Sugar. Probably one of nature’s most dangerous food and yet also the most popular. Sugar can come in natural forms or created in labs to make you think it can be “healthier”. But when it comes to using sugar, it is found in almost every home in the US and across the world. While some naturally derived sugar can’t harm as much as artificial sugar, eating too much of this ingredient can still do a tremendous amount of damage to our health. Sugar is inevitably found in almost every type of food we eat. The typical natural sugar are glucose, fructose, galactose, and maltose, lactose, and sucrose. While sugar that comes from certain fruits convert into energy that your body needs, sugar that is processed can harm your body. And eating too much of any kind of sugar (just like any kind of food) can still cause health problems for some.

So why is sugar so addictive? Some experts coined sugar as a form of “drug” where your body becomes addicted to it the more you eat it. To break it down simply – sugar is consumed into your body and into your bloodstream. Your pancreas detects a rush of sugar and releases a hormone called insulin to deal with all of the excess sugar. Insulin helps regulate that level of sugar in our blood; the more sugar in the blood stream, the more insulin is released. Insulin helps store all of this glucose in the liver and muscles as glycogen and in fat cells. However, sometimes our body is unable to balance that process which results in too much insulin being released. When too much insulin is released in our body it struggles to maintain that balance thus leading our bodies to “crash”. When our bodies have that “sugar crash”, signals tell us that we need MORE sugar, thus leading to a downward spiral where the body starts to think that we need sugar to survive. Eventually more insulin is wanted and sugar no longer is stored to create energy and instead becomes extra insulin and fat storage.

Sugar can cause a wide array of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, macular degeneration, renal failure, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, and tooth decay. The culprit of sugar lies in most foods where hidden sugar are found in the ingredients yet are cleverly disguised with different names. While sugar found in fruits don’t cause as much harm as processed sugar found in corn syrup (especially since most of them are not GMO-free), it’s wise to learn about all the different names that are used in everyday products.

Some common sugar names found in food are:

Corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar syrup, cane crystals, cane sugar, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solids, malt syrup.

It is hard to stop having sugar altogether, but there are ways to limit our daily intake of it. According to the American Heart Association, women should consume no more than 100 calories of added sugar and men consume no more than 150 calories of added sugar. Preschoolers should not consume more than 170 calories of added sugar a day (or 4 teaspoons), children ages 4-8 consume no more than 130 calories of added sugar ( or 3 teaspoons), and pre-teens to teens should consume no more than 5-8 teaspoons of added sugar. Children under the age of 2 years old should not be given added sugar at all because the calorie needs of children in this age group are lower than older children and adults, so there is little room for food and beverages containing added sugars that don’t provide them with good nutrition. In addition, taste preferences begin early in life, so limiting added sugars may help children develop a life-long preference for healthier foods.

Here are some simple ways in how to avoid added sugar. Sugar that’s found in fruits and vegetables occur naturally but it’s still wise to cut down on any type of sugar as the compound can be hidden in many types of food thus leading to an increase of sugar intake.

How to Cut Down Sugar:

– Cut down on sweet foods. You know, the ubiquitous sugary sweets such as donuts, cakes, sodas, and etc. 

– Always read food labels. Understand the hidden sugar terms such as the ones listed above. You may be surprised to find that common white or wheat bread contain large amounts of sugar. Added sugar can be hidden in sauces, salad dressings, crackers, and many more.

– Learn sugar’s aliases. Names such as the ones listed above (high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, molasses, sucrose, brown rice syrup, dried cane syrup, honey, and several others) all contain calories and some are processed to a degree that it becomes detrimental to your health. Beware of food that includes more than one of these types of sugar as that increases the amount of added sugar necessary on a daily basis.

– Buy unsweetened. Look specifically for food labeled as “unsweetened” or “no added sugar”.

– Healthy protein and fat. Unhealthy carbs loaded with sugar can cause sugar levels to rise drastically and crash just as fast. Pair protein, healthy fats, and fiber with your meal which can slow down the release of blood sugar in your body thus helping you feel full longer).

– Skip the artificial sugar and sweeteners. It may seem like you’re cutting down on sugar, but artificial sugar doesn’t process as naturally in your body as real sugar does thus throwing your body’s natural nutritional intake off balance. 

– Add more natural flavor. Adding certain spices and citrus in your food, for example, will add more flavor in your meals without needing the extra sugar. Try sprinkling cinnamon, nutmeg, and unsweetened cocoa for extra boosts of nutrition and flavor.

– Choose healthy drinks wisely. While it’s important to avoid soda altogether, many sports drinks and enhanced drinks designed to be “healthier” actually contains just as much sugar. Read the label carefully when choosing these vitamin enhanced beverages.

– Enjoy sugar in moderation. It’s best to avoid added sugar completely but while that may be difficult to do so-especially when you’re trying to cut it off completely- enjoy sugar in its natural state instead. Just avoid the added sugar as most sweet foods don’t really need that extra sweetness. If you must indulge, remember to do so only once in awhile and then stick with your no-sugar or low-sugar regime.

– Stick with your newfound power to reduce added sugar. At first it might seem quite daunting but once you get more used to reducing sugar, your taste buds will change as well. You’ll notice foods that are super sweet and you’ll be inclined to stay away from them. You’ll enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables more. And you won’t feel the need to buy sugary sweets such as donuts or cakes as much.

I used to eat a lot of sugar when I was in college. It might have been the extra work I added on and all the stress caused me to eat unhealthily. I finally realized that not eating well was causing a lot of problems for me mentally and physically and once I reduced sugary foods, I started to feel much better. Now, even years later I still don’t like having too much sugar in my food. I don’t drink coffee with sugar. I drink unsweetened tea. I eat only a small slice of cake and I might enjoy a cookie now and then. When I don’t eat a lot of sugar, I don’t buy sugary snacks either which in turn helps out my son who as a child, can find sugar quite addicting.

Reducing your sugar intake really doesn’t have to be a war on yourself. It’s easy to remember that too much sugar can cause tremendous health problems later on in life. Think about long term health goals. While that powdered doughnut may look appetizing now, it might also be that extra 20 grams of sugar you didn’t need. Remember that sugar adds up easily especially in common foods such as yogurt, or a couple of teaspoons of sweetener in your coffee, or energy bars that are loaded with sugar. Read labels diligently and remind yourself that natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables are much healthier and more nutritious.

When you make a conscious effort to reduce sugar and to make healthier food choices, your mind and body will reap the benefits. Start today by breaking the sugar habit.

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

Posted by: suzan | April 19, 2017

Earth Month with Boulder Organic! Soups

 

BOULDER ORGANIC SOUPS

Those who are familiar with my work know that Earth Day is incredibly important to me. While I prefer to call it “Earth Month” – to really impact the awareness of protecting our environment – Earth Day is more widely known throughout the world and has been celebrated for many decades. Starting in early March, I plan on what I want to do to help the planet as well as enlightening others about this important date. Virtually anything can be done to help improve our planet and environment and any small gesture is a right step to living cleaner and healthier.

For Earth Month I usually write about different kinds of activities we can do to help support our planet. But this year Boulder Organic Foods ( http://boulderorganicfoods.com/)wanted me to highlight the importance of helping our planet through the support of brands who care about Earth and about our health. I had the sincere pleasure of meeting the founder of Boulder Organic Foods at the Natural Products Expo West this year and was educated on the brand and what it stands for. Kate was such a delight to chat with and we sampled several of Boulder Organic’s soups at the booth. We even got temporary carrot tattoos as a fun way of showing we care about what we eat.

I tend to make my own soup from scratch but it can also be quite time consuming. So when I had first tasted Boulder Organic Soups I was so amazed at the fresh flavor, the clean palate, and the unique blend of ingredients in the soups. I honestly was envious of how the blend of various herbs and spices incorporated deliciously with traditional vegetables such as carrots, onions, and broccoli. I would have to work diligently in my kitchen for hours before I can simulate any of their soups. Luckily for me, with over fifteen various flavors of soups from Boulder Organic I can just as easily heat them up on my stovetop and enjoy them immediately.

Boulder Organic Foods originated over 10 years ago in Colorado from an entrepreneur who wanted clean and delicious fresh soups. Deciding to sell her soups in supermarkets throughout the country, she wanted to provide healthy and fresh soup using only natural and organic ingredients that are easy to heat up and enjoy. Boulder Organic Foods makes only soup and strives to not only provide wholesome and delicious organic soup, but to be a leader in sustainable practices. Boulder Organic Foods made a huge impact in 2016 with the following sustainable practices:

  • Saved 1,983 gallons of gasoline

  • Kept 26 cars off the road

  • Prevented 694 pounds of water pollution and toxic air pollutants

  • Prevented 49,791 pounds of substances harmful to human health

  • Collected 96,231 pounds of compostable materials

  • Saved over 158 tons of greenhouse gas emissions

I also like that I can recycle or reuse any of the soup containers. Recycling is very important for  the planet but what’s even more important is to reuse whatever you can whenever it’s possible. Try reusing Boulder Organic’s soup containers to put leftover food in them. Or use it to store tiny toy pieces (such as Lego blocks that are always laying around). Or make gift containers out of them. Or make batches of granola or trail mixes and store them in the containers. No matter how you want to reuse your soup containers, try not to throw them away at first instinct. These nice, sturdy containers can have several more lives after you’ve finished up the yummy soup.

For more info about Boulder Organic and their delicious and wholesome soups, please visit their website: http://boulderorganicfoods.com/. There are also great recipes on that site you can create using the soups.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

 

Posted by: suzan | April 18, 2017

Honest Tea/Honest Kids – Mission In A Bottle

 

 

If your kids hound you (like mine does) about sweet drinks, it’s hard to say no to them sometimes. However, I don’t give my son soda -unless it’s the occasional natural soda – and when I do buy any kind of sweet beverages for him, my first go-to is Honest Kids. I don’t believe kids, especially young kids should have sweet drinks since it only leads them to want more of it as they grow up. Sugar is an addictive ingredient and while a little bit isn’t bad for you, eating too much on a regular basis can cause health problems as you get older.

Honest Kids drinks are naturally sweetened with fruit juice instead of sugar. Too many kids juices nowadays have unnecessary sugar added into their beverages that it’s no wonder kids are addicted to sugar at such a young age. If you’re going to have some type of fruit juice, it’s always better to have them without any additional sugar since fruit juice is already sweet as is. And with all of the Honest Kids juices made with organic ingredients, I don’t have to worry much about any toxic pesticides or chemicals in my son’s juice. The Honest Kids containers are also BPA-free and are easily recyclable or reusable into fun crafts.

This year at the Natural Products Expo West I had the great pleasure of meeting Seth Goldman, one of the founding creators of Honest Tea. It was such a delight speaking with Seth as he jovially explained to me the origins of his company and how his son also grew up drinking Honest Tea and Honest Kids. Always smiling and cheerful, Seth surprised me with his newest graphic novel, Mission In A Bottle. Seth’s book, Mission In A Bottle is drawn with clever illustrations and detailed accounts of Seth’s plan to start a beverage company that provided only healthy, nutritious, and delicious beverages. I really enjoyed reading the book and as a comic fan, I truly appreciated how Seth and his partner decided to tell their story via comic book style instead of as a novel. It’s a well thought out book that any age can enjoy reading.

Seth’s book can currently be purchased on Amazon and it’s a fun and delightful way of learning how a humble dad and entrepreneur started his fledgling tea company to becoming one of the most well-known natural and organic beverage company in the US.

Honest Tea and Honest Kids can be found at natural grocery stores and supermarkets throughout the US, as well as certain restaurants and schools. The newest varieties in their extensive beverage lineup are the Honest Tea Unsweetened Peach Ginger Tea which definitely has a nice spicy kick to it and the Honest Sport organic sport drinks. I really like the Honest Sport which was created with the right balance of electrolytes and carbohydrates for athletes or anyone who wants a clean, refreshing, and not too sweet beverage to give you that smooth and natural energy throughout the day. I like that it’s definitely healthier than the other conventional sports drink out there and I can give it to my son when he’s playing outside or exerting energy all day. The Honest Sport has a more fruitier flavor than traditional sport drinks and it does still have a bit of added organic sugar. The current flavors of Honest Sport are: Lemon Honest Sport, Berry Honest Sport, and Orange Honest Sport and at 100 calories a bottle and caffeine-free, it’s a good sports drink to pick up when you need to replenish your electrolytes.

For more information about Honest Tea, please visit their website: https://www.honesttea.com/ and pick up Seth Goldman’s book to read while enjoying a favorite Honest Tea beverage!

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

Posted by: suzan | April 12, 2017

Week 4: 2017 Healthy Start – Reducing Food Waste

FOOD

During Earth Month I feel like I need to be extra diligent in protecting the environment. While I try to do my best every day, sometimes it’s good to take a deeper look into what I actually do to help the environment and how I can improve the results. One of the biggest concerns that have been forefront in my mind is food waste – or being wasteful in general. Each year at least 40% of food is wasted in the US, according to the NRDC database. Consider how many hungry people there are in our country alone, that’s a phenomenal amount of quality food that could feed those hungry mouths. Many of  these hungry people are children who if lucky, will get a nutritious meal once a day.

Besides all the other things people waste in general, food waste is really unnecessary when you factor in how food end up in our landfill and accumulates illnesses and unhealthy habits. With too much waste, our world creates an influx of diseases through improper disposal of food thus leading to toxic air quality and pollutants. Wasting food is such a major problem in the US that there are hundreds of organizations – private and government – dedicated in reducing food waste through education, proper food distribution, and proper disposal. It doesn’t take much for everyone to reduce their impact on food waste and increase their efforts in cleaning up the environment.

So what should we do to eliminate food waste? There are some simple and basic steps that you’re probably already doing right now. Bear in mind that landfills fill up and eventually must be closed down due to overflow. Just imagine if a new one opens up in your neighborhood or city. How do you think it will affect your air quality, your health, and your children’s health? Below I’ve outlined some basic steps you can take to reduce your food waste. It may take a few days or even a few months to get a good system set up and to make it a natural everyday habit. But diligence and compassion with how food works will eventually pay off for your health and the health of our planet.

STEPS TO REDUCING FOOD WASTE:

REDUCE AT THE GROCERY STORES – Some may live on very limited monetary budgets while others have more money than they can use. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be careful when we’re grocery shopping. Grocery stores need to make money off of us therefore stores will line their shelves with thousands of types of food that we don’t really need. Factor in the food they place at checkout counters and stands, it’s no wonder that America waste so much food every year and gain unnecessary weight. Do we really need that extra pack of chips or cookies? Most likely not if you’re just buying for the sake of buying. In order to reduce waste in grocery store shopping, make a list of what you plan to buy based on what you want to cook during the week. Find creative recipes if you’re stuck on what to make for dinner. Don’t buy groceries on an empty stomach as feeling hungry can send visual signals from your sight to your brains leading you to want to buy more food. Turn on your “blinders” so that you are only buying what is on your list and what your family truly needs. Consider how much money you can save by only buying what you need and not what looks good at the moment in the grocery stores.

PLAN MEALS AHEAD OF TIME – Whether you are a one-person household or a family of ten, planning your meals throughout the week not only saves money but your insanity during those busy weekdays. This step goes along with reducing at grocery stores because if you make a surefire plan on what you want to cook during the week, your grocery bill will also be rewarding. Here are the basics: Start by cooking what you’re good at and what you know. You can try new recipes later when you’re getting the hang of reducing food waste. Then check what’s already in your refrigerator and pantry and add only what you’re missing. Learn about portion sizes and whether you’re feeding for one person or just a few. Stock up on key essential kitchen items such as grains (rice, quinoa, barley, etc.), spices such as salt, pepper, and garlic, dried herbs such as thyme, basil, and cinnamon, and common sauces and oils including ketchup, olive oil, and vinegar (balsamic vinegar has a wide variety of culinary uses). Next, be sure to incorporate two types of protein, one or two grains, and a vegetable medley to make at the beginning and work into the rest of your meals. For instance, sauteed medley of broccoli and peppers can be used as a side dish for one meal, then incorporated into enchiladas for the next, and then added into soups or stews later in the week. Next, double duty your ingredients. If you’re using tortillas, start off with some quesadillas for the whole family. Then save the rest for Asian wraps or something else that’s creative. When you have no choice but to buy certain food items in bulk, such as bread and rice, find clever and delicious ways to stretch them out during the week. One of my favorite uses for rice is to make fried rice where I can add as many ingredients into it as I’d like. The next two steps are buying frozen ingredients. Frozen food are flashed-frozen to retain nearly all or most of their fresher counterparts. If you live in climates where certain fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to come by, rely on frozen foods since they last longer and you can easily use only the portions you need. The final step in meal planning is cook and freeze. Freeze in the portion sizes you’ll want to defrost later so that frozen food stays fresher longer instead of having to refreeze the portions you don’t need. Soups, stews, and lasagna for example are great to make in larger batches and freeze for later consumption.

REVIVING FOOD – Sometimes food may be stale, wilted, or badly seasoned and we feel inclined to toss them into the trash. But most oftentimes these types of food can be saved and revived to taste better. For wilted fruits and vegetables, a quick soak in ice water for five to ten minutes can revive their appearance and taste. Or, chop them up and add them into soups and stews and no one will know the difference. Stale bread and crackers work really well when toasted and crisped. You can even turn old bread into delicious and nutritious croutons for your salads. Small bits of crumbs in bags can be sprinkled over salads or baked into casseroles. If your food is too salty, add vinegar, lemon juice, or brown sugar to dilute the dish or simply add more water. You can also pop in a raw, peeled potato in soup to absorb some of the salt and save the potato for another dish. Burned food can be scraped away and if you still have some of that leftover burnt taste, add in something sweet or spicy such as hot sauce or barbecue sauce. And for those overcooked dishes you can easily puree them into soups or sauces. Add in some milk base, fresh or frozen vegetables and you get instant and yummy soups and sauces.

FREEZING FOOD – Freezing food is perhaps one of the oldest trick in the book when it comes to saving food. While we generally use the freezer to keep ice cream and frozen vegetables in their natural state, did you know that you can freeze cooked food for up to three months depending on the type of food? But just putting cooked food into the freezer isn’t really proper as most of them can still end up being wasted. Here is a guideline to proper food freezing techniques: 1- Freeze in portions to keep your frozen food as fresh as possible. If you don’t plan on eating that entire loaf of bread then freeze only the slices you don’t plan on eating. Use muffin tins to freeze soups or stews so they can easily pop out for a quick lunch or dinner. Freeze berries separately on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a plastic bag so they’re not stuck together when you pop them in the freezer. You can freeze practically anything as long as you know what you want to eat throughout the weeks. 2- Keep frozen food airtight to prevent freezer burns. Remove meat from supermarket trays and wrap well with plastic wrap or freezer paper before storing in zip-top bags. Squeeze excess air from plastic bags and containers, and avoid opening the freezer door unnecessarily. 3- Leave room for liquids as most liquids expand in the freezer, so leave about half an inch at the top of containers to account for this. 4- Blanch certain foods before freezing in order to preserve quality, color, and vitamin content. To blanch food, clean your produce, pop it in a pot of boiling water, then cool in ice water. 5- Label and organize your frozen food so it’s easier to see what’s inside and how long you’ve kept it in the freezer. Large plastic bags are great for soups and purees as they can lay flat in the freezer to save space. Be sure to label the date your food is put into the freezer and what type of food it is. 6- Defrost safely to prevent food contamination and food waste. Defrost properly by allowing it to thaw in the refrigerator portion and not on the kitchen counters. You can microwave most frozen foods by using the proper settings on your microwave.

TEACHING KIDS ABOUT WASTING LESS – Kids learn naturally by what they see so it’s up to parents to teach by example (good examples of course!). While we may be inclined to teach our kids to finish their food, proper food consumption is equally important in maintaining the health of our children. Here are the steps in helping our kids be more mindful of food: 1- Feed them your food. Unless they’re infants or just starting to eat solids, children can eat the same food you eat. If you do plan on serving infants the same food, simply puree the food or cut it into smaller pieces. Serve yourself a smaller portion knowing that you’ll probably end up finishing what they don’t. 2- Serve tiny portions to ease your child into accepting new or unusual foods. Studies show many children have to try a food up to fifteen times in order to accept it. Start with small portions and minimize untouched food. You can always offer seconds when they’re interested. 3- Save tiny portions for the next day or the next meal or incorporate them into something else. Use leftover milk for your coffee or tea. 4- Limit snacks. Teach children early on to eat during regular meal times instead of snacking in between. This prevents unhealthy eating habits, saves money, and reduce waste from packaging and wrappers. 5- Prevent food fights. Kids of a certain age will test their limits by throwing food during mealtimes. Stay nearby young children to intervene and to make sure they are eating and handling their bite-sized food properly. 6 – Packing lunch for school-aged children can be quite daunting at times. You may end up with a lot of leftover food that if your child is diligent enough, might bring them back home. Start by packing their lunch in reusable containers and ask them to bring home any leftovers. Ask them why their food aren’t eaten and you can plan better for their future lunch. Give smaller portions and always include healthy foods in their lunch bags. It’s perfectly okay if your kids don’t finish everything in their lunch containers now and then as long as they’re not sneaking food from their friends or if there might be some other hidden food issues. 7- Have your kids help you with the preparation and cooking during mealtime. Involving your kids in the preparation and cooking process gives them ownership and teaches them how much time and effort is made into cooking. Teach them how to serve themselves (within limits) so that they learn proper table etiquette at a young age. 8- Garden at home is a wonderful way for kids to learn about the farm to table method. Give your child his/her own garden area to plant easy to grow fruits and vegetables and herbs. They will learn to appreciate nature and how food is a valuable asset to the world.

DECIPHERING DATES ON PRODUCTS – Food expiration dates are quite mysterious. Decades ago, food in cans were discovered to contain their original taste and quality. Yet often we throw away perfectly edible food just because the stamped date on the product tells us to do so. According to SaveTheFood.com, food expiration dates have nothing to do with safety, and are only loosely related to quality. They’re the manufacturer’s best estimate of when the product is at its freshest or “peak quality.” Many foods will still be good to eat days, weeks, or months after those dates, depending on the food. So why do we automatically throw food away after the expiration date? Well, because we are mostly programmed to think that certain foods are “bad” for you after the expiration date. While that may be true for certain types of food and how you store them, most products are still edible and remain in their original quality. If the expiration date doesn’t tell you when food goes bad, then how do you know if it’s still good? The difference is between contamination and spoilage. Most of the microbes that spoil food are harmless for humans. In fact, some favorite foods and beverages, like yogurt, cheese, and wine, are made using controlled spoilage. However, contamination is due to a pathogen – a microbe that can make us sick. Poor handling of food is a common culprit in food contamination. Here is a breakdown of the date labeling: “Best before” dates refer to quality rather than food safety. It’s the date before which the brand stands by its product (unless it’s been opened or left out in warm temperatures). Foods with a “best before” or “use by” date should be safe to eat after the date has passed, but they may no longer be at their very best. This is true for “best by,” “best if used by,” “enjoy by,” and other similar expressions. “Sell by” dates are meant for store staff. They actually build in quality so that if the food is sold by that date, you can still get it home and have top-quality shelf life for some time. “Freeze by” is a good way of preserving food past its “best before” dates. Almost any type of food can be frozen if done properly – meat, milk, cheese, eggs, bread, unused pasta sauce are just a few. For a directory of food storage, click on this link for more info: https://www.savethefood.com/food-storage. When it comes to expiring food, you can always rely on your eyes and nose. For most food, your senses can tell you when it’s time to toss the food or salvage as much as possible. For slightly molded fruits, you can cut out the offensive part as the rest of the fruit are safe to consume. Milk, yogurt, juice, and sauces can be sniffed or take a small taste test to know if they’re edible or not. Of course food left out in certain temperatures should always be questioned especially if left out in warm temperature or in the “danger zone” between 40-120 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

COMPOST – Composting is one of the easiest and most efficient way of reducing food waste. While we should strive to not have too much food to waste in the first place, instead of throwing out food, we can compost certain types of food to create natural fertilizers and nutrients for our garden and for the environment. Many companies naturally compost their food waste as a way of giving back to the planet. Composting benefits agriculture, reduces our reliance on synthetic fertilizers, diverts methane-producing organic materials from landfills, and improves soil’s water retention capacity so you won’t need to water as much. For easy steps, follow the guidelines from NRDC: https://www.nrdc.org/stories/composting-way-easier-you-think.

DONATE TO FOOD BANKS – Food banks are there to help those who really need it. But most of these food banks or food pantries are non-profit organizations that rely on the generosity of people to donate food or money. If you do have an abundance of food leftover and after you’ve tried all of the steps above, consider donating your food to a local food bank. Most food pantries accept canned goods because they last longer and they’re easy to store. But there are also others that take in perishables and unused food from restaurants and grocery stores. Food banks help those who can’t afford enough food so it helps them and you as well.

Food waste shouldn’t have to be a problem in the US but because convenience often wins over common sense, oftentimes we toss out food without thinking about it first. Consider that wasting food uses up precious resources such as water, fuel, labor, and money, reducing food waste should be one of the most important tasks we take on to help improve our world. Try these techniques above to help you reduce food waste. It could be anything as simple as saving fresh fruits and vegetable scraps to be made into broths. Or buying less food at grocery stores and restaurants. Or taking leftovers home from restaurants and making sure to eat them within the next couple of days. Any small step towards saving food and wasting less can make a bigger impact for the future.

*resource – SaveTheFood.com

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

Posted by: suzan | April 6, 2017

Kiss Tribe – Kiss My Face 32 oz. lotions

Living in California has it’s perks. Fresh air, clean ocean breeze, and the ability to enjoy a year-round season of warmth and sunshine. But we also have days when the weather gets too hot or too dry and I’m prone to dry skin when I’m outside all day working with the kids at school. Which is why I was so happy and grateful when Kiss My Face sent me their newest 32 oz. body lotion to try and review.

I’ve been using Kiss My Face (www.kissmyface.com) products for many years and it all began with their Kids Orange U Smart shampoo and conditioner. My son liked the scent and I loved how it lathers on easily and rinsed off leaving a fresh, citrus fragrance. But most importantly, I enjoy using Kiss My Face because they do not use any artificial fragrances, parabens, phthalates, or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) in any of their products and their products are never tested on animals. Plus, their products are carefully formulated for specific needs such as body washes, toothpaste gels, body soaps, facial care, sunscreen, hair care, lip balms, and of course a great kids line. Their line of natural health care products are comprehensive and naturally scented with fruit, flower, and herb extracts.

As a Kiss Tribe blogger, I received Kiss My Face’s newest body lotion in their new 32 ounce size which makes it more economically and environmentally friendly. With enticing fragrances such as Lavender Shea, Tropical Coconut, and Olive & Aloe Fragrance Free, any of these lotions would be great to use daily and all day. My favorite scent is lavender and while I’m not a big fan of coconut, coconut oil does have additional health benefits for the body.  All of the lotions come with a convenient dispenser top so it’s easy to keep the hands clean while I’m lathering up the lotion.

This year, Kiss My Face has partnered with the Beagle Freedom Project, a global leader in animal rescue and advocacy that secures the release of dogs & other animals from laboratories and gives them a chance at a normal home life. The organization promotes cruelty-free lifestyle choices everyone can make. You can learn more about Beagle Freedom Project at http://bfp.org/.  Because Kiss My Face is a cruelty free company, it would make sense to support an organization that helps rescue laboratory animals. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the founders of Beagle Freedom Project at the Natural Products Expo and she explained how the lab animals (in particular Beagles) are taken from birth to be tested on. I was saddened and shocked to hear that beagles are used mainly because of their gentle nature and their unwillingness to fight back once they have been captured. The Beagle Freedom Project have fought many hard-won battles to rescue these lab animals, rehabilitate them, and then hold extensive interviews in order to find them the right home.

If you’ve never tried Kiss My Face you can find them at most natural grocery stores, Kroger, CVS, Target, Publix, Amazon, Lucky Vitamin, and Vitacost. They’re also available at www.kissmyface.com where the brand’s extensive line of natural health care products are available.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

Seeds and berries have been eaten for many centuries and are often used to boost health and increase longevity. Some are also used as medicinal purposes and most are easy to add into our daily meals. I’ve been eating certain types of seeds and berries since I was a child and started giving my son the same type of seeds and berries when he was younger as well. Our favorite health-boosting berry is the Goji berry, which originated in China and have an awesome amount of health benefits. Goji berries were used in ancient times to increase one’s overall immunity as they contain high levels of antioxidants. They’re naturally sweet and versatile and make a great snack for adults and children. I often give my son a handful of organic dried Goji berries to munch on throughout the day and he likes them as is, without needing to add the berries into food or beverages. However, every so often I like to include them in my cooking just to liven up my dishes and to add some extra nutrition. Below is a recipe of adding Goji berries into my homemade granola. It adds a certain flavor and texture to the granola making people wonder what that unique taste might be.

Adding super seeds and berries into your daily meals is important in maintaining overall health and vitality. But so many people are unaccustomed to eating certain types of seeds and berries. While berries such as strawberries and blueberries have their own health benefits, it’s good to add in some uncommon ones simply because we should increase foods that are better for us. Berries such as Acai berry, Goji berry, and Sea berry are not as commonly known but they sure pack a hell of a punch when it comes to antioxidants and other healing factors such as anti-inflammatory, increasing blood circulation which is crucial for overall health, and preventing certain types of cancers and chronic illnesses. It’s easy to add these types of super berries into your food whether eating them raw, blended into smoothies, or added into soups and baked sweets. Because super berries are more nutritious than most common types of berries, increasing your intake of them can only be beneficial to your health.

Super seeds are seeds that include flax seeds, chia seeds, and sesame seeds. Super seeds contain high levels of nutrients that help your body fight off diseases and increase your mental sharpness. Plus they are easy to assimilate into what you already eat on a regular basis. Most of these types of super seeds can be used in oil form so you can replace traditional vegetable or corn oil with flax seed oil and sesame oil. Sprinkle chia seeds on top of your yogurt or cereal. Add flax seed oil to your hot dishes. And sesame oil is a great flavor enhancer for most Asian recipes. Just be sure not to overheat these oils as they do lose some of their health boosting qualities during high heat. I usually add sesame oil until the very end of cooking to draw out the natural elements of my dishes and to enhance the flavors. I use flax seed oil in place of fish oil for important Omega fatty acids and Chia seeds like to go into my yogurt and smoothies.

There are many beneficial factors to using super berries and seeds and when you find creative and delicious ways of adding them into your food, not only are you increasing your palate, but you’re helping your body become better than it already is. One of my favorite ways of using Goji berries – as mentioned above – is to add them into my homemade granola. As a long time user of Goji berries, I was challenged by the brand, Sunfood Superfoods (http://www.sunfood.com/) to find a creative way of using their organic Goji berries. Of course I love a good challenge whenever it comes to my favorite health food so I put the Goji berries into homemade granola. While I have already done this in the past, I usually make good old fashioned granola without any additional ingredients other than the core ingredients. But thinking about unique ways of eating Goji berries besides as they are, I recall the delightful and uniquely sweet taste of Goji berries in my traditional granola recipe. Below you will find the Granola with Goji berries recipe that I hope you will try for yourself and enjoy as much as I do.

With week 3 of our Healthy 2017 goals, let’s try and incorporate more super seeds and berries into our lives. I’ve listed some of the best super seeds and berries that can be added into foods or eaten as they are. If you can enjoy them in their raw form without cooking them, you’ll find that these super seeds and berries are delicious just the way they are.

SEEDS:

Chia Seeds – Chia seeds offer a mild nutty flavor and has a delicious crunch to them. For an ounce of raw Chia seeds you’ll get about 4 grams of protein in which you’ll typically use about 2-4 teaspoons in a recipe. Chia seeds also contain fiber, calcium, phosphorous, and manganese. Chia seeds are great sprinkled into cereal or yogurt but can also be cooked into almost any dish you’d like. Chia seeds are great as Chia seeds pudding where seeds are soaked overnight with almond milk to create a slightly gummy texture. Once Chia seeds have been soaked or cooked, the texture and flavor changes slightly so be creative in how you use these delightful seeds.

Flax Seeds – Flax seeds have a slightly crunchy texture to them and contain about 5 grams of protein to one ounce of seeds. Flax seeds are full of fiber, thiamin, and magnesium and are a great powerhouse in preventing heart disease and other ailments. Flaxseeds are great for vegetarians and vegans as they provide a high amount of non-animal Omega 3 fatty acid. Mix flaxseed into soups, cereal, granola, ice cream, and virtually anything you can eat. You can also use Flaxseed oil in your cooking or baking. Because Flaxseeds are small seeds, beware of choking hazards for children.

Sunflower Seeds – Sunflower seeds contain about 5 grams of protein to one ounce of seeds. These kid-friendly seeds contain fiber, Vitamin E,  Vitamin B6, niacin, zinc, and many other beneficial nutrients. Eat them straight out of the shell or you can toast them in the oven for a delicious extra crunch to add into cereal, baked goods, and even Asian food stir-fry!

Hemp Seeds – Hemp Seeds contain 9 grams of protein per one ounce of seeds. Not to be confused with marijuana, Hemp seeds are full of iron, magnesium, and zinc.  Hemp seeds are often found mixed into cereal, trail mixes, and smoothies.

Pomegranate Seeds – Pomegranate seeds contain about one gram of protein per one ounce of seeds. When it comes to antioxidants, Pomegranate seeds are up in the charts along with Vitamins A, B, and C, folic acid, and fiber. Pomegranate seeds are generally eaten raw as they offer a delicate crunch and a tangy-sweet bite. You can also find pomegranate juice either as a blend or 100%. For full health benefits, it’s best to eat Pomegranate seeds raw and in 100% juice form.

Sesame Seeds – Sesame seeds typically come in white, brown, or black versions with black sesame seeds containing the most flavor. Sesame seeds contain about 5 grams of protein per one ounce of seeds and are full of health benefits including fiber, thiamin, Vitamin B6, calcium, and iron. Sesame seeds are very versatile when it comes to cooking with them. Black sesame oil contain numerous health benefits as well as producing a rich and nutty flavor when cooked or drizzled over food. Use sesame seeds in cereal, soups, baked goods, and sesame oil in stir-frys and in salad dressings.

SUPER BERRIES:

Acai Berries – Acai berries hail from indigenous trees in South America and are packed with amino acids, healthy fatty acids, antioxidants, and protects against chronic diseases and illnesses. Acai berries are great eaten raw but are mostly enjoyed in smoothies or blended into yogurts. Acai berries yield a slightly tart taste and can be mixed into trail mixes.

Blueberries – Blueberries are full of delicious flavors and health benefits and children love to pop them into their mouths as a natural snack. Blueberries pack an impressive amount of antioxidants, manganese, fiber, and Vitamin K. Blueberries are known to help fight off diseases including certain types of cancer, heart  disease, and diabetes. Try blueberries in a delicious fruit salad, blended into smoothies, stirred into yogurt, and baked into scrumptious sweets.

Cranberries – Cranberries contain a group of flavonoids called proanthocyanidins, which help lower the risk of urinary tract infections. Cranberries help support the blood system and may prevent certain types of cancer as well as promote heart health. Cranberries are typically very tart if eaten raw so try mixing raw cranberries into smoothies or baked goods. The dried versions are great as a snack on its own or mixed into trail mixes and oatmeal. Get children to eat cranberries by baking them into muffins such as the Cranberry-Almond muffins.

Goji Berries – Goji berries are bright, orange and beautiful little berries that are a powerhouse in health benefits. Originally used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Goji berries have become quite popular throughout the decades in the US mainly due to its immunity boosting and disease fighting abilities. Goji berries are full of Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and lycopene. Goji berries are known to treat diabetes, high blood pressure, maintain eye health, and nourish the kidneys and liver. Goji berries also provide natural energy and vitality, increase metabolism, and helps support the blood system. Goji berries are usually sold in dried form but if you own a Goji berry plant, mix the berries into smoothies or baked into sweets. Dried goji berries are wonderful as they are – they’re incredibly sweet and has a slightly chewy texture. Mix Goji berries into yogurt, salad, and homemade trail mix.

Goldenberries – Goldenberries, or Incan berries are traditionally grown in South America and are rich in fiber, and Vitamins A , B, and C. Like Goji berries, Goldenberries provide natural energy and helps regulate the metabolism. Goldenberries also have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds so they’re great to munch on throughout the day. Goldenberries are typically sold in dry form and are great mixed into trail mixes, yogurt, and cereal as they do have a slightly more tangy taste.

Mulberries – Mulberries look similar to blackberries or rasberries and contain high amounts of polyphenols which supports heart health. Mulberries are also rich in Vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Naturally sweet with a tangy flavor, Mulberries can be eaten raw just like similar berries or mixed into yogurt and baked goods.

Sea Buckthorn Berries – Sea Buckthorn are small, yellowish-orange berries grown primarily in Asia. Considered to be most prominent in Omega 7’s, which can only be found in certain foods, Sea Buckthorn berries also contains Omegas 3,6,9 which are essential in the development and nourishment of skin, hair, and nails. Sea berries also help control cholesterol levels and boosts the immune system. Sea Buckthorn berries contain cancer-fighting flavonoids and cartenoids and contains a high level of Vitamin C. Sea berries are mostly used in natural beauty products  and as a natural juice. Two ounces of Sea Buckthorn berry juice contains about 40 milligrams of vitamin C, which is approximately 45 to 55 percent of your daily needs.

 

Super Goji Berries Granola Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups regular rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup goji berries, chopped berries yield about 1/4 cup(http://www.sunfood.com/food/goji-berries.html)
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit of your choice ( best with dried papayas or pineapples)
  • 1/4 cup dried nuts, chopped if you prefer

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheet with canola oil (or line baking sheet with nonstick foil). In a medium bowl, combine the oats,  cinnamon, salt, brown sugar, goji berries, (and other dried berries or nuts to your preference). Mix well. In a small bowl, combine the apple juice or water and mix into honey. Mix well.

  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until the mixture is fully combined and moist. Spread the mixture on the greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and stir, breaking the large chunks into smaller pieces. Bake for an additional 8 minutes or until crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool. While still warm, stir to break up any remaining chunks. When completely cool, store the granola in an airtight container.

 

So the next time you’re at the grocery store, look for these super berries and super seeds. You can find most of these seeds and berries at your natural grocery store or online through major e-commerce such as Amazon and Vitacost.com. Don’t be afraid to try any of  these super berries and seeds. They are super healthy and nutritious and tastes absolutely unique and delicious.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: suzan | March 21, 2017

The Last Chance Matinee – A Book Review

BOOKREVIEW

I always find that reading a good book, a really good book, is like finding a friend who understands you and takes you on a mental journey of discoveries and wonder. My love for reading began at such a young age that my parents at that time would practically have to force me to go outside to play. I would rather sit on the floor with fluffy pillows around me and immerse myself completely in the book I was reading than run around with other kids playing games. And while I tend to read certain genres I will from time to time pick up a book from a genre I don’t necessarily read from. I think it’s important to expand one’s horizon when it comes to learning and reading books and when you find a new author to add to your favorites list, books make life even more enjoyable.

As a Net Galley blogger, I was given the opportunity to review and help promote Mariah Stewart’s newest book, The Last Chance Matinee. Award-winning and bestseller author Mariah Stewart’s newest series begins with The Last Chance Matinee and the Hudson Sisters series and chronicles the delicate lives of three sisters – two by pure blood relation, the other a half sister through an unknown and hidden relationship by their father. And that’s the only thing the three sisters have in common with each other – the bond through their father. Cara, Allie, and Des couldn’t be more different if they tried and that’s what the reader is led to believe from the beginning. But as I read through the chapters and slowly became immersed into the worlds of the Hudson sisters, it became apparent that the three siblings are actually more similar than they themselves believe. And as any siblings who rarely got along while growing up let alone finding out a total stranger is related to you, there are challenges and hurdles and lots and lots of hurt feelings. But as the author takes us through each of the sister’s lives, we find that they are discovering each other as each layer of their private lives get peeled away slowly and delicately. Through an unexpected and sad knowledge the sisters learn about the secrets of their father and the intricate lives of the Hudson empire. And the aftermath of the secret leads the sisters on a journey of self discovery, friendship, and loyalty.

Here’s my personal take on the book:

This is my first time reading a book by Mariah Stewart as contemporary women’s fiction is not usually a genre I will read, but will from time to time pick up a good book if it captures my interest. Well, I can honestly say I understand why Ms. Stewart was a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author. Her book, The Last Chance Matinee draws you in immediately from the first paragraph as you’re thrust into the diverse lives of Cara, Allie, and Des. Cara seems to be the major component in this first series as the writer tends to put her foremost throughout the story. I’d like to think it is because Cara is the child from a “secret” marriage or not-quite-marriage since their father was still married to Des and Allie’s mom at that time.

To me, Cara seemed to be more of the forgiving one out of all the three sisters. Although she went through a painful divorce with a cheating ex-husband, she was brought up with unconditional love and nonconformity as the daughter of a free-spirited “hippie” mom. Des is Allie’s younger sister and was a child actor who made fame and fortune at a very young age. Allie though, was my favorite sister out of all the three because she was misunderstood and outcasted in a way by her rich friends from her previous marriage. She had a teenage daughter who adored her but was growing apart as I suppose many teenage girls would eventually. And it’s because the three sisters were quite different in personality and values was what made the book interesting from the start. It was a joy to discover the ticks of  the sisters, what they went through individually and what they’ll go through together towards the end of the book.

The synopsis of the story is that Cara, Allie, and Des are bound together for some time until their father’s will is fulfilled to the letter. Sent to the quaint town of Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, the sisters must unify to restore a decades old movie theater that had been quite the hot trend at that time. In order for the sisters to receive the generous estates left by their father, Fritz Hudson – who was a famous and wealthy talent agent – the siblings have to finish remodeling the old movie theater and bring it back to life before the reserved deposit for the remodel runs out. Having no experience in renovations or running a movie theater, the Hudson sisters must rely on each other as well as the kindness of the sleepy town of Pocono Mountains.

There is a bit of light romance and comedy throughout the book as each sister’s personality shines through – different in every way possible and yet very much alike in others. It’s through their mutual confusion and disbelief over the deception of their father’s secret marriage and secret child that at first separates them, but also inevitably bonds them in a way that siblings should do. The mystery of what their father did leads them to discover other mysteries of the Hudson empire as well. The Hudson’s was a founding family of the small town and had brought in much needed revenue and business for the growing yet tucked away suburb in the mountains. While I do love a good mystery, I did feel as though the author was dragging out the parts a bit but that’s just me, for if you’re going to involve mysteries into a story that’s not quite a mystery, it needs to have a big and shocking revelation that I never expected. Ofcourse that little drawback didn’t deter from reading the book. No, the entire book was engaging, intriguing, and the words flowed smoothly. The pacing was about right and one could tell that this book was written by an experienced writer.

The Last Chance Matinee is the first book in the series and I hope Ms. Stewart will write about Allie next. Something about her just drew me to her. Allie was deeply hurt and mistrusting but you did see her shine and soften when her daughter Nikki came to visit her and her sisters.  Nikki, her teenage daughter was one of the bright spots in the story as was the sweet moment when Des rescued some stray dogs. While the sisters worked alongside each other to restore the old theater, it was Cara who discovered a deeper secret that connected her father to the town and certain residents at that time. What that secret was I’m assuming we’ll find out in the next installments.

The Last Chance Matinee is definitely one of those “feel good” kind of books. Although it’s listed as women’s fiction, I think it would be fine for anyone over age 16 to read. There aren’t any explicit contents in there and the pacing is engaging enough for young readers who want something that is light-hearted, has a bit of mystery, and some interesting sibling rivalry.

*You can order The Last Chance Matinee on Barnes and Noble’s website and Amazon. For direct links to purchase the book, click here for B&N. And click here for Amazon. And of course wherever books are sold. The book is released as of today so please go to either websites to read an excerpt of The Last Chance Matinee and pick up a copy for yourself. You will not be disappointed!

About The Last Chance Matinee:

When celebrated and respected agent Fritz Hudson passes away, he leaves a trail of Hollywood glory in his wake—and two separate families who never knew the other existed. Allie and Des Hudson are products of Fritz’s first marriage to Honora, a beautiful but troubled starlet whose life ended tragically. As his relationship with Honora unraveled, Fritz was falling in love on the Delaware Bay with New Age hippie Susa Pratt—but, while Fritz loved Susa with everything he had and fathered daughter Cara with her, he never quite managed to come clean about his West Coast family.

Now Fritz is gone, and the three sisters are brought together under strange circumstances: there’s a large inheritance to be had, one that could save Allie from her ever-deepening debt following a disastrous divorce; allow Des to open a rescue shelter for abused and wounded animals; and give Cara a fresh start after her husband left her for her best friend—but only if the sisters upend their lives and work together to restore an old theater that was Fritz’s obsession growing up in his small hometown in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. Will the sisters come together to turn their father’s dream into a reality—and will they come away with far more than they bargained for?

The Last Chance Matinee is published by Gallery Books an imprint of Simon & Schuster and is categorized under Contemporary Women’s Fiction.

Thank you to Net Galley and Gallery Books for the ARC of The Last Chance Matinee.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

NUTRITION

It was a bit crazy last week getting ready for the Natural Products Expo but I learned so much and will be bringing you some exciting new products to talk about. I needed a bit of recuperation after all the walking and talking but I’m back on track now and what’s the best way to get back into the game than to talk about this week’s Healthy Start journal. Or rather, this month in March which has been designated around the country as National Nutritional Month.

Now you might wonder why we dedicate only a month to highlight good nutrition. Proper nutrition should be on the forefront of our daily goals but with so many people in the world still inexperienced or inaccessible to clean and healthy foods, dedicating an entire month to this crucial topic is one of the best ways in educating everyone.Eating nutritional foods and making healthy food choices is important for everyone regardless of age, gender, or physical need. Without proper nutrition our health depletes and we end up relying on medicine to heal us rather than preventing our bodies from needing medicine in the first place.

So what’s the best way in ensuring we eat properly on a regular basis? It’s not all about counting calories or taking in the correct amount of vitamins and supplements. There are quite a few factors to consider before we can truly change our mindset into eating healthier and better. Below, I’ve listed 10 ways we can make the change to eat better and eat cleaner. It’s not hard to do and it doesn’t have to take an insurmountable time to prepare. All you have to do is start – and as the famous Greek philosopher Plato once stated, “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – let’s begin at the beginning if we must.

10 Commandments for National Nutrition Month:

1- Evaluate your current health. Is junk food practically your best friend? Or do you walk down the produce aisle with love-filled eyes? If you answered yes to the first question then it’s time to seriously evaluate what’s in your fridge and pantry. And if your refrigerator is basically an empty land of bright lights and storage space, then it’s time to head on over to your friendly natural grocery store and load up on some fresh fruits and vegetables. “Junk” food was named as just that – junk that has no beneficial properties. Therefore eating too much junk food only destroys your precious health rather than enhance it. Think about how you feel now. Are you  tired, ragged, angry, stressed, or don’t have enough energy throughout the day? Those symptoms are mostly connected to what you’re already eating. Factor in no exercise with poor diet and your health will be greatly affected.

2- Determine the type of nutrients your body is lacking. We all fall short to eating unhealthy now and then but we don’t have to let our bad food choices define who we are and what we want to achieve. If your body is lacking in certain types of nutrients, be it Vitamin D or Magnesium, determine what causes you certain illnesses or imbalance in your life. Do you feel fatigued all of the time? Perhaps your body lacks enough B complex vitamins which includes B1, B2, B6, and B12. B vitamins are known for a multitude of benefits for the body and B5 and B12 helps convert carbohydrates into glucose which gives your body the “fuel” it needs to thrive. The best ways in getting more proper nutrients into your body is of course through natural foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, lean protein, and healthy fats. But if you don’t have enough time to consume all the necessary nutrients your body needs on a daily basis, then adding in supplements is important. Take vitamins and supplements from reputable brands that can trace their source materials and offer you a complete spectrum of supplements to choose from.

3- Take stock of your fridge and pantry. This goes without saying that what you have in your fridge and pantry/cupboards are basically what you’re going to eat.So clear out all the food that contains anything artificial, too much sodium and sugar, and unhealthy, saturated fat. While there are more factors to consider, start with these basic steps towards the journey to a healthier body and mind.

4- Write down healthy food choices on your grocery list. While #3 suggests eliminating poor choices in food, let’s take notice of food that are better for us. Replacing bad food choices with healthier ones is super easy to do. And creating a shopping list helps to curb those urges in picking up unwholesome food that will only damage your health in the long run. While completely eliminating sugar, salt, and fat isn’t ideal for a healthy mind and body, it is possible to eliminate the unhealthier versions or reduce your intake of them. Switch to raw sugar, honey, and agave. Use sea salt or season with the natural juices of vegetables. And use healthy fats such as Omega fatty acids found in certain fish, seeds, and pressed oils.

5- Find balance in what you eat. Nowadays with so many things going on in the world, stress and poor food choices seems to be major causes of illnesses and other health issues.  Try to limit intake of “junk” food that you find in grocery stores, resist eating out unnecessarily, and get a proper balance of fruits, vegetables, and whole supplements which comes from unprocessed, raw foods. Whenever possible, limit your intake of animal fat as studies show that animal fat can increase chances of certain illnesses and diseases in the body.

6- Learn about healthier food alternatives. I’ve been a vegetarian for many years and limit my intake of animal dairy and eggs as well. There are many reasons why one choose to eat healthier while others do not. Sometimes it’s out of convenience or a lack of knowledge. Educate yourself in replacing your less than healthy food choices with healthier versions. Try to resist buying foods out of convenience when there are simple ways of making food from scratch. Subscribe to a health or food newsletter where you get recipes emailed to you on a weekly basis. Try websites such as www.deliciousliving.com and http://www.tasteforlife.com/ for healthy and delicious recipes that are created and vetted  by professional chefs and health experts. And when you’re at the grocery store, a good general rule of thumb is to shop for products on the outer rims of the grocery store. When you’re finished with buying all the fresh produce, then browse the aisles in between the store.

7- Eat from an assortment of colors. Well, eat foods with natural colors of course. Resist buying food that contain artificial colors as most of these artificially created colors have been known to contribute to certain illnesses and health problems. Think of it this way – your body was created naturally so it’s only right that you give your body natural foods. A good guideline would be to eat foods that are red, orange, green, and yellow and try to stay away from foods that are mostly white. Foods rich in color often correlates with the organs in your body. Red is great for your blood, green is great for detoxifying the liver, and orange is good for your muscles.

8- Add more nutrient boosting foods into your meals. If completely changing your eating habits sounds frightening, take it one step at a time, or rather one meal at a time. Eating healthy isn’t an overnight ordeal or a one time commitment. But starting with just one meal a day or even 3 meals a week can get you on the right path to a more healthy and nutritious lifestyle. Start off with one cup of fruits or vegetables, preferably raw, then work your way up to adding legumes and seeds and whole grains. Legumes can include anything in the pea, nuts, and bean family but be sure to get legumes that are more nutritious such as garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lentils, and black beans. Seeds should include flax seeds and chia seeds which provide some of the highest amounts of health boosting qualities and can prevent many illnesses and diseases. Just be sure to get them organic or grown without genetic engineering or manipulation. Whole grains should include brown rice, quinoa, and oats just to name a few as whole grains contain a great amount of fiber for proper digestive health; they help maintain blood sugar levels; they contain essential minerals and vitamins such as calcium and vitamin B; they help you stay full longer; they reduce inflammation; they lower blood pressure, and many other health benefits.

9- Eat foods that reduce inflammation. Research has shown that chronic inflammation is the precursor to certain illnesses and diseases in our bodies. While some inflammation is necessary as it’s the body’s natural defense system, but when inflammation flares up more than needed, it attacks the body and results in health problems that we all don’t need. While some people might fight inflammation with pills, doctors and scientists recommend eliminating chronic inflammation or – even mild inflammation that won’t go away – with healthier food choices. And while certain foods trigger inflammation such as excess of refined sugar, red meat, and trans fat, there are foods that can combat inflammation. Foods that fight inflammation due to many factors include tomatoes, nuts, certain types of berries, leafy greens, Omega 3 rich fish, and olive oil.

10- Eat more “superfoods”. The term superfoods has been used for quite some time now and while it can be confusing to many, superfoods simply means certain types of foods that are categorized to bring you targeted health benefits. For instance, a superfood such as Goji berries can help increase circulation and provide overall immunity. Another superfood such as Kefir contains high levels of probiotics and supports good digestive health. The superfood Chia Seeds contain great amounts of plant-based Omega 3s, fiber, and calcium. Other superfoods that are on the rise (but not necessarily new to other countries) include Acai, Cacao (or cocoa powder), Seaweed, Mangosteens, Maca Powder, Hemp Seeds, Nutritional Yeast, and Black Garlic. Add more of these superfoods into your daily meals to get additional health benefits and to prevent many illnesses and diseases.

Remember that eating healthier isn’t scary or unachievable. Start by recognizing why you are always tired, ill, or gaining too much weight. Most likely it’s your eating habits and how you view food. Do you look at food as a means of getting full? Or is food crucial in maintaining your health and prolonging your life? Eating healthier doesn’t mean eating food that is bland or tasteless. Healthy and nutritious foods are balanced with proper minerals and vitamins along with adding in the right flavor to make them enjoyable. Research into recipes that include nutrient rich foods and superfoods. Look what’s inside your fridge and pantries right now. If you see mostly junk food laden with fat and artificial ingredients then throw them out or just don’t buy them. We know it’s impossible to resist a sweet treat now and then, but we don’t have to let unhealthy foods take over our lives. We are in control of our health. And when you break it down – without good health, life can be burdensome to most people.

Happy National Nutrition Month and start eating healthier!

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

Posted by: suzan | March 2, 2017

2017 Healthy Start – 10 Week Strategy

newyear

It’s hard to believe that we’re in the third month of 2017 already! Now is the right time to start evaluating all the New Year resolutions you promised yourself at the strike of midnight last year. Although I’m not really one to make new year resolutions because well, I tried that in the past and the pressure to fulfill them was just too unreasonable. So, for the past few years I realized that making easy to reach goals  throughout the year was much more realistic and attainable. It has worked for the most part and I don’t feel as pressured or disappointed if I’m unable to fulfill the bigger goals and aspirations.

This year let’s start off with some easier goals to make and achieve. I’m going to start the first week with a healthy topic that is suitable for both kids and adults. With each new year the desire to start fresh or new is just waiting to jump out of my body. While children may not truly understand this concept or desire since everything is practically fresh and new to them, for grown ups however having a fresh start is invigorating and exhilarating. I’m not referring to anything big or major, but just the thought that I can do something to make my life better is always a nice thought.

The new year is a great time to start getting rid of things. Things that may tie us down or hinder us from moving forward in our lives. It could be eating cleaner and healthier, or clearing out unnecessary items in our home, or negative thoughts that cloud our minds day in and day out. To do these cleansing rituals, let’s start off with a list and then deciding if they are attainable. Each person can have a different goal set but keep in mind that the new year brings in a healthier and happier outlook in life.

Commandments of a clean mind and body:

1 – Toss out any leftover Christmas/holiday items from last year: scraps of wrapping paper, Christmas lights that don’t work, holiday decorations that are old or torn, ribbon scraps, and bows that are misshaped or damaged. Toss out gift boxes or re-purpose them into something else. Gift boxes tend to clutter up the home if you have too many. If you’re particularly attached to any of them, keep the fancy ones and reuse them as container boxes. To further help the environment, find recycling centers in your area that can recycle these items. If not, ask your local elementary schools if they would like wrapping paper, bows, and ribbon for classroom projects. Or, have your kids make some fun projects that can be placed in picture frames or re-purposed into their growing home projects.

* Tip for tossing these items out: Seeing extra scraps of paper, torn ribbons, bows, and anything broken just leads to frustration of the mind and eyes. Sometimes we tend to hold onto objects that we think we might use again. Seriously consider what you would reuse them for and if you don’t plan on reusing them within the next three months, then toss them out.

2 – Toss out “junk food” in your fridge and pantry and replace them with healthier versions. Yes, there are healthier versions to the conventional types of junk food out there. While once in awhile we may indulge on the occasional junk food snack, keep in mind that if you don’t keep them in the house, you won’t feel the need to eat them.

* Tip for tossing these items out: Go to the natural grocery store and head straight to the natural and organic food aisle. There you will find many alternatives to the conventional unhealthy versions. Food products can be organic and made without any artificial ingredients. Trade unhealthy versions of yogurt with healthier organic versions. Trade greasy GMO chips with non-GMO, baked, or kettle style chips. Trade ice cream for gelato and dairy-free ice cream. Most importantly read labels and ingredients to get a better understanding of what you’re buying.

3- Toss out old, unworn, and damaged clothing. Sometimes we tend to buy clothes when they’re on sale or if we need them for an emergency occasion or function. But if you haven’t worn the articles of clothing for over six months and it’s already a new season, donate them or give them to someone you know. For damaged clothing, see if they can be fixed or re-purposed into rags or other types of clothing (jeans into shorts; long sleeves into short sleeves; long skirts into shorter skirts, etc.)

* Tip for tossing these items out: The general rule for keeping clothes is if you haven’t worn them in over a year, then toss them out. For clothes to have some value they would need to have been worn at least three times. Great places to donate are donation centers and consignment shops where you get a percentage back from the value of the sale.

4 – Yard cleanup is probably one of the most satisfying endeavors for a healthy home. Start by clearing out all the debris that’s in your yard such as fallen leaves, trees that need to be pruned or trimmed, dirt and soil from all the rain, and any broken flower pots and furniture. This will clear up space in your yard and help create a calmer and more serene scenery.

*Tip for cleaning up the yard: old debris in the yard left untouched can create germs, bugs, and even rodents! These are dangerous to have around the yard if your kids like playing in them and might accidentally touch or pick some up.

5 – “De-junk” your snacks. Yes, there is a way to “de-junk” all of the snacks that we see in grocery stores. While our brains may have been trained at a young age to buy the big name brands, we are also getting smarter and more adept at discerning between what is healthier for us and how certain ingredients trigger the “addiction” to unhealthy food. Unhealthy snacks are snacks that contain artificial ingredients, high fructose corn syrup, chemical preservatives, and many others. For a list of the top 7 scariest ingredients found in food, visit: http://digest.naturallysavvy.com/scary-seven/ for a complete list.

*Tip for cleaning up your snacks: Most children love to snack, whether it’s sweet grapes or greasy potato chips. But as parents we need to be extra diligent in the kind of snacks we buy and give to our children. Children’s bodies are best nourished with foods full of vitamins and minerals and not the sugary, artificially colored and flavored treats you find lurking in the grocery aisles. While some conventional snacks are unavoidable, it’s best to remember that children’s bodies absorb more of these harmful ingredients so try to keep it at a minimum.

6 – Toss out plastic containers. Those plastic containers that are either from restaurant leftovers or purchased from the store create more landfill than necessary. Most restaurants use plastic containers that can’t go into the recycle stream thereby ending up filling the landfills which takes thousands of years to fully decompose if at all. If you do end up with lots of plastic to-go containers, consider upcycling them into something you can use around the house or give away. And instead of buying more plastic containers from the store, consider reusing the restaurant containers a few times to really get some good uses out of them. Most store-bought containers are made from materials that can’t be recycled although more and more companies are changing to containers made from recycled materials. Also consider purchasing and supporting environmentally conscious companies that use recyclable materials in all of their products.

*Tip for tossing out plastic containers: Many plastic containers are made from materials that can’t be reheated in the microwave or can break or crack if used too often. If you do find plastic containers (from restaurants or store-bought) that are made from recycled materials, consider reusing them or upcycling them to give them a longer life. Certain chemicals in plastic have been known to cause certain illnesses so avoid them when possible.

7 – Toss out chemical cleaning products. Cleaning is important in our lives in order to maintain a healthy body and environment. But cleaning with toxic chemically-made products actually does more harm in the long run. Non-natural cleaning products  can leave behind toxins that we wouldn’t want to inhale, touch, or eat off of. Chemical cleaning products may seem like  they’re actually disinfecting and cleaning, but they leave behind more harmful residue than actually cleaning anything. Naturally made cleaning products, whether store bought or homemade can clean just as well as conventional cleaners if not even better. Certain ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils are naturally designed by nature to clean, disinfect, and get rid of germs. Using naturally derived ingredients to clean your house will prevent toxic residues and end up on surfaces and inhaled by your young ones.

*Tip for tossing out chemical cleaning products and using naturally derived cleaning products: consider that conventional cleaners were manufactured in a lab with unpronounceable ingredients and can actually cost more to purchase. DIY cleaning products using ingredients found in nature and probably in your house saves you money, time, and your health. For recipes on how to make your own natural cleaning products, check out my previous post here.

8 – Clean up your computer. At one of my old jobs I had to keep all the emails that I received for documentation and resourcing. But in order not to get inundated with insignificant emails I had to sort and categorize almost every type of email. Well, the same should be applied to your home computers. Whether you use your desktop/laptop for personal use, business, or both, keeping it clean and free of junk helps streamline your work and optimize your computer to work at its best. Make folders of certain categories so that when you get emails that are important or you need to go back to later, you can easily find them in their designated folders. And deleting junk emails is just like throwing away your junk snail mail. Read them quickly and get rid of them. And then don’t forget to delete all of the emails and documents in your trash folder too.

*Tip for cleaning up your computer: Consider how easy it would be in the future when you have to find something quick. Instead of searching through your thousands of emails, you can simply look through the designated folders and find what you need there. It will save you time and insanity and free up your computer’s memory.

9 – Toss out old periodicals, donate books, and revisit your craft supplies. A new year is the perfect time to decide if you should renew your magazine subscriptions or renew them as digital copies only. Digital magazines and books are easier to reuse and saves tons of paper and ink that end up in our landfills. Books that you no longer read or care about, such as outgrown children’s books can be donated to schools and libraries or start a book swap with your friends. Perhaps there are books that your children would love to swap with their friends and vice versa. It’s okay to keep favorite books or books that are autographed or rare, but when in doubt donate them or give them to friends and family.

*Tip for clearing out unwanted paper goods and craft supplies: Books are never ending journeys that can be revisited without costing any extra money. But when books are completely worn out, outdated, or outgrown, they inevitably clutter our home and take up space. Same goes to the craft supplies that we think to ourselves, “we might just need that extra scrap of ribbon for another project”. Unless you’re a professional crafter or you craft regularly, there’s really no need to hold onto that 1/4″ scrap of ribbon or construction paper. And instead of throwing them in the trash, see if your kids can make creative projects out of those scraps for you to frame or them to give away as gifts.

10 – Clear out the clutter in your mind and life. Most of us nowadays have either more than one job or are working parents or stay at home parents with several kids. No matter what, we all have some kind of clutter lingering in our minds and lives. Ask yourself is it necessary to hold on to damaging thoughts and feelings. Think about what those detrimental thoughts are doing to your health and to your life. Are they affecting your way of living or your loved ones? Do they cause you so much stress that you barely have time for doing anything relaxing? Find healthier solutions to resolving these harmful lingering thoughts in your head and move on. Even a little bit of stress can cause health problems later on in life.

*Tip for a peaceful mind: Meditation and being aware of what bothers you can help you find better solutions to live a healthier life. A healthy life equals healthy eating and healthy mindset. Determine what is holding you back and what is triggering you from making harmful choices and decisions. When you can let go of things that are preventing you from living your life to its fullest potential, you’ll be happier and possibly live longer.

So this year try something different that will make your life better. If you have children, teach them and lead them to make healthier choices in life so that they can grow up into happier and better individuals.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

Posted by: suzan | March 2, 2017

Chick-fil-A Upcycling Project

chickfila

As a Chick-fil-A mom panelist I was given the opportunity to try their Chicken Tortilla Soup for a fun upcycling project #chickfilamomsDIY. While my husband had tried the soup and thought it was spicy and filling, I took the container and turned it into something that I already normally do – upcycling cartons for the garden. The challenge was to turn the Chick-fil-A soup bowls into something that is usable and in turn, helping to reduce waste for our planet. I thought up and down, left and right, turned around in circles and finally decided to reuse it as a seed planter. It was hard to think of something different having seen my fellow Chick-fil-A moms create some truly wonderful projects, but gardening is a great love and enjoyment of mine so why not turn the soup bowls into something I can use in my garden?

Whenever I do end up with plastic containers, I always use them for seed starting for plants that I can transplant into my garden or for the garden club students at my son’s school. A plastic tray can be easily carried and sturdy enough so that the seeds can grow on their own and at a much faster pace than if they were in the ground. I can move the tray in various spots around the house to absorb some sunlight or underneath a lamp during the days when the sun is hiding.

My upcycling project this year for the Chick-fil-A moms panel was easy but serves so well in what I need it for. I always tell myself that if something can be upcycled and given a new  chance at life, then reuse them whenever possible.

If you’re interested in learning how to upcycle your plastic containers, think about what you can use them for that gives them a longer purpose. Planting seeds and starting seedlings is a great and healthy way to grow your own vegetables, herbs, and even certain fruits. Below is a photo of Arugula seeds that I planted a few days ago with my garden club students. It’s super easy to achieve – all you need are some organic seeds of plants or flowers you wish to grow, organic soil, water, sun, and a safe place to grow them. Plant the seedlings outside according to their instructions or growth limit so that they can grow to their full potential.

cfa-dyi

If you’re interested in learning more about Chick-fil-A and their endeavor to help protect the earth, visit their website: www.chick-fil-a.com for more info.

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

http://www.topmommyblogs.com/blogs/in.php?id=storm

 

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