All posts by magickitchen

Essential, Yet Old School Home Exercise Equipment

Our lives continually seem to be dominated by technology that changes on an almost daily basis, and home exercise equipment is not immune to this phenomenon.  The current trend is to connect the equipment to that internet machine in order to run, or bike, or row, or swim (well, maybe not swim) in various locales across the globe with other people from various locales across the globe with a remote trainer providing the motivation.  However, many believe, myself included, that when it comes to exercising, there’s no school like the old school.

I tend to view this debate in a similar manner to that classic pugilistic and cinematic masterpiece, Rocky IV.  As I’m sure you recall, Rocky decides to travel to Russia to train and then fight Ivan Drago, who had just killed the object of Rocky’s bromance, Apollo Creed.  The training regimes of the two rivals were diametrically opposed.

Rocky trained in Siberia with horse collars, rocks, a horse-drawn wagon, ropes, snow, and mountains, in other words, like a 19th century hermit.  Drago, on the other hand, had the most technologically advanced equipment known to man, all connected to computer diagnostics to measure his every step and punch (Oh yeah, and steroids too).  The moral of the story?  (SPOILER ALERT) Old school exercise equipment is superior to new school as Rocky prevailed, obviously, due to his Neanderthal-like training methods.

So, with the example of Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago fresh in our minds, here are three perfect examples of antiquated pieces of equipment that should be in every home gym.

  1. A heavy bag – Yes, I realize in Rocky I, that Rocky eschewed the heavy bag in favor of a side of beef. However, few of us have a future brother-in-law (Paulie) to provide us access to a meat packing company.  That being the case, a heavy bag will have to suffice.  This simple piece of equipment, if used properly, provides both cardiovascular and weight-training benefits, especially if you bring mixed martial arts into your workout.  And while most equate a heavy bag with just an upper-body workout, it can also provide a great core workout, which is all the rage in the training world.  For beginning heavy bag workouts, check this out: http://livehealthy.chron.com/heavy-bag-workout-routines-beginners-6313.html 
  2. Medicine balls – To my knowledge, there is no video evidence that Rocky ever trained with medicine balls, but perhaps that footage was simply omitted from his various training montages. Please notice that it’s balls, rather than “ball.”  Medicine balls come in a variety of weights in order to provide a range of workouts, from intense cardiovascular to weight training.  Here’s a list of 25 medicine ball workouts that will get your heart pumping and your core…well, doing what a core should do: http://greatist.com/fitness/25-must-try-medicine-ball-exercises
  1. An air bike – No, they haven’t invented a bike that can fly…yet. Air bikes have been around for decades, long before spinning classes became more popular than actually riding a real bike.  The concept is quite simple, the harder you pedal, the more resistance created by that huge fan that serves as the air bike’s front wheel.Combine the cycling motion with handle bars that oscillate in conjunction with the pedals and you’ve just incorporated your upper-body into your workout.  And they are generally much less expensive than a technologically advanced stationary bike.  If you must train with a screen, simply place the air bike in front of your console television set.  Again, there is no known footage of Rocky training on an air bike.  However, Rocky does pull his trainer, Mick, while Mick sits upon an adult tricycle in Rocky II.  Here’s some more info on air bikes: http://dailyburn.com/life/fitness/air-bike-hiit-workout/

So if you’re looking for some cost effective (cheap) exercise equipment that has seen a recent resurgence in popularity, due to their muscular and cardiovascular benefits, then look at any or all of the three above examples.  Yo, Adrian!

facebooktwitterpinterest

It’s Spring, Get Outside: 8 Outdoor Activities for Seniors

Have you noticed that the heat is coming on less and less in your home?  If not, just look at your last heating bill.  And in our world of cause and effect, the cause is increased outdoor temperatures and the effect SHOULD be increased outdoor activities on your part.  Outdoor activity is the panacea for cabin fever and you don’t even need to fill a prescription.

Look, I’m sure you’re aware about the benefits of regular physical activity, but what about the benefits of regular “outdoor” physical activity?  Humans have an innate connection and attraction to nature which is referred to as biophilia and too many of us attempt to resist that connection.  Yet another fact: less than 3% of America’s senior population attains the recommende
d 2.5 hours of physical activity per week, and that can have dangerous consequences.

Some of the benefits of outdoor activity are more obvious than others, such as increased exposure to sunlight which exposes us to vitamin D which improves brain, bone and muscle functions (just beware of overexposure…as with everything else, moderation is best).

However, studies have also shown that regular outdoor activity improves our health and well-being and improves our physical, emotional and cognitive functioning.  So, keeping all this in mind, here are eight outdoor activities we all should do more of:

  1. Tai Chi – Before you think I’m getting all “Karate Kid” on you, let me explain. Yes, tai chi began as a defensive martial art, but it has since evolved into a balletic activity of continuous, gentle movements.  It’s different from yoga in that with yoga you hold a pose (sleeping dog) for a short period of time, while with tai chi, you’re in continuous motion, albeit, at a slow pace.  Locate a “tai chi in the park” group in your area, or simply access the internet machine, learn the basics and head to your backyard.
  1. Search for gold — …with a metal detector. And no, it doesn’t have to be on a beach.  Grab your metal detector and head to the local park or historical site and you’ll be amazed at the objects that are lying around out there.  Here’s am interesting article that offers examples of successful treasure hunts and can help get you started: https://www.wired.com/2011/08/treasure-hunters/
  1. Picnics – Grab your basket, blanket, chicken salad sandwiches, your favorite companions and locate an out-of-the-way picnic spot, preferably on a level, grassy area near a babbling brook. Just ensure that getting to that spot requires some walking to get there.  You’ll be amazed how relaxing this activity is and how the conversation flows when you’re away from a screen.
  1. Yard games – Hit the backyard or park for a rousing round of horseshoes, bocce ball, croquet or badminton. These games are perfect for bringing out the competitor in all of us and can be a great way to reconnect with friends and/or family members.  Side note: I understand the safety aspect, but I truly miss “Jarts,” the yard game that involved plastic circles and metal tipped lawn darts…just sayin’.
  1. Be a tourist – even in your own hometown. Go on a historical walking tour, visit the zoo or botanical gardens or downtown area or local, state, or national parks or Civil War battlefields or any other outdoor place that interests you.
  1. Bird watch – Yeah, I know, I used this one in my fall outdoor activities post, but it’s perhaps even more relevant in the spring as birds become more active as they prepare to bring the next generation of our avian friends into the world. The few birders I know are extremely passionate about their hobby and tend to record just about every aspect of their sightings, to include the species (of course), and when, where, and under what weather conditions the sighting occurred.  This is one of those hobbies that permits various levels of immersion, but its seems to have some addictive qualities, and, in this instance, that’s not a bad thing.
  1. Gardening This activity is perfect for the spring for obvious reasons and there’s nothing more satisfying than eating delicious and healthy food you planted and cultivated yourself. And if you live in an apartment or senior community that does not offer space for this activity, move…just kidding.  There are many places that rent small plots for a nominal fee.
  1. Stroll through a local farmer’s, flea or craft markets – The larger the better. Heck, this one doesn’t even seem like an outdoor exercise, but it most certainly is.  Remember, all that’s required to reap the benefits is getting outside and slightly raising your heart and breathing rate for a moderate period of time, and wandering through a massive flea market in search of hidden treasures certainly qualifies.

One last note, try to do these activities with a group of friends or family members and do so on a regular schedule.  Also, use the group to coerce (or shame) each other to get out there and find that Baltimore Oriole, or practice tai chi like Anne Hathaway and Robert de Niro in “The Intern,” or go in search of lost jewelry, or weed the garden, or watch the handlers feed the elephants, or whack that shuttlecock around, or pack that picnic basket.  Hell, just get outside and be active.  You’ll be glad you did.

facebooktwitterpinterest

For the Mom Who Has Everything…

Yes, it’s coming, like a shark’s dorsal fin speeding through the water that can’t be stopped…duuuh-nah……..…..duuuuh-nah……………duuuh-nah, duuuh-nah…………….duh-nah, duh-nah, duh-nah, duh-nah………dunn, dunn, dunn, dunn, dunn, dunn (yes, that’s my poor attempt to put the theme to Jaws into words, sorry).  Of course, that dorsal fin represents Mother’s Day, which arrives on Sunday, May 14th.  But don’t panic, at least not yet, because here are some unique gift ideas for the mother that has everything, I mean, after all, she has you!

Something different – Now, of course these gifts are not for all moms as we all know, every mom is different.  But here’s a sampling of some interesting gift ideas.

  • Drunken owl wine bottle holder – I don’t know why, but every time I look at this thing it makes me smile. Maybe it’s because it’s such a random animal (I mean an owl?) and it looks like a baby drinking a bottle…is that creepy?  Hopefully it will make your mom smile too.  Check it out here: http://www.homewetbar.com/drunken-owl-wine-bottle-holder-p-4187.html
  • Dawn redwood Bonsai forest – Rather than flowers, why not get your mom something that will last quite a while and is perfect for a table center and conversation piece? And it looks really cool.  Here it is: http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/dawn-redwood-bonsai-forest

  • A personalized smart phone case – Wouldn’t you like your mom to always carry a picture of her favorite child (you) in the form of a smart phone case? Well, all you need to do is go here and design a case that’s perfect for your perfect mother: https://www.mycustomcase.com/

  • Literary candles – I think, genetically, once a woman becomes a mother they immediately become candle aficionados. I don’t question this strange phenomenon, I just cater to it.  That being the case, here are some unique scents for the candle and literature loving mom in your life that are linked to Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre, and Pride and Prejudice (and zombies…yes, a book was written and a movie produced entitled “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I neither read the book nor viewed the movie).  Peruse them here: http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/literary-candles

  • Time saving and delicious meals from MagicKitchen.com – The last thing you want your mother doing on her day is cooking, or on any other special or non-special day for that matter. Have the Mother’s Day meal delivered to her (or your) door and save her (or you) a great deal of time and hassle.  MagicKitchen permits you to customize your meal and also offers delectable “bundles” to include Gourmet, Customer Favorites, Homestyle, and Top-Rated bundles.  Have your Pavlovian (you know, that Russian dude that conditioned a poor dog to salivate at the sound of a bell) moment here: http://www.magickitchen.com/menu/mothers-day.html

“Make” her something – And no, I’m not referring to like a dining room table or a back porch or something, unless she really needs either of those two things.  I was thinking of something a bit more personal, something that she wants rather than needs, something intimately linked to you, her and your family.

Here’s a quick example: last year I semi-learned how to play the guitar (no, I didn’t go so far as to write the music and lyrics to a sappy “I Love You Mom” type song).  My mother, as she constantly reminds me, was born in Ireland and we immigrated to the US back in 1968.  Anyway, despite becoming an American citizen, she has missed her homeland ever since.

So last year, I learned to play and sing (terribly, I might add) “Danny Boy” and I played and sang it for her on Mother’s Day.  Yes, I missed a few notes and sang REALLY off key.  However, by the time I was done, she had a tear on her cheek and a smile on her face.  She then exclaimed it was the most thoughtful Mother’s Day gift I had ever bestowed upon her in my 51 years on this earth.  I then asked her “why?” and she simply said, in her fading Irish accent, “Because you put some thought into the gift and “made” it just for me.  Nothing’s more personal than that.”

I firmly believe that you can do the same thing for your mother…not play and sing Danny Boy, but make her something with your mind and two hands.  Write her a poem, or a song, or a play, or a rap song, or a short story about you, her and your family.  Create a photo essay or a humorous, yet poignant power point presentation that you present to her and the whole family or montage with old family photos.

Draw or paint your family or an old house you all lived in, or her favorite place she likes to sit and think, or an old pet.  Throw (as on a pottery wheel, not literally “throw”) a flower pot or coffee mug for her.  Plant a tree for her, or her favorite plant, flowering bush, or perennial.  Create a short movie for her with your smart phone.  Just use your imagination, make the gift personal to her and try to make her laugh and cry at the same time.  She’ll love you even more for it, if that’s possible.

facebooktwitterpinterest

The Obscure Origins of April Fool’s Day

You’ve all heard the stories, right?  From the fooler or foolee that executed or was victimized by the ultimate April Fool’s joke.  Hell, it was only a year ago that I regaled readers of this blog about my wife and her mother “fooling” me into believing that we were on the verge of birthing triplets, to include ancestral proof and an ultrasound video of the trio.

Another classic April Fool’s story was applied on a national scale when sportswriter, George Plimpton, wrote of New York Mets fireball pitcher, Sidd Finch, in the April 1, 1985 edition of Sports Illustrated.

Plimpton claimed that Finch was raised in an English orphanage, studied Buddhism, and could throw a baseball an astounding 168 miles-per-hour.  Mets fans were ecstatic, networks and newspapers rushed to interview the yoga-practicing phenomenon, and batters feared for their lives.  And it was all a hoax conceived by Plimpton, Sports Illustrated and (gasp!) even the Mets were in on it.  All involved came clean in the April 15th issue.  But where and how did this tradition of fooling people begin?  And why on April 1st?

Let’s answer the second question first.  The month of April is named after the Greek goddess of wit, mirth and laughter, Aprilis.  Aprilis was the daughter of Aphrodite (goddess of love and pleasure, among other things) and Dionysus (god of wine, parties and ecstasy among other things).  With a lineage like that, it’s easy to understand why Aprilis was fond of a god-awful good time.

Zeus eventually tasked Aprilis with making him laugh at other’s expense.  In other words, he had Aprilis use her significant humorous wit to develop and initiate practical jokes on the other gods and goddesses.

Aprilis once famously replaced Hades’ fearsome, three-headed dog, Cerberus, with a fluffy, three-headed bunny named Mazeménos, which roughly translates to “cuddly.”  Simultaneously, she convinced her father to replace the deadly waters of the River Styx with wine which the damned promptly used throw a massive party during which they all became thoroughly inebriated.  Hades failed to see the humor in all this.  However, Zeus laughed his ass off.  Now that we know the answer to the first query, let’s tackle the second.

During the Renaissance, when the artists, authors and royalty of Europe re-discovered the works of ancient Greece, some came across the stories of the heretofore obscure minor goddess, Aprilis.  One future king who reveled in the exploits of Aprilis was Henry VIII of England.

Before Henry wed six different women and had two of them beheaded, he was an impetuous youth with too much time on his hands, which could probably be said of many princes.  After all, he had an older brother, Arthur, who would ascend to the English throne rather than Henry.  Therefore, as the second born male heir, Henry was pretty much left to do as he pleased.

Young Henry quickly fell in with his father’s court jester, Stephen.  A quick word about Renaissance court jesters, or “fools” as they were sometimes called.  They certainly were not vacuous, dim-witted men prancing around in tights and a four-cornered hat complete with bells, juggling beer steins while telling crude jokes.  A Jester was, in fact, a highly intelligent individual chosen for his rapier-like wit and ability to challenge all at court with his biting sarcasm and humorous insults.  Sounds a bit like the goddess of wit, mirth and laughter, does it not?

Anyway, young Henry and Stephen had a grand time “punking” any and all members of Henry VII’s court.  And Stephen, with the protection of the young prince, was able to get away with murder, so-to-speak.  Even after Henry’s older brother, Arthur, died in 1502, making Henry next in line to the throne, he kept Stephen close and used him as an unofficial adviser.

However, this relationship displeased many at court, including Henry’s father who considered Stephen a nuisance at best and a corrupting influence on Henry at worst.  Eventually, Henry VIII’s father had the Duke of Leister accuse Stephen of treasonous activities.  A show trial ensued and Stephen was locked away in the Tower of London in 1508, never to be seen again.  His fate, to this day, remains unknown.

After Henry VIII ascended to the throne in 1509 and throughout his reign, he never forgot his childhood friend who could so easily make him laugh.  As Henry wrestled with the affairs of church and state, he often remembered those carefree days spent with Stephen as they roamed the halls and rooms at Windsor Castle and Hampton Court.  It is believed that largely due to these memories, Henry desired to set aside a special day in which practical jokes were not only accepted, but encouraged, in honor of his first and only true friend, Stephen.

And what better day to celebrate the memory of Stephen, than on the first day of the month named after the goddess of wit, mirth and laughter, Aprilis?  So there you have it, the long, convoluted and somewhat touching story of the origins of April Fool’s Day.  And yes, this entire story is a total work of fiction in the tradition of the tale of Sidd Finch.  I have no idea of the true origins of April Fool’s Day as I feared if I did know the true facts, they would seep into this fictionalized version.  Happy April Fool’s Day.

facebooktwitterpinterest

Kale, Avocado and Chia Seeds are Out: The Top Ten Superfoods of 2017

In case you haven’t heard, 2016 superfoods are, like, so last year.  We’re well into 2017 and it’s time to update your superfood list and we here at MagicKitchen.com are here to help.

Through exhaustive and laborious research (don’t think I’ve ever done anything exhaustively and/or laboriously in my life) we’ve compiled a list of the ten most popular superfoods for 2017.  Some we’re sure you’ve heard of before (watermelon seeds) and some, while having been around for all of eternity, are just having their nutritional values “discovered” (sumac, maringa & the alien sounding sacha inchi nuts).

Remember, this is just a superficial description of each, for more information, simply “Google” each one.  And without further ado, here they are:

  1. Watermelon seeds – These things are on just about every superfood site I visited during my laborious and exhaustive research and each site claimed they will not sprout and grow in your tummy if eaten. They do, however, provide mad nutritional benefits if eaten only after they sprout (outside your stomach) and are shelled prior to being eaten.  Not to worry, you don’t have to do that yourself as they can be purchased that way.  As for their nutritional benefits, they offer ten grams of protein per ounce, and are chock full of vitamin B, magnesium and both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
  1. Raw cacao nibs – A synonym for “nibs” would be bits or pieces. Just think of this as chocolate without all the other stuff, especially sugar.  Raw cacao contains numerous flavonoids which serve as an anti-inflammatory and support both the cardiovascular and nervous systems.  Flavonoids also provide many fruits and veggies with their rich colors, such as the vibrant red of raspberries.  Other nutrients contained within cacao include magnesium and riboflavin.
  1. Buckwheat – No, not the lovable character from Our Gang/The Little Rascals that Eddie Murphy immortalized in Saturday Night Live skits from the 1980s, but the gluten-free flour substitute used to make pancakes, among other things. Buckwheat (there’s actually no wheat in buckwheat.  It’s a fruit seed.) is a great source of vegetarian protein, dietary fiber, and manganese.  It’s also been shown to help control blood sugar levels and protect against heart disease.
  1. Purple Vegetables – And not just eggplants and beets, but corn, carrots, and asparagus too. Why?  Well, it goes back to those antioxidants called flavonoids that provide these veggies with their color that the musician Prince (RIP) most certainly ate in large amounts.  These flavonoids help lower the risk of high blood pressure, reduce inflammation and support brain health and since they’re also rich in vitamin A they support eye health as well.
  1. Chaga mushrooms – Usually found in dried or powder form, chaga isn’t a true mushroom, but a fungus that grows on birch trees…before you gross out, remember, all mushrooms are, technically, a fungus. Derived from the Russian word for “mushroom,” chaga contains over 200 phytonutrients and flavonoids that support the immune system.  Other nutrients contained in chaga (which is often used to make tea or coffee) are B and D vitamins, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and pantothenic acid.

  1. Sacha inchi nuts – AKA Incan peanuts as they’re found in the Peruvian highlands. These plant seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamins A and E.  These nutrients have been shown to control blood glucose levels, lower LDL cholesterol levels and support brain and heart health.

 

  1. Jackfruit – As opposed to a jackass (sorry, couldn’t resist). The tropical, starchy, fibrous jackfruit is the largest fruit on the globe.  A single jackfruit can weigh in at more than 100 pounds.  It can be used by vegetarians, or even carnivores and omnivores for that matter, as a meat substitute (Mmmmm, jackfruit steak).  It tends to absorb the flavor of what it’s cooked with and provides its consumer with various flavonoids, protein, potassium, fiber, vitamins B and A, and iron.
  1. Maringa – The tiny leaves of the maringa tree, native to India but also found in Africa, Asia and South and Central America, are showing up in smoothies all over the Western world and with good reason. They are a very nutrient dense source of vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, protein, potassium and antioxidants that combat stress causing free radicals within the body.
  1. Sumac – This Middle Eastern spice (not the “poison” version we deal with in the U.S.) has a tart and salty taste and has been found to be stuffed full of antioxidants and serves as a great salt substitute as well. These free radical neutralizing, anti-inflammatory antioxidants also promote heart health. Many simply sprinkle the red powder on their salads, pasta or rice, but others use it to flavor their meat and fish as well.
  1. Black Currants – The tart berry, not a dark running river or stream of electricity…get it?…were once thought to spread a fungus that killed pine trees (that’s not the case). They’re most often used in jams, jellies, juices, and health drinks and contain what all the other foods on this list do…antioxidants, but they also possess vitamins C, A and E, gamma-linolenic acid, and anthocyanins.  These nutrients help support healthy immune and cardiovascular systems.

So, after writing this, I immediately made and consumed a purple carrot, black currant, maringa, sumac, buckwheat, raw cacao, sacha inchi nut, watermelon seed, chaga mushroom, and jackfruit smoothie and soon after developed the combined superpowers of the Hulk, Spiderman and Wonder Woman.  Individual results may vary.

facebooktwitterpinterest

Easter Means Spring, So Eat Like it!

Easter is, of course, a deeply religious holiday for Christians across the country and many observe it in reflection at their house of worship, followed by a rare, sit-down meal with friends and family.  And it is to the latter that this post is focused.  A theologian I am not.

Easter also serves a secondary purpose, just as Memorial Day ushers in summer and Labor Day ushers it out, Easter signifies the end of winter and the arrival (or imminent arrival, depending when it falls on the calendar), of spring.  And spring usually means a change in our eating habits from filling, winter comfort food to lighter, healthier, more active fare.

With this in mind, perhaps we should look for alternatives to the traditional ham or lamb, scalloped or au gratin potatoes, veggie casseroles, and dessert cakes for our Easter meal.  So here are some of those alternatives to consider.

Salads

This is the perfect opportunity to meld the two things that most represent spring: fruits and vegetables…with a light dressing such as vinaigrette, sesame ginger, or garlic balsamic.  Spinach and strawberries always work well together and other fruits that work well in an otherwise veggie salad are grapes, raspberries, diced pear, avocado, mango, cranberries…oh hell, just about any fruit works in a green salad and the same could be said for nuts…walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, etc.

Appetizers

Is it not time to ditch the deviled egg appetizer that everyone thinks is so cute after the kids have spent the morning hunting those same eggs (How did eggs get associated with Easter anyway?  It’s not like Easter bunnies lay eggs).  How about a nice avocado or hummus dip or spicy salsa?  Or some roasted edamame and/or artichoke hearts, or cauliflower wings (essentially cauliflower wedges dipped in various wing sauces.) Martha Stewart, as always, has some great ideas here http://www.marthastewart.com/275143/lighter-appetizer-recipes

Entrées

I guess this subtitle should have read “entrées other than ham or lamb.”  For the vegans/vegetarians in the crowd, a nice eggplant Parmesan, veggie lasagna or pasta primavera (primavera means spring in many romance languages, after all) would be to die for.  For the carnivores, a nice slab of roasted or poached salmon is a great alternative as is a nice baked chicken dish.  Here are some other great ham/lamb alternatives  http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/19868/holidays-occasions/easter/dinner/

And of course, you can always order ready made meals at MagicKitchen.com.

Desserts

I think it goes without saying that I’m not referring to chocolate bunnies, peeps (you know, those fluffy, yellow blobs of sugar), or candied eggs of any type here.  Perhaps your guests would prefer cinnamon baked pears, a fruity sorbet or sherbet, a berry and yogurt parfait, a light and airy angel food cake (topped with fruit, of course), or hollowed out strawberries filled with vanilla yogurt and topped with graham cracker crumbs.  There are plenty of low-cal, spring dessert recipes out there and here are a few examples  http://www.self.com/gallery/9-healthy-3-ingredient-desserts-under-250-calories

Remember, just because you’ve eaten ham/lamb and some creamy potato dish every Easter since you were a kid does not mean it must continue.  This spring, break the bonds of Easters past, step away from tradition, embrace change and eat differently.  It’s not like there’s momentous consequences at stake here…it’s only Easter dinner.

facebooktwitterpinterest

March is National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month is upon us yet, again. Yes, March is here already. It seems like yesterday I was just reminiscing about great foods for Fall. At that point, I was taken back to when I was a kid and all the unhealthy things we would eat. When I was little, it didn’t matter if it wasn’t good for me. I just wanted it to taste good. Food from the county fair, Halloween, and football never seemed to be healthy. Funnell cakes, chocolate candy in my Halloween bag, and chili dogs were all yummy. They certainly weren’t pictured on the Food Pyramid.

I have to admit that the chili dogs weren’t just something I’d get only during football season. There was this great little family run country store out by my grandparent’s house. We’d go there as a treat and order a chili dog, fries, and a soda. The drinks were in glass bottles, right inside a frosty cooler. The sounds of deep fat fryers and the POP! of a refrigerated cooler door can take me back to those moments in an instant. I didn’t care how many calories and fat I was ingesting on those days. Nutrition? Who cared? It’s a different story these days.

Why was it ok then? Probably two reasons. First, we only ate like that a couple of times a year, and sodas were treats we’d get maybe once a week. Two, as kids we were way more active, out on the streets until sundown, playing and running around. But that can cause problems later in life, when we get more sedentary and still eat the same bad things. So learning good nutrition young is the focus.

Nutrition is thought of as the way food is brought in and turned into energy for the body. We seem to do all we can and discover ways to either stay healthy or get that way. Exercise and having an optimal body weight are key components to being healthy. The essence of this year’s National Month of Nutrition is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”, focusing on the fact that we are ultimately responsible for our own nutritional needs and we have the tools necessary to achieve optimal nutrition.

One of the best tools out there these days are premade meal delivery services. My favorite is Magickitchen.com. They have a large variety of meals for all types of nutritional needs. It doesn’t matter if you are focusing on just eating healthier or if you need special meals for medical purposes such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or renal dietary needs. They do all the cooking for you. The main tools you will need are an oven and microwave.

What is on your plate these days? The USDA has a great look at the history of what they have suggested to fill your plate since 1916 ( https://www.choosemyplate.gov/brief-history-usda-food-guides).

facebooktwitterpinterest

Deals for Every Season

For this blog post I was asked by the powers that be, aka “the Man,” (who in this case is a very pleasant woman named Melody)…anyway, I was asked by Melody to highlight MagicKitchen.com’s special seasonal deals that are located here http://www.magickitchen.com/seasonal-special-deals.html.

However, she gave me free rein (her mistake) to write about these deals as I saw fit.  And since I recently rediscovered 1980s rap music, I decided to write a song, or “flow” about MagicKitchen and their awesome seasonal deals.  If you’re not a rap fan, don’t worry, just think of it as a Shakespearean sonnet…ok, I just re-read it…I wouldn’t use “Shakespearean” to describe it.  If you do like rap, then just lay down a phat beat and let it flow.  Play this one below, for full effect.

Deals for Every Season

Lookin’ for a good deal, with profound appeal

Not forced to chase it in your automobile.

Then MagicKitchen’s for you, no drive through,

Just delicious meals that will soon ensue.

Delivered to your door, not from a store,

But prepared by a chef, perhaps named Steph.

Prepared with fresh ingredients, we’re always expedient

And to your needs we’re quite obedient.

The meal’s flash frozen, then it goes in

A container that’s been chosen

To deliver your food, with proper attitude

And little to no ineptitude.

Seasonal deals we got, they’re smokin’ hot

Just check our site, that’s the upshot.

Deals change every season in this age of reason

So take advantage, it’s not like it’s treason.

Beef Bourguignon- tender beef & mushrooms in wine sauce. -gluten free

Specials depend on the holiday.  It’s like a buffet

That’s so easy to order, it could be child’s play.

Could be for Valentine your herr or fräulein

Wants a romantic meal he or she can’t decline.

So check our page, don’t disengage

From our meals that stick to your rib cage.

Peace, out (insert mic drop here).

facebooktwitterpinterest

February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day

When I was in college, I worked at a dry cleaner. I was there long enough to get to know several of the regular customers. Quite often some would linger and strike up some great conversations and some would share wonderful stories. One elderly gentleman did this most times he came in. He knew enough about me to know I was a Freshman in college and that my family was overseas.

One day he walked in, handed my boss an envelope and left. That envelope contained a check and a note. My boss read the note out loud and my jaw hit the floor. The check that was included in the envelope covered my tuition for the next semester, paid in full.

I couldn’t figure out why he would want to pay for a stranger’s college tuition and not expect anything in return. My boss told me that the man had been doing it for years. He would select a student he felt would appreciate it and help them out. This random act of kindness, made 26 years ago still brings tears to my eyes.

People have been committing random acts of kindness for hundreds of years. We may not know exactly what they have all been, nor have we always given them the title of “Random Acts of Kindness”.  It has its very own day assigned to it. This year’s Random Acts of Kindness Day is February 17, 2017.

The first Random Acts day was created in Colorado in 1995. The concept is designed to make the world a little bit better by each of us doing a kind deed. Participating does not mean you have to spend money to be kind.

In case you might be having a difficult time figuring out something nice to do that you may not do on a regular basis, I have compiled two lists. One list is of kind deeds that will only cost you a little bit of time. The second list is for those of you who would like to show kindness via money.

Random Acts of Kindness that Won’t Cost You a Thing

  • Open the door for someone, complete with a smile
  • Volunteer time at an animal shelter or rescue
  • Simply smile at people
  • Do a favor for someone without expecting anything in return
  • Babysit for free
  • Sweep your neighbors porch/shovel their sidewalks
  • Walk a friend’s or neighbor’s dog
  • Volunteer at a food bank or homeless shelter
  • Read to the elderly at a retirement home
  • Send an encouraging card or email
  • Thank a veteran, police officer, or firefighter
  • Give a hug, it’s not just a kind act but a stress reducer as well
  • Donate blood (Perfect for American Heart Month)
  • Be tolerant
  • Compliment a stranger

Random Acts of Kindness for Those Who Can Spare Some Change

  • Pay for the food of the people behind you in the drive through
  • Take flowers to a retirement home
  • Leave a zip bag of quarters on a washer at the laundromat
  • Donate food to an animal shelter
  • Leave a bag of cookies with a note in the mailbox for the postal carrier
  • Take coffee and donuts to your local fire station
  • Donate cat litter to a cat rescue
  • Donate a new toy to a children’s hospital
  • Take muffins and coffee to work
  • Donate money to your electric company to be used for someone who is struggling to pay their bill
  • Plant a tree
  • Hire a house cleaner for an ill friend or one with children
  • Buy a gift card from a car wash and leave it in an envelope on a dirty car at the grocery store
  • Grab a few cases of water and take them to the Red Cross
  • Donate canned goods to your local food bank

Even though Random Acts of Kindness Day is recognized on February 18th this year, you don’t have to limit yourself. Imagine how much nicer the world would be if we could all do just one random act once a week…imagine twice a week. Maybe some of the nice things could begin to draw some of the attention away from all the bad things that happen. Wouldn’t it be nice to shift that focus? How do you plan to take part this year?

facebooktwitterpinterest

This Valentine’s Day, Start Taking Care of Your Heart

This Valentine’s Day, Start Taking Care of Your Heart

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far…wait, that’s another story…humans believed that the heart was the center of all our emotions.  This had to do with the fact that the heart, more-or- less, is in the center of our bodies and that all roads, or blood vessels, seemed to lead there.

Since many considered love to be the strongest emotion of them all (come on, who among us hasn’t done something stupid due to love?), the heart began to be written about as the seat of love…see: ”I love you with so much of my heart, that none is left to protest.” – Beatrice to Benedict in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing for just one example.

Since then, we’ve become more enlightened as to the true function of the heart, perhaps as a result of the Enlightenment…perhaps not.  It serves one vitally important purpose and one purpose only, to pump oxygenated blood to all our muscles and organs and it does this by beating an incredible 115,000 times every day!  Since your heart health is a matter of life or death, perhaps we should take better care of it and here are five tips to do just that.

  1. Quit or don’t start smoking. The chemicals found in commercial tobacco products damage your heart and blood vessels by causing a narrowing of the arteries due to plaque build up.  This restricts the flow of that oxygenated blood to all those muscles and organs.  Smoking also causes carbon monoxide to force out some of the oxygen in your blood.  Both effects increase your blood pressure and cause your heart to work harder to  deliver the necessary amount of oxygen to your body.
  1. Get moving. No surprise here, regular aerobic exercise (defined as at least 30 minutes most days of the week) is good for your heart and helps control your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight.  I seem to remember some physics law from high school that said something about bodies at rest tend to stay at rest…yada, yada, yada.  So just apply that rule to your body as well.  It’s tough to get that sedentary body of yours (mine too) up and moving, but once you do, it’s easy to keep it moving for at least 30 minutes…I think that rule has a second part about bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.  I’ll Google it later.
  1. Maintain a heart healthy diet. No surprise here either…fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fiber, lean meats and fish, these are some of your heart’s favorite things.  Salt, sugar (especially processed), trans and saturated fats, these are NOT some of your heart’s favorite things.  One way to avoid these things is to read food labels on a regular basis and learn the recommended daily allowances.  For example, vegetable juice, what most consider to be a healthy drink, can have up to 700 milligrams of salt per 8 ounces.  The FDA recommends we consume no more than 2,300 mgs of salt per day.  Read those labels!
  1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Those who do not have higher risks of obesity, heart attack, diabetes, and depression.  I can remember when my kids were cute little babies and not the crazed tweens they are now, my wife and I made sleep a priority in their lives (model parents, right?  Probably not).  Come hell or high water, they went to sleep at the same time every night.  No late night, drunken parties for them, ever.  If you’re not getting that 7-9 hours every night, you might want to reconsider your priorities.  Just sayin’…a phrase my adorable tweeners keep repeating.
  1. Stay or get social. Ok, this one is a bit of a surprise.  Numerous studies have linked loneliness to depression and physical health problems.  One Swedish study conducted by Ikea (I jest, of course) followed 17,000 people and found that the ones with the fewest number of social contacts had a 50% higher risk of cardiovascular disease.  So what’s going on here?  Medical and psychological professionals believe that friends and family serve as stress relievers, which helps control your blood pressure, which is good for your heart as well.

Interested in reading more?  Here’s MagicKitchen.com’s link to other articles that deal with maintaining good heart health: http://www.magickitchen.com/news/heart.html

 

facebooktwitterpinterest