road trip snacks

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9 Healthy Snack Tips for Your Summer Road Trip

Summertime means road trip time! Here are some great ideas to fight off those snack attacks, and keep your energy up, too!  Plan your snack pack before you hit the highway to avoid unhealthy fast food stops and remember that a small insulated cooler is a must have.

  1. It’s A Wrap! Sandwiches can add protein and hearty grains to your diet. Keep wraps made with meat and cheese or hummus or veggies in a cooler.  Other options, like peanut butter and jelly on whole grain, can be kept at room temperature.
  2. Keeping It Cool: Yogurt. Whether it’s in a tube, made into a low-fat smoothie or mixed with fruit or granola, keep these road trip snacks in the cooler. It’s great snack for kids and adults.
  3. Hot On The Trail. Make trail mix at home that keeps well in a storage container with a lid.  Combine granola, raw nuts, seeds and dried fruits. Add a few dark chocolate chips for sweetness or wasabi peas for spice!
  4. Healthy Can Be Gouda, Too: low fat cheese, string cheese, single serve cottage cheese or cheese cubes. There are many low-fat cheeses, or soy or nut-based cheeses for those who are lactose intolerant. Prep cheese slices at home before and toss in the cooler. Pair with your favorite crackers you portion ahead of time, making it “snack-friendly” for the car.
  5. Dip It! Veggie Style. Fresh veggies can be sliced and stored in an insulated cooler. Road trip choices include cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, broccoli florets, cucumbers, celery and snap peas.  Add peanut butter or hummus as a dip to add good fats and protein, too.
  6. Energy Bars….Sweet! Replace those candy bars with an energy or granola bar. Protein and fiber, now that’s a healthier choice.
  7. Fruits, For Sure. Trip-friendly fruits that have been washed and sliced at home are a quick go-to from the cooler. Grapes and berries are finger-sized already. Others can be cubed and stored in containers, or eaten whole.
  8. Thirst Quenchers. Healthy beverages kept on ice are really nice on the road. Water, seltzer, 100 percent vegetable and fruit juices are the way to go.
  9. Go nuts! Craving crunchy? Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, whatever your favorite nut may be. Or go for sunflower or pumpkin seeds, air popped popcorn or rice cakes.
Karen Sterner is special events coordinator at Howard County General Hospital. She is an experienced traveler, having taken many road trips with her family.

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10662095145_08f4655cb6_zI’m ready for summer. Are you? My youngest son is the only one in my family still in school, so I feel a bit guilty each morning when I have to wake him up. His last day of school isn’t until June 19! The other night, though, it was my daughter who woke me up because she was not feeling well. I felt her head, and sure enough her forehead felt warm. Then came the tough part—finding a thermometer, or should I say, a working thermometer. I was able to find two thermometers, but the batteries were dead. Luckily (or so I thought), I remembered that I had sent each of my oldest kids off to college with a first aid bin that included a thermometer. I asked my daughter and my oldest son to find the bin that had their first aid stuff in it. Both of them answered simultaneously, “ I don’t know where that is. I never used any of that stuff. Are you sure you gave it me?” Finally, in the back of the cupboard in the bathroom I found a temporal artery thermometer, which I had a vague recollection of buying. We were not sure if this thermometer was working, but my daughter’s temperature registered almost four degrees higher than mine, so I felt it was safe to say she had a fever. She was also complaining that her neck was bothering her. I started Googling her symptoms and discovered a plethora of possible illnesses, most very unlikely.

I called my sister, who is a nurse, and she said, “It’s probably important to make sure you get a thermometer that you can count on.” As my kids would say “Thanks, Captain Obvious!” In my defense, I thought I had a working thermometer. My sister also reminded me of the risks of trying to diagnose an illness based on information I found on the internet. She told me to call my daughter’s doctor for a professional opinion.

The doctor thinks my daughter’s infection may have been caused by a bite she had gotten on her foot earlier that day in the grassy area at the pool. Anytime you are outside, you are at risk for infection. Most of us spend more time outside in the summer months than we do during the rest of the year. There are things we can do to keep safe and healthy. After all, we survived a long, cold winter– we deserve to enjoy the warmer weather.

Biting and stinging insects come out in force in the summer months. Most bites are harmless and cause only minor discomfort, but some bites can carry disease. One of the things we can do when we are going to be outdoors is to wear insect repellent. It’s prudent to keep your legs and arms covered as much as possible if you are going to be near wooded areas and grasslands or if you are going to be outside at dawn or dusk, when insects are most active. It’s also smart to remove insect breeding grounds, such as standing water, from around your home and to keep your garbage tightly covered. Everyone should get in the habit of carefully checking for ticks after being outdoors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme Disease is the most commonly reported tick-born disease in the United States. You can find more information on bites and stings here. You can also check the library for books on Lyme Disease. If you develop a fever or skin rash, please call your doctor.

If you do get bitten it’s a good idea to have some items in your first aid kit to treat any bites, stings, or skin inflammation. Some of the things to include in your kit are: a flat edged object to remove stingers, tweezers, an instant cold compress, antiseptic wipes, calamine lotion, antihistamine cream, an assortment of bandages, aloe vera gel, and of course, a working thermometer! Make sure you have one kit at home and one kit in the car or to pack in your suitcase. Now is a good time to check your first aid kit(s) and replace any used or expired items. A more comprehensive list of essentials to have in your first aid kit(s) can be found here.

Hopefully, the only temperature above 98.6 degrees that will need to go down this summer is the temperature outside. Have a safe, healthy, fun-filled summer everyone!

Editor’s Note: Please consult your family physician when experiencing symptoms of illness or discomfort. In case of emergency please call 911.

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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sports injuriesJohns Hopkins pediatricians present the free seminar, “Caring for the Young Athlete,” Wednesday, April 8 from 6-8:30 p.m. (dinner included) in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center

Super Bowl Sunday has long since come and gone and, with it, the intense media frenzy on sports-related injuries and NFL players who have suffered brain injuries as a result of multiple concussions playing the game.

If you have children who play sports in school or in your community, you know that professional football players are not the only athletes affected by the growing number of sports-related injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), concussions and related injuries increased by 60 percent in the past 10 years and hospital emergency departments across the U.S. treat approximately 173,285 children and adolescents every year for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), including concussions. In school settings alone, nearly 715,000 sports and recreation injuries occur each year.

In recognition of National Youth Sports Safety Month in April, Johns Hopkins pediatricians will present a seminar on “Caring for the Young Athlete” on April 8 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. (a complementary dinner is at 6 p.m.) in the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, to provide education on the prevention, evaluation and rehabilitation of sports-related injuries. Physicians who specialize in orthopaedics, sports medicine, neurosurgery, surgery and physical therapy will discuss signs and symptoms of more serious conditions and when you should seek medical help.

Register for the “Caring for the Young Athlete” seminar. Visit the Stop Sports Injuries website for tips on how you can help prevent sports injuries in your children and in their schools.



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“Exercise affects your whole body and makes your bones and muscles stronger. It improves your heart, lungs and brain function. It also reduces weight, increases lean body mass and can improve a child’s immune system,” said Suzie Jeffreys, an exercise physiologist at Howard County General Hospital.

Not only does exercise help children physically, but mentally as well. “Kids need to get up and move every day. It is a natural part of living and gets our blood flowing and allows more oxygen to reach the brain, which can result in clearer thoughts, better grades, more energy and focus, and improved test scores,”  noted Jeffreys.

“If you get them moving while they are young, it becomes a way of life. They don’t have to get drenched with sweat. Anything they do is better than sitting on the couch or in front of a video game or on their phone,” said Jeffreys.

Know Your Child’s Fitness Personality
With all the latest technology distractions geared toward children, they may sometimes need a little encouragement from their parents to get moving. “There are different fitness personalities. Not everyone is a born athlete and not everyone wants to be—so get to know your child,” remarked Jeffreys. Fitness personalities include:

The “Non-Athlete” – These children need more encouragement and help to get and stay active. They are not inclined to physical activity due to either lack of interest, ability or both. For these children, it is important to introduce exercise gradually and make it fun. To pique their interest, schedule time for activity, invite friends and find something they enjoy.

The “Casual Athlete” – These children find enjoyment in being active, but may not be a star athlete and are most likely not comfortable in a competitive environment. If you get these children out and moving, they will lead you, and you can introduce them to new activities and inspire them with new equipment or attire.

The “Athlete – These children do not need to have you encourage them as much as support them. Continue to provide support by recognizing their talents and suggest trying a variety of activities.

Low Cost Exercise Options in the Howard County area:

  • Team sports through leagues or school
  • Get Active/Stay Active Howard County has a variety of programs and allows kids to try out different activities.
  • Howard County Striders is a great opportunity to run and walk with other kids at a variety of fitness levels.
  • Girls on the Run is an after-school program through the schools: 443-864-8593,
  • Howard County Recreation Centers (Glenwood, North Laurel, Roger Carter) are great resources for families to play basketball, walk/run on an indoor track, jump rope or swim for a reasonable fee.
Suzie Jeffreys is an exercise physiologist for Howard County General Hospital.



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Poisons act fast!

National Poison Prevention Week is March 15-21


Call 1 (800) 222-1222 for accidental poisonings.

At some point, almost everyone will experience the horrible realization that a child, family member or friend may have accidentally ingested some kind of poison: the two-year-old smiling and licking his lips with a half-empty bottle of sweet, red, baby acetaminophen in his hand; the toddler who thought the amber chemical in an unmarked bottle was apple juice; the elderly relative with limited vision and memory taking the wrong number of pills at the wrong time; the husband who decided to sand a table not knowing it was covered with lead-based paint; or the friend who inhaled toxic vapors by mixing chlorine bleach with ammonia to clean the floor. A poison is any substance that can harm someone if it is used in the wrong way, by the wrong person or in the wrong amount, and there are endless ways for accidental poisonings to happen. According to a 2008 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, poisoning exceeded the number of traffic accident deaths for the first time since 1980. More than two million poisonings are reported each year to the 57 poison control centers across the country and more than 90 percent of these poisonings occur in the home.

March 15 to 21 is National Poison Prevention Week, and this year’s themes are: “Children Act Fast…So Do Poisons” and “Poisoning Spans a Lifetime.”

What can you do to help prevent accidental poisonings?

  • Become familiar with the 50 poison prevention tips offered by the National Poison Prevention Week Council, including:
    • General Safety—Install safety latches on cabinets used for medicines and household products and buy products in child-resistant packaging.
    • household_poisonsMedicine Safety—Keep medicines out of reach of children, tell your doctor about all of your medications to avoid interactions, and use only the measuring device (dosing cup, dosing syringe, or dropper) that is included with your medicine.
    • Household Product Safety—Keep cleaning products in their original container with original label, never use food containers to store household or chemical products, have your children tested for lead poisoning and remove poisonous plants from your house and yard.
  • Learn the signal warning words for household and chemical products:
    • Caution—slightly toxic if eaten, absorbed through skin, inhaled or in contact with eyes or skin
    • Warning—moderately toxic
    • Danger—highly toxic or deadly. The word “poison” must be included in red letters on front panel of the product label.

What should you do if you suspect a possible poisoning?

  • Keep the Poison Control Center emergency phone number, 1-800-222-1222 in a handy and accessible place and make sure caretakers also know where it is.
  • Do NOT administer syrup of ipecac.
    • The American Academy of Pediatrics says you should get rid of this syrup that for years was thought to be a good way to treat children who had swallowed something toxic by making them vomit.
    • Recent studies show it can irritate the stomach and esophagus and that it can leave up to 50 percent of the toxin behind. The best bet is to call the poison control hotline (1-800-222-1222). If it is a true emergency, you should call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency department.

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weeliciousA few years ago one of my personal favorite regular Well & Wise contributors, the wonderful Farmers’ Market Chef, did a post on the seemingly impossible task of what to pack in school lunches. I thought this was very brave of her and found the books she suggested to be very useful (even though thinking of things to pack still feels like one of my most exhausting chores–and we’re only halfway through the current school year!). So, when I recently, noticed a book in the new nonfiction collection, I thought I’d check it out and see if it was worth adding to the FMC’s other great suggestions. I’m happy to report it is!

Weelicious Lunches: Think Outside the Lunch Box with More Than 160 Happier Meals by Catherine McCord is an absolute gem. First of all, it is a very visually appealing book (which makes sense considering that one of the early sections focuses on “Engaging All the Senses”). McCord discusses how parents have to think beyond just packing healthful options to what their kids will do when they’re in the cafeteria without Mom or Dad around. Parents not only have to battle with what school cafeterias are sometimes serving (she mentions the infamous pizza sauce as a vegetable Congress decision), but also what other kids are bringing to school (she aptly names it “lunch box envy”), as well we the many distractions kids face at lunchtime. She explains: “If you want raise great eaters you have to appeal to all your child’s senses. Sometimes half the battle of making sure your kids eat at school is ensuring that what’s inside their lunch box is as stimulating as everything you can be sure is going on come lunchtime outside of it.”

Secondly, the book takes into consideration all kinds of eaters and situations. For example, “Principles of the Perfect Lunch” addresses the need for balance in a child’s diet and, consequently, the lunch box. McCord offers up some useful options to fill your child’s fruit, vegetable, protein, and carbohydrate needs. She also provides specialized lists of the recipes in the book to offer up good lunch box combos, theme lunches, and ideas for those with food sensitivities and allergies. Speaking of which, she also provides a very handy “Weelicious Lunches Allergy Guide” to help you skirt gluten, nuts, eggs, and dairy as needed. There are also suggestions for incorporating dinner leftovers into lunches, a discussion of whether to pack hot or cold foods and what to pack them in, and (my personal favorite favorite) “Strategies for ‘Picky’ Eaters.”

weelicious aFinally, the book has recipes, lots of lovely recipes. She divides them up nicely into the following categories: Salad, Soups, Sandwiches, Pizza (yep, 10 variations on the theme of pizza),  PB&J (if you were impressed by 10 variations on pizza, try 11 takes on pb&j, including one promisingly called “The World’s Greatest PB&J”), Main Events, Veggies, Dips and Spreads, Snacks, and Desserts. Again, there are many beautiful pictures, and a lot of the recipes make me hungry just looking at them (of course this may be a testament to my immaturity).

Many of the recipes in this book translate to meals beyond the lunch box. There are also many great recipes and tips on the Weelicious website. But next I think I’m going to check out McCord’s older book Weelicious: 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes. It also provides recipes; recommendations to turn your kids into good, healthy eaters; and, most appealingly, ways to turn dinner into a “one family, one meal” occasion.  That sounds like absolute bliss to me!

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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