Making Dinner Plans

More Gift Ideas—Organic Food Subscription Boxes

 

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

While we’re on the subject of healthy snacks, I thought that this would be a good time to share this list of twenty food subscription boxes again…

1.  Blue Apron

  • Who:  People who want to experiment with fun and creative recipes, avoid grocery shopping, and adventurous chefs who enjoy trying new ingredients.
  • What:  Fresh ingredients with seasonal recipes that are never repeated during the year.
  • How much: Prices start at $59.94/week (for a 2 person, 3 meals a week plan) and $69.92/week (for a 4 person, 2 meals a week plan)

2.  Batch

  • Who: People who enjoy Southern hospitality and food
  • What:  limited-edition, themed collection of handmade goods from Southern makers from Nashville, Memphis, Austin, and Charleston
  • How Much:  Batch’s holiday subscription box ships twice: February and May.Cost: Two-month subscription boxes cost $98 for standard or $198 for deluxe boxes. Their one-off, non-subscription boxes make fantastic gifts, too, and run from $39 to $119 a box.

3.  Carnivore Club

  • Who:  discerning carnivores
  • What:  Each month members receive an impressive faux-wood box filled with four to six of the very best artisanal curated cured meat,  featuring artisans from around the world. Each month’s box is themed around one producer specializing in a particular style of cured meats—such as French Charcuterie, Italian Salumi, Spanish Chorizo, South African Biltong and Artisanal Jerky.
  • How much:  Carnivore Club has a range of delivery options including monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly.Cost: $50/month.

4.  Cocoa Runners

  • Who:  Chocolate connoisseurs
  • What:   A box of four different full-size chocolate bars, made from high-quality artisanal chocolate from around the world
  • How much:  $30/month

5.  Degustabox

  • Who:  adventuresome and trendy Foodstirs
  • What:  11-15 full-size food items that are new to the market.
  • How much: Regularly $19.99, but use coupon code DEGUSTA10 to get your first box for $9.99.

6.  Farm to People

  • Who:  people who are addicts to shopping at a farmer’s market.
  • What:  three to four products for “The Casual Foodie” box, or five to eight for “The Food Critic”…small-batch, artisanal goodies made with sustainable ingredients straight from farms across America… no GMOs and nothing artificial, ever.
  • How much:  $30/month for “The Casual Foodie” or $50/month for “The Food Critic”

7.  Graze


  • Who:  people looking for healthy, properly portioned, and nutritious snacks
  • What:  subscriber’s choice of eight of the 100 available choices of snacks…
  • How much: $11.99 for 8 snacks per box

8.  HelloFresh

  • Who: people who enjoy cooking healthy home-cooked meals
  • What:  meal subscription boxes that deliver fresh, nutritious, pre-portioned ingredients—including meat, fish, produce, and grains—along with chef-inspired recipe cards
  • How much:  offers options 3, 4 or 5 meals per week for 2 or for 4 people for basically $10-11.50/per person per meal

9.  Healthy Surprise

  • Who: people on a “clean eating” or paleo diet
  • What: a selection of all natural, 100% guilt-free, gluten-free, GMO, soy, corn, wheat, and gluten-free treats
  • How much:  starts  at $50/box for 15 full size snacks.

10.  Love with Food Tasting Box

  • Who: healthy snackers who like to “give back”
  • What:  12 to 15 natural and organic gluten-free and celiac-safe snacks and sweets…no trans fats, no hydrogenated oils, no artificial flavors/colors, and no high-fructose corn syrup
  • How much:  $10/box for 8 snacks…plus for every box Love With Food sends out, two meals are donated to a food bank in America.

11.  Mantry.

  • Who: men who like trying new snacks, liquors, prepared sauces, and mixes made in America.
  • What:  Branded, lidded wooden crates containing six full-size, non-perishable, stereotypically male-marketed artisan dude-friendly food products such as snacks, liquor, prepared sauces, or flavor enhancers…each box has a particular theme…past themes have included Bacon Nation, Tailgate Tour and Bourbon BBQ.
  • How much:  Each box costs $75.

12.  Nature Box

  • Who:  snackers who want to choose exactly what snacks go in their pack
  • What: a choice of 100+ super-healthy, super-delicious snacks, from chocolate hazelnut granola to sriracha rice crackers
  • How much:  $20 for 5 full-sized snack bags

13.  Orange Glad

  • Who:  people with a taste for exotic treats
  • What:  a gourmet dessert subscription box featuring tasty delights like Russian tea cakes and chocolate almond macaroons
  • How much: $20-$22/month depending on subscription length

14.  Peach Dish

  • Who:  people whose goal is to cook dinner more often and enjoy trying new recipes
  • What:  a meal kit delivery service offering Southern-infused seasonally inspired recipes to cook at home. Each kit includes all the ingredients along with a detailed, step-by-step instruction card needed to prepare for two dinner of the eight different meals offered each week (four meat/fish and four vegetarian). PeachDish also has a separate store on its website with desserts, jams, spice blends, flavored salts, meats, cookbooks, and more.
  • How much:  Prices vary based on how many servings you order. The minimum order is $50, which is the standard box that includes two meals each for two individuals, breaking down to $12.50 per person.

15.  Plated

  • Who:  people who don’t have the time or the energy to plan what’s for dinner, go to the grocery store, and get everything you need for the week
  • What:  all of the ingredients — except for salt, pepper, olive or vegetable oil, and eggs — and step-by-step cooking instructions printed on recipe cards for your choice of seven different meat, seafood, and vegetarian dinners
  • How much:  $48/box…all of the meal kits serve two people at $12 per person. You can choose anywhere from two to seven dinners per week. You can also upgrade any dinner to a Chef’s Table dinner, which includes specialty cuts of meat and seafood, for additional $2 to $18 per person, per dinner…and add dessert to the box for $4 per person, per dessert. The most popular kit is three dinners a week for $72.

16.  Treatsie

  1. Who:  chocolate lovers and those with a sweet tooth
  2. What:  a box of up to $25 worth of delicious artisan sweets—cookies and chocolate to candies and caramel—from three different candy makers each month—indie candy labels, small batch artisanal sweets, and other under-the-radar goodness. You can also choose a subscription that only sends candy bars.
  3. How much:  $20 per month

17.  Try The World

  • Who:  world travelers with foreign tastes
  • What:  tasty treats from other countries, such as cookies from Paris and turkish delights from Turkey
  • How much:  $29-$39 per box

18.  Turntable Kitchen

  • Who. hostesses that would like to find rising artists, enjoy an original menu, get to know unique ingredients, and wow their friends with a playlist of the best new music each month.
  • What:  Pairings Box with perfectly coordinated soundtrack and menu—includes  three seasonal recipes, one or two dried ingredients, a digital mixtape, and a limited-edition vinyl record.
  • How much:  $25/month

19.  Vegan Cuts

  • Who:  vegans and other people interested in finding new gluten-free snacks
  • What:  10 or more vegan-certified snacks (from soda to kale chips
  • How much:  $20 per month

20. Vegin’ Out

  • Who:  vegetarians and vegans interested in having convenient, completely pre-made, customizable meals
  • What:  3 vegetarian vegan entrees, 4 vegetarian vegan side dishes, 1 vegetarian vegan soup, and 5 vegan cookies
  • How much: $128-$170 depending on location
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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

It’s Beginning to Look A lot Like Christmas

Hard to believe that Christmas is already here…again…

Seems like just yesterday that  we were putting the tree up and taking it down…

 

Also hard to believe that I’m turning fifty next week also…but more on that later…

 

Anyway, I recently sat down to start thinking about what to get my three daughters this year and remembered the list of  subscription boxes that I had compiled quite a while back…

So I thought that it might be a great time to look back at this list and see if things have changed since I first posted this…

 

Subscription boxes give you a chance to explore new beauty and makeup products from a number of popular and up and coming beauty and cosmetic brands without cramming your drawers and cabinets full of products that you buy at full price only to find that their claims to fame just weren’t true.

 

Non-Vegan Options

Ten possible options are listed here…I’m still trying to decide which is the best option…so if you have any advice, let me know…


1.  Allure Beauty Box

  • What it will cost you…$15 a month
  • What you will get…five or six deluxe-sized samples from major high-end brands like Benefit and Alterna and innovative newcomers all chosen by an Allure magazine editor…plus a special Allure mini-magazine
  • What others like you are saying…Review


2.  Beauty Army

  • What it will cost you…$12 per month
  • What you will get…your choice of options targeted to your own goals, such as creating a natural look or all-out glam, based on your stated profile
  • What others like you are saying…Review
  • What else you should know…if nothing strikes your fancy one month, you can go ahead and skip it, at no charge


3.  Beauty Box 5

  • What it will cost you…$12 per month or $30 per quarter or $99 per year
  • What you will get…four or five deluxe or full-size samples from a blend of under-the-radar brands such as Becca, Skyn Iceland, Supergoop…and green lines like Blum Naturals and Weleda
  • What other like you are saying…Review
  • What else you should know…samples tend to be more useful, such as  Smith’s Rosebud Salve and sunscreen wipes, instead of the trendy or ultraluxe?..also oxes are often customized for your stated skin tone, complexion issues, hair color, and beauty “personality”

 4.  BeautyFix

  • What it will cost you…$24.95 per month
  • What you will get…six or more deluxe travel-size to full-size makeup, skincare and haircare products usually valued around the $100 mark from dermatologist-approved skincare brands such as DDF, Glytone, Vichy…natural and organic choices…high-end makeup and hair care with a problem-solving slant, such as Peter Thomas Roth plumping mascara and Nick Chavez body-building clay for hair
  • What others like you are saying about it…Review
  • What else you should know… spin-off club of online giant Dermstore.com

5. Birchbox

  • What it will cost you…$10 per month
  • What you will get…four or five beauty samples, all picked to match your beauty profile, including one actually chosen by you yourself, from brands such as Dr. Jart+, Kérastase, Kiehl’s and Stila…along with one lifestyle item, such as stationery or tea
  • What others like you are saying about it…Review
  • What else you should know…referring friends and leaving feedback will both earn you purchase points good towards full-size products in the Birchbox shop…also selections are tailored to your responses to questions about hair or skin type and concerns and your stated level of makeup proficiency

6.  Boxycharm

  • What it will cost you…$21 per month
  • What you will get…over $100 worth of full-size beauty and makeup products
  • What others like you are saying about it…Review
  • What else you should know…if you are not sure how to use a product, go to YouTube for tutorials and reviews…also, subscribers get “charms” for reviewing products and referring friends that can be redeemed for more products.

7.   Glossybox

  • What it will cost you…$60 per quarter..$111 semi-annually…$210 per year
  • What you will get…five luxurious beauty products from more than 400 niche, high-end, and emerging brands…such as Oscar de la Renta, Burberry, and Fresh…personalized according to age, skin, hair type, and “overall style
  • What others like you are saying…Review

8.  Ipsy

  • What it will cost you…$10 per month
  • What you will get…”Glam Bags” containing five full-size makeup samples and beauty “tools”…ranging from high-end, mid-range, and drugstore brands, including Benefit, Josie Maran, and Urban Decay…valued at $40 or more…selected at least in part according to your fave brands and the style profile you choose
  • What others like you are saying…Review
  • What else you should know…co-founded by makeup artist and YouTube star Michelle Phan…online video tutorials to help you re-create specific looks using that month’s picks

9.  MUSTHAVE.POPSUGAR.COM

  • What it will cost you…$39.95 per month…$109.85 per quarter… $214.70 per 6 months
  • What you will get…a mix of the best of the best in fashion, beauty, home, fitness and food inspired by that specific time of year…the most recent box contained items like a fashionable scarf, coffee mug, lunch box, lip balm and more
  • What others like you are saying…Review

10.  Play by Sephora

  • What it will cost you…$10 per month
  • What you will get…five good sized skin care, makeup, and hair care samples from high-end brands and some of their own branded products
  • What others like you are saying…Review

 

 

Now for ten organic and cruelty-free subscript[ion boxes…

Organic subscription boxes can introduce women like you and me to those certified-organic skincare products that best cleanse, tone, exfoliate and moisturize our skin without using any of these noxious artificial chemicals or additives.


1.  Bare Bliss Box

  • What it will cost you…$49.99
  • What you will get…four to six samples
  • What others like you are saying…

2.  Glowing Beets

  • What it will cost you… $29.95 per month
  • What you will get…three or four deluxe-sized samples or full-size beauty products
  • What others like you are saying…Review

3.  Good Being Box

  • What it will cost you… $21 per month
  • What you will get…a mix of full and deluxe size samples customized to your profile
  • What others like you are saying…Review

4.  Honest Beauty

  • What it will cost you…$50 per month
  • What you will get…three full-size items
  • What others like you are saying…Review


5.  LaRitzy

  • What it will cost…$24.99 per month
  • What you will get…a mix of full-size and deluxe sized samples
  • What others like you are saying…Review

6.  Love Goodly

  • What it will cost you…$29.99 every other month
  • What you will get…full size “premium” products
  • What others like you are saying…Review

7.  Petit Vour

  • What it will cost you…$15 per month
  • What you will get…four samples, some of which may be full-size
  • What others like you are saying…Review

  

8.  Terra Bella Box

  • What it will cost you…$37.95 per month
  • What you will get…5-6 small-batch natural beauty items
  • What others like you are saying…


9.  Vegan Cuts Beauty Box

  • What it will cost you...$18.50 per month or $39.95 per quarter
  • What you will get…four to seven products including at least one or two full-size products
  • What others like you are saying…Review

10.  Yuzen

  • What it will cost you…$33 a quarter
  • What you will get…full-sized samples along with a non-beauty item like chocolate
  • What others like you are saying…Review

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Not Only Can You EAT Water…You Can Also DRINK Mushrooms

 

 

In the previous posts of the different types of coffee, one stood head and shoulders above the rest as far as most interesting…one that I had never even heard of—mushroom coffee.

As I said in that post, mushroom is simply regular coffee that has been infused with medicinal mushroom extract powders.

Mushroom extract powders can be created by isolating and spray-drying different types of medicinal mushrooms—such as Cordyceps, Chaga, Lion’s mane, Turkey tail, and Reishi.

Sounds extremely weird, but according to several of the reports that I read, mushroom coffee actually is prepared and tastes like regular coffee, not like mushrooms at all…with about half the caffeine found in regular coffee.

Scientific studies have shown that these medicinal mushrooms—such as chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps—are anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, gut-friendly. These mushrooms also contain more than acai, blueberries, and cacao.

Although mushrooms have been used in Oriental medicine for millenniam, mushroom coffee has been around since World War II. Coffee was scarce, and many things were used as a substitute for coffee beans, including mushrooms, out of necessity. Mushrooms were first used as an alternative to coffee in Finland.

Mushroom coffee provides the health benefits of coffee, as well as the health benefits of the mushrooms…meaning that mushroom coffee contains extra nutrients and minerals.

  1. Antioxidants…Mushroom coffee contains many antioxidants—perhaps more than green tea, black tea and herbal tea.
  2. Brain Power…Mushroom coffee contains high levels of antioxidants and other compounds that may enhance your focus and thinking capabilities.
  3. Cancer…Elements found in certain mushrooms, such as the ergosterol peroxide found in chaga mushrooms, stimulate the immune system and has the ability to stop cancer from developing.
  4. Digestive System…Mushrooms contain high levels of special polysaccharides, more specifically those called beta-glucans or homopolysaccharides, that act help boost digestive health in various ways—such as decreaseing glucose levels, cholesterol and triglycerides.
  5. Nerves…Most mushroom coffee consists of a mixture of half coffee, half mushroom extract. This means that whenever you switch to mushroom coffee, you are probably only consuming  half of the caffeine that you normally do. Drinking less caffeine will improve focus and decrease the likelihood of having nervous energy after drinking a cup.
  6. Respiratory System…Mushroom coffee enables the body to use oxygen more efficiently.
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

When Life Gives You Way Too Many Lemons

Sometimes life gives you lemons…then there are times when life gives you more lemons than you can handle.

Just like when you buy one or lemons at a time, you’ll probably end up using them before they go bad, but if you try to save money and buy the big bag of lemons, you’ll probably end up throwing out how many?!

Anyway, what should we, or can we, do when life gives us more lemons than we could possibly handle?!

Those answers will be shared later, but first I wanted to share a little bit more about the nutritional value of lemon water and tips on how to use/make/keep more lemon water on hand.

Nutritional Value

Lemon water can quench thirst better than any other drink, but lemon water also provides our bodies with plenty of vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and vital trace minerals—such as iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.

1.Vitamins…One cup of fresh lemon juice provides 187 percent of your daily recommended serving of vitamin C and 6% DV of vitamin B6.

Vitamin C...Vitamin C is important for many different reasons. These include…

  • decreasing the severity and duration of respiratory infections like the common cold
  • helping to produce collagen, which is important for smoothing out fine lines in the face and keeping your skin healthy
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing the health hazards that are a result of stress
  • reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • strengthening your immune system

2. Antioxidants…Lemon juice contains powerful antioxidants that helps protect cells from damaging free radicals….keeping your skin looking fresh, and helping slow down the aging process, and strengthening your immune system.

3. Electrolytes…Electrolytes are hydrating minerals—such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

4. Citric Acid…Lemons are loaded with citric acid. Citric acid provides many health benefits. These benefits include helping your body with digestion by interacting with various enzymes in your body and stimulating the secretion of gastric juice…and preventing kidney stones by increasing urine volume and hydrating you enough so that your body can flush out kidney stones quicker.

Finally, that same one cup of lemon juice contains…

  • 61 calories
  • 21 grams carbohydrates
  • 0.9 gram protein
  • 1 gram dietary fiber
  • 31.7 micrograms folate (8 percent DV)
  • 16% DV of copper.
  • 5% DV thiamin (5 percent DV)

Thirteen Tips on Filling Your Tumbler

  1. Add even more flavor to your lemon water by adding a few springs of mint, a teaspoon of maple syrup or raw honey, a slice of fresh ginger, a dash of cinnamon, slices of other fresh citrus fruits such as limes and oranges, cucumber slices, and so forth
  2. Always use fresh lemons, not artificial lemon from a bottle.
  3. Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning gives the body a chance to absorb these vitamins effectively and can provide a little immune boost….
  4. Drink lemon water at warm or room temp water to avoid shocking your system.
  5. Drink lemon water consistently in order to reap any health benefits.
  6. For a sore throat, gargle frequently with lemon juice, diluted half and half with pure water.
  7. For the relief of heartburn, taking a teaspoon o lemon juice in half a glass of water.
  8. Juice several lemons at one time into an ice cube tray. Freeze. Pop a few cubes in a glass of water to have fresh lemon juice at the ready anytime.
  9. Keep your breath sweeter by drinking a glass of lemon water after meals and first thing in the morning.
  10. Replace your morning coffee with a cup of hot lemon water.
  11. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into ice cube trays and freeze. Use instead of “regular” ice.
  12. Use more than just a single wedge of lemon in your mug.
  13. When buying lemons, choose lemons that are fully yellow and, if possible, organic. If the fruit is still green, it isn’t fully ripe. Avoid lemons that look dull or wrinkled or that seem excessively hard.

There are many uses for lemons around the house other than their simply lounging in sweet tea glasses with their best friend, ice…or squishing them in the juicer to make fresh lemonade…or drinking as lemon water.

So what to do with those extra lemons that are sitting there slowly rotting on your countertop?

 

Here are a few options…

1.  Air Freshener…Cut a few lemons into quarters. Put them in a pot of boiling water to release citrus-infused steam into the air.

2.  All-Purpose Cleaner…Fill a Mason jar with lemon peels and white vinegar. Shake. Put in a cool dark place for about two weeks. Drain the liquid into a spray bottle.

3.  Ant Repellant…Squirt lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance.

4.  Clogged Tub and Shower Drains...Boil a big pot of water on the stove. Pour it down the drain. Wait for the water to drain. Slowly pour 1C baking soda down the drain, using a spoon or funnel. Add 1C lemon juice. Use your tub stopper or a rag to cover the drain. Wait 30min. Uncover the drain. Pour more boiling water down the drain. Repeat until your drain is no longer clogged. Do this once a quarter to prevent those big clogs from building up again.

5.  Coffee Pot…Stir together a few tablespoons of lemon juice, a tablespoon of Kosher Salt, a few ice cubes, and a tablespoon of water in the pot..Rinse with warm water once the stains are removed.

6.  Cutting Boards…Clean after each use by scrubbing 2tsp salt onto the board with a lemon half and rinsing.

7.  Faucet Polish…Rub faucets with lemon peel. Wash, dry, and buff with microfiber cloths.

8.  Fridge…Add the juice of a lemon to a sponge. Place it in the fridge overnight.

9.  Fruit and Vegetable Spray...Mix together 2Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2Tbsp apple cider vinegar, and 1C water in a spray bottle. Spray on fruits and veggies and then rinse. This will keep apples, avocados, and other fruits and veggies their natural color and avoid browning.

10.  Garbage Disposals...Cut three or four lemons in half. Remove the pulp. Fill each empty rind with a few tablespoons of baking soda. Place the rinds in a bowl in an out-of-the way spot. Keep the lemon halves there for a few days or until you don’t notice the citrus smell anymore. Then, if you have a garbage disposal, send the rinds down it — they’ll clean and freshen your drain on the way.

11.  Laundry Detergent Booster.…..Add 1C lemon juice to the washing machine during the wash cycle.

12.  Microwave…Combine 3Tbsp lemon juice with 1 1/2C water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High for 5-10 minutes. Wipe away the softened food with a dishrag.

13.  Mosquito Repellant...Break block of 100% organic beeswax into pieces. Place in a glass bowl over a pan filled with simmering water. Melt over medium heat. Stir citronella oil into the melted wax.

14.  Pots and Pans…Rub the cut side of half a lemon all over them, inside and out. Buff with a soft cloth.

15.  Roach and Flea Repellant.…..Mop your floors with the juice and rinds of four lemons and 2 liters water.

16.  Stain Remover..First try to get as much of the dirt out as possible. Next cover the stain well with lemon juice, scrub it with some Kosher salt, and throw it in with the next load of laundry.

17.  Tarnished Silver…Dip a cloth into lemon juice. Rub the tarnish off. Rinse.

 

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Now What?!

IMG_4473-1

Okay, I have ADHD…I keep getting off track from my original plans and ideas…Happens all the time…Welcome to my world!!!

Anyway, my original plan in writing this blog was to talk about the changes that I am making in each step of my day to live a more minimalistic, simpler, and healthier lifestyle.

The first topic that I highlighted was Taking the Perfect Shower. Taking the perfect shower or bath is important because that is one of the best ways to prepare for a “good” night’s sleep, get rid of any “bad” moments of the day that you just went through, and help you from being stinky and “ugly.”

The next topic that I highlighted was Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. So many of suffer from insomnia and have bad nighttime habits—such as staying up way past midnight and midnight munching. Yet a good night’s sleep is important because…

From there I moved into the topic of the Raw Foods Diet and why it is important to stop eating processed foods and to start eating healthier in general. That is where I feel like I got sidetracked.

We all get the point. In order to improve our health and get more energy to chase a “resident four year” old, there are certain things that we must do—such as cut processed foods out of our diets and replace sugar with healthier substitutes.

But how do these facts affect our daily lives? Sometimes too much information can be overload. So instead of remaining on my textbook-like journey, I’d like to pause my “What Next” segment on the Raw Foods Diet…or at least not necessarily pause it, but to break this segment into four different “What Next” segments…

  • What’s for Breakfast?
  • What’s for Lunch?
  • What’s for Dinner?
  • I’m Still Hungry!!!

So let’s start with “What’s for Breakfast?”…

Why do we even need to eat breakfast in the first place? Won’t skipping breakfast allow me to hit the snooze button on my alarm clock enough times to get some more rest that I won’t need breakfast at all.

Wrong!

There are so, so, so many reasons that we should all be eating breakfast, but instead of dwelling on these reasons in order to avoid starting to sound too much like a textbook again, let’s look simply at what we should be eating and accept the fact that we should be eating in the first place.

So what should we be eating for breakfast?

This is the second step in my creating a Master Grocery List for my family. The first list of foods that I should keep on hand can be found on my Midnight Snacking post about what to eat before bed in order to help you sleep. 

Now let’s add to this Master Grocery List by focusing on what we should actually be eating for breakfast.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Book Review…Essential Glow

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Essential Glow: Recipes & Tips for Using Essential Oils is an all-inclusive guide to natural beauty written for people who would like to learn how to use essential oils in their daily lives to boost their beauty, home, and general wellness.

This book sparked my interest because I am just now starting to use essential oils in my home now that I have started this journey to a happier and healthier lifestyle.

The title, Essential Glow, is appropriate for the book because the book was written by the same people who host the popular Hello Glow website—the ultimate source for daily inspiration, recipes, projects, and tips for living a healthy, mindful life and learning more about natural beauty and wellness.

The author of the book is Stephanie Gerber, a Nashville-based natural living blogger, who has also written…Stephanie Gerber says that she believes that “the journey to well-being can and should be, simple and beautiful, natural and stylish.”

The book is filled with over two hundred simple recipes and tutorials for making organic skincare and haircare-products, household cleaners, and even cosmetics at home…all using essential oils…including recipes for laundry softeners, all purpose cleaners, steam tablets, masks, bath oils, and invigorating scrubs.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Acacia Honey—The What?! Why?! Which?! and How?!—July 2018 Honey of the Month

Acacia honey is one of the most popular honey varieties. It is widely considered one of the best kinds of honey in the world, provided it is authentic….and is.highly sought after around the world.

Acacia honey is made from the nectar of Robinia pseudoacacia, what we here in America know as the black locust tree, or “false” Acacia…

This tree is not only native to North America, but is also found in Europe—from Northern Italy to the Ukraine, especially in Hungary—where the tree is known as the acacia, even though the honey does not actually come from true acacias.

As far as color, acacia honey is a very pale, light golden colored—much like liquid glass. Acacia honey is often jarred with the actual honeycomb visible in the jar beause the honey does have such clarity and a pale color.

As far as taste. acacia honey is one of the lightest tasting honeys in the world, having a clean, light and mildly sweet, floral taste with delicate vanilla tones and no aftertaste..

Why?!

Adding acacia honey to your diet can provide many health benefits, including…

  1. Dealing with diabetes…Acacia honey has a very low sucrose content and a high fructose level, making it the best choice for diabetics. In addition to being a good choice for diabetics, acacia honey is known for its therapeutic qualities, including…
  2. Helping boost the health of your skin…The rich supply of minerals found in every type of honey, including iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and copper, as well as vitamin C and other antioxidants, can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, soothe inflammation, and decrease the appearance of scars, blemishes, and burns when topically applied
  3. Helping you lose weight more quickly...Honey mixed with water or milk can help satisfy your sweet tooth and make you feel full. This will possibly keep you from munching out while vegging out in front of the TV and stimulate your metabolism.
  4. Lowering your blood sugar…Although most people worry about their blood sugar being too high, acacia honey can help lower the blood sugar. Also, hypoglycemia is a dangerous condition, and eating acacia honey can deliver a concentrated burst of carbohydrates to your system that will balance your blood sugar levels
  5. Helping you deal with allergies…Acacia honey, like almost all other honeys, is great for helping you deal with allergies and other respiratory problems because of the antibacterial properties, rich nutrients, and antioxidants that it contains.
  6. Preventing chronic diseases…Acacia honey contains antioxidants that are able to seek out free radicals throughout the body and reduce the negative impacts of oxidative stress…in turn, lowering cellular mutation and reducing your risk of chronic diseases—such as cancer, arthritis and heart disease.
  7. Supporting your immune system…Acacia honey naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, a powerful antibacterial agent that can help prevent infections throughout the body and relieve strain on your immune system.

Which?!

When buying acacia honey, or any other honey, make sure that you are buying a honey that is pure, organic, authentic, raw, unprocessed, unheated and unadulterated from a responsible source with a reputation for producing “clean” honey that hasn’t been processed, heated or pasteurized in any way.

There are many processed products claiming to be acacia honey. Avoid these. After all, our goal in this “What Now?!” segment of Muffins and Magnolias blog has been to start eliminating processed foods from our diets and replace these foods with healthier alternatives.

Obviously, the best place to buy your acacia honey is directly from a beekeeper, who sources the honey directly from the beehive.

But you can also find sources of acacia honey from sites such as Organic Acacia Honey.comOlive Nation, and Savannah Bee.

How?!

Acacia honey is an excellent choice for cooking because of its mild flavor and the fact that it mixes easily in liquids and batters. Other ideas for using acacia in your kitchen include…

1. Berries…Acacia honey is a fantastic topping and the perfect complement to the natural taste of any berry—such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries…

2. Beverages…Acacia honey is a good choice for mixing with beverages—such as tea—because it sweetens your beverage, without actually changing the taste of the drink

3. Bread…Acacia honey and creamy butter makes an excellent topping for toast.

4. Cheese…Acacia honey is great when served with hard cheeses such as Grana Padano, an Italian cheese made from unpasteurised, semi-skimmed cow’s milk that has been aged for about two years.

The word “grana” means “grainy” in Italian.

This cheese is a “grana” cheese—a fragrant, dry, crumbling cheese with a firm, thick and deeply straw-coloured rind and intensely sweet flavor…very similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, but much less expensive because more areas actually produce this type of cheese. Grana Padano is also less crumbly, milder and less complex than Parmigiano Reggiano.

5. Wine…The best wines to pair with acacia honey are

  • Barolo…such as this Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2013 Nebbiolo
  • Zinfandel…such as this Rombauer California Zinfandel 2016
  • Gavi…such as this Principessa Gavia Gavin 2016

6. Yogurt…Finally, acacia honey is great paired with Greek yogurt…in recipes such as the following Kiwi Smoothie.

Getting Dressed, Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Vegan Hair and Skin Care Ideas for Using The Rest of Your Avocados

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Okay, so now we’ve covered about twenty different ways to incorporate avocados into your daily diet, the reasons why you should add avocados to your family grocery list, and the choosing and care of avocados…

But wait…that’s not all…

 

Avocados and Skin Care…Avocados are good for your skin. Avocados are rich in nutrients—such as fat-soluble vitamins monounsaturated fats, various minerals, and essential fatty acids.Avocados have been shown to improve both the health and tone of your skin, as well as  eliminate signs of premature aging. Avocados are especially great for skin that is dry, chapped or damaged.

Many cosmetic manufacturers add avocado to their products for this reason, but given the fact that the avocados that you can purchase from your local grocer or market are relatively cheap, cruelty free, and contain no added synthetic chemicals, why not use real avocados to enjoy the real benefits of using what might be nature’s best moisturizer.

 

 

Avocado Body Scrub…Avocados can be easily paired with many different ingredients to make a healthy body scrub at home. Most of the following scrub ideas can be used not only in the shower as a body scrub, but also as a scrub or mask for your face, depending on the consistency of the second ingredient.

Here are a few ideas…

Almonds….1C smooshed avocado, 1/4C ground almonds…great for dry skin

Coconut…1C smooshed avocado, 1/4C grated avocado…great for healing scars

Coffee…1C smooshed avocado, 3Tbsp coffee granules…great for getting rid of stretch mark

Honey…1/2C smooshed avocado, 1/4C honey…great for dry skin

Lime…1/2 smooshed avocado, juice of 1 lemon, 1tsp baking soda…great for getting rid of tan lines

Oats…1C smooshed avocado, 1C oats…great for acne

Salt…1/2 smooshed avocado, 4Tbsp rock salt….great for exfoliating

Sugar...1C smooshed avocado, 4tsp sugar, 1tsp olive oil…great for acne

Yogurt…1C smooshed avocado, 1C plain Greek yogurt, 1Tbsp salt…great for moisturizing

 

 

Avocados and Hair…Avocados are also great for nourishing dry and damaged hair. The following avocado hair mask include smoothing and moisturizing your locks without weighing down fine hair, adding shine, and restoring natural luster to your hair.

Avocado Hair Mask…1/2 smooshed avocado, 1 egg, 2 drops peppermint essential oil, 2Tbsp olive oil

 

Getting Healthy

Avocados—The Even More “How”

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GuacamoleGuacamole, that traditional Mexican and Central American dip that we are all so familiar with, and that I could eat by the gallons, is another way to incorporate avocado in your diet. Here’s a great recipe to try…Vegetarian Guacamole Recipe by Jamie Oliver

 

Meals…For my non-vegan readers, avocados can be great meal starters. Fill avocado with tuna, shrimp, or chicken. Add avocado slices to hamburgers, tortas, hot dogs, and carne asada. Combine avocado with eggs to make scrambled eggs, tortillas, or omelettes.

These Vegan Enchiladas with Cilantro Avocado Cream Sauce from Oh She Glows have just been added to this week’s menu plan. In addition to serving the sauce over the enchiladas, you can also serve sauces such as this with chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs.

Pasta with Avocado SauceCook 18oz pasta according to directions. Blend together 1 garlic clove, 1/4C minced basil leaves, 1Tbsp lemon juice, 1Tbsp olive oil, dash pepper, dash lemon zest, 1 ripe avocado, 1Tbsp water, dash salt. Drain pasta. Serve sauce over pasta.

 

 

Salad…Avocados are best eaten along with other fruits and vegetables because avocados enhance the nutrients that are present in whatever fruits and vegetables you serve them with—at least tripling how well your body absorbs carotenoid, an antioxidant which helps protect the body against free radical damage.

Avocado Salad Recipe…Mix chopped onion, tomato, lettuce, avocado, and any other vegetables or meat you desire or that you have on hand. Add salt, pepper, lime juice, and drizzle olive oil over the salad. You may add

 

Salsa…Toss together 3 diced tomatoes, 2 diced avocados, 1 diced red bell pepper, ½ dicerd red onion, 1½C corn, 1 small can sliced black olives, 3 minced cloves garlic, ¼ of a finely diced jalapeno pepper, ¼C chopped cilantro or parsley, juice of one lemon, 1Tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper. Refrigerate. Serve with whole grain or bean chips, tacos, burritos, or fresh veggies.

 

Sandwiches/Toast/Wraps…Avocado is a great vegetarian substitute for meat in sandwiches, as well as a better for mayonnaise in any sandwiches.

Avocado “Grilled Cheese” Sandwich…One great sandwich to try would be the following recipe for a vegan grilled “cheese” sandwich…

Lightly toast 2 slices of vegan whole wheat bread. Prepare the sandwich with 2Tbsp vegan mayo, 1/2 of a ripe avocado, 6 very thin slices of green bell pepper, 6 very thin slices of red onion, and 2tsp extra virgin olive oil. Brush sandwich with olive oil. Grill as you would a regular grilled cheese sandwich.

 

Smoothies...Avocado smoothies are a great breakfast treat or post-workout snack.great breakfast treat or post-workout snack. For the simplest avocado smoothie, blend together 1 whole avocado, 1C milk, 1C ice, 1⁄2tsp vanilla, and 2Tbsp sugar….using any milk or sugar substitutes that you choose (more on this later)

 

Soup…Any easy way to incorporate avocado into any other soup would be to use it as a garnish. This will add both flavor and health benefits.

Another option would be to try an avocado soup…such as this hot soup from Healing Tomato, or this cold soup from All Recipes.

 

Sushi…Avocado are akey ingredient in California rolls and other makizushi (“maki”, or rolled sushi). I’ve only tried making sushi once, but I’m seriously thinking about getting my sushi mats back out and trying this recipe from Plant Based U.

So with all these recipes on hand and both my interest and taste buds awakened, I have now added avocados to our family’s permanent grocery list. Not only will these avocado recipes make a filling addition to our future meals and snacks, they will also provide ourfamily with nutritious heart-healthy fats, fiber, folate, vitamin A, potassium and more.

*****

 

Getting Healthy

Why Next?!…Raw Foods Diet

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So why am I willing to set our Southern style of eating on hold for a while and pursue this raw foods thing in the first place? Wouldn’t anybody in their right mind be content to eat fried bacon, fried eggs, and gravy every single morning from now to eternity?

Actually, yes, I am “in my right mind”…I guess, or at least hope…but my husband was recently diagnosed as having diabetes…and we have got to eat healthier than before…than the way we were brought up…now that we have crossed that bridge that most Southern men find themselves crossing at some point in their lives…after years of eating like a true Southerner…

 

And the “Raw Foods” diet seems like a good place to start eating healthier…

In fact, there are many reasons to consider eating a Raw Foods diet, such as…

 

1. Chronic Disease/Conditions…A raw foods diet can help reduce your risk of getting certain chronic diseases and conditions—including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, gallstones or gallbladder disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

2. Digestion...Cooked foods are usually harder to digest than raw foods, and can be less “frustrating” to your stomach and digestive tract…(more on this later).

3. Energy Level.…Eating a diet like this can increase your\ energy levels, and being a fifty year old chasing a “resident four year old” 24/7, Lord knows that I personally need that.

4.  Longevity...Increasing your intake of raw fruits and vegetables could lead to a longer life

5.  Osteoporosis...Raw foods have been proven to be great for preventing and treating osteoporosis, joint pain, muscle aches and pains, and headaches.

6.  Weight...Eating fewer processed foods and consuming fewer sugary drinks is always a good idea and can result in losing weight without supposedly even trying. Raw foods contain plenty of fiber, and fiber helps curb cravings and keeps you feeling full longer so that you end up eating less overall

 

 

 

Nutritional Value...Switching to a diet that focuses less on “lower quality foods”—such as dairy, tofu, eggs, fish, and meat…and focuses more on “higher quality foods” such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds…has important nutritional benefits. Eating this way, instead of settling for the typical American diet,  will mean that you will be getting less sodium, added sugars, fats, carbohydrates, processed and pasteurized foods, preservatives, and unhealthy chemical additives…while at the same time getting more antioxidants, magnesium, minerals, vitamins, natural enzymes, phytochemicals, fiber, and other nutrients that most Americans are deficient in.

 

And perhaps best of all…A “raw foods” might even make us smarter and able to remember stuff. Studies have shown that chewing stimulates those parts of the brain responsible for learning and memory,  puts you in a better mood, and improves both your alertness, as well as both your short-term and long-term attention spans….and chewing raw foods simply takes more effort than chewing cooked foods.