The Truth about DMAA

August 28th, 2014

DMAA, a popular supplement,  is not a product you want to play around with. It’s misuse can lead to cardiovascular problems and even death!

Dimethylamylamine, also known as DMAA, is a workout supplement that promises strength, energy, power and endurance when working out in the gym. It does, however, come with warnings on the packaging to the effect that it should not be used more than 5 times per week or for longer than 8 consecutive weeks at a time.

DMAA is an active ingredient in more than 200 brand-name supplements which include Code Red, Hemo Rage Black, Jack3D and Napalm, amongst others.

In a video posted on YouTube in 2013 by Peter Slonkosky, a dedicated workout fiend, who has been taking dietary supplements for years to boost his workouts, states that one of the most powerful supplements he has ever taken is a product called Jack3D, of which DMAA is an active ingredient.

He says that even when he did not feel like training, a can of Jack3D gave him an incredible boost of energy which enabled him to work out more vigorously than normal.

He completely ignored the warnings on the packaging and continued to drink can after can for the high it gave him, similar to a little bit of speed or cocaine.

Peter has since learned of the serious health risks associated with DMAA and has stopped using Jack3D, opting instead for healthier alternatives. His mission is to encourage others to do the same.

These health risks include elevated blood pressure which can lead to cardiovascular problems, strokes, psychiatric disorders, nervous system disorders and even death. There have even been positive reports of at least 3 deaths countrywide of people using DMAA.

Illegal, but still available!

Although dietary supplements containing DMAA have been outlawed by the US FDA, products containing DMAA are still sold by retailers across the US. The FDA is doing everything in its power to remove these products from the market and as a result, the list continues to decrease with every update.

Many companies have heeded the removal calls of the FDA, and products have either been discontinued or reformulated, while others have simply disappeared from the market. In the UK and Canada it is currently completely unavailable at retail outlets.

How will consumers know if a supplement contains DMAA?

It is very important to read ingredient labels carefully before purchasing or using any dietary supplements, especially those recommended for body building.

If the product contains DMAA, it should be listed on the product label as such.

Alternatively, it could be indexed as any one of these listed below:

  • 1,3-DMAA.
  • 1,3-Dimethylamylamine.
  • 2-Amino-4-methylhexane.
  • 4-Methyl-2-hexanamine.
  • Geranamine
  • Pelargonium graveolens extract.
  • Geranium extract.

All of these may indicate that the product contains DMAA.

The chemical composition of DMAA is very similar to that of amphetamine and as a result constricts blood vessels and is also a central nervous system stimulant.

It is more than likely that the negative side effects on the cardiovascular system in particular, are caused by a combination of these factors, aggravated by simultaneous vigorous exercise which puts the heart under additional strain.

The main message about DMAA is that if you want to preserve your health and save your life, it should be avoided at all costs!

Guest Post by Eileen M.

10 Kitchen Tricks that Can Help you Out!

August 22nd, 2014
drain

1. To keep everything free-flowing, periodically pour boiling water down the drain to keep clogs from forming.

fill-bucket

2. Use a dustpan to fill a large bucket that won’t fit into your sink.

blender

3. Use a mason jar on your blender. It will fit the blade mechanism, and you can store what you blend in the mason jar!

strawberry

4. Use a straw to de-stem a strawberry.

micro

5. Add a cup under a bowl to allow you to microwave two bowls at a time.

wine

6. It’s nice to have a glass of wine while cooking. Cool warm wine by adding frozen grapes, they won’t dilute the wine.

pot

7. Place a wooden spoon over a boiling pot, to keep it from boiling over. Really works!

magneet

8. A magnet inside a metal tea canister will stick it to the fridge, for elegant-looking containers.

cd

9. Use a cd rack to organize tupperware lids.

sppon-drip

10. Put the handle of your wooden spoon in the pot handle hole, to keep it from dripping on the stove.

Why the Chimney Starter Is Better Than the Usual Charcoal Igniter

August 15th, 2014

grillThe Chimney starter is a hardy, rough-as-the wild way to light a charcoal grill. It’s like it was made for cowboys out in prairies. It is a metal cylinder with a grate set inside to hold charcoal and a bottom designed to start a fire from just about anything. It works fine with either briquettes or lumps charcoal. If you were a real cowboy, you would probably use twigs or dry leaves. Or anything else that nobody needs anymore and can catch fire without releasing a smell that might mess the aroma of a good BBQ.

For a backyard BBQ, a bunch of old newspapers works just fine.

What you do is roll a bunch of newspapers into a donut shape – so that there is space for air to flow in – and place them in the space at the bottom of the chimney starter. It’s easier to do that with the starter upside down. Then you turn the thing right side up, place whatever amount of charcoal you want and light a match. The newspapers burn easy and the smoke will immediately find its way through the charcoal. In no time, the charcoal will catch fire and you will be in business.

You can use sawdust instead of the old newspapers. And if you are not in the real outdoors – meaning you still can access cooking spray or liquid gel starters – you can spray a little of it on the newspapers or sawdust to make them burn more intensely for longer.

chimneyWhy the chimney starter beats the usual charcoal lighter

The usual, post-wild-west way of lighting a charcoal grill is to soak the charcoal with lighter fluid and set it ablaze. It works. The charcoal catches fire fairly quickly. But it is an inefficient way to get charcoal going. The charcoal burns from the top, leaving the rest of the pile just there. It means you have to spread and mix the top layer of hot coal with the rest of the charcoal, possibly using a pair of tongs.

And, of course, that means not placing all the charcoal you need in the grill in the first place – and ending up with a BBQ that takes longer to cook.

The beauty of the chimney starter is that it burns charcoal from the bottom going up. Actually, that’s why it’s called a chimney starter. It works like a chimney. The charcoal or briquettes catch fire from the underside, making it unnecessary to mess about with the charcoal with tongs.

The chimney starter also saves on charcoal. By burning from the bottom going up, it rides on the natural tendency of fire to spread upwards with the smoke. The effect is that a chimney starter will not only spread fire naturally to the upper layers of charcoal, but also use less charcoal to do the job.

But maybe the best thing about the chimney starter is that it is simply the proper way to start a BBQ. It’s a no-frills, straight to the point and all natural way to get meat grilled. Like a cowboy would have done it.

Jonah, Guest Blogger

 

Velveeta Cheese – It’s Not Real Food

August 8th, 2014
Cheese Store- Find One and Start Buying Real Cheese!

Cheese Store- Find One and Start Buying Real Cheese!

If you’re looking over your shopping list before heading to the store and you’ve got Velveeta Cheese circled and highlighted as a must-have item, cross it off your list right now. It’s not real cheese, and it’s not even real food.

But, but, but…”I love Velveeta Cheese,” you say. Your eyes glaze over with a look of bewilderment. Your memory races through countless Velveeta-inspired creations you’ve consumed like macaroni dripping with cheese, hunks of bread dipped in cheesy, bubbly fondue, and chocolate fudge with Velveeta Cheese as the secret ingredient. Your mouth begins to salivate like Pavlov’s dog at the very thought of tearing away the foil wrapper on a new block of Velveeta Cheese.

When the idea of saying goodbye to Velveeta Cheese forever enters your mind, you get defensive. Deep down, you’ve always known this edible door stop as heavy as a brick was nothing short of a heart attack in a box. Seriously, do you even have to ask if this stuff is healthy?

Walk into any weight loss clinic in America, and you’re bound to find a block of body fat used to give people a visual of what packing around too much weight really looks like. Oddly enough, a carefully molded block of body fat looks a lot like that block of Velveeta Cheese you were thinking about buying.

“But it’s made from milk,” you murmur. Hardly, it’s only 2 percent milk and the rest is largely a mixture of saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. These are three ingredients that give dietitians nightmares, remind doctors to keep their tools sharpened for an endless procession of open heart bypass surgeries, and block your arteries like Germany’s soccer team protecting their goal from Argentina.

Need a little more food for thought? Velveeta Cheese is sold as a “pasteurized prepared cheese product.” It’s not a dairy product, and it’s not even real food. It’s an entirely processed substance created in a lab and designed to entertain your palate. And despite what you may have been telling yourself for years, it isn’t healthy. It’s time for this fake cheese to melt away and never return.

Evan, MagicKitchen.com blogger

Note: if you need to eat a great warm cheese dip with tortilla chips, try this one: Proper Queso Dip - from someone who agrees with us, the very funny Marie Porter

 

 

 

10 Food Buzzwords we are Sick of!

August 1st, 2014

Food marketing is an activity that has been there since time immemorial. But have you ever thought that buying food should not be so complicated? All the labels that go with it take the fun out of shopping, and at times, eating. People eat to live; we get the whole concept but as with anything, when overused, it becomes overrated; even diet buzzwords. The sound of these diet words make us cringe:

  1. Heirloom Tomatoes

    Heirloom Tomatoes

    Heirloom

At one point, heirloom tomatoes really were heirloom- old seeds that had been rediscovered and grown, so that you had an amazing looking fruit that no-one had seen for years. Now it’s used for every tomato out there that’s just maybe fresh picked or really ripe, and everything else from cheeses to corn. Time to give this word a pass.

  1. Natural

We get it; all-natural foods are always preferable over others. But whether you are dieting or not, isn’t everything we eat natural first then processed later? Basically the FDA allows a company to call a product natural as long as it doesn’t have added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances. So beware of what you’re getting. Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream is all natural, but not necessarily good for you!

  1. Fresh

Granted, everybody loves fresh food but how many times do you buy something “fresh” at the convenient store or the grocery only to get home and find out it is stale? What if different labels like “baked today” or “arrived yesterday” were used? Truth in advertising!

4. Probiotic

Oh, marketers, you did a good job with this one! Suddenly everything is marked probiotic. Yogurt has had these beneficial bacteria for centuries, but suddenly certain brands had better ones, or more of them. I say shut up and eat your yogurt.

Organic Farmer

Organic Farmer

5. Organic

Organic can be good! But much organic produce doesn’t actually come from small farms, as you may picture it. It comes from huge factory farms that don’t necessarily take care of the environment. It is only a small definition that tells farm management what types of substances can be put on their fields.

6. Antioxidants

They are important because they help in protecting against heart diseases but all fruits and vegetables have antioxidants. Eating pomegranates isn’t going to save your life. Eat sensibly.

7. Junk Food

Everybody knows…continuous eating of junk foods is bad for your overall health. We know these kinds of food add little to no nutritional value to the body but there’s no need to label them as ‘junk’. They can actually get you through a bad day or heartache.

8. 12-grain bread

It sounds healthy, and crunchy, but in reality unless it’s really whole grain it may not be very good for you. As 12 grain (or any grain) bread could have sugar and all kinds of preservatives. Be wise, look at labels.

9. “Eat Clean”

This is a common phrase used in marketing various diet foods. It is annoying in a sense because someone would think they are demonizing the usual foods we eat on normal basis. Food is not “unclean”.

10. Healthy

As the saying goes, one man’s meat is another man’s poison. When it comes to diet foods, this saying is literal. Healthy is a relative word. Staying healthy is crucial, but one does not have to eat by the book…bend the rules a little every now and then.

Wine Pairing Infographic

July 29th, 2014

Ever wondered what to match with different foods? This infographic on wine pairing should help you out!

Wine Pairing Infographic

How to Sleep When it’s Too Hot

July 25th, 2014

The glorious summer days always come with a downside-hot nights that make it unbearable to sleep. Sleeping when it’s too hot outside without any air conditioner can be quite difficult. Of course it takes longer to fall asleep on a hot night and when you actually do, all the tossing and turning makes it hard to stay asleep. It’s when insomnia kicks in. While air conditioning might be a common solution to hot nights, it jacks up the electrical bills. Fortunately, there are other ways to cool off for the night…

  1. Increasing air circulation

windowThis can be done by opening all the windows facing different directions or setting up a fan. Increasing circulation will help you remain cooler as the warn air will carry away excess heat from your warmer body.

  1. Get loose

Instead of sleeping nude, which many people believe helps them cool off quickly, wear your lightest pajamas-most preferably those made out of loose, soft cotton.

  1. Be a loner

Unfortunately for lovebirds, sleeping alone is one of many ways to stay cool. Cuddling with a partner is without a doubt comfortable but on the downside, it will most definitely increase body heat making it even more uncomfortable sleeping through the night.

  1. Stay hydrated

A glass of water a day sure keeps insomnia away! Drink a glass of water before going to bed. Tossing, sweating and turning in bed cause dehydration and increases body heat. However, water has a surprising cooling effect.

  1. Take a cold shower

bamboo-matThere is nothing more refreshing than a cold shower in the summer heat. It gives a new meaning to cold and clean. It will help you stay surprisingly relaxed and keep the heat away.

  1. Go rustic

Trade your very comfortable mattress for a straw or a bamboo mat. Of course, all-natural sleeping surfaces are less comfortable but unlike comfy mattresses, they do not retain a lot of heat.

  1. Use Ice

Place a very large container filled with ice in front of your fan. The fan will push the cool air around and this can actually make a big difference.

Other ways to remain cool involve using a cool, damp cloth on your feet and your head as those are the places that mostly affect your body temperature, and building a solar air conditioner, see below.

During the day, keep the windows and shades completely closed. Contrary to what people believe about opening windows, keeping them closed during the day helps in reducing the overall room temperature.

Try these tips and tricks and you will be pleasantly surprised about how easy it is to enjoy sleep, any day, every day.

 

~Guest Blogger Louisa

The 1970’S – How did we communicate?

July 18th, 2014

Leaving the sixties behind.

The 1970’s are famous for bell-bottom trousers and the rise of the insanely popular disco dancing. It was also the time when the sensational TV series about rich people behaving badly, ‘Dallas’ and ‘Dynasty’ were launched. The Rambo action films which became something of a cult, also made an appearance.

Richard Nixon, the first and so far only American president to resign from office, stepped down in 1974, thanks to the Watergate scandal.

During the seventies, the US economy went in a recession as interest rates and inflation rose to new highs. Because of Middle East tensions, there was a shortage of imported oil, which had the potential to lead to drama on the highways and byways!

The sixties were full of hippies and protestors, and hippie fashions and values had a major effect on the culture of the time. Hippie culture has never died out completely, but by the mid-seventies it was no longer as prominent.

The civil rights, women’s rights and gay activists who campaigned throughout the sixties, also saw real progress towards their goals as the sixties were left behind, and we moved on into the seventies.

Communication in the seventies.

Long before the rise of the internet and all the current social media platforms, people found some innovative ways to use technology to communicate with each other. An early example of this is a long distance marriage ceremony conducted over the telegraph. With the bride in Boston and the groom in New York, telegraph operators transmitted the couple’s vows and the words of the magistrate performing the ceremony, over the wires. This took place in 1849 and was certainly the world’s first ever electronic network connecting people in an intimate way!

Here are some popular means of communication used in the decade of the 1970’s.

  • Letters. People wrote letters to each other, even when they lived in the same city or town. They wrote full words and sentences, without current abbreviations such as OMG or LOL! The post office was fantastic and mail was delivered within a day or two of sending it.
  • Telephone. There were no mobile phones, so callers used landlines and answering machines. But the push-button phone came into vogue in the ’70′s, very stylish!
  • Telex and telegram. These were used for urgent messages.
  • Fax machine. The arrival of the fax machine in 1973 revolutionised electronic communication services. Similar to the e mail of today, delivery was immediate. It was touted by some as being the eighth wonder of the world!
  • Typewriters. Those clanky old machines were the high-tech business machine of the decade. Away with the manual typewriters, in with electric ones! It was a big advance.
  • Computers. There were personal computers in the 1970′s, and even modems for communication, usually on “Bulletin Boards”. It could take ten minutes for your modem to transfer a comment from your computer to a board, so patience was a virtue.
  • Of course, people still visited family and friends, to impart news face to face!

A magical time!

The seventies was indeed a magical period. It  led us into the awesome technological advances of the next 20 years.

The communication wheel has certainly turned since the lazy, uncomplicated days of communicating with people in the seventies. Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

A Pantry Makeover

July 11th, 2014

Is your pantry a  mess like mine is? Then you’ll want to keep reading, as I give you ten tips for a pantry makeover that will leave your pantry fresh and organized.

1. Some people like these cool baskets, but I find they become a repository for all kinds of junk. I suggest getting at least a couple of bottle baskets (shown on the right), which have dividers to separate and organize your stuff.

basketbottle basket

 

2. Color! To make your pantry fun and fabulous, pick a  color and paint the shelves, then apply a vinyl backing to the wall behind the shelves to make it pop. (or vice-versa- the vinyl on the shelves and paintspice on the back!)

3. If you can afford it, buy some airtight containers. You can store rice, couscous, grains, sugar, cereals and so much more, and they’ll stay fresh. You can even write cooking instructions on the containers,  taping on  a piece of paper or typing up a large label. Or cut the cooking instructions off the bag and tape it on. Look for them at garage sales or dollar stores as well.

4. Arrange items so like is by like. Have part of a shelf with flours, baking powder, baking soda, yeast, brown sugar and vanilla for those baking days.  Put all the canned goods together, and all the spices on one shelf. Extra drinks such as soda, water bottles and flavored mixes can go together, as can crackers, cookies and other snacks.

5. Are you like me, with a ton of spices, none of which you want to give up? Or do you have just a few old favorites you keep by the stove? If you’re a spice maniac like me, here are a couple of ideas for organizing them so you can see them all.

a. Find a lot of little jars that will for into a drawer. Fill the jars with your various spices and label the tops. The excess can go into the freezer, where the spices will keep quite well. Here’s a wonderful, clever way to do this: Chalkboard spice jars

chalk

b. If you have a little bit of carpentry skill, you can make a spice rack for a shelf. This will work really well on your pantry shelf.

rack

c. A lot of people like the tiny magnetic spice jars.

spices

6. Put rarely used items on the top shelf. But only if they’re light, you don’t want  a creuset in the head. :) Put buckets, sponges, plastic basins, platters you only use once ins a while, and.. let’s be honest… the quinoa you may never cook again.

7.  Don’t make your shelves too deep, or you’ll lose the stuff in the back. This may seem really obvious, but put taller stuff in the back, shorter items near the front.

8. Use the back of your pantry door if you have one.  Buy an over the door storage rack.

9. Leave the bottom shelf deep, so you can store those kitchen things you don’t use often but are too heavy for the top shelf. Think deep-fryer, juicer, toaster oven, turkey roaster..

10. Finally, get a cookie sheet organizer, and stand those sheets and cutting boards upright for easier access!

divider

Enjoy the project , and send pictures!!

 

 

Summer Cocktails

July 4th, 2014

Before you begin making cocktails at home, check into this cocktail-making guide. It will tell you everything you need to know to make restaurant quality cocktails at home. Now, you’re ready to make these amazingly refreshing 8 summer cocktails.

Margarita: Of course you’ll want to start with a blended Margarita, the quintessential summer drink.

Almost every recipe out there is wrong. This Margarita recipe is almost perfect, except the secret ingredient is to add a splash of orange juice. Now the secret’s out.

lines

LimeMargarita
Mojito: The classic and very refreshing drink from Cuba is easy to make.
Take 12 fresh mint leaves, drop them into a tall, heavy glass, and “Muddle” them. (Wish you’d read that ‘making cocktails’ article I  mentioned now, don’t you?) That just means squishing them around until they release their oils.Then add juice from 1 lime, 2 Tbsp of simple syrup, add 1½ oz white rum, stir, then add  about a cup of ice.
Fill the glass with cold soda water and stir. Add small sprigs of mint as a garnish.

mint

 mojito
 Carpe Diem: It’s Latin for “Seize the Day”, and this drink will definitely grab you.Thanks to Gourmet Traveler Magazine for the recipe.

cukes

 carpe-diem
 Tiki Tai: Slightly spicy, orange-flavored, and deceptively strong, this refreshing summer cocktail is exotic and fabulous.2 oz Bacardi Spiced Rum
1 oz Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
1 oz lime juice
1 oz agave nectar
1 ½ oz orange juice
2 dashes of Angostura bittersDirections: Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake well and pour into 2 tall glasses filled with ice. Add orange wedges. Serves 1.
 tiki-tai
 Pink Firework Lemonade2 oz Vodka
2 oz Fresh Lemon Sour
1 oz Cranberry Juice
2 Maraschino Cherries
3 oz SodaInstructionsPour all ingredients except soda into a cocktail shaker. Shake well and pour into 2 tall glasses filled with ice. Serves 2.
 pink
Watermelon Daiquiri: That old fashioned daiquiri is passé. Now watermelon makes it exciting!3 cups cubed seedless watermelon
Half of a container of frozen limeade  concentrate, thawed
2 oz light rum
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
2 cups ice cubesIn a blender combine the 3 cups fruit, the limeade concentrate, rum, and powdered sugar. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour over a glass of ice. Serves 2.
 daquiri
 White Sangria: 
3 bottles dry white Spanish wine
1 cup brandy
¾ cup simple syrup
¾ cup Triple Sec
3 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
2 lemons, thinly sliced
3 oranges, thinly sliced
4 fresh ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
IceIn a 2-gallon container, stir together the first four ingredients. Add apple, lemon, orange, and peach slices. Refrigerate for 2 hours; serve over ice.
 sangria
 Cool Blue Hawaiian: 3 oz light rum
2 oz blue Curaçao
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup  canned cream of coconut
3 cups ice cubes

Blend everything in a blender until smooth

Garnish with a a pineapple wedge or a Maraschino cherry.

 cool-blue