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Why Dairy Products Are Good For You

Dairy is such an important food group, but lately, with extreme diets and the over-dramatization of food allergies and intolerances – dairy products seem to have, unfairly, been given a bad name.

We all need a balanced diet in order to keep our bodies healthy; no one should remove major food groups from their diet, unless of course advised to do so by a medical professional, as doing so could mean that you’re lacking in vital vitamins and minerals.

How much dairy should I eat?

As with most things in life, moderation and balance is key! Not having any dairy at all could damage your body, whereas having too much could also have the same result.

According to nutritional guidelines, we should all be aiming for approximately two to three portions of dairy every day.

So, one portion could be a small pot of yogurt, a small ‘matchbox’ piece of cheese, or a 200ml glass of milk.

Extreme low-fat diets might be the reason why some people don’t have enough dairy in their diet, as the food group is often seen as being too high in fat. However, by choosing low-fat versions you can still enjoy your favourite dairy foods without the guilt!

Fat free milk can still offer you the same amount of calcium as whole milk, plain yoghurt or low-fat frozen yoghurt and low-fat versions of cheese are all great ways of avoiding the fat while still maintaining a healthy amount of dairy.

What are the benefits of dairy?

Where do we even start? Firstly, most dairy products are very rich in calcium and protein. Calcium is of course needed by the body to build strong and healthy bones and teeth, and protein is a building block of the body, helping the body to repair and build itself.

Depending on the type of dairy consumed, other key nutrients that come form this food source includes: magnesium, folate and vitamins A, D, E, B1, B2, B6, and B12.

Other known benefits of having a diet rich in dairy, is that it helps blood to clot and reduces the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and some cancers, such as colon and breast.

There are so many yummy (and healthy) ways of including dairy in any meal or snack. You could have:

  • Scrambled eggs with milk
  • A cheese omelette
  • A smoothie made with milk and yoghurt
  • Hot chocolate made with low-fat milk
  • Low-fat cheese and crackers
  • Cottage cheese mixed with pineapple or on a jacket potato
  • Low-fat Greek yoghurt mixed with fruit
  • A vegetable pasta dish with either creame fraiche or a soft cheese mixed in with a bit of milk to make a sauce.

Running For Beginners

Have you ever intended on starting an exercise routine but didn’t follow through?

Running is one of the most convenient workout options you’ll find, no gym membership required. Running is also one of the best exercises for your cardiovascular system. Running burns a lot of calories, makes your heart healthier, increases bone density, and clears your mind as you release endorphins. Here’s what you’ll need to do to get started:

Shoes Stable, supportive shoes are key when it comes to running. Don’t settle for any old tennis shoes. Quality shoes will help support your arch and absorb the shock to your joints as you pound the pavement. This will reduce the risk of injury as you begin your regimen. Running shoes are everywhere, but it’s a good idea to shop for them at a sporting good store or a running specialty store in your area. Ordering shoes online is also an option, but you want to try them on and walk around in them beforehand, so it is still smart to visit a store. Plan on spending between $70-$100.

Clothes Try to wear lightweight materials that are wind and sweat proof. Avoid cotton because it will absorb your sweat and get soggy. Whether it is shorts or shirts, go for quality and comfort. Running clothes can be expensive. You can lean towards brand names but you can also go to the local Target for their exercise line.

Goals Pick your trail (or your treadmill). If you’re outside, aim for dirt or asphalt rather than concrete, which is harsher on your body. Be sure to wear reflective clothing when running at night and run towards traffic. Begin by running and walking intermittently. Be reasonable and start slow. Each week, increase the amount of time you run and decrease the amount of time you walk. Use the “Talk” rule; as long as you can hold a conversation at your pace, you’re good to go! Otherwise, slow down, take it easy and make sure you can breathe. Initially, focus on time not intensity. Once you can run for 30 minutes straight and feel good about it, then increase the intensity.

Side stitches, also known as cramps, are fairly common when you take up running. If you get a side stitch while running, walk while holding your hands up in the air and take deep breathes. Applying direct pressure can help as well.

Avoid getting stitches or cramps by:

1) Waiting two to four hours to eat a large meal before running

2) Strengthening your stomach muscles. Your abdominals assist with keeping your body in proper position while running. Do sit-ups to strengthen your lower back and abs.

Shin splints are another painful result of running as you are starting out or increasing the intensity of your regimen. A way to avoid them is to consistently train in another activity such as swimming or biking. If the problem persists, you may need more supportive shoes. Also, make sure you stretch after you run and treat them with RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation.

Tips for Returning Home Happy After Vacation

1. Feeling relaxed doesn’t always equal low stress levels. Keep them in check by going on one or two short, ten-minute runs every day. Pack a running belt so you don’t lose your hotel key when out for a jog.

2. Hotel rooms invariably have very dry air, which is bad for both your skin and your respiratory system. Always bring along a travel humidifier to keep your skin luminous and your breathing comfortable.

3. A base tan is cute, until it quickly turns into a burn after an extra 20 minutes in the sun. Don’t fool yourself into thinking a sunburn is okay – it’s not, especially since it’s the most obvious sign of sun damage. SPF doesn’t get more portable than with sunblock towelettes. Throw them in your beach bag and rub them on before you start to sizzle.

4. Do your ears pop a lot when you fly? Invest in a pair of ear plugs that are specially designed to ease pressure when you’re in the air. Don’t worry – they’ll play music, too, so you don’t have to leave your iPod behind.

5. Stay limber when you travel by practicing yoga, no mat required. Instead, pull on no-slip yoga gloves and socks to turn any room into your personal yoga studio.

6. Acupressure bands push down on your body’s pressure points, which can ease motion sickness. Also, the bands will stimulate your nervous system, which will release endorphins, which will make you feel happy, not nauseated. Whether you’re traveling by land, air or boat, acupressure bands can turn a miserable experience into a memorable one.

7. Pack wipes that do double-duty, like the ones form Herban Essentials. You can safely remove makeup and also use the wipes to clean tabletops, doorknobs and phones in your hotel room. Just don’t remove your makeup with the same wipe you used to clean the remote control, of course.

8. When you’re heading to the beach for vacation, you don’t have to pack much more than a bathing suit, shorts, tank tops and flip flops. Chances are you’ll have to do some walking, though, and going barefoot can put serious strain on your knees and back. Throw a lightweight pair of waking or workout shoes in your bag. Many companies make sneakers that are designed to be light for travel.

9. Maybe you can’t wait to reach your international destination, but you’ll have to endure 15 or more hours on a plane, first. Don’t ignore your circulation – you could end up with serious leg cramps or a blood clot if you do. Wear compression socks, which help your legs to maintain good blood circulation when you’re sitting for a long period of time.

Where To Stay And Play In The Catalan Capital?

Shhhh; it’s a secret. It’s hard to keep a lid on anything in Barcelona, but Barceloneta has just about succeeded. And maybe I should keep it that way? After all, it’s my neighborhood, and I don’t want it to be over-run with hotels and cheesy souvenir shops. You’ll keep it between you and me, right?

Let’s take a look at the typical visitor to Barcelona; they stay on or near La Rambla, they tour the Gothic barrio, they eat tapas and drink sangria. If well-informed, said visitors will wander down to the Mediterranean Sea and have a look at Barceloneta and its port. But will they eat in Barceloneta’s authentic seafood restaurants such as Can Ramonet? Will they sample delectable tapas at La Bombeta’s noisy tables or El Vaso de Oro’s crowded bar? Probably not. Those who are in the know come to Barceloneta to eat, drink, spend the day, and if they’re wise, spend the night.

Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me fill you in on Barceloneta, the neighborhood which consists of some of Barcelona’s most developed seaside property. A small barrio, Barceloneta is bordered on one side by the city’s port, with darling houseboats and a view of Montjuic’s cliffs. On another side sits the hip neighborhood El Born, and to the east are the sea and an expansive boardwalk perfect for strolling, roller-blading, biking, jogging and walking Fido while viewing the Med. Indeed, just down the boardwalk from Barceloneta one encounters Fank Gehry’s Fish sculpture and the five-star Hotel Arts.

In contrast with Hotel Arts, Barceloneta apartment buildings are not grand, nor are they decorated with ornate cherub statues or fanciful iron-clad terraces. They are tall and thin with potted plants and drying socks, shirts, jeans and skirts flapping from small French balconies most days of the year. The neighborhood was set up in 1750 by the city for blue-collar workers and has long been a fisherman’s barrio. Why would the city give the lowest-paid residents the beach-front property? Simply because there wasn’t a beach in Barcelona before the 1992 Olympic games. Prior to lighting the torch, Baceloneta was a dreary, seedy portside neighborhood, and no one who didn’t have to wanted to live there. But things change. Nowadays, the barrio has a new image and buildings are being fixed up and many foreigners are moving into the area because of its beachside positioning. While Barceloneta is becoming popular, it will never be ritzy, which will keep it diverse, unique, affordable and inviting.

For the same reasons, it is one of the best places to stay in Barcelona for those visitors who want to have a more bona fide experience in a real neighborhood on the Med. If you want postcards, overpriced hotels, tourists and tourist prices, stay in the center of the city. If you really want to get to know Barcelona, stay in Barceloneta. That said there are just a few hotels in the area and virtually no hotels within the barrio proper. Enter Akaza apartment rentals. I love this idea because it really gives visitors the full experience. Instead of staying for a week in a hotel, travelers can rent a vacation apartment in Barceloneta from Akaza rental agency and live like the locals do. Renting an apartment is about the same price as a hotel but better for families and plus allows guests the chance to cook and have a cozy ‘home base’ for exploring the city. There are many agencies who offer short term vacation rentals around the city but Akaza is the only one which specializes in Barceloneta, with virtually all of its rentals in the eclectic little district.

So there you have it, the big secret, the inside scoop, the cat in the bag. Take it from this local and pay a visit to Barceloneta on your next visit to Barcelona before they stick in a McDonalds or a cheapo shop selling Mexican sombreros and dumb t-shirts. As we all know too well, the good stuff never lasts long, with authentic individuality ever fleeting in a more and more homogenized world. In other words, get it before it’s gone.

Top 10 Sights in Barcelona – Barcelona Hotels & Travel Guide

I have the official visitor information with figures of the most visited attractions in Barcelona. I have to say that I was surprised by the list, and I thought that maybe if people paid attention to this list and tried to squeeze in all these things on a visit, then they’d be leaving out what I consider to be some of the great sights. So I am also writing an article which is going to be my own personal top 10. This is not to discredit the official list, but just my own opinions, too. Here are the official ones:

1. Sagrada Familia. This is no surprise. The “holy family” cathedral is the unfinished masterpiece of Barcelona’s famous architect, Antoni Gaudi, and receives 2,056,448 visits per year. It’s the landmark of Barcelona, visible from the plane on the way in or out of the city. It was Gaudi’s only work towards the end of his life, and he is also buried in the same cathedral. Even if you think you will have no interest or that architecture does not interest you, go and see it. You cannot fail to be impressed and it’s well worth visiting the museum below where you can see models of what the finished article will be like – your jaw will drop, believe me. The people of Barcelona also hold it close to their heart and Gaudi wanted it to be the people’s cathedral. Apparently various corporations have offered to finish the work in a shorter time than the current progress (in itself a hot debate with estimates ranging from 40 to 80 years!) but Gaudi’s wishes have prevailed, and almost all funding is from the public and the profits from the other attractions bearing his name.

2. Number 2 is L’Aquarium de Barcelona with 1,375,271 visits per year. This was a surprise for me, but maybe is so high on the list as Barcelona is a great place to bring kids, and the Aquarium is also a great place to go with kids. It has a moving walkway with a glass tunnel which I suppose is the best attraction – the sting-rays and sharks swim above you.

3. Poble Espanyol de Montjuic with 1,346,938 visits per year. This was a purpose built “Spanish Village” with different streets representing the different architecture of the various cities in Spain, so you have little white sevillian houses next to the typical eaves and roofs seen in Valencia, etc. During the day there are many arty-crafty things going on, such as glass blowing and pottery and at night there are various restaurants and clubs, including one of Barcelona’s top night spots, Club D.

4. La Pedrera – Casa Mila. This is another great attraction with 1,133,220 visits per year. This strange building, also designed by Gaudi, is nicknamed “The Stone quarry” for the façade of shaped and cut large white stones which are unmistakeably Gaudi. The inside of the building has a period apartment with pieces of furniture also designed by Gaudi. The Attic of the building is a small museum paying homage to the other works of Gaudi with models, photos, slide shows and movies, but the best part is the rooftop. The rooftop looks down onto Paseo de Gracia, one of the most exclusive streets in the city, and also has the strangest chimneys you will ever see – very storm troopers from Star Wars.

5. At number 5 is the Barcelona FC Museum with 1,032,763 visits per year. The Catalan club is an institution and the Barcelonans are so passionate about their football. The Camp Nou, or new camp is an amazing stadium – one of Europe’s largest, and also has the museum and huge shop below.

6. Barcelona Zoo with 1,015,000 visits per year. The city zoo used to house the world’s only albino Gorilla, Snowflake, which was the major attraction, but he died a few years ago. The zoo is still very big, and on a sunny day is a nice spot.

7. The Picasso Museum receives 887,958 visits per year. The famous Spanish artist has a museum located in the old town, with 3,500 pieces from the artist.

8. Barcelona’s Imax Cinema receives 671,512 visits per year. This was another strange one for me, as I have been to the Imax myself, and saw a 3D shark film and a documentary on Australia. Granted, the experience is well worth the entrance fee, BUT both screenings were in Spanish (and the following one in Catalan) and at the time, my Spanish wasn’t the best, so I just kind of switched off and watched the screen. I think more than one tourist would do the same!

9. Penultimate on the list is the Mir Museum with 518,869 visits a year. This museum has a great location, up on Monjuic mountain, very close to the cable car and the funicular, so it’s a logical inclusion here. The Catalan artist has been often imitated but never bettered and you will surely recognise at least one of his works, even if you think you know nothing about him before walking through the doors.

10. Finally we have the National Museum of Art of Catalunya MNAC which is housed in the beautiful palace at Plaça España above the Magic Fountains. 442,692 people troop through the huge installations at the palace and there’s no way to view it all in one go.

15 Facts about Ireland

Ireland is a country full of amazing culture and heritage. This island country in the north Atlantic is known for its beautiful green landscapes, its friendly natives, and their love for art and music.

The Emerald Isle is the third largest island in Europe and the twenty sixth largest island in the world. The name of the state according to the constitution is Ireland in the English language while in the Irish language it is called Eire.

The National flag for Ireland has 3 recognizable colors of green, white and orange. This is called as a tricolor flag. The orange the Protestant supporters of William of Orange, green represents the older Gaelic and Anglo-Norman element and the Catholic supporters in the population while the white represents peace between the two.

To better understand Ireland here are 15 facts about Ireland’s geographical, culture and its people.

Ireland is a country of many rivers and lakes. They refer lakes to as loughs and these body of water are found all over the country

  • None total coastline distance of 3,172kilometers The total land area of Ireland is 84,412km squared. It has atotal coastline distance of 3,172kilometers
  • None The longest river in Ireland is the River Shannon . This body of water is also the longest river in the British Isles.
  • None is a country of many rivers and lakes. They refer lakes to as loughs and these body of water are found all over the country
  • None ’s only reptile is a small lizard. Only 3 amphibia exist in this country which includes the frog and the newt as well as the toad. Take note, there are no snakes in Ireland
  • None The mild, moist climate and the soils are more appropriate for the growth of grass than for fresh crops. Irish agriculture is chiefly mixed pastoral farming with some additional cropping.

Above: Irish people prepare much for The National Day of Ireland is St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated on 17th March.

  • None The National Day of Ireland is St. Patrick ’s Day, celebrated on 17th March. In Ireland , they consider this as a religious holiday where in shops and businesses are closed to give everyone a day off to be spent with family and friends.
  • None is not the only place Gaelic is spoken. Isle of Man and Scotland also speak Gaelic.
  • None Irish traditional wedding would include dressing up both the bride and groom in a kilt (skirt) made from the tartan representing their clan.

  • None prepare much for Easter Sunday by doing “spring cleaning”. This is usually done before the blessing by the local priest in a religious ceremony which exists hundreds of years ago. Irish people prepare much for Easter Sunday by doing “spring cleaning”. This is usually done before the blessing by the local priest in a religious ceremony which exists hundreds of years ago.
  • None Music and dance has been at the very heart of Irish culture and heritage. Irish traditional songs and dances have been passed down through the years give Irish people their strong cultural identity and remains to be a huge part of Irish social life.

It is said there are more Americans of Irish descent in America than there are Irishmen in Ireland. If you ever wondered who found the reason why the sky is blue, It was John Tyndall who claims the credit.

Up to 30% of the Australian population is said to be of Irish blood line. 70 Million People around the world, can claim Irish ancestry.

  • None was said to be first discovered by St. Brendan who was an Irish Monk long before Christopher Columbus did.
  • None reason why the sky is blue, It was John Tyndall who claims the credit.
  • None It is said there are more Americans of Irish descent in America than there are Irishmen in Ireland . Americans celebrate St. Patrick ’s Day with such fun that many people in Ireland tune in their televisions to watch celebrations and parades in the United States
  • None Eamon De Valera was the first President of the Irish Republic was born in Manhattan, New York City. Perhaps this can be explained by the migration of Irish people to the American soil at one point of history. An estimated 40% of the USA Presidents can claim Irish blood.

The 5 Most Unique California Hotels

Trying to find a great hotel while on your vacation can be a challenge. The hotel you choose can set the tone for your entire vacation so it is necessary to find a place to stay that is truly satisfying. California is known for its quirky attractions, including its many options for lodging, which is why the Golden State draws so many visitors. Spending a night or two at one of these 5 unique California hotels is a great way to ensure you will have a memorable excursion.

The Madonna Inn has been a San Luis Obispo landmark for more than 50 years. The inn features a restaurant, bakery, shops and a limo service. The truly genius feature of the hotel, however, is the fact that each of the 110 guest rooms have different themes. Most of the rooms are European style, however each one is different. Some rooms have grottos and waterfall showers while others have fireplaces and round beds. Stay in the world famous caveman room or the golf themed suite. Each room offers some kitschy flair.

San Bernardino’s Wigwam Motel is a staple of historic Route 66. Established in 1949 when the city was just a large orange grove, the motel is now situated between major cities but still offers a rural, vintage feeling. Each motel room is actually a 30 foot tall stucco tepee, modeled after Native American styles. The grounds also feature outdoor grills and a swimming pool for those hot, lazy days. This retro inn is one of the three remaining Wigwam Motels in the country.

Another of the most unique California hotels is Treebones, a Big Sur resort situated along Pacific Coast Highway. Stop at this coastal destination along Highway 1 to spend a night in a yurt. A yurt is essentially a giant tent structure that appears more like a cabin on the inside. These yurts offer spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and visitors can star gaze at night from the comfort of their own beds. The resort also offers a heated swimming pool and an outdoor sushi bar.

The Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel, just an hour south of San Francisco, is another Pacific Ocean destination. Located on a cliff, this hostel offers private and shared rooms. Guests sleep inside the historical lighthouse keeper’s portion of the lighthouse. This is the ideal place to stay to hear the crashing waves against the cliff and to watch for sea life early in the morning.

For a nostalgic 1950s weekend of rest and relaxation, spend a few days at the Palm Springs Rendezvous. This is one of the most uniquely themed bed and breakfasts in the nation with each room in a different 1950s theme, from James Dean to television shows of the 1950s. Marilyn Monroe fans will want to stay in the room named after her; the star actually stayed in this exact room once.