Winning the Right to Life

How far would you go to get a drug that could save your child’s life? Is the Food and Drug Administration defying a law that directs the agency to pick up the pace on treatments of rare diseases?

Dr. David Mielke, Retired Dean of the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University

Dr. David MielkeHow far would you go to get a drug that could save your child’s life?  Is the Food and Drug Administration defying a law that directs the agency to pick up the pace on treatments of rare diseases?  Hundreds of thousands of patients who want access to promising new medicines cannot get them and are forced to deteriorate or die while the drugs wind their way through the FDA.  In 2012, Congress passed a law to accelerate the approval for life threatening disease drugs dealing with an unmet medical need.  That should have settled the issue—but has it?  Is the FDA following the law?  What is the “Right Thing to do?”  Let’s look at some issues:

1. According to President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, it now takes, on average, 14 years to bring a new drug to market, up from 8 years in the 1960s.  As a result, Americans with terminal illnesses are forced to rely on treatments that were developed 10 to 15 years ago, with cutting edge innovations and cures locked up in the FDA approval process.

2. The 2012 legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Obama, Americans with terminal illnesses are supposed to have access to investigational drugs through the FDAs “compassionate use” program, but that’s not happening.  The FDA claims that it approves nearly all applications for compassionate use, roughly 1,800 last year.  What the agency neglects to mention is that 99% of patients never complete the application process.  Why?  In part, because the application process is so complex it takes an average of 100 hours to complete.

3. According to the Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation, 40% of cancer patients in the US attempt to join a clinical trial to get access to potentially lifesaving treatments, but only 3% succeed.

4. A team of doctors has developed a revolutionary new drug to treat a deadly cancer called osteosarcoma that in studies showed a 30% reduction in the mortality rate at 8 years after diagnosis.  The drug was approved by the European Medicines Agency in 2012 and is currently the standard of care in Europe, Israel and may other countries.  In 2012, it won the prestigious Prix Galien Award for pharmaceutical research and development in the UK.  The problem, it is not available in the US, although it is available in almost every industrialized nation.

5. The lack of access to lifesaving drugs is not limited to cancer.  Idiopathetic pulmonary fibrosis is a fatal lung disease that kills about 40,000 Americans a year.  There were no effective treatments until a US company developed a breakthrough therapy.  The FDA finally approved it, nearly 5 years after an FDA advisory committee had recommended approval.  Meanwhile, the drug was available in Japan 7 years earlier, in Europe 4 years earlier and in Canada 2 years earlier.

6. A recent controversy surrounds an innovative drug for the treatment of a fatal form of Muscular Dystrophy.  The drug produces a protein missing in boys with the disease that destroys every muscle in a decline from walking to wheelchair to death at a very early age.  The drug showed zero safety risks and 4 years of striking results in a clinical trial of 12 boys.  The trial showed evidence that the drug does produce the protein.  FDA reviewers assert that the study is too small and maybe the drug doesn’t work, though medical experts worldwide say otherwise.  As a result, the reviewers recommended that the drug not be approved.  At one in 3,500 male births, the condition is rare, which is one reason the pharmaceutical company couldn’t conduct large trials that give half the patients a placebo, as the FDA prefers.  It is now up to the head of the FDA’s drug evaluation unit to render the agency’s final decision.

Despite the 2012 law, the FDA continues to delay the approval of innovative drugs for the treatment of diseases.  How many more people will suffer and die while the FDA delays and requires additional clinical trials, because they say there is inconclusive scientific data?  Why do other industrialized countries approve new drugs years ahead of the FDA?  Why does the FDA approval process take 10-15 years?  What is the “Right Thing to do?”  It is obvious that the FDA operates without consideration of the law and with a questionable time frame.  If the FDA does not approve the MS drug, it is time for Congress and perhaps, even the President to step in to reorganize the FDA.  Meanwhile, the FDA is working on regulations to define “healthy” food labeling.  Is that the type of priority we want to see from our federal bureaucracy?  Would you go to another country to receive lifesaving treatment while the FDA contemplates?

Saving for Retirement

The introduction of 401(k) plans, IRAs and similar tax savings plans was supposed to ensure that everyone would have adequate retirement resources. In theory, retirees would rely less upon Social Security and more upon their own savings.

Dr. David Mielke, Retired Dean of the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University

Dr. David MielkeThe introduction of 401(k) plans, IRAs and similar tax savings plans was supposed to ensure that everyone would have adequate retirement resources. In theory, retirees would rely less upon Social Security and more upon their own savings. Many American companies began switching from traditional pensions to self-directed 401(k) like plans in the 1980s and 1990s with workers themselves to be responsible for saving enough for a comfortable retirement. What have been the results of these changes after 30 years? Is the do it yourself pension system working? What has been the biggest impact on the savings for retirement? Given the results after 30 years, should we still consider reforming Social Security? What is the “Right Thing to do?” Let’s look at some issues:
1. The percentage of families covered by some sort of pension, either defined benefit or defined contribution, has declined since 1989. Then, about 58% of working age Americans had some kind of retirement plan. As of 2013, coverage had dropped to 53%. Just 21% of families had a traditional defined benefit pension in 2013, down from 41% in 1989.
2. 401(k) and IRA plans provide income tax breaks. That is, any money contributed to one of these plans is tax free until withdrawn at retirement. For example, if a person saves $5,000 in their retirement plan, their taxable income is reduced by that $5,000. Pre-tax income invested, rather than after-tax provides a larger sum to accumulate earnings toward retirement.
3. According to an analysis of the Federal Reserve’s 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances by the Economic Policy Institute, the median working age couple has saved only $5,000 for their retirement. 70% of couples have less than $50,000 saved.
4. Even those on the cusp of retirement, the median couple in their late 50s or 60s, has saved only $17,000 in a retirement savings account, such as a defined contribution 401(k), IRA, Keogh or similar savings account. The report shows that about 43% of working age families have no retirement savings at all. Among those 5 to 10 years away from retirement, 39% have no retirement savings of their own.
5. Social Security remains the largest source of post-retirement income for all but the wealthiest. For those over 65 in 2014, Social Security provided an average of $12,232 per year, about 35% of their income, on average. Earnings from work are the second largest source of income for the over 65 group, with an average of $10,119. Income from assets, such as stocks and bonds, provided an average $4,019 and defined benefit pensions provided about $3,000.
6. Surprisingly, 410(k)s and IRAs provided less than $1,000. Even the top 20% of earners were only receiving $3,000 a year from their 401(k).
7. It turns out that giving a tax break to middle class Americans doesn’t do much increase their retirement savings. Why not? Because their basic living expenses consume most of what they earn each month, so they have little left over. Account balances suffered during the Great Recession because the stock market crashed and many people who lost their jobs raided their 401(k)s to pay the rent and buy groceries.
8. For many working Americans, the tax break for saving for retirement just doesn’t add up to enough money to get them to forgo their current consumption. If you are in the 10% or 15% bracket like most middle class Americans, you don’t save much on your taxes by putting money in a 401(k) or IRA. A large portion of working class families don’t owe any income taxes anyway because they don’t earn enough. Only 8% of the bottom 20% of earners have retirement savings, compared with 88% of those in the top 20%.
Are the tax breaks for retirement savings working for the middle class? Is the slow growth of the American economy and wages since the recession adding to the problems causing low savings? Since the tax breaks don’t seem to be working as planned, should other retirement strategies be developed? Will possible Social Security reforms exasperate the problem? What is the “Right Thing to do?” As we discussed a couple weeks ago, Congress should consider developing incentives for people to work longer. For example, dropping the Social Security taxes for the employee and employer at age 62. The workers get an immediate raise and the employers an incentive to keep older workers. Because people are living longer, the expectation of working longer will have to play a role in providing an eventual comfortable retirement.

Race to Regulate Advice

New rules aimed at stockbrokers have been proposed by the Labor Department that will have an enormous impact on the way Americans save for retirement.

Dr. David Mielke, Retired Dean of the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University

Dr. David MielkeNew rules aimed at stockbrokers have been proposed by the Labor Department that will have an enormous impact on the way Americans save for retirement.  The regulations will require brokers getting paid to provide investment guidance on a retirement account to act solely in the best interest of the investor.  Until now, only registered investment advisers, not most stockbrokers and insurance agents, have to act as fiduciaries to serve the best interests of the investor.  Do we need additional regulations to protect investor retirement accounts?  Why are the new rules coming from the Labor Department when the Securities Exchange Commission has the responsibility to protect investors?  Why do the new rules only apply to retirement accounts and not to all of your investments?  What is the “Right Thing to do?”  Let’s look at some issues:

1. Currently, brokers’ recommendations only have to be suitable, a less rigorous standard that critics say has encouraged some advisers to charge excessive fees, favor investments that offer hidden commissions and recommend securities that can be difficult for investors to sell.

2. The shift, more than 6 years in the making, could cut the total costs of investing by billions of dollars annually.  But it also will put the federal government deeper into the business of deciding what Americans should do with their own money.

3. Investors who now pay commissions when they buy or sell stocks and bonds will likely be moved into accounts where brokers collect up to 1% of their assets every year— a change that will compensate brokers whether or not you buy or sell stocks.  Anyone who has a buy and hold strategy will be paying a fee even though there have been no transactions during the year.

4. A range of popular but controversial offerings such as variable annuities, commodity pools and some real estate investment trusts will likely be de-emphasized for retirement accounts.  In their place, investors will be increasingly offered low cost index funds that passively mimic market returns.  Investors who feel they were wronged will find it easier to sue for breach of contract.

5. The flip side of the changes is that money management industry faces its most sweeping overhaul in a generation.  Small firms could be pressured by compliance costs, while some large financial firms could be better off.  Investors with relatively low dollar retirement accounts are likely to receive far less advice.  We have already seen financial service companies move to online advice with little or no human interaction.

6. A large amount of money will be affected.  Total assets in IRAs stood at $7.3 trillion at the end of 2015, an amount about equal to the combined GDP of Germany and Japan.  An additional $6.7 trillion sits in 401(k)s and similar employer sponsored retirement plans, according to the Investment Company Institute.

7. The new rules will affect 21 million retirement accounts and 2,800 financial firms.  Financial institutions will have to produce about 86 million disclosures and notices in the first year at an estimated cost of $69 million, according to the Labor Department.  The securities industry estimates the first year cost of compliance could be up to $4.7 billion and $1.1 billion each year thereafter.

8. 60% of US households have retirement plans through work or IRAs.  Savers in a 401(k) typically don’t pay commissions or fees to a financial adviser.  Under the new rules that is likely to change.  However, the Labor Department has estimated the rule changes will save investors $4 billion a year.

Many small investors, say $50,000 or less may end up paying higher annual fees for advice over time than the commissions they traditionally incurred only when buying or selling an asset.  It is likely that investment advisers will push to manage accounts for a flat annual fee, potentially raising investor costs.  Do we need more government regulation?  Why are the regulations coming from the Labor Department rather than the SEC which has the investment and market expertise to best regulate the investment industry?  Is there evidence of widespread abuse in the financial markets?  Will the small retirement investors be better off under the proposed regulations?  If investment advisers are now to act in the best interests of the investor for their retirement accounts—why not all investor accounts?  Will the new rules impact company 401(k)s?  What is the “Right Thing to do?”  Normally, I am skeptical of more government regulation.  However, requiring investment advice in the best interests of the investor is a good change—but why only for retirement accounts?  There is a push to get the new regulations in place before President Obama leaves office.  The major changes that will result from these moves should be studied to make sure overall small investors are not disadvantaged—and that should be the responsibility of the SEC, not the Labor Department.

Women’s Health Month: Top Foods for Women

A balanced diet, abundant in plant foods, is fundamental to feeling vibrant and staying well. For women, however, there are certain foods that are especially beneficial.

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.Meijer.com/ahealthieryou

Tina Miller 2011A balanced diet, abundant in plant foods, is fundamental to feeling vibrant and staying well. For women, however, there are certain foods that are especially beneficial.  During May celebrate Women’s Health Month by serving up delicious super-foods found in our Grilled Chicken and Berry Salad and Blueberry-Avocado muffins.

Foods that Promote Women’s Health:

Greek Yogurt:  One 6 oz. serving boosts bone health with more than 20% of your daily calcium need and 15% for vitamin D.   Greek yogurt is satisfying with nearly as much protein as three eggs and is a perfect food for maintaining a healthy weight.  When made without added sugars, a 6 oz. serving has about 90 calories with only 7g carbohydrate (from naturally occurring lactose-milk sugar).

Like traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt is an excellent source of beneficial probiotic bacteria that help support immune health and digestive regularity.  Probiotics can also help balance body chemistry protecting against yeast and other infections.

How much:  Eat one low-fat, plain or light Greek yogurt every day.  Be aware of added sugar in flavored yogurts (check nutrition labels); use fruit or low calorie sweeteners, such as stevia, to flavor plain yogurt.

Almonds: Just a handful a few times a week can help women correct imbalances in many nutrients women don’t get enough of.  Almonds are rich in nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin E, iron, calcium, fiber, and riboflavin.

The fat in almonds is mostly unsaturated and can help promote heart health and reduce bad cholesterol levels.  Some studies, including one published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggest that almonds can prolong life and reduce risk for death from cancer and heart disease.

A skinny nut?   Research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that study participants who ate 1.5 ounces of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds every day experienced less hunger, greater vitamin E and “good” fat intake with NO increase in body weight.

My personal favorite:  Meijer Dark Chocolate Cocoa Roast Flavored Almonds® taste like a decadent sweet treat but have only 1g sugar per serving!  A nutritious way to curb your sweet tooth!

Spinach and Leafy Green Vegetables:  Nature’s own multi-vitamin and mineral supplement!  Leafy greens are packed with nutrients, for example greens like spinach are a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, as well as selenium, niacin, zinc, phosphorus, copper, folic acid, potassium, calcium, manganese,  and iron.  Folate (Folic acid) is especially important for women of child-bearing age, since folate can help prevent neural tube birth defects.

Multiple studies have suggested that a high intake of dark-leafy vegetables, such as spinach or cabbage may significantly lower a person’s risk of developing diabetes type 2.   Greens are diet friendly providing very few calories, about 25 calories per 1 cup serving.

Blueberries:   Fiber rich blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidant substances that promote healthy brains, waistlines and hearts.  Research studies from Rutgers University suggest that daily consumption of blueberries (about 1 cup) promotes neurogenesis (formation of new brain cells).  Studies also suggest that elderly people who eat blueberries on a regular basis have less cognitive decline, compared to other people of their age who do not.

Texas Woman’s University found that blueberries help in curbing obesity. Polyphenol substances in blueberries have been shown to increase the breakdown of fat cells while reducing the development of new fat cells.

Blueberries are also good for your heart!  Regular blueberry consumption can reduce the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) by 10%, a common heart disease risk factor in post-menopausal women.

Apples:   Antioxidants found in apples help you look younger by fighting free radicals-substances that can damage cells and cause undesirable changes that are involved in the aging process.

Research from The Florida State University suggests that older women who ate apples daily experienced a drop in cholesterol.  Apples help to bad cholesterol (LDL) by 23% and promoted a 4% increase in good cholesterol (HDL) after just six months.

Apples naturally clean your teeth and freshens your breath, reducing plaque build-up and development of dental carries.  Eating apples may also reduce risk for gingivitis, bacteria in the mouth that can migrate through the body and promote heart disease.

According to research published in the journal Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association soluble fiber (pectin) found in the white edible portions of apples and pears may help reduce the risk of stroke by as much a 52%.

Enjoy an apple a day, or at least a few times each week, to keep the doctor away!

Green Tea / Tea:  The subject of multiple research studies, green tea may fight cancer and heart disease, and help prevent dementia, diabetes, and stroke.   EGCG tea may also help promote weight loss through regulation of appetite hormones and metabolism, helping you to feel more satisfied and possibly decreasing storage of excess fat.  Weight loss studies suggest that green tea may be beneficial, but the research is far from conclusive.

Drinking green tea will help to keep you hydrated, fighting fatigue while providing your heart with a hearty dose of antioxidants.  The antioxidants in green, black, and oolong teas can help block the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and improve artery function. According to research conducted in China (published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine) daily tea drinkers had a 46%-65% reduction in hypertension risk compared to non-drinkers of tea.

Avocado:  Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, E, K, folate, and B6. One-fifth of a medium-large avocado has 50 calories, 4 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and 2 grams fiber.

The heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in avocados can actually help you lose belly fat, a risk factor for heart disease and even some fertility problems. Avocados also contain plant sterols that lower cholesterol levels.

How much you need: Limit yourself to one serving per day (about 1/4 of an avocado).  Enjoy them on top of salads, mashed and used as sandwich spread, sliced on top of burgers, in salsas to top grilled fish or poultry, or as a substitute for saturated fats and other oils in baked goods.

Bonus:  Mashed avocado also makes a wonderful face mask!  Antioxidants protect skin and the healthy fats moisturize, promoting a youthful glow!

Healthy and Delicious Recipes:

Avocado-Blueberry Muffins:

Serves:  12

Ingredients

2cups True Goodness® by Meijer white whole wheat flour

2 tsp. Meijer baking powder

1/2 tsp. Meijer baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 ripe, Fresh California Avocado, seeded and peeled

3/4 cup Meijer granulated sugar

1 True Goodness® by Meijer Organic egg

1 tsp. McCormick® vanilla extract

1 cup Meijer plain yogurt

6oz. (1 ¼ cup) fresh blueberries

 

Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup Meijer white whole wheat flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 Tbsp. True Goodness by Meijer Butter, softened

1tsp. McCormick® ground cinnamon

 

Directions:

Streusel Topping: 1.Whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the butter, and mix in using your fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Muffins:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat avocado until almost smooth. Add sugar and beat until well blended. Add the egg, beating until completely combined.  Add the vanilla and the yogurt and mix well.
  4. Put half of the flour mixture into the batter and mix until just combined. Stir in the remaining flour and mix until just blended. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  5. Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop, divide the batter among the 12 cups. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter in the 12 cups, dividing evenly.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a wooden tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes before removing.

Enjoy with a hot cup of green tea!

Nutrition information per serving:  Calories 192; Total Fat 6 g (Sat 2.5g, Trans 0 g, Poly 0 g, Mono 2.5 g); Cholesterol 25 mg; Sodium 250 mg; Carbohydrates 31g; Fiber 2.5g; Sugars 17g; Protein 4g.

Grilled Chicken and Berry Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3/4 to 1 pound skinless, boneless True Goodness® by Meijer chicken breast halves or tenderloins

1 tsp. McCormick® Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning

1/3 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2-3 Tbsp. Meijer granulated sugar

1/2 cup Meijer vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. Water

1/2 cup Vidalia or sweet white onion, small diced

1 tsp. McCormick® ground mustard

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. McCormick® white or black pepper

3 cups Dole® hearts of Romaine

3 cups Earthbound Farm® baby spinach

1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Optional:  4 oz. crumbled goat cheese, feta cheese or gorgonzola cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill for high heat. Lightly oil the grill grate.
  2. Season both sides of chicken with McCormick® Montreal chicken seasoning and grill 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear (internal temperature reads 165⁰F with meat thermometer). Remove from heat, set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, place almonds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until fragrant, stirring frequently, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.
  4. In a blender, combine the red wine vinegar, water, sugar, vegetable oil, onion, mustard, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth.
  5. Combine Romaine lettuce and spinach and arrange on serving plates.
  6. Slice chicken into strips and place on top of lettuce. Top with strawberries, blueberries and toasted almonds. Drizzle with the dressing to serve. If desired, top with 1-2 tbsp. cheese.

Nutrition Information (per serving):  Calories 442, Fat 28g, Cholesterol 76 mg, Sodium 487 mg, Carbohydrate 19g, Sugar 13g, Fiber 4g, Protein 28g.

Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way

Last Tuesday was Equal Pay Day. Each April activists hold demonstrations and call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. The bill was initially proposed in 1997 and has not been passed and has little likelihood that it will pass anytime soon.

Dr. David Mielke, Retired Dean of the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University

Dr. David MielkeLast Tuesday was Equal Pay Day.  Each April activists hold demonstrations and call on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act.  The bill was initially proposed in 1997 and has not been passed and has little likelihood that it will pass anytime soon.  The premise of the legislation is that women working full time earn 79% of men on average according to federal wage data.  President Obama is doing an end run around Congress and is instead using the EEOC to give the activists what they want—the usual approach, institute additional regulations and reporting requirements for companies.  Is the 79% of pay a reliable percentage?  Are there other factors to consider?  What are the new regulations?  Should the President bypass Congress to impose new regulations?  What is the “Right Thing to do?”  Let’s look at some issues:

1. Research shows that the pay gap shrinks once factors like choice of job, experience and other variables are factored in.  A study byGlassdoor, a jobs website, found that when taking into account workers’ age, education, years of experience, occupation, industry, company and job tile, the gender wage gap shrank to 5.4%.  The research was based on more than 500,000 salary reports.

2. Research by Cornell University economics professors has found the main reason for women lagging wages is that women are more heavily concentrated in lower paying jobs and industries.  They estimate women may earn about 8% less on average.

3. The EEOC is manipulating the relatively unknown Paperwork Reduction Act to do just the opposite of what the name of the bill implies.  Currently, employers are required annually to complete a form, called EEO-1 with 140 data points.  The commission plan is to change the form, beginning next year, to encompass 3,360 data points.  Comments on the new form were due April 1st and the EEOC is expected to issue its final opinion this summer, pending approval from the Office of Management and Budget.

4. Companies with more than 100 or more workers would be required to report on employees with 14 different gender/race/ethnicity groups, within 12 pay bands and 10 occupational categories.  The companies will also have to report the number of hours worked per employee, even for salaried staff, whose hours now are not normally tracked.

5. Companies with multiple locations will have to complete such forms for each branch with more than 50 employees, meaning an establishment with 10 offices could find itself juggling 33,600 data points.

6. Companies with between 50 and 99 workers would continue to use the current form and those with fewer than 50 would be exempt.

7. The EEOC assumes 66,886 firms will fill the new requirements, when the number of firms with 100 or more workers was 101,642 in 2012.  These firms had 1.6 million locations, many of which would have to fill out additional forms.

8. The EEOC estimates that completing the new form would take each company 8 hours the first year and 6.6 hours thereafter.  On that basis the commission estimates that the annual cost burden nationally would be $10 million.  The Chamber of Commerce calculates the cost of compliance would be at least $693 million annually.

9. Experts say the occupational categories are too wide to suggest or prove discrimination.  One category, professionals, includes artists, computer programmers, designers, dietitians, editors, engineers, lawyers, librarians, scientists, nurses, physicians, surgeons and teachers.

10. The commission could use data from the form to justify random checks on firms and accuse them of underpaying, just as the IRS does random audits.  In the EEOC hearings on March 16, proponents of the updated form emphasize how it will help investigators find new targets.  Certainly welcomed by attorneys.

Do we actually have a serious problem with pay discrimination?  Is the supposed pay gap 21% or is it closer to 5.4% to 8%?  On what basis is the EEOC using a Paperwork Reduction Act to actually increase the paperwork and cost to companies- at a much higher cost than the commission estimates?  How can we rely on the EEOC cost estimate when they don’t even have the number of companies affected correct? What about a category for reporting that includes nurses as well as physicians and surgeons or dietitians and computer programmers?  Or how about artists compared to attorneys? What about librarians and scientists?  How comparable are those jobs?  Is this another ill conceived regulation that will provide millions of data points that no one in the EEOC will be able to interpret?  But provide more ammunition for lawsuits?  What is the “Right Thing to do?” One can only hope that the Office of Management and Budget will refuse to approve the new form.  If not, Congress will have one more item on their agenda to try to block another onerous, unnecessary regulation.  Certainly, if pay discrimination exists, even at 5%, it should be corrected, but by using data that is sound.  However, with President Obama, when there is a will, there is a way.

Stress Awareness Month

What Are the Warning Signs of Stress? Chronic, ongoing stress can wear down the body’s natural defenses, leading to symptoms including…

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.Meijer.com/ahealthieryou

Tina Miller 2011What Are the Warning Signs of Stress? Chronic, ongoing stress can wear down the body’s natural defenses, leading to symptoms including:
• Dizziness or a general feeling of “being out of it”
• Headaches, generalized aches and pain, tension especially in face, neck and shoulders
• Grinding teeth, clenched jaw
• GI symptoms such as Indigestion, acid reflux, diarrhea
• Changes in appetite (increased or decreased), weight loss or gain
• Difficulty sleeping, tiredness, exhaustion
• Increased heart rate, chronic inflammation, trembling or shaking, sighing, and anxiety
• Irritability, impatience, lack of focus/concentrations, or forgetfulness
Impact of Chronic Stress
Not only can unchecked stress can lead to anxiety and panic attacks, on-going stress can decrease immunity, and contribute to chronic disease such as increased risk for high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Chronically elevated stress hormones can overwork glands, such as with adrenal fatigue and contribute to elevated blood sugar. Cortisol is a hormone released in response to stress that can cause weight gain, especially “belly fat”, in cases of on-going stress. (See diagram below.)
Be mindful of what and how much you are eating during times of stress and a balanced healthy diet, that limits stimulant foods and beverages such as caffeine (1 -2 servings /day), can go a long way in managing stress. “Mindful eating encourages you to eat slower and more thoughtfully without restricting your diet. Snacking on pistachios in the midst of a stressful day will ultimately slow you down—allowing you to savor each bite and appreciate the little moments!” (Wonderful Pistachios).
Managing Stress
How do you protect yourself from the ill-effects of stress? Use one or more of the following activities every day to help reduce and manage your stress.
• Mind over Body:
o Meditation, Mini-Meditation: Frequent meditation and even daily “mini” meditations (3 to 5 minutes) to promote relaxation, focus attention and decrease stress.
 Sit quietly with your eyes closed.
 Breath normal; be aware of your breath as you inhale and exhale
 Repeat a positive mantra, for example:
• “I am at peace” with each inhale and
• “I am calm” with each exhale
o Set a timer (with a soothing-not jarring-alarm) to signal the end of your meditation
• Take a Nature Break: Get out for a short walk in the park. Spending as little as 5 minutes a day in nature, including urban green spaces, can help reduce stress-hormones like cortisol.
• Calming Aromas:
o Aromatherapy positively impacts mood and stress. Use calming or relaxing essential oil blends, or create your own mix using single essential oils available at Meijer.
 Moderate lasting, middle note aromas include Lavender and Chamomile while Frankincense is a bolder, longer lasting base note. Use a mix of essential oils create a lasting effect (a little oil goes a long way!).
 As a room spray: Place 1 1/2 ounces water in a small (deep tinted) spray bottle (check the travel size section in Health and Beauty aisles at Meijer). Add 12-14 drops Lavender essential oil and 5-7 drops Frankincense Essential oil. Mix well and spray as needed. Keep out of direct sunlight.
 Use a diffuser to easily use essential oils like lavender or chamomile.
 Mix a few drops of essential oil with 1 oz. of a carrier oil (such as jojoba or vegetable oil) and apply to skin. It is best to not use undiluted essential oils on skin.
• Herbal Teas
o Chamomile, Ginseng, Hawthorne, Lavender, Passionflower and Skullcap have calming effects and offer additional health benefits without caffeine. Passionflower may aide in cardiovascular health and skullcap can help relieve headaches and PMS. Take a few minutes to combat stress with a relaxing cup of warm herbal tea.
Stress-Busting Smoothie
Healthy fats, such as those found in flaxseed and nuts and protective antioxidants such as those found in berries are just a couple of the many healthy foods that can help fend off stress. Enjoy this smoothie for a snack or breakfast to nourish your mind, body and soul!
Almond Berry Smoothie
Serves 1
Ingredients:
1 small to medium banana, preferably frozen, sliced
3/4 cup fresh or frozen (do not thaw) blueberries (add 1 cup ice if using fresh berries)
2/3 cup almond milk (or other milk)
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 to 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed meal
1 teaspoon True Goodness® by Meijer Organic Honey
A dash each ground cinnamon and Meijer pure vanilla extract
Directions:
Place all of the ingredients in a blender in the order listed and blend until smooth. Add a few ice cubes and blend for a thicker smoothie.
Nutrition Information (per serving): 347 calories, 11g Fat, 1.5g Saturated Fat, 13 mg Cholesterol, 80 mg Sodium, 46g Carbohydrate, 8g fiber, 14g protein.

I Can’t Wait to Retire

Should the government consider tax and policy innovations to keep people working longer?

Dr. David Mielke, Retired Dean of the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University

Dr. David MielkeThe Social Security Trust Fund is projected to expire in 2033 putting pressure on a system designed over 75 years ago.  At the same time the average American is retiring at an earlier age, at 64 for men and 62 for women.  With life expectancy rising by one to three months every year, people can now spend 40% of their adult life in retirement.  But is leaving the workforce early a luxury that many people can no longer afford?  Will the early retirements and longer life expectancy cause additional strains on the Social Security Trust Fund?  Some suggest changes to the system to limit benefits and raise the age minimums to apply for benefits and many propose that also be done for Medicare.  Rather, should the government consider tax and policy innovations to keep people working longer?  What is the “Right Thing to do?”  Let’s look at some issues:
1. An estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers will be turning 65 every day for the next 9 years, stretching the Social Security system thin because fewer younger workers are paying into the system.
2. Retirement was a 20th century invention.  If you go back to 1900, most men worked until they couldn’t work anymore and died a few years later.  Now we have seen trends of corporate buyouts to have people retire as early as 55 and some union contracts providing the opportunity to retire at that same age.  Some experts say that older workers face other powerful incentives to retire sooner rather than later, such as age discrimination in the workplace and certain provisions in the tax code and rules for Social Security and Medicare.
3. In general, financial advisors say it’s best to delay when you start taking Social Security benefits because they increase according to age.  The average national monthly benefit for Americans who start taking Social Security when first eligible at 62, is about $1,200.  At 66, the benefits jump to $1,600 and at age 70 it’s nearly $2,200.
4. Some propose tax and policy innovations aimed to keep people working longer, by reducing the cost to employers of keeping people working longer and increasing the financial rewards for workers who stay on the job.  Currently, employers pay 6.2 cents of every dollar a worker earns up to $118,500 into the Social Security fund and employees kick in another 6.2 cents.  But, due to the way Social Security benefits are calculated, employees 62 and older who continue to work, receive only 2.5 cents of lifetime benefits on average for every dollar of social security payroll tax they pay— a disincentive to work.  One proposal is to scrap the Social Security payroll tax for those 62 and older, giving them an immediate raise and also reducing the cost for employers by 6.2%.  The cost would at least partially be offset by increased income taxes paid by the employees and employers.
5. Another incentive for employers to keep older workers is to transfer the health insurance costs to Medicare at age 65.  While Medicare costs would rise about 5%, the government would recoup at least some of that cost by collecting more years of income taxes on older workers wages and potentially higher corporate profits for the company cost savings.
6. The Social Security earnings test reduces benefits for those who haven’t reached full retirement age and earn more than $15,720.  Between age 62 and 66, people lose $1 of benefits for every $2 they earn over the threshold of $15,720.  As a result, research suggests, people are working only as much as they can without triggering a benefit reduction.  Eliminating the earnings test would potentially keep people working longer.
7. Financial experts claim that too many people start collecting social security benefits the first year they become eligible, at 62, 42% of men and 48% of women according to a 2013 study by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research.  As a result, they forego a larger monthly payout they would receive if they waited.  Some advocate an incentive for people to wait until age 67.  For instance, someone entitled to $1,500 a month at age 62 who delayed for 5 years and continued to work, would still receive $1,500 a month at age 67, plus an immediate bonus payment of $108,589, based on the additional benefits that person would have received over an average lifespan for waiting 5 years to claim.
We have heard the call for social security reforms for a long time with the usual approach such as suggesting cutting benefits for higher income people, extending the eligibility year for retirement and increasing the payroll taxes to help build the Social Security Trust Fund.  There is strong resistance to any reforms and we actually have some presidential candidates advocating higher social security benefits.  But with the increasing number of Baby Boomer retirees and the trend to retire early, where will the resources come from to make the payments after 2033—if the trust fund actually makes it that long?  Should a more innovative approach and incentives be pursued to extend the working lives of Americans and at the same time give incentives to companies to employ people longer?  Are the suggested incentives more politically palatable?  What is the “Right Thing to do?” It is time to consider alternatives to reforming social security that have focused on reducing benefits and increasing age eligibility.  Those approaches have not worked in the past and are unlikely to pass in the future.  Instead incentives should be researched to incentivize working longer.  This is especially relevant since people are living longer and financial advisors have promoted with little success, that people defer social security to a later age.  Maybe, I can’t wait to retire will start at age 67 rather than age 62?

Does It Really Cost More to Eat Healthy?

As a dietitian, one of the biggest complaints–or excuses–that I hear from people is that “it just costs too much to eat healthy”. Or, does it?

Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.Meijer.com/aheathieryou

 

Tina Miller 2011As a dietitian, one of the biggest complaints–or excuses–that I hear from people is that “it just costs too much to eat healthy”.   Or, does it?  The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) analyzed fruit and vegetable prices to determine the average cost of meeting the recommended intake according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 (5 cups/day based on a 2000 Calorie diet). Using a combination of fresh, frozen, canned, dried and juice prices, the ERS estimated that the cost to satisfy Federal fruit and vegetable recommendations was $2.10 to $2.60* per day; so, the good news is that it can be done!

ERS based costs by pound and as an edible cup-equivalent (or for juices, a pint and an edible cup-equivalent) of 156 commonly consumed fresh and processed fruits and vegetables using average prices at retail stores.  The ERS concluded that even a family of four living on a “thrifty food plan” can afford a variety of fruit and vegetables to meet recommended intake (http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/).

Cost Comparison per day:

5 cups fruit and vegetables per day (a variety of fresh, frozen,

canned, dried, and 100% juice):                                                         $2.10 – $2.60

 

Starbucks Caffe Latte (Grande – Medium):                                       $3.65

McDonald’s Medium soft drink ($1.29) and Medium fries ($1.79)   $3.08

Snack size bag of chips ($1.29 / 2 oz. bag) and Sports drink ($1.49) $2.78

The Challenge

According to the CDC less than 10% of Americans eat the recommended 4 ½ to 5 cups of fruit and vegetables per day (1 ½ – 2 cups fruit and 2 ½ -3 cups vegetables per day).  In fact, the average fruit and vegetable intake per day is less than 2 cups (about 1.7 per day).

We know that they’re good for us.  We know they help fight disease such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, seasonal illness (colds and flu), obesity and so much more.  So, why aren’t we eating more?  My challenge to you is to add just one more cup of fruit and/or vegetables to your diet every day.  If you need to drop a few pounds, try replacing a morning pastry with a banana.  At lunch, crunch on carrots and sugar snap peas instead of chips (ok, if you must have chips – eat half of your usual amount plus add the veggies!)  For dinner, enjoy in-season vegetables, such as asparagus, and fruit for dessert.

 

*Source:  USDA Economic Research Service, Economic Brief #27, February 2016.  The Cost of Satisfying Fruit and Vegetable Recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines (2015-2020).  Download the full brief at http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/eb-economic-brief/eb27.aspx

 

Easy, Affordable and Healthy Recipes

Zucchini and Corn Salad

Serve 8

Ingredients:

3 cups corn (thaw if frozen)

3 small to medium zucchini, diced into 1” pieces

1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup diced red or sweet white onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Dressing:

3 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Tbsp. True Goodness® by Meijer extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 tsp. Salt

Black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl gently toss together corn, zucchini, tomatoes, basil and onion.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, honey, and lime juice.
  3. Add dressing to the salad and toss to combine.
  4. Cover refrigerate for at least one hour to chill.
  5. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, gently toss and serve. (If the salad is stored in the refrigerator overnight, it may gather additional liquid from the vegetables. Drain excess liquid before serving.).

Nutritional Information per serving: Calories 125, Fat 4g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 157 mg, Carbohydrate 19g, Fiber 2.5g, Protein 3g.

Moo Shu Turkey Wraps

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 (16 oz.) pkg. Jennie-O Lean Ground Turkey

8 oz. True Goodness® by Meijer Organic  mini bella mushrooms, sliced

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. minced gingerroot

1 red or yellow bell pepper, cut into short, thin strips

2 cups coleslaw mix

½ cup hoisin sauce

1/3 cup plum sauce or sweet and sour sauce

6 whole wheat flour tortillas, warmed

Directions:

  1. Cook ground turkey as specified on the package. Always cook to well-done, 165°F as measured by an instant read thermometer.
  2. Add mushrooms, garlic and gingerroot; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add coleslaw mix and hoisin sauce; stir-fry 3 minutes.
  3. Spread plum sauce evenly over each warm tortilla; top with turkey mixture. Fold bottom of tortilla up over filling and fold sides in and roll up.

Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories: 330, Fat: 9g, Carbohydrate: 42g, Fiber: 9g. Protein: 19g

Source: Adapted from Jennie-O

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Failing Infrastructure

The Flint lead crisis has brought attention to the infrastructure problems that exist in Michigan. But just how serious are the problems with our water and sewer systems that lie below our streets?

Dr. David Mielke, Retired Dean of the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University

Dr. David MielkeThe Flint lead crisis has brought attention to the infrastructure problems that exist in Michigan.  But just how serious are the problems with our water and sewer systems that lie below our streets?  We know the roads are in bad shape, but what lies below the roads?  Much of the state’s water and sewer infrastructure has been neglected for years, threatening public health and the environment.  Some of the pipes meant to deliver water for drinking and washing and to carry away the waste have been in the ground for more than a century.  How shaky is Michigan’s overall water infrastructure?  What have the state and municipalities done to address the situation and what should they be doing?  What is the “Right Thing to do?”  Let’s look at some issues:

1. In 2013 and 2014, nearly 25 billion gallons of partially treated and untreated storm and sanitary sewage flowed into Michigan’s waterways.  How much is that?  One billion gallons is enough to fill more than 1,500 Olympic sized swimming pools.  Part of the problem is that many of the municipal systems have combined sanitary and storm sewer systems, which are prone to overflow during heavy rain.

2. In the most recent report card, released in 2009, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Michigan a D+ for its storm water sewers and a C for those that carry waste water.  Even worse, the report card gave the state’s drinking water system a D.

3. A significant portion of the state’s primary water distribution system is nearing 100 years old.  Much of the delivery system, including piping, valves and hydrants, are reaching the end of their anticipating design life and routine replacement has been postponed.

4. The ASCE report estimated that Michigan’s municipalities would need to spend $13.8 billion to maintain and upgrade their water systems over the next 20 years.  The state ranks 27th in per capita spending for water improvement projects.

5. The report estimated that it would cost another $3.7 billion over the next 20 years to bring the state’s many wastewater systems up to standard.

6. Another part of the ASCE’s report has a warning that lead in the ancient pipes throughout the state could leach into the drinking water.  That is what has happened in Flint when the city began drawing its water from the Flint River. The American Water Works Association estimates there are 6.1 million lead service lines nationwide.  Most are in older homes, where lead was the material of choice for water service lines from the early 20th century into the 1950s.

7. Nationwide, the US Geological Society estimates that water systems lose 1.7 trillion gallons of water a year to leaks, with 16% of water never reaching the tap.

8. While the cost of replacing outdated water and sewer lines is in the billions of dollars, doing nothing also comes with a high price. ASCE estimated that, without increased investment in the system, waterborne illnesses would cost American households $413 million between 2013 and 2020 and that US businesses would lose $734 billion in sales.

Has the Flint water crisis brought enough attention to the aging water infrastructure that some action will be taken beyond Flint?  Will our state and municipalities take the Flint situation seriously and upgrade and replace their systems?  Where is the money to update Michigan’s water and sewer infrastructure going to come from?  What is the “Right Thing to do?”  It is time for our state legislature to take all of our infrastructure issues seriously and to either reprioritize existing revenues to address the problem or to develop new revenues to do so.  It is also part of the responsibilities of our municipalities to deal with the issue and allocate resources to fix their own problems.  If the state politicians couldn’t agree on how to fund the obvious deteriorated road infrastructure and voted to delay, in essence, a fix until future years, can we expect them to deal with the water infrastructure under the roads?  After all, “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”

Healthier Easter Entertaining

Do images of peeps and chocolate bunnies appear when you think of Easter? Make your Easter about more than just the feast and treats, focus on healthier baskets and entertaining trade ups to keep your holiday on the lighter side.

Tina Miller, MS RD, Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.meijer.com/ahealthieryou

Tina Miller 2011Do images of peeps and chocolate bunnies appear when you think of Easter?  Make your Easter about more than just the feast and treats, focus on healthier baskets and entertaining trade ups to keep your holiday on the lighter side.

Healthier Easter Baskets:

  • Minimize the candy and maximize the fun! Add active toys to Easter baskets such as jump ropes and Frisbees, fun stickers and sidewalk chalk.  Round out the basket with just a few Easter candies and treats.
  • Get Creative! Make baskets that encourage your child’s imagination and creativity:
    • Little gardeners. Pack a large flower pot with herbs, seeds, soil, shovels, trowels, gloves and a watering can. Have fun with it and create a theme for the basket, such as a pizza garden theme with basil, peppers, and tomatoes.  When the veggies and herbs are ready to harvest, cook something together.
    • Aspiring chef. Fill their Easter baskets with kid-friendly cooking tools made especially for little hands like mini a whisk, colander, mixing bowl, and measuring spoons.  Create a food theme basket with their favorite meal, like a pancake basket with homemade pancake mix, maple syrup, a few bananas and a squeeze bottle for piping pancake shapes onto the griddle.

 

Consider healthy ingredient Trade Ups.  Tweak traditional recipes to lower the calories, fat and sugar content.

Instead of

 

Substitute Save
Traditional Green Bean Casserole (1 cup)

(276 Calories, 21g Fat)

Steamed Asparagus (1 cup) with 1 Tbsp. Hollandaise Sauce

(87 Calories, 7gFat)

189 Cal.

14g Fat

Creamed Spinach

(196 Calories, 16g Fat)

Steamed Spinach with lemon and garlic (41 Calories, 0.5g Fat) 155 Cal.

15.5g Fat

Candied Yams (about ¾ cup)

(206 Calories, 4g Fat, 26g Sugar)

Baked Sweet Potatoes

(103 Calories, 0.2g Fat, 7g Sugar)

103 Cal.

3.8g Fat

19g Sugar

Crescent Rolls

(100 Calories, 6g Fat, 220mg Sodium)

Soft Whole Grain Dinner Rolls

(75 Calories, 1.5g Fat, 98 mg Sodium)

25 Cal.

4.5g Fat

122mg Sodium

Butter Crackers (i.e. Ritz)

(95 Calories, 4.5g Fat)

Woven Whole Wheat Crackers w/less salt (i.e., Hint of Salt Triscuit) (75 Calories, 2.5g Fat) 20 Cal.

2g Fat

Cheddar Cheese Cubes

(1 oz.: 110 calories, 9g Fat)

2% Milk Cheddar Cheese Cubes

(1 oz.: 75 calories, 5g Fat)

35 Cal.

4g Fat

 

 

Sunday Best Recipes

Make ahead Easter Brunch:  Enjoy Easter Sunday, or any Sunday morning, with this easy and delicious prepare ahead breakfast casserole.

Ham, Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

True Goodness by Meijer Organic Canola Cooking Spray

1 lb. cooked Ham, diced

1 cup True Goodness® by Meijer Organic Frozen Broccoli Florets, thawed

1/3 cup chopped green onions

6 cups True Goodness® by Meijer Organic Whole Wheat Bread, cut into 1” cubes

2 cups Meijer 2% Milk Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese

2-2/3 cups True Goodness® by Meijer Organic 2% Milk

6 True Goodness® by Meijer Eggs, beaten

2 tsps. Meijer mustard

1/2 tsp. McCormick® pepper

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

 

Directions:

  1. Place bread cubes in a 9×13-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Layer the ham, broccoli, onions and cheese over bread.
  2. Combine milk and remaining ingredients; stir well. Pour over ham and cheese.
  3. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
  4. Bake, covered at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 214 Calories, 8g Fat, 19g Carbohydrate, 2g Fiber, 16g Protein, 494mg Sodium

Enjoy with: Fresh fruit salad and coffee/tea/juice

Spicy Glazed Ham

Your spiral sliced ham comes cooked and ready to enjoy at room temperature.  Most of us, however, enjoy reheating the ham with our own “secret” glaze.  Use these steps to prepare your ham without drying it out.

Heating Ham

Preheat oven to 275°F. Remove all packaging materials and place half ham face down directly into baking dish or roasting pan. (Place whole ham on its side.)

Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup pineapple juice, orange juice or water over ham.

Cover ham tightly with lid, foil or place in cooking bag and heat at 275°F for approximately 12-15 minutes per pound.  Do not overcook!

Note: Glaze outside of ham and in-between a few slices if using a spiral sliced ham (see recipe below) during the last 30-45 minutes of cooking.

Estimated heating times:

Quarter ham—approximately 1 1/2 hours

Half ham—approximately 1 ¾ to 2 hours

Whole ham—approximately 3 to 3 1/2 hours

Spicy Glaze Ingredients

Ingredients:

 

1/2 to 2/3 cup True Goodness® by Meijer Organic honey

1 (10 oz.) can Meijer crushed pineapple in juice

1 (7.5 oz.) can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce, chopped, to taste (Use 1/3 can for milder glaze, add more to taste)

1 Tbsp. Adobo sauce, (from can of chipotles), more as needed

1/4 teaspoon McCormick® ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon True Goodness® by Meijer Organic ground ginger

Salt, to taste (optional)

 

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients, except salt, in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Add salt if desired, and taste for desired spice level. Add additional chipotle and adobo sauce to taste.
  2. As a glaze or basting sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer the sauce until lightly thickened.
  3. Brush the warmed glaze over the ham during the last 30 to 40 minutes of roasting, basting every 10 minutes or so. Remaining glaze can be simmered to thicken and served as a side sauce.

Recipe Source: www.honey.com/recipes

Nutrition Information (per 3 ½ oz. serving ham with glaze):  Calories 209, Fat 10g, Cholesterol 59 mg,  Sodium 756 mg, Carbohydrate 9g, Fiber 8g, Protein 21g.

Spring Garden Layered Pasta Salad

Serves 10

 

Ingredients:

 

1 (12 oz.) box Whole Grain Rotini or mini Penne Pasta

2 cups Earthbound Farm® Organic Baby Kale or spinach

3 True Goodness® by Meijer Organic eggs, hard-cooked and sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup green onions, sliced
2 cups True Goodness® by Meijer fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 cups yellow bell peppers, chopped
1 (10 oz.) package frozen True Goodness® by Meijer Organic Peas, thawed

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

1 cup low-moisture part-skim Mozzarella cheese, cubed, crumbled or shredded

 

Directions:

  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Place the kale in a 2-1/2-qt. glass serving bowl; top with pasta and eggs.
  3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer with green onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, peas, tomatoes, and mozzarella.
  4. Spread creamy avocado dressing over the top.

Recipe adapted from www.ronzonihealthyharvest.newworldpasta.com

 

Nutrition Information (per serving): 236 calories, 7g fat, 3g saturated fat, 71mg cholesterol, 287mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 16g protein

 

Creamy Avocado Dressing

Makes 1 ½ cups

 

1 medium ripe avocado, chopped

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 garlic clove

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (or Parsley)

 

  1. Place dressing ingredients in blender. Cover; process until smooth (add more water, 1 Tbsp. at a time to thin dressing to desired thickness).

 

Recipe adapted from www.californiaavocado.com