What’s the Difference Between a Cafe Americano and a Regular Coffee?

February 25th, 2015

Americano

Are you a coffee snob like I am? Many people simply cannot live without it. If they do not take it, they go through their day feeling as though there is something missing. Personally, I don’t think I’ve reached that level, but I do pride myself on being able to tell the difference between good coffee and bad coffee.

If you’ve spent any time at espresso bars or places like Starbucks, you probably know that there is regular coffee and café Americano. But what’s the difference between them? Many casual coffee drinkers think that they’re the same thing, but they aren’t.

Regular coffee is made from roasted beans or seeds of the coffee plant. It is brewed using various methods that include French press immersion, dripping water through grains, percolation, or simply adding grains directly to a pot of water and then boiling.

Café Americano on the other hand is derived from espresso, which is much more finely ground than regular coffee. It is made by adding hot water to the espresso until it becomes the same strength as regular drip coffee. It is reported to have originated from Second World War when American GIs that were stationed in Europe would add hot water to espresso in order to get the approximate amount of coffee that they were used to.

Café Americano caught on at coffee houses over time, especially in the United States. People usually order it when they wish to have a conventional brew-coffee sized drink from an espresso bar and they prefer to have the espresso enhanced flavor of café Americano. In recent years, its popularity has spread far beyond America. I’ve enjoyed great cafe Americanos from Germany to Thailand.

Regular coffee is brewed at a considerably lower temperature compared to the espresso from which café Americano is derived. The regular coffee is also brewed for a longer time using more water as well as a coarser grind. The end result is a brew that is less bitter, thinner-bodied and lighter in color compared to the espresso.

It is considered more sophisticated to order an Americano compared to the regular coffee, and as a result the former is priced higher compared to the latter. Regular coffee is considered to be the plain old stuff that can be ordered by anyone, and as a result there is not much hype about it.

You will notice a slight difference in the flavor of these types of coffee. Café Americano tastes a bit better. The difference is brought about with the style of preparation. When I go to a coffee shop, I would much rather have an Americano, freshly brewed from the best espresso machine, over a cup of coffee which could have been sitting in a pot for hours.

The nice thing about café Americano is its variability in flavor. The espresso cups usually come from various sources across the world and different brewers usually have their own specific formulas of making it. If you were to try the different types of café Americano flavors that are available, it would take you a very long time to finish all of them.

But you should not confuse the variability in flavor of café Americano with variability in quality. At its best, the Americano can be life-changing. But if you get a bold espresso and take just a few sips of it, you might end up having a bitter taste in your mouth in just few minutes.

Café Americano generally has less caffeine content compared to a sized cup of regular coffee. For instance, an 8 Oz café Americano at Starbucks contains 75 milligrams of caffeine while regular brewed coffee contains 185 milligrams. If you’re just looking for something to wake you up and don’t care much about the taste, regular drip coffee is probably better. But if you really want to appreciate what you’re drinking, I highly suggest opting for the cafe Americano.

How to Stop Snacking On Junk Food Between Meals

February 19th, 2015

No Junk Food

You must love comfort food. Everyone craves it, especially in times of stress. A hearty Big Mac surely gets you salivating after a long day at the office.
However pleasing such food is, it affects the body negatively. Savory junk food has an unsavory reputation.
Resisting temptation and not giving in to cravings can seem like moving a mountain. Everyone can use a few, effective suggestions to refuse junk food.

A. What draws us to junk food

Before looking at these suggestions, everyone should take the time to understand what triggers junk food urges. Knowing how comfort food affects us makes avoiding it easier.

1. Convenience

Junk food, unfortunately, is everywhere. There is a Mcdonalds restaurant at practically every mall you visit. In the middle of a hectic rush, junk food is a practical, yet delicious solution for stopping annoying hunger pangs.
It is also too easy to prepare. Putting a beef patty on a hot grill is all too simple.
With such food being so easily available, it is not a wonder why it has become a choice method for dealing with hunger.

2. Easing anxiety

People deal with more stress as society progresses. High stress levels cause the body to use up more energy, increasing cravings for calorific, exceptionally tasty food. Fatty, sugary foods are an all-too-available source of comfort.

3. Gives us quick energy

In times of high pressure, fast food, high in carbohydrates, gives people the quick energy they need. It gives them immediate strength to complete important projects overnight.

4. Dynamic Contrast

It is easy to create dynamic contrasts, or different flavor blends, with comfort food. You would have probably built many burgers with tender beef, salty cheese, sour pickles and sweet chili. The tantalizing flavors tease your taste buds, making you ask for more.

5. Salivation and the melt-in-your-mouth feeling

Junk food causes salivary responses. The more the food activates salivary glands, the more the saliva covers the taste buds. Emulsified foods, such as chocolates, cheeses, sauces and salad dressings, cause salivation and enhance taste.
Comfort food also produces the melt-in-your-mouth feeling, making you feel as though you are not eating as much as you should. This sensation tells your brain that you are not full and makes you overeat.

6. Sparks pleasant memories

Ice-cream and burgers may evoke pleasant memories of the times you shared burger feasts with family or friends. Ice-cream may remind you of walks when grandpa bought you ice-cream. Such pleasant memories stimulate insatiable cravings.

B. The effects of junk food

Comfort food sparks responses that make it difficult to resist. Resist it we must, as it has negative effects on the body.

1. It can cause Type 2 Diabetes

Fast food puts pressure on your body’s metabolism and affects how it uses insulin. It also lacks fiber, which counteracts sugar. The result is a drastic increase in sugar levels and diabetes.

2. Junk food triggers digestive problems

Those who eat high-lactose junk food are more likely than others to suffer from GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. They may also suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, a gut disorder that causes pain and bloat in different parts of the stomach. Diarrhea and constipation are hallmarks of this condition.

3. It leads to poor performance.

Studies have shown that fast food leads to memory impairment in rats. Researchers also observed that trans fat from junk food replaces healthy fat in the brain, interfering with a person’s ability to learn new skills.

4. Fast food increases weight.

The carbohydrates and unhealthy fats in junk food make it all too easy for a person to tip the scales. Obesity has links to a host of other health conditions.
It affects overall self-esteem. A person seldom feels his best when he or she is overweight.

5. It raises cholesterol levels and causes heart disease

Chefs often use fatty beef to create the burgers we love. Such beef is higher in HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol. When there is too much of such cholesterol in the blood, it builds up in the heart’s arteries and turns into hardened plaque. This stops blood flow to the heart and leads to a host of heart diseases. High cholesterol brings about coronary artery disease, a condition which occurs when blood cannot flow through the heart’s main artery, the coronary artery. The lack of blood flow and oxygen causes heart failure.

6. Junk food causes fatigue, weakness and breathlessness

Limited oxygen flow causes breathlessness. Fast food has a highly imbalanced nutritional content, so it lacks the essential nutrients the body needs for overall health. Though it fills the stomach and gives you energy, this energy fades off after a while. Over-consumption of comfort food leads to chronic fatigue.

7. It causes depression.

Teenagers go through many hormonal changes, making them prone to mood swings. A healthy diet maintains hormonal balance. Junk food, which lacks essential nutrients, disrupts this balance and increases the likelihood of depression by 58%.

8. Fast food causes kidney disease

Eating junk food, containing high amounts of sodium, leads to kidney failure. Salt is the reason saying no to potato chips is difficult. Too much salt disrupts the sodium and potassium balance in the body, causing hypertension. This, in turn, puts pressure on the kidney, which filters out unwanted substances. Too much stress on the kidney causes it to fail.

9. Junk food causes cancer risk.

Fast food has low fiber content. The digestive system needs fiber, as a lack of it leads to cancers of the digestive system. Studies published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention show that fast food increases the risk of colon cancer.

10. Fast food damages the liver

Fast food also damages the liver. Studies show that people who consume junk food, yet do not exercise will develop negative changes in liver enzymes. These studies also show that trans fat is responsible for liver dysfunction.

C. How to stop eating junk food between meals

Knowing these familiar effects is not enough. It is more essential to find ways to counter junk food cravings, including those that happen between meals.

1. Assess when you eat fast food.

The first of these methods is to think about when you eat fast food. If this takes place during stressful situations, you may want to think of alternative ways to deal with your stress. If it happens when you are alone, you might want to prepare quick, healthy meals for one person.
Quick snacks that you can munch on between meals are a powerful temptation. If you find yourself snacking between meals, replace unhealthy snacks with celery and carrot sticks instead.

2. Avoid drive throughs

Drive throughs are convenient to get to. To add to the convenience, there is no need to queue in the restaurant. Steer clear of drive throughs and their temptations.

3. Decide whether you have a fast food addiction

If you find that you eat fast food for nearly all meals, you are probably addicted to it. A person who has a fast food addiction has undying urges, despite being full. He would take in much more food than his body needs. A comfort food addict would feel guilty after eating, yet arm himself with excuses and do so again. Addicts hide their food consumption from others and find it difficult to resist.
Any of these symptoms would clearly show a fast food addiction you must counter.

4. Seek support.

You will need support to deal with a fast food addiction. Loved ones can help by restricting your fast food binges. They can also have healthy meals with you.
If the addiction is severe, look for food addiction support groups. These groups give health advice, in an empathetic setting.

5. Look at yourself in the mirror.

A good look at yourself in the mirror will discourage food addiction. Not eating fast food would help you fit into that gorgeous dress or stylish suit.

6. Drink only water.

Sugary, carbonated drinks are greatly responsible for weight gain. Make up your mind to avoid them and drink only water.

7. Make eating fruits and vegetables fun.

Healthy food is not necessarily boring. Give it a twist. Put fruit juice, without sugar, in popsicle holders and freeze it. This will make it novel for your family, especially your children.

8. Eat with others.

One way to avoid fast food is to eat with others. You would eat less if you have meals with friends, as you would not want to appear greedy.

9. Prepare meals ahead.

To avoid eating junk food under stress, prepare healthy sandwiches that you can eat while you work. A cucumber and tomato sandwich takes only a few minutes to put together.

10. Take meal replacement shakes.

Meal replacement shakes are an ideal fast food alternative and suit those on the go. The time taken to prepare a quick shake equals the time it takes to line up and place an order at a fast food counter. A balanced mix of proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins, shakes curb hunger between meals and encourage weight loss. Popular ones include:

a. IdealShape
b. Shakeology
c. Myoplex Lite
d. Isagenix Pro
e. Special K
f. Right Light
g. Trim Shake
h. Slender Satisfaction

It takes persistence, resilience and a few useful suggestions to show junk food the door. With determination, this unwelcome guest will show up less often.

Sources:

1. Patient.co.uk http://www.patient.co.uk/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome-leaflet

2. Diet Digest http://www.dietdigest.org/top-benefits-of-meal-replacements-shakes/

3. Healthy Eating http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/advantages-disadvantages-meal-replacement-shakes-7285.html

4. Fitness Fusion http://fitnessfusion.com/pros-cons-meal-replacement-shakes/

5.Self Growth http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/meal-replacement-shakes-benefits-and-risks-you-must-be-aware-of

6. Life Hacker http://lifehacker.com/why-your-brain-craves-junk-food-and-what-you-can-do-ab-1469120841

7. Livestrong http://www.livestrong.com/article/456624-negative-effects-of-junk-food-on-kids/ http://www.livestrong.com/article/392358-reasons-why-people-eat-junk-food-over-healthy-food/

8. http://bestmealreplacementshakeshq.com

9. Wikihow http://m.wikihow.com/Overcome-an-Addiction-to-Fast-Food

10. Reader’s Digest http://www.rd.com/slideshows/8-ways-to-train-your-brain-to-hate-junk-food/

How Eating a Low-Carb Diet Helped Me To Lose Weight

February 13th, 2015

Low Carb Chicken And Vegetable Soup 2

DISCLAIMER: I am not a dietician, nutritionist, or medical professional. I make no claims as to the scientific accuracy of the things I talk about here. Nothing here is health advice; it’s just my opinion based on what worked for me. Consult a professional before starting any diet.

The low-carb diet is has been shown to work well in promoting weight loss. A study that was conducted in Temple University showed that people on a low-carb diet tended to lose more weight than people who weren’t. Why is this? The low-carb diet works in a number of ways that leads to weight loss.

A low-carb diet kills appetite

Eating a low-carb diet leads to significant reduction in appetite. Lack of appetite makes a person eat very little despite the level of hunger. The result is a considerable drop in weight. When we cut carbs out of our diet, appetite automatically goes down and we end up eating much less food. Protein and fat are much more filling than carbs, so we don’t need the same number of total calories to keep us feeling full.

By getting rid of water from the body

With a low-carb diet there is a considerable loss of excess water from the body. Low-carb diets lower the level of insulin, making the kidney to start shedding excess sodium, which can promote weight loss, especially in the first 6 months of the diet.

By causing breakdown of stored fat into simple sugar (glucose)

The level and amount of blood sugars in the blood is directly proportional to the amount of carbohydrates consumed. With a low carb diet, blood sugars are low. This makes the body secrete more insulin in order to break the store fat to release energy. Breaking down of fat means a reduction in weight as stored fat is being removed without an equal replacement. Consider this;

Food manufacturers add some amount of refine carbohydrates to processed foods in the form of sugars or flour. For example, in cookies, cakes, candy, sodas and drinks. The body uses carbohydrates as it main source of fuel. For this fuel to be obtained, a lot of sugar and starch have to be broken down into simple sugars during digestion to release energy. These simple sugars are then absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose. When the blood sugar or simply glucose rises, the body is triggered to secrete and release insulin.

The idea behind having low carb diet is that it decrease the amount of blood sugars in the bloodstream leading to a significant increase in the amount of insulin level in the body, which makes the body to burn stored fat and ultimately leads to weight loss.

Lowering the amount of triglycerides in the bloodstream

A low carb diet reduces triglycerides in the blood. It is effective in lowering this fat molecule level in the blood.

Triglycerides can cause harmful abdominal fat, and it’s usually best to reduce your triglycerides if you can, especially if you’re coming off of a Standard American Diet. Research shows that low triglycerides significantly reduces the amount of abdominal fat.

Typical food for a low-carb diet

People eating low carb diet should mostly focus on protein including meat, nonstarchy vegetables, fish and eggs, and poultry. A low carb diet eliminates or limits amount of grains, breads, sweets, pastas, and starchy vegetables. Legumes and fruits are OK in moderation for most people, but you want to be careful with these because they do contain carbs. It’s usually a good idea to replace some of your carbs with healthy fats, such as nuts, olive oil, and avocado. If you’re exercising regularly, you’ll need to keep some carbs in your diet, but the more sedentary you are, the more you should eliminate carbs.

Best Food When You’re Traveling

November 16th, 2014

celery

In the past year, I’ve increasingly embraced the “digital nomad” lifestyle. I like the idea of being able to pick up and travel anywhere in the world, whenever I want to. Obviously, this lifestyle requires some planning, and it’s not for everyone. If you’re going to go down this route, obviously you have to have some way to keep your business running. I recommend getting a reliable VPN. You also need a way to get your business calls from anywhere in the world. I recommend reading the Virtual PBX reviews and Grasshopper reviews on OfficePhoneSystems, to find a phone system for the road.

But another important consideration of traveling is how you’re going to eat. If you’ve spent any amount of time in an airport, you know that your food options range from bad to terrible. They’re very overpriced, very unhealthy, and you often can’t bring food past security. If you avoid airports and go on a road trip, you can bring food with you…but your options are still limited by how quickly your food spoils, and how messy it is.

When you’re traveling, you want to be thinking about your least bad options for food. Here’s what I recommend:

1. Nuts - Nuts are high in calories, so don’t get carried away with them. But they are extremely nutritious. My favorites are almonds and cashews, but walnuts are very healthy and contain antioxidants too. I would recommend avoiding peanuts and macadamia nuts, particularly the ones that are loaded with salt. They aren’t as nutritious as other nuts.

2. Bananas and grapes - These are the most travel-friendly fruits, in my opinion. They’re easy to eat, they don’t spoil to quickly, and they don’t make a huge mess. You can also bring apples on road trips, but they’re a bit messier. I would avoid citrus fruits, melons, or berries. They’re very messy and they spoil quickly.

3. Trail mix - Trail mix really isn’t that good for you, but as I said at the beginning, we’re focusing on your least bad options. Often when you travel, there aren’t many good choice. Trail mix is preferable to, say, candy. Even though it’s often loaded with salt and refined grains, it usually doesn’t have too much sugar, which is one of the worst foods for you.

4. Pre-cut celery and carrots - This is my favorite snack for road trips. It’s healthy, it’s usually OK out of the refrigerator for up to a day or two, and it isn’t messy. If you want to make it more of a snack, bring a jar of peanut butter with you and spread it on your celery and carrots.

Sources:

Eat Right for Healthy Skin

October 21st, 2014

dark chocolate

If you’re anything like me, you probably worry about your skin. For me, it’s my physical feature that I’m the least confident about, so I want to do everything I can to protect it and keep it healthy. Ironically, some of the things that we can do to keep our skin looking good can actually damage them in the long term.

The best example of this is tanning, which can cause skin cancer. Also, some skin lighteners contain hydroquinone, which can be dangerous. As my friend Amy over at BestWhiteningCream says, you should always choose a skin lightening cream that doesn’t have hydroquinone. (Click here to learn how to lighten skin over at Amy’s site – she works really hard on it.)

But it’s not enough to just avoid dangerous activities to keep our skin healthy. We need to be proactive. Certain foods can help you keep your skin healthy, so it’s important to include them in your diet. What foods are the best for your skin?

1. Dark chocolate - Surprise! Chocolate has long had a bad reputation as causing acne, which has no scientific basis whatsoever. Dark chocolate is actually great for your skin, because it contains flavonols and antioxidants that slow aging, and the cocoa helps keep your skin hydrated. Eat it in moderation though. If you’re a chocolate lover like me, it’s easy to go overboard.

2. Soy or edamame - According to Fitness Magazine, soy is rich in protein and contains minerals that help reduce hyperpigmentation in your skin. So if you want to get an even skin tone, edamame is a great snack. Avoid soy sauce though; it has lots of salt and other unhealthy ingredients that more than cancel out any health benefits from the soy itself.

3. Tomatoes - Tomatoes are another antioxidant-rich food. They contain lycopene, which can help protect you from sunburn by increasing your skin’s natural SPF. It’s definitely not a replacement for a good sunscreen, but it can help improve its effectiveness. Plus, tomatoes are one of the most potassium-rich foods, containing more than twice as much potassium as bananas!

These are my three favorite foods for healthy skin. Keep in mind that I’m not a doctor, so don’t use this as medical advice. These are just foods that I enjoy which also seem to have some great health benefits. I hope that this helps you. What foods do you think are the best for your skin?

m4s0n501

Best Foods For a Good Night’s Sleep

September 8th, 2014

Good Morning Snore Solution Reviews

I have never been a deep sleeper. When I was in college, I would frequently wake up several times during the night and be unable to fall back to sleep. Even now, it can sometimes be hard for me to fall asleep. To top it off, I snore and have sleep apnea, which drives my husband crazy and causes me to wake up in the middle of the night. I found that getting a good anti-snoring product like Good Morning Snore Solution or zQuiet helps me quit snoring and sleep better, but I still frequently struggle with insomnia.

Fortunately, eating a healthy diet can help you sleep better. If you are tired of waking up in the middle of the night, be sure to add these foods to your diet:

1. Chamomile tea - A nice cup of chamomile tea before bedtime can be a relaxing ritual. It contains natural sedatives, and is naturally caffeine-free. This should go without saying, but if you’re going to drink tea before bedtime, make sure that it’s caffeine-free or it’s going to have the opposite effect.

2. Eggs - Generally I’m not a fan of high-protein foods before bed, because protein is harder for your body to digest than fat or carbs. However, eggs are the one exception. According to WebMD, eggs contain tryptophan, which makes you drowsy. Personally I like to have a hard-boiled egg about an hour before I go to bed, so that the tryptophan will take effect at just the right time.

3. Kale - Is there anything that kale can’t do? It’s truly a miracle food, because it seems to pop up on every list of “best foods for” whatever. Kale has a lot of calcium, which can help you fall asleep. If you’re going to eat just one green vegetable before bed, make it kale.

4. Yogurt – Yogurt works for the same reason that kale does: it’s rich in calcium. Any dairy product will do the job, but yogurt is best. If you don’t like yogurt, a glass of milk will do the job too.

5. Bananas - Bananas are rich in Vitamin B6, which helps your body product melatonin. Melatonin causes you to get sleepy. It’s important to note that bananas are a slow-acting sleep aid. Don’t eat them just before bed with the expectation that they’ll help you immediately. Instead, you should regularly incorporate them into your diet so that you sleep better in the long term.

6. Cherries - Cherries (along with bananas) are the best fruits for sleep. Cherries are a natural source of melatonin. Much like bananas, cherries are a long-term solution rather than a quick fix. You should make them a staple of your diet to improve your long-term quality of sleep.

Another great thing is that the last four foods on this list all go great together. You can make a green smoothie consisting of kale, yogurt, bananas, and cherries in the evening. Not only is it delicious, but it contains a lot of nutrients and will improve your sleep!

Sources:

http://www.antisnoringdevices.net/

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/ss/slideshow-sleep-foods