Chapped lips on steroids!

Okay, so this isn’t as crazy as it sounds! I just read a dermatologist’s article that gave the secret to finally getting rid of badly chapped lips. 1% hydrocortisone cream! According to the article from Kathleen Welsh, MD, apply it 3 or 4 times a day for a week, adding on top of it a regular lip balm to lock in the moisture.

I’ve tried using Neosporin, but found an article stating the antibiotic actually dries. If your situation isn’t serious, Neosporin has actually come up with a lip balm called Neosporin Lip Health, Daily Hydration Therapy that works for me. It also has a sunscreen.

What tips do you have?


Acid reducing, nutrient reducing?

Do you have bad heartburn? Are you on any of the acid reducing medications that you continuously take? I was put on one 9 years ago for a slight acid reflux issue. A couple years later, I found out I had a vitamin D deficiency, was slightly anemic and started showing signs of osteopenia. My first thought as a dietitian was “how can a person like myself with good eating habits be so deficient in nutrients?” Then it dawned on me, since acid is what the body uses to breakdown food for absorption, could my acid reducer be interfering with nutrient absorption? I asked multiple doctors this question and they all said “no”. I had to add more and more supplements to my diet to keep my levels where they needed to be.

In the last couple years, I’ve seen articles reveal findings that yes indeed long term users of these acid reducers are showing nutrient deficiencies. I’m now on a mission to cut my medication to use on an as needed basis. It is difficult to do because your body adapts to these medications and tries to produce more acid to compensate. As you wean off the medication, your acid level really is difficult to manage. If you reduce it slowly, your body should adapt once again by adjusting the amount of acid it is producing. If your medical condition is severe, you may not have a choice but to continue taking you medication. Do not try this unless your doctor feels it may benefit you. Here are some tricks I am using that may help you whether or not you are trying to stop the medication.

Eat smaller meals more often. I prefer 5 smaller meals with the last eaten early enough in the evening that I don’t have a full stomach when I go to sleep. A doctor also recommended to stop drinking water at night, except enough to keep the mouth moist. Propping up your head, neck and chest on a pillow when you sleep will keep the acid from rising so high. Keep away from spicy foods including high amounts or pepper or garlic. Stay away from alcohol, caffeine and high amounts of sugar. Avoid high acid foods like citrus, tomatoes, vinegars and slow down on the fiber.

I’ve been taking a pill only every other day to start. I started to move to 2 days off, using a common chewable tablet acid reducer when needed. So far so good!

I’ll keep you informed with my progress. Share any successes you have had!

Mexican Chicken Salad

As spring is creeping up on us, I get in the mood to eat more salad. Here is one of my favorites adapted from “Weight Watchers Quick Success Program Cookbook”. The greatest thing about this salad is you get a good dose of protein so you won’t feed hungry, and during the summer, most of the ingredients come fresh out of my own garden!

Mexican Chicken Salad (serves 2)

7oz cooked diced chicken
1 diced tomato
1 cup thawed frozen corn
¼ cup diced red onion
½ cup diced sweet peppers (orange or red)
1 Tbsp finely diced jalapeno
¼ cup non-fat greek yogurt
1 Tbsp non-fat (or lowfat) mayonnaise
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice


Mix ingredients together and serve over lettuce.

By the way, there are a lot of good recipes in the book. You might want to check it out.

Time for Compost

The weather is warming, the ground around my house is finally unfrozen and leaves are starting to peek out on the bare branches. That means it’s time to start working compost in my beds.  If you haven’t heard, compost is the oldest way to fertilize your garden and one of the newer fads for environmental and organic gardening.  Compost is basically a naturally decomposed material loaded with bacteria and organisms that  feed plants and can also improve the texture of your soil. Remember we talked about the good bacteria in yogurt that makes a person healthy? Well, bacteria in compost makes  plants healthy.  So let’s give them a dose! The best thing about compost is it does not contain harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment. It’s all natural. In my area, mushroom compost is available for sale and I find it does a terrific job. If you don’t want to spend the money,  you can make your own compost.  Keep in mind it will take a minimum of 8 weeks to decompose enough to use, so plan ahead.

So what’s the recipe to make compost?  You can create a pile in an out of the way spot, such as in the corner of your back yard. Some people surround their pile with a fence made from chicken wire or farm fence. What can you put in the pile? Well, the best things you can put in are leaves, grass clippings, trimmings from pruning jobs,  kitchen scraps from  your produce, coffee grounds, tea bags, paper and crushed eggshells. What should you avoid? Ashes, meat and fatty kitchen scraps, chemically treated grass, dog poop or people poop for that matter! Dog, cat and human poop seem to be too toxic.  If you can get a hold of safe farm animal manure from someone you trust, you can add a little to your pile, but be careful. Too much is not good and could bring in bad bacteria. Keep the pile moist and turn it often. When its decomposing well, it will get warm, sometimes even steaming!

Once you have your compost, you can spread a thin layer into your gardens and work it into the soil. You can also amend your soil with it when you plant. Another way to use compost is to make a tea that you spray on your plants. It’s just like it sounds. You mix some compost into water and create a tea out of it! They say it not only feeds the plant, but it helps fight off diseases.

I can’t give you all the detail on recipes and direction to make compost tea here or I’d be writing a book. I can recommend a book if you are interested. Organic gardeners live and die by their compost, so you can find a lot of information in Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening.  I also recommend getting Organic Gardening Magazine. It has a lot of tips and tricks, and even goes a little into Organic lifestyle too.

So outside I go! Getting one step closer to spring!

Plain yogurt is a natural wonder

If you ask me about yogurt, all I can say is …WOW!  If there ever was a ‘miracle’ or ‘power’ food, I would say yogurt would be on my top five list! There is an endless list of benefits from eating yogurt and most have enough proof behind them to warrant eating a little every day.  Claims you hear about yogurt include that it solves digestive issues, builds the immune system, defends against yeast infections, prevents aging of the skin, prevents bone loss or osteoporosis, aides in weight loss and may even reduce blood pressure. It’s loaded with calcium and vitamin B. It’s also a great protein source for vegetarians and can be one of the main calcium sources for people with lactose intolerance.

How does it work? In the past, the way yogurt worked seemed to be a mystery.  Now, everyone hears the buzz word “probiotics”. Basically, the body is filled with bacteria which initially sounds bad, but there is such a thing as GOOD bacteria that helps the body work properly. And that’s all I’m going to explain without getting too technical! Yogurt contains high levels of this GOOD bacteria which aid the body in many ways to reap the benefits mentioned.

If you look in the stores, there are a TON of yogurt products and even just probiotics in a bottle. Hmmm……..which to choose? If you ask me, I say plain, non-fat yogurt is the best way to go. Any time you add something to yogurt, like sugar, color, thickeners or fruit during the process of making it, you can actually decrease the amount of natural living bacteria available. Those additions can also add chemicals and calories your body doesn’t need.  There are some who re-add bacteria into yogurt after they process the heck out of it, but who’s to say it’s still living and available for you when you eat it?

Now you are saying to me, “ya, but yuck! How am I supposed to eat that nasty PLAIN yogurt?!” Okay, so the taste may not be great, but I have a trick for that. Buy a bag of frozen blueberries and add them to your yogurt to sweeten it up naturally. Then you have TWO power foods at once! A nice recovery drink after exercise or working  in the yard is a blended smoothie made from a banana, frozen blueberries, cranberry juice and yogurt.  It’s also a great snack or light lunch, depending on how much you make.

Another way to get in yogurt is to substitute it for sour cream.  I found Greek yogurt is the best substitute, and you can get non-fat versions to boot!  I’ve also bought  yogurt strainers online that drain the liquid from yogurt to turn it into more of a tofu or soft cream cheese texture.  I found recipes for cheesecake made from this form of yogurt cheese that are to die for! The book is called Baking without Fat by George Mateljan.

Now, I’ve given you some creative ways to get yogurt into your diet. I hope you look at plain yogurt differently now. It’s good for you, costs less than those processed versions, and can taste good too!