Health

When it comes to veganism and/or vegetarianism, there are endless misconceptions that people have toward those who adopt this diet and more often than not, they’re unfortunately negative ones. I know that I have experienced that classic deep sigh or eye roll when people find out I am a vegetarian, and I many times don’t see the need for it. For that reason, I hope that this piece helps you recognize that not all of these judgments apply.

Stereotypes

Two stereotypes that are very much present is that any given vegan or vegetarian is either an extremist animal rights activist or a tree hugging hippie. Not all vegans and/or vegetarians are animal rights activists trying to shove their beliefs down your throat. In fact, some may be indifferent as their choice of diet may be due to many different reasons ranging from the ethics of the meat industry to their personal health. And not all are hippies that cry out for peace, and one must realize that very different people adapt the “veg-head” lifestyle – people of all backgrounds, races, sizes, classes, personalities, and genders. For example, some vegan/ vegetarian celebrities include Pamela Anderson, Brad Pitt, Russell Brand, Mike Tyson, Bill Clinton, Andre 3000, and Ariana Grande. As you can see, veggies are all scattered all around!

Nutritional Deficiency

Another misconception that vegans and vegetarians experience is that all suffer from some sort of nutritional deficiency. When I first told my mother I had decided to stop consuming meat, she asked me to consume a protein shake a couple of times a week. It is important that people understand that there are many alternative ways of acquiring protein; meat is not the only source out there. For example, there are other foods that have a high and/or equivalent amount of protein to meat such as seitan, tofu, beans, quinoa, tempeh, chia seeds, spinach, nuts, and peas. These are all excellent sources of protein.

Another worry is attaining a sufficient amount of calcium. The famous “Got Milk?” commercial really sparked the belief that the only way to attain calcium is through milk. However, like protein, there are many other ways to attain calcium. For example, consuming collards, black-eyed peas, tofu, beans, lettuce, green peas, soy milk, oranges, and even almonds are all exceptional sources of calcium.

Iron deficiency is another big one. Other ways of attaining iron are by eating beans, dried fruits, iron-fortified foods, spinach, tofu, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, olives, peas, asparagus, coconut, berries, and arugula.

Hopefully you’re starting to get the idea! Veggies are basically superfoods and having a good amount of them can definitely call for a balanced diet with all of the necessary vitamins and minerals!

Carnophobia

The very last point I would like to bring to light is that not all vegans and vegetarians have carnophobia, aka they’re scared of meat. Many times I will experience friends who get a bit anxious when picking a restaurant because they want to make sure there are vegetarian options. Or other times, they are almost apologetic when eating meat in front of me. Personally, neither of these should be issues. Most restaurants now have vegetarian options and for my fellow vegans, salads are increasing in popularity. On the other hand, why not check out a veggie restaurant? Delicious and untried always make a fabulous combo!

There are many vegan and vegetarian misconceptions out there and sometimes they may not always be true. The reality of vegans and vegetarians may be very different from the common perceptions people have of them. For that reason, I invite you to always check out the facts of any situation before forming opinions.

Image: Lauren Jessen

Health

It’s that time of year where Jack Frost just seems to not want to leave us alone, and that means the sniffles and coughing are bound to start following soon enough. While a little cold might not be detrimental to your health, here are some tricks to keeping that bug away so you can enjoy a fun-filled winter wonderland!

1. Take Notes From Mrs. Claus

No one wants a skinny Santa! Likewise, make sure you’re eating right this winter. Getting the right nutrients is important, and while eating a salad is great to stay healthy, make sure you’re getting your protein and eating some warm foods like soup! The healthier you eat, the stronger your body and immune system will be when it comes to fitting off the cold.

2. Kris Kringle Knew a Thing or Two

The man himself sure knew how to make a statement with his wardrobe! And while we may not all feel like we’re able to rock a head-to-toe red velvet pantsuit, Kris Kringle knew that dressing to brace the cold was the only way to get through all those blizzards! Make sure you wear lots of layers and keep warm! Protecting your head, chest, hands, and feet are key points in your body to prevent you from getting sick; so don’t cut back when it comes to gloves and a hat!

3. We Can’t All be Frosty

As much fun as Frosty looked like he was having when he was running all about town in the snow, we can’t all live in the cold! Make sure you stay in once in a while, and enjoy a hot cup of cocoa while you’re at it! Being outdoors too much during the cold weather can really wear down your body.

While these tips seem simple, make sure to keep them in mind this winter! Staying safe and healthy really allows you to enjoy the holiday season; and while Rudolph looks adorable with his red nose, it might be better if we just leave that to him!

Image: CileSuns92

CultureHealth

“Outdated,” “meaningless,” and “bland” are the three words my friend used when I asked him to describe his thoughts on classical music. I grew up listening to Debussy, Mozart, and Beethoven, but for many people, classical music serves no benefits. Contrary to many beliefs, classical tunes have actually proven to improve mental health and reduce stress. Maybe it’s time to reconsider those playlist choices.

Improves Sleep Quality

A study was done in 2008 to manifest the positive effects classical music has on students who have trouble sleeping. From the 94 students who participated, they were each divided into groups of three (group 1, 2, and 3). Group 1  listened to 45 minutes of classical music (or relaxing music) while Group 2 listened to an audio book and Group 3 was the control group, meaning they had no change in their usual routine before bed. The outcome resulted in an improved sleep quality in Group 1. Essentially, if you are a student suffering from insomnia or trouble falling asleep, try tuning into some relaxing tunes instead of techno or pop before going to bed. You may definitely find some developments.

Increase Intelligence

Listening to classical music actually makes you smarter. Cool, huh? In 1993, studies showed a correlation between listening to classical music and increased IQ levels. The outcome? American capitalism taking advantage, of course. This is spurred the release of products like baby Mozart and CD’s intended for expecting women to listen to on speaker for the sake of the baby’s brain development and health. Aside from this, consider listening to some classical music while studying – it may help retain information!

Emotional Affect

This is an interesting one and I don’t know how most of us feel about this but classical music makes you more emotional. Knowing me, this is probably a key reason to not listen to classical music as my emotional capacity is at an all-time high. But in 2001, there was a study in Southern Methodist University that showed that listening to classical music heightens emotions. This is linked to being more expressive and demonstrative with the things that they said and did.

Surgery Recovery

If you have gone through surgery, you know that the recovery is a major component in the success of the surgery. It is absolutely imperative that you remain relaxed and stress-free.  Listening to classical music after surgery can actually “help tune out pain.” Studies have demonstrated that classical music can help reduce the amount of opiates given to patients! Other studies have shown this it can relieve chronic pain. It seems meds may not be the only solution to pain!

Blood Pressure

If you are dealing with high blood pressure or know someone that is, fill them in on this info: classical music can help lower blood pressure as it was studied in the University of San Diego. After 30 minutes of listening, pregnant women also displayed lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Classical music can maybe even help you steer away from those meds with time.

Classical music has been incredibly underrated in the past years as pop, hip-hop, techno, and other genres have emerged in the music industry. However, when it comes to health, maybe it’s worth a try to pop in that old cassette. You may find yourself surprised – the tunes are magical!

Image: Alice Carrier

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

Health

There are a lot of drinks out in the market there that you may think are harmless, but think again! A lot of these commercially-owned brands are actually incredibly detrimental to your health. Just to lay out the facts, ingredients on foods are listed from the most to least. So, if sugar is number one on the ingredient list, whatever you are eating has sugar as the greatest component. Here are a few drinks you may want to reconsider buying:

Fruit Juices

I really hope this is not your “healthy” alternative to soft drinks. Their name is the most deceiving of all. “Fruit juice” would usually imply their healthy characteristics – juice from a fruit. And even though I applaud you for selecting a freshly squeezed fruit juice, I’d like to remind you that juice from fruit is like drinking sugar. The healthy component of any fruit is to eat the fiber which then cleans out your intestines. And the vitamins? It turns out that the vitamins from fruit are not usually in the juice of it – they are in actual structures of the fruit. For example, in an orange, the vitamin C is in the white outer lining of the orange; the part that is stuck on the peeling, the part we all throw out.

Most of the vitamins and minerals in apples are in the peeling of it. Fitting the puzzle pieces together?  Fruit juices are not always the best choice. Moving forward, commercial fruit juices are definitely an aisle you want to steer clear of. If you really look, most fruit juices will state their disclaimer, “contains X% of fruit juice.” If you ask me, I would like my fruit juice to be 100% fruit juice. That would only make me wonder what the other % consists of. In addition, the sugar content is out of this world high. Most brands are packed with artificial sugars or sweeteners to help boost its flavor. Ever hear of high fructose corn syrup? Check out the ingredient list. Many fruit juices, especially the infamous Welch’s brands, are packed with them and oftentimes are on the top of the ingredient list. For this reason, try to choose the juices that are 100% juice.

Sweetened Coffees

Coffee overall is not healthy, though it is not incredibly unhealthy either. It has its pros and cons, but sweetened Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts coffees like the ones you see in all of your co-workers or classmate’s hand every morning really get your body screaming for help. White chocolate mochas, McCafe frappes, peppermint white chocolate mochas, pumpkin spice lattes, crème brulee coffees, coolatas, mint chip mochas, caramel macchiatos, au bon pain’s vanilla lattes, toffee mochas, mocha lattes, etc. all sound fabulous and lip-smacking; however, they’re also fatal to your health. A grande peppermint white chocolate mocha from Starbucks has 75 grams of sugar, 60% saturated fat, and 520 calories. The ingredients in these drinks are not only packs with all kinds of harmful sugars but they also contain a great deal of detrimental chemicals and vague ingredient labels such as “natural flavors.” What are natural flavors? Aren’t they unnatural if they are only flavors? Are these drinks all delicious? Absolutely! But are you drinking the elixir of life? Not quite.

Flavored Waters

The point of water is for it to be unflavored, neutral and thirst quenching. Why would anyone want their water to be flavored? If you’re one of those people, here are a few facts about flavored water. Many contain a great deal of the “natural” and artificial flavorings mentioned above. They also have high amounts of sugars, sweeteners, and added nutrients like Vitamin C. According to Business Insider, “Natural flavors are created from anything that can be eaten (i.e animals and vegetables), even if those edible things are processed in the lab to create flavorings. Artificial flavors come from anything that is inedible (i.e petroleum) that is processed to create chemicals of flavorings.” Making these flavors in the lab instead of actually extracting them from the actual fruit, spice, or herb is much cheaper and faster. Vanillin, for example, is extracted from cow waste while artificial strawberry flavor is chemically similar to that found in an actual strawberry. As you can see, many flavors do not actually come from their implied source. You’ll be surprised with a little research!

Soft Drinks

Soft drinks are perhaps one of the unhealthiest drinks you could consume. The first big point is that sodas contain a very high amount of sugar. One 12 oz. can of soda can have 39 grams of sugar which is more than the amount of daily recommended sugar intake for both men and women. Almost all contain high fructose corn sugar which stresses the pancreas and leads to spiking blood sugar levels which in turn affects the way your body produces insulin, a sugar stabilizer, and can eventually lead to many problems like diabetes. Sodas cause dehydration by not only serving as a water replacement, but they also contain a great deal of caffeine which acts as a diuretic, causing the body to have less water and fluids. Like many of the previously listed drinks, sodas can be deemed to contain “empty calories” which in turn causes weight gain. Lastly, phosphoric acid derives from rocks and is found in these soft drinks depletes calcium from your bones and also blocks calcium absorption which can then lead to osteoporosis. It also causes tooth erosion. Not fun, my friends.

Sports Drinks

Although sports drinks can revamp electrolyte levels, they also have their cons. Their acidity and sugar content cause tooth decay over time. Sports drinks are meant to be consumed when you work out. If you are not exercising when drinking them, they may call for some serious weight gain. They have a substantial amount of carbs in them and high amounts of carbohydrates at once can cause your insulin levels to increase and in turn, causing fat storage. They also contain high fructose corn syrup which is not only harmful for your pancreas, but it is also a contributor to obesity, decreased brain function, diabetes, and liver fibrosis.

Energy Drinks

When it comes to needing energy, you either go for coffee or a convenient energy drink. This goes for high school students, college students, and employees trying to meet deadlines. However, they can lead to weight gain because of their high sugar content. The mix of this sugar and crazy-high caffeine levels can lead to cardiovascular issues which are associated with a quicker heartbeat and increase in blood pressure (or god forbid, heart failure). These drinks also cause anxiety, irritability, and jitters due to their ingredients.

When it comes to choosing a drink, there tend to be many frustrating and misleading information. I would suggest sticking to water. You can never go wrong with water!

What are your favorite healthy drinks?

HealthRecipesWellness

Busy people have a lot of breakfast criteria: it needs to be nutritious and filling, give us lasting energy, and be quick and easy to prepare. Sometimes taste falls by the wayside in our attempts to make something fast and get out the door.

Smoothies generally fit the “filling, nutritious and quick” criteria, but it can be hard to hit the right mark. Sometimes they’re too liquid-y and not filling enough. Other times they just taste like nastiness in a cup. It’s hard to make a good one, and I’m not going to drop $5-10 every morning for someone to make me one.

For these reasons, I’ve never been a smoothie person. Something about this smoothie, though, makes me excited to get up and eat breakfast! You can throw it in a bowl or to-go cup. It is pretty thick, though, so I recommend a spoon.

Here’s what you’ll need:

5 strawberries, fresh
1 banana, frozen
1 tbsp. almond butter
½ cup Greek yogurt or light yogurt (any flavor, although strawberry or vanilla work best in my opinion)
¼ cup oats
¼ cup spinach or kale (or both!)

To make it, simply combine all ingredients into a blender and pulse on high until your smoothie reaches a consistency you like. Then, pour it into a cup or a bowl and sprinkle a handful of oats on top. It’s that easy.

Tip: if you want a thinner consistency, try replacing the yogurt with coconut milk.

Tip: cut the strawberries in halves or quarters, and break the banana into quarters before or after freezing. This makes things easier on the blender.

This smoothie makes an awesome immune-booster, too. I drink it whenever I’m sick and it soothes a sore throat and lessens cold symptoms.

What breakfast foods get you through your day?

Image: elana’s pantry

Health

You think you’re healthy, but have you ever wondered what it’s like to have a stress-free morning? Many times, we don’t realize that being healthy goes further than being physically healthy; it has to do with being mentally healthy, as well. There are many do’s and don’ts: do exercise, do eat plenty of fresh greens, don’t go near processed foods, don’t munch on late those night snacks, and do check out that yoga center that’s just around the corner! Although these are all great things, we must not neglect to underscore the importance of maintaining a stress-free morning routine.  Consider these few tips to help keep your morning game on!

Avoid Technology First Thing

How to not check those morning streams of Instagram posts, flips of late night Snapchats, or the urge to text X friend about X morning thought?  However, resisting technology and avoiding grabbing your phone or touching that computer for the first hour of waking up will allow you to hold the peace of mind to focus on just yourself. It also decreases your reliance on technology and you will be able to concentrate on other important things. Morning texts, e-mails, appointment alerts, and social media feeds spark the first dose of mental stress. It’s best to simply stay away from white noise, artificial bright lights, and overall technology in order to focus on yourself for that first hour.

Drink Water

There is nothing more revitalizing that chugging a glass of water at the break of dawn. Studies have shown that water cleanses your blood from toxins, which in turn, makes your skin glow and renews your cells by increasing the rate at which new muscle and blood cells are produced. Also, nutrient absorption is boosted by purifying your colon. It also helps balance the lymph system and fluids in your body. But the best part? It spikes your metabolism by 24% which means that this is great for weight loss! Who knew that simply gulping down water could do such wonders to your body? Try a cold glass of water, or warm water with lemon.

Meditate and/or Exercise

Every person is different, and there are different ways for each person to meditate. Meditation can consist of doing yoga, sitting in silence, showering with essential oils, or even take a quick trip outside to be with nature. Walking outside, watching the sunrise, and even going for a run on the dawning beach is a great way to clear your mind. Also, meditation is for a great way to begin the day in a peaceful surrounding and to encase your mind with positive thoughts.

Exercising first thing in the morning is also a great way to start your day. Whether you exercise inside or outside, increasing your heart rate does wonders for your body. Working out first thing in the morning is a smart way to get your daily sweat out of the way. If the weather is good, get your fitness on outside. Studies show that you will be a happier person if you are outside. In the University of Essex, they have studies that have shown that “green exercise” or exercising outdoors can improve your self-esteem and mood. I would say this is an excellent way to start your day!

Avoid Rushing

Rushing is an integral part of American culture. America is constantly running to get to work, school attendance, an appointment, an event, a meeting, a flight etc. The point is, we never want to be late, yet we are always on the verge of it. This is perhaps one of the most stress-inflicting things that the body can go through. You can avoid this by picking out your next-day’s clothes the night before, making a to-do list in the evening so you won’t forget anything in the morning, and the most effective one, I think: wake up extra early. This will give you the peace of mind that there is no way you can be late since you’ll be able to avoid rush hour or any other incidents that may impede on timeliness.

Shower with Cold Water

Turns out, there are more health benefits to cold water than just drinking it! Showering with ice cold water is incredibly beneficial for your body, as painful as that may sound. It increases your metabolism fifteen fold! After exercise, cold showers also help your body recover by reducing soreness. Heart rate increases when exposed to a surge of chilled water which in turn, causes faster blood flow which will up your energy big time and help you avoid hypertension and the hardening of arteries. There was a study at Virginia Commonwealth University showing how cold water stimulates the main source of noradrenaline, or a chemical that may be used to decrease depression. All in all, starting off your day with a cold shower is a stress reducer and yes, I will repeat, very healthy.

Any of these tips will be great to implement into your current routine. It feels great to start your day off on the right food! How do you maintain a healthy morning routine?

Image: Unsplash

HealthSkills

Everyone’s goal seems to be to stay in shape nowadays. Of course, talking the talk is so much easier than walking the walk, so here’s a little help for getting on the right track.

  1. Find a Workout Buddy – Everything is easier with a friend, after all! Having someone there to support you on that last mile, or doing that last set where you literally feel like your limbs are going to fall off, can make a world of a difference. A little moral support can go a long way! If you want to go even further, join a sports team or fitness club. With so many people backing you up, working out will be downright easy.
  2. Start Slow and Make it a Habit – As the saying goes, nobody just goes out and runs a marathon. Don’t expect to show up one day and be able to lift the heaviest weight, or run ten miles. Start simple, and when the improvements start showing, up the ante. As long as you stick with it, you’ll be seeing results in no time.
  3. Get out of the Gym – Who needs treadmills when you have the whole world out there? A workout doesn’t necessarily mean slogging away in the gym. A hike, a trail run, yoga in the neighborhood park; all those count as well. The great outdoors is your fitness oyster, so don’t be afraid to step out of the gym.
  4. Manage Your Time Effectively – In this day and age, there’s always something pressing to spend time on, whether its homework, a job, or the season finale of your favorite show (and then it ended in a cliffhanger, so of course you have to start the next season on Netflix, and this season looks so good and…) However, just as there is time for Netflix, there is time for exercise (and studying should fit in there somewhere, too). Block your days out so you have a specific time where you can set everything aside and just go for a run. Chances are, you’ll feel much better having done it (and your show will be waiting for you when you get back).
  5. Give Yourself Days Off – Results don’t happen in a day, but injury and bad attitude can. If you’re sick or sore or just feeling like the world is crushing you, take the day off. Carrying the weight of the world can be just as much of a workout as carrying dumbbells. When those days hit, don’t force yourself through a miserable workout. Go for a walk instead, and give yourself a break if you need one.
HealthRecipes

Let’s be real, it takes energy to Seize Your Youth. When you’re feeling under the weather and all you want to do is sleep, it’s hard to make the most out of your day and be productive. That’s why you need to get better ASAP. While chicken noodle soup (with heart-shaped carrots!) is more of a meal and less of a “snack,” meals just don’t sound as appetizing when you’re sick. This chicken noodle soup will get you warmed up and feeling better in no time, and it doesn’t take too long to make. If you can’t muster up the energy to make this soup, kindly ask a friend or family member if they would be willing to do so. Get healthy fast, enjoy this soup, and get back to seizing your youth!

SONY DSC

What You’ll Need:
1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
2. 2 or 3 large carrots
3. 1 medium onion – diced
4. 2 celery stalks, cut
5. 2 stalks fresh thyme
6. 2 bay leaves
7. 4 cups of water with 3-4 tablespoons of chicken bouillon, or chicken broth (All-Natural Swanson works well)
8. 2-3 cups water
9. 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
10. salt and pepper, to taste
11. 2-3 large chicken breasts, cooked [Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and top with thyme, and cook in oven for 35 minutes] 12. 1/2 pound small pasta

Heart-Shaped Carrots:
1. Wash and peel a large carrot
2. Cut a wedge in the top of the carrot so that there is a V-shape
3. Peel around the carrots and on the sides so that it resembles a heart, with a sharp-pointed bottom – this will take a lot of peeling
4. Cut the carrot as you normally would, but instead of rounded pieces you have hearts!

How to Make Soup:
1. In a large pot combine: olive oil, carrots, onions, celery, thyme, bay leaves, and a pinch of salt.
2. Cook and stir for about 10-15 minutes until ingredients have softened.
3. Add water and chicken bouillon, with vinegar. Cook until soup is boiling.
4. Add salt and pepper for taste.
5. [Pasta]: In another pot, boil water and make the pasta until al dente.
6. In bowls,  add the pasta and shredded or diced chicken.
7. Serve the soup over the pasta and chicken.
~For extra flavoring, add another branch of thyme and let the soup sit with all the ingredients for an extra 5-10 minutes to get a richer flavoring

SONY DSC

What comfort food do you like to eat when you’re sick?

EducationHealth

College is pretty expensive and not just because tuition is ridiculously high or because our wallets cry every time we purchase a textbook. Being a college student requires us to spend a lot of money because there are other expenses that tuition and scholarships don’t cover. For those of us who are dead set on avoiding the freshman 15, the sophomore 20, and any other amount of weight gain that comes with the mostly sedentary college life, then one of the most important things to have on campus is a gym membership. But for those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to go to a university that allows free access to the gym, I’m here to give you some alternatives.

  1. Walking/running: The good thing about living on or near a college campus is that there’s a lot of ground to cover. It doesn’t matter if your campus is huge or small, you can easily use the layout of the land to your advantage, and walk (or run) a few laps to get some cardio in. Bring a few friends along with you both for safety reasons and so you won’t get bored on your walk.
  2. Buy weights/kettlebells: You can easily find deals on personal workout equipment online or at any store that sells weights, dumbbells, kettlebells, etc. Whatever you end up paying for weights will be a lot less money than what you’ll pay purchasing a gym membership at a university. And if you’re not sure what to do with the weights or whatever equipment you chose to buy, this next alternative will be of use to you.
  3. Workout DVDs/YouTube: There are many $5 dollar workout DVDs that are available to rent or purchase. Or if you don’t want to buy one just yet, get on YouTube and search for some workout videos there. They have a variety to chose from and a lot of them will get you started using any equipment that you bought. If you’re interested in yoga, you can find a variety of yoga videos and workouts that help target a specific area that you want to work on.
  4. Bike riding: Remember that bike that collects dust in your family’s garage? Not only is it a great form of transportation, especially on a large campus, but it will put those leg muscles to work.
  5. Sports: You don’t have to try out for an official team if you don’t want to, but you can get involved in club sports and intramurals to stay healthy and in shape.

Choosing any combination of these alternatives will get you into shape in no time and, more importantly, it’ll save you money in the long run. Exercise with a friend both for support and for safety, especially if you choose to walk or run around campus. Also, drink plenty of water and remember to stretch before and after every workout. Working out outside of a gym might take a little more effort, but that’s okay. Your health and body will thank you at the end of the semester.

Image: morguefile

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

InspirationSkills

Taking time to self-reflect is absolutely necessary in this day and age that can sometimes feel like a “societal factory.” Journaling is a great way to balance the mind.

Writing may not be everyone’s forte, and oftentimes people associate writing with school and essays. However, writing can be a wonderful emotional outlet as there are no rules and no structure. Do you keep a journal or diary? Better question: did you keep a journal or diary in the 3rd grade and have it stuffed in a dusty carton shoebox somewhere in your basement? Dig it out. Skim through the pages until you find something juicy. How refreshing was it to write in that diary every single night, and why did you do it? Was there something thrilling about burying your deepest darkest secrets through writing with a chance of them being found with a defining date on the top right hand corner? Or was it simply a cathartic experience to have some sort of emotional release when there was nobody to talk to? Discover the truth behind your diary-keeping and decide whether or not that can be helpful today.

Meanwhile, here are a few reasons why journaling can be a good idea:

  1. Studies Show It’s Healthy For Your Brain

Writing a journal entry each night has incredible benefits for your brain. Writing has been proven to clarify thoughts and feelings to allow you to reflect on yourself and your actions in a more detailed manner. It assists in facing your problems or dilemmas head-on and really analyze your emotions. More specifically, when you write about deep or dark emotions, you are essentially “letting it all out” and releasing some of the stress that has been built up. Studies also show that writing helps solve problems more successfully as it works the right hemisphere of the brain (or the creative/intuitive side) to explore other solutions to problems that you may be facing. This includes misunderstandings with others. Writing out the scenario will help you put yourself in their shoes and understand him or her, or even your point of view, a little better.

(source: http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/000721)

  1. Looking Back is Like Looking At a Masterpiece

There is nothing more valuable than the words you wrote a few years back. They capture your thoughts, beliefs, and point of views in a matter of pages. They even capture the tone of your feelings at the time by observing the hand writing – were there scribbles, were your letters written hard and bold, or were your words written in peaceful cursive? Notes on the side or casual “P.S’s” are sure to crack subtle smiles on your face. Writing things down is a great way to keep a personal time machine. Looking back five or even 10 years later can be a hypnotizing experience as you are glued to the pages until you reach the final blank page. Not only is it fascinating to go back in time, but it’s incredible to see how you have changed as a person. Life is a constant journey that molds the person you are, and every experience and interaction will somehow change your beliefs, points of views, and opinions. New information is received regularly and this only allows for a better, more informed mind. This observation of noting your changes will invite further development and greater reflection for the future.

  1. Organization and Sorting

Journals are a great way for you to keep track of your daily activities. In essence, they are great for keeping up with your goals, dreams, and current endeavors. They are also beneficial for logging your workouts, diet, and anything that is in progress when working on an objective. In addition, journals are a fabulous way to organize the jumble of thoughts that swerve through your mind on a daily basis. Life gets busy; we are all victims of this and sorting out your thoughts and ideas on paper may give a sense of release. Developments will surely arise from this because writing things down are almost like setting things down in stone.

  1. Discovery

Aside from jotting down the ideas and thoughts that have already crossed your mind, a journal or diary is the place where Chapter One begins. It can be the place where you let your creativity dive into a pool of new story plots, life plans, and side notes. The left side of the brain is already busy just by writing, therefore, this allows the right side of the brain to freely roam- allowing your brain to fully serve as a powerhouse of ideas whether it be artistically or philosophically.

  1. The Little Things

Journaling each night has more power than you may think. Take 10 minutes out of your day to write down the best things that have happened to you on that very day. This can include great things that happened to you as a result of luck or hard work, nice things people said or did, and simply the moments that brought positivity in your day and simply made you feel happy. Recognizing these small things has great power to them as they allow you to reflect and appreciate your life in another way. Many times a grave GPA-determining final exam can overlap that moment after lunch when a stranger reminded you with a sincere grin on his face that your shirt was on backwards. Maybe it made you laugh or made you want to hide in the corners of the Earth, but the sincerity of his smile and his good intentions made you see the light in humanity. Little things like this change the way you may view your days and essentially invite a more positive attitude toward your life.

Daily journaling is a fantastic habit to adopt. It brings many benefits to your overall health and well-being. It allows for deeper self-reflection and essentially calls for “me-time,” an essential mechanism that many people ignore today. Treating your journal as if it were your best friend may serve as a great way to purge away negative emotions and bring you to a better mental place. But finally, writing each night primarily does one thing: it allows you to grow. It allows you to develop into a better person and see the world with different eyes.

P.S. You can also start a gratitude journal.

HealthWellness

Morning, kids! The school semester has officially started. Whether you’re in high school or in college, I’m sure you’re having a great time hitting that alarm and rolling out of bed. I’m not. I think it’s awful.

As a senior in college, let me tell you now: it doesn’t necessarily get easier as you get older. But you figure out ways to trick yourself into believing it does. Something I like to do when I first wake up is think about what tea I want to drink the morning. Yes, tea.

Lying in bed, I’m still enjoying the comfort of my pillow and blanket. But I translate that into a good cup of tea, and that makes me want to get up more. Some people drink coffee, some drink tea, some drink orange juice or a smoothie. Whatever you like, let that be what helps you get up in the morning.

Here are some things to think about when you’re getting your tea and coffee, especially if you’re just starting a routine:

1. Find something easy on your stomach. I know some people who can’t have cold things in the morning, and then there are people who drink iced coffee in the winter.

2. Drink something that doesn’t make you crash. Some people can handle their coffee intake, but then they’re knocked out on the desk or drooling in front of a professor five or six hours later. Take everything in moderation, including your caffeine.

3. Switch it up. A different milk, a latte, Earl Grey. I usually get English Breakfast with milk and sugar, but sometimes it’s good to break the routine and try something new. The morning cup of joe, like college, can provide a routine and stability. But sometimes changing things up can be healthy and refreshing.

Tea and coffee may seem like a small thing, but small things can make life easier and enjoyable. Once winter comes, it will be comforting, and during the spring, it will be reliable. Have a good semester!

Image: Unsplash