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Archive for the ‘Health & Nutrition’ Category

A Spring Recipe: Toasted Quinoa Salad with Scallops & Snow Peas

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

At NC Health Plans, we are always looking for new healthy recipes and we ran across one today that looks different and yummy.  If you are like me, it is often times difficult to find recipes using scallops in a healthy way.

12 ounces dry sea scallops, cut into ½-inch pieces, or dry bay scallops

4 teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari, or soy sauce, divided

4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons canola oil, divided

1½ cups quinoa, rinsed well

2 teaspoons grated or minced garlic

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup trimmed and diagonally sliced snow peas, ( ½ inch thick)

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 cup thinly sliced scallions

1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper

¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Toss scallops with 2 teaspoons tamari in a medium bowl. Set aside. Place a large, high-sided skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil and quinoa. Cook, stirring constantly, until the quinoa begins to color, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add water and salt and bring to a boil. Stir once, cover and cook over medium heat until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. (Do not stir.) Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in snow peas, cover and let stand for 5 minutes more.

Meanwhile, whisk 3 tablespoons canola oil, the remaining 2 teaspoons tamari, vinegar and sesame oil in a large bowl. Add the quinoa and snow peas, scallions and bell pepper; toss to combine.

Remove the scallops from the marinade and pat dry. Heat a large skillet over medium-high until hot enough to evaporate a drop of water upon contact. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons canola oil and cook the scallops, turning once, until golden and just firm, about 2 minutes. Gently stir the scallops into the quinoa salad. Serve garnished with cilantro, if desired.

For more information on North Carolina insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

 

Happy Thanksgiving from NC Health Plans! – Thanksgiving Recipe

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving 2015Happy Thanksgiving from NC Health Plans!  If you are like me, you are always looking for new and exciting side dishes to spruce up your Thanksgiving table.  As much as I love new recipes, however, I don’t love spending hours in the kitchen trying to make something special.  This recipe for slow-cooker sweet potatoes with bacon from myrecipes.com is not only simple, it’s sure to please.  After all, everything’s better with bacon and sweet potatoes are one of fall’s most nutritious and delicious root vegetables.

Both sweet and salty, this yummy Thanksgiving side-dish is easy to prep and won’t cost you valuable time and stove-top space while you are busy with other things.  In addition, this dish adds beautiful color and is a hearty addition to any Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving is a time to pause and give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy and NC Health Plans wishes you a very happy Thanksgiving day!  For more information on North Carolina insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day from NC Health Plans – Strawberry Dream Cake Recipe

Friday, May 6th, 2016

2428901_Straw_DuPree_SoLiving_CakeSliceInFront_2 copyNow that I have four children of my own, I appreciate my mom like never before.  In fact, on Mother’s Day I refuse to think about calories and sugar and simply want to bake (and eat!) something special.  Last year for Mother’s Day we posted a delicious Coconut Cake recipe because coconut is one of my mom’s favorite treats.  This year, I found a beautiful and delicious Dream Cake recipe from myrecipes.com highlighting another of my mom’s favorite springtime splurges – strawberries. (more…)

Santa Fe Chicken Saute – BCBSNC and Healthy Spring Recipes

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Santa Fe Chicken SauteMy kids love Mexican food and so do I.  The problem is that a lot of Mexican food is really unhealthy and can leave you feeling weighed down.  This recipe for Santa Fe Chicken Saute from Campbell’s Kitchen, however, highlights the lighter, springier side of Mexican food and offers you a delicious and healthy alternative to your everyday enchiladas.

It’s also incredibly easy to make and can be thrown together on a busy school night and served up with a salad in about 30 minutes.  Although it does call for some canned food, like black beans and tomato soup, it also incorporates fresh or frozen kernel corn, fresh cilantro, and green onions.  This dish is perfect over a bed of rice or quinoa and if your family likes avocado, a fresh slice of avocado on top adds flavor, color and a healthy dose of good fat. (more…)

Make Food Work for You: BCBSNC and Healthy Spring Eating

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

bigstockphoto_woman_and_child_choosing_fruit_39154651Spring is in the air and if you are looking for easy and delicious ways to improve your mood, energy level, skin tone and brain power, these super foods may be just what the doctor ordered.  In many ways, food is the very best medicine if used correctly and BCBSNC and NC Health Plans believe in preventive care maintenance. This spring, try eating your way to a healthier, happier, more whole you!  Below are some foods that can give you the nutrients you need: (more…)

Sweet, Santa Strawberries – Merry Christmas from NC Health Plans!

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

GH0610_Strawberry-Santas_s4x3_jpg_rend_sni12col_landscapeChristmas is just around the corner and if you have kids like I do, you may be looking for a sweet, healthy and fun holiday treat.  These Santa strawberries are not only adorable, they are also delicious and kids of all ages are sure to enjoy them!  Easy to prepare, these whimsical Santa strawberries can be served as either an appetizer or dessert and though they will surely satisfy, they won’t weigh you down.  All you need to complete this recipe is 5 simple ingredients:  strawberries, mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and mini chocolate chips.  The total preparation time is only about 30 minutes.

Check out this simple recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. (more…)

Thanksgiving Leftovers? – Try this Recipe!

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Thanksgiving recipe

All of us at NCHealthPlans would like to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!  If you are like me, you’re already planning your menu, buying your groceries and preparing to spend all day cooking your family’s favorite holiday dishes.  And, if you are like me, you will likely have more Thanksgiving leftovers than you know what to do with.  Because my family gets bored with leftovers, I am always looking for new and creative ways to make sure I don’t waste what we didn’t eat.

This recipe from California Cookbook called Roast Turkey and Winter Vegetable Chowder is not only a great way to use up all that leftover turkey, it’s also a delicious way to incorporate those hearty winter vegetables into your diet.  In addition, the recipe calls for ingredients you will likely already have around your post-Thanksgiving house, such as celery, onions and potatoes. (more…)

Pumpkins and Squash – Healthy Fall Eating!

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

Happy family with  pumpkin on autumn leaves. Outdoor.

Autumn has arrived and with it, an abundance of pumpkins and squash.  Not only are these fruits a beautiful reminder of fall and great for decorating, they are also good for your health.  Although not all pumpkins and gourds are made for eating, many are and they can make a great addition to your autumn diet.  A healthy diet is an important part of maintaining good health, which is why Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina encourages members to be proactive and eat right.  This fall, you can make pumpkins a part of your preventive care maintenance by incorporating them into some of your recipes.

Especially good in soups and stews, pumpkins and squash are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, especially Vitamins A, C and E.  They are also rich in dietary fiber and boast an abundance of carotenes, while still being low in calories. They have zero saturated fat and no cholesterol and are a great part of a low-cholesterol diet in need of some hearty, robust flavors.

Here is a basic guide to some popular pumpkins and squash: (more…)

Easy, Healthy Back to School Breakfast

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

Egg-Muffins

It’s back to school time again and I don’t know about you, but one of the toughest parts is making sure my kids eat a healthy, high-protein breakfast before rushing out the door just after 7 am.  Studies show that children need a good, preferably protein-based breakfast in order to achieve optimum success in school, but as a working mother of four, this can be a challenge.  I need something quick, tasty and easy to prepare as well as something I can make ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze.  This recipe for Egg Muffins from Recipe Girl is my all time favorite for busy school mornings when kids are dragging and may wind up having to eat in the car. (more…)

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo – Fun Facts and Fabulous Food

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

hungry-girl-600x450Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina wishes you a Happy Cinco de Mayo celebration!  Remember as part of your preventive health care to drink responsibly, eat healthy, exercise regularly and take some time to enjoy friends and family. Most of my childhood and early adult life were spent somewhere between Dallas, Texas and San Diego, California where Cinco de Mayo is as important a day as Super Bowl Sunday in terms of celebration.  Cinco de Mayo, which is Spanish for “fifth of May” is celebrated in the United States and in Mexico, primarily in the Mexican state of Puebla, where the holiday originated and is referred to as The Day of the Battle of Puebla.  The date is observed in commemoration of the Mexican army’s surprising defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 where General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin led his troops to victory.  Sometimes mistaken for Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16th, Cinco de Mayo is a day of pride for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans alike.

In truth, Cinco de Mayo is an historically significant holiday and one that has become increasingly important in the United States over the years.  Californians have consistently celebrated this holiday since 1863, even when the holiday was virtually overlooked in Mexico itself, and Cinco de Mayo celebrations became trendy during the 1940’s during the rise of the Chicano movement.  During the 1980’s, marketers, especially beer companies, jumped on the bandwagon and began promoting the holiday in full force, making it widely popular in major cities throughout the United States.  Celebrations typically emphasize Mexican cuisine, culture, music and drink.

Much like St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo has become a holiday that invites a celebration with friends and family.  Tacos, salsa, corn chips and guacamole are only a few of the tasty treats that make celebrating this Mexican holiday fun for everyone.  We found this recipe for a healthier version of guacamole from People Magazine and we think you will agree that it is not only delicious, but also guilt-free.  With only 73 calories and 4 g. of fat, each 1/4 cup of this guacamole contains 4 g. of protein and 2.5 g. of dietary fiber.  Easy to make and full of good nutrition, Hungry Girl’s Southwest Guiltless Guacamole Dip is sure to be a Cinco de Mayo favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. mashed avocados (2 small avocados)
  • 1 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 3/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped cilantro

Directions:

1.  Combine avocado, yogurt, lime juice, garlic powder, chili powder and salt in a small bowl.  Mix until smooth

2.  Stir in black beans, pepper, onion and cilantro

3.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve

BCBSNC knows that preventive care is the most important step in ensuring both your physical and mental well-being.  For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

Add Some Spice to Spring – Spinach Enchilada Recipe

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

223001This may come as a surprise, but did you know that spicy food may actually help relieve the symptoms of spring allergies?  It’s true.  What we eat can actually irritate or alleviate some of those allergy symptoms that may be keeping us up at night.  Whereas some foods, such as wine, processed meat and aged cheeses contain high concentrations of histamine, which may provoke allergic symptoms, spicy ingredients, such as cayenne pepper, onions and garlic can help thin mucus and clear nasal passages, offering much needed relief.  This recipe for Spinach Enchiladas fits that bill exactly and may be just what the doctor ordered this spring, whether you suffer from spring allergies or not.

The recipe uses Monterey Jack cheese instead of aged Cheddar and also incorporates spinach into your diet.  Spinach is rich in Vitamin C, E and beta carotine which help combat high blood pressure and reduce your risk of osteoporosis.  In addition, 1 cup of spinach contains 20% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber, which aids in digestion, helps maintain low blood sugar and curbs overeating.  Perhaps most importantly, spinach contains high amounts of flavanoid, a phytonutrient with with anti-cancer properties.  In short, spinach is a super food and what better way to eat it than in enchiladas?

These delicious and nutritious enchiladas require only 20 minutes of prep. time and another 20 minutes in the oven, giving you a healthy and tasty meal in just 40 minutes.  Give this recipe a try and we think you will discover how good it is to add a little spice to your spring!

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.

 

 

 

Lose the Soda, Lose the Weight – Why Drop Soda from your Diet?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Macro view of drink cansWe all know that choosing to drink a soda over a glass of water is not the best choice, but there is something so addictive about those sugary bubbles and soda is sometimes hard to resist.  Because soda is an addiction, however, there are some things we think you should know about how soda affects your body.  Similar to smoking or drinking alcohol, it feels good to consume soda.  Unfortunately, an increasing amount of research is beginning to decry the negative effects of soda consumption, especially if you drink it on a regular basis.  In fact, evidence shows that your health will likely improve dramatically once you begin choosing a cool glass of water over a Coke or even a Diet Pepsi as almost every organ in the human body responds negatively to the consumption of soda.  Take a look at how soda affects these vital organs and we think you will agree… it may be time to quit.

Heart:  A 2012 Harvard University study determined that consuming sugary drinks significantly increases a person’s risk of chronic heart disease and participants in the study who drank the most soda were 20% more likely to have a heart attack.  In other words, choosing to drink water instead of soda is one of the best things you can do for one of the most vital organs in your body.  Another similar study published in 2011 discovered that sugary beverages raise blood pressure as well and the increase has a direct link to the amount of soda you consume.  If you want to be heart healthy, soda is off the menu.

Bladder:  Because soda is a diuretic, it will make your bladder work harder, causing you to urinate more frequently and urgently.  Soda can irritate your bladder as well, leading to an increase in bladder or urinary tract infections.  Drinking clear fluids, like water or seltzer water, will keep your bladder cleaner, allowing it to function better.

Bones:  If you want strong and healthy bones, giving up soda is step number 1.  Soda can weaken bone health and increase your risk of osteoporosis.  In addition, the less soda you drink, the more milk you may drink and such calcium rich drinks actually benefit your bones, making you stronger and healthier.

Kidneys:  Studies have shown that drinking a lot of soda can increase your risk of kidney disease and even ultimately increase your risk of renal failure.  Diet sodas are just as damaging and researchers from the Nurses’ Health Study found that women who drank a substantial amount of diet soda every day had decreased liver function compared to women who did not drink soda at all.  Bottom line:  your kidneys don’t need all the sugary soda and don’t know how to process it.

Weight Loss:  If strong and healthy organs aren’t enough to convince you to quit drinking soda, would you believe that cutting soda from your diet is one of the easiest ways to lose weight?  According to certain weight loss experts, dropping just one large Coke from your diet a day could reduce your annual caloric intake by over 200,000 calories.  This is the equivalent of losing 60 lbs. of weight – in just one year!  Even diet soda drinkers run the risk of weight gain, so don’t be fooled.  Some studies have shown that there is a possible link between diet soda and increased appetite, leading to increased weight gain.  Either way, the evidence is clear.  A good way to overcome being overweight is to replace your daily soda with water.

For those of us who love our soda, quitting can be just as hard as quitting smoking or letting go of other addictive behaviors and substances.  The benefits, however, are indisputable.  Losing the soda in your diet will not only help you feel better, it will help you live better… and living better is always the best choice.

For more information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, the Marketplace and healthcare gov  to apply for your subsidy, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Let us help you navigate through the Health Care Reform changes in accordance with the new regulations of The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama care.