Fitness Motivation


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A Review of My Amazing Espresso Machine

home espresso machine

I’ve had this amazing espresso machine for more than 6 months now, I’ve resisted writing a review until now, because I wanted to make sure I figured out how to deal with some of the symptoms that most people are complaining about.

For those who complain about not being able to get the extraction needle to point in the right zone, there are some facts of life you need to understand. The 3 major components that go into an espresso extraction are: grind size, grind volume, and tamp pressure. There’s actually a 4th component, and that is the coffee bean itself. (Some will say temperature is a factor, which is true, but nowadays most machines are set to around 200 degrees F). The reality and truth is that depending on the bean you’re working with, if you’re not getting the correct extraction, you will need to adjust any of the 3 components I mentioned.

I learned this by having wasted lots of good and very expensive espresso beans. I’ve tried many different brands, from Lavazza to Illy to Klatch to Simon Hsieh’s Coffee, each brand, each roast is different. What I’ve learned is that each time you try a new bean, you will need to experiment until you get it right. Some beans require you to grind it fine (3), some you may need to grind more coarse (6). There is NO absolute setting for any espresso. Anyone who tell you otherwise has not tried enough espresso beans. What would make you a good barista is after a while you will get a pretty good feel of how much you should grind, how coarse or fine you should grind, and how hard you should tamp.

What matters most is the quality of the espresso. It’s perfect! On the Saeco fully automatic, the crema was good, but a tan color. On this Breville, the crema seems to have more texture and more of a golden tan color. When I finish the drink, there’s still some crema on the side of the cup. I didn’t have that with the Saeco. This produces a more pronounced crema. And i’m pulling single shots which is more difficult to produce a nice crema. If I were to pull double shots, i’d probably get a thicker layer. I am using the single wall portafilters. They’re not difficult to use, so I don’t think you’ll need to use the pressurized double wall filters which according to the experts produces a “fake” crema, whatever that means. I’m not an espresso snob and some of the negative reviews irked me. Some claim that this machine is a toy and can’t compare to some other machines. I’d like to see them in a taste test between a properly pulled espresso shot from this machine and a machine that they prefer. I highly doubt they could tell a difference. I’m Italian and go to Italy every summer to visit my relatives. I have an espresso or two everyday. I honestly cannot tell a difference between the espresso I have had in Italy and the one I have had in my kitchen with this machine.

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My Kitchen Knife Review

knife prep work
A great knife will save you when you’re dicing and slicing and saves time and trouble. The different brands when it comes to knives usually differ in their weight, sharpness, steel, edge retention, design and aesthetics. I have come to discover that even with the same ingredient of steel, different knife makers can manufacture diverse quality knives. The intelligence of each blade is dependent to the knife maker.

I often like to say that just as you select your dance partner is the same way you choose a knife. The same knife that feels graceful and comfortable in your hand will feel totally the opposite in another person’s hand. Therefore below are just a few of the knives that would be considered as the best kitchen knives.

This particular knife, Wusthof Classic 8 inch, is a pro slicing tomato, cutting carrots and onions creating thin ribbons like shapes.

The J.A Henckels Classic 8 inch Chef’s Knife doesn’t compromise at all on performance. I cut with it onions and basils and it comfortably passed that test.

If you are looking for a smooth cut through some nice steak and works fast on the onions, then the Asian-style blade, Miyabi Morimoto Edition 9 inch Chef’s Knife is a must have. It has a thin blade which unfortunately is less fit for veggies that are hard like carrots.

One of my favorites knife is the Cat Cora’s 8 inch Chef’s Knife also Asian style blade. This is unique as it’s curved that is easily rocked back to front, therefore cutting leafy herbs or garlic is very easy.

A knife that is cheaper but battles with the pricier ones and even winning over other when it comes to slicing tomatoes is the Chicago Cultery’s Fusion 8 inch. The blade has a full tang which extends into the grip area which eases the control and handling of the knife.

Related: Cutlery Types

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Stuck with Nonstick Cookware

non stick cookware

We may be stuck with non-stick cookware forever, now that health-conscious individuals are finding low-cholesterol, low-calorie benefits in no-oil food preparation.

However, the biggest disappointment with ordinary non-stick cookware is that the marriage of the coating to the pan is far from a long-lasting bond.

Peter Liu, marketing director for Le Cook’s-Ware, Inc. in San Francisco, blames the short-lived performance to “the everyday abrasion of cooking utensils that wears out the non-stick coating.”

Enter Anolon cookware from Le Cook’s-Ware, introduced for the first time worldwide last week in Los Angeles. This black cookware with a tempered glass lid combines the world’s toughest cookware surface, called hard-anodized (which is twice as hard as stainless steel), with Du Pont’s SilverStone Supra, one of the most durable non-stick coatings.

Sauteing Without Oil

Anolon is amazing. Touch its super-smooth interior surface and you can guess what’s in store for you. Testing the little 7-inch skillet ($19.99) with no oil, I toasted cheese to “death” until it was crusty and browned and cooked a whole egg until it was picture-perfect. In the 11-inch stir-fry pan ($59.99), I sauteed (remember, no oil) Oriental egg noodles and shrimp, made fried rice, and browned julienned chicken breast, beef and pork. And I didn’t forget fish either, another problem food. Nothing stuck to the pan. The surface was smooth and cooked evenly all the way through with no spatters. Cleaning was a cinch, of course.

How long will this non-sticking last? Gary Wright, L.A. regional sales manager for Le Cook’s-Ware said: “We’ve run some aging cycle tests with the skillet–50,000 cycles, which is equivalent to 35 years of use–and we ended up with just a few pan scratches. We also used a metal spatula and put the pan in the dishwasher.”

To achieve good heat conduction and retention, aluminum is used in Anolon. When questioned about public concern in using aluminum, Liu explained: “The tempered anodizing process changes the molecular structure of the pan’s surface into an electrochemically hardened surface that keeps the food from interacting with the aluminum core. It becomes a double protection with the SilverStone Supra (a three-coat system that is forced into the anodized cavities of the metal).”

Forthcoming in the Anolon line is a good-size oval fish pan that’s perfect for whole fish. I like the stir-fry pan, which is almost as deep as a wok but offers an excellent weight. There is a seven-piece set ($219), which makes a nice starter collection and is appropriate for a bridal gift. This includes a 1 1/2-quart milk pan with lips, 10-inch open fry pan, an 8 1/2-inch open French skillet, a 2-quart covered saucepan and a 6-quart covered stockpot.

Another item that isn’t showing signs of being phased out of the kitchen is the slow cooker or Crock-Pot. It’s surprising how many people still swear by this seemingly old-fashioned electric cooking unit for a no-fuss meal.

In the actual sense, as Rival Manufacturing Co. says, it’s “slow cooking for fast times.” Working parents can start the cooker in the morning by putting in, for instance, a pot roast, and coming home to a moist and tender meat entree.

Source: latimes

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Running in the Dark Wild

running in the darkThere are a number of factors that you must consider before making an informed choice on which flashlight to purchase. The first thing is that you will have to read the best flashlight review to get detailed information about the different types of flash light. In addition, you have to know your specific needs as this will be basis on which you can make a selection. Do you need one which has rechargeable batteries or not. In fact, knowing the difference between lenon light and LED is paramount if you want to get value for your money. The run time, reflector make, Lumen, and candle power are additional facts that you must check out. You can find out more about flashlight in this best flashlight review 2015 website.

The best flashlight review of Fenix PD 22 is what you should read to consider buying high quality flash lights. This type of flashlight has superb features that make it easy-to-use. It includes a user friendly power button and a sleek design that makes it fit into the pocket without any hassle. Its length is 3.5 ” and weighs about 1.5 oz. The maximum lumens of this LED light is 190, and it uses battery type CR123 A, while the run time range stands at Turbo (2 hours 200Lm) – 97hrs at 8Lm (Low). Another important aspect that you have to know is that it is affordable and readily found in most reliable stores.

After considering your budget and looking at the different specifications, you must also consider the brand and model. This is vital as you will have to look at what offers you the highest utility value. Brands that are proven track records of quality are best, but you can opt for new brands on the market to have a feel of latest technology. You can never go wrong if you know the finer details of flashlights. Note the material that make any flashlight will determine the general durability of the product.

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Buying an Elliptical for Your Home


Regular exercises are mandatory for those people who place an importance on health. A large number of people are making a lot of efforts to make sure they stay healthy through exercises, diet or both. Owing to the fact that technology has improved a great deal, most of the work people engage in demands that one sits at their desk in front of the computer for several hours. This causes accumulation of fats as movement is scarce. In fact, the lack of movement leads to loss of toned muscles. Performing exercises on a daily basis is essential in keeping you healthy for the long term.

Due to tight schedules and many commitments, it becomes impossible for most people to exercise in the early mornings. Harsh climatic conditions may also hamper morning exercises. But due to advancement in technology, many different types of elliptical machines are available on the market. The best elliptical offer a workout for the entire body. Consequently, there is a fairly large range of brand names causing confusion among buyers. It’s clear that investing in the right elliptical exercise equipment will never be fruitless. But it is essential to buy the right elliptical trainer so that you can meet your goals effectively. You can easily choose your elliptical exercise machine with a few factors in mind.

Unlike bikes and treadmills which work on only one part of the body, elliptical exercises provide facilities for arms and leg exercises. Elliptical exercises can burn calories in less time and build up the upper torso if they are performed correctly. Before buying this exercise equipment there are significant things you need to look at. These include reading reviews of the product, the after sale service, their demand in the market and referrals. There are numerous places both online and offline selling this equipment. Moreover, you have to consider the reputation of the company in this field as well as its return policy.

Source: UHO Sports

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Top Travelling Mats for Yoga Nomads

Are you a jet setter? Or a person who has to travel a lot for business? Maybe you like to practice your Yoga in different scenic locations? Maybe you would like to do some Yoga to refresh your mind during your lunch break? If any of these descriptions fit you or even if you have to lug your own yoga mat to your class all the time, then I have some great news! There is a range of fantastic travel yoga mats out there that are lightweight and oh-so travel-friendly!

For a yoga mat to be travel-friendly it should be light and compact so that it doesn’t take up too much room in your bag or suitcase. However, we all want quality and durability so it would have to have those features too. Not to mention affordability! Best travel yoga mat reviews of 2014 have neatly laid out the Top 5 and it seems that their opinions are unanimous. Best travel yoga mats of 2014 (in no particular order) include; the Manduka eKO SuperLite Travel Mat, Gaiam Reversible Travel Yoga Mat, Jade Travel Yoga Mat, Khatalands YoFoMat-Best Travel Mat and the Lululemon Un Mat.

The Manduka eKO Super Light comes out as one of the favourites due to its ultra-light weight, the eco-friendly, biodegradable materials it is made from and a new-age design that prevents it from absorbing bacteria. The Gaiam Reversible is the lightest and cheapest of all travel yoga mats and is therefore also very popular, although not recommended for its durability. The Lululemon has a following even though it is the most expensive of all. The upside to all these mats is that can either be folded or rolled up compactly, are much lighter and smaller than traditional yoga mats and come in a variety of colours. The downsides are that because they are thinner than traditional yoga mats, they provide less padding. If padding is your main concern, then I suggest going for either the Jade Travel Yoga Mat or Khatalands YoFoMat as they are the thickest (and heaviest).

A purchase of one of these awesome travel yoga mats will set you back between $20 and $50. They need not only be used for travelling but can also act as an extra layer on top of your regular yoga mat for those hardcore classes. No longer do you have to take a break from your regular Yoga practice when going on vacation. In this fast-paced, ever-moving world it is nice to know that you can do your Yoga practice anywhere and at anytime with these innovative travel yoga mats.

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My Husband’s Gift For Our 10th Anniversary

My husband loves cycling but I don’t, he goes cycling every Saturday morning. We have been married for ten years now and I had no idea what to get him for our anniversary. After going through several options I opted to get him the best heart rate monitor watch with GPS which he could use every time he went out cycling.

I actually had no idea why having a heart rate monitor was important until I actually did a bit of research on the internet. I was surprised that I had never thought of getting one for myself. One of the importance of having a heart rate monitor as I learnt was that it helps keep your heart rate within the recommended rate while you exercise. Sometimes people tend to overdo their work outs which leads to an abnormally high heart rate which is quite dangerous. If your heart rate goes beyond the recommended rate, your heart rate monitor will alert you so that you can tone it down a little to avoid injury.

Another great advantage of a heart rate monitor is the fact that it helps you assess your improvement. To be able to challenge your body, you must be able to make slight improvements in your exercise. Having a heart rate monitor helps you record your fitness and helps you assess whether you are indeed improving your fitness or whether you are on a plateau. If you want to push yourself further so that you see better results, then I would suggest getting a heart rate monitor.

I also learnt that there are several different heart rate monitors which have varied features, personally I went for the best heart rate monitor watch with GPS because I felt that it would come in handy especially when my husband chooses to cycle on a new path which he is unfamiliar with. I am pretty sure that he will appreciate the fact that the GPS in his heart rate monitor will broaden his routes and he will no longer be limited to routes that he knows.

I have a feeling my husband will appreciate the gift especially because I have noticed that he seems to be on a mission to be even more committed to exercising these last few months. Perhaps the fear of growing old has finally caught up with him and he wants to ensure he maintains his youth for as long as he can. Personally, I just like the fact that he is on a mission to remain healthy, because to me he will always be handsome, even when he is old and wrinkled.

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