240-644-6000
Servicing DC, MD & VA

Home Matters: Lightning Safety

June 10th, 2019 | Comments Off on Home Matters: Lightning Safety | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

INSIGHTS : Skin Safety in the Sun

June 10th, 2019 | Comments Off on INSIGHTS : Skin Safety in the Sun | Posted in inSIGHTS

As temperatures start to rise during the summer and you spend more time outdoors, it’s important to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Harmful conditions like sunburns are common, but extended exposure to the sun is the primary cause of over 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States.

Keep these skin protection tips in mind:

  • Take extra care before going out in the sun if your family has a history of skin cancer.
  • Try to stay out of the sun when your shadow is shorter that you are, usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. During these times the sun is directly overhead, allowing more UV rays to reach your skin.
  • Wear clothing that blocks UV rays, such as hats, sunglasses and tightly knit, lightly colored clothing.
  • Apply sunscreen to any exposed skin before you go outside. A sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher is best, but using a broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect you from both types of UV rays.
  • Make sure to reapply sunscreen every two to three hours, as needed. If you’re at a high altitude, in a humid environment, sweating or swimming, you may need to reapply sunscreen more frequently.
  • Monitor children who are outdoors in the sun. Experts believe that about 80 percent of an average person’s total sun exposure takes places before the age of 18.
View more InSights here.

Fuel Your Workout the Right Way

June 10th, 2019 | Comments Off on Fuel Your Workout the Right Way | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

You have to put gas in your car to make it go, right? The same concept can be applied to your body and working out. Just like you can’t expect your car to get you from point A to point B without fuel, you can’t expect your body to get you through a workout if it’s not properly fueled. Here’s what you should be eating before, during and after a workout for optimal results.

Before Your Workout

Nutritionists agree that the best way to fuel your workout is to eat 1-4 grams of carbs per every 2.2 pounds of your weight about an hour before your workout. Some examples of a good pre-workout snack include a piece of whole-grain toast with peanut butter and banana slices, fruit and Greek yogurt, or a peanut butter and banana protein smoothie. You should also make sure you’re hydrated before you start your workout.

During Your Workout

If your workout lasts less than 45 minutes, you really only need to focus on replenishing the fluids you’re sweating out. If your workout is focused on endurance, like an extended run or lengthy lifting session, consume 30-60 grams of carbs per hour to fuel your workout.

After Your Workout

What you eat after your workout is just as important as what you eat before. Make sure to consume 15-25 grams of protein within one hour of finishing your workout to replenish the muscle glycogen you exerted during your sweat session. Continue to hydrate and consume protein to help keep muscle soreness at bay. If you had a particularly intense workout, consider drinking water or sports drinks enriched with electrolytes to fully replenish your body.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

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

Summer Bucket List

June 10th, 2019 | Comments Off on Summer Bucket List | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

Summer Bucket List for Eating, Drinking and Playing Around DC

source: https://www.washingtonian.com/

Summer is heating up and our staff is dreaming of their warm weather to-do lists, from hiking excursions to crab feasts.

Crack Chesapeake crabs

“Visiting Cantler’s in Annapolis for Chesapeake blue crabs is on my summer bucket list. They also have the best crab dip and soft-shell clams.” –Jessica Sidman, food editor 

Cross it off your list: Whether you’re looking for crabs nearby or destination crustaceans, Old Bay your way through our favorite Chesapeake crab houses.

Boat with brews

“Although it is basic AF, I really do want to try the paddle pub. I’m down for anything that gets me out on the water, and the view of the monuments from the river is great. And I’m no nutritionist, but I’m pretty sure that if you pedal while drinking beer, you negate all calories. So it’s basically good for you.” –Mimi Montgomery, associate editor 

Cross it off your list: Reserve a seat on the booze cruise or rent the boat for a private Potomac River outing. Don’t forget that libations are BYOB.

Potomac Paddle Pub
Pedal down the river while drinking beer on the Potomac Paddle Pub. Photograph courtesy of Potomac Paddle Pub.

Drink ALL the piña coladas

“It was the first drink I ever tried, and I still love it so. My current favorites are at Tiki TNTSuburbia, and Colada Shop, but I’m looking forward to trying them at Little HavanaWhaley’s Rose Garden, and Estadio, where Adam Bernbach switches out rum for sherry. ” -Ann Limpert, food editor

Cross it off your list: If you like piña coladas…you should head to an al fresco happy hour for a tropical staycation courtesy of the pineapple drink. Try the classic with a matcha twist or discover more refreshing drinks local bartenders are sipping this summer.

Frolic in a field of sunflowers

“I love sunflowers—they’re not only cheery, but they embody summer. So on my summer bucket list is a visit to the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, Maryland, when its 30 acres of sunflowers peak in mid-to-late July. I went two years ago, and it was not only an Instagram slam dunk, but it was fun to see so many visitors smiling and happy.” -Sherri Dalphonse, executive editor

Cross it off your list: Capture the perfect summer ‘gram at the sunflower oasis. Remember: the flowers are good for pictures, not picking.

Snap a summer Instagram with 30 acres of sunflowers as the background.

Hike the great outdoors 

“I’ve been dying to do more hiking this year, so I’m excited to hike along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Blue Ridge is a massive collection of peaks that stretch through five states. From what I’ve seen, you can witness some gorgeous sunsets at their peaks. I’d like to see one of those sunsets, though I doubt I’ll make it to the top!” -Kaila Philo, editorial fellow 

Cross it off your list: You don’t have to go far for a peaceful day of hiking in nature, thanks to the DC area’s ample trails.

Feast on some barbecue 

“When the humidity dials up, I start craving barbecue favorites like smoky brisket and pulled pork. I’ll be kicking off my Summer of Meat Sweats at the National Capital Barbecue Battle, catching all the saucy action before eating my way through the different regional styles.” -Daniella Byck, assistant editor 

Cross it off your list: Get a crash course in ‘cue with our guide to Washington BBQ.

Dig in to some barbecue at Texas Jacks in Arlington. Photo by Scott Suchman.
Dig into some barbecue at Texas Jacks in Arlington. Photo by Scott Suchman 

Get to the Nationals Crab Feast

“Is anything more summery than cracking crabs while sitting on (yes, on) the field at Nationals Park, drinking cold Buds, and watching a game on the Jumbotron? This year, the Nats Feast on the Field is July 16. While the team plays the Orioles, home fans take the field for all-you-can-eat-and-drink Chesapeake blue crabs (take that, Baltimore), beer and wine, and sides.” -Anna Spiegel, food editor

Cross it off your list: Tickets are $85 to $125 ($35 for kids under 12). Don’t forget to snag a photo in the dug out.

Go cherry picking at Homestead Farm

“Sour cherry jam, sour cherry pie, sour cherry clafoutis—bring it on. When the season opens in mid-June, I’ll be at this Poolesville farm with my two-and-a-half year-old apprentice (who will likely get sidetracked by the goats and chickens, but oh well).” -Ann Limpert

Cross it off your list: To pluck the official fruit of the District or soon-to-be-in-season berries, head to a pick-your-own farm in Maryland or Virginia. Prefer your fruit pre-picked? Support local farmers at DC-area farmers markets to stock up on the season’s abundant offerings.

Pick your own cherries and berries at a local farm. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Tetsuya Kankubo.
Pick your own cherries and berries at a local farm. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Tetsuya Kankubo.

Bike and camp at the C&O Canal

“If your problem with camping is that there are often too many people, or—let’s be honest—your problem with everything is that there are often too many people, try bike camping, because even on the nicest day there may be, like, four other people doing it. Throw everything you need on your bike (sleeping bag, small tent, food) and head out on the C&O Canal towpath. The first of the Park Service’s 31 free campsitesis a reasonable 16 miles from Georgetown (pack a spare tube and pump; that path can wreak havoc on your tires). You can spend the night under the stars and return to “civilization” in less than 24 hours, refreshed and ready to act as if you enjoy the company of others for another week.” -Andrew Beaujon, senior editor

Cross it off your list: Our round-up of DC-area camping spots will help you find a kid-friendly site or a lodge to skip the tent and go glamping.

Cruise on the water taxi 

“I want to ride the water taxi from Old Town to the Wharf, enjoying both waterfronts and the ride over, wind in my (long and luscious) hair. Some may want to try the new Potomac paddleboat pub (which sounds both terrible and awesome). I just want the good ole fashioned water taxi.” -Elliot Williams, assistant editor 

Cross it off your list: Water taxi starting points are in DC and Virginia. Check multiple boxes with one ride by taking a boat to a Nationals or DC United game.

A ferry at the Wharf. Photograph by Evy Mages.
The water taxi has starting locations in DC and Virginia. Photograph by Evy Mages  

Be a tourist in DC’s neighborhoods 

“I moved to DC in January, and the only other time I’ve been here was during an 8th grade field trip. So, I’m still pretty fresh. Thus, I’m converting my summer bucket list into a DC neighborhood bucket list. Becoming invested and candid in a community comes from familiarizing yourself with it, one weekend excursion at a time.” -Will Peischel, editorial fellow 

Cross it off your list: Take advantage of sunny days and walk the city with our DC neighborhood guide.

Explore the thriving Mexican food (and margarita) scene

“Our friends from California and Texas always complained about Washington’s Mexican food scene, but lately they’ve been a lot quieter (probably too busy eating tacos). There’s an exciting new wave of great taquerias and restaurants in town, whether you’re looking for inexpensive street-style eats or a blowout taco omakase(yep, that’s a thing).” -Anna Spiegel

Cross it off your list: Make your way to one of the new Mexican restaurants around DC to try the diverse types of tacos the city has to sample.

Crispy skate, Coca-Cola–marinated carnitas, and fried-shrimp tacos at Tacos, Tortas & Tequila.
Crispy skate, Coca-Cola–marinated carnitas, and fried-shrimp tacos at Tacos, Tortas & Tequila.

Get creative with rosé 

“To my mind, there are few better summer coolers than a cold glass of minerally, salmon-pink rosé from Provence. But even I am starting to feel rosé fatigue. So, I’ve turned to the pale blue cans of rosé cider from DC cider-maker Anxo, which you can pick up at places like Batch 13 and Metro Wine & Spirits. You have to like sour brews (this one is very puckery), but it’s really refreshing.” -Ann Limpert

Cross it off your list: Check out a new outdoor bar to see who is pouring the hybrid drink, like Dacha’s Navy Yard outpost. If you’re still ride or die rosé, head to a bottomless rosé brunch.

Sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

“Baseball tends to elude me, but I’ll still be donning the “W” hat in support of our hometown team. Sure, I might be singing about peanuts and Cracker Jacks, but you can find me sampling the new concessions in between home runs.” -Daniella Byck

Cross it off your list: Snatch up tickets for a home game at Nationals Park. Looking for a spot to eat and drink around the stadium? We’ve got you covered. 

Don some red, white, and blue to cheer on the Nationals. Photograph courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club.
Don some red, white, and blue to cheer on the Nationals. Photograph courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club.

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.

BY ROSE HAYES
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.

6 Lettuce-Free Recipes

June 10th, 2019 | Comments Off on 6 Lettuce-Free Recipes | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

That Will Make You Love Salad

By Taylor Lupo

Your salad should be more than a bowl of leafy greens. In fact, a healthy and filling salad doesn’t have to include lettuce at all.

Let’s face it, the salad mix-ins, like crumbled cheese, sliced fruit and nuts, are often the best part of the meal. Toss together your favorite fruits, veggies, whole grains (and more) to create tasty, satisfying and 100 percent lettuce-free meals.

1 / 7 Tomatoes, cucumbers, quinoa and avocado

Worried about missing out on necessary nutrients? Don’t be! Tomatoes, cucumbers, quinoa and avocado are loaded with the essentials.

Greek goddess salad

2 / 7 GREEK GODDESS SALAD

Get a taste of the Mediterranean in the comfort of your own home. This tangy salad combines a few ingredients with whole lot of flavor. Plus, it’s low in calories!

Start with a whole cucumber, which contains just 45 calories, for a crunchy base. One cup of chopped tomatoes contains 30 calories, and…SHOW MORE

Tomato and avocado salad

3 / 7 TOMATO AND AVOCADO SALAD

Enjoy the flavors of a classic deli sandwich, layered with bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato, with a fraction of the sodium, fat and calories.

Tomatoes are packed with vitamins A and C, which promote a healthy immune system and potassium, necessary for proper nerve and muscle function. Avocado…SHOW MORE

Watermelon and feta summer salad

4 / 7 WATERMELON AND FETA SUMMER SALAD

Who said salads had to be savory? This light and refreshing recipe can be enjoyed at snack time or topped with a few grilled shrimp and eaten as a complete meal.

The star of this salad is juicy, pink watermelon, which contains just 50 calories per cup. The fruit is loaded with hydration, and…SHOW MORE

Crunchy beet salad

5 / 7 CRUNCHY BEET SALAD

This salad comes together with almost no effort—and tastes great!

Feel free to boil your own beets, but the canned kind work just as well. Just give them a good rinse to get rid of any excess sodium. A cup of beets contains only 60 calories, but also delivers fiber, a bit of protein and potassium,…SHOW MORE

Colorful vegetable and quinoa salad

6 / 7 COLORFUL VEGETABLE AND QUINOA SALAD

Shake up your salad routine by filling your bowl with a filling and flavorful base of 100 percent whole grains, like quinoa.

Measure out one cooked cup of quinoa, loaded with protein, fiber and manganese. Next, chop up and toss in your favorite veggies and beans.

Red onions, black beans and bell…SHOW MORE

Fiesta bean salad

7 / 7 FIESTA BEAN SALAD

Beans contain protein, fiber and iron, without all of the fat red meat contains. Toss your favorite legumes with a bit of diced onion, a splash of olive oil and spices.

A half-cup serving of black, garbanzo and red kidney beans offer about seven grams of protein and more than 10 percent of the…SHOW MORE