Healthy Foods That Don’t Suck

healthy wraps

You know that you should eat healthier and deep down you really want to, but the idea of giving up all that tasty stuff in place of food that’s about as appealing as a piece of cardboard makes you go “blech”, right? That may be your problem— thinking that you need to give up all of the food you love. It’s no wonder that so many people find it hard to eat healthy when they automatically associate healthy eating with deprivation. It’s time to change that.

Take it One Food at a Time

Making the switch to healthier eating is easy when you tackle it one food at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all! Your snacks are always a good place to start. Instead of hitting the vending machine or reaching for a fist full of M&M’s for a snack, pack some fruit instead. Research presented at the 2011 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Food Expo showed that American’s are consuming almost 600 calories when they snack, which is the equivalent of eating a full fourth meal every day—a hefty one at that! They also found that a lot of those calories are coming from beverages, so swapping out your pop for water and your mochaccino for a “skinny” version can also make a huge difference.

Eat Healthy, Easy Versions of Your Favorite Foods

The beauty of the internet for those looking to get healthy is the endless amount of recipes for substitutes to your favorite foods. Thankfully there are loads of others out there that love food as much as you do and wanted to find healthier versions of those foods enough to do the legwork and write about it. Take advantage of these do-gooders and what they’re offering and try out recipes that are reasonable facsimiles of your faves but a whole lot healthier. And, make it even easier on yourself but searching for recipes that also contain the words “quick” or “easy” since the easier they are to make, they are more likely that you’ll add them to your repertoire of go-to foods. You can find truly delicious and no-fuss versions of everything from pizza and burgers to the most decadent desserts online.

cooking vegetables frying pan

Change the Way You Cook

You’d be shocked to know just how much extra fat, calories, and even chemicals you take in just by the method you choose for cooking stuff. If you’re using oils and cooking sprays to sauté your foods, then it’s time to try something different, like steaming or roasting. While we do need a certain amount of fat for our bodies to function, you should be getting them from the foods you eat, like nuts and seeds and fatty fishes, like salmon and albacore tuna. Steaming, roasting, and grilling your foods eliminates the need for any kind of oil for cooking. It may not seem like a big deal, but most oils—even the “good ones”—contain well over 100 calories per tablespoon. And if you tend to cook with butter, then it’s not only calories and saturated fat, but high cholesterol you’re taking in too. Skip it entirely or, when it comes to baking, substitute it with applesauce or plain yogurt instead.

Small changes in your diet can have a huge impact on your health and are way easier to start and stick with than a major diet overhaul. Add to that a little effort to eat healthy foods that also taste good and eating healthy will be a breeze.

You can click here to learn more about nutrition and health.

Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.

References

  • Snacking Constitutes 25 Percent of Calories Consumed in U.S. (June 2011). Institute of Food Technologists. Retrieved on March 26, 2014, from http://www.ift.org/newsroom/news-releases/2011/june/20/snacking-constitutes-25-percent-of-calories-consumed-in-us.aspx
  • Nelson, Jennifer K. R.D., L.D., Zeratsky, Katherine R.D., L.D. Tips for healthy eating. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on March 26, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/tips-for-healthy-eating/bgp-20056191
  • Nelson, Jennifer K. R.D., L.D. (June 2012). Which spread is better for my heart — butter or margarine?. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on March 26, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/butter-vs-margarine/faq-20058152

 

Six Simple Ways to Build Your Business via Social Media

Simple Ways to Build Your Business via Social Media

Business owners have a ton of responsibilities and a lot to consider when going about their day-to-day operations. Customer satisfaction is perhaps the most important element of any business; an excellent and responsive attitude can often result in plenty of free, positive publicity and can even turn potential negative reviews into positive ones. One way that businesses have incorporated stellar customer services into their broader ambitions of growing their businesses is through the use of social media.

Social media has given us the ability to reach individuals from all walks of life and from every corner of the globe, which is a god-send for small businesses. The power that social media provides to its users is unprecedented, making it possible to reach large numbers of people and targeted audiences all the same. Whether your business is a multinational conglomerate or a mom and pop store, you have benefits waiting to be realized through social media. Below, we’ll discuss some simple ways you can boost social media exposure and build your business’ reach at the same time.

Update Often

Whenever a small business begins to build its social media presence, it can be frustrating to see virtually no one engaged with your status updates and posts. This shouldn’t get you down, however: social media is a tool and the algorithms of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can be tough on newer users. Content that is both original and consistent tends to gain more exposure, as do updates from accounts that have been active for longer periods of time.

Each time you make a post, you create an opportunity for others to see it. The average Facebook post has a half-life of about five hours, which means that by the end of the day, a single post has often reached the end of its so-called life. If you publish multiple updates each day, you ensure that there is a consistent flow of content coming from your profiles and pages. This creates more opportunities for exposure and ensures that social media networks view your profile as an active, positive contributor to discussion.

Import Contacts

Several social media platforms will allow you to import a list of contacts that you have obtained from other sources, in order to add these people as your friends or to invite them to like your page. This method of social media augmentation is quite effective, as the names and emails of the people you possess have already interacted with your business at one point or another. This can help you boost short-term exposure and generate an additional amount of likes, shares and retweets. In most cases, this only takes a couple of minutes, so there is no excuse not to import existing contacts you may have from mailing lists or calls to action.

social-media

Utilize Multimedia

Countless studies have been conducted on the effects that various forms of content can have on social media performance. While basic text may be enough to convey a message, it has been shown that photos can perform twice as well, while videos can boost exposure up to three-fold. Even if you are a small business that is focused on a local audience, you can easily create or purchase multimedia that can then be targeted to both your existing audiences and local audiences who have yet to engage with your brand. In the age of digital availability, even impressive videos and infographics are quite affordable.

Schedule Updates

As we mentioned above, it is prudent that you include multiple status updates each day on your social media profiles. For some social networks such as Facebook, did you know that you can schedule posts to go out in advance? This feature is an excellent tool that will allow you to publish content at times in which your audience is most active – even if you are not at the computer. In Facebook’s case, you can schedule posts up to six months in advance and set them to go out at any hour of the day. This can help further ensure that you have a steady flow of content coming from social media, which will increase your reach over time.

Offer Promotions

Fewer things can stimulate sharing and discussion like free stuff! Many local and national brands alike have generated vast numbers of new followers for their brands through giveaways, contests and even discounts. In some cases, you’ll be able to snag an email address along the way via a page tab contest or a call to action. When providing something to value to a potential customers, it never is too much to ask for something in return; in exchange for a like or retweet, they can be entered into your contest. This is a win-win, as they have the chance to win a fabulous prize, and you increase the number of followers you enjoy.

photo-advertise-with-us

Advertise

Almost every social media platform these days has some form of paid advertising that you can use to boost your reach with select audiences. Facebook, for instance, utilizes a system that allows you to target by city or ZIP code, age, gender and various interests. You can bid buy the click or per 1,000 impressions, or let Facebook optimize bidding based on what works best. For just a couple of dollars per day, you can put your brand in front of hundreds of local faces who might not otherwise ever see your social media presence. Even larger brands can advertise cost-effectively on social media, so don’t be afraid to test the waters!

Conclusion

Each of the tips outlined above may seem simple, but when combined and adhered to, can make a world of difference. Social media is not something that guarantees you success or access to consumers: you have to work for it! By offering promotions, advertising through paid sources, scheduling your updates to be published at regular intervals, using multimedia, and inviting existing members to connect with your brand, you can address an array of avenues that is bound to increase traffic and promote your business.

What is Bitcoin and Should I Invest in It?

What is Bitcoin?

In early 2009, a man named Satoshi Nakamoto debuted a project that he had been working on for several years. Designed to be an experiment in something that would later become well-known as “cryptocurrency”, this project was named Bitcoin. It was created as a way for individuals to exchange payment in exchange for goods and services without a centralized banking institution, sensitive financial data or third-parties having to be involved.

Over the past five years, this once unheard-of digital currency has become a powerhouse in the world of online commerce, and now enjoys a total market value of around $6 billion. There have been countless success stories of individuals who bought in early and made millions as confidence surrounding the currency continued to grow. Are these opportunties still available to investors, what exactly is Bitcoin and what does the future hold for it? We’ll discuss these concepts below and help you make the best financial decision regarding the currency.

The Basics of Bitcoin

Bitcoin functions as a decentralized, P2P (peer-to-peer) currency. Many people often refer to Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency or simply “crypto”, due to its relatively anonymous and secretive nature. Ecah Bitcoin can exist as a whole unit, but can also be broken down into smaller units, with the smallest one being known as a “satoshi” (0.00000001 BTC; worth around 1/2000000th of a penny at the time of this publication). As the currency grows, this ability to split and combine coins will increasingly come in handy.

Every Bitcoin user has a digital wallet, where coins can be stored on a digital device. Coins can also be stored offline and in “paper wallets”, for retrieval at a later date. Whenever the owner of a Bitcoin wishes to spend his or her funds, he or she simply sends the payment from the Bitcoin wallet (which has one or more unique addresses associated with it) to the address associated with the recipient’s wallet. Within just a couple of hours, the payment is fully available to the new owner and the coins can be spent freely.

Bitcoin Security and Use

Bitcoin is a secure system that allows for easy payment, but with any financial information, your fortune is only as secure as the devices used to access and safeguard it. Nobody can steal your Bitcoins from an offline device, nor can they can be duplicated or hacked. If your Bitcoins are stored on a machine that has been compromised, however, then they can be stolen. Likewise, many people keep funds in online currency exchanges; if these exchanges are compromised, the funds can be stolen.

Despite being digital, Bitcoin functions more like cash than credit: once a payment has been sent, it cannot be reversed (unless the recipient of the payment decides to refund/return the money). This makes Bitcoin an attractive solution for many people, including those who wish to engage in illicit activities and those who want to make a quick buck with virtually no reprecussions.

All in all, though, Bitcoin is a secure and modern method of payment that is growing in popularity by the day.

Success Stories of the Past Five Years

When the first Bitcoin exchange debuted in 2009, the currency could be traded for as little as $0.01. At the time, very few people bought any significant number of coins due to a low amount of demand. Some people, however, saw investment opportunities and grabbed a large number of coins at the time. As of this publication, Bitcoin is currently worth around $500 per coin; for every $1 invested in 2009, an investor would possess $50,000 worth of coins today. Someone who threw cool a cool $500 back then would possess roughly $25,000,000 of the currency today.

bitcoin

A finite number of coins will be produced, or “mined”, via computer software that anyone can utilize. Your graphics processing power is the most commonly-used form of power to generate hashes, which are best compared to purchasing lottery tickets. At regular intervals, a “block” of Bitcoins are mined and one random entity receives them. Those who began mining Bitcoins in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and held onto their coins have made many, many times their initial investment in electricity and hardware.

Investment Potential for the Future

Despite now being in existence for five years, it has only been within the past couple of years that the currency has gained real steam. Both the market value and number of Bitcoin users have exploded, which has led to bouts of volatility and speculation. Many people consider the currency too risky.

There is money to be made in Bitcoin, however, via short-term speculation and possibly through long-term investment. Nobody at the onset expected Bitcoin to be anywhere near what it is worth today, but the exact future of Bitcoin cannot be predicted. A massive collapse could occur tomorrow, or a huge rally could send the coin to new heights.

Bitcoin’s all-time value reached $1,200 in late 2013, and as of March 2014, has since lost more than half of that. While that may sound devastating, similar situations occurred in 2010, 2011 and 2013. In all cases, the cryptocurrency ultimately rebounded and reached new all-time highs.

Investors who want to make a quick buck can invest funds and use one of the many popular exchanges – such as BTC-e or Bitstamp – and attempt to speculate. As with all forms of investment, there are risks, but many people have been able to double their investments in a single day when markets are volatile.

What Should I Do?

What Should I Do?

Bitcoin is a relatively new phenomenon and therefore subject to risks, potential regulation and a variety of other issues. Many people have made tons of money off of the cryptocurrency, while others have had disastrous things occur. Ultimately, it is much like any other type of investment: you win some and lose some. For those who simply want to purchase goods and services without fear of transmitting financial information, Bitcoin is a solid currency that is gaining momentum. Even if people do not universally adopt Bitcoin and it ultimately fails as an individual method of payment, the concept of cryptocurrency is something that is here to stay.

Let’s Sound Off About The Effects Of Music On Your Body

Since the dawn of time, music has played a vital role in the everyday lives of cultures and communities across the globe. While there are plenty of examples of the importance of music and how it has helped shape the course of humanity, an increasing number of people have posed the question, “how does music affect me?”.

With a seemingly endless number of ways to enjoy our tunes – thanks to advancements in technology – you can now enjoy your favorite songs from anywhere and everywhere. What effects, if any, does sound and audio have on our bodies, our minds and our health? We’ll discuss these potential impacts below, so that you can be well-informed about the issue the next time you fire up your MP3 player.

The History of Sound

Various archaeological studies have suggested that music and the art of dance preceded the concept of language itself. This is important to understand; without spoken language, the role of music in societies would have served as an ulterior form of communication. Some of the functions that song and dance served during this time included the ability to introduce each other and convey emotion without the need for spoken language.

In many cultures throughout the world, the concepts of sound and medicine were tightly intertwined. From the Far East to Native American cultures, the sound and body were considered reliant upon one another for thousands of years. It was only in the 1700s that the concept of health and music therapy began to take on different roles: since then, music has been considered a form of entertainment and medicine began to take a more scientific approach. Did some cultures take the wrong path in separating these two concepts, though?

Music’s Reported Effects on the Brain

There is plenty of modern evidence to suggest that music plays an important role in language development and a healthy emotional state.

Oxford University has reported that music can immensely aid those who suffer from motor disorders, making it possible for those with disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome and Parkinson’s can drastically improve their ability to both understand and speak with the aid of song. Music therapy has also been shown to stimulate neural activity in patients with Alzheimer’s, helping these individuals recall past details and associating long-lost memories with the present.

When we examine cultures in the Far East and in Medieval Europe, the notion of frequency in song has also been a long-standing consideration.

Some people may have heard of the Solfeggio frequencies, which correspond with the more commonly-known concept of “do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do”. Buddhist monks have long used these exact frequencies in meditation, while European artisans and musicians believed that the connection between these frequencies and song was of divine origin. One thing is clear: many cultures from around the world have associated powerful connotations with these frequencies without input from or collaboration with one another.

How Does Music Affect My Body?

While the effects of music on brain development and recovery are clear, how does music affect our bodies at-large?

For starters, Harvard University has found that the role of classical music can aid recent victims of heart attacks and surgeries in their recoveries. In addition to this vital benefit, regular sessions with your favorite audio tracks correlate to an increased performance of your immune system, making it a great preventative measure for the common cold and other airborne illnesses.

In addition to these findings, music can help those who suffer from seizures; when Mozart music was played via piano for a trial group of seizure patients, most of them immediately began to suffer from fewer seizures. Forms of music therapy such as this are great, minimally-invasive ways to counter the negative effects that age and disease can have on our bodies.

The Short-term Effects of Music

Music has a tendency to lift our spirits and take us to a different world, and that is perhaps the most valuable short-term effect it provides. Whenever we are feeling down, we can plug in our earphones and enjoy some of our favorite tunes to feel better. The emotional release that music provides can be valuable in plenty of circumstances – those in which we already feel good and those in which we may be a bit down.

The release of endorphins during our favorite music sessions can also increase our motivation to exercise, which obviously can produce beneficial short-term and long-term health outcomes. With a recommended regimen of 30 minutes of exercise per day, music may be the key to fulfilling this oft-ignored mandate. The National Institutes of Health recommends the use of music while exercising to boost performance.

Our short-term memories are also dramatically improved through the use of music. While harsher, more intense forms of music can actually distract us and create false memories in retrospect, classical music and other, more soothing forms of music boost our ability to recall specific details and may even impact our ability to recall these instances over the long-term.

How Does Sound Impact Long-term Health?

Various studies have pointed out that classical music can play an important role in early childhood development, which is why so many people opt to listen to this genre while pregnant or with their newborns.

The effects are even more obvious for those who have learned how to play a musical instrument. One study by Northwestern University reported that those who play a musical instrument for at least four years will enjoy faster response times to speech and sound throughout their entire lives.

What This Means for You

The introduction of music at an early age in life can have a myriad number of positive effects on the human brain and body. Not only will most benefit from a better outlook on life and more enjoyment, but the health-related advantages are also numerous. Those who want to increase their ability to recall details, exercise more, stave off the aging process and be happy in general have a lot to benefit from if they incorporate music into their daily lives. The next time you fire up your MP3 player, remember that there’s a reason you enjoy music: it’s good for you!