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Lunch Box Choices and Ideas

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat









By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



School is now in session and along with it comes the daily chore of packing lunches for the children. Some parents might be running out of ideas as to what to pack in their child’s lunch box each day and may want to hear a few new suggestions. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate what is made for lunch. It is the wise parent who packs only “healthy” lunches in an effort to steer their child toward a lifetime of sensible eating choices. It isn’t easy fighting peer pressure when your child sees others in the lunchroom with sweet treats and processed, packaged foods in their lunches.


If your child likes to eat sandwiches, experiment with different breads and pitas. Try whole grain, fruity breads or those containing nuts and raisins. Cream cheese on raisin walnut bread is absolutely delicious! Pita pockets and tortillas come in several sizes and can be used to wrap or fill with a host of tasty foods.

If you are trying to steer clear of too many cold cuts and avoid the nitrates and preservatives found in these luncheon meats, use leftovers from your previous evening’s dinner. Dice up small pieces of leftover chicken cutlet, turkey or roast beef and use these pieces to fill a pita. If you find it easier to buy cold cuts, stick to those with low sodium, such as turkey breast or specially marked ham or cheeses.   Buy cold cut meats with no nitrates or added colors and avoid artificially colored yellow cheeses.

When filling a pita pocket, add thin slices of cucumber, shredded carrot pieces or diced lettuce or spinach leaves to create a medley of color and texture. Finger foods are fun for young children to eat and are easier to manage than trying to hold a huge sandwich in their tiny hands. Try cutting pieces of leftover meatloaf, chicken or cheese and dicing up fresh vegetables for them to munch on. Cherry tomatoes are easy to handle and can be added to the lunch box by placing a small portion of these in a plastic bag. There are plastic containers that contain several compartments, and each day they can be filled with an assortment of veggies. Green peppers, green or yellow zucchini slices, celery sticks, mushroom caps and carrot sticks make a crunchy, healthy group to choose from. If your child likes salad dressing, add a little creamy ranch dressing to one section for dipping. For the older child, add walnut, almond or cashew pieces in another compartment.

Parents have the choice of what to buy and how to train their children about what to eat. Starting a lifetime of healthy choices begins right now, when parents still have control over what their children will be eating. With a little imagination parents can pack an exciting lunch that their children look forward to eating with eager anticipation! And if it is a really tantalizing selection, you can bet none of it will be traded away to a classmate.

September 5, 2018 |

Make the Grade with Back-to-School Lunches


In Good Taste









(Family Features) Back-to-school time means it’s back to being busy before, during and after school, so it’s time for parents and kids to create new routines. From early wakeup calls to shuttling kids to school and activities, ease the morning mayhem by incorporating a simple meal-planning strategy.

As a parent, look for fresh, make-ahead options your kids will enjoy. Serve up lunchbox love by mixing up the classic sandwich with a spin on sushi in this Bento Box Lunch recipe. It’s a creative way to deliver nutritious, wholesome ingredients that will make the whole lunchroom drool. Plus, it’s something you can take for lunch too.

No matter what meals you’re prepping, a store like ALDI can be your solution for packing tasty and better-for-you choices for lunches and on-the-go snacks. With high-quality ingredients at affordable prices, ALDI offers what you need to get ready for the days ahead.

For more recipes and meal prepping ideas, visit

Bento Box Lunch

Recipe courtesy of Chef Alyssa, ALDI Test Kitchen
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4



Sushi Roll”:

4     slices SimplyNature Knock Your Sprouts Off Sprouted Low Sodium 7 Grain Bread

4     slices Lunch Mate Never Any! Turkey

1     teaspoon Burman’s Yellow Mustard

1/2  avocado, sliced

1      mini cucumber, cut into 3-inch-by-1/4-inch sticks
Quinoa Salad:

  • 1 cup SimplyNature Organic Quinoa, cooked

1/4  cup Southern Grove Sliced Almonds

  • 2 mandarin oranges, peeled and separated

1/4  cup Southern Grove Dried Cranberries

  • 3 bunches green onions, sliced

1  teaspoon Carlini Pure Olive Oil

Stonemill Iodized Salt, to taste

Stonemill Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Broccoli Salad:

1          large head broccoli, chopped

1/4      cup Southern Grove Sliced Almonds

1/4      cup Southern Grove Dried Cranberries

1           teaspoon Fusia Soy Sauce

1/2       cup Friendly Farms Vanilla Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Stonemill Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Cinnamon Apples:

1        Granny Smith apple, sliced

1         tablespoon Nature’s Nectar Lemon Juice

1          teaspoon Stonemill Ground Cinnamon
To make “Sushi Roll”: Trim crust from bread. Using rolling pin, roll out bread slices to 1/8-inch thickness. Top with turkey, mustard, avocado and cucumber. Roll into cylinder, wrap with plastic wrap and cut in half.

To make Quinoa Salad: In medium bowl, combine quinoa, almonds, oranges, cranberries, green onions and olive oil; season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make Broccoli Salad: In medium bowl, combine broccoli, almonds, cranberries, soy sauce and yogurt; season to taste with pepper.

To make Cinnamon Apples: Toss apples with lemon juice and cinnamon. Place in sandwich bags and wrap tightly.

Organize equal amounts of “Sushi Rolls,” Quinoa Salad, Broccoli Salad and Cinnamon Apples in separate bento box compartments.

September 5, 2018 |

A Surprising Solution for Stress Relief


To Your Health








(Family Features) From finances and health concerns to lengthy to-do lists, there are numerous sources of strain in the lives of most people.

According to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research, 68 percent of people feel stress on a weekly basis and 32 percent are stressed every day. Women, in particular, are impacted, as 25 percent surveyed reported experiencing stress multiple times a day. However, today there is a surprisingly simple way to relieve stress: flowers.

New research from the University of North Florida’s Department of Public Health shows that living with flowers can significantly alleviate daily stress. These findings follow decades of behavioral research studies conducted by researchers at universities including Harvard, Rutgers and Texas A&M that demonstrate flowers’ ability to make people happy, strengthen feelings of compassion, foster creativity and even provide boosts of energy.

The study, titled The Impact of Flowers on Perceived Stress Among Women, concludes that adding flowers to indoor environments results in a statistically significant and meaningful reduction in stress.

“There is a growing body of research that illustrates how environmental design positively impacts health,” said lead researcher Erin Largo-Wight, Ph.D., associate professor of the University of North Florida’s Department of Public Health. “Now it is both intuitive and scientifically known that adding elements of nature, like flowers, to interiors promotes well-being.”

The specific results include:

  • The average reduction in stress among women who received and lived with flowers was minus-5.5 points on the perceived stress questionnaire, a significant statistical decrease in stress.
  • Flowers are a unique gift with the proven potential to reduce stress among women, likely because flowers provide the opportunity for nature contact, an established health-promoting environmental exposure.
  • Participants who received flowers overwhelmingly reported that flowers improved their moods.

“Our findings are important from a public health perspective because adding flowers to reduce stress does not require tremendous effort to generate a meaningful effect,” Largo-Wight said. “When life seems to be in a constant state of frenzy, flowers can provide a much-needed moment of calm.”

For more information about the study, along with tips on relieving stress, visit


September 5, 2018 |

Difficult People


ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich



OK, hands up out there! How many of you have chosen not to take action with a difficult person when you knew it was needed? How many have reacted to another in an angry or non-constructive way? You with your head down—why isn’t your hand up?

Everyone has done both of these things at one time or another. There’s no shame in it. However, if we consistently repeat the same mistakes over and over and end up paying the cost by becoming a victim, we’ve chosen the path to unfulfillment.

So, why do we do it? Why do we choose to be victims? And why is it important to know why we make this choice? Simply, if we don’t know what it is about “difficult people” that causes us to make a poor decision, it isn’t likely we’ll be able to grow out of the “victim” disorder. If we don’t change, we are going to be a consistent victim.

There are a number of reasons why people make bad decisions, avoid taking action, or take inappropriate action. Most have to do with avoidance, while the last is biological and has to do with our initial gut reaction to difficult people and our feelings of threat. Let’s take a look.

Low Self-awareness

If you lack self-awareness (i.e. you don’t know what your own reactions mean and why they occur), you are not likely to have success with difficult people. Not coincidentally, the first step in learning to deal with difficult people is to examine oneself.

It’s important that you look at yourself to identify which of the reasons apply to you. When you are aware of the reasons you choose to be a victim, you will be better prepared to make better, more rational decisions.

An impediment to awareness is “denial.” Have you ever said to yourself, “I can’t believe he said that?” It is likely that you have. What we are saying in those words is that our expectation of another does not match well with their actual behavior. One reason we fail to take action with difficult people is we don’t expect them to be difficult. We are caught “off guard.” Most normal people don’t go through life looking for trouble. But when it appears, unexpectedly, such as in outrageous outbursts, we have a tendency to freeze like a deer caught in the headlights of a car. We’re at a loss for words, almost disbelieving what is plainly in sight. We are incredulous over it.

Not only can we freeze up in such moments, but some difficult behavior is so outlandish that we remain stunned by it well after the fact, or we deny it or excuse it as an aberration.


Believe it! Even the best of people do difficult, hurtful, and unpleasant things to others. Don’t pretend it isn’t happening. If you do, it may just get worse. We are, each of us, capable of the worst behavior imaginable. What keeps us from it varies—societal pressure, the law, moral suasion, inherent goodness, a positive life experience that recommends it, etc. Whatever works to bring each individual under self-control must be as apparent and available as a hammer to drive a nail.

Are you in denial? If so, recognize that people do hurtful, difficult things and that they are indeed real and are happening. To deny what is happening only serves to make the situation worse.


Even when we recognize that someone is being nasty, difficult or unpleasant, we may be reluctant to act because we fear getting involved. Or perhaps, you know that difficult person who argues about everything, and you are tired of him. We think, “If I say something, it’s just going to make matters worse.”

At times, you’d be right. There are times when making something of another’s rage is not only inconvenient, but also dangerous. Consider road rage. If we stop (or speed up) to confront another’s poor behavior on the road we might find ourselves on the receiving end of a weapon in the hands of a fool. The larger picture renders the issue trivial in most road rage incidents, so we go on our way hoping the angry “other” will cool down before hurting someone.

There has to be a happy medium here. We don’t want to jump on every little thing, but we must be prepared to confront real issues of poor behavior. We deserve better, and “help” is what the miscreant needs most. However, if we choose to continually ignore such abuse, we paint ourselves as victims.

Recognize that dealing with a difficult person in a constructive way doesn’t have to mean getting into an argument or a confrontation. Managers must be willing to make people accountable, and not only to agreed upon goals. We work with people, and their willingness and cooperation is necessary to achievement. We need to work at not allowing our dread of confrontation to keep us from taking control of difficult situations.

Bad Cop

Another reason people tend to wait too long to intervene with difficult people has to do with not wanting to come across as the “heavy.” This promotes a poor self-image, something we humans avoid like the plague. This is particularly true of managers who are sensitive to the need to use power sparingly in today’s workplace.

Get over it! We get paid to manage—so manage. Whether it’s someone not doing a good job or interfering with the work of others, or someone polluting the work environment, managers, indeed all stakeholders, have a responsibility to co-workers to act when necessary. You are, in effect, charged with ensuring the welfare of those in your care.

They’ll Do It

There is a tendency in organizations to think that the really tough problems ought to be solved by “them.” It is the great lie in all societies—commercial and familial. We expect it of our politicians, our teachers, our pastors, our bosses, and our parents. Perhaps, this is why 85% of families and 70% of organizations are deemed dysfunctional. If we allow one employee to make life difficult for another, there’s a fair chance that the “victim” will come to blame us, even though we aren’t directly involved. As managers and leaders, we are ultimately responsible for results—at all levels of participation.

Just as “intervening” need not bring about confrontation, stepping in need not make us the bad guys. There is something of value at stake for all involved; reasonable people can come quickly to an understanding of it.

Fight or Flight

The final underlying reason for mishandling difficult situations is the “fight or flight” phenomenon. It’s biological—all animals have it. It works this way; when we are threatened, our bodies react by sending hormones and neurological messages to prepare it to either run away (escape or take flight), or to stand and fight.

It’s these chemical changes in our bodies that cause things like sweating, elevated heart rate, or even shaking during or after perceived danger.

Unfortunately, those same chemical changes, while allowing us to make a quick escape, or a fight of it, also cause quick and destructive verbal responses. So, there’s actually a biological reason why you might speak or react too quickly when dealing with a difficult person.

Fortunately, we can choose not to be slaves to the “flight or flight” thing. We can learn to control ourselves, and even to react less aggressively when in difficult situations. Perhaps, what is most helpful is to accept that the term “difficult people” describes us all, at times. Try first to defend that person’s position, then consider what to do about his behavior. The exercise may give you the empathy necessary to clearing most misunderstandings, and the path to appropriate behavioral modifications.

August 31, 2018 |

Being Prepared for an Emergency

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mochbeichel



Are you prepared for an emergency? How would you know if there is an emergency? Where would you get assistance? If you do not have the answers to these questions, then you need to find them out.

For residents of Westchester County, this can be made easier by simply reading the detailed publication that is mailed to every home. “Planning for Emergencies” was originally implemented to provide important information to area residents concerning the Indian Point Power Plant facility; however, the tips it contains can also be applied to emergencies that are weather related and for accidents such as spills of contaminated materials. Published in conjunction with Westchester County, the New York State Disaster Preparedness Commission, Entergy Nuclear Northeast and Con Edison, the detailed publication includes a map of Westchester County and listings of evacuation locations for each school in their districts as well as the routes of all Westchester County bus lines.

Westchester residents can call the County’s Department of Emergency Services at 914 231-1850 to request a copy or visit:

Residents of other counties should contact their Executive’s Office to find out if a similar booklet is offered.


Town municipalities often hold meetings to inform residents or town and business members of the best way to respond to emergencies. These meetings share ideas about building safety and inform tenants of what plans are in effect should they need to be evacuated for any reason. Working parents should know where their children that attend school or a daycare center will be sent should the school need to be evacuated. Parents’ personal contact phone numbers should be given to the school and promptly updated if any numbers or work locations have changed. When your child’s school sends home a form that requests your contact numbers as well as those of others in charge of picking up your child, BE PROMPT ABOUT RETURNING THIS INFORMATION.

Do you know what your child’s school would do in an emergency? How would you hear about the emergency if you work in another area? Is there is a “phone chain” that has been set up to let parents know of an early dismissal or some other safety issue? Volunteer to be part of this chain so you are aware of the latest information when it is released from the school. Know the radio stations that would broadcast the information. Have at least one station on your car radio programmed to the station you would need for emergency updates. If you are at home, place a label on your radio identifying the station you need to tune to for emergency broadcasts. In case of a power failure, make sure you have a battery operated radio and fresh batteries in supply.

Emergency planning is also important at work and in any public building. Regularly scheduled “drills” should be held so everyone is aware of the quickest and safest way to leave the building. Maintenance staff should check that no emergency exits are locked, bolted or difficult to open and that exit signs are well-lit and easy to see. Windows should be tested regularly to insure they are not stuck shut with layers of paint. Fire extinguishers should be conveniently placed and inspected regularly to make sure they are in proper working order.


August 29, 2018 |

New Medicare Cards are Designed to Reduce Medicare Fraud


To Your Health









Millions of People with Medicare Are Getting New, More Secure Cards
(Family Features) Millions of people with Medicare will receive new, more secure Medicare cards in the mail in 2018. The new cards replace Social Security Number-based Medicare numbers with a new unique, personalized Medicare Number, known as the Medicare Beneficiary Identifier. Each person with Medicare will have his or her own number. The cards will be mailed automatically, free of charge, and there will be no changes to Medicare users’ current benefits.

The new Medicare cards no longer contain a person’s Social Security number, but rather a unique, randomly-assigned Medicare number that protects people’s identity, helps reduce fraud and offers better safeguards of important health and financial information. Removing Social Security Numbers from Medicare cards is one of the ways the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is helping to protect the identities of people with Medicare. The unique Medicare Number not only increases protections from fraud for people with Medicare, it also makes it harder for criminals to use Social Security Numbers to falsely bill Medicare for care services and benefits that were never performed.

CMS is mailing the new Medicare cards in geographic waves. This means people with Medicare may not get their new card at the same time as their friends or neighbors. People with Medicare and their caregivers can visit to find out when cards will be mailed to their areas. They can also sign up for email notifications about the card-mailing and check the card-mailing status in their states. As soon as people receive their new Medicare cards, they should safely and securely destroy their old Medicare cards and start using their new cards right away.

Make note of these facts to help ensure a smooth transition to your new card

  1. Your card will have a new Medicare Number that’s unique to you, instead of your Social Security Number. This can help protect your identity and keep your personal information more secure.
  2. Your card will automatically come to you at no cost. You don’t need to do anything as long as your address is up-to-date. If you need to update your address, visit
  3. You can find out when your card is mailing by signing up for email notifications at
  4. Your Medicare coverage and benefits will stay the same.
  5. Mailing takes time, and Medicare will mail the new cards by April 2019. Your card may arrive at a different time than your friend’s or neighbor’s.
  6. Once you get your new Medicare card, destroy your old Medicare card and start using your new one right away. Rather than simply throwing the old card away, shred it or cut it into small pieces.
  7. Your card will be paper and not laminated, which makes it easier for many providers to use and copy for their records.
  8. If you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), your Medicare Advantage Plan ID card is your main card for Medicare. You should still keep and use it whenever you need care. However, you also may be asked to show your new Medicare card, so you should carry this card, too.
  9. Doctors, other health care providers and facilities know your new card is coming and will ask for your new Medicare card when you need care, so carry it with you.
  10. Only give your new Medicare Number to doctors, pharmacists, other health care providers, your insurers or people you trust to work with Medicare on your behalf. Treat your Medicare Number like you treat your credit card numbers. Medicare will never contact you uninvited to ask for personal information.




August 29, 2018 |
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