health

Roasting Vegetables: Aluminum or Parchment Paper? Which Is Healthier?

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Photo: Shutterstock

Should you line the pan with aluminum foil, or would it be healthier to switch to parchment paper?

Yes, when roasting vegetables, parchment paper is better than foil. Recent research in the International Journal of Electrochemical Science suggests that when we use aluminum foil during cooking, some aluminum leaches into food. Leaching increases with higher heat (roasting and broiling) and acidity (tomatoes, vinegar, vitamin C–rich produce).

Is aluminum leaching into food bad? Maybe. The average person consumes between 7 and 9 milligrams of aluminum each day through diet. The Food and Drug Administration considers such levels generally safe, and the Alzheimer’s Association concludes that this normal exposure to aluminum is not a significant risk factor in Alzheimer’s disease.

However, the Center for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry suggests that consuming higher levels of aluminum than average may be linked to nervous system, brain, and bone diseases. People who cook often with aluminum foil (and aluminum pots and pans) risk more exposure than normal to the metal. So, although some aluminum in the diet is inevitable, keep exposure minimal with simple changes such as switching to parchment paper over foil when roasting.

Parchment paper can tolerate temperatures up to 420°F. But don’t confuse parchment paper with waxed paper, which can’t withstand high temperatures and will smoke in the oven.

Tip: When roasting, choose oils with higher smoke points (such as grapeseed and coconut oil) to avoid an “off” flavor.

home

Clutter Costs Us Money And It Could Be Harming Your Health

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Photo: Julia Saltzman

Oftentimes, clutter takes on a persona of its own. First, you form an emotional bond with your things, and the fact that they continue to pile up doesn’t seem like a big deal. Then after a while, your clutter starts to accumulate, requiring more and more space until—in some cases—it takes center stage and you agree to move some of it into a temperature-controlled room at a self-storage facility, which you can only visit on its terms. Clutter is such a diva!

Self-storage facilities are widely popular these days, with an estimated 54,000 facilities in the United States feeding into a $32.7 billion industry. I believe that while storage units can be necessary in some extreme cases, they are unnecessary more often than not. So before you put down your credit card, consider how much you can save financially, mentally, and emotionally by not storing your things.

1. Financial burden.

The self-storage game is changing. They will pick up, store, and create a personalized digital inventory database—but it will cost you. Their storage units range from $89 up to $8,000 a month. Employing a self-storage unit temporarily can be helpful during a move or a renovation. But over time, it becomes a very a costly investment that never provides a return. Can you imagine the vacations or experiences you could have had by saving $100 per month over the course of a year? Instead of spending money to keep things “just in case,” consider selling or consigning large-ticket items like furniture and electronics for cold hard cash or donating them for a tax write-off.

2. Mental anxiety.

Clutter is mentally taxing. Whether we are conscious of it or not, our things hold energy, and energy affects us deeply. Looking for more proof? A study out of UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) found a link between high cortisol (stress hormone) levels in female homeowners and a high density of household objects. Additionally, the brain is only able to process a certain amount of visual information before the other senses kick into overdrive, compensating vision. When we find ourselves in a room piled high with stuff, our capacity to think clearly begins to wane. Many people use self-storage as a Band-Aid solution—a way to move clutter from one home to another. But similar to that nagging feeling you get when you’re forgetting something, you’ll know that the underlying issues remain, undressed and just sitting elsewhere.

3. Emotional strain.

Clutter emotionally stunts people. Emotionally charged possessions can weigh heavily on a heart to the point of debilitation. When does clutter become too much? Do you own your belongings, or do your belongings own you?

Learning to release our attachments and let go of physical excess is incredibly freeing and empowering. If you must keep a physical reminder of the items you are willing to release, I suggest taking photos and keeping a journal. Your footprint is much smaller using this method, and you are creating a living history in the process.

Your belongings don’t need to have jurisdiction over your life, nor do you need to make special accommodations for them. You have the power to sever emotional ties to your things. Surround yourself with things that bring you joy—and let everything else go.

recipes

Carrot Lentil And Rice Salad

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This simple lentil and rice salad is loaded with protein and fiber and is a great way to use up leftovers. You can also make this ahead and refrigerate so you always have a healthy meal on hand. It is dressed with a simple mix of sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard and paprika which gives a wonderful light flavor to this salad.

In just a few minutes you can have a healthy and delicious meal!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon paprika, preferably smoked
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 15-ounce can lentils, rinsed, or 1⅓ cups cooked lentils
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preparation:

  1. Whisk oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add rice, lentils, carrot and parsley; stir to combine.
health

Need An Avocado Now, Like Right Now? How To Ripen Your Avocado In 10 Minutes

avocado
Photo: Shutterstock

We live in the age of avocado toast. I’m telling you. We see it all over Instagram and there’s a reason for that. With all the good fat an avocado contains, it’s our favorite guiltless treat. We smother and smush it onto bread and call it a meal, because, somehow, it’s both decadent and simple.

But there are times we physically can’t eat avocado toast because we picked too young an avocado. We sit there, watching it, praying that it’ll soften, but it’s stubborn. We love you so much, little avocado, why won’t you love us back?

Well, if you really can’t wait it out, there are ways to hasten its maturity.

You can ripen a too-hard avocado by putting it in a paper bag at room temperature. If all goes according to plan, it’ll ripen to perfect smushing texture in a matter of days.

And if you need an avocado to mature faster than that, add an apple, banana, or pear. Like avocado, these fruits emit ethylene gas, a compound that promotes ripening.

But if you really can’t wait any longer- like, you need it right this instant– there is indeed another measure you can take. As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.

You can bake it in the oven. Yes, seriously. And no, it won’t get hot and weird and mushy. Here’s how:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F.
2. Wrap your little green friend in tin foil, and place it on a baking sheet.
3. Pop the sheet in the oven for 10 minutes.

Et voilà! It’s all grown up and ready for spreading atop any and every snack.

But how? What is this sorcery? Well, like other fruits, avocados emit ethylene gas, which is usually released slowly—causing the avocados to ripen over time—but when you wrap one in tinfoil and heat it up, you’ve trapped the gas and sped up the ripening process.

But let’s be real: You’re just gonna make avocado toast, aren’t you?

health

10 Protein Packed Vegetables

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There seems to be a stigma about vegetables not being high in protein but that’s just not true! You don’t have to only eat meat to get lots of protein in your diet. Just add these veggies to your diet on a daily basis to get more protein without all the animal fat. Plus they will give you more energy!

1. Peas

Peas are an excellent source of protein. Peas can be enjoyed fresh or frozen and have some of the highest protein available of any vegetable. So, next time you are looking for a little protein boost, remember to add in a handful of peas to your meal.

2. Spinach

You might already know spinach as a popular “super food”, but now you can eat it knowing that it is also a great source of protein, too. This vegetable is loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and within that deep dark green color is also plenty of protein. Why do you think Popeye ate so much spinach?

3. Kale

Truly one of the best greens and vegetable choices out there, kale is the definition of a super food. Make it into a salad, add it to soup or casserole, or blend a handful into a green smoothie, knowing that you are getting your protein.

4. Broccoli

As well as protein, broccoli is also high in fiber, antioxidants and minerals. With a broad range of vitamins on offer, you can use cooked or raw broccoli as a main menu item. Eat broccoli in salads, soups, or simply steamed by itself with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

5. Sprouts

There are so many different varieties of fresh sprouts available and the thing I love about them is that they are living until you pick them. (You can’t get any fresher than that.) Sprouts make a healthy addition to sandwiches, salads and soups. Try mixing the various kinds of sprouts that are available, as the different varieties are all delicious.

6. Mushrooms

With a firm texture and immune boosting properties, especially the cordycep, reishi and maitake varieties, mushrooms make a tasty, nutritious and filling main meal. Serve them with freshly scrambled organic eggs for a healthy weekend brunch.

7. Brussel Sprouts

This cruciferous vegetable is not only high in protein, but also fiber. Try roasting them in a baking tray with a drizzle of oil and a dash of sea salt for a delicious variation.

8. Artichokes

You can eat artichokes in many different ways including blended, steamed or roasted. They are so delicious and filling (thanks to the high protein) that you may very well may make them the main part of your meal, as happened in the ancient Jewish Ghettos in Rome many years ago!

9. Asparagus

Not only are asparagus high in protein, but they also assist your body with detoxification. Asparagus are also high in fiber, which fills you up and leaves you feeling satisfied and satiated after eating.

10. Corn

In addition to its high fiber content, a serving of corn packs a solid protein punch. Best eaten fresh from the cob, you can also get the benefits off-season through frozen or canned kernels.