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Nursing Home, Assisted Living, or Rehab Center: Which to Choose?

August 20, 2017

Source: We define the differences in the types of senior care options and the level of care that is associated with each.

Before an individual can make a decision on which type of senior health care they need or which type of facility to choose, one must understand the differences that nursing homes, assisted living campuses, or a rehabilitation center offers. Do you need short-term care, or long-term care? Is your loved one near their end days and therefore would require hospice care? Each type of care has its own unique services, cost, and usually addresses a different set of circumstances.

When we think of a nursing home, sometimes we think of the stereotypical environment of beds lined up in a row all in one room, with elderly people occupying them, tended to by an army of white uniformed nurses. The modern-day nursing home is so much more than that, and has transformed into a private environment of personal care with dignity.

Nursing homes provide care that requires licensed nurses to care for and monitor patients’ health care. Assisted living facilities, by law, cannot provide these services that require licensed nurses to administer. Patients in nursing homes nowadays usually require assistance in almost every activity of daily living such as bathing, walking, grooming, and eating. Federal and state governments heavily regulate nursing homes, a fact which is largely responsible for the high costs.

Someone who would be considering nursing home services for a loved one should remember this type of care is reserved for someone who has lost their mobility; might be on large doses of heavy medication; and/or might have mental issues associated with a physical ailment. Nursing home services provide round-the-clock care. Nursing home services are long-term care units that coordinate a range of medical, personal, and social services to meet the physical, social, and emotional needs of people who may be chronically ill or disabled. Services also include room and board, monitoring of medication, personal care, 24-hour emergency care, and social and recreational activities.

An elderly person who still has most of their mobility, however cannot live at home on their own safely, may not need a licensed nurse to provide all the care and services to maintain an independent quality of life; however now and then they may call upon an aide to assist them with daily household chores. Each assisted living facility is licensed to administer a level services needed in maintaining a quality of life for residents. Usually assisted living residents can access additional care for physical needs on and off campus depending on that particular facility. Every assisted living facility is different in some way. A new trend in the industry is having assisted living and nursing home services under one roof, just different wings of the building. This allows for continuous care of residents when they need upgrades services during times of health difficulties.

There is a wide range of assisted living choices, from vast retirement communities to a few beds under one roof of an all-inclusive senior health care facility. Someone in search of an assisted living facility must ask themselves, how much help do they need, and how much are they willing to pay? Some assisted living facilities have been designed to mimic a resort environment, where seniors can purchase a condo or an apartment within a larger complex. On the other side of the spectrum, someone in their golden years also has the choice of a quaint setting, much of that you would find at a local bed and breakfast inn.

If a person needs rehabilitation services, they most likely are recovering from a major surgery, injury or accident. The foremost reasons why seniors access the services of a rehab center are for hip and knee replacements, and strokes. Rehabilitation centers will offer occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and other therapy and counseling focused on restoring mobility and activities of daily living. Rehabilitation care is the most expensive and involved. Treatment can vary depending on the severity of the injury or surgery. Most rehabilitation situations fall under short-term care.

The newest of facilities in senior care are combining all three services under one roof. Having all of these facilities on one campus allows for patients to transition from service to service with ease and peace of mind. Facilities that offer all these divisions of care have been able to increase their volume of patients because of the continuity of care. Facilities that offer nursing home, assisted living, and rehabilitation are masters of customer service and patient care. They must balance the continued care between services for patients; they must have a well-versed understanding of the documentation and regulations associated with each type of care.

Regardless of the type of facility you choose, always do your research on the facility. Don’t be afraid to ask them the hard questions; how did they rank in their Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rating, or how did they score on the last state inspection? Remember, you are the consumer and patient, and you have to feel comfortable with putting your life and/or the life of your loved one in their hands.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy and public policy concerns. He is also a career entrepreneur who currently is the CEO/President of Extreme Energy Solutions Inc., a green tech company located in Sparta, New Jersey. Burlum lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in a number of areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management and systems integration. He is also author of the books, The Race to Protect our Most Important Natural Resource and Life in the Green Lane – in Pursuit of the American Dream.


The Real Global Warming-Climate Change Hoax

August 8, 2017

Source: The climate change-global warming debate has heated opposition from both camps of individuals, professionals, scholars, politicians, and entrepreneurs who have dug their heels in the dirt to argue why we do—or don’t—need a push for a worldwide carbon tax and initiative to curb energy consumption and harmful emissions; however what both camps fail to discuss is that all of the answers and solutions in solving this very issue are already available. So why the debate?

Whether you believe in the science in which is provided by experts in support of climate change; or if you believe that the entire issue of global warming is a hoax and made up by man, there is no ignoring this social geo-political subject matter. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle have politicized this issue, making this matter a football during election cycles. Large companies in the fossil fuel industry have spent millions of dollars to fund studies through private think tanks and institutes in the hopes of having the blessing of the scientific community in their camp. While small pockets of other causes have gathered up the muster to hire experts, experts who use computer models and data of samples taken from the earth, which they believe, provides insight to historical trends. Yet with all of this information available, the jury is still out.

According to the most recent Gallup Poll on the subject matter, one in four Americans is solidly skeptical of global warming. About 40 percent of adults under the age of 50 strongly believe that man has been a serious contributor to global warming. Another 45 percent of Americans believe in man’s contribution to climate change; however, they do not believe that we alone have made as large of an impact as experts say. The last segment of individuals polled believed that global warming and climate change is a hoax, and that there is no supporting evidence that man has created any conditions that would affect the planet’s well-being.

On National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, it was stated by the panel of journalist, environmental advocates, and community activist that the single most important issue in which their generations (X, Y, and millennia) will have to tackle is the issue of climate change and global warming. Yet, despite the over whelming evidence of climate change, in the political area is hot with debate and misbelievers.

Republicans have usually taken a positon that man has not contributed to global warming and have the stance that if we as a society are going to tackle this issue, that we should not be changing the way we do business in the name of climate change, for it will have significant negative impact on the economy and free enterprise system. They feel the financial impact that small business and large companies would have to endure to meet initiatives and goals set by their political counterparts would crush an already fragile economy. The price to pay for such a shift would then be passed onto consumers and employees, which typically take the brunt end of fiscal policies. Republicans also believe that moving away from fossil fuels and coal will cause massive unemployment when America needs jobs.

Democrats take the position that the issue of global warming is real, and they desire to take many drastic measures to curb man’s impact on rising temperatures. They feel the only way to pay for this shift is through a carbon tax, in which every household would pay for their “fair share” of environmental impact on the planet. This is in addition to other consumer related taxes that are tied to energy usage and environmental impact. This is most prevalent in the auto industry, where on every window sticker on a new car, the tax associated with Green House Gases (GHG) and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards. Cap-and-trade market proposals have also been introduced by legislation sponsored by Democrats. Cap-and-trade allows for a corporation which has high environmental standards and can prove they actually lessen their environmental impact below a set of standards, could profit from selling their “pollution credits” to other companies that need to have such allowances to be able to pollute, since the ability to prevent pollution would be cost prohibitive.

When in doubt on their position, Republicans and Democrats will turn to their “experts,” usually scientist or professors from schools of thought, who are usually hired, thus profiting from taking one position or another on the issue; whereas the experts debate the facts or fictions of this matter.

What all of these politicians, think tanks, institutes, labs, and activist groups fail to disclose are some very simple truths to this matter. Though global warming and climate change may be up for debate, what is truth is that pollution exists. Pollution that has impacted air quality such as harmful vehicle emissions, emissions of coal-fired energy producing plants, manufacturing sites, all exists. Pollution from chemicals which find their way into precious water supplies are real and can be measured and quantified. Waste management seems to still be a problem in many parts of the world where populations are skyrocketing without the infrastructure to support community growth, and there is one industry that is proving all this to be right.

When introducing its product offerings, the green technology industry has proven emissions reduction solutions through rigorous testing of current and future innovation. These tests undeniably prove that pollution exist, and that the impact of pollution can be mitigated by unleashing these technologies to market. Some of these technologies provide consumers (mass market, commercial, and industrial end users) with a return on investment, thus not costing the consumer to put these technologies to use over time.

Being in the green technology industry for almost 10 years, from personal and professional experience, I can tell you a few things that are not being told to you by politicians, community activist, or think tank organizations.

The real climate change global warming “hoax” is that technologies aimed in solving these issues are purposefully restrained from entering into the marketplace by government regulation. Other types of innovation aimed at providing mankind energy independence are usually crushed by other regulatory agencies. If you don’t believe me, just do a search under technologies that have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or companies in the green tech sector that have been sued by the Federal Trade Commission. There are many of these innovations that are crushed before they can leave the starting gate. Both sides of the political aisle know it and will not acknowledge it.

For instance, there are many rules and regulations on the books that dictate what an auto manufacturer can or cannot do in achieving fuel economy and/or in lowering harmful vehicle emissions. These regulations have been written by large technologies hoping to shut the door to competition, which may sprout up with the better mousetrap. Vehicle manufacturers are forced to comply with GHG and CAFÉ standards with one arm tied behind their back. If these barriers were lifted, the auto industry would have far greater access and latitude in adopting technology that fits their vehicle fleet and customer’s needs, rather than being told what product they will be mandated to use. Companies such as Volkswagen would no longer have to use shortcuts in meeting benchmarks if they had the freedom to choose what innovation best work for their consumers.

What Republicans don’t realize is that if the green technology industry was supported, not by handouts and government sponsored money, but by stripping away the barriers in which have been put in place by regulation, the green technology industry would explode, thus creating many new jobs. The demand for these types of products is there. Republicans need to stop demonizing the price of environmental perseveration and see it as an investment into the future. Though some of the technologies offered may be out of sight for the average citizen, there are cost effective alternatives which would allow for energy companies to work with consumer product manufacturers so that we do not have to give up our addition to fossil fuels.

On the flip side, Democrats need to stop looking to such things as penalties, fees, and taxes as a way to force new consumer behaviors upon the citizenship. Democrats are just as guilty in voting and approving regulation that stifles the green technology sector from making an impact on climate change. Folks in this camp believe government should be choosing the winners and losers of technology. An example of this is EPA’s long standing Stop the Soot National Diesel Retrofit Campaign, which forced one type of technology upon the trucking and transportation industry. This program was designed to benefit one major manufacture of emissions equipment alone, while shutting out any other affordable solutions from the free enterprise market.

As a people, we should not have to give up our freedom to travel, or drive a vehicle, because of a smog alert. In cities such as Beijing, Paris, and New Delhi, government officials enforced new rules limited one the ability to travel by private passenger car in hopes to curb smog. All of this could have been avoided if green technology received the blessing it deserved and was truly free to enter the market place.

So why are these green tech solutions not being supported in solving the issue? It’s like anything else in order to solve the problem you have to admit that one does exist. Then you have to present real solutions that can provide a benefit. One the solution is presented and adopted, the problem becomes solved. At this current time, there are so many experts and think tanks making a profit from debating this matter that they truly do not want to see it solved. If the problem was solved, political figures could not use it as a football in the game of politics.

Until we lift regulation that stifles the green technology sector from making significant impacts on barriers of entry to market, the truth is that the global warming-climate change issue will never be properly addressed. Technologies ranging from power generation to automotive fuel efficiency have all fallen prey to regulatory bodies eager to capitalize on the opportunity to defame such technologies. Until we put an end to this cycle of counterintuitive practices, these technologies continue to have an uphill battle in making it to market. Only a very small percentage of technologies aimed at making an impact on the global warming, climate change matter see the light of day. When we remove these barriers; that will be the day we end the climate change hoax and solve man’s impact on global warming.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy and public policy concerns. He is also a career entrepreneur who currently is the CEO/President of Extreme Energy Solutions Inc., a green tech company located in Sparta, New Jersey. Burlum lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in a number of areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management and systems integration. He is also author of the books, The Race to Protect our Most Important Natural Resource and Life in the Green Lane – in Pursuit of the American Dream.

America’s Endangered Species, The Main Street Business

July 28, 2017

Source: A trend has been sweeping across the American landscape – the disappearance of small, family owned, individually owned and operated “Main Street Businesses.” Small business is the economic driver of the economy, the known provider for the majority of local jobs and the main consumer of wholesale goods. Here, we will take a look at major factors influencing this trend and some steps which we can adopt to assist in reversing it.

America faces a number of serious issues as it looks to turn around its economy, job growth and infrastructure, while simultaneously tackling a number of social and moral concerns. One of the country’s most valuable assets to economic recovery, local and regional job growth, and the creation of new innovation is the family owned small business. However, in today’s hostile geo-political climate, it is getting far too difficult for a small business to survive. Why is this happening and who’s to blame? It is we who decide with our consumer dollars the fate of the economic health of our local communities. Ultimately we are to blame for this issue that  plagues our community. The responsibility falls on each of us to change our consumer habits and ideals in order to reverse this trend. We vote with our dollars on how our Main Streets will be shaped, and the view today is dismal.

Small businesses face a number of challenges right from inception, which makes one think twice about wanting to own their own business. The amount of local and state regulations that a small business must follow chews at the working capital and the amount of profit a business will be afforded, even before the business rings the cash register. Instead of embracing small business as a well-worthy community asset, civil agencies with police powers have honed in their focus on penalizing businesses for the slightest infractions as a way to increase revenue for local and state government. This occurs where such agencies and governing bodies have lost tax revenue as populations have relocated for lower cost and greener pastures. Our nation needs every small business it gets, yet some penalties in controlled industries could potentially be so severe that a business would never recover the loss and be forced to shutter its doors.

Fees incurred to register a business will take a huge bite out of any initial investment. Obtaining building permits for construction and the cost of numerous inspections which often include high-salaried professionals are needed to maneuver through the complicated rules of local and state planning and zoning laws. Oftentimes, these necessary evils are overlooked when creating a new business investment budget by folks planning to start a brick and mortar business location. Overruns in legal fees can jump to tens of thousands of dollars if a business chooses to locate in a town that desires to not foster a business community. Yearly inspections, updates to state statutes and local ordinances, and ever-changing regulations force small businesses to retain legal counsel on a regular basis.

Employee-employer relations are one of the largest risks with liability for a small business. The local store owner must spend valuable time in training staff—usually training the new hire themselves. They must hire folks at a pay scale that will be advantageous to the business’s economic health and within the allowance of that business’s available cash flow. Local businesses are limited to the initial talent they can hire based on the available dollars within that business dedicated to payroll. Small businesses also struggle to retain talent when long-term staff looks to earn more money or desire more perks beyond the paycheck.

One of the costliest benefits for a small business to provide is health care. Most small businesses only hire part-time employees because they cannot afford to offer additional benefits to full-time staffers. In the profession of business consulting, I have observed a number of clients; ones who owned small businesses. They lost key employees to competitors because they could not afford to offer more financial compensation and/or benefits to their employees.

Small businesses also face an unfair disadvantage of limited economic buying power. Most small businesses are limited on the amount of cash they can dedicate toward inventory. Those that are dependent on product-based cash flow, such as a local variety store or hardware store, only have so many dollars available to spend on purchasing inventory. These businesses are limited in where they can store said inventory. Small businesses are not purchasing large volumes of goods to resell, relative to say a chain store, that may be able to purchase a specific product for a number of stores. The result is that they do not get the same volume breaks as a big- box retailer. This factor will have an effect on the overall price a small business can retail a product for to its customers.

Small business owners face a very burdensome and complicated tax code which impacts the business’s ability to expand and grow. Many of America’s small family owned Main Street businesses are either sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC) or an S-Corporation. All of these business structures are pass-through companies, meaning that the profits and or losses of the business, as well as all taxes due (including payroll and sales tax) are ultimately the responsibility of the business owner. In the event the owner’s business does very well, the additional net profits are then reflected on the personal taxes of the business owner. In a household where the business owner’s spouse might also work and is successful financially in their career, it automatically pushes both earners into a higher tax bracket. Thus, the business owner must pay more taxes; money the business owner may have set aside toward either hiring more help or expanding the business’s product or service offerings. Most small business owners do not have the resources to hire a team of professionals to help limit tax liabilities; nor do they have the buying power of a major corporation with which to negotiate such things as payroll taxes and/or property tax incentives.

Local family owned businesses individually do not have the lobbying power to influence local legislation. Many are required to pay for memberships to trade organizations and/or business advocacy groups that will fight on their behalf on issues that affect the business’s ability to operate. Most large corporations have consultants standing by, which are employed to lobby full-time for legislation that benefits the corporation’s business model while also placing additional restrictions or regulatory burdens on small business.

As consumers, we have not made it easier for a small business to thrive. Much of their survival and success are dependent on the relationships created within the local community it calls home. A small business will usually support local causes and events important to the local demographic/geographic area in hopes to maintain positive relationships with potential customers. Because small businesses don’t have the buying power of a big-box retailer, the prices for goods or services will be slightly higher than the larger chain retailer.

Understandably, consumers have put aside the importance of having a healthy relationship with the local store owner in order to save a few bucks on products or services needed. Getting the most for our money on groceries seems like a responsible act.  Yet as consumers we fail to realize the long-term effect these decisions have on those seeking to earn an income in our own neighborhood. We have come to expect the bigger, better deal for less, without thinking about the consequences our buying decisions may have when we choose not to purchase our needs locally. This frame of mind for the consumer will ultimately create an economic ripple that will reach right back into their own homes.

In making a decision to purchase products “locally” I do mean from an independently owned family owned and operated business. A big-box retailer located minutes from your home is not considered buying local. When we purchase goods and services from a local family owned business, that business usually will keep its revenue within the community, instead of sending profit to some large corporate entity located elsewhere.

The local small business generally provides a balance of choice in products and brands for consumers. Regional product brands get their start by offering new innovation via the local merchant. What you will find in many locally owned groceries is that they will feature local brands and products manufactured locally; brands and products you may not find at large chain retailers. By supporting locally owned businesses, we are also choosing to support local suppliers. Even the quality of the goods that a small business offers is oftentimes much better than the quality of products found at chain discount stores.

Our choice to pay a few cents more for something at a local retailer makes all the difference in how we shape our local Main Street business community. We have to make a vote with our wallets to support local businesses before they all disappear, leaving us with chain store retailers. Many of these local businesses may be operated by a neighbor, friend, or family member.  As Main Streets become a ghostly sight across America, know that your spending habits were the vote that decided if your local business would exist or become one of the extinct species that helped build the America we now live in.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy and public policy concerns. He is also a career entrepreneur who currently is the CEO/President of Extreme Energy Solutions Inc., a green tech company located in Sparta, New Jersey. Burlum lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in a number of areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management and systems integration. He is also author of the books, The Race to Protect our Most Important Natural Resource and Life in the Green Lane – in Pursuit of the American Dream.

Bug Sprays: Kills Bugs or Kills Us?

July 24, 2017

Summer in Wisconsin, in my opinion, has been awesome this year. However, with the great weather that summer can bring, it also hosts those pesty little creatures like ants, flies, bees, and gnats.

I know that I have had my share of these uninvited guests in my home, and I would do anything to get them out.

My first mind led me to grab the old trusty aerosol sprays, until I started to think about how these insect killers could be affecting me and my family. When doing my research, I learned that it is a good idea to consider alternative methods to pesticides to make your house unattractive to pests. For example, historically I would purchase the various sprays for flying insects and ants. Sometimes if I ran out of one or the other, I might use the flying insect spray on the ants, hoping that my futile attempt would do the job. But according to, it is important to “always select pesticides that are designed for the pest you wish to treat.”

Pesticides are in fact poison, and they can affect your health if they potentially get into your body. This can occur through swallowing, if your skin comes in contact with pesticides directly, and if you inhale the vapors, spray, or dust. Also, if you have some of the residue on your hands and you rub your eyes after handling pesticides, this toxin can get into your system.

An important factor to understand as it pertains to keeping your home pest free, is to be more proactive than reactive—the key is to make your house unattractive to pests. Some suggestions that I found include:

  • Flies – Keep a tight lid on outdoor trash bins. Flies don’t like pyrethrum, which is a common ingredient in fly spray. You might want to plant pyrethrum daisies near your front and back doors to repel flies and other insects. Don’t forget about the flytraps or fly paper that can be hung outside where flies tend to gather.
  • Ants – Aromatherapy is a great alternative. Ants release pheromones that guide other ants to the source of food. To prevent other ants from tracking such scent trails into your house, use eucalyptus, peppermint, and clove or tea tree essential oils. Just add a few drops of the oil to a cotton ball and place in areas where you have ants attacking your home. Repeat as needed until the ants are completely gone.
    • A great recipe for making a natural ant-repellent spay using essential oils is by adding a quarter cup of water, a quarter cup of vodka, 15 drops each of peppermint and tea tree essential oils, and seven drops of citrus essential oil to a spray bottle. Shake well and spray on all areas you have seen ants trailing in and out of your home. If you want to use the spray on a food surface, replace the tea tree essential oil with an equal amount of peppermint essential oil (
  • Gnats – These little irritants can drive you crazy, and because they can populate really quickly, I have successfully used a common natural formula of about one fourth cup of apple cider vinegar and about three drops of lemon dish liquid in a cup. The gnats are attracted to this combination, causing them to enter the cup and eventually find their demise in the solution. I have read where it was recommended to add a cover over the cup with holes so the gnats can’t get out of the cup once they enter, but the cover seemed to reduce the amount of gnats that were able to access the mixture. I was able to rid my home of the many gnats with just the solution in the cup, which worked great!

So the next time you are looking to rid your home of unwanted visitors, hopefully you can just deter them from even wanting to stop by.

Zelda Corona is a business and life coach under her company Victory Vision Business Ventures, LLC. She co-authored the books No Artificial Ingredients – Reflections Unplugged and Mommy Divas on the Move: 16 Successful Secrets for Mompreneurs. She is a member of Sister Speak, a trilogy of writers who formed in 2010 with a vision of self-expression and a goal of healing. The trio states they are inspired by grace, allowing them to take a genuine position on the struggles and successes of everyday living.







The Flow

June 28, 2017

Lately, life has been extremely chaotic for me. Not so much in a negative sense, but situations keep spiraling into different directions at time warp speed. The energy in and of itself is exhilarating at times, I will admit. Maybe it’s the rush of adrenalin that surges through my blood stream making its way to my dome, releasing those magical endorphins that produces my natural high. I know it sounds odd, and I am not saying that I thrive on chaos nor am I am advocate to be in a state of constant influx . . . but life is like that. So, I decided I can either roll with the flow or let the chaos roll over me.

The latter is not an option for me. Therefore, I chose to submerge myself fully into this body of water we call life and become drenched in all it must offer me, throw at me, never taking from me but always adding to me. I am learning to feel the energy of dark matter. Dark matter is not just in the outer reaches of space, yet it is everywhere on earth filling in the nooks and crannies of this realm as well. I intuit the dark matter as I sit at my dining room table to eat a meal over candlelight and the only other two guests invited are my thoughts and dark matter. This wonderfully strange matter allows me to experience sort of an out-of-body experience giving way to a deeper connection with my creator.

My creator. Wow. Isn’t that what this thing called life with all its chaos and all its synchronicities is all about? Yes, it is. Our creator is . . . dark matter. Dark matter is the flow. I know without knowing because I accept the energy of the chaos and the rapid pace that my life is moving at. To go against the grain as they say, or to swim incongruently with the tide is madness. Madness is what takes us to the brink of destruction and ruin, even on a small-scale with our own little lives. I say little not to offend, but to show how insignificant our personal chaos is when we compare it to what is going on in the world on a grander scale. As I sit in front of this computer, feeling the warmth of the sun from the window, hearing the soft click, click, click as my nails hit the keys, I am transformed into a moment of solitude, before this day can deliver any chaos. I am one with the energy engulfing me . . . co-creating with the flow.

Sonya Marie Bowman is a writer of positive prose for the Milwaukee Community Journal and a published co-author of the book No Artificial Ingredients – Reflections Unplugged. She is a member of Sister Speak, a trilogy of writers who formed in 2010 with a vision of self-expression and a goal of healing. The trio states they are inspired by grace, allowing them to take a genuine position on the struggles and successes of everyday living.

What’s Cookin’? Rhubarb!

June 23, 2017

I always enjoy sharing my favorite recipes, especially when there’s a story behind the meals and desserts that grace the table. With rhubarb season here, one of my favorite desserts crafted from this late spring/early summer plant is rhubarb crunch, and I have the Milwaukee Brewers to thank.

Like most Milwaukeeans over the age of 40, I vividly remember the 1982 World Series. The whole town went Brewers Blue and the suds flowed as we cheered on The Crew to victory over the California Angels (now known as the Los Angeles Angels) in the American League Championship series. Unfortunately, the Brew Crew lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, but that didn’t stop people from wanting all things Brewers-related, from caps, shirts, buttons, and even candy bars and hot dogs packaged with the Brewers famous ball and glove logo—and cookbooks.

Over the years, the Brewers’ wives have done incredible charity work for the community. In 1983, the women compiled a cookbook, What’s Cookin’ with the Brewers’ Wives? as a fundraising project. Our household never owned a copy, but our downstairs neighbor at the time immediately ordered the book and shared the recipes with us. We tried many of the recipes, and a favorite turned out to be Sue Gantner’s recipe for rhubarb crunch. To this day, the dessert is still a home run with everyone I serve it to, and whenever I take a bite, I always think of that glorious 1982 Brewers season and how a baseball team united a city. And better yet, our young 2017 Brew Crew is on track to a winning season, so be ready to turn the town blue again!

Rhubarb Crunch (Sue Gantner – What’s Cookin’ with the Brewers’ Wives c. 1983)

 4 c. fresh rhubarb pieces (about 2 pounds)

2 c. sugar, divided

1 c. + 2 T. flour, divided

2 T. butter, softened

1 t. baking powder

¼ t. salt

1 egg, beaten

¼ c. dry oats

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9” baking dish. Combine rhubarb, 1 c. of the sugar, 2 T. flour, and butter. Place rhubarb mixture in baking dish and spread evenly. Mix remaining 1 c. sugar, 1 c. flour, baking powder, salt, egg, and oats, and mix until crumbly. Sprinkle flour mixture over rhubarb and shake down into pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool on rack.

  • For a vegan version, try Earth Balance butter and egg substitute – works great!

Sheila Julson is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings magazine.




Try Asparagus for Healthy Summer Grilling

May 31, 2017

Memorial Day weekend has officially kicked off the beginning of summer, and for three glorious months, we Wisconsinites can celebrate fun in the sun, enjoying outdoor gatherings with family and friends. With summer also comes grilling season, giving foodies and backyard chefs a chance to shine and experiment with more healthy options one typically wouldn’t consider grilled food, such as asparagus.

Asparagus is only available locally for a short time, and I take advantage of it by making everything from asparagus quiche to casseroles, pastas, and anything else I can think of. Asparagus is also great grilled, as I discovered when experimenting with a recipe I found several years ago while paging through an issue of Vegetarian Times.

Besides being a tasty side dish, asparagus is a good source of fiber and vitamins A, C, E, and K. It’s also loaded with antioxidants, it has lots of fiber, and it’s a natural diuretic. Instead of chips or potato salad, consider asparagus as a healthy side option for summer grilling meals. Cheers to a happy and healthy summer!

Grilled Sesame Asparagus (adapted from Vegetarian Times]

1 pound of asparagus

2 T. light sesame oil

1 T. low-sodium tamari sauce

½ t. minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

1 T. sesame seeds

Aluminum foil (for grill pouch)

Snap the thick, tough ends off of washed asparagus and discard. Cut asparagus spears into three-inch pieces (for a decorative presentation, cut stalks on an angle). Put stalks on a sheet of aluminum foil. In a bowl, whisk together sesame oil, tamari sauce, garlic, and salt and pepper and drizzle over asparagus spears. Fold foil over stalks to make a grill pouch.

Set pouch aside for about 20 minutes before grilling to let the flavors marinate. Place pouch on hot grate and grill for about three minutes. Flip pouch and grill for another three minutes. Remove from heat and test asparagus spears with a fork; if fork pierces the asparagus spears easily, they’re done; if not, return to grill for another minute or so. (Grill times may slightly vary, depending on the thickness of the spears.) Sprinkle asparagus with sesame seeds, fold pouch again and let sit for about a minute before serving.

Sheila Julson is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings magazine.