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How to avoid getting the flu beyond just washing your hands

Last flu season nearly 38 million people came down with the illness. Of those, 531,000 were hospitalized, and between 36,400 and 61,200 people died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of course the usual advice is great: Get the vaccine, wash your hands often, and avoid contact with anyone who has been sick. But beyond that, is there anything else we can do? Most illness are spread by your hands, so using sanitizer and washing them regularly is extremely important, especially after coming home from a day in our germ-ridden world. So that really is the number one thing you can do. But what’s some other advice for avoiding the flu this season all together? Disinfect items you touch often. Your cell phone, tablet, and desk phone are all prime hiding spots for germs. You touch the outside world, then touch your cell, then put it to your…

10 fun facts you never knew about maple syrup

If you’ve ever had maple syrup—the real maple syrup—you know those corn syrup knock-offs just can’t compare. Real maple syrup has a rich, complexed flavor with a balanced level of natural sweetness. The fake stuff? Super sugary and pretty bland in comparison. With all of that fake syrup floating around, we tend to forget where the good stuff comes from. If you love real maple syrup, stick around. Here are 12 fun facts you never knew: The maple syrup capital is canada, of course. Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer of the sweet amber elixir with more than 890,000 gallons a year, but the U.S. pales in comparison to Canada’s production. More than 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup comes from Canada. Québec alone is responsible for nearly 8 million gallons a year. Native Americans were the first to discover maple syrup. Legend has it that Native Americans observed…

How long to cook chicken breast

Whether it’s tenders, tacos, breasts, or kabobs, everyone loves chicken. The average American eats a whopping 201 pounds of chicken every single year. Most people, especially those looking for a healthier diet, prefer chicken breast to other kinds of meat because it’s a great, lean source of protein, and it’s highly accessible. Yet, this dietary staple is surprisingly difficult to cook correctly and often times comes out dry and rubbery. So how long exactly should you cook a chicken breast? Chicken breast loses its juiciness and appetizing texture when it’s overcooked. How long you need to cook your chicken breast largely depends on the size and thickness of the breast and of course your method of cooking. Also, try this easy weeknight Chicken Parmesan recipe. how long to cook a chicken breast In the oven: Bake or roast chicken at 375ºF for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness. In…

25 Healthy New Year’s Resolutions you can actually keep

A fresh new year brings good reason for a bright, positive outlook. But those New Year’s Eve sparkles in our eyes can sometimes blind us to the reality of our lofty goals. Sure, it is totally possible to set a New Year’s Resolution to “lose weight” and actually be successful, but the chances of you sticking with that—just because it’s your resolution—are pretty unlikely. (That’s a pretty big goal to reach without a game plan.) My advice? Aim smaller, and be more specific. It’s true that one healthy move promotes another. Choose one or more of these small resolutions below, and you’ll be setting yourself up to actual achieve your bigger health goals sometime not too far down the road. Here’s to new happy, healthy beginnings! healthy New Year’s resolutions 1. Drink an 8-ounce glass of water every morning and another before dinner. 2. Get outside to walk for 10…

What’s the difference between jam, jelly, marmalade, and preserves?

Is there any more simply satisfying breakfast than toast with jam? Or wait, was that jelly? Or was it preserves? Maybe marmalade? Fruit spreads are all deliciously similar, but they do have definite distinctions. Whether you smother your fresh baguette with preserves from the farmers market or smear your peanut butter and jelly sandwich with Smuckers, it’s important to know the difference because they each have their own texture and sugar content. What they have in common According to the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University, jam, jelly, preserves, and marmalades are all made up of the same basic four ingredients: sweeteners (such as can or beet sugar, corn syrup, or honey); naturally occurring acid, pectin (which can be swapped or even eliminated depending on the desired outcome); and of course, fruit. So now that we know what’s in them, what makes them each different?…

How to store a cake and keep it fresh

Nothing beats freshly baked cakes and cupcakes, but eating them all in one sitting certainly isn’t advised. So how do you go about storing leftovers, or handling those times when you have to buy a cake in advance? Here is how to keep your cake fresh as long as possible. The refrigerator is not your friend If you’re in the habit of thinking the fridge magically lengthens the life of any food, think again. Refrigerating cake actually makes it go stale faster. It has to do with how cooling forces moisture to the surface where it evaporates. Since this process happens faster in the fridge, the cake will harden and get stale prematurely. The best thing you can do, is let your cake sit at room temperature—the same goes for breads and other baked goods too. store 1 to 3 days: Cake goes on the counter If you’re planning on…

Festive peppermint candy bowls

Make a super cute Christmas dish using nothing but peppermint candies! It’s a fun and easy craft for kids to help with, and a unique way for adults to serve candy, ice cream, or other goodies to guests. I like serving ice cream in these bowls because the bowl really will impart a delicious minty flavor. Top with chocolate sauce, sprinkle or M&M’s for a tasty treat. Tip: Use spearmints for a fun, festive green bowl, or mix up the two! Mints melt, but not so much that the colors will run, so you can get creative with this! What’s the difference between peppermint and spearmint? Festive peppermint candy bowls What you’ll need 19 Peppermint Starlights, unwrapped (19 mints per bowl) Silicon baking mat (or parchment paper) Baking sheet A small bowl, preferably glass (about 4-5 inches across the top) Directions Preheat oven to 300ºF. Line baking sheet with…

10 ways to instantly upgrade your hot chocolate

Winter has arrived and that means it’s time to break out your fuzziest slippers, coziest sweater, and snuggle up to a piping hot mug of hot chocolate for a few guilt-free hours of Netflix and chill. But no matter whether you use a homemade recipe or open a packet of the powdery stuff, basic hot chocolate can be pretty boring—especially as the winter wears on. Upgrade your old, uninspired recipe with one of these exciting, delicious hot chocolate additions. Also try this Winter White Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon. What to add to hot cocoa Add-in any of these ingredients for a brand new hot chocolate experience: Cinnamon brown sugar  Sprinkle in a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar for a decadent hot chocolate you only thought possible in your winter dreams. Freshly-brewed espresso or coffee The coffee/hot chocolate classic combo never disappoints. Go for freshly made espresso or coffee if…

Everything you need to know about shipping cookies

I’ve made all the mistakes when it comes to shipping cookies. When my fiancé was working in Afghanistan I would experiment using just about every trick recommended, all so he could enjoy his beloved molasses cookies. I might not do it professionally, but if I can get cookies to arrive safe and delicious through international AND military mail one week later to the Middle East, I feel I’ve earned my street cred. So what wisdom can I impart this holiday season for those looking to send cookies overseas or even just to loved ones the next city over? 1. Don’t pack them up if they’re still even slightly warm. Nope. Don’t do it. Not even if you’re in a rush to make it to the Post Office before it closes. While I can totally relate to this predicament, shipping warm cookies is never a good idea. They will cause a…

5 gifts the ‘crunchy mama’ would totally love

Crunchy. Granola. Earth Mama. These labels aren’t usually insults, rather, they evoke an image of someone who does things a little less conventionally for the health of his or her family. Sometimes people who get labeled as “crunchy” don’t even think of themselves that way! They’re just living their best life. Whether it’s an obsession with organic groceries (and hand creams, and clothes, and diapers, etc.) or a chicken coop in their backyard, they’re down to live life the most wholesome way they know how—and that’s by DIY with many of their own foods right at home. Shopping for someone in the crunchy camp can be difficult if you don’t know their personal rulebook. But you can bet they’ll actually use—and actually appreciate—any one of these great 5 DIY in the kitchen gadgets below. 1. Buttercup Homemade Butter Maker ($12.99) Just add fresh cream to the Buttercup Butter Maker by Chef’n,…