Re-Blog: Nicole Brownstein: How to Eat Healthy in the Big City — and Not Have to Pay For It

Since I spent the last four days in Chicago, here's a post on how to eat healthy in the big city - for all you urban-dwellers!

How to Eat Healthy in the Big City — and Not Have to Pay For It

Despite the controversies surrounding the legality of Bloomberg’s citywide soda ban, it’s clear that New Yorkers need to eat better. In 2009, the Department of Health reported that just 6.3% of adults living in Bronx County regularly ate enough servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Compared to the state’s 27.1% average, that’s pretty low.

While there are now over 60 Greenmarkets across the city — with ten regular and youth markets in the Bronx alone — that have helped to alleviate the growing threat of food desertification in the outer boroughs, they are only open seasonally. That leaves many New Yorkers without fresh produce for most of the year.  During the off-seasons, one has to hope the local bodega or corner store is stocked with more than just canned food and snacks. But no one has to live in a food desert. Growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs is as easy as finding some old black bean cans, a bag of soil, and some seeds.

Indoor and fire escape gardening is so easy, it can become an activity for kids, whose eating habits are still malleable. For busy urban kids with limited space, the easiest edible plants to grow are herbs. Innovative use ofhousehold cans and jars can be filled with soil and seeds and left on sunny windowsills.  Cilantro and mint are good for less sunny apartments, while lavender, basil, coriander, dill, and oregano prefer sunny windows or fire escapes.

Fire escapes can also be good homes for growing lettuces, tomatoes, strawberries, or ground cherries. Large, shallow planters are great beds for both, as long it is wide with enough room for four inches deep of soil and good sun. If there isn’t good soil for sale nearby, this is a great option because the lettuce/brassica family is great for leveling the soil’s pH as well as drawing heavy metals out. After a season of lettuces, the soil you found outside might be viable for growing other things as well.

Others with less time can spend just one afternoon building a home hydroponic system, or a DIY self-watering system, and have fresh salads from their living room and fire escape gardens.

It’s clear why Mayor Bloomberg wants to get New Yorkers back on track health-wise. Though the most recent numbers are from a few years ago, it’s clear we’re growing. 60% of New Yorkers who have self-reported their height and weight are obese, as well as 24% of our kindergarteners. Since today’s food is better traveled than most people are, we have lost out on both taste and nutrition. After making a trip that lasts nearly 2,000 miles, vegetables taste tired and old and we don’t want to eat them. It’s time New Yorkers start supplementing their diets with fresh delicious food — and you can’t get much more local than your fire escape!

Re-blog: Health Benefits of Cycling

Bicycling is one of my favorite ways to get around in the summer.  It saves me gas, and it’s better for the environment.  So, maybe you’re a roller-blader or a longboarder instead, but there are many reasons why biking is one of the best ways to get around, both for your health and enjoyment.  Enjoy this article from, written by Jerry Travers all about the benefits of cycling.

Health Benefits of Cycling PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jerry Travers
There are many health benefits that are associated with cycling. Let’s look at a few of the major benefits:

Cycling is one of the easiest ways to exercise
You can ride a bicycle almost anywhere, at any time of the year, and without spending a fortune. Many people are put off doing certain sports because of the high level of skill that seems to be required, or perhaps because they can’t commit to a team sport due to time pressures. Most of us know how to cycle and once you have learned you don’t forget. All you need is a bike, a half an hour here or there when it suits, and a bit of confidence.

Cycling builds strength and muscle tone
Contrary to normal perceptions, cycling is not a fitness activity that solely involves the legs. Cycling builds strength in a holistic manner since every single part of the body is involved in cycling.

Cycling increases muscle tone
Cycling improves general muscle function gradually, with little risk of over exercise or strain. Regular cycling strengthens leg muscles and is great for the mobility of hip and knee joints. You will gradually begin to see an improvement in the muscle tone of your legs, thighs, rear end and hips.

Cycling builds stamina
Cycling is a good way to build stamina. It is very effective in doing so,
because people enjoy cycling and they wouldn’t really notice that they have
gone farther the last time they went cycling.

Cycling improves cardio-vascular fitness
Cycling makes the heart pound in a steady manner and helps improve cardio-vascular fitness.  Studies have shown that cycling to work will increase cardiovascular fitness by 3-7%. Cycling uses the largest muscle groups the legs, raising heart rate to benefit stamina and fitness.

Cycling eats up calories
Cycling is a good way to lose those unwanted pounds. Steady cycling burns approximately 300 calories per hour. If you cycle for 30 minutes every day you would burn 11 pounds of fat in a year. Since it helps build muscle, cycling will also boost your metabolic rate long after you’ve finished your ride.

Cycling improves heart health
According to the British Medical Association, cycling just 20 miles a week can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by 50%. A major study of 10,000 civil servants suggested that those who cycled 20 miles over the period of a week were half as likely to suffer heart disease as their non-cycling colleagues.

Cycling improves coordination
Cycling is an activity that involves the whole body. Therefore, arm-to-leg, feet-to-hands and body-to-eye coordination are improved.

Cycling reduces stress
Any regular exercise can reduce stress and depression and improve well being and self esteem.  Cycling outdoors is also a good way to be one with nature and to feel the breath of the earth. It takes one’s mind out of everyday-life stress and rejuvenates his soul.

When incorporating cycling into an over-all fitness program, there are many aspects to consider. Here are some important things to remember:

Consult your doctor
Most people can do cycling. However, it is still best to consult your doctor when thinking about incorporating a cycling activity into an overall fitness program. They shall advise you regarding your limits and capacities and what you should avoid doing.

Cycling is a base training activity
Let’s say that the doctor says that there is nothing wrong with you engaging into cycling as a part of your overall fitness program, what do you do next? Remember that cycling should be considered as a base training activity.  Base training activities are those, which provide endurance and aerobic training at the same time. Re-align your fitness program such that biking becomes the starting activity for the week. Other activities such as circuit training should be done so as to complement the benefits of cycling.

Start slowly and then increaseyour cycling
For beginners, they should employ a program wherein cycling is done three times a week. Doing it two times a week is also fine, but this depends on the capabilities of the person undergoing the training.

Increase speeds gradually
Gradual increase in speeds is an important aspect of fitness cycling.  Cycling can also be strenuous to the body and the key towards successful fitness cycling is to be patient and not hurry in increasing your limits.

Better safe than sorry
Cycling is great fun but it is important to get the right equipment for the activity. Head gear, kneepads, elbow pads should all be in place when cycling. For a comprehensive overview of all this information and more, checkout our 20-minute DVD, GEARED UP! The Essentials of Adult Bicycling available here.
Fitness cycling can really be integrated into any fitness program. With every turn of the wheel, calories are burnt, strength is built and wellness is achieved.

Spring is here — get active!


Hi everyone!

It’s finally starting to feel like Spring, and I couldn’t be more excited.

So, this week I wanted to leave you with a more personal post.  I know that I blog about all things health, but that doesn’t mean that I always follow the things I post about.  And that’s okay.  I know that I’m human.  It’s hard to get out of my warm bed and walk through the snow to the gym.

But hey, it’s warming up — so if you’re a person who finds it hard to get to the gym, don’t worry!  Who could resist hanging out outdoors in this weather?  This weekend, I took some time to hang out outdoors.  If you’re not a runner, fine!  Go out with some friends and toss a Frisbee or football.  Do some grilling supplemented with Kan-Jam!

With all that outdoorsy-ness, make sure you drink lots of water to stay hydrated as well.

So, I plan on making the most of these next few weeks.  I’m going to go swimming in the creek and hiking at Arkwright Falls.  I’m going to hang out in my friend’s courtyard and toss the frisbee around while we grill great food and blast good music.  I’m going to do drunken races and laps and dance around until I’m dizzy.  I’m going to go on adventures in the rain and do yoga outside.  It’s going to be a grand old time.

You should do these things, too, because they are just more fun ways to stay active!

Re-blog: Why you should try tai chi

This article is from, and it explains what tai chi is, and how is can be used as an exercise that reduces stress and improves mental and physical health.  If you’re not big on yoga, I’d reccommend trying tai chi out!

Tai chi: A gentle way to fight stress

Tai chi helps reduce stress and anxiety. And it also helps increase flexibility and balance.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you’re looking for a way to reduce stress, consider tai chi (TIE-CHEE). Originally developed for self-defense, tai chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, tai chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.

What is tai chi?

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that, today, is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.

Tai chi, also called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion.

Tai chi has many different styles. Each style may have its own subtle emphasis on various tai chi principles and methods. There are also variations within each style. Some may focus on health maintenance, while others focus on the martial arts aspect of tai chi.

Who can do tai chi

Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, because tai chi is low impact, it may be especially suitable if you’re an older adult who otherwise may not exercise.

You may also find tai chi appealing because it’s inexpensive, requires no special equipment and can be done indoors or out, either alone or in a group.

Although tai chi is generally safe, women who are pregnant or people with joint problems, back pain, fractures, severe osteoporosis or a hernia should consult their health care provider before trying tai chi. Modification or avoidance of certain postures may be recommended.

Why try tai chi?

When learned correctly and performed regularly, tai chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health. The benefits of tai chi include:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Increased aerobic capacity
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Increased flexibility, balance and agility
  • Increased muscle strength and definition

Some evidence indicates that tai chi also may help:

  • Enhance quality of sleep
  • Enhance the immune system
  • Lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure
  • Improve joint pain
  • Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
  • Improve overall well-being in older adults
  • Reduce risk of falls in older adults

How to get started with tai chi

Although you can rent or buy videos and books about tai chi, consider seeking guidance from a qualified tai chi instructor to gain the full benefits and learn proper techniques.

You can find tai chi classes in many communities today. To find a class near you, contact local fitness centers, health clubs and senior centers. Tai chi instructors don’t have to be licensed or attend a standard training program. So be sure to ask about an instructor’s training and experience, and get recommendations if possible.

A tai chi instructor can teach you specific positions and how to regulate your breathing. An instructor can also teach you how to practice tai chi safely, especially if you have injuries, chronic conditions, or balance or coordination problems. Although tai chi is slow and gentle, with virtually no negative side effects, it’s possible to get injured if you don’t know how to do tai chi properly.

Eventually you may feel confident enough to do tai chi on your own. But if you like the social element, consider sticking with group tai chi classes.

Maintaining the benefits of tai chi

While you may get some benefit from a 12-week tai chi class, you may enjoy greater benefits if you continue tai chi for the long term and become more skilled.

You may find it helpful to practice tai chi in the same place and at the same time every day to develop a routine. But if your schedule is erratic, do tai chi whenever you have a few minutes. You can even practice the soothing mind-body concepts of tai chi without performing the actual movements when you are in a stressful situation, such as a traffic jam or a tense work meeting, for instance.

Re-blog: Carolyn Kylstra, Buzzfeed: 29 Ways To Eat Vegetables That Are Actually Delicious

Hail to the recipe gods!  This may be one of the best collections of healthy recipes I’ve ever seen, put together by Buzzfeed’s Carolyn Kylstra.  Here’s 29 great-tasting (and appetizing-looking) recipes that will help you actually get your veggies in.  Definitely looking forward to trying some of the avocodo and kale recipes out!

29 Ways To Eat Vegetables That Are Actually Delicious

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

1. Avocado Superfood Breakfast Toast

Avocado Superfood Breakfast Toast

Choosing Raw / Via

Avocados come with healthy fats and protein. The pomegranate seeds and blueberries add sweet, sweet antioxidants to the mix. Get the recipe here, viaChoosing Raw.

2. Chicken and Cabbage Postickers

Chicken and Cabbage Postickers

Culinary Colleen / Via

Sneak some veggies into your favorite apps. Get the recipe here,

3. Cauliflower Crust Grilled Cheese

Cauliflower Crust Grilled Cheese

The Iron You / Via

Just LOOK AT THAT for a hot second. Eat cauliflower in place of bread, and keep the cheese while you’re at it. Get the recipe here, via The Iron You.

Also, on a related note, check out 23 Insanely Clever Ways To Eat Cauliflower Instead Of Carbs.

4. Skinny Omelette Wraps

Skinny Omelette Wraps

Put whatever veggies you want in this tasty breakfast. Get the recipe here, via 101 Cookbooks.

5. Asparagus Benedict With Dijon Sauce

Asparagus Benedict With Dijon Sauce

Chow / Via

Include some healthy sautéed asparagus in your classic eggs benedict. Get therecipe here, via Chow.

6. Zucchini Crust Vegetarian Pizza Margherita

Zucchini Crust Vegetarian Pizza Margherita

Kalyn’s Kitchen / Via

Pizza with a veggie crust. Doesn’t get much better than that. Get the recipe here, viaKalyn’s Kitchen.

7. Buffalo Chicken Jalapeño Poppers

Buffalo Chicken Jalapeño Poppers

Just Puzting / Via

Shredded cheese + cream cheese + shredded chicken + bacon + other incredibly tasty things, all stuffed in jalapeño peppers. Count it. Get the recipe here, via Just Putzing.

8. Healthy Butternut Squash Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Healthy Butternut Squash Mac 'N' Cheese

Pinch of Yum / Via

This gooey bowl of deliciousness comes with butternut squash, as the name suggests. That totally counts as a veggie dish! Get the recipe here, via Pinch of Yum.

9. Paleo California Rolls

Paleo California Rolls

The Clothes Make The Girl / Via

Even if you don’t eat Paleo, you’ll still enjoy this awesome Paleo sushi recipe (it’s riceless and soy-free, if you can believe it). Get the recipe here, via The Clothes Make The Girl.

10. Chicken Club Lettuce Wrap

Chicken Club Lettuce Wrap

iheartnaptime / Via

Yes, that comes with bacon. Get the recipe here, via

11. Spinach and Chicken Quesadillas

Spinach and Chicken Quesadillas

Take a Megabite / Via

Make your own spinach dip for this one. Get the recipe here, via Take A Megabite.

12. Roasted Tomato Risotto

Roasted Tomato Risotto

The Daring Gourmet / Via

This warm and tasty recipe calls for a pound of fresh whole tomatoes. Get the recipe here, via The Daring Gourmet.

13. Quinoa Kale Bowl With Mushrooms and Asparagus

Quinoa Kale Bowl With Mushrooms and Asparagus

86 Lemons / Via

Lunch doesn’t get much tastier or healthier than this. Get the recipe here, via 86 Lemons.

14. Think Green Juice

Think Green Juice

Cook Republic / Via

This supercharged green juice comes with kale, apple, celery, cucumber, spinach, mint, and more. It’s easy and tasty, and makes a great supplement to your regular meals. Get the recipe here, via Cook Republic.

15. Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts With Cranberries and Pecans

Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts With Cranberries and Pecans

Rachel Schultz / Via

There’s so much goodness going on here — Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate, among other essentials. Cranberries are packed with antioxidants, walnuts come with protein and fiber, and that gorgonzola cheese is just delicious. Get the recipe here, via

16. Crispy Baked Avocado Fries

Crispy Baked Avocado Fries

Kim’s Health Eats / Via

Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon for extra flavor. Get the recipe here, via Kim’s Healthy Eats.

17. Spicy Sausage, Kale, and Whole Wheat Orecchiette Soup

Spicy Sausage, Kale, and Whole Wheat Orecchiette Soup

How Sweet Eats / Via

This healthy, hearty lunch will keep you warm and help you get your fill of kale. Get the recipe here, via How Sweet Eats.

18. Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Family Fresh Cooking / Via

Here’s a cool veggie-based party snack idea: Stuff your zucchinis with all sorts of tasty foods (vegetables and otherwise). Get the recipe for these here, via Family Fresh Cooking.

19. Cheese and Browned Butter Spaghetti Squash

Cheese and Browned Butter Spaghetti Squash

My Purple Spoon / Via

The cheese in this dish is called Mizithra, and it’s delicious. Get the recipe here, viaMy Purple Spoon.

20. Spicy Miso Edamame

Spicy Miso Edamame

Lindsay for Love and Olive Oil / Via

Add an extra kick to your typical steamed edamame starters. Get the recipe here, via Love and Olive Oil.

21. Roasted Tomato Basil Oatmeal

Roasted Tomato Basil Oatmeal

Girl Makes Food / Via

Vegetables for breakfast? Yes indeed! This savory oatmeal comes with tomatoes (OK, technically a fruit, but you get the idea). You can amp up the veggies by tossing in spinach or kale or mushrooms or other goodies, as well. Get this recipe here, viaGirl Makes Food.

22. Healthy Beef Chili

Healthy Beef Chili

Fit Fun & Delish / Via

One of the best things about chili is that you can add a ton of vegetables to it without dramatically altering the taste. Get the recipe here, via Fit Fun & Delish.

23. Teriyaki Salmon Bowls With Snap Peas and Sriracha

Teriyaki Salmon Bowls With Snap Peas and Sriracha

Alaska From Scratch / Via

Beyond the snap peas, you can also toss in other veggies, like sliced carrots and strips of red bell pepper. Play around with it, see what you like. Get the recipe here, via Alaska From Scratch.

24. Vegan Lasagna

Vegan Lasagna

86 Lemons / Via

Veggies include onion, zucchini, mushrooms, red peppers, and spinach. Nom nom nom. Get the recipe here, via 86 Lemons.

25. Healthy Garlic Shrimp Pasta

Healthy Garlic Shrimp Pasta

Well Plated / Via

This dish calls for frozen broccoli and frozen mixed vegetables of your choosing. It’s a simple and healthy dinner that you can make quickly and easily. Get the recipe here, via Well Plated.

26. Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice

Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice

Pinch of Yum / Via

So creamy. So tasty. So full of cauliflower. Get the recipe here, via Pinch of Yum.

27. Sweet Potato-Crusted Spinach Quiche

Sweet Potato-Crusted Spinach Quiche

Jessica Wall of FourteenForty365 / Via

This quiche already comes with spinach (great source of vitamin A and vitamin K, among many, many other good things). The sweet potato crust takes the nutrition up a notch. Get the recipe here, via Fourteen Forty 365.

28. Creamy Spinach and Pear Soup With Pancetta

Creamy Spinach and Pear Soup With Pancetta

Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil / Via

Cashews in this soup add to the creaminess, blogger Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil says. The pears add sweetness, and the spinach delivers some essential nutrients and minerals. And the final creation can help keep you warm. Get therecipe here, via Love and Olive Oil.

29. Sautéed Julienned Zoodles

Sautéed Julienned Zoodles

Skinny Taste / Via

This sautéed “spaghetti” dish is actually made from zucchini, yellow squash, and carrots. Get the recipe here, via Skinny Taste.

The Liebster Award that’s been going around …

babes brandi jaz Monarch Marigold

I don’t know who started this trend, but The Liebster award has been going around my blogging circle!

I was nominated by Meghan, so without further adieu, here we go!

1. What is your favorite way to recover from a long, hard day?

Most days of the week are very long for me.  I typically am up and at the gym by 9 a.m., and I usually don’t return to my dorm room until late in the evenings.  To prove it, Cortana (the Windows version of Siri) recently showed me a map of the Williams Center (where my office is) and asked if I lived there.

So, I usually just end my long days by collapsing into bed and passing out.  If I’m not too tired, I’ll meditate, read, write poetry or read my Bible (judge me).

2. What would you do today if you knew you could not fail?

Today I attended a male pageant to benefit Cystic Fibrosis research.  If I knew I couldn’t fail, I probably would have marched up to one of the contestants and laid one on him, honestly.  Or punched my best friend’s ex-boyfriend in the face when he tried to kiss her in my cubicle.  Either works.

3. What is your Netflix guilty pleasure?

Grey’s Anatomy, honestly.  I didn’t want to like the show, I really didn’t — but every time I was at my boyfriend’s house, his mom was watching it, and I got hooked.  The funny thing is, blood makes me squeamish, so I watch the screen with my hands covering the parts with surgery (which is a good chunk of the show).  I know, that’s absolutely ridiculous.

4. Which comforts of home do you miss most when you’re at school?

I don’t miss home.  I only live an hour away, and I haven’t been home since January for a reason.  I can’t wait to be out on my own after graduation.  But, I can say I miss my cat and my water bed.  Dorm beds are not comfortable.


5. If you had to choose three words to describe yourself, which would you choose?

Separate words?  Friendly, happy and carefree.  People have told me all my life that I’m a great friend, I almost never seem unhappy and I basically go with the flow no matter what life throws at me.

6. What is your favorite vacation memory?

Define “vacation.”  I haven’t really been anywhere vacation-ey since I was about twelve, but in my summer before starting college, I took a road trip to Cedar Point with my boyfriend and our mutual friend.  That was a blast!  Also, last summer I went camping on my own for the first time with my boyfriend in Allegany — that’s a trip I will look upon fondly for a long time.
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7. What’s your most played song right now and why?

That’s near-impossible to decipher, since I listen to music 99% of my life.  Lately, it would probably be something by Tame Impala, or the song “Friday I’m In Love” by The Cure.

8. If you were sent to live on a deserted island alone for one week, what three items would you bring?

Burt’s Bees for sure — you’ll never find me without it.  Also, a good book and a pen.  I guess I’ll write poetry in the margins of the book if I don’t have room to bring a notebook, too.

9. Have you ever had any animals? If so, what are/were their names.

Black Lab named Brandi — she was my best friend.  We got her when I was born and she died when I was fifteen.

My kitty, Angel.  We got her in 2001 and she’s still kicking.

My Cockapoo, Jasmine — I think we got her in 2008.

Also various hermit crabs, snails, fish, a spider, a baby bunny I nursed back to health, various caterpillars,  butterflies and insects, and most recently, three salamanders — basically anything I can catch, I WILL bring home.

And an iguana named Iggy — he only lived a year.

10. Who is your celebrity crush?

Johnny Depp, obviously.

I am nominating:

Rob Bureau of The Road to Syracuse Nationals —

Minju Kim of Easy Korean Kooking —

Claire Woodcock of Indie-Nuts —

Jared Hill of Foster as Films —

Amanda Reimondo of A Bookworm’s Guide to Movies —

Questions to answer:

1. How do you deal with stress?

2. What’s the one junk food you couldn’t give up?

3. What are you giving up for Lent?  Or, what should you be giving up?

4. What are your Easter plans?  Any family traditions?

5. What thing/event are you looking forward to the most in the near future?

6. What are your summer plans?  Internship? Summer job?  Travel?

7. Why did you decide to go to college at FSU?

8. What’s your favorite exercise medium?

9. What’s your future dream job?

10. What’s something embarrassing about you?

Video: meet the author

Hi, everyone!

As you probably know, I’m a college student writing this blog as a part of a class.

My best friend Meghan did a little interview, so I edited together a quick little video so that you guys can put a face to my writing.

I am, in fact a journalism major, but in case you couldn’t tell, I’m passionate about health as well as the environment.

Here’s a little taste of me, and where the passion comes from.

Big thanks to Meghan for rolling camera!  By the way, you should check out her journalist spotlight blog: