Surveys confirm that the No 1 worry among older Americans is running out of cash. Fortunately, financial planners have come up with sound ways to prevent this. Give yourself some peace of mind and put some of these general rules into action.
THE MAGIC NUMBER: The key to long-term planning is knowing one essential number: how much money you can afford to spend annually. From there, you can adjust your expenses to fit. Your two main sources:
- Your personal savings and investments
- Your guaranteed income from other sources
STEP 1. TALLY YOUR GUARANTEED INCOME. The most common source is Social Security. You might also have a pension or annuity. If you own a reliable rental property, include the amount of rent you receive after expenses.
STEP 2. ESTIMATE YOUR INCOME FROM SAVINGS. How much annual income can you prudently take from your savings and investments? Simple rule of thumb:
- Add up the current value of your spendable assets (bank accounts, mutual funds, stocks and bonds. Include both retirement and non-retirement savings)
- Subtract from that total a cash cushion to help cover near-term expenses
- Then take 4 percent of what remains
That’s the “safe” amount of your assets that financial planners say you can afford to spend in the first year of retirement without running the risk that your savings will run out. In each subsequent year, take the same dollar amount plus an increase for inflation.
STEP 3. TOTAL YOUR INCOME. Add that “safe” 4 percent amount to your annual guaranteed income. For example, if you’re due $20,000 from Social Security and take $4,000 from a $100,000 nest egg, you’ll have $24,000 that you can safely use for living expenses, including any taxes.
Step 4. SET YOUR BUDGET. Finally, divide your expected yearly income by 12 to get your available monthly cash. And that’s it. Don’t worry about inflation; your income should keep up with inflation, thanks to Social Security’s cost-of-living increases and the annual increases you take from savings.
(by Jane Bryant Quinn for AARP Bulletin, December 2018)
(Marlo Thomas shares lessons from a lifetime of charity work)
Actress Marlo Thomas, 80, grew up with charity at the center of her life. Her father, entertainer Danny Thomas, founded St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., to provide state-of-the-art care for children with life-threatening diseases at no cost to their families. After her father’s death in 1991, Thomas became national outreach director for St Jude and helped turn it into one of the world’s leading pediatric cancer research centers. Over the years, she’s developed a unique perspective on the psychology of giving and what it takes to cultivate a generous heart.
—You don’t have to be a zillionaire to change the world. The biggest misconception people have about charity, Thomas says, is that giving a little bit doesn’t help. “My father used to say that he’d rather have a dollar from every American than a million dollars from a few,” she says. “Every dollar really does help. St Jude costs $2.8 million a day to run, and the majority of that comes from small gifts.”
—Listen to what moves you. That’s the most important first step. When Marlo’s father died, she offered to fill in for him at the hospital. In time, she got hooked emotionally. “One day I walked into the medicine room and saw a little boy jump up on a stool and shout, ‘Mommy, I don’t have cancer anymore!’” she says. “How do you not get moved by that? I knew then that I wanted to be in a room where every child stands up and says, ‘Mommy, I don’t have cancer anymore!’”
—Give, even in uncertain times. It’s too early to tell what impact the new tax laws are going to have on giving, Thomas says. “People are being very careful about where they put their dollars, especially people on fixed income,” she says. “When things are volatile, people hang on to what they have to be sure that they will be safe.”
—Observe the needs around you. “I think taking care of people is all about noticing,” says Thomas. “Most people walk down the street and there’s a homeless guy lying there or a woman with some cans in a bag, but they don’t see it.” During Thanksgiving week, Thomas will appear on the Today show with children from St Jude to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the hospital’s Thanks and Giving program. “That’s where awareness comes in,” she says. “Real stories interest people. It puts a face on giving.”
—Find a role model. For Thomas, it was Mother Teresa: “I read a book in which a novice asks her, ‘How can you pick up those dirty, old sick people on the street and wash them?’ Mother Teresa said, ‘Every one of them is Jesus in a different disguise.’ When I first read that line I thought, Wow! Imagine if we all went through life looking at people as if they were Muhammad or Abraham or Jesus. How would we behave then?
—Cultivate gratitude. When their grandchildren were younger, Marlo and her husband, Phil Donahue, gave each of them $40 a year and told them to give it away. “They’d take time figuring out what really mattered to them.” She recalls. “It showed that money isn’t just something you spend on yourself. It grew their gratitude. That’s what you’re trying to do with children: grow their spirit.”
—Never underestimate your impact. One of Thomas’ most moving stories is about Ira Jackson, a retiree on Social Security who managed to donate a little to St Jude every month. Then he got a terminal illness. In a letter to the hospital during his final days, he wrote, “I’m prepared to die, but I’m concerned that the little children won’t have a chance to grow into healthy adults. My last wish is for you to use this letter to find someone to take my place.” The hospital shared his letter and got 900 new donors who gave hundreds of thousands of dollars. “Ira knew that when he died, he would leave a hold behind,” Thomas says. “He donated about $80 total. It wasn’t billions, but it was a lot of money to him. He gave us as much as he could and was worried when he left that there wouldn’t be any more. I love that story.”
(written by Hugh Delehanty for AARP Bulletin, November 2018)
AFTER CAREGIVING (Part 1)
(When looking after a loved one becomes your life, what is your life when that person’s gone?)
Almost every night for 13 years, Sylvia Brown slept by her ailing mother’s side. Then suddenly, she was alone. Brown had been the primary caregiver to Johnnie Mae, paralyzed on her right side from a 2003 stroke. They shared a bedroom in their Detroit condo by choice—Brown wanted to be close enough to hear her mom’s breathing. That lasted until two years ago, when Johnnie Mae died at 81.
Some nights still, Brown, 65, awakens and imagines Johnnie Mae sleeping next to her. During the day, Brown remembers the tasks that consumed so many hours of each day for so many years. She would prepare meals, get Mom situated in her chair, make sure the important items—the TV remote, her Bible—were within arm’s reach. With Johnnie Mae’s passing, “it’s like a huge hole, or vacancy, or void in your life,” says Brown, “because the feeling is, Now what?”
Now what, indeed. Caring for another adult—as about 40 million US adults do, according to a recent AARP Public Policy Institute report—can be demanding to the point that caregivers put much of their own lives on hold. When those duties suddenly end, the caregiver is left not only grieving but also processing new emotions about their own station in life.
“Some find they’re not quite sure what to do with themselves because their reason for getting up in the morning, their all-consuming job, has now ended,” says Ruth Drew, director of information and support services for the Alzheimer’s Association. “Some people tell me that for the first six months to a year they’re just finding their bearings, and it takes awhile to feel like themselves again.”
The Bulletin talked with several former caregivers about the struggles they faced in this major life transition. Here are some lessons they learned….
DON’T LET ISOLATION OVERCOME YOU. It may sound obvious, but it is also essential: Stay busy to fight loneliness and depression. Find that thing that gives you purpose. “With me, traveling is it,” says Brown, a chief clinical officer for the Detroit Area Agency on Aging. Brown had been able to take her mother on trips, and even without her, she continues to pursue that passion. She jumps on planes for excursions to Las Vegas, New Orleans, Florida, Jamaica and Cuba; a trip to Nigeria with a coworker is in the works. “As they say, life goes on, and so, I cannot just go and bury my head in the sand because I have hopefully a few more years, so you fill that with things to do.”
Jeannie Moloo, 57, found relief in writing. “I was almost a cortisol junkie, or adrenalin junkie,” says the nutrition lecturer at California State University, Sacramento. That was life caring for her ailing husband, Nasir, while raising three children. “It was just run from one thing to the next to the next to the next. When you live that way, you don’t have to process a lot of emotions because you’re just running around, putting out fires.”
Moloo is now writing a book about her husband’s 12-year battle with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (he died in 2014), its impact on her family and what she learned. “We had promised each other—and this is going to make me cry—that we would take this experience so that we could make something out of it to help others,” she says, “because we went through so much.”
AFTER CAREGIVING (Part 2)
YOU’LL EXPERIENCE UNEXPECTED EMOTIONS. The range of emotions that emerge after the death of a loved one can take caregivers by surprise, says C. Grace Whiting, CEO and president of the National Alliance for Caregiving. Sadness is common, of course, but so are frustration and anger. And Guilt. Ex-caregivers often feel a sense of relief that their difficult duties are over. And then they feel shame about feeling that way.
For 18 months, Rita Scott, of Terrell, Texas, rarely left her husband’s side as his health failed from diabetes complications. Since Gerald’s death in 2015 at 71, Scott has had to sort out complex feelings. She felt relief “as a result of knowing Gerald didn’t want to live in the condition he was in.” She felt some relief for herself, too. “The physical and emotional toll was great, brought about by months of lack of sleep and caring for Gerald’s needs. I also experienced built because I wasn’t actually in the room and by his side when he died.”
Scott, 75, relied on a close friend, a support group and her faith to guide her. Writing in a journal also helped. She even wrote a letter to Gerald, telling him her regrets. Then, in a gesture to release her guilt, she ripped it up.
THE HARD PART MAY COME LATER. Scott knew that the first year would be tough. She didn’t expect that the second year after caregiving would be tougher. “You kind of think that something magical will happen at the end of the first year,” Scott says. “You think, I’ve been through all the first and so, OK, now suck it up and get on with life. But that doesn’t happen.
At least in the months after Gerald’s passing, she could immerse herself in managing family business matters and ensuring that holidays weren’t too painful for their three children and 16 grandchildren. Then reality set in: This is your new life. There’s no going back.”
As a “supporting actress” to Gerald during their 53-year marriage, Scott wasn’t used to making friends by herself. So she found a new church where people could see her as Rita, not Gerald’s wife. “I didn’t know who I was for a while, but then I determined I am still worthy of friendships and of life,” she says. “And I was determined if anything was going to happen, I was going to have to make it happen. One of the hardest things I ever did was to walk through those doors to a different church for the first time alone, but I knew I had to do it.”
PUT OFF THE BIG THINGS. When caregiving ends, other major life changes, such as selling a house or remarrying, should be delayed for a while, advises Drew of the Alzheimer’s Association. Exhaustion and grief can cloud decisions.
“Give yourself time to go through everything you go through the first year, and then think about the changes you might want to make,” Drew says. “I would counsel people to move slowly.”
Moloo can relate. “Initially, after my husband died, I wanted to run from everything,” she says. “Sell our house, uproot the children and move to another area altogether, thinking I’d get us away from the suffering and loss with a fresh start. I’m glad I didn’t. Keeping with our family routines, in the comfort of our home where my husband lived with us, has provided solace for my family these past few years.”
IT’S OK TO MOVE ON. As couples sometimes do, Mel and Barbara Schwimmer would talk about how each would manage if the other died first. They both agreed they’d find a way to get on with life without the other.
After Barbara was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in her early 60s, Mel cared for her for a decade at home—feeding, bathing and dressing his wife, dispensing her medication and calming her panic attacks. She eventually entered a memory care facility. Schwimmer, 85, couldn’t have predicted that the illness that took Barbara last year would connect him to his next chapter. He met Elizabeth Lees, 69, whose spouse also died of the disease, in an Alzheimer’s support group.
Initially, Schwimmer and Lees shared their grief, then friendship, and now a new chapter that he call “storybook.” They travel, dine out and go dancing, to her rock n roll or his jazz. Together they enjoy activities that they couldn’t do while caring for their spouses. “I would have never thought it would happen, and it did,” Schwimmer says. “You can love a person forever, and when that person is no longer here, you still have room in your heart for somebody else.”
(written by Mary Helen Berg for AARP Bulletin, November 2018)
- 4 tilapia fillets (6 ounces each)
- 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
- 3/4 cup chopped roasted sweet red peppers
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Hot cooked pasta, optional
- Sprinkle fillets with seasoned salt; drizzle with lemon juice. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. Add tomatoes, peppers, broth, tomato paste, garlic powder and oregano; cook and stir 2-3 minutes longer.
- Place fillets over tomato mixture; cook, covered, 6-8 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. If desired, serve with pasta.
1 fillet with 1/2 cup sauce (calculated without pasta): 254 calories, 8g fat (2g saturated fat), 83mg cholesterol, 740mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate (4g sugars, 2g fiber), 34g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 5 lean meat, 1-1/2 fat, 1 vegetable.
Originally published as Savory Skillet Tilapia in Taste of Home September/October 2013
(These techniques could shave hundreds of dollars a year off your rates, experts say)
SHOP OFTEN. “I recommend doing this at least once a year, if not at each six-month renewal,” says Michelle Megna, managing editor of CarInsurance.com.
The savings can be tremendous. A rate analysis by CarInsurance.com shows the average savings you get from comparing rates range between $350 and $3,000, depending on what state you live in. The reason for the variability is varied: From your local weather, theft & vandalism rates, medical & litigation costs, age, driving record, gender & occupation…all play a part. Each insurer plugs dozens of different data points into its equation to come up with a unique price for you. No two companies calculate rates the same way. And data changes over time.
It’s particularly important to shop around when milestone events occur, whether positive or negative in nature. They include:
- Purchasing a car
- Adding or removing a driver from a policy
- Getting married or divorced
- Buying a house
- Getting a DUI or other major violation
- Being in an accident
- Having a significant change in credit score
REVIEW THE DISCOUNT MENU. Don’t just rely on an insurance agent to tell you which discounts you qualify for; ask for the full menu that the company offers and review it carefully. You might find a few that aren’t so obvious.
GROOM YOUR CREDIT REPORT. CarInsurance.com’s rate analysis found that rates for drivers with fair credit scores were, on average, 17 percent higher than rates for those with good credit scores. Rates for drivers with poor credit were even higher: 67 percent more than those for drivers with good credit.
CONSIDER GIVING UP SMOKING. “Most car insurance companies don’t ask if you’re a smoker or not,” says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst at CarInsurance.com. Still, there are exceptions. A few car insurance companies may inquire about your smoking habit and charge you higher rates if you say yes. This has everything to do with their internal claims data. “It’s likely these companies have data that shows smokers are more likely to be in accidents,” says Gusner. If you’re a smoker and aren’t ready to quit, ask your insurer if your habit factors into your rates. If it does, consider shopping elsewhere.
CHANGE YOUR DEDUCTIBLES. A deductible is the amount you pay for a repair before insurance coverage kicks in. Often, people buy insurance with a deductible of $500. But if you can afford it—or truly believe in your ability to avoid causing an accident—consider raising your deductible to $1,000 or higher. “You can save up to about 30 percent off your monthly premiums by hiking your deductible,” says Megna.
LOWER COVERAGE FOR OLDER CARS. “Don’t buy comprehensive and collision insurance if you have a car that’s more than 10 years old and worth less than $3,000,” says Gusner. State laws generally mandate only that you buy insurance that covers damage to others. Comprehensive and collision coverage for your own car is optional (unless the car is still financed; most finance companies require these coverages). Why pay hundreds of dollars a year for coverage that at most will pay out the full value of a car worth just a few thousand dollars?
(Written by Warren Clarke for AARP Bulletin, November 2018)
(Complete your estate plan with this one last bit of paperwork)
Let’s assume you’re well-organized. All your personal papers are in order, your will and living will are up to date, and you’ve named a health care proxy. You’ve readied final instructions and listed which of your heirs get which personal mementos. Are you done?
No. As helpful as all your preparations are going to be, nowhere have you mentioned love.
VJ Periyakoil, MD, a specialist in geriatrics and palliative care at the Stanford University Medical Center, has had countless conversations with people near the end of their lives. The most common thing they talk about, she says, is regret—regret that they hadn’t spoken enough loving words to their spouse, or told their children how much they cared, or apologized for doing something hurtful, or thanked a special friend.
It’s not too late, as long as your still can put pen to paper (or hand to keyboard). Think about writing your family or best friend a “last letter,” showing what’s in your heart. Your words will make their lives a little better.
It’s often tough to get started on such a letter, especially when you’re still healthy and don’t feel an immediate need. But there’s help. The Stanford Letter Project, founded by Periyakoil, offers a friends-and-family letter template for your thoughts, as well as suggestions on what to include. You’ll find the template and sample letters at med.stanford.edu/letter/friendsandfamily.
Good letters start the way you might expect—acknowledging the important people in your life, telling them that you love them and expressing pride in their achievements. Maybe you think you don’t have to write these things down because you’ve said them already. But spoken words sometimes get lost in the family scrum. Written, they can be held in the hand, and cherished, for life. You might also mention treasured moments you spent with your child, family or friend.
Next comes a harder part—the apology section. Many patients, looking back, find themselves pained by specific actions or behaviors that hurt one of the people they love, Periyakoil says. She urges you to say you’re sorry. One letter won’t fix, say, a distant relationship with a sister. But it might make her (and you) feel a little better. If you write this letter while still healthy, it might even impel you to try healing that relationship. In this respect, these letters become what Periyakoil calls a CT scan of your soul. They can open new paths while you’re still alive. You might also forgive anyone you love who has hurt you in the past, if you can. It’s solace for those you love, and cathartic for you. If you can’t forgive, keep mum. A last letter from you should be one of love and reconciliation, not spite. Death does not end your responsibility to those you leave behind.
Finally, remember to thank people for the love and care that you have received, and say goodbye.
Once you’re finished, put the letter (or letters) with your will or in a drawer where you store precious things. When you’re ready, consider delivering the letter yourself. For your family, it will be an abiding gift. (As written by Jane Bryant Quinn for AARP Bulletin, November 2018)
(By exercising as little as 10 minutes every other day, you could reverse the effects of aging on a cellular level)
Fitness marketers often use extreme language (“Breakthrough!” “Miraculous!”) to describe the latest hot workout or gear. But scientists and doctors are now using superlatives to discuss what many consider to be one of the most important new fitness approaches in decades: high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, an approach to exercise that people can do in relatively little time, but with oversize benefits.
If you ever did wind sprints in high school, then you know what HIIT is—brief bursts of very intense exercise followed by periods of slower, less-demanding work. Studies are showing that HIIT is an effective way for older people to build muscle, regulate insulin, cut fat and increase heart function. And for people just starting HIIT, it may take as little as one minute of hard work three times a week to see marked improvements.
Perhaps most exciting of all: HIIT seems to be able to turn back the clock on a cellular level, improving the function of mitochondria (the battery cells of the body). And the older you are, the greater its impact, according to studies. Example A: Robert Marchand, who turns 107 this month.
When he was 101, Marchand set a world record for how far a centenarian cyclist could ride in an hour. But today, Marchand appears to be getting even stronger than he was when he set the record—so much so, in fact, that in the past few years his peak pedal power has increased by an incredible 40 percent. When measured last year, Marchand had the fitness of the average 50-year-old, thanks to HIIT.
Here are just a few of the other ways HIIT can improve your life:
- Boost your youth hormones. A study of 22 sedentary men in their 60s found that regular exercise plus HIIT sprints on a bike increased their testosterone by 17 percent in 12 weeks.
- Recharge your cells. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that people ages 65 to 80 who incorporated HIIT into their walking or biking programs made more proteins for their energy-producing mitochondria, effectively slowing down aging at a cellular level.
- Lose your belly. Another study of sedentary women compared 20 minutes of HIIT with 40 minutes of steady-state exercise. The HIIT subjects were the only ones who lost fat—primarily belly fat.
- Protect your heart. In a study of nearly 5,000 people with heart disease, researchers found that HIIT did more to protect the subjects from future heart problems than traditional moderate workouts.
- Keep active longer. A Japanese study put 696 people of middle age or older on a walking program that incorporated HIIT training. Seventy percent were still doing the workout 22 months later.
If you are still thinking I’m too old for wind sprints, here’s the good news: You can get all the benefits of HIIT just by tweaking whatever exercise you do today. And if you’re not exercising, you can unlock the benefits of HIIT by walking—for as little as 10 minutes.
(written by Foy Furchgott for AARP Bulletin, November 2018)
A “rapidly growing epidemic” of fraudulent cellphone calls will result in almost half of all mobile calls next year being initiated by scammers, according to research by First Orion. That worries federal regulators, who say fake calls defraud consumers out of hundreds of millions of dollars every year. First Orion says it based its projection on the rate at which it was seeing those calls increase, after analyzing 50 billion calls over the past 18 months. The Federal Communications Commission said the study aligns with complaints from consumers. “Scam calls are a areal threat, especially for vulnerable populations like senior citizens,” FCC spokesman Will Wiquist said via email. Adam Panagia, At & T’s director of global fraud management, said, “It is clear that complaints are going up,” but AT & T is not seeing the type of dramatic increase First Orion forecasts. Verizon did not respond to requests for comment. Calls with telemarketing sales messages or scams are illegal unless authorized by the person being called.
NEW CONCERNS FOR DAILY ASPIRIN
(5-year study suggests it may do more harm than good)
A baby aspirin a day keeps the doctor away? Maybe not. A clinical trial suggests low-dose aspirin not only doesn’t reduce the risk of heart disease, it may also increase cancer deaths. Three papers in the New England Journal of Medicine recently documented a study led by Australia’s Monash University that followed 19,000 people, most over age 70, for five years. Half took 100 mg of low-dose aspirin a day. The rest took a placebo. More aspirin takers—3.1 percent—died of cancer than placebo takers—2.3 percent. The overall death rate for aspirin takers was 5.9 percent, compared with 5.2 percent for those who took placebos. Researchers can’t yet explain the results.
(As written in the AARP Bulletin, November 2018)
So while we write about all of our health, financial, family, growing older problems throughout the year…..at the end of it all… (the year, that is)…. My mind tends to wander to what we should be grateful for…..
While we did have some flooding in our little area of Benton PA this year….. Bailey Park was not affected. The water was down in town by later that afternoon…. Most importantly, no lives were lost.
We had one major snowstorm, a few heavy windstorms that left a few of us without power for a few days; not much summer due to all the rain & now the cold weather is starting to come in…
I’d say we are extremely fortunate compared to what happened in Texas, Florida & now, California.
So getting past the weather….. What did you accomplish this year?
Did you get your health on track? Have you been using the gym at the clubhouse? Have you been walking when the weather is nice out?
Is your financial situation stable? Are you able to pay your bills with no problems?
Are things good in your family? You visit them & they visit you? Keeping communications open?
Are you getting organized or have you already accomplished that? If so, good for you!
Do you have some down time or vacation planned for next year? If so, where?
(Maybe someone else has been there and can shed some light on places to go).
Did you take advantage of the Pickleball / Shuffleboard court this year? (I know, it rained a lot)…. But there were some nice days.
Did you volunteer at all in 2018? Donate to any charities? Why / why not?
Your thoughts have been wandering to Bailey Park but you just aren’t sure if it’s for you…..Give us a call at 570-925-2077 and schedule a visit….We are glad to show you around.
“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”
— Oren Arnold
From: Rick, Helen, Michele, Kevin, Rob, Andy & Dean
The holidays are synonymous with an abundance of rich foods and overindulgence. Finding the right balance of comfort food, decadent desserts and healthy recipes for every family member’s palette can be a challenge; especially for caregivers balancing meals for seniors and other family members.
November 1 through the New Year suggests “holiday mode,” often accompanied by overeating and stress — especially for the caregiver trying to accommodate so many people. But finding the balance of joy and healthy habits is also a possibility during the holidays.
Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating
Most people are unaware that we lose our taste buds as we age. It becomes harder to taste spices and the elements of the foods that we recognize, which can make eating less enjoyable — and even become a chore.
As this happens, foods may begin to lose their appeal, which is why many people tend to lose their appetites. So on top of dietary restrictions that go with medical conditions, it’s more difficult for seniors to satisfy their taste buds with the foods they once loved and get the recommended healthy caloric intake they need to thrive.
This can be especially challenging for caregivers who are cooking for every family member and try to balance healthy cooking with tasty meals.
The good news? There are ways to awaken everyone’s taste buds without loading dishes with sugar, salt and fat. Here are a few nutrition and healthy eating tips to make your family’s favorite holiday recipes healthier, according to A Place for Mom’s nutrition experts:
- Provide a ‘touch’ of sweetness with natural spices and ingredients. Reducing sugar by half of what the regular recipe calls for and supplementing the sweetness with citrus, vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg — whatever works best with the recipe — is a an effective healthy, yet tasty, cooking best practice. Even honey and molasses can be used to add a touch of healthier sweetness to a favorite dessert or holiday beverage. And fresh or unsweetened frozen fruit is a great way to add a little natural sweetness, not to mention, presentation appeal.
- Substitute the fat with healthy alternatives. When baking, unsweetened applesauce, mashed bananas and prune puree can make a surprisingly delightful substitute for fatty ingredients; just substitute half the fat with the desired substitute. Instead of using whole milk, use skim milk in dessert and drink recipes. There’s even a healthy alternative for gravy. Heat fat-free, low-sodium broth— or drippings with the fat removed — and slowly add a concoction of mixed flour and cold skim milk to the broth until desired thickness is achieved. Season to your family’s liking.
- Slash the salt with lower-sodium options. Substitute salt with fresh herbs and flavored vinegars. When it comes to sodium-heavy condiments, such as mustard, pickles and ketchup, try fresh tomatoes, salsas or cucumber slices. Sometimes even lower-sodium versions of condiments are available — you just have to be diligent about checking the nutrition label when shopping.
Delicious and healthy don’t need to be oxymorons — the two can actually compliment one another, as described above.
(By Dana Larsen for https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/12-14-15-tips-for-healthy-holiday-eating/)