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Learn to Love Vegetables

When I became a vegetarian, I could have probably counted the number of fruits and vegetables that had crossed my lips the previous 18 years on two hands. But things are different these days, and veggies are the highlight of my lunches and dinners. But it wasn't always that way. Like most people, I hated all things green and healthy. I get questions about this a lot--people calling themselves picky eaters, saying they don't like a single vegetable out there. Take it from a person who was just like you. You CAN learn to like vegetables. And beyond that, you CAN meet your daily quota in a variety of tasty ways. Here are 8 techniques and tips I used to like vegetables. Try them yourself--you just might be surprised. Say no to plain vegetables. One of the main reasons people don't like vegetables is because they try to eat them plain. If you're new to eating healthy, this is one of the worst things you can do! Most people don't have the taste buds for a plate of steamed broccoli or spinach. And why should you have to suffer through that for the sake of your health? The thing I did most when I started eating healthier was put vegetables into things I already ate: broccoli mixed in with macaroni and cheese, chopped carrots mixed in with seasoned rice mixes, and frozen spinach added to a can of soup are just a few examples. This is a great way to introduce veggies into your diet, where the flavors of the other foods you eat them with help them taste better and less noticeable. Start by adding small amounts of veggies to your standard meals, and as your taste buds adapt, you can add more and more. Mix your food. If you're one of those people who neatly puts your food into distinct piles on a plate, never mixing them up, then you might hate this idea. I'm not one of those non-food-mixers myself. Most of my meals get mixed up into one big jumble, and while it doesn't look pretty, it sure tastes good. This is similar to the tip above, incorporating veggies into dishes you already eat. But sometimes you can't just add a helping of peas to, say, a turkey burger. But served as a side, you can mix bits of veggies on your plate with the other main dishes--to add flavor and mask the taste if you don't like it. Add some flavor. When cooking vegetables, it usually takes just a little bit of flavor to make them more appetizing. I'm not a fan of plain vegetables either. I don't think many people are. But you can add flavor (and nutrition) to raw veggies with healthy dips like hummus (great with carrots, celery, sliced peppers, cucumbers and more) or your favorite salad dressing (yep, it works for things other than salads). When cooking vegetables, most taste great with just a little salt, pepper and garlic. But I find that sautéed onions and garlic make just about anything taste good, so I often cook those first and then add some vegetables to the mix, which brings me to my next point. Learn how to cook! I've had to teach myself how to cook as an adult. I come from a family of…whatever word exists to describe the opposite of a chef. Cooking has become quite a hobby for me and it's surprisingly fun, relaxing, entertaining and interesting. So how'd I learn to cook? Mostly by trial and error. But I can't take all the credit. I read books and magazines and would call my cooking friends to ask how to prepare a random vegetable that I bought at the store. Little by little, you'll pick up knowledge and learn how to make food taste (and look) great. Even if it doesn't come out perfectly, you'll still learn what NOT to do, and that's a step in the right direction. Try, try again. Most of you are probably parents who have to deal with picky eaters on a regular basis. What most feeding experts will tell you is that a child has to try a food several different times before they might being to like it. What's true for kids is the same for adults. There are foods that I swear I hated my entire life that now, I really like. I just kept trying them in new ways, in different combinations, etc. I used to think I hated strawberries because I had never had a strawberry that I ever liked. But a couple years ago, I was on a mission to find that perfect strawberry, because I just knew I'd like it if I just found a good one. And what do you know--I did. And in the process I learned that, to me, organic tastes best. And so does freshly picked berries in summer (when they're at the peak of freshness and flavor), so I only eat them then. I also learned what color they should be to taste perfect. This is just one example of how you can't write off a food, especially if it's been a very long time since you last tried it. Learn the seasons. Seasonal food is fresher, healthier, and all around better tasting. Strawberries in winter and pumpkin in summer doesn't make much sense, even if you find it in the grocery. Go to your farmer's market and talk to the growers of all things green. They'll tell you what's good and how to eat it, too. Look for veggie-packed dishes when dining out. Restaurants sure know how to make anything taste good, and that applies to vegetables too. Think outside the box. Order a vegetable side dish or a vegetarian meal instead of your usual meal. I learned that even though it looks weird and kinda gross, I sort of like eggplant sandwiches. I haven't learned how to make them on my own yet, but a local restaurant sure does a good job, so I'm leaving it to them. Do some reading. I recommend the following resources to help you love veggies a little more.

  • Vegetarian Times Interestingly, most of their subscribers aren't vegetarians--just people interested in eating more vegetables or healthy food in general. I adore this magazine, which is more than just recipes. It's chockfull of cooking techniques and tips, interesting bits of information about food, and a super eco-friendly spin. I'd recommend it to anyone interesting in eating healthier.
  • Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. I recently picked up this cookbook, but like the magazine above, it's far more than recipes. Learn cooking tips, food preparation techniques, and all sorts of useful kitchen information, such as how to cook and prepare beans, homemade bread and seasonal foods.
  • In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Need inspiration to eat more plants? Look no further.
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Eggs are Egg-cellent

Having fallen in and out of favor with nutrition experts, you’d think the fragile egg would be broken and beaten by now. Luckily, its ego isn’t nearly as vulnerable as its shell. Oblivious to the attempts to separate the egg from its well-deserved title of "best source of complete protein on the planet," the egg has managed to remain a nutritious, inexpensive, and popular food. For awhile, nutrition experts hypothesized that the high cholesterol content of eggs raised blood cholesterol levels, which can increase a person's risk of heart disease. But this hypothesis was never proven. In fact, several studies have shown that the consumption of eggs is not associated with higher cholesterol levels but is associated with higher nutrient intake.  In 2000, researchers set out to assess the nutritional significance of eggs in the American diet and to estimate the degree of association between egg consumption and cholesterol levels. Their straightforward results were published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Eggs make important nutritional contributions to the American diet and their consumption is not associated with high cholesterol levels. Specifically, the study showed that egg consumers had a higher intake of important nutrients like vitamins B12, A, E, and C than non-egg eaters, and that people who reported eating four or more eggs per week actually had significantly lower average cholesterol levels than those who reported eating zero to one eggs per week. Here are four more ways eggs can enhance your health:

  • Eggs are an excellent source of low-cost, high-quality protein. One large egg provides more than 6 grams of protein, yet contains only 75 calories. And the protein is "complete," providing all nine of the body's essential amino acids.  
  • Eggs are one of the best sources of choline. Found primarily in the egg yolk, one large egg provides 30% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this essential nutrient, which plays an important role in brain health and the reduction of inflammation. Many people are deficient in choline, which is found in trace amounts of many different foods.  
  • Eggs are a great food for those trying to lose weight. Because of the high amount of quality protein in eggs, they make a very satisfying breakfast, which is especially useful for people trying to lose weight. In one study published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (2007), subjects following low-fat, calorie-restricted diets were randomly assigned to one of two breakfasts: a bagel or two eggs. After eight weeks, the egg eaters experienced 65% greater weight loss, 83% greater decrease in waist circumference, and a greater improvement in energy levels compared to the bagel-eating group. Also worth mentioning is that changes in plasma cholesterol and triglycerides did not differ significantly between the two groups. Researchers postulated that eating eggs for breakfast enhanced weight loss by increasing satiety, resulting in better adherence to a reduced-calorie diet.  
  • Eggs protect eyesight. Egg yolks contain a highly absorbable form of vision-protective carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. Studies published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that eggs increased blood levels of these nutrients without increasing cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
So how many eggs should you eat? Just because something is good for you doesn't always mean that more of it is necessarily better. In a 2007 study published in the journal Medical Science Monitor, no significant difference in cardiovascular diseases (like stroke and heart attack) were observed between people who consumed more than six eggs per week and those who consumed one or fewer eggs per week. So a couple of eggs a day, a few days a week, should be safe and health for most people. According to Becky Hand, a Licensed and Registered Dietitian for SparkPeople, "One egg daily can easily be a part of a well-balanced, nutritious diet for healthy adults." An important exception is for diabetics, who experienced an increased risk of coronary artery disease when consuming greater than six eggs per week. If you have a medical condition such as heart disease or diabetes, Hand suggests checking with your physician (or dietitian) regarding egg consumption and dietary restrictions. "Designer" Eggs: Are They Worth the Money? When you go to stock up on eggs, be prepared for an onslaught of choices. Beyond just white and brown, you’ll see a whole new world of choices in the refrigerator case. Are these “designer” eggs worth the extra money? It depends on the designer.
  • Cage Free, Free Range, Pastured, and Pasture Raised: You may feel like you're doing a good deed by purchasing eggs with one or more of these terms on the package. But in truth, these labels really don't mean a whole lot, as there are no rules or regulations about using these terms. If you want high quality eggs from humanely raised chickens, find a local producer whom you trust. To find one, go to, and enter "eggs" in the "Name/Description/Product" box, and your zip code in the "Where?" box. A list of farmers in your area will pop up, many of whom sell their eggs at local farmers markets.
  • Certified Organic: They hens who lay these eggs are cage-free, have outdoor access, and eat a 100% organic and vegetarian diet that is free of antibiotics and pesticides. Third-party auditors enforce these standards.
  • Grade AA, A and B: Eggs in the US are classified according to quality and freshness standards established by the USDA. AA is the most superior in quality, followed by A and B.
  • Omega-3 Enhanced eggs: When is an egg not just an egg? When it's engineered to contain Omega-3s. The hens that lay these eggs eat a diet rich in Omega-3s, which includes algae or flaxseed. The eggs they lay contain higher Omega-3 content but taste like regular eggs. These eggs may help contribute to your intake of essential fatty acids, but they don’t contain enough to make up for a diet that is otherwise low in Omega-3s.
No matter what kind of eggs you choose to eat, be sure to follow proper handling and preparation guidelines to ensure that your eggs are safe to eat. Raw or improperly handled eggs can be a source of disease.
  • Avoid raw eggs, and foods made with raw eggs (Caesar dressing, homemade mayonnaise, eggnog, and cookie dough). These foods are safe if a pasteurized egg product is used.
  • Check the carton to be sure that the eggs you are buying are clean and free of cracks.
  • Store eggs in the coldest part of the refrigerator (not in the door), and use within three to five weeks, or by the expiration date on the carton. Hardboiled eggs should also be stored in the refrigerator and used within one week.
  • When cooking with eggs, don’t leave the carton on the counter during prep time. Take out the eggs you will use and return the carton to the refrigerator.
  • Wash all surfaces, cooking utensils, and skin with warm, soapy water before and after handling eggs.
  • Cook eggs until yolks are firm.
  • Cook egg-containing dishes to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy any bacteria safely.
Give yourself a break! Poached, scrambled, baked or fried—you can rely on the inexpensive and high-quality protein of eggs as part of a varied, healthy diet. "Do be careful with whom your eggs hang out," says Hand. "Bacon, sausage, and high-fat cheeses can be troublesome characters!" This article has been reviewed and approved by Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian. Article Source:

How to Start an Indoor Herb Garden

Do the changing seasons leave you a little wistful for summer’s wealth of fresh produce? Then keep the growing season going all year by starting an indoor herb garden! Even if you have little experience with plants or very little space to work with, an herb garden is the perfect way to bring a bit of Mother Nature into your home, no green thumb required! And growing your own herbs is much more convenient—and affordable—than buying them at the local grocery store. Oregano, chives, mint, rosemary and thyme are commonly grown indoors, so pick a few of your favorites to begin. If you like to cook, you’ll love having fresh herbs right at your fingertips—just snip and sprinkle fresh chives on your steaming baked potato or add some pungent oregano to your special homemade spaghetti sauce. To start your herb garden, you must have a sunny window available that receives at least five hours of sunlight per day. Most herbs hail from Mediterranean locales and need the light to thrive. Keep your home between 60º and 70º to create the ideal growing conditions. While you can start your herbs from seed (more on that below), it’s easier to buy starter plants from a local nursery or farmers market. There are several types of containers you can use for the plants, but terracotta planters are very popular. Make sure your pots have drainage holes in the bottom so your herbs don’t rot. Keep a saucer or another similarly shaped item underneath to catch the excess water as it runs through. Whatever container you select should be deep enough to promote proper root development, ideally from 6-12 inches deep. You can plant multiple herbs in one container or select individual 6-inch pots for each plant. Take care when selecting the type of soil for your herbs, as plants are very vulnerable to soil-born diseases. It’s a good idea to go with a store-bought potting mix. Your local gardening center can help you select the right one for your needs. Be sure the mix is lightweight and will drain well. Pour a two or three-inch layer of potting soil into the bottom of your container and place your plant gently in the container. Finish filling it with potting mix, pressing it firmly around the plants. Leave about an inch of space at the top to make room for watering. Don’t kill your herbs with kindness by watering too often: Excess water is harmful to the roots and causes rotting. Fertilize your herbs once a month with a product labeled safe to use on edibles. Once you start to see new growth, you can begin to use your herbs for cooking. If you’d like to save some money and start your herbs from seed rather than buying seedlings, you will need to babysit your plants a bit more. Many planters are too large to start seeds in, so plant them in a peat pot first. Fill the peat pot with planting mix and then place it in a small bowl of water until the peat pot completely absorbs the water from the bowl. Bury your seeds to a shallow depth (about 3 or 4 times the seed’s diameter), planting a few types of the same seed in one pot. Cover the peat pot with a small plastic bag to simulate a mini greenhouse! Once the seeds have sprouted, you can transplant the entire peat pot into the larger planter. Place your pots in a sunny spot or underneath a grow light if your home doesn’t receive enough natural sunlight. Space out your herbs so that they don’t crowd each other and avoid putting your plants near a heating vent to avoid extreme temperature fluctuations. Here are a few herbs that are particularly well suited for indoor growth:

  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum): Basil is simple to grow from seed but it needs bright light and warm temperatures.
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): This member of the onion family is best used fresh. Chives like bright light and cool temperatures.
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens): Choose a dwarf variety instead of the standard types that typically grow about 4 feet tall. You'll need to make successive plantings to ensure a continuous crop since dill doesn’t grow back after harvesting.
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis): This is easy to grow from seed and its fresh fragrance can be enjoyed in salads and drinks.
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum): This has a sharp, pungent flavor and can be grown from seed.
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Rosemary doesn’t always germinate well from seed; grow it from cuttings or as a complete plant from the nursery. The soil needs to be well drained, but don’t let it dry out completely.
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Many varieties of thyme are available. Cover the seed only lightly with soil or not at all if you are starting your thyme from scratch. Keep the plants moist until they are flourishing.
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These Hilarious Comics Nail What It's Like to Live With a Disability in 2016

Two sisters are putting a hilarious spin on the crap people with disabilities have to put up with in 2016. Jessica and Lianna Oddi, two illustrators who use wheelchairs, created a blog called The Disabled Life to show what it's actually like to deal with everyday situations (including Tinder) when you have a disability. "To be honest, it really started as a way to share our personal experiences in a funny way," Jessica told Refinery 29. "But as it continues to grow, our underlying goal is to help make disabilities a common topic. It’s 2016; we can all talk about diversity, share our thoughts, and treat everyone like human beings!" Check out some of the powerful comics below: All Photos: The Disabled Life

This Emotional Story Explains Exactly What a Late-Term Abortion Is—and What It Isn't

When Donald Trump talked about late-term abortions in the final presidential debate, the Internet exploded. According to Trump, current abortion law means "you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother in the ninth month, on the final day." But here's the thing—that's not what happens at all (his description actually sounds more like a violent C-section). As this emotional Facebook post explains, late-term abortions are performed in severe cases, and they are often very traumatic. We should be listening to OB/GYNs and the women who have gone through late-term abortions, not politicians.

Toddlers OK'd to video-chat in new recommendations from pediatricians

The American Academy of Pediatrics on Friday announced updated recommendations for parents hoping to shield their children from the worst effects of new technologies.

>> Read more trending stories

The group released its recommendations after reviewing the latest scientific evidence on children and digital media use. Among other suggestions, the AAP said toddlers should be limited to using screens only while video-chatting.

The organization has traditionally recommended toddlers stay away from using screens at all until they become 2 years old. The guideline was first set out in 1999, according to NPR.

Studies indicate that despite the 1999 recommendation, most families operate under the assumption that applications like Skype and FaceTime “don't count.”

In a policy statement, AAP cautiously agreed and cited emerging evidence that young children can learn some words while video-chatting “with a responsive adult.”

The organization warned, however, that scientific evidence shows there is still harm caused by “excessive digital media use.”

"What's most important is that parents be their child's 'media mentor,'” Dr. Jenny Radesky, lead author of the policy statement, said in a news release. “That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn."

The following recommendations were made by AAP:

For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing. For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them. For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.

To support the recommendations, the group also launched an online digital media use planning tool on its website.

Photos: Netherworld behind the scenes

This Is the Year You Actually Make Mulled Wine

Raise your hand if mulled wine falls into the category of “things I bookmark every time it gets chilly, and then promptly forget about until April,” along with roasted pumpkin seeds and homemade apple butter. We’ve all been there. But then we actually made mulled wine and realized it’s stupid-easy. You’ve got to try it. Whether you’re a fan of white or red, or are looking for something a little stronger than just warm vino, we’ll show you how it’s done. Method 1: Stovetop Stovetop mulled wine is way too simple. Just dump a bottle into a stockpot, add apple cider and a few spices, then crank that heat. You’re 15 minutes away from a steaming drink, and your kitchen will smell great. Stovetop Mulled Wine Photo: How Sweet Eats Method 2: Slow Cooker No stove? Plug in that slow-cooker! This low-and-slow drink may cook for a few hours, but that only allows the spices to steep longer. Pour a glass, and you won’t taste wine, but something way more cozy. Use caution: This version is extremely addictive. Slow Cooker Mulled Wine Photo: Kitchen Treaty Try It With White Wine Classic mulled wine is typically red, but there’s no rule that says you can’t use white. A dry blend complements the sweet and spicy additions to the mulling pot. Mulled White Wine Photo: Gimme Some Oven Try It Spiked A few glugs of brandy is typical in mulled wine, but why not get creative? White rum, vodka, and cognac make your wine even more grown-up, without overpowering the spice blend. Rum-Spiked Mulled Wine Photo: Well Plated Try Messing With the Classic Those who like to go above and beyond should get more inventive with their warm wine. Add fresh fruit juices to the pot (orange, pear, or pomegranate) for a tart zip, or go completely off the wall and try mulled wine hot cocoa. For those who don’t want to drink, or are serving drinks to kids, try mulled juice… it’s way better than you’d think. Red Wine Hot Chocolate Photo: Imma Eat That Pomegranate Mulled Wine Photo: The Jewels of NY Mulled Juice Photo: Wallflower Kitchen

Elementary school cancels Halloween

Halloween costumes will have to stay packed away for elementary school students in one Connecticut town, at least until the big night. 

In a letter sent to parents this week, the principal of Lillie B. Haynes Elementary School in Niantic, Connecticut, informed parents that the school has eliminated the annual Halloween parade and costumes in school, WTIC reported.

>> Read more trending stories  

The letter from Melissa DeLoreto said that officials made the decision was made so students didn't feel excluded and to make sure students stay safe, specifically when adults come to the parade dressed in costumes also.

Classroom parties will still happen but will not be Halloween themed and instead, will have a fall feel.

One parent told WTIC that the cancelation is "killing kids' fun."

9 Indian Recipes for Anyone Who’s Been Too Intimidated to Try Before

If you think Indian food is too tricky to make at home, think again. This week's featured foodie is Richa Gupta of My Food Story. She makes easy and healthy Indian dishes that are just as fun to cook as they are to eat. Don't live near an Indian market? Don't freak out! Just run to any regular grocery store and head down the international aisle. And if you think we're about to just show you a bunch of curry recipes, brace yourself... 1. Quinoa and Apple Pudding (Kheer) How many times have you made the same boring bowl of oatmeal for breakfast? It ends now! This fiber-rich porridge is a traditional Indian dessert, but we think it makes a killer breakfast too. Swap the sugar for honey, syrup, or coconut sugar (or omit altogether) and serve chilled, with plenty of chopped pistachios. 2. Golden Turmeric Milk Golden milk isn’t a new trend peddled by vegan food bloggers; it’s actually an Ayurvedic Indian drink that serves as an immunity booster for colds, headaches, and joint pain. Plus, that spicy-sweet flavor is way, way better than tangerine Emergen-C. 3. Masala Roast Chicken Roast chicken is a dinner staple, but even classics can get a little boring. The best way to jazz up the bird is to coat it with a thick layer of chile paste made from spices, honey, and a bit of butter. Roast with onions, lemon, garlic, and potatoes underneath; add some carrots or sweet potato; and this is the one-pan dinner of our dreams. 4. Whole Baked Cauliflower Want to make a showstopping main dish, but need to keep things meatless? Roast a whole head of cauliflower. Note: This recipe calls to rub the cauliflower with “hung curd,” which is essentially strained yogurt. If you don’t have time to strain, Greek yogurt should get the job done! Fill the rest of the roasting dish with potatoes and onions, and serve with naan and greens. 5. Peas, Potato, and Paneer Patties (Tiki) Instead of slapping together a bunch of burgers, try a batch of tiki. These pea and potato patties bind together with a bit of oat flour, and protein-rich paneer (or cottage cheese!) keeps them moist. Serve with any store-bought tamarind-based sauce, or make a lime and brown sugar sauce yourself. 6. Mango and Turmeric Brown Rice You need to get on the seasoned rice-wave. Sauté onions and mango with chiles and a hefty pour of Indian spices to dye cooked brown rice an awesome shade of gold. Serve this dish with leftover tofu or chicken, and a pile of greens on the side. 7. Baked Onion Fritters (Pakodas) Onion ring fans, listen up: This crispy fritters taste like the real deal, yet instead of a trip in fry-oil, they’re oven-baked and gluten-free to boot. Use a spiralizer to get the onions noodle-thin, but slicing them works just fine too. Eat immediately to avoid sogginess, but that doesn’t sound like a tough job to us. 8. Bombay Potatoes (Chatpate Masala Aloo) Why don’t we all eat simple spice-dusted roasted potatoes for every meal? They go just as wonderfully with eggs as they do dinner proteins. So if you’ll excuse us, we’re about to make a massive batch. 9. Crunchy Roasted Masala Chickpeas We’re all about crunchy, salty snacks, so trust us when we say that these roasted chickpeas are officially added to our rotation. Make your first batch with the paprika, cumin, garlic, and garam masala spice mix, the mix it up with honey and mustard, or za’atar and chile powder—even cinnamon and sugar. Richa runs her blog, My Food Story, from her kitchen in Bangalore. She is a compulsive snacker who loves curry and can't live without breakfast! Her aim is to get people to choose cooking at home over takeout, and she likes to keep her recipes fun, easy, and mostly healthy. For more from Richa, follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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