10 Perfect Client Gift Ideas

September 12th, 2014

There are times when you want to buy your most important clients a special gift. It may be in celebrations of the holidays, for a birthday, anniversary or just to say thank you for their business.

Gifts need to be well-thought out and it is sometimes good to know your clients likes and dislikes. Buying them something they wouldn’t buy themselves because it’s too pricey is a good way to get their attention.

digital-frameHere is a list of some popular gift ideas.

  1. A digital photo frame can be a great addition to any home or office.
  2. A Kiva gift card Kiva gives you the chance to make a loan to people in over 70 countries so they can start businesses, go to school, and change their lives. Giving a Kiva Gift card involves the recipient in a truly life-changing event.
  3. Is your client a huge MLB fan?  Get them a bottle opener made from a game-used bat. The very definition of something they wouldn’t buy themselves.
  4. Smartphone accessories  like lens systems, speakers, stands and carrying cases all make great gifts.
  5. gemstoneReal gemstone drinks coasters will catch the eye!
  6. How well do you know your client? If they enjoy good wine, whiskey or tequila, a good quality bottle of one of those spirits would be very welcome.
  7. Birchbox sends out monthly boxes with high-end skin and hair care products. We know a lot of women (and some men)  who’d love that.
  8. Do you have a client who loves his or her dog to distraction? BarkBox might be the answer for a gift for the doggie lover.
  9. Dinner and a show is a classic winner for a client gift. You will want to know their tastes for this, you don’t want to send them to something too racy if they are easily shocked.

10. An exciting different idea for corporate gifts.

Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo for two

Shrimp Fettucini Alfredo for two or four

A MagicKitchen.com Food Gift Certificate is a wonderful alternative to traditional gifts. The certificate includes a personal greeting and the recipients can choose their meals from a wide range of menu options.

The gift certificates can be purchased online and are immediately available to print and send via e-mail. The certificates can be redeemed by the recipients to purchase gourmet meals or any other traditional items on the menu.

Meals are delivered nationwide in the USA.

For more information about this innovative service visit www.magickitchen.com

Diabetes Tools

September 9th, 2014

When you are diagnosed with Diabetes type 2, the first thing you need is a sort of diabetes tool kit.

That tool kit should include:

1. Recipes -  The American Diabetes Association has a large variety of diabetic recipes, and their advice is to “Focus on filling your plate with non-starchy vegetables and having smaller portions of starchy foods and meats.” Ready made diabetic meals from MagicKitchen.com follow that rule.

2. Fitness Plan – Consult your doctor before beginning any type of fitness plan. If you’ve been inactive, starting a walking or swimming program is probably best. At least a half hour a day, five days a week, and you’ll soon find yourself wanting more! A simple weight training program is good for all of use as we age, so hit the gym as well.

3. Goals – It’s very difficult to change your lifestyle all at once, but it’s extremely important to make changes for the better. Left to run its course, diabetes can lead to kidney disease, nerve problems, blindness, high blood pressure and stroke.  Make a list of things you need to do, like reduce fat in your diet, go for a walk every day, reducing stress.

Break the list down into easy, manageable, difficult. Then develop a chart or calendar for doing the things you need to do. Be proud of yourself for each hurdle you cross.

4. Get Educated! – https://www.youtube.com/user/ndepgov is a series of youtube videos that will help you to understand what needs to be done.

Here’s one of the videos:

 

 

 

Focus on filling your plate with non-starchy vegetables and having smaller portions of starchy foods and meats. – See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/create-your-plate/?loc=ff-slabnav#sthash.EkhQUupo.dpuf
Focus on filling your plate with non-starchy vegetables and having smaller portions of starchy foods and meats. – See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/create-your-plate/?loc=ff-slabnav#sthash.EkhQUupo.dpuf

Focus on filling your plate with non-starchy vegetables and having smaller portions of starchy foods and meats. – See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/create-your-plate/?loc=ff-slabnav#sthash.EkhQUupo.dpuf
Focus on filling your plate with non-starchy vegetables and having smaller portions of starchy foods and meats. – See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/create-your-plate/?loc=ff-slabnav#sthash.EkhQUupo.dpuf”

What is a Heart-Healthy Diet?

September 5th, 2014

heart-healthyA heart healthy diet is an eating plan designed to keep blood cholesterol low and prevent the risk of heart disease. This is usually achieved by eating foods that are low in saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Now, this may sound boring and not something that you would necessarily want to indulge in.

Granted, it goes without saying that we would all wish to live in a world where donuts and fried chicken are great for your heart and foods like French fries were a diet plan we all stuck to in order to shed a few pounds but unfortunately, the cruel world does not work that way. It is really sad that what keeps us healthy is a plate of broccoli and spinach but then in order to stay healthy we have to make certain sacrifices.

While we want to party and indulge in red meat and alcohol, we put our hearts at risk. Heart disease is one of the most common medical conditions but thank God for small favors. Medical practitioners, science and a heart healthy food diet have helped us come a long way in proving that heart disease is a condition that can be dealt with. Although we must agree, life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled half as good as bacon. Changing your eating habits can certainly be tough especially if you have years of unhealthy eating or you just wanted to try something different. Eating certain foods can put you at the risk of getting heart disease.

A heart healthy food diet plan is all about learning how to control your food portion size. How much you consume is just as important as what you consume. You needn’t eat until you feel stuffed-just eat enough. If it helps, you can use serving portions to measure your food intake. Eating vegetables and fruits is generally just eating healthy, not necessarily as a heart healthy diet. Vegetables are a good source of proteins and minerals  and fiber that generally help you not to eat high fat foods as often as you normally would.

whole-wheatFoods like whole grains are a well known source of fiber and nutrients. They regulate blood pressure and general heart health. The most common way to stay on a healthy diet is to limit unhealthy fats and too much cholesterol intake. Scientifically, it has been proven that a higher blood cholesterol level leads to a plaque buildup in your arteries causing arteriosclerosis which can increase a person’s chances of heart attacks. Mono-unsaturated fats like olive oil and coconut are the best kinds in any diet as they lower your cholesterol level. Heart healthy foods prevent and repair damage to cells.

Everybody is looking for that ‘special kind of food’ or ‘magic pill’. Truth is, a heart healthy diet consists of a variety of nutrients. You know, low carbs, low cholesterol, low sodium, portion-controlled meals that are encompassed into one plate. They contain the right amount of salt, carbs and calories. You have to go all-healthy if you want to cheat heart disease, and consume food in its most natural state (whole-foods). Of course, a heart healthy diet plan goes hand in hand with regular exercise and weight control. All these combined decrease the risk of getting heart diseases by 80%. There is no diet that will do what eating healthy does. It is important to take care of your body as it is the only place you have to live in.

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