Sausage and Barley-Stuffed Peppers

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup pearl barley
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb sweet Italian-style turkey sausage, casings removed
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8-oz package sliced mushrooms
5-oz package spinach leaves, roughly chopped
2 cups marinara sauce (if using jarred, choose low-sodium)
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
4 red bell peppers, cut in half and blanched
1. Preheat oven to 400° F.

2. Bring the broth and water to a boil. Add the barley, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook the barley until soft but not mushy, about 55 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
3. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown. When the sausage is partially cooked, add the onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Cook until the onion is soft and sausage is fully cooked, about 2 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside and keep warm.
4. Add the mushrooms to the pan and sweat until they release most of their liquid. Add the spinach to the pan and cook just until wilted but still bright green. Add the mushroom mixture to the sausage mixture. Add the marinara sauce, barley, and one-half of the cheese.
5. Stuff each pepper half with 1 cup of the filling. Cover the stuffing of each pepper with a square of foil coated in cooking spray. Place the pepper foil side down in a baking pan. Bake until the juices are bubbling, about 30 minutes.
6. Turn peppers over and remove foil. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top and serve.
Nutrient Analysis per serving Serves 8
Calories: 286; Protein: 18 g; Carbohydrates: 31 g; Fiber: 6.5 g; Total fat: 11 g, Sat fat: 1.5 g, Sodium: 585 mg

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Whole Grains, What’s The Deal?

There is a big difference between whole grains and refined grains and good reason to choose whole grains to better meet your dietary needs.  Whole grains are comprised of the “whole” grain including the bran, germ and the endosperm. These are important parts of the grain because the bran includes the fiber component; the germ includes the vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins and iron. Refined grains have had the germ and the bran removed, which means that these nutrients are also removed during the process1.  You might see products labeled as enriched this means that the B vitamins and iron are added back to the product however the dietary fiber is still left out.

Why should you choose whole grains?

Whole grains not only provide variety to the diet, they increase satiety and fullness and also offer vitamins, minerals, fiber as well as phytochemicals and antioxidants. Studies show that consuming whole grains can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases including the following2:

  • stroke risk reduced 30-36%
  • type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
  • heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
  • better weight maintenance
  • healthier carotid arteries
  • reduction of inflammatory disease risk
  • lower risk of colorectal cancer
  • healthier blood pressure levels
  • less gum disease and tooth loss

How much is enough? 

The USDA recommends that we make at least half of the grains we consume whole grains. Women ages 31-50 should include 6 ounces of grains and least 3 of these 6 ounces should be whole grains.  Men ages 31-50 should include 7 ounces of grains per day and make at least 3.5 of the 7 ounces whole.3


Grains to try!

  • Barley – Tossed in a cold salad
  • Brown Rice – As a healthy side dish with vegetables
  • Farro – Used in risotto and salads
  • Millet – Goes great in soups and stews and is gluten free
  • Quinoa- Very versatile in salads, soups and even as a side dish

Tips and Tricks! 1

  • Store in refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container for up to 6 months
  • Prepare for the week by cooking larger amounts and storing in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.
  • Grains will be done when all water is absorbed





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Coronary Calcium Scans Predict Mortality:

by John A. Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC, FSCCT

The coronary calcium scan or HeartScan has been available since the early 1990’s and is the main subject of the documentary ‘The Widowmaker’ [Netflix] regarding the controversy of finding early heart disease through non-contrast CT and the very profitable treating of advanced heart disease using stents and other devices.
Heart disease remains the single largest cause of death in the US, killing 40% more people than all cancers combined – but unlike screening tests supported by the American Cancer Society such as mammography or colonoscopy – screening for heart disease has not been adopted by the American Heart Association or the American College of Cardiology.

The coronary artery [Agatston] ‘score’ [CAC] is a measure of the volume of the calcified coronary artery plaque which was demonstrated 20 years ago to be a reliable surrogate to the coronary atherosclerotic plaque burden. The supposition has been that the higher the score, the higher the risk – this has essentially been demonstrated in studies with 3 to 5 year follow-up and the question remains if the CAC score retains its predictive power out beyond a decade.
A recently published study [Ann Intern Med, July 7, 2015, vol. 163:1, pp 14-21] in nearly 10,000 asymptomatic individuals who had a non-contrast CT HeartScan in Nashville, TN between 1996 and 1999 looked at a 15+ year follow up on all-cause mortality.

The results of the initial CAC score distributions and subsequent overall all-cause mortality are shown in the table below:
Unadjusted All-Cause Mortality vs. CAC Score
CAC Score CAC Category All-Cause Mortality/year [based on 15 year follow-up]
0 No visible plaque 3% [~0.2% per year]
1-10 Very Mild 6% [~0.4% per year]
11-100 Mild 9% [~0.6% per year]
101-400 Moderate 14% [~0.93% per year]
401-1000 Extensive 21% [~1.5% per year]
>1000 Severe 28% [~1.87% per year]

Although conventional risk factors such as age, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and family history were also important, age and CAC score remained the top predictors in this 15+ year follow up. For those at the top of the CAC chart, the authors indicated that mortality “is quite high and can approach 30%, 40%, and even 50% over the 15 years.”

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Mediterranean Diet and Age-Related Cognitive Decline

John A. Rumberger, PhD, MD, FACC, FSCCT

It is believed that ‘oxidative’ stress and atherosclerosis contribute partly to age related loss of cognitive ability. Studies using the so called “Mediterranean Diet” – an antioxidant rich diet of low carbohydrates, plentiful fruits, vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and lean sources of protein – may be the most beneficial in lowering the risk for heart and vascular disease.

A new study done from Barcelona, Spain enrolled individuals at high cardiovascular risk with randomized assignment to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts [30 g/day] or a standard low fat [American Heart Association] diet.
Follow up cognitive tests showed the participants allocated to a Mediterranean diet plus olive oil and nuts at 4.1 years did much better than those assigned the low fat diet.

Dr. Rumberger comments: the newest data suggest that the ‘low fat’ hypothesis, advocated primarily by the American Heart Association for the past 40 years, and based on research done in the 50’s and 60’s is misleading and that the issues of ‘fat’ in the diet have limited effect on the future development of heart disease. During these years with ‘low fat diets’ we have seen significant increases in obesity and adult onset diabetes due to problems with carbohydrates and high fructose corn syrup. The original Mediterranean Diet continues to be the one of choice for prevention of heart disease [and cancers] and apparently according to the above, continued cognitive health as we age.

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Coconut Ginger Braised Chard

This recipe is a great way to incorporate chard into your cooking! The chard is lightly braised in a broth of coconut milk, fresh ginger and a hint of red pepper flakes.

• 1 large bunch green chard
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• ½ medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
• 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
• ¼ cup vegetable broth
• ¼ cup coconut milk
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• Pinch of red pepper flakes

Slice chard into 1-inch strips. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions for about 3 minutes or until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add the chard and remaining ingredients to the pan. Cover and cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ cup
Calories: 89; Total fat: 7g; Saturated fat: 7g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 543mg; Carbohydrate: 7g; Fiber: 2g; Sugars: 2g; Protein: 3g;


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Adding Chard To Your Diet Can Be Easy And Beneficial!

By: Erin Walter, RD

These colorful leafy greens are a great way to add variety into the diet. Chard is unique because the stalks come in many colors from reds to yellows and even white and are sometimes referred to as “rainbow chard”. Chard also comes in different forms including baby and mature which offers versatility to this nutrient dense vegetable. The baby chard has a softer stalk and milder taste which is great eaten raw in salads and as sandwich toppers while the mature chard is best for cooking to tone down the some of the bitterness and soften the stalks.

Chard is packed with many nutrients including vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, iron and calcium just to name a few. It also contains powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients including carotenoids and betalains. Health benefits of these nutrients include anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that may help to stave off chronic inflammatory diseases.

Cooking with chard is easy and adds delicious flavors and textures to your meals. Chard can be sautéed or braised as side dish or added to soups and stews, and even rice or pasta dishes. It’s typically available all year round though its peak season is in the summer months of June through August. Next time you are shopping at your grocery store or even your local farmers market, try to pick some up to add a variety of colors, textures and flavor to your dishes!


Hornick B. Chard a vegetable valedictorian in the class of leafy greens. Food and Nutrition Magazine. July/August 2015. 32-33.

Swiss Chard.

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How to Deal with Muscle Soreness

Whether we are just starting out or pushed too hard at the gym, we have all had days where we are hurting and sore from our workouts. Surely the last thing you are thinking about is working out again, yet many times it’s just what you need!

After strenuous exercise, the muscle tries to repair itself and causes inflammation within the body. Adding light movement (think walking, swimming or light bike riding) will help to bring circulation to those muscles and increase blood flow, almost acting like an internal massage for your muscles.

Another way to help? Foam rolling. This will also increase blood flow to the area and flush in new “fresh” blood and oxygen to the affected area. This type of therapy can be painful, but if done on the onset of soreness, you may find you have a shorter recovery period.

Next time your feel your workout from the day before, don’t relax on the couch! Get moving, stretch and give yourself a massage with a foam roller or rolling stick!

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