Latest Entries

NC’s Seasonal Sensation – The Sweet Potato

A patient of Dr. Joel Schneider of Wake Heart & Vascular presented him with this anatomically correct sweet potato in Nov. 2009. Click on the image for more information.

Yesterday I posted NC’s No-diet Diet featuring a list of seasonal fruits and vegetables grown right here in our state. As promised, here is the first round of healthy recipes showcasing this month’s seasonal sensation  – all to help you get healthy in 2011.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, enjoy these healthy recipes with the ones you love, both starring February’s most charming vegetable – the sweet potato. Packed with nutrients like vitamins A, C, iron and fiber, sweet potatoes top the list of heart-healthy choices.

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4, Serving size: ½ cup

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cracked Pepper to taste
1/8 tsp fresh whole nutmeg, grated (or ground nutmeg if not available)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss sweet potatoes in oil. Drizzle potatoes with a small amount of balsamic vinegar and toss well to combine. Season with salt, cracked pepper and grated nutmeg. Spread potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. (Use more than one baking sheet if needed.) Every 5 to 7 minutes, take the potatoes out of the oven and drizzle more vinegar over the potatoes. Toss well each time to evenly coat the potatoes in the vinegar. Bake for 35 minutes or until browned and tender.

For more variety, try the same technique roasting a large sliced onion with the sweet potatoes. Baking variation: Spread onions on separate baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake the onions for 20 minutes or until caramelized and remove from oven. Continue baking the sweet potatoes. Combine when done. Top the balsamic roasted potatoes and onions with ¼ cup of toasted pecans and serve as a side dish with lean meat, fish or over a bed of salad greens.

Per serving:  130 calories; 5 g fat; 0 g sat; 0 mg cholesterol; 24 g carbohydrates; 4 g sugar; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber; 323 mg sodium; 429 mg potassium

Sweet Potato Custard
Serves 6 Serving Size: 1/2 cup

1 large sweet potato
2 ripe bananas
1 cup evaporated skim milk
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 beaten egg yolks (or 1/3 cup egg substitute)
1/2 tsp salt
Nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup raisins
1 tbsp sugar1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake the sweet potato for 35 minutes or until completely roasted and tender. Lower the oven’s temperate to 325°F.

Once the sweet potato has cooled, remove the skin. In a medium bowl mash the sweet potato and the banana and stir well to combine. Add milk and blend well. Add brown sugar, egg yolks and salt. Mix well. Spray a 1-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer sweet potato and banana mixture to casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, combine raisins, sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the sweet potato and banana mixture. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Per serving:  144 calories; 2 g fat; less than 1 g of saturated fat; *92 mg cholesterol; 3 g fiber; 235 mg sodium. *Using egg substitutes will lower cholesterol.

Provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s heart healthy Keep The Beat cookbook

Kristen Klecha, RD, is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed Cary Hospital

Share

NC’s No-Diet Diet

Every January, we all make the promise to eat better, get in shape and lead healthier lifestyles. Inevitably, few of us stick to this lofty promise. If you’re one of the many who succumb to the onslaught of office goodies or game day grease, you’re not alone. The good news is that North Carolina’s long growing season and geographical diversity provide perfect conditions for fresh, local fruits and veggies year round.

So no more excuses! Cancel the cake, hock the hot dog and let 2011 be the first year you keep your pledge to get healthy! Straight from North Carolina’s Fruit & Vegetable Availability chart showing what’s in season each month, here are 11 healthy and delicious reasons to stick to your resolution throughout the year.

And to help keep you motivated, we’ll post healthy recipes on the 11th day of each month featuring seasonal items found at your local farmers markets or groceries. Here’s to your health!

1. Sweet Potatoes in February: Sweet potatoes top the list of heart healthy produce. Instead of the standard box of chocolates, whip up a delicious dinner for your Valentine, all showcasing the heart-health benefits of the sweet potato – vitamins A, C, iron and fiber, just to name a few.

2. Lettuce in March: Lettuce varieties sprout in early spring and are packed with tons of nutrients like vitamins A, C and K, beta-carotene and folic acid. Not all lettuce is created equal, however, so look for dark green varieties like Romaine, Butter Crunch or Royal Red.

3. Strawberries in April: What better way to stick to that diet than with a bowlful of sweets! Strawberries are a wonderful source of antioxidants and vitamin C. Delicious on their own or paired with your favorite low fat yogurt, granola or salad, eat them by the handful completely guilt-free.

4. Broccoli and Cabbage in May: Broccoli and cabbage are most prevalent in May. A North Carolina staple, broccoli slaw or traditional coleslaw can be loaded in fat and calories. Try trimming back with vinegar based varieties. Low in calories and high vitamins A and C, folic acid, calcium and fiber – broccoli and cabbage are the perfect foods to keep you on track as bathing suit weather approaches.

5. Peaches in June: With options like berries, peaches and melons, there’s no better way to get your daily intake of fruit than with these local favorites. Blueberries peak in June and are high in antioxidants, which help stop the production of free radicals and prevent cancer-causing cell damage. 

6. Veggies in July: Hail the mighty vegetable! From leafy greens, beans, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, potatoes, peppers and corn, no other month produces more vegetables than July. Check out WakeMed’s Recipe Corner  for a variety of healthy recipes complete with nutritional information featuring these locally grown veggies.

 7. Watermelon in August: Nothing says summer like watermelon. The perfect addition to any backyard barbeque, watermelon is full of heart healthy beta-carotene and lycopene, helping to reduce the risk of cancers, such as prostate, lung and stomach.

8. Muscadine Grapes in September: North Carolina is noted for the muscadine grape. With their thick, tart skin, muscadine grapes have six times more antioxidants than standard grapes.  

9. Pumpkin in October: By far, pumpkin is the most widely eaten vegetable in the fall. Usually found in pies, cookies, muffins and cakes, pumpkin easily gets a bad wrap. But pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, and zinc. Try roasting pumpkin for a nutritious side dish.

10. Pecans in November: Pecans are packed with vitamin E, antioxidants, plant sterols and fiber. Most importantly, they contain heart healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have been shown to lower cholesterol levels.

11. Apples in December: We’ve all heard it, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Well, here’s why. Apples have tons of soluble and insoluble fiber, which has been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease.

There you have it. With such a wide variety of fruits and vegetables grown in our great state, there’s no better reason to ring in the next year 11 pounds lighter!

Kristen Klecha is a clinical dietician, RD, WakeMed Cary Hospital

Share

Safe Kids Wake County Burn Safety Tips

Did you know that hot tap water accounts for nearly 1 in 4 of all scald burns among children and is associated with more deaths and hospitalizations than any other hot liquid burns?

During National Burn Awareness Week Safe Kids Wake County reminds parents of the following simple safety measure to prevent burn injuries to their children. 

Kitchen

  • Keep children at least 3 feet from hot appliances, pots, pans, or food.
  • Use spill-resistant mugs when drinking hot liquids around children.
  • Avoid using tablecloths or anything a child can pull and cause hot food to spill.
  • When cooking, use back burners, and turn pot handles towards the back of the stove.
  • Always tuck appliance cords where children cannot reach them.
  • Never hold a child when cooking.
  • Stir all food and drink before serving children to make sure it is cool enough to eat and drink.
  • Closely supervise children when they are in or near the kitchen.

Bathroom

  • Always test the bath water with your hand before bathing children. (Make sure your water heater thermostat is set to no more than 120 degrees)
  • When children are in or near the bath, watch them closely, and check the water temperature frequently. 
  • If you are unable to control the temperature that comes out of your faucet, install special water faucets or shower heads that can shut off the flow of water when it gets too hot.

“A burn is one of the most painful injuries a child can suffer,” said Courtney Mann, MD, WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department physician. “Because young children have thinner skin than adults, their skin burns more deeply and at lower temperatures — and young children often cannot react quickly enough to escape harm. A little planning and a few simple precautions can prevent devastating injuries and even save your child’s life. ”

Share

Heart to Heart on Omega 3s

The latest edition of Heart to Heart Magazine, WakeMed Heart & Vascular’s quarterly heart health awareness publication, began hitting mailboxes late last week. 

The diverse editorial in this most recent issue includes articles on cardiac rehab, Ira David Wood’s valve replacement, and how joy can impact physical well-being. 

There is also an entire article on Omega 3s.  Fish is one of the best sources of Omega-3s, but choosing healthy fish can be difficult (see our previous blog) and not everyone likes fish.   As taken straight from the newest edition of Heart to Heart, there are lots of other sources of Omega 3s, including:

  • Go greens! Greens, such as collards, spinach, cabbage and kale, cooked or raw, offer Omega-3 goodness.
  • Try grass-fed meats. Studies have shown that they contain more omega-3s than their grain-fed counterparts.
  • Add more flaxseed meal to your diet. Find it at the grocery store, either on the baking aisle or the breakfast cereal aisle. Sprinkle it on yogurt.  Try 1 Tbsp. fl ax seed meal simmered in 3 Tbsp. water as a substitute for one egg in recipes. Use as a binder in your recipes for meatloaf, meatballs or casseroles. Search for recipes that use flax seed meal as a flour.
  • Omega-3 is also found in certain veggies, like broccoli, caulifl ower and Brussels sprouts.
  • Enjoy soy in bean or tofu form to put some Omega-3 in your day.
  • Walnuts! They’re crunchy and versatile and pack a punch of ALA. Try them in salads, on yogurt or with steamed veggies, roasted in homemade granola, ground up and used as a coating for chicken
    or fish

You can read the entire issue by clicking here.  Subscribe to Heart to Heart by clicking here.

Share

10 Healthy Super Bowl Snack Resources

You do not have to risk your heart health on game day. 

A quick surf of the internet revealed many different resources that provide options for healthier Super Bowl snacks.  And, if you choose wisely, your fellow fans will likely not be able to tell the difference.

1. Health.com – 11 Healthy Super Bowl Snacks
2. Eatingwell.com – 25 Super Bowl recipes to make your game-day party delicious and healthier.
3. Weightloss.about.com – Smart Super Bowl Switches
4. Montel Williams with Healthy Super Bowl Snacks
5. LiveStrong.com – Healthy Super Bowl Snacks
6. Times-Picayune Blog – Superbowl appetizers
7. iVillage.com – 15 Suggestions for a Healthy Super Bowl Party
8. Biggest Loser.org – Healthy Superbowl Snacks
9. WebMD – Two Super Simple Superbowl Snacks
10. And last, but not least, my personal favorite…MyRecipes.com – Super Bowl Recipes

Share

WakeMed Adds Cardiac Rehab in Western Wake County

WakeMed Cary Hospital Cardiac Rehab Program, the newest cardiac rehab class to serve western Wake County, will have its inaugural class on Monday, February 7 at the Kraft Family YMCA

The same experienced staff teaching the tenured program at WakeMed Raleigh Campus will also lead the Cary Hospital Cardiac Rehab Program. 

Cary Hospital Cardiac Rehab Program will offer comprehensive nutrition, lifestyle and physical activity counseling for patients who have suffered a cardiac event, such as a heart attack, heart surgery, cardiac catheterization or are diagnosed with a debilitating cardiac condition such as heart failure.  The goal is to improve physical fitness and overall health, and reduce the risk of future heart problems.

Classes will be offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 to 8 am with hopes of adding additional classes as enrollment grows.

The best new is that new participants are still being accepted.  Learn more by calling (919)350-1875.

Share

After Illness: When to go back to work or school

A 2011 poll of 3,700 people conducted by CareerBuilder found that 72 percent of workers go to office when ill and more than half feel guilty when they call in sick. 

As a nurse and the director of WakeMed Occupational Health & Safety, this is a practice I highly recommend against.  However, I know that it can sometimes be hard to determine how long you need to stay home in bed when suffering from a cold, gastrointestinal bug, etc.

At WakeMed, we provide all staff with a quick reference guide to make the process of deciding when it is appropriate for the health of those around you to go home from work early or not to come in at all.  This same reference can be applied to children when deciding how long to stay home from school. 

Trust me, your business will be better off with you at home when you are genuinely ill.  If you truly cannot “stay away,” make accommodations to telecommute if possible.

Flu-like symptoms, including fever?

  • Stay home until temperature has returned to less than 99.5˚ for 24 hours without fever lowering medications
  • See your doctor. You have 48 hours from the onset of symptoms to be given medication that treats the flu. Use tissues when sneezing or coughing to reduce the spread of germs to those around you.

Gastrointestinal bug?

  • Stay home until diarrhea-free for 48 hours

Exposed to someone with the flu?

  •  Monitor self for 5-7 days for flu-like symptoms

And remember, whether sick or well wash your hands!  Hand washing is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs.

Carla Stevens is WakeMed’s Director of Occupational Health & Safety.

Share

AHA Commends Efforts to End Smoking in Raleigh City Parks and Greenways

Today, the Raleigh City Council voted 6-2 to prohibit smoking in Raleigh City Parks and Greenways.  Advocates for Health in Action (AHA) commends Raleigh Parks and Recreation and the Raleigh City Council for their collective efforts to limit exposure to second-hand smoke and their strong commitment to protecting the health of Raleigh’s citizens.

AHA advocated for the end of smoking in city parks because it will significantly reduce exposure to second-hand smoke for all park visitors. This change will also have the secondary benefits of reducing litter and protecting our youth from negative role modeling.

We are thankful to City Council for taking this proactive step toward limiting exposure to second-hand smoke. Raleigh, as the capital city, can be a positive example for the rest of the county and state to follow.

AHA will continue to work with other municipalities in Wake County to make all parks 100 percent tobacco free. 

Laura Aiken is the executive director of Advocates for Health in Action and is a community health specialist at WakeMed.  WakeMed is also a member of the Advocates for Health in Action collaborative, whose mission it is to shape the environment throughout Wake County so healthful eating and physical activity are the way of life.

Share

Flu Surge

Predicting the pattern for an upcoming flu season can be challenging. While this fall showed promise for a mild season, the number of patients in our emergency departments with flu or flu-like illness is now increasing rapidly, suggesting that perhaps the worst is yet to come.

Beginning the first of December and climbing within the last two weeks, WakeMed physicians have seen a surge of patients with symptoms including fever, cough, aches, and fatigue.  The rates are highest among toddlers and preschool-aged children in particular, constituting almost 27 percent of WakeMed visits last week.

The best defense against the flu is to get a flu shot. The Center for Disease Control says that the vaccine can reduce the chances of getting the flu by 70 to 90 percent in adults, but even if you do not get the virus, the vaccine can still prevent serious complications from the flu.  Remember too that it takes approximately two weeks from the time you are vaccinated till you reach maximum protection against the flu.

Why the surge in flu and flu-like illness all of a sudden? While it’s hard to say exactly, the extensive cold weather may have played a part, keeping people indoors and together.

The best way to lower your risk of illness:

  1. Get a flu shot.
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds.
  3. Use hand gel when hand washing is not available.
  4. Cough and sneeze into your elbow.
  5. Keep your environment clean. Household products work great for this.
  6. If you are sick, stay home to prevent the spread of illness.

Robin Carver, RN, director of Infection Prevention & Control

Share

Letter to the Editor

The following letter to the editor written by Meera Kelley, vice president of quality and patient safety, appeared in today’s News & Observer.

Hospitals and a culture of safety

Today’s health care involves numerous specialists, tests, procedures, support services and electronic systems. In this complexity lies the reason for many of the medical mistakes discussed in the Jan. 20 “Harmed in the hospital” Point of View article by James Bryan, M.D., and Burton Craige.

Electronic solutions can help prevent errors, but they can, if we are not watching carefully, introduce new types of errors. Ultimately medical error prevention lies in culture change.

Health care professionals take great pride in what they do, but often they work autonomously. And these physicians, nurses and support staff are human and humans are not perfect. Mistakes in health care have historically been treated as personal failures punishable by job loss.

Rather than expecting perfection, we must design systems that prevent errors from getting to patients, and the most important resource we have for designing safer systems is the experience of those individuals providing care every day. Caregivers must be able to come forward and say, “I made a mistake. Here’s what happened. How can we make sure no one else can make the same mistake?” We can also learn from our much more numerous “good catches” such as “I almost gave this patient the wrong medication when I picked up the one next to it that appeared very similar. In the future we need to make sure to label the medications differently to avoid that mistake.”

At WakeMed, and in many hospitals today, we are striving to support a culture where physicians and staff feel safe and supported in acknowledging their humanness by coming forward and reporting a mistake or a near miss, so we can all work together to improve our systems. We hold individuals accountable if they knowingly take shortcuts or risks, and when we identify an error, we come forward and share that with the patient and family, explaining what happened and what we are doing to help them and to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Moving toward highly reliable, safe care in such a complex and constant environment is challenging, and improvements to date have been inadequate. It is through 1) striving every day as professionals and as organizations to do our best, yet to be honest about our mistakes, 2) implementing safer systems, working together across health care settings, and 3) changing our culture that we will transform health care into the safe, effective and efficient system it must become.

Meera Kelley, M.D.

Vice President, Quality and Patient Safety

WakeMed Health & Hospitals

Raleigh

Share