Quick Fixes for Family Meals

The fridge is empty, there’s no time to grocery shop between work and other activities, and appetites are ramping up. A little creative thinking can help you avoid resorting to fast food.

Here are a few options to try for last-minute family meals:

Use packaged and prepared foods wisely.

Healthier options in the packaged and prepared foods sections can help round out a meal. For example, a grocery store rotisserie chicken can be a great time-saver for several meals during the week. Serve as a main dish for one meal and use remaining meat to top salads or add to a soup or casserole later in the week. A frozen, fast-food or takeout entree can serve as a good starting point when you add extra veggies, beans, whole grains or lean protein.

Get food delivered.

In larger communities, you may be able to order groceries online and have them delivered to your doorstep. Some stores also offer services that shop for you and assemble your items for quick pick-up at the front of the store. And food delivery apps and services can be a lifesaver – as long as you’ve done a little research to identify healthier restaurants and choices. Look for special offers and discounts for signing up.

Shop your pantry.

Pull together a quick meal with staple ingredients like canned beans, dried whole grain pasta, quick-cooking grains such as quinoa or bulgur, and canned fish or chicken. You can transform canned tomatoes into a healthy sauce, without the excess sodium or added sugars of prepared sauces. Canned broth or stock can be the start to a quick soup, using canned or frozen chicken and veggies.

Try a meal kit.

Options abound! There are meal kits to fit a variety of diets and tastes as well as available prep time. While many require a subscription for delivery, some are available at grocery stores, drugstores and other major retailers. This is a quick way to pick up everything you need to prepare a meal without navigating the store aisles. Read the nutrition info and watch portion sizes, which can be overly generous.

Shop the corner store.

A nearby convenience store always works in a pinch. While there are shelves full of sugary and salty snacks, many also have some healthy options, including fresh produce, canned soup and frozen foods. Walk around the store to scan what’s available and find the healthier options, rather than choosing impulsively.

Bottom line: Quick, healthy meal options are available. Just remember to make smart choices! Read nutrition label information and choose products with lower amounts of sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.

Why Your Skin Gets Drier as You Age

By age 60, almost every adult finds their skin is more arid than it used to be, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Dry patches can strike anywhere, though they’re especially common on the legs, elbows and upper arms. But why?

Dry skin is, in part, simply something that happens with age. Certain factors can exacerbate moisture loss and make the problem worse, though. Here are some of the most common reasons older adults deal with dryness, plus the simple ways to help your skin stay hydrated.

1. Natural Skin Changes-It’s not just skin’s appearance that changes with the years. As we get older, the layers of the skin become thinner and produce less sebum, the oil that keeps skin soft and hydrated. Skin cells begin to turn over at a slower rate, too, which compromises the skin’s protective barrier and makes it less effective at retaining moisture, says Morgana Columbo, MD, a board certified dermatologist in Reston, Virginia.

2. Nutritional Deficiencies and Dehydration-Not getting enough vitamins and minerals — particularly vitamins A and D and niacin, iron and zinc — can contribute to dry skin, notes the AADNot drinking enough water can cause skin to feel drier as well. Older adults are more prone to falling short of the nutrients they need, and they may be more likely to experience dehydration. “As we age, we often have less of an appetite and desire to drink,” says Sharon Allison-Ottey, MD, a geriatrician and member of the Healthy Women Women’s Health Advisory Council.

3. Stress-Stress can strike at any age, but older adults may be more prone to chronic stressors related to health problems, economic concerns or coping with the loss of a partner or loved one. Stress can strike at any age, but older adults may be and these feelings can take a toll on skin. “Stress weakens the skin barrier, allowing for decreased water retention,” Dr. Colombo explains.

4. Medications and Medical Treatments-Taking medications like statins, diuretics, antihistamines or laxatives can exacerbate dry skin, Dr. Ottey says. Medical treatments can have an effect too. Dry skin is a common side effect of dialysis, and it can also occur after undergoing chemotherapy, radiation or targeted therapy for cancer.

5. Tanning-Spending lots of time in the sun or tanning bed, either now or in the past, can zap moisture from your skin, per the National Institute on Aging (NIA). Tanning accelerates the skin’s aging process and causes damage to skin cells, both of which weaken the skin’s protective barrier and make it harder for skin to hold on to hydration, Dr. Colombo says.

How to Treat and Prevent Dry Skin-It’s normal for your skin’s texture to change as you get older. But there are simple steps you can take to help your skin stay better hydrated, so it doesn’t become uncomfortable or itchy.

1. Moisturize Regularly-Slather on a moisturizing lotion or cream within five minutes of showering or bathing, after washing your hands and any time your skin feels dry, recommends the AAD. “It’s the number-one thing to do for dry, itchy skin,” Dr. Colombo says. She suggests seeking out a moisturizer containing ceramides, which can improve the skin’s barrier and help it retain more water. Here are two of her favorites:

  • ​CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
  • ​Cetaphil Restoraderm Soothing Moisturizer

2. Change Your Shower or Bath Routine-Hot water can worsen dryness by stripping skin of its natural oils. Use warm water instead of hot when you shower, and keep showers to shorter than five minutes, the AAD suggests. Wash with a fragrance-free cleanser too, Dr. Colombo recommends. Added scents can irritate dry skin. When you step out of the shower, pat your skin dry with a towel instead of rubbing it vigorously. Try these fragrance-free cleansers:

  • ​CeraVe Hydrating Body Wash
  • ​Naturium Sensitive Skin Body Wash
  • ​Cetaphil Restoraderm Soothing Wash

3. Run a Humidifier-A humidifier adds moisture to your indoor air, keeping skin more hydrated, Dr. Colombo says.

4. Protect Your Skin From Water and Cold-Long periods of exposure to water, cold or wind can make dry skin worse. Wear gloves when you’re washing the dishes, gardening or working out in the cold, recommends the AAD.

5. Limit Your Sun Exposure-UV rays from the sun (or tanning beds) can zap skin’s moisture. Stay in the shade as much as possible, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher (try one of these dermatologist-recommended picks) and wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face.

When to See a Doctor About Dry, Itchy Skin-See your dermatologist if your dry skin doesn’t improve within a few weeks of at-home measures. Your doctor can examine your skin and determine if there’s an underlying condition causing the dryness, like eczema or psoriasis. In some rare cases, serious conditions such as lymphoma or liver, kidney or thyroid issues can also present with dry skin, Dr. Colombo notes. Together, you and your doc can determine the culprit and discuss next steps for treatment.

As with any recommendations, always check with your doctor with any questions or concerns. Kim R. RN


Healthy Options for the Busy Family

Healthy Options for the Busy Family

One wonderful service brought on by the food industry is the wide world of at-home meal
subscription services. What in the world is a meal subscription? I’m glad you asked! Meal
subscription services come under a variety of names – Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Home Chef,
etc.—and are designed to help busy people eat healthily, without having to go to the store!
Meal subscription boxes such as these come with pre-portioned ingredients and recipe cards so
that the cook only needs to follow the simple directions to create yummy dishes in their own
kitchen. You can go online to any of these subscription services and select your meal delivery
frequency, the meals you would like delivered, how many people you’d like to feed, and the
company does the rest! They prepare your ingredients and ship them all overnight on dry ice so
all your food stays fresh. When you open the delivery, every ingredient is ready to use; there is
no chopping, no measuring, and no hassle. You just combine everything and pop it into the
oven or onto the stovetop. It’s that easy!
Meal delivery and subscription services have become wildly popular in the past several years
due to the demand of easy dinner options that don’t include cooking a four-course meal or
going out to a restaurant to eat. These meals are great for dinner parties, date nights, or busy
family life.
Here are some great meal subscription services to check out:
Home Chef: Home Chef features customer-selected weekly menus that rotate on your
schedule. There are over 30 meal preparation kits to choose from, including special occasion
kits, oven-ready kits, 15-minute meals, and so on. Take Home Chef’s online taste quiz to see
which meals you might like most by visiting:  https://www.homechef.com/
Blue Apron: Blue Apron allows you to make a meal plan and offers different menus every week.
Their meal plan options include: a signature plan, a vegetarian plan, and a wellness plan. All of
Blue Apron’s meals are reviewed and approved by nutritionists and are focused on providing
healthy nutrition. Visit their website here to check out their first time customer deals:
Daily Harvest: Daily Harvest is a frozen meal subscription that mails customers a weekly box of
anywhere from 6-24 items a week. This subscription box is vegan (no animal products used) and
can be great for someone on a strict diet. You can also add ingredients you may have at home
to these recipes (like eggs or chicken) if you need to have meat on your plate or just to add
some protein. Daily Harvest also delivers ready to blend smoothies if you’re looking for a health
breakfast option or an on-the-go snack. Check out their offers here:  https://www.daily-harvest.com/
After reading the benefits of these meal delivery services, how could you not be tempted to
indulge in their ferocious flavors and save time and effort at dinnertime?

Note: The above information and links are only resources if you plan to pursue this recommendation.