A Few Random Thoughts.

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As the day goes on, I find myself scouring the internet, and more often than not it’s entirely unintentional. It’s more of a checking the e-mail, which leads to a cool link, which triggers another cool link, and so on and so forth until I have ten tabs open and my LapTop is drained and ready for more battery.

I thought that, for today at least, I would share with you some of my finds from today! Hopefully they will enlighten you or tickle your fancy the way they did for me! (I also highly recommend watching the 2013 Movie Trailers! I’m so excited for some good ole Box Office Entertainment.)

20 Movies for the new you of the new year.

Have you ever been misquoted?

Vivienne Westwood and the Climate Revolution.

5 Questions with Alexis Wineman, Miss America’s First Autistic Contestant.

Start the day out right! De-Bloat During Breakfast.

Awesome, blood-sugar quenching recipes.

Desserts with No-Baking Required!

 

 

Veggie Burgers!

Back from my weekend hiatus with a new recipe for you all!

veggie finished

 

Veggie Burgers, as you might have guessed by the post title, are my meal of the day. And I am pretty proud of these guys. I scoured the internet to discover all of the recipes that were a) hassle free, b) incorporated ingredients I already had in my kitchen versus ones that I would buy once and never use again (eh hem… Tahini Sauce for $8-$18! No thank you…) and c) sounded pretty darn tasty to my Veggie Ears.

veggie burgers the mix

After looking through numerous recipes, I discovered about three that incorporated the use of Sweet Potatoes, Quinoa, and Beans! Three of my all time favorites in one stellar burger? Sure! So I decided to take bits and pieces from these recipes and create my own with these three superb ingredients as the base.

veggie finished 2 veggie untopped

Here’s what I came up with:

Simple Veggie Burgers

Ingredients *indicates a note for alternate variations of the recipe.

2 Small Sweet Potatoes (by small I mean the size of my palm, 1 Large sweet potato would work swimmingly)

1/2 C of Quinoa

1/2 C Lentils*

3 T. Finely Chopped Onion (Red or Yellow, whichever you prefer)

1/2 T. Coriander**

1/2 T. Cumin**

1 t. Turmeric**

1 C Add-Ins (Optional)***

*Lentils were my choice, however, there is no reason you couldn’t make these guys work using mashed Chick Peas(Garbonzo Beans) or mashed Pinto Beans, mashed Great Northern, etc. etc. Just make sure you mash them then measure out 1/2 cup.

**These spices, Coriander, Cumin, and Turmeric, were my own choices, however, you could literally use any spices you have available in your pantry. Want a more Italian twist? Try Oregano, Garlic and Basil. Opting for Mediterranean? Have at it with Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, and Garlic. Options=endless.

***Add Ins: Okay, here’s some more recipe freedom for you! I chose to got bare bones on this first go around. That way I could get an idea of what they taste like and what textures would be a good combo. I decided that chopped fresh Kale would be great! Also, chopped fresh red/green/yellow/orange peppers, chopped, mildly steamed carrots, broccoli, celery-anything with a mild crunch, would probably be great. This is what makes this such a fun and easy recipe, you can go with the flow of your fridge! AKA What you already have!

Directions

1. Cook the Quinoa and Lentils (or beans of choice) according to package instructions.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees. While it’s preheating, pop the Sweet Potatoes in the microwave for about 2.5 mins on each side, per potato. (You can bake them any way you like really, I just prefer this quick method). When they are done, remove the skins and scrape the potato into a medium sized mixing bowl, lightly mash them.

3. Chop up any add-ins you would like to use. If you’re going with cruciferous veggies, I would recommend steaming them lightly first, only to the point that they are still mildly crunchy, then chopping them up. If you go Kale or Peppers, I don’t think it so necessary to steam them.

4. Add the Quinoa and the Beans to the Sweat Potato(es) followed by the Add-Ins and finally by any Seasonings you like.

5. Mash all of the ingredients together. You can get down and dirty and use your hands, or you can opt for a fork or spoon method to obtain the desired outcome.

6. Roll the mixture into a fist-sized ball and flatten onto a cookie sheet (I like to line mine with Parchment Paper). The recipe should yield 4 large or 5/6 medium patties. Pop the tray into the oven and set a timer for ten minutes. When the timer buzzes, flip the patties over (caution: this can be tricky as the mixture is a bit crumbly-it’s worth it though!). Close the oven back up and set the timer for 10-12 more minutes, or until the patties reach the desired golden crispiness you prefer.

7. Cool and enjoy! If you are dairy-friendly, use a mild cheese like a provolone or mild white cheddar. Nothing Sharp. If you didn’t add Kale to the mix (or even if you did!) top them with Kale (steamed or fresh) or any other kind of leafy green. I prefer to eat awesome bread like Whole Foods Seeduction bread. Oh man, so tasty! I highly recommend it if you live by a Whole Foods!

Yields 4 Large or 5/6 Medium sized patties.

What would you add or subtract from the recipe? Any Ideas for a growing Homemade Veggie Burger connoisseur such as myself??

 

Super Eating.

I think that the term “Superfood” is entirely overused. Maybe it’s just me, but every time I see an article in a magazine that’s focused on “Superfoods” I role my eyes a little bit.

50-clean-eating-superfoods-

Don’t get me wrong, I still read the articles and see what “Superfoods” are being touted this month. It’s interesting to me that so many of these foods get so much press and fly around health magazines and recipe magazines like wildfire, and yet they are still very misunderstood and under-consumed by, well, the consumer.

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One of my favorite things to do is go grocery shopping! I love the fresh produce section; discovery new delicious and intriguing veggies to add to my cart.

All Lost In the Supermarket.

Kale was, I believe, my first “different” veggie to fall in love with. I eat it regularly and make different salads with it raw, steamed, sauteed….I’ve even tried a fresh, homemade juice with it before! (Yes it turned the drink green, but it was SO good! I honestly would drink it daily if I had a juicer of my very own!)

green-kale

Beets were next-introduced to me by my awesome, innovative dad. I no longer live with my parents, but we talk regularly and one evening I got a call from my mom insisting that my dad had lost his mind and gone Beet-Crazy! (Word to the wise, chopping beets can create quite a mess in the kitchen—it will look like a blood bath, so don’t have a crazed look in your eyes wilst chopping or you’ll garner some odd looks) Anyways, he was going “Beet-Crazy” because he had discovered the amazing properties that beets possess!
Here are a few:
-They provide 18 vitamins and minerals including: Potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron; vitamins A, B & C; beta-carotene, beta-cyanine; folic acid. WOWsers.
-They act as a natural, no starvation required cleanse for the toxins in your body. They clear out the liver and purify the blood, and act as a natural means of lower stomach acidity. Some even hold them up as cancer-preventative agents. (Much like Kale!)
-They are low in calories but provide energy from the “healthy” sugars they contain (stop being afraid of sugars people! Everything in moderation.) so they are the perfect thing for someone with one of those stellar new years resolutions. 😉
**BONUS** they are the perfect topping for a Kale and Spinach Salad; their juices act like a light vinaigrette even. I highly recommend it.

IMG_5452 beets

Quinoa is by far my favorite discovery of all! For a vegetarian, I feel it is an essential grain. Learning how to perfect the cooking method with my limited types of pots (which is one pot…that’s not ideal for quinoa cooking) but I experimented and perfected it! Now, I just need to graduate from college, get a big-girl job, and earn an amazing Le Creuset Pot!! Yes, please.

And as far as Quinoa goes, well that’s just the thing! It can go as far as you want to take it! I mean it, you can try virtually anything with it because it’s the perfect base for all sorts of sauces, any and all veggies, and you can even treat it as a new, higher protein version of traditional oatmeal! Yep, just toss in some berries, cinnamon, and a dash of ginger, top it with some slivered almonds or walnuts and you’ve got a SuperBreakfast!

As for it’s benefits?
-HIGH protein
-9 Essential Amino Acids
-High in Fiber and Magnesium
-Quinoa is close to one of the most complete foods in nature because it contains amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. –BodyEcology.com.

quinoa-22

There you have it! These are only a few of my personal favorites, but I also believe that these three are probably the easiest to incorporate into your pre-existing diet. They are all simple, and yet so powerful! Easy to purchase, cook, and there are so many ways to enjoy them and experiment with cooking (mayhaps even baking?!) them that there’s just no excuse to not try! So ENJOY! Be adventurous at the supermarket. Take a walk on the granola-eating, veggie lovin’, hippie side. You’re body will appreciate it.

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Quintessential Livelihood

Long ago, when people believed that the earth was made up of four elements—earth, air, fire, and water—they thought the stars and planets were made up of yet another element. In the Middle Ages, people called this element by its Medieval Latin name, “quinta essentia,” literally, “fifth essence.” Our forebears believed the quinta essentia was essential to all kinds of matter, and if they could somehow isolate it, it would cure all disease. We have since given up on that idea, but we kept “quintessence,” the offspring of “quinta essentia,” as a word for the purest essence of a thing. Some modern physicists have given “quintessence” a new twist—they use it for a form of so-called “dark energy,” which is believed to make up 70 percent of the universe.

 

Thanks to my handy-dandy Merriam-Webster iPhone App and it’s Daily Word feature, I was enlightened by this very interesting dig into the history of the word “Quintessence.”

Isn’t it a lovely picture this history has painted, too?

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I don’t know much about the medical field other than that I have nothing but the utmost respect for all of those out there conducting research and finding cures to disease and cancer. However, the core of my being relies on the attempt to not pump my body with man-made chemicals and instead to rely on the “old-school,” dare I say “hippie” ailment remedies. gaia_rings

And, quite frankly, while I think those Middle Agers were over-shooting a bit when they concluded that harnessing stella-lunar power would cure all diseases, I do think that they were on to something that was lost over time. I think that people jump too quickly at the chance to “trick” nature or mask it and pretend it isn’t there by disguising the pains by way of modern medicines. Instead of taking this route, I think it’s important to first go back to the quintessence of one’s body and mind to see if there is something somewhat more simple that’s the underlying cause of the problem at hand. For instance, I happen to be pretty anemic. I tend to fall under deep lethargy and sometimes feel achey and flu-like due to my iron dropping too low. I came to realize that if I ate large amounts of spinach and other high-iron, vegetarian-friendly foods, I was cured in a jiffy. This can also be said of my admittedly bad knee and hip (I really shouldn’t run, but it’s such a great release!). When they ache, I find that not only a dose of vegetarian Glucosamine can help, but adding flax, turmeric and ginger to my meals, can be extremely beneficial.

The next time you’re feeling achey and low, maybe try checking out a homeopathic, cheaper cure to what ails you! What do you think..?

I’m Strong til the Finich, ‘Cause I eats me Spinach

Popeye had it right; Spinach comes packed with a whopping punch of 36% (6.43mg) Iron per cup (180g) when cooked/boiled without salt.

And while it’s great for many a reason to eat your Spinach, it’s beneficial to think outside the spinach box to find nutritional rather than supplemental ways to get enough iron. It’s extremely important to make sure your iron levels are in check, especially for us girls, and especially for us veggies! I, personally, suffer from anemia and I can always tell when my iron levels are low. I become extremely lethargic, I crave ice and, yes, spinach, and I also have a strange metal-esque taste and feeling in my mouth. It’s not fun. And It’s not necessary either!!

You may already know that there are a multitude of fods that are high in iron and yet acceptable for veg-heads. BUT did you know that there are actually means of COOKING that can affect the amount of iron your body consumes?! I didn’t either. And I was extremely intrigued by the Shape posting about cooking in Cast Iron Pans. According to the posting, “Women should aim to get 15mg iron a day (quite true), so use your cast iron skillet to prepare iron-rich foods such as lean beef, fish, and poultry. **Bonus: You’ll avoid all the carcinogenic toxins found in many non-stick pan coatings (TOTAL bonus!!).” 

But what happens? What gets added to one’s food when cooked via Cast Iron skillet??

Acidic and watery foods (like spinach and other leafy greens or fish for those pescotarians out there) absorb the iron molecules from the cast iron pan/skillet.

Researchers published a study in the July 1986 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and showed that cooking in cast iron skillets added significant amounts of iron to 20 foods tested. For example, the researchers reported that the iron content in scrambled eggs increased from 1.49 mg to 4.76 mg of iron. Pretty amazing huh?? They also found that the iron in one serving of tomato sauce increased from under one milligram to almost 6 mg when cooked in an iron pan. Most surprising, though, is applesauce. A 100-gram serving (about a quarter of a pound) went from .35 mg of iron to over 7 mg when cooked in cast iron! I need to get me a Cast Iron Pan!

A few things to keep in mind:

The longer you use your pan, the more build up of a fatty layer will develop. It’s still safe and healthy to use your pan, as a matter of fact, chefs believe it enhances flavor! However it decreases the amount of iron transferred from the pan, so don’t rely just on the pan! 

Also, beware of cooking your food too long. Eventually, if left long enough, more than just iron will be transferred. A yucky, metally taste will come along too. Never fun.

And a few more tips via Dr. Weil:

“One caveat about cast iron cookware: don’t use it for deep-frying. (You shouldn’t deep-fry anyway.) Iron can accelerate the oxidation of fat and cause it to become rancid.

When choosing iron cookware, look for products with a fine, smooth surface, which will take better to seasoning. Avoid pots and pans with pits, ridges, cracks, chips, seams and jagged edges. Good quality cast iron is uniformly gray and the same color inside and out.”

 

Scrumdidilyumptious Apple Oatmeal Cookies!

   

Two of my very favorite snacks include Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and Apples. When I found this recipes online (via FitSugar-by way of Pinterest of course!) I had to give it a try! These bodacious cookies are a delight to the tastebuds, and actually quite healthy for you! The recipe incorporates Flax Meal, Apples, and Cinnamon (cinnamon was my own addition—I decided upon it because I was all out of Vanilla Extract and in my mind, when Apple meets Cinnamon, one cannot go wrong.

The Flax Meal comes loaded with Fiber-soluble and insoluble; it has a great dose of Omega-3’s (something that is a bit more difficult for vegetarians to come across); and, another little known benefit of the mighty Flax is that it is an abundant source of Lignans. Lignans have both plant estrogen and antioxidant effects on our bodies. They could be cancer fighting and preventing agents.

Alright, now on to the Recipe!!

Apple Oatmeal Flax Cookies
[as inspired by: http://www.fitsugar.com/Healthy-Recipe-Apple-Oatmeal-Flax-Cookies-5324399]

Ingredients:


1.5 cups Whole Wheat Flour

1/4 cup Flax meal (ground flax seed)

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 tablespoon Cinnamon

1 pinch salt (I’m not a big fan of adding too much salt so I used less than the teaspoon the original recipe called for.)

1 cup Canola Oil/Vegetable Oil/or any form of Cooking & Baking Oil you deem perfect.

1 cup Turbinado Sugar (or any form of sugar you please.)

egg whites

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (not 100% necessary, especially if you use the cinnamon.)

2 cups Whole Grain Quick Oats

2 Small to Medium Apples, Peeled and Chopped

1 cup of any of the following add ins (totally optional suggestions! Feel free to get creative and think of your own!) Chopped Walnuts, Sliced Almonds, Raisins, Dark Chocolate Chips, Carob Chips, Pumpkin Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Chia Seeds, Chopped Dates, etc. etc.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix the flour, flax meal, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate, larger bowl, beat together oil, sugar, eggs, and (if you added it) Vanilla Extract  until fluffy. Stir in the oats, apples, flour mixture, and nuts/add-in option.
  4. Spoon out cookies onto a non-stick cookie sheet. Cook 10-15 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown. (It took my oven 15 mins on the nose, but ovens vary so keep an eye and nose on the lookout) Place cookies on a cooling rack. Enjoy!!

The Omega-3 Debate

Recently, there has been talk about the possible bad side effects of supplementing with Omega-3‘s as well as the “31 percent of omega-3 supplements failing to live up to their claims.”  The thing that gets me is, a “supplement” is just that, a (typically) swallowable pill that adds to one’s diet what they either are, or think they are missing. Can one not simply amp up their diet and forego the unpleasantries of swallowing horse pills each morning??

Not long ago, I dove head first into writing a scientific research paper that looked at the effects of one’s diet on their auto-immune systems (focusing on Arthritis and joint inflammation). Throughout my research, I found that the Mediterranean diet was the cream of the crop, tip of the top diet for not only those suffering from auto immune disorders such as Arthritis, but also in a general lifestyle way too. 

Why is this? Well the Mediterranean Diet consists of a lifestyle in which nothing is cut out (dark chocolate and wine can still make you feel fine!) and everything that is eaten, is fresh, natural, organic, and of course, moderation is key. Another key aspect of this diet is the amount of naturally occurring Omega-3’s that are consumed.

 

“What?” You say. “Omega-3 doesn’t sound tasty and delicious, speak English please.”

Omega-3’s are essential Fatty Acids that our bodies need in order for us to function properly and live our lives from day to day. Because our bodies do not produce them naturally (hence the reference “essential” attached to their definition) we must consume them in our diets, particularly Omega-3’s in the form of EPA and DHA. The primary food source is fish, though flax (try some delish Flax Seed enhanced Pancakes for one stellar breakfast!) and algae oil have been newly discovered to help those of us who don’t eat fish. And who consumes a substantial amount of fish in their typical diet? Oh yes, you guessed it, those Mediterranean smarties.

 

What’s so wrong with being a proud American consuming a stereotypically proud American diet of corn-based and processed foods? Why I think I answered my own question there…but in case I didn’t:


One’s diet should maintain a fine balance between those Omega-3 essential fatty acids and Omega-6 essential fatty acids. (The recommended balance is a 2:1, Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio; the average American ratio is more like 15 or 16:1- WOAH nelly.) Omega-6 essential fatty acids are yet another essential to the healthy functioning of our day-to-day lives, however these fatty acids are derived, in majority, from vegetable oils, including safflower, soybean, and in particular, corn oils. For this reason, Americans, who rely a great deal on corn based, well, everything, are giving their diets a pretty big disadvantage as far as that “happy functioning” state goes.

Sure, our bodies adapt and learn how to function at a seemingly happy state, but throw in the typical wear and tear that comes with aging, and suddenly ailments set in. For this reason, it’s my own opinion that we should start to head towards a more balance fatty acid ratio. I mean, dark chocolate and wine are still allowed! Why would you say no!?


(A personal favorite of mine: Dreaming Tree Wine.)


(Brookside Dark Chocolate Pomegrante/Acai/Goji-all tried and true kitchen companions. :})

Calcium Conundrum

From the time I was very young-we’re talking before I had the ability to consume most solid foods-I have never liked or reacted positively to drinking milk. Of any form. Whole, 2%, 1%, Skim, Almond, Rice, Soy, etc. etc. none of them have ever been a pleaser to my pallet.

Because of this, getting enough Calcium in my diet has been a worry of mine for quite some time now. I mean, I am rather short and small boned–could this be a direct relation to my intentional avoiding of the white, creamy liquid every child is encouraged to drink? Or maybe it’s just the way I am. (The latter excuse is the one I typically use.) Regardless, I worry.

Also, there has been a lot of buzz recently about the amazing abilities of Chocolate Milk:

“The combination of carbohydrates and protein in low-fat chocolate milk appears to be “just right” for refueling weary muscles, says William Lunn, PhD, an exercise scientist at the University of Connecticut. “It’s not just a dessert item, but it’s very healthy, especially for endurance athletes,” Lunn tells WebMD.”

There was a study done in which athletes’ muscles were tested to see how they responded to Non-Fat Chocolate Milk versus Traditional Sports Drinks:

Post-exercise muscle biopsies showed increased skeletal muscle protein synthesis — a sign that muscles were better able to rebuild — after the milk drink, compared with the carb-only beverage. Additionally, drinking fat-free chocolate milk led to a higher concentration of glycogen, or muscle fuel, in muscles 30 and 60 minutes after exercise, compared with the sports drink. Replenishing glycogen after exercise helps future performance, Lunn says.

Seems like a pretty great reason for someone who’s active and constantly on the go to invest their body in some healing and healthy milk, doesn’t it?! But I just don’t like milk! Nor does my body seem to respond in a happy way to consuming too milk or too much yogurt. It’s as if I’m borderline Lactose intolerant.

As a vegetarian, this just seems to add to the constant schooling I have to do in order to stay on top of the whole “having a healthy body, inside and out” thing. Pff.

However, as a vegetarian, I am happy to inform you that obtaining Calcium from milk is the BEST way to get calcium, is actually a myth. According to the British journalist Anne Karpf, who exhaustively explored the problems with milk for the British paper The Guardian, “American women are among the biggest consumers of calcium in the world, yet still have one of the highest levels of osteoporosis in the world…Most Chinese people eat and drink no dairy products and consume only half the calcium of Americans…yet osteoporosis is uncommon in China despite an average life expectancy of 70.” She goes on to propose that the bone loss and deteriorating bone tissue that take place in osteoporosis are due not to calcium deficiency but rather to its resorption: it’s not that our bodies don’t get enough calcium, rather that they excrete too much of what they already have.

{source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2003/dec/13/foodanddrink.weekend}

There are NUMEROUS ways for us to get calcium. By us, I mean anyone and everyone-not dependent on if they eat meats or drink their milk! For instance, those Dark Leafy Greens the doc is always pushing? Well guess what! They are teeming with phytochemicals like beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin as well as iron, CALCIUM, folate, potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamins A, C, and K, all this while also preventing macular degeneration, ensuring bone and joint health, preventing various types of cancer  reducing the risk of diabetes. Some lesser known contenders to add to your recipes are kale, kohlrabi, fennel, bok choy, mustard and beet greens!

  

AND a few other common Calcium obtainers to look into:

  • Almonds, dry roasted (1 oz. = 80 mg)
  • White beans (1 cup = 226 mg)
  • Broccoli, cooked (1 cup = 132 mg)
  • Brussel Sprouts (1 cup = 128 mg)
  • Kale, cooked (1 cup = 204 mg)
  • Collard greens, cooked (1 cup = 356 mg) More than a glass of milk!! That’s right!

And because I hate to leave you bored with just info, here are a few fun recipes for your fancy:
9 Homemade Milk-Alternative Recipes

Vegan Fudgey-Strawberry Pops!

Holy Avocado, Batman!

I recently posted about the woes of a bicycle commuter and how nourishment is most certainly key to the whole experience. I laid out a basic day of meals that I consider to be the perfect nutrition for my person. However, I did not put NEAR enough emphasis on my absolute adoration for the Avocado. And thus, this post was born. Or rather, is being born as it flows from my finger tips to the screen and eventually to you…

avocado

The avocado-known to lower bad cholesterol while packing potassium, B vitamins and fiber, and no sodium or cholesterol-is delicious and the perfect addition to a great many number of meals. (Think smoothies, wraps, eggs, sandwiches, rice bowls, burgers, pastas, pizzas, quesadillas, etc.) Just type in “Avocado” to Pinterest and you’ll find a million and 1 variations on meals involving the green beauty.

Avocado Pie

Even an Avocado Pie!! Imagine that. (pictured above)

Avocados-AKA Alligator Pears-were once considered a luxury food, reserved only for royalty and those wealthy enough to buy them. Nowadays, anyone can enjoy in their nutritious value. They are actually a fruit, disguised by their green skin, and are a typical dessert in most South American and Island cultures.

The typical avocado we see and buy at the grocery store is the Hass Avocado. However, Hass, being the most popular variety state-side, is not the only one.

<- this Poster depicts the varieties easily found in Hawaii alone.

Here are just a few of the marvelous recipes I’ve tried and love, that feature this marvelous little fruit…

An absolute classic-everyone’s favorite (and most people don’t even know they’re eating an Avocado! ha!) The Barefoot Contessa’s Guac:

Guac

Yummmmm…Baked Avocado Salsa:

Av-Salsa

Sounds strange, but it’s pleasantly delightful! Basil, Peach and Avocado Wrap:

summer wrap

Mmm-Mmm scones…Avocado Scones:

Scones