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There’s Power in Prunes!  Good for you in more ways than one!
By Carol LeBeau
3/27/2015 5:07:28 PM


Prunes. The word alone can still make me smile. 

As kids, Mom would fix stewed prunes for my sister, brother and me whenever we had trouble, well….going! For years, I actually thought prunes were medicine…like aspirin or cough syrup!

By junior high, I knew better, but still laughed hysterically with my friends while singing,

“Prunes, prunes, the musical fruit.  The more you eat, the more you toot.  The more you toot, the better you feel. So let’s have prunes at every meal.” (rolling on the floor laughing!)

What else could you expect from a bunch of pre-adolescent goof balls who believed bodily functions were the source of all humor?!

The poor prune’s reputation as a laxative may be unfortunate because it overshadows the fact that prunes are not only sweet and tasty…they’re also a rich source of nutrients!

Did you know just one prune contains up to five percent of the recommended daily intake of many essential minerals and vitamins…in addition to its legendary dietary fiber?

Not a fan of prunes? You’re not alone. In fact, women ages 25 to 54 react so negatively to the idea of prunes, the California Prune Board pressured the FDA to change their name to the more appealing “dried plums” (which they technically are!)

And it worked! Sales of the super-healthy purple fruit have hit new heights! But prunes (or shall we call them dried plums?) are proving to be far more than a digestion remedy.

Because they contain high levels of phytonutrients called phenols, prunes can protect the brain from free radical damage and can help prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Prunes and plums help prevent Type 2 diabetes and obesity. They’re high in the soluble fiber that help keep blood sugar levels stable.

The soluble fiber in prunes also helps lower cholesterol, improves bone health and are a good source of vitamin K and beta carotene…nutrients that can actually make you happier! So you see, my childhood song is true!...the “more you eat, the better you feel!”   

Still, when it comes to constipation, the prune is a rock star…more effective than psyllium, according to recent studies. Only 30 calories, the soluble fiber in prunes also makes you fill up faster.

So for a whole bunch of reasons, I snack on prunes, chop them up in salads and oatmeal and include them in recipes…like this de-LISH dish from my friend, Susan Haber.  This one’s SO good, I make it for company!

Susan’s Chicken Marbella
(adapted from the “Silver Palate” Cookbook)


½ cup olive oil

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 cup pitted prunes

½ cup pitted Spanish green olives

½ cup capers with a bit of juice

6 bay leaves

1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed

¼ cup dried oregano

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), quartered

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup dry, white wine

¼ cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped


1. Combine olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350. 

3. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.

4. Bake, basting frequently with pan juices, until thigh pieces yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice when pricked with a fork, 50 min. to 1 hour.

5.With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter.  Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro.  Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

Soooooo good!  Enjoy!

Do It Yourself Remedies (that could save you a trip to the doctor!)
By Carol LeBeau
3/18/2015 2:38:23 PM


Nagging pain in my right shoulder had me out of the pool much of last fall.   Gratefully, I’m now back in the water and feeling much better. I owe it all to good chiropractic care, icing, stretching exercises and tumeric. It’s true! At the recommendation of my chiropractor, Dr. Matt Goene, DC, rather than OTC anti-inflammatory medication, I took advantage of the natural anti-inflammatory found in the tangy spice often found in Indian cuisine.   

Within a week of popping a 600 mg tumeric capsule a day, I had less pain and got back in the pool, slowly regaining the strength I’d lost during my injury.

With a treatment so simple-- so natural, I began searching for other do-it-yourself remedies that might come in handy. My research turned up hundreds of natural cures and pain relievers. Here are some of my faves! 

Did you know blueberry water is good for urinary tract infections? Just like cranberries, blueberries contain substances that prevent bacteria from sticking to your bladder. To ward off UTIs, combine one part unsweetened blueberry juices with two part water and sip daily.

For those pesky hot flashes, try deep breathing. It really works! When you’re in the throes of a hot flash, deep breathing can calm your nervous system quickly. Take a deep breath in for a count of four. Breathe out slowly and fully for a count of four. Repeat four more times in succession.

Dry, cracked skin? Use Epsom salts! Just smooth your elbows and heels with a paste made from ½ cup Epsom salt and ½ cup water. Exfoliate by gently massaging into rough areas, then rinse with water. (For this queen of dry skin, it sure beats costly medicated creams!)

For colds, gargle with salt and green tea. For pimples dab a bit of honey on the blemish. It works as a natural antiseptic to stop the growth of bacteria that can cause breakouts. If you struggle with insomnia, try sprinkling a ¼ tsp. of nutmeg into warm milk and sip before going to sleep. The common spice is also a mild sedative.

I was amazed to learn that olives are good for nausea. They contain tannin…chemicals that help slow the excessive production of saliva (one of the first symptoms of motion sickness.) I haven’t tried this one yet, but will pop a few olives the next time I feel woozy!

A quick stroll is great for a brain jolt! When you’re feeling mentally tired, take a brisk, five-minute walk. Bad breath? No worries. To battle halitosis and whiten teeth, combine a cup of water with 1tsp baking soda, swish and spit! Baking soda help fight smelly bacteria and combats dry mouth.

Vinegar is good for toenail fungus, yoga improves libido, zinc-rich foods promote healthy hair growth. The list goes on!

So before investing in one of those pricey hair growth products, try popping a handful of zinc-packed pumpkin seeds, pecans or cashews for longer locks. (Could that have been Rapunzel’s secret?

(Sources: A lengthy list of doctors, naturopaths, dentists, nurse practitioners and authors found in the May issue of “Woman’s Day” Magazine.)


“50 and Fabulous!”  A party you won’t want to miss!  (Plus, you’ll help the Salvation Army!)
By Carol LeBeau
3/9/2015 11:28:02 AM


The Salvation Army’s annual Women of Dedication Luncheon turns 50 in April…and I’d like to personally invite you to the party!

Co-Chair, Connie Conard and I promise you’ll have a great time while supporting the many vital programs of the Salvation Army in our community.

It would be a joy to have you join us Tuesday, April 7 at the beautiful Hilton Bayfront Resort for a festive, fun-filled and inspirational event called “50 and Fabulous!” as we honor the 2015 class of 15 truly fabulous women who consistently dedicate their time, talent and resources to help people in need.

We’ll also take a trip down memory lane as we celebrate the hundreds of fabulous Women of Dedication who have been making a difference in our community for 50 years.

Back in 1965, The Salvation Army became the first San Diego non-profit organization to publically honor extraordinary local women…shining a light on their selfless service to others. Women of Dedication (WOD) is now the largest fundraiser of the year for The Salvation Army.

Please consider joining us April 7. You can start early (10:30 am) and shop till you drop at our 15 amazing boutiques. If you feel lucky, buy some tickets for our fabulous Opportunity Drawing packages (one of which contains an exciting “LA Experience…” including tickets to the finals of “American Idol” in Los Angeles!) Then enjoy a lovely lunch and entertainment by San Diego’s masterful Master Chorale!

ABC 10’s Kimberly Hunt has graciously agreed to emcee the event and her personable, sportscaster husband, Billy Ray Smith will don his auctioneer hat…encouraging you to bid on tickets to “Dancing With The Stars,” the “Bill Walton Experience” and a fabulous fur!

Money raised will go to support the new Women’s Emergency Shelter at the SA’s Door of Hope.

It has been such a blessing to work closely with the dedicated soldiers of The Salvation Army this past year and meet some of the amazing men and women who have experienced changed lives through the Army’s many effective programs.   

Their slogan is “Doing the Most Good,” and I’ve seen firsthand how the SA does the “most good” with every dollar they receive.

And what a treat to be part of a vibrant committee of hard working, caring, dedicated, Godly and fun-loving women.  

Join us, if you can…and bring a friend.  You’ll have a great time while doing the most good.

A Boost for your Brain…at the New and Improved Golden Door!
By Carol LeBeau
3/6/2015 3:05:02 PM


A week’s stay at the Golden Door had been on my “bucket list” since moving to San Diego in the early ‘80’s. But I couldn’t justify the cost…so assumed I’d probably never experience the uber-luxury spa nestled in the hills of Escondido.   

One day, several years ago - and quite out of the blue - I got a call from the program director at the Golden Door! She wanted to know if I’d consider being a guest speaker sometime. Consider it done!!  

After excitedly accepting her unexpected invitation, I was informed there would be no speaker fee. My “payment,” she said, would be a stay at the Golden Door the week I was scheduled to speak.

For a moment, this speaker was speechless!  

Regaining my composure, we chose a week and three months later, I found myself in a kind of heaven on earth—spending my days getting massages and facials - taking vigorous mountain hikes and restorative yoga classes - eating delicious farm-to-table cuisine - sleeping like a baby in my cozy casita.  

And yes, I also gave three presentations that week… to some of the most fascinating women I’d ever met. I still remember every detail.

Now under new ownership, the Golden Door is undergoing somewhat of a makeover…both physical and philosophical. But don’t worry! The spa treatments, fitness classes, and healthy cuisine remain in place at the world-famous spa.

Peace, tranquility and refreshment for the soul are still a mainstay. Golden Door founder, Deborah Szekely, set the standard for spas worldwide - creating the perfect venue for guests to achieve health, wellbeing and refreshment for the soul.

But times are changing and the Golden Door remains cutting edge. “In addition to refreshing the body and spirit,” says Golden Door General Manager, Kathy Van Ness, “wouldn’t it be nice to get your brain refreshed?!”

I talked with Kathy on a recent visit to the “Door” as a guest for their first Friday night speakers’ series featuring world-renowned artist and photographer, Don Barber. 

“We’re all bombarded with data about exercise, hormones and the latest diet,” Kathy explained. “How about sharing some intellectual conversation?”

So, after filling our bodies with a culinary feast of tender Dover sole and roasted vegetables on a bed of seasoned brown rice and quinoa, we filled our minds with a compelling presentation and breathtaking photos by Don Barber.  An informative interview was followed by a lively Q & A session with Barber.

Artists, composers, authors…even Hollywood actress, Jamie Lee Curtis…all presenters for the Golden Door’s Friday night speaker series.  What I wouldn’t give to fill my mind with the wisdom of author, Gail Sheehy.  Famous for her knowledge of the stages of life, Sheehy has also been a guest speaker.

Kathy put it this way, “If you could go to dinner with Rembrandt, wouldn’t you want to ask him a question?”

And wouldn’t that be a lot more interesting than another lecture on menopause? I’m just saying…..

The Incredible, Edible Egg…More than a Slogan!
By Carol LeBeau
2/27/2015 11:51:25 AM


Throughout my TV news career, covering elections was by far the most stressful and difficult. Hours of live reporting with no script...my head exploding trying to recall details about the candidates, campaigns and issues.  

What got me through those chaotic election nights? Weeks of study, detailed notes (cheat sheets!) and a three-egg omelet with cheese and veggies for before work. 

Seriously, eggs are my go-to food whenever I need to be sharp, calm and focused for the long haul.  

It may be a cute marketing slogan, but I can give you a half dozen reasons for replacing your usual breakfast with the “incredible, edible egg” when you need to be at your best.   

If you start your day with cereal or toast instead of eggs, here’s a wake-up call. Eggs have six grams of high quality protein.  A protein-packed breakfast helps sustain mental and physical energy throughout the day (or night of election coverage!) 

Eggs are rich in choline, which promotes normal cell activity, liver function and the transportation of nutrients throughout the body. (It’s like a commuter train for vitamins and minerals!)

With no carbs or sugar, you get eat a well-balanced breakfast without widening your waistline!

Eggs have all nine essential amino acids…leucine, lysine, methionine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, histidine, valine, threonine and isoleucine. And while they may be hard to pronounce, these amino acids really ARE essential.  
Eggs also packed with Vitamins B2, B12, A and E.

Unlike most cereals and yogurt, eggs don’t come with a complicated, lengthy ingredient list because they contain only one ingredient. Eggs. Period. And at fifteen cents a serving, eggs are the least expensive source of high-quality protein.

Of course, eggs are naturally gluten-free.  Always have been.  Always will be. That’s good news because there are relatively few gluten-free breakfast options.

But, what about cholesterol, you ask? Well, recent studies have exonerated the misunderstood egg as a contributor to coronary heart disease. In fact, a University of Connecticut study found eggs actually improved good cholesterol in adults with metabolic syndrome.

So, give yourself permission to crack open a couple of eggs! It’s a great way to get a health boost (and power through the toughest day.)

To get you started…here’s my favorite egg casserole recipe. It’s easy, yummy and a gift from my friend and awesome cook, Carol Morrison!

Carol’s Green Chile Frittata
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
10 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup butter, melted and cooled
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1 pound Jack cheese, grated
3 (4-oz) cans diced green chiles
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9X13-inch baking dish. Mix flour and baking powder. Add eggs and butter. Blend well. Mix in remaining ingredients. Pour mixture in prepared dish and bake 35 to 45 minutes until set.

Great for brunch! Thanks, Carol!

The Eyes Have It! Give your eyes a lift with a touch of make-up that stays….permanently!
By Carol LeBeau
2/19/2015 3:45:21 PM


If my house were on fire, before running from the burning building, I’d grab my cat, antidepressant meds and eyeliner...in that order!  

I may be exaggerating just a bit (Tom would certainly be on the list) but I really do love my cat, Bing…can’t get along without my mood meds and I desperately need eyeliner!

Seriously, first thing in the morning or after a swim, I look like a cadaver! What’s worse, several of my swim pals look great climbing out of the pool. For years, I thought God had simply blessed them with well-defined eyes…until they finally copped to the truth.  

You guessed it. Permanent eye make-up!  

After years of “thinking” about it, I finally took the plunge. As a Christmas gift to myself, I recently had an eyelash enhancement procedure…and I LOVE it!

My friends with perpetually pretty eyes highly recommended San Diego cosmetic tattoo artist, Michele Little. (michelelittle.com) 

I’m glad they did.  With twenty-two years of experience, confidence and super-steady hands, Michele slowly transformed my pale eye line into one that makes me look more awake…more alive…without makeup!

The process is much like getting a tattoo. But in this case, Michele applies the ink with a “liner” needle. It’s actually a group of three tiny needles very close together that trap the ink (I chose black/brown) inside the cluster. Each time the needle penetrates the skin, a droplet of pigment is released into the hole the needle makes.

Rather than a solid line of eye color, I chose what’s called lash enhancement, for which shades of color are placed in a sprinkle or line at the base of the eyelash hairs only. The result? My lashes actually appear darker and thicker and the overall look is more natural.

There was little or no discomfort…mostly a “tickling” sensation…thanks to the lidocaine gel Michele applied. No bleeding or bruising, but the next two days, I was a little puffy and felt like I’d had a good cry.

It looked dark and shiny at first, but within days, the top layer of pigment flaked off…leaving behind a soft, subtle eye line. For special occasions, I can add more liner or color…but for everyday, my eyes are ready to answer the door for the UPS guy…unashamed!

Not only that, putting on my “game face” takes less time and effort. (And now that I’ve seen photos of Michele’s work with permanent lip color, I’m tempted. What freedom not having to apply and re-apply lipstick all day! Hmmmm.)

FYI.  Michele Little owns Pacificoast Cosmetics. She’s been practicing the art of cosmetic tattooing since 1992. She has a solid background in cosmetology, color theory and commercial art training.

In addition to lash lines, eyebrows and lips, Michele is also skilled in areola tattooing following breast cancer treatment.

But, whomever you choose for your procedure, make sure he or she is licensed, uses strict sterilizing techniques and has lots of experience. In the right hands, you’ll stay healthy and be happy with the results.

(Just wish I’d done it ten years ago!)

Fighting the Flu with Food!
By Carol LeBeau
2/12/2015 11:51:27 AM


For the record, I have never been overly concerned about germs.   

Disgusting door knobs on public restrooms? No biggie. Sticky handrails on escalators? Couldn’t care less. And I almost never observe the “five-second” rule when an errant bite of food falls to the floor. 

As I child, my Dad assured me germs were good. Germs, he told me, help build a healthy immune system.

But there I was last week, onboard a plane bound for the east coast, meticulously wiping down my tray table, seat belt buckle and overhead lighting button with anti-bacterial wipes before taking off. 

You see, as much as I fear being labeled a crazy germ-phobe by my seat-mate, the prospect of picking up the flu bug in the 747’s crowded cabin really freaks me out!  

Dire warnings from health experts nationwide have gotten my undivided attention! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn this year’s flu spread could reach epidemic levels.  In January, flu-related hospitalizations were more than double that of January 2014.  

For young children and those sixty-five and older or immune-compromised, the flu can cause serious complications that can even turn fatal. But even if you’re not at risk of dying from the flu, who wants to put up with the misery and lost weeks recovering from the nasty virus?  

So, I got a flu shot and take reasonable precautions to avoid getting slammed with a case of the flu. I wash my hands often, try not to touch my eyes, nose and mouth and  avoid close contact with someone who’s sick.

But with another flight to the East Coast in my near future, I’m going to do more. Did you know you can bump up your immune system by eating more flu-fighting foods?

In addition to eating a variety of colorful fruits and veggies and drinking 10 glasses of water a day…check out how these “power” foods can help keep your immune system on guard:

The live cultures in yogurt are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. Oats and barley contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities.

Garlic, the potent onion relative, contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. I recently learned that shellfish - oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams - contain selenium.  It helps white blood cells produce cytokines - proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body. (BTW - salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from respiratory infections.)

And don’t forget chicken soup! You know it makes you feel good, but your favorite soup also blocks the migration of inflammatory white cells that gather in the bronchial tubes when you’re sick.

An amino acid called L-theanine is an immune-booster found in both black and green tea. (Plus it feels so good going down!) And if you’re low in zinc, you could be at increased risk of infection. So now and then, have a bit of beef to shore up your zinc stores.

Keep your skin (first line of defense against bacteria!) strong with the Vitamin A found in sweet potatoes give your immune system another boost by increasing the activity of white blood cells with mushrooms. Add a handful pasta sauce, sauté with a little oil and add to eggs or just pile a bunch of ‘rooms atop a frozen pizza.

Oh, I’ll keep using Purell like crazy while sneezing into my elbow. But with these superfoods on my side, I’m not giving in to the flu without a fight!  

How ‘bout you?!

Decompress Your Mind and Body…Just Float!
By Carol LeBeau
1/28/2015 3:56:59 PM


On the trip of a lifetime three years ago, Tom and I joined several friends on a 10-day, unforgettable visit to the Holy Land.

Our tour of Israel was a thrill!  Among the highlights, a time of prayer at the Wailing Wall, a challenging hike up the desert fortress, Masada and, like the early followers of Jesus, an emotional baptism in the Jordan River.  

From the river, we traveled to the sea…the Dead Sea…for a nice swim.   Actually you can’t really swim in the hyper-salinated sea.   The water is so super-salty, all you can do is float. So you just lie back and enjoy bobbing around…relaxing in a warm, soothing, natural mineral bath. The sensation was so lovely, I didn’t want to leave! 

Guess what? The other day, I got to re-live that marvelous experience…not in Israel, but in San Marcos!   In a cozy, little nook behind Grand Avenue I entered “A Quiet Place” (AQuietPlaceFloatationSpa.com) and a time of relaxation and peace in its state-of-the-art floatation spa.

Carol Le Beau's Health Journal, Palomar HealthSpa owner Richard Fraccalvieri greeted me with a warm cup of Tranquility Tea, seated me in the comfy waiting area and prepared me for what to expect.  Floatation therapy, he said, is a “luxurious escape from the constant stress of life’s daily pressures and a natural way to heal the body and mind.” He said the concept is, indeed, similar to the mineral salt bath I experienced at the Dead Sea.

Nearly 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt is dissolved into the spa tub of skin temperature water to create this effect. After showering off lotions and hair products, I stepped into the large, egg-shaped pod and lowered myself into the warm bath. (I wore a Speedo, but you can float in the buff, if you prefer!)

My mind drifted back to my Dead Sea experience…as I floated effortlessly on my back. While you may want the pod opened slightly, I chose to close it completely, so my “float” would be lightproof and soundproof. The gentle roll of the water freed me of gravity, noise and other distractions.

For some, the experience is like deep meditation as body and mind achieve calmness…entering into a theta brain wave state and a profound state of relaxation.  I found myself praying and thinking about things peaceful and lovely.

While some doctors and athletes use floatation therapy for neurological, circulatory, respiratory and digestive issues, others claim a decrease in chronic pain, depression and anxiety. But all who use the therapy regularly agree it feels great!

If, like me, you enjoy being surrounded by water…you will love the hour-long float.  But even if you’re not a water person, give it a try. You don’t even have to get your face wet…and you can’t sink if you try!

Besides, Grandma always said a warm Epsom salt bath would do me good. Right again, Gram!  


Ian’s Award-Winning Chili!
By Carol LeBeau
1/21/2015 11:09:07 AM


Ian's Award-Winning Chili - Palomar Health Champion Carol LeBeauHave I told you about my amazing nephews?   I’ve been blessed to be “Aunt Carol” to three of the finest young men you’ll ever meet.  

A gifted massage therapist, Colin is the oldest at 27. Handsome and bright, Colin also has a heart as big as all outdoors!  

Nineteen year-old Devin, a sophomore at (his auntie’s alma mater!) the University of Northern Iowa is tall, blonde, adorably mischievous and can run like the wind. 

Sadly, I don’t get to see them as often as I like because, along with their Dad (my little bro, Carter) and Mom, Dana, Iowa is home. 

So imagine my delight when my middle nephew, Ian, announced he was moving to California’s Central Coast. Now that he’s just a five-hour road trip away, Aunt Carol and Uncle Tom get to connect with him a lot more often.

Good-looking, athletic and creative, Ian is also brilliant…with a great job at a large, computer software company in San Luis Obispo (SLO). What I didn’t know about the multi-talented “E-Man,” (as he’s affectionately known by friends and family) is he’s apparently also skilled in the kitchen.  

With a little help from his Mom’s recipe (and a couple of “secret weapons,” Ian recently won a chili cook-off in SLO…hands down! Now that I’ve tried E’s chili, I’ve got to hand it to him. It’s absolutely delicious (and hot as a witch’s broom handle!!)

Ian agreed to let me share it with you…as long as his Mom gets proper credit. (I told you my nephews are amazing!)  

Note the “secret weapons…”Mr. and Mrs. T’s Original Bloody Mary Mix and Baker’s chocolate.  

LeBeau's Chili aka "Mom's Chili"

1 lb. Italian sausage
1 lb. hamburger
1 onion diced
3 celery stalks w/ leaves
1 t. salt & pepper (or to taste)
3-4 T. chili powder
3 T. Cajun seasoning
1/4 C. brown sugar
16 oz. pork n' beans
16 oz. dark kidney beans
16 oz. navy beans
16 oz. black beans
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can beef consume
2 squares of semi-sweet bakers chocolate
1 bottle Bloody Mary Mix (Mr. & Mrs. T's Original)

Brown the hamburger/sausage and use the grease to sauté your celery and onion. Add everything else!  Simmer for one hour.
Make it the day before! And enjoy!

Thanks “E” and Dana!!

Do Happier People Live Longer? How ‘bout an attitude adjustment in the New Year!
By Carol LeBeau
1/15/2015 3:05:55 PM


She’s San Diego’s favorite weathercaster – for good reason. Pat Brown delivers the weather on 10News with accuracy, clarity and a positive spirit that’s hard to resist. With a twinkle in her eye, a lilt in her voice and her signature sunny smile, you have to wonder can cold fronts, high-pressure systems and Doppler radar images make someone that happy?

The short answer is yes! As a friend and media colleague, I’ve known Pat Brown for 25 years and believe me, she’s the same Pat on and off the air. Since I tend to be one of those moody, melancholic, glass-half-empty people, I’ve long admired and envied Pat’s perpetual positivity.

What makes her so chronically cheerful?

“I love what I do,” exclaims the winsome weathercaster. “When you’re talking about the weather, it’s a beautiful thing. God’s the artist and I get to tell the story!” (See what I mean?!)

Pat admits she was definitely born with “happy genes,” but believes her upbringing stirred those genes to expression. “I was blessed to grow up in a loving family.”

But Pat adds she also chooses to be happy, no matter her circumstances.

“I’ve had huge down events in my life – losing my Mom, getting divorced and being laid off. It hasn’t always been easy.” But each time her world spins out of control, she stays anchored with encouragement from her friends and hope from her faith. “Maybe,” Pat muses, “I’m not always happy, but I’m usually content.”

Pat is also intentional about finding joy in life. She keeps her life simple … not a lot of “stuff” and free from debt. “I love to read, travel and learn. I’m happy when my mind is stimulated.” She also revels in life’s simple pleasures – a good night’s sleep, being outdoors, volunteering and her cool cats, “Romeow” and “Buddy!”

According to Palomar Health Psychiatrist Benjamin Hidy, M.D.,Pat exemplifies a lifestyle conducive to joy and contentment. “Pat is clearly comfortable in her own skin,” says Dr. Hidy. “Her happiness is not tied to material possessions, wealth or achievement. She finds time for herself and has a good sense of who she is in the world.”

Pat says she’s also grateful and doesn’t take life for granted. “I get up every morning and thank God for another day.” Then she enjoys her favorite breakfast, (granola and yogurt with pomegranate seeds!) with her kitties sprawled on her lap.

But Pat Brown is not only happy. She’s healthy. And it begs the question; can a sunny outlook mean fewer colds and less heart disease? Do hope and curiosity somehow protect against hypertension and diabetes?

Dr. Hidy says research on this new avenue of public health is presently inconclusive, but, he says, evidence shows stress and depression can harm the body. (See Q&A, below)

Full of excitement at the prospect of a weather system that might bring rain, Pat Brown continues to delight her viewers with her trusted forecasts and unbridled joy.

Q&A With Palomar Health Psychiatrist Benjamin Hidy, M.D.

Forget dieting and exercise! Why not make 2015 a happier New Year with a little attitude adjustment? According to Palomar Health Psychiatrist Benjamin Hidy, M.D., change is possible. I asked him if turning that frown upside down could contribute to better health.

Carol: Are happy people healthier?
Dr. Hidy: While research is inconclusive, we do know people who manage stress successfully can improve their overall health, both mentally and physically.

Carol: Why is that?
Dr. Hidy: People who are content – at peace – tend to feel more confident in stressful situations and don’t become quite as overwhelmed.

Carol: Conversely, how does unhappiness affect health?
Dr. Hidy: Depression, as a clinical diagnosis, can lead to hypertension, obesity, diabetes and other diseases.

Carol: Are we hard-wired to be either one or the other?
Dr. Hidy: It’s not as simple as genetics or environment. A lot of factors from upbringing to whether the barista got your coffee order right influence how we view the world.

Carol: Can we change our wiring?
Dr. Hidy: You can choose to change habits, recognize thinking patterns and reactions to situations. It’s hard work but it's worth it.

Carol: How do you start?
Dr. Hidy: I recommend working with a professional. Often medication and/or psychotherapy can help begin the process.

Carol: Do you believe happiness is tied to circumstances?
Dr. Hidy: Actually, people who are happiest have a good sense of who they are. They’re not tied down by expectations, debt and “stuff.” The sense of freedom is liberating.

Carol: Sounds wonderful. How do I get started?
Dr. Hidy: First, find time each day for yourself. Engage in activities and surround yourself with people who make you feel present, competent and valued.

Carol: And if you suspect your unhappiness may be depression?
Dr. Hidy: Please, see your doctor! Depression is an illness that needs medical treatment.