Tag Archives: healthy

Ethics

May 16, 2017 by

Years ago, my colleague Butch Ethington showed me a graphic he designed when he was the ethics officer and ombudsman at Union Pacific Railroad. I still use this graphic in my Creighton classes and the department uses it in our Business Ethics Alliance programs.

It is a pyramid. At the bottom are all the rank-and-file employees, the heart and soul of business. Their No.1 ethical issue, Butch says, is fairness. “She got more time off.” “He was given the opportunity for travel.” “She got to work from home.”

In the middle of the pyramid are the managers and directors. In between the top dogs and rank and file employees, managers and directors have tough roles. Their No. 1 ethical issue is accurate reporting. “How do I make my boss happy about the numbers?” “How do I showcase my subordinates?”

At the top of the pyramid are the executives and board members of the organization. They spend a great amount of time interfacing with government, the public, and all stakeholders. Their No. 1 ethical issue is conflict of interest.

Of course, conflicts of interest can occur at any level of an organization. Think about the conflicts that arise for salespeople, or the ones that occur in procurement. Executives have other ethical issues, for example, telling the truth or community responsibilities. Let’s focus on executives and board members and their conflicts of interest.

Three key questions arise. What is a conflict of interest? Why is it so hard to recognize our own conflicts of interest? What can be implemented to reduce conflicts of interest?

As for the first question, we all know that a conflict of interest can arise when someone is responsible for serving competing interests. But this is not, in and of itself, unethical. It is what a person does about the competing interests that matter. Classic examples of conflicts of interest focus on financial interests, for example, an executive who shares confidential information, thereby decreasing his firm’s assets and increasing his own. But a more nuanced definition of conflict of interest includes multi-dimensions and is not always about making more money. For example, what about a board member who provides a building to the firm at reduced rent? In this case, she provides a benefit because of her interest. Is this a conflict that is unethical?

It has been said that half of the battle in ethics is being aware that there is an ethical situation in front of you. Why is it so hard to see one’s conflicts of interest? Behavioral ethicists shine a light on this second question. We have psychological dispositions to think or act in certain ways, due to chemistry or socialization, which are unnoticed or disbelieved. Deeply entrenched and habitual dispositions can be healthy, like being confident. But confidence can become extreme and turn into a bias. Overconfidence bias can block one’s perception of a conflict of interest and when this happens we say a person has a psychological blindspot.

Overconfidence bias can be heard when an executive says, “This is not a problem. If anyone can handle it, I can.” But no one is immune to psychological blindspots and unethical conflicts of interest. No one. The best we can do is recognize our human nature and develop strategies to overcome our extremes. Which takes us to question three.

What can we do to reduce conflicts of interest? At the policy level, it is helpful to have executives and board members sign conflict of interest statements. But make sure the documents are multidimensional, addressing possible financial, as well as non-financial, conflicts. Most conflict of interest statements do not. Second, we can learn from something Bruce Grewcock, CEO of Kiewit, once told me. He says that the company has leaders who are willing to speak up and point out to him when he needs to examine a situation again. He’s expressing the old adage, “surround yourself with good people.” When we do this, we have the best chance of recognizing our overconfidence and reducing the chance that we will act inappropriately and wreak havoc on our world.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is the executive director of Business Ethics Alliance, and the Daugherty Chair in Business Ethics & Society at Creighton University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article was printed in the Spring 2017 edition of B2B.

 

Elizabeth Byrnes

November 20, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“Students come up to me in the halls and ask when the pantry is going to stock toothbrushes…Toothbrushes…What they’re coming in for, it’s not just food they need, but basic items to survive and help their family.”

-Elizabeth Byrnes

Tucked away in a discreet supply room at Ralston High School, beyond the steel lockers and crowded classrooms, Elizabeth Byrnes is stocking nonperishable goods.

While classmates hurry to first period at 7:30 a.m., Byrnes shuffles paperwork, counts inventory, coordinates volunteer shifts, and organizes pick-ups and drop-offs for the school’s food pantry.

Byrnes is not your typical teenager. Sure, she’s a 17-year-old cheerleader who gabs on a smartphone and loves to shop at American Eagle. But this 5-foot-6-inch brown-eyed beauty takes her community service seriously.

So when she saw a sign last year advertising the school’s free food pantry, titled the R-Pantry, Byrnes decided to check it out.

“I didn’t know it was needed,” she says.

On that particular day, she visited the small closet of a lecture room where teachers had been operating a makeshift pantry that allowed students in need to shop anonymously for food, toiletries, and other supplies inside the high school.

Roughly 60 percent of students at Ralston Public Schools receive free or reduced-rate meals.

To create a healthy pantry, teacher Dan Boster says the Ralston High staff noticed the need and donated nonperishable items and the seed money—roughly $800 worth—in exchange for casual dress days.

“Once the pantry was created, we handed it off to the students,” says Boster, who also serves as National Honor Society adviser and oversees the pantry project.

Byrnes acquired the larder responsibility and has helped it evolve from the small closet of a lecture hall into a spacious supply room with large tower shelves brimming with food as diverse as artichoke hearts, fruit snacks, and granola bars.

Byrnes has grown the one-person operation to having 70 volunteers on deck to assist when needed. She has presented before the Ralston Chamber of Commerce when soliciting for donations and has advocated and made Ralston High an official Food Bank of the Heartland donation site.

She describes the families who utilize the pantry as living break-even lifestyles, existing paycheck-to-paycheck, with little left over for simple luxuries such as lip balm or toilet paper. Students from such families experience a lot of stress and anxiety over where their next meal is coming from, she adds.

“I saw how education is extremely difficult to get, especially if there’s a need in the household,” Byrnes says. “Students come up to me in the halls and ask when the pantry is going to stock toothbrushes…toothbrushes…What they’re coming in for, it’s not just food they need, but basic items to survive and help their family.”

Food insecurity—which means that people lack access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle—can be invisible, she explains. “Not knowing if there will be dinner on Friday night or lunch on Saturday.”

The R-Pantry idea is a positive response to a really challenging situation: student hunger. It is not the ultimate solution, but it is a start.

“I have so much respect and admiration for these students who are asking for help to support their
families.”

Byrnes excels in calculus, biology, and creative writing. She serves on DECA, is a class officer, and participates in National Honors Society. She enjoys running, hiking, and playing with her two dogs—Sophia and Jack.

Byrnes credits her family for always influencing her to do what’s best and help those in need. Dad (Robert E. Byrnes) is a doctor. Mom (Mary Byrnes) is a mortgage banker. Brother (Kent Keller) is a police officer.

“Her empathy for people runs very deep,” her mother says.

However, the driven teen doesn’t always communicate well with mom and dad, jokes her mother: “She was never one to seek glory. We didn’t know how involved she had been in the pantry until she was recognized. When she made homecoming court, we didn’t know about it until people began congratulating us.”

Mom adds, “She moves through life as if this is just a job. Helping others is just what she does.”

Byrnes plans to attend a four-year university next year and major in biology. She’d like to someday become a cosmetic dentist or dermatologist.

Byrnes encourages other young people: “If you see something you could change or help out, don’t be afraid to jump in there. You could change someone’s life with your one small action.”

The R-Pantry at Ralston High School (8969 Park Drive), is open on Fridays after school until 4 p.m. To volunteer, contact the school at 402-331-7373.

This article was printed in the Winter 2016 edition of Family Guide, an Omaha Publications magazine.

Conner Rensch’s Extreme Weight Loss

October 13, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Conner Rensch gets recognized pretty much everywhere—at the salon where she works as a hairstylist, when she’s running errands around town, and even when she is out with friends for the evening.

It all started with a January 2014 “Half Their Size” People magazine cover. Since then, her YouTube video has gone viral; she’s appeared on television shows like Good Morning America, The Steve Harvey Show, and Inside Edition; she’s been the subject of articles in local publications and national websites; and she’s talked about her personal journey with numerous youth and community groups.

“I never set out to be someone people would recognize,” she says. “I set out to inspire and motivate.”

Over a period of two years beginning when she was 19, Rensch lost a total of 130 pounds from her peak weight of more than 270.

“As many weight loss shows as I watched, there was never really anyone I could relate to, in terms of growing up being bullied and being overweight your whole life and not ever knowing what it was like to be in shape and be healthy,” she says. 

Sharing her story meant including the honest details as well as posting the “before” pictures and unenhanced “after” pictures.

“Initially I hesitated because it’s very personal and it comes with a lot of baggage,” she says. “When you share your flaws or insecurities—and I am very public about the way I look now—there is always going to be backlash. Stretch marks are not something that people necessarily want to see or want to share, but the reality of life in general is that everyone has things that they’re embarrassed about.”

People come up to Rensch now and share their own transformation stories or thank her for inspiring them, she says. So knowing she has given people hope is worth the occasional strange Facebook message from admirers, the razzing from her friends, or even the negative online comments like “She doesn’t need to show that” or “Why is everyone giving her so much praise? It was a problem she created.” As Rensch phrases it, “It negates the negative.”

“I never set out to be someone people would recognize,” she says. “I set out to inspire and motivate.”

-Conner Rensch

“I always think back to when I was losing weight, I wish I would have had someone to look up to or be able to say, ‘She went through hard times and so can I’…I really wanted to be an example,” Rensch explains. “I would never not want someone to come up and tell me their story…It always comes back to why I did this. It’s not for the people who have been in shape their whole lives but for the people who are struggling.”

More than five years into being slim and fit, Rensch says her goals have transitioned from weight loss to staying healthy through good nutrition and an active lifestyle. She hasn’t weighed herself in many months.

Her professional goals have transitioned, too. Her website and her public speaking messaging has become more about transformation than specifically about weight loss. A book is in the works, and she is also looking into signing with an agency to expand her motivational speaking and schedule more corporate speaking engagements.

“If the publicity was all taken away, I’m still me and I’m the exact person I want to be, inside and out,” she says. “The benefit is that I’ve helped others. I’ve never felt a sense of happiness like helping others reach their potential. It’s so powerful.”

Visit mybutterflyjourney.com for more information.

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Cinnamon Apple Chips

Photography by Baldwin Publishing Inc.

Fall treats can be healthy. Try these delicious apple crisps for a sweet after-school snack made of fresh fruit. The kids will keep coming back for more.

Find more great recipes at HealthyKohlsKids.com. The Healthy Kohl’s Kids program is a partnership between Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Kohl’s Department Stores to educate children and parents about healthy nutrition and fitness. 

AppleChips14 large apples, such as Cortland

4 teaspoons cinnamon

preparation

Preheat oven to 200°. Line four baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a sharp knife or mandoline, cut apples into thin slices (if using a mandoline, cut the apple in half first, then start with the sliced part facedown on the mandoline). With a knife, remove the seeds. Arrange apple slices in a single layer on the baking sheets.

Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon over apples.

Bake the apples for one hour. Flip the apple slices and sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Bake for two hours, or until crisp. Store in airtight container.

Nutrition Facts: Serving Size: about 1/4 cup; Calories: 40; Fat: 0; Saturated Fat: 0; Cholesterol: 0; Sodium: 0; Carbohydrates: 10g; Fiber: 2g; Protein: 0. Yield: 6 servings 

FamilyGuide

Healthy Guacamole

Photography by Baldwin Publishing

Try this healthy guacamole instead of a dip filled with unhealthy fats. Creamy avocado, jalapeño, and a surprise touch of diced green apple will make this recipe a party favorite.

Find more great recipes at HealthyKohlsKids.com. The Healthy Kohl’s Kids program is a partnership between Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Kohl’s Department Stores to educate children and parents about healthy nutrition and fitness.

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, and mashed
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp green hot sauce
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Garnish with additional cilantro just before serving, if desired.

Nutrition Facts: Serving Size: about 1/4 cup; Calories: 136; Fat: 10g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0; Sodium: 81mg; Carbohydrates: 10g; Fiber: 5g; Protein: 2g

Yield: 8 servings

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Veggie Crisps

Photography by Baldwin Publishing

This article appears in Her Family August 2015.

Try these “chips” the next time the kids are looking for a salty snack. Great as an after-school nibble or for a party, these veggies are a healthy alternative to fried potato chips.

Find more great recipes at HealthyKohlsKids.com. The Healthy Kohl’s Kids program is a partnership between Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Kohl’s Department Stores to educate children and parents about healthy nutrition and fitness. 

ingredients

2 small parsnips, peeled

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small sweet potato, peeled

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper, optional

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with foil.

Clean the vegetables, removing dirt and any wax coatings. Peel, or leave the outer peel on for extra nutrition.

Use a vegetable peeler to scrape thin strips from the parsnips. Put these in a bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp of oil. Spread out in a single layer on one of the prepared baking sheets.

Repeat with the sweet potato, spreading them on the second baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the baking sheets. Bake for another 5 minutes and remove from the oven if crisp and browned at the edges. If the crisps are not browned, bake for an additional 4 to 5 minutes, checking every minute, as the crisps brown very quickly. (Parsnips cook more quickly than sweet potatoes.)

Transfer the crisps to a large bowl and season with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts: Calories: 65, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 0, Sodium: 162mg, Carbohydrates: 8g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 1g


Yield: 8 servings (1/4 cup, or about 10 crisps)

VeggieCrisps

Star-Spangled Fruit Salad

This article appeared in July 2015 Her Family.

Celebrate the Fourth of July with a healthy fruit salad. This festive, healthy dessert is perfect for Independence Day or any outdoor summer party.

Find more great recipes at HealthyKohlsKids.com. The Healthy Kohl’s Kids program is a partnership between Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and Kohl’s Department Stores to educate children and parents about healthy nutrition and fitness. 

ingredients

1 seedless watermelon, halved

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 pint fresh raspberries

1 quart fresh strawberries,
hulled and quartered

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

preparation

On a flat surface, with a sharp knife cut half the watermelon into large slices, about 1/2-inch thick.

With a metal star-shaped cookie
cutter, cut star shapes out of the
watermelon slices.

Cut remaining watermelon into
2-inch cubes.

In a large bowl, combine the
watermelon cubes, blueberries,
raspberries, and strawberries.
Toss gently.

Add the watermelon star slices and sprinkle with lemon juice.
Yield: 12 servings
Serving Size: Serving Size: 3/4 cup, Calories: 119, Fat: 0, Saturated Fat: 0, Cholesterol: 0, Sodium: 0, Carbohydrates: 29g, Fiber: 4g, Protein: 0

FruitSalad1

Sugar Low

February 18, 2015 by

Holly Martens struggle may sound all too common. After the birth of her children she experienced a variety of symptoms. She had low energy; she experienced moodiness and mood swings, felt generally crabby and could not lose weight around her mid-section. Martens knew her struggle was not unique, but also knew she had to do something about it.

“With both pregnancies, I gained so much weight and really had trouble with my mid-section. I finally figured out what to do about it and was so happy I made the decision to be healthier overall,” Martens says.

Martens, with the help of Vice Cross Fit gym, went on what she calls a sugar detox. Once she was educated about sugar and added sugars, she was shocked at how much of it she had been consuming.

“They really taught me how much sugar I was eating and what all that sugar was doing to be body. The sugar in our diet really has a bad affect on our bodies.”

Martens was in for even more of a shock. After 21 days, she was amazed at how different she felt. “I felt awesome. I was not so tired. I didn’t get headaches anymore. My skin cleared up and my stomach was much flatter.”

What was even more refreshing was that Martens never felt deprived. She says she truly felt she could maintain healthy or “clean” eating.

“I ate so much food, especially meat. I never did feel deprived. The cravings were not there,” Martens says.

It was that lack of deprivation that Martens felt was the key to her success. After the 21 day sugar detox, Martens continued to maintain sugar-free eating during the week and would indulge a little on weekends.

Shannon Muhs, a dietician with Hy-Vee, was able to shed some light on how our bodies react when we have too much sugar in our diet.

“When we eat more sugar, our bodies experience a brief high, followed by a sort of crash, which is why we feel more sluggish. Our bodies will also produce excess insulin, which will cause the body to want to eat more and eventually our bodies run out of places to store that excess sugar and it starts to store itself as fat,” Muhs says.

As Martens experienced, once sugar is eliminated it doesn’t take long for our bodies to recover. “Within a couple of days, you should have more sustained energy and a more balanced energy load. You should not experience as many highs and lows and should be craving less sweets,” she says.

Martens plans on maintaining her healthier lifestyle and even convinced her husband to join her on her journey, who after limiting sugar lost close to 40 pounds.

“We both feel so much better. It’s really amazing. I was never really big on diets, but this is something I don’t feel is necessarily a diet. It’s a lifestyle and I am very passionate about it.”

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Modern Love

December 3, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
If there’s any question about whether Omaha is ready for a new all-vegan restaurant, the first couple month’s of Modern Love’s dinner service seems like a definitive answer.

“We are packed nightly,” says co-owner Isa Chandra Moskowitz. “For the first month we were basically booked every night. So yes, apparently Omaha is receptive to vegan food. It’s awesome.”

The city has been buzzing about vegan food since Moskowitz announced last year she’d be opening a restaurant somewhere in the city—the biggest local news in vegan food since popular lunch spot Daily Grub closed in 2011.

Moskowitz, a Brooklyn native, co-creator of the Post-Punk Kitchen web series and website (with frequent collaborator Terry Hope Romero), and author of eight vegan cookbooks—her most recent, Isa Does It, was released in October 2013—relocated to Omaha a few years ago to be with her boyfriend. After consulting in Omaha’s dining scene, she engineered a meatless Monday menu at the Benson Brewery last year.

A venture of her own seemed inevitable.

“There isn’t a vegan restaurant here, or even really a vegetable-focused restaurant,” Moskowitz adds, “and it feels important to create something like that right in the middle of the country.”

Moskowitz leased the space on South 50th Street next to O’Leaver’s Pub in August 2013. She partnered with Krug Park owners Jim Johnson, Dustin Bushon, Marc Leibowitz, and Jonathan Tvrdik. She then brought on chef Michaela Maxwell, and started renovating.

“I’m still working on the décor,” Moskowitz said after her first month in operation. “I thought it would be better to start with simplicity and build on things when we saw how the restaurant actually looked and functioned once filled with people.”

And the name “Modern Love?”

“The plain truth behind the name was that I couldn’t decide on a name,” Moskowitz says. “As I drove to scout out a restaurant location a few years ago, the song “Modern Romance” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs came on. And I was like, ‘That’s a great name!’ But friends thought that was a bit much, and it became Modern Love.”

And with Modern Love’s menu of “swanky vegan comfort food,” it makes sense, Moskowitz says.

“It’s comfort food with a modern twist, made with love.”

Some of those modern takes on familiar fare include—for now, as the menu will change every few months—stuffed and fried zucchini blossoms with a zucchini slaw and grilled summer squashes; a modern nicoise salad with chickpea salad and devilled potatoes standing in for the traditional eggs alongside green beans, tomatoes, and olives; a marsala entrée that puts seitan (aka wheat gluten) at the forefront with a root vegetable mash, herbs, and greens; and desserts including pies and non-dairy ice creams.

“The Mac & Shews is far and away the most popular menu item,” Moskowitz said. “It’s our cashew-based mac and cheese sauce, pecan-crusted tofu, barbecue cauliflower and the most amazing sautéed garlicky kale and okra in the world in a tomato vinaigrette. Michaela did a really bang-up job
with that dish.”

For the first month, seating at the restaurant was by-reservation-only, Nice problem for a business owner to have. In order to encourage walk-ins, Moskowitz recently updated her online reservation system so the restaurant is only half-booked on any given day.

“I am not the type of person who’s going to give a speech to convince anyone that vegetables are delicious—which is good,” she says, “because people are just coming in and finding out for themselves.”

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Pla Too’s Thai Cuisine

September 18, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In a state covered in cattle and dominated by steakhouses, restaurants that serve quality fish may appear few and far between. But those who have eaten at Pla Too’s Thai know better.

Chinna Pat, the newest owner of the former Tas’s Thai Pepper, is working to change the face of Thai food in Omaha. With a nickname like Pla, (the Thai word for fish) there is no doubt that it’s her specialty, and she is serving it up fresh every day.

Originally from a small town north of Bangkok, Pla was taught how to cook authentic Thai from her mother. One of three children, she decided to come to the states in 2003 as a foreign exchange student in Shenandoah, Iowa.

A few years later she moved to Omaha to attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where she worked as a waitress in a Thai restaurant downtown to help pay for her school. With her degree in international business from UNO, she responded to a online post about needing help with visas.

The poster, Tassanai Kaitkaiwansiri and known as Ta, soon became one of Pla’s closest friends in the states. He had taken over the restaurant from its original owner and made it into Tas’s Thai Pepper before offering to sell it to Pla in 2013.

Now, one year later, Pla has made the former Pizza Hut building into a real Thai experience. The staff is small—just Pla and two of her cousins. One helps in the kitchen and the other works the dining floor.

“We are a family,” Pla says with a beaming smile, “and I treat all of my customers like friends and family. That’s what brings people back every day.”

Pla believes in not only great-tasting food, but also keeping things healthy. Any guest with dietary needs is tended to by Pla herself, who then prepares a meal tailored just for them. And for those nervous about trying Thai food, don’t believe all the stereotypes.

“Some people believe Thai food is all about spices,” Pla says. “If you went to Thailand and expected spice in your Pad Thai, they would laugh. We will prepare your food to your preference—spice or no spice.”

Along with fresh fish, the produce served is all from local farmers markets. It’s all about helping each other, Pla explains. Buying locally not only ensures fresh flavors, but it helps other business owners.

“Omaha is my second home,” Pla adds. “I’ve lived here for over ten years and I love it.”

Pla Too’s also does a brisk business in take-out and also offers catering services. A separate, more health-conscious menu is in the works to meet the demands of dining trends. And Pla hopes to one day have a food truck so she can reach other parts of town.

Thailand is known as “The Land of Smiles,” and Pla is determined to send every customer home with a satisfied grin.

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