Archive for November 10th, 2009

There is now a Chicago-based company, Element Bar, that let’s you custom design your own energy bar!  (And then they ship it to you.) But that’s not the best part. As you design your own energy bar, the website shows you how each ingredient effects nutritional data. Add some peanut  butter and watch the fat content go up. Add some honey and watch the sugar content increase. You can also add “boosts” of Omega 3, Fiber, Soy Protein or Whey Protein.

Try Building Your Own Bar here.

I tried it out and created the bar below:

• Dates: Made from natural date paste. Virtually fat free, high in fiber, no added sweeteners.


• Prunes: Adds a nice chewy texture and fiber.


• Almonds: Raw, unsalted – great for texture and taste.
• Flaxseeds: Lightly roasted that adds a nice crunch.
• Immunity Boost: Provides 100% of key antioxidants in each bar.
• Omega 3 boost: Our flax seed oil provides 0.5 grams of Omega-3 per bar.


• Fiber: Chicory root extract provides 2 grams of soluble fiber per bar.

Ingredients in my custom protein bar

name your custom energy bar
we guarantee delicious bars
Delete Ingredient Organic
prunes Prunes Organic not available
almonds Almonds
flaxSeeds FlaxSeeds
omega3Boost Omega-3 Boost
fiberBoost Fiber Boost Organic not available
immunityBoost Immunity Boost Organic not available
datey Datey Core Organic not available

Bar Power Key:

custom energy bar rich in antioxidants custom energy bar good for GI health custom energy bar good for your brain custom energy bar good for your heart custom energy bar for strength
Antioxidant GI Health Brain/Memory Heart Muscle/Strength

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Bar (2.8oz)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 265
Calories from Fat 50

Total Fat 5.5g
% Daily Value*8%

Saturated Fat 0.2g
% Daily Value*1%

Trans Fat 0g

Cholesterol 0mg
% Daily Value*0%

Sodium 2.2mg
% Daily Value*0%
Potassium 402.6mg
% Daily Value 12%

Total Carbohydrate 55.2g
% Daily Value 18%

Dietary Fiber 8.8g
% Daily Value 35%
Sugars 46.3g

Protein 2.3g
% Daily Value*5%

Vitamin A % Daily Value 42%
Vitamin C
% Daily Value*382%
% Daily Value*20%
% Daily Value*3%

Ingredients: Date Paste (Pressed Dates, Vegetable Oil), Inulin (Chicory Root Extract), Almonds, Organic Flax Seeds, Prunes, Immunity Boost, Organic Flaxseed Oil

Contains: Tree Nuts
May contain traces of: Milk, Soy, Wheat, Tree Nuts, and Peanuts.

A Word About Element Bar Ingredients

Element Bars are made from all-natural ingredients that are either unprocessed or have been minimally processed to best preserve each ingredient’s nutritional benefits.

* No artificial sweeteners
* No processed starches
* No new, fancy food technology

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Do scenes of nature on your computer screen or television give you the same stress relief that you get looking out a window at a scenic view? Sadly, no. Read the excerpt from Newswise.com below for the sad truth about the effects of “faux” nature.

Scenes of Nature Trump Technology in Reducing Low-level Stress

A new study that measured individuals’ heart recovery rate from minor stress when exposed to a natural scene through a window, the same scene shown on a high-definition plasma screen, or a blank wall. The heart rate of people who looked at the scene through the window dropped more quickly than the others. In fact, the high-definition plasma screen had no more effect than the blank wall.


Student viewing computer scene of nature (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Washington)

Research done through the Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems Lab at the University of Washington showed that when people spent more time looking at the natural scene their heart rates tended to decrease more. That was not the case with the plasma screen.

The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, is published in the current issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

“Technology is good and it can help our lives, but let’s not be fooled into thinking we can live without nature,” said Peter Kahn, a UW associate professor of psychology who led the research team.

“We are losing direct experiences with nature. Instead, more and more we’re experiencing nature represented technologically through television and other media. Children grow up watching Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. That’s probably better than nothing. But as a species we need interaction with actual nature for our physical and psychological well-being.”

Part of this loss comes from what the researchers call environmental generational amnesia. This is the idea that across generations the amount of environmental degradation increases, but each generation views conditions it grew up with as largely non-degraded and normal. Children growing up today in the cities with the worst air pollution often, for example, don’t believe that their communities are particularly polluted.

“This problem of environmental generational amnesia is particularly important for children coming of age with current technologies,” said Rachel Severson, a co-author of the study and a UW psychology doctoral student. “Children may not realize they are not getting the benefits of actual nature when interacting with what we’re calling technological nature.”

The researchers found that participants with the plasma screen actually looked at it just as often as did those who had the window. However, the window held the students’ attention significantly longer than the plasma screen did. When participants spent more time looking at the window, their heart rates decreased faster than on tasks when they spent less time looking at the window. This was not true with the plasma screen.

“I was surprised by this,” said Kahn. “I thought the plasma screen would come somewhere between the glass window and the blank wall. This study is important because it shows the importance of nature in human lives and at least one limitation of technological nature.

“In the years ahead, technological nature will get more sophisticated and compelling. But if it continues to replace our interaction with actual nature, it will come at a cost. To thrive as a species, we still need to interact with nature by encountering an animal in the wild, walking along the ocean’s edge or sleeping under the enormity of the night sky.”

Co-authors of the study are Batya Friedman, Jennifer Hagman, Erika Feldman and Anna Stolyar of the UW, Brian Gill of Seattle Pacific University, Nathan Freier of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Sybil Carrere of California State University, San Bernardino. Freier and Carrere were both at the UW when they worked on the study.

Read the full article here.

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Even the healthiest of us may require hospital treatment at some point in our lives. As do our kids, spouses,  parents and extended family. And the medical bills can be confusing, not to mention expensive!  But how do you know if you are overpaying or if the bill is accurate?  That’s where Smart Medical Consumer comes in.

About Smart Medical Consumer

Smart Medical Consumer is the first intelligent web-based service for consumers to manage their medical expenses, with breakthrough features including automatic detection of medical billing mistakes. Smart Medical Consumer offers this application based on its patent pending technology and architecture. We develop proprietary web software, and also operate as the service provider.

Analysis and management of the health care bills and insurance explanation of benefits might save a medical consumer thousands of dollars. Additionally, it can help a medical consumer smartly plan their short term and long term decisions for choices in health care, providers, drugs, health insurance plans, health savings accounts and flexible savings accounts.

While health care providers and insurances use extensive resources and tools to optimize their revenues from services to consumers, there is hardly any help for consumers to optimize their medical spending. Smart Medical Consumer is dedicated to fill this void and offer services for consumers to smartly manage their health care expenses.

The founder, Banu Ozden, PhD,


Banu Ozden

is an expert in distributed database systems, multimedia systems, and Internet infrastructure. Formerly, she was at Bell Labs, Murray Hill, New Jersey, as the Director of Research in Computing Systems, and at the Computer Science Department of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California.

After her own frustrations dealing with health care expenses, she founded Smart Medical Consumer to bring a consumer-centric solution to fellow medical consumers.

Smart Medical Consumer currently offers the following services: MySMC beta service to manage medical expenses; MyDocs beta service to keep track of medical billing documents from healthcare providers, insurances, and health saving accounts; and Ask&Share service to get help from billing experts, and to share frustrations and experiences with a community of other smart medical consumers.

About MySMC

Smart Medical Consumer’s MySMC service is for managing user’s medical expenses. MySMC is not a passive record tracking system, but it smartly analyses data to detect billing and coverage errors. It warns the user with detected billing mistakes, insurance coverage anomalies, and incorrectly allocated user payments. MySMC also enables user to analyze her own data more effectively, so that the user can make decisions about her medical choices and healthcare spendings.

Smart Medical Consumer’s first test users have saved thousands of dollars by the help of MySMC. Furthermore, the thorough understanding of what they are charged for and the correct amount they are responsible for have helped them to make proactive decisions about their medical choices.

About MyDocs

Smart Medical Consumer’s MyDocs service is to keep track of records user receives from insurances, providers and saving accounts.

MyDocs serves multiple purposes. One to maintain the records available to user as is so that the user does not need to manage filing of these records. Second to automatically retrieve data from the online documents stored in MyDocs and automatically enter data MySMC for further analysis.

MyDocs can be also be used independent of MySMC if the user needs only easy filing, retrieving and note keeping for the records the user receives from healthcare providers, insurances and saving accounts.

Similarly, the user can choose to use MySMC service independently of the MyDocs service.

About Ask&Share

Smart Medical Consumer’s Ask and Share is to help consumers understand their medical expenses: if you have questions regarding your medical expenses, doctor bills, health care provider statements, insurance claims, or explanation of benefits, post them here. Our moderators are medical billing experts and will answer your questions if they can. If not, other fellow smart medical consumers may be able to help.

Not understanding your medical bills or insurance explanation of benefits might cause you to spend more on health care than your fair share. Whether you are questioning the copays for your prescription drug, disputing an insurance claim, managing your family’s health care, trying to coordinate multiple insurance plans, trying to figure out the copay, coinsurance, allowed amount, reasonable and customary amount, hospital surcharge, deductible, out-of pocket amount, the services patient is charged for, the medical codes for services and procedures, and the diagnosis codes, or simply trying to understand the financial implications of the actions of your doctor or insurance company and what your options are, get aid from Smart Medical Consumer’s billing experts.

Whatever health problem you or your loved ones are going through, whether it is a catastrophic illness like cancer, a chronic disease like diabetes, or a sports injury like a hip fracture, don’t let the patient responsibility of medical expenses pile up unfairly. Post your questions at Ask&Share, use Smart Medical Consumer’s MySMC service to manage your expenses, and MyDocs service for easy filing and retrieving statements from providers, insurances and saving accounts.

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