Category: healthy living

October 14, 2021

Recipe: Pumpkin Mousse

When fall hits in Florida, you may start to feel a cool breeze and change in the air. You may also start feeling the urge to visit those picturesque pumpkin patches. Pumpkins are a symbol that fall is here, not to mention they are in season August through October, so there is no better time to enjoy your favorite pumpkin treat.

If you are craving that pumpkin flavor, check out this easy crowd-pleasing pumpkin mousse recipe.


Pumpkin Mousse

Serves: 8          Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 small packages of instant sugar-free vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups of no-fat (skim) milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 15 ounce can of pumpkin
  • 8 ounces of fat-free Cool Whip

Preparation

  1. Prepare instant pudding according to package directions.
  2. Stir in pumpkin spice.
  3. Fold in cool whip and pumpkin.
  4. Serve chilled and garnish with an extra dash of pumpkin spice!

When fall hits in Florida, you may start to feel a cool breeze and change in the air. You may also start feeling the urge to visit those picturesque pumpkin patches. Pumpkins are a symbol that fall is here, not to mention they are in season August through October, so there…


September 30, 2021

What’s Really In Your Pumpkin Spice Latte

“I’ll have a pumpkin spice latte, please.”
If you frequent coffee shops, you’ll probably hear this phrase more than a few times over the next several months. The infamous “PSL” is the most popular seasonal drink around, but do you know what is really in it?

According to How Stuff Works, your favorite caffeinated beverage could be loaded with calories. If you drink black coffee or coffee with low-fat milk only, you don’t need to worry much about calorie intake. But, if you regularly consume some of the “fancier” coffee beverages, you may want to take a closer look at the calorie count. Any beverages with whole milk, whipped cream or flavored syrups will add lot of calories. Here are some examples:

  • A McDonald’s large mocha has 400 calories.
  • The Venti White Chocolate Mocha at Starbucks contains 580 calories.
  • A Dunkin’ Donuts frozen cappuccino with whole milk has a whopping 610 calories.

Serving Size Matters

Let’s take a closer look at our beloved pumpkin spice latte. First thing to decide on is the size of our drink. The size will affect calories, sugar and caffeine consumed. At Starbucks, did you know you can order a 8oz (called a ‘Short’), 12oz (called a ‘Tall’), 16oz (called a ‘Grande’), and a 20oz (called a ‘Venti’)?

Now, let’s compare Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte to a regular flavored latte from your local coffee house. For this we will go straight to the source, Starbucks. For comparisons sake, we will choose the Short Pumpkin Spice Latte, which is 8oz, contains 210 calories, 27 grams of sugar and 75 mg of caffeine. This is in comparison to other flavored lattes that have an average of 134 calories and 63 mg of caffeine.

If you are concerned about calories or sugar content, you may want to treat those specialty drinks as an occasional indulgence. For your daily cup of joe, opt for skim milk and “just say no” to whipped cream and flavored sugary syrups.

Coffee Characteristics

Not all coffees are created equal. The caffeine content of coffee can vary depending on several characteristics. If you are drinking your favorite flavored beverage for the jolt of caffeine you may want to check out these factors:

  • Type of coffee beans: There are many varieties of coffee beans available, which may naturally contain different amounts of caffeine.
  • Roasting: Lighter roasts have more caffeine than darker roasts, although the darker roasts have a deeper flavor.
  • Type of coffee: The caffeine content can vary significantly between regularly brewed coffee, espresso, instant coffee and decaf coffee.
  • Serving size: “One cup of coffee” can range anywhere from 30–700 ml (1–24 oz), greatly affecting the total caffeine content.

Regardless of your choice when you step up to the counter to order, we most importantly want you to be aware of what you are consuming. And if all this talk about pumpkin spice lattes has created the urge to have one, check out this article from Health and learn how to create your very own PSL at home.


Want to learn more?

Check out How Many Calories Are In Coffee? and How Much Caffeine in a Cup of Coffee? A Detailed Guide from Healthline to see the breakdown of both caffeine and calorie content in your favorite flavored specialty coffee drinks.

“I’ll have a pumpkin spice latte, please.” If you frequent coffee shops, you’ll probably hear this phrase more than a few times over the next several months. The infamous “PSL” is the most popular seasonal drink around, but do you know what is really in it? According to How Stuff…


September 23, 2021

What’s Your Number?

Do you know what your cholesterol number is? Do you know what your cholesterol numbers mean?

If your answer is no or you aren’t that sure, then you have come to the right place. Numbers regarding our health can be confusing, but it’s also important to know some basics. At the Y, we want to help you feel knowledgeable and confident about your health, including your numbers. In honor of Cholesterol Education Month, let’s learn some truths about cholesterol.


The Importance of Managing Cholesterol

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in the U.S. More than one million Americans have a heart attack each year and about 500,000 die of heart disease. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, causing heart attack and stroke.

So what is Cholesterol anyway?

Cholesterol is a type of fat found in your blood. Your liver makes cholesterol for your body. You also can get cholesterol from the foods you eat. Meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk all have cholesterol in them. Fruits, vegetables, and grains (like oatmeal) don’t have any cholesterol.

Cholesterol is in every cell in your body. You need cholesterol to help your brain, skin, and other organs do their jobs. But eating too much isn’t good. Cholesterol floats around in your blood and can get into the walls of the blood vessels. This can cause the blood vessels to get stiffer, narrower, or clogged. If the clogging gets worse over many years, it can cause a heart attack or stroke in adults.

Now that you know the basics, let’s learn the difference between cholesterol myth and fact. The CDC has come up with some commonly asked questions and myths and helped us to set the record straight.


Cholesterol: Myth vs. Fact

Myth: All cholesterol is bad for you.

Fact: Some types of cholesterol are essential for good health. Your body needs cholesterol to perform important jobs, such as making hormones and building cells.

Cholesterol travels through the blood on proteins called lipoproteins. Two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol throughout the body:

  • LDL (low-density lipoprotein), sometimes called “bad” cholesterol, makes up most of your body’s cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol raise your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • HDL (high-density lipoprotein), or “good” cholesterol, carries cholesterol back to the liver. The liver then flushes it from the body. High levels of HDL cholesterol can lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.

When your body has too much LDL cholesterol, it can build up in the walls of your blood vessels. This buildup is called plaque. As your blood vessels build up plaque over time, the insides of the vessels narrow. This narrowing can restrict and eventually block blood flow to and from your heart and other organs. When blood flow to the heart is blocked, it can cause angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.

Myth: I would be able to feel it if I had high cholesterol.

Fact: High cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. You may not know you have unhealthy cholesterol levels until it is too late—when you have a heart attack or stroke. That’s why it’s so important to get your cholesterol levels checked at least every 5 years.1,2

Occasionally, some people develop yellowish growths on their skin called xanthomas, which are cholesterol-rich deposits. People with xanthomas may have high cholesterol levels. Learn more about getting your cholesterol checked.

Myth: Eating foods with a lot of cholesterol will not make my cholesterol levels go up.

Fact: It can be complicated. We know that foods with a lot of cholesterol usually also have a lot of saturated fat. Saturated fats can make your cholesterol numbers higher, so it’s best to choose foods that are lower in saturated fats.

Foods made from animals, including red meat, butter, and cheese, have a lot of saturated fats. Instead, aim to eat foods with plenty of fiber, such as oatmeal and beans, and healthy unsaturated fats, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDC’s nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.

Myth: I can’t do anything to change my cholesterol levels.

Fact: You can do many things to improve your cholesterol levels and keep them in a healthy range!

  • Get tested at least every 5 years (unless told otherwise by your doctor).1,2 Learn more about cholesterol screenings.
  • Make healthy food choices. Limit foods high in saturated fats. Choose foods naturally high in fiber and unsaturated fats. Learn more about healthy diets and nutrition at CDC’s nutrition, physical activity, and obesity website.
  • Be active every day. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. Learn more about physical activity basics and tips.
  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco products. Smoking damages your blood vessels, speeds up the hardening of the arteries, and greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Learn more about tobacco use and ways to quit at CDC’s smoking and tobacco use website.
  • Talk with your health care provider about ways to manage your cholesterol; if any medicines are given to you to manage your cholesterol, take them as they are prescribed. Learn more about medicines to lower cholesterol.
  • Know your family history. If your parents or other immediate family members have high cholesterol, you probably should be tested more often. You could have a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH).

Myth: I don’t need statins or other medicines for my cholesterol. I can manage my cholesterol with diet and exercise.

Fact: Although many people can achieve good cholesterol levels by making healthy food choices and getting enough physical activity, some people may also need medicines called statins to lower their cholesterol levels. Million Hearts also suggest that other medicines in addition to statins may be needed to help control cholesterol.

It’s important to communicate with your Health Care Provider and see what options are available as well as what medications may work best for you.


Let’s all commit to getting our cholesterol checked this year so we know our numbers and our risk for heart disease and stroke. Find your closest Healthy Living Center and have your numbers checked for free.

Learn more about Healthy Living Centers


References

Centers for Disease Control. Getting Your Cholesterol Checked. https://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/cholesterol_screening.htm; 2020.

  1. Grundy SM, Stone NJ, Bailey AL, Beam C, Birtcher KK, Blumenthal RS, et al. 2018 ACC/AHA/AACVPR/AAPA/ ABC/ACPM/ADA/AGS/APhA/ASPC/NLA/PCNA guideline on the management of blood cholesterol: a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Clinical Practice Guideline. Circulation. 2018;0:CIR.0000000000000625.
  2. National Cholesterol Education Program. Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (Adult Treatment Panel III) Final Report. NIH Pub. No. 02-5215. Bethesda, MD: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; 2002.
  3. HealthFinder.gov. Get Your Cholesterol Checked. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.

Do you know what your cholesterol number is? Do you know what your cholesterol numbers mean? If your answer is no or you aren’t that sure, then you have come to the right place. Numbers regarding our health can be confusing, but it’s also important to know some basics. At…


September 7, 2021

Eat Fresh Eat Local

Florida’s warm climate means we have a variety of fresh foods that have the ability to be grown year round. Florida’s First Coast is full of farm land, local seasonal fresh produce, and an abundance of farmers markets and food delivery services that offer locally farm fresh food options.

What are some benefits to eating locally grown fresh foods?

According to Michigan State University Extension Offices buying locally grown food has the following benefits:

  • Local food has more nutrients. Local food has a shorter time between harvest and your table, maximizing the amount of vitamins and minerals in your local produce.
  • Locally grown food is full of flavor. When grown locally, the crops are picked at their peak of ripeness. Providing us with a product packed full of flavor and nutrients.
  • Eating local food is eating seasonally. We are blessed to live in Florida where many of our crops can be grown year round. However, when we do eat seasonally, it provides us with a variety of nutrients and an opportunity to try new things.
  • Local food supports the local economy. The money that is spent with local farmers and growers all stays close to home and is reinvested with businesses and services in your community.
  • Local food benefits the environment. By purchasing locally grown foods, you help maintain farmland and green and/or open space in your community.
  • Local foods promote a safer food supply. The more steps there are between you and your food’s source, the more chances there are for contamination. Food grown in distant locations has the potential for food safety issues at harvesting, washing, shipping and distribution.
  • Local growers can tell you how the food was grown. You can ask what practices they use to raise and harvest the crops. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about that food.
Resource: Annual Peak Produce Chart

Interested in growing your own vegetables?

Get started with this article from Blue Zones on 7 easy-to-grow plants.

Read the article

Want to learn more about what’s right for your specific body needs? Try out our VirtuWell Coaching or consult with one of our Registered Dietitians.

Florida’s warm climate means we have a variety of fresh foods that have the ability to be grown year round. Florida’s First Coast is full of farm land, local seasonal fresh produce, and an abundance of farmers markets and food delivery services that offer locally farm fresh food options. What are…


August 26, 2021

Recipe: Garden Vegetable Soup

Want to utilize all those fresh vegetables you got from your recent trip to the farmers market? Garden Vegetable Soup is a great and healthy way to do just that. This easy recipe is full of nutrients and will leave you feeling satisfied. Check it out!


Garden Vegetable Soup

Serves: 8-10      Prep time: 10 minutes    Cook time: 6-8 hours

Ingredients

  •  8 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 (15oz.) can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (24oz.) jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 1lb lean ground beef (optional)
  • 4 cups fat free, reduced-sodium chicken broth

Preparation

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on “low” for 6-8 hours or until beef is cooked and carrots are soft.

Make It Ahead:

  1. Combine all ingredients except the chicken broth in a freezer storage bag. Label and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  2. When ready to cook, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Add thawed mixture and chicken broth to cooker and cook on “low” for 6-8 hours.

Want to utilize all those fresh vegetables you got from your recent trip to the farmers market? Garden Vegetable Soup is a great and healthy way to do just that. This easy recipe is full of nutrients and will leave you feeling satisfied. Check it out! Garden Vegetable Soup Serves:…


August 19, 2021

Why is Hydration Important?

Living in Florida, we know a thing or two about how to stay hydrated, especially during these summer months. But why is it so important to drink water specifically?

According to Harvard School of Public Health, drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition and mood.

Our body is composed of 60% water, and it can go rather quickly. We are constantly losing water and electrolytes throughout the day via breath, sweat, urine and bowel movements, so even mild dehydration can exhaust you and affect many of your body’s daily functions. Dehydration is simply the state where more water is leaving our bodies and cells than is coming in.

Water is the best way to rehydrate and stay hydrated. One major dehydration culprit is sugar, which can be included in many of our favorite beverages including vitamin waters, sports drinks, juices and sodas.

Check out these resources below to learn more about staying hydrated:

Want to learn more about what’s right for your specific body needs? Try out our VirtuWell Coaching or consult with one of our Registered Dietitians.

Living in Florida, we know a thing or two about how to stay hydrated, especially during these summer months. But why is it so important to drink water specifically? According to Harvard School of Public Health, drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep…


February 26, 2021

COVID-19 VACCINES: Accurate Information, Equitable Access

Published February 2021 – YMCA OF THE USA

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the Y has worked diligently to meet the most pressing needs of the 10,000 communities we serve across the United States, especially those that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. By providing child care to essential workers and first responders, feeding families facing food insecurity, connecting with seniors who are isolated, housing people who are homeless and supporting children learning virtually, the Y has worked to make sure everyone in our communities has access to the resources they need.

As the COVID-19 vaccines begin reaching the broader population, now the Y is working to ensure that everyone has equitable access to accurate information about the vaccines and to the vaccines themselves, especially Black and Brown communities, which have been disproportionately affected by the health and economic impacts of the virus.

Ys across the country are committed to providing vaccine education, and many have offered to serve as vaccine distribution sites. YMCA of the USA is supporting these efforts and joining several national health and community-serving organizations in distributing accurate information to our communities and calling for equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.

VACCINE FINDER
ADDITIONAL VACCINE INFORMATION & RESOURCES

Free Online Event
COVID-19 Vaccine Myth-busting | Co-hosted by First Coast YMCA

March 5
1:00pm

First Coast YMCA Facebook

Join Baptist Health’s Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive Elizabeth Ransom, MD, FACS to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Ransom will cover:
• Pfizer vs. Moderna
• How does the vaccine work?
• Common side effects
• Vaccine safety
• COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy
• COVID-19 variants and the vaccine

Published February 2021 – YMCA OF THE USA Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the Y has worked diligently to meet the most pressing needs of the 10,000 communities we serve across the United States, especially those that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. By providing child care to essential workers…


February 8, 2020

New Diabetes Prevention Class in St. Johns County

The Diabetes Prevention Program is not an exercise or nutrition lecture series. Instead, it is a year-long program broken down into 16 one-hour weekly sessions followed by bi-weekly and monthly sessions.

New Class
February 27, 2020
Flagler Heath+ Village
5:30p-6:30p

The Diabetes Prevention Program is not an exercise or nutrition lecture series. Instead, it is a year-long program broken down into 16 one-hour weekly sessions followed by bi-weekly and monthly sessions. New Class February 27, 2020 Flagler Heath+ Village 5:30p-6:30p


September 26, 2017

Bringing “Us” Together

For more than 160 years, the Y has been a place that brings communities together. Here on the First Coast, we have been committed to uniting, supporting and celebrating individuals and families for nearly 110 years.

We’re excited to share with you a new short film produced by YMCA of the USA that showcases the Y’s work as a vital nonprofit that makes a difference in 10,000 communities across the nation.



At our core, the Y is about helping individuals reach their full potential, and giving them opportunities to connect with their neighbors, all in service of making us better as individuals, communities and as a nation.

We are in this together.

Thank you for helping us make the First Coast stronger.

For more than 160 years, the Y has been a place that brings communities together. Here on the First Coast, we have been committed to uniting, supporting and celebrating individuals and families for nearly 110 years. We’re excited to share with you a new short film produced by YMCA of…


March 24, 2017

You Can’t Afford to Ignore This

In the United States alone, diabetes affects nearly 29 million people; another 86 million Americans have prediabetes, yet only about 10 percent are aware of it.

These statistics are alarming, and the impact on the cost of health care makes preventing the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes more important than ever before. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed more often in adults, and type 1 diabetes is diagnosed more often in children, but the rates of type 2 diabetes are increasing rapidly for both adults and children.

In 2012 alone, the American Diabetes Association estimates that diabetes cost the health care system $245 billion.

The nation’s struggle with obesity and type 2 diabetes is no surprise but the number of people with prediabetes is a growing issue, especially when so few people realize they have the condition. Prediabetes is a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

Often preventable, people with prediabetes can reduce their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by adopting behavior changes that include eating healthier and increasing physical activity. People with prediabetes are at risk for not only developing type 2 diabetes, but also cardiovascular disease, stroke and other conditions.

Tuesday, March 28, is American Diabetes Association (ADA) Alert Day®, and it’s important that you know your risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, as well as preventive steps you can take today to reduce the chances of developing the disease.

As the leading community-based network committed to improving the nation’s health the First Coast YMCA encourages all adults to take a diabetes risk test. Several factors that could put a person at risk for type 2 diabetes include family history, age, weight and activity level, among others.

“Studies show that people with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by making simple lifestyle changes that include eating healthier and increasing physical activity,” said Kristy Cook, Director of Healthy Living Innovations at the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. “Steps taken now to prevent developing diabetes not only makes good health sense; it makes good economic sense.”

The First Coast YMCA is helping people make healthier choices that can help reduce the risk of developing prediabetes or type 2 diabetes with YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program classes in April and May.

Some basic lifestyle changes that contribute to weight loss and an increased focus on healthy living can decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes. Among these are:

  • Reduce portion sizes of the foods you eat that may be high in fat or calories.
  • Keep a food diary to increase awareness of eating patterns and behaviors.
  • Be moderately active at least 30 minutes per day five days a week.
  • Choose water to drink instead of beverages with added sugar.
  • Incorporate more activity in your day, like taking the stairs or parking farther away from your destination.
  • Speak to your doctor about your diabetes risk factors, especially if you have a family history of the disease or are overweight.

Test Your Knowledge and Earn Y Rewards Points

In the United States alone, diabetes affects nearly 29 million people; another 86 million Americans have prediabetes, yet only about 10 percent are aware of it. These statistics are alarming, and the impact on the cost of health care makes preventing the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes…