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6 Ways to Teach Your Child About Inappropriate Contact and Building a Positive Body Image

Question: My daughter is in fourth grade. I need to talk to her about inappropriate touching and body awareness. How do I even start?

It’s never too early to teach children about sexuality and safety around strangers. The more children understand about their bodies, the less confusing and embarrassing it will be when uncomfortable situations arise. It is important for children to understand they are in control and learn to care for their health in a positive way.

Body awareness for young girls

You instill safety messages every day, such as looking both ways before crossing the street, not playing with matches and wearing your seatbelt. Body safety is another important topic to teach your child. Before you begin, develop a plan. These can be stressful and uncomfortable topics. Don’t try to cover everything at once. Start slowly, and add additional topics and information as you and your child feel comfortable.

Here are a few ideas to guide you:
  1. Self-esteem: Teach your child that she is special and important. Help your child to feel good about herself and her body. When children feel good about themselves, they are more likely to feel that they have a right to protect themselves. Instilling confidence at a young age helps your daughter understand that you support and believe in her. This builds trust and helps provide protection. 
  2. You are in control of your body! Help your daughter understand that her body is special and belongs only to her. Teach your child that she gets to decide when and with whom to “share” or “not share” her body. Begin by encouraging her to say “no” and trust her feelings when situations become uncomfortable. 
  3. Teach your child the proper names for body parts. Start with the idea of private as something that belongs only to her. People should ask if they want to touch or use your child’s private things, such as stuffed animals, books or the cubby at school. Then talk about and name the private parts of the body: breasts, vagina, penis and buttocks. Your child needs to understand that these are important parts of the body. By naming the private parts, you let her know that it is OK to talk about them. If your child is ever abused or assaulted, she will be able to explain what happened. 
  4. Define “safe” touch. Break the touching into different types of touch, such as “OK touch,” “confusing touch” and “not OK touch.” Sometimes a “good touch” from one person may not feel “good” from another person, such as a hug from someone a child knows versus a hug from someone a child doesn’t. While sexual abuse is a “bad touch,” a child may feel like it is a “confusing touch,” especially if he or she is touched in this way by someone he or she knows and trusts. Help your daughter understand the difference. 
  5. No secrets. Secrecy is a main tactic of sexual abusers. It is important to teach the difference between “good” and “bad” secrets and create a climate of confidence. Taking the time and being willing to talk with your child about anything helps her feel confident in talking about those things that makes her anxious or afraid, such as a “bad” secret. 
  6. Use books as a resource. There are many children books geared to good and bad touch, the human body, etc. They provide excellent age-appropriate answers while explaining a tough subject. 

These are sensitive and difficult topics. Yet they are so important. Put aside your doubts and inhibitions, and start the conversation as soon as possible. You are your daughter’s best hope in being able to handle any odd situation or person coming her way.

About the Author

Hannah Coble, LCSW, MSW, is a licensed clinical social worker at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital

Know the Symptoms of 8 Common Heart Conditions

Know the Symptoms of 8 Common Heart Conditions
To protect their health, patients should learn about common heart conditions and their symptoms. There are patients who thought the pain in their chest or upper abdomen was indigestion found it was a heart attack, or who thought they had a cold when their shortness of breath and congestion were due to congestive heart failure.

In some cases, those patients were even misdiagnosed at urgent care centers or by general practitioners who didn't know them well. This is called fragmented care.

These patients have gone through five or six doses of antibiotics treating congestion before they get to a cardiologist and find out they’re suffering from atrial fibrillation or congestive heart failure.

That’s why it’s important for everyone to know the symptoms of common heart conditions and to have a relationship with a primary care doctor who can monitor your heart health. It's also crucial to know when to call 911. If you or a loved one experience a severe and persistent heavy feeling in the middle of the chest that doesn't go away quickly, weakness in one side, a facial droop, difficulty breathing or a loss of consciousness, consider it an emergency and call 911.

Eight common heart conditions

Being familiar with these common heart conditions can go a long way to keeping you or a loved one out of an emergency situation.
  1. Arrhythmia including atrial fibrillation - An abnormal heart rhythm that might feel like a flutter or brief pause. It could cause lightheadedness or a dizzy spell, or it could have no symptoms at all. Atrial fibrillation, a type of arrhythmia, occurs when the atria—the two blood collection chambers of the heart—beat irregularly and too quickly. Symptoms could include rapid thumping, pain or pressure in chest; dizziness and fainting; or sweating, shortness of breath and easily tiring from activity. Resulting blood clots in the atria can lead to other medical problems and increase the risk of stroke.
  2. Heart failure - Occurs when the heart can't fill with enough blood or can't pump blood with enough force to provide oxygen to the body. It’s a chronic, progressive condition the symptoms of which include shortness of breath (especially when lying down), swollen feet and ankles, sudden weight gain, fatigue, nausea, lack of appetite, coughing and confusion.
  3. Coronary artery disease/heart attack - Plaque buildup on coronary artery walls limits blood flow to the heart. Over time, the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is restricted—called atherosclerosis—or a sudden rupture of plaque forms a blood clot blocking blood flow to the heart—called a heart attack. With a heart attack, ischemia leads to severe reduction or complete cutoff of blood flow, oxygen and nutrients, causing damage to or death of part of the heart muscle. Learn more about symptoms of a heart attack.
  4. Cardiac arrest - This sudden stop of the heartbeat, causing loss of consciousness, is triggered by an electrical malfunction in the heart and is also a severe type of arrhythmia. Without treatment, death occurs within minutes. Cardiac arrest often arises after a heart attack, making quick action from those who experience heart attack symptoms very important. Know the symptoms of heart attack and call 911 immediately if you think you’re experiencing a heart attack.
  5. High blood pressure - This occurs when the force of blood pushing against artery walls is too high. It can develop with age or suddenly because of a medical condition or use of certain medicines. Chronic high blood pressure is symptomless, but it can lead to aneurysms, kidney disease, eye damage, cognitive impairment, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure and stroke.
  6. High cholesterol - A symptomless condition, wherein too much of the fatty, waxy substance cholesterol is present in the blood, that can lead to coronary artery disease and stroke.
  7. Stroke - Strokes occur when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain is blocked. Symptoms include sudden weakness; paralysis or numbness of face, arms, or legs; trouble speaking or understanding speech; and trouble seeing. Symptoms are the same for a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a mini-stroke, which usually lasts only a few minutes but can persist up to 24 hours. A TIA is often a signal that a person is at risk of stroke, especially within 48 hours after a TIA.
  8. Peripheral arterial disease - In this disease, plaque builds up in leg arteries and affects blood flow in legs, which causes pain, cramping, numbness, or aching or heaviness in legs, feet and buttocks after walking or climbing stairs.

Take preventive steps

What can you do to avoid experiencing these symptoms and common heart conditions? Keep tabs on your health.

“Make sure you’re seeing a primary care doctor, checking your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, getting regular exercise, eating well, avoiding obesity and not smoking,” McLean says. “Also, get screened for diabetes, and, if you’re over 50 and don’t have problems with bleeding, consider taking a daily baby aspirin.”

McLean also says it’s important to know if you might be genetically predisposed to early-onset coronary artery disease. And, if you already have heart disease, stay on top of your medications and follow up regularly with your cardiologist.

When it comes to heart health, patients’ biggest fears are becoming incapacitated by a stroke or dying from a heart attack, McLean says.

“Those fears are not overblown if you don't do anything about it," McLean says. But if you take preventive steps, know what to look for and get good consistent medical care, he adds, “chances are you can be treated and be stable.”

About the Author


Dalton McLean, MD, is a cardiologist with the Cone Health Medical Group

We All Have the Tools to Fight Heart Disease...and We Cannot Afford Not to

heart healthy woman
Chronic diseases threaten all of our futures. Did you know more than 17% of spending in the US is on healthcare costs? Much of this is spent on treating chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. We spend $300 billion on cardiovascular disease alone. That number is projected to increase to $1 trillion by 2030. The prevalence of diabetes is expected to increase by 200% in the next 30 years. However, we have the ability and the tools to fight back.

As a cardiologist I emphasize active living and healthy eating with my patients. Here are five common questions I’m fielding in my practice.

What is preventive medicine?

Preventive medicine is avoiding chronic disease before it occurs or eliminating it through healthy lifestyle choices before our health is permanently affected.

What are healthy lifestyle choices?


Healthy lifestyle choices include eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, drinking alcohol not at all or only in moderation, and getting the recommended amount of exercise every week. In one study 80% of heart attacks were prevented by following these five healthy habits.

What kind of physical activity do I need?


Any physical activity is better than doing nothing. Sitting for extended periods during the day is dangerous. While the American Heart Association suggests that we all get 150 minutes of moderate exercise (like walking 3 miles per hour) per week, it is clear that even less activity has tremendous benefit. Every little increase in activity reduces your risk of chronic disease.

Do I need to join a gym?


You can. But what you really need to do is find out what works for you. Walking to work, taking the stairs, learning to dance, working in your garden all count toward the recommended level of physical activity. Look for things that fit into your lifestyle and your busy schedule and that you will want to turn into a lifelong routine.

What is a healthy diet?


This is a very controversial topic. However, it is clear that a diet lower in sugar and higher in fish, chicken, fruits, grains and vegetables is the basis for eating healthy for life. Another part of any healthy diet is eating smaller portions and balancing your intake of calories with the energy you expend in a day. Consult a dietary expert to understand what diet fits your particular situation.

About the Author


Dr. Jake Hochrein
Dr. James Hochrein, MD Chief of Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare and Cone Health Cardiovascular Services

Women and Cancer: Cervical Cancer Screenings


Women and Cervical Cancer: Cervical Cancer ScreeningsFifty to seventy-five years ago, cervical cancer was the number one cause of cancer death in women. However, the development and implementation of pap smears as a screening method has made cervical cancer easy to discover and treat. And the fact that cervical cancer usually doesn’t present with distinct symptoms, further emphasizes the importance of screening.

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer, and HPV vaccines are available to persons as young as nine but should be given before the individual becomes sexually active. Males and females can transmit the disease, and different strains can cause oral cancer, cervical cancer, and genital warts. It is not a mandatory vaccine but is the best way to prevent cervical cancer in women.

It is recommended for women to begin getting pap smears at age 21, and keep receiving them every three years until the age of 30. After 30 years of age, women can choose to get a pap smear every five years as long as that pap smear is tested for HPV, and there is no history of abnormal pap smears or HPV. If you have a hysterectomy for reasons other than cancer, you may not need to continue getting screenings. After the age of 65, it is okay for women to stop getting pap smears, but continue to get regular pelvic exams, unless they are still sexually active with new partners. Depending on your history, your doctor can advise you as to what best fits your situation.

Because pap smears are such an important screening tool, Cone Health offers free screenings for individuals without insurance or access to a provider throughout the year. The next free screening takes place on February 13, but check the Cone Health website for an entire list of dates. Cone Health also participates in the North Carolina Breast & Cervical Cancer Control program (BCCCP). This program is available for women 40-64 years old that are underinsured or uninsured, and below a certain income level. It provides free or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screenings and follow-up services to eligible women in our region. To register for an upcoming screening call (336) 832-8000 or to make an appointment with the BCCCP call (336) 832-0628.



About the Author

Christine Brannock, RN, BS, OCN

Christine Brannock, RN, BS, OCN is the Oncology Outreach Manager at Cone Health Cancer Center

Is it Too Much? 9 Causes of Excessive Menstrual Bleeding and How to Treat Them

woman with stomach pain
Many women have heavy bleeding during their menstrual period. But does yours interfere with your daily routine? If it does, you may have menorrhagia, where every period causes enough blood loss so that normal activities cannot be maintained.

The best way to know if you are experiencing menorrhagia is to keep track of the frequency with which you change your sanitary products. If you are having to replace them every one or two hours or your period lasts more than seven days, you may want to talk to your doctor.

Common causes for menorrhagia are:

  1. Hormones. During puberty and leading up to menopause, a hormonal imbalance may occur, which leads to excessive bleeding. This is often treatable with hormone therapy.
  2.  Fibroid tumors in the uterus. These benign (non-cancerous) tumors can occur in the uterus when a woman is in her thirties or forties. It is unclear why these estrogen-dependent tumors occur, but there are several surgical treatments available.
  3. Cervical polyps. These polyps are small growths on the surface of the cervix that protrude through the opening. They are often the result chronic inflammation or hormonal factors. A simple outpatient office procedure to remove the polyps is the solution.
  4. Endometrial polyps. These are usually non-cancerous growths that protrude from the lining of the uterus. These are sometimes associated with hormone treatment or ovarian tumors. Treatment is a hysteroscopy and a dilation and curettage. The polyps are tested for cancer after removal.
  5. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. This is an infection that affects the uterus, fallopian tubes and cervix. It is most often a sexually transmitted infection, but can occur following childbirth, abortion or other gynecological procedures. It is typically treated with antibiotics.
  6. Cervical cancer. This is when cells in the cervix become abnormal and multiply out of control. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is the cause of most cervical cancer.
  7. Endometrial cancer. This is when cells in the uterus become abnormal and multiply out of control. The causes for this type of cancer are unknown. Women diagnosed with this are usually over 50, have endometrial hyperplasia or use hormone replacement therapy. Treatment is most often a hysterectomy and may be followed by chemotherapy or radiation treatments.
  8. IUD. This form of contraception may cause heavy bleeding or menorrhagia. Treatment is to use another form of birth control.
  9. Bleeding disorder. There are many types of bleeding disorders. The most common type that impacts women is von Willebrand Disease. Treatment involves releasing clotting agents in the blood, IV treatments or a prescribed nasal spray.

If you feel your menstrual bleeding is excessive, you should speak with your provider about possible causes and solutions.

Even if you don’t have menorrhagia, you should have annual exams and regular cervical cancer screenings. All women 30 and older should have the Pap test and the HPV test every five years, both of which greatly decrease the chances of dying from cervical cancer. Some women need more frequent Pap smears.

About the Author

Jill Jertson, MD

Jill Jertson, MD is a Gynecologist with the Greensboro Women's Health Care

11 Quick and Healthy Recipes to Serve During the Big Game

Planning a party or gearing up to watch a big game? Everything seems to go better with food. It is possible to have delicious and healthy finger foods that you and your guests will love. We have put together 11 quick and healthy recipes that are sure to please even the most discriminating snack connoisseur.
Pecan Popcorn Chicken

Spicy Pecan Popcorn Chicken

These spicy and crunchy pecan-crusted chicken nuggets are paired with a quick, creamy ranch dip. If you can’t find coarse breadcrumbs, substitute Grape-Nuts cereal instead.

Ingredients

  1. Canola oil cooking spray
  2. 3/4 cup coarse dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs, (see Tip) or Grape-Nuts cereal
  3. 1/2 cup pecan pieces
  4. 2 tablespoons chili powder
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 egg white
  7. 1 tablespoon water
  8. 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  9. 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  10. 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk, or milk
  11. 1 teaspoon dried dill, or 1 tablespoon fresh
  12. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preparation 

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Thoroughly coat a wire rack with cooking spray and set on a foil-lined baking sheet. 
  2. Combine breadcrumbs (or cereal), pecans, chili powder and salt in a food processor; process until the pecans are finely chopped and the chili powder is mixed throughout, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish. 
  3. Whisk egg white and water in a second shallow dish. Add chicken and turn to coat, then dredge in the pecan mixture, turning to coat evenly. Shake off excess. (Discard any remaining egg and pecan mixture.) Place the chicken on the prepared rack and thoroughly coat with cooking spray. 
  4. Bake the chicken until no longer pink in the center, about 15 minutes. 
  5. Meanwhile whisk mayonnaise, buttermilk (or milk), dill and garlic powder in a small bowl. Serve the chicken with the dip. 

Tips & Notes

Tip: To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. To make fine breadcrumbs, process until very fine. To make dry breadcrumbs, spread coarse or fine breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake at 250°F until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs. For store-bought coarse dry breadcrumbs we like Ian’s brand, labeled “Panko breadcrumbs.” Find them at well-stocked supermarkets.

Nutrition

Per serving: 291 calories; 16g carbohydrates; 14g fat (2g saturated, 6g monounsaturated); 27g protein; 3g fiber; 2g sugar; 339mg potassium; 379mg sodium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (20% daily value)
Carbohydrate Servings: 1
Exchanges: 1 starch, 3 lean meat, 1 fat


Bean Dip and Chips

Zesty Bean Dip & Chips

Stirring salsa into versatile canned refried beans makes a quick and healthy bean dip. It also works well as a sandwich spread with your favorite vegetables and a sprinkle of cheese.

Ingredients


  1. 1/4 cup fat-free canned refried beans
  2. 1 tablespoon salsa
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
  4. 1 minced scallion, (optional)
  5. 1 ounce tortilla chips, (about 10)

Preparation

Combine refried beans, salsa, cilantro and scallion (if using) in a bowl. Serve with tortilla chips.

Nutrition

Per serving: 199 calories; 30g carbohydrates; 8g fat (1g saturated, 2g monounsaturated); 5g protein; 4g fiber; 1g sugar; 273mg potassium; 452mg sodium.
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 fat


BBQ Chicken Sandwich

BBQ Chicken Sandwich

Toss leftover cooked chicken with barbecue sauce and crunchy carrots for a quick and healthy lunch.

Ingredients

  1. 1/2 cup shredded cooked chicken
  2. 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  3. 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  4. 2 teaspoons light ranch dressing
  5. 1 small whole-wheat sandwich bun
  6. 1 leaf romaine lettuce

Preparation 

  1. Combine chicken, carrots and barbecue sauce in a bowl. 
  2. Spread ranch dressing on the bun. 
  3. Top with the chicken mixture and lettuce. 

Nutrition

Per serving: 324 calories; 39g carbohydrates; 7g fat (2g saturated, 2g monounsaturated); 26g protein; 4g fiber; 14g sugar; 488mg potassium; 657mg sodium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (100% daily value), Selenium (56% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 2 1/2
Exchanges: 2 1/2 starch, 3 very lean meat, 1 1/2 fruit


Green Pizza

Green Pizza

Why not use cooler-weather vegetables like broccoli and arugula as an unconventional pizza topping? The arugula adds a slightly bitter, peppery taste—for a milder flavor, use spinach instead. Serve with wedges of fresh tomato tossed with vinegar, olive oil, basil and freshly ground pepper.

Ingredients

  1. 1 pound prepared pizza dough, preferably whole-wheat
  2. 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
  3. 1/4 cup water
  4. 5 ounces arugula ,any tough stems removed, chopped (about 6 cups)
  5. Pinch of salt
  6. Freshly ground pepper to taste
  7. 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  8. 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preparation 

  1. Position oven rack in the lowest position; preheat to 450°F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. 
  2. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about the size of the baking sheet. Transfer to the baking sheet. Bake until puffed and lightly crisped on the bottom, 8 to 10 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, cook broccoli and water in a large skillet over medium heat, covered, until the broccoli is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in arugula and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper. 
  4. Spread pesto evenly over the crust, top with the broccoli mixture and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until crispy and golden and the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes. 

Nutrition

Per serving: 323 calories; 33g carbohydrates; 13g fat (4g saturated, 7g monounsaturated); 15g protein; 3g fiber; 2g sugar; 241mg potassium; 511mg sodium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (45% daily value), Calcium (34% dv), Vitamin A (31% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 2
Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 medium fat meat, 1 1/2 fat


Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

Instead of batter-dipped, deep-fried nuggets, we coat chicken tenders in a seasoned almond and whole-wheat flour crust and then oven-fry them to perfection. With half the fat of standard breaded chicken tenders, you can enjoy to your (healthy) heart’s content.

Ingredients

  1. Canola oil cooking spray
  2. 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  3. 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  5. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  7. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  8. 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  10. 4 large egg whites
  11. 1 pound chicken tenders, (see Ingredient Note)

Preparation 

  1. Preheat oven to 475°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray. 
  2. Place almonds, flour, paprika, garlic powder, dry mustard, salt and pepper in a food processor; process until the almonds are finely chopped and the paprika is mixed throughout, about 1 minute. With the motor running, drizzle in oil; process until combined. Transfer the mixture to a shallow dish. 
  3. Whisk egg whites in a second shallow dish. Add chicken tenders and turn to coat. Transfer each tender to the almond mixture; turn to coat evenly. (Discard any remaining egg white and almond mixture.) Place the tenders on the prepared rack and coat with cooking spray; turn and spray the other side. 
  4. Bake the chicken fingers until golden brown, crispy and no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. 

Tips & Notes

Ingredient note: Chicken tenders, virtually fat-free, are a strip of rib meat typically found attached to the underside of the chicken breast, but they can also be purchased separately. Four 1-ounce tenders will yield a 3-ounce cooked portion. Tenders are perfect for quick stir-fries, chicken satay or kid-friendly breaded “chicken fingers.”

Nutrition

Per serving: 184 calories; 4g carbohydrates; 7g fat (1g saturated, 3g monounsaturated); 26g protein; 1g fiber; 0g sugar; 264mg potassium; 147mg sodium.
Carbohydrate Servings: 0
Exchanges: 3 very lean meat, 1/2 fat



Chicken Cordon Bleu Burger

Chicken Cordon Bleu Burger

The classic flavors of Chicken Cordon Bleu—ham, Swiss cheese and thyme—inspired this easy chicken burger. We like using regular ground chicken, which is a blend of thigh and drumstick meat, to help keep this burger juicy, but feel free to use 100% ground chicken breast if you’d like a leaner burger. You’ll cut 20 calories and 1 gram saturated fat. Serve with roasted broccoli.

Ingredients

  1. 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  2. 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  3. 5 tablespoons finely chopped shallot, divided
  4. 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
  5. 1 pound ground chicken
  6. 1/3 cup finely diced ham
  7. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  9. 4 slices Swiss cheese
  10. 8 small slices pumpernickel bread, or 4 large slices, cut in half, toasted
  11. 12 large leaves spinach, tough stems removed

Preparation 

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high (or see Stovetop Variation). 
  2. Combine mayonnaise, mustard, 1 tablespoon shallot and 1/2 teaspoon thyme in a small bowl. Set aside. 
  3. Place the remaining 4 tablespoons shallot, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, chicken, ham, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Gently combine without overmixing. Form into 4 patties, about 3/4 inch thick. 
  4. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the burgers, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Top each burger with cheese and cook until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  5. Assemble the burgers on toasted bread with the herb mayonnaise and spinach. 

Tips & Notes

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare herb mayonnaise (Step 2) and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
Tip: To oil a grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)

Stovetop Variation: Coat a nonstick pan, preferably cast-iron (or a grill pan), with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add burgers, reduce heat to medium and cook, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer registers 155°F (for pork and bison) or 165° (for beef or chicken), 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Nutrition

Per serving: 350 calories; 20g carbohydrates; 17g fat (6g saturated, 6g monounsaturated); 29g protein; 3g fiber; 1g sugar; 910mg potassium; 722mg sodium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (63% daily value), Potassium (26% dv), Folate (25% dv), Vitamin C (23% dv), Zinc (21% dv), Calcium & Magnesium (18% dv), Iron (16% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 1
Exchanges: 1 starch, 4 lean meat, 1 fat


Vegetarian Taco Salad

Vegetarian Taco Salad

Nobody will miss the meat in this colorful, zesty vegetarian taco salad. The rice and bean mixture can be made ahead and the salad quickly assembled at mealtime.

Ingredients

  1. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 1 large onion, chopped
  3. 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels, (see Tip) or frozen, thawed
  4. 4 large tomatoes
  5. 1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice, (see Tip)
  6. 1 15-ounce can black, kidney or pinto beans, rinsed
  7. 1 tablespoon chili powder
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  10. 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  11. 1/3 cup prepared salsa
  12. 2 cups shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce
  13. 1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
  14. 2 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled tortilla chips
  15. Lime wedges, for garnish

Preparation 

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and corn; cook, stirring, until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Coarsely chop 1 tomato. Add it to the pan along with rice, beans, chili powder, 1 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato cooks down, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly. 
  2. Coarsely chop the remaining 3 tomatoes. Combine with cilantro, salsa and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oregano in a medium bowl. 
  3. Toss lettuce in a large bowl with the bean mixture, half the fresh salsa and 2/3 cup cheese. Serve sprinkled with tortilla chips and the remaining cheese, passing lime wedges and the remaining fresh salsa at the table. 

Tips & Notes

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 1, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days; reheat slightly before serving.
Kitchen Tips: To remove corn kernels from the cob, stand an ear of corn on its stem end and slice the kernels off with a sharp knife.
To cook rice, bring 1 cup water and 1/2 cup long-grain brown rice to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer at the lowest bubble until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Nutrition

Per serving: 395 calories; 52g carbohydrates; 17g fat (5g saturated, 5g monounsaturated); 14g protein; 9g fiber; 10g sugar; 774mg potassium; 459mg sodium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A & Vitamin C (38% daily value), Calcium & Folate (23% dv), Potassium (22% dv), Magnesium (21% dv), Calcium (23% dv), Iron (15% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 3
Exchanges: 3 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 2 fat


Creamy Hamburger Noodle Casserole

Creamy Hamburger Noodle Casserole

Lean ground beef combined with whole-grain bulgur, egg noodles and a creamy tomato sauce in a baked casserole topped with Cheddar. With less fat and calories than the original skillet meal, this dish is sure to become a new family favorite.

Ingredients

  1. 2 bunches scallions, trimmed
  2. 8 ounces 90%-lean ground beef
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil
  4. 1/2 cup bulgur, (see Ingredient Note)
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
  7. 1/2 cup water
  8. 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  9. Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  10. 6 ounces no-yolk whole-wheat egg noodles
  11. 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  12. 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  13. 1/4 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

Preparation 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Put a large pot of water on to boil. 
  2. Separate white and green parts of scallions; thinly slice and reserve separately. 
  3. Cook beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. 
  4. Wipe out the pan, add oil and reduce heat to medium-low. Add bulgur, garlic and the reserved scallion whites. Cook, stirring, until the scallions soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomato sauce, water and the beef; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently until the bulgur is tender and the sauce is thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. 
  5. Meanwhile, cook noodles until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. 
  6. Puree cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl; fold in sour cream and the reserved scallion greens. Season with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. 
  7. Spread half the noodles in the prepared pan. Top with half the cottage cheese mixture and half the meat sauce. Repeat with the remaining noodles, cottage cheese and sauce. Sprinkle Cheddar over the top. 
  8. Bake the casserole until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 

Tips & Notes

Ingredient Note: Bulgur is made by parboiling, drying and coarsely grinding or cracking wheat berries. It simply needs a quick soak in hot water for most uses. Look for it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets, near other grains, or online at kalustyans.com, lebaneseproducts.com.

Nutrition

Per serving: 371 calories; 39g carbohydrates; 14g fat (7g saturated, 4g monounsaturated); 22g protein; 5g fiber; 6g sugar; 631mg potassium; 757mg sodium.
Nutrition Bonus: Calcium, Iron & Vitamin C (20% daily value), Magnesium (17% dv), Vitamin A (15% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 2 1/2
Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1/2 lean meat, 1 1/2 medium-fat meat, 1 fat



Korean Beef Stir-Fry

Korean Beef Stir-Fry

Inspired by the flavors found in Korean barbecue, this dish is a mouth-watering addition to any weeknight repertoire. A fruity Riesling and rice noodles are perfect accompaniments.

Ingredients

  1. 3 tablespoons mirin, (see Note)
  2. 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  3. 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  4. 1 tablespoon canola oil
  5. 8 ounces flank steak, trimmed of fat and very thinly sliced against the grain (see Tip)
  6. 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  7. 2 teaspoons chopped jalapeno pepper, or to taste
  8. 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
  9. 4 cups mung bean sprouts
  10. 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
  11. 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  12. 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  13. 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, (see Tip), optional

Preparation 

  1. Combine mirin, soy sauce and cornstarch in a small bowl. 
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. 
  3. Spread steak out in the pan and cook until seared on one side, about 1 minute. 
  4. Add garlic, jalapeno and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
  5. Add bean sprouts and spinach (the pan will be very full). 
  6. Pour the mirin mixture into the pan and stir gently until the sauce thickens and the spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. 
  7. Stir in cilantro and sesame oil. Serve topped with sesame seeds (if using). 

Tips & Notes

Note: Mirin is a low-alcohol rice wine essential to Japanese cooking. Look for it in the Asian or gourmet-ingredients section of your supermarket. An equal portion of sherry or white wine with a pinch of sugar may be substituted for mirin.
Tips: If you have a little extra time before dinner, put the steak in the freezer for about 20 minutes to help make it easier to slice thinly.
To toast sesame seeds, heat a small dry skillet over low heat. Add sesame seeds and stir constantly until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.

Nutrition

Per serving: 410 calories; 28g carbohydrates; 17g fat (4g saturated, 8g monounsaturated); 35g protein; 6g fiber; 16g sugar; 1237mg potassium; 680mg sodium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (160% daily value), Vitamin C (90% dv), Folate (75% dv), Iron (35% dv), Potassium (32% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 1 1/2
Exchanges: 3 vegetable, 1/2 other carbohydrate, 3 lean meat, 2 fat


Cucumber & Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Cucumber & Black-Eyed Pea Salad

An easy salad to serve with grilled chicken or steak for supper or on a bed of greens for a satisfying lunch. Substitute white beans or chickpeas for the black-eyed peas if you prefer.

Ingredients

  1. 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  3. 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
  4. Freshly ground pepper to taste
  5. 4 cups peeled and diced cucumbers
  6. 1 14-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed
  7. 2/3 cup diced red bell pepper
  8. 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  9. 1/4 cup slivered red onion
  10. 2 tablespoons chopped black olives

Preparation 

Whisk oil, lemon juice, oregano and pepper in a large bowl until combined. Add cucumber, black-eyed peas, bell pepper, feta, onion and olives; toss to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Nutrition

Per serving: 161 calories; 12g carbohydrates; 10g fat (3g saturated, 6g monounsaturated); 5g protein; 3g fiber; 3g sugar; 273mg potassium; 270mg sodium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (50% daily value), Vitamin A (15% dv).
Carbohydrate Servings: 1
Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1/2 starch, 1/2 very lean meat, 2 fat


Lean & Spicy Taco Meat

Lean & Spicy Taco Meat

A combination of lean ground beef and ultra-lean ground turkey breast makes a less-greasy filling. Bypass taco-seasoning packets in favor of making your own full-flavored filling.

Ingredients

  1. 8 ounces 93%-lean ground beef
  2. 8 ounces 99%-lean ground turkey breast
  3. 1/2 cup chopped onion
  4. 1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles, preferably Rotel brand (see Tip), or 1 1/4 cups petite-diced tomatoes
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  6. 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile, or 1 teaspoon chili powder
  7. 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Preparation 

  1. Place beef, turkey and onion in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. 
  3. Transfer to a colander to drain off fat. 
  4. Wipe out the pan. 
  5. Return the meat to the pan and add tomatoes, cumin, ground chipotle (or chili powder) and oregano. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 6 minutes. 

Tips & Notes

Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Reheat just before serving.
Tip: Look for Rotel brand diced tomatoes with green chiles—original or mild, depending on your spice preference—and set the heat level with either ground chipotle chile (adds smoky heat) or chili powder (adds rich chili taste without extra spice).

Nutrition

Per serving: 98 calories; 3g carbohydrates; 2g fat (1g saturated, 1g monounsaturated); 17g protein; 1g fiber; 2g sugar; 26mg potassium; 243mg sodium.
Carbohydrate Servings: 0
Exchanges: 3 1/2 very lean meat