Wellness Wednesday Recipe: Healthy Carrot Muffins

by MikeMeehan 4/12/2017 10:54 AM

Searching for a healthy Easter snack? The Easter Bunny and your kids will love these whole-wheat carrot muffins.  Ingredients 1¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour 1½ teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground ginger ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 2 cups peeled and grated carrots* (that's potentially a lot of carrots—about 3 large or up to 6 small/medium) ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts ½ cup raisins (I like golden raisins), tossed in 1 teaspoon flour ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil ½ cup maple syrup 2 eggs, preferably at room temperature 1 cup plain Greek yogurt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (also called raw sugar), for sprinkling on top Instructions Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, grease all 12 cups on your muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray (my pan is non-stick and doesn’t require any grease). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Blend well with a whisk. In a separate, small bowl, toss the raisins with 1 teaspoon flour so they don't stick together. Add the grated carrots, chopped walnuts and floured raisins to the other ingredients and stir to combine. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oil and maple syrup and beat together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then add the yogurt and vanilla and mix well. (If the coconut oil solidifies in contact with cold ingredients, gently warm the mixture in the microwave in 30 second bursts.) Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a big spoon, just until combined (a few lumps are ok). Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with turbinado sugar. Bake muffins for 13 minutes, or until the muffins are golden on top and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. If you have leftover muffins, store them, covered, at room temperature for two days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Freeze leftover muffins for up to 3 months. Recipe and photo credit: http://cookieandkate.com/2015/healthy-carrot-muffins-recipe/

7 Smile-Friendly Easter Treats for Your Kids

by MikeMeehan 4/11/2017 2:53 PM

Easter holiday memories might be linked to candy, but these alternative Easter goodies could start new traditions. Here are some smile-friendly Easter gifts to fill the kids’ baskets with this year: Art supplies - Playing with chalk on the driveway is a vivid Easter memory for me. Sidewalk chalk usually comes in pastel colors so it matches the shades of Easter. Crayons, playdough, paint and brushes also create an activity for the kids while the adults are entertaining guests. Trail mix to take on their Easter egg hunt, of course! As kids, when our search was not just in the house, but out in the yard, it was extra special. And with the abundance of food and other treats during this holiday, outdoor activity is a good counterbalance. Try these ingredients for a homemade Easter snack: sunflower or pumpkin seeds, a low-sugar cereal, dried fruit, and bunny-shaped crackers. Carrots - Pick out the ones with the greens still attached for an authentic look. And how fun to share the Easter Bunny’s favorite food! Yogurt covered raisins or cranberries - These Easter goodies still have sugar, but they are a good alternative to consider. Seeds for gardening – To celebrate Easter and spring, start a vegetable or flower garden. Temperatures not there, yet? Start an indoor seedling greenhouse to sit on the window sill. Another activity that can last beyond the holiday! Books with Easter or bunnies as the subject, sure, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to suggest books with a dentist or oral health theme. There are classics like The Berenstain Bears Visit The Dentist and plenty of others from favorite authors like Dr. Seuss and Mercer Mayer. Other educational gifts like puzzles are great ideas because they will still be around after all the treats have been eaten. A New Toothbrush – Even with these alternative ideas, we recognize candy will be consumed on this holiday. So now is a good time to remind and reinforce good oral health habits with your kids. And to go along with that fun new toothbrush, how about some floss, too? Delta Dental has more tips to keep your child’s mouth healthy during sweet-filled holidays and throughout the year. Maybe after this holiday, your children’s Easter memories will include reading a new book with grandpa, playing hopscotch with the cousins, and starting a garden with neighborhood friends. Happy Easter from Delta Dental!

Technology in a Bad Light: The Risks of Digital Eye Strain

by MikeMeehan 3/3/2017 9:14 AM

Most of us can’t imagine a day without technology. Some of us may sit in front of a computer for eight hours at work. Then we might come home and turn on the TV. Throughout the day, perhaps we keep in touch on our smartphone with our significant other. And later, we may see what our friends are up to using our tablet to access our Facebook newsfeed. Technology can connect us. But when we use it, we spend an awful lot of time staring at a digital surface, which poses a risk of digital eye strain. Are You Suffering from Digital Eye Strain? Digital eye strain occurs when we spend too much time staring at a digital surface like a computer, smartphone, tablet or TV. Due to the ubiquity of these items, it’s safe to say we’re all at risk. If you or your child are experiencing digital eye strain, you might suffer from the following: Headaches Eye dryness Eye fatigue Blurry vision Difficulty shifting focus to objects at a distance Staring at screens for a prolonged period of time can wear down the retina, which can also lead to age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Your retina wears down because your eyes have to exert themselves to see an electronic device clearly. Over an extended period of time, the excessive focusing causes your eyes to become fatigued. Unfortunately, many of us are either unaware or not doing anything about it. A recent nationwide survey from The Vision Council showed 68.5 percent of Americans have not discussed how often they use digital devices with their eyecare provider, and 73.5 percent were unaware of eyewear that could protect their eyes from them. The survey also found 87 percent use digital devices more than two hours per day. More than 50 percent regularly use two digital devices simultaneously. Is Technology Giving You the "Blues"? Digital eye strain occurs because of the light emitted from digital devices. Most devices — including but not limited to computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs and artificial lighting — have light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which radiate blue wavelength light. Blue wavelength light is a high-energy light visible to the naked eye. Let’s consider how light travels. Light wavelengths look like this: Notice, the red-light wavelength is significantly longer than the blue-light wavelength. The red-light wavelength is lower energy. Eventually, the wavelengths become so long we can’t see them with our naked eye. This is the realm of infrared light. If the wavelengths become so short we can’t see them, this is ultraviolet (UV) light. You probably already know the sun’s UV rays can cause sunburn. They can also cause corneal surface burns, or sunburns on the eye. What’s worse, ultraviolet light is a high energy wavelength, so our eyes aren’t good at protecting against it. The Reason Your Children Are at Greater Risk Digital devices can be great for children. They can be fun and educational.  But you’ll want to monitor your children’s use, as digital devices can pose a risk for eye strain. Depending on your children’s ages, digital devices can hurt the development of their eyes. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a child’s eyes don’t fully develop until about age seven. But even if your children are older than seven, they might not have the same awareness you do of digital interfaces. Or, worse, they might ignore it altogether, and not put the devices away even if they start experiencing symptoms of eye strain. Six Steps that Will Help You Prevent Digital Eye Strain To prevent digital eye strain, you can take the following six steps: Keep your distance. When using technology, don’t press your face right up against the screen. If you’re watching TV, stay at least 20 feet away. Take frequent breaks. Every 20 minutes, take a break from the digital screen for at least 20 seconds. Use one device at a time. As tempting as it might be, don’t play on your phone and watch TV at the same time. Get glasses with blue-light filtering lenses. Sixty-seven percent of people in their 30s spend five or more hours each day on digital devices, according to Vision Monday, a leading news and news-analysis source for the ophthalmic industry. If working with digital screens is a prerequisite for you, consider purchasing glasses with blue-light filtering lenses. This can shield your eyes from harmful wavelengths. Schedule regular eye exams. Schedule routine eye exams every one to two years for you and your children. Unplug. In a lot of ways, you set your children’s habits for them. If you spend eight hours in front of a computer, only to come home and watch TV, you’re children are probably going to emulate your lifestyle. Schedule time as a family to unplug and do something that doesn’t involve technology. Don’t let digital eye strain affect you or your children’s health. By practicing these six steps, you can keep 20/20 vision for the future!  

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