Insurance Update
February 2016
Issue No. 65
In this issue

Valentine celebration ideas



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  A not-for-profit ministry of
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust Inc.

Church of the Brethren Insurance Services provides the following products: dental, vision, basic life and accidental death & dismemberment, supplemental life and AD&D, dependent life and AD&D, retiree life, long-term disability, short-term disability, and Medicare supplement for eligible Church of the Brethren employees .
Dental, vision, retiree life, and Medicare supplement coverage may also be available for eligible retired Church of the Brethren employees.
For eligibility information, call Connie Sandman at 800-746-1505, ext. 366, or contact your human resources representative.
Medical and ancillary plans (named above) may be available to Brethren-affiliated employer groups.
Long-Term Care Insurance is available for all members of the Church of the Brethren, their family and friends, and employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities. 

Contact Us 
1505 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120

As we begin February and see Valentine's Day heart symbols everywhere we look, we want to encourage you to think about the many ways you can choose to have a healthy physical heart, in addition to the many ways you can keep your emotional heart happy and beating with love for your family, friends, and the world around you.

What better month for the American Heart Association to proclaim "American Heart Month" than February, the month of Valentine's Day! According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices.
It makes perfect sense that the condition of your heart would have a great impact on your insurance needs, so in the issues of Insurance Update that come to you each month, we always try to encourage our readers to make healthier choices.
May your heart experience a wonderful Valentine's Day, and stay healthy all year long.

25 ways to nourish the heart on Valentine's Day

During the month of February, we are inundated with ads, messages, and other information about professing love for the people in our lives. A great deal of attention is given to both the spiritual and physical role of the heart. With all this focus on matters of the heart, it makes sense to consider what we need to do to keep this part of our body nourished and healthy in every way. This year, why not put a new twist on a Valentine's Day gift for your loved one, and make it heart-healthy? Here are 25 ideas:

  1. Flowers may be the most heart-healthy gift you can give. They are beautiful. They lift the spirit. They express love. They produce no calories. Who knows, they may even relieve stress!
  2. Rather than tempting your beloved with sweets, find a poem that describes your feelings and write it on beautiful paper for a handmade Valentine, or choose a lovely font and print it, or spend extra time searching for that perfect Valentine's Day card.
  3. Plan an active outing such as sledding, ice skating, gathering wood for a fire, hiking, biking, or visiting an indoor rock wall.
  4. If your kids or grandchildren are having a Valentine's Day party at their school or day care, instead of sending candies, consider raisins, grapes, whole-grain pretzels, colored pencils, or stickers as tokens of their friendly affection.

  5. Prepare a romantic candlelit dinner at home using a heart-healthy recipe.
  6. Plan a whole Valentine's Day menu of heart-healthy recipes.
  7. Give to one another by giving back. Ask your sweetheart to volunteer with you at a local organization. Giving back is a healthy habit that can boost your mood and help beat stress.
  8. Use this day to tell your loved one how important he or she is to you. Talk together about ways that you can support each other's health and wellness.
  9. Together take the My Life Check Assessment.
  10. Give up smoking or help a loved one quit -- it's one of the best things you can do for your heart. Smoking is the most preventable cause of premature death.
  11. Learn the most common symptoms of a heart attack and how to prevent it.
  12. In place of something sweet with lots of sugar, give a beautiful fresh fruit basket to your loved one.
  13. If you go out for a romantic dinner date, order one entrée to share. Many restaurant servings are enough for two -- splitting will keep you from overdoing it. Here are some tips for dining out.
  14. How about a Valentine treat for your dog, if you have one? And remember, walking or exercising your dog daily will benefit your health.

  15. Go slow on the chocolate -- if you receive a luxurious box of chocolates from your sweetheart, put it in the freezer and enjoy those chocolates in moderation over the next several weeks.
  16. Take a long, romantic walk with your beloved -- and try to make it a regular habit. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week to help keep your heart healthy.
  17. Rekindle the old flame in a new way. Prepare one of your sweetheart's favorite recipes in a healthier way. Look for healthy substitutions that can help you cut down on saturated fats, trans fats, salt, and added sugars, while noticing little, if any, difference in taste.
  18. Pay attention to heart-check marks. Look for them at the grocery store and select products that display them, indicating limits on the amount of total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium in a food.
  19. Celebrate Valentine's Day with salmon. Fish may not seem romantic, but it's good for the heart. For ideal health, you should eat fish (particularly oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, or tuna) twice a week.
  20. Avoid fried foods on Valentine's Day! Instead of frying - which adds unnecessary fats and calories -- use cooking methods that add little or no fat, like stir-frying, roasting, grilling, or steaming.
  21. Prepare one of your less-favorite foods in a new way. Not crazy about bananas? Try grilling one for dessert. Pop grapes in the freezer for mini ice-pop snacks.

  22. Water is not a traditional Valentine's Day gift, but staying properly hydrated helps you feel (and look) better. Give your sweetheart a fun new water bottle to encourage the habit of drinking water rather than high-calorie, sugar-sweetened drinks.
  23. If you live in a cold climate, be active inside. Go mall-walking with your valentine or take a yoga class together.
  24. Enjoy snacking on Valentine's Day, but do it in moderation. It can actually keep you from overeating at meal times. Check out these heart-healthy snack ideas.
  25. Think red on Valentine's Day. Red bell peppers, radicchio, cherries, strawberries, red beans, red onions, and red tomatoes, for example, are all packed with vitamins, cancer-fighting antioxidants or cholesterol-busting fiber and protein.
More important than anything you do with your sweetheart is just to be with him or her. Suspend activity, turn off the electronic devices, and spend time together. Quiet, loving moments lift the heart and are good for the heart. On Valentine's Day take time for the heart.

Some Valentine's Day recipes to pique your interest
Looking for heart-healthy recipes for Valentine's Day? You can find lots of them on the Internet. Here are a few to get you started.
Heart-shaped almond date bars
Author: Itsy Bitsy Foodies
Recipe type: Snack
Prep time:  10 mins
Total time:  10 mins
Serves: 24+
You can make these simple energy bars with only two ingredients (nuts and dates), but feel free to doctor them with chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and other goodies as you like.
  • 2 cups whole almonds
  • 4-5 cups loosely-packed dates, pitted
  • 1 cup Craisins (or additional dates)
  • ¼ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut, optional

  1. If your dates still have pits, cut the dates in half lengthwise and remove the pits.
  2. Pulse the almonds and dates in a food processor until your desired consistency is reached, adjusting the amount of dates and almonds as needed.
  3. You should be able to pick up a bit of the mixture and press it between your fingers without it being sticky and without it crumbling apart.
  4. If desired, pulse in chocolate chips, shredded coconut, and/or any other ingredients.
  5. Line a 10x14-inch pan with parchment paper and press the almond-date mixture into the pan to reach your desired thickness. (I like them to be ½ to 1 inch thick.)
  6. Cut into 32 squares, or bigger bars, or heart shapes using a cookie cutter (and save the cut-out scraps for snacks for yourself!).
Red berry celery smoothie recipe
Recipe type: Snack
Total time:  5 mins
Yield: 4 cups
  • 4-5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1-2 bananas, chopped
  • 1 red delicious apple, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup water

In a blender, preferably a powerful one, combine celery, bananas, frozen strawberries, frozen raspberries, and water. Blend on the highest speed until smooth and creamy.
Heart-in-apple sandwich
  • Apple
  • Peanut butter
  • Granola
  • Dark chocolate chips
  • Small heart-shaped cookie cutter

  1. Leaving the skin on the apple, slice it in very thin slices with the core in the center.
  2. Cut out the middle of each slice with the cookie cutter
  3. Spread the peanut butter on one of the slices. Add some granola and a few chocolate chips to the peanut butter.
  4. Put a second slice on top of the peanut butter, granola, and chocolate chip mix to create a sandwich.

Oven-fried chicken with roasted potato wedges
Serves: 4
Oven-Fried Chicken
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 whole, skinless chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and place over a baking sheet.
  2. Cut chicken in to 8 pieces (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks).
  3. In a shallow dish, combine buttermilk and egg; whisk well.
  4. In a separate shallow dish combine flour, paprika, and pepper; stir well.
  5. One piece at a time, dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, then coat with flour and place on baking rack.
  6. Lightly spray chicken with cooking spray and bake 30 minutes, turn chicken and bake 20 minutes more until center reaches a safe temperature of 165 degrees. (Optional: If you prefer darker brown, crispy chicken, turn on the oven's broiler for the last 2 minutes, but keep an eye on the tenders so they don't burn!)

Oven-Roasted Potatoes
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled if desired, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. dried parsley

  1. After chicken is done, keep oven at 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Arrange potato wedges on cookie sheet so none overlap and coat lightly with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix garlic powder, pepper, and parsley.
  3. Sprinkle herb mixture over potatoes and bake for 15 minutes.
Stir and bake 15 minutes more until wedges pierce easily with a fork.
 LTCILong-Term Care Insurance

While you are thinking about your loved ones on Valentine's Day, consider long-term care insurance, because there is nothing better you can do for those you love than ensure that you will be well-cared-for.
Despite your best efforts, there is always the chance you could suffer a debilitating illness or a disabling accident. And, of course, if you live long enough, the time will come when you will need some extra care. Long-term care insurance makes sure that you will get the care you need. It assures that your medical bills will not eat up your savings. Finally, and this is one of the best things about LTCI, it protects your children and other relatives from having to use their resources to care for you.
Brethren Insurance Services offers Long-Term Care Insurance for all members and employees of the Church of the Brethren and their family and friends; and also for employees of Church of the Brethren-affiliated agencies, organizations, colleges, and retirement communities and their families and friends.
If you are interested in obtaining this coverage, contact Brethren Insurance Services at or 800-746-1505 for a free, no-obligation proposal or  click here to request more information.