Catching up with Old Friends – Tips for Healthy Brands and Healthy Living

November 19, 2014

Regular readers know I am doing 50 healthy things in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 33 – making time for old friends.

I just went to happy hour on a Monday night! I never book social events on Monday nights. I am always too focused on starting the workweek, and I usually also try to get a workout under my belt. I never know what the rest of the week will bring, so I start off on a serious note.

However, I have been trying to find a time to reconnect with two friends I’ve known since college, but haven’t seen in ages. We all have busy schedules, and this past Monday night was actually free for all of us. So I broke my Monday night rule, and I’m glad I did. We had so much fun reminiscing about crazy antics in our 20s when we were all single professionals as well as catching up on our current situations.

The venue we chose was actually symbolic. We met at JJ’s, a Kansas City icon that just reopened after almost two years, following a tragic natural gas explosion in which a server was killed. This horrific accident left legions of regulars in mourning. JJ’s has always been the kind of place that feels like home; it certainly embodies the spirit of a brand that makes life better.

As this story mentions, JJ’s regulars anticipated the reopening with a mixture of trepidation and enthusiasm. But it seems that any nerves melted away as old friends picked up right where they left off. I feel privileged that my friends and I were a part of it.



Savor That Cup of Joe – Tips for Healthy Brands and Healthy Living

November 12, 2014

Regular readers know I’m doing 50 healthy things this year in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 32 – Enjoy your coffee.

Sometimes coffee gets a bad rap in health circles. I’ve actually never paid attention to the naysayers. In fact, I remember giving a persuasive speech in a college class about the benefits of coffee. So, let’s just say I’ve been a proponent for a long time. It seems many experts agree.

Coffee contains healthy antioxidants, and current research suggests several other benefits as well. Drinking coffee in moderation may strengthen memory, reduce depression, rev up metabolism and increase energy. It’s also credited with potentially reducing the risk for several diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, gout, prostate cancer and some types of breast cancer.

I can’t imagine starting my day without coffee. I especially like to try new coffee shops when I travel.

Yesterday, I camecup11-low-res-marked across a place called Green Beans in the Pittsburgh Airport.   I struck up a conversation with the manager who told me the chain got its start on military bases. Their mission was to offer some comforts from home to men and women deployed overseas and in areas of conflict. Their on-base cafes offer premium coffee beverages, baked goods and a place to relax.

According to the manager, Green Beans is now expanding its footprint with locations in 6 airports and its first street-side store in Omaha.

I am officially a fan. First, the coffee was excellent. My Americano was the perfect blend of strong and smooth. But what really got my attention was a corporate social responsibility initiative called Cup-of-Joe.

For two dollars, one can buy a cup of coffee for a service member on the Green Beans Coffee website. The coffee is served at the cafes on various bases. You can also write a message that will be delivered to a service person via email. Often, the service members respond, and apparently, several pen pal relationships have been forged.

The website also offers an option to donate to Snowball Express, a charity for the children of our fallen military heroes.

My colleagues at Kuhn & Wittenborn and I are always on the lookout for brands that make life better. I’d say Green Beans fits the bill, and it was especially appropriate I learned about their efforts on Veterans Day. What are your favorite brand programs that are making life better?


Don’t Put Off Your Mammogram – Tips for Healthy Brands and Healthy Living

November 6, 2014

Regular readers know I’m doing 50 healthy things this year in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 31 – get a mammogram.

So here’s the thing. We are all busy. Many women my age are juggling work, children and aging parents. We can barely manage the urgent commitments of each day, let alone make time for “preventive maintenance,” even though we know it’s important.

I have always been diligent in getting mammograms. I have a strong family history, and early detection saved my mother’s life more than 20 years ago. I also have a good friend who did not get a mammogram for three years in a row because she was too busy taking care of her kids and a dying father. She ended up with advanced cancer by the time it was discovered, and she’s had a very tough time.

Yet even knowing all of these circumstances, I almost blew off my annual mammogram this week. I’ve been feeling extra busy, and some unexpected travel has added complication to my calendar. I was so close to canceling my appointment yesterday. But somehow a little voice in my head urged me to go.

I’m glad I did. It took less than an hour and hurt less than the flu shot I got just prior to my exam. And the good news is that the results were normal, so I can rest easy for another year.

If you haven’t gotten a mammogram this year, what are you waiting for? I’m not buying the busy excuse. All of those people you are busy taking care of need you to be healthy.

Break Out of Your Produce Rut – Tips for Healthy Brands and Healthy Living

November 3, 2014

Regular readers know I’m doing 50 healthy things this year in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 30- try a new fruit or veggie.

A lot of people say eating enough fruits and veggies is one of their biggest challenges when it comes to healthy eating. It’s definitely easy to get into a rut – either out of habit or for fear of not liking the taste of something new. I know plenty of intelligent adults who easily regress into picky kid mode when it comes to produce, especially veggies. I think many of us remember the mushy, canned green stuff, e.g., spinach and asparagus that our mothers forced on us during childhood.

Fortunately, our current options for fresh produce are much more abundant. I hated asparagus as a child. Now, it’s one of my favorites. Just for fun, a group I’m in has been challenging each other to regularly try new foods this year. Some of my top picks have been kumquats, a tart fruit, and purslane, a leafy green that resembles a weed.

But today, my colleague, Erin Carlson, introduced me to my favorite so far: the watermelon radish. photoIt literally looks like a watermelon with a luscious green rind and bright red center. Originally from China, this nutritious root vegetable has long been recognized in that culture for its healing powers, as it is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Apparently, one can eat a whole cup of watermelon radishes for only 16 calories too.

Just one bite of its zingy taste with the just the right amount of heat had me hooked. Erin said she scored this luscious treat at a local farmer’s market. Apparently, fall is the peak season, although they may be available year round.

I challenge all of you to try a new fruit or veggie today. Send me your pics, and we’ll post them.

Beating Brownbag Boredom – Tips for Healthy Brands and Healthy Living

October 20, 2014

Regular readers know I’m doing 50 healthy things this year in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 29 – bring your lunch to work.

I’ve long appreciated the health and affordability virtues of bringing lunch from home. I have a lot of lunch meetings outside of the office, but I’ve made a renewed effort this year to pack a lunch whenever possible.

Unfortunately, I’ve found myself falling into a bit of a rut. My friend, Brian Martorana, says I can make anything into a salad. I think he’s right; I eat a salad of some type almost every day. Fortunately, I genuinely enjoy salads.

However, I was pretty excited when we recently had the chance to partner with our friends at GEHA to spice things up a bit. GEHA is the second-largest national health plan and the second-largest national dental plan serving federal employees, federal retirees, and their families. Just like the rest of us, federal employees are looking for better lunch ideas.

Health and wellness are important brand tenants for GEHA, as it provides resources for a variety of health challenges. So, it stands to reason that GEHA has a great answer to the question, “What’s for lunch?”

Kuhn & Wittenborn partnered with The Culinary Center of Kansas City on GEHA’s behalf to highlight five healthy and tasty recipes:

  • Asian Chicken Sandwich with Sriracha Mayo
  • Quinoa with Arugula
  • Roasted Barley Salad
  • Tuscan Bean Soup
  • Whole Grain Pasta Salad
Roasted Barley Salad

The delicious Roasted Barley Salad

Click here to see the videos we produced and view the recipes. Bon appetit! And please share some of your favorite lunch ideas.

Boiling Your Bones – Tips for Healthy Brands and Healthy Living

October 13, 2014

Regular readers know I’m doing 50 healthy things this year in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 28 – bone broth.

With cold and flu season just around the corner, it might be time to take a new look at an old home remedy. Many in the Paleo and autoimmune recovery communities are big on bone broth these days.

Proponents say it improves digestion, inhibits infection, fights inflammation, and promotes strong bones, teeth and nails.

Apparently, the gelatin, glucosamine and amino acids that are extracted from the boiled down cartilage are all natural healing agents.

Here’s a recipe I recently used to make broth from a whole chicken carcass.

Bone Broth

From the Heal Your Gut Cookbook, Boynton & Brackett


- 3-4 pounds beef marrow and knuckle bones

- 2 pounds meaty bones such as short ribs

- OR a whole chicken or turkey carcass

- ½ cup raw apple cider vinegar

- 4 quarts filtered water

- 3 celery stalks, halved

- 3 carrots, halved

- 3 onions, quartered

- Handful of fresh parsley

-Sea salt


  1. Place bones in a pot or a crockpot, add apple cider vinegar and water, and let the mixture sit for 1 hour so the vinegar can leach the mineral out of the bones.
  2. Add more water if needed to cover the bones.
  3. Add the vegetables bring to a boil and skim the scum from the top and discard.
  4. Reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 24-72 hours (if you’re not comfortable leaving the pot to simmer overnight, turn off the heat and let it sit overnight, then turn it back on and let simmer all day the next day)
  5. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, throw in a handful of fresh parsley for added flavor and minerals.
  6. Let the broth cool and strain it, making sure all marrow is knocked out of the marrow bones and into the broth.
  7. Add sea salt to taste and drink the broth as is or store in fridge up to 5 to 7 days or freezer up to 6 months for use in soups or stews.

What are some of your favorite fall home remedies?

Find A Chicken Man – Tips for Healthy Brands and Healthy Living

October 9, 2014

Regular readers know that I am doing 50 healthy things this year in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 27 – local free-range chicken.

So, I’ve had a “chicken man” since way before it was cool. I first met Mike Martin, who owns 4D Acres, back in 2008 when there used to be a farmer’s market right outside my office on Crown Center Square.

I have never been much of a meat eater. I’ve just never really liked the taste, even as a child. In fact, I could easily be a vegetarian. However, as a mom with two hungry kids and a carnivorous husband, I’ve had to strike a balance over the years. Consequently, chicken has been a huge staple on our menus.

But I’ve also been worried about stories in the media of tainted chicken feed and horrible processing houses. So when I met a local, trustworthy source, I was ecstatic.

Mike and his wife, Dee, raise free-range chickens and emu on their farm in Louisburg, KS. That first farmer’s market is long defunct, but I’ve followed Mike, Dee and their son to various markets over the years. I’ve also had the pleasure of visiting their farm, and Mike now actually delivers to my home during the winter months.

free range chickens in pasture_full

Once we tasted their chickens, my family and I were hooked. It’s hard to explain the difference between 4D chickens and those from the grocery store. Of course, they are tender and juicy, but more than anything they just taste “clean.”

Mike and Dee also produce emu meat and a wide range of emu-oil skin products. I can attest that the skin products are great. Alas, though, I just can’t make myself eat the emu meat. But several Paleo friends tell me it’s awesome.

The benefits of eating local are much more widely publicized today than ever with proponents touting both health and economic benefits. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of farmers markets in the U.S. has nearly doubled since 2008.

Farmers like Mike and Dee are making a big difference in our local economies and our communities’ health. And they’re building strong brands that deliver on real promises while they’re at it.

I encourage you to find your chicken man today.


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