The Akrasia Effect: Why We Make Plans but Don’t Follow Through

Humans are prolific procrastinators. It’s easy to make plans and throw dates on your calendar, and yet it’s practically inevitable that you’ll let some deadlines fly by with reckless abandon. Our brains simply prefer instant rewards to long-term payoffs. Given this tendency, we often have to resort to crazy strategies to get things done.

This post originally appeared on James Clear’s blog.

By the summer of 1830, Victor Hugo was facing an impossible deadline. Twelve months earlier, the famous French author had made an agreement with his publisher that he would write a new book titled, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Instead of writing the book, Hugo spent the next year pursuing other projects, entertaining guests, and delaying his work on the text. Hugo’s publisher had become frustrated by his repeated procrastination and responded by setting a formidable deadline. The publisher demanded that Hugo finish the book by February of 1831—less than six months away.

Hugo developed a plan to beat his procrastination. He collected all of his clothes, removed them from his chambers, and locked them away. He was left with nothing to wear except a large shawl. Lacking any suitable clothing to go outdoors, Hugo was no longer tempted to leave the house and get distracted. Staying inside and writing was his only option.

The strategy worked. Hugo remained in his study each day and wrote furiously during the fall and winter of 1830. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was published two weeks early on January 14, 1831.

The Ancient Problem of Akrasia

Human beings have been procrastinating for centuries. Even prolific artists like Victor Hugo are not immune to the distractions of daily life. The problem is so timeless, in fact, that ancient Greek philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle developed a word to describe this type of behavior: Akrasia.

Akrasia is the state of acting against your better judgment. It is when you do one thing even though you know you should do something else. Loosely translated, you could say that akrasia is procrastination or a lack of self-control. Akrasia is what prevents you from following through on what you set out to do.

Why would Victor Hugo commit to writing a book and then put it off for over a year? Why do we make plans, set deadlines, and commit to goals, but then fail to follow through on them?

Why We Make Plans, But Don’t Take Action

One explanation for why akrasia rules our lives and procrastination pulls us in has to do with a behavioral economics term called “time inconsistency.” Time inconsistency refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards.

When you make plans for yourself—like setting a goal to lose weight or write a book or learn a language—you are actually making plans for your future self. You are envisioning what you want your life to be like in the future and when you think about the future it is easy for your brain to see the value in taking actions with long-term benefits.

When the time comes to make a decision, however, you are no longer making a choice for your future self. Now you are in the moment and your brain is thinking about the present self. And researchers have discovered that the present self really likes instant gratification, not long-term payoff. This is one reason why you might go to bed feeling motivated to make a change in your life, but when you wake up you find yourself falling into old patterns. Your brain values long-term benefits when they are in the future, but it values immediate gratification when it comes to the present moment.

This is one reason why the ability to delay gratification is such a great predictor of success in life. Understanding how to resist the pull of instant gratification—at least occasionally, if not consistently—can help you bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

The Akrasia Antidote: 3 Ways to Beat Procrastination

Here are three ways to overcome akrasia, beat procrastination, and follow through on what you set out to do.

Strategy 1: Design Your Future Actions

When Victor Hugo locked his clothes away so he could focus on writing, he was creating what psychologists refer to as a “commitment device.” Commitment devices are strategies that help improve your behavior by either increasing the obstacles or costs of bad behaviors or reducing the effort required for good behaviors.

You can curb your future eating habits by purchasing food in individual packages rather than in the bulk size. You can stop wasting time on your phone by deleting games or social media apps. You can reduce the likelihood of mindless channel surfing by hiding your TV in a closet and only taking it out on big game days. You can voluntarily ask to be added to the banned list at casinos and online gambling sites to prevent future gambling sprees. You can build an emergency fund by setting up an automatic transfer of funds to your savings account. These are commitment devices.

The circumstances differ, but the message is the same: commitment devices can help you design your future actions. Find ways to automate your behavior beforehand rather than relying on willpower in the moment. Be the architect of your future actions, not the victim of them.

Strategy 2: Reduce the Friction of Starting

The guilt and frustration of procrastinating is usually worse than the pain of doing the work. In the words of Eliezer Yudkowsky, “On a moment-to-moment basis, being in the middle of doing the work is usually less painful than being in the middle of procrastinating.”

So why do we still procrastinate? Because it’s not being in the work that is hard, it’sstarting the work. The friction that prevents us from taking action is usually centered around starting the behavior. Once you begin, it’s often less painful to do the work. This is why it is often more important to build the habit of getting started when you’re beginning a new behavior than it is to worry about whether or not you are successful at the new habit.

You have to constantly reduce the size of your habits. Put all of your effort and energy into building a ritual and make it as easy as possible to get started. Don’t worry about the results until you’ve mastered the art of showing up.

Strategy 3: Utilize Implementation Intentions

An implementation intention is when you state your intention to implement a particular behavior at a specific time in the future. For example, “I will exercise for at least 30 minutes on [DATE] in [PLACE] at [TIME].”

There are hundreds of successful studies showing how implementation intentions positively impact everything from exercise habits to flu shots. In the flu shot study, researchers looked at a group of 3,272 employees at a Midwestern company and found that employees who wrote down the specific date and time they planned to get their flu shot were significantly more likely to follow through weeks later.

It seems simple to say that scheduling things ahead of time can make a difference, but as I have covered previously, implementation intentions can make you 2x to 3x more likely to perform an action in the future.

Fighting Akrasia

Our brains prefers instant rewards to long-term payoffs. It’s simply a consequence of how our minds work. Given this tendency, we often have to resort to crazy strategies to get things done—like Victor Hugo locking up all of his clothes so he could write a book. But I believe it is worth it to spend time building these commitment devices if your goals are important to you.

Aristotle coined the term enkrateia as the antonym of akrasia. While akrasiarefers to our tendency to fall victim to procrastination, enkrateia means to be “in power over oneself.” Designing your future actions, reducing the friction of starting good behaviors, and using implementation intentions are simple steps that you can take to make it easier to live a life of enkrateia rather than one of akrasia.

The Akrasia Effect: Why We Don’t Follow Through on What We Set Out to Do (And What to Do About It) | James Clear

How Did They Make Ice Cream in the 17th Century?

How Did They Make Ice Cream in the 17th Century?  

History’s first confirmed ice cream graced the court of Charles II in 1671. It was made using a special flavor, orange blossom, and one very special chemical ingredient that made ice cream without refrigeration possible in the first place.

Ask who served the first ice cream and you’ll get a variety of answers. Sources name-drop everyone from the the Roman emperor Nero to Catherine de Medici. It’s true that various members of history’s elite enjoyed cooled or frozen drinks, but they hadn’t figured out how to turn cream into ice. The first confirmed mention of “ice cream” came during a feast given by the British king Charles II.

According to legend, Charles paid the maker a yearly stipend to keep the recipe secret, but it got out by the 1680s, when the Grace Countess Granvillewrote it down. In her recipe, she revealed what was probably the first ever flavor of ice cream, telling people to “sweeton” their “creame” and then add “orange flower water.” In other words, orange blossom. Orange blossom ice cream continued to be the only available flavor until the very end of the 1600s, at which point flavors like chocolate, lemon, and pumpkin joined the party.

How Did They Make Ice Cream in the 17th Century?  

And what an explosive party it was. We know now that mixing ordinary salt with ice is the first step to making our own ice cream at home. It’s a fast process that needs a simple chemical. Put a container filled with cream, possible an egg or two, sugar, and flavoring into a big bucket of ice and add some salt to the ice. As the salt mixes with the ice, it lowers its freezing temperature—which is why salt gets poured on the roads every winter. Ice doesn’t pop back to its liquid state spontaneously. It needs energy in the form of heat. That heat is provided from the ice around it, and from the cream mixture.

People in the 1600s weren’t aware of this. Instead of using salt to lower the temperature of the mixture, they used saltpeter. Saltpeter, KNO₃, was first used for making fireworks and gunpowder. It’s possible that this is how people stumbled upon its freezing properties.

Or it could be that early alchemists were experimenting with saltpeter and found out it froze substances. It’s even possible that people stumbled on the secret of ice cream while looking to preserve their chastity—saltpeter was rumored to suppress the libido.

All we know for sure is that, in 1558, an Italian scholar and playwright called Giambattista della Porta published a book called “Natural Magick” and recommended that people mix saltpeter and ice, then dip a vial of watered wine into the mixture, rotating it until it “congealed” to make a kind of wine slushie. From there, the secret of icing drinks slowly spread across Europe until, 113 years later, ice cream emerged as a royal delicacy.

Unlock Facebook Messenger Secret Chess Game

fbchess

Did you know you could play chess with a friend directly in a Facebook chat window? All you need is a special phrase to launch the chess board and start playing.

BetaNews shares the instructions:

  1. During a conversation, type @fbchess play and a board will appear. Your friend will go first.
  2. Select a piece using K for king, Q for queen, B for bishop, N for knight, R for rook, or P for pawn.
  3. Then add the letter and number representing the space you want to move it on the board.

So, for example, you’d type @fbchess Pc4 to move it to that space. If more than one piece can go there, you’ll be asked which one to move.

By the way, if you want a larger view of the chess board, click on the chat menu settings icon and select “See Full Conversation.”

Sure there are tons of great/better chess games you can play online with your friends, but this built-in one is accessible to everyone you know on Facebook.

11 Inventions That Could’ve Changed The World If Only Greed Hadn’t Set In

We could really have been living in a different world right now. A world with a lot more harmony among mankind. A world with a lot less conflict. A happier world for sure. But that wouldn’t have been profitable for some, now would it?

Before you call me cynical, here’s a list of 13 inventions that could have revolutionised the way we live but didn’t. Because greed came in the way.

1. General Motors EV1

EV1

blog.hemmings.com

EV1 was the world’s first mass-produced electric car. The decision to mass-produce an electric car came after GM received a favourable reception for its 1990 Impact electric concept car, from which the design of the EV1 drew heavily. This single-speed reduction integrated with motor and differential, a 2-door coupe was in production between 1996-1999, producing a total of 1,117 units.

The car was discouraged, and supposedly discontinued, after oil companies started showing their displeasure and discouraging manufacturers. Unfortunately, General Motors destroyed most of the units, and discontinued the car.

2. Project XA

Project XA

wallpoper.com

Project XA was a long-term project by the Liggett group. Liggett spent around $15 million and 12 years of research to come up with cigarettes that were considerably safer than conventional cigarettes. These cigarettes would have most carcinogens removed, which would reduce the harm done by tobacco and its by products.

Other tobacco companies didn’t like the implication that their tobacco was harmful. Defendant Brown & Williamson threatened Liggett’s “very existence” if it marketed the cigarette. Later R. J. Reynolds told the FDA that it was because the tobacco industry wanted to put across that “conventional cigarettes weren’t unsafe”. Calling one safer than the other would put their business in jeopardy.

3. Cold Fusion

Cold Fusion

simplyeliquid.co.uk

Cold fusion describes a form of energy generated when hydrogen interacts with various metals like nickel and palladium. Which, in layman terms, stands for a nuclear reaction that would occur at, or very near room temperature. That would mean a very high possibility of a cheap and abundant source of energy at one’s disposal.

Apparently, a number of failed experiments led to rival scientists and other members in the fraternity branding it as junk science. Even though funding for further tests in cold fusion is very hard to obtain, a small number of researchers continue to investigate the theory.

4. The Chronovisor

Chromevisor

3.bp.blospt.com

This, if true, has to be one of the most insane inventions that got lost in time. Father François Brunes, the author of several books on the paranormal and religion, in his 2002 book Le Nouveau Mystère du Vatican (“The Vatican’s New Mystery”) talks about the Chronovisor. The Chronovisor was apparently a fully functional device with which one could see, or hear things from the past! In the book, Brunes mentions that the device was built by a certain Pellegrino Ernetti, an Italian priest and scientist. Described as a large cabinet with a cathode ray tube for viewing the received events, and a series of buttons, levers, and other controls for selecting the time and the location to be viewed, it worked by receiving, decoding and reproducing electromagnetic radiation left behind from past events. It could also pick up the audio component or sound waves emitted by these same events. Ernetti said that he had observed, among other historical events, Christ’s crucifixion and photographed it as well. A copy of this image, Ernetti said, appeared in the 2 May 1972 issue of La Domenica del Corriere, an Italian weekly news magazine. The device being intriguing to say the least, but the existence, let alone the functionality of the Chronovisor was never validated. Some believe the device can still be found in the Vatican.

5. The Rife Beam

Rife Beam

rifedigital.com

Dr Royal Raymond Rife or Roy Rife, an American optics engineer, claimed to have invented a device that would have completely changed the health sector. The genius that many claim Dr. Rife was, engineered an electronic device in the 1930s that would destroy pathogens, bacteria, even viruses without leaving any toxic side effects. This meant that cancer, the life threatening disease that it has become off-late would have been as easy to cure as a common cold. The beam could completely destroy cancer by altering the cancer’s cellular environment or by killing cancer viruses with an electronic or ultra sonic beam.

You could probably guess exactly what happened next. The cancer cure industry is a multi-billion dollar one which wouldn’t have been so had the beam reached the public. Dr. Rife claimed that the American Medical Association, with pressure from the medical mafia discredited his life-saving device. Currently only a handful of doctors are holding this technology together, hoping that someday, it will save humanity.

6. Water Fuel Cell

Water Fuel Cell

YouTube

American Stanley Allen Meyer came up with a Water Fuel Cell in which the cell splits water into its component elements, hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen would then be used to generate energy. According to Meyer, the device required less energy to perform electrolysis than the minimum energy requirement predicted or measured by conventional science. He claimed that this could revolutionise the automobile industry.

This theory, however, was found to be fraudulent by an Ohio court in 1996. But the suspicions surrounding his sudden death is what makes people think that his technology could have been suppressed.

7. The Cloudbuster

Cloudbuster

simonfellows.co.uk

Designed by Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, the Cloudbuster was a pseudo-scientific device that could be used to produce rain by manipulating what he termed as orgone energy present in the atmosphere. Successfully tested in 1953, it was intended to be used like a lightening rod that would draw the orgone energy out of the atmosphere, causing the formation of clouds and rain. Famine wouldn’t have been a word that’s used so often in today’s day and age if a technology like this were to be made available.

Being a controversial figure, Reich was arrested, and all his works were destroyed.

8. Implosion Generators

Implosion Generators

free-energy.ws

Another device that could produce free energy based on implosion and water vortices was invented by Viktor Schauberger. But we couldn’t find a lot of information on the Austrian’s invention and his theory on vortex energy. Viktor’s invention was later buried by his U.S partners.

9. Wardenclyffe Towers

Tesla

googleusercontent.com

Scientist Nikola Tesla was one of the most interesting figures in history, with many of his theories and inventions being ahead of their time. His rise could have given birth to a number of world-altering technologies, but unfortunately that never happened. The Wardenclyffe Tower could have perhaps been the most important one. He attempted to provide free energy to everyone across the globe by harnessing electricity from the Earth’s ionosphere by means of towers. Without wires, the towers could transmit the harnessed electricity to ground-level areas requiring it.

But what’s a world if people can’t mint money out of a path-breaking product right? The thought of giving every individual across the globe free electricity didn’t go down well with the douchebags in power. Tesla’s  funding was stopped. His equipment and lab was burned down together with the related intellectual property because it posed a threat to undercutting the cost of the conventional electricity grid system. Tesla, who could have been the most important man in human history, died a poverty-stricken, lonely and forgotten man in New York.

10. The anti-gravity device

Anti Gravity Device

starburstfound.org

Thomas Townsend Brown developed discs that used electrogravitic propulsion to build devices that could defy gravity. But what happens when something too good to be true comes along the way? It becomes classified information and is shoved into rubble. That’s exactly what happened with Brown’s experiments as well. The results of his study were so impressive that it never saw the light of day.

11. The Unified Theory

Unified Thoery

vitamincfoundation.org

Linus Pauling and Matthias Rath worked together to come up with a unified approach to curing heart diseases. Following a brilliant study, they found that heart disease is a result of a long-term vitamin C deficiency. The solution was to treat patients with frequent high doses (e.g. 6g/day) of vitamin C while using the amino acids lysine and proline to remove the atherosclerotic plaque lining the inner walls of the blood vessels, that cause blockages, thereby restricting blood flow and cardiovascular disease.

But I’m sure you can see why we don’t see it in practice. It was a financial threat to the pharmaceutical industry. A highly successful cheap alternative therapy is not good for business at all.

Here Are 49 Ways In Which Alcohol Is Actually Good For Your Health

This weekend, you can round up your friends and have a drink without feeling guilty about it, because alcohol – in the right amount – can actually be good for your health. Yes, really!

Check out the health benefits of your favourite spirits.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

1. Regulates cholesterol

Beer raises your HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels, thereby preventing your arteries from getting clogged and improving your heart health.

2. Boosts brain power

Research shows that people who drink beer in moderate amounts are less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than non-beer drinkers.

3. Soothes a cold

Beer is made of barley, which when warmed up can improve blood circulation and reduce congestion. So, the next time you have a cold, drink a warm beer!

4. Contains fibre and B vitamins

Certain dark varieties of beer contain fibre, which can slow down the absorption of alcohol and regulate your digestion. Beer is also rich in B vitamins like folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin and vitamins B6 and B12. These vitamins make your skin soft and smooth, and can reverse pigmentation to some extent.

5. Prevents kidney stones

Beer has kidney-protective properties, so much so that it can lower your chances of getting kidney stones by a whopping 40 percent!

6. Strengthens bones

A study found that drinking two beers a day can improve bone density, but be careful because the same study found that drinking more than two beers increases your chances of getting a fracture.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

1. Aids weight loss

Vodka is carbohydrate-free and has only 64 calories per ounce! The problem arises when people mix it with sugary juices and soft drinks. The trick is to mix it with water or soda, and add lemon, mint leaves or fruits for flavour.

2. Regulates blood pressure

Vodka improves your blood circulation and regulates your blood pressure, thereby reducing your chances of having a heart attack.

3. Relieves stress

Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it slows down the activity of the brain and the central nervous system, making you more relaxed. Among all the various types of alcohol, vodka is particularly effective when it comes to stress-relief.

4. Lowers fever

If a person has high fever, applying vodka on their forehead, arms, legs and chest can help bring down their temperature.

5. Improves digestion

Adding small amounts of vodka to your food can do wonders for your digestion. Penne vodka, anyone?

6. Soothes toothaches

Applying a little vodka to your tooth can cure a toothache, since it disinfects the tooth and numbs the pain a little.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

1. Boosts brain power

Whiskey is loaded with ellagic acid, a chemical that improves cognitive function and prevents diseases like Alzheimer’s. You have to consume it in moderation however, because drinking too much of it does just the opposite.

2. Protects your heart

Over a hundred different studies have shown that alcohol has heart-protective benefits, and whiskey is one of the foremost in this department. In fact, research shows that drinking moderate amounts of whiskey on a regular basis can reduce your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke by 50 percent!

3. Prevents cancer

Ellagic acid is a powerful antioxidant that also prevents cancer. It battles the harmful free radicals that your body produces, keeping diseases at bay.

4. Boosts immunity

The jury is still out on this one, but some studies show that whiskey has the power to boost your immunity, helping your system fight off colds, illnesses and infections.

5. Prevents diabetes

Whiskey can reduce your chances of getting diabetes by 30 to 40 percent, because it improves your body’s ability to manage glucose.

6. Helps weight loss

Whiskey too has zero carbs and is low in calories. Drinking a small amount of whiskey after a meal can improve digestion and suppress your appetite, preventing you from overeating.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

1. Contains medicinal properties

There’s a reason why we always associate rum with sailors. The British navy would give each of its sailors a ration of rum, because rum can help prevent scurvy, a condition marked by a deficiency of Vitamin C.

2. Increases longevity

Drinking moderate amounts of rum can add anywhere between 2 to 5 years to your life!

3. Prevents muscle and bone problems

Rum can help reduce muscle pain and prevent osteoporosis, since it increases bone mineral density.

4. Treats the common cold

Rum has antimicrobial properties that can help you do away with those sniffles.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

1. Lowers your blood sugar levels

Tequila is made from the agave plant, which contains a natural sugar called agave. Agave triggers insulin production and thereby causes your blood sugar levels to fall.

2. Regulates cholesterol

Research shows that agavins act like fibre and lower your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Tequila also regulates the absorption of fat from your intestines, making you feel less bloated when you drink.

3. Contains prebiotics and probiotics

Probiotics are the healthy bacteria in our intestines that control everything from digestion to immunity. Prebiotics make space for the probiotics, by creating a hospitable environment for them.

4. Prevents diseases

The agavins in tequila have several properties that help your body stave off a number of diseases, including osteoporosis, dementia and diabetes.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

1. Contains a number of medicinal ingredients

The main ingredients in gin are juniper berries, which are a natural remedy for coughs, congestion, renal insufficiency and menstruation problems. Apart from these berries, gin is typically made with other medicinal herbs like coriander, cassia, nutmeg, sage, angelica root, and rosemary.

2. Prevents malaria

The combination of Gin and Tonic was actually invented by the British as a way to prevent malaria!

3. Reduces the inflammation associated with arthritis

Juniper berries are loaded with compounds that battle chronic inflammation, so drinking small amounts of gin on a regular basis can combat arthritis.

4. Fights infections

Gin fights both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, thereby helping your body stave off bacterial infections.

5. Keeps your skin healthy

Juniper berries are loaded with antioxidants that keep your skin young, healthy and wrinkle-free.

6. Improves digestion

The herbs in gin trigger the release of digestive enzymes and stomach acid, making it easier for your system to break down food.

7. Promotes weight loss

Like vodka and whiskey, gin too has a minimal amount of calories. In fact, it helps you out a little more by improving digestion and reducing bloating.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

1. Keeps you young

Red wine contains resveratrol, a compound found in the skin of grapes that has anti-ageing properties.

2. Prevents cancer

Several studies have shown that wine can reduce your risk of getting cancer, colon and breast cancer in particular.

3. Reduces the risk of depression

Research shows that drinking two to seven glasses of wine per week can reduce your chances of depression considerably.

4. Keeps your heart healthy

Wine prevents blood clots and regulates your cholesterol levels, thereby keeping your arteries clear and preventing heart attacks and strokes as a result.

5. Protects your memory

Studies show that drinking one glass of wine every day can improve your memory and reduce your risk of developing dementia.

6. Helps you live longer

A Finnish study found that wine drinkers have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than people who drink beer or other spirits!

Health Benefits of Alcohol

1. Improves heart health

Brandy is made by distilling wine further, to increase its alcoholic content. It therefore has all the properties of wine, in a more concentrated proportion. The antioxidants in brandy balance cholesterol, reduce plaque build-up, lower blood pressure and prevent heart attacks.

2. Slows down ageing

The antioxidant compounds in brandy, some of which are attributed to the presence of copper in some of the ageing barrels, have a strong effect on the body. They fight the free radicals that cause ageing, keeping your skin and even your brain young.

3. Reduces the risk of cancer

Brandy contains ellagic acid, which prevents the growth and spread of cancer cells.

4. Soothes colds and coughs

For years, brandy has been used as a remedy for respiratory problems like colds, coughs and sore throats. It eliminates harmful bacteria, loosens up mucus and soothes away the irritation.

5. Boosts immunity

The antioxidants in brandy boost your immune system, while the alcoholic content helps kill off harmful pathogens.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

1. Enables weight loss

Champagne is a type of sparkling wine that originates from a certain region in France, however it happens to contain fewer calories than both red and white wine! It is also served in slimmer flutes, making it easier for you to limit your intake. Studies also show that the bubbles make you sip on it more slowly, so you will probably drink lesser of it overall.

2. Improves memory

Studies show that a person’s spatial and short-term memory can improve after they drink a little champagne. Spatial memory is the ability to recognize one’s surroundings, as well as perform complex tasks and calculations. Short-term memory is the information that your brain retains for a short period of time.

3. Boosts heart health

While most people associate red wine with heart health, few know that champagne is as good for the heart as a glass of red wine.

Health Benefits of Alcohol

1. Contains plenty of antioxidants

Research shows that a glass of cider delivers the same amount of antioxidants as a glass of red wine.

2. Makes for a good gluten-free option

Since cider is made of apples, it contains no gluten (unlike beer), making it a good option for people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

A word of caution, before you get carried away.

Experts recommend that women limit their alcohol intake to one drink per day, and that men limit their intake to two drinks per day. And no, you can’t save up these drinks and drink them all on the weekend, because binge drinking is extremely harmful to your health.

 

SOURCE

HOMEMADE PROTEIN POWDER

protein powder smoothie

I have a love/hate relationship with protein powder. I love that it helps make my daily smoothie more filling and meal-like. I love that it’s a quick and easy way to get a nice dose of the recovery-helping macronutrient after a hard workout.

But I hate the price. And I, more often than not, hate the ingredient list. There are definitely more natural protein powders out there, but the price is just so restrictively high! And the rare times I found a natural protein powder that wasn’t exorbitantly expensive, it was exorbitantly gritty, earthy, and generally not delicious.

We recently ran out of our giant tub of protein powder, and I’ve been meaning to buy another one. But every time I’ve gone grocery shopping, I’ve landed in the protein powder aisle, taken one look at the prices and turned my shopping cart right around. I have a seriously hard time justifying $20+ for some powder.

protein powder

But then it hit me, hey, I have stuff that has protein in it in my pantry. And I have a coffee grinder that does a dang good job of turning things into powder. So, uh, why not? So I did.

protein powder

It took a little bit of experimentation to get something that didn’t overwhelm other flavors in smoothies. At first, I tried just straight ground dried lentils. Tons of protein, yes, but also tons of lentil-y flavor. Not recommended, unless you are one of those people who thinks a peanut butter-banana-lentil smoothie sounds delicious. So then I started to think about ways to cut the lentil flavor, but still add protein—enter steel cut oats and brown rice.

protein powder lentils, grains

Both the steel cut oats and the brown rice have protein, but more importantly in this little concoction they are pretty flavorless, which helps cut back on the earthy flavor of the lentils. I worked a little bit on the ratio, and soon enough, I had a nice protein-packed powder that just was pretty much flavorless in a smoothie. Win!

WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN? HERE’S THE BREAK DOWN:

  • 1/3 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/3 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup dried green lentils

I mixed all of that up in a bowl, and then ground it in my coffee grinder about 1/3 cup at a time (just because my grinder is small) until it was a very fine powder. I ended up with just shy of two cups total of protein powder.

protein powder

The nutritional info isn’t quite as high in protein as your standard off-the-shelf protein powder, but it’s still pretty amazing, especially considering the low price tag and the low number of ingredients. Because of the carb-y nature of the oats and rice, it’s higher in carbs that store-bought powder, too, but I’m a big fan of whole grain, natural carbs, so I’m good with it! And, of course, you can play with the ratios to up the protein even more (more lentils) and reduce the carbs (less steel cut oats and rice).  You could also try other protein-tastic add-ins, like dried soybeans or dired black beans. I just always have lentils kicking around, so it was a good fit for our lifestyle.

Here’s the comparision between my homemade protein powder and my typical off-the-shelf protein powder.

HOMEMADE PROTEIN POWDER (PER 1/4 CUP OF POWDER)

  • 130 calories
  • 8g protein
  • 1g fat
  • 24g carbs

Ingredients: Lentils, Brown Rice, Steel Cut Oats

STORE-BOUGHT PROTEIN POWDER  (PER 1/4 CUP OF POWDER)

  • 80 calories
  • 14g protein
  • 0g fat
  • 5g carbs

Ingredients: Proprietary non-GMO protein blend (rice protein, pea protein and soy [isolated soy protein and fermented soy]), di-calcium phosphate, FOS (fructooligosaccharides), curcumin (natural color), banana flavor, potassium citrate, guar gum, magnesium oxide, psyllium, natural vanilla flavor, oat bran, microcrystalline cellulose, spirulina, vitamin C, vitamin E (d-alpha tocopheryl acetate), choline bitartrate, inositol, apple pectin, bee pollen, niacinamide, vitamin A palmitate, zinc oxide, manganese sulfate, ferrous fumarate, calcium pantothenate, lecithin, lemon bioflavonoids, papaya, bromelain, chlorophyll, pyridoxine HCl, riboflavin, thiamine HCl, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, folic acid, biotin, potassium iodide, chromium chloride, sodium selenite, sodium molybdate

smoothie protein powder

I know what some of you are saying—but I don’t have a coffee grinder! Well, I think it’s worth the cash to go out and buy one. My coffee grinder was a whopping $10 at Target a few years ago. A $10 coffee grinder, $1 bag of lentils, $1 bag of brown rice and $2 worth of steel cut oats will make you much more than $14 worth of all-natural, plant-based, vegan protein powder.

protein powder

I’m a unflavored, unsweetened protein powder kind of girl, but I know that sometimes it can be really fun to mix it up with fun flavors, so I spent a little time creating four different flavor variations on the powder.

protein powder

VARIATIONS

  • Cappuccino: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, throw in 1 tablespoon of whole coffee beans and blend until a fine powder. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.
  • Chocolate: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, throw in 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and blend until a fine powder. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.
  • Vanilla: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, add in the insides of 1/2 of a vanilla bean or slice a whole vanilla bean in half lengthwise and stash in a jar with the whole batch of protein powder to flavor continuously. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.
  • Pumpkin Spice: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, add in 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger and ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg and ground cloves. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.

coffee grinder

Let me know if you guys try it out with any other ratios, flavors or ingredients! I’d love to hear what you guys come up with. Happy protein powder making!

 

SOURCE

The Drink of the Viking Warlords Makes a Great Summer Cocktail

The Drink of the Viking Warlords Makes a Great Summer Cocktail

Long before humans had figured out beer, we learned that you can make a damn tasty crunk-juice by stewing rainwater in a beehive. Mead was the drink of ancient Greek philosophers, Asian hunter-gatherers, and Celtic berserkers. It’s also the secret behind some of the best summer cocktails.

It’s Friday afternoon, you’ve made it through the long week, and it’s time for Happy Hour, Gizmodo’s weekly booze, etc. column. A cocktail shaker full of innovation, science, and alcohol. Grab your torches, pitchforks, and chalices, we’re gonna get medieval.

Contrary to popular belief, mead isn’t just for Viking warlords and medieval reenactment societies. It also doesn’t have to be sweet. Meads are as complex and varied as wines, and in America, they’re making a big comeback. Today, mead enthusiasts around the country are cooking up all sorts of news infusions and cocktails, putting a modern twist on the libation of the ancients.

Growing up in the DC metro area, the first place I ever encountered mead was (naturally) at the Maryland Ren Fest. The honey-colored drink came in overpriced novelty bottles, and it was abominably sweet. Nevertheless, I have many a fond high school memory of sipping shitty mead on the sly while chomping a roasted turkey leg and watching nerds joust on a hot summer day.

The Drink of the Viking Warlords Makes a Great Summer Cocktail

I rediscovered mead a few years back, while spending a week with family in central New Hampshire. One rainy afternoon, bored and painfully surfing the web on dial-up connection, my brother and I stumbled upon the Sap House Meadery, an internationally acclaimed destination located in a town we’d never heard of some 30 miles away. We immediately decided to go, and spent an unexpectedly drunk fun afternoon sampling everything from dry, blueberry hops honey wine to sugar maple dessert mead. I walked away with a crate full of the stuff, and spent the rest of the summer happily swilling glasses of Beowulf’s booze over ice.

I recently got in touch with the Sap House Meadery’s owner, Ash Fishbein, to get some professional advice on how I could be spicing up my mead drinking experience. He shared a couple of his favorite cocktails — naturally, featuring his signature meads. Of course, you can sub for any mead of your liking! I’ve also included a few other amazing cocktails, courtesy of mead experts around the country. Mead is listed at the top of each recipe.


The Perfect Storm

2 parts Sap House Meadery’s Sugar Maple Mead

1 Part Ginger Beer (Recommend: Maine Root Ginger Brew)

Pour ingredients over ice and enjoy!

Via Sap House Meadery, Ossipee, NH


Vanilla Ginger Mashup

3 oz. Sap House Meadery’s Vanilla Bean Mead

2 oz. vanilla-ginger simple syrup (follow recipe below):

1 cup sugar 8 ounces water 1/4 cup fresh ginger, chopped 2 vanilla beans, split and scraped

club soda

Preparation:

  1. Combine all ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a boil for one minute.
  2. Remove from the heat and let steep for 20 minutes.
  3. Strain out vanilla bean pods and ginger and cool syrups.

Via Sap House Meadery, Ossipee, NH


Bluebonic Tonic

4 oz Sap House Meadery’s Hopped Blueberry Maple Mead

2 oz Tonic Water

1 oz Simple Syrup

Citrus Bitters

Pour all ingredients over ice, add citrus bitters if you like, and stir!

Via Sap House Meadery, Ossipee, NH


Mead-mosa

3 parts B.Nektar Meadery’s NecroMangoCon (A fruity mango and black pepper mead)

1 part freshly squeezed Orange Juice

garnish with an orange twist

Via B. Nektar Meadery, Ferndale, MI


The Real Detroit

4 parts B. Nektar Wildberry Pyment (A fruity mead made with strawberries and blueberries)

1 part Valentine vodka

1 part triple sec

1 part Faygo Rock ‘N Rye (Detroit’s signature vanilla cream cola)

squeeze of lime and orange

Add everything but the Rock N Rye to a cocktail shaker with lots of ice. Shake like Zeus.

Pour Faygo into a martini or rocks glass, top with what’s in the shaker. Garnish with orange and lime

Via B. Nektar Meadery, Ferndale, MI


Redstone Spritzer

1.5 oz Redstone Black Raspberry or Boysenberry Nectar

1.5 oz Redstone Traditional Mountain Honey Wine

Splash of soda water or 7 up or Sprite

Serve over ice in a rocks glass

Via Redstone Meadery, Boulder, CO


The Lost Sunrise

Shaker of Redstone Black Raspberry or Boysenberry Nectar

1 oz tequila

½ oz Grand Marnier or Cointreau

Splash of orange juice

Serve over ice in rocks glass with lime

Via Redstone Meadery, Boulder, CO


Downeast Kir

2 oz. Moonlight Meadery Fling (A slightly tart mead infused with rhubarb and black currants)

6 oz. Chardonnay

Pour mead into wine glass, then gently add white wine. Vary the Fling / Chardonnay ratio to taste. This recipe works great with many Moonlight meads, and choose your favorite white wine variety.

Via Moonlight Meadery, Londonderry, NH


The Mojo Mojito

4 oz. Moonlight Meadery Mojo

2 oz White Rum

sprig of mint

Add ice to a 8oz collins glass, add Moonlight Meadery Mojo and Rum to glass, add sprig of Mint.

Via Moonlight Meadery, Londonderry, NH


Mead and Beer

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome flavor explosion that happens when mead and beer are mixed. You can jazz up any boring ol’ summer wheat by mixing it with mead in a 2:1 ratio (dry, fruity meads work best here in my experience). On the other hand, adding a sweet, dessert mead (vanilla-infused, if you can find it) to a coffeehouse porter cures the winter blues better than a cup of hot chocolate with brandy.


Shutup and Take My Money!

There are roughly 165 meaderies currently in operation in the United States, according to USA Today. So browse the interwebs to see if there’s one near you. Some of them, Sap House Meadery included, even allow you to order online, but you should really make it out for a tasting if you can. Happy drinking!


Contact the author at maddie.stone@gizmodo.com or follow her on Twitter.

Top image via Wikimedia