29
May

Summer Harvest

From pitching tents to gathering twigs, you need energy while camping. You can boost that energy by setting goals to eat more fruits and vegetables—ideally, the five to nine servings that nutritionists suggest. Some experts call it “eating low on the food chain”; and it packs a rich supply of benefits for energy, wellness and health.

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Supports weight loss by keeping appetites in check
  • Reduces risk of heart disease, stroke, digestive problems and some cancers
  • Fights fatigue by releasing energy slowly, instead of that sugar rush
  • Sharpens eyesight—it’s true! Especially vitamin-rich veggies like spinach, kale, sweet potatoes and (yes) carrots.

Take advantage of farmer’s markets, supermarkets, and salad bars as you navigate campgrounds and country this summer. When it comes to packing produce for the great outdoors, here are a few tips:

  • Fruits with staying power to last a few days without denting, browning or molding include apples, cherries and blueberries. Plus, they’re not a mess to peel or clean up–just wash and serve. Bananas last a couple of days, but require a bit more TLC. If you have time, store a fruit salad of melons, pineapple, peaches and strawberries in a plastic container. The flavors will mingle to keep each other fresh.
  • Dry fruit is a champion: portable, compact and low-maintenance, supplying a quick dose of energy to boot. Mix raisins or Craisins with nuts, yogurt, oatmeal or dry cereal; or enjoy right from the bag.
  • Baby carrots and cherry tomatoes spell veggie victory. Add cucumber slices to dip into salad dressings; dip celery sticks in humus. Onions travel well to be chopped into one pot or pan dinners. And potatoes keep well for days, ready to support everything from breakfast hash browns to dinner casserole.

Canned veggies travel well and don’t need cooler space. Green beans, corn, peas, black beans and mixed vegetables play well with noodle, pasta and potato-centered one-pot meals.

29
May

Watching TV in the RV

In the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, Greg Heffley’s mother confiscates her family’s phones and devices at the start of their cross-country road trip—even her husband’s—much to their torture and chagrin. The only connecting they’ll do, she declares, is to each other. Of course, the children and even the father resort to elaborate schemes to sneak the phones back into their possession without puncturing her idealism.

On long travel days that stretch over miles, it’s tempting to allow kids to fall back upon screens big and small, especially if your RV is equipped with the comforts of home. Why endure endless questions of “Are we there yet?” when the TV is a reliable distraction with minimal talk-back?

A little screen time is fine. But too much passive watching, whether on the big screen or the smart phone, lulls kids into sedentary states—failing to engage their bodies or even their minds. Harvard studies find that children who watch excessive television or YouTube have higher rates of obesity, due to both inactivity and the relentless food marketing during shows and commercials. Research also finds that kids’ constant access to small screens cuts into the sleep they need at night, contributing to lethargy and fatigue. And that can sap the energy they need to build for camping.

“Beyond the health effects, more than anything else when children are young, they need to spend time with real people: other children and adults,” says Steven Gortmaker, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. “So we are very interested in helping parents lower the dose.” (link to http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/09/keeping-an-eye-on-screen-time/)

Instead of screen time on the road, try the following car games (courtesy Parents.com):

Theme song game. One player hums the tune to a favorite TV show, and everyone else tries to name the show as fast as possible. The first person to guess correctly hums the next song.

Animal Name Game. One player names an animal. Then each person in order has to name another animal that starts with the last letter of the previous animal named, without repeating!

Secret place race. One person looks at a road map and finds a small town, village, river, etc. That person announces the name of the place she has chosen. A second player has 60 seconds to look at the map and try to find the secret place.

7
May

Yes We May! #1: Look Out For Lyme

What makes you tick? Probably not ticks.

Since the late 1990s, reported cases of Lyme disease have tripled in number. And this year, after observing a spike in tick-borne illnesses across the country, scientists have reported this camping season could be the worst tick season in years.  They give credit (or blame) to the white-footed mice, able carriers of Lyme disease, who are feasting on copious amounts of acorns to thrive in number and play host to ticks. Experts also say that warmer weather fueled by climate change allows ticks to remain active longer, with more opportunity to venture into places formerly too frigid—introducing their pathogens to new regions of North America. Even during a run of severe winter days, ticks are able to bury deeply into the soil to survive. Ticks are now most prevalent in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest. But everyone who plans to camp this summer should learn the facts about tick bites.

Make a fortress around your feet. Ticks don’t fly or land on you; they crawl up your body. Feet and ankles are the way ticks gain access to the body. Watch your legs, wear close-toed shoes, and use tick-killing repellants on both shoes and socks. And though it may be a nerdy look, try tucking your pants into your socks. Lyme disease is never in style!

Beware black legs. Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses are commonly carried by black-legged ticks, which are most active between May and July. Black-legged ticks have doubled in number in the last 20 years.

Repel the rascals. Use repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535. Contrary to myth, DEET is not harmful.

Remove immediately. Don’t waste time trying to “coax” a tick off your skin or trying a folk remedy like Vaseline, nail polish, or burnt match heads. Grab the tick with tweezers as close as possible to the skin, and pull straight out.

Watch for symptoms. Sometimes contracting Lyme disease leads to noticeable symptoms: a bulls-eye rash at the site of the tick bite, facial paralysis, and even swollen knees. But it’s not always obvious, and could lead to chronic complications such as memory problems, heart arrhythmia, and debilitating arthritis. If you experience visible symptoms or any fever, aches, fatigue, and joint pain, it’s best to seek medical attention immediately. Early intervention decreases the risk of serious complications.

Scrub and soak. Take a shower, give your children a bath, and dry clothing on high heat for 10 minutes. Have a spouse or friend check your back, neck, and scalp.