Senior Viewpoint: Successful Aging, Kevin McGrath

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When you think about aging, what you are actually thinking about is being alive.

Oftentimes people tend to allow corporations and their advertising campaigns to define what aging is through all of the anti-aging and look-younger products that are being pushed at us in the media and markets, indirectly telling us that the aging process isn’t desirable. Whether it’s gray hair, wrinkles, or reduced energy levels, capitalistic business tries to take advantage and convince us to spend money to change ourselves.

Of course, you’re entitled to spend your own money how you want, but be sure it’s on your own terms. Looking younger isn’t being younger, but if that’s what works for you, then spend away! Just don’t let the ad campaigns make you feel inferior, because you’ve developed considerable amounts of experience through your life’s adventures that give you greater insight and wisdom to deal with challenges than a younger person, who may be overwhelmed by them.

Having more free time in retirement can enable older adults to do things they’ve only dreamed about.

Whether it’s going on trips to places on your bucket list, starting a new career in something that’s always interested you, spending more quality time with loved ones, or taking a course at a nearby college or online. You could even teach a course in something you’re good at as an enrichment class for others to expand their skill sets, or attend an enrichment class yourself.

Having more time also offers you the ability to volunteer with different organizations that fit your fancy. Many these days are in desperate need, creating a win-win scenario.

In addition to more time, seniors may also have greater disposable income due to Medicare and Social Security guaranteeing basic health insurance and a minimum income. Senior discounts are also a very nice perk to advancing in years, as they can be found nearly everywhere.

Of course, your mental and physical fitness level is a big influence on how much you might tend to enjoy your later years.

Here are some tips from the National Institute on Aging for aging “successfully,” to help you stay healthy and deal with potential cognitive challenges:

  • Learn a new skill.
  • Follow a daily routine.
  • Plan tasks, make to-do lists, and use memory tools such as calendars and notes.
  • Put your wallet or purse, keys, phone, and glasses in the same place each day.
  • Stay involved in activities that can help both the mind and body.
  • Volunteer in your community, at a school, or at your place of worship.
  • Spend time with friends and family.
  • Get enough sleep, generally seven to eight hours each night.
  • Exercise and eat well.
  • Prevent or control high blood pressure.
  • Don’t drink a lot of alcohol.
  • Get help if you feel depressed for weeks at a time.

There’s no point in trying to fight aging—we either advance in years or not, and until that final day arrives for each and every one of us, it would be wise to make the most of the advantages we’ve earned over the years.

Kevin McGrath is schlepping toward retirement and is looking forward to his next adventure on the highway of Life.


Excerpted from the Winter ’22 – ’23 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Healthy Cooking: Hot Soup for Cold Days, Val Wilson

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Nothing will warm you up on a cold winter day better than a nice hot bowl of soup. Soup is such a versatile dish. It can be served as an appetizer before a meal, be the main course, or even just a snack.

When you make a soup with red lentils, you have the added bonus of a thick creamy texture because red lentils break down when they are cooked. Red lentils are an excellent source of protein, high in fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, and B vitamins.

Whenever you cook beans or lentils, add a small piece of kombu. This incredible nutrient-dense sea vegetable helps strengthen your intestinal tract and aids in digesting the lentils, helping to eliminate the gas some experience when eating beans and lentils.

Burdock root is an excellent strengthening root vegetable native to Michigan.

You may have come across it while hiking in the woods. It is the plant with the huge leaves and round burs that get stuck on your pant legs. You can dig up the plant and eat the root, but most prefer to just buy it from the store.

Burdock is great for your skin, can cleanse the blood, is good for your digestion, and can help eliminate toxins from the body. It’s best known for helping people with diabetes as it contains inulin, the nutraceutical that helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

Burdock root has a unique bitter, earthy taste. It is always best paired with a sweet vegetable such as the sweet potato in the soup recipe below. The seasonings paprika, curry, and cumin give a little spice to the soup without making it too spicy. They spices are warming spices, helping to keep you warm during the cold winter months.

Red Lentil Burdock Root Soup

10 cups water
1 (2 inch) piece of kombu
2 cups red lentils
1 onion (diced)
4 cups sweet potato (peeled and cut in cubes)
2 cups burdock root (cut in thin rounds)
3 celery stalks (diced)
1/4 cup minced kale
1 T. olive oil
3 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. curry
1/2 tsp. cumin


Put the water and kombu in a soup pot and bring to a boil. Remove the kombu once it’s soft. Cut in small pieces and put back into pot. Add the red lentils and let water come back up to a boil. Add the vegetables, one at a time, letting the water come back up to a boil in-between adding each vegetable. Once all vegetables are in the soup pot, reduce to low, and simmer for twenty minutes. Turn off heat and add the seasonings. Stir everything together and serve hot.

Chef Valerie Wilson has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. She offers weekly, virtual cooking classes that all can attend. Visit for schedule, cookbook purchases, phone consultations, or her radio show, and follow her on Facebook at Macro Val Food.

Excerpted from the Winter ’22 – ’23 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Co-op Corner: Recipe For Success Program Receives Funding to Continue Food Education Across U.P., Marquette Food Co-op

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MFC Outreach Director Sarah Monte (right) and Education Coordinator Amanda Latvala (left) at a Feeding America distribution site this summer.

Feeding America West Michigan (FAWM) sends monthly trucks to locations all around the Upper Peninsula to distribute food to people in need. FAWM recently performed a detailed assessment of their mobile pantry distribution program and learned that attendees wanted to learn more about how to prepare healthy meals with the ingredients they were receiving. FAWM, the Marquette Food Co-op (MFC), and the Northern Michigan University Center for Regional Health (NMUCRH) teamed up to create a food education program that would specifically serve attendees of the mobile pantry distribution.

Funding from the Superior Health Foundation has enabled the team to create this multi-faceted project with a virtual and in-person food education component that links food educators across the Upper Peninsula. Seven mobile pantry locations whose attendees indicated strong interest in food education were selected for live food demos or sampling. These locations include Marquette, Ishpeming, Newberry, Sault Ste. Marie, Manistique, Norway, and Ontonagon.

Comprehensive kitchen equipment kits were put together so that our partners had the tools necessary to prepare and serve the food.

At mobile pantry distributions throughout the summer and fall, our partners prepared food in certified kitchens and brought it to the pantry distribution so attendees could taste the prepared recipes. Depending on the location, our team of food educators would demonstrate recipe preparation, or move from car to car serving the featured recipe and chatting about how they prepared it.

This is a particularly fun and challenging partnership, as what food will arrive on the truck often isn’t known until twenty-four hours before the event. FAWM notifies the food educators of the products, and the team gets to work finding the right recipe that features food participants will be taking home that day. Recipients get a copy of the recipe so they can recreate the meal at home.

The MFC and Food for Life Nutrition services developed a suite of recipes tailored to the items most often delivered via the mobile pantry, so the demo team has resources ready to go. These recipes are housed on the NMUCRH website. NMUCRH also worked with the MFC to put together video demonstrations to accompany the recipes. These demonstrations and recipes are available to anyone and can be found at

The MFC provided staff for the demos at the Marquette and Ishpeming locations.

We used our experience with food demonstrations offsite to create equipment kits for each team of food educators at each location. NMUCRH, as an organization that serves the entire Upper Peninsula, travels frequently and was instrumental in dropping off the kits to our partners.

Preliminary evaluations indicate that the recipes are a big hit. For example, out of the 128 evaluations at the Marquette location, 115 people indicated they would make the recipe at home, with another 11 saying maybe they would make the dish at home. 119 people stated they would share the food and/or recipe with other people. It’s not just the participants enjoying the event. As one food educator said, “I loved getting to interact with so many people, cracking jokes and chatting with them. This filled my cup.”

We are thrilled to announce renewed funding for the Recipe for Success Program and are looking forward to another year of bringing food education to sites across the Upper Peninsula. Be sure to visit the NMUCRH site above to learn more about our partners and to try out some of the recipes in your own home!

*Article sponsored by the Marquette Food Co-op

Excerpted from the Winter ’22 – ’23 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.

Healthy Cooking: The Art of Blueberry Pie, Val Wilson

There is nothing as sweet as wild blueberries picked fresh in the UP! The challenging part is not eating all of them as you pick so you still have enough to make a pie. The beautiful flakey crust and rich blue color can make that pie look like a work of art!

There are many health benefits in these little sweet berries. Blueberries are full of antioxidants, which are important for getting rid of free radicals in our bodies that can cause disease. What gives those beautiful blueberries their blue color is the antioxidant anthocyanins which studies have shown can help prevent neuronal diseases, cardiovascular illness, cancers, diabetes, and other inflammatory diseases. 

Containing vitamin K, iron, calcium, and zinc, blueberries are good for your bones. They also contain vitamins C, A, E, magnesium, folate, manganese, and beta carotene, and are high in fiber and protein. Plus research has shown consuming blueberries can help increase the rate of muscle strength recovery and muscle repair if you suffer from exercise induced muscle damage (EMID). And the wild berries are reported to have more of the healthy antioxidants and, in my opinion, more sweetness. 

In the following recipe I use whole grain flour. I prefer spelt or kamut flour. If you want to create a gluten-free crust, I would suggest using oat flour. Any flour will work to create the crust for this recipe. 

Blueberry Pie*

3 cups whole grain flour 
1/2 cup olive oil 
1/2 cup water 
Pinch of sea salt 

5 cups blueberries 
1/2 cup brown rice syrup 
2 T. lemon juice 
5 T. arrowroot 
1 tsp. cinnamon 

To make the crust, mix together all the ingredients until you get a firm dough that will hold together. Divide into two equal parts, form into round discs, and cover in plastic wrap. Put in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, then roll out the crust between two pieces of plastic wrap and put in an oiled pie pan.

For the filling, put all of the ingredients in a sauce pan, then cover and heat on low. Once the filling starts to heat up, the blueberries will release their natural juices. Once this occurs, mix everything together. As it heats, the arrowroot will thicken the filling.

Pour filling into bottom crust. Roll out the top crust in the same way as the bottom crust. Place the top crust over the pie and pinch the edges to create a decorative edge. Bake at 350 degrees or one hour. Let cool before cutting.

*Recipe from Chef Val’s new cookbook Simply Healthy Scrumptious Desserts

Chef Valerie Wilson has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. She offers weekly, virtual cooking classes that all can attend. Visit for schedule, cookbook purchases, phone consultations, or radio show, and follow her on Facebook at Macro Val Food.

Excerpted from the Summer 2022 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2022, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.