Sunday, April 27, 2014

NO-Mess Sand! Yes It Really Does Exist!

 Yesterday my family and I decided to venture down to the Santa Monica Promenade since it was a nice (but windy) day in So Cal.  One that wasn't too hot or crowded since it's not yet the summer months. Anyway, we went into the Brookstone store and saw this incredible "Sand" that all of us fell in love with!  It's a 98% sand with 2% polymer blend that makes that sand sort of stick together. It never dries out (as long as it is used then put back in the jar), dust free, gluten free, easy to clean and the options for pretend play are endless!

It feels like moist stand and does not separate much or stick to your hands. It's sort of like a granular play dough and my daughter wouldn't put it down.  She played with it for at least 30 minutes and it never got on her clothes, the counter or her hands.  Brookstone kept it in a small wooden sand box that they also sell.  The sand itself is $20 for the 2.2lb jar or $14.99 for the 1lb jar.  The 1lb jar is also on sale for 2 for $25 but the large 2.2 lb jar is still a better deal.

I am a major neat freak and not a fan of sand at all. It creates a mess whether kids play with it inside or out but THIS stuff was incredible.  I am planning on buying a few of the larger jars for my daughter soon and will add some follow up pics and an additional review.  I would have bought it yesterday but we are the type of parents that don't buy her stuff all the time.  It has to be her birthday or Christmas or she has to earn it (i.e., by reading a new book, doing all of her chores for the week, getting all of the stars on her behavior chart, etc).  So, if you are looking for a new toy or pretend play stuff for your kids, this  "sand" is excellent.  Kids can use cookie cutters or sand toys from the dollar store and create shapes, castles and anything else they want with it.  An excellent alternative to a doll, car or video game!  This free flowing sand is also great for sensory therapy.  This product was designed for Fine Motor, Sensory, and Cognitive Development.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Easy Grilled Chicken Recipe

This is one of my favorite recipes and is hardly a recipe at all. Just a few ingredients and a barbecue (or you can broil it too!) and it's done!
--Chicken breasts
   (Trimmed & sliced down the center. I like
    mine thin. Quantity depends on how many
    you want to make)
--Light balsamic vinaigrette dressing
    (Any brand you prefer)
--Mrs Dash no salt seasoning
    (Any flavor you like)
--Two lemons
1.  Layer the chicken in a tupperware container. After each layer, pour some of the dressing in it, squeeze a little bit of the lemon juice and sprinkle with seasoning.  Flip over and do the same with the other side.  Do this until all of the chicken is well seasoned and is in the container. 
2. Place in the refrigerator and marinate it at least a few hours or over night.
3.  If you have a grill,  grill it up on the barbecue but if not, just put it on a cookie sheet and broil or bake in the oven at 400 degrees. I prefer the BBQ but it tastes good both ways.
4. And that's it! Comes out yummy and you don't need much at all ;-). I do the same thing with Tilapia, Swai and other fish as well. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Healthy Turkey Tacos! Low Cal & Can Be Low Carb Too

OK here it is! This is one of my favorite dinner recipes and I make it with one of my favorite foods. Super easy to make and my family loves it. I use the Jennie-O Lean Ground Turkey Meat but you can use any type you'd like. They have an extra lean and an Italian seasoned flavor that's yummy too. If I use the extra lean,  I just add the packet of taco seasoning flavor to the meat and it's the same thing.  Enjoy and comment below if you give it a try!

--1 package of Jennie-O Taco Seasoned Turkey
--La Tortilla Low Carb tortillas
--1 onion
--1 avocado
--3 medium tomatoes
--1 head of romaine lettuce
--1 can Rosarita Green Chile & Lime Refried beans
--4 oz of shredded cheese (any type you like)

1. Chop up your onion and brown it. Set it aside. I prefer it browned but, if you prefer raw onion, you can use them raw as well.

2. Chop up your tomatoes and lettuce and set aside.

3. Slice or dice your avocado and set aside.

4.  Empty the refried beans into a sauce pan and heat. Once it is heated, I add some of the shredded cheese 
to them. Once the cheese melts and the beans are warm, I place them to the side in a bowl.

5. Cook the turkey until it's golden brown,  add the onions & set it aside as well.  I personally love it with the grilled onions in it and so does my family but if you prefer it without onion, it can be made that way as well. It is still very good.

6. Heat the tortillas om the stove top and place in a tortilla warmer.

7.  To serve them, you can either assemble each taco yourself and serve them assembled or place the ingredients in the table in separate bowls to create a taco bar for your family members. Mine prefers that since each person like a a different amount of each ingredient in his/her taco.

8. To assemble, I open the tortilla and spread some beans inside. Then I add a spoonful of turkey. Afterwards I add lettuce, tomato, avocado and cheese on top. We use any type of cheese we have on hand....sometimes even shredding string cheese if that's all that's in the fridge!  If like salsa, add any variety you like on top as well.

9. Eat & enjoy!

*** If you are cutting carbs and prefer not to eat tortillas, you can also use romaine lettuce leaves and make turkey taco wraps.  Just as good!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Healthy, Protein Packed Snack Ideas

For the most part, my diet is made up of lots of healthy protein and vegetables with some healthy carbs and dairy mixed in.  Protein can be difficult to eat as a snack since most protein consists of meat, poultry and fish. It takes lot of preparation and planning.

One of my favorite on the go snacks with lots of protein in it plus healthy omega fats are these salmon burgers! They are so easy to make and I can take them with me anywhere wrapped in a little aluminum foil. I just pop them in the toaster oven for a out 20 minutes and they're ready. I usually make a few at a time and keep them in the fridge ready to go.

If you live near a Costco or Sam's Club, they sell them there or you can probably get them at your local grocery store. 

So, next time you reach for a slice of bread,  a sugary granola bar or an unhealthy treat think about trying to add in some protein instead. 

Need some more low carb snack ideas packed with protein,  healthy fats and fiber? Try some of these:
--celery with peanut butter
--deviled eggs
--jerky (beef or turkey)
--string cheese
--sunflower seeds
--handful of almonds
--cottage cheese
--Greek yogurt
--nitrate free cold cuts rolled with a slice of cheese
--protein shake
--egg muffins*
--protein pancakes*

*Recipe is on the blog. Click the "Recipes" category link along the right side to find them.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Making Lettuce & Spinach Last for Weeks in the Fridge!

Here's another way to make lettuce and spinach last a lot longer in your fridge.  This will allow you to buy it in bulk at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam's Club and save money!  First, open the bag and cut the tips off the heads of romaine.  If it's iceberg, no need to cut anything.

Then wrap each head of lettuce in paper towels so the entire head is covered and nothing is exposed.

 Then place it back in the bag you got it in (if it comes in bags of 2 to 3) or, if you buy in bulk such as bags of 6 at Costco, place them in Zip Lock bags.  You can usually git 2 to 3 heads of lettuce in each.

Then place in your crisper drawer and they should last at least 2-3 weeks! That's MUCH longer than if stored as they come.

This also works for large bags of spinach. We buy the large bags of spinach for smoothies but it can go bad in just a few days.  In order to help it last longer, I spread out paper towels on the counter.  Usually two rows of 3 full size paper towels in each row.  Then I pour out the spinach inside and wrap it up in a ball covering it all with the paper towels.  I then place it back in the bag I got it in or separate it into a few Zip Lock bags.  This helps it last weeks as well!

So, shop in bulk and don't worry about these items going to waste! I've been using these tricks for years and they work every time!  Check out the link on bananas lasting longer & a few other tips as well! Click here to see that blog entry!