Healthy Holiday Tips

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The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many it also becomes a time for over-eating and weight gain. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. Over a lifetime, holiday weight gain can really add up. The holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun. By implementing a few simple tips you can stay healthy through the holiday season. Continue reading

Luck of the Irish

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, and while it’s very easy to get caught up in the fun, happy-go-lucky nature of the holiday, there are many interesting facts about the worldwide celebration.  For starters, research by BIGinsight.com showed that Americans spend an average of $38.94 every year on St. Patrick’s Day—that’s $4.5 billion! (1) Also, Americans exchange around 8 million cards for the Irish holiday.  Although St. Patrick’s Day has only been observed in American since the late eighteenth century, it’s clear it has made a lasting impression. Continue reading

Is gluten-free the way to be?

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Within the last couple years, a gluten-free diet has made a name for itself, appearing in health and fitness magazines as the trendy new thing to try. On the flip side, Celiac disease has given people no choice in the matter—a gluten-free diet can be the difference between life and death.

So, let’s chat and chew about whether or not you should go gluten-free.

What is Gluten?

First and foremost, Gluten is a protein, which acts as the glue that holds food together, helping to keep its shape. Although gluten is found in many foods, the top three include wheat, barley, and rye. 

What is Celiac disease?

Google1 explains Celiac disease as “a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine.” Furthermore, gluten prevents the small intestine from absorbing parts of food that are essential to staying healthy. The National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse estimates that more than 2 million people—or, 1 in every 133 people—are affected by Celiac disease in the United States2.

Why Gluten-free?

While a gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat someone with Celiac disease, there are advantages for people experiencing other health-related issues. Erica Kannall3, registered dietitian and certified health/fitness specialist, states that, “eliminating gluten may improve conditions ranging from digestion to thinking.” Rather than take another prescription or rely on caffeine, if you’re experience symptoms similar to these or the ones below, maybe a gluten-free diet will do the trick.

  • Digestion: The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) states that removing gluten from your diet reduces chances of stomachaches, abdominal cramping, gas, bloating, and more4.
  • Neurological: According to Kannall, eliminating gluten can lead to improved moods, better focus, and clearer thinking as well. NFCA also found that “people with gluten sensitivities report that eating gluten causes headaches, foggy thinking, ADHD-like symptoms, and even depression4.”
  • Inflammation: Inflammation in body tissues or itchy rashes can result from gluten sensitivity. The Mayo Clinic reports that people with a gluten intolerance may experience joint pain, muscle cramping, and numbness after consuming gluten5.
  • Energy: Gluten sensitivity prevents proper digestion and absorption of vitamins/minerals the body needs, which can lead to malnutrition and a drop in energy levels.

What’s on the menu?

As expected with any lifestyle change, individuals who choose to be gluten-free might feel deprived at first because of dietary restrictions. Surprisingly though, there are far more Gluten-free products—even bread and pasta—than one might think. Check out this list, provided by the Celiac Disease Foundation6, which discusses safe gluten-free options, as well as foods you must avoid.

New to gluten-free baking? Get started with this Guide to Gluten-Free Baking.

Or, jump right in with some of these gluten-free recipes:

Regardless of why somebody chooses to live a gluten-free lifestyle, it’s important to note that this diet is not as cut-and-dry as others. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before making changes to your lifestyle or diet. If you’re interested in trying a gluten-free diet, check out online forums for people’s feedback on their personal experiences.

Have something to add? Join the conversation – leave a comment below!

References:

  1. Google Search; Celiac disease
  2. Prevention Magazine
  3. Healthy Eating / SFGATE
  4. National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)
  5. The Mayo Clinic
  6. Celiac Disease Foundation

Holy Guacamole!

In celebration of National Guacamole Day, I enlisted help from one of CRBG’s very own employees—her guacamole recipe is a huge hit around the office!  Irma, in our accounting department, was kind enough to share her recipe with us below:

Guacamole Recipe:

  • 3 avocados
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 key lime
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Black pepper
  • Salt or garlic salt
  • Splash of milk (optional)

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To start, prepare your tomatoes, cilantro, onions, and garlic, so you can easily mix them in with the avocado.

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In a medium mixing bowl, mash avocados to chunky consistency. Add splash of milk while mashing* (optional). Mix-in chopped onions, tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro. Then squeeze lime juice. Add black pepper and salt.

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Once you’ve mixed together your ingredients to your satisfaction, either serve immediately or store in the fridge for an hour. Quick tip: squeeze lime juice on your guacamole and cover with foil before placing in the fridge—this will help preserve it’s freshness.

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Although guacamole is one of my favorite things to eat, I’ve never made it before—I was surprised by how easy it was to whip up! Despite having to fight with a few slightly unripened avocados, I was happy with the outcome!

BONUS: Guacamole’s main ingredient is also one of the healthiest foods you can eat: avocado.  There are a wide-range of health benefits for which avocados take the cake, including anti-inflammatory benefits, cardiovascular health benefits, regulation of blood sugar, anti-cancer benefits, and more! Check out this infographic for more information on what avocados are good for! 

Have a guacamole recipe of your own? Feel free to share with us on our social media channels or try making some using the recipe above!

A Bittersweet Good Bye – Literally!

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With Labor Day fast-approaching, I have a bittersweet feeling toward the holiday weekend.  On one hand, it’s a chance to see family and friends, BBQ, and of course, it’s a day off from work; but on the other hand, it’s the last official weekend of summer.  While I still try and wrap my head around where the summer even went, I decided to go exploring for some tasty recipes for this weekend’s festivities to serve as a nice distraction!

Below is a combination of healthy sides to compliment your grilled dishes, but there’s an added bonus – included are some of CRBG employees’ favorite recipes, which we encourage you to try!

  • Seven-Layer Salad  This layered salad is a crowd favorite at one employee’s summer BBQ’s! This dish is one you can mix-n-match to your preference, but most commonly it includes fresh vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peas, and peppers, as well as hard broiled eggs.  Top it off with a little cheese, sour cream, and bacon bits for extra flavor!  
  • Watermelon Fruit Bowl – This colorful blend of fruits-in-a-fruit is one employee’s quick-and-easy treat at any family BBQ!  Feel free to get creative with your watermelon’s design—check out some examples on our Pinterest page for inspiration! 
  • Pasta Salad – While everyone has their favorite pasta salad they carry to every summer get-together, here’s a new one worth trying.  It’s less than 300 calories per serving!
  • Classic Deviled Eggs – While I’ve never tried Deviled Eggs, they usually turn up at almost every outdoor shindig I attend… this leads me to believe they are a popular dish.  So, if you’re looking for an easy starter dish to make this weekend, many of my fellow co-workers say these are the way to go!
  • Fresh Corn and Zucchini Sauté – As a vegetarian I am always looking for new dishes to try… although my friends and family would probably argue that I’m a VERY picky eater.  Anyway, this bright green and yellow dish caught my eye and would be a great compliment to any outdoor BBQ! For more ideas, check out Allrecipes’ Labor Day side dishes!

Last but certainly not least, dessert.  My mom told me when I was younger, “you’ll never forget that dessert has two ‘S’, because everyone always wants seconds!”  It’s true—if it were up to me, I’d start every meal with dessert… and since I couldn’t narrow down the list, I’ve decided to share this link, which includes a great selection of sweet treats to choose from!

So, no matter what dish you decide to make, enjoy this last bit of summer! From everyone at Compass Rose Benefits Group, we wish you and your family a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend! Enjoy good food and company—don’t forget to share your favorite dishes with us on any of our social media channels!