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Fortune 500 Companies Impact Health Care

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Big Business Influences America's Health Care System

Big Business Influences America’s Health Care System

Financial services provider American Express is the only major credit card welcomed in America’s Costco warehouse stores. Aside from that relationship, the two companies are members of an exclusive organization where Fortune 500 companies join forces to influence the health care industry.

In the world of retail and commerce, Amex and Costco benefit from a symbiotic relationship; American Express offers credit cards, traveler’s checks, and other financial services. Bulk retailer Costco has a steady stream of shoppers eager to pay with something other than cash.

The relationship goes deeper. Both top-ranked companies are some of the best U.S. employers. Although each business operates differently, they both make staff health a top priority. One-way they control the well being of their works is their affiliation with the National Business Group on Health.

The non-profit organization allows titans of industry to brainstorm about all thing’s health care related. Additionally, once employers form an opinion, the group will represent them. The influence of America’s most powerful organizations is strong and helps shape the nation’s health agenda. Sectors that have been impacted include patient safety, the quality of health care, and managing health care costs.

American Express has been ranked one of the 100 top companies to work for by CNN. The company has received acknowledgement for their commitment to reducing the health care imbalance in the workplace.

Among retailers, Costco is a favorite of investors, customers, and employees. The organization treats their team very well by paying them a living wage and providing company-sponsored health insurance. Those factors encouraged Forbes to rank the organization as the number one retailer to work for in 2013.

These two companies are good for each others business. They are also major players in health care, and positive corporate role models.

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How To Get an Obamacare Enrollment Extension

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The deadline to enroll in Obamacare expired Monday, March 31, 2014, or did it?

Despite the federally run HealthCare.gov website having glitches that made last-minute Affordable Care Act enrollment difficult, the White House has met its’ original sign-up target. President Barack Obama announced that 7.1 million people had successfully secured health care coverage using federal or state exchanges.

Those numbers may grow thanks to existing loopholes that will allow more Americans to take advantage of Obamacare. Individuals who began but never completed Affordable Care Act enrollment still have time on their side.

Extend the Obamacare Deadline

Extend the Obamacare Deadline

Visit HealthCare.gov, and log off and then back into the site. After completing  the form, check off the blue box indicating previously enrollment efforts. Federal officials will review and process both online applications and paper applications received by April 7. Medicaid and CHIP applicants have no time restrictions.

Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) allowed states to set up their own health care insurance exchanges and deadline flexibility based on location.

In New Mexico, officials opted to run a state/federal partnership health exchange. Website enrollment is dependent on the Department of Health and Human Services as well as state involvement. That relationship now allows New Mexico residents, to put their name on an exchange waiting list. If approved, they will receive an extension and assistance.

Oregon politicians and health officials created their own exchange. As a result, Oregon residents have an open health insurance enrollment period until April 30, 2014. For state implemented marketplaces, those who started the enrollment process before March 31, have the best chance of still being able to secure health insurance.

The conditions to qualify for state extensions vary. For example, Californians who started their application by 11:59 p.m. on March 31, have until April 15 at 11:59 to complete the process. While Hawaii residents who started their enrollment process on March 31 are being granted more time to finish the process. HealthInsurance.org compiled a complete state guide.

If those techniques do not work, there are still opportunities for health insurance enrollment courtesy of a special enrollment period. Individuals may qualify to enroll in the health insurance marketplace for up to 60 days following life-changing events including job loss, childbirth or marriage. Additionally, the Federal government will make time exceptions for bona fide complex cases.

The next open enrollment period for 2015 coverage is scheduled to begin November 15, 2014 and end February 15, 2015.

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Fast Food Giants at War

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Consumers Should Avoid Fast Food War

Consumers Should Avoid Fast Food War

Fast food chain Taco Bell, recently added a breakfast Waffle Taco and 13 new items to their menu. McDonald’s has bitten back.

Part of Taco Bell’s marketing strategy hinged on endorsements delivered by “Ronald McDonald.” Despite sharing a name with the golden arches clown mascot, these Ronalds sang the praises of the new morning meals and declared war.

McDonalds fired back at the Bell with a Tweet that featured an image of a crouched Ronald, petting a Chihuahua (the old Taco Bell mascot). Their jab, a simple “Imitation, is the sincerest form of flattery,” backed by free coffee giveaway.

As the two food providers duke it out with eggs, processed meat, and potatoes, civilian casualties are expected to rise. While breakfast is a great way to start the day, these options are unhealthy food bombs brimming with calories, sodium and carcinogens.

Eating breakfast is essential to starting the day. The process delivers energy that can help aid in concentration and focus. Additionally, breakfast skippers often weigh more than their morning-eating companions.

In order to lure a breakfast crowd, Taco Bell’s is now offering a Waffle Taco brimming with eggs, cheese, sausage or bacon. For many, a morning trip to McDonald’s includes eating the fast food giant’s signature sandwich, the Egg McMuffin.

No matter what choice, the sandwiches have high sodium levels. Waffle sandwich lovers are at risk of consuming 420 to 670 mg while muffin lovers will get 740 mg of the salty stuff. Either choice makes the fast food breakfasts an unsavory option.

The American Heart Association suggests that adults cap their sodium intake at 1,500 mg of sodium per day for adults. The average American exceeds this limit every day and consumes 3,400 milligrams per daily average; processed and fast food consumption contributes to this trend. Monitoring sodium intake can help lower the nation’s mortality rate.

Ingesting too much sodium can put individuals at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease, kidney stones, enlarged heart muscle, or headaches. Plus high sodium intake will contribute to water retention and make a person bloated, gain weight and that puffy feeling.

What is a hungry, morning riser to do? Let the fast food titans fight their battles in the salty fields while establishing a defensive strategy in the control room of the home kitchen:

  • Before buying any breakfast ingredients, read the ingredient’s food labels.
  • With that info, carefully select the ingredients to improve your favorite meal.
  • Look for waffles or English muffins with more than four gm of fiber, low saturated fat and limited sodium.
  • Skip processed animal products including bacon, cheese and sausage; eating those options increase the risk of dying from cancer and heart disease.
  • Substitute olive oil for butter when cooking eggs to lower total cholesterol amount.
  • Add avocado, this fruit will deliver lycopene, beta-carotene, and healthy fats.
  • Only dip waffle sandwiches in real maple syrup. Real syrup is rich with those manganese, zinc, natural antioxidants and is delicious. Imitation syrup contains processed sugars, corn syrup and other additives.

French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said, “When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die,” food corporations are part of that category. That is why when the fast food industry declares war; individuals are better off in hiding.

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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Donates $30 Million to Help Veterans

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Starbucks' CEO Helping U.S. Vets

Starbucks’ CEO Helping U.S. Vets

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recently announced that he is donating $30 million to help U.S. veterans. The bulk of that endowment will be used to fund brain trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) solution research.

PTSD is a behavioral condition triggered by witnessing a frightening event, or by experiencing chaos first hand. During the moment, the human body will naturally respond with a fight-or-flight response. However individuals suffering from PTSD can have damaged reactions to reality and may feel stressed or scared even when there is no danger.

The mental health disorder is extremely common in both the general population and in returning military veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately seven to eight percent of people suffer from PTSD, while 30 percent of Vietnam veterans, 10 percent of Gulf War Veterans and 11 to 20 percent of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffer from the condition.

PTSD can manifest and appear in several ways. The National Institute on Mental Health has organized the symptoms into three categories that include re-experiencing the initial trauma, avoiding engaging in life and hyper arousal symptoms.

The latest move from Starbucks progressive CEO will help provide returning troops with the treatment and understanding they deserve. Schultz told CBS news “…we’re going to fund the opportunity for significant research and for medical practitioners and science to understand the disease and, ultimately, hopefully, come up with some — a level of remedy.”

It was a trip to Walter Reed Hospital that forced him to realize that was not enough. Of that visit, socially conscious Schultz said, “I was not mentally prepared, or emotionally prepared, for what we saw [there].”
Starbucks commitment to the country’s military began when Starbucks launched an initiative to hire veterans and spouses of active military over a five-year period.

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The Socially Conscious Business Boom

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Socially Conscious Businesses are Booming

Socially Conscious Businesses are Booming

Socially conscious is more than a hot, new branding strategy. It is a way of life for many consumers. The movement will continue as more Fortune 500 companies and soon-to-be heavy hitters are getting in on the action. Worldwide, social-consciousness consumerism is an official trend.

According to The Global, Socially-Conscious Consumer (Nielson Report, March 2012), over 50 percent of consumers under age 40 are willing to pay more to support the efforts of socially responsible companies.

American businesses are responding by ensuring that their practices meet consumer and ethical needs. While each management plan focuses on different products and customized social-consciousness, the common thread consumer loyalty and growing market share.

Coffee lovers adore Starbucks. While the drinks are part of the reason, business ethics is another. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has shown that the “greater good” has a place in the business environment. The company has been implementing socially conscious efforts since the 1990s, and Schultz continually takes the commitment further; American troops are a preferred cause.

Recently Schultz announced that he was donating $30 million to help the country’s veterans. His plans include allocating a large portion of the money towards brain trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder solution research.

This is not the only time the New York native has supported the nation’s military personnel. Previously, Starbucks launched an initiative to hire veterans and spouses of active military over a five-year period.

Both Starbucks and Schultz have other beneficial strategies in place. Schultz has stated that his company would not cut health benefits because of Obamacare implementation. There is now an exclusive Oprah Chai Tea sold at Starbucks and Teavana branches and with all tea sale proceeds going toward youth education charities. He has also been vocal in his support of gay rights.

Schultz is not alone. TOMS Shoes founder and Chief Shoe Giver, Blake Mycoskie, built his $250 billion corporation on the socially responsible design dubbed “One for One.” The business model helps a person in need with every product purchased.

The company launched by selling shoes and for each pair sold, the company donated a pair to a child in need. Now the TOMS model has expanded to provide sight to a person in need (with a sunglass purchase) and provide clean water to developing communities (via premium coffee sales).

In addition to the One for One program, TOMS is making a further commitment to helping those in need. Mycoskie has pledged that the end of 2015, TOMS will produce one-third of all the shoes it donates in the countries that have been receiving the free shoes.

Under the leadership of CEO Steve Ells, Mexican food chain, Chipotle is committed to serving customers “food with integrity” while generating $3.21 billion in 2013 revenue.

The Chipotle model relies on food chains comprised of organic, local and family farm suppliers, not factory farms. The organization has banned Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from their food chain. That system is good for the consumer, animals and the environment.

As new businesses try to mimic success, consumers may have difficulty distinguishing real efforts from branding strategies. Technology already exists to help prevent buyer’s remorse from supporting the wrong companies.

Buycott.com is an app that can help consumers cut through the clutter now and in the future. The tool allows consumers to organize their spending to support causes they believe in while opposing organization not aligned with responsible beliefs. Their database is updated frequently giving shoppers an advantage.

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A Broken Food Chain

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Sip This to Get Fat, Stressed, Rot Your Teeth and for Toxic Vapors

Sip This to Get Fat, Stressed, Rot Your Teeth and for Toxic Vapors

Americans do many things right, but when it comes to the food chain Europeans do it much better.

For over a century, the United States Department of Agriculture has provided nutritional guidelines to promote healthy eating. Despite those efforts, Americans favor fast food soda, burgers and French fries. If that is not bad enough, processed American include ingredients banned in other countries.

Abroad, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is responsible for overseeing the food chain. Locally, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for monitoring food safety. FDA laws require using science to determine a reasonable certainty that additives do not harm consumers. Despite this responsibility, the agency differs from the European counterpart by allowing toxins to enter the American food chain.

Husband and wife team Jayson and Mira Calton, explored unsavory additives in their book, Rich Food, Poor Food: The Ultimate Grocery Purchasing System. Jayson has a Ph.D. in nutrition, and Mira Calton is a licensed certified nutritionist. Together, they investigated the ingredient lists of nearly 40,000 supermarket foods. Their efforts exposed how processed American foods contain harmful additives banned in foreign markets.

So what does the American government approve that the EFSA does not? According to the Caltons, the top not-so-tasty additives include:

  • Artificial Food Coloring: Dyes including Blue #1, Blue #2, Yellow #5 (Tartrazine), Yellow #6, Red #40 can make food colorful. Chemical reactions are responsible for those colors and have no place in food. Depending on the color of the rainbow, artificial dyes cause health conditions including cancer, cell deterioration, and potential DNA mutation.
  • Brominated Vegetable Oil: Soda is  junk food that contributes to issues including obesity, tooth decay, and anxiety. Certain soft drinks also contain BVO as to prevent product separation. More than 100 countries have banned BVOs because of bromine, a chemical that releases corrosive or toxic vapors.
  • Azodicarbonamide: Used to bleach flour, this additive can cause asthma.
  • Potassium Bromate, AKA Bromated flour: This additive is a form of bromine and strengthens dough.
  • Olestra, AKA Olean: A fat substitute that depletes fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT): Used to stabilize food, and although California lists these additive as a possibly cancer-causer, the FDA allows set levels in the food chain.
  • Synthetic hormones rBGH and rBST AKA Recombinant bovine growth hormone and recombinant bovine somatotropin: Both synthetic versions of bovine growth hormone and can cause cancer.
  • Arsenic: Arsenic is in chicken feed and subsequently in chicken. Anyone who has heard of the play Arsenic and Old Lace knows that arsenic is poison.

Until the FDA changes their standards, eating like a European is a smart strategy. Some tips to make that process easier include:

  • Skip fast food and processed foods as those options are lab created to be as addictive as cocaine.
  • Read the ingredient labels of every processed food before buying, and if the list reads like a lab receipt, do not eat.
  • Avoid snacking to prevent “accidentally” eating processed junk foods.
  • Learn to cook. Meals made at home and from scratch tend to be less caloric than restaurant meals plus consumers have full control of the ingredients.
  • Eating at home and sharing food with loved ones will make mealtimes a luxurious experience and much more enjoyable that eating on the run.
  • Try to make every meal a balanced plate of nutrition utilizing local foods, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Instead of munching on light foods, go for full fat options in moderation. The flavors and experience will be much more satisfying and can encourage smaller portions.

Europeans are more connected to where the food comes from and how meals are prepared, that behavior naturally lowers the amount of processed food eaten abroad. Next meal, try to channel a French, Italian or other European eating personality in order to gain nutrition, not health risks.

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The Health Risks of the Most Popular Food

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Fast Food=Pretty Poison

Fast Food=Pretty Poison

Throughout America, there are limitless food options. No matter if a person is a health nut, carnivore or vegetarian, there are plenty of foods available, but some foods are all time favorites. Some of the most popular foods are also the unhealthiest options out there.

HuffingtonPost.com compiled a list of America’s top 11 favorite foods and it is brimming with processed foods including chicken nuggets, hot dogs and ice cream.  The top three spots going to sodas, hamburgers and french-fries respectively. Although the foods are tasty, they can also contribute to health issues.

Soda tops the list of America’s favorite food. The average American drinks 44 gallons or 166.558 liters of carbonated beverages annually. All those bubbles contribute to health issues and for can cost hundreds for the average family of four.

Estimates suggest soda consumption provides 10 percent of the daily calories in the average American diet. That contributes to the country’s obesity epidemic. Refreshing sugary sodas contain empty calories thanks to a mix of sugar and starch; that combo can contribute to overeating and excess pounds.

In addition to the soda/obesity connection, there are other health risks. Research shows that sipping sugar-laden soda can contribute to tooth erosion.The caramel coloring that gives cola the enticing glow contains cancer-causing chemicals. Caffeine laden sodas can contribute to anxiety.

Drinking diet soda impacts dental health can contribute to cancer and weight gain. Additionally, diet soda causes kidney problems, cell damage, reproductive issues, and can screw metabolic rates.

Instead of sipping on that fizzy beverage, choosing water is smarter. Water is free, will protect teeth by washing away simple sugars that help contribute to tooth decay, will ensure proper hydration, and naturally promotes kidney health.

Hamburgers are the next American food favorite, over 50 million of them are eaten each year. While toppings like mayo and cheese add fat and calories, the real culprit is the red meat between the buns.
Research has shown that red meat consumption contributes to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Additional research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health also shows that red meat consumption can shorten your lifespan. A study of 37,000 healthy men and 83,000 women revealed that individuals who ate the most processed and unprocessed red meat had higher mortality rates.

When it comes time to ordering a burger, consumers can make simple tweaks ensure they are getting the healthiest burger available. Options include skipping fatty toppings, substituting whole-wheat buns or lettuce for white bread, and selecting veggie or ground lean turkey patties instead of beef.

French fries occupy the third slot on the list with Americans consuming around 29 pounds of fries each year. Those two billion pounds of potatoes are perfect for dipping in ketchup and gravy, but are not without risks.

Potatoes, oil, and salt are all that is needy to make delicious fries. During that process, the starchy vegetable will absorb the frying oil and add tons of calories and fat to the innocent tuber. Aside from the increase the risk of weight gain, crispy fries can cause cancer because of the cooking process. High-temperature cooking causes a chemical change and acrylamide production; acrylamide is a carcinogen.

The solution to minimizing this health risk is to opt for a baked potato and if ordering fries, do not order extra crispy potatoes. Additionally, storing potatoes in a dark, cool place that is not a refrigerator can help; refrigeration can increase acrylamide production during cooking.

The all-American meal of burger, fries and soda is extremely popular and dangerous. Instead of making this combo a regular thing, opting to eat those foods in moderation can go a long way to improving health.

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Why Raise the Minimum Age

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A Higher Minimum Wage is Good for America

A Higher Minimum Wage is Good for America

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Bureau of Labor statistics from 2013 indicate that 1.6 million hourly employees earned that level of pay. That may change as citizens, politicians, and economists are demanding an increase.

In July of 2009, the federal minimum wage hit its present level. That raise marked an overall increase of over 40 percent for the previous level of $5.15 per hour for all covered, nonexempt workers in 1997. Even with that increase, workers experienced a 30 percent reduction in buyer power when compared to the peak earning potential in the late 1960s (around $10 per hour in 2012 dollars). Now, there is a new movement to increase pay.

There are several reasons to increase that rate. An increase would improve the standard of living for low-income workers, stimulate the economy from increased spending, and create jobs. The hope of shifting the tax burden from the average American back to corporations is another reason to hope for change.

Pew Research shows that the food preparers and retail employees comprise the bulk of minimum wage earners. While corporate employers including McDonald’s and Wal-Mart make huge profits for their shareholders, those profits are spurred by tax dollars. That is because employees of those organizations have to rely on government assistance  to survive.

The Golden Arches are symbolic for many things including fast food, bulging waistlines, and low employee pay. Research conducted by the National Employment Law Project has shown that the low pay and benefits provided to employees by the nation’s 10 largest fast-food companies cost taxpayers approximately $3.8 billion annually with McDonald’s responsible for over 31 percent ($1.2 billion) of that debt.

Wal-Mart, the worlds’ largest grocery seller, also contributes to the problem as for many employees, the pay is low, and benefits are non-existence. Estimates suggest that the corporations’ business model cost taxpayers $1.5 billion annually.

Taxpayers who never visit either of those establishments is still assist employees in need via public assistance programs. Government aid to low-wage workers includes subsidiaries for the Affordable Care Act, income tax credits, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Ironically, research has indicated that 52 percent of fast-food workers and their families rely on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in order to survive.

Policy makers are working diligently to make progress on changing the balance of the equation. Within the past year, states including New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island have already voted to increase the minimum earning rate. Other cities including SeaTac, WA also voted to increase the pay rate for local workers. Additionally, President Barack Obama has announced he will sign an executive order raising the minimum wage of federal contractors to $10.10 per hour.

Congress will more than likely oppose the move to increase the federal minimum wage. Individuals interested in convincing the government branch to move forward can take action by signing a petition that encourages Congress to pass the Federal Minimum Wage Act of 2013/4.

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How to Order Nutritious Fast Food

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Not All Junk Food is Created Equally

Not All Junk Food is Created Equally

Fast food is part of the American way of life; around 25 percent of all Americans have a daily fast food habit. Both convenience and taste help contribute to the trend. That is why consumers need to know how to choose their fast food meals wisely. The wrong choice can contribute to health issues such as poor nutrition, obesity and heart disease.

Believe it, finding nutrition on the run and within budget is easier than expected. The secret is to review fast food nutritional information and to choose healthy substitutions wisely. Some tips for selecting the healthiest fast food option include:

  • Choose grilled anything instead of fried. Crunchy coatings hold in excess grease, are packed with calories and empty carbohydrates.
  • Never supersize or go for combo meals. Instead, order a salad or fruit.
  • Drink water instead of soda to save both calories and money.
  • Swap mayo for plain ketchup and mustard to reduce unhealthy fat consumption.
  • Exchange meat for beans, they are a filling animal free protein source.
  • Opt for toppings including vegetables, avocado and salsa instead of sour cream or cheese. This technique will shave off calories and saturated animal fat. Plus it will help sneak more vegetables into the diet.
  • Run away from creamy dressings, soups and sauces, they are calorie bombs. Instead, opt for red sauce, clear soups and use salsa as a salad topping.
  • If pizza is your thing, opt for thin crust, red sauce and light cheese. Adding toppings such as roasted garlic and onions will add flavor, vitamins and minerals.
  • When a burger craving hits, choosing a veggie patty instead of a beef patty will deliver more nutrition and reduce calories. A veggie patty smothered in mustard, ketchup, pickles, lettuce and tomato, tastes pretty close to the real thing.

My confidant J eats lower on the food chain and avoids meat, poultry and processed meals most the time. That changed when Taco Bell introduced Doritos Locos Tacos; once her favorite snack chip became a holder for taco-filling, making a run for the border became a near-weekly ritual. Because of her passion for the Tex-Mex fast food, she has learned to order wisely so she can feed her cravings and maintain her girlish figure.

For J, one Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco backed by black bean burrito is the winning taste combo. Combined, those two options pack 550 calories 22 grams of fat, primarily from meat and cheese. J orders so her food craving also packs the most nutritious punch. That involves substituting refried beans and black beans for meat, sub guacamole for all dairy and enhancing with pico de gallo. Those substitutions can save her around 100 calories and by adding avocado, she is consuming good monounsaturated fat known for lowering blood pressure.

My other friend “R,” loves chicken and on occasion relies on fast food meals. When that happens, he chooses to dine with the little redheaded girl instead of the king. Wendy’s offers an Ultimate Chicken Grilled Sandwich at 370 calories and 7 grams of fat; R often replaces the honey-mustard sauce with plain mustard to shave off 40 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. Compared with the Tender Crisp Chicken Sandwich featuring fried chicken, mayonnaise, 700 calories and 46 grams of fat, Wendy’s is a smarter choice from the get go.

Eating a perfect diet is tough, especially with delicious temptations on every corner. When it comes to ordering and eating fast food, it is important to know healthy fast food options are available to those in the know.

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If You Can’t Beet Them, Eat Them!

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“You got no time for the messenger,
Got no regard for the thing that you don’t understand,
You got no fear of the underdog,
That’s why you will not survive!”
-Underdog, Spoon

Beets, Does a Body Good

Beets, Does a Body Good

Rooting for the underdog is a favorite American pastime. That is why when it comes to getting great nutrition and flavor I am on team beet. Many people hate beets for reasons including beets taste “too earthy” or “muddy” tasting to enjoy. Those folks have never tasted beets cooked the right way, and I am here to defend the sweet, vegetable underdog.

Anyone who is struggling to eat healthy on a limited budget needs to learn about the humble beet. Buying a fresh bunch of the food will deliver two vegetables in one. The bulbous root that can be pink, white, striped, gold or blue and mounds of leafy greens that top off the roots. A group of organic beets should cost around $1.99 and that small investment will deliver tons of flavor and health benefits.

In their natural state, beets can be unappealing. Pulled straight from the earth the food is dirty and smells like mud. Underneath that brown, there is a sweet root packed with vitamins and minerals. A one-cup serving of beets delivers Vitamins A, B, and C, potassium that assists vital organs, fiber for digestion, and folate. All these benefits come with 59 calories per one cup serving.

The leafy green stems attached to the bulbs are the free bonus with purchase. In addition to providing folate, fiber and Vitamins A, B and C, the greens are a nutritional powerhouse. This food also delivers protein that supports metabolic reactions and assist in the replication of DNA, Pantothenic Acid that is essential for metabolizing proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Plus beet greens also contain Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese.

Beets get a bum wrap, despite the perks and flavor. The secret to great beets is to know exactly how to prepare them from scratch. While it may be tempting to pick up canned beets because they are convenient, that technique has helped earned the vegetables a bad rap. Instead, buying them fresh can allow them to be turned into something amazing.

Selecting beets is the first step. Great tasting and versatile beets should have a rich color, firm skin and leaves that stand straight up. Storing beets is an option, but if you prefer near instant gratification:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • While the oven is preheating, separate the beets from their stems.
  • The food will be filthy so make sure to wash the beets extremely well.
  • After the beets are clean, and the oven is ready, wrap each beet in a piece of tin foil, place on a tray and roast for 45 minutes.
  • The beets are ready a chopstick can be easily pushed into it. Pull out of the oven and let cool.
  • While the beets are cooking prep the greens by washing thoroughly and chopping into pieces.

My favorite beet extravaganza begins with a home cooked crustless beet green quiche. Those efforts will deliver breakfast, lunch or dinner for a total of 6 meals. The roasted beets become a salad; after removing the skin and cutting the beet into chunks toss with fresh greens, crumbled feta cheese and season with olive oil, salt and pepper.

While that combo is a staple in my household, I have also tried other satisfying options. Add beets to smoothies, appetizers, and sandwiches. Beet greens get a second chance in salads and pasta dishes.

When it comes to this underdog vegetable if you can’t beet them, eat them!

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