All posts by Brennah Dallaire

Flexible Eating: The New Calorie Counting

by Christie Stelly

Is it really possible to lose weight while indulging in junk food? Yes it IS possible… kind of.

Diets typically include restrictions, meaning you are required to eat certain types of “healthy” foods and stay away from the ones that likely made you diet in the first place.

There is a new diet  program in the fitness industry called “if it fits your macros (IIFYM),” also known as “flexible dieting.” I first encountered flexible dieting two years ago and it has created a healthy relationship with food that I never thought I’d have.

It is no secret that America has an obesity epidemic and diets are part of the reason why. Researchers at UCLA have discovered that dieting can actually be more harmful than beneficial.

“You can initially lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight on any number of diets, but then the weight comes back,” Traci Mann, associate professor of psychology at UCLA, said in a statement.

“We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or healthy benefits for the majority of people,” Mann said.

One of the reasons why people cannot stick to diets is because they are unsustainable and unrealistic. For example, the Atkins diet claims on their website that a low carb lifestyle is the best way to lose weight.

No carb or low carb diets may work for some people in certain circumstances but overall they are not sustainable for the majority of people. Even if someone sticks to this diet for a month or two, they will most likely end up going back to their old habits and gaining even more weight.

“Eating in moderation is a good idea for everybody, and so is regular exercise,” Mann said.

This is where flexible dieting comes into the picture. The IIFYM “diet” focuses on the three energy sources our bodies use to function properly: carbohydrates, fats and protein.  IIFYM is considered by some to be a step up from typical calorie counting.

An individual who is practicing flexible dieting would be given a percentage of each macronutrient to eat per day based on their goals. Each day they will track their food to ensure they reach a daily calorie goal.

According to The Washington Post, “you’ll start by aiming to get one gram of protein for every pound you weigh. Then based on whether you are naturally slim or tend to store more fat, you’ll adjust your calories from fat to be 25-35 percent of your daily energy. Carbs will make up the rest of your calories.”

You can calculate your macros online by going to Keep in mind that these numbers are an estimate.

MyFitnessPal is a great application that both Apple and Android users can take advantage of. It is free and allows you to track your food, water intake, weight, measurements and overall progress. The premium version of the application ($50/year) will allow you to track your specific macronutrients.

Advocates of flexible dieting claim that a calorie is just a calorie and other experts disagree, saying a 300-calorie piece of cake and 300-calorie piece of meat have two different effects on your weight loss results.

The whole purpose behind flexible dieting is to have a balance between healthy foods and the occasional treat. For example, coworkers are celebrating a birthday with cake. Instead of being the only person not to enjoy a slice, with flexible eating you can indulge a bit. Plan the rest of of your meals for the day around it. Choose healthier options, lower in fat and carbs. Instead of feeling guilty about enjoying a piece of cake with friends, you can go about your day feeling good about staying on track while keeping balance and moderation in mind.

In order for you to reach your weight loss goals and keep the weight off, lifestyle changes must be made. That is why macro-counting has worked for me, as well as so many others across the world.

Once a person becomes familiar with tracking their food, they can typically move to a more intuitive style of eating if they wish to do so. Flexible dieting has allowed many people to take their lives back when it comes to their up-and-down relationship with diet and food.

According to The Washington Post, “there isn’t a single diet that works for everyone, so seeing a dietitian for individualized advice is a great idea.”

Consult your doctor before making any extreme changes to your diet.

Balkaran Releases Book Six “Before We Were Called Hispanics”

by Brennah Dallaire

Central Connecticut State University philosophy professor Stephen Balkaran has released his sixth book, “Before We Were Called Hispanics: Conversations On Race, Politics and Immigration Reform.”

“I feel a calling to raise America’s conscience, that we are a nation of immigrants, we will always be a nation of immigrants, we have always had anti-immigrant sentiments and I think we need to stop that and look at the positive aspects of immigration,” Balkaran said.

The focus of the book is to bring awareness to readers about the role of hispanic culture in America stemming back as far as the 1500s. The current political landscape has negated the positive impact Hispanic people have made in the United States. The Hispanic community has continued to be a pawn in politics since the presidential election in 2008. “Before We Were Called Hispanics” features topics of civil rights and human rights and seeks to start a conversation regarding the role of hispanic immigration in the United States.

“One of the most divisive topics I’ve written about extensively on is called immigration. Immigration has divided the nation across racial lines, ethic lines, unheard of in American history. I felt that the anti-Hispanic movement in this country, building a wall, has really divided who we are and taken away the best of what we are, as Americans… we are all human beings,” Balkaran said.

“An Open Letter from Undocumented Immigrants: Why Comprehensive Immigration Reform Still Matters to All of Us” was featured in the Harvard Kennedy School’s Journal of Hispanic Policy in July of 2017 and is featured as the ninth chapter of his newest book. Below is an excerpt from Chapter Nine of “Before We Were Called Hispanics: Conversations On Race, Politics and Immigration Reform”.

The comprehensive immigration reform debate goes far beyond the typical discussions on the loss of jobs, draining on our social system, criminals, etc. It has now vested in “building a wall.” The economic, political, and social clout of current immigrants is far more beneficial than portrayed to the nation by our media, immigration critics, and politicians. Whatever the debates, our values, tradition of welcoming immigrants, and Americanism will be tested with how we approach and legislate the new comprehensive immigration reform laws. This complicated, but imperative public policy must be achieved by the new presidential administration for a number of reasons. It is imperative this legislation be passed in a humanistic, sensitive, and compelling way that illustrates our American values of embracing diversity and inclusion of all. Embodied in this reform legislation, one must be cautious, compassionate, and not forget the watchwords of our immigrant history and our nation: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

First and foremost, comprehensive immigration reform must be conducted in a humanistic way that champions human rights and diversity. As the leader of the democratic free world, history reminds us of our vast atrocities of human rights violations: slavery, the Trail of Tears, the Mexican Repatriation Act, and last, but definitely not least, Japanese internment. Can we conclude, then if American history doomed to repeat itself? If human rights becomes the center of the debates, how do we address families who have lived here undocumented for decades, and their children growing up in American communities, who have established friends, loyalty, and community relationships? This legislation must be done in a humanistic way that takes precedence over our recent abrasive political rhetoric emanating mostly from frustrated Americans. We must be cautious and vigilant on how we plan to address immigrants, America’s greatest resource; it must be done with an approach filled with love and compassion. The breaking up and removal of families who have solidi- ed their roots here is un-American, unconstitutional, and it is not what we stand for as a country that professes tolerance, diversity, and acceptance.

As we delve deep into the waters of American patriotism, the cultural backlash that takes credence is founded on the philosophy many undocumented immigrants are unpatriotic toward America’s culture and refuse to be American. Hence, one would question what is or is not American? Is there a threshold to gauge our Americanism? This debate has not only generated dialogue about the continued role Americanism plays in our society, but has also posed the question of whether undocumented immigrants are truly committed to the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” The issue should not be whether undocumented immigrants are loyal to America. That question was answered when undocumented men and women signed up and served in America’s military, fighting to protect and promote democracy throughout the world for a country that has remained uncommitted to them. It must be noted that some 38,000 military officials serving in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were not American citizens. In fact, history has forgotten that Lance. Cpl. Jose Gutierrez became one of the first casualties in Iraq. He illegally came to America and died serving America’s cause. Hence, the question is not if undocumented immigrants are loyal to America, but rather, can America live up to its rich tradition of welcoming immigrants in a fair and impartial way?

Secondly, the debate has turned to the economic impact of undocumented immigrants on American society. These economic arguments have been debunked by many economic pundits on the grounds that undocumented immigrants do not undercut wages, are not a drain on social services, and don’t take jobs that would otherwise go to Americans. The majority of undocumented immigrants are unskilled and thus never pose any economic threat for skilled jobs secured by legal residents or American citizens. In fact, economists have stated that undocumented workers actually compliment the economy and it’s the driving force behind our nation’s economic growth and prosperity.

In an interesting report released by the Social Security Administration in 2013, Stephen Goss, chief actuary, claimed undocumented workers contribute about $15 billion a year to social security through payroll taxes. On the flip side, Goss also commented these undocumented immigrants only receive about $1 billion since many of them are not eligible to receive benefits into which they paid. What is more astonishing, Goss noted in an interview for the New York Times that undocumented immigrants have contributed up to $300 billion, or nearly 10 percent, of the $2.7 trillion of the nation’s social security trust fund. In other words, their economic contribution and benefits to society far outreach many of the criticism undocumented immigrants face. The need to reach a humane solution on this immigration nightmare will ultimately benefit all Americans. Hence, there is a need to create a legal path to twelve million residents enabling them to come out of the shadows of despair in order to continue contributing to the American economic pie in a fair and just way that benefits all.

Last, and by no means least, the center of the argument is the breaking and outright disregard of American laws about undocumented immigrants—after all, we are a nation of laws. I do concur that our laws are to be respected, acknowledged, and obeyed by all. As American patriot, reverend, and civil rights activist Dr. Martin L. King Jr. noted, there are two types of laws: just laws and unjust laws. King further elaborated one has not only a legal, but also a moral responsibility to obey just laws, “but conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” I must remind the American masses that slavery, racism, the removal of Native Americans from their land, and Jim Crow segregation in American society were all legal. King, his non-violence movement for civil rights, and the abolitionist movement in southern states were considered illegal in the eyes of the law.

Seldom do I ever pause and critique our legal process, but Americans openly voiced their disgust on undocumented immigrants’ willingness to break our laws. Yet, we refuse to critique unjust laws and customs that haunt our national history. It becomes paradoxical in our society when many of our laws that have perpetuated our ignorance and hatred toward others are obeyed and respected throughout our history. When we openly advocate obeying and disobeying laws in place to maintain law, order, and stability, but fail to question the validity of those laws, we ultimately become immune to the hatred we create.

As long as we have double standards in our society, and as long as President Donald J. Trump and other billionaires insist they avoid paying taxes by legally exploiting tax loopholes, our legal integrity and our laws must be examined. As long as there is criticism on undocumented immigrants for not paying their fair share of taxes, while Americans remain silent as our president and other billionaires fail to pay federal taxes, we have the right to question the integrity of our laws.

America is only as great as the doors and opportunities we open to others. Comprehensive immigration reform matters because America matters. Our nation’s trajectory is at stake. Immigration and America go hand in hand and without each other, there can be no true immigrant nation. Success in America is not determined by our ethnic background or our native language, but rather, our commitment and dedication that is so much part of our past and present immigrants. American history will remind us oppression takes away the best of who we are and what we can become as a nation. America’s passion of including all that choose to come here is the cornerstone of our history, democracy, and constitutionalism. Without this inclusiveness of all ethnic groups, the American Dream would not be possible.

“Before We Were Called Hispanics: Conversations On Race, Politics and Immigration Reform” is available at the CCSU bookstore.

Pink Party Kicks Off Breast Cancer Awareness Month

by Brennah Dallaire

The Hartford Courant hosted the Sixth Annual Pink Party at West Hartford’s Blue Back Square on Thursday. The fundraiser benefits Susan G. Komen New England and supports breast cancer care,  research and awareness.

“The money we raise goes to help Connecticut residents, and finding those cures, and helping our neighbors,” said Jessica Fisher,
associate director of communications at Susan G. Komen New England.

According to Fisher, 75 percent of the money donated to Susan G. Komen New England will be given out as grants to local organizations to be used for screening and diagnostic services as well as other services. The other 25 percent will go to research.

According to Fisher, the Pink Party is an opportunity for survivors to network with other survivors, create friendships and kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Connecticut.

Attendees donning pink apparel began to gather at Blue Back Square just before the  event was scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m. Exhibitors set up pink tents along Isham Road and the parking lot located behind The Cheesecake Factory. The event featured a pink carpet, hydration station, raffles and freebies from exhibitors. Pink Party T-shirts and raffles were sold as fundraising tools.

The main event of the night, the Breast Cancer Survivors Fashion Show began at 6 p.m. just after a performance by the Nutmeg Ballet Conservatory. Women surviving breast cancer, as young as 24 years old, strutted their stuff, wearing clothes donated by BK & Co. with makeup and hair styling donated by Blo Blow Dry Bar and Gulgiotti’s Salon and and Spa.

Nora’s Cupcakes gave away coconut, chocolate and raspberry cupcakes with pink decorations to celebrate the night. Bar Louie and World of Beer provided free appetizers to guests and The Cheesecake Factory gave away pumpkin cheesecake samples. The Shaded Soul band performed. Thistle + Reed, a mobile clothing store set, up shop for guests of the event.

“When we first started, one of the avenues that we wanted to pursue was giving back to our local communities and supporting our local communities… since I was fourteen I’ve starting doing breast cancer walks so it’s been a part of my life,” Marisa O’Brien, co-owner of Thistle + Reed said.

Towana Haynes, director of operations at Radiology Associates of Hartford has a few tips for Central Connecticut State University Students about breast cancer awareness and preventative care.

  1. Stay up to date on check-ups with your physician.
  2. Be proactive in your health. If you have a concern bring it up to your doctor. Women and men in their 20s are not immune to breast cancer.
  3. Women, beginning at age 35, should schedule a mammogram. You are also eligible for a mammogram 10 years prior to a parents diagnosis of breast cancer. (Ex. If a parent was diagnosed at 30 years old, you are eligible at 20 years old.)
  4. Self exams are important and can be done in the shower, after the shower or lying down.
  5. Be aware of your body and any abnormal changes to your breasts and armpit area.

The Susan G. Komen website also recommends asking your doctor about BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. Women with this inherited gene mutation are more likely to develop breast cancer.

If you are interested in getting involved during Breast Cancer Awareness Month there are plenty of local events. Bar Louie West Hartford is hosting “Slay Then Chardonnay” on Oct. 12, a party benefitting breast cancer research. The American Cancer Society is hosting the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Oct. 18 at Bushnell Park, Hartford. Bra maker Wacoal is donating $2 to Susan G. Komen for every bra fitting done at Macy’s Westfarms on Oct. 11 and an additional $2 from every bra sold. Susan G. Komen will also be hosting a breast cancer symposium in New Haven on Nov. 17.

If you have any questions regarding breast health or breast cancer you can call the American Cancer Society’s 24/7 hotline 800-227-2345.

Mangiamo La Pasta!

by Brennah Dallaire

Let’s eat pasta!

Mark your calendars for National Pasta Day on Tuesday, Oct. 17. Go out, stay in, cook with friends, but whatever you do celebrate this holiday will a delicious dish of your favorite pasta.

According to there are over 600 types of pasta. A few of the most famous types includes spaghetti, rigatoni, ravioli, penne, linguini and tortellini. In Italian, pasta is the word for dough and was adapted to describe what we know as the noodle course.

In Italy, pasta is eaten as a course of a meal but not the main entree as we typically eat it in the United States. Many pasta enthusiasts belief that pasta was invented by Marco Polo. However, reports that the earliest pasta recipe was found in the will of a man named Ponzio Bastone in 1279. According to this account, Bastone included a simple recipe of water and flour to create macaroni.

It wasn’t until Thomas Jefferson served as an ambassador in France in 1789, that he was served pasta and enjoyed it so much that he brought the first pasta machine to America. Americans didn’t know how much they were missing out.

Connecticut food blog,  ctfoodlovers has featured local restaurants gourmet pasta dishes including:

  • Fettuccini Alfredo from Fratelli’s, Southington,
  • Baked Penne Macaroni & Cheese from The Corner Pug, West Hartford
  • Fresh Bucatini Marinara with “Giant Meatballs” from Blue Plate Kitchen, West Hartford
  • Spaghetti & Meatballs from Joe Pizza, Simsbury
  • Rigatoni Bolognese from Carbone’s, Hartford.

If you’re looking for something close to campus, look no further than Tony’s Central Pizza. Tony’s offers a range of Italian dinners that all include pasta. Options include ravioli, manicotti, baked ziti, eggplant parmesan and more.

If you are interested in indulging your palate, take a trip to Alta Strada, located in the Fox Tower at Foxwoods Resort and Casino. The restaurant makes their pasta fresh daily. The prices per entree range from $19-$30. OpenTable and TripAdvisor reviews give Alta Strada four out of five stars, while Yelp reviews give the restaurant a modest three stars. According to the restaurant’s website, “Alta Strada is considered one of the best, most authentic Italian restaurants in CT.”

Celebrating National Pasta Day doesn’t have to mean eating out. Celebrate the holiday by cooking at home. You don’t necessarily need a pasta machine to enjoy your favorite dish. Below is a recipe for “Tagliatelle alla Bolognese” adapted from the Eataly recipe found at


1 pound dried or fresh Tagliatelle pasta

2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 small carrot, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
4 ounces (1/4 lb) ground veal
4 ounces (1/4 lb) ground pork
4 ounces (1/4 lb) ground beef
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken or beef stock
Fine sea salt, to taste


In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent (5 minutes). Add the carrot, celery and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant, for about 2 minutes.

Combine the veal, pork and beef in the pot. Season with fine sea salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat has rendered most of its fat and has started to brown (5 minutes). Remove some of the rendered fat leaving just enough to cover the bottom of the pan (lean meats will render less).

Add the wine, and increase the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated (6 minutes).

Decrease the heat to low, add the tomato paste, stir to combine and cook, stirring frequently (20 minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the stock and adjust the heat to simmer until the stock has reduced but the sauce is still moist (about 45 minutes). Taste the sauce, adjust the seasoning if necessary and remove from the heat.

Remember the best way to eat pasta is to enjoy it with friends and family. Mangia e goditi! Eat and enjoy!

K-Pop Group BTS Trends In U.S.

by Kristina Vakhman

Korean pop (K-Pop) music continues to trend in the United States, with BTS’s music video for the song “DNA” topping charts on Youtube and iTunes. The groups success highlights the continued globalization of music and a diversification of the music industry.

BTS’s album “Love Yourself: Her” dropped on Sept. 18. The music video for “DNA” amassed approximately 21 million views in 24 hours, breaking the record for the most viewed K-Pop video in that timeframe. The album was No.1 on iTunes in 72 countries upon release, including the U.S. BTS’ sales smashed the record for the most pre-ordered K-Pop album, with over 1 million copies sold prior to the official release date.

The band made history earlier this year when they became the first K-Pop band to win a Billboard Music Top Social Artist Award, beating out pop superstars like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, becoming the first act to surpass 300 million votes in a fan-voted award.

BTS’ success both in South Korea and internationally is just one part of the monumental, worldwide phenomenon of music transcending borders and language barriers to seep into foreign spotlights. While there’s no denying that international artists have made their way into the global market before with overwhelmingly positive outcomes, English has generally been a required ingredient, or at least a preference, for success. It is easier to appeal to a wider audience with English, as people are more comfortable enjoying something that has a sense of familiarity, even if it is a language.

Over the last several years, non-English music has gained international audiences with the help of Internet-based platforms like YouTube and iTunes. One of the most notable and ‘trendiest’ songs of the last decade to come from overseas was Korean artist PSY’s “Gangnam Style,” which held the spot of the most-viewed video on YouTube for almost five years. It currently has over 2.9 billion views.

“Gangnam Style” was eventually surpassed by Wiz Khalifa’s and Charlie Puth’s video for “See You Again”. However, it wasn’t a month before “Despacito” by Puerto Rican artist, Luis Fonsi, soared to the top of YouTube’s most-viewed videos list. The hit single boasts nearly four billion views. The song itself has broken the record for the most weeks at No. 1 for a primarily non-English song on the Billboard Hot 100, and the video is now the most streamed music video ever.

This shift of listeners and watchers exploring musical content that doesn’t necessarily resemble what they’ve been exposed to their entire lives, is likely to continue. “Despacito” proceeds with inflating its enormous view count on YouTube. BTS is a group who could easily become a household name here in the States with how much recognition they’ve been receiving in the music community, as evident by their newest album’s success and the willingness of U.S. artists to collaborate with them.

The next “Despacito” could be another non-English work that has been imported from an overseas label for foreign listeners to groove to. Not understanding a single word shouldn’t deter individuals from appreciating the beat, rhythm, visuals or the effort.

Like other forms of art, comprehension isn’t a necessity. That is why painters do not tell those who look at their masterpieces how they should interpret it. More and more of the world’s audience is beginning to realize that, hence why they are discovering how beautifully diverse music can be.