Friday 25 April 2014

Salmon Cakes Recipe

                   Salmon Cakes Recipe
  • 1 lb. salmon, skin removed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 1/3rd cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 small shallot, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp. whole fennel seeds, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp. sea salt)
  • 1/8th tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 TBSP dijon mustard
  • Olive oil, for the pan
  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 1/8th cup tarragon vinegar
  • 1 TBSP raspberry vinegar (see notes)
  • 2-3 TBSP honey, to taste
  • 1-2 TBSP dijon mustard, to taste
  • 1/2-3/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Mixed greens
  • Fresh sliced avocado
  • Any other veggies you like
  • I used panko breadcrumbs because they were what I had on hand, but other breadcrumbs would probably work just as well.
1. Poach the salmon: In a shallow skillet or saute pan, bring the water and juice of a lemon to a boil. Once boiling, add your salmon and cover (if your pan doesn’t have a lid, use a sheet of parchment or aluminum foil). Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 6-8 minutes or until the salmon is opaque and flaky all the way through. The time will vary depending on how thick your fish is, so check the doneness by flaking the salmon with a fork. Remove the salmon from the cooking liquid and set aside to cool a little while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, flour, bell pepper, shallot, parsley, chopped fennel seeds, lemon zest, salt, and cayenne.
3. Add the salmon to the bowl and break it apart with a fork. Add the dijon mustard and egg, and stir everything to combine.
4. Form the mixture into patties. Take a handful and squeeze into a ball, then shape it into a disc – the patty should just barely hold together. If the mixture is too flaky to hold together, add another 1/2 TBSP flour. I like to make small patties, about 1/2 cup each, and make two per serving.
5. Heat a skillet over medium-high with 1-2 TBSP olive oil. Seer the patties for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip, and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Serve over mixed greens with slices of avocado and a drizzle of vinaigrette.
6. For the vinaigrette: whisk together all the vinegars, honey, and mustard. While whisking, drizzle in the olive oil. Stir or shake before serving.
Uncooked patties can be wrapped individually in plastic, sealed in a zip-top bag, and frozen for up a a few months. To cook, thaw in the fridge the night before, or unwrap and thaw in the microwave at 50% power for 1-2 minutes, then cook as directed. I will definitely be making a double batch of these next time, and storing them for quick week-night meals!
The vinaigrette can be kept in a jar or other airtight container in the fridge for up a few weeks, and should be shaken well before each use. It’s perfect for these salmon cakes, but is delicious on its own with any salad!

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness

                   Breast Cancer Awareness

Cancer these days has brightened in the society. Every one of us knows about someone suffering from breast cancer. Now days, there is a lot of information available on breast cancer. Prevention is better than cure. Know proper and detailed information about cancer Best ways to reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer for women’s health.
Are there any ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer?
There are lots of ways to reduce the risk of breast cancer except in hereditary case. Everything lies in your hand whether it’s good or bad. Choose right ways in right time.
Here are some ways Age & weight:
As age increases, chances of getting cancer increases gradually. Especially after menopause stage in 50s chances are very high. By controlling your weight you can reduce the chance of breast cancer up to 5 %.
Avoid smoking & alcohol:
Researches have proved that the woman who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol have higher chances of getting breast cancer when compared to women who won’t drink and smoke at all.
Breastfeed & avoid contraceptive pills:
Breastfeeding for at least 6 months to 1 year lowers the risk of cancer. At the same time, it is good to have children before 35 years. Don’t use contraceptive pills they will increase the chances of getting cancer.
Healthy life style:
Practise yoga & small fitness exercises regularly. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed meat. Drink green tea and water .Vitamin D is essential for woman to reduce the cancer risk. Healthy life style lowers the risk of breast cancer.
Know your family history:
It is very important to know whether any one from your ancestors has suffered from cancer disease or not. If they have suffered from it you have to take every test which is indicated by doctor. Perform monthly breast self exams which reduces the risk.

Read More:
The Five Steps of a Breast Self-Exam
Step 1: Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror with your shoulders straight and your arms on your hips.
Here's what you should look for:
  • Breasts that are their usual size, shape, and colour.
  • Breasts that are evenly shaped without visible distortion or swelling.
If you see any of the following changes, bring them to your doctor's attention:
  • Dimpling, puckering, or bulging of the skin
  • A nipple that has changed position or an inverted nipple (pushed inward instead of sticking out)
  • Redness, soreness, rash, or swelling
Step 2: Now, raise your arms and look for the same changes.
Step 3: While you're at the mirror, look for any signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples (this could be a watery, milky, or yellow fluid or blood).
Step 4: Next, feel your breasts while lying down, using your right hand to feel your left breast and then your left hand to feel your right breast. Use a firm, smooth touch with the first few finger pads of your hand, keeping the fingers flat and together. Use a circular motion, about the size of a quarter. Cover the entire breast from top to bottom, side to side — from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen, and from your armpit to your cleavage.
Follow a pattern to be sure that you cover the whole breast. You can begin at the nipple, moving in larger and larger circles until you reach the outer edge of the breast. You can also move your fingers up and down vertically, in rows, as if you were mowing a lawn. This up-and-down approach seems to work best for most women. Be sure to feel all the tissue from the front to the back of your breasts: for the skin and tissue just beneath, use light pressure; use medium pressure for tissue in the middle of your breasts; use firm pressure for the deep tissue in the back. When you've reached the deep tissue, you should be able to feel down to your ribcage.
Step 5: Finally, feel your breasts while you are standing or sitting. Many women find that the easiest way to feel their breasts is when their skin is wet and slippery, so they like to do this step in the shower. Cover your entire breast, using the same hand movements described in step 4.

Monday 21 April 2014

Veggie Twist Oats Deviled Eggs, Straight Up Deviled Eggs & Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs Recipes

Veggie Twist Oats Deviled Eggs, Straight Up Deviled Eggs & Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs Recipes

Veggie Twist Oats Deviled Eggs
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bowl hung yogurt
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 packet of Saffola Veggie Twist Oats
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 3 boiled eggs
  1. Roast the cumin seeds in a pan for 3 minutes.
  2. Remove it from the pan and crush the cumin seeds.
  3. Take a bowl of hung yogurt and add the crushed cumin seeds in it.
  4. Then add some mint leaves, garlic and salt to taste. Mix it and keep it aside.
  5. Heat water in another pan.
  6. Add Saffola Veggie Twist Oats and chopped carrots in it and cook it for 3 minutes.
  7. Then take three boiled eggs and cut each egg into two pieces.
  8. Remove the egg yolk and fill in the ready saffola masala oats in it.
Straight Up Deviled Eggs

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, or yogurt as a healthy alternative
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons bacon bits or crumbled bacon, for garnish, optional
  1. Put the eggs in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain the water from the pot and fill with cold water to cool the eggs. Change the water twice so that the eggs will cool down quickly.
  2. Peel the eggs and slice a small piece off the bottoms so that they will stand upright. Slice the top third off of each and save the tops. Carefully remove the eggs yolks with a small spoon and put them in a medium-size bowl. Break up the egg yolks with a potato masher. Add all the remaining ingredients except the bacon and chives. Mix until well blended and smooth.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a releasable bag, cut off the corner of the bag and pipe the filling into each egg. Sprinkle each with chopped chives and bacon bits, if desired. Cover with the egg tops and arrange them on a serving platter.
Read More:

Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs

  • 8 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons good mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for garnish
  • 4 ounces good smoked salmon, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces salmon roe
  1. Place the eggs in a pot large enough to hold them in a single layer. Cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a full boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the eggs stand for 15 minutes. Drain the eggs and fill the pot with cold water. Set aside until the eggs are cool.
  2. Peel the eggs and then slice them in half lengthwise. Remove the yolks carefully. Place the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and arrange the whites on a platter in a single layer with the cut sides up and sprinkle with salt.
  3. To the egg yolks, add the sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, salmon, salt, and pepper. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. With a small spoon, fill the egg whites with the egg yolk mixture. Cover loosely with plastic wrap (you don't want to flatten the filling) and refrigerate for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend.
  4. When ready to serve, garnish with a dollop of salmon roe and some extra chopped chives. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Monday 14 April 2014

Peanut Butter, Almond Butter and Coconut Butter

Ever since I discovered it’s so easy to make your own nut butters, I haven’t bought a jar in the store anymore. I love the fact that I know exactly what went into it and the variety of nuts and add-ins I can use. One of my absolute favorites is this peanut butter with chocolate chips. Simple and straight forward, but so incredibly delicious and decadent at the same time. The chocolate chips add a nice crunch and an intense chocolate flavor to the creamy peanut butter.

One thing to remember is that you want to add the chocolate chips when the peanut butter has cooled down a little (grinding the nuts will heat them), otherwise you’ll end up with a mixed chocolate peanut butter straight away.
I’ve tried this nut butter with almonds too and that combination is something I can also really recommend!
You can store the nut butter in the fridge (it will become a bit more firm), but it isn’t really necessary. You may have to stir a little if the oil separates from the nuts. I guess there’s often no reason to though, because this nut butter will be gone before you know it!
  • 15 oz (425 gr) unsalted roasted peanuts (shelled and skinned)
  • A little salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (use more or less to taste)
1. Grind peanuts with a little salt in a food processor until smooth and creamy. This will take about 4-8 minutes, depending on the power of your processor. You may need to scrape down the sides of the canister in between. Add a tiny bit of oil if the mixture won’t become smooth, but usually this isn’t necessary.
2. Let cool. Once cool, add chocolate chips and stir well.

Read More:

This Homemade Almond Butter is SO easy, and you don’t need any special equipment. I have a pretty crummy food processor and that is what I made it in and it turned out great.
  • 1.5 Cups of Raw Almonds
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Oil ( if needed)
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Place almonds on a lined cookie sheet and baked for 2- 3 minutes 3. Place almonds into the food processor ( only use blender if you do not have a food processor)
4. Process for about 10 minutes — it takes a while.
5. If it is a little dry add a little oil
6. Enjoy
7. It makes about 3\4th cup

21 ounces (600 grams) unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes

1. Fill the food processor at least halfway with coconut flakes (~ 2 cups in my case).
2. Process until creamy like the pictures, stopping it every few minutes to scrape down the sides and letting it cool a little if it feels too warm. Don't kill your food processor!
3. Place in a jar and store at room temperature.

Wednesday 9 April 2014

Vegetable Pies & Tamale Shepherd’s Pie

Mexican is quickly becoming one of our favorite styles for cooking. Somehow various combinations of beans, tomatoes, peppers, and cheese never seem to get old! I’ve recently upped our game and started trying to cook dried beans. While it requires a little advanced planning (the gene for which I naturally lack), I found the sacrifice is worth the taste!
I loved these tamale pies as a new way to experience Latin flavors outside of a quesadilla. They might be one of my favorite Mexican inspired recipes I’ve made yet, especially since they comes in their own personal dish! .This recipe is very easy to throw together if you use prepared polenta and canned beans, but it’s just as fun to make your own from “scratch” – and tastes better too! (If you’re Indy-based, check out this local source for cornmeal and dried beans.) It’s a great option for dinner guests that’s impressive, but not too labor intensive.
  • 6 au gratin or small oven proof dishes (or one 9 x 9 baking dish)
  • 1 cup cornmeal for polenta (or prepared polenta, about two 18 ounce tubes)
  • 3 cups pinto beans, cooked (or canned)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend (or a mix of Monterrey jack and cheddar)
  • Sour cream to serve
  1. Make the polenta. When it is done, spread a layer evenly in the bottom of each dish.
  2. For a firm polenta as the base layer, prepare the polenta in advance and refrigerate for 1 hour or more prior to baking.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Chop the cilantro. Drain the can of diced tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups salsa to remove excess liquid. If using canned beans, drain and rinse the beans.
  5. In large bowl, coarsely mash the beans with a fork. Add 1 cup corn, tomatoes, salsa, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup cilantro. Mix to combine.
  6. Spoon the bean mixture on top of the polenta. Top each dish with cheese and remaining cilantro.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes until heated through. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Top with sour cream to serve.
Read More:
A creamy layer of lime-kissed mashed red potatoes over a succulent and spicy stew of black beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, poblano peppers and corn, with a few of the usual southwestern flavors thrown in. To give it true tamale flavor, a few handfuls of crumbled up tortilla chips tossed into the stew do the trick. It’s the perfect meal for these rainy months at the beginning of Spring. I love how the red potatoes look on top, adding flecks of pretty blush. It makes a ton, too, and leftovers taste just as good.

For the mashed potato layer:
  • 2 1/2 lbs unpeeled red potatoes, cut into big chunks (1 1/2 inches or so)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 scant teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra)
  • 1 onion, diced medium
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded, diced medium
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, cut in half and sliced 1/4 inch thick or so
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/4 lbs plum tomatoes (about 6), chopped
  • 1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 ounces tortilla chips (about 4 good-sized handfuls)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Frank’s red hot hot sauce (plus extra for serving)
  • 3 cups cooked black beans (2 15 oz cans rinsed and drained)
  1. Place potatoes in a pot and submerge in salted water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
  2. Drain potatoes and immediately transfer them back into the pot. It’s important to do this while everything is still hot. Give them a quick preliminary mash, then add the milk, olive oil, lime zest and salt. Mash until creamy, taste for salt, then cover and set aside. (Note: I usually add black pepper, but decided not to here so that the lime really shines through. If you feel naked without it, though, go ahead and add some.)
  3. To prepare the stew:
  4. Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion and pepper in olive oil and a pinch of salt, until peppers are softened, about 10 minutes. In the meantime prep all your other ingredients.
  5. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Add mushrooms and cilantro and cook until the mushrooms have released a lot of moisture, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, wine, salt, cumin and red pepper flakes. Turn heat up and cover the pan, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes. The tomatoes should break down and become saucy (if corn was frozen it may take a bit longer.)
  6. Now take the tortilla chips and crush them into fine crumbs with your hands. It’s ok if there are a few bigger pieces, but aim for crumbs. Add them to the stew and mix well. Since tortillas can be salty, wait until they’re added to taste for salt. Mix in the lime juice and hot sauce, then fold in the black beans and heat through. Now taste for salt and seasonings.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a deep 11×13 casserole (cooking spray works just fine). Transfer the stew to the casserole and even it out with a spatula. Add the potatoes in dollops, and spread it into an even layer.
  2. Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until potatoes are lightly browned. Stick under the broiler for a minute or two just in case the browning isn’t happening. Serve hot garnished with cilantro, chili peppers and lime.

Tuesday 8 April 2014

Marzipan Swirl Ice Cream

                 Marzipan Swirl Ice Cream

This ice cream is surprisingly simple: a rich, almond-flavored custard base, swirled with a soft ribbon of marzipan (or almond paste, to be precise). It may not look extraordinary, but believe me, it is. There really aren’t enough almond ice creams in the world. And by almond I’m not talking about bits of nuts in a bland base. I’m talking about the essence of almond, about intensely marzipan flavored ice cream. I’m something of a marzipan freak. I’d eat it three meals a day if I could. Something about the flavor, the sweet scent of bitter almond, it’s intoxicating.
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 6 ounces almond paste, broken into chunks
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
Read More:

1. Pour 1 cup of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set on ice over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside.
2. Warm the milk, sugar, remaining 1 cup of the cream, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until it just starts to steam.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly spoon 1/3 of the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, a small scoop at a time, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm milk, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan and whisk to incorporate with the rest of the milk mixture.
4. Stir over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the spatula, about 5-7 minutes, or until mixture measures 170ºF. Pour the custard through the strainer, discarding any solids. Stir in almond extract. When mixture is cool, cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least 3-4 hours, overnight is better).
5. To prepare marzipan swirl, combine almond paste and heavy cream in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring until paste has melted and combined with the cream in a smooth mixture. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
6. Freeze chilled custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions until it is the consistency of soft serve. Quickly transfer to a freezer-safe container, alternating dollops of ice cream with generous drizzles of almond paste mixture (by layering the two you'll acheive a nice swirled effect without accidentally stirring one completely into the other). Cover with a layer of plastic wrap or parchment paper touching the surface of the ice cream. Freeze until completely firm.

Monday 7 April 2014

Best Ever Pizza Sauces

Best Ever Pizza Sauce
Rosemary red wine marinara sauce


• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons diced shallot
• 2 teaspoons minced garlic
• 1 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 1/2 cup red wine [I used a Cabernet Sauvignon]
• 28oz whole peeled tomatoes, drain 1/2 cup
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1-2 teaspoons sucanat [or pure cane sugar]
• salt + pepper to taste
• Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
• Once hot, add the shallot and cook for about 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Stir frequently.
• Add the garlic and rosemary and stir for 30 seconds.
• Slowly pour in the wine and increase the heat slightly.
• Let simmer for about 5 minutes until the liquid is reduced by about half.
• Slowly pour in the tomatoes [less 1/2 cup liquid] and tomato paste and stir until well combined.
• Break apart the tomatoes by mashing them with a large wooden spoon, or a potato masher.
• Add in 1 teaspoon of sucanat and salt + pepper. I used about 1/2 teaspoon each of s+p.
• Bring to a boil uncovered and then reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
• Using an immersion blender, blend slightly in the pot to break up the tomatoes a bit more. If you want a smoother consistency, blend longer.
• Let simmer for another 10-15 minutes until thickened. Stir occasionally.
• Taste and add more salt/pepper/sucanat if desired. The flavors will develop more as it sits.
• Take off the heat when desired consistency is reached.
• Let cool to room temperature, then place in jars and refrigerate for about 1 week.

Read More:
     Roasted Tomato Marinara Sauce with Garlic and Oregano

• 10 pounds (4.5 kilos) fresh, organic tomatoes
• 16 whole, peeled, large, plump organic garlic cloves
• ½ cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
• ½ cup dry red wine (120 ml) (or use chicken or vegetable broth)
• 6 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
• 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt
• 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Tools: large roasting pans and a food processor
• Pre-heat the oven (s) to 425 degrees (218C). Get out two large roasting pans. I use a big stainless steel All Clad (like for roasting a turkey). If you don’t have roasting pans, use large heavy (or doubled) disposable aluminium pans.
• Wash the tomatoes. Depending on the type of tomato, you may need to cut out the core first, as with large Beefsteak or Heirloom varieties. Then, cut tomatoes into large chunks. Don’t cut the pieces too small. Big chunks are good. The smaller the pieces are the faster they will roast.
• Place tomatoes in the roasting pan; add garlic cloves, oil, wine or broth, oregano, onion, salt and pepper. Toss with your hands.
• Place pans in the oven (s) and roast until tomatoes have reduced and are starting to get a few black edges. The pan should still have some juices, not be dry. Depending on your oven it should take 45-60 minutes. Stir half way through. If the tomatoes are really juicy, it may take longer.
• Remove pan from oven, set on the stove top and allow to cool a few minutes until you can handle it. Carefully transfer the roast tomatoes into a food processor with a steel blade and pulse 5-6 times. You can also use an immersion blender (stick blender) in a deep pot or bowl to minimise splattering.
The sauce it ready to serve, or cool completely to refrigerate, freeze or process for canning.

Saturday 5 April 2014

Meditation: The Art Of Attention

There are different ways to meditate, and since it’s such a personal practice there are probably more than any of us know about. There are couples that are usually focused on heavily in scientific research, though. These are focused-attention, or mindful meditation, which is where you focus on one specific thing—it could be your breathing, a sensation in your body or a particular object outside of you. The point of this type of meditation is to focus strongly on one point and continually bring your attention back to that focal point when it wanders. The other type of meditation that’s often used in research is open-monitoring meditation. This is where you pay attention to all of the things happening around you—you simply notice everything without reacting.
How Meditation Affects You
Now that we know what’s going on inside our brains, let’s take a look at the research into the ways it affects our health.
Because meditation is a practice in focusing our attention and being aware of when it drifts, this actually improves our focus when we’re not meditating, as well. It’s a lasting effect that comes from regular bouts of meditation.
As a writer, this is one thing I’m always interested in. Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest thing to study, but there is some research into how meditation can affect our creativity.
Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands studied both focused-attention and open-monitoring mediation to see if there was any improvement in creativity afterwards. They found that people who practiced focused-attention meditation did not show any obvious signs of improvement in the creativity task following their meditation. For those who did open-monitoring meditation, however, they performed better on a task that asked them to come up with new ideas.
One of the things meditation has been linked to is improving rapid memory recall. Catherine, a researcher at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and the Osher Research Center found that people who practiced mindful meditation were able to adjust the brain wave that screens out distractions and increase their productivity more quickly that those that did not meditate. She said that this ability to ignore distractions could explain “their superior ability to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts.” This seems to be very similar to the power of being exposed to new situations that will also dramatically improve our memory of things.

Read More:
Mindful meditation has been shown to help people perform under pressure while feeling less stressed. A 2012 study split a group of human resources managers into three, which one third participating in mindful meditation training, another third taking body relaxation training and the last third given no training at all. A stressful multitasking test was given to all the managers before and after the eight-week experiment. In the final test, the group that had participated in the meditation training reported less stress during the test than both of the other groups.
Research on meditation has shown that empathy and compassion are higher in those who practice meditation regularly. One experiment showed participants images of other people that were good, bad or neutral in what they called “compassion meditation.” The participants were able to focus their attention and reduce their emotional reactions to these images, even when they weren’t in a meditative state. They also experienced more compassion for others when shown disturbing images.
Part of this comes from activity in the amygdale—the part of the brain that processes emotional stimuli. During meditation, this part of the brain normally shows decreased activity, but in this experiment it was exceptionally responsive when participants were shown images of people.
Another study in 2008 found that people who meditated regularly had stronger activation levels in their temporal parietal junctures (a part of the brain tied to empathy) when they heard the sounds of people suffering, than those who didn’t meditate.
This point is pretty technical, but it’s really interesting. The more we meditate, the less anxiety we have, and it turns out this is because we're actually loosening the connections of particular neural pathways. This sounds bad, but it’s not.
What happens without meditation is that there’s a section of our brains that’s sometimes called the Me Center (it’s technically the medial prefrontal cortex). This is the part that processes information relating to ourselves and our experiences. Normally the neural pathways from the bodily sensation and fear centers of the brain to the Me Center are really strong. When you experience a scary or upsetting sensation, it triggers a strong reaction in your Me Center, making you feel scared and under attack.
When we meditate, we weaken this neural connection. This means that we don’t react as strongly to sensations that might have once lit up our Me Centers. As we weaken this connection, we simultaneously strengthen the connection between what’s known as our Assessment Center (the part of our brains known for reasoning) and our bodily sensation and fear centers. So when we experience scary or upsetting sensations, we can more easily look at them rationally.

Friday 4 April 2014

Microwave Snacks You Can Cook In A Mug

Blueberry Flax Microwave Muffin
Made in a coffee cup or shallow bowl, these babies are delicious, nutritious, and so fast you will be amazed. Enjoy!

  1. 1 ounce frozen blueberries
  2. 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  3. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  4. 2 Tbsp sugar-free pancake syrup
  5. 1/2 tsp orange zest
  6. 1 egg white
  7. 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix dry ingredients together thoroughly (I use a large measuring cup and just add other ingredients to the flax once I have measured it) and then add egg, syrup & zest. Pour into over sized coffee cup that you have sprayed (I use organic coconut oil spray) and put in microwave for 90 seconds. This will make a tall muffin. If you prefer a flatter muffin (more like a muffin top) use a small, shallow cereal bowl. Top with a little more sugar free pancake syrup if desired, and butter if you can spare the calories. For a really decadent version put a tablespoon of melted butter into the batter before cooking.
Coffee Cup Coffeecake
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened, divided
  • 1 pinch plus 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 pinch salt, optional
  • 1/2 egg (from 1 egg lightly beaten and divided)
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Vanilla extract (a few drops)
  • 1/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon apricot or other preserves
1. To make the topping, combine 2 tablespoons brown sugar, all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon butter, a pinch of cinnamon and salt in a small bowl; mix together with your fingers. Pinch together until crumbs form.
2. To make the batter, mix the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar together in a large measuring cup until creamy; add egg, sour cream, syrup and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Add self-rising flour and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; beat until smooth.
3. Pour half of the batter into a buttered 12-ounce microwavable coffee cup, drop preserves into the centre, then top with remaining batter. Sprinkle with crumb topping. 4. Microwave on high until done, about 1 minute 15 seconds.

Read More:
Coffee Cup Chilaquiles
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sharp cheddar cheese
  • 5 tortilla chips, divided
  • 1 tablespoon salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Queso fresco
  • Chopped green onion
1. Beat egg and milk with a fork in a coffee cup, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add cheddar; stir to coat. Break 3 or 4 tortilla chips into small pieces to fit in the cup; stir into the mixture. Add salsa.
2. Microwave on high until done, about 1 minute, 10 seconds. Garnish with remaining tortilla chips, sour cream, queso fresco and green onion.
  • 4 tablespoons self-rising flour
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons Nutella
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Whipped Cream Topping(IF DESIRED)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
1. Combine all ingredients in a large coffee mug.
2. Whisk well with a fork until smooth.
3. Microwave on high for 1½– 3 minutes. (Time depends on microwave; mine took 1½ minutes.)
4. Add heavy cream to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on medium-high speed until almost stiff.
5. Add sugar and beat until heavy cream forms stiff peaks.
6. Top Mug Cakes with whipped cream and a little chocolate sauce, if desired.

Thursday 3 April 2014

Red Velvet Cupcakes In A Jar

It’s adapted from the New York Times, and in my opinion, is one of the best Red Velvet recipes out there. Instead of making a traditional cake or cupcakes, I thought I’d jazz up this sweet treat by layering slices of cupcake with cream cheese frosting in my favorite Weck Tulip Jars. Finishing them off with a sprinkling of pink and red heart-shaped candies gave them a swoon-worthy finish. Whether you’re baking for 8-year olds or your sweetheart, I’m fairly certain that just about anyone will fall head over heels for Red Velvet Cupcakes in a Jar.
For the Cupcakes
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar (about 3 ¾ cups), sifted
  • 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 cupcake wells with paper liners or spray pan with spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Sift together cake flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine oil and sugar until well-blended. Add egg and mix until combined.
4. Turn your mixer down to the lowest speed and add vanilla, then slowly add in the food coloring. Note: If you are using liquid food coloring, it will take about 2 tablespoons of coloring to get a dark red shade. I used about 1 tablespoon of gel dye to achieve the shade in the photographs. Add the dye slowly and color according to your preference.
5. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches; scrape down the side of the bowl. Continue mixing until just combined, taking care not to over mix.
6. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with the machine running. Beat for about 10 seconds.
7. Using a medium scoop (about 3 tablespoons), divide batter between the 12 wells, filling each well about 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake.

1. In a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese and butter until well combined.
2. With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar until thoroughly incorporated and smooth. Add vanilla and mix to combine.
To Assemble in Jars
1. Slice cupcakes horizontally to create layers. Each cupcake will yield 2-3 layers depending on how thick you want your layers to be.
2. Place one cupcake layer into the bottom of your jar, pipe a layer of cream cheese frosting directly onto the cake layer. Repeat the layering process until you reach the top of your jar. If desired, garnish with festive sprinkles or red velvet cake crumbs.

Moves For Thinner Thighs

Do you want skinny thighs? Are you feeling like your lifestyle needs a bit of a makeover and some new inspiration? Skinny thighs don't just magically appear, but with some work, they are definitely doable. You'll need to deploy the right combination of diet and exercise, and if you're consistent, you'll see results.

Inner Thigh Lifts: Lay down on your left side with your head propped up in your hands. Put your left leg out in front of your right and lift it straight up and down as much as you can while maintaining a straight leg. You don’t need a big movement to feel this one. You can make it more difficult by holding a body bar across the working leg or putting an ankle weight on it.
Suitcase Pick-Ups: As you can probably guess by the name, suitcase pick-ups mimic the movement you would use as if you were bending down to pick up your luggage. Place a dumbbell of the same weight on the outside of your toes. Now squat down, keeping your upper body tall, and pick up the dumbbells by their handles and stand straight up. Now go back down the same way and put the dumbbells back down on the floor and stand up. Do a set of 12-15 of these before taking a break. Obviously, the heavier your dumbbells are, the more challenging this exercise will be for your thighs. You can substitute with kettlebells if you don’t have dumbbells available.
Plié Squats: Unlike regular squats, plié squats put a greater emphasis on your inner thighs. Stand with your feet wide and toes pointing out on a 45-degree angle. Keep your upper body tall, your abs tight and bend your knees slowly as you lower your body into a squat position. Hold it for a few seconds and then push yourself back up. You can even go to your toes as you lower down into the squat and hold it in that position. This really puts the thighs to work.

Read More:
Tip Toe Squats: Yes, you can squat on your toes. This move is an offshoot of a yoga pose that really puts a lot of tension on your thighs. Begin in chair pose with your legs together (so they are touching), your abs engaged and your chest tall. While keeping those legs pressing together, come up to your toes and stay there. From this position, lower a few inches like a squat and then come back to your starting position. Again, add some intensity by holding the squat at the bottom for a few seconds. Remember to squeeze your legs together during the movement and especially during the hold at the bottom. You’ll feel this one…trust us.
Static Lunges with Dumbbells: You may already be doing walking lunges, but static lunges really fry those thighs big time—especially if you’re holding a heavy pair of dumbbells. Take one big step forward with your right leg and keep it there. Now drop your back knee to the floor nice and easy and then straighten it as you come back up. Do at least 10-12 reps on this side before switching legs.
Weighted Leg Circles: Taking a cue from Pilates, leg circles are a great way to sculpt lean, sexy legs. Lie down and extend one leg all the way so it’s perpendicular to the floor and point your toes. Your other leg should be straight and on the floor. Form circular movements with the raised leg as if you had a crayon on the bottom of your foot and were drawing perfect circles. Do this a few times in each direction.
Weighted Wall Squats with Stability Ball: Regular squats sometimes become less effective when you’re not going low enough or you begin to move your body forward. But when you place a ball behind you and lean it up against the wall, you have no choice but to keep your upper body straight and the weight in your heels as you slowly lower down into your squat and come back up. Make it even more challenging by holding it at the bottom for as long as you can. Can’t you just feel your legs quivering already?!

Core Exercises To Help Flatten Your Abs

Everyone wants flatter abs, and a lot of people try to “spot reduce” by doing ab exercises to try to get them. The problem is, you aren’t going to lose fat from your midsection by doing 1,000 crunches. It’s just not going to happen. What I like to do instead is Core Exercises. You see, you need to achieve overall fat loss before you will see the results you want around your abs. In order to do this, you need more complete workouts. By doing core exercises, you will find that you are working more than just your abs, which are very small muscles compared to most others in your body. By working larger muscles, and muscle groups, you are far more likely to see the fat loss results you are aiming for.

1. Core exercises improve your balance and stability
2. Core exercises don’t require specialized bulky equipment
3. Core exercises can help tone your abs
4. Stronger core muscles make it easier to do almost all other physical activities
5. Core exercises can be done at your own pace
6. Core exercises can be done from the comfort of your own home
7. Core exercises can help you reach plenty of your other fitness goals
Now it’s time for the workout. Perform the following as a giant set. A giant set means you go from one exercise to the next with no rest between exercises. After the last exercise (double crunch), rest 1-2 minutes and repeat. Perform 3 total giant sets for as many reps as possible on each exercise. Breathe freely and deeply during each exercise. Focus on tightening your deepest abdominal muscle — the trans versus abdomens — during each exercise. This is the muscle you feel contracting when you cough.
Start – From a seated position on the ball, walk your feet out until the ball is fully supporting your mid to lower back region. Cross your arms over your chest or place your finger tips lightly on the sides of your head.
Movement – Contracting the abdominal, raise your upper body about half way up until you feel a full contraction. Slowly return to the starting position.
Key points – Exhale while raising your body. Inhale while returning to the starting position. Be sure to keep your head and neck relaxed.
Caution – The ball should not roll forward and back – it should remain stationary. For added support spread your feet wide the first time you try the exercise.
This exercise is for the lower abdominal region and is very challenging. Place all your focus on the lower abdominal area contracting. It may be difficult to initially concentrate on the area, but once you master the movement with the correct mental concentration, you’ll really feel the area being worked
Start - Begin on your back on a mat with your back relaxed and your hands on the floor by your hips. Raise your legs into the air and focus on keeping your upper back pressed into the floor throughout the exercise.
Movement – Contracting your abs, raise your butt and gently roll your hips off the floor, stopping when you feel a full contraction of your abdominal and can no longer lift your hips. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Key points – Exhale while lifting your hips. Inhale while returning to the starting position.
Caution – Do not swing your legs.

Read More:

Research consistently rates the Bicycle Maneuver as one of the most effective abdominal exercises.
Start – Lie on your back on a mat keeping your lower back in a comfortable position. Place your finger tips lightly on the sides of your head and lift your knees up to about a 45 degree angle.
Movement - Slowly go through a bicycle pedalling motion alternating your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee.
Key points – Your legs and shoulders should remain elevated from the floor during this exercise and the lower to the ground that your legs bicycle the harder your abs have to work.
Caution – Do not pull on your head and neck during this exercise. Do not perform this activity if it puts any strain on your lower back.
I like the double crunch exercise because if performed correctly, you can isolate the lower and upper region of the abdominal. Please note, contrary to popular belief, we do not have separate upper and lower abs.
Start – Lie on the floor face up. Bend your knees until your legs are at a 45 degree angle with both feet on the floor. Your back should be comfortably relaxed on the floor. Place your finger tips lightly on the sides of your head or have your hands crossed over your chest.
Movement - Contracting your abdominal, raise your head and legs off the floor toward one another. Slowly return to the starting position stopping just short of your shoulders and feet touching the floor.
Key points – Exhale while rising up. Inhale while returning to the starting position. Caution – Keep your eyes on the ceiling to avoid pulling with your neck. Your hands should not be used to lift the head or assist in the movement.

Wednesday 2 April 2014

Dips Recipes Easy To Make At Home

Seven-Layer Dips
The great thing about seven layer dip is that you can adjust it to your personal tastes. Now, you could make these in glass tumblers too, but we are pretty casual over here so plastic tumblers are the way we roll. These would be great for watching a football game or for a New Year’s party.
• 1 (16 ounce) can refried beans
• 1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning
• 1 cup guacamole or make homemade guacamole
• 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
• 1 cup chunky salsa or pico de gallo; or make homemade pico de gallo
• 1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
• 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
• 1/2 bunch of green onions, sliced
• 1 (2.25 ounce) can of sliced olives, drained
• 8 (9 ounce) plastic tumblers
• tortilla chips
• In a small bowl mix taco seasoning with refried beans. Some people prefer to mix their taco seasoning with the sour cream layer but I wanted a bright white layer so I did it with the beans.
• Here's how the layers are assembled:
• Layer 1: beans and taco seasoning; Layer 2: sour cream; Layer 3: guacamole; Layer 4: salsa or pico de gallo; Layer 5: cheese; Layer 6: tomatoes; Layer 7: green onions and olives
• In each plastic glass, layer about 2 Tablespoons of the beans, followed by 2 Tablespoons of sour cream, 2 Tablespoons of guacamole, 2 Tablespoons of salsa or pico de gallo, and 2 Tablespoons of cheese. Make sure you drain your salsa or pico to get the excess liquid out before you pour it on. Then top with about 1-2 teaspoons of tomatoes, olives, and green onion (If making ahead of time, wait to add these toppings until shortly before serving).
• Garnish with one tortilla chip. Store in the refrigerator until serving and serve with chips. Makes around 8 individual dips.

Read More:

• 1 16 oz sour cream
• 1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
• 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
• 1/2 cup chopped green onions or chives
• Combine all the ingredients (saving a little of the cheese, green onions and crumbled bacon for garnishing the top) and put in the refrigerator to let the flavors blend together. This can be prepared a few days earlier than needed and garnished when you’re ready to serve it. By putting bacon, green onions and cheese on top, you are giving everyone a heads up on what’s inside.
This dip is tied with our buffalo chicken dip for the most frequently made dip in our house. Why?
1)It only has 2 ingredients: chili and cream cheese. So easy.
2) It’s delicious. I mean the effort to taste ratio is HUGE.
  •  1 (8 oz) block of softened cream cheese
  •  1 (15 oz) can of high quality chili ( I like Hormel or Dennison )
1. Warm ingredients until blended in a pot on the stove or in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Serve with corn chips (Fritos).

Chocolate-Covered with Caramels

The recipe seems too good to be true because the caramels are made in the microwave in seven minutes, and no candy thermometer is needed. The recipe works and produces the best-tasting caramels I've ever had. They're rich, buttery, creamy, sweet, and softly flavored with vanilla. They're the perfect balance of soft-yet-firm and just melt in your mouth. I'll put them up against fancy candy shop caramels. You'll never need another candy shop caramel or recipe for homemade caramels after trying these. And they're so easy.
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted (I use unsalted, use salted for saltier caramels)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup (light in color, not lite)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • chocolate for dipping - I used about 4 ounces each of Milk (32%), Dark (54%), and Darker (72%)
  • 1 to 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, optional but recommended
  • sprinkles (or jimmies, non-pareils, slivered almonds, coarse sea salt, graham cracker crumbs, etc.), optional for sprinkling
1. This is a fast-moving recipe once it begins. Have everything in place including a large oven mitt because the bowl becomes extremely hot. Make sure your bowl is truly microwave-safe because it will get very hot. Clear out a space in your refrigerator in advance for placing the hot pan to cool. Do not use lite or reduced fat ingredients; use real butter, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk. Send small children out of the kitchen while making these and fully concentrate on the recipe because the mixture is incredibly hot.
2. Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with non-stick aluminum foil, and spray very generously with cooking spray; set aside. (For these, I used a 9-inch pan; for the previous recipe I used an 8-inch).
3. In a very large microwave-safe bowl (nearly the largest your microwave can accommodate because the depth is necessary for the bubbling-up), melt the butter, about 90 seconds. To the melted butter, add the sugars, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and stir until smooth. Place bowl in the microwave and heat on high power for 3 minutes and 30 seconds (3 and 1/2 minutes).

Read More:
4. Using a hot pad, remove bowl from the microwave, scrape down the sides incredibly well, and stir. Very important - it won’t appear that much of anything is on the sides but if there is sugar or sugar granules that are not dissolved and fully incorporated into the bubbling mixture and they remain uncooked, they can cause graininess or crystallization in the finished caramels. Uncooked sugar crystals have regrowth that spreads and can take over a whole pan, rendering it a grainy and inedible. After scraping down the sides of the bowl very well, wipe around the sides using a damp paper towel, making sure no sugar granules are clung to the sides.
5. Return bowl to microwave and heat on high power for 3 minutes and 30 seconds (3 and 1/2 minutes). During this time, the mixture will foam, bubble vigorously, and become very active. I recommend standing in front of the microwave and watching it the whole time so you could power off the microwave immediately if necessary. Using a hot pad, remove the bowl from the microwave.
6. Very carefully add the vanilla extract, standing at arm's length. The mixture will likely still be boiling when you add it, it will bubble up even more. Use extreme caution and stir to incorporate the vanilla as the mixture continues to bubble quite rapidly.
7. Pour the bubbling mixture into the prepared pan, cover pan with aluminum foil, and place it in the refrigerator to firm up for at least four hours, or overnight, before slicing caramels.
8. Lift the caramels out using the foil overhang and flip them over, upside-down-cake style, onto a piece of parchment on top of the cutting board. Spray knife or pizza wheel with cooking spray before slicing, repeating as necessary. I made 6 rows of 6, for 36 caramels.
9. Melt chocolate in a small microwaves-safe bowl, about 1 minute. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons shortening for every 4 to 6 ounces of chocolate. This helps keep the chocolate smoother and less prone to becoming gloppy or firming up too fast. I like to work in batches of 4 to 6 ounces of melted chocolate at a time.
10. Balance 1 caramel on the tines of a fork, slowly lower it into the chocolate, and dip to coat. Don't let it linger in the hot chocolate or it could melt the caramel, and more chocolate than necessary is used. Use another fork to help lift it out of the chocolate and slide it off the fork and onto a parchment-lined large plate. Add sprinkles before chocolate sets up. Repeat process with all remaining caramels, reheating or adding more chocolate and shortening as necessary.
11. Place caramels in the refrigerator to firm up for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Caramels will keep airtight in the refrigerator for many months. I prefer to store them in the fridge rather than at room temperature. Note that because microwaves, ingredients, and climates vary, there could be variances in cook times; for my microwave 7 minutes is perfect.