Celebrate National Sunscreen Day: 3 Tips for Protecting Your Skin from Sun Damage

protect sundamage

National Sunscreen Day–celebrated on May 27–is just a few days away.

It may seem like a silly holiday, but for over 70 years, sunscreen has been saving lives and protecting people from skin cancer.

For that reason alone, we think National Sunscreen Day is definitely worth celebrating–and we hope you’ll join us!

To get the party started, below are a few tips on how to protect your skin from sun damage.

Keep reading to check out our recommendations…

Sun Protection Tip #1 – Wear Sunscreen

sunscreen on the beach

We thought we’d start with the most obvious and overlooked sun protection tip–wear sunscreen.

Here’s the science behind why it’s so important…

The inorganic chemicals in sunscreen, including minerals such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, block the sun’s harmful rays.

The sunscreen ingredients do this by blocking UV lights the same way white paint reflects light.

When the UV lights are blocked, they can’t penetrate your skin causing burns, cell mutations, or even worse, cancer.

Apply one coat of sunscreen every few hours, and your skin will stay protected.

Tip: The skin on your face is very delicate, so it burns easily. For that reason, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your face. If you’re worried about putting greasy sunscreen on your face, look for facial sunscreen that’s made specifically for facial skin.

Aside from applying sunscreen, wearing sunglasses and a hat can help protect your skin.

Sun Protection Tip #2 – Wear a Swim Shirt

boy in a swim shirt kissing a dolphin

People often get sunburns while swimming in pools, lakes, or oceans.

There are two reasons this happens.

The first reason is that people feel nice and cool in water so they don’t realize they are starting to burn.

The second reason is that the sun reflects off the water’s surface. These reflective rays increase the skin’s exposure to harmful rays, resulting in sunburns.

The best way to protect against getting burned while in the water is to wear a swim shirt.

These special water-safe shirts can be found in any sporting goods or swimwear store. And, they can cost as little as $20–a worthy investment!

Aside from protecting you from the sun, these shirts are designed to keep you nice and cool.

Look cool and stay cool with a sun shirt!

Sun Protection Tip #3 – Limit Your Time in the Sun

sun umbrella to stay out of the sun

Moderation is key when it comes to protecting your skin from the sun.

You can easily limit your time in the sun by…

  • Going inside for a break every few hours.
  • Sitting under an umbrella while at the beach or lake.
  • Scouting out covered pavilions for outdoor lunch breaks.

We personally recommend that you take a break every 2 hours for optimal protection.

Tip: If you notice your skin starting to turn pink, be sure to put on a cover-up, reapply sunscreen, or take an extended break inside to prevent getting a sunburn.

Aside from following these 3 important sun protection tips, we also recommend that you have a dermatologist check your skin once a year for any unusual bumps, marks, rashes, or moles.

Your doctor will be able to keep an eye on worrisome skin issues and provide you with additional strategies for protecting yourself against skin cancer.

How do you keep your skin safe while in the sun? Share your strategies with us in the comments below!

 

3 Recipes That Transform a Salad from Dull to Delicious

beautiful salad tossed with water

One of the best ways to get a full serving of veggies and nutritious vitamins is to eat a salad.

The only issue is, chowing down on lettuce leaves doesn’t always sound appetizing.If you’re not a salad lover–or you’re tired of the same old salad with ranch dressing–we have good news for you.

There are many things you can do to turn a boring salad into a flavor-packed meal.

Keep reading to discover three tasty salad recipes that will tickle your taste buds.

Sun-Dried Tomato, Spinach, and Quinoa Salad

spinach salad

If you love fresh Mediterranean flavors, this salad recipe made with…

  • Vitamin-rich spinach leaves
  • Heart-healthy quinoa
  • Zesty, delicious dried tomatoes

… is for you!

Here’s how it’s made…

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine-mesh colander
  • ⅓ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach or arugula
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ teaspoon olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Lemon dressing

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. To cook the quinoa: Combine the rinsed quinoa and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water, about 15 minutes, reducing heat as time goes on to maintain a gentle simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes, which gives it time to fluff up.
  2. To prepare the dressing: Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt, and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
  3. To toast the almonds: Warm ¼ teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat until simmering. Add the almonds and a dash of salt and cook, stirring frequently (beware, these burn quickly!), until they are golden and fragrant. Transfer the toasted almonds to a medium-sized serving bowl to cool.
  4. Once the quinoa is done cooking, fluff it with a fork and then transfer it into your serving bowl. Drizzle all of the dressing on top and toss to combine. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes and wait a few more minutes to add the spinach so it doesn’t wilt completely. Toss again, season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Recipe Source: https://cookieandkate.com/2016/sun-dried-tomato-spinach-quinoa-salad-recipe/

Greek Broccoli Salad

greek broccoli salad

Defy the laws of traditional salad-making ways with this leafless, Greek broccoli salad recipe.

We love this salad because it’s…

  • Easy to make.
  • Filled with nutritious broccoli florets.
  • Always a hit at potluck dinners, picnics, and family meals.

Here’s how it’s made…

Ingredients:

Broccoli salad

  • 1 large head of tightly packed broccoli (about 1¼ pounds), florets removed and sliced into small, bite-sized pieces
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped shallot or red onion
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese or thinly sliced Kalamata olives
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds

Dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized serving bowl, toss together the broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes, shallot or red onion, feta or olives, and almonds.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until emulsified.
  3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss well.

Recipe Source: https://www.copymethat.com/r/FF8CoZO/greek-broccoli-salad/

Chicken Avocado Caprese Salad

chicken avocado caprese salad

When it comes to building a hearty salad that will keep you full and energized, this recipe is a real winner.

Complete with…

  • Protein-packed chicken
  • The healthy fat of an avocado
  • Decadent fresh mozzarella cheese

…this salad ensures that everyone in your family can leave the dinner table with full tummies and satisfied taste buds.

Here’s the recipe…

Ingredients:

Marinade/Dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Salad

  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, skin removed (no bone)
  • 5 cups romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 cup mini mozzarella / bocconcini cheese balls
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Whisk marinade ingredients together to combine. Place chicken into a shallow dish; pour 4 tablespoons of the dressing/marinade onto the chicken and stir around to evenly coat chicken. Reserve the untouched marinade to use as a dressing.
  • Heat about one teaspoon of oil in a large grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat and grill or sear chicken fillets on each side until golden, crispy, and cooked through. Once chicken is cooked, set aside and allow to rest.
  • Slice chicken into strips and prepare salad with lettuce, avocado slices, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and chicken.
  • Top with basil strips; drizzle with the remaining dressing; season with salt and pepper; serve.

Recipe source: https://cafedelites.com/chicken-avocado-caprese-salad/

Do you have a favorite salad recipe? Share it with us in the comments below!

5 Ways to Celebrate Mom on Mother’s Day

mom and daughter on a park bench

Moms are amazing.

Between juggling sleepless nights, full-time jobs, and keeping up with household chores, it’s hard to wrap our minds around how much they do every day to ensure everyone is healthy, happy, and provided for.

It’s no surprise that moms sacrifice a lot for their families–a sacrifice that we believe should be repaid with a month-long stay on a private island far away from laundry, crying kids, and boo-boos.

But, we know that a private island vacation isn’t in the budget for most families.

That’s why we came up with a handful of things you can do to celebrate mom and honor her this Mother’s Day that are both fun and affordable.

Keep reading to discover how to treat mom on her special day this month…

Serve Breakfast in Bed

breakfast in bed

Breakfast in bed is a classic way to treat mom on Mother’s Day.

After all, who doesn’t like to wake up to the smell of hot coffee and fresh bacon after a morning of sleeping in?

This year, pull out all the stops.

Make a delicious fruit salad, whip up your world famous omelet or stack of pancakes, and splurge for the flavored coffee creamer.

Aside from making breakfast, ensure that someone is awake to take care of small children or pets in the morning so mom doesn’t have to.

And finally, to top it all off, pick up a pretty bouquet of mom’s favorite flowers.

Then, wrangle up all your family members and surprise mom with a gourmet breakfast.

Clean the House

Just because you see mom happily rocking out to her MP3 player while scrubbing toilets on a Saturday morning doesn’t mean she’s actually happy about cleaning up after everyone.

Doing chores like washing dishes, folding laundry, and scrubbing toilets stinks…literally!

And, just as the kids in your house deserve a break to watch Saturday morning cartoons, mom also deserves a break to read a book, watch her favorite TV show, or go to her yoga class.

This Mother’s Day, make it your mission to help out around the house.

Let the kids take a turn cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming the living room.

Better yet, surprise mom with a chore chart that assigns chores to every family member for the entire year.

Many hands make light work. And, mom definitely deserves a little extra help!

To get you started, check out this post on homemade cleaner recipes!

Take Mom Out to a Show

ballet

First and foremost, we want to give a shout-out to all of those brave moms who have had to sit through Barney on Ice, a Raffi concert, or The Wiggles Live for the sake of your children.

They really should hand out margaritas and gold medals for moms who attend those types of events.

In honor of all those hours sitting through various renditions of “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands,” we think it’s only fair that you treat mom to a show that she actually wants to sit through.

This Mother’s Day, snag some tickets for mom to go see her favorite opera, a live show, a concert, or a movie she’s been dying to see.

Tip: If you have kids that don’t sit nicely through live shows, hire a babysitter and take your significant other out for a night on the town.

Cook a Delicious Family Meal

The saying “A mom’s job is never done” is very true.

After a long day of working or caring for kids, it’s usually mom’s job to make dinner.

Between picky eaters and the pressure to make a meal everyone will enjoy, this chore isn’t always a fun one.

This Mother’s Day, take over kitchen duty and have your kids help you prepare a delicious family meal so mom doesn’t have to.

Mom gets a break, the kids will learn valuable kitchen skills, and the entire family will have the opportunity to enjoy a nice meal together–a win-win for everyone!

Here are a few quick and easy meal recipes to get you started!

Tip: To kick this gift up a notch, consider making a book of meal coupons for mom that she can use any time she needs a break and doesn’t want to cook.

Send Mom for a Day at the Spa

towels and candles at the spa

You know what they say…“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Perhaps this Mother’s Day, all mom needs is a little time away to relax and recuperate from the chaos of home life. And, what better way to “get away” than to spend a day being pampered at the spa?

This year, treat mom to a variety of calming spa treatments.

After a day of being pampered with mani-pedi, a facial cleanse, and a massage, we have no doubt that she’ll come home rested and ready to resume her motherly duties.

The best part…many spas advertise special discounts in honor of Mother’s Day. Keep an eye out for these specials, or call and inquire about Mother’s Day packages.

Find a good deal, and you’ll be able to give mom a much-needed break without breaking the bank!

What to Say to Someone with a New Breast Cancer Diagnosis

two friends chatting together

According to NationalBreastCancer.org, 1 out of 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Unfortunately, this means that, over your lifetime, there’s a good chance that you’ll know a friend or family member who has breast cancer.

Sadly, if you receive this type of news, it can be difficult to find the right words to say to bring comfort to the one you love.

For that reason, we want to suggest 5 kind and compassionate things to say to someone who has been recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

It is our hope that you can use these suggestions to find positive, encouraging words that will uplift the women in your life who are fighting this courageous battle.

Keep reading to discover what we recommend…

Idea #1 – “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you.”

It’s 100% okay to not know what to say to someone with a new breast cancer diagnosis.

In fact, sometimes, it’s better not to say anything at all and let your loved one do the talking.

The simple line “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you” is a great way to let your friend or family member know that you’re at a loss for words.

Most important, this line can prevent you from saying something you can’t promise, like the phrase “Everything will be okay” that many people say out of habit.

The most important part of this sentence is the ending…“I’m here for you.”

It’s a great reminder to your friend or family member that, while you might not know what to say in the moment, you’ll always be there to provide support.

Idea #2 – “I’m here to listen.”

two women looking at the mountains

Actions often speak louder than words.

For this reason, we suggest letting your loved one know “I’m here to listen.”

This line gives your friend or family member the time to express her own thoughts, concerns, or worries before you speak.

It’s important to understand that your loved one will need time to process her thoughts and talking out loud can help her do just that.

After your loved one has had a chance to talk, you can then express what you feel is appropriate to say based on what has been told to you.

If you’re struggling to find the right words to say, don’t say anything at all. It’s just as valuable to lend your friend or family member a pair of supportive, listening ears.

Idea #3 – “Can I help you with X?”

When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s easy for her to become overwhelmed.

It’s likely that she will be left wondering how she will keep up with daily life while also fighting the battle of her life.

This is why our third recommendation is to simply ask your friend or family member, “Can I help you with X?”

Instead of talking about the diagnosis, simply ask how you can help. Doing this will remind the person you care about that she has people in her life that are going to help her keep moving forward.

We recommend that, when you ask how you can help, you are specific in your request.

For instance, you might ask, “Can I drive you to your doctor’s appointments?” or “Can I walk your dog twice a week?”

People are more likely to accept help when you are specific about what you’re offering to do.

Idea #4 – “What else is new?”

2 friends on a coffee date

Sometimes, talking about a breast cancer diagnosis isn’t helpful–especially if a person has a lot of other people asking her questions and wanting information.

Instead, your loved one might want to take her mind off the situation and talk about other things like a hobby or vacation.

If you can tell that your family member or friend is having a hard time talking about the diagnosis, change the topic and see if that helps.

Ask anything from “What are your kids up to?” to “How did you enjoy that movie you went to see the other day?”

A lighthearted conversation on a topic other than cancer might be the best thing you can do to offer a little peace in the midst of a breast cancer diagnosis.

Idea #5 – “Where or how can I learn more about what you’re going through?”

We all know that getting diagnosed with breast cancer is a difficult, life-changing experience. However, unless you’ve been diagnosed yourself, you’ll never be able to put yourself in the shoes of the person you care about.

That being said, it is possible to educate yourself to get a better understanding of what your loved one is going through.

That’s why we recommend that you ask your friend or family member, “Where or how can I learn more about what you’re going through?”

Having this knowledge up front will equip you with the tools you need to ask the right questions and provide the best support for the one you love.

This knowledge will also help you become more empathetic toward your loved one who is on this challenging journey.

Do you have any recommendations for what to say to someone with a new breast cancer diagnosis? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

The Ultimate Guide to Breast Reconstruction Insurance Questions

There are a lot of questions out there regarding insurance costs for reconstructive surgery.

Because breast reconstruction surgery can be expensive, it’s important that you know as much as you can about whether the procedure will be affordable for you, and what your insurance coverage options are.

Keep reading to check out some of the most common breast reconstruction insurance questions we receive.

Why Won’t Insurance Pay for Reconstruction?

Yellow Lily
Question: I don’t understand why insurance company doesn’t pay for reconstruction if you’ve had a lumpectomy. With radiation, your breasts shrink a lot and you are all out of proportion. I finally did get them to pay for prosthesis and bra.

Answer: That’s not always the case with a lumpectomy. If the surgery results in a significant defect or radiation negatively impacts the tissue, most times we can submit your case to your insurance company along with photos of the affected area, and they will indeed cover a reconstruction surgery for you.

Read the full post here.

I’m Looking for a Plastic Surgeon That Specializes in Microvascular Breast Reconstruction. Are You in My Insurance Network, and Do I Have to Make a Huge Down Payment before Surgery?

Question: I am looking for a p.s. who specializes in microvas. breast recon. I had dcis in 2014 lumpectomy with 6 weeks rads followed by bilat mast. 2016 with immed. recon with expanders then implants in March. Then I got a serious infection in the left (rad) breast, had implant removed and refused to do have lat flap done.

I am thin and one PS said I might be able to do a body lift type or one where they take from my backside and use an implant on both sides. I do not want the implant I have now. It is subpec and is painful. Can someone help? I have anthem BC/BS and you are out of network.

I do not have 8500 to have this done at another location. My insurance is agreeable to a pay if it is in network. I can’t afford much out of pocket. We are low -middle class, but don’t qualify for help.

Answer: Hi, and thanks for your inquiry. Glad you found us – you’ve definitely found a team that specializes in microvascular breast reconstruction. Regarding your insurance, does your card have a little suitcase on the lower corner of your card? If so, we’re actually in network for your, utilizing the Blue Card program through our contract with BCBS of S.C.

Read the full post here.

Does Insurance Cover Breast Reconstruction for Poland Syndrome?

Purple flower in a green field
Question: I was wondering what insurance would cover breast reconstructive surgery that’s due to having Poland Syndrome? My case I where I was born without having my right breast muscle and a smaller areola.

Answer: The good news is that we’ve been able to get breast reconstruction for Poland syndrome covered for past patients and certainly know how to navigate the process to make that happen for you.

Read the full post here.

Will My Insurance Cover a Prophylactic Mastectomy If I’ve Had Gene Testing?

Bright pink lily on water

Question: I did the gene testing in February; tested positive for BRCA 2. I want to go full steam ahead and be proactive with prophylactic mastectomy. I am a 31-year-old single mom.

However, in regards to insurance, I am in a pickle. I just switched jobs and will be obtaining new/different insurance with a new company. Will the new insurance I am obtaining most be okay with the gene testing from the prior company and proceed to pay for the mastectomy/reconstruction? I can provide all the results and positive test results as well to them to suffice.

Answer: Most insurances do pay for prophylactic mastectomies when you have a gene conferring increased risk. While I cannot tell you with certainty, the companies that offer the tests are pretty standardized, and there is no logical reason not to accept the results of a prior test.

Read the full post here.

How Much Will Insurance Cover?

Question: Hi, I am 19 years old and 13 months ago I had a benign lump removed from my right breast. Since then, my right breast has increased in size significantly but my left one has not. My left breast is a full size smaller than my right breast and I’m very self-conscious about it.

I want to get a procedure done that will even them out. I’m just having a hard time finding the right doctor to do it, and I’m unsure how much the insurance will cover. If you could help me with the insurance policies and what your surgeons could do for me, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Answer:  Thanks for your question!

It is difficult to sort out exactly what is going on and what would need to be done based on your brief description. While your insurance company may not be obligated to cover any treatment without the diagnosis of breast cancer, that does not automatically mean that they won’t.

Read the full post here.

Earth Day: How to Reduce Harmful, Cancer-Causing Waste from the Environment

Earth Day–a day in which we reflect on how amazing our planet is and how we should care for it–is just a few days away on April 22

With the holiday just around the corner, we thought we’d share a few simple ways to keep toxic pollutants out of our air and keep our planet clean so we don’t destroy the earth and endanger the lives of friends and family.

Pick Up Cigarette Butts

Smoking cigarettes releases harmful carcinogens that pollute our air. And these carcinogens affect more than just the people who are smoking the cigarettes.

In fact, Lung.org states that secondhand smoke causes approximately 7,330 deaths from lung cancer every year. If that’s not bad enough, many smokers feel it’s ok to throw their cigarette butts on the ground.

Not only does this make our streets dirty, but it puts small animals–like birds or chipmunks–in harm’s way as they often mistake this waste for food.

Although we advise against it, it’s your personal choice to smoke. But, that personal choice shouldn’t hurt others via air pollution or waste on the ground.

If you’re going to smoke, be responsible. Don’t smoke in public outdoor areas. And certainly, don’t leave your trash on the ground for small animals, or even children, to pick up and eat.

Recycle Plastics

Many people don’t think twice when burning waste, especially when it comes to plastics.

However, the fumes that are emitted into the air can contain dangerous materials like mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, and dioxins.

Over time, these harmful chemicals bioaccumulate. This bioaccumulation often occurs in our water and food sources.

Eventually, these pollutants can cause cancer, deformities, reproductive failure, and immune diseases in both humans and animals.

Instead of burning your plastics, be sure to sort them out and recycle them.

To help remind you, grab a special plastic recycling bin and place it in your kitchen. If you have kids, get them involved by decorating the bin as a fun Earth Day activity.

Avoid Barrel Burning

A lot of people burn their own trash in burn barrels because it’s easier than hauling it to the local disposal site or to avoid paying for a waste collection service.

We understand the importance of saving time or pinching a few pennies. However, what you might not understand is that burning your own trash is dangerous and not good for the environment.

In fact, the chemicals that are released while burning trash can…

  • Cause heart disease.
  • Aggravate respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema.
  • Cause rashes, nausea, or headaches.

Loose pieces of trash also often fly away and end up as trash that gets buried in the ground.

Last but not least, burn barrels have the potential to cause fires, especially during times of drought. When a forest fire occurs, thousands of animals and plants are destroyed.

In order to protect the earth, we advise that you let garbage disposal specialists take care of your trash for you.

They know how to properly sort trash and safely burn it so that it doesn’t cause major damage to the earth.

What do you do to help keep the earth clean? Let us know in the comments below!

The 5 Best Plants for Improved In-Home Air Quality

Aloe vera

It’s important to know what we’re putting into our bodies, and that includes the air we breathe.

After all, the oxygen we breathe (even inside our own homes!) is often polluted with formaldehyde, sulfur, and carbon monoxide–just to name a few things.

If you’re someone who spends a lot of time inside and are worried about your home’s air quality, keep reading, because today we’re going to walk you through some of the best, easy-to-maintain houseplants that naturally filter the air.

Here’s what we recommend…

Spider Plants

spider plant

Spider plants are one of the easiest indoor houseplants to grow and maintain and can easily be found at your local greenhouse or plant nursery.

The plant is native to southern Africa, but due to its pretty leaves and air-filtering properties, it can be easily found all over the world.

This plant in particular is amazing at removing formaldehyde from the air. In fact, NASA, which tested the abilities of three common houseplants to remove formaldehyde from the air, found that spider plants were able to remove 95 percent of the toxic substance from a sealed chamber in less than 24 hours.

It’s also a superstar at removing a chemical called xylene from the air.

Aside from these particular chemicals, spider plants continuously recycle and clean the air we breathe.

Peace Lily

peace lily on a side table

If you love decorating your home with beautiful, fresh flowers, a peace lily might be right up your alley.

Not only does this plant blossom with a stunning white lily on a yearly basis, the plant itself is a pro at removing ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air in your home.

This plant is able to quickly remove toxins from the air by absorbing them in and filtering and neutralizing toxic gases through its root system.

While this plant originates from Southeast Asia, it can now commonly be found in grocery stores and greenhouses all across the U.S.

Bamboo

bamboo stalks

If you’re someone who doesn’t have a green thumb, a bamboo plant is a great option for your home. As long as you keep it watered, it is almost impossible to kill.

Aside from their hardiness, bamboo plants are also great at filtering benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air.

In fact, bamboo can filter and neutralize many chemicals that come from ovens, carpets, glues, cleaning solutions, and plastics.

The best part…bamboo is very cheap! It won’t cost you an arm and a leg to purchase a small plant for each room in your home! You can find bamboo in most grocery stores, Asian markets, or plant nurseries.

Aloe Vera

aloe vera plant

Most people think of aloe vera as a green goo that’s used to soothe sunburns. Yet, not everybody realizes this plant has a superpower that’s far greater than relieving sunburn.

Aloe vera plants are highly effective at removing formaldehyde–a chemical that becomes very toxic when you’re overexposed to it.

The plant also has a knack for removing a chemical called benzene which is commonly found in paint and home cleaners.

Whether you’re suffering from a burn, are worried about your air quality, or are experiencing digestive issues (yes, people cook with it!), it’s a houseplant you simply can’t go wrong with.

You can find aloe vera plants at farmers markets, greenhouses, and grocery stores.

Boston Fern

boston fern frond

A Boston fern is one of the most classic houseplants that exists. And it’s no surprise as to why many people have this plant in their homes.

First and foremost, Boston ferns are able to filter air and remove harmful toxins like formaldehyde out of the air like every other plant we’ve discussed thus far.

However, what makes this plant extra special is its ability to restore moisture into the air. This plant is nature’s natural humidifier.

If your hair, skin, and lips are dry, try introducing some water back into your air with a Boston fern.

On average, a decent size fern costs less than $20! Now that’s an inexpensive home air purifier and humidifier package deal!

What’s your favorite indoor air purifying plant? Let us know in the comments below!

Delicious and Nutritious Early Spring Veggies to Add to Your Meal Plans

spring vegetables at a farmers market

Spring has finally arrived, the weather is warming up, and we can finally get excited about fresh spring vegetables hitting the market!

That’s right! Although it may seem a bit early for planting gardens and harvesting crops, early April is actually peak season for many delicious veggies.

If you’re tired of microwaving frozen green beans or purchasing canned corn, listen up! We’re about to share with you our top 5 favorite early spring vegetables that you can buy fresh in your local grocery today!

Check them out…

#1 – Artichokes

artichoke

Artichokes are the buds of a plant that comes from the thistle family. They have been given their name due to a small, inedible, fuzzy center of the vegetable that would likely cause you to choke if you attempted to eat it.

The peak growing season across the U.S. is typically in March, and they can be harvested anytime from April through May.

Artichokes contain up to 28% of your recommended daily fiber intake, which make them a great vegetable for keeping your system clean and regular.

They also contain high levels of vitamin C and K.

Recommended Cooking Strategy: We personally recommend roasting artichokes. Simply clean the vegetable, toss in oil, salt and pepper (or your favorite seasoning), and bake until the artichoke is tender and delicious.

#2 – Asparagus

asparagus

Asparagus is a herbaceous, perennial plant and is native to most of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia.

This particular veggie enjoys growing in cooler climates and is ready to harvest in most places, including the U.S., starting in February.

Because April is the peak season for this vegetable, you may notice prices on this pricey veggie begin to drop. If you’re looking to pinch some pennies, we suggest buying the veggie in bulk when it’s cheap, blanching it, and then storing it in your freezer for a later date.

Asparagus is low in calories and sodium. This makes it a great side dish option if you’re watching your waistline.

It’s also a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber and protein.

Recommended Cooking Strategy: We believe that asparagus tastes best when cooked on the grill. Marinate this veggie in a little oil, salt and pepper, and then throw it on your grill for 15 minutes, and it will be ready to eat.

#3 – Beets

beets on a cutting board

Beets are a root vegetable that have been enjoyed in food dishes since the Middle Ages.

Fun fact: During the middle of the 19th century, wine was often colored with beetroot juice.

Like most root vegetables, beets prefer the cool seasons of fall and spring. They are typically ready to harvest in the U.S. by late March or early April.

Besides tasting great, beets are often eaten due to their unique source of betaine–a nutrient that helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress.

They are also high in immune-boosting nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium.

The only downside to eating beets is that they are high in sugar. For this reason, we recommend you eat them in moderation.

Recommended Cooking Strategy: Steaming beets is one of the best ways to preserve the vegetable roots’ nutrients. Simply steam this vegetable in a veggie steamer and follow your veggie steamer’s guide for optimal results.

#4 – Chicory

Chickory growing in rows in a field

Chicory is member of the endive family.

Because chicory is a leafy green vegetable, it grows best during the cool seasons and is often planted so that it can be harvested in the early spring.

This leafy veggie contains a natural source of inulin, a strong prebiotic. For this reason, many people consume chicory in order to ease their digestion problems and heal their guts.

Chicory leaves also contain a large amount of vitamin K–a vitamin that’s essential for healthy bone growth.

Recommended Cooking Strategy: Get the most out of consuming chicory leaf by simply adding it to a salad. Be sure to add in other leafy greens and veggies as this veggie often has a bitter taste when left unbalanced with other veggies.

#5 – Rhubarb

rhubarb stalks

Believe it or not, most rhubarb that we eat in the U.S. is grown in hothouses and is called “hothouse rhubarb.” Every year growers plant hothouse rhubarb in the fall, and it’s ready to harvest and sell to consumers in early spring.

The reason this veggie is grown in abnormal conditions is because, when it’s grown in a hothouse over the winter months, the rhubarb stalk ends up becoming sweeter and less bitter.

In the past, the Chinese would often use rhubarb for medicinal purposes. Today, many people enjoy eating it roasted, in pies, or shredded on top of salads.

Rhubarb is full of antioxidants. In fact, it’s a fantastic source of beta-carotene and other polyphenolic compounds that work to protect the skin and eyes from free radicals.

Aside from antioxidants, it’s also packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy diet.

Recommended Cooking Strategy: If you have a sweet tooth, we advise you to try making a rhubarb pie. Not only will it be sweet and delicious, but your will also be able to feel good about eating a pie that’s made out of veggies!

Click here to check out one of our favorite rhubarb pie recipes!

What is your favorite spring vegetable? Let us know in the comments below!

The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction Gives Answers to Commonly Asked Breast Reconstruction Questions

Having breast reconstruction surgery is a big decision.

It’s only natural that there may be many questions floating around your head about having this procedure. Questions like…

  • How much does the surgery cost?
  • Will my insurance pay for the surgery?
  • How long will it take me to heal and recover?

In order to get these questions answered, we highly encourage you to schedule an appointment with your doctor to get all the details.

In the meantime, however, our expert surgeons give some great insight into some of the most commonly asked questions.

Here’s what they have to say…

How Many Doctor Visits Does Reconstructive Surgery Take for Out of Town Patients?

Poinsetta

Our P.A. Audrey and N.P. Lindsey spend a lot of time on the phone with out-of-town patients (and their local healthcare providers) before we ever see them, making sure that nothing important is overlooked before you make the trip to Charleston.

At some point, our surgeons have a phone consultation with future patients, so that they will have an opportunity to directly ask any questions they wish.

We usually see out of town patients for the first time the day before surgery. On that morning, they get an MR angiogram at Imaging Specialists of Charleston and then bring the disc to our office to help us plan their flap.

We operate the next morning, and our patients usually spend 4 nights in the hospital.  You will typically follow up with your surgeon in our office 2 to 3 days after discharge.

We do our best to minimize the number of follow up visits by remotely managing post-operative care.  Travel is a significant risk factor for blood clots, which is a risk of the surgery (as it is for many other surgeries).

Keep reading…

Why Won’t Insurance Pay for Reconstruction?

Yellow Lily

Original Question: I don’t understand why the insurance company doesn’t pay for reconstruction if you’ve had a lumpectomy. With radiation, your breasts shrink a lot and you are all out of proportion.

Answer: Not getting insurance coverage is not always the case, especially with a lumpectomy.

If the surgery results in a significant defect or radiation negatively impacts the tissue, most times we can submit your case to your insurance company along with photos of the affected area, and they will indeed cover a reconstruction surgery for you.

Keep reading…

Would Reconstruction Be Successful for Me?

two white lilies

Fortunately, a history of radiation (and/or multiple failed attempts at implant reconstruction) does not at all decrease the success rate of subsequent reconstruction using only your own tissue.

We have successfully reconstructed hundreds of women who have had bad experiences in the past.

It is important to realize that natural tissue reconstruction is not just an operation, but a process. The first operation, the microsurgical transfer of the flaps, is by far the largest. It usually takes 6-8 hours, requires a 4-day hospital stay, and a total stay in Charleston of about a week. Recovery takes approximately 6-8 weeks.

After you have healed fully from the first surgery (usually 6 months if you have been radiated), 1-2 additional surgeries are required to achieve optimum results. These are much less involved, ordinarily requiring only one night in the hospital, and you can usually go back home as soon as you are discharged.

While the process can be lengthy, once you are done, you are REALLY done. Most women reconstructed with their own tissue come to regard their reconstructed breasts as their own, and are finally able to put the issue of breast cancer behind them.

Keep reading…

Do you have breast reconstruction questions? Send us your questions here!

3 Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes That Make Cooking Dinner a Breeze

Crock pot Chicken

It seems that no matter who you are, what you do, where you work, etc., you’re always running out of time. And, when you’re strapped for time, this can make simple things– like cooking a meal–a real challenge.

If you’re tired of constantly reheating leftover pizza or cooking easy mac on your stovetop, you’re not alone.

We at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction desire to come home to hot, nutritious, home-cooked meals after a day at work. And, we’ve found a solution that will let us prepare meals ahead of time in order to achieve that goal.

The solution: Using a slow cooker to cook premade dinners while we work.

If you’re someone who works long hours, is always on the run, or who simply doesn’t want to have to think about cooking dinner every night, we hope you’ll give some of our favorite slower cooker recipes a try.

Enjoy…

Honey Dijon Chicken Recipe

Honey Dijon Chicken

The following recipe creates a family-sized portion of tender, juicy honey Dijon chicken.

We recommend that you cook up a side of rice or a vegetable, or grab some dinner rolls to turn this chicken dish into a complete meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. chicken breasts (4-6 depending on size)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 gallon-sized freezer bag

Directions:

  1. Throw all ingredients into a freezer bag.
  2. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  3. When ready to use, thaw bag of ingredients overnight. Then, place in crockpot and cook for 8 hours on low.

Recipe Source: http://www.plainchicken.com/2014/08/freezer-meal-honey-dijon-chicken.html#dxRXwFhdo1ysjF8r.99

Honey Soy Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Honey Soy Pork Tenderloin

This mouthwatering honey soy pork recipe will feed up to 6 people.

If you’re cooking for 3 or less people, we recommend cutting the tenderloin in half and using the marinade ingredients to create two freezer bags’ worth of this meal.  

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup honey
  • 3 tbs. Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 2 cloves minced garlic or ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch ground ginger
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional for heat)
  • 1 (2½ – 3 pound) pork tenderloin

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together and throw everything into a freezer bag.
  2. Freeze meal. You can freeze this meal for up to 3 months.
  3. When you’re ready to use the freezer meal, spray your slow cooker insert with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Set slow cooker for 6 hours on low setting.

Recipe Source: https://addapinch.com/honey-soy-pork-tenderloin-recipe/

Chicken Soup Recipe

Chicken Soup Recipe

You simply can’t go wrong with having hearty, warm, and delicious chicken soup freezer meals on hand for the days you’re chilly or not feeling well.

Grab a loaf of fresh bread on the day you plan to cook your soup, and you’ll have a hearty, wholesome meal that took little to no time and energy to prepare!  

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups uncooked wide egg noodles
  • 3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Throw all ingredients, except egg noodles, into a bag.
  2. Store in freezer for up to 3 months.
  3. When you’re ready to cook, dump ingredients, except egg noodles, into your crock pot and cook for 7 hours on low.  
  4. 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat, add in your egg noodles.

Recipe Source: https://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2014/10/best-crockpot-chicken-noodle-soup.html

What is your favorite slow cooker recipe? Let us know in the comments below!