Lo’s Beauty Post: Coconut Oil – Eat it or moisturize with it?

Pure, unrefined 100% organic extra virgin Coconut oil

Hello Sweet Friends,

Wasn’t sure whether to make this a beauty post or a food post because quite frankly in our house, we eat Coconut Oil AND we use it to moisturize our face and booty.  The only cardinal rule is one tub STAYS in the kitchen and the other tub STAYS in the bathroom and too bad if we run out of one… you cannot under any circumstance “borrow” from the other tub!!!!!

You have probably read all about how good coconut oil is for you but in case you haven’t I have posted some links below for you to check out.

How we use it in the kitchen …

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Lil’s Swap This for That…Series—Swap #2 Pop Tarts!!

Welcome Little Ladies,

Today’s Swap this for that is KPT and NPTP. My family used to buy the KPT brand, until we found out how much High Fructose Corn Syrup was in it!  Me and JD were very upset and we were determined to find a new brand of pop tarts. Soon enough NPTP came and found us!  We started to compare the two:

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Swap This for That … Series — Swap #1 Peanut Butter

Hello Sweet (enough, that you don’t need extra sugar) Friends,

This is the first in a series by Lo and Lil called Swap This for That.

In this series of post, I will help you look into ways to swap out some old favorite foods for healthier options.

Thanks to Lil’s Nonna (Italian for grandmother), she introduced Lil to a new sandwich option a few years ago and Lil came home raving about Nutella and asking me to buy it for her.  Lil has always been a picky eater so I was willing to oblige her with a new food choice in the hopes of expanding her food horizons.  Once I got to the store and “turned the box” or in this case the jar, I realized that just 2 tablespoons of Nutella had over 20 grams of sugar.  I was shocked while reading the label and upset with Nonna for giving Lil a new favorite food that had so much sugar! 😡 Continue reading

How do I get a meal on the table every night?

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Salads for the week

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Hello Sweet Friends,

How do I get a meal on the table every night… Well let me tell you “it ain’t easy.”

I will not kid you …every night is NOT a fresh home-cooked 3 course dinner.  We have lots of evening activities. The kids current sport, basketball, brings lots of practices and games.  There are piano lessons for Lil and lots of school homework and projects to do just like you and your family.

To make sure that my husband and I get a healthy dinner on the table every night, it is “B-I-G” salads (Seinfeld reference here) and lots of hearty soups or chili dishes.  I usually grocery shop on Friday or Monday and then Monday is always my salad making days.  I make enough so that hubby and I have enough for the weekday nights (Lil will also eat just baby spinach, cheese and olives, yeah.)  I use a lot of the cleaned spinach and cut and wash hearty romaine lettuce to which I add red onion, cucumbers, red peppers, olives, tomatoes and chickpeas and then right before we eat our salad each night we add pepitas and pistachio nuts and Newman’s Own Light dressing.

This in itself is sometimes enough of a meal for me depending on when and what I had for lunch.  I will usually make a good hearty soup and a chili for the week.  Yes I know salad and soup/chili every night??!!  Tell me your chicken and broccoli doesn’t get boring too.  Most of the time for us, it is just about making sure we get our bellies full of healthy nutrients and the weekends can be for fancier (calorie rich) meals whether made at home or dining out.

Why a salad?  Look at all the great benefits — Power nutrients in all of these food groups

  • Spinach & Romaine – Leafy greens, more so than other vegetables, play a significant role in decreasing our risk of diabetes, possibly because of their fiber and magnesium, which helps thyroid hormone secretions, metabolism and overall nerve and muscle function.  The best way to get your Vitamin C is through natural sources such as romaine lettuce and turnip greens.

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Joan Lunden: 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed with breast cancer

Joan Lunden: 10 things I wish I knew before I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Joan was interviewed by The Today Show.

Please read very closely her #4 and #5 things she wished she had known before …

4. Diet plays such a huge role in preventing and fighting cancer

Many things that we eat and drink are causing us to get cancer. All the garbage food that I ate along with every other American — processed, refined foods — I now look at it with eyes wide open. I see now how I unwittingly contributed to my own breast cancer.

Since my diagnosis, I have switched over to eating nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods that don’t cause any inflammation in my body. My nutritionist put me on a no-wheat, no-dairy, no-sugar eating regimen. I thought: What’s left when you take those away? But actually, there’s a lot left.

I eat lots of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower. I also look for dark purple fruits and vegetables, like red cabbage, eggplant, beets, blueberries and blackberries. 

When I was given an eating regimen that I was told could save my life, it became an empowering, life- saving eating program, not a diet of deprivation.

5. It’s important to become a voracious label reader

Sugar is added to almost everything that we buy and eat, and it’s like the best fertilizer ever for cancer cells. I stood in the aisle at Whole Foods one time and looked at 20 jars of spaghetti sauce and only two of them did not contain sugar. Start reading labels: I always considered myself a label reader, but I wasn’t. But boy, I am now.

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She puts it best when she says sugar is like the best fertilizer for cancer cells.  Did you know that everyone has cancer cells in their body but not everyone will develop cancer?  Sugar fuels cancer cells and conversely clean, whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes fuel what I like to call our “soldier” cells.  They are the good cells fighting against cancer cells and fighting for a healthy body and mind.

Read Joan’s entire list at The Today’s Shows Health page:

http://www.today.com/health/joan-lunden-10-things-i-wish-i-knew-i-was-2D80183718

#pinkpower

Farro: Our new favorite grain/pasta with unlimited uses

Update: Found this Simple Origins brand of Organic Farro at Heinens today (10/28/13) on sale for $3.99.  You may want to try this one at a much lower price.

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I had heard about farro and saw it in the grocery store but I didn’t know what to do with it.  Like you… I don’t want to waste the money buying something in the grocery store to let it sit on my pantry shelf.  Last Easter when I was preparing my Easter menu, I came across a risotto recipe that suggested substituting farro for the arborio rice, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make our butter laden risotto dish just a little healthier.

Farro is a wheat grain so is not for the gluten free group but it has become a staple for us in our weekly menus.  It is a whole grain and provides a healthy boost of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Grains are also rich in carbohydrates—the body’s main fuel supply—so we need a fair amount daily (despite what low-carb/no-carb gurus say).  Plus, for those making sure to get their protein (you know who you are, HS), farro offers 7 grams of protein in 1/4 cup dry.

It is as easy to make as rice and you can just use the 2:1 ratio of grain/water just like you would to make rice.  I use my Breville steamer to make my farro, just lIke I use it to make brown rice, quinoa, and steam my veggies.  It is just so easy to use a steamer and then you don’t have to stand over the stove and watch it.  I prepare my farro early in the week and then it can be used in so many different ways during the week.

This is farro that I steamed with a 2:1 grain/water ratio

This is farro that I steamed with a 2:1 grain/water ratio

I call this a “grain/pasta” because I would like you to use this just like you would use a rice or a pasta.  You can throw it in a cold salad or just eat it as a side dish.

“Lil” loves her regular white pasta but now would just rather eat of big bowl of steamed farro with some butter and maybe some parmesean cheese on it.  It has a somewhat nutty flavor and it remains very “al dente” which in Italian means “to the tooth.”  To me, it just means you have a very hearty dish to eat and it is very tasty.  You can add more flavor to the dish by adding veggies, replacing the water with chicken or vegetable broth while cooking or using it in a soup or risotto.  Also, if you prefer it a little softer, you can a)  let it soak in water for an hour or so before you cook it or b) add another 1/2 or 1 cup of water to your ratio.

If you need some inspiration for a dish you could try this recipe from a Blog I follow, Healthy Girls Kitchen.  She is Cleveland Based too and has a great website/blog.  You should follow her too!   http://www.healthygirlskitchen.com/2012/05/addictively-good-farro-tabbouleh.html

This is the kind I have been buying

This is the Farro I buy and love!  Well I actually buy the pearled version but whatever you find will be fine.  We will talk about pearled vs semi pearled grains in another post.  Just try out this new healthy carb for you and your family.

Thanks for reading, following and please leave me a comment below!  I would love to hear if you plan to try Farro this week 🙂

Happy, Healthy Eating!

Lo

How to choose and store avocados and my favorite way to eat them

Soooo… you see those different hues of green avocados at the grocery store and I know you have eaten guacamole at some point in your life but how do you buy them for your homemade guac or to use in your everyday meals…?

I have finally establish a system for having my avocados ready for me when I am ready to use them.  I buy enough for my family for the week (for us that is usually 4-5/wk) and every week I buy the really hard, light green avocados.

Now I buy organic but this is always up to your preference and budget.  They do have a thick outer covering which you do not eat so this is one of those times that organic is not absolutely necessary but please do compare the price of the non-organic vs organic avocados sometimes they ARE THE SAME PRICE!  Crazy! I know… but we can’t always assume that the organic is more costly.

Ok back to selection process … the lighter green ones are the least ripe and I buy these because I leave them on the counter in a basket until they start to ripen.  You can see them getting darker in color and when you press they give way to light pressure (if you wait too long and you end up putting your finger right through it because it is really ripe, then cut it open and enjoy right away).  Once they are at that perfect state, put them in the refrigerator and they will slow down their ripen process until you can enjoy them.

So if you are buying them for the 1st time, buy 2 really ripe ones to enjoy right away and 2 for the counter and then the next grocery trip you can buy all hard non-ripe and start your own rotation process.  (BTW, I do this with bananas too so they are always ready and never too green.  Yuck, I don’t like the really green bananas).

Ok now when you are ready to use your perfect avocado, just use a knife to cut all the way along the skin deep enough until you hit the seed and then twist in 2 different directions to open up.  If you are going to use the entire avocado, discard the seed, but if not, leave it in there to help keep the rest of the avocado from turning brown while you are storing.

I like to use a spoon to scoop out the avocado and then slice it or mash it depending on our you are using.  My daughter, Lil, loves me to mash it up, add a little salt and she will eat it right out of the bowl with some baked corn chips.  I wish I could say she eats it with veggies but that is another story!

I like to use avocado as a spread to replace anywhere you would use mayo.  You can use it as a sandwich spread, cut up and add to your salad, obviously you can top your tacos, top your chili’s or soups!  I just love avocado so I can’t think of anyway not to use it.

If you need some recipes or inspiration check out: http://www.californiaavocado.com/mediterranean-diet-recipes/

Enjoy!!

Lo

Check out this link for a video of cutting an avocado: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QwuG2v-WxI

OHHHH – I almost forgot – store it in the refrigerator and put plastic wrap pressed against any unused portion of your avocado and/or put a little lime juice over it to keep it from turning brown.  YUCK 🙂