Archive | May, 2010

Have Your Meat and Eat It Too: An Introductory Primer to Flexitarian Eating

31 May

source

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! While this is a great opportunity for those of you in the United States to remember the sacrifices the brave men and women have made while protecting our country, many people also use this opportunity to take the day off work and have a good old-fashioned cookout! Many people are spending the day enjoying the scent of hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to discuss my particular dietary choice, flexitarianism, or the practice of limiting one’s meat intake significantly but not fully and focusing on fruit, grains and vegetables instead.

Note that I am not a dietician, nutritionist, or doctor, so please consult with a credible medical source before radically changing your diet.

+What is flexitarianism?

Flexitarian is a portmanteau word of “flexible” and “vegetarian”. Due to that fact, many people like to call flexitarianism a limited or part-time form of vegetarianism. Not so! Some vegetarians criticize this usage of the word because it insinuates that it is possible to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle while incorporating meat. For that reason, I tend to stay away from classifying it as such, but you can think of it as the practice of regularly following a vegetarian diet with limited meat consumption.

There is no hard and fast rule about how much meat one can eat while still being considered a flexitarian, but the general consensus is that there should be a higher concentration of vegetarian-based dietary choices than ones based from meat. While flexitarians do include meat in their diets, many choose to exclude red meat and pork products in favor of fish and poultry.

+What are the benefits?

There are many! If you find full-on vegetarianism too extreme or you’re looking to transition into it, you may want to try flexitarianism. This is partly because your body and mind might not respond well to you abruptly changing your diet . I know my body doesn’t react well to an overnight diet change; plus you might find it difficult to give up certain dietary staples cold-turkey. You don’t have to cut all meat – giving it up a few days a week or making it a complimentary flavor instead of the focus of a meal can do the trick.

It can also be a healthy alternative to a traditional meat-based diet if done correctly. You can reduce your intake of saturated fat while upping your fiber, for instance. You can also help the environment. As seen in The Cheeseburger Footprint, regular meat consumption can leave a hefty carbon footprint. Just limiting your intake can help, so give it a try!

flexitarian-food-pyramid

Basic Flexitarian Food Pyramid

+How Do You Do It?

Moderation, moderation, moderation! The key to a successful flexitarian diet is to take everything (other than fruit and veggies) in moderated servings. Phase meat out slowly until you find a system or schedule that works for you. While at school, I decided to stick to eating meat when I ate out. Because I was on a limited college budget, I only ate out on the weekends, so I had meat on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Maybe try a Meatless Monday for a month and see how it works for you, or limit meat to only one meal a day.

Another thing? Expand your mind past salad! When I first tried this, I operated under the assumption that salad was the only viable vegetarian food option that I had. How wrong I was! You’d be surprised how many of your favorite foods can be made vegetarian and in the case of those cutting out red meat, how many poultry-based options that you have. (I’m partial to turkey burgers, myself.) For food ideas, try the book Eat to Live which has both vegetarian and flexitarian options, as well as The Healthy Hedonist cookbook.

+Things to Watch For

While this diet is pretty moderate (which is why it probably appeals to me – I tend to take things in moderation), there are concerns you definitely need to take care of:

Protein: If you’re going to limit your meat intake, you may run into the hazard of limiting your protein intake as well. While many flexitarians manage to get their protein from poultry products (especially eggs), you can also try options like beans and legumes, as well as soy-based products such as tofu and soy milk. Tofu gets a bad rap because of its texture, although there are many varieties to try until you can find what you like. One of the best things about tofu is that it doesn’t carry a strong flavor, but can easily absorb the flavorings of what you make it with. In other words, mix it in with your favorite dishes to make it taste exactly how you want.

Fiber: One of the main goals of a flexitarian diet is to increase the amount of fiber in one’s diet. While many people associate fiber with products such as Metamucil (and we all know what that’s for), if can also lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Many fruits and vegetables are natural sources of fiber but you can also get it from grain-based products. Note: Try not to make complex carbs (such as regular pasta) a staple of your diet to replace meat; stick to whole wheat instead! The catch is that many flour-based products claim to be high in fiber – statements of “100% wheat” or “multi-grain” may not be reliable. Your best bet is to check the nutrition facts for dietary fiber – at least 5 grams of it per serving is ideal.

+In conclusion

Flexitarianism is a great option for those who want a moderate diet that is extremely healthful without being extremely exclusive or limiting. It also works for people who want to test the waters of vegetarianism to see how it works for them.

For more information, check out these links:

+Medicine Net: Can You be a Vegetarian and Eat Meat?

+Mayo Clinic: Could you be a Flexitarian?

+Lifehacker: Losing Weight the Flexitarian Way (No Wheatgrass Required)

What do you think of the flexitarian diet? Do you think it’s too limiting, or perhaps not limiting enough? Do you have any other thoughts, comments or concerns? Let me know in the comment box.

Until next time:

Xoxo,

Tara

Slowed Down Sunday – 5.30.2010

30 May

I Heart Little Things In Life

source

♥ Visiting Friends – One of my best friends in the world, Serena, came to visit from California. I haven’t seen her in two years, so obviously I am really freaking excited. Even with that, I didn’t realize how much I missed her until a couple of days before she got here – but when she came back, it was just like old times! I felt like I was back in high school (in the good way). Never underestimate how amazing it is to have your full group of friends together. We had a nice summer kick-back at a friend’s house till five in the morning and I had a fantastic time. Now, I have even more incentive to visit her in Long Beach sometime. Plus, there’s the fact that I’m taking the initiative to schedule time with the people I haven’t yet seen this summer because I am a horrible planner! Let’s see how this goes. (Hopefully it goes really well.)

♥ Graduations – My boyfriend graduated from his college program last Thursday, and I couldn’t be more proud of him! Not only that, but my younger brother is graduating from high school this Tuesday. Congratulations to the both of them and to everybody else that is graduating this year!

♥ Starting a workout regimen – I worked out on a regular basis this past semester, but I have slacked – a lot – since I got home for the summer. I have made the plan to work out three times a week, doing muscle work twice a week and cardio once a week. Whenever I work out on a regular basis, I immediately notice results – my stress level reduces significantly when I get out and sweat. While I’m not sure about the fact that I work out three days in a row, at least I alternate sculpting and cardio. I have a fabulous workout buddy, so of course that helps.

♥ Small things: Winning a Vajazzle kit (I am so excited); getting my GNC beBEAUTIFUL vitamins in the mail (I’ll keep everyone posted on the outcome); a robin egg blue manicure and a tea green pedicure; chicken and pineapple pizza; Eurovision Song Contest 2010; Juanes (he makes for a fantastic summer soundtrack!); strawberry poppy seed salads back at Panera Bread; wearing a sundress in bed; pretzels from the Amish market; playing Portal on my PC; Summertime by The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff; Pop Chips (barbeque flavor, mmm); cookouts with the family; finally getting to drive somewhere; making use of my wish board; clearing out the hallway in my house, thank goodness; green tea

What are you thankful for this week? Let me know in the comments.

xoxo,

Tara

Weekend Links – 5.28.2010

28 May

Tee hee.

Happy Friday! (Friday again?? Where does the time go?) I write this post as I eat chicken and pineapple pizza. Mmm. But anyway, here is some reading to take you through the weekend. Enjoy!

◊ “Dear Brown Girls”, an open letter from the blog Clumps of Mascara. To all the Brown girls (and all the other girls out there) you are beautiful. Positively gorgeous, inside and out.

◊ On Positively Present, how to learn to hold onto the past without losing the present. In other words, it’s possible to live in the present while holding precious memories dear.

◊ I absolutely love Diana Ross, she is one of my favorite style icons. (If you need evidence, just watch Mahogany.) Here is a classic magazine cover of her, from Jazzi McG.

via Kiss My Black Ads

◊ Have you ever had one of those days where you had thirty minutes to spare and you needed something to pass the time? Tired of F My Life and Lamebook? Does visiting TvTropes take up too much time? (Just linking to it got me sucked in!) Here are some sites you can use to pass the time…in style. Oh yeah.

◊ I love lists like this! Here are 10 Affordable (and useful!) Beauty Secrets Every Girl Should Know, via College Fashion.

◊ I have a love affair with interior decorating magazines – they give me inspiration for swank home I may have one day. While my long-time favorite Domino isn’t on newsstands anymore, this cute online mag “Nesting Newbies” is definitely worth a read.

◊ Check these out! Decorated manhole covers from Japan from Good.is.

◊ New Kanye! Now, I’m not exactly sure what I think of this song – it does remind of his older stuff (even though he wasn’t the chief producer apparently) and I think some of the lyrics will get him in trouble (as usual). Take a listen and see what you think!

◊ My boyfriend sent me this and I was slain. Look at this bear using his fists of fury! And that was my Silly/Lol-wut/wtf link of the week.

◊ Forests…of rock. Just check out the pictures.

◊ Here are 20 Tips to Keep in Mind if You’re Traveling. I’m traveling soon, so I was very interested in these…

Jam of the Week: Reasons by Earth, Wind & Fire

Any links worth sharing? Put them in the comments!

Until next time,

xoxo,

Tara

Florence + The Machine – Cosmic Love

26 May

Ever since this video was released, I have been intrigued. I had never heard of Florence + The Machine before, but after one viewing, I knew I had to get their CD. After getting my hands on Lungs, I have had it on constant repeat. (That is, when I’m not listening to Archandroid and Flesh Tone, but that is a completely different story.)

Hours of listening later, I am happy to report that I am officially a fan. And this magnificent video only makes it better. The artistry is gorgeous, from the stars in her eyes to the pulsing of her heartbeat in the light-bulb.

About Florence + The Machine:

Florence and the Machine (sometimes stylised as Florence + the Machine) is the recording name of Indie Pop artist Florence Welch and a collaboration of other artists who provide backing music for her voice. Florence and the Machine’s sound has been described as a combination of various genres, including rock and soul. The band’s music has received praise across the music media before they gained mainstream success, especially from the BBC who played a large part in Florence and the Machine’s rise to prominence by promoting her as part of BBC Introducing.
Give it a listen and learn more at their official site.
What have you been listening to? Let me know in the comments.
xoxo,
Tara

Four Ways to Get Fit This Summer (That You Might Not Have Heard of)

24 May

Summer is almost here! And of course, for many people, with summer comes shorter, skimpier clothing and the big one – swimsuits! But even if that isn’t your thing, summer is a great time to get up and get fit. With the weather looking spectacular, there’s added incentive to head outside and do something fun. Plus, there’s always benefit to regular exercise – why not make it fun?

While there are ways to work out that you may already know about (I’m talking running, swimming, biking…), it’s summer – so why not try something new? Here are some methods of exercise you may not have heard of, or may not have tried.

For: The Girl who wants cardio but dreads the treadmill

Try: Zumba


I tried Zumba for the first time earlier this month and I was immediately hooked. It’s exhilarating and fun and after that hour was up, I didn’t want to leave! Zumba is a dance class that borrows moves from Latin, Bhangra and Dancehall styles to create a unique cardio experience. There is a Zumba class for every need, from resistance Zumba to water Zumba – even Zumba for kids! As for me, I just like the plain old original flavor.

You can find out more about Zumba on their official website, where you can find a class or buy their official DVDs.

◊ For: The girl looking for a unique, low-impact workout

Try: Bellydancing

source

Belly dance – a strange thing to call it since you use your entire body – has an uncertain origin. The name belly dance is generally dated to Chicago in 1893, but it certainly predates that. It involves isolating different parts of your body to dance, while focusing on the hip and pelvic area.  I have found that doing belly dance does wonders for your body confidence, and can make you feel gorgeous and seductive at a range of ages and sizes.

Bellydancing is a non-impact exercise, so if you’re recovering from an injury or you’re just getting on the fitness wagon, this is a great place to start! Isolating the torso emphasizes flexibility, and it can also build strength in your upper body, arms and shoulders.

Learn more at these websites.

For: The girl who wants to play like a kid again

Try: Hooping

source

“Hooping” is the term for hula hooping with large, weighted hoops. While you can buy weighted (and collapsable) hoops online, you can make your own pretty easily as well. I know that I had difficulties hula hooping as a child, but the advantages to larger, weighted hoops is that they rotate more slowly, making them easier to keep up. Plus, the weight gives you great exercise and a nice massage! (Trust me, I speak from experience)

To make it even more fun, I like to play music from my child hood – hooping to Destiny’s Child and the Spice Girls does wonders for a bad mood. I’m even trying to figure out how to hula hoop while doing the Macarena. We’ll see how that goes.

For more info on Hooping, check out Hooping.org.

◊ For: The girl who wants to ramp up her yoga

Try: Bikram Yoga

source

This one is on my to-do list! Bikram Yoga (also known as “hot yoga”) is a yoga practice originating in the early 1970s that emphasizes an unchanging sequence of postures in a heated room. Often times the room can be heated up to 100 degrees.

Of all the exercises I have listed, this one is probably the most strenuous and initially difficult. Even if you’re a master yogi, proceed with caution in your first Bikram session.  Dress lightly and bring water, because you’re certainly going to sweat. Stay mindful of your body, and stop if you feel dizzy, light headed or tired.

For more info on Bikram and to find a class near you, check out their official website.

Do you have any fun fitness ideas you want to try? Other plans? Let me know in the comments!

xoxo,

Tara

Slowed Down Sundays – 5.23.2010

23 May

source

Hello, and Happy Sunday! It’s time for that weekly tradition where I count my blessings – Slowed Down Sunday.

♥ Back to Work – I have been back to work, technically, but I haven’t said anything about it yet. I love my job, and I look forward to it every time I get to come back. I work in a children’s learning center and while I enjoy the work (Even though sometimes the work is tiring), I find helping them and watching them grow and progress extremely rewarding. I have worked at this particular place for four years now, both seasonally and year-round. Honestly, I feel lucky to have lucked into a high school job I feel so invested in.

♥ Time with my cousin – My cousin came to visit! I don’t get to see her very often, so this was exciting, plus there was that we seemed to find it insanely difficult to coordinate our schedules. We went shopping to prepare her for a big trip she’s taking, (and ran wild through Ross and Target in the process) and generally had a good time over take-out Chinese food. Fun times, indeed.

♥ Pottery class – Here’s another one of those chance opportunities. My aunt was planning a trip to Baltimore Clayworks to take a pottery wheel class. She asked me to go, and of course I said yes! That said, although I have a love for hand sculpting (it is one of my favorite mediums), making pottery on a wheel was harder than I thought. Even so, I managed (with help from the instructor, let’s be real here) to make a goblet and bowl. Go me. I felt like Demi Moore in Ghost. Kind of.

♥ Mini-loves: Working to Ahmad Jamal; hanging out with the guys; wearing a cute dress all day; changing from a cute dress to your boyfriend’s sweats; getting Five Guys for the first time in a while; birthday cake; acting reckless in Target (in a good way!); my dog walking like a civilized animal, for the first time ever; Super Mario Galaxy 2 (I must have it!); one of my best friends coming to visit in less than five days ahhh!; lounging in bed while my boyfriend plays Red Dead Redemption; that it is finally feeling like spring…

What are you grateful for/loving/happy about this Sunday? Let me know in the comments.

xoxo,

Tara

Weekend Links – 5.21.2010

21 May

source

Happy Friday, everyone! Can you believe that another week has passed already? (I can’t…) Here are some reading materials to get your weekend started right! Or, depending on who you are, help you to pass the time at school or work until you can go home and relax…

◊ On Positively Present, How to be a kid again! Perfect for those who feel a little more…old at heart?

◊ YES to all of these! (Maybe this is why the website is called “Yes and Yes”…31 Things I Wish I’d Known About Dating When I was 21. One of my favorites:

19. Your wants and needs are just as important as his, and if you don’t express them because you think it will scare him away, then you’re saying you don’t count as much as he does.

◊ One of my favorite fashion photographers + one of my favorite clothing lines = tons and tons of pretty.

◊ This movie looks so adorable! People need to be making more African folktales into movies. (found at Fly) Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, I’m talking about you.

◊ On White Hot Truth – how to handle Superhero Syndrome, or more specifically, when you have ridiculous, crazy ambition that is hard to sustain for long periods of time.

It’s the Super Hero syndrome: I can do it all! I can squeeze more hours out of the day; keep up my exercise regime, be romantically attentive; well groomed n’ stylin’; AND! launch a brilliant, brain-powered innovative, substantive product in record time. Nothing will change. I’ll just fit MORE in.

◊ I just think this is really cool: a Japanese label design that makes it extremely easy to tell how safe your food is.

◊ Now this is just nerdy, but I love it – explore the galaxy in a variety of wavelengths, from x-rays to the longest radio waves.

◊ Another cool craft idea! Duct Tape + Decal + Bleach = Awesome.

◊ Have you ever wanted to shop at an estate sale? I have. On Moptop Maven, a helpful guide on how to make the most out of any estate sale you happen upon.

◊ YES!! My requisite silly link of the week: the 20 Best Cartoons of the 90s. You know this is going to get ugly. I’m already mad Batman: The Animated Series is missing. (And Rugrats, too! What is this foolishness??)

Source

I absolutely love sushi, but I had no idea some of these things were a faux pas. Well, you learn something new every day, I suppose.

◊ Okay, scratch that, I have two silly links – on Improv Everywhere, they staged a mock Ghostbusting operation right in a New York library. Those people walking around in sheets acting like normal people – priceless.

◊ On Flickr, how to use light stencils to make a truly, shall we say, illuminating photo effect. Okay,  that one was bad. I admit it.

Jam of the Week

Alright, that’s all everyone! Do you have any links to share or interesting weekend plans? Leave them in the comments!

xoxo,

Tara