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Posts Tagged Experience Life

Experience Life Magazine

Love wraps? Want to make them healthier? Try this.

Find the recipe for these Dolmades With Collard Greens — a Greek-inspired appetizer — in “Celebrate! A Holiday Party Menu.”

Like wraps? Avoiding carbs, corn, or gluten? Wrap your dinner in a collard green.

Raw collard greens are sturdy, hold everything without breaking, and are insanely good for you. Eat some collard greens and increase your phytonutrient intake by one-million percent. OK, I’m exaggerating — but not by much. Here are just some of the things I’ve wrapped in this cruciferous vegetable:

  • Egg scramble
  • Tofu scramble
  • A bison burger
  • A grass-fed hamburger
  • A spicy chicken sausage
  • Keema (a ground lamb dish with Indian spices)
  • Pumpkin pancakes and dark chocolate (weird, I know, but oddly edible)

TELL US: What creative food swaps have you made? Comment below or tweet us @Experiencelife.

Laine Bergeson is an Experience Life senior editor. 

Experience Life Magazine

TAKING NOTES: Why Good Bacteria Are Our Friends

Good Bacteria, Welcome

Read more about the benefits of gut flora in “Good Bacteria, Welcome.”

In February, several Experience Life staffers (including me!) attended the annual Integrative Healthcare Symposium (IHS) in New York City. It is truly one of my favorite times of the year — a chance to learn, walk, talk, and eat with my fantastic co-workers.

Below are some of the key takeaways from “Restoring Balance and Harmony to the Gut Microbiome,” a talk on the all-important gut-health connection given by two digestive-health dynamos — Gerard Mullin, MD, an integrative gastroenterologist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Liz Lipski, PhD, a holistic clinical nutritionist specializing in digestive wellness. Bon appétit!

  • There is a lot more information going from the gut to the brain than the brain to the gut. –Liz Lipski
  • We can use food as medicine to alter the composition of our gut flora. –Gerard Mullin
  • One dose of Cipro can have lasting effects on the immune system. –Gerard Mullin
  • When you deplete good bacteria, you can have an overgrowth of the pathogens that float through us everyday, such as C. difficile. –Gerard Mullin
  • I had a friend who had most of his colon taken out. He had depression all his life and was on medications and never felt good and had chronic fatigue, but when they took out his colon, he went off all his meds and now he feels like a million bucks. You think there was some kind of gut-brain connection there? I do. –Liz Lipski
  • We eat to take in nutrients. But, at the same time, we are also feeding the three to four pounds of bacteria that run our immune system and our metabolism — if we don’t give them the right substances, they are not going to give the right messages to our cells and our genes. –Liz Lipski
  • After Hiroshima, people who drank miso soup had lower rates of cancer and death. –Liz Lipski
  • Carbohydrates is what the bugs like to eat, so if we can control the types of carbs we give people, then we can have a profound effect on health. –Liz Lipski
  • Our microbiota educates the immune system to recognize self from non-self. –Gerard Mullin


For more on the microbiome and the gut-health connection, see “Your Microbiome: The Ecosystem Inside” from our June 2013 issue.

 Anjula Razdan is a senior editor for Experience Life

Experience Life Magazine

A Simpler, Cleaner Makeup Regimen

Learn about about a growing number of companies that are cleaning up their cosmetic lines in “Beauty Makeover.”

I’ve been playing with and wearing makeup for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories, in fact, is the day my grandparents took me to visit my new baby sister in the hospital. I was 2 1/2 years old, and wore my grandmother’s bright red lipstick; I also donned a pair of large clip-on costume earrings that were pink. The rest is history.

I’ve learned over the years, thankfully, that less is more. It wasn’t until last spring, though, that I began cleaning up my makeup supply, aiming to get rid of all those toxin-laden products. It was one of the last areas in my home to be clean-sweeped of nasty, no-good-for-you ingredients — many of which have never been tested for safety:

The FDA still has no real oversight on the cosmetics industry. Determining the safety of a product remains up to the company that makes it, and not all yet have consumer well-being top of mind. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Web site, “The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), the industry’s self-policing safety panel, falls far short of compensating for the lack of FDA oversight. . . . [I]n its more than 30-year history, the CIR has reviewed the safety of only 11 percent of the ingredients used to formulate personal-care products.”

One way this not-so-regulatory climate could change is if the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011 (or something like it) eventually passes. The bill would grant the FDA authority (and, more significantly, responsibility) for ensuring that personal-care products do not contain harmful ingredients. “The bill would phase out carcinogens and reproductive toxins; it would require full disclosure of ingredients [including in salon products and fragrance, currently protected under trade-secret laws], and it would set up a safety review system under the FDA. It would give the FDA funding through fees on the big companies — they’d essentially be paying for an FDA review instead of their own review,” explains Stacy Malkan, the author of Not Just a Pretty Face: the Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry. — “Beauty Makeover,” Experience Life, Jan/Feb 2012)

I started my quest for clean by perusing Experience Life‘s Worthy Goods, where we feature everything from personal-care products to sports gear. That’s where I came across pro-aging advocate and former makeup artist Cindy Joseph’s BOOM! products. These three “sticks” — Glo is an all-over moisturizer; Color is a blush and lipstick; Glimmer is for shimmer and radiance — are made with natural ingredients and contain no parabens or phthalates.

Joseph’s philosophy is not to mask wrinkles, but rather to highlight the “stories” left by years of living: “BOOM! is for women who want to reveal their genuine beauty with an honest and realist approach.”

I shared this revolutionary approach with my mother-in-law a day or two later — she too was looking for a simpler beauty regimen.

Fast-forward to early June: I had just given birth to my second daughter, and was feeling and looking less than 100 percent when my in-laws stopped by to meet their new granddaughter. My dismay at them seeing me in this state was quickly remedied when I opened a gift: the BOOMSTICK Trio!

That was nine months ago, and BOOMSTICKS are at the core of my makeup regimen, with a few products from Dr. Hauschka, Burt’s Bees, and Origins rounding out my cosmetic bag. I’ve had more compliments than ever, with people regularly commenting on my “glow.”

In those moments, I always share my affection for these clean products: Not only do I feel beautiful when I use them, but I also feel good about what it’s them. Plus, the regimen is simple: It takes me less than two minutes to get ready in the mornings — a necessity when you’re wrangling kids and trying to get out the door.

Now if only I could find a way to simplify my hair-care routine …

TELL US: What clean personal-care products do you love? Comment below or tweet us @ExperienceLife.

Jamie Martin is Experience Life’s director of digital initiatives. 

Experience Life Magazine

Fenugreek Hot Chocolate Recipe


Pulverized fenugreek seeds. (Image via nuts.com.)

In my ongoing quest to avoid sugar (yet not completely strip my diet of joy), I’ve made a tasty new discovery: When added to a dark hot chocolate, fenugreek powder gives the drink a maple syrup flavor; no other sweetener necessary!

On top of being a big fat ZERO when it comes to raising your blood sugar, fenugreek is crazy, ridiculously good for you, thanks to a naturally occurring compound called diosgenin, which has been shown to improve glucose metabolism, reduce inflammation, and protect against a particularly pernicious form of breast cancer (HER2).

The compound is fat soluble, however, so make sure you load up your fenugreek drinks with a healthy fat. Here’s what I’ve been making:

Fenugreek Hot Chocolate

  • One cup boiling water
  • 1 to 2 tsp. organic raw cacao powder (depending on preference)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp. fenugreek powder (depending on preference)
  • 3 (or more!) tbs. homemade almond milk (though any full-fat milk or milk alternative would work)

Stir. Drink. Let your cells bask in an unprecedented state of anti-inflammation and metabolic efficiency!

Laine Bergeson is an Experience Life senior editor. 

Experience Life Magazine

5 More Meditations for the Workplace

Ahhh, balance!

We recently posted five “stealth meditations” from Sharon Salzberg’s book Real Happiness at Work. Each takes one minute or less and can improve a working day considerably. If you found those helpful, here are five more to try:

“If you are feeling down or discouraged, consider helping someone at work. Science has identified a happiness-helping loop. The more you help, the happier you can be.” (178)

“When walking to a meeting or to lunch, feel your feet against the ground and the sense of your body moving through space. Do not text or take calls while you are doing this.” (188)

“Use doorways consciously. As you come upon that in-between space, feel your feet against the floor, your hand on the knob; touch the doorway you pass through.” (208)

“Look for ways to acknowledge someone’s challenges. Even when you can’t fix things, people appreciate the recognition that the workload is growing, that the new deadline is a killer, that it’s hard to deal with others’ grumpiness.” (222)

“If you find yourself straining to think ‘outside the box’, explore what made up that box. Understanding how you got to where you are is the first step in going beyond that point.” (234)

If you test any of these out and find them helpful, let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @ExperienceLife.

Courtney Helgoe is an Experience Life senior editor.  

Experience Life Magazine

Kale & Coffee Smoothie


Drink your coffee and your veggies at the same time!

This morning I made this green smoothie inspired by Kris Carr’s Aztec Spirit smoothie recipe. It was awesome!

Kale & Coffee Smoothie

  • 5 Brazil nuts
  • 2 tbs. chia seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups kale (stems and all)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 half packet of Starbucks Via (you could use any powdered coffee)
  • A pinch of cayenne
  • Approximately 2 1/2 cups water

Blend in a high-speed blender until smooth. Drink. Enjoy!

TELL US: What’s your favorite healthy smoothie recipe? Comment below or tweet us at @ExperienceLife. 

Laine Bergeson is an Experience Life senior editor. 

Experience Life Magazine

“Stealth Meditations” for the Workplace

Real Happiness at Work by Sharon Salzberg

The book jacket for renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg’s new book. Image via SharonSalzberg.com 

The stress and pressure of the average workplace doesn’t always bring out the best in people, but there’s no better place to develop real equanimity. (It’s kind of like New York City — if you can make peace at work, you can make it anywhere.) Renowned meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg’s new book, Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace, offers some “stealth meditations” you can build into your workday to help you find grace under pressure a little more easily. Here are a few to try:

“Try to perform a simple, conscious act of kindness each day. It can be as simple as holding an elevator door.” (18)

“Unitask! Focus exclusively on just one thing for a small portion of time. Try setting a timer for 15 minutes, so you can focus without straining.” (34)

“If you’re on a conference call, refrain from checking your email or doing another task at the same time.” (44)

“Every time you feel bored, pay more acute attention to the moment. Are you listening carefully or are you multitasking? Try to be fully present with just one thing.” (51)

“For an upcoming one-on-one conversation, resolve to listen more and speak less.” (144)

TELL US: Do you have any strategies for centering yourself at work? Comment below or tweet us at @ExperienceLife.

Courtney Helgoe a senior editor for Experience Life

Experience Life Magazine

Sofa Olympian (or, How to do a Tripod Scissors Kick)


Training hard for the Sofa Olympics

Watching winter Olympians push their bodies to the limits while I lay supine on my sofa has made me feel, well, if not lazy, at least not terrifically ambitious. Soooooo … now I’m watching ski jumping and ice dancing from side plank or while doing triceps pushups.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Laine, can your body handle this strenuous workout? How can you hit your fifth pushup without collapsing? Do you wear a helmet when you do crow pose? I mean, did you see that female Slopestyler who cracked her helmet?!?!”

Join me in my quest to be the most decorated Sofa Olympian of all time. Here’s an easy-to-do-on-your-living-room-floor bodyweight exercise. (Spoiler alert: This is from a forthcoming, all-bodyweight core workout we’re doing in a future issue. Look for the full workout in a couple months!)

Tripod Scissors Kick

  1. Start in a plank position on your hands with your feet in a wide stance (the wider, the more challenging).
  2. Extend your right hip to lift your right foot off the floor, then move your right leg (still elevated) inward to hip width. Move your leg back outward, contracting your glute. Continue the movement for 40 seconds, then return your foot to the ground.
  3. Rest for 20 seconds, then repeat on the left side.

Do as many sets as desired before the ice dancing comes back on!

Modified version: Keep your feet at hip width and alternate lifting the left and right leg.

… And for even more ways to train, click here.

We are champions!

TELL US: What’s your favorite Olympic sport to watch? What’s your favorite bodyweight exercise? Comment below or tweet us at @ExperienceLife. 

Laine Bergeson is an Experience Life senior editor. 

Experience Life Magazine

Best. Roast. Chicken. Ever. (Really.)

When it’s this frigid outside, you can either curl up on the couch in a fetal position, or you can go roast a chicken in the oven. If you choose the latter option, you simply must make Ina Garten’s “Perfect Roast Chicken“ recipe. Better known as “The Barefoot Contessa,” Garten is renown in the cooking world for testing and re-testing her recipes until they are both perfect and accessible.

Ina Garten's Perfect Roast Chicken

Ina’s Perfect Roast Chicken (Image: FoodNetwork.com)

I had this chicken last week, and it truly was the best roast chicken ever. Super crisp on the outside, perfectly juicy on the inside. (I’m more of a dark-meat lady, but even the chicken breasts were succulent).

The best part? There was no basting involved. After prepping the chicken and throwing it in the oven, you have 90 uninterrupted minutes to read, pad around the house, or, if you so desire, curl up on the couch in a fetal position. (No judgement here.)

 Get the recipe at www.foodnetwork.com

TELL US: What’s your favorite cold-weather meal? Comment below or tweet us at @ExperienceLife. 

Anjula Razdan is an Experience Life senior editor. 

Experience Life Magazine

Bill Does Yoga

For the past decade, I’ve taught yoga at various places in the southern suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul — yoga studios, fitness centers, spas, and a community center.

The community center is the first place I started teaching at in late 2003, and the one place I’ve remained consistently all these years. What’s interesting about the class there is the age of my students: Many are in their 50s, with quite a few in their 60s, quickly closing in on 70.

I’ve gotten to know many of my students quite well, and after class the other night, Bill (not his real name) came up to talk. Bill doesn’t look like your average yogi: He’s approaching 70, is recently retired, and he’s stocky with wonderfully grayed hair and a full white beard … a yogi Santa Claus, if you will.

Bill has neck and shoulder issues due to an old sports injury that has left his upper body rather stiff and reduced his range of motion significantly. The stiffness causes his downward dog to be less than picture perfect, and he has challenges stacking his shoulders in revolved poses. The extra “stuff” around his midsection doesn’t allow for the graceful transitions from pose to pose and tends to get in the way during forward folds.

But none of that matters — because Bill does yoga! And he has been doing the physical practice of yoga for over eight years!


Half Pigeon Pose

During the holidays, Bill told me, he mentioned to his family that he has been taking my class for several years. His son, who didn’t know his dad did yoga, asked if Bill could demonstrate a pose. So, Bill got on the floor and demonstrated one-legged pigeon pose (illustrated at right).

Bill’s son and other family members were stunned. One-legged pigeon (also known as half pigeon) is a fairly advanced pose that causes a strong opening on the outer hip of the bent leg and the psoas of the extended leg.

Now keep in mind that Bill’s body doesn’t get in the exact position as the illustration above. Neither does mine — a lot hips just don’t move that way. (Many people have the front bent leg tucked underneath them with their hips raised significantly off the ground; yoga blocks, bolsters, and blankets can be used to help support the hips for people who are really tight through the areas affected by this pose.)

But demonstrating this pose for his family offered Bill a great epiphany: He is more flexible and nimble than many men his age, and it’s something he has taken for granted.

What’s important for others to gather from this little story is that you can do yoga, no matter your age, strength, or level of flexibility. Truly, there are no perfect bodies allowed. Yoga is about starting where you’re at — physically, mentally, spiritually.

But before you run out to purchase a yoga mat and jump into any old class, a few pieces of advice:

  • Let go of your ego. The ego has no place in a yoga class. Avoid the tendency to push your body too quickly or too hard, and avoid comparing yourself to other people in your class (every body is different). Move slowly and be gentle with yourself.
  • Start with a gentle/beginner format no matter how physically strong or flexible you are, and take several classes at that level. This will allow you to learn how to do the poses correctly and how to transition from one pose to the next. You’ll greatly reduce the possibility of injury and begin to gain the stamina and flexibility needed to advance your yoga practice. Please refer to bullet point one if you feel you should jump into an advanced class. On that note …
  • Don’t just wander into any old class. I once witnessed a first-time student  walk into a class that was far too advanced for her, and have often wondered if she ever returned to yoga or if she now has a jilted mindset toward the practice because of that experience. Choose wisely!
  • Love the props. The blocks, blankets, straps, wall, and chairs are there to make the poses safer and more comfortable. Again, please refer back to bullet point one if you think you don’t need the props.
  • Please let the teacher know if something is uncomfortable or hurts. Your instructor should be able to provide modifications so you don’t risk an injury and you’ll be more comfortable.
  • Have an open mind. Yoga is slower moving when compared to other physical practices. It forces you into your mind, which can be overwhelming for some, and the physical practice is quite different from other physical fitness practices since it integrates the spiritual component.
  • Try several classes and teachers before saying yoga’s not for you. You may not be a fan of the style, or you may not be connecting with the teacher you started with. If you try several classes of a certain style or with the same person and you aren’t enjoying it, try something else (for an introduction to various styles of yoga, see “Yoga 4 You“).

If you’d like to be like Bill and impress your friends and family when you’re 60, 70, 80, or older (please feel free to invite your ego back in here — but keep it in check), start practicing yoga now. Your Future You will thank your Present You.

Tell Us: Do you practice yoga? What benefits have you enjoyed? Comment below or tweet us at @ExperienceLife.

Christy Rice is Experience Life‘s circulation coordinator. 

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