Friday, May 29, 2015

29 Food Rules We Can Learn From The French

Having been raised by parents who met & lived in France, I have learned that time-tested food wisdom, health and pleasure will never be overruled by modern fads that don't work. No wonder the percentage of people suffering obesity in France is half of the percentage in the USA, Australia or New Zealand, despite the national diet being rich in supposedly harmful foods! 
The good news? You don’t need to live in France to reap the benefits of the French art de vivre, weight loss being one of the most rewarding outcomes of positive and happy eating inspired by a French attitude towards food! Real food, traditions and lifestyle are the secret formula. Simply follow these 29 rules: 
1. Stop depriving yourself.  The most important rule to stay slim like the French? Never deprive yourself of something you want to eat. 
2. Respect food. It is an art. 
3. Sit at a table to eat, always. Never eat on the go. Ever. 
4. Slow down.  Put your fork down between each bite. Yes, do it. 
5. Eat real, local, fresh, unprocessed food.  As often as possible. 
6. Balance your meals. Indulgence is important, but you feel you've overdone it a little at one meal, balance it out with a lighter meal the next time you eat. 
7. Never go for second best. It’s about quality not quantity. Always. 
8. Have three meals a day. Not two, not six. Three. 
9. Set and respect meal times. You'll be hungry for your meals and will actually enjoy each of them if you're not snacking in between. 
10. Add side salads.  Eat a green salad at every meal or at least once a day; it’s the best way to easiest way to eat more plants. 
11. Prepare and cook your meals with love. Take pride in what you prepare to feed and nourish your body. 
12Never cook food when stressed or angry.  You'll taste the negative emotions in your food, and they won't do your body any good. 
13. Chew, chew, chew and chew again.  Your stomach doesn't have teeth. 
14. Make food your friend. Food isn't the enemy: there's no guilt in eating, only pleasure, joy and beauty. 
15. Make it beautiful. Freshness, quality, seasonality, seasoning, flavor, texture, visual variety, color and presentation all contribute to your pleasure. 
16. Be present. Don’t eat like a mindless robot or just because you need to eat. Be aware of what you're putting into your body and appreciate each bite. 
17. Share and enjoy your meals. Food is all about love, so share your meals with family and friends when you can. 
18. Enjoy dessert every day. Not too much, but it's important to not deny your sweet tooth. Opt for the best ingredients for maximum pleasure and you'll never feel deprived. Raw desserts and fruit are best bets.
19. Eat carbs.  But only the good ones (whole grains, oats, legumes, veggies, nuts) to prevent binge eating and boost your energy. 
20. Eat fat to lose fat. Organic extra-virgin olive oil, organic butter and coconut oil help speed up your metabolism. 
21. Snack only if you’re hungry. Not because you’re bored, stressed or you’ve just seen an ad for a chocolate bar. If you’re hungry have a snack, but make it small and make it healthy. 
22. Eat cheese every day. Raw milk cheese is a fantastic digestive aid and is rich in calcium, protein and healing fats. 
23. Love your gut. Good bacteria from fermented food (yogurt, pickled vegetables, cabbage) is critical to your health. 
24. Shop in season.  Buy produce from your local farmers’ market to add variety and freshness to your diet. 
25. Worship water. Staying hydrated is crucial to optimal health. When you drink ample water, you'll feel great, your skin will glow and your body will digest food better. 
26. Say no to sugary drinks. Fruit juice, energy drinks and soda are toxic. During meals, drink only filtered water or a glass (or two) of good quality red wine. 
27. Walk, walk, walk. The French walk a lot, more than 10,000 steps a day. Get outside and move whenever you can. 
28. Ditch anything "low fat."  That label often translates to "full of sugar, chemicals and processed ingredients." Opt for natural, full-fat products over chemicals every day. 
29. Naturally slow the aging process. Lots of berries, leafy greens and a few pieces of dark chocolate every day will outperform your most expensive anti-aging cream.
~Thanks to Yves Calmette

Sunscreen Hall of Shame, Plus the Best Sunscreens Available

EWG Sunscreen Hall of Shame

There are a lot of sunscreens on the market: some good, some bad and then the shameful.
First, check here for the BEST sunscreens & moisturizers with SPF:
and here for the best Beach & Sport Sunscreens:

The shameful sunscreens are not only a waste of money and time but also potentially harmful. Here are our picks for products to banish from your beach bag.
  • Spray sunscreens can be inhaled, and they don’t cover skin completely.
  • SPF values above 50+ try to trick you into believing they’ll prevent sun damage. Don’t trust them. SPF protection tops out at 30 to 50.
  • Oxybenzone can disrupt the hormone system.
  • Retinyl palmitate may trigger damage, possibly cancer.

11 Worst Spray Sunscreens

These sunscreens are aerosol sprays with SPFs above 50+ and the harmful additives oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.
Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Ultra Defense MAX Skin Protect Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
Coppertone Sport High Performance AccuSpray Sunscreen, SPF 70
Coppertone Sport High Performance Clear Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100+
CVS Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100
CVS Sheer Mist Spray Sunscreen, SPF 70
CVS Sport Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100+
CVS Wet & Dry Sunscreen Spray, SPF 85
Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunscreen Body Mist, SPF 70
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Spray, SPF 100+
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Spray, SPF 70
Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Spray, SPF 85+

12 Worst Sunscreen Lotions

These sunscreen lotions claim SPFs above 50+ and contain oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate.
Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen, SPF 75
Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Coppertone Ultra Guard Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
CVS Sport Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
CVS Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 100
CVS Sun Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Daily Liquid Sunscreen, SPF 70
NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 60
NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 85
Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70

11 Worst Sunscreens for Kids

These terrible kid and baby sunscreens have at least three strikes against them: 1) oxybenzone, 2) retinyl palmitate and 3) SPFs above 50+. Two have a fourth strike: they’re aerosol sprays that can harm sensitive young lungs. Convenient? Yes. Good for kids? Absolutely not.
Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Kids Max Protect & Play Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Coppertone Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Coppertone Kids Wacky Foam Foaming Lotion Sunscreen, SPF 70+
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70+
Coppertone Water Babies Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Equate Kids Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55
Kroger Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Kroger Kids Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70
Neutrogena Wet Skin Kids Beach & Pool Sunblock Spray, SPF 70+
Up & Up Kid’s Sunscreen Stick, SPF 55

How we picked the Hall of Shame

1) Spray sunscreens
One in every four sunscreens in this year’s database is a spray. People like sprays because they’re easy to squirt on squirming kids and hard-to-reach areas. But they may pose serious inhalation risks, and they make it too easy to apply too little or miss a spot.
The FDA has expressed doubts about their safety and effectiveness but hasn’t banned them. As long as they’re legal, sunscreen manufacturers will make them.
2) Sky-high SPFs
One eighth of the sunscreens we evaluated this year boast SPFs above 50+. SPF stands for “sun protection factor,” but that outdated term refers only to protection against UVB rays that burn the skin. It has little to do with a product’s ability to protect skin from UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the body, accelerate skin aging, may suppress the immune system and may cause skin cancer.
The worst thing about high-SPF products is that they give people a false sense of security and tempt them to stay in the sun too long. They suppress sunburns but raise the risk of other kinds of skin damage. The FDA is considering barring SPF above 50+.
3) Oxybenzone
Half of the beach and sport sunscreens in this year’s guide contain oxybenzone, an active ingredient in sunscreens. But it penetrates the skin, gets into the bloodstream and acts like estrogen in the body. It can trigger allergic skin reactions. Some research studies, while not conclusive, have linked higher concentrations of oxybenzone to disorders, including endometriosis in older women and, lower birth weights in newborn girls.
4) Retinyl palmitate
Nearly 20 percent of the sunscreens and SPF-rated moisturizers and 13 percent of SPF-rate lip products in this year’s guide contain retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A. Night creams with this chemical may help skin look more youthful. But on sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions, according to government studies. Why does the FDA allow this “inactive ingredient” in sunscreens intended for use in the sun? The agency has been studying the chemical for years but hasn’t made a decision. We have. The definitive study may not have been done, but we think we know enough to believe you’re better off without sunscreens with retinyl palmitate.
~Thanks to the Environmental Working Group

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

You Can Do a Perfect Push-Up: Here's How

Push-ups aren’t easy, but they are powerful. 
They're a good indicator of overall strength and as we age, we lose about a half pound of muscle a year (after the age of 35) if we aren't actively replacing it. So at the very least, push-ups will help you maintain muscle and strength.
Not only do they work your upper body (chest, arms and shoulders), but done correctly, they also strengthen your core, butt and quadriceps. With a push-up plan, you can build strength, track your progress and increase the number of reps you are able to do, even if you can only do one today. 
Plus, you can do push-ups anywhere — all you need is your own body weight! 
How To Have Great Push-Up Form
To prevent injury and ensure you work your muscles effectively, technique is important.
Place your feet and hands in the correct position: For a traditional push-up, your hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, hands facing forward. Your feet should be directly behind you, slightly apart. You can keep your feet further apart for increased stability until you get comfortable putting them closer together.
Think plank position when doing push-ups: To have the right technique, you want your body to be like a straight line or plank — no butt up in the air and no dropped or cranked back head. Aim for a straight line from the top of your head down through your heels. Engage your abs (photo above, left).
Slowly lower your body: With your arms straight, glutes and abs contracted, lower your body slowly toward the ground. Aim to keep your core body steady and don’t sag through your low back. (Remember to keep your butt down!) 
Use a full range of motion: Make sure you go all the way down so your chest is near the ground or your arms are at an approximate 90-degree angle. Keep your body aligned and make sure your butt isn't up in the air (photo below, left).
Only do as many as you can while keeping good form: If your form starts to slip, it’s time to stop. Each day you can try to add one more push-up to your routine and work up to doing more. Set a goal for yourself. If you can only do one now, set a goal and work your way up to doing a set of 10. 
How To Work Your Way Up To A Full Push-Up
If you’ve never tried push-ups before or if doing just one is a challenge for you, that’s OK! Remember, push-ups aren’t easy, so work up to doing a full one. Start with wall push-ups and once you have those mastered, move on to elevated push-ups and once those are a snap, move on to modified push-ups. Here’s how!
Step One: Wall Push-Ups
Set your hands on a wall at a width that’s wider than shoulder-width apart. Walk backward with your feet away from the wall until your arms are fully extended.
Lean into the wall and keep the rest of your body in a straight line. Lower yourself toward the wall until your nose almost touches the wall, and push back up to the starting position.
Add a few repetitions each day for a week or two. Once you are up to 50 in a row with good form, move to the elevated push up. 
Step Two: Elevated Push-Ups
Place your hands onto a sturdy table, chair or bench. If you start out with something as tall as a kitchen table, try to decrease the incline every few days and move down to a chair or a step. Follow the regular push-up form (on your inclined surface) and do as many in a row as you can with good form.
Practice for a week or two adding a few reps each time. Once you can do 30-50 elevated push-ups, progress to the modified push-up. 
Step Three: Modified Push-Ups
Begin with hands on the floor, wrists below your shoulders, glutes and abs engaged, knees on floor. Do a full range of motion with your chest coming down to the floor and then push back up.
Add a few modified push-ups every day and once you are up to doing at least 30-50 in a day, you are ready for full push-ups on your toes. 
Are you a newbie? Try this push-up challenge: For one month straight, add one push-up a day. Start Day 1 with 1 push-up. By day 30, you should try for 30 push-ups in a row. If you are modifying, that’s OK, just also add the challenge of working up to your toes. Record your progress on a calendar or make a chart. 
Dare I say you will soon be on your way to the groan-free push-up zone? With this plan, you will be truly impressed with your progress and how you can significantly build up your own strength. (...more to come on the divine benefits of push ups!)
~Thanks to Chris Freytag

Monday, May 18, 2015

Who is Behind these Organic Brands?

Click on the above link. Your favorite organic brand is actually owned by a multinational food company.

 The boom in organic food has boosted sales over $32 billion annually and has led some of the nation’s biggest food companies: General Mills, Coca-Cola, Perdue, Kellogg - to acquire or take stakes in smaller organic outfits.
People within the industry debate whether the entrance of the big companies could tarnish the ideals of a movement opposed to the conventional foods those firms produce. Moreover, some worry that shoppers may be too easily fooled into thinking that some of the quaintly-named organic labels, now owned by a big conventional company, is still managed by its organic founders.
 “Some of these big companies go out of their way to hide their ties to the organic labels,” said  Phil Howard, an associate professor at Michigan State University, who has tracked the changes. “They know that consumers tend to be skeptical of the corporations, that a person who buys organic is often someone looking for an alternative to conventional food."
 Howard says the influx of money from conventional food companies has brought good and bad.
 “It’s easier than ever to access to foods,” he said, “and  the prices have come down. On the other hand, there is continual pressure to weaken the national organic standards to increase profits - and the big companies have the clout to do that.”
Myra Goodman, who with her husband founded the major organic label Earthbound Farm in 1984, argued in a TED talk last year that the growth has benefited everyone. She spoke just a few months after it was announced that Earthbound Farm would be sold to dairy producer WhiteWave Foods for $600 million.
"We don’t want organic to be an exclusive club," she told the audience. "The benefits of organic farming are just too huge."
Noting that only about 4 percent of food sales go to organic products, she said that "the organic industry is way too small. Sadly, less than one percent of our farmland is organic -  that means about 99 percent is still awash in conventional agricultural chemicals," she said.
Others, however, have warned that the arrival of conventional food companies could change the industry.
Nature's Path, a large family-run label, is one of the largest organic companies to continue to rebuff corporate investors. Arjan Stephens, the son of the founders and a company vice president, said the family has been dismayed at times by the acquisition of organic brands by conventional food companies.
"We have witnessed the sale of numerous organic brands to Big Food and have also seen how many of those brands have struggled to retain their soul," he said. "While we support the growth of the organic industry, the purchase of many independent brands has come at a price....[T]he long-term effect often comes with a diluted product line, a change in company values...and decisions based solely on profits not people."
~ Thanks to Peter Whoriskey and The Washington Post

Puffy Eyes: 10 Best Home Remedies

Don’t you hate it when you wake up in the morning and you find you have puffy, swollen eyes and/or dark circles under your eyes?  There are plenty of reasons for puffy eyes and dark circles, some of which are late nights and smoking, but they are also caused by allergies, poor diet, an overly salty diet,  insomnia, chronic sinusitis, genetics, and even working too hard, spending long hours staring at a computer screen.

Image result for puffy eyes
Image result for puffy eyes

Unfortunately, sometimes plain old genetics are to blame for dark circles. While there is nothing you can do about genetics, you can take some steps to help eliminate those red, swollen eyes and lessen dark circles.

1. Chilled Spoons  If you tend to get those dark circles or puffy eyes, you can be prepared in advance. Place two metal spoons in the fridge overnight and then place them on your eyes in the morning.  Really cold spoons will cause the blood vessels in the thin skin under your eyes to constrict, reducing swelling, that puffy look, and dark circles.

2.  Cucumbers This is perhaps the oldest remedy around. Slice a cucumber and place the slices in a bag in the freezer. After an hour, take them out and place the frozen cucumber slices over your eyes for about 10 minutes. Cucumbers are full of antioxidants that ease irritation and the cooling effects of the frozen slices will reduce swelling.

3. Raw Potato Slices If you don’t have cucumbers available (or if you don’t have time to freeze them), try the potato method. Potatoes have astringent compounds that will remove excess water from under the eyes. If you often get swollen eyes due to allergies, this method should work well for you. Wash and peel a potato and place thin slices over your eyes. Allow them to work their magic for about 10 minutes, and then rinse your eyes gently with cool water.

4. Tea Bags  Remove dark circles and puffy eyes and have a great cup of tea at the same time. Green tea will work best in this instance, but black tea will also work. Green tea has more antioxidants which are the active ingredient here, but chamomile tea will also work well as it has calming, soothing compounds. Soak two teabags in hot water for about 3 minutes, and then allow the tea bags to cool to room temperature. You can drink the tea while you are waiting! Now lie down and place the tea bags over your eyes and leave them there for 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Whole Milk The fat in whole milk has a soothing effect on the skin and the amino acids whole milk contains will reduce the swelling. Saturate a clean wash cloth in cold milk, squeeze out some of the excess, and place the cloth over your eyes for 10 to 15 minutes. This will only work with whole milk or half and half, not skim milk, low fat milk, non-fat milk, or nut milks, sorry.

6. Salt Water  Salt water will get rid of excess water from around the eye area via osmosis. Mix half a teaspoon of salt with 4 cups of warm water. Be sure the salt has completely dissolved.
Soak cotton balls or a wash cloth in the salt water and then place the wet items over your eyes for about 5 minutes. Dunk the cloth again and repeat.

7. Aloe Vera  You probably have an aloe vera plant in your kitchen or garden. Aloe vera is good for a whole lot more than just burns! Cut off a leaf and slice it open lengthwise. Squeeze out the clear gel and apply it directly under the eyes, but be careful not to get any in your eye! Aloe vera is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E, which will help reduce swelling and lighten up those dark circles.

8. Massage  Sometimes, puffy eyes are due to a buildup of lymph fluid and simply massaging the area gently can remove the fluid and reduce puffiness. Place your fingers over your eyes and using gentle, circular motions, give your eyes, and the skin under your eyes, a gentle massage. Do this for about 2 minutes and you will see improvement.

9. Witch Hazel and Egg Whites Egg whites might be a bit of a pain, but they are well-known for preventing wrinkles as well as for temporarily tightening the skin. Witch hazel is also a natural astringent that tightens the skin, so this combination is excellent!

10. Ice This is really cold but a quick and easy way to tighten up blood vessels (which will lessen those dark circles) and reduce swelling. Wrap an ice cube or an ice pack in a wash cloth and apply directly to the eyes. Don’t press too hard! Hold it there for about 5 minutes.

Although it can be difficult to get rid of dark circles, some of these remedies can help, especially when used on a regular basis. In fact, you can set the alarms 15 minutes ahead of time, get their remedy from the freezer, then go back to bed, hit the snooze button, and get a few extra Z’s while lessening those swollen eyes and dark circles at the same time. Sounds like a pretty good plan!

~Thanks to

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

14 Common Foods You Should NOT Refrigerate

Although it won’t harm your health to store these 15 foods in the fridge, it is best to keep them at room temperature. Storing these common food items in the fridge can ruin their flavor, change their texture, or make them go moldy very fast.

1.  Basil

If you keep fresh basil in the fridge it will wither faster and absorb the smells of other foods in your fridge. Better keep it out the fridge in a glass of fresh water. Or freeze them for later use.

2.  Onions

In the fridge, onions will turn soft and moldy. They are best kept in a dark, cool area that is well ventilated. Separated them from your potatoes to avoid onions to rot faster.

3.  Garlic

Just as onions, garlic is best kept in a dark, cool place. When stored in the fridge they lose their flavor, go moldy, or sprout.

4.  Potatoes

Potatoes are best kept in a paper bag in your pantry or root cellar to avoid them to rot fast. In the fridge the starch in your potatoes will turn to sugars more quickly.

5.  Winter Squash

If you leave your winter squashes – like butternut, spaghetti, or acorn squash – in your pantry they will last longer and taste better.

6.  Tomatoes

Tomatoes lose their flavor when stored in the fridge. They stop ripening and the cold temperature even change their texture. So best leave your tomatoes out of the fridge in a paper bag or basket.

7.  Bananas

Green bananas should be kept at room temperature for proper ripening. When dark spot start to appear you can store them in the fridge to preserve them longer. The skin will turn brown, but the banana inside will not turn mushy.

8.  Melon

For the best flavor, keep melons on the counter at room temperature. Once cut store in the fridge for up to 4 days.

9.  Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits – like lemons, limes, and organs – are best kept in a cool dark place at room temperature to increase their flavor. They will keep for about a week, after that best place them in your fridge to preserve them for longer periods.

10.  Apples

If you store apples in the fridge it will ruin their flavor and texture. Store on the counter for up to 2 weeks. If you want to preserve them longer, store in your fridge.

11.  Unripe fruits

Unripe fruits such as peaches, nectarines, apricots, avocados, or berries are best kept outside the fridge to ripen and increase their flavor. When ripe, eat them or store in the fridge to increase their longevity.

12.  Honey

Keeping honey in the fridge causes crystallization and hardening. Actually there is no need to keep your honey in the fridge. When properly sealed it will keep for ages at room temperature.

13.  Coffee

When you store coffee in the fridge or freezer it will lose most flavor and take over the odors from the foods in your fridge. Store in a dark, cool place to preserve its aroma and freshness.

14.  Bread

Don’t store bread in your fridge, it doesn't always keep longer, and will dry out. Keep at your countertop in a paper bag or freeze for later use.
~Thanks to Samantha Hemmingway 

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