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What is a baby box and why are some states giving them to new parents?

This week, Alabama will join two other U.S. states — Ohio and New Jersey — in launching a program that offers free baby boxes to families of newborns in the state.

Here’s what you should know about the boxes, their origin and why states are adopting the program:

What is a baby box and where did the idea come from?

The idea originates from 1930s Finland, when nearly one out of 10 infants died in their first year, according to the New York Times.

The Finnish boxes — which include bedding and nearly 50 other items — are given as an incentive for mothers to see a doctor during pregnancy; to obtain one, expecting mothers had to undergo a medical exam during the first four months.

An average of 40,000 boxes are given to Finland’s mothers-to-be every year.

Today, Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world — 2.5 for every 1,000 births, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Why are U.S. states adopting baby box programs?

The U.S. infant mortality rate — 5.8 for every 1,000 births — is more than double that of Finland.

And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3,700 U.S. newborns suffered sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUIDs) in 2015.

One of the big risk factors associated with SUIDs is bed sharing.

When mothers can’t afford cribs, it’s not uncommon for bed sharing to occur.

With the high U.S. infant mortality rate and SUIDs statistics, some states are offering baby boxes to encourage postpartum safe sleep.

Which U.S. states have adopted baby boxes?

New Jersey became the first state to distribute baby boxes to prevent newborn deaths, followed by Ohio and now, Alabama.

California-based Baby Box Co. teamed up with state hospitals, child fatality organizations and other nonprofits to produce and distribute bassinet-sized boxes. According to NPR, New Jersey plans to distribute 105,000 boxes; Ohio, 140,000; Alabama, 60,000. 

What exactly is included in a U.S. baby box?

Though the details may differ across states and countries, the laminated cardboard boxes are usually well-built, mobile and come with a foam mattress and fitted sheet.

Often, the boxes will also include a onesie, diapers, wipes and breastfeeding accessories.

While the Finnish boxes were given to expecting mothers if and only if they underwent a medical exam during the first four months, the boxes in the three states are given away for free to families of newborns.

As part of the U.S. program, parents are expected to educate themselves by watching online videos about SIDs and safe sleep and test their knowledge through a short quiz.

"Through education and awareness, people can make better choices and hopefully we can see fewer children dying," Dr. Kathryn McCans, chair of New Jersey's Child Fatality and Near Fatality review board, told NPR.

Is a Safe Haven Baby Box the same as a baby box?

No. The Safe Haven Baby Box refers to a heated and padded incubator that allows new moms a safe way to give up their babies, rather than simply abandoning them.

In 2016, Indiana installed two boxes at fire stations as an extension of the state’s Safe Haven law, which offers parents complete anonymity when giving up an unwanted newborn younger than 45 days without being arrested or prosecuted, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last year.

Learn more about the new baby boxes at NPR.org.

16 Foods That Taste Better in Spring (and How to Use Them)

From salmon to kale to avocado to sweet potatoes, there are some foods that have probably earned a spot in your kitchen year-round. But others might only make a brief—albeit delicious—seasonal appearance. Now that things are (finally!) starting to warm up, it’s time to trade in your winter meal workhorses for lighter spring choices. Next time you hit the market, add these warmer-weather fruits, vegetables, and cooking staples to your basket. And hurry up! Some of them might be gone again before it’s warm enough to wear your shorts and sandals.

Fresh Produce 1. Baby Artichokes Photo: Foolproof Living They’re sweeter than full-size artichokes, and because you don’t have to remove the tough inner choke, the entire thing is edible. (So they’re way easier to prep. All you have to do is remove the tough outer leaves, and you’re good to go.) Spring Recipe Idea: Have warm braised baby artichokes as a side for chicken or fish, or add them to a salad like this warm braised baby artichoke salad with white beans and manchego.  2. Fresh Berries Photo: Scaling Back Now’s the time of year when strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries start tasting juicy and flavorful, instead of like cardboard. So stock up! Spring Recipe Idea: Make the most of their sweet tartness by pairing them with richer, creamier ingredients like goat cheese. Scaling Back’s blackberry fennel pizza with goat cheese would make an insanely good spring dinner. 3. New Potatoes Photo: Leite's Culinaria The small, waxy spuds are firmer and less starchy than larger Russett or Yukon Gold potatoes, so they hold up especially well in salads... and we know you're going to start craving more salads. Spring Recipe Idea: Instead of the usual gloppy, mayo-laden potato salad, try this French potato salad with green beans and egg from Leite’s Culinaria. It’s lighter, and the olive oil-based dressing means you can leave it sitting out at your picnic. (Pro tip: Toss the potatoes with the dressing while they’re still warm, so they absorb more of the dressing flavor.) 4. Tender Lettuces Photo: Feasting at Home You might think of salad as a hot-weather food, but lettuces actually grow best when the weather is still on the cooler side. That’s why spring is the best time to enjoy sweet, tender greens like butter lettuce, Bibb lettuce, mache, and watercress. Spring Recipe Idea: Try them in a bright, clean salad, like Feasting at Home’s watercress and citrus salad with turmeric dressing. 5. Fava Beans Photo: Tink Inklings Fresh fava beans are pretty much exclusive to springtime—so if you spot them at your market, scoop them up. Prepping them takes a little bit of work—you have to remove the beans from their pods and slip the tough outer skin off each bean. But the rich, buttery flavor is worth it. Spring Recipe Idea: Try smashing fava beans on toast and topping them with a poached egg, like Tiny Inklings does it. 6. Asparagus Photo: Platings and Pairings Sure, you can get asparagus year-round. But you’ll find the thinnest, sweetest, most tender stalks in the springtime (and they won’t cost an arm and a leg). Spring Recipe Idea: Instead of roasting or steaming the whole stalks, try something different. Shave asparagus into noodle-like strands and top them with creamy ricotta and chopped pistachio, like this Platings and Pairings recipe. Herbs and Spices 7. Dill Photo: Neighbor Food There's nothing like fresh herbs for springtime cooking. This fern-like herb’s fresh, sweet flavor makes any dish feel lighter. Spring Recipe Idea: Toss coarsely chopped dill leaves into a salad or use dill to add brightness in cooked dishes. We are so making this roasted carrots with feta and dill dish from Neighbor Food.    8. Chives Photo: The Foodie Dietician Spring is all about mild, delicate flavors—and that’s exactly what you’ll get from chives, which are slightly onion-y without being overpowering. Spring Recipe Idea: They’re especially great with eggs. At your next breakfast, make this swiss chard potato chive frittata from The Foodie Dietitian to get your dose of chives. 9. Mint Photo: Cocoon Cooks You might’ve passed on icy mint over the winter. But now that the weather’s warming up, the cooling flavor feels just right. Spring Recipe Idea: For a burst of freshness, try adding whole mint leaves to spring rolls—like Cocoon Cooks’s rainbow spring rolls with mango, basil, and lime tahini cream. 10. Parsley Photo: Scaling Back This garnish might be available year-round, but the fresh grass-like herb is especially welcome in spring. DIY tip: If you plant your own parsley (bonus points to you), plant them 3-4 weeks before the last spring frost, so when the warm spring weather hits, you'll have parsley readily available in your garden or pot. Spring Recipe Idea: Try trading in the usual basil for parsley in pesto. It’s delicious on grain and veggie bowls, like Scaling Back’s super vegan bowl with parsley cashew pesto. Pantry Staples 11. Bee Pollen Photo: Kitchen McCabe's The jury’s still out on whether bee pollen will actually help your seasonal allergy symptoms, but hey, it can't hurt to try, right? There’s no question that its light, floral flavor livens up spring desserts. Spring Recipe Idea: Try it in homemade frozen yogurt, like Kitchen McCabe’s salted honey chamomile frozen yogurt. 12. Arborio Rice Photo: What's Gaby Cooking You can obviously get this any time of year, but it's worth mentioning because it's an essential component in spring risotto. Even if your pantry is usually stocked with whole grains, it’s worth making an exception for white Arborio rice. The high starch content is what makes risotto so rich and velvety. Spring Recipe Idea: Try this sweet, creamy spring pea risotto from What’s Gaby Cooking. 13. Chickpeas Photo: Vanilla and Bean Spring means you’re probably spending more time outside—and less time in the kitchen. (Hello, after-work bike rides and frisbee!) Having a few cans of chickpeas on hand means you always have a nutritious, no-cook protein source ready for fast meals. Spring Recipe Idea: Instead of tossing them in the usual salad, try making Vanilla and Bean’s smashed chickpea salad sandwich. Fridge and Freezer Foods 14. Frozen Fruit Photo: Blissful Basil Now that it’s warming up, you might be more likely to crave a frosty smoothie or smoothie bowl. Save the delicate fresh berries for cooking and use frozen berries in your blended drinks instead. They’re less expensive, but they’re just as delicious. Plus, they’ll stay good in your freezer all season long. Spring Recipe Idea: Blissful Basil’s cosmic strawberry ginger peach bliss bowl is a dream for breakfast or dessert. 15. Buttermilk Photo: Mountain Mama Cooks Buttermilk sounds so wintry, right? But it made our list because it’s a key ingredient in homemade herby dressings and dips. Plus, real buttermilk is a fermented food, so it’s a great source of probiotics. (Look for buttermilk made with live active cultures, like lactococcus lactis or leuconostoc cremoris.) Spring Recipe Idea: The Gracious Pantry’s clean-eating ranch dressing is made with buttermilk, Greek yogurt, and loads of fresh herbs. 16. Goat Cheese Photo: Just a Taste Creamy, citrusy goat cheese is a delicious contrast to spring’s sweet vegetables—without being overpowering. Even though you can get it anytime of year, goat cheese just adds something special to spring dishes. Spring Recipe Idea: Try crumbling it over roasted vegetables (like beets or asparagus). Or roll rounds of goat cheese in panko, pan-fry, and serve over green salads, like this quinoa and greens salad from Just a Taste.

Why Exercise Isn't Working for You (and What to Do About It)—According to Science

You go to the gym at least four days per week; you spend 45 minutes to an hour on the treadmill or elliptical; and once in a while, you follow it up with the same weight routine you’ve been doing for years. Routine is good, right? Well, not if you’re not seeing results.

According to a small study conducted by the American Council on Exercise, the solution for “non-responders” (people who see no clear results from exercise that produces significant results for others) is a combination of cardio, resistance training, and functional training.

Now you may be thinking, “I’ve heard this before,” but this study shows that individuals who mixed all three types of training into their fitness regimen saw improvements in their VO2 max, or maximum oxygen intake (the higher the number, the more oxygen you’re getting to the muscles, which can help you go faster and farther); high-density lipoprotein (or HDL) cholesterol levels; triglyceride and blood glucose levels; and a lower body-fat percentage. And when comparing the test group that did cardio, resistance, and functional training to the test groups that just did one type of training or none, the group that did all three saw the best results across the board.

That said, if you don’t follow this model to a T, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t make any positive changes to your health or your body. Each type of training—cardio, resistance, and functional—all offer individual benefits.

Benefits of Cardio Training

Cardio is any type of exercise that increases your heart rate and respiration during the same pattern of exercise. Think: running, using the elliptical, or jumping rope. “Cardio is not only good for losing weight and burning fat, but it is also good for your heart, lungs, and your circulatory system,” says Luke Lombardo, RRCA certified running coach, Ironman triathlete, and master trainer of Lagree Fitness in Los Angeles. “All in all, a moderate amount of cardio will keep you lighter, healthier, and help you live longer.” What cardio alone won’t provide: injury prevention, added muscle tone (which ultimately equals more calorie-burning power), additional strength, coordination, or flexibility—proof of why cardio alone doesn’t cut it. 

Benefits of Resistance Training

If you’re working out with a dumbbell, kettlebell, barbell, resistance band, or any type of force that is resisting against the body, that qualifies as resistance training. It’s also known as strength training. “In addition to facilitating weight loss by building muscle—which in turn, helps your body burn more calories and increases metabolism— resistance training also helps maintain and build muscle mass, as well as bone mass,” says Lombardo. Unlike cardio, though, resistance training doesn’t provide the same benefits for your heart, lungs, and circulatory system.

Benefits of Functional Training

Wait, what training? Functional training is exercise that helps train and strengthen the body to perform activities in daily life (ADL)—hence the word functional. “These exercises and movements are done both with and without weights,” says Lombardo. “Functional training is necessary for injury prevention and is also beneficial for one's strength, overall mobility, flexibility, core strength, and more.” Functional training makes life easier by helping you do normal activities like walking up the stairs, picking up grocery bags, or bending down to tie your shoe correctly without risking injury. But—and there’s a pattern here—functional training alone doesn’t tackle everything you need to see results. 

Your Weekly Plan to Combine All Three Exercise Types

We asked Lombardo for a weekly workout plan that incorporates the trio. If you hit a plateau, feel bored with your routine, have new goals, or just want to switch it up, stick to this plan for 4 to 6 weeks to see if your body responds positively. How to use this plan: For each day of the week, aim for 30 to 45 minutes of exercise. For cardio, perform your favorite activity or try a combo of these bodyweight exercises. Include core exercises on functional training days. On resistance days, be sure to start with a dynamic warm-up and end with functional stretching. You'll rotate through an upper-body focus, lower-body focus, and total-body training

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Monday: Cardio + Functional Training including CoreTuesday: Dynamic Warm-Up + Resistance Training (Upper-Body Focus) + Functional Training StretchesWednesday: Cardio + Functional Training including CoreThursday: Dynamic Warm-Up + Resistance Training (Lower-Body Focus) + Functional Training StretchesFriday: Cardio + Functional Training including CoreSaturday: Dynamic Warm-Up + Resistance Training (Total-Body Focus) + Functional Training StretchesSunday: Rest Day or go for a brisk walk 

25 No-Bake Chocolate and Nut Butter Recipes (Need We Say More?)

 

Chocolate and peanut butter is a well-known match made in heaven. But in a world of peanut allergies and strict Paleo diets, alternative nut and seed butters are increasingly popular peanut substitutes.

Whether you’re forever loyal to peanut butter or are looking for ways to get nutty with other varieties, we’ve got you covered with these 25 chocolate + nut butter ideas that require no baking and minimal hands-on work. The chocolate-peanut butter combo will always have a place in our hearts (and bellies), but when it comes to getting nutty with dessert, there’s always room for more.

Almond Butter 1. Chocolate Almond Butter Balls Photo: She Wears Many Hats Semisweet chocolate chips encase a smooth almond butter mixture that's chilled until the outside is crisp and the inside is melt-in-your-mouth creamy. Make it even sweeter—nutrition-wise—by cutting back on the 3/4 cup of sugar that the recipe calls for; you may actually prefer the nuttiness of the almond butter to shine through.  2. Chocolate Almond Butter Popcorn Photo: The Lean Green Bean Next time you’re having movie night at home, whip up a batch of this sweet and savory popcorn. Spruced up with an almond butter coating and a chocolate drizzle, it’s tastier—and healthier—than anything you’ll get at the theater concession stand.    3. Almond Butter Cup Bars Photo: Minimalist Baker In these triple-layer bars, a creamy almond butter and maple syrup filling is sandwiched between a crunchy nut base and a silky chocolate ganache topping. Chill the pan in the freezer to make the dessert set faster; you’re going to want to dig in immediately.  4. Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cheerio Bars With Flax Photo: Ambitious Kitchen Cheerios aren’t just for your breakfast bowl. Put the oat-y puffs to good use in crunchy, chocolate-drizzled bites. With healthy fats from the almond butter and flaxseeds, and whole-grain goodness from the cereal, they’re practically like mini energy bars. 5. Cookie Dough Protein Balls Photo: Well Plated You don’t even need a food processor to make these no-bake, no-cook morsels. Just a big bowl and a sturdy spatula will do. With protein powder for an added nutritional boost, these are as perfect for a post-gym snack as they are for dessert. 6. 4-Ingredient Almond Butter Jelly Cups Photo: The Big Man's World If your house is a peanut-free zone due to allergies, you can still enjoy a Reese's-like treat—just swap out peanut butter for its almond-based cousin. With the added surprise of jelly inside each chocolate-covered cup, these are even better than the packaged version.  7. Chocolate Almond Cookies Photo: Sugar and Cloth With quick-cooking oats, coconut flakes, and chocolate chips held together with a maple syrup and almond butter mixture, these no-bake bites are like eating little morsels of cookie dough—only they’re actually 100 percent safe to eat since there’s no raw egg in here.  Peanut Butter 8. Chocolate Peanut Butter Sliced Oatmeal Cookies Photo: Imma Eat That A more wholesome version of the packaged slice ‘n bake rolls, these chilled, flourless cookies rely on oats, peanut butter, and cocoa powder to come together. Don’t forget the sprinkles on top—everything is better with sprinkles. 9. Crunchy No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars Photo: Two Peas and Their Pod A smooth, chocolaty, peanut buttery base made crispy with crushed cornflakes is the highlight of this recipe. But with just a 1/2 cup of honey (for 16 servings) and hardly any processed ingredients, we’re officially declaring this recipe the healthy eater’s answer to a Butterfinger.  10. Vegan No-Bake Peanut Butter Brownie Bites Photo: Pickles N Honey The fudge factor in these brownies doesn’t come from butter, sugar, or cream; it’s the effect of dates pulverized with cacao powder and peanuts until the mixture is a chocolaty, chewy batter. Topped with crushed peanuts and vegan dark chocolate, they’re the definition of healthy indulgence.  11. Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Bites Photo: As Easy As Apple Pie Got 10 minutes and a major craving for something sweet? These five-ingredient treats are the solution to your busy schedule and hunger pangs. Each little bite comes with cacao, peanut butter, oats, and chia, proving that great (and healthy) things can come in small packages.  12. Healthy No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies Photo: Joy Food Sunshine Put in just five minutes of hands-on work and get about 24 cookies in return—now that’s the kind of math we love. Plus, with wholegrains, healthy fats, and no unrefined sugars, the equation gets even sweeter.  13. Chocolate Pretzel Peanut Butter Cookies Photo: She Likes Food Using pretzels instead of chow mein noodles and adding old-fashioned oats for some whole-grain benefits, these peanut-y cookies (or birds’ nests, or haystacks, or whatever you prefer to call them) are a must for your snack-time routine. They’re even easily made gluten-free if necessary. 14. Chocolate Peanut Butter Chia Bars Photo: My Sequined Life You can whip up these portable goodies in just five minutes. If you’ve got 45 minutes more of patience, let the mixture set in the fridge so you can cut it into bar-size squares, although we don’t blame you if you just have at it with a spoon right out of the food processor.   Cashew Butter 15. Snickerdoodle Truffles Photo: My Whole Food Life Made with almond flour, dairy-free chocolate, and cashew butter, these Paleo snickerdoodle scoops are the perfect way to satisfy a sweet tooth without going nuts (pun intended) on the portions. We’re not sure if cavemen ever ate cookies, but if they had tried these, we bet they’d totally approve. 16. Chocolate Cashew Butter Swirled Candy Cups Photo: Paleo Running Mama If separate, neat layers are a bit too much effort, just swirl the chocolate and nut butter together like this recipe advises—it still tastes like a peanut butter cup, except with a hint of vanilla added and a touch of honey instead of sugar. It’s just different enough to be extra special. 17. Chocolate Cashew Butter Cups Photo: The Movement Menu These Paleo desserts aren’t just imitation Reese’s. With crushed pistachios and macadamias stirred in for extra crunch, and sea salt flakes on top for a savory surprise, they’re a nut-butter cup variety on their own.  18. No-Bake Cashew Butter Chocolate Cookies Photo: The Conscientious Eater Scoop a rich mixture of chocolate, cashew butter, and oatmeal batter onto parchment paper until it's slightly hardened and easier to eat. What makes this healthy recipe even better is that it only makes eight cookies, so even if you eat half the batch in one sitting, you don’t have a stomachache in your future.  19. Raw Chocolate Cashew Butter Mousse Photo: The Honest Project With no chilling time required and about, oh, two minutes to blend together, this raw pudding hits the spot when you need creamy, chocolaty sustenance, stat. Coconut milk, avocado, and cashew butter make it especially rich, so a small serving goes a long way.  Sunflower Seed Butter 20. Paleo No-Bake Sunbutter Bars Photo: The Big Man's World No grains, no gluten, no dairy, no equipment—no problem. These bars manage to pack in a ton of rich, wholesome goodness from the melted chocolate layer down to the thick, melt-in-your-mouth base of sunflower butter and nut-based flours.   21. Sunbutter No-Bake Oatmeal Raisin Bites Photo: Sunbutter True to their title, these are essentially unbaked oatmeal raisin cookies, except they aren’t made from your usual butter and sugar-laden recipe. With agave syrup, sunflower butter, gluten-free oat flour, and ground flaxseeds thrown in for good measure, they work as healthy after-school treats, workout fuel, or even part of breakfast. 22. “Peanut” Butter Cup Protein Chia Pudding Photo: Eat Something Delicious Sunflower seed butter and chia seeds help make this chocolate pudding thick and silky, without the need for cornstarch or heavy cream. No need for stirring the mixture over a double boiler, either; just five minutes of blending (or simply whisking) will do the job! 23. No-Bake Oreos With Sunbutter Photo: Paleo Crumbs The “cookie” portion of these Oreos is made from dates, cocoa, and sunflower seeds, while the “crème” is a rich sunflower seed filling. They may be nontraditional, but they still go perfectly well with a glass of (dairy or nondairy) milk for dunking. 24. Chocolate Sunbutter Banana Ice Cream Photo: Coffee and Quinoa If you’ve already tried one-ingredient banana ice cream, you know how incredible it is. Now make it even better by adding sunflower butter and cocoa powder to the mix. Even you might not believe it’s not real ice cream. 25. Sunflower Seed Butter Granola Bars With Chocolate Drizzle Photo: Averie Cooks You could buy those packaged granola bars with hidden sugars and weird preservatives, but you could also take 10 minutes to throw together these wholesome ones, which taste the same but with ingredients you can actually pronounce. We’re guessing the choice is easy.

Crayola to retire shade from 24-count box on National Crayon Day

Is Crayola ready to sink carnation pink? Or will scarlet get scrapped? 

>> Read more trending news

The crayon maker recently announced that it "will retire a color from its iconic 24-count crayon box" for the "first time in its 100+ year history."

The company will break the news to fans in a livestream Friday morning. You can RSVP to the Facebook event here.

According to WPIX, the box includes the following shades: apricot, black, blue, blue green, blue violet, brown, carnation pink, cerulean, dandelion, gray, green, green yellow, indigo, orange, red, red orange, red violet, scarlet, violet, violet red, white, yellow, yellow green and yellow orange.

Learn more here.

Must-see: Florida firefighters rescue kitten, ducklings in distress

Florida's Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue team has been busy fighting fires ... and saving baby animals

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

This week firefighters helped a kitten and some ducks that were in distress. 

Their efforts started Sunday when ducklings got stuck in a drain. Don’t worry, they are safe now.

Animals were in peril again on Monday when a days-old kitten got stuck in a crane. Firefighters were called to Weston after a fisherman said he heard meowing from the machinery, WSVN reported. 

>> Read more trending news

The kitten was saved and brought to a vet for care, according to WSVN.

The firefighters’ efforts didn’t go unnoticed. People on Facebook and Twitter applauded them for saving the animals. 

 

Read more at WSVN.

March Madness Vasectomies Encourage Guys To Take One For The Team

Doctors say it all started eight years ago, when a urology clinic in Oregon ran an ad promoting the benefits of scheduling a vasectomy in March.

“You go in for a little snip, snip and come out with doctor’s orders to sit back and watch nonstop basketball,” the voice-over promised. “If you miss out on this, you’ll end up recovering during a weekend marathon of ‘Desperate Housewives’!”

Copycat ads followed. Now a sports radio show in Washington, D.C., has an annual Vasectomy Madness contest, where the prize is a free vasectomy.

Here’s how it works: Three guys come on the air to make their cases for getting snipped. The announcers ruthlessly roast them, and then listeners vote on their favorite.

“All right, let’s bring in our next contestant,” a host said. “I believe it’s Abe from Warrenton, Va. So tell us your story. Why are you here?”

Abe has three kids, ages 9, 6 and 3.

“Another one — surprise! Due in July,” Abe said. “I was shopping after the third for a vasectomy and, like a dope, dragged my feet.”

There’s Mike, also expecting his fourth child — also a surprise.

“My wife and I have had enough,” he pleaded. “We need help to stop the flow.”

And then there’s Charles.

“Four kids. Three different women,” Charles said, inspiring a roar of jeers from the hosts.

Procrastination can be so common with the “Big V” that it takes a panel of sports jocks offering a free procedure for some guys to finally let a doctor take a scalpel to their nether regions.

That may be one reason vasectomy rates are low: About 5 percent of women rely on their partner’s vasectomy for contraception, unchanged from a decade ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Survey of Family Growth compares that to 20 percent of women who have had a sterilization procedure, even though women’s surgery is more invasive and more expensive.

“Men are culturally the providers. It’s hard for them to seek care,” said Dr. Paul Turek, a California urologist. “They don’t know how to be a patient.”

Turek has clinics in San Francisco and Beverly Hills. He sees an uptick in vasectomy visits during March Madness, and he’s also noticed more guys coming in together.

“One group came in from a tech company in a limousine,” he said.

Last year, five college buddies scheduled a group vasectomy in March. They live all over the U.S. now, and one of them had an idea to reunite in San Francisco and undergo the outpatient procedure together.

“I gave ’em a deal,” Turek said. “I closed the doors. We had sports TV on. They were having fun.”

As each guy returned to the waiting room, he was greeted with fist bumps and high-fives. Then the men hobbled back to their hotel to bet on the games and yell at the television together.

Turek made an interesting observation during that bro basketball weekend: The friends seemed to recover faster than his typical patients.

“They had no complaints,” he said. “They were back at work sooner. They took fewer pain pills. It was the best anesthesia, having their buddies with them.”

Turek gives all his vasectomy patients a certificate of honor for “uncommon bravery and meritorious performance.”

There is another theory about why vasectomies aren’t more popular: the cost. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover contraceptives without charging out-of-pocket costs. But vasectomies weren’t included in the rule. The procedure costs about $500, but some doctors charge up to $1,000.

That’s why Charles subjected himself to the free vasectomy contest at the D.C. radio station. His insurance covers a portion of the procedure, “but I’d still have to pay my deductible, which is, like, a thousand bucks.”

Vasectomy was overlooked in Obamacare because, under the law, birth control was considered a women’s health service.

“Right now the policy says to a couple: Your insurance will cover birth control without any out-of-pocket costs on your end, as long as it’s the woman who’s using it,” says Adam Sonfield, senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute.

Last year, 12,000 people signed a petition asking regulators to cover vasectomy without cost sharing. Doctors’ groups even drafted language to this effect to add to the regulations.

But when the Trump administration took over, it told the groups to stop trying, according to Aaron Hamlin, executive director of the Male Contraception Initiative.

“The birth control benefit has been under pretty much continual political attack since the ACA was enacted,” said Sonfield.

So for now that leaves guys like Charles, Mike and Abe vying for a free March Madness vasectomy. The winner in the end?

Abe — one of the guys expecting his fourth child.

His prize came with a catch, though. He will have to let one of the sportscasters come to his appointment, to broadcast a “play-by-play.”

This story is part of a partnership that includes KQED, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Donald Trump's childhood home sells for 'yuge' profit

A real estate prospector just profited big-league from the sale of President Donald Trump's childhood home.

>> PHOTOS: Donald Trump’s childhood home

According to CNN, the 2,500-square-foot New York Tudor has a new owner just three months after Michael Davis bought the property in Queens' Jamaica Estates neighborhood for $1.4 million. Last week, an unnamed bidder reportedly shelled out $2.14 million for the home where Trump lived until he was about 4.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Donald Trump's childhood home goes on auction block

The house, built by Trump's father, Fred Trump, has "a brick and stucco exterior and an old-world charm interior featuring arched doorways, hardwood floors, five bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, library, living room with fireplace, formal dining room, basement and more," Paramount Realty USA said in the listing.

>> Read more trending news

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Foods That Keep You Healthy from Head to Toe

There are many motivations for sticking with a healthy diet. Eating more of the good stuff (and less of the junky stuff) can help you prevent cancer, extend your lifespan, protect your heart and manage your weight. But one thing we don't always remember is that your diet affects not just your weight, but your body from the top down, the inside to the outside. Your body transforms the foods you eat into the cells that make up your hair, nails, skin and bones, along with your brain, heart, blood and joints. You literally are what you eat.   Here are some of the key nutrients that keep your body in tiptop shape from head to toe.   Hair At its staggering growth rate of 0.4 millimeters per day, it takes more than 2 years to grow 12 inches of hair. Add lean meats and beans to your diet to make the most of every millimeter. These foods will also give you zinc to help keep your body in hormone balance and prevent hair loss. B-vitamins from leafy greens, peas, tomatoes and carrots also support cell growth for healthy hair.   Brain Boost your brainpower by noshing on foods with high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) scores—a sign that the food is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. Plums, cherries, avocadoes, berries, navel oranges and red grapes top the ORAC charts. (Glance through the alphabetical list for more disease-fighting ratings at oracvalues.com.)   Considering your brain is about 80% water, drink at least 64 ounces of water per day. Essential fatty acids (named "essential" because your body cannot make them) help you grow brain cells and stay sharp, so feed your brain with regular doses of fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil.     Eyes Good nutrition can keep your peepers peppy throughout the years. The antioxidants for brain health also help the eyes, but really keep your eye on including foods with lutein and zeazanthin (pronounced zay-a-za-thin). These carotenoids, found in spinach, collard greens and kale, protect the retina from macular degeneration.   Teeth & Bones Everyone knows you need calcium for bone health, but are you getting enough? Most adults need between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. Low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, almonds, spinach and soybeans are all good sources of dietary calcium. And calcium doesn't act alone! Its partner-in-crime is vitamin D, which is necessary for proper calcium absorption. Some fish and eggs provide this key vitamin, but there are not many natural food sources of this bone builder. Instead, vitamin-D is often added to milk, margarine and some breads and cereals.   Joints Put a wiggle in your walk with gelatin and vitamin C. These nutrients are key precursors to collagen, the material that cushions our joints and keeps our tendons and connective tissue strong. Gelatin can be found in powdered supplement form or in your basic Jell-O mix. Boost your vitamin C intake with fruits and veggies, especially strawberries, oranges, pineapple, cauliflower and green peppers.   Heart Soy and flaxseed both pack double punches when it comes to heart protection. Soymilk, edamame, tofu and other soy products are packed with cholesterol-lowering phytochemicals and heart healthy soluble fiber. Flaxseed is also another source of soluble fiber that comes with a side of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce your risk of heart disease. Sprinkle some ground flaxseed in your oatmeal or yogurt, or even add it to your favorite baking recipe.   Intestines Protect your gut with probiotics. These powerful little bacteria support the natural environment in your intestine and combat disease-causing microorganisms. You can find yogurt, kefir and milk supplemented with probiotics. They are often under the name L. Acidophilus.   Fiber is also essential to a healthy gut. Whole grains, especially oats and bran, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables can help you reach your goal. Getting your daily 20-35 grams of fiber keeps your gut and colon health moving in the right direction.   Skin We'll wrap it all up, literally, with nutrition for the skin. It is important to nourish your body's largest organ. Maintain disease-free and healthy looking skin with alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). This antioxidant is more powerful than vitamins C and E, and protects your skin cells from damage and many of the elements it's exposed to each day. Get your fair share of ALA with spinach, broccoli and beef. Vitamins C, E, K, and A, as well as B-vitamins are also important for radiant, nourished skin. Enjoying a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can help you reach the recommended amount of these vitamins.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1669

11 Nice Ways to Say 'No' to Food Pushers

During family gatherings, food temptations are everywhere. From stuffing and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving to eggnog and sugar cookies in December, to barbecues in the summer, the seasonal temptations are endless. It can be tough enough to navigate the buffet without having your great aunt force an extra helping of potatoes on your plate or resisting Grandma Dolly's pleas that you take a second piece of her famous apple pie. There's always some kind of event going on: birthday parties, family get-togethers, company meetings, bridal and baby showers--and all of these events have one thing in common (besides all the tempting food): food pushers.   Food pushers range from well-intentioned loved ones to total diet saboteurs. Regardless of their motivation, it's important to stick to your guns. You can always be honest and say that you're simply trying to eat healthier, but if that response gets ignored (or doesn't come easily), the following retorts to their food-forcing ways will keep you in control of what goes on your plate and in your mouth!   The Push: "It's my specialty, you have to try it!" Your Response: "I will in a bit!" Why It Works: Stalling is a great tactic with food pushers. Odds are the offender won't follow you around making sure you actually try the dish. If they catch up with you by the end of the party to ask what you thought, tell them that it slipped your mind but you'll be sure to try it next time.   The Push: "This [insert name of high-calorie dish] is my favorite. You'll love it!" Your Response: "I had some already—so delicious!" Why It Works: A white lie in this situation isn't going to hurt anybody. You'll get out of eating food you don't want or need, and the food pusher will have gotten a compliment on what probably is a delicious dish.   The Push: "It's just once a year!" Your Response: "But I'll probably live to celebrate more holidays if I stick with my diet plan!" Why It Works: People can sometimes see healthy eating as vain—a means to the end result of losing weight and looking better. It's harder for a food pusher to argue with you if you bring attention to the fact that you eat right and exercise for better health and a longer life. Looking good just happens to be a side effect!   The Push: "Looks like someone is obsessed with dieting…" Your Response: "I wouldn't say obsessed, but I am conscious of what I eat." Why It Works: Words like "food snob" or "obsessed" are pretty harsh when they're thrown around by food pushers. But don't let passive-aggressive comments like this bring you down—or make you veer away from your good eating intentions. Acknowledging your willpower and healthy food choices might influence others to be more conscious of what they eat. Sometimes you just have to combat food pushers with a little straightforward kindness.   The Push: "If you don't try my dish, I'm just going to have to force you to eat it!" Your Response: "Sorry, but I don't like (or can't eat) [insert ingredient here]." Why It Works: It's hard to argue with someone's personal food preferences. If someone doesn't like an ingredient whether its sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or butter, odds are that he or she hasn't liked it for a very long time. If you'd like to get creative with this one, go into detail about how you got sick on the ingredient as a kid or how your mom says you always threw it across the room as a baby. Who can argue with that?   The Push: "You need some meat on your bones." Your Response: "Trust me, I'm in no danger of wasting away!" Why It Works: This food push is definitely on the passive-aggressive side. Using humor to fight back will defuse any tension while making it clear where you stand.   The Push: "One bite isn't going to kill you." Your Response: "I know, but once you pop you can't stop! And I'm sure it's so delicious I wouldn't be able to stop!" Why It Works: This is another situation where humor will serve to distract the food pusher from his or her mission. It's a way to say "thanks, but no thanks" while making it clear that you're not interested in overindulging.   The Push: "But it's your favorite!" Your Response: "I think I've overdosed on it; I just can't eat it anymore!" Why It Works: If you have a favorite holiday dish that everyone knows you love, it can be especially tough to escape this push. If a loved one made the dish specifically for you, the guilt can be enough to push you over the edge. But people understand that food preferences change, and most have been in that situation of enjoying a dish so much that they can't touch it for awhile.   The Push: [Someone puts an extra helping on your plate without you asking.] Your Response: Push it around with your fork like you did as a kid to make it look like you tried it. Why It Works: While putting food on someone else's plate can be viewed as passive-aggressive, it was probably done with love. (Let's hope!) Making it look like you ate a bite or two can be an easy way out of the situation, but you can also just leave it alone and claim that you've already had your fill. (After all, you didn't add that extra helping!)   The Push: "Have another drink!" Your Response: "I have to drive." Why It Works: No one will argue with the fact that you want to drive home sober. If they do, you should have no qualms walking away from the conversation, period. If they offer a place for you to stay, you can always get out of the situation by blaming an early morning commitment or the fact that you need to get home to let the dog out. Kids will also get you out of everything.   The Push: "We have so many leftovers. Take some!" Your Response: "That's OK! Just think, you'll have your meals for tomorrow taken care of." Why It Works: Not every party guest wants to deal with the hassle of taking food with them, and this makes it clear that you'd rather the food stay. If the host is insistent, you can feign worry that they'll go bad in the car because you're not going straight home, or it'll go bad in your fridge because you've already been given so many leftovers at other parties recently. Or be polite and take them. You'll have more control of your food intake away from the party anyway. So whether you don't eat the leftovers at all or whether you split a piece of pie with your spouse, you're in control in this situation.   These tactics can work wonders in social situations, but honesty is sometimes the best policy. A simple "No, thank you" is hard for a food pusher to beat, especially if it's repeated emphatically. Remember, too, that it's okay to have treats in moderation, so don't deprive yourself of your favorite holiday foods. Just make sure that you're the one in control of your splurges—not a friend, family member or co-worker who doesn't know your fitness and health goals!     Do you have a favorite way to say, "No, thank you," to food pushers? Share your strategies in the comments section to the right. Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1685

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