Category Archives: magazines

Addiction

Image courtesy of Gawker

It occurs to me that I might have an addiction. To purchasing magazines. Seriously. I cannot get enough of them. I “only” subscribe to four, but I sure do a great job of pretending I subscribe to others.

Every month, I look forward to opening my mailbox and seeing Style at Home, Oxygen, Clean Eating and Canadian Living.

Every time I’m in the store, I look for new issues of Today’s Parent, Parenting, House and Home, Kitchens, Better Homes and Gardens, Fitness, Fitness RX, Shape, Health, Best Health, so on and so forth. Our coffee table is piled high with back issues. As is my nightstand.

I heart magazines. I heart thumbing through their pages. I heart looking at their designs. I heart reading through their stories and perusing their images. They keep me company on the treadmill and stationary bike, at the doctor’s office, when I’m nursing my small child and when I’m kicking back on the couch.

Perhaps I should look into an e-Reader and score some electronic subscriptions. But then I’d be giving up the actual art of thumbing through a magazine.

I’m not sure I’m ready for that.

Yet.

Anyone have e-Reader suggestions? Do you subscribe to magazines? Love it? Hate it?

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Peaches!

Here’s the thing about peaches. I could eat them every day, all day. Back to back to back. Because they are THAT good.

Yesterday, I stumbled across a tweet by Canadian House and Home magazine.

Don’t mind if I do! I immediately scouted out the Healthy Oat Peaches And Cream Muffins recipe because, really, who doesn’t love muffins? And, I tried them out this morning. Delicious! Don’t believe me? Try them for yourself.

Also, try the other recipes. Because, you can’t go wrong with peaches.

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Orzo and fennel, say what?

Don't let the fennel bulb scare you. It's actually fairly easy to use.

If you had told me a few years back that I would one day prepare a dish with orzo and fennel, I would’ve said, “But, I don’t eat a lot of organic foods.”

It turns out that I knew little about either.

I was leafing through the March/April 2010 issue of Clean Eating magazine last Thursday when I spotted a recipe for Orzo with Citrus & Fennel. I knew orzo (Italian for “barley”) to be a type of pasta shaped like rice, but I had never eaten it, much less cooked with it. I also knew I could find fennel in the produce aisle. Judging from the recipe’s accompanying picture, I suspected the odd-sounding ingredients would transform themselves into a pasta-salad-like side dish (what a sleuth I am!). I could only hope that it would taste good, too. After all, would a recipe call for fennel if it tasted horrible?

Ingredients in hand, including a crazy-looking fennel bulb, I churned out the recipe and tried it out on Husband for dinner on Friday. His response? Excellent! So, I tripled the recipe and brought the dish to a barbecue at the in-laws on Saturday. Their response? Excellent!

You know you’re doing something right when even the teenagers ask for more.

So, if you’re looking to try something different, something refreshing and something amazingly easy, give this recipe a shot.

Orzo with Fennel & Citrus*
(4 servings)

5 oz. orzo (found in the pasta aisle)
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 orange
1/4 medium bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced, plus 1 Tbsp. feathery fennel fronds, chopped
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta OR goat cheese

Cook orzo according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Zest orange and add zest to bowl with vinaigrette. Peel orange (over same bowl to catch drippings) and cut sections from orange. Place orange sections in separate bowl. Squeeze any remaining orange juice into vinaigrette and discard membrane.

Drain orzo; add to large bowl with vinaigrette and toss. Set aside to cool slightly.

Add orange sections to orzo. Stir in fennel, fennel fronds and onions. Top with feta or goat cheese and serve at room temperature or chilled.

Oh, and fennel? It tastes a little bit like licorice. Really!

*Recipe taken from the March/April 2010 Clean Eating magazine, pg. 69.

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Size 2 fashion for “all”

I always, always smile when I see news articles or magazine features recommend clothing styles based on a woman’s particular shape. Pear. Apple. Boy. Petite. Top-heavy. You name it; there are articles written about it. Here’s yet another:

Unfortunately, I always, always know what I’m going to read about: clothing suggestions for real-women body types shown on fashion models that represent 2 percent of the entire world population.

OK, maybe that’s an over-generalization. However, check out the link to Fitness Magazine’s suggestions for shorts for your body type. Note the photographed fashion and the sizes they appear to be. 0s? 2s? Maybe 4s?

Like I said, 2 percent of the population.

Oh, and read the comments for the article, particularly those under Slide 2: Shorts for Full Thighs.

Comical.

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Will read for food

library

Libraries are cool.

I am the proud owner of a brand-spanking-new library card. That’s right. A library card. For use at the local public library. The place where you can check out books. For free. You know, those objects with numerous pages of paper filled with words and binded together. That you can flip through. Manually.

Surely you remember books.

Anyway, I picked up a card because, while I love adding books to my collection (yes, I still purchase books from time to time), sometimes I just want to read a book without spending money. And, because, long ago I lived in libraries. Almost quite literally.

I grew up sans television. My brothers and I were encouraged to find other ways to entertain ourselves and grow our brains. To our parents’ relief, we gravitated toward books. Big ones. Skinny ones. Long ones. Short ones. Funny ones. Serious ones. Dull ones. Books. Books. Books.

We could not get enough of books. Every week, we made a trip to the library. Sometimes to two or three different libraries. Our local library was small, and it did not take us long to canvass its entire children’s and teen literature sections. Oftentimes, we’d check out the same books over and over again. Just for fun. Because we liked them so much the first time. And second time. Seriously, I cannot even tell you the number of times I rented Clara Barton: Civil War Nurse or Maniac Magee.

Our a-bit-less-local local library was huge by comparison with aisle upon aisle of books. On Thursday mornings in the summer, we spent hours poring through our respective sections, always walking away with a mountain of books. All bagged. Of course, this was back during the days of “everyone gets free plastic bags.” Oh, the good ol’ days.

We’d read after school (if our homework was done) during the school year and on the weekends and all summer long. I can remember many a time being asked repeatedly to complete a chore and responding with one of the following exclamations:

“I’m almost done with this chapter!”
“One minute, I’m almost done!”
“I’m coming in a minute!”
“I’m REALLY coming in a minute!”
“I promise I’m REALLY coming in a minute!”

OK, in truth, those statements were made by me when asked why I had not yet finished dusting the ENTIRE house from top to bottom. Somehow answering with, “BECAUSE I HATE DUSTING!” just didn’t seem right.

When our grade school introduced the Book It! program, my brothers and I increased our frenzied reading pace to earn countless free Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut. And Right to Read Week was also a hit because, well, who didn’t like a free period devoted to reading a book of our choice?

We read our way through middle school and high school, too. At least, I read. My brothers? Maybe not quite as much. College, however, was different. I did still frequent libraries, but only to study or find references for research papers. It was much harder to read for pleasure when my days and evenings were spent reading pre-selected material. Let me rephrase that with “sometimes nonenjoyable pre-selected material.” And lots and lots of it. Graduate school was even worse. Reading began to equal a giant pain.

So, my reading shifted gears. I turned to magazines and newspapers and online news sites for pleasure-reading. I read them religiously. And that’s the only material I continued to read for several years after college.

I can’t even remember when exactly it happened, but I did eventually pick up a book again. Just to read it. For fun. And, I remembered why I came to love books in the first place. Who doesn’t enjoy a good story? Sure, I’ll always adore magazines (I collected National Geographic forever), but books are where the developed stories are. Where the full-blown plots are. Where the characters are.

Which is why I found myself at the local library today. Applying for a library card. So that I can, again, get all that enjoyment for free.

And, while I am no longer rewarded with Personal Pan Pizzas for my reading conquests, I do sometimes find myself delaying a task so that I can get to the end of a chapter. Or a book. Because, after all, I should probably return it to the library as soon as possible so that someone else can borrow it.

For free. Because that’s what libraries are for.

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Cleaning up your diet

issue10I picked up the November/December issue of Clean Eating magazine a few days ago and spent yesterday trying out some recipes: Coco Cran Nut Muffins and Sausage & Vegetable Farro Soup, to name a few.

If you’re not familiar with the idea of clean eating, it basically involves consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible. It’s not so much a diet as it is a lifestyle approach to food and its preparation. You can read more about clean eating here.

No, I am not vegan. No, I am not vegetarian. Yes, I love eating food. All kinds of food. Please read on.

I first learned about clean eating in an issue of Oxygen magazine. I love that magazine! It’s for women who are hooked on physical activity, particularly gym rats, and it caters to a wide range of athletic prowess—from newbies to veterans. It’s always chock-full of fitness and diet advice. The diet advice adheres to clean eating.

Now, I’ve always been active. But, it’s only been recently that I’ve put more thought into what I feed my body. Did you know that about 80 percent of your body makeup is based on the food you consume? It turns out that you really are what you eat. So, if I’m going to work hard to create/maintain lean muscle mass, I might as well work just as hard to feed my body the right kinds of food.

Except, clean eating isn’t really that hard. And, thankfully, I’ve always preferred to eat food that’s good for me, so the whole concept isn’t terribly far-fetched, even if some of the clean-eating principles are:

Eat five to six meals a day.
Drink at least two liters of water a day.
Get label savvy and select foods that have one or two ingredients.
Avoid processed and refined foods.
Avoid saturated/trans fats and a lot of sugar.
Consume humanely raised and local meats.
Consume healthy fats, like essential fatty acids.
Learn about portion sizes and stick to them.
Reduce your carbon footprint.
Indulge in red wine on rare occasions.
Slow down and savor meals.
Pack a cooler for work to always have clean food readily available.
Make food a healthful, family affair.

I’ve underlined the principles I’m pretty good at or am working on. It turns out that I am not terribly concerned about how the meat I choose to eat was raised in a former life. That does not mean I think individuals should act inhumanely toward their livestock. And, I am not overly concerned with my carbon footprint. I believe Al Gore is worrying enough for the entire globe. While he flies about in his private jet.

And, while I mostly stick to most of these principles most of the time, eating is not a religion. I have treats. And, I love chocolate. The non-healthy sort of chocolate found on doughnuts and in ice cream. It’s all about checks and balances.

Anyway, for me, clean eating makes good sense. Give it a try. Who knows? You might surprise your taste buds. And your waistline.

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Fitness for all (who fit the mold)

I have a thing for fitness magazines. You name the publication—Women’s Health, SHAPE, Oxygen, Fitness—I likely subscribe to it, or purchase the latest issue whenever I pass by one at a newsstand.

I love flipping through pages of “650+ Weight-loss Tips that Work,” “Burn 350 Calories Effortlessly,” “Stop the Bingeing” and “Tone Up in All the Right Places.” I love reading the success stories of women like Andrea, who six years into a bad marriage found herself at her highest weight, decided she’d had enough, started exercising and lost 90 pounds, and Jacqueline, who went away to college and gained far more than the freshman 15, decided to start eating right and lost 45 lbs. Their stories are inspirational, particularly as I watch the world around me grow more and more obese.

I enjoy leafing through the various workout plans. I get a lot of great ideas to incorporate into my time at the gym. And, lately, as I venture more sure-footedly into the world of cooking, I find myself actually tearing out recipes for potential future use. Yes, it’s true.

Over all, I give fitness magazines mostly enthusiastic thumbs up. Except in a few areas.

1. Letters to the editor continually come from individuals unhappy with the models used in the magazines. The readers always complain of the models being “too thin,” “too perfect-looking,” “too airbrushed” and “too just not what every American woman really looks like.”

News flash, my fellow readers! The women in these magazines are NOT just like you. Because they actually work out. And adhere to a healthy eating plan. Yes, maybe their parents are slender or they have super metabolisms, but I doubt they’re regularly stopping by fast food joints or raiding the vending machine down the hall from their offices.

2. With all the “eat healthy, get exercising and get fit” credos flowing from the magazines’ pages, I’m always surprised by the number of advertisements hawking “health supplements” designed to help a person lose excess body weight. With our NEW fat-blasting, metabolism-accelerating super pill, you can shed your extra pounds in three days. That’s right! Three days! For amazingly low installments of $23/month* you too can look just like this ultra-Photoshopped model who recently had breast augmentation, bleached her hair blonde and spends more time in a tanning bed than in her own bed. Congratulations!

3. There are no tall women in these magazines, save one, Gabby Reece, an ex-professional beach volleyball player. She’s 6’3” and apparently the only attractive, tall model these magazines can find. Interested in the articles on great fashion finds? Or “Fashions that Fit Your Figure?” No luck if you’re tall. You only find advice if you’re pear-shaped, boy-shaped, small-chested, big-chested, petite in frame or, my favorite, “bootylicious.” “Super, gigantically tall” is apparently NOT a common average size.

I have to say, I get a good chuckle out of the letters to fashion editors that start with “Help! I’m 5’9” and can’t find pants to fit my long legs…” To this, my left eyebrow goes up. And sometimes stays up.

4. This kinda goes with #3, but warrants its own number because it’s so ridiculous. These magazines offer all sorts of “calculators.” Calculate your ideal body weight. Calculate your BMI (body mass index). Calculate the number of calories your body really needs in a day. Like an online weight predictor tool can accurately account for muscle mass, water weight or body frame.

Of course, I’m suckered in and check my “ideal numbers” anyway. Most recently, I was directed to SHAPE’s Web site and its “Your Ideal Body Weight” calculator. It asks for your current weight, your height in feet and inches, your sex and your body frame size.

So, I plugged all my stats in. And, this is what I got back (click on image to view in full size):

Great. I can only calculate my ideal weight if I shave three inches off of my height. That’s encouraging. And slightly perplexing.

Ah well. These publications’ inability to keep me from finding out my ideal body weight won’t keep me from reading the actual issues. There’s too much body-shaping entertainment going on inside. In the mean time, I’ll just have to guess at what my ideal weight is supposed to be.


* Results not typical. Based on an 87-month trial period. Individuals who went off said supplement gained back all weight plus 127 lbs. for good measure. Side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, runny eyeballs, loss of hearing, loss of smell, excessive twitching and excessive body hair. In none too rare instances, death has occurred.