Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Orange you Glad it’s Christmas Time?

Hello!  We hope everyone is enjoying the Holiday Season with all its gatherings, concerts, school pageants and other traditional celebrations.  At Pathfinder Village, we had a tremendous Holiday Show and Tree Lighting event last Thursday evening – each year, it just gets better and better!

We extend an invite to our local friends and neighbors to visit Pathfinder Produce … our weekly “pop-up green grocery” that features fresh and yummy fruits and veggies.  Our Edmeston market is open at the Village Commons each Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m.  We look forward to seeing all our friends and neighbors soon!

In this week’s blog, our Senior Director of Education Maura Iorio shares some thoughts on traditions of the Yule season.

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Christmas, and the holiday season in general, is a time for family, friends, celebration, and traditions. One tradition that always fascinated me, probably in part because my family did not partake in it, was finding an orange in the bottom of your Christmas stocking.

Don’t get me wrong, oranges are delicious and they’re a great source of vitamins to get you through cold and flu season—but a Christmas tradition? My Christmas stocking was always filled with candies and small trinkets and the obligatory new toothbrush Santa Claus would sneak in there to compensate for all the sweets … but never an orange!

It turns out that the tradition is not as strange as it seems, but actually is rather sweet. Although some argue that it represents the three balls of gold that St. Nicholas left for a distraught father in need of dowries for his daughters, another explanation tugs a bit more at the heartstrings. During the Great Depression, and maybe even earlier, oranges were looked upon as luxuries. People did not have very much money, and oranges were not very common or readily available. Finding an exotic fruit from a faraway state like Florida was a big deal—something precious and delicious to wake up to on Christmas morning! You can check out more interesting facts about the traditions surrounding Christmas stockings here.

Oranges may be more easy to come by these days, and are fairly inexpensive (especially when you consider most children’s Christmas lists consist of tablets, game consoles, and other electronics), but they are a reminder to appreciate the small things. Christmas isn’t about getting the most gifts, or the latest gadgets—it’s about spending time with loved ones and making memories together. Maybe that’s a lot of pressure to put on a piece of fruit, but I think this year I’ll be making sure Santa leaves a spot in between the chocolates and toothbrush for an orange.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Maura [and Lori]


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Healthy Holiday Habits

Season’s Greetings, Everyone!

We hope you’ll stop by this week’s scrumptious Pathfinder Produce fresh market to stock up on veggies and fruits for your upcoming gatherings and meals.  We always have a great selection of fresh items, and our prices are kept low to help you stretch your food budget.  Plus, our friendly and courteous staff always makes it a great shopping experience:  Members of our Adult Day Services take such pride in their work as they assist customers as they shop or as they pack their shopping bags. 

Also on Thursday, all our Produce Patrons are invited to the Pathfinder Gym at 7 p.m. to share in one of the Village’s longest and most-heartwarming traditions, our Residents’ Holiday Show and Community Tree Lighting.  The mighty Pathfinder Players have four comedic skits planned, and there will be lots of sing-alongs too!  It’s always a great deal of community-wide fun and really sets the tone for season. 

Of course, with many parties and festive gatherings in the offering, it’s always wayyyyy toooo easy to over indulge.  In this week’s blog, my colleague Martha Spiegel offers some healthy holiday strategies.

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For many, the end of the year is the hardest seasons for healthy eating. There are parties and dinners and trays of treats everywhere you turn.  Here are some guidelines to follow for a happier, healthier holiday season:

  1. Never go to a party hungry. Have a healthy snack beforehand so you won’t be as tempted by goodies.
  2. Choose a smaller plate over a large one, if possible. If you have to keep making return trips to the food table, you will be more conscious of what you are eating. It will also help you to take smaller portions.
  3. Go heavy on fruits and veggies, and light on the heavier items. It’s best to steer clear of the dips in general, but if you must dip, opt for something like hummus over creamy, sour cream based choices.
  4. If you are at a sit-down dinner, make sure the veggies take up more space on your plate than anything else.
  5. If you are going to splurge on something calorie-laden, make sure it’s something that’s a real treat, not something you can get any time. Those chocolate chip cookies may look great, but that little piece of Grandma’s fudge that you only get once a year is more special. (Just make sure it actually is a LITTLE piece.)
  6. Don’t forget to drink lots of water. Add a slice of lemon or lime if you like. A big glass of water will help curb your hunger with no calories!  (Plus staying hydrated is key to avoiding dry, itchy skin).
  7. Make sure to get some exercise. When the weather is colder, it can be harder to get in your steps for the day, but you can walk around your house, climb up and down the stairs if you have them, do some yoga, or just march in place while watching TV. Every little bit helps!
  8. If you overindulge, don’t beat yourself up, just firm up your resolve. As Scarlett O’Hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.”


So have fun, enjoy the season, be safe, and be healthy.

Martha (and Lori)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

KNOW YOUR NUMBERS!

Everyone at Pathfinder Produce sends out greetings to all, after the brief hiatus for the Thanksgiving holiday!  The market will be open this Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Village Commons from 1 to 5 p.m.  Come on down and visit with our friendly staff and get some great deals on all your fresh vegetable and fruit favorites. 

In December, our Edmeston market will be open each Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. for our customers’ convenience and to assist in their holiday meal and party preparations. 

***

As we head into December and all the great gatherings that the month has in store, it’s always a good time to remind ourselves to watch how much we eat and drink to prevent the “holiday 10.”  Of course, if one snacks on fresh fruits and vegetables at parties, that’s always a great strategy.  And it is also good to sip low-cal beverages, like unsweetened seltzers or other non-alcoholic drinks, whenever possible. 

The end of the year is also a good time to make an appointment for an annual health check-up if you haven’t had one over the preceding 12 months.  Most physicals for adults these days include testing for things like sugar and lipid levels, cholesterol, and other health markers; knowing your numbers at year’s end can also serve as a reminder not to over indulge and to start planning health maintenance goals for the New Year.

One health indicator that may come into play this holiday season for many adults is being diagnosed with high blood pressure.  Earlier in November, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology announced lower blood pressure readings will now be used as part of physicians’ diagnoses for high blood pressure.  According to the website of the Foundation for the ACC:

High blood pressure should be treated earlier with lifestyle changes and in some patients with medication – at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90 – based on new ACC and American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for the detection, prevention, management and treatment of high blood pressure.

The new guidelines – the first comprehensive set since 2003 – lower the definition of high blood pressure to account for complications that can occur at lower numbers and to allow for earlier intervention. The new definition will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, with the greatest impact expected among younger people. Additionally, the prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under 45, the guideline authors note. However, only a small increase is expected in the number of adults requiring antihypertensive medication.

Even if you don’t go in for a physical, it is now possible to get a general idea of where your blood pressure numbers are by using a home BP kit or stopping by your local pharmacy to use their free in-store sphygmomanometers.  (I’ve always been impressed by that word, ever since I was first heard it as a kid).  Then, once you have a read-out of your numbers, you can enter them online at the American Heart Association’s webpage that describes what blood pressure numbers actually mean. 

Based on your read-out, the AHA page can calculate if your BP is normal, or if you should follow-up with your medical professional to take control of your health. If your numbers are just slightly high, you can start getting them under control through dietary changes, getting in more moderate exercise, managing stress, and by other pro-active methods.

During the holidays, it’s important to take the initiative to take care of yourself, despite all the planning, shopping, preparing, wrapping, traveling, etc. that you may need to focus on.  Remember, the best gift you can give to yourself, your friends, and loved ones in the New Year is your continued good health.

Until next time, eat well and be well!

Lori


Monday, November 13, 2017

“Not-So-Sinful” Cookie Dough Bites

Hello!  We hope everyone will come down to our next Pathfinder Produce market at the Village Commons, this Thursday, November 16, from 1 to 5 p.m.  We have the freshest produce and the friendliest staff … a winning combination!  We hope to see you there!

This week, our Director of Education at Pathfinder School offers an interesting way to use chickpeas as a smart substitution for tempting desserts.

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Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are best known as the main ingredient in hummus. Part of the legume family, chickpeas are a great source of protein and actually reside in the “protein” category according to the government’s My Plate nutrition guidelines—making them a great meat alternative for vegetarians and vegans! Did you know they can even be used to make a sweet, savory, and guilt-free dessert?

When blended with a few other key ingredients, chickpeas can be transformed into safe-to-consume, raw, egg-free cookie dough! Easy to make, they are the perfect snack for when you’re craving something sweet but don’t want to get a head start on November’s and December’s Holiday Weight Gain. There are lots of recipes out there, but below is one shared by one of our Pathfinder School student’s family.
1 can of chickpeas (rinsed, well-drained)
 ½ cup tahini (or you can substitute with ½ cup of your favorite nut butter!)
2 Tablespoons honey
 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
 ¼ teaspoon salt
Optional—mini chocolate chips to taste!

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Roll them into balls, or use a small ice cream scooper or melon baller, and place them on a tray. Refrigerate for about an hour before serving.

(Although many of us survived eating raw cookie dough or licking the beaters when our moms or grandmas were making cakes, this practice is nowadays highly discouraged by the CDC due to pathogens that may be ingested with raw ingredients.  We encourage everyone to learn about and follow safe-food handling practices!).
Enjoy this tempting treat (and don’t feel too guilty)!

Maura (and Lori) and special thanks to Mrs. Simmons for sharing her recipe!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The State of American Hunger

Hello everyone! We hope that your November is going well! We invite everyone to come on down to our next delicious Pathfinder Produce fresh market at the Village Commons, this Thursday, November 9, from 1 to 5 p.m. Our market staff – members of our Adult Day Services program – take a great deal of pride in serving our community, and look forward to greeting all our friends and neighbors as they shop for yummy fruits and veggies.

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This week, I am writing about a sobering topic, hunger in America. Recently, I read an article from The Nation that put the spotlight on the USDA’s report on food-insecure people in this country. This report, citing 2016 numbers, was issued by the government back in September, but it hasn't received much press.  “Food insecurity” is defined as households that lack access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all members. 

According to The Nation’s reporter Eric Alterman, the number of food-insecure people in the US today totals 41 million, which is more than the populations of Texas, Michigan and Maine combined. This is about 5 million more hungry people than in 2007, and includes 13 million children. The national average for household food insecurity is at 12.3%.

Alterman says, “Family food insecurity in rural America (15%) exceeds that in cities (14.2%) and the suburbs (9.5%).” He goes on to add that the administration's proposed budget calls for a cut of about $191 billion – about 25% from current levels – to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps families and seniors obtain the healthy foods they need.  (Our friendly Edmeston produce market accepts SNAP as part of our ‘market mission’ to help area families obtain healthy foods).

He adds, “Peer-reviewed studies have repeatedly found that SNAP reduces food insecurity by approximately 13 percent.” He also cites that studies show the program has helped reduce obesity, has had a significant role in helping young children maintain healthy weights, and is one of the “most important programs to lift people out of poverty.”

How is this all possible in one of the wealthiest nations on earth?  I wish I knew the answer.

In the USDA’s summary of its report, there is a map of food-insecure households: there are two main concentrations of states that have food insecurity above the national average -- the rust belt states of Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia, and Kentucky; and across the South, running from Arizona through Alabama. It is somewhat of a paradox that these southern states, which arguably have a climate suited to growing produce, have higher than average numbers of food insecure households. 

Here in New York, according to the website of the Hunger Solutions New York, the USDA report reveals that 12.5% of New Yorkers face food insecurity, and that the rate dropped from 14.1% in 2015, a “statistically significant decline.”  They add that, “Still the number of New Yorkers facing hunger-- 1 in 8 -- is unacceptable.”

Hunger Solutions concludes their summary noting, “Nationally, only 59 percent of food insecure people reported receiving assistance from our nation’s fundamental nutrition assistance programs. … we must stay focused on delivering federal nutrition programs including SNAP, school meals and summer meals, and diligently advocate through legislative and administrative policies to protect the integrity of these programs, their expansion and improved access.”

Until next time, be well,

Lori

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Learning about Low-Carbs

We hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween tonight … it’s really hard to believe that it’s November already! I know many students are now transitioning from fall to winter sports: Even if you aren’t a member of an organized team, there are many ways to stay active and fit during the cold months of the year. 

We hope to see all our friends and neighbors at Pathfinder Produce this week; please help us spread the word about our well-stocked and competitively-priced market.  If you know of others who would like to get onto our regular weekly produce price email list, please just let me know at lgrace@pathfindervillage.org.  As usual, our Edmeston market will be open on Thursday afternoons, at Pathfinder’s Village Commons, from 1 to 5 p.m.

Below, my colleague Martha Spiegel recounts her recent visit to her parents, who live in sunny Arizona.

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My parents have been on a low-carbohydrate diet for several months. They are doing well with it now, and have even figured out what they can order at their favorite restaurants and still stay on track. At first it was difficult, however, for a couple of reasons. First, they didn’t realize how many of their favorite non-starchy foods were actually full of carbs. My dad has always had a glass of orange juice and a banana with his breakfast. He had stopped eating cereal, potatoes, bread, etc., but still was not losing weight. He mentioned this to his doctor, who told him that the juice and bananas were very carb-heavy. Dad made the switch to coffee and eggs for breakfast and has begun to lose some pounds.

The second difficulty they had was boredom. They quickly tired of plain meat and plain vegetables for dinner. Mom got busy researching in various cookbooks and online and found that low-carb did not have to mean low-taste. One evening while I was visiting, Mom and I made Transylvanian Goulash (very similar to this recipe). It was very flavorful and stayed well within the guidelines of their diet plan.

For dessert, Mom ran some frozen strawberries and blueberries through a food processor until it was the consistency of a sorbet. It was very tasty and refreshing! (You can do the same thing with frozen bananas for a low-cal but not low-carb treat.)

Other foods that they enjoy are spaghetti squash with a variety of sauces, riced cauliflower—by itself or in combination with other chopped veggies—and fajitas (minus the tortillas, of course). Another recipe that I didn’t get to try while I was there, but intend to is an Italian Cabbage Stir-Fry. 

Now that they have found ways to eat food that they enjoy without feeling deprived, they are making good progress toward their goal weights, as recommended by their doctors. It is important to remember that weight loss should be steady but gradual, and done in consultation with your health care provider, especially if you have other health concerns.

Until next time, eat and be well!

Martha (and Lori)


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Soccer Seasons

We hope that everyone will visit our next tasty Pathfinder Produce market at the Pathfinder Village Commons, this Thursday, October 26, from 1 to 5 p.m.  We’re working hard with our suppliers to bring the very best market produce to our customers, plus we’re offering our tempting and oh-so-fresh Hoop House items. 

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Last night as I was leaving work, the youth soccer players were practicing at Grant’s Field.  It does my heart good to see youngsters nearly every evening, kicking the ball around, running and enjoying time with their team mates.  The addition of Grant’s Field here at the Village five years ago has opened a window for activity and laughter, fitness and sportsmanship for youth players in our region.

Tonight at home at 3:30 p.m., the girls’ varsity team at my son’s school, Unadilla Valley, will be facing Elmira-Notre Dame in their Round 3 Sectionals Game (MAC League).  Of course, everyone is cheering on the Storm, and many of us remember that it wasn’t too long ago that these gifted players were “little ones” cutting their teeth in community soccer leagues.

Soccer is a great activity for kids, as it gets them unplugged, gets them outside in the fresh air, gets them moving, and has so many benefits for growing bodies.  Livestrong adds that it also helps build social skills and helps kids’ build positive self-images. 

According to the website of healthfitnessrevolution.com and other websites, soccer specifically helps growing bodies by:

·       Increasing Aerobic Capacity
·       Improving Cardiovascular Health
·       Improving Pulmonary Health
·       Lowering Body Fat
·       Improving Muscle Tone and Strength
·       Increasing Bone Strength
·       Improving Coordination
·       Increasing Brain Function

It’s no wonder that soccer is the most popular sport around the world.  It can be played in nearly any flat, open, non-littered area, with a minimal of equipment.  You don’t have to be huge to excel either – arguably the world’s most gifted player, Lionel Mesi is 5’7” and weighs about 160 lbs. and suffered from growth hormone deficiencies as a boy. Just look up some of his highlight films on Youtube.  (My soccer-playing nephew, Dan, who is actually very good, is also small in stature – he absolutely worships “The Flea”).

Until next time, keep moving, enjoy the remaining days of soccer, and eat well!


Lori