Health Matters | Plan Ahead with Meal Prep

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Plan Ahead with Meal Prep

Everyone is busy in the back-to-school bustle, and sometimes there isn’t time to cook a proper dinner. Before you opt for a frozen meal, try preparing meals for the week on the weekend!

We’re all guilty of throwing away the bag of soggy salad mix forgotten in the back of the refrigerator, but preparing your meat and produce early can save time, money, and your favorite foods!

Here are some tips for preparing a week of healthy meals and snacks:

  1. Cook a large portion of meat and put it in a covered container in the refrigerator. You can use chicken, lean beef, or turkey, and all you need to do is reheat and add to your favorite sides, stir fries or pastas.
  2. Cook a large box of pasta or quinoa and put it in a covered container in the refrigerator. Just add sauce for a quick meal!
  3. Hard-boil eggs for a grab-and-go breakfast or salad topping.
  4. Give all your produce a thorough wash and start chopping. Grill a portion of the vegetables for meals, and then put the raw pieces into plastic containers for snacks.
  5. Make Mason jar salads. Put your dressing on the bottom, firmer vegetables in the middle (think cucumbers and carrots), then lettuce on top. As long as the lettuce and dressing do not touch, the salad will stay fresh for days!
  6. Cook a double portion of your favorite soup and freeze half to stash in your freezer for up to six months!
  7. Crock pot meals cook while you are away and are an easy way to save time while making a delicious, fresh meal. Prepare the ingredients needed to make your favorite dish and set them aside in a container. Then, just put the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning and head on with your day. By the time you get home, you’ll have a hot, home-cooked meal waiting for you!
Having a supply of prepared, healthy meal options makes it easier to reach for salad rather than the take out menu. Take a couple hours out of your weekend to make your favorite meals your you and the family and stay on the healthy track for the rest of the week!

  • Plan Ahead for a Safe Road Trip
    Summer is almost here. Before you pack for a road trip, it is important to be sure your family and home are safe and secure. While this season is one for fun and relaxation, it is also one of the riskiest travel times of the year, and preparing for a road trip can be one of the most stressful parts of your vacation. Nearly 75% of all Americans who take summer vacations plan to drive.

    Here are a few ways to prepare for a road trip that will enhance your overall summer travel experience:

    If you or any family members take medications, be sure a supply is packed for the duration of your get-away. However, do not leave your medicine in a hot car. Heat can affect some medications. Also make note of your physician’s name and phone number, and bring your health and dental insurance cards along—just in case!

    If you are headed to the beach or another sunny destination, be sure to pack sun protection. Bring plenty of sunscreen, floppy hats and UV-resistant clothing. And, don’t forget to pack your sunglasses.

    Be sure to suspend delivery of your mail and home-delivered newspapers, and ask a trusted neighbor, friend, or relative to drive by your residence a few times while you are away. They will be able to ensure there are no packages on your doorstep that would signal you are away. It is also wise to put a few lights inside your residence on timers so they will give the appearance that someone is home.

    When packing, the car can fill up quickly. Try not to take more than you need. It is also advisable to ensure the car’s load is evenly balanced.

    Be sure to familiarize yourself with your travel route. Relying solely on a GPS can lead to dangerous last minute turns and lane changes.

    When traveling long distances, it is important to take frequent breaks to help maintain focus and prevent fatigue. Getting out of the car to move around can also help avoid blood clots in legs and minimize lower back pain.

    If you are traveling with pets, be sure they are secured appropriately and never let them loose in the vehicle. They, too, need breaks outside the car to run around, eat, rehydrate, and answer the call of nature. Treat them just like you would treat a human member of the family. Never leave them unattended in a hot vehicle.

    With a little planning, your summer vacation can be a happy, healthy getaway for you and your family!

  • Air Purifying Plants
    As homes become more energy efficient, they also become more airtight than homes built previously. Most of us spend as much as 90% of our time indoors, and the quality of the air we breathe may have an influence on our health.

    The typical American home has over 100 chemicals that are concentrations 10 to 40 times that of outdoor levels. These chemicals are often a source of air pollution and come from carpeting, glued particleboard, plastics, paints, cleaning materials, and insecticides. Additionally, house dust, dander, mold and mites are all common indoor allergens that are likely lurking in your home.

    Usually we have household plants to enhance the appearance of our surroundings; however, plants may be a solution to poor air quality due to their extraordinary ability to remove a wide array of pollutants and allergens. For example, a single Boston Fern can remove 1,800 micrograms of formaldehyde from the air in about an hour. One of the best room’s to place a houseplant is in the bedroom. The ability of plants to purify and add oxygen to bedroom air can be an important contribution to sleep quality and overall health.

    Some guidelines for the use of plants as “air cleaners” include:

    • Use plants with lots of leaves so that contaminants are more likely to adhere to the plant and be deactivated;
    • Use at least two plants per room (preferably of different types); and
    • Keep humidity levels between 35% and 65%.

    If you are concerned about house plant soil developing mold and mildew, cover the potting soil with a layer of aquarium gravel. Additionally, wipe down the plant leaves with a damp paper towel once a week or so to prevent dust buildup, which can exacerbate allergies.

    A partial list of plants that are especially effective as air cleaners includes:

    • Chinese Evergreen
    • Bamboo Palm
    • Boston Fern
    • Spider Plant
    • Chrysanthemum
    • English Ivy
    • Philodendron
    • Snake Plant
    • Peace Lily
    • Dracaena

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