Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

Plein Air painting in Santorini

Photo by Linnell Chang

Wouldn’t it be fun to travel the world and become a plein air painter? If I close my eyes, I can envision myself sitting in front of an easel with a paintbrush in my hand. The only problem with that idea is that after taking a couple of painting classes, I realize that my destiny and my talent does not extend in that direction. I haven’t completely given up on learning to paint, but in the mean time, I’ll just have to paint my world with words.

#1 – 12 Things to Say to Yourself
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: WORDS HAVE POWER. Reading the sentence, “Every breath you take is in sync with someone’s last,” from the 12 Things You Should Be Able to Say About Yourself, forced me to pause and reflect. Every second of every day people all over the world die, but I had never considered the synchronicity of our breaths. Acknowledging that my next breath is in sync with someone’s last breath, gave me a different perspective on life and an increased gratitude for being alive. Marc and Angel Hack Life have written another food-for-thought list that is well worth reading and thinking about.

#2 – Battle of the Potatoes
White Potato versus Sweet Potato There’s a lot of hoopla over sweet potatoes. Many restaurants serve sweet potato fries and many dog treats now contain sweet potato. Even my husband is on a sweet potato binge. Are sweet potatoes that much more nutritious than regular white potatoes? Compare their statistics on Food Face-Off: Which is Healthier? and decide for yourself.

#3 – The Heart of a Teacher
Teachers make a profound difference in the world every single day. With the school year coming to a close in many areas, I would like to share this video, based on the poem by Paula J. Fox, as a tribute to teachers around the globe.

#4 – Gifts For Teachers
Gifts for TeachersTrying to think of a nice way to thank your child’s teacher? iVillage’s 19 Homemade Teacher Gift Ideas: Thank-Yous They’ll Really Use – and Love! has some clever ideas that might be just what you’re looking for. The fact that your child can assist in making many of these gifts is a bonus, too.

#5 – Daily Motivation
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” —Zig Ziglar

Enjoy your weekend!

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As the doctor looked at my eye through a scope and leaned in with a pair of tweezers to remove one of the filaments that had grown on my cornea, I chastised myself for taking my eyesight for granted. I try to lead a grateful life and consider myself fortunate that I have so many things for which I am grateful, but sometimes it is easy to become aloof towards the most fundamental. My eye is fine now, but that does not mean more filaments won’t form in the future. This past week “opened my eyes” on how my world might change if I could not see.

#1 – Bottled Water
Many of us who live in the United States take clean water for granted. We should be grateful that potable water comes to us with a flick of the wrist. Even though we have safe drinking water, many people prefer to drink bottled water.  But what are the realities behind bottled water? Here are some facts about bottled water presented by Online Education:
The Facts About Bottled Water

#2 – Workout Food

I show respect and gratitude towards my body by eating healthy foods and exercising it. Because I tend to ignore my alarm clock and wake up late, I usually grab a banana before I workout at the gym. But after reading this article, Foods for Workouts: Cardio from Food Network’s Healthy Eats, I realized that if I woke up earlier I could justify eating a lot more food!

#3 – Forty Photos
The world we live in is amazing and these forty photos prove it. They are among the thousands of photos entered into the 24th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012. Spectacular images were submitted from around the world and the lucky winners will be announced in August. Want to see all of the contest entries? Click here.

#4 – Life According to Einstein

You can learn more than just physics when reading about Albert Einstein. Here’s an article from the site Dumb Little Man called 10 Amazing Life Lessons You Can Learn From Albert Einstein.

#5 – Just Be Grateful
You cannot be grateful and bitter.
You cannot be grateful and unhappy.
You cannot be grateful and without hope.
You cannot be grateful and unloving.
So just be grateful.

Author Unknown

Fill your weekend with gratitude. On Saturday, think about all the people in your life that you are grateful for and then on Sunday tell them how you feel! 

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Tap-tap-tap! Tap-tap-tap! Sounds from across my house make me stop and listen. “What on earth is making that noise?” I ask my husband. He replies, “It’s a bird pecking at the window.” “Really? I hope he doesn’t hurt himself,” I say as I head off in the direction of the noise. With wings fluttering wildly, a small gray bird hovers around my dining room window, pecks at it several times, and then flies off. I wonder to myself if he can’t see the pane of glass in front of him or if he is cracking seeds on the glass. When he comes back again, I see that he is a tufted titmouse, one of my favorite visitors at my bird feeders. With their large black eyes and Mohawk hairstyle (really their gray crests), tufted titmice are adorable little songbirds to have around. Tap-tap-tap, tap-tap-tap I hear again and pick up my camera. He flies off to a nearby oak tree for a stop and then he’s gone, giving me only enough time to snap one quick photo through the window. Hasty research reveals that my little visitor is probably a macho-type of guy. He may think his reflection in the glass is a “rival” and he attacks it to maintain his status. Great, just what I need, more quirky male behavior around the house!

#1 – Lose an Hour
Don’t forget to “spring ahead” tomorrow before turning in for the night. Daylight savings time starts at 2 a.m. on Sunday, so set your clocks ahead one hour. For more information about DST, go to timeanddate.

#2 – Flax to the Rescue
Did you know that ground flax seeds, which are an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, can be used in recipes as a substitute for eggs, butter and oil? Ameriflax offers recipes and provides the following substitutions:

For Fat
– Substitute flax for fat in your recipes, using 3 tbsp ground flax seed for 1 tbsp of margarine, butter or cooking oil. Flax can be substituted for all or some of the fat, depending on the recipe. Note that baking with flax, as fat substitute will cause baked goods to brown more quickly.

For Eggs
– Substitute a ground flax seed/water mixture for eggs in recipes such as pancakes, muffins and cookies. Use 1 tbsp ground flax plus 3 tbsp water – left sitting for several minutes – for each egg. Note that this will result in a chewier version of the recipe, with less volume.

#3 – Got Ants?
While writing Tuesday’s post on Nonna’s Breakfast and Dessert Farina Cake, I came across an interesting fact about farina. If you have ants outside or inside your home, place some farina or Cream of Wheat where you see them. After the ants ingest it, it expands and kills them. Read “How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally” for more safe and effective ways to deter ants.

#4 – Color Inspiration
Whether you’re working on a small scale decorating or DIY project or on a large scale project like redecorating your home, you might want to look to the masters of painting for color inspiration. COLOURlovers took well-known pieces of art and made corresponding color palettes from them. For example, if you are inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, you might want to check out his color palette and use it on your next project.

#5 – Quote for Politicians
“Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”
-George Bernard Shaw

Enjoy your weekend!

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It’s the middle of summer already and a couple of 100+ degree days are coming my way. All this heat must be good for something, right? I’m taking advantage of the heat by drying my laundry in my oven-of-a-garage. I have five large drying racks out there and my laundry dries quickly and without wrinkles. Heat brings good and bad news for me; on the one hand, my vegetable garden is thriving in this weather, but on the other hand, it’s too hot to turn on my oven, so no baking for awhile. Haven’t yet convinced my husband that solar cooking is safe!

#1 – Desk Travels
Even though my international travels are done for the year, I can still see other parts of the world. The internet is filled with breathtaking snapshots of wonderful worldly sights, that for the most part, most of us will never see in person. Here are two photo essays that transport you to amazing sights without the need to leave your seat: The World’s Most Spectacular Roads, Vol. 2 and the World’s Most Extraordinary Swimming Pools.

#2 – Daily Limits
I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my favorite monthly reads is the Nutrition Action Health Letter. Once a month it provides easy to read, relevant articles about nutrition and health. For example, are you aware of what the daily limits of sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar are for a basic 2,000-calorie diet? With today’s dining-out lifestyle it’s easy to exceed those limits. In an issue of the Health Letter there was an article called How Many Sugars? that provided a breakdown of several no-no ingredients found on menu items from popular dining spots. Here’s a quick look at daily limits and a sample menu item from the article:

Daily Limit of Sodium: 1,500 milligrams.
One McDonald’s Sausage, Egg, & Cheese on a Croissant contains 1,250 milligrams.

Daily Limit of Saturated Fat: 20 grams.
One Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee with Cream Coolata contains 22 grams.

Daily Limit of Added Sugars: 25 grams or 6.5 teaspoons.
One Starbuck’s Green Tea Blended Creme Frappuccino with whipped cream has 13 teaspoons.

Choose wisely when you dine out!

#3 – Thumping Watermelons!
According to several sources (my local newspaper, produce guides, and my dad, a former grocery store owner) to select the best watermelon you must consider these characteristics:
1. Shape – Look for a symmetrical shape (no flat sides or dents)
2. Weight – Since watermelons are over 90% water, select ones that are heavy for their size.
3. Sound – Several sources recommend lightly thumping the melon with your knuckle and listening for a hollow sound.
4. Appearance – Besides being firm and having a dull-colored skin, look for the spot where it sat on the ground. This area should be creamy yellow and it indicates the melon was vine ripened.

#4  – Mindless Computer Doodling
Sometimes when I have writer’s block, I look for interesting ways to refocus. I found this site that allows you to spend endless, mindless minutes doodling. The fun part is that the colors change on their own as you scribble and the squiggles move constantly. All you have to do is move the finger icon/cursor around. After doodling for a couple of minutes, I was back to writing!

#5 – Set Sail
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

– Mark Twain

Set your sails this weekend to explore, dream and discover!

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Quick, how many words can you think of that contain the word “size”? I’ll get you started with capsize, apotheosize, emphasize, downsize, supersized, fantasize, hypothesize, oversized, sizeably, synthesized . . . Okay you take over!

#1 – Calorie Counter
At Calorie Lab you can type in almost any food and it will pull up different calorie counts for that item, depending on restaurant or manufacturer. Alternatively, you can look up a restaurant and search the menu for calorie counts. For example, I typed in lasagna and it pulled up a long list of frozen and restaurant prepared lasagnas and their corresponding calorie counts.

#2 – Making Sense of Portion Sizes
Here’s another site that helps you to make good choices. Meals Matter is a website that has a wealth of information on nutrition, healthy living, meal planning, recipes, creating a cookbook, and personal fitness planning. I read an article called Making Sense of Portions Sizes which has suggestions to help you remember portion sizes:

If you are confused when reading a food label, try relating the portion size of a serving to everyday items. It is an easy way to visualize what a true portion size looks like.
  • Woman’s fist or baseball—a serving of vegetables or fruit is about the size of your fist
  • A rounded handful—about one half cup cooked or raw veggies or cut fruit, a piece of fruit, or ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta – this is a good measure for a snack serving, such as chips or pretzels
  • Deck of cards—a serving of meat, fish or poultry or the palm of your hand (don’t count your fingers!) – for example, one chicken breast, ¼ pound hamburger patty or a medium pork chop
  • Golf ball or large egg—one quarter cup of dried fruit or nuts
  • Tennis ball—about one half cup of ice cream
  • Computer mouse—about the size of a small baked potato
  • Compact disc—about the size of one serving of pancake or small waffle
  • Thumb tip—about one teaspoon of peanut butter
  • Six dice—a serving of cheese
  • Check book—a serving of fish (approximately 3 oz.)

#3 – Mattress Fit for a King
Do your bed sheets never seem to fit? My main issue is that when I am shopping for sheets, I can never remember which king-sized mattress I have. So here’s a little refresher course on mattress sizes for anyone who gets as confused as I do.

King = 76″ wide by 80″ long

California King = 72″ wide by 84″ long (narrower and longer)

Queen = 60″ wide by 80″ long

Full (double or standard) = 54″ wide by 75″ long

Twin = 39″ wide by 75″ long

Okay, my mattress measures 72″ wide by 80″ long – so what size is that?

#4 – Expand Your View of the World
Cool Things In Random Places has great photos of fascinating things in the world. If you need to unwind, just spend a couple of minutes looking through some of these photos!

#5 – A Sizable Quote
“You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth. ”
– Shira Tehrani –

Hope you find all your Easter eggs this weekend! And remember, not to put all your eggs in one basket!

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Try something new. Change your routine. Challenge yourself to find different ways to help others.

#1 – Helping Others
Looking for a way to make a difference? Here’s a link to VolunteerMatch. The description on the site reads, “VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement. Our popular service welcomes millions of visitors a year and has become the preferred internet recruiting tool for more than 74,000 nonprofit organizations.” The site was easy to use. I typed in my city and a list of organizations in my area looking for volunteers came up.

#2 – A Beauty Tip
Instead of buying expensive facial scrubs, try reaching into your pantry instead. Here are a couple of ideas: Baking soda mixed in with your favorite facial cleanser acts as a physical exfoliant by removing dead skin cells. Whirl oatmeal flakes in your blender with a little baking soda and water and you got a great soothing scrub. Or mix together 1 cup of granulated sugar with a 1/2 cup of oil (preferably almond oil) for a gentle moisturizing exfoliant. Try one tonight!

#3 – A Nutrition Tip
Which do you enjoy more – a wedge of iceberg lettuce with blue cheese on it or a Caesar salad? Did you know that romaine lettuce is far more nutritious than iceberg? According to e-Cookbooks, romaine “has three times as much Vitamin C and six times as much Vitamin A.”

#4 – Style Tips
Fashion designer Bradley Bayou’s top 5 reasons to pay more attention to accessories:
1. They change an outfit from formal to casual (and vice versa) in just a few seconds.
2. They’re more affordable than clothes.
3. They play up your sexiest assets.
4. They’re a great diversion from your flaws.
5. They can add a trendy touch to your neutral basics.

#5 – A Quote to Think About
If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
Mother Teresa

Enjoy your weekend!

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