prunes, try it. You will be amazed by how many kids like them, especially if you call them (dried) plums. You may also want to use a few dark chocolate or yogurt-covered raisins as an extra treat. Continue Reading »

Four ways to maintain a clean bill of health

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You have a clean bill of health, but how do you maintain it? That’s a question that weighs on the minds of many. With a few helpful tips, you can help prevent common ailments.

1. Focus on a well-balanced diet: When planning your meals, keep the five basic food groups in mind – fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. Choosemyplate.gov offers helpful information on portion sizes as well as healthy suggestions.

2. Get some exercise: Not only is exercise beneficial for warding off stress, it also helps keep your heart healthy and helps defend against high blood pressure, obesity and arthritis. Thirty minutes multiple times a week is best.

3. Allow yourself enough sleep: Sleep gives our bodies time to rejuvenate. The average recommendation for adults is about eight hours per night.

4. Establish a relationship with a primary care provider: By developing a relationship with a primary care provider, you and your loved ones will have someone to turn to with your medical questions and receive the personalized care you deserve.

For help finding a primary care provider who is right for you, call Affinity NurseDirect at 1-800-362-9900 or go online to Find A Doctor: www.affinityhealth.org/doctor.

The anatomy of a grain

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The seeds of certain plants such as wheat, corn and rice that are used for food are called grains. There is much confusion about what constitutes a whole grain, the benefits of whole grains and what foods routinely contain whole grains.

To better understand what constitutes a grain it is important to understand the anatomy of a grain.

Bran
A single grain kernel has a multi-layered, outer, edible coat or skin called the bran. The bran contains a variety of B-vitamins, fiber and antioxidants.

The Germ
Inside the kernel of grain is a small ‘embryo’ which has the potential to grow into a new plant. The germ contains B-vitamins, some protein, minerals and health fats.shutterstock_75767707

The Endosperm
The majority of the space inside a kernel of grain is made up of endosperm.  It is the largest portion of the kernel and is rich in starchy carbohydrates, contains some protein and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. The germ feeds off of the endosperm which can provide necessary energy should the seed sprout and grow roots.

Whole grains
According to the Whole Grain Council a whole grain contains “all the essential parts and naturally occurring nutrients of the entire grain seed in their original proportions.” That is, a whole grain contains all of the bran, germ and endosperm.

If the grain has undergone any kind of processing such as cracking, crushing, rolling, extrusion or has been cooked the food “should deliver the same rich balance of nutrients found in the original grain seed” to be considered a whole grain.

Corn is an example of a whole grain as well as oats, wild rice, brown rice, barley, millet, quinoa, amaranth, wheat berries and others.

Whole grain stamp
Knowing when a food product contains whole grains can be tricky. Claims like natural grains, multi grain and more flood food packages. There is a quick way to ensure that the product you are buying is made from whole grains, and that is by locating the whole grain stamp on the product packaging.

StampCollage150dpiWhole grain stamps are yellow and have the shape of a postal stamp. There are two types of stamp: the basic and the 100% whole grain stamp.

If a product has at least eight grams of whole grain (half a serving) it can list the basic stamp on the package and list how many grams of whole grains it has. Even if a product has a large amount of whole grain, it will use the basic stamp if it also contains refined flour, extra bran or germ. If all of the grain ingredients of a food is whole grain, AND it has the minimum requirement of 16 grams of whole grains per serving (a full serving), then it will use the 100% stamp.

The stamps on the packaged food are an easy way to ensure that you are choosing a food with whole grains. You can of course always read the ingredient labels to make sure that they list whole grains such as whole wheat.

Happy shopping!

Happy National Volunteer Week!

Affinity Health System is pleased to honor health care volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 6 – 12, 2014. Volunteers contributed more than 125,000 hours of service to Affinity Health System last year. Affinity’s volunteer programs offer many opportunities to meet the interests, skills and schedules of a variety of volunteers. Thank you volunteers! You make a difference in our workplace and the lives of those you serve.

Learn a little bit about volunteering at Affinity Health System and how much we appreciate our volunteers by watching these videos.

If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering at Affinity Health System, visit: www.affinityhealth.org/volunteer

Information on volunteering can also be obtained by calling the volunteer services departments at:
Calumet Medical Center, Chilton
(920) 849-7540

Mercy Medical Center, Oshkosh
(920) 223-0225

St. Elizabeth Hospital, Appleton
(920) 738-2425

Cooking oils: What you need to know

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Some of the most frequent questions I get asked have to do with oils. “Which oil is the healthiest?” “Which oil should I use for cooking?” “Is coconut oil good for you?” These questions came up at the most recent grocery store tour I did this past weekend.

There are no straight answers to any of these questions. In some circumstances a very healthy oil is not one most chefs would use for cooking; and in some cases a good cooking oil is not one a dietitian would recommend for health.

Oils that are suited for cooking have to withstand high heat. Certain oils, when heated, undergo changes that render them unstable and therefore are not the best choices for cooking. For example, olive oil – which is recommended for good health since it contains unsaturated fats and has low levels of omega 6 fatty acids – is not well suited for frying.  Olive oil has a low smoking point, meaning it will start to smoke at a lower temperature than other oils. Olive oil is better used for dressings, marinades and baking. Conversely, palm oil, which is good for frying, scores low for health. So that’s the dilemma.

After reviewing many sources, searching the Internet and exploring nutrition and culinary references, I came across a chart that does a nice job presenting the dichotomy between culinary and health preferences. It includes information about the nuances of different oils such as the level of refinement, the presence of omega 3 and 6, and even includes some information about genetic modification. Continue Reading »

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.