Saturday, April 25, 2015

Today’s Imponderable: Why Does Popcorn Pop?

October 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Lifestyle

Popcorn is a tasty snack to make while having a movie night at home, and its noisy popping sounds make it especially fun for the little ones. By now you’re probably used to the popping noise of popcorn, but have you ever wondered how this happens? What is it that makes popcorn pop, while corn on the cob simply cooks?

On the inside, popcorn kernels are filled with oil, water, and starch, and the outside is covered with a protective shell. Heating popcorn—say, in the microwave—causes the liquids inside to expand into steam. Because the hard outer coating leaves nowhere for the steam to go, it simply gets hotter and hotter inside of the kernel until it eventually reaches 365 degrees, which is hot enough to burst through the shell! The action of the starch and oil expanding so quickly and with so much heat transforms the mixture into the familiar foam-like puff that we eat as popcorn.

The next time you make a bag of popcorn at home, examine the kernels and think of the science behind your favorite movie snack!

What Makes Popcorn Pop? []
Why Does Popcorn Pop? [Tell Me Why Facts]
Why Does Popcorn Pop? [Mental Floss]
How Popcorn Pops []

3 Recipes for Pumpkin Seeds

September 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Lifestyle

Even if you make roasted pumpkin seeds every fall, there are so many different recipes for this autumn snack that you probably haven’t tried them all. Here are three unique pumpkin seed recipes that will give a new taste to one of your favorite fall foods.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds [AllRecipes]
Two hefty teaspoons of butter help to bring out the natural flavor of the pumpkin seeds in this simple, basic recipe. Whether you buy a bag of seeds from the grocery store or extract them from the pumpkin yourself, you just can’t go wrong with this fall snack.

Pumpkin Seed Pesto [Whole Foods]
Fans of pesto will adore this unique recipe, which combines the fall flavors of pumpkin seeds with the unexpected taste of cilantro pesto. Store the finished product in your refrigerator to spread on sandwiches, drizzle over pasta, or use as a topping for baked chicken.

Asparagus, Potato and Spinach Galette [Woman's Day]
Galettes are very popular because of their versatility and their beautifully rustic appearance, and this one incorporates pumpkin seeds in a way that you’ve likely never tried before. Fill the rolled pie crust with Gruyere cheese, asparagus, and Yukon gold potatoes to create a truly filling meal that’s pretty enough to serve at parties or holiday gatherings.

4 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Tea

August 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Lifestyle

Whether you prefer a soothing green or an English breakfast with a splash of milk, tea is a delicious treat that can be enjoyed a number of different ways. Even the most experienced tea drinker may not know everything about this steaming beverage, so here are a few fascinating tea facts.

  1. The word “tea” comes from the Chinese word “t’e,” which refers to the plant from which tea leaves are sourced. It's believed that tea was first discovered in China around 2737 B.C., when emperor Shen Nong found that a few leaves fell from the tree into water that his servants were boiling.
  2. All teas, from black to green to oolong, come from the same camellia sinensis plant. Their leaves are plucked from the same bush, but the fermenting process gives them their unique styles. Interestingly enough, herbal teas do not come from this plant because they are not true “teas” at all.
  3. Tea wasn’t grown in countries outside of China until the 19th century. Today, China still supplies around 29 percent of the world’s total tea, although its residents are not the biggest consumers. The United Arab Emirates takes that title, with each individual citizen consuming an average of 14 pounds per year.
  4. Green tea is considered the healthiest of all teas, and some even call it a “superfood.” Studies show that regularly drinking green tea may prevent against heart disease, certain forms of cancer, and diabetes!

Tea Facts [UK Tea & Infusions Association]
10 Interesting Facts About Tea [Food Network]
Tea Fact Sheet – 2013 [Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc.]
26 Things You Didn't Know About Tea [Fine Dining Lovers]

Philadelphia’s Most Popular Vegetarian Restaurants

July 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Lifestyle

In a city whose most famous food is the cheese steak, it may seem difficult to maintain a meat-free lifestyle. Don’t fret, vegetarians, because Philadelphia is home to many more vegetarian restaurants than you may realize. Here are a few favorite spots for veggie lovers.

1) Vedge
This award-winning gourmet vegan restaurant is owned and operated by two renowned vegetarian chefs. The menu includes all-vegetable dishes inspired by cuisines from around the world, though all of the ingredients are locally sourced. Vedge’s handcrafted cocktails and an impressive wine selection also make the perfect additions to any dish.
1221 Locust St. Philadelphia, Pa. 19107; (215) 320-7500

2) HipCityVeg
For a more casual vegetarian lunch or dinner spot, HipCityVeg offers fresh, fast food made without any animal products. Each dish is 100% plant based, and everything from the food containers to the restaurant’s furnishings are recycled and made from energy-efficient materials. Flavorful salads, hearty veggie burgers, and sandwiches stacked high with toppings are all part of HipCityVeg’s tasty menu. Don't miss the eatery's signature Groothie!
127 S. 18th St. Philadelphia, Pa. 19103; (215) 278-7605

3) P.S. & Co.
With an industrial-style, light filled interior that’s just as appealing as its healthy menu, Locust Street’s P.S. & Co. is a must-try spot for Philly vegetarians and carnivores alike. The restaurant prides itself on being entirely organic, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher, but each dish is prepared in such a way that even non-vegetarians will love the taste. Breakfast includes yogurts and porridges, while lunch and dinner soups, salads, and wraps will fill you up and make you feel good about what you’re consuming.
1706 Locust St. Philadelphia, Pa 19103; (215) 985-1706

These 4 Tips Will Help You Keep Dust Under Control

July 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Lifestyle

There's no real right or wrong way to dust, but some methods are more effective than others. Here are a few must-read dusting tips and ways to keep dust at a minimum.

1) Dead skin cells and fabric bits are the two main components of dust. Yes, it's gross stuff, but a HEPA air purifier, in addition to regular dusting, can keep these microscopic particles from running amok. (Be sure to keep your HEPA filter running while you vacuum, as vacuum air is notorious for blowing dust around.)

2) Trade in that feather duster for a damp rag or a product intended specifically for dusting; they're much more effective and efficient at capturing dust particles.

3) Move from high to low. That is, dust taller surfaces, like ceiling fans and the top of bookcases, first and work your way down to the floor. This way, you won't be dirtying the surface you just cleaned with dust from above. Vacuum the floor thoroughly when your dusting is complete.

4) Don't ignore soft surfaces. Take a lint roller to your curtains, and be sure to wash your bedding and any furniture slipcovers weekly.

How do you keep dust under control? Sound off below!

Dust Allergy? 7 Smart Strategies to Get Rid of the Dust in Your House [Reader's Digest]
How to Dust Like a Pro [The Nest]
There's a Wrong Way to Dust? And 5 Other Cleaning Mistakes [Oprah]
Keep Dust Down [HGTV]

These Pasta Recipes Are Full of Flavor, Low in Carbs

July 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Lifestyle

If you’ve been paying attention to the buzz around the healthy eating world, you’ve likely heard whispers about spaghetti squash, zucchini “noodles,” and other grain-free pasta alternatives. Here’s the skinny on these low-carb dishes: They’re healthy, they’re fairly simple to make, and, if done correctly, they’re just as delicious as good old spaghetti and meatballs. Check out these three recipes to try for dinner tonight.

Smoked Mackerel and Leek Fettuccini
Low-carb spaghetti squash is substituted for traditional spaghetti noodles in this unique dish. Plus, the flavorful, aromatic blend of hearty smoked mackerel and two whole cloves of garlic creates such delicious flavor that you won’t even know that you aren’t eating real pasta.

Low-Carb Zucchini Pasta
This versatile recipe for zucchini pasta shows you how to create the perfect “noodle” base for just about any of your favorite pasta dishes. Once you peel the zucchini into the spaghetti-like strips, you can then cook it and top with marinara, Alfredo, or any other sauce of your choice.

Pasta alla Bolognese, Paleo Style
The Paleo diet is known for its emphasis on meats and veggies and not so much for things like pasta. If you’re avoiding grains to adhere to a Paleo lifestyle, this updated Italian classic will be a welcome alternative to your usual grilled chicken. The pasta is made out of spiraled rutabaga, and the clean meat sauce made of grass-fed beef is so well seasoned that you’ll just have to go back for seconds.

Love Mountain Biking? Read These Websites Before Hitting the Trails!

June 24, 2014 by  
Filed under Lifestyle

Whether you’re an avid mountain biker or you're just starting to learn the sport, there are a number of tips and tricks to keep mountain bikers of all skill levels safe, happy, and having fun. Here are some of the best mountain biking websites from all around the web.

The IMBA, or International Mountain Biking Association, offers helpful resources for mountain bikers on their easy-to-navigate website. Here, you’ll find news about the organization and mountain biking initiatives across the country, including fun IMBA events in your area.

MPORA Mountain Biking
You see some pretty incredible scenes while mountain biking, and the MPORA website features stories and photography showcasing some of the very best of these amazing rides. Explore affordable trails around the world, watch videos of some of the most impressive mountain biking stunts, and read up on helpful advice for your next ride all on this one stunning website.

If you’re looking for a site to help you choose a new bike or purchase parts for your existing one, MTBR is a great choice. This website, which stands for Mountain Bike Review, offers an ever-changing collection of gear reviews, articles about the latest bikes, and even forums where you can discuss your mountain bike with fellow riders.

8 Artichoke Recipes for Any Meal of the Day

May 27, 2014 by  
Filed under Lifestyle

With its layered texture and mild, versatile taste, the artichoke is a unique vegetable that goes in just about anything. We’ve seen a resurgence of artichoke popularity over the past couple of years, with restaurants offering it in everything from soups to salads to breakfast dishes.

Whether you’re already familiar with preparing artichokes for cooking or you want to learn how to eat this tasty veggie, these eight recipes offer something for home chefs of all skill levels.

Raw Artichoke Salad with Parmesan and Mint [Saveur]

Artichoke and Arugula Pizza with Prosciutto [Cooking Light]

Artichoke Bruschetta [All Recipes]

Cream of Artichoke Soup [Saveur]

Garlic and Crab Artichoke Dip [All Recipes]

Fettuccine with Artichokes and Chicken [Saveur]

Artichoke and Fennel Caponata [Cooking Light]

Artichoke Spinach Lasagna [All Recipes]

Want to Learn to Code? Try These Tutorials for Python and Ruby

April 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Lifestyle

Want to learn to write and run programs on your computer? Even if it may seem daunting, it's easy to get started. Helpful coders have developed fun online tutorials to help even beginners learn to program.

Programming languages vary in complexity, and two of the best languages for beginners are Python and Ruby. These languages each have simple to follow syntax, yet they're also powerful enough to form the basis of large scale software applications like Google and Twitter. If you're interested in learning some basic programming, here are some useful online tutorials:

Learn Python
Learn Python gathers a series of lessons together with an in-browser development environment, so you can begin writing programs without having to search for your computer's terminal command line. The course starts with basics like creating variables, loops, strings, and functions, and moves on to move complicated topics like classes, objects, regular expressions, and debugging. (If those terms don't mean anything to you yet, don't worry: Learn Python will explain them.)

Try Ruby
Like Learn Python, Try Ruby is an online tutorial that lets you write and run programs right in your browser. The course begins with simple lessons to teach you how to write Ruby programs that do math and manipulate text strings, then moves on to more complex topics like creating loops and designing programs.

Public Domain/Public Domain

Find Fresh Local Produce with a CSA Share

March 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Lifestyle

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, a community of individuals who monetarily support a local farm in exchange for fresh, seasonal produce and goods throughout the growing season. CSAs are wonderful ways to support local farmers and to ensure that you and your family eat locally grown vegetables. These sites can help you find a nearby CSA:

National Agricultural Library
The National Agricultural Library of the USDA offers a complete guide to CSAs on its websites. Here you’ll find information about how CSAs work, explanations of where food comes from, and educational literature about farming and agriculture. The site also offers a list of websites that can help you locate a CSA in any area across the country.

Local Harvest
The Local Harvest website offers informative tips and frequently asked questions to help visitors make informed decisions about becoming CSA members. It also features a map of CSA farms across the country, with a space to search by your own state or zip code.

Farm Locator
Not only does Farm Locator connect visitors with CSAs, it also connects farmers with other farmers, farmers to local businesses, and businesses to buyers to help improve the exchange of produce and goods from all sides. The detailed search option even allows you to browse the site by product, type of market, or area to find local farms.

Public Domain/Freeimagescollection

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