5 Hacks That Actually Keep Avocados Fresh

By Bojana Galic for Livestrong.com

Close up of female hands squeezing lemon on avocado
Image Credit: Cavan Images/Cavan/GettyImages

Nothing is quite as tragic as finding that your precious, vibrant green avocado has browned overnight — your breakfast plans have been foiled.

However, rest assured that you can prevent your avo from turning into brown mush whether it’s whole or already sliced. Find out how to keep avocado fresh and green with these simple yet effective hacks.

1. Add an Acidic Ingredient

Sprinkling an acidic ingredient onto your avocado is a surefire way to keep the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit) from turning brown, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD and author of ​Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table.

Avocados turn brown because of a process called oxidation, which is when the inside of the fruit is exposed to air, Taub-Dix tells us. Sprinkling your cut avo with an acidic ingredient like lemon juice, lime juice or vinegar creates an extra barrier between the air and avocado flesh. Citrus fruits are full of ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C), which halts the oxidation process.

You can even save the gorgeous green color of your guacamole by squeezing some extra lime juice on top and sealing it in an airtight container, Taub-Dix says.

2. Keep the Pit in the Fruit

Keeping the pit in your avocado as long as possible can also help keep the fruit fresh after it’s been cut, Taub-Dix says. Like the lemon juice or vinegar you squeeze onto the fruit flesh, keeping the pit in creates an additional barrier between the avocado and oxygen.

Plus, you can sprinkle your acidic ingredient on top of the pit half of the avocado to maximize results.

3. Store Cut Avocado in Clean Water

No lemons on hand? Storing the cut fruit in clean water is another way to prevent your precious green avocado from browning, according to the California Avocado Commission.

Like acidic ingredients, water also acts as a barrier to prevent the avocado from oxidizing. And don’t fret — the avocado won’t absorb any of the water, so you’ll still be able to spread it on your toast or smash it up into a delicious bowl of guacamole.

4. Keep Ripe Avocados in the Fridge

Unless you’re whipping up an avo toast right after your grocery store trip, you’ll want to place any ripe avocados in the fridge to keep them as fresh as possible, Taub-Dix suggests.

Depending on the ripeness of the fruit, the avocado can stay fresh in the fridge for anywhere between three and five days.

However, if you’ve cut your ripe avocado in half, you’ll want to add an acid like lemon or lime juice or vinegar and seal it properly (more on that below) to prevent browning and keep the fruit as fresh as possible, Taub-Dix says.

5. Store Face-Down and Sealed

Storing your avocado in the fridge with the cut side facing down will also help keep the air from entering the flesh of the fruit, per the California Avocado Commission.

Sealing the fruit away from oxygen is a crucial element in preventing oxidation, according to Taub-Dix. While an airtight container will certainly do the trick, you can also place the two halves back together and wrap them in plastic wrap if you’ve prematurely sliced your avocado.

If your avocado or guac does brown a little bit, scraping off the top should reveal fresh green flesh and won’t change the taste of the fruit.

Or, consider testing an avocado hugger. Whether or not these are effective is still up for debate — Taub-Dix hasn’t tried one herself.

Source: How to Keep Avocado Fresh: 5 Hacks From a Dietitian | Livestrong.com

The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks

BestLife article by Kali Coleman

Slide 1 of 7: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been providing the public with safety guidelines since the pandemic started. These recommendations have helped people all across the country reduce their risk of infection from COVID—particularly if the guidelines are followed in full. Sure, a mask will protect you, but only if it follows all the proper recommendations from the agency on fit, material, and more. For its part, the CDC explicitly warns against six different forms of face masks, as they are not recommended to protect against the coronavirus. Read on to find out which masks you shouldn't be using, and for more from the agency, The CDC Just Gave a Shocking COVID Vaccine Update.Read the original article on Best Life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been providing the public with safety guidelines since the pandemic started. These recommendations have helped people all across the country reduce their risk of infection from COVID—particularly if the guidelines are followed in full. Sure, a mask will protect you, but only if it follows all the proper recommendations from the agency on fit, material, and more. For its part, the CDC explicitly warns against six different forms of face masks, as they are not recommended to protect against the coronavirus. Read on to find out which masks you shouldn’t be using:

Slide 2 of 7: The CDC says your mask needs to fit properly, which means it should fit "snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face."Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician and health advisor for Invigor Medical, says this is because properly fitting masks are the only ones that effectively stop large droplets that could spread and infect someone. Furthermore, masks that don't fit properly require the wearer to frequently touch their face and masks to readjust, and "touching your face can cause you to become infected and it also increases the spread of germs when you touch other objects after touching your mask," Poston explains. And for more on the limitations of masks, If You're Not Doing This, Your Mask Won't Protect You, Study Says.

1. Masks that do not fit properly

The CDC says your mask needs to fit properly, which means it should fit “snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face.”Leann Poston, MD, a licensed physician and health advisor for Invigor Medical, says this is because properly fitting masks are the only ones that effectively stop large droplets that could spread and infect someone. Furthermore, masks that don’t fit properly require the wearer to frequently touch their face and masks to readjust, and “touching your face can cause you to become infected and it also increases the spread of germs when you touch other objects after touching your mask,” Poston explains.

Slide 3 of 7: Plastic and leather are two materials the CDC wants mask wearers to steer away from because they are hard to breathe through."If a mask is hard to breathe through, you will breathe around it which defeats the purpose of a mask. When you cough or sneeze, the droplets will travel around the mask or drip down from the bottom surface of the mask," Poston says. And if your plastic or leather mask is too tight to breathe around, then it will not filter your breath, but instead block airflow, which may harm your breathing. And for coronavirus symptoms to be aware of, learn The Earliest Signs You Have COVID, According to Johns Hopkins.

2. Masks made from materials that are hard to breathe through

Plastic and leather are two materials the CDC wants mask wearers to steer away from because they are hard to breathe through.

“If a mask is hard to breathe through, you will breathe around it which defeats the purpose of a mask. When you cough or sneeze, the droplets will travel around the mask or drip down from the bottom surface of the mask,” Poston says. And if your plastic or leather mask is too tight to breathe around, then it will not filter your breath, but instead block airflow, which may harm your breathing.

Slide 4 of 7: If your mask lets light pass through when held up to a light source, then the CDC says it shouldn't be used. Just like masks that do not fit, masks with loosely woven or knit material will allow respiratory droplets to pass through and infect the wearer, says Daniel Burnett, MD, chief executive officer for JustAir, a face mask and clear air systems company.Even worse, Burnett says, loose mesh can "break the respiratory droplets into smaller droplets that can stay airborne for a longer period of time," which may provide a longer exposure period. And for coronavirus signs you shouldn't ignore, This Is One of the Most "Easily Overlooked" COVID Symptoms, Experts Warn.

3. Masks made from loosely woven fabric or that are knit

If your mask lets light pass through when held up to a light source, then the CDC says it shouldn’t be used. Just like masks that do not fit, masks with loosely woven or knit material will allow respiratory droplets to pass through and infect the wearer, says Daniel Burnett, MD, chief executive officer for JustAir, a face mask and clear air systems company.

Even worse, Burnett says, loose mesh can “break the respiratory droplets into smaller droplets that can stay airborne for a longer period of time,” which may provide a longer exposure period. 

Slide 5 of 7: The CDC says your mask should have at least two or three layers. Abisola Olulade, MD, a family medicine physician with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group in California, says this is because they are more likely to filter out particles than masks with only one layer. Olulade says your mask should ideally have three layers: an innermost layer made of water-absorbing material, a middle filter layer, and then an outer layer that is made of water-resistant material. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

4. Masks with one layer

The CDC says your mask should have at least two or three layers. Abisola Olulade, MD, a family medicine physician with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group in California, says this is because they are more likely to filter out particles than masks with only one layer. Olulade says your mask should ideally have three layers: an innermost layer made of water-absorbing material, a middle filter layer, and then an outer layer that is made of water-resistant material. 

Slide 6 of 7: The CDC does not recommend masks with valves or vents because, while they may make it easier to breathe, they don't help stop the spread of COVID. Roopa Kalyanaraman Marcello, MPH, an infectious disease expert based in New York City, says these masks allow respiratory droplets to escape from the wearer, which can infect other people. In fact, some cities, counties, and most major U.S. airlines have banned these face masks. And for precautions you no longer need to take, discover The One Thing You Can Stop Doing to Avoid COVID, According to Doctors.

5. Masks with exhalation valves or vents

The CDC does not recommend masks with valves or vents because, while they may make it easier to breathe, they don’t help stop the spread of COVID. Roopa Kalyanaraman Marcello, MPH, an infectious disease expert based in New York City, says these masks allow respiratory droplets to escape from the wearer, which can infect other people. In fact, some cities, counties, and most major U.S. airlines have banned these face masks. 

Slide 7 of 7: "Scarves and other headwear such as ski masks and balaclavas used for warmth are usually made of loosely knit fabrics that are not suitable for use as masks to prevent COVID-19 transmission," says the CDC. According to Poston, these have the same drawbacks as an improperly fitting mask in that they don't really filter droplets and they most likely need frequent readjustment. However, you can wear these items over your mask—you just need to be wearing some type of protective mask also. And for more essential mask guidance, The FDA Issued a Warning Against This Kind of Face Mask.

6. Masks that are actually a scarf or ski mask

“Scarves and other headwear such as ski masks and balaclavas used for warmth are usually made of loosely knit fabrics that are not suitable for use as masks to prevent COVID-19 transmission,” says the CDC. According to Poston, these have the same drawbacks as an improperly fitting mask in that they don’t really filter droplets and they most likely need frequent readjustment. However, you can wear these items over your mask—you just need to be wearing some type of protective mask also.

Photo credit: BestLife

Source: The CDC Warns Against Using These 6 Face Masks (msn.com)

Committing to a Low-Carb Diet Helped Me Lose Almost 100 Pounds

Growing up, I was always a little heavier than most. Over time I went from being a little heavier to a lot heavier. It definitely crept up slowly. Nobody wakes up one day astonished to find they turned obese over night. It’s a pound-by-pound change.

I did a lot of mindless eating, just not paying attention. I could eat a whole bag of chips before I even knew what happened. Eventually you get to the end of the bad and you say to yourself “damn.”

I had a lot of back and knee pain at the time, but mostly I felt helpless. I just felt like, no matter what I did, I was always going to be fat. At my heaviest, around my 27th birthday, I weighed 278 pounds.

Being diagnosed with sleep apnea was a big moment. Being told you’re so fat that sleeping, literally on its own, could kill you is a real shock. Living in the Tampa Bay area, I’m close to a lot of great beaches, but I never wanted to go out of fear of taking my shirt off in public. As I approached 30 years old I was tired of feeling that way.

a man standing in front of a store: alex cobb before and after his weight loss transformation
© Alex Cobb alex cobb before and after his weight loss transformation

For me, carb reduction was what worked. I began on the paleo diet; in the years I’ve been on a low-carb diet, I’ve worked out maybe 15 times. I think cardio and weight training is beneficial, but weight loss happens in the kitchen. I cut out all of the bread, chips, cookies, sodas, and beer and replaced them with steaks, green vegetables, and water.

“Working out” is still something I need to get in a better habit of. I know that working out has lots of benefits that I can’t get anywhere else, but I’ve never really been that motivated to stay consistent with it. My weight loss has been accomplished almost solely through changing what I eat.

I’ve been on a low-carb diet going on four years. In that time I’ve lost 95 total pounds. Along the way I’ve gained a few back here and there, but that’s the way it goes. Weight loss does not always happen in a straight line. The feeling, then compared to now, is night and day. I have more energy, I sleep better, I have more self confidence, I enjoy things (like the beach) that I never did before. There’s also a strong feeling of accomplishment that comes from setting a series of goals and meeting them.

I’ve had a tremendous amount of support from friends and family. When someone who has only ever known you as fat tells you they’re proud of you, that’s a big moment. Since setting out on losing weight I’ve started a new career, moved a few times, and married my soulmate. These latter developments were not a result of losing weight, specifically, but a result of the same thinking that pushed me down the path of losing weight. I wanted to improve my life, across the board, weight loss was a piece of that puzzle.

It might sound cliche, but it’s so true: It’s never too late to start and you don’t have to be perfect. That’s true with anything, most of all with losing weight. Just get started. Figure out the rest along the way. —As told to Jesse Hicks

Written by Alex Cobb for MensHealth©

Source: Committing to a Low-Carb Diet Helped Me Lose Almost 100 Pounds (msn.com)

How quickly does the COVID vaccine give you immunity?

© Provided by RADIO.COM

At the beginning of the vaccine rollout phase, nursing home residents and health care workers were the first to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. Since the first phase, some essential workers, like teachers and grocery store employees, and adults over 65 have also become eligible in certain locations.

As more Americans across the nation become eligible, there are still questions about how quickly the vaccine works.

Laurel Bristow, an infectious disease clinical researcher, told People vital information people should know before receiving their vaccine.

How does each vaccine work?

Bristow says that the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are able to teach the body’s cells how to make a spike protein that will create an immune response to fight off COVID-19. Both vaccines require two doses.

Pfizer: Second dose is given three weeks after the first.

Moderna: Second dose is given four weeks after the first.

“Your first dose trains your immune system to respond to the spike protein,” Bristow said. “And then the second dose is the booster to make sure that it can mount a really strong immune response, if the virus is introduced to the body.”

How much protection does each dose provide?

After one dose of either Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine, a person has around 50% immunity to the virus. However, the second dose brings it up to about 95%.

Is each dose immediately effective?

Not so fast. Bristow says the body needs to process the vaccine in order to build up the body’s immune response.

How long does it take for the COVID-19 vaccine to give you immunity?

“Your immune system starts to kick in, but to really get to the peak efficacy that we all know as 95 percent, it’s going to take two weeks after your second dose,” Bristow added.

Bristow elaborated that people who receive the Pfizer vaccine can expect to reach 95% immunity 5 weeks after their first injection, while those who receive Moderna will get to 95% immunity six weeks after their initial dose.

Can you still get COVID-19 after a first or second dose of the vaccine?

The answer is yes because the protection doesn’t happen right away.

“It’s going to take two doses in time to get to the 95 percent efficacy,” Bristow said. “And especially after the first dose, it’s not going to happen immediately that you are then protected from symptomatic COVID.”

Source: How quickly does the COVID vaccine give you immunity? (msn.com)

The 25 Scariest Books of All Time

Do yourself a favor: Don’t read these scary books right before bed.

By Daryl Chen and Emma Taubenfeld for Reader’s Digest

So here’s the thing. It’s not my thing. That being said, or written, I know many of you just love the heck out of this genre. So knock yourselves out. What a minute, that’s inappropriate. That should happen while you read, I mean to the hero/heroine. That’s the least of what’s gonna happen, right?

I’m not going to give you any kind of description of what you’re in for, should you decide to chance fate and read one of these books. I’m having none of it. I’m just leaving a clue (a link) so you can decide to give it a shot (Sorry, inappropriate again) or not. The link is as far as I go with this craziness, the closest I will get to the blood, guts and gore. (sorry).

I won’t sleep well tonight knowing some of you will be foolish enough to risk permanent scared-out-of-my-wits syndrome. As for me, it’s reruns of Happy Days.

Be careful my friends, very, very careful !

Your Link: The Scariest Books of All Time | Reader’s Digest (rd.com)

How To Make A Living Succulent Topiary

By Westwood Gardens

Feast your eyes on this perfect little wonder we made this week:

Looks a little intimidating, right?

Here’s the good news…it’s pretty simple to make. And we’re going to show you how! All it takes is a little patience and time. The best news is, this is a living succulent topiary, meaning these babies will take root and go on indefinitely. That’s why we’re using succulents for this project, since they root so easily.

Step 1: Select your moss ball topiary and submerge in water

Select your preferred moss ball and submerge in water (remember we’re planting things in this).

We have several options at our stores. Pictured here is a 6″ moss ball topiary that is staked and can be planted (this is what we used for the project). But we also have a 6″ hanging topiary that you can…you guessed it…hang.

Step 2: Gather your succulent cuttings

Time to snip, snip, snip those succulent cuttings. No succulents plants to cut from at home? No problem. We’ve got a huge selection of miniature succulents that will work perfectly.

Step 3: Make holes in your moss ball

Using a pen or other object, begin making holes in your moss ball.

Step 4: Dip each succulent cutting in rooting hormone and place in the holes you’ve made

Getting closer…

Step 5: Add some pea gravel/rocks to help stabilize the topiary

Ta-da! Now pose by your masterpiece and wait for the compliments.

Care instructions: Keep the topiary ball moist by spritzing with fertilized water until succulents are rooted. After that, it can be drenched/submerged in water when dry. Water the planter portion when dry. Place in part sun to full sun.

Caution: You may be hooked on succulent projects after this, and that’s okay. We’ve got some more succulent inspo for you here.

Source: How To Make A Living Succulent Topiary – westwood gardens blog

Hair Thinning? It Could Be Because of Your Shower Routine

By Jennifer Aldrich for BHG©

a person wearing a hat: eternalcreative/Getty Images
© Provided by Better Homes and Gardens eternalcreative/Getty Images

I’ve always had fine, fragile hair that breaks off easily, so I’m very careful with my tresses. I don’t use heat unnecessarily, and when I do use hot tools, I make sure to spray on a protectant like the OUAI Heat Protection Spray ($28, Sephora). But despite my best efforts, I noticed some breakage around the front layers of my hair. I talked to my stylist, Maria Wheeler, who owns her own salon in central Iowa, and after going over my routine, she said it’s most likely because of how I’m wrapping my hair in a towel after I shower. I was shocked; I had just bought a fancy Aquis Hair Turban ($30, Sephora) to protect my strands. Well, apparently, I was doing more harm than good, and if you’ve noticed any thinning or breakage, you might be making the same mistake.

Why Is My Hair Thinning?

My biggest problem wasn’t necessarily my towel, but how I was putting my hair up. “Anytime you twist, pull or wrap your hair too tightly you can potentially cause damage or breakage, especially if your hair is prone to it,” explains celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh, who’s worked with Ellen Pompeo, Kate Hudson, Priyanka Chopra, and Gisele Bündchen, among others.

A lack of elasticity can also cause breakage from a hair towel, says Joseph Maine, artistic director of Color Wow. “To test your elasticity, you can stretch a strand while it’s wet,” Maine says. “It should bounce back. If it feels limp, mushy, breaks, or stretches more than usual, then it’s likely it needs protein.” He recommends adding a little bit of the Color WowDream Cocktail ($25, Dermstore) through wet hair and then blow-drying your strands. “After a single-use, it can reduce breakage by 50%,” he says.

How to Prevent Your Hair From Breaking

There are a few things you can do if you notice breakage. First, you can gently twist your hair up, being careful not to twist or pull too tightly, Josh says. “If your hair is super fragile and prone to breakage, don’t put it in a turban at all,” he adds. “Just gently towel dry.”

Plus, you shouldn’t leave your hair up too long anyway. “Wrapping your hair will trap moisture, and your hair will never fully dry,” Maine notes. Instead, gently scrunch your hair with a towel, or a turban, like the Aquis Hair Turban  I use. Then, let your hair air-dry for about 15 minutes, and carefully towel dry again with a new towel, Maine says. Finish by blowing out your hair.

With just a few simple switches with your routine, you can get healthier hair and minimize breakage. For the past couple of months, I’ve just scrunched my strands and let them air dry before using my hairdryer, and I haven’t had any more thinning issues. This easy technique has really helped my hair.

Source: Notice Your Hair Thinning? It Could Be Because of Your Shower Routine (msn.com)

Gardening Trend You’ll Want to Dig into in 2021

snipping stems in vegetable garden with scissors
Credit: Cameron Sadeghpour

We came, we saw, we gardened in 2020. In fact, more than 20 million novice growers took up their trowels and pitchforks in response to the pandemic, according to Bonnie Plants CEO Mike Sutterer. We as a nation went from 42 million gardeners to 63 million in the past year, with the majority being males under 35, a fairly unique demographic. And there’s good news: Sutterer believes these newbies will be back in 2021. 

And what will everyone be growing? For 2021, it’s clear that the bliss of being in nature, in general, will be bigger than ever, with people increasingly turning to their yards for exercise, stress-relief, and a creative outlet. Both seasoned and new gardeners are keen to surround themselves with beautiful plants, and they are looking for more unusual, adventurous species like tropicals. But they also want to keep up the “victory gardens” they started because of the pandemic, especially to help their neighbors.

Bigger and Better Food Gardens

One top reason millions of newbies hit the gardening scene in 2020 was to grow their own food. According to a recent Garden Media Trend report, edible gardening influencers such as Timothy Hammond of Big City Gardener saw as much as 400% growth on their platforms, due to an influx of followers and engagements with first-time gardeners looking for guidance. The report also notes that 67% of surveyed adults are “growing or plan to grow” edibles into 2021.

As the pandemic drags on, Sutterer thinks that this boom in homegrown produce is “not just about growing food for you and your family, and the benefits that it brings to you personally.” He believes it’s also about taking “a few extra zucchini, a few extra tomatoes, a few extra cucumbers, to my local food pantry to help those in my community as well.”

Article By Mackenzie Nichols for BHG©

Source: 4 Gardening Trends You’ll Want to Dig into in 2021 | Better Homes & Gardens (bhg.com)