recipes

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Is a long day at work leaving you with little time left to make a healthy meal?  Let your crock pot do the cooking.

Ingredients:
3 pounds boneless pork loin roast, cut in half with fat trimmed
1 cup water
1-18 oz bottle barbecue sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar, unpacked
2 tbsp hot sauce
½ tsp black pepper
2 cups shredded cabbage and carrot coleslaw, pre-packaged mix if available
10 whole wheat hamburger buns (try Pepperidge Farms®100% whole wheat)

Directions:
Place pork and water in a 4-quart crock pot/electric slow cooker. Cover with lid and cook on high heat for 7 hours, or until meat becomes tender. Drain and discard liquid from pork. Return pork to cooker and shred with a fork. Reduce to low-heat and add remaining ingredients (minus the shredded cabbage and carrots) and cook 1 hour more. Serve pork on a whole wheat hamburger bun and top with shredded cabbage and carrots.

Yield: Approximately 10-1/2 cup servings of pulled pork

Nutrition Information per Serving (bun and cabbage mix included):
Calories: 421 • Protein: 36g • Sodium: 691mg • Carbohydrate: 42g Fiber: 2g
Fat: 11g • Sat Fat: 3g

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Health

“Mini” Relaxation Exercise

BetwMeditation pictureeen the snow and problems with public transit, this has been an incredibly stressful two weeks.  The relaxation response is the body’s natural counter to the stress response.  If start feeling stress creeping in, take a few minutes to try this mini relaxation breathing exercise from the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine

INHALE, pause- 1,2,3         EXHALE, pause, 1,2,3

  • After each inhalation, pause and count: 1,2,3 (breath is held in)
  • After each exhalation, pause and count: 1,2,3 (breath is let out)
  • Do this for several breaths.
Nutrition, recipes

Be Fit Basics: Chicken Corn Chowder

January is National Soup Month. Stay warm this weekend with this corn chowder recipe from the MGH Be Fit program. Freeze any leftovers in single-serve portions for an easy weekday dinner idea.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 pound raw chicken breasts
1 tbsp butter
¾ cup celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 (16 oz each) packages of frozen corn, thawed
2 cups milk (low fat or skim), divided
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¾ cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Heat a large sauté pan and add olive oil to pan; cook chicken about 5-7 minutes per side or until the inside of the breasts reach 165 degrees. Remove chicken from pan and let rest 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or pot, melt butter and add celery, onion, and 1 package of corn; sauté for about 5 minutes. Place remaining package of corn and 1 cup of milk in a blender and process until smooth. Add the pureed corn to the pan with sautéed corn; add remaining milk, salt, black pepper, and cheese and cook over medium heat until the cheese melts. Shred the cooked chicken with your hands (alternatively, you could cut it into chunks) and add to the soup.

Yield: About 6-1 cup servings

Preparation Tip:
-Defrost the corn in the refrigerator or by running it under cold water.

NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING:
CALORIES: 255 calories • PROTEIN: 24 g • SODIUM: 415 mg • CARBOHYDRATE: 15 g • FIBER: 1.5 g •
FAT: 11 g • Sat Fat: 5 g

(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light)
Guest Post, Health

Notes about Pneumonia

By Aparna Mani, MD, PhD
MGH Medical Walk-In Unit

Aparna Mani, MD, PhD

Pneumonia is a disease that has been described since the time of Hippocrates.  Though the ancient Greeks accurately identified the symptoms that constitute pneumonia, it wasn’t until the mid-1800’s that a scientist named Edwin Klebs observed bacteria in the lungs of people who had died of pneumonia, pointing to infection as a major cause of this illness.  Simply put, pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs most commonly caused by infection.  It affects more than five million people in the United States and an estimated 450 million people worldwide each year, thus the World Health Organization has designated November 12th as World Pneumonia Day.

The lungs are composed of airways that bring in oxygen and alveoli (microscopic air sacs) that help deliver it to the bloodstream. The lungs have several defenses to protect against invading bacteria, viruses and other types of microorganisms.  These include mucus producing goblet cells and tiny hair-like projections called cilia—not to mention the body’s own immune system.  Sometimes these defenses may be overwhelmed or breached, allowing a particular microorganism to take hold and fester in the alveoli. The result is a local pool of infection that fills and plugs up the alveolus, much like pus in a skin wound. The sheer volume of infection makes it hard for immune cells to get in and do their job of breaking it down and clearing it out.  A person suffering from pneumonia may experience fever, shaking chills, fatigue, productive cough, chest pain and shortness of breath.  Contact your healthcare provider if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

To diagnose pneumonia, healthcare providers rely on history of symptoms and a lung exam which includes listening to breathing sounds through a stethoscope and percussing the lungs (a special technique of tapping the chest) with their hands.  A chest x-ray may also be done, though it is not always necessary. The main treatment for bacterial pneumonia is antibiotics.  Providers often base their treatment on the most commonly known microorganism given age, risk factors and living environment, though mucus or sputum samples may also be obtained to identify the specific bacteria causing the pneumonia. This allows providers to better pinpoint the appropriate drug to use in treatment. Depending on the severity of symptoms and other risk factors such as age and overall health, healthcare providers may choose to treat an individual as an outpatient or admit them to the hospital.  With treatment a patient may stabilize and begin to improve within a few days, but it may take a few weeks before symptoms resolve completely.

Risk factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol use, immunodeficiency, and chronic illnesses such as COPD, kidney disease and diabetes can increase an individual’s susceptibility for developing pneumonia. Seniors (people 65 and older) and young children are also at increased risk.  The pneumococcal vaccine developed against bacteria commonly known to cause pneumonia is recommended for seniors and anyone with the above risk factors. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether vaccination is indicated for you. In addition to vaccination, pneumonia can be prevented with everyday good hygiene practices such as hand washing, coughing or sneezing into an elbow or sleeve, and taking care of one’s overall health– including keeping blood sugar in good control.

Health

Winter Safety Tips

By Eileen B. Wyner, NP
Bulfinch Medical Group

Eileen W

The calendar tells us that winter begins December 21st. I’ve lived in New Englandall my life and am used to winter beginning anytime around Halloween, so this year I feel like I’ve already received the best Christmas gift ever…fall weather in December!  Alas, the reality is starting to set in and winter preparations are needed. Winter safety is very important for all of us, but presents challenges for people living with Diabetes. It’s better to think about these challenges now when the ground is bare and the thermostat above freezing.  I’ve listed below a few common issues that may occur and could become serious problems if not identified and dealt with sooner rather than later.                                                                                                                                                 

Foot protection:

Daily foot care is one of the most important principles of good Diabetes management. The first place to start is with your boots.  Make sure your shoes fit well—poorly fitting shoes (too big, too small, and too narrow) can lead to skin breakdown, blister formation, and possible infection. You also need to keep your feet warm and dry.  Leaving wet socks on can cause serious problems such as lacerations and blisters that could develop into dangerous infections.  Even waterproof shoes have their limits, so always throw an extra pair of socks in your bag or your desk drawer.  Here’s a tip:  When shopping for boots, try them on with heavier socks (since we usually wear thicker socks in the winter).

Traveling & Commuting:

Foul weather can really disrupt your daily commute to work— as well as long distance travel for work or pleasure— which can impact your schedule when you’re trying to regulate your blood sugars. If you’re commuting on public transportation, trains may be delayed or you may have to walk unexpected distances. When driving, there may be road closures, detours that take you far from your destination, traffic jams, or totally impassable roads. It’s a good idea to carry some extra snacks, water, and glucose tabs with you to prepare for unexpected situations. Severe weather or unsafe road conditions may make it too dangerous to get out of the car to open the trunk for your provisions, so keep some snacks in the backseat at all times and always have a stash of glucose tablets or gel readily accessible in the glove compartment. Take a survey of the trunk and pack it with a sturdy shovel, ice melt, jumper cables, and blankets. Also, make sure you have a working flashlight, extra batteries, flares, a cell phone charger, and a first aid kit. Take your car in for winter maintenance in the fall and always double check that you have enough wiper fluid and antifreeze (try to keep your gas tank full also). I think a great gift to give or receive is AAA membership, so consider that your tip for last minute Christmas shopping!

Frostbite & Hypothermia:

It’s important to stay as warm and dry as you can during inclement weather to prevent frostbite and hypothermia—two very serious cold weather complications.

Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing. In areas affected by frostbite, loss of feeling and color can occur. The early signs include redness or pain to an area of skin—both of which indicate it’s time to protect that area immediately and get out of the cold if possible. The skin may also turn grayish yellow in color and/or feel waxy or numb. Frostbite most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes and can cause permanent damage.  Severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation, Diabetes, and neuropathy and also may affect people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

Hypothermia is an abnormally low body temperature that may occur when you’re exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time, especially if you are underdressed or very wet from precipitation. The body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up your body’s stored energy; if the body temperature gets too low the brain starts to slow down.  Warning signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion and slurred speech—not unlike some symptoms of hypoglycemia. It’s important to be sure your blood sugar is at a safe value, and then try to get as warm and dry as possible and get medical attention as soon as you can.

Miscellaneous:

There are a couple more things to keep in mind. Any of these situations that I have mentioned could cause you to have hypoglycemia:

  • Winter is also the time for illness. Getting a flu vaccine, washing your hands, and getting plenty of rest are the most important steps you can take to good health.
  • Remember home safety, too.  Make sure your heating system is in good working order and you have household carbon monoxide (CO), monitors. If you have a fireplace or woodstove be sure that they are vented properly to avoid fire or CO poisoning.

The most important thing to remember is to try to be prepared…then go out any enjoy all that winter in New England has to offer…the good and the bad.

Health, Heart Health

Breathe, Stress Less

Stress Dictionary Entry

It’s only March, but already this winter is shaping up to be one for the record books.  Along with impressive snowfall totals (just over 70 inches since December according to this Boston.com graphic), the string of snowstorms moving through the area brought along stress and aggravation to everyone from residents and city officials trying to keep roads and driveways clear, to travelers trying to get away.  Shoveling, plowing, salting and scraping are all part of wintertime living in New England, but the stress of post-snowstorm clean-up may also be bad for your heart.  

When facing a stressful situation, whether it’s a presentation at work or the thought of cleaning up the latest foot of snow, the body responds by releasing stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline.  Heart rate, blood pressure and the volume of blood out of the heart all increase. Under normal circumstances the body returns to normal once the stress has passed, but for many people in our 24/7 world, chronic elicitation of the stress response is now part of daily life.  Chronic stress may put you at risk of developing hypertension or heart disease. Yikes! 

Are you feeling a little overwhelmed now?  Stop.  Breathe.  Relax.  

Research by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine here at Mass General Hospital has shown that eliciting the relaxation response (the antithesis of the stress response) can lower your blood pressure and decrease the cumulative effects of stress.  Sitting quietly, take a few slow, deep breaths. Focus on a word or phrase, repeating that word or phrase quietly to yourself on each breath. Continue for 10-15 minutes…. 

There are many different techniques to elicit the relaxation response including diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, mindfulness, guided imagery, yoga or tai chi.

Research has demonstrated that regularly eliciting the relaxation response can have lasting declines in blood pressure. The Benson-Henry Institute offers a 13 week Cardiac Wellness Program for patients with hypertension or heart disease. 

It may not be possible to live a completely stress free life, but knowing a few good strategies for managing that stress can make a difference.  Here’s some good news: spring training has already started.

 What do you do to manage stress? 

(Information reviewed by the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine)