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Don’t Give up on Sourdough: Try These Easy Tips

It seems like some people have no problem baking delicious sourdough bread and others really struggle. I think I know why. I’m not a professional baker, but as a pharmacist I have extensive knowledge of microorganisms. Read on to find out why you should not give up on sourdough until you try this easy recipe. First here are some tips:

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I earn commission at no additional cost to you.

Sourdough basics:

There are only two ingredients needed to make a sourdough starter. Flour and water. The other ingredients are already there, they just need the correct environment and some time to do their thing. They already know what to do, you just have to make sure you help them, here are some tips to help you:

Which flour should you use for sourdough starter?

Generally unbleached flour is preferred for bread making because it is more dense and helps the dough hold it’s shape better. Many bakers use unbleached flour for creating and feeding their starter. Both bleached and unbleached flours contain both beneficial and harmful microorganisms. Bleaching flour does not kill microorganisms. These microorganisms are everywhere. Whole grain wheat or rye flours are particularly beneficial for making a new starter, because they contain more of the beneficial microorganisms you need for a new starter. If you are not a rye or whole wheat bread fan, that’s ok. Due to the small amount of remaining rye or whole wheat flour, you will hardly notice it is there in your final product. Once your starter is mature, you can feed it any mixture of flours you prefer.

Can you use tap water for sourdough starter?

It’s best to use filtered water for your sourdough starter. If you live in a city that uses chlorine in the water, you could kill off some of the beneficial yeast and bacteria in your starter.

Another thing to consider about the water you use is temperature. The beneficial yeast and bacteria in your starter prefer 80-85 degrees. Too cold and they will slow down their fermentation, too hot and you could kill them. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the water before you add it. Make sure it is between 80 and 85 degrees F.

What is the best environment for a sourdough starter?

Starter prefers temperatures between 78 and 85 degrees F. Not a comfortable room temperature. It will still work between 60 and 120 degrees, but anytime it is outside of it’s preferred temperature it will not be as effective and therefore, take longer. This is why you will often see a huge fermentation time range on recipes. This range is not an option, it depends on your environment. If your home is 68 degrees and the recipe says ferment for 4-12 hours, you will probably need to ferment closer to 12 hours than 4 hours. This could be why you some new bakers struggle to be successful.

Also avoid direct sunlight. It might be tempting to warm up your starter in the sunshine on a warm day. Although your starter will love the heat it will not thrive in the sunlight, and you may kill off some of your beneficial yeast. Starter prefers warm and dark!

overflowing sourdough starter

This is what happened to my sourdough starter when the weather finally warmed up in Michigan. Not ideal, but my fermentation cap did allow for the starter to flow out.

How to create the best environment for your starter

If you live in a warm climate, this may be easy. Remember starter needs a warm dark environment. 78-85 degrees is best. There are plenty of things you can try if you live in a cold climate.

A Proofing Box
  • An inexpensive proofing box, this box will provide the perfect temperature for your starter and for fermenting and proofing your bread. It will help reduce the time it takes to make your bread. It will take the guess work out of timing and make your life as a sourdough baker easier. The only problem with this investment is it really is just a single use item. Another gadget with no other uses.
Oven light
  • Put your starter in a TURNED OFF oven with the light on. The light will provide heat and the oven itself is insulated. If you use this method you should monitor the temperature with a meat thermometer, because believe it or not, it could get too hot in your oven using this method. At least the meat thermometer is a good investment because it is very useful for other things as well.
Microwave
  • Put your starter in a TURNED OFF microwave along with a second jar filled with hot water. The hot water serves as the heat source, the microwave is an insulated box. Since the water will eventually cool, there is no danger of over heating your starter.
Seed Mat
  • Place your starter on a seed mat. If you already own one, you probably only use it a few weeks a year. If not, it is less expensive than other options and it does help provide the perfect temperature for your starter and for fermenting and proofing your bread. As an added bonus, you can still use it for seed starting!
Higher location
  • Place your starter in your highest cabinet or on the second floor of your home. It can be a few degrees warmer in high places, because we all know heat rises.
Ninja
  • My personal favorite option is to use the proof setting on a Ninja Foodi or Ninja Combi. These combination Air Fryer, countertop cookers have proof settings and can be used for many other things.
Sourdough starter in a Ninja Foodi on Proof setting
Sourdough starter in a Ninja Foodi on Proof setting

How do I know my starter is ready to use?

If you make your own starter from scratch it will need a least a week to be ready to use. If you try to bake bread earlier than one week you will likely not be successful. You need a mature and active starter to bake bread.

A mature starter will rise and fall predictably when fed. It will be bubbly and spongy.

Mature sourdough Starter
Mature sourdough Starter

How to make a starter:

Sourdough starter from scratch:

Day 1: Mix 1/4 cup of filtered warm water (80-85 degrees F) with 1/3 cup of whole grain wheat or rye flour. Allow it to sit on the counter in a jar with plenty of space. Cover the jar with a loose fitting lid or cloth.

Day 2: Mix the starter. Add 1/4 cup of filtered warm water (80-85 degrees F) and 1/3 cup of whole grain wheat or rye flour to the jar. Cover the jar with a loose fitting lid or cloth.

Day 3: Mix the starter. Remove and discard half. (Note: During the first week of your starters “life” the discard will not be suitable for baking. It can still be composted.) Add 1/4 cup of filtered warm water (80-85 degrees F) and 1/3 cup of whole grain wheat or rye flour to the jar. Cover the jar with a loose fitting lid or cloth.

Day 4: Mix the starter. Remove and discard half. Add 1/4 cup of filtered warm water (80-85 degrees F) and 1/3 cup of flour (any combination of whole grain and bread or all-purpose flour) to the jar. Cover the jar with a loose fitting lid or cloth. Repeat this process in the evening for 2 total feedings on day 4.

Day 5 to 7: Continue repeating day 4. As long as your starter is bubbly and spongy, you can switch to any flour you wish to use for feedings.

Day 8 and on: Your starter should be mature at this point, so you can start to save your discard. Put the discard into a clean jar, with some space for additional discard, and place it in the refrigerator. It’s ok to put a lid on it. There are many uses for this discard. More on that later.

Purchase a packet of sourdough starter

You can purchase a packet of sourdough starter either dried or active. If you purchase the dried starter you will still be waiting about a week before you can bake. If you purchase active starter, you will need to feed it right away!

Get Sourdough starter from a friend or bakery

If you receive a sourdough starter from a friend, or purchase from a local bakery, you will already have a mature starter and can begin preparing it for baking right away. This is the least expensive, easiest and fastest way to get started with sourdough baking.

How to prepare your starter for baking

Once you have a mature starter you are ready to bake. Give your starter a one or two good feedings the day before you bake. This is a great time to bulk up your starter to make sure you have enough available for your recipe.

To bulk up you starter, add more flour and water than you would for a regular feeding, but keep the same ratio of flour and water. For example, I usually discard down to 1/2 cup of starter and feed with 1/2 cup of water and 2/3 cup of flour. If I want to bulk up my starter prior to baking, I’ll discard down to 1 cup of starter and add 1 cup of water and 1 1/3 cups of flour. I usually feed mine the morning of a bake too. Before baking I feed my starter, and put it in my Ninja Foodi on proof set to 85 degrees for 1-2 hours before I bake.

How to care for a mature starter:

If you bake frequently, you can keep your starter on the counter and feed it once or twice daily. For the daily feedings: discard all but 1/2 cup of starter, feed with 2/3 cup flour of your choice and 1/2 cup filtered warm water (80-85 degrees F). If you bake less than weekly, you can keep your starter refrigerated. Take your starter out and feed it at least once weekly. For the weekly feedings, remove it from the refrigerator, allow it to warm to room temp, then feed it. For this weekly feeding, discard all but 1/2 cup of starter, feed with 2/3 cup flour of your choice and 1/2 cup filtered warm water (80-85 degrees F). Provide it with a nice warm dark environment for about 24 hours. If you don’t plan to bake, put it back in the refrigerator.

It’s also important to change the jar weekly or as needed if it overflows or the top becomes crusty. Just transfer your starter to a clean jar and wash the old one for next time you need a clean jar.

What is sourdough discard?

Discard is the leftover starter you remove before each feeding. If you never discard, the starter will become so large it will not be manageable. With each feeding you are at least doubling the volume. This is why it’s important to discard. The discard can be saved in the refrigerator and used for baking with sourdough discard recipes. It’s best to use up you discard in 2 weeks. Any remaining discard can be composted. Try this tasty sourdough discard pizza crust, or these sourdough discard mini pitas.

Easy beginner sourdough recipes:

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Colonoscopy Prep Tips: Easy and Comfortable

Congratulations for choosing to get the only cancer screening exam that is actually preventative! Here you will learn some tips and tricks from a pharmacist, who has been through it. I hope to help you make your colonoscopy prep as easy and comfortable as possible. This information is not intended to replace your doctors instructions. These colonoscopy prep tips are merely a supplement to your doctor’s instructions. If we differ in any way, please follow your doctor’s instructions first.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I earn commission at no additional cost to you. Always follow your doctor’s advice first. This information is intended to be a helpful supplement.

Colonoscopy Prep Timeline

This post contains valuable colonoscopy prep timeline tips for all of the following colonoscopy prep steps:

  • Make your colonoscopy appointment
  • Choose your prep
  • Pick up your prep
  • Read you doctor’s instructions
  • Pick up other needed items
  • Find out what to do about your current medications
  • Eat a low fiber diet
  • Transition to a liquid diet
  • Transition to a clear liquid diet
  • Confirm appointment time and prep instructions
  • Start your prep
  • Go to your appointment
  • Post colonoscopy tips

Tips for making your colonoscopy appointment

Things to consider before making you appointment:

Who will drive you to your appointment?

You will need to have a driver for your appointment. Make sure you have both your schedule and your driver’s schedule available when you make your appointment. You will need to start your prep the night before your appointment, so make sure you do not have any plans for the evening before your appointment. After your appointment you will not be able to stay home alone, so make sure you have someone available to stay with you after your test. You should be able to return to work the following day, as long as your doctor says you are able to.

Insurance coverage

Before you make your appointment you should check with your health insurance company to find out where your should go for your test. Also, ask which prep they will cover. There are multiple preps available, best to find out which one is covered by your insurance before you make the appointment. When you make the appointment you may be offered more than one prep option. Be prepared!

Timing of your appointment

Colonoscopy appointment timing tips based on when you have to start your prep.

You will likely have to start your prep 4 hours before you appointment time. If you schedule an early morning appointment, you will have to wake up 4 hours before that time to begin your prep. Keep that in mind when choosing a time.

You will be on a clear liquid diet on the day of your appointment. If you choose an afternoon appointment you will be able to sleep in, but you will be very hungry. Keep this in mind when choosing a time. I think the best time for a colonoscopy appointment is between 10:00 and 12:00. That way you wake up between 6:00 and 8:00, and you will only be on the clear liquid diet in the morning.

Choose your prep

This decision is ultimately made by your doctor, although your doctor may give you some options. Here are some things to consider if you are given an option:

Cost of the prep

If cost is a concern, contact your insurance provider to determine which prep they will cover. There is a very big difference in cost of the available preps.

Volume and flavor of the prep

Four common colonoscopy preps:

NOTE: Follow the directions provided by your doctor. These directions are just sample directions to give you an idea of what to expect. The goal here is to help you make a decision about the prep you want to try.

Gatorade (not red or purple)+ MiraLAX prep

MiraLAX generic
MiraLAX generic

This prep is very tasty. Patients love it. If you like Gatorade the prep will be tasty. This prep may not be allowed by your doctor. It also may not be covered by insurance since MiraLAX is over-the-counter. It is not very expensive so that may not be a concern. Find the MiraLAX generic here. You will likely be required to consume 32 ounces of the prep (MiraLAX mixed with Gatorade) followed by 32 ounces of any clear liquid. This will be repeated again in the morning.

GoLytely or GaviLye-G

GaviLyte-G
GaviLyte-G

This is the least expensive option because it is most likely to be covered in full by your insurance. It will require you to consume 4 liters (~1 gallon of gross tasting liquid) likely in two 2 liter servings. You may also have to follow this with more clear liquid of your choice. Don’t worry, I have some tips to help. Remember, it’s worth it for your health.

Suprep

SuPrep Generic
SuPrep Generic

This prep requires a reduced volume of gross tasting liquid when compared to the GoLytely. You will be required to consume 16 ounces of the prep, followed by 32 ounces of water. This process will be repeated in the morning. This prep is covered by most insurance companies, if not covered by yours you can use this coupon.

SuTab

SuTab
SuTab

This prep does not require any gross tasting liquid. Instead you have to swallow 12 tablets with 16 ounces of water, then another 16 ounces of water 60 min later and another 16 ounces 30 min after that. Much more tolerable if you can swallow tablets. The only problem is that it is very expensive and not covered by many insurance companies. If you still want this option you can check out this offer to see if you qualify for a coupon.

Other Medications you may need

Your doctor may also want you to pick up other medications for your prep. The most common are Dulcolax (a laxative) and simethicone (anti-gas medication). You will likely need only 4 tablets of each. You may be able to find a pharmacy that will sell you only the 4 tabs you need. I suggest you call first. This could save you some money. I suggest you look into this option ahead of time. If you can’t find a pharmacy to sell you only 4 tabs, you can find the generic Dulcolax tablets here, and simethicone tablets here. Make sure the simethicone tablets you buy do not have red color, and do not take with food as the package directions suggest, instead follow the directions provided by your doctor.

Read your doctor’s instructions

Once you make your appointment and choose your prep, your doctor should send you some instructions. Make sure you read through them when you get them. Note the timeline. It is very important to read over these instructions to make sure you stop any supplements you make be taking and make arrangements for any medications you doctor wants you to stop taking.

When to pick-up your prep

You should plan to pick up your prep at least 2 weeks before your appointment. This will give you time to troubleshoot any problems that could happen. Maybe you were wrong about the amount your insurance will cover and want to choose a different prep. If you plan to pick up your prep 2 weeks in advance you will be able to contact your doctor for a new prescription and still have your prep in time for your procedure. This will also help if for some reason your pharmacy is out of your prep or maybe the prep you chose will end up being backordered, you never know. Just take my advice, pick it up early and be prepared!

Items to pick up 2 weeks before your colonoscopy

  • Your prep, as discussed in the previous section.
  • Other meds required for your prep, check your instructions. Most likely you will need Dulcolax and Simethicone
  • Ointment to protect your sore bottom from excessive wiping. The least expensive options are: generic Vaseline, or zinc oxide ointment. Zinc oxide is the active ingredient in many diaper rash ointments, like Desitin and Boudreaux’s Butt Paste which are also great options. If you do not have this near your toilet when you start your prep, you will be sorry!
  • Premium Toilet Paper -Now is not the time for cheap toilet paper. You should be prepared to pamper you bottom with the best. Try Cottonelle Premium Comfort, this should make you more comfortable.
  • Flushable wipes – There will be a lot of mess to clean up. So why not make your life easier with some flushable wipes. You can can even use Preparation H medicated wipes to help sooth your sore bottom. Dude wipes also come in medicated and regular options. Both are great options for colonoscopy prep clean up, even if you are not a dude. Honestly I preferred the regular Dude wipes, and I’m not a dude!
  • Boost or other protein shakes, with no added fiber. More on this later.
  • Clear liquids: You will need to go on a clear liquid diet the day before your colonoscopy. So stock up on Jell-O, chicken broth or bone broth, hard candy/popsicles (not red or purple), and clear juice like apple, white grape and white cranberry.
  • Cough Drops with menthol, also not red. If you end up having to prep with GoLytely, SuPrep, or any other gross tasting prep, menthol cough drops can help mask the flavor, making the prep easier and more palatable. Try lemon, ginger or honey flavor.
  • Low fiber foods. More on this later.

Find out which medications need to be discontinued or stopped prior to your colonoscopy

Once again: READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FROM YOUR DOCTOR. This is very important especially if you are taking blood thinners or you are diabetic. It could also be important if you have a seizure disorder. It may be important even if you are just taking a multiple vitamin. Find out which medications your doctor wants you to take and which ones will need to be held during your prep. If you are diabetic you may require adjustments to your usual medications due to changes in your diet.

Pre-Colonoscopy Low Fiber Diet Tips

Your doctor may request that you go on a low fiber diet 3-5 days prior to your test. This is important to follow for two reasons: The low fiber diet will make the prep easier and more comfortable for you, because there will be less bulk to pass. Also, the low fiber foods will clear easier making it less likely that food residue will block your doctor from seeing a polyp. Both good reasons for following your doctor’s advice. Please read your doctor’s specific instructions for your low fiber diet. Most doctor’s will want you to avoid whole grains, oats, most fruits and vegetables, beans, tough meat with gristle, nuts and seeds. Here are some meal suggestions for low fiber meals and snacks:

Low fiber meal ideas infographic

Pre-colonoscopy Low fiber breakfast ideas:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Plain bagel with cream cheese
  • Yogurt-avoid berry flavors or any fruit with seeds -choose vanilla, honey, plain or peach.
  • Pancakes or French toast with maple syrup, honey or seedless jelly
  • White toast with peanut butter or seedless jelly
  • Scrambled eggs with hashbrowns
  • Rice Krispies

Low Fiber pre-colonoscopy Lunch ideas:

  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich on white bread
  • Cheese or chicken quesadilla made with flour tortillas
  • Chicken noodle soup with saltine crackers
  • Peanut butter and jelly on white bread

Low Fiber pre-colonoscopy Dinner ideas:

  • Baked boneless skinless chicken breast with mashed potatoes
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Cheese Pizza
  • Shrimp with white rice
  • Miso soup with tofu

Pre-colonoscopy Low Fiber Snack ideas:

  • Applesauce
  • Cheese sticks
  • Jello
  • Ice cream or sorbet without seeds or nuts
  • Cookies and cakes with no seeds, nuts or fruits
  • Ripe Honeydew melon or cantaloupe

Liquid vs. Clear Liquid Diet Pre-Colonoscopy

Read the instructions from your doctor. You may have to go on a liquid or clear liquid diet when you wake up the day before your appointment. There is a difference.

If you are placed on a liquid diet you may be able to have Boost or other protein shakes, with no added fiber, in addition to any clear liquid. The reason I suggest Boost is because I did small taste test with some co-workers. It was blinded, so we did not know which one was which. We tested Ensure, Boost, Premier, Kate Farms and Fair life. All chocolate flavors. Boost was the clear favorite, find it here!

Boost

Clear liquids are any liquid that you can see through, and have no pulp or other solids at room temperature. However, Jello-O and popsicles are also allowed as long as they are not red or purple. Your doctor may also limit orange and/or blue. Here are some examples of clear liquids:

  • Chicken, vegetable or beef broth or bouillon
  • Bone broth
  • Beef Consomm√©
  • Apple, white grape, or white cranberry juice
  • Jell-O
  • Popsicles
  • Sports drinks: Gatorade or Power aid
  • Coke, Pepsi, 7-Up, Sprite or other sodas
  • Water
  • Pedialyte, Prime, or liquid IV
  • Hard candy
  • Coffee black or with sugar-no milk or cream
  • Tea-except red herbal teas
  • Coconut water
Fancy Clear Liquid dinner
Apple Juice, Beef Consommé and Lemon Jell-O, a fancy clear liquid dinner.

Tips for starting your colonoscopy prep:

Make sure you have the following items within reach of your toilet if possible. Listed in order of importance!

  • generic Vaseline or alternative suggested above.
  • Dude Wipes and soft TP.
  • Water or another clear liquid- both would be preferred.
  • Something to keep you occupied, e.g.: a book to read, smart phone games or activities. Plan to be on the toilet for 30 to 60 min.

Tips to help with colonoscopy prep flavor and nausea: Prepare your prep early if possible and refrigerate it. A cold prep will taste better. Each prep has specific instructions for when it will expire after mixing. Read the instructions for your prep. If your prep has a gross taste I recommend Cough Drops with menthol to mask the taste and using a straw to help you consume it faster. If the prep makes you nauseous drinking a few sips of regular cola can help.

Make sure you stay hydrated during your prep. You will lose a lot of fluid during your prep, so the more clear liquid you can consume, the better!

Benefits of staying hydrated during your colonoscopy prep:

  • You will need to have an IV placed to administer your sedation for the prep. It is much easier to place an IV in a hydrated patient. Use this to motive you to drink more fluids. More fluids = Less pokes!
  • Hydration will make you feel better. Check out this post for some hydration tips.
  • Woman of childbearing age your doctor will ask you to provide a urine sample for a pregnancy test before your procedure. This will be much easier if you are hydrated. Bottoms up!

Tips for appointment day

  • Read your doctor’s instructions again
  • Confirm your driver. Make sure your driver has some activities to keep them busy in the waiting room.
  • Set your alarm to start your second round of prep
  • Only take the medications approved by your doctor
  • Stop all fluids at the time designated by your doctor
  • Leave home in time to make it to your appointment

Post Colonoscopy Tips

  • Have someone stay home with you
  • Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or make any legal decisions for the rest of the day or until your doctor suggests. You may not even remember the drive home.
  • Eat small light meals, however, try to incorporate some fiber into your diet. This is not the best time for a Big Mac or a Big salad.
  • Continue to stay hydrated.
  • Thank your driver and pat yourself on the back. You did it! Congrats!

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How to sneak more fruits and vegetables into your diet.

Are you trying to eat more healthy food? Fruits and vegetables pretty much top the list for health benefits, when paired with other healthy food groups. There are many ways to sneak more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Here are some suggestions for how to eat more fruits and vegetables:

This post may contain affiliate links. I earn commission at no additional cost to you.

Add more fruits and Vegetables to your favorite recipes

Problem: Your favorite recipes don’t have many fruits and vegetables.

Solution: Take your favorite recipe and add more vegetables or fruit. Start with a small amount, like 3 carrots instead of 2. I do this all the time. For example, try comparing my Italian Mac & cheese with Rachel Ray’s. Mine has more vegetables, and it is better! I dare you to add an extra half cup of shredded carrots to my morning glory muffins! You will get another muffin and they will have more vegetables! I know this because I have tried it. Try adding a 1/2 cup of blueberries to your favorite banana bread or lemon bread. Be brave! It’s fun!

Make fruits and vegetables more convenient

Problem: If you need a quick snack, it’s much easier to grab a cheese stick or a handful of pretzels than to chop up some vegetables or peel an orange.

Solution: Prepare a container of sliced vegetables. Keep it in the refrigerator, along with your favorite dip or hummus. This way you can easily pull out the tray to have a quick and easy snack. Slice up the vegetables on the weekend, when you have more time. Many vegetables will last a whole week this way, if stored in the right container. The same strategy works well for fruit. Simply having the fruit peeled, sliced, and ready to eat will make it easier to consume when you are in a hurry.

Note: I recommend storing cucumber slices separate from other vegetables, since they will not last as long. Slice fresh cucumber slices every 2-3 days.

Eat more vegetables by making them convienient

Keep fruits and vegetables where you can see them

Problem: If you keep all of your fruits and vegetables in the crisper drawer in your refrigerator, they can get lost and forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind.

Solution: Many fruits and vegetables can be stored on the counter for a few days. It’s best to store fruits and vegetables in a wide, flat fruit bowl with holes for better air circulation. This type of design will help your fruit last longer. Although, the goal would be to eat it quickly so you don’t have to worry about self life. If you buy a bag of oranges or apples, put 2 in the fruit bowl and store the rest in the refrigerator. Keep refilling the fruit bowl throughout the week. Some fruits and vegetables should be stored outside of the refrigerator. Bananas and tomatoes prefer the counter. Keep them where you can see them. Also, be sure to haul out that fruit or vegetable tray during premium after school or after work snack time!

Make salad prep easier

Problem: Salads are delicious, but they are time consuming to make. It’s easier to buy lunch than pack lunch.

Solution: Lettuce is the most difficult part of the salad. Some types of lettuce do not last as long as other varieties. Iceberg lettuce will not last long once washed. Meanwhile, washed romaine can last a week if washed, patted dry and placed in a gallon Ziplock bag with a paper towel. If you prefer Iceberg lettuce because of the crunch, add some chopped cabbage to your romaine.

Alternatively, you can purchase baby spinach, mixed greens, or other lettuce that is ready to eat.

Use the washed lettuce and the already sliced vegetables from your tray to make a quick and easy salad anytime.

Try to eat a new fruit or vegetable

Problem: You need to eat more fruits and vegetables, but you really don’t like very many.

Solution: Try a new fruit or vegetable, maybe you will like it.

Try it, You'll like it

Try it, you’ll like it was a silly song on Yo, Gabba, Gabba. My kids used to watch it when they were younger. I would sing it when I wanted them to try a new food. As a parent you may feel like this strategy does not work. Don’t give up! It will work eventually! It took about 17 years for my son to eat asparagus. We always encouraged it, but never forced it. One day he ordered it at a restaurant. I was thrilled!

This method works for adults too. I used to dislike mushrooms and olives, but i kept trying them, now I like them. Try it, You’ll like it!

Try a new fruit or vegetable

Try different cooking methods

For example, if you don’t like boiled or steamed brussels sprouts, you might like them roasted. They taste totally different.

Some cooking methods can increase the nutritional value of certain vegetables, others can decrease the nutritional value. When you are mainly concerned with increasing your overall consumption, it’s best to focus more on which method will encourage you to eat more, rather than concerning yourself with which way is best. Any way you choose to eat more vegetables is healthier than not eating them. Bottom line, feel free to experiment with many cooking methods with many vegetables. Find what you like!

Boiled Vegetables

This is the most common, yet least desirable way to cook vegetables. They end up soggy and not very appetizing. If this is the only method you use, try one of the other suggestions. If it’s your preferred method, use it!

Steamed Vegetables

Steaming vegetables gives a little better flavor, texture and color than boiling. All you need is a steamer insert and a pot with a lid. Just add some water to the bottom of the pot, place the insert inside and put you vegetable of choice on top, cover and steam the vegetables to desired firmness.

Roasted Vegetables

Many vegetables are very tasty roasted. Brussels Sprouts are my favorite! Sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots are awesome roasted! Just place them on a sheet pan, coat with olive oil, season as desired and roast in the oven at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes.

Roasted brussels sprouts recipe

Grilled Vegetables

Choose a tasty marinade, then place your vegetable of choice on kabobs, in a grilling basket, or wrap in aluminum foil and grill to desired firmness.

grilled vegetables

Smoked Vegetables

Vegetables can be smoked! Smoke low and slow to maintain some crispness with a nice smoky favor.

Smoked Asparagus recipe

Vegetable Stir Fry

This is a great way to cook vegetables. Traditionally stir fry is done on a large grill or in a wok. Start with some stir fry oil , add the carrots and cauliflower first, fry for a couple minutes. Then add broccoli and snow peas, add more oil and some soy sauce to coat. Fry for a couple more minutes. Add bell peppers, onions and a few drops of sesame oil. Continue to fry for a couple more minutes. Add minced garlic, canned bamboo shoots, canned water chestnuts, and sesame seeds. Continue to fry until all vegetables are warm and slightly softened.

stir fry

Pressure cooked vegetables

Many vegetables can be pressure cooked faster than roasted. One of my favorites is pressure cooked beets. I use a Ninja Foodi. Just place the washed beets in the Ninja Foodi, add 1 cup of water. Close and pressure cook on high for 15-20 minutes with quick release. Peel and slice the beets!

Pressure cooked Chioggia beets
Pressure cooked Chioggia beets

Go meatless one day per week to eat more vegetables

Meatless Monday is gaining popularity. Some Catholics go meatless on Fridays. Whatever your reason, if it helps increase your consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables it’s worth a try. Here are a couple of great meatless recipes:

Caribbean rice
Pumpkin soup

Puree your fruits and vegetables

Problem: You don’t like the texture of fruits or vegetables.

Solution: Puree them! Make a smoothie or a pureed soup! Soups and smoothies are a great way to eat more fruits and vegetables. Check out this post for more great smoothie ideas:

Smoothie vs. smoothie bowl infographic

Try a cream soup:

Try a New way of preserving your fruits and vegetables

There are many different ways to preserve fruits and vegetables. Each will give your produce a new flavor and texture. These methods are worth a try to give you some more variety.

Canned fruits and vegetables

Canning is quite a project, but it is worth a try. If you are interested in canning, I recommend the this book. Canned fruits and vegetables have a different flavor and texture than fresh or frozen. Some people prefer it, if you like canned fruits and vegetables better, then canning it is a good way to eat more of them.

Fermented vegetables

Try it, You’ll like it! Fermented cabbage is sauerkraut. It is a very healthy way to enjoy cabbage. Here is a recipe for homemade Sauerkraut.

Homemade sauerkraut

Pickle your vegetables

Pickling isn’t just for cucumbers, aka pickles. You can pickle many vegetables: beets, peas, beans, asparagus, and more. Give it a try.

Fill half your plate with vegetables

Problem: You need to eat more vegetables.

Solution: Put more on your plate! It really is that simple.

Pork Schnitzel served with roasted vegetables
Pork Schnitzel served with roasted vegetables

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Health Tips Healthy Home Save Money

How to save money on over the counter medications

I suppose it’s time to help my readers save on over the counter medications. As a pharmacist, I do have plenty of secrets to share with you.

Recently, I was checking out at the grocery store. The cashier told me she was sleepy because she accidently took her night time cough medicine instead of her day time cough medicine. I cringed because there should be no difference. Read on to find out why.

Common symptoms that can be treated at home

  • Pain/fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Allergies
  • Insomnia
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

How to save money on Cold and Flu medications

Here I will share some secret tips that most consumers do not know about the over the counter cold and flu medications. Pharmacists are always a great reference to help you choose a medication for your symptoms. There are thousands of cold and flu products on the market sold under many brand names, although all of these products are just combinations of very few ingredients.

Disclaimer: Always read the safety information on all over the counter medications. Follow the manufacturer recommended dosing. Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any over the counter medication if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have any health conditions, allergies or are taking and medications.

1. Don’t buy oral phenylephrine or any oral product containing phenylephrine

Phenylephrine has been found to be ineffective at treating nasal congestion in oral form. It has no value, but is still on the market to give manufacturers time to reformulate their products. The reason it has been allowed to remain on the market is because it is still considered safe, but not effective. Even though it is not effective you will still have drug interactions and side effects associated with it’s use, but no benefit.

What should you use instead of phenylephrine to treat nasal congestion?

If you want an oral medication for nasal congestion your only option is pseudoephedrine, which you do not need a prescription for. You will have to ask a pharmacist for it. It can be found at most local pharmacies for as low as $2.49 for 24 tablets ~ 21 cents/dose, max of 4 doses/day = 84 cents/day.

Another great option for treating nasal congestion is Afrin nasal spray. Afrin can only be used for 3 days. It is dosed 1-2 sprays in each nostril every 12 hours for 3 days. After 3 days, you will need to use something else to treat your nasal congestion.

what to use instead of phenylephrine

2. Save on Cold and Flu medications by choosing single ingredient medications

Brand name manufacturers try to simplify your purchase by listing symptoms in the name of their product. You could get the same benefit from taking the individual ingredients for less cost, and you could take only the ingredients you need. Usually a cold starts with fever, body aches and sore throat, then nasal congestion, ending with a lingering cough. It would be better to purchase the individual ingredients and treat only the symptoms you currently have.

Lower cost options for “day time” non- sedating cold and flu medications

Instead of using a combination product like these:

Tylenol Cold & Flu Severe -Current cost is $7.67 for 24 caplets ~64 cents a dose, max of 5 doses per day = $3.20/day

Vicks DayQuil Cold and Flu – Current cost is $16.57 for 48 liquicaps ~ 69 cents/dose, max of 4 doses per day = $2.76/day

Treat only the symptoms you have with the single ingredients in these products:

Acetaminophen – This ingredient is effective for treating pain and fever. If you have body aches, sore throat, other pain or fever, then this ingredient will help. Current cost for 325mg tablets = $2.12 for 100 tablets ~ 4 cents/dose, max of 6 doses 3900mg/day = 24 cents/day (note-this is adult dosing)

Dextromethorphan – This ingredient is a cough suppressant. It is used in adults and children 12 years and older to suppress a cough. It is not always good to suppress a cough. If your cough is productive then an expectorant may be a better choice. Current cost for 15mg soft gels = $8.99 for 100 soft gels ~ 18 cents/dose, max of 4 doses/day = 72 cents/day (note-this is adult dosing)

Guaifenesin – This ingredient is only in the Tylenol Cold & Flu severe, not in Vicks DayQuil Cold and Flu. Guaifenesin is an expectorant that helps thin mucus in the bronchial passages to make it easier to cough up mucus. It is most effective if you drink plenty of water. If you drink plenty of water you will help to thin the mucus anyway. This medication is best used to treat a productive cough. It will not help a dry cough at all. It does not suppress a cough. Current cost for 400mg tablets = $8.79 for 200 caplets ~4 cents/dose, max dose of 6 doses/day = 24 cents/day (note-this is adult dosing)

Phenylephrine – Is found in both Vicks DayQuil and Tylenol Cold & Flu Severe. Phenylephrine has been found to be ineffective at treating nasal congestion. If you do have nasal congestion-use one of my phenylephrine alternative suggestions above.

Lower cost options for “night time” sedating cold and flu medications

Instead of using a combination product like these:

NyQuil Cold & Flu – Current cost $17.88 for 48 liquicaps ~ 75 cents/dose, max of 4 doses/day = $3.00/day (note-adult dosing)

Tylenol Cold + Flu + Cough Night liquid – Current cost $10.67 for 8 ounces ~ $1.33/dose, max of 5 doses/day = $6.65/day

Treat only the symptoms you have with the single ingredients in these products:

Acetaminophen – This ingredient is effective for treating pain and fever. If you have body aches, sore throat, other pain or fever, then this ingredient will help. Current cost for 325mg tablets = $2.12 for 100 tablets ~ 4 cents/dose, max of 6 doses 3900mg/day = 24 cents/day (note-this is adult dosing)

Dextromethorphan – This ingredient is a cough suppressant. It is used in adults and children 12 years and older to suppress a cough. It is not always good to suppress a cough. If your cough is productive then an expectorant may be a better choice. Current cost for 15mg soft gels = $8.99 for 100 soft gels ~ 18 cents/dose, max of 4 doses/day = 72 cents/day (note-this is adult dosing)

Doxylamine – This ingredient is an antihistamine. It is used mostly as a sleep aid because it is very sedating, but also has a drying effect that can help with congestion. If you are taking either of the above combination products to help you sleep, you could save a lot by using the single ingredient. Current cost for 96 – 25mg tablets = $7.17 ~4 cents for a half a tablet dose (12.5mg is the amount in a dose of the 2 combination products above). (Note-this is adult dosing.)

Phenylephrine – Is found in Tylenol Cold + Flu + Cough, but not NyQuil. phenylephrine has been found to be ineffective at treating nasal congestion. If you do have nasal congestion-see my phenylephrine alternative suggestions above.

3. Buy generic cold and flu medications

I am a pharmacist and I almost always buy generic medications. They work just as well as brand name medications for a fraction of the cost. There are a couple of exceptions. I prefer brand name for flavored medications. Liquid or chewable medications often taste better if you buy brand name. The other exception is nasal sprays. I have found brand name Afrin to sting less than the generic.

4. Non-drug options for helping with cold and flu symptoms

  • Stay hydrated, this will help with cough, congestion and fever.
  • Use a humidifier, this will help with cough and congestion.

How to save money on seasonal allergy medications

Disclaimer: These recommendations are for mild seasonal allergy symptoms, not severe life threatening allergy symptoms like shortness of breath, hives or severe swelling.

There are many over the counter medications to treat allergy symptoms. Read on for some tips on allergy treatment savings.

1. Avoid combination products

Same as my advice on cold and flu medications, there are plenty of allergy products on the market with more than one ingredient. Watch out for phenylephrine on any product promoted for allergy and sinus relief. Do not buy any product with phenylephrine listed as an ingredient.

2. Choose the right allergy product for your symptoms

Allergy symptoms and treatment options include:

  • Runny/Itchy nose – Oral or nasal antihistamine, nasal steroid
  • Sneezing – Oral or nasal antihistamine, nasal steroid
  • Itchy watery eyes – Oral antihistamine, antihistamine eye drop

Disclaimer: Always read the safety information on all over the counter medications. Follow the manufacturer recommended dosing. Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any over the counter medication if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have any health conditions, allergies or are taking and medications.

The first step is to try the lowest cost option of the non sedating oral antihistamine options: (take only one)

If you still have nasal symptoms, then the next step is to add one nasal steroid . Start with the lowest cost option: (these will take a week or two of daily use to show a benefit)

If you still have nasal symptoms then you can add a nasal antihistamine.

If you still have itchy watery eyes, add an antihistamine eye drop.

3. Buy generic allergy medications

I always choose generic medications for tablets and capsules. It’s okay to try generic flavored oral liquids and chew tabs, but sometimes I choose brands in those cases due to better flavor. Generic nasal sprays are worth a try, but sometimes I opt for brand name if the generic stings more.

4. Use your HSA account if possible to pay for allergy medications.

You may be able to use your HSA to pay for chronic medications for allergy symptoms, but you may need a prescription from your doctor even though these meds due not require a prescription. Just in case, ask your doctor for a prescription at your annual check-up. It will save you money if you can use tax free dollars in your HSA account to pay for OTC medications.

How to save money on OTC insomnia medications

Disclaimer: Always read the safety information on all over the counter medications. Follow the manufacturer recommended dosing. Ask a doctor or pharmacist before using any over the counter medication if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have any health conditions, allergies or are taking and medications.

There are plenty of over the counter options to help with occasional insomnia. The marketing for this indication is very effective in persuading consumers to overspend on very inexpensive medications.

1. Avoid combination products for insomnia

I probably sound like a broken record by now, but there is nothing more frustrating than watching people get sucked into spending more money just to get an advertised brand name medication with extra ingredients they don’t need.

Example:

Advil PM – Current price ~ 52 cents per dose – or take the individual similar ingredients: diphenhydramine 25mg tablets ~4 cents/dose + ibuprofen (if you have pain or fever in addition to your insomnia) ~4 cents/dose.

2. Buy generic medications for insomnia.

Cost saving examples:

ZzzQuil 25mg tablets – Current price ~ 55 cents/dose or you could choose generic (same ingredient) diphenhydramine 25mg tablets ~4 cents/dose.

ZzzQuil Ultra 25mg tablets – Current price ~ 35 cents/dose or you could choose generic (same ingredient) Doxylamine 25mg tablets ~ 7 cents/dose.

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Health Tips Healthy Home New Home

College Dorm Medications – Pharmacist Recommended

Pharmacist recommended College Dorm Medications

Are you are getting ready to send your teen off to their college dorm? Look no further for some practical pharmacist recommended college dorm medications. These items will make a very helpful medicine and first aid kit. I am a pediatric pharmacist with over 2 decades of experience and I am also a mother of three teens. Obviously I need to caution that I cannot just give blanket recommendations because all medications have some contraindications and potential drug interactions. Always read the product safety information and/or speak directly with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other medications or have any health conditions or medication allergies.

Make sure your teen is up to date on immunizations and has a copy of their immunization record and health insurance card. Here is a link to the vaccine recommendations for 19-26 year-olds.

Always send all college dorm medications prescription and non-prescription in the original containers so your teen can read the instructions.

As a pharmacist I usually recommend single ingredient medications. It might save space to include multi-symptom cough and cold medications, but it is not worth the saved space to have you teen taking medications that are not needed. It is also easier to overdose on acetaminophen or ibuprofen with multi-symptom medications. Which is why my pharmacist recommended college dorm medications are nearly all single ingredient medications. I usually buy generic medications because they work just as well as brand name medications. Sometimes I prefer brand name medications due to better flavor.

Which medications should you bring to your college dorm?

Prescribed Medications

Please make sure your teen has all of their prescribed medications and knows how and where to obtain refills. If your teen is going out of state make sure they are still able to obtain refills in that state. All state laws are different, so make sure you have a plan in place ahead of time. Please also make sure your teen is aware of their medication allergies and what their reaction was to the medication. If your teen is taking any prescribed medications or has any medication allergies or health conditions, check with their doctor or pharmacist if any of the other medication listed are still safe to include in their kit.

Pain/Fever medication

Include a small bottle of Ibuprofen (MOTRIN, ADVIL) and/or acetaminophen (TYLENOL). The bottle size depends on how much how much you expect your teen will need. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are both good choices for pain or fever. They can both provide relief from a sore throat or headache. Ibuprofen is better for menstural cramps, tooth or bone pain, and is also an anti-inflammatory. It would also be a good idea to include a digital thermometer.

Gastrointestinal medications

Heartburn medication. A small bottle of Tums. Even if your teen does not have trouble with heartburn now, they may start to have problems when they get to choose all of their own food for the first time. College meal plans are sometimes all you can eat, including many dessert options. If they use up their supply and request more, that would be a good time to discuss better food choices and smaller meal sizes.

Diarrhea/Constipation medicine. Travel size Imodium. If they make poor food choices or get sick from close living quarters they will love you forever for including medication for diarrhea. This would not be the medication they will want to walk to the nearest pharmacy to obtain. For constipation I recommend better food choices and exercise as first line treatment for occasional constipation. Fruits, veggies, All-bran, prunes, prune juice, more water, and nice walk. If that doesn’t work, and it’s a new problem, it’s probably due to lack of fiber in their diet. Most college students to do not eat enough fiber in their diet. It would not hurt to include a fiber supplement in the medication kit. If they take the fiber supplement, make sure they are staying hydrated.

Hydration. Diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration. Including a few packs of Pedialyte or Liquid IV will help if your teen is dehydrated. Staying hydrated can also reduce the risk of constipation. Check out my other post on how to increase your fluid intake.

Cold and flu medications

Nasal Congestion medicine. I recommend including something for allergies and at least one decongestant. Maybe your teen does not suffer from allergies, but could if they move to a new area. I prefer Zyrtec for allergy symptoms, but Claritin and Allegra are also good choices for a non-sedating antihistamine. I would also include a decongestant incase the congestion is from a cold or flu. In this case pseudoephedrine is my first choice. In some states it can only be purchased from a pharmacist. I would also include a bottle of Afrin nasal spray. This can only be used for three days, six doses. It is dosed 1-2 sprays each nostril every 12 hours. It cannot be used for more than 3 days, but it will be three glorious days of breathing through your nose during the worst of any cold or flu.

Cough medicine. For cough in teens and adults it is okay to use Delsym. There are age restrictions on the purchase of Delsym in some states due to abuse potential. This should not be a problem for most college students because the age to purchase is 18. I still think it is the best over the counter option for cough for teens and adults and I am sending a bottle to college with my teen. I would also include cough drops that have menthol as the main ingredient and some that are just soothing throat drops with pectin as the main ingredient. The menthol drops are best for cough suppression. The pectin drops are better for sore or irritated throat, but can also help a bit with cough.

Topical medications

For cuts and scrapes I recommend triple antibiotic ointment and a package of a variety of sizes of Band-Aids.

For itchy rashes a tube of 1% hydrocortisone cream will be a helpful medication to bring to your dorm room.

Canker sores can be brought on by stress, which is why I recommend including Kanka, a topical anesthetic for mouth sores.

Sleep Aids

I prefer non pharmacological treatment as first line for insomnia. I can understand how sleeping in a new place might be a problem due to noise, stress, or just a new environment. Honestly, I used a box fan to block out the noise when I stayed in a dorm. Earplugs are an inexpensive option that might be helpful. A sleep mask might help if your teen is sensitive to light. Good sleep hygiene would be ideal, but if all else fails it wouldn’t hurt to have a small supply of melatonin. I’d recommend 2.5mg or less as a starting dose.

College dorm medication checklist

Disclaimer: Always check with your teen’s doctor or pharmacist if they have any allergies, medical conditions, or are taking any prescribed medications before including these medications in your college dorm medication kit.

  1. Prescribed medications
  2. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  3. Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  4. Cough drops (menthol)
  5. Throat Drops (pectin)
  6. Tums
  7. Imodium (loperamide)
  8. Fiber
  9. Pedialyte packets
  10. Non sedating antihistamine (Zyrtec, Claritin or Allegra)
  11. pseudoephedrine
  12. Brand name Afrin nasal spray (oxymetazoline)
  13. Delsym (grape flavor)
  14. Triple antibiotic ointment
  15. 1% hydrocortisone cream
  16. Kanka
  17. Lubricating eye drops (Artificial Tearsnot Visine)
  18. Melatonin 2mg tabs
  19. Multiple vitamin
  20. ChapStick
  21. Sunscreen
  22. Insect repellant

Basic First Aid Supplies for College Dorm Checklist

  1. digital thermometer
  2. Variety of Band-Aids
  3. Ice Pack
  4. Scissors
  5. Tweezers
  6. Cotton balls/swabs
  7. Gauze pads
  8. Medical tape
  9. Ace bandage
  10. Tick Key
  11. Alcohol swabs
  12. Gloves

Other College Dorm Needs

Check out our other post for what you need to make your dorm your home. This post includes many items we forgot to pack. Be prepared!

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Five Sneaky Tricks to Increase Your Hydration

According to the CDC the average American adult drinks about 39 ounces of water per day. This is below the recommended amount. If you are like many adults who wish to increase your water intake, read on for five sneaky tricks to increase your fluid intake.

Why should I drink more water?

Water is essential for life. Your body is about 60% water. You need water for temperature regulation, clear thinking, eliminating waste, and proper circulation.

Drinking adequate amounts of water prevents dehydration, keeps your skin healthy, reduces fatigue, prevents constipation, and reduces the risk of kidney stones.

How much water do I need?

The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends that healthy men consume 3.7 Liters ( 125 ounces) and healthy women consume 2.7 Liters or 91 ounces of water each day.

These are just guidelines for adults with average activity. There are other factors that could change your water needs such as physical activity, climate, age, sex, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Warm climate could increase your fluid intake needs.
Warm climate could increase your fluid intake needs.

How can I increase my hydration?

Increasing your daily fluid intake could be as easy as just setting a goal and finding ways to stick to it. If you don’t really care for drinking plain water than finding ways to flavor it could help. Maybe you just need to find ways to fit drinking more fluids into your daily routine. Read on for some great ways to increase your daily fluid intake.

How to increase your hydration infographic

1.Set a goal to increase your fluid intake

Use an app to keep track of your water consumption goals.

If you already enjoy drinking water you may just need to set a goal and find a way to stick to it. Believe it or not there are plenty of apps out there to help you keep track of your water consumption goals. These apps will be best used with a water bottle with measurement marks on it to help you keep track of your consumption.

2. Flavor your water to help increase your fluid consumption

Tea is a great way to flavor water
Tea is a great way to flavor your water.

If you struggle to drink plain water it may really help if you flavor your water. I like to infuse fruit flavor into my water. My favorite is lemon, but there are plenty of fruits and vegetables that can give your water a pleasant flavor without adding too may calories. I like to use a water pitcher with infuser to add fruit to my water because it keeps the seeds out of my water. It is also easy to clean out and refresh the fruit. If you prefer you could drink iced or hot tea as an alternative to plain water or fruit infused water. It’s best to try decaffeinated teas if possible. I’d recommend trying several teas before you rule this out. There are so many different teas you could try; there has to be at least one you would like.

3. Make drinking water a habit to help increase your hydration.

You can easily increase your fluid intake by making drinking water part of your daily routine. Jim Kwik, author of Limitless has a great example of this in his morning brain enhancing routine. He drinks a tall glass of water every morning to help replace overnight losses from breathing. You could also make it a habit to drink a tall glass of water before each meal. This can also help you to eat less and could improve your weight loss goals.

4. Eat your water to help increase your fluid consumption.

Celery is 95% water.
Celery is 95% water

Simply increasing you consumption of fruits and vegetables could help to increase your overall fluid consumption. Some fruits and vegetables are very high in water. Examples of fruits and vegetables with the high water content are cabbage, celery, watermelon, peaches, bell peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, oranges, cantaloupe, and strawberries. Other foods with high fluid content are yogurt, cottage cheese, and soup. Try adding some of these foods to your diet. You could swap French fries for coleslaw, or swap a sandwich for a salad or soup. Have a breakfast smoothie or try my Immune Boosting granola with yogurt.

Immune-boosting-granola-served-with-yogurt
Immune boosting-granola served with yogurt.

5. Keep water convenient to help increase consumption.

Find a water bottle you love and make sure to take it with you. Make sure it fits into the cup holder in your car. Find one with a handle that is easy to carry, or invest in a water bottle carrier.

Leave a glass of water on your night stand at night. Keep a glass near you at work. Fill a pitcher with plain or fruit infused water and keep it in the refrigerator. Keep a tray of fresh sliced fruit or veggies in your refrigerator.

Prepared veggie tray
Grab and Go veggie tray to keep in your fridge.

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Breakfast recipes Health Tips Healthy Recipes Recipes

Pharmacist Shares Immune Boosting Granola Recipe

Customers are flooding into local pharmacies in search of immune boosting supplements. Many of these immune boosting ingredients can easily be included in your diet. It’s much less expensive to eat your vitamins than to purchase supplements. I’m a pharmacist and I would love to share my recipe for Immune Boosting Granola. Granola is a quick and easy breakfast or snack that can easily be added to any daily meal plan. Add some to you favorite yogurt or just pack it for a quick and easy snack.

Disclaimer: The statements made regarding this recipe have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of this recipe has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. This recipe is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Immune Boosting Nutrients

In order to make an immune boosting recipe, one first needs to know which nutrients are known to boost immunity. I have compiled a list of immune boosting vitamins and minerals, because adding more to your diet can help boost your immunity.

Vitamin C- There is research to support Vitamin C supplementation in reducing the length and severity of respiratory infections.1 Vitamin C plays an important role in immune response.

Zinc – Plenty of research is certainly available supporting zinc supplementation in reducing the length and severity of infections.1 Zinc is an important player in immune response.

Vitamin D – There is some evidence that vitamin D could reduce the risk of Influenza and COVID-19 infections and death.2

Vitamin B6- A deficiency in Vitamin B6 reduces your ability to make antibodies to fight off infection. Vitamin B6 could help strengthen immunity.3

Vitamin E- Immune response is enhanced by Vitamin E. It can provide protection against infections.4

Selenium- The immune system relies on adequate dietary selenium.5

Immune Boosting Ingredients

I selected my granola ingredients to include as many immune boosting vitamins and minerals as possible so they can help boost immunity. Here is a list of my ingredients because it is important to understand why they were included in my recipe.

  1. Elderberry syrup (find it here): Elderberry syrup is also used to enhance immunity. Elderberries are high in flavonoids, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. It may also help reduce symptoms of viral infections by stimulating immune response.6
  2. Matcha (find it here): Another natural superfood, matcha is green tea powder. It is made by grinding green tea leaves into a fine powder. Regular consumption of green tea could decrease influenza infection rates and cold symptoms.7
  3. Hemp hearts(find them here), pumpkin seeds and Flax Seeds: I included all of these mostly for the zinc and omega 3 and 6. These polyunsaturated fats also have been extensively studied for their role in immune health.8
  4. Nuts: These serve as a good source of selenium and zinc. I also chose Brazil nuts because they have the highest amount of selenium. Cashews are also high in zinc.
  5. Sunflower seeds: These seeds also have some healthy fats, but I chose them mostly because they are an excellent source of vitamin E. They are also a good source of selenium and vitamin B6.
  6. Ginger: Can also help reduce the severity of respiratory infections.9
  7. Blueberries: Another natural superfood. Blueberries are a good source of Vitamin C. I included them because they are one of the best sources of antioxidants, mostly flavonoids.

Immune Boosting Granola Recipe

Ingredients:

4 Cups Oats

1 Cup mixed nuts (cashews, almonds, and Brazil nuts)

1/4 Cup sunflower seeds

1 Cup shelled pumpkin seeds

1/4 Cup hemp hearts

1 Tablespoon matcha powder

2 Tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

2 Tablespoons flax seed

1/3 Cup dried cranberries

1/2 Cup shredded dry coconut

1/3 Cup dried blueberries

1/2 Cup honey

1/3 Cup Peanut butter

2 Tablespoons Elderberry Syrup

1/3 Cup coconut oil

Directions:

First preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, matcha, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and flax seed. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix the peanut butter, coconut oil, honey, elderberry syrup. Once mixed, pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until evenly coated.

Cover a Jelly Roll Pan with parchment paper. Spread the granola over the paper. Bake for 15 min. Remove from the oven and mix in the dried coconut. Bake for 10 more minutes. Remove and mix again. If the coconut is not completely toasted, bake for 2 more minutes or until most of the coconut is toasted but not burnt. Lastly, remove from the oven and stir in the dried fruit while the granola is still warm. Finally, allow the granola to cool to room temperature. Although it is difficult not to finish it all in one sitting, you may have some leftover. If so, you can store in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Immune Boosting Granola Served with Yogurt

Granola makes a great gift!

References:

  1. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/90495
  2. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/4/988
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28367454/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266234/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30200430/
  6. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1271/bbb.120112
  7. https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/23/7/1795
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6834330/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7019938/

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