Real Bunnies Don’t Lay Eggs

Easter Sunday

Today, celebrations of Easter have commenced. Children gather to hunt for plastic shelled eggs filled with candy and families congregate to celebrate the resurrection of their savior, Jesus Christ. An ironic part about Easter celebrations is the involvement of the egg. If bunnies don’t lay eggs and chickens do, how did we get into painting, decorating and hunting for eggs and why are bunnies such an integral part of the holiday?

Trace Dominguez of Discovery.com writes,

According to the University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration — and the origin of the Easter Bunny — can be traced back to 13th-century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses. The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.

Not that anyone’s been complaining about  Easter baskets full of bunny chocolates and rabbit shaped gummies– but it’s a tradition that’s not understood by many–yet almost everyone participates. The U.S. isn’t alone in it’s celebrations.  Other countries, including Australia, look at Easter slightly different due to the seasonality. As American’s are celebrating the coming of spring, Australians are the opposite, Erinna Giblin of news.au.com explains,

In Australia, Easter is the point in the year when we realize summer can’t last forever and we need to buckle down before winter. Perhaps even indulge a little more because we know it’s at least half a year before we’ll be seen in our swimming attire.

Cabury Easter EggAmericans are probably feeling a bit of guilt after downing twenty Cabury eggs since swimsuit season is approaching, rather than escaping us here.There have been numerous studies and publications that preach the benefits of dark chocolate, leading consumers to believe it’s much healthier than traditional milk chocolate. Don’t get too excited though, Karen Keller of ABC News sheds light,

So far the only proven positive effects of dark chocolate come from research that studied a daily consumption of 400-600 mg of cocoa flavonoids –  about 10 chocolate bars. Scientists have extrapolated that there are some benefits, though smaller, for, say, just one bar a day, he said.

Shoppers should balance calories and sugar with dark chocolate’s benefits, he said.

“It’s not an all-you-can-eat blank check to eat chocolate,” he said. Markoff gets her low-calorie cocoa flavonoid kick by making cocoa smoothies at home with almond milk, cocoa powder and Stevia, an artificial sweetener, she said.

Ten chocolate bars of dark chocolate is, I’m going to take a short in the dark here, not healthy. Having a few pieces of dark over milk? Probably will make more of a difference mentally than psychically. So go ahead, eat the milk chocolate bunny or egg and remorse later. If you think eggs (the real ones that come from chickens) are selling like hot cakes during this week, you’re right! A little Easter egg trivia: Americans alone will purchase over 180,000,000 eggs for the sole purpose of dying and decorating. If there was ever a time bunnies were happy they don’t lay eggs, let us be sure it’s this week.

If you celebrate Easter today with friends and family, may the best bunny basket win. Around the dinner table, you’ll probably be one of the few to know why the bunny is involved with the holiday. Just remember, real bunnies don’t lay eggs.

Review: MyFitnessPal

myfitnesspal

Diets are for Failures

Restricting yourself from the foods you crave and desire almost certainly will lead to over-indulgence down the road. An effective way to combat fat gain is to be aware of what you’re eating and how much you’re exercising. Did you really work that hard at the gym, or is it the principle that’s getting you to think you deserve a Krispy Kreme later that night after the workout?

The state of Michigan’s website gives a comprehensive list on why diets are just no good,

  • Diets deprive us. Many diets involve eliminating certain foods or even whole food groups. This is not only unhealthy but also unrealistic for the long term.
  • Diets are temporary. Once they have reached their goal, most people go back to “normal” eating, so the weight comes back.
  • Diets often don’t fit into normal life. Weighing and measuring food may help you lose weight, but aren’t practical as long-term strategies for most people.
  • Diets can be expensive. Buying special foods can rack up a big bill quickly.
  • Diets can actually lower your metabolism. When you drastically cut back on calories, your metabolism tends to slow down. You burn fewer calories and the diet becomes less effective.
  • Diet is only half of the equation. Lifetime weight management is not just about what you eat. It requires physical activity as well. Experts recommend 60-90 minutes a day most days of the week.

 

MyFitnessPal

The best kind of pal out there is someone who can hold you accountable for your actions. This app has helped me track what I eat, how much I exercise and truly changed my life in small ways that have added up to big success. Maybe you’ve seen MyFitnessPal users tapping away at their phones vigorously after a meal,  logging exactly what they ate into the application. Extensive food options allow you to literally get as specific as “Panera Bread BBQ Chopped Salad without Ranch Dressing”. Plus, you can portion out a full bowl of soup if you only had half a container or 1/8th of that banana.

Today, I’ve had breakfast and lunch and the screenshot below shows me how I’m tracking on my % daily values.  I’m over on my vitamin A and C, and dinner should consist of more calcium and iron if I’m going to meet my goal. You can even track back weekly and examine how you’re doing. Making small adjustments here and there will get you to your overall weight.

 

myfitnesspal

 

If you can stay within the calorie guidelines for your height, weight and weight-loss goals, there’s no easier way to reach success! Have experience with myfitnesspal? Share it in our comments section.

You can find myfitnesspal for free at the Apple app store.

Oceana Study finds 33% of Seafood Mislabeled

Seafood Mislabeling

Seafood, [Should] You Eat It

You might need to pack your fish guide, microscope and safety gloves next time you visit the local supermarket or restaurant to make sure you’re getting the right fish for dinner. Consumers aren’t forced to be knowledgeable about the products they buy- that’s why we have proper labeling such as nutrition facts, product name and variety on the packages all regulated by the FDA. Seafood doesn’t come packaged in a pretty box with %DV written on the front, and at times, even the label of the seafood is incorrect. In a recent study conducted by Oceana, their results provide insight into the depths of their research on seafood mislabeling,

Overall, one third (33 percent) of the fish samples genetically analyzed were mislabeled (401 out of 1,215). However, mislabeling rates varied greatly depending on the type of fish purchased. Of the most commonly sampled fish, snapper and tuna had the highest mislabeling rates (87 and 59 percent, respectively), with the majority of the samples identified as something other than what was purchased. Halibut, grouper, cod and Chilean seabass were mislabeled between 19 and 38 percent of the time, while lower levels of mislabeling were noted among salmon (7 percent) and sole (9 percent)
The type of fish sees a direct correlation to mislabeling therefore it’s important to note that salmon and sole are more likely to be labeled correctly as opposed to the snapper and tuna. Where the fish were mislabeled is important to note too. It’s not simply just at grocery stores; as the research by Oceana states,

Fish samples were purchased from three types of retail outlets: grocery stores (including a few seafood markets), restaurants and sushi venues. Forty*four percent of the 674 retail outlets visited sold mislabeled fish. Roughly three times as many samples were purchased from grocery stores (731) as from either restaurants (243) or sushi venues (241).

The chart below the Oceana group’s report gives a shocking visual of the types of fish most commonly mislabeled.

Seafood mislabeled by fish

Reasons seafood is mislabeled:

  • Maliciousness/price gouging
  • ignorance on species
  • lack of bar codes and tracking
  • limited FDA involvement (less than 1% has been tested by the FDA)

After a review of the FDA’s press announcements section on their website, and a skim through the front page and search there’s no information related to the seafood mislabeling. At least we know that on February 20, 2013 – FDA approves new silicone breast implant. Priorities, people.

The best practice, if you’re concerned about what fish you’re getting would be to order seafood that has less of a chance of being mislabeled. Until more stringent measures are put in place we are at the mercy of the label.

For more information on the Seafood mislabeling controversy, check out Oceana North America.

Mayor Bloomberg’s Large Soda Ban: Banished?

Bloomberg Soda BanBloomberg Fails, Businesses Rejoice

What’s big, round and a strain on hospitals and tax payer’s pockets?

Obesity is now considered an epidemic and there won’t be a blanket solution for this crisis unless everyone’s on board with lifestyle changes. Many attempts have been made to educate the country, show our citizens how to eat healthy and how to exercise. These tactics aren’t enough based on rising obesity rates in the U.S. In an effort to solve the problem (and some may argue there are other motives) Bloomberg’s soda ban on large sugary drinks did not pass earlier this month in New York City.

Laura Petrecca of the USA Today writes,

The limit put a 16-ounce cap on sweetened bottled drinks and fountain beverages sold at city restaurants, delis, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts.

There’s been plenty of opposition too. From the NYSRA to New Yorker’s for Beverage Choices social media has played a key role in educating people and driving awareness of the proposal. Petrecca goes on to describe details of the ban,

The size limit applied to beverages with more than 25 calories per 8 ounces. It didn’t include 100% juice drinks or beverages with more than 50% milk.

The New Yorker’s for Beverage Choices Facebook account has seen a dramatic increase in Likes ever since the ban failed. They’ve started a website that shares not only their mission to keep choices open for New Yorkers but all the restaurants in opposition.

What Do NYC Businesses Think?

One factor that plays a key role in people questioned about the ban, especially business owners is that it has the potential to cut profits and these new more stringent rules do not necessarily create for a “healthier” America, rather a restriction on the freedom of choice. The ban has been likened to a symptom, rather than a solution in the efforts to curb obesity with specific examples like “refrain from the soda, but what about the burgers and the fries?” Hypothetically bans could be placed on all sorts of fast food, junk food, high sugar foods or even portion control as you enter a dining establishment. Too much bread in your meal? You’re not allowed to eat that. Too much sugar in your soda? Well, there’s still a fight. Bloomberg said he isn’t backing down.

The New Yorker’s for Beverage Choice describe themselves as an organization that…

is made up of individuals, businesses, and community organizations—and we are growing in numbers! We believe New York City residents and visitors should have the right to buy beverages in any size they choose.

One of the biggest loopholes in the plan, as stated by the NYFBC organization,

Does the restriction apply to free refills at restaurants?

No, it doesn’t. Consumers can refill a beverage at a restaurant as many times as they want.

Of course at McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s and other dining establishments with free refills, the refill police would be required to work long shifts and would be expensive to employ. How we are going to solve the nation’s food crisis doesn’t begin with restriction and government infringement on food, it begins with education and must include a desire to succeed.

Since We’ve Been Gone

Fist Pump for FFL!

Back in Article Action

FFL took a brief hiatus and we’re back, mainly because there are just too many juicy stories for us to keep our little paws out of. Thanks to all the followers who’ve been asking “hey, where’d you go?” And for the ones who haven’t, well, we’re back anyway with a determination to gain more readership loyalty. Who wouldn’t want to read articles from a site that had two apples and a banana as their logo?

Future Topics to Explore:

1. GMO Labeling
2. Bloomberg’s failed soda ban
3. Seafood mislabeling in the US
4. Exercising while traveling
5. Food pricing war

Other topic ideas? Let us know!

You Need More “Me” Time

5 Things “Me” time does not consist of:

  1. Going to work
  2. Car shopping with your best friend
  3. A 30 minute TV show
  4. Cleaning your house/apartment
  5. Complaining about your life

5 Things “Me” Time does consist of:

  1. Working out / outdoor activities
  2. Going to a day spa
  3. Sleeping in
  4. Personal grooming
  5. Reading

There are plenty additional “Me time” and “non-Me-time” activities to be included. For sake of ease, we’ll stick with  5 of each. The question is

How many times a day do you do the non-Me time activities vs. Me-time activities?

I asked around and the responses were as expected but sad. People didn’t necessarily go car shopping every week but they did something for a friend or relative that took up a part of their free time during the evening. That being said, I looked at my own personal habits and realized that it’s time for a change. I need more Me time.

Obstacles to Me time

Get on the mission to shake life up a bit. Every day, we find ourselves in a routine. Get up, go to work, work out, eat, go to bed. Customize your own daily routine. A close friend once said “don’t sit around and wish for a change, make it happen”. That quote has kept me grounded and allowed me to make personal changes to enjoy more Me time. It’s not easy, especially for those of you who are not only involved with a significant other, but a family and a career as well. Super-moms are known for their abilities to handle it all, but it may not always be the best thing for themselves.

Take Advantage of Opportunities

Do you have a work holiday coming up? Plan a trip to the day spa. Just yourself! Pick up a favorite author’s new book and lock yourself away for a few hours. There’s no use in trying to shake away from your responsibilities. The way around that is to be able to take advantage of every single opening in your life. Take a Personal Time Off day and relax, because you deserve it. Plus, how else are you going to escape for a bit of Me time?

Not every single week will you have the time to visit the spa or spend hours doing your nails, shaving, etc. But making up a plan to squeeze in a little each week will make you feel more accomplished and happier at work and in your personal life. Say what you want, but we all need to be a little Me monsters once in a while.

Are You Yolking Yourself?

Breakfast champions, get ready for news long awaited.

Healthy Wonderful Egg

The yolk of your precious egg is 14% better than you may have thought in the early 2000′s. Incredibleegg.org shares,

The amount of cholesterol in a single large egg has decreased by 14 percent according to the new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrition data*. Consuming an egg a day fits easily within dietary guidance, which recommends limiting cholesterol consumption to 300 mg per day.

*In 2010, a random sample of regular shell eggs was collected from locations across the country to analyze the nutrient content of eggs. The testing procedure was last completed with eggs in 2002, and while most nutrients remained similar to those values, cholesterol decreased by 14% and vitamin D increased by 64% from 2002 values.

Mike Dawson of DEATAILS magazine writes “Are Egg Whites Healthier Than Whole Eggs?” and his conclusion is to go ahead and eat the whole egg. That being said, there are still ways to eat eggs that will add more fat and calories than necessary.

Dangerous Fattening Egg

It’s not the lonesome egg itself that poses a high-caloric and fattening risk. When you order eggs out, many restaurants cook with oils and butter to make your eggs over-easy, sunny side up, omelets–or really anyway you can imagine. In order to avoid downing extra grease and calories be sure to ask how the eggs are prepared, and if possible, ask for preparation with cooking spray such as PAM, an excellent non stick, no calorie spray. Don’t feel embarrassed to ask for something you want when you’re out to eat. Waiters and waitresses are getting more requests for people with special dietary restrictions, health issues such as diabetes, people on certain medications and those who are just plain watching their weight. Although at first it may seem a little odd, before you know it you’ll have a collection of eateries in your head that will alter meals and serve you lower-fat options than what may be on the menu (or options on the menu, for that matter)!

Take a look  at the Denny’s Farmer’s omelet. They list some calorie information, a little more frightening than you’d think:

Denny’s Farmer’s Omelette contains cheese and other ingredients, but the amount of eggs and it’s preparation surely don’t contribute to a healthy diet. If you’re making your eggs at home, you can guarantee your nutrition facts are about as close to the egg box as possible. So, go ahead and enjoy your eggs. Just watch out for additional calories and fat that egg dishes may contain.

How do you enjoy your eggs? Let us know below!

5 Ways To Improve Your Nutrition

nutrition

 Just like a car needs fuel and oil to run on, your body requires proper food to remain healthy and function properly. What you eat dictates how much energy you will have, your weight, and your long term health. However, improving your nutrition does not have to mean cutting your calories down to an absurd level or buying some exotic, overpriced, and hyped up food item or supplement.

There are many ways  you can make your nutrition routine better without going crazy, spending a lot of money, or restricting yourself to the point of starvation. Allow me to share 5 of those tips with you here:

1. Eat at home: Cooking is a skill that many of us have lost. In the past, more people would cook their own food, or have it cooked for them at home. They controlled everything they ate: they knew what they bought, what went into their food, and they knew how much they put on their plate. Plus, eating at home can save you money: See: 5 Ways to Save Money on Food.

People eat many of their meals out instead of making them themselves at home. This means that they don’t have any control over the preparation of food and, most likely, that they’re eating food rich in oils, sugar, and salt. This is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. Cooking your own food can help you remain healthy and lean, as you’re more aware of the ingredients used and have the ability to make healthy substitutions.

2. Stop eating before you feel full:  Your brain is not that quick at processing “fullness”.  It takes your brain about 15-20 minutes to register when you’ve had enough. Most people don’t take this into account and continue eating until they feel stuffed. If they had only waited for 15 minutes, they would have been pleasantly full.

What’s a solution? Stop eating when you feel almost full. A few minutes later the last pangs of hunger will vanish and you will feel like you’ve had just enough.

3. Avoid processed foods:  Some of the food we eat is what I like to call quasi-food: there are nutrients in there, but they’re mixed up with all sorts of chemicals and preservatives, plus a whole lot of sugar. These not-so-complex carbohydrates don’t keep you full for long and are poor sources of nutrient dense foods.

What’s a good solution? You want to eat the most nutritious food you can find without consuming too many calories. A great way to do that is to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Stray away from packaged meals and Twinkies. Buy produce and fresh food and make your own creative dishes. If you eat food which is closer to its natural state, you will improve your overall health and feel fuller for longer.

4. Drink less alcohol:  I’m not a teetotaler and I don’t advocate that you become one either. However, if you want to maintain good health, I recommend drinking  in moderation. Alcohol over-consumption can lead to liver problems and the calories in alcohol are certainly not nutrient dense. After about 5 beers, you’ve most likely consumed over 500 empty calories!

In addition, if you’re trying to lose weight you should know that alcohol is not your friend for fat loss.  Not only are many alcoholic beverages rich in calories, but the very presence of alcohol in your blood delays fat burning.

5. Eat from smaller bowls and plates: If you want to reduce your total calorie consumption you need to use smaller plates and bowls.  We tend to fill our plate with food at a certain proportion and clear our plates. If you use smaller plates, you will eat less. Easy!

I hope that you will take these tips to heart and apply them in your life. They’re very simple and can make a huge difference in your health or the health of someone you know!

Jonathan Dunsky is a health blogger at World Of Diets where he writes about nutrition, fitness, and healthy weight loss. Connect with him on his Facebook page.

Are Fruit Tarts Healthy?

Fruit Tart

 

We all crave a sweet treat now and again. The many times I’ve  visited bakeries and grocery stores, the fruit tart always seems to  scream “Look at me, I’ve got fruit on!” While fruit tarts are never my first choice of delicacy, I’ve always wondered:

What are the nutrition facts behind fruit tarts?

Glistening fruit neatly arrange sitting above a light cream and held in a crust of sorts looks fresh, inviting, not to mention a bit healthy. After all it contain fruit so in comparison to the giant eclairs sleeping next door, one may assume they’re a healthier choice. Let’s take a look at fruit tarts.

Fruit Tart Components

A quick Google search of “fruit tart recipes” results in hundreds of variations. I’ve picked a recipe from AllRecipies.com, an easy to use, resourceful guide for just about any dish. The “No Skill Fruit Tart Recipe” by AR lists the following ingredients:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups sliced fresh peaches
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries

Allrecipes  lists the steps to make the fruit tart. By preheating the oven to 450 you’ll save time as you make the mixture of dough. Then, knead the dough and let it sit. To prepare the fruit, simply toss your fruits in a mixture of sugar and cornstarch. This recipe doesn’t call for any cream, so we’ll take into account that other fruit tarts may be even higher in fat and more caloric than this one.

Fruit Tart Calorie Information

All fruit tarts are crafted uniquely and will contain different amounts of fat, carbohydrates, sugars and saturated fats dependent on the ingredients used and the serving size consumed. Going back to the Allrecipes example, they’ve included the nutrition facts for the fruit tart we talked about earlier. They get nutrition information from ESHA Research. Allrecipes makes a statement about their use of ESHA in evaluating nutrition facts,

Allrecipes is proud to provide ESHA Research’s nutrient databases for recipe nutrition analysis. ESHA Research is the premier nutrition analysis provider for the world’s nutrition and health industries, having provided nutrient information to health care providers and the world’s top food manufacturing firms for more than 15 years.

Simply another reason why I like Allrecipes. They are a trusted, legitimate source for nutrition information. Here’s what ESHA determined for the nutrition information of this fruit tart:

Fruit Tart Nutrition Facts

Analysis

The vitamins: It’s clear the fruit is providing the bulk of anything that looks remotely healthy (%DV of Vitamin C, Iron, Thiamin). If you’re looking for a treat to satisfy you, fruit tarts are certainly delicious. But it doesn’t make sense to call fruit tarts healthy, as the worst is yet to come.

The fat content is extremely high for a serving size (1/6 of the recipe). 57% of your daily value of fat is coming from this very fruit tart, so buyer beware! You’re not getting a healthy dish of dessert regardless of how sparkling with health the berries and fruits portray.

Verdict

Unfortunately for the fruit tart today we’re going with a NO to answer our question “Are Fruit Tarts Healthy?” But we’re extending a challenge out to our readers. Find a recipe or create one of your own that you believe is healthy– and we’ll feature and critique your tart!

4 Tips to Avoid Overeating at Work Meetings

Any type of meeting isn’t the same without the prospect of free food. Every day, millions of people buy their lunch at the work cafeteria or the fast food joint across the street. If you’re like me, you pack a lunch. Either way, we’re spending our hard earned money on fuel to get us through the rest of the day. Last week my good friend Kelly email me about her week-long meeting in San Diego that turned into a five pound weight gain.

…I really thought I was eating healthy, but every hour or so they brought out more food during the meetings in a self-serve set up. I would find myself eating pita and hummus one hour, fruits the next and before I knew it we were being served a lunch! I didn’t work out either at the hotel. What am I supposed to do I’m pretty sure I gained over 5 pounds this past week.

My response to Kelly, over IM, was quite simple in theory. If you know you’ll be subject to a lot of free food during meetings there are 4 things you must be certain to do in order to prevent yourself from pulling a “Kelly”.

  1. Pack your own healthy snacks. At times, they may be serving unhealthy treats that ooze temptation. Jelly donuts, peanut butter, you name it, it could be there. If you’re not sure what’s on the menu make sure you’re feeling full by snacking on healthy treats like fruits and veggies.
  2. Stick to your normal eating pattern outside the meeting. If Monday-Friday you typically eat breakfast around 7am, a snack at 10am and lunch at 12PM, try sticking as close to this schedule as possible. During meetings, you don’t always have control over the time big meals like breakfast or lunch are served but you can control your snacking times and eliminate over eating.
  3. Focus on the people, not the food. Everyone knows hanging around the snack table is a great place to socialize and network. But it doesn’t mean you’re required to be scarfing down every treat at the table. Focus on a topic of conversation that you enjoy and get to know your co-workers even better.
  4. Drink fluids for hydration. Sometimes we mistake hunger for thirst. Susan Diranian of Livestrong.com writes,

Try not to depend on the noises and feelings your stomach always makes. The next time you feel hunger pangs, drink an 8 oz. glass of water. It might take up to 15 minutes for your hypothalamus to send a signal letting your nervous system know that the body was merely thirsty and that the thirst has been satisfied.

Regardless of how dangerous free food at work may be to controlling your caloric intake, most of us are pretty excited for a free snack or meal. With these 4  tips you don’t have to turn out like Kelly after week long meeting and stray off your normal portion sizes to enjoy, what some may say, is the best part about meetings!