EducationSkills

Have a big test coming up? Working on a project with others? Study groups can be a very effective – and fun! – way to further your education. Studying with others provide the opportunity to make sure you didn’t miss out on any pertinent information and to learn from one another if a certain topic is confusing to you. It also allows you to explain concepts to others, which helps you better remember the information.

Run a productive study group with these techniques:

Create a Study Guideline before the Meeting

Email everyone in the Study Group an outline for the meeting. If there’s a topic you’re focusing on, or if it’s a broad overview of everything that might be on a test, break the meeting down by half hour or hour so that you can all stay on track. This way, people know what to expect when they come to the study group. Also, if there are any missing topics or terms, they can be filled into the guideline before everyone meets.

Pinpoint Confusing Concepts

Utilize the Study Group time to focus on confusing concepts. Go over the class lessons as a whole, but spend more time on topics that are more challenging. Try explaining the concepts to each other – saying what you need to know out loud will help you remember it later on.

Arrive Prepared

Don’t show up to Study Groups not having looked over the material. You want to be a participating member and offer your knowledge. Avoid joining the study group just to sit back and check your notes. Help others on topics they might be fuzzy about. Arrive ready to have a conversation and to prepare for the upcoming test or project.

Divvy Up Responsibilities

Before everyone meets for the Study Group, dividing responsibilities is a great way to relieve some of the burden of studying. Each week someone can take on the responsibility of being the leader of the Study Group, or you can designate just one person, and he or she can break down the topics that need to be covered and who is in charge of each one. If one person in the Study Group is more knowledgeable in the History of the Atomic Model, another person is better at explaining the Periodic Table, and you understand the Ionic and Metallic Bonding, you can all work together to teach other these topics. Play up your strengths to help yourself and others.

Limit Study Group Size

To prevent too much socialization and to make sure everyone has a chance to participate, limit the Study Group size to four to six people. This way everyone’s voice can be heard and it doesn’t become too overwhelming. Study with classmates who share the same goal of earning good grades. This isn’t social hour or a gossip group, so choose to study with people who want to focus and learn.

Make the Timing of Meetings Manageable

In order not to get burned out, overwhelmed, or easily distracted, make the Study Group meetings no more than two hours, with a ten minute break. It’s better to meet for two hours twice a week than four hours once a week. You’ll all be more productive and more time to study and sort out what questions you have. Meet in your school’s library, a local coffee shop, in an empty classroom, or outside on the grass – somewhere that is conducive to paying attention and being able to hear one another.

Eliminate Distractions

This isn’t the time for everyone to be on their phones texting or listening to music. Put phones, laptops, and other devices away. Use the time you have to stay focused and on target. This is the time to pick each other’s brains about confusing concepts, so make the most of it!

Bring Snacks

During your short break, it never hurts to have a granola bar or piece of fruit on hand. Stay energized during this power hour(s) of Study Group.

What tips do you have for running productive Study Groups?

Image by Breather

Health

Before I decided to cut meat out of my life, I loved a good chicken salad. Sometimes I see a rotisserie chicken salad at the supermarket and feel a tiny pang of sadness and regret (not really, but I do get a craving every now and then). So, imagine my utter joy when I came across this mashed chickpea salad recipe from The Simple Veganista.

The ingredient list is short and sweet, just like the preparation. It requires no cooking, just a little chopping ,a little mashing, a little mixing, and a lot of face-stuffing.

And oh my, it is so, so delicious – very reminiscent of a good ole’ chicken salad. But don’t take it from me – try it yourself! I put a slight spin on her original recipe, but kept it pretty close to the original.

You’ll Need:

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup shredded carrots (you could also dice carrots)
½ cup green onions, sliced
¼ cup Simply Mayo (if you want a vegan mayo that tastes like mayo, TRY SIMPLY MAYO. Amazing.)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
Dash of garlic powder (ok, I used more than a dash… I like a lot of it)
Juice of ½ lemon (optional, but adds refreshing flavor)

The prep:

Drain and rinse your chickpeas, then mash them in a bowl with a potato masher or the back of a fork, until your desired texture is reached.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir until mixed.

You’re done! All you need to do now is serve it on a sandwich, with crackers, on a bed of greens or straight up out of the bowl. My favorite way to eat it is in a pita pocket with spinach.

It is an amazingly delicious lunch, dinner and snack, full of protein and fiber. Let us know what you think!

What smart snacks are you enjoying?

Image: Emma

Health

This is one of my favorite quick and easy snacks to prepare. Portabellas are often called the meat of the vegetable world, so these little guys are super filling, and can double as an appetizer, wrap filler or salad topper.

Here’s what you’ll need to make about 30 garlicky portabella bites:

  • 5 large portabella mushrooms
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups garlic and herb breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Remove the gills from the portabellas and rinse them.
  2. Slice them into strips. You can cut the strips in half if you want to make the bites smaller.
  3. Beat the three eggs together, mixing in the garlic powder and as much salt and pepper as you prefer.
  4. Dip the portabella strips in the egg mixture.
  5. Dip them into the bread crumbs, coating all sides of the portabella.
  6. Place a tbsp. olive oil in a pan and swirl to coat the pan.
  7. Place the pan over medium heat and place the portabella strips on the pan, cooking for around 3 minutes on each side. Depending on the size of your strips, you may need to cook for longer. When the crust is golden brown, flip them.
  8. Tip: to save for later, coat the mushrooms in the batter and put in the fridge for later – you can cook all of them up later in under 15 minutes!

These taste great with ranch dressing or aioli!

What smart snacks are you enjoying? Share below!

Image: Big Bear’s Wife

HealthRecipesWellness

As a vegetarian who hates eggs, I have to get my protein somewhere, which means I use a lot of legumes in my cooking. And, most of the time I’m too busy (read: unwilling) to cook an elaborate meal. Thus, I rely a lot on no-cook recipes to get me through my days.

Below are two of my newfound favorite bean dips that make perfect spreads and sandwich/taco fillers, veggie dips, or just meals on their own. They’re filling and delicious, and best of all, they each take under 20 minutes to make!

recipe 1

Spicy Mango Black Bean Salsa

Summer is technically over, but I live in Texas, which means it still feels pretty dang summery. So, I’ve used it as an excuse to continue making my refreshing mango salsa. This is one of my absolute favorites; I put it on tortillas to make vegetarian tacos, use it for nachos, put it on salads or just eat it plain.

1 Keitt mango (very large) or 2 medium sized mangos cut into small chunks
1 tomato, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 avocado, chopped
1 can black beans
Jalapenos (either 1 fresh, chopped, or as many pickled jalapeno slices as you please)
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Hot sauce (as MUCH as you want! Cholula is my favorite)
Red wine vinegar (just a dash)
Cilantro (a pinch)

This is so easy.

First, rinse and drain the black beans. I like to keep as much liquid out of the salsa as possible. Next, pour the beans into a large bowl with everything else, and mix it together. This recipe makes a good amount of salsa; at least three meals’ worth.

I like to play around with the amount of hot sauce/jalapenos/red wine vinegar/salt and pepper/other ingredients. Sometimes I add random spices, like paprika, and sometimes I add in corn. The point is to make it your own! Taste it as you mix, adding ingredients as you see fit.

There are a lot of different flavors involved in this one, so it makes for an awesome meal.

recipe 3

Kale & White Bean Hummus

I love this dip. I put it on sandwiches with cucumbers, shredded carrots, sliced bell peppers and chopped red onion (you could add feta and other veggies, too) and it’s so delicious. It also makes a perfect veggie dip and goes great on pita bread. This morning I ate it straight with a spoon.

2 cans white or cannellini beans
½ cup pesto
Balsamic vinaigrette
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Literally, pour all the ingredients into a food processor. Mix them. Done. Add balsamic, salt and lemon juice as needed once mixed. Like I said, this goes perfectly on a veggie (or meat if you’re into that) sandwich.

What smart snacks are you enjoying?

Images: Maggie Hoffman, Nora Kuby

Health

We all know the basics of healthy eating and the benefits that come with it. Unfortunately it may not be the most fun – or easiest – thing in the world to actually do. Here are five yummy recipes to try out to satisfy your taste buds and your inner health-fanatic!

Twizzler Dupe

If you cut strawberries and put them in the oven until they’re mostly dried out, they’ll become a delicious treat more yummy and healthier than Twizzlers! Throw these in a bag and bring them to the movies for the perfect snack.

Bananas and Peanut Butter

You can’t go wrong with this classic and mouthwatering combination! Try peanut butter and banana slices on toast for a yummy snack that will fill you up and satisfy your craving for something both sweet and salty!

Strawberry Yogurt Treat

If you’re looking for a refreshing snack, try cutting strawberries in half and dipping them in yogurt. Put them in the freezer until the yogurt is frozen and a savory treat is made with two completely healthy ingredients!

Yogurt Parfait

Try vanilla yogurt with your choice of fruit and some granola. This is the perfect healthy treat that can be eaten as breakfast, an everyday snack, or a refreshing dessert!

Banana Ice Cream

Banana and a little bit of vanilla extract in a blender make a delicious and guilt-free ice cream when put in the freezer! It’s the perfect summer treat when you’re craving something sweet.

What are your favorite healthy snacks? Let us know on Twitter with the hashtags #snacktime and #seizeyouryouth!

Image: Foodie’s Feed

EducationHealth

We’ve all heard of the horrifying myth of the Freshman 15 and unfortunately—it’s real. Juggling classes, internships, and a social life can make it hard to find the motivation (and time) to hit the gym, so here are some tips to avoid the Freshman 15 even with that busy schedule!

1. Monitor What You Eat
You can’t always be eating healthy, especially with the sometimes limited options given to you on campus, but you can keep track of what you’re putting in your body and how much of that contributes to a healthy diet. Apps like MyFitnessPal really allow you to monitor what you’re eating based on your individual height and weight. It gives you a daily calorie intake based on this information and lets you keep track of the foods you eat and how many calories they contain. It also gives you other helpful information such as showing a pie chart of the carbohydrates, fat, and protein percentages you have consumed throughout the day. It also allows you to put in any exercise you do and the amount of calories it should make up for!

2. Have Healthy Snacks in Your Dorm
Having healthy foods in your dorm for midnight snacking is vital. When you’re craving something sweet, reach for fruit snacks instead of chocolate. Foods such as Goldfish, Cheerios, granola bars, and trail mix are snacks you’ll be able to eat at your heart’s desire without worrying about their nutritional value, or lack thereof.

3. Treat Yourself Once in a While
It’s okay to have that chocolate ice cream you’ve been craving—just don’t make it an everyday habit! Try making junk food a reward for doing well on a really hard exam or finishing a great workout. Also, an emergency stash of chocolate for times of need never hurt anyone!

4. Drink Plenty of Water
Water is the life saver of staying healthy and in shape. Make sure to drink a surplus of it and to drink water in place of soda and other beverages as often as possible. Drinking a lot of water will help curb the munchies for unhealthy food!

5. Find a Gym Buddy
Having a friend to go to the gym with will make working out and staying healthy way easier! A friend will help give you the motivation to stick with it, as well as make you feel more comfortable going to the gym rather than walking there alone. Take advantage of your schools facilities!

At the end of the day, don’t stress over the weight you may or may not gain in college. Do what you can to stay healthy and try to make more good decisions than bad ones. Enjoy the experience and the yummy food that comes with it!

EducationSkills

Finals are always stressful, especially when they fall right before the winter holiday. That means that while you are preparing for finals, you are also trying to arrange your trip home, pack up your bags, and shop for holiday gifts. It makes sense that on top of all these endless ‘to-dos,’ exams seem like an especially daunting task. Keep these in mind as you prepare for your winter finals…

1. Keep a Clean Work Space

Having an organized desk helps you focus better on the task at hand rather than being distracted by the clutter around you. Take one minute before each study session to throw away trash, organize pens and pencils, and remove unnecessary books or papers that you will not need for the next hour.

2. Time Yourself

Keep track of how much time you spend sitting and staring at a book or screen. It is better to concentrate for smaller increments of time if it helps you stay on track.

3. Keep a Calendar Nearby

Try hanging a poster up on your wall and mark the day finals end with a star or circle. Having a visual countdown could help keep you optimistic and concentrated on the goal!

4. Incentivize

In the world of Netflix/Facebook/Twitter/iTunes, it can be hard to stay focused while studying. To combat these temptations, give yourself small rewards along the way. For example, set a timer for two hours and at the end of that time, reward yourself with a piece of candy, a walk outside, a stretch break, or a phone call with a friend. You can also try a long-term incentive by choosing a larger reward and requiring yourself to study for an hour every day for a month. At the end of the month you are allowed to receive the reward if you have met the requirements.

5. Stay Hydrated and Snack Smartly

These tricks sound too simple to be true but they are the easiest ways to keep alert and awake. While it is easy to grab a bag of chips and a soda, the best way to stay full and hydrated is by eating fruits or veggies and slurping down H20!

6. Work at Your Desk

If you live in a small dorm room, avoid combining your private space with your work space. Do not sit on your bed while doing work, as this leads to distractions and a nap you did not see coming. If you do not have a desk in your room, head over to the library or work at your dining room table. Designating a work space will help keep you on track.

Good luck with your exams!