All posts tagged 'family & friends'

The 12 Dog Days of Christmas

12-dog-days-of-Xmas

As an unabashed fan of all things holiday, I made sure my family dragged out all our Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving so we could get a head start on being festive.

My son was the first one to point out the obvious- how did I think the puppies were going to do with all the decorations? Dakota just turned one, Ollie is six months old, and they love nothing more than tearing around the house and barreling through anything in their path. Dakota, in particular, loves to chew on anything he can get his mouth on. Life with puppies is so much fun but so much work. And sweeping. And training.

I got my answer soon after we began decorating and Dakota started barking incessantly at the Santas on the mantel. He seems to think they are jolly little intruders. The dogs then followed the cat underneath the tree, got stuck, and banged about ten ornaments off the bottom while trying to back out. They tried to eat the gingerbread house I’ve painstakingly assembled over the past seven days. It’s become abundantly clear that unless we want a wrapping paper mess all over the house, we won’t be putting any presents under the tree until Christmas morning.

I might have felt annoyed but for one thing: the pet ornaments. Every pet who has been a part of my life since my first Lhasa Apso at eight has their own ornament. I have a lot of them now, and as I unpack them I pause for a moment to remember Christmases past with each of them, how they too climbed the tree and jumped in the wrapping paper and did all the dog and cat things that make them who they are. Our time with them is all too fleeting, so I remind myself every day to take in every wild and joyful moment.

Instead of being frustrated, I’ll be grateful for each mutilated decoration, the armless Santa and the headless angel. As I move them to higher ground and check to make sure all the breakable ornaments rest in higher branches, I can’t feel anything but good fortune that I have two dogs and a cat that bring so much joy and energy to our family.

In honor of Ollie and Dakota’s first Christmas as part of our family, I’ve rewritten the 12 Days of Christmas to better reflect our reality. I hope you get a laugh and a commiseration out of it.

The 12 Dog Days of Christmas

"On the twelfth day of Christmas,
my puppies brought to me,
12 holes a digging
11 neighbors barked at
10 armless Santas
9 tattered chew toys
8 headless angels
7 dogs a-swimming
6 bulbs a-laying
5 bully sticks
4 muddy paws
3 dog beds
2 slobber hugs
And a pup nap under the tree!"

Ollie-under-the-tree

Wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season from my home to yours!

Dr V Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM

Tailgating The Healthier Way

tailgating-made-healthy-lifes-abundance

Fresh fall air, over-the-top team spirit, delicious food and your favorite beer — tailgate parties offer up a true slice of Americana! And this time of year, untold sports enthusiasts enjoy these gatherings every week, outside stadiums and in backyards from coast to coast.

Unfortunately, tailgating also has the potential to wreck your best-laid plans for a healthy diet. Hot dogs and lager, while some might argue to be among humankind’s great achievements, pack enough fat and empty calories to set you back several hours at the gym. Sorry to rain your parade, but it’s true.

That said, there’s no need for you to stand on the periphery of your group, forlornly choking down baby carrots while your friends inhale nachos by the fistful. No, that won’t do at all. What you need is a better game day game plan!

The Proteins

Bratwurst and hot dogs are tempting, but traditional varieties are chock full of saturated fat and sodium, not exactly heart-healthy. “Hot dogs are processed meats with a high content of salt, saturated fat, and additives including nitrites/nitrates, which may be carcinogenic,” said Jennifer Glockner, a registered nurse and the creator of Smartee Plate, on Eat This Not That.1 Resist the siren call of cured pork and all-beef products and reach for lower-fat options made from chicken or turkey. Or drive your meat-loving friends crazy with a vegetarian or vegan hot dog.2

If burgers are more your jam, opt for the leanest ground beef possible — 98% lean if you’re feeling virtuous, 93% if you want a little more flavor. Slap that sucker on a whole-wheat bun with ample tomatoes and lettuce, and you have yourself a veritable health food.

The Sides

Yes, tater tots are delicious. Yes, we know you want fries with that. Yes, you could technically eat just one. But please repeat after us: Oil-soaked potato products are not your friends. True, they’re a decent source of potassium — that’s how we used to justify eating them, too — but we’d argue that the 170-300 calories and 10-15 grams of fat in each serving aren’t worth the tradeoff. Instead of regular fries, opt for a handful made from antioxidant-rich sweet potatoes. Or if you must have chips, choose baked. Air-popped popcorn and pretzels are also imminently snackable, lighter options. You might also cook up a batch of tots made from cauliflower, the cornerstone of the low-carb diet. Loaded with vitamin C and fiber, they’ll satisfy your crunch needs without sabotaging your weight goals. And it’s always easy to bring a veggie platter with a side of hummus to a party!

The Libations

You didn’t think we’d forget this part, did you? Most regular beers have at least 150 calories in them, or as our inner grouch likes to think of it, between 10 and 20 minutes running on a treadmill. But fret not. Thanks to the wonders of science, we now have a plethora of perfectly acceptable-tasting light beers from which to choose — some with as few as 55 calories and 2 carbs per bottle. Or, you could crack open a can or single-serving bottle of dry wine and sip it s-l-o-w-l-y. We want rushing yards, not rushing blood-alcohol levels (which could lower your inhibitions in the eating department).

Don't drink alcohol? No problem! Although purified water is always a good choice, you could kick it up a notch by adding sliced fruit or cucumber. Or perhaps you’d like one of the gazillion flavored seltzers on the market, most of them with no calories and little sodium. Green and black tea, both excellent sources antioxidants, are another great choice.

The Sweet Stuff

No one expects you to bring a bag of grapefruit slices to the party. That’s ridiculous. But we also can’t give you license to chow down on gooey, football-size cookies, some of which contain a full meal’s worth of calories in one pillowy serving. Tough love mandates a compromise. Ginger snaps are big on flavor and smaller on calories and fat. Not a fan? Look for options with more than a gram of fiber, which fills you up, aids in digestion and also helps control blood sugar.3 Fig Newtons, anyone?

If you’d prefer candy, break off a few squares of dark chocolate, which has loads of antioxidants and enough flavor that a little goes a long way toward satisfying your sweet tooth.

What are your favorite tailgating health foods? Share your ideas in the comments section below. And may the best team win!

REFERENCES:
1. www.eatthis.com/healthy-tailgating-foods-for-weight-loss
2. www.wired.com/story/in-defense-of-the-vegan-hot-dog
3. www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/fiber/art-20043983

BBQ Fun on a Budget

mom-grilling

For most of us, when we hear “BBQ”, we think great food, cold drinks, good friends, fun time with family and also did we mention great food?

Summer BBQs are so much easier than an elaborate dinner party. They’re generally outdoors, totally casz and not nearly as much work. And, really, there’s no reason they can’t be inexpensive and stress-free, too!

Here are our ten best ideas for a banging, budget-friendly barbeque. Be sure to take advantage of any summer sales of fresh produce, like corn on the cob or tomatoes, and you’ll end up paying even less. Mix and match to meet your needs, fit your budgetary and time constraints, and don’t forget to add a dash of your own personal flair.

APPS:

Deviled Eggs - Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and they are very affordable. Deviled eggs recipes are easy to find and make, they taste great and go with almost any food. Be sure to make these in advance and store in the fridge until party time.

Dip & Veggies - Broccoli and carrots are inexpensive veggies. Buy fresh and wash and cut yourself. French onion dip is economical and goes great with veggies. If you’re looking for something more exotic, try our amazing Blackberry Tapenade!

Popcorn Recipe - This terrific snack food is relatively healthy and certainly easy on the pocket, typically costing less than $2 a pound. To make air-popped popcorn, place one-fourth cup of popcorn kernels into a brown paper bag, fold the top a time or two to seal and heat it in the microwave until it stops popping. Add toppings of your choice, such as olive oil, sea salt or Parmesan cheese.

on-the-grill

MAIN DISH:

The Meat - You don’t need to break bank to make a barbecue banquet. Chicken legs and thighs are much more flavorful than the breast. Try skirt or flank steak and skip the more expensive cuts of beef. And there’s always the traditional hamburgers and hot dogs. With a ton of recipes available, you can easily choose whatever fits your budget best!

SIDES: 

Bread - Nothing pleases, or fills up happy guests, like fresh-baked breads. Check your supermarket bakery for rolls, biscuits or buns – whatever works with your main course.

Potato Dish - Russet potatoes are an excellent source of nutrients and typically available for a reasonable price. Potato salad is a great traditional dish but you can also roast them in the oven with some salt, pepper, garlic powder and oil olive.

Pasta Salad & Beans - Canned beans are budget-friendly, in addition to being highly nutritious. Different types of beans vary in price, but you can generally find them for less than $1 a pound. Same goes for pasta! Simply locate a fun, zesty recipe that complements your other dishes and mix up something wonderful!

DESSERT: 

Fruit – Nothing says “summer is here” like watermelon. It’s is usually cheapest in the summer and you can cut into crowd-pleasing shapes. Or, if you want to try something that’s sure to delight any kids in attendance, check out our delicious Mango Tropsicles!

millennials-grilling

DRINKS: 

Punch – You know the saying “pleased as punch?” Fruit punch is much less expensive to serve than canned or bottled beverages. For an adult punch, look for a white summer sangria recipe with lemons and limes and wine and ginger ale. Also, be sure to check out our summer drink, Summer Wonder Slushie, which is not only easy to make, it’s chock full of goodness thanks to our Minerals & Antioxidants mix. 

There you have it … ten fabulous ideas to make your next BBQ a serious hit with friends and family. After a bit of prep work, all that will be left to do is pump up the volume and let the good times roll!

Health Scares & Family Togetherness

Golden-sheen-2

It’s no secret amongst medical professionals that December is one of the toughest months for pet parents. No one really understands why, but both people and pets fall ill this time of year more frequently than at other times, making what should be a happy time of year one of the saddest. In my time working the veterinary ER, I got to see it firsthand, and it was always just heartbreaking.

We had our own scare last month. The week before Christmas, my beloved Golden Retriever became seriously ill. At 8, he’s old enough to be susceptible to a myriad of problems but young enough that despite his whitening muzzle I still think of him as an overgrown puppy with lots of time ahead of him. He collapsed on a Sunday morning. We headed straight to the ER.

Although Brody was stabilized on intensive care and had undergone myriad tests, they were unable to determine the cause of his symptoms and suggested we take him to a cardiologist as soon as possible. In between taking the kids to a holiday play and maintaining some semblance of normalcy, I shuttled him to the specialty center an hour away at midnight, hopeful for some sort of resolution or at least answers.

After three days of hospitalization and test after test, we were still without a diagnosis. Multiple specialists at the top of their fields came up empty. The “cancer” word was suggested multiple times. After all, this is a Golden Retriever we’re talking about. But despite our best efforts, every diagnostic evaluation came up short. We did what you always do when you don’t know what’s going on: treat the symptoms and hope for the best.

I brought Brody home with a pile of medications worthy of your Great Uncle Joe’s medicine cabinet while we regrouped to await test results. Biopsies, ultrasounds, blood tests, all normal. And despite all indications to the contrary, Brody started to slowly improve.

No one was more shocked than me. In all my years of practice, I can’t recall the last time I saw a dog as ill as mine bounce back. It was truly a Christmas miracle, and we couldn’t be more thrilled and grateful. I had fully planned to spend Christmas staring at his empty stocking in a puddle of tears, and here we were instead, cuddled on the couch like nothing had ever happened.

lap-of-luxury-doggo

I’m sharing this with you for a couple of reasons: first, as hard as it is for me to not know what happened, it’s a good reminder to all of us that medicine is an imperfect science. The people on his case are the smartest I know, and the fact that they couldn’t tell me what was wrong isn’t an indication that they were somehow lacking so much as the fact that sometimes there’s just nothing that can be found. I am so incredibly grateful to the medical professionals who spend the holidays away from their families so that we have somewhere to go when our pets are sick. Their care brought him back to me.

Second, this gives me a real impetus to actually follow through on a New Year’s Resolution for once. I always say I’m going to value my relationships more and spend more time with my loved ones, but this time there is an urgency to it that I’ve never had before. I was quite sure I was going to enter into the new year minus one fluffy lovebug, and yet here we are: I still get to wake up to his face on the side of the bed, roll my eyes in a not-really-mad kind of way at the amount of fur he sheds, and wrestle with him for space on the couch at night.

Every day with our loved ones is a gift, and nothing makes you appreciate that more than the prospect of no longer having it. I have no delusions that everything is back to normal; although we could find nothing wrong, something did go wrong with my dog, and it is very likely to come back. But since I have no control over it, for now I will just be grateful for the small things that fill a dog lover’s heart with joy: dog kisses, tail wags, and unabashed joy at something so simple as a short walk. There are no givens for the upcoming days or weeks.

No matter what happens tomorrow, our time together today is a blessing, so let’s make the most of it. From all the pet lovers here at Life’s Abundance (that’s pretty much everyone), wishing you and yours all the best for 2018!

Dr V
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM