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A Great Way to Get Some New Cooking Skills

A Great Way to Get Some New Cooking Skills

    Last summer, I became one of the early adopters of Google+. Having fully immersed myself in other social media platforms, I was curious to see how this new one would play out. For those of you unfamiliar with the platform, Google+ is a social media platform that enables interactions, similar to Facebook, but it allows you to sort and aggregate the people you follow, in order to selectively send information that is appropriate for those “circles” (e.g. You might want to send BFFs and acquaintances different sets of information via the same platform).

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    The other interesting addition that Google made was the inclusion of Hangouts – a real-time, live-video interface with up to 10 people. Early last summer, my thoughts were … that’s kind of cool, but I had not made any connections as to how it might change the way I interact professionally on the web.

    Needless to say, when I was approached by Joe Saad, the founder of ChefHangout.com with a proposition to join the inaugural group of chefs in a series of online cooking classes using Hangouts; I was intrigued. Our first interactions were, of course via Google Hangout, and I began to see how this platform could enable wider connectedness with those interested in what I do for a living, but also a new way of conveying information and a new model of learning!

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    Until now, I’ve been using social media as a tool to connect with community, and to promote things that are going on with my business (in that order). I’ve been observing how different brands interact on social media — seen the contests, the Wwitter chats, and thought it was interesting, but really the same model of engagement we’ve been used to all along, just on a social media platform, and sometimes it can seem forced. The thing that really attracted me to the idea of using Hangouts as a learning tool, is that while it is a very new way of interacting, it feels genuine and more personal.

    The benefits of real-time interaction

    I do a lot of gluten and grain-free cooking and baking – customizing gluten-free recipes. On the gluten-free baking front, seeing subtle differences in consistency is critical for success – and with gluten-free baking experts being so far-flung, getting that first-hand perspective has been all but impossible unless you are in the same city! In this area, the addition of as little as 2 tablespoons extra liquid, or a difference in oven temperature of 25 degrees can make or break your recipe! Its certainly not the end of the world, but definitely not an experience that encourages you to try baking again anytime soon. And that is my ultimate goal. While I cook for other people for a living, I am really passionate about democratizing food.

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    For me personally, the appeal of this new approach to learning is that it is truly interactive and there are no limits to who can join. I can be in a Hangout with someone on the other side of the country, with them cooking along with me, step-by-step. If they have questions about the caramelization of their onions, or the texture of their gluten-free bread dough, we can see what’s happening on-the-spot, and adjust as we go.

    Get the cooking skills you want

    1. You learn by cooking along with the instructor. Many people are kinesthetic learners, and need to physically go through the motions in order to learn.
    2. Classes are small. Google Hangouts are limited to 10 people, so there will never be more than 9 other people in your class, meaning you have a chance to ask questions as you go.
    3. You get dinner (or cake!) at the end of the class. Classes are real-time, and because you are cooking along with the instructor, you will end up with something new that you have created, and you have dinner ready.

    What else is different about hanging out with chefs?

    Food is a uniting force, and sharing a meal with family or friends is the ultimate bonding experience. Many of us however, are separated by geography and don’t have that many opportunities in a year to share that time together. Part of the appeal for me, was the fact that ChefHangout.com is virtual, meaning friends from across the globe can all sign up for the same class. They can learn something new together, I can bow out of the Hangout at the end of the class, and they can continue to talk over a meal!

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    Conclusion

    There is no doubt that food unites and there is nothing that can replace the way we used to learn how to cook – at the stove, with a mentor guiding us through; this comes pretty close to that.

    Its early days for this new venture, but I’m excited by the prospects because this is a totally new way of learning and communicating about food! I encourage you to check out ChefHangout.com – there are 24 chefs in total involved with the launch, so there’s sure to be something that piques your taste buds!

    (Photo credit: Assortment of Fresh Vegetables via Shutterstock)

    Disclaimer: I am not being paid or compensated to endorse Google+ or any Google products. I do receive monetary compensation for cooking classes I conduct through chefhangout.com.

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2019

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

    But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

    I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

    Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

    1. Nuts

    The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

    Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

    Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

    Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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    2. Blueberries

    Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

    When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

    3. Tomatoes

    Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

    4. Broccoli

    While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

    Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

    Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

    5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

    Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

    The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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    Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

    6. Soy

    Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

    Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

    Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

    7. Dark Chocolate

    When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

    Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

    8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

    Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

    B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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    Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

    Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

    To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

    9. Foods Rich in Zinc

    Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

    Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

    Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

    10. Gingko Biloba

    This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

    It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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    However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

    11. Green and Black Tea

    Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

    Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

    Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

    12. Sage and Rosemary

    Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

    Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

    When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

    More About Boosting Brain Power

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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