It’s no surprise to anyone who lives here that San Antonio consistently appears at the top of “best places to live” lists. We have a great climate, interesting cultural roots, first class universities and a solid economy—plus our Alamo City was recently named by Forbes as one of the top twenty places in the nation to invest in a home due to affordability and growth. But there’s one list I wish San Antonio didn’t find itself on the top of year after year—the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s (AAFA) “Allergy Capital” ranking.
Last year, San Antonio ranked 22nd out of 100 of the largest U.S. metro areas by pollen count, allergy medicine use, and allergy specialists. And now that cooler weather and pumpkin-spiced lattes are in the air, it’s time to break out the tissues. If you’ve recently noticed yourself sniffling, sneezing and rubbing your eyes, you can blame ragweed and mold. But the worst is yet to come—one of my team members noticed a few ashe juniper trees beginning to turn tawny orange on their tips up in the Hill Country, meaning it’s only a matter of time before cold fronts carry those hazy yellow clouds our way again. San Antonio transplants might not notice much at first, since it may take years of exposure for sufferers to develop full-blown “Cedar Fever” symptoms.
But once you have it, all you want to do is make it stop. Besides seeing your doctor and figuring out which antihistamine and nasal steroid spray to use, what can you do to make this year’s allergy season better than last? Unfortunately, no one has come out with a magic bullet that works to stop cedar suffering, but there’s quite a bit you can do to minimize the fallout from pollen.
Keep Pollen from Hitchhiking Back Home with You
- Change clothes, or better yet, take a shower, when you come home after being outdoors.
- Take shoes off at the door and ask guests to do the same.
- Get daily wear contacts or wear glasses to reduce irritants clinging to lenses.
- Groom your pets more often if they spend much time outdoors, or wipe down fur with a cleansing cloth made for pets.
Make Your Home a Fortress
- Don’t be tempted to open windows to enjoy that fall weather. With the cool breeze comes pollen. Keep windows closed and run the AC if necessary.
- Clean carpets regularly in the fall and winter or replace carpets with tile. Hard surfaces are easier to clean and don’t retain pollen like carpets do. If you can’t replace your carpets, use a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter for best results.
- Whether you are sipping hot cocoa while cutting your own tree in the Hill Country, or choosing one at a tree lot near you, be sure to spray it off with a hose when you get home. If your allergies are severe, consider an artificial tree.
- Replace your furnace’s filter. A furnace filter should capture most of the irritants that may trigger winter allergies, but won’t be as effective once it’s clogged. Replace your filter now, and again in late December or January, to keep pollen to a minimum
Choose Your Moment
- Time your workouts. It’s best to avoid the outdoors during high pollen count days, but that’s not always practical. So avoid the 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. window when most plants tend to pollinate. And skip the outdoor run and head to the gym on windy days, when pollen tends to get stirred around.
- Know your pollen count and plan accordingly—for a Facebook friendly listing of what allergens are in play on any given day, check out Dr. Paul Ratner’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/paulhratner.
And for those of you who haven’t seen the trees in action, take a look at this video from Youtube:
Stuffing, gravy, wine and pies galore–it’s easy to overindulge over Thanksgiving. So if you are looking to clean up your health habits in anticipation of the big day, I have a quick and easy tip. Try swapping out your regular pasta for my new favorite pasta alternative, Banza. Made with chickpeas, which are naturally gluten free and low on the glycemic index, Banza is a nutritional standout. It has double the protein, four times the fiber and nearly half the carbs of regular pasta; meaning you will feel fuller longer eating less. It tastes great, and works everywhere you use traditional pasta–so try it in your mac and cheese or vodka penne and I bet you won’t be able to tell the difference. Banza is now available in all Target stores, and you can check out http://www.eatbanza.com to find other stores near you. And if you are looking for something to do with that leftover turkey, try this recipe from Banza:
Turkey Lemon Pesto
Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 45 mins Total time: 50 mins
1 box Banza rotini
1 cup packed spinach
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 small garlic clove
½ teaspoon salt, divided
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Water if necessary
1 ½ cup diced leftover turkey
1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season with salt. It should taste like the sea. Cook pasta according to
package directions. Reserve ½ cup of starch cooking liquid.
2. In a blender, add spinach walnuts, ¼ parmesan, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, lemon zest and juice. Pulse until the
mixture is roughly chopped. Use a spoon to scrape down the sides as necessary. Continue to pulse while slowly
adding in olive oil, again, use a spoon to scrape down the sides as necessary. Pulse until the mixture has a
pesto consistency. If necessary, add a teaspoon of water to loosen pesto up. Season to taste with salt and
3. When pasta is done cooking, drain and add to a serving bowl. Top with remaining salt, pesto and turkey. Toss
until combined. If necessary, add a little bit of starchy cooking water to loosen the sauce up. Season to taste with
salt and pepper. Garnish with parmesan cheese.