Debunking the Myths On Carrageenan Safety Using Food Science

When it comes to health subjects like carrageenan, I'm your girl. Not too long ago...I was that person. That one person who would mindlessly believe every health scare they heard on the internet and actually implemented that fear into her daily life. I did my best to avoid water with fluoride in it and stopped drinking anything out of plastic. Foods that weren't organic became my worst enemy. Every time I went to the grocery store, I had to read the ingredients over and over again just to make sure they didn't sneak anything bad in there. Even when I went out to eat, I was scared to eat the food served to me because I was afraid it wasn't prepared to my standards.

What a way to live, eh? Not really. I believed false information presented to me, developed terrible eating habits, and was stricken with anxiety 24/7. Why was I doing this to myself?

Carrageenan is in your dairy, your lattes, and your espresso drinks!

During my crazy health-obsessed days (which actually made me not so healthy), I stumbled upon an article somewhere with a headline along the lines of "Stop Drinking Starbucks Soy Milk!" Instantly, I clicked, scared for my life. How will I drink my iced vanilla soy lattes? I mean...I'm even drinking one right now as I'm writing this.

The article stated that the soy milk at Starbucks had one “cancer-causing” ingredient in it: carrageenan. Was this going to be another BPA case? Was I going to stop drinking my soy lattes? Of course not.

It's even in your favorite lipstick.
Carrageenan is a food ingredient derived from seaweed. It's commonly used in products we use every day: soy and almond milks, yogurt, cheese, toothpaste, protein powders, foundations, lipstick. Carrageenan is safe and used all around the world, as it has been for hundreds of years. Regulatory bodies in the United States, Japan, China, Brazil, and all of Europe have approved it for use in food. Yes, you heard me, carrageenan is safe. So pick up that soy latte and start drinking; there's no need to worry anymore.

Let's debunk a few common myths, shall we?

1. Carrageenan has no nutritional value therefore it is unneeded.
This is where the importance of food science comes in. Carrageenan is added to food products for many reasons:

A. For the texture of the product. 
No one wants watery yogurt or ice cream. No one wants chunky protein powders or uneven foundations. You get the point.

B. So we can preserve products for a longer period time and extend the products' shelf life. 
If you want to make all of your food fresh on the spot and get it from your local farmers market, you are always welcomed to do that. However, when you are buying processed food, there needs to be a way to maintain the freshness of the food, and carrageenan helps with that.

A world without carrageenan is a world without your favorite packaged treats!
C. Sustainability, and other big issues. 
There are people all over the world who have a very limited supply of food. With carrageenan, we can transport goods from all over the world to you, me, and those in need. This is really important to keep in mind. Maybe to you, this little additive in some products may be stressing you out, but that comes from a place of privilege. You need to think about the bigger picture: how is this helping millions of people in the world survive?

2. There was a study stating that it causes cancer and intestinal, that can't be wrong!
Yes, you are correct about that. Sort of. That's the problem with the internet nowadays...SO. MUCH. CLICKBAIT. People will see a headline that says "Study finds carrageenan causes cancer" and they'll believe it without doing their research. Here's why the study can't be taken 100% seriously:

A. The study tested a material other than carrageenan: poligeenan.
Carrageenan is approved for human consumption and you can find it in the products we use each and everyday. Poligeenan, previously and erroneously referred to as degraded carrageenan, is NOT approved for human consumption and NOT used in foods, and that is what they often tested on animals. Giving animals poligeenan is obviously going to have a different effect compared to humans eating carrageenan.

B. Studies Vary by Animal, Testing Methodology and Material Tested
There have been no human studies of carrageenan. Many of the animal studies that have been done have employed flawed methodologies, including injecting carrageenan rather than feeding it in food  There have been cellular or in vitro studies of carrageenan on human cells from organs that carrageenan cannot reach because carrageenan is fully excreted when consumed with food. And, of course, if you test the wrong stuff you’ll get different results.
Berry smoothie with almond milk.

C. When carrageenan interacts with food, it acts differently.
In animal testing carrageenan should always be administered in food – the way we get carrageenan in food and drinks, instead of just drinking water. When we consume carrageenan, it's in a product that has other ingredients. If you use soy milk in a latte or almond milk in a smoothie, the carrageenan binds to different proteins, which changes everything. Recent reviews of the history of carrageenan research have confirmed its safety – even when used in infant formula. 

And that, my friends, is why you should do your research before buying into clickbait. Carrageenan may seem to be a complicated subject, but it's actually quite simple. So simple that you can actually make it in your OWN KITCHEN! 

For the future, I encourage everyone to pay attention to actual food science instead of myths posted on the internet. The decisions you make for your health should be for yourself, whether that’s going paleo, vegan, gluten-free, or whatever else. But you simply cannot demand the world stop using a food additive that helps millions of people eat each and every day. 

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Food Science Matters, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #foodsciencematters

34 Little Things That Make Life Worth Living

I wrote this the other day as a little pick-me-up for myself. Every so often, I have these moments where I'm just like, "This is what makes me feel alive. This is what I live for. This is what makes everything so worth it." 

And lately, I've been needing that more than ever...


1. Being in a freezing cold room while snuggling up under a warm blanket. Let me lay here for the rest of my life and turn into a personified cinnamon bun. 
2. When you're in a quiet room with tons of people and a text you got makes you smile uncontrollably. 
3. Seeing somebody ​truly ​appreciate your work. Recognition ​can be hard to find sometimes, but once you get it, it feels amazing. 
4. Consuming anything pumpkin flavored during Autumn. Give me all of the pumpkin spice lattes, pancakes, and cupcakes, please.
5. Sunrise.
6. Sunset.
7. And even those gloomy rainy days.
8. Taking a really good selfie for once, and staring at it in absolute disbelief. "I just can't believe that's me."
9. When you get a whiff of a nostalgic scent out of nowhere. "Why am I smelling my best friend from the 4th grade right now?"
10. Checking your email Monday morning and finding out good news.
11. Rediscovering the world with somebody you love. 
12. Watching Disney movies over and over again because deep down, you know they're gonna make you smile.
13. When you're minding your own business walking down the street and a dog comes up to you out of nowhere. Day made.
14. Getting paid to do something you would do for free. 
15. When the waiter brings steaming hot bread to the table and you eat it all, not realizing how much it's going to fill you up. So worth it. (Then again, carbs are always worth it.)
16. Realizing you have the freedom to make the choices you couldn't make as a kid. Ice cream + video games + staying up late = adult paradise.
17. Seeing somebody be themselves in public with zero filter. Everyone is always so to themselves and civilized in public, it's beyond refreshing to see someone break that norm. 
18. The moment your favorite Netflix show ​finally ​released a new season after you waited a year. BINGE WATCH TIME!​
19. Getting home after a long day and immediately taking off your pants. Freedom.
20. When someone tells you that something they saw reminded them of you. If there was a way to show people you care about them, that would be it.
21. Waking up in the middle of the night with a throat dryer than the Sahara Desert and drinking an ice cold sip of water. 
22. The bittersweet feeling when thinking about old friends. "I really loved them...I hope they're happy."
23. Getting a large popcorn at the movie theater because life is too short for small popcorn. Oh and, extra butter please.
24. Aimlessly seeing a movie and feeling really satisfied after. 
25. When you can't think of the name of something or someone and it's on the tip of your tongue...then suddenly, it comes to you. Sweet victory.
26. The day after you do laundry and everything you have is fresh and ready-to-wear. Plus, you know you don't have to do laundry for a while again.
27. Ordering your complicated coffee order and having the barista make your drink perfectly. What better way to start the day? 
28. Successfully completing something that everyone always told you you could never do.
29. Dancing like a maniac at a concert and completing feeling immersed in the moment.
30. When you casually say something and make the entire room laugh hysterically. 
31. Meeting a man that isn't sexist, racist, or homophobic. (Because damn, is that rare or what?)
32. Buying something because you need it and finding out it's on sale as the cashier is checking you out. Bingo. 
33. Remaining soft in a very cruel and harsh world.
34. Seeing words crafted together so beautifully you want to scream them from a rooftop. 

How to Get Free Gift Cards (Like Starbucks) Just By Downloading Apps

not my photo. source

If you're anything like me, you love little ways to make some extra income. We all love getting our main paychecks, but that usually ends up going towards more important things: rent or mortgage, car payments or transit, food, cable / phone, savings, and so much more. It gets to the point where you may even feel guilty for splurging on anything that isn't a necessity.

But when you get money from little side gigs and quick jobs, it goes a long way. That extra income, whether it be 10 dollars or 10,000 dollars, can go towards date night, your favorite concerts, and your morning lattes. You'll feel more comfortable treating yourself.

And if Parks and Rec taught me anything at all, it would be to TREAT. YO. SELF.

That's where FeaturePoints comes in. I started using it a few years ago and literally FELL IN LOVE WITH IT. You can redeem your points on iTunes, Amazon, Starbucks, Xbox, Steam, Google Play, Paypal, and so much more. They're always adding new options, but I usually just end up spending my points on Starbucks. Just for downloading apps in some of my spare time, I get free coffee. Sounds good to me!

So, what you have to do:
All you do is download apps and use them for 2 minutes, then you get points for that. You can delete the apps right away and still keep your points so you don't have to worry about it filling up your storage or anything, either!

Unlike a lot of other apps and sites that claim to give you rewards for surveys / downloads / etc, you can redeem your points for rewards within the first day of using the app. The rewards are extremely attainable.

If you're looking to make some extra money in your spare time, FeaturePoints is a pretty good start. And just for the record, this isn't sponsored. This is NOT an ad. I just felt compelled to share this with you because of how awesome it is.

Start downloading apps and making money right away by clicking this link on your mobile device. Use my referral code: 9D6XCH to get a bonus of 50 points when you sign up! Let me know what you think.

7 Hidden Romantic Comedies You Need to Watch On Netflix

We have ALLLLL been there. You stare at your Netflix homepage. "Ugh, I don't wanna start a whole entire series. I've already watched all the good ones. I don't know if I'm in the mood for anything too serious either, I kind of just wanna chill and eat a tub of ice cream." You know what I'm talking about. You want to watch a romantic comedy.
And let's face it, there are tons of rom-coms to watch on Netflix. But we've seen most of them, considering a good majority of them are classics. Yet sometimes, Legally Blonde or Breakfast at Tiffany's can be too cliche. (I SAID ONLY SOMETIMES.)
Everyone's Netflix front page is different and they're constantly adding and taking away movies. But hey, there's some pretty good films hidden in the search bar! For example, I thought Slow Learners was an easygoing-yet-captivating watch and it NEVER appeared on my front page. 
So as of today, in May 2016, there are these 7 pretty awesome not-so-cliche romantic comedies on Netflix. Don't forget your ice cream. (Or if you're anything like me, a bag of extra flaming hot cheetos.)
1. Liberal Arts

Two people separated by age and location come together by fate, but something doesn't feel right. The two potential lovers learn from each other while writing each other poetic letters and talking about their love for literature. But do they get the happy storybook ending? 
2. Man Up

Who knew getting your identity stolen could be so fun? In Man Up, two very imperfect people come together to realize maybe they aren’t so imperfect after all. 
3. Slow Learners

A high school librarian and guidance counselor are a bit behind on life. They're awkward and bad at the whole dating thing. Together, they change up their look and try to explore the adult world differently, and find all sorts of love along the way.
4. The Holiday

Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz, and Jude Law? The Holiday has become a classic romantic comedy for the ages, and if you haven't seen it yet, now might be the time. Two women switch homes for Christmas vacation, and find what they were looking for all along.
5. Eagle vs. Shark

A fast food worker is absolutely fascinated by a video game store employee. They meet at a "dress as your favorite animal" party and hit things off. (Well, sort of.) The awkward Napoleon-Dynamite-style film will have you feeling nostalgic.
6. 50 First Dates

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore prove that maybe, commitment can be done when you find the right person, even if they have short term memory loss and you have to wow them over and over again.

7. Silver Linings Playbook

Two heartbroken mentally ill people come together to learn and create something great. Maybe being broken isn't that bad when you find someone to heal with.

Quiet, Not Blind

the ghost next to me won't wake up,
the demons in the screen won't pick up
and the ghouls that live above me beat me up.

i'll refresh my email,
again and again.
i'll refresh my words,
just to make sure i was clear.
only to find out i was nothing but spam, junk, trash.

i'd rather be unread and invisible
than read and forgotten.

i didn't know it would come to this, but this is for you:
i'm sorry for congratulating you on your disastrous career. i'm sorry for wishing you a happy birthday when no one else did. i'm sorry for listening when the world silenced you. i'm sorry for writing you novels when everyone else wrote you sentences. i'm sorry for blindly supporting all your choices while everyone else threw rocks at you.

as austen said, "I AM QUIET BUT I AM NOT BLIND."
you didn't get the memo though, did you?

i'll apologize one last time:
i am truly sorry for caring. i am sorry for raining on your desert.
what do i know?
maybe you like living a dry life.

i've gone through enough world war.
i cannot be burdened by your pixelated archive of nothingness.

Feelings I Miss (For Some Odd Reason)

  1. having more text messages and less emails
  2. growing, not backtracking
  3. listening to lana del rey in the summertime
  4. driving on the freeway with my boyfriend
  5. performing on stage with the biggest smile on my face
  6. laying in backyards at night talking about everything
  7. laying in my bed crying more than humanly possible
  8. wearing my lavender tights
  9. getting closure on broken moments
  10. giving people goodbye hugs, knowing they'll miss me
  11. drinking green tea every single day
  12. wearing pearls and lighting candles
  13. looking forward to the future, because i figured it wouldn't be so bland.

did i lose myself somewhere along the way? maybe i just need to do some soul-searching again. i just can't live like this anymore. i'm longing for so much more..and maybe that actually ends up being much less.

until next time.
maria elena