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Small Business Spotlight – Mexxi’s Restaurant and Catering

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Mexxi’s Restaurant and Catering is a vibrant staple in San Ramon. The owner, Enrique Gomez, has been serving up fresh and authentic Mexican food in the same location for 22 years. Enrique was practically born into the restaurant business, his family owns a couple of restaurants on the Peninsula and he loved it so much that went to culinary school. He wanted to open a restaurant of his own, keeping it a family affair, and opened up Mexxi’s with his cousin 22 years ago. Now he and his brother own and operate the restaurant and catering company.

Serving up the authentic, fresh Mexican food is something that makes Mexxi’s unique. Enrique sources a lot of his ingredients locally, providing fresh ingredients to make his food full of flavor. Everything they prepare is made from scratch because they truly care about the food they serve. Enrique enjoys creating dishes that aren’t common in Mexican restaurants like the Filete de Pescado a la Veracruzana, a seafood dish that was created with Lent in mind. Almost every item on the menu has a cult following, some of the most popular items are the fish tacos, grilled chicken burritos and the tamales.

Being a part of the community is very important to Enrique; he knows many of his diners. It’s a family operation  and you always feel like family when you dine at Mexxi’s. You can also bring Mexxi’s home or to work with you because they specialize in catering large corporate and private events.

Enrique brought his business accounts to Fremont Bank about nine years ago. The branch manager was a patron of the restaurant and one day he asked Enrique who he banks with. Enrique decided to not only shop locally, but bank locally too. He said “the service we get from the bank, it’s awesome, it’s like having a personal banker. After I switched, it was like why didn’t I do this before?” It’s a decision he hasn’t regretted.

What’s next for Mexxi’s? Another location in a nearby city to bring their signature authentic, fresh Mexican food to more people, which sounds like a delicious idea to us.

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Health

New Model for Estimating Healthcare Costs

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When we ask employees about their financial security, they tell us their number one stressor is not saving enough for retirement. After that, they worry about the economy and after that, their personal health. But when we ask them what defines a good lifestyle once they stop working and what is the most important factor affecting financial security in retirement, they place health at the top of both lists. Meanwhile, as another survey has found, retirees are feeling less confident that they will be able to afford medical care and long-term care.

It’s hard to know how much savings will be needed to cover healthcare expenses in retirement. The conventional approach of estimating a lifetime total cost for healthcare expenses in retirement and targeting savings to cover that amount clearly does not work for everyone, as most people have difficulty saving for retirement at all. We believe that a different approach to planning for healthcare costs may work better for most employees and retirees.

In collaboration with Vanguard, we have developed a new framework that helps pre-retirees and retirees better understand the financial planning implications of annual health care costs and long-term care expenses. Instead of a “big scary number” for the lifetime total cost, this framework considers healthcare costs (other than for long-term care) as annual expenses personalized to an individual’s health status, coverage choices, retirement age, and presence of any employer subsidies. Additionally, the framework allows pre-retirees to compare their healthcare costs in retirement to their cost while working, with the key point being that retiree healthcare costs can be viewed as the incremental cost over what they currently pay. Once an individual understands their costs, they may need to save at higher rates to account for potential future incremental health care spending. Workers with generous employer health care benefits that may not be offered in retirement and those at higher risk of chronic conditions because of their family history or current health status should target higher replacement ratios. Long-term care costs represent a separate planning challenge given the wide distribution of potential outcomes. Half of individuals will incur no long-term care costs—but there is a small but meaningful risk that costly care will be required for multiple years.

The model we have developed with Vanguard takes a fresh look at existing industry data, complements it with new findings, and builds a forecast that more clearly identifies variations in the estimated annual healthcare costs expected in retirement. We think this flexible, actionable approach to framing healthcare cost can lead to better planning and better outcomes for retirees.

Given how important this issue is to employees, consider helping your pre-retirees better understand how their healthcare costs will change in retirement and actions they can take now to save for those costs appropriately (for example, in a 401(k) plan or health savings account).  A particular concern for many employees is being able to retire before age 65 and becoming eligible for Medicare. A good financial wellness program should stress that access to affordable, comprehensive retiree coverage to bridge from the active plan to Medicare is a critical issue in retirement planning.

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Education Funding Partners Honored by B Lab as Both Best For Customers and Best For Governance

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Education Funding Partners was recognized today as a company creating the most positive overall impact on its customers and for creating powerful governance structures to protect its company mission based on an independent, comprehensive assessment administered by the nonprofit B Lab. Honorees are featured on B the Change, the digital Medium publication produced by B Lab, at bthechange.com/bestfortheworld.

Education Funding Partners is honored in both the Best For Customers list and Best for Governance list, which include businesses that earned a score in the top 10 percent of each of those categories out of the more than 2,400 Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment. The full assessment measures a company’s impact on its workers, community, customers and environment. To certify as B Corporations, companies like Education Funding Partners must complete the full assessment and have their answers verified by B Lab.

The Customer portion of the B Impact Assessment measures the impact a company has on its customers by focusing on whether a company sells products or services that promote public benefit and if those products/services are targeted toward serving underserved populations. The section also measures whether a company’s product or service is designed to solve a social or environmental issue (e.g. improving health, preserving environment, creating economic opportunity for individuals or communities, promoting the arts/sciences, or increasing the flow of capital to purpose-driven enterprises).

The Governance portion of the B Impact Assessment evaluates a company’s overall mission, ethics, accountability and transparency. It measures whether the company has adopted a social or environmental mission, and how it engages its employees, board members and the community to achieve that mission. This section assesses employee access to financial information, customers’ opportunities to provide feedback, and the diversity of the company’s governing bodies. Honorees scoring in the top 10 percent set a gold standard for the high impact that business as a force for good can make around the world.

The 221 Best For Customers companies come from 69 different industries and 32 countries. Additional 2018 Best For Customers honorees include: AltSchoolSunrise Banks and Wetherby Asset Management. The 233 Best For Governance companies come from 77 different industries and 16 countries. Additional 2018 Best For Governance honorees include: Bridges Fund Management; Assurity Life Insurance Company; Firespring; and Facilities Management Services. B Lab simultaneously released separate lists recognizing B Corporations as Best For The World Overall, Best For Environment, Best For Community, and Best For Workers, which can be found at bthechange.com/bestfortheworld. In the fall, B Lab will release the Best For The World: Changemakers and the Best For The World Funds lists.

“EFP is proud to be recognized by B Lab in 2018 as a ‘Best for the World’ company for the sixth year in a row,” said Tom Weeks, CEO of EFP.  “Our team is inspired by the B Corp community and our shared mission to use the power of business to support a social good. This honor reinforces that our commitment to public education and focus on our stakeholders — public school districts, corporations, and the communities they impact — is both good for business and good for society.”

“With the rise of anger at a system that feels rigged, people are hungry for companies like Education Funding Partners, who are changing the system by building businesses that seek to create the greatest positive impact,” said Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab. “Best For The World is the only list of businesses that uses comprehensive, comparable, third-party-validated data about a company’s social and environmental performance. As consumers, talent and investors increasingly demand transparent, values-aligned businesses to buy from, work at and invest in, companies will need to not just the best in the world but the best for the world.”

Today, there are more than 2,400 Certified B Corporations across more than 150 industries and 50 countries, unified by one common goal: to redefine success in business. Any company can measure and manage social and environmental performance at http://bimpactassessment.net.

About Education Funding Partners

Education Funding Partners (EFP) is a trusted, simple, and effective digital advertising solution for school districts, education-focused organizations and consumer brands. Leading Fortune 500 companies engage with millions of parents and educators through a new, scalable and brand-safe advertising media vehicle, while districts and education organizations impacted by the ongoing budget crisis gain sustainable funding solutions. Through EFP adNet, the nation’s largest education-based digital ad publishing network built by EFP, brands and agencies reach moms and parents of school-aged children while also investing their media dollars back into the K-12 community. EFP (www.edufundingpartners.com) is a certified B Corporation, a for-profit company, guided by comprehensive social performance standards. EFP has been Awarded ‘Best for the World’ by B Lab for the past six years and was named one of ‘Five Bright Ideas for Education’ by Harvard Business School. EFP is a division of ©2018 Abundant Venture Partners, LLC (www.abundantventurepartners.com).

CONTACT: Nancy Kerbs, Education Funding Partners – (508) 333-3488 or nkerbs@edufundingpartners.com

About B Lab

B Lab is a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good.  Its vision is that one day all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world and society will enjoy prosperity for all for the long term.

B Lab drives this systemic change by: 1) building a community of Certified B Corporations to make it easier for all of us to tell the difference between “good companies” and good marketing; 2) passing benefit corporation legislation to give business leaders the freedom to create value for society as well as shareholders; 3) helping businesses measure, compare and improve their social and environmental performance with the free B Impact Assessment; 4) driving capital to impact investments through use of its B Analytics and GIIRS Ratings platform. For more information,

 

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Sick of the Mediterranean Diet? Consider the Nordic Diet

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Here’s what to know about the Nordic diet.

You may have noticed there’s a new diet creating a lot of noise in the health and wellness scene.

It’s the Nordic diet, and some nutritionists think it may be one of the healthiest ways to eat.

The diet was constructed when health experts set out to find why, exactly, Northern Europe had lower obesity rates than the United States. The Nordic diet was developed based on the traditional cuisine found in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

How does it stack up against the Mediterranean diet?

The Nordic diet is quite similar to the well-known Mediterranean diet. Both include plenty of freshwater fish, root veggies, fruit, and whole grains — such as oats and barley — and limit the consumption of red meat, dairy, sugars, and processed foods.
The main difference is in the oily fats. While the Mediterranean diet suggests olive oil, the Nordic diet opts for rapeseed oil, aka canola oil. Both oils promote a healthy heart by boosting good cholesterol (HDL) and trimming away bad cholesterol (LDL).

“Both are plant-based oils with high amounts of omega-3. Since canola oil has less saturated fat than olive oil, it is considered healthier, however, both have a different recommended use in the kitchen,” Dr. Nancy P. Rahnama, a bariatric physician based in Los Angeles, told Healthline.
>For example, olive oil, which is higher in antioxidants, is more flavorful and is typically used for salads and toppings whereas canola oil can withstand more heat, so can be used when cooking and baking at higher temperatures.

The long list of health benefits

One of the main reasons dietitians have been so fond of the Nordic diet is because of all the research-backed health benefits it’s been linked to.

The World Health Organization (WHO) found that both the Mediterranean and Nordic diets reduce the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Other studies have revealed that the Nordic diet can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels, normalize cholesterol levels, and help people lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

Additionally, because the diet is quite similar to anti-inflammatory diets — which traditionally consist of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats — it’s been shown to reduce inflammation in fatty tissues and, consequently, obesity-related health risks.

It may even help women who are trying to get pregnant.

“This lifestyle falls in line with the recommendations I give my clients when [they’re] trying to conceive,” Lauren Manaker, a registered dietitian and owner of Nutrition Now Counseling, said. “A diet that is low in processed foods and refined carbohydrates, along with eating mostly plant-based and seafood-based proteins along with high consumption of fruits and vegetables, is correlated with increased chances of pregnancy.”

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It’s good for planet Earth, too

Additionally, the Nordic diet is environmentally sustainable, as it focuses on the consumption of fresh, local ingredients. As a result, fewer greenhouse gases are emitted.

“Plant-based diets create less pollution because they use fewer natural resources than meat-heavy diets,” fitness expert Lauren Cadillac, a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer, said. “We can also reduce energy consumption and food waste by eating locally-produced food.”

“A large reason I like this diet is that it takes the focus off of calories and puts it on quality food,” Cadillac added.

A well-balanced, affordable option

While the Mediterranean diet has been more heavily researched, growing interest in the Nordic diet has already found that the diet is just as healthy, if not more.

Not to mention, because the Nordic diet focuses on consuming what’s in season, it doesn’t break the bank. Seasonal produce tends to be a bit cheaper, as it’s more widely available.

So, if you’re looking to do some good for your body, the Nordic diet may be well worth a try. It’s packed with a ton of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to survive and thrive.

  1. What causes alcohol addiction? Study investigates

 

Is a faulty signaling mechanism in the brain area that processes emotion the reason that only a minority of those who drink alcohol become addicted to it?

Researchers in Sweden and the United States suggest that this might be the case after studying alcohol addiction in rats.

They found that the rats that became addicted had an impaired brain mechanism similar to that seen in postmortem brain tissue from humans who were addicted to alcohol.

The faulty mechanism is a failure to clear away a substance known as gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) that inhibits signaling around neurons, or brain cells, in the central amygdala.

The amygdala is a region of the brain concerned with emotion, learning, memory, and motivation.

The scientists report their findings in a paper now published in the journal Science.

Disrupted ‘motivational control’

The authors explain that, of people who are exposed to alcohol, around 10–15 percent “develop alcohol-related problems.”

In their study, they found that a similar proportion (15 percent) of the rats that were exposed to alcohol persisted with alcohol-seeking and became addicted.

The rats continued to dose themselves with alcohol even when a “high-value” option, such as sugared water, was made available to them.

Most of the rats switched over to sugared water when given the option, but the persistent minority continued to dose themselves with alcohol. This was in spite of the fact that pressing the lever to get the substance also delivered a slight electric shock to the paw.

The team observed that the alcohol-seeking animals behaved in a similar way to humans who are addicted to alcohol. The rodents were highly motivated to get alcohol, even though there were negative consequences and another reward option.

“We have to understand,” explains senior study author Markus Heilig, who is a professor in clinical and experimental medicine at Linköping University in Sweden, “that a core feature of addiction is that you know it is going to harm you, potentially even kill you, and nevertheless something has gone wrong with the motivational control and you keep doing it.”

Signaling problem in the amygdala

When the researchers looked inside the rats’ brains, they discovered what might be disrupting the “motivational control.” First, they looked for differences in gene expression in different parts of the brain. The biggest differences were in the amygdala.

They revealed that the gene that codes for a protein called GAT-3 was expressed at much lower levels in the amygdala of the rats that continued to choose alcohol compared with the rats that switched to sugared water.

GAT-3 is a “transporter” protein that helps to clear away GABA from around neurons. Studies have also revealed that rats that become addicted to alcohol seem to have altered GABA signaling.

To confirm that the GAT-3 gene was at fault, the scientists ran another experiment in which they silenced GAT-3 in the rats that had switched over to sugared water in preference to alcohol.

The effect was striking: the GAT-3 silenced rats began to behave similarly to their alcohol-seeking counterparts. When they were again given a choice between dosing themselves with alcohol or sugared water, they chose alcohol.

Human alcoholism has same brain feature

Finally, in collaboration with a team from the University of Texas at Austin, the researchers analyzed GAT-3 levels in human postmortem brain tissue. They found that GAT-3 levels were lower in tissue taken from individuals with “documented alcohol addiction.”

The scientists believe that the findings will lead to improved treatments for alcohol dependence.

An investigation into the potential of using the muscular tension drug baclofen to treat alcohol dependence has shown some promising results but has not been able to explain what the mechanism of action might be.

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