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

Ingredients:

- 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

Method:

  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.


Rethinking Coconut Oil – Tips for Healthy Brands and Healthy Living

October 6, 2014

Regular readers know that I am doing 50 healthy things this year in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 26 – Coconut Oil.

I think the current coconut oil craze is one of the most successful rebranding stories ever. In the very recent past, tropical oils — coconut, palm, etc. were shunned as pariahs of heart health. In the world of saturated fats, most people thought they were the worst.

But as it turns out, a closer look reveals that unlike most other saturated fats, coconut oil is built primarily of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).  These fats metabolize much differently than their long-chain cousins, which are found in abundance in meat and dairy products.  Apparently, digested MCTs are not stored as fat in the human body.  Instead, they are transported directly to the liver where they are quickly converted into energy.

 

OrganicCoconutOil

In fact, some researchers now go so far as to say that coconut oil actually decreases the risk of heart disease, as it has been shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) levels.  MCTs in coconut oil may also work to reduce triglycerides, improve blood coagulation, and perform antioxidant functions in the blood stream.

In addition, coconut oil advocates tout a myriad of additional benefits such as increasing energy, fighting infection, improving brain function, aiding in weight loss, and conditioning skin and hair.

It seems like coconut oil is everywhere these days, and I’ll admit I’ve jumped on the bandwagon. I think it’s great for cooking, but my favorite use is make-up removal. It’s especially effective on eye make up.

What other products can you think of that have made a complete turnaround in the court of public opinion?


Stay Up All Night – Tips for Healthy Brands and Healthy Living

September 27, 2014

Regular readers know that I am doing 50 healthy things this year in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 25 – Camping with 40 Teenagers

photo

So, a blog about healthy living is supposed to encourage sleep, right? Well, after last night, I’m here to argue that skipping one’s early bedtime might be just what the doctor ordered.

My son is vice president of the student council at his school. A fall campout for the whole group is a longtime tradition. When the email came asking for parent chaperones, I quickly volunteered my husband’s and my services. I felt kind of an obligation since our son is one of the senior officers of the group. And we have all the gear from our family’s many backpacking adventures, so I figured it would be no big deal.

As soon I agreed to the job, though, a small knot formed in my stomach that grew exponentially with each conversation I had with other parents who couldn’t believe we had agreed to this responsibility. As the date grew closer, my anxiety rose.

What if someone got hurt or sick? What if there was some middle-of-the-night drama that had to be refereed? What if someone broke the rules?

Well, all of these fears were unfounded. Instead, we had the pleasure of spending the night with an incredible group of young adults who reveled in old-fashioned fun. I ate three s’mores, laughed out loud at their antics playing games like “Capture the Flag,” and got chills by the campfire listening to their spooky stories.

Despite my lack of sleep, I feel as energized today as I have in a long time. One of the other dads commented that it was fun to see the kids running around outside instead of playing video games or looking at their phones. Indeed.

But even more than that, I am so encouraged by the bright, witty, thoughtful conversations I witnessed and participated in. These kids are awesome. They are polite, collaborative and fun. Our future is in great hands.


There’s a Miracle Cure in Your Pantry – Tips for Healthy Brands and Healthy Living

August 28, 2014

Regular readers know that I am doing 50 healthy things this year in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 24 – Apple Cider Vinegar

So, the excitement of celebrating the big 5-0 apparently took a toll on me. I developed a wicked summer cold – complete with major sinus congestion, headache and sore throat. I have not had one in years, so I’d forgotten how miserable they can be.

I was determined to find a natural remedy before resorting to drugs. My research led me to the wonders of organic, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (ACV).

When my son and husband came home and found me bent over a large stockpot with a towel on my head, they did a double take – but only for a moment. They are used to my antics.

photo

It turns out that breathing in the steam of ACV boiled in water works miracles for sinus congestion and, according to some, actually prevents infection. I also added a chopped raw onion to the brew, as some homeopaths praise onions’ anti-viral effects.

In addition, I put a teaspoon of ACV and a teaspoon of raw, local honey in tea and drank 3-4 cups per day. After practicing this regimen for two days, I was remarkably better. I will definitely do it again – supposedly it helps with seasonal allergies too.

ACV advocates go on and on about its additional health benefits – from aiding in digestion to clearing up problem skin. Proponents say it’s good for shinier hair, whiter teeth, lower blood pressure, weight loss and a plethora of additional ailments.

In addition, it’s supposed to be a great household cleaner for bathrooms, windows, dishes and more. Here’s a list of 50 ways to use it.

Suffice it say, I’ve joined the ranks of ACV supporters. And from a branding standpoint, I’m jealous. The market leader is a brand called Bragg. Their website has a folksy feel that isn’t very sophisticated, but I suppose it’s authentic. I am amazed at the number of brand advocates who can be found in a quick Google search. And talk about brand utility. I’ve never seen a product that is as widely revered for so many alternative uses.

What are some of your home remedies? Please share.

 


Surprise! – Tips for Healthy Brands and Healthy Living

August 26, 2014

Regular readers know that I am doing 50 healthy things this year in honor of my 50th birthday. Here’s number 23 – embrace the unexpected.

So, the big milestone actually arrived. I’d been looking toward my 50th birthday with a mix of trepidation and enthusiasm since New Year’s. I publicly declared that I would do 50 healthy things this year, and I’m about halfway there.

The good news is that I survived the big day, and all is well. However, I learned a great lesson in the days leading up to it. Those of you who know me well understand that I am extremely inquisitive (okay more like downright nosy.) I like to blame it on my background as a journalist, but truth be told, I think it’s just ingrained in my personality. I’m also very scheduled (controlling?) in most aspects of my life. As such, I am very hard person to surprise. And frankly, spontaneity makes me a little anxious.

However, I had a feeling that my husband and kids would try to pull something over on me to celebrate my big birthday. Therefore, I’ve been on high alert for several weeks. My husband has been snatching up his phone to make sure I don’t read his texts and unexplainably hanging up on phone calls when I walk into the room.

We were scheduled to go out for drinks and dinner with another couple on the Friday night before the big day. Frankly, I was suspicious that these plans were a decoy. But then, my husband really threw a wrench into my suspicions by telling me to pack an overnight bag and be ready to leave by 9 a.m. on Saturday morning.

I was lamenting about my confusion to my mother, and she replied, “Just go with the flow on this. It will be good for you to not be in charge for once.” At first, I was a little miffed by her comment, but deep down, I knew she was right.

Granted, I juggle a very busy schedule between professional and personal responsibilities, so I need to be organized. But on the other hand, maybe being a little less structured could be good.

So what happened? Well, we did go to drinks with our friends as planned. However, when it was time to move to our table for dinner, things shifted. My husband, Randy, guided me into a different room where my extended family and very closest lifetime friends were waiting. Surprise! It was an amazing celebration that both touched and humbled me. It was better than anything I could have imagined — and believe me, I had imagined many possibilities.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

My key takeaway is that sometimes outcomes can be even better than expected if one just lets go a little and lets things unfold vs. trying to plan every move. I think it’s good advice for both healthy brands and healthy living.

It’s been a fun journey, and I look forward to more healthy activities between now and December 31.


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