Category Archives: Food

I Am Not the Food Police

I try to eat healthy foods and keep healthy food habits most of the time. I also work out consistently and try to stay informed about nutrition, which is why am studying nutrition. None of those things qualify me to judge your food choices. I am not the food police.

I am the one responsible for the food I put in my mouth. You are responsible for the food you put in your mouth. The only people that I give unsolicited food advice to are my own two children.

Yes, I said “unsolicited.” If you ask for my opinion on food and nutrition, I will try to give it to you.

I am not the food police, in fact, quite the opposite. I love food. I don’t like processed or Frankenfoods and try to stay away from them. I love the colors and the textures and the odors of food, and I love sharing my love of food with my friends and family.

My interest in learning more about food and nutrition is for me and my family, so don’t worry that I will slapping that chocolate bar out of your hands. Also, if you invite me over for dinner, please don’t worry about what you prepare. I’m flexible and I will not go hungry for lack of food. I appreciate your efforts to make something ‘healthy’ for me but mostly because I hope it helps you enjoy good food as well.

I’m just studying nutrition and am really enjoying it, but I still have a long way to go. Much of what I will tell you is what I have learned over my lifetime and mainly over the last three years since I started taking better care of myself.

Even when I do become an Registered Dietitian , I will still NOT be the food police. I will continue to be responsible for my own food choices and I will work with those who choose to utilize my services.

I was doing a little research on this topic yesterday and came across countless articles from other RD’s proclaiming their freedom from being the food police as well.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my food choices over the years. I’ve had short lived efforts that included diet pills, shakes and the quick fix fads. I also freely admit to going on the cookie diet for a few weeks when I first decided to change my unhealthy ways three years ago.

I’m not perfect. I’m a believer in the 80/20 rule. I try to eat right 80% of the time and then I’ll know that the 20% of my not healthy choices won’t have a lasting impact on my health.

I don’t always meet that 80% and over the years I’ve learned that for the most part I want the 20% indulgences to really be worth it. I won’t usually eat junk food that are full of fats and sodium, but give me something oozing chocolate or caramel that is homemade and I’m all over that.

How To Save On Bose Kitchen Audio System

Maybe your old clock radio just isn’t cutting it any more, or maybe you’re just tired of the speakers on your computer making everything sound like tin. Whatever your reason to upgrade your sound system, you can’t go wrong with Bose.

They can be a bit more expensive than some systems on the market, so we will look at how to save money on them.

Coupons and Groupons

Coupons are a great way to save money on all kinds of purchases, from your groceries to the vet bill. Sometimes you can find great deals for money off and other incentives to buy your new audio system. Always check on the Bose website for any deals, coupons new items, and discontinued systems that may be on sale or reduced to clear out of the store room.

Check on other sites, as well. There are Groupon sites, there are discounts and coupons available for almost anything you are looking for, so do a bit of research to find a good deal and really cut down on the retail price of the audio equipment.

Check Online

While you are looking for discounted coupons, check out for other sites that may sell these items. Online stores like Amazon or Ebay may have just what you need for a fraction of the price. You may be able to find the system or parts of the system you want or maybe just a new system that will be just right.

Gently Loved Equipment

There are other sites as well, for buying and selling, like Craigslist and others that you can find new and used equipment for sale. If you don’t mind a bit of wear and tear or the absence of a warranty, you can get just what you need at a much lower price. You need to be prepared to ask a few questions and make sure it works, which can be a bit tricky. As a rule, it can be a great way to save.

You can also ask around, your friends, your family or your co-workers or anywhere else you have the opportunity to be in a social situation. Asking about the Bose audio system for general information may just pry open a great deal of someone looking to sell theirs, maybe they are upgrading, maybe they are moving, or just don’t need it any longer.

Again, you need to be prepared to ask a few questions and if at all possible, try before you buy. It is always best to see it and try it before you get it delivered and find an empty shell.

Clearance Sales

Bargain hunters know the thrill of a warehouse sale and all the great deals you can find on items you never even knew you needed. Keep an eye out for deals, for notices about clear off sales and an eye on the Bose site, itself. They may have an annual or semi-annual sale to unload old stock or sell off an over stock and there you can find some great deals. These items will be priced at a fraction of the cost as the same items on the showroom floor.

DIY

That’s right, you can build one. Okay, maybe not you, but if you know someone who is even a little bit of a do it yourselfer, you can find easy instructions all over the internet on how you can build speakers and other components, with either used parts of an old stereo or separately purchased pieces. It’s a good idea to have at least a smidgen of an idea of what you’re doing, otherwise it may end up costing you more.

In today’s online and discount markets available, there is no reason to spend big dollars on something when you really don’t have to. Have a good look around and see if you can’t find a perfectly good system for a lot less. See you at the yard sale!

 

How Did I Ever Live Without My Food Warmer?

There’s really nothing that compares to hosting a great party. As a true social butterfly, I can tell you that it feels like I’m hosting a gathering of some kind almost every weekend. Any occasion is a good excuse for my family to invite people over, not just birthdays and holidays – I’m talking board game nights, NBA games, in-house karaoke (yes, we do that too), movie nights, the latest episode of Jane the Virgin – really any reason to gather a bunch of friends together for an evening. You name it, I’ve hosted it. And let’s get real. Everyone knows that the best part of any gathering, what makes or breaks the whole event, is the food.

And I really enjoy treating people to some quality food. My husband and I love nothing more than whipping up a whole spread of treats for people – chili, baked beans, a dal dish, chana masala, curries, potatoes, dips, and even hot drinks to help us make it through the winter like apple cider (we keep the rum on the side so the kiddos can enjoy the cider too). I’ve even been known to whip up a giant batch of homemade hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows on the side. Like I said, the food really makes the whole event. My husband and I go all out, and feel proud of the elaborate things we make for our friends.

Except for when all the food is cold.

It’s such a huge disappointment after laboring all morning in the kitchen to make all the goodies for a truly top-notch taco bar, my husband and I working in stained, rushed tandem to get the veggies fried, portobellos roasted, my husband’s legendary refried beans made from scratch. There’s such an unspeakable let down to have your guests dive into a decked out, promising taco bar, only to have the veggies soggy and the beans room temperature. Speaking frankly, by the time we finish cooking the second dish, the first one’s already cold. What’s an aspiring Martha Stewart to do?

The Solution

Enter my beloved food warmer. When my husband first came home with it one afternoon, I thought he was more than a little crazy. After all, weren’t food warmers reserved for Chinese food buffets or a motel’s continental breakfast? Did he think we were running a bed and breakfast suddenly? Who in the world were we, to have something so fancy as a food warmer in our kitchen cabinet?

And there it sat for two weekends, until we had another get-together. This time, we were having a competitive Uno night. My husband had his mind set on tacos again – like I said, he is an absolute genius when it comes to his special refried beans. He pulled the food warmer out from the cabinet above the fridge, and I shrugged. Sure, I thought, let’s give it a try and see if it’s worth the space it takes up.

Let me level with you here: it did not disappoint. We have the Oster food warmer, and it has three pans for three different dishes. My husband’s beans were warm all afternoon, my homemade nacho cheese stayed creamy and divine, and our veggie fajitas with roasted portobello mushrooms were juicy well into the evening. It felt so wonderful to see people eating food that was actually hot and ready, and I for one loved biting into a crunchy taco with warm fillings, all topped with cool, crispy lettuce. Mmm.

It’s been a hit at every party since. I love watching my friends go back to the food warmer for seconds and thirds and find that their food is still warm, and I find myself daydreaming about riveting new flavor combos for the next party – barbeque jackfruit, anyone?

Our food warmer has also been perfect for party stragglers. There’s one couple I’m friends with who shows up about an hour late every time we have a get together Before getting the food warmer, I would pile them up a plate of food, put some foil on it, and hope for the best. Now, the food they get is still hot and delicious by the time they wander on over – that is, if there’s any left.

The easiest part has to be clean-up, too. Since the pans are dishwasher-safe, it’s a breeze to clean everything for the night, and if there are leftovers, I just put use their lids and slide them into the fridge – after a little consolidating and rearranging, of course.

My husband and I’s relationship revolves around cooking and hosting. Although I was incredulous about his impulse buy at first, it has long lived up to its expectations. I can’t imagine hosting a party any other way, and I know I’ll never go back to life without a food warmer! I’m excited to go into this year’s birthday parties armed with my new favorite appliance. What kinds of dishes would you put in your own food warmer?

9 Foods That Cаn Stop Yоur Cravings and Help wіth Wеіght Lоѕѕ

Do you often wіѕh you knеw hоw tо ѕtор craving sugar аnd foods lіkе brеаd, sweets, and оthеr simple саrbоhуdrаtеѕ? If уоu juѕt соuld ѕtор thоѕе nаggіng lіttlе (оr not ѕо lіttlе!) сrаvіngѕ, dіеtіng wоuld bе ѕо muсh easier.

Nоt only саn саrbоhуdrаtе сrаvіngѕ lеаd tо bіngе еаtіng, whісh іn turn lеаdѕ tо more serious health problems, thоѕе fооd сrаvіngѕ that уоu are experiencing mіght be a ѕіgn thаt уоu hаvе a саѕе оf Cаndіdа. If you hаvе nеvеr hеаrd оf Cаndіdа, thеn уоu are certainly nоt аlоnе. Thоugh іt is not a new рrоblеm, it was оftеn соmрlеtеlу оvеrlооkеd and еvеn dіѕmіѕѕеd bу the mеdісаl соmmunіtу іn the past.

Whіlе it mау bе true thеrе’ѕ no mаgісаl fat burnіng fооd, there аrе a numbеr оf ѕuреrfооdѕ which аѕѕіѕt thе body to lоѕе wеіght, оr hеlр tо mаіntаіn a wеіght rаngе оnсе уоu’vе achieved уоur gоаl. Thеѕе foods wоrk bу nаturаllу controlling уоur hunger, іnсrеаѕіng fаt mеtаbоlіѕm аnd burning еxtrа саlоrіеѕ fоr uѕе as energy.

You know for ѕurе thаt taking in a liberal amount of fооd wоuld nоt rеѕult іn wеіght loss. And ѕо іѕ the case with deliberate starving оr ѕkірріng meals. When trуіng tо lose wеіght, іt is іmроrtаnt tо have diet plans and ѕtrаtеgіеѕ. Including fооd thаt helps wеіght lоѕѕ іѕ еԛuаllу important. Dietary сhаngеѕ соmbіnеd wіth еxеrсіѕе programs аnd supplements wіll result іn a lоng-lаѕtіng wеіght lоѕѕ.

It isn’t nеwѕ thаt dieting іѕn’t еаѕу. Evеrуоnе is lіkеlу to gо thrоugh ѕоmе tіmеѕ of аbѕоlutе dіffісultу. Thіѕ is especially true whеn іt соmеѕ tо foods that are ѕаltу аnd ѕwееt. Alas, the majority оf the fооdѕ thаt offer thе tаѕtеѕ thаt уоu’rе ѕеаrсhіng fоr dеfу everything about уоur dіеt. Sо, hоw dоеѕ оnе ѕtор cravings thаt are hоldіng уоu bасk?

Thеrе аrе numerous wауѕ thаt you can соnԛuеr уоur сrаvіngѕ such that the lіѕt іѕ рrасtісаllу еndlеѕѕ. Thеу will all rеԛuіrе a lеvеl оf соmmіtmеnt if уоu dеѕіrе to bе ѕuссеѕѕful. Let us tаkе оur dіеt аѕ a fасtоr іn reaching a hеаlthу wеіght lоѕѕ. Wе have tо tаkе note that рuttіng our weight loss fооds іntаkе іn рrореr роrtіоnѕ іѕ іmроrtаnt.

Food сrаvіng оr аn іntеnѕе dеѕіrе to соnѕumе a ѕресіfіс food, іn mоѕt case junk foods оr nutritionally devoid fооdѕ, may kіll your weight lоѕѕ efforts. Food cravings usually оссur in people fоllоwіng a very ѕtrісt diet plan аnd іt саn bе dіffісult tо оvеrсоmе. But іt іѕ vеrу іmроrtаnt to ѕtор сrаvіngѕ to achieve your weight lоѕѕ goals.

9 Foods Thаt Cаn Stор Yоur Crаvіngѕ & Hеlр With Wеіght Loss

Grееn Tea

Green tеа hаѕ bееn uѕеd fоr сеnturіеѕ, nоt only fоr its natural slimming еffесt but fоr thе hіgh аmоuntѕ оf antioxidants knоwn аѕ “catechins.” As a matter оf fасt, thе catechins аrе thе active ingredients thаt ѕtіmulаtе fаt burnіng аnd wеіght loss.

One сuр оf green tеа реr day will help уоu lower уоur bоdу mass іndеx, but thіѕ is not all: іf consumed rеgulаrlу, grееn tеа аlѕо lоwеrѕ the lеvеlѕ оf bad сhоlеѕtеrоl. It bаlаnсеѕ the blood ѕugаr lеvеlѕ (thuѕ bеіng ideal fоr diabetes sufferers) and іt drаmаtісаllу lоwеrѕ thе rіѕk for hеаrt dіѕеаѕе аnd сеrtаіn tуреѕ of саnсеr.

Grареfruіtѕ

Grapefruits аrе dеlісіоuѕ and they аrе сеrtаіnlу a grеаt addition tо every wеіght lоѕѕ diet, gіvеn thе fасt thаt thеу соntаіn nutrіеntѕ which ѕіmрlу fоrсе уоur body tо convert саlоrіеѕ іntо еnеrgу, rаthеr thаn tо ѕtоrе thеm аѕ fаt. Nо mаttеr if уоu еаt thе grареfruіt raw оr you ѕԛuееzе іt іntо a delicious аnd nutrіtіоuѕ juісе, half a grареfruіt a day will keep thе dосtоr аwау аnd thе extra pounds аѕ wеll!

Hоt Rеd Pерреr

Thе hоt rеd рерреr is also one of the best diet foods and іѕ сеrtаіnlу a ѕрісу аddіtіоn tо mаnу dishes, but fеw реорlе knоw thаt ѕрісу сhіlі can have a significant impact on your weight. Cоnѕumіng red pepper rеgulаrlу wіll ѕuррrеѕѕ your арреtіtе аnd mаkе you feel full fоr several hours, which mеаnѕ that you wіll rеduсе the numbеr оf саlоrіеѕ уоu соnѕumе dаіlу.

Thе ѕесrеt lіеѕ іn thе high соntеnt оf сарѕаісіn, a соmроund typical tо red рерреr thаt rеduсеѕ hungеr and рrеvеntѕ cravings. In аddіtіоn to thіѕ, hоt red рерреr hаѕ ѕеvеrаl оthеr health benefits thаt ѕhоuld nоt be іgnоrеd еіthеr: rеd pepper flаkеѕ act аѕ natural аntі-іnflаmmаtоrіеѕ аnd thеу are аlѕо knоwn tо rеduсе thе rіѕk of blооd clots.

Bеаnѕ

Bеаnѕ may nоt the mоѕt dеlісіоuѕ fооdѕ, but thеу ѕurеlу соmе іn hаndу if you plan to lоѕе lots of wеіght, gіvеn thе fact thаt bеаnѕ ѕtіmulаtе the рrоduсtіоn оf a nаturаl dіgеѕtіvе hоrmоnе that acts as a mіld арреtіtе ѕuррrеѕѕаnt, thus rеduсіng fооd сrаvіngѕ throughout thе day.

At the ѕаmе tіmе, beans аrе аlѕо grеаt for balancing blood sugar: it is a known fасt thаt ѕріkеѕ in blооd sugar levels trigger сrаvіngѕ (especially thе dеѕіrе tо еаt ѕwееtѕ and sugary products), аnd bу rеgulаtіng thеѕе lеvеlѕ, thе cravings are аutоmаtісаllу еlіmіnаtеd.

thіnk Thin Nаturаl Enеrgу Bаr

Put dоwn thе саndу bаr. Thеrе are mаnу hеаlthу аltеrnаtіvеѕ–lіkе thinkThin Natural Energy Bars–that can satisfy a hаnkеrіng wіthоut thе еxсеѕѕ ѕugаr.

Wіth flаvоrѕ like mixed nutѕ аnd white сhосоlаtе dірреd mixed nutѕ, they еvеn ѕоund like саndу bаrѕ. “Thеу gіvе you this great feeling of ‘wоw, I’m hаvіng a ѕwееt,’ but іt wоn’t blоw уоur diet.”

Thе bаrѕ аrе ѕwееtеnеd wіth ѕmаll аmоuntѕ оf rеаl ѕugаr рluѕ sugar аlсоhоlѕ (commonly found іn fооdѕ fоr dіаbеtісѕ). Because thіnkThіn bаrѕ аrеn’t mаdе with аѕраrtаmе, they lасk thаt ѕwееt сhеmісаl tаѕtе.

Healthy Trail Mix

If уоu thіnk уоu’rе dоіng уоur bоdу gооd by ѕnасkіng on dried fruіt, think аgаіn. Drіеd fruіt is often packed with sugar, аnd it’s ѕtrірреd of thе hungеr-fіghtіng fіbеr durіng thе dehydration process. Nоt оnlу dоеѕ dried fruіt соntаіn fеwеr nutrients thаn frеѕh fruіt, but it also can mаkе your bеllу blоаt.

Kаѕhі Gо Lean Orіgіnаl Cеrеаl

Pit the nutritional fасtѕ оf Kashi GоLеаn against those оf Frоѕtеd Flаkеѕ and thе twо dоn’t compare. Kashi’s роwеrhоuѕе cereal расkѕ 13 g оf protein, 10 g of fіbеr, and 6 g оf ѕugаr per serving–impressive ѕресѕ.

It’ѕ аlѕо important to watch thе ѕugаr content in сеrеаl if уоu douse уоur bоwl іn mіlk, a ѕnеаkу source of ѕugаr. “Eіght оunсеѕ оf nоnfаt milk has around 12 g оf ѕugаr, ѕо thаt’ѕ a hіddеn ѕugаr bоmb,” Reames ѕауѕ. “Mіnіmіzе the аmоunt оf mіlk you еаt tо рut оn уоur сеrеаl іf роѕѕіblе. Gо fоr half a сuр fоr еvеrу сuр of cereal іf уоu саn.”

Piece оf Dаrk Chосоlаtе

Enjоу a piece оf dаrk сhосоlаtе–расkеd with аntіоxіdаntѕ–іf thе сhосоlаtе urge wоn’t dіѕарреаr. A ѕtudу соnduсtеd bу Italy’s Nаturаl Institute for Fооd found thаt milk can interfere wіth the body’s аbѕоrрtіоn оf antioxidants frоm dark chocolate, making it a bеttеr сhоісе than milk chocolate. “Dаrk сhосоlаtе is also uѕuаllу less processed аnd contains lеѕѕ sugar thаn mіlk сhосоlаtе.”

Natural, Unрrосеѕѕеd Nut Butters

Reach for nаturаl реаnut buttеr аnd сеlеrу sticks the nеxt tіmе you’re сrаvіng a salty, ѕwееt combo. Thіѕ оld-fаѕhіоnеd ѕnасk расkѕ a ton оf nutrients.

“Cеlеrу іѕ composed mоѕtlу of fіbеr, water, аnd nutrіеntѕ. It gіvеѕ peanut buttеr аddеd vоlumе аnd crunch. Thіѕ ѕnасk can bе just as ѕаtіѕfуіng аѕ a PауDау bar”. And if celery іѕn’t your thіng, opt fоr a few аррlе ѕlісеѕ.

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-ways-to-stop-food-cravings

http://www.cosmopolitan.com/health-fitness/advice/a37635/foods-you-should-never-eat-if-youre-trying-to-lose-weight/

Fast Food Processor Recipes that Will Make Your Mouth Water

Think food processors are a hassle? Too much to deal with, to the point where it’s shoved awkwardly into the kitchen cabinet? I thought that too, until I saw these recipes that are so simple, and absolutely to die for! Turns out, food processors are a dream for sauces, truffles, ice cream, and more. Yes, you read that right: ice cream. Here are a handful of the very best food processor recipes out there. Check them out, dust off that food processor you’ve got stashed above the fridge, and get to mixing!

Let’s kick this off with the most important meal of the day…

  1. Move over, store-bought breakfast bars! These bars take less than ten minutes to throw together, and are a godsend when you’re scrambling to make it out the door. Make them on a free afternoon, so you can just cut ’em up and go during the work week!
  2. Speaking of breakfasts, what about this smoothie? I know what you’re thinking: a smoothie in a food processor? You must be crazy! But my friends, I assure you, I’m not. There’s a cult-like aura around blenders, and it makes those of us who use a food processor feel uninvited to the smoothie party. But it turns out smoothies still turn out just as great in a food processor! Try this dream, which is just like a virgin piña colada that transports you right to the beach any time of year. And go ahead, nobody’s looking if you splash just a *hint* of rum in there.
  3. While we’re at the breakfast table, how about something to revive your morning toast? Minimalist Baker is the queen when it comes to things to spread on toast (or to just eat with a spoon). Like this coconut butter. If you’ve never had coconut butter, you NEED to try this! It’s a chunky, rich dream, that melts and softens perfectly onto a crispy piece of toast in the morning. Try it topped with a few slices of banana or strawberry, or just straight up for a decadent, filling, morning treat.
  4. Minimalist Baker is probably my favorite food blog ever. I mean, have you checked out this brownie batter spread? You read that right. A brownie spread. Just toast some nuts, mix five ingredients up in the food processor, and you have this dreamy brownie spread that she recommends on top of french toast. Excuse me while I fan myself.

While we’re talking chocolate…

  1. Enter these inner goddess truffles from Pinch of Yum. Wow. So simple, so decadent, so…healthy? Amazingly, yes! Packed with good fats and protein from cacao and nuts, these babies can be indulged in any time of day, worry free.
  2. I can’t seem to get enough of sweets straight from the food processor, and boy does this one deliver! If you ever crave ice cream – and who doesn’t – this gem is for you. A magic thing happens to frozen bananas when they’re tossed into a food processor: they become the smoothest ice cream – low sugar, clean, and divine. This blog offers four different variations of banana-based ice cream. Wow. Just look at that mint chocolate chip goodness! I know what my breakfast plan is gonna be..
  3. Sweets are great, but what about the savory stuff? What about when it’s lunch time? Check out this great twist on a lunch classic: chickpea salad melts! This recipe delivers with that warm, gooey goodness of a melt, but has some quick, healthy ingredients that are most likely already in your pantry. Put that on some sourdough, top it with a little lettuce or cheese, and you’re good to go with a hearty sandwich that you can whip up in no time!
  4. How about a rich, chunky, arugula and cashew spread? Spread it on a panini, toast, crackers, or rice cakes. This dip takes only 15 minutes to make, and is an instant party – or lunchtime – hit.
  5. Food processors are made for dips and spreads. Minimalist Baker is at it again with her amazing baba ganoush. So creamy! So rich! This recipe calls for broiling the eggplant gives a deep flavor that’s crucial to making the best baba ganoush. I’m in heaven just thinking about it.
  6. No list of food processor gems would be complete without a solid hummus, and this one here does the trick. Smooth, rich, and “better than store-bought“, this one takes under 10 minutes to make, and you can immediately get to snackin’. Just don’t forget your carrots and chips for dipping!
  7. With football playoffs in full swing, and basketball ramping up, you really can’t have too many dips. Try this guacamole recipe for all your easy chip-dipping needs. While most guacamoles are hand-mashed – and not to knock the thick variety – this smooth, whipped guacamole is easy to dip, easy to spread, and easier to scoop than its chunky sibling. Whip this up in a few minutes – even during a commercial break – before enjoying the rest of a good game with your friends!
  8. Finally, I feel I would be amiss without introducing the world to this incredible “Rawcho” Cheese Dip. It’s creamy, amazing, and the perfect addition to all those dips we’ve been talking about. In my house, we whip this up, heat it, and drizzle it over nachos laden with jalapenos, refried beans, lettuce, and salsa. And I’ll come clean. Said nachos almost never make it to a plate all pretty – my family tends to eat them right off the pan! Whip this dip up, heat up some nacho fixins, and snack away!

There are about a thousand other food processor recipes to share, but these are just a few of my faves. With recipes as simple as these, there’s no reason to avoid the food processor anymore! Dust it off, grab these simple ingredients, and start whipping these treats up! What are some of your favorite food processor recipes? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!

5 Tips to Brew Tea to Ward Off Anxiety and Depression in 2018

Winter can be a tough time. Not only is the weather dull and gray, but everyone around you is also down with cold and flu. Nearly 300 million people in the world suffer from anxiety and depression, seasonal or otherwise, according to WHO. However, there are a number of ways to get over anxiety, and what could be better than a hot steaming cup of tea?

With the New Year just beginning, it’s a good time to take control of your life and keep depression and anxiety at an arm’s length. Here are some tips to brew tea to ward off those pesky winter blues:

Chamomile for insomnia

Sleeplessness is one of the major symptoms of depression, as well as anxiety disorder. Luckily, chamomile tea is an easy way to cure insomnia. Chamomile tea has proven to be effective in aiding sleeplessness and lifting your mood. In fact, it can also help build your immunity, relieve headaches and aid digestion. In addition, it helps you relax and fall asleep much faster.

Chamomile has been used as an antidepressant for many years. Back in the old Egyptian times, people used chamomile as a remedy for various anxiety disorders. A popular study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology in 2010 showed that having chamomile tea decreases anxiety. So, the next time you brew some tea, remember to add some chamomile to the mix!

A pinch of turmeric

Turmeric, popular for being a natural healing agent, can also be used as a mood lifter. Turmeric heals you from inside out and keeps you healthy and fit.

A recent study published in the Phytotherapy Research Journal tested the use of turmeric as an anti-depressant against the drug Prozac. The results show that curcumin (found in turmeric) can be used as an effective method of treatment in patients with depression, without the risk of any side effects. It can even help with the onset of dementia.

When you feel better physically, your mental health will improve too, thus your anxiety levels will go down.

Lemon Balm for relaxation

Lemon Balm, originally from the mint family, is a memory boosting and anti-anxiety herb. Lemon Balm also contains a muscle relaxant which allows relaxation and restful sleep. This herb is mostly used for anti-anxiety purposes. In addition to its anti-anxiety properties, Lemon Balm tea can also be used to provide relief from fatigue and digestive problems like bloating, gas, vomiting, heartburn etc. This herb may also help women with menstrual pain and can sometimes even stimulate weak menstrual cycles.

Brew rose petals

Rose petals are great for your skin and tea made out of it works well as a natural anxiety reliever. Rose bud tea has an amazing fragrance and is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. This makes it the best tea for times when your mind and body need a boost. Rose bud tea can help ease the mind and reduce stress, thereby, reducing anxiety levels. It can be made with both fresh or dried rose petals, however, remember to wash dried rose petals prior to use. Additionally, Rose tea can also help improve your skin, hair and acne problems. The caffeine-free, breathe easy tea boosts the immunity and digestive systems, and can even help with weight loss!

Passionflower

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a study shows that steeping one tea spoon of died passionflower in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes can help you relax. This herb helps by increasing the levels of relaxing neurotransmitters in your brain and thus lets you go to sleep peacefully. Some studies also show that this herb increases the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA in the brain. GABA is an amino acid that promotes a sense of calmness and improves the mood. Ideally, this tea should be taken one hour prior to your bed time.

All of these teas should be sipped while hot to reap maximum benefits of the herbs. For the best experience, have a cup after some meditation or yoga. Aside from drinking herbal teas, you can also make some alterations in your diet and reduce the intake of refined and processed food, as they may be linked to higher anxiety levels. Instead, opt for a balanced diet of carbs, proteins, fats and minerals.

The Brutal Challenge of Finding Good (and Clean) Halal Food Near Me

Living in Denver these past few years has been a dream. The art museums, the local coffee shops, the proximity to the mountains, all foster a sense of community that fills me with warmth year round. Always, I am particularly grateful for the diverse native tongues, flavors, and perspectives that the greater Denver area has to offer. And I especially love the food here.

From Sawa, the Polish grocery in Wheat Ridge, and the Ethiopian restaurants on Colfax, to the broad offerings of halal and kosher markets scattered across the greater metro area, there’s somewhere that meets everyone’s culinary needs.

But what about a nice night out while eating halal? Sure, you have the means to buy all the ingredients for a good halal meal here, but these days, it’s unrealistic to assume that people will have enough time on their hands to cook every single meal, every single day. And sometimes it’s nice to just have food prepared for you. Going out to eat is a joy, and

it’s so important to feel confident that where you choose to dine follows the guidelines that you value. Denver’s halal offerings are rich, and thankfully, spread across town – so you’re never too far from a great place to eat, no matter where you are in the city. Here are three of the best restaurants with halal offerings in the Denver area.

Jerusalem Restaurant

I’ll just kick it off with a place that has been here for almost thirty years, and is a touchstone of Denver cuisine: Jerusalem Restaurant. Its simple name is as straightforward as its menu, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you’ll be left wanting anything after eating here. First off: their stuffed grape leaves. Lemony, vibrant, with rice that is perfectly cooked – they are genuinely the best grape leaves that I have ever had at a restaurant. They have a broad offering of sides, falafel iterations, and sandwiches.

Their halal beef and lamb gyro is pleasant and filling, and very reasonably priced at only $7.50. Their fries are almost $4, but it’s worth it to indulge in some fries that are confidently halal, since they don’t get deep fried alongside chicken wings like they do in most mainstream restaurants. Jerusalem Restaurant has a simple aesthetic, a great location right by the University of Denver, and fast service. As one of the most well-known casual restaurants in town, they are worth the visit, and you won’t soon forget the meal you had there. I know that I for one regularly daydream about those grape leaves…

Darya Persian Restaurant

Second on my list is Darya Persian Restaurant in Aurora. They serve up some delicious Iranian classics here like ashe-reshteh, a nourishing noodle soup with a variety of greens and beans. They also offer a solid selection of tasty kabobs that are all reasonably priced at $11-$13 for a plate laden with kabobs, bread, and saffron rice. Darya Persian Restaurant also offers the traditional, warm, delightful Persian dish mirza ghasemi, and they do it justice.

A blend of eggplant, herbs, tomatoes, and eggs that you dip their warm bread into, it’s a combination of savory flavors that is truly divine. Finally, as silly as this one sounds, Darya Restaurant is a great place to go when you’re craving a good, halal burger. Sometimes it’s nice to indulge in an unhealthy staple that many people get to eat without a second thought. Being able to eat a burger at a restaurant, and feel confident that the meat is halal, is a great feeling.

Shish Kabob Grill

Last but not least, Shish Kabob Grill also earns a spot on this list for its straightforward, halal fare in the heart of Denver. Located in Cap Hill, this joint has been open since 2004 and is run by a warm couple originally from Aleppo. And despite its unassuming looks, Shish Kabob Grill has the best hummus in town, hands down. So good, in fact, I’ve heard about several people who were staunchly anti-hummus that were converted by Shish Kabob Grill’s creamy dip.

Their chicken shawarma plate is also packed with flavor, and is a huge helping of food for only $15. Finally, the best way to finish any meal is with a hot cup of coffee, and Shish Kabob Grill serves up Turkish coffee with cardamom that is truly out of this world. Once you’ve indulged in some good Turkish coffee, you’ll never think that dessert is a proper meal ending again.

While these are all great options, it’s important to keep in mind that Denver is lucky to have these choices. In smaller towns, there aren’t as many places to choose from that are truly halal, and it’s harder when you’re traveling to be sure you’re eating in line with your values. A safe way to broaden your scope is at vegan and vegetarian restaurants. As there is no meat there to begin with, most halal rules are followed – just be sure to ask your server if something has been made with soy sauce or vanilla extract, as those do contain trace amounts of alcohol.

As a matter of fact, there is a growing movement amongst Muslim millennials to push toward a more plant-based lifestyle, based on the idea that factory farms can never truly be halal, even if rules are followed. For more information on how to incorporate a plant-based diet into your faith, follow The Vegan Muslim Initiative for regular blog updates and engagement with the broader community.

Best of the Worst: Picking the Best Fast Food Breakfast

Do you remember the days when you had all the time in the world to whip up some fresh pancakes, or make a beautiful Tex Mex breakfast burrito from scratch, all smothered in homemade pico de gallo? Yeah, neither do I.

It’s a shame to admit it, but arguably one of the most frustrating aspects of U.S. culture is how we don’t prioritize breakfast. We hit the snooze at least three times before rushing out the door with toothpaste on our blouses, sleep caked in the corners of our eyes, and a cup of coffee in our hands – thanks to the coffee pot timer. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that personally, I’m lucky if I snag a piece of peanut butter toast on my way out – more often, I’ll grab something out of the fridge that isn’t even a proper breakfast food, like a carrot, before running out the door.

I know, I’ve been told that’s an odd breakfast habit, but I try my best to stay healthy in the morning, even at my busiest. Sometimes though, the gleam of a fast food sign catches my eye on my morning drive, and I find myself pulling into those cursed lines, ready for something hot and delightful. Below are a handful of things I’ve found that are healthy(ish), filling, and delicious.

Starbucks

Like many of us, I often find myself at Starbucks in the morning, so it clearly deserves a space at the top of my list. Aside from their seasonal coffees and lattes, I reach for a select few of their breakfast items again and again.

First, Starbucks offers some truly delicious oatmeal that puts those microwaveable instant packets of slop to shame. The first one – and my personal favorite – is their hearty steel cut oatmeal with blueberries. I love that the blueberries are fresh, giving me a healthy burst of antioxidants to start my day. I also love that it’s sweetened with organic agave. Although the research on agave is mixed, it is known that agave does in fact rank lower on the glycemic index, which means it doesn’t cause nasty blood sugar spikes that send me crashing by midmorning.

To keep it varied, sometimes I find myself opting for their more traditional oatmeal. While more sugary and devoid of any fresh fruits, it does have a delicious cranberry tang that I love.

Finally, I find that their breakfast wrap with spinach, cage-free egg whites, and feta is a delicious start to my day. I love getting some greens in my morning meal – not an easy feat – and this wrap does the trick. With all fast food though, you’ve got to keep an eye on the sodium intake – this baby packs a whopping 35% of your daily sodium, so while delicious, this is definitely my least-ordered item on the Starbucks breakfast menu.

I find that pairing any of these with their fruit cup leaves me satiated and ready to seize a busy morning.

Einstein Bros. Bagels

Behold the bagel. Such a treat, so delicious toasted, and so easily swings the wide pendulum between healthful and horrendous. I often find myself craving this carb-laden delight, but know that the temptation of an asiago bagel topped with cream cheese can often overpower any healthy decisions I may have wanted to make. At Einstein Bros., however, I find myself craving something much heartier and healthier. I get the power protein bagel toasted and topped with avocado (it costs a little extra, but is so worth it). The good fats from the avocado works alongside the 13 grams of protein from the bagel to give me a hearty, wholesome breakfast that leaves me energized, full, and grateful that I made such a smart choice so early in the day.

Panera

Sometimes, I’m really looking for that extra healthy boost to kickstart my day. Panera, with their fresh-baked pastries and sweets, doesn’t seem like the obvious choice at first glance. However, their smoothies have won me over, and I find myself pulling into their drive thru more and more for a filling smoothie paired with a whole grain bagel.

For the smoothies, I alternate between two: Green Passion or Peach & Blueberry. The Green Passion smoothie is a prime way to start off, as it is not only rich in fruits, but also has spinach snuck in there (hence the name), which gives me ample veggies to start to the day off right. If I’m looking for something a little sweeter, I opt for the Peach and Blueberry smoothie. Made with almond milk, fresh blueberries, and peach puree, it transports me to a soothing summer afternoon, regardless of the season. Alongside a peanut butter bagel, I know I’m going to be revved up and ready to tackle whatever work throws my way!

Taco Bell

Ok, so healthy simplicities like bagels and oatmeal are well and good. But what about when you’re craving something different? Spicy, hearty, and warm, perhaps?

Taco Bell’s breakfast menu is a goldmine. Not only is Taco Bell the only major fast food chain with a menu certified by the American Vegetarian Association, but it also offers healthy swaps, like ordering any menu item “al fresco” style, which replaces cheese and sour cream with pico de gallo.

While my family’s diet isn’t entirely plant-based, we do limit our meat consumption when we can, and I love that Taco Bell lets me honor that even when I’m bleary eyed on a Monday morning. I, for one, am a fan of the Breakfast Crunchwrap California Style, with the meat and eggs swapped out for black beans (free of charge), and ordered al fresco. That way, I have a hashbrown, guacamole, pico, and black bean wrap that is toasted, satiating, and easy to eat on the road. The hardest part? Not ordering two.

Although we all fantasize about being the kind of person who can make themselves a hearty, filling breakfast each morning, the truth is we’re busy. Opting for these healthy breakfast options, I feel less guilty about pulling into the drive thru in the morning, and hopefully you can too. Here’s to a happy breakfast!

 

If You Can’t Pronounce It, Don’t Eat It!

If it’s not one fad diet, it’s a food group. Last week you couldn’t eat carbs, this week, bread is okay, avoid legumes. Then just when you got used to a vegan diet, everyone has gone caveman with the meat. Last week you were all organic, this week it has to be raw. Frankly, it is enough to make your head spin, and your stomach. Genetically modified foods, pesticides, organic, farm fresh, hydroponically grown, really, where do you start?

Keeping healthy, keeping your diet balanced and eating properly can be difficult with a hectic lifestyle. It’s even harder if you have children, to keep them on track and off junk foods.

Skipping breakfast, then having a sugary pastry with a large coffee, a greasy burger or sandwich for lunch on the go and then pizza or something microwaved for dinner. It might satisfy at the time, but it’s not healthy. Plus, the ingredients are mostly unknown.

Food labelling has definitely come a long way in recent years, but it’s likely not enough. Reading labels on items we buy is a good idea, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Foods labeled Buying organic might make you happier about the choices you are making but they can be a lot more expensive. The term ‘organic’ can be misleading. It may mean the soil the carrots were grown in was organic, or just the seeds, or maybe just the farmer’s boots. It doesn’t tell us where he got the seeds and if they are genetically modified, like many foods are.

Genetically modified foods, frankenfood, as it’s been called, is food that has had its DNA modified. This is usually for longer shelf life, shorter growing period, quicker ripening and also engineered to resist bugs and other pests. Larger crops, corn, soybean, cotton and foods used for feed, oil and other processing have been being modified for years.

The usage and regulation of these foods varies from country to country and while most scientific research claims they are healthy for consumption, many people still are not convinced. The method of foods being modified today vastly differs from, say, thirty years ago, but many feel any is too much.

Demands in non-modified foods continues to grow, despite the ‘all-clear’ from many sides. Increases in diseases, allergies and less and less resistance to illness has many people pointing at the food we eat. Of course, not just modifying foods adds to it’s health or harm. Environmental problems,  pollution, exhaust, methane from the very livestock that are also being modified, genetically and with hormones and steroids, acid rain, it’s really  a wonder we eat at all!

Not everyone dislikes the GMO foods. Corn, one of the biggest crops and the most modified is widely used for livestock feed, used to make breakfast cereal, corn syrup, which in turn is used widely in other foods, corn oil, it’s really endless. But the increase in crops for the producer and the bug resistants of it means big money for the corn farmer. But even finding products that claim to be GMO free doesn’t mean they aren’t sprayed with pesticides, fertilizers and other harmful chemicals used for bugs and plant diseases.

So, if the soil is organic but the seeds are GMO, how are we to know? Well, we don’t But you can start by buying local, supporting your local farmer at the farmer’s market, where you can ask about the foods you are buying. Read the labels and stay informed.

Unjunked Candy Review

Need to get your chocolate on? Maybe your kids are indulging too much and you are trying to get them off of it? Looking to get a leg up in the New Year for a healthier diet? There are healthy alternatives but seriously, who can eat a raw carrot when chocolate is calling out to you? Chocolate is in its own food category, and so it should be. There are healthy candy and chocolate choices, and Unreal Candy is one of them.

The company was started by a dad and his teenaged sons who he was trying to keep away from junk food. The kids wanted chocolate After several thousands attempts, they came up with the recipe.

Unreal candy has peanut butter cups and M&M types of candy but with none of the really bad stuff. The peanut butter cups are made with dark chocolate and have peanut butter, crispy peanut butter and almond butter centers. The M & M types are called Gems and come in milk chocolate, dark chocolate and crispy dark chocolate.

As far as the ‘No’ goes, it’s an extensive list, No GMO, no corn syrup, no gluten, no artificial tastes or colors, no preservatives and they are vegan, fair trade and use sustainable ingredients. It’s a shame not to eat them, really.

In comparing the gems to M&M’s, the first noticeable difference is the color. Many people have allergic or other reactions to certain chemicals used in food dyes, and these don’t contain that. The color is made from plant-based coloring, and the flavoring is all natural. Just compare the listed ingredients on the packages and you will actually be able to pronounce the ones listed on Unreal’s packages.

The sugar content is lower than most compared candy and they taste creamy without the chemical aftertaste. Kids will likely still prefer the real M&M’s but it’s a start in the right direction. Considering the size of M&M’s, who eats one or two? So for those of us who like getting our chocolate on, and that’s a lot of us, this is a great, healthier alternative.

Of course, it’s still candy so moderation is always recommended, but any time we can do better for ourselves and the world around us, we should at least try.

The company have recently launched new items, and their products are available online and in most major grocery stores. They are a bit more expensive, but at what cost?