Health & Wellness

June Dairy Month: A Milk Toast to our Maine Dairy Farmers

June Dairy Month: A Milk Toast to our Maine Dairy Farmers

By Ashley Sears, Esq.,  sponsored member of Maine Dairy Promotion Board’s Moo Squad. There’s nothing more refreshing after a workout or before a restful night’s sleep than a tall, wholesome glass of milk.  This month, we celebrate June Dairy Month and toast to our local Maine dairy farmers.  From grass to glass, Maine farmers focus on the well-being of their dairy cattle by providing them with a nutritious diet, fresh clean water, regular medical care, comfortable and safe living conditions, and most importantly, love.  Dairy farmers are also conscious stewards of the land, working to protect the water, air, and land that surround their farms so future generations may do the same.  In turn, Maine dairy cows provide us with nutrient-rich milk and some of our favorite dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, and ice cream.  The milk that is produced not only nourishes our bodies, it helps to strengthen our state’s economy by providing local jobs and supporting local businesses. As a fourth-generation dairy farmer, I learned from a young age that there is no vacation, sick, or snow days on the farm.  The health and happiness of our bovines is always our number one priority and the values of hard work, time management, compassion, and team work are instilled early on.  Some of life’s most difficult lessons are also learned on the farm.  With the birth of a new calf comes the joy and the anticipation of that calf growing up to be a strong and healthy member of the herd.  There are also the moments where we experience the loss of one of our favorite cows and feel like we have lost a member of our own family.  All the while, we work tirelessly to provide a life for these cows that we can be proud of, with a passion that is unparalleled. In the state of Maine, there are currently 246 dairy farms.  With increased costs of production, volatile milk prices, and decreased consumption of dairy products, it is a trying time for farmers.  Yet, dairy farmers continue to care for their animals 24/7, 365 days a year and work to provide our state and country with nature’s most natural, complete product: milk.  Milk is the number one food source of nine essential nutrients, including calcium, Vitamin D, and potassium, and provides for strong bone growth, lowers the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease and obesity, and provides for an overall quality diet. While we celebrate June Dairy Month for one month out of the year, I ask why we don’t recognize the efforts of Maine dairy farmers for twelve months, 365 days a year?  Join myself and members of the Maine Dairy Promotion Board on Sunday, June 25, 2017 as we host the inaugural Cowabunga 5K and Family Dairy Day in Portland, ME.  The event will feature a 5K run/walk, local farmers, baby calves, educational demonstrations, local and state dairy businesses and organizations, and an assortment of dairy products to sample.  Proceeds will be donated to the Howard C. Reiche Community School’s food pantry, which operates through the summer, as part of the Milk2MyPlate program.  For more information, please visit: http://drinkmainemilk.org/cowabunga-5k/. I encourage each of you to recognize and thank your local dairy farmer for their efforts to provide a high quality, nutritious product to our communities, our state, and our country.  I would also like to express my gratitude to consumers and Maine residents for their support of the dairy industry and placing their trust in Maine farmers to provide an abundant, safe food supply.  Cheers to many more years of...

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Soggy spring workouts

Soggy spring workouts

Well it is finally here – Spring, that is, and let us all go outside and enjoy those long walks, trails runs, swimming in the lake (brrr)…. Oh wait, yeah, it is raining again.  As I know many people love to get outside and enjoy the great state of Maine, the weather does not always cooperate. Thunder showers are fun to watch from inside and down pours are not inviting however those days that are not so extreme give you options, and as I see it you have two of them. First break out the raincoat, smart wool socks and layer up and keep with the plan. Numerous times, I have said no to going out because of the rain, and most of those times I could have gone but opted for the easier route, saying guess this is my off day or I will get on a treadmill. However, the times when I have stayed with the plan to go out always seem like the best workouts, most beautiful days, or I see the most wildlife. I encourage everyone this spring to not be afraid of a little mud, water, or cooler weather, be a big kid and go jump in the puddles. Get out and enjoy – run a little slower, walk a little less far, but you will be thankful you got outside. The second option is for those total wash out days, they happen and complete downpours are not fun to be outside in. Have plan for these days, many gyms, YMCA’s, Rock Climbing Clubs, and swimming pools have drop in Fees. $10-15 for a drop in fee is not the most cost efficient but if it is only once a month then it can be a great deal and offer you the chance to try something new or get your work out in. In addition, if you are looking for those great, efficient indoor workouts looks up some fitness classes. Again, most Gyms and YMCA’s have them or maybe a friend has DVD set of works outs you can do together. Just ’cause the sun is not shining does not mean it needs to rain on your parade. Have your rain day plan set in advance then it will not seem like a chore to find something to do when they do come. I have at least four alternative workout plans that I can use at any time. At the end of the day whether you go outside or stay in, the most important part is to enjoy your choice and not feel guilty about it.  Tomorrow is another day and the sun will come out this spring (right? It will, right?) In addition, we will all have the chance for new adventures or to continue old traditions. If you want, some great advice about making those memories be sure to read Jennifer Stevens Jones Blog from last month!   Jim’s family recipe – Mocha Cheesecake Brownies 3 1/2 cups sugar 1 2/3 cups butter (3 1/4 sticks) melted and cooled 3/4 cups cocoa 2 Tbsp instant coffee 1/8 tsp salt 6 large eggs 1 1/2 cups flour 1 Tbsp. vanilla Cheesecake Filling 2 pkg Philly cream cheese – softened 2/3 cup sugar 1 tsp vanilla Garnish – 1 cup mini chocolate chips Beat together sugar, melted butter, cocoa, instant coffee and salt at medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. At low speed, slowly add flour. Add vanilla. Spread half the batter into a greased 10x 15 inch pan. Spoon filling gently onto brownie batter. Spoon/pour remaining brownie batter over...

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Life Mantras

Life Mantras

By Jennifer Stevens Jones, sponsored member of the Maine Dairy Promotion Board’s Moo Squad I feel that I live a pretty ordinary life. I am married, have two kids and two dogs, work full time, and enjoy staying active.  Over the last couple months, I have focused on finding a balance that works best for our life right now. I have come up with some catch phrases that have helped me when I need a reality check on my life. Make Memories – This as a reminder to simply do things. Having two small children usually makes things difficult, but that’s not an excuse because life is not always easy. Keith and I have tried to remain as active as we can with our girls. We go hiking, camping, fishing, out to dinner, shopping, and lot of other things, however it is all slightly different. We have learned to adapt to having the girls for our adventures. For example, we schedule most of our activities around naps because our girls are terrors if they don’t get naps. Adventures filled with joy and laughter are my favorite, but adventures that don’t turn out exactly as planned won’t be forgotten. When we have (what feels like) a horrible experience, I remind myself that we are making memories. All our memories are not going to be picture perfect or Pinterest worthy and that is okay. Sometimes the ‘horror adventures’ make the best stories. Keith and I are fortunate to have some great friends enjoying life with us that don’t shy away from making memories too – such as ice fishing on Moosehead Lake in February … with 5 kids under 3.     Life Goes in Phases – This is a reminder that what life is like today may not be applicable in 5 years, 2 months, or even tomorrow. I have learned that it is important to remember that life is going to keep moving, time doesn’t stop. When life is difficult, whether it be a tough day at work or cranky and stubborn children, I remind myself that everyday isn’t going to be that way. With 2 kids under 3, Keith and I are in the “young children” phase of my life; our schedule is pretty predicable and we spend more Saturday nights at home on our couch than we do out. I know that before long we will be chasing the kids around from place to place. We have decided to embrace this phase of life, and joined the minivan club!   Pick Your Battles – this is a reminder to let the small things slide, and not get upset about all the little things. There are so many things that we can dwell on or go crazy trying to micro manage, but I have found that most things don’t deserve that much attention. Right now I am trying to focus my attention and energy on things that matter most for me. For example, I want my girls to eat well balanced meals, but I refrain from getting worked up if they don’t eat all their vegetables at dinner because I know that tomorrow we can try again. I also want to be consistent with my workouts, but I don’t beat myself up if I stop and walk during my training runs because I know that some days are harder than others. I hope that you’re able to relate to one (or all) of these catch phrases and they help you as much as they have me.   As the weather starts to warm and the family is looking...

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Starting the Day on the Right Foot with Breakfast

Starting the Day on the Right Foot with Breakfast

By Ashley Sears, Esquire, Sponsored Moo Squad athlete Call me crazy, but nothing beats a wholesome, healthy breakfast to start the day.  I like to think of sleep as my time travel to breakfast, and without a solid breakfast, hanger is a real life emotion for me.  My family and friends know that I used to be a “leftovers for breakfast” kind of kid.  It wasn’t unusual to see shepherd’s pie or spaghetti on my plate in the morning before school (not the healthiest options, I know). In high school, I started changing my eating habits and having eggs, toast, and jam. In college, my eating habits were somewhat less disciplined and I would often have sugary cereal or a granola bar. Once I got to law school and realized how important a complete breakfast was to stay focused through late night classes and studying, I took the time to meal prep and have breakfast ready for class the next morning. Overnight oats, yogurt parfaits, and smoothies became my go-to meals. Not only did this benefit me in the classroom, it contributed to my running and overall health. This week, March 6-10, marks National School Breakfast Week. Additionally, throughout the month of March, we recognize and celebrate National Nutrition Month.  This provides an opportunity to talk about healthy lifestyle choices, recipes that taste good and are good for you, and how we can eat well while still leading hectic and busy lives. The National School Breakfast Week program was founded in 1989 through the collaborative efforts of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the School Nutrition Association. The program provides over 13 million breakfast meals to school-aged children, regardless of economic background, helping students to be alert and productive during the school day. This year’s theme for National School Breakfast Week is “Take the School Breakfast Challenge,” which encourages students, parents, and teachers to start their morning with a healthy breakfast. Often short on time and trying to complete a million tasks before the school day starts, taking time the night before to prepare breakfast is a great option to save time and ensure that you aren’t skipping breakfast the next day.  Incorporating dairy products into breakfast is also a surefire way to get the necessary protein, calcium, and vitamins you need to stay focused, energized, and full until lunch. Here are a few of my favorite breakfast recipes, that can be made ahead of time and provide a bounty of protein, vitamins, and flavor! Wild Blueberry Smoothie: ½ cup milk 1 scoop vanilla protein powder ½ cup vanilla or plain yogurt ½ cup frozen wild blueberries 1 tsp. cinnamon Handful of ice cubes Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender.  Blend until desired consistency.  Place in freezer overnight and let thaw in morning.  Enjoy on your way to work or school. Maple Overnight Oats: ½ cup steel cut oats ½ cup milk ½ scoop vanilla protein powder 1 T pure maple syrup ½ cup chopped apples 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. nutmeg 1 T chopped walnuts or almonds Bring oats and milk to a boil on the stove.  Stir in protein powder, maple syrup, spices, and chopped apples.  Place in a Ball Mason jar or microwave safe container and sprinkle nuts on top.  Store in fridge and reheat in microwave for one minute in the morning. Patriotic Parfait: ¾ cup vanilla or plain yogurt ¼ cup blueberries ¼ cup diced strawberries ¼ cup raspberries ¼ cup granola of choice (I love GrandyOats Wild Blueberry granola; check for sugar amounts on granola, as some can contain a...

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Put Your Best Fork Forward

Put Your Best Fork Forward

By Anne L’Heureux, Registered Dietitian and sponsored Moo Squad athlete.  Ah March, a wonderful time of year. We are over the hump of winter, the days are getting longer, and I’m fully gearing up for race season. As a Dietitian, March also means it’s National Nutrition Month. Nutrition is important every month of the year, but in March, Dietitians all across the country rev up their campaigns of why good nutrition is so important. I am lucky enough to be a newly sponsored athlete of the Moo Squad and couldn’t think of a better way to kick things off. This year’s theme for NNM is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”. Whenever I have told someone to put their best foot forward, I am encouraging them to be their best self, show me what they’ve got, leave it all out there! This is the approach I take for every race I compete in. If this approach helps us perform better, get a better job, be a better spouse or parent, then can’t it help us with better nutrition too? Of course it can. So let’s all put our best fork forward! Sticking with the fork theme (forks having four prongs) I have decided to give you four ways in which I put my best fork forward every day. Plan: The successes that I have had comes with much planning. I plan my race season. I plan my weekly workouts. I break those weekly workouts down and plan them into my days. I plan my meal timing around work and training. And I plan what I eat around getting the right foods, in the right amounts, all day long. As a result, I have improved my race times, improved my body composition, and decreased the number of days when I am unable to eat nutritiously. Am I asking you to be this fanatic about it? (Of course I would love if everyone did!) The reality is that planning isn’t that hard. It just takes time and consistency in order to build habits. I started by planning my meals, because as a Dietitian that’s just what I do. So I stopped leaving meals and snacks up to chance, and began packing my food for the day, every day of the week. Each day I look at my schedule, figure out how long I will be away from home, and pack enough good foods to get through. Breakfast at home, yogurt & fruit mid-morning, a hearty salad with a side of cottage cheese for lunch, a pre workout smoothie made with milk, and post workout chocolate (or sometimes coffee flavored) milk, and a sensible dinner. If it has been a particularly active day, I’ll have a delicious evening snack of cinnamon sprinkled cherries atop some greek yogurt. As long as I’ve planned my food appropriately, I am full of energy all day long. As a result, staying focused at work and still having energy for training is easy! Be consistent: The plan above is great, but if it’s sporadic, then so are my results. And I can’t have that. Being consistent is how actions that used to feel like chores (planning, prepping, timing) turn into habits. And when something is habit, it’s easy. You do it without thinking. Once you do it without thinking, you start to see results. If I could pick one thing that has truly contributed to my long term success, it is my consistency. Eat for nutrition: As a Dietitian, I see a lot of clients. Many of them want to improve their performance, lose weight, or both. Our...

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How to tackle a Snow Day

How to tackle a Snow Day

February 9th started out like most post birthdays, and basically like every day. Wake up Cooper for breakfast cereal with whole milk. Does anyone drink the other stuff anymore? Kept an eye out for the impending Snowmageddon and saw a beautiful sunrise. Took Cooper to daycare and headed out to Quarry Road Recreation area in Waterville. If you are a local and have not checked this place out, I highly recommend it. Over 15k of trails, from rolling hills to steep climbs, and flat track for those speed work outs – truly all you need to train with the added bonus of not being on pavement. In the winter it is groomed for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Truly amazing. I strapped on my snowshoes, looking for an hour long run. As the miles passed, I could see the fast approaching dark gray clouds, and the sun was gone as I headed home to get ready for work. After returning home I showered and got ready, and I swear it took me less than 15 minutes, and when I came outside, snow had not just begun falling, full whiteout conditions had set in. I went to work, tackling a few staffing items and preparing Intramurals for the evening with the assumption that Thomas College would close at noon, and it did. I ate my usual lunch of blended yogurt and other goodies (see my other blog posts for recipe), texted with Mandy and headed home around 12:30 p.m., parked the truck in the garage, and shoveled a path for Cooper and Mandy to the garage for their arrival home shortly after. We all huddled together on the couch with the propane fire stove on, for that extra warmth we all like. We settled in for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and the occasional running of a 5-year-old who refused to wear anything but his underwear. As the movie ended, Mandy and I had decided on burgers and macaroni and cheese for dinner.  This would not be your normal macaroni and cheese though.  Two cups of cheddar and half and half in the cast iron skillet and roasted veggies for good measure, the macaroni and cheese was ready.  See recipe. Then came the fun, with Mandy grilling in the snowstorm  and many posts on social media of snow Burpees AKA Snurpees. Cooper and I set out for some of our own. Of course I did them in shorts and a T-shirt, it was cold.   After that we settled down for dinner (photo) an epic game of Uno which as usual I lost. One last check of the weather and deciding to wait until the morning to snow blow, we got Cooper cleaned up and ready for bed (still in his undies), read him some Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and off to bed he went.  Now to relax and crash as 5:15a.m. snow blowing will come early.  Could not think of a better way to approach a snow day, got my work out in, cuddled with my family, ate great food, and got to be a crazy monkey in the snow with Cooper.  Makes for a happy...

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