Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Local Opportunities

You may remember that last year my family went extreme on the Shop Local thing. For three months we shopped from only locally owned stores. The experience may have convinced my children that their mother truly is crazy, but they were relieved to discover that shopping locally didn’t put a huge dent in their lives. They could still purchase their beloved Cheezits from the family owned grocery store and many times the locally owned gifts, food, and entertainment was much better than expected. My husband and I learned that not only is it possible to buy pretty much everything we need locally, we were also delighted to discover that we saved money in the process. Cutting out visits to Target, Walmart, and the Home Depot eliminated impulse buys and streamlined our spending. But the best part was that we were able to support our neighbors, friends, and local economy with our shopping. If you missed last winter's blog posts, take a few minutes and read about my adventures during those three months.

We continue to shop mostly locally. I will confess to the use of Amazon and Drugstore.com more often than necessary, but at least I feel guilty when I shop those sites. We still buy our paper products and get them delivered free from Greenline Paper Company in York. I still travel to the Central Market in York for much of our groceries, and purchase the rest at local family owned Saubels and Sonnewalds. Most of my Christmas shopping was done in the Central Market District of York. We love our excursions to The York Emporium for books (and a plethora of other “finds”). My husband still buys his beer from the brewery half a mile away. And Goodwill is our go-to store for nearly everything.

I’m hopeful that our experience inspired others to look for locally owned businesses first before being suckered in to buying at the bigbox stores. I know it seems contradictory, but you do save money paying a little more at a local store because you buy things you truly want and less of what you don’t need.

This lengthy intro is leading somewhere – promise. I’ve got two upcoming local events to share with my local peeps.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Yummy Winter Treat for Anyone Suffering from IHEOTBW (I've-had-enough-of-this-bleep-winter)

I am so very, very, very tired of this winter. Here in south central Pennsylvania the temperature hasn't ventured above the freezing mark more than once or twice since Christmas. We are swamped with nearly three feet of accumulated snow that will not go away. I’m sick of cold fingers, frozen buckets, and wearing so many layers I feel like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Horses are no fun to take care of when there is this much snow on the ground. I am weary of hauling water, heaving hay, and shoveling frozen poop. My kids had only five hours of school in five days last week. My husband came in this morning from clearing the driveway once again and said, “I’m moving to Florida. You can come with me or not, but I’m leaving.” He sounded serious. Enough is enough. Uncle.

In honor of this wretched winter, today I’m sharing my new favorite hot breakfast treat. I learned this recipe from The Happiness Diet and modified it only slightly. It is loaded with ingredients that are good for your body and soul. Steel cut oats (other oats too) are high in tryptophan and selenium which affect your mood for the better. Almonds contain alpha-tocotrienol, a form of vitamin E. And coconut is the king of super foods. Beyond all that, this yummy concoction is filling and delicious and simple to make. What’s not to love?

Almond Joy Oats

1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon coconut oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons chocolate chips
½ cup shaved coconut
½ cup almonds, chopped

Mix the oats and milk and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, warm the oats in a pan on low heat, adding the coconut oil, sea salt, and chocolate chips and stirring frequently until mixture warms and begins to thicken. Remove from heat, top with almonds and coconut. Makes 2 BIG servings. YUMMO.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Sometimes Two are Better Than One! (Foods that are more powerful together!)

Sometimes when you put two people together they make each other better people than they are on their own. I believe when you discover someone who makes you a better person when you’re with him or her – that’s when you know you’ve found a friend, a partner, a spouse, a kindred spirit.

Did you know that there are certain foods that are make each other better too? In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share with you some foods that are more powerful when paired together.

In The Happiness Diet, Tyler Graham and Drew Ramsey wrote about “food synergy.” Here are a few of my favorites –

Eggs & Cheese
I love my scrambled cheese eggs. They are a comfort, recovery, and energy-producing miracle. Here’s why – the vitamin D in eggs makes the calcium in dairy more available for your body, not just for your bones but for your heart. Ever wonder why milk is fortified with Vitamin D? Now you know.

Rosemary & Steak
Ah, one of my favorite tastes of summer. Rosemary is rich in antioxidants that can help neutralize carcinogenic compounds that form when steak reaches temperatures of 325 and higher. So before you toss that steak on the grill, marinate it or rub it in rosemary. (Rosemary is a key ingredient in my favorite homemade steak rub which I’ll share in an upcoming post!)

Tomatoes & Olive Oil
Centuries of eaters, the world over can’t be wrong. Tomatoes are loaded with cancer fighting compounds like lycopene, but those compounds are fat-soluble which means they’re more available to your body when you eat them with fats like olive oil (or mozzarella cheese). This is the reason you should not be putting fat-free dressing on any vegetable!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What's a Nature Box and Is It Worth My Time/Money/Promotion on Facebook

I’m experimenting with boxes. I’ve tried two – Conscious Box and Nature Box. These boxes are delivered to your door (free shipping) every month for a mere $19.95. I’m willing to gamble twenty bucks in the name of research and a blog post or two, so I signed up for both.

The Nature Box full of 5 bags of relatively healthy snacks arrived promptly. I wasn’t aware that you could choose which snacks you want in your box, so my first selection was randomly chosen by the Powers That Be at Nature Box.

Our box contained Cranberry Almond Bites, French Vanilla Almond Granola, Whole Wheat Blueberry Figgy Bars, Baked Peppery Potato Fries, and Flax Fortune Coins. The sales pitch claimed that these would be “full-size” bags of snacks. And they were. If you’re a toddler. My kids are teens, so each bag had about 2 servings (except the Flax Fortune Coins which may last us a month).

If you do the math, that’s $4 a bag. I suppose this is about the average price for gouchi all-natural snacks, which these definitely are. I’m sure you can find a knock-off of every one of them at Wegmans. These snacks contain no high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, artificial colors, or trans fats. That’s all good. A few of them do have their fair share of sugar, but how else will you get kids to eat them? Sugar is the second ingredient listed on the Flax Fortune Coins but I’m the only one brave enough to eat them. This I attribute to their unfortunate name, but more about that later.