Valentines Day is upon us, and no matter who you’re spending it with, chances are you’ll be chomping down on a bit of chocolate. We’re here to tell you to go for it.
While chocolate can get a bad rap for contributing to weight gain, it also has some amazing benefits that you should seriously consider taking advantage of this Valentine’s Day. The basis of chocolate is the cacao bean, and while it doesn’t taste great on it’s own, add a bit of sugar and you’ve got a delicious treat. Cacao is the part of the chocolate that comes with some amazing health benefits.
Dark chocolate lovers rejoice – the higher percentage cacao your chocolate bar, the better for you it is. This means there’s less sugar and fat. On the other side of the spectrum, white chocolate isn’t really chocolate at all – most varieties have 0% cacao, meaning it contains a high percentage of sugar and butter.
So what, exactly, can cacao do for your health?
A small amount may help quell your sweet tooth. Having a square of chocolate each night will take the edge off, lessening your tendency to binge on sweets to satisfy sugar cravings. It may seem counterintuitive, but in this way, a bit of chocolate may contribute to weight loss.
In the same vein, one long-term German study found that a square of dark chocolate each day could lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent. This lowering mechanism is in part due to the flavonoids present in chocolate, otherwise known as antioxidants. Flavonoids are known to increase the flexibility of veins and arteries, decreasing risk of particular diseases.
Chocolate may also cure a persistent cough. A recent clinical study revealed that the sweet treat contains a chemical called theobromine, which is known to calm the particular nerve in the brain that stimulates a cough.
Your favorite dessert can also have incredible effects on your brain. One researcher found that drinking hot cocoa rich in flavanols can boost blood flow to the brain for up to 3 hours, improving mental performance short-term. Chocolate can stimulate the brain long-term as well; one study from Oxford University found that those over 70 years old who ate flavanol-rich chocolate performed better on tests than those who didn’t. A recent study at Mount Sinai in New York also found that cocoa extract may block the nerve pathways found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Will you be indulging in a Valentine’s Day treat today? We say you should – and actually encourage you to. Eat up, and enjoy!
Everyone loves the idea of having a beautiful home. While each person’s idea of what this looks like is a little bit different, we all can agree that surrounding yourself with things that make you happy is the best way to live – particularly in your own house.
Speaking of feeling good, what if we told you there was an easy way to give back while making your home shine? No matter what your home décor and style, decorating it the green way is an easy technique to feel good about making a difference while surrounding yourself with beauty. Creating an environmentally-conscious living space is all about recognizing the impact we have on the world each and every day – keeping you mindful and engaged.
How do you start down the path to a greener home?
- Search the right sources first. Before heading to the nearest furniture or décor store, check out Goodwill, thrift stores, and yard sales. In particular neighborhoods, yard sales can be incredibly fruitful for finding good quality, beautiful items you’ll cherish. With a little bit of patience, you can find some amazing products at the thrift stores in your area. Buying from these sources is a form of reuse; your purchase saves the items from a landfill, while decreasing the energy and natural resources needed to create a brand new piece.
- Utilize natural elements. There’s nothing more beautiful than the great outdoors – so why not bring it inside? Depending on the season, grab a bunch of flowers from your garden and stick them in a vase. Pick up a few pinecones and throw them in a clear jar for an instantly festive winter centerpiece. Colorful fallen leaves make great décor in the fall. Let your nature-ridden, creative brain run wild!
- Update what you already have. Chances are, a fresh coat of paint on the wall or some beautiful new upholstery on your otherwise perfect couch will seriously update your home. An old table can be instantly beautified with a fresh coat of shellac; a few old picture frames can be instantly made new again by switching out the photos. If you really want to get creative, reimagine your pieces; with a hammer, a saw, and some nails, an old table can be refashioned into a smaller bedside version with ease.
- Embrace the power of color. On that note, change things up by utilizing your walls. Hanging art, pictures, record sleeves, old shutters, tapestry, and more on the walls immediately adds some flair. A fresh, gorgeous new paint color will instantly jazz up a room. Any excess paint can be used in another room, or recycled at a retailer near you.
- Experiment with reuse. Creativity goes a long way when you’re upping your green ante. Reuse a gorgeous, worn sheet instead of throwing it out by framing a piece and hanging it on the wall to add texture to any room. Use interesting glass wine bottles as vases for flowers. Reuse is an eco-friendly home’s best friend.
How do you stay green while sticking to a decorating budget? We’d love to hear your ideas!
Have you been cooking with cauliflower this season? This hearty veggie is a key staple for the winter months (cauliflower is at it’s peak during this time), particularly for vegetarians and those trying to limit their meat intake. Due to it’s robust nature, this veggie is filling – making it the ultimate addition to any meal.
Not only that – cauliflower is good for you. It’s often used in specific diets as a substitute for starch (while starches fill you up, they aren’t great for your waistline). At the same time, this cruciferous vegetable is naturally teeming with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that classify it as a superfood.
For instance, one serving of cauliflower contains 77 percent of your daily vitamin C, keeping your immune system up and your colds down. It also contains vitamin K, fiber, protein, magnesium, and more. While the protein keeps you full, the fiber keeps your digestive system in check. The vitamin B in cauliflower can help boost brain health, including the improvement of memory. The wonderful vegetable also plays a big role in detoxifying your body, clearing out the bad to make room for the good.
It’s also delicious warmed up any which way: roasted in the oven, steamed on the stovetop, throw into soups and stews, or sautéed for an enchanting dinner side. Don’t feel like cooking? Eat it raw and dip it in hummus or your favorite sauce – delectable.
Whether you’ve been on the cauliflower train since the beginning of the season or are just hopping on board now, we guarantee there’s a recipe here that everyone will love.
We’re strong believers that perforated details are perfect for spring. If it still feels like spring is far, far away in your area, not to fret. Treating yourself to a wonderful pair of springy, uniquely perforated shoes is guaranteed to brighten a cold winter day. And if your area has already started the winter thaw, get ready… it’s almost time to break out these springtime beauties!
This laser cut trend has emerged in the past few years, and let us tell you – we’ve fallen for it.
These beautiful embellishments spice up any pair of shoes. Laser cut details provide a bit of handcrafted flair to everyday pieces; this perforation creates a new dimension to footwear.
Perforated, laser cut details are also perfect for another time of year – Valentine’s Day. These embellishments add a bit of flirty flair to any outfit, ideal for impressing your significant other of many years or a brand new date alike. And with fun red hues like the Dansko wedges above, it’s easy to match your shoes to your mood.
Perforation comes in all shapes and sizes, from boots to wedges, sandals to flats. Some of our favorite brands have adopted the trend. Fly London has created some gorgeous wedges that incorporate laser cut details. Jambu has taken their typical sports sandal and amped it up into a fancier feel. Bed Stu incorporated the trend into their stunning leather boots, while Fidji combined the unique, artistic feel their shoes already embodied and stepped it up a notch.
No matter your sense of style, laser cut details simply fit this spring. Stay stylish all season long – you never know where your fashion-forward shoes will take you!
As of early last week, February 2’s favorite groundhog woke up and wasn’t scared away by his shadow – meaning an early spring is upon us!
While many may rejoice about this news (however arbitrary it may be), those who appreciate the wonder of winter aren’t nearly as thrilled. Yes, the cold and lack of sunshine can be daunting. But there are so many positives to winter that aren’t celebrated nearly enough.
With spring “coming early this year,” pledge to make the most of the remainder of the winter season despite the cold, by enjoying it the way you know best – whether that’s indoors or outdoors.
Enjoy the Outdoors
As long as you have good gear, you’ll love the immense sense of solitude and purpose that comes when no one else is outside, on typically-crowded trails, parks, and even beaches. Down coats keep in heat the best, providing a pocket of warm air between you and the outside of your jacket. Invest in proper mittens, a hat, scarves, and socks to make your outdoor adventure a dream.
Get in some outdoor exercise – while enjoying beautiful natural scenery – by snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice skating, playing a quick game of ice hockey, sledding, or snowboarding. If this sounds enjoyable to you, ensure your coat also has vents that will air you out when you get warm. The sweat these activities can create will make your skin wet, eventually making you colder as the sweat cools down.
If you’d rather do something more casual, go for a slow hike or do some yoga near a freshly frozen pond. Get a few friends together and have a picnic in the snow, laying down a heavy quilt and munching on in-season produce like warm kale, sweet potatoes, and pomegranate. Bask in the sunlight on a daily walk – the sun is like magic for our bodies, increasing your mood dramatically.
Enjoy the Indoors
If the cold really isn’t your thing, take your fun winter activities indoors. During the summer months, spending a large majority of your time outside can allow you to miss some of those relaxing indoor activities you adore. For instance, make a pledge to read 1-3 books per month this winter; during the summer, when you’re running around outside, you may not be able to find as much time to read. Find a cabin in the woods and enjoy the scenery from indoors near a fire, sipping coffee, and relaxing using your favorite techniques.
Try a new indoor class or sport while the sun still sleeps late into the morning and early in the night. Indoor spinning, zumba, yoga, and more aren’t as appealing when you have the whole world to jog in, but are enjoyable (and great for you) nonetheless. Your new class doesn’t have to be exercise related, either. Try learning a new skill (painting, a language, graphic design) during this colder time… being relegated to a classroom in the summer sounds miserable, but the winter is ideal!
All in all, enjoy the remainder of this winter season – no matter how you feel about it. Spring will be here before you know it!
Kale is truly an amazing veggie. It seems to be all over the internet these days, and for good reason – it’s an amazing nutritional powerhouse. And we’re always on board with a food trending if it’s this good for you.
What makes kale so nourishing? If you’re looking to increase your Vitamin C intake this winter to help fend of colds, kale is the right green to eat – it’s super high in the immune-boosting vitamin. Want to improve your skin, hair, and vision? Chomp on some more Vitamin A in the form of kale, which has 133% of your daily value in just one cup. Building strong bones and flexibility is easy with the help of a high daily dose of calcium; a serving of kale has more calcium than a small carton of milk.
If your iron is low, and particularly if you don’t eat meat, kale is a great substitute. In fact, per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. The veggie is also low in calories but high in fiber, acting as a filling yet low-fat addition to any meal.
Because it is so hearty, kale is highly resistant to frost, making the veggie a prime winter wonder. Kale therefore is a great option if you’re trying to eat seasonally, to save on the miles your food needs to travel to get to you. Chances are, kale is growing closer to your home than many of the other fruits and veggies that line the grocery store shelves.
And it’s super versatile – from soups to salads to chips and smoothies, this leafy green can find a way into any of your favorite meals. Try some of our faves below, and let us know how it goes!