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It’s the most germiest time of the year! Isn’t that how the song goes? Oh, wonderful, that’s right! Well, it may be the most wonderful time of the year if you and your family can remain healthy throughout the flu and holiday season.

 

Here are a few ways that you can make your health and safety a priority this year and keep you healthy well into 2024. 

  • Wash your hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. Make sure that you are washing them for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Bundle up when you are headed outdoors in the cold. Wear light, warm layers, hat, gloves, and scarf. And waterproof boots, too!
  • Don’t drink and drive or let others drink and drive. This is an all-year deal and not just for the holidays.
  • Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke whenever possible. If you are a smoker, consider making that early resolution to quit.
  • Get your yearly exams and screenings. Just because you are busy enjoying the season shouldn’t mean that you should put off those important health appointments.
  • Keep an eye on children. Keep hazardous or potentially hazardous items, foods, drinks, and objects away from children. Protect them from potential accidents.
  • Practice fire safety and know your family plan. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so be prepared in the event of an emergency.
  • Prepare food safely. Wash hands, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to the proper temperature and refrigerate foods after eating.

We all know the famous song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Well, this month we relive the 12 days of “Fitmas” and each day we will focus on adding a new exercise to our daily routine.

But just like the song, each day you will do the new days exercise AND the exercises of the preceding days.

 

For example, on the third day of Fitmas you will do pushups, straight leg hip lifts and the 20-second plank. 

Merry Fitmas to you and yours!

The 12 Days of Fitmas…

Day 1: 20-second plank

Day 2: Straight Leg Hip Lifts

Day 3: Push-ups

Day 4: Reverse Sit-ups

Day 5: Triceps Dips

Day 6: Mountain Climbers

Day 7: Leg lifts

Day 8: Crunches

Day 9: Superman

Day 10: Lunges

Day 11: Calf raises

Day 12: Squats

  • Cranberries contain high amounts of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants. They also include only 45 calories per cup.
  • Cranberry’s juice can be used for the prevention of urinary tract infections and bacterial adhesion in the stomach.
  • The same bacteria preventing ability of the cranberry juice can avert the formation of plaque, which leads to fewer cavities.

Recipe: Easy Cranberry Bread

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon, rind of
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 3/4 cups cranberries, chopped 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add egg, finely grated orange peel, lemon peel, and orange juice all at once; carefully stir until the mixture is evenly moist. Fold in cranberries. Spoon and spread evenly into a greased 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

 

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cups (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • Optional: Pecans, orange zest, raisins, currants, blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice.

 Place the cranberries in a colander and rinse them. Pick out and discard any damaged or bruised cranberries. Put the water and sugar in a medium saucepan on high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Add the cranberries to the pot and return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst.  Once the cranberries have burst you can leave the cranberry sauce as is or dress it up with other ingredients. We like to mix in a half a cup of chopped pecans with a few strips of orange zest. Some people like adding raisins or currants, or even blueberries for added sweetness. You can also add holiday spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice. Remove the pot from heat. Let cool completely at room temperature, then transfer to a bowl to chill in the refrigerator. 

Thanksgiving may be behind us, but we are still entering the major holiday season… or the major stress season for some. The holidays are stressful for many during a normal year, but couple that with shipping delays, shortages, and inflation, many people may be finding it hard to cope this year.

 

So how can you better deal with your holiday stress? Experts suggest the following:

  • Talk with your family and find out what holiday traditions mean the most to them and focus on those activities and not ALL of the holiday activities.
  • Make a holiday schedule and invite your family members to help you keep on that schedule.
  • Make it a proactive event to find out what worked and what didn’t from year to year.

(continued from Part I…)

 

Label reading and label awareness is especially important for those who follow a vegan diet. This is also very important to those who have animal-specific allergies. The Vegan Society suggests that everyone read labels and re-read labels, as over time ingredients of even your favorite foods may change. 

There is a difference between vegan products and “free-from” products, so being food conscious is extremely important for those who follow a vegan lifestyle. 

So, what do vegans eat? (Besides the obvious vegetables!) 

Essentially, vegans eat everything and anything that comes from plants: fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, grains, seeds, and pulses. 

What about eating out as a vegan? 

Any chef worth their salt will be able to rustle up something vegan for you from ingredients they already have in the kitchen - and if you ask nicely, many will rise to the challenge of creating tasty vegan mains and decadent desserts. Contact them in advance so they’re not put on the spot. Be prepared to help them out with suggestions of easy vegan meals – some chefs need a little nudge to realize just how many of the delicious ingredients they use happen to be vegan anyway. 

Another thing that vegans need to do is find dairy replacements. Most stores these days offer “dairy-free” and vegan cheese, milk, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream and other foods that are safe to consume and in fact, tasty as their non-vegan counterparts.