7 Foods to Avoid for a Better Night Sleep

While diet is only one factor to getting a better night of sleep, it is an important thing to pay attention to if you are having trouble sleeping. It is advised to stop eating at least three hours before bed if possible.

  1. Dark Chocolate: A nightly sweet tooth might be hard to avoid, so it is best to try and avoid dark chocolate as it is packed with caffeine. While dark chocolate is the healthiest chocolate to eat, it is the worst one to eat just before bed. Tea, cocoa and coffee are also high-caffeine items that shouldn’t be consumed before bed.
  2. Spicy Foods: Spicy foods and tomato-based foods typically cause some sort of indigestion and heartburn, so consuming these foods before bed is really not a good idea. Sleeping with heartburn can be next to impossible, so if you know you’re going to a late night taco night be sure to take an antacid before hand.
  3. Alcohol: Although many of us may use alcohol to relax at the end of the day, it will likely cause a disruption in sleep, making the REM sleep cycle hard to reach.
  4. Fatty Foods: Greasy, fatty foods like cheesy pizza or lasagna takes longer to digest. When eaten on a regular basis, or right before bed, it can give you unwanted extra energy when you need to be sleeping. Additionally, high protein meats are hard for the body to digest as well, so the odds are if you chow on a big steak before bed, you’ll have a much more restless night of sleep.
  5. Beans: The stomach has a hard time digesting beans, causing it to grumble and have gas. Avoid eating foods with beans before bedtime to sleep better and have a happier stomach.
  6. Water: While drinking plenty of water is important to keep hydrated, if you drink too much in the evening hours, you may need the bathroom in the middle of the night, interrupting your sleep. Try drinking more water throughout your morning and daytime, so that you aren’t really thirsty at night.
  7. Candy and Carbonated Drinks: While neither of these items have caffeine listed as an ingredient, caffeine can be found naturally in the sugars and other ingredients in carbonated drinks. The high amounts of sugar found in gummy bears and sour patch kids will give your body a sugar spike and a burst of energy. Snacking on some candy and washing it down with a soda at the end of the night is a sure way to have a restless night of sleep.

4 Alaska State Fair Events Your Kids Shouldn’t Miss

The annual Alaska State Fair in Palmer is a big deal for most Alaskans, especially those residing in South Central Alaska. Aside from the concert series, food and carnival, there are many family-friendly events and exhibits that your kids shouldn’t miss this year.

  1. Kids Day: Every year the fair has a Kids Day where children 12 and under get into the fair free! So if you’re trying you figure out how you can afford to bring your big family or some of your kids’ friends with you to the fair, be sure to go on August 26, 2016. From babies to pre-teens, there are events, games and races going on throughout the day at the KTVA 11 News Corral.  Get the full schedule for Kids Day here. Also, be sure to check out Two buck Thursday and Family Day as well for additional discounted days for your family. For all discounts available during the fair time check out their website.
  2. Canine Adventures: If your kid loves dogs, be sure to check out the fair on August 28 for a line-up of doggie demonstrations and shows. From herd dogs to search and rescue dogs, your family is sure to enjoy one or all of these shows at the KTVA 11 News Corral 12:00pm-6: 30pm. For the full schedule and more details click here.
  3. Petting Zoo at the Barn: This is a must for all kids who go to the fair. The GCI petting zoo is so much fun and educational for everyone who visits it. After visiting the petting zoo and washing your hands, be sure to check out all the other animals in the barn. Stopping at the poultry area and looking at the baby chickens is always a fair-goer favorite. Lastly, while in the barn be sure to check out all the produce and flowers on display. Get your photo with the biggest pumpkin of the year and try to guess its weight before looking.
  4. MVFCU Kid Zone: This area is all for kids and this year it is set up for Brads World Reptiles. Interact with live reptiles and learn about the amazing animals of the world. This educational space is always fun and entertaining for the whole family. Plus, if it is raining or chilly out, it offers a nice break from the outdoor elements.

5 Reasons You Should Have Some Honey Everyday

Aside from its delicious sweet flavor, honey offers many medicinal benefits making it a popular kitchen item for many years. Check out these five benefits from eating some honey on a regular basis.

  1. Allergies bee gone: While there are no clinical tests to prove it, a common theory about honey -especially honey made local to where you live, can help you fight off seasonal allergies. The idea is that the small amount of pollen in the honey can help your body build immunity to the pollens in the air causing your eyes and throat to itch.
  2. Bee energized: As an all-natural unprocessed sweetener, a little bit of honey can act as a short-term energy booster. Add some honey to your morning tea for a little extra pep in your step in the morning time. A little bit of honey before a long workout can really help boost endurance as well.
  3. Bee Healthy: In addition to helping soothe a sore throat and cough, many believe that the antioxidants found in honey can help prevent heart disease and cancers. So add some honey to your tea to ease the symptoms of the common cold and you might be fighting off other diseases as well! Additionally, it is said that the natural antioxidants found in honey can help boost memory and prevent memory loss over time.
  4. Honey can Heal: The antibacterial properties found in honey are great for fighting off infections and treating open wounds or burns. While there is no proven evidence that honey heals wounds, many people have found it beneficial in an emergency situation, or when other medications failed to help them. Never replace conventional medicines with natural ones before consulting your physician.
  5. Beecause it’s Delicious: Honey can be used in food for just about any occasion. As a natural sweetener, it is easy to replace regular sugar with honey in most recipes. From baked goods to holiday recipes, the uses for honey in your home are endless.  Check out this honey website for many honey recipe ideas!

4 Wildfire Safety Tips

With a warmer and drier-than-average summer here in Alaska, we have to be aware not only of how to prevent wildfires, but what to do when one starts near you or your home.

Prepare Your Family: As wildfire-caused evacuations are a very real possibility for many Alaskans, it is best to have the entire family educated and prepared about what to do in case a wildfire sparks up near you. Spend time each year to review fire safety and wildfire prevention methods with your kids. Talk to your family about your specific evacuation plan, emergency meeting locations, multiple escape routes and plans for pet evacuation as well.

Emergency Supply Kit: A well-stocked emergency supply kit in your home and vehicles can make a life-saving difference in the event of a wildfire. Each year assure that your family emergency supply kit is fully stocked with everything you may need. Some ideas for important items to include in these kits are:

  • Three-day food and water supply for everyone in the family, including pets.
  • First Aid Kit
  • A map with multiple marked escape routes
  • Battery-powered radio and flashlight
  • Prescription medications
  • A change of clothes
  • Copy of important documents
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Extra cash, credit cards and car keys

Learn Before You Burn: If you plan to burn your back yard debris, be sure to check local conditions and regulations on the matter and prepare your burn space appropriately. Never burn when it is windy or vegetation is really dry. Make sure no power line or tree branches are above your burn space and that there is plenty of wet gravel surrounding your burn space. Keep your burn pile small and contained, adding new material as the pile burns down. Stay until the fire is completely out and maybe douse it in water for added precaution.

Campfire Safety: While camping is a popular form of recreation in Alaska, campfires are often the cause of massively damaging wildfires simply because the basic safety precautions were not taken seriously. When building, maintaining and extinguishing a campfire, it is best to practice some precautions to avoid causing a much bigger fire. First, it is good to make sure campfires are allowed in the area. Next, if the campground doesn’t offer a fire ring, clear a large space of its debris at least 15 feet away from your tent and dig a hole about a foot deep; surround the hole in rocks, and your fire pit is ready. Be sure to keep the fire small and maintainable.  When extinguishing the fire, pour water on it until the soot is cool, not just until the flames are gone. Embers will burn for hours or even days waiting for the right amount of wind to hit them and start a new fire. If no water is available cover the fire in dirt and sand until the ground is cool. Never leave embers burning thinking they will go out on their own.

For up-to-date information about wildfires across the country, check out the Red Cross Active Wildfire Map. For more information on wildfire preparedness visit the Ready for Wildfire Website.

4 Things to make with your wild berry harvest

Alaska is covered in wild berries ready to be picked and turned into delicious treats. Try some of these options for an extra delightful berry harvest this year.

  1. Jam: Turning your various berry harvests into a juicy jam is a nice way to make your sweet fruit last all winter long. After jarring you favorite jam recipe, you might not have to buy any for months, plus homemade jams make great gifts. Try adding different ingredients from your garden to your jam such as basil for a uniquely delicious strawberry basil jam.
  2. Desserts: From blueberry pie to strawberry cakes, there are many delicious desserts that can be made with all the fresh blueberries, strawberries, salmonberries, raspberries and blackberries you’ve managed to collect this summer. Blackberry frozen fruit bars, strawberry short cake, sorbets and chocolate raspberry trifle cakes are just a few possibilities for all your fresh berries. Check out the Southern Living Website for some recipes and ideas for fresh berry desserts.
  3. Parfaits and fruit salads: While some might consider these also a dessert, others consider them a partially healthy side dish, or lunchtime sweet snack. Pack some of that fruit into a travel container and bring some yogurt and granola in your lunch for a fresh fruit parfait. There are many varieties of fruit salad, so get creative with the fresh flavors you have. A good go-to is a bunch of fruit and whipped cream mixed up in a bowl: sweet and tasty.
  4. Smoothies: If you are looking for a new breakfast or post-workout snack, try turning your fresh berries into a fresh smoothie. Add any supplements or protein powders you like to make it a more balanced and full meal, or just simply enjoy the blended fruit with some milk or yogurt and ice. Getting tired of your favorite smoothie recipe? Try the Food Network’s many smoothie varieties.

5 Things to Improve Your Family Dog’s Health

We all love our family pet; for many of us, that’s a furry canine companion.  In addition to a healthy diet and getting spayed or neutered at the appropriate age, there are many aspects to having a healthy happy dog. These six recommendations should be considered for optimal health of your family dog.

  1. Annual Wellness Exams and Vaccines: Taking your pet to see your trusted vet for an annual wellness exam can be very helpful to not only stay up to date on vaccines but also to possibly detect a health problem before it gets worse. However, do not hesitate to take your pet in for a check up if something seems wrong in between annual exams.
  2. Regular grooming: While every breed has different grooming needs, in general it is important for every dog’s health and comfort to be groomed on a regular basis. Regularly brushing your dog will prevent their fur from clumping up and turning into uncomfortable fur mats.  Imagine having your fur all over your body and then having something pull at it at all times. In addition to preventing fur mats, brushing your dog on the regular gives you a chance to check your dog for fleas, ticks, burs, injuries or unusual lumps or masses. Grooming and hygiene for your dog doesn’t stop at a good brushing, it is also important to brush your dogs’ teeth and clip its nails on a regular basis as well to prevent plaque build up and painful nail breaks.
  3. Microchip: If your pet gets lost, runs away or is stolen, a microchip could help bring you back together. Painless to your dog and easy on the finances, this device has reunited many dogs with their owners, some years later. Typically inserted in the dogs’ scruff, a vet can scan your pet to confirm or discover a dog’s owner. While the microchip does not track your pet, it can help return your pet to you if scanned by a vet or shelter.
  4. Unconditional love: While this may seem like a no-brainer to many, it is sometimes hard for others. When we bring a pet into our family we are agreeing to love it and take care of it to the best of our ability for the remainder of its life. Training a puppy or owning a dog during a stressful time in life can be difficult. It is important to remember that your dog will be as loyal to you as you are to them; loving your dog is not only important for a healthy bond, it will make your dog happier and easier to train. If you come home to an angst-ridden dog that chewed up your feather pillows, or a puppy with a pile of poop on your favorite rug, remember they are loving, innocent creatures who just want to be loved by you in return.
  5. Consistent Activity: A giant fenced-in back yard to roam in at will, or three walks a day, or a bunch of dog toys is not always enough for a dog to be happy. Engaging activities and constant training will keep our dog alert, smart and happy to be working its brain. Ever have a dog that destroys your house when you leave it home alone all day? Try more exercise, teaching it new tricks, or taking it to the dog park to be social. Dogs need regular mentally stimulating exercise not only for their physical health, but for their mental health as well.

Bonus tip: Is your family traveling or moving with your dog outside of Alaska? Be sure to talk to a local vet about the different pest and plant dangers there may be in the area such as fleas, ticks or cactuses. Additionally, every state and country typically has widely varying dog laws and regulations that every dog-owning family should be aware of when traveling or moving to a new location.



5 Water Safety Tips Every Alaskan Should Know

Alaska is surrounded by water on three of her big glorious borders.  Water safety is a huge priority when it comes to being on, in or near the many lakes, rivers and bays Alaska has to offer. From frigid temperatures to unpredictable weather and water conditions, being aware of these water safety tips could be very helpful for your family this summer.

  1. Never go alone, always have a plan: Boating or swimming alone is never a good idea. Having someone else with you while on the water is good because if you find yourself in an emergency, you can work together to get home safely. For example, if one person begins to have trouble in the water, the other can either help if they are lifeguard certified or can get help; whereas someone boating or swimming alone may encounter difficulty and not be able to call for help. Be sure to always tell someone who isn’t going on the trip where you are going and when you plan to be back. This is in case you end up stranded, someone at home knows to send for help when you don’t arrive safely home at your predetermined time.
  2. Survival Gear is Crucial: Having a life jacket that fits for every individual going on or in the water is very important. The water conditions are cold and unpredictable so having your life jackets on for every boat ride could save the lives of anyone on board in the event of an emergency. In addition to life jackets, it is good to be prepared with a first aid kit, extra water and other survival supplies, such as flares and rain gear.
  3. Check the weather: Always check the current and predicted weather conditions not only for land but for the water as well. It is not good enough to look outside or look at the water and determine it is a good day to go kayaking. Look at the USGS website and the National Weather Service website for current and forecasted weather and water conditions. While you might have a plan for a kayaking day or lake swimming day, it may not be possible or safe due to current conditions; so always look before you go to avoid putting yourself into a dangerous situation.
  4. Watch for wildlife: Alaska is filled with wildlife, and they love our plentiful freshwater supplies as well. When boating in a river or fishing on the bank, always watch for curious or hungry bears and moose swimming or grazing near by. The bears can be territorial over riverbanks and spots around lakes as it may provide them not only water but plenty of food too. Respect the bear and give it space by moving to a different spot when you spot one nearby. Moose often have one or two babies following them around in the summer. They will become aggressive if you seem threatening or manage to find yourself in between a mother moose and her young. Always be watching, listening, and alert that while the waterways may serve as fun for you, they are crucial homes to the wildlife.
  5. Know how to swim: In addition to Alaska having a lot of bodies of water around and in it, the world itself is made up of 75% water, making it pretty important for everyone to know how to swim before going in or on water. To make your family outing enjoyable and safe, make sure everyone in the family is confident in their swimming abilities. In addition to swimming classes, many water safety classes are offered around Alaska, teaching its residents about the various types of emergencies and methods of survival. Knowing how to swim and what to do in a water-related emergency is so important for a safe, fun family boating trip or swim in the lake.

For more information on boating safety in Alaska and to learn about educational resources for your children, visit the Alaska Department for Natural Resources Website on boating safety.


4 Recipes Every Alaskan Household Should Try

Alaskan residents know that summer season means that it’s time to hunt, fish and gather the many wild foods our state has to offer. From harvesting rhubarb, picking buckets of wild berries, to cleaning and processing fresh wild meat, the summer season can be a very rewarding for many Alaskan families. Gathering, processing and storing all the fresh food is one thing, but learning the best way to cook these Alaskan delicacies is another aspect that is learned and perfected by most Alaskan households. If you haven’t already, be sure to try these recipes with your wild Alaskan foods this year!

Salmonberry Cake: Salmon berries are everywhere, just look for their big green leaves and their pretty little white flowers, or if it is berry season, those flowers will have evolved into yummy plump and pink berries. Do you see a bunch on your favorite hike or around your property? Gather all those tasty berries to eat as-is, turn into jam, pies and custards. If you are looking for something quick and easy, try out this yummy Salmonberry Cake recipe!

Moose Meat Stew: If your family is into hunting or you are close with someone who is, you might end up with some tasty moose meat in your freezer this fall. The meat of a moose can be used in every way one would use the meat of a cow.When cooking moose meat there are many options depending on the type of meat you have. If you have ground burger meat, you can make burgers, chili, tacos and so much more. Our families’ favorite recipe for a chilly fall day is a delicious moose meat stew. While there are many recipes with variations and most Alaskans will have their own family favorite ways to prepare it, this recipe proves to be pretty tasty.

Rhubarb Crisp: Many Alaskan yards and gardens have an over-abundance of this tasty plant. Some regard it as an annoying weed, and some happily harvest every bit, turning it into jams, pies, fruit bars or just eating it raw with some sugar. The taste of the plant plain is pretty bitter, but with some sugar it becomes a sweet treat. Try out this yummy rhubarb crisp recipe if you haven’t already!

Sweet and Spicy Salmon: There are not many households in Alaska without some freshly caught salmon in their freezer. While many Americans will pay top dollar for a filet of fresh salmon, Alaskans have enough to eat it all year long. Coming up with various and new ways to prepare and cook your salmon can become a challenge after many years of benefiting from Alaska’s lush lands. Instead of the classic lemon and seasonings recipes, try out this sweet and spicy salmon recipe for something new and delicious.