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Refreshing, cool, hydrating summer snacks

Do you find that the summer heat takes a lot out of you? Shake things up by making fruit-based popsicles and slushies. They offer calories (as a snack), vitamins and minerals and the nutrient most essential for life (2nd only to oxygen)… water.

Kitchen Essentials: Blender and Popsicle Molds

Two essential kitchen accessories to ensure happy faces all summer include a high-powered blender and a set of popsicle molds. Make your own tasty, refreshing slushies and popsicles. There are many recipes available online. You can also make up your own recipes. Use what’s in season and think outside of the box. When it’s super-hot, you may not feel like eating. Irregular eating patterns can zap energy. For a fun pick-me-up, these treats can do the trick.

Suggested Recipes:

A few ideas to get you started: in a blender, whip up equal parts nonfat yogurt and frozen raspberries (about 1 cup of each). Add sugar or another sweetener to taste. Blend well, pour into molds and freeze. Love avocados? This neutral-flavored, creamy fruit makes great (saturated fat-free) ‘ice cream’ and ‘ice’ pops. Start by combining a 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a pot. Place on the stove top (medium heat), stirring occasionally until the mixture boils and the sugar dissolves completely in the water. Let cool to room temperature. In the meantime, scoop the flesh out of two medium-sized ripe avocados and put in a blender. Add the cooled sugar-water mixture. Add 2 TB fresh lime juice. Optional ingredients include fresh mint leaves and/or a splash of tequila (adults only!). Blend well at high-speed. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze and enjoy. Each recipe makes 5-6 large popsicles.

Make yourself a hydrating, refreshing green slushy by combining, in a blender: 1 cup cucumber (peeled, seeded regular or ‘English’ cucumber), 2 cups honeydew melon chunks (that you’ve frozen), a dozen fresh mint leaves and 2 – 4 tbsp. fresh lime juice (to taste) as well as 1 – 2 tsp. honey. Blend well and serve in 2 tall glasses.

All three of the above recipes offer 100 to 200 calories per serving.

Vitamin Supplements for Baby Boomers

The oldest ‘Baby boomers’ are now turning 65! Among other major life changes, such as retirement and Medicare enrollment, those aged 60+ years have nutrition needs different from those in their 20s, 30s and even 40s.

Nutrients of Concern

Those aged 65+ are at increased risk for nutrient deficiencies, particularly water (yes, water is an essential nutritient), vitamin 12 and folate; vitamin D, calcium and zinc. As you age, your organ function begins to decline, resulting in an increased risk for developing chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure. A healthy, nutrient-dense diet is essential. As your body’s own natural antioxidant system becomes less effective, you need to increase your intake of antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene, vitamin E and C).

General Dietary Supplement Criteria – Choosing a Vitamin

Among those MVIs marketed toward the ’50+ crowd’ look for options that offer 100% of the RDA or AI (recommendation) for vitamins C, E, B12, B6 and folic acid, as well as for the minerals selenium and magnesium. Many MVIs fall short on magnesium. Look for one that contains at least 100 mg (25 to 33% of your daily requirment). There is evidence that vitamin K may be important  for older Americans, so look for a MVI that offers about 25 mcg (except if you take Coumadin or another blood thinning medication). Vitamin K interferes with blood-thinning medications. The nutrients mentioned above are especially important for bone health, heart health and energy metabolism.

Potassium and Other Minerals

Choosing foods rich in potassium, such as many fruits and vegetables, is important because potassium (along with calcium and magnesium) may reduce blood pressure and potassium is a major mineral, needed in large quantities. While widely found in the food supply, it is the #1 nutrient deficiency in the U.S. Vitamins and minerals are best absorbed and used by your body when obtained from whole foods. However, if you wish to take a multi-vitamin/mineral (MVI) supplement, choose wisely.

Vitamin D and Calcium

In most cases, you shouldn’t rely on your MVI dietary supplement to meet your needs for calcium and vitamin D. There isn’t enough room in the pill itself for the calcium required for most Americans. Choose a calcium + vitamin D supplement and take it separate from a multi-vitamin. The recommended dosage is at least 1,000 mg calcium and 400 I.U. vitamin D but most research has indicated that the vitamin D recommendation may be too low, especially if you do not get adequate sun (UVB) exposure; about 15 minutes per day of direct sunlight.

Vitamin A and Iron

Vitamin A intakes in the elderly are generally below the current standard of 800 – 1,000μg per day. Despite these low intakes, liver stores of vitamin A are well preserved with advancing age so supplementation would be more detrimental in elderly persons than in younger persons because of a diminished ability to clear this vitamin from the body, leading to potential toxicity (hypervitaminosis A). Nowadays, the majority of the vitamin A in most MVIs is in the form of beta-carotene (about 75% of the vitamin A), a vitamin A precursor found in abundance in your orange and dark green veggies and some fruits. In addition, MVIs designed for this age typically contain little or no iron as this mineral can be stored in the liver. Iron overload is known clincally as hemochromatosis.

 

Beets nutrition information and benefits

Mighty Beets are Back…

Have you ever bought fresh beets? Beets are back ‘in-style’ and add much more to your plate than vivid color. If you have not heard about the health benefits of beets, keep reading…not a fan? Well, maybe that’s because you’ve never tried this hearty root vegetable FRESH. Try ’em the grown-up way (uncanned) and get ready to love a food you never thought you’d like. It’s easy to love fresh beets, and not just for their nutritional advantages. While we often think of beets having a reddish-purple hue, some varieties are white, golden-yellow or even rainbow colored. The sweet, buttery taste of beets reflects their high sugar content making them an important raw material for the production of refined sugar. In fact, they have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, yet are very low in calories.

Peak season for beets is June – October (when they are most tender) and are easy to prepare at home. Pass by blemished bulbs with wilted greens and look for healthier bulbs. You’ll find the prettiest beets at your local farmer’s market. By the way, don’t throw out those greens so fast! They are chock full of nutrients such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron and calcium. Greens can be sautéed in garlic and olive oil. Beets are rich in folate, potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber and contain powerful nutrient compounds that help protect against heart disease, birth defects and certain cancers, especially colon cancer.

Preparing Beets: Beet Recipe

Beets can be peeled, steamed, and eaten warm with butter as a delicacy; cooked, pickled, and eaten cold as a condiment; or peeled, shredded raw, and eaten as a salad. Pickled beets are a traditional food of the American South. It is also common in Australia for pickled beetroot to be consumed on a burger.

An increasingly popular preparation method is roasting beets. To roast beets, trim the greens away from the beets (leave about 1/4″), thoroughly clean beets with a veggie scrubber and place in a baking dish. Add 1/4″ of water to the dish. Cover. Place medium beets (4-6 oz) in the oven and roast for 40-45 minutes (a little less or more time for smaller and larger beets, respectively). They’re done when a knife easily penetrates the beet. Allow to cool in the baking dish. Cut away the ends and slip off the skins. Roasted beets are wonderful on their own or dressed with a vinaigrette, and they’ll keep, refrigerated, for 5 days in a covered bowl.

Approx Nutritional Information: 1 roasted beet: 44 calories; Total fat: < 0.5 g; cholesterol 0 mg; sodium 77 mg; Total carbohydrates 10.0 g; Dietary Fiber 2.0 g; Sugars 8.0 g; Protein 1.7 g.