Taking care of yourself: Staying healthy and other tasty tips

Written by guest blogger: Siddhi Shroff, University of Kentucky Dietetic Intern

Spring is here!  Beautiful blossoms, green landscapes and warmer temperatures remind us of the renewal that the season brings: It’s also a good time to remember to take care of ourselves by renewing resolutions to take better care of ourselves.

Get screened

You can reduce your cancer risk by getting regular screenings. Early detection can help to identify and to remove cancerous growths in the early stages. Treatment is more likely to be a success if cancer is caught at an earlier stage for breast, colon, rectum, cervix, prostate and skin cancers. Talk to your doctor about screenings and how often you should be getting them. You can also see the current guidelines for screenings on the American Cancer Society website.

Don’t smoke

One of the best things you can do to reduce cancer risk is never smoke or to quit smoking. This includes cigarettes, cigars, secondhand smoke and even smokeless tobacco use. Tobacco use is responsible for one in five deaths; cigarette smoking accounts for about 30 percent of cancer deaths and is associated with an increased risk to many cancers. For help to quit smoking and tobacco use, you can find more information here.

Stay active

Regardless of your age, it is important to stay active! Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. Teens and children should get around one hour of vigorous or moderate activities each day, with at least three of these days including vigorous activities. Not only will you look good, but you will feel even better and also save some money on health care costs in the process!

For exercise tips or ideas to burn those calories, go here.

Safety in the sun

When you are going outside, take steps to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Increased exposure to UV rays is linked to an increased risk for skin cancer. Make sure you are protecting your skin every time you step outside by remembering Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap! :

  1. Slip on a shirt.
  2. Slop on some sunscreen.
  3. Slap on a hat.
  4. Wrap on sunglasses to protect eyes.

Once you’ve got this down, you’re good to go!

Eat healthy

Maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet is key to overall health, can help reduce risk for cancer and is even essential throughout cancer treatment, too. A balanced and nutritious diet is one that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats and also limits fats. Limit or avoid alcoholic beverages, as alcohol has been linked to several cancers.  A few recipes that fall within these guidelines are included below, like the Greek Chicken entrée, and more are available on many sites such as the American Cancer Society and Cook For Your Life, among many others.


Greek Chicken With Tomatoes, Peppers, Olives and Feta

The Greek Chicken with tomatoes, peppers, olives and feta is a great recipe because it uses lean meat, has a decent serving of vegetables, and even includes some low-fat dairy with the feta cheese. Enjoy as an entrée! Serves: 8

To make Greek seasoning salt, combine: 

  • 2 teaspoons of garlic salt,
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon pepper,
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano, and
  • 2 teaspoons of dried mint.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 8 teaspoons Greek seasoning salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 green pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced lengthwise into strips
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, cut into eighths
  • 3 tablespoons Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Dredge chicken in flour mixed with 4 teaspoons of Greek seasoning.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add chicken, sautéing for 3 to 4 minutes until cooked through.
  3. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  4. Add onion to skillet and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook another 2 minutes.
  5. Return chicken to skillet and cook 1 to 2 minutes, sprinkling with remaining Greek seasoning. Mix in tomatoes.
  6. Remove from heat, transfer to serving dish, and sprinkle with olives and feta cheese.

Per Serving (approximate)

Calories: 210

Fat: 9.5 grams

Recipe source: American Cancer Society website

Creamy Chocolate Cheesecake With Sliced Strawberries

You’re probably thinking: wait, I can have my (cheese) cake and eat it too, and it still be part of a balanced nutritious diet?! You sure can! And it is guilt-free when it is made with non-fat and low-fat dairy, like the non-fat yogurt, low-fat cream cheese, and part-skim ricotta. An added bonus is that the strawberry garnish also sneaks some fruit into the mix. Enjoy! Makes 8 slices


  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese
  • ¼ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Kahlua
  • ½ pint strawberries
  • Nonfat cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Coat an 8 x 8-inch pan with nonfat cooking spray.
  3. Puree in blender the yogurt, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, maple syrup, cocoa, egg whites, cinnamon, and Kahlua. Pour in pan.
  4. Bake cake for 50 minutes or until done. Let cool and decorate with slices of strawberries.

Per Serving (approximate)

Calories: 98

Total Fat: 4 grams

Recipe source: American Cancer Society website