Emeals – free lunch meal plan

May 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Family Health

Slow cooking meals

I love meal planners. I try, every month to sit down and set up at least a basic schedule of what we’re going to eat for the month. And then… it just doesn’t happen.

I love that there are companies out there that do this for us… at pretty good prices too. And today I’ve been offered the chance to offer YOU a slow cooker plan from eMeals.com – the leading online meal planner.

eMeals.com has launched a new slow cooker meal plan to make your life even easier when it comes to getting meals on the table! Each slow cooker plan will include 7 crockpot dinners, with some timesaving “cook once, eat twice” favorites. They have both a Slow Cooker Classic plan full of tasty comfort food as well a groundbreaking Slow Cooker Clean Eating Plan that serves up quick, simple, and healthy meals. Right now, you can use discount code LUNCHFREE for a free lunch meal plan with the purchase of a dinner plan.

So head on over and give them a try! Let me know what you think!

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How to Make Your Own Birdseed Mix

January 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Gardening

English: Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes ery...

Red-headed Woodpecker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How to Make Your Own Birdseed Mix

Last week we talked about the importance of your commitment when you decide to start feeding the wild birds in your yard.  This is especially important in the winter.

 

There are a lot of premixed bird seed mixtures

A bird-seed dispenser

A bird-seed dispenser (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

on the market and you can buy them at any discount store and even in bulk at most do it yourself stores and warehouse stores.  People who enjoy watching birds know it is important to offer them food to entice them to your yard. You could buy those expensive pre-mixed birdseeds, but why spend the extra money when you can make your own birdseed mix. Here ís a recipe birds will love.

Ingredients:

4 cups black-oil sunflower seeds
2 cups whole oats
1 cup corn meal
1 cup dried fruit

Step 1  Put the sunflower seeds into a food processor and grind for two seconds. You donít want the seed to be entirely ground but broken up to make it easier for the birds to eat. Pour the sunflower seeds into a large bowl.

Step 2  Pour the whole oats into the processor and grind them in the same manner as the seeds. Pour the oats into the bowl with the seeds.

Step 3  Add the corn meal to the bowl and then stir it together.

Step 4  Chop the dried fruit into small bits to make it easier for the birds to eat. Use cranberries, raisins, apricots, or other dried fruit. Add that to the other ingredients and blend it together.

Step 5  Pour the entire mixture into a storage container which seals well.

Step 6  Place some of the mixture into your bird feeders. Take time to see how many different birds come to your feeder to enjoy what you made.

You can alter the above recipe by adding or substituting any of the following:

* White proso millet
* Safflower seeds
* Cracked corn

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Slow Food versus Fast Food

May 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Recipes

Veg
Image by Two Roads via Flickr

Have you heard about the slow food movement? A lot of people have had enough of junk food and what it seems to be doing to our health and society as a whole. For these reasons, the slow food movement was set up.

The basic ethos of the movement is about getting back to basics when it comes to food. It’s buying in season and local. It’s about supporting our local economy and eating food that’s simple, clean, basic and good for you. It seems we truly have gone full circle and many of us are ready to give up the fast food movement that has dominated our society for decades now and move onto slower, more nourishing nutrition.

If you feel the slow food movement may be something you’d like to join or contribute to, here are a few basic ideas to help get you started:

#1 – Buy local. This is a big emphasis of the slow food movement. By buying foods locally, we support local farming and agriculture. Local foods are also better for the environment as they don’t have to be transported for miles to reach supermarket shelves. Another bonus of buying local foods is that they’re more nutritious. After vegetables and fruits are picked, they slowly start to lose their nutrition content. By eating foods earlier after the picking process you take in more nutrients and vitamins.

#2 – Eat in season. Buying local will mean that you naturally eat what is in season. Many experts believe that we are meant to eat what is in our local environment so that we can survive those conditions. For example, in hot climates the emphasis is on watery fruits and vegetables like strawberries, cucumbers, melons, peppers. These foods contribute to our overall need for more fluid and vitamins needed during hot weather. In colder climates our bodies need filling, stocky foods such as potatoes and other root vegetables.

Eating in season is not only good for your health but also for your pocket book. Eating seasonally allows you to get the best produce without having to pay a fortune for it. Foods that need to be imported cost more because there is a higher cost in acquiring and transporting them. By eating in season you support your body, the environment and local farmers.

#3 – Cook from scratch. This doesn’t mean you have to make difficult, time-consuming meals. In fact, the slow food movement emphasizes the opposite. You can cook delicious, wholesome meals from scratch with very few ingredients. The key is to cook a variety of fresh, seasonal foods without resorting to pre-prepared foods or junk food.

Cooking from scratch is good for your overall health as you avoid many additives and preservatives. It also saves you money. Pre-packaged foods cost on average more than fresh foods. And with only three or four ingredients you can cook a really delicious meal the whole family is sure to enjoy.

#4 – Make food a priority. A big part of the slow food movement is that we can once again make food a priority in our lives. This movement is about connecting with and enjoying our food. It’s also about families taking a little time to spend more time together, around the family table.

While this isn’t always possible in modern times, the idea is that if parents start putting more emphasis on the importance of family meals, children will follow suit. By showing our children that food is meant to be pleasurable and enjoyed rather than gulped down or rushed, we start to show them the basics of good nutrition.

The slow food movement is a sign of progress for many. It shows that as communities we feel the need to connect to our food and each other. Eating fresh foods, supporting our communities and the environment, and coming together around the family table, are positive steps into the future.

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How to Make Thanksgiving Candles

November 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

Close up of a candle flame.
Image via Wikipedia

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the winter holiday season. It’s not officially winter yet, but the air is turning cooler, and people tend to spend more time indoors. Using candles for decoration during your Thanksgiving dinner provides a warm, cozy atmosphere for you and your guests that’s perfect for the season.

Making special candle centerpieces just for Thanksgiving is quite simple. Here are a few ideas that you can whip up in no time.

# Mini Jar Thanksgiving Candles

What You Need

* Tea light or votive candle in a Thanksgiving color and scent
* Empty baby food jar
* Tissue paper in autumn colors
* Tiny foam leaves
* White craft glue
* Water
* Small plastic bowl
* Paintbrush

Instructions

1. Rip tissue paper in two or three different colors into small pieces.

2. In the bowl, mix one part glue to three parts water. Stir with paintbrush until it forms a thin white solution.

3. Use the paintbrush to cover the outside of the jar with the glue solution. Stick on pieces of tissue paper, overlapping them. Add more glue on top of the tissue paper to make all pieces lay flat against the jar. Stick foam leaves on top of the tissue paper. Let dry.

4. Place candle inside the baby food jar.

# Harvest Candles

What You Need

* Acorn squash or small pumpkins
* Knife
* Votive candle in autumn color and scent

Instructions

1. Cut off the top of the pumpkin or squash. Scoop out the flesh and seeds.

2. Place the votive candle inside the pumpkin or squash.

# Pouring Your Own Candles

You can also pour your own candles into prepared baby food jars, pumpkins or squash. Here’s how:

What You Need

* Double boiler
* Candle wax
* Wick
* Candle coloring
* Fragrance
* Oven mitt

Instructions

1. Insert a candle wick into the center of the container. For best results, use wicks with metal disks on the end (called wick clips). This will help them stand up on their own.

2. Melt candle wax in a double boiler. Add an autumn color and fragrance and mix well.

3. Carefully lift the top pot from the double boiler and pour the wax into the container. Let cool until hardened completely.

4. If you find a sunken area around the wick, melt more wax and pour it on top. When hardened completely, trim the wick.

Making several of these small candles and grouping them together makes a lovely centerpiece. Or you could place one at each guest’s place setting for them to take home. Either way, these home-made candles will add lots of beauty to your Thanksgiving table.

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House Moving with Pets

November 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

HAWTHORNE, CA - JULY 16:  A dog sits in its cr...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Pets feel the stress of change, too, and the upheaval of a move can be hard on animals. If your move involves an airline flight, then you will need to take more comfort measures to assure your pet makes the transition well. Here are some ideas and tips to soothe your pet in the midst of house moving.

Visit the new house ahead of time

This is not always possible, especially if the house is very far away. If it is possible, however, it’s a good idea to take some treats along to make the experience positive and let your pet check out the new house. Try to get your scent and the pet’s wherever you can. Humans can’t discern these smells, but your pet will, and when you arrive ready to move in, it will have some smells that are familiar to your pet.

Flying on an airplane

Check with various airlines and find out if your pet qualifies to ride in the cabin with you, under the seat. This costs an extra fee, but is well worth it to avoid having your pet travel in the cargo bay. If your pet does need to travel as cargo, make the sure kennel is strong and escape-proof, and has a spill-proof container for water. Put in a favorite toy or blanket that smells of you and your house. For dogs, include something to chew; for cats, include a toy with catnip.

The kennel

Several weeks ahead of time, purchase the kennel or carrier, or set up the one you already own, and leave it open for several weeks in your old home before you move. Your pet can come and go and get familiar with the kennel. Keep toys and water in there, and when it’s time to go, nothing will change inside the kennel.

When you arrive at your new home, don’t put the kennel away yet. When moving in boxes is finished and the new house door is closed, open the kennel or carrier and let the pet decide when it will come out. Leave the kennel out and open the way you did in your old house for a week or two, so your pet will have a familiar place to which it can retreat as it gets used to the new house.

Introduce the new outdoors gradually

Dogs, of course, should not be allowed to run loose even in a familiar neighborhood; but letting them run loose in an unfamiliar place can be disastrous. If there is a fence, check it carefully for holes or other escape routes. If you tie your dog out, don’t leave him outside unsupervised for the first few days.

Cats should not be allowed outside at all for several days. On the first venture out, take the cat out in its carrier and take it around the perimeter of the property, getting the cat familiar with the scents and sites of its new territory.

Car ride

Some animals, especially cats, can get very anxious in the car. There are various anti-stress remedies on the market. Your vet may prescribe a sedative, or you can check at your local health food store for natural remedies.

Keep calm

Animals sense your tension. Lots of gentle touching, stroking, and soothing, upbeat talk will go a long way in relieving your pet’s stress.

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Spinach Rice Salad

August 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

Spinach
Image via Wikipedia

Another unique and healthy meal that the kids will love (as long as you don’t tell them there’s spinach in there!). We’re making Popeye proud today!

Ingredients:
6 cups fresh spinach, torn
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
1 tbsp honey
1 cup green grapes, cut in half
1 cup raspberries
2 oranges, peeled and cut into sections
2 tsp fresh basil
2 cups of brown rice, cooked and chilled
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Add spinach, rice, grapes and sunflower seeds to a large salad bowl and combine.

Blend vinegar, oil, honey, basil, salt and pepper thoroughly and pour over rice mixture. Toss until well coated then gently add oranges and raspberries.

This is a great Bar-B-Que side dish. Great with leftover cold fried chicken too!

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Spiced Popcorn

August 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

Everything you need to know about microwave po...
Image by jmacphoto.com via Flickr

Great for the whole family, this is a different “look” at popcorn! Makes a great accompaniment to soup too!

Ingredients:
1 tsp onion salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup popping corn
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sweet paprika

Method
In a little bowl, mix paprika, thyme, oregano, onion salt and half the vegetable oil.

Heat other half of oil in saucepan. When oil is very hot, add popping corn and cover with tight fitting lid. When the corn starts popping, give the pan a shake. When the corn stops popping, take pan off heat.

Place popcorn into a serving bowl, discarding any unpopped corn. Add the spice mixture and toss.

Great addition to any lunchbox.

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