recipes

Be Fit Basics: Tomato Asparagus Whole Wheat Carbonara

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and spears cut into 1 inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
8 ounces (half a box) whole wheat penne pasta
2 ounces pecorino cheese (½ cup grated)
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 eggs
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

Instructions:
In a large saucepan, boil water for the pasta. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium heat and then add the asparagus; cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes soften, stirring occasionally.

When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente (see the package for directions). Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the cheese, salt, pepper, and eggs; whisk to fully combine. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving about ¼ cup pasta water.

Add the reserved pasta water, egg mixture, and pasta back to the saucepan. Stir in vegetables and cook on low until the sauce thickens slightly (this will only take about a minute). Top with basil and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories 340 • Protein 15g • Sodium 420mg • Carbohydrate 40g • Fiber 7g • Fat 9g • Sat fat 3g

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Fitness, Guest Post, My Story

Gardening for Body and Mind

By Rebecca Ocampo
Project Coordinator

phlox

Medulla Oblongata, Phlox Subulata, Calamagrostis Acutiflora, Panicum Virgatum – they may sound alike and look alike but are all very different. The medulla oblongata is the lower stalk-like section of the brain. The rest are plants: beautiful creeping phlox and exotic perennial grass. The photograph to the right is Phlox Subulata or creeping phlox. They bloom in the beginning to late spring and are perennials. They are used for garden edges or “fillers” near a stone wall.

There is an old Chinese proverb that goes like this: “If you drink tea, you will be happy for a day. If you roast a pig, you will be happy for a week. If you get married, you will be happy for three weeks. If you garden, you will be happy forever.”  My love of gardening peaked recently when I moved to the suburbs and found myself in an apartment surrounded by beautiful and lush forestry. Never did I imagine that gardening would be one of my priorities outside of work. It’s very relaxing and a healthy way to exercise. I’m outdoors and not connected to anything electronic.  Most of the time, I do not use my gardening gloves and dig right in the dirt.  It’s like making cake batter without utensils, if you will.  The texture is soothing to the skin.  It may have something to do with childhood, like making mud pies at the beach.

When I was growing up in the Philippines, my family’s ancestral home was surrounded by a variety of fruit trees (banana, avocado, mango and jackfruit) sugar cane, bamboo, and a variety of tropical and exotic flowers including different shades of hibiscus – all surrounding an in-ground (almost Olympic size) swimming pool. Flash forward to the United States where my mom, brother, and I visited several garden centers every Sunday. They would never agree to go to a mall, so it was either another pair of shoes for me or a Panicum Virgatum which is a metallic blue (sounds like shoes to me!) grass that blooms in late summer and grows up to 3’ in height and approximately 18” wide. It has pretty blue blades during the summer and turns to golden and bright yellow blades in the fall.

I mostly grow perennials:  orange and red tiger lilies, pink and white English daisies, bright orange poppies, vinca with purple flowers.  There are purple irises, red knock-out roses (tough roses that will come back every year no matter the weather) and some annuals like impatiens and pansies as well. The benefit of gardening is twofold.  First, it’s a good form of exercise because you rake, mow the lawn, pull weeds, thatch the grass, prune trees, and design your garden so it’s esthetically pleasing. Second, gardening exercises the mind. There is a calmness and peacefulness in gardening. It’s a proven source of good mental health awareness, and releases tension. It means I have escaped confinement from my cubicle. It’s a form of exercise that soothes and calms my mood after a hectic day at the office.

Health

Spring Cleaning for Your Health

By Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group

Eileen Wyner, NP

I think it’s safe to say (knock wood) that winter is over and spring has arrived in  Boston. I’ve finally sent my puffy coat to the cleaners, packed away my scarves and Uggs, and begun to plan for the sunshine and blue skies. I seriously believe in “spring cleaning” because my mother drilled it into me as a kid. As an adult, I see her point about cleaning. I’d like to put another spin on “spring cleaning” and share some tips on how it can apply to taking inventory of your health and improving your diabetes control.

This was a very hard winter even by New England standards, and could undermine the best of intentions. I know personally as well as from what my patients have shared with me that the cold, ice, and snow made it very hard to keep up things like exercise and doctor appointments.  The cold and dark made it hard to exercise at home, while macaroni and cheese made many of us feel a lot better. Now is the time to take stock of the past and make improvements as needed.

Medication Review

  • Go through all of your prescriptions to check for any that have expired or you are no longer being prescribed (this also refers to any over the counter or non-prescription medications). Check with the Department of Health or your local pharmacy to find the safe way to discard these medicines.
  • Look through your diabetes testing supplies and check test strips for their expiration date. Check that you have an active and extra glucometer battery. If you have glucagon in your cabinet check that it is up to date.
  • Check to see that all of your prescribed medications are current with your pharmacist and let the doctor’s office know if you need updated prescriptions. It’s a good idea to have an updated medication list with you at all times.

Diet Review

  • Take some time to reflect on your eating habits. If you’ve fallen off track, set up an appointment with your RD CDE. Don’t feel upset or guilty if you need extra help – we’ve all been there! The important thing is that you recognize the need to make changes.

Exercise Review

  • Now is the time to get exercising again. If winter slowed you down, please don’t just resume your usual routine. Start slow and gradually increase your activity as tolerated. Make sure your exercise footwear fits well. You may also need to check your blood sugar more frequently to check for hypoglycemia.

Appointments

  • Medical appointments may have been cancelled by you or your provider because of bad weather. Review your last primary care visit, diabetes visit, ophthalmology check, dental, and podiatry appointments and schedule any that are due.

Disaster Planning

Those of you who have read this blog in the past know that I tend to focus (some say obsess) on planning for the unexpected. Natural and man-made disasters are totally unpredictable and can cause serious obstacles for managing your diabetes.

  • Go through all your emergency supplies and check for content, expiration dates of food, water, batteries, and ALL medical supplies. Review your list to see if certain things are still needed or if new things need to be added.
  • You should review your disaster care plan at least every 6 months (or sooner if you’ve needed to use it). I like to do this in the fall and spring because of the weather. I’ll be sure to have several warm blankets and fleeces within easy reach in October, but in May will probably take a few out but add more bottled water given the great danger of dehydration with high temperatures and bright sunshine. I’ll also add insect repellant with DEET and sunscreen. The American Red Cross has excellent up to date data on their website for disaster preparedness so please check it out at www.redcross.org.

OK…are you ready to tackle some spring cleaning? I have another idea:  lace up the sneakers and head outside to see the daffodils bloom. Happy Spring!!!

Nutrition

Savoring the Bounty of Spring

By Erin Boudreau
Dietetic Intern

FruitCollage

Summer is right around the corner, and with the warmer weather comes an increase in available fruits and vegetables. These products are colorful, flavorful, and nutritious, but they also spoil very quickly. Quality and flavors of all produce will begin to diminish the moment they are picked, so it is best to enjoy as soon as possible after purchase. Proper storing will help extend their life and also has a major impact on quality and taste. Most fruits and vegetables can be stored in the fridge, with a few exceptions. Many products can also be frozen to extend their life even further. Remember, even with proper storage techniques produce will still spoil quickly, so be sure to buy only as much as you can enjoy in a few days to prevent waste.

  • Store bananas, pineapple, citrus, and other tropical fruits in a cool, dry area. They should NOT be stored in the fridge. Citrus fruit will absorb the odors of the fridge but will last for a long time at room temperature. The sugar is most concentrated at the base of a pineapple, so store it upside down for a few days in order to allow the sugar to distribute throughout the fruit.
  • Potatoes will keep fresh for a couple of weeks if stored in a cool, dry, ventilated place (not the fridge). Cold temperatures can turn the starch in a potato to sugar, creating a sweeter potato while warmth and light will cause them to sprout. Sweet potatoes are more delicate and should only be kept for about a week.
  • Garlic and most types of onions should be kept in a well ventilated area at room temperature or cooler, but not refrigerated. Vidalia onions have higher water content and can be stored individually wrapped in paper towels in the refrigerator.
  • Tomatoes are very finicky. Refrigeration can give them an unpleasant, mealy texture, and can alter their taste and aroma. They’re best stored unwashed at room temperature.
  • Mushrooms should be kept in a cool, dry place and lightly washed immediately before use.
  • Asparagus should be stored in the fridge with a damp paper towel wrapped around the stems. You can also stand them in a glass of cold water with a damp paper towel wrapped around the tops to keep them crisp.
  • Store carrots in a plastic bag in the fridge to hold in moisture. Wash and peel right before using.
  • Herbs should be washed, dried completely, and stems clipped prior to refrigeration. Store in a glass of water or with a damp paper towel wrapped around the stems. A plastic bag or paper towel can be wrapped around the leaves to lock in moisture.
  • Break off lettuce leaves and dip them in a large bowl of cold water. Dry completely with paper towels or a salad spinner and store in a plastic bag with paper towels in the fridge.
  • Apples will keep in the fridge for several months.
  • Mangos, peaches, plums, and pears can be ripened at room temperature, and then kept in the fridge to prolong their life.
  • Melon can develop a rubbery texture if kept in the fridge, and should never be frozen.  Storing at room temperature is best.
  • Berries are fragile, and have a very short self-life. Store in the fridge and wash lightly just prior to use. Fresh berries can also be frozen for later use.
  • Wrap rhubarb in plastic and store in the fridge. This fruit also holds up well in the freezer.
(Post reviewed by Anne Lukowski, RD, CDE. Foodnetwork.com was referenced for this article)

 

Announcements, Fitness

Spring/Summer Fitness Twitter Chat

A big thanks to everyone who tuned-in to our fitness chat this week – our best one yet!  We’ve put a transcript up on Storify, so if you missed it you can still catch up.  Lots of good info on starting a fitness routine in there, so definitely worth a read.


MGH logo with blue circle

Join us Wednesday, May 22nd at 2pm EST for a chat on starting a fitness routine for spring and summer.  Mike Bento, Personal Trainer at The Clubs at Charles River Park, will lead the discussion and answer your fitness-related questions.

Discussion topics will include:

  • Is cardio or weight training better for diabetes?
  • Are machines or free weights better for strength training?
  • Is there a best time of day to exercise?

Follow #MGHDSME for more details.  If you’d like to submit a question for our chat, e-mail diabetesviews@partners.org.

Find us on Twitter: @MGHDiabetesEd

Fitness, Guest Post

Changing Seasons, Changing Habits

By Monica

Changing the way we do things, especially if it’s something we’ve done for a long time, is the hardest task anyone can ask.  We create a comfort zone of tranquility, serenity and calmness that our mind comes to prefer.  But it is not always the best.

As we get older, our appetite changes.  Our metabolism is different too, and we burn fewer calories.  We need to change the way we eat and learn to substitute in healthier foods.  And in order to continue to maintain a good healthy lifestyle, our daily routine needs to shift in a more active and productive way.  It’s not always easy, but it can be done with support from friends and family.

Regular activity is not just for little kids or young people – we all need to be active, and it’s never too late to start.  We had such a long winter; now that spring is finally here we have a chance to go outside and enjoy the warmer weather.  It’s also a perfect opportunity to change some of your habits.  Rather than just sitting in the sun, go for a little walk.  If you can, bring along a friend or co-worker.  You’ll be doing something good for yourself and getting a chance to be social at the same time.

Is there an activity you’ve always wanted to try?  Go for it!  Just about everyone has something they’ve said they’d like to try “someday.”  Well, why not now?  If you go to a gym, ask if they will let you try out a class to see if you like it.  There are also some programs in Boston that plan community fitness events or offer free classes like yoga and Zumba in spring and summer.  The Boston Natural Areas Network is another great group that organizes community activities like bike rides, canoeing and gardening – great opportunities for families to do something healthy and active together.

Let the change in seasons inspire you to get out there and get moving.

Health

Love your Eyes

By Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group 

Everywhere I look I see evidence of the wonders of Mother Nature. All the bent over trees of winter are now lush and green. The front walks in my neighborhood are covered in bright purple and pink phlox and the Public Garden is carpeted with vibrant and brightly colored tulips. Blue jays and robins fly around the yard. Imagine for a moment what your life might be like if you couldn’t see all this beauty clearly, or even at all, with your own eyes. This situation is a reality for many people living with Diabetes. Visual impairment and blindness can occur when Diabetes is poorly controlled and Diabetes is the chief cause of blindness for people between 20 and 74 years of age.

Retinopathy is the most common eye problem resulting from Diabetes. The retina, located in the back of the eye, is the light sensing lining responsible for making the pictures of what we see. Retinopathy occurs when there is damage to the tiny blood vessels in this lining, as they may become swollen and blood may leak into the retina. There are two types of retinopathy: Nonproliferative and proliferative retinopathy. Nonproliferative retinopathy (NPR) means there is blood or fluid leaking into the retina, swelling occurs, and the retina may be deprived of oxygen. Proliferative retinopathy (PR) means the eye grows fragile new vessels that can cause visual damage and blindness.

The American Diabetes Association states in their 2011 Guidelines of Care that all patients with Diabetes should have a screening dilated eye exam (DEE) annually by either an ophthalmologist or optometrist. There are some practices that also use high quality photographs of the eye in conjunction with the dilated exam, but photos shouldn’t be used in place of the DEE. Neither NPR nor PR causes pain but both forms are progressive if not identified and treated. In fact, NPR causes no symptoms and is only identified during the screening exam. Please report IMMEDIATELY any sudden visual changes such as flashing lights, floating particles, blind spots, or looking through a veil to your eye doctor as these could represent PR and require urgent evaluation.

Prevention is the key. It is imperative to keep your blood sugar in the best possible control so work closely with your Diabetes educator and health care provider to determine the best goal for your blood sugar. It is also important to keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in good control and see your eye doctor as scheduled.

If you are diagnosed with retinopathy, treatment may include laser therapy to seal the leaking vessels and destroy abnormal vessels directly, cryotherapy to freeze the abnormal and leaking vessels, and/or surgery.

Now that you understand how to care for your eyes, schedule your eye appointment, and go treat yourself to a long look at the beauty of spring. Happy spring!!