Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Five easy ways to improve your health

Five easy ways to improve your health

It’s the beginning of the year, and January seems to be the most popular month for health columnists to give advice on how to stick to your New Year’s resolution, offer tips for quick weight loss or highlight healthy living trends for the new year. Spoiler alert: I’m not going to do that this year. Instead, I’m sharing five of my favorite things that have made healthy living easier and cheaper over the years. They may not be trendy, but they work.

1. Dried beans.

Cooking a pound of beans once a week and using these twice a week for vegetarian meals can improve your health and save money. Dried beans typically are cheaper, more filling and healthier than ramen noodles, and lentils cook quickly and can improve anything hamburger can, including spaghetti sauce, taco filling, chili and even burgers when you add the right spices.

2. A muffin tin.

While I’ve saved plenty of money over the years making my own whole-grain muffins, I only recently discovered you can bake eggs in them. This is a time saver in the morning when you want a hot breakfast. Simply spray the tins with nonstick spray, crack the egg in each tin, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes while you shower or get the kids ready to go.

3. WhirleyPop Popcorn maker

Popcorn is higher in fiber than most whole-grain crackers. This little gismo fits on the stove and makes popcorn from kernels nearly as fast as the microwave. Purchasing whole kernels rather than the prepackaged microwave versions saves enough money over the year to pay for the Whirly Pop, and the popcorn tastes better because you can use whichever oil you’d like for flavor. My favorites include olive oil and occasionally coconut oil.

4. Refillable water bottles and coffee mugs.

While there are plenty of reasons to buy bottled water, I’ve always found using my own and refilling it to be better for the universe and better on my budget. The same goes for coffee mugs. I’ve made a habit of brewing my own coffee from home for decades. I never had the extra cash to make picking up coffee on the way to work a habit. So I still rarely stop at a drive through or get coffees “to go.” Besides, before Starbucks, Oregon had Boyd’s.

5. A pair of running shoes.

OK, I tend to prefer nice running shoes. But, even for the extra money, nice running shoes allow me to run or walk for a lot less than a gym membership. Not that I’m against memberships, it’s just there were times when I couldn’t afford the fees and my shoes allowed me to maintain my activity level and in turn my health.
Source: Jeanine Stice is a health columnist and can be reached by email at
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