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It’s Celebration Season!

‘Tis the season for celebrations! We have several to highlight today, some well-known, some obscure, but learn some fun facts as well as good tips to store in your back pocket for later!

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, began this week and lasts for 8 days. Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah or not, check out these healthy Hanukkah recipes! Our personal favorite is “Winter Squash and Chicken Tzimmes” (pronounce sim-is) combines butternut squash, chicken thighs, and oranges. Yum!

Healthy Hanukkah Recipes!

Ready to get weird with it?? This week we celebrated several lesser-known holidays as well!

National Lager Day

Have you cooked with beer? Did you know when you cook with beer it loses some of it’s alcohol content? The long it’s cooked, the less content it has. Stir it in an Irish Coffee and you lose 15% of the content. Make a beef stew where it is simmered or baked for 2.5 hours you lose 95% of the alcohol. Get creative with your cooking to keep it exciting!

Check out this fairly simple recipe for Beer Can Chicken!

Gingerbread House Day

An Armenian monk first brought gingerbread to Europe around 992 AD and it was often used to mold into images of the saints! It wasn’t until the story of Hansel and Gretel that the idea of gingerbread houses became more commonplace. Although not built into a house, we’ve got a great recipe to share for a Festive Gingerbread loaf.

You can replace ¼ tsp of ground ginger with FRESH ginger in recipes. Remember you can FREEZE whole ginger root too! Need some grated? Just pull out of the freezer and it’s super easy to grate. Toss back in the freezer when you’re done.

National Cocoa Day

Cocoa is harvested twice a year, as cocoa beans, then fermented and dried. The beans are then roasted and hulled to create cocoa nibs which can further be ground into cocoa liquor and then separated into cocoa butter and cocoa cake. Cocoa cake is the end product we see as baking cocoa or in other dry mixes. Know where your food comes from!

Metabolic Effect suggests to feel satiated and reduce cravings try adding 1-2 heaping TB raw organic cocoa powder to 8-12 oz of freshly boiled water, stir and enjoy! Add variety with a dash of cinnamon or cayenne pepper!

National Cupcake Day

Cupcakes don’t have to be disastrous! Choose to enjoy a cupcake at that party with no regrets, and plan for it with other balanced days in your week or look for a recipe with healthier alternatives. Here’s one that is sweetened with dates, banana, and the juice of an orange!

Did you know you can cook down dates with water to make a sugar alternative? Make a double batch of these moist, pudding like cupcakes, for a full cupcake pan of 12.

and our personal favorite…

National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day!

Although not fully chocolate covered, try this frozen yogurt bark!! This recipe is very forgiving. Try varying ratios to make smaller batches. The test recipe was 3 cups of plain greek yogurt (go for some kind of fat content for creaminess), ¼ c honey or syrup, and 1-2 tsp vanilla extract mixed. Spread on a parchment lined cookie sheet and top with 1.5 c sliced/chopped berries and ¼ cup chocolate chips! Freeze for 2-3 hours and then break into pieces. Get creative with shredded coconut, nuts, and more for variety

Let’s Talk Turkey! (Recipes Inside!)

Ground turkey is a very popular lean protein option that is super easy to prep and cook, so this week we are going over all sorts of ways you can use this ingredient to help craft healthy meals that are *most importantly* SIMPLE!

FREEZE!

Did you know you can cook up ground turkey (or ground beef, etc) ahead of time, drain, and freeze? When you need ground meat for tacos, chili, pasta type dishes, etc you can pull out your frozen ground meat and toss into your meal to speed up that mid-week dinner. If you know a dish you regularly make, it can even be cooked up with seasonings and/or onion before freezing. Make sure to label and date it to stay organized. Be realistic: cooking fresh meals every day? Aint nobody got time for that…

One-Pot or Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili

In a large saucepan, cook
• 1 lb turkey
• 1 C. chopped onions
• 1 C. chopped green peppers
• 2 tsp minced garlic.
(This mixture could be pre-cooked and frozen for quicker chili next time!)

Stir in the following, bring to a boil and simmer before serving:
• 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes
• 1 can kidney beans rinsed/drained
• 1-12 oz can of V-8 or tomato juice
• 6oz can tomato paste
• 4 oz can green chiles
• Seasonings: 1 tbsp. dried parsley, 1 tbsp. ground cumin, 3 tsp chili powder, 2 tsp dried oregano, and pepper to taste
(Make this recipe even quicker by measuring and combining your seasonings ahead of time!)

Turkey and Eggplant Pasta

Have you tried a chickpea or lentil pasta yet? They have become regulars on store shelves, and they’re a great alternative to traditional pasta because they have around 25g of protein and 13-16g of fiber per serving! A couple popular brands are Banza and Tolerant.

Ingredients:
• 4 1/2 cups cubed peeled eggplant (about 1 pound)
• 1 pound Italian Turkey (or Chicken) Sausage
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
• 6 cups CHICKPEA or LENTIL penne pasta (about 10 ounces uncooked)
• 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cook eggplant, sausage, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until sausage is browned and eggplant is tender. Add tomato paste, oregano and tomatoes; cook over medium heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place cooked pasta in a large bowl. Serve over 1 serving of pasta, top with cheese, and parsley; toss well.

Turkey Taco Salad

Many pre-packaged taco seasonings contain unnecessary ingredients like added sugars, starch, or worse! Fortunately, it’s super easy to make your own. Check out this previous blog post for a homemade “packet” replacement and full recipe for Taco Salad. Make a large batch of seasoning to store in a container and grab a scoop the next time!

Turkey Breakfast Wrap

Use some of your leftover ground turkey taco meat for breakfast the next day! Scramble eggs with green peppers, tomatoes and/or salsa, and ¼-1/2 cup of leftover taco meat. Top with a sprinkle of cheese and eat, or take on the go by wrapping in a sprouted grain wrap!

BRRR! Winter has arrived! Warm up with
Healthy Turkey Meatloaf

In a large mixing bowl combine:

• 1.5 lb ground turkey
• 1 chopped onion
• 4 egg whites
• 1 C salsa
• ¾ C rolled oats
• 1 pkg veg soup mix
• ¼ tsp black pepper

Press into a 9” X 5” bread pan. Spread ¼ C ketchup on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until center is no longer pink.
Serves: 6

A Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail! (Holiday Version)

A Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail

This is one of our favorite aphorisms here at Ellipse Fitness that we find ourselves continuously coming back to! This time of year there is plenty of planning to go around: planning festivities or parties, planning travel, planning shopping.

It is very important that you put at least a minimal amount of work to help you plan for your health and wellness this holiday season as well! Otherwise you might find yourself jumping in with the sea of New Year’s Resolution gym-goers storming gym doors everywhere come 2018!

Plan Your Indulgences!

Plan to eat healthy whenever you can during this busy season! Not only will you find yourself less likely to eat mindless calories, you can plan for indulgences and not deal with the guilt of over-eating! Keep in mind that celebrations are really about family and friends, joy and love, peace and goodwill to man! Food is secondary.

Plan Your Workouts!

Book your sessions out NOW and hold to this appointment with yourself. It will be all too easy to unbook and say tomorrow is another day. Treat it like you would that salon appointment you had to book out 3 months ago, a meeting with your boss to discuss a raise you are due, or night out with the oldest and best friends! Your workout will not only keep you headed toward your fitness goals but also help relieve some of the stress that can go along with the holidays.

Plan For The Holiday Feast!

It’s an old piece of conventional wisdom to only allow yourself one trip to the buffet spread, but also consider trying to ensure that no food touches any other food on your plate! Controlling the portion sizes of those holiday indulgences will make getting back on track that much easier!

Plan The Holiday Spirits!

Enjoy a glass of ice water several times throughout the day! Ice water upon waking tells your metabolism “it’s time to wake up”! Ice water before you leave for the party will help you have a feeling of fullness. Ice water between the spirits will cut down on the high calories of alcoholic beverages! (Not to mention dehydration is the leading cause of hangover after a night of drinks, drink up! H20 that is)

Plan For A Long Day

It’s easy to get caught up in running from one event to another; holiday shopping, decorating, and still trying to keep up with “business as usual”. PLAN for the cases you may not get to that lunch or dinner you had prepped. Keep a stash of longer shelf life, but healthy, snacks. With the cold weather here, it’s easy to store nuts, seeds, dried fruit, Rx Bars, jerky, and more in your car, purse, or coat pocket. Plan for success!

Plan To Be Kind!

To YOURSELF! Don’t beat yourself up or give up, based on one incident! Get back on track; life isn’t a perfect circle! You’re going to go off track or mismanage a perfectly planned evening. Get over it! Wake up, drink your ice water, get to the gym and MOVE ON!

What do you want most out of this holiday season?? Fun, family, friends and happiness? Or an aching belly, bloating, and the weight of guilt from too much indulgence?

Check out last week’s blog post for some tips, tricks and recipes to help with your planning!

Give thanks and be merry!

No One is Too Busy for These Recipes!

SUPER SIMPLE RECIPES FOR ANYONE!

We’ve all been there…maybe some of us are there literally every night. You leave work – starving – only to come to the terrible realization that there is nothing, absolutely nothing waiting for you at home. Except maybe an equally starving family. Frozen pizza, boxed dinners loaded with preservatives and unsavory ingredients, take out – all these choices not only thrash your health and fitness goals, but your wallet! These super simple, few-ingredient recipes will save you time and money while satisfying your tastebuds – you might want to bookmark this one.

Black Bean Soup

• 2 cans black beans (rinsed)
• 1 cup chicken broth
• 1 can diced tomatoes

Combine all ingredients in a pot, bring to a boil, simmer for 10 minutes. Blend in a blender and serve. Maybe add some protein by tossing in some shredded chicken!

Freezer Fajitas

Literally just combine chicken breasts, peppers, onion, garlic, lime, honey and some seasonings into a bag. Freeze until you need it! When ready to cook, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and cook in a pan on the stovetop for 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

See the recipe here!

Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Scrape the gills out of 2 portabella mushroom caps. Fill the cap with salsa. Lightly sprinkle pine nuts and parmesan cheese over the top. Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes or until mushrooms are warmed through and pine nuts are toasted.

Foil Packet Dinner

This one is so easy to customize and make your own, but here’s a good start:
On a sheet of foil, top some asparagus with cod or salmon, sprinkle with your favorite seasonings, top with mushrooms, diced onions, and a squeeze of lemon. Wrap up the foil packet and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

This is all the rage right now! And it’s even easier now that stores sell “Riced Cauliflower” (even at Costco!) and all kinds of prepped-for-you fresh vegetables. Grab some riced cauliflower, cut up broccoli florets, grated carrots, and frozen peas and corn! Voila. Dinner in minutes.

See the recipe here!

Rancher’s Omelet

Sauté some onions and diced red peppers until lightly browned. Add 3 oz cooked/chopped turkey sausage, a little diced tomato, and garlic. Sauté 1 minute. Use this is the filling for a regular omelet (from eggs or egg beaters) with a slice of Havarti cheese. Top omelet with salsa. YUM!

Healthy Halloween!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Spooks, skeletons, haunts and yes…pounds and pounds of candy and other goal-destroying treats! In 2016 alone, Americans purchased 90 MILLION POUNDS of chocolate on Halloween day! That doesn’t count all the purchases weeks in advance that get grazed on before trick-or-treaters ever arrive. Let’s try something a little different with these healthy treats below!

Oh?

Ahh!

But Why?

Candy corn lover?
Try this instead: In a clear glass or bowl layer pineapple chunks, oranges or mandarins, and your favorite Greek yogurt. YUM!

Did you know that your eyesight plays a HUGE role into your eating habits and overall experience? Research has shown that better looking food is enjoyed more, is more satisfying, and has even been shown to be perceived to taste better!

Stuffed Jack-O-Lanterns:
Saute garlic and onion; add ground turkey and chopped veggies (your favorite like mushrooms, onion, zucchini), then stir in tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes and other herbs like garlic powder, oregano and basil.
Stuff peppers and bake at 425 for 35 minutes

Bell peppers are exceptionally rich in Vitamin C and other antioxidants! Something more commonly associated with summertime foods, but even more important during cold season!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:
Don’t throw them away! Clean and dry them on paper towel. Coat with olive oil and your favorite seasonings (maybe paprika and cayenne pepper?)
Bake in the oven at 350 for 10-20 minutes depending on how crunchy you like them.

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of potassium, and phosphorus. They also contain zinc, fiber, selenium, and manganese – essential for growth, reproduction, wound healing, brain function, and proper metabolism!

Sweet Potato Bread:
Love the cozy feeling of eating fresh bread, but want a healthier version? Try making this gluten-free, vegan sweet potato bread made with basic ingredients!
Click here for the full recipe – only 10 minutes prep!

No gluten means no high-GI wheat flour in this treat! No animal or dairy products also sures up the healthy fortitude of this fluffy bread! Not to mention sweet potatoes are a nutrient power-house with delicious flavor to boot.

Monster Snacks!
These are super fun for the kiddos! Slice apples of your choice. Spread natural peanut butter on one side of each slice and make a “sandwich” with the two apple slices. Putting macadamia nuts in-between makes them look like little monster teeth! (or raisins for rotten teeth!)

Apples are great sources of fiber (an excellent trait for snacks to have) and the fat in peanut butter will help you stay full longer! Add your favorite nuts or seeds for the teeth, maybe even add a strawberry slice for a tongue! All healthy options that you can serve your kids and their friends with pride.

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal:
Mix rolled oats, ground flax, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, milk, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and a little lemon juice in a glass jar overnight. Heat jar for 1.5 minutes in the microwave and top with blueberries, pumpkin seeds, or coconut chips for extra texture! Maybe even add some Ellipse Vanilla Bio-Whey protein powder!  Get the full recipe HERE.

This dish is fiber FILLED! Great for digestion and helping you to feel full! Treat that seasonal sweet tooth with a balanced, healthy breakfast. They are also a good source of iron for those with limited red meat or dark leafy greens in their diet, as well as Vitamin A and B-6.

Attitude, Grattitude and What It Means For Your Happiness

At Ellipse Fitness Training Center we focus on giving you the tools to not only build a healthy body, but a healthy mind as well because we know that the two are unbelievably interconnected! So let’s talk about your attitude…

Not like that! We mean your approach to life, the way you respond to situations, and the way you are affected by things you have absolutely no control over.

Let’s face it though – just reading this post will not make you happy. There is no magic happy pill (at least none that doesn’t come with a laundry list of horrifying side-effects). BUT these suggestions will help you to live a life filled with more gratitude, awareness, and joy – and those are foundational building blocks of happiness and fulfilment!

RESPOND

You have probably heard the old saying that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond. Two different people can go through the exact same experience and respond completely differently! Although the future is unpredictable we can work on responding to uncertainty in a healthy way. Pay attention today to how you respond to different situations, and reflect on what is at the root of your anger, disappointment, or fear. Reactions often emanate from the fear of something being taken away. Which leads to our next point…

YOU'RE NOT ALONE!

Always remember this! When going through challenging times or unfamiliar situations it is easy to feel alone and outnumbered. Working in the fitness industry, we often hear others tell us how they are afraid to workout because they are self-conscious, do not believe they can perform certain moves, or think they are not “fit enough”. Remember that everyone started somewhere. No one was born with six-pack abs, coming out of the womb doing perfect push-ups… We are all in this together!

SMILE!

Yes, you! It sounds cliche, but smiling legitimately helps improve our moods and attitudes throughout the day! Going grocery shopping? Try making eye contact and giving a warm smile as you pass a stranger. What have you got to lose? Really? You might even make a new friend! Did you know smiling naturally releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin into your body? All good chemicals that make you relax and feel happy!

CONTROL

LET GO! You have none – or at least very little – over most of the situations presented to you on a day-to-day basis. We stress ourselves out by worrying how things will turn out, or trying to change the people around us. Then the moment something does not go our way? We lose it. Whether you prefer to subscribe to the belief that everything happens for a reason or not, recognizing that you have much more control over your reactions than anything else is not only liberating but will greatly impact your mental health.

CONNECT

500 friends on Facebook, but you’ve never felt more isolated… With social media on the rise, feelings of loneliness and isolation are also increasing. In 2004, a study showed that over 25% of Americans said that they had no one to share a personal problem with. 13 years ago! Although real friendships are not born overnight, when nurtured they can grow into something you wonder how you ever lived without! Here at Ellipse Fitness we love that our membership is a close community! Those who feel connected to others on a personal level are much more likely to have higher self-esteem, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of anxiety.

Now, this next one may be the most important…

PRACTICE GRATITUDE DAILY

Let’s break that down

• Practice
– performing an activity repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. You’ve got to put it to work! And do so in REAL TIME! Not quietly at home in the evening. Is it cold out? Get in your car before leaving your home for work and take a moment to say to yourself, “It is incredibly fortunate that I do not have to walk to work today.”

• Gratitude – readiness to show appreciation. Not just the act of showing appreciation, but the state of being prepared to show appreciation. Expect nothing, and just observe as fortunate situations present themselves to you. Then actively show your appreciation. Smile and say thanks to a co-worker who held the door for you. Did your spouse over-cook your favorite dish at dinner? Someone just made you a meal, a hot one at that. Few things are as deserving of gratitude.

• Daily – hopefully you don’t need a definition here, but this is the operative word. Daily put into practice the action of appreciation, and try to always remain prepared to show appreciation at any moment. This one small shift in perspective can and has changed the lives of many!

Health Education Week: Heart Health

In honor of Health Education Week we are bringing you some discussion on tips, reminders and education on heart health and diet! Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among all adult populations in this country, and although there is a genetic element to it, it’s been demonstrated that lifestyle is far more significant!

Below we will talk about some of the most common dietary choices out there that lead to cardiovascular disease:

Trans Fats

The vast majority of us have heard one way or another that Trans Fats are bad. Consuming them tends to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol AND lower HDL (good) cholesterol – a double whammy! Honestly though, you may have to scour the grocery store to find any products that list it on the label. So why are we still talking about it?

Deep Fried Foods are one common source of trans fats for many people out there. We get it: it is tough to beat french fries! And over here in Wisconsin you may be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t occasionally drooled over some deep fried cheese curds.

IMPORTANT: Pay attention to the temperature suggestion on your cooking oil! Over-heating oil (generally it will start smoking when this occurs) actually turns it into Trans Fat! Many are unaware of this, and it is a large part of the reason that deep fried foods is particularly culpable.

Margarine is another common Trans Fat consumed by many people out there. It was once thought that because margarine is plant-derived and lower in saturated fat than butter that it was a preferable substitute, but research shows that the partially-hydrogenated oils that make up margarine are significantly more detrimental to your health!

Baked Goods such as donuts, cakes, cookies, pies, etc. tend to contain high volumes of Saturated and Trans Fat.

What Can I Do About It?

Craving Deep Fried Food?

Try making your own by cutting up potatoes or sweet potatoes, adding olive oil and bake away! Haven’t tried Delicata Squash yet? Here’s another chance to try! Slice in 1/3” moon shaped pieces, toss with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast for a French fry feel!

Too Deeply Biased Against Butter?

Moderation and a natural choice would be my go-to suggestion, BUT I know that many people have taken butter out of their diet for so long that there is no going back. Or perhaps you are intolerant of dairy or have chosen to go 100% plant based? Find a spread that does NOT contain partially-hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils, and little saturated fat.

Snack Time?

Choose a healthier option by making your own healthy “treats” at home or eating fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth! Try a simple granola bar recipe and make it your own. Click here for an EASY and KID-TESTED Grab-and-Go Granola Bar recipe.

Processed Meat

Bacon, sausage, pepperoni, salami, cold cuts and cured meats. These processed meats tend to include a lot of added salt and preservatives. In addition, the n-nitroso, formed from sodium nitrite, in processed meat are linked to various forms of cancer. (Why do they add this to processed meat? To preserve the red/pink color of the meat, to improve flavor by inhibiting fat oxidation, and prevent the growth of bacteria). Try limiting processed meats to once a week or less as well as choosing fish, poultry, or lean red meat as an alternative.

The daily recommendation for sodium intake is 2,300mg max. The average U.S. adult consumes over 4,000mg PER DAY! Added salt can be found in packaged foods including chips, crackers, breads, canned products, condiments, and almost anything you see that is packaged in the stores. Try to avoid too many processed foods (whole foods have 0 added salt for the record!) and/or try to use other flavor enhancing techniques such as using natural spices, lemon juice, herbs, and more!

If processed meats are a staple in your home? Seek out nitrate/nitrite free lunch meats, bacon, sausage etc and keep an eye the sodium levels!

Added Sugar

When you “drink your calories” with sugar sweetened drinks your brain is not able to process the sugar intake as quickly, limiting the brain’s ability to say “You’re full – please stop!”

A high-sugar diet may also stimulate the liver to dump more harmful fats into the bloodstream. This leads to over-consumption, increased risk of inflammation, elevated blood glucose levels, and increased risk of heart disease.

Choose water whenever possible or at least an unsweetened beverage. You can also add fruit, cucumber, or herbs like mint to your water to change up the flavor if you struggle with plain ol’ life-giving, magical H20

Quit Wasting Fruits and Veggies With These 7 Tricks!

It’s such a terrible feeling! You have a plan for your food. You open the fridge and WOAH! You throw it away and eat chips or some other less-healthy choice instead. But who has time to go shopping every 2 or 3 days to ensure they’re produce is always fresh??

Well here are some tricks that will keep your produce delicious (and edible!) much longer! You’re going to want to write these down…

Bananas

We all love banana’s, but they can go bad quickly. Hopefully you already know that when they go bad we can peel them and throw them in the freezer for smoothies or banana bread, but if you want to enjoy your bananas fresh wrap the stem in plastic wrap. This keeps the amount of gas they expel that causes them to ripen at a minimum which means you can enjoy a delicious banana another few days!

Celery

You tried to get ahead of the game and prep, but now your celery is limp and soft! Well no worries – stick them in a bowl of water, and they come right back to life! You can avoid this tragedy by wrapping it in tin foil before storing it in your refrigerator. This will keep your celery nice and crunchy up to a month long!

Carrots

Carrots too often will become soft and lose their crunch, but fear not! Rehydrate them in water for a little bit – overnight if necessary – and they spring back to life! Carrots and celery both can be chopped ahead of time and placed in a bowl or tupperware in water to store for 2 or 3 weeks without losing their crunch!

Mushrooms

Eating healthy is difficult enough, but it can seriously break the bank if the food you are buying is going bad before you can eat it. Mushrooms keep fresh the longest when stored in a paper bag instead of a plastic or styrofoam container!

Lettuce

Keep your veggie drawer lined with paper towel. This soaks up any extra moisture that makes many greens go limp and steals their crunch away. Also, when storing lettuce or herbs in a bag or container put a piece of paper towel in to soak up any extra moisture and they will last MUCH longer! If your lettuce has already started to look pretty sad, rip off the brown parts and give it an ice bath! As little as 30 minutes can be enough to bring it right back to life.

Berries

Nature’s candy is notorious for growing fuzz in your refrigerator – especially if you bought it on sale! Prevent growth of mold by giving your berries a vinegar bath after purchasing them! Use 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. After you giving them a bath in this mixture you can rinse with water to get rid of any remaining vinegar taste.

Avocado

Most people know that adding salt and fresh lime juice will extend the life of guacamole, but here’s one you might not have known about: When making guacamole keep the seeds from the avocado to put in the guacamole. This helps to keep it fresh several more hours or longer! Don’t plan to eat it today? Cover your leftover guacamole or avocado with plastic wrap and you’ll be able to feast again tomorrow.

Now you know! And knowing is half the battle. Now you’ve got to go shopping and put these tricks into action before you forget! You may literally save hundreds of dollars a year – or more!

Cut Down on Harsh Chemical Use and Waste with Castile Soap

Castile soap is an olive oil based hard soap made with pure, all natural/organic, chemical-free plant based ingredients that is also biodegradable AND doesn’t expire. The most common brand you’ll find is Dr. Bronner’s castile soap made both as original and with numerous scents from various essential oils. Castile soap can make at home kitchen, bath, and body products! Use it as a dish soap with just a few drops! You can find it at most big-box stores or natural foods stores, and all of our recipes below use it in dilution which means not only are they good ways to cut down the use of chemicals in your home and waste products in the garbage can, but it will save you MONEY!

Why should I make my own cleaning products?

The EPA indicates artificial fragrances in cleaning products as an indoor irritant and pollutant. Why? A single fragrance (simply labeled “fragrance” on the ingredient list) can include as many as 600 petrochemicals! (Petrochemical = chemicals derived from petroleum. Probably not what you want to inhale, put on your skin, etc.)

DIY Pine Sol Substitute

Throw the following in a spray bottle:

– 32 oz warm water
– 1.5 tsp castile soap
– 6 drops fir needle essential oil
– 4 drops rosemary essential oil

Simple Shampoo

– 1/4 cup coconut milk
– 1/4 cup castile soap
– 20 drops essential oil of choice (optional)
*If you have really dry hair consider adding a few drops of olive oil or almond oil*

Seal in a jar, or use an old pump soap bottle. If it is a foaming dispenser add 1/4 cup distilled water.

https://wellnessmama.com/3701/homemade-shampoo/

Natural Wet Wipes

– 1 cup warm water
– 1/8 cup castile soap
– 5-10 drops of an essential oil (optional)

Combine in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid (another canning jar opportunity!). Cut squares from a plain cotton T-Shirt and submerge in the jar with the liquid and flip the jar upside down until all is soaked. After use, wash the cloth out in the sink and return to the jar to reuse.

DIY Laundry Detergent

– 1 cup castile soap
– 3/4 cup baking soda
– 1/4 cup fine sea salt

Dissolve baking soda and sea salt in 2 cups warm water, then add all ingredients to a one-gallon container and fill with water. Use 1/4 cup per load of laundry. This makes enough for 60 loads of laundry! Talk about saving money!

Mop Water

So easy! Just add 2-3 TBSP of castile soap to your bucket of water and clean your floors naturally!

Body Wash/Hand Soap

Even easier! For body wash just slightly dilute your castile soap with a little water (2:1 ratio soap:water).

Love your foamy hand soap? Refill a foam dispenser with a 1:4 ratio of soap:water and you won’t even notice the difference!

Still using traditional products? Learn more about them at www.epa.gov/saferchoice

Want to know even more ways to use castile soap? Find more recipes here!

Clean Eating with Convenience

Healthy Eating – much like anything else – is much more attainable when you give yourself the right tools to make things simpler for yourself! Let’s overview some kitchen gadgets that you might consider adding to your arsenal for convenience!

Instapot is the latest gadget craze. Instapot is a multi-cooker that takes the place of a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, browning pan, and warming pot all in one! Rumor has it, once you make hard-boiled eggs in the Instapot, you’ll never go back. Oatmeal is cinch too!

Did you know you can make your own yogurt with just milk and starter yogurt in an Instapot? Follow this link to find out how!

The “Emulstir Emulsifier” makes at-home salad dressings super quick. Simply fill your ingredients, which are listed on the bottle, give the handle a few squeezes and your dressing is ready! No tracking down recipes and it is readily stored in the cabinet. Try Dijon, Raspberry Vinaigrette, or traditional Balsamic vinaigrette.

You can even make your own at-home dressing container by taking a canning, or repurposed glass food jar, mark the outside as you add measured ingredients to make a quick go-to option the next time you want a quick healthy dressing!

If you haven’t yet invested in an Instapot, a slow cooker can still do the job of helping you have a healthy meal ready when you come home from a long day at work at a tiny fraction of the cost!

Start super simple: Toss in a 3 pound bag of frozen chicken breast + ½ cup of water (or get fancier with chicken broth, salt and pepper), cooking on low for 6-8 hours for nicely shredded chicken. Or try something with a little more pizzaz like combining chicken, black beans, tomatoes, corn, and salsa for a southwest style dish! Literally, just throw it all in for 6 – 8 hours and then shred the chicken – serve over rice if you like.

Electric Tea Kettles can add a few minutes to your day by providing boiling water in 2 minutes! Make quick tea, as the name indicates, or shorten your time boiling water to dump in a pot and cook noodles, potatoes, etc. Boiling water also cleans your microfiber cloths!

Make sure your electric tea kettle has a feature that shuts off the appliance when the water starts boiling for extra convenience!

Chopping, cutting, shredding etc is maybe the largest barrier to home cooking for many people. Food Processors can speed up your weekly food prep by turning minutes into seconds. With standard vegetables, the processor can often be cleaned up with just running water. Shred carrots for quick salad toppings, quicker stir fry’s, add to wraps, or more! Try “processing” all your vegetables for the week at once.

You’ll need to use a rubber scraper to get it out, but make your own simple hummus:
– 2 cans of drained chickpeas
– 2 cloves of garlic
– juice of ½-1 lemon
– 3 TBSP olive oil
– 1 tsp of salt
– 1 tsp cumin
– ¼ c water
– ¼-1/2 tsp of paprika

Everyone should have a supply of canning jars, even if you aren’t planning on canning. Canning jars are an eco-friendly option to store extra food portions in the freezer (like chili, nuts, soups, etc) or foods like refrigerator oatmeal, on-the-go salads, or even a protein shake. Below are some simple ways you can start adding convenience to your life with the use of canning jars! Many products you already purchase probably come in glass jars with reusable lids – pick a handful or more of the most conveniently shaped and keep them instead of recycling them. (jar sterilization is a cinch if that is a concern)

Deliciously simple refrigerator oatmeal

The salad possibilities are endless

Even more ways you may never have thought of