Monday, December 16, 2019

Chocolate Lava Cakes

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  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 or 6 cakes


Description

Here’s how to make incredibly decadent homemade chocolate lava cakes!


Ingredients

  • 6 ounces (170g) high quality semi-sweet chocolate*
  • 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (31g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 cup (60g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks*
  • optional for topping: ice cream, raspberries, and/or chocolate syrup

Instructions

  1. Spray each ramekin with nonstick cooking spray and dust with cocoa powder. This ensures the cakes will seamlessly come out of the ramekins when inverted onto a plate in step 7. *Or spray half of a 12-count muffin pan and dust with cocoa powder. If baking in a muffin pan, the recipe will yield 6 cakes.

  2. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C).
  3. Coarsely chop the chocolate. Place butter into a medium heat-proof bowl, then add chopped chocolate on top. Microwave on high in 10 second increments, stirring after each until completely smooth. Set aside.
  4. Whisk the flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt together in a small bowl. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks together until combined in another small bowl. Pour the flour mixture and eggs into the bowl of chocolate. Slowly stir everything together using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. If there are any lumps, gently use your whisk to rid them. The batter will be slightly thick.
  5. Spoon chocolate batter evenly into each prepared ramekin or muffin cup.
  6. Place ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes until the sides appear solid and firm– the tops will still look soft. *If baking in a muffin pan, the cakes only take about 8-10 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool for 1 minute, then cover each with an inverted plate and turn over. Use an oven mitt because those ramekins are hot! The cakes should release easily from the ramekin. *If you used a muffin pan, use a spoon to release the cakes from the pan and place each upside down on plates.
  8. Add toppings. Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can prepare the batter through step 4. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Allow to come to room
    temperature before continuing with step 5. You can freeze the baked lava cakes for up to 3 months. Allow them to cool completely before freezing. Re-heat in the microwave.

  2. Chocolate: Make sure to use high quality chocolate, not chocolate chips. You won’t have much “lava” with chocolate chips! I suggest high quality chocolate baking bars sold in the baking aisle such as Baker’s, Ghirardelli, Nestle, or Lindt. They’re all typically sold in 4 ounce bars, so you will need 1 and 1/2 bars total.
  3. Eggs: For this recipe, you need 2 whole eggs plus an addition 2 egg yolks. (So you can use 2 extra whites in your healthy omelet tomorrow morning or in any of these recipes!) After 10-14 minutes in an oven this hot, the eggs should be cooked to 160°F which is considered safe to eat. If you’re concerned, you can take the temperature to be sure!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

If You’re Feeling Stressed And Anxious, Research Says: Feed The Birds

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In today’s constant contact, cell-phone celebrated, digital world, most people can go days or even weeks without spending any time in natural sunlight. Instead, we eat breakfast inside, or on the go, only to race to an office, filled with artificial light and plastic plants, for 8 to 10 hours a day. It’s no wonder why Americans’ mental health is suffering.Compare that hectic routine to those memorable moments when you’re able to sit quietly, let the sunshine warm your face, hear the birds, and allow nature to envelope you. While everyone longs for less stress, actually relaxing can be dauntingly stressful!However, a new study out of the United Kingdom sheds light on one way people can de-stress: bird watching. The study finds that people who watch birds from their home have lower depression, anxiety, and stress compared to those that live in less leafy areas that have fewer birds. People "felt relaxed and connected to nature when they watched birds in their garden," researchers say. These feelings increased with the level of bird feeding in the yard, they add.Specifically, the number of birds people might see was directly associated with better mental health. "This study starts to unpick the role that some key components of nature play for our mental well-being. Birds around the home and nature in general, show great promise in preventive health care, making cities healthier, happier places to live.," says lead researcher Dr. Daniel Cox from the University of Exeter.Dr. Tina Phillips, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, agrees. "Overwhelmingly, studies show that people feed birds because it makes them feel more relaxed, that it’s something they’re interested in and ultimately something that makes them feel good."If you want to disconnect from the digital world and relieve some daily stress and anxiety, getting outside, bird watching could be the key to increasing your mindful, mental health. Since studies reveal the more birds you see, the less likely you are to be stressed and anxious, it’s important to attract as many birds as possible.The first step to attracting birds is to use an all-purpose tube feeder, which is the number one feeder choice, allowing birds to feed from multiple ports. Cole’s Wild Bird Products, Co. offers the Terrific Tube feeder, it’s made to last with state-of-the-art materials that prevent warping and discoloration and it features a "Quick Clean" removable base, so cleaning is super simple. Natural grip perch covers mimic the feel of a real branch, which encourages longer feeding times.Once you have the right feeder, you’ll need reliable seed that will bring birds to your backyard to deliver that dose of stress relief we all desire. According to Elaine Cole, President and owner of Cole’s, the quality of birdseed will determine how many feathered friends will flock to your backyard.Unlike other birdseed mixes, which typically contain cheap filler seed like milo and wheat, Cole’s selects only the top 1 to 2 percent of the highest quality seeds birds like to eat. Plus, Cole’s doesn’t add pesticides or chemicals, preferring instead to keep the seed as close to its natural state as possible."If you use inferior seed, you’re not going to like the results. Our seed is specifically formulated to attract the greatest number, variety, and species of birds. Birds are picky and birdseed matters. If you use cheap feed, they won’t hesitate look for something else they prefer. Birds are like people, give them what they like to eat and they’ll come back and bring their friends." Cole said.Since we’ve learned that the more birds we attract, the more stress-free we’ll be, it makes good sense to use the best bird feed you can buy. Cole’s Special Feeder, attracts the greatest number of wild birds than any other mix out there. Add Cole’s Blue Ribbon blend, which attracts the greatest variety of wild birds to the mix, and you’ve got the perfect prescription to help cal your anxiety and stress.At the heart of it, everyone wants less stress and anxiety. Once you start watching birds in action, they’ll engage your attention in a way that keeps you in the moment, a state that provides mental relief. Admiring their beauty, listening to their sweet song and enjoying their antics will calm your overactive mind and bring joy and renewal
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The Rise Of Digital Wallets And Mobile Payments

More businesses and countries worldwide are embracing digital payments as a way to make e-commerce more efficient and create a smoother transaction experience for consumers.Digital wallets, such as uBUCK, offer a dollar-backed stable token built on Waves blockchain technology, one of the fastest blockchains available. uBUCK’s technology allows for the management of both digital and traditional currency, and both online and offline purchasing power."Piloted by an all-star management team, uBUCK is looking beyond carving out a niche to become a disruptive player in this ever-changing payments industry," according to the company’s website.The uBUCK digital wallet allows for instant transfers of funds, and unlike some digital wallets, uBUCK is not limited to the United States. Transfers can occur globally, with no transfer fees and no cost to the end user.The elimination of transfer fees is one of uBUCK’s strongest selling points, as it is an option for those who don’t have traditional bank accounts, such as migrant workers looking to send moneyUsers without a uBUCK account will be invited to the app via email.* Send payment. Users can then enter the payment amount, send, and confirm."Our mission is to put honesty, transparency, and trust back into software," according to Ashik Karim, CEO of LiteLink Technologies, the parent company of uBUCK Technologies. LiteLink was recently featured in a Forbesmagazine article, "10 Blockchain Companies to Watch in 2019."LiteLink is publicly traded on the Canadian Securities Exchange and OTC Markets.

Don’t Miss These Signs Of School Bullying


The start of the new school year should be a positive and exciting time for children, but for many it also means a return to being bullied, and the physical and mental health consequences that accompany it.Results of a study published in School Psychology Review found that nearly half of children in grades 4-12 reported being bullied by other students at least once during the previous month.According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, a slightly higher portion of female than of male students report being bullied at school (23 percent versus 19 percent.)In a 2017 survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 percent of North Carolina high schoolers reported being bullied on school property within the previous year. When broken down by gender, 23 percent of high school girls and 15 percent of high school boys in North Carolina reported being bullied at school.Possible signs that a child is being bullied at school include:- Acting in a way that is out of character for the child, such as becoming more angry or anxious.- Trying to avoid school with excuses such as increased physical complaints.- Demonstrating trouble with schoolwork.- Exhibiting unusual eating or sleeping habits.- Losing valuables such as lunch money or possessions."Bullying behavior tends to peak in middle school years, but it can happen at any age," says Dr. Michael Golinkoff of AmeriHealth Caritas, a national leader in healthcare solutions for those most in need."Victims of bullying may be reluctant to inform their parents or others. So it is important for parents to be observant for signs that their child may be getting bullied and respond accordingly," he emphasizes.But parents can help stop bullying before it starts and be part of the solution when it occurs. Some steps parents can take to help their child include:- Be informed. Find out your school’s policy on bullying and speak to the principal or other administrator.- Be engaged. Talk to your child about his or her experience. Don’t judge, just listen.- Be a team. Involve your child in strategies to help stop the bullying. Get the teachers on board so everyone knows what to do when problem behavior occurs."The most important advice for a child who is being bullied is to help them develop assertiveness skills and conflict resolution skills," says Dr. Golinkoff."This includes standing up for their beliefs and ignoring negativity directed towards them. Role playing exercises can help children learn how to take a stand against an aggressor.

5 Tips For Balancing A Career And Caregiving

An estimated 34 million Americans provide unpaid care to adults age 50 or older every year, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, and that number is rapidly growing. More than half of those caregivers feel they have to make compromises at work to care for their aging parents, according to a new survey from Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network.With the rise in our aging population, more and more adult children are assuming the role of caregiver while also maintaining a full- or part-time job. This pressure to balance work and caregiving responsibilities has left 61 percent of working caregivers feeling as if they must choose between being a good employee and being a good daughter or son. To make matters worse, only 29 percent of these caregivers are satisfied with their employer’s family leave policy.As this issue grows to impact a larger percentage of the workforce, it will be essential that employees and employers work together to find solutions. Consider the following recommendations as ways to get started:1. Ask for help – For caregivers, it can be extremely difficult, but also tremendously beneficial, to ask their employer for help. For employers, create opportunities for employees to express their needs. Schedule brief weekly meetings to check in and ask how they are doing. Transparency helps eliminate pressure on the employees to keep their concerns to themselves.2. Create a flexible policy -When it comes to caring for a loved one, there are no fixed hours or planned deadlines; emergency situations can come at any moment. With a plan in place, employers and employees can be on the same page about flexible working hours or situations that require time off.3. Offer in-office assistance – Employers can create a culture of safety for working caregivers by forming a support group for employees who are in similar situations. Such groups not only provide a place for relief, but also create the opportunity for employees to grow relationships with one another – positively affecting workplace culture.4. Provide care for the caregiver – It can be easy for a caregiver to quickly forget about his or her own needs when caring for a loved one. Encourage individuals to take time to care for their own physical, mental and emotional well-being. In addition, pay attention to signs that indicate your employee may need a break. Connect them with available resources or encourage time away from work.5. Make time to listen – Lending an ear is one of
the most impactful things an employer can do for a working caregiver. More than half of caregivers have expressed feelings of depression and find it difficult to care for themselves. When employers open the door for a conversation, they are providing hope and reassurance to the working caregiver.

What’s In Your Wine May Surprise You

The holiday season is fast approaching. In anticipation of entertaining and gift-giving, now is the time of year we really start to think about wine. Sure, there will be tons of flashy packaging and labels to help find "the best", but have you ever stopped to think about what’s actually in your wine? Heads up: there could be more than you think. The Modern Wine "Factory" Even under FDA regulations, US mass wine producers like many in California can include up to 70 additives in their wines. Colorings like "mega purple" or "ultra-red", synthetic fertilizers, tartaric acid, powdered tannins, and gum Arabic don’t even have to be disclosed on the label. Once again, consider California wines: overall, many aim for consistency year after year. Mass producing wine in some parts of the world is more like a factory than a vineyard. Though there is something to be said for uniformity, a lot of the magic of winemaking is lost. It’s no surprise that all-natural and organic wines are gaining popularity year after year. What’s Old Is New Again Not all wine regions use these artificial tactics. Natural winegrowing and winemaking are not new to Bordeaux. Not only has this region been making wine naturally for centuries, they are literally required to do so. They believe in the art and science of maintaining the holistic health of the region as well as each individual estate’s ecosystem. Only nature determines the wine. Artificial enhancement or even irrigation is forbidden.In Bordeaux, it’s more than just the law. It’s a passion for winemaking methods passed down for hundreds of years. It all starts with the "terroir"- the soil and unique climate conditions where the grapes are grown. Vineyards on two sides of the same hill can produce vastly different characteristics."Every year nature provides wine makers in Bordeaux a fresh canvas," says sommelier and wine expert Joel Prato. "This relationship with nature is evident in the unique taste of each Bordeaux vintage." In a place like Bordeaux, the seasons also have a huge influence on the character of a vintage. Weather can make or break a year. For example, a 2013 Bordeaux is a rare sight as fluctuating weather conditions meant many vineyards didn’t have a crop to bottle. Nature determines production, not factory settings. Making Music (and Wine) Making natural wine is not always easy. To combat the elements, innovative winemakers like Damien Landouar of Château Gaby are turning heads by introducing techniques like Genodics – playing music to the vineyards to boost their natural immunity. When you can’t count on additives and chemicals, you have to be creative. His vines most likely have better taste in music than most people. Highly Rated, Naturally If you’re new to natural wines from places like Bordeaux or want to try a highly rated vintage from the region, here are some recommendations:Château Gaby (Canon Fronsac) – Grown on a 350-year-old vineyard, Château Gaby is truly Bordeaux’s best-kept secret. This complex and well-structured merlot blend is ranked in the top 1 percent of all wines in the region by Vivino and given 92 points by Decanter Magazine. Château Auguste Rosé (Entre-deux-Mers) – Step aside Provence. Bordeaux is making a statement with this organic rosé. Racy, precise, and light on its feet, Château Auguste celebrates strawberries and tangerines with bright minerality.Château Moya (Côtes de Castillon) – A picture of elegance, smooth and balanced. Taste how good organic can be with Château Moya. Awarded 96 points by Jancis Robinson, this wine is a heavenly pairing for delicate cheeses and fresh, seasonal dishes. Château Du Parc (Saint Émilion Grand Cru) – Château Du Parc is grown on older vines in an appellation known for its wine since the days of Ancient Rome. This broad-shouldered and spicy blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc was given 94 points by James Suckling. Learn more at chateau-duparc.com.The holiday season is a time to celebrate with friends and family. These good times of laughter and love are all natural. Shouldn’t your wine be too?

CAREGIVER AND THEIR WORK

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As loved ones begin to age, many wil l take on the honorable role of becoming a caregiver. However, caring for an older adult can be time-consuming, reducing the abili t to address your own needs. In fact, Home Instead Senior Care found that 63 percent of family caregivers said caring for their aging loved ones made it more difficult to care for themselves.With this in mind, Home Instead encourages caregivers to take a minute to recognize and embrace their own feelings and needs. It can be difficult to watch your aging parent or loved one go through the trials of getting older without it taking a toll on your own health. It’s natural to feel anxious, guilty or sad as a family caregiver. In fact, 53 percent of family caregivers admit to feelings of major depression.That is why it’s critical to find a balance between your caregiving responsibilities and your personal needs. When you’re on a plane, flight attendants always emphasize that, in the case of an emergency, adults should secure their own oxygen masks before helping children. This is because the adult won’t be able to help if they do not have the strength themselves.Taking care of an older adult is similar: it’s not selfish to take care of yourself first so you are well enough to take care of them.If you or someone you know is feeling the pressure of being a family caregiver, here are some tips from Lakelyn Hogan, Home Instead Senior Care gerontologist and caregiver advocate, to help overcome the feelings that can get in the way of enjoying time spent with family.* Identify and accept feelings of guilt. Recognize that feelings of guilt are common – so common, in fact, that 85 percent of caregivers have reported such feelings have taken a toll on their mental health.* Find support. Go to supportive family and friends to talk about your emotions. There are also many types of professional support groups available. Discussing your emotions is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of self-care and awareness. According to a 2015 study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, approximately 34.2 million Americans had provided unpaid care to an adult 50 or older in the last year, making it likely that someone else you know is going through the same things you are.* Be kind to yourself. Remember that you are doing the best you can and be proud of that. For humans, guilt is a natural emotion that can make it harder to see the bigger picture. Like clouds on a rainy day, the feelings you are experiencing will pass.* Create an action plan. Take a moment to reflect on why you might be having feelings of guilt. Is caregiving preventing you from doing something you want to do or coming between you and something you value? Create a plan and set a realistic goal for yourself to accomplish these things and relieve yourself of some of your guilt.* Make time for yourself. While caregiving can be time-consuming, you should never lose sight of what makes you, you. Carve out time to take a long walk, meet with a friend for coffee, or cross off steps in your action plan. In the long run, having just 30 minutes a day to yourself will benefit your physical and mental health.Remember, you are not in this alone. Try to set aside time for yourself and lean on others for support.