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is-coffee-good-for-you
Health

Is Coffee Good For You?

Ah, coffee. My pride and joy — the reason I get out of bed. But, what if it’s actually causing you to stay out of bed, even when you need to wake up in, say, a mere five hours? We’ve heard back-and-forth banter about whether or not it’s a myth that coffee is good for you and offers a whole array of health benefits. The other day I heard a couple conversing, and one asked, “Is coffee good for you? It can’t be, right?” Wrong!

The health impacts of coffee have long been a controversial topic, as there are two sides to every story. Pro-coffee connoisseurs promote coffee’s antioxidants, while those on the other side name the downsides, such as insomnia, increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Fear not: drinking coffee may be healthier for you than you thought. Well, it all comes down to what’s in your coffee, how much you drink, and when you drink it. Let’s break it down.

Three to Five Cups A Day: A-Okay!

Grab that java! A study of 25,000 participants in South Korea found that moderate daily consumption of coffee, or three to five cups, is correlated with a decreased risk for coronary artery calcium. The middle of the ground, four cups of coffee, was also found to reduce one’s risk of melanoma, a very dangerous form of skin cancer. A high amount of coffee consumption, or four to six cups a day, reduced coffee-sippers risks of getting multiple sclerosis (MS).

Before you start downing your fifth cup today, be sure to drop the cream and sugar. Drinking coffee with a loaded amount of cream and sugar and calling it “healthy” is the equivalent to deep frying potatoes and calling it healthy. (French fries for health!) If you can’t stand drinking completely black coffee, opt for a little bit of cream and a little bit of sugar. Just keep it to a minimum and be sure to choose all-natural sugar as opposed to artificial sweeteners.

Proven to Reduce Depression

Many studies conducted have linked coffee consumption to lower rates of depression in both men and women.  In several studies, the data suggested a relationship between coffee consumption and depression: in other words, heavy coffee drinkers seemed to have the lowest risk (up to 20 percent) of depression.

Lessening Your Risk of Type II Diabetes

A study from the Archives of Internal Medicine shows those who consumed six or more cups of coffee a day had a 22% lower risk of diabetes. A review of research conducted by Harvard’s Dr. Frank Hu showed that the risk of type II diabetes decreases by 9% for each daily cup of coffee consumed.

Your Liver on Coffee…

Aside from actually lowering the risk of liver cancer, coffee consumption has also been linked to a lower incidence of cirrhosis of the liver. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed an inverse relationship between increased coffee consumption and a decreased risk of cirrhosis, or a 20 percent reduction for each cup consumed (when consumed up to four cups).

Grab Decaf after 2 P.M.

We all know coffee is a stimulant just like soda, energy drinks, and some teas — that’s why we enjoy drinking it so much to stay alert. But be sure to keep an eye on the clock when you’re going for that afternoon coffee as you should stop drinking coffee about ten hours before you go to bed to reduce any sleeping issues. (No one likes waking up in the morning exhausted; it affects performance, happiness, and alertness.)

So, Is Coffee Good For You?

If you keep it to a minimum, drink your coffee in its (mostly) pure form, and watch the clock, you can see the many health benefits of consuming coffee. Just remember, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, try and reduce your caffeine consumption even more.

What’s your go-to caffeine kick? Or, do you prefer the au-natural boosts of sleeping a good 8 hours a night?

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

list of healthy foods
Health

You Need This List of Healthy Foods in Your Fridge

I recently wrote an article for Lifehack on the 20 healthy foods everyone should keep in their fridge. (Hint: You can have your peanut butter and eat it too!)

Here’s a little teaser of the top five:

1. Eggs

eggs-healthy-breakfast

Eggs are an excellent breakfast choice and are a go-to source of high-quality protein, nutrients and vitamins. If you’re in a hurry or relaxing at home, eggs are a great way to enjoy your breakfast without feeling bloated or unhealthy. (Sorry waffles!!)

Plus, they’re inexpensive and filling. If you like a sweeter version, I like to add a dash of cinnamon and vanilla extract to my scrambled eggs! (Like French toast without the bread and sugar!)

2. Chicken and Lean Meat

chicken-healthy-dinner

What is considered “lean meat”? Lean meats are relatively low in fat and are usually skinless. Chicken and other lean meats are essential healthy foods to keep around as they can make a main course pop with just the right ingredients. In a pinch, mix chicken, stir-fried veggies, and soy sauce for a healthier version of take-out.

3. Apples

healthiest-foods-for-your-fridge

What better breakfast, snack, or dessert than a succulent, crisp apple? Not only are apples fiber-laden, but they’re great for helping people lose weight. Try slicing an apple up and tossing it in your morning oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon. You can find a ton of creative recipes, or enjoy them straight out of the fridge!

4. Yogurt

greek yogurt-healthy-foods

Now, before you grab that 200-calorie topping-heavy yogurt with loaded sugars (artificial or not), stop! The best type of yogurt to eat is plain Greek yogurt with added toppings like fruit, nuts, seeds, or a drizzle of honey. (Greek yogurt also makes a great substitution for mayo in chicken salad!) Greek yogurt makes for a satisfying dessert, breakfast, snack — or even dinner!

5. Cheese

cheese-healthy-food

Cheese lovers, rejoice! Yes, cheese can be a healthy food! You just have to watch your proportions. Low-fat, part-skim string cheese and shredded cheeses are a delicious addition that can add a huge flavor punch to many recipes or on their own (String cheese is my go-to lunch snack; I’m still a child at heart!). Just be sure to eat sparingly — (I know, it’s hard) as cheese can add a lot of fat and sodium to your diet before you can even think to drop the cracker. Treat yourself to a better-quality cheese so you’ll not feel the urge to overindulge.

Check out the list of all twenty here!

 

What kinds of sushi are healthy?
Health

Is Sushi Healthy?

What kinds of sushi are healthy?

If you asked me what my ideal last meal would be? I would probably say California rolls. (Either that or a honeygrow salad. But I’ll take a muffin too!) I used to assume sushi had tons of health benefits, regardless of its ingredients. In fact, I was wondering the other day, “Is sushi healthy? Is this just something I’ve been assuming, yet I’ve been wrong?”

There are few things I enjoy more in than eating high-quality sushi that you know is freshly made. To best completely honest, I rarely stray far from the cooked and vegetable sushi options. I know that some people swear by the raw rolls (and that I’m not eating “official” sushi when the fish is cooked), but hey, I enjoy it nonetheless.

A few weeks ago, I was eating a set of California rolls when I discovered that the crab I was eating was actually imitation. (I received a whole lot of, “You didn’t know that?! from friends). No, I assumed crab was crab, and only the supermarkets sold the “imitation” version.

Well, what exactly is imitation crab? The crab sushi restaurants use is actually called “surimi,” which means ground meat. (Gulp.) Surimi is a combination of different kinds of fish, often added with starch,  sodium, and artificial flavors. (Double gulp.)

I stopped eating and thought: “Well then, if I’m eating the equivalent of a Lunchable, then I guess this isn’t actually healthy?”

Well, it all depends! Luckily, you have the option of asking for real crab instead of imitation crab. It costs a little bit more, but wouldn’t you rather enjoy the health (and taste) benefits of real crab?

On the other hand, if you’re eating deep-fried shrimp tempura or sushi loaded with mayo and cream cheese, then you’re not enjoying the many health benefits of other kinds of low-fat, protein-filled sushis. Many sushi rolls are considered healthy foods and are a great source of omega-3 fat (the healthy kind of fat) and other vitamins and minerals.

To enjoy all the healthy benefits of sushi, make these substitutes when choosing your rolls:

Brown Rice Over White Rice

I cannot stress this enough! I personally find brown rice to be more satisfying, filling, and tasty than white rice, which is just brown rice that’s zapped of its nutrients. (Yeah, not satisfying.) Whole grain brown rice is packed with fiber, so it’s great for your digestive system. It keeps you full and satisfied, so you’re not craving fried ice cream afterwards. Unless specified, sushi comes with traditional white rice, so don’t forget to ask for brown rice!

If you don’t want a huge portion of rice interfering with the flavor, you can request half the rice. (Yes, you can do that, as well. Remember, it’s made fresh, so you can custom order.) If you really don’t want any rice, opt for sashimi, or plain, raw fish without rice. If you prefer cooked or vegetable rolls, you can also opt for nori, which is dried seaweed, wrapped around your filling. Nori is packed with fiber, protein, and a number of vitamins, making your sushi even healthier.

Wasabi Over Mayo (And Other Sauces)

Wasabi, the little green paste on the side of your dish (which is actually really just a combination of horseradish powder and mustard — it’s rare to find actual “wasabi” in America) packs a loaded spicy punch to your sushi. And — it’s healthy!

Like spicy? Well ordering a set of “spicy tuna rolls” is unfortunately taking a perfectly healthy food (tuna) and pairing it with unhealthy sauces (calorie-packed heavy spicy mayo) and then deep-frying it. Doesn’t sound like traditional sushi to me.

Why take away the flavor of the tuna by adding an everyday condiment anyway? (Can you even taste the tuna?)  If you’re not too keen on spicy, you can also get a roll filled with avocado, which offers additional flavor, taste, and added vitamins. (Or — try some ginger, the pink side that you’re also offered with your sushi. It’s great for digestion!)

Vegetables Rolls Over Seafood Rolls

I know, maybe you’re thinking, “Why would I eat vegetable rolls when I get sushi?” but vegetable rolls are just as delicious. Plus, eating vegetable rolls is a great way of incorporating more veggies to your diet. (I didn’t say you couldn’t also order a set of seafood rolls! Just don’t order an excessive amount.) I love avocado and squash rolls, or just ordinary veggie rolls, which are filled with nutritious nori, cucumber, carrots, avocado, and occasionally, squash. (Many vegetable rolls include “sea vegetables,” or, yes, vegetables from the sea, which are a powerful healing food and are delicious). Go for the perfect balance when choosing your rolls. You won’t be disappointed!

Tuna Over Tempura

I told you that you could have your seafood as well and still enjoy it raw! Tuna is a very healthy fish, which is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which can actually reduce abdominal weight. So yes, fatty fish is good for you, too, as it contains unsaturated fat, which boosts brainpower and protects your heart. (Got a test coming up? Eat some tuna.)

On the other hand, tempura is a code word for “fried,” which will actually increase your risk of heart disease. (And it sure isn’t brain food.) Plus, do you really need fried batter for your sushi to taste great? It’s not a doughnut!

Less Over More

When it comes to sushi, less is more. If you’re a chopstick novice, practice perfecting your chopsticks to enjoy your rolls at a slower pace. Don’t down a set of rolls before you actually taste the fresh ingredients. A typical serving size is one set of rolls (about six pieces), so don’t go crazy and order everything on the menu (and then dessert). Still hungry? Try a green salad with delicious ginger sauce, or a bowl of miso soup, which has less than 75 calories and offers a powerful kick of nutrients. Avoid added ingredients and unnecessary sauces when you can eat and enjoy traditional sushi — minus the calories.

So, yes, you can eat sushi as a healthy lunch or dinner, but don’t forget to be smart when ordering. (Sorry, Philly, but I’ll skip the cream cheese.)

So is sushi healthy?

You can enjoy the simplicity of seafood and vegetables without adding a thick batter, deep-frying, or adding gratuitous sauce when you don’t even need it! So, if you find yourself asking, “Is sushi healthy?” Yes and no. Just be smart about your roll of choice!

What’s your favorite sushi roll? Leave me a comment below!

 

Berries in your Yogurt for a Healthy Swap
Health

How To Get Healthy with 5 Easy Swaps

I love a good meal, especially after a long day at work, or even, a busy morning at the office. In all honesty, I probably think about my next meal far too often, which is why I always keep some healthy snacks around my apartment (and loads of peanut butter). I love comfort foods, but I love making simple food swaps to make my go-to meal a healthier, more satisfying choice.

Whether I’m cooking dinner, making lunch, or throwing together a breakfast, I don’t skim on the nutrients (no matter how tired I am). With empty calories, I end up feeling really full, then feeling very hungry within a few hours. (Sorry, pancakes — I’m talking to you.) When it comes to eating well, I try and pack lunch as often as I can, so I don’t feel starving by the time I realize I should actually eat lunch.

Crazy as it may seem, I’ve never actually eaten a cheesesteak in my life (and yes, I live in Philly). Once I tried a nibble of my brother’s and couldn’t even finish it. I know, I’m crazy. When I make my own homemade meals, I do not sacrifice taste. I don’t make a big bowl of plain oatmeal pretending I’m in heaven, but I just don’t sit around eating sugar-laden oatmeal either.

Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland, boring, or just plain, tasteless.

When it comes to choosing the right foods, I find the perfect balance.

Avocado instead of Mayonnaise

Avocado instead of Mayonaise

I am a passionate avocado advocate. Whether I’m eating it as guacamole (I’ll pay extra, I get it), as mousse (yes, it exists), or as a sandwich spread, you can find this staple in my fridge far too often. Packed with potassium and fiber,  these fruits (yes they are fruits) are good-to-eat even on their own.

Avocado can also be used as an alternative to calorie-laden spreads, such as mayonnaise. As opposed to avocado, mayonnaise is actually packed with sodium, calories, and cholesterol. Mayonnaise all-too-often gives your sandwich a bad (w)rap, no matter how many hearty vegetables you packed in. Yes, avocado does has fat, but it’s heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

Did you know an entire avocado has only 14 mg of sodium, and only two tablespoons of mayonnaise has nearly 200 mg?

Instead of piling a heavy heaping of mayo on your sandwich, try cutting up and mashing 1/4th of an avocado and spread it on your sandwich. Not only is it delicious, but it’s good for you, and it makes your sandwich a whole lot healthier (and tastier!)

Mayonnaise: barely any nutrients. (For no nutrients, I’d rather eat an ounce of chocolate!) Avocado: lots of nutrients. I think the winner of the battle is evident.

Spinach Instead of Iceberg Lettuce

Spinach vs. Lettuce

You may think choosing any green for your salad is acceptable and healthy, but don’t be fooled. In fact, iceberg lettuce doesn’t claim much on the nutritional field. On the other hand, another popular salad green, spinach, is packed with vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. At only seven calories a cup, spinach provides 56% of your daily intake of Vitamin A.

Iceberg lettuce, on the other hand, only provides you with 10% of your daily intake. Talk about a wilted leaf. For a simple healthy swap, add spinach to your omelets, pasta dishes, and even your pizza. (Just try and make it thin-crust)

Turkey Burgers Instead of Hamburgers

Turkey burgers in lieu of hamburgers

 

Got beef with turkey? Some people assume I’m a vegetarian because I only eat poultry and avoid red meat. I was raised on chicken and turkey, so red meat was never really in my house. I’ve never had a cheesesteak before and I live in Philly. (I know, I’m crazy.) I still eat burgers — just made from turkey.

Three ounces of 85% lean ground beef actually has 75 mg of cholesterol. Ouch.

Luckily, you can substitute your beef with healthier, lower calorie and lower fat meats, like turkey or chicken.

I found a great turkey burger recipe that I try and make at least once a week. I personally love adding a little bit of guacamole (avocado, again), greens, and I’m super satisfied with my meal. Even if you love red meat, you should give turkey burgers a try!

Cheese and Apple Slices Instead of Cheese and Crackers

Healthier swaps: apples and cheese

Choose crunchy apples and low-fat cheese over overly-processed crackers with cheese. I love cheese, so I’ll never condone it (in smaller quantities). Instead, I find a healthier food to complement it, in lieu of overly salted crackers. (To be honest: I rarely add salt to any of my foods — unless it’s Brussels sprouts.)

Apples and cheese is actually one of my favorite snacks. As you can tell from my previous post, I love apples, and I usually eat them before I can even cook dishes with them. I’ve never really loved the combination of apples and peanut butter, but I really find the salty-sweet combination of apples and cheese to be really mouth-watering.

When I pick a cheese, I try and stick with a lower-calorie and lower-in-fat variety, like part-skim mozzarella, which only has about 70 calories per ounce,  or feta cheese, which only has about 75 calories an ounce. You can have your cheese and eat it too.

Plain Greek Yogurt instead of Flavored Greek Yogurt

 

Plain yogurt doesn't know plain taste

Plain doesn’t mean bland! No, you don’t have to give up taste and flavor by getting rid of your favorite fruit-flavored yogurt.  Instead, make your plain yogurt actually “fruit-flavored” and adding fresh fruit, like strawberries, blueberries, and adding a nice crunch, like almonds or other nuts. It tastes so much better than artificially sweetened “fruit” in your yogurt, but it’s a great way to add some fruit to your diet.

 

What’s your favorite simple food swap? Leave me a comment below, or let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

 

 

Clean eats for Monday
Health

How to Avoid a Manic Monday (Brain Food Included)

 

Chicken and broccoli Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be….

Ok, so no one really likes  Mondays, especially when you have a fun-filled weekend. It’s not like we can’t tolerate them, though, with a little brain food.

I like to prepare my meals to bring to work (most days) because it not only saves me money, but it also makes me feel healthier, knowing what exactly I’m eating.

That being said, I don’t really like spending my weeknights cooking for the week, so I’ll try and make food for the first few days of my work-week on Sunday, when I have free time. I have a few go-to favorites, but I really love incorporating chicken in most dishes. It’s a great lean protein with vitamins and minerals (which is super necessary to stay focused). I don’t know about you, but I feel beyond sluggish after eating foods with few nutrients and lots of oil, like fries.

I also love eating pasta, but who doesn’t? One of my favorite recipes is sautéed pasta with broccoli, but I love adding a protein and swapping the white pasta for whole wheat pasta.

Chicken, broccoli and whole what pasta (with marinara sauce) is one of my favorite foods because it’s not only easy to make but it’s nutritious and satisfying. It’s packed with protein, a vegetable (with nearly as much vitamin C as an orange), and a satisfying whole grain carb. In fact, I make this meal too often, and I may have mentioned it before on social media before, *cough Instagram cough.*

I like to cook my chicken on a George Foreman 2 serving classic plate grill because it takes about 1/4th of the time that it takes if I were to cook it in the oven (plus it tastes smoky and flavorful), but if you have another ninja way of cooking, then go for it!

Recipe for Chicken, Broccoli and Bowtie Pasta 

(Serves 4, or maybe less, depending on how hungry you are)

Ingredients 

-4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I’ll buy Perdue or whatever I can find that is organic!)

-2 cups of baby broccoli florets (I just frozen Birds Eye because I can buy in bulk and save it)

-8 ounces of whole wheat bowtie pasta (I use Delallo)

-Grated Parmesan Cheese

-Salt and pepper to taste

-Spices to taste (I like using McCormick’s Southwest “Sweet and Smoky“)

-Pasta sauce (I usually just eye-ball the amount, but I always make sure to buy the sugar-free sauces. Yes, some sauces have added sugar in them.)

Directions

-In one pot, boil water on the stove, and cook the pasta accordingly

-In a separate pot, boil water for the broccoli and cook for 5-6 minutes

-Spray your George Foreman grill with non-stick cooking spray

-Preheat the grill for several minutes, and season your chicken breasts with spices and salt and pepper

-Place chicken breasts on the grill, cover it, and cook for 3-5 minutes (until the juices run clear)

-Heat up pasta sauce in a pan for several minutes (just before it boils)

-Combine your cooked pasta, broccoli and chicken, pasta sauce, and serve with garnished Parmesan cheese and additional spices. Enjoy!

I’ll get about three tupperware containers out of the above portions since I’ll eat it for dinner as well.

After I eat this as my Sunday meal, I’ll put some in a tupperware container to be my savior come Monday at noon. When my stomach starts to growl, I won’t have to reach for the first fast food meal I can find!

Have any cooking suggestions? Leave me a comment!

Maura Lieberman Fashion Blog
Beauty, Fashion, Health

Why I Started a Style Blog

Who am I? Maura

What is this? My own personal blog, encompassing fashion, health, and beauty.

When? Now, whatever time it may be..

Where? Usually somewhere in Philly, (or down the rabbit hole)

Why? Because I spend so much time reading blogs and not writing my own ideas down!

So I made the blog leap. I’ve dabbled in having blogs before, but I never really went very far with them. I blogged when I studied abroad in Paris, I blogged when I wanted to post some of my writing, and I blogged when I needed to express how badly I needed to start doing yoga again. (Someday…)

I blogged for myself. I blogged for my family. I blogged for my friends.

I made a blog to discuss my love of fashion, beauty, and health. The result? “Reconstyles.” This blog is an outlet comprised of my favorite beauty products, natural recipes, and favorite fashion pieces. I want to  bring together my love of healthy foods, DIY natural beauty products, fashion, and make-up.

I am happiest (and feeling my best) when I make my own meals using ingredients of known origins. My love of wellness started when I first interned with a raw food author, and I was hooked ever since. From there came my love of DIY natural beauty products, timeless clothing pieces, and living a relaxed lifestyle.

I want fashion, beauty, and health to coexist.

I believe in natural beauty, simplicity, and a style that never gets outdated. Confidence starts from within, and I’m here to express myself, whether through concocting a face exfoliator using nothing but coffee grounds and olive oil, or finding recipes that are great for my body and wallet.

Style is about more than what you wear. Style is what makes your inner self visible, and that starts with healthy eats, natural beauty products, and of course, your favorite pair of boots.
Maura Lieberman In New Orleans