Last updated: July 13. 2013 11:02PM - 993 Views

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Summer schedules do not look at all like the other seasons of the year. The daylight is longer and we tend to fit more activity in our days. Consequently, dinner gets pushed back into the later hours of the days. The heat of the summer day also may delay cooking. Many of us wait until the kitchen cools down and we feel hungrier, unless, of course, we have air conditioning.


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) ,along with others have encouraged us to maintain a healthy number of hours of sleep to maintain a healthy balance of hormones. According to NIH, “Ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry, increases when you don’t get enough sleep. Leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full, decreases. NIH also states that “Sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls our blood glucose or sugar level. Lack of sleep may cause our blood sugar levels to be higher than normal making us at risk for diabetes.”


How much sleep do we need? The NIH suggests the following, “When healthy adults are given unlimited opportunity to sleep, they sleep on average between 8 and 8.5 hours a night. But sleep needs vary from person to person. Some people appear to need only about 7 hours to avoid problem sleepiness, whereas others need 9 or more hours of sleep.”


“ Sleep needs also change throughout the life cycle. Newborns sleep between 16 and 18 hours a day, and children in preschool sleep between 11 and 12 hours a day. School-aged children and adolescents need at least 10 hours of sleep each night. The hormonal influences of puberty tend to shift adolescents’ biological clocks. As a result, teenagers (who need between 9 and 10 hours of sleep a night) are more likely to go to bed later than younger children and adults, and they tend to want to sleep later in the morning.”


Take a look at how much sleep you are getting over the course of a week. Is something preventing you from getting the eight hours of sleep a night?


Foods that we tend to crave in the evening also are higher in salt, sugar and fat. If you choose to eat later, try to stick to a low fat menu and skip the dessert or snack in front of the television.


Here is a recipe to have on hand for those hot summer night dinners. It’s made in a crock pot so you don’t need to turn the oven or stove on. Enjoy!


Slow Cooker Enchiladas


1 pound extra lean ground beef


1 cup chopped onion


1/2 cup chopped green pepper


1 (15 oz. or 16 oz.) can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed and drained


1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained


1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained


1/3 cup water


1 teaspoon chili powder


1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


1/4 teaspoon pepper


1 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese


6 corn or flour tortillas, (6 or 7 inches)


In a skillet, brown beef, onion and green pepper until beef is browned and vegetables are tender, drain. Combine next 7 ingredients (all except cheese and tortillas) in a bowl. In a 5-quart slow cooker, layer about 3/4 cup beef mixture, one tortilla, and 2 Tablespoons cheese. Repeat layers. Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings.


Source of recipe: University of Kentucky Extension

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