Do You Need to Get Dinner on the Table Fast?

Timely Tips to Speed Up Meal Prep!

It seems like more people are eating out rather than cooking at home. Sure, it’s tasty, you can choose from a variety of food, and you can leave the dirty dishes to the restaurant staff. One drawback of eating out is that the portions are so big, and it’s tempting to eat the whole thing in one sitting. Don’t forget the extra sugar and salt that is used in preparing your favorite dishes.

Eating at home lets you keep an eye on portion size, and cook with healthier ingredients.  I have some tips that will help you cut down meal prep time so you can continue to eat healthy foods but not spend hours in the kitchen.

Prep Vegetables Ahead

This is where your food processor can be your best friend. Use different cup sizes as needed. Chop vegetables for salads, soups, or sauces. There is a small one cup size that is perfect for quick jobs such as chopped nuts or yogurt topping.

Pre-Cook Beans and Rice

When your family is starving and you’re trying to get dinner on the table, there’s not going to be enough time to cook a pot of beans, or rice. Get ahead of the game by pre-cooking and then putting exact portion sizes in Ziploc bags and storing in the freezer. When you’re ready to use, thaw and add to your favorite dishes.

Hard-Boil- Eggs

I love hard-boiled eggs, and there are so many things you can do with them. My favorite is to just peel, add a little pepper, and I have a good protein breakfast. Boiling ahead of time and cooling in the refrigerator saves time when you want to add eggs to your chicken, tuna, or egg salad. For that weekend picnic, deviled eggs are always a favorite. Eggs can be stored up to one week.

Create Different Dishes from Same Ingredients

This is where you can let your creative streak go crazy. If you had a bowl of beans for lunch, roll into burritos for dinner. Thaw sauce for spaghetti and all you’ll have to do is simmer, boil the noodles, put out some delicious garlic bread and you’re ready to eat.

Do you like Asian food?  Instead of ordering takeout, try this delicious Chicken Fried Rice. This is a good way to use up that frozen rice, and the chicken adds extra protein. If you like a spicy kick to your rice, this Mexican Rice Casserole may become a new family favorite.

 

 

 

Finding Your Passion

Discovering a Whole New You!

I was thinking this morning about my own employment history, and I performed a variety of jobs. Most were in the clerical field as a receptionist or typist, and it was a way to keep a roof over my head and the bill collectors off my back. Most of the jobs were not that enjoyable with the exceptions of working at a mortuary and a temp job where I tied ribbons on candied apples. We dressed in Wizard of Oz costumes, carried a small dog dressed like Toto, and went from office to office passing out these Halloween treats.

I was just grateful to have a job, but now people are thinking more outside the box, and want to work at something they are passionate about.  Here are four benefits of finding your passion:

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

You probably have a set routine every day, but now you’ll need to be open to new opportunities and possibilities that may send you in a different direction. This is a deal-breaker for some people who decide it’s easier to stay where they are instead of trying something that may not work.

Improved Mental Health

Nothing saps your energy quicker than working a soul-sucking job in which you feel trapped. However, the excitement of finding that special passion can make you feel more energetic.  You may have to continue working at your job for a while, but now you may have new opportunities on the horizon.

Learning More About Yourself

As a life coach, I am continually amazed that so many clients don’t know what they want out of life. There are many helpful tools out there such as passion quizzes, aptitude tests, and making a list of your strong interests to see what motivates you.

Meeting Others on the Same Journey

As I have pursued my passion of writing, I have connected with others who are on the same journey. There are some people who have always known what they are passionate about, but the majority are just like you and me. It takes a voyage of self-discovery which may include prayer, a willingness to experiment, and some good old-fashioned patience.

The journey to finding your passion may be a long one and you may feel like it is never going to happen, but don’t give up. What is waiting for you on the other side will be well worth it.

Four Tips to Prepare and Store Fruits and Veggies

You Never Know Where Germs are Lurking!

 

Yes, there are some negative things about menopause. Weight gain, hot flashes, hair loss, and itchy skin are certainly not on the list of your favorite things. However, menopause can also be a wake-up call about paying more attention to your eating habits.

Eating fresh vegetables and fruits not only helps you keep the pounds off, it also keeps your body in tip-top shape. There are some things to remember when you prepare and store fresh produce. Here are four tips to get the most out of your fresh fruits and veggies.

Beware of Pesticides and Bacteria

It doesn’t matter if you bought fresh produce at the farmer’s market, an organic grower, or at the grocery store, there is always the threat of pesticides and or herbicides on the outside skin.

However, bacteria is a bigger problem. Before produce ever hits the shelf, it is handled by the packers, delivery person, and store personnel. Don’t forget about the kids that like to run around and touch things as you’re shopping or the person with a cold who doesn’t cover their mouth.

How to Wash

Contrary to popular belief, washing your fresh produce doesn’t take much time. You don’t need soap or detergents. Just a quick rinse with cool running water is all you need. To keep bacteria from growing, dry with paper towels or a clean cloth.

Don’t Wash Until Ready to Use

I know Rachael Ray from the Food Network is constantly nagging you to wash all your fresh produce when you get home, but if you wash them too soon, any moisture that is left after drying, can cause more bacteria to grow, and may spoil before you can use them up.

How to Keep Fresh

There are some fruits that are ripe and can be kept at room temperature. Take off the original packing and let the fruits set on the counter. Items such as apricots and avocados should be stored in a paper bag on the countertop and this will help them ripen faster. Bananas can sit on the countertop for five days, or stored in the freezer to use in baked goods.

Red and green cabbage, which are so good in coleslaw, can be kept in the refrigerator for two weeks. Broccoli and cauliflower can be stored for a week, which gives you plenty of time to whip up a vegetable dish or casserole. Refer to this handy reference guide for more tips.

 

Arthritis-Friendly Foods For Your Next Cook-Out

Yummy Recipes That Can Help Fight Pain!

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I feel like I could write a book on the pain of arthritis. I have it in my fingers, hands, neck, back, and feet. It really puts a damper on leading an active life and it’s tempting to just sit in a chair and watch the world from the sidelines. The foods you eat also have a big impact on whether your joints are feeling good or driving you crazy with pain.

What could be more delicious than cooking-out now that it’s warmer? Brats, chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs sizzling on the grill make your mouth water. Of course the side dishes of chips or potato salad, and a tasty dessert like cookies, brownies, or cake just send the whole experience over the top.

Unfortunately, it may also send your joint pain through the roof, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still  enjoy cooking-out. Here are four healthy options for a tasty cook-out:

Main Dishes

Sprinkle lemon and your favorite herbs on salmon. It’s not only delicious but you also get a good dose of Omega-3 and Vitamin D which promotes joint health and controls inflammation.

If you like a little spice, try these Caribbean Chicken and Pineapple Kabobs.

Condiments

I have to admit when I eat hamburgers or hot dogs, ketchup is a must and I often go overboard with it. A tasty substitution for ketchup is salsa or pico de gallo. Buy mild salsa if you have problems with spicy foods.

Kick mayo to the curb and try a tasty spread with olive oil, basil, and sundried tomatoes.

Side Dishes

I am not a big vegetable eater but I enjoy threading different vegetables on skewers and grilling them.  You can use zucchini or summer squash, peppers, onions, or whatever vegetables are your favorites.

I like Three-Bean-Salad, which is rich in potassium and fiber. You can combine fresh and frozen beans, and to make it even more delicious, put in some homemade green beans.

Desserts

What is any meal without dessert? Well, at least that is how my thought process works. Grilling fruit such as peaches, pineapple, or plums is a delicious way to up the nutrition and still satisfy that sweet urge. If you want to put it over the top, serve with frozen yogurt.

Grill fruit at a high temperature and only on one side for best results.

Frozen banana bites dipped in chocolate help you cool down after standing over a hot grill. Use dark chocolate which has many beneficial flavonoids that help fight against cell damage. It only takes about an hour in the freezer, and then it’s time to chow down.

 

4 Tips to Help You Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Watch Your Confidence Soar!

 

When I was in college, each member of my class was required give a speech. Luckily for me, or at least I thought it was lucky at the time, the instructor gave us this information on the first day. I was so freaked out, I went to the school office, and dropped the class.

I didn’t want to take the chance of choking up, stumbling over my words, or someone laughing at my discomfort. Now, I look back and think it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if any of these things had happened, and I probably would have learned a thing or two.

It’s different for each person, but stepping out of our comfort zone is not easy. Here are four benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone:

It Gets Easier

The next time something unexpected comes up, you’ll remember you got through that tough situation before and you can do it again.

Make You More Productive

If you’ve gotten comfortable with your routine at work, it’s tempting to just do the absolute minimum to get by, and act like you’re too busy to learn something new.  When there is a sense of urgency to meet deadlines, you shift into high gear, and may find new ways to streamline the process.

Trust Your Judgment

When problems come up, it’s tempting to weigh all the options over and over again. Sometimes a snap decision needs to be made just to get the process in motion. You may have to make corrections along the way, but that’s also a good learning experience.

It Might Be Fun

Drive a new route to work, change your hairstyle, visit a new church, or run through the lawn sprinkler. If things don’t work out, so what?  Change things up again.

 

5 Off-Beat Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

It Even Takes Care of Your Pet!

 

 

You’ve probably heard that taking apple cider vinegar every day may help you lose weight and have more energy.  When purchasing apple cider vinegar, always buy with the “mother” intact, so you’ll get all the beneficial compounds including probiotics.

Here are five offbeat uses for apple cider vinegar.

Shiny Hair

If you’re like me, you probably spend way too much for hair conditioner. To save money and have shinier hair, mix one cup of water with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Apply three times a week after you shampoo.

Whiter Teeth

I was at the dentist’s office not too long ago, and it seemed like it was taking the dental assistant forever to clean my teeth. She was trying to get the stains off my front teeth and after 20 minutes of intense scrubbing, she was finally finished.

An easier method is to dip your finger into apple cider vinegar, and rub it on your teeth for one minute. The pH in apple cider vinegar removes stains, which can make your teeth naturally whiter.

Natural Household Cleaner

It’s healthier to use an all-natural housecleaner when you’re cleaning windows, and wiping down counters. Buy a spray bottle from your hardware or grocery store, and fill it with half water and half apple cider vinegar.

Body Odor

When you’re exercising and your armpits are sweaty, it provides a perfect breeding ground for bad bacteria, which is a major cause of body odor. Apple cider vinegar acts as a natural deodorant. Dab some apple cider vinegar on your fingers and apply to the armpit.

Pet Fleas

You hate to see your dog constantly scratching and a bath with a 50/50 solution of water and apple cider vinegar can help get rid of those annoying fleas. I have had a lot of dogs in my life, and not one of them enjoyed a flea bath. It was all I could do to hold them down, and then they would shake off the water, and the bathroom looked like a war zone.

What dog doesn’t like to go for a walk? It’s good exercise for both of you, and if you take your dog for a long walk and tire him out, he may want to flop into the tub and will not be so cranky about taking a flea bath.

Bring treats into the bathroom and feed them to your pet while he is in the tub. He will start associating bath time with treats.

 

 

When Life Hands You Lemons

Pick Yourself Up and Keep Moving Forward!

I blogged a few days ago about how everything seemed to be going wrong at once. We got the car fixed, the heat pump is in the process of being fixed, Mark is feeling better, and so I thought ok this was a financial strain, but we got through it and it’s time to move on with life.

Then, this week we had a massive storm and the fence blew down. It’s always something, and no one is immune from problems. The only thing you can change is your attitude.

Here are five tips to follow when life hands you lemons:

Accept Change

It may often seem like you are dealing with more than your share of problems, but if you can accept the fact that things in life never stay the same, it will be easier to find solutions when problems arise.

Keep a Positive Attitude

I will be the first to admit this is not always easy, but not all unexpected problems are negative. For example, if you lose your job it may seem like the end of the world, but often it can lead to better opportunities that you might not have been able to take advantage of before.

Have An Alternate Plan

It can be so exciting to put those life-changing plans in motion. Perhaps it’s looking for a new job, a new house, or you’ve decided to go back to school and train for a different career.

Unfortunately, things don’t always work out when we want them to, so it’s always good to have an alternate plan, so you don’t get depressed and not know what to do next.

Practice Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

There’s no better way to get used to change than getting out of your comfort zone. Introduce small changes in your life. Take a different route to work, invite a new friend out to lunch, or order Chinese and eat the whole meal with chopsticks.

Stress Doesn’t Solve Your Problems

Stressing out is not going to solve your problems, and you’ll just feel more flustered and confused. Put your thinking cap on and decide where you’re going to go from here. Decide what you can fix or improve. In some cases, you might have to make the best of your situation until you can put your plans into motion.

 

 

 

 

I Screwed Up My Diet Again

4 Ways I'm Taking Back Control

 

Well I screwed up my diet again.  Too many trips to the buffet, fried chicken, ice cream, and cookies from the Farmer’s Market that are so good they’ll knock your socks off.

So I was getting dressed for church in my one good pair of black pants and I couldn’t even button them around my expanding waistline. What was I going to do? I thought about going into hiding and changing my name so people wouldn’t know it was me, or wearing them unbuttoned with a long slimming top.

I’m not making excuses, even though I would like to, but every other pair of pants that I owned in the same size still fit. I might have drawn the pants up in a hot dryer and maybe that is why they were tight.

So I did a little research to see if I was the only one on the planet that was overeating, and it turns out I have a lot of company. That made me feel better, and now I am on the diet straight and narrow again.

Here are four ways to get back on track after you screw up your diet:

Banish All or Nothing Thinking

Too often when you fall off the diet wagon, there is a tendency to throw in the towel on your diet. Since you ate the fried chicken with all the trimmings, you might as well have a big piece of chocolate cake to top it off. If you feel like you have to give in to your favorite food, sit down and enjoy it, and then get back on track with something healthy like a fruit salad or Greek Yogurt.

Don’t Think of It As Cheating

When you hear the word “cheating,” more often than not something delicious with a lot of calories comes to mind. Give yourself permission to eat some of your favorite foods, and work them into your daily calorie count.

Remember How Good Your Body Feels

It’s important to remember why you’re eating a healthy diet. Sure, it’s fun to give in and eat high-calorie foods, but you often end up with indigestion and a bloated stomach. You’ll be happy to return to healthy foods that are good for your body, make you feel energetic, and help you maintain a normal weight.

Get Some Exercise

Yes, you ingested way too many calories, but there is nothing you can do about that now. If you have a gym membership, lift some weights, ride a stationary bike, or take a fitness class. Schedule an appointment with a personal trainer, who can help you set up some fitness goals to work towards.

Gym memberships can cost an arm and a leg, so if you’re budget-challenged, take a walk, go for a run, hit the trampoline with the kids, or put on some music and perfect your dance moves.

 

 

 

 

No Time to Exercise?

You Can Even Do This Workout on Vacation!

It’s not always easy to make time to exercise. You’re too tired, you need to pick up the kids, make dinner, and finish any leftover housework that didn’t get done. Working out at the gym means you have to put your workout clothes on, fight rush hour traffic, and you may have to wait for someone to finish their workout routine before you can get started.

This is where resistance bands can be a real life saver. Resistance bands are made of strong, thin rubber and some have handles at each end to grab onto. Instead of having to sweat it out at the gym, resistance bands can be used at home, so you can fit in your workout at your convenience.

Here are five benefits of using resistance bands:

More Economical

Have you priced a gym membership lately?  It can eat up a good portion of your paycheck. You can purchase resistance bands at your local sporting goods store for under $10.00. There is usually the option to buy the bands in a set, which usually includes a DVD you can exercise with.

Different Levels of Resistance

Resistance bands are color coded and there are four levels of resistance. If you’re just starting out you may want to start with the lowest resistance band and once you start making progress, you can up the intensity.

Can Be Used for a Solo Workout

If you’re running or walking, it’s often more fun to do it with a buddy, but you can do a solo workout with resistance bands at home or on vacation. Take advantage of nice weather and exercise in the fresh air.

Can Work the Whole Body

I remember when I went to the gym, I used one machine to exercise my legs, and worked with weights to build up my arm muscles. It’s a lot easier to use your resistance bands to work the entire body at once. The best part is that you’ll also reach your fitness goals a lot quicker.

Shake Up Your Routine

You may have a favorite exercise such as biking, walking, or running, that is keeping you in shape, but over time, the body gets used to a routine and you may find yourself making minimal progress. Use your resistance bands in combination with your favorite exercise, or just do the resistance bands every other day.