Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Kimchee-The What?

Forget cigarettes…Give me kimchee.

Forget making cookies in the weeks before Christmas…Let’s all make kimchee.

Forget quilting bees and craft nights…Let’s all get together to make kimchee.

Forget cheese…We want kimchee.

Supposedly this can all be said of the Korean nation, where the average person consumes about fotty pounds of kimchee per year. To put that in better perspective, that’s more than the typical American consumes of coffee or cocoa or nuts. cheese, eggs, shellfish, or fish.

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Why even bring up the topic of kimchee at this point?

Because we’re talking about cabbage and refrigeration, and I always seem to have at least one jar of kimchee in my fridge at all times…and found some yesterday as I was cleaning out my fridge.

So what exactly is kimchee?

Kimchee, the traditional Korean dish, is a condiment of salted and fermented vegetables such as napa cabbage and daikon radish, sices such as chili powder and ginger, and salted seafood.

Kimchee, the national dish of both North and South Korea, is do revered by Koreans that during the Vietnam War, negotiations were made by the Korean and American government to ensure that kimchee was available to the Korean troops.

Koreans have been eating kimchee in some sort of fashion way back since 37 BC.

During this timeframe Buddhism, and the related vegetarian lifestyle, became important factors in the Korean lifestyle.

These ancient Koreans were highly skilled in the art of fermenting and pickling  vegetables in order to help preserve the lifespan of certain foods.

Koreans can, and do, actually make kimchee out of anything edible.

This fact leads to infinite possibilities and preferences depending on what region you may be and what season it is and what ingredients you have close at hand.

In fact, today there are over 180 recognized varieties of kimchee available.

The most typical type of kimchee available today is “mak kimchi,” or simple kimchee…a type of kimchee typically made with cut cabbage, radish, and scallions and a seasoned paste of red pepper, garlic, ginger, sugar, and fish sauce, salted shrimp, or kelp powder.

More than 70% of the kimchee sold on the market today is mak kimchee.

But here are a few more ingredients to consider as you would like to make kimchee yourself…

Vegetables...Even though napa cabbage is the vegetable most commonly used to make modern versions of kimchee, the cabbage was only introduced to Korea at the end of 19th century.

Other vegetables used to make kimchee can include…

  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Mustard greens
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes (Korean radishes, ponytail radishes, gegeol radishes, yeolmu radishes)
  • Scallions
  • Soybean sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Sugar beets
  • Sweet potato vines
  • Tomatoes

Spices…

Chili Pepper…Even though chili pepper is now the expected spice in kimchee, chili pepper was not used until much later than the early days of kimchee. In fact, chili peppers were introduced to the Korean people around the year 1614 by Portuguese traders.

Gochugaru, or red pepper powder…This spice gives kimchee its expected spicy flavor. You can find this spice in Korean grocery stores and online…and in different grades of coarseness and spiciness…more on this later…

Other spices used to make kimchee include garlic and ginger. Garlic wasn’t used as a spice to make kimchee until the early seventeenth century.

Fish…

The most common fish used to give kimchee its authentic flavor is saeujeot, Korean salted shrimp. These shrimp are very small and naturally fermented.

You can find these shrimp in the refrigerator case of Korean markets….more on this later.

Two more options as far as the “fishy” part of kimchee would be kelp powder and salted anchovies.

But First…

But before we go and buy the first jar of kimchee that we see and look at recipes for making our own kimchee and finding ways to kee it from rotting in the back of our fridge, let’s see why we should eat kimchee…and all fermented foods…in the first place.

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy—The Which?

So now that we have learned more about what bok choy actually is and why bok choy can be an important food for us, how do we know that we are choosing the best bok choy that we could possibly buy?First of all, bok choy should be found in the refrigerated section of the produce aisle because warm temperatures cause the leaves to wilt and negatively affect its flavor.

In fact, bok choy is one of the few vegetables that, even though available throughout the year, reaches its peak availability from the middle of winter through the beginning of spring.

Seems kind of obvious that we never want to purchase any type of produce that has wilted leaves, but what else should we look for when buying bok choy?

Leaves…The leaves of bok choy should be firm and brightly colored. Check the bok choy for any signs of browning, yellowing, and small holes.

Stems…The stems of bok choy should be moist and hardy.

Organic…Buying produce that is certified organic can greatly reduce the likelihood of exposure to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals. To make sure that you are buying organic produce, always look for the USDA organic logo.

Bok choy can stay fresh in the refrigerator for about one week if stored properly. Store bok choy in a plastic storage bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy…The Why?!

 

1. The Serving Size…The first thing to consider when starting to weed out your pantry or fridge in the game called “What Not to Eat” is the “Serving Size.”

Serving Size cannot be ignored…sad, but true…

Knowing all of the nutritional value in the Serving Size given on the actual package does not do a bit of good if you’re not actually eating the size that they supposedly tell you that you’re supposed to be eating. If you eat the whole entire box of Cap’N Crunch cereal, you have obviously eaten way more calories than the number of calories that they had expected you to have eaten. And not only have you eaten way more calories, you have also jacked up all those other supposedly important nutrient numbers also…

The nutritional value of bok choy here is based on a serving size of 1/2C.

 

 

2. Calories...Calories provide a measure of how much energy you get from a serving of this food. Needless to say, far too many Americans consume way more calories than they could ever actually need. Yet they hardly ever even come close to meeting the “official” recommended intakes for the many different nutrients that our bodies need.

As a general reference for looking at calorie content when looking at a Nutrition Facts label, remember that…Any food item containing somewhere around forty calories is considered to be a low-calorie food item…Any food item containing somewhere around a hundred calories is considered to be “average” or moderate…Any food item containing four hundred calories or more is considered a high-calorie food item.

One-half cup of bok choy contains 13 calories.

 

3. “Limit These” Nutrients...The next section of the nutrition label details the specific nutrients contained in the food item.

The actual specific nutrients listed first are those nutrients that all of us generally eat in adequate amounts. These are shown as a percentage, showing what percentage of the amount of the recommended nutrients that food item contributes to your daily diet.
The nutrients included in this section are carbohydrates, fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar.

  • a,  Carbohydrates…One-half cup serving of bok choy contains two grams of carbohydrates.
  • b. Fats…No daily recommendation has been formally established by the FDA at this point, so your main goal is to limit “bad” fats and get enough “good” fats…Bok choy contains absolutely zero fat.
  • c. Protein…Unless a food item makes a claim regarding its protein content—such as being “high in protein” or is marketed specifically for infants and children under four years old, this nutrient is often now shown. This is not a big deal because studies show that most of us actually do get enough protein in our diets already.
  • d. Sugar…No set-in-stone daily value has actually been established for sugar either, but obviously it’s important to limit the amount of sugar you consume each day.
    The amount of sugar shown will include both any naturally-occurring sugar and those sugars actually added to a food or drink. Check the ingredient list for specifics on added sugars…

 

 

4. “Get Enough of These” Nutrients…The nutrients listed next are those nutrients that hardly any of us generally eat in adequate amounts. These nutrients include fiber, vitamins,

a. Fiber…Fiber helps keep the digestive system running smoothly—bulking up stools, ensuring the smooth passage of food through the intestinal tract, stimulating gastric and digestive juices so nutrients are absorbed in the most efficient and rapid way, promoting healthy bowel function, and reducing the symptoms from conditions like constipation and diarrhea.

The recommended daily amount of fiber that each of us should be eating each day is 25 grams.

Bok choy provides one gram, or 4%DV of dietary fiber.

 

 

b.  Vitamins…Bok choy contains about half of your daily requirement for saeveral different nutrients—including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B6.

  • Vitamin A…89%…essential for a properly functioning immune system.
  • Vitamin B1…(Thiamine)…3%
  • Vitamin B2)…Riboflavin…6%
  • Vitamin B3…Niacinn…3%
  • Vitamin B5…Pantothenic acid…2%
  • Vitamin B6…15%
  • Vitamin B9…Folate —prevents certain birth defects like spinal bifida and neural tube defects….may also help prevent strokes….17%
  • Vitamin C…75%…vitamin C is an antioxidant that shields the body from free radicals.
  • Vitamin K…..44%…Vitamin K helps with blood clotting and maintaining strong bones and teeth.

 

 

c.  Minerals…

  • Calcium…11%…The recommended daily value for calcium is 1,000mg.
  • Copper…Copper helps strengthen your bone density and your blood vessels, helps keep your nerves healthy, and boosts your immune system.
  • Iron..6%…A diet low in iron can make you feel tired and have little or no energy. The RDA for iron is…13.7–15.1 mg/day in children aged 2–11 years…16.3 mg/day in children and teens aged 12–19 years…19.3–20.5 mg/day in men…17.0–18.9 mg/day in women older than 19
  • Magnesium…5%
  • Manganese…8%
  • Potassium…5%…essential for healthy muscle and nerve function, strengthening your bone density, helping relax your blood vessels and arteries and reducing your risk of circulatory problems—such as blood clotting, heart attacks, hypertension, high blood pressure, strokes.
  • Sodium…4%
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Bok Choy…The What?!

Another leafy green vegetable that type 2 diabetics should consider adding to their diets is bok choy.

Bok choy has been cultivated in China for more than five thousand years and has played a large part not only in its cuisine, but also in traditional Chinese medicine.

Bok choy is a common ingredient in the foods cooked in the Philippines and Vietnam, even though most other countries rarely even use it as an ingredient, if at all.

Bok choy—sometimes referred to as white cabbage, mustard cabbage, celery cabbage, Chinese white cabbage, Chinese mustard, and white celery mustard—-is in fact a member of the cabbage family. In fact, the name “bok choy” is derived from the Cantonese words “bai cai,” which means “white cabbage.”

However, bok choy doesn’t look like a typical cabbage at all. Bok choy more closely resembles celery.

Nor does bok choy look like any other cruciferous vegetables—such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts—which form “heads” in their more mature plant stages.

Instead bok choy has smooth, dark green leaf blades that form a cluster similar to mustard greens or celery—resembling Romaine lettuce on top and a large celery on the bottom.

Even though we usually only envision the typical variety of bok choy found in local grocery stores, there are over twenty varieties of bok choy available.

A few of these varieties are…

  • Baby bok choy…a miniaturized version of bok choy that can often be found in Asian and Chinese supermarkets
  • Chinensis bok choy…do not form heads and have smooth, dark green leaf blades, much like mustard greens or celery
  • Choy sum…also known as “Chinese flowering cabbage,” has light green leaves and tiny yellow flowers, typically sold as trimmed leaves and stalks of choy sum instead of the whole plant, more expensive variety of bok choy
  • Mibuna Early, Canton, and Ching Chang—bok choy varieties that feature green spoon-shaped leaves and slightly flattened white stalks
  • Purple Hybrid—variety of bok choy with purple leaves
  • Shanghai Green and Green Boy—variety of bok choy that have stalks that are various shades of green

This leafy vegetable has a light, sweet flavor and a crispy, crunchy texture.

Bok choy is slowly becoming more and more popular here in American cuisine.

Bok choy can be used in many different ways—such as salads, soups and stir-fries.

So keep reading to learn what the nutritional benefits of bok choy are and for recipes to help you enjoy adding bok choy to your grocery list.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Better Buy Some Beet Greens

The second type of leafy green that you might consider adding to your diet if you are changing your lifestyle to a Raw Foods Diet or have recently been diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes…such as my husband has, which is why I even know that you can eat beet green right now…

Beets, and obviously beet greens which are attached to the beets, have been grown in the Mediterranean region as far back as 2,000 BC, Eventually beet cultivation spread to Babylonia in the 8th century, then to China around 850 A.D.

Today beets and beet greens are used in many different cuisines worldwide,  including Northern Africa and Asian menus.

There are basically three different categories of beets…

1.  Table Beets,,,These are grown for people to actually eat at the table,..(go figure)

2. Sugar Beets…These are grown in order to make beet sugar.

3. Fodder Beets…These are grow for specifically to feed animals.

Sugar beets are the beets that are most readily available.

About 30 million tons of sugar beets are grown and harvested in the U.S. each year.

Over 12,500,000 acres of sugar beets are planted on a global basis each year…1,250,000 of these acres planted here in the United States.

Minnesota, North Dakota, and Idaho are the states that produce the most beets in general.

On a global scale, the Russian Federation, France, United States, and Germany are among the leading sugar beet producers.

Even though people can actually eat both table beets and sugar beets, sugar beets have probably been genetically engineered.

Yet table beets are much harder to find. In fact, only 700 acres are planted in the United States each year.

The leaves of all varieties of table beets are green…and are also edible.

But the veins of the leaves do depend on the color of the beet root. For example, beet greens from yellow beets will have bright yellow veins, whereas beet greens from red beets will have rich red veins, and beet greens from white beets will have distinct white veins.

As far as taste, texture, and appearance, beet greens are very similar to Swiss chard, another member of  the same plant family.

Okay, so now that we know what beet greens are…why should we consider adding them to our diets…and how do you cook them?

That’s the next step in this journey…so keep reading…

Okay this may seem a little boring and who-cares-ish for most people who have just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but my main goal here is to be able to print the nutritional charts of all leafy greens so that whenever I am trying to decide which one I should be using in a specific recipe or for a specific health need, I’ll already have the information at my fingertips.

I have decided that I also want to tty a “blog a book” using the raw foods diet from the viewpoint of a newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic trying to rethink all of her family’s Deep Southern style of cooking that she has been mastering for the last thirty-something years from “Mom and ‘Em”…

Anyway, here’s the back of the package for easy reading as you eat your beet greens every morning instead of Froot Loops…

1.  General Information

  • Calories…38.88
  • Calories from Fat…1
  • Total Fat…0 g…0%
    Saturated Fat…0 g…0%
  • Cholesterol…0 mg…0%
  • Fiber…4 g,,,…17%
  • Protein…2 g

2.  Vitamin Content

  • Vitamin A…551.09 mcg,,,61
  • Vitamin B1…0.17 mg…14…6.6
  • Vitamin B2…0.42 mg…32…15.0
  • vitamin B3,,,0.72 mg…5…2.1
  • vitamin B6…0.19 mg…11…5.2
  • Vitamin B12…0.00 mcg
  • vitamin C…35.86 mg…48…22.1
  • Vitamin E,….2.61 mg (ATE)…17…8.4
  • vitamin K…696.96 mcg…774

3. Mineral Content

  • Calcium……164.16 mg…16.7.6
  • Copper….36 mg…40…18
  • Folate…20.16 mcg…5…2.3
  • iron…2.74 mg…15…7.0
  • Manganese,,,0.74 mg…32…14.9
  • Magnesium…97.92 mg…23…10.8
  • Phosphorus…59.04 mg…8,,,3.9
  • Potassium…1308.96 mg…28…f2.9
  • Sodium…347.04 mg…23

There are so many reasons for each of us to start adding more and more “leafy greens,” especially DGLV, to out diets that we should consider eating a serving of leafy greens to be way more important than simply eating an apple ever couldc be.

Let’s look back over a few health reasons for adding leafy greens to our diet… 

  1. Prevents eye disorders such as muscular degeneration and cataracts
  2. Helps strengthen the immune system
  3. Stimulates production of antibodies and white blood cells
  4. Is a known antioxidant that can fight the effects of free radicals in the body along with cancer and heart disease.
  5. Lowers your risk of developing night blindness….
  6. Contains blood clotting properties,
  7. Prevents osteoporosis
  8. Boosts bone strength
  9. May also prevent Alzheimer’s disease
  10. Could possible lower risk of getting certain chronic diseases—including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

So how do you know which beets, and obviously the greens that are attached to these beets, to buy?

1. The Beet Root…Things to look for…

  • Defects…Make sure that your beet roots are not cracked, soft, bruised, shriveled, or look very dry.
  • Organic…Buying product that is certified organically grown will decrease your likelihood of being exposued to contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals. Look for produce that shows the USDA organic logo.
  • Scales…Beets with round, scaly areas around the top surface will be tough, fibrous, and strongly flavored.
  • Smaller beet roots…Choose smaller beet roots that are not more than 2-1/2″ in diameter. Anything larger than that will probably be tough and have a woody core.
  • Texture…The actual beets should appear crisp, not wilted or slimy.

2, The Beet Greens…The beet greens should appear fresh, tender, and have a lively green color.

What do you do with the beets/beet greens when you do get them home?

  • Cut  most of the green parts from the actual beets.
  • Place the unwashed greens in a plastic bag, searate from the actual beets.
  • Squeeze as much of the air out of the bag as possible before closing and placing in the refrigerator.
  • Your beet greens should stay fresh for about four days.

Why do certain foods need to be refrigerated?

Refrigerating produce will maintain the nutritional value of nutrients that are highly susceptible to heat—such as Vitamin C, vitamin B6, and carotenoids—from being depleted by the following four factors…

  1. Exposure to air
  2. Exposure to heat
  3. Exposure to light
  4. Length of time in storage

There are several ways that beet greens can be prepared, but right now let’s take a look at the following four…

  1. Salad
  2. Saute
  3. Soups and Stews
  4. Lasagna and Pasta Dishes

Salad…Enjoy beet greens by themselves as a salad or with other leafy vegetables.

Beet Green, Almond, and Cranberry Salad

1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
1 pound spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons minced onion
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dried cranberries

  1. Toast the almonds…Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan.  Toast almonds lightly in butter,
  2. Make the dressing…Whisk together all remaining ingredients.
  3. Assemble the salad…Combine the toasted almonds, salad dressing, and beet greens, and cranberries just before serving.

Saute…Another option would be to sauté the beet greens  with onions—and assuming that you are not from the Deep South and absolutely refuse to give up the almighty bacon—bacon…

Beet Green, Onion, and Bacon Saute

  • 1 pound beet greens
  • 1 strip of thick cut bacon
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large minced garlic clove
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • .3 Tbsp of cider vinegar

1.Prepare the beet greens…Rinse the leaves under cold running water. Do not soak the leaves in the water as water-soluble nutrients will leach into the water. Cutt leaves off at the stem where the leafy portion end. Cut into ½” slices. Set aside.

2.  Cook the “other stuff”…Sauté the bacon, onions, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Bring mixture to a boil.

3. Add the beet greens…Add the beet greens gently into the onion mixture. Cover. Simmer ten minutes, or until the greens are tender.

A third option in using your beet greens is to make a soup or stew such as this one…

Beet Green and Vegetable Soup

  • 2Tbsp butter
    1 bunch spring onions, chopped
    1 leek, sliced
    2 small sticks celery, sliced
    1 small potato, peeled and diced
    ½ tsp pepper
  • 1lC chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1-1/2C beet greens
  • 1-1/4C sour cream

1.Cook the vegetables…Cook the spring onions, leek, celery and potato in butter. Cover with lid, Wait ten minutes, stirring a couple of times.

2,  Add the stock…Pour in the stock. Cook 15 minutes.

3,  Add the spinach…Add the spinach. Cook for a couple of minutes until wilted.

4,  Blend together…Use a hand blender to make a smooth soup. Stir in the sour cream. Reheat. Serve.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Leaves of Grass—and Bok Choy and Butterhead and Romaine

Growing up in the Deep South, I never thought that I would actually enjoy eating, much less, cooking…things like turnip greens or collard greens.

 

But now I actually enjoy eating them…(especially when they’re served with lots and lots of bacon, but more on that later)…

 

In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adults consume at least three cups of dark green vegetables each week.

Thankfully, there are several varieties of leafy greens out there…

I find the idea of eating three cups of mustard greens or collard greens still repulsive, but my Mom would be so glad that I actually do eat them now instead of feeding to the dog while she wasn’t looking.

So which ones should you choose and how do you use these before they sit too long in your food rotter…

All leafy greens are packed with important and powerful nutrients, and most can also be found year round. This makes adding them to your menu for the week quite an easy task.

As far as nutritional value, all leafy greens are typically low in calories and fat….and high in protein per calorie, dietary fiber, vitamin C, pro-vitamin A carotenoids, folate, manganese and vitamin K.

Studies have shown that eating leafy greens may lower your risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent, a fact that I wish that I’d known when I first got married 32 years ago.

Leafy greens have also been shown to improve your eyesight, bone health and skin elasticity while helping your blood to clot normally.

And even better, there are so many more varieties that can keep you from feeling like you are simply eating the required bowl of bagged salad every single night, night after night…

Some options that we will be taking a look at are…

  • Arugula
    Beet Greens
    Bok Choy
    Boston (Butterhead)
    Broccoli
    Cabbage
    Collard Greens
    Edible Green Leaves
    Endive
    Iceberg
    Kale
    Microgreens
    Mustard Greens
    Rapini (Broccoli Rabe)
    Romaine
    Spinach
    Swiss Chard
    Turnip Greens
    Watercress
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s Next?

As much as I hate it, and as much as my ADHD adult mind would love to wander off on yet some other tempting tangent or two, especially during this holiday season of overeating and overcooking and overbaking…

We’re still faced with the fact that my husband has just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and that we both need to start eating better.

This has actually become a top priority, if not THE top priority, in our lives right now.

And I have made planning our meals around the Raw Foods Pyramid my plan on attack.

Mainly I am doing this so that I won’t have to cook…no, wait…that’s so not true…

But it is true that the real reason I use huge recyclable cloth bags when shopping is so that I can safely cram more into each bag and, as a result, make fewer trips from my car into the house…not to save the environment.

My pursuit of a “raw foods diet” so far has involved learning to eat more unprocessed, organic, and uncooked foods….foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits, sprouted grains, and beans—none of which can have been heated above a certain temperature, usually somewhere between 104 and 118 degrees.

I have also been becoming more aware of which foods have been refined, pasteurized, homogenized, or produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.

I have been learning about the raw foods dfiet by starting at the base of the Pyramid—those low calorie, nutrient dense foods that we should probably all eat more of in the first place and slowly working my way to the higher-calorie, less nutritious foods at the top of the pyramid, those foods that we should eat very little of, if any at all.

The three bottom tiers of the Raw Foods pyramid—water, leafy greens, and fruits and vegetables—are grouped together in the one category called “Production Foods.”

Let’s take a look at what we’ve learned so far…

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

“Me Time”—The How

If you’re lucky, your weekends are designated “me time.” Those are the days you get to unwind from work and delve into hobbies, passions, or side projects that take us out of the daily grind and let us flex our interests and creativity.

But, you know, sometimes life gets in the way. You were supposed to practice with that fancy new camera lens you bought, but then a mountain of laundry beckoned. Or maybe you were going to finally start those Italian lessons, but then a friend asked if you could help them move.

There’s always going to be something that pops up during the weekends, but the trick is to make your side project time non-negotiable. Rather than giving away your hours because of guilt or necessity and then feeling bummed you had no “me time,” here are a few sure-fire ways that will make room for your hobbies on the weekends.

 

Announce It To Your Friends…If your friends (or partner) have a habit of springing plans up on you during the weekend, make a habit out of announcing that you need time for your hobby. So if they want to go to the beach or a flea market or get lunch, always respond with, “Well, I have my guitar lessons at two every Saturday,” or “maybe after my photo editing session at one.” By reinforcing that you have this weekly task that you make time for, they’ll begin to respect that time slot and not try to take it over. And even better—you’ll respect it more, too. By announcing it to others you’re making it a permanent part of your weekend, which will only make you take it more seriously.Sometimes responsibilities get in the way, and making room for personal hobbies or side-projects can get tricky. But follow some of these tips and your passions will have at least a fighting chance!

Block Out Recurring “Me Time” for the Future...Open up your planner right now, and every 1 PM on every Saturday for the next year, block off an hour with the words “me time.” That way, no matter who asks you to lunch, to volunteer, or to help you with moving, you’ll know that you’re already booked. It’ll help you manage your time, but it also establishes a routine for you and your hobby that will help you accept it as a permanent part of your life: Every Saturday at one o’clock, you do it. After a month or two, it’ll feel like a natural part of the weekend.

Do It In The Morning…If you find yourself easily bogged down by commitments or out-of-the-blue emergencies, try tackling your hobby during the mornings. While everyone is still waking up and moving slowly, you can get a jump start and sit down with your blog, your camera, or your book club selection, and tackle your me-time before noon hits. If you get it out of the way first thing in the morning, you won’t have any excuses for not doing it.

Have A “Short Version” Ready For Busy Weekends...Rather than just hitting pause on your interests when the weekend gets busy, have a “short version” ready of your hobby for when schedules get hectic. For example, if you enjoy doing yoga, swap your usual 45 minute session for a quick 15 minute one on YouTube. Or if you love to bake on the weekends, try a recipe that uses five ingredients and takes 30 minutes to bang out, rather than picking one out of the fancy French cookbook that’s meant to take half the afternoon. That way you can still enjoy your interests and tackle everything on your hectic to-do list.

Schedule It...It might sound rigid, but if you use a daily planner regularly or an app on your phone, then you probably know that if an appointment is made it’s basically set in stone. If the time is marked, you’ll show up to it. Following that logic then, if you see “yoga” or “beer brewing” on your Saturday afternoon schedule, you’ll be more likely to actually do it. Since it’s already blocked off in your calendar, you’ll have a smaller chance of giving that spot away to a brunch with friends or a quick nip to the laundromat.

Set Yourself Weekly Goals…It can be super easy to be diligent with your hobby one week, and then put it off for two more because things came up. What you need to do is find a way to make your me-time a priority. A great way to do that is to set yourself weekly goals so you have something to strive forFor example, say your hobby is writing. If you have a goal of writing one chapter per weekend (or one poem, or one pitch,) then you’ll be more likely to sit down at the computer and do it. You can make it more specific – maybe the first Sunday of the week you’ll write a chapter, and then the next weekend you’ll look up editors you want to pitch to, and the weekend after that you’ll read articles on how to properly write out a pitch. Having action steps mapped out for the month will help you motivated to continue on with your goals.

Think Of It As Play Time…Rather than making it another thing to check off your list, reframe your hobby as “play time.” See it as a break from the usual rotation of chores, errands, and obligatory hangouts, and use your hobby time almost like recess: This is the part of the weekend you’ve been waiting for. The part that puts your interests front and center, and has no other purpose than to let you enjoy something for an hour or two. If you reframe your hobby that way, then not only will you look forward to it all week, but you won’t feel guilty for indulging. It’s not time away from cleaning your house or hanging out with your partner- it’s self-care.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

No Shave November

This month is No-Shave November…

But being the wife of a Marine and having been on public transportation or in other tight spaces in too many foreign countries with armpit hair hanging to their waists if not even longer.

I say the more hair you can shave, the better off you are…

Wouldn’t everyone—male or female—feel so much better if they had well-shaven, silky-smooth skin on their legs, armpits, bikini area…

The first step in getting a perfect shave is tol find the perfect razor…

But to get the best results, you first need a quality razor….Benefits of using a quality razor, as opposed to a cheaper razor, include…

  • saving you money in the long run
  • reducing the risk of skin irritation and razor burn
  • giving you better results for your efforts
  • Factors to consider when choosing the “perfect” razor include…
  • whether or not the razor comes into contact with your skin too much,
  • if the razor creates a close enough shave
  • how much control you have over the razor so that you can avoid accidentally cutting yourself
  • if there are conditioning and smoothing strips that will moisten the area before the actual razor blades pass over the skin and help avoid any skin irritation that might result from shaving

There is much debate as to whether disposable or refillable razors are best.

  • Disposable razors…Disposable razors are a lot cheaper, but they aren’t always a good value over refillable versions.
  • Refillable razors…Even though refillable razors are typically going to be more expensive than disposable ones, they have a longer useful lifespan than disposable ones and cost less to replace. Refillable razors are also typically made with higher quality blades and handles.

Personally I have found the best razors to buy are the Gillette Swirl HydroSilk, Gillette Venus Embrace, Schick Hydro Silk Trim Style Moisturizing Razor, and Gillette Fusion ProGlide.

Electric razors, such as this Panasonic ES2207P Ladies Electric Shaver, are another option for shaving. These razors reduce the risk of getting cuts, burns, and nicks. They are especially great for women with sensitive skin.

Vegan Shaving Creams

Our goal now is to make or purchase a fragrance-free, relatively inexpensive shaving cream that goes on smooth, leaves your legs moisturized without clogging up your razor, and nourishes and prote

Most of the typical commercial brands of shaving cream almost al; contain many animal byproducts.

Fortunately there are a number of excellent shaving creams that actually do meet the needs of even the choosiest vegan.

When shopping for a vegan shaving cream, there are four key factors to consider…

1. Ingredients…Choosing natural and organic ingredients is always a good idea because these products have no harsh chemicals, pesticides, or synthetic ingredients that might be absorbed into your skin.

2. Scent...The scent that you choose is simply a matter of personal preference, but if you are going to use a scented shaving cream, you’re typically better off choosing a lighter, less noticeable fragrance…a shaving cream that contains essential oils, not whatever the heck the word “fragrance” might mean on the package.

3. Texture...If you are truly committed to doing your part to create and maintain a safer, cleaner planet, you will want to avoid typical foamy shaving creams. The chemicals, hydrocarbons, and compressed gases that are released when creating that foam have been shown to be unhealthy for our environment.

4. Volume...The amount of shaving cream that you want to purchase at one time and the size of the shaving cream containers depends on many factors—travel regulations, desire to sample a new product without having to buy a large container you are never going to use, how often you take showers and shave, how many people will be using the product, and any savings that can be enjoyed by purchasing in bulk.

A few of the vegan shaving creams available are…

  • 100% Pure Seaweed Vegan Shaving Cream
    Avalon Organics Cream Shave
    Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shaving Soap
    Kiss My Face Moisture Shave

The following recipe for homemade shaving cream would be another great option because of the health benefits of its ingredients. Ingredients such as…

Coconut Oil...Coconut oil is a great moisturizer that contains lots of anti-aging benefits and protects the skin from free radicals.

Raw Shea Butter...Raw shea butter is extremely moisturizing and provides immediate softness and smoothness. It is also a significant source of anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor promoting compounds.

Carrier Oil…There are several options available as far as the oil to use when making your shaving cream. These include…

  • Grapeseed oil is a great source of vitamin E and moisturizing fatty acids.
  • Jojoba oil is great for combatting skin scarring, fatty tissues, and facial lines.
  • Olive oil is great at preventing dry skin and contains moisturizing vitamin E.
  • Sweet almond oil is great for dark circles.

Liquid Castile Soap...Liquid castile soap is an all-natural chemical-free soap, and adding it to your shaving cream provides a bit of texture so that the shaving cream is more effective..

Essential Oils...There are also several options as to essential oils to add to your shaving cream. Popular essential oils to use include…

  • Frankincense helps improve circulation, lowers symptoms of arthritis, and helps decrease muscle aches.
  • Lavender oil is a soothing oil that restores skin complexion, slows aging with its powerful antioxidants, and improves eczema and psoriasis.
  • Peppermint oil gives a cooling sensation.
  • Tea tree oil is a good antiseptic if you should cut yourself.

Homemade Shaving Cream…makes about two cups

  1. 1C coconut oil
  2. 1C shea butter
  3. 6Tbsp oil—olive, jojoba, sweet almond, or grapeseed
  4. 6Tbsp liquid castile soap

Melt shea butter and coconut oil over the lowest heat setting on the stove. Stir occasionally until fully melted. Add oil. Stir until fully blended. Remove from heat. Transfer mixture to a medium-sized jar. Refrigerate overnight or until solid. Remove from fridge into mixing bowl. Whip using a hand mixer or stand mixer for about four minutes. Add castile soap. Whip until fully combined. Spoon shaving cream into a glass jar with a lid. Store in a cool, dry place.

Now let’s take a look at shaving subscription clubs…

Shaving subscription clubs can help you save money, save time, and get the highest quality shaving and beard grooming products on the market for one low price, delivered straight to your door every month.

These shaving subscription boxes will make you love shaving every morning, more and more every month.

From high quality shaving creams and moisturizers, to balms and skin soothers, these shaving clubs have it all.Below, you’ll discover some of the best monthly shaving boxes available…

1.Bevel Shave System

  • Cost: $29.95 a month
  • What you get: Bevel is unique in the fact that it helps people of color shave without having to worry about razor bumps and irritation. Every 3 months you’ll receive the complete Bevel Shave System delivered to your door.

2. Birchbox Men

  • Cost: $10 a month
  • What you get: With Birchbox Man, you’ll receive awesome, high-quality shaving and grooming products delivered to your door every month. Inside every Birchbox Man box, you’ll get 5 grooming product samples such as shampoo, beard oils, moisturizers, body wash, hair gel, and so much more

3. Dollar Beard Club

  • Cost: $1 plus shipping.
  • What you get: With the Dollar Beard Club, you’ll get all natural products such as oils, balm, wax, growth accelerators, and more. The way it works is that you build a kit which includes choosing an oil, an essential, a shower item, an accelerator, and a accessory. However, you can always just pick a single product and only have that in your kit. Then you’ll be sent those products every month until you cancel! This is a cool box to give as a gift.

4. Dollar Shave Club

  • Cost: $1-$9 a month
  • What you get: Probably the most popular shave club out there, Dollar Shave Club offers 3 different razors to choose from (the humble twin, the x which can also be used for women, and the executive). Then from there you can choose how often you’ll like blades to be delivered to your home

5. Gillette Shave Club

  • Cost: $16.99 – $22.45 a month
  • What you get: With the Gillette Shave Club, you’ll get your choice of razor, 4 blades, and shaving cream delivered as often as you’d like.

6. Harry’s Shave Club

  • Cost: $8 – $24 a month depending on your plan
  • What you get: Harry’s is by far the best shave club out there when in comes to quality and affordability. With Harry’s, you’ll get quality blades for half the price delivered how often you’d like. Once you finish your free trial, you have the option to get blades or blades and gels delivered based on your shaving frequency

7., Morgan;s

  • Cost: $8-$80 a month depending on what products you want included in your box.
  • What you get: When you join Morgans, you’ll get premium bathroom basics without the outrageous prices. All you have to do is choose what you’d like and they’d be delivered straight to your door monthly. Products include shampoo, conditioner, hand and body wash, moisturizer, deodorant, bar soap, shaving handle and blades, shaving cream, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. Plus all their products are vegan!

8. Wet Shave Club

  • Costs: $29.99 a month
  • What you get: Each month you’ll receive a box of awesome shaving items that will help you have the best shave possible. Plus in your first box, you’l get a free razor and shave brush!
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere…You Can Even Use Them on Your Hair

  • Hard to believe, but Halloween has already come and gone….and Thanksgiving and Christmas are just lurking around the corner. My, how this year has so quickly flown by.
    And for those of us who totally love SL, pumpkin Oreos, and anything else that has pumpkin flavoring in it, one of the most wonderful times of the year is drawing to a close as everything shifts from pumpkin to peppermint.
    But there are ways to enjoy that pumpkin vibe all year long.
    No, I’m not talking about the processed, packaged stuff that comes in a can and will probably be still sitting in your pantry this time next year, at least in time for holiday canned food drives.
    What I’m talking about is using pumpkin-scented health and beauty products and walking around smelling like you just carved, cooked, and ate The Great Pumpkin…smelling like pumpkin from head and shoulders…knees and toes.
    As far as the “beauty benefits” of pumpkins, pumpkins are packed with vitamins and minerals—such as the ones mentioned in the previous post Pumpkins…The
    Why?!
    Let’s take another look at a few of the nutrients contained in pumpkin, but this time from the view of what pumpkin can do for your skin and hair.

     

     

    Carotenoids…Carotenoids—such as alpha-carotene and beta-carotene—are the antioxidants responsible for giving pumpkins their bright orange color. Pumpkins can help reverse UV damage and improve skin texture.

     

    Minerals…Minerals—such as potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, and iron-that are found in pumpkin. Two of the important minerals as far as hair and skin are…

     

    Potassium…Potassium helps promote healthy hair and regrowth.

     

    Vitamin A…encourages hair growth

     

    Vitamin B…Pumpkin is a good source of most of the B vitamins—including niacin, riboflavin, B6 and folate. This makes pumpkin great for treating acne, improving circulation, and increasing cell turn over and renewal.

     

    Vitamin C…Vitamin C helps prevent wrinkles and skin cancer, promotes collagen production, and improves skin tone and elasticity….also strengthens hair follicles.

     

    Vitamin E…stimulates blood circulation in the scalp, which then promotes hair growth)

     

    Zinc,,,prevents and treats flaking, irritation, and itching scalp

Shampoo...Many companies have started adding pumpkin shampoo to their product lists claiming that the shampoo will help your hair grow, moisturize, and kill frizz. A few options to try that actually smell like pumpkin and might help with PSL withdrawals include…
  • Acure Organics Mega Moisture Shampoo
  • EcoLove Shampoo Orange Collection
  • Ecosevi Pumpkin Seed Shampoo
  • Good Earth Beauty Pumpkin Chai Restorative Shampoo.

 

 

 

Conditioner

As far as conditioner, one of your best options is to make your own. To make your own conditioner, combine the following ingredients…

  • 1/2C pumpkin puree
  • 1/4C yogurt
  • 2Tbsp honey
  • 1Tbsp coconut oil

A great store-bought option would be this conditioner by Sexy Hair Concepts.

 

Pumpkin Hair Serum…This hair serum helps you deal with dead ends and fly-away’ away hair.  The apricot seed oil is a lighter oil than the pumpkin oil and keeps the pumpkin oil from making your hair feel so “weighty.”

Here’s how…Combine one part pumpkin seed oil with two parts apricot seed oil. Lightly spritz water in your hair. Comb the pumpkin serum through your hair.

Pumpkin Hot Oil Treatment…Combine equal amounts of coconut oil and pumpkin puree. Heat on top of your oven over low heat. Let cool slightly. Apply to soaking wet hair, working from the ends to the roots. Wrap hair in a heot towel, Wait twenty minutes. Rinse well.

Pumpkin Oil Hair Vitamin Mist…Fill a spray bottle with two ounces of pumpkin seed oil and 1Tbsp coconut oil. Fill the bottle with distilled water. Shake before each use.

Pumpkin Puree Hair Mask…Believe it or not, the cinnamon that this hair mask contains is there not only because it makes the hair mask small awesome, cinnamon also helps with circulation and promotes better hair and scalp.

Mix together…

  • 1tsp argan oil
  • ½C pumpkin puree
    2tsp coconut or olive oil (unrefined)
    1tsp cinnamon
    1 Vitamin E capsule

Apply the concoction on your hair, making sure to cover your strands from tip to roots. Put on a shower cap to keep the goop from dripping all over while you wait. Wait at least 25 minutes before shampooing your hair. Use this mask once or twice a week to help make your hair soft, shiny and silky.

Pumpkin Seed Oil Hair Mask

1 Tbsp. pumpkin seed oil
1/2 apple puree
1 tbsp. shea butter
1 egg

Process half of the apple in your blender. Add shea butter and pumpkin seed oil. Whisk egg by itself. Stir the egg into the mixture. Apply to freshly washed hair. Leave in for twenty minutes. Rinse out.