Negotiating the Pros and Cons of Caffeine Consumption

Caffeine in Coffee

Whether you have an occasional cup of green tea or you’re a coffee lover from morning until night, you probably think occasionally about the caffeine you’re consuming. Is it helping or hurting you? Are you relying too heavily on this substance to keep you awake so you can achieve your goals? Or is it a harmless addition to your diet?

As with most things, caffeine is neither innately good or bad. The key is to understand what it is, how you can use it beneficially and when you should say “no” to a cup o’ joe. This post will help you learn more about the pros and cons of caffeine, so you can best determine how much to consume.

How Caffeine Works

The next time you haven’t had caffeine for a while, pay attention when you drink a caffeinated diet soda or cold sweet tea. For most people, caffeine causes a faster heartbeat and boosts alertness. As a stimulant, caffeine grants your body’s cells additional access to oxygen. While this may not be a problem in infrequent, small and manageable doses, overuse of caffeine can cause the body to send the wrong messages to your brain, which is one of the negative effects of caffeine for your health.

For instance, constantly drinking caffeine can lead to anxiety and insomnia. Neither of these outcomes is particularly welcome — especially if you already have a stress disorder or trouble falling asleep. Additionally, because caffeine is a diuretic, you may become dehydrated faster if all you drink is caffeinated hot and cold beverages.

Another downfall to caffeine is the way it becomes a “crutch.” Without it, people may get serious headaches to the point where they need caffeine for relief. If this sounds familiar, watch out! You’re already addicted to this substance or getting close to addicted. That’s never a good thing, especially if you don’t feel like yourself until after you’ve had caffeine.

Using Caffeine Advantageously

Of course, all the negatives aren’t meant to suggest that caffeine can’t play a role in a healthy diet. Therea are also positive effects of caffeine. In fact, for many people, advantageous and deliberate caffeine use can help them remain mentally clear and focused.

If you love beverages that contain caffeine, you’ll be happy to learn that some studies have shown caffeine can make up for a bad night’s sleep by helping your brain come back to its tasks. And if you’re fueling up before a workout, a little bit of caffeine could give you better performance results, according to some athletic research.

Some scientists believe caffeine can inhibit the development of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other medical conditions — although this hasn’t been completely proven and requires more documentation. Of course, in all cases, research participants were carefully monitored.

Consequently, you’ll want to be careful if you’re performing your own caffeine experiments at home. The best rule of thumb is to listen to your body — and your doctor — when it comes to caffeine. Think you might be overdoing it? Try substituting a caffeinated beverage with one that has less caffeine or none at all. Weaning yourself off your eight-coffees-a-day habit will take time, so start slowly.

Be careful as you moderate your caffeine intake, since some foods, like chocolate, contain hidden caffeine and can throw you off your game. By staying aware of the advantages and disadvantages of caffiene, you can determine when best to enjoy a cup of coffee, and when to cut yourself off for the day.

Revitalize Your Natural Energy With Fresh-Pressed Juice

Pressed Green JuiceYou’ve probably heard time after time about the advantages of fresh-pressed vegetable and fruit juices. They’re not just a quick way to enjoy all the vitamins and minerals abundant in the produce aisle — they also happen to taste amazing!

Consider starting with a healthy green juice featuring pressed Granny Smith apples, kale, half a lime, a few celery stalks, a cucumber and perhaps even a bit of ginger for a refreshing zing. It’s a taste sensation that will keep you going throughout the day or while powering through your after-hours workout. Plus, you can use it as the springboard for other juices that tempt your palate day after day and help keep you healthy year-round.

No time to press juice yourself? Don’t have a blender or juicer to turn your yummy ingredients into pure, organic juice? No problem! Swap your homemade juice for 100% natural beverages like Zoe Juices, which give you the fresh-pressed flavor and benefits without any fuss or muss.

How Much Water Do You Really Need?

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We all know we need water, and most of us can agree that we probably aren’t getting enough water in our daily diets. But few know how to determine how much water they should be drinking because hydration is best tackled on a person-by-person basis.

How to Determine How Much Water You Should Drink

There are a few factors to consider when determining how much water you need to drink, including your weight, activity levels and health. You’ve probably heard that you should be drinking about eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day.

While this may be adequate for some people, though, it’s popular because it’s easy to remember — not because it’s accurate.

How Much Water Should I Be Drinking Based on My Weight?

A 200-pound person needs more water in their diet than a 100-pound person, which is why you shouldn’t rely too heavily on the eight eight-ounce glasses theory.

Instead, take your weight and multiply it by 2/3. This is the number of ounces of water you should be drinking per day. That means that if you’re 100 pounds and are only drinking five eight-ounces glasses of water per day, or 40 ounces, you probably aren’t as hydrated as you should be.

Should I Be Drinking More Water on Days I’m More Active?

On days you work out, you should be drinking more water. Remember that working out doesn’t have to mean you’re in the gym pumping iron. If you’re expending enough energy to get sweaty, you’re expending enough sweat to need additional hydration.

As a general rule, you should be drinking about six additional ounces of water per 15 minutes of exercise/activity. That means if you work out for an hour, you should drink an additional 24 ounces of water that day to keep your hydration levels balanced.

Is It True I Should I Be Drinking More Water When I’m Sick?

The amount of water you should be drinking while sick is entirely based on the type of sickness you have. If you have a fever or are suffering from a gastrointestinal illness, it is likely you are losing fluids. You’ll need to drink more water to help replenish them.

If you have congestive heart failure, kidney, liver or adrenal diseases, you may need to limit your fluid intake as these conditions can impair the excretion of water. When in doubt, it’s always best to contact your personal healthcare physician before you alter your daily regimen.

Easy Ways to Meet Your Water Intake Goals

If you have trouble drinking enough water throughout the day, here are a few simple things you can do to make sure you’re meeting your water intake goals:

  1. Drink a glass first thing in the morning
  2. Drink a glass with each meal
  3. Take a water bottle with you everywhere
  4. Add more fruits to your diet
  5. Skip the coffee and soda

Remember that although everybody is different, we all need to hydrate our bodies properly to ensure efficiency and good health.

If you need water or some other tasty options to keep yourself hydrated, check out Beverage Universe today!

5 Refreshing Spins on Lemonade

lemonade-2097312_640There’s nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade. Why else would it be the number one beverage stand owned and operated by kids in every neighborhood across America?

But we’ll admit that day after day of the same flavor can get a little boring. That’s why we’ve come up with these five refreshing spins on lemonade to add excitement to your taste buds this summer.

  1. Peach Lemonade

Bring 4 cups water, 3/4 cup sugar and 2 cups of chopped peaches to a boil, and allow the mixture to simmer for 3 minutes. Transfer the juice to a blender and mix well.

Pour the mixture through a sieve and into a pitcher. Mix in 1 cup of lemon juice and stir well. Place it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. Pour over ice and add a few slices of peach for a garnish — and enjoy your classy and refreshing summer beverage.

  1. Strawberry Lemonade

If you’re looking for a quick and easy fruity lemonade that both kids and adults will love, this is it. In a blender, combine 1 1/4 pound of strawberries, 2 sliced lemons (peel removed) and 1/2 cup of honey. Mix well.

Strain the strawberry mixture into a pitcher separating the liquid from the solids, then pour in 6 cups of water and stir. Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. Pour over ice and add a few sliced strawberries or lemons for garnish.

  1. Vanilla Lemonade

While this flavored lemonade is a bit more labor intensive than the first two, we promise the end result is worth the time and effort. First, make a simple syrup by bringing 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water, 1 halved and seeded vanilla bean, three slices of lemon peel and a pinch of kosher salt to boil, and the let mixture simmer for about 5-10 minutes.

Strain this mixture through a cheesecloth over a pitcher and set in the refrigerator to cool. Once cooled, add 8 to 10 cups of water and stir. Serve over ice with a few slices of lemons for garnish.

  1. Ginger Lemonade

If you like ginger, you’re going to love this spicy take on a sweet summer classic. Begin by grating 2 centimeters of fresh ginger into a pitcher. Pour the juice from 4 large lemons over your grated ginger, followed by 6 tablespoons of sugar and stir until the sugar has been dissolved.

Strain out the solids and add in 4 to 6 cups of water (depending on how strong you’d like your ginger lemonade to be). Serve over ice with slices of lemons and mint leaves for garnish.

  1. Lavender Lemonade

Start with a small handful of freshly picked lavender flowers, rinse well and place them into a medium-sized mixing bowl. You could also use a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers if you don’t have fresh ones. Pour in 1 cup of sugar and rub the flowers into the sugar using your fingers.

Next, pour two cups of boiling water over the flowers and sugar mixture and stir well. Cover and allow to infuse in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Strain the infused liquid into a pitcher, then stir in 1 1/2 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 more cups of cold water. Serve over ice with lavender sprigs for garnish.

Treat your guests to one of these refreshing flavors at your next summer get together. You can even add a shot or two of flavored vodka or rum to really get the party started. And if you want to add a bit of flair without spiking the lemonade, we suggest freezing fruit and using them in place of ice cubes to keep your drink cold, without watering it down.

Looking for some other unique beverages to quench your summer thirst? Take a look at our huge selection at Beverage Universe and stay hydrated all summer — and beyond.

Best Beverages for Staying Slim: 10 Low-Calorie Cocktail Choices

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Healthy living isn’t about giving up delicious foods and cocktails you love. It’s about enjoying them in moderation and exploring healthier foods to eat and alcohol to drink when you’re on a diet. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best low-calorie drinks to enjoy when you’re trying to lose weight.

10 of the Healthiest Cocktails to Order If You’re on a Diet

You don’t have to give up your favorite cocktails. Instead, check out these 10 healthy options:

  1. Vodka Martinis are a simple and classy option that will keep your calorie count as low as 130. Just make sure not to order them dirty, as the olive juice will add a significant amount of sodium to this cocktail.
  2. A simple Manhattan is delicious, and it’s also relatively low in calories with only about 140 per drink.
  3. If you love Mojitos, simply ask for this summertime favorite to be made without the simple syrup to enjoy a skinny version that might just be the best low-calorie summer cocktail there is.
  4. Flavored Vodka & Club Soda is a good option if you’re looking for a little flavor in your cocktail, but don’t want to deal with the extra sugar that would come with flavored mixers.
  5. Mimosas aren’t just for brunch anymore! Champagne has only 95 calories per serving, so we suggest just splashing in some orange juice for color and letting the champagne take over in the flavor department.
  6. A Hot Toddy is a great option anytime the temperature dips low enough to have you craving a warm beverage. Made with tea, honey and brandy, this low-calorie cocktail choice clocks in at around 165 calories per cup.
  7. Try a Sea Breeze for a more flavorful take on a vodka cranberry while cutting out a few unnecessary calories. Since you’ll be using more grapefruit juice than cranberry juice, you can expect this cocktail to average about 180 calories.
  8. Any Liquor & Diet Soda cocktail is going to feel like the best low-calorie drink when you’re trying to lose weight, but you love the refreshing taste of carbonation. Try sticking with sodas light in color to reduce calorie counts even more.
  9. Enjoy a Mudslide on the Rocks by combining one-ounce coffee liqueur, one-ounce vodka and one-and-a-half ounces of Irish cream liqueur. Shake well and pour over ice. It has the same delicious taste of its frozen counterpart at a fraction of the calories.
  10. Dry Red Wine isn’t really a cocktail, but it’s delicious. It also has healthy antioxidants and only 100 calories per glass. Just be sure not to drink too much, or you’ll likely suffer a nasty hangover.

Best Alcohol to Drink When You’re Trying to Lose Weight

While the mixers you add to your spirits to create these delicious cocktails is where the majority of your calories are going to come from, don’t forget that not all alcohol is created equal when it comes to their calorie counts. Stick with these low-calorie cocktail spirit choices and you’ll be fine: tequila, bourbon, vodka, whiskey and gin.

And, if you’re looking for some unique juices, flavored waters and other beverages to mix into your cocktails, Beverage Universe is the place to go. Take a look at our huge beverage selection today!

Food and Drinks That Get Better With Age

Wine Getting Better with Age

You already know wine gets better with age, but did you know leftover food recipes can be even more delicious than their original incarnations? Here’s what to with leftover food — or any food or drink that tastes better the longer you let it age.

Chili or Stew

Have you ever noticed that day-after chili just tastes thicker, richer and, well…just better? That’s because time gives chilis and stews the space they need to blend. If you make chili con carne, the meat tenderizes even more. From beef stew to curry, taste it a day later and you won’t need to get inventive with leftover recipes.

Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti sauce is another day-after hero. Only amateurs make sauce for one serving — grab your 16- or 20-quart stock pot instead and get creative! Freeze in portions and use the leftovers for anything you want. Homemade lasagna or baked ziti sauce? Check. Eggplant or chicken parmesan? Check. Fresh meatballs and penne? Check, check. The leftover recipes are endless.

Apple Pie

Apple pie warm out of the oven sounds and smells heavenly, but if we’re being honest, it tastes better a day later. Sitting overnight allows the apples and sauce to gel together perfectly, which means you can cut a slice without the delicious juices running all over your plate. If you must have it hot, heat it for 30 seconds in the microwave and add a scoop of ice cream.

Brownies

Another recipe that smells and sounds delicious hot but really tastes better a day later. Whether you’re a box mix kind of baker or you only roll with homemade, always make your favorite belly bombs a day ahead.

Wine

Produce tastes better fresh. Beer tastes better fresh. Wine? You’ve gotta go old every time. The trick is not to let it get too old, because then it turns to vinegar. Always store wine in a cool, dark place with little temperature variation. Inexpensive wines are usually meant to be drunk now, while premium wine is one that gets better with age.

The bottom line? Cook with abandon today — and enjoy more tomorrow.

3 Memorable Drinks for Memorial Day

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The sun’s out, the pool’s open and it’s the perfect time for a cool drink to celebrate Memorial Day. Start your celebrations with three of our favorite recipes!

  1. Southern Breeze

For this refreshing summer spritzer, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 7 cups of water
  • 2 liters of Canada Dry Ginger Ale
  • 1 46-ounce pineapple juice can
  • 1 6-ounce lemonade concentrate can
  • 1 blue raspberry lemonade mix packet

Make flavored ice cubes with your blue raspberry lemonade mix and lemonade concentrate. Add to your mixed pineapple juice and ginger ale drink and then serve. This recipe makes enough for 12 people.

  1. Lime Fizz

This simple, citrusy recipe serves four. Here’s what you need to make it:

  • Ice
  • 1 cup of lime simple syrup
  • Half a cup of fresh lime juice
  • 3 and a half cups of Seagram’s Club Soda

Just douse your crushed ice with lime juice and lime simple syrup. Add two-thirds of a cup of vodka for an adult drink. Stir in your club soda and serve.

  1. Honey-Basil Lemonade

For this relaxing drink, you’ll need:

To make, simply mix your lemonade, honey, basil and salt in a blender and then strain. Add in water, top with basil leaves and then serve with ice — it makes enough for four.

Drink to Memorial Day

Get set for Memorial Day with Beverage Universe. We offer a tremendous selection of hard-to-find brands, from sodas to juices and teas. Shop our huge selection today!

 

The Ultimate Guide to New York City’s Mouthwatering Bagels

Ask any New Yorker where the best New York bagels are, and chances are you’ll hear 8 million different responses. Here’s our take on the best bagels in New York City.

New York City Bagels

Ess-a-Bagel

Eat late and plan to skip lunch, because a bagel from Ess-a-Bagel is a meal and a half — at least. Go in the morning and get the everything, not toasted. Get a schmear of salmon cream cheese and a Kenya AA coffee, black. You’re welcome.

Zabar’s

Zabar’s bagels are delicious, and while you’re at Zabar’s try everything else. Plan for an hour of smelling ridiculously good food, and wander around and gape at all the kitchen gadgets you’ll never, ever need. Can’t stand the temptation? Order for home delivery.

H&H

The original and best, the H&H of the west side is no longer around — unless you’re talking about the new H&H in midtown. Featuring a comparatively diminutive size and an appealingly large center, these soft and crusty treats are delicious plain and toasted. You can order from us for delivery, too!

Barney Greengrass

Nothing beats a New York City deli, and Barney Greengrass is a classic Upper West Side institution. Go a little crazy and have an egg sandwich on a bagel for breakfast, or opt for roast beef and raw onion at lunch. The “everything” is the New York City bagel, but onion and sesame are popular choices, too.

Bagel Pub

Can’t make it into Manhattan for a bagel? Prefer your carbs with an outer borough flavor? Head to the Bagel Pub, Time Out New York’s pick for second-best bagel in the city. Big and sweet and chewy, this Park Slope destination is a surefire winner.

It’s New York, You Really Can’t Go Wrong

Ultimately, the worst New York bagel is better than other cities’ bagels every day of the week. The bottom line? Avoid toasting fresh bagels, and always add lemon juice, chopped tomato and onion, and capers to a lox bagel. Good morning, New York!

15 Fun Easter Basket Ideas for Kids

Easter basket ideas for kids

Are you tired of filling Easter baskets with the same old, same old every year? If the usual plastic grass, fake eggs and jellybeans no longer have that “wow” effect on you and your kids, it’s time to get creative and try something new.

If you’re interested in switching things up, you may be wondering how to make a great Easter basket, and what to put in kids’ Easter baskets. Don’t worry, though, because we have you covered. Some unique Easter basket ideas are provided below:

  • Nutty Basket: Every parent wants his or her children to grow up healthy. You can really drive this point home by putting together a basket of nuts for one of your children, with the idea being you want your child to grow up to be a health nut.
  • Book Basket: Does your child like to read? Why not put some books you know your little one will enjoy in a basket for Easter morning? You can include a handmade bookmark and a reading light to liven the basket up even more.
  • Arts & Crafts Basket: If your children like arts and crafts, you can fill their Easter baskets with the supplies they’ll need to make something really neat. You can include scissors, colored paper, chalk, markers, notebooks and more. The list of Easter basket fillers is nearly endless for this kind of basket.
  • Beauty Basket: Can you think of any girl, young or old, who wouldn’t love to wake up to a basket filled with beauty items? You can include nail polish, lip gloss, a new hairbrush, colorful hair ties and age-appropriate makeup in a beauty basket your child will love.
  • Bath Basket: If your little one likes spending time in the tub, consider putting together a basket filled with bath products. Your basket can include different bubble baths, scented soaps, a luffa and even a rubber duck.
  • Garden Basket: Why not put together a basket that will inspire your kids to take an interest in gardening? You can arrange some seed packets, a paintable planter and some kid-friendly gardening tools to make your garden basket especially festive.
  • Sports Basket: If your kids like sports, you can create baskets based on their favorite activities. There are a lot of fun things to put in an Easter basket that are sports-related, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box with this kind of basket.
  • Team Basket: Do your children have a favorite sports team? Pick up some team merchandise and use it to create an attention-grabbing basket.
  • Movie Basket: If your kids are fans of a movie franchise such as “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” or “Harry Potter,” you can get them a set of the movies they love and put them in their baskets. Throw in a few bags of microwavable popcorn and a couple boxes of candy and it’ll be just like a night at the theater on Easter evening.
  • Cooking Basket: If you have a young chef in your house, you may want to put together a basket that reflects your child’s interest in cooking. An apron, hand towels and even a chef’s hat are just a few of the ingredients you can use to spice up this type of basket.
  • Science Basket: You can get a microscope, a few petri dishes and a lab coat to jazz up an Easter basket for your little scientist.
  • Doll Basket: If your children like to play with dolls, such as Barbie, you may want to create a Barbie-themed basket that includes a new doll and all of the accessories Barbie will need to have a fabulous Easter.
  • Career Basket: Making a career basket is one of our favorite non-candy Easter basket ideas, because it demonstrates your support for your kids’ ambitions. If your kids already know what they want to be when they grow up, you can make a basket for each of your children based on the careers they’re hoping to pursue.
  • Dinosaur Basket: For the pint-sized paleontologist in your home, you can put together a basket that’s all about dinosaurs. You can even include some miniature excavation tools your little one can use to try to find dinosaur bones in the backyard.
  • Beverage Basket: You can create baskets that feature your kids’ favorite beverages, which can be as thirst-quenching as they are visually appealing. For all of the drinks you’ll need to make the perfect Easter baskets, contact Beverage Universe today.

St. Patrick’s Day Drinks That Aren’t Beer

St. Patrick's day beer alternatives Who doesn’t like a cool, refreshing beer on St. Patrick’s Day? While beer may be the drink of choice for many revelers, you have a lot of options if you’re looking for a new beverage you can serve to your guests that will keep up the holiday spirit.

Here are some creative drink ideas for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration:

  • Green Margaritas: Simply add green juice to your next batch of margaritas and you’ve converted the drink into one that’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day! Adding some juice from your nearest health food store is a great way to infuse something healthy into your holiday party, too.
  • Green Sangria: When you search for a green sangria recipe, you’ll see a lot of them simply call for you to add green fruit to your concoction. While that’s easy enough to do, you might want to take your batch of sangria up a notch. You can do this by mixing white wine and blue curacao to make a drink that’s really green, instead of one that simply has something green in it.
  • Green Mojitos: What do honeydew, cucumber and mint have in common? They can be combined to make the perfect green mojito to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! A mint mojito is the perfect drink for people who are too young to drink and for those who don’t want alcohol, because this beverage is yummy without the rum.
  • Green Smoothies: If you’re not going to serve alcohol at your St. Patrick’s Day bash, why not set up a smoothie bar? With kale, spinach and a host of other green ingredients readily available in your local grocery store, you won’t have any trouble making smoothies that are in keeping with the theme of your get-together.
  • Green Punch: What’s a party without punch? You don’t have to find out at your gathering, because making green punch takes less than five minutes. Simply combine some lemon-lime drink mix, sugar, pineapple juice, thawed frozen lemonade concentrate and ginger ale and voila! You have a tasty punch you can serve with or without vodka.

If you want non-alcoholic beverages that will make your St. Patrick’s Day unforgettable, place an order with Beverage Universe, the world’s largest online beverage store.