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    • A Sweet, Simple Way to Make Your Holiday Healthier

      8 December 2021

      (Family Features) With holiday menus in full swing, many Americans aim to add healthier dishes and ingredients to their seasonal tables but are hesitant to compromise on tried-and-true favorites. Whether you’re looking to reduce the fat or added sugar content of a recipe or add more plants to your table, raisins are a healthy, natural option for topping or adding to your favorite dishes.
      Raisins fit seamlessly into many family-friendly recipes, like traditional oatmeal cookies, stuffing, casseroles and sweet breads. They also make for easy salad, oatmeal and yogurt toppers, provide a naturally sweet fruit option on charcuterie boards and act as a great standalone holiday snack. Raisins are free of added sugars and contribute micronutrients to your diet, such as iron, potassium and fiber.
      Many health-conscious consumers are interested in wholesome foods and products with less ingredients and natural sugars, like those that occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy products. Added sugars, however, refer to any sugars or caloric sweeteners that are added to foods during processing or preparation. The consumption of excessive added sugars may be associated with health consequences, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, fatty liver, dental caries and more, according to research published by the National Library of Medicine.
      The 2020-2025 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that added sugars comprise no more than 10% of the overall diet for adults and children ages 2 and older.
      “Aiming to consume regular, balanced meals throughout the day with adequate fiber is especially important around the holidays,” said registered dietitian Sarah Schlichter. “This helps keep blood sugar and energy levels balanced and consistent. We know limiting sugars in our diets can be beneficial to health and we can do this by choosing foods that offer less added sugars throughout the day.”
      Swapping dried cranberries, which contain 27 grams of added sugars per 1/4-cup serving, for nutrient-dense raisins, which contain 0 grams of added sugars per 1/4-cup serving, is an easy substitution that can reduce overall sugar intake without compromising flavor or texture.  
      Understanding Natural Sugars vs. Added Sugars
      Nutrition labels haven’t always distinguished between natural and added sugars, Schlichter said, but instead lumped them together under “total sugars.” However, the updated Food and Drug Administration’s Nutrition Facts label, which is in the transition stage, makes this easily discernible by clearly outlining how much of the total sugar content comes from added sugars.
      “One key difference between natural and added sugars is natural sugars usually complement other nutrients organically found in a food or fruit, such as fiber, potassium, iron, vitamin C or antioxidants, all of which confer several health benefits,” Schlichter said. “These complementary nutrients may also slow the rate of digestion, keeping blood sugar more stable. Conversely, added sugars are added during processing and aren’t adding any nutrients to the product.”
      To put this in perspective, 1/4 cup of dried sweetened cranberries contains 29 grams of sugar. Of those 29 grams of sugar, 27 grams are added sugars, meaning that most of the sugar is not found naturally in dried cranberries. While a 1/4-cup serving of raisins also contains 29 grams of sugar, the difference is that all 29 grams are naturally found in raisins and none are added. Raisins also naturally offer potassium, iron and fiber.
      Making the Case for Raisins
      To reduce added and total sugars, many products are formulated using artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame or other no-calorie sweeteners. No-calorie sweeteners are not free from health risks, however, and have been linked to weight gain, obesity, changes to the microbiome, decreased satiety and altered blood sugar levels, according to research published by the National Library of Medicine.
      Additionally, 50% less sugar dried cranberries also contain unnecessary ingredients such as soluble corn fiber, table sugar, glycerin and sucralose.
      These products are not any healthier, Schlichter said, noting there is still much unknown about artificial sweeteners and how they impact hormones, satiety and gut health. Because raisins have no added sugars, no artificial flavors and no unnecessary ingredients, Schlichter recommends utilizing them as an alternative this holiday season.
      Find more information at

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • A Brief Guide to Unpacking in Your New Home

      8 December 2021

      You did it–you bought a house, packed your belongings and successfully transported everything into your new home. You’re a homeowner! After a move, though, what do you do with all those boxes? How do you go about unpacking your stuff?

      Unpacking can seem overwhelming, and it takes time. Many professional moving companies offer unpacking services where the crew does the work for you, but if you’d like to tackle the job yourself, the experts at Atlas Van Lines offer the following guide:

      Keep your inventory list handy. If you took down inventory as you packed your belongings, now is the time to consult that list and check off items as you unpack them. This is the best way to ensure that nothing was left behind.

      Make your bed first. After a long, hard day of moving and unpacking, the last thing you're going to want to do is put your sheets on your bed before diving into it. Make sure your bed is put together and ready for a good night's sleep before you do anything else.

      Prepare surfaces. If you want to line shelves and drawers, this is the best time to do it. Take an extra few minutes per surface to cut some shelf liner or contact paper to size.

      Unpack the essentials. Put away the items you use daily, such as towels and toiletries, dishes and flatware, kitchen tools and appliances, and your children's favorite toys.

      Assemble and arrange furniture. As long as you planned where your furniture should go ahead of time, this part should be easy. If not, you may want to map it out on paper first.

      Make it yours. Decorative items should be unpacked last so you'll have a better idea of how they fit into the scheme of your home.

      Get organized. Now that the major aspects of your home are in place, you can get into the nitty-gritty of organizing your things in a way that makes them easy to access and keep tidy.

      Once you’ve completed unpacking, sit back, relax and enjoy your new home.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • How to Keep Your House Clean If You Have Young Kids

      8 December 2021

      If you have small children, you know how hard it can be to keep your house clean. Here are some strategies to help you avoid getting stressed out and make your home presentable in case you have unexpected guests.

      Set Realistic Expectations and Communicate Them
      If you had high standards for cleanliness before you had kids, holding yourself and your young children to those same expectations will only leave you frustrated. Make keeping the house clean a priority but be realistic. Focus first and foremost on preventing chaos and accidents.

      Have your kids play in designated areas and don’t let them take out too many toys or books at once. Teach your children to clean up after themselves when they’re young. Even babies can be taught to put blocks and other toys in baskets. Once kids are mobile, they can return toys to the places where they belong on their own.

      Have your children eat at a table or in a highchair, not on the couch, on the floor, or in bed. Teach them to put their dishes in the sink or dishwasher and to wash their hands after they finish eating so whatever they have on their hands doesn’t get smeared on other surfaces. Sweep, vacuum or mop up messes quickly so they don’t cause accidents or attract insects.

      Teach Your Kids to Pitch in
      Have separate areas for dolls, trucks, stuffed animals and other types of toys. If your kids play a game with multiple pieces, teach them to clean up before they begin playing with something else. When they finish using crayons or markers, remind your children to check to make sure they are all in the box. Teach your kids to put their jackets, shoes, backpacks and lunchboxes in designated areas when they come home from school. If you enforce these rules consistently, your kids will put their things away without being told.

      If possible, do some cleaning when your kids are napping, watching TV, playing outside or participating in other activities. Set aside some time (10-15 minutes should be enough) for everyone to walk around the house and look for any toys, shoes or other items that need to be put away. Play cheerful music and make this a fun part of your family’s daily routine. Going to bed with the house in order and not having to worry about picking up the previous day’s mess in the morning can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

      If you have young children and struggle to keep your house clean, you’re not alone. Setting realistic expectations, enforcing rules and praising your kids when they do a good job can go a long way. Be clear and consistent so your children can develop positive habits. Tell them that the less time you have to spend cleaning, the more time you will have to spend with them.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Easy and Delicious Ethnic Dishes

      7 December 2021

      (Family Features) When tried-and-true family favorites turn stale and boring, digging through cookbooks and sorting through blogs for new recipes may seem far too time-consuming for your busy evenings. However, a simple ethnic twist in the kitchen can turn bland dinners into exciting meals.
      You don’t need a plane ticket to explore international cuisines. Start with a versatile ingredient like rice, one of the most common kitchen staples around the world. It can transport you to another country in recipes like Korean-inspired Kimchi Fried Rice Bowl with Fried Egg, which provides a savory blend of veggies, basmati rice, soy sauce, sesame oil and more. A quick and easy recipe complete in less than 30 minutes, it’s a simple option for exploring new flavors and encouraging kiddos to expand their horizons.
      For a spicy take on ethnic cuisine, you can push mealtime over the top with Thai Cashew Chicken Fried Rice, ready to eat in half an hour. Aromatic jasmine rice is cooked to fluffy perfection then cooled before being combined with sauteed chicken, sugar snap peas and garlic. The dish gets a kick from a Thai red chili pepper, which offers a moderate to hot level of spice; simply omit if spice isn’t nice for you or your loved ones. Mix in soy sauce and a sprinkle of cashews for a truly traditional Thai flavor.
      Ready in just 10 minutes, Success Rice’s no measure, no mess, boil-in-bag options make these recipes and other delicious ethnic staples possible with perfectly fluffy rice and quinoa. As a foolproof solution for dishes worth savoring, it takes all the guesswork out of making rice and gives home cooks more time to focus on the rest of the recipe and dinner together as a family.
      Find more family meal ideas with an ethnic twist at
      Kimchi Fried Rice Bowl with Fried Egg
      Prep time: 15 minutes
      Cook time: 10 minutes
      Servings: 4
      2 bags Success Basmati Rice
      2 tablespoons canola oil
      1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
      1 onion, diced
      1 cup kimchi, chopped
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 tablespoon ginger, minced
      4 cups baby spinach
      2 tablespoons soy sauce
      4 teaspoons sesame oil
      4 eggs, fried
      Prepare rice according to package directions.
      In a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Stir-fry mushrooms and onions 3-5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in kimchi, garlic and ginger; stir-fry 1-2 minutes, or until well coated.
      Stir in rice, spinach, soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir-fry 2-3 minutes, or until spinach starts to wilt and rice is heated through.
      Divide rice between four bowls and top each with one fried egg.
      Thai Cashew Chicken Fried Rice
      Prep time: 20 minutes
      Cook time: 10 minutes
      Servings: 4
      2 bags Success Jasmine Rice
      2 tablespoons canola oil
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
      1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
      3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
      1 Thai red chili pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
      3 tablespoons soy sauce
      1/3 cup roasted cashews
      Prepare rice according to package directions. Let cool completely.
      In a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Season chicken with salt. Cook chicken, stirring, 3-5 minutes, or until starting to brown. Stir in sugar snap peas, garlic and chili pepper, if desired. Cook, stirring, 3-5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and snap peas are tender-crisp.
      Stir in rice. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring to combine. Stir in soy sauce. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until rice is heated through.
      Sprinkle with cashews before serving.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Could Bundling Your Insurance Policies Help You Save Money?

      7 December 2021

      Many companies offer customers the opportunity to bundle home, auto and life insurance policies. That can often save people money, but not always. It’s important to conduct research and carefully compare your options.

      How Bundling Could Save You Money
      Insurance companies generally offer generous discounts to encourage customers to bundle their policies. If you got multiple policies from the same company and kept them for several years, you could save a significant amount of money.

      Having different policies from the same company could also save you money if you needed to file a claim. For example, if an accident damages both your home and car, you might be able to submit one claim and pay a single deductible, rather than submit two claims to different companies and pay two deductibles for the same event.

      Other Reasons to Bundle Insurance Policies
      If you had policies from different insurers, there could be gaps in your coverage that you weren’t aware of and that representatives of the insurance companies couldn’t identify because they didn’t have the specifics about the other company’s policy. Bundling policies could make it easier to be sure that you had the right coverage.

      If you live in a region that is prone to severe weather, wildfires or other perils, it could be difficult to get homeowners insurance coverage. If you already had an unrelated policy from an insurer, however, that company would be more likely to offer you homeowners insurance because if it refused to insure your home, you could go to another company for all your insurance needs and your existing insurer would lose a customer.

      If you wanted to change your coverage or add another type of insurance, it would be easier if you dealt with a company that already had your personal information, rather than starting from scratch. You could also view all your coverage information in one place and pay one bill.

      When Bundling Insurance Policies Might Not Make Sense
      Bundling might not be a good option if you have a luxury or performance vehicle that is expensive to insure. Since you would pay high rates for a standard auto insurance policy, you might be better off getting coverage from a company that specialized in high-end vehicles.

      When you talk to a company about bundling policies, make sure you compare apples to apples. One insurer might offer you a discount for bundling policies, but the coverage could be less extensive than what you could get from another company. Sometimes it’s better to pay more for broader coverage.

      Is Bundling Insurance Right for You?
      Bundling insurance policies saves many people money, but it’s not always the best move. Contact several insurance companies to discuss your needs and compare coverage options and premiums so you can make the right decision for your circumstances.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.