Greatist RSS http://greatist.com/ Greatist covers all things healthy, providing the most trusted and fun fitness, health, and happiness content on the web — from healthy recipes to workout tips. Here's to healthy en Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:25:55 -0500 Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:25:55 -0500 Greatist RSS http://greatist.com/sites/default/files/greatist_Logo_145x40px_0.png http://greatist.com/ Why I Quit My Women's Gym (and Won't Ever Go Back) http://greatist.com/live/why-i-quit-my-womens-gym-and-wont-ever-go-back?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Why I Quit My Women's Gym (and Won't Ever Go Back) Why I Quit My Women's Gym (and Won't Ever Go Back) Mon, 20 Feb 2017 06:58:00 -0500 Jill Gallagher 11557 at http://greatist.com/ “It’s not about the numbers,” the trainer said as she placed a printout full of numbers and complicated charts in front of me. It was my second encounter with the InBody machine, a souped-up scale that measures not just your weight, but also your BMI and the exact percentages of fat and lean muscle in every region of your body.

“The good news is that your lean muscle mass percentage is up!” she continued as I studied the charts. “Yeah, but so are all the other numbers,” I replied, too tired to keep the discouragement from my voice. I’d been unhappy at my gym for a while. I told myself it was all in my head, though, because surely going to the gym was good for me. But here was evidence that it wasn’t working after all—the numbers didn’t lie. I’d been working out regularly for 18 months with no discernible results—in fact, I felt worse about myself than when I’d started.

When I joined Healthworks, a chain of women’s gyms in Boston, I’d just relocated after a painful divorce, and my body was becoming something I didn’t recognize. My weight crept up pound by pound, as though my metabolism had packed its bags around the same time my husband had packed his.

While considering which gym to join, it was the perks of Healthworks—the spa-like locker rooms, the two floors of cardio machines and weights, the on-site massage therapist, the full schedule of group fitness classes—that I found more appealing than the absence of men. In fact, if I’m being totally honest, a little male attention wouldn’t have been entirely unwelcome at that juncture in my life. But in addition to those perks, I was also drawn to the idea of a community of women, a female fitness utopia. What I didn’t anticipate was that this community of women would cause me to scrutinize myself with hyper-judgmental eyes, comparing my body to each and every woman in the locker room, or on the bike or mat beside mine.

During my first meeting with the InBody machine at a complimentary session after I’d joined the gym, the trainer had drawn a convex curve on the back of the printout, showing me how the numbers were reflected in my body. “What you eventually want is a concave curve,” she said, drawing another shape. She showed me a few simple exercises, encouraged me to check out the group fitness classes, and sent me on my way. The journey from convex to concave curve seemed steep indeed.

The juxtaposition of the gym’s message of female empowerment and the display of traditional beauty standards was striking, and for me, confusing.

For the next 18 months, I dutifully showed up to the gym, either in the mornings before work or in the evenings after work. I soon found that even though I felt virtuous commuting to the gym in the early morning darkness, that feeling faded as soon as I lined up my mat for barre class or climbed on a bike in the cycling studio. Though there were certainly women of all shapes and sizes, my mind would inevitably focus on everyone who was younger, prettier, and in better shape than I was. I felt like my squats were never deep enough, my weights weren’t heavy enough, my RPMs on the stationary bike weren’t fast enough.

But being the slowest and least coordinated was nothing new to me—as a child, my lack of hand-eye coordination was so bad that I was sent to what they called “special” gym, an additional gym class where the rest of the functionally “slow” kids and I would throw Nerf balls at targets and skip around orange cones to practice our motor skills. My most vivid memory of these classes was getting hit in the face with a basketball. As a result, I developed an aversion to physical activity that lasted until college, when I learned that exercising on my own terms was a lot more fun than institutionalized physical education.

For me, the real challenge was the locker room—a gauntlet of double standards. The locker room featured a sauna, Jacuzzi, and steam room, along with banks of mirrors, hair dryers, cotton balls, tissues, body lotion, and a clothing steamer. Every shower was equipped with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shower caps, disposable razors, and clean towels. It was nice, but the message was clear—women should go to the gym to get lean and toned, but only if they can still look pretty afterward.

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I’d never felt less schooled in the ways of womanhood than I did in the Healthworks locker room, getting ready for work alongside dozens of other women. Each morning was like a scene from the backstage of a beauty pageant (or at least what they look like in the movies), as we jockeyed for space in front of a mirror to apply makeup and style our hair.

The juxtaposition of the gym’s message of female empowerment and the display of traditional beauty standards was striking, and for me, confusing. There was something disingenuous about lifting weights, doing push-ups and squats, cycling so hard that sweat poured into my eyes, and then stripping off the spandex, rinsing clean, beating my hair into shape, and smearing on layers of makeup to make sure any trace of sweat or effort was eradicated from my face.

I didn’t feel strong enough, fast enough, or skinny enough...

It wasn’t long before I began to dread the gym and its familiar feelings of inadequacy. I didn’t feel strong enough, fast enough, or skinny enough, and on top of that, my hair was all wrong, and I couldn’t afford the high-end makeup and clothing the other women wore (thanks in part to my expensive gym membership). I began to go less and less, which led to the disappointing lack of results at my second InBody session and a downward spiral of guilt.

A week after that appointment, I walked into the gym and declared my intention to quit. After a few half-hearted attempts at getting me to stay (more training sessions, a discounted massage), they had me sign a piece of paper, and it was over—well, technically, my membership was still active for another two months because of gym regulations, but I never went back after that day. I walked out of the gym feeling stronger than I’d felt in months.

Now I roll out my yoga mat most mornings when I wake up and do either a free online yoga video or a barre workout from a website for which I pay a small monthly membership (less than 1/3 of what I was paying for my gym membership). In the corner of my bedroom, I have my own mini-gym—three sets of hand weights, a resistance band, a core ball, and two yoga mats. When the Boston weather cooperates, I go for a run around the pond near my apartment or a long walk through the Arboretum.

While I no longer have a sense of the exact percentages of fat and lean muscle mass in my right arm, I do know that I’m rediscovering the simple joy of moving my body on my own terms, of exercising not because I’m paying a monthly membership or feel an obligation, but because I want to. And I’m no longer competing with all of the other women in the locker room. The only standard I’m reaching for these days is getting better than I was the day before.

Jill Gallagher is an editor and writer in Boston. Her work has appeared in Buzzfeed, Volume 1 Brooklyn, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Ploughshares blog.

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This Indoor Cycling Class Doubles As a Tour of Paris http://greatist.com/live/paris-navigating-gym-is-an-indoor-cycling-class-on-the-seine?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist This Indoor Cycling Class Doubles As a Tour of Paris This Indoor Cycling Class Doubles As a Tour of Paris Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:57:00 -0500 Jeff Cattel 11515 at http://greatist.com/

The funny thing about indoor cycling is you pedal for an hour, but you don’t actually go anywhere. OK, if you go to SoulCycle, you might be spiritually transported, but you’re still in the same room.

What if your indoor cycling class could take you somewhere? Hop aboard the Paris Navigating Gym. The 45-seat boat travels down the Seine powered by all that pedaling, so it’s super green too. Carlo Ratti Associati, the firm that designed the floating gym, says it could be ready for riders in 18 months. Now you have another excuse to visit Paris.

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The 6 Biggest Surprises That Came With Losing 280 Pounds http://greatist.com/live/biggest-surprises-from-losing-280-pounds?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist The 6 Biggest Surprises That Came With Losing 280 Pounds The 6 Biggest Surprises That Came With Losing 280 Pounds Fri, 17 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500 Vinson Smith 11352 at http://greatist.com/
The author, before and after.

To say that losing weight is difficult is a huge understatement… especially in a country where Dollar Menu items are much easier and cheaper to acquire than anything that’s remotely healthy. Even after losing more than 280 pounds over 10 years, I’m still battling with obesity issues. While it’s been hard losing the weight and keeping it off, I’ve learned where my overeating stems from, have overcome many of the issues that brought me into this, and have finally gained control of my own body. But the journey has been a long one, and there have been many surprises along the way.

1. You have to learn to think incrementally.

Even if you are hundreds of pounds over your goal, every ten pounds lost matters. I like to think about my weight-loss journey like a tightrope walker trying to cross a gap. I want to maintain the balance of a fitness lifestyle while being wary of falling into the abyss of my obesity issues. Having faith in myself is the wind blowing (or staying blessedly still) in the middle of my high wire act.

2. The rewards trickle in daily… and they’re not always what you expect.

During my battle with obesity, I’ve discovered countless upsides to being in control of my disorder. I’d anticipated some of them—like being able to walk upstairs without shortness of breath and agonizing knee and back pain—but there were other sheer joys I hadn’t even thought to expect. For instance, when I no longer had to face the embarrassment of asking a first date to move to the table instead of the booth so my gut could fit… that was a pretty miraculous day.

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3. Emotionally charged backslides happen—and they hurt.

Even with all the rewards, this process is emotionally complicated and requires you to take a full life inventory. When I fell off my tightrope, some of the most painful parts of my life resurfaced—I realized that at the core of my food addiction was a desire for more time with my father, who had passed away when I was in high school. This realization drove my addiction to food into hyperspeed, and I began to overeat again—sometimes it felt like I was eating more than any other human had ever eaten before. But I regained control and felt proud of my first 100-pound weight loss, which marked the anniversary of my father’s death.

4. Your goals will change.

Even now, as I maintain a healthy weight on the other side of grief, I still battle with emotionally charged eating, but I now have the drive to make the rest of my life the best of my life. However, I still face the anxiety that comes with getting older and the challenges of weight management. By 2014, I had lost 220 pounds, but the last 60 pounds I lost came just as I turned 30 years old. When I realized my own mortality, I began working even harder.

5. You have to relearn to see yourself… over and over again.

I should view my excess skin as a medal of honor; it serves as a daily reminder of who I used to be and how far I’ve come. But seeing yourself this way can be difficult, especially in the fitness industry, where looks feel like they’re everything. Our current fitness culture, which is so dependent on social media, can feel like the opposite of love, acceptance, and appreciation for who you are. I’ve learned to cope by helping other people identify their disorder and start the process of becoming who they want to be.

6. The worst parts can become the best.

I remember the embarrassment I felt when I first walked past the gym veterans to the far back of the cardio deck. While it was originally a big source of anxiety, cardio—along with strength training—really helped me build self-esteem. I’m currently on the other side of that battle; now I’m the gym vet with a new view from the front of the cardio deck. Of course, I still struggle with my self-image, but I have peace of mind knowing I am learning to be happy with me.

Vinson Smith is the cofounder of HardBody Fitness Personal Training Group and player development coach at Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, NC. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @VinsonSmithCLT.

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A 25-Minute TRX Workout for When You Have No Idea What to Do at the Gym http://greatist.com/move/trx-workout-25-minute-total-body-routine?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist A 25-Minute TRX Workout for When You Have No Idea What to Do at the Gym A 25-Minute TRX Workout for When You Have No Idea What to Do at the Gym Fri, 17 Feb 2017 06:00:00 -0500 The Greatist Team 11516 at http://greatist.com/ In order to see results, you have to switch up your usual routine. This 25-minute workout utilizes a suspension trainer like TRX to transform the basic bodyweight moves you know and love to make them even more effective.

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Using a suspension trainer forces you to activate your stabilizing muscles (the muscles that help you balance) during every exercise, so you'll challenge your upper body, core, and lower body in ways you never knew possible. Have no idea WTH to do with those straps? Don't worry. Instructor Kelly Lee offers detailed directions to guide you through each move. So grab a TRX and press play to get started.

To recap: You'll need a suspension trainer like TRX for this workout.

Looking for more short and effective at-home workouts? Grokker has thousands of routines, so you’ll never get bored. Bonus: For a limited time, Greatist readers get 40 percent off Grokker Premium (just $9 per month) and their first 14 days free. Sign up now!

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The Weird Trick That Makes Coffee Way Less Bitter http://greatist.com/live/how-to-make-your-coffee-taste-less-bitter?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist The Weird Trick That Makes Coffee Way Less Bitter The Weird Trick That Makes Coffee Way Less Bitter Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:48:16 -0500 Caroline Olney 11517 at http://greatist.com/

There are lots of ways to make coffee taste less bitter—you can add sugar or milk. Or you can add an egg. Yes, an egg. It sounds weird, but science says it works. When you pour boiling water over an egg and coffee grounds, the protein in the egg binds to the part of the grounds that causes bitterness. Just be sure to strain the mixture—otherwise you'll be left with scrambled egg-like clumps in your cup of joe.

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Beer Yoga Combines Two of Our Favorite Things http://greatist.com/live/beer-yoga-class-combines-our-two-favorite-things?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Beer Yoga Combines Two of Our Favorite Things Beer Yoga Combines Two of Our Favorite Things Thu, 16 Feb 2017 13:34:56 -0500 Jeff Cattel 11503 at http://greatist.com/

At the end of a hard week, all we want to do is relax with a cold beer in hand. But we know we’d feel more zen if we took a yoga class—and our body would thank us too. Now you can have the best of both worlds with beer yoga. The class started in Germany (of course!) and has now spread to Australia. Attendees sip on ales before and after class, but beer also gets incorporated into the yoga moves. So that means you’ll be doing warrior II with a bottle in hand. Cheers to that!

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7 Danish Recipes That Prove Why Hygge Is Everything http://greatist.com/eat/danish-recipes-for-hygge-fans?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 7 Danish Recipes That Prove Why Hygge Is Everything 7 Danish Recipes That Prove Why Hygge Is Everything Thu, 16 Feb 2017 10:00:00 -0500 Rebecca Firkser 11387 at http://greatist.com/ We've always loved Scandinavian design (copper lighting! pops of bright blue! wooden accents!), but we've heard a lot about one Scandi concept in particular lately: hygge. Pronounced "hoo-ga," hygge roughly translates to anything that has to do with being cozy. If you're picturing images of large mugs of tea and half-nibbled cookies next to ski sock-clad feet wrapped around a (delightfully minimalist) blanket, you're right on point. Oh boy, can we get down with that. Even if you can't light a fire in your living room, these seven Danish recipes are the best way to start practicing hygge in your kitchen. Start a pot of tea and get cooking.

1. Smørrebrød (Open-Faced Sandwiches)

Ditch the boring chili-flaked avo toast for a smørrebrød. A whatttt? It's an open-faced sandwich on rye bread piled high with toppings. This staple in Danish cuisine often includes meat, poultry, or fish, but you can do it any way you like (curried egg salad, pickled onions and potatoes, or bell pepper spread to name a few).

2. Øllebrød (Danish Rye Bread Porridge)

This creamy porridge looks like chocolate, but it’s actually dark rye bread and beer porridge (*scream emoji*). Traditionally served with cream, øllebrød is just as good with a dollop of yogurt or nondairy milk.

3. Bircher Muesli

Once you learn how to pronounce it (think: “mew-zlee”), you’ll be making muesli every morning. The Swiss-created dish of raw oats, nuts, and dried fruit soaked in yogurt milk and tossed with fresh fruit is a typical Danish breakfast. After a big bite, you’ll know why.

4. Danish Split Pea Soup

This simple vegan soup is bright with fresh dill, yet super rich from the crispy onion topping. Once the soup is fully cooked, you can purée it for a creamier bowl or leave it as is if you like the texture.

5. Risalamande (Vanilla Rice Pudding With Cherries)

A bowl of this pudding is the coziest dessert imaginable. Chewy rice and vanilla custard get comfy in a baking dish, then the whole mess is topped with a tart cherry and black pepper sauce. Uh, don’t mind us as we eat straight out of the pan.

6. Strawberries and Koldskål (Danish Summer Cream)

Traditionally a cold custard of milk, cream, and sugar, this koldskål is made with thick sheep or goat yogurt, maple syrup, lemon, and vanilla. Serve with mega-sweet, almost-too-ripe strawberries and a few healthier kammerjunkere (crispy cardamom cookies).

7. Kogt Torsk (Poached Cod)

A simple spring salad of beets, radishes, pea shoots, and herbs make a dreamy bed for tender poached cod. Not only is this dish a vibrant ode to Nordic cuisine, the whole thing comes together in less than half an hour, so you have more time to eat and relax.

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I Spent My Honeymoon Playing a Video Game. What Is Wrong With Me? http://greatist.com/live/spent-my-honeymoon-playing-video-games?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist I Spent My Honeymoon Playing a Video Game. What Is Wrong With Me? I Spent My Honeymoon Playing a Video Game. What Is Wrong With Me? Thu, 16 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500 Sean Merrick 11370 at http://greatist.com/ In my defense, my honeymoon wasn’t terrible, and I’m not a horrible person. I am, however, a self-indulgent manboy who is at times prone to lengthy video game sessions in lieu of say, eating or sleeping. So when Nintendo and Niantic released Pokémon Go in the same month that my newly wedded wife Christine and I were set to take the honeymoon of our dreams, there was bound to be some tension over diverted attention. I wish I could blame Pikachu for single-handedly forcing my wife to the brink of divorce after one month of marriage, but I can’t. Charizard was at fault too. And also me. Largely me. That’s my gamer shame to bear. Here’s what happened.

For our honeymoon, the plan was to road trip through the entire northwest quarter of the United States. Start in Chicago, head west through a bucket list of national parks, hit the West Coast, and take our time heading down to Los Angeles, our new home. We wanted to bask in hot springs in Yellowstone and get weird at as many bars as possible in Portland.

A couple of people wearing Pokemon gear, clearly playing Pokemon.
Seriously, it was everywhere.

But then we got married and left for our trip in July of last year, which as you may recall, was also the month Pokémon Go was released. Do you even really remember Pokémon Go at this point? For a brief, heady moment, the GPS-driven augmented reality mobile game had most of humanity swearing at digital pigeon monsters. Pedestrians were run over; relationships were formed; and an empire of Poké-specific content was gathered, consumed, and excreted instantly. It was a fun phenomenon while it lasted, which was approximately one month before everyone was completely over it. I have one friend who still plays. He just reached level 27, and we are concerned about him.

But during the summer of '16, everyone was Go-ing; it was the thick of Pokémon fever. I began dabbling, working the game into my very adult life, playing when there was downtime on the train commute home, having it on during morning jogs. Within a week, I was playing during every car ride I took, taping my cell phone to a ceiling fan to hatch a 10K egg.

On my honeymoon, this translated into visiting tourist traps, booking Pokémon-friendly Airbnbs (our apartment in Minneapolis sat on two PokeStops!), and generally ignoring Christine for chunks of time. The trip brought to light some of my less-than-glowing gaming tendencies. Primarily the fact that I do not know when to stop playing a video game.

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On day 10 of our honeymoon road trip, we traveled through Devils Tower National Monument in South Dakota (the more interesting Dakota). Devils Tower is a beautiful butte—smaller than a mesa, nowhere near as large as a plateau—and on the loop around the tower, you can see its resplendent frozen magma facade emerging from the line of spruce trees below. You might even see some rock climbers.

If you were at the park on August 9, 2016, however, you’d see me with my face in my phone hunting digital monsters, looking up only every five minutes or so to pretend I’m acting like a functional adult. Christine would be talking to me, and I’d nonchalantly reach into my pocket for my phone upon every vibrating Poke-notice. I convinced myself that I was doing an OK job multitasking, but I was just really splitting my attention to such an extent that I wasn’t focused on anything.

A photo of Devils Tower
A picture my wife took of the butte I did not really look at.

A big part of the thrill of playing Pokémon Go was discovering new, rare Pokémon, and in a clearing outside a vista point, with the scope of the Black Hills Forest begging for my awestruck wonder, my focus was lasered in on a level 17 Ninetales. The majestic, fox-like creature broke free from every Ultra Ball I threw its way before fleeing the scene entirely, leaving me genuinely bereft.

This was the point when Christine rightfully took my phone away, which for a millennial is akin having at least one eye poked out. She communicated to me that choosing Pokémon Go over choosing true quality time with her on our honeymoon was really testing her loyalty and love. These were not the terms and conditions of the marriage she signed up for. I might not have been the guy playing on his phone while driving and crashing head-on into a cop car, but I wasn’t any less reckless in my dedication to the game.

I would love to say this blemish is an outlier in a lifetime of flourishing social interactions balanced with a healthy hobby of video gaming. It is not. Since I was a kid, subsisting on oatmeal cream pies and turn-based tactics role-playing games, there’s a system to the way I play video games: I lock in, zone out, and never know when to quit.

In today’s gaming environment, where most games auto-save your progress so as to keep gameplay fluid, having a lack of self-restraint becomes destructive. Nintendo’s upcoming system, the Switch, has a parental control app that lets parents set gaming time limits for each day of the week. Not only would that have been useful for me as a kid, it would also be useful for me now as an adult. Finding the appropriate work-life-game balance is a struggle.

From 2007-2009, I quit playing video games altogether; I made an active decision that they were a dead end, a waste of my time. I broke my digital abstinence in 2010 when I needed a cheap DVD player, so I got a PS3 for $100 off craigslist and essentially picked up from my last save point. I was back to being Solid Snake of Metal Gear, sneaking up on robotic ninjas and snapping their necks.

The end result of a marathon gaming session for me often includes the onset of gamer shame, which is a very specific form of guilt. I feel ashamed that I’ve dedicated my energy to manipulating pixels without anything to show for it in real life. The word "achievement" comes up in a lot of modern gaming, but I don’t feel like I have much to show for defeating countless waves of bosses and monsters.

For my 10,000 hours spent expertly gaming, what have I achieved? If I had poured the man-hours of gaming into carpentry, I’d have a set of cabinets. If I had spent that time making art, I’d at least have my apartment’s decor taken care of. But I’ve spent my time playing games... which means I have a set of thumbs with decent fast-twitch muscles and a mental vault of gaming trivia that holds the names and locations of all Espers in Final Fantasy 6. This feels like a false reward.

I would love to say this blemish is an outlier in a lifetime of flourishing social interactions balanced with a healthy hobby of video gaming. It is not.

Gaming serves as more of a distraction than a muse to me, and sure, there’s the occasional inner voice saying "scale it back," but then that voice is met with a flying blue koopa shell and explodes. I can readily admit that there are positive aspects to gaming, but things like camaraderie, stress reduction, and hand-eye coordination have diminishing returns when I obsessively play like a zombie. It’s something both Christine and I know I’m working on, but the honeymoon trip was tangible evidence that my lazy gamer persona is not tethered to the couch at home. Occasionally he finds reasons to zombie-walk outside for some fresh air.

I don’t know if I’ll ever find a healthy homeostasis with video games in my life. I wrestle with gaming as I enter a phase of life when I’m considering having kids, accelerating my career, buying a house (or at least not paying rent to a slumlord). I’m not sure that all them can be reconciled.

Wise philosopher Anthony Bourdain once said, "I understand there's a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed, smoke weed all day, and watch cartoons and old movies. My whole life is a series of stratagems to avoid, and outwit, that guy." I feel the same way, just with an inner slacker that will never not want to play Smash Brothers. And if I can learn to successfully stave off that guy, maybe I’ll eventually show enough self-restraint to ward off the other guy who’s obsessed with pro wrestling.

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9 Paleo-Approved Products That Make Us Happy We Aren't Actually Cavemen http://greatist.com/eat/paleo-approved-pantry-staples?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 9 Paleo-Approved Products That Make Us Happy We Aren't Actually Cavemen 9 Paleo-Approved Products That Make Us Happy We Aren't Actually Cavemen Thu, 16 Feb 2017 06:00:00 -0500 Jamie Webber 11501 at http://greatist.com/ Whether you’re full-fledged Paleo or just starting to eat eggs and avocado without the toast, you know that your kitchen needs to be stocked with Paleo-approved staples. Packing your pantry with the right foods will prove that giving up grains, dairy, heavily processed foods, and tons of sugar isn't *so* hard after all. From clarified butter to sugar-free hot sauces to natural almond butters, these Paleo products will replace the junk in your pantry for good (or at least for right now while you're on this Paleo kick). If only the cavemen could see you now… they’d be so jealous.

Ghee
1. Cooking Fat: Ghee

If you’re not familiar with this melt-in-your mouth butter substitute, it’s time you got acquainted. Ghee is clarified butter. Translation: The milk solids are filtered out from regular butter so all that’s left is pure butter fat… making it Paleo approved. Use it to saute your chicken sausage, top a baked sweet potato, or smear all over a grass-fed steak.

Brands to buy:

Fourth and Heart Ghee, Pure Indian Foods Ghee, Trader Joe’s Ghee

Coconut Oil
2. Cooking Oil: Coconut Oil

We’re not saying you have to put away the olive oil for good, but if you’re not cooking with coconut oil, are you really even Paleo? This kitchen all-star withstands some seriously high heat, making it a better go-to for frying than olive oil.

Brands to buy:

Nutiva Coconut Oil, Carrington Farms Coconut Oil

Coconut Aminos
3. Soy Sauce Alternative: Coconut Aminos

Soy is on the no-list, but that doesn’t mean you’re left with nothing to flavor your sashimi. Coconut aminos is completely soy free but its main ingredient, aging coconut sap, has a similar flavor to soy sauce. Use it in stir-fries, salad dressings, marinades, and fish-based dishes.

Brands to buy:

Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos, Thrive Market Coconut Aminos

Hot Sauce
4. Spice: Hot Sauce

If hot sauce is your BFF, you’ll be thrilled to know this kitchen necessity is Paleo approved. In our opinion, hot sauce is the answer when any meal needs an upgrade. Try to avoid hot sauces with added sugars, because they can sneak in there when you least expect it.

Brands to buy:

Tessemae's Buffalo Sauce, Horsetooth Hot Sauce, Frank's Red Hot Original, Cholula

Avocado Mayo
5. Condiment: Avocado Mayo

What’s life without mayonnaise? Sad. Paleo peeps don’t need to suffer thanks to avocado-based mayos. Boil a chicken breast (or drain a can of tuna), shred it, and mix it with diced-up apples, celery, and avocado mayonnaise. Then all is right in the Paleo world.

Brands to buy:

Chosen Foods Avocado Mayo, Primal Kitchen Avocado Mayo

Maple Syrup
6. Something Sweet: Maple Syrup or Honey

This is us praising Paleo for allowing us to eat healthier desserts (giving up sweets was the hardest part of Whole30!). While strict Paleo-ers might turn their noses up at this, those of us who take a more lax approach are definitely eating Paleo pancakes, scones, and dessert balls. And you can’t enjoy them without a touch of maple syrup or honey.

Brands to buy:

Coombs Organic Maple Syrup, Gunter’s Pure Honey, Nature Nate’s Pure Honey

7. Baking Flour: Almond Flour

Speaking of desserts, almond flour (or almond meal) is one of the best flours to use instead of all-purpose when you’re making a Paleo-approved treat. We can’t forget what it can do for savory foods either. Anyone up for some almond-crusted chicken tenders?

Brands to buy:

Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour, Wellbee’s Almond Flour

8. Milk Substitute: Almond Milk

Whether you’re adding a splash to your coffee, whipping up a smoothie, or craving a cold glass to go with your (Paleo) cookies, unsweetened almond milk is a Paleo dream. Pro tip: Buy a few gallons at once because you’ll be shocked at how quickly you chug.

Brands to buy:

Silk Unsweetened Almond Milk, SO Delicious Almond Milk

Almond Butter
9. Nut Butter: Almond Butter

Peanut butter is out; almond butter is in. Peanuts are legumes, which are off-limits in cavemen diets, but thank the sweet nut heavens we can still have almond butter. Ideal for spooning into your mouth, smothering on top of a banana, or mixing into your breakfast smoothie, almond butter is the reason Paleo is doable. Avoid the brands with added sugars and oils. They’re not only completely unnecessary but a no for Paleo.

Brands to buy:

Thrive Almond Butter, Justin’s Almond Butter

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This Machine Is a Mashup of a Rock Climbing Wall and a Treadmill http://greatist.com/live/treadwall-combines-rock-climbing-and-treadmill?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist This Machine Is a Mashup of a Rock Climbing Wall and a Treadmill This Machine Is a Mashup of a Rock Climbing Wall and a Treadmill Wed, 15 Feb 2017 13:02:44 -0500 Jeff Cattel 11489 at http://greatist.com/

The fact that the Treadwall exists means someone probably thought, “Hey, rocking climbing is hard, but what if I did it on a conveyor belt instead of a wall?” The Treadwall turns bouldering into a cardio workout that uses nearly every muscle in your body. We’re sore just watching people use the machine. But if the video makes you want to try it for yourself, your best bet is finding a climbing gym that already has one, because buying a Treadwall will set you back at least $9,000.

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19 Foods Perfect for Meal-Prepping Because They Actually Last All Week http://greatist.com/eat/best-foods-for-meal-prep-because-they-last?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 19 Foods Perfect for Meal-Prepping Because They Actually Last All Week 19 Foods Perfect for Meal-Prepping Because They Actually Last All Week Wed, 15 Feb 2017 07:30:00 -0500 Anisha Jhaveri 11462 at http://greatist.com/ We’ve been there: skipping off to the grocery store, armed with five-day menus and visions of becoming meal-prep pros—only to see that most of the fresh food we’ve bought can’t last the week without becoming susceptible to wilt, mold, and sketchy odors.

Depending on how you go about it, meal planning can be the bane of your existence or your weekly lifesaver. And while it does require a bit of thinking in advance, we’re all about helping you make it the latter with easy ideas to save both time and money. The first step is to choose food items that can keep for more than just a couple of days once prepped.

Get started with this handy guide of 19 foods, from grains to produce to proteins, that will last at least four days once prepped, including bonus tips to keep them in the best condition possible throughout the week. (Want more recipes and tips? Check out our super-simple meal-prep guide.)

Grains

Photo: iStock

1. Brown Rice

Meal-Prep Method: Rinse one cup of short-grain brown rice in cold water. Add the rice to one and a half cups of boiling water and cook for about 30 minutes, covered. Let it sit for another 10 minutes before opening and fluffing with a fork. Cool, then store in shallow, airtight containers. You should get about five half-cup servings.

Bonus Tip: Cooked brown rice will keep for about five days in the fridge. To make it taste fresher, reheat only the portion you need for a given meal during the week. For speedy reheating, place the rice in a microwave-safe dish, sprinkle some water over the top, and cover the dish with a wet paper towel. Nuke on high heat until the rice is back to its steamy, springy self.

2. Quinoa

Meal-Prep Method: Rinse one cup of quinoa, then place it in a pot with two cups of water and a pinch of salt. Boil, then cover and reduce the heat, simmering for about 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Let it sit for five minutes before fluffing with a fork. Cool, then store in airtight containers. You should get about six half-cup servings.

Bonus Tip: Make quinoa last longer and taste even better by reheating it on the stovetop; add about two tablespoons of water for every cup of quinoa, plus a teaspoon of olive oil, and heat it in a pot for 10 minutes until it’s warmed through and fluffy.

3. Oatmeal

Meal-Prep Method: Have breakfast half-ready all week long by simmering one and a half cups of steel-cut oats in four cups of water and a pinch of salt for three minutes before turning off the heat. Once the mixture comes to room temperature, place the oatmeal in an airtight container. You should get about five servings.

Bonus Tip: Save even more time in the morning by packing the oatmeal into five individual containers and adding your favorite mix-ins. Before heading out the door, add a splash of water or milk to one jar, and reheat in the microwave—or just eat cold for the easiest overnight oats ever!

4. Pasta

Meal-Prep Method: Boil 10 ounces of pasta according to package directions, but take it off the stove when it’s just shy of al dente; you’ll want it slightly undercooked so that it’s not mushy when you reheat it during the week. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Toss the pasta in a splash of olive oil and place it into a tightly sealed container. You should have about five one-cup servings.

Bonus Tip: Make your pasta last longer by storing it separately from sauces and add-ins. For a fast reheating option, bring a pot of water to a boil. Put your pasta in a metal strainer and dip it into the boiling water for about thirty seconds, or until it’s warmed through but not soggy.

5. Bulgur

Meal-Prep Method: Cook two cups of bulgur (no need for rinsing) by adding it to four cups of cold water or broth, bringing the mixture to a boil, then simmering for 15 minutes. Let it stand, covered, for at least five minutes, and drain any remaining water before fluffing. Place it into airtight containers. You should have about six one-cup servings to use in grain bowls, pilafs, salads, or even as an oatmeal substitute for breakfast.

Bonus Tip: Properly stored bulgur will last for three to five days if refrigerated within two hours of cooking. Since it tastes good cold or hot and tends to soak up any liquid it’s in, use it for warm meals at the beginning of the week, and toss it into colder dishes once it’s a bit drier during the latter half of the week.

Fruits

Photo: iStock

6. Apples

Meal-Prep Method: Apples are one of the lowest-maintenance fruits out there. Leave them whole and refrigerated in the crisper drawer to keep them fresh for up to four weeks. If you must slice or chop them, place the pieces in a glass container filled with cold water to prevent oxidization and browning.

Bonus Tip: Place a damp paper towel over whole apples in the fridge—the moisture helps them stay fresh longer. Alternatively, put them in sealed plastic bags and keep them separate from other produce to prevent ethylene gas from releasing and causing spoilage.

7. Grapes

Meal-Prep Method: Grapes can last up to two to three weeks when stored properly. Line an open container with a paper towel and place the grapes on top. The towel will help draw out any extra moisture from the fruit and keep out bacteria or mold growth. Keep the grapes in the coldest part of your fridge.

Bonus Tip: For longest-lasting results, don’t rinse the grapes until just before you’re ready to eat them. Even if you do happen to wash them beforehand, though, they can still keep for up to a week if refrigerated.

8. Bananas

Meal-Prep Method: Even ripe bananas can last all week with a few simple tricks. Take them out of any plastic bags as soon as possible and separate each banana from the bunch. Wrap each banana’s stem in a bit of plastic wrap, and place in the fridge. The wrap will prevent the ripening and browning agents from spreading to the rest of the banana too quickly, and the refrigeration will keep the fruit firm.

Bonus Tip: Make bananas last even longer by peeling and cutting them into one-inch chunks, then placing them on parchment paper and freezing. Once frozen, put them in freezer bags and keep for up to four months to throw into smoothies, baked goods, or one-ingredient "ice cream."

9. Berries

Meal-Prep Method: Surprised to see berries on this list? While the jewel-colored fruits are notorious for spoiling easily, there is an easy way to keep them fresh all week. Add one cup of vinegar to three cups of water in a large bowl, and soak the berries in the mixture for about five minutes. Drain the berries and pat them until they’re as dry as you can get them. Place them in an airtight container that’s been lined with paper towels and crack the lid open to keep letting moisture escape.

Bonus Tip: Keep in mind that despite this method, certain berries still hold up better than others. Opt for strawberries and blueberries over blackberries or raspberries, and try to keep them in a single layer rather than piling them on top of each other to prevent bruising.

Veggies

Photo: iStock

10. Carrots

Meal-Prep Method: Once home from the store, remove the green tops from your carrots, wash and peel them, and chop them any way you’d like. Wrap them in a damp paper towel and place in an airtight container. Every day you don’t use them, make sure to re-dampen the towel so that the veggies don’t dry up. Alternatively, put peeled and cut carrots in a container of cold water and refrigerate until you need them, swapping out the water whenever it starts looking murky.

Bonus Tip: Throw the carrots into boiling water for two minutes, then place them in ice water so they don’t overcook. They’ll retain their crunch and color, but they’ll last for up to two weeks as opposed to just five days.

11. Sweet Potatoes

Meal-Prep Method: On Sunday, scrub five or six sweet potatoes and oven-bake them whole, wrapped in foil, with their peels on. Once baked and cooled, put them in a plastic bag or a glass container and place in the fridge. You now have one ready to go for every day of the week, whether y ou cut, roast, mash, or simply reheat and eat whole.

Bonus Tip: Baked sweet potatoes will last up to 10 days in the fridge, but if you can’t use them all up within the week, they can easily be frozen for four to six months without sacrificing taste. Simply wrap them in plastic, place into Ziploc bags, and freeze. Next time you need your sweet potato fix, pop the frozen spud into the microwave for two to four minutes until it’s good and warm.

12. Cauliflower

Meal-Prep Method: On Sunday, remove the outer leaves on a large head of cauliflower and cut it into florets. Put the florets into a loosely sealed plastic bag for easy access during the week when you want to roast or stir-fry them. If you’re prepping the veggie as “rice,” pulverize the head of cauliflower with a food processor and store in individual, sealable baggies, so you grab the exact amount you need for each meal through the week.

Bonus Tip: Cauliflower loses freshness when exposed to moisture, so while cooking it is tempting, it’s better to leave the florets (or the rice) uncooked and as dry as possible to stretch their shelf life, and rinse just before use.

If you’re opting for cauliflower rice, the uncooked version lasts longer, so just pat the granules dry and refrigerate them in individually portioned, sealable plastic bags until you’re ready to sauté (or not—cauli-rice can be eaten raw too).

13. Beets

Meal-Prep Method: Start by removing the beet greens (which taste great sautéed!), as they tend to dry out the beets prematurely. If you’re enjoying the beets raw, peel the skin and use a spiralizer or a large grater to shred them. If you’re cooking the beets, don’t worry about peeling the skin; just scrub the outside thoroughly. Boil them whole for an hour or pack them tightly inside foil and roast in a preheated, 400-degree oven for an hour. When cooled, the skins should rub off easily. Cube the beets and store them by either wrapping them tightly in foil or placing in shallow airtight containers.

Bonus Tip: Not only do cooked beets last for five to seven days in the fridge, but cooking a big batch at once also spares you the hassle of having to repeatedly clean up magenta beet juice spills during the week. Whether you’ll be enjoying them spiralized, cubed, or sliced, cooking beets first may work best for meal-prep purposes.

14. Kale

Meal-Prep Method: Remove the leaves from the thick stems, wash them, and let them air dry (or if you’re fancy, use a salad spinner to get the water out). Place them in a plastic bag or container along with a paper towel to continue to soak up any moisture.

Bonus Tip: We love sautéed kale as much as anyone, but we recommend cooking the greens just when you’re ready so they still taste fresh. Thankfully, kale takes mere minutes to cook up in a pan, so you’re not tacking on too much additional prep time. For raw salads, make sure you’re dressing the kale just before you eat to prevent the leaves from wilting while sitting in the fridge.

15. Butternut Squash

Meal-Prep Method: To make cutting into this veggie’s thick rind easier, pierce the squash with a fork and nuke it for two minutes in the microwave. Peel the skin with a knife, split the squash in half, and scoop out the seeds (save them to roast later for a delicious snack option!). Then cube the squash and store the pieces in airtight containers for use throughout the week.

Bonus Tip: Chopped and cooked butternut squash both last about four to five days when stored properly. To make the most of your prep time, toss your chopped squash in a tablespoon or so of olive oil, and roast on a baking sheet in a 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Then put the cubes in an airtight container, so it’s even easier to toss them into salads or grain bowls, or purée them into soup during the week.

Proteins

Photo: iStock

16. Eggs

Meal-Prep Method: Living up to their nickname, the incredible edibles can be prepped in several ways that last you through the week. Hard-boil and store them in the fridge, with shells still on, in their original cartons to use in lunchtime salads or sandwiches. Turn a dozen of them into a giant frittata for an easy dinner option on busy nights, or individual egg muffins to have as a portable breakfast through the work week.

Bonus Tip: When hard-boiling eggs, refrain from peeling them until you need them so that they keep for the full week. However you prepare your egg, protect them from absorbing smells and flavors from other foods in the fridge by keeping them in separate cartons or airtight containers.

17. Chicken

Meal-Prep Method: Coat your meat in a tablespoon or two of oil, season it, and bake in a 360-degree oven for about 30 minutes. To keep things interesting, season half your chicken one way and use a different set of flavorings for the other half. Once baked, let it cool slightly, then divide three-ounce cuts into multiple airtight containers. Since cooked chicken can’t quite last the full week in the fridge, cut up anything you’ll use after day four and place in individual freezer bags. Then freeze until it’s time to eat.

Bonus Tip: Chicken breasts may be the leanest, but for meal-prep purposes, thighs may be a better bet; their slightly higher fat content means they won’t become as dry in the fridge, plus they’re cheaper! Remember that it’s safest to reheat chicken only once, so warm up only the amount you plan to eat. Chicken is best reheated the way it was cooked, so spread the pieces on a cookie sheet, cover with aluminum foil, and place in a preheated 450-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

18. Ground Meat

Meal-Prep Method: Warm up a skillet, then add the meat, cooking it until it’s evenly browned. Once cooled, pack three-ounce portions into several airtight containers. Like chicken, ground meat won’t last longer than four days in the fridge, so pack anything you’ll use after day four into freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing and freezing. Use the meat for pasta sauce, tacos, and casseroles.

Bonus Tip: Ground meat lasts longer cooked than raw, so be sure to remove it from the store packaging and cook it as soon as possible once you’ve brought it home. Make your frozen ground meat last longer by thawing it in the fridge rather than a microwave—doing so will keep the meat safe to use for an additional two days.

19. Lentils

Meal-Prep Method: While opening a can of precooked lentils is convenient, the dried variety is so much more cost-efficient and doesn’t even require presoaking like most other dried beans. Add one cup of dried lentils to one and a half cups of water or broth and a pinch of salt (throw in a clove of garlic or some herbs to add even more subtle flavor), and bring to a boil. Then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, and let stand before packing the lentils into sealed containers. Toss them into salads, soups, rice dishes, or simply drizzle them with your favorite dressing and eat plain.

Bonus Tip: When storing the lentils, fill the containers with the cooking water to keep the legumes from drying out when you’re not using them. They’ll last up to a full week this way.

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Why Not Everyone Is Worth Forgiving http://greatist.com/live/on-forgiveness?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Why Not Everyone Is Worth Forgiving Why Not Everyone Is Worth Forgiving Wed, 15 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500 Mikayla Park 11371 at http://greatist.com/ Have you ever seen two kids have an argument? As a teacher, I mediate kid arguments all the time, and man, is it a fast process. Usually, I just listen to each kid yell their grievances at me (Why are you shouting? I’M NOT SHOUTING!), then I get to demand they apologize to each other, and enjoy what is almost always an instantaneous resolution. When you’re a kid, forgiveness is usually the cheapest, easiest thing in the world; it’s a hug, a laugh, and, boom, instant friendship!

It doesn’t always come so easily though, even for kids. I remember when I was in elementary school, a friend of mine told me she had a sister and months later, I found out it wasn’t true at all. Boy, was I mad. I didn’t speak to her again until middle school, when she totally called me out on it in the locker room, that I had refused to forgive her for such a stupid, little thing. There I was, in my gym shorts and training bra, being publicly shamed for having held a grudge for so long. I decided, from then on, that forgiveness would be a virtue everyone would come to associate with me: I was gracious. I was understanding. I was forgiving. Never again would I be that 12-year-old in the training bra, bitterly refusing to let go of a past slight. Never!

But as an adult, forgiveness is like Pilates class; when you do it, you usually feel great afterward, but sometimes you feel awful going, awful doing it, and awful afterward, and you know you should have just stayed home, watched Hoarders, and gone some other time.

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Almost a year ago exactly, I had a pen pal. Yes, that’s sort of weird, and yes, it really happened: I had an adult pen pal, a former college acquaintance. Truthfully, I knew I had met him in college, because those were the Facebook friends we had in common, but I didn’t remember him in any way. He hit me up on Facebook with this completely random and unexpected gesture, saying, Hey I think everything you post is rad, and you’re rad, and we should be friends. It happened to be a really solid time for me; I had finally learned how to effectively manage my depression and anxiety, and was really living a half-decent life, going to back to school, getting my sh*t together in a really grown-up way. He asked if I wanted to be pen pals. I said, "Uh, sure."

You can probably imagine where this is going if you’re human and have a pulse.

I had no idea what that meant. I was hoping he understood that clearly he would be the first to write, because I had no idea how grown-up pen pals worked. He was living abroad, enjoying what appeared to be a very glamorous, bohemian lifestyle. In the photos he posted, it was clear that he had a dog and cool-dude digs. And oh, he was handsome. I wondered where the hell he’d been in college, when I was pining after some miserable artsy kid who eventually left to study acting in England.

And then his letter came.

It was a four-page explosion of scribbled drawings, backstory, hopes, and dreams… and it felt like a masterpiece. I spent hours pouring over it; I brought it to work with me, carefully enclosed in a book, like something precious, secret, almost sacred. I showed it to my best friend in quiet wonder, asking,Who the hell is this guy? And what the hell is this wonderful thing? I spent days crafting a reply. I poured my heart into it; this process was fun and new and wildly curious and exciting. The next few months proceeded like this, eagerly awaiting letters, trading ecstatic Facebook messages, pinging each other to exclaim that the mail had arrived—we traded exclamations of I got it! I got it!!!!

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We shared our hopes and dreams, our greatest fears, our weirdest inclinations; soon I felt like I knew him better than I knew most of my closest friends. Trinkets were exchanged. He sent me a little drawing pad, a cartoon, and a dedication on the first page. I sent him a friendship bracelet (remember how easy those were to make? Apparently not so much for adult hands). Our avoidance of any topic even remotely romantic felt electrically deliberate, the implications present at every turn.Where do you see yourself in five years? With someone I love, somewhere good.

You can probably imagine where this is going if you’re human and have a pulse. I fell head over heels in love with him. It was the single most romantic thing to ever happen to me; it was like a movie. It actually might be a movie, probably one starring Rachel McAdams.

An illustration of Mikayla standing in front of the movie poster of this episode in her life.
Yes, that is a matronly support bra under my cool leather jacket. What of it? / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park

We arranged to meet in DC in the spring. At this point, everyone knew this special thing that was unfolding in my life. What will you wear? What will you say? This is it! He and I texted for days beforehand. We chatted about everything, as we usually did, easy and effortlessly, as though we’d known each other forever. The conversation veered toward romance. My pulse quickened. It’s hard to find love, he wrote. Sure is, I said. Well, I’m going on a weekend trip with this girl I’ve been seeing, so we’ll see how it goes. Cross your fingers for me!

Girl. I’ve. Been. Seeing. The words punctured all the air in my tiny apartment as I stared at my phone. Even as I began to tear up, I furiously started making excuses for him. Of course he’s seeing someone, Mikayla. What did you expect? He’s a guy. Guys have needs. This is understandable. I forgave him immediately, because that’s what you do. Back in that middle-school locker room, I’d stood there in my training bra and chosen to become someone generous, so I wasn’t about to become an ungenerous girl in a matronly support bra in my own living room, butt-hurt at my pen pal for taking girls on dates.

So instead, I cheekily told him that I couldn’t really cross my fingers, because I was in love with him myself. I tend to go balls to the wall with stuff like that. He rambled on a little about feelings, and timing, and distance, without ever really saying anything in reply.

I went to DC anyway, of course. I had a plane ticket, and my mother was expecting me, and when your mother is expecting you, what the f*ck else is there to do? I wasn’t giving up, either. No. I didn’t care who the this girl was; he and I had something special, and I had pages upon pages of letters to prove it. What was he thinking? I felt like I was gearing up for the fight of my life; he belonged with me. Why couldn’t he see that? I wrote him a good-bye letter just in case, feeling positive that I would show it to him someday, when we were old and married, and laugh about how he almost lost me entirely once. I tucked it into my pocket for good luck.

We planned to meet at a coffee shop at noon. He was two hours late. I cried into an overpriced latte and told myself he was probably late because he was losing his mind in confusion. I forgave him immediately, trying to feel magnanimous while wiping the snot from my nose.

When he finally arrived, he gave me a bag of coffee as a gift and asked why I was crying. I told him, mustering up my best Rachel McAdams, that I had fallen in love with him, that this was something special, something worth fighting for, that I would move to his far-off country for him if that was what it took, that I could teach anywhere, if it meant we could have our shot. He rambled on a little about feelings and timing and distance, looked sad, and then asked if I wanted to get gelato. I wanted so badly to ignore it, but the no was written all over his face, all over the way he very delicately physically separated himself from me. I tearfully shrugged and said OK.

We spent the rest of the day together, exploring DC, eating food, taking photos. I felt like I was holding myself hostage. I really just wanted to punch him in the face and leave, but I felt guilty. I couldn’t leave him like that; he hadn’t asked for any of this. We drove around in his mom’s convertible, listening to old indie rock. We drew pictures and left them in a box by a garden. Two cartoon characters saying I don’t know and I don’t know either. At the end of the day, I gave him the good-bye letter I wrote him. It was generous and sad. I couldn’t be his pen pal anymore; it wasn’t fair to me, and it wasn’t fair to the girl he was with.

An illustration of two letters, neither of whom seems to know.
No one seems to know! / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park

That night, he told me he had reread all of my letters (which he had inexplicably brought with him) searching for signs, for clues, wondering where he had gone wrong. Had he missed romantic signals somewhere? He thought we were clearly just pals. I felt guilty, like I had ruined this wonderful thing we had by breaking an invisible rule. I didn’t forgive him, because there was nothing to forgive; it was all my fault. As I sat on the plane the next day, I texted him that I missed him already. He texted me back a link to a song in Portuguese. I desperately searched it for some hidden meaning.

Within my brokenheartedness, I felt an undercurrent of guilt, like I had wronged him by falling in love, that I made something out of nothing, that his intentions had been pure and I had somehow sullied it with my own agenda.

I don’t feel that way anymore.

In hindsight, I’d like to go back to that day and punch myself in the face, then get the hell out of there, as far from him as possible. I’d like to tell my former self that I didn’t do anything wrong.

Look, even now I want to believe him! Maybe he didn’t mean to lead me on; it is so ingrained in my nature to forgive him, to try to understand, to make excuses. Maybe he never meant for it to go that way at all; maybe he honestly, truthfully, never even thought about it. Maybe he’d ignored the scribbled hearts ALL THE F*CK OVER MY LETTERS. Maybe he has intimate female pen pals all the time, and nothing like this has ever happened… but seriously, that just makes him stupid, which is almost as bad as being cruel. And guess what? You don’t have to forgive stupid, either.

His relationship with that girl was just slightly more serious than he’d led on; they’re now married and have a child. I unfriended him on Facebook and unfollowed him on Instagram, although he doesn’t seem to know it yet because he still likes all my posts (hi, I guess you know now).

I unceremoniously tossed his letters out with the trash one day.

Yeah, no one wants those letters. / Illustration by the author, Mikayla Park

Intent is a thing, I know. It’s a thing, and it matters. And forgiveness is also a thing, and it’s nice, and it feels good. But for f*ck’s sake, not everyone is worth forgiving. I don’t feel weighed down by any continued resentment, but I feel free from the obligation to be gracious and forgiving. There is plenty of room in my heart for both.

Sometimes things don’t end in a hug and a laugh and, boom, friendship! Sometimes the most someone deserves is not you—and that’s not heavy, that’s not a burden. The girl at the coffee shop who waited two hours for a guy who didn’t appreciate her? She deserves my forgiveness. As for the rest, I’ll be the girl in the matronly support bra opting out of Pilates class, waving my middle finger from the couch as I watch Hoarders. And I don’t feel bad about it one. Single. Bit.

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7 Breakfast Recipes That Take 5 Minutes So You Can Do Your Hair for Once http://greatist.com/eat/easy-breakfasts-that-take-5-minutes-to-make?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 7 Breakfast Recipes That Take 5 Minutes So You Can Do Your Hair for Once 7 Breakfast Recipes That Take 5 Minutes So You Can Do Your Hair for Once Wed, 15 Feb 2017 06:30:00 -0500 Anisha Jhaveri 11488 at http://greatist.com/ Whether it’s because you take forever to get dressed, are scrambling after an a.m. workout, or just really like the snooze button, making time to eat a well-rounded breakfast on weekdays can be a serious challenge. Who’s got a half-hour—or even 15 minutes—to stir up a pot of oats or whip up omelets?

But a quick bite before work doesn’t need to mean a bowl of cereal that will only leave you hungry an hour later or a way-too-greasy bagel sandwich from the corner deli. Check out these seven ideas for filling, tasty, and seriously quick breakfasts that take up just five minutes or less.

Photo: Everyday Easy Eats
You do need to set aside the five minutes to make this breakfast the night before you actually eat it, but that just means you save even more time in the morning. Give the honey, oats, milk, and banana enough time to hang out while you’re asleep, so that you’ve got a sweet, chewy bowl to enjoy chilled or warmed up when the sun—and you—rise.
Photo: The Glowing Fridge
There’s a reason avocado toast is so freakin' popular—it’s loaded with healthy fats, it’s delicious, and it’s quick. This recipe is also super customizable; use any bread you like and keep it simple with the blogger’s version of hemp seeds and cucumber, or go nuts with additional veggies or drizzles of hot sauce.
Photo: Julie's Eats and Treats
Keep cool on even busier days with this chilled fruit and yogurt bowl. It’s a quicker, deconstructed parfait, and with flaxseeds and chia seeds adding healthy fats, it’s both light and filling at the same time.
Photo: Healthy Sweet Eats
Fruit and yogurt parfaits are refreshing, but there’s nothing like a hot meal to comfort you before a hectic day ahead—especially one that tastes like dessert. With zero added sugar, healthy fats from the pecans, and a dollop of yogurt to complement the gooey microwaved apples, this bowl is the breakfast equivalent of a warm hug.
Photo: Macheesmo
Crammed with protein from the black beans, egg, and spinach, this sandwich takes just five minutes to make but will keep you full for hours. We’re into math like that.
Photo: Cook Eat Paleo
When it comes to eating Paleo, planning meals in advance is all the more important. Make breakfast a no-brainer with this four-ingredient bowl. It looks and tastes like oatmeal, but it’s actually a fluffy concoction of mashed banana, almond flour, and shredded coconut. You won’t miss the grains at all!
Photo: Where the Cookies Are
Microwaved meals-in-mugs can be lifesavers when you’re in a pinch but don’t want to resort to buying breakfast outside. This one goes above and beyond where saving time is concerned, nuked and ready to go in just two minutes. We recommend throwing some spinach in there to get a quick fix of veggies too.

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27 Instant Pot Recipes That Save You a Crazy Amount of Time http://greatist.com/eat/instant-pot-recipes?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 27 Instant Pot Recipes That Save You a Crazy Amount of Time 27 Instant Pot Recipes That Save You a Crazy Amount of Time Tue, 14 Feb 2017 07:30:00 -0500 Anisha Jhaveri 11475 at http://greatist.com/ When it comes to kitchen trends, 2017 is quickly shaping up to be "the year of the Instant Pot." Bloggers are professing their undying love for it, entire Pinterest boards are dedicated to it, and it’s been featured on leading news sites. A pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté pan, steamer, yogurt maker, and stockpot warmer in one (whew!), this Canadian-born gadget can pretty much do everything from boil eggs and braise ribs to make lasagna and bake cakes, all in record time.

It seems almost too spectacular to be true—can a kitchen appliance really be that life-changing? Yes. Yes, it can. But don’t just take our word for it—check out these recipes for yourself. Saving time, space, and energy, these 27 dishes will help you make the most of your Instant Pot—or just convince you to get one.

Soups and Stews

Photo: Kitchen Treaty
It usually takes 20 minutes just to boil lentils, and that doesn't even include any cooking. With the Instant Pot, you not only get perfectly pressure-cooked legumes, but also a hearty soup filled with spinach, onions, and carrots in just 35 minutes.
Photo: Delicious Meets Healthy
Stews are known for tasting better the longer they cook, but this beefy, brothy recipe proves how the Instant Pot can get you that same depth of flavor in a fraction of the time. The generous splash of marsala wine doesn’t hurt either.
Photo: Foraged Dish
From ingredients to preparation, everything about this tortilla soup is as simple as it gets. Onions and garlic make up its fragrant base, while shredded chicken adds some protein-packed body. Twenty minutes in the Instant Pot later, it’s ready for your favorite toppings.
Photo: Detoxinista
To keep this coconut butternut squash soup from getting too sweet, this blogger adds a good dusting of curry powder for some savory spice. The Instant Pot takes care of sautéing and pressure-cooking the vegetables, so all you need to do is blend it as a final step.
Photo: Peas and Peonies
Let the Instant Pot bring central Europe into your kitchen with this incredibly easy goulash. Lean pork is a tasty departure from regular beef, while two types of paprika give it that distinctive Hungarian flavor.
Photo: Healthy Slow Cooking
Sweet potatoes add some extra body, while navy beans provide even more protein to this main meal-worthy soup. Nutritional yeast keeps it vegan while giving it a slightly cheesy flavor. The best part? While it would take all day to cook in a slow cooker, the Instant Pot has it on the table in 20 minutes.
Photo: Veggies Save the Day
Indian-Chinese fusion cuisine is pretty popular in restaurants, but now you can create that flavor-packed combo at home thanks to the Instant Pot. Corn and cabbage simmer to perfection with sesame oil and soy sauce for just 10 minutes before the mixture is ready for blending.
Photo: Healthful Pursuit
If you can’t find daikon radish, we’re pretty sure zucchini noodles will do the trick just as well in this lighter take on chicken noodle soup. It may be a lower-carb recipe, but somehow it's as comforting as the real deal.

Entrees

Photo: Mommy's Home Cooking
Lean ground turkey is smothered in a homemade, lower-sugar teriyaki sauce and pressure cooked until the meat soaks up all that sweet soy flavor. In just 15 minutes, you have 16 meatballs ready to be ladled onto rice, eaten on a salad, or simply devoured on their own.
Photo: Eat Something Delicious
You won't find eggs in this chop suey, but a ton of meaty mushrooms, bell peppers, snow peas, and celery in a slightly spicy, thickened-up sauce makes it a fun way to eat more veggies. If you don’t have coconut aminos or tapioca starch, use soy sauce and cornstarch for similar results.
Photo: Knead to Cook
Lentils are often used as an alternative to beef Bolognese, but it usually takes a ton of stirring to get the flavors just right. Here, the only work you’re doing is chopping the veggies. By the time your pasta is boiled, the Instant Pot will have your meatless sauce all ready to go.
Photo: Real Food Real Deals
Like most Hawaiian-inspired fried rice recipes, this one comes with the usual suspects of ham and pineapple. But the use of brown rice, plus the fact that everything—including the grain—is cooked right in the Instant Pot at the same time, makes this version stand out.
Photo: A Calculated Whisk
“No, thank you. I don’t care for a five-ingredient recipe that involves melt-in-your-mouth, Mexican-spiced shredded pork,” said no one ever. Make this.
Photo: Living Sweet Moments
Unless you live in a Chinese take-out restaurant, there’s no quicker way to get this favorite chicken dish on your table than with this recipe. The gingery soy, honey, and sesame sauce needs just five minutes of pressure cooking with the chicken to yield mouthwatering results. This recipe alone may be reason enough to buy an Instant Pot.
Photo: The Centsable Shoppin
It’s hard to believe that an entire pasta dish can be made in just 12 minutes, but this recipe shows that it’s not just possible, it’s also delicious. Simple flavors like garlic, butter, and olive oil make it irresistible, while four or five cups of spinach let you get your veggies in among the richer ingredients.
Photo: Every Nook and Cranny
Full disclosure: The Instant Pot instructions for making this chili are a bit involved, but it mostly amounts to pressing different buttons at various intervals until you’ve got a smoky, spicy potful of beans and veggies. Easy enough, right?

Sides

Photo: Eat Within Your Means
It isn’t a complete Mexican meal without this classic tomato-tinged side. Cook it up in just 35 minutes—that includes the cooking time for the rice—and use brown basmati to give this gluten-free dish more fiber.
Photo: Healthy Slow Cooking
With just onions and dried beans as its main ingredients, this dish isn’t just easy, it’s also one of the most inexpensive side dishes you can make. While most black-eyed pea recipes involve bacon, the liquid smoke and paprika give this more than enough flavor so you don’t miss the meat at all.
Photo: A Pinch of Healthy
Baking potatoes the traditional way can be hit or miss—depending on oven “hot spots,” or over- or under-cooking, you can end up with raw or overly mushy spuds. Turn to the Instant Pot for perfectly fork-tender sweet potatoes every time and serve them alongside your favorite lean protein and veggies to make clean eating that much easier.
Photo: Foods for Long Life
Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to make these Brussels sprouts. Glazed with just a bit of maple syrup and orange juice, then sprinkled with black pepper, the sweet and spicy combo is so addictive, we won’t be surprised if you’re busting out the Instant Pot at the height of summer to eat these.
Photo: Cleverly Me
Why pay for Chipotle when making cilantro lime rice at home is this simple? Seventeen minutes in the Instant Pot and three ingredients will get you a fluffy, fresh-tasting side dish that you’ll want to eat even on days when Mexican isn’t on the menu.
Photo: My Life Cookbook
It looks simple, but there’s nothing bland about this pile of purple cabbage. Generous dashes of garlic and ginger give it just enough kick, while a touch of coconut oil and butter add richness. Serve it up as a fantastic (and healthier) alternative to mayo-drenched coleslaw.
Photo: Brand New Vegan
Thanks to the Instant Pot, it’s easier than ever to forego the lard-filled, canned refried beans in grocery stores and make your own vegan version. With onions, jalapeños, and creamy pinto beans cooked down to creamy perfection, you’ll forget there’s no oil or butter in here at all.

Desserts

Photo: A Pinch of Healthy
There’s so much to love about this cake. Not only is it in and out of the Instant Pot in an hour, but it’s also packed with plenty of good-for-you ingredients, from the whole-wheat flour and the mashed banana to the Greek yogurt.
Photo: Healthy Slow Cooking
Even if you don’t consider yourself a baker, rest assured it’s almost impossible to screw up this cake. Made from start to finish in the Instant Pot, it’s pressure-cooked until light and spongy. Even if you don’t want to garnish it with fresh cranberries, there are plenty inside the batter so you’ll still get that tart burst of flavor in each bite.
Photo: Cookistry
With milk instead of half and half, just half a cup of sugar, and an egg for some unexpected protein, this recipe is definitely one of the lighter ways to enjoy rice pudding. Serve warm or chilled—the Instant Pot can make a big batch at once, so you can try it both ways.
Photo: This Pilgrim Life
End your meals with this warm but light and fruity yet spicy concoction of stewed apples. Going the Instant Pot route saves you the hassle of stirring the slices on the stove, plus its quick-cooking method means you’ll be digging in in just two (yes, two!) minutes.

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How Thinking About Death Can Make Your Life Better http://greatist.com/live/live-life-knowing-youre-going-to-die?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist How Thinking About Death Can Make Your Life Better How Thinking About Death Can Make Your Life Better Tue, 14 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500 Susie Moore 11334 at http://greatist.com/
No Regrets With Susie Moore
It’s so important to live your life fully, in the now, aware of everything you have. Author Wayne Dyer said that in order to appreciate the beauty of your time here on earth you have to "die while you are still alive."

What does that mean, exactly? It means letting the knowledge of your imminent death empower you in the present. It means reminding yourself of the fleeting and fragile nature of life, letting that motivate you to suspend your fear and kick some ass. Here are some ways to do just that.

1. Consider what a successful life means to you.

And only to you. Not to your mom, your boss, or your best friend. Pause and take some time to understand what a life well-lived really looks like for you. What do you want to be, do, and have? See all seven continents? Create a family? Author a book? Invent something that leaves a lasting legacy? Give back in a big way? Gretchen Rubin says, "The days are long, but the years are short." This resonates for me… I can’t believe it’s already February. In 2017.

2. Change your mindset to achieve what's important to you.

Think: What do I need to change?

The old saying "energy flows where attention goes" is accurate. What needs your attention in order for you to achieve your goals? What do you need to do or think about differently? Most change begins with an open mind. If you don’t think you can travel for an extended period, write 50,000 words, or be an activist, then you can’t, and you won’t. What mindset shift do you most need to make?

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Meet and research people who have achieved what you hope to. If it’s possible for others, it’s possible for you. Get around winners. That simple change can have a massive impact.

3. Contemplate how embarrassment weakens you.

Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert series, says the most important quality successful people possess is "lack of fear of embarrassment." Is this stopping you from going for it? The fear of what people might think, say, or do? You can minimize this fear when you get real about it. To combat it…

4. Write a letter to yourself from your 90-year old self’s point of view.

Thank yourself for what you had the courage and bravery to achieve. Start each sentence with, "I am so thankful that…" What are you most thankful for? I bet it won’t be, "I’m so happy that I played it safe and didn’t ruffle any feathers," or "I’m so happy that I just went with the crowd and bothered as few people as possible."

I bet you’ll be thanking yourself for the things that you know today matter to you.

5. Lose your excuses.

There is nothing like the power of perspective to make your excuses look like a joke. Too busy, tired, or scared to fulfill your ambitions? Come on! Excuses are more dangerous and frightening than almost anything else that can scare you—including death itself.

Living life with death in mind allows us to not sweat the small stuff. It spurs us to remember what matters and to get out of bed in the morning with more purpose and less anxiety. If you choose this perspective, a more meaningful, intentional life will be your reward. And what could be more valuable than that?

Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Always wanted to pursue your own passion? Sign up for her Side Hustle Prep School. You can also sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday on Greatist for her latest No Regrets column!

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The 11 Reasons That Tinder Match Never Messaged You http://greatist.com/live/reasons-your-tinder-match-never-messaged-you?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist The 11 Reasons That Tinder Match Never Messaged You The 11 Reasons That Tinder Match Never Messaged You Mon, 13 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500 Charlie Beckerman 11386 at http://greatist.com/ Those of you who are regular swipe-app users—your Tinderers, your Bumblers, your OkCupiders—will be familiar with two nearly simultaneous and almost always contradictory emotions. The first comes when you match with someone: the giddy high that accompanies your two pics dancing across the screen, Tinder’s celebratory "It’s a Match!" with an "M" so sassy that it should come with a parental advisory, or Bumble’s "BOOM," which might as well just say, "YOU GUYS SHOULD BANG." You think… "maybe… maybe this is the one! The one who’s going to change everything!"

Photographed by Julia Hembree

The second sensation comes shortly thereafter, as you try to craft a perfect-but-totes chill opening message to this new potential life partner. "Hey, how’s your day treating you?" is my boring default, as I don't want to invest too much or seem too eager. Because the reality is that the likelihood that this human will write you back is closer to nil than my checking account, and that, my friends, is saying something.

But why? Why won’t they just write you (me, us) back? I’ve assembled the comprehensive list of explanations for when you've matched with someone who looks ~~perfect~~ but who ends up completely ignoring you.

1. They’ve made a horrible mistake.

This one rates highly in the likelihood department because we've all been there. Your thumbs are swiftly flicking through faces, and then suddenly something weird happens with the angle of your hand or the touchscreen has a mini-seizure, and all of a sudden, you’ve matched with Taylor, a perfectly nice-looking grave-digger who you’re just not excited to suck face with.

2. Your conversation just didn’t spark.

True, the full extent of your attempt to communicate with this new, exciting person is no more than a few words, but maybe buried deep inside those words was a blaring siren of awkwardness that sent up more red flags than the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. They just know.

3. They were drunk when they swiped right on you.

There are those people who at the beginning of the date make you think, "I don’t know if I’m really into this," but then a beer or two in, you’re like, "I really love the name Flannery for a girl and Clayton for a boy," so why shouldn’t the same thing hold true for swiping under the influence? In their defense, I don’t know how I’d feel about getting a message that was like "OMG I’m so sorry I was totally wasted when I swiped right on you," so maybe silence really is the best answer here.

4. They swipe right on everyone and see who swipes right back.

I didn’t know until recently that this is a thing, and it seems pretty f*cking horrible. It’s less "he’s just not that into you" and more "he’s just a total douchebag."

5. They can smell your desperation.

I mean, if the NSA can turn on our camera phones without us knowing, surely Apple has devised a way of transmitting how much you desperately need this embryonic relationship to work, if only so you don’t have to deal with Aunt Sheila’s probing questions about why you’re still single at your cousin’s wedding in June. Clearly, Jordan can tell just how badly you want it, and is accordingly running, screaming into the night, in the opposite direction.

6. They're sadistic and cruel.

This one time, I matched with a guy who was cute or whatever, but not slack-jawed-accidentally-walk-into-a-post pretty or anything. I sent him a friendly, harmless, "Hey Nick, how’s your weekend going?" and he wrote back, "No."

"No… what? No weekend?" I asked innocently.

He sent me an animated gif of Homer Simpson backing into a hedge. I sent him an animated gif of Oprah looking happily confused at the 2015 Oscars. He sent me a gif of a weird cartoon spider shaking its head, and then blocked me.

Let me just say that this guy—who must have swiped right on me at some point—was giving me a hard rejection via gif? I mean, I am a goddamned Fulbright Scholar. Needless to say, I had a few glasses of wine following that interaction. I think I earned them.

7. They're already married and just forgot to deactivate their Tinder.

What happens when you’ve found the one? Is there a button somewhere in these apps that says "I’m all good! Take me out of the mix!"? I know I’ve never seen one, not that I’ve had cause to look… so I’m just going to assume that there are some number of faces I’m seeing of people who are happily ensconced with their future husband already. The internet seems divided on what happens to your account if you stop using your swipey app but don’t fully eradicate yourself from it—i.e., delete your account—and the idea that the reason Jamie never wrote back is because he is busy getting married to Royce is somehow easier to stomach than the idea that he just DGAF.

8. Their friend was swiping for them.

I’ve covered in full the various pitfalls of this exercise.

9. They died.

There are 7 billion people in the world. Every day, 151,000 people die. That’s roughly .002 percent of the world's total population. There are 10 million daily active Tinder users. .002 percent of 10 million is 200. So every day on Tinder, there are 200 new ghosts in the mix. That’s just math.

10. They got distracted and forgot about you.

This one is lame because you can’t actually hate the person for it, but—especially for that guy who looked kind of promising—can be frustrating as hell.

11. The biggest, best, least satisfying, and most likely reason: They’re just not good enough.

Yes, no one wants to hear it, but even though Tyler was super handsome and wrote a witty profile and swiped right on you, a match who can’t be bothered to write back to a personable, friendly message isn’t worth the data you used to download their photo. It doesn’t make them suck any less, but maybe it will make their silence just a little less hurtful.

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20 Awesome Things About Being in Your Late 20s http://greatist.com/live/awesome-parts-of-being-in-your-late-20s?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 20 Awesome Things About Being in Your Late 20s 20 Awesome Things About Being in Your Late 20s Fri, 10 Feb 2017 08:00:00 -0500 Locke Hughes 11328 at http://greatist.com/ A lot of people think college was the best four years of their life, and others never wanted high school to end. Maybe you can’t wait to hit that age where it makes sense to settle down with a spouse, 2.5 kids, and a house in the suburbs surrounded by a white picket fence.

But your late 20s? Ugh. They’re just an awkward, in-between phase. No one ever talks about how excited they are to turn 28 or 29; there’s even an alleged curse on age 27 because a surprising number of celebrities die at that age.

Well, I’m here to argue that our late 20s get a bad rap. No one ever talks about the good parts. Sure, there are difficulties: trying to build your career; juggling said career, friends, and dating; dating in general. But there are plenty of perks to take advantage of between 25 and 30 that we don’t discuss enough.

1. You have an awesome group of friends.

By now, you’ve established some rock-solid relationships with people who truly get you (and won’t make fun of you for staying in on a Friday night). High school and college throw a lot of randoms together in classes and dorms—who become your friends through default—but now you get to choose people who complement your interests and actually add value to your life.

The author, Locke, cooking in her kitchen.
Cooking with avocado AND red wine—can't beat that combination.

2. You know how to cook more than mac and cheese.

Not that there’s anything wrong with mac and cheese, but expanding your palate and kitchen skills in your 20s will benefit your health and your wallet. You don’t have to know your way around the kitchen like Ina Garten, but it’s nice to know how to whip up a few nice dinners. (Not there yet? Start with one of these incredibly easy and healthy meals anyone can master.)

3. You know what kind of person you want to date...

... and you’ve stopped wasting time on people you know you don’t. There’s merit in dating different types of people, but by the time you hit your late 20s, you’ve—hopefully—realized what qualities are actually important in a significant other (honesty, ambition) and which aren’t (cool car, hot body).

4. You make better life decisions.

So it turns out your brain isn’t even fully formed until after you turn 25. Research indicates that the frontal lobes, which manage impulse control and planning, are the last areas of the brain to develop. (That explains those 3 a.m. Jager bombs.) Now you’re better at making the right choices for the long run rather than the short term.

5. You know what works for your body (and what doesn’t).

You’ve figured out that liquor does make you sicker, so you stick to wine (or vice-versa). You may have also realized that eating a lot of sugar and processed food will make you feel like crap. And that a yoga class or a run feels really damn good.

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6. You know how to take care of your brain too.

Staying mentally healthy is something you (hopefully) don’t have to think about much in your teens or early 20s. But the more life experiences you go through, both good and bad, you understand the damage that stress, anxiety, or depression can do. I’m not saying it’s easy, but learning how to handle whatever is going on in your mind is crucial. (And if you are going through a tough time, here are 81 mental health resources to turn to.)

7. You’re not afraid to ask for what you want.

Something clicked for me after age 26: I realized that it's OK to be assertive. I realized that if you want to be in control of a situation, it’s OK to control it. Speaking up is something especially young women struggle with, although I think the tide is finally changing. Personally, I’ve started to be more vocal about my desires in work, life, and relationships—and damn, does it feel good.

8. You've learned how to say no.

Along those same lines, I’ve also realized that it’s OK to say no. Saying no to something doesn’t mean you’re being rude, lazy, or negative. It simply means you’re choosing to give more time to things that matter in your life than those that don’t—like that second date or third beer.

9. You actually have $ to spend (and save).

By your late 20s, chances are high that you have more disposable income and a few more zeroes in your savings account than you used to. And let’s be real: Getting a raise or a promotion is so much better than good grades in school. Plus, your late 20s are a win-win: You’re still young enough for stores like H&M or Forever21, but you also know it's smart to invest in some nicer clothes that’ll last longer than three washes.

10. Your friends are getting married.

I know, weddings can be crazy expensive (refer to No. 8 if your social schedule is getting out of control). But on the bright side, they’re fantastic excuses to visit some surprisingly beautiful places (looking at you, New Jersey!), hang out with friends and family you don’t see that often, and take advantage of an open bar and free food.

11. You get to play with said friends’ babies.

It’s a totally trippy feeling when your first good friend has their first child, and you realize they’re responsible for raising another human being. But it’s pretty sweet to get your baby fix and hang out with your friend at the same time. Plus it gives you some time to get the hang of it before you decide whether or when to have kids of your own.

The author, Locke, with her parents.
Hanging with my parents... and my friends.

12. You relate to your parents on a different level.

It’s pretty cool how family dynamics change as you get older. My parents and I relate on a different level now that I’m a full-fledged adult and can thoughtfully discuss real-life things like politics or finances. Who knows—maybe they’ll even ask you for advice.

13. You’ve made your house or apartment into a ~home.~

Not saying you have to graduate from IKEA and Target completely, but chances are your house or apartment has some unique, creative touches that aren’t cliche posters of Audrey Hepburn. Hanging out in a comfortable, cozy space you’ve created from scratch (even if you have roommates) is a pretty fantastic feeling.

14. You can appreciate a night out as much as a night in.

This may be my favorite thing about my late 20s. I still love to have the occasional big night out with friends, but I also love staying in with Netflix and popcorn. And I don’t feel bad about doing either. #IDoWhatIWant.

15. You don’t have to prove yourself at work every damn day.

Now that you’ve been working for a few years, you no longer have a resume that lists your high school student council experience. That makes a big difference; people at work have probably grown to respect you and your ideas, and maybe you even manage a team of your own. The responsibilities are bigger, but mentoring someone younger can also be super rewarding (and duh, it's awesome when you can pass off some of your busy work).

16. You can network without feeling like a fraud.

Another work perk of your late 20s: It’s way easier to email people whose work you admire, and they don’t automatically get annoyed by some college kid wanting to "pick their brain." You’re at the point when people are not only willing to meet you, but they’re more than likely interested in your work as well.

17. You’re not (as) addicted to your phone.

If you’re born in the late '80s to early '90s, you’re one of the last (lucky) generations to experience life sans smartphone. Obviously, you’re still on Snapchat, Instagram, and all the other apps of the moment, but you’re also well aware there’s more to life than staring at a screen 24/7. Savor it, folks.

The author, Locke, with her new camera
Playing around with a newly discovered hobby: photography.

18. You get to decide how to spend your free time.

One of my pet peeves is when people say they’re bored. I know it’s so easy to fall into the standard weekend trap of going out, waking up late, working out, hanging out, etc., but there is so much you can do in your spare time: Take a photography class, read, practice yoga, start a side business. Take advantage of it now—all that alone time is going out the window when (if) you have kids.

19. You’re finally OK with just being yourself.

I’m not saying to settle for mediocrity, but at some point in your late 20s, you stop worrying about how you stack up next to other people. You realize that life is no longer a popularity contest (thank God) and that your only real competition is yourself. It’s cheesy, but as long as you’re doing your best, whatever that looks like, you’re doing great.

20. You’ve figured out your values and priorities in life.

By this age, most of us have experienced a tragedy of some sort—whether it’s losing someone close to us, going through a health scare, or dealing with serious family drama. The silver lining? Going through a rough patch will make you reassess your values in life, which is a really important thing to do in your 20s.

Maybe you realized that being close to your family is more important than traveling the world. Maybe you realized that helping others makes you happier than making a lot of money. Maybe you decided you want to be a creative entrepreneur, not a corporate lawyer. Whatever it is, now that you’ve got your priorities straight, you can start planning a life that lines up with them.

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The Best Non-Alcoholic Bottled Drinks That Aren't Just Cans of Sugar http://greatist.com/eat/best-non-alcoholic-bottled-drinks?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist The Best Non-Alcoholic Bottled Drinks That Aren't Just Cans of Sugar The Best Non-Alcoholic Bottled Drinks That Aren't Just Cans of Sugar Fri, 10 Feb 2017 07:30:00 -0500 Rebecca Firkser 11384 at http://greatist.com/ We all know by now that soda really isn't that healthy (it's not even healthyish). With 39 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce can of cola, there's no denying that we need to drink better. So we present our guide to the seven best non-soda, non-alcoholic drinks, based on your mood—because when you're feeling fancy, you probably don't want to open a can of plain seltzer, amiright?

drinks: bai
Photo: Amazon

1. When you feel like something sweet...

Bai Bubbles Sparkling Beverages

Super fruity and a bit sweeter than the rest, Bai Bubbles may be the closest thing to soda on this list. We gotta say, the black cherry flavor makes a mighty fine addition to a gin and tonic. Bai, Bai, Bai... soda.

drinks: suja
Photo: Suja Juice

2. When you feel adventurous...

Suja Juice Drinking Vinegars

If you think drinking vinegars are just apple cider vinegar and lemon, unscrew a Suja ASAP. From strawberry-balsamic to peach-ginger to hibiscus-ancho chili, these mild vinegar-based drinks belong in your fridge.

drinks: fever tree
Photo: Amazon

3. When you feel like celebrating (but staying sober)...

Fever-Tree Sparkling Drinks

You don’t have to be pouring cocktails to enjoy Fever-Tree mixers. The light sparkling drinks taste damn good on their own—we’re especially into the ginger beer and bitter lemon flavors.

drinks: belvoir
Photo: Amazon

4. When you feel fancy AF...

Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower and Rose Lemonade

Sweet, tart, and stashed in the prettiest bottle, Belvoir lemonades are an ideal mid-afternoon sipper. Plus, unlike most floral-flavored drinks, this one (thankfully!) doesn’t taste anything like perfume.

drinks: la croix
Photo: La Croix

5. When you’re feelin’ anything from a can...

La Croix Sparkling Water

A rainbow of colorful cans that house about as many flavors as there are types of fruit? You guessed it—we’re talking La Croix. About as divisive as a canned seltzer can get, we’re making a firm stance in the pro.

drinks: perrier
Photo: Amazon

6. When you feel like something more fun than water...

Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water

Perrier doesn’t just make the sparkling water you pay extra for at restaurants. The brand’s sparkling fruit drinks come in a bunch of tart, crisp flavors, including green apple, lemon, lime, and pink grapefruit (our fave!) and TBH, they taste way better than plain ol’ seltzer.

drinks: kevita
Photo: Amazon

7. When you feel like you need a health boost...

Kevita Organic Sparkling Probiotic Drink

Kevita’s pleasingly sour probiotic is fermented with a kefir culture to fill you with good bacteria instead of sugar. And we’d much rather sip on this for probiotics than eat another carton of plain yogurt.

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The Challenges of Being an Interracial Couple in America's Whitest City http://greatist.com/live/marriage-in-2017?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist The Challenges of Being an Interracial Couple in America's Whitest City The Challenges of Being an Interracial Couple in America's Whitest City Fri, 10 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500 Jagger Blaec 11339 at http://greatist.com/ Relationships don’t look like they used to (and that's a good thing). But what does it honestly take to make a modern romance work? As part of Committed, we're exploring partnerships ranging from a textbook marriage between high-school sweethearts to a gay couple creating a life together in the conservative deep South.

Jagger and her husband on their wedding day
Our wedding day. Photo courtesy of Meredith Bacon

I love my husband unconditionally, and we have amazing chemistry, but we’re also definite proof that opposites attract. He loves dogs, and before I met him, I was an aspiring cat lady. He was raised Mormon; I was raised a Methodist. He is white, and I am black.

None of these differences were deal breakers as we fell deeper and deeper in love, but even before America appeared to be on the verge of collapse, being in an interracial relationship came with its fair share of challenges.

From the beginning, I knew Xavier wasn't like any other guy I’d been interested in. For starters, he seemed to express genuine interest in me as a person… unlike most of the other white guys I’d encountered over the years, who desperately wanted to add a black girl to their roster of hookups. I called interactions with these types of guys "science projects," because they approached me like I was some sort of foreign specimen in a lab they just couldn't wait to examine.

The author, Jagger, her husband, and their dog

For a very long time, I allowed this. Growing up in the predominantly white suburbs of Fairfield County, Connecticut, the dating pool was pretty shallow for a black girl. In my hometown, the guys who were genuinely attracted to me (beyond mere lust) would never admit it to their peers—they’d have been ridiculed for actually liking a black girl. So in order to feel the touch of a man in my adolescence, I played the role of a "Jezebel."

I grew up black in a mostly white area, so I was accustomed to casual racism. As a survival tactic, I learned how to disassociate every time I heard someone at a party "accidentally" drop an N-bomb. I was also under the illusion that because people thought I "sounded white," it was possible for me to transcend racial stereotypes. I figured that as long as I was able to abide by respectability politics and not be lumped together with those "other lazy Negroes," I could just be the token black girl. So I hid my natural hair under Brazilian bundles—not as a way to protect the beautiful kink that grew beneath it, but to assimilate more closely to European beauty standards.

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But then Xavier came along, and things felt different. I’d always thought "the butterflies" were bullsh*t, but anytime I saw him, that’s the only way I can describe how he made me feel. He has these crystal blue eyes that had a way of unintentionally staring right through me, and best of all, he really made me laugh. I was sprung. So much of my seduction technique relied on being fetishized that when I finally met a man who had no interest in doing that, I became even more enamored.

When we met, he told me he was from Chicago, which I thought was sexy, because I imagined he had all kinds of wisdom from being raised in a city so full of culture. Of course, he failed to mention that the first years of his life had actually taken place in Salt Lake City, Utah, which isn't exactly a melting pot of diversity. Luckily, he’d been exposed to a mélange of different people during his time in Chi-Town, and had gotten the chance to develop a more worldly view.

Jagger and her husband, Xavier

Soon, Xavier and I were madly in love. But the second summer after we had moved in together, he went to visit a family member in Portland, Oregon. When he came back, he told tales of a magical land packed with breweries on every block and fine artisan cuisine spilling from food carts all over the city. Then he produced an engagement ring and persuaded me to move west with him. Once I’d officially been promoted to fiancée, we drove cross-country to our new home.

Of course, Portland was just as amazing as he’d described; this city is full of doughnuts shaped like voodoo dolls and an air of creative enthusiasm that encourages locals to "Keep Portland Weird."

There was only one detail my husband had left out. As the weeks passed, I slowly started to realize that I hadn’t seen any black people since we’d arrived. Because my husband is white, the lens through which he views the world had allowed him to visit Portland and never think twice about the fact that it was such an overwhelmingly white city.

But for me, this lack of diversity came as a complete culture shock. Connecticut is practically as white as Portland, so on its face, the transition should have been simple. But on the East Coast, there was so much more exposure to diversity, and I’d worked in New York for several years. Outside of working in metro areas, I had a support system of friends and family to seek refuge with when I felt like a black person engulfed by white space. Portland lacked these important elements.

Thanks to Google, I quickly discovered that we were now living in a place that is often referred to "Whitetopia." Not only is there a shortage of black people, but their lack of diversity was actually intentional, and the city has a long history of white supremacist activity.

Jagger and her husband on their wedding day
Photo courtesy of Meredith Bacon
Prior to moving, I thought I had mastered the art of navigating white spaces—being surrounded by white people didn't strike me as something I’d need to prepare for. However, after I moved, I became more and more aware of strangers’ inherent biases against and irrational fear of black people. At first, I thought I was imagining it. Xavier thought perhaps I was being too sensitive... but soon, even he began to see it.

People we met were never overtly racist, but they seemed to tense up once they saw me approaching them, and they’d relax once they realized I was with Xavier. When he and I would go out, I noticed that people would often intensify their eye contact with my husband so they wouldn't have to acknowledge me. On one fun occasion, a white waitress flirted with my husband all night, then referred to me as "Sister Girl."

These unbalanced interactions became routine, and I started to develop severe social anxiety. As I grappled with the new experience of trying to converse with people who were too scared to engage in sincere and authentic conversations, I started to understand the different nuances of racism. I became very familiar with the word microaggression, and pretty soon, I realized that everything I was experiencing had been happening my entire life… I’d just never fully noticed it.

We mostly continue to face the same changes as every other couple. Even though race comes up, it’s not what defines how we feel about each other.

When my husband was around, these microaggressions—like people touching my hair—happened way less often, if at all. Pretty soon, I stopped leaving the house without him. I didn’t feel safe in the city.

For a little while, I became resentful of my husband; I’d never felt so completely out of place in my entire life. Xavier tried his hardest to sympathize, but how could he have predicted this transition would be so difficult for me, if I hadn’t either? To make matters worse, while I was struggling to find my place as a black woman in a pseudo-liberal city, Xavier was thriving in this "A White Man’s Paradise." My resentment manifested itself in various ways. It ebbed and flowed, changing between tears and anger, and became a very rude awakening for the both of us. I suddenly understood the term for socially conscious people being called "woke." All at once, I felt wide awake.

The tables seemed to have turned. My city-slicker husband had quickly grown accustomed to the homogeneity of his new surroundings, but suddenly, his formerly racially indifferent fiancée was completely hypervigilant about her race.

I started to become increasingly furious with institutionalized racism. While my husband was mostly willing to listen to me, the subject sometimes became a source of contention as injustice after injustice continued to roll in, and examples of race-based police brutality flooded our news services. There were days I felt so heavy from seeing the deaths of unarmed black men go unpunished. A special kind of rage began to fester in me; I was surrounded by white people, all of whom were able to go about their lives during a time of political unrest… and my husband was among them.

When I had lived in Connecticut, I knew I could go home to my family and feel the safety of being among my family members who looked like me and could immediately relate when I told them something was racist. In those conversations, no one ever cast a doubtful look my way or asked, "Are you sure they were being racist?"

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When you’re asked this kind of question at the end of the day, sometimes you’re just too tired to respond. Other times, you have no words to rationalize your humanity to your spouse. The rest of the world is so busy reminding you how very little your life matters, the last place you want to put in that work and explain yourself is in your own home.

As I tried not to slip into a deep depression, I focused on the biggest bright spot in our lives—planning our wedding. Planning a wedding was a way for me to appreciate the positive parts of our experience together. It wasn’t all bad; other than the racism, things were actually really good! We got a Boston Terrier puppy named Ralf Garfunkel. And creatively, I was producing the best work I had in years. Because Xavier was walking the puppy everywhere, he was getting increasingly healthier and svelte. And we were about to get married.

I was regretting the move to some extent, but there was and still is only one reason why I came here: I couldn't imagine a life without Xavier. By then, two years had passed, and regardless of feeling like an alien in my new city, I wanted to believe there was a light at the end of this tunnel, despite the darkness of feeling constantly ostracized by my race. Even though wedding planning had its challenges, the process helped me take my mind off a lot of the negative aspects of my life. It also gave me a chance to introduce the people I’d left behind to our new life together. We had an incredible wedding surrounded by the people we loved most, and it was after that day that I finally started to feel at home.

I tried not to blame my husband for being unable to understand my experience. Since becoming "woke," Xavier has learned a lot about his own privilege. He knows better than to get offended when I talk about dismantling white supremacy, and he doesn't need to chime in with #notallwhitepeople to relieve his guilt. It’s hard to ignore that the world feels like it’s on fire right now, with so much political change happening throughout the country. Still, we mostly continue to face the same changes as every other couple. Even though race comes up, it’s not what defines how we feel about each other. And as with any other marriage, we vowed to love each other forever and no matter what... or at least until the world ends.

Jagger Blaec is a freelance professional journalist located in Portland, Oregon. You can keep up with her on Twitter @basicblaecgirl.

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Why Is "Vogue" Trying to Make It Seem Like Ashley Graham Isn't Plus-Size? http://greatist.com/live/heres-whats-wrong-with-ashley-grahams-vogue-cover?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Why Is "Vogue" Trying to Make It Seem Like Ashley Graham Isn't Plus-Size? Why Is "Vogue" Trying to Make It Seem Like Ashley Graham Isn't Plus-Size? Thu, 09 Feb 2017 13:35:50 -0500 Caroline Olney 11400 at http://greatist.com/ Ashley Graham is one of seven models on the cover of the March issue of Vogue, and that's a really big deal. Graham is the first plus-size model to land the coveted gig:

But as much as we wanted to stand up and cheer on the fashion bible for finally coming around to the idea that plus-size women are beautiful and desirable, the cover left a bad taste in our mouth.

We can't help but think Vogue tried to minimize Graham's size. The other models have their arms out in an embrace, while Graham's right arm is by her side, perhaps covering part of her thigh. (It's worth noting Graham said, "I chose to pose like that. No one told me to do anything.") Then there's the fact that the models are wearing colorful, patterned bikini bottoms, except for Graham. And there's something about the length of Gigi Hadid's forearm and hand that makes us question if it was Photoshopped to cover some of Graham's torso.

It's likely we (and dozens of other people on social media) are overreacting. We doubt Vogue made all of those decisions intentionally—though that doesn't let the magazine off the hook. The cover feels like a horrible game of "one of these is not like the other." It's like being asked to play with the cool girls in school, only to be told you'll never really be like them.

It's a step in the right direction, but it isn't enough. Vogue said this cover was supposed to showcase "modern American women," and while more diversity of size, race, and age would have felt truer to the America we know, we're at least glad to see Graham was included.

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The 12-Minute Core Workout That Helps Prevent Back Pain (and Strengthens Your Abs!) http://greatist.com/move/core-workout-that-helps-prevent-back-pain?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist The 12-Minute Core Workout That Helps Prevent Back Pain (and Strengthens Your Abs!) The 12-Minute Core Workout That Helps Prevent Back Pain (and Strengthens Your Abs!) Thu, 09 Feb 2017 09:00:00 -0500 The Greatist Team 11388 at http://greatist.com/ When your back hurts after a long day at the office, it's easy to think that you need to focus on back strength. But it's actually a weak core that causes most back issues. If the muscles around your spine are weak, the vertebrae and discs aren't properly supported, so add a quick core workout like this one into your regular routine.

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This workout isn't your average abs session. It helps prevent back issues because the exercises target all of the muscles in and around your core, not just the ones you can see. You'll need a small fitness ball, which will support your back and allow you to engage your deeper abdominal muscles. Deflate it a little bit so it's soft and then hit play to get started.

To recap: You'll need a mini fitness ball (like this one) for the routine. An exercise mat is optional. Most of the exercises are performed for 10 reps.

Workout:
1. Core "Fly"
2. High Reach
3. Low Reach
4. Side Crunch (Left)
5. Side Crunch (Right)
6. Stacked-Foot Toe Reach (Right Foot)
7. Crossed Leg Crunch
8. Stacked Foot Toe Reach (Left Foot)
9. Crossed Leg Crunch
10. (Adjust Ball) High Reach
11. Low Reach
-Repeat-

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So... What's Polyamory? Allow This Comic to Explain http://greatist.com/live/polyamorous-relationships-explained-in-a-comic?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist So... What's Polyamory? Allow This Comic to Explain So... What's Polyamory? Allow This Comic to Explain Thu, 09 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500 Tikva Wolf 11223 at http://greatist.com/ Relationships don’t look like they used to (and that's a good thing). But what does it honestly take to make a modern romance work? As part of Committed, we're exploring partnerships ranging from a textbook marriage between high-school sweethearts to a gay couple creating a life together in the conservative deep South.

The first panel of a webcomic by Tikva Wolf
The second panel of a webcomic by Tikva Wolf
The third panel of a webcomic by Tikva Wolf
The fourth panel of a webcomic by Tikva Wolf
Webcomic by Tikva Wolf

Still curious? Check out our Q&A with Tikva Wolf, the creator of this comic and the author of Kimchi Cuddles.

Order Tikva Wolf’s book, Ask Me About Polyamory!, or check out her Facebook page. Her new graphic novel, Love, Retold,will be released this spring and is currently available for preorder.

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Tikva Wolf of Kimchi Cuddles Discusses Polyamory, Sex, and Jealousy http://greatist.com/live/interview-kimchi-cuddles-tikva-wolf?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Tikva Wolf of Kimchi Cuddles Discusses Polyamory, Sex, and Jealousy Tikva Wolf of Kimchi Cuddles Discusses Polyamory, Sex, and Jealousy Thu, 09 Feb 2017 06:58:00 -0500 Jess Novak 11338 at http://greatist.com/
Kimchi Cuddles' Tikva Wolf
Tikva Wolf is the creator of the popular webcomic series Kimchi Cuddles, a story that follows a queer, polyamorous woman and how she navigates relationships, friends, and family.

Based on real life experiences, the story explores a wide range of relationship topics that are relatable to everyone. She uses humor as a way to spread awareness and encourage others to see themselves and each other more honestly.

Jess Novak: What’s the biggest takeaway you hope readers gain from reading Kimchi Cuddles?

Tikva Wolf: The most important message I want to convey is that whatever people truly are is OK. Whether they’re monogamous, polyamorous, straight, gay, genderqueer—who they are is who they’re supposed to be. It’s such a simple idea, but I think a lot of people need to hear it, and I want to be a source of self-acceptance for others.

JN: For a lot of people, the definition of lasting love is monogamy. When a relationship moves from casual dating to exclusivity, that’s seen as an indication of seriousness. Given that exclusivity is such a fundamental aspect of love for so many people, how do you explain what love looks like for you?

TW: I think there’s an assumption that lasting love is more significant, but I don’t think that’s true. People’s needs and desires change over time, so it's important to notice what you actually want to share and experience with your partner, and pay attention if that changes. I just don’t think that a relationship is any more valid because one of you dies before the relationship is over.

There’s also an assumption that exclusivity makes your relationship special. I get it! Sometimes there’s a strong desire to close yourselves off from the rest of the world, especially in the beginning. But I don’t see exclusivity as necessary; in fact, I feel closer when we can talk about our attractions to other people.

If the drive to make a connection with another person is very strong, I want my partner to follow that; I don’t want to inhibit anyone out of the belief that restricting them will benefit me in some way. It’s not been my experience that I get anything from creating that artificial bubble with another person, and when my relationship needs come from a place of fear, that separates me from my partner.

Kimchi Cuddles Webcomic #353 "Without a Box"
Courtesy of Kimchi Cuddles
JN: In your experience, does being polyamorous lead to a more fulfilling sex life?

TW: Yes! When I'm only sharing what I actually want to share with people, I don't end up having sex out of coercion or obligation (which is something I often experienced in monogamous relationships). And when my partners don't see me as the only person who can fulfill a certain role for them, we are more easily able to share the kinds of sex (or any other type of connection) that we most deeply want to share with each other, and everyone ends up feeling a lot more satisfied. I'm never having sex where one of us is just going along with it, and I don't need to suppress any part of myself. All the sex I have now is a really strong hell yes for everyone involved. That's obviously also possible in monogamous relationships, but that simply wasn't my personal experience with them.

JN: One of the scariest parts about transitioning from a monogamous to a polyamorous relationship is the potential for screwing up what you have. What makes the potential risks of a polyamorous lifestyle worth it, and how do you mitigate them?

TW: I understand the desire to be in a relationship without any danger to the status quo, but I also think the idea of safety is imaginary. Being monogamous doesn’t keep you safe from those outside forces; people can cheat on each other, or just grow apart. They might realize they want different things, or they’re just no longer compatible.

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I don’t think that polyamory increases that risk of separation, but it might alter a breakup’s timing. In a monogamous relationship, you can coast for a long time without having to examine things, but in a polyamorous relationship, triggers tend to arise more frequently. I don’t think one way is inherently more enlightened; they’re both valid, different choices.

JN: How do you handle issues of trust and jealousy?

TW: If you really trust your partner and your metamour (that’s your partner’s partner), then if something upsets you, you’ll seek to understand why rather than jump to judgment. If you’re secure, you don’t automatically think, "It’s because she’s a bitch, and she’s trying to upset me!" You come to that person and say, "Hey, this happened, and it really upset me." It’s a lot easier than people imagine.

If there are elements of distrust—or people who don’t understand what they want or how to communicate—life can get difficult. Polyamory is a model that a lot of people don’t have much practice with, so people who are just starting out encounter a lot of bumps when figuring out what works.

The folks behind morethantwo.com have noted that jealousy can be an indicator of something amiss in your relationship that already existed, but you might have been ignoring. Jealousy can be a huge gift, because it encourages you to ask questions like, "What do I feel like I’m lacking in my relationship that’s causing this intense feeling?" Being able to talk about it and uncover those issues is a huge opportunity.

Kimchi Cuddles Webcomic #636
Courtesy of Kimchi Cuddles

JN: While all marriages are unique, do poly marriages tend to share any specific values? What do weddings tend to look like?

TW: Marriage is changing and evolving as people change and evolve, and as we discover more about what we’re looking for. Polyamorous people tend to have a more DIY mentality toward relationships, so when poly people get married—and not all do—their ceremonies tend to reflect that.

Some people want everyone involved, so group marriages can happen. I've also seen ceremonies where one person will marry their partner and then marry their other partner. None of this is marriage in a legal sense, but the ceremony matters; for some, a wedding is a sacred experience between the people sharing vows, some want a sense of being witnessed by their friends and family, and for others, it’s just a celebration.

JN: Being poly and a parent in a culture that’s pretty fearful of polyamory has to have trials. What are some of the expectations you’ve had to confront, and what are some of the joys of being a poly parent?

TW: Initially, I had a fear that being poly would negatively affect my kid—the idea that dating people who weren’t permanent figures in her life would upset her. But that’s just never happened. What kids actually see of their parents dating looks just like friends coming over to make dinner, so she doesn’t register it as any different than that. She’s 7, so she’s just starting to ask about folks’ different roles.

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Her life seems to have benefited from having these extra adults around, many of whom don’t get to spend a ton of time with kids, so they’re fresh and excited to do things we’ve already done 5,000 times that day. I’m not really sure what other people imagine it’s like, but kids in poly households just end up having an abundance of loving adults in their life, giving them attention, helping with homework, offering advice... Dr. Elisabeth Sheff wrote a book about poly families, and her findings indicate that kids raised in these households have a highly supportive structure.

In a traditional marriage, child rearing often falls on the woman. I think that dynamic is a factor in why so many of these relationships end in separation. When there’s more help and creativity in our roles as parents, I think that’s beneficial—whether or not you’re poly.

JN: How do you avoid having hierarchies among partners?

TW: Right now, there’s this stigma against hierarchy in poly relationships, even though sometimes that just happens. If you’re married to someone you’ve been living with for years, and you have kids together, your relationship is going to be different than with someone you started dating last week. That new person isn’t going to get all your bank passwords, for starters.

Kimchi Cuddles by Tikva Wolf
Courtesy of Kimchi Cuddles

To pull back for a moment: "Ethical non-monogamy" is a blanket term for any relationship that isn’t monogamous, but where everyone is in agreement. Some people who fit under that umbrella don’t use "polyamory" and prefer "relationship anarchy" instead. In this, the focus isn’t about having multiple relationships so much as approaching all your relationships as special. I use "polyamory" to mean this, but not everyone does.

The important part is to just treat everybody with respect and not to institute rules that people are uncomfortable with; as long as everybody’s on the same page, it’s going OK. A lot of the time, holidays are a non-issue—everybody can hang out together, or sometimes you’ll have a partner who just hates Christmas, so you’re relieved that you have another partner who you can decorate the tree with. Different people like different things.

JN: So you can enjoy the fact that your partner’s partner gives them something you don’t?

TW: There are different love languages. If you’re someone who is terrible at giving gifts, and your partner really loves gifts—like that’s their main thing—then you might feel really happy if they have another partner who gives amazing gifts. Then you don’t have to worry about it!

That’s something I really appreciate about polyamory. People aren’t expecting these things from me that I can’t do or that just don’t come naturally to me. Nobody’s angrily waiting for me to fulfill a need of theirs that I’m just not capable of fulfilling. It’s such a huge relief to have some of that burden taken off me; this way, I can share with a partner what I’m good at, without this awkward sense of obligation.

Kimchi Cuddles Webcomic #421
Courtesy of Kimchi Cuddles

JN: What’s life as a poly activist been like in the months since the election?

TW: I’ve been nervously waiting to see what’s going to change, and I’m trying to figure out what my role is now. My work deals with the idea that all relationships are equally valid, and also engages with LGBTQ issues, but I’ll probably become more overtly political in the coming months, dealing with more current events than before.

I live in a little liberal oasis in North Carolina, but I’m still in North Carolina, so there’s a lot of intolerance. Many people I’m close to are genderqueer, and people are all puffed up on their intolerance, making them feel unwelcome and unsafe. It’s disconcerting, and gives me a desire to be more vocal.

JN: Your first book just came out, and your second book is debuting this spring. Would you tell us a little about these projects?

TW: Ask Me About Polyamory! is a helpful resource, almost a how-to. It’s very easily accessible—people who are intimidated to read a whole chapter can just read one comic.

Love: Retold is my first graphic novel. The book comes from my life experience but goes into a lot more depth. It’s a polyamorous love story following a character who’s similar to Kimchi as she learns what types of relationships she cares about and why. She comes to a place of discovering what she wants in a relationship and how to also have that with herself.

Check out Tikva's webcomic for Greatist, "The Secret Lives of the Polyamorous."

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3-Ingredient Desserts for When You Just Don't Have the Patience http://greatist.com/eat/easy-three-ingredient-desserts?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 3-Ingredient Desserts for When You Just Don't Have the Patience 3-Ingredient Desserts for When You Just Don't Have the Patience Thu, 09 Feb 2017 06:00:00 -0500 Madison Flager 11369 at http://greatist.com/ Long ingredient lists, four kinds of flour, and hours in the oven? Nah, not our thing. When it comes to baking (and all types of cooking, really), we’re more into a few simple, fresh ingredients. And since dessert is obviously the best meal of the day, it only makes sense to find easy, healthyish desserts that don’t require a huge shopping trip or hours in the kitchen. Next time you’re tempted to run out for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, whip up one of these healthier sweet treats instead—they’re almost as simple as slice ‘n bake cookies, promise.

Flourless Sweet Potato Brownies Recipe
We’re used to seeing bananas or applesauce take the place of flour and sugar in healthier brownies, but sweet potato as a base is a new one. Mix a mashed tater with drippy almond butter (or your favorite nut butter if you prefer), and cocoa powder, and bake in a small pan for 12-15 minutes. Boom: dark, rich brownies that are ready to go.
No-Bake Peanut Butter Oat Squares Recipe
The best part about these oat squares? There’s a pretty good chance you have all the ingredients sitting in your pantry already. Melt peanut butter and honey in the microwave or on the stovetop, combine with rolled oats, and pour the mixture into a lined pan. Refrigerate until set, then cut into squares. Adios, store-bought granola bars.
Mango Coconut Chia Pudding Recipe
For days when you’d really just rather be on the beach, this fruity dessert will bring some major island vibes. Shake up two cans of coconut milk, half a cup of chia seeds, and two cups of frozen mango in a sealed container, and place in the fridge for at least six hours, or overnight... who says you can’t meal-prep dessert?
Banana Ice Cream Four Ways Recipe
Banana is the base in this recipe, but you actually get four different flavor options to choose from: strawberry poppyseed, chocolate peanut butter, vanilla coconut, and mango. By adjusting the freeze time, you can also make this more of a fro-yo texture or a thicker ice cream consistency. Hooray for most customizable dessert ever.
Chocolate Truffles Recipe
These decadent truffles are no-bake and seriously rich. Use a food processor to blend Medjool dates, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract, and roll the mixture into balls. You can coat them in crushed raw pistachios, shredded coconut, more cocoa powder, or goji powder, or enjoy them on their own.
Paleo Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe
Dairy is a Paleo no-go, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy ice cream if you’re trying out the caveman diet. Full-fat coconut milk, maple syrup, and alcohol-free vanilla flavoring or vanilla powder do the trick. Add some blueberries or strawberries on top for an even sweeter healthyish treat.
Peach Creamsicle Recipe
I meannnn, come on?! How fun (and pretty) do these popsicles look? To achieve the creamsicle effect, layer puréed peaches with a cashew cream mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for six hours. If you listen closely while eating one, you *might* just hear the sound of an ice cream truck.

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Why Christie Brinkley Posing for SI's Swimsuit Issue at 63 Is a Big Deal http://greatist.com/live/christie-brinkley-is-fighting-ageism-in-new-si-feature?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Why Christie Brinkley Posing for SI's Swimsuit Issue at 63 Is a Big Deal Why Christie Brinkley Posing for SI's Swimsuit Issue at 63 Is a Big Deal Wed, 08 Feb 2017 13:29:48 -0500 Caroline Olney 11385 at http://greatist.com/ Christie Brinkley is a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition veteran, but she's also 63. Posing in this year's issue makes her the oldest model to ever be featured in the annual magazine. And even though she's white and thin and traditionally beautiful, this move breaks modeling's age barrier in a big way. It pushes back against society's stereotype that people (especially women) are increasingly irrelevant, undesirable, and invisible as they get older.

Brinkley was surprised to be asked by SI and says she wants to use this platform as an opportunity to fight ageism. "On a personal level, I thought, if I can pull this off, I think it will help redefine those numbers and remove some of the fear of aging," she told People.

If Ashley Graham's iconic 2016 Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover is any indication, the magazine is getting better about showcasing diversity among its models. Of course, we'll always need more. But this is an essential step in the right direction.

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Ladies, Tell Your Man It's Time for Him to Take Birth Control http://greatist.com/live/male-IUD-might-take-burden-of-birth-control-off-of-women?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Ladies, Tell Your Man It's Time for Him to Take Birth Control Ladies, Tell Your Man It's Time for Him to Take Birth Control Wed, 08 Feb 2017 11:59:58 -0500 Evin Billington 11383 at http://greatist.com/ Contraception for men has been the same for decades. Finally, science found a form of male birth control that's more effective than condoms, but not as drastic as getting a vasectomy. It's called Vasalgel, and it's a gel that gets injected into the vas deferens to block sperm.

It’s the same idea as a vasectomy, except it’s completely reversible (all it takes is a simple ultrasound to stop it from working) and much less invasive. And unlike the male contraceptive shot that made waves a few months ago, Vasalgel hasn't shown any side effects.

So far the gel has been tested on 16 rhesus monkeys, a relatively small sample. But it was 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancies, so researchers are planning on testing it on humans soon. That means there's a good chance that in the not-so-distant future, men will no longer have an excuse for shying away from long-term birth control.

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14 Healthyish Valentine's Day Gifts That Aren't Flowers or Chocolates http://greatist.com/live/valentines-day-gifts-healthyish-ideas?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 14 Healthyish Valentine's Day Gifts That Aren't Flowers or Chocolates 14 Healthyish Valentine's Day Gifts That Aren't Flowers or Chocolates Wed, 08 Feb 2017 09:00:00 -0500 Molly Ritterbeck 11283 at http://greatist.com/ You know what they say: Couples who sweat together, stay together. Skip the stereotypical flowers and chocolates, and check out these 14 healthyish gift ideas that make sweating with your significant other way more fun. And since Valentine's Day isn't just for the attached, these picks also work for your galentine, swolemate, fit friend, or, hey, even yourself. It's like we made your wish list for you (you're welcome).

Werkshop Floral Leggings
Photo: Werkshop

Roses on her leggings will last longer than fresh flowers—and make her way more excited for her next workout. This pair is made with breathable, quick-dry material, which makes them perfect for a sweaty hot yoga or HIIT class.
Available at werkshop.com, $88.

LL Bean Anorak
Photo: L.L.Bean

You can't protect your loved ones from everything, but you can protect them from the elements with this throwback anorak. The shell will keep them warm and dry whether they're out on the trail or just out and about.
Available at llbean.com for both men and women, $49.95.

Clinique Pep Start Kit
Photo: Sephora
Whether she's a jet-setter or a gym rat, she'll love stashing these Clinique travel-size essentials in her carry-on or gym bag. The kit includes a two-in-one exfoliating cleanser, a moisturizer with SPF, cleansing wipes, a best-selling mascara, and a water bottle to keep her (and her skin) hydrated throughout the day.
Available at sephora.com, $27.50.
New Balance x J. Crew
Photos: J.Crew
One thing your S.O. will actually use all the time: stylish activewear. The newly launched New Balance x J.Crew just released a men's collection with 30 pieces made of technical fabrics in cool color combos that look just as sophisticated-cool as the women's line. Our favorites: the Free Flow tank for women in warm pink and the Ice 2.0 short-sleeve tee for men.
Available at newbalance.com, prices vary.
Hanky Panky
Photo: Hanky Panky

What's an active girl's version of lingerie? You're looking at it. Hanky Panky, the crazy-popular lingerie brand, just launched a new studio collection made of luxe performance microfiber with wicking and quick-dry properties. Each style features Hanky Panky’s renown attention to fit and comfort. Our favorites: the Mia two-tone thong (you'll legit never think of thongs as permanent wedgies again) and the Mia cropped bralette.
Available at hankypanky.com, prices vary.

Saxx Underwear
Photo: SAXX
What's a dude's version of lingerie? These boxer briefs known as the underwear that feels like a "bra for your balls," thanks to the patented hammock-like pouch. This pack features two pairs of the best-selling, slim-fit style in Valentine's Day-appropriate patterns. Seriously, people, our testers refuse to wear anything else. Once he goes SAXX, he won't go back.
Available at saxxunderwear.com, $56.95.
Be Happy Water Bottle
Photo: Aerie
Two things we all need daily reminders for: drink enough water and be happy. This gift checks both boxes.
Available at ae.com, $17.46.
Pendelton Blankets
Photo: Pendleton

If you want to score some extra points with your gift, grab one that has a romantic history lesson attached. These blankets, from the classic American brand Pendleton, are called "motor robes" for the warmth they provided on carriage rides in the early 1900s. They come with a convenient leather carrier and strap so you can take them to the park, trail, or stadium. They also look rustic AF as a living-room throw.
Available at pendleton-usa.com, $99.50.

Lit Kit
Photo: LIT Method

One of L.A.'s most buzzed about studios, LIT Method, just launched an at-home program for its signature low-impact, high-intensity workout. The kit includes all the equipment you need: a resistance band, bootie band, foam roller, and lacrosse ball, plus 12 instructional 30-minute videos led by cofounders (and super-cute power couple) Justin Norris and Taylor Gainor.
Available at thelitkits.com, $89.99.

Coffee Gift Set
Photo: Thoughtfully
Morning workouts and early adventures require one thing: coffee. Gift the aspiring barista in your life this pour-over coffee set. It comes with a wooden pour-over coffee block, quality Colombian beans, filters, and a unique alphabet magnet set for wordplay on the enamel mug. Extra points for sneaking into the box and spelling out a sweet message before gifting it.
Available at thoughtfully.com, $39.99.
Philosophy Dry Shampoo
Photo: Philosophy
Instead of just giving your gal pal her favorite fragrance, give her one that'll save her time in the locker room too. This dry shampoo is scented with the clean, fresh floral scent of Philosophy's best-selling fragrance, Grace. One spritz will instantly refresh and volumize strands, leaving hair soft.
Available at philosophy.com, $24.
Photo: Oakley
Give your love two for the price of one with these stylish shades. Just hanging out? The Reverie frames are sleek and versatile enough for casual wear, but when it's time to work out, they'll stay in place thanks to no-slip nose pads.
Available at oakley.com, $130.
Gym Bag
Photo: Ban.do
This is the bag for the person who never gives up. Plus, it sends a not-so-subtle message to the haters judging you in the Chipotle line after the gym. Uh, bai.
Available at bando.com, $35.
Meditation
Photographed by Julia Hembree

The new date night: stay in, make dinner, meditate. Sounds kind of perfect, right? Give an unexpected gift of zen with a meditation subscription. NYC-based meditation studio MNDFL just launched online video content, so you can follow guided meditation classes in the comfort and convenience of your own home. Expert teachers from a variety of traditions offer simple techniques in a totally accessible manner. More than 50 videos of 10- to 30-minute meditations are available with more content being updated monthly.
Available at video.mndflmeditation.com, $19.99 per month.

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23 Meatloaf Recipes That Are Way Better Than Mom's http://greatist.com/eat/healthy-meatloaf-recipes?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 23 Meatloaf Recipes That Are Way Better Than Mom's 23 Meatloaf Recipes That Are Way Better Than Mom's Wed, 08 Feb 2017 07:45:00 -0500 Anisha Jhaveri 11333 at http://greatist.com/ Let’s talk meatloaf. Whether served for lunch at the school cafeteria or as Sunday night dinner, you've likely had more than your fair share. And though it doesn’t exactly have a reputation as the most interesting or attractive dish (how sexy can a baked pile of ground beef be?), when you throw in a few unexpected spices, leave out the gluten, experiment with alternative proteins, or bake it in muffin form, meatloaf recipes can become a hell of a lot more impressive.

From Paleo versions to vegan interpretations, check out these 23 recipes that give the humble meatloaf a mouthwatering, Instagram-worthy makeover.

Beef

Photo: Paleo Running Momma

Even without any grains to hold it together, this pork and beef-based meatloaf keeps its shape with the help of an egg. The easy maple-chipotle ketchup on top is optional but a great idea if you want to give the simple dish a sweet and spicy kick.

Photo: Kiddielicious Kitchen

The zucchini and onion stirred into the meatloaf already boosts the veggie count in this recipe, but then it goes a step further by swapping out a traditional ketchup glaze for a sweet tomato basil sauce. Meal-prep worthy? We think so.

Photo: All That's Jas

The hidden egg in this dish may be a throwback move, but school cafeteria meatloaf, this is not. A pinch of nutmeg gives it some depth, only two tablespoons of ketchup keep it from being overly sweet, and the four slices of bacon wrapped around make it totally irresistible.

Photo: The Seasoned Mom

Anything baked in a muffin tin is automatically more delicious, and these mini meatloaves are no exception. Using extra lean ground beef and whole-wheat bread crumbs, they’re protein packed, fiber filled, portion controlled, and portable. Doesn’t get much better.

Photo: Sinful Nutrition

With zucchini, spinach, carrots, onion, and tomato sauce in here, this is practically a salad in meatloaf form. Dead of winter or peak summer, it tastes great any time of year.

Photo: Trampling Rose

While ingredients for meatloaf are usually mixed and baked, this recipe cooks them in a skillet first to cut down on oven time and ensure that everything is properly cooked through. Cut the end result into wedges instead of slices and serve like a pizza!

Photo: Blommi

A meatloaf you can set and forget? Sign us up! The ground beef and pork mixture is placed into the slow cooker alongside root veggies and left alone for five to six hours; this is the easiest meat and potatoes dish you’ll ever make.

Photo: Downshiftology

Give your meatloaf a Neapolitan twist by adding in some dried Italian herbs and swapping out a ketchup glaze for a Parmesan and marinara coating. With no flour or bread crumbs in the loaf, it’s a gluten-free way to satisfy that craving for pizza.

Poultry

Photo:

Here’s another Buffalo chicken recipe for your repertoire. This one promotes the famous combo from appetizer to entrée level by mixing the chicken, gorgonzola, and hot sauce with bread crumbs and an egg. It’s much more nutritious than a Buffalo chicken dip, but the flavors are all there.

Photo: Proud Italian Cook

With all the frying that goes on with a regular chicken Parm, it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of meal. But this meatloaf, using ground chicken, a baking method, and just enough cheese without going overboard, is light enough to eat (at least) once per week.

Photo: My San Francisco Kitchen

Even a baked meatloaf can taste fresh if you pack it with summery veggies and chopped herbs... and pour on a tangy balsamic sauce on top. This is one recipe that will fill you up without weighing you down.

Photo: The Suburban Soapbox

When you have no time (or patience) to make enchiladas, make this meatloaf instead. It’s got the sauce, the beans, the corn, and the cheese—but no tortillas means no finicky assembly required. All you have to do is shape the mixture into a loaf pan and bake away.

Photo: Organize Yourself Skinny

While this recipe uses ground turkey for a leaner alternative to beef, a cardboard-like result is the last thing you’ll get. Marinara sauce and a touch of milk keep the dryness away, and with crumbled feta sprinkled in, this is no less hearty than any traditional meatloaf.

Photo: Just a Taste

An American favorite gets the Asian-inspired treatment with sesame oil and a hoisin glaze. It’s the perfect meal for when you want something comforting but also something slightly off the beaten path.

Photo: Family Food on the Table

Next time you make turkey meatloaf, give it some south-of-the-border pizzazz by adding chilies and cheddar to the mix. Top with salsa, dig in, and never call meatloaf boring again.

Photo: Breezy Bakes

This recipe is all about unconventional ingredients: crushed, gluten-free tortilla chips instead of bread crumbs, grated apples, and a brown sugar and sage topping. If you ever doubted the whole “opposites attract” thing, this meatloaf may just make you a believer.

Meatless

Photo: Two City Vegans

This recipe may rely on a common meat substitute (tofu) for its base, but there’s nothing standard about this meat-free loaf. Pecans add texture, black-eyed peas provide an additional source of protein, and rosemary and thyme lend a depth of flavor.

Photo: Apron Strings Blog

Spoiler alert: We’re going to blab the secret ingredient here because it’s too good not to share. Doing triple duty as a binding agent, a source of sweetness, and a texture enhancer, a full cup of dates is vital to making this meatloaf taste like no other.

Photo: Smith's Vegan Kitchen

Not familiar with tempeh? Here’s the perfect way to use tofu’s more fermented cousin. With higher protein and fiber counts than its soy-based counterpart, it makes for one hell of a hearty loaf.

Photo: Veganosity

Roasting the veggies first may be an extra step, but it’s totally worth it. They become naturally sweeter when caramelized in the oven, and when combined with the flavors of garlic and Italian seasoning, they make this vegan dish a meal even meat lovers will get into.

Photo: Contentedness Cooking

There’s a reason that sun-dried tomatoes and basil is such a popular combo—it works in pretty much any dish, and this one is no exception. Here, it adds plenty of flavor to the mixture of lentil and white beans standing in for the meat.

Photo: Strength and Sunshine

There are few veggies more versatile than cauliflower. It can masquerade as rice, replace the spuds in mashed potatoes, form the base of a pizza crust, and now, it’s playing a major role in giving this meatloaf its hearty texture. Pair it with brown lentils, nutritional yeast, and lots of spices, and you won’t be needing more volume, texture, or flavor.

Photo: One Ingredient Chef

With mushrooms, tofu, oats, and lentils, one slice of this is enough to keep you full for a while. There may not be any beef, pork, turkey, or chicken in here, but it’s so meaty that you could fool anyone who didn’t cook it themselves.

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The Things You Do and Don’t Miss Out on by Marrying Your First Love http://greatist.com/live/i-married-my-first-love?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist The Things You Do and Don’t Miss Out on by Marrying Your First Love The Things You Do and Don’t Miss Out on by Marrying Your First Love Wed, 08 Feb 2017 07:30:00 -0500 Jordan Dené Ellis 11285 at http://greatist.com/ Relationships don’t look like they used to (and that's a good thing). But what does it honestly take to make a modern romance work? As part of Committed, we're exploring partnerships ranging from a textbook marriage between high-school sweethearts to a gay couple creating a life together in the conservative deep South.
Jordan, the author, with her husband, Joey
Photographed by Julia Hembree

My husband and I are pretty stereotypical Brooklyn creatives. We live in a Bushwick apartment filled with comic books and art supplies; he and his two partners run the ad agency GrandArmy, and I started the geeky clothing brand Jordandené. We spend our time working, creating, and partying, and at first glance, seem like roll-your-eyes cliches.

So when I was in my early 20s, the fact that I had married young was pretty shocking to practically everyone I met. Responses ranged wildly, from "OMG that’s adorable," to "Really? Why?"

When someone thinks my relationship status is unexpected, my favorite thing is to let them in on all the other details that are even more surprising. I got married when I was 21 to my first boyfriend, whom I met in high school… which we attended with fewer than 80 other people only one day a week.

We were semi-homeschooled in the age just before online classes were a norm. Our parents weren’t thrilled with the public school options available, so we attended a co-op high school in Delaware. Our friend groups overlapped, mostly because he had an unrequited crush on one of my best friends, which conveniently let us slowly get to know one another.

Joey and Joran in Spain
When we got engaged!

He was adorably genuine and sweet, in that Chris Evans Captain America sort of way. We spent many long nights chatting away online and officially started dating the week after my 16th birthday, because my parents wouldn’t let me have a boyfriend when I was 15. We stayed together through high school, our separate college experiences, and into our adult lives.

We never broke up, but we did create our own lives apart from each other. His college was an hour away from mine, which was far enough to create a bit of a long-distance relationship, especially since I didn’t drive. He had an internship in Oregon and spent a summer in London; I studied for a semester in Spain. He spent the last of his college kid savings to come visit me in Sevilla. Between meeting all of my new friends and touring around the city that had become my temporary home, he asked if we could take a trip to the neighboring beach town. While taking a midnight stroll down the sandy shore, he asked me to marry him. I was 20, and we’d been together for five years. It wasn’t even a question.

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I think one of the biggest concerns about marrying someone you meet so young is that you might miss out on more experiences and opportunities to find someone who’s an even better fit. You don’t want to just meet one person, decide they’re it, and stop looking for anything else. What if there’s something better out there? What if you let yourself blithely slide through the steps of dating, engagement, marriage, starting a family, without stopping to consider what you really want?

I decided early on that I wasn’t going to do that. Every day that we were dating, I asked myself if I still wanted to be with him, and promised myself if that answer ever changed, I would do something about it.

This is funny to admit, but a moment from Jane Austen’s novel Emma stuck with me. In an effort to convince her friend not to accept a proposal from a man she deems unworthy, Emma asks, "If you prefer [Mr. Martin] to every other person; if you think him the most agreeable man you have ever been in company with, why should you hesitate?" This question was meant to dissuade a friend from pursuing a relationship, but for me, it became a way to confirm that I was intentionally choosing what I really wanted.

Joey and Jordan at NYCC
At New York Comic Con.

Despite my firm commitment to actively make a daily choice that would make me truly happy, it can be strange to have missed out on an experience that so many of my peers have had. I technically understand how online dating and apps work, but I don’t really get how to make a connection with someone through a profile. I have absolutely no game; my flirting skills cap out at about a 15-year-old level. I got pretty good at crafting a cute response to an AIM away message, but that doesn’t exactly transfer to the adult version of sending a sexy reply on Tinder or to a late-night text. The only romantic experience I’ve ever had started as a teenage friendship, developed into love, and ended in our staying together forever… which isn’t exactly helpful when a friend is trying to figure out what a guy means when he texts her nothing but the strawberry emoji.

Someone joked at my college graduation that I was an old married lady, but by 'settling down' so young, I’ve actually learned the importance of not settling down at all.

In our early 20s, almost all of my close friends were single. I never wanted to stop being in my relationship, but the young, single life did look like a lot of fun. Going out, meeting someone new and interesting, and hooking up with them is just one of those exciting things I never got to do; I haven’t had a first date since I was 16. So when a group of friends is chatting about hook-up stories, I’m not exactly able to participate.

Of course, I also don’t find myself nostalgically comparing the relationship I’m in or the sex I’m having with other—perhaps fonder—memories, simply because there aren’t any. I don’t have to miss the fun aspects of adult single life because I never experienced them. Someone joked at my college graduation that I was an old married lady, but by "settling down" so young, I’ve actually learned the importance of not settling down at all.

Joey and Jordan looking super young.
So young!

It’s easy to fall into a routine when you’ve been with someone for years, which is a very unattractive position to be in at the ripe old age of 23. Staying with the same person for over a decade can make your world seem very small, but I don’t want to let myself stop being interesting or interested in what’s happening outside of the two-person world I live in; I want to keep meeting new people, having new experiences, and learning. For every trip we take together, we take five with other people. Instead of coupling off in social settings, we make sure to catch up with everyone around us. We’re active participants in separate circles: he in the New York design world, me in the growing community of nerdy women. Our honeymoon phase should have ended years ago, but I’m not interested in letting that happen.

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The most important thing I’ve learned by being in one relationship for my entire adult life is that adapting to change is vital. We both went through so many changes in the decade between ages 18 and 28, and we got to go through them together. Some of those changes have been easy and great, and some have been a nightmare. On a day-to-day level, we traded in washing machines and driving for the headaches of laundromats and public transportation. Ideologically, we’ve both shifted politically from being pretty conservative to very liberal, although not at the same time—and there was some serious awkwardness and frustration in-between. We’ve had part-time jobs, freelanced, worked 80 hours per week, and started two businesses, each taking different tolls on our finances, free time, and happiness. And we don’t even have kids yet.

Joey and Jordan out for a hike
Hiking!

In a dating relationship, you can decide which issues are worth fighting for. In a marriage, there’s no option; seemingly unsolvable problems need to be solved, which can teach you a lot about being creative while working through issues. I’ve learned to compromise and adapt every day. Not only has this increased flexibility been very healthy for all of my relationships, it also allows me to enjoy things in life I otherwise never would have. I never wanted to live in a city, and I spent my first few years here planning my escape. I made myself miserable until I realized that this situation wasn’t changing, we weren’t moving, and I could resent that fact forever, or start looking for things to love about New York. I found them.

We’ve been there for each other through nearly all of life’s ups and downs. We’ve celebrated high-school and college graduations, new jobs, personal victories, and every exciting thing that’s happened to our friends and families. We’ve suffered through national tragedies, deaths, failures, and the struggles of making really hard choices. We’ve changed political parties and religious beliefs. We know how the other person makes decisions and how to work through problems together. We’ve learned which issues we simply don’t agree on and which we may never change our minds about.

Joey and Jordan in a cute garden
Love.

I absolutely understand why what we have is rare. For all the beautiful moments we enjoyed, there were so many hard ones. We’ve made a lot of huge changes that the other person had to be OK with, and we didn’t have the freedom that comes with being single. And if you asked me 10 years ago to describe the life I pictured for my future self, what I have definitely isn't that. It’s not four kids and a house in the suburbs, baking cookies at home while my partner works a normal 9-to-5. It’s not being able to plan out exactly what my future looks like. For me, what I have is so much better.

Jordan Ellis founded Jordandené, a geek chic clothing brand for kids and kids at heart. She’s a proud Hufflepuff who loves dressing up and throwing extravagant theme parties. Follow her on Instagram at @jordandenenyc and Twitter at @jordandene.

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7 Recipes That Prove Us So Wrong About Radishes (You've Got to Try 'Em) http://greatist.com/eat/radish-recipes?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 7 Recipes That Prove Us So Wrong About Radishes (You've Got to Try 'Em) 7 Recipes That Prove Us So Wrong About Radishes (You've Got to Try 'Em) Wed, 08 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500 Madison Flager 11332 at http://greatist.com/ When it comes to picking out produce, we all have our staples. Carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes are all usual contenders, or maybe asparagus and Brussels are more your thing. Radishes… eh, more of an afterthought. We think it’s time the pretty pink root veggie gets some more love. The crispy bulbs taste great sliced up and put on a hummus or guac platter, but they also can step up some go-to meals, such as noodle bowls, toast, and tacos. Go ahead, add 'em to your grocery list.

Roasted Radish Polenta Recipe
Roasted pink radishes take this polenta dish from blah to happiness in a bowl. Top creamy polenta with roasted radishes, chickpeas, parsley, and diced scallions, plus a drizzle of olive oil. If a food could taste warm and cozy, this would be it.
Spicy Root Vegetable Noodle Bowl Recipe
Spiralizing new vegetables never gets old, and daikon radishes are the latest addition to our list. Twirl up some carrots and beets while you’re at it, and you’ve got your base to this fresh noodle bowl. Mix tahini, miso, lime juice, and Sriracha for the salad dressing that we didn’t know we were missing (but now we're *obsessed* with).
Grilled Flank Steak with Corn Radish Salad Recipe
Heavy steak calls for a lighter side dish, and this corn and radish salad is the perfect match. Slice radishes, red onions, and parsley, and mix with corn kernels, lime juice, salt, pepper, and coriander. Serve with grilled flank steak cooked with salt, paprika, and cumin.
Roasted Radish and Brussels Sprouts Salad Recipe
If you haven’t jumped on the roasted veggie train by now, this is your time. Mushy, watery Brussels remind us of being forced to finish our vegetables as a kid; crispy roasted ones are waaaay better. Roasting radishes cuts their taste a bit, so if you’re not into the raw spice factor, try them this way instead.
Egg, Avocado, and Radish Rye Toast Recipe
As much as we love avo-and-egg toast, it can get a little boring after eating it every single weekend. Spice it up with thinly sliced radishes and rye toast instead of your usual bread. Crispy veggies + anything pink = a brand new breakfast.
Lentil Tacos With Tomato Radish Salsa Recipe
Let’s taco bout this radish salsa… it’s kind of the bomb dot com. Raw radishes and serrano peppers give it some definite spice, while avocado cream balances the tacos out (sub in Greek yogurt instead of sour cream to make it a touch healthier). Fill corn tacos with black lentils, cherry tomatoes, and microgreens, then top with the spicy salsa and avo cream.
Daikon Radish Fries Recipe

We’re pretty much always on the hunt for healthyish ways to eat fries, and Daikon radishes are a pretty impressive substitute. All you need is coconut oil, salt, and fresh thyme leaves, plus your favorite dipping sauce. Pass the Sriracha, please.

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Lena Dunham Shares the Unhealthy Way She Lost Weight http://greatist.com/lena-dunhams-election-anxiety-caused-her-to-lose-weight?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Lena Dunham Shares the Unhealthy Way She Lost Weight Lena Dunham Shares the Unhealthy Way She Lost Weight Tue, 07 Feb 2017 14:41:20 -0500 Evin Billington 11368 at http://greatist.com/ Lena Dunham has been an outspoken critic of President Trump from the get-go, and she recently revealed in an interview with Howard Stern that Trump’s win even caused her to lose weight.

“Donald Trump became president, and I stopped being able to eat food,” she told Stern. “Everyone’s been asking like, ‘What have you been doing?’ And I’m like, ‘Try soul-crushing pain and devastation and hopelessness and you, too, will lose weight.’”

Dunham’s definitely not alone. Stress can disrupt your eating habits in all sorts of ways—leading to everything from binges to a total loss of appetite.

Given the current state of affairs, it’s easy to get caught up with worry, but in times like these, it's more important than ever to practice self-care. Go for a walk, treat yourself to something, and please, for your own good, take a break from social media.

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This Couple Proves It's Way Easier To Lose Weight With a Partner in Crime http://greatist.com/live/this-couples-weight-loss-story-is-relationship-goals?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist This Couple Proves It's Way Easier To Lose Weight With a Partner in Crime This Couple Proves It's Way Easier To Lose Weight With a Partner in Crime Tue, 07 Feb 2017 13:24:15 -0500 Evin Billington 11367 at http://greatist.com/ Last year, Lexi and Danny Reed turned date night on its head. Instead of heading to their favorite all-you-can-eat buffet, the married couple started cooking food at home. And rather than lounging and watching Netflix, they headed to the gym.

At one point, Lexi weighed 480 pounds, and Danny tipped the scales at 280. Together, they've lost more than 300 pounds and documented every step of the way on Instagram—talk about some serious #couplegoals. Their story shows the power of having a workout buddy and someone to hold your hand on your healthy(ish) journey. Because we could all use a pep talk on those days when we don't want to go to the gym and someone to commiserate with when we're not feeing another salad.

Now that the Reeds are healthier, they can be more active. For their anniversary last weekend, they went go-karting and climbed the stairs to the top of a monumnet—two things they couldn't do before.

Take a look at some of the #swolemates’ photos below.

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Struggle With Anxiety and Depression? Check Out This Nifty DIY Tracker http://greatist.com/live/mental-health-tracker-uses-bullet-journal-technique?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Struggle With Anxiety and Depression? Check Out This Nifty DIY Tracker Struggle With Anxiety and Depression? Check Out This Nifty DIY Tracker Tue, 07 Feb 2017 11:40:38 -0500 Evin Billington 11365 at http://greatist.com/ Dealing with depression and anxiety is tough. When you're in the thick of it, everything seems like a trigger, and it's easy to think things will never get better.

But there's a clever way to keep track of the highs and lows—and remind yourself that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Twitter user Kelly Kale (@TheLifeofKale) shared a photo of his sister's genius solution:

year in pixels
Source: TheLifeOfKale
This DIY tracker is very similar to bullet journaling, but instead of keeping tabs on your to-dos and goals, it tracks your mental health. Every box on the grid represents a different day of the year, and the eight colors denote different feelings: red for awesome, blue for happy, yellow for average, brown for tired, purple for depressed, orange for frustrated, pink for stressed, and green for sick.

It looks like Kale’s sister has already had plenty of good days. Here's hoping there are lots of red and blue squares over the next 11 months.

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We’re All for Being Healthy, but Shaming Kids for Eating Cake Goes Too Far http://greatist.com/live/teacher-shames-mom-for-giving-her-kid-chocolate-cake?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist We’re All for Being Healthy, but Shaming Kids for Eating Cake Goes Too Far We’re All for Being Healthy, but Shaming Kids for Eating Cake Goes Too Far Tue, 07 Feb 2017 10:56:36 -0500 Caroline Olney 11366 at http://greatist.com/ We should be teaching kids what it means to be healthy. But sending a 3-year-old home with a note shaming them (and their parents) for including a slice of chocolate cake in their school lunchbox? That's too far. But it's exactly what happened to one Australian family.

The note comes from a country-wide policy that uses the "traffic light system" to categorize food—green for good-for-you foods and red for the ones you want to avoid.

But that system is flawed. Preaching the idea that certain foods (cake, candy, or fried food, for example) are always evil can set kids up with unhealthy relationships to food. It'd be more helpful to teach moderation—chocolate cake is fine as an occasional treat—and stop teachers from judging a student's overall eating habits based on one lunch.

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6 Things You Think You Know About Long-Distance Relationships but Don't http://greatist.com/live/6-misconceptions-about-long-distance-relationships?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 6 Things You Think You Know About Long-Distance Relationships but Don't 6 Things You Think You Know About Long-Distance Relationships but Don't Tue, 07 Feb 2017 08:00:00 -0500 Molly Ritterbeck 11074 at http://greatist.com/ Relationships don’t look like they used to (and that's a good thing). But what does it honestly take to make a modern romance work? As part of Committed, we're exploring partnerships ranging from a textbook marriage between high-school sweethearts to a gay couple creating a life together in the conservative deep South.

My boyfriend and I live exactly 307 miles away from each other. At a time in my life when nearly all of my friends are planning weddings, honeymoons, and baby showers, I’m over here booking trains, planes, and bus tickets just to spend a few days with my out-of-state bae.

I absolutely dread telling anyone that I’m in a long-distance relationship because most people don't understand, resulting in some blood-boiling responses. Here are the most common reactions I get when I let someone in on the fact that my partner and I don’t live anywhere near each other...and how I would reply to them if I hadn't been raised with as many manners. Sorry, Mom.

1. Wow, that must be really hard.

Uh, yes, Captain Obvious. You know what else is hard? Short-distance relationships, marriage, familial relationships, friendships, professional relationships—all relationships are difficult in some ways and easy in others. My long-distance relationship is not some rare and unique flower just because my boyfriend and I live in different states. In fact, sometimes that makes it easier (no fighting over who ate the rest of the pulled pork leftovers).

Relationships are hard. Period. I’ve experienced a range of them, from long distance to live-in, so I know that there are pros and cons to every situation. You always manage to find a way to make the relationships that are most important to you work. Distance can be difficult, yes, but it isn’t necessarily harder than a relationship with someone who lives down the street from you. It’s just difficult in its own way.

2. But at least you get unlimited “me time!”

I don’t really understand WTF people are talking about when they reference this "me time" concept. Is this when I’m supposedly relaxing in a warm bubble bath, sipping champagne, and being serenaded by Mariah Carey? Because that… doesn’t sound half bad, actually.

Animated gif of hands
Photographed by Julia Hembree

The truth is, I lead a very busy and fulfilling life. But when I do get a minute alone, it doesn't usually feel that luxurious, as I'd love to spend that time with my boyfriend. While I'm very comfortable being alone, I think “me time” is a thing created by couples who've spent so much time together that their identities start to morph into one. Being with someone you love shouldn't feel like a constant sacrifice and being apart from them shouldn't feel like a glorious vacation. When you’re in a relationship (near or far), you should always take some time to be alone. The relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship you have in life, and it’s key to sustaining a meaningful relationship with your partner for the long haul.

3. And you get to spend a ton of time with your friends.

My boyfriend isn’t around all the time, but that doesn’t mean I have to fill that space with a bunch of people. I spend about as much time with my friends now as I did before this relationship. Similarly, if you begin a new relationship, you never want to be that person that suddenly ghosts on all your friends.

If your partner is your best friend, that’s awesome. But that’s also a lot of pressure for someone, and no one person is going to be able to give you every single thing you need in a relationship. My boyfriend and I connect on many different levels, but I still reserve some topics of conversation for the other relationships in my life, like when I call my mom just to vent about whatever seemingly world-ending problem I'm having, or when my intelligent and ambitious female friends and I discuss our careers. That's why we have mothers and girl gangs. My boyfriend is my partner; he doesn’t also have to be my mom and all of my friends too.

4. You two must be really good at communicating.

Um, OK. I’ll give you that a LDR will force you to be skilled at using words to articulate feelings and navigate disagreements rather than, say, physical touch. But it can also be a challenge when you can’t read someone’s facial expressions or body language. You need to get really really good at communicating whether you live 10,000 miles away or 10 feet apart from each other; communication is arguably the cornerstone of every good relationship, and it’s something that requires continuous work and attention. It's not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing.

5. So what will you two do?

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Oh, I don't know, probably just live apart forever. Shrug. I mean, what? If we had that figured out, do you really think we'd be living 307 miles away from each other? I read once that a long-distance relationship is just a promise of a relationship that could be. And honestly, I agree. We've made a commitment to each other to make the most of our current situations while actively trying to figure out a solution to be together and align our individual goals. This may not work for everyone, and it’s actually pretty stressful… so people asking me what we plan to do makes me want to actually explode.

It's no different than asking a dating couple when they're getting married or a married couple when they're having kids. Frankly, it's kind of a rude question—and nobody else’s business.

6. Well, absence makes the heart grow fonder!

Sigh. If long distance has taught me anything about relationships, it’s that we should all be good enough human beings to appreciate and cherish our loved ones whether they’re near or far. It should not take absence, "taking a break," breaking up, going on a business trip, or worse, death, for any of us to appreciate what we have. The grass really isn’t greener on the other side; I’ve been on both sides of the grass, and I can tell you that it’s the same damn grass. What you do with the grass is what really counts. Adore the grass you have. Take the time to care for it and nurture it so it grows into the most brilliant, most beautiful green grass you’ve ever seen, whether that's in your own backyard or 307 miles away.

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A Visual Guide to Spice Combos So You Can Season Like a Champ http://greatist.com/eat/a-visual-guide-to-spice-combinations?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist A Visual Guide to Spice Combos So You Can Season Like a Champ A Visual Guide to Spice Combos So You Can Season Like a Champ Tue, 07 Feb 2017 07:30:00 -0500 Rebecca Firkser 11331 at http://greatist.com/ How many times have you started a recipe only to realize you’re missing four of the spices listed? Or you just downed the best spoonful of chicken tikka masala and wondered what makes it taste so damn good? We’ve found ourselves in these situations before, and we want answers.

We’re breaking down the flavor profiles of our favorite cuisines, and telling you which spices work their magic within the dishes. Plus, for the life-hackers out there, we'll do you one better than just telling you which spices to buy: We’re listing exact measurements for how to make the ultimate spice blend for each cuisine. Add a tablespoon or two to your dish and you’ll be good to go.

guide to spices: Italian

Though more reliant on ingredient freshness than seasoning, herbs (as opposed to spices) play a large role in Italian cooking. In fact, many popular Italian dishes are seasoned with no more than herbs and olive oil. While the most potent flavor comes from fresh herbs, dried will always work in a pinch.

DIY Italian Seasoning Mix:
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

guide to spices: Indian

Indian cuisine varies tremendously based on region, but certain spices reign in many dishes. Indian cooking relies on a strong flavor base of spices sautéed in fat (such as ghee, butter, or oil) before adding protein and vegetables. Though Indian recipes will often call for common spice blends like garam masala, a number of flavors turn up regularly.

DIY Indian Seasoning Mix:
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 dried bay leaf (add while cooking but remove before serving)

guide to spices: Mexican

Heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine, Mexican dishes often incorporate seasoned protein, corn product, beans, and cheese. The chili pepper remains the most important spice in Mexican cooking, as its heat contrasts the heaviness of protein, dairy, and corn.

DIY Mexican Seasoning Mix:
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

guide to spices: Chinese

Chinese food is divided into eight regional cuisines, making it massive in scope and variety: Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan, and Zhejiang. While the dishes that come from each region are distinct in flavor, spice similarities exist. And don't forget to have rice vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce on hand too.

DIY Chinese Seasoning Mix:
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon chili pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

guide to spices: Thai

Thai food relies heavily on (often spicy) seasoning in simply prepared dishes. Though known for its use of fresh herbs and spices, a strong base of dried versions will lend similar flavor to typical proteins served in Thai dishes (think: pork, chicken, fish, and shellfish).

DIY Thai Seasoning Mix:
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ginger powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric

guide to spices: Mediterranean

A cuisine rich in olives (and olive oil), wheat products, seafood, and produce, Mediterranean food’s unique flavor comes from seasoning. Focusing more on herb- and spice-kissed plant-based ingredients than on hunks of meat, Mediterranean recipes will often call for spice blends like za’atar, harissa, and ras el hanout, which are distinct but incorporate some of the same spices and herbs.

DIY Mediterranean Seasoning Mix:
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 dried bay leaf (add while cooking but remove before serving)

guide to spices

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9 Dairy-Free Pizza Recipes So No One Misses Out on the Best Food Ever http://greatist.com/eat/dairy-free-pizza-recipes?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 9 Dairy-Free Pizza Recipes So No One Misses Out on the Best Food Ever 9 Dairy-Free Pizza Recipes So No One Misses Out on the Best Food Ever Tue, 07 Feb 2017 07:30:00 -0500 Madison Flager 11254 at http://greatist.com/ In a perfect world, we could eat pizza every day, and our health would still be *flawless.* Alas, life is about balance, so we aim for pizza Saturday (or Monday or Wednesday, or whatever day you need some extra happiness) instead. Since everyone should get to enjoy a good slice or two every now and then, we’ve rounded up amazing vegan pizza recipes for our lactose-intolerant, dairy-free, and well... vegan friends to try out. They taste nearly as good as the OG, and most include tons of veggies or nuts in place of the white stuff. The trick to (cheeseless) cheesy goodness? Nutritional yeast, cashews, or vegan cheese shreds that actually melt—Daiya and GoVeggie are good ones that you can find in most grocery stores.

Vegan Margherita Pizza Recipe
Photo: Crazy Vegan Kitchen
We know what you’re thinking… umm no, that’s straight mozzarella cheese right there. Thanks to the magic of cashews, nutritional yeast, and apple cider vinegar, a classic margherita pizza sans dairy is achievable, and it looks just like the real thing.
Dairy-Free Butternut Squash Pizza
Photo: Minimalist Baker
Butternut squash is the main star in this savory, creamy pizza, taking the place of standard tomato sauce. Add broccolini, chickpeas, and red onion along with a sprinkle of shredded veggie mozzarella cheese or vegan Parmesan. Pizza meets sweet potato pie.
Dairy-Free Buffalo Chickpea White Pizza
Photo: Vegan Richa
Buffalo and ranch sounds like the ultimate drunchie combo, but this recipe manages to create a pretty healthy version by making a cashew-based white sauce to use in the ranch and a hot-sauce-and-olive-oil Buffalo sauce. We’re all about the filling chickpeas, and melty vegan mozzarella shreds (homemade or store-bought) will make even your dairy-loving friends want a slice.
Dairy-Free Thai Naan Pizza
Photo: Fit Mitten Kitchen
Pro tip: Naan flatbreads make excellent personal pizza doughs and require basically no effort. Top one with a red curry/tomato paste mixture, and add red pepper slices, grated carrots, and chopped onion, plus nutritional yeast for a low-maintenance cheesy taste. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the naan is nice and crispy.
Dairy-Free Eggplant and Caramelized Onion Pizza
Photo: My Darling Vegan
This recipe gives you the option to make your own crust, which we’re all about. But we also know sometimes you want your pizza, and you want it now, so no shame in buying a store-bought version instead. Many groceries have gluten-free ones, if that’s part of your diet. Whatever base you use, the sweet caramelized onions, baked eggplant, and fresh rosemary taste pretty bomb alongside vegan mozz.
Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Pepperoni Pizza
Photo: The Pretty Bee
Warning: This isn't vegan, but it's so good and super easy to make without meat... just leave the pepps off. The basic cheese slice is just as tasty. If you're a meat eater, buy a nitrate-free kind, and lay it on top of tomato sauce and your veggie cheese of choice. Feeling fancy? Make this homemade chunky sauce instead of using a store-bought one.
Dairy-Free Smoky Sweet Corn Pizza
Photo: Keepin It Kind
Okra, tomatoes, and fingerling potato slices aren’t the first veggies that come to mind as pizza toppings, but we’re definitely not complaining. A creamy, spicy sweet corn spread takes this savory pie to next level—you’ll hardly notice the lack of cheese.
Vegan Greek Pizza Recipe
Photo: She Likes Food
We thought feta would be tough to recreate for vegans, but with tofu, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and a few more simple ingredients, it can (easily) be done. Mix with Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and red onion, and your go-to Greek salad is now pizzafied.
Dairy-Free Pesto and Roasted Tomato Pizza
Photo: Delish Knowledge
Raise your hand if you’d be A-OK putting pesto on everything... yeah, us too. Pumpkin seeds add a sweet twist to the sauce, and vegan Parm and fresh tomatoes tie it all together. We’d be down to add some baked tofu or grilled chicken on top too.

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5 Little Ways to Stop Being Stressed and Start Being on Time http://greatist.com/live/be-on-time-for-once?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 5 Little Ways to Stop Being Stressed and Start Being on Time 5 Little Ways to Stop Being Stressed and Start Being on Time Tue, 07 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500 Susie Moore 11255 at http://greatist.com/
No Regrets With Susie Moore
I once had a boss—let’s call her Natalie—who was perpetually late. She would race into the office every morning, stressed and disheveled, and she’d always have to reschedule meetings. I almost had a panic attack once when she arrived just 17 seconds before our flight closed for boarding on an important business trip.

I’ve known a few people like Natalie, and I always think, How do they do it? I mean, isn’t it so anxiety-inducing to always race against the clock? If you take a few minutes for preparation and think ahead, it’s way easier than contending with time as a constant enemy. Natalie’s approach didn’t do her any favors, that’s for sure. Her lack of organization meant she never got selected for leadership roles, and she wasn’t considered for the promotion she wanted. It wasn’t surprising.

The good news is that punctuality is not a gene. Anyone can master it! Yes, even that friend who always makes you lose your table at the trendy new restaurant and the colleague who is consistently 10 minutes late to Every. Single. Conference. Call.

I have four inboxes, a business with several facets, and I live in a non-central part of the city, so I am constantly on the go. Here’s how I manage to stay on (or ahead of) schedule 99 percent of the time!

1. Refuse to take on too much.

Overscheduled people (guilty!) run the risk of being late, because they squeeze more into their calendar than a 24-hour slot will allow. Hey, you can’t fit seven eggs into a half-dozen carton without a mess. This one simple rule will transform your life. Natalie was always going to unnecessary meetings with unlikely vendors and allowing trivial coffee dates to run way over their finish time within her precious working hours.

What can you scratch off the agenda before you even begin today? Get real with yourself here. What can you say "no" to in order to give your best to the stuff that really matters? You know, don’t you? So decline! Delete! Reject that caller dialing you with an unknown number who will hold you up. Say "No, thank you," more than "Well, OK."

2. Set aside a few minutes to plan.

Look at your day the night before or first thing in the morning. Where do you have to be, and by when? What do you have to do, and how long will each task take you? All you have to do is a bit of time budgeting!

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Say you have three tasks to complete, and two meetings that both require a little prep and travel time. Schedule an approximate time for each of the three tasks, and give yourself some extra padding in case you need a little longer than you think. Accounting for error is not only practical, it allows you to zip around without worry. Bliss!

Now you have a gorgeous, on-time day ahead, with zero schedule-related stress. It can be that simple.

3. Have some hacks handy.

Without dry shampoo, an accessory collection that dials up a basic black outfit, and a handbag-ready bright lipstick, getting ready would take me at least 30 minutes more per day. When you have some time-saving hacks in your life, your appearance remains strong in a fraction of the time.

Someone once taught me to decide my outfit for the next day on my commute home every evening. Figure out what’s clean and what will work with the weather to make the next morning that much smoother.

4. Start batching.

Whether you’re planning Instagram updates, sending emails, or even make-ahead meals for the week, batching is a time-saver. Once you’re in a shopping, writing, or social media mindset, optimize that by thinking a few days or a week out. When you’re already at Whole Foods, could you satisfy not just your current craving, but also make snacks for the week? A working mum shared with me the secret of batching meals, chores, and even paying bills online. Try it—you won’t go back.

5. Just lie.

Yes, lie! If late people in your life hold you back, tell them that the event is an hour before it actually is. Tell your perpetually tardy friend that the reservation is for 7 p.m. when it’s actually 7:30. I do this with my husband a few times a week, and I think he secretly doesn’t mind. He needs the nudge.

How will you save time this week, early bird?

Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Her new book, What If It Does Work Out?, is available on Amazon now. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!

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This Woman's Letter to Her Younger Self Is What We Wish We Heard As Kids http://greatist.com/live/the-lesson-in-one-models-letter-to-her-younger-self?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist This Woman's Letter to Her Younger Self Is What We Wish We Heard As Kids This Woman's Letter to Her Younger Self Is What We Wish We Heard As Kids Mon, 06 Feb 2017 12:11:20 -0500 Caroline Olney 11351 at http://greatist.com/ When you're a kid, it's easy to feel out of place. It can happen to anyone, even the people who grow up to be models. That's Dana Patterson's story. The curvy model wrote a letter to her younger self to explain that as much as she used to hate her thighs and her skin and her "Hagrid hair," she's thankful for it all now.

Patterson wants others to share similar letters using the hashtag #DearYoungerMe, so that young girls and boys struggling with loving themselves can learn that beauty doesn't look one specific way. Check out Patterson's full letter below:

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Cooking for Two: 33 Healthyish Meals for You and Your Boo http://greatist.com/health/healthy-meals-for-two?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Cooking for Two: 33 Healthyish Meals for You and Your Boo Cooking for Two: 33 Healthyish Meals for You and Your Boo Mon, 06 Feb 2017 09:00:00 -0500 Nicole McDermott 4700 at http://greatist.com/ Cooking for two can be a tricky skill to master. While leftovers are practical, eating Crock-Pot chili five nights in a row can get pretty old, and eating out can get pretty expensive. These recipes—from breakfast and starters to dinner and dessert—are perfect to enjoy with your girlfriend, boyfriend, mom, dad, or BFF. Each meal is perfectly portioned for two, so grab a sous chef and get cooking.

Breakfast

Cooking For Two: Spinach Burrata Omelet With Avocado Recipe
Photo: How Sweet Eats
Adding greens to every meal can be tough, but this omelet-and-buttery-lettuce combo makes checking off breakfast easy. Spinach and burrata go inside the eggs, while avocado and butter lettuce (plus an easy olive oil and vinegar dressing) join on the side, and are just mild enough that you won't notice you're eating salad for breakfast.
Cooking For Two: Vanilla Overnight Oats Breakfast Bowl Recipe
Photo: Coffee and Crayons
Overnight oats are just too easy to pass up. Make your morning easier by whipping these up the night before, and then customizing with each of your favorite toppings. Nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit are all good options. Breakfast in bed, anyone?
Cooking For Two: Blueberry Peanut Butter Pancakes Recipe
Photo: Table For Two
Is one part of your duo gluten-free? They'll appreciate these healthy pancakes, while the other half won't know the difference. Peanut butter and blueberries make for a PBJ-like flavor and add enough sweetness that you could probably do without syrup.
Cooking For Two: Vegan Banana Nut Muffins Recipe
Photo: Minimalist Baker
Both hearty and healthy, this recipe produces two monster-size vegan muffins made with wholesome ingredients. These babies get bonus nutrition points for the whole-wheat pastry flour, ground flaxseed, omega-3 rich walnuts, and half a banana in each.
Cooking For Two: Healthier Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
Photo: Imma Eat That

Ditch the Pillsbury can and opt for DIY cinnamon rolls for two with a way healthier Greek yogurt icing. Crunchy outside and doughy inside, these honeyed breakfast treats taste like the sinful version but focus more on the cinnamon flavor than 12 sticks of butter or powdered sugar-based frosting.

Cooking For Two: Quinoa Avocado Breakfast Bowl Recipe
Photo: Cookin Canuck
These savory bowls combine quinoa, green onions, tomato, avocado, feta, and a soft- or hard-boiled egg (we're partial to the runny kind). Cook quinoa ahead of time to make breakfast prep that much quicker.
Cooking For Two: Vegan Blueberry Almond Crumb Muffins Recipe
Photo: Cake Merchant

Skip the coffee shop run and make these homemade muffins instead. Made with oats, almonds, and soy or almond milk, these sweet guys are vegan and a step up from the store-bought kind, health-wise. Fresh or frozen blueberries keep them moist.

Cooking For Two: Vegan Tofu Scramble Recipe
Photo: Running On Real Food

Though tofu may not normally be your cup of tea, cooking the budget-friendly protein source just like scrambled eggs is a great way to mask the funky texture (and stay vegan) while adding tons of flavor. Scramble it up with peppers, spinach, and onions, top with avocado or hot sauce, and you’ve got yourself a lean, mean breakfast.

Cooking For Two: Black Bean, Potato, and Avocado Breakfast Burrito Recipe
Photo: Delightful Adventures
Vegan breakfast burritos can seem lackluster if not done right, but these pack in tons of hearty (and healthy) ingredients. Black beans, hash browns, onions, avocado, cabbage, and salsa will keep you full till lunch. Swap the white rice for quinoa to up your fiber or nix it altogether... this burrito is filling enough.

Appetizers/Salads

Cooking For Two: Lyonnaise Salad Recipe
Photo: Olivia's Cuisine
Nothing warms up a boring old salad like a fried egg and bacon. Top frisee (or any other salad green) with bacon strips, Dijon mustard, chopped shallot, a little salt and pepper, and an egg for a satisfying way to start your meal.
Cooking For Two: Watermelon Feta Salad Recipe
Photo: Chef Savvy
Simple, fresh, and a little tangy thanks to our cheesy friend feta, this watermelon and blackberry salad is a simple start to any meal. With a three-ingredient dressing (balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and oil), it's a keeper for when you need a last-minute dinner spruce-up.
Cooking For Two: Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas Recipe
Photo: Tastes Better From Scratch

These gooey quesadillas place black beans, corn, peppers, and onions between melty shredded cheese. Add in cumin and chili powder and cut one up for a spicy start to your meal. For healthier ‘dillas, choose whole-wheat tortillas and Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.

Cooking For Two: Nori Roll With Cucumber and Avocado Recipe
Photo: Chocolate and Zucchini
We don't know about you, but for us, sushi falls into the category of foods we love but that don't fill us up. Solve that problem by making an easy roll at home and serving it as an app for you and your boo. This one's foolproof—just grab cucumber, avocado, a protein (like tofu or salmon), and sprouts, and roll it on up.
Cooking For Two: Cucumber Artichoke Salad Recipe
Photo: Hello Glow
Dinner salads can be a snoozefest, but this one spices things up with hemp seeds, artichokes, parsley, and basil, plus tried-and-true faves likes carrots and cucumbers.
Cooking For Two: Buffalo Ranch Chickpea Taco Salad Recipe
Photo: Veggies Save the Day
Buffalo and ranch are a sauce combo typically paired with unhealthy bar grub like chicken tenders, but the duo gets a major makeover in this vegan salad. Make your own homemade ranch dressing or pick up a store-bought kind (such as Tessemae's or Follow Your Heart), and melt vegan butter and hot sauce to mix chickpeas in before assembling each salad.
Cooking For Two: Crispy Eggplant Caprese Stacks Recipe
Photo: The Comfort of Cooking
Tomato, mozzarella, and basil are a classic combo that everyone seems to love. This recipe shakes things up a bit by adding in crispy eggplant slices coated with flour (try whole-wheat instead of white) and panko bread crumbs.

Dinner

Cooking For Two: Peanut Quinoa Bowl Recipe
Photo: Oh My Veggies
Topped with savory soy and maple baked tofu, these quinoa bowls get double the protein. A homemade peanut sauce goes on top of steamed broccoli, red pepper, chopped roasted peanuts, and freshly grated ginger.
Cooking For Two: Spicy Maple Glazed Salmon Recipe
Photo: Ambitious Kitchen
This salmon sounds like it belongs in a restaurant but can be made at home in less than 30 minutes. Maple syrup, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, garlic, chili powder, and cayenne pepper combine to make a sweet and spicy glaze for the flaky salmon. Serve with Brussels sprouts, sweet potato fries, or whatever veggie you have on hand.
Cooking For Two: Baked Honey Mustard Chicken With Lemon
Photo: My Gorgeous Recipes
Made up mostly of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry, this easy date-night dish is a cinch. Chicken breasts get a big flavor boost thank to lemon, Dijon mustard, honey, and paprika. Serve with broccoli spears and lemon slices on the side.
Cooking For Two: Sauteed Beef With Polenta Recipe
Photo: Sandra's Easy Cooking
This quick, home-cooked meal is perfect for when it’s chilly out. Lemon- and garlic-marinated strips of beef and red onion complement polenta—a.k.a. cornmeal cooked into a comforting, porridge-like consistency.
Cooking For Two: Seared Shrimp Vindaloo Recipe
Photo: Bev Cooks
With carrots, broccoli, onions, garlic, wilted kale, and collard greens, this dinner blends just about every veggie from the produce drawer. Shrimp and vindaloo seasoning—a mix of turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, cayenne, and other spices—finish off the meal.
Cooking For Two: Pesto Chicken Caprese Flatbread Recipe
Photo: Tastes Better From Scratch
While we’ve got a caprese salad stack on the list too, this is a much more substantial version with baked chicken and a flatbread as the base. Thick slices of fresh mozzarella, halved cherry tomatoes, pesto, and chopped basil make for an awesome Italian-inspired meal.
Cooking For Two: Baked Acorn Squash With Quiche Filling
Photo: Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe
This effortless recipe takes just minutes to prepare—whip up eggs, milk, tomatoes, cheese, and chives and pour the mix into seeded acorn squash halves before tossing in the oven to bake.
Cooking For Two: Broccoli Brie and Walnut Rotini Recipe
Photo: Pinch and Swirl

This rich dish combines walnuts, broccoli, and creamy Brie cheese, and can be customized with whatever nuts or veggies you prefer. With only five ingredients and a combined prep and cook time of just 15 minutes, this meal is as uncomplicated as it gets.

Cooking For Two: Greek Stuffed Red Peppers Recipe
Photo: Wry Toast Eats

While traditional stuffed peppers have a ground beef filling, this version uses ground chicken instead, plus quinoa for even more protein. Artichokes, tomato, fresh dill, lemon, and mozzarella bring a Mediterranean touch.

Desserts

Cooking For Two: Peach Crisp Recipe
Photo: Eating Bird Food

A couple of ramekins, a couple of peaches, and you’ve got yourselves two perfectly portioned desserts. The oat- and coconut-oil-based topping is nutty and sweet with just a touch of maple syrup. Serve with a dollop of yogurt or a scoop of healthier vanilla ice cream (we love Halo Top) for an even sweeter treat.

Cooking For Two: Carrot Cake Chia Pudding Recipe
Photo: Happy Health
Vegan cream cheese frosting? Umm yeah, we're sold. Soaked cashews make it possible, and taste deeeee-lish on top of carrot cake pudding, made with almond milk, carrot juice, cinnamon, cardamom, and chia seeds.
Cooking For Two: Raspberry Molten Lava Cake Recipe
Photo: Texanerin
These rich, gooey lava cakes are a must. Coconut sugar, buckwheat flour, and fresh raspberries give them a #healthyish spin, and since they're dairy and gluten-free, you won't feel gross after digging in with your S.O.
Cooking For Two: Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins Recipe
Photo: The Conscientious Eater
PB lovers will go nuts for these sweet muffins, made healthier with whole-wheat flour, cacao powder, nondairy milk, and cacao nibs. If you can't find peanut flour, powdered or regular peanut butter works too, though regular will make the filling a bit thicker.
Cooking For Two: Paleo Brownies Recipe
Photo: A Saucy Kitchen

For those times you’d rather not whip up a full batch of brownies (way too tempting to eat leftovers for breakfast all week), this recipe makes just two in record time. Avocado and cocoa powder makes the brownies super rich, while maple syrup and dark chocolate chips keep 'em sweet.

Cooking For Two: Mediterranean Mango Parfait Recipe
Photo: Tomayto Tomahto
Sweet and flavorful, without added sugar, this fruity dessert is as refreshing as it is tasty. Layer chunks of mango, pistachios, and Greek yogurt, then top with pomegranate seeds (in the shape of a heart if you’re feeling extra lovey-dovey).
Cooking For Two: Vegan Blueberry Tarts Recipe
Photo: This Rawsome Vegan Life
With only five ingredients, these super-pretty tarts are surprisingly easy to make, despite looking like they belong on the Food Network. Put almonds through a food processor, mix with maple syrup and coconut oil, and press into two ramekins or tart tins. Put 'em in the fridge for about an hour, then fill with blueberries and coconut powder. Boom! You go, Top Chef.
Cooking For Two: Avocado Chocolate Pudding Recipe
Photo: Crazy Vegan Kitchen
Upgrade your pudding from powder boxes to homemade with this rich dessert. Instant espresso, sea salt, and vanilla bean seeds add big-time flavor, and coconut cream and chocolate almond milk instead of whipped and heavy cream help keep the dessert in healthyish territory.

Originally published February 2014. Updated February 2017.

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Why Getting Divorced 6 Weeks Into My Marriage Was Honestly a Great Idea http://greatist.com/live/marriage-isnt-for-everyone?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Why Getting Divorced 6 Weeks Into My Marriage Was Honestly a Great Idea Why Getting Divorced 6 Weeks Into My Marriage Was Honestly a Great Idea Mon, 06 Feb 2017 08:00:00 -0500 A.V. Phibes 11268 at http://greatist.com/ Relationships don’t look like they used to (and that's a good thing). But what does it honestly take to make a modern romance work? As part of Committed, we're exploring partnerships ranging from a textbook marriage between high-school sweethearts to a gay couple creating a life together in the conservative deep South.

The author, Alia, on her wedding day, looking not especially excited to be there
My wedding day
"So, when are you getting married?"

At some point, most of us have heard this question from well-meaning friends or relatives. The frequency increases if you’re in a relationship, and even more so if you’re of the age that people associate with "settling down."

And why not? We’ve been primed our whole lives to think that getting married is a goal we all should achieve, lest we die alone in pathetic failure, surrounded by cats and pitied by society.

How many movies have you watched that end with a wedding, presented as the ultimate expression of happiness? How much praise and admiration have you seen women receive when they can show that they "got the ring?" In the world of dating, even when you try to take it slow and date casually, you know underneath that your ostensible goal is to find "the one." It’s easy to internalize the idea that getting married is practically a must; it’s an accomplishment, a victory. It’s demonstrable proof that you are worthy of love.

And so, when my live-in boyfriend of six years pulled out that diamond ring, of course I was thrilled. I had won the game, right? But once the initial excitement wore off, a lingering dread started to set in: Now I would have to plan a wedding and, after that, the rest of my life. Is this what I wanted for the rest of my life? Did I even know what I wanted for the rest of my life? Did it matter? I wasn’t getting any younger, and someone wanted to marry me. This was the dream, right?

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In hindsight, I think this line of reasoning is why I went ahead and got hitched despite the many, many red flags indicating that I absolutely shouldn’t. In hindsight, of course my marriage spectacularly crashed and burned.

By the time I married my boyfriend, I was already having an affair with a stranger I’d met at my bachelorette party, and had to down a few glasses of champagne to force myself down the aisle. In the moment, my reasoning was that I’d already paid so much for the wedding, and everyone was already there. I kept telling myself that I had invested too much time in the relationship to back out.

The marriage lasted a whopping month and a half before he kicked me out and subsequently served me divorce papers via breakdancer (get it? I GOT SERVED). Being newly homeless, I ran off on a lark to live on a tropical island. My family was pretty mad at me, his family stopped speaking to me, and everyone thought I was crazy. It was pretty much the opposite of a happy ending. If marriage is considered a success, then failure at marriage is considered a particularly shameful failure, and mine was an epic fail.

Out of the wreckage, however, emerged an important revelation: Marriage isn’t for everyone, and it definitely isn’t for me. I don’t consider my marriage a "starter marriage," and I’m not telling myself, "The next time will work out!" The real lesson I learned is that I am not the marrying kind. It’s unfortunate that I had to get married to figure that out, but in the end, I’m just glad to know this about myself.

I’m not saying that getting married is a bad idea, or that nobody should get married, ever. Maybe you are the marrying kind. Maybe you want to share everything with one special person forever. Maybe you want to raise a family, or you hate sleeping alone, or you want to feel taken care of. Maybe solitude makes you anxious. Maybe you don’t like cats. If that’s the case, go forth and prosper! But don’t get married—or stay married—just because you think you should.

With my 20/20 hindsight, it’s easy to see that I was never going to be the marrying kind. I had always been independent, I didn’t want to have kids, living with another person and sharing financial burdens stressed me out, and I constantly fantasized about having my own place. I was bad at compromising, and had a tendency to just give in to avoid conflict, then harbor secret resentments.

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Even though I had managed to stay monogamous for seven years, it was more from lack of opportunity than lack of desire; throughout my relationship, I constantly had crushes on other people. In the end, I just didn’t have the emotional energy to take care of another adult until we died. When we were just drifting along in our lives, it was easy for me to be in denial, but getting married forced me to consider whether or not I wanted this relationship to last the rest of my life. Of course, the answer was a resounding no.

As I packed up my things to be put in storage, I cried. I cried because I was losing the home I was emotionally and financially invested in and because I knew I was hurting my husband, and it always feels crappy to know you’re hurting someone, even if it’s for self-preservation. We were fighting up to the last, and since I had conceded to the "bad guy" role (the cheater is always the bad guy, right? That’s the narrative), I felt like I just had to suck it up and take all the blaming and shaming.

As I looked, red-faced and teary-eyed, out the bedroom window, I saw the phrase "Life Is Beautiful" written across the roof of my moving truck. I still believed that it was and that it would be even more. In one of our pre-divorce fights, I had told my husband, "I don’t feel like my life is my own anymore." Now, I was excited to take my life back. Underneath the feeling of mourning, there was a tickle of giddiness at the knowledge that I was about to be free.

A truck parked outside a Brooklyn window, "LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL" painted on the top
It's true!

Once I was settled in my own place, I kept waiting to miss him. Surely you can’t spend seven years with someone and not feel a void when they’re gone, right? I waited, but it never happened. I never missed him. All I could feel was relief. I felt unburdened and light, like a huge weight had been lifted off me. I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, without consultation or negotiation, and I wasn’t responsible for anyone’s emotions but mine.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t just go back in time seven years to when I was last single. The world had moved on: The economy had changed (my small business was in shambles), rents had gone up, opportunities had decreased, technology had advanced, and I had to reconstruct my life accordingly with no partner to fall back on.

The author, Alia, and her extremely cute cat.
Here we are, fully in love.

But I started online dating (which is much more fun if you’re just trying to meet people and not looking for something serious), and I experimented with jobs and living situations. I lived alone in a cabin in Honduras and with roommates in Brooklyn. I did an artist’s residency in Mexico, worked at a pizzeria in Nebraska, and a cleaned rooms in a hotel in Florida. Through some struggles and trial and error, I gradually came to feel like my life was my own again. I was living and making choices on my own terms. Even my emotions were my own again and not being dictated by someone else who thought they knew better than me how I "should" feel.

Five years later, I’m still living happily on my own. I eventually moved to Mexico with nothing but two suitcases and my cat, and started over. Since my divorce, I haven’t felt alone or lonely. When you stop putting all your emotional expectations and dependency on one person, you learn to cultivate better and deeper relationships with everyone else in your life. My family has mostly forgiven me for my disaster marriage (although a lot of them still think I’m crazy). I’ve had friendships, flings, and romances, but I’m no longer looking for "the one." I no longer believe in the idea of "the one." In fact, I think that maybe I am my own "the one," and the idea of growing old alone, surrounded by cats, sounds pretty much like heaven.

A.V. Phibes is an artist living in Mexico with her soulmate, who is a cat.

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Finally, Models Call Out Fashion Week for Promoting Disordered Eating http://greatist.com/live/iskra-lawrence-calls-on-fashion-week-to-be-inclusive?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Finally, Models Call Out Fashion Week for Promoting Disordered Eating Finally, Models Call Out Fashion Week for Promoting Disordered Eating Fri, 03 Feb 2017 14:00:49 -0500 Evin Billington 11336 at http://greatist.com/ Leaders in the fashion industry don't like to acknowledge the pressure models are under to be thin—extremely thin. It's not just unhealthy, studies have shown it more or less promotes eating disorders. After years of mostly being silent, a growing number of models are finally calling out the fashion world.

Dozens of models, including Iskra Lawrence and Geena Rocero,
wrote an open letter to New York Fashion Week designers, demanding they "prioritize health and celebrate diversity on the runway." The models know petitions can easily fall on deaf ears, so they have a plan—an incentive—to get designers to listen.

Together, the models involved have millions of followers on social media. Designers who work to increase diversity on the runway will be recognized on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and those who don’t will be ignored. Simple as that.

Fashion Week starts February 9, and we can’t wait to see if designers listen to the message and include diverse bodies on the runway. In the meantime, go ahead and read the open letter in full below:

Dear Members of the American Fashion Industry,

As models, we care about each other’s health and wellbeing. As we look toward New York Fashion Week, we strongly urge you to prioritize health and celebrate diversity on the runway this season.

Concerns about the fashion industry’s promotion of extreme thinness are nothing new but a recent research study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders confirms that unhealthy weight control practices are a serious problem in the industry. Too often, models are being pressured to jeopardize their health and safety as a prerequisite for employment.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health concern and survivors often suffer irreversible damage to their health. That is why we have teamed up with the Model Alliance and the National Eating Disorders Association to address this issue.

Together, we are challenging you to make a serious commitment to promote health and diversity on the runway. Through our social media platforms, which collectively reach millions of people, we will recognize the industry leaders who step up to this challenge. Specifically, we will keep an eye out for diversity of race, size, age, and gender status, and we hope to see diversity within and across all of those categories.

No one likes the hassle or expense of increased regulations and paperwork. However, data shows that the American fashion industry has yet to prove that it is capable of following healthy practices on its own.

Now more than ever, we have an opportunity to send the message that diversity is what makes us strong. We sincerely hope that all of you—from designers and editors to agents and casting directors—will collectively harness the industry’s creative power to be forward thinking, inclusive, and do the right thing.

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This Is What Mariah Carey Wears to Work Out. Obviously It's Extra http://greatist.com/live/see-how-mariah-carey-works-out?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist This Is What Mariah Carey Wears to Work Out. Obviously It's Extra This Is What Mariah Carey Wears to Work Out. Obviously It's Extra Fri, 03 Feb 2017 12:01:42 -0500 Evin Billington 11335 at http://greatist.com/ Stars: They’re just like us. They try to eat healthy, stay in shape, and... go to the gym in heels and fishnets? If you're Mariah Carey, that's your athleisure of choice. Oh, and don’t forget the silk bomber jacket, dangling jewelry, and perfectly styled hair. While Carey looks fabulous as always, it’s probably not a great idea to attempt to do Jacobs Ladder (basically a more hellish version of the StairMaster) in pointy pumps. We’ll stick with our Nikes.

Get a glimpse of Carey’s fashionable gym routine below, but don't try this at home.

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The 30-Minute Yoga Flow That'll Make Your Butt Burn Like a Mother http://greatist.com/move/yoga-workout-30-minute-flow-that-targets-your-butt?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist The 30-Minute Yoga Flow That'll Make Your Butt Burn Like a Mother The 30-Minute Yoga Flow That'll Make Your Butt Burn Like a Mother Fri, 03 Feb 2017 07:30:00 -0500 The Greatist Team 11270 at http://greatist.com/ Nothing can Netflix and chill as well as your glutes. Seriously. When we sit on our butts all day, our glutes (the muscles that make up your butt) have the luxury of being fast asleep. But in order to keep your glutes strong and firing properly when you are off the couch, wake them up with a quick 30-minute workout like this one.

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You may not immediately think of yoga as the go-to exercise for glute activation, but this flow will definitely get your buns burning—in the best way. Yoga instructor Julie Montagu gives clear verbal cues on how to engage those major muscles and where you should feel it, so you're not awkwardly wondering if you're doing this right. Trust us, the people who've done this workout are raving about it. All you need is a yoga mat; then hit play to get started.


Looking for more short and effective at-home workouts? Grokker has thousands of routines, so you’ll never get bored. Bonus: For a limited time, Greatist readers get 40 percent off Grokker Premium (just $9 per month) and their first 14 days free. Sign up now!

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7 Date-Night Desserts to Make at Home 'Cause Your Couch Is Better Than a Bar http://greatist.com/eat/easy-dessert-recipes-for-date-night?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 7 Date-Night Desserts to Make at Home 'Cause Your Couch Is Better Than a Bar 7 Date-Night Desserts to Make at Home 'Cause Your Couch Is Better Than a Bar Fri, 03 Feb 2017 07:15:00 -0500 Rebecca Firkser 11271 at http://greatist.com/ So you're sitting on the couch, watching a movie with your significant other. You both really want dessert, but aren't looking to make a 9-inch pie or 30 cookies. You may reach for the carton of mint chocolate chip tonight, but next time you're going to make a dessert just the right size for two. Not sure how? Let this week's featured foodie, Haley Hunt Davis of Brewing Happiness, take it from here. Grab a couple of spoons and get ready.

brewing happiness: Coconut Quinoa Cake

This super-soft and moist (we said it) sheet cake gets its lighter-than-air quality from fluffy cooked quinoa and finely shredded coconut. Top with gobs of honey for added joy.

brewing happiness: Berry Cobbler

Sometimes you can’t beat a classic berry cobbler, so pull out this recipe to please your vegan friends. Use blueberries and blackberries in your first batch, then get creative and try peaches and raspberries or strawberries and rhubarb.

brewing happiness: Raspberry Cream Popsicles

In case you were wondering, any dessert that contains freeze-dried raspberries and pistachios will make you feel instantly more fancy. So go ahead, make these petal-pink popsicles tonight (and no, “it’s winter” isn’t an excuse).

brewing happiness: Banana Pudding

This banana pudding thickens overnight thanks to chia seeds. Layer the pudding between simple almond flour cookie crumbles and rich coconut whip. This dessert may take a bit of planning, but ooooh boy, is it worth the wait.

brewing happiness: Berry Waffles

If you like to have dessert first, it’s time to make these citrus and fruit-topped waffles. The vanilla bites are practically begging to be smothered in berries, lemon cream, and a blizzard of powdered sugar.

brewing happiness: Tahini Chocolate Pudding

If you’ve been known to add peanut butter to chocolate, allow us to exchange your PB with tahini. When this smooth sesame paste blends together with chocolate pudding (which is totally vegan, thanks to magic avocados), something truly delicious happens. You won’t want to miss out.

brewing happiness: Vegan Ambrosia Salad

Traditional ambrosia salad may be a mess of marshmallow and too-sweet fruit, but you’ve got to give this paired-down version a try: Coconut milk makes a less-intense creamy base, and adding a bit of honey to plain or frozen fruit still lends plenty of sweetness.

Haley Hunt Davis is the voice behind Brewing Happiness, a food blog dedicated to celebrating healthier choices. Haley makes “health-ified” versions of everyone's favorite foods, like pizza and chicken nuggets, as well as suggestions for how to make every dish fit one's lifestyle. For more from Haley, follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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Why Losing Your Virginity Probably Wasn’t So Special After All http://greatist.com/live/why-we-are-obsessed-with-virginity?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Why Losing Your Virginity Probably Wasn’t So Special After All Why Losing Your Virginity Probably Wasn’t So Special After All Fri, 03 Feb 2017 07:00:00 -0500 Sean Patrick Mulroy 11284 at http://greatist.com/ It’s 2001, and it’s finally happening. After years of whispering the names of various superheroes and members of my multi-denominational Christian touring choir into a pillow, I’m finally going to lose my virginity. My dashing 17-year-old paramour, Steve, has lain me down on his mom’s living room couch, where the smell of our pilfered cigarettes hangs in the air, and our half-finished bottles of Bud rest on the edge of the glass coffee table. The trailer park is quiet tonight, and Steve’s mom is out of town. He and I did not spend as much time studying Latin together as I thought we would, but as the weight of his torso falls over me like a curtain of hormonal moonlight, I regret nothing.

His mouth is making its way up my neck in small, damp kisses, his breath heavy with smoke and beer. As he grabs my thighs in his hands and pushes my knees apart, I begin to literally tremble with naïve anticipation. Grazing my earlobe with his tongue, he whispers,What’s wrong with you?

He stops and sits up suddenly, looking down at me. Why are you shaking?

Because, I say, I’m afraid.

Of what?

You. I watch a realization drop through his mind like a quarter into a jukebox.

Wait, is this your first time?

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Our cultural obsession with doing the nasty is something that all sexually active people have to confront if they’re going to be comfortable pursuing their own pleasure. We’re inundated with opinions and information about every aspect of our sexual identities, from advice columns and Kamasutra photo books to Cosmo’s sex quizzes and religious tracts handed out on street corners.

Sex sells, but virginity—and the supposed loss of virtue that goes along with it—is also a multimillion dollar industry. While we imagine ourselves to have evolved past the days of The Scarlet Letter (or even 16 Candles), virginity still fascinates us; it inspires prurient interest in the lives of teenage celebrities (remember the Jonas Brothers?), and first-time penetration is an entire genre of pornography.

Losing your virginity is often referenced in our favorite songs; from The Shirelles’ "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," to Meatloaf’s "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," and 2 Live Crew’s "Me So Horny." It seems that every genre of music has hashed out heavy petting at one time or another—even opera. Ravel’s "Bacchanale," for instance, from the opera Daphnis et Chloé, has more sensual moaning than the extended cut of Donna Summers’ "Love to Love You Baby."

Sean, the author, in high school, wearing a white tank top
At 17, the endemic gay body dysmorphia compelling me to wear a shirt in the rain.
Though I am loudly and enthusiastically vocal in support of sexual liberation, the circus that centers on the idea of our "first time" feels alien to me. You can trace the root of our obsession with virginity from the days when women were married off as an exchange of property, and while an international trend of surgical "revirginization" for women is primarily confined to fundamentalist societies overseas, we hold massive rallies all over America to encourage Christian youth to save themselves for marriage.

But as women are increasingly perceived as independent people with their own sexual agency, we’ve chosen not to abandon the concept of virginity, but to broaden it—now men can be virgins too. Why are we continuing to place such value on what is essentially a kind of inexperience? Psychologically, our obsession with our first time could stem from something as simple as the primacy effect, which indicates that first experiences are more vivid by definition. Think of it like this: You might remember in detail the first time you were naked in front of someone… but do you remember the third? How about the eighth?

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This doesn’t explain why we continue to think of virginity as something we still want to hold onto, however. Can you imagine if we held a lack of experience as a recommendation of character for literally any other area of adult life, like parenthood, or employment?

I couldn’t tell you why, but that night with Steve, when he declined the chance to punch my v-card, I felt more respected than rejected. Afterward, it seemed like when and how my first time happened would be a pretty big deal. Of course, my recollection of the event itself is much like any other memory: washy footage of a sweat-fogged window, a vaguely salacious disappointment. It’s become one of the more reliable conversation-starters on a slow date, however, right behind,When did you come out? andWhen did you first realize you were into boys?

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My first time was super hot, actually, I’m telling Jake, a Midwestern boy in his mid-20s, who works in public policy for the city of Madison. It’s our first date, and he’s asked. I’m at one and a half glasses of cab sav on an empty stomach, which is to say that I’m just tipsy enough to get personal but not in the awkward way. So I skip the story about Steve and how he refused to have sex with me that night in the trailer park, how he’d insisted that my first time had to be with "someone special," or how I spent the last months of my junior year hung up on him—a boy who thought that he was doing me a favor by refusing to make love to me.

Instead, I get right to the good part, where I give it up my freshman year of college to a high-school sex addict on a school night. His parents were asleep in the next room, and so I climbed through his window, and we made love in total silence. He broke me in with a hand over my mouth, my eyes searing a hole in the ceiling of his bedroom.

It’s a good story, just a little scandalous, I think, but Jake has never been with a man before, and I can tell from how he says good night that he is not going to call again. It’s OK; at least he paid for the oysters. But I think we had a good enough time that I wonder if he would have taken me out again had I told him the truth:

I don’t believe in virginity, not really. Not beyond the slight preoccupation of a momentary fetish, or a kind of anecdote that people tell to classify themselves as a particular kind of lover: forceful, exotic, romantic, naughty, brave. Honestly, I don’t know how much of me there is to be discovered in that silent bed, the whispers of heat, the swiftness with which my partner ushered me out of his house after it was done. I walked back to my car, parked down the cul-de-sac so as to not arouse suspicion. I stared at my reflection in the rearview mirror, and was disappointed at how little I had changed.

Sean, the author, as a higher schooler
As a teen, considering my own reflection in the world's least intentional gesture of hipster irony

The first time I’d have sex that really mattered wouldn’t be for another decade or so. I’d meet a man in France with a childlike mischievousness to him, who’d have a new smoke rolled between his fingers every time I looked away. Who’d reach out for my body with a kind of confidence and unrelenting hunger that made me feel sexier than I’d ever thought possible. There’d be something different about him, a sweetness, a vulnerability that demanded I be vulnerable too.

One night, he’d stretch beneath me in his bed, a smile spreading on his face so beatific and pure, you’d have thought that we were doing the most wholesome, natural thing in the world. And we were.

Sean Patrick Mulroy currently lives in the Midwest, where he is an MFA candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Follow him on Twitter @thevanisher, where he still won't shut the hell up.

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6 Useful Tips for Spending Less on Meat at the Grocery Store http://greatist.com/eat/tips-for-buying-meat-on-a-budget?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist 6 Useful Tips for Spending Less on Meat at the Grocery Store 6 Useful Tips for Spending Less on Meat at the Grocery Store Fri, 03 Feb 2017 06:45:00 -0500 Phoebe Lapine 11240 at http://greatist.com/ Good news for meat eaters, Paleo lovers, and Whole30ers: It's possible to keep up with your animal-protein habits without spending last week's paycheck at the grocery store. Whether you eat meat every day, because that's what makes you feel your best, or you like dabbling once or twice per week to get in your protein fix, buying meat can get pricey. But it doesn't have to... unless you're one of those filet-mignon-only kinda folks. The world of meat is so much more than that tender cut of beef, and we'll open your eyes to what's out there. Save a dollar (or 10) by following these tips.

1. Buy the whole animal.

OK, we aren't talking about bringing an entire pig home with you and having a roast (although, if you have the setup, we're jealous, and you should do it). We're mostly referring to chicken. It seems so easy to just buy the breasts, but when you're talking about price, it's best to buy the whole dang bird. This really goes for other types of animals too, because any labor incurred at the butcher counter gets added to the price tag. Boneless pork chops and rib eyes will be pricier than bone-in, and let's not even talk about prechopped stir-fry meat. Plus, buying the whole animal means you'll be able to use scraps for other nutritious creations (see No. 4).

2. Think outside of filet mignons.

One way to make meat eating more sustainable for the environment (meaning that you can utilize more of what the animal has to offer) is to diversify your meat selections and start integrating lesser-known cuts into your cooking routine. These less-common cuts are usually the more affordable ones, so it’s a double win. Ask your butcher to recommend some cheaper options from the case (since they’re used to going home with the stuff no one else wants... mainly because the customers don't know what it is). A few reccos you might hear for steak are:

  • Instead of rib eye: Denver, underblade, or chuck eye
  • Instead of beef tenderloin: Teres Major (known as faux filet)
  • Thinly sliced sirloin meat or short ribs make for a flavorful stir-fry

When it comes to affordable roasts, they can be sourced from many parts of the animal. Fattier, tougher cuts like these usually benefit from a low and slow braise, which makes them perfect for wintertime stews and roasts:

  • For pork: Try the collar, shoulder, or butt
  • For lamb: Go for a whole leg or sirloin roast

3. Embrace offal. (We swear it's not awful.)

Now that we’re acquainted with less popular cuts, it’s time to get comfortable with the “nasty bits” that really aren't so nasty after all. Offal refers to an animal’s organ meats. Common varieties are liver, brains, intestine (tripe), thymus gland or pancreas (sweetbreads), tongue, kidney, heart, bone marrow, and of course, the good old pig ear. Some of these items might be hard to, er, stomach given what they look like in the case. But if you can get past that, you’ll be doing your own organs a favor. Eating organs (preferably those from an animal raised with an organic or grass-fed diet) can provide a vast array of nutrients.

Interested? Organ meat takes a little more skill, time, and love to make palatable, so you may want to do some research when looking for the best recipe. Here's a gateway dish to get you started: Healthy Chicken Liver Pate.

4. Make bone broth.

Bone broth is (literally) so hot right now in the wellness world. The concept is similar to any homemade stock, but by simmering the animal bones for longer than usual, it's believed that the bones break down, releasing collagen (to help with joint health) and gelatin (believed to help with digestion, in addition to calcium and vitamins C, D, and E). While the jury's still out, it's worth a try.

Now that you’re cooking the whole animal, hold onto your discarded bones. Add them to a plastic bag and store in your freezer until you have enough to fill a large stockpot (about 2 pounds). Add in any other spices and herbs—garlic, onion, veggie scraps, peppercorns—and simmer on low for as long as you have the patience for, adding more water as the broth reduces.

5. DIY your deli meat.

Many people turn to packaged meat as a quick lunchbox filler or, for the jerky lovers, a high-protein, on-the-go snack. But smoked turkey might not be the only thing you're getting in that plastic sleeve. Processed meat products have been classified by the World Health Organization as carcinogens due to numerous chemicals and preservatives that have been added to some sausage, salami, and deli meats. While you can try to read labels and opt for nitrate-free bacon and organic, minimally processed sliced ham, there are a few easy ways to make alternatives at home, where you can control sodium and sugar content.

DIY Beef Jerky: Make your own fresh version by combining ground meat with your favorite spice combos or chicken sausage with olives and oregano. All you need is a baking rack and an oven set to the lowest possible temperature (170 degrees) to let the meat slowly dry. Here's a step-by-step method if you're brave enough to try!

6. Consider quality meats.

By now you’ve probably heard about the benefits of going organic for everything from your veggies to your counter cleaner to your hair gel. It's the same for meat, particularly because of hormones and antibiotics added to conventional versions. Added hormones is one reason 160 countries have banned US pork: The drug ractopamine gets added to feed to keep animals lean. In humans, it acts as a stress hormone, raising many red flags for health concerns, particularly in the heart disease department. [About the human health safety estimation of ractopamine intake together with the food]. Onishchenko GG, Popova AIu, Tutel'ian VA. Vestnik Rossiiskoi akademii meditsinskikh nauk, 2014, Jan.;(6):0869-6047.

Consider eliminating unnecessary antibiotics from your diet by switching your order at the butcher counter to organic. Meat quality and health implications of organic and conventional beef production. Kamihiro S, Stergiadis S, Leifert C. Meat science, 2015, Sep.;100():1873-4138. We know what you're thinking: Organic = more money and this is an article about saving?! We say try to go organic if you're cooking for one or two, but when it comes to a crowd, you do you and select whatever meat you please.

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Here's Why Everyone Is Rapping Over an Old Beyoncé Song on Twitter http://greatist.com/live/people-are-rapping-their-insecurities-over-beyonces-ego?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Here's Why Everyone Is Rapping Over an Old Beyoncé Song on Twitter Here's Why Everyone Is Rapping Over an Old Beyoncé Song on Twitter Thu, 02 Feb 2017 14:12:23 -0500 Evin Billington 11326 at http://greatist.com/ Beyoncé made waves on social media this week, and we’re not just talking about that iconic pregnancy announcement. Her 2008 hit "Ego" inspired musician Jane Oranika to kick off the #EgoChallenge where people rap about their insecurities over Queen Bey's self-confidence anthem.

Oranika took two features people used to make fun of—the gap in her front teeth and her weight—and put together a verse explaining how her supposed flaws are now a source of pride.

The challenge quickly took off. Even Orange Is The New Black star Danielle Brooks joined in with a stellar rap of her own:

And here are three more kick-ass entries:

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Pornhub Wants to Teach You About Sex, but Not in the Way You're Thinking http://greatist.com/live/pornhub-launches-awkward-new-sex-education-site?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist Pornhub Wants to Teach You About Sex, but Not in the Way You're Thinking Pornhub Wants to Teach You About Sex, but Not in the Way You're Thinking Thu, 02 Feb 2017 11:18:59 -0500 Caroline Olney 11323 at http://greatist.com/ People visit Pornhub to watch other people having sex, and maybe steal a few tricks for their own sexy time. (Though that's not always the best idea if you're, say, watching people bang in the kitchen.) So it's not super surprising to hear that the website is launching the Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center (we promise the link is SFW), a blog that bills itself as modern-day sex ed.

You'd think being a porn site would give the blog a certain cool factor when it comes to tackling the birds and the bees, but it's just as stiff and awkward as those terrible videos we were all forced to sit through in health class.

Creating a central, accessible place for health information and safe sex tips is a great idea, but Pornhub's execution isn't great. Here's what we mean:

To its credit, the blog posts themselves are impressively inclusive, if a little awkward: Articles titled "Trans 101" and "Top Erotic Positions for Lesbians" live next to the more traditional "What Is Consent?" and "How to Have Safer Sex." That's promising, so we'll keep hoping Pornhub can pull this off.

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These Stunning Photos Prove Plus-Size Bodies Are Works of Art http://greatist.com/live/models-get-covered-in-gold-paint-to-celebrate-their-curves?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=feed_http--greatistcom-- Greatist These Stunning Photos Prove Plus-Size Bodies Are Works of Art These Stunning Photos Prove Plus-Size Bodies Are Works of Art Thu, 02 Feb 2017 11:02:51 -0500 Evin Billington 11322 at http://greatist.com/ In a world where plus-size women are too often pressured to cover up, one photographer is doing what she can to make them shine bright. In a project called "Metallic Curves," photographer Silvana Denker covered models in gold and silver paint to highlight the beauty in every kind of body.

The project is personal—Denker, a plus-size model, battled an eating disorder and struggled with her self-worth for years. By posing the models like sculptures, she's reminding us that these bodies are beautiful and worthy of love (and self-love). Denker hopes her photos help women who have dealt with the same things she did.

Take a look at some of the dazzling photos below, and check out the full series on Denker's Facebook.

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Source: Silvana Denker
denker 1
Source: Silvana Denker

denker 3
Source: Silvana Denker
denker 4
Source: Silvana Denker

Source: Silvana Denker
Source: Silvana Denker

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