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My Day Job as a Fitness Trainer Helped Me Build Confidence as an Artist

This story is part of Health’s #RealLifeStrong series, where we are celebrating women who represent strength, resilience, and grace.

On the streets of industrial Brooklyn, it’s not unusual to see construction workers wielding blowtorches. But refreshingly, behind one of those welder’s masks is painter-sculptor Kennedy Yanko.

Seven years ago, Yanko was living in the dressing room of a basement apartment and working as a personal trainer, as she tried to make her mark on the competitive New York art scene. “[Fitness] was informative to the work that I was doing as a painter,” she says. Training taught her the discipline and endurance she needed to continue refining her artistic process, she explains.

Today Yanko runs her own art studio in Bushwick, where she reshapes found industrial materials into striking painted sculptures. Her work has been featured in the contemporary art fair VOLTA NY, and in Mashonda Tifrere’s Art Lead Her, a platform that celebrates and promotes female artists around the world.

RELATED: This Instagram Artist’s Illustrations About Life and Mental Health Will Help You Feel ‘Normal’

With success has come pressure, of course.  “Every day is an adventure and is constantly changing. However, when I make work that feels powerful to me, it’s a driving force that dissolves any lingering anxiety,” she says. Also helpful: meditation. Yanko relies on her meditation practice to relieve stress, and hone her artistic intuition. “I feel like I have more clarity in my life, and my decision-making is quicker,” she says.

Then there are the physical demands of her job. Once she’s found her materials, Yanko will torch them, pound them with a sledgehammer, and do whatever else it takes to get the look she wants. She then incorporates her flowing signature paint skins, to contrast the enduring quality of the reshaped industrial artifacts.

Whether it’s learning how to weld or working with demolition teams, Yanko seems to thrive when subverting gender stereotypes. “I think if you’re trying to make your way in a male-dominated field the best thing to do is, not to separate yourself,” she says. Though she feels that when it comes to her art, being a woman is actually an advantage in this day and age. “People are interested in what females are doing. They want to see what’s happening on the other side—and they need to.”

Yanko currently has an installation on display at BRIC called “Feel For,” which combines moss with the ceilings of old tenement buildings.

For more of her inspiring story, check out the video above.

We want to hear more amazing stories about #RealLifeStrong women. Nominate yourself—or a friend or family member—here. We’ll be sharing the most inspiring stories we receive in the months ahead.

5 Protein-Rich Breakfasts For People Who Hate Eggs

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Protein: it’s the secret weapon that gives your breakfast staying power, and helps keep you energized all morning long. For most people, eggs are their go-to source. But what if you don’t like eggs, or you’re allergic? Or you just can’t stare another kale omelet in the face? Fortunately, there are plenty of other easy, tasty ways to get your protein fix in the A.M. Here, a few ideas that don’t involve any yolks or whites.

RELATED: 8 Easy Ways to Kick-Start Your Metabolism


Replace your morning oats with quinoa in a bowl. One cup cooked is loaded with 8 grams of filling protein (compared to about 6 grams in an egg) and 5 grams of belly-slimming fiber. We love this recipe for maple-syrup sweetened quinoa, made with slivered almonds, dried apricots, ricotta, orange zest, and cinnamon.


Pudding for breakfast? Why not, when it has 11 grams of protein (and 19 grams of fiber), and tastes like a cold version of a chai latte? Watch the video below to learn how to make our simple, no-cook recipe.

Yogurt parfait

Combine protein-rich yogurt with fruit and either nuts or low-sugar granola (packaged, or DIY), and you’ve got one satisfying breakfast. (We recommend this recipe, which was 12 grams of protein and is loaded with super foods—including dark chocolate!)


In general, you can protein-up your morning smoothie by tossing in nut butter (or try tahini for something different), hemp and other seeds, or yogurt. If you like to use protein powder, Health’s resident RD, Cynthia Sass, recommends unsweetened pea protein powder. Check out our foolproof formula for whipping up delicious, good-for-you blends. Or try one of our favorite recipes from Joy the Baker: With peanut butter, flax seeds, and almond milk, it’s a delicious glassful of I’m-good-til-lunch.

RELATED: The 20 Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast


There’s no rule that breakfast can’t be fish, chicken or steak (or any other protein) left over from dinner the night before. Warm it up and enjoy it with some vegetables, or fold it into a whole-grain wrap and take it on the go.

Does Noisy Eating and Loud Gum Chewing Drive You Crazy? You May Have Misophonia


If every loud crunch of cereal or hair-tingling slurp of soup makes you want to scream, you may have a real neurological condition — and you’re not alone.

The technical term for the condition is misophonia, and it’s defined as a severe sensitivity to sounds like chewing, coughing, yawning and more. Some people have more extreme cases of misophonia than others, and find themselves completely distracted by the noises, to the point where they need cognitive behavioral therapy.

While it was formally named as a condition in 2001, many skeptics still questioned whether misophonia was a real condition. But last year, a study published in the journal Current Biology showed that those with the disorder have a difference in their brain’s frontal lobe that causes an intense reaction to noise, and can even lead to a faster heart rate and sweating.

“I hope this will reassure sufferers,” Tim Griffiths, Professor of Cognitive Neurology at Newcastle University and University College London, said in a press release. “I was part of the skeptical community myself until we saw patients in the clinic and understood how strikingly similar the features are.”

And in February, another study found that having misophonia can impact people’s ability to learn.

According to the study, published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psycology, a noise as subtle as gum chewing is enough to impact academic performance.

“Some people are especially sensitive to relatively subtle specific background sounds like chewing, and this sensitivity can be distracting enough to impair learning,” study co-author Logan Fiorella, an assistant professor of applied cognition and development at the University of Georgia, told TIME.

The researchers had 72 college students study papers on migraines, with half sitting in a room with a person chewing gum, and the others without. They all then took a test on the material in silence, and those with the gum-chewer had lower test scores.

Fiorella noted that none of the students had clinically severe misophonia, but were still impacted by the noise.

“It may be especially important for students with higher levels of misophonia sensitivity to avoid studying in places where there are a lot of ‘trigger’ sounds, such as other people chewing, coughing, clicking pens, or rustling papers,” Fiorella said. “When that’s unavoidable, some strategies suggested by other researchers include using earplugs, focusing on one’s own sounds, or using positive internal dialogue.”

This Cheap Produce Staple Is the Secret to Cooking Indian Food at Home


Pushing yourself, as a cook, often means first wrapping your head around one new ingredient. Whether it’s garam masala, wasabi, chicken liver, salt cod, or roe, there’s often one small, innocent-looking barrier between you and the cuisine you pine to cook at home.

Sometimes it’s something so inexpensive and easily available that you just feel silly about it. For many of us, that’s ginger. We reach for the powdered version in the red-capped container. We skip it in recipes. “How do you peel it, again? Seems like a hassle.”

Ginger is cheap as chips, super-easy to use, and makes a cameo in almost every cookbook I love. A quick skim of my current go-tos—Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking; Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking; Dinner in an Instant: 75 Modern Recipes for Your Pressure Cookerall feature fresh ginger. Fat coins of it plop into Instant Pot bone broths. It brightens a Chinese shiitake-pork soup. Jaffrey uses it in everything from saag gosht (beef or lamb with spinach) to saag bhaji (spinach with ginger and green chiles) in addition to her excellent hard-boiled eggs masala. Though I’m an avid home cook, for a long time, I simply didn’t keep fresh ginger around, and finally realized it stood between me and cooking more of the Indian cuisine I love.

RELATED: This Easy Indian Dinner Recipe Only Calls for Staples—and It’s Ready in 20 Minutes

I reached out to Priya Krishna, food writer and author of the forthcoming Indian-ish. Krishna has been splitting her time between Dallas and New York City as she worked with her mother, a onetime globe-trotting software engineer, on a cookbook that is “60 percent Indian, 40 percent something else.” The book will reflect her mom’s ingenuity as she cooked a mélange of dishes that reflected both her heritage and her travels. Think: roti pizza, saag with feta instead of paneer, and taquitos using roti, said Krishna.

Ginger is ubiquitous in Indian cuisine, and Krishna’s family always had it on the table, julienned and in a jar with lime juice and salt—a quick pickle. It was employed “to add a little bit of freshness” to all sorts of dishes, and the lime juice balanced the ginger’s bite.

Krishna rarely peels ginger, which comes in two forms—young and mature. The younger version has a very thin skin that most people don’t peel, but she doesn’t peel that knobby version you commonly see, either. “I’m a pretty strong proponent that you don’t need to peel ginger,” she says, probably because she’s accustomed to using it “literally in everything” Indian she cooks. (If you do want to peel it, consider using the tip of a spoon, inverted, so you don’t get lose its delicate flesh, too: A vegetable peeler can work, but tends to take a lot of the good stuff with it.)

RELATED: Learning to Cook My Favorite Takeout Dishes Helped Me Kick My Delivery Habit

Ginger is “an amazing component in salad dressings,” says Krishna. In her home, fresh ginger, raw garlic and lime would mingle with salt, herbs, fresh green chiles and sometimes a bit of sugar (sort of like a Vietnamese sauce). She’d use it to dress cucumbers, tomatoes, or onions, and says “it tastes like that delicious juice that pools at the bottom of ceviche.”

Where else does it make cameos in Indian cuisine? Aloo gobi, marinades, chickpea stew, chole, matar paneer, dal makhani, and on and on, says Krishna. If you’re on the fence about using it, consider whether what you’re cooking is salty, rich, or spice-heavy. As she points out, ginger “will cut through all that.” As is true of lime and chiles in Indian cuisine, use it whenever a dish “needs a brightening component or bite.”

The health properties of ginger are no slouch either, of course, from fighting nausea and possibly inflammation to potentially soothing muscle aches post-workout.

How to start using more of it? Just always keep it on hand.

Alex Van Buren—follow her on Instagram and Twitter @alexvanburen—is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and content strategist who has written for The Washington Post, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, and Epicurious.

3 Easy-to-Make Packable Lunches That Will Make You Feel Like a Food Blogger

This Chain Restaurant Order Was Officially Declared Your ‘Worst Way to Start the Day’


What’s just as bad as eating The Cheesecake Factory’s Breakfast Burrito? How about more than a half a dozen McDonald’s sausage McMuffins? Seven is exactly how many McDonald’s McMuffins you’d have to eat for breakfast to equal the nutritional value of just one breakfast burrito from a Cheesecake Factory near you.

This deadly breakfast menu is according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit watchdog group that advocates for healthier foods. Due to the breakfast burrito’s high levels of sodium and saturated fat, and its daily-value-exceeding caloric count, the organiztion named the Cheesecake Factory menu item the winner of its 2018 Xtreme Eating Award for the Worst Way to Start the Day.

The Cheesecake Factory’s Breakfast Burrito may seem innocuous if you only look at its ingredient list: tortilla, eggs, bacon, chicken chorizo, cheese, crispy potatoes, avocado, peppers, onions, and spicy ranchero sauce. But that combo delivers an entire day’s worth of calories — 2,730 of them — plus two days worth of sodium (over 4,600 milligrams) along with more than three days worth of saturated fat (73 grams).

Hold on to your arteries! This year’s #XtremeEating awards highlight some of the unhealthiest restaurant meals in America, including a breakfast burrito with 2,730 cals and nearly 4 days worth of saturated fat. Yikes!:

— CSPI (@CSPI) August 3, 2018

In fact, of eight total Xtreme Eating Awards given this year, two were bestowed on Cheesecake Factory menu items. The dessert-centric chain’s Chicken Parmesan Pizza Style, a chicken breast topped with marinara, angel hair pasta and Alfredo cream sauce, was named Worst Adapted Pizza.

Depending on where you live, it’s likely there is a healthier breakfast burrito near you. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has been awarding worst food honors since 2007. At the Cheesecake Factory, nutrition has never been the goal, and as such, the chain has made the list every year.

Gluten-Free Baking: 6 Flours to Try

If you’re interested in making gluten-free bread or other baked goods because you’re cooking for someone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, or you’re just looking to cut back on the carbs, you’ve probably faced the baking aisle with confusion. There are so many grain-free flours to choose from—what’s a baker to do? Don’t fret: Here’s our guide to some of the most common grain-free flours and how to use them.

The first rule of thumb is that it’s best to use a recipe that calls for these specific types of flour, rather than swapping for wheat-based flour in your recipe. (The notable exception is cassava flour, which can be used in a 1:1 swap. Read on for more details.)

Almond Flour

Buy: $18;

Among the most common grain-free flours, it is sometimes called “almond meal.” Both almond flour and almond meal are simply the nuts, ground up. Almond meal is sometimes not ground as finely as almond flour, but the names are not regulated, so your best bet is to look inside the package and examine the texture. The finer the grind, the smoother, lighter and less crumbly the texture will be. If the label says, “blanched,” that means the almonds’ skins were removed before grinding. Using blanched almond flour will give you a softer, lighter end product, most similar to regular flour. But unblanched is perfectly fine if you don’t mind a heartier muffin, quick bread, or pancake. Almond flour is a good source of protein, fiber, and healthy fats.

Use it for: Hearty cakes (such as carrot), muffins, pancakes, quick breads, cookies, brownies/bars, breading, binder for meatballs/meatloaf

Try these almond-flour crepes:


Coconut Flour

Buy: $11;

The light texture of this powdery flour is great for grain-free baking because it yields results similar to regular flour. One word of caution: Coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid, far more than regular flour or almond flour, so it’s best to use a recipe that calls for it rather than trying to swap it in for another flour. Coconut flour is high in fiber and has some protein and healthy fats.

Use it for: Cakes, muffins, quick breads, cookies, brownies/bars, pancakes, binder for meatballs/meatloaf

Try these banana-sesame muffins:


Paleo Baking Flour

Buy: $17;

Many recipes call for a combination of almond and coconut flours, to neutralize the flavor and to balance the texture of grain-free baked goods. Bob’s Red Mill does the combining for you with this convenient, easy-to-use product, which also contains arrowroot and tapioca starch to lighten it.

Use it for: Any recipe that calls for an almond flour/coconut flour combo

Try this pumpkin-banana bread:



Buy: $10;

This light powder is a starch made from a tropical root. It’s rich in potassium and iron, and it works well as a thickener as well as a baking ingredient. Arrowroot works as a binder in baking recipes, providing some structure to baked goods. It’s usually used in conjunction with another flour, though it can work well in recipes that call for little flour, such as crepes.

Use it for: As an ingredient in gluten-free or grain-free baking to provide structure, as a flour substitute in crepes, as a thickener for sauces in place of cornstarch. Arrowroot is also a common ingredient in natural and DIY beauty products such as blushes, deodorants, and dry shampoo.

Cassava Flour

Buy: $19;

Experienced grain-free bakers love cassava, because it’s most similar to white flour and is easy to swap into recipes that call for all-purpose. Made from the cassava root, it has a neutral flavor, and it’s easy to digest, so it’s good for people who are avoiding grains because of a particular diet. It’s also nut free, and lower in calories than almond or coconut flour (though it’s also lower in protein and healthy fats).

Use it for: Easy substitution for any baking recipe. Also makes great homemade tortillas and crepes

Try these blueberry muffins:


Tiger Nut Flour

Buy: $15;

In spite of the name, this flour does not contain nuts. Tiger nuts are small root vegetables that are very nutrient dense, high in fiber, healthy fats, and iron. Since they’re nut free, they’re great for people with allergies. Tiger nut flour is fairly easy to swap into regular baking recipes, but it is coarser than flour, so your baked goods will come out with more texture.

Use it for: Quick breads, muffins, cookies, pancakes

Eggplant Pappardelle Will be Your New Favorite Veggie Noodle

12 Secrets to Grilling Perfect Veggies, According to a Chef


It can be so easy to forget to toss vegetables on the barbie alongside the shrimp. (And burgers. And dogs.) Let’s face it: Beyond potato salad, a lot of us do not consume the veggies we should come summertime. We reached out to Amanda Cohen, chef and owner of vegetable-focused restaurant Dirt Candy in New York City. Here are her top tips—including an extraordinary-sounding grilled salad—for getting all the colors of the rainbow into your diet this season.

Double-grate your grill

Cohen uses a double grate system, so the grates themselves crisscross and veggies are less likely to fall through the cracks. “Unless the vegetables are cut in really big pieces,” she says, “the smaller the pieces, the more veggies are likely to shrink.” You might be able to create a hack using a heatproof cooling rack or oven rack, depending on the size and type of grill you have. In a pinch, you could use a grilling basket, but Cohen likes those less because you can’t get as many different types of textures, and “it hinders charring.”

Grill your salad

“My go-to #1 grilled veggie is greens: Spinach, kale, any soft green like arugula, even herbs,” says Cohen. (Mind blown? Ours, too.) “Putting a big bunch of greens mixed with herbs on the grill mixed with olive oil and salt is delicious. All I do is we toss them in oil, and as they slowly shrink, I turn them a lot, and that big pile will get small very fast.” She loves that some parts get crispy, others are dried out, some are overcooked, and others are raw. “It’s all the different textures you want in one vegetable,” she insists. She grills her greens fast over high heat, turning them frequently, and will add fresh, salty and acidic notes such as basil, Pecorino, extra-virgin olive oil, and lemon zest just before serving. Expect a big, delicious mess of a salad.

RELATED:  16 Vegetarian Foods to Grill This Summer

Sturdier greens can work, too

As for Romaine, a more popular grilling option because it’s so sturdy, Cohen would cut a head in half, oil it a bit, put it on the grate, and “get that charred flavor, but don’t cook it too much: You still want that big crispy bite.”

Sometimes you’ll want to finish cooking in a pan

Cohen loves to cook Brussels sprouts, halving them and putting them face-down on the grill to get stripes on one side, but “because they’re tougher we’ll often [finish] them in the pan.” As is true of all vegetables, she gets the grill “as hot as possible, as long as you’re watching it and can turn things a lot.” As she explains, “You can’t overcook or undercook veggies. It’s not like with meat: ‘Aw, it’s still raw inside.’” She’ll finish sprouts in a hot pan with oil, maybe garlic towards the end of the cooking time, and perhaps a splash of water to help the sprouts cook through.

You’ll get flare-ups, but don’t worry about i

When asked if these oily salads and veggies would drip and cause flare-ups, Cohen laughed, “That’s what makes it fun! It’s added flavor.” Just be careful!

Stop overcooking your squash

“Squash gets so watery that it’s a tricky one,” says Cohen. “I would say, always grill them for much less time. Grill big chunks. Get flavor on all sides. Take them off as soon as you see them start to leak.” (Read: Salt them once they’re off the heat, not beforehand, or you’ll draw out the water too early and end up with a mushy supper.)

Consider Japanese eggplants

A similarly watery vegetable is eggplant, but Cohen avoids the trickiness of dealing with big, fat slices by going for slender Japanese eggplants. “They’re smaller and easier, and I’ll usually slice them lengthwise, oil them, and grill till they’re pretty charred.” When they’re done, salt them a little to taste and add fresh herbs, lemon juice, and salt.

Don’t waste time marinating

Any need to marinate your veggies for hours in advance? “Nope,” says Cohen, “because they’re not going to soak in as

much flavor. Might as well put the marinade on on the grill.”

You can skip bell peppers if you want to

It’s true that most every veggie is good for you, but Cohen is not a bell pepper person. “I hear bell peppers and I think 1992.”

Be smart about onions

Many of us grew up seeing onions, bell peppers, and maybe portobello mushrooms as the only vegetable players worthy of the grill, usually added to skewers. They rarely seemed to cook correctly or all the way through. As for onions, says Cohen, “if you want to sort of bring it into the present, what I like to grill are scallions. If I’d grill an onion that’s what I’d grill. You have a lot more flavor.” She’d also consider spring onions or pearl onions, oiling and salting before grilling.

RELATED: 6 health Benefits of Onions

Grill better mushrooms

Cohen would skip the aforementioned portobellos in favor of “more interesting mushrooms, like oyster or king oyster mushrooms. I’d toss ‘em in oil, salt them, and grill them till they get a nice char.”

Grilled tomatoes rule

Always add fresh tomatoes to things in the summertime? Consider the grill. “A grilled tomato sauce is delicious,” says Cohen.

Don’t overcook your corn

Cohen makes a dreamy-sounding corn jam at her restaurant, but for other uses, she grills shucked, cleaned corn just until marked. “I’m a firm believer that corn doesn’t need to be cooked that much.”

Alex Van Buren—follow her on Instagram and Twitter @alexvanburen—is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor and content strategist who has written for The Washington Post, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, and Epicurious.

11 Easy Eggplant Recipes

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