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Liver-Healthy Thanksgiving Feast Ideas

Friday, November 17th, 2017

Who says a fantastically delicious Thanksgiving spread can’t be healthy? This year, make your Thanksgiving feast even more special with these liver-healthy options that won’t give you or your family that post-holiday guilt; nor will they keep you stuck in the kitchen for hours on end! Check out these appetizing recipes for a healthy, scrumptious, easy-to-prep (or time-saving) Thanksgiving meal!

 

Starters:  Beet Bruschetta with Goat Cheese and Basil (from Feasting At Home)

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized beets (tennis ball sized) halved
  • 1 baguette, sliced at a diagonal into ½ inch thick slices
  • olive oil for brushing bruschetta
  • 1½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic
  • 10 basil leaves – cut into ribbons
  • ⅛ cup finely diced red onion or shallot
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cracked pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. In a medium put, cover halved beets with water and boil until just tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, slice baguette into ½ inch slices at a diagonal. Brush both sides with olive oil and place on a sheet pan in a 400 F (204 C) oven for 15 minutes, or until crisp. Set aside.
  4. Place cream cheese and goat cheese in a bowl and either warm in a microwave until just soft enough to combine easily with a fork. Mix with a fork until smooth. Set aside.
  5. When beets are fork-tender, drain pot, refill with cold water and slip skins off the cooked beets under running cold water using your hands. Dice into small ⅓ inch cubes and place in medium bowl.
  6. Add finely chopped onion, salt, pepper, sugar, olive oil and balsamic — stir to combine.
  7. Assemble: Spread a little goat cheese mixture on each bruschetta creating a “trough” (to hold beet mixture in place) and top with a Tablespoon of beet mixture. Garnish with a few basil ribbons. Recommendation: serve when the goat cheese is still a touch warm. Serve on a white platter to show it off, or a rustic cutting board.

 

(Adult) *Starters: Apple Croustades Apple Croustades (from Vegan Times)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Armagnac, cognac, or rum (*or optional non-alcoholic replacement recommended by ADRLF: peach, apricot, or pear juice)

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. vegan margarine, divided

5 large tart apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (5 cups)

1/2 cup sugar, divided

18 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed (one-half 16-oz. pkg.)

 Directions:

  1. Pour Armagnac (or desired juice) over raisins in bowl. Set aside to plump 15 minutes.
  2. Heat 2 tbs. margarine in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples, and sauté 5 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Add raisins and Armagnac, and cook 2 minutes, or until alcohol has evaporated. Transfer to bowl, and stir in 1/4 cup sugar. Cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt remaining 1/2 cup margarine. Brush 12-cup muffin pan (1/2 cup size) with melted margarine.
  4. Unroll phyllo, and keep under damp towel to retain moisture. Place 1 phyllo sheet on work surface. Brush with margarine, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. sugar. Top with second phyllo sheet, brush with margarine, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. sugar. Repeat until you have 6 layers of phyllo sheets, but do not sprinkle top sheet with sugar. Cut phyllo stacks into 4 squares. Press 1 square into 1 muffin mold, letting edges hang over. Fill phyllo “crust” with 1/3 cup of apple mixture. Brush edges with margarine, and fold over apple mixture. Brush top with margarine to “glue” top together. Repeat with remaining squares. Repeat layering and assembly with remaining phyllo sheets, margarine, sugar, and apple mixture.
  5. Bake croustades 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden-brown. Cool 10 minutes in muffin pan, then carefully unmold, and cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Dressing: Cranberry Vinaigrette (from Healthy Seasonal Recipes)

Ingredients:

1 shallot, peeled, cored and quartered

½ cup fresh cranberries

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup walnut oil or flax seed oil

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1 teaspoon agave or honey

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Puree shallot, cranberries, olive oil, vinegar, walnut or flax oil, thyme, agave or honey, salt and pepper in a mini prep, food processor or blender until as smooth as possible.
  2. Store in a jar in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

  

Side Dish: Vegan Stuffing (from Minimalist Baker)

Ingredients:

1 large loaf whole-grain bread or 2 small baguettes, cubed & set out to dry overnight (~9 cups loosely packed)

3/4 cup uncooked green lentils

3 tbsp olive oil or vegan butter

1/2 cup white onions, diced

3/4 cup celery, diced

pinch of salt and pepper (if desired)

3 – 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (more for cooking lentils)

1 flax egg (1 tbsp flaxseed meal and 2 1/2 tbsp water)

3/4 tsp dried sage, or 1 1/4 tsp fresh sage, chopped

 Directions:

  1. The night before, cube your bread and set it in a large bowl to dry out; you want it to be the texture of day old bread — noticeably dry but not rock hard.
  2. The day of, if you haven’t already cooked your lentils, do so now by thoroughly rinsing 3/4 cup lentils in cold water, then adding to a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups veggie broth or water.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat until a low boil is achieved, and then lower to a simmer and continue cooking uncovered for 20-30 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and line a 9×13 pan (or comparable sized dish) with foil or spray with nonstick spray. Also prepare flax egg and set aside.
  5. Sauté onion and celery in the olive oil or vegan butter and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant and translucent — about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  6. To the bowl of bread, pour most of the broth then add the remaining ingredients (sage, cooked veggies, flax egg, and lentils) and mix with a wooden spoon. The key is to make sure it is about the consistency of a meatloaf. If it’s too dry, add more broth and mix again. If it’s gotten too wet, add more bread.
  7. Transfer to the prepared pan and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Then remove the top layer of foil so the top can brown. Increase heat to 400 degrees F (204 C) and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the top is well browned and crisp.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Leftovers reheat well in the microwave or oven, though best when fresh.

 

 

Meat Entrée: Thai Coconut Curry Turkey Meatballs (from Wholesomelicious.com)

 Ingredients:

1 lb ground turkey

1 lb ground turkey sausage

1 tsp curry powder

2 tsp ground basil

¼ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp garlic powder

¾ cup almond flour

1 egg, beaten

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbsp chopped fresh ginger

3 tbsp Thai red curry paste

1 14 oz can + ¾ cup full fat coconut milk

⅓ cup chopped fresh basil

1 tsp salt + more to taste

 Directions:

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 375.
  2. Mix together the ground turkey and sausage in a medium sized bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix together curry powder, basil, ginger, garlic powder, and almond flour. Add to the turkey and incorporate well. Finally, add the egg. Form the meatballs into 1 -1.5 inch diameter balls, and place on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
  3. While meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat, add coconut oil. Add the chopped veggies: onion, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger. Cook for 5-7 minutes until onion is translucent. Add curry paste, then all of the coconut milk. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes until the curry paste is completely mixed into the sauce. Add salt, and more to taste if needed.
  4. Add meatballs to the sauce, and cook for another 5 minutes. Finish off with fresh basil.
  5. Serve hot over spaghetti squash, noodles, zoodles, rice, or cauliflower rice.

 

Vegan Entrée: Sweet Potato Meatloaf (from Livehealtheasy.com)

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

1 tbsp honey

1 egg

1/2 cup flaxseed meal

1 tbsp salt

2 heaping tbsp Italian seasoning

 Directions:              

  1. Roast or steam your sweet potato. It will soften up a lot faster if cut into small cubes. Feel free to leave the skin on, but you can also peel it off if it’s not your thing.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Mash sweet potato in a large bowl with a fork, and add turkey, onion, garlic, honey, egg, flaxseed, salt and spices. Mix until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  4. Place your mixture in a greased meatloaf pan.
  5. Stick in the oven and bake for about 50-55 minutes. Cover with tinfoil if necessary to avoid burning the top.
  6. Serve with your favorite vegetables, mash, or sauté.

 

Dessert: Healthy Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits (from Fit Mitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

 For Pumpkin Mousse:

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons grass-fed gelatin (unflavored)

1 – 15oz. canned pumpkin (about 1 3/4 cups puree)

2 large eggs

3/4 cup coconut sugar (or dry sweetener of choice)

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3 – 15oz. cans full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight

1 TBS pure vanilla extract

 For the Layers:

whipped coconut cream, from the canned coconut milk

gingersnap cookies

*make sure to chill cans of coconut milk at least 4-6 hours, or overnight

 

Directions:

  1. Add ¼ cup water to heat-proof bowl, then sprinkle the 2 teaspoons gelatin over water and allow to soften for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, sucanat, coconut sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Place the heat-proof bowl of gelatin-water over simmering pot of water, cook until the gelatin is clear.
  4. While the gelatin is cooking over the pot, make the whipped coconut cream: Scoop out the cream portion of the all 3 cans of coconut milk (save the water for smoothies, shakes, etc) and place cream in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip the chilled coconut cream and vanilla extract together until thick and fluffy. Set aside.
  5. Once the gelatin has cooked until clear, whisk immediately into large bowl of pumpkin mixture. Then fold in 2 cups of the whipped coconut cream — saving the rest for parfait layering.

Place covered bowl of pumpkin mousse mixture in fridge and allow to chill 4-6 hours, or overnight.

  1. To assemble parfaits: layer crushed gingersnap cookies, pumpkin mousse, and whipped coconut cream, repeat until glass is full. Garnish with gingersnap cookies, and more whipped cream if desired. Enjoy!

 Ingredients:

gelatin

canned pumpkin

2 large eggs (or 4 large egg whites)

coconut sugar

spices

vanilla extract

3 cans full-fat coconut milk

 Directions:

  1. Let the gelatin to sit in the water to soften. While that sits you can combine the pumpkin, eggs, sugar and spices.
  2. Heat up the bowl of gelatin-water over a pot of simmering water until the gelatin is clear. While the gelatin is cooking down, whip the chilled coconut cream.
  3. Once the gelatin is clear, quickly whisk it into the pumpkin mixture — the hot gelatin cooks the eggs, so no worries there. Then fold in the whipped coconut cream.
  4. All that’s left is to let the pumpkin mousse chill covered in the fridge for about 4-6 hours (or overnight). When you’re ready to assemble the parfaits, layer in crushed gingersnap cookies, pumpkin mousse, whipped cream, and repeat.

Interactive Ways to Understand Liver Health

Thursday, October 19th, 2017

How much do you really know about liver health and hepatitis? And is what you know accurate? Unlike it was for generations in the past, today there’s an abundance of verifiable online information available on liver disease — its causes, symptoms, and prevention. However, sifting through the barrage of info can be so overwhelming that many who could benefit from it abandon their quest for more knowledge on the subject. With easier navigation in mind, numerous credible sources have developed interactive tests to make the learning process more personal and engaging.

For Liver Cancer Awareness Month, do yourself a great favor and check out some of these brief but informative interactive tests to learn more about your own liver health, hepatitis risks, and best practices moving forward.  You could save a life — namely, your own. As always, we encourage you to:  Screen! Vaccinate! Don’t Hesitate! … And yes, Educate!

 

Are you at risk for hepatitis? This 5-minute test gives you a personalized report:

https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment/index.htm

 

How well do you know hepatitis C? These tests explain the basics:

https://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/rm-quiz-hepatitis-c-myths-facts

http://www.worldhepatitisday.com/en/quiz

https://www.merck-cares.com/hepatitis-c-quiz/

Strategies to Combat a Hepatitis Outbreak Near You!

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

 A lethal hepatitis A outbreak has hit San Diego, devastating its status as “America’s Finest City.” With 16 casualties and 421 reported hepatitis A cases since November 2016, this is the second-largest hepatitis A outbreak in decades. Food businesses and the tourism industry, among others, have all taken a substantial financial hit from this public health emergency that has put locals and tourists on edge.

To combat the spread of this highly contagious virus, local government and health officials of the coastal county are pulling all the stops to treat and prevent further hepatitis cases, with these strategies that other communities should note and learn from, moving forward.

Prevention through Vaccination

Central to San Diego’s prevention efforts is a vaccination campaign, which has vaccinated over 19,000 people primarily children and high-risk adults. Free vaccination programs have also been offered to workers in the food and beverage industry, as well as to drug users and homeless people, who are most affected by this outbreak. Nurses visited homeless shelters to give hepatitis A vaccines, and mobile teams went to remote locations where homeless people are known to venture.

Emphasis on Hygiene

Hepatitis A is primarily transmitted via person-to-person contact. The virus is also spread through contact with contaminated food, drinks, and other objects. A person can get hepatitis A by going to a public restroom, touching a contaminated object, and forgetting to properly wash his/her hands. As such, the imperative of hand hygiene is being underscored through the installation of public hand-washing stations, especially near homeless encampments; and per the distribution of free “Hepatitis A Prevention Kits” that contain hand sanitizers, soaps, cleansing wipes, and other sanitation products.

Twenty portable public restrooms were also opened in downtown San Diego to help promote sanitary conditions. These are monitored with a  24-hour security and daily maintenance. More restrooms will be installed in key areas throughout the city. The city’s lack of public restrooms and sanitation facilities for the homeless is believed to be one of the drivers of poor hygiene in this group.

Local authorities also had the sidewalks and streets power-washed with bleach — a strategy learned from L.A. county, which also deals with a big homeless population. Cleaning the streets with water mixed with 10% bleach is believed to destroy hepatitis A virus and reduce contamination of public areas. 

More proactive solutions are being developed to advance public awareness of hepatitis A and improve unsanitary conditions of at-risk groups in San Diego. In the face of an outbreak, it’s important to keep awareness and prevention in mind — yes: Screen. Vaccinate. Don’t hesitate.

To learn more about hepatitis A, click here

To stay updated on the San Diego Hepatitis A Outbreak, click here

To get a hepatitis A vaccine in San Diego, click here

Cherokee Nation Takes the Lead in Hepatitis Elimination

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

As the Cherokee Nation commemorates its 65th Annual Holiday this week in Oklahoma, Cherokees find another reason to be proud: their Nation’s pioneering success in eliminating hepatitis C.

The upcoming Cherokee National Holiday honors the signing of the 1839 Cherokee Constitution and the Act of Union that reunited Cherokees both East and West, after years of devastating forced migration, resulting in the Trail of Tears. The Nation’s resiliency has been a formidable source of pride. Fittingly, Oklahoma’s spirited celebration of the Cherokees’ history and heritage is matched by the group’s passionate determination to tackle urgent economic and health issues that are adversely impacting indigenous communities.

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Indigenous people are up to 10 times more likely to be infected with hepatitis than the general population, says a new study presented at the recent World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis (WIPCVH). In the United States, tribal groups are 2.5 times more likely to get hepatitis. To address this alarming risk, the Cherokee Nation American Indian Tribe developed a hepatitis C elimination program, setting the stage for robust liver health efforts for vulnerable and under-reported native communities. 

“Various factors have combined to make elimination of hepatitis C possible,” said Dr. Jorge Mera, Head of Infectious Diseases for Cherokee Nation Health Service (CNHS) in a press release. He noted the top success contributors such as the development of new directly acting antiviral drugs (DAAs) and collaborative support from organizations like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local health departments.

Like other indigenous groups affected by economic inequality and unequal healthcare access, the Cherokee Nation faces increased risk for hepatitis from the lack of general awareness and education on the disease, injected drug use, and, possibly, unsafe tattoo procedures.

Two years into this pioneering elimination program, Dr. Mera and his team have made remarkable progress, including the screening of 46,000 Cherokee Nation citizens. Of the 1,076 people who tested positive, 400 are now completely cured, while the rest are undergoing further tests and treatment.

The elimination program runs an aggressive, broad-based testing arm that invites people to get tested not only when they see their primary physician, but also when they go to their dentist and other medical professionals.  Hepatitis tests are automatically offered to children if their mothers have uncertain hepatitis status, especially during pregnancy.  

Urgent care centers and emergency departments have also been mobilized to encourage and facilitate testing. In fact, about 70 percent of the new hepatitis diagnoses are from tests done in emergency care.

The Cherokee Nation’s success reflects the hope of tribes across the globe who attended the WIPCVH earlier this month, symbolically coinciding with the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, observed recently on August 9th. The conference aimed to provide a venue for indigenous groups, medical professionals, and advocates to share common experiences and innovations, and build a relationship to enable collective responses to threats like hepatitis outbreaks.

At the heart of ADRLF’s mission is advocate for minority and/or underrepresented groups who carry the extra burden of hepatitis infection — including Native American communities. Inspired by the Cherokee Nation’s success, we invite you to: Screen. Vaccinate. Don’t Hesitate.

 

To learn more about the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis, click here

To find a hepatitis testing center near you, click here

To know the updated WHO Hepatitis Testing Guidelines, click here

Hot Recipes for Chill Salads and Dressings Your Liver Will Love

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Summertime equals fun time! It’s exciting to think about all the creative — and easy — ways we can reinvigorate our daily routine by updating to a liver-friendly diet; and particularly doing so, without using the stove during this often sweltering season. If you’ve been reading ADRLF’s recipe blogs, you already know how we love antioxidant-rich foods that nourish the liver. So we invite you to shake up the season.   

Enjoy these liver-nourishing salads and dressings year round! (Photo credit: Hagelund/Pixabay)

Enjoy these liver-nourishing salads and dressings year round! (Photo credit: Hagelund/Pixabay)

The liver is a hardworking organ that’s responsible for regulating nutrients, protein, fat and other chemicals that enter the bloodstream. It breaks down alcohol, sugar, and drugs, among others. If you think about your daily food and alcohol consumption, you can have an idea of how much demanding work your liver does — every minute of the day — to metabolize your daily intake.

To ensure that the liver maintains its proper functionality, it’s important to keep your super-organ healthy by eating food with high antioxidants — the cell-repairing goodness found in fruits and vegetables with vitamins A, C, and E. ‘Detox’ salads, for example, have natural detoxifying ingredients that help cleanse the body’s toxins, thereby promoting normal liver health.

Enrich your diet with these liver-nourishing salad recipes that can put a tasty spin on your busy lifestyle!

 

Brain Power Detox Salad (from Gimmesomeover.com)

This unique recipe combines omega-3-rich salmon with blueberries — known to have the highest antioxidant content among fruits — and avocados, which are also filled with antioxidant-rich lycopene and beta-carotene nutrients.

Ingredients:

For the salad

8 ounces smoked salmon, roughly chopped

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

4 cups baby spinach (or mixed greens)

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1/4 cup light feta or blue cheese crumbles

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

For the dressing

1/3 cup olive oil                                               

2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

 Directions:

To make the vinaigrette

Whisk all ingredients together until combined and emulsified.

To make the salad

Toss all ingredients together until combined. Drizzle or toss with vinaigrette.

Serve slightly chilled, preferably — and increase your smarts, while you dazzle your taste buds.

 

Detox Kale Salad (from Food Fanatic)

Flavorsome greens like kale and broccoli are rich in antioxidants that help flush out toxins and carcinogens. Kale, in particular, is a superfood that contains flavonoids and vitamin K that are key nutrients in preventing liver damage.

Ingredients:

For the salad

2 cups dinosaur kale, tightly packed and thinly sliced

2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced

2 cups broccoli florets

2 large carrots, peeled and grated

1 red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks

2 avocados, peeled and diced

For the dressing

1/3 cup grapeseed oil

1/2 cup lemon juice, fresh

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

2 teaspoons pure maple syrup, optional

1/4 teaspoon salt (or just a dash to taste)

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 cup walnuts

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Directions:

To make the dressing

Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing (or put everything in a small blender for deeper blending) and set aside until ready to use.

To make the salad

Add the kale, cabbage, broccoli, bell pepper, and carrots to a large serving bowl. Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss until everything is coated.

Add the parsley, diced avocado, sesame seeds, and walnuts and toss again. Serve as an entrée salad or as a side salad to your favorite meal.

 

Cauliflower-Tomato Detox Salad (from BlissfulBasil.com)

Colorful tomatoes and lemons are high in both antioxidants and vitamin C that support the liver’s natural cleansing ability. This recipe also calls for garlic, which contains allicin and selenium — both of which aid in liver detox.

Ingredients:

For the salad

1 head of cauliflower, stemmed and cut into large pieces

2 cups finely chopped dino or lacinto kale, stemmed

2/3 cup dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup raw pine nuts

1/4 cup hemp seeds

1/4 cup raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)

For the dressing

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup raw tahini

1 garlic clove

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt or to taste

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon agave nectar or pure maple syrup* (optional)

Directions:

To make the salad

Grate the cauliflower pieces in a food processor with the grater attachment firmly in place. You can also use the regular attachment and pulse until the cauliflower is riced.

Transfer the riced cauliflower to a large, non-reactive bowl, and add in the kale, sundried tomatoes, parsley, basil, pine nuts, hemp seeds, and pepitas.

To make the dressing

Add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, water, sea salt, and black pepper to a blender. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy. If desired, add in somewhere between 1/2 to 1 full teaspoon of agave nectar to balance the acidity of the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the cauliflower mixture and toss to coat. Serve-up the freshness!

 

Enjoy these easy-breezy to make and scrumptiously savory summer salads this for the coming weeks — or better yet, all year-round!

For more liver-friendly salad and dressing recipes, click here

For other healthy recipes, visit our blog

ADRLF’S Top 10 Facts on Tattoo Safety

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Got a tattoo or planning on getting one? Then ADRLF’s Liver Cancer Awareness Month and World Hepatitis Day 2017 campaign is for you! Over 45 million Americans have at least one tattoo, including over 60% of millennials. But what gets lost in the hype of finding the coolest design and the best artist is the important conversation about hepatitis C, and the risks of body art. This year, we’re once again aligning with the World Health Organization and the World Hepatitis Alliance in the global effort to eliminate hepatitis, as we shine a spotlight on the increasingly popular ‘ink movement’, by promoting safe tattoo practices, in the name of hepatitis awareness and prevention.

The Hepatitis and Tattoo Connection

Hepatitis C affects over 3 million people in the U.S. One way the hepatitis C virus is spread is through unsterile needles used in tattoo and body piercing procedures. A 2013 study found that people with hepatitis C were almost four times more likely to report having a tattoo, while more recent studies recognize tattooing as a significant risk factor of hepatitis C (Adv Biomed Res. 2017; Curr Probl Dermatol. 2015). Also in 2013, the largest tattoo-related outbreak was reported in Rochester, NY. Nineteen people developed bubbly rashes on their new tattoos, which were done using dirty needles in an unsanitary setting.

Tattoo inks are also believed to have some serious health risks. Many of today’s tattoo inks contain metallic salts, oxides, sulphides, selenides, and other potentially carcinogenic chemicals that you simply would not want to be embedded on your body, and can take years to manifest into related illness.  (Tattoo Health.org).

Furthermore, there’s no sure-fire way to tell if the ink is safe from infection. In fact, it can be contaminated even if the container is sealed or the label says the product is sterile (FDA, 2015). Ironically, the word “tattoo” literally means “stigma” in Latin.

While your priority might be to find the best ink master in town, your first priority should be finding the most hygienically conscientious one. For example, did you know that tattooists and piercers are required to attend blood-borne pathogen training to ensure safe practices and prevent transmission of infections like hepatitis? Did yours train?  These and many other facts should be your armor, as you consider the pros, cons, and safest practices of tattooing. So, while ADRLF fully encourages freedom of expression and artistry, before you consider getting tatted-up — please CHECK OUT these Top 10 Facts for Hepatitis-Aware Tattoo Safety!

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Fact #1: Although contracting hepatitis C during the tattooing process is a very real risk, this potential health hazard has not decreased the country’s rising ink love affair. Americans spend approximately $1.65 billion on tattoos annually. And with over 23,000 tattoo parlors in the U.S. alone, a new establishment is being added in the country every day. Interestingly, more women have tattoos than men in the U.S. (23% vs. 19%).

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Fact #2: Tattoo machines can puncture the skin up to 3,000 times per minute, opening up possibilities of infectious diseases like hepatitis, tetanus, and AIDS. A standard 1-hour session equals 180,000 tiny, open “Russian Roulette” wounds, providing a pathway to life-threatening infections. (Action Wellness, 2015).

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Fact #3: Tattoo parlors are not held to the same sterility standards as doctors’ offices and hospitals. In the U.S., only a few states have strict hygienic regulations, and even fewer monitor and enforce standards. To reduce cross-contamination, tattooists and piercers must take basic preventative measures like handwashing and using new gloves for each new client (CDC, 2013).

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Fact #4:  Blood does not have to be visible on the tattoo needle to transmit infection. All reusable tools, counter spaces, and client chairs must be disinfected and sterilized after each use. Single-use supplies must be discarded (CDC, 2013). 

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Fact #5: Celebrities are speaking out about hepatitis risks, including actress Pamela Anderson, who disclosed she unknowingly contracted hep C from sharing a tattoo needle with her tatted-up rockstar ex-husband, Tommy Lee (webmd.com). Rock n’ blues pioneer Gregg Allman, who passed away last May 2017 from liver cancer, also shared in this video how he may have gotten hepatitis from a tattoo procedure.

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Fact #6:  As opposed to tattooing of the past, today’s techniques, tools and chemicals have changed significantly. In fact, many tattoo inks contain body-hazardous ingredients originally intended for writing, car paint, and printer ink. And while considered trade secrets, these inks may contain chemicals known to cause birth defects, mutations, and even cancer, with symptoms that may take years to appear (Tattoo Health.org).

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Fact #7:  There’s a greater chance of contracting hep C from informal settings with poor infection control, like pop-up parlors, prisons, and “tattoo parties,” where unregulated tattooing and piercing are known to occur with contaminated needles.  (CDC, 2016).

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Fact #8: ‘Ink-appreciators’ seeking an alternative to tattooing should consider henna body art, which involves applying the processed henna plant leaves’ paste onto the skin. Elaborate staining patterns can create temporary tattoos where desired (2014 case report).

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Fact #9:  Although invisible to the naked eye, increasingly popular ultraviolet tattoos — ones that become visible under a black light (at nightclubs, raves, etc.) — can nonetheless pose “significant safety issues”, due to their unregulated chemical ingredients; most dangerously so, phosphorous — which can cause a number of skin problems, including infections, blisters, and have links to cancers. Contaminated needles can also carry hepatitis C (2014 case report; tatring.com).

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Fact #10:  If you’re planning on getting a tattoo, find a reputable and licensed tattoo artist with a clean studio. Ask for new tools and unused pigments; and watch the artist remove sterilized needles from their packets (Healthline.com). Get tested for hepatitis C if you have a tattoo and any other risk factors such as medical issues like blood clots and STDs, and exposure to injected drugs and blood transfusion (CDC, 2015). Remember to Screen. Vaccinate. Don’t hesitate!

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Healthy Frozen Pops for a Liver-Happy Summer

Saturday, July 1st, 2017

With summer now in full swing, it’s important to stay hydrated and refreshed while basking in the sun’s heat, and enjoying a holiday barbecue, an outdoor picnic, or a day at the beach. Additionally, with or without an A/C, the oppressive humidity can seep indoors, create heat stress, and require moments of cool-down escape.

Use fruits and vegetables to make healthy homemade frozen pops! (Photo credit: Creative Commons/ Jennifer Chait)

Use fruits to make healthy homemade frozen pops! (Photo credit: CC/ Jennifer Chait)

Well, you may recall those tasty, colorful frozen popsicles from your childhood? The good news? You can make those summer treats with healthy ingredients that the whole family can enjoy! Using fruits and vegetables — with antioxidants and nutrients — makes for delicious homemade popsicles that are also liver-friendly. These are also sure to satisfy your sweet cravings – in lieu of unhealthy, sugar-filled summer go-tos, like soda and ice cream.

In preparation for your July 4th festivities, ADRLF invites you to cool down with some of our favorite frozen pop recipes.

Strawberry Beet Popsicles from Super Healthy Kids

Pairing beetroots with sweet strawberries offers a unique blend of flavors and health benefits, including anti-inflammatories that promote natural liver detox. 

1 1/2 cups of strawberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup of beets (cooked and cooled)

3/4 cup of apple juice

1 tsp of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar (trust me!)

In a blender (preferably a high-speed one), puree all ingredients until completely smooth. Pour into your favorite popsicle mold and freeze 3-4 hours, or until completely firm. Makes 5-6 popsicles.

 

Dark Chocolate Frozen Kiwi Pops from Clean Food Crush

 Kiwis are antioxidant powerhouses that boost immunity and cell regeneration, including those in the liver. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants that help promote liver cleansing.

4 kiwis

3/4 cup of dark chocolate or cacao chips

8 popsicle sticks

1 tbsp. of unrefined coconut oil

1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut (for garnish, if desired)

Peel and slice ripe kiwis into one inch thick slices. Carefully thread the kiwi slices onto the popsicle sticks, then lay on flat sheet pan covered in foil. Freeze this batch for about 4 hours until it hardens. In another container, melt 3/4 cup dark chocolate or cacao chips then add one tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil to the hot, melted, chocolate, and stir. Dip the frozen kiwi slices in the melted chocolate. They harden almost immediately. You may also add some unsweetened shredded coconut. Serve immediately, or wrap in plastic and refreeze. Four kiwis make about 8 pops.

 

Sangria Pops by thefauxmartha

 A bonus treat:  Popsicles for adults only! Take the happy hour outdoors with this refreshing concoction of vitamin C-filled and antioxidant-rich fruits. Citrus fruits like oranges have great antioxidant activities that help reduce harmful free radicals that concentrate in the liver.

2 cups Seven Daughters Rich Red Winemaker’s Blend

3/4 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed

3/4 cup strawberries, pureed

3 tbsp. agave nectar

1 lime, juiced

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir. Evenly distribute mixture into popsicle mold, leaving some room at the top for expansion when freezing. Insert sticks and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving. To remove, check that the pops are frozen solid by wiggling the stick back and forth. If it stays in place, pops are ready to be removed. If using a plastic mold, run it quickly under warm water. Carefully rock the stick side-to-side until the pops loosen.

 

Black Bean Fudgesicles from Kathy Hester’s “The Great Vegan Bean Book”

This soy-free, gluten-free, and oil-free recipe screams both “healthy” and “yummy.” Fiber-rich black beans are excellent protein alternatives. This popsicle hits two birds with one stone: you’re giving your body a break from meat, while improving your liver function.

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans or 1 can (15 oz.), rinsed and drained

1 can (14 oz.) light coconut milk

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 tablespoons agave nectar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract                 

Puree all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. There will be some black flecks from the black bean skins, which you can strain through a cheesecloth, if you like. Fill your frozen pop molds about seven eighths full of the mixture. Freeze for several hours, or overnight, before serving. Makes 6 large popsicles.

 

Keep it cool, all summer long, as ADRLF wishes you and your liver a happy, healthy, tasty Independence Day!

Learn more about the health benefits of beetroots here

Learn more about the liver-friendly features of dark chocolate here

Explore other healthy frozen popsicle recipes here

And share your delicious, healthy, frozen, summer recipes with us!

ADRLF Gave Grants for Hepatitis Awareness

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Promoting liver health awareness is a demanding challenge, and when it’s effective, a rewarding feat—best achieved in collaboration with like-minded allies. Much of the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation’s (ADRLF) hard-earned success has been thanks to our fruitful partnerships with fellow health advocates that are staunchly committed to their respective missions. Therefore, when we can offer our support in the form of grants to dynamic organizations, it becomes a win-win for our collective fight against hepatitis.

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In line with this commitment—and in observation of Hepatitis Awareness Month—earlier this spring, the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation proudly awarded grants, in the amount of $1,000 each, to two very special New York City-based organizations, namely:  Hep Free NYC and the Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) coalition. The grants were given to support their respective efforts around hepatitis awareness.

ADRLF’S Founding Board Member and Treasurer, Dr. Carlos Ortiz asserts, “Through micro-grants, ADRLF is committed to helping grassroots organizations, modest-sized agencies, and programs that are in need of grant money for their specific projects which are related to hepatitis awareness, education and treatment.”

With that in mind, we are pleased to share the exciting work that HepFree NYC and TYSA are tackling, as they strive to make an impact through their outreach.

Hep Free NYC

Collaboration is key to Hep Free NYC’s work, in capacity-building for hepatitis awareness and treatment in New York City. The organization is composed of two divisions, the Hep B Coalition and NYC Hep C Task Force; and together, they unite diverse community-based organizations and health service providers in various activities that both promote liver health, and encourage public involvement in budget planning and legislation. Notably, the organization has been spearheading the annual observance of the National Hepatitis Awareness Month in NYC in partnership with other advocacy groups including ADRLF.

“Overall, our goal is to use the ADRLF grant to raise awareness about hepatitis and help prevent, manage, and treat hepatitis B and C in NYC,” noted Daniel Calder, Outreach and Community Education Coordinator for Hep Free NYC. One such instance—on May 10th, the organization gathered local council members, advocates, and hepatitis survivors on the steps of Manhattan’s City Hall to encourage hepatitis testing and improve access to treatment.

“Hep Free NYC is beyond grateful for ADRLF’s support,” Calder offered, while sharing more specifics, “We will use the funds from their grant to support Hepatitis Awareness Day activities, improve our hep C video, and organize screening events of the video.”

The Tackling Youth Substance Abuse (TYSA) coalition

Disease prevention is central to the mission of TYSA, a dynamic coalition of private and nonprofit groups working together to reduce youth drug and alcohol misuse in Staten Island. Recognizing the link between the prescription medication addiction and how it often leads to injection drug use, and hepatitis infection, TYSA is taking on creative means to get important messages across to younger generations.

Like HIV/AIDS, substance abuse also shares similar risk factors, such as hepatitis infection. “Issues like liver disease and substance abuse are very much tied to social justice,” explained Jazmin Rivera, Project Manager for TYSA. “So we want young adults to lead healthy lives and make healthy choices.”   

TYSA has joined forces with diverse stakeholders including parents, teachers, local leaders, mental health professionals, and the NYPD. They organize community education sessions like professional development workshops for teachers to instruct them on how to recognize signs of substance use in their students, as well as how to build skills to properly intervene.

“We also go to schools to show them the video we developed, and we start to have a conversation … and most youth don’t even realize that they can contract hepatitis C,” shared Rivera. With ADRLF’s grant, TYSA plans to leverage their video—“Hep C is on the Rise Among Staten Island Youth–Learn Why”—a project with Hep Free NYC Task Force that talks about the growing prevalence of hepatitis in New York City, and the intersection of substance abuse and hepatitis C.

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In the name of hepatitis awareness, prevention and treatment, ADRLF is proud to be aligned with organizations that advocate for getting the word out, particularly to vulnerable communities.  

ADRLF’s tradition of giving micro-grants is an important piece of the foundation’s larger work. Dr. Ortiz adds,  “In addition to our other initiatives, we would like to be able to assist those smaller organizations—which have challenges with raising funds or further extending their budgets—to help accommodate what’s needed to mount expenses for their projects associated with providing better access or education to under-served and/or low-income populations.”

We can all get involved to spread the word! With World Hepatitis Day (July 28th) soon approaching, we encourage you to see how you can make an impact in big or small ways! And always remember: Screen! Vaccinate! Don’t Hesitate!

Learn more about Hep Free NYC here

Learn more about TYSA here and watch their video here

Support ADRLF’s hepatitis awareness grants and funding initiative here

Remembering a Rock Icon and His Hep Awareness Efforts

Friday, June 9th, 2017

As ADRLF continues to make hepatitis awareness a cornerstone of its mission, we respectfully pay tribute to the passing of yet another iconic musician impacted for decades by the illusive disease — the beloved southern rock pioneer, Gregg Allman, of the legendary Allman Brothers band, who was laid to rest at the age of 69 earlier this month in Georgia.               

Gregg Allman at a 2009 concert. (Photo credit: Creative Commons/Liza)

Gregg Allman at a 2009 concert. (Photo credit: Creative Commons/Liza)

Formerly married to Cher, Allman — who quietly battled liver cancer, as a result of complications from living with chronic hep C infection — was a keen advocate for raising hepatitis awareness.

While touring on the road, the notoriously “shy” and “kind” music great was simultaneously wrestling for decades with substance abuse, encircling his complicated life. However, Allman became clean in 1994; forged life with a healthful approach; received a liver transplant in 2011; and, through his story, hoped to get the important message out about the dangers of hepatitis C. 

Watch here an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta for CNN

Energized Health Advocates Rally at City Hall to End the Hepatitis Epidemic

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Yesterday on May 10th, the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation (ADRLF) once again joined forces with New York City’s growing coalition of advocates devoted to fighting hepatitis. Crowds gathered at the steps of City Hall to raise awareness about the “silent epidemic” and promote community testing events across the city. The event took place to commemorate National Hepatitis Awareness Month, which is observed during the month of May each year, also coinciding with National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day (May 15th) and National Hepatitis Testing Day (May 19th).

ADRLF’s Co-Founding Board Member, Dr. Carlos Ortiz shared that the rally was set on a beautiful, sunny day. “The energy was great. There were many posters supporting Hep Free NYC, and there were exciting speeches that rallied the enthusiastic crowd.”

Representatives from different health advocacy groups gathered to promote hepatitis awareness.

Representatives from different health advocacy groups gathered to promote hepatitis awareness. (Photo Credit: Liz Maney)

“What I witnessed — that truly inspired me — was the sheer amount of people; even more so, this year’s variety of people,” Dr. Ortiz added. “And beyond that, the consistency and diligence of these attendees (now growing in number) who, every year, are fighting for this important cause: to end hepatitis. It’s why ADRLF remains committed to joining up with fellow advocates on this special day.”

Devoted to raising awareness and education, the event’s organizers provided a full recap of the morning, courtesy of their press release (excerpted below):

Speakers included the NYC Health Department’s Acting Deputy Commissioner of Disease Control Demetre Daskalakis, Councilmember Member Corey Johnson, Councilmember Margaret Chin, Hepatitis C Survivor Khalil Islam, members of the HOPE and Team HBV student initiatives, Bethsy Morales of the Hispanic Federation, and Daniel Leyva of the Latino Commission on AIDS.

Representatives and advocates from affected communities including city officials, patients, health workers, community workers, friends and families shared their stories today in hopes of encouraging action among New Yorkers to get tested and to demand better access to prevention and treatment.

Viral hepatitis disproportionately affects the Asian, African, African American, and Latino communities, as well as people who use drugs, formerly or currently incarcerated men and women, and the LGBTQ community. In New York City, a reported 146,500 people are infected with hepatitis C, and 100,000 people are infected with hepatitis B. Viral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer in the United States, and those affected by hepatitis face strong barriers to care and treatment.

There is a vaccine available to prevent hepatitis B, and there are treatments to prevent serious liver disease and cancer for those already infected with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C.

“Our State is facing a serious viral hepatitis crisis that disproportionately affects minority communities. This event provides the opportunity to raise further awareness on this “silent epidemic” while we continue discussing the policies we need to implement in order to successfully combat and eliminate viral hepatitis in our City and our State,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I will continue working with the Hispanic Federation and fellow advocates to find legislative solutions that will efficiently combat this epidemic in order to improve our City and State’s public health outcomes.”

ADRLF Co-founder and Board Member Dr. Carlos Ortiz joined the rally with Bethsy Morales-Reid, Director of Community Health Engagement of the Hispanic Federation, and fellow liver health advocates. (Photo Credit: Liz Maney)

ADRLF Co-founder and Board Member Dr. Carlos Ortiz joined the rally with Bethsy Morales-Reid, Director of Community Health Engagement of the Hispanic Federation, and fellow liver health advocates. (Photo Credit: Liz Maney)

“Viral hepatitis has long affected some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, including low-income and immigrant communities,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “In order to fight back against it, we need to spread awareness and make healthcare accessible and culturally competent in new and innovative ways. That’s why the work of these organizations is so critically important. I thank all the participating organizations, as well as the NYC Department of Health for being active leaders in the fight to end viral hepatitis.”

“We are at a moment where science and medicine have shown us a way out of the epidemic of Hepatitis C,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis from the NYC Health Department. “The time is now for New York City to mobilize community, private, and government partners to address viral hepatitis and accelerate the implementation of better screening and access to life-saving treatments to people living with hepatitis B and C.  We need to test more, treat more, and support strategies to address the social drivers that will lead us to a ‘Hep-Free’ generation. Intensive navigation services and support for clinicians to effectively treat people with hepatitis C, supported by the NYC Health Department, are a key step in better identifying and curing hepatitis C.”

“We collectively invite you to join our mission to screen, vaccinate, and increase awareness around hepatitis and its alarming yet silent relationship to liver cancer,” said the founding board members of ADRLF. “To honor Al, we continue to amplify our focus on Latino (Spanish/Portuguese-speaking) populations, as well as art-based communities, vis-à-vis highlighting and providing education around hepatitis related issues such as:  awareness, stigma, treatment access, and mobilization. In fortifying support and engaging new allies, our voices together will continue to grow and spread this important message across small under-served communities and global borders, regardless of immigration status. To kick off National Hepatitis Month, we ask you to: Screen! Vaccinate! Don’t Hesitate!”

“During May’s observance of Hepatitis Awareness Month, we also mark National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day (NHHAD),” said Daniel Leyva, Director of the Latino Religious Leadership Program of the Latino Commission on AIDS. “Both of these events highlight the importance of strengthening efforts to address hepatitis C virus infection in the United States and among Latinos respectively. While the prevalence of hepatitis C in the general population is 1.5%, it is estimated to be 2.6% in the Latino community. Some of our Latino communities are at much greater risk, such as our substance using and transgender communities. Today, we need to renew our commitment to promote HCV testing and to continue bringing awareness about life saving treatment to cure HCV. Only by working together, we will achieve a healthier NY for all.”

 “As opioid use among young people continues to increase, so does hepatitis C infection.  According to the CDC, the rate of hepatitis C among Hispanics increased 13.6% from 2013 to 2014. We are deeply concerned about these rates and the lack of accessible information and care. Hispanic Federation is working tirelessly to ensure that we eliminate the hepatitis C and B virus in our communities through advocacy, screening, vaccination, education, and treatment access,” said Bethsy Morales-Reid, Director of Community Health Engagement at the Hispanic Federation. 

In recognition of National Hepatitis Awareness Month, New York City community-based organizations will be hosting hepatitis screening events and educational workshops throughout the month of May. ADRLF encourages you to join this growing movement to end hepatitis!

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You know our ADRLF motto: Screen! Vaccinate! Don’t Hesitate!

Know more about Hepatitis Awareness Month here

Join upcoming hepatitis awareness activities in NYC here 

Learn more about National Hispanic Hepatitis Awareness Day here