Cook-Off Winning Chili Recipes

Even though Spring is approaching in just three short weeks, it certainly still feels like we’re in the dead of winter in most parts of the country. When the temperature dips below freezing, the one thing everyone really wants is something warm and comforting for dinner. Soups and stews are high on the list, along with cheesy casseroles and lots of starches like pasta and potatoes. And speaking of a warm bowl of comfort, today happens to be National Chili Day!

Somewhere between a soup and a stew, chili holds a special place in the heart of virtually all Americans. The word “chili” is simply short for “chili con carne”, which is Spanish for chili peppers with meat. Most people would agree that chili consists of chili peppers, meat, tomatoes, onions and garlic. But here’s where it gets complicated! Texans (and those in Cincinnati) mainly agree that true chili doesn’t have any beans it in at all, while the rest of the nation pretty much disagrees, using everything from kidney to pinto to black beans and beyond. Then there are all the vegetarian versions. In fact, it might not even be red! White variations of chili have become popular in recent decades. Long story short, when you look at how many different types there are, it’s safe to say that people’s definition of what “chili” actually is – that’s up for debate.

Chili Cook-Offs

The concept of chili-cooking competitions began in the 1950s in Texas, and soon began cropping up all over the United States. ICS, the International Chili Society, is head of most of the nation’s official cook-offs, with the culmination at the World Championship Chili Cook-Off. This year it takes place in Des Moines, Iowa, where hundreds of chili cooks will be competing for cash prizes. The categories range from Traditional Red to Chile Verde, homestyle to even salsa. Here are some of our favorite cook-off winning chili recipes!

Image: Shutterstock

Hot Rod Chili

Debbie Ashman, winner of the Terlingua International Chili Championship, shared her Texas-style beanless chili recipe with Esquire magazine. This recipe is really interesting because she has “stages” to her cooking – at a certain time, a section of the recipe is added – stew for 45 minutes, add the next section. And she gets very specific, down to the brands of spices and canned goods.

Award Winning White Chili

Image: Shutterstock

Food & Wine Magazine shares the winner of a Kanas City cook-off, a deliciously creamy white chicken chili full of Great Northern beans that soak overnight. And this chili turns up the heat, with green chilies, cumin, Monterey jack pepper cheese, cayenne pepper and jalapeños as a garnish. Feeling hot, hot, hot!

Image: Shutterstock

Beef & Been Chili

Modern Honey posted an award-winning chili recipe that really grabbed our attention. Why? Two words: Dr. Pepper.  Yes, you’re reading that correctly. There are many other unique ingredients in this recipe, including a packet of Ranch dressing mix and delicious Ancho chile powder. Enjoy!

Award-Winning Weeknight Chili

Image: Shutterstock

Chelsea, owner of the blog Life with My Littles, won her local church’s chili cook-off with this Easy Chili recipe. We thought the ingredients were so interesting that we had to share it! Creamed corn and tomato soup aren’t things you usually see on a pot of chili’s ingredients list, but hey, it’s good enough to win a cook-off! It sounds creamy and oh-so-comforting.

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Show us YOUR favorite chili recipe!

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Medical News Today: 12 natural ways to relieve pain

Over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are effective pain relievers, but long-term use can cause side effects. Prescription medications may be addictive and have even more adverse effects. What are the best natural ways to relieve pain?

People have used essential oils, herbs, and alternative therapies as natural pain relievers for hundreds of years.

Researchers have not fully explored these options, but some evidence suggests that certain remedies can help, and that many people find them useful.

In this article, we discuss 12 natural pain relievers and the science behind them. Read on to learn how to manage pain naturally without relying on over-the-counter pain medication.

1. Lavender essential oil

natural pain killers lavender
Inhaling lavender essential oil may help relieve pain and anxiety.

Lavender essential oil may help relieve pain naturally. People use lavender oil for pain relief, to help sleep, and to ease anxiety.

A small-scale 2012 study found that inhaling lavender oil may relieve pain associated with migraine headaches compared with a placebo.

Some research also suggests that lavender oil has pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects in animals.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not currently regulate essential oil ingredients and dosages, so use them with caution. Always talk to a doctor before using any new essential oils.

Do not ingest essential oils, as they can be toxic. If applying an oil topically, always dilute it in a carrier oil. Learn more about carrier oils here.

People can choose from a range of lavender essential oils online.

2. Rosemary essential oil

Rosemary is another essential oil that may relieve pain.

Some researchers state that the rosemary plant, Rosmarinus officinalis L., may help treat headache, muscle and bone pain, and seizures. Rosemary may also reduce inflammation, relax smooth muscles, and boost memory.

Dilute essential oils in a carrier oil such as olive oil. Use three to five drops of essential oil for each ounce of carrier oil.

The researchers suggest that the herb acts on receptors in the brain called opioid receptors, which are involved with the sensation of pain. A 2013 clinical trial found that rosemary oil reduced pain in people experiencing opium withdrawal.

People can choose from a range of rosemary essential oils online.

3. Peppermint essential oil

Peppermint oil comes from the Mentha piperita L. plant.

Some research suggests that the peppermint plant has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and pain-relieving effects. The active compounds in peppermint oil include carvacrol, menthol, and limonene.

People often use diluted peppermint essential oil as a topical treatment, meaning that they rub diluted oil into the area that feels achy or painful.

One 2015 review notes that people have traditionally used peppermint to relieve painful spasms and problems associated with arthritis.

The researchers also report that applying peppermint oil to the temples and forehead may relieve tension headache pain.

Avoid putting peppermint oil on broken skin. It can cause allergic reactions, so do a spot test before using peppermint oil on a painful area. Do not use peppermint oil around children.

People can choose from a range of peppermint oils online.

4. Eucalyptus essential oil

The final essential oil on this list of natural ways to relieve pain is eucalyptus oil. This herbal remedy from the Eucalyptus plant may help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation in the body.

One 2013 study found that inhaling eucalyptus oil relieved pain compared with almond oil. Participants inhaled eucalyptus oil for 30 minutes per day for 3 days. They were all recovering from knee replacement surgery.

Do not use eucalyptus oil around children or pets. Eucalyptus can trigger asthma. It is important to dilute it in a carrier oil before applying topically.

Also, so not diffuse eucalyptus in public. Eucalyptus essential oil is toxic if a person swallows it. Do a spot check to be sure that the skin is not going to react to eucalyptus applied topically.

People can choose from a range of eucalyptus essential oils online.

5. Cloves

People have traditionally used cloves, from the Eugenia caryophyllata plant, as a home remedy to relieve pain from toothache.

A 2006 study found clove gel to be as effective as benzocaine gel, which is a topical gel that dentists often use to reduce needle pain.

The researchers applied clove, benzocaine gel, or a placebo to the inside of the participants’ mouths. They reported lower levels of pain with both clove and benzocaine gels, but not with placebos.

More research is needed to see how effectively cloves could relieve other sorts of pain.

Researchers also believe that clove can have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antiviral activity.

People can choose from a range of clove oils online.

6. Capsaicin

People also use capsaicin, present in chili peppers, for natural pain relief. This substance can cause a mild burning or tingling sensation when a person applies it topically.

A 2011 study notes the important role that capsaicin topical creams and patches play in pain management. Many pain-relieving products contain capsaicin.

Researchers are not yet sure why it relieves pain, but some believe that it reduces the skin’s sensitivity to pain by working on the nociceptor fibers. These are nerves that carry pain signals.

People can find a range of capsaicin creams online.

7. Ginger

natural pain killers ginger
Eating ginger may accelerate recovery and reduce inflammation after exercise.

Ginger, or Zingiber officinale, is a root that shows promise as a natural pain reliever.

A 2015 systematic review found that ingesting 2 grams of ginger per day modestly reduced muscle pain from resistance exercise and running when people took it for at least 5 days.

The researchers also suggest that ginger may accelerate recovery and reduce inflammation related to exercise.

Try including ginger in the diet by adding raw ginger to smoothies or teas. People can also use ginger supplements, which are available in health stores and online. However, the natural, fresh ingredient may be more healthful.

Always talk to a doctor before taking any new supplement. Dietary supplements can have side effects and may interact with existing medication.

8. Feverfew

Feverfew, also called featherfew or bachelor’s buttons, is a medicinal plant. Traditional uses include treating fever, migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, toothaches, and stomach aches, as well as increasing breast milk.

Feverfew contains compounds that may reduce inflammation and muscle spasms. Some researchers believe that the key active compounds include sesquiterpene lactones and flavonoids.

The American Migraine Foundation state that there are mixed results about how effective feverfew is, but that it is probably helpful for preventing migraine headaches.

A 2011 research review concludes that feverfew flowers and leaves have analgesic, or pain-relieving, properties.

Feverfew can cause side effects such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and increased risk of bleeding. So, it is important to talk to a doctor before trying feverfew.

9. Turmeric

Curcuma, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, has pain-relieving qualities.

A small-scale 2014 study found that curcuma extract is as effective as ibuprofen for pain management in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis when a person takes it for 4 weeks.

Turmeric is also a common herbal remedy for reducing inflammation. To include turmeric in its natural form in the diet, try adding it to curries, smoothies, or juices.

People can also buy turmeric supplements online.

10. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an alternative therapy that advocates believe can help reduce pain. Recent research supports these beliefs.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) state that acupuncture can help with certain types of pain, including:

  • low back pain
  • neck pain
  • osteoarthritis or knee pain

It may also reduce how frequently people get tension headaches and could help prevent migraine headaches.

A 2018 meta-analysis found that acupuncture is an effective way to manage chronic pain. The researchers concluded that acupuncture could help with musculoskeletal pain, headache, and pain associated with osteoarthritis.

More research into the effects of acupuncture for other pain conditions is now needed, but increasing evidence is suggesting that acupuncture is effective for many types of pain.

In fact, acupuncture may help in more than 100 different conditions.

11. Yoga

natural pain killers yoga
Practicing yoga may help with back and neck pain.

Yoga is a physical meditation practice that may offer a way to manage pain naturally.

Managing back pain often includes stretching and physical therapy. Yoga provides this.

It incorporates breathing exercises, self-care, and relaxation methods, so practicing yoga may also relieve pain related to stress or anxiety.

A 2013 study found that yoga may improve low back pain.

The NCCIH state that yoga may help relieve low back pain and neck pain, but that there is not enough evidence that it can help for other conditions, such as headache, arthritis, or fibromyalgia.

12. Mindfulness meditation

People experiencing chronic pain are increasingly turning to mindfulness meditation as a natural treatment. More research is needed, but initial studies are promising.

A 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis looked at 38 studies and eventually concluded that mindfulness meditation can improve pain symptoms, depression, and quality of life. However, the authors say that larger studies are needed to see exactly how effective it is.

Benefits of natural methods

While many people use pain relief medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen with no problems, people who experience side effects can try using natural pain relievers. These include herbal remedies and traditional practices such as yoga and acupuncture.

One 2016 review links long-term acetaminophen use to an increased risk of heart attacks, bleeding in the digestive system, and impaired kidney function.

Meanwhile, some research suggests that long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen increases the risk of stomach ulcers, kidney failure, and stroke.

Some traditional remedies, such as yoga, mindfulness, and acupuncture, can also benefit a person’s mental health.

Herbal remedies could provide other health benefits alongside pain-relieving effects, such as having antioxidant effects to help keep the body healthy.

When to see a doctor

Natural pain relievers may not be as effective for all types of pain. They may not offer relief when pain is more severe. When this is the case, a person can add them to other pain management approaches to enhance the effect.

Anyone with severe pain, including pain related to an existing health condition, should speak to their doctor. They can advise how best to manage this.

Also, if a person starts experiencing pain and does not know the cause, they should see their doctor. They will diagnose and treat the condition that is causing the pain.

Outlook

When a person takes traditional pain relief medication as prescribed, with guidance from a doctor, it is a safe and effective way to manage pain.

Natural pain relievers, however, offer an alternative for people who want to avoid the long-term side effects of pain relief medication.

People can use essential oils by adding a few drops to a tissue or a steam bath and inhaling the vapor. People can also add the herbs and spices listed above to food. However, if a person is unable to do that, they can instead take them as supplements.

Mindfulness is easy to try at home. Many people may also be able to try yoga at home, for which there are many introductory videos available online.

To try acupuncture, it is best to visit a professional, certified practitioner.

Not every natural pain reliever will work for everyone. Some people may find that a natural option that works well for them in the long-term. Others may not be able to manage pain naturally and may prefer traditional medication.

Terrific Treats for the Break Room

This Friday March 1st is Employee Appreciation Day. If you’re looking for something delicious to send to the office, you’ve come to the right place! GiftTree specializes in delivering extraordinary, delicious gifts. Whether you have a team of twenty employees or a hundred, GiftTree has tons of delectable options. Let’s take a look at some terrific treats for the break room. Above all, employees should feel valued all year long. Let your employees know you appreciate their hard work – it doesn’t have to be Employee Appreciation Day to show your thanks!

Terrific Treats for the Break Room

There are so many ways to Recognize and Reward Employees – Companies with high employee engagement have 50% higher sales. They experience 22% higher productivity. Studies show that most employees feel happier and more productive at work after being positively recognized. As a result of this, they also feel more satisfied with their jobs. On a wider level, appreciation improves a company’s overall culture. For most, the ideal work environment is one where people are put first. By creating a culture of consistent recognition, you’re creating an environment that makes it a pleasure for employees to come to work every day.

Fresh Fruit Gifts

Decadent Chocolate Baskets

Cheese & Charcuterie Cookies & Brownies

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Medical News Today: What to know about DEXA scans

A DEXA scan usually assesses or measures bone density. It may also have uses in determining body composition, such as the percentage of lean muscle and fat.

The dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan uses two low-energy X-ray beams, which doctors direct toward the bones. Using dual energy levels separates the images into two components, including soft tissue and bone.

When determining whether a person has low bone density or whether the condition is getting worse, a DEXA scan tends to be more accurate than a typical X-ray because it can detect even small changes in bone loss.

Doctors also consider it more reliable than other methods of calculating body fat percentage, including underwater weighing.

Scan results may indicate the severity of bone loss and help doctors determine a person’s risk of developing a fracture.

When assessing body composition, the results may also help determine a person’s level of visceral fat, which the body stores around certain internal organs.

Purpose

doctor using a dexa scan on a patient
Doctors may use a DEXA scan to diagnose osteoporosis.

The most common purpose of a DEXA scan is to assess whether a person’s bones are weak and or at risk of fracture. It also helps a doctor diagnose osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis causes the bones to lose density or become thin. When the bones get thin, they also become fragile, which makes them more susceptible to breaks.

Determining whether a person has osteoporosis as early as possible is important to prevent the condition from becoming worse. It also reduces the risk of fractures.

A DEXA scan is also a useful diagnostic tool to assess whether or not osteoporosis is getting worse. After the first DEXA scan, a doctor will usually order another scan in a couple of years to determine whether the bone density has changed.

DEXA scans can also evaluate the effectiveness of any prescribed osteoporosis treatments. The scan may indicate worsening or improving bone density, or bone density that remains the same.

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, females over the age of 65 and males over age 70 should have a DEXA scan. The ideal frequency of scans may vary depending on the results.

People receiving treatment for osteoporosis may require a scan every 1 or 2 years.

Females who are postmenopausal but younger than 65 who also have risk factors for low bone density, such as steroid medication use or low body weight, should also have the scan.

The recommendation for females to undergo a DEXA scan at an earlier age than males is because they tend to develop loss of bone density sooner.

Procedure

A person does not need to prepare before they have a DEXA scan. They can eat and drink normally on the day of the procedure.

However, people who are taking calcium supplements will usually need to stop taking them around 24 hours before the scan.

Before the scan

An X-ray technician will perform the scan on an outpatient basis. People who are having the scan will change into a hospital gown and remove any metal objects they are wearing, such as jewelry and eyeglasses.

At the start of the scan, the person receiving the test lies on their back on the exam table. The technician will place an imaging device above them and an X-ray generator below them.

During the scan

During the procedure, the imaging arm moves slowly over the person’s body while a beam of low-dose energy passes through. When measuring bone density, the technician will usually scan the hips and spine. These are common locations of fractures in people with osteoporosis.

In some cases, the wrist, finger, and lower arm will undergo scanning. A procedure that doctors call a vertebral fracture assessment may also occur during a DEXA scan at some locations. This test determines whether a vertebral fracture risk is present.

When also measuring body composition, the entire body undergoes scanning. This measures skinfold thickness at specific sites on the body. Using an equation, it is possible to put the measurements together to determine a body fat percentage.

Safety and precautions

During the scan, people should remain still to prevent blurry images. The scan is painless and relatively quick, taking up to 30 minutes.

The DEXA scan is safe for most people. However, because it uses X-ray energy, there is exposure to radiation. People who are pregnant should talk with their doctor, who may advise them not to have the test.

Results

male patient speaking to doctor
A doctor can determine the most suitable treatment option by using the results of a DEXA scan.

The results of a DEXA scan for bone density use a system called a T-score. The T-score involves comparing a person’s scan with the bone density of a healthy young adult of the same sex.

The World Health Organization (WHO) provide the following definitions of bone density levels:

  • A T-score of -1.0 or higher is normal bone density.
  • A T-score of -1.1 to -2.4 indicates osteopenia, or low bone density.
  • A T-score of -2.5 or lower means a diagnosis of osteoporosis.

A DEXA scan may also report results using a Z-score, which reports the amount of bone a person has in comparison with other people of the same size, age, and sex. It can help determine whether something uncommon is leading to bone loss.

According to the International Society for Clinical Densitometry, a Z-score that is over -2.0 is considered normal. A score that is below -2.0 is what doctors interpret as below the normal range for the person’s age.

When the test also measures body composition, results include a total fat mass and total body fat percentage.

Takeaway

The DEXA scan is a useful diagnostic test that doctors use to determine whether a person has low bone density and or a higher risk of experiencing fractures.

The test may also provide information on body fat percentage.

The results of the scan can help a doctor determine whether treatment is necessary for osteoporosis and help monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Although the scan exposes the person to a small amount of radiation, the benefits are usually worth the risk.

The Best Employee Appreciation Gifts

March 1st is Employee Appreciation Day! Are you a business owner or part of an HR department? If so, Employee Appreciation Day is a perfect chance to show staff the work they do is valued. One of the best ways to show employee appreciation is with gifts. At all different price points, these tokens of gratitude send a message that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed! Here are some of the best employee appreciation gifts.

Personalized Delights for the Desk

Embossed Fine Leather Journal Desktop Artisan Compass
Personalized Leather Cord Traveler Personalized Thank You Wine Crate

GiftTree’s personalized gifts for Employee Appreciation Day are extraordinary. We pay special attention to the finishing touches of your gift, including a card bearing your personal message, ribbon and personalization.

Gift Baskets of Goodies for the Group

Bountiful Cellar Encore Gourmet
Orchard Harvest Four Seasons

Looking for something to send to a group? If so, our gourmet gift baskets are perfect. Imagine any of these showing up in the break room at the office! Your employees will enjoy every sip, nibble and moment of Employee Appreciation Day.

Fresh Flowers & Plants for the Office

Thank You Jewel Garden

Radiant Blooms Bouquet

Orchard Harvest Oceanside Garden

Order Today! You’ll have Guaranteed Delivery By Friday, March 1st.

Check out the rest! Explore more Employee Appreciation Gifts here!

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12 Creative Care Package Ideas and Printables

Loved ones can be scattered across the globe for a variety of reasons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be there for them. Send them a thoughtful care package to bring happiness, love and memories all wrapped up in an adorable box. From college kids to military members, these care package ideas are sure to deliver something sweet to your long-distance loved one.

We’ve included some unique printables to accompany your care package so you can dress up your gift for any occasion. They include box flap decorations that you can cut to size, fun tags to decorate with and matching stationery to write a heartfelt note.

For college students

college student care package printablesdownload student care package printables

For college students miles away from home, the second best thing to a visit from family is a surprise delivery in the mail. Care packages are a great way to send your love and let your college student know you’re thinking of them. Whether they’re a little homesick or under pressure during finals, these college care package ideas will send a little piece of home to comfort and encourage them.

Feeling under the weather

Catching a cold in college is hard to shake off, especially without mom there to make you feel better. Send medicine and feel-good items to your college student and let them know it’s okay to take a break to get some rest.

Care package ideas:

  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Cough drops
  • Tea
  • Mug
  • Microwavable soup
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Thermometer
  • Band-aids
  • Tissues
  • Hand sanitizer

Surviving finals week

Between spending hours in the library and attending study reviews after class, finals week causes a lot of stress for college kids. Sending a finals survival kit gives your college student a much-needed boost of energy and motivation to get through the week and finish strong.

Care package ideas:

  • Stress ball or fidget spinner
  • Coffee (or a gift card to a coffee shop)
  • Water bottle
  • Healthy snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, mixed nuts or trail mix
  • Study supplies like notecards, highlighters, colored pens and sticky notes
  • Candy and chocolate
  • Chewing gum
  • Stress relief candle
  • Headphones
  • Chapstick

Housekeeping supplies

Taking care of your own space with limited trips to the grocery store means frequently running out of common household items. Stock up your college student with some items they may forget to pick up and keep on hand.

Care package ideas:

  • Laundry detergent pods
  • Clothing hangers
  • Razors
  • Body wash
  • Toothbrushes
  • Q-tips
  • Sunscreen
  • Lotion
  • Scissors
  • Lint roller
  • Stain remover pen

For service members

military care package printabledownload service member care package printables

Send a care package full of supplies and personal items to your service member to remind them of their loved ones at home. Deployment can be a tough environment, but sending a mix of practical and thoughtful gifts can help your military member feel a little bit closer to home.

When shipping packages internationally, remember to keep in mind:

  1. Size and weight restrictions
  2. The time it takes for your package to ship (try to send non-perishable foods)
  3. Include a card listing the materials in case the package comes open
  4. Limit items since soldiers have limited personal space and storage
  5. Use resourceful packing materials your service member can reuse such as newspaper or plastic bags

Dear spouse

Sentimental items from home are a great way to send your love and allow your spouse to get a glimpse of life at home. Most of these items are small enough to be carried around and will mean the world to your military spouse!

Care package ideas:

  • Printed photos
  • Kids crafts from school
  • Calendar with family birthdays printed
  • Photo pendant
  • Flash drive of home videos
  • Stationery and stamps
  • Personal care items like baby wipes, deodorant and toothpaste
  • Interesting articles clipped or printed from the local newspaper or a magazine

Taste of home

Send some of your soldier’s favorite snacks to indulge in during their deployment. Some of the easiest snacks include non-perishable foods, hard packaged items (rather than in a plastic bag) and anything that can be added directly to water. Be sure to include some local tastes such as a local honey or barbeque sauce your troop can use to liven up their meals.

Care package ideas:

  • Hot cocoa
  • Chips and salty snacks
  • Candy (that won’t melt)
  • Fruit snacks
  • Cookies
  • Condiments like honey or hot sauce
  • Treats from a local restaurant like seasoning packets or dipping sauces

My hero

This superhero-themed care package is packed full of heroic treats and entertainment for your service member. Let them know how strong and appreciated they are with these fun items.

Care package ideas:

  • Superhero socks
  • Sports drinks (preferably powdered mixes)
  • Energy and granola bars
  • Jerky snacks
  • Board games
  • Playing cards
  • Movies or music loaded on a flash drive

For a long distance lover

care package for partner printabledownload lond distance care package printables

Long distance relationships make it tough to spend quality time with your significant other but that doesn’t mean you can’t bond in other ways. Let your boyfriend or girlfriend know you’re thinking of them by sending a care package their way. You may be celebrating a special anniversary or it could be just because. A care package will have to do until they can be in your arms again! And for when you’re able to physically be together, try some of these date ideas so you never run out of things to do.

Celebrating an anniversary

Whether you’re celebrating 1 month together or 10 years, send your partner a special gift in the mail and have a date night at home. These ultra-romantic gifts will make it seem like you’re not even apart. Take your date up a notch by sending your sweetie a flash drive or link to a secret playlist you created just for them.

Care package ideas:

  • Framed photo
  • Confetti
  • Chocolate
  • Travel sized cologne/perfume (via ground shipping only)
  • Rose petals
  • Candles
  • Lipstick or chapstick
  • Breathmints
  • Jewelry with initials or coordinates
  • Gift card for takeout so you can have a virtual date together

Travel themed

Miles apart means nothing to the heart. Celebrate your long-distance love with a travel-themed care package that proves “distance is just a test to see how far love can travel.”

Care package ideas:

  • Map marked with dream destinations or your next road trip
  • Luggage tag
  • Travel pillow
  • Passport holder
  • Sleep mask
  • Cozy socks
  • Travel sized toiletries
  • Pretzels
  • Peanuts
  • Magazines

Treat yourself

Treat your loved one to a spa night at home and pamper them with a special care package full of luxurious goodies. Tell your sweetie to put on some relaxing music, light some candles and cozy up for a chill night in.

Care package ideas:

  • Bath bomb
  • Face mask
  • Body lotion
  • Body scrub
  • Nail polish
  • Manicure set
  • Robe or pajamas
  • Fuzzy socks

For kids away at camp

camping care package printabledownload camp care package printables

Going to an overnight camp for the first time can be nervewracking for all involved, but your little camper will return with new friends and fun memories while you get some time to yourself. Whether it’s a summer camp, church camp or sports camp, your kids will appreciate a care package full of goodies and activities to keep them going through the week. Plus, at their age, nothing is more exciting than receiving mail!

Happy camper

Make sure your camper is staying protected from the sun and outdoors with these fun camping-themed ideas. Even if they aren’t staying in tents or cabins, you can give them the feel of an authentic camping trip!

Care package ideas:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Compass
  • Flashlight
  • Marshmallows
  • Graham crackers
  • Chocolate
  • Snacks like pretzels and popcorn

Busy bee

Even with all of the programs and activities planned, your little one may need some play ideas during their downtime to keep them from getting home-sick. Send a fun-packed care package with games and activities to keep them busy during free time.

Care package ideas:

  • Frisbee
  • Jump rope
  • Coloring books
  • Crayons
  • Stickers
  • Playing cards
  • Watercolor paints
  • Glowsticks
  • Inflatable beach ball
  • Outdoor scavenger hunt
  • Decorations for their cabin
  • Funny note from the family pet with a printed picture

Capture the memories

Although you can’t be there to capture all the fun they’re having at camp, this care package will help them document some of their favorite friends and memories.

Care package ideas:

  • Drawstring backpack that friends can sign
  • Colored permanent markers
  • Matching friendship bracelets
  • Journal with pen
  • Disposable camera (or two)
  • Silly photo props like fake mustaches and crazy sunglasses

Shipping tips for sending your care package

There are certain restricted items that can’t be shipped via ground or air transportation. Make sure your care package doesn’t contain the following so that it will successfully be delivered to your loved one.

Restricted shipping items:

  • Alcohol (beer, wine, liquor)
  • Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco
  • Lithium-ion batteries

Restricted items via air transportation:

  • Nail polish
  • Perfume
  • Matches

There’s always an occasion to send your love to someone. When you can’t be together, remind them how much they mean to you by sending a care package their way. Filled with goodies and personal items, you can send joy, comfort and memories to them no matter how far away they are. If you’re looking for more gifts to include in your care package, check out these last minute gift ideas.

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Medical News Today: Onions and garlic could protect against cancer

Aside from their ability to inject deep flavor into almost any meal, onions and garlic might also protect against cancer, according to a recent study.
Garlic and onion pattern
A recent study adds to the evidence that allium vegetables reduce cancer risk.

Garlic, onions, leeks, chives, and shallots are classed as allium vegetables.

They are grown throughout much of the world and form the bedrock of family meals far and wide.

Earlier studies have shown that certain compounds in allium vegetables — including flavanols and organosulfur compounds — are bioactive.

Some have been shown to hinder the development of cancer.

Scientists from the First Hospital of China Medical University recently set out to understand whether consuming greater amounts of these vegetables might prevent people from developing colorectal cancer. They recently published their results in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancer, also called bowel cancer, is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women in the United States.

Researchers are aware of certain dietary risk factors, such as consuming high levels of red or processed meats. However, they know less about foods that might protect against bowel cancer.

Unpeeling the onion

Scientists have already investigated whether allium vegetables could reduce bowel cancer risk. Although some have identified a significant effect, others have found either a small interaction or none at all.

The authors of the latest study believe that the variation in results is partly due to how data was collected. For instance, some studies combined all allium vegetables into one group for analysis, and others did not include data from some, less common, types of allium vegetable.

With this in mind, the researchers designed a study that would more faithfully capture the impact of allium vegetables on colorectal cancer risk.

To investigate, they matched 833 individuals with colorectal cancer with 833 control participants without it, who were similar in age and sex and who lived in similar locations.

Each participant was interviewed, and their dietary habits were recorded using a validated food frequency questionnaire.

The benefits of allium vegetables

The researchers found that, as theorized, there was a significant relationship between the level of allium vegetables that an individual consumes and their risk of colorectal cancer.

Specifically, in adults who consumed the highest levels of allium vegetables, the risk of developing colorectal cancer was 79 percent lower than those who consumed the lowest levels.

It is worth noting that in our research there seems to be a trend: the greater the amount of allium vegetables, the better the protection.”

Senior author Dr. Zhi Li

The inverse relationship was seen in the overall consumption of allium vegetables, as well as in specific types, namely garlic, garlic stalks, leeks, onions, and spring onions.

The correlation was also significant in both men and women. This is interesting because, in some earlier studies, differences were seen between the sexes. For instance, one study found a weakly protective effect in women and a slight increase in colorectal cancer risk in men.

As previously mentioned, past research into allium vegetables and colorectal cancer risk produced conflicting results. However, evidence in favor of the relationship is now growing.

For instance, a study with Southern European participants found “an inverse association between the frequency of use of allium vegetables and the risk of several common cancers.”

Similarly, a meta-analysis assessed links between allium vegetable intake and the presence of adenomatous polyps, which are precursors of colorectal cancer.

The authors concluded that “[h]igh intake of total allium vegetables may be associated with a risk reduction of colorectal adenomatous polyps.”

A simple dietary change

Dr. Li believes that this group of vegetables provides a simple lifestyle change that could help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Of course, consuming these vegetables alone will not reduce risk in a meaningful way, but used in conjunction with other dietary changes, they might make a difference.

The debate is likely to continue for some time; there is a dizzying array of reasons why allium-rich diets may seem (or not seem) to impact cancer risk. For example, how a vegetable is cooked can significantly alter its chemical composition.

This might help explain why studies conducted among different global populations had differing results; future studies would do well to take this into account.

Conclusions cannot yet be drawn, but, if the results are replicated, adding extra onions and garlic to our dishes may be a tasty way to reduce colorectal cancer risk.

Medical News Today: Sleep apnea: Daytime sleepiness might help predict cardiovascular risk

A recent study categorizing people with obstructive sleep apnea based on their differing symptoms found a strong link between excessive daytime sleepiness and cardiovascular disease.
Older man asleep in pajamas
OSA increases hypertension risk.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) causes sporadic airflow blockages during sleep.

All of the different types of sleep apnea, OSA is the most common.

Symptoms include snoring, daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and high blood pressure.

OSA occurs when the throat muscles relax too much to keep the airway open.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million adults in the United States have sleep apnea. If a person does not seek treatment, it can lead to several complications — one of which is cardiovascular disease.

Sleep apnea and cardiovascular problems

According to the American Thoracic Society, about 30 percent of people with high blood pressure, or hypertension, have OSA. Also, individuals with OSA have a 50 percent chance of developing hypertension.

However, researchers do not yet know why people with OSA are likelier to develop heart disease.

When these breathing pauses occur, the oxygen level in the blood gets low, and these frequent bouts of low oxygen levels during sleep may damage the blood vessels that supply the heart.

During these pauses, the heart beats faster and the blood pressure goes up. Severe OSA can also cause the heart to become enlarged. When this occurs, the heart receives less oxygen and works less efficiently.

Previous studies have identified a link between OSA and heart disease. However, to understand the association better, researchers categorized people with OSA based on their symptoms and conducted a new study.

Their results now appear in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Excessive sleepiness: A marker of risk?

The researchers categorized the participants into four subtypes of OSA according to the symptoms they reported, which included: difficulty falling and staying asleep, snoring, fatigue, drowsy driving, disturbed sleep, moderate sleepiness, and excessive sleepiness. The four subtypes were:

  • those with disturbed sleep
  • those with few symptoms
  • those who felt moderately sleepy
  • those who felt excessively sleepy

The study analyzed data from more than 1,000 adults who had moderate to severe OSA (which the scientists defined as having at least 15 breathing pauses while sleeping or reduced breathing).

All had participated in the Sleep Heart Health Study, which was available from the National Sleep Research Resource. The team followed the participants for about 12 years.

“Multiple studies from our group,” explains study co-author Dr. Diego Mazzotti, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, “have shown that patients with moderate to severe OSA throughout the world can be categorized into specific subtypes based on their reported symptoms.”

“However,” he notes, “until now, it was unclear whether these subtypes had different clinical consequences, especially in regard to future cardiovascular risk.”

A ‘surrogate marker’

The analysis showed that participants with OSA who experienced excessive sleepiness had higher rates of cardiovascular disease at enrollment when compared with people without OSA.

Also, they were around twice as likely to experience cardiovascular issues during the follow-up period.

The researchers are aware that these results do not prove that excessive sleepiness is a causal factor for cardiovascular disease. That said, they do believe that this specific symptom of OSA could be a “surrogate marker of underlying cardiovascular risk pathways.”

Despite the study’s limitations, the team suggests that treatments for OSA, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), should focus on people who have the excessive sleepiness subtype, as they would benefit the most.

CPAP uses machines that keep airways open to allow people to breathe properly during sleep.

Even without further research, clinicians should recognize that patients with OSA who complain of feeling tired when they wake up and sleepy during the day and have a high score on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.”

Dr. Diego Mazzotti

He adds that his colleagues are developing a simple tool to categorize people into symptom subtypes, which should improve the clinical utility of their findings.