Be prepared for flu season

Influenze, or Flu, is a serious respiratory illness. It is easily spread from person to person and can lead to severe complications, even death. We ALL are at risk for getting and spreading the flu. Having the flu may keep you home from work or school. If you have asthma or other lung diseases, you are at higher risk of developing complications from the flu.

Each year in the United States, influenza and its related complications result in an estimated 226,000 hospitalizations and anywhere from around 3,000 to 49,000 deaths. Health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older receive an influenza vaccination each and every year. Most likely, this includes you and your entire family. We encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider to learn more about influenza and annual vaccination.

What causes influenza?

Influenza (flu), also referred to as seasonal flu, is a highly contagious illness caused by the influenza virus. Anyone can get the flu as it is spread easily from person to person, usually when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus my belong to one of three different influenza families: A, B or C.

Influenza type A viruses can infect people, as well as birds, pigs, horses and other animals. Influenza A viruses can be further broken down into different strains. There are two sub-types of influenza A viruses found in and circulating among humans: regular H1N1 and H3N2. These two sub-types are included in the seasonal flu vaccine each year.

Influenza type B viruses are usually found only in humans. Influenza B viruses can cause illness among humans, but in general are associated with less severe contagious disease than influenza A viruses.

Influenza type c viruses cause mild illness in humans. Influenza C cases occur much less frequently than A and B and are not typically included in the seasonal flu vaccine.

In addition to seasonal flu, there are two other flu viruses receiving extra attention around the globe today.

  • Novel 2009 H1N1 Influenza Virus – this new flu virus, also known as swine flu, is a sub-type of influenza A. It has been spreading quickly around the world. It causes illness similar to seasonal flu.

Avian Flu (H5N1) – Avian influenza, or bird flu, is also a sub-type of influenza Type A viruses. While highly contagious in birds, it does not usually infect humans. Several cases of human infection with bird flu viruses have occurred since 1997, primarily in Asia, parts of Europe, the Near East and Africa. The death rate for these reported cases has been greater than 50%. The virus is mainly transmitted to humans by direct contact with infected live, sick or dead poultry. However, it is thought that a few cases of human-to-human spread have occurred.

Are you at risk for getting the flu?

Each year 36,000 Americans die from flu and its complications. For healthy children and adults, influenza is typically a moderately severe illness. Most people are back on their feet within a week. Certain groups of people are more susceptible to complications related to the flu and are considered “high risk”. These groups include the elderly, very young children and people with chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems. For people who are not healthy to begin with, influenza can be very severe and even fatal. If you are considered “high risk” you should do everything you can to prevent the flu.

What should I do if I get the flu?

Anyone concerned about their illness should consult a health care provider. The best thing to do is stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. If you are considered high risk, it is important to contact your health care provider right away. People at high risk are more likely to suffer from severe complications from the influenza virus. Pneumonia is the most common serious complication of influenza.

What are the symptoms of influenza?

Influenza is a respiratory infection with symptoms that can affect the entire body. Symptoms include:

  • Sudden onset of high fever
  • Headache, muscle aches and joint pain
  • Cough (usually dry)
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion and runny nose

How is influenza diagnosed?

It is hard to know for sure you have the flue on the basis of symptoms alone. A doctor’s office exam may be needed to tell whether you have developed the flu or a complication of the flu. There are tests that can determine if you have the flu as long as you are tested within the first 2 or 3 days of illness.

How is influenza treated?

At this time, two antiviral drugs are available: oseltamivir (trade name Tamiflu®), which comes in pill form and zanamivir (trade name Relenza®), which is a powder that comes in an inhaler. These two drugs, one inhaled and one in pill form, have been shown to reduce flu symptoms if started within a day or two of getting sick.

Anti-viral medicine is recommended for people with more severe illness, especially those who require hospitalization. Treatment with anti-viral medicine is most important for people with suspected or confirmed influenza who are at higher risk for complications, including:

  • Children younger than 2 years old
  • Adults 65 and older
  • Pregnant women
  • People with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or COPD, or with suppressed immune systems.

It is important to note that people with chronic lung disease, including asthma, should not use the inhaled powder Relenza, because it sometimes worsens breathing problems.

Preventing Influenza

If you are concerned about getting the flu or you are at high risk, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

Get a flu vaccine each year

The best way to prevent the influenza is to get a flu vaccine every year. The influenza virus is constantly changing. Each year, scientists work together to identify the virus strains that they believe will cause the most illness, and a new vaccine is made based on their recommendations.

The best time to get a flu vaccine is soon after it becomes available in the fall of each year. Anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting sick with the flu or of spreading it to others can get vaccinated. Health experts especially recommend that the following people get the seasonal vaccine each year:

  • Children aged 6 months up the their 19th birthday
  • Pregnant women
  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People of any age with certain medical conditions, including chronic lung disease
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care workers, household contacts of persons at high risk for complications  from the flu, and caregivers of children less than 6 months of age who are too young to be vaccinated.

There are two vaccine options available in the United States.

The flu shot – The viruses in the flu shot are inactivated, which means that someone receiving the vaccine cannot get influenza from the flu shot. The exposure to the inactivated influenza virus helps our bodies develop protection by producing antibodies. The amount of antibodies in the body is greatest one to two months after vaccination and then gradually decline. After receiving the flu shot it usually takes about two weeks for the body to develop immunity to influenza.

Three important things to know about the flu shot:

  • The American Lung Association study showed that the flu shot is safe for people with asthma.
  • The flu shot is covered by Medicare and other health insurance.
  • Most people experience little or no reaction to the flu shot. The most common side effect is a swollen, red, tender area where the vaccination is given.

FluMist – FluMist is a nasal spray approved to protect people from getting the flu. The nasal spray is made from live but weakened virus strains. FluMist is only approved by the FDA for healthy people ages 2 – 49. It has NOT BEEN proven safe for high risk populations. High risk groups, such as people with asthma or COPD, should receive a flu shot.

Practice good health habits

  • Wash your hands often. The most common way to catch the flu is to touch your own eyes, nose or mouth with germy hands. So keep your hands clean, and away from your face. Wash hands with soap and warm water for 30 seconds, or about the amount of time it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
  • Keep your distance when you are sick or if you are around someone else who is sick.
  • Keep it to yourself. One gift you can give others is to help prevent other people from catching your flu. We highly recommend that you STAY HOME from work, school and public places when you are sick. COVER YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing, but never your hand. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

Remember, getting an influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the flu. The shot only takes about two weeks to take effect so it can be effective even if the season has started in your area, and as late in the year as March.

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September is Cholesterol Awareness Month

What you need to know about high blood cholesterol

High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. In fact, the higher your cholesterol, the greater the risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack. Heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women in the United States. Each year, more than a million Americans have a heart attack, and about half a million people die of heart disease.

When there is too much cholesterol (a fat-like substance) in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. Over time, this buildup causes “hardening of the arteries” so that arteries become narrowed and blood flow to the heart becomes slowed down or blocked. This may cause chest pain or even a heart attack.

High blood cholesterol itself does not cause any symptoms, so many people are unaware when their cholesterol is too high. It is important to find out your cholesterol numbers. Lowering levels that are too high lessens the risk of developing heart disease or dying from it you already have it.

A variety of things can affect cholesterol levels. These are things you can do something about:

  • Diet – Saturated fat and cholesterol in food may increase your cholesterol levels.
  • Weight – Being overweight tends to increase your cholesterol level.

Physical activity – Being inactive is a risk factor for heart disease. Regular physical activity can help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol.

Things you can’t do anything about can also affect your cholesterol levels. These include:

  • Age and gender – As people get older, their cholesterol levels rise.
  • Heredity – High cholesterol can run in families.
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Mouthwatering Pork Marsala

Serves: 6; Serving Size: 2 to 3 slices

Ingredients
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp black pepper, divided
1 1/2 lbs center-cut pork loin, cut into 1/4-in slices, well trimmed
2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small tomato, chopped
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup Marsala wine

Preparation
To make this a gluten-free recipe, use tapioca flour instead of all-purpose flour and gluten-free chicken broth.

  1. In a shallow dish, combine the flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; mix well. Coat the pork in the seasoned flour.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the pork; sauté in batches for 1 to 2 minutes per side, adding the remaining oil as necessary. Remove the pork from the skillet; set aside.
  3. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic to the skillet; sauté for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onion is tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the tomato, chicken broth, wine, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil; boil for 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Return the pork to the skillet; cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve topped with Marsala sauce.

Nutritional Information
Exchanges/Choices
2 Vegetable
3 Lean Meat
1/2 Fat

Calories: 241
Calories from Fat: 107
Total Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 2.8 g
Cholesterol: 59 mg
Sodium: 275 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 10 g
Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Sugars: 3 g
Protein: 22 g

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Baked Catfish

Serves 4; Serving size: 1 fish fillet
Prep time: 30 minutes

Ingredients
4 catfish or ocean perch fillets (1 lb total)
2 pieces white bread, crumbled, or 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 Tbsp grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 tsp chopped fresh basil or oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 egg beaten, or 1/4 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup low-fat (1%) buttermilk

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a baking pan with nonstick pan spray. In a pie pan or shallow dish, mix the bread crumbs, cheese, basil or oregano,salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In another pie pan or dish, combine the egg and buttermilk. Dip each fish fillet first in the milk mixture, then in the crumb mixture to coat both sides with crumbs.
  3. Arrange the fillets in 1 layer in the baking pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Nutritional Information
Exchanges/Choices
1/2 Starch
1/2 Monosaturated Fat
3 Lean Meats

Total Calories: 225
Calories from Fat: 98
Total Fat: 11 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 121 mg
Sugars: 1 g
Sodium: 518 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 7 g
Dietary Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 23 g

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Key West Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce and Quick Coleslaw

Helpful Hints

Shredded, ready-to-eat cabbage and carrots are found in the produce section of the supermarket. They make preparing homemade coleslaw a breeze, especially when you add your own dressing to it. Bought coleslaw is usually dripping in mayonnaise and sometimes has added sugar.

• Any type of shrimp can be used.
• Lemon or lime juice can be used instead of bottled key lime juice.
• Buy shelled shrimp or ask for the shrimp to be shelled when you buy it. Many supermarkets will do this for a small fee.

Countdown
• Make coleslaw and let it marinate while preparing shrimp and sauce.
• Boil shrimp.
• Make sauce.

Key West Shrimp
Serves: 2; Serving size: 1/2 recipe
Preparation time: 5 minutes

Ingredients
3/4 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp Key lime juice

Preparation

  1. Fill a medium saucepan three-quarters full with water. Add the shrimp and Key lime juice. Make sure the water covers the shrimp. Add more if needed.
  2. Bring the water to a simmer with the bubbles just starting around the edge of the pot; the water will start to turn white. Take off the heat immediately and let sit 1 minute.
  3. Drain the shrimp and plunge into cold water if serving cold or serve immediately if serving hot.
  4. Serve with Key lime cocktail sauce.

Key Lime Cocktail Sauce

Ingredients
6 Tbsp ketchup
Several drops hot pepper sauce
2 tsp Key lime juice

Preparation

  1. Mix all ingredients together and taste.
  2. Add seasoning if needed.
  3. Serve with Key West shrimp.

Nutritional Information
Key West Shrimp and Key Lime Cocktail Sauce

Exchanges/Choices
1 Carbohydrate
3 Lean Meat
1/2 Fat

Calories: 170
Calories from Fat: 15
Total Fat: 1.5 g
Saturated Fat: <1 g
Cholesterol: 240 mg
Sodium: 815 mg
Carbohydrate: 13 g
Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Sugars: 5 g
Protein: 27 g

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Roasted Vegetables

Serves 8; Serving size: 1/2 cup

Ingredients
Cooking spray
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 zucchini, diced
1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb.), diced
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients. Spread mixture evenly in baking dish.
  3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until brown and roasted.

Nutrition Information
Exchanges/Choices
2 Vegetable
1/2 Fat

Calories: 60
Calories from Fat: 25
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 0.4 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 5 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 8 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Sugars: 3 g
Protein: 2 g

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Pasta Primavera

Serves: 6; Serving size: 1 1/2 cup

Ingredients
8 oz uncooked spaghetti
2 tsp margarine
1 onion, cut into wedges
2 cups broccoli florets
2 small carrot, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 yellow summer squash, diced
3/4 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, omitting salt; drain well.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the margarine in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute about 1 minute.
  3. Add the vegetables and chicken broth; stir. Cover and simmer about 6 minutes.
  4. Add the parsley, basil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook 1 minute more.
  5. Add the spaghetti to the vegetables; toss well.
  6. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese at serving time.

Nutrition Information
Exchange/Choices
2 Starch
1 Vegetable
1 Fat

Total Calories: 225
Calories from Fat: 52
Total Fat: 6 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 2 mg
Sodium: 242 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 37 g
Dietary Fiber: 5 g
Sugars: 5 g
Protein: 8 g

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Crispy Baked Zucchini Spears with Lemon

Serves: 6; Serving size: 3 spears

Ingredients
3 small zucchini (12 oz total), halved and cut in sixths lengthwise
1/4 cup fat-free Italian salad dressing
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp salt
2 medium lemons, cut into wedges
Canola oil cooking spray

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place the zucchini pieces and salad dressing in a medium bowl. Toss gently, yet thoroughly, to coat well.
  3. Combine bread crumbs, cornmeal, paprika, thyme, black pepper, and canola oil in a shallow pan, such as a pie pan. Working with five or six zucchini pieces at time, coat them with bread crumb mixture, pressing crumbs lightly with fingertips to allow bread crumbs to adhere to the zucchini.
  4. Coat a large nonstick baking sheet with the cooking spray, arrange zucchini pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle evenly with salt.
  5. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze evenly over all.

Flavorful tip: Coating the baking sheet with canola cooking spray and using canola oil in the zucchini coating helps brown the spears giving crispy “fried” results in the oven.

Nutrition Information
Exchanges/Choices
1 Starch
1 Fat

Calories: 105
Calories from Fat: 45
Total Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 0.4 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 215 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 14 g
Dietary Fiber: 1 g
Sugars: 3 g
Protein: 2 g

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Broiled Shrimp with Garlic

Serves 12; serving size: 2 1/2 oz

Ingredients
2 lb large shrimp, unshelled
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 large lemon, sliced
4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

  1. Set the oven to broil. Shell uncooked shrimp, but do not remove the tails. With a small knife, split the shrimp down the back and remove the vein. Wash the shrimp with cool water and pat
    dry with paper towels.
  2. In a medium skillet, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the lemon juice, scallions, garlic, and fresh pepper. Heat the mixture for 3 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Arrange the shrimp in a baking dish and pour the olive oil mixture over the shrimp. Broil the shrimp 4 to 5 inches from the heat for 2 minutes per side just until the shrimp turns bright pink.
  4. Transfer the shrimp to a platter and garnish with lemon slices and parsley. Pour the juices from the pan over the shrimp.

Nutrition Information
Exchange/Choices
2 Lean Meat

Calories: 115
Calories from Fat: 60
Total Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat:
Monounsaturated Fat:
Cholesterol: 120 mg
Sodium: 139 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 1 g
Dietary Fiber: 0 g
Sugars: 0 g
Protein: 13 g

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Oven Baked Chicken Tenders

Serves 4; serving size: 3 oz

Ingredients
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved
2 egg whites, beaten
1/2 cup whole-wheat cracker crumbs
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp paprika

Preparation

  1. Cut each chicken breast into 2 x 1/2 in strips.
  2. Dip each strip into egg whites.
  3. On a flat plate or in a plastic bag, combine cracker crumbs with spices and cheese. Add chicken strips, and coat with the crumb mixture.
  4. On a nonstick cookie sheet, place chicken strips side by side in one layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until golden and crunchy.

Nutrition Information
Exchange/Choices
1/2 Starch
3 Lean Meat

Calories: 197
Calories from Fat: 46
Total Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat:
Monounsaturated Fat:
Cholesterol: 73 mg
Sodium: 181 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 6 g
Dietary Fiber: 0 g
Sugars: 0 g
Protein: 29 g

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