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plate_easter_eggsThis month marks the beginning of spring, and what better way to usher in the season than with a few rise-and-shine brunch ideas to fuel your day? These quick and easy recipes are packed with protein, veggies, and healthy fats to help fill you up and keep you feeling satisfied.

Fresh Spinach & Goat Cheese Omelet
Serves 1
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. coconut oil
2 cups baby spinach, firmly packed
¼ cup diced sweet onion
½ cup frozen artichokes, thawed and roughly chopped
¼ cup goat cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Heat 1 tsp. coconut oil in a 9-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add spinach and stir, cooking 1 to 2 minutes until slightly wilted. Remove from pan and set aside. Heat remaining 1 tsp. oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and artichokes; sauté 2 minutes until slightly tender. Stir in eggs; let cook 1 minute to set. Gently lift edges to allow remaining liquid egg to cook. Cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, until omelet is firm. Flip immediately and spread all but 1 tsp. of goat cheese on top. Reduce heat to low, cover with wilted spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Fold omelet in half and remove from pan. Top with remaining goat cheese and season with salt and pepper before serving.

Savory Turkey Sausage Patties
Serves 3
1 lb. ground turkey
1 tsp. dried sage
½ tsp. fennel seeds
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. salt
Dash each of freshly ground black pepper, ground cayenne, ground allspice

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Shape mixture into twelve 3-inch patties; refrigerate at least 1 hour. Heat large skillet to medium-high heat. Add patties and cook for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Serve hot.

Very Veggie Egg Patties
Serves 3
1 large egg
1 zucchini, grated
1 red bell pepper, seeded and grated
½ onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp. coconut oil

Directions: In a medium bowl, whisk egg lightly. Add zucchini, bell pepper, onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat coconut oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Form three patties of the veggie-egg mixture and place in pan. Sauté about 3 minutes on each side (until lightly browned). Serve and enjoy.

Smoked Salmon Salad
Serves 1
One 4-ounce fillet smoked salmon
1 rib celery, chopped
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. drained capers
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Flake salmon into a medium bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill 20 minutes. Serve plain, with lettuce leaf wraps, or with salad greens.

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woman_kissing_dogThe question is one researchers from the University of Arizona hope to answer after an upcoming study, in which human participants will be paired with canine companions to determine the effects of the relationship on the bacterial population in the digestive tract.

Previous studies have linked dog ownership with better heart health and reduced stress, but anthropology doctoral student and study author Kim Kelly wants to delve more deeply into the story. The three-month study, a joint effort between the university and the Humane Society of Southern California, will examine whether or not living with a dog encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in the human gut and whether it is enough to provide substantial physical and mental health benefits.

Researchers are currently recruiting adults 50 or over who are in good health. They will provide each adult with a dog and measure the gut bacteria levels of both at the beginning and the end of the study (as well as at the one- and two-month marks) in order to determine whether or not the relationship has had a positive impact on the gut microflora of either party.

Interestingly, earlier studies have shown that the longer they live together, dog owners and their companions tend to share a lot of the same gut bacteria—in large part because of all those wet, slobbery kisses. Kelly and her team hope to understand more about the relationship and its potential benefits, such as improved digestion and immune function.

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