The FDA Finally Puts Their Foot Down: No More Trans Fat!

The time has finally come. There is no longer a need to fret over whether or not your morning stack of Bisquick pancakes, Pop Secret popcorn, or Chips Ahoy cookies have loads of trans fat: the hydrogenated oils that are known to increase the risk of heart disease. Originally, the FDA proposed a ban on trans fat in consumer products back in November of 2013. Specifically, the FDA targeted partially hydrogenated vegetable oils—an ingredient found in many crackers, baked goods, frozen foods, and even foods you would believe to be decent (Saltines, anyone?). It is now 2015, and consumers are starting to take note of all the foods that still contain trans fat. Most of us experienced a sigh of relief when we first heard about the transition, but the transition seemed to never occur. Rather, food-manufacturing companies lowered the levels of trans fat in their products so that they did not have to report the amount on their nutrition labels. While we consumers thought that we had seen the last of partially hydrogenated oils, food companies profited from tiptoeing around the FDA ban.

 

Fast forward to June 16th, 2015. NPR reports that the FDA has taken note of the sneaky food companies and decided on a ban of all trans fats on processed foods to be complete by 2018. By setting a specific timeline, the FDA hopes to give manufacturers the time to come up with alternate methods of producing their goods or adequate time to receive approval for their additives. While the FDA is keeping an eye out for the scant amounts of trans fat in your buttered popcorn, it is helpful to read the ingredients list to find out for yourself if certain packaged goods contain the destructive ingredient. While any less than .5g of trans fat does not have to be listed on the nutrition label, look for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, cottonseed oils, soybean oils, and similar ingredients as an indication of trans fat.

 

transfatlabel

 

Small amounts can add up. So while the food manufacturing industry works to fix the problem, take matters into your own hands and start reading carefully. With 86% of processed foods already without trans fat, we are well on our way to exterminating the elusive ingredient.

 

Sources:

Barclay, E. (2014). When Zero Doesn’t Mean Zero: Trans Fats Linger in Foods. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/08/28/343971652/trans-fats-linger-stubbornly-in-the-food-supply

Aubrey, A., & Stein, R. (2015). FDA To Food Companies: This Time, Zero Means Zero Trans Fats. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/16/414906829/fda-to-food-companies-this-time-zero-means-zero-trans-fats

How to Avoid the “Are We There Yet?”

The summer is a time to relax, spend time with your family, enjoy the outdoors, and most of all, it is a time to travel. Depending on your final destination, the time you spend sitting in the car, on a train, or on a plane can seem endless. If you are like me, you quickly become antsy. If I’m required to sit for over an hour in a cramped position, I will likely become irritable and fidgety. However, over the years I have acquired a few activities to keep myself sane that are worth the try. The days of playing the “License Plate Game” and “I Spy” are over. From individual games to group activities, these are sure to keep your restlessness at bay until you reach your final destination.

 

  1. Catch Phrase (on the go):
  • Yes, the family favorite can join you on your trip. The newest electronic models of Catch Phrase are only as big as your head, and they don’t require bringing along a pack of discs to change the words. Everything is contained within the handheld toy. Whether two people are playing or the whole crew wants to join, this game more often than not turns into a lot of excited flailing, gestures, and heated competition. Just be sure to bring an extra set of batteries.

catch phrase

  1. LogosQuiz
  • As if we don’t already spend enough time on our phone during a long journey, downloading a few fun games on your phone can prove to be a lifesaver. One of my favorite apps is called LogosQuiz. In the game, you are given a piece of a company logo (for instance, the signature B in the Barbie logo) and you must type in the correct brand name. You will be surprised by how many graphics you recognize just from passing glances and through the media. This game is bound to have you asking those around you for help once you get past the first round of “no-brainers.”

LogosQuiz appLogosQuiz screenshot 1LogosQuiz screenshot 2

  1. “What’s Their Life”
  • Time to get creative. I already have a habit of looking in the windows at the drivers in passing cars or at the passengers in the airport, so I turn this tendency into a game. The game involves making up a crazy (or realistic) story about each passerby’s life. Perhaps the woman driving the red Fiat grew up in Italy and moved to the states after meeting the love of her life on a ski trip in Colorado. Maybe the man in the black BMW is a former spy and has an underground house in the mountains of California. The crazier the stories, the more fun the game becomes.
  1. Mad Libs
  • Remember these? Although the game first appeared in the early 1950’s, it is far from outdated. The Mad Lib creators update their products and stories every so often, and the assortment of booklets is endless. For those who have never heard of the game, Mad Libs are small booklets that feature a collection of short (usually one paragraph-long) stories with intentional blanks throughout the text. Each blank must be filled in by a word that fits the description given underneath (ex. Noun, verb, adjective, animal, person’s name, etc.). However, the point of the game is not to read the story until you have filled in the blanks with random words. The best way to play is to ask those around you for a random noun, verb, adjective, etc. Then, when all the blanks have been filled, read the story aloud. It is inevitable that you will start to laugh ‘till you cry when you hear the ridiculousness of what you created.

Mad Libs

  1. Come up with a Bucket List
  • Everyone loves to make goals for themselves. We do it everyday. So with the extra time on you hands, why not come up with a list of crazy (or not so crazy) things to do on your trip. If you’re feeling more inspired, come up with a list of 20 things to do before you turn 20 or 10 new words you will use everyday in the next month. Whatever list you choose to create, do not make it a to-do list. Remember, this is vacation.

Bucket List

  1. Freestyle Rap
  • Drop the beat and channel your inner Nicki Minaj with some freestyle rap. If no one can keep a steady beat, try looking up a beat on Youtube that suits your taste. Whenever you’re ready, spit out some rhymes and have others pick up where you leave off. Not sure what to rhyme about? Anything! This is when you can let out your most random train of thought that you have been holding in since you sat down. Needless to say, once you get started, it’s hard to stop.

Freestyle rap

  1. Pointless Debates
  • This is one time when it is acceptable to argue with others. First things first, you have to come up with a topic. Perhaps you want to create two sides to an argument by playing it similar to a game of “Would You Rather.” For example, “Would you rather have Beyonce’s dance skills, or an endless supply of Chick-fil-a?” Now that’s a tough question. Once you pick your side, argue why you chose it even if you and others all agree. Another way to play is with a more open-ended question: “The US government has just put a ban on candy. How would you react/respond to this tragedy?” This undoubtedly will provoke a conversation to keep you preoccupied for the next few hours, if not days.

pointless debates

As the anticipation of reaching your final destination increases with every mile covered, remember, half of the experience is the journey.

 

The New and Improved Peanut

peanut allergy

I’m in love. In love with a certain food, that is. I am in love with peanut butter. My heart breaks for the consumers who cannot taste its delightful creaminess (although I prefer the crunchy version) due to an allergy. For those who are able to eat a spoonful of JIF and not swell up like a balloon or break out in a rash, eating peanut butter is the equivalent of tasting a little piece of Heaven. However, the proportion of individuals who have an allergy to peanuts is extremely high. In fact, it is the most prevalent food allergy in the US, affecting almost 1% of the population. It may sound small, but that is roughly 2.8 million people. Still sound small? It is also estimated that 80% of all food induced anaphylactic cases are due to peanuts. Although no scientist has come to the conclusion of why this allergy exists and the best methods to treat it (if any), we are making progress. Mainly, nutritionists and chemists are developing alternate forms of nut butters including sunflower butter, cashew butter, almond butter, and soy butter. Whether or not it tastes as good as true peanut butter is up for debate.

Nut-Butters

But why should those with an allergy be deprived of the indescribable taste of the original spread? Nutrition researchers North Carolina A&T State University must have realized this dilemma. Dr. Jianmei Yu and fellow researchers developed a way to soak peanuts in enzymes that denature two of the main allergens in peanuts. In doing so, an individual with a peanut allergy will not experience the symptoms of an allergic attack. This method is praised because it does not interfere with the genetics of the food itself, thus, the debate surrounding genetically modified food versus organic does not pertain. You may be wondering: “When will these peanuts show up on the shelves of supermarkets?” It shouldn’t be long. Clinical trials have already been done with patients at UNC Chapel Hill indicating the successful nature of peanut modification. The best part: the peanuts actually taste like the traditional nut. Although I cannot personally verify this statement, the treated peanuts are a simple, noninvasive way to alter two allergens rather then the entire molecular structure of the nut. Thus, it seems probable that the highly enjoyed comestible tastes identical (if not at least very similar) to true peanuts.

What effect does this have on the peanut butter market? It is hard to say. Perhaps all peanut products will eventually be made with treated peanuts. While I eagerly await the arrival of the new and improved nut, I shall sit back and enjoy my spoonful (or two) of heavenly, crunchy JIF peanut butter.

 

“A&T Signs Agreement to Commercialize Hypoallergenic Peanut.” North Carolina A&T State Univeristy, June 2014. Web. 13 Apr.

2015. <http://www.ncat.edu/news/2014/06/peanuts.html>.

 

Beck, Melinda. “Food Allergy and Intolerance.” UNC Chapel Hill: Gillings School of Public Health. 29 Sept. 2014. Slide 9.

Powerpoint.

 

Pictures:

http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2010/02/new_diagnostic_test_may_make_i.html

http://www.rejuvenative.com/categories/Raw-Organic-Nut-%26-Seed-Butters/Peanut-Free-Nut-Butters/

Embrace Your Body: a Focus on National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2015

nedawareness_logo-color11-1

We dedicate weeks and months of the year to recognizing significant issues facing today’s society, to commemorate historical moments, and even to celebrate significant figures in our lives. This past week, February 22-28th, was National Eating Disorders Awareness Week—a topic that has risen to the top of the discussion list. This year, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) themed the week “I Had No Idea” in an effort to emphasize early intervention. The overarching goal of the week is “to put the spotlight on the seriousness of eating disorders and to improve public understanding of their causes, triggers and treatments.” NEDA has dedicated their resources to exposing the cold, hard facts about eating disorders, creating programs for treatment, educating others about how they can play a role, and raising awareness for the need to rid society of the eating disorder epidemic. This year, the hope is to teach others to learn the signs and symptoms of eating disorders so that individuals who are suffering have a better chance of avoiding a full-blown disorder are achieving treatment before it is too late. With the high prevalence of eating disorders on college campuses and even in middle and high schools around the country, I am proud to see so many students partaking in the fight to end this issue.

On UNC Chapel Hill’s campus, the Campus Recreation staff, Campus Health Services, Carolina Dining Services, Student Wellness, Embody Carolina, and the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders organized 7 days of events to celebrate this nationally recognized week. Activities such as a special speaker series, group exercise classes, and posters across campus were used to emphasize the issue that plagues too many individuals in the student body. Having been a tri-sport athlete in high school, I like to call the gym my second home and understand the importance of balancing all aspects of life. Many of us are burdened with stress from our fast paced society, and I have personally witnessed the damage that can occur to an individual who is unsure of how to cope with the multitude of stressors in life. This year, the emphasis on early intervention is a topic that, I believe, is one of the most important aspects in battling the issue of eating disorders. Becoming familiar with warning signs and symptoms has to potential to save an individual from hurting the amazing body that they have been given.

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One of my favorite activities of the week was Mirrorless Monday, a campaign to help students understand that the importance of feeling that they are beautiful rather than having what they see in the mirror dictate how they view themselves. Also equally impactful were the two life size cutouts of Barbie and G.I. Joe in the front lobby of the gym. The posters enlarged and downsized specific areas of each blown up doll with facts to emphasize the unrealistic proportions of each toy. This goes to show the impact of media on girls and boys alike.

IMG_5929_2

With the conversation abuzz, it is time to continue the conversation. We cannot continue down the path we are on as eating disorders are affecting younger and younger generations. While both males and females fall into the trap of eating disorders, young women tend to be more susceptible at younger ages. Thus, we must start educating early. “Healthy” comes in all different shapes and sizes, and we must start to recognize the need to combat the growing issue of constantly picking apart our bodies. We are all uniquely beautiful, and we don’t need a mirror to tell us that.

 

XOXO,

Rachel

 

To see some of the staggering facts, visit http://nedawareness.org and follow them on instagram: @nedastaff

 

To see some of the fun activities that UNC held, check out the Campus Recreation Instagram: @unccampusrec , #UNCBodyBeautiful , or #Embody4NEDA

 

Pictures courtesy of the UNC Campus Recreation instagram

 

 

 

Become a Global Explorer: 5 Reasons to Study Abroad

To walk around the Earth at the equator, you would have to journey a mere 24,901.55 miles. That’s roughly 131,480, 184 feet—or about 90,426 Empire State Buildings lying flat on their side from end to tip. My point: the world is a vast entity with no shortage of space to explore. As much as I enjoy traveling from state to state, taking in the sights of my home country, I am ready to leap across oceans and explore the rest of Earth.   Being in college, I am constantly bombarded with flyers about study abroad programs and endless emails about applying to semesters in London, Cairo, and New Zealand. Hesitant at first, I have now realized that this is the prime time to study abroad. Personally, I will be applying to a program for the summer in Grenoble, France, an area in the Southeast region of the French Alps.

 

grenoble

http://www.quazoo.com/q/University_of_Grenoble

 

Although it is only a 6-week program to study Biochemistry, I still have goals in mind outside of academics as I prepare to travel to a new place. In asking those who have already studied abroad and the advisors with whom I have met to discuss my travels, they have provided me with an extensive list of the reasons why everyone should study abroad. Now I would like to share them with you in hopes that one day you will find the time to take that leap of faith and explore the world.

 

  1. Exploring New Territory

A plane trip halfway across the world may be a scary thought, especially when it plops you down in the middle of a country 8000 miles away from home. But the new surroundings are likely to stimulate your senses and make you more aware of what is around you. We tend to overlook the commonalities in the community in which we live—the bakery on the corner that you pass each morning on the way to the local gym where you see the same people on the same treadmills every morning at the same time. New places mean new faces, new sights, and new sensations. It is the chance to live up the phrase, “stop and smell the roses.” Who knows what you might find just around the corner.

 

  1. Independence

There is nothing more invigorating that being on your own—let alone in a different country. Study abroad programs tend to have small numbers of students and potentially only one professor. Thus, it is up to you to make sure you are prepared each day, make it to the right places at the right times, and ensure that the decisions you make work best for you. Also, there tends to be a lot of free time on trips outside of the classroom setting (if you are enrolled in a class). This is a time to take the initiative and plan a day trip with some other students, visit the local areas, or skip on over to another destination for the weekend. Being on your own comes with great responsibility. Using this you your advantage will no doubt leave you with a sense of independence and hone in your decision making, planning, and extroversion abilities.

 

  1. Discover New Interests

Think you don’t like hiking or skiing all that much? How about mountain biking? Or snorkeling? Different countries boast a variety of activities based on the culture and the surroundings. You’re already out of your comfort zone being in a foreign land, why not go ahead and try something new. Our interests are wide ranging, and there is always room for another favorite activity. Even the entertainment aspect of a culture might encourage you to explore a new taste in music, a new dessert, or a local hangout spot on the weekends.

 

  1. Become Adaptable

You travel outside of America to immerse yourself in a new culture. The people will be different, the food will be different, the social interactions will be different, and the expectations will be different. In order to truly get a feel for the country in which you are living, you must have an open mind to the culture. It is important to observe and understand that things are different in various cultures. Some aspects may come as a shock at first, but it will push you to adapt. When you return home, you are likely to bring back these skills of adaptation by being more open minded to others’ ideas—an attribute that will undoubtedly make you a more approachable individual.

 

  1. Make Long Term Relationships

Traveling abroad requires you to leave behind your friends and family. However, this is the opportune time to form new connections with the other students in your travel group and those around the areas that you visit. It is likely that most of the students are just like you—individuals who are attempting to see the world yet are trying to branch out by taking on the program by themselves. Everyone needs that travel buddy, that food exploration friend, and that go to activity tackling accomplice. Take this chance to put yourself out there and be outgoing. Think about it: what better excuse to travel abroad again than to see the best friend you met on your study abroad trip.

 

pic 2

http://admissions.unc.edu/tag/excelcarolina/

 

You only have so much time before life gets busy. I highly encourage everyone to tackle the oceans and immerse himself or herself in a place far from home. You don’t know what you might be missing if you never take the chance to explore what surrounds each and every one of us. Worried about finding the program that is perfect for you? There is no need to fear. The immense amount of resources that study abroad offices have at college is enough to make one’s mind spin. Even if you are not in college, churches, schools, and online travel groups boast a wide variety of programs for every interest. This summer, my personal goal is to experience my own form of each of these 5 beneficial aspects of studying abroad. Here’s to taking a leap of faith before the opportunity is lost.

 

Bon Voyage,

Rachel

 

Inspiration courtesy of: http://www.internationalstudent.com/study-abroad/guide/ten-benefits-to-studying-abroad/

Nail Your New Year Exercise Resolutions

Congratulations, you’ve successfully made it through another year! Now that the new year is kick starting, it’s time to initiate that list of resolutions that typically gets buried in the back of a drawer only to be found three years later. But this shall occur no longer. It is time to complete the list for once.

Without a doubt, the most common new years resolutions revolve around exercise. Whether you want to hit the gym a few more times a week (or start going to the gym), try a new workout class, or get in shape to run that charity 5K, 2015 is the year to live up to these aspirations. However, this is easier said than done. I recently uncovered an article speaking directly to the exercise goal-seekers who are unaware of how to jump start their path to success. According to Gena Raymond, author of “Sick Of Working Out? 6 Tips To Motivate Yourself & Get Back In The Game,” there are a plethora of methods to find the light at the end of the tunnel.

exercise

My favorite tip (and coincidently the first tip) that Raymond discusses is how to find your “why.” We often find ourselves focused on exercise as a means of looking good. Your “why” may simply be “I want to not be restricted to a certain clothing style, material, or size,” and that is perfectly acceptable. In a society that seems so obsessed with looks, it is hard to escape the desire to fit a certain appearance. However, perhaps an additional consideration when determining your “why” is something outside the vanity realm. Perhaps your church is holding a 5 mile run to support a local charity, or the preschool down the street is looking for volunteers to run after kids as they attempt a local fieldtrip. The desire to register in an event or run around with energetic kids can stimulate the mind to focus on more reasons “why” you should achieve your exercise resolutions.

 

When there is constant conversation about dreaming big and having high expectations and goals, it is hard not to follow suit. However, having extreme goals can often hinder our focus. Yes, have big aspirations, but strive to achieve them with a variety of small goals. When you set small stepping stones on the path to a larger feat, you are more likely to stick with your plan because you can check each small step off your list. As humans, we crave reward—we feed off of reward—and achieving small goals is a method of satisfying that part of our brain and pushing us to want more. So if your goal is to raise $10,000 for your local animal shelter, start small. Encourage yourself to raise $200 first, hold three fundraising event each month, or generate a team of members to help you raise the funds.

 

Speaking of the elation we often feel by reaching a goal, keep this feeling of satisfaction in your mind as you picture yourself completing each resolution (and each step). If your goal is to hit the gym more, imagine the feeling you will have after that 30 minute workout. It may be -9° F outside, but just dreaming of the feeling of elation after a hard workout is the push you need to hop out of bed. Don’t forget to pat yourself on the back too to tell yourself “good job.”

 

One point I would add to Raymond’s list, is the benefit of engaging a community system into your goal. What I mean is that peers and other acquaintances often have the power to help us stick to our goals. Now this does not mean that your goal should be the same as every one else’s goal. But rather, telling others, posting on Facebook, or community tracking on iPhone apps keeps us feeling accountable. We feel that we must achieve the goal because we have told others and we don’t want to fail in front of them. Essentially, the small amount of added pressure is likely to drive us to stick to our goals.

 

The first few weeks will be hard, no doubt. But it is the initial drive out of the rut that is the hardest part—then the path becomes open to opportunity. Remember to stay focused on what is realistic for you. Goals are supposed to be self-tailored to be achievable and effective. If you’re like me and didn’t come up with a full list of new-years resolutions yet, never fear. Goals can be set at any time. For more of Raymond’s inspiring points, check out the rest of her article:

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16796/sick-of-working-out-6-tips-to-motivate-yourself-get-back-in-the-game.html

 

Happy Goal-Setting :)

 

XOXO, Rachel

A New Outlook on Campus Sexual Assault

CASA-Bill-Graphic

Every year the white house turns out a slew of legislature, almost all of which relates to the financial circumstances of our great nation. However, this year marked a change in sexual assault policy on college campuses, an issue that has drawn growing concern. On July 30th, 2014, Washington turned out the Campus Safety and Accountability Act to combat the problem. The act requires that colleges post the general results of anonymous surveys conducted on college campuses around the nation. This allows for any interested individual to access the results online and make comparisons between universities.

How will Washington enforce the rules? All universities who do not follow the rules set forth by the act will risk losing 1% of their funding to run the school. This could potentially be a big deal for large public universities that largely depend on federal funding to operate.   Imagine having to cut resources in the classroom—books, professors, computers, etc.—all because a school refuses to administer a simple survey! This puts education at risk when universities don’t comply. Hopefully schools across the US recognize the value in focusing on the issue of campus violence.

Then there is the obstacle of how to handle reported cases of sexual violence. This new act requires campuses to provide counselors for those who want to report their cases and get help. It is up to an individual whether or not they choose to use the confidential services, but I believe it is a good idea to provide access to such counselors. They would be an outlet for all the students who may worry about being mocked, punished, or overlooked if they share their stories. As an added incentive, the legislation specifically states that no student can be punished for underage drinking if reporting a sexual assault crime. The hope is to create a safe environment where college campuses can combat the issue at hand in the best way possible.

With statistics like 1 in 5 students falling victim to sexual assault, it is clear that action is needed. I am keeping my fingers crossed as this new legislation is put in place, and I am eager to see its effects.

 

XOXO,

Rachel

 

For more information, please visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/31/us/college-sexual-assault-bill-in-senate.html?_r=0

 

P.S. Almost every campus or surrounding town offers assistance for those who would like to report a case. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, don’t hesitate to visit campus services to learn how to best handle taking healthy steps to approach each individual case. Ultimately, the final decision is in the hands of the affected individual. Together we can attempt to lower the occurrence of sexual crimes on college campuses, a topic near and dear to my heart.

Simple and Classic Holiday Treats

Rice crispy treats might qualify as the easiest dessert to ever make an appearance in American cookbooks. With a mere three ingredients—butter, marshmallows, and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal—this recipe is infallible. But with the holidays just around the corner, there seem to be no such things as simple treats. The holidays allow for creative risks in the kitchen, and desserts are no exception. Have no fear if you’re not Sandra Lee or Paula Dean when it comes to baking because creativity does not imply expertise. The simplest of deserts can render a crowd speechless, and minor twists on everyone’s favorites can make all the difference. So gather the family and get to cookin’. I can guarantee that these sweet treats will be the life of the holiday festivities.

 

“Frozen” Snow Ball Fight

Courtesy of Natalie

“Sweet, crunchy and gooey popcorn snowballs are a delicious snack and make great party favors or holiday treats!”

Yield: 12

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INGREDIENTS

  • ½ c. popcorn kernels
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 5 c. mini marshmallows
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. M&Ms
  • sprinkles or peanuts (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place a heavy bottom dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and popcorn and stir the kernels so that they are evenly coated. When the oil becomes hot and sizzles, add the sugar. Shake the pot or pan until the first few kernels pop. Place the lid on top and continue gently shaking back and forth while the remaining kernels pop. Once the popcorn stops, remove from heat and place into a large mixing bowl to cool.
  2. Next, in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and marshmallows. Stir continuously until the marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat and add the salt and vanilla extract.
  3. Pour over the popcorn and coat evenly. Add M&Ms, sprinkles or nuts.
  4. Cover your hands with a light layer butter or coconut oil. Form the popcorn mixture into 3″ balls. Set them on a piece of wax (or parchment) paper to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

 

http://lifemadesimplebakes.com/2014/04/popcorn-snowballs/

 

 

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Courtesy of By Karen=^..^= on October 03, 2005

“I make these often for bake sales and around the holidays. They are so adaptable for any special event and great for all ages.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 2.17.28 PM

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 ounces pretzel sticks (Pretzel RODS)
  • 12 ounces milk chocolate chips (or melting disks)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
  • candy sprinkles (optional)
  • miniature M&M’s chocolate candies (optional)
  • mini Reese’s pieces (optional)
  • chopped peanuts (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Melt milk chocolate chips in double boiler or in microwave (be careful not to burn in the micro).
  2. If you are using the white chocolate, wait until later before melting unless you can keep it over warm water.
  3. Dip each pretzel rod about 2/3 of the way up in chocolate.
  4. Lay on wax paper lined baking sheets, lining up the rods but leave a bit of space between them.
  5. Allow to set a little, but not completely dry (while waiting, make sure your white chocolate is ready).
  6. Dip a fork into the white chocolate and drizzle over the milk chocolate by gently swishing the fork back and forth over the rods but not touching them.
  7. Place your sprinkles or candies on a paper plate and roll each pretzel rod in desired topping (or just sprinkle on).
  8. Lay back on wax paper to set completely.

 

These look great displayed in, or given in, a unique glass or mug.

 

http://www.food.com/recipe/gourmet-chocolate-dipped-pretzel-rods-139694

 

P.S. These are great to customize and make all your own! For example, try swapping M&M’s for Fruity Pebbles or mini marshmallows!

 

Hands Free Apple Pies

Courtesy of by Christy {The Girl Who Ate Everything}

“This Apple Pie Caramel Apple is just like the expensive ones at Disney World. Make your own and save yourself some cash!”

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bag Kraft caramels
  • 4-5 large, tart apples (You can use red apples too but I like the contrast of the tart apple with the caramel)
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips or white chocolate candy melts
  • cinnamon sugar

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash, scrub, and dry apples. This is important or your caramel won’t stick because of the coating stores put on apples.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt caramel according to package directions.
  3. Put popsicle stick in the apple. Dip in melted caramel making sure to fully coat it.
  4. Place on parchment or wax paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
  5. Cool in the fridge until caramel is set up. If you want a thick caramel layer, add another layer of caramel here and let it set up again.
  6. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave in 30-second intervals. You can add a little shortening if the mixture is too thick.
  7. Coat the apple with the chocolate.
  8. Let it set up a little bit before sprinkling it with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  9. Cool completely in the fridge.
  10. Cut into slices and serve.
  11. These can be made up to one day ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator….Or wrap them in cellophane and give them to your friends.

 

http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2009/09/apple-pie-caramel-apple.html

 

Each recipe featured in this article requires very little expertise, yet allows for one’s creativity to shine. Baking these treats is a great way to bring all loved ones together in the kitchen, and they are sure to please all taste buds around the table.

 

XOXO,

Rachel

 

 

 

Store Your Health and Fitness Data in Your Pocket with iOS 8

Emily Wheeler

(This blog was originally written for and posted on UNC Campus Recreation’s health and fitness blog, the Tar Heel Tone Up.)

In this time of omnipresent technology, many health-conscious individuals are using their phones to track measures of fitness and nutrition information as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Apps such as MyFitness Pal and Livestrong have made it routine for some people to track their calorie intake, calorie expenditure, active time per day, and even water intake.

If you have an iPhone and you’re running iOS 8, you’ll notice a new default app has been added to your phone. The app has a white background and a single pink heart and it is simply named “Health.”

When you first open the app, it can seem pretty confusing. There are several empty graphs, with options to chart everything from weight, to blood pressure, blood glucose, and even magnesium. There is a main menu of eight categories of measurements that you can choose from, and you’ll definitely want to limit yourself to choosing a handful of them to display on your dashboard, because displaying them all would be completely overwhelming! Most of the category names are self-explanatory, but the “results” category with a little Erlenmeyer flask icon beside of it is for tracking the results of regular medical tests for individuals who require them often, so you can input your results and avoid saving the paper print-outs each time. Instead, you can see your blood alcohol content or your oxygen saturation in graph form over time.

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For each category you choose, you can select that category and then turn on the switch to “show on dashboard.” This will show you a graph of any data from this category on your main dashboard next time you open the app! An example of a good set of metrics to show might be “weight,” “active calories,” “dietary calories,” “fiber,” “sodium,” and “blood pressure.”

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You can also choose to display certain categories that might be of special interest to you based on your health status, such as “blood glucose,” for diabetics, and “iron” if you are anemic or planning on donating blood anytime soon.

The confusing and slightly inconvenient aspect of the app to many individuals is the fact that you can’t really make the most of the usefulness of this app by inputting data points into the app directly. For example, the app doesn’t track the calories in specific foods you eat or the number of steps you take in a day. Instead, the app is intended to be used in conjunction with other health and fitness apps, which you can set to share their data with the health app to generate your graphs and results automatically.

If you already have and use other fitness apps, linking them to share their data with the health app is simple. All you need to do is launch any of your other health apps, enter the “settings” or “profile” area of that app, and look for the option to “share” information with the Health app. You can also adjust exactly what information from that app will be shared with the health app, such as only calories consumed, or only steps taken per day (which can be configured with the health app if you’re already using FitBit!) The option that says “read” lets you set what information the app of interest can use from what is already in your Health app, and the option that says “write” lets you adjust what information from the app of interest will be shared with the Health app.

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This is the view you’ll see from inside “MyFitness Pal.”

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And this is the view you’ll see from inside the “Sources” tab in the Health app.

If you don’t currently have any other health and fitness apps but would like to try a few in conjunction with the new Health app, here are the three I would suggest starting with:

  1. MyFitness Pal: This is probably, by far, the best dietary tracker app out there. It’s free on the app store and has the nutrition information available for over three million foods, including foods served at specific restaurants and even at Ram’s Head Dining Hall here at UNC. You can also track calorie expenditure with 350 tracking options for cardio and strength training exercises!                             IMG_5199
  2. Withings: This free app features an icon of a person with an overlaid pair of 4-quadrant butterfly wings    meant to symbolize four categories of health (weight, activity, heart health, and sleep) that are monitored in the app. You’ll get supportive messages from the app and the butterfly wings will grow and shrink depending on your health status, reminding you that you might need to get some more sleep or exercise tomorrow!

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Did you know that your phone’s back camera can measure your heart rate? Whaaaat? Now you have to try it, don’t you…?

  1. Cody: This is a free fitness app that encourages you to workout with comments and cheers from other users. The best feature of the app is the collection of exercise instructions with picture, video, and text instruction!

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Perhaps the best feature of the Health app has nothing to do with the graphs and data coming in from other fitness apps. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll notice a tab of the menu in the bottom, right corner that says “Medical ID.” By selecting this tab, you can create a personal medical ID where you can input your name, height, weight, blood type, pre-existing medical conditions, allergies, and all medications you take. You choose what information you want to provide and what you do not. You can also link emergency contacts from your phone’s contact list into the medical ID. This is an extremely valuable feature of the new Health app because it can be accessed from the lock screen under the “emergency” option without requiring your phone password. If you are ever in an emergency situation where you are hurt, unconscious, or otherwise unable to speak to the people or medical professionals trying to help you, first responders are aware of this new feature and will check to see if you have set up your medical ID to give them valuable information quickly when they need it. It also doubles as a way for someone to get in touch with one of your linked contacts if you happen to lose your phone with a passcode set on it, without allowing them to access any of your other information. This is a feature that I would encourage every iOS 8 user to set up; you never know what could happen and it’s definitely best to be prepared!

The present is a time of technology, but it is also a time of poor overall health in the United States. Certainly there are more people who use iPhones everyday than people who get enough physical activity each week, or people who eat enough vegetables on a daily basis. I appreciate the fact that Apple has placed a useful health tool in the hands of millions of Americans, reminding them that “heath” is something that requires attention, monitoring, and effort. Perhaps the health app will encourage more people to be aware of the components of a healthy lifestyle, and might even encourage them to download and link other free apps to help them develop healthy habits and personal awareness of where they can work to improve their health in their own life.

 

The Month in Inspirational (Oprah Winfrey) Quotes

oprah-winfrey-jpgNovember is a time when the leaves begin to turn, and the sun sets before dinner even starts. It is a month when bone-chilling cold fronts swoop in out of nowhere. But most of us think about the holiday season setting in. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, November is a time to relax by the fire and really reflect on the year as it comes to close. I, personally, like to take a quick scroll through all the inspirational quotes I posted on my Pinterest board throughout the year. Groups of quotes about fitness, kindness, job motivation, and friendship show exactly how I was feeling at a certain point during the year. While I am not one to outwardly display my emotions, I am surely one to seek advice via friends, family, or yes, the Internet.

With that being said, I returned to my inspirational quotes Pinterest Board and found quite a few quotes from well-known women. Who’s quotes were the most abundant, you might ask? The great Oprah Winfrey. After watching reruns with my mom growing up (and the live stream of Oprah’s Favorite Things Holiday Special), I really drew inspiration from her show. Unfortunately there is no “Quote of the Day” calendar solely containing Oprah quotes, but I have decided to create one of my own for the month of November. Each represents a time in Oprah’s life; a life filled with struggle, but one that truly sets an example for the world. As a woman, success was not handed to her on a silver platter. We young women are apt to face many challenges in life, and to have a role model whom you can draw inspiration from is quite an advantage. Scribble, highlight, paint, or post your inspiration, as the more you read it, the more likely you are to live by it.

 

Nov:

1st:       Surround yourself with people who are going to take you higher.

2nd:      With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice.

3rd:      Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try it again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.

4th:      Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.

5th:      Your job is to find your flow. This was a huge lesson for me. Everything else is gravy.

6th:      The greatest miracle is to still be alive.

7th:      Happiness is a living thing. You have to feed it.

8th:      I was once afraid of people saying, “Who does she think she is?” Now, I have the courage to stand and say “This is who I am.”

9th:      At the roll call of your life, at the end of your life, what really matters is who did you love and who did you offer love to.

10th:    What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come.

11th:    The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.

12th:    Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.

13th:    I am a woman in process. I’m just trying like everybody else. I try to take every conflict, every experience, and learn from it. Life is never dull.

14th:    This year I am choosing to live beyond my wildest dreams. I wonder where they’ll take me.

15th:    You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.

16th:    We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.

17th:    I have a lot of things to prove to myself. One is that I can live my life fearlessly.

18th:    Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.

19th:    I don’t believe in failure. It is not failure if you enjoyed the process.

20th:    Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.

21st:   You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not get paid for it.

22nd:    What material success does is provide you with the ability to concentrate on other things that really matter. And that is being able to make a difference, not only in your life, but in other people’s lives.

23rd:    Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.

24th:    The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant—and the success will naturally follow.

25th:    I think that whole world would be a better place if everyone loved each other a little more.

26th:    As you become more clear about who you really are, you’ll be better able to decide what is best for you—the first time around.

27th:    If you want to accomplish the goals of your life, you have to begin with the spirit.

28th:    Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.

29th:    I finally realized that being grateful to my body was key to giving more love to myself.

30th:    Do not waste your time with people who have shown you they really mean no good for you.

 

Hopefully one resonates with you as much as each does for me.

XOXO,

Rachel