Why should you watch what you eat?

The importance of staying healthy

Today we can hear and read more and more about the importance of health. If you have ever been seriously ill, you know exactly why it is so vital to avoid diseases. One cannot live a whole life while fighting different kinds of medical conditions. In the last few decades the science of medicine has developed at an incredible pace, and this resulted in researches about healthy and unhealthy lifestyles as well. Scientists have found out that an unhealthy diet can lead to several chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, cardiovascular diseases or abnormal blood lipids. To avoid these maladies, we can do a lot ourselves by staying healthy. Apart from exercising on a regular basis and avoiding smoking, drugs and excessive alcohol consumption, we should also watch what we eat.

What to eat and what not to eat

Although there are still countless debates in this area, there is still some consensus among scientists about what sort of foods can be considered beneficial and unbeneficial for our health. Harmful foods include artificial sweeteners like aspartame, processed food like bacon, salami, microwave meals or soft drinks, fast food (hamburger, fries and alike), white flour or foods that contain a high level of white sugar. There are of course many kinds of foodstuff that we don’t have to (and shouldn’t) avoid. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy products like unprocessed cheese or natural yoghurt (for those who are not lactose intolerant), meat (preferably unprocessed), fish like salmon, nuts like almond, walnut or peanut and seeds.

Why healthy food?

Although unhealthy foods often taste better than healthy ones (due to a high amount of artificial components they contain, like flavor enhancers), there are several good reasons why you should avoid these things and stick to a healthy diet.

Healthy Diet

  1. Longer life

This is probably the best reason for eating healthy. According to research, a high consumption of fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fats from olive oil or fish can lengthen your life expectancy. Restricting the calories you take in can also add years to your life.

  1. Saving money

If living longer is the best reason for a healthy diet, saving money must be a close second. This one especially applies to those who live in a country where there is no public health insurance (like the United States), therefore people need to pay for their own medical treatments. Moreover, eating fast food is often more expensive than cooking something healthy at home.

  1. Staying in a good shape

If looking good is important to you, then you should eat healthy as well, since unhealthy foods mentioned above often cause obesity. Even if you exercise on a regular basis and thus burn lots of fat, it is much easier to keep fit by consuming healthy food and avoiding foodstuff rich in sugar.

Healthy body

  1. Feeling good

It is easier to stay in a good mood if your blood sugar is more or less stable. Consuming a high amount of the mentioned healthy foods can help you achieve this.

5 easy-to-make Christmas recipes

New recipes for an old holiday

Do you want to spice up Christmas with some unusual dishes, even if you are not an expert in the kitchen? So here are five great ideas for you.

  1. 3-ingredient buttery shortbread cookies

This insanely simple recipe will make you and your family addicted to these delicious cookies for a lifetime. You will need 2 cups salted cold butter cut into pieces, 1 cup brown sugar and 4 and half cups flour. Mix the butter and sugar together with a mixer until it’s light and fluffy. Add 3 and half cups flour and mix them until combined. Sprinkle a half cup flour on a large board, knead the dough for like 5 minutes, adding the remaining flour gradually. Roll the dough out to about half inch thickness, make cookies with a form, place them on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

  1. Christmas coffee

A great recipe for Christmas morning. Boil 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/3 cup water over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add 10 cups brewed coffee, stir and serve immediately with whipped cream, milk and sugar. You will have 10 servings of coffe.

  1. Candy cane lollipops

Yet another easy recipe using only three ingredients, making it a suitable choice for beginners and for those who like giving edible gifts for their loved ones. Place 12 peppermint candy canes into the preheated oven (160-180 °C) on a baking tray, arranging them in pairs so that they form heart shapes. Put a lolly stick between the two parts at the bottom of each heart. Bake them for 5 minutes, until they are soft enough for you to pinch them together at the top and the bottom of the hearts. Melt 200 gram white chocolate in the microwave, spoon the melted chocolate into the middle of the hearts so that it will fill the spaces. Scatter over one or more kinds of edible sprinkles, and leave the hearts until they are completely cool. Wrap them into cellophane bags, tie them with ribbons and they are ready to go.


  1. Funfetti shortbread bites

You will be very popular with your kids if you make these small, colorful bites. Mix 1 cup cold, salted butter with 2/3 cup sugar in an electric mixer until well combined, mix in a half teaspoon almond extract, then add 2 and 1/4 cups flour and mix again until well combined. Mix in 2 and a half tablespoons edible sprinkles of different colors, mix it well, then put it into the fridge for about 30 minutes. Make half-inch squares of the dough, put more sprinkles to the top, place the squares to a baking tray and bake them for 8-12 minutes.

  1. Potted salmon rillette

There is no Christmas without a fish dish, even if it’s just pâté. Put 100 gram cream cheese, 100 gram creme fraiche (or soured cream), 50 gram smoked salmon, 2 teaspoons creamed horseradish and some lemon juice into a food processor and mix until smooth. Fold in 50 gram smoked salmon squares and stir it a bit.


Why are electric pressure cookers better than conventional pressure cookers?

What are pressure cookers?

If you are not so familiar with the world of cooking, this might be the very first time you have ever heard the term “pressure cooker”. You might think that it is for people who are at an advanced level at the art of cuisine, and it takes years of practice to be able to use it. Right? Wrong! It is not at all complicated to use this kind of kitchen utensils. best pressure cooker 2016 are a kind of sealed vessels that use water in the cooking process. While boiling liquid in the closed cooker, the trapped stream increases the pressure inside and therefore the temperature rises as well. This way it reduces the duration of the cooking process, saving time, energy and money.


Types of pressure cookers

Today many different types of pressure cookers are available on the market, which can be divided into three main categories: first generation, second generation and third generation pressure cookers, which are also called electric pressure cookers.


First generation

As the name suggests it, this is the original version of pressure cookers. Basically it works by a weight-modified valve suddenly releasing pressure, which makes a loud whistling sound. This process is similar to how a steam engine’s piston works. Usually there is only one pressure level on these kinds of cookers, although on some new models it is modifiable by changing the weight of the valve.


Second generation

These types of pressure cookers work with a spring-loaded valve that is usually hidden from view. They generally offer two or more pressure settings by using a proprietary mechanism. Some second generation cookers do not release steam during operation but use a rising indicator that shows the level of pressure. This way the steam can only come out when you open the pan, or if this doesn’t happen and the pan reaches the required cooking pressure, the steam will be released by itself as a safety precaution.


Third generation (electric pressure cookers)

The newest type of pressure cookers work with an electric heat source that is able to maintain the operating pressure by regulating it automatically.

Electric Cooker

Why are electric pressure cookers better?

Electric cookers are more convenient for several reasons.

  • They offer automatic heat settings, so you don’t need to deal with it yourself after setting up the ideal temperature.
  • These cookers can combine different kinds of electric appliances like rice cooker, yoghurt maker, slow cooker, steamer or stockpot warmer, so you don’t need to keep a separate cooker for each of these. This fact makes them perfect for those who have a very limited kitchen space, like college students.
  • If you have a busy schedule and have no time for cooking, electric pressure cookers can make your life much easier. Many cookers offer a cooking delay timer, on which you can set the time you want cooking to begin, even a time when you are not home yet. This way cooking can start before anyone gets home, and get ready by the time the whole family sits down at the table.

To meat or not to meat?

An ancient debate

The question whether people should or should not eat meat is a very old one. There are countless followers on the side of meat eaters and vegetarians as well, but the question is still open. This could be due to the fact that there is no conclusive scientific evidence about this issue, so there are no objective criteria that can help us decide about our meat consumption.

What is vegetarianism?

First of all, we should define what the word “vegetarian” means. This is not an easy thing to do, since there are several kinds of vegetarians, so there is no singe definition we could use. Some vegetarians avoid red meat like pork or beef, but still eat poultry and fish. Others abstain from both red and white meat, but still consume seafood. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat any meat or eggs, but they do eat dairy products like milk, cheese or yoghurt, while ovo-vegetarians consume eggs but avoid meat and dairy products. The combination of these two is called ovo-lacto vegetarian, which term refers to people whose diet include eggs and dairy products as well. The strictest form of vegetarianism covers people who are vegan. This means that they avoid every kind of animal product, including honey and gelatin.


Why choose vegetarianism?

There can be several reasons behind this choice.

  • According to ethical reasons, we should avoid eating meat because animals have rights too, and they should be treated with respect.
  • There are also some environmental concerns behind vegetarianism. This theory suggests that producing and eating meat raise some serious environmental issues. One of them is pollution: eating meat causes more greenhouse-gas emission than vehicles (cars, trucks and airplanes) do together. Moreover, meat production is responsible for polluting rivers and streams with animal waste and chemicals from factory farms.
  • Another good reason is about your health. Since meat does not contain any fibers, replacing it with vegetables can help your metabolism work better and avoid constipation.

Why eat meat?

Now that we have mentioned some causes for vegetarianism, we should also say a few words in defense of eating meat.

  • The first theory is about our evolutionary development, which says that humans are designed to consume both plants and animals. We are omnivores, therefore our body functions the best if we eat both of these two.
  • Meat contains a high level of protein and amino acids, which are vital for our health. Although plants like legumes contain some of these as well, consuming them exclusively will not provide us with all the essential amino acids we need.


Is there any conclusion?

Actually, there is. As we can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages of eating meat, as well as with being vegetarian. Before choosing one side, you should evaluate each of these options based on your own values and beliefs. Keep in mind that a lifestyle that is suitable for one person may not be suitable for everyone, therefore always accept other people’s choice with respect!

Masterbuilt electric smoker vs. Bradley electric smoker

What are electric smokers?

Have you ever heard the term electric smoker? Unless you are an expert in the kitchen, probably not. So here is the answer: electric smokers are used for smoking meat in a convenient way, since you don’t need to supervise the process. This fact makes these kitchen appliances especially popular these days, due to the fact that most people don’t have the time for standing by the smoker all day long and wait for the meat to get ready.


The method of smoking meat

Smoking meat is a very old method from the prehistoric ages, used for preserve red meat and fish. Today it is quite easy to protect food from going bad, so smoking is mainly used for making delicacies, because smoking gives food an enhanced flavor.


Which type of electric smoker should I purchase?

Once you have decided to start smoking meat at your home, you need to decide which machine you want to buy. There are several types and brands available on the market, so it will not be an easy choice. First you must decide which parameters are the most important ones for you, and base your decision on that. To make your choice a little bit easier, we will now introduce three models and compare them according to some basic parameters. We have chosen 3 popular models:  Masterbuilt electric smoker 20070910 30-inch Black Electric Digital Smoker, Masterbuilt 20070411 30-inch Top Controller Electric Smoker and Bradley Smokers Original Smoker. Let’s see the list!


  1. Price

When we talk about price, we don’t only mean a price tag; we rather mean value for money. This can be influenced by the used material, warranty, safety and convenience features. Considering all of these, we would pick Black Electric Digital Smoker.


  1. Unit dimensions

Before deciding about the size of your smoker, you should know what you will mainly use it for. For business purposes, you’d better choose a bigger one, while for home usage a smaller one is enough. Moreover, you have to take into account how much space is available for the machine. Considering these factors, we have chosen the same model like in the first category.


  1. Ease of use

This one is especially important for beginners. The ideal device is user-friendly (it has features that will make it easy to operate), has wheels in order to make it easier to move it around, and preferably has a remote control. Taking all these into account, the best choice in this category is the Top Controller Electric Smoker.


  1. Construction

The construction of a device can indicate the lifespan of the machine. You should watch out the used materials and design. In this category, the winner has been the Top Controller Electric Smoker again.


  1. Ease of cleaning

This does not require any explanation. The winner was yet again the Top Controller Electric Smoker.



The best machine has been the Top Controller Electric Smoker, the winner of 3 categories out of 5. You probably won’t be disappointed if you choose this one, and hopefully will have lots of fun with it.

How to make your own barbecue sauce?

Why is barbecuing such a popular hobby?

If you turn on your TV these days and switch to a lifestyle channel, you will find a surprisingly high amount of several kinds of cooking shows. The selection is quite wide: traditional cuisine, ethnic cuisine, baking, grilling, barbecuing and so on. It seems that food preparation is not just another boring housework anymore, it is a hobby now for many people. So why has barbecuing become a passion? Well, it is a creative activity that you can do together with your friends or your family members while being outside on fresh air, which makes it an appealing hobby.

Sauce 2

What equipment will you need for barbecuing?

First of all, you will need a proper grill. If you are a beginner, don’t buy anything fancy; you can start discovering outdoor cooking with a 100-200 dollars grill for a start. You should also get a lid in order to fight strong winds and to be able to cook the food more evenly. Besides these two, you will also need some basic things like a spatula, tongs, brushes, a thermometer, gloves and fire starters.

The essence of barbecuing: the sauce

Once you have all the necessary equipment, you can start thinking about the ingredients. If you know anything about BBQ, you know that the most important one is probably the sauce. You can find a huge variety of barbecue sauce at any big supermarket, which might seem like a convenient solution. However, making your own sauce is often a much better idea. Why? Because it is cheaper, healthier and you can make it completely for your own taste. If you have a very specific notion about what kind of sauce you want, you may not find that exact type at the store.

A basic barbecue sauce

Before starting to experiment with anything complicated, you should start with a simple recipe which is easy to make, even for beginners. You will need 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 1 dash hot pepper sauce, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir them together in a small saucepan over medium heat for about 10 minutes, then bring to a simmer for a little time and then remove it from the heat. Let it cool down a bit for approximately 10 minutes before brushing it on the meat.


Ready for something special?

If you have a not so usual taste about barbecue, you should try this quite unique sauce with blackberries, which will give a sweet and fruity savor for the meat. Although the sauce is quite unusual, it is still very easy to make. You will need 1/2 cup blackberry preserves, one and half cups ketchup, 1/8 cup brown sugar, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder and two tablespoons red wine vinegar. Simply mix the ingredients thoroughly in a medium bowl and it is ready to use. It is ideal for grilling pork and beef ribs.

Dessert – the most important meal

The importance of sweetness

Even if you are not so familiar with cooking and the whole concept of kitchen, you most certainly know what desserts are. Most of us met these great things during our childhood, and got addicted to them right away. This is no coincidence: according to scientists we are programmed this way, so there is nothing we could do about it (although some self control won’t hurt).

What kinds of desserts can we choose from?

This might be quite a funny question, since we all know the answer and we can immediately recognize a dessert if we see one. But let’s go through them one by one, just for the sake of order, shall we?

  1. Cakes

This is probably the first thing that pops into our mind when we think about dessert. These sweet tender breads can come in many different flavors: chocolate, nuts or fruit, and can be filled and decorated with for instance fruit preserves, dessert sauces like pastry cream, butter cream, marzipan and candied fruit. Cakes are typical parts of different kinds of celebrations, like birthdays, weddings or anniversaries.

  1. Candy and chocolate

There are three main types of chocolate available: milk, dark and white chocolate. They are usually consumed by themselves, but often used as ingredients for other desserts as well. Candies include lollipops, marshmallow, caramel, liquorices, hard candy, gummi candy and jelly beans.

Candy And Choclate

  1. Cookies and biscuits

Cookies are small pieces of pastries that can be soft, crispy or chewy. They include many different kinds and can be made of several ingredients. The most well known type is probably the famous chocolate chip cookie, which is especially popular in the United States.

  1. Puddings and custards

Usually made of dairy products and can be eaten by themselves or can be used as fillings for cakes, pies or pastries. The most famous custard is likely the French Crème brûlée. Puddings can be boiled, steamed and baked, and can be made with flavors like chocolate, vanilla or different kinds of fruit. In many supermarkets we can buy instant puddings which do not require any cooking and can be made by simply mixing the powder with milk.


  1. Frozen desserts

Ice cream is the best summer desert and it can have many different flavors like vanilla, chocolate, nuts, fruits and other special flavors such as chewing gum, rice, tiramisu, mint and so on. Apart from ice cream, we should also mention sorbet, frozen yoghurt, milk shake or parfait in this category.

  1. Deep-fried desserts

Doughnuts can be the most liked ones in this category all around the world. Apart from being a kind of dessert, doughnuts are often eaten for breakfast or as afternoon snack with coffee.

Deep Fried

What about our health?

Since desserts contain a high level of carbohydrates and sugar, they are not considered as parts of a healthy diet, and if consumed in a large amount, they can cause conditions like obesity, diabetes, Candida or tooth decay. However, we can avoid these if we consume them with moderation.

Advantages of adding pulses in your diet

What are pulses?

Pulses (or legumes) are kinds of plants whose fruit is enclosed in a pod. They include for instance beans, peas, peanuts, chickpeas, lentils, carob, clover, lupins, alfalfa or tamarind. Apart from human and animal consumption, they are often used in crop rotation, due to the fact that many of them have symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria.


Why are they good for you?

Legumes are nutritious vegetables that are low in fat, contain no cholesterol but are high in magnesium, protein, fiber, beneficial fats, folate, calcium, zinc, vitamin B6, iron and potassium. If you are a vegetarian, legumes should be a vital part of your diet.


Protein contains amino acids that are essential for the health of your immune system or your muscles. The human body produces some amino acids itself, but the so called essential amino acids come from out of the body (from food).


Consuming a moderate amount of fat is also vital in order to stay healthy. However, too much of it (and the wrong kind of it) can harm your health and lead to diseases. Meats for example contain saturated fats and cholesterol, that can cause cardiovascular disorders if consumed in a large amount. Legumes on the other hand contain cholesterol-free lipids comprise unsaturated fats that are good for your heart, and can lower the risks of cancer and diabetes.


Fibers play an important role in the digestive process. Some kinds of them help avoiding constipation (like insoluble fiber) and regulating blood cholesterol (soluble fiber). Unlike legumes, meat does not contain any fibers.


Iron plays a major role in avoiding fatigue and reduced mental functions. Your body can gain it from plants (non-heme iron) and meat (heme iron) as well. The main difference between the two is that heme iron is more “ready” when it enters the bloodstream from the digestive tract, so it is easier for the body to absorb iron from meat than from plants. However, consumed together with foods rich in vitamin C, legumes can also provide your system with the sufficient amount of iron.

How should they be consumed?

Some types of legumes, like peas can be eaten both row or cooked, while others like lentils or beans should always be cooked. Legumes are usually available dried and canned in stores (or in the case of peas, row), and their price is often relatively low. In most cases they should be soaked first in room-temperature water before being cooked. Before soaking, you should carefully pick through the pieces, throwing out discolored ones. The soaking process can be quick or slow, taking from only one hour to more than four hours.

Pulses 2

What is the suggested daily intake of legumes?

According to Grains and Legumes Nutrition Council (Australia), we should consume legumes at least 2 or 3 times a week. The ideal amount recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines is 5 or 6 serves of vegetables every day, which includes legumes. One serve of legumes can be a half cup of cooked, dried or canned beans or lentils.

10 Healthy Recipes Using Almonds

Why should you have almonds in your kitchen?

Almonds are a kinds of nuts that are both delicious and healthy, and this fact makes them the perfect snack. Moreover, you can make a huge variety of dishes by using it as an ingredient. Here are 10 recipes for almond lovers.

  1. Spiced almonds

Here is a tip for a great, crispy afternoon snack. Mix together an egg white with sweet paprika, dark brown sugar, salt, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce, add the almonds, blend it well and toss it into the oven for about 20 minutes.

Spiced Almond

  1. Almond and coconut macaroons

For this light snack you should bland together 2/3 cup sugar with 2 egg whites, 2 cups coconut, 1/2 cup chopped almond and some vanilla extract, form small piles of it and bake it for 15 minutes.

  1. Strawberry spinach salad

A perfect summer salad with red onion, baby spinach, strawberries, blue cheese, almonds, red wine vinaigrette, salt and pepper. Just mix together the chopped ingredients with the spices and it is ready to eat.

  1. Green beans with goat cheese, tomatoes and almonds

Yet another great salad for summer time. You will need sliced almonds, green beans, cherry tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese, shallots and spices like salt, pepper, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, olive oil and minced garlic.

Bean Almonds

  1. Chocolate-almond smoothie

For this low-calorie smoothie you should put 1 cup almond milk, 8 raw almonds, 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder and 3 ice cubes into a blander, and puree it until it’s smooth.

  1. Chocolate almond hearts

Probably the most simple healthy snack you have ever met. All you need to do is dip some almonds halfway into melted chocolate (with their ends down), stick them together 2 by 2 at their chocolate side, and let them dry on a wax paper.

  1. Cranberry almond chicken salad

Stir together chopped cooked chicken, baked slivered almonds, dried cranberries, celery ribs, diced sweet onion, some mayonnaise, Greek seasoning and lemon juice. Serve it in a lettuce-lined bowl.

  1. Uptown figs

For this funny looking yet delicious dessert you should cut a slit in large side of dried figs, cutting to stem end. Mix together soft cream cheese with powdered sugar and orange liqueur. Fill the figs with this mixture and a piece of salted, roasted almond (one for each fig), then press the figs lightly together in order to secure the filling. If you don’t serve them immediately, keep them in the fridge.

  1. Pecan almond butter

In order to make this healthy topping, you will need to put baked almond and pecan into a food processor along with honey, cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Process it until it’s creamy and smooth, for about 5-8 minutes.

Butter almonds

  1. Tomato and almond pesto

Another recipe using food processor. Put sliced almonds into the machine and process until it is lightly ground. Add dried tomatoes, basil, vinegar and red pepper. Process it for about 30 seconds, while pouring in olive oil. Afterwards stir in some salt and Parmesan cheese.

3 easy chicken soup recipes

A neglected group of food: soups

When we hear the term “cooked dinner”, most of us wouldn’t even think about any kind of soup. Instead, we often think of dishes like lasagna, steak, burgers, meatloaf with mashed potato, some delicious pasta, grilled chicken with rich garnish and so on. Soup reminds many people to the moneyless college years when all they could afford for dinner was some instant or canned soup with very poor nutritional value. It doesn’t need to be this way though. Soup can be a rich, delicious and healthy choice that makes dinner time a special and memorable occasion especially during winter, when a bowl of hot soup can warm you up after a cold day. Besides, most soups are quite easy to make: all you need to do is cut the ingredients, toss them into a pot of water, add some spices and wait for the tasty result.


A healthy cold medicine

We have all heard stories of the power of chicken soup over any other kind of cold medicine. Is it just an urban legend or does it really work? Well, although there is no conclusive scientific evidence behind this theory, it probably works. Soup keeps your body hydrated and warm, it has no side effects that many cold medicines do, it contains vitamins due to the vegetables in the soup and since it is easy to digest, it doesn’t slow down your metabolism like other “heavy” foods do, so your immune system can focus on the healing process better.


Let’s start cooking!

Did this intro make you feel like you want to eat chicken soup still today? That’s great news! Don’t worry if you are not a cooking expert yet, the following recipes should be easy to make even for beginners.


  1. Classic chicken soup

Let’s start with a classic. This recipe will require about 15 minutes of preparation and 50 minutes of cooking. You will need a whole chicken, 6 peeled carrots, 4 celery stalks, one large, quartered yellow onion, 2 and a half teaspoon salt and one teaspoon whole black peppercorns. Put the chicken into a big pot, add the cut vegetables (save 3 carrots and 2 celery stalks) with salt and pepper and around 8 cups of cold water to cover it all. Boil it, then reduce the cooking temperature and simmer, while skimming the foam from the top until the chicken is fully cooked. Put the chicken into a bowl, strain the soup, add the remaining vegetables, simmer until tender (around 10 minutes), then add the shred chicken.


  1. Mediterranean chicken soup

Very similar to the first one, except for the followings: you will also need 10 ounce couscous cooked, 1-1 cup olive and parsley leaves, wedges of one lemon and 15 ounce can chickpeas. Follow the instructions above, then stir in the chickpeas, put the other ingredients into bowls, pour the soup on them and serve with the wedges.


  1. Southwestern chicken soup

You will need a pan, a jar of salsa verde, chicken pieces, cannellini beans and chicken broth; boil them, simmer for 10 minutes and done. Simple as canned soup, but more delicious!

Southwestern Chicken Soup