Tuesday, October 22, 2013

ACA: An Ouch of Birthday Prevention

Protect the Pride!
Today’s my birthday and seeking a health plan is my gift to myself and my family. Just by posting  experiences, we all get vilified or assigned to one side or the other, but as a parent and a provider, I can’t be less than responsible to my family or myself. I didn’t plan to register with an exchange until January, but I decided to give it a try – almost as a joke – while watching the Daily Show and listening to all the Massive Glitch of the Century stories.

So, I started at a little after 10 p.m. and registered in about 18 minutes. I had some questions about small business vs. family coverage so I started an online chat with “Jonathan” while I filled out the application, watched TV and listened to see if my little one was settled in for bed or secretly researching science experiments in her room.

I asked questions for about 20 minutes and decided the best route to pursue. I finished the application, took notes and screen shots and, of course, watched the Colbert Report. I was discussing the process on social media and answered a few questions. A little after 11 p.m., it was over and I had a pdf of my Letter of Eligibility and instructions on next steps which included choosing from my top 12 plans and starting to pay premiums in early 2014. Start to finish, it took an hour. I am sharing my experiences in hopes that it will help or encourage someone else.

I lost my job a year and a half ago and I was terrified about providing for my family and what would happen if we got sick, needed a doctor or had an accident while I was on unemployment benefits. Free-lance and consulting opportunities opened up and I stopped unemployment early and my husband and I started working for ourselves. We had lots of flexibility, good bosses, but no healthcare benefits.

We took a big financial blow, but we are getting back on our feet. Health insurance for us won’t be free and it will be far from cheap. I might even argue with the “affordable,” but I know it will be possible. Despite being self-employed with pre-existing conditions, we can find what we can afford and get it.

I am a firm believer that families like us will make the sacrifices that will save money across the system. By encouraging preventative health, each subscriber’s healthcare costs are reduced over the long haul. Maybe we can prevent a cancer instead of treating a cancer. By keeping blood sugar levels stable with low-cost meds and lifestyle, we might prevent kidney disease or multiple amputations.

Working families that purchase plans will not get hand-outs, but it will be an important step in being responsible and proactive. If my little girl lands in the ER with a life-threatening injury, someone will pay the costs. My premiums will ensure that I can do my share if that ever happens.

I’m going to enter an exchange and budget my finances while trying to keep myself and my family healthy. It’s not a political statement or my support for the first black U.S. president. It’s my job.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Roasted Peppers Simone

Roasted Peppers Simone

  • 4 large Italian Bull Horn Peppers
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 tablespoons Smart Balance
  • 3-4 tablespoons of Tuscan goat cheese spread


Preheat oven to 400°F

Cut a cap off the tops of peppers, and scoop out seeds, taking care not to break or tear the pepper.

In frying pan, sauté the spinach and Smart Balance. When the spinach is wilted, add goat cheese and mix over low heat until well-combined.

Using a small spoon, stuff the spinach-cheese mixture into the peppers (pressing down with the handle of the spoon to completely fill) to 1/2 inch from the top.

You can press a small piece of bread into the pepper to keep the cheese filling from melting out during cooking, but I didn’t do this and as you can see, my cheese melted out. We still ate it. J

Place the caps back on each pepper. I had some skewers and Cecilia was helping so we skewered them.

Lay the peppers in a lightly greased or nonstick baking pan and roast for 20 minutes or until they soften.

Added note: Scott took the skins off and Cecilia had no part of the spinach. It’s all good!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Shrimp & Grits: One name several identities

Shrimp & Grits at Drago's in Greater New Orleans.

The Food Network version features lemon-
pepper shrimp.
Whether in a fine New Orleans restaurant, a cool trendy sports bar or my own kitchen, my favorite dish is Shrimp and Grits. Diversity and presence of culture are two hallmarks of Louisiana cuisine. This dish is the diva of diversity because it can be breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, but it also can be a different animal on each plating. When I ordered it in a Baton Rouge surfer bar, it was a dangerous, spicy journey, but in my own kitchen it's a creamy, hearty comfort food highlighting everything but spicy heat.

At home, I often take the opportunity to add vegetables like sautéed spinach.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Baseball great Lou Brock brings dual spiritual, physical health message

Awareness event is faith-based response to diabetes epidemic

When Lou Brock played Major League Baseball, stealing was one of his specialties. Now that the stolen bases record-holder has retired, he helps people restore the health and hope that has been taken from them. Brock, a minister and motivational speaker, will be the featured speaker Wednesday, April 24 at Higher Ground Outreach Church in Baton Rouge.

Brock was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 60. He now works with Novo Nordisk, an international pharmaceutical company, to promote awareness and encourage tight, proactive management of diabetes.

Area family medicine physician, Dr. Rani Whitfield will introduce Brock and provide some background into the diabetes epidemic gripping the country. He will discuss prevention, diagnosis and risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of developing diabetes.

Both Brock and Whitfield are products of Southern University in Baton Rouge. Brock, a native of El Dorado, Ark., grew up on a share cropping cotton plantation in Collinston, La. He started Southern on an academic scholarship and later tried out and made the baseball team. His star began to rise on the Southern diamond and continued to shine as he stole bases and captured records. His 20-year professional career spanned three years with the Chicago Cubs and 17 years with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Whitfield, a board certified family physician and sports medicine specialist, has become known as "Tha Hip Hop Doc" or "H2D" to many in Baton Rouge and across the country. Whitfield is an impassioned advocate for increasing the awareness of health-related issues, including HIV/AIDS, obesity, cardiovascular disease and substance abuse.

Higher Ground Outreach Church, led by Bishop Rickey and Pastor Lesia Washington, is located at 3730 N. Sherwood Forest in Baton Rouge. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. on April 24.

For more information or media inquiries, contact Spencer Media Solutions, info@spencermedia.biz.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Blood pressuring lowering Shrimp and Grits

I’m going to take a load off and lower my blood pressure (Scott says this is needed, but that means I’m quite angry) and write about one of my favorite topics: Shrimp and Grits.
There are some variations to how we prepare it, so I will add a few optional ingredients and steps.

Shrimp and Grits


1 pound large gulf shrimp
3 Tbsp. Smart Balance
                Or olive oil, vegetable oil, margarine, etc.
2 tsp. roast minced garlic
1 cup finely chopped onions
Chopped parsley or cilantro ( fresh is best, but dried ok)
Hot sauce
                Cajun Power Garlic Sauce, Louisiana Hot Sauce, etc.
½ can Cambell’s Cream of Shrimp Soup
¼ cup of milk
Optional sautéed ingredients: spinach or mushrooms
Cayenne or black pepper, if ya got the stones!
Grits: Pot of creamy grits, corn grits or a firm bed of grits allowed to cool and set in pan
Melt Smart Balance or heat oil in sauce pan. Add onions and minced garlic until onions are slightly wilted. Add hot sauce or Cajun Power and continue stirring.
Add thawed or fresh shrimp along with cilantro and/or parsley and sauté, stir shrimp until they just become pink. If sautéed spinach or mushrooms are being used, add those now.  Adjust the heat to your particular taste.
Pour in ½ can of soup and a little milk to help it mix in. Bring to near boiling or at least bubbling.
Serve with grits or corn grits or on a bed of set grits that have cooled and gotten firm.