11.24.2009

Apple Chicken


Apples remind me of the fall, which is my favorite season, and not just because its my birthday. And, lately I have been much more adventurous about cooking with them in savory dishes.

Also, my latest and greatest obsession is Brie cheese. I tried it last month for the 1st time and I was hooked.

These two great tastes that taste great together are found in Deborah's apple chicken recipe, and you must make this chicken. It is fabulous. I have had it 4 times in the last 2 weeks! It is super easy, and ultramega delicious.

Deborah's Apple Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast, butterflied
2 small to medium apples, diced
4 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
flour
4 slices brie cheese
1 cups apple cider
1 cups chicken broth
tooth picks

Preheat the oven to 450F. Warm 1 tablespoon butter in a large, non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the apples and saute until softened. Set the saute pan aside because you will need it again. Tuck a slice of Brie and several pieces of apple into the pocket of the chicken breasts. Close with toothpicks. Repeat for all breasts. This will empty the saute pan.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Pat a little flour onto both sides of each chicken breast.

In the saute pan, warm 1 tablespoon butter over high heat. When the butter foams add the chicken breasts and brown them on all sides. Transfer the chicken to a foil lined cookie sheet that has been sprayed with Pam, and put it into the oven for 15-20 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce.

Pour the cider and broth into the saute pan to deglaze. Bring to a boil over high heat until reduced by about 1/2 cup. Use as a gravy when serving the chicken.

11.22.2009

Candied Cranberries

I am normally not a huge fan of cranberries. My sweet tooth just won't accept tart. But this recipe caught my eye in Cooking Light magazine because these cranberries are sweet, festive, beautiful, and an inexpensive homemade gift! I just love how pretty they are!

Here is the recipe. It makes about three cups cranberries.

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
3/4 cup superfine sugar OR 3/4 cup regular sugar ground fine in food processor or blender

1) Rinse and drain cranberries. Pick out stems and any soft or mushy cranberries. I usually fill the sink with cool water...the best cranberries will float!

2) Cook sugar and water in medium pan over low heat. Stir well until sugar is dissolved. Bring liquid to a bare simmer so that bubbles lightly break the surface. DO NOT BOIL. Remove pan from heat. If you accidentally boiled the liquid, let it cool for a few minutes.

3) Add cranberries to pan and stir. If any cranberries split, don’t despair. Pour the cranberries and the liquid into a medium bowl. Place a saucer on top of the cranberries to help keep them submerged. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

4) Put half the superfine sugar on a rimmed tray or shallow pan and break up any lumps. Drain cranberries in a colander (over a bowl, if you’d like to save the liquid for cocktails or to reuse it for the same recipe) and shake them well to remove all the liquid. Dump the cranberries onto the sugar. Shake the tray or pan to coat the cranberries and sprinkle the remaining half of the reserved sugar onto damp berries that need more coverage. Use all the sugar. Carefully separate any cranberries that stick together and let dry for a few hours.

5) Serve immediately or within a few days. The sugar coating becomes more dry and fragile with time, so they’re best early on when they’re at their prettiest.

10.13.2009

GET NAKED!


Since I try to be a smarter shopper these days...one thing we try to do is go to Costco about once a month or so. I wouldn't say we buy our groceries there, but on some things I believe there is serious savings in buying bulk. For example the meats in bulk do tend to be cheaper, but we also have a vacuum sealer to save and freeze what we buy.

Anyway, when we go to Costco, as you most likely know, they give away samples to entice passersby and drive sales. So the diet advice of not shopping hungry, applies double here. But, there is no harm in looking and sometimes the samples are actually good for you, like when the sample is for
Naked Juice.

Naked Juice is my new favorite thing for a few reasons. First of all it is real juice. Not from concentrate, not flavored water with added vitamins, but actual juice from fruits that already have vitamins. Second, there bottles are recycled and recylable. And, Naked is a company that seems to truly care about the environment and where their products come from...inside and out, from start to finish, and I support that.
Blue Machine is my favorite flavor so far, creamy blueberry deliciousness! And, next on my list are the Gold Machine (pineapple) and Mighty Mango.

Check out the company info, the flavors, and all they pack into that little recycled bottle, and try this juice!

9.11.2009

Limeades For Learning


I saw a commercial for Sonic tonite advertising a new campaign to help school teachers. They are donating $500,000.00 to educational programs. All we have to do is drink Limeades. Cherry is the best BTW.


For details on the program, you can visit LimeadesForLearning.com.


And, to find a Sonic near you, go here.


8.26.2009

I Scream


Mr. K and I are total ice cream junkies. That may have been one of the reasons I knew he was "the one". I have never met an ice cream I didn't like or at minimum one I couldn't see through to the end. But, since we are always looking for healthier ways to eat what we want, we are willing to try new things.

We have tried sugar free versions, which honestly are not worth the cardboard box they come in. And, for a long time we were buying the Dreyers' that has 1/2 the fat and calories. It was good but not a lot of flavor choices. That was when I discovered Lovin Scoopful. I had never heard of them before, but we were very pleasantly surprised....and they have a pretty good selection of flavors to choose from.

The bonus is that Lovin Spoonful donates 25% of their profits to charities like the Special Olympics, which is pretty cool. I love supporting companies that do good things.

You can check out
their website for more information and where to buy. Our favorite is the Caramel Chocolate Heaven.

8.05.2009

Rescue The Rainforest...Drink Orange Juice!



Every now and then Mr. K and I get on an orange juice kick. We are on one now. I was sitting at the computer drinking some when the back of the carton caught my eye.

Tropicana is working with Cool Earth to save the rainforests! For every code you enter, Tropicana will preserve 100 square feet of rainforest. Every container has a code, so the more OJ you drink the more rainforest you save!

For more information, or to enter a code, just visit www.tropicanarainforest.com. You can also check out Cool Earth's site.

And, don't forget, orange juice is hugely good for you! No fat. No sodium. Tons of potassium and vitamin C. Plus, you get 2 servings of fruit in every 8 oz. glass!

So, drink up and help the Earth!

7.15.2009

ICE

In Case of Emergency

I saw this in O Magazine, which I only read because someone gave me a gift subscription. But, I liked this very much so I am sharing.

Ice is an acronym for in case of emergency and the snippet advises you to create an emergency contact in your cell phone with that name so EMT's can reach the right people quickly and easily. Otherwise, they could waste valuable time calling people who can't or won't be able to help.

Mine looks like this as you scroll my contact list:

ICE (In Case of Emerg)

Then I listed about 5 numbers, but my phone doesn't let me attach names to each one. My phone also has a place to put notes in and there I added my blood type, allergies, and "organ donor".

This campaign was started by a paramedic in the UK, and is spreading globally. Since everyone has a cell phone these days, and this is a fast easy thing you can do...why not?

The World's Leading Emergency Contact Service

7.06.2009

Road ID




I absolutely love taking the dogs for walks. I have 2 and they are my babies. And, occasionally, Mr. K and I leave them home if its late and ride our bikes. Though this happens less often since I feel guilty about leaving them behind.

Anyway I saw an ad for this in a magazine and I thought it was a great idea. If you happen to be a walker, you know that less is more in regards to carrying things with you, especially since a good chunk of exercise clothing is sans pockets. I usually end up putting my drivers license in my bra and checking it every 5 minutes to make sure its still there.

This is a perfect solution and you don't need to worry about loosing anything. Its a custom ID bracelet engraved with your name, who to contact in an emergency, etc. It is also available in an anklet, and it costs under $25.

It isn't pleasant to think about, and we always assume it won't happen to us, but accidents do happen. And, this is a little thing you can do to make sure that you are identified in an emergency or the people you care about are notified. On mine I added my allergies and my blood type.

And, being in the medical field, I thought this would also be a good idea for elderly people who live at home. I remember when my grandmother was living with Alzhiemer's Disease...they were a few times where she would just wonder off. One time she had tea with a lady a mile away. So, it might be a good idea for that as well, though it isn't marketed for it.

You can order yours at
http://www.roadid.com/

7.02.2009

Watermelon & Cucumber Tonic

In May I did a post about watermelon, and I recently came across this recipe in Cooking Light magazine. It sounded good, so I am posting it. It is a fruity summer variation on a gin & tonic.


6 cups cubed seeded watermelon, divided
1/4 cup mint leaves, divided
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cucumber, peeled, sliced, and divided (leave a few rounds w/ skins on for a garnish)
2 1/2 cups tonic water, chilled
1 1/4 cups gin


1. Combine half each of the watermelon, mint, juice, and cucmber in a blender until smooth. Strain into a bowl. Discard solids and repeat for the other half.

2. Combine 2 1/2 cups of the juice mixture with the tonic water, and gin. Stir well to combine.

3. Serve over ice. Garnich with watermelon and cucumber wheels.


Purple Basil

Did you know there are 60 + different types of basil?

And, did you know that basil is in the mint family?

I didn't either.

One variety you may not be familiar with is called purple opal. It has a slightly spicy taste with hints of clove, licorice, mint, and cinnamon. Along with funky flavor it adds a punch of color.

All fresh basil should be used within a few days. And, it dries well, too.

You can use purple basil interchangeably with regular basil, but here are a couple of recipes to get you started.



Purple Basil Parmesan Biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbl sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into pieces
2/3 cup purple basil, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup skim milk
1 large egg
nonstick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut butter into dry ingredients with a pastry blender until coarse. Stir in basil and cheese.

3. Beat milk and egg in a separate bowl. Add to flour mixture and stir until moist.

4. Turn out onto a floured surface, and pat into 1" thick circle. Cut with a 2" biscuit round cutter. Makes 12.

5. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray and bake for 15 minutes.

Purple Basil Lemonade

4 cups water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup loosely packed purple basil leaves
6 tbl sugar
4 cups ice
4 purple basil sprigs

1. Combine water and juice in a large bowl.

2. Grind sugar and basil together to release the oils and a paste forms. Add to the juice mixture and stir until sugar is dissolved.

3. Separate ice evenly into 4 glasses. Strain lemonade into each glass and discard solids. Garnish with basil sprigs.

6.26.2009

My Two Cents On A Sad Day

On Tuesday, when I read the news about Ed McMahon, I thought it was sad. My feelings were sort of mixed bag. I felt sad that someone had died. I felt sad that when older celebs die, despite their past successes, newer generations don't give it the attention it really deserves...a few days in the news and we move on. I felt the same way about Estelle Getty and Bea Arthur. I was scared because my own grandfather just turned 80 and Ed McMahon was 86. And, I felt like he had a seemingly good life and his time had come.

I, also, thought "who's next?" since these things always seem to come in threes.



Then, yesterday after school I sat down at my computer to check email, and AOL had posted the news about Farrah Fawcett. I fully admit that I didn't really follow her in life. I wouldn't call myself a big fan, but again I felt sad. Being in the medical field, I know what a horrible death she had. She was relatively young, only 62. It also occurred to me how she was so beautiful, and so many people wanted to be her...but how no matter how beautiful or famous you are, there are bigger things at work sometimes.

I emailed Mr. K and told him, and he said he had heard it on the way to work that morning. I put on the TV and watched some tribute specials to her which upset me a little. All of these media people were saying such wonderful things about her, which she deserved, but where were they when the tabloids said she was on drugs or looking so awful? Why do people only get respect after they are gone?
I asked Mr. K who he thought the third was going to be. He guessed Patrick Swayze. I guessed Liz Taylor. About fifteen minutes later, my friend Dave on Facebook posted that Michael Jackson had been rushed to the hospital. I got chills. Michael Jackson can't die was my first reaction. When reports did finally come in that he had passed, I cried. Again, I don't claim to be his biggest fan, but certainly I can appreciate the magnitude thst was the King of Pop. I had a Michael Jackson doll when I was five. I spent countless hours in front of my MTV mimicking Beat It and Billie Jean choreography. And, my all time favorite song EVER is We Are The World, to which I can perform as each individual singer. Don't ask, I won't show you.

My most overwhelming feeling, of course, was shock. Numbness. Unlike Ed and Farrah, Michael was so unexpected. It is difficult for me to make people understand, but I am thirty years old. I grew up with Michael Jackson. I don't know a world without Michael Jackson. And, so few stars have that magic, that brilliance, that makes them outshine all others...make them immortal. Princess Diana. Marilyn Monroe. Elvis Presley. Michael Jackson. All of them seem to be taken from us too soon. We never seem ready or able to let them go. But, maybe we are only destined to have them for a short time...since it only takes a short time for them to touch us.

Regardless of what you thought about him, there is no denying his impact on the world. This little boy from Gary, Indiana made people all over the world get up and dance. That is so powerful. There are so many people focusing on the wrong things right now. I think there are some things we should keep in mind when passing judgements. 1) None of were at Neverland Ranch. None of us know what happened with absolute certainty. 2) He was acquitted. And, none of us have the job of judging him or anyone else.

My personal feeling is that he was innocent. Having said that, do I think he behaved appropriately? No. But, think about his life. He became his family's bread and butter and the age of 5. What were you doing at 5? His father made fun of his insecurities in order to toughen him up. What do say to your children when they are scared? His father beat him, and you may not know that his dad was a former boxer. Were you beaten as a child? Did your dad have a mean right hook? He and his brothers weren't allowed to date because it was bad for business. What were you doing as a teenager? Nothing about this man's life was normal, ever. No one else in the world can appreciate that. Who wouldn't be a screwed up adult after that? Everyone in the world wanted something from him, including within his own family. We don't know what that's like. People today are in therapy for far less. Despite his enormous success, in many ways he never had a chance. In many ways, there was never any hope for him to be "normal". And, it doesn't surprise me that after the childhood he didn't have that he would try to buy later. You know how drug addicts and alcohols who start very young, say as teenagers...when they get sober as adults, its almost as if they start living again from where they stopped. It is almost like they stop maturing when they start using, the race stops, and when they get clean, and start running again...the rest of the world has past them by and they can never catch up. Isn't fame a drug?

I believe it is entirely possible that Michael Jackson truly was, in some ways, a child in a man's body. And, even though we can see why some of his behavior was unacceptable, like any child he could not. And finally, where were the parents of the children who claimed to be molested? This wasn't a regular case, he wasn't their uncle who got them alone in the basement, he wasn't a bad man who kidnapped them off the street. These parents dropped their kids off at his home. Would you let your kids stay there with a strange man? I wouldn't. I don't care who it is, my job is to protect my kids, and that is a completely stupid choice. But they did it. I'm sorry, but for me that screams extortion. And, if you had someone accusing you of something this awful, or had a problem you wanted to escape, and you had the ability to pay it to go away...wouldn't you? Another thing we miss here is that celebrities have people that advise them on decisions...what to wear, what to say...he clearly didn't have good people around him.

Lastly, as far as the new drug accusations. This reminds me so much of Judy Garland. She was another one who made money for so many. And, when she wanted to slow down or focus on herself, it wasn't an option. It wasn't good for business. It doesn't surprise me, especially with the new tour looming, that people around him would make it possible to push through fatigue or illness, or sadness. The show must go on, right? Again, this is something that none of us can appreciate. We get to call in sick or go away somewhere, he didn't. There was no "away" where he was unknown. He didn't get to not be The King of Pop for a day.

My bottom line is, at the end of the day, the world has lost one of the greatest entertainers it has ever know. There will never be another King of Pop. And, that is sad. So, like Ed and Farrah...be respectful. Michael Jackson wasn't just Michael Jackson. He was some one's son, some one's brother, some one's father, some one's uncle. He was a person, and that by itself deserves respect.

6.24.2009

Challenge...

TIME Magazine recently reported that Americans throw away 1,000,000,000,000 paper plates and utensils every year. O-M-freakin'-G!!!



BBQ Season is upon us and that means that paper plates, napkins, etc will be the norm. But, how can you look at a number that huge...how can you think about a pile that ginormous...and still grab a pack off the shelf?

The most
earth friendly option, of course, is real dishes that you hand wash afterward. But, logistically they aren't the most user friendly option. They are bulky and breakable. I admit, the paper options make life easier. No dishes after the party. But, why can't we have our cake and eat it too??

We can.

If you’re
in the habit of using disposable paper products when you entertain, challenge yourself the next time you have people over. Use cloth napkins and real plates instead. Or, when your event calls for more portable dishes, choose one of the new eco-friendly options, like 100% recycled plastic plates from Preserve Tableware, plates and trays made from fallen leaves by Verterra, or bioplastic plates made from corn, bamboo, or sugar cane.

6.19.2009

A Woman's Week @ The Gym

I got this off of Facebook from my friend, Doris. It is so funny, especially the toothbrush part.

A WOMAN'S WEEK AT THE

This is dedicated to everyone who ever attempted to get into a regular workout routine.

Dear Diary,

For my birthday this year, my Husband (the dear) purchased a week of personal training at the local health club for me. Although I am still in great shape since being a high school football cheerleader 43 years ago, I decided it would be a good idea to go ahead and give it a try. I called the club and made my reservations with a personal trainer named Christo, who identified himself as a 26-year-old aerobics instructor and model for athletic clothing and swim wear. My husband seemed pleased with my enthusiasm to get started! The club encouraged me to keep a diary to chart my progress.

MONDAY: Started my day at 6:00 a.m. Tough to get out of bed, but found it was well worth it when I arrived at the health club to find Christo waiting for me. He is something of a Greek god - with blond hair, dancing eyes and a dazzling white smile. Woo Hoo!! Christo gave me a tour and showed me the machines. I enjoyed watching the skillful way in which he conducted his aerobics class after my workout today. Very inspiring!Christo was encouraging as I did my sit-ups, although my gut was already aching from holding it in the whole time he was around. This is going to be a FANTASTIC week-!!

TUESDAY: I drank a whole pot of coffee, but I finally made it out the door. Christo made me lie on my back and push a heavy iron bar into the air then he put weights on it! My legs were a little wobbly on the treadmill, but I made the full mile. His rewarding smile made it all worthwhile. I feel GREAT!! It's a whole new life for me.

WEDNESDAY: The only way I can brush my teeth is by laying the toothbrush on the counter and moving my mouth back and forth over it. I believe I have a hernia in both pectorals. Driving was OK as long as I didn't try to steer or stop. I parked on top of a GEO in the club parking lot. Christo was impatient with me, insisting that my screams bothered other club members. His voice is a little too perky for that early in the morning and when he scolds, he gets this nasally whine that is VERY annoying. My chest hurt when I got on the treadmill, so Christo put me on the stair monster. Why the heck would anyone invent a machine to simulate an activity rendered obsolete by elevators? Christo told me it would help me get in shape and enjoy life. He said some other crap too.

THURSDAY: Butthole was waiting for me with his vampire-like teeth exposed as his thin, cruel lips were pulled back in a full snarl. I couldn't help being a half an hour late - it took me that long to tie my shoes. He took me to work out with dumbbells. When he was not looking, I ran and hid in the restroom. He sent some skinny witch to find me.Then, as punishment, he put me on the rowing machine -- which I sank.

FRIDAY: I hate that jerk Christo more than any human being has ever hated any other human being in the history of the world. Stupid, skinny, anemic, anorexic little aerobic instructor. If there was a part of my body I could move without unbearable pain, I would beat him with it. Christo wanted me to work on my triceps. I don't have any triceps! And if you don't want dents in the floor, don't hand me the darn barbells or anything that weighs more than a sandwich.The treadmill flung me off and I landed on a health and nutrition teacher. Why couldn't it have been someone softer, like the drama coach or the choir director?

SATURDAY: Satan left a message on my answering machine in his grating, shrilly voice wondering why I did not show up today. Just hearing his voice made me want to smash the machine with my planner; however, I lacked the strength to even use the TV remote and ended up catching eleven straight hours of the Weather Channel.

SUNDAY: I'm having the Church van pick me up for services today so I can go and thank GOD that this week is over. I will also pray that next year my husband will choose a gift for me that is fun -- like a root canal or a hysterectomy. I still say if God had wanted me to bend over, he would have sprinkled the floor with diamonds!!!

6.15.2009

Farmer's Markets


I think I have mentioned farmer's markets in the past. I love them. The colors, the smells, the organized choas. Every once in a while my aunt would take us to one in Boston around the corner from Fanuiel Hall.

I came across these tips in an AOL article, and I think they can be helpful, especially if you've not been to one before. I have sliced and diced, and streamlined the article down for you below.

There are advantages to buying food at the grocery store. It's one stop shopping, and even if something isn't in season where you are, chances are it is still being grown and harvest somewhere else.

Having said this, there are also disadvantages. Supermarket produce travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to your neighborhood grocery. A trip can take up to two weeks leaving the produce not especially fresh -- and no longer very nutritious. Then there are the resources wasted to get the fruits and vegetables there and the impact that waste has on the environment.

Your best bet is your local farmers' market, where you can buy locally grown, seasonal produce. If it's local, you know it's fresher than what's lining the produce aisle at your local grocer. And if food is in season, it's at its peak and will be as delicious and nutritious as its going to get.

1. Buy Ugly. If you're not familiar with
heirloom tomatoes, you might think you're looking at inedible mutants, but that couldn't be further from the truth. While most commercial fruits and vegetables are harvested for uniformity and aesthetics, heirlooms are prized for their individuality. They often have a unique and sometimes superior taste, especially as compared to their flavorless supermarket cousins.

2. The Right Stuff. Having the right gear makes all the difference between a smooth shopping experience and a disastrous one. Consider this your market shopper toolkit: Cash: Many vendors don't take credit, Bags: Bring a few large, reusable bags or reuse bags from your home collection, A Cooler: If you have a few stops to make first, it might be a good idea to bring one -- especially for fragile items like delicate berries or if you plan to buy meat or fish.

3. When to Go. First thing in the morning is the best time to go for the best selection. If you're more interested in a good deal, go close to closing time; many vendors offer end-of-the-day specials so they don't have to schlep their unsold wares back to the farm.

4. Before You Buy. Take a lap around the whole market before you break out your wallet. Those ears of corn may look great, but there might be some a few rows down that look even better or come with a smaller price tag. Also, knowing everything the market has to offer before you start purchasing will make planning a complete meal that much easier.

5. What to Look For. Browsing for fruits and vegetables, follow the same rules you would at the supermarket. Don't buy anything bruised or wilted and look for good color and smooth, firm skins. When it comes to meat, "the pinker the better", and stay away from fish that smells too "fishy".

6. Ask Questions. The greatest thing about the farmers' market is that the people who grow it are the same people who sell it. Get to know your farmer! Find out how the food is grown and when it was picked. The vendors are happy to tell you what it is, what it tastes like, give you some ideas on how to prepare it and in some cases, even let you have a taste. Building a relationship with your farmer may also mean some good deals down the road.

7. Don't Overlook Conventional Growers. You might be tempted to head straight to the organic stands, but it's worth a trip to the conventional growers' stands as well. For small farmers, the organic certification process can be lengthy and cost-prohibitive. If you have a chat with some of the conventional growers, you may find that their growing practices are both organic and sustainable -- they just don't have the piece of paper giving them license to use the word "organic."

8. Know Before You Go. Don't go with a rigid shopping list. You never know what new and exciting things you might find there. If you get there and find yourself tempted by some fennel or fava beans, go right ahead and buy it and figure out how to serve it when you get home.

9. Don't Over Buy. Buying at a farmers' market means getting a superior product. The longer you leave that product unused, the more its quality declines. As a general rule, don't buy more than you can use within three to five days.

10. Keep it Simple. Farm fresh foods taste better than their grocery store counterparts, so they don't need overly fussy preparations. Some good quality olive oil, salt and pepper is often enough to enhance the flavor of fresh food at its peak.

If you want to learn more about farmer's markets, or to locate a farmer's market in your area, click
here.

I Liked This

My cousin, Lori, sent this to me in an email, and I liked it....so, I'm sharing.

Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of "The Plain Dealer", Cleveland , Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day.. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

42. The best is yet to come.

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

6.08.2009

Help The Honeybees

I am not sure where I initially came across this, but I have been meaning to write about it for a month or so. And, since I have homework to procrastinate about, today became the day.

So, the deal is that honeybee colonies are dying off at these crazy rates, and no one is entirely sure what the cause is, though there are lots of theories...some, all, or none of which may be correct. It is called CCD, or colony collapse disorder.

Watc
h this video.

I know most people are saying "so what", which is a completely logical response, but the fact is that the phrase "busy bee" isn't just a bunch of hot air. Honeybees do lots for you even if you have never taken the time to think about it. The reality is, most people foolishly take the bees for granted, and we shouldn't.

Like what?

Well, let's start with some obvious
answers. First of all, they are the only insects that produce food for humans. Honey. Bees have been producing honey for 150 million years. Even if you don't buy and use straight honey, chances are you are still consuming it in various products from BBQ sauce to granola bars. And, there are honey/honeybee festivals all over the country. There is even a National Honey Board that has a wealth of information about the honey industry, recipes, etc.

Next up is wax. Bees
wax is used for way more than candles. 60% of bees wax is used in manufacturing cosmetics and pharmaceuticals! Who knew! In addition to these, beeswax is also used in many adhesives and polishes. Check out more here.

So, aside from these 2 primary products, why care about the honeybees? How about this...they are single-handedly responsible for pollinating about 1/3 of the foods we eat and $15,000,000,000 in crops every year. Thanks to honeybees we have apples, cherries, almonds, strawberries, asparagus, grapes, cranberries, blueberries, watermelon, pumpkins...and the list goes on and on.

There is a very good chance you have a very good reason to be grateful to these little wonders who work a 10 hour day without any breaks.

There are lots of scientists studying CCD around the country and around the world. But, there are things you can do to help as well!

WAYS TO HELP:

1. Spread the word. I would bet that most people don't even know this is an issue, and you can help educate them.

2. Support Beekeepers. Honey is the greenest sweetener around!

3. Plant a bee friendly garden. Choose plants that have long flowering periods, and be sure to have a birdbath for drinking!

4. Eat Ice Cream
. Häagen-Dazs has really gotten behind this issue, and the least we can do is support them! A portion of the proceeds from each container of "Bee-Built" flavors is donated to this cause. Try their Vanilla Honey Bee! You can learn more about what Häagen-Dazs is doing here.

6.06.2009

Let Them Eat Cake!

Last weekend was my grandfather's 80th birthday. Mr. K & I flew home for the party, which I and my aunt planned. Anyway, it occurred to me that I inhereted my sweet tooth from one, or both, of my grandparents. I was surprisingly good about watching what I ate and I even brought my workout stuff with me. But, its hard to say no all 55 times someone offers you candy, ice cream, etc...which is how my grandmother rolls.

So the party was actually on Saturday, and just about everyone showed. And, since he had recently suffered a fall, my grandfather was only able to make a cameo. As I said I did a good portion of the planning including the cake. The theme was gameshows, so the cake was a Wheel of Fortune wheel. Mr. K helped (AKA took over), and it came out really cute. But, the strangest thing happened just after we played Jimpardy and ate...a complete set cousins who shall remain nameless left...as in BEFORE THE CAKE. Ummm...who leaves before the best part? Oh well, more buttercream for me.





Then just today, which is now yesterday, my friend Sally made a comment on Facebook about going to her nephew's birthday party, but said she was going to miss the cake. OMFG! WHAT??!?!? Another one?So, it has occurred to me that this is some new crazy ass trend of the worst kind. As Mr. K would say "Are you a communist?" Who doesn't want cake? It's mindboggling to me. It is the antithesis of me. In fact, I refuse to go anywhere unless there will be cake available.


(SIGH)

I'm OK.

Getting back to my grandparents for just a moment. I joke about them eating so much sugar, and I honestly wish they ate better, but it is part of why I am so comforted when I am with them. It's silly, and certainly there is more to my relationship than that, but I love that when I am with them I am a little girl again and Nan & Grampy will always have little treats for me.


I make a conscious effort these days to eat better and exercise. I worry about my weight and health just like everyone else. And, after all, that is how my little blog was born. But, there also has to be a line. I think it is just as unhealthy to always deny yourself. Dessert feeds your soul. It's one of life's happy endings, and we need happy endings in today's world.

Ernestine Ulman, an American writer, said "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first."

I agree!

Life is short. Cake is delicious. Indulge.

6.05.2009

Produce PLU's


You know those annoying little stickers on your fruits and veggies? Well, it turns out they actually have a purpose other than being annoying and slowing you down when you are about to chop. I came across a tiny tid bit in Cooking light magazine that explains...


Each produce item in the grocery store receives a four to five digit price look-up code (AKA "PLU"), as determined by the International Federation for Produce Standards. If the item is organic, it will have a five digit number beginning with 9. Conventionally grown produce will have a four digit number, usually beginning with a 4.

And, I also came across this site which is pretty cool.

'Cause knowledge is power! Yeah!

6.04.2009

Eat The Rainbow

Just about everyone I know, myself included, would like to look and feel better. And, the diet industry makes billions every year. Americans are the most obese in the world! Which is why I love that the new trend in dieting is not to diet. Even Weight Watchers tells you that diets don't work. The reality is that you need to change your lifestyle or menu permanently, not just until you get wear you want to be. It makes so much sense, and yet so many of us struggle with it.

I was watching a cooking segment of a talk show and the guest mentioned an easy way of keeping yourself on track. EAT THE RAINBOW. I have heard this little mantra before, but I still like it. It takes all the guesswork out of any food plan. The more colorful and vibrant your plate is, the healthier you are eating. It's as simple as that. And, Let's face it, nothing that comes out of a package looks at appealing, smells as good, or tastes as delicious as fresh produce.

So, the following is some info I came across that breaks down the colors. It tells you what's so fab about each color, and gives samples of those foods.

Check it out!






Red fruits and vegetables are colored by natural plant pigments called "lycopene" or "anthocyanins." Lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit, for example, may help reduce risk of several types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. Lycopene in foods containing cooked tomatoes, such as spaghetti sauce, and a small amount of fat are absorbed better than lycopene from raw tomatoes.

Anthocyanins in strawberries, raspberries, red grapes and other fruits and vegetables act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Antioxidants are linked with keeping our hearts healthy, too.

Red apples
Beets
Red cabbage
Cherries
Cranberries
Pink grapefruit
Red grapes
Red peppers
Pomegranates
Red potatoes
Radishes
Raspberries
Rhubarb
Strawberries
Tomatoes
Watermelon



Orange/yellow fruits and vegetables are usually colored by natural plant pigments called "carotenoids." Beta-carotene in sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes. Scientists have also reported that carotenoid-rich foods can help reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and can improve immune system function.


One study found that people who ate a diet high in carotenoid-rich vegetables were 43 percent less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, an eye disorder common among the elderly, which can lead to blindness.

Carotenoids also may be good for your heart. One study found that men with high cholesterol who ate plenty of vegetables high in carotenoids had a 36 percent lower chance of heart attack and death than their counterparts who shunned vegetables.


Citrus fruits like oranges are not a good source of vitamin A. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce risk of birth defects.

Yellow apples
Apricots
Butternut squash
Cantaloupe
Carrots
Grapefruit
Lemons
Mangoes
Nectarines
Oranges
Papayas
Peaches
Pears
Yellow peppers
Persimmons
Pineapple
Pumpkin
Rutabagas
Yellow summer or winter squash
Sweet corn
Sweet potatoes
Tangerines
Yellow tomatoes
Yellow watermelon



Green fruits and vegetables are colored by natural plant pigment called "chlorophyll." Some members of the green group, including spinach and other dark leafy greens, green peppers, peas, cucumber and celery, contain lutein. Lutein works with another chemical, zeaxanthin, found in corn, red peppers, oranges, grapes and egg yolks to help keep eyes healthy. Together, these chemicals may help reduce risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness if untreated.


The "indoles" in broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables may help protect against some types of cancer. Leafy greens such as spinach and broccoli are excellent sources of folate, a B vitamin that helps reduce risk of birth defects.

Green apples
Artichokes
Asparagus
Avocados
Green beans
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Green cabbage
Cucumbers
Green grapes
Honeydew melon
Kiwi
Lettuce
Limes
Green onions
Peas
Green pepper
Spinach
Zucchini



Blue/purple fruits and vegetables are colored by natural plant pigments called "anthocyanins." Anthocyanins in blueberries, grapes and raisins act as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. They may help reduce risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease. Other studies have shown that eating more blueberries is linked with improved memory function and healthy aging.


Blackberries
Blueberries
Eggplant
Figs
Juneberries
Plums
Prunes
Purple grapes
Raisins


White fruits and vegetables are colored by pigments called "anthoxanthins." They may contain health-promoting chemicals such as allicin, which may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and may help reduce risk of stomach cancer and heart disease. Some members of the white group, such as bananas and potatoes, are good sources of the mineral potassium, too.


Bananas
Cauliflower
Garlic
Ginger
Jicama
Mushrooms
Onions
Parsnips
Potatoes
Turnips


6.02.2009

Sweet Potato Fries


Sweet potato fries are seemingly the new big trendy thing. I am seeing them more and more on menus everywhere. I have also bought them frozen, where you just bake them. More recently, though, I have started making them myself which is WAY cheaper.

Making sweet potato fries is extremely easy. I buy a few fresh sweet potatoes at the grocery store, and they last for quite a while if I can't make the fries right away. I opt for fatter ones vs. long skinny ones because I feel like I will get more fries that way...but whatever. I also wash them as soon as I get home, so when I actually decide to cook them, they are ready to go.

To make the fries, start by just cutting up the potato into fries, whatever size and shape you prefer. I usually do a thicker "steak fries" style, and I leave the skins on. The skins are good for you, and I like rustic sort of look they give.

Once they are cut, I throw them into a bowl with a Tbl of olive oil, add whatever seasons I am using, and toss them to coat. Then I bake them at 375 for about 15 minutes or until golden.

The recipe for making them really depends on you, and what seasoning your like. Personally I like rosemary, and I adore garlic. I have also done them with steak seasoning or rubs as well. And since some like it hot, you can always do cayenne pepper. For this step...the sky is the limit. Use your imagination. Get creative.

And, speaking of creative, you don't have to stop at sweet potatoes. I have also tried zucchini fries and celery root fries. Both are also delicious and a healthy alternative to traditional french fries. I like to make a big plate of them for lunch. They are so good, so filling, and FAT FREE!!!

In fact, sweet potatoes are hugely good for you! A superfood if you will. They are a fiber powerhouse, which is great news if you are watching your weight since fiber keeps you fuller longer. They have all sorts of Vitamins...A, B, and C to name a few. The are good for your eyes, your heart, your blood sugar, your cholesterol. I liked this article, if you want to read more.

5.20.2009

Cell Phones For Soldiers




The other day I got a wild hair and decided to clean out the junk drawer in the kitchen. When I did I found 2 or 3 of Mr. K's old cell phones. On top of this, I know we have a few more lying around. Truthfully, I don't know why we even kept them, but they seem like something you don't just throw away...so they stay.

One of my new campaigns is to get things done. I think if Mr. K took an entire month off, we still couldn't get all those little things done. But, I thought if we made a huge ridiculous list that we could plug away at it a little at a time.

Back to the cell phones.

These old useless cell phones have now made it to the list. Find something to do with them.

I started searching the internet for information on recycling old cell phones. The first stat I found was that I wasn't the only one with such a pile. There are 500 million old cell phones lying around waiting to be thrown away.

Cell phones and accessories are made from valuable resources such as precious metals, copper, and plastics - all of which require energy to extract and manufacture. Recycling cell phones reduces greenhouse gas emissions, keeps valuable material out of landfills and incinerators, and conserves natural resources. Recycling just a million cell phones reduces greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 33 cars off the road for a year.

Cell phone recycling and wireless recycling programs keep valuable materials out of landfills, including an estimated $630,000 of precious metals from circuit boards, and enough copper from phone chargers to recover the Statue of Liberty, twice.

So, recycling cell phones is good for the environment.

But, wait...there's more.

You can donate the phone to charity, too. And, that is when I came across Cell Phones For Soldiers. Basically, it works like this...You gather up your old phones and mail them in. The sell the phones to a company that recycles them for that valuable material. The money they get from selling the phones is used to purchase calling cards for soldiers stationed overseas, allowing them to call home.

Cell Phones for Soldiers was founded by teenagers Robbie and Brittany Bergquist from Norwell, Mass., with $21 of their own money. Since then, the registered 501c3 non-profit organization has raised almost $2 million in donations and distributed more than 500,000 prepaid calling cards to soldiers serving overseas.

This program is cool on so many levels, and you should help out! Click here to donate your old phones today.

5.19.2009

Calling Dr. Pepper


No, not that Dr. pepper.

I have been teaching myself to cook for the last 9 months or so. And, being the wife of a restaurant/chef (sort of), my kitchen is filled with lots of gadgets and "good" knives. All I know, is when we first moved in together I was chastised for attempting to place one in the dishwasher. A mistake I have never repeated.

So, I am not what you would call a natural in the kitchen, or any other place where I am required to wield sharp objects. Maybe my husband is right when he says I have ADD. I like to think I just do a bad impression of the quick knife skills of the chefs on Food Network. But, whatever the case, I cut myself a lot. And, not on purpose.

I asked for a mandolin once some time ago. And, Mr. K sighed deeply and said "I don't think I would feel comfortable with you using a mandolin." I asked again, more recently, and he said he would think about it if we could find one that had a really good safety that would block me from slicing my hand off.

As I said, it isn't strictly knives, its any sharp object. 2 days ago I snipped my finger while giving the dog a trim. And, once I got crazy with a block of cheese a gratered my finger pretty good.

It just occurred to me that no one who reads this will ever eat my cooking again.

Anyway, I found this little tidbit, and thought I would post it for all the other inept wannabe chefs out there.

Next time you nick yourself in the kitchen, reach for the black pepper. Run cold water over the wound to clean it, using soap if you were handling meat. Then sprinkle on the pepper and apply pressure. In no time, the bleeding will stop. Turns out, black pepper has analgesic, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. Pepper doesn't sting, either!

Wonderful Watermelon


When I was little I loved watermelon gum. And, to this day, if I am stuck in line at the grocery store, I will pick a pack and take whiff. It still smells awesome...even if I no longer relish the taste.

Real watermelon, on the other hand, has never been as appealing to me. I know so many people who really love a slice in the summer, but I unfortunately am not among them. To me it doesn't really taste at all. It is just...watery I guess.

And yet, I am drawn to watermelon in a weird way. It is big, and therefore hard to miss piled high at the grocery store. It is colorful...hot pink and green is an eye catching combo. And, I just like the name. Watermelon.

What's even more appealing about this BBW (big beautiful watermelon, in this instance), is that it's beauty is much more than skin deep. Watermelon is incredibly good for you! Like, really good for you. So good, that it would be easier to tell you what's NOT good about it.

First of all, lycopene. A few years ago, we started hearing all about lycopene. It is good for you and you should consume it. Vitamin commercials praised it, and pretty soon ketchup bottles jumped on the bandwagon since lycopene is most notably found in tomatoes. The truth is, the jury is still out on the actual verdict, but there is some evidence which link the antioxident effects of lycopene to decreases in things like cancer & cardiovascular disease. And, even though tomotoes get most of the credit, watermelon may actually be a better source since the high water content makes it easier for your body to absorb it.

Next up, vitamins.

Vitamin A in watermelon helps prevent night blindness and macular degeneration (AKA your eyes getting bad as you age) and boosts immunity by enhancing infection-fighting action in lymphocytes.

Vitamin B6 found in watermelons is extremely useful in manufacturing brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine, which preliminary research shows may help the body cope with anxiety and panic.

Vitamin C is also instrumental in boosting the body immune system and also deters aging and conditions such as cataract.

Watermelon also provides minimal amount of Potassium, which reduces muscle cramps and helps fight osteoporosis, kidney stones, high blood pressure, and strokes.

Finally, as the name would indicate, water. Watermelons by weight are about 92% water. So they are a filling and hydrating snack. And, we all know by now how important water is to our bodies, especially during hot summer months.

There are more than 1200 varieties of watermelon ranging in size from less than a pound, to more than 200 pounds with flesh that is red, orange, yellow, or white. It is believed to have originated in southern Africa, and watermelon seeds were even found in the tomb of the Pharoah Tutankhamun. Today the seeds are roasted and used as a healthy snack in many Arab countries because they are high in protein and fiber.

You can check out the National Watermelon Promotion Board for more information than you ever dreamed possible on watermelons. How to choose a good one, festivals in your area, tons of recipes, and LOTS more. I am pretty anxious to try the summer melon soup myself.

5.01.2009

Sunburn Cures

If you missed my riveting expose on sunscreen, chances are you ended up with a nasty sunburn.

If so, shame on you!

But, to show that all the nasty things people say about aren't entirely true...I am going to help you out.

Here are some effective ways to take the sting out of the burn:

Lavender Essential Oil. Drip onto the effected area, and very gently rub it around.

Vinegar. Just soak some face clothes in white vinegar, and apply to the skin.

Baking Soda. Just like vinegar, there are a million uses for baking soda, and one happens to be treating sunburns. You can add this to a bath or make a paste and apply it to the burn.

Cold Whole Milk. Not so cold that send the person into shock, but cold. Again, just soak a face cloth and apply to the effected area. Be sure to take a shower afterward or you won't be very popular the next day.

Aloe Vera. Many people know about this one, but unfortunately most OTC "aloe" isn't actually pure aloe, so the relief you're seeking isn't going to happen. Either pop open an actual leaf, or go to a health food store where you are buying the real thing.


Tea. Make a tea using about 4 teabags per quart. Allow the tea to cool to lukewarm. Soak a rag or dark colored face cloth in the tea, and place the soaked cloth onto the victim. This will drip, so do so in the tub, or laying on an old towel.

Water. This is sort of a no brainer, but important to remember. You need to hydrate yourself...inside and out. Take lots of baths and drink lots of water.

Yogurt. Apply a thick layer to the burn and allow it to sit for about an hour, and rinse.

Crushed Ice and Instant Potatoes. This was one of the more unique remedies I came across. I almost want to go out and fry myself just so I can see if it really works. The ice is obvious, but the starch in the potato is helpful as well.

Preparation H. Reduces the inflammation and takes out the sting...everywhere apparently.

Cucumber Slices. Apply thin slices of cold cucumber to the burn and remove when they become warm.

Mashed Strawberries. I wasn't able to find out why this should be helpful, but there you go. Strawberries.

Which Hazel. This has a lovely, and much appreciated, cooling effect.

1 part Tomato & 6 parts Buttermilk. Pour onto the burn and allow to sit for 1 hour. Rinse, and repeat as necessary.

Again, keep in mind, it is much easier to prevent than to treat! Wear sunscreen
!

4.29.2009

Smell 6 Years Younger

Dr. Alan Hirsch, director of the Smell and Taste Treatment Research Foundation in Chicago, reported that a study showed that women wearing the scent of pink grapefruit were perceived by men to be six years younger than their age.

Other scents put on middle-aged models had no effect, Hirsch said, including broccoli, pumpkin pie, banana, cucumbers and spearmint leaves.

Hirsch, a board-certified neurologist and psychiatrist, said grapefruit's aroma has no effect on a woman's perception of a man's age.

Hirsch's study is getting attention all over the country. The researcher doesn't know why grapefruit's scent has such an effect on men and noted perfumes don't have the same effect as grapefruit. "Maybe it induced men to become sexually aroused," Hirsch speculated.


There are about a million grapefruit perfumes and body sprays out there. You can do a search to find one you like or just hit up Bath & Body Works. However, I recommend investing in a little bottle of essential oil for a few reasons. A) The scent will be a little less diluted and a little more authentic than in a OTC perfume or body spray...since its from the real deal. B) You can do lots with essential oils, so your little $5 to $10 bottle will go a lot further.

Here are 10 ways to use your grapefruit essential oil:

1. Add 10 drops to your bath water.

2. Add 5 drops to a cotton ball, and place in drawers, closets, etc for a homemade sachet/air freshener. This is also a good one for inside shoes or at the bottom of the kitchen trash can.

3. Make your own body spray. Add 15 drops to a 1 oz. glass spray bottle of spring water. Shake well before each use. This can also double as a room spray or fabric refresher.

4. Add 10 drops to a clean dry rag for a homemade, cost effective, and environmentally friendly dryer sheet.

5. Add 15 drops/oz. to jojoba oil for a homemade after bath moisturizure or massage oil.

6. Make your own, chemical free carpet powder by adding 5 drops per cup of baking soda. Sprinkle over carpets and allow to sit for an hour or so, then vaccum up.

7. Make your own diffuser by putting 1 drop on your light bulbs. The heat will evaporate the oil, and fill the room with fragrance. Just don't try it on halogen!

8. You can add 1 drop to a tealight to make your own scented candles.

9. You can add a few drops to the rinse water of your dishes or when cleaning out the refridgerator.

10. Grapefruit is uplifting and rejuvinating. Why not spend 15 minutes in the morning just inhaling the scent. Clothes your eyes, breathe deep, and get ready for the day.

In addition to smelling great, grapefruits are also great for you! Check out my previous post on grapefruits but clicking here.

Free Sachet

You know those scent strips inside magazines that let you preview a perfume? If you are like me, you give them a quick whiff and move on, right? Well, I found the best little use for them! Cut them out and shove them in a drawer or place on the closet shelf for a quick and free sachet!

Postage Stamp Increase



I had heard this was on the horizon, but I didn't pay too much attention to when it was actually going into effect.

As of May 11th the price of stamps will be increasing by .02¢. It will now cost .44¢ to mail a regular old letter. The only way around this is to stock up on Forever stamps now.

In addition to stamps, pretty much every other postal service will be increasing as well. For a full list of the new pricing go HERE.

4.28.2009

Sunscreen


Today's blog is brought to you today by my eavesdropping. Sort of. I was present during a conversation between my biology instructor and a female student.

She had asked our instructor if he wore sunscreen because he is very tan. He said he did NOT because he found that when he wears it as part of his routine, if he forgets it for a day, he tends to get a very bad burn because his body is so "dependant" the sunscreen. I had never heard this claim before, and tend to think that its a little exaggerated.

Next, the conversation turned to recent rumors or warnings about sunscreens containing cancer causing chemicals. This was a new one for me, too, and I began to feel very out of the loop.

At this point I interjected myself into the conversation and suggested an organic sunscreen. However, according to the other student, the organic sunscreens contain the same carcinogens as the inorganic versions, namely titanium dioxide.

So, naturally, I needed to investigate it.

First off, all sunscreens work in pretty much the same way whether they are organic or not. They keep your skin hydrated so it is less susceptible to damage and they reflect or absorb UVA/UVB rays...which do the damage. The SPF rating is the degree to which the sunscreen does this. The lighter you are, the less ability you have to do this naturally, and the greater an SPF you need. You can read more about sunscreen, and the extremely complicated SPF ratings,
here.

Next is organic vs. inorganic. You automatically think organic must be better, right? See how easily we are conditioned! For food, organic typically means little or no man made chemicals, but for sunscreens this is not the case. For sunscreens, organic means carbon compounds and inorganic means other chemical compounds such as titanium dioxide. Note that BOTH VERSIONS HAVE CHEMICALS. Also, organic version tend to absorb the rays, and inorganics tend to reflect them. Most popular OTC sunscreens are a mix or both of these.

So, what other option do you have? Well, you can always make your own. Its a little bit of a project, but certainly not an all day event. And, personally, I like knowing what is going in or on my body these days. So, if you're so inclined, the recipe is as follows...

Homemade Sunscreen
3 tablespoons of unrefined sesame oil
1 tablespoon of unrefined avocado oil
1 tablespoon of unrefined jojoba oil
1 tablespoon of almond oil
1 tablespoon of shea butter
2 tablespoons of cocoa butter
1 teaspoon of beeswax
1 teaspoon of soy-lecithin liquid
2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel
2 tablespoons of lavender water
½ teaspoon of borax powder
20 drops carrot seed essential oil
3-5 drops of coconut fragrance oil

The majority of these ingredients can be purchased at a health foods store or an organic skincare shop. You can also specially order them online with a simple google search.

1. Combine the first 7 ingredients by melting them over medium heat in a double boiler. Once melted, add the soy-lecithin. Mix these together and remove from the heat.

2. Warm the aloe vera and lavender water, stirring in the borax until it is dissolved.

3. When both of these mixtures are about the same temperature, mix the 2 concoctions forcefully (you can use a food processor). A cream should come out of this. Be sure to blend thoroughly.

4. Stir in the carrot-seed and coconut.

If you're not up for making your own, here are a few ready made, less chemically version to try:


Organic Hemp Seed Oil Sun Block


Organic Mineral Sunscreens, SPF 15, SPF 20, SPF 30 and SPF 40 Lavera Organic All Natural Makeup and Skin Care


Natures Trusted Source

Now, regardless of what sunscreen you choose...organic, homemade, or otherwise...it is important to realize that no sunscreen offers 100% protection from the sun. There are lots of other steps you can and should take.

1. Limit your exposure. It's just like sex...the only safe sex is no sex. Well, the same goes for the sun. The best protection is to stay away or cover up, especially during peak hours (10AM - 4PM). And, wear a hat and sunglasses...your skin isn't the only thing in danger!

2. Use sunscreen all the time, not just at the beach. Lots of lotions and cosmetics now come with a built in sunscreen so those are good options for everyday use, though obviously not sufficient for a day in the sun.

3. When you will be spending time outdoors, choose a sunscreen with a high SPF rating that is water proof. Apply it 30 minutes before sun exposure, like before you get in the car to drive to the beach, not when you get there...and reapply it every 2 hours.

Now you're ready for fun in the sun!

For even more info, check out the
Sun Safety Alliance.

4.27.2009

Eat Sun Chips


Frito-Lay has announced one of their snacks is becoming just a bit more sustainable. Starting in 2010, all of the SunChips multigrain chips will come in fully compostable bags made out of plant-based materials. They claim the packaging will completely decompose in about 14 weeks. Let’s hope they begin using this type of bag for all their snacks.


Debbie is right. Why doesn't everyone do this?


You can read more here.

Stacations

If you aren't planning a trip this summer, why not make staying home more fun? You don't have to leave town to have an active vacation.

Here are 10 ways to liven up your leisure time at home (or at least in the neighborhood).

1. Check into adult swim hours at your local pool. Hit the water and swim some laps.







2. Instead of climbing the walls at home, literally climb the walls — at a local rock-climbing gym
.








3. Dust off your bike and cycle through your neighborhood
.







4. Grab a partner and visit the public tennis courts or golf course; forgoing the golf cart, of course.








5. Take a walking tour of your town's business and shopping area.







6. Put on a pair of in-line skates and do some laps in the park.








7. Head for the local bowling alley or ice rink for an hour or two
.







8. Move your weight-training and toning exercises into the backyard.









9. Find some empty bleachers at a local school and do some open-air stair climbing
.








10. Set up a croquet set, basketball hoop or volleyball net in your yard and challenge your kids to a game.

To "O" Or Not To "O"...

Since I started my organic campaign the ongoing debate, while wondering through the grocery store with Mr. K, is hwat difference it makes...besides the price.

I maintain that even if its a tiny better for you, why not? Don't all the tiny little bits add up? Don't get me wrong, I read the labels and I have a pretty good grasp on which ones mean what. If you don't check out this post.

Mr. K says it is an evil plot to get more money. The end.

So, when should you choose the organic option over the conventional choice?

Here is a little advice on when to splurge on the "O"..

1.Anything that is normally grown using man made pesticides. Fruits, veggies, nuts, etc

2. Anything you eat or drink in large quantites. For example, if you eat lots of cheese or pasta opt for organic when you buy that item.

So, there you go. 2 little steps.

4.24.2009

Water 101

Many years ago it was preached to us that we needed to start drinking more water, and lots of it.
So, we did.

And, pretty soon, everywhere you went there were people faithfully carrying water bottles everywhere they went!

Today, people all over the world spend billions of dollars for something in a bottle that all of us can get for free from our kitchen faucets.

Why?

Some people say it tastes better and others say its better for you. But, it that really how we feel or have we been conditioned to feel that way?

Check out this
20/20 segment.

Moving on.

More recently we are being told that we should be drinking water, but we shouldn't be drinking it out of plastic bottles. The reasons why vary.

Some people are environmentalist. The billion dollar bottled water industry dumps 60,000,000 empty bottles into American landfills...DAILY!

Personally, I don't think you need to be an environmentalist to think that stat is just plain horrible. Who in their right mind would be OK with this? Even if it's out of sight, out of mind...eventually, at this rate, it won't stay that way.

Some people are health junkies.

They claim that the plastic that are designer water comes in is killing us...slowly and surely! They tell us that the plastic bottle itself is putting invisible chemicals into the water that can lead to cancers, birth defects, and other such nastiness.

Some people are just plain scared, not to mention confused.

It is hard to know what is the right thing to do.

To drink or not to drink?

Plastic?

Stainless steel?

Glass?

Paper? Yes. They make paper water bottles! Do a search.

So...my 2 cents is this:
A) Water should not be this complicated.
B) This is yet another instance where something good for you has gone bad.
C) You really need to get out and educate yourself.

As I mentioned, there are more than a few dollars in this kitty. For some, there is a lot at stake. And, in any situation where that is the case, the truth can get twisted along the way.

Personally, I gave up bottled water initially for the environment. Maybe not completely, but I stopped buying it in bulk from Costco, and now I only buy bottled if I am in a hostage crisis such an airport layover or a cross country drive. Most of the time we rely on the Pur water filter in the refrigerator. I even switched the dogs recently.

But, a few days ago I got an email with another bottled water warning. This one took things to another level by stating that not only should I not drink water out plastic bottles EVER, and especially if I leave them in my hot car, as this breaks down the plastic which then leaches into my water. OK. But, the email then goes on to say that this is also true of microwaving plastic containers, eating hot food with plastic utensils, warming plastic baby bottles....and so on and so on.

This means no Gladwear in your lunch at work. This means no quick reheating on the go. This means the Brita filter I sprung for might be just as damaging at the bottled water I gave up. This means a whole new ballgame, people!

Among many, there is a chemical called BPA which leaks into everything plastic touches. In a nutshell, BPA seemingly mimics the body's own hormones...therefore over time we OD on the effects of hormones, which can lead to birth defect and cancer. And, apparently, this has been a known fact since the 1930's. Again, as always, I encourage your own independent research.

So kids, the going advice these days is keep drinking water, but switching to either a reusable stainless steel or glass model. Purchasing a reusable water bottle is not only beneficial in keeping waste from our landfills, but they are also a healthy alternative to plastic bottles that can leach harmful chemicals including BPA. Stainless steel and glass are 100% recyclable and offers great durability.

Some not only hold the water, but filter it too! With normal drinkage, the filter only needs to be switched out once a year. Which will save lots of time and money over my Brita!

Here are some links.

EcoUsable

Kleen Kanteen

Love Bottles

48 Second Water Sanitizer

Back to The Tap

Kor One

4.23.2009

Heirloom Tomatoes



I have a unique love/hate relationship with tomatoes. There are instances where I do not like tomatoes anywhere near my plate and other instances where tomatoes have a starring role. This endlessly baffles Mr. K, as he can never seem to figure out which instances are which, and therefore cannot determine if I in fact like tomatoes or not. My answer would be...it depends.

In general, I would say I prefer them cooked over fresh. I always order sandwiches sans tomato, and remove them from my salads. On the other hand, I enjoy fresh bruchetta, and salsas.

When I was growing up, my uncle used to grow tomatoes in the backyard. So, for me tomatoes really signal summer. And, whether I am eating them or not, I adore their smell.

Last summer, during one of my grocery shopping adventures, I came across heirloom tomatoes. They really do look so much cooler than a regular tomato. They are bigger, bumpier, more colorful, and less perfect looking. You would probably assume that they are grown to be different, but to some degree it is actually the other way around.

"Regular" tomatoes are grown to be more uniform in shape, size, color, etc....so that they can be sort mass produced to meet the consumer demands. Most of the tomatoes purchased from grocery stores are hybrids. Without taking a detour into genetics, this means that the tomato growers take the best of the best from the tomato seeds, and over time they have created a tomato that is round, red, a certain size, etc etc. They have created the perfect looking tomato. Unfortunately, most people with agree that the taste of the tomato is sacrificed along the way, which is why it is so easy to tell the difference between store bought and home grown.

Heirloom tomatoes, on the other hand, are bred with a greater focus on the flavor instead, not the perfect look. And, rather then selectively breeding them to be something very specific, the good taste seeds are passed down and repeated over and over. Hence the name "heirloom".

You can use heirloom tomatoes in all your recipes that call for tomatoes, and do your own taste tests. There are even cookbooks out devoted completely to heirloom tomatoes!

Here is a summer cocktail to get you started on your own heirloom tomato adventure...
Heirloom Martini
1/4 piece heirloom tomato
Small sprig fresh basil plus more leaves, for garnish
2 ounces vodka
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 ounce Cointreau
Ice
In a pint glass or a shaker, muddle the tomato and basil. Add ice, vodka, lemon juice and Cointreau. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a basil leaf.