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Ugh, pot lids. Is there any kitchen item more annoying to store than ye ol’ pot lid? These clanky essentials can single-handedly mess up an otherwise tidy kitchen cabinet unless they’re corralled and ordered in some way.

Here are 10 affordable, smart ways to get those pot lids under control!

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You know that basic box of spaghetti you keep stashed in the pantry? I’m about to show you how to really make it live up to its full potential. This gem is easy enough to pull together on a Monday night when you’re pressed for time, but fancy enough to hold its own when you host friends or your new in-laws for dinner. Soft, creamy burrata steals the show to make everyday spaghetti and frozen peas feel super special. Crisp bites of pancetta add a salty twist, and a handful of fresh basil and mint balance it out with a sweet, fragrant aroma that keep this meal feeling seasonal and fresh.

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If you’re considering a new refrigerator, chances are the first things you’ll consider are price and size. These are critical! But, as you’ll find out once you start to do some research, there are many (many) more factors to take into consideration. One of those is freezer placement. No, it’s not sexy, but it is a question you should ask yourself: Do you want a freezer on the top or a freezer on the bottom? There are advantages (and disadvantages) to both. Here, we break them down.

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If you’ve ever brought a package of dates home, on at least one occasion you’ve probably pulled them out to find them looking kind of crystallized on the outside and way more firm than you remember. Am I right? Here’s the thing about dates — these sweet fruits continue to dry out (and eventually harden up) as they age. It happens when they’re stored properly, and even faster when they’re not. They’re still perfectly good, though, so don’t toss them. You just need to revive them and bring them back to life. Here’s the best way to do it.

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Dates seem to be having their time in the superfood spotlight. Full of potassium, iron, B vitamins, and fiber, this sweet fruit is being churned into paste and syrup, and even being dried and turned into sugar. Does date sugar rival its granulated counterparts when it comes to baked goods, and does it hold the same nutritional power as whole dates? We did some digging to learn all about how date sugar is made and how we can (and cannot) use date sugar in the kitchen.

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This really is the only recipe you need for grilled vegetables now through summer and into fall. Any vegetable wins when it’s soaked in a sweet, tangy, and garlic-packed balsamic glaze and grilled on skewers until caramelized and tender. Grill Brussels sprouts now, while they still linger, and then move on to the summer bounty of eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and more. Serve them with other grilled fare, like burgers, dogs, or chicken, or bask in their heartiness and make them a vegan main course. Yep, it just might be time to start stocking up on wooden skewers.

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I am someone who stands among the canned beans at the grocery store, searching for the cheapest can. I mean, they are canned beans — they are all cheap! And yet, if I can get one that’s a few cents less than the others, I feel like I’ve won. It definitely drives my fiancé (and probably anyone else around me at the store) nuts.

Being as frugal as I am, you wouldn’t think I splurge on high-end food items — but I actually do. You see, there are a few things that, to me, are absolutely worth the extra cost because they make the average meal feel fancy. And eating should feel fancy sometimes.

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If you’re looking to take your macaroni salad game up just a notch, look no further than one of my favorite ready-to-eat ingredients: smoked trout. When smoke is added to this mild-mannered fish, exciting things happen to everything it’s served with, including good ol’ fashioned creamy macaroni salad. Throw in a few handfuls of crunchy celery, tart apple, and some chives for good measure, and you’ve got the next backyard potluck, barbecue, or picnic covered.

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Schiefertafel mit der chemischen Formel von SerotoninSerotonin is a major regulator of mood and depression risk. These are important, vital roles, to be sure. Your mood describes how you experience and interpret the world. If it’s consistently bad, you’regoing to have a rough time. Yet, serotonin is much more than the “feel-good hormone.” It also influences sexual desire and helps us remember. It’s the precursor to melatonin, the neurotransmitter that allows us to sleep.

Although we mainly think of serotonin as a neurotransmitter acting on the brain, our guts are the biggest producers of serotonin. About 90% of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in the gut, where it helps trigger the contractions that push food through the GI tract and initiates nausea and vomiting (when necessary). That’s not the focus of today’s post on brain serotonin boosters, but I thought you’d all find it interesting.

Okay, so how can someone with inadequate serotonin levels boost the available serotonin in their brains?

Eat Animal Protein

We often forget that “thoughts” and “feelings” aren’t just ephemera floating around inside our heads without a material representative. Every thought, feeling, emotion, or mood we experience is a physical thing made of matter. We don’t just “feel better.” To feel better, we manufacture serotonin using an amino acid called tryptophan as the precursor.

Whether it’s turkey, eggs, dairy, beef, lamb, chicken, or fish, animal protein is a reliable source of tryptophan. Studies show that whey protein and egg protein both acutely increase tryptophan availability in the brain.

Get Plenty of Natural Light

Sunlight is a direct trigger of serotonin synthesis. The brighter the sunlight, the higher the serotonin production. This may explain seasonal affective disorder, where depression spikes during colder, darker months. It may also explain why sun exposure increases cognitive function in both depressed and healthy subjects, or why bright light exposure prevents bad moods after tryptophan depletion.

Bright light doesn’t imply full blaring sunlight. Going outside on a cloudy, late autumn day will expose you to far more bright, natural light than you’ll experience sitting inside with the lights on. I’d guess the main reason winter is worse for serotonin is that people are less likely to go outside and brave the bad weather.

Get your light as early as possible. A 10-15 minute walk just after sunrise (no sunglasses; bathe in the light) sets the tone for the day.

Get Your Vitamin D

Vitamin D—which we synthesize from UVB exposure—allows the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin

I recommend getting most of your vitamin D from the sun. It’s better regulated that way, and you get the added benefit of lots of natural light. If you need or want to supplement (probably a good idea for most people during the colder seasons when sun exposure is low), look for a high potency formula. Here’s what I take.

Eat Seafood

Not only does seafood provide ample amounts of the amino acid tryptophan, the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids found in marine fat increase serotonin production in the brain and improve serotonin transport across neurons.

You might take cod liver oil or eat the actual livers, as that provides both vitamin D (for increased tryptophan conversion) and long-chain omega-3s. However, a good daily dose of omega-3 supplementation through high potency, pharmaceutical-grade fish oil works fine, too, for those who get ample vitamin D otherwise.

Don’t Avoid Carbs Entirely

Carbs spike insulin, which shuttles amino acids out of the blood and into cells. This leaves tryptophan as the dominant amino acid in the bloodstream, because it’s bound to albumin and inaccessible to insulin. When amino acids compete for conversion into neurotransmitters, tryptophan wins, and serotonin rises, because no one else shows up.

Many readers of this blog prefer lower-carb diets. I’m the same. If you feel like your serotonin levels need a boost, consider increasing carb intake a little.

Eat Curry

Turmeric has emerged in recent years as a powerful antidepressant, in many cases equalling or even surpassing the effects of prescription antidepressants. Turns out that turmeric (or curcumin, rather) increases brain serotonin levels in a dose-dependent matter.

So maybe you need curcumin, the isolated polyphenol found in turmeric, to really affect depression. Maybe your chicken tikka masala isn’t replacing your SSRI. But absent outright depression or serotonin-based mood disorders, cooking with turmeric should help regulate normal serotonin levels.

Move

Exercise increases serotonin via two pathways. First, the activation of motor neurons increases the firing rate of serotonin neurons, thus boosting the synthesis and release of serotonin. Second, exercise consistently elevates tryptophan levels in the brain, even for hours after the session.

Drink Coffee

Generic alternative health gurus will tell you caffeine depletes serotonin. It sounds right, doesn’t it? What they won’t say is that caffeine has actually been shown to increase brain serotonin, at least in rats.  It also makes the brain more sensitive to the effects of serotonin. Personally, I’m drinking my coffee.

Get a Massage

Conventional experts will say “massage just feels good.” Well, yeah. That’s the point. Getting a massage boosts serotonin by 28%.

Get your Micronutrients

This should really be standard advice for any health issue. Many problems go away when we eat more micronutrients—vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients—because micronutrients are essential to fundamental physiological processes and pathways. It’s a safe bet that all of us are at least mildly deficient in a handful of important nutrients—like B6, which regulates serotonin synthesis.                                         r

One study found that a food-based multivitamin/multimineral supplement drink called Lavita increased tryptophan and serotonin levels in healthy subjects. While that product does purport to offer a boost in many micronutrients, a solid Primal diet with quality meats and good, varied vegetable intake should provide the same nutrient base. Of course, many of us choose a comprehensive multivitamin/multimineral supplement as well.

That’s what I have for today, folks. Thanks for stopping by. Share your thoughts and questions on the comment board, and have a good week.

This post was originally published in 2007. I’ve revised it substantially to reflect current research findings and scientific understanding. 

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The post 10 Tips to Boost Your Serotonin appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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I’ll be honest: I didn’t really want a wedding registry. The thought of my family and friends skimming a list of things to buy me, things I picked out, made me incredibly uncomfortable. But my mom was able to persuade me, arguing that people were going to give us gifts anyway and with no registry they’d have to spend time trying to figure out what we might want. Plus, “Everyone is going to end up calling me, asking what color your kitchen is, or if you need new towels,” she told me. It was a valid point.

If you’re on Team No-Registry: Wedding Registries Are a Necessary Evil. Here’s How You Make Your Peace with Them.

With a glass of wine in hand, I pulled up the Williams-Sonoma website on my computer and began clicking, and told my fiancé to do the same on his laptop.

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