This, Not That, Thursday – 5 uses for used coffee grounds

Something that never felt right to me was throwing away used coffee grounds. Many people wake up in the morning looking forward to their cup of coffee and then habitually toss the grounds into the trash without a second thought.

As it turns out, there are many wonderful things you can do with these spent coffee grounds. Before you throw out those grounds after brewing up your morning beverage, give one of these ideas a try.

1. Coffee grounds are wonderful at exfoliating your hair. 

To exfoliate hair, use 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup used coffee grounds, depending on hair length. In the shower, wet hair thoroughly. Massage grounds through hair focusing on the scalp. It helps to part the hair and work in sections. Once you have covered the whole scalp, thoroughly wet the hair again. Don’t try to rinse the grounds out as it won’t work. Use your shampoo to work up a nice lather. Then you can rinse it all out. A second shampooing may be necessary. Finish with your normal conditioner or apple cider vinegar rinse.

2. Soil aeration and nitrogen boost for houseplants. 

Adding coffee grounds to your houseplants helps the pH balance (toward acidity) as well as increasing nitrogen and aerating the soil. Tomatoes love acidic soil!

3. Neutralize refrigerator odors. 

Placing them in the refrigerator acts as a natural deodorizer. The only thing you need to watch for is mold if you use damp grounds. Replace immediately with fresher grounds if it turns into a science experiment.

4. Weigh Down Ashes for Fireplace Clean-up:

If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, those old coffee grounds will become your best friend. When it is time to clean out the ashes, cover them with a layer of wet coffee grounds to moisten and weigh them down. This will greatly reduce the amount of ash that will float up and coat your living room when you scoop them out.

5. Pest Repellent

Snail, slug, and cat repellent. In the garden, just mound up a barrier of used grounds around the plants which slugs and cats are attracted to. It will help keep them at bay.

This, Not That, Thursday – Live Music

This week’s installment of This, Not That, Thursday, is about getting out of the habit of sitting at home watching TV after work. Instead of the boob tube, we’ve made a list of local, free live music to help get you started. Tonight is – Live at 5 in Patchogue & Music on Main in Farmingdale! Check it out

This, Not That, Thursday – How to start a compost pile

For this week’s installment of “This, Not That, Thursday” we’re discussing “how to start a compost pile.”

The EPA estimates that 22 percent of solid waste that enters the landfill is food.

Composting is a perfect way to divert a lot of that organic matter away from the landfill. While it’s still important to cut down on food waste by eating leftovers and using up produce before it goes bad, no one is perfect. So, composting the kitchen waste that can’t be saved is a great way to reduce food waste.

How to start a compost pile

Starting a compost pile requires a few simple steps: creating the compost heap, adding organic materials, and watering and turning the compost as necessary. 

Creating your compost heap 

Location – One of the most important factors for starting a compost pile is its location. Choose an open, level area with good drainage. You do not want your compost to sit in standing water. An area with partial sun or shade is also ideal. Too much sun can dry the pile out, while too much shade can keep it overly wet. Finally, choose a site that is easy for you to get to and avoid areas near dogs or other meat-eating animals. 

Size – The recommended size for a compost pile is generally no smaller than 3 feet high and wide and no larger than 5 feet. Anything smaller may not heat up efficiently and anything larger may hold too much water and become difficult to turn. It is recommended to start your pile on the bare ground rather than on asphalt or concrete. This impedes aeration and inhibits microbes. Placing a pallet underneath the pile is fine, however, if you prefer. 

Adding organic materials 

Many organic materials can be composted, but there are some items that you should keep out of your compost pile. 

These include: 

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Fat
  • oil products 
  • Carnivorous pet feces (e.g. dog, cat) 
  • Diseased plants, or weeds that have seeded Human waste Charcoal or coal ash (wood ash is ok though) 

The key materials for composting are nitrogen/greens and carbon/browns. When starting a compost pile, the recommended practice is to layer or alternate these greens and browns, the same way as you would for making lasagna. 

Your bulkier organic materials do best in the first ground layer, so start with a layer of browns, such as twigs (less than ½ inch in diameter) or straw, about 4 to 6 inches. 

Next, add in some green materials, such as kitchen waste and grass clippings, again about 4 to 6 inches thick. Additionally, animal manure and fertilizers serve as activators that accelerate the heating of your pile and provide a nitrogen source for beneficial microbes. 

Continue to add layers of nitrogen and carbon materials until you reach the top or run out. Lightly water each layer as it is added, firming it down but do not compact. 

Watering and turning the compost 

Your compost pile should be moist, but not soggy. Most of your water will come from rain, as well as the moisture in green materials, but you may need to water the pile yourself on occasion. If the pile gets too wet, you can turn it more frequently to dry it or add more brown materials to soak up excess moisture. Once you turn the pile the first time, these materials will get mixed together and compost more efficiently. Keeping the compost pile turned on a frequent basis will help with aeration and speed up decomposition. Using these simple instructions for composting, you will be well on your way to creating the ideal compost for your garden. 

-Dr. P
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Summertime Grecian Flounder

“Flounder baked with fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives, capers, onion, and white wine. Serve with basmati rice and any green vegetable will do but asparagus is my favorite!”

Summertime Grecian flounder

“Flounder baked with fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives, capers, onion, and white wine. Serve with basmati rice and any green vegetable will do but asparagus is my favorite!”
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Gluten Free, heart healthy, low calorie, low carb, low fat
Servings: 4
Calories: 282kcal

Ingredients

  • 5 Plum (Romtomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 pinch Italian seasoning
  • 24 kalamata olives pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 6 leaves fresh basil chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese freshly grated is best
  • 1 pound flounder fillets
  • 6 leaves fresh basil torn

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  • Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Plunge tomatoes into the boiling water and immediately remove to a medium bowl of ice water; drain. Remove and discard skins from tomatoes. Chop tomatoes and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; saute onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, garlic and Italian seasoning; cook until tomatoes are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in olives, wine, capers, lemon juice, and 1/2 the basil. Reduce heat, blend in Parmesan cheese, and cook until the mixture is reduced to a thick sauce, about 15 minutes.
  • Place flounder in a shallow baking dish. Pour sauce over the fillets and top with remaining basil leaves.
  • Bake 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until fish is easily flaked with a fork.

This, Not That, Thursday – Sugary Drink Alternatives

Hi everyone! 
For this week’s “This, Not That, Thursday” we are looking at healthy alternatives to sugary drinks. Numerous studies have shown the negative health effects of drinking sugary drinks on your waistline and your teeth. It may have far more health risks than many of us may realize. Drinking sugary drinks can cause a decline in kidney function, an increase in your risk of diabetes, and can cause vascular issues. Sugary drinks also deplete your mineral levels and leave you dehydrated. Sugary drinks are also linked to dementia and cancer.

These are just a few of the negative health effects of sugary drinks. Help to cut the cola with these healthy and delicious sugary drink alternatives.

Tea – iced or hot-
With all the different ways to enjoy it hot or cold, tea is likely one of the best sugary drink substitutes on this list. Tea has an extensive variety of flavor profiles and caffeine levels. There’s a tea out there for everyone! Perfect for any season or time of day, tea is a versatile sugary drink substitute and easy way to enjoy flavored beverages with little to no calories. Herbal tea can be used to help you unwind, boost your immune system, or reduce pain or soreness.

Freshly-squeezed lemonade-
A classic summertime pick-me-up, fresh lemonade—maybe with a dash of cane sugar or agave nectar for a hint of sweetness—has enough citrusy flavor to help wash away those memories of your sugary drink guzzling days.

Sparkling water-
After decades of public health initiatives, consumers are leaving sugary drinks behind for its sleeker, healthier counterpart: flavored sparkling water. Nowadays, sparkling water makers are everywhere, from homes to offices, hotels to restaurants. Rather than buying bottles and cans, avid sparkling water drinkers often invest in carbonated water dispensers to mitigate the environmental impact of buying cases of fizzy water. Now that’s some savvy sipping!

Kombucha-
Kombucha is a recent health trend that shows no signs of fizzling out. While its poignant flavor is not for everyone, Kombucha typically contains little to no sugar and is a potential source of probiotics, which are known to promote gut health. It contains antioxidants and may protect against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Sparkling water with a splash of juice-
Perfect for brunch, sparkling water with a splash of pineapple, orange, cranberry, or mango juice is a great non-alcoholic, low-calorie alternative to sugary drinks or mimosas at brunch.

Fruit and herb infusions-
Infusions are a great way to use up any extra fruit and herbs in your fridge before they spoil. Simply chop whatever fruit and herbs you have, throw them in a pitcher or reusable water bottle, and you’ll be sipping on some fruity goodness in just a few hours. If you enjoy fruit flavors but don’t want the sugar rush of juice, infusions are the way to go!

Coconut water-
Like Kombucha, Coconut water is a health fad and popular healthy substitute for sugary drinks that’s been on the scene for a few years now. Not to be confused with coconut milk, coconut water is a natural source of potassium and electrolytes, making it the perfect tropical alternative to plain water.

Mineral water-
Mineral water contains zero calories and has the added nutritional benefit of minerals such as calcium, magnesium sulfate, and sodium sulfate. Mineral water is an everyday sugary drink substitute that’s sold at most grocery stores and online. It can help to lower blood pressure, regulate blood circulation, strengthen bones, and promote digestive health.

-Dr. P
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Red, White and Blue Summer Salad

Red, White and Blue Summer Salad

In this salad, we combine traditional Caprese flavors with summer blueberries, peaches and added prosciutto for saltiness, creating a balanced and flavor-packed dish. Caprese and fresh fruit always remind me of summer.
Prep Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gluten Free, heart healthy, low calorie, low carb
Servings: 12
Calories: 233kcal
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil julienned
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 8 cups fresh arugula
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese pearls drained
  • 2 medium peaches sliced
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto julienned

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, whisk the first 9 ingredients. Add tomatoes; let stand while preparing salad.
  • In a large bowl, combine arugula, mozzarella, peach slices, blueberries, and prosciutto. Pour tomato mixture over top; toss to coat. Garnish with additional mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Notes

Nutrition Facts
1 cup: 233 calories, 18g fat (5g saturated fat), 27mg cholesterol, 486mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 2g fiber), 8g protein.

My word, today is just perfect. Too perfect in fact, to be inside slaving in front of the stove for dinner tonight. In just 20 minutes this delightfully fresh dish is on the table without the need of an oven heating up the whole house. 
Let Grandma Antoinette help you with dinner <3

-Dr. P
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This, Not That, Thursday – 4th of July Firework Safety tips

The Fourth of July is here, which means fireworks season is also here.

Fireworks can be very dangerous if not used properly.

An average of 18,500 fires are caused by fireworks each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Such fires cause an average of three deaths, 40 injuries and $43 million in direct property damage.

In 2017, 53% of fireworks-related injuries were burns. The most common injuries were to the hands and fingers at an estimated 31%, followed by head, face and ears at 22%.

Children younger than 15 accounted for 36% of fireworks-related injuries.

If you’re going to be setting off fireworks this summer, here are some important tips you need to heed.

Happy 4th of July – Stay safe 🥳

Summer Bucket List for Long Island Kids


For our latest installment of “This, Not That, Thursday” we bring you Dr. Polcino’s “Summer Bucket List for LI kids.”
It features oodles of ideas when it comes to places to go, things to do, events, and activities to do with kids on Long Island! From toddlers to tweens, our Summer Bucket List has great ways to spend the days, and you’re sure to see a smile on everyone’s face.

-Dr. P
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This, Not That, Thursday – Natural Rabbit Repellent

Hey all! We’re back with another installment of “This, Not That, Thursday.”
If you need a way to deter rabbits from eating your flowers, try this organic rabbit repellent recipe. It uses garlic and red peppers to repel the rabbits naturally without damaging your plants. And don’t worry–those cute little critters won’t be harmed at all.

You just need a couple of items to make this Natural rabbit repellent: garlic, peppers, dish soap, and an empty milk jug.

Natural Rabbit Repellent Recipe
Items needed:
empty milk/water jug
7 garlic cloves
2 teaspoon crushed red peppers
1-gallon water
1 tablespoon dish soap (see our other posts for a Natural Dish Soap)
Directions:
To make the repellent fill an old jug with water, add 7 crushed garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons of crushed red peppers (you can save a packet from the pizza delivery for this) and 1 tablespoon of dish soap.
Shake well. Then let it sit in the sun for a day or two to make sure the water is saturated with the flavors and smells.
Shake well. Then spray or pour on the plants that you don’t want the rabbits to eat.
I had to reapply the rabbit repellent once a week for a couple of weeks to convince the rabbits that my tulips were never going to taste good again. With my other bulbs, I sprayed them with the natural rabbit repellent as soon as they started to poke through the ground and then reapplied the repellent once a week and after it rains.
Good luck 

-Dr. P
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This, Not That, Thursday – Natural Gardening Tips

In this week’s installment of “This, Not That, Thursday” we bring you some Natural Gardening tips. Gardening is tough enough, but to do it without chemicals is well worth the effort for you & the family.

Fertilizer
Although you can use ready-made organic fertilizers, it is best to learn how to create your own organic fertilizers. Not only will it be better for the soil and the environment in the long-term, but it also helps you gain valuable insight into the world of gardening.

Homemade Fertilizer
Adding compost to your garden is an excellent way to improve the quality of your soil with natural fertilization. However, not everyone has the space or time for composting.
We’ve got you covered! There are some other easy ways to fertilize your garden naturally. For one thing, instead of a huge compost pile, you can simply save some of the stuff from your kitchen you’d normally throw away.
Three things that can benefit your garden:
Coffee Grounds – adds nitrogen to the soil and is ideal for acid-loving plants like tomatoes
Banana Peels – decompose quickly, replenishing potassium and other minerals to the soil
Egg Shells – can add calcium carbonate and help avoid blossom rot in peppers and tomatoes
Another common kitchen ingredient to help fertilize your garden is molasses. Just mix a few tablespoons of molasses with a gallon of water and then water your plants with it. The molasses acts sort of like a probiotic. It helps increase beneficial microbes.

Garden Pest Control
Every vegetable gardener faces pest issues from time to time, and learning how to manage the little leaf-munching menaces without using synthetic chemical pesticides is an essential step in growing a healthy, productive garden. To help you with this task, we’ve put together tips for keeping those pesky critters out of your garden.

Orange Peels
Orange peels can be placed around plants or attached directly to the stem to ward off and eliminate some pests. That’s because orange peels contain a natural chemical known as d-Limonene, which can kill off ants and aphids. The chemical destroys the waxy substance around the bugs, causing them to suffocate.
Even the scent of orange peels, as well as other citrus peels, can keep those plant-destroying aphids and ants away.

Plant Marigolds Around the Perimeter of the Garden
Many gardeners put marigolds in their vegetable gardens. It’s believed the pungent smell potentially repels pests while attracting beneficial insects. Some say that the aroma of marigolds might even help keep rabbits and other rodents away from your vegetables too.
However, not everyone is a believer in the marigold theory. In fact, there are some gardeners who say marigolds may actually attract harmful spider mites. Regardless of whether it works or not – marigolds will at least add a splash of color to your vegetable garden.

Cayenne pepper
Sprinkling cayenne pepper, pepper flakes, and/or garlic pepper on and around your plants when they are ready to bloom is an excellent deterrent. Squirrels won’t eat anything with cayenne—which you can often buy in bulk.

-Dr. P
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This, Not, That Thursday – Natural Ant Repellent

There’s nothing like walking into your kitchen first thing in the morning, bleary-eyed and ready for your morning cup of coffee only to find that your home has been invaded by ants. Below are some of the best natural remedies you can try to get rid of the ants infesting your space.

Cinnamon
Cinnamon is an effective household ant repellent. Its smell discourages ants from entering your house and scrounging in your kitchen.
According to a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, cinnamon essential oil yields positive results in both repellency and insecticidal activity.
* Add 1 ¼ to 1 ½ teaspoon of cinnamon essential oil in a cup of water. Soak a cotton ball in this solution and wipe down the areas where ants may enter and dwell. Repeat once daily until all the ants are gone.
* You can also put ground cinnamon and whole cloves near entry points.
Note: Use the cinnamon oil spray strategically in places of ant infestation; do not put it all over the place.

White Vinegar
White vinegar will also send an eviction notice to ants on your premises. They cannot bear its strong smell. In addition, the smell masks their scent trails, making them lose their direction.
1. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water.
2. Pour the solution into a spray bottle.
3. Add a few drops of any essential oil and shake the bottle thoroughly.
4. Spray this solution around baseboards and other entry points.
5. After an hour, wipe up the ants using a damp paper towel and discard them.
6. Repeat once daily until the ants are completely gone.
You can also use this vinegar solution to clean floors, windowsills and countertops to prevent ants from crawling over these surfaces.

Peppermint
Peppermint is a natural insect repellent that can effectively keep ants away. Ants hate its strong smell, which also disrupts their smelling capabilities so they cannot detect food sources.
* Add 10 drops of peppermint essential oil to 1 cup of water. Spray the solution on all areas where ants are present. Repeat twice daily, until the ants are gone completely.
* Sprinkle some dried peppermint around your doors, entryways and garbage areas to repel ants.
* You can even grow peppermint plants in your kitchen garden.

Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) also works well as an ant repellent. This powder is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton.
The microscopic razor sharp edges of DE can cut through the ant’s exoskeletons, gradually causing their body to dry out.
1. Gently sprinkle a thin layer of DE on windowsills, beneath the fridge, under cabinets, in and around garbage cans and any other places where you see ants.
2. Repeat once daily until all the ants are gone.
Note: Do not wet the DE or it will not work.

-Dr. P
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This, Not That, Thursday – Natural Weed Killer

In our office, we have been discussing natural alternatives to common, everyday products. These are ways of handing things like pest control, weeds, household cleaning, body products, and more, without the harmful chemicals. With all the natural alternatives that we have been discovering, we are excited to share these with you!

So without further adieu, I present “This, not that, Thursday.”

Weeds:

When looking for a natural alternative to herbicides, a cocktail of vinegar, salt and liquid dish soap has all of the ingredients needed to quickly kill weeds. Acetic acid in the vinegar and the salt are both very good at drawing moisture from weeds. Dish soap acts as a surfactant, which is an agent that will reduce the surface tension that can cause the weed-killing concoction to bead on the leaves instead of being absorbed by the plant. On a warm, sunny day, the results of this homemade spray will be obvious in a matter of hours as weeds turn brown and wither.

Unlike some chemical solutions, this formula is not built to work its way into the root system, meaning multiple treatments will probably be necessary to keep weeds at bay. Additionally, when looking for a quick fix, sunshine makes a big difference. And remember to look for vinegar that has at least 5% acetic acid.

Natural Weed Killer
• 1-gallon white vinegar
• 1-cup salt
• 1-tablespoon liquid dish soap

Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and treat weeds at the sunniest time of day for best results.☀️

-Dr. P
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Getting ready for college life


It is already mid-August and many families with a college student are about to start on a new adventure. Whether the young adult is going to a commuter school and living at home or attending an away college and living in a dorm, there are many changes about to hit family dynamics and the college students lives. Long discussions should now begin about forming healthy habits that will be important for now, and more importantly, for the future. I always advise living the way your grandmother taught you. Here are some of Grandma MaryAnn’s suggestions.

Grandma MaryAnn says you must:

  • Get your sleep – It is important to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night. During sleep your body may be resting, but your brain is busy processing all the information it was exposed to during the day. Sleep helps your immune system to stay strong and prevent colds and other infections you are constantly exposed to. If possible, shut off all your electronic devices 30 to 40 minutes before going to sleep; the light from the screens can affect chemicals in your brain that enhance getting to sleep.
  • Eat well – Food is your body’s fuel. In order to work hard and think clearly, you need to eat the fruits, nuts and vegetables that we all know are the right stuff. Starting with a healthy breakfast will get the brain ready for the day. Healthy snacks are a must. The crash after the candy bar will be tough to handle.
  • Exercise – Exercise needs to be a part of your regular schedule because it decreases stress, keeps your mind sharp, and is fun. You should think of it as an investment in yourself.

I wish all the students a great year, and remember to call your Mom and Grandma as often as you can because with loving words from your biggest supporters, there is nothing you can’t handle.

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A gentle way to remove a tick

We, here on the Island, are in the middle of tick season and it is reported that there is an above average tick infestation this year. If you do come in contact with a tick, there is always the time honored tweezer method to grasp and remove it.

Another method is to take a cotton ball and put a liberal amount of liquid soap on it. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball. Rub for a few seconds and usually the tick will release and be attached to the ball. This simple method is perfect for children and upset adults.

As always, prevention is the best medicine. Please check out the 8 best ways to avoid being bitten by a tick.

Ticks Poster 1 Rev5

-Dr. P

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Grandma Antoinette’s Fried Zucchini Flowers

Grandma Antoinette’s Fried Zucchini Flowers

“This recipe has been our family favorite. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do.”
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: soy free
Servings: 4
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Ingredients

  • 18-24 male zucchini flowers (with stems)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Clean flowers and dry with a paper towel.
  • Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Whisk eggs, milk, and olive oil together in a separate bowl; stir in flour mixture until batter is smooth.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium heat.
  • Dip flowers in the batter and fry in the hot oil until golden and crispy, 2 to 5 minutes, working in batches as needed. Transfer fried flowers to a paper towel-lined plate; sprinkle salt over each.

Spaghetti Squash with Broccoli

Spaghetti Squash with Broccoli

In this low-carb spaghetti squash lasagna recipe, garlicky broccoli, spaghetti squash and cheese are combined for a healthy take on a favorite casserole. This bakes right in the squash shells for a fun presentation.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gluten Free, low calorie, low carb, low fat, soy free, vegetarian
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 194kcal
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Ingredients

  • 1 2 - 3lb Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive oil
  • 1 Bunch Broccoli ( or Broccolini) Chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella cheese (part-skim)
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Pepper

Instructions

  • Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 450°F.
  • Place squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish; add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, uncovered, on High until the flesh is tender, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 400°F oven until the squash is tender, 40 to 50 minutes.)
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add broccolini, garlic and red pepper (if using); cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add water and cook, stirring, until the broccolini is tender, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the bowl. Place the shells in a broiler-safe baking pan or on a baking sheet. Stir ¾ cup mozzarella, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper into the squash mixture. Divide it between the shells; top with the remaining ¼ cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  • Bake on the lower rack for 10 minutes. Move to the upper rack, turn the broiler to high and broil, watching carefully, until the cheese starts to brown, about 2 minutes.
  • Easy cleanup: To save time and keep your baking sheet looking fresh, line it with a layer of foil before you bake.

Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew

Chicken & Sweet Potato stew

This skillet recipe is a colorful and healthy main dish that can be on the table in just over an hour. The subtle, sweet-spicy flavor is a nice surprise.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free, diabetic, Gluten Free, heart healthy, low carb, low fat, soy free
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves cut into cubes
  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
  • ½ pound white button mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper or more to taste
  • 1 pinch paprika or more to taste
  • 1 pinch sea salt or more to taste
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion, garlic and mushrooms in hot oil until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir chicken, sweet potatoes, spinach, crushed red pepper, paprika, and sea salt with the onion and garlic in the saucepan. Pour as much chicken broth into the saucepan to make the mixture as soup-like or stew-like as you’d like it.
  • Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle and the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Summertime Shrimp Salad

Summertime Shrimp Salad

“Use an array of colorful veggies to make this healthy shrimp salad pop. Cooking the shrimp with fresh herbs and garlic infuses them with flavor without coming off too strong for a light dinner salad that’s perfect for summer entertaining.”
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Salad
Keyword: dairy free, diabetic, Gluten Free, low carb, low fat
Servings: 4
Calories: 290kcal

Ingredients

  • pounds raw shrimp 21-25 count, peeled and deveined
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 medium cucumber diced
  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil plus more for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Toss shrimp with oil, thyme and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the shrimp are pink and firm, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the shrimp to a large bowl (discard thyme and garlic). Add lemon juice and stir to coat. Gently stir in cucumber, tomatoes and basil. Arrange the shrimp and vegetables in a serving bowl. Serve drizzled with any dressing left in the bowl and garnish with more basil, if desired.

Vegan Watermelon Fruit Pizza

Vegan Watermelon Fruit Pizza

These wedges of juicy watermelon are topped with nondairy coconut yogurt and berries that make for a crisp and refreshing dessert. For kids snacks, leave the wedges blank and let everyone add their own toppings to the yogurt.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Dessert, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free, diabetic, Gluten Free, heart healthy, soy free, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 8
Calories: 70kcal
Author: Dr. Polcino

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut-milk yogurt alternative
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large round slices watermelon 1 inch thick, cut from the center of the melon
  • cup sliced strawberries
  • ½ cup halved blueberries
  • 1/2 cup halved blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons toasted unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions

  • Combine yogurt alternative, maple syrup and vanilla in a small bowl.
  • Spread ¼ cup of the yogurt mixture over each watermelon round. Cut each round into 8 wedges. Top with strawberries and blueberries and blackberries.
    Sprinkle with coconut. Enjoy!

Notes

Per serving: 70 calories; 2 g fat(1 g sat); 1 g fiber; 15 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 8 mcg folate; 0cholesterol; 11 g sugars; 1 g added sugars; 813 IU vitamin A; 20 mg vitamin C; 47 mg calcium; 0 mg iron; 5 mg sodium; 196 mg potassium
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (33% daily value)
Carbohydrate Servings: 1
Exchanges: 1 fruit

Pokémon Go – What Is This Game Your Children Are Obsessed with All About?

pokemon-go-what-is-this-game-your-children-are-obsessed-with-all-about-1575834_1920As you know, Pokémon Go is a hot new game being played by countless people.  There have been mixed reviews on this augmented reality game from concerns about safety to praises about increasing physical activity.  I posted this video to give you a very detailed description about what your children are involved in, and I believe it is important to have a discussion with them about the possible dangers to look out for while playing a game like this.

For even more information about this game, the article connected to the video explains why the game is appealing, how it works, some history of the game, and how it relates to the original Pokémon craze: vox.com/2016/7/11/12129162/pokemon-go-android-ios-game

-Dr. P

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Zika Update: A New Way to Test for This Infection

Blood sample positive with Zika virusThe CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recently updated its guidelines concerning the testing of pregnant women who have a possible Zika virus infection or exposure.  It must always be noted that most people with the Zika virus infection are either asymptomatic or have mild clinical symptoms.  Mild clinical symptoms can be an acute onset of a fever, a rash, joint pain, and/or conjunctivitis.

There is new data suggesting that the virus can be detected in the blood and urine for 2 weeks after the infection begins.  This testing of the urine and blood for the virus should be performed for:

  • Symptomatic pregnant women in less than 2 weeks after the symptoms begin
  • Asymptomatic pregnant women in less than 2 weeks after a possible exposure

After this 2-week window, blood testing should begin for the Zika virus IgM antibody, which the body makes in response to a new Zika virus infection.  If this is found to be positive, there was definitely an infection and close fetal evaluation should begin.

As always, you should discuss the Zika virus problem with your health care provider so you can get the best possible care.

-Dr. P

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4 Quick Zika Virus Facts – Treatment, Testing, How It Spreads, and Prevention

Zika VirusLet’s look at some Zika virus facts:

1. Treatment

At the moment, there are no approved drugs or vaccines for the Zika infection, but scientists are working on a vaccine.  Since the infection itself seems to be mild and short-lived, fluids and Tylenol are mostly recommended.

2. Testing

Testing to determine if you have had the virus is mainly confined to pregnant women and symptomatic travelers who have visited the areas where the virus has spread.  At this time, testing is done at only a state or federal lab and getting results can take weeks.

3. How It Spreads

The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and through sex with an infected partner.  It is important for pregnant women to know the travel history of their sexual partners.

4. Prevention

Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to protect yourself from this virus.  Use the time-tested methods of bug sprays and cover-ups, and eliminate any standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs.  You should check your window screens and keep the air conditioners on if possible because mosquitoes hate the cold.

-Dr. P

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Where Did This Mysterious Zika Virus Come From?

definition of zikaToday, the Zika virus is on the mind of almost everyone; pictures of the children affected by the virus are seen constantly in the news.  Beginning today, I will try to keep us up to date on the latest information available.

The virus is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda, Africa, where it was first discovered in the late 1940s.  Since then it was not considered to be a major problem because it usually caused mild flu symptoms, which soon passed rather quickly.  Then last year’s reports came from Brazil about a major invasion of the virus.  There were pictures of the many affected newborns that had been infected, and the resulting congenital microcephaly was seen everywhere.

Why is this virus now causing all these problems?  Where has it been the last 60-70 years?  Some experts believe the virus has mutated, and some think it has always been there, but was quietly going unnoticed.

As the summer approaches and the mosquitoes return, the Zika virus will certainly be a concern in the mainland of our country.  Puerto Rico already reported about a 1000 confirmed cases, including approximately 100 pregnant women.  With the travel season upon us, the numbers of our family and friends who will be exposed to the virus is staggering, so being aware of the latest information is paramount in our quest to be safe.

-Dr. P

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Are You Prepared for This Summer’s Tiniest Villains?

I was working in my garden, and guess what I discovered yesterday, once again?  I spotted another tick on myself!  Because of this, I thought it would be a great time to discuss ticks all over again – what they do, what you should do if you find one on yourself, and all about Lyme disease.

Are You Prepared for This Summer’s Tiniest Villains-742474_1280Over 30,000 new cases of Lyme disease are diagnosed each summer, and 90% occur in 10 states.  New York is one of those states.  This disease is an infection caused by the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which enters the body from an infected deer tick’s bite.

While the tick is attached, it begins to suck blood from the victim, and at this time, it regurgitates the bacteria back into the person’s system.  Most of the infections in humans are caused from the bites of immature ticks called nymphs, which are the size of poppy seeds.  The disease can also be transmitted from the bite of an adult deer tick, but because they are larger, they are more likely to be discovered before having time to transmit the disease.

The Infectious Disease Society of America does not recommend antibiotics for everyone who has been bitten by a tick.  If the rash of Lyme disease develops, then antibiotics are advised.

The rash is the easily noticed circular “bull’s eye” target-like rash.  This rash can begin anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks after the bite.  It starts out being the size of a quarter and can widen to 6 to 9 inches as the bacteria spread out.  If your anxiety of developing the disease is great, many doctors will treat you with doxycycline if you do not have an allergy to the medication.

You Found a Tick on Yourself – What Are the Next Steps?

Once you have discovered that a tick is on your body, you remove it with tweezers.  Try to detach it at the base of the tick’s attachment.  If it is removed within 24 to 48 hours, it is unlikely that it has infected you withTick Removal Display Image Lyme disease.  Also, it is important to remember that only 1 in 20 people bitten with an infected tick will develop the disease.  Not every deer tick carries the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, with usually 1 in 5 being carriers in high risk areas.

An Alternate Way to Remove Those Ticks!

I recently learned about a different way to help remove a tick.  Take a cotton ball and put liquid soap on it.  Cover the discovered tick with the cotton ball and rub the soap on the tick for a few seconds.  Usually the tick will dislodge on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball as you take it away.  Hopefully you will not need to try this method but keep it in the back of your mind.

What Is Most Likely to Happen if You Are Diagnosed with Lyme Disease?

When Lyme disease has been diagnosed because you have the “bull’s eye” rash from a tick bite or a positive blood test, your medical team will usually prescribe an antibiotic regimen.  Depending upon your history of allergies, two of the most common treatments are amoxicillin (500 mg three times a day for 14 to 21 days) or doxycycline (100 mg twice a day for 14 to 21 days).

Bull's Eye Rash (Tick)

Intravenous antibiotic treatments are not often needed, but they are needed when the Lyme infections are more serious.  These would include infections around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) or heart (carditis).

I would like to leave you with two interesting facts about Lyme disease.  If for some reason you get the infection and do not obtain treatment with an antibiotic, you have about a 10-15% risk of developing Lyme arthritis, and this needs to be treated with a different antibiotic plan.

Even after treating Lyme disease and having no blood tests pointing to an active disease, about 10-20% of people will not feel well for months, having complaints of being exhausted and joint pain.  Antibiotics do not seem to be the answer for this frustrating condition.  The passage of time is the ultimate treatment.

Enjoy your summer and always check your clothes and body for ticks after working or playing outdoors in a grassy area.  Then take a shower, which removes the ticks off your body and prevents those troublesome bites!

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-Dr. P

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