Youth Development Programs Strengthen Classrooms

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Comprehensive approaches to positive youth development are becoming more common in schools across the country, resulting in stronger and healthier youth. Research shows that such programs increase academic achievement, decrease problem behavior and increase pro-social behavior. The positive impact of programs that develop life skills in the classroom has caught the attention of some of the nation’s largest school districts, including Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

Lions Quest, a positive youth development program of Lions Clubs International Foundation, recently entered select CPS schools as part of a movement to develop students’ social and emotional skills. Now in more than 10 schools throughout CPS, Lions Quest is garnering recognition and support for additional expansion.

The program’s positive presence in CPS recently attracted the attention of Bank of America, resulting in a $10,000 grant awarded to Lions Quest by the Chicago division of the organization.

“Youth in Chicago are some of the most at-risk in the U.S.,” said Al Brandel, Chairperson of Lions Clubs International Foundation, “But the Lions Quest program aims to provide these youth with the life skills they need to develop into healthy adults and build stronger communities.”

Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School was awarded the funding from the Bank of America grant, providing the Lions Quest “Skills for Action” program. Tilden, a high school located on Chicago’s south side with a student population of 1,350, has a high drop-out rate and low graduation rate, and the majority of students come from low-income families. The funds trained 36 teachers from Tilden and other Chicago Public Schools and provided curriculum materials to 500 students.

Teacher training is central to the success of the program. Through informative and engaging workshops, teachers become experts on the content and subsequently implement the program according to the needs of their classroom.

By implementing positive youth development programs in schools, students receive a comprehensive approach to education that strengthens not only the classroom, but also society as a whole.

For more information, visit www.lions-quest.org.

Gluten-free Pizza Goes Mainstream

For people with celiac disease, going out to eat can prove difficult – they might not be able to find any gluten-free options on the menu, or they might receive food that has been contaminated on shared kitchen tools.

One percent of Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that damages the lining of the intestine. Celiacs must avoid any food that contains gluten, which can be found not only in obvious items like bread, but also in beer, soy sauce, gumbo and condiments. For many celiacs, eating in seems like the only safe option.

Gluten-free Pizza Goes Mainstream

<b>Gluten-free Pizza Goes Mainstream</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – For people with celiac disease, going out to eat can prove difficult -; they might not be able to find any gluten-free options on the menu, or they might receive food that has been contaminated on shared kitchen tools.

One percent of Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that damages the lining of the intestine. Celiacs must avoid any food that contains gluten, which can be found not only in obvious items like bread, but also in beer, soy sauce, gumbo and condiments. For many celiacs, eating in seems like the only safe option.

But some restaurants are taking steps to make dining out easier for celiacs. For example, UNO Chicago Grill has recently unveiled a new, gluten-free menu. This menu, which includes pizza, steaks, salads, chicken and fish, appeals to a wide variety of customers. But it is especially geared toward those with celiac disease, and its most popular item by far is UNO’s gluten-free pizza.

Prepared with a thin crust, and offered in cheese, pepperoni or veggie varieties, UNO’s gluten-free pizza allows celiac sufferers to enjoy a previously forbidden food that most people take for granted.

“Pizza is our signature product, and we wanted to offer a gluten-free pizza so all of our guests could enjoy it when dining at UNO,” notes UNO CEO Frank Guidara.

Were a celiac to eat a piece of regular pizza, they could experience migraines, vomiting, anxiety, skin rashes and abdominal pain. Undiagnosed celiac disease can lead to serious illness, including anemia, liver diseases, intestinal damage and malnutrition.

“Because of these serious symptoms, it has historically been very difficult for celiac sufferers to dine out,” Guidara said. “It is time for that to change, and we hope others will follow suit in developing their own gluten-free menus. Everyone benefits when that happens.”

A Helpful Tip for Summer Road Trips

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – When 39-year-old Tricia Martin was a young girl, summer vacation often meant a three-day drive from the northwest suburbs of Chicago to Denver. It meant sweating in a station wagon without air conditioning, feeling carsick and fighting with her younger sister. It also meant lots and lots of fast food.

“We’d wake up and have a huge breakfast, stop at McDonald’s or Burger King for lunch and dinner,” says Martin. “It was the ’70s! My parents didn’t think about calories, much less trans fat. And gas was so cheap. It probably costs me more to fill up a tank [of gas] than it cost my parents to feed us the whole trip.”

When Martin hits the road with her husband and two children this summer for their first big driving trip, fast food is decidedly not on the menu. “We eat healthy at home. Why change on a road trip? We’ll pack a ton of good food and snacks, and stop at local markets to buy groceries along the way. It should be cheaper, too.”

She is not alone. This summer, when millions of families pack up their cars in the midst of a slumping economy, many will be looking for ways to cut costs. Savings likely won’t be found at the gas pump, as analysts predict a typical summer price jump.

But paying for empty calories and saturated fat is not the only option. In lieu of the drive-thru, many families are now bringing food along for the ride. And they’re turning to products like California Innovations’ insulated coolers to keep their meals fresh. Their collapsible coolers have high-density thermal insulation that keeps food and drinks cold for an entire day of driving. And once the contents are gone, they can be collapsed and stored under a seat to save precious cargo space.

Many families pack a smaller cooler, like the Zipperless Hardbody, for snacks. With its easy-access lid, drivers can reach in and grab food or drinks without taking their eyes off the road. Both products have easy-clean, leak-proof linings so they can be wiped down and refilled for the next day of driving. Offered in a variety of styles, sizes and colors, California Innovations coolers give families a new way to eat better and cheaper on the road this summer.

When the Martin family takes off for vacation, it will be in an air-conditioned car with plenty of healthy meals and snacks. “I just don’t want my kids getting hooked on fast food,” Martin says.

For information about California Innovations coolers, visit www.californiainnovations.com.

A Helpful Tip for Summer Road Trips

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Restaurant Chains Responding to Healthier Lifestyles

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Recent studies indicate that as many as one-third of all American adults are obese. And while healthier diets provide an obvious antidote to their fattier counterparts, there is an obvious reason Americans tend to choose foods in the latter category — they taste awesome.

So, if the challenge is to marry great taste with healthier intake, and the nation’s well-being hinges on the result, health mavens couldn’t do much better than to look toward today’s more innovative restaurant chains.

For example, recently chosen for the top spot on “Health” magazine’s America’s Healthiest Chain Restaurants list, UNO has found a way to offer a menu filled with healthy choices, and to have its customers embrace these choices enthusiastically.

“We start by rejecting the notion that healthy food must sacrifice taste,” said Frank Guidara, CEO of UNO Chicago Grill. “That simply isn’t true. Granted, to achieve both, you will require the highest level of culinary talent. But we have plenty of that at UNO, and that’s why we knew we could create menu offerings that would be both healthy and delicious.”

A chef of great talent knows that for every unhealthy item added to enhance taste, a healthy alternative can be found or concocted. At UNO, that means diners can enjoy a roasted eggplant, spinach & feta flatbread pizza on multigrain crust without guilt or worry, since it has only 280 calories and six grams of fiber per serving. Diners can choose the multigrain crust option for any flatbread pizza. Another great option for a delicious entree is the lemon basil salmon, which has just 240 calories per serving.

And when it comes to carbohydrates, UNO teamed with Barilla to offer whole grain penne as an option to any pasta — helping to add more fiber and whole grains to your diet without sacrificing taste.

Just as important as healthy choices is good, easy-to-access information. That’s why UNO offers nutrition information through its Web site and on display in restaurant lobby kiosks, with categories that show diners which items are under 500 calories, which are vegetarian and which are created to serve those with food allergies. What’s more, UNO’s site offers tips for eating healthy in restaurants, including ways to lessen fat content and caloric intake without sacrificing flavor.

Healthy eating will become mainstream when everyone figures out how to combine good health with great taste, and in that pursuit, UNO is leading the way.

Expanded Health Insurance Options Increase Choices for Cancer Care

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – UnitedHealthcare and Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) announced a new multi-year agreement that will expand health care options and accessibility for many cancer patients at all four hospitals in the CTCA network.

The new agreement, effective July 1, 2009, provides UnitedHealthcare Options PPO customers access to more than 330 physicians across all four CTCA-affiliated cancer treatment hospitals. CTCA serves patients with complex cancer at hospitals located in Philadelphia and Tulsa and suburban Chicago and Phoenix.

“This is a welcome choice for cancer patients,” said Kimberly Perrin of Washington, D.C., a UnitedHealthcare plan participant who is being treated at CTCA. “Cancer patients need increased access to quality cancer care and more options when it comes to choosing a hospital that is right for each of us.”

UnitedHealthcare Options PPO customers can call the number on the back of their UnitedHealthcare member identification card to verify they have access to the CTCA hospitals. Cancer patients may also call 888-353-7687 to speak with a CTCA oncology information specialist for access verification.

“This is very good news for consumers across the nation,” said Tom Wiffler, president and CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Illinois. “The addition of CTCA to UnitedHealthcare’s broad national network gives our customers increased choice, and access to affordable, quality health care.”

The agreement is consistent with UnitedHealthcare’s longstanding commitment to promote evidence-based decision-making and aims to benefit employers and employees alike by promoting consistent, high-quality care.

“Our new agreement with UnitedHealthcare will enable more patients to access our fully integrated, individualized model of cancer care,” said Steve Bonner, president and CEO of CTCA. “At CTCA, we strive to empower patients as advocates and decision-makers. Giving patients and their families more cancer care options extends that commitment to patient empowerment.”

“Cancer patients deserve choice, access and quality when it comes to medical decisions; among the most important decisions they’ll make in their lives,” said Dr. Edgar D. Staren, senior vice president for clinical affairs and chief medical officer at CTCA.

For more information about Cancer Treatment Centers of America, visit www.cancercenter.com.

Dining Out With Food Allergies: Expert Advice for a Safe Meal

<b>Dining Out With Food Allergies: Expert Advice for a Safe Meal</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – When dining out, Americans with food allergies can find restaurant visits stressful, if not hazardous. Cross-contamination, uninformed servers or mixed-up orders can easily turn a dinner date into a fiasco involving EpiPen and ambulance.

The good news? Many restaurants are taking steps to accommodate America’s 12 million diners who have food allergies. Consumers can make informed decisions, whether they’re sensitive to shellfish or have celiac disease, a condition in which the body cannot process gluten.

“There have never been more tools available to the consumer with food allergies to access health information and to act on what they find,” said Andrea Levario, executive director of the American Celiac Disease Alliance. Levario, on behalf of UNO Chicago Grill, offers the following tips to help consumers enjoy safe and healthy restaurant meals:

– Research your options online before you come in. Responsible chains put menu information online. For example, UNO presents detailed health information, including notes about its gluten-free dishes, on its Web site, www.unos.com. If a restaurant doesn’t post nutrition and ingredient information online, try calling ahead to speak to a manager.

– Take advantage of posted information. Many restaurants offer nutritional information through lobby kiosks. Other establishments may have pamphlets that they can provide upon request.

– Alert your server. A good server will make your experience his top priority — he will want to ensure that you have an enjoyable, safe meal. Tell your server about your specific allergies, and ask him to communicate your needs to the kitchen.

– Ask the manager for special accommodations. Managers should personally check special-needs orders, adding another safety-control measure to your meal.

“Dining establishments are growing in their understanding of food allergies and other customer health needs — some in response to new laws, some voluntarily like UNO,” said Levario. “I believe these activities are an example of a very positive health-consciousness trend within the restaurant industry.”

In Down Economy, Cities Reach Out to Gay Tourists

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – As a stagnant economy has many Americans rethinking travel plans, cities are marketing to new travel demographics — including gay and lesbian tourists.

Unlike other travel brackets, gay travel has remained steady despite the economic recession. Gay and lesbian couples travel more often and spend more money while on vacation than straight couples. According to a 2006 study conduced by the U.S. Travel Association, gay men spend about $800 per trip. Straight men spend $540.

Cities are heeding the trend. In 2003, Philadelphia launched its $300,000 a year “Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay” marketing campaign. Now, the city ranks as America’s 13th largest gay and lesbian travel destination. Southwest Airlines is currently working with the city to attract even more gay and lesbian visitors.

In addition to Philadelphia, Miami, with its historic art deco hotels, beaches and happening nightlife, continues to draw gay and lesbian vacationers. But as the gay tourism market becomes more competitive, the city is working to draw new visitors. In April 2009, the city held a Gay Pride Festival to celebrate gender rights and sexual equality. Twenty thousand visitors showed up to enjoy a parade and the Miami Gay Men’s Chorus and to wave rainbow-colored flags.

“In the past few years, other cities like Key West have cut into Miami’s gay tourism,” says Frederic S. Richardson, CEO of MOD Hospitality (www.eastcoastventures.com), which owns the Astor and Clinton hotels — two of the top-ranked hotels in South Beach. “It’s time that Miami reasserts itself as one of the gay cultural centers of the world.”

Chicago, which hosted the 2006 Gay Games — a quadrennial athletic and cultural event — continues to pursue gay and lesbian tourists. The Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau writes a quarterly newsletter directed toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender travelers, and plans to host an International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association board meeting.

“Chicago, frankly, is just now catching up to other cities who have been aggressively wooing the pink dollar,” said Mark Theis, executive vice president of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, in an interview with the the Chicago Tribune. “We want people to know how gay-friendly we are and the wealth of attractive assets we have.”

Cookie Sundae Adds Fun Twist to Classic

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Cake and ice cream and brownie sundaes. The warmth of the freshly baked pastry, slowly working its way through decadent ice cream smothered in chocolate topping is a temptation few people can resist. And while the indulgent dessert remains popular, it takes a little innovation to make the dish unique.

Uno Chicago Grill, famous for their Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, put their spin on the dessert and now serve “The Deep Dish Cookie Sundae,” a cookie baked into a deep-dish shape, then covered with whipped cream and ice cream, and topped with chocolate sauce. Lucky for us, the dessert is easy to make at home:

The Deep Dish Cookie Sundae

8 ounces chocolate chip

cookie dough

1 scoop vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup whipped cream

1 ounce chocolate sauce

1 7-inch, deep-dish or cake pan

Temperature-resistant plate, lined with a moist napkin

Cooking spray (such as Pam)

1. Spray the pan, bottom and sides, with cooking spray.

2. Place your favorite cookie dough into the pan. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan.

3. Bake the cookie according to dough directions.

4. Place hot cookie pizza onto the temperature-resistant plate lined with a moistened napkin.

5. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center of the cookie pizza.

6. Place whipped cream next to the ice cream in a decorative fashion.

7. Stripe chocolate sauce over the entire cookie pizza.

8. Serve immediately.

For other fun variations, try:

– A peanut butter cookie dough with chocolate and vanilla ice cream

– A chocolate-chip cookie dough with coffee ice cream.

– A sugar cookie dough with strawberry or blackberry ice cream

– A chocolate cookie dough with mint chocolate chip ice cream

– A snickerdoodle cookie dough with vanilla bean ice cream

– A chocolate cookie dough with cookies-and-cream ice cream