Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hold the salt, pass the lemons!

I am sure you have heard the dangers that a high sodium diet can bring.  Even if you can't name all the health risks associated with too much salt, you likely know high sodium diets are not healthy. 

Many people are now watching their sodium intake.  Reading labels.   Leaving the salt shaker off the table.  Choosing products labeled "low sodium".  But do you have to leave the flavor behind when you ditch the salt? 

Sunkist answers with a definate "NO"!!

Sunkist encourages everyone to try their S'alternative. 
S’alternative is a flavorful salt alternative using fresh-squeezed Sunkist® lemons. The result is enhanced natural flavor with increased potassium and reduced sodium!

You can find more information on S'alternative here.

You can also find a fantastic opportunity to win fabulous prizes in Sunkist's recipe contest here.  $1000 grocery gift card is the grand prize!  I will be thinking of S'alternatives in the next few days for sure!

I wrote this blog post at the request of Sunkist, making me eligible
to get $10 in free Sunkist Lemons.”

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Bumblewee's giveaway

Time sure does fly.  Now is the perfect time to enter in this giveaway by Bumblewee Nursing wear.  If you delay too much longer you just might find its over! 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

ways to make your favorite foods healthier

Whether you are on an actual diet or not, you most likely are concerned about making healthy eating choices.  If you are not concerned, well it probably about time you were!  There are plenty of unhealthy choices out there, that's for sure.  The problem with those unhealthy choices is they just taste so good!  So what can you do to make some of those "gotta have it" favorites a bit less forbidden?  Here are some of the ways I do it.

One.  To start with, I substitute ground turkey or chicken for ground beef or sausage.  Doing this will make your favorite dinners drop loads of fat and plenty of calories as well.  If you are making things like casseroles or meatballs for your spaghetti you won't even notice the difference amongst all the other tastes.  Making something like burgers or meatloaf is a little trickier.  First a simpler food like those really lets the taste of the meat show through.  Also, being so low fat, ground poultry could have a tendency to end up a bit dry tasting.  You do have to experiment around some to find the perfect recipe that satisfies those beefy cravings.  Try buying low sodium beef bouillon and mixing it into your meat.  That will easily "beef up" the taste.  Also, adding Worcestershire sauce into your meat mixture will give it more of a beef appeal as well.  Here is another idea for turkey burgers:

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  •   half of a (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
  • 2 tablespoons steak sauce
Just mix and cook.

Two.  Another thing I do in casseroles is to cut back the amount of meat I put in.  Sometimes I cut as much as 1/2 the meat out.  At other times I cut out about 1/4.  Either way, its not missed.

Three.  Cheese is another easily reduced item.  Add the teeny tiniest of sprinkling to top a pizza.  Casseroles with cheese can have their cheese cut down by 1/4 if not more. Cheese is very high in fat.  Control is important here.

Four.  Another thing I do to enjoy some of my favorites, only healthier is to search for whole grain options of the classic recipes.  This is important to me because I am most likely going to be craving bread like carbs over anything else.  There are untold numbers of recipes  for whole grain pancakes.  Have you ever tried IHop's Harvest Nut and Grain Pancakes?  I love them and found this copycat recipe for them:

***Dry Mix:***
7 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/8 cup Quaker quick oatmeal
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups corn meal
1 cup wheat bran
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
5 3/4 tablespoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/3 tablespoons dry malt*
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
***Waffle/Pancake batter:***
1 3/4 cuplow fat buttermilk (use more for pancakes)
2  eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon water

1/2 cup skim milk
Dry Mix: Mix all ingredients together. Store in air tight container.

Waffle/Pancake batter: Put buttermilk in bowl and whisk in eggs. Whisk in 2 cups dry mix. Add vanilla. Melt butter and water and milk whisk into batter.

Whole grain recipes are generally lower in fat and calories plus our bodies can use whole grains much better than the processed, refined, white versions.  Its just healthier for us.  They also fill you up faster so you don't have to eat as much.

Five.  Use whole grain high fiber bread choices for things like french toast.   Whole grain products are a pretty big fad right now so you can find all kinds of whole grain options easily.  Look for tortillas, cereals, crackers etc. 

Six.  I think one of the greatest whole grain products out right now is the pasta.  Have you ever tried the Barilla Plus or other similar pastas?  Fantastic!!!  If your family is used to the regular white pastas, they won't even know you switched on them.

My husband is really into his Fettucine Alfredo.  Now thats a diet nightmare, right?  It doesn't have to be.  Try this instead:

1 cup evaporated skim milk
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp. white or black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, bring evaporated milk to a simmer over moderate heat.
Stir in the parmesan cheese, green onions and parsley.
As soon as the cheese has melted and sauce is thick and creamy, pour over cooked pasta
Season with white pepper. I like a pinch of nutmeg or garlic garlic powder over mine

It's hard for me to keep the fact that I have a sweet tooth a secret!

Six.  Here are some things you can do to lower fat in your baked goods.  Use egg whites instead of whole eggs, using applesause instead of oil etc.

Seven  One thing I could never get into in the past, however, was sugar substitutes.  I just could not make myself believe that they were healthy for your body and not at all harmful.  What has me quite excited lately, however, is the use of Stevia in products.  Stevia is a plant product that can be used in place of sugar.  Its natural and not harmful.  You can really cut calories using Stevia.

Eight.  The recent appearance of healthier ice cream products is amazing.  I have tried several brands of the low fat ice creams and they have been better than good!  They are really worth a try when ice cream is on your mind. 

Nine.  Try yogurt for your favorite flavors instead of ice cream.  There are some great yogurts out now, too, that can really satisfy that chocolate craving.  The whip chocolate varieties are good.  There is another brand that has a mint chocolate chip variety that is yummy and I saw they now have a chocolate chip cookie dough variety too.  I don't know the calories in these little cups but I am sure its a savings over a similar ice cream flavor... and you get automatic portion control as well with a container of yogurt.  You get that ice cream flavor you want so badly but don't compromise a healthy diet doing it. 

Ten.  When I bake use some other tricks to make the indulgence a little less indulgent.  Skimp on frosting when making cakes.   The frosting is the really high calorie part...so spread it really thin!  Reduce the chocolate chips in cookies etc.  Use just enough to give you your chocolate fix.   When making fruit desserts like pie and strawberry shortcake, cut the sugar back.  Recipes are generally over generous with sugar  on these items.    Using less sugar saves you calories and lets the taste of the fruit  shine through rather than just a sweetness.

And one last bonus tip!  Look for your favorite meals in the frozen food sections of your grocery store.  Companies like Weight Watchers make very diet friendly versions of some of your best love meals.  Not only do you get to enjoy your favorite meals...in a healthy way...but you also don't have to spend hours making them...now that's amazing!!

Whether you plan on enjoying a full fat, high calorie treat at the end of a day or a lighter version of your favorites, make sure you plan for it earlier in the day or make up for it the next day.  Maybe have a simple piece of fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch and a small piece of broiled chicken for dinner with a good assortment of plain steamed veggies.  This will help make up for your treat. 

No matter what your weakness is, there are sure to be ways that you can make it less of forbidden and more of a smart, healthy choice!  So get creative and love what you eat!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and WeightWatchers SmartOnes blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

make your home cleaner and greener!

I have been cleaning my home "green" for years.  Some years ago if you told someone you didn't use standard cleaners in your home because they contained chemicals you'd rather avoid your family being exposed to,  you most likely would have been given a weird look.  I know because it happened to me more than once!  Now (hurray!!) cleaning green is something that's pretty commonplace.  Yes, even big companies now are carrying a "greener" line of cleaning products.

So what can you do to have a clean and green home?  Here are some tips I have learned over the years:

First, remove your shoes.  Yes, that's right!  Wearing your shoes inside your home will make your home dirtier.  Dirt, mud, animal poop, etc will track through your home making it much harder to clean again.  Yes, it's there, even if you can't see it on your shoes, it's there.  Plus, you track in a lot of chemicals on your shoes. The first time I read that statement, some time ago, I had a real "wow" moment!  Why had I never thought of that before?  Just think about it.  You walk through a lot on your journeys outside your home.  Those chemicals and impurities then will get tracked into your home via your shoes.  Think of all that stuff getting rubbed off your shoes into your carpets!  No thanks!!

Unfortunately, even with shoe removal, my floors get really dirty.  I have lots of hard floors here.  I also know I don't want my children playing on floors that were mopped down with chemicals.  In the past I had used simple vinegar in a bucket of water to mop with.  Now, however, I have found that those steam mops are about the best invention in housecleaning history!  The steam really really cleans and no chemicals are needed what-so-ever!  Trust me, try one.

Next, lets talk toilets.   Why not use regular purchased  toilet bowl cleaners?  One big reason is many contain bleach and other very toxic harmful chemicals.  Not only is exposure dangerous to your family but think of what it does to your environment.  Do you have a septic tank?  Septics depend on a balance of bacteria to keep them working properly.  Pouring chemicals..especially bleach...into your septic system could be detrimental to its proper balance.  If you have ever priced having a new septic system put in, you will agree that taking care of the one you have is of utmost importance.  To avoid chemicals, try using baking soda and vinegar in your toilet.  All you have to do is sprinkle in baking soda and then pour in some vinegar.  It will foam and fizz..that's normal.  Let it sit while you clean the rest of your bathroom.  Go back and brush your toilet out and flush.  You will be impressed at its sparkling appearance!

So while we are in the bathroom what can you do about that tub?  This is another area that really bothered me and helped me convert to "green".  You clean your tub with harsh chemicals and even if you rinse it there is bound to be some residue left over.  Then you run a bathtub full of water and put your baby in it!  You are basically soaking your little angel in chemicals!  Ick. Want to know what works wonders on removing that ring around the tub?  It's baking soda, again!  Just wet the tub a bit and sprinkle baking soda on.  The best thing to scrub with, you ask?  Well, you know those little net puffs that they sell to lather up shower gel with?  Try one of those.  It works really hard at getting your tub spotless!

A big bathroom problem is mildew.  Do you have to resort to bleach for this problem?  Nope!  Prevent mold and mildew from becoming a problem in the bathroom; keep a spray bottle filled with 1 cup water and 1 drop tea tree oil handy for zapping stains.  Smells so much better than bleach, too!

How about that never ending stack of dirty laundry?  With 5 children my laundry pile multiplies rapidly.  Laundry detergent is full of chemicals.  There are additives that make your laundry fluffier, brighter, whiter, etc, etc, etc.  Does your laundry water drain into your septic?  Remember that septic tank discussion we had a few seconds ago....  Mine actually drains out into the field around our house.  So any chemicals that are in my washer, they rinse right out into the field surrounding my home.  We also have a well for our water in our house.  So, whenever I dump chemicals into my environment I am in danger of getting them returned via my well water!  Yes, the well is very far from my washer drain, very far.  But still, I don't want to chance any of those chemicals coming back into my drinking glass because they soaked into my soiled.  I make my own laundry detergent.  It does not take long at all and does a very nice job.  I am very qualified to make that statement, might I add, as a mom to 3 young boys!  Yes, they do know how to make very very dirty laundry.  Here are 2 recipes for laundry detergent that I use.  The first makes a liquid form, the following is for a powdered form.  It's just personal preference which you choose.  I use cloth diapers and they always come out clean and free of build up and smells with these recipes.

1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
  • Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.
  • Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
  • Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
  • Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).
Powdered recipe

12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups Bar soap (grated)
  • Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub.
  • Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.

Now, for my next tip, you can get rid of all that fabric softener.  Have you ever read what that stuff has been linked to?  You'd be surprised, I am sure.  Remember, whatever is on your clothing, rubbing against your skin, gets soaked up into your body.  So, in your washing machine that's happily running with your homemade laundry detergent, just add about a cup of plain white vinegar where your fabric softener would normally go or add it to the rinse cycle if you have no automatic dispenser.  This will work to release any suds and residue on your laundry and make it naturally softer.

My kitchen is the room I clean most often.  It gets used a lot!  One problem spot is the microwave.  I personally would prefer not to even have a microwave, but my husband uses and wants it.  Since he is the only one using it, it's easy to figure out who makes the massive mess in it.  I'd like to say he has never heard of covering anything to prevent splatters but I KNOW he has heard of it, after all I say it to him every other day or more!  Anyways, you probably know spaghetti sauce is not easy to remove once hardened on.  Neither is cheese, or anything else my husband heats in there.  This works fantastic, however.  Just place a bowl of water with 1/2 a lemon in the microwave.  Heat it to boil it.  Let it sit a few minutes then remove the bowl and wipe the surfaces clean.  It literally just wipes away, no effort needed.  The steam works amazing and the lemon gets rid of that mix of tomato sauce and cinnamon roll smell from the past few days usage someone may leave behind!  

We have several full length glass doors in our house.  I guess I must like to collect finger prints from small children and nose pirnts from animals.  I believe that's the main function of these doors.  By the way, I think animal snot may be one of the stickiest substances on earth!  Nose prints on glass left behind by pets is so hard to remove!  What do I do to avoid chemical cleaners?  3 Tablespoons of white vinegar mixed in a gallon of water.  Spray this mixture on and wipe.  Glass will sparkle!  Yes, you will still have to scrub at those nose prints....but I count that time as part of my effort twords meeting that daily exercise requirement!  Raise that hear trate while scrubbing!

Finally, Remember, when considering any cleaning task, check your local stores for "green" options first.  Like I mentioned earlier, green is in.  There are many options readily available right where you shop.  I recently browsed through Mrs Meyer's Clean Day products online and was totally impressed!  What a fantastic line up of scents!  I will definately be on the hunt to find these great products in a store near me!  You should look, too. 

Yes, green is in.  So, jump on the bandwagon!  Join me in being clean and green!!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Mrs. Meyer’s blogging program, making me eligible to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here

New cast

Notice the new cast

Notice the new cast can swim!

He didn't need surgery, it looks like it will fix on its own ok, He got a short cast and they were able to make it waterproof!