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Africa Roundup: Nigerian fintech gets $360M, mints unicorn, draws Chinese VC

November 2019 could mark when Nigeria (arguably) became Africa’s unofficial capital for fintech investment and digital finance startups.

The month saw $360 million invested in Nigerian focused payment ventures. That is equivalent to roughly one-third of all the startup VC raised for the entire continent in 2018, according to Partech stats.

A notable trend-within-the-trend is that more than half — or $170 million — of the funding to Nigerian fintech ventures in November came from Chinese investors. This marks a pivot in China’s engagement with Africa to tech. We’ll get to that.

Before the big Chinese backed rounds, one of Nigeria’s earliest fintech companies, Interswitch, confirmed its $1 billion valuation after Visa took a minority stake in the company. Interswitch would not disclose the amount to TechCrunch, but Sky News reporting pegged it at $200 million for 20%.

Founded in 2002 by Mitchell Elegbe, Interswitch pioneered the infrastructure to digitize Nigeria’s then predominantly paper-ledger and cash-based economy.

The company now provides much of the tech-wiring for Nigeria’s online banking system that serves Africa’s largest economy and population. Interswitch offers a number of personal and business finance products, including its Verve payment cards and Quickteller payment app.

The financial services firm has expanded its physical presence to Uganda, Gambia and Kenya . The Nigerian company also sells its products in 23 African countries and launched a partnership in August for Verve cardholders to make payments on Discover’s global network.

Visa and Interswitch touted the equity investment as a strategic collaboration between the two companies, without a lot of detail on what that will mean.

One point TechCrunch did lock down is Interswitch’s (long-awaited) and imminent IPO. A source close to the matter said the company will list on a major exchange by mid-2020.

For the near to medium-term, Interswitch could stand as Africa’s sole tech-unicorn, as e-commerce venture Jumia’s volatile share-price and declining market-cap — since an April IPO — have dropped the company’s valuation below $1 billion.

Circling back to China, November was the month that signaled Chinese actors are all in on African tech.

In two separate rounds, Chinese investors put $220 million into OPay and PalmPay — two fledgling startups with plans to scale in Nigeria and the broader continent.

PalmPay, a consumer oriented payments product, went live last month with a $40 million seed-round (one of the largest in Africa in 2019) led by Africa’s biggest mobile-phone seller — China’s Transsion.

The startup was upfront about its ambitions, stating its goals to become “Africa’s largest financial services platform,” in a company release.

To that end, PalmPay conveniently entered a strategic partnership with its lead investor. The startup’s payment app will come pre-installed on Transsion’s mobile device brands, such as Tecno, in Africa — for an estimated reach of 20 million phones.

PalmPay also launched in Ghana in November and its UK and Africa based CEO, Greg Reeve, confirmed plans to expand to additional African countries in 2020.

OPay’s $120 million Series B was announced several days after the PalmPay news and came only months after the mobile-based fintech venture raised $50 million.

Founded by Chinese owned consumer internet company Opera — and backed by 9 Chinese investors — OPay is the payment utility for a suite of Opera developed internet based commercial products in Nigeria. These include ride-hail apps ORide and OCar and food delivery service OFood.

With its latest Series A, OPay announced it would expand in Kenya, South Africa, and Ghana.

Though it wasn’t fintech, Chinese investors also backed a (reported) $30 million Series B for East African trucking logistics company Lori Systems in November.

With OPay, PalmPay, and Lori Systems, startups in Africa have raised a combined $240 million from 15 Chinese investors in a span of months.

There are a number of things to note and watch out for here, as TechCrunch reporting has illuminated (and will continue to do in follow-on coverage).

These moves mark a next chapter in China’s engagement in Africa and could raise some new issues. Hereto, the country’s interaction with Africa’s tech ecosystem has been relatively light compared to China’s deal-making on infrastructure and commodities.

There continues to be plenty of debate (and critique) of China’s role in Africa. This new digital-phase will certainly add a fresh component to all that. One thing to track will be data-privacy and national-security concerns that may emerge around Chinese actors investing heavily in African mobile consumer platforms.

We’ve seen lines (allegedly) blur on these matters between Chinese state and private-sector actors with companies such as Huawei.

As OPera and PalmPay expand, they may need to do some reassuring of African regulators as countries (such as Kenya) establish more formal consumer protection protocols for digital platforms.

One more thing to follow on OPay’s funding and planned expansion is the extent to which it puts Opera (and its entire suite of consumer internet products) in competition with multiple actors in Africa’s startup ecosystem. Opera’s Africa ventures could go head to head with Uber, Jumia, and M-Pesa — the mobile money-product that put Kenya out front on digital finance in Africa before Nigeria.

Shifting back to American engagement in African tech, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey was on the continent in November. No sooner than he’d finished his first trip, Dorsey announced plans to move to Africa in 2020, for 3 to 6 months, saying on Twitter “Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!).”

We still don’t know much about what this last trip — or his future foray — mean in terms of concrete partnerships, investment, or market moves in Africa from Dorsey and his companies.

He visited Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia and met with leaders at Nigeria’s CcHub (Bosun Tijani), Ethiopia’s Ice Addis (Markos Lemming), and did some meetings with fintech founders in Lagos (Paga’s Tayo Oviosu).

I know most of the organizations and people Dorsey talked to pretty well and nothing has shaken out yet in terms of partnership or investment news from his recent trip.

On what could come out of Dorsey’s 2020 move to Africa, per his tweet and news highlighted in this roundup, a good bet would be it will have something to with fintech and Square.

More Africa-related stories @TechCrunch

African tech around the ‘net

An Easy Guide to Food And Wine Pairing

There are no hard and fast rules in pairing food and wine. Nevertheless, it’s easy to get confused about how to create the perfect pairing of food elements with certain wine flavor notes. This easy guide to food and wine pairing will not only give you great wine like those you can purchase online from Sokolin.com, but we’ll give you a host of items that pair beautifully with it.

Cabernet Sauvignon

guide to food and wine pairing cabernet sauvignon

This wine is one of the most popular in the United States for its bold fruity and tannin flavors. It pairs well with very heavy and filling meals, but there is also a much lighter side that goes excellently with cheeses.

  • Fruits and Vegetables – tomato, black cherries, broccoli
  • Cheese and Nuts – walnuts, Gorgonzola, cheddar
  • Desserts – bittersweet chocolate
  • Herbs and Spices – juniper, rosemary, lavender
  • Meat and Poultry – beef stew, rib eye
  • Sauces – tomato, brown
  • Seafood – grilled ahi tuna

See Also: 8 Straight Benefits of Red Wine

Chardonnay

guide to food and wine pairing chardonnay

Chardonnay comes in several styles, and each style pairs differently with food. However, this wine features a sensual body and decadents that stands up to most flavor combinations and dishes where other wines may not. It has excellent acidity, and this helps cut through richer dishes.

  • Fruits and Vegetables – Mango, squash, apple, potato
  • Cheese and Nuts – Unoaked Chardonnay goes best with semi-soft and mild cheeses, Oaky Chardonnay goes well with Havarti, Asiago, or Stilton. Both go well with almost all toasted nuts and almonds
  • Desserts – Vanilla pudding, banana bread
  • Herbs and Spices – sesame, tarragon, basil
  • Meat and Poultry – Chicken, veal, pork
  • Sauces – pesto, cream sauces
  • Seafood – crab, shrimp, lobster

Riesling

In the United States, Riesling is an extremely sweet wine, but European Riesling is minimally sweet. It has an excellent balance of sweetness and acidity that makes it great for food and wine pairings. It does wonderfully at balancing out spicy foods as well.

  • Fruits and Vegetables – Chili peppers, apricots, pears
  • Cheese and Nuts – Gouda, Havarti, candied pecans or walnuts
  • Desserts – Caramel sauce, apple pie
  • Herbs and Spices – ginger, rosemary, Indian or Thai spices
  • Meat and Poultry – Duck, smoked sausage Foie Gras
  • Sauces – Chutney, BBQ, spicy
  • Seafood – Trout, sea bass

Pinot Noir

This odd wine can have some truly bizarre combinations that seem to work very well. You can find cherry listed alongside mushroom or “forest floor” flavors and get a wonderfully fragrant and tasty wine. It’s a lighter body wine that can withstand some meat dishes.

  • Fruits and Vegetables – Figs, mushrooms, dried fruits, strawberries
  • Cheese and Nuts – Brie, goat cheese, walnuts
  • Desserts – white chocolate, creme brulee
  • Herbs and Spices – Nutmeg, cinnamon, truffle, clove
  • Meat and Poultry – Sausage, lamb, chicken, filet mignon
  • Sauces – light to medium red sauce, mushroom sauce
  • Seafood – Salmon, ahi tuna

Sauvignon Blanc

guide to food and wine pairing sauvignon blanc

This lighter, crisp white wine has a very high acidity level with a lot of citrus notes. It’s excellent for pairing with lighter but flavorful dishes. The wine’s herbaceous taste can enhance any herbs in the dish as well. This makes it a popular dinner wine.

  • Fruits and Vegetables – Green apple, citrus, asparagus
  • Cheese and Nuts – Goat cheese, feta, pine nuts
  • Desserts – Key lime pie, sorbet, mango, meringue
  • Herbs and Spices – Tarragon, chives, cilantro
  • Meat and Poultry – Turkey, chicken, pork
  • Sauces – Light cream sauces, citrus sauces
  • Seafood – Oysters, shrimp, lobster, sushi, fatty white fish

Merlot

guide to food and wine pairing merlot

Although Merlot’s popularity has gone down in recent years, it’s a staple in the wine industry. You’ll get berry and grape flavoring with a beautiful eucalyptus note. You can use this note to play of elements of your dish.

  • Fruits and Vegetables – Tomatoes, caramelized onions, plums
  • Cheese and Nuts – Pecorino-Romano, Parmesan, walnuts, chestnuts
  • Desserts – Berries, dark chocolate, fondue
  • Herbs and Spices – Juniper, rosemary, mint
  • Meat and Poultry – Steak, grilled meat
  • Sauces – Bearnaise, bolognese
  • Seafood – Ahi tuna, grilled meatier fish

Syrah

Syrah is very difficult to pin down, but it’s popular around the world. One of the biggest selling points is that it have a very smooth but peppery finish. There are usually enough fruit notes to balance the spice, and it goes great with a variety of herbs.

  • Fruits and Vegetables – Stewed tomatoes, currants, beets
  • Cheese and Nuts – Roquefort, sharp cheddar, walnuts, hazelnuts
  • Desserts – Rhubarb pie, black forest cake, coffee-based desserts
  • Herbs and Spices – Sage, oregano
  • Meat and Poultry – Pepperoni, roasted meat, braised pork shoulder, spicy sausage
  • Sauces – Heavy red sauces, BBQ
  • Seafood Salmon, ahi tuna

See Also: 5 Best Wine Regions To Visit Before You Die

With this guide to food and wine pairing, you should now be confident enough to create some truly fantastic dishes. Experiment, mix and match, and find your new go-to food and wine pairing!

The post An Easy Guide to Food And Wine Pairing appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes may be back at Starbucks earlier than ever

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Hot Girl Summer is nearly over, and Basic Girl Autumn is just around the corner. We know this because pumpkin spice season may be arriving earlier than it ever has before.

A report from Business Insider cites Starbucks employees (and otherwise uncorroborated social media posts) as saying that the 2019 launch date for the Pumpkin Spice Latte will be Aug. 27 — a day earlier than last year’s official launch.

Giant jugs of pumpkin spice flavor-sauce arrived in stores at the beginning of August, as documented on r/starbucks (note the June 2019 batch date printed above the label):

On Aug. 7, Starbucks’ Facebook account posted a semi-cryptic clip of a pumpkin converted into a bootleg Magic 8-Ball to official pumpkin-spice fan group Leaf Rakers Society, suggesting the eighth month of the year. (The group is closed, but anyone can join.) The caption promises one clue a week, meaning the next is due on or around Aug. 14.  Read more…

More about Starbucks, Fall, Pumpkin Spice Latte, Culture, and Food

Competition among alternative protein players gets hot as companies beef up with new deals

The competition for control of the burgeoning market for burger replacements (and other alternatives to animal proteins) continues to heat up.

Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods the two leading contenders for top purveyor of plant-based patties (and other formulations) have spent most of the typically sleepy summer months jockeying for the position as top supplier to a food industry suddenly ravenous for alternatives to traditional meat product.s

As soon as the first Impossible Whoppers came off the flame broilers at Burger King, Beyond Meat was announcing a new fast food chain supply deal of its own with Subway.

Through that agreement the publicly traded provider of plant-based products will be grinding up meatless meatballs for Subway’s new vegetarian option to the classic meatball sub.

Subway will roll out meatless meatballs in 685 of its franchise locations in the U.S. and Canada starting in September.

Not to be outdone, Impossible Foods came swinging back with some a new partnership with the institutional food prep giant Sodexo. At roughly 1,500 Sodexo locations food slingers at healthcare facilities and corporate and university cafeterias will unveil new options like Impossible Foods-based sausage muffin sandwiches, sausage gravy and biscuits, steakhouse burgers and creole burgers.

Screen Shot 2019 08 11 at 4.36.46 PM

Image courtesy of Sodexo

“Sodexo is committed to providing customers with more plant-forward and sustainable options as part of their diet,” said Rob Morasco, senior director culinary development, Sodexo, in a statement. “We are excited to expand our menu to include the Impossible Burger’s flavorful blend, which will be featured in several new products this fall.”

Set against this meatless horserace for national food service dominance, other plant-based providers have launched to take the startup direct-to-consumer approach to satisfy vegetarian cravings for other types of food substitutes.

It was partially in response to this furor over the vegetarian market that the world was introduced to Nuggs. Ben Pasternak, the company’s young founder, first came to fame as the teenage entrepreneur behind the social media app Monkey.

When Monkey was sold to a Chinese company in 2017, Pasternak turned his attention to food. He’s been cooking up the idea for Nuggs since that time. In 2018 the core team assembled with Pasternak bringing on Liam Mullen, a former pastry chef and self-trained molecular gastronomist who was working for the high-end New York restaurant Daniel at the age of 16.

Screen Shot 2019 08 11 at 4.38.18 PM

Image courtesy of Nuggs

Unlike Impossible Foods, which has faced supply chain woes thanks to its initial strategy of building its own manufacturing facilities, Nuggs is manufactured by McCain Foods, a food prep giant that also led the company’s $7 million round. Other investors include Rainfall Ventures; Greylock Discovery Fund; Maven Ventures; NOMO Ventures; M Ventures; ACME Capital; Founder of MTV and CEO of iHeartMedia, Bob Pittman; Casper Founder & COO, Neil Parikh; and Former President of Tumblr, John Maloney.

While Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have grabbed most of the headlines as the first generation of protein substitutes to really make a dent with consumers, Just (the company formerly known as Hampton Creek) has also nabbed some major deals with big fast food chains for its big product — egg replacements.

Launched in 2018, the egg replacement from Just inked a major deal in late July with Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee, donut, and sandwich chain. Much as Beyond Meat has found a home for its meatless sausages at Dunkin Donuts in the U.S., Just has seen Tim Hortons take its eggless egg replacement to a Canadian consumers (Hortons also has a sandwich using Beyond Meat).

Some companies are going beyond plant-based protein replacements to lab-grown versions of the real thing. That’s been the story behind Perfect Day, which sold out of their $20-per-pint ice cream in a matter of hours. Like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, the company intends to sell through ice cream manufacturers rather than going direct to consumers with its own product, according to a CNBC report.

The three protein replacement companies have grabbed investor attention and heralded a surge of venture capital investment into plant based protein products. In all, Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and Just have snagged over $1 billion in funding.

For investors in Beyond Meat, the $122 million in capital will yield billions in returns. The company’s market capitalization is up to a meaty $13.4 billion from $1.5 billion when its stock first began public trading. Analysts at Barclays predict the market for alternative proteins could hit $140 billion by 2029.

Singapore’s Grain, a profitable food delivery startup, pulls in $10M for expansion

Cloud kitchens are the big thing in food delivery, with ex-Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s new business one contender in that space, with Asia, and particularly Southeast Asia, a major focus. Despite the newcomers, a more established startup from Singapore has raised a large bowl of cash to go after regional expansion.

Founded in 2014, Grain specializes in clean food while it takes a different approach to Kalanick’s CloudKitchens or food delivery services like Deliveroo, FoodPanda or GrabFood.

It adopted a cloud kitchen model — utilizing unwanted real estate as kitchens, with delivery services for output — but used it for its own operations. So while CloudKitchens and others rent their space to F&B companies as a cheaper way to make food for their on-demand delivery customers, Grain works with its own chefs, menu and delivery team. A so-called ‘full stack’ model if you can stand the cliched tech phrase.

Finally, Grain is also profitable. The new round has it shooting for growth — more on that below — but the startup was profitable last year, CEO and co-founder Yi Sung Yong told TechCrunch.

Now it is reaping the rewards of a model that keeps it in control of its product, unlike others that are complicated by a chain that includes the restaurant and a delivery person.

We previously wrote about Grain when it raised a $1.7 million Series A back in 2016 and today it announced a $10 million Series B which is led by Thailand’s Singha Ventures, the VC arm of the beer brand. A bevy of other investors took part, including Genesis Alternative Ventures, Sass Corp, K2 Global — run by serial investor Ozi Amanat who has backed Impossible Foods, Spotify and Uber among others — FoodXervices and Majuven. Existing investors Openspace Ventures, Raging Bull — from Thai Express founder Ivan Lee — and Cento Ventures participated.

The round includes venture debt, as well as equity, and it is worth noting that the family office of the owners of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf — Sassoon Investment Corporation — was involved.

Grain covers individual food as well as buffets in Singapore

Three years is a long gap between the two deals — Openspace and Cento have even rebranded during the intervening period — and the ride has been an eventful one. During those years, Sung said the business had come close to running out of capital before it doubled down on the fundamentals before the precarious runway capital ran out.

In fact, he said, the company — which now has over 100 staff — was fully prepared to self-sustain.

“We didn’t think of raising a Series B,” he explained in an interview. “Instead, we focused on the business and getting profitable… we thought that we can’t depend entirely on investors.”

And, ladies and gentleman, the irony of that is that VCs very much like a business that can self-sustain — it shows a model is proven — and investing in a startup that doesn’t need capital can be attractive.

Ultimately, though, profitability is seen as sexy today — particularly in the meal space where countless U.S. startups has shuttered including Munchery and Sprig — but the focus meant that Grain had to shelve its expansion plans. It then went through soul-searching times in 2017 when a spoilt curry saw 20 customers get food poisoning.

Sung declined to comment directly on that incident, but he said that company today has developed the “infrastructure” to scale its business across the board, and that very much includes quality control.

Grain co-founder and CEO Yi Sung Yong [Image via LinkedIn]

Grain currently delivers “thousands” of meals per day in Singapore, its sole market, with eight-figures in sales per year, he said. Last year, growth was 200 percent, Sung continued, and now is the time to look overseas. With Singha, the Grain CEO said the company has “everything we need to launch in Bangkok.”

Thailand — which Malaysia-based rival Dahamakan picked for its first expansion — is the only new launch on the table, but Sung said that could change.

“If things move faster, we’ll expand to more cities, maybe one per year,” he said. “But we need to get our brand, our food and our service right first.”

One part of that may be securing better deals for raw ingredients and food from suppliers. Grain is expanding its ‘hub’ kitchens — outposts placed strategically around town to serve customers faster — and growing its fleet of trucks, which are retrofitted with warmers and chillers for deliveries to customers.

Grain’s journey is proof that startups in the region will go through trials and tribulations, but being able to bolt down the fundamentals and reduce burn rate is crucial in the event that things go awry. Just look to grocery startup Honestbee, also based in Singapore, for evidence of what happens when costs are allowed to pile up.

Online catering marketplace ezCater gets another $150M at a $1.25B valuation

In 2007, Stefania Mallett and Briscoe Rodgers conceived of ezCater, an online marketplace for business catering, and began building the company in Mallet’s Boston home, mostly at her kitchen table.

Recently, sitting at that same table, Mallett negotiated with Brad Twohig of Lightspeed Venture Partners the final terms of a $150 million Series D-1 at a $1.25 billion valuation. Lightspeed, alongside GIC, co-led the round, with participation from Light Street Capital, Wellington Management, ICONIQ Capital and Quadrille Capital.

“Raising money or getting to unicorn status, it’s all nice validation but that’s not the purpose, the purpose of being in business is to grow a very successful company with happy customers and happy employees,” Mallett, ezCater’s chief executive officer, told TechCrunch. “We are going to have cupcakes with unicorns on them. That will take us about a half hour, then we will get back to work.”

EzCater co-founder and CEO Stefania Mallett

Mallett compares ezCater to Expedia . The travel company doesn’t own and operate hotels, nor do they create them. EzCater, similarly, works with 60,500 restaurants and caterers around the U.S. to fulfill orders, but at no point do they work directly with food nor make any deliveries themselves.

Since its inception, the ezCater marketplace has grown considerably, expanding 100 percent annually for the last eight years, Mallett tells us. Though, like most unicorns, ezCater isn’t profitable yet.

Both Mallett and Rodgers are software industry veterans, establishing engineering careers prior to tackling business catering. The pair bootstrapped the company until 2011, when they secured a small Series A investment of $2.7 million. That same year, U.S. foodtech startups raised $176 million, per PitchBook. EzCater would go on to raise more than $300 million in equity funding, including its latest round, and VC interest in foodtech would explode. Already this year, U.S. foodtech startups have brought in $626 million after pulling in a whopping $5 billion in 2018.

EzCater has benefited from this boom. The company raised a $100 million Series D just 10 months ago.

“We really didn’t need the money, we have quite a lot of money in the bank from the last round,” Mallett said. “There was so much talk of a funding winter and a recession coming so we said maybe we should try to raise money and then people jumped on it so we thought OK, why not? If there is a funding winter, we’re set; if not, well, we are still set.”

The investment comes hot off the heels of ezCater’s acquisition of Monkey Group, a cloud platform for take-out, delivery and catering. Mallett declined to disclose terms of the deal but said the partnership makes ezCater the indisputable market leader in catering management software. The company will use its recently expanded war chest to accelerate its international expansion and, potentially, continue its M&A streak. As for the future, an initial public offering is amongst the possibilities.

“We certainly are considering it,” Mallett said. “As we’ve grown, we’ve become more sophisticated and mature; that puts us in a good position to continue operating as a successful standalone company or be acquired by a public company or go public if we see an opportunity to do that. We are not wedded to any of these outcomes.”

Toast, the restaurant management platform, has raised $250M at a $2.7B valuation

Restaurant sales hit $825 billion last year in the U.S., but with margins averaging at only three to five percent per business, they’re always looking for an edge on efficiency and just generally running things in a smarter way. A startup called Toast, which has built a popular platform for restaurant management, has closed a hefty round of funding to double down on that opportunity to do that.

The company has raised $250 million on a valuation of $2.7 billion, money that it will use to invest in building technology to help restaurants with marketing, recruitment and operational efficiency, as well as start to think about expanding to more territories outside the U.S.

The basics of the funding were flagged earlier today by Prime Unicorn Index and we reached out to the company to confirm. It is being led by TCV and Tiger Global Management, with participation from Bessemer Venture Partners and T. Rowe Price Associates funds and other existing investors.

This Series E is a big bump up for the company: in its previous round in July 2018, the company was valued at $1.4 billion — partly the result of strong growth at the company. While it’s not disclosing revenue numbers or whether it is yet profitable, Toast currently serves tens of thousands of businesses — covering a range of sizes from independent venues to smaller chains — and in the last year tallied up transactions in the tens of billions of dollars, seeing growth of some 148 percent in its revenues, according to CFO Tim Barash.

The restaurant business represents a big opportunity for e-commerce companies, but there have been some notable stumbles where ambitions have not been met with success. Groupon, which spent several years acquiring and organically building a point of sale and restaurant management business, first drastically cut down and then finally called it quits and sold off its efforts, called Breadcrumb, in 2016. Amazon also pulled out of point of sale services (aimed at more than restaurants) and has in certain regions also pulled back on other restaurant efforts like its order management and delivery platform.

Barash said in an interview that he thinks the key to why Toast has steadily grown its business through all that is because a large proportion of its own employees — some 70 percent — have worked in the food service industry themselves.

“I was first a busboy, and then I worked in pizza delivery for years,” he said. “Seventy percent of our employees have worked at restaurants, including those in our product leadership, and that helps us understand the problem.”

Restaurants, as Barash points out, are complicated. “They are essentially manufacturers and retailers at the same time, all in one small physical footprint,” and so the key to building products for them is to understand that and the challenges they face in building and running those businesses.

And that’s before you consider the many other factors that can make restaurants a dicey game, from changing cuisine tastes, to changing eating habits — many get food delivered today — to the precariousness of the commercial real estate market and so much more.

The aim of Toast is to build tools to apply data science and orderly IT processes to address whichever of those variables that can be controlled by the restaurant.

Today, Toast’s products include point of sale services as well as reporting and analytics; display systems for kitchens; online ordering and delivery interfaces; and loyalty programs. It also builds its own hardware, which includes handheld order pads, payment and ordering terminals, self-service kiosks and displays for guests. It also offers links through to a network of some 100 partners, such as Grubhub for takeout food, when a restaurant does not cover those services or functions directly, to help stitch together services to work on its platform.

Tomorrow, the plan is to use the funding to enhance all of those with more advanced features that speak to some of the bigger issues and concerns Barash said its customers are voicing today.

That will include better and more services aimed at guest engagement and retention; better ways to recruit and keep people in an industry that has a high turnover of employees; and of course more tools to address how efficiently a business is operating to make it more profitable. The company has committed some $1 billion in the next five years to R&D to build more hardware and software.

Having access to this kind of tech and platform is a big deal, especially for independently owned places that hope to compete against bigger chains without having to compromise on their core competency: making unique and delicious food.

In the meantime, Barash said that while Toast itself is no stranger to approaches from larger players itself — he declined to say who but said many who have ambitions to do more business with the restaurant industry had approached it over the years — the company’s long-term vision is to grow bigger and remain its own boss.

It’s an ambition that has hit the spot with investors that have an appetite for high-growth businesses.

“At TCV, we invest in companies that have the potential to reshape entire industries. By providing restaurants of all sizes with access to innovative technology, Toast is leveling the playing field and leading the industry’s transition to the cloud,” said David Yuan, general partner at TCV, in a statement, who is joining the board with this round. “Our investment will enable Toast to extend their platform beyond point-of-sale and guest-facing technology, and in doing so, create a powerful SaaS platform with a superlative business model. We’re excited to partner with Toast as they accelerate the growth of the community they serve.”

Go-Jek’s Get app officially launches in Thailand as Southeast Asia expansion continues

Go-Jek is extending its reach in Southeast Asia after its Thailand-based unit made its official launch, which included the addition of a new food delivery service.

Get, which is the name for Go-Jek business in Thailand, started out last year offering motorbike taxi on-demand services to a limited part of Thai capital city Bangkok, now the company said it has expanded the bikes across the city and added food and delivery options. Get’s management team is composed of former Uber staffers while CEO Pinya Nittayakasetwat was recruited from chat app Line’s food delivery business.

Over the last two months, Get claims to have completed two million trips in the past two months. There’s no word on when Get will add four-wheeled transport options, however. On the food side, Get is claiming to have 20,000 merchants on its platform but there are some issues. Rumming through the app, I found a number of listed restaurants that didn’t include menus. In those instances, customers have to input their dish and price which makes it pretty hard to use.

Go-Jek’s Get app in Thailand doesn’t include menus for a number of restaurants, making it nearly impossible to order

Grab is the dominant player in Thailand, where it offers taxis, private cars, motorbikes, delivery and food across eight markets in Southeast Asia. Go-Jek rose to success in its native Indonesia, where it began offering motorbikes on demand but has expanded to cover taxi, cars, food, general services on-demand and fintech. Its investors include Google, Tencent, Meituan and Sequoia India.

That’s the same playbook Grab is using, but Go-Jek is taking its time with its market expansions. Thailand represents its third new market beyond Indonesia, following launches in Vietnam and Singapore. The Philippines is another market where Go-Jek has voiced a desire to be present — it has even made an acquisition there — but regulatory issues are holding up a launch.

Regional expansion doesn’t come cheap and Go-Jek is in the midst of raising $2 billion to finance these moves. It recently closed $1 billion from existing investors, and Deal Street Asia reports that it could raise as much as $3 billion for the entire Series F round. That’s likely in response to Grab’s own fundraising plans. The Singapore-based company closed $2 billion last year, but it is looking to increase that total to $5 billion with a major injection from SoftBank’s Vision Fund a key piece of that puzzle.

Coffee Culture: The Origins of Your Morning Cup of Joe

In 1699, the East India Trading Company set up the first commercial exports of coffee from Java, Indonesia. As Europeans became fascinated with the strong beverage, its demand only grew stronger. It pushed global trade at the time to its limits — but this was far from the beginning of coffee culture.

Recalled in artwork done by Dutch painter Adriaen Van Ostade, the first European coffee shops and the start of European coffee culture began in the Netherlands. Brought on by the boom of global trade, Venetians, Parisians, and the Dutch embraced coffee. Since then, they considered it embedded in their very own culture as well.

Many countries lay claim to being the first ever coffee drinkers. While we may never know who really started it, the earliest known records of coffee drinking come from 15th century Yemen. The word coffee, derived from an Arabic word used to describe a very strong wine, already has ancient origins itself. It has changed little through the centuries we’ve been enjoying the brew.

But as any coffee lover will tell you, and perhaps the nearly 70% of Americans who drink at least two cups of coffee a day, there is more to coffee than just being a hot morning beverage. Coffee has a culture all its own and the evolution of coffee is an interesting story.

See Also: The Pros and Cons of Coffee Drinking

The Advent of The Coffee House And The Morning Cup of Joe

morning cup of joe

The way we enjoy coffee is evident in not just the way we drink it, but the places in which we drink it. Coffee houses have long been a hot spot for community gathering, innovation, and even political plotting.

Sociologist Ray Oldenburg calls coffee houses a “third place”. He categorized them as a setting that’s not quite home and not quite the workplace. The “third place” includes other establishments likes bars and public parks, serving a truly neutral meeting ground for all community members, regardless of wealth or status.

The Tontine Coffee House in New York City, for example, became the initial founding place of the New York stock exchange in 1792. In 1850, the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans lovingly had the distinctly American cocktail, the Sazerac, named after its coffeeshop birthplace.

Earlier still, in response to the earth shaking and politically powerful statements of the Boston Tea Party, many early Americans and revolutionary leaders began drinking coffee instead of tea in direct opposition to the English crown.

  • Second president John Adams took up coffee as his beverage of choice. He chose it alongside other Americans rebelling against English rule and taxation
  • Pioneer James Folger sold coffee to miners during the California gold rush, paving the way for future commercial coffee retailers

The Evolution of Coffee Shops

evolution of coffee shop

Times have changed but our obsession with coffee certainly hasn’t.

In 1971, Howard Schultz opened the first ever Starbucks in Seattle, Washington. It reinvigorated our love for all things coffee. Introducing Italian café culture and European style brews to the west coast, Starbucks now operates almost 30,000 stores worldwide. Most of these houses are concentrated in the U.S.

Though this massive coffee chain remains as popular as ever, the most recent take on coffee culture has a local twist. A far cry from the global trade boom of yesteryear, coffee drinkers are looking for a community feel when it comes to their brew.

In 2017, independent cafés made more than $12 billion in revenue as coffee lovers flocked to their local shops. Millennials and Gen Zers, in particular, are willing to pay more for the unique coffee experience of shops. In 2016 alone, more than six million mobile orders were placed on the Starbucks app every single month. While we may like to sit and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee once in a while, we expect our brew to be fast, fresh, and piping hot.

  • The number of specialty coffee houses increased 19 times in the years between 2001 and 2015
  • 40% of millennials are spending more on coffee than they are putting in retirement savings
  • Adjusted for inflation, the median cup of coffee risen from $1.95 in 1920 to $3.17 in 2018

How do you take your coffee?

As coffee culture evolves around us, the simple yet at times enigmatic cup of coffee remains. This infographic details the ebb and flow of coffee culture through the centuries, how it reflects the current times, influences change and takes on symbolic roles wherever it goes.
Coffee Culture
Source: RaveReviews.org

The post Coffee Culture: The Origins of Your Morning Cup of Joe appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Apeel partners with Nature’s Pride to bring spoilage resistant fruits and veggies to Europe

Apeel Sciences, the developer of a new technology that makes fruits and vegetables more resistant to spoilage, and Nature’s Pride, one of the largest vendors of avocados and mangos in Europe, are partnering to bring longer-lived avocados to market.

Subject to regulatory approval in the EU, Nature’s Pride said it will integrate Apeel’s plant-based preservation technology into its avocado supply chain — bringing avocados with double the edible shelf life to European homes.

Apeel’s technology takes the naturally occurring chemicals found in the skins and peels of plants and applies it to fresh produce, providing what the company calls “a little extra peel” that slows the rate of water loss and oxidation — which cause vegetables and fruits to spil.

The company says that its produce will stay fresh two to three times longer than untreated produce. Apeel touts that its technology can lead to more sustainable growing practices and less food waste.

Across Europe, 88 million tons of food is thrown out every year, at a cost of 143 billion euros (or roughly $163 billion dollars).

As part of the agreement with Nature’s Pride, Apeel Sciences is introducing a co-branded label with the European fruit supplier.

Founded in 2012 with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help reduce post-harvest food loss in developing countries that lack access to refrigeration, Apeel Sciences is backed by a slew of marquee investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Viking Global Investors, Upfront Ventures, S2G Ventures, Powerplant Ventures, DBL Partners, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UK Department for International Development, and The Rockefeller Foundation .

VCs give us their predictions for startups and tech in Southeast Asia in 2019

The new year is well underway and, before January is out, we polled VCs in Southeast Asia to get their thoughts on what to expect in 2019.

The number of VCs in the region has increased massively in recent years, in no small part due to forecasts of growth in the tech space as internet access continues to shoot up among Southeast Asia’s cumulative population of more than 600 million consumers.

There are other factors, including economic growth and emerging middle classes, but with more than 3.8 million people becoming first-time internet users each month — thanks to smartphones — Southeast Asia’s ‘digital economy’ is tipped to more than triple to reach $240 billion by 2025. That leaves plenty of opportunity for tech and online businesses and, by extension, venture capitalists.

With a VC corpus that now numbers dozens of investment firms, TechCrunch asked the people who write the checks what is on the horizon for 2019.

The only rule was no more than three predictions — below, in no particular order, is what they told us.


Albert Shyy, Burda

Funds will continue to invest aggressively in Southeast Asia in the first half of this year but capital will tighten up by Q4 as funds and companies prepare for a possible recession. I think we will see a lot of companies opportunistically go out to fundraise in Q1/Q2 to take advantage of a bull market.

We will see two to three newly-minted unicorns from the region this year, after a relative lull last year.

This will (finally) be the year that we start to see some consolidation in the e-commerce scene


Dmitry Levit, Cento

A significant portion of capital returned by upcoming U.S. IPOs to institutional investors will be directed to growth markets outside of China, with India and Southeast Asia being the likeliest beneficiaries. Alternative assets such as venture and subsets of private equity in emerging markets will enter their golden age.

The withdrawal of Chinese strategic players held back by weakened domestic economy, prudent M&A by local strategics and ongoing caution among Japanese, Korean and global corporates, combined with ongoing valuations exuberance by late-stage investors allocating funds to Southeast Asia, will continue holding back large liquidity events. Save perhaps for a roll-up of a local champion or two into a global IPO. Fundraising will get more troublesome for some of Southeast Asia’s larger unprofitable market leaders. Lack of marquee liquidity events and curtailed access to late-stage capital for some will lead to a few visible failures (our money is on the subsidy-heavy wallets!) and a temporary burst of short-term skepticism around Southeast Asia as an investment destination towards the end of 2019.

The trend towards the emergence of value-chain specific funds and fund managers will continue, as digitalization is reaching ever further into numerous industry sectors and as Southeast Asia hosts an increasing portion of global supply chains. We foresee at least dozen new venture firms and vehicles emerging in 2019 with clear sector-led investment thesis around the place of Southeast Asian economies in the global value chains of fashion industry, agriculture and food; labour, healthcare services; manufacturing, construction tech and so on, with investment teams that have the necessary expertise to unravel this increasing complexity.


Willson Cuaca, East Ventures

Jakarta becomes Southeast Asia’s startup capital surpassing Singapore in terms of the number of deals and investment amount.

As Indonesia’s startup scene heats up, regional seed and series A funds move away from Indonesia and target Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines (in market priority order).

Southeast gets two new unicorns.


Rachel Lau, RHL Ventures

North Asian companies will provide well-needed liquidity as they withdraw capital from developed American and European markets due to the Federal Reserve’s actions. The FED raised interest rates and reduced the size of its balance sheet (by not replacing the bonds that were maturing at a rate of $50 billion a month). This has been seen in the recent fundraising exercise by Southeast Asian unicorns. Grab has recently seen an impressive list of North Asian investors such as Mirae, Toyota and Yamaha . A recent stat stated that 85 percent of the funding of Southeast Asia startups have gone to billion dollar unicorn such as Grab and Gojek, bypassing the early stage startups that are more in need for funding, this trend is expected to continue. Therefore, we will see early-stage companies and venture capitalists becoming more focused on generating cash flow from operating operations instead as fundraising activities become more difficult.

A growth in urbanization in Southeast will create new job opportunities in small/medium businesses, as evident in China. Currently, only 12 percent of Asia’s urban population live in megacities, while four percent live in towns of fewer than 300,000 inhabitants. New companies will see the blurred lines between brick and mortar businesses vs pure online businesses. In the past year or so, we have seen more and more offline businesses going online and more online businesses going offline.

Fertility rates in the Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam exceed 2.1 births per woman — the level that sustains a population — but rates below 1.5 in Singapore and Thailand mean their populations will decline without immigration. As we see more startup activities coming to Southeast Asian countries, we expect to see more qualified foreign talent moving to the region vs staying in low growth American and European countries.


Kay-Mok Ku, Gobi Ventures

First Chinese “Seaward” Unicorn in Southeast Asia. In recent years, a growing number of Chinese startups are targeting overseas markets from the get go (known as Chuhai 出海 or “Seaward”). These Chinese entrepreneurs typically bring with them best practices in consumer marketing and product development honed by a hyper-competitive home market, supported by strong, dedicated technical team based out of China and increasingly capitalized by Chinese VCs which have raised billion-dollar funds.

Consolidation among ASEAN Unicorns. While ASEAN now boasts 10 unicorns, they are duplicative in the sense that more than one exists in a particular category, which is unsustainable for winner-takes-all markets. For example, in the ASEAN ride-hailing space, while one unicorn is busy with regional geographic expansion, the other simply co-exists by staying focused on scope expansion within its home market. This will never happen in a single country market like China but now that the ASEAN ride hailing unicorns are finally locking horns, the stage may be set for a Didi-Kuadi like scenario to unfold.

ASEAN jumps on Chinese 5G bandwagon. The tech world in the future will likely bifurcate into American and Chinese-led platforms. As it is, emerging markets are adopting Chinese business models based on bite-sized payment and have embraced Chinese mobile apps often bundled with cheap Chinese smartphones. Looking ahead, 5G will be a game changer as its impact goes beyond smartphones to generic IoT devices, having strategic implications for industries such as autonomous driving. As a result, the US-China Trade War will likely evolve into a Tech War and ASEAN will be forced to choose side.


Daren Tan, Golden Equator Capital

We are excited by growth in the AI and deep tech sectors. The focus has generally been on consumer-focused tech in Southeast Asia as an emerging market, but we are starting to see proprietary solutions emerge for industries such as medtech and fintech. AI also has great applicability across a wide range of consumer sectors in reducing reliance on manpower and creating cost savings.

Data analytics to uncover organizational efficiencies and customer trends will continue to be even more widely used, but there will also be greater emphasis on securing such data especially confidential information in light of multiple high-profile data breaches in 2018. Tools enabling the collection, storage, safe-keeping and analysis of data will be essential.

We are seeing the emergence of more institutional funds from North Asia. So far it has predominantly been Chinese tech giants like Tencent and Alibaba, now we are starting to see Korean and Japanese institutions placing greater emphasis on investment in the Southeast Asian region.


Vinnie Lauria, Golden Gate Ventures

Even more capital flowing from U.S. and China into Southeast Asia, with VCs from both locations soon to open offices in the region

A fresh wave of Series A investments into Vietnam.

Ten exits over $100 million.

 


Amit Anand, Jungle Ventures

The emergence of a financial services super app, think the Meituan or WeChat but only for financial services: The Southeast Asian millennial is one of the most underserved customer from a financial services perspective whether it is payments, consumer goods loans, personal loans, personal finance management, investments or other financial services. We will see the emergence of digital platforms that will aggregate all these related services and provide a one stop financial services shop for this digitally native consumer.

Digitisation of SMEs will be new fintech: Southeast Asia is home to over 100 million SMEs that are at the cusp of digital transformation. Generational change in ownership, local governments push for digitization and increased globalization have created a perfect storm for these SMEs to adopt cloud and other digital technologies at neck-breaking pace. Startups focussing on this segment will get mainstream attention from the venture community over the next few years as they look for new industries that are getting enabled or disrupted by technology.


Kuo-Yi Lim and Peng Ong, Monk’s Hill Ventures

Lyft and Uber go public and show the path to profitability for other rideshare businesses. This has positive effect for the regional rideshare players but also puts pressure on them to demonstrate the same economics in ridesharing. Regional rideshare players double down on super-app positioning instead, to demonstrate value in other ways as rideshare business alone may not reach profitability — ever.

The trade war between China and the US reaches a truce, but a general sense of uncertainty lingers. This is now the new norm — things are less certain and companies have to plan for more adverse scenarios. In the short term, Southeast Asia benefits. Companies — Chinese, American etc — see Southeast Asia as the neutral ground. Investment pours in, creating jobs across industries. Acquisition of local champions intensifies as foreign players jostle for the lead positions.

“Solve the problem” – tech companies will become more prominent… tech companies that are real-estate brokers, recruiters, healthcare providers, food suppliers, logistics… why: many industries are very inefficient.


Hian Goh, Openspace Ventures

Fight to quality will happen. Fundraising across all stages from seed to Series C and beyond will be challenging if you don’t have the metrics. Investors will want to see a path to profitability, or an ability to turn profitable if the environment becomes worse. This will mean Saas companies with stable cash flows, vertical e-commerce with strong metrics will be attractive investment opportunities.

Investor selection will become critical, as investors take a wait and see approach. Existing or new investors into companies will be judged upon their dry powder in their funds and their ability to fund further rounds

The regulatory risk for fintech lenders will be higher this year, rising compliance cost and uncertainty on licensing, which would lead to consolidation in the market.


Heang Chhor, Qualgro

Southeast Asia: an intensifying battlefield for tech investments

There has never been so much VC money in Southeast Asia chasing interesting startups, at all life cycle stages. The 10 most active local and regional VCs have raised their second or third funds recently, amassing at least two times more money than a few years ago, probably reaching a total amount close to $1 billion. In addition, international VCs have also doubled down on their allocation into the region, while top Chinese VCs have visibly stated their intent not to miss the dynamic momentum. Several growth funds have recently built a local presence in order to target Southeast Asia tech companies at Series C and beyond. Not counting the amount going to the unicorns, there might be now more than $3-4 billion available for seed to growth stages, which may be 3-4 times the amount of three years ago. There are, of course, many more good startups coming up to invest into. But the most promising startups will be in a very favorable position to negotiate higher valuation and better terms. However, they should not forget that, eventually, what creates value is how they make a difference with their tech capabilities or their business model, how they acquire and retain the best talent, with the funds raised, not only how much money they will be able to raise. Most local and regional corporate VCs are likely to lose in this more intense investment game.

Significant VC money investing into so-called ‘AI-based startups’, but are there really much (deep) Artificial Intelligence capabilities around?

A good portion of the SEA startups claim they have ‘something-AI’. Investors are overwhelmed, if not confused, by the ‘AI claim’ that they find in most startup pitches. While there is no doubt that Southeast Asia will grow its own strong AI-competence pool in the future, unfortunately today most ‘AI-based’ business models from the region would still be just ‘good algorithms or machine learning’ that can process some amount of data to come up with good-enough outcomes, that do not always generate substantial business value to users/customers. The significant budget that some of the very-well-funded Southeast Asia unicorns are putting into their ‘AI-based apps’ or ‘AI platform’ is unlikely to make a real difference for the consumers, for lack of deep AI competences in the region. 2019 may be another year of AI-promise, not realized. Hopefully, public and private research labs, universities and startups will continue to be (much more) strongly supported (especially by governments) to significantly build bigger AI talent pool, which means growing and attracting AI talent into the region.

Bigger Series A and Series B rounds to fuel more convincing growth trajectory, towards growth-stage fundraising.

Although situations vary a lot: typical Series A in Southeast Asia used to be around $5 million, and Series B around $10-15 million. Investors tended to accept that normally companies would raise money after 18 months or so, between A and B, and between B and C. There has been an increasing number of larger raises at A and B recently, and very likely this trend will accelerate. The fact that VCs now have much more money to deploy into each investment will contribute to this trend. However, the required milestones for raising Series C have become much more around: minimum scale and very solid growth (and profit) drivers. Therefore, entrepreneurs will have to look for getting as much funding reserve as possible, irrespective of time between raises, to build growth engines that take their companies past the milestones of the next Series, be it B or C. In the future, we will see more Series A of $10 million and more Series B of well-above $20 million. Compelling businesses will not have too much difficulties for doing so, but most Southeast Asia entrepreneurs would be wise to learn to more effectively master fundraising skills for capturing much bigger amounts than in the past. Of course, this assumes that their businesses are compelling enough in the eyes of investors.


Vicknesh R Pillay, TNB Aura

Out-sized valuations will be less commonplace in 2019 as Southeast Asian investors learn from experience and become more sophisticated. Therefore, we do see opportunities at Series A/B for undervalued deals due to lack of early-stage funding while we expect to continue to see the trend of the majority of venture capital investments going into later stage companies (Series C and beyond) due to lower risk appetite and ‘herd’ mentality.

2018 has also seen the rapid emergence of many corporate venture capital funds and innovation programs. But, 2019 will see large corporations cutting back on their allocation towards startup investing which would be the easiest option for them in case of adverse news to the jittery public markets in 2019.

With the growth of AI, the need for API connections and increased thought leadership to embrace tech, Southeast Asia is going to see an upsurge in SaaS startups and existing startups moving to a Saas business model. Hence, we expect increased investments into Saas companies focused on IoT and cybersecurity as hardware data and software are moved onto the cloud.


Chua Kee Lock, Vertex Ventures

Southeast Asia VC investment pace has grown steadily and significantly since 2010 where it started from less than $100 million in VC investment in the region. For the first eight months of 2018, the region’s VC investment was over $5.4 billion. For the whole of 2018, it will likely end around $8 billion. For 2019, we expect the VC investment pace to surpass 2018 level and record between $9-10 billion. Southeast Asia will continue to attract more VC investments because:

(1) Governments in Southeast Asia, especially ASEAN, continue their support policy to encourage startups.

(2) young demographics and the fast technology adoption in Southeast Asia give rise to more innovative and disruptive ideas.

(3) global investors looking for a better return and will naturally focus on growing emerging market like Southeast Asia.

The trend towards gig economy will begin to have an impact in the region. In developed economies like the U.S, gig economy is expected to reach over 40 percent by 2020. The young population will look for more freelance opportunities as a way to increase income levels while still maintaining flexibility. This will include white-collar work like computer programming, accounting, customer service, etc. and also blue-collar work like delivery services, ride-sharing, home services, etc. We believe that the gig economy will grow to over 15 percent in Southeast Asia by 2019.

AI-heavy or -driven startups will begin to make inroads into Southeast Asia.


Victor Chua, Vynn Capital

The BIG convergence — there will more integration between industries and sectors. Traveloka went into car rental, Blibli went into travel business and these are only some examples. There is a lot of synergistic value between travel startups and food startups or between property startups and automotive startups. Imagine a future where you travel to a city where you stay in an apartment you rented through a marketplace (like Travelio, my portfolio company), and when you need to book a restaurant you can make the reservation through a platform that is integrated with the property manager, and when you need to move around you go down to the car park to drive a car you rent from an automotive marketplace. There is clear synergy between selective industries and this leads to an overall convergence between companies, between industries.

More channels to raise Series B/C, early-stage companies find fundraising more challenging — We have seen a number of VC funds raising or already raised growth funds, this means that there are now more channels for Series A or B companies to raise growth rounds. As the market matures, there will be more competition for investments amongst growth funds as there is considerably more growth in the number of growth funds than companies that are raising at growth-stage. On the flip side, the feel is that there is a consistent growth in the number of early-stage companies, yet the amount of capital in early-stage funds is not growing as much as more VCs prefer bigger and later stages, due to the maturity of their existing portfolio companies.

Newcomers gaining weight — there will be at least 10 companies that will hit a valuation of at least $100 million. These valuations will not be based on a single market exposure. Companies that raise larger rounds will need to show that they are regional.


Thanks to all the VCs who took part, I certainly felt like the class teacher collecting assignments.

Why Drinking Soda Is Bad for Your Health

Guzzling down one can of soda over another might be great for your taste buds but it can severely damage your health. Regardless, today’s youth is still obsessed with these sugary beverages. We’ve formed a habit of drinking a can almost every day to beat the heat or just because dinner is incomplete without it.

Not only does soda bring along zero nutritional benefits but the drink is filled with chemicals. The high content of caffeine and sugar in these beverages gives them an addictive quality. However, even if you feel you are hooked to the habit of overdosing on soda, it’s not like there is no redemption for you. You can kick the habit and reduce excess intake of these fizzy drinks.

If you are still not ready to ditch the habit, here are some great reasons why you should.

It raises the risk of getting overweight

Soda can make you fat.

These drinks contain sweetening agents that result in spiking glucose levels. Even diet soft drinks don’t cut down this risk. Their artificial sugar content just makes you feel increasingly aware of your sweet tooth.

Soda doesn’t keep your appetite suppressed for long. It ultimately leads to more cravings and exhaustion.

It can cause diabetes

Who wants to live the rest of his life avoiding delicious foods only because his health is at constant risk?

Diabetic patients are forced to live like this. Soda can take the risk of diabetes type 2 up in men by 26%. It can also cause metabolic syndrome to develop as well.

Did you know these soft drinks exceed the limit of sugar intake set by WHO?

It can cause heart disease and stroke

Soda can raise bad cholesterol levels, triglyceride markers, and also blood pressure. This all increases the chances of being inflicted by ailments of the heart. Since soft drinks can cause weight gain, this can alert the liver to produce even more cholesterol. A study found that a single serving of soda could take the risk of stroke up by 10%.

It puts your kidneys at risk

Excess intake of soda can harm kidney functionality. A study by Harvard Medical School carried out on more than 3000 women concluded that diet cola can snowball the risk of kidney decline by two times.

Soda can cause kidney stones and kidney-related diseases because it contains high amounts of phosphoric acid fructose corn syrup.

It makes you age before time

Sodas don’t only make you stack on additional pounds, but they can also cause premature aging. Research says that people who consumed sugar-based beverages had shorter telomeres. Shorter telomeres equate to slow cell regeneration which means faster aging. Soda intake is accompanied by several health risks which can also shorten one’s lifespan.

It can damage your bones

If you are an avid soda drinker, know that it can cause osteoporosis. The high phosphoric acid content in most colas forces the body to draw out alkalizing calcium compounds from bones.

This increases the risk of fractures as well. Drinking sodas a lot can also decrease bone density. Studies show that teenage girls who consumed acidic soda faced 3 to 5 times more fractures.

It can cause tooth decay

No one wants a druggie’s smile, yet no one is ready to sacrifice soda intake. Academy of General Dentistry says that regular soda consumption can lead to tooth erosion similar to that caused by illegal drugs. The acid in the drink harms the enamel and depletes minerals. It can lead your teeth to rot. Unfortunately, damaged teeth don’t heal as bones do.

Some healthy alternatives to soda

The adverse impacts of regular soda intake on your health are vast. With this in mind, you must reduce your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages that offer no nutritional value. You might be thinking what options you’ll be left with if you remove soda from your diet. There are actually plenty of options.

Switch to natural, homemade alternatives. Iced tea, sparkling water, fruit-infused water, coconut juice, plus homemade healthier sprite and sodas are some options you can explore. These are not chemical-filled and hold better nutrition for you. However, don’t forget to follow the moderation mantra.

Conclusion

At first, you may find it difficult to leave soda at once, but slowly and gradually, you’ll be able to get rid of the habit. However, it’s not necessary that you don’t drink a can ever in your life — just don’t be an addict to it. As Heather Mangieri, owner of a nutrition consulting business says, “If you’re drinking one soda on occasion … that doesn’t equate to it being necessarily unhealthy.”

Therefore, devouring soda once in a blue moon shouldn’t be a problem.

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​How Intermittent Fasting Helped Me Hit My Diet Goals

A few years ago, my body wasn’t what I wanted it to be. I wanted to lose quite a bit of weight. So, I tried monitoring my portions, counting calories, cutting out certain foods, and exercising like crazy. Unfortunately, nothing worked. I wasn’t getting any closer to attaining my weight loss goals. It was frustrating, to say the least.

Then, one day as I was pumping iron at the gym I overheard someone talking about intermittent fasting and the incredible gains that came with it. I was intrigued.

As soon as I got home, I did my research about this weight loss method. Then, I started to put it into practice.

Even I couldn’t believe the amazing results I got after intermittent fasting for just over a year. I’ve increased my muscle mass and decreased my body fat — all while eating less and spending less time at the gym.

What Exactly Is Intermittent Fasting?

Simply put, intermittent fasting involves eating within a specific window of time in the course of the day and not eating anything for the remaining hours. Instead of changing what you eat, you change when you eat so that you can get the most from your meals. I like to think of it as a pattern of eating, not a diet.

There are different intermittent fasting methods and you get to choose the one that suits your goals. Some people prefer alternate-day fasting while others find it better to have 24-hour fasts once or twice per week. There are people who find that a daily fasting window works for them. When choosing which method to go for, make sure that you understand your choices completely. Searching for a reliable intermittent fasting guide can help you.

I personally follow the 16:8 model of intermittent fasting, also known as the Leangains method. This involves having an 8-hour eating window followed by a 16-hour fasting period.

Most days, I simply skip breakfast and have lunch as my first meal of the day at around noon. Then, I eat one or two more meals during my eating window and stop eating at 8 p.m. After that, I fast until noon of the next day.

I admit that it took some getting used to but since my mornings are typically busy. I don’t find it hard to put off eating until noon.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

intermittent fasting benefits

Intermittent fasting comes with a number of benefits including:

Fast weight loss

Thanks to intermittent fasting, I was able to quickly achieve my weight loss goals. Since I was eating less, I was consuming fewer calories per day without having to count them or change my diet. Fasting for short periods of time increased fat burning levels in my body, resulting in significant weight loss. Best of all, I lost that stubborn belly fat in the process.

Losing body fat while holding on to lean muscle

Surprisingly, not only did intermittent fasting help me shed body fat but I was also able to increase my lean muscle mass. I did some research and discovered that this was largely due to the hormonal changes during fasting.

During the fasting hours, the levels of human growth hormone skyrocket, leading to muscle gain. Insulin decreases while norepinephrine increases. This means that the body finds it easier to burn fat when it enters a fasting state.

It’s easier to stick to than dieting

I have tried several dieting methods over the years with limited success. I found it difficult to adhere to them because they involved eating new foods or changing my eating habits.

With intermittent fasting, I don’t have to cut out my favorite foods, I simply have to change when I eat them. Additionally, while I still have to keep an eye on my portion sizes, I don’t have to get into any tedious calorie counting. The simplicity of this weight loss method made it easy for me to keep at it.

What To Look Out For

intermittent fasting tips

While intermittent fasting does have tremendous benefits, keep these things in mind if you want to lose weight:

Start slowly and be patient. If you’re new to fasting, consider starting with a moderate approach, such as overnight fasting before progressing to more intense fasting schedules. This gives your body time to adapt so you won’t be overwhelmed by the transition. Be patient as it takes time for the body to get used to going without food for long periods.

Be consistent. To help your body adapt, be consistent with fasting. Choose a schedule that works for you and stick with it until you attain the benefits.

Focus on the quality of the food you eat. While you don’t have to count calories, the quality of food you consume still matters. Include complex carbs and whole foods in your diet to keep you satiated for longer.

Ensure you don’t overeat. As you start out with intermittent fasting, you’re likely to experience increased hunger as your body isn’t used to going for long periods without food. This might tempt you to overeat to compensate. Giving in to this urge can undo all the good that you’ve gained from fasting.

Going without food for long stretches isn’t for everyone. However, if you’ve tried other methods to hit your weight goals without success, intermittent fasting might just do the trick.

See Also: Breaking the Fast: What I Have Learned Using Intermittent Fasting

The post ​How Intermittent Fasting Helped Me Hit My Diet Goals appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Aussies are baffled over something called ‘Australian battered potatoes’

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Thanks to the likes of Outback Steakhouse, Australians have grown used to Americans and their weird take on what their food is like.

While they’re happy to let the awfully calorific Bloomin’ Onion slide, the Aussies are less amused about something called Australian Battered Potatoes.

Spotted by Rachel Lonergan on Twitter, the concoction of deep fried spuds, topped with a very American combination of ranch and liquid, radioactive-looking cheese left people scratching their heads.

I don’t want to upset anybody but I just found out that you can buy potato scallops at county fairs in the US but they call them “Australian battered potatoes” and they put cheese and ranch dressing on thempic.twitter.com/EgLMxRTr2I

— Rachael Lonergan (@RachaelHasIdeas) September 25, 2018 Read more…

More about Australia, Food, Culture, Food, and Web Culture

Not hog dog? PixFood lets you shoot and identify food

What happens when you add AI to food? Surprisingly, you don’t get a hungry robot. Instead you get something like PixFood. PixFood lets you take pictures of food, identify available ingredients, and, at this stage, find out recipes you can make from your larder.

It is privately funded.

“There are tons of recipe apps out there, but all they give you is, well, recipes,” said Tonnesson. “On the other hand, PixFood has the ability to help users get the right recipe for them at that particular moment. There are apps that cover some of the mentioned, but it’s still an exhausting process – since you have to fill in a 50-question quiz so it can understand what you like.”

They launched in August and currently have 3,000 monthly active users from 10,000 downloads. They’re working on perfecting the system for their first users.

“PixFood is AI-driven food app with advanced photo recognition. The user experience is quite simple: it all starts with users taking a photo of any ingredient they would like to cook with, in the kitchen or in the supermarket,” said Tonnesson. “Why did we do it like this? Because it’s personalized. After you take a photo, the app instantly sends you tailored recipe suggestions! At first, they are more or le

ss the same for everyone, but as you continue using it, it starts to learn what you precisely like, by connecting patterns and taking into consideration different behaviors.”

In my rudimentary tests the AI worked acceptably well and did not encourage me to eat a monkey. While the app begs the obvious question – why not just type in “corn?” – it’s an interesting use of vision technology that is definitely a step in the right direction.

 

Tonnesson expects the AI to start connecting you with other players in the food space, allowing you to order corn (but not a monkey) from a number of providers.

“Users should also expect partnerships with restaurants, grocery, meal-kit, and other food delivery services will be part of the future experiences,” he said.

ezCater acquires GoCater to expand beyond the US

Catering marketplace company ezCater is already putting its big $100 million funding round to good use. The company is acquiring GoCater, a European marketplace that operates in the same field. This is ezCater’s first international expansion move.

If you’re in charge of ordering catered lunch at your office, you probably have heard about ezCater . The company lets you order breakfast, lunch or dinner for 10, 30 or maybe 100 people at once. This service could be particularly useful to impress a client, throw an office party, get lunch together during an off-site and more.

But ezCater doesn’t cook anything itself. The company is a marketplace and connects you with catering companies and big restaurants around you. In other words, ezCater lets you browse the menu of dozens of restaurants around you from the same website and place an order without picking up the phone.

Of course, ezCater didn’t invent catering. But catering is a fragmented industry with a lot of friction. It’s hard to know how much you’re going to pay in advance, it takes a lot of effort to find a new restaurant outside of your usual list. And restaurants could use a new way to promote their offering. Those are the perfect ingredients to create an online marketplace.

You may already know all the options around your office, but ordering through ezCater provides additional benefits. For instance, all your receipts are centralized in the same interface, which lets you get a clear overview of your spendings on catering.

You can also let other people order food for their clients and events. ezCater lets you set maximum amounts, tipping policies and more.

GoCater offers more or less the same thing, but in France and Germany. The company started as a spinoff from French startup La Belle Assiette. GoCater lets you create a whitelist of catering options. You can also set up an approval system so that the intern doesn’t order ice creams for everyone. Finally, GoCater clients only get billed once per month, even if companies order multiple times.

You pay the same price if you order through GoCater or the catering company directly. Catering companies end up paying a cut on GoCater orders. But the startup takes care of billing, accounting and accounts receivable. This way, you can focus on your core business instead of chasing money from past clients.

ezCater is an order of magnitude bigger than GoCater. ezCater works with 60,000 restaurants, while GoCater only has a few hundred restaurants on its platform. It’s worth noting that ezCater has been around for much longer.

But GoCater has one big advantage over ezCater — they have a team on the ground in Europe, ready to attract new restaurants and corporate clients. It’s clear that ezCater was looking for a way to get started in Europe, and GoCater seems like the right fit.

For now, the company will keep both brands after the acquisition. The teams will slowly merge the platforms into a single product.

“The entire GoCater team is staying, and we’re now going to rapidly expand the European team of the company — both the sales team for Europe and the tech and product team for the group,” GoCater founder and CEO Stephen Leguillon told me.

Munchery shuts down operations in LA, New York and Seattle

Munchery, the on-demand food delivery startup, has shut down its operations in Los Angeles, New York and Seattle, the company announced on its blog today. That means the teams from those cities are also being let go. In total, 257 people (about 30 percent of workforce) were let go, according to a Munchery spokesperson.

“We recognize the impact this will have on the members of our team in those regions,” Munchery CEO James Beriker wrote on the company blog. “Our teams in each city have built their businesses from scratch and worked tirelessly to serve our customers and their communities. I am grateful for their unwavering commitment to Munchery’s mission and success. I truly wish that the outcome would have been different.”

With LA, New York and Seattle off the table, Munchery says it’s going to focus more on its business in San Francisco, its first and largest market. This shift in operations will also enable Munchery to “achieve profitability on the near term, and build a long-term, sustainable business.”

The last couple of years for Munchery has not gone very well, between scathing reports of the company wasting an average of 16 percent of the food it makes, laying off 30 employees and burning through most of the money it raised.

During that time, Munchery tried a number of different strategies. Munchery, which began as a ready-to-heat meal delivery service, in 2015 started delivering meal recipes and ingredients for people who want to cook. Then, Munchery launched an $8.95 a month subscription plan for people who order several times a month. In late 2016, Munchery opened up a shop inside a San Francisco BART station to try to bring in new business.

But it’s not just Munchery that has struggled. The on-demand food delivery business is tough in general. Over the last couple of years, a number of companies have shuttered due to the now well-known fact that the on-demand business is tough when it comes to margins. The most recent casualty was Sprig, which shut down last May, after raising $56.7 million in funding. Other casualties include Maple, Spoonrocket and India’s Ola.

Munchery has raised more than $120 million in capital from Menlo Ventures, Sherpa Capital and others. In March, the company was reportedly seeking $15 million in funding to help keep its head above water.

How did Thumbtack win the on-demand services market?

Earlier today, the services marketplace Thumbtack held a small conference for 300 of its best gig economy workers at an event space in San Francisco.

For the nearly ten-year-old company the event was designed to introduce some new features and a redesign of its brand that had softly launched earlier in the week. On hand, in addition to the services professionals who’d paid their way from locations across the U.S. were the company’s top executives.

It’s the latest step in the long journey that Thumbtack took to become one of the last companies standing with a consumer facing marketplace for services.

Back in 2008, as the global financial crisis was only just beginning to tear at the fabric of the U.S. economy, entrepreneurs at companies like Thumbtack andTaskRabbit were already hard at work on potential patches.

This was the beginning of what’s now known as the gig economy. In addition to Thumbtack and TaskRabbit, young companies like Handy, Zaarly, and several others — all began by trying to build better marketplaces for buyers and sellers of services. Their timing, it turns out, was prescient.

In snowy Boston during the winter of 2008, Kevin Busque and his wife Leah were building RunMyErrand, the marketplace service that would become TaskRabbit, as a way to avoid schlepping through snow to pick up dog food .

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Marco Zappacosta, a young entrepreneur whose parents were the founders of Logitech, and a crew of co-founders including were building Thumbtack, a professional services marketplace from a home office they shared.

As these entrepreneurs built their businesses in northern California (amid the early years of a technology renaissance fostered by patrons made rich from returns on investments in companies like Google and Salesforce.com), the rest of America was stumbling.

In the two years between 2008 and 2010 the unemployment rate in America doubled, rising from 5% to 10%. Professional services workers were hit especially hard as banks, insurance companies, realtors, contractors, developers and retailers all retrenched — laying off staff as the economy collapsed under the weight of terrible loans and a speculative real estate market.

Things weren’t easy for Thumbtack’s founders at the outset in the days before its $1.3 billion valuation and last hundred plus million dollar round of funding. “One of the things that really struck us about the team, was just how lean they were. At the time they were operating out of a house, they were still cooking meals together,” said Cyan Banister, one of the company’s earliest investors and a partner at the multi-billion dollar venture firm, Founders Fund.

“The only thing they really ever spent money on, was food… It was one of these things where they weren’t extravagant, they were extremely purposeful about every dollar that they spent,” Banister said. “They basically slept at work, and were your typical startup story of being under the couch. Every time I met with them, the story was, in the very early stages was about the same for the first couple years, which was, we’re scraping Craigslist, we’re starting to get some traction.”

The idea of powering a Craigslist replacement with more of a marketplace model was something that appealed to Thumbtack’s earliest investor and champion, the serial entrepreneur and angel investor Jason Calcanis.

Thumbtack chief executive Marco Zappacosta

“I remember like it was yesterday when Marco showed me Thumbtack and I looked at this and I said, ‘So, why are you building this?’ And he said, ‘Well, if you go on Craigslist, you know, it’s like a crap shoot. You post, you don’t know. You read a post… you know… you don’t know how good the person is. There’re no reviews.’” Calcanis said. “He had made a directory. It wasn’t the current workflow you see in the app — that came in year three I think. But for the first three years, he built a directory. And he showed me the directory pages where he had a photo of the person, the services provided, the bio.”

The first three years were spent developing a list of vendors that the company had verified with a mailing address, a license, and a certificate of insurance for people who needed some kind of service. Those three features were all Calcanis needed to validate the deal and pull the trigger on an initial investment.

“That’s when I figured out my personal thesis of angel investing,” Calcanis said.

“Some people are market based; some people want to invest in certain demographics or psychographics; immigrant kids or Stanford kids, whatever. Mine is just, ‘Can you make a really interesting product and are your decisions about that product considered?’ And when we discuss those decisions, do I feel like you’re the person who should build this product for the world And it’s just like there’s a big sign above Marco’s head that just says ‘Winner! Winner! Winner!’”

Indeed, it looks like Zappacosta and his company are now running what may be their victory lap in their tenth year as a private company. Thumbtack will be profitable by 2019 and has rolled out a host of new products in the last six months.

Their thesis, which flew in the face of the conventional wisdom of the day, was to build a product which offered listings of any service a potential customer could want in any geography across the U.S. Other companies like Handy and TaskRabbit focused on the home, but on Thumbtack (like any good community message board) users could see postings for anything from repairman to reiki lessons and magicians to musicians alongside the home repair services that now make up the bulk of its listings.

“It’s funny, we had business plans and documents that we wrote and if you look back, the vision that we outlined then, is very similar to the vision we have today. We honestly looked around and we said, ‘We want to solve a problem that impacts a huge number of people. The local services base is super inefficient. It’s really difficult for customers to find trustworthy, reliable people who are available for the right price,’” said Sander Daniels, a co-founder at the company. 

“For pros, their number one concern is, ‘Where do I put money in my pocket next? How do I put food on the table for my family next?’ We said, ‘There is a real human problem here. If we can connect these people to technology and then, look around, there are these global marketplace for products: Amazon, Ebay, Alibaba, why can’t there be a global marketplace for services?’ It sounded crazy to say it at the time and it still sounds crazy to say, but that is what the dream was.”

Daniels acknowledges that the company changed the direction of its product, the ways it makes money, and pivoted to address issues as they arose, but the vision remained constant. 

Meanwhile, other startups in the market have shifted their focus. Indeed as Handy has shifted to more of a professional services model rather than working directly with consumers and TaskRabbit has been acquired by Ikea, Thumbtack has doubled down on its independence and upgrading its marketplace with automation tools to make matching service providers with customers that much easier.

Late last year the company launched an automated tool serving up job requests to its customers — the service providers that pay the company a fee for leads generated by people searching for services on the company’s app or website.

Thumbtack processes about $1 billion a year in business for its service providers in roughly 1,000 professional categories.

Now, the matching feature is getting an upgrade on the consumer side. Earlier this month the company unveiled Instant Results — a new look for its website and mobile app — that uses all of the data from its 200,000 services professionals to match with the 30 professionals that best correspond to a request for services. It’s among the highest number of professionals listed on any site, according to Zappacosta. The next largest competitor, Yelp, has around 115,000 listings a year. Thumbtack’s professionals are active in a 90 day period.

Filtering by price, location, tools and schedule, anyone in the U.S. can find a service professional for their needs. It’s the culmination of work processing nine years and 25 million requests for services from all of its different categories of jobs.

It’s a long way from the first version of Thumbtack, which had a “buy” tab and a “sell” tab; with the “buy” side to hire local services and the “sell” to offer them.

“From the very early days… the design was to iterate beyond the traditional model of business listing directors. In that, for the consumer to tell us what they were looking for and we would, then, find the right people to connect them to,” said Daniels. “That functionality, the request for quote functionality, was built in from v.1 of the product. If you tried to use it then, it wouldn’t work. There were no businesses on the platform to connect you with. I’m sure there were a million bugs, the UI and UX were a disaster, of course. That was the original version, what I remember of it at least.”

It may have been a disaster, but it was compelling enough to get the company its $1.2 million angel round — enough to barely develop the product. That million dollar investment had to last the company through the nuclear winter of America’s recession years, when venture capital — along with every other investment class — pulled back.

“We were pounding the pavement trying to find somebody to give us money for a Series A round,” Daniels said. “That was a very hard period of the company’s life when we almost went out of business, because nobody would give us money.”

That was a pre-revenue period for the company, which experimented with four revenue streams before settling on the one that worked the best. In the beginning the service was free, and it slowly transitioned to a commission model. Then, eventually, the company moved to a subscription model where service providers would pay the company a certain amount for leads generated off of Thumbtack.

“We weren’t able to close the loop,” Daniels said. “To make commissions work, you have to know who does the job, when, for how much. There are a few possible ways to collect all that information, but the best one, I think, is probably by hosting payments through your platform. We actually built payments into the platform in 2011 or 2012. We had significant transaction volume going through it, but we then decided to rip it out 18 months later, 24 months later, because, I think we had kind of abandoned the hope of making commissions work at that time.”

While Thumbtack was struggling to make its bones, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest were raking in cash. The founders thought that they could also access markets in the same way, but investors weren’t interested in a consumer facing business that required transactions — not advertising — to work. User generated content and social media were the rage, but aside from Uber and Lyft the jury was still out on the marketplace model.

“For our company that was not a Facebook or a Twitter or Pinterest, at that time, at least, that we needed revenue to show that we’re going to be able to monetize this,” Daniels said. “We had figured out a way to sign up pros at enormous scale and consumers were coming online, too. That was showing real promise. We said, ‘Man, we’re a hot ticket, we’re going to be able to raise real money.’ Then, for many reasons, our inexperience, our lack of revenue model, probably a bunch of stuff, people were reluctant to give us money.”

The company didn’t focus on revenue models until the fall of 2011, according to Daniels. Then after receiving rejection after rejection the company’s founders began to worry. “We’re like, ‘Oh, shit.’ November of 2009 we start running these tests, to start making money, because we might not be able to raise money here. We need to figure out how to raise cash to pay the bills, soon,” Daniels recalled. 

The experience of almost running into the wall put the fear of god into the company. They managed to scrape out an investment from Javelin, but the founders were convinced that they needed to find the right revenue number to make the business work with or without a capital infusion. After a bunch of deliberations, they finally settled on $350,000 as the magic number to remain a going concern.

“That was the metric that we were shooting towards,” said Daniels. “It was during that period that we iterated aggressively through these revenue models, and, ultimately, landed on a paper quote. At the end of that period then Sequoia invested, and suddenly, pros supply and consumer demand and revenue model all came together and like, ‘Oh shit.’”

Finding the right business model was one thing that saved the company from withering on the vine, but another choice was the one that seemed the least logical — the idea that the company should focus on more than just home repairs and services.

The company’s home category had lots of competition with companies who had mastered the art of listing for services on Google and getting results. According to Daniels, the company couldn’t compete at all in the home categories initially.

“It turned out, randomly … we had no idea about this … there was not a similarly well developed or mature events industry,” Daniels said. “We outperformed in events. It was this strategic decision, too, that, on all these 1,000 categories, but it was random, that over the last five years we are the, if not the, certainly one of the leading events service providers in the country. It just happened to be that we … I don’t want to say stumbled into it … but we found these pockets that were less competitive and we could compete in and build a business on.”

The focus on geographical and services breadth — rather than looking at building a business in a single category or in a single geography meant that Zappacosta and company took longer to get their legs under them, but that they had a much wider stance and a much bigger base to tap as they began to grow.

“Because of naivete and this dreamy ambition that we’re going to do it all. It was really nothing more strategic or complicated than that,” said Daniels. “When we chose to go broad, we were wandering the wilderness. We had never done anything like this before.”

From the company’s perspective, there were two things that the outside world (and potential investors) didn’t grasp about its approach. The first was that a perfect product may have been more competitive in a single category, but a good enough product was better than the terrible user experiences that were then on the market. “You can build a big company on this good enough product, which you can then refine over the course of time to be greater and greater,” said Daniels.

The second misunderstanding is that the breadth of the company let it scale the product that being in one category would have never allowed Thumbtack to do. Cross selling and upselling from carpet cleaners to moving services to house cleaners to bounce house rentals for parties — allowed for more repeat use.

More repeat use meant more jobs for services employees at a time when unemployment was still running historically high. Even in 2011, unemployment remained stubbornly high. It wasn’t until 2013 that the jobless numbers began their steady decline.

There’s a question about whether these gig economy jobs can keep up with the changing times. Now, as unemployment has returned to its pre-recession levels, will people want to continue working in roles that don’t offer health insurance or retirement benefits? The answer seems to be “yes” as the Thumbtack platform continues to grow and Uber and Lyft show no signs of slowing down.

“At the time, and it still remains one of my biggest passions, I was interested in how software could create new meaningful ways of working,” said Banister of the Thumbtack deal. “That’s the criteria I was looking for, which is, does this shift how people find work? Because I do believe that we can create jobs and we can create new types of jobs that never existed before with the platforms that we have today.”

Are You Ready For The New Rosé?

Are you ready for the rosé revival?

Once associated with sticky sweetness, today’s rosé ranges from dry to sweet and everything in between. You can get it with bubbles, without bubbles, and from just about every major wine-producing region of the world.

Since summer is a prime rosé season, it’s time to brush up on your knowledge. Here’s a quick rose wine guide to help you get the best wine experience.

Why Is Rosé Making A Comeback?

Once seen as the syrupy-sweet option for the unrefined palate, rosé is now popular among wine connoisseurs who want to enjoy the full spectrum of what this varietal has to offer.

Currently, rosé accounts for only 1.5% of wine produced. It’s rapidly growing in popularity, accounting for 1 out of every 36 bottles of wine sold in the United States.

Between 2016 and 2017, sales grew by 53%. This variety is now worth $207 million a year. What’s more, sparkling rosé is growing twice as fast as the rest of the sparkling wine category.

There are a few factors that have contributed to the recent rise in rosé’s popularity.

The Provence Wine Council began to promote rosé on promotional tours. Magazine articles started touting rosé as the next big drink and popular rappers and musicians started showing steady support.

Who Drinks Rosé?

rose wine drinker

Millennial women are the biggest slice of the rosé consumer pie, clocking in 40% of all sales. Men are showing intense love for this wine variety as well.

A quarter of all imported rosé is consumed in New York City while 15% is consumed in Miami. Almost a third of the wine consumed in France is rosé.

How And Where Is Rosé Made?

Rosé originated in Provence, France before the times of the Roman Empire around 125 B.C.E. With that, the city is the rosé capital of the world.

34% of the world’s rosé originates in France. Spain comes in second, making 19% of the world’s rosé and the United States comes in third, making 15%.

The process for making rosé is similar to how other varieties are made. The three most common ways to make it include:

  • The Maceration Method – The skin of red grapes macerates in the juice before fermentation. The longer they stay in there, the darker the rosé will be. This is the most common method.
  • The Saignée Method – About 10% of the juice is bled off after fermentation in order to make it darker. This is not as common.
  • The Blending Method – This method is mostly used to make sparkling wines. A combination of red and white wines are mingled together in a vat to get just the right color.

What Are The Available Flavor Profiles?

There are more flavor profiles for rosé than you might imagine.

The classic traditional Provence style of rosé is dry, light in color, and tends to be more floral and herbal. Rosé made with pinot noir grapes is slightly darker, dry, and have earthy notes.

White Merlot and white zinfandel-based rosé wines are on the sweeter side and tend to have more fruity flavors. Tavel style is dry, dark, and strong and tastes and looks the most like red wine.

Are You Ready For Rosé?

More than half of American adults say that a nice rosé wine is more refreshing than a popsicle in the summer but you can enjoy it all throughout the year.

In fact, many people enjoy a nice glass of rosé when they are just sitting, reading or watching television. It also makes a great compliment to your food. It goes great with seafood and chicken dishes while sweet rosé is great with spicy foods.

Learn more about rosé from this infographic!

The post Are You Ready For The New Rosé? appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Don’t just stir; Stircle

Although I do my best to minimize the trash produced by my lifestyle (blog posts notwithstanding), one I can’t really control, at least without carrying a spoon on my person at all times, is the necessity of using a disposable stick to stir my coffee. That could all change with the Stircle, a little platform that spins your drink around to mix it.

Now, of course this is ridiculous. And there are other things to worry about. But honestly, the scale of waste here is pretty amazing. Design house Amron Experimental says that 400 million stir sticks are used every day, and I have no reason to doubt that. My native Seattle probably accounts for a quarter of that.

So you need to get the sugar (or agave nectar) and cream (or almond milk) mixed in your iced americano. Instead of reaching for a stick and stirring vigorously for 10 or 15 seconds, you could instead place your cup in the Stircle (first noticed by New Atlas and a few other design blogs), which would presumably be built into the fixins table at your coffee shop.

Around and around and around she goes, where she stops, nobody… oh. There.

Once you put your cup on the Stircle, it starts spinning — first one way, then the other, and so on, agitating your drink and achieving the goal of an evenly mixed beverage without using a wood or plastic stirrer. It’s electric, but I can imagine one being powered by a lever or button that compresses a spring. That would make it even greener.

The video shows that it probably gets that sugar and other low-lying mixers up into the upper strata of the drink, so I think we’re set there. And it looks as though it will take a lot of different sizes, including reusable tumblers. It clearly needs a cup with a lid, since otherwise the circling liquid will fly out in every direction, which means you have to be taking your coffee to go. That leaves out pretty much every time I go out for coffee in my neighborhood, where it’s served (to stay) in a mug or tall glass.

But a solution doesn’t have to fix everything to be clever or useful. This would be great at an airport, for instance, where I imagine every order is to go. Maybe they’ll put it in a bar, too, for extra smooth stirring of martinis.

Actually, I know that people in labs use automatic magnetic stirrers to do their coffee. This would be a way to do that without appropriating lab property. Those things are pretty cool too, though.

You might remember Amron from one of their many previous clever designs; I happen to remember the Keybrid and Split Ring Key, both of which I used for a while. I’ll be honest, I don’t expect to see a Stircle in my neighborhood cafe any time soon, but I sure hope they show up in Starbucks stores around the world. We’re going to run out of those stirrer things sooner or later.

6 Keto Diet Myths You Shouldn’t Be Suckered Into

You’ve probably heard of the Ketogenic diet but you’re too scared to give it a try with all the bad things you heard about it. It’s controversial, scary, and way too confusing for beginners to understand.

But are the rumors true?

To set the records straight and to ensure that you’re fully informed before you give it a try, here are the most popular Keto diet myths finally debunked.

Myth #1: It puts you at risk of heart diseases

heart disease

Eating a high fat Keto diet can be scary for some people. After all, too much fat is harmful to the heart, right?

Well, no.

The truth is that eating a high fat Keto diet can actually reduce your risk of heart diseases.

How?

When you eat fewer carbohydrates and your intake of saturated fat is increased, the metabolic markers for heart disease risks improve.

Your blood glucose levels will drop which can reduce glycation and its negative effects on the body. Your triglycerides, insulin levels, and lipoprotein get reduced while your HDL cholesterol levels improve.

And you know what else?

A high fat Ketogenic diet can also provide your body with more vitamin D, selenium, copper, and magnesium which are all great for the heart.

See Also: 10 Habits That Can Prevent Heart Disease

Myth #2: You can eat all types of fat

While eating a high fat ketogenic diet won’t be that bad for the body, it doesn’t mean that you can eat any type of fat.

If you’re thinking of loading your diet with ham, sausages, and loads of fried foods, then you’re totally on the wrong track.

If you want to get the most out of this diet, consider replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats. Think of oily fish, flaxseed, and walnuts.

You can also incorporate more extra virgin olive oil and fatty fish into your diet. Nuts are great, too.

Myth #3: You won’t have a hard time adjusting to Keto

Transitioning into ketosis can cause some uncomfortable experiences. You may have to deal with digestive issues, sleep-related problems, and fatigue during the first few weeks of changing your diet and lifestyle.

Also known as the Keto flu, those side effects are common and will typically go away after a few weeks. You can make them less uncomfortable by drinking more water and eating more foods rich in fibers and electrolytes.

This, however, shouldn’t scare you. Although Keto-flu is normal, it doesn’t mean that every person who goes on a Keto diet will have the same problems. There are people who experience way less issues during their transition.

Myth #4: It causes extreme dehydration

A ketogenic diet doesn’t have to cause dehydration if you know what to do.

Consuming less carbohydrates than usual can affect the way your body deals with water and electrolytes. This can make it easier for dehydration and electrolyte imbalance to happen.

Imagine this:

When you go on a keto diet and you cut back on your carbs, your body is forced to produce less insulin than usual. This means your glycogen stores will decrease.

As that happens, your kidneys start excreting more water. And as your body flushes out water, you lose essential electrolytes and minerals, too.

As your body loses a great amount of electrolytes, your heartbeat will become irregular, your energy becomes low, and your body temperature control becomes less effective.

So, how do you prevent those things?

Drink more water and consume a lot of teas, broths, and soups. Eat foods rich in sodium, magnesium, and potassium, too. They can help replenish your body’s lost electrolytes.

See Also: Top 5 Tips On How To Stay Hydrated

Myth #5: It’s good for your mental health

Keto diet requires a lot of discipline and commitment. Naturally, you’d think that it’s great for boosting your mental health.

The truth, however, is that Keto diet can affect the brain negatively during the new fat-burning stage. You’ll be more irritable and less focused than usual.

This is because your body and brain are starting to look for glucose which is its main source of energy. Your brain needs about 100g of carbohydrates a day to ensure your brain’s optimum function. In comparison, you can only get about 50 grams of it when you’re in Keto.

Take note that those effects are only temporary. They will pass and go away on their own but it can take weeks or months to happen.

The other side of the coin is that a lot of keto dieters rave about their newfound focus and clarity. They attribute this to the decrease of carbohydrates that the body processes.

Myth #6: Keto won’t let you exercise

walking exercise

When you’re on a Keto diet, it’s normal for your body to feel less energized during your exercise. This is because you get less carbohydrates which, like your brain, your body needs as fuel for such activities.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t exercise.

You can continue your workout routine even if you changed your diet. You just need to make sure that you’re giving your body enough calories and a lot of fat to support your routine. Don’t forget to provide ample time for recovery in between routines, too.

If you’re still having issues with being active, try a modified Ketogenic diet. It’s more flexible than going complete Keto.

You can also try taking supplements but be sure that they’re safe. Do your homework first and really get to know your options. Remember, not all Keto supplements are the same.

Try to find and study guides online, like this KetoDrive review. Use them in deciding which ones will safely meet your needs.

In Conclusion

Keto diet is effective whether you’re trying to lose weight or you just want to lower your bad cholesterol and risk of heart diseases. However, although effective, it doesn’t mean that it’ll work for you right away.

Changing your diet can affect your overall health. This means experiencing a few unwanted side effects, like less energy and mental clarity, as your body gets used to the changes.

Take note that those side effects don’t mean that Ketogenic diet is bad or that it’s not working for you. Your body just needs time to adapt your new diet. Give it a few weeks or months and your body should be able to see why many people are talking about the benefits of the keto diet.

Remember that the bottom line is always your health. You don’t need to follow or stick to a diet for the sake of being on one. Always listen to your body, make a lifestyle change of what works best for you, and don’t be afraid to make adjustments as needed.

The post 6 Keto Diet Myths You Shouldn’t Be Suckered Into appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Coca-Cola is releasing a boozy version for the first time ever

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Mixing booze with Coke is not a new thing.

But now, Coca-Cola’s Japanese arm has seemingly caught on to that fact, with the news it’ll look to release an alcoholic drink for the first time in history.

It’ll be what’s called a Chu-Hi in Japan: A canned, ready-to-drink alcoholic beverage that’s traditionally made with the spirit shōchū, carbonated water, and lemon.

You can get Chu-Hi in flavours like lime, grapefruit, among others, and can get as strong as 9 percent alcohol. While Coca-Cola haven’t released any detail about the product, it appears they won’t be dropping anything too heavyweight. Read more…

More about Food, Japan, Drinks, Coca Cola, and Coca Cola Company

5 Flavored Popcorn Recipes You Need to Try Now

One can’t simply watch a movie without a huge bowl of buttered or salted popcorn in his lap and a cold drink in his hand. But who says popcorn only has to be salted or buttered?

In this article, we’ll introduce you to 5 innovative ways of spicing up popcorn. All of the recipes are super easy to make and preparation time can only take around 15 minutes. Plus, the ingredients you’ll need are only minimal. Seriously, you won’t burn holes in your wallet with these treats.

So, if you’re too curious to know, here are our must-try flavored popcorn recipes.

Popcorn with Herbs and Garlic

popcorn with herbs and garlic
Via thedomesticgeek

Garlic and herbs go together perfectly and complement each other’s tastes. This recipe has good chances of becoming your favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tbsp of sage
  • 1 tbsp of thyme
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp of rosemary
  • Popcorn kernels

Instructions:

  1. Mince or grate the 4 cloves of garlic and then melt your butter.
  2. Add the herbs and cook everything for 60 seconds. Make sure the stove’s not set on max because the mixture will be burned and that will surely taste awful.
  3. Put your popcorn in a bowl and pour the garlic and herbs over it.
  4. Add a few pinches of salt to enhance the flavor.

Cheese-popcorn with Parmesan, Cheddar, and Colby

This is for all the dairy lovers out there. In less than 5 minutes, you can get some popcorn that will blow your socks off. You are free to use any kind of cheese you like.

We’re doing it with parmesan, cheddar, and Colby. Some people use mozzarella, but we prefer not to because it doesn’t melt properly.

Ingredients:

  • Popcorn kernels
  • 1 full cup of parmesan
  • Half a cup of Colby cheese
  • 2 full cups of cheddar
  • 1 baking sheet
  • Salt

Instructions:

  1. Grate and shred your cheeses.
  2. Spread the popcorn on the baking sheet and heat the oven at 3000 F.
  3. Put the shredded cheeses on the popcorn and insert the tray in the oven. It should be ready in about 4 minutes. Stay by the oven and look inside.
  4. If the cheeses have melted properly, take the popcorn out and add as much salt as you like.

Popcorn with Curry and Turmeric

Curry and turmeric are among the healthiest condiments in the world because of their potent anti-inflammatory properties. Now, you can enjoy their health benefits by adding them to your popcorn.

Keep in mind that these spices are extremely powerful, so you certainly don’t want to use them in large quantities.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • ½ tbsp of curry
  • ½ tbsp of turmeric
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar
  • Popcorn kernels

Instructions:

  1. Set the stove on low heat and melt the butter-stick in the pan.
  2. Add the other ingredients. You might be taken aback by the sugar – it’s actually important because it will mellow out the taste of the curry and turmeric.
  3. Cook the mixture for approximately 1 minute and a half (maximum of 2 minutes).
  4. Add the salt and spread the dressing on your popcorn.

Cocoa Popcorn

cocoa popcorn
Via POPSUGAR Australia

This will take a little longer to make than the other three recipes, but it’s certainly worth the wait. You will also need more ingredients than usual.

Ingredients:

  • Half a cup of butter
  • 1 tbsp of vanilla or half a spoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup of cocoa
  • 1/3 cup of sugar (your choice)
  • Popcorn kernels

Instructions:

  1. Set the stove on low heat and melt the butter in the pan.
  2. Add the vanilla, cocoa, and sugar.
  3. Stir and let the mixture boil for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the mixture over the popcorn and stir so that the popcorn gets coated evenly.
  5. Set your oven at 2500 degrees, put the popcorn on a baking sheet and bake it for half an hour. The cocoa coating will become crisp and won’t fall off the popcorn.

Popcorn with Cinnamon and Bananas

This is such a delicious recipe that you’ll never go back to traditional popcorn.

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh banana or 1 cup of dried banana
  • 2 tbsp of cinnamon powder
  • 3 to 4 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of sugar,
  • Some mint and chocolate chips (optional)
  • Popcorn kernels

Instructions:

  1. Melt the butter in the pan on low heat so you don’t vaporize it.
  2. Mince and then crush the banana with a spoon and add it to the butter.
  3. Add your cinnamon powder and let the mixture boil for 1 minute. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.
  4. Lastly, add the sugar and pour everything on top of your popcorn.
  5. You can add some chocolate chips or a few drops of mint oil.

Conclusion

These 5 flavored popcorn recipes are just some of the awesome ways to make your snack taste a lot better. There are surely a lot more recipes you can try if you just search around. In fact, you can even experiment and create your own!

The more you experiment, the more enjoyable your popcorn will be. Just make sure to watch your pot closely since popcorn kernels can burn pretty quickly.

The post 5 Flavored Popcorn Recipes You Need to Try Now appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Need A Productivity Boost? Here’s How Tea Can Help

Tea is a popular drink all over the world for a lot of reasons.

For one, it tastes good and it’s a good way to help you get more fluids. Plus, it’s available in several varieties.

Apart from that, tea also comes with health benefits. It can even help you in boosting productivity and mental wellness.

Now, if you are thinking of drinking tea for an energy boost, here’s what you need to know.

It Contains Some Caffeine- But Not Too Much

Tea contains a little amount of caffeine, but it won’t make you jittery or wreak havoc on your nervous system like coffee. It can boost your energy so you can stay alert and ready to take on your day, without the side effects associated with too much caffeine.

It’s even said that tea has more health benefits than coffee, but we’ll let you make your own decisions about that one.

See Also: 5 Exciting Health Benefits of Tea

It Increases Brain Performance

A study found that a half hour after drinking black or green tea, brain activity starts to increase. The stimulated areas of the brain all contribute to improved cognitive function, alertness, memory, and logical reasoning.

All of those things are helpful if you want to be more productive at work or if you need to get a project done at home. And the best part?

As tea increases your productivity, it also provides a relaxing effect.

It Helps You Relax

tea relaxation

Too much stress is never a good thing. It hinders productivity by affecting how well you’re able to focus on both remembering things you know and processing new information.

Less stress means better productivity and more work done.

Tea can give your mind a little break, even when it’s increasing your brain’s  activity. It helps with relaxation and mental clarity as well as increased learning and attention.

Tea gives you more dopamine, which means you’re going to feel great. It will make you feel excited and ready to get things done. No one is super productive if they’re really bummed out, right?

It Counteracts Effects of Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress isn’t good for your body. It prevents your tissues and cells from functioning properly and that can cause serious health issues.

One of the best teas that can help you with that is green tea. It helps combat free radicals with its antioxidant properties.

It Helps with Both Physical and Mental Health

Studies have shown that tea is associated with a lower risk of depression.

Those who suffer from depression know how hard it can be just to get out of bed on those bad mornings, let alone be efficient and productive. While tea isn’t a total cure, it can be a helpful tool to manage the symptoms of depression.

It’s also been found to help with headaches, nausea, and other digestive problems. All of these things can hinder productivity and distract you from getting things done.

Again, it may not be an absolute cure for what ails you, but it can definitely help alleviate some of your symptoms so you can focus on what needs to be done.

See Also: 4 Best Teas To Help You Lose Weight

Tea Breaks Are Good for You

tea breaks

You need regular breaks to avoid burning yourself out and to keep your productivity at optimal levels. Taking a break to get your mind off of things can help your mind relax a bit.

Tea is a huge help for both productivity and your overall mental health. Make it a point to find a tea that works for you and incorporate it into your daily routine!

The post Need A Productivity Boost? Here’s How Tea Can Help appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Why You Should Include Nuts In Your Weight Loss Regimen

Nuts are healthy as they are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. However, a majority of people on a weight loss regimen avoid including them in their diet because they fear their fats and calories.

That is a mere misconception. In reality, nuts can help you lose weight.

How?

We’ll share with you the best nuts for weight loss but first, let’s unravel the truth first.

Studies on How Nuts Aid in Weight Loss

Nuts are rich in calories. A large part of them contains fat which is a concentrated source of energy. 1 gram of fat has up to 9 calories while a gram of protein contains only 4 calories.

This high concentration of fats and calories makes many people on a weight loss diet assume that adding nuts can make them gain weight. To bust this idea, a lot of studies have been conducted over the years.

One particular study involving 8865 men and women over a 28-month period found that those who ate two or more portions of nuts every week increased their chances of losing weight by 31% compared to the placebo group. Another review involving 36 studies reported that taking nuts is not associated with increased body weight, waist size or BMI.

In a controlled study, where the participants adhered to a strict diet, the inclusion of different types of nuts to their diet did not lead to changes in body weight. More importantly, where the nuts were included in a diet of people on an unrestricted diet, nut consumption did not cause weight gain.

A study involving 65 obese patients compared a low-calorie diet which has complex carbs to a low-calorie diet enhanced with nuts. They took equal amounts of cholesterol, calories, protein, and saturated fats.

After a 24-week period, the people on the almond diet had reduced weight by 62%, fat mass by 56% and waist circumference by 50%. The groups also experienced improved cholesterol, including reduced LDL and triglycerides. The other group did not encounter such benefits.

How Nuts Aid in Weight Loss

Nuts have a complex structure, which means that unless they are chewed up completely or ground up, a large proportion only passes the gut without digestion. As such, they are not absorbed and are lost in fecal matter. It explains why nuts are weight loss friendly.

Here are some of the best nuts for weight loss you can add to your diet:

Walnuts

walnut

Apart from being heart-healthy, walnuts contain unsaturated fats which help reduce abdominal fat. They come in handy for people on a weight loss regimen as they also improve insulin metabolism. They are unique as they are rich in polyunsaturated fats, unlike other kinds of nuts that have high levels of monounsaturated fats.

Walnuts have Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA). It helps reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. Walnuts have 183 calories and 18 grams of fat of which 2.5 grams of fat contain ALA. It makes walnuts a rich source of the essential fatty acid.

A research on 245 women showed that a diet rich in walnuts helped them lose weight, reduced the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), and improved the levels of good cholesterol (HDL).

You can add these nuts to your salad or mix them with your breakfast oats.

Cashew Nuts

cashew-nut

A serving of cashew nuts contains five grams of protein and thirteen grams of fat. Cashew nuts are also an excellent source of magnesium. In fact, a 100-gram serving of cashew nuts provides up to 73% of the daily value of magnesium.

This mineral is essential for regulating the amount of carbohydrates in the body and metabolism of fat, which helps you lose weight.

Apart from taking raw cashew nuts, you can also try spreading cashew butter on whole-wheat toast to up your intake of these healthy nuts.

Pistachios

pistachios

Their unique color and flavor make them a favorite ingredient in morning green smoothies, morning snacks, and baked recipes.

A serving of pistachios has three grams of dietary fiber which is 12% of the recommended daily intake. Dietary fiber helps the body feel satiated for long, which helps rid of intense food craving. This helps you lose weight fast and burn more calories.

A study involving participants who included an afternoon snack of pistachios achieved lower triglycerides and body weight.

See Also: How to Boost Metabolism: 8 Foods That Can Skyrocket Your Weight Loss

Nut Recipes You Should Try Out

Banana Bread

banana bread

If you want to avoid gluten products, then this banana bread is the right snack for you. You can eat it for breakfast, dessert or snack.

A snack of gluten-free banana bread made of walnuts allows you to enjoy the benefits of ALA while enjoying the satiety of protein. Plus, walnuts can add a delicious crunch to this snack.

Ingredients

For this recipe you will need:

  • A couple of overripe bananas
  • Brown rice flour
  • Walnuts
  • Applesauce
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Honey
  • Vanilla extract
  • Almond milk
  • Gluten-free rolled oats
  • Coconut flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Apply oil and flour on the baking pan and set it aside.
  3. Whisk the wet ingredients (two eggs, coconut oil, bananas, honey, almond milk, applesauce) in a mixing bowl.
  4. Then, fold in the dry ingredients (baking soda, brown rice flour, baking powder, walnuts, gluten-free oats, coconut flour, salt) and combine until the mixture is smooth and thick.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking pan.
  6. You can sprinkle some oats over the butter.
  7. Allow the batter to bake for 55 minutes until the tester comes out clean.
  8. Remove it from the oven and let it sit for twenty minutes in the baking pan.
  9. Allow it to cool on a wire rack and cut it into slices for breakfast.

See Also: 5 Healthy and Delicious Juice Recipes for Easier Weight Loss

Conclusion

Clearly, nuts are essential for people who want to shed off a few pounds. The right proportion of the best nuts for weight loss also provide numerous other health benefits.

The post Why You Should Include Nuts In Your Weight Loss Regimen appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

How to Boost Metabolism: 8 Foods That Can Skyrocket Your Weight Loss

I’ve got a secret to tell you.

Your body has one powerful tool it can use to start burning fat like crazy. That same tool can also make you gain weight and store all those excess fats in all areas of your body.

Can you guess what it is?

It’s your thyroid.

It’s that tiny gland located in your neck, right below the Adam’s apple. It has dozens of different functions and effects, but perhaps the most important one is metabolism regulation.

thyroid gland
Via webmd

What is metabolism?

In layman’s terms, metabolism is the speed and intensity of all biochemical reactions and processes happening in your body. It is defined by a lot of different factors, among which endocrine regulation plays a crucial role.

Actually, that’s why some people are naturally thin while other folks are chubby.

Imagine it as an engine and the fuel is your body fat.

The faster it goes, the more fuel it burns.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

So, how do you kick-start your metabolism, especially if its natural rates are much lower than you’d prefer? Is there a way to safely tweak your endocrine system to boost the rate of your body’s chemical reactions?

That’s where your thyroid plays a crucial role.

Thyroxine: The Ultimate Metabolism Booster

Thyroxine, also known as T4, is one of the main hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Its primary role is to be transformed into triiodothyronine (T3), which is the active form of this hormone.

Yep, thyroxine isn’t that active. So, why do we call it the ultimate metabolism booster in this article?

The main trick here is that you can’t elevate T3 levels directly, but it is possible to improve T4 secretion. Thyroxine will then be converted into T3 and this will skyrocket your metabolism, resulting in a significant fat loss.

Now, let’s get specific and take a good look at what your thyroid needs and how to boost your metabolism through it.

The Essentials for Having Good Thyroxine

Iodine

This is the staple component of all thyroid hormones: none of them can be synthesized without iodine. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that iodine deficiency quickly results in hypothyroidism. It’s a health condition during which your thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroxine and triiodothyronine.

Studies indicate that almost 2 million people around the world have a certain degree of iodine deficiency and it often remains undiagnosed due to the mildness of the symptoms.

Weakness, fatigability, decreased mood, and excess weight are among the usual ones. Most people would think that they’re just bad effects of chronic stress and would do nothing about them.

Selenium

This essential micro-nutrient plays a crucial role in maintaining the health of your thyroid gland. It doesn’t only improve the production of thyroid hormones but it can also help alleviate the course of some health conditions, like Hashimoto’s disease. It’s an autoimmune condition that gradually destroys the thyroid, often without any prominent symptoms besides mild reduction in hormone levels.

Just imagine, taking 0.2 mg of selenium daily can improve the antibodies count by a whole 21% during Hashimoto’s!

Vitamin C and Zinc

A study published in 2008 analyzed whether there was any consistent vitamin C and/or zinc deficiency in patients with benign thyroid diseases. It turns out that all of the examined patients had low levels of these nutrients, suggesting that they may also play a crucial role in keeping your thyroid healthy.

Vitamin D

Multiple studies, including this one from 2013, showed that people with low thyroid hormone levels usually have low vitamin D levels as well. This emphasizes the importance of this vitamin in maintaining a healthy thyroid function.

On the other hand, studies affirm that over 40% of American adults have a certain level of vitamin D deficiency. Who knows, maybe this is one of the reasons why excess weight and obesity are all over US?

But, fear not.

We won’t let you go with just this vague piece of advice. Below you’ll find a fabulous list of 10 specific foods that increase thyroxine secretion. Eat them regularly and you’ll be able to boost your metabolism in no time.

8 Foods that Boost Thyroxine Naturally

Seafood

seafood thyroxine rich food

All kinds of seaweeds (algae), shellfish (oysters, shrimp, clams, scallops, octopuses, squids), and fish (preferably wild-caught) are fabulous sources of iodine.

The best thing about increasing your iodine intake naturally, instead of looking for some sort of shady supplement, is that you can’t overdose on dietary iodine. Your body will take as much as it needs, increasing your body’s thyroxine synthesis to its natural levels.

Brazil nuts

brazil nuts thyroxine food

This is one of the richest sources of dietary selenium ever. A single ounce (6-8 nuts) of Brazil nuts contains over 500 mcg of selenium!

The RDA for this nutrient is 55 mcg/day, so snacking on 1 to 3 nuts will be more than enough to skyrocket your thyroxine production. Also, these nuts are just delicious, so that’s an all-win advice.

Pumpkin Seeds

pumpkin seeds thyroxine rich food

A cup of these beauties provides almost half of your recommended daily value of zinc (6.6 mg out of 15 mg).

Bonus benefit: A study has revealed that pumpkin seed extracts could reduce the risk of breast cancer. These seeds are rich in dietary fibers, magnesium, and plant-based omega-3s, too.

Guava, Blackcurrant, Red Pepper, Kiwi

guava thyroxine rich food

Can you guess what do these 4 delicious foods have in common? They are all incredibly rich in vitamin C.

Just imagine:

A single guava can give you more than 6 times your RDA for ascorbic acid. Surely, that’s more than enough to support your thyroid.

Cod liver oil

cod liver oil thyroxine rich food

A single teaspoon of cod liver oil contains 440 IU of vitamin D. This is more than enough to cover your recommended daily dose of this valuable nutrient.

Sunlight

sunlight

This is your most reliable and accessible way to get some vitamin D. 10 to 15 minutes of unprotected sunlight exposure 2 or 3 times per week should be enough—and don’t forget to put on your sunscreen right after that!

You see, vitamin D can be produced in your body from the cholesterol in the skin and that’s a great way to get enough of it at all times.

Quick Recap

If you want to boost your metabolism and lose weight for good, one of the most reliable ways to do that is to support the function of your thyroid gland and to help it to produce more thyroxine (T4).

This hormone is inactive itself but quickly transforms into triiodothyronine (T3), boosting your metabolism big time. We can’t elevate our T3 levels directly, but T4 is under our control.

To keep it soaring and healthy, keep track of the following things:

  • Have enough iodine in your diet. Stack on seafood and don’t worry about having too much of it. You can’t get an iodine overdose from eating shrimps.
  • Control your selenium intake. Most people don’t get enough of it but if you want to have healthy thyroxine levels, you should. Snack on 1 to 3 Brazil nuts each day and you’ll be great!
  • Zinc, zinc, zinc. Another micro-nutrient that most Westerners don’t get enough of in their diet is zinc. Don’t follow their path and get your zinc straight for a healthy thyroid. To do so, just carry a pack of pumpkin seeds with you every day. These little fellas are not only a fabulous source of fibers but also a sheer zinc bomb! One cup per day gives you more than half of the recommended daily amount.
  • Keep track of your vitamin C. No, no need to eat lemons. Instead, opt for guava, blackcurrant, red peppers, and kiwi.
  • Go for a walk! 10 minutes of sunlight exposure is more than enough to make your body produce the vitamin D it needs. Just don’t forget to put on your sunscreen after those 10 minutes, not before them.

See Also: 5 Healthy and Delicious Juice Recipes for Easier Weight Loss

The post How to Boost Metabolism: 8 Foods That Can Skyrocket Your Weight Loss appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Chick-fil-A steps in to feed the stranded at Atlanta airport… on a Sunday

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Chick-fil-A, famed for never opening on Sundays and will likely never be, has made an exception.

The fast food chain is stepping in to feed passengers left affected by the Atlanta airport blackout, according to the City of Atlanta

They’ll be served at the Georgia International Convention Center, where they are able to stay overnight, which is a pretty nice consolation given what some of these people have gone through.

The City of Atlanta has mobilized the Georgia International Convention Center and will provide shuttle services for anyone who needs a place to stay for the night@ChickfilA will provide food for passengers.

— City of Atlanta, GA (@Cityofatlanta) December 18, 2017 Read more…

More about Food, Culture, Airport, Airports, and Atlanta

New Zealanders worry about a ‘chipocalypse’ as potato supply drops

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We don’t want to ever live in a world where there is a “chipocalypse.”

No wonder New Zealanders are concerned at the prospect, as 20 percent of potato crops have been lost due to extended periods of wet weather, according to the New Zealand Herald.

Supermarkets have indicated to the newspaper there might be a shortage in potato crisps, as manufacturers have a smaller cut of potato crops in the country. Normal potato supply won’t return until the new year.

When the chips are down, people are going to freak out — a bit — on social media. Read more…

More about Australia, Food, New Zealand, Chips, and Culture

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10 Cooking Tips For Beginners To Help You Master The Kitchen

A recent survey showed that almost a third of the US population cannot cook. Decades of TV dinners and ready meals have left many of us unable to find our way around a kitchen. However, with some basic skills, you can find that cooking can be an enjoyable and healthy pastime.

Follow these cooking tips for beginners and easily become a master of the stove- even if you have never cooked before.

How to boil an egg

Let’s start with something simple- a perfectly boiled egg.

It’s great for a quick snack or as an add-on to your salad. It is one of the simplest things to cook — put on a tight lid if you know how.

Cooking an egg to the perfect level of hardness can seem like a mystery. The trick, however, is in the timing.

Put a pan on the stove with enough water to cover the eggs. Bring the water to a boil and then turn down the heat slightly to a simmer where the water bubbles gently. Add the eggs carefully and then start a timer. You need to leave them for 6 minutes if you want a runny egg yolk. Leave them for 8 minutes if you want the yolk to be set softly or 9 minutes if you want a hard boiled egg.

Cook a perfect steak

real men can cook

Similar to a perfect egg, cooking a perfect steak is a matter of timing. You need to heat a pan until it is smoking hot. Don’t put any oil in the pan. Instead, rub your steak with some oil then some salt and pepper.

Place your steak in the pan and leave it alone! Resist the temptation to move it about. Wait for a minute or so until it is ready to be turned. Depending on the thickness of the steak, you need to cook it for about 1½ minutes per side for rare, 2 minutes for medium rare and about 2½ for medium.

However, rather than just relying on time, here is an additional test. Pinch your thumb and first finger. If you feel the flesh between your thumb and finger, this is what a rare steak should feel like. When you touch your middle finger to your thumb, you will get the feel of medium rare and your ring finger will give you the feel of a medium cooked steak. You can use this as a way of telling if your steak is cooked perfectly every time.

Remember, allow your steak to rest for a few minutes before serving to allow it to reabsorb the juices and be totally delicious!

Handle a knife safely

Your kitchen can be a dangerous place. It’s filled with hot pans, sharp knives and more. Because of that, knowing how to handle a knife is vital. You also need to know how to select the correct knife for the job.

Your knife must be sharp! A blunt knife is more likely to slip and cut you. Treat your knives well and keep them razor sharp. Wash them by hand as your dishwasher will blunt the blades.

Remember that you always need to keep your fingers clear of the blade when cutting. Do this by curling your fingers so that the knife is guided by your knuckles and your fingertips are clear.

Speed is not essential. Practice will allow you to work faster and more accurately with your knife.

How to cook rice perfectly every time

Rice is a staple for many meals. However, wet or burnt rice will easily ruin a dish.

For perfect rice, you need to wash your rice until the water runs clear. Take a medium sized pan and put in about ½ a cup (90g) per person. Cover with water so that it’s about an inch above the rice and bring to a boil.

When it’s boiling, keep an eye on the rice as you are watching out for bubbling holes on the surface of the rice. As soon as you see this, put in a tight lid and switch off the heat. Leave the rice for 10 minutes and serve immediately.

Make a pasta sauce

man can cook

A tomato ragu is a simple pasta sauce which you can use to create a delicious and quick pasta dish, meatballs or some grilled chicken. It is a very versatile addition to many dishes.

Finely chop onion, carrot and celery and place them in a pan with a little olive oil. You want to gently heat this so that they soften without browning. Patience is everything here!

Add a tin of plum tomatoes, a sprinkle of basil, a bay leaf, salt, pepper and water. Mix well and simmer for at least 30 minutes or longer if you can. Make sure you stir it every so often and then serve with your favorite pasta or meat.

Become a BBQ master

Mastering a barbecue is a great skill and there is more to it than firing up the grill and hoping for the best.

Step one, preheat your grill. Placing meat on a cold grill will leave you with undercooked food. Heat the grill for ten minutes or so before you place your first items, ensuring it is searing hot.

Check if your meat is at room temperature. You should take it out of the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before you start cooking. You can use a meat thermometer. It may cost a few dollars, but it will save you from having burgers that are burnt on the outside, raw in the middle.

For ground beef, you need to ensure that you have an internal temperature of at least 160℉ to ensure that any bacteria is killed. There is nothing worse than being remembered for poisoning your guests!

Oil the grill using a brush so that nothing sticks. Use wood chips to add a smoky BBQ taste. You can wrap some corn on the cob in foil with butter to add to your steak and burgers.

Bluff your way with wine

There has never been a better time to enjoy a good wine. There is such a great selection available at affordable prices.

If you know nothing about wine, you should start by trying out a number of different wines. Many specialist shops will have taster sessions to help you understand wine better. While you are there, remember to jot down the names of the bottles you enjoyed.

Start with some classic wines, such as a Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Rioja. From there, build your selection as you try more new tastes.

Make life simple with batch cooking

We have all been there. We get home from work and want something to eat but we can’t be bothered to cook. So, we reach for a take-out menu.

If you keep on experiencing this issue, then the answer is batch cooking. It’s the art of creating additional portions when you cook meals. It is perfect for dishes like chili con carne, casseroles and soups. You can portion them off into plastic boxes and freeze them until you need them for quick dinners.

Remember to package the meals carefully. There should be no excess air in the packaging as this can cause freezer burn.

Make your own bread

Making bread is something that’s deeply satisfying, particularly if your home starts getting filled with the delicious scent of warm bread. It may not be something you want to do every day, but it’s a great thing to do on the weekends.

The recipes are pretty simple. Basically, you’ll need yeast, warm water and flour kneaded together.

Enjoy cooking

Probably the best tip for anyone who wants to get into cooking is to enjoy it. Look at your time in the kitchen not as a chore, but an opportunity to chill out after work or as a weekend activity. Put on some great music, grab a beer or a glass of wine and enjoy creating some great dishes!

The post 10 Cooking Tips For Beginners To Help You Master The Kitchen appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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What to Look for When Buying The Best Dog Food For Small Dogs

Buying food for toy breeds is not as straightforward as just choosing the most popular at the pet store and taking it home. Small dogs have special dietary requirements as they tend to be sensitive to certain food. It’s also more difficult to feed them due to their small size and high metabolism.

Toy breed dogs can only eat small amounts at a time so they need to eat several times a day to keep their blood sugar within normal range. The food needs to be packed with nutrients and calories to ensure that your little dog is getting enough of the things it needs to stay healthy.

While this may sound daunting, here are some guidelines on what to look for when buying the best dog food for small dogs.

Ingredients To Look For

dog food

Quality ingredients are the most important thing when deciding which food to buy. Just like with human food, you want the ingredients to be as natural as possible so that they can provide the best nutrition available. The main things to check for in dog food for small breeds are protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Protein

When checking what’s in the food you’re considering, protein is the first thing to look for. Protein should be the main ingredient so it should be first on the list. It should also be a high-quality source of protein and something you can recognize. Look for chicken, turkey, or lamb.

Sometimes, game meats will also be used, such as bison or venison. These are good as they are not usually inflammatory and they can be tolerated by dogs with sensitive tummies.

Anything ambiguous, like “by-product”, should be avoided. This is often what’s left over and considered unfit for human consumption after butchering the best meat off of an animal. It can also be a mix of animals from various sources.

Meat meals are also a good protein source. Meal is meat that has been dried to remove the water but still contains the same protein content.

Fat

Dogs are unlike humans in their digestion and they can take a quite high-fat diet and still be healthy. Just like with protein, you should look for reliable fat sources. Chicken fat is a good one but any recognizable source would be acceptable.

Fats that are not defined, such as “animal fat”, can be accumulated from all over the place and from various sources so the quality cannot be verified. Preservatives are often added to them to make them last longer as fat turns rancid when exposed to air.

Along with fat, the food you buy for toy dog breeds should also include fatty acids, such as Omega 3 and Omega 6. Some of the vitamins small dogs require are fat soluble, which means they need to have these fatty acids in order to absorb them.

As a general rule, there should be 1g of fat for 2g of protein in good dog food for small dogs.

Carbohydrates

In dog food, carbohydrates are often used as fillers to add bulk and calories. These are often referred to as vague descriptions, such as “grain by-products” or “cereals”. There are also some grains that small dogs, like Shih Tzus, are often allergic to. Examples include corn, wheat, and soy.

However, there are nutrients in high-quality carbohydrates. So, look for lists of vegetables, preferably fibrous ones, like potatoes, squashes, turnips and whole grains like oats.

Things To Avoid When Looking For Food For Toy Dogs

Apart from knowing what to look for in a good dog food, you should also know what should be avoided as much as possible.

As previously mentioned, wheat, soy, and corn are common allergens. They can cause upset stomachs and skin irritations. Along with these, look out for artificial preservatives, like ethoxyquin, BHT, and BHA.

Of course, some preservatives are needed or else the food would go off in storage and transport, but these can be in the form of Vitamin E and Vitamin C substrates known as tocopherols or ascorbates.

There are also some ingredients that must not be given to small dogs and Shih Tzu. These are toxic and can cause organ damage and even death in some cases. These include anything with caffeine, such as tea or coffee, chocolate, onions, fruit seeds or pips, grapes or raisins and macadamia nuts.

Size and Shape Of Dog Food For Small Dogs

Small dogs have small mouths and jaws to match. This means that you can’t give them big chunks of food as they’ll struggle to bite and chew properly. A lot of toy breeds also have compressed snouts and flat faces, like the Shih Tzu, and this makes eating messy and not so easy.

There are specialized foods, mainly dry food, that’s made up of small, bite-sized pieces called kibbles. They’re the perfect size and shape to fit into small mouths and small jaws. Size and shape should be a consideration when picking out the best dog food for small dogs.

Snacks and Treats

food for toy dogs

The recommendations for food should also apply to the treats that you give your small dogs. Since they can only take in small amounts of food at a time, they are often prone to hypoglycemia. You need to give them a couple of snacks between meals to keep their blood sugar normal. These should be small snacks that your dog can eat quickly and are full of nutrients and calories to keep them going. Just like with meals, avoid snacks that have lots of chemicals, preservatives, and allergens in them.

Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)

For extra peace of mind, look out for the AAFCO stamp of approval. The AAFCO test and monitor animal food to make sure that it has the right composition of nutrients and can provide your dog with everything it needs and everything the food claims to provide. It also ensures that there is nothing harmful in there so you can feed your dog with confidence.

The post What to Look for When Buying The Best Dog Food For Small Dogs appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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5 Healthy and Delicious Juice Recipes for Easier Weight Loss

Fresh fruit and veggie-based juices are the perfect way to get your daily dose of nutrition without the extra calories. While juicing won’t give you the figure of your dreams overnight, it’s a great way to enhance the effects of a proper diet and exercise program.

How Does Juicing Help You Lose Weight?

Here’s how fresh fruit and veggie juices can help you lose weight:

  • You’re delivering vital nutrients to your body in an efficient manner, allowing it to directly absorb vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • Raw fruits and veggies are typically quite high in water content to keep you hydrated. They help control hunger, too.
  • Raw fruits contain tiny amounts of fructose. When you juice with 75% veggies and 25% fruit, you won’t be overdoing the sugar.
  • Green leafy veggies are high in protein to help build muscles while other ingredients can help with digestion and blood sugar regulation.

5 Juicing Recipes For Weight Loss

Green Gut Buster Detox

green gut buster detox

Packed with the goodness of raw fruits and green leafy veggies, this detoxifying drink helps to counter the effects of junk food, holiday binges and parties. This recipe is rich in vitamin C and health-boosting polyphenols which make it one of the best juicing recipes for weight loss.

To make this Detox juice, put the following ingredients in your juicer:

  • 10 kale leaves (stems removed)
  • 2 celery stalks (leaves removed)
  • 1 1/2 cucumber
  • 2 green apples (cut in half)
  • 1 lemon (peeled)
  • 1 2 inch piece fresh ginger

Preparation Tip – Increase or decrease the amount of apples to add or reduce the sweetness. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Fruit Punch Energy Booster

fruit punch energy booster

This sweet and tangy juice is the perfect way to start your day since it wakes you up and gives you the energy and nutrients you need in the morning. Loaded with vitamins and minerals from fruit and greens, it’s also the ideal pre-workout fuel for your body!

To make this Booster juice, put the following ingredients in your juicer:

  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 2 apples
  • 1 cup cucumber
  • 2 cups pineapple
  • Juice of 2 limes

Preparation Tip Add lime juice and ice after juicing the other ingredients to prevent oxidization. Increase or decrease pineapple and apples as per your taste.

Tropical Carrot-Apple Tummy Tucker

tropical carrot apple tummy tucker

Carrots are rich in beta carotene (which helps your body process vitamin A), B vitamins, vitamin K and potassium. In this recipe, the sweetness of carrots is perfectly balanced with the tangy flavor of apples. It’s a drink that’s both nutritious and delicious.

To make this Tummy Tucker juice, put the following ingredients in your juicer:

  • 3 large carrots (chopped)
  • 2 cups pineapple
  • 1 apple
  • 2 pieces fresh ginger

Preparation Tip – Use firm apples to produce a clear juice and add green apples if you want more tartness.

Sneaky Green-Berry Metabolism Booster

sneaky green berry metabolism booster

If you don’t tell anyone that this drink has leafy veggies in it, they will never know it’s a green smoothie. Mixed berries add a rich flavor as well as a gorgeous color to this juice, masking the “green” flavor and color of spinach.

To make this Booster juice, put the following ingredients in your juicer:

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 cup coconut water

Preparation Tip – Adding a few chopped beets will intensify the color and mineral content of this drink.

Flat Belly Antioxidant Delight

flat belly antioxidant delight

This drink delivers a huge payoff in terms of antioxidants, minerals, and phytochemicals from fresh carrots, citrus, and green vegetables. Carrots also help to regulate blood sugar.

This juice is so tasty that even veggie-hating kids will love it!

To make this Antioxidant juice, put the following ingredients in your juicer:

  • 1 carrot
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 cups broccoli
  • 1 stick of celery
  • ¼ head of cabbage
  • ¼ head of lettuce

Preparation Tip – Juice the oranges and add to the smoothie container with ice before juicing the other ingredients. Stir well before serving.

See Also: 4 Best Teas To Help You Lose Weight

Pro-Tips for Proper Juice Storage

There are simple tricks to help keep your juices longer.

For one, you can add lemon to slow down oxidation. You can also use a proper smoothie storage solution if you want to make larger batches of juice at a time. While green smoothies and juices can be whipped up in a jiffy if you have the ingredients at hand, it can still be a hassle to make them each time you want a guilt-free snack or healthy drink.

Smoothie bottles that pump out excess air will help keep ingredients fresh and preserve their health benefits, so you can just grab one from the fridge before leaving the house or when you want a quick snack!

See Also: 8 Bad Food Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals

The post 5 Healthy and Delicious Juice Recipes for Easier Weight Loss appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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New Zealand lays claim to the 'British classic' that is mince toast

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The anger from Brits over mince toast was palpable. 

Mince toast! How dare the Americans — specifically food website Eaterclaim the dish was a “quintessential British comfort classic.” 

That was according to a video it posted on Monday, in which it visited London’s Quality Chop House. But many Brits said they’ve never eaten it.

British restaurant critic Jay Rayner, who once described upscale Paris restaurant Le Cinc as being decorated in shades of “fuck you,” weighed in on Twitter.

For god sake @eater what are you on? Apart from mince on toast, something I have never eatenhttps://t.co/1zfJTI18uG

— Jay Rayner (@jayrayner1) July 10, 2017 Read more…

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The 'Donutella Versace' is a monstrosity of a donut covered in gold flakes

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For many people, one donut is enough. For others, there’s the Donutella Versace. 

It’s a mammoth creation put together by Australian chain Doughnut Time, in celebration of the very important World Chocolate Day.

The Donutella Versace is a 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) monstrosity, topped with 10 different types of chocolate. 

The donut itself is made of Hersheys chocolate & cocoa, then it’s filled with Nutella and layered with a decadent chocolate glaze, chocolate flakes, chopped up Kit-Kat bars, Oreo biscuits, chocolate fudge brownie, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate chips and a miniature jar of Nutella. Read more…

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Will Blue Apron’s rebound continue?

 Cooking kit delivery company Blue Apron traded up 3.5% on the stock market Monday, erasing some of the losses from its first two days as a public company. Shares closed at $9.67, which was still beneath last week’s $10 IPO price. This is in contrast to a lot of public debuts, where companies are typically in the green for the first day “pop.” It’s the subsequent days… Read More

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Will Blue Apron’s rebound continue?

 Cooking kit delivery company Blue Apron traded up 3.5% on the stock market Monday, erasing some of the losses from its first two days as a public company. Shares closed at $9.67, which was still beneath last week’s $10 IPO price. This is in contrast to a lot of public debuts, where companies are typically in the green for the first day “pop.” It’s the subsequent days… Read More

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Crunch Report | Amazon Bids to Buy Whole Foods for $13.7 Billion

Amazon bids to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, Walmart buys Bonobos for $310 million, Mobike, a ride-sharing company in China, raises $600 million. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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Anthony Bourdain has anointed this Filipino street food dish as 'the one'

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Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has eaten his way around the world, and is convinced he’s found The One.

That dish is sisig from the Philippines, a local street food dish made from chopped parts of a pig.

He’s so sure of it, he’s gone ahead and said it could be the next big thing globally.

He told CNN Philippines that the sizzling, crispy pork dish is “perfectly positioned to win the hearts and minds of the world as a whole.

“I think it’s the most likely to convince people abroad who have had no exposure to Filipino food to maybe look further and investigate further beyond sisig,” he said. Read more…

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Crunch Report | Sprig Is Shutting Down

Sprig is shutting down, Sergey Brin is building a giant airship, Nielsen’s latest data show a ton of people still watch content on TV and bitcoin experiences an outage from all the bitcoin ups and downs. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

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The internet is debating Peeps on pizza and OMG what is happening

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And you thought pineapple was a divisive pizza topping.

Internet, prepare yourselves for a pizza monstrosity that makes no sense no matter how you try to spin it: Peeps on pizza. Yes, the colored marshmallow chicks. It’s Peepza and it’s gross.

Behold, Twitter user Austin Braun premiering the Frankenfood:

This > pineapple pizza. 😍 pic.twitter.com/6aPAvc2Pey

— Austin Braun (@AustinOnSocial) April 2, 2017

Wildly, Twitter is debating whether or not this would be good — and it’s starting to heat up.

First there are the sensible people, who see this ‘za for the horror it really is: Read more…

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These delicious cakes are actually disgusting vegetables in disguise

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You don’t win friends with salad. But maybe salad disguised as cake will buy you some time before social ostracisation kicks in.

Behold: The salad cake. It’s basically a bunch of vegetables that are smashed together to look like a delicious, sugary dessert — but is actually very good for you. How disappointing. 

Misuki Moriyasu is the genius creator of this cruel trick of the eye. Her Vegedeco Salad Cafe located in Nagoya, Japan, will serve you healthy cake that’s “fun to look at, fun to eat and full of joy using a new shape of salad.” Read more…

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Pizza dipped in milk is the most disrespectful pizza crime yet

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As head of the Department of Pizza Crime (just go with it), I hereby denounce pizza dipped in milk as the most heinous pizza offense yet.

The ghastly combo hit the internet earlier this week, when a 20-year-old college student posted a photo of it to Twitter. She’s since made her account private, but people have reposted it anyway—accompanied, of course, by their opinions.

Pizza + Milk = a great combination😋😋😋 pic.twitter.com/G9LGvTatjF

— zack (@IsaiahDaGawdd) March 3, 2017

Okay. Here are some reasons why this is the worst: Read more…

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BeeHex cooks up $1 million for 3D food printers that make pizzas

A heart-shaped pizza printed by BeeHex. The phrase “3-D printer” typically brings to mind devices that churn out plastic objects like jewelry, toys, hardware prototypes or even prosthetics. Now, a startup building a 3-D food printer, BeeHex, has raised $1 million in seed funding to launch its first product, a pizza printer called the Chef 3D. Initially, BeeHex wanted to develop a printer that would be able to make a… Read More

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What the type of steak you eat says about you

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Ask yourself honestly: Can you really love someone who doesn’t cook steak at the same temperature as you?

After The IJR published a bombshell story this weekend alleging that the President Trump had ordered well-done steak again — again! — the hundreds of dorks who actually care about this stuff erupted in outrage on Twitter. 

Traditional liberal outlets condemned the president for degrading the sacred meat, while conservative personalities like Paul Joseph Watson slammed dissenters as “idiot hipsters.” The way you cook your meat, both sides seemingly genuinely argued, has everything to do with the way you see the world. Read more…

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Investors pour $2 million more into booze marketplace Drizly

DrizlyDelivery Boston-based Drizly used to be known as the on-demand delivery app for alcohol. More recently, the company evolved into a marketplace that helps brick-and-mortar liquor stores to connect with and sell to customers nearby through web and mobile commerce. The Drizly app shows shoppers different prices on the beer, wine and liquor that they’re looking for at local shops, along with… Read More

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What Are You Hungry For? The Real Causes Of Overeating

We’ve all been there: we went through a lot of stress and sleepless nights because of our newborn and so we chose to comfort ourselves with a big bucket of ice-cream. Hectic schedules and taking care of our children can often make us feel like nobody understands our troubles or we simply don’t feel like talking about it.

When you experience a burn-out of any kind, it’s easy to form a habit of binge-eating in front of a TV. And then you fall into a vicious circle and feel terribly guilty after the third bag of chips.

Poor nutrition causes feelings of fatigue, depression, and nervousness. Overeating is a direct consequence of an unbalanced emotional state or a long-term unhealthy behavior. Most frequently, our bodies try to cope with constant changes in blood sugar levels and hormonal imbalance, making it harder for a person to be productive, focused, and lose weight.

What are you hungry for? Read on to find out what causes overeating and how to deal with it.

Stress is taking its toll

High stress levels are the most frequent reason for emotional overeating as we use food to cope with anxiety. Researchers from Harvard explained the connection between increased levels of cortisol and disbalance of insulin levels – and food cravings most people experience after going through a stressful period.

When we experience short-term stress, we’re likely to lose our appetites. But when we’re exposed to it on a daily basis, overeating becomes a system for coping. Low blood sugar caused by rigorous diets, skipping meals, or poor nutrition is the reason why your body craves high-fat and sugary foods.

See Also: 9 Ways We Can Reduce Our Stress Level 

Physical activity puts you back on track

do yoga

When we feel low or depressed, it’s most probably due to a drop in serotonin levels. This is caused by lack of sleep or when we exhaust ourselves with great amounts of work, without leisure time or activities that bring us pleasure.

Instead of reaching for comfort food for a quick fix, try committing to some sort of physical activity. Exercising releases serotonin which is responsible for maintaining an optimal sleeping cycle, regulating mood and appetite. It is also a great way to handle stress, promote good mental health, and make that “feel good“ feeling stick for a while.

Try yoga and meditation as they will increase your metabolism, help you tranquilize and relax, and become more aware of your body and its needs. Jogging and cycling are also great options, as well as power walking. Consider using a body tracker app to measure real progress and motivate yourself, as scales won’t reflect your success. Muscles weigh more than fat so you might be seeing higher numbers on the scale when in fact – you are stronger and fitter than before.  

Don’t eat your emotions

Over a longer period of time, overeating can shut off the hormone that signals when we’re full which is a certain path to obesity, a recent study has shown. By repeatedly consuming excess calories, our body becomes overwhelmed and so cells stop producing uroguanylin, responsible for telling us we’re full.

This can be regulated with a workout regime and mindful eating. By shifting your perspective gradually, you can start perceiving food as precious fuel for your body – not a way to cope with negative emotions.

Focus on your calorie intake and keep a food journal to control your portions. Analyze the reasons you feel the need to overeat.

Is it triggered by some emotionally heavy situation you’ve recently experienced? Do you feel the lack of love from your closest ones? By mapping out your problems, you can focus on handling them more effectively instead of using food as a substitute.  

Understand your body’s needs

healthy alternative

Your cravings are indicators of the nutritional deficiency your body is experiencing. Whether you feel like eating something sweet and creamy, or extremely salty – you’re most likely to reach out to simple carbs (i.e. plain sugar) as they penetrate your blood stream almost immediately, giving you a nice sugar rush or feeling of fullness.

However, there are healthier alternatives. If you’re craving chocolate, your body lacks magnesium. A healthy alternative to milk chocolate is raw cacao, fruits, nuts, or seeds. If you feel like eating bread or pasta, you need nitrogen which can also be found in high protein foods (e.g. fatty fish, meat, or beans). If you crave for salty foods, you need chloride and silicon which are best consumed with goat milk, nuts, and cashews.

When you consume too much sugar, your body gets addicted to it. Don’t cut off all the sugar at once but do it gradually: your body will go through withdrawal and it will be exhausting. Drink lemon water to get rid of toxins and increase your liquid intake.

See Also: 7 Healthy Foods That Will Fill You Up and Prevent Overeating

With effort and devotion, you can beat food cravings and ensure a healthier lifestyle for yourself. Your body is a temple so treat it with respect.

 

The post What Are You Hungry For? The Real Causes Of Overeating appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Thistle launches meal kits to make nutritious baby food at home

Thistle Baby sends pre-measured ingredients and recipes to parents who want to make their own baby food. Food delivery startup Thistle was never been in the business of making meal kits, those boxes of pre-measured ingredients and recipes to help customers cook at home. The startup’s married cofounders, Ashwin Cheriyan and Shiri Avnery, thought that prepared meals, ready-to-heat or raw and ready-to-eat, were a better fit for their busy customers. Meal kits, they said, felt like time… Read More

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Foods That Will Help You Keep Your Family Healthy

Let’s face it – keeping your family healthy is a full time job.

Even when we want our spouse and children to eat healthy meals, we struggle due to lack of time, tempting food commercials, and the downright convenience of processed meals.

But we can still make an effort to provide better meals. We can do this by simply championing whole foods and having our meal plans revolve around them.

Best Healthy Foods for Your Family

• Oatmeal

oatmeal

If you want avoid any 10 AM cravings, you should give your breakfast a nice fiber boost with a bowl of oatmeal. Furthermore, oatmeal also contains soluble fiber that will help you control your cholesterol levels and insoluble fiber which will keep your family satisfied throughout the day.

• Raspberries

raspberries

Raspberries are really dark fruits, but did you know that this means that they are laden with fiber and antioxidants? They also possess a good amount of Vitamin C. A cup of the fruit contains around 8 grams of fiber.

• Barley

barley

Barley has the highest fiber content of all whole grains. Your average pearled barley pack has around 6 grams per cup after cooking. And that’s why you should start serving it as a side dish with almost every meal.

• Broccoli

broccoli

Last but not least, we have a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables. And if you are not aware, cruciferous veggies are full of nutrients. Broccoli, for instance, packs a ton of antioxidants that have certain cancer-preventing benefits. Also, a single cup of broccoli has more than 5 grams of fibers.

Junk Food Alternatives

junkfoods

Fast food restaurants in the United States serve roughly 50 million customers every day. Furthermore, according to CDC’s newest findings, more than a third of (around 34% to be exact) of children between ages 2 and 19 eat fast food on a daily basis.

As we all know, fast food is extremely high in fat and sugar and awfully low in nutrients. Nevertheless, we cannot deny the fact that junk food still is tempting for young children.

You can try to cut down on the number of times you and your family go out for meals. Alternatively, you can serve these healthy alternatives instead:

French Fries – Try preparing some baked grits on your oven with a dash of salt.
Fried Chicken – Grilled chicken is a great, low-fat alternative to KFC.
Ice Cream – Yogurt and fresh fruit smoothies should satisfy your children’s need for sugar.
Potato Chips – For younger children, try baking vegetable chips, and for older ones, buy some nuts.

See Also: Four Simple Ways to Teach Your Kids to Say “NO” to Junk Foods

How to Help Your Family Eat Better

Now, for our spouses and parents, keeping loved ones on a healthy diet will always be a full time job. But even when you’re armed with the healthiest fruits, veggies and meats, making sure that your family sticks to a healthy diet isn’t always an easy task. But you shouldn’t feel discouraged at all.

You see, even small, seemingly insignificant changes to your daily routine can have a huge effect on your family’s overall health.

  • Mix Things up As Often as Possible

Who says that a healthy diet has to be boring? For instance, did you know that it can be beneficial to eat something sweet in the morning to hold back carvings later in the day? Well, according to Tel Aviv University research, if you have a little chocolate in the morning, you won’t feel so tempted to eat something sweet during the day.

Nevertheless, you should limit your children’s sugar intake to about three teaspoons a day; and don’t worry, many recipes taste just as good with less sugar. Pinterest is a wonderful companion at this time as you can pin numerous healthy recipes and ideas onto your boards.

And if you feel like it, you can consider using a meal delivery company that deliveries fresh recipes and groceries on a weekly basis for that little bit of help.

  • Stop Eating in Front of the TV

Who doesn’t eat in front of TV from time to time? Most of us are guilty of it. But did you know that eating while watching TV or YouTube clips can directly impact your awareness and memory and make it harder to recall the amount of food consumed? In 2013, a group of UK scientists discovered that people who eat while distracted consume up to 25% more calories, according to Daily Mail.

The bottom line is – if you’re paying too much attention to the screen in front of you, you are not really paying any attention to what and how much of it is going into your or your kids’ mouths. A nice family meal, centered on the dining table will not only provide a great platform to your family to connect with each other, but it also gives you an opportunity to eat more mindfully.

Final Thoughts

Finally, in order to influence your kids’ eating habits, you have to make sure that every member of family sits down to eat together at approximately the same time every day. Not only will you be able to monitor your family’s eating habits, you’ll be able to identify possible problems and deal with them early.

Family meal times are a great opportunity to catch up on your children’s’ daily lives, and talk and listen to your loved ones without the distraction of smartphones, computers or TV. The simple act of talking to a parent over dinner will play a big role in boosting your children’s morale and self-esteem later on.

See Also: Shifting Your Family To The “Real Food” Diet 

 

The post Foods That Will Help You Keep Your Family Healthy appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

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Eat These Protein Superfoods For Breakfast

Did you know that you ought to be having protein for breakfast?

Protein foods are one of the most important food groups needed by the human body. It serves as the building blocks of life. One needs protein in one’s diet to repair the cells in the body and make new ones. Proteins are responsible for healthy bones, muscles, and skin allowing for better movements and activities. A strong immune system is highly achievable with the proper consumption of foods rich in protein.

Studies showed that protein can also help in losing weight. People who eat loads of proteins during breakfast have higher chances of reducing mindless snacking. Moreover, protein-packed breakfast can also help control the appetite of a person due to a fuller feeling experienced throughout the day. This reaction of the body towards a high-protein breakfast may be accounted for the effects of proteins on the hormones signaling the brain to regulate one’s appetite and hunger.

With the numerous advantages of proteins in the human body, it is very necessary to have knowledge on the protein-rich foods and supplements that can be included in one’s diet, especially during breakfast.

Some of the most common source of the protein includes oatmeal, yogurt, beans, eggs, and nuts. Other protein-rich foods which are highly beneficial to one’s health were as follows:

Spirulina

spirulina superfood

Spirulina is a kind of blue-green algae found in the sea. It is packed with essential nutrients needed by the body. One of its most notable compositions is its protein content which is around 60 percent by weight. The protein contained in Spirulina is said to be the best protein since it contains all the essential amino acids needed by the body to function properly. Moreover, being a plant-based source of complete protein, Spirulina serves as an ideal dietary supplement.

Kombucha

kombucha superfood

Kombucha is a functional beverage made from fermented and sweetened black or green tea. This popular drink is believed to comprise of several essential nutrients needed by the body to grow strong and healthy. Continuous studies are being conducted to prove and to regulate its healthy benefits. However, reports from users claimed that this fermented drink has already shown great, positive changes in one’s body.

These benefits include the enhancement of one’s well-being, the increase in energy, and the effect on weight loss. Kombucha has also shown a great role as an ideal probiotic drink for those struggling with a bacterial infection such as Candida.

Emmer

emmer superfood

Emmer belongs to the wheat family of annual grasses. It consists of grains enclosed by strong glumes and husks. Others refer to emmer as rice wheat, starch wheat, or two-grained spelt. This very special treat offers high protein ranging to about 22 percent. It is also rich in fiber, magnesium, and other vitamins.

Emmer is low in calorie content making it a better and healthier option for vegetarians or for people who wants plant-based protein food source. Emmer is a good addition to one’s breakfast as it comes in the form of bread, biscuits, and grains in soups.

Black Radish

black-radish-superfood

Black radish is the larger type of radish encased in a black or brown skin. It can be eaten and enjoyed raw or cooked depending on the desired preparation.

Studies showed that the black radish is an excellent source of essential nutrients such as vitamins, potassium, iron, and magnesium. They also yield complete protein source which highly improves the quality of health and diet.

See Also: Shifting Your Family To The “Real Food” Diet 

Bone Broth

bone broth superfood

Bone broth has been a breakthrough in protein supplementation in the body. This add-on to the diet can be easily prepared to improve one’s health in a myriad of ways. One can procure higher immunity due to the presence of high amounts of amino acids. It can also promote weight loss and healthy guts because of the amino acids present.

The knowledge about the human body and its functions allow one to know how Nutrisystem works. These helpful facts make people more aware of the things that could promote better health. Moreover, these help people in choosing the best and the worst options they could include in their own diet plans. The food one eats, as well as the activities one performs, will greatly play a big role in determining the health and wellness of an individual in the years to come.

Always remember, health is wealth!

See Also: A List of Superfoods You Definitely Need in Your Diet 

 

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