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Is it a Cold or Seasonal Allergies?

Spring is around the corner and we are all looking forward to longer days and warmer weather. However, this time of year can also bring seasonal allergies for many families and children.

Seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, occur when the immune system reacts to harmless substances including mold, dust mites, pet dander and pollen. In response, the body releases histamine, which can cause nasal drainage, sneezing, coughing, throat irritation, and itchy watery eyes.

 

Allergy symptoms that last throughout the year are often caused by indoor allergens such as pet dander or dust mites. Seasonal allergies are usually related to pollen from weeds, grass and trees. Parents may also notice that their child’s allergy symptoms are worse at certain times of day. A child that is allergic to dust may have symptoms when they first wake up in the morning while a child that has a grass allergy may experience symptoms after they have been playing outside.

 

Because the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are similar to the common cold, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what is causing a child’s symptoms.

 

Questions to Consider:

  • How long has your child had symptoms? The common cold typically resolve within 2 weeks, so if your child has symptoms that last longer than this it may be time to look at allergies as a possible cause.
  • Does your child have a fever? Allergies do not cause a fever, so if your child’s symptoms are accompanied by an elevated temperature it is safe to assume that they have a virus.
  • Does your child have eye symptoms? Allergy symptoms usually include itchy, watery and irritated eyes while the common cold does not. Dark circles under the eyes are also a common sign of allergies in children.
  • Do any of your child’s playmates or siblings have similar symptoms? If you have noticed that other children that your child has been in close contact with have similar symptoms, a virus is the most likely cause.
  • Is there a family history of allergies? Allergies are more common in families with a history of allergies.

 

To diagnose allergies, your child’s provider may order allergy testing through a blood or skin test. Many medications and lifestyle modifications can help control allergy symptoms. See your child’s healthcare provider if you suspect allergies or have any questions or concerns about your child’s symptoms or condition.

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Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 lb spaghetti, vermicelli, capellini, or angel hair pasta (whole wheat or gluten free pasta works great)

1 1/2 lbs broccoli heads, cut from stalks into small florets (about 1 lb florets)

3/4 cup pesto (with cheese or dairy-free)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Grated parmesan, pecorino, or vegan parmesan cheese

Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook to desired tenderness, stirring frequently. See pasta package for instructions – cooking time will depend on the type of pasta you choose.
  2. While pasta is cooking, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add broccoli florets to the pan and cover tightly with a lid.
  3. Let the broccoli steam for 2-5 minutes, or until tender and bright green.
  4. Remove from heat and drain in a colander.
  5. When the pasta is cooked, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water in a separate bowl, then drain the pasta in a colander.
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, combine pesto, olive oil, and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Add additional pasta water to make the sauce more liquid, if desired. Season with salt to taste (if using dairy-free pesto, you may need more salt for flavor).
  7. Add the steamed broccoli to the pasta along with the pesto sauce. Toss the pasta and vegetables gently with the sauce to coat. Salt again to taste, if desired.
  8. Serve pasta topped with grated parmesan, pecorino, or vegan parmesan cheese. If you’re vegetarian, be sure to choose parmesan with a vegetarian rennet. You can also sprinkle on a few red pepper flakes for a touch of spice, if desired.
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Cheater’s Power Salad

prep time: 5 mins

cook time: 15 mins

total time: 20 minutes

yield: 2-4

Ingredients

1 bag southwestern salad mix

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 avocado, cubed

¼ cup nuts or seeds (if not included in the salad mix)

shredded chicken, quinoa, or other protein of choice

Instructions

Cook the chicken (or other protein). For shredded chicken cook one pound of chicken breasts in the Instant Pot (15 minutes) or slow cooker (3-4 hours) with a jar of salsa or some taco seasoning.

Toss your salad ingredients together. Drizzle on the dressing and enjoy!

NOTES

The salad mix I use has lots of cabbage, carrots, kale, cilantro, green onions, as well as some toppings. A good salad mix (like this one) is very important for making this cheater’s salad worth your while. This is not an iceberg lettuce situation. It is fresh, nutritious veggies pre-chopped with some yummy extras to boot.

I don’t recommend making this all at once for one person – I just cook all of the chicken, keep it in the fridge, and then assemble salads throughout the week as I’m ready to eat them.

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15 minute Cauliflower Fried Rice

prep time: 10 mins

cook time: 5 mins

total time: 15 minutes

yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

 

1 medium-sized head of cauliflower OR 1 10oz bag of pre-riced cauliflower

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 bag frozen peas and carrots

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup frozen edamame

2 beaten eggs (use scrambled tofu for vegan)

3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (use tamari for GF)

6 green onions, minced

Instructions

PREP CAULIFLOWER: Shred cauliflower using the largest side of a grater OR by just pulsing some rough cut pieces in a food processor; the end product should resemble smallish grains of rice OR steam the pre-riced cauliflower according to package instructions.

STIR FRY: Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the carrots and garlic and stir fry until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower, edamame, and remaining sesame oil to the pan; stir fry quickly to cook the cauliflower to a soft (but not mushy) texture.

FINISHING TOUCHES: Make a well in the middle, turn the heat down, and add the eggs. Stir gently and continuously until the eggs are fully cooked. Stir in the soy sauce and green onions just before serving.

NOTES

For the sauce on top, whisk equal parts soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, and oyster sauce together and drizzle it over top with sesame seeds.

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Sealants! What are they and why does your dentist recommend them?

Our molars are big, round teeth designed for grinding and chewing.  If you feel your teeth with your tongue, you will feel bumps on them.  These are called cusps, they are like the mountain tops of your teeth—they are sharp and pointy.

In between the cusps or mountains, there are grooves.  These grooves are very deep for some people, and they trap bacteria and sugars, causing cavities.  Sometimes, the grooves are so deep and skinny that your toothbrush bristles can’t reach into them.  For these teeth, dentists recommend sealants.

Sealants coat the teeth and fill in the grooves.  Imagine painting a molar with white fingernail polish.  Sealants coat the teeth for several years, preventing tooth bugs from hiding in the deep grooves and causing cavities.

 

Here are a few common questions parents ask:

  • What age children need sealants?
    1. We recommend sealants on permanent molars. At 6 years of age, children’s first permanent molars start coming in.  At age 12, the second set of permanent molars come in.  So, starting at age 6 and again at 11 or 12 years, your dentist or dental hygienist will check to see if your child needs sealants.
  • My child doesn’t eat candy or drink pop. Does she still need sealants?
    1. Even healthy foods like dried fruit can cause cavities in children with deep grooves. We still recommend sealants, as they last for years.  Sometimes, children’s diet changes at school—they start sharing treats with friends, or drinking juice or pop.
  • Do sealants hurt? Will my son have to get numb?
    1. Sealants are painless, no need for numbing! We will clean the surfaces of the teeth, then use a type of “tooth shampoo” to prepare the tooth for the sealant, then place the sealant.  If your child is very sensitive to taste, we even have products that don’t have any flavors and that minimize rinsing with water.  There are lots of options for sealants, and we highly recommend them.
  • Are sealants the same thing as fluoride?
    1. Sealants are a coating for your teeth, they do not contain fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral found in toothpaste, some mouthrinse and some water supplies.

by Dr. LaVonne Hammelman

 

 

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Heart Pearls – Statins

In honor of February being American Heart Month, I’m sharing pearls from my conversations with family members about cardiovascular disease. Even though I am an Ivy-League trained nurse practitioner with nearly two decades of experience of keeping patients healthy, I’ve found that even my loved ones doubt my perspective until it is validated by their own medical providers, the CDC, or even (shudder) a celebrity interview.

 

“Ask for a statin,” I said to my husband.  His cholesterol had been climbing on his annual work health screening and starting a regular exercise program hadn’t done anything to bring it down.  Long-term research about statins not only shows that they are proven to reduce incidents of heart attacks and strokes, but that they also reduce the incidence of certain types of cancers.  They are not for everybody (especially women at risk of pregnancy), but my experience has shown that very few people have side effects while on statins. Those that do can usually reduce their side effects by taking a daily CoQ10 supplement  along with the statin.

 

Even small amounts of extra cholesterol can accumulate in the blood vessels over the years and lead to hardening of the arteries, so treat slight elevations just as aggressively as very high elevations. When it comes to cholesterol management, it is worth investing in your long-term health.

 

As for my husband, he eventually had a conversation with his own provider, and I had a happy-dance when he came home with a Pravachol prescription.

 

By Ginger Blake, ARNP at North County Clinic

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National Children’s Dental Health Month

February is Children’s Dental Health Month, so what a perfect time to review the best way to care for your child’s teeth!  Make sure you bring your little one in by 12 months of age, if you also want to bring them in when the first tooth erupts, that is great too.  This early first visit is important for several reasons.  First, any dental problems that may be developing can be detected early, and this may reduce the need for costly, extensive care in the future.  In addition, the first dental visit is a great time to talk about behaviors that can affect the dental health of your child.

As your child grows, it is important that they come to the clinic every six months to repeat this process. Small procedures such as a toothbrush cleaning, and later a rubber cup cleaning, as well as dental radiographs will be added at the subsequent appointments.  The developing dentition will be monitored and your child will be assessed for orthodontic care.   Sealants are placed on first and second molars around the age of six and 12 to prevent dental decay.  Some tips for lasting dental health:

  • Brush at least twice a day
  • The ADA recommends that for children younger than three years, begin brushing with a “smear” of fluoridated tooth paste no bigger than a grain rice
  • For children between the ages of 3 and 6, use a pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste
  • Parents or caregivers should be actively involved in this process, remember that until your child can tie their own shoes, they do not have the manual dexterity to brush their own teeth.
  • Any teeth that touch should be flossed
  • A diet that is good for your body will be good for your teeth
  • Avoid sugary drinks and chewy, sticky foods.
  • In the teenage years it is important to help your child maintain a healthy diet also as during the school years candy, soda are more readily available outside the home.
  • Do not let your child get an intraoral piercing as this can be responsible for chipped teeth, soft tissue trauma and occasional tooth loss

 

Try to have patience and keep at it, some children have an easier time than others but patience and persistence will pay off.

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Peanut Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 5 mins

Total Time: 5 mins

Yield: 1 ⅔ cup

You can serve this healthy peanut sauce recipe as a dip or drizzle over Asian dishes! You can toss this savory peanut sauce with noodles, too. It’s good every which way! Recipe yields about 1 ⅔ cup sauce.

Ingredients

¾ cup creamy peanut butter

¼ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup water

⅓ cup reduced sodium tamari or reduced-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar

1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger or ½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 to 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced, to taste

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for sprinkling

Optional garnishes: sprinkling of chopped roasted peanuts and additional red pepper flakes

Instructions

In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients until well blended. If your peanut butter is particularly thick, you may need to add a bit more water to thin out the mixture (adding water will mellow out the flavor as well).

Feel free to adjust to taste here—for example, sometimes I want my sauce more savory and add another clove of garlic, or a little sweeter, so I add extra honey.

If you’re serving the sauce as a party dip, transfer it to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped peanuts and red pepper flakes for some visual interest!

Watch how to make this sauce on our Facebook Page!

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Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

prep time: 15 mins

cook time: 15 mins

total time: 30 minutes

yield: makes about 5 cups

 

Ingredients

8 large cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons butter

5-6 cups cauliflower florets

6-7 cups vegetable broth or water

1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon pepper (more to taste)

1/2 cup milk (more to taste)

Instructions

Garlic: Sauté the minced garlic with the butter in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook for several minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned (browned or burnt garlic will taste bitter). Remove from heat and set aside.

Cauliflower: Bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and cook, covered, for 7-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Do not drain.

Puree: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender. Add 1 cup vegetable broth or cooking liquid, sautéed garlic/butter, salt, pepper, and milk. Blend or puree for several minutes until the sauce is very smooth, adding more broth or milk depending on how thick you want the sauce. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Serve hot! If the sauce starts to look dry, add a few drops of water, milk, or olive oil.

Watch how to make this sauce on our Facebook Page!

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Creamy Avocado Sauce

Creamy Avocado Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: ~2 ½ cups of avocado sauce

 

Ingredients

2 ripe avocados

The juice of 2-4 small limes, adjust to taste

1 medium sized bunch of cilantro, chopped

2-3 jalapeños or Serrano peppers, seeded and deveined (use green bell pepper for a non-spicy version)

3-4 garlic cloves, crushed – adjust to taste

1/4 cup olive oil – or avocado oil for a neutral flavor

1 teaspoon ground cumin – optional, adjust to taste

Salt to taste

 

Instructions

Combine all the ingredients in a blender; it helps the blending process if the avocados are in small chunks and the cilantro is lightly chopped. I also recommend crushing the garlic before putting it in the blender to ensure no one gets a surprise large piece of garlic.

Blend until you have a smooth sauce. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Watch how to make this sauce on our Facebook Page!