Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Blueberry Booster Smoothies!

Hello everyone, we invite you to our next delicious Pathfinder Produce Market, which is set for tomorrow afternoon at the Pathfinder Village Commons from 1 to 5 p.m.  The “little market that could” will be celebrating its FIFTH ANNIVERSARY on Thursday, March 15, and we will feature fun and innovative ways to celebrate this important milestone … stay tuned! 

On that day too, we’ll also be joining our global families and partners to kick-off the observance of World Down Syndrome Day – all of us at Pathfinder will be wearing our CRAZY SOCKS to celebrate the ways that Down syndrome adds beauty and reveals a deeper understanding of humanity in our lives.  World Down Syndrome Day is a growing global event, held each year on March 21st – the 3-21 date is a numerical representation of three copies of the 21st chromosome, which is the genetic cause of 95% of instances of Down syndrome (Trisomy 21). 

If you would like to join us by wearing your Crazy Socks, please feel free to take some pictures of your “neat feet” and share them to our Pathfinder Village Facebook page.  The crazier the better!   We’d love to see how flashy and special your socks can be, and you can include messages on how you embrace all the ways that our brothers and sisters with Down syndrome enrich our lives.

Below, my colleague Sally Trosset shares a favorite healthy smoothie recipe, which can help keep everyone at their best during these days of lingering colds, vastly changing temperatures, and way too hectic schedules.  Enjoy!


As expected, the cold and flu season arrived on schedule this year and by all measures, it has been a bad one.  Thankfully, it appears to have peaked and doctor’s visits appear to be on the decline. According to a recent New York Times article,  experts at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are calling it one of the worst flu seasons in years.

If you’re like me, you want to fend off the flu and nasty winter colds for your family. At my house I get pretty militant about clean hands, clean sheets, sneezing/coughing into our elbows, and a can of Lysol in every room.  Fluids, fluids, fluids (!!!) are very important, but also adding more immune-boosting recipes to our meal plan is critical. To help my family stay healthy this season, I’ve been pushing our summer favorite-- a wild blueberry smoothie – which is packed full of antioxidants and Vitamin C.  A staple of our summer diets, we’ve pulled out the blender this winter to get our healthy smoothie fix.  It has also curbed my girls’ hunger when they return home from basketball practice; usually they’re starving and dinner is not always quite ready.

This family favorite is made with one cup of wild blueberries (I use Wyman’s fresh frozen wild blueberries from the grocery store during this time of year), a splash of orange juice, one cup of spinach, one cup vanilla-flavored unsweetened almond milk, and 2-3 ice cubes (add more ice, almond milk or water for your desired thickness).  It blends into a tasty treat with the perfect amount of natural sweetness.

According to a recent article in Readers Digest, wild blueberries have twice the antioxidant capacity of larger, cultivated blueberries.  Research suggests that the secret is in the skin.  That is where the highest concentration of the antioxidant anthocyanin is found.  Pound for pound, wild blueberries have more skin than regular blueberries.   Antioxidants are important not only to immune health, but also for boosting brain, heart and gut health, and may prevent diabetes and some forms of cancer. With their anti-inflammatory properties and disease-fighting compounds, antioxidants keep your body strong and can give you an edge when you need to fight off bacteria and viruses.

Wake each morning and enjoy this delicious smoothie or enjoy it at the end of the day to hold you over until dinner. The citrus flavor pairs nicely with the sweet wild blueberries, which have a more intense berry flavor.  A crowd pleaser in our house, it’s refreshing, sweet and healthy too!

Stay Well!

Sally (and Lori)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Have a Heart Healthy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  We hope that all our friends and neighbors will stop by Pathfinder Produce this Thursday afternoon from 1 to 5 p.m. for some lovely treats and tempting deals at our friendly produce market at the Pathfinder Village Commons.

This week, we continue to be focused on matters of the heart; over the weekend our Otsego Academy students attended the Foxcare Center Walk in Oneonta in support of the Greater Utica Area American Heart Association.  The students successfully completed the three mile walk and enjoyed learning about hands-free CPR and other topics.  The FoxCare walk was a preliminary event for the Greater Utica Area Heart Walk & Run; there’s still time to register for that event at their website.

Also, in association with the American Heart Association, this Friday, our Pathfinder School students will be holding their HOOPS FOR HEART finale; the students are about halfway to their fundraising goal for the Heart Association.  To help them reach their goal, you can donate online at this link.  We hope to share pictures on our Facebook Page of all the fun at Friday’s celebration!

Below, my colleague Maura Iorio, who is the Senior Director of Education at Pathfinder School, shares some thoughts on heart health.

Treat yourself this Valentine's DAy without all the guilt that a box of chocolates can bring.  Stick to your New Year’s Resolution to eat more fresh fruits and veggies while still having some holiday fun with these creative fruit pun print-outs!  (Think of Necco’s Sweethearts, but far healthier!)

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also has some tips to keep your heart pumping this Valentine’s Day. They recommend staying active—taking a walk, hitting the gym, or doing some ZUMBA (held on most Wednesday nights at Pathfinder Gym at 7 p.m.)! Exercising regularly, along with a healthy diet, will keep your heart strong all year round!

Are you looking to do something extra special for your health? The CDC encourages people to “treat themselves” and their heart—quit smoking! Monitor your blood pressure! Learn the most common signs of a heart attack so that you can be prepared to call for emergency assistance if you notice these symptoms in yourself or others:

·       Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back,
·       Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint,
·       Chest pain or discomfort,
·       Pain or discomfort in arms or shoulder, and
·       Shortness of breath.

(We also recommend that people learn the FAST signs for strokes
EVERY minute counts when faced with a potential stroke emergency!).

We hope you have a happy (and heart healthy!) Valentine’s Day this year!

Maura (and Lori)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Common Sense Flu Precautions

Hello everyone!  We hope everyone will come down to our next Pathfinder Produce market at the Village Commons this Thursday, February 8.  Our friendly staff will be showcasing a great variety of fruits and veggies … the “little market that could” is your place for the freshest tastes around!

Kudos go out to our Otsego Academy students, who will be doing their part to support the American Heart Association this Saturday, Feb. 10, by participating in the Heart Walk at FoxCare in Oneonta.  The students are looking forward to this indoor 3-mile walk, where they’ll be learning about heart health, CPR, and other ways to lead healthy lives.  If you’d like to sponsor our students go to their Otsego Academy Team Page !

More and more, we’re hearing news items about the H3N2 flu strain. Below, my colleague Martha Spiegel shares some tips to prevent getting sick.

Common Sense Flu Precautions

The flu has hit the country hard this year, and our area is no exception. Doctors are reporting more than double the cases from last year, and it has been classified as an epidemic. Flu is a virus-caused respiratory disease that is typically mild and requires no medical intervention. However, it can be more complicated for the very young, very old, pregnant women, and people with respiratory conditions such as asthma.

Here at Pathfinder Village, our entire staff completes yearly training in Universal Precautions, steps to take to prevent the spread of disease, and since flu typically peaks in February, it seems like a good idea to share some of this helpful information.

The best prevention against the flu is a vaccination. However, the flu vaccine only prevents certain strains of flu, so it is still important to protect yourself as well as others. Also, the flu can be contagious a day before symptoms appear. Here’s what you can do:

  • Wash your hands! It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to wash with plenty of soap, being diligent to clean between fingers as well as the fronts and backs of your hands, and to wash for at least 20 seconds. After drying, be sure to use a paper towel to turn off the faucet—remember, your unwashed hand turned it on.
  • Cover your cough/sneeze. Use a tissue or napkin if possible. If not, sneeze into your sleeve, covering your mouth and nose with your elbow.   (The best offense is a good defense! Don’t sneeze into your hands!)
  • Clean up. The virus can be killed with bleach, hydrogen peroxide, soap, iodine-based antiseptics, and alcohol (such as hand sanitizer). Don’t forget to clean doorknobs, keyboards, and faucets. The flu virus can remain on a surface for up to 24 hours.
  • If you are careing for a family member with the flu, keep your distance as much as you can.  Wear a maskWear gloves if you are cleaning up dirty tissues, etc., and wash your hands immediately. 
  • Practice other good health habits.  Getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of fluids and maintaining a healthy diet can all help keep you and your immune system strong.

All of this information and more is available at .  Until next time, stay well and fight those germs!

Martha (and Lori)

Monday, January 29, 2018

More thoughts on Blood Pressure

Hello, everyone! We're looking forward to another delicious edition of Pathfinder Produce this Thursday, February 1, at the Village Commons.  Come on down between 1 and 5 p.m. and check out all the great deals and wonderfully fresh fruits and veggies!

February is American Heart Month.  I would like to give a BIGGG shout out to the Otsego Academy students – Dr. John, Peter and Laura – who will be taking part in the second annual Indoor Heart Walk on Saturday, February 10, at the FoxCare Center in Oneonta, in partnership with Bassett Healthcare Network and the Greater Utica American Heart Association.  This is a great opportunity to help support the activities of the AHA, which has provided grants in support our Hoop House growing programs.  If you'd like to sponsor the team, please go to their team page at this link.

The February 10 FoxCare walk features a three mile walk, plus ZUMBA and yoga classes, exotic animals from the Utica Zoo, hands-only CPR training, free healthy heart checks, and lots more.  To sign up to attend, visit heartwalk.  Children 16 and under are free, and onsite registration starts at 9 a.m.


Recently, a family member had to have a not-too-serious health procedure. He’s not one to go to the doctor often, but he became concerned when his blood pressure would go up as he went to his appointments.  I don't think this is uncommon, but it is important for people to track their numbers (see my past blog post on blood pressure).

As a result, our family has been doing some research on how to manage our blood pressures better: We bought an inexpensive BP cuff so we can see what our readings are. I've found that if I spend some time getting a neck massage with the Shiatsu gizmo I got for Christmas, I can lower my readings. (Ocean visualization and foot massages are other lowering techniques!)

So, just what are blood pressure readings telling us? According to Wikipedia, blood pressure “is the pressure of circulating blood on the walls of large arteries….”  It is expressed in terms of the systolic pressure, the maximum pressure during one heartbeat, over diastolic pressure, the minimum pressure between two heartbeats.  Healthy BP measurements range between 90-119 systolic over 60-79 diastolic, based on the recently updated chart from AHA.

If your BP is typically elevated, medical professionals will prescribe pharmaceuticals to help. But there are steps we can all take to keep our numbers lower. First, cut back on your stress!  Don’t watch the news or take part in activities that make you feel anxious.  Try to work off stress by going out for a walk, bike ride or other sustained exercise.  Also, focus on eating a diet that emphasizes lots of healthy fruits and veggies.

Next, lots of salt and sodium is a big no-no!  When there’s extra sodium in your bloodstream, it pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the total volume of blood inside your arteries and veins. With more blood flowing, your blood pressure increases.  Eventually, high blood pressure can stretch out or weaken blood vessel walls and can contribute to harmful plaque accumulations. The added pressure also makes hearts work harder to pump blood through the body.  However, with that said, it's important to stay fully hydrated: Water helps your blood remain at the proper viscosity and prevents your heart from pumping harder than it should. 

In our research, we also found some alternative practices that may help. Before starting any of these, you should talk to your doctor to determine if these are sound ideas given your overall health and current prescriptions:
·       Ginger Root, Tumeric and Black Pepper Tea: A good friend of ours suggested this – he drinks a strong tea made with fresh gratings of ginger and tumeric roots each day. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory and natural blood thinner; tumeric is another anti-inflammatory that offers anti-clotting properties. The black pepper helps with absorption of the tumeric. Apparently, these ingredients help by dilating blood vessels, making blood flow easier, and fighting bad cholesterol.

·       Magnesium supplements: If you are magnesium deficient, your BP can be elevated, and you may display other symptoms: difficulty sleeping, muscle cramps, anxiety issues, headaches, etc.  According to an article on the Naturalife website, if you tend to crave chocolate (go with the dark if you must succumb), that can be a sign of a magnesium deficiency.  You can get more magnesium either through a multivitamin, or by eating spinach, Swiss chard or other fresh foods.
According to a 2003 Journal of Nutrition study, magnesium is an essential element that is crucial to hundreds of physiologic processes; about half of adults are deficient (National Center for Biotechnology Information, US Government, 2012). Deficiencies may be linked to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and headaches.

So, as we enter February, American Heart Month, think about things you can do to improve your own health, and think about ways you can make others aware of how important healthy hearts are! 

Until next time, eat and be well!


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Those Pesky New Year’s Resolutions!

Well, here we are … January is certainly flying by way too fast.  School and work schedules are very busy, even during the winter months, and sometimes it’s tough to stock up on fresh fruits and veggies.  Isn’t it good to know that Pathfinder Produce is here to help you serve up tasty, healthy foods to your loved ones?
Come visit us this Thursday, January 25 at the Pathfinder Village Commons, from
1 to 5 p.m. for the freshest tastes and friendliest staff around!
Below, my colleague Sally Trosset shares some encouraging words to all of us who may be feeling a little overwhelmed by our New Year’s resolutions.
It’s January 23rd -- do you know where your New Year’s resolutions are? 
We always start the New Year with good intentions, but it is easy to quickly fall off the wagon.  Life gets in the way or we lose that early rush of motivation, and slowly but surely we land back at square one.  According to one 2012 article from, 1 in 3 people abandon their resolutions by the end of January.  Whether you are resolving to get more done each day, exercise regularly, or shed a few pounds there is still time to get back on track.  (There’s less than one week to prove Forbes wrong!)
Another more recent Forbes article points out that it’s not necessarily about the goal; it’s about the approach and your plan to accomplish it.  I found these tips from author Frances Bridges to be helpful, easy to follow, and it’s only five steps! 
If you are serious about sticking to your resolutions, these are some solid methods that may increase your chances for success.  One webpage from SparkPeople has an entire rewards chart and offers 50 non-food rewards for hitting your goals.  Change is never easy -- it requires soul-searching and resolve -- but the results of working toward positive transformation can offer you renewed confidence and a more purposeful outlook for the future.
And finally, as the Bridges’ article states, celebrate your success!  You passed on the burger and ordered a salad.  You didn’t buy the coat because you realized you didn’t need it.  Those are achievements and you should be proud of yourself! 
Until next time, eat well and be well!

Sally (and Lori)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Go for Garlic!

Hello everyone!  We hope you’ll join us at another yummy Pathfinder Produce fresh fruits and veggie market at the Village Commons this Thursday, from 1 to 5 p.m.  We have a great selection of fresh and bulk items to share with you and your family.  Fresh never tasted soooo good!

One item of interest, our Otsego Academy students and staff will be taking part in a local American Heart Association walk in Oneonta on Saturday, Feb. 10.  Coordinated by the Greater Utica Area Chapter of AHA, this indoor walk will be held at the FoxCare Center, and should be a great deal of heart healthy fun.  If you would like to sponsor our OA-PV participants, go to the AHA link here (this event is considered to be part of the Greater Utica event, which is set for March 3!). 

Below, our Senior Director of Education Maura Iorio offers some thoughts on that powerful little bulb, garlic! 

At Pathfinder School, we walk by the Pathfinder Hoop Houses each day, which are now closed for the winter.  They certainly were bustling places over the summer months … members of our Adult Day Services program were busy planting and tending an impressive array of fruits and veggies.  These were then featured at our weekly market.

While most of our PV-grown produce is now a pleasant memory, one crop – garlic, continues to be featured at the market.  Garlic is a favorite flavoring for many; although this flavor-packed vegetable sometimes has a bad reputation for leaving behind bad breath, its health benefits more than make up for it.

Garlic has been found to boost your immune system, reduce your blood pressure, lower cholesterol, strengthen bones, and even enhance your athletic performance. It’s easy to incorporate garlic into your diet, as it is hardly ever eaten alone but rather mixed into recipes for flavor.

Want to get a jump start on adding more garlic? Try this roasted garlic recipe—who knew that when prepared properly garlic can actually be used as a spreadable condiment? Swap out butter in favor of roasted garlic for even more heart healthy benefits!

Until next time, eat and be well!

Maura (and Lori)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Home Remedies

Hello everyone!  We invite everyone to come to our next delicious Pathfinder Produce market, which is open at the Village Commons this Thursday, January 11, from 1 to 5 p.m.  We’ve got a great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, all at a very competitive price, all to help you eat well and stay healthy.  Check it out!

In this week’s blog, my colleague Martha Spiegel considers home remedies, now that the cold and flu season is with us.

Home remedies

I have had an annoying cough for a few days, and have gotten some advice from friends and family about some home remedies that might help. That got me thinking about home remedies in general, and how many are factual and how many have more of a  placebo effect.    So I conducted a very informal survey and then did some research. Here are some of the suggestions, and what I found out.

Vicks® VapoRub™ on the forehead for headaches, or on the feet for a cough: I have heard many, many uses for Vicks, and confirming or debunking all of them would be quite a project. Vicks is advertised as a cough suppressant and an analgesic for muscle aches. The vapors from the camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oil will clear a stuffy nose very quickly, thus relieving headaches resulting from congestion. The company advises rubbing it on the chest and throat for a cough so that the vapors can be inhaled; I suspect rubbing in on your forehead would have the same effect, although it can cause your eyes to burn. Rubbing it on your feet, then would be counterintuitive (unless perhaps with small children who’s feet aren’t that far from their noses!). 

Warm milk for insomnia: This falls under the “maybe” category. It has never been scientifically proven or disproven. Some sleep experts were interviewed and the consensus was that it works for some people, perhaps for various reasons—comfort in the warm milk, being part of a bedtime ritual, etc.

Plain white rice for diarrhea: This is medically proven, and part of what is known as the BRAT diet—Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. They are all bland, low in fiber, and easily tolerated by most people; thus this remedy is commonly recommended by doctors. I also found that cooked white rice is also effective for the same condition in dogs.

Honey and lemon for cough, sore throat:   According to, honey appears to be as effective as cough medicine on children over age 2. It is also soothing to the throat. Adding lemon can help cut the mucus. If the honey and lemon are added to hot tea, there is also steam for the sinuses.

Neti pot to clear sinuses: My sister swears by her neti pot. I’m pretty sure if I used one I’d pour it down my shirt instead, so I have not tried it. Used properly, however, it can be very effective in clearing the sinuses using only a saline solution.

Chicken soup for a cold: One of my favorite things to eat when I have a cold is matzoh ball soup, which has a chicken base. Being unable to find it in any diner nearby, my husband learned to make it (for which I am very grateful!). Chicken soup is warm, so it’s comforting. The steam from a hot bowl of soup is good for the sinuses. The salt is soothing to the throat, and tastes much better than a salt water gargle. There are also healthy nutrients, which vary with the ingredients used.   This article does a nice job of summing up why, even though the soup is not curative, it does make someone feel better. And like my parents say, “It couldn’t hurt!”

In the end, I found that many home remedies can be effective, and many just have comforting effects which can also be helpful. It is advisable to do your own research before trying any home remedy to make sure it won’t cause harm, and always call your medical provider if you have any doubts or if your symptoms persist or worsen.

Until next time, take care and be well!

Martha (and Lori)