challenge 2

Challenge Yourself: The Art of Making A Cup of Tea


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By Maria Masters

You’ve probably heard that wine is best when it’s allowed to breathe for ten or fifteen minutes before serving. Or perhaps you have your own tricks for making the perfect cup of coffee, like scrubbing that coffee maker down so residue doesn’t muddy up your brew. But did you know there are secrets for pouring the perfect cup of tea as well?

As Peggy and Tiffany mentioned, they received Lipton teas to help them stay hydrated. (Not only is tea delicious and calorie-free, but studies also suggest that it can speed up weight-loss and lower a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes.) So we asked Lipton for the inside scoop on preparing the perfect cup.  Follow their tips:

Get Fresh. Bottled is best for making tea. But if you’re going to the faucet, run the water for a few minutes. Doing so ensures that the water is as fresh as possible.

Watch The Clock. Green tea only needs about 1 to 4 minutes, but black tea generally takes about 3 to 5 minutes. For a stronger brew, let the tea steep longer.

Keep It Warm. If you tend to sip your tea slowly, use a tea cozy. Some of the brew’s flavor is lost when you reheat the drink.

What’s your favorite tea? Share in the comments below.

Tiffany, Week 7: Words of Wisdom that Transformed Me


Before I even entered my family into this Healthy Family Challenge, I claimed 2012 as my year in a personal blog. It’s the last year of my 30’s and I can’t wait to see what 40 and beyond have in store for my family and myself. But one thing that it won’t have in store: this weight. I will NOT go into my 40’s being morbidly obese.

One of my lifelong, best friends said something to me earlier this year that will forever be a part of my soul:

“I will not spend the last 40 years of my life making the same mistakes I made the first 40.”

HELLO, PROFOUND!!! I don’t care how old you are…15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60. You can change. You just have to do it. It isn’t easy. But it’s not hard.

Not so long ago, another person encouraged me to:

“Strive to be the best person you want to be.”

That’s a pretty big statement. Really who do I want to be? I want God to look down at me and say, “Well done. Well done, child.” I want to use my body to serve. I don’t know quite what that looks like but I do know that I’m going to need as much energy as I can get. That means the middle section has got to go. You’ve worn out your welcome and now you must say goodbye! I know that I want to be the best wife and mother I can be. My family deserves for me to be present at every moment and not tired because I’ve got too much weight to carry around. I want to be the best daughter, sister, friend and (possibly) mentor.

I know it’s so cliché but if I can do this, ANY ONE can do this. They say the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. How much is left of your elephant? What are you trying to tackle by leaps and bounds in life that you should be taking on little-by-little? Post a comment and let me know.

4 Easy Ways To Drink More Water


To pump up your intake, you first need to recognize all the places you can (and can’t) turn to for hydration. Yes, beverages like milk and juice give you a dose of H20. But so do popular summertime foods like watermelon, tomatoes and leafy greens. A glass you don’t want to reach for if your goal is hydration: a tall iced coffee or a margarita. Anything that contains caffeine or alcohol will act as a diuretic, causing you to lose water through frequent urination.

Committed to the “clear” choice? Here are some simple ways to get more water into your day:

  • Drink up first thing. Instead of a hot cup of coffee, start your morning with a cool glass of water.
  • Dilute your fruit juice. Try mixing it with seltzer or water. Consider filling your glass ¾ or almost full of water and just topping it off with a little cranberry juice or orange juice.
  • Keep a large water bottle on your desk and make sure to finish it every day.
  • Drink a full glass with each snack and meal of the day.

Reminder: It’s important not to wait until you are thirsty to drink water. By then you’re probably already dehydrated!

How do you get more water into your day? Post a comment and share here!

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

Peggy, Week 7: Breaking the Tea Habit

lipton tea

This week, Family Circle asked Lipton to send us a large supply of decaffeinated green and herbal teas as a part of the hydration challenge. If you follow my blog, you know I normally drink tea all day long.

I drink a mug of black tea on my back porch, as the deer eat my grass and the fog lifts over the trees. I enjoy a mug in the car, while I listen to an audio book from the library. I use my commute time to catch up on my “reading.” I alternate between fiction stories from authors I follow and novels I have always said I would read, but have never taken the time to finish, such as Catch 22 or Catcher in the Rye.

Once at work, I grab a fresh mug for the morning read-out of screening mammograms, and make another once I finish the first biopsy. My mug of tea travels with me throughout the day, as I tell patients their results of their diagnostic testing and biopsies. The process of making the fresh mug of tea rejuvenates me as much as the tea itself. As I finish the tea, I am ready to, once again, be in the moment.

The everyday, black tea, I usually drink happens to be Lipton. This is the brand we purchase at work. I also keep a supply of aromatic, specialty black teas: Christmas Blend, Tazo’s Earl Grey, and Harrod’s 1840 blend for my extreme moments—those that are either really good, such as a sunrise over the beach when no one else is awake or those that are really bad, such as telling a friend that their cancer is back.

During this challenge, I have tried to:

  • Alternate a mug of water with a mug of tea in order to increase my total water intake.
  • Switch a mug of black tea for a mug of green tea in the afternoon.
  • Cut down on the black tea.

But tea is my one vice I don’t think I will ever be able to break! What’s yours? Post a comment and let me know.

How Much Sugar Are You Drinking?


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If you’re at a healthy weight and aren’t concerned about calories, do you really need to worry about sweetened beverages? Yes! A high intake of added sugars isn’t just linked with obesity, it’s also tied to high triglyceride levels—both factors that boost your risk of heart disease. And “sweetened” beverages can be very high in sugar, with some drinks containing more of the sweet stuff than you should consume in an entire day!

How much sugar is OK in a day? The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. You won’t find “added sugars” listed on labels, but you will find “sugars” which includes naturally occurring, as well as added ones. Most sugary beverages, such as soda, contain only added sugars so it’s easy to calculate how much you’re getting. On labels, you’ll see sugar listed in grams so to convert that to teaspoons, simply divide by 4 (since 4 grams sugar=1 teaspoon).

Some beverages, such as fruit juice, have calories and sugar but also contain vitamins. So is fruit juice a good beverage choice? That all depends. Get the answer at my blog, “Fruit juice: To drink or not to drink” 
to sip smarter.

How many glasses of fruit juice do you have in a day? Leave a note and tell me here.

Through her Des Moines-based nutrition company, SK Health Communications, registered dietitian Stephanie Karpinske writes and develops recipes for magazines, books, supermarkets and food companies. She is the author of Read Before Dieting: Your 4-Step Plan for Diet Success and writes a blog about healthy eating, She’s coaching the Lehman family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.