Sunday, June 30, 2013

Other Calcium Sources for Dairy Haters

Dried Figs

A serving of 10 dried figs provides 269 milligrams of calcium—about 20 percent of the daily recommended amount.


Beans are an all-around anti-aging superfood—they’re a great plant-based source of protein and rich in cholesterol-lowering fiber, for starters. They’re also good sources of calcium: For example, a one-cup serving of boiled white beans has 161 milligrams.

Nuts and Seeds

Need another reason to go nuts for nuts? Healthy amounts of calcium can also be found in Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, filberts, sesame seeds, tahini, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. A good idea: Keep a canister of your favorite seeds on the counter and add as a topping to cereals, vegetable side dishes, salads, and soups.

Green Veggies

Yes, there is calcium in some vegetables, and your body can absorb it even better than it can from milk. The levels aren’t quite as high as in dairy foods, though: You’d have to eat 1 ½ cups of cooked kale, 2 ¼ cups of cooked broccoli, or 8 cups of cooked spinach to equal the calcium in a glass of fat-free milk. For a daily quota of 1,200 milligrams of calcium, you’d need to eat 6 cups of kale, 9 cups of broccoli, or 32 cups of cooked spinach—not exactly feasible. Think of calcium-rich veggies as a nice add-on to help you reach your goal while providing a variety of minerals and vitamins that work with calcium to keep bones strong.


Tofu made with calcium sulfate (check for it on the ingredient list) supplies a respectable 204 milligrams of calcium in a half-cup serving.

Fortifed OJ or Soy Milk

Some contain as much calcium as a glass of fat-free milk, but be sure to read the label so you know how much you’re getting. Tip: Shake soy milk well before pouring; the calcium added to it can settle to the bottom.


It takes a creative cook to figure out how to get more rhubarb into your diet, but it’s worth it. One cup of cooked rhubarb has 348 milligrams of calcium, making it one of nature’s top plant sources of the mineral. (Women under age 50 and men under age 70 should aim for 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily; women 50 and older and men 70 and older should strive for 1,200.) Only the stalks of a rhubarb plant are edible and they are quite tart, which is why rhubarb is primarily paired with sweet fruits in breads, cakes, pies, and ice cream.

Natural Fat Burners: Vitamin C-Rich Foods

In addition to fighting colds, vitamin C helps create collagen (and plays a role in healthy skin), may protect the heart, and helps destroy free radicals associated with certain cancers. But the new research on vitamin C as a fat burner is so promising that we named it one of 13 fat releasing foods.

Most Americans consume too little vitamin C, and one study showed that adults deficient or depleted of vitamin C may be more resistant to losing fat. Conversely, people who had adequate vitamin C levels burned 30 percent more fat during a bout of exercise than those low in C! Munching on more of the following fruits and veggies can help you meet the daily recommended intake, which is 75 milligrams for women and 90 for men.


Vitamin C level: 79 mg
Serving: 1 cup

Brussels Sprouts

Vitamin C level: 75 mg
Serving: 1 cup raw


Vitamin C level: 72 mg
Serving: 1 fruit


Vitamin C level: 188 mg
Serving: 1 fruit

Bell Peppers

Vitamin C level: 117 mg
Serving: 1 cup raw


Vitamin C level: 85 mg
Serving: 1 cup


Vitamin C level: 81 mg
Serving: 1 cup raw

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Creative Fruit Smoothie Recipes

Strawberry-Yogurt Smoothie

When summer arrives and strawberries are in season, the perfect way to enjoy them is in a healthy fruit smoothie. Whirl up the berries with yogurt for a creamy, refreshing snack or quick breakfast. Orange juice adds a sweet tang.

Serving: 4
Preparation Time: 15 mins

1 quart (4 cups) ripe strawberries
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon sugar
4 thin orange slices (optional)

1. Hull all but 4 of the strawberries. Add the hulled strawberries to a food processor or blender. Add the yogurt, orange juice, and sugar. Process on the highest speed until a well-blended puree forms, about 15 seconds, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container once or twice. Taste the mixture and sweeten with more sugar, if you wish.

2. Pour into tall glasses. Slit the 4 whole strawberries and the orange slices halfway through to the centers. Attach 1 strawberry and 1 orange slice, if using, to the rim of each glass before serving.

Secret Ingredient Mango Smoothie

Smoothies have become a great way to get extra fruits into our diets. This one uses avocado, which, aside from the great nutritional benefits, lends a rich and creamy mouth feel.

Serving: 1
Preparation Time: 15 mins

1 cup chopped ripe mango
1/4 Haas avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1/2 cup mango sorbet
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons honey2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 cup crushed ice
2 mango slices, 1/2-inch thick
1 lime slice

1. In a blender, combine the chopped mango, avocado, sorbet, milk, honey, lime juice, and ice. Blend on high until smooth.

2. Pour into a tall glass. Slit the sliced mango and the sliced lime halfway through to the centers. Attach them to the rim of the glass before serving.

Viola! Enjoy!

For Kids: Adorable Lunches

Lions & Tigers & Bears, OH MY!

• ZOO shaped sandwich with bento lion & giraffe picks
• Pretzel snaps
• Tiger animal crackers
• Red-seedless grapes with a elephant bento pick
 Carrot sticks
• Black olives with a monkey & panda bento pick

Lunch with an Octopus

• Sun chips
• Octopus sandwich with icing eye & sprinkles for the mouth
• Cheese cubes with starfish pick
• Blue m&m's
• Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
• Cucumber slices with an octopus pick

Valentine's Day Lunch

- Chocolate covered heart shaped pretzels
Strawberries cut in the shape of heart in a pink Wilton Silicone Heart Baking Cup
- Heart shaped cucumbers & carrot sticks in a red Wilton Silicone Heart Baking Cup
- Heart shaped Marshmallows by Kraft with a heart cupcake pick
- Pretzels
- A sandwich in the shape of lips covered with pink cupcake sprinkles

What is Your Food Personality?

Vegetable lovers

Like: Bitter flavors and are more likely to try new things.
Habits: Veggie lovers would take a glass of red wine over dessert.
Interesting qualities: These people like to entertain and try new things. They are more likely to have dinner parties and cook nutritious meals.

Fruit lovers

Like: Sweeter foods.
Habits: They are more likely to take a look at the dessert menu.
Interesting qualities: Fruit types tend to eat foods that take less time to prepare. They could actually have more sensitive taste receptors that make them detect a stronger bitterness in broccoli. (Our guess is the scientist that discovered this just didn't want to eat his vegetables.)

Either of these preferences is healthy overall since vegetables and fruits contain many of the same vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium and folate. However, cruciferous vegetables from the cabbage and broccoli family contain anti-cancer compounds that both types need. Sorry, friends of fruit, you have to eat your vegetables too! Here are some tips.

Food preparation tips for fruit types:

Fat will make bitter foods taste less bitter.Sauté with olive oil over steaming.A touch of sweet, salty, or sour can go a long way. Try maple syrup, soy sauce, or flavored vinegar. Try fruit or sorbet for dessert and skip the fattening options.

Food preparation tips for vegetable types:

Try more bitter fruits such as grapefruit in salads.Eat berries which are low in sugar and pair well with yogurt. Keep having a glass of wine for dessert. You’re getting your resveratrol which is great for your health. Also, be sure to frequently remind people that tomato is technically a fruit!

Must Try Beer Brands

St. Bernardus Abt. 12

Brand from: St. Bernard Brouwerij in Watou, Belgium
Beer category: Belgian Style Ales
Beer type: Abt/Quadrupel
Alcohol content: 10.5%
Abt, or quadrupel, is the name given to ultra-strong Trappist and abbey ales. Alcohol is very high commonly for both. This brew is the highest in alcohol content, 10.5%, so St. Patrick's day imbibers beware. Most wines are between 13-15%. This is a dark, fruity and smooth beer.

Bass Pale Ale

Brand from: Samlesbury in Preston, England
Beer category: Anglo American-Ale
Beer type: Premium Bitter ESB (extra special bitter)
Alcohol content: 5%
One can find many bitter beers in English breweries. Premium Bitters are stronger in alcohol—above 4.8%. Bass is a classic example of this variety. Bass is amber with a toasty flavor and light enough to sip all evening (responsibly).

Stella Artois

Brand from: InBev Belgium in Leuven, Belgium
Beer category: Lagers
Beer type: Pale Lager
Alcohol content: 5.2%
Pale Lagers are probably one of the best known types of beer, including the drinkable but predictable Budweisers, Heinekens, and Coronas. Stella Artois has a nice yeasty aroma and a clean flavor; get it from a freshly tapped keg for the best taste.


Brand from: Brasserie dOrval inFlorenville - Villers-d.-Orval, Belgium
Beer category: Belgian Style Ales
Beer type: Belgian Ale
Alcohol content: 6.2%
Beers that qualify as this style rarely fit neatly into beer categories. Color can range as can acidity, malt levels, hoppiness and yeastiness. Though the alcohol is generally under 7%. Orval, unlike other Trappist breweries, only makes one ale available to the public. Between the first and second fermentation the beer also undergoes additional dry-hopping process resulting in a extra-dry, hoppy beer.

Homemade Candy Recipes

Homemade Marshmallows Recipe

An electric stand mixer makes these homemade marshmallows easy to whip up and fun for the kids to help, with supervision. They cost less than the commercial ones, and the taste is unbeatable.

3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup

1. Line a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan with wax paper. In a small sieve, combine 1 tablespoon of the confectioners sugar and 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch, and sift the mixture over the prepared pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the gelatin and water; let stand until the gelatin has softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Place the bowl in a large saucepan or deep skillet of simmering water. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Add the granulated sugar and continue to stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the bowl from the water and add the corn syrup. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture until it is creamy and thick, 10 to 15 minutes. Let the mixture stand until it is cool.

4. Using a wet spatula, spread the mixture in the prepared pan, smoothing the top evenly. Let the mixture sit until it is cool and set, about 20 minutes.

5. Carefully lift the marshmallow mixture onto a cutting board. Following Step 1, lightly dust the marshmallow with 1 tablespoon of the remaining confectioners sugar and cornstarch. Using a sharp knife, cut the marshmallow into small squares. In a cup, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon of confectioners sugar and the cornstarch. Dip each marshmallow into the mixture until it is completely coated. Store the marshmallows in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for 1 to 2 weeks.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups

Homemade peanut butter cups are surprisingly easy to make, with just four ingredients and no special equipment.
Servings: 12

1 milk or dark chocolate candy bar (7 ounces), broken into pieces
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon shortening
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1. Line the cups in a miniature muffin pan with paper or foil baking cups.

2. In a heavy saucepan over low heat or in a microwave-safe bowl following the manufacturers directions, combine the chocolate, butter, and shortening. Stir until the mixture is smooth.

3. In a second heavy saucepan over low heat or in a microwave-safe bowl following the manufacturers directions, heat the peanut butter until it has melted.

4. Pour 1 tablespoon of the chocolate into each of the prepared cups. Drop 1 tablespoon of peanut butter onto the chocolate in each cup. Pour the remaining chocolate, divided equally, into the cups, covering the peanut butter.

5. Place the muffin pan in the refrigerator until the cups are set, about 30 minutes. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Homemade Caramels Recipe

Chewy, gooey, and irresistible, these five-ingredient candies make great treats as birthday favors or Christmas food gifts.

Makes 64 caramels

1 cup sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup butter or margarine
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil and grease the foil with butter; set aside.

2. In a 3-quart saucepan over moderate heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and butter or margarine. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly; reduce the heat slightly and boil slowly for 4 minutes without stirring.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the condensed milk. Return the saucepan to the heat, reducing the heat to moderately low. Cook the mixture until a candy thermometer reads 238°F (soft-ball stage), stirring constantly. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in vanilla.

4. Pour the candy into the prepared pan and let stand until the caramels are cool. Remove the caramels from the pan and cut them into 1-inch squares. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or plastic wrap, twisting the ends to seal.

Viola! Enjoy!

Homemade Ketchup Recipe

4 quarts (about 24) ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 -1/2 teaspoons celery seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon whole allspice
1 stick cinnamon
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 – 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 tablespoon paprika

1. In a large, nonreactive saucepan or Dutch oven over moderate heat, combine the tomatoes, onion, and red bell pepper, and cook until the vegetables are soft. Using a food mill or a sieve, press the vegetables through to make a puree. Return the vegetable puree to the saucepan.

2. Over high heat, cook the vegetable puree rapidly until it is thick and the volume is reduced by about half, about 1 hour.

3. Cut a 4-inch square of cheesecloth. Place the celery seed, mustard seed, allspice, and cinnamon stick in the center, gather up the corners to form a bag, and secure with kitchen string. Add the spice bag, brown sugar, and salt to the tomato mixture. Over low heat, cook the mixture gently for 25 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Stir in the cider vinegar and paprika. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick.

5. Spoon the ketchup into 3 hot, sterilized pint jars, leaving a 1/8-inch space between the top of the ketchup and the rim of the jar. Wipe the rims, cover, and process for 10 minutes in boiling water. Cool and test for airtight seals. Label, date, and store in a cool, dark place for up to one year; the ketchup will be ready to eat in 1 week. Once a jar has been opened, store the ketchup in the refrigerator. Makes 3 pints.

Viola! Enjoy!

Homemade Mustard Recipe

1/3 cup mustard seed
3 tablespoons dry mustard
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark beer
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1. In a small bowl, combine the mustard seed, dry mustard, and cider vinegar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mustard mixture stand at room temperature for 3 hours.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the dark beer, garlic, brown sugar, salt, ginger, and allspice. Stir in the mustard mixture. Over moderate heat, bring the mixture to a boil; reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Spoon the mustard into a hot, clean canning jar and seal tightly. Let the mustard cool to room temperature. Store in a cool, dark place and in the refrigerator after opening. Makes about 2 cups.

Homemade Cocktail Sauce Recipe

1 cup Ketchup (above) or bottled chili sauce
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce

1. In a small, nonreactive bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir until well blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

2. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Makes about 1 cup.

Viola! Enjoy!

Homemade Mayonnaise Recipe

4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil (or a combination of vegetable and olive oils)
Pinch ground white pepper

1. In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the egg yolks, water, and vinegar, and whirl just until the ingredients are combined.With the motor running, drizzle in the oil very slowly; if the oil is added too quickly, it will become a liquid dressing.

3. Transfer the egg mixture to the top of a double boiler and cook until a thermometer placed in the sauce registers 160°F. Stir in the white pepper. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Makes 2-1/3 cups.

Viola! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Your Body is Telling You About Headache and Weight Loss

What's causing your headaches?

Losing weight can be such a pain in the...head. According to a National Headache Foundation study, diet-related issues play a role in a whopping 30 percent of all migraines (and can affect less severe types of headaches too). From bouts of low blood sugar to caffeine withdrawal, the many subtle diet tweaks we make while trying to slim down can bring on a throbbin' noggin. Here's why dieting makes your head ache, and how to ease the pain.

You're hungry.

Caloric restriction can cause hunger headaches.

Tip: Don't let yourself go too long without eating or let yourself feel too hungry. It's a good idea to eat at least every four hours. Try light snacks between meals, such as PB and crackers or a handful of carrots and some almonds. Or try one of these favorites—they're each under 150 calories and contain filling protein and fiber to stave off hunger pangs.

You're thirsty.

Dehydration is a common headache trigger. Experts don't know exactly why, but suspect it may have to do with narrowing of blood vessels in the brain, which also reduces the brain's supply of blood and oxygen. Not getting enough electrolytes may also contribute to dehydration headaches.

Besides causing headaches, being dehydrated can actually undermine your weight-loss efforts. Research shows it's easy to confuse hunger for thirst, which can lead to overeating.

Tip: By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already a little dehydrated. Guzzle water or tea often. Have a glass of water with every meal and between meals.

You switched to artificial sweeteners.

According to a study at the University of Washington, Seattle, some people may be particularly sensitive to aspartame, which can lead to headaches. Aspartame might be in diet drinks as well as foods.

Tip: If you suspect artificial sweeteners may be triggering your headaches, keep a food journal to watch for patterns. Consider using honey in your tea or coffee; as a bonus, research shows it has fat releasing properties and is healthier than sugar.

You've cut back on caffeine, like in coffee and soda.

If you've ditched the soda or coffee as part of your slim-down plan, you may be going through caffeine withdrawal.  According to CNN Health, experts estimate that about half of people who cut back on caffeine experience headaches and other unpleasant symptoms.

Tip: Don't cut caffeine cold turkey. Instead, try gradually decreasing your caffeine intake. Remember, caffeine isn't a diet devil, but it's often consumed as part of sugary sodas or coffee drinks loaded with extra calories from sugar and milk. For most, it's fine to consume one cup of a caffeine drink daily while you're dieting, but use skim milk and avoid calorie bombs like flavored syrups and whipped cream.

You're stressed.

Not only can stress trigger eating binges or make it hard to stick to a diet, but it can also bring on headaches. When you're under the gun, your body releases a flurry of chemicals like adrenalin or cortisol in response to the stress. In addition to giving you the instant energy you need to fight stress, these chemicals also make the blood vessels in your brain contract, which can result in headaches.

Tip: Nip a stress attack with a mind-clearing stroll around the block; step away from the situation to take a few cleansing breaths; or do something relaxing for yourself (take a nap, get a manicure, call your best friend to vent). And try not to let weight loss be a source of your stress: Some dieters get so anxious about every single ounce instead of patting themselves on the back for small accomplishments. Over the long haul, the scale will dip in the right direction... down!

Best Stress Soothers by Nature

Dark Chocolate


To keep stress in check, add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. These essential fats may help moderate stress hormones and protect against depression. You could pop a fish oil supplement, but the most delicious way to get them is through food. For a steady supply of feel-good omega-3s, aim to eat three ounces of fatty fish at least twice a week or a handful of walnuts every day.

Dark Chocolate

Research points to stress-relieving properties of dark chocolate that go beyond the taste buds. In a large German study, those who ate the most dark chocolate over ten years had lower blood pressure than those who ate the least. Another study showed a reduction in a stress hormone in people who ate dark chocolate often. Alas, dark chocolate still has “not-so-good-for-you fat, sugar, and calories,” registered dietitian Kathleen M. Zelman reminds us, so stick to a few small squares a day.

Black Tea

Research from London suggests that drinking black tea may help you recover from nerve-racking events more quickly. Study participants who drank four cups of black tea every day for six weeks had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reported feeling more relaxed after stressful tasks than those who didn’t drink the tea. Other studies have touted black tea’s mood-boosting effects and suggested it can help increase alertness throughout the day.


The flesh of these delicious green fruits is loaded with two powerful stress fighters: potassium and monounsaturated fatty acids. Both nutrients can lower blood pressure, and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) may play a part in helping ward off depression. In a large 11-year study, the more MUFAs Spanish participants ate, the less likely they were to be depressed. Researchers think the fats may improve how the brain absorbs the mood-boosting neurotransmitter serotonin. Sources: WebMd, More, Redbook

Monday, June 24, 2013

Boost Your Work with these Ways

6 a.m.: Waking Up

Tried and true: Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than you actually need to wake up, so you can rise gradually and mentally prepare for the day ahead.

Expert tip: Go to sleep with your blinds at least halfway open: When the sun flows in, your brain will slow its melatonin production and start generating adrenaline, so you'll be half-awake by the time your alarm goes off.

7 a.m.: Before Your Commute

Tried and true: Have a small breakfast to kick-start your metabolism.

Expert tip: Even something as simple as string cheese with an apple and roasted nuts will help you stay energized—protein and calcium are key.

8 a.m.: On the Way In

Tried and true: Living close to the office might help perk you up. Researchers say commuting contributes to stress, exhaustion, and days missed from work.

Expert tip: If the commute's unavoidable, simple mental exercises can help cut through the tension: You can meditate whether you're sitting or standing on a bus or train, and you can take advantage of pauses while driving by practicing mindfulness.

9 a.m.: Take a moment to get organized

Tried and true: A cluttered desk can cause stress, but it's not exactly easy to find the time to clean one up. The early morning, before tasks pile up and meetings come together, actually makes a great time to do so.

Expert tip: Before you launch into your inbox, take a minute or two—five, even—to collect yourself and your papers. Sort through what's essential and recycle everything that's not. Some say that the trick to staying focused is to do all of this while standing.

11 a.m.: Skip the snack

Tried and true: Mid-morning munchies happen, but they may not do a whole lot to boost your energy level. Plus, a recent study suggests that they can obstruct weight loss.

Expert tip: Eating a snack shortly after breakfast probably isn't necessary depending on the timing of your lunch—one registered dietitian at SHAPE calls it "mindless eating" that isn't based on hunger. She suggests keeping at least three, and no more than five, hours between meals, so keep your schedule in mind as the morning goes on and your stomach starts to growl.

12 - 1 p.m.: Lunch

Tried and true: Eat away from your desk if at all possible to avoid a variety of health concerns, including serious bacteria. Nothing will sap energy like getting sick and staying in your chair all day.

Expert tip: Try to take a 20-minute walk after lunch to boost your levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, all of which will give you more energy when you return to work.

3 p.m.: Check on your eyes

Tried and true: Your eyes can get tired, too, which can make you feel bogged down. Try to stand up and take water breaks throughout the day to stay refreshed.

Expert tip: Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Look at something 20 feet away from your monitor for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.

4 p.m.: The home stretch!

Tried and true: There are several easy stretches you can do quickly at your desk, all of which can help you refocus on work. Men's Health offers seven, most of which can be done without leaving your chair.

Expert tip: Try an exercise like the upper cervical spine flex every time you click "reply."

5 p.m.: Wind down

Tried and true: It's not always possible to leave right when the clock strikes 5—or 6, or whatever the end of your 8-hour workday might be—but try to get as close as possible. According to one study, working overtime can take a toll on your ticker, leading to serious health problems down the line.

Expert tip: Don't rush out of the door. Instead, make sure you wind down properly: doing so will keep your energy up and spirits lifted as you head home. Have a chat with co-workers or watch a funny video before packing up.

5 - 6 p.m.: On the way home

Tried and true: This is a good time to rock out. If you're a music lover who's spent all day in relative silence, take the opportunity to pump up the volume a bit and unwind.

Expert tip: It's just as important to practice mindfulness during your evening commute as it was in the morning—think of it as an opportunity to check back in with yourself and bring the day full circle. Plus, focusing on what's going on internally can help calm you down in the often stressful rush to get home.

9 p.m.: Before bed

Tried and true: To ensure another energized 9-5, you'll want to squeeze the most out of your nighttime shuteye. There's more to it than shooting for eight hours of rest, though. Avoid bright screens—computers, smartphones, and TV—before you go to bed.

Expert tip: Try a hot bath 30 minutes in advance, and keep a cup of water at your bedside: If you wake up feeling hot, lowering your body temperature will help you get back to sleep.

Eat to have Healthy Skin

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits have the potent ingredient limonene, associated with a whopping 34 percent lower risk of skin cancer in one University of Arizona study of 470 women and men.

Green tea

This delicately flavored tea is full of antioxidants called EGCGs. Among their health-promoting capabilities: EGCGs stopped genetic damage in human skin cells exposed to UV light in one University of Wisconsin study.

Red Peppers

Like carrots, red peppers are also especially helpful in reducing sunburn intensity.


Leafy greens, like dark green lettuce, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, are top sources of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which halted cell growth prompted by UV light in animal studies.


This fish is a great source of oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids. In a small British study, fish oils guarded against sunburn and DNA changes that can lead to cancer.


Like salmon, walnuts are high is essential fatty acids that could guard against sunburn.

Reverse Sun Damage With Food

Crimini Mushrooms


Juicy and tart Montmorency cherries are your best source of the antioxidant melatonin. Other cherries have it, too, but Montmorency has the most. Melatonin protects the skin against ultraviolet radiation. Researchers have discovered that this powerful little nutrient also helps repair sunburned skin, since it stimulates new skin-cell growth. Cherries are also packed with vitamin C, which is needed to build collagen—your skin’s natural “scaffolding” and a wrinkle preventer.

Crimini Mushrooms

They aren’t just a cute addition to a kebab, they’re packed with skin-protecting nutrients like selenium. Crimini mushrooms have one of the highest selenium contents of all the foods we eat. This trace mineral is needed to make one of the body’s most potent antioxidants, glutathione peroxidase, which fights damaging compounds called free radicals that form in the skin during sunlight exposure. Plus, crimini mushrooms are a great source of B vitamins, which are needed to create new, youthful-looking skin cells.

Green Tea

Hot green tea isn’t a popular picnic basket drink, but iced green tea can be your “go-to” refreshment this summer. Scientists have discovered that an antioxidant in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), fights inflammation in the skin. EGCG neutralizes free radicals, reducing their ability to cause damage that leads to inflammation. It even helps prevent wrinkles and other skin issues. The Journal of Nutrition reported in 2011 that women who consumed a drink with green tea polyphenols for 12 weeks saw improvements in skin elasticity, roughness, scaling and moisture content. Black tea helps, too; it has quercetin, known for its skin-protecting antioxidant abilities.


Tossing some pomegranate seeds onto your summer salads may be good for your skin, according to recent research from the University of Wisconsin. Pomegranates have a high antioxidant content, and have been found to offer anti-inflammatory benefits to the skin. And scientists have discovered that nutrients in pomegranates can reduce the ability of UVB radiation to cause cancer-promoting damage in skin cells, including alteration of NF-kappa, a pre-cancerous biomarker.

Fatty Fish

Okay, so omega-3 fatty acids are not antioxidants. But adding fatty fish like salmon to your summer menu will help protect skin from the damaging inflammation caused by sun exposure. These good fats also help keep skin hydrated and radiant. In addition, all fish are a great source of selenium and protein—which are needed for skin repair.

Boost Your Smarts


Salmon and tuna contain abundant levels of omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats that may improve the retention of brain cells.

Brown Carbs

Whole grains, which you digest slowly, provide fuel for your brain. (Although your brain accounts for only 3 percent of your total body weight, it uses 20 percent of energy.) Rich sources include whole wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa, and bran flakes.


Rich in protective antioxidants, blueberries, strawberries, and cranberries are linked to better memory and coordination.

Coffee, Wine, and Dark Chocolate

These indulgences are also packed with brain-healthy antioxidants.

Getting Healthy on Snacks

Veggie Yogurt Dip

1. Cheesy kale chips Tear kale leaves into large pieces and arrange on a baking sheet. Spritz with olive oil and bake in a 350°F oven until crisp. While still warm, sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

2. Tamari-seasoned rice crackers
 A salt lover’s best choice for scooping up low-fat tuna salad or another healthy dip; punch them up with a squeeze of chili sauce. (Read the label to make sure you stick to one serving of crackers.

3. Mediterranean artichoke hearts
 Drain canned artichoke hearts and sprinkle with lemon zest, capers, chopped fresh basil, and olive oil.

4. Five-spice pumpkin seeds Toss salted pumpkin seeds with sesame oil and Chinese five-spice powder; bake at 350°F until crisp.

5. Buffalo popcorn Toss air-popped popcorn with olive oil, chili powder, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

6. Spicy wheat pretzels
 Whole wheat pretzels (which boast 4 grams of fiber compared with 1 gram in the regular kind) become irresistible when slathered with spicy mustard (only 5 calories per teaspoon). Add a couple of low-fat cheese cubes to make this snack extra filling.
7. Chickpea poppers Drain and rinse canned chickpeas, then dry them with a paper towel. Spritz with extra-virgin olive oil, season with dried oregano and garlic salt, and roast at 400°F until crisp.

8. Veggie chips with tangy yogurt Dunk root veggie chips (such as Terra chips) into plain low-fat yogurt seasoned with hot sauce and orange zest.

9. Cheesy dip Dunk sugar snap peas into 1/4 cup fat-free ricotta cheese.
10. Easy salsa Chop up tomatoes, cucumber, bell peppers, beans, and onions in a mini food processor, then scoop on melba toast.

11. Tangy pear boats Fill endive spears with chopped pears and season with a dash of balsamic vinegar. Add 12 almonds for extra crunch and some heart-healthy unsaturated fat.

12. Veggie yogurt dip Combine finely chopped broccoli, multicolored bell peppers, and scallions with fat-free Greek yogurt and onion flakes. Use it as a dip for baby carrots.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Foodie Things to Do

Upgrade your water.

Place fruit in a pitcher with coconut water instead of tap water—try combos like orange and blueberry or raspberries and lemon, or just lime or strawberries. Chill and serve with ice.

Make one-ingredient ice cream.

Banana soft serve, you had us at hello. If you haven’t tried this great idea yet, well, all you need are a few frozen bananas, a food processor, and you’ll have ice cream!

Serve magical layered drinks.

Fun with science: Beverages with more sugar have a higher density, so they’ll sink to the bottom of the glass; beverages with less sugar will float on top. By layering different densities, you can create art in your glass. Sweet drinks like Hawaiian Punch or Gatorade go on bottom. Then layer on fruit juice, sparkling water, soda, and alcohol as desired.

Things You Shouldn’t Eat at a Restaurant

Iceberg lettuce

The iceberg wedge salad is one of the industry’s biggest rip-offs. Take into account that iceberg lettuce is about 98 percent water, and it’s easy to see why. “It's marked up at least 20 times,” says Peter Chastain, executive chef and owner of California’s Prima Ristorante. Plus, germs can hide inside lettuce’s cracks, corners, and edges. “You think lemons in water are dirty? The salads are filthy,” Cannon says. Even if restaurants do decide to wash their greens, the lettuce is often served soggy, which is big red flag—standing water mixed with lukewarm, mayo-based dressing is a disaster waiting to happen.

Meat with the bone in

Small cuts of meat, like bone-in pork or chicken breasts, are harder to cook thoroughly because their outsides easily char. This often translates to crispy on the outside and raw on the inside. Unlike undercooked beef—say, a rare burger or a steak tartare—undercooked pork and chicken are highly dangerous and could causes food-borne illnesses, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, bone-in means less meat.

Sauced-up specials

To avoid running out of ingredients during the dinner rush, restaurants often order more food than they need. At the end of the day, surplus ingredients that haven't expired can turn into tomorrow’s specials, disguised with sauce. “Watch out for an expensive item used in a way that's minimizing its flavor,” says Stephen Zagor, founder of consulting firm Hospitality & Culinary Resources, in Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney. Be wary of meat that's been cut, braised, and disguised in a pasta, stew, or soup dish.

Grill Like a Pro

Choose your wood carefully.

Ron Rupert, executive chef at Seasons 52 restaurant in Orlando, Florida, selects different woods for the subtle yet distinctive flavors they impart. For example, he uses mesquite for a slightly sweet, smoky flavor; when he wants a smokier taste, he burns oak. Also, he says, different woods burn at different temperatures. Mesquite produces a very hot fire, suitable for cooking fish, while oak burns at a temperature favorable for vegetables and meats.

Choose your heat carefully.

Tops chefs know there's more than one heat on the grill: they use both direct (right above the heat source) and indirect (you guessed it, away from the heat source) to achieve different results—and often use both types for a piece of meat. For example, here's how to guarantee a juicy steak: first sear the meat on a hotter part of the grill, then move it to a medium-hot area to allow the flavors to develop more slowly.

Butter up your steak.

When you order steak in a good restaurant, don’t be dazzled by exotic spices or cooking techniques listed on the menu. There’s an astoundingly simple chef’s secret that provides the knock-’em-dead flavor that you can’t seem to achieve when you grill steaks at home: butter.  As soon as you remove your steak from the grill, shave 1/2 tablespoon butter onto it and let the butter melt before serving.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Know Things About Kitchen Knives

Cutting board materials matter.

Using a proper cutting board and hand washing your knives are absolutes; you're either doing it or you're not. Wood, bamboo, and plastic are better for your knives than composite boards; harder boards like glass, metal, stone, and ceramic will quickly destroy knives, experts say. Find out the truth behind three other kitchen knife myths that can hurt you.

Don't use a steak knife for food preparation.

Use a chef's knife or paring knife, even if these are the only two knives you own. In many households, the serrated steak knives are often the only sharp knives capable of cutting at all.

A serrated knife is not a saw.

Most items can be cut in a nice slice with a single long draw of a serrated knife.

Keep your cutting area clear.

Don't place any item on your cutting board that you don't want to be cut.

Don't use a knife for anything other than cutting food.

As a general rule, if you wouldn't bite into it with your teeth, don't touch it with your chef's knife.

Choose a knife that works for you.

The best knife for your best friend may not be the best knife for you. If possible cut with a knife before you buy it to see how it feels in your hands.

Learn proper cutting technique.

Tuck your fingers under and use the knuckles as a guide for the knife. Watch your thumb too! 

A sharp knife actually causes fewer cuts.

The reason you cut yourself less with a sharp knife is because it takes less force to cut through anything. Sharp knives aren't scary, blunt ones that need loads of force and are liable to go anywhere are. Use the right tool for the job and use it the right way.