My Headstone is Being Custom Made

There are probably people who do not like to think about their own deaths. While it is not something I dwell on, it is also not something that I haven’t made preparations for. The easiest part was picking out the funeral home, the person to do my eulogy, the coffin, the preacher, and the cemetery where I will eventually be buried. It seems that would be all, but picking out the headstone was actually difficult for me. I finally found a company that makes Jewish headstones in NJ, and that made this difficult process a whole lot easier for me.

I did not want just any tombstone company creating my headstone. Continue reading

How To Include Brown Rice In Your Diet

Brown Rice is definitely a far more nutritious alternative to white rice. Most of us eat with our eyes! This may sound ridiculous, but it is quite true. If you are asked to select from two dishes made with identical ingredients, you will prefer the dish that is presented in a unique, colourful and artistic manner although both might taste the same.

Recipes using brown rice

Breakfast

Pressure-cook some rice. Take it out in a bowl. Add some milk, sugar, a pinch of salt, chopped strawberries, chopped almonds and mix well. There! You have the most delicious breakfast! It is perfectly suited for those on a slimming diet.

Alternatively, grind some oats into a powder. Mix this with some cooked rice, spices, salt, pepper and water. Prepare a medium thin batter and make pancakes.

Mid day meal

Mix some rice, vegetables, stock, spices and condiments and slow cook till it’s done.

No-time-for-lunch-meal

You know you have a long and taxing work day ahead of you. Take some leftover rice, add some salami (or bean sprouts), chopped vegetables, salad dressing and toss everything together. Just pack this in an airtight box and carry to work. You have a meal-in-a-dish salad that is low in fat, rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and fibre.

Dinner time at leisure

Kidney beans in tomato sauce, steamed brown rice and a salad are a wonderful combination for a healthy and tasty dinner. When you are cooking a special meal for family and friends, a biryani with rice and meat (or vegetables) will have everyone asking for more.

For those with a sweet tooth

You ask people which dish gives them the feel-good feeling and most of them will say it is rice pudding. Using the brown variety will make the dish a real winner.

Brown Rice Benefits

There are numerous advantages in consuming this rice:

  • Presence of HDL: It is a good source of high density lipoprotein or good cholesterol.
  • Rich source of Selenium: The selenium it contains plays a large part in preventing cancer and coronary diseases.
  • Natural source of calcium: The amount of calcium present in this rice makes it the ideal for those who are prone to arthritis.
  • High level of manganese and potassium: A very high percentage of these minerals found in this rice help the reproductive and nervous system to function optimally.
  • Dietary fibre: It adds bulk or fibre in our diet which prevents heart diseases and stroke. The fibre also prevents obesity and improves digestion.
  • Slow release carbohydrates: A diabetic would definitely find brown rice beneficial because it contains slow release carbohydrates.
  • Anti oxidants: The anti oxidants present have anti aging properties and just perfect for those in the fashion industry or showbiz.
  • Easy to digest: When you are looking for the perfect first-time solid food for a baby, there is nothing more suitable than brown rice. Besides other nutrients, it also contains iron, vitamins, zinc and magnesium which are vital for the growth of an infant.

Health Benefits of Coconut Meat

Coconut meat, the flesh that you find inside the coconut shell, is rich in potassium, manganese and copper. The coconut meat inside a tender coconut will be juicy and soft, and inside a mature coconut will be solid and crunchy. It becomes tougher as the coconut becomes more mature. Coconut oil is extracted from mature coconut.

Coconut is found in tropical regions, and people who live in such regions include coconut in anything and everything they cook. There is a lot of buzz currently on the health benefits. Earlier, doctors used to advise not to include coconut meat and coconut oil in your diet as there was a wrong notion that coconut is full of bad cholesterol. On the contrary, now people around the world have come to realise the innumerable health benefits of them. Doctors have started advising to eat them both daily as they have many positive effects on your overall health.

Coconut and the products derived from it like coconut meat were considered unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content. However, recent studies show that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat that is essential for the body, is there in it.

The MCTs in the coconut meat are straight away converted into fuel. So the MCTs are not getting deposited as fat in fat tissues in the body. Those who are trying to reduce weight should include coconut products in their diet as they will only aid weight loss.

By eating coconut your body gets energy and also helps brain development. Brain makes use of glucose as energy source. When the brain’s ability to make use of glucose is severely impaired, it leads to neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s. You need medium-chain triglycerides to alleviate the symptoms of such neurological disorders and for that you must eat coconut meat.

Cardiologists were dead against including coconut in your diet a few years ago as they thought it will cause heart diseases. But now they advise their patients to eat coconut meat as studies have proved that it will prevent heart disease and stroke as well. Apparently, new studies have found that it has certain amounts of vitamins A and E, and polyphenols and phytosterols. They will lower bad cholesterol in your body. LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol is fats that stay in the blood and skin tissues. If LDL cholesterol is high in our body it can lead to cardiovascular diseases. It has even been found that people who include coconut in their food has lower incidence of stroke and heart diseases.

It is easy to include it in your diet. You can even eat it in its raw form or you can grind it and use the milk that you get from the meat to prepare curries. Shredded coconut meat is used to make sweets and even salads. By including it in any dish you can make it really tasty. Nothing can beat the taste of freshly made coconut chutney with raw mango and green chilly.

The Benefits Of Making Pasta A Regular Part Of Your Diet

Pasta is one of the best-loved comfort foods in the world. It is just as versatile as it is inexpensive and it can be served with a number of different sauces. Sadly, this is a simple carbohydrate meaning that your body breaks it down and burns it fast. As such, it is gotten a negative reputation among the weight loss community. Following, however, are several incredible reasons why this delicious dish should be made a regular part of your diet.

For busy people, this is one of the most portable foods out there. For instance, if you regularly pack your lunch for work, you can easily store this in a coverage dish and rewarm it at lunch time. This will provide a hearty, filling meal that will give you lots of energy and at a nominal cost. Bringing leftover pasta to work is infinitely cheaper than paying to have someone in a local deli make your lunch for you.

Another major benefit that you can gain from this food is the ability to make vegetables tasty. For instance, if you have a hard time getting your youngsters to eat lots of produce, this is a great way to sneak a colorful range of nutrient-dense veggies into your child’s meals. Your child will hardly know that you have diced up peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and olives into this dish.

There is no way to overstate the fact that pasta is incredibly cheap. That is why it is a regular staple in many households. Moreover, one small box can go a very long way. For families that are constantly trying to eke it out, this is the perfect food for ensuring that everyone can sate themselves at dinnertime, every time.

Bodybuilders load up on this carb with good reason. It quickly breaks down to a lot of usable energy. Whether you are currently working in the gym to build up your mass or simply need more fuel to get you through the day, start munching on this simple food at lunch time and you will find that you have more stamina and better focus for hours on end.

People should know that they don’t always have to cook this dish at home in order to recognize its many impressive benefits. You can enjoy how easy, portable, delicious and filling pasta is by simply taking your family out to a restaurant that serves Italian food. Best of all, you can take any leftovers that you have to lunch with you the next day, so that you can enjoy the succulent and perfectly blended flavors of this popular cuisine all over again.

The Real Problem With Fast Food

New research from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health suggests that indulging in just one fast food meal per week increases the risk of dying from coronary heart disease by 20 percent compared to those who abstain from it. Does who take it four or more times a week has 80 percent increase compared to those who don’t yield to the temptation. The statistics come from Chinese residents of Singapore, which the Minnesota team described as “a hotbed for diabetes and heart disease.” The investigators examined data collected over 16 years beginning in 1993 and followed the eating habits of 52,000 individuals. Another surprise: the study participants who reported eating the most fast food were younger, better educated, smoked less and were more likely to be physically active – a profile the researchers noted is normally associated with lower cardio-metabolic risk.

Though eating of fast food is part of our lifestyle. in a study published in the April 2004 issue of the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition.” Eating too much of it have health consequences. A number of studies have linked fast food to health problems, It including an increased risk of obesity, poor nutrition, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It’s advisable to limit the consumption to reduce health risks.

Higher Risk of Obesity

In a large study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the January 2005 issue of “Lancet,” young adults who consumed it more than twice a week gained 10 more pounds than those who had it less than once a week. The study in April 2004 issue of the “Journal of American College of Nutrition” found that adults ages 20 and older who frequently ate fast food had higher body mass indexes than those who consumed it less. A small order of fries and a large hamburger of it has about 800 calories, and sweetened soft drinks, which are often sold with fast food meals, have been linked to obesity in several studies.

Higher Risk of Poor Nutrition

Data from more than 17,000 adults and children analyzed and published in the October 2003 issue of the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association” showed that those who frequently consumed it had lower intakes of vitamins A and C, dietary fiber, milk and fruits and vegetables than subjects who don’t it. The fast-food eaters also had higher intakes of calories, saturated fat and sodium than the other subjects. Consumption of carbonated soft drinks was more than double for the frequent fast food eaters, who also consumed more than twice the amount of fried potatoes as those who don’t.

Risk of Diabetes and Stroke

It incidence of insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes, in the 2005 study published in “Lancet,” and a 2010 Harvard report linked sweetened soft drinks with an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, the risk of stroke may be related to the number of fast food restaurants in a neighborhood, according to a study published in the “Annals of Neurology” in 2009. The study found the risk of stroke increased by 1 percent for every fast food restaurant in a Texas neighborhood. It is loaded with sodium, which increases the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Heart Healthy Porridge

The recent addition to my breakfast, Yola Porridge is packed with nuts and seeds and brings a whole new dimension to healthy porridge. Lots of Breakfast cereals have wheat as the main grain. Many people do not realise that a large % of the population have an intolerance to wheat. You could be intolerant and not even know that it does not agree with your body. I myself have a slight intolerance to wheat, if I eat a lot of white bread my body would suffer gut pains. This was bad for my body and as soon as I realised that wheat was my problem. I cut out the bulk intake. My body was functioning perfectly and my pains ceased completely.

Although I had cut bread out of my diet, I found it hard to find a substitute cereal that was wheat free. It was not very hard to find wheat free Granola or Porridge but finding one that I really enjoyed was the main hardship. Till I found this great Irish produce Yola Porridge. Porridge is easy to digest Great for young or old, even great as a slow release of energy for athletes in training. Its Jumbo oat flakes and oat bran combine to ensure a hearty, Low G.I. breakfast.

Yola Porridge

The Nuts and Seeds add great flavour and texture. Almonds, Sunflower Seeds contain a host of healthful nutrients. Just a handful packs a helpful punch of vitamins, minerals and fats, all of which work together to affect your heart, your brain and your waistline. I never get those low points before lunch after having porridge for breakfast. I found myself snacking less and feel much healthier now a days.

I eat porridge for breakfast most mornings, but eating the same thing everyday can become extremely boring. There is an easy way to jazzing up regular old porridge, it’s really filling and super healthy! If you’re avoiding dairy or just want to change things up by all means use almond or soya milk instead. You can add honey, cinnamon, nuts, seeds, fruit, sugar the list is endless. So many things can be added to may porridge more palatable. My personal favourite is adding blueberries, I even arrange them to make a smiley face, which is a bit of fun for the kids too.

Easy Tips to Spice Up Your Diet

I love adding spices to my cooking. Besides some of the well-hyped health benefits, they just make food more interesting. The same ingredients from one dish can be magically transformed into something completely different just based on the spice profile. It can set apart one region’s or even one person’s cooking from another. It separates, say, East coast cuisine from the West, as well as Aunt Emma’s chili from your own concoction. Spices make all the difference.

Now, truth be told, I’m more talk than action. I have over 40 spices in my cabinet, carefully labeled and arranged alphabetically, but honestly they only get touched maybe once or twice a week. Clearly I like the idea of spices, but practically speaking I am not as committed as I let on. I hope that is about to change, both for you and for me.

Recently I had the privilege of traveling to India. Besides the wild colors, bold aromas, and beautiful antiquities, the food is an attraction in its own merit. Oh the food. I wish I could transport myself back there as I write this. The food was so rich, so colorful, so flavorful, and so fragrant. It completely engaged all the senses. You got the sense that food is vitally important. It is not an afterthought but an important and well-planned part of the day. Along with that, the use of spices for creating unique flavor profiles is paramount.

Coming back after two weeks to Seattle, I realized my own diet was really quite bland. Kale salad, while healthy, doesn’t pack any punch in the flavor or the color department. Good ol’ turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread? Pretty boring all around unless you bump it up with some heavy hitting mustard and maybe some tangy arugula and heirloom tomatoes. Even still, on the whole, our food is just drab. No wonder many Indians retain much of their familiar ways of cooking when moving here, and some have even opened Indian grocers to import traditional food items (which I think we can all say we are extremely grateful for!).

Besides taste and cultural norms, there are other reasons to value spice in your life. As I alluded to earlier, there are many health benefits to including more spice in your diet.

Number one is the anti-inflammatory benefit. Many spices have specific properties that allow them to act as potent anti-oxidants. Turmeric is one of the currently most popular and studied examples. Countless research papers have shown turmeric, and its active component curcumin, to have anti-oxidant properties. Other spices that shine as anti-oxidants stars, although far less publicized, include oregano, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and mustard seed, among countless others.

Number two is that many spices act as anti-microbial agents. In fact, back in the day spices were highly valued due to the lack of refrigeration. Heavy use of spices could kill disease causing pathogens and keep food safe to eat. These properties also apply internally by killing off unwanted bacteria and viruses. A great reason to increase spice consumption during the winter!

Some spices also have other very specific health benefits, such as helping to reduce blood pressure, calming tense nerves, quieting nausea, or easing digestion. They can be used in appropriate doses therapeutically, however by including a wide variety in cooking you are ensuring your body benefits from a broad range of these health-supportive spices.

So returning from India and feeling quite depressed about my “boring” diet, I have become resolved to practice what I preach. I am no longer satisfied with a few dashes of chili powder here or a few shakes of Italian seasoning there. No, I want to re-create that depth and richness I so fully enjoyed abroad in my own cooking at home. Armed with a bagful of new spices (thank you Kerala spice shop and US customs for letting me cart all these goodies home!), I have found new resolve to cook more interesting dishes and significantly ramp up my intake of herbs and spices.

Are you on board with me? If so you might be wondering, how do we get started?

First of all, we need some ideas. And by ideas I mean recipes. I have very little experience with cooking these types of dishes, so recipes and instructions are my best friend. Believe me, I never whizz this stuff up off the top of my head. I am just not that talented in the culinary department.

What ideas do I have, you ask? Curry, curry, curry… for starters. There are so many amazing curry options, and contrary to popular belief, they do not have to be spicy. I have been making mild curries that my kids enjoy, many of which include various types of vegetables and lean meats. Often you can get protein, veg, and healthy fats all in one dish. Add a little rice or roti on the side and you have a complete meal.

Other cuisines to look into include African and Middle Eastern cooking. These also tend to rely heavily on many types of spices. Right now I am eyeing my Exotic Ethiopian Cooking cookbook sitting on the shelf beside me, trying to ready my brain for diving in one of these days. Gear yourself up with a variety of recipes, either from books, magazines, or the internet, and start to catalog the types of dishes you want to attempt.

Next we need ingredients, and by that I mean the actual spices. This is the tricky part! I have found that some spices are exceedingly hard to come by at local grocers. If you can, find ethnic markets in your area and explore. We are blessed with many international communities in and around Seattle, so I am planning some reconnaissance missions in the near future. Otherwise, search online if what you are seeking remains elusive.

Evolution of Eating Healthy

I haven’t always been someone who eats healthy. I was raised in the days of TV dinners on trays, sitting in front of Gilligan’s Island in the TV room with my three siblings. Good nutrition and eating healthy may come easily to some, but for the rest of us, it may be a gradual progression of steps.

My family rarely visited or spoke during dinner. Commercials were reserved for running into the kitchen to get more milk. For variety, we would have canned SpaghettiOs, or Campbell’s soup with grilled cheese. Healthy wasn’t a concept that entered into my mind when eating. The goals were good taste and ease of preparation.

This changed when, at nineteen, I took a class on values clarification. The instructor had us assess what our values were by looking at where we were putting our time and energy, and considering what was most important to ourselves. I realized there was a huge contrast between my desire to be healthy and the food choices I was making.

Many of my peers were making their own granola, yogurt and growing vegetables to eat. The “hip” thing was to be a vegetarian. I wanted to be doing these sorts of things, but instead I was eating junk. So, at twenty I became a vegetarian… and started consuming vast amounts of dairy, wheat, and sugar. This phase was, perhaps healthier than the processed food, but it was still essentially lacking in nutrition.

This period was followed by getting married, having four children and wanting them to be as healthy as possible. I call this the tofu stage. I put tofu in almost every dish I made and packed tofu dogs in the kid’s lunches. I felt proud to be raising 4 vegetarian children in a society full of carnivores. Tofu and dairy competed for my attention. Our family favorites, after tofu, were bean and cheese burritos, and macaroni and cheese. To this day none of my four grown children will eat tofu!

I was, indeed, pretty ignorant about healthy eating. Fortunately for my family, I began teaching kindergarten at the private school that my children attended. The school was part of a spiritual yoga community that provided healthy vegetarian food. Things like, brown rice, steamed veggies, fresh salads, and homemade breads and soups were offered every day. Suddenly, my spectrum of healthy foods had many colors and textures and my kids were exposed to a new way of eating. They loved the healthy new foods and so did I.

This period was followed by divorce and the craziness of single-parenting four children. Time became limited, money was tight and priorities had to change. Once again, healthy food choices gave way to convenience and price. I rarely shopped at the local health food store and often filled in the gaps with pizzas, quesadillas, and canned beans. I assigned a night for each child to cook, and our meals were simple and filling. Flour, rice, beans, and pasta were at the top of the menu. Fresh vegetables cost too much so I bought frozen veggies sincerely thinking I was feeding the kids good food.

Fortunately, my awareness of what is genuinely healthy and nutritional food has changed. These days, my children are all grown and I am living on my own. I can afford to buy and choose what I want, and I have continued to evolve my own diet.

Three-and-a-half years ago, I gave up dairy and gluten to get rid of my eczema problem. Then, just 9 months ago, I gave up sugar and chocolate as well. I now have an awareness of the adverse effects of GMO foods on the body, and have started buying organic as much as possible. I see that I am a slow learner when it comes to health and nutrition. But, gradually over time, I have been able to incorporate improvements into my food choices. This transition is happening bit by bit and I am reaping the benefits of my improved healthier diet. My head is clearer, I have more energy, my health is excellent and I feel good about what I eat. Having moved away from processed food, I find that food in its natural state tastes even better.

Who knows, perhaps for the next step, I will become a raw food connoisseur? I encourage you, wherever you are in your dietary choices, to be open to the changes that can bring the priceless gifts of good health and well-being.

Benefits of Paper Bags for Fresh Food

Paper bags are a popular option for a wide range of food items. In addition to being resilient and durable, they are also very cheap and make a great eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags. The paper bags are both biodegradable and recyclable and can be reused on several occasions, provided they are taken care of. Plus, this type of bag is practical for a diverse range of food items, such as spices, candy, cookies, nuts, tea and coffee. This material is also easy to customize to a preferred shape or size, while also being easy to brand with a logo or other mark.

Here are a few of the food items to keep in the paper bags:

Tea leaves

Paper bags are a very useful choice for keeping loose tea leaves fresh. A great benefit of maintaining the freshness of the tea leaves is to avoid losing their potency which will have a negative impact on the taste. Also, these bags can include a polylactic (PLA) lining which is biodegradable and further helps to preserve the freshness.

Nuts and snack foods

Nuts or similar snacks are quick to lose their freshness, aromas and flavor if not kept in an appropriate sealed bag or box. Paper bags that are specially lined are a simple and cost-effective solution for keeping the freshness in. The bags with a reusable design have a metal tab to close the opening and make sure the freshness of the nuts is maintained. Plus, the inside liners are useful for protecting the food against outside elements.

Spices

Spices, flour, salt, sugar, etc. are a great choice to pack in the paper bags. Any of these food items can easily lose their freshness and the ability to seal the bag helps with preserving the flavorful characteristics, while also locking out pests.

Foods with a quite intense flavor can have issues with not only the loss of flavor, but also to attract the flavor of the actual storage container. To avoid issues like this, it is best to use the purpose made bags that protect the ingredients without passing across any unwanted taste.

Also, the paper bags with a polypropylene or glassine liner are a practical choice for maintaining the taste and aroma of the freshly ground coffee

What Are the Fads and Fashions of Food?

How did food fashion change?

Exploration. India had the spices, and China had the tea and those going to far-flung locations started to set up trading. Much of the food we eat today, however, actually originated in the Americas. The pilgrims may have brought the turkey to the first Thanksgiving, but it was the native-Americans who showed up with the pumpkins, corn, beans and sunflowers. While the potato may have saved the Irish from the famine, it was the native-Americans who first cultivated them.

Refrigeration. While it was invented in 1805, refrigerators didn’t really become a must-have have appliance until after World War II when the average household could afford one.

All of a sudden food could be transported from one area or country to another. Roast lamb from New Zealand became a delicacy in England. It was fashionable to serve exotic imported food to impress the guests.

Fast food. Then junk hit the scene big time. The origins of the hamburger have been put through the meat grinder with many claiming to have invented it. And it became trendy so people flocked in that direction and burger joints sprung up all over the place.

People went from eating organic food to chowing-down on what Jamie Oliver exposed as MacDonald’s pink slime that processed meat unfit for human consumption into burgers. Yum.

Then there is the hot dog. Basically it is the scrapings of the abattoir floor stuffed into a condom with enough preservatives so they last forever.

Local, organic and in-season

How local is local? Check out the farmer’s markets. But just because oranges don’t grow in Fargo does it that mean people there should quit eating them? Supermarkets do have their uses.

Organic is gaining momentum in certain circles. In 2002 the United State Department of Agriculture got involved. Translated that means bureaucracy, paper work and permits to insure there are no pesticides or antibiotics in the produce. The up-side is that it saves chicken-eating men from developing male boobs.

In-season implies that the fruits and vegetables are fresh. Then, again, they may have been sitting in the supermarket for two weeks and being sprayed with H2O three times a day.

Fortunately, in a democratic society people can make a decision about what they want to eat. Local, organic or pink slime — over to the consumer.

The last question

What will be the next food fashion? All ready popular in South East Asia, one trend suggestion that is local, organic and in-season is bugs – grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, wasps – as they are pure protein. And may well be the next delicacy.