Nutrition Tips for Vegetarians

Whether you want to show support for animals or simply choose to avoid meat products, becoming a vegetarian can be a very healthy lifestyle choice. Though it decreases your risk for many long-term diseases, a vegetarian diet can make it difficult to get the protein and other nutrients a person needs to stay healthy and energized.

These vegetarian eating tips can help you create a balanced, meat-free diet:

  • Make sure that you get enough protein by incorporating nuts, beans, peas and soy products into meals and snacks.
  • Keep up with your necessary iron intake to create healthy oxygen absorption in the blood by eating a lot of spinach, kidney beans, lentils, black-eyed peas and iron-fortified cereals.
  • Choose calcium-fortified soy milk to replace the calcium normally found in regular cow’s milk.
  • Consider vegetarian alternatives to traditionally meat-based foods to keep your diet exciting (for example, bean burritos, veggie lo mein, or vegetarian lasagna).

Tips for Vegetarians [USDA]

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6 Facts About the Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is something you’ve likely learned about in a history class at one time or another, but how much do you really know about this historical landmark? Here are six key facts that every American should know about the monument.

The Washington Monument was created for, you guessed it, George Washington.
Washington commanded the Continental Army and defeated Great Britain, thus gaining American independence. The monument was created in honor of our first president.

The monument’s construction began on July 4, 1848.
It was completed on December 6, 1884, but it didn’t open to the public until four years later.

It measures over 555 feet tall.
The monument also weighs 90,854 tons and is made entirely of marble from Maryland.

The monument survived an earthquake.
Though its tall, thin structure seems unstable, the Washington Monument survived a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in 2011. It suffered cracks to the structure and is still closed for repairs.

There are 897 steps in the Washington Monument.
The fastest anyone has ever climbed the stairs was in 2005, when a visitor completed them in 6.7 minutes.

Approximately 467,550 people visit the monument each year.
Admission to the Washington Monument is free to the public, so many tourists visit when traveling to Washington DC.

Basic Cooking Terms for Healthy Home Chefs

Are you the type of at-home cook who uses the same technique for “grilling” as you do for “sautéing”? Using the proper cooking techniques can make or break a nutritious dish, but many people don’t know the true meaning of most of these terms. This helpful list will ensure that you use the most effective cooking techniques for every healthy meal. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Grill. Ideal for chicken, firmer seafood and hearty vegetables, grilling is a common cooking method that can be done on a stovetop or an outdoor grill.

2. Broil. Broiling is a great technique for dishes that require a crispy surface. It can be used for chicken, salmon, tuna or other lean meats.

3. Sauté. This light stir-frying method is effective on thin cuts of chicken or most vegetables, from mushrooms to kale to zucchini. By using olive oil or another healthy oil, you can add robust flavor without adding fat to your dish.

4. Poach. Ideal for salmon, flounder, trout and other white fishes, poaching uses boiling water to gently cook and add moisture to fish.

5. Steam. Steaming vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, green beans or carrots is one of the healthiest ways to prepare them. By using boiling water in the bottom of a sauce pan, you’ll have tender vegetables in a matter of minutes.

Basic Cooking Instructions [NIH]

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Make Breakfast More Fun With These French Toast Recipes

Dipped in batter and drizzled with sweet, warm syrup, French toast is a breakfast comfort food that eats like a treat. While many people order French toast out at restaurants, there are many simple and creative ways to make the traditional morning dish at home. Check out some of these recipes sites for a bit of breakfast inspiration.

All Recipes
All Recipes has a whole collection of unique French toast recipes that just about anyone will love. The Crispy French Toast is covered in corn flakes for an added crunch, while the Easy Pina Colada French Toast gives the usual recipe a little island flavor. Pumpkin Pie French Toast is even great for the fall and winter holiday season, and it’s an easy way to get the whole family to gather around the breakfast table.

Martha Stewart
No one does comfort foods better than Martha Stewart, and her French toast recipes certainly won’t disappoint. Banana French Toast is a sweet and delicious way to get your kids to eat their fruit, and it’s just as easy to make as your regular recipe. If you’re feeling fancy, the Brioche French Toast with Asparagus and Orange Beurre Blanc is a savory brunch dish that will impress even your foodie friends. No matter your guests, you’ll find a French toast recipe for every occasion on the Martha Stewart website.

Tasty Tuesday: Chorizo & Shrimp Quesadillas with Smoky Guacamole

Switch up your usual dinner routine and try these quick and delicious quesadillas!

Total Time: 25 min
Prep: 10 min
Cook: 15 min

Yield: 4 Servings

2 ripe Haas avocados
1 lime, juiced
A couple pinches of salt
1/4 cup sour cream, 3 rounded tablespoonfuls
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, available in cans on specialty food aisle in Mexican section
1/2 pound chorizo sausage, sliced thin on an angle
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
1 clove garlic, cracked away from skin and crushed
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed, ask for easy-peels at fish counter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 (12- inch) flour tortillas
1/2 pound, 2 cups, shredded pepper Jack cheese

Cut avocados all the way around with a sharp knife. Scoop out the pit, then spoon avocado flesh away from skin into a food processor. Add the juice of 1 lime, a couple of pinches salt, sour cream, and chipotles in adobo. Pulse guacamole until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Brown chorizo 2 to 3 minutes, then remove from pan. Add oil, garlic, then shrimp. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and cook shrimp until pink, 2 or 3 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a cutting board and coarsely chop.

Add a drizzle of oil to the pan and a large tortilla. Cook tortilla 30 seconds, then turn. Cover 1/2 of the tortilla with a couple of handfuls of cheese. Arrange a layer of chorizo and shrimp over the cheese and fold tortilla over. Press down gently with a spatula and cook tortilla a minute or so on each side to melt cheese and crisp. Remove quesadilla to large cutting board and repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut each quesadilla into 5 wedges and transfer to plates with your spatula. Top wedges of quesadillas with liberal amounts of smoky guacamole.


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Tricks of the Trade: Caring for Hardwood Floors

We all love the aesthetic of hardwood floors. Here are a few tips to keep them looking beautiful:

1. Vacuuming with a rotating brush
Your vacuum's rotating brush can be very abrasive to wood floors. Turn off the brush roll or use a floor brush attachment instead. But make sure you vacuum often — gritty dirt and dust particles can scratch your floor when they sit for too long.

2. Wet-cleaning too often
Unless your wood floors get tons of foot traffic, you don't need to wet-clean them more than every one to two months. Instead, keep your wood floors well-vacuumed (see number one) and spot-clean as needed.

3. Drenching the floor with cleaner
Today's wood flooring finishes are much more resistant to water than ones in the past, but that doesn't mean you should flood your floors with cleaning solution. When it's time to wet-clean, tackle small areas at a time with a damp, not wet, mop or cloth and dry them promptly.

4. Using steam willy-nilly
Exercise caution when using steam cleaners. If your floor has a wax finish or if its finish is old and worn, skip the steam. For other finishes, make sure the floor is intact before breaking out the steamer. Use the lightest level of steam your appliance offers and keep it moving across the floor, not stationary in any one spot too long.

5. Choosing the wrong rug pad
Rubber-backed mats or rubber mesh pads can dull your floor's shine, and even cause discoloration. To protect your floor, use a combination felt and rubber pad to keep your area rugs in place.

6. Letting them sunbathe
Sun exposure can change the color of wood flooring. Keep the blinds or shades drawn when the sun is at its strongest to limit discoloring and drying out the wood's finish.

7. Not using caution with sharp objects
You probably know that wood floors and sharp objects don't mix, but there are two often-forgotten perpetrators: your pets' claws and high-heeled shoes. Solve this problem by keeping your pets' nails trimmed, and leaving your shoes at the door.

These tricks brought to you by:

Tasty Tuesday: Warm up with this Dressed-Up Bacon Mac and Cheese Recipe

It's the beginning of the week, perfect time for some yummy comfort food with a twist. Try this Dressed-Up Bacon Mac and Cheese!

Total Time: 1 hr 20 min
Prep:2 0 min
Cook Time: 60 min
Yield: 4 to 6
Level: Intermediate

What you'll need:
-Unsalted butter, for greasing
-8 ounces macaroni
-2 1/2 cups cold milk
-4 ounces provolone cheese, coarsely grated
-4 ounces aged Asiago cheese, coarsely grated
-2 large eggs
-2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
-3 slices white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
-3 strips bacon
-1 medium onion, chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart shallow casserole dish. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain; transfer the pasta to the prepared casserole dish along with 1/4 cup of the cold milk. (This will cool the pasta and prevent it from becoming gummy.)

Meanwhile, mix the cheeses together in a small bowl. Beat the eggs with 1/4 cup of the milk in a medium bowl. Add the scallions, bread, and half of the cheese to the egg mixture; set aside.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp; transfer to paper towels to drain. Discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings from the pan. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring, until just brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour, cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt; cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add the remaining 1 3/4 cups milk and 3/4 cup water to the skillet. Bring to a boil, whisking until thick. Remove the sauce from the heat and whisk to cool slightly. Whisk in the remaining cheese. Add the sauce to the macaroni; stir to combine.

Crumble up the bacon and add it to the egg/bread mixture. Spread evenly over the pasta. Place the casserole dish on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven; let sit 5 minutes before serving.

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Happy Presidents’ Day

Remembering the courage and vision of past and present leaders, we honor and share the spirit of Presidents' Day together as a nation.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wishing everyone a day filled with fun and happy memories!

Learn a Little More About Love with these Fun Valentine’s Day Facts!

Here are some fun facts about Valentine's Day that will tickle you pink!

1. Valentine’s Day started with the Romans. There are two theories about the origin of Valentine’s Day. The first is that the day derives from Lupercalia, a raucous Roman festival on February 15 where men stripped naked and spanked young maidens in hopes of upping their fertility. The second theory is that while the Roman Emperor Claudius II was trying to bolster his army, he forbade young men to marry (apparently single men make better soldiers). In the spirit of love, St. Valentine defied the ban and performed secret marriages. For his disobedience, Valentine was executed on February 14.

2. It’s not the most popular holiday for greeting cards. According to the Greeting Card Association, 190 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine's Day the second most popular greeting card–giving occasion, after Christmas.

3. Single ladies have a good shot at finding a date. There are 119 single men—never married, widowed or divorced—in their 20s for every 100 single women of the same age.

4. True love is apparently not that hard to find. Over two million marriages take place in the United States every year. That means there are more than 6,000 a day!

5. Husbands and boyfriends like to give bouquets. Men account for 73 percent of Valentine's Day flower sales.

6. Roses are the flowers of love. The favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love? The red rose, of course. The bud stands for strong romantic feelings, so it’s no surprise they make up the most popular Valentine’s Day bouquets.

7. “Wearing your heart on your sleeve” is more than just a phrase. In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names to see who their Valentine would be. They would wear the name pinned to their sleeve for one week so that everyone would know their supposed true feelings.

8. Money can buy love. The average U.S. consumer spent around $102 on Valentine's Day gifts, meals and entertainment in 2009, according to an annual U.S. National Retail Federation survey. Roughly 92 percent of married Americans with children will spend most of that money (about $67) on their spouse; the rest goes to Valentine's Day gifts for kids, friends, coworkers, and even pets.

9. Americans have a serious sweet tooth. According to the National Confectioners Association, about eight billion candy hearts were made in 2009.

10. The chocolate box has been around for more than 140 years. The first Valentine's Day box of chocolates was introduced by Richard Cadbury in 1868.

These fun facts brought to you courtesy of this website