Meal Preparation Tips

Preparing your meals in advance offers a variety of benefits, including saving you time on busy days as well as increasing the amount of healthy, well-balanced meals you eat. Sometimes, however, meal preparation can seem overwhelming. The good news is as long as you think about it beforehand, there is nothing intimidating about planning and prepping your meals in advance of dinner time.

To that end, here are some tips to help you engage in effective meal preparation:

Quality Containers

You can prepare as many meals as you want, but without good containers to store the food in, you are not going to get anywhere with meal preparation. You can choose plastic bags, plastic storage containers, glass containers, et cetera. Consider what kind of ingredients you will be using for your meals. If you are simply chopping vegetables for a meal, you can get away with a plastic bag. For liquids, on the other hand, you may need a bottle.

Plan The Meals

Of course, in order to prepare your meals you are going to have to plan what they are going to be! You can do this on pen and paper or on your computer—whichever works best for you. Make sure to make notes for all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you will need to prepare for. Consider all the ingredients you will need for each meal. Before you go to the grocery store, remember to check your fridge, freezer, and cupboards to see if you have any of the ingredients already.

Cook At The Same Time

Sure, you could do one meal at a time, but try to cook multiple meals at the same time whenever possible. For instance, if you plan to have chicken more than once during your week (or other meal prep period) cook the chicken breasts at the same time. You can cook different meats and vegetables simultaneously as well, depending on the temperature required. Your only concern here would be cross contamination, so be sure to wash your hands throughout this process and use separate utensils and baking sheet.

Mix It Up

Sometimes it is easy to just cook the same meal so you do not have to worry too much about what you are going to eat or other snags that might come with meal preparation for more than one thing. However, this is often a mistake. It is very easy to get bored if you are eating the same thing every day. When you are just starting out with meal preparation, try doing two meals so you can switch them out with one another. Gradually add meals as you get a hang of things.

Differences Between Cooking Oils

Many recipes call for cooking oils as integral ingredients, but they also may request you to fry, sauté, bake, et cetera, with some oil involved. Even though oil is common, many people misuse the types of cooking oil available to them. To help maximize your health as well as the taste of your dish, here are details on some of the major cooking oils you will encounter in kitchens and the grocery store.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you ask someone about cooking oil, most people will think of extra virgin olive oil. This is perhaps one of the most popular, and many people turn to it when they need a cooking oil in their recipe. It has a delicious flavour to it, which is another aspect that makes it a popular choice among people in the kitchen. That said, this is not as versatile as you might think. Extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point at 320 degrees Fahrenheit. When you heat an oil past its smoke point, you compromise the flavour and can actually cause your health some harm as well. Thus, save extra virgin olive oil for recipes that do not require heat, like salad dressing, dips, or a simple one-ingredient pasta sauce.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil has an iconic, nutty smell to it when you open its bottle. That said, the flavour is relatively neutral, making it a versatile oil. It has a higher smoke point at 410 degrees Fahrenheit, which means you can use it for sautéing or frying with relative security. It works well in salad dressing with all of its vitamins and minerals, as well as fatty acids. If used correctly, you can really enhance the sesame flavour, making this a go-to oil for many Asian recipes.

Canola Oil

Do you want a good neutral oil you can use in just about any recipe? Canola oil, also seen as vegetable oil, has a high smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which means it can withstand deep frying, sautéing, et cetera. It is also quite cheap compared to most other cooking oils. It is important to note, however, that canola oil is not the best for your health, which is why you may want to use it sparingly in your diet or find an appropriate substitute.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is the cooking oil with the highest smoke point on this list: 510 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it an excellent choice for all high temperature cooking, like grilling or frying. It does possess a buttery flavour and has high levels of the healthy monounsaturated fats. It is also quite versatile and you can also use it in salad dressing, as a drizzle, or in other no temperature recipes.

Cooking For Busy Days

All of us have experienced busy days now and again (or even constantly). Busy days can occur for a variety of reasons, including having a family to take care of, big deadlines at work, or simply many things to juggle at the same time. Regardless of why you are busy, you still need to eat healthy and energizing meals. But what happens if cooking takes too long or you simply do not have lots of energy after you day is over? Thankfully, we have compiled some simple tips for cooking when those busy days strike.

Build A Quality Pantry

The ingredients you have in your pantry are your lifesavers during the busy times in your life. They can make whipping up recipes very easy if you pick the right ones. In all cases, you want nonperishable items (so you need not worry about anything going bad). Look for ingredients like dried pasta, sauce in jars, cans of soup, as well as canned tomatoes, beans, et cetera. Make a list of ingredients you have and see where you might have gaps. Visit the grocery store to stock up if necessary.

Fill Your Freezer

Your freezer is another element in your kitchen, like your pantry, that can be a lifesaver on those busy days. You can have frozen meals for emergencies, buy you can also buy ingredients in bulk and freeze them for use later. You can even cook in bulk and store portioned leftovers you just have to reheat when your day gets busy.

Pick Easy Meals

Sometimes cooking becomes a hassle on busy days because the recipes are just too time consuming or complicated to manage. Reevaluate what you are cooking and pick easy to cook meals like one pot pasta, casseroles, and fried rice. Many of these easy dishes also make excellent leftovers and/or freeze well, so remember to keep this in mind when you choose your meal.

Multitask While Cooking

Sometimes you can make cooking easier by multitasking while you do it. For instance, can you have a pot of water on to boil or start simmering sauce while you chop vegetables for your meal? Sometimes it might feel as if you have to perform actions one at a time, but take a closer look at your recipes and see what you can do simultaneously. With that in mind, do not overload yourself, as you still want to be safe and turn out a delicious meal.

Invest In A Slow Cooker

Slow cookers are an essential kitchen appliance if you are consistently busy. With minimal prep, you can have a meal simmering and cooking all day while you go about your business. If you time things right, you can come home to a perfectly cooked and warm meal.

Eating When You Have A Cold

When you have a cold, you may not feel like eating very much at all. However, this is one of the worst things you can do, along with not getting enough rest. Your body needs nourishment, liquid included, in order to effectively fight your cold. To help speed your recovery, here are some of the most popular things you should eat and/or drink while you are feeling ill.

Chicken Noodle Soup

The broth in this soup helps to keep you hydrated. But even more than that, chicken noodle soup contains lots of vitamins and minerals that help you body fight off any inflammation, things mucus in your nasal passages, and generally makes you feel better. Pick your favourite brand or try making your own!

Hot Tea

Tea is yet another way to help give your body as much liquid as possible. Remember, one of the golden rules about having a cold is to keep yourself hydrated. We recommend low caffeine or caffeine-free teas like green or herbal tea while you are sick. These two play especially well into the next item on our list.

Lemon and Honey

Do you have a sore throat? Put some lemon and honey into hot water, tea, or even a small amount of whiskey! These combinations can help you soothe your throat, at least temporarily.

Spicy Food

If you have an irritated stomach, we recommend staying away from spicy food as it can irritate you further. If this is not the case, however, eating spicy food or drinking spicy broth helps to relieve congestion. No more stuffy nose for you! Just be aware that you may have watery eyes or a slight runny nose while you are eating. Keep some tissues nearby to help.

BRAT Diet

Even if you have an appetite, sometimes eating certain food when you are sick (whether it is a coldo r flu) can make things worse, at least temporarily. This is why you should adhere to the BRAT diet when you have an upset stomach while sick. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods were chosen because they are some of the least likely to irritate your stomach. Eating them ensures you are still getting nutrition, such as vitamin C from the applesauce and potassium from bananas.

Eating these foods is sure to get you back on the right track. Feel better!

Stock Shelves With Pantry Staples

If you buy everything you need each time you go to the grocery store, you may find you are spending more money than strictly necessary. Alternatively, not keeping track of what you have in your cupboards may result in you not having what you need when you are trying to make something. While you cannot plan for every scenario, there are a number of ingredients used in so many different recipes, which makes them extremely beneficial to keep in stock at all times. Here is our list of pantry staples, grouped into a few major categories.

Spices

The majority of people will use seasonings like salt and pepper on their food—make sure to keep these around! Sometimes the other spices will vary based on the type of cuisine you prefer (if you like curries, make a note of what they use a lot of), but some of the most common are oregano, cinnamon, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, as well as the soup base of your choice (often vegetable or chicken).

Sauce and Oil

You should always have some vegetable or canola oil on hand, as these are good for frying since they have a neutral flavour. You may also wish to keep olive oil around, as well as sesame oil if you cook a lot of Asian food.

In terms of sauce, it is always an excellent choice to keep a jar or can of your favourite pasta sauce (or the nonperishable components of it). In addition to this, soy sauce is a great addition, as well as fish sauce if you make Thai food on a regular basis. Also, though it is not a sauce, white or malt vinegar is a good staple as well.

Dry Goods

There are a lot of dry goods to keep in stock. These items include flour, baking powder, baking soda, rolled oats, cornstarch, dry pasta, white sugar, and brown sugar. These are often used in baking, so if you bake a lot look at your favourite recipes. Make note of any nonperishable items on more than one of those recipes and be sure to add them to your pantry staples.

Popular Substitutions in Baking

Baking is a particularly popular pastime. You can make countless sweet and savoury treats with simple recipes and your imagination. However, there may be instances in which you need to change the recipes. This may be due to allergies, other dietary restrictions, or perhaps because of a diet. The good news is there are lots of things you can do to make your favourite sweet treats even if you have to switch out a couple ingredients. Here are some popular alternatives to ingredients like sugar, flour, and butter:

Applesauce – Applesauce is perhaps the most popular substitute ingredient out there. You can use it in place of both sugar and butter. If you want to change out some of the sugar in your recipe, add in an equal amount of applesauce instead. Thus, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use 1 cup of applesauce. This works well for a wide range of baked goods, particularly cookies. Just remember to reduce the liquid in your recipe by a quarter cup for every cup of applesauce you add.

Black Beans – You might think this surprising, but pureed black beans are a popular alternative for all-purpose flours, particularly in brownie recipes. Using black beans helps make the recipe gluten-free and adds some protein to it as well. When substituting, use the same amount of black beans as you would flour.

Avocados – Butter and avocados have roughly the same consistency at room temperature, and the fact they are both fats makes avocados a perfect substitute ingredient. Simply switch out every cup of butter for a cup of pureed avocados. Their creaminess and subtle flavour will make brownies and cookies quite delicious, in addition to cutting some of the calories butter added.

Chia Seeds – In recipes for cakes, bread, and muffins, chia seeds can actually work in place of butter. Simply soak two to three tablespoons of chia seeds in a cup of water for every cup of butter you want to take out of your recipe. They add protein and potassium, and are great for making a recipe vegan. You can also use one tablespoon of chia seeds in a cup of water for every egg. Just remember, we only recommend substituting half of those ingredients for chia seeds, at least in the beginning.

Evaporated Milk – Instead of using heavy cream in cakes, biscuits, and other baking recipes, use evaporated milk in equal amounts. They have the same consistency, but evaporated milk has merely a fraction of the fat. There is, however, a little more sugar in evaporated milk, but the fat reduction tends to make up for it.

Top 3 Multipurpose Ingredients

Creating delicious dishes, whether they are sweet or savoury, is a great way to pass the time. Not only are you creating, but you are also helping keep yourself sustained. Some ingredients are only good for one thing, however, you can build up your pantry to include a wide range of multipurpose ingredients. Sometimes the different uses are similar, such as making soup containing pasta noodles instead of making spaghetti or macaroni and cheese. However, there are some amazing ingredients you use every day in your cooking that you can also use for things outside of the kitchen! Here are the top 3 multipurpose ingredients you should always have on hand.

Honey

Honey is a great method of sweetening tea. You can also use it in place of sugar in many recipes, make savoury meals like honey teriyaki chicken, and even drizzle it on ice cream. Outside of the kitchen world, however, did you know you can use honey in different body scrubs, as a method of clearing up acne, and even in lip balm? There are countless recipes for these things, so pick your favourite and enjoy all-natural honey beauty products!

Baking Soda

Baking soda is often seen in cookie recipes, as well as recipes for bread, muffins, and countless other baked goods. However, it has quite a few uses outside of cooking. For instance, having an open container of baking soda in your fridge helps eliminate odors (just remember to switch it every six months). You can also create your own toothpaste with baking soda. You can also make a natural cleaning product with it as well, and remove stubborn stains!

Olive Oil

Olive oil is, perhaps, the most versatile oil out there. You can use it in salad dressings, drizzle it on ice cream, create pasta sauces with it, along with countless other recipes. The only rule with olive oil is to watch its smoking point. Outside of the kitchen, you can use olive oil to soften earwax buildup, as a treatment for your hair before you shampoo, in sugar body scrubs, as a natural remedy for eczema, and even as a last-minute replacement for shaving cream.

Superfood Ingredients in Your Morning Smoothie

smoothie

Anyone can make a basic smoothie. Simply blend some fruit and frozen yogurt and you are finished. However, while this is not necessarily unhealthy for you (provided you drink these smoothies in moderation), you can actually get a lot more from your smoothies. All you need to do is include some simple superfoods as ingredients in your morning smoothie. Your body will certainly thank you!

Here are some popular ingredients—many of which will not alter the taste or your morning smoothie—you may wish to consider:

Chia Seeds – These contain high amounts of omega fatty acids as well as other nutrients, such as iron, calcium, antioxidants, and protein. They are proven to minimize your risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol. Depending on the size of your smoothie, aim to use one or two teaspoons. It has a neutral flavour, so it pairs well with just about everything.

Avocado – This superfood is the perfect alternative for those who do not like to use bananas in their smoothie. They act the same as bananas in that they help make your smoothies creamy. They also contain good fat and many other nutrients. Avocados are also known to keep you feeling full for longer, which means you are less likely to snack too much.

Goji Berries – Even though they have a bitter taste, other smoothie ingredients are able to mask their flavour. These berries also contain roughly 18 amino acids and are the highest source of antioxidants. In addition to being fantastic for your immune system and vision, goji berries also help keep your liver and heart healthy.

Cacao – Do you enjoy chocolate? Cacao is the raw form of chocolate. It is quite bitter on its own, but when you add ingredients with natural sugars like fruit or natural flavours of yogurt, you can get rid of cacao’s bitterness. Benefits from cacao include it being high in antioxidants, iron, potassium, as well as magnesium.

Other popular ingredients for smoothies include kale, spinach, maca, flax seeds, acai, and whey. Even though your basic smoothie recipe may taste great as is, adding one or two of these superfoods as ingredients is a surefire way to add more health benefits. They are called superfoods for a reason. You do not even have to worry about changing the taste! Just fiddle with the amounts until you find the ingredient breakdown that works for you. You can even add them into your diet in other ways.

10 Benefits of Cilantro

I love Cilantro. I love it in a salad, with my guacamole or juiced with lime, kale and carrot.

Cilantro

Consuming it comes with lots of great health benefits so you should consider adding it to some of your favorite dishes!

You can grow cilantro indoors all year round to ensure you always have a fresh supply.

Here are some benefits of including it in your diet:

  • Some studies suggest that increasing consumption of plant foods like cilantro decreases the risk of obesity, overall mortality, diabetes, and heart disease while promoting healthy skin and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
  • Some of the acids present in cilantro, like linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) are very effective in reducing the cholesterol levels in the blood.
  • Cilantro contains vitamin K and small amounts of folate, potassium, manganese, and choline, as well as the antioxidants beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
  • Cilantro has been found to suppress lead accumulation in rats, which has led to its recent use in many “detoxification” juices and drinks.
  • As a rich source of calcium, cilantro is of great value for people who want to protect the integrity of their bones.
  • Cilantro is a natural stimulant, and it regulates proper secretion from the endocrine glands.  This can help regulate proper menstrual cycles and reduce the associated pain during a woman’s period.
  • It is loaded with antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, which prevents vision disorders, macular degeneration and it reduces strain and stress on the eyes.
  • May help improve sleep quality
  • Has been examined and described to have a blood-sugar lowering effect.

Can Chili pepper compound Stop Breast Cancer?

It is estimated about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2016, The U.S Breast Cancer foundation says 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 61,000 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

red chili pepper
image via pexels

For decades researchers have been doing aggressive research in every field looking for ways to cure the incredible women who are diagnosed with this disease every year.

Genetic research has enabled scientists to classify breast cancer into subtypes, which respond differently to various kinds of treatment. These subtypes are categorized according to the presence or absence of three receptors that are known to promote breast cancer: estrogen, progesterone, and the epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).

The treatments for each subtypes is different.

Breast cancers that test positively for HER2 typically respond well to treatment and even to some specific drugs. However, there are types of cancer that test negatively for HER2, as well as for estrogen and progesterone – this is called triple-negative breast cancer.

As some studies have shown, triple-negative cancer is more difficult to treat, with chemotherapy being the only option.

New research, from the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, tested the effects of a spicy molecule on cultivated tumor cells of this particularly aggressive cancer type

Capsaicin, which is commonly found in Chili Peppers, have been tested by the team on SUM149PT cell culture, which is a model for triple-negative breast cancer.

Existing research suggests that several transient receptor potential (TRP) channels influence cancer cell growth. These TRP channels are membranous ion channels that conduct calcium and sodium ions, and which can be influenced by several stimuli including temperature or pH changes.

One of the TRP channels that play a significant role in the development of several diseases is the olfactory receptor TRPV1.

In the past, it has been found that capsaicin can induce cell death and inhibit cancer cell growth in several types of cancer, including colon and pancreatic cancer.

For this new study, the researchers aimed to investigate the expression of TRP channels in a vast amount of breast cancer tissue, as well as to analyze and understand how TRPV1 could be used in breast cancer therapy.

Researchers added capsaicin and helional to the culture for several hours or days. This activated the TRPV1 receptor in the cell culture.

As a result of TRPV1 being activated, the cancer cells died more slowly. Additionally, tumor cells died in larger numbers, and the remaining ones were not able to move as quickly as before. This suggests that their ability to metastasize was reduced.

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