Success doesn’t come to you… you go to it.

Your drains might be an afterthought—do you pay attention to how fast or slow they move or how dirty they look before they become a problem? Many plumbers would recommend you take a closer look at your drain every once in a while.

Remember to take a look at your drains. Slow drains might be a sign of a bigger problem, so get a jump on it early!

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your drain may save you a lot of money you's spend on a pluming service.

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Physical fitness is a general state of health and well-being and, more specifically, the ability to perform aspects of sports or occupations. Physical fitness is generally achieved through correct nutrition, moderate-vigorous physical activity, exercise and rest. It is a set of attributes or characteristics seen in people and which relate to the ability to perform a given set of physical activities.

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05 March 2021

  • Ready to Clean Your House in 15 Minutes? We Tell You How

    Let’s face it, filling a large block of real estate on your calendar (especially on a weekend) with a task that feels less than fun is, well, less than fun. 

    My answer to this universal dilemma is to take a big, daunting project and transform it into a series of little projects. I like to call these mini projects 15-minute wins(you can check out some fun examples by searching the tag #15MinWin on Instagram).

    From overwhelmed to action

    The simple act of making the time frame manageable, and the goal attainable, is all it will take to move you from overwhelm (the whole house is a wreck) into action (I tackled the dishes!). I love to turn dreaded tasks, like cleaning out the refrigerator or tidying up the entryway, into a game. Can I make it fun? Can I do it faster than I’ve ever done it before?

    Once you get going, not only will you find out you can accomplish much more in 15 minutes than you thought possible, but the repeated experience of successfully setting a goal and accomplishing it will create momentum until the big project, that once seemed impossible, is completed. I’ve used this simple productivity hack to tackle everything from tidying the bathroom to doing my taxes.

    How it works for me

    Rather than delay cleaning and organizing until the chore is massive, I opt to integrate tidying and maintenance into the movements of my day. Even though I live minimally there are places in my house that tend to get a little rough around the edges. I’ve implemented systems to make sure that I sort through these areas on a regular basis. For example, I place all my mail in a woven basket on our entry table and commit to reviewing and processing it once a week.

    Likewise, I always make sure to knock out dishes after each meal, clear surfaces when I wrap up my work day, and put my clothes away before bed each night. My schedule rarely allows for large blocks of uninterrupted time, but I can always manage to find 15 minutes a day. 

    Where do you start? 

    Things get out of control when you defer projects for too long, and breaking down projects is perfect for the areas that no one wants to deal with. By committing multiple, small chunks of time to a project each day, bit by bit, the big projects get smaller until they’re done.

    No matter what the project, the most important question is not where to start, but when to start — and the answer is now.

    Need a little help thinking of possible bite-size projects? 

    Choose a space then try one of these for an easy 15-minute win:

    Kitchen

    • Visit your fridge. Check for empty condiments, expiration dates, and move leftovers to the front.
    • Empty your freezer. Remove everything to make sure you’re not forgetting something that was pushed to the bottom or back of the freezer. You might discover tonight’s dinner!
    • Organize your cleaning supplies. Check for empty bottles, do a quick cleaning with a handheld vacuum.
    • Tidy up your tea or coffee station. Wipe down your coffee maker or tea pot. Sweep up crumbs.
    • Tackle your Tupperware. Make sure containers and lids are stacked efficiently and none have gone astray in other cabinets or drawers.
    • Edit your spices. Look for empties, expiration dates, or spices that haven’t been used in months or, even, years.
    • Transform your junk drawer. Challenge yourself to only the essentials and toss clutter that’s been mucking up the drawer.

    Bathroom

    • Clear bathroom counters. Replace old toothbrushes and empty tubes of toothpaste.
    • Clean out medicine cabinet. Are there expired medications in there?
    • Refine the contents of your makeup drawers and cabinets. Old eye pencil, expired sunscreens can go.
    • Declutter your linen closet. Stained or unused linens can be repurposed into cleaning rags or donated.

    Bedroom

    • Clear off your nightstand. A cluttered surface isn’t relaxing to fall asleep or wake next to. Knock it down to 1 to 3 essentials.
    • Clean out your sock drawer. Match them up and repurpose old, hole-y socks into hand-dusters.
    • Check under your bed. Dust bunnies can interfere with sleep.

    Personal

    • Lighten your purse, backpack and wallet. Thin out credit cards, unused punch-cards, and receipts.
    • Get the junk out of your car trunk. Drive to the donation station!
    • Empty out the diaper bag or stroller compartments. The dirty socks, small diapers, and food wrappers have to go.
    • Clean up your jewelry. If there are pieces gathering dust, maybe it’s time to let them go.

    A 15-minute win a day keeps the blues away

    A 15-minute cleaning project might not seem like it can move the needle, but don’t underestimate the impact of waking up to a clean surface, a tidy drawer, or a sparkly kitchen sink. Until this seems second nature, try scheduling (yes, on the calendar) at least one block per day. Once I discovered the power and impact of the 15-minute win, I started implementing it into every aspect of my life documenting my little wins on Instagram. (You can document yours there, or by journaling your accomplishments and goals.)

    I’ve had so many people tell me that integrating a single 15-minute block of tidying into their daily routine has made them realize it’s really just a matter of focusing on tiny wins. Once the timer starts, your only job is to stay focused on your single task and see what you can accomplish. I promise you’ll be shocked at what you can do.

    Shira Gillis a home organizing expert and author with a less is more philosophy. Her book, MINIMALISTA, will be released fall of 2021.

  • What Apple Cider Vinegar Truly Can (and Can’t) Do for Your Health

    What can apple cider vinegar do for you? If you’re a regular reader of health and wellness blogs, you probably think the answer is “EVERYTHING!” ACV (as the cool kids call it) is so commonly touted as a safe, natural, and completely effective panacea that it probably deserves its own sketch on “Saturday Night Live.”

    But if you’re a bit skeptical that a tart liquid made from fermented apples can cure diabetes, banish acne, soothe a sore throat, whiten your teeth, rid you of dandruff, and basically make your life perfect in every way, we can relate.

    With all the fuss about apple cider vinegar, we had to look into what science actually says. If you’re a diehard devotee, you may want to look away.

    Benefits of apple cider vinegar

    Considering how much recognition ACV gets as a cure-all, you might think there’s tons of research to support those claims. But right now, that’s not the case.

    “The scientific literature on humans ingesting vinegar is very, very limited,” says Carol Johnston, PhD, RD, who studies the medicinal uses of vinegar at Arizona State University.

    However, scientists have found evidence that ACV may do a few things for you.

    1. It promotes stable blood sugar

    You know that light-headed, low-energy feeling you sometimes get after chowing down on too many refined carbs? That’s your blood sugar spiking — and then crashing. The acetic acid found in ACV (and most other types of vinegar, like white vinegar and red wine vinegar) has antiglycemic properties, and studies show that consuming apple cider vinegar before a meal can help keep those kinds of spikes at bay. Johnston CS, et al. (2004). Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14694010/ Petsiou EI, et al. (2014). Effect and mechanisms of action of vinegar on glucose metabolism, lipid profile, and body weight. https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/72/10/651/1935511

    This could, in theory, have something to do with why people who take ACV claim that the stuff boosts their mood and energy, says Los Angeles-based holistic nutrition and wellness coach Nicole Granato.

    The blood sugar benefits might even spell good news for people with diabetes, though researchers still have more to figure out.

    “If they follow a protocol of drinking some vinegar before every meal for a year or more, does that reduce reliance on insulin medications? Reduce the progression of their disease? Those questions haven’t been answered yet,” Johnston says.

    2. It can fight bacteria

    ACV has been used to combat infections like ulcers and sores since the time of the ancient Greeks. In fact, there are plenty of studies documenting vinegar’s antimicrobial effects.Johnston CS, et al. (2006). Vinegar: Medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/

    ACV seems to kill certain fungal infections, like thrush and yeast infections, and can also kill off E. coli bacteria and the bacteria that cause staph infections.

    But just because ACV is capable of fighting bacterial infections doesn’t mean that using it to do so is always a good idea. Because it’s so acidic, pouring it into your ears to address an ear infection or using it on open sores or cuts is almost guaranteed to irritate your skin.

    It’s not safe to use by itself for a sore throat, either, because it could do more harm than good. “You shouldn’t gargle vinegar. There have been cases where people have ended up in the hospital because they accidentally choked on it,” Johnston says.

    3. It can soothe jellyfish stings

    Weirdly, research suggests that if you happen to get stung by a jellyfish, dousing the affected area in vinegar may help. It can deactivate nematocysts, the sharp barbs that jellyfish use to inject their painful venom.Perkins RA, et al. (2004). Poisoning, envenomation, and trauma from marine creatures. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14989575

    What’s not so clear

    As for the rest of the miraculous stuff you often hear, most of it is TBD. For now, the majority of these claims haven’t been studied enough.

    1. It improves your skin

    Anecdotally, plenty of people say that applying ACV to their faces helps get rid of acne and improve their skin’s texture.

    “I have clients with chronic acne who steam their face with diluted apple cider vinegar, and within 2 to 3 weeks, there’s a difference,” Granato says. And since ACV has antimicrobial properties, it could help acne-prone skin, she says. But for now, there aren’t a lot of studies out there to back it up.

    2. It gets rid of warts

    Some research has suggested that putting acetic acid on your skin can destroy wart tissue. But this research is older and used super high concentrations of the stuff (up to 99 percent).Conzuelo-Quijada AE, et al. (2003). Treatment of large lower genital tract condylomata acuminata with local excision plus topical acetic acid. A preliminary study. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12953324

    Since ACV and other vinegars are only around 5 percent acetic acid, they wouldn’t be nearly strong enough to remove a wart.

    3. It clears up dandruff

    Though an ACV rinse might make your hair look shinier, there’s no credible research to support the idea that it can clear up dandruff. (Johnston had never even heard of this until we asked her.)

    4. It whitens teeth

    ACV’s antibacterial properties could conceivably help get some plaque and germs off your teeth, Granato says. But there’s no research to suggest ACV can whiten teeth. In fact, it’ll probably leave your pearly whites in pretty bad shape.

    “I can’t advocate whitening your teeth with apple cider vinegar at all,” Johnston says. “We don’t have a lot of acid protection in the mouth, and you don’t want to lose the enamel on your teeth.”

    5. It helps with weight loss

    In a 2009 study, participants who drank apple cider vinegar with their meals daily lost more weight over a period of time than those who didn’t.Kondo T, et al. (2009). Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1271/bbb.90231 But this study was small, and more research is needed to back these claims.

    What is apple cider vinegar?

    ACV is a fermented liquid that comes from apples. It’s very acidic, consisting mostly of acetic acid and citric acid.

    ACV contains several nutrients, including B vitamins, biotin, pectin, vitamin C, and amino acids. It also has other health benefits, including antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.Yagnik D, et al. (2018). Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coliStaphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/

    How much apple cider vinegar should you use?

    There’s no one-size-fits-all ACV concoction. How much you should use depends on your body and the issue you’re trying to address. You should also always ask your doctor before trying any new health trend.

    In case you do decide to use ACV as a remedy for certain conditions, here are some dosage recommendations.

    For weight loss or blood sugar

    If you’re drinking apple cider vinegar with the goal of more stable blood sugar or to help with weight loss, you need to dilute it with water.

    A small 2009 studyKondo T, et al. (2009). Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1271/bbb.90231 suggested that drinking 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of ACV mixed with 8 ounces of water twice a day produced the best results for weight loss.

    ACV can be harmful to your tooth enamel, though, so it’s best not to take this dosage more two or three times a day. Also, you may want to start with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of ACV mixed with 8 ounces of water to see how your body reacts.

    A small 2007 study suggested that similar dosages of ACV help with keeping blood sugar stable.White AM, et al. (2007). Vinegar ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/11/2814 But ACV is not a replacement for regular medication if you have a health condition like diabetes. And if you have kidney or ulcer problems, you should probably steer clear of ACV altogether.

    Recommended dosage

    Drinking 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 mL) of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water daily is recommended for weight loss benefits and to help with stable blood sugar.

    To fight bacteria and fungus

    Apple cider vinegar can help kill a few types of bacteria and fungi, including Escherichia coli (E. coli), Staphylococcus aureus (the bacteria that cause staph infections), and Candida fungi, which cause common infections like thrush and vaginal yeast infections.

    A 2018 studyYagnik D. et al. (2018). Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coliStaphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/ found that to kill the bacteria that cause staph infections, you would need to dilute ACV with 2 parts water for every 1 part ACV to make a nontoxic cleaner. To kill E. coli, you’d need a much smaller concentration of ACV, 50 parts water for every 1 part of ACV, or about 1 tablespoon of ACV to about 3 cups of water.

    For the Candida fungus, an undiluted ACV is recommended. But even though ACV is known to kill Candida infections, you may want to be cautious about putting it directly on your skin.

    ACV is highly acidic and may cause burning or irritation, which could lead to extreme discomfort, especially if the infection is down there.

    Recommended dosages

    For E. coli: 1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water

    For staph infections: 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar to 3 cups water

    For thrush and yeast infections: Undiluted apple cider vinegar is recommended as a remedy for infections caused by the Candida fungus.

    To soothe skin

    Apple cider vinegar is known to soothe skin after jellyfish stings. Some people also report that ACV can help clear up acne, though there’s not enough research to back that up.

    For jellyfish stings, it’s recommended to douse the injured area with ACV, remove any tentacles left over from the jellyfish, and then soak the body part in hot water for 20 to 45 minutes. This is said to relieve pain and prevent further venom from being released by the jellyfish.

    To address acne, ACV can be used as a face wash when diluted with 2 parts water to 1 part ACV. An ACV-soaked cotton swab can also be used as a spot treatment for acne.

    Recommended dosages

    For jellyfish stings: Douse the affected area with apple cider vinegar for 30 seconds, and then rinse with hot water.

    For acne: Use 1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water to make an ACV facial cleanser.


    The safe way to use apple cider vinegar

    Apple cider vinegar’s acetic acid has some beneficial properties, but in high concentrations, this acid can be a poison. So if you’re going to drink the stuff or use it on your skin, you’ve got to be careful.

    Johnston and Granato agree that the best way to use ACV is in tiny doses. If you’re drinking it, dilute 1 tablespoon of ACV in at least 8 ounces of water and drink it no more than twice a day. Johnston recommends always chasing it with food, which can help clear the acid out of your throat faster and prevent irritation.

    The same principle applies if you want to try using it on your skin. Dilute 1 tablespoon of ACV in a bowlful of hot water and dunk a face towel or rag in the mixture. “You can steam your face with the rag for 12 minutes,” Granato says.

    The takeaway

    Most of the research on apple cider vinegar has looked at its effects on blood sugar, and those studies seem to hold up. Experts agree that ACV has antibacterial properties too — but because vinegar is harsh, it’s not the best choice for use on sore throats or wounds (except those jellyfish stings).

    As for the other stuff, there’s no scientific data to support using ACV for clearer skin, less dandruff, or whiter teeth. What’s more, it might be harmful. If you decide to try using it anyway, proceed with caution. “This is an instance where more isn’t better,” Johnston says.

  • Relaxation Requested? This Meditative Throwback Playlist Has Your Back

    After a long day of work, Zoom meetings, school, or otherwise not fun tasks (#ForeverMood these days), queuing up a playlist full of smooth throwback jams is well-deserved.

    Transport yourself back to the turn of the millennium for late ’90s and early aughts riffs (no low rise bootcuts required) perfectly curated for that relaxing yoga sesh or before-bed routine.

    Follow us on Spotify for this meditative millennium mix and more, all hand-crafted to soothe your soul or get you hustlin’.

    Lumina/Stocksy United

    The Greatist Meditative Millennium Mix for Max Relax

    33 songs, 2 hours and 26 minutes
    See this playlist on Spotify.

    1. “Sea of Love” by Cat Power
    2. “Storytelling” by Belle & Sebastian
    3. “You and Me Son” by The Wannadies
    4. “The Sea” by Morcheeba
    5. “The Last High” by The Dandy Warhols
    6. “Talk Show Host” by Radiohead
    7. “Sugar Water” by Cibo Matto
    8. “Between the Bars” by Elliott Smith
    9. “Glory Box” by Portishead
    10. “Sporting Life” by The Sea and Cake
    11. “6 Underground” by Sneaker Pimps
    12. “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová
    13. “Volcano” by Damien Rice
    14. “The Boy with the Arab Strap” by Belle & Sebastian
    15. “Wild Horses” by The Sundays
    16. “Lost Cause” by Beck
    17. “I Would Hurt a Fly” by Built To Spill
    18. “Red Right Ankle” by The Decemberists
    19. “Fields of Gold” by Eva Cassidy
    20. “Autumn Sweater” by Yo La Tengo
    21. “Foolish Love” by Rufus Wainwright
    22. “Heartbeats” by José González
    23. “Waltz #2 (XO)” by Elliott Smith
    24. “Teardrop” by Massive Attack
    25. “Wandering Star” by Portishead
    26. Strange & Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell On You)” by Aqualung
    27. “Toxygene” by The Orb
    28. “On & Obn” by Erykah Badu
    29. “The Season” by The Dodos
    30. “Lucky ” by Radiohead
    31. “Your Woman” by White Town
    32. “Arms of a Woman” by Amos Lee
    33. “Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star
  • Couscous vs. Quinoa: It’s Like Batman vs. Superman but in Your Mouth

    You may be ready to switch your standard rice dish or pasta salad for something more… zhuzhy. Enter quinoa and couscous.

    Couscous and quinoa may have similar textures and be comparably tasty, but they have several key nutritional differences.

    What’s the difference between quinoa and couscous?

    Couscous and quinoa are both great to toss in a salad or sub for rice in a dish. However, they’ve got a few important differences:

    • Quinoa is a seed, and couscous is a grain.
    • Quinoa is gluten-free, while couscous contains gluten.
    • Quinoa is a complete protein, and couscous is not.

    Quinoa provides more fiber and protein. But couscous adds fewer carbs and calories to your daily diet.

    So, which one is “better” for you depends on your health needs, activity level, and lifestyle.

    Here’s how these two foods stack up against each other and what benefits you can expect from each.

    Design by Viviana Quevedo; Photographs from left to right: Alessio Bogani/Stocksy United, Melanie DeFazio/Stocksy United

    Couscous and quinoa nutrition facts

    We compared the nutrients found in a cup of cooked quinoa with those in a cup of cooked couscous.

    QuinoaCouscous
    Fiber5 g2 g
    Protein8 g6 g
    Carbohydrates39 g37 g
    Calories222176

    So, which is better for you?

    Quinoa and couscous both pack a nutritional wallop, adding fiber, protein, and a whole bunch of essential vitamins and minerals to your diet.

    But quinoa has the edge on the fiber and protein fronts. Fiber and protein can help you feel full for longer by slowing digestion and keeping your blood sugar stable (whoa, steady there, blood sugar).

    The benefits of fiber should prick up your ears if you live with diabetes or are at risk of the condition.

    The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend getting 25 to 38 grams of fiber every day, depending on your age group and sex — check out the guidelines to find the amount you should consume.

    Quinoa and couscous are considered whole foods, meaning they’re minimally processed and still have their natural nutritional benefits.

    Deciding which is “better for you” also comes down to how you prepare quinoa or couscous.

    Adding excess salt or saturated fat to your cooking will make these dishes less heart-healthy (although saturated fats may have an unwarranted bad reputation).

    But flavoring quinoa and couscous with vegetables and spices can boost their nutrient game as well as their mmmmmmm factor.

    It’s more important to consider how quinoa or couscous fits into your overall eating habits than to judge each food on its own.

    Keen on quinoa: The powerful benefits of quinoa

    Quinoa is high in protein and provides all nine essential amino acids (so it’s like the smug kid on the playground who really collected all the Pokémon cards).

    It’s also a boss source of:

    Aside from its plentiful fiber, quinoa also contains beneficial plant compounds called flavones. Research suggests some flavones have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, protecting against damage from dastardly free radical molecules.

    Free radicals contribute to the development of many types of cancer and other diseases. By supplying your body with a regular intake of antioxidants, you can help keep your cells healthy and reduce your risk of cancer and other health problems.

    Quinoa contains two superstar compounds called quercetin and kaempferol (yeah, try saying those with a mouthful of the stuff). By keeping viruses, bacteria, and fungi at bay, quercetin and kaempferol support your immune system in reducing your risk of infections.

    Quinoa doesn’t just help your immune system with these fancy compounds. Its awesome fiber content feeds the “good” bacteria in your gut — another super important factor in maintaining a strong immune system.

    Couscous benefits

    Couscous is a tasty way to increase your intake of whole grains. While carbs have gotten a bad rap, whole grains provide a well-established range of benefits.

    In a 2020 study, folks who ate whole grains regularly had a 29 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than folks who ate minimal amounts of whole grains.

    A 2016 review of studies found that eating three servings of whole grains per day has links to reduced rates of death from all causes, including:

    • heart disease
    • cancer
    • respiratory diseases
    • diseases of the nervous system

    In a 2016 study, 40 adults over 50 years of age followed a diet for 8 weeks. Every aspect of their diets was the same, except that one group ate whole grains and the other ate refined grains. After this, they took a much-needed 10-week break and then switched diets for 8 weeks.

    Researchers found that the groups lost the same amount of weight and had the same decrease in cholesterol level. However, those eating whole grains had a threefold improvement in blood pressure.

    Which is better for bodybuilding?

    Quinoa and couscous provide similar amounts of macronutrients. Their calories mainly come from carbohydrates.

    Although quinoa offers a little more protein than couscous, most bodybuilders will still need extra protein from other sources to bump up those gains 💪🏾. Lean meats, tofu, or supplements can help muscle-flexers get enough protein to recover from intense weightlifting.

    If you’re simply trying to build more muscle, a progressive resistance training routine is your ticket to Tonk Town. As long as you’re consuming enough calories and protein to support your activity level, your body will have enough fuel to build muscle.

    Quinoa and couscous can each support a successful bodybuilding regimen with extra nutrients. You’ve just gotta make sure the other components of your eating plan provide the rest of the nutrients you need.

    Which is gluten-free?

    Because quinoa is technically a seed, it’s naturally gluten-free. Quinoa’s texture makes it a handy substitute in grain-based dishes for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. (But if you’re on the Paleo diet, quinoa is a no-go.)

    Couscous comes from semolina, which is derived from durum wheat, so people who can’t eat gluten should avoid it.

    Gluten klaxon! Be careful with quinoa

    When replacing couscous with quinoa, be sure to check the label for gluten-free certification.

    Some facilities that process quinoa also process grains that contain gluten. Cross contamination is possible, and you don’t want to poke the gluten bear.

    🚨 Read. Those. Labels. 🚨

    Quinoa vs. couscous vs. bulgur: Triple threat

    Bulgur is another hearty whole grain that’s easily swappable with quinoa and couscous.

    Similar to couscous, bulgur is derived from wheat (meaning it’s not gluten-free — quinoa has the edge here). Traditionally, bulgur plays a leading role in Middle Eastern cuisine, including dishes like tabbouleh and kibbeh.

    Compared with couscous and quinoa, bulgur is exceptionally high in fiber, clocking in at 8 grams per cooked cup. Bulgur is slightly lower in protein, however, with 5 grams per cup.

    Bulgur’s texture isn’t all that different from those of couscous and quinoa. You can add bulgur to couscous or quinoa dishes for more texture and a bit of nutritional diversity. You can also sub it for other grains to switch things up.

    Variety is the spice (and grain) of life.

    Couscous recipe ideas

    Use couscous as a base for stir-fry dishes by adding other nutritious ingredients. Try scattering this mixture over the top:

    Or get creative with a salty and sweet Mediterranean-inspired couscous salad using:

    For a twist on rice and beans, try cooking couscous in vegetable broth and mixing it with red beans and tomatoes.

    You can even add sweet potato, red peppers, celery, carrots, and zucchini for a boost of nutrients, color, and flavor.

    Incorporating couscous into vegetable-based soups or using it as a salad topper can create a heartier and more robust dish. Couscous is highly versatile and works well in loads of different dishes. Get ’em, couscous!

    Quinoa recipe ideas

    Quinoa is also super versatile.

    It serves up a nutty and chewy texture that mixes well with other ingredients. You can incorporate it into sweet or savory dishes.

    Popular ways to cook quinoa include:

    If you like the taste of quinoa, it’s easy to add it to most of your favorite dishes in a creative way. Any time a recipe calls for rice, pasta, or oatmeal, there’s probably a way to throw quinoa into the mix.

    Takeaway

    Both quinoa and couscous provide a bunch of benefits as part of a nutritious meal plan.

    Experimenting with flavorful dishes from around the world can help you discover new ways to enjoy these healthful ingredients.

    Try incorporating new spices, vegetables, and cooking methods to add variety and excitement to your plate.

  • In Defense of Long Food Blogs

    Search for a recipe online, and you’re bound to encounter a lengthy blog post accompanying it. In many cases, the only way to arrive at the recipe itself is to scroll through hundreds of words describing the dish, its method, or a story tangential to it. This path of more resistance has encouraged many a recipe-reader to throw up their hands in frustration.

    “Why are food blogs likethat?” they want to know. “Why can’t they just give me the recipe???” 

    Studio Firma/Stocksy United

    The truth of food blogging is that it’s a massive amount of labor (for some, a labor of love, for others, a sustainable form of labor that’s meant to return dividends, in the form of income, and for many — a combination of both). And that model surrounding monetizing that labor requires… well, words.

    Just ask Erin Clarkson, author of the popular baking blog Cloudy Kitchen, which she founded 5 years ago. Clarkson’s platform sees roughly 400,000 views per month, but her content is not as footloose and fancy-free as many may think. A single blog post, she says, can take several days to create.

    There’s the misconception, Clarkson says, that she’s just “whipping out the cookie recipe and putting it on the Internet.” But in reality, quite the opposite is true. The recipe is tested “at least three or four times, and that’s before I make them for the final time.” The shoot itself takes another entire day. “And then you have to do all the research for the blog, writing the actual blog post and coming up with headings, which have the right keywords.” 

    The keywords, Clarkson noted, are part of what make the blogs turn up in Google in the first place. Without them — and without that added layer of labor orchestrated by the author — these recipes wouldn’t come up in a search.

    The same users complaining about lengthy headnotes (otherwise known as the descriptive text that comes before a recipe) have these same headnotes to thank for the recipe’s very existence.

    There are technical reasons for long blog posts

    Longer blog posts, says Anne Murlowski, who launched her blog Rocky Mountain Bliss in 2013 and gets about 30,000 monthly views, “demonstrate expertise and the value your website brings to a reader.” But beyond expertise, these posts bring compensation. “To drive a real income from a blog on impressions alone, you need to achieve hundreds of thousands of views per month.” Search engine presence, which is driven by word-length, is, Mulowski says, “the only real way people can do that.” 

    While many bloggers would love to deliver shorter posts that get right to the recipe, Google is more likely to pick up posts that hover around 1,000 words, and those words make the rest of the intensive labor — the recipe-development, the photography, and even the research for the writing itself— possible. (Which is to say nothing of the cost of procuring the ingredients, a built-in expense when it comes to food blogs.)

    When a post is longer, it “has more chance to rank for related keywords,” says Rebecca Swanner, founder of Let’s Eat Cake, which generates over 100,000 views per month. Without visibility, these recipes can easily fall into a vacuum, never being seen — or re-created — by their intended audience. And for the blogger who created them, that means the labor that went into developing, testing, and photographing those recipes, would see no financial returns for that work.

    Blog posts that are too short create “a risk for readers to leave, or ‘bounce,’ from the post very quickly,” says Monique Volz, founder and CEO of Ambitious Kitchen. Readers “are more likely to revisit a blog when it has more content.”

    Volz, whose blog welcomes several million visitors a month, says good blog posts are resources that help readers “be creative, troubleshoot potential problems, provide answers to FAQs, and even include custom video content.” 

    Recipe headnotes are there to help you, the reader

    Which is to say: There is a purpose to these recipe headnotes. April Blake, author of the 10-year-old blog The April Blake, says that bloggers, “do try to put information that’s useful before the post that pertains to it. Sometimes that’s substitution suggestions, or a suggestion to not sub anything,” or maybe, she says, “it’s a tip that using a wok gives you the best results.” 

    Blog authors streamline recipes by design. When you cook, you don’t want to read paragraphs of “if this, then that” troubleshooting — you want to see clearly what step you’re on and what step comes next. So, the information offered in the headnote contributes to the recipe’s execution.

    Bloggers want their readers to succeed. They want positive feedback on their recipes, and the only way to get good feedback is to write thorough, complete recipes with lots of tips that anticipate foreseeable pitfalls.

    “Baking is a science,” Erin Clarkson says. “I will often go into a lot of detail in the first part of the recipe.” Clarkson tries, in her posts, she says, to “pack as much information as I possibly can” to head off confusion when it comes to the recipe itself. So, try not to scroll past that valuable information because it may help you.

    Of course, some food bloggers use anecdotes in their work too, telling stories that relate to their recipes. There is a place for that, says Darien Gee, founder and recipe-creator of the Friendship Bread Kitchen blog. Longer narratives, she says, “give readers a chance to get to know you, the person behind the recipes, and that relationship cultivates fans.” 

    This content, some bloggers say, is an important tool in developing a cultural connection between author and reader, a connection that reflects “their interests and values” and that encourages people to return to the site, as Gee says. “Food is personal,” Monique Volz added. “It’s filled with memories, nostalgia, and emotion, and I think sharing those things along with a recipe makes for an incredible experience.” 

    When it comes to operating a food blog, the labor is plentiful. And readers benefit from that labor, learning new techniques, new recipes, and new approaches to cooking that they may not have encountered otherwise.

    The relationship, between blogger and reader — in a world where blog posts are long — is a mutually beneficial one: Everyone gets what they need from it. 

    Removing “ads and life stories” hurts everyone

    The natural evolution of the complaints about blogs recently came to a head when a company named Recipeasly, which promised to streamline food blogs, ran into a bit of trouble at launch, as reported by BBC News.

    As one of the site’s creators, Tom Redman, tweeted, the site was designed to provide “your favorite recipes except without the ads or life stories.” What Recipeasly actually did was erase the author (and the author’s attendant labor) from the work. 

    This online explosion helps boil down the essential argument for why food blogs exist in the first place and why they’re useful the way that they are. What may read as inconvenient to one person is necessary to another.

    Moreover, the work that goes into food blogs really is work. It’s a labor of love, but it’s still labor, and the crescendo of complaints about that labor led to a tool, in Recipeasly, that could have easily caused financial and career-related harm to real people. 

    “Recipe bloggers don’t need someone to come in and take from them and remove them from their work,” Erin Clarkson says. A click on a food blog is actually a choice. The writing, she says, is the “important information about the recipe,” but, if all the labor of wading through someone else’s labor is too great, there is actually a solution for that. “Invest in some cookbooks,” Clarkson says. “No scrolling or ads there.” 

    Hannah Selinger is an IACP award-nominated food, wine, travel, and lifestyle writer based in East Hampton, New York, where she lives with her husband, two sons, two dogs, and two tortoises. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Eater, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Cut, and more.