Bite of the Week!

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via Health

Strawberry Balsamic Frozen Yogurt

A tasty (and healthy) Health.com alternative to ice cream. Perfect for the upcoming summer season!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) whole-milk vanilla yogurt
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon cherry balsamic or regular balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, optional
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation

1. In a food processor, pulse strawberries until almost smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in remaining ingredients until well combined.

2. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to instructions and transfer to a container with a lid. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Let soften for about 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature before scooping.

For more great recipes visit Health.com!

The Science of Happiness

Usually when people are asked what they want most from life the answer is simple; they want to be happy. In this popular TED Talk Dan Gilbert, Harvard psychologist, explores the science of happiness.

In the video, Gilbert explains that our brain works as an “experience simulator”. This simulator has the ability to think through an event before it happens. And also how we will likely react to and feel about the event. Gilbert compares a person who has won the lottery to a person who becomes paraplegic. Most would think that the person with the new-found monetary wealth would be much happier. Yet, through his research, Gilbert has found that the happiness levels after one year are the same. They are both happy. Why? How can the be? Because happiness can be synthesized.

So what does this mean in everyday life?

This means that you have the power to control your own happiness. Human beings have a “psychological immune system,” a series of non-conscious cognitive processes in which we are able to change our viewpoint of the world. In doing this we feel better about events that occur to us. Most people think that happiness is something that can be found, yet this TED Talk argues that it is something we can create. Gilbert terms this happiness as “synthetic happiness”, a happiness we create when we don’t get what we want, but make the best of a situation. He argues this is much more obtainable than “natural happiness”. Natural happiness only occurs when things go exactly your way.  And how often does that happen? Rarely. If we rely only on natural happiness we will only be happy a small amount of time. However, when we are synthetically happy we have the opportunity to be happy more frequently.

In this TED Talk Gilbert claims that “synthetic happiness is every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness you stumble upon when you get exactly what you are aiming for”. Gilbert provides data and humorous anecdotes to back up this allegation. Give the video a watch to see how you can create true happiness in your life, even when things don’t go as planned.

So, no worries, BE HAPPY!

UPDATE: Revisiting his popular TED Talk 10 years later, Dan Gilbert makes a few changes and clarifications.

RELATED POST: The Happy Secret to Better Work

Drink of the Week!

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via Health

Sparkling Basil Refresher

This unique beverage from Heath.com is sure to refresh you on a warm day. A perfect drink for spring!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup raw sugar or agave
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups raspberry soda water
  • 1.2 cup julienned fresh basil
  • Ice
  • Garnish: Lemon wedges and fresh basil sprigs

Preparation

In a pitcher, combine sugar, lemon juice, raspberry soda water and basil and stir. Pour over ice and garnish with lemon and basil.
Check out a large array of other great recipes at Health.com!

Battling burnout with breaks

Making time for yourself in the busy world of graduate school is hard to do. Research projects, office hours, class presentations, and homework constantly bombard you with work to complete and deadlines to meet. And even when you do come up for air and have a moment to yourself you feel guilty for not tackling your to-do list first.

This type of thinking needs to stop. Everyone, no matter their personal or professional or academic lifestyle, needs to take the occasional break in order to maintain well-being and avoid burnout.  Burnout can be caused by a variety of stresses. It occurs when a person’s mental, emotional and physical abilities are pushed to the limit or beyond. This stress this negatively affects well-being, productivity and much more. Someone experiencing burnout will have trouble focusing on tasks and finding enjoyment in them. Letting your “to-do” lists occasionally wait will help avoid burnout, a break allows you to refocus and feel refreshed. “The time-cost of taking a break is almost always outweighed by the joyful reward of greater clarity and energy when returning to the tasks of the day” say Dr. Karen Horneffer-Ginter in her Huffington Post article.

Breaks don’t have to take the form of an elaborate vacation or a long span of time. A simple change of scene or a five-minute pause can be enough to help relieve stress explains The Mental Health Foundation. Part of how and when to take these breaks comes from knowing yourself. Some evaluation of the activities that bring you happiness and peace of mind will determine the type of break that will work for you. Gravitating to these things can bring you a number of health benefits. For instance, taking regular breaks can help lower your stress levels, reduce heart disease, and give you a more positive mindset and stronger willpower when focusing on tasks. Need some ideas to get started? The infograph below provides a huge selection of ways to take time for yourself. Try something new on your next break, meditate or read a new book. You could discover a new passion! Mixing up your routine keeps your mind sharp.

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Still not sure that taking a break is a good thing? Not sure what kind of break is best for you? Let the Council of Graduate Students do the work and attend a Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week event this week or next! Events continue till Friday April 11th and are dedicated to graduate and professional students here at MSU, providing them with fun opportunities to take a break and feel appreciated. Events span from cooking lessons, tickets to local events, food coupons, FREE chair massages and a night of comedy with Adam Ruben. Graduate students have the chance to try a variety of activities for free or at discounted prices. Check the COGS website for all of the details on the fun!

Bite of the Week!

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via My Recipes

Turkey and Bean Chili

This recipe from MyRecipes.com is perfect for a rainy day!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pre-chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped seeded poblano pepper (about 1)
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 lime wedges

Preparation

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add first 4 ingredients; cook for 6 minutes or until turkey is done, stirring frequently to crumble. Stir in chili powder and next 8 ingredients (through broth); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

 

Spring Is In the Air

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Spring fever. I know I have it. This past winter has felt like the longest winter of my life. I realize that this statement may be a little dramatic.  Data indicates that this past winter has brought the coldest temperatures to Michigan in almost 100 years, according to MLive. The cold temperatures dumped 79 inches of snow throughout the months of December, January, and February. The good news is that this “polar vortex” is almost over. Spring is around the corner and there are so many things we can look forward to in the coming months.

Advantages of warm weather:

  • Trade your shovel, ice scraper, winter boots, puffy coat and gloves for a light jacket, umbrella, picnic basket, sunglasses, and bike!
  • Let the thawing, new growth and sunshine restore your mental and emotional health. Try for 100 happy days!
  • Many seasonal fruits and vegetables are in their prime. Find a farmer’s market in your area and explore the seasonal produce. Shopping locally can also help you eat healthy on a budget.
    • Like berries! They are plentiful this time of year and are a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants help keep us healthy and can help prevent diseases like cancer.
  • Spend time outside again! Spending time outside is great for your physical and mental health. It relieves stress and puts your mind at ease, not to mention it brings you a stronger connection with the natural world.
  • Soak up the sun in moderation! Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D. Lack of this vitamin in the winter months can lead to a breakdown in bone density, a lag in your immune system, and can impair nerve and muscle functions. The regular sunshine of spring can help reduce the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, a mood depression that occurs when people are cooped up during the dark winter months.
  • Once spring hits you can also start exercising out of doors again, whether it be running, walking, or biking. The temperatures are at their optimal point, as it’s not too hot or too cold.  The spring weather can act as a strong motivator for all types of goals.
  • Take advantage of the nice weather, but if you are stuck indoors try opening a few windows to let the natural light and fresh air in. This will rejuvenate you as you work to complete your research, thesis, or class assignments.
  • DISADVANTAGE: Seasonal allergies. A sniffling nose, watery eyes, and constant sneezing are sure to affect many this spring. Huffington Post Healthy Living recommends covering your hair and eyes, staying super hydrated, staying clean, and discussing medications with your doctor to help combat these allergies.

Welcome spring with open arms and engage in all of the healthy ways to experience it!

SPRING HAS SPRUNG AT MSU!

 

Bite of the Week!

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via Health

Spinach Pesto Dip

This spinach pesto dip from Health.com goes great with a snack of veggies!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen, chopped spinach
  • 1 1/4 cups low-fat (2%) Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 celery stalks, cut into sticks
  • 1 pound small carrots, peeled

Preparation

Microwave spinach in a medium microwave-safe bowl on high for 2 minutes. Drain any excess liquid, if needed. Let cool, then stir in the yogurt, pesto, and salt. Serve with the celery and carrots.

Check out a large array of other great recipes at Health.com!