Servicing DC, MD & VA

Chimney Maintenance

October 8th, 2019 | Comments Off on Chimney Maintenance | Posted in Family Health & Safety
Both metal and masonry chimneys require maintenance so that smoke and flue gases are ventilated properly. At the very least, you should have your chimney inspected annually before each heating season. In addition:
  • Have your chimney cleaned on a regular basis to reduce creosote build-up.
  • Make sure your masonry chimney has a flue liner in place to reduce the possibility that the masonry could absorb creosote.
  • Replace cracked or damaged liners, as they will allow creosote to accumulate and heat to escape.
    • When hiring someone to reline your chimney, only allow the contractor to use a product that has been tested and listed by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
    There are two types of chimneys that require specific maintenance to minimize the dangers in your home.
    • Fireplace inserts (hearth stoves):
      • Vent should be connected to the flue of the chimney.
    • Factory-built metal chimneys:
      • Do not use natural gas, fuel oil vents, well casing, stovepipe or other material in the chimney, as they cannot withstand the heat in the wood burner.

View more Home Matters tips here.

What’s a HSA?

October 8th, 2019 | Comments Off on What’s a HSA? | Posted in Family Health & Safety


5 Age-Defying Dinner Recipes

August 2nd, 2019 | Comments Off on 5 Age-Defying Dinner Recipes | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Here’s the thing about metabolism: It ages faster than we do. Starting around age 30, it slows by 5 percent with each decade, says Caroline Apovian, MD, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical CenterSo by the time you’re 45, you’re burning 200 fewer calories a day than you did in your mid-20s. The good news: You can “reignite” a tired metabolism, Dr. Apovian says. By eating more protein, fruits and veggies, you’ll be providing the fuel you need to stay full, feel more energy and—when combined with plenty of sleep and muscle-building exercise—lose weight. These protein-packed meals—all from Apovian’s book, The Age Defying Diet — can help get you started. 


The flavor of this fruity sauce intensifies the longer you cook it. Add a salad, some fruit, non-starchy vegetables and a small serving of grains, and you’re all set.

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You’ll need to judge the cooking time for this recipe by the thickness of the fillets. Thin fish like trout, tilapia and flounder should take about 12 to 15 minutes; salmon, halibut and other meatier fish will take about 16 to 20 minutes.

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Turkey burgers paired with juicy roasted portabello mushrooms in place of buns make a delicious combo. Cook the burgers nice and slow until well done, and top with mayo and a squirt of mustard.

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A rich red wine and mushroom sauce finishes the steaks perfectly in this recipe. Choose the leanest beef you can find, and trim off all the fat before cooking. 

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Made with boneless pork chops—a lean source of protein—this tasty dish takes just minutes to prepare. Be sure to trim off the fat before cooking.

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Social Media Safety

August 2nd, 2019 | Comments Off on Social Media Safety | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Social media services like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are great for staying in touch with friends and family members, but you need to be careful about what you post online. Follow these tips to stay safe when using social media.

Happy 4th of July

July 2nd, 2019 | Comments Off on Happy 4th of July | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Give Cycling a Try

July 2nd, 2019 | Comments Off on Give Cycling a Try | Posted in Family Health & Safety


My parents told me I should give it a try.

At the age of four, I was introduced to the bike. Not for competition, just for fun. I didn’t think about it back then, but the bike was my first form of self-powered transportation — a way to get away from parents, siblings or neighborhood. I liked being out on my own. Little by little I started to explore further, and I could go as far as my legs and my bravery would take me.

Six years later, I was introduced to bike racing. It really reminded me of the times I put two feet on the pedals and rode my single-speed department store bike for hours. Seeing parts of my city I could only get to on a bicycle, but this time, I was doing it much faster.

I was beginning to figure out that cycling lets you transcend your life. No matter where you come from, what ethnicity or color you are, what kind of financial security you have or don’t have, cycling lets you transcend your life.

If I’d never given it a try, I wouldn’t have a degree from Indiana University or hold seven national cycling championship titles. I wouldn’t be able to give back by helping children in underserved communities get introduced to cycling through the Bahati Foundation. But even if cycling hadn’t become my career, it would have helped me transcend, because being active daily helps you live longer. I gave cycling a try, and now I tell everyone to do the same thing.

Just give it a try because it’s a healthy alternative to running and other high impact sports. Give it a try because it’s great for your core, back, legs, heart, and lungs. Give it a try because it’s a great way to see nature and a natural way to get into a healthy lifestyle.

Most of all, I tell people to give cycling a try because of this beautiful fact at the heart of it: Only you decide how far and fast you can go.

FSA: Use-it-or-Lose-it

June 10th, 2019 | Comments Off on FSA: Use-it-or-Lose-it | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Know Your Benefits: FSA’s A New Approach to Use-it-or-Lose-it

A flexible spending account (FSA) is a beneficial tool for saving money on health care, since the account contains pretax dollars contributed each pay period to pay for qualified medical and dental expenses.

An important provision of an FSA is that most of the money contributed within a calendar year must be spent within the same year or it is lost.

December Scramble

In December, it is common for many people to rush to use up leftover funds in their FSAs while they still can.

Such urgency is no longer necessary thanks to rule changes by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). First, employers have the option to offer up to 14 and ½ months to use the funds. Many employers are taking advantage of this extension to the use-it-or-lose-it provision, allowing employees to spend money from their FSA until March 15.

Secondly, employers also have the option of allowing employees to carry over up to $500 of unused funds from one year to the next. In addition, any amount that is carried over does not count toward the maximum contribution limit.

Employers are not required to offer either exception in their health FSA plans, and the two exceptions cannot be combined. Be sure to check with  to know what the rules are.

What to Buy at Crunch Time

When trying to use up FSA funds at the end of the year, many people used to stock up on over-the-counter (OTC) drugs with their excess money. However, due to changes made by the health care reform legislation in 2010, OTC drugs purchased without prescriptions are no longer considered medical expenses that are qualified for reimbursement from an FSA, except for insulin. Thus, you can fill any prescriptions you have before the year ends, but you will need to find other uses for the remaining FSA dollars.

An FSA is a beneficial money-saving tool, but determining how much money to put aside is an important factor.

Concentrate on using those funds for medical expenses that you have been putting off. If you haven’t been to the dentist all year, schedule a teeth cleaning. If there is a screening or procedure you’ve been putting off, use FSA funds for that. You should focus on using that money to keep yourself as healthy as possible. Another smart option may be a replacement or spare set of eye glasses or contact lenses, or an eye exam if you haven’t had one recently.

Be sure to ask an HR representative for a full list of eligible expenses.

How to Plan Ahead

Because an FSA is such a beneficial money-saving tool, it is natural to want to make the most of the tax advantage. However, putting too much money in the fund may not benefit you if you have to spend it on unnecessary expenses or fail to spend the money at all. The trick is to allocate an appropriate amount to your FSA in the first place.

Look at your expenses from the last few years and determine what your average out-of-pocket medical expenses have been. Also consider if the following year will bring any big life changes such as a marriage, divorce, a new baby or changed dependent status. To calculate your potential savings when using an FSA, visit http://www.asiflex.com/Calculator.aspx

Emergency Room or Urgent Care?

June 10th, 2019 | Comments Off on Emergency Room or Urgent Care? | Posted in Family Health & Safety

Cheap and Simple Superfood

June 10th, 2019 | Comments Off on Cheap and Simple Superfood | Posted in Family Health & Safety
This Cheap and Simple Superfood Can Add Years to Your Life

Rethink your protein priorities—try this easy replacement for artery-clogging red meat.

source: https://www.sharecare.com

You might’ve heard the news: Veggie lovers are living longer, healthier lives—while carnivores may be upping their odds of serious illnesses like heart disease and colon cancer.

In fact, the “plant slant,” or the practice of eating mostly plant-based dishes, is one of the core health principles followed by those living in Blue Zones. Blue Zones are regions such as Okinawa, Japan, and Sardinia, Italy, where people:

  • Live to 100 at higher rates than anywhere else on earth
  • Enjoy the greatest number of healthy, disability-free years
  • Eat less than five servings of meat per month on average

But just because you know that a mostly veggie-based diet can lengthen your life, doesn’t mean you necessarily opt for greens at the end of a long day—especially when greasy red meat dishes seem so satisfying.

That’s why the world’s longest living people love legumes, the food group that includes beans, chickpeas and lentils. This filling, protein-rich food group can make it easy to pass on meat dishes. We spoke with Jessica Bocquin, RD, LD, a registered dietitian nutritionist from Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park, Kansas, to learn how legumes can help reinvent your diet and add years to your life.

What are legumes?
Legumes are a type of vegetable whose seed grows inside of a pod. Legumes come in countless colors, textures and flavors, each offering unique health benefits. In fact, there are over 18,000 choices, including:

  • Soy nuts
  • Black beans
  • Edamame
  • Butter beans
  • Snap peas

Despite this rich variety, only 8 percent of Americans eat legumes on any given day, while the average US citizen eats over 55 pounds of beef and 106 pounds of red meat overall per year. Like meat, legumes can fill you up and add protein to your plate. But, unlike meat, they contain zero cholesterol and little to no saturated fat, explains Bocquin.

Remarkable health benefits of legumes
“Not only are legumes cholesterol-free, they’re also high in vitamins and minerals such as folate, potassium, iron and magnesium,” says Bocquin. “And while they’re lower in fat, the fats that they do contain are heart-healthy unsaturated fats. They’re also high in fiber, which supports healthy digestion and helps to lower LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol.”

Most legumes are either a complete protein on their own, or they form a complete protein when paired with certain foods like whole grains. A complete protein is a food that contains all of the essential amino acids, or building blocks of protein, that your body can’t make on its own. There are twenty-one amino acids, nine of which you need to get from food. Amino acids are essential for almost every one of your body’s functions.

“Many legumes should be paired with another food such as a grain, nut or seed, to offer a wider range of essential amino acids,” says Bocquin. These pairings often make a naturally delicious dish. A few examples ideal protein pairs are:

  • Rice and beans
  • Hummus and whole grain pita
  • Peanut butter and whole grain bread

“Within the legume family, soy protein is just one example of a complete protein. That includes soybeans and foods that are made from soy like tofu and tempeh,” she adds.

How can adding more legumes to your diet help you live longer?
“Legumes can help you make a more satisfying meal with less fat, which promotes a healthy weight,” says Boquin. “Since people who are overweight are more likely to develop illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, a number of cancers and depression, eating a lean diet can help you avoid life-threatening illnesses. It also lets you reduce the amount of meat in your diet, which lowers your risk of heart disease.”

Eating a mostly plant-based diet is just one way to lower your RealAge score. To find out if you’re aging at a healthy rate—or if your body thinks it’s much older than it actually is—take Sharecare’s RealAge Test. The test will determine how well you’re aging and give tips on how to live the longest, healthiest life possible.

Simple ways to add legumes to your diet
Here are some quick-and-easy tips to help you eat more legumes:

  1. If you’re worried about bloating: Use dry beans, soak them overnight and then rinse them before cooking to help prevent gas and bloating. Just be sure to actually cook your beans in fresh, new water.
  2. If you’re craving a savory, superfood snack: “Hummus is even better when you make it on your own. It’s so easy—just garlic, garbanzo beans or chickpeas, tahini and some lemon juice. Add roasted red peppers or basil for optional extra flavor. Throw it in the food processor, dip some warm pita and you’ve got a filling, healthy snack,” recommends Bocquin.
  3. If you want a healthier version of taco night: Mix together low-sodium black beans, fresh salsa and low-fat cream cheese. Pour the mixture over brown rice for a complete protein or over lettuce for a hearty taco salad.
  4. If you make meat on taco night: Mix refried beans in with your taco meat, suggests Bocquin. That way, you’ll get more than one type of protein on your plate and you won’t need to take as much meat per serving.
  5. Bake with beans: Visit Doctor Oz’s Baking with Beans page for tips and recipes to upgrade your favorite desserts with a protein and antioxidant rich base.

Still not convinced that you need more beans in your life? They’re good for your wallet, as well as your health.

“Beans are very inexpensive when you compare them to other protein sources. A pound of dried pinto beans is around 80 cents on average, and that makes 12 servings. Meanwhile, a pound of ground beef costs about five to seven dollars,” says Bocquin. So if the health benefits of mostly plant-based eating haven’t swayed you, think about your budget.