RAISING THE SALAD BAR

Salad

Raising the salad bar

New Years resolutions.  Hmmm. You can probably tell by this post date alone, it’s not my strength. Two weeks too late. I’m probably like a lot of you. Life is busy. There’s a lot going on. Some are big things and some are not so big, but all together it can be too much on my plate. Literally. My muffin top has changed over the years to a…. well, a small wedding cake. BUT, we’ve come up with a “baby step” program around here that’s been helpful for everyone in the family. It’s a quick way to eat healthy and get your veggies in when your pressed for time, don’t feel like cooking or just need a quick something for OR with your meal.  It’s an instant salad bar.

At the beginning of the week I wash and prepare all the fixins for a yummy salad and put them in various size containers that all fit into one big 9×13 ish size container in my fridge.image

The idea was to give my family an easy to prepare option that was a healthier choice. It was a little love sabotage. We needed something to take the place of the ever so delicious quesadilla. Everybody in the family loves salad but the thought of prep was a downer sometimes.

It’s so easy to pull out the container and personalize a salad that even a teenager can do it. Really. I’ve  seen it done. With my own eyes. I’m a little misty thinking about the first time it occurred. Anyway, I can pull it out every night and make a salad bar in one minute flat. If my dinner is a little on the sub-par side, it’s instantly a better meal. Everything I cut and prepare is good for 5-7 days at least. The only ingredient that has ever gone “man down” on me is an occasional cucumber or a fresh berry.  We use bags of salad and spinach or cut pre-washed lettuce as we need.

These are some of the ingredients we love:

  • tri-colored peppers
  • peas, fresh or thawed
  • jicama
  • craisins
  • cut turkey or ham
  • sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • raisins
  • croutons
  • bacon pieces
  • cubed cheese
  • beets
  • cherry or grape tomatoes (golden and red)
  • cucumbers
  • carrots (slices or pre-shredded)
  • fresh berries

Eating your greens ✔️

Making healthier choices✔️

Baby step goals✔️

Watching your teenager eat something different than a quesadilla ✔️

Happy Resolutions ya’ll. We believe in you.

Three Thoughts

1)  STRAP IT IN!  I went to the grocery store and watched a woman as she searched frantically for her missing purse.  She had turned her back to pick out some produce and when she turned around, her purse was gone.  Some one was watching and patiently waiting for the perfect opportunity.  All the woman in our family strap it in.  Wrap the seatbelt around your handles several times and click it in.  Face it.  Your purse IS one of your babies!

2) FOLD IT DOWN!

Public bathrooms….Blech. Especially with little kids. It seems like even with the toilet seat cover, your children’s legs or underpants are touching something…..unpleasant.  By simply folding the central piece of the paper cover out and over the front of the toilet, instead of in the bowl, you can change the germ situation by a mile.

3) COVER IT!

so this…

doesn’t get in this.  Did you know that if you cover ice cream with tin foil instead of plastic, the ice clings to the foil and doesn’t get on your ice cream?  Now you do.  No more freezer burn. Mmmmmm.  Just in time for summer.

 

Sometimes I Feel Like A Nut…

I promised myself this week that I was going to get back on track with my health.  My eating, exercise and life have been, to be honest, COMPLETELY off.

On a quest for a healthier treat, I purchased a bag of dried young coconut from Costco.  When I looked at the nutritional information on the bag, I was floored.  Who knew that coconut was so low in sugar (1g) and packed with fiber (14g)?   I am hooked!  I decided to make a healthy version of an Almond Joy.  By simply combining dried young coconut, almonds and a 70% or higher dark chocolate (chopped or even semi-sweet chips), you have a satisfying healthy treat.

This treat has, depending on the type of chocolate you prefer, the following nutritional information:

20 grams of fiber  (Almond Joy -2 grams)

7 grams of sugar  (Almond Joy- 20 grams)

11 grams of protein  (Almond Joy -2 grams)

Using the following serving sizes, this little craving fighter has 10 whole food ingredients verses 30+ ingredients in an Almond Joy, whose ingredients include corn syrups, oils, and a whopping 20 grams of sugar!  This treat will leave you feeling satisfied and guiltless.

  •  1.5 oz of Philippine Brand coconut (roughly a heaping 1/3 cup)*These are chunks of coconut flesh NOT shredded coconut.
  • 1/4 cup Kirkland Signature dry roasted almonds
  • 4og  Lindt Excellence 85% chocolate bar (just shy of 1/2 jumbo sized chocolate bar).

Make some and feel “joy”ful about your snacking!

2 Ingredient Salt Scrub

Talk about getting back more than you put in…  I just made the easiest bath salt scrub. Seriously, no effort.  I made it in just a few minutes and then used it.  My own laboratory test. When I got out of the shower my skin felt FANTASTIC!   You’re hooked, I can tell.  You have your grocery list in your hands, right?   If you do, you can purchase the same Epson salt I used here for a great price.   Let’s get started shall we? Put 1 cup Epsom Salt in a reusable plastic container. (Don’t use mason jars because rusting tops, soapy hands, glass jars, and showers don’t mix). Add 2 TBSP of your favorite body wash.  You want a thick consistency.

Stir.

The end.  For real.  I used a Sharpie marker to label my container. I’m planning on re-using the same container for my next Salt Scrub so I’ll let you in on a little secret.  You can get permanent marker off of many surfaces, including plastic.

Scribble over permanent markings with a dry erase marker.

Wipe off with paper towel. Ta Da.  See?  You learned two things today. You saved money and the environment and used the last inch of your body wash.  Pat yourself on the back and hit the showers!

Age Spot Prevention. Yes Please.

I took the  above picture on my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary.  My mother wanted to duplicate the photograph of the pose taken on their wedding day.  Not too bad-looking for people in their seventies. But despite my mother’s graceful aging, she was stopped by a cashier (older than she) to tell her how to prevent age spots.  (Thank you?)  Her secret….sunblock.  Every time this women put SPF daily moisturizer on her face, she would put some it on the back of her hands.  It makes sense. We rarely protect our hands and they are always exposed to the elements. If you have started getting age spots, maybe you could stop them in their tracks.  For very little effort, it’s worth a shot.  Maybe later on in your life, a cashier in the store WON’T stop to give you age spot advice….Maybe she’ll ask you how you kept your hands so young-looking.  Let us know in twenty years!

Making Food Last

You need to check out this incredible list compiled by My Thirty Spot on how to store food.  This goes back to post on How To Make Your Berries Last .  I have also washed my grapes with vinegar and had success.  She also mentions in her comments to “mist bananas lightly with lemon juice. The lemon juice won’t affect the flavor of the banana, but will keep them from developing brown spots so quickly. Store bananas on the counter with the curved side up. This way, air is allowed to flow under and around the bananas or get a banana hammock.”.

How To Store Vegetables

Always remove any tight bands from your vegetables or at least loosen them to allow them to breathe.
Artichokes‐ place in an airtight container sealed, with light moisture.
Asparagus‐ place them loosely in a glass or bowl upright with water at room temperature. (Will keep for a week outside the fridge)
Avocados‐ place in a paper bag at room temp. To speed up their ripening‐ place an apple in the bag with them.
Arugula‐ arugula, like lettuce, should not stay wet! Dunk in cold water and spin or lay flat to dry. Place dry arugula in an open container, wrapped with a dry towel to absorb any extra moisture.
Basil‐ is difficult to store well. Basil does not like the cold, or to be wet for that matter. The best method here is an airtight container/jar loosely packed with a small damp piece of paper inside‐left out on a cool counter.
Beans, shelling‐ open container in the fridge, eat ASAP. Some recommend freezing them if not going to eat right away
Beets‐ cut the tops off to keep beets firm, (be sure to keep the greens!)by leaving any top on root vegetables draws moisture from the root, making them lose flavor and firmness. Beets should be washed and kept in and open container with a wet towel on top.
Beet greens‐ place in an airtight container with a little moisture.
Broccoli‐ place in an open container in the fridge or wrap in a damp towel before placing in the fridge.
Broccoli Rabe‐ left in an open container in the crisper, but best used as soon as possible.
Brussels Sprouts‐ If bought on the stalk leave them on that stalk. Put the stalk in the fridge or leave it on a cold place. If they’re bought loose store them in an open container with a damp towel on top.
Cabbage‐ left out on a cool counter is fine up to a week, in the crisper otherwise. Peel off outer leaves if they start to wilt. Cabbage might begin to lose its moisture after a week , so, best used as soon as possible.
Carrots‐ cut the tops off to keep them fresh longer. Place them in closed container with plenty of moisture, either wrapped in a damp towel or dunk them in cold water every couple of days if they’re stored that long.
Cauliflower‐ will last a while in a closed container in the fridge, but they say cauliflower has the best flavor the day it’s bought.
Celery‐ does best when simply places in a cup or bowl of shallow water on the counter. If you want to keep it in the refrigerator, like I do, wrap it in tin foil. It will stay crisp for weeks.
Celery root- wrap the root in a damp towel and place in the crisper.
Corn‐ leave unhusked in an open container if you must, but corn really is best eaten sooner than later for maximum flavor.
Cucumber‐ wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge. If you’re planning on eating them within a day or two after buying them they should be fine left out in a cool room.
Eggplant‐ does fine left out in a cool room. Don’t wash it, eggplant doesn’t like any extra moisture around its leaves. For longer storage‐ place loose, in the crisper.
Fava beans‐ place in an air tight container.
Fennel‐ if used within a couple of days after it’s bought fennel can be left out on the counter, upright in a cup or bowl of water (like celery). If wanting to keep longer than a few days place in the fridge in a closed container with a little water.
Garlic‐ store in a cool, dark, place.
Green garlic‐an airtight container in the fridge or left out for a day or two is fine, best before dried out.
Greens‐ remove any bands, twist ties, etc. most greens must be kept in an air‐tight container with a damp cloth‐ to keep them from drying out. Kale, collard, and chard even do well in a cup of water on the counter or fridge.
Green beans‐ they like humidity, but not wetness. A damp cloth draped over an open or loosely closed container.
Green Tomatoes‐ store in a cool room away from the sun to keep them green and use quickly or they will begin to color.
Herbs– a closed container in the fridge to kept up to a week. Any longer might encourage mold.
Lettuce‐ keep damp in an airtight container in the fridge.
Leeks‐leave in an open container in the crisper wrapped in a damp cloth or in a shallow cup of water on the counter (just so the very bottom of the stem has water).
Okra‐ doesn’t like humidity. So a dry towel in an airtight container. Doesn’t store that well, best eaten quickly after purchase
Onion‐ store in a cool, dark and dry, place‐ good air circulation is best, so don’t stack them.

Mushrooms – Keep mushrooms in the refrigerator in its original wrapping. If you are using some of the mushrooms, try to open a corner of the plastic wrap and just take what you need. Then cover with a paper towel and cover with more plastic wrap and place back into the refrigerator.
Parsnips‐an open container in the crisper, or, like a carrot, wrapped in a damp cloth in the fridge.
Potatoes‐ (like garlic and onions) store in cool, dark and dry place, such as, a box in a dark corner of the pantry; a paper bag also works well.
Radicchio‐ place in the fridge in an open container with a damp cloth on top.
Radishes‐ remove the greens (store separately) so they don’t draw out excess moisture from the roots and place them in an open container in the fridge with a wet towel placed on top.
Rhubarb‐wrap in a damp towel and place in an open container in the refrigerator.
Rutabagas‐ in an ideal situation a cool, dark, humid root cellar or a closed container in the crisper to keep their moisture in.
Snap peas‐ refrigerate in an open container
Spinach‐ store loose in an open container in the crisper, cool as soon as possible. Spinach loves to stay cold.
Spring onions‐ Remove any band or tie and place in the crisper.
Summer Squash‐ does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut.
Sweet peppers‐ Only wash them right before you plan on eating them as wetness decreases storage time. Store in a cool room to use in a couple a days, place in the crisper if longer storage needed.
Sweet Potatoes‐ Store in a cool, dark, well‐ventilated place. Never refrigerate‐‐sweet potatoes don’t like the cold.
Tomatoes‐ Never refrigerate. Depending on ripeness, tomatoes can stay for up to two weeks on the counter. To hasten ripeness place in a paper bag with an apple.
Turnips‐ remove the greens (store separately) same as radishes and beets, store them in an open container with a moist cloth.
Winter squash‐store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Many growers say winter squashes get sweeter if they’re stored for a week or so before eaten.
Zucchini‐ does fine for a few days if left out on a cool counter, even after cut. Wrap in a cloth and refrigerate for longer storage.

How to Store Fruit
Apples‐ store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage in a cardboard box in the fridge.
Citrus‐ store in a cool place, with good airflow, never in an air‐tight container.
Apricots‐ on a cool counter to room temperature or fridge if fully ripe
Cherries‐store in an airtight container. Don’t wash cherries until ready to eat, any added moisture encourages mold.
Berries-Don’t forget, they’re fragile. When storing be careful not to stack too many high, a single layer if possible. A paper bag works well, only wash before you plan on eating them.
Dates‐dryer dates (like Deglet Noor) are fine stored out on the counter in a bowl or the paper bag they were bought in. Moist dates (like Medjool) need a bit of refrigeration if they’re going to be stored over a week, either in cloth or a paper bag‐ as long as it’s porous to keeping the moisture away from the skin of the dates.
Figs‐ Don’t like humidity, so, no closed containers. A paper bag works to absorb excess moisture, but a plate works best in the fridge up to a week un‐stacked.
Grapes– Make sure to select clusters that are free from molds if you plan to keep them in your fridge.  Another mistake people make when storing grapes is washing them before storing. While this may clean them and get rid of dirt on them, the water will have a negative effect on the skins of the grapes; making them mushier and promoting bacterial growth in the process.
Kiwi – Store at room temperature until ripe; then in fridge. Do not refrigerate longer than 1 – 2 weeks.

Mangoes – Store on the counter until ripe or 2 – 5 days, then move to refrigerator, then keep for 5 – 7 days. If you want to freeze wash peel and slice into pieces. Place pieces on a cookie sheet until frozen then you can transfer to plastic bag.
Melons‐ uncut in a cool dry place, out of the sun up to a couple of weeks. Cut melons should be in the fridge, an open container is fine.
Nectarines‐ (similar to apricots) store in the fridge it is okay if it’s ripe, but best taken out a day or two before you plan on eating them so they soften to room temperature.
Peaches(and most stone fruit)‐ refrigerate only when fully ripe. More firm fruit will ripen on the counter.
Pears‐ will keep for a few weeks on a cool counter, but fine in a paper bag. To hasten the ripening put an apple in with them.
Oranges – stay juiciest when kept at room temperature. If possible place in a basket. The baskets are preferable to other containers because they permit the air to circulate freely around each piece of fruit.
Persimmon –Fuyu‐(shorter/pumpkin shaped): store at room temperature.
Hachiya – (longer/pointed end): room temperature until completely mushy. The astringents in them only subsides when they are completely ripe. To hasten the ripening process place in a paper bag with a few apples for a week, check now and then, but don’t stack‐they get very fragile when really ripe.
Pomegranates‐ keep up to a month stored on a cool counter.
Strawberries‐ Don’t like to be wet. Do best in a paper bag in the fridge for up to a week. Check the bag for moisture every other day.

Dr. Oz’s Wrinkle-Fighting Smoothie

 

 

When I went to get a physical a few months ago, my Doctors, (yes, there were two) asked who my primary care physician was.  I told them Dr. Oz.  They both laughed, but I wasn’t kidding.  I refer to Dr. Oz for many health remedies. Not only is he a doctor of modern medicine, but most of his remedies are homeopathic.  Actually, most of his remedies are something you should be eating, not taking.  He wants people to truly be healthy and that includes happy.  What other Dr. tells you how to trim belly fat, reduce wrinkles and how to boost your metabolism?   I love Dr. Oz!  Every touchy, feely inch of him!   This recipe of Dr. Oz’s is a Wrinkle-Fighting Smoothie.  This smoothie tastes great and is all natural, and unlike many skin moisturizers, is Paraben free!  Click here to educate yourself on parabens and why you should avoid them.

 

Ingredients

Makes 2 servings

1 cup non-fat or low-fat chocolate milk

1/4 cup unsweetened green tea (I used naturally decaffeinated)

1 1/2 cups frozen mixed raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries

 

Directions

Pour chocolate milk, green tea and mixed berries into blender and blend until smoothie has reached desired consistency.

Pour smoothie into glass and serve cold.

 

Nutrition Facts

135 calories per serving

6 g protein

Courtesy of Sari Greaves, RD.

 

Free Printable Weekly Menu

 

Two of my New Year’s Resolutions this year are to be more mindful of my money and health.  I found this free weekly dinner menu plan and was excited that I could kill two birds with one stone.  I printed it out, and stuck it in an old frame.   now I can use my dry erase makers and change my menu weekly.  Hopefully I will waste less food, spend less in the store, and be more aware of what I am feeding my family.

I am also considering laminating it and sticking inside my pantry door to save space.  You can get your free menu here  courtesy of The Nest Effect.

How To Make Your Berries Last

 

I buy almost everything in bulk, as you can see from my colossal size vinegar.  My family loves to eat berries, but often we end up throwing some of them out because they have started to mold.  I have read in several places that to preserve the life of your produce you shouldn’t wash it until you are ready to eat it.  The water from washing promotes mold.  This is where my issue about wasting food comes into play.  Sometimes we don’t eat it because we are in a hurry and don’t have time to wash it.  When that happens I’ll end up moving along to the pantry, which contains foods that are not nearly as healthy or satisfying.

My cousin from California has been washing her berries in vinegar to help preserve them.  Apparently the vinegar kills the mold spores and any bacteria on the fruit and slows down the molding process.  I tried it out and it works.  Now I always have fresh berries for my family to snack on.

Here is what you need to do:

Add one part Vinegar to 10 parts water

Bathe berries in mixture

Rinse thoroughly

Place on paper towels to dry

Store in an airtight container

I always put a folded paper towel at the bottom on the container to absorb any additional moisture.  When the towel gets damp I just remove it.  And to answer the question you’re asking yourself; no, you do NOT taste the vinegar.

Yoga Sleep Pose

Looking at this picture, it makes me wonder why I don’t sleep like a log every night.   Cutest “photo bomber” ever!   Still, I find my thoughts keep me up at night.  I learned this pose years ago from my yoga instructor, and it has added years to my life!   My husband, who thinks he is an optimist (but is really a pessimist), finally gave in one night at 3:00 a.m. and has never gone back to flip-flopping back and forth unable to sleep.  We both go to bed fairly easily, but wake up in the middle of the night from either a kid, or our bodies just wakes up.   When we do this pose we are asleep within 5 minutes of getting back in bed.

The pose is simple.  All you need to do is lay on your back with your legs flat against the wall. Keep your legs straight up for about 5 minutes.  As you lay there, mentally try to not let any thoughts cross your mind. Try it. It’s that simple and it really works!

*Another benefit of this sleep remedy is that  you won’t wake up groggy in the morning.  This is not the case with medicines. Would you take a p.m. medication at 3:00 A.M?