Archive for the 'Wellness' Category

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD) is September 18th


Since 2008, National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAAD) has been celebrated on September 18th. 


What is HIV/AIDS?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks body cells thus weakening the immune system, making the infected individual less capable of fighting off infections and disease. Once a person is infected, they will always be infected. While there is currently no cure, there are treatment options available. If left untreated, HIV can develop into a more advanced stage known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). This advanced stage is indicated by the number of CD4 cells in the infected individual’s blood (less than 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood). 

cropped info.png


Why is this an important issue? 

Life expectancy without treatment in people with AIDS is typically about three years. This window of time is shorted if the infected individual has another critical illness. Unfortunately, roughly one in eight people living with HIV and/or AIDS are denied critical health services on account of HIV-related stigma and discrimination. Stigma around HIV and AIDS exists largely due to the circulation of inaccurate information about how HIV is transmitted, leading many to misperceive personal risk and act irrationally. At its extreme, stigma can result in loss of income and livelihood, loss of marriage and childbearing options, feelings of worthlessness, and overall marginalization, among other consequences, for people with HIV. 

In short: stigma leads to sickness.   


What can you do to help?

    • Positive? Connect to care, start HIV treatment, stay in care, keep the virus under control
    • Negative? Increase HIV awareness, emphasize need for prevention, research and increased medical understanding
    • People living with HIV have the right to live free from criminalization, discrimination and stigma, the right to education to make informed decisions about their sexual health, the right to prevention, treatment and care yet many face oppression on a daily basis. Wearing the red ribbon is a sign of support and advocacy for people living with HIV, and works effectively towards ending the HIV stigma by protecting, including, empowering, and educating. 


Important dates to keep in mind:

  • National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day February 7
  • National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day March 10
  • National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day March 20 
  • National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day April 10
  • National Transgender HIV Testing Day April 18
  • National Asian & Pacific Islander HIV/AIDS Awareness Day May 19
  • HIV Vaccine Awareness Day May 18
  • HIV Long-Term Survivors Day June 5
  • National HIV Testing Day June 27
  • National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day September 27
  • National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day 
  • World AIDS Day December 1
  • Keep an eye out for free clinic testing in December!




Happy National Kids Take over the Kitchen Day!


4e658bdb2db33f12a5be7a0dfe6914e7.jpgThis Friday, September 13th is National Kids Take over the Kitchen Day. Sponsored by the Young Chef’s Academy (YCA), this holiday aims to get youth more engaged in meal planning, preparation and cooking. Cooking as a family is not only a fun way to bond, but additionally works to fight against the unhealthy eating habits that are prevalent in today’s society. Plus, your kids can pick up basic cooking skills that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives!

Try some of these fun, simple, and HEALTHY recipes at home with your kids:


Smoothie Bowl (10 min total)


  • 1 frozen, ripe banana
  • 1 cup frozen fruit of choice, in small pieces/chunks (suggestions: berries, pineapple, mango, peaches, melon, etc.)
  • ½ cup greens (suggestions: spinach, kale)
  • ½ cup liquid (water, 100% apple or orange juice, milk (dairy or non-dairy alternative like almond, coconut, or oat)
  • 2 tbsp protein of choice (suggestions: yogurt or non-dairy yogurt alternative, nut butters, whey protein, chia seeds, hemp seeds, uncooked oats)
  • Toppings of choice (suggestions: sliced fresh fruit, dry fruit, granola, cocoa nibs, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, honey, flax seeds, cinnamon)


  1. Combine frozen banana, other frozen fruit, greens, liquid and protein in blender and puree until smooth. ***Pro tip: Add liquid little by little to avoid having a soupy smoothie bowl! Additionally, add more frozen fruit for a thicker consistency.***
  2. Pour smoothie into bowl and top with toppings of choice to taste


Chipotle Chicken* Quinoa Burrito Bowl (30 min prep/10 min cook/40 min total)

*Sub chicken for your favorite meat alternative!


  • 1 tbsp finely chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 lb boneless skinlless chicken breast or other vegetarian/vegan protein alternative (suggestion: cubed tofu or MorningStar Farms Veggie Chik’N Strips)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup canned pinto or black beans, rinsed
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • ¼ cup salsa of choice (suggestion: pico de gallo)
  • ¼ cup shreddad cheddar cheese
  • Lime wedges for serving


  • Pre-heat grill to medium-high
  • Combine chipotles, oil, garlic powder and cumin in a small bowl
  • Oil grill rack and grill chicken for 5 min (or prepare protein alternative as needed), then turn and brush with chipotle glaze and continue cooking until done (for chicken: ~165° F at thickest part, ~3-5 min); transfer to cutting board and chop into bite-sized pieces
  • Assemble burrito bowl as desired (suggestion: ½ cup quinoa, ½ cup chicken, ½ cup lettuce, ¼ cup beans, ¼ avocado, 1 tbsp pico de gallo (or other salsa) and 1 tbsp cheese, plus lime wedge)


Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili (25 min prep/26 min cook/51 min total)


  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chilli powder
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground chipotle chile
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 2 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomato
  • 4 tsp lime juice
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped


  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat then add sweet potato and onion, stirring until the onion begins to soften (~4 min)
  • Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle, and salt, and stir constantly for 30 seconds; add water and bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to maintain simmer, cooking until the sweet potato is tender (~10-12 min)
  • Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice and increase heat to high, stirring often; reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced (~5 min)
  • Remove pot from heat and stir in cilantro

Serve with: tortilla chips or cornbread

Hungry for more? Find more kid-friendly recipes here.

Happy cooking!



Happy National Cheese Pizza Day!


That’s right, there is such thing as National Cheese Pizza Day and it falls on September 5th. Cheese pizza not your favorite? Worry not – February 9th is National Pizza Day (i.e ALL the toppings) and April 5th is National Deep-Dish Pizza Day. Go ahead, mark your calendars.

What You Knead to Know About Pizza

  • Pizza is believed to have started with the Ancient Greeks who covered their bread with oils, herbs, and cheese
  • The original pizza used only mozzarella cheese (specifically buffalo mozzarella produced in the Naples area)
  • The modern pizza has its origin in Italy, coming from the Neapolitan flatbread
  • The United States’ first pizza establishment was opened in New York’s Little Italy in 1905

What more of a reason do you need to dig into an easy and delicious dinner favorite? Celebrate the holiday the ~healthy~ way and bake up your own pizza using some of the helpful tips below!

The Crust

Thin crust, thick crust, whole-wheat crust, cauliflower crust… the options to make your pizza both delicious and nutritious are endless!

Cauliflower crust (15 min prep/45 min cook/total 1 hr):


  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and separated into florets
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • ½ oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • Cayenne pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 400° F and line baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Puree cauliflower in a food processor
  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook cauliflower, water and salt for approximately five minutes; allow to cool completely
  • Transfer cauliflower to center of a clean dish towel; wrap and squeeze to remove all excess moisture
  • Stir all ingredients in a bowl to form a soft dough; gather into a ball and place in the center of prepared baking sheet; press dough into ¼-inch thick circle
  • Bake until golden brown (approximately forty minutes) then allow to cool; turn crust over before topping

Want more healthy crust alternatives? Check out this Bustle article for more ideas.

The Sauce

Tomato sauce is loaded with vitamin C and it is super easy to make your own!

Sicilian Pizza Sauce (10 min prep/40 min cook/total 50 min):


  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 28 oz. can tomato puree
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper


  • In saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat
  • Add onions, stirring until starting to gold
  • Add remaining ingredients and stir
  • Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer for approximately 30 minutes

Not into tomatoes? Try pesto!

The Cheese

When it comes to good quality cheese, less is more! Mozzarella, goat, feta, and ricotta all make for good choices.

Pro tip: If you find smalls grease pools after baking, go ahead and blot it with paper towel! No need for the extra fat and calories.

Pizza-out! ☮




Memorial Day Madness


With Memorial Day just around the corner, what better way to honor the soldiers who died serving our country than with celebrating it in the beautiful outdoors. Soak up the sun and throw a picnic with food that will fuel you for a day of celebration without feeling the guilt!

Starting off with a salad is a staple. Try out the Summer Tomato and Grilled Corn Salad!



  • 3 ears of corn, shucked
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil, packed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint, packed
  • 2 lbs. very ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
  • Optional: Macedonian feta cheese (omit for vegan), extra mint and basil and some balsamic reduction, for garnish


  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high and oil the grates.
  2. Grill the corn for 10 minutes, turning a few times. You want the kernels to turn bright yellow and let some of them get grill marks. Remove the corn from the grill and, when it is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off. (The easiest way to cut the kernels off the cob is to stand the corn on one end and run the knife blade down the corn.)
  3. While the corn is grilling, prepare the rest of the salad. In a small bowl whisk together the balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, olive oil and garlic until it is smooth and creamy. Stir through the basil and mint. Add the grilled corn kernels to the bowl.
  4. Lay half the tomatoes out on your serving platter, sprinkle them with sea salt then top with half the corn and some feta cheese (if you’re using cheese). Top with the rest of the tomatoes, sprinkle with sea salt, the corn and any or all of the garnishes. Pour any remaining dressing on top and serve immediately.

Now on to the main entrée. Switch things up and stray from your tradition hot dog and bun combo and opt for the Grilled Portobello Mushroom and Broccolini Veggie Dogs!



  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
  • 8 ounces broccolini, trimmed
  • 6 top-sliced hot dog buns
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped


  1. Pre-heat your grill to medium-high.
  2. Meanwhile, make the yogurt sauce. In your food processor with the blade attachment, process all the ingredients together until the herbs are finely chopped and the sauce is bright green. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Brush this dressing onto both sides of the Portobello mushrooms and the brocollini. Then add the vegetables to your grill. Cook the brocollini until it’s crisp-tender and has started to blacken in a few places, about 3 minutes total. Cook the mushrooms for about 5-6 minutes per side. Remove from the grill. Once the mushrooms are cool enough to handle, slice them into strips.
  4. To serve, spread some of the yogurt sauce onto the hot dog buns. Add a few slices of mushroom and some of the brocollini. Top with chopped avocado and extra fresh herbs, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

Finish the picnic off with something sweet. Elevate refreshing watermelon slices by topping it off with some blueberries and goat cheese!



  • Blueberry Compote
  • 12 oz blueberries
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 lemon, squeezed (about 2 tbsp lemon juice)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • Vanilla Goat Cheese
  • 8 oz goat cheese
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Watermelon Pizza
  • 40 mint leaves (roughly)
  • ½ watermelon, sliced in half, sliced into triangles, and then sliced again into smaller triangles (see photo)


  • Blueberry Compote:

First in a small pot over medium heat add your water and granulated sugar. Bring to a boil. Add your blueberries and lemon juice. Continue to boil, stirring every minute, until blueberries have burst and water begins to thicken, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature (will thicken as it cools). Place in fridge until ready to use.

  • Vanilla Goat Cheese:

In a small bowl add your log of goat cheese. Break up using a fork. Add your vanilla extract and honey. Whip together using a fork until mixed together. Set aside in fridge until ready to use.

  • Assembly

Once watermelon is sliced and ready to go, add one mint leaf, topping with 1 tsp goat cheese and 1 tsp blueberry compote. Continue to do this to each piece of watermelon until all slices are assembled. Store in fridge until ready to consume.


Stay safe and healthy this Memorial Day weekend!

Diana Banzon



A-choose you destiny, not allergies


With the plants budding, the season transitioning – all are fun and games until your allergies act up. It takes away the excitement of being outside and enjoying what the warm weather has to offer. Here are a few ways to help combat allergies and have it not rule your life this summer!

Shut ‘em out!

With the pollen count being so high this time of year, it is best to keep the windows shut – even if it is nice outside. If you find the beauty of the outdoors that tempting, opt for HEPA filter on your air-conditioning system and a flat or panel filter on your furnace if you want to get a feel for the breeze –  without the repercussions.

Scrub up!

Being exposed to the outside  – even for a little – is enough to bring tiny particles that the outdoors has to offer back inside with you. From your clothes, shoes, hair, and skin – make sure to immediately take a shower and and wash away any allergens to prevent any further irritation. 

Mask it up!

Desperate times call for desperate measures. For occasions where avoiding allergens are near to impossible, such as partaking in yard work and vacuuming, a respirator mask might just be your saving grace. Although it isn’t the most stylish, accessory one can rock this summer, it’ll for sure combat those pesky particles from triggering your allergies. It let’s you go about your dreaded chores without any external factors making it worse.

Go au naturale

Keeping your home is clean is the best way to combat indoor allergens. Opting for products that will both clean your house without suffering the consequences of  irritating your nasal passages and aggravating your symptoms is the best way to go about giving your home the spring cleaning it needs just in time for the summer season. Go for natural cleaners such as vinegar or baking soda to get the job done!

Healthy eating

Everything comes back to how you are fueling yourself internally. It all starts from gaining these habits as early as possible. Studies show that children who consume a lot of vegetables, fruits, and nuts had fewer allergy symptoms. Researchers are trying to investigate the link as to why that is the case, but there is no surprise that having the foundation of a healthy diet will be the catalyst to overall wellness.

Don’t let allergens choose your destiny. Take control and enjoy what the upcoming summer season has to offer!


Diana Banzon


Skin Cancer Awareness Month | May 2019


May is the month of Skin Cancer Awareness Month. With the weather getting warmer and the days getting longer, people are more reluctant to going outside and having more exposure to the sun than ever. But with the wrong type of protection, your risks of getting skin cancer immediately increases. Educate yourself as to the dangers of skin cancer and learn as to why awareness is so important!

What is skin cancer?

It takes place when there is abnormal growth of skin cells and usually develops due to overexposure from the sun. Mutations occur in the DNA of the skin cells making it grow out of control, which eventually causes it to form into cancer cells. Skin cancer can be broken up into 3 major types which include:

  • basal cell carcinoma
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • melanoma

Here are tips to decrease your chances of getting skin cancer:

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
  • Don’t get sunburned.
  • Avoid tanning, and never use UV tanning beds.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See a dermatologist at least once a year for a professional skin exam.

Prevention is key. If there are ways to avoid getting skin cancer, why not take proactive steps now? Give your largest organ some extra love this summer and and protect it!


Have a happy and safe summer break,

Diana Banzon


May Showers brings May Flowers


Spring is finally upon us and everything is coming into full bloom! Plants are finally budding and we should take advantage of them making their way back into our lives from the harsh, dormant winter. We should take time to stop and smell the roses in honor of the arrival of Spring and the warmth it has to offer us!


Many people already resort to gardening as a quick escape from reality to help find inner peace, but floral scents alone have the power to lower stress. Lavender and chamomile have soothing properties that can calm your worries away. A whiff of rosemary has the power to relieve headaches and tension. What can the power of Mother Nature not do?


Improvement in Emotional Health

Ever wondered why receiving flowers in the hospital were so common? It is because it is an immediate mood booster! Knowing that you are being thought of by others and having a constant reminder of that has the potential to brighten anyone’s day!


Improvement in Physical Health

Another reason why receiving flowers in the hospital is so popular? It can physically heal patients! Yes, physical but not in the direct way you would assume. Being surrounded by plants everyday has the capability of making a stressed person feel more relaxed. A more relaxed patient in the hospital typically heals faster than those who are constantly in a state of worry. So keep on sending in those flowers!


Memory and Concentration

Need a little something to jog that memory of yours? Look no further then to flowers! Plants oxygenate the air, which in turn boosts your brain cells!


Now go ahead. Take it all in. Stop and smell the roses – no, literally.

Happy Spring everyone,

Diana Banzon


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 607 other followers

Follow us on Twitter


Hours & Info

Mon-Fri 8 am to 4 pm