Healthy 4th of July


Independence Day is approaching fast, and with it comes party plans and grill-out gatherings with family and friends. Between the pool party and the post-party fireworks, check out our healthy patriotic menu ideas for some new bites to serve the guests!


Summertime brings tons of fresh produce, which makes these Caprese Skewers a fresh, easy appetizer to serve to hungry mouths between jumping off the diving board. Plus, the skewers provide automatic portion control. Be sure to make a lot, or they’ll be gone before anyone can have seconds!

If you’d like to invite the grill to the party early, this Grilled Watermelon, Mint, and Feta salad is a great way to show off summer fruit as well as your grill skills. For a more patriotic presentation, lay out the feta and grilled watermelon in separate red & white stripes instead of mixing them together, then nestle a bowl of blueberries in the upper left-hand corner for a flying feta flag!

Grill Out:

Sliders are all the fun of a burger with natural smaller portions. As an alternative to the usual ground beef, these Red-White-and-Blueberry Turkey Sliders are packed with roasted red peppers and can be served with a blueberry balsamic sauce for a fun twist.

Prefer hot dogs to hamburgers? Try stuffing a whole wheat bun with chicken-apple sausage and roasted red peppers, then serve them with this fun Blueberry Ketchup made from fresh fruit for an unforgettable patriotic meal!

Remix the Classics:

If you grew up in the South, you know a grill out isn’t complete without some homemade potato salad. Try this mayo-free red white & blue spin on the classic side, which uses three different kinds of potatoes for the stars and stripes effect!

Prefer fries with your food? Check out these baked barbecue fries for a spicy non-fried fry. No grease needed.

A sweet surprise:

Bring back the skewers for some delicious desserts that are a little bit of a splurge with built-in portion control. These red white & blue angel food cake skewers can be served with a cheesecake dipping sauce, providing a crowd-pleasing patriotic sweet. 

Looking for a way to cool down after a hot party? These Red White and Blueberry Yogurt Popsicles are stripy show-stoppers. These popsicles are only 3 ingredients: strawberries, blueberries, and Greek yogurt. No added sugar here!

From all of us here at Army H.E.A.L.T.H. we wish you a healthy, happy 4th of July!

News Roundup: The Effect of Alcohol on the Heart and Brain

The effects of alcohol consumption on the body have always been a source of debate. Public opinion on whether drinking is good or bad for you has shifted back and forth across the decades. Many studies have shown that the antioxidants and polyphenols in grapes used for red wine can have health benefits for the heart. However, more recent studies indicate that even moderate drinking can cause negative effects in the brain. This week’s news roundup shows evidence from both sides as the debate goes on.

Alcohol is Good for Your Heart – Most of the Time: “People who did not drink had an increased risk for eight of the heart ailments, ranging from 12% to 56%, compared to people who drank in moderation. These eight conditions include the most common heart events, such as heart attack, stroke and sudden heart-related death.”

The silent damage from drinking moderately down the decades: “Historically, it's been thought that light drinking is protective of the brain while heavy drinking induces damage. The few studies that have examined the effects of moderate drinking have produced inconsistent results.”

Is Wine Healthy? “Benefits of moderate alcohol consumption such as wine include a 30% reduction in the risk of heart attack compared to non-drinkers…[a]dditionally alcohol consumption has been associated with a 30% to 40% reduction in the risk of Type 2 diabetes, compared to those who don't drink.”

Even Moderate Drinking Causes Atrophy in Brain Area Related to Memory, Learning: “But even moderate drinkers were three times as likely to have brain atrophy as non-drinkers. The researchers found no brain-related benefits for alcohol consumption at any level, including very light drinking, compared with abstinence.”

Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits: “Alcohol’s two-faced nature shouldn’t come as a surprise. The active ingredient in alcoholic beverages, a simple molecule called ethanol, affects the body in many different ways. It directly influences the stomach, brain, heart, gallbladder, and liver. It affects levels of lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and insulin in the blood, as well as inflammation and coagulation. It also alters mood, concentration, and coordination.”

PTSD: Myths



Not all wounds are visible.

June 27th is National Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) awareness day. It is a day dedicated to increasing PTSD awareness. This is a topic that should frequently be discussed.  According to the National Center for PTSD, roughly 11-20 out of every 100 Veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan, struggle with PTSD symptoms in a given year.  Continued awareness of PTSD is necessary as this debilitating condition represents a notable and catastrophic illness to veterans and their Families.  

What is PTSD?

The Military has played a vital role in implementing assessments, treatment programs, and research to help aid the growing rate of Veterans suffering from PTSD. Despite growing research and awareness in this area, popular myths still exist related to PTSD. Below is a list of several of these common myths.

PTSD: Common Myths

Several misconceptions can be associated with PTSD. These misunderstandings can have negative consequences such as stigma and mistreatment for those suffering from PTSD. 

MYTH: People with PTSD are dangerous.
FACT: PTSD is characterized by upsetting memories and changes in mood. Symptoms of PTSD do not imply danger or that the person is dangerous.

MYTH: People with PTSD cannot function in their work environment.
FACT: There are many individuals with PTSD who are able to work and uphold their position of employment. PTSD can create symptoms that happen in the workplace, however coping skills allow them to still function in that environment with success. 

: PTSD affects someone as soon as they are exposed to a traumatic event.
FACT: Many believe if time has passed from the traumatic event that individuals are no longer at risk for PTSD. Although symptoms often happen after the first couple of months after a traumatic event, it can take months or even years before the symptoms can appear.

PTSD is a sign of mental weakness.
FACT: This is a common misconception that is hard to cope with for someone going through this struggle. Some of the factors that determine whether someone will develop PTSD include: the type of trauma experienced, the severity and length of exposure, amount of social and family support, and how the brain releases chemicals to combat stress, etc.

MYTH: PTSD only affects the military population.
FACT: Although PTSD greatly affects our military veterans and Soldiers, it can occur in anyone, including children. Below are some more facts about PTSD for the general U.S. population.

  • Roughly 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • Roughly 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
  • Roughly 10 of every 100 women develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%).


From the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Center for PTSD - a list of common reactions family members of a person with PTSD may experience

  • Sympathy
  • Negative Feelings
  • Avoidance
  • Depression
  • Anger and guilt
  • Health problems


The encouragement and support from family members and/or friends or other social supports are vital for someone experiencing symptoms of PTSD. Many service members choose not to get help because of the social stigma that comes with psychological health care treatment. The challenge then becomes for the person with PTSD to manage their illness by themselves while staying emotionally connected to their family.  Social support is a key part of the recovery process.  It is essential that individuals lending support to a person with PTSD educate themselves as to how to best support them in their journey of recovery.


The best way to recognize PTSD awareness day is to take the time to understand the experiences and realities of those around you who may be suffering from PTSD. Visit the National Center for PTSD website to learn about posttraumatic stress disorder and resources available to support service members and families. Also, check out the PTSD Coach app for iOS and Android devices. Additional resources can also be found at Military one source.





News Roundup: Coconut Oil


Coconut oil has taken the Internet by storm in recent years as a healthy substitute for other oils. This oil has also become a popular “super” food, with high use in paleo diets. However, new findings suggest that coconut oil may be better suited for use on the body instead of in the body.

This week’s news roundup brings a collection of articles related to the new finding from the American Heart Association on limiting coconut oil usage.

Study: Coconut oil great for your skin, not so great for your health. CNN. “Data shows coconut oil increased LDL or bad cholesterol in seven out of seven trials, which can increase cardiovascular risks…One benefit the study did point about coconut oil is that it's a holy grail for hair and skin care.”

New Study Confirms That Coconut Oil Is Alarmingly High in Saturated Fat. Huffington Post. “In fact, 82 percent of the fat found in coconut oil is saturated ― that’s significantly more than olive oil, which clocks in at 14 percent and canola oil, which contains a mere seven percent.”

Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy. USA Today. “’Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil,’ the American Heart Association said in the Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory.”

Coconut Oil Raises Bad Cholesterol, According To Advisory By The American Heart Association.Medical Daily. “According to the World Heart Federation, eating too much saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol, which in turn can lead to plaque build-up on your artery walls. Too much build-up increases your risk of heart disease.”


First Day of Summer


Cheers to the arrival of Summer! When we think of summertime, a lot of different things can come to mind...sand between our toes, lazy afternoons soaking up the sun, kids out of school and ready for fun, a delicious variety fresh fruits and veggie, BBQ’s, water activities, etc. The list can go on and on! Summer is a perfect time of year to take a fresh look at your health goals and how the season can help you to reach them.

Summer Activity Goals:

  1. Take some time to play with the kids outside. Those kids are bursting with energy! Pull them away from their devices and out the door for some good old fashioned fun outside in the yard or at a park. 
  2. Join an adult sports team (soccer, Frisbee, volleyball, etc). Most communities offer different sports activities for adults. Do some research to find out what your community offers. Most likely, you will find casual recreation available that not only boosts your activity levels, but can introduce you to new friends!

Fun outdoor activities include:

*Water gun party, water balloon party, volleyball, swimming, kickball, frisbee, biking, hiking, and roller skating* 


Summer Nutrition Goals:

Fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant this time of year! Take advantage of seasonal produce to help meet nutrition goals. Some fruits and vegetables in season include:

  • Watermelon (CLICK HERE to check out a delicious Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint)
  • Cantaloupe
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Corn
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers (CLICK HERE for a delicious Summer Cucumber and Tomato Salad recipe)
  • Tomatoes

*Don’t forget to stay hydrated in the summer heat!! Try to always have a bottle of water with you and remind your children to drink water throughout the day.*

Summer Sleep Goals:

The days are longer and the nights are warmer in summer. Sometimes this can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Keep these things in mind when working towards those summer sleep goals:

  1. The kids are out of school so the alarms are turned off. Although getting up bright and early during summer break is not necessary, it is helpful to keep a structured bed time and wake-up routine. This will help to ensure everyone is getting the sleep they need.
  2. Research shows that people tend to sleep better if it is cooler. Most people nowadays can adjust their temp settings to ensure a cool nights sleep even during the hottest parts of summer. Other ideas include swapping out heavier sheets and blankets for lighter linens and taking a shower before going to bed to lower your body temperature. 

Summer Mindfulness Goals:

Take time to stop and smell the roses! We have all heard that saying at one point or another. How often do we actually try to follow that little bit of advice? Summer time can be a very busy time. Between sports, vacations, camps, and other activities it may be hard to find time to wind down. Each of these activities provides a perfect opportunity to stand back, to reflect on, and to appreciate. Appreciate the family time, the vacations, and the little things. Appreciate the ability to make memories with our family. Appreciate the fresh fruits and vegetables that fill our plates. Reflect on the activities and events of the long summer days...because before we know it, Fall will arrive and another summer will be in the books!

Have a great summer!