Home  >  Carol LeBeau's Health Journal  >  Carol's Health Journal

Sleep Your Way to Good Health in 2014 with a Little Help from the Food You Eat!
By Carol LeBeau
2/18/2014 1:40:44 PM


–FULL BIO
 

After 34 years working the night shift, I wondered whether I’d be able to adapt to a normal sleeping schedule when I retired from the TV news business.

Not only have I adapted, I haven’t even seen the 11 p.m. news in more than four years!  No offense to Kimberly or my other news pals, but these days I’m lucky to make it past nine before drifting into dreamland. My body clearly loves the change. I sleep soundly and wake up refreshed and ready to face the day.  

Not only that, within a year on my new schedule – completely unintentionally, I’d lost nearly 10 pounds. What a surprise… until I looked at the facts.

For years I think I was always just a little bit sleep deprived…getting by on about seven  hours, when my body craved closer to nine in the sack. And, if I’m honest, I’d developed some pretty unhealthy eating habits working those weird hours.

On a busy night at work, I’d miss dinner altogether, then exhausted and wired after the late news, I’d come home, turn on Conan and fix myself a plate of cheese and crackers and wash it down with a glass (or two!) of wine… to unwind, you understand.  

Bad plan. A fat and calorie-laden snack combined with sugar in the alcohol often made for light, interrupted sleep. When I finally adopted my husband’s routine an early dinner with only a light snack before bed, I began sleeping like a baby and reaping the health benefits.

Adequate slumber (7-9 hours is the sweet spot for most of us!) does more than make you feel good. An abundance of sleep research has found a well-rested engine is essential for controlling your weight and sharpening your memory.  

What you eat can play a major role in the quality of your rest. My best snooze advice?

1. Warm milk can help you sleep better. Milk contains tryptophan, which your body uses to make serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes sleepiness. Because tryptophan needs carbohydrates to work its sedating magic in your brain, milk is a natural choice since it has the drowsy duo.  (While warming it up adds to the soothing sensation, I still prefer my milk cold.)
 
2. Avoid eating a late meal, then going straight to bed.  Consuming a heavy dinner or even a super-size bedtime snack can make you feel uncomfortably full when you lie down. Even worse, you may develop heartburn or gas… which makes falling asleep extra-challenging. For a peaceful slumber, aim to eat dinner at least three hours before you hit the sack. (When that’s not possible, enjoy a lighter meal –
less than 400 calories.)  If you need a late-night nibble, keep it at 200 calories or less.

Three smart pre-sleep snacks that work for me:
*1 cup fat-free vanilla Greek yogurt topped with some crunchy, low-sugar cereal
*3 cups low fat popcorn topped with grated Parmesan
* Rice cake topped with hummus and a slice of turkey breast or (my fave) peanut butter

3. Talk to you doctor about sleep aids.  One of the most popular options is melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles. You can even increase your intake of foods that naturally contain melatonin…like tart cherries, walnuts or some special sleepy-time teas. (Nights when it’s difficult to fall asleep or when I travel, my doctor prescribes Ambien but only occasionally…and ONLY with my doctor’s okay.)

Don’t minimize the importance of sleep.  It’s crucial for good health and wellbeing.

Sweet dreams…

Saying Good-bye to a Good Friend – San Diego Mourns the Passing, but Celebrates the Life of Loren Nancarrow.
By Carol LeBeau
2/12/2014 12:03:18 PM


–FULL BIO
 

Loren Nancarrow is gone. It’s still hard to believe. After bravely battling brain cancer, my friend and former TV colleague passed away last month at the age of 60.  

We’ll never know, this side of eternity, why Loren was taken from his family, friends and thousands of fans in the prime of life. It’s just not fair. But from the moment Loren received his grim diagnosis, he decided not to waste a moment pondering “why me?” 

“The doctors tell me I have between one and three years to live,” Loren wrote in his blog shortly after his diagnosis. “So, boo-hoo, poor me.”   

Then, with grace, class and his signature sense of humor, Loren showed the rest of us how to live to the max and die with dignity…living each day with a grateful heart and a hopeful spirit. 

Loren only got 10 more months but he filled his final days with fun, family and a sense of purpose – using his health challenges and high profile to help others with cancer and inspire thousands through his touching blogs.

Nowhere was that inspiration more evident than at Loren’s celebration of life service at Cardiff Beach. More than a thousand of us laughed, cried and comforted one another as paddlers formed a circle beyond the breakers and floated flowers in Loren’s honor. Many believe it was Loren himself who ordered the spectacular sunset that signaled his final goodbye.

As the crowd dispersed, my media pals and I remained on the darkening beach. The memorial was over, but we weren’t ready to leave. That’s when Jody Hammond, former News 8 reporter and friend to Loren got an idea. She invited any of us who could to an impromptu gathering at her home to talk about and toast our TV colleague. 

For hours, 15 of us…all Loren’s co-workers over the years reminisced about our dear friend. We represented several local TV stations…Jim Laslavic from 7/39, Liz Purcell from News 8, photojournalist Mike Ineman, producer Janine Nakama and yours truly were part of the 10 News contingent. 

But that night – standing around Jody’s kitchen island we may as well have been from the same station. No matter where he had worked, or with whom, Loren was loved. Through laughter and tears, we shared countless touching and hilarious remembrances about the guy who transformed his home into a “ranch,” from which he would report on every fruit, vegetable, herb and critter know to man…a guy completely unafraid to dig deep into a heap of compost or a heap of political controversy …the guy who insisted on calling me “Clara Bow,” despite years of protestations.

When the night ended, Loren was still gone, but thanks to Jody’s warmth and hospitality, we’d been given the gift of a little more time together to mourn and celebrate our friend providing closure for the gaping hole in our collective hearts.

Please keep Loren’s remarkable family in your thoughts and prayers.  Those of us who knew and loved Loren have lost a friend…but Susie, Hannah, Graham and Britta have lost their husband, dad and hero.

May God richly bless them and give them comfort in their grief.

Taking on the Trails at Torrey Pines
By Carol LeBeau
2/3/2014 2:36:22 PM


–FULL BIO
 
It was Janine’s idea. My friend and high-energy walking buddy suggested that we shake up our routine a bit. Sure, Mission Bay, Coronado, Lake Miramar and Batiquitos Lagoon are great venues for our monthly “talk and treks.” But how about a change? 
 
Janine’s plan was to bump it up a notch in the New Year – move from the flats to something a bit more challenging. So last week we headed for the hills (or at least the cliffs!) at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.  
 
Two hours later – sweaty, spent, with quadriceps on fire, we hobbled back to our cars congratulating one another with “high-fives,” for conquering the sometimes steep and winding trails overlooking Torrey Pines State Beach. Then came the, “I should have had a V-8” moment. Why, we wondered, had we never considered one of the most spectacular places to walk, jog or hike in southern California for our monthly walking workout?
 
I’m afraid I’d lumped Torrey Pines in with other local attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Cabrillo Monument, USS Midway Museum and Belmont Park as destinations meant only for out-of-town guests. Come to think of it, the last time I trekked Torrey Pines, it was with my nephews from Iowa five years ago.  “Auntie Carol” spent several days visiting the attractions I typically enjoyed only as tour guide.
 
Well, no more! We live in paradise and I intend to start taking advantage of it with or without out-of-town guests! 
 
Did you know Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is located within San Diego city limits, 
yet remains one of the wildest stretches of land on our Southern California coast? The 2,000 awesome acres of land are as they were before San Diego was developed…including the chaparral plant community, the rare and elegant Torrey pine trees, miles of unspoiled beaches and a lagoon vital to migrating seabirds.
 
Travelers and locals (like Janine and me!) take a break at the stunning overlooks, walk peaceful trails or exercise in a clean, beautiful environment. There’s a trail for everyone or you can combine several to intensify your workout.  Here’s a trail list to get you started: 
 
Guy Fleming Trail - 0.7 mile loop. Easiest, relatively level, forested, nature markers. Diverse scenery, ocean vistas, sandstone formations, spring wildflowers, drinking water, parking.
 
Perry Grove Trail - 0.5 mile loop. Secluded, not too difficult, but steep entry/exit (100 steps) Drought and Bark Beetle infestation have devastated this grove, but it is recovering. Whitaker native plant garden at trailhead.
 
Razor Point Trail - 0.7 mile to point.  Dramatic views of gorge, badlands, spring wildflowers, fewer but more picturesque trees.  Trail splits from Beach Trail 200 yards below restroom trailhead and follows the Canyon of the Swifts toward the bluffs.
 
Broken Hill Trail - Access to beach via north fork 1.2 Miles (my fave!) Longest trail…chaparral, few trees, scenic overlook of the “broken” hill. (Combine this trail with Razor Point Beach Trails for a 3-mile loop.)
 
Beach Trail - ¾ mile to Flat Rock and beach. Popular beach access. Least scenic trail, few trees, steep. (If you plan to hike down and then walk back to the lower parking area along the beach, remember to check the tides or you may find yourself swimming back to your car!)
 
If you’d like to join Janine and me as we enjoy the tourist attraction right here at home, go to www.torreypine.org where you’ll find maps and much more about one of San Diego’s natural wonders.
 
See you on the trails!
Eat Your Veggies (and don't forget the eggplant!)
By Carol LeBeau
1/27/2014 11:38:02 AM


–FULL BIO
 
The headline on the recipe read “Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Bake.”  The dish was among several on a page in one of those women’s magazines at my nail salon.   
 
Eggplant doesn’t do much for me one way or another, so I nearly passed it by. Thankfully, I didn’t turn the page before taking a quick glance at the rest of the ingredients. Roasted tomatoes, bell pepper, basil pesto and Parmesan cheese mixed with whole wheat fusilli. Hmmm. It actually sounded pretty good as I ripped the recipe from the page. (With permission!)  Not only that, it was super-easy…15 minutes prep time!   
 
What the heck…a little eggplant wouldn’t kill me, right? Truth is, the health benefits of the eggplant are numerous since it contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals.  I had no idea, but the vegetable that’s least vegetable-like, contains Nasunin, a phytonutrient that provides high concentrations of antioxidants and can protect against cell membrane damage and improve blood circulation.  
 
The iron, calcium and fiber it provides are all essential parts of a balanced diet. And eggplant contains only 35 calories per cup.  It has a hearty taste and texture similar to meat (maybe more like tofu?) and eating eggplant can be made enjoyable even for those with an aversion to consuming anything healthy. (Think eggplant parmigiana?  Roasted eggplant?) 
 
I did a Google search and the number of eggplant recipes is practically endless. I’d just like to leave you with one recipe that’s become part of the regular meal rotation at my house. It’s a great vegetarian option and trust me, you won’t even miss the meat!
 
Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Bake
(serves 6)
1 lb. eggplant cut into cubes
1 lb. small tomatoes (2”diameter), halved
1 lg. red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 onion
8 oz quinoa rotelle (ancient Harvest is good brand) or whole wheat fusilli (or any whole grain pasta of your liking)
¼ c. basil pesto (already made up in the refrigerator section at the grocery store)
4 Tbsp chopped, fresh basil
¼ c. finely grated Parmesan (I LOVE Parmesan, so double this ingredient!)
 
1. Heat broiler. Arrange eggplant, tomatoes (cut side up), bell pepper and onion on large baking sheet coated with olive oil spray. Coat vegetables with olive oil spray and season with ¼ tsp each salt and pepper. Broil, stirring vegetables (except tomatoes) halfway through cooking, until tomatoes are slightly charred and giving up their juices and remaining vegetables are golden brown and tender…about 6 minutes for tomatoes and 18 minutes for eggplant, bell pepper and onion.
2. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare pasta per package directions. Drain and toss in bowl with broiled vegetables, pesto and 2 Tbsp of the basil. Spoon into shallow baking dish (about 2 qt.) and top with cheese.
3. Cover with foil and bake until heated through, 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp basil.
 
Enjoy this healthy and hearty version of comfort food with a salad and grainy bread.
Hot Fitness Trends for 2014 (Fartleks are back!)
By Carol LeBeau
1/20/2014 3:05:44 PM


–FULL BIO
 
My fondest memories of childhood revolve around swimming – winters indoors at the family “Y” and summers in the outdoor city pool through the Amateur Athletic Union age group swimming program.  
 
Even more than the actual competition, I loved the workouts. Socially fun and physically challenging, I was blessed with coaches who worked hard to motivate my teammates and me to reach our full potential as young athletes.
 
One of the most fun and creative swim workouts I recall used a training technique called fartlek.  (Now imagine poor Coach Meyers as he announced the next set would be “fartleks” to a bunch of immature 12-year-olds!)  
 
Actually, when it comes to fitness, the funny-sounding word is nothing to snicker about. Fartlek, a Swedish term meaning “speed play,” is a form of interval or speed training that can be highly effective in improving speed and endurance.
 
Coach Meyers would blow the whistle and we’d swim 100 percent effort in short spurts. The next whistle meant slow and easy for a minute or so. We’d repeat the process until exhaustion set in. There’s no doubt, fartleks made me a faster swimmer. (And after all these years, it still makes me smile.) 
 
Well guess what?  Apparently, what’s old is new again. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, high intensity training tops the list of hot fitness trends for 2014. They no longer use the term, “fartlek,” but the principle remains.  
 
The popular fitness routine has evolved and is now called high intensity impact training (HIIT)… still focusing on short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by short periods of rest. Fitness experts and devotees claim the technique yields twice the results in half the time.
 
Shannon Fable, with the San Diego-based American Council on Exercise, says the growing trend makes sense for fitness buffs with busy lives. She says HIIT is a regimen that meets needs in the time they have available.”
 
HIIT (fartlek!) workouts have been around for years, but thanks to intense workout programs such as CrossFit, P90X, Insanity, TurboFire and Tabata training, more and more fitness fanatics are turning to the practice to get fit.
 
But if all that intensity isn’t for you, no worries The list of trendy routines for 2014 includes everything from ancient yoga practices to new twists on personal training. Also scoring high in the New Year – fitness programs for older adults and children’s exercise programs. 
 
So pick out a workout plan that sounds fun to you and let’s all get moving in 2014!
Tips to Start and Stick with your Fitness Program in 2014
By Carol LeBeau
1/14/2014 10:40:11 AM


–FULL BIO
 

I used to think personal trainers were for someone else. Not me. I’m motivated to work out on my own, thank you.  I don’t need some guy with six-pack abs watching my every bicep curl.

Well, last year that all changed when I realized I needed help. Following multiple surgeries, I had developed aches, pains and muscle weaknesses that only seemed to get worse the harder I pushed on my own at the gym. Even swimming left me with a stiff neck and knot in my back.

Frustrated, I asked for advice from one of my fit friends.  His recommendation? You guessed it – a personal fitness trainer. Desperate, I took his advice and called Bret Smith a credentialed instructor and the owner of the “Move Strong Studio” in San Diego.  
 
Bret quickly assessed my situation and gave me simple, corrective exercises I could do at home. After several sessions with “my” personal trainer, I began to feel better, stronger and happier as my aches and pains subsided. Because of Brett’s personal attention and expertise, I’m grateful to be back hiking, biking and swimming strong.  
 
As I’ve gotten to know Brett, it’s clear he’s more than a fitness trainer. Not only is he knowledgeable on all facets of health and fitness, he’s a wonderful (but gentle!) motivator! (Go check out his website at www.movestrongstudio.com!)
 
So, as we begin a new and (hopefully!) healthier new year, I asked Brett to share some of the tips he gives his clients to help them start and stick with a fitness program.
 
Here are Brett’s Top 10 Tips for looking good and feeling great in 2014:
 
1. Just Get Moving! Starting a new fitness program can be daunting with all the "have to's" and all that information can lead to overload.  The simple and best way to start is to just get moving and increase your general activity level throughout the day.Taking a walk after lunch or dinner; taking the stairs instead of an elevator; standing while on the phone or when someone walks into your office; parking a little farther than your destination – little things that can add up and make a big difference in helping you move and feel better.
 
2. Have an Accountability Buddy. This will help you stick with a plan.  You and your workout buddy both promise to not let the other skip a workout.  This buddy may be a friend with similar goals to yours, a family member, co- worker or even a fitness professional who will motivate you to stay on track.
 
3. Choose Activities You Enjoy. And do them! Again and again! Nothing will short- circuit your workout plan faster than a boring, non-eventful activity. Even if it's completely new, but sounds interesting, you're more likely to stick with something you enjoy. Don't be afraid of trying a bunch of things to see what connects with you.
 
4. Pick the Pro especially if you're just getting started, unsure or just unaccustomed to having regular activity in your life. Investing in a Certified Fitness Professional can get you off on the right foot helping you build a solid foundation, focus on your goals and prevent injury. Word-of-mouth and referrals from trusted family and friends is best way to find the best pro for you.
 
5. Set Your Goals! Write these ideas down and be specific. How many pounds? Dress size? Body fat percentage?  Whatever it is, get it down on paper. Then post the goals, completion date and workouts completed to date in places you see regularly. Consistent reinforcement is key to your success.
 
6. Be Relentless in your dedication to succeeding. Set your schedule. Stick with it. No excuses.  Make your workouts as important as showing up for work, being with your family or having fun.
 
7.  No 4-Letter Words!  Banish the CAN’T’s, DONT's and WONT's from your vocabulary. It may take some self-talk and gentle reminders but focus on what you CAN, WILL and WANT to do. One step at a time.
 
8.  Prepare For the Journey. Consider your new undertaking as the journey of a lifetime. As you and your journey grow, you'll explore new and exciting ways to stay happy, healthy and fit along the way. One of the highest rates of success in sticking with a fitness and wellness plan is sharing it with a group, partner, friend or spouse. Be part of a team and see how everyone benefits.
 
9. Make it Social. We are social creatures and one of the highest rates of success in sticking with a fitness and wellness plan is sharing it with a group, partner, friend or spouse. Make them part of Your Team and see how everyone benefits.
 
10. Ignore the Hype. If you are easily influenced by the hype of a fad diet or latest fitness gadget, stop and ask two simple questions. For whom? For what? These programs and equipment promise you success with little time or effort.  The truth is, it takes time, work, dedication and determination. No diet or a trendy gadget will change that. There are no shortcuts to success...only detours and u-turns if you fall prey to the hype.

 

Need a Good Laugh? Learn how to give your cat a pill!
By Carol LeBeau
12/30/2013 11:24:43 AM


–FULL BIO
 

My sweet kitty, Bing, is getting over a little infection. The vet said it was no big deal. All I had to do was give her a tiny pill twice a day for a week.  

Bing is young…an adolescent, really…and not very cooperative (to say the least) when it’s time for her pill.  Anyone with a cat can identify with my dilemma. Talking with my step-Mom, Kaye about battling with Bing and her pills, we had a good laugh about “herding cats” and the like.  

Two days later, a note from Kaye arrived “snail mail.” Inside was a copy of an old Ann Landers column from 1999 which included a piece called “How to Give Your Cat a Pill,” by Bob Story.  

It’s hilarious.  In fact, I haven’t laughed that hard in years – no decades!  That laughing jag made me feel so good; I’ve decided to pass it along.  And please, no complaints from cat lovers.  (I love cats more than anyone, believe me!)  It’s just a piece of humor.  I hope it gives you a chuckle.

How to Give Your Cat a Pill  
By Bob Story
 
Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as though holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to his cheeks. When cat opens up, pop pill into mouth. Cat will then close mouth and swallow.
 
Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa.  Repeat the process.   
 
Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.
 
Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, immobilizing front and rear paws. Ask assistant to hold cat’s head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into cat’s throat. Flick pill down ruler with forefinger and rub cat’s throat vigorously.
 
Retrieve cat from living room valance.
 
Carefully sweep shattered figurines from hearth and set aside for later gluing. Remove next pill from foil wrap.
 
Wrap cat in beach towel and ask assistant to lie prone on cat with cat’s head visible under assistant’s armpit. Put pill in end of paper tube you’ve made for this purpose. Then force cat’s mouth open with pencil and blow.
 
Check label to make sure pill is not lethal to humans. Sip water to take away taste. Apply bandage to assistant’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with soap and cold water.
 
Call 911, ask fire department to retrieve cat from eucalyptus tree.  Remove remaining pill from foil wrap.  Tie cat’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and securely tie to leg of dining table.  Put on heavy-duty pruning gloves.  Force cat’s mouth open with tire iron.  Drop pill, previously hidden in one ounce of raw hamburger, into cat’s mouth.  Hold head vertically with nose pointed to ceiling and pour one-half pint of water down cat’s throats and two jiggers of whiskey down your own.

Ask assistant to drive you to emergency room. Sit quietly while doctor administers anesthetic, stitches forearm and removes pill remnants from eye. Drop off cat, along with a generous donation, at animal shelter and adopt a goldfish.

There you have it. And now it’s time to give Bing her next pill. This is gonna be fun!

 

Destination…Lindbergh Field! Exciting Airport Expansion Makes Flying Fun!
By Carol LeBeau
12/17/2013 3:40:12 PM


–FULL BIO
 

I’m not a great traveler.  Friends make it look easy, but for me, it’s a struggle.  I don’t mean to whine, but planning and packing are a pain.  I hate turbulence and I miss my bed!  

But the worst part is the airport.   It’s just so chaotic!  Hustling to get bags checked…frantically navigating the crowds, security lines and crowded bathrooms only to finally arrive at the gate just in time for the battle to board!

Well, no more!  The newly expanded Terminal 2 at Lindbergh Field is actually making traveling in and out of San Diego fun!  In fact, I may just get there early for my next trip…relax and enjoy the amenities of the new, state-of-the-art expansion that’s put a fresh face on our aging airport.

The additions to the gorgeous, new 445,000-square-foot terminal include 10 new gates, a dual-level roadway for arriving and departing passengers (reminds me of the “Jetsons!”) fabulous new eating and shopping options and lots of space!

Thella Bowens, president and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, says the expansion takes Lindbergh Field to “a new level.”
 
I think that’s an understatement.

The gates are furnished with outlet-equipped seating, free water-bottle refilling stations and clean, contemporary terrazzo flooring.  There’s new artwork to enjoy, six new gates, comfortable, new seating and other amenities…including the airport’s first post-security animal relief area complete with fire hydrant!

The terrazzo flooring makes the trip to baggage claim like a walk on the beach.  Lay in geometric bands in shades of ocean blue, gray, green and sand, it’s also integrated with a matrix of marbles, shells and glass. You can almost feel the sand between your toes!

The heart of the terminal aptly called “Sunset Cove,” a dining area that provides a stunning, panoramic view of the airport.  The lighting is breathtaking.  Called “The Journey,” art lights sparkle throughout the corridor.  A stunning Swarovski crystal fixture is the “Cove’s” centerpiece.

Returning from a recent trip, it was hard to believe I was in an airport let alone Lindbergh Field!  

And then there’s the food! Restaurants in Sunset Cove include Saffron, Bubbles Seafood Wine Bar, Seaside Stack Shack, Qdoba, Red Mango and Tommy V’s Pizzeria.   San Diego favorites Stone Brewing Company and Phil’s BBQ are also there just to make you feel at home.

Finally, be sure to allow yourself some time for a little shopping.  You can browse the books at Warwick’s, check out the cool stuff at Brookstone or sample a new shade of lipstick at Clinique.  While husband, Tom, was distracted at the PGA Tour Shop, I was trolling Brighton Collectibles for a gift and we still made it to our flight on time!

Years in the making, the beautiful build-out is finally complete.  I think you’ll find it was well worth the wait.

By the way, the expansion project…dubbed “The Green Build,” by airport officials is not only beautiful, it’s receiving much-deserved accolades and awards for energy efficiency.  

Bravo Airport Authority!  (I can’t wait for my next trip.)

Dana's Perfect Pumpkin Bread; A holiday favorite made easy!
By Carol LeBeau
12/12/2013 10:27:45 AM


–FULL BIO
 

I love it when Dana hosts our women’s Bible study.  Her home is warm and welcoming.  She has a cool dog and she makes the best, by far, pumpkin bread in the world.

Dana serves her signature sweet bread warm right from the oven in a cute, Bundt-style baking pan in the shape of a pumpkin.  Martha Stewart would be proud.

Recently, as I let a second warm slice of pumpkin perfection melt in my mouth, I decided to ask Dana for the recipe.  I figured it would be beyond my culinary skills…probably an old, family recipe involving double boilers, exotic spices and separated eggs.

Dana just smiled as she shared her “secret” recipe – three ingredients – one step. So simple, even I could dazzle my friends and family with pumpkin bread worthy of the Cooking Channel.

If you need to bring something sweet to a holiday gathering, consider whipping up Dana’s perfect pumpkin bread.  It’s so simple; you won’t even have to write it down.  But here it is just in case!

Dana’s Pumpkin Bread
1 Box Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread mix

Prepare according to the box recipe, but add ½ can of organic, canned pumpkin (also at Trader Joe’s) and a small tub of vanilla Greek yogurt.

Bake and eat. Consider it my gift to you!

Happy Holidays!
Good eating and God’s blessings!

No Flu for You! Don’t let the flu knock you flat this season! There’s still time to get vaccinated.
By Carol LeBeau
12/6/2013 10:11:50 AM


–FULL BIO
 

I ran into Don and Sheila the other day on the curb in front of our house.  It was Monday…garbage day…as together we rolled our trash cans back into our respective garages.   Actually, it was good to see our next-door neighbors.  Tom and I hadn’t seen or heard from them for several days.

I quickly learned why as Sheila dressed in heavy sweats with a wool scarf around her neck warned me not to come any closer.  Looking like the walking dead, she told me that she and Don had the flu and were so sick they hadn’t even left their house.  Taking the trash to the curb was their first outing in days.

It broke my heart to see our friends in such misery.  They admitted they hadn’t gotten the flu shot and vowed never to pass on it again.  

Secretly, I applauded my own decision to get vaccinated.   But it’s my pharmacist who deserves the credit for making that smart choice.  As I quizzed him at my local pharmacy, he convinced me the flu shot is still the best way to avoid the miserable symptoms of the flu virus.

I remember using the line, “They never get the formula right anyway,” to justify skipping this year’s vaccination.  If that’s your argument, then it may be time to roll up your sleeve.  Turns out, a flu shot is effective even if its strains don’t match those going around!

That may sound crazy, but a Canadian review found in years the vaccine hadn’t targeted the viruses circulating, people still got protection that was more than 50 percent effective (when there was a match, protection rose to 65 percent or more).

Bottom line…from my pharmacist and primary care doctor to the Mayo Clinic and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated.

Like all medications, vaccines can have side effects, but they’re extremely rare.  For people with certain health conditions, getting the shot may not be advised.  Obviously, if you have any concerns, check with your doctor before getting vaccinated.

Then, before you decide to skip this year’s flu shot…consider this.  The vaccine can protect you from the ravages of the flu that wiped out our neighbors – a viral respiratory illness that spreads easily and can make your life miserable for weeks.  Worst case?  The flu can lead to serious health complications and possibly death.  Why chance it?

It’s too late for Don and Sheila.  Thankfully, they’re recovering nicely.  

But there is still time for you to prevent the fever, chills and body aches that could have you down for the count this holiday season.

For a list of Palomar Health community flu shot clinics, go to www.PalomarHealth.org/flu.