The Big three and other Underachievers

No, I’m not talking about GM, Ford, and Chrysler, but McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. I really don’t want to spend too much time talking about burgers I don’t like, but I feel compelled to talk about the state of fast food in America.

I do find it curious which burgers we’ve made popular in America, as if there was no concern for quality, only convenience, and perhaps marketing skills. In fact, “the McDonald’s argument” is a generic term for describing a condition where the product that sells the most is confused with the being the product that’s actually the best. As Frank Zappa used to say, “What stinks sells, and what sells stinks.”

If you talk to most people and ask them about their favorite burger, more often than not you’ll hear about Big Macs and Whoppers. In Los Angeles, it’s a comfort to hear the term “Double-Double” thrown in as well, but still, there’s a lot of schooling that needs to happen in the world of burgers.

McDonald’s: I’m not about to start bashing McDonald’s. That’s already been done a million times by others. Others, by the way, who have had their pants sued off.

Yes, apparently McDonald’s feels that they have a lot to protect, as if people would stop being addicted to their burgers if they found out a little soy or oatmeal was thrown into the mix.

I remember when Johnny Carson had to publicly apologize to McDonald’s for cracking a joke which suggested that “100% beef” was a dubious claim. I remember the mathematician who was sued for allegedly proving that not enough cattle have existed in the history of the world to make the “billions and billions” of hamburgers that McDonald’s has served over the years.

But the real reason why I’m not going to bash McDonald’s is because once in a while I get a Quarter Pounder with Cheese that’s come hot off the grill, and it’s a pretty decent burger. It ain’t The Apple Pan, but it’ll do in a pinch.

I’ll also admit that out of the Big Three, I probably go to McDonald’s the most, more than I care to admit. Like most people, I enjoy the convenience. I also enjoy the consistency, which is perhaps McDonald’s greatest strength. They may be consistently mediocre, but, like Holiday Inn, you always know what you’re going to get when you walk into a McDonald’s.

I’ve been in McDonald’s from San Ysidro to Salamanca, and I’ve pretty much gotten exactly what I expected, and that’s a rare thing in today’s world. Let’s face it, the standards are high. The restaurant is usually pretty clean. The person at the counter usually thanks you and asks you to come again. I know that sounds pretty basic, but compared to some other fast food places, it’s almost a miracle.

That said, I must say that the Big Mac is the worst hamburger I’ve ever eaten. It’s the only hamburger that I’ll actually turn down, although the Whopper is getting close, too. Hamburgers are a lot like pizza, and sex, that even when they’re bad, they’re still pretty good. You can take some ground beef, throw it in a microwave oven and zap it until it’s hard, and put it between a couple of slices of Wonder Bread, and it’s still fairly edible. Not so with the Big Mac.

I’m not sure what disgusts me the most, the high bread-to-meat ratio, the copious amounts of shredded lettuce, the stale taste of the secret sauce (which is really just bad Thousand Island dressing). It’s just that when you eat a burger, the primary flavor should be beef, and everything else should complement that.

With the Big Mac, the flavor of the meat is buried under a host of different, less interesting flavors, which is amazing since they actually put two patties in this beast! I don’t know if putting in a couple of the quarter-pound patties would help, or removing the middle piece of bread. For me, it’s a lettuce-and-pickle sandwich, not a real burger.

Burger King: Burger King’s inclusion in the Big Three has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I think their menu is one of the most uninteresting around; I often stand there at the counter and think, is this all they have? The only reason I really ever go to Burger King is that for some reason my kids love it, and I think that has more to do with the toys in the kids’ meals than with the actual food.

For me, the fatal flaw in Burger King’s execution is the preponderance of microwaving. Let me illustrate. Once I was in the drive-thru, and I could clearly hear the guy ahead of me yelling his order into the little speaker. “I want a Whopper, hold the pickles…NOT MICROWAVED! I want a chicken sandwichNOT MICROWAVED! I want a large order of onion ringsNOT MICROWAVED!” Do you think they might have a small PR problem?

Burger King has relied so strongly on microwaving everything that they don’t even hide it anymore. Those microwave ovens are right up front, where everyone can see them. After you’ve ordered a burger, they brazenly throw it in, right in front of you. Frankly, I’m amazed at this.

Microwaving is not a good idea. A hamburger that has been microwaved loses even more of its flavor. Usually, a microwaved burger just tastes of heat and steam, and it usually burns your mouth. A fresh burger patty, seconds off the grill, usually isn’t hot enough to burn your mouth. But a microwaved burger, five minutes later, will.

I think this is abhorrent, considering that BK has made its reputation on their charbroiled burgers, and how they spent so many years saying that flame-broiling burgers was so much more tasty than frying them on the grill. Personally, I don’t think it matters once you throw it in a microwave.

It’s more than the incessant microwaving that has me concerned. I really think that the quality of Burger King has been slipping steadily over the last few years, to the point where I’ve told my children that I simply don’t want to take them there anymore.

For instance, they’ve introduced a series of more upscale burgers at least a couple of times, Back Porch Grillers, Angus burgers, whatever, and so far these have been uniformly awful. It doesn’t really matter if you’re using a superior ground beef if you flame-broil the crap out of it and then stick it in a microwave.

And, like I mentioned before, the Whopper has become my second-least favorite burger over the last few years. It tastes fatty and bland. Like the Big Mac, it is the fast food equivalent of a Greek Burger (see the chapter on the Greek Burger Syndrome coming up ahead).

For me, the only decent burger at Burger King is the little one, the so-called regular hamburger, the one you can get for under a buck. I almost think that this is Burger King’s one saving grace, because of all the regular burgers at all of the fast food joints, I actually think I like this one the best.

The famous little burger at McDonald’s, for instance, has a patty that’s way too small for the bun. And Wendy’s, for some reason, doesn’t seem to care about their 99 cent burgers as much as their bigger burgers; they’re dry and flavorless, surprisingly enough. But the little burger at Burger King, when not zapped in the microwave first, has a lot of flavor.

Once in a while they have specials where the regular little burger is 49 cents, the double is 99 cents, and the triple is a buck forty-nine. That’s usually the only time you’ll catch me at Burger King anymore, because it’s such an outstanding bargain at those prices.

I actually prefer the double, because three patties throws the whole burger a little out of balance. And I like putting bacon on it too, but apparently they use very special pigs for their bacon, because adding it to a double cheeseburger drives the price to almost three bucks, where it is no longer such a bargain.

But they even screwed up the little burger the last time I went, which indeed may be the last time, ever. When I unwrapped it, the outside of the bun was covered in ketchup, making a terrible mess before I even took the first bite. It looked as if they didn’t even care when they made it, they just slapped it together without consulting the BK training manual. It looked like some homeless guy wandered in off the street and made my burger. It was that bad.

Wendy’s: I’ve had a real love-hate relationship with Wendy’s over the years. I had even boycotted them for over five years back in the late eighties. I know that’s surprising, considering how instrumental Wendy’s was in developing my love for hamburgers. Then again, that’s part of the problem.

It’s not so much the burgers themselves that have me disgusted. They’re still pretty good, although I think they’re not as good as they used to be. For me, the infuriating thing about Wendy’s is their service. Compared to a standard-bearer like McDonald’s, Wendy’s is positively rude. They almost never say thank you, and for me, that’s downright foolish. McDonald’s, again, always thanks you. But the real reason I had to stop going to Wendy’s was because I simply got tired of them screwing up my order.

Do you remember Joe Pesci’s diatribe against fast food drive-thru windows in Lethal Weapon 2? He (or more accurately, the screenwriter) was obviously talking about Wendy’s. I’m a little finicky about what I put on my burgers. And that was one of the original things I liked about Wendy’s, that they made it really easy for you to make special orders.

But after a few years (really, after Wendy’s became a big international burger chain in the early eighties), they started to excel at getting my order wrong. In fact, it had gotten to the point where they got it wrong more often than they got it right. And I’m not talking about one particular location, but rather several locations in several different states.

I remember the day I decided to stop going to Wendy’s. Ordinarily, I order a double cheeseburger, no pickle or tomato. So I did thatyes, in the drive-thruand a few miles down the road I discovered that my burger had nothing on it exceptyes, you guessed itpickles and tomatoes. They had even forgotten the cheese.

So basically, after I took off the pickles and tomatoes, I had basically meat and a bun. I thought about going back and angrily heaving the burger back through that evil drive-thru window. (I actually did that once, at Carl’s Jr., but I was really tired and I felt really bad and apologized to everyone afterward.) Instead, I did what most people would do. I quietly ate the burger and vowed never to go back ever again.

So why did I go back eventually? I’m not sure why, but I think it had something to do with the fact that they started serving chicken sandwiches. Several people told me how good they were, and I finally gave in.

I reminded myself, too, about the fries, that they were by far the best of the Big Three, and that it was probably really difficult to screw up a chicken sandwich, fries and a soda. And I found out that their chicken sandwiches are excellent, easily the best of the Big Three. The chicken breasts that they use are large and nicely seasoned, with a little more black pepper in the breading than the other guys. And usually Wendy’s is a little imaginative with their variations on the chicken sandwich, such as the Monterey Jack version, which is very tasty.

So I went back to Wendy’s from time to time, and ordered the chicken sandwiches, never the burgers. And I thought about the irony, that here was a place that prided itself and built a reputation with “hot and juicy burgers,” and here was a guy who was totally addicted to burgers, and preferred getting the chicken sandwich. Even worse, this was a guy who finally realized he loved burgers the very first time he went to Wendy’s.

Yes, I’ll admit that I have had a few burgers from Wendy’s in the last few years. But like I said, they aren’t as good as they used to be, and like with the fries at McDonald’s, I’m not sure why. The meat is a little drier than before, and I don’t think that the condiments are the freshest in the biz.

And I really hate how they still insist on putting mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise on their burgers. In fact, I still, from time to time, order the Wendy’s burger kid-style, that is, mustard, ketchup and cheese. It’s not half-bad that way. I’d really like to order it normal, hold the pickle, tomato and ketchup, add some bacon, but I’m sure that’s too complicated for them, and they’d only mess it up, so I refrain.

The Others: Since we’re in Southern California, I guess when I mention the other big fast food burger joints, I’m talking mainly about Jack-In-The-Box and Carl’s Jr. I think they’re about equal in terms of quality, and I think Carl’s probably has a slight edge in taste. But I go to JITB much more often than Carl’s simply because I have more respect for them.

Why? It’s the advertising.

I know it sounds dumb to pick any product simply because the commercials are better, but then again, why do you think companies spend so much money on the right advertising? Because a funny commercial makes people want to patronize your business.

Frankly, Carl’s Jr. has some of the worst advertising I’ve ever seen. Their commercials lately seem to be shooting for the young guy demographic, you know, all those guys in the beer commercials who just want to party and get laid and who, apparently, have never learned to cook for themselves.

It doesn’t sound that bad, an advertising campaign based upon the idea that “if it wasn’t for us, some guys would starve.” But in execution, these commercials are flat, humorless, and flat-out dumb.

It didn’t even start with that. The previous Carl’s campaigned focused on close-ups of people eating their big, messy food, with lots and lots of sound effects. “Don’t bother me, I’m eating” was the theme of this particular campaign, but they failed to realize that watching other people chewing noisily and smacking their lips and dripping goo down the front of their shirts wasn’t necessarily appetizing, even if it’s a relatively hot chick doing the eating.

But for me, the worst commercial of all, the one that really made me question if I’d ever give Carl’s Jr. another dollar of mine, was the one about the Jalapeno burger and the baby in the sonogram. Yes, you read that right.

Some guy at the ad agency thought it would be a good idea to feature a fetus, communicating via a sonogram monitor, that he was tired of his mother eating all those spicy jalapeno burgers. We even see the baby actually grab a handful of his mother’s uterus and threaten to rip some of it on the way out when he’s born.

MmmmmI’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Jack-in-the-Box, however, has some of the funniest commercials I’ve seen in a long time. It was sheer genius resurrecting the original clown, calling him Jack, and making him the charming yet sardonic CEO of the company.

The commercials are full of fun little details, too, such as when we are shown Jack’s driver’s license, and see that he’s six-foot-ten. With that huge head, of course he’s that tall! And then fun carries over from the commercials and into the restaurant themselves, where we see pictures of Jack in the seventies, with long hair and sideburns.

But before I paint JITB in too positive of a light, I must say that they did a spectacular job of ruining one of the best fast food burgers of all time, the Ultimate Cheeseburger. For years this was one of my guilty pleasures, one of my favorite burgers despite the fact that the patty itself was one of the most flavorless out there. I think that almost everyone makes a better patty than JITB at this point.

Where JITB excels, however, is in being creative with their menu, and providing interesting ways to mask the fact that their patty is far from the best.

The Ultimate Cheeseburger, in its original form, was a thing of beauty, a carnivore’s dream. Even boxer George Foreman, another self-admitted burger junkie, put it at the top of his list, along with Fatburger.

The UC was a two-patty burger with three kinds of cheese, a special sauce, and a bun. For me, it was the greatest burger for a finicky eater like me since The Big Plain. I ate quite a few UCs over the years, more than I’m willing to admit. And I used to say to myself that there were only two things that it neededbacon, and a fresh, unfrozen patty. That would have made it a truly great burger, as opposed to be just a guilty pleasure.

A little more about that sauceI’m not sure what it is exactly, but it’s not Thousand Island dressing nor ketchup and mayonnaise mixed together, like most secret sauces. It’s definitely mayonnaise-based, with an undercurrent of horseradish.

Part of me thinks it’s a variation on hollandaise sauce. Someone once suggested to me that it’s mostly Miracle Whip, but I’ve never tasted that in my life, so I don’t know. I know that it’s also not just mayo and horseradish, since I’ve tasted Dijonnaise, hoping that it was the JITB sauce in a jar. It wasn’t. Needless to say, I dig that sauce, and the more they use, the better. That sauce helps to alleviate the general dryness of those patties.

Well, JITB listened on the first score. They added baconfour pieces of it!and called it The Colossus. I loved it! Every one I ate took a half an hour off my life, I’m sure, but it was arguably worth it. And the crazy thing about The Colossus was that when it first came out, it was only 4 cents more than the regular Ultimate Cheeseburger! That’s a penny per strip of bacon! Take that, Burger King, and your expensive pigs!

Well, I knew that my second request would never be granted, because it’s a big thing to ask a restaurant to commit to never freezing their beef. But I didn’t expect JITB to go in the opposite direction. It wasn’t really their fault, though.

Back in the early 90s, JITB locations in the Pacific Northwest were hit with a strain of E. Coli that nearly ruined them. After that, JITB made sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that every patty was burnt to a crisp in an effort to squash all those nasty bacterial critters. But those were rough days for Ultimate Cheeseburger lovers. If you thought that Jack-in-the-Box’s burgers were bland and dry before, then that little nightmare in Washington State surely drove you away for good.

But it gets worse. After a while, things calmed down, and JITB stopped cooking their patties in the mouth of an active volcano. And then, Jack started talking about his new, improved burgers with better meats, and better sauces. Well, I was all excited about the meat claim, hoping they finally came up with a patty that was as good as the rest of the sandwich. And, wellit was okay.

Perhaps it was as least as good as it was before the food poisoning scare. But what about this improved sauce? Nervously, I tried it, and realized, with utter frustration, that new sauces meant mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise instead of the old white sauce. I was outraged!

Fortunately, I discovered a trick. I found out that you could order the Ultimate Cheeseburger, with and without bacon (they stopped calling it The Colossus after a while and just started calling it the Ultimate Cheeseburger with Bacon), and a few other of their burgers (such as the also formerly yummy Sourdough Bacon Burger) with the white sauce. They call it “old-style.”
One counterperson told me that quite a few people were doing this, and a lot of people were complaining about the new, better sauces. I’m glad it wasn’t just me. Maybe Jack will listen and change it back.

Menus for crohn’s disease

Are you looking for menus for crohn’s disease? Are you worried about what foods to eat whether at home or not? Well, you have come to the right place! On this page we will discuss crones disease, it’s risk factors, it’s symptoms and some foods that you CAN eat that will not cause the dreaded “flare up!”

Just to let you know, crones affects nearly a million people alone in North America. So if you think that you are alone, you’re not. With that being said, there is a lot of good information out there on the Internet that can help you. Starting with this page here. You do not have to go through this alone…

Believe it or not, most people that have crohn’s disease have had it for years BEFORE they are initially diagnosed with it! They go around they daily lives eating what they want, drinking what they want, without a care in the world. Until those dreaded flare ups get more and more pronounced and painful! That’s when they eventually go to see their doctor and he/she gives them the bad news.

But it’s not the end of the world for them. They just have to change their lifestyle. They have to find out as much information as they can about crohn’s disease. Where did it come from? What can I do about it? And the most asked question of all: Why me? Let’s try to answer some of those questions for you, shall we?

Where did crohn’s disease come from? Or more importantly: What causes it? Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease of the intestines that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus. It was named for gastroenterologist Burrill Benard Crohn in 1932.

Dr. Crohn devoted his life to finding a cure for this strange disease that surfaced in 1932. Back then he had only 14 cases of the disease. Now there are over a million cases worldwide!

What can I do about it? There is no known cause for crohn’s disease and there is no known cure. It has been speculated that it is caused by several different risk factors. These risk factors include:

Genetics – Simply put, if you have a sibling in your family who has crohn’s disease, then you are 30 times more likely to develop the disease!

Environmental Factors – Crohn’s disease seems more prevalent in western industrialized nations. There seems to be a link between our diet of more animal protein and crohn’s disease. Also if you smoke and you have crohn’s disease, now would be a very good time to quit because smoking has been linked to a return of the “flare ups” of crohn’s! Stop smoking! ASAP!

Immune System – Crohn’s disease has often been called an auto-immune disease. Meaning that your immune system is attacking its own cells!

What Can You Do About It?

Now that you know some of the risk factors for developing crohn’s disease and some of the history behind it, your next question most likely is: What Can I Do About It? That’s a very good question.

Most people who are diagnosed with crohn’s disease, just like any other disease are very scared and frightened . But there is nothing wrong with that. Being scared of the unknown is to be expected. Being scared makes you think. This thinking should make you want to go and find some answers to your questions. It should also make you want to find as much information as you can on the subject.

What can you do about crohn’s disease? You can start by knowing that this disease is not a death sentence for you. Many people have come before you with crohn’s disease and have gone on to living healthy and happy lives. Hell, most of them are more healthy now than before they found out that they had the disease. This is because the symptoms and “flare-ups” of crohn’s forces you to make a lifestyle change.

You know that by eating certain things you will have a flare up. So you will avoid those things and try to substitute them for more healthier alternatives. Knowing what to eat and when will be the deciding factor on whether or not you have chronic flare-ups and a hard time with crohn’s or no flare-ups at all and crohn’s disease symptoms seemingly vanishing from your life! The choice is yours…

Let’s get to it! There are a wide variety of foods that you can and cannot eat with crohn’s disease. Not all menus and recipes will work with everybody, and one of the most important things that you can do to help yourself in deciding what you can eat is to take notes. Takes notes of the foods that you have eaten and what effect if any they may have had on you. This will eliminate any problems down the road associated with eating the wrong things.

For breakfast a good recipe is:

Mix 1 ripe banana with 2 eggs until it is like a pancake batter. Cook in pan as if it was a pancake. Unlike a regular pancake or a waffle, which will put the WRONG bacteria in your intestine and send you to the bathroom, this healthy breakfast will give you energy and be easy to digest.

The above recipe was taken directly from Menus For Crohn’s Disease.com! This website has all the information that you need concerning crohn’s disease. It can give you recipes that can help you eat with crohn’s without having to worry about those “flare-ups.” It will even tell you what to buy on a restaurants menu when you are out eating!

Guide to the best Fast Foods in the United Kingdom

What are “fast foods”? Are they foods we prepare ouselves? Are they foods we buy ready made? Are they foods which take very little time to cook? Are they foods which take very little time to eat? Whatever they are should we be eating them?

However we choose to describe them there is no doubt in my mind the best fast foods are ones we prepare ourselves. We get to select the ingredients and, if we have any sense, will be choosing the very best we can afford. Claiming we are “time poor” is no excuse for opting out of responsibility for what we eat. There are thousands of recipes available in hundreds of cookery books that show you exactly to prepare and cook nutritious food very quickly. My own breakfast, the recipe for which is given later, is ready to eat in three minutes.

The list of totally disgusting things to eat masquerading as “fast food” is substantial and the topic of another article. Let us concentrate on food that is nutritious and free from artificial flavour enhancers (why would nutritious food need flavour enhancers?), excessive amounts of salt, saturated fats and transfats.

The original fast food was probably the humble sandwich. Have you seen the contents list for some sandwiches sold in supermarkets and the like? Unbelievable. Chemicals, salt and fats galore – and that’s just the bread. They have to include lots of these to extend the shelf life and avoid wastage but price them up with big margins. Why not make your own bread? Can’t be bothered? “Time poor”? Rubbish. Maximum of ten minutes to put ingredients in bread maker, press appropriate buttons, remove bread when baked and wipe machine clean. Do you honestly have an excuse for not doing this? Not only that you get to choose the flour which is readily available minus the additives that are used by professional bakers. Wholemeal is best but a mix of wholemeal and brown – some machines cannot do 100% wholemeal – is fine. Your machine can make a lot of other things too.

What to put in your sandwich? It is up to you of course but you are free to choose your own quality ingredients. As there is a certain amount of salt and fat in bread these should be avoided in the filling if possible and certainly kept to a minimum. The sandwich remains one of the best fast foods for sure.

Other good fast foods include soups made in advance, portioned and frozen; ideal with your home-made bread. Stir fried vegetables in olive or sunflower oil, ready in minutes with cold or grilled chicken (minus the skin). Or choose a salad with all sorts of leaves, berries, nuts, seeds and fruit drizzled with good olive oil. The list is limited only by your imagination and your perception of “fast”. Is twenty minutes cooking rice or pasta too long – given that you can do a lot of other things whilst they are cooking? There is no need to add salt to any cooking water by the way. Steaming is a quick way to cook vegetables and rice and limits the loss of nutrients; much preferred to boiling.

Despite all these lovely things you can rustle up in minutes the ultimate fast food is fruit. No other foodstuff packs so much nutrition in such a small package and limited preparation is needed. You could argue long into the night which is the best but for me the banana comes out on top just ahead of the apple.

So, for me the best fast food is fruit. Sandwiches made with home-baked bread and any combination of vegetables with grilled meat or fish then salads follow on. Absolutely nothing bought pre-cooked or “ready to eat” in a shop qualifies.

Finally my breakfast recipe. Half a cup of whole grain oats with same volume semi-skimmed milk in a bowl and microwaved for two minutes. Add a handful of seasonal berries, handful of raisins, handful of assorted nuts (almonds, walnuts), two dessert spoons of mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame). That is it. No added sugar or salt. Nutritious and filling.

Came Into Contact With Poison Ivy

If you know what poison ivy is then you would know how awful it might be to be in contact with this bother of a plant. If one was to really come into contact with the poison ivy and you didn’t know that you did, you would likely not find out till twenty 4 to 48 hours after you came in touch with it. This is as that is when the 1st set of symptoms would sometimes start to begin to show up. Most ordinarily, you’ll find the shrub in wooded areas that receive almost no daylight. But do not worry as there are ways to minimize the effects and cure the poison ivy.

The less exposed skin, the less room for possible exposure. Dress to guard If you know that you’ll be passing time outside try to cover exposed skin by wearing pants and long sleeved shirts, and so on. What you’ll need There isn’t such a thing as a person who isn’t at the mercy of the unpleasant aftermath of poison ivy. Wash, Wash, Wash Even if you do not believe you have rubbed against the plant, it never injures to bathe your exposed skin comprehensively with soapy water. Every part of this plant, including the roots, contain oils that will cause skin rash and can be perilous if they get into the eyes or are breathed. Better safe than sorrowful is always the rule.

Prior to starting, have the following items : A closely woven long sleeve shirt with a collar that may be buttoned high round the neck. Urushiol oil is found in every part of the poison ivy plant including the leaves, berries, and stems. There are several treatments you can use at anytime to find release from the poison ivy rash. You may develop a rash from touching an object that came into contact with the plant. Exposure to smoke from any burning plants may also cause an internal rash, and grim internal damage. Some harsh symptoms may include engorgement of the eyes or face or if the rash starts to cover a bigger section of the skin. To be in a position to avoid further issues, see a dermatological doctor concerning harsh side-effects. Occasionally folks know that they just came into contact with this perilous plant. If this happens to you do not permit your hands to touch the influenced area and quickly get to a place where you can wash with soapy water.

Healthy Nachos Recipe

Henry has become so active and mobile lately that it’s making multitasking slightly more difficult. However, he loves to crawl around the kitchen so when I’m trying to make dinner or bake some muffins, I’ll just set him down with a few toys and let him go crazy.

He loves to watch his furry brothers from the window or through the gate and is interested in every door I open (e.g. fridge, pantry, cabinet, oven(!!), dishwasher…). It’s hilarious to hear him shuffling behind me when I move from one thing to another, trying to get his hands on something before I shut the door.

If I can’t put him on the floor, I’ll set him in his high chair with a snack…can you think of any food that brings you as much joy as strawberries do for Henry??

The other afternoon, Henry and I spent a good deal of time playing outside on a blanket. My child was surrounded by toys, but the only thing he was really interested in was pulling clumps of grass out of the ground and making a pile of them on the blanket…such a boy.

Yesterday we tried out the childcare at our local YMCA for the first time…that was an epic failure. Did I mention Henry is in full blown “mommy mode”? If it wasn’t such an awful, heartbreaking sound it would almost be impressive how much noise can come out of such a small person and how dedicated he is to screaming until I pick him up. The sweet women at the Y gave it their best shot, but he simply refused to be pacified. I was able to get in about 15 minutes of treadmill sprints before they grabbed me, which was better than nothing! So I grabbed the Ergobaby carrier from the car and we walked around the track for 45 minutes instead.

“Healthy” Nachos

I had been craving nachos for several days, so last night we had a healthified version! (Yes, healthified is a word…..) I replaced the chips with sliced sweet potato, topped that with an assortment of roasted veggies, shredded chicken, and cheese. Then topped it all with low cal guacamole, greek yogurt, and/or salsa. It was DELICIOUS! I already want it again.

Here’s a more detailed description:

Sweet Potato Nachos

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato, sliced
  • ½ head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into thin 2” pieces
  • ½ green pepper, sliced
  • ½ red pepper, sliced
  • 1/3 onion, sliced
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • Shredded cheese
  • Optional Toppings – salsa, guacamole, greek yogurt, beans, olives, etc.

Directions:

Earlier in the day, I baked two chicken breasts at 350F for 30 min. I shredded the chicken, mixed in some BBQ sauce, and stored in the refrigerator. I also cut up and combined all vegetables ahead of time during one of Henry’s naps. When ready to prepare, preheat oven to 425F. Spray two sheets with oil. Scatter mixed veggies on one and spread the sweet potato slices evenly on the other. Lightly spray (or drizzle) over both with oil again. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste and place both sheets in oven for ~30-40 min. Once roasted to desired consistency, spread veggies over potatoes, sprinkle cheese over top, scatter shredded chicken, and place back in oven. Remove once cheese melts (~3-5 min). Dish out nachos and serve with desired toppings. Enjoy!

Mommy Moment: “Baby Hair”

Motherhood is a funny thing: it can literally make your heart swell out of your chest with unreasonable, unbridled joy while at the same time feel like it is being wrung out like a damp towel by fear of the unknown. I can be exhausted and full of energy, all at once. I can know exactly what my little boy needs one day and not a clue the next. You think you know what it will be like beforehand, but you truly have no idea. The way you look at your body, view the world, interpret TV commercials, define a “Friday Night”…it changes the instant that baby is handed to you. It seems like every day I’m either amazed, confused, frustrated, or strengthened by something that was impacted by the birth of my son (sometimes all at once!). So I figured I would talk about a few of them in a blog post series called “Mommy Moments”.

I will start today’s Mommy Moment by posing a simple question…

What is going on with my hair?!

These “horns”, for lack of a better word, are just plain ridiculous!

Before I was pregnant, I assumed the term “baby hair” referred to the innocent wispy hairs around your face that everyone has or to someone who has very fine hair. You know, like a baby.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant that a woman told me, “Oh no, its named after the little hairs a woman gets after having a baby.” I blew the notion off until recently…holy hairs! They are out of control! I naturally have very thick hair, so the typical hair loss a woman experiences after having a baby was taken to DEFCON levels for me. That was finally slowing down and now I’m hit with my own personal set of wings…?! Not cool, Universe. Not cool. They literally have a mind of their own. I can’t flat iron them, I can’t hairspray them flat. And most devastating…they only get worse when I pull my hair up. Does this mean that I will actually be forced into styling my hair?! Cue tears now.

Exercising at the “Right” Time

We all have our personal preferences regarding the best time to exercise. You have no choice but to do what you know is right for your body and yourself no matter what plans life may have for us. Have you ever experienced this, it is ok we will explain it further. You should feel comfortable about working out any time of day.

Sometimes the only time there is to work out is the morning. However, if you just start doing it what you will discover is your body will make the adjustment. Your body will reset its own clock, and when that happens you will “feel” fine with a hard work-out in the morning. The rest of this article will have more great points.

You have to do what your schedule allows even if that means first thing in the morning. You may just have to help your body out even if it seems adjusted. The easiest way to do this is by warming up properly and thoroughly. When your routine begins in the morning it’s important to prepare your muscles by warming them up before you dive into a workout. This alone can put you at a higher risk for injury if you aren’t careful to warm up. Before you get into a hard workout do all that you can to limber up your muscles to avoid injury.

If you choose to engage in your fitness activity during lunch, or maybe a mid-afternoon break, then be aware of the environment. Research has proven that lungs function at less than optimum around lunch time. Power walks along busy streets put you in less than an ideal environment for aerobic activity. At least this is better than sitting stagnant all the time. The hot summer months make it even more necessary to protect yourself whenever possible. Be sure to stay hydrated at all times to help out your lungs and overall body.

There is a body of evidence, though debated perhaps, that suggests the evening as the best time to exercise. This is in regards to the best time to exercise as determined by your body’s functions. The best time for exercising scientifically is the evenings. This theory is at odds with many people and their schedules. It is more important according to many professionals, to pick a time when you can remain dedicated to your fitness routine. The scientific view tends to get overridden because people do have more success when they exercise at a time that doesn’t interfere with their lives. So if you can only fit in a workout before 6 PM, then that is the time that’s best for you. This sounds like good common sense.

There are some who disagree with morning workouts and others still who disagree with evenings. Your clock will adjust to whatever you decide on.

Fan Coil Unit Programmable Thermostat

Purchasing a fan coil unit programmable thermostat may not be the easiest decision you have had to make. Granted there are many issues and details you need to figure out before making any purchase decision in a hurry. The best way of course to convince yourself that a fan coil unit programmable thermostat is the ideal system for you is to check the World Wide Web. There is a glut of information that is available which are sure to convince you one way of the other that it is these types of thermostats that are the right kind for your lifestyle.

Please do note that when you do search for information in cyberspace with regard to a fan coil unit programmable thermostat that you know where exactly to look. You see there are certain product pages where reviews are written by the manufacturers themselves. So this is hardly unbiased or neutral in terms of a perspective. Having said this make sure that you understand that getting the ideal fan coil unit programmable thermostat is a neutral affair. What you can do is to join a few discussion boards or forums which offer a chance to actually talk to other consumers.

This is one way of knowing what exactly you need to know when it comes to a fan coil unit programmable thermostat. You will be able to find out if there are any teething problems, how much the installation charges should be, what warranties to expect and which brands really are the best. After all what you do need is a fan coil unit programmable thermostat that is bother user friendly, trustworthy and reliable. What better option than to get all the real information you need from users who have firsthand experience themselves?

Having made the decision you want when it comes to buying a fan coil unit programmable thermostat, make sure you know what web site is the best in terms of e-commerce functionality.

Finally, the best critic when it comes to products would be you. First and foremost you need to be convinced of what you are buying before you part with your hard earned cash. Take that piece of advice and make the proper choice when it comes to buying a thermostat. Another thing that you can do is probably to get down a few brochures or catalogues which are sure to help you when it comes to all those details you are yearning to know.

Strep Throat Diagnosis

Strep throat is an infection that tends to affect most people and is caused by the streptococcus pyogens bacteria. This infection may be confused with sore throat, however the symptoms associated with strep throat (see the pictures) are quite different from those experienced in sore throat. Since strep throat is a bacterial infection, it is important to seek prompt treatment. Through proper strep throat diagnosis and treatment the duration of the infection as well as the severity of the symptoms tend to reduce.

Before starting treatment for strep throat it is important to get a definitive strep throat diagnosis. Such a diagnosis can be done based on physical examination of the patient and laboratory testing. The identification of certain symptoms associated with strep throat can help in making a diagnosis. These symptoms include extreme sore throat, fever of 101 degrees F or more, fatigue, headache, white patches on the throat and swelling in the lymph nodes. The other symptoms related with the infection may include a red rash, stomach ache and vomiting in rare cases.

The strep throat diagnosis is done through the physical examination of throat and chest and this is followed with a rapid strep test. In this test, a sterile swab is used to get a sample from the throat and this is checked for the pathogens. The results of this test can be obtained in as little as 20 minutes. However if this test is negative then the physician may demand a throat culture. In throat culture, a cotton swab is used to take sample from the throat. This is then mixed with a nutrient medium which allows the streptococcus bacteria to grow so that the bacteria can be effectively identified. The results of this test are available in 24 to 48 hours.

It is also possible to identify a streptococcus infection by measuring antibodies that may be produced in the body against bacteria. This test is known as anti-streotolysis O test or ASO titer. However this test is not considered to be completely accurate as the antibodies may not be detected for some weeks after an infection affects a person. In the newer tests used for strep throat diagnosis, DNA technology is used and this allows for rapid detection of the bacteria in a short period of time.

Get Rid of Chin Fat – What Really Works

Even though I’m fairly fit overall in the past few years my face had gotten kind of tired and droopy looking.  I especially hated my double chin but I didn’t know how I could get rid of chin fat so I just kind of ignored it.

When I really decided to do something about it was when someone mentioned that they saw a photo of me from a few years ago and that my face looked great!  They said they meant it as a compliment but it made me realize just how puffy and fat looking my face had become.

After looking at a lot of tips, products, etc. I discovered some important things that started making sense and that actually do help get rid of chin fat.

1 – Your chin needs exercise to stay firm and toned looking.

2 – You do need to have a fairly low amount of chin fat to look good no matter how lean and toned the muscles are underneath.

3 – The skin itself influences how tight and firm your face and neck look.

Anyway, I looked at several products and programs and probably the best one I found was the Face Fitness Formula program.  It covers exercises for your entire face and neck along with nutrition information, support, forums and a bunch of other stuff.

I saw a lot of other products and programs that are supposed to help you get rid of face fat but most of them just didn’t look that detailed or they were based on just getting rid of fat, or just exercising facial muscles, but not both.

There’s also some free facial exercises and nutrition tips on their site too.

I’ve been into health and fitness for years and some of that knowledge and experience helped me figure out the best methods to use–once I saw them.  I wouldn’t have been able to figure them out on my own though.

There’s definitely some overlap between general dieting and exercise knowledge and programs specifically designed for you face but there are a lot of very important differences too.  Just trying a couple of the double chin exercises and tweaking my diet, including my special chin fat recipe, I started seeing real changes in how my face and neck looked.

I’m not 100 percent of the way there yet but it feels great to be moving in the right direction.  My face is looking leaner and more fit.  My skin is looking better.  I’ve lost a noticeable amount of face fat and have actually gotten a little bit leaner overall due to the diet changes too.

Besides double chin exercises there are also exercises and other information on how to improve the rest of your face too.  So if you want to get rid of chin fat I would recommend getting this program.