Article: Dieting with Herbs

Incredible, Edible, Fat-Burning Herbs


Is your idea of the ideal weight loss meal some plain fish with wild rice, a green salad, or bland, tasteless chicken breast? Forget it! You’re missing one of the key elements that’s been indicated time and again, in study after study, to start the body burning fat and keep it that way: spices and herbs.

When you’re dieting, getting fit, or working to lose weight, you definitely won’t want to miss out on delicious ingredients that contain no calories, no sugar, no sweeteners, and no sodium—especially when they add delicious flavor and character to your dishes. That’s where herbs and spices come in.

Research has indicated that you’re far, far less likely to devote yourself to a diet with any amount of discipline when you dislike the foods you’re eating. If you cook and prepare your food with herbs and spices like paprika, cumin, salt, freshly-ground pepper, basil, oregano, and more (the list goes on and on), you go from eating bland to eating gourmet, and become excited about your meals.

Herbs and spices do something even more magical: they work to speed up your metabolic rate, and when you have a higher metabolism, your body gets rid of fat much faster.

The following thirteen spices and herbs have been scientifically proven to go a long way to helping you get rid of your unwanted weight. No matter what diet or plan you’re following, you’ll want to incorporate these thirteen things into your regimen.



 Cinnamon is a beloved spice, enjoyed year-round on many types of food, that can even out blood sugar, cut cravings, and make you feel satisfied after you eat. You might be accustomed to mixing cinnamon into your oatmeal, but did you know you can put cinnamon in yogurt, tea, drinks, cottage cheese, coffee, and fruit? You can even rub cinnamon on savory foods, and mix it into marinades for meat.



Turmeric is an unmistakable, knock-out spice, easily recognizable for its bright yellow color. A Tufts University study in 2009 showed that turmeric can make you burn fat faster. It contains a chemical called curcumin, and it made mice lose more fat than mice on the same diet without curcumin. Turmeric is a warming spice, and it jacks up your body heat, in turn increasing metabolism. You can add turmeric to stews, casseroles, soups, or sprinkle it on nuts and vegetables. It has many health benefits, and may even soothe menstrual pains and PMS and fight Alzheimer’s Disease.



Talk about a warming spice: cayenne has a kick, which you’ll know if you’ve ever overdone it with cayenne in your food. Like turmeric, cayenne raises your body’s temperature, and has the same metabolism-boosting qualities. If you add cayenne to your meal, you can burn up to an additional 100 calories, says Lauren Minchen, RD. Cayenne tastes great on roasted nuts, on scrambled eggs, in dressings and dips, and in soups. You can add it to all kinds of savory foods. It even tastes good with chocolate.



A recent study of overweight women showed that adding a teaspoon of cumin to one meal per day can make your body burn three times as much fat. Cumin is quite a spice! It can be added to most any food, and should be a staple of your kitchen. You can put it in soups and stews, marinades, sauces, curries, eggs, savory muffins, and mix it into all kinds of doughs. It goes well with other spices to; you can get creative with pairings where cumin is concerned.



 Get used to the smell of garlic, because this is one food you’re going to love. A study found that mice on a garlic diet lost more weight over the course of seven weeks than mice eating no garlic; that’s a major indication of possible benefits to humans. You can eat garlic raw, which makes it even healthier. You can even eat sprouted garlic. You can mince it and sauté it with onions to make the beginnings of an excellent mirepoix, and top healthy breads and spreads with it.



Ginger, like cinnamon, works to control your blood sugar: after a meal full of carbs and sugars, it prevents levels of glucose from spiking. It’s thermogenic, like cayenne and turmeric, says Barbara Mendez, RPH, MS, who’s an integrative nutritionist from New York City. Since it’s a warming spice, it will help you burn fat. You can grate ginger on stir fries, add it to almost any juicer recipe (especially to offset the taste of bitter green juices like kale and spinach), put it on baked fish, and stir it into fruit salads.



Cardamom’s yet another thermogenic, fat-burning spice. It cranks up your body’s temperature and metabolism, and it’s a favorite spice in Indian fare; it tastes wonderful blended with cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It’s part of the signature spice blend called garam masala. You can put it in coffee, make a citrus-style blend to infuse in teas, and mix it into curries or rub it on lamb.


Black Pepper

 We’ve saved the best for last. Talk about a fat burner: black pepper has wonderful fat burning abilities. It can prevent the body from forming new fat cells, says Mendez, and therefore stop you from gaining weight to begin with.


Black pepper can be cracked on just about anything! Add it to freshly-sliced tomatoes and salads, sprinkle it on healthy sandwiches, boiled eggs, vegetables, and even cottage cheese, oatmeals and cereals, and greek yogurt.




Dandelion isn’t just a tenacious garden weed. Its growing popularity with cooks and chefs is all thanks to its versatility: it can add flavor and variety to foods and drinks both. Dandelion is full of vitamins C, E, and A, and iron and potassium, and its natural anti-bloating tendencies make it a great anti-weight tool in your regimen. Try it in a soothing herbal tea, or with a fresh green salad with light dressing and a cool drink.



Original Wedding Speech

[Open with a short introduction, such as: “My name is Julie { }, and I am Darla’s best friend. We’ve known each other for more than { } years.” This would also be a good place to briefly acknowledge some of the other people at the head table, the beauty of the decorations or the venue, etc. Something light.]


We were both young girls in high school when I first met Darla. Little did I know back then that our friendship would blossom into a lifelong bond. We have shared so much, from our time in high school and advisory together, to the many birthdays and holidays we have celebrated: together, we have worshiped, laughed, and learned. Our birthdays are just a few days apart, and it makes me think that the universe had something in mind when it threw the two of us into our friendship. I have to smile when I think back on all the memories we’ve made, from crafting to learning how to budget together abroad. Memories like these are irreplaceable treasures that we will always share. I feel incredibly grateful to have been able to spend my formative years with a friend as wonderful as Darla.


Darla is a deeply curious and passionate person, and I have always known that she was someone special. There are few people as kind and considerate in this world. In her boundless compassion, she creates the world she believes in, one where the most vulnerable people are valued. In all aspects of her life, her politics, and her work, she strives fiercely to create and actualize this ideal. She has always taken care of me—she even took care of me the first time I got sick from drinking. Well, when she met Dan, I was so happy to see how well their personalities complemented one another. In Dan, Darla has finally found her caretaker.

It isn’t every day that life bestows deep and abiding love—the kind of love we often encounter in fairy tales—on the people we care most about. I am so honored to see my dear friend Darla marry the love of her life today. I am deeply blessed to have Darla and Dan as friends, and I wish them a lifetime of happiness and prosperity. Congratulations to both of you, and to the magnificent and bright future ahead of you. I can’t wait to see what it holds in store.

Darla, Dan, we are all so lucky to share this day with you. Let’s all raise our glasses and toast the happy couple.

Online Article: “Stress: Reading Your Way to Relief”

Stress can manifest itself in many ways. When you’re under stress, you feel emotionally- and physically-overdrawn, weak, and out of control. What’s more, it can feel mentally and physically impossible to escape the cycle of anxiety that stress traps you in. When you sense yourself getting ensnared in a vicious, self-propagating cycle of stress, how can you free yourself from it? Especially when free time feels more and more like an antique luxury and less and less like a natural, healthy part of everyday life? Read.


What Reading Does


These days, it’s easy to get lost in Netflix and social media, and easy to forget why we read, and why humans have evolved to so passionately use written communication. But we shouldn’t be so quick to abandon our bookshelves: television, music, and movies are no replacement for the immersive act of reading. Reading—whether books, magazines, articles, or newspapers—activates pathways in our brains that allow us to absorb and comprehend information in meaningful, significant ways.


Reading is relaxing, enjoyable, and solitary. It gives us a choice to be alone not only with our own thoughts but with someone else’s. A study from Mindlab indicates that reading, even for a few minutes can reduce stress levels by 68%. Neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis says “Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation. This is particularly poignant in uncertain economic times when we are all craving a certain amount of escapism. It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination.” Read more here. (


According to Maryanne Wolf, “when you read, you have more time to think. Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. By and large, with oral language—when you watch a film or listen to a tape—you don’t press pause.” Wolf is the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.


Reading can even improve the way our brains work. Reading longer works, like novels, can improve brain function and enhance brain connectivity, according to a study published in Brain Connectivity. The study’s researchers determined that by reading a novel, participants were able to improve mental function and increase their empathy for others. Being able to empathize with other people allows us to manage our own stress levels better. (More here:


In the study, participants indicated that they “[loved] being exposed to ideas and being able to experience so many times, places, and events,” and one individual said “I look at it as a mind stimulant, and it is relaxing.” Others expressed the pleasure of living vicariously through a character and having another “life of the mind.”


Professor Gregory S. Berns, who was the study’s lead author, said “Stories shape our lives and in some cases help define a person.” He added, “We want to understand how stories get into your brain, and what they do to it.”


It turns out that readers had better connectivity in key brain areas the following morning: areas correlated with language comprehension, sensations and movement. Being better equipped to deal with an onslaught of stimuli and becoming more compassionate are incredibly important tools to possess in order to combat stress.


It’s hard to imagine any better way to escape and cope with the stresses in life than by immersing yourself intelligently in other worlds and ideas. After all, we only have so much time to use our minds. Why limit the ways in which we use them? We should do everything we can to expand our forms of thought.


All it takes is a few minutes a day. Immerse yourself in a book. Instead of turning on the TV at the end of the day and being faced with a wall of personalities and unintelligible information and bad news, curl up with something different. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll wake up the next day feeling alert, capable, and refreshed. You’ll look at life in the world in subtly different ways.


Some Great Things to Read


Don’t want to comb through bestseller lists? Not sure where to start? Try out some of these websites. They’re full of meaningful, thoughtful articles. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, over-stressed, and over-worked, this is a good place to start. Lose yourself in some fascinating information.


Brain Pickings (


Packed with all kinds of carefully-researched articles on literature, life, psychology, and more, Brain Pickings is a website that aggregates and carefully curates content that makes you think.


Longreads (


Longreads is another aggregating / curating site; all their content comes from journals and online magazines, and takes a while to read. The articles on Longreads are highly-immersive and incredibly fascinating. They feature all kinds of nonfiction, essays, and more.


Don’t Only Read Online


The act of reading a physical book can’t really be replaced! Head to your local library. Libraries are incredibly relaxing places. There are few distractions. You could go to a coffee shop, but why not head out and find a book instead?


Just go to WorldCat ( and find your local library. Many libraries are open late on weekdays, and feature comfortable sitting areas, new magazine subscriptions, newspapers and periodicals, and—of course—books!

Blog Post

Everyone has a message to share. But apart from our friends and family, and our fervent supporters, we often don’t have the audience we wish we had.


Whether communicating for personal or professional reasons, we often struggle to captivate our audience(s). Our time is characterized by social media preponderance, and we all tend to think that social media are the ultimate channels for sharing our messages. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use Facebook or Twitter; easy and cheap doesn’t (always) mean bad. What easy and cheap (always) means is that everyone can do it. Social media’s prevalence diminishes its power, and our messages may not get through, even with fantastic targeting methods and big dissemination budgets.


So what can you do?


We shouldn’t fall into the trap of thinking only in digital terms.


The pursuit of new technologies makes us blind to the real life beyond social media. People still go to school, work, and the gym. They still interact with others. This is your unique chance to start crafting your communication strategy – start mapping your TOUCH POINTS where you can interact with people who might find your cause interesting. Whether you write a blog about healthy eating or you work for an NGO to save a disappearing species, you can always start with this exercise.


Let’s say you want to design a campaign that encourages people to make better food choices to curtail overfishing. Once you identify the ‘model’ representative of your selected target audience, I invite you to consider where, exactly, you could meet him or her.


In real life, we would need to make a strategic decision about which group(s) of people we should target. For the sake of this text, let’s make an uninformed guess and choose parents between the ages of 35-45 who do the shopping for the entire family.


Imagine Johansson and Becky, the parents of two kids – a toddler girl, and an 8-year-old boy. Because they both work, they’re busy and tired. How could you interact with these parents? Kindergarten and school are the first places that come to mind, but let’s think further. Restaurants and cafés that are kid-friendly; parks; food take-aways. Maybe pre-cut frozen foods shops (like Pickard).


Mapping these places is your starting point. How exactly you will lead your campaign depends on many factors, but now you know which tools you can take into consideration.


You don’t always need to chase new social media trends. If you don’t know how Snapchat works, it’s not the end of the world. While it’s true we live in times of constant change, there are some things that stay the same. You’ll find the people you’re looking for if you look in the right places.


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Reading the Lyrics: Louise Bogan’s Ascendant Unconscious

“Friendship” makes, with its absence and its presence, realities of all the realities we encounter. -Joshua Beckman


The act of reading a lyric poem­—the expression of a single voice—is less and more than a universal experience. Less than universal, it concentrates the efforts of an exchange that often has, as its prerogative, the resolution or correction of an implied rhetorical relationship that is deeply and personally explored, imagined, and felt. Treading into this exchange can yield a sense of exclusion as its initial effect. But that exclusion is what allows the reader into more than a “universal” situation, that is, a situation that is not broadly actualized, but one that renders the familiar, the emotionally true.


The sensation of truth in a poem steals into the reader when what she has read agrees with and energizes her subconscious ability to experience empathy.


An apple and the moon are both universal; any reader will recognize these objects and form, from hearing the words, a mental composite. In doing so, every reader will also bring connotative baggage along and flesh out each of these archetypes from without and within—the apples she has eaten and the apple Eve ate, the moon itself in the current sky and the moon of nursery rhymes, cheese, Neil Armstrong, and werewolves. But since these universal composites are universal, they do nothing to elicit empathy. Only when the poet introduces a lyric relationship, with all of its surrounding inner and outer forms and devices, does the universal transcend into the emotive realm.


Take Louise Bogan’s “The Crossed Apple”


I’ve come to give you fruit from out my orchard,
Of wide report.
I have trees there that bear me many apples.
Of every sort:

Clear, streaked; red and russet; green and golden;
Sour and sweet.
This apple’s from a tree yet unbeholden,
Where two kinds meet, –

So that this side is red without a dapple,
And this side’s hue
Is clear and snowy. It’s a lovely apple.
It is for you.

Within are five black pips as big as peas,
As you will find,
Potent to breed you five great apple trees
Of varying kind:

To breed you wood for fire, leaves for shade,
Apples for sauce.
Oh, this is a good apple for a maid,
It is a cross,

Fine on the finer, so the flesh is tight,
And grained like silk.
Sweet Burning gave the red side, and the white
Is Meadow Milk.

Eat it, and you will taste more than the fruit:
The blossom, too,
The sun, the air, the darkness at the root,
The rain, the dew,

The earth we came to, and the time we flee,
The fire and the breast.
I claim the white part, maiden, that’s for me.
You take the rest.


Bogan’s elaborate rhythms and her use of color and texture and technique at first blush obscure the subtle way in which this poem makes its emotional inroads. The speaker comes from a vast, lush orchard “of wide report” to make a gift of a “yet unbeholden” apple to a maiden. With the sweet language “It is for you” and “Oh, this is a good apple for a maid,” the speaker sneakily introduces—without overt explanation—us to the fullest range of human emotion—pride, tenderness, sensuality, and eventually the envy and protectiveness of the maid’s claim to the “fire” and the “earth we came to” when the speaker takes half the apple’s promise away. The ending of the poem produces an emotional impact that you would not expect given the relatively simple setting: an apple given, an apple taken away.



In one of Bogan’s late poems, “July Dawn,” the lyric enters a meditative mode. In his essay “Meditative Modes,” Eric Pankey writes:

In the meditative mode, a poet can undermine the lyric’s drive toward, and love of, closure, without ever giving up on the moment of lyric insight, what Wordsworth calls “spots of time,” James Joyce calls “epiphanies,” and Virginia Woolf calls “moments of being.” Lyric insight within the lyric moment.


Here is the poem.





July Dawn


It was a waning crescent

Dark on the wrong side

On which one does not wish

Setting in the hour before daylight

For my sleepless eyes to look at.


O, as a symbol of dis-hope

Over the July fields,

Dissolving, waning.

In spite of its sickle shape.


I saw it and thought it new

In that short moment

That makes all symbols lucky

Before we read them rightly.


Down to the dark it swam,

Down to the dark it moved,

Swift to that cluster of evenings

When curved toward the full it sharpens.


In his talk from the Bagley Wright Lecture Series, Joshua Beckman discusses how

The movement of a taking a walk can guide you through a poem—the kind of walk where, when asked what you are doing, you would reply “taking a walk.”

Making intuitive and sensual decisions

Sometimes you’re taken by something

Parts of the walk elevating in meaningfulness and parts of it floating away almost unnoticed, the endless mystery of its uncontrolled and unfolding perspective, can feel like the poem. While we easily recognize their stable characteristics, we can feel, especially in the acts of deeply encountering them, some aspects of the accumulated moments of the poem’s experience.

Little connections knock against you throughout your day.


In reading and re-reading “July Dawn” we are knocked against by these ‘little connections’ if we have, in fact, walked with them. I am taken by something—that short moment that makes all symbols lucky before we read them rightly—and have been taken by it as it has knocked against me year over year. I cannot say that I have understood it, but that has not made it less true, nor less evocative of a truth I have yet to discover. Instead, the empathic reach of this meditation has ingratiated itself as a subconscious tool that I seem to use as I interpret the symbols I do not expect to see in the world. This use of the audience as an implied connective tissue to complete the elegiac quality of the poem without which it could not succeed is what sets lyrics like Bogan’s apart from poetry that could be characterized as narrative, confessional, pastoral, or speculative.



“The artist’s task, then, involves the transformation of the actual to the true. And the ability to achieve such transformations, especially in art that presumes to be subjective, depends on conscious willingness to distinguish truth from honesty or sincerity. …

To recapitulate: the source of art is experience, the end product truth, and the artist, surveying the actual, constantly intervenes and manages, lies and deletes, all in the service of truth.”


“The advantage of poetry over life is that poetry, if it is sharp enough, may last. We are unnerved, I suppose, by the thought that authenticity, in the poem, is not produced by sincerity. We incline, in our anxiety for formulas, to be literal”

Louise Glück, “Against Sincerity”



Let’s take one of Bogan’s early poems, “Girl’s Song”


Winter, that is a fireless room

In a locked house, was our love’s home.

The days turn, and you are not here,

O changing with the little year!


Now when the scent of plants half-grown

Is more the season’s than their own

And neither sun nor wind can stanch

The gold forsythia’s dripping branch,—


Another maiden, still not I,

Looks from some hill upon some sky,

And, since she loves you, and she must,

Puts her young cheek against the dust.


And a mature poem, “Song for a Lyre”


The landscape where I lie

Again from boughs sets free

Summer; all night must fly

In wind’s obscurity

The thick, green leaves that made

Heavy the August shade.


Soon, in the pictured night,

Returns—as in a dream

Left after sleep’s delight—

The shallow autumn stream:

Softly awake, its sound

Poured on the chilly ground.


Soon fly the leaves in throngs;

O love, though once I lay

Far from its sound, to weep,

When night divides my sleep,

When stars, the autumn stream,

Stillness, divide my dream,

Night to your voice belongs.



In both of these poems, we learn a great deal about the way in which Bogan’s view of womanhood changed. Her use of lyric despondence in “Girl’s Song” betrays a vision of woman as overly emotional, incapable of loving in a controlled way, destined to being abandoned by a male lover whose very existence necessitates sacrificial devotion and full corporeal submission. Both poems make use of the pastoral as a pivot point that anchors and frees the woman from her obligation to chain herself to the torrent of Feeling. In each case, the vantage point of the speaker is defined by remove: “some hill upon some sky,” “wind’s obscurity.” Each poem makes overt use of the word “must.” But only in the second poem does the lyric fail to resolve. Rather than closing the poem up tight, as she does in “Girl’s Song,” Bogan leaves “Song for a Lyre” open and divided.


In A Poet’s Prose, Bogan is cited as writing “if you are to have the full benefit of the richness of the Subconscious, you must learn to write easily and smoothly when the Unconscious is in the ascendant” and “It is hard for me to remember anything by an act of will. It is my tendency to live critically, even hysterically, in the moment, without review or reference. But when I was not alone, I had a dream of nourishing loneliness.” In the dreamer’s dream of loneliness, an other is always implied. Bogan’s lyrics offer that other place to us, to take up and explore. It is our own empathy, as we wander away from her poems, that fulfills their realities.




Louise Bogan, The Blue Estuaries (Poems 1923-1968)

Radiant Lyre: Essays on Lyric Poetry

Louise Glück: “Against Sincerity”

Joshua Beckman: Bagley Wright Lecture Series

A Poet’s Prose: Selected Writings of Louise Bogan


Mark Slouka’s “The Crossing,” A Study In Suspense

Slouka manages to employ an unusual level of suspense and tenderness in this story. Admittedly, the plot and the situations of the story – a rushing river, a father eager to please his small son, a divided family – are already given to suspense and tenderness. But what is it that makes the development and the climax of the story get our hearts beating so fast? By dropping breadcrumbs in the opening paragraphs the author gives us a taste of the world outside the events of the story without revealing enough about them to satisfy our imaginations. He then ingratiates us into the world of the father and puts us on his side, before throwing him back into doubt. Finally, he makes us choose – the beauty of the earth or the sanctity of father and son?

The information that Slouka scatters in the beginning of the story make us want more, and it makes us care deeply about what happens to father and son. We glimpse the son’s smallness and, indeed, his entire childhood in those “miniature jeans.” We glimpse the father’s deep depression in the simple sentence “and he hadn’t been happy in a while.” We know the father has a history with and love for the river valley: “nothing much had changed.” Later, we learn more about his need for “the nests of vines like something scratched out, the furred trunks, soft with rot,” but before we acquire that intimate knowledge, Slouka has already made him into an expert on the place. Of particular interest to us readers is the description of how the father picks up the boy from his regular home (with his mother). We know the boy’s parents are divorced, separated. We learn that perhaps the father has done something wrong, because of his hope that “maybe—maybe he could make this right.” We see his care for his son – care not to hit the boy’s head on the ceiling when he playfully tosses him over his shoulder.

As the boy’s mother shakes her head, still in a bathrobe, we enter firmly into the father’s corner. We want him to succeed with his son and take him to the wild place by the river he loves so much. We want to know why he loves the river, and what has gone missing from his heart and his body that the river can bring back.

The second key device that Slouka uses to endear us to the world of the story is even more important; he subverts the father’s authority. As we go into the river country with father and son, we are greeted with Queen Anne’s Lace, the promise of a campfire, and elk – with beauty and hope. After fording the river all this will be possible, and more. The river flows slowly over rocks. But suddenly, “he felt a small shock, as if he were looking at a house he’d grown up in but now barely recognized. The river was bigger than he remembered it, stronger; it moved like a swiftly flowing field.” He considers turning back. Anxiety defines him. And yet all he says to his son is “‘Well, there she is.’”

The reader has entered a position of knowledge and distrust; we now fear for both father and son and feel an even stronger affection for the boy than we did before. We feel as determined to cross the river with them as ever, but we have lost the ability to trust the father’s skill or his understanding of the wildness to which he is trying to return.

When father and son successfully cross the river, and arrive at the barn, we have further bonded with each of them. Suddenly, Dad is an expert again, and the world is a beautiful and enchanting place. The “barn was just where he remembered it, standing against the trees like a rib cage.” As we observe him making preparations for the night ahead, we feel safer, warmer, as does his son. Slouka describes them deftly: the son’s question “‘Do the elk have to sleep in the rain?’”and the father’s putting “his arm around him—that tiny shoulder, tight as a nest” tell us more about this boy and this man than anything else could.

All this, against the backdrop of careful images seeded in a scattered but deliberate pattern – the “white noise” of the river, the “stars through the missing places in the roof” of the barn, “car-sized boulders nudged together like eggs,” the “hollow tock of the stones knocking against each other in the deeper water” – prepares us for the second fording of the river. This heartbreaking painting of scenes and descriptions makes us appreciate the intractable world for its beauty as much as we love father and son for their need and vulnerability. And when they cross the river the second time, our hearts go into our throats – for them, for their failure, for the father’s burning love for his son, for the boy’s tiny existence, and for the wildness that can’t help but be what it is.