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(Family Features) From finances and health concerns to lengthy to-do lists, there are numerous sources of strain in the lives of most people.

According to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research, 68 percent of people feel stress on a weekly basis and 32 percent are stressed every day. Women, in particular, are impacted, as 25 percent surveyed reported experiencing stress multiple times a day. However, today there is a surprisingly simple way to relieve stress: flowers.

Floral arrangement on end table

New research from the University of North Florida’s Department of Public Health shows that living with flowers can significantly alleviate daily stress. These findings follow decades of behavioral research studies conducted by researchers at universities including Harvard, Rutgers and Texas A&M that demonstrate flowers’ ability to make people happy, strengthen feelings of compassion, foster creativity and even provide boosts of energy.

The study, titled The Impact of Flowers on Perceived Stress Among Women, concludes that adding flowers to indoor environments results in a statistically significant and meaningful reduction in stress.

“There is a growing body of research that illustrates how environmental design positively impacts health,” said lead researcher Erin Largo-Wight, Ph.D., associate professor of the University of North Florida’s Department of Public Health. “Now it is both intuitive and scientifically known that adding elements of nature, like flowers, to interiors promotes well-being.”

The specific results include:

- The average reduction in stress among women who received and lived with flowers was minus-5.5 points on the perceived stress questionnaire, a significant statistical decrease in stress.

- Flowers are a unique gift with the proven potential to reduce stress among women, likely because flowers provide the opportunity for nature contact, an established health-promoting environmental exposure.

- Participants who received flowers overwhelmingly reported that flowers improved their moods.

“Our findings are important from a public health perspective because adding flowers to reduce stress does not require tremendous effort to generate a meaningful effect,” Largo-Wight said. “When life seems to be in a constant state of frenzy, flowers can provide a much-needed moment of calm.”

For more information about the study, along with tips on relieving stress, visit

When school is in session, it’s the perfect time to renew your family’s healthy eating habits by getting in a

groove of lunchbox packing.

While packing a healthy school lunch day after day can seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. By taking the free Power Your Lunchbox Promise, you can gain access to customizable, make-ahead lunchbox inspiration like Black Bean Empanadas and Rainbow Bento Boxes, which creatively include servings of fruits and veggies to keep kids’ brains charged all day.

Making the promise not only signals a commitment to making healthier meal choices this year, it also helps those in need. For every promise made, health-focused partner brands will collectively donate $1 to Feeding America programs that support families and children. In addition to kid- and registered dietitian-approved breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner recipes, the promise website features coupons, health tips to help your family during the school year, lunchbox ideas and giveaways.

Additionally, teachers have a special section of the site where they can make the promise as a classroom and download free fruit and veggie themed classroom decor and lesson plans.

To find your lunchbox inspiration and make the promise, visit

Rainbow bento box lunch

Rainbow Bento Box

Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids

Prep time: 15 minutes

Servings: 2

2 red mini sweet peppers, sliced

1 mandarin, peeled and segmented

1 kiwi, sliced

1/2 cup sugar snap peas

1/4 cup blueberries

1/2 cup red seedless grapes

1 large spinach wrap

1 tablespoon hummus

2 slices provolone cheese

2 ounces low-sodium deli-sliced turkey

1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped

Assemble two lunchboxes each with half of the peppers, mandarin, kiwi, snap peas, blueberries and grapes.

Lay wrap on flat surface. Spread with hummus and top with cheese, turkey and spinach. Roll up tightly and slice into 1-inch thick rounds. Add half to each lunchbox.

Black bean empanada lunch

Black Bean Empanadas

Recipe courtesy of Produce for Kids

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Servings 6

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

3 mini sweet peppers, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onions

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1 cup no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon low-sodium taco seasoning

12 frozen empanada discs, thawed

3/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

1 large egg white, beaten

6 guacamole minis

6 packages crispy fruit

In skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add peppers, onions and tomatoes. Cook 3-4 minutes, or until tender. Add black beans and taco seasoning. Cook 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Heat oven to 375 F.

Lay empanada dough out on parchment-lined baking sheet. Fill with black bean filling and 1 tablespoon cheese. Fold dough over filling to create pocket. Use fork to press down sides to seal. Brush with egg whites. Repeat with remaining dough, filling, cheese and egg whites.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

Serve two empanadas with guacamole, for dipping, and crispy fruit on side.

Source: Produce for Kids

bunny oatmeal breakfast

Eating a nutritious breakfast helps kids start their day off right, and new research reminds us why serving real dairy milk is so important for the first meal of the day. As little as 7 grams of milk protein at breakfast could help set kids up with building blocks they need to grow after a good night’s sleep, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition.

It’s no secret that kids need nutritious foods to fuel their constantly growing bodies, but there’s a period of time when they’re not getting these nutrients – during sleep. Of course kids need sleep – and plenty of it - but as they slumber, they’re using up their body’s energy stores, and if they don’t refuel in the morning it could potentially impact their ability to grow. That’s why a proper breakfast is so important, to ensure kids make up for this overnight fast.

In this new study, University of Toronto researchers gave 28 boys and girls ages 7-11 a breakfast of 170 calories that included 0, 7, 14 or 21 grams of milk protein. While more protein at breakfast was more beneficial, researchers found as little as 7 grams was enough to promote positive effects over the next nine hours.

Serving an 8-ounce glass of milk, which has 8 grams of high-quality protein, each day at breakfast is an easy way to get kids protein they need to support optimal growth and development. In fact, a previous study in the American Journal of Human Biology suggests regularly drinking milk during the growing years (all the way through late teens/early twenties) is associated with greater height in the teen years, while research in Osteoporosis International has linked regularly skipping milk to reduced height.[1],[2]

Milk is also an easy way to get kids B vitamins to convert food to energy, vitamin A to support a healthy immune system, and phosphorus, calcium and vitamin D to help build strong bones. That’s why experts recommend including milk in kids’ diets. And, with a taste they love, it’s a simple, wholesome and affordable addition to any morning meal.

To kick start your child’s morning, serve a protein-packed breakfast, like this adorable bunny oatmeal, to give them nutrients they need to grow up strong. Not only will it bring a smile to your child’s face, it also gives them 18 grams of high-quality protein when served with a glass of lowfat milk.

For more information and kid-friendly recipe ideas, visit

Bunny Oatmeal

(1 serving)

Recipe courtesy of MilkPEP


1/3 cup instant oats

3/4 cup fat free milk

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2/3 of a small banana

2 fresh blueberries

1/2 of a small strawberry

Optional— chocolate syrup

Pair each serving with: 8-ounce glass of milk


In a microwave safe bowl stir together oats, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar. Microwave on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute and stir.

Cut banana in half crosswise. Cut 1 1/8-inch thick coin slices from the flat end of each banana half. Place those banana slices in the upper third of your oatmeal bowl, side by side, to make the eyes. Top with one blueberry on each banana slice.

Place the remaining banana halves at the top of the bowl, hanging out, to create the ears.

Place strawberry in the middle of the bowl to make the nose, and then drizzle chocolate if desired to make a mouth and whiskers.

Serve with an 8-ounce glass of milk.

Nutritional information per serving: 320 calories; 2 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 10 mg cholesterol; 18 g protein; 59 g carbohydrates; 5 g fiber; 190 mg sodium; 550 mg calcium (60% of daily value). Nutrition figures based on using fat free milk, and include an 8-ounce glass of milk.

[1] Wiley AS. Does milk make children grow? Relationships between milk consumption and height in NHANES 1999-2002. American Journal of Human Biology. 2005;17(4):425-441.

[2] Rockell JEP, Williams SM, Taylor RW, Grant AM, Jones IE, Goulding A. Two-year changes in bone and body composition in young children with a history of prolonged milk avoidance. Osteoporosis International. 2005;16(9):1016-1023.

Source: MilkPEP

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