Review: In Defense of Food

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I recently read a book for one of my classes called In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, and it was one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read. It focuses on the paradigm called “nutritionism” that America has fallen into.

Nutritionism is based off of the idea that a food is solely a sum of all its individual nutrients. Pollan describes how noticeable it is as you walk down the aisle of the grocery store: “Where the once familiar names of recognizable comestibles- things like eggs or breakfast cereals or snack foods- claims pride of place on the brightly colored packages crowding the aisles, now new, scientific-sounding terms like “cholesterol” and “fiber” and “saturated fat” began rising to large-type prominence.”

When I read this I couldn’t help but think, why is this a bad thing? America is becoming a more health conscious nation, which is a good thing, right? We are an unhealthy country, with our biggest killers being diet-related. But in this lay the paradigm: as we have grown more “health conscious,” we have become an even unhealthier nation. Separating nutrient from food has completely distorted our needs and priorities.

Pollan specifically talks about the low-fat fad. It was the biggest experiment in nutritionism history: the idea that dietary fat is responsible for chronic disease. He goes on to explain what an utter failure it was, and thirty years later we are even unhealthier.

All in all, Pollan boils down eating to seven basic words, which become the catch phrase of this fantastic book: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. It really is that simple, but he expands on it quite a bit. This book caused me to truly examine what I believe in regards to trusting scientists with my food choices and nutrition advice. It made me re-think my philosophy of food, but I believe it was for the better. I truly could go on forever about it, but I think it would be best if you heard it from him.

By Casie Popkin

4 Sleep Apps for a Better Slumber

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As college students, none of us have a regular sleep cycle. Sometimes we get to bed before 10 p.m., and well, sometimes we don’t. For those of you who would like to fall asleep every night as soon as your head hits the pillow, and wake up a little less groggy, check out these clever sleep apps created to help you do just that!

1. SleepCycle. This apps function is given away in its name. It is designed to literally help monitor and regulate your sleep patterns, allowing for a more normal cycle. It acts as a sleep alarm clock, deciding to wake you up when you are in a lighter sleep cycle than in a heavier one. It determines your sleep phase using the accelerometer built in to the iPhone, which can detect and record the amount of movement in your bed. Waking up in a lighter sleep phase will help you feel more rested, and lessen the desire for skipping that 9:30 class.

2. Sleep Pillow. As college students, it is tough to transition from our bed at school to our bed at home, and vice versa. Especially when it comes to the differences in background noise. If you are used to falling asleep to late-night chatter at school, the dead quiet can be hard to fall asleep to at home. This app provides a series of calming background sounds that create the perfect white noise to send you in to a slumber, from a babbling brook to ocean waves.

3. Yoga for Insomnia. This app allows you to get your ohm on before bed. It offers a variety of yoga poses and breathing exercises which help relax you and release some of the day’s tension from your body. The app offers lessons that range from beginner all the way to advanced for those who practice outside of the bedroom.

4. Sleepmaker Rain Free. Who doesn’t become sleepy on rainy days? This app provides sounds of rain falling on different things, from gutters, to canvas, to windows with a touch of wind. Sounds peaceful, huh? All the sounds come from real rain recordings, that have been proven to help even children and infants fall asleep!

By Aisling Williams

Is It for the Long Run?

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imageIn college some relationships are just fun flings while others are in it for the long hall. Many times you know what you are getting into right from the start. However, other times, you may actually have no idea. It’s a scary and nerve wracking conversation to have with the other person. The where do we stand conversation. You know what you want them to say but is it what they themselves want to say? Well there are a few keys signs to help you try to know what is coming from this conversation. These signs help to distinguish those who will go the distance from those who just want to have fun.

1. A person who is in it for the long run won’t mind being the one to text first most of the time. The fun one will complain about it.
2. A person who is in it for the long run wants to know what you want in the future, and is willing to work your wants into theirs. A fun one won’t even bother to ask, why would it matter to them?
3. A person who is in it for the long run wants to actually talk to you. I mean know your opinions, know about your life, really get to know the real you. A fun one will only want to talk about superficial stuff like “hey, did you catch that show last night?” That’s okay sometimes but that is all they will talk about.
4. A person who is in it for the long run will know what you’re feeling or thinking even when you lie. They will know if fine doesn’t really mean fine or okay doesn’t mean you’re okay. A fun one won’t push your answer, they might not even ask the question.
5. A person who is in it for the long run will enjoy movie and dinner nights and just staying in. They will enjoy spending time with just you just hanging out. A fun one would rather go out and hook up with you at the end of the night.
6. A person who is in it for the long run will want to be seen with you: in public, with their friends, anywhere. A fun one probably will only want to be seen with you in a party scene.
7. A person who is in it for the long run will let you do funny things like steal their sweatshirts. A fun one won’t let you even stay in their room long enough to see wear the sweatshirts are.
8. A person who is in it for the long run will be honest with you, whether it is good or bad. They will tell you when you aren’t funny or even when you aren’t looking too hot. A fun one will whatever most things. Fake laugh at your not so funny jokes or say whatever to how you look.
9. A person who is in it for the long run won’t feel the need to snoop on you. They won’t look through your phone or log on your social media. They will trust you. A fun one will be constantly nervous that you are on the lookout for someone new. They will constantly be self-conscious.
10. Finally, a person who is in it for the long run will not be surprised by this “Where are we?” conversation. They will be relieved and make it easy. A fun one will be shocked and brush it off as if it means nothing and never happened.

While these signs are not the end all be all to if you are in it for fun or for a long-term deal, they are some signals that may get you thinking. This way when you go to have the “What is this?” conversation you can have an idea of what is coming. You will have an idea of what to expect.

By Samantha Breault

End The Trend Of Woman On Woman Hate

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While perusing the latest posts on Thought Catalog, I came across one that stuck with me. Entitled “29 Worst Things About Being Female” by Alexandra Venema, Venema considers some of the issues that women face today that seemingly men don’t have to worry about. Her first reason, the “lack of camaraderie between women,” really stuck with me.

Why is it that men seem to have no issue being friends with each other while women just can’t? Competition seems to be the root of the problem here. Men, competitive by nature tend to keep it to sports. Do they get insecure about their appearances and/or body sometimes? Of course! However, that insecurity usually isn’t translated into treating their peers, or even their friends, like they’re less than they are. While with women, it’s typical to hear hateful comments on the regular that stem from jealousy, even among close friends.

From young ages, girls are taught that how much people like you and how successful you are in life is directly correlated to how good-looking you are. That reason alone is enough to figure out why so many women hate on other women just for being up to a certain standard of beauty. It’s not uncommon to hear girls ripping apart other girls verbally just for being pretty.

Now that I’m done pointing out the obvious, I’ll let you in on my concern. In a world so up-and-coming in the department of equal rights for women, women should be more open and forgiving with one another. When it comes down to problems such as being paid more or issues regarding sexism, men can’t and won’t understand what we’re going through. While they can be helpful in our pursuit, they aren’t the answer. If our goal is to be treated as equally as the men in our lives, we need to take a cue from them and the way they handle their relationships with each other.

Instead of hating on the woman who looks good in that dress you almost bought but didn’t, tell her she looks good in it. Making little steps such as this will definitely reduce some of the drama that our gender is known for. Some of the best relationships I have are with women and I know that if they were replaced with a man, while they might still be fulfilling and meaningful, they wouldn’t be as honest as they are right now. Women relate to women on levels that opposite sexes just can’t. Next time you find yourself letting jealousy ruin your perception you thought was nice regardless of your newfound insecurities, take a step back and realize that she probably has insecurities too and you wouldn’t want to be disliked for that. Again with golden rule, treat others as you want to be treated.

By Casie Popkin

Your Brain on Blackout

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As we return from spring break, comparing tan lines and swapping stories, we remember some days and nights better than others. Oops. Those foggier memories may come from times where we had just a few too many, and caused us to black out for a small, or large, period of time. Regardless of what happened during the blackout, why do we have them?

Scientists believe blacking out is a form of amnesia that occurs, blocking us from forming long-term memories. That means during your time of blackout, you may remember something that happened five minutes ago,which is logged away in your short-term memory, but you certainly won’t remember it in the morning. Yikes!

This “amnesia” is caused by a domino effect. When our blood alcohol spikes, usually right after those consecutive tequila shots, it interferes with the receptors in the hippocampus, the area of the brain largely associated with memory. The hippocampus releases a chemical normally called glutamate that transfers signals between neurons. Alcohol prevents these signals from transferring, and activates other receptors. As a result, the neurons create steroids that fully prevent neurons from communicating with one another, blocking the process of long-term potentiation, a process needed for memory and learning.

Thus we can’t create new memories, but most of our normal functioning continues, like walking, and talking(or slurring). This means you could have partaken in all of the activities that occurred at the beach party, you just don’t remember them. Which is probably the scariest part.

The only way to avoid blackouts is by drinking on a fuller stomach, or drinking slower. Also, women’s levels of blood alcohol tend to spike more quickly than men’s, as we have less water in our system and less of an enzyme that breaks down alcohol. Not good. When you go to grab for that third tequila shot, keep this is mind.

By Aisling Williams

Healthy or Hazardous? : 3 Things We Once Thought Were Healthy

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Over the years, many there have been many products advocated that initially were deemed healthy, but then turned out to be just the opposite. We have been in this vicious cycle for years, as new things are discovered daily. Well, here are three items that historically were viewed as healthy at first, but now are seen as dangerous for our bodies.

  1. Cigarettes. Back in the day, these were quite the ticket item. They even had the endorsement of doctors, if you can believe that. Tobacco companies were behind physicians advocacy, like Lucky Strike who schemed with advertising executives. The companies knew that in those days (the 1920’s), people put full trust in their doctors. In the 1930’s health concerns about the product arose, the companies took greater action by actually having doctors featured in ads for cigarettes. It wasn’t until 1964 that the Surgeon General’s Warning first came on to cigarette packages linking them to cancer.
  1. Cocaine. Cocaine is one of the oldest stimulants on the market to date, which actually came from natural origins. The drug is derived from the coca leaf, which used to be chewed by Peruvian tribes during religious ceremonies. It was advocated by Hollywood celebrities in the early 1900’s who believed it to be a miracle drug. Sigmund Freud also endorsed cocaine largely, believing the drug could cure sexual impotence and depression. Turns out, it does just the opposite. The stimulant causes such a high that a person coming off of it can easily slip in to a depression, which naturally makes them crave the drug.
  1. Soda. Despite its negative connotations now, soda was also viewed to possess health benefits during its introduction. In the early 1800’s, pharmacists added herbs and medicines to the product and sold them as a health drink. Ginger ale was first sold in 1851 in Ireland. Then cola came around thirty years later, becoming a national symbol for America. These days, we know that soda is linked to diabetes and obesity, as well as certain types of cancer.

By Aisling Williams

Easy Exercises For Spring Break Abs

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In two weeks this campus will be basically empty for spring break. Going back to New Jersey doesn’t really give me any bikini time, but just because I’m unlucky doesn’t mean all of you are! Some of you will go home where it’s warm and some of you will go on vacation. Here are some easy exercises for spring break abs.

1. Bicycle Crunches: Lie face-up on the ground or a mat of your choice with your hands behind your head, supporting it. Start to bring your right elbow to your abdomen along with your left leg. Replace and repeat with your left elbow and your right leg. That’s one. Do three sets of sixteen.

2. Plank: Start with your face toward the ground, resting on your forearms and your palms flat. Push off onto your toes and ball your palms into fists, but keep your forearms on the ground, all shoulder-width apart. Make sure your back remains flat and your butt doesn’t stick into the air. Hold for sixty seconds. Do five sets.

If you are at a gym or have equipment available to you, adding a regular exercise ball to crunches can be very effective. Standing on a bosu ball while doing squats also engages your core because of how hard it can be to balance.

By Casie Popkin

The “Munchies” Unmasked

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Whether you’ve said it out loud or not, you’ve always wondered it—what causes the munchies? With more states progressively legalizing marijuana, the question is becoming all the more relevant. Studies have recently uncovered the true science behind it.

Let’s begin with hunger. Our hunger is regulated by two hormones, ghrelin and leptin. The chemicals usually secrete from fat cells that then are sent to our brain’s hypothalamus, where it is processed as “hungry” or “full”. However, a recent study completed by European neuroscientists uncovered the answer to the fundamental question. When marijuana is smoked, the chemical THC is what effects our brain and feelings. Apparently their study proved that THC actually attaches to the brain’s olfactory bulb, a sector of the brain designated for any smell sensation.

So why does it make you hungry?

The brain already has a built-in set of receptors known as endocannabinoids, which control appetite amongst a slew of other sensations. The chemical THC intensifies those receptors, fitting in to our normal neural pathway and amping up the drive for hunger largely. Since the feeling hits the mecca of our sensations, we are bound to want to eat, regardless of whether we are hungry or not.

The scientists concluded that THC mediates our hunger through amplifying our reaction to smell, regardless of whether our body is actually hungry or not.

Guess that’s why they call it the munchies

By Aisling Williams

Is Paleo Right for You?

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I’m very into health and nutrition and have certainly heard of the Paleo Diet. But I was never clear on what it exactly is. If you’re just as curious as I was, read what I am about to share with you about this healthful diet.

The Paleo Diet is based on eating wholefoods from the groups our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have thrived on during the Paleolithic era. There is a long list of foods acceptable on this diet, but this is not simply another diet, it’s a new lifestyle to grasp. You really have to pay attention to everything you put into your body and consciously think about your decisions. The Paleo approved list:

  • Fresh meats (generally grass-fed or organically raised without hormones or antibiotics are preferred)
  • Wild-caught seafood
  • Fresh fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Seeds
  • Raw nuts
  • Healthy oils (olive, coconut, avocado, macadamia, walnut and flaxseeds)

Foods not acceptable on this diet:

  • Dairy products
  • Cereal grains
  • Legumes
  • Refined sugars
  • Processed foods
  • Starches (no white potatoes, but sweet are fine)

Our ancestors didn’t’ consume any of the above foods and lived a very healthful life, which means that this diet is likely extremely beneficial to us. There are diseases this diet is known to potentially fight off: obesity, cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis), type 2 diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis, acne, eye problems, Gout, varicose veins.

So if you’re seriously considering trying a Paleo Diet, definitely do your research and thoroughly plan your shopping list. A good book on the Paleolithic Diet do’s and don’ts could always come in handy, too.

By: Sarah Richheimer

You May Want To Write This Down

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These days, note taking in our classes is mainly done on laptops, with notebooks few and far between. It’s quicker and more organized, right? Though it may allow for more organized and neat notes that can be shared among classmates with ease, laptops may not be the best choice for an academic setting.

Studies have shown that students who still use pen and paper to record class notes have a better memory as well as an easier time retaining and understanding concepts. So, for those of you whom prefer the old-fashioned way of note taking, it may be helping your academic performance!

The study was done after it was reported that over 50 percent of college students use their laptops in class for note taking at least once a week.

The first study had a group of college students listen to two lectures, taking notes in the way they normally would. They were then tested on the material covered in the two lectures, a half hour later. The findings showed that both groups of students could memorize the same amount of facts, but those who took handwritten notes greatly outperformed the laptop users when they were tested on ideas. Why? Scientists believe that those who typed their notes took notes verbatim, which affected their learning negatively.

Then, a second group of students were tested given the same scenario, but instead were tested on the material a week later, giving them time to review. The students who hand wrote their notes still performed significantly better than those who typed theirs. Those who typed were even suggested to not to note take word for word, and yet they still did. Scientists think that typing your notes triggers more mindless processing, where handwriting them allows students to think beyond just listening and writing.

So, perhaps dust off that old notebook that you bought freshman year and never ended up using. It could have greater use than you think.

By Aisling Williams

Feel Summer-Level Energy, Even When It’s Below Zero

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I previously posted about the effect of S.A.D, or Season Affective Disorder. Right now, when it’s almost spring, but we know nothing warmer than 40 degrees is making its way to Syracuse, it can be kind of hard to not only walk all over campus to class, but to get out of bed. Being cold makes us irritable and definitely more tired. Ever notice how you seem to get cold when you get sleepy enough to nap? Yeah. Me too.

Well, here are some ways to get your energy up even when the temperatures are very, very low.

1. Walking from class to class in the cold might not be your idea of fun, but have you ever noticed how awake you are when you finally reach your destination? That’s right. Simply walking for ten minutes a day can give you up to two hours of extra energy.

2. Next time you’re sitting in the library feeling like you might doze off, pull up a funny video instead. Laughing wakes you up while letting you stay comfortable, instead of making you drowsy.

3. Need an extra boost before you head out for class? Pour some chia seeds into your morning yogurt. Chia seeds are packed with Vitamin B, fiber, and protein, which are all good for an energy and good for your diet!

By Casie Popkin

8 Valentine’s Day Ideas

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It’s almost that time of year again, where if you’re single, you want the day to disappear, and if you’re coupled off, you can’t wait. Its Valentines Day — the holiday of love.

If you’re sick of the same old same old, try to get your man to do one of these ideas:

Reenact your first date: Throwback to your first date. Eat at the same restaurant and order the same food. Go back to where the love began!

Get Physical: Not “that” physical. This type of physical could be going to an amusement park, going water skiing or tubing. When you get those endorphins flowing, it’s proven to leave you both in loving moods.

Go for a massage: What woman would ever turn down a massage? None. Booking a couples massage would make both of you less tense, relaxed and set the mood just right for the day.

Be homebodies: Just chill at home together with no distractions: no phones, computers or answering the doors. Just you and your man with some peace and quiet–even order in some pizza and just enjoy the day.

24 hours of chocolate: Chocolate is the typical V-Day sweet. And there is nothing wrong with that. But have some fun with it; take your woman out to a few different dessert places and pick fun chocolate options at each! Show her your sweetness all day long.

Get away: If money allows, go on a weekend getaway or even a night away, somewhere far, far away. Make sure to give your girl options of places you’re thinking about going to so she can take time off of work.

Dress up: Make a dinner reservation somewhere nice and fancy—so that you and your woman can dress up. Dressing up always makes the time together special and you both look good!

Cook her dinner: Make the day all about her. Make her breakfast in bed, give the roses and heart shaped chocolate, cook her a nice dinner with some candles. Show your love and appreciation for her.

By Sarah Richheimer

How To Get Rid Of Cramps Without Pain Medication

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Being a girl sucks. Not only do we have to deal with the looming future of motherhood – should you decide that’s what you want – but we also have to deal with monthly periods until we’re in our 50s. Along with all the nasty things that come along with Mother Nature’s gift, some girls get cramps. These cramps can be minor, the kind that go away if you move your body in a different position, or they can be so painful that they’re physically exhausting and when the pain subsides, all you can do as a victim to this is sleep.

Here are some ways to rid yourself of just one more way the world tries to bring us women down without taking any prescription or non-prescription pain pills;

1. Exercise. I know this probably sounds stupid. You’re in pain and you can’t even lie down comfortably, let alone go work out, but it’s true. While your body is retaining the amount of water that it does during your period, working out helps to release some of that pressure building.

2. Place a heated water bottle or pad on your abdomen. Really don’t feel like moving? Find a hot water source and lie it on your stomach or lower back. As cold helps burns, heat tends to help with soreness.

3. If all else fails, talk to your doctor about birth control. Taking a daily pill might not be your thing, but if nothing else seems to work, the pill might be your answer.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside, But You’re Losing Weight Too

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Despite the extremely cold temperatures and tons (literally) of snow, there is some good that has come from this weather. I know it’s hard to believe, but stick with me here. Studies have shown that colder temperatures may actually help you drop a few pounds, which is beneficial when you’re already wearing six layers.

How does it work?

Well, according to research done in the Netherlands, in cold temperatures our bodies produce something called brown fat. This brown fat burns heat, helping to actually eat away at white fat in our bodies, or burning energy stored from good. Naturally, this diminishes overall fat content and allows us to lose a little weight.

The study noted that those who are thinner have more brown fat than those who are overweight or elderly. Also, if our body adjusts to living in colder temperatures, our body produces more brown fat. How wonderful it is to live in a place like Syracuse!

In the study, participants were adjusted to cooler temps over time, spending an average of six hours per day in the cold for 10 days. By the end of the study, participants had more brown fat in their bodies and shivered less at 59 degrees. Students at SU would be wearing shorts in 59 degrees, just saying.

So, as you sit growling at the sight of your breath in the air every day, just think—you could be building up brown fat, and more enticing, losing weight!

By Aisling Williams

Fresh, Organic, and Local: Strong Hearts Cafe

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When I first began my journey as a freshman nutrition major from the suburbs of Philadelphia, I knew I’d be immersed in SU’s college-student food culture filled with processed, dining hall meals and junk food options available on our famous Marshall Street. I am ashamed to admit that it was not until my sophomore year that I wondered off the hill for the first time and began to search for something more. It was not only good food I was after — I was on a quest for restaurants with a cause — ones that wanted to make a statement, and ones that strive to give back to the community — a standard I was familiar with from my upbringing, and a qualification that was pertinent in my dining options at home.

Strong Hearts Café was everything I had been looking for and more. This completely vegan café not only offers an eclectic menu, ranging from curried-mixed vegetable tofu “egg” scramble for breakfast, to a winter kale salad with walnuts, sweet potatoes, and beets drizzled in a light agave and mustard dressing for lunch- both are personal favorites, but it also offers over twelve sandwich options, over forty milkshake options, and over twenty pizza options as well. And if this is not one of the biggest vegan menus you have ever seen, they also offer snacks, sides, and organic, fair trade coffee- supplied from recess coffee, another wonderful, local café, located right up the street from the E. Genesee location.

This café — from personal experience, numerous recommendations, and a variety of positive reviews — not only offers an extensive menu, but provides something more — community support. Owners Nick Ryan, a Syracuse University graduate, and Joel Capolongo, an active member in the Syracuse Animal Defense League, are both experienced, practicing vegans who stress the importance of purchasing local ingredients from central New York farmers to execute their hefty menu, as well as support their immediate community. The cafe uses zero styrofoam and plastics, as well as no meat, dairy, cholesterol, high-fructose corn-syrup, artificial sweeteners, or trans fats. The owners take care that all food waste is properly composted. Their 100 percent biodegradable and compostable food packing speaks strongly to their care for our environment, and their relationship with the local community development credit union speaks to their devotion to locality and sustainability.

Stronghearts Café is truly music to my ears, an option nutrition majors focused in food studies, like myself, can only dream to discover. This unique café should definitely be welcomed warmly to our Syracuse University campus, and frequented regularly. Eating at Stronghearts Café is an impeccable way to support your community, eat mindfully, and of course, enjoy the most delicious, environmentally friendly cuisine on campus!

By Taylor Appel

Dry Skin? An Ode To Syracuse In The Winter

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Transferring into Syracuse, I honestly had no idea what I was in for this winter. My skin had always gotten a little dry during the cold months, but considering I never walked around a campus as much as I do now, I wasn’t even remotely ready for what this place had to offer me in the ways of itchy, flaky, and red cheeks.

When putting foundation on your face is difficult and basically pointless because you can see white bits of skin regardless, here are some things to keep the moisture that the wind here can take away from you.

1. If you aren’t moisturizing now — it’s time to start. Considering the temperatures are well below freezing even when the sun’s up, that alone can dry up any moisture your skin was retaining. Add wind to that. Sometimes the wind chill here makes it feel like -40 outside. Your cheeks will thank you if you buy a good, oil free (to avoid acne) moisturizer to put on before applying any makeup.

2. Use a humidifier at night. The humidity it gives off might be enough to replenish some of the skin cells lost to the freezing temperatures outside.

3. While that acne cleanser seems to be warding off those hated blemishes, while it’s this cold out, it’s really the wind that’s doing all that work for you. Instead of using it twice a day as directed, use it only once, or every other day. Acne washes strip away your face’s natural oils and can actually make your skin more oily and/or make you a new sufferer of severely dry skin.

By Casie Popkin

Anything But Fish ‘N’ Chips: Holiday Feast

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It’s beginning to be that time again. You know the one I’m talking about: the lights go up, the Christmas music starts, and everyone starts forgetting about school to focus on their present lists. It is easily one of my favorite parts of the year, and in London, it’s even better. Every single street you stumble across has lights strewn from building to building, and every single tree is lit up and twinkling at you. Christmas markets are open and bustling with tourists from across the world, and they offer hot mulled wine to warm you up on the frosty UK nights.

But while all of the holiday magic is enchanting and heartwarming, it’s the festive food that keeps us all giddy. That is why, and I’d like to take credit for this idea, my flat decided to hold a holiday feast. We’ve done enough take out from delicious restaurants around the London area, and we wanted to prove to ourselves that we had what it took to make our own meal. The hard part was finding good recipes; we scoured Pinterest for hours finding the perfect dishes, and finally, we came across what was surely perfect for our wintery dinner.

I decided to make a vegetable side dish, and my friend Amber chose to make our main course. I cut up asparagus and sliced potatoes, tossed them in olive oil, shook on some salt and pepper, and popped the tray in the oven for 45 minutes. Afterwards I took the pan out and sprinkled over Parmesan cheese and fresh Basil. Fact: you can never have too much cheese.

Amber took an equally tasty route by cooking brown rice, chicken, and sunflower seeds in a pan. Then she tossed in some goat cheese at the end and mixed the entire pan together. It was scrumptious! It was absolutely incredible, and we proved that we can make our own lovely London meal! I’ll definitely be bringing some of these recipes back to the US.

I can’t wait for my next meal, I’ll eat ANYTHING but fish ‘n chips!

By Lara Gould

Anything But Fish ‘N’ Chips: Churchill Arms

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It’s actually impressive that I’ve managed to go this long without raving about my favorite discovery in London: Churchill Arms. “Wait!” You exclaim, “That’s not a food!” Ah, but that’s where you’re completely right: it’s an experience. It’s an adorable little pub that my friend and I stumbled across a few months ago. Tucked back on a tiny side street off the Notting Hill Tube stop is the most charming eating establishment I have ever seen. From the outside, you can already tell that Churchill Arms is a wonderland. It is completely covered in winding vines, glowing lights, and bright, blooming flowers even in the shivering cold winter nights.

Enter into the pub, and you’re equally as impressed. The pub is dimly lit, and there’s a warm, flickering fire in the corner. Being as it’s nippy outside, grabbing a mulled wine, cider, or even a red wine (anti-oxidant rich!) is always a good choice. But it’s not just the appearance of this pub that keeps me coming back week after week; it’s their green chicken curry that has my heart. I personally have never been a huge curry lover. I don’t know why, I think it’s because I wasn’t introduced to it until recently. But let me tell you, it’s heavenly.

The curry comes out in a very simple bowl, with a serving of rice on the side so you get to choose how much you would like to mix into the flavorful broth. The curry itself is made with a coconut milk, so it’s not too heavy. But it has an unbelievable kick to it that keeps you reaching for your water multiple times during the meal. Inside the comforting hug of broth is tender chicken, peas, cabbage, roasted peppers, spinach, and a variety of other vegetables. They are all perfectly cooked and placed together for a harmonious blend of flavor in every bite. I am actually sad that my words don’t do it justice. After my first time going, I have been returning at least once a week just to pay tribute to this wonderfully happy place.

When I leave England, Churchill Arms and it’s drool-enhancing curry are one of the things I will miss the most.

I can’t wait until my next meal, I’ll eat ANYTHING but fish and chips!

Microwave Meltdown: Is Your Food Losing Nutrients?

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The microwave is no stranger to convenient cooking. There is no doubt that microwaves have changed the pace of preparing a meal for people across the globe, and with the continual advances in technology, our lives seem to rely on fast paced mechanics now more than ever.

The harsh truth is that heat damages a percentage of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes in certain foods. Recent studies by Dr. Ed Bauman, founder of Bauman College, have shown that microwaving food has a greater impact on the percentage of these damaged nutrients than boiling on a stovetop.

Bauman’s results show some astonishingly disturbing results:

-Broccoli that is heated in the microwave with water lost up to 97% of its antioxidants
-Garlic’s active nutrient that aids in fighting cancer and other diseases, allinase, is destroyed when heated in the microwave for 1 minute
-Most vegetables lose up to 90% of their nutrient value including vital vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes because they are destroyed in microwaving cooking, while steaming on a stove only destroys up to 11% of the nutrients
-Microwaving creates radiolytic compounds that are not researched enough to know what they do to our bodies, but they are definitely not health-promoting and are most likely detrimental to our overall health

The best solution to these problems is to eat organic, raw vegetables and to add flavor to them without the addition of microwave heat. For example, dip vegetables in peanut butter, reduced fat ranch dressing, or reduced fat cream cheese, in which Philadelphia cream cheese now has delicious flavors such as Chipotle, Protein Honey, Garlic and Herb, and Pumpkin Spice. Just remember, moderation is key to a balanced diet. If you do have a stove and the time to steam your vegetables, then it is best to choose that option when it is available to you. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over any type of vegetable with a pinch of salt and pepper to make for the perfect side dish or snack.

There is also a tremendous amount of recipes for vegetable side dishes on FoodNetwork.com that are simple. Just click on the “Quick and Easy” tab on the top of the Food Network’s homepage, and then the “Side Dishes” tab in the middle of that webpage. You will be introduced to many no-microwave, easy, side dish recipe options to add to a plethora of meals.