Happy National Parfait Day!!! – Is Yogurt Parfait Healthy?

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The French word for perfect is parfait, and when you add whole grains and fruit to yogurt to create a delicious breakfast or snack treat, you are perfecting yogurt’s already considerable health benefits. Typically, a yogurt parfait consists of layers of yogurt, grains such as granola or crushed gram crackers and fruit. When the fat and calories are low, it can be a healthful choice at fast-food restaurants and coffeehouses.

Nutritional Value

When not loaded with additional sugar, low-fat or fat-free versions of yogurt are an excellent source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, which are microorganisms that help keep the digestive system working properly, according to information published by the Michigan State University. Fruit imparts a vitamin-rich and naturally sweet characteristic to your yogurt parfait. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you eat two cups of fruit a day, and a parfait will get you on your way to fulfilling that recommendation. The Harvard School of Public Health says diets rich in fruits and vegetables lower blood pressure and reduce risks of heart disease, strokes, some cancers and some eye problems.
According to Familydoctor.org, the healthiest grains to use are oatmeal, low-fat granola or crushed crackers. These grains are healthiest because they are rich in complex carbohydrates, which regulate your digestive system and your blood sugar levels.

Making it Your Own

Much of the dish’s health benefits come from how completely customizable it is, with your choice of yogurt, grain and fruit. Take a cue from the Cleveland Clinic, which recommends adding some slivered nuts, wheat germ or ground flax seeds to add heart-healthy omega-3s and fiber that will keep your digestive system in good shape. Yogurt parfaits are healthy partially because they are so easy to make. If you’re in a hurry, throw in some blueberries or raspberries that don’t need to be sliced.

Healthy Additions

You can also add easy extras that maximize a yogurt parfait’s health benefits. Drizzle some raw local honey between the parfait’s layers. Not only will it add sweet flavor, the 2012 issue of “Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” reports honey will boost your immune system and help reduce inflammation throughout your body. Sprinkle some cinnamon to top off your parfait’s healthfulness. A study in the March 2009 “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that cinnamon lowers the rise in blood sugar levels following a meal.

Parfait Convenience

One of the key benefits to a yogurt parfait is that it provides an easy to make or purchase a portable and, most importantly, balanced small meal. A meal composed of all the major food categories — protein, carbohydrates and a small amount of fat — allows your body to take full advantage of the nutrients provided by each type of food.

Finding Room in Your Diet

At a fast-food restaurant or coffeehouse, a parfait seems like a healthy and appetizing option. Before you make your decision, though, take a few seconds to analyze the calorie and fat information on the parfait, which should be located either on the menu or on the ready-made parfait’s label. The American Heart Association calculates that with a typical 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, you should ingest no more than 56 to 77 grams of fat a day. Keep in mind that breakfast should account for a little less than a third of your total daily intake of calories and fat.

Credit: Live Strong

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Happy National Cashew Day!!! – Health Benefits of Cashews

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Cashew Nuts

Here are seven health benefits of cashews.

Cancer Prevention
Cashews are ripe with proanthocyanidins, a class of flavanols that actually starve tumors and stop cancer cells from dividing. Studies have also shown that cashews can reduce your colon cancer risk. Their high copper content also endows the seed with the power to eliminate free radicals and they are also good sources of phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect us from heart disease and cancer.

Heart Health
Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts and most of it is in the form of oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Studies show that oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health by helping to reduce triglyceride levels, high levels of which are associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Cashews are wonderfully cholesterol free and their high antioxidant content helps lower risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases. The magnesium in cashews helps lower blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.

Hair and Skin Health
Cashews are rich in the mineral copper. An essential component of many enzymes, copper plays its part in a broad array of processes. One copper-containing enzyme, tyrosinase, converts tyrosine to melanin, which is the pigment that gives hair and skin its color. Without the copper cashews are so abundant in, these enzymes would not be able to do their jobs.

Bone Health
Cashews are particularly rich in magnesium. It’s a well-known fact that calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium is as well. Most of the magnesium in the human body is in our bones. Some of it helps lend bones their physical structure, and the remainder is located on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to use as it needs. Copper found in cashews is vital for the function of enzymes involved in combining collagen and elastin, providing substance and flexibility in bones and joints.

Good for the Nerves By preventing calcium from rushing into nerve cells and activating them, magnesium keeps our nerves relaxed and thereby our blood vessels and muscles too. Too little magnesium means too much calcium can gain entrance to the nerve cell, causing it to send too many messages, and leading to too much contraction.

Insufficient magnesium leads to higher blood pressure, muscle tension, migraine headaches, soreness and fatigue. Not surprisingly, studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps diminish the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.

Prevent Gallstones
Data collected on 80,718 women from the Nurses’ Health Study demonstrates that women who eat at least an ounce of nuts each week, such as cashews, have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones.

Weight Loss
People who eat nuts twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who rarely eat nuts. Cashew nuts are indeed relatively high in fat, but it is considered “good fat.” This is attributable to the ideal fat ratio in the nut, 1:2:1 for saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, respectively, which is recommended by scientists for tip-top health. Cashew nuts contain less fat than most other popular nuts, including peanuts, pecans, almonds and walnuts. They are dense in energy and high in dietary fiber, making them a very valuable snack for managing weight gain.

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Credit: Health Diaries

 

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Happy National Gingerbread Day!!! (Nov. 21st) – Cholly’s World-Famous Gingerbread Cake

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Cholly’s World-Famous Gingerbread Cake

Ingredients

1 cup dark molasses

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter, at room temperature

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 large eggs Unsweetened cocoa and/or powdered sugar (optional)

Fresh mint sprigs (optional), rinsed

Preparation

  1. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in molasses and baking soda. After mixture stops foaming, stir in 1/2 cup cold water; let cool to room temperature, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs until blended. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add flour and molasses mixtures alternately until incorporated, then beat on high speed until well blended. Pour into a buttered and floured 9-inch square pan.
  4. Bake in a 325° regular or convection oven until a toothpick inserted in center of thickest part comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack at least 1 1/4 hours.
  5. Pour about 1/4 cup crème anglaise onto each plate. Cut cake into pieces (see notes) and set them in sauce on plates. If desired, lightly sift cocoa and/or powdered sugar over each plate and garnish with a mint sprig. Offer remaining crème anglaise to add to taste.

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The Pursuit of Happiness by Aristotle — Tell us what makes YOU HAPPY!!!

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“Happiness depends on ourselves.” More than anybody else, Aristotle enshrines happiness as a central purpose of human life and a goal in itself. As a result he devotes more space to the topic of happiness than any thinker prior to the modern era. Living during the same period as Mencius, but on the other side of the world, he draws some similar conclusions. That is, happiness depends on the cultivation of virtue, though his virtues are somewhat more individualistic than the essentially social virtues of the Confucians. Yet as we shall see, Aristotle was convinced that a genuinely happy life required the fulfillment of a broad range of conditions, including physical as well as mental well-being. In this way he introduced the idea of a science of happiness in the classical sense, in terms of a new field of knowledge.

Essentially, Aristotle argues that virtue is achieved by maintaining the Mean, which is the balance between two excesses. Aristotle’s doctrine of the Mean is reminiscent of Buddha’s Middle Path, but there are intriguing differences. For Aristotle the mean was a method of achieving virtue, but for Buddha the Middle Path referred to a peaceful way of life which negotiated the extremes of harsh asceticism and sensual pleasure seeking. The Middle Path was a minimal requirement for the meditative life, and not the source of virtue in itself.

In conclusion, according to Aristotle, what is happiness?

  • Happiness is the ultimate end and purpose of human existence
  • Happiness is not pleasure, nor is it virtue. It is the exercise of virtue.
  • Happiness cannot be achieved until the end of one’s life. Hence it is a goal and not a temporary state.
  • Happiness is the perfection of human nature. Since man is a rational animal, human happiness depends on the exercise of his reason.
  • Happiness depends on acquiring a moral character, where one displays the virtues of courage, generosity, justice, friendship, and citizenship in one’s life. These virtues involve striking a balance or “mean” between an excess and a deficiency.

Happiness requires intellectual contemplation, for this is the ultimate realization of our rational capacities.

Tell us what makes you HAPPY!!!

Credit: Pursuit of Happiness

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Train, Eat, Rest, Repeat – The Benefits of Deadlifting

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1. Increased Fat Burning

Alwyn Cosgrove, a personal trainer and fitness author, recently wrote about a study where: “Overweight subjects were assigned to three groups: diet-only, diet plus aerobics, diet plus aerobics plus weights. The diet group lost 14.6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. The aerobic group lost only one more pound (15.6 pounds) than the diet group (training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes and progressing to 50 minutes over the 12 weeks).

The weight training group lost 21.1 pounds of fat (44% and 35% more than diet and aerobic only groups respectively). Basically, the addition of aerobic training didn’t result in any real world significant fat loss over dieting alone.”

Lifting weights and resistance training will burn more fat than just dieting or dieting with cardio exercise alone.

2. Better Posture

Deadlifting increases your core strength and adds to core stability, according to Robson. Deadlifting targets all of the muscles responsible for your posture and enables you to keep your back straighter during regular daily activities.

3. More Muscles Worked

The Deadlift works more muscles than any other exercise, including the squat. The lift engages all of the major muscle groups, according to exercise physiologist Kevin Farley. If you need to do one exercise, this is the one to do. The Deadlift works your lower and upper body, including your back muscles.

4. Increased Real Life Lift

When you do other lifting exercises, like a bench press, for example, you’re not doing anything you might really do in real life. When are you ever going to have the need to lay on your back and push something in the air — unless you’re giving your two-year-old “flying lessons.” The Deadlift develops the muscles you need to actually carry something, like a bucket of water, those heavy grocery bags or your neighbor’s dining room table.

5. It’s Safe

The Deadlift is one of the safest weightlifting exercises you can perform. You aren’t going to get pinned under the weight or have to worry about it pulling you over backwards. If you get into trouble, you can simply drop it…making for a loud bang, no doubt, but no damage. You also don’t have to have a spotter to perform this exercise.

6. Improved Grip Strength

According to Outlaw Fitness: “Deadlifts are renowned for their ability to build massive amounts of grip strength, and for good reason. Your fingers are literally the only things connecting you to the weight of the bar. Your forearms have to work incredibly hard as you progress in weight to keep the bar from falling out of your hands. Subsequently your grip strength grows by leaps and bounds.”

7. Increases Hormones

Now don’t worry, these aren’t the hormones that will make you more emotional! Instead, by doing at least 8 to 10 repetitions of Deadlifts with significant weight, you can increase the amount of testosterone and growth hormone produced by your body. Testosterone increases muscle growth and improves muscle repair while growth hormone, which is produced by your pituitary gland, promotes tissue healing, bone strength, muscle growth and fat loss.

8. Cheap and Easy

A lot of exercises require a lot of equipment, special shoes or whatever. Not the Deadlift. Just a bar with some weight. Pick it up. Simple. You can usually find freeweights and a bar at a thrift store – or being given away by a friend – making it even cheaper.

9. Increased Cardio

Believe it or not, doing 10 repetitions of Deadlifts will increase your cardiovascular ability. You might want to make sure you have somewhere to sit down when you’re done!

10. Prevents Injury

The Deadlift can help prevent injuries by increasing the strength of your muscles around critical tendons and ligaments. Supporting joints with strong muscles is crucial to preventing injury, especially in the hamstrings and lower back, according to Outlaw Fitness.

Credit: Life Hack

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