Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Zesty Cod-Kale Salad Recipe Offers High Protein and Low Calories

Healthy food full of vitamins and minerals doesn’t need to be difficult to find or hard to prepare. Consider a charbroiled cod-kale salad to fulfill your appetite while not adding to your waistline. It is full of protein and helps in fostering muscle growth to support your fitness goals. Best of all it is under 500 calories for a large serving and won't leave you hungry.

Kale is also considered a wonder salad. It is has no fat, lots of vitamins, full of anti-oxidants, low calories, lowers cholesterol, full of fiber, and is anti-inflammatory (1).  It means that it is one of the hottest types of health food on the market. According to Medical News Today kale supports hair and skin while fighting against major diseases (2).

A healthy serving of fish will not do you harm. Cod is often cooked with butter and this adds to bad fats even though it improves taste. It is possible to reduce these bad fats by using more spices and lemon to augment the flavor. The olive oil (or alternative) provides an opportunity to charbroil the sides to a crispy conclusion while not adding to bad fats.


-Squeeze lemon sauce, salt and pepper (other spices), and light olive (or alternative oil) on cod and place on grill. Grill and charbroil until cooked and slightly blackened. (Calories 190-230/41 g protein).

-Wash and place kale in bowl (40-60 calories).

-Add walnuts, onions, salt, mushrooms, and dried raspberries (140 calories).

-Mix salad with honey-mustard yogurt dressing 2 tablespoons (45 calories).

-When cod is finished grilling place on salad and serve (Calories 400-475 total meal).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Positive Economic Indicators Point to a Brighter 2014

The economy looks bright for much of the next year according to the Conference Board, Bloomberg’s poll of leading economists, and the International Monetary Fund. After a prolonged decade of slow down any positive market news is welcomed. However, with increases in multiple measurements one can get a better feeling for growing trends and how those trends will impact national investment opportunities. At present, the market appears to be increasing in growth and opportunity for both the U.S. as well as other nations which could encourage further growth.

The Conference Board used broad based measures that included the labor market, interest rates, factory orders, stocks price, and construction. The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index for the U.S. rose .8% in March to 100.9 indicating a substantial increase in the U.S. economy (1). The economy has put away its winder mitts and gloves and significant improvements in the market are possible.

The Conference Board was not the only one to make optimistic predictions. Bloomberg polled 42 leading economists and came to the conclusion that an advance of .7 (estimates ranged from .3 to 1) in the leading index could be realized (2).  Six of the ten leading index estimates are higher and it is projected that there will be an economic increase of 2.7 % this year when compared with 1.9 percent in 2013.

Acceleration in the global economy is also expected. According to the IMF, global growth is expected to realize an increase of 3.7% in 2014 and 3.9% in 2015 (3). It is believed that there are still some risks due to poor economic management and shaky internal structures. Emerging economies will receive a push from demands in the advanced economies that will help with stabilization.

The outlook is bright over the next two years. Assessment of the economy requires reviewing indicators from different vantage points and perspectives. Generally, the more measurements that can be incorporated into an assessment the better the overall assessment assuming these measurements are not just “noise”. A single increase in one sector of the economy doesn’t have broad implications or validity in the same way that multiple measures across different sectors of the economy have.

The multiple indicators may also raise optimism on a number of different fronts. Optimism is important for business investment and consumer spending that support growth. When people feel that the economy will grow, and their personal financial well-being is positive, they are more likely to invest and spend the nest eggs they have been putting away. This means they believe that there will be more opportunities in the future as well as more opportunities and respond by rewarding the market with investments and purchases.

The Benefits and Detractors of Using Ankle and Wrist Weights

Ankle and Wrist weights can add additional pressure to any work out as well as prepare you for greater strength and speed in other sporting arenas. Ankle and wrist weights are great for kenpo, yoga, dance, and movement sports but also come with some additional risks for those engaging in repeated cardio exercise. Ensure you know when and where to wear your extra weights to develop higher levels of fitness activity. 

Extra weight means the body has to work harder to complete activities. Weight increases both muscle gain and the physiological effort required to complete activities.  The body will adjust quickly to the change of effort. When engaging in yoga, kenpo (including other martial arts), or dance this extra weight will strengthen your ability to effectively complete these complex moves when the weights are removed. 

For example, in yoga the extension of the leg or arm may benefit from the extra weight. However, the exercise has little to no negative stress impact and is primarily based on isometrics. This means that the extra weight doesn’t create impact stress on the body by placing additional load on joints and ligaments. When the weights are removed the level of effort is less.

Obviously the extra weight will also raise the cardio benefits of engaging in these activities. The heart rate will increase to pump more blood to ensure that the muscles are fed properly under this new weight. The more activity your heart engages in, the more successful you will be in improving your overall health. 

The downsides occur when completing cardio exercises such as running, walking, and sprinting. According to biomechanical and computer modeling the extra weight quickly increases the risk of injury (1).  It is argued that the risks of permanent injury far outweigh the benefits and should be avoided. 

The problem results when the body engages in the same motion over and over thereby creating repetitive tears in the muscles and prolonged wear on the ligaments and joints. The risks also exist for those who do not use weights but rises substantially when extra weight is applied. If you are adamant about the use of weights during repeat cardio exercises option for the 1-3 pound range (2). 

Using weights provides extra benefits for those engaging in martial arts, dance, yoga, and similar form style sports. The weight will help strengthen the major muscles and require the body to build the tertiary muscles to deal with the extra stress. The fitness gain is beneficial when the form exercises require enough strength to hold one’s position for prolonged periods of time. Avoid using such weights for your general cardio routines to lessen the chance of injury and forced time off of your other activities.

Art History: The Allegory of Spring

The Allegory of Spring (Primaver) was painted in 1842 during the Italian Renaissance by Sandro Botticelli (1). He was raised as a tanner and made considerable fame in his lifetime. Some of his works were destroyed by himself later in life when he followed the direction of a famous monk. His works were powerful and he was once invited to paint in the Sistine Chapel (2). Only the best in Europe would be invited to engage in such activities and work for the Papacy.

There are a number of theories as they relate to the painting. One seems to stand out against the others in terms of a combination of a popular poem and mythology of the time. It is believed the painting exists in the realm of Venus with Zephyrus (blue face) chasing Flora, Flora who scatters flowers to create spring, and Venus who protects men (3). She appears pregnant as a sign of giving new life. To the left are three Graces who dance and Mercury who dissipates the clouds above.

It is a mythological story about marriage and children (4). At a time when women did not choose their husbands this story helps show how love and then marriage creates new life in the form of birthing of children (flowers in the picture). Venus is there to protect marriage and encourage the values of chastity, beauty and love.

It is believed that the painting was completed for the marriage of a young couple within the Medici family (5). It is a salute to a young couple in love that could afford to be married on their own terms. It is hoped they are protected by Venus and have many children. The wedding gift of choice likely was an expensive patronage by one of the powerful Medici family members.

Either way the painting is a great representation of the interpretation of life. Stories and narratives help create cultures. The more people who engage and believe in stories the more people become tied to an identity. Ancient mythology gave advice about life and tried to explain the world to the people who listened to them. They became a way of viewing the world and help explain its very purpose. 

Capretti, E. (2002). Giunti Editore. Firenze Italy. ISBN 978-88-09-21433-0.