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.

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.

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.

Summer Style Tips

Sun Damaged Hair Summer isn’t drawing to a close yet! We say August is the halfway mark and this month is known for its heat waves and severe weather that stretches into the better part of September.  As you’re relinquishing these days of the summer sun you should consider this: Have your hair, skin, and nail beds seemed a bit scruffy and dry? If so, we have a few helpful hits on how to repair your over sun-kissed self.

Sunscreen:

First and foremost, sunscreen is your skin’s lifeline in the summer months.  Consumer Report provided us with studies to find some of the best sunscreens on the market and no one brand of sunscreen protects from UVA or UVB rays better than the rest.

You should always opt for a water resistant choice with an SPF of at least 30.

Head over to any supermarket or convenience store for the gammon of sunscreen options and remember to reapply every two hours.

Revamp Your Makeup Routine:

Applying layers of foundation, cover up, bronzer and blush adds to excess sweat in the summer causing the makeup to become cakey and clog pores. Give over processed skin a chance to breathe and repair itself without the foundation routine!  Chances are, your skin is somewhat tanned, eliminating the need for any sort of bronzer or complexion evening foundation, so stick to spot treatment for blemishes and simple eye makeup.

A great pick to help keep your eye shadow and liner in place despite the makeup melting heat of the sun is Urban Decay’s Primer Potion .  It will keep your shadows vibrant and crease proof, while eliminating the chance of smudging your eyeliner.

Hats:

Women’s old-fashioned hats with a wide brim are back in style, and with so many options to choose from, you’re bound to find one that is perfect for you.  These large hats will keep your body temperature down and create some shade for your face and scalp. As for the men? Same goes for you!  You can never go wrong with an every-day baseball hat outside by the pool, at the beach or doing yard work.

Hair:

There’s no need to part with your dry, sun damaged hair in September if you’ve noticed it becoming unruly, frizzy and unmanageable.  A trim will clean up your ends, automatically giving your hair a healthier vibrant appeal.  To maintain this look, we recommend using plenty of leave in conditioners or split end treatments to protect the hair from the sun’s heat and your routine styling. Check out one of my favorite products here.

If your hair is heat and sun damaged, your best bet to restoring your mane’s usual supple healthy texture is to let it air dry.  Shine contributors, Yahoo!’s health and beauty experts agree  that a “Hands Off” approach is best for summer styling.  Blow drying or flat ironing your hair after it has just spent hours in the sun, damaged by not only the rays, but chlorine and salt as well, does not need any extra heat from your styling tools!  Create a simple summer style by using products that have a lightweight formula but still provide hold, such as Garnier Fructis Style: Wonder Waves Spray and avoid products like hairspray, which contain a high percent of alcohol further damaging your hair.

Nails:

These little gems do a lot more than simply look pretty with a coat of polish.  Sun exposure to the cuticles and nail folds will cause these areas to dry out making new nail growth brittle, ridged and weak says Discovery Health.  Apply sun screen to your finger and toenails to keep your nails strong and protected.

For other summer style and fashion tips by Emily visit here for her Guide to the Real Jersey Shore.

Response: 5 Ways TV Can Hurt Your Health

A recent article featured on Yahoo! titled 5 Ways TV Can Hurt Your Health by Lisa Collier Cool is far from cool.

Check out the opening paragraph,

Couch potatoes beware: Watching the tube for two to three hours a day or more is linked to higher risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and higher rates of early death from all causes, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The culprit is the couch potato lifestyle that frequently accompanies excessive viewing, the researchers report. With the average American logging five hours a day in front of the tube, sitting is replacing exercise.

Ms. Cool, your article targets a population that performs very specific activities. They are the following:

  1. Eating too much while watching TV
  2. Replacing TV for exercise
  3. Watching TV when people should be sleeping
  4. A bunch of stuff about being too close to the TV

When I’m up for work at 5:30am, out the door by 6:30am and not home until 4pm, I check emails and I’m out the door to the gym. While at the gym, I’m usually there for at least an hour doing cardio/weights.

I’m going to list the Top 5 Ways TV Can Improve Your Life.

  1. TV shows can provide a step back from the daily monotony
  2. TV with friends/family is a great way to spend a few minutes together laughing, talking and learning (so that’s what tuna tartare is?)
  3. TV in moderation, like anything else is perfectly normal, even if you’re watching two hour long shows you love a night
  4. Popular TV shows are great conversation starters for people at work. Jessica loves baseball? Good thing you saw the game last night
  5. Shows, similar to those on HGTV can inspire people to DO things. No crime committed there.

When TV gets in the way, there are serious consequences. Overeating issues? Stop eating at the couch. Eat regular meals throughout the day and make it a habit not to bring them to the TV. Everyone knows you’re not paying close attention to the amount you’re consuming when you’re occupied by MasterChef.

Ms. Cool, for those of us who use TV in our lives to enhance it, rather than harm it, give us a break. We don’t need the Journal of the American Medical Association to tell us too much sedentary action leads to obesity. And those who need to learn, your article isn’t something I’d categorize as an authoritative call to action to change behavior.

Up for work at 5am, check emails and head out for the day. That’s my plan for tomorrow. After the gym for an hour, I’m really looking forward to relaxing, and watching a bit of TV.

 

Culinary Schools Guide

Get a degree from a culinary school and it’ll give you a leg up on the competition. No matter what your goals are, nothing is out of reach with hard work and dedication.

Ditch the 9-5

What are your dreams? Take a moment to reflect on what you’d like to accomplish in life. Is it career related? Is it health related? Maybe it’s rethinking your 9-5 in a cramped cubical and planning to explore your love for cooking.

Last week, a close friend talked to me for over an hour about her current job. She expressed her distaste for the evil boss, long hours at the cubical and let me in on a secret: Her real passion isn’t Microsoft Excel. It’s cooking. In her spare time, she’s created some of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted. I’d say her Chicken Marsala is high-end restaurant quality. I could see her talent on MasterChef or even Iron Chef of America.

Qualities of a chef

Becoming a chef isn’t just a piece of cake. To be a contestant on shows like Chopped and Iron Chef America imagine the hard work and dedication it took these people deserve a spot on Prime-Time.

It takes serious commitment to the art of food and motivation to be a continuous student. It’s certainly not for everyone. A good chef possesses the following qualities:

  • Excellent communication
  • Problem solving
  • Ability to critique and be critiqued
  • Business acumen
  • Food and service knowledge
  • Team worker
  • Focused/detailed

Food school resources

Anyone interested in becoming a chef should take a look at the four resources listed below. These sites have filtering options by state, degree, tuition and more. Take a look at what fits your bill here:

Dream it, do it

Take charge, do a little research and find ways to make a culinary dream happen. Don’t expect goals and dreams to fall into your lap. If you want to be a chef use every resource you have to make it a reality. Who knows, we could see you on Iron Chef America or running your own fast food chain down the road.

Dream big, no one else is going to do it for you.

You are the master of your own destiny. Use your strengths well. They are the keys to your destiny and your success in life. Once you know yourself and take action to realize your dreams, you can unlock the doors to your own potential. – Neil Somerville

 

Kickball and Red Rover Saved at New York Day Camps

Another case of micromanaging emerged today, this time from the authorities at the New York State Health Department. The proposal for New York day camps intended to restrict “dangerous” games has been turned down by officials. Kids will still be able to enjoy games of Red Rover and kickball regardless of the health department’s attempt to forbid camper’s engagement in such activities.

Chris Corola of the Associated Press writes,

On Tuesday, Richie, a Republican whose district includes three mostly rural north-central New York counties, said she was pleased by the reversal. “At a time when our nation’s No. 1 health concern is childhood obesity, I am very happy to see that someone in state government saw we should not be adding new burdensome regulations by classifying tag, Red Rover and Wiffle Ball as dangerous activities,” she said. “I am glad New York’s children can continue to steal the bacon and play flag football and enjoy other traditional rites of summer.”

Richie’s point is valid. Obesity rates are climbing and it’s hard enough to encourage some children to do any sort of physical activity. Accidents happen in every sport and in every game. Even pens and pencils can pose as weapons of death. With obesity rates like the CDC describes below, who’s ready to stop micromanaging?

Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%

Kids don’t play outside as much as they used to and day camp is perfect way to release energy. Children may not relate to these games as ‘work’, rather ‘fun’. The real danger isn’t injury, it’s the stifling of activities and programs. Many camps had already started adjusting their physical activities to eliminate popular games.

Homemade lunches and kickball –things we’ve treasured for years– are dangerous and could possibly even kill us. And what about Mom driving us to school? That’s dangerous too. Not brushing your teeth 3 times daily? You’d better say your prayers now, while you’re still 10.

Chicago Schools: No More Homemade Lunches

Some parents don’t have the option to dress their children for school- they wear uniforms. Some Chicago parents don’t have the option to make their children’s lunches- they must eat what the school provides.

According to the Chicago Tribune, this new rule instilled by Little Valley Academy, a public school in Chicago, is intended to eliminate all possible ways a child could eat something unhealthy during lunchtime.

I’d sure want a medical excuse to bring a lunch. That’s allowed by the way. Allergies to food and other dietary restrictions gets you a free pass for homemade lunches. The kid with food allergies is going to become a lot more popular at the lunch table. There’s no word on whether there’s some “inspection” on the lunches for children with dietary restrictions. I know I’d want to sneak in a brownie for my friend, deprived choice.

The Chicago Tribune continues,

Principal Elsa Carmona said her intention is to protect students from their own unhealthful food choices.

Carmona, wake up and smell the Burger King. There are a lot of unintended consequences to this seemingly “great” plan on paper:

  1. School lunches are roughly $2.25 for those who aren’t on a reduced lunch plan. That’s more than the cost of a kids homemade lunch
  2. Parents are already outraged by the deletion of choice
  3. Children are going to be hungry, want more food, and feel deprived. Chances are when they get home, they’ll eat more cookies than they should. Ever heard of binge eating

Ray Rahman wrote about Sarah Palin who, in 2010,  made a strong, clear point,

“Palin asked at a fundraising event at a Bucks County, PA, Christian school, a clear shot at First Lady Michelle Obama’s nutrition guidelines. “Should it be government or should it be parents? It should be the parents.”

Many are asking the same question. The government and schools must be aligned to reduce obesity in children, but what happens at school isn’t necessarily going to happen at home. Healthy habits are taught from a young age, not forced at a school lunch.

Although this is specifically a school issue, there’s plenty of government involvement in lunch programs. I’ll let David Roland close this one up today,

“The government is taking away choice. That is just fundamentally un-American.”

 

Koalas Eat Eucalyptus, Humans Eat Red #40

In 6th grade band class I decided to eat Doritos right before my clarinet lesson. After eating and playing, I noticed the reed turned red. In 6th grade, that means “get another one”.

In adulthood, to me it means concern. The dye is an additive of course, so what are the risks associated with these “additives” everyone’s been talking about and how do they affect me?

Whether you know me personally or not, lately I’ve been reading and studying koalas. Every day I’m talking about their habits, diet or thinking about them in some way. Today it hit me- you’d never see a koala eating anything with Red Dye #40 in the trees of Australia (or going to clarinet lessons for that matter).

We, humans, are much more advanced and intelligent than our koala friends. However, even the simple creatures can, unknowingly, point us to healthier eating. Our foods are processed, sprayed, dyed and disfigured to somehow preserve, add fun, and consumer appeal. The food market is saturated and competitive so it’s only natural that over time, we’d come to our current state of market conditions.

Back in 2010, I conducted an experiment. It went a little like this:

Goal : Eat only raw, non-processed and 100% organic foods for 14 days.

By then end, I was hungry, tired and broke. Even in organic sections of the store, you aren’t sure if the food is “100% organic”. The truth is unless you’re growing it in the backyard you can never be 100% certain where it came from or how it was harvested/treated. Some foods are allowed to carry the organic seal even if they are under 100%.One site I really like that describes organic labeling is the The George Mateljan Foundation
for The World’s Healthiest Foods.
They list the following below:

  1. Food that is 100 percent organic may carry the new “USDA organic” label and say “100% organic.”
  2. Food that is at least 95 percent organic may carry the new seal.
  3. Food that is at least 70 percent organic will list the organic ingredients on the front of the package.
  4. If a product is less than 70 percent organic, the organic ingredients may be listed on the side of the package but cannot say “organic” on the front.

We know more about organic and what counts as organic (good tips for your next shopping trip). Yet the focus of this article is Red #40 and to get to the bottom of it, I’ve brought one of the many stories online right here (Red Dye #40 stories never cease to amuse me). One from BrightHub.com mentions Red #40 linked to ADHD:

Red 40 dye, an artificial coloring that is added to many food and drink products, has been linked to ADHD and found to potentially increase hyperactivity and irritability in children. Those who are sensitive to the red 40 dye can sometimes benefit from having the additive removed from their diet

I don’t see any specific study linked, therefore the saying goes “don’t believe everything you read”. For the facts though, I lead you to the  Center for Science in the Public Interest,

[Red 40] The most widely used food dye. While this is one of the most-tested food dyes, the key mouse tests were flawed and inconclusive. An FDA review committee acknowledged problems, but said evidence of harm was not “consistent” or “substantial.” Red 40 can cause allergy-like reactions. Like other dyes, Red 40 is used mainly in junk foods.

Inconclusive, but not exactly comforting. Truth is there are tons of “potentially” harmful drugs, foods, additives and so forth. The good news is if you’re not allergic to Red Dye #40, limiting your intake would be the safest way to go. If it isn’t Red Dye #40, it’ll certainly be something else next time around.

 

10 Ways to Save Money on Food in 60 Seconds


Check out our list of the 10 best ways to save money at the grocery store:

1. In Store Ad Magazine. Grab a circular or booklet at the entrance  of your grocery store. Quickly scan for the best sales and shop those items.

2. Newspaper inserts. Take one minute  to scan through coupons in the paper and put them in your wallet for the next trip.

3. Go online. Check your grocer’s website for deals and promotions, or go to a competitor’s and see who’s got the best deals.

4. Apply for a store card. If you don’t, you’ll miss out on multiple sale deals (10 for $10) and regular promotions. Shop at Ralphs? Get one here.

5. Cut down your list. Do you really need Milano cookies or three varieties of graham crackers?

6. Check the clearance section. Target has food on clearance all the time, be sure to check the expiration date first. If you’re going to it the food tomorrow and it expires in two days you’ve just saved cash.

7. Buy in bulk. Forget mainstream groceries and check out BJ’s or Costco. Not only will you save money, you’ll make fewer trips to the grocery store  each month.

8. Say “Bye-bye coffee”. Just another  added expense.  Kick your caffeine addiction and save money in the meantime. Plus, creamers and sugar are hidden expenses.

9. Eat before you shop. Hungry shoppers spend more when grocery shopping. Fill up with a nutritious meal before you wind up bringing the entire grocery store into your home.

10. Eat smaller portions. Truth is, your portions are probably too big. A serving should be about the size of your fist (or a deck of cards).

 

Have your own tips and tricks? Share ‘em below!