Feed Your Soul

5 tricks to sneak veggies into your kids' diet...

Pujols Kitchen - Monday, January 23, 2017



Sometimes getting our kids to eat their vegetables is as challenging as getting a tax cut bill passed on Capitol Hill. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here are 5 tricks to sneak vegetables into your kids’ diet.

·         On pasta night, slip your child’s favorite vegetable into the boiling water a few minutes before the pasta is cooked. Add in the sauce and fewer turned-up noses will occur.

·         Another covert move—add finely shredded zucchini or summer squash to casseroles. Not only will the zucchini and squash’s mild flavors blend in almost seamlessly, you’ll also add in important vitamins and minerals.

·         Sloppy Joe night is another opportunity to slip in a veggie or two. When preparing  sloppy joes or any meat-based spaghetti sauce, replace some of the ground beef with some finely chopped mushrooms. Mushrooms are similar in texture to ground beef, and they absorb the rich flavors of the sauce.

·         Transform lycopene-rich tomato sauce to an even healthier and creamier sauce by stirring in canned unseasoned pumpkin puree. You’ll add fiber and beta carotene, as well as a mild flavor and creamy texture.

·         Cheese Sauce. There’s nothing wrong with cheese sauce it gets your children to eat their veggies. Consider a healthy cheese sauce that doesn’t use lots of butter and cream, but low-fat milk and full-flavored sharp Cheddar instead.


Tips for keeping healthy snacks on hand all week...

Pujols Kitchen - Friday, January 20, 2017



Here are some quick and easy tips for keeping healthy snacks on hand all week:

 

1.       Gather your favorite veggies like celery, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower

2.       Wash and Cut into bite size pieces

3.       Store in air tight container

By prepping veggies over the weekend you have food that’s ready and easy to grab from the refrigerator on days when your family is more rushed.

You can also pack individual serving sizes into small Ziploc bags for on-the-go snacks or for packed lunches.


Why houseplants?

Pujols Kitchen - Tuesday, January 17, 2017



One very good reason for appreciating houseplants is the fact that they improve your quality of life and indoor air quality by clearing airborne toxins in your home. Champion air-scrubbers like Boston fern, Sweet Chico and dwarf date palm make great housewarming presents and are ideal for elderly residents in assisted living facilities.


How to cut fresh herbs...

Pujols Kitchen - Monday, January 16, 2017



Whether used for cooking, bouquets, teas or herbal baths, there’s no substitute for fresh cut herbs and knowing how to cut, preserve, harvest and store them is essential. Here are some tips and tricks for cutting fresh herbs.


It’s good to snip herbal plants regularly throughout the summer as this will encourage new growth and branching. Herbs are hearty so you can harvest successive cuttings whenever you need fresh herbs. Be sure to cut no more than one-third of the stem’s length unless the herb is chives or lavender in which case you’ll want to harvest the flowering steps at ground level when they’re in bloom.


It’s best to gather herbs early in the day before the sun bakes the plants’ essential oils but after the dew has dried. When harvesting herbal leaves, the best time to do this is when the plant’s flowers start to form, cutting the stems at their peak. Near the end of the growing season, when you’re ready to start harvesting seeds, wait for the flowers to mature and turn brown. Harvesting the seeds will be easier.


When it comes to cooking with herbs, strip the leaves from the plant’s stems by sliding your forefinger and thumb from top to bottom. Herbs like bay, parsley and tansy have thicker leaves and you’ll want to snip those.


Preserving herbs entails gathering small bunches (10-15 stems) and hanging them in a warm, airy place to dry. You can wrap the stems tightly with a rubber band or tie them with twine. Then hang the herb bunches on the rung of a hanger, from a nail, or on a drying rack. Depending on the plant’s moisture content, drying can take up to three weeks. Remove crisp-dry leaves before storing herbs. Place a paper bag over dry seed heads, tying the open end of the bag around the stems, with one type of herb in each bag. Label each bag and in a few weeks the seeds will drop into the bag. Allow seeds to dry out completely before properly storing.


To properly store dried herbs you’ll need airtight glass or ceramic containers. Store these containers away from light and heat. This is the best way to protect the herbs’ fragrance and flavor. Keep your herbs’ leaves whole, crushing leaves to release flavor just before needed. Dried herbs should be used within a year of harvesting.


Declutter your mind...

Pujols Kitchen - Sunday, January 15, 2017



The holidays are over and mid-way through January you thought your schedule would return to normal. Problem is, it hasn’t and you’re having a hard time keeping up with your to-do list much less sleeping at night. Is your mind so muddled it keeps you up at night? Here are a few tricks for de-cluttering your mind so you can sleep and be better equipped to tackle your to-do list.


Give yourself permission to take a break. It’s okay to put down your to-do list and just breathe. For 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or an hour, if possible, focus on the present rather than making plans in your head. When you take the time to let go, you’re more likely to have more success when you return to your to-do list.


Meditation. You don’t have to be Buddhist to meditate, nor an expert. Not only that, you don’t need to set aside a lot of time out of your day to meditate either. Meditation is about slowing down and you can meditate while you cook or take a shower. As you meditate, pay attention to your contact with the Earth. Focus on the movements of your body, the feel of the air on your skin, and the center of your body where your breath fills you most. Relax any tension you feel in your neck, shoulders and jaw. Let your thoughts, worries and concerns go. Imagine your thoughts written on a leaf that floats away down a river. Do this for as long as you can or need to. For some this is 2-3 minutes, for others 10-15 minutes. You’ll find you’ve given yourself a mental reboot.


A change of scenery is more powerful than you might think. Whether it’s to your back porch to have lunch, a neighbor’s house for a visit, or a simple walk through your neighborhood or local park, when you break any kind of cycle, changing location is a huge help.


Get moving. When you get your blood flowing and oxygen throughout your body and to your brain, you’ll feel renewed and ready to focus again. Consider walking, dancing, yoga or a pillow fight with your kids!


Traditions to bring your family together...

Pujols Kitchen - Thursday, January 12, 2017



Traditions strengthen your family’s bonds, enrich the life you share together, contribute to your children’s well-being and create lasting memories. There are lots of family traditions practiced during the holidays and there are plenty of others observed throughout the rest of the year. Here are some traditions families living in the Information Age are observing so technology doesn’t take over!


Daily connections include:


Family Meals that begin with grace or sharing something they’re grateful for that day. No TV, no cellphones, and no tablets. Everyone takes a turn sharing something positive and negative that has happened to them during the day. Families also share stories and interesting information they’ve read or heard that day.


School Lunch Inspiration. Put inspiring notes or drawings in your children’s school lunches. It’s a great way to connect and make your kids feel extra loved.


Bedtime Story. Children whose parents read to them regularly typically do better in school and have larger vocabularies than children who don’t.


Weekly Connections include:


Family Game Night – From Pie in the Face to Monopoly, family game night is great fun, a fantastic way to keep connected and ramp up the laughter.


Movie Night – Borrow your favorite 80s movies from the library, hit the dollar store and let the kids pick out their favorite candy, pop some butter flavored popcorn at home and you have the perfect opportunity to wax poetic with your kids about why movies from the 80s were so much better than the ones produced today.


Pizza Night – Almost everyone loves pizza and having a pizza night gives you and your family a favorite meal to look forward to each week. Skip delivery and making your own is another way to connect and pass on some cooking skills to your kids too.


Saturday/Sunday Morning Breakfast together – Pancakes and waffles are “easy like Sunday morning.” So are biscuits and gravy. Indulge your inner chef.


Monthly Connections:


Box of Goals. Setting and working toward a goal is an important life skill. On the first day of every month, have family members write down one goal they wish to accomplish that month. Then place the piece of paper in a cigar box or a tin from the dollar store. At the end of the month you can take out the pieces of paper and see how everyone did. Then write new goals for next month. You’ll be amazed at all you and your family can achieve.


Family Service Day. If your family’s mission is to serve the community, consider designating one Saturday or Sunday each month to helping others. This could be in the form of spending a morning at a homeless shelter, helping a neighbor with yard work or sorting clothes at Goodwill.



What are some of your family’s traditions?



The benefits of hot tea...

Pujols Kitchen - Monday, January 09, 2017



“Drink your tea slowly and reverently,

as if it is the axis on which the world revolves,

slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.

Live the actual moment.

Only this moment is life.”

 –Thich Nhat Hanh

 

For die-hard tea drinkers, nothing is as relaxing, reassuring or satisfying as a cup of hot tea. The beauty of tea is there’s a different type to soothe any ailment.


Rather than reaching for that pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream the next time you’re feeling down, make a cup of orange and lemon tea instead. The scent of citrus is proven to boost your mood and with a high level of antioxidants, tea is a far healthier choice.


Whether you’re fighting to stay awake or craving something sweet, pumpkin spice flavored chai or rooibos tea is the perfect remedy. Chai is a black tea with cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Add in some pumpkin spice for fall flavors. But if you need to de-stress, drink a pumpkin spice rooibos since it is caffeine-free.


Upset stomach? You don’t need Pepto Bismol. Brew some ginger tea instead. Ginger is ideal soother for all types of stomach issues. Because of its ability to prevent nausea, it’s the perfect remedy for morning hangovers.


Need an energy boost without the caffeine crash? Green tea and mint tea are caffeine free energy-boosters.


Can’t sleep? With lavender and sleep-inducing herbs and properties, chamomile tea is known to relax you by reducing stress and anxiety.


A checklist for winter weather...

Pujols Kitchen - Sunday, January 08, 2017



Most of us know a well-stocked pantry and fridge is in order when it comes to winter weather advisories, but emergency supplies for communication, safety, heating and cars are every bit as important. Here is a checklist to keep you and your family prepared for winter weather.


Communication

·         Bad winter storms often bring power outages. Be sure you have a cell phone, portable charger and extra batteries in the event of a power outage. A battery-powered radio with extra batteries will allow you to listen to local stations for emergency instructions. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio receiver is ideal so you can tune into National Weather Service broadcasts.

·         Have a family communication plan so you know how to contact each other, how you’ll get back together and what you’ll do during an emergency.

·         Check in on your elderly neighbors and give assistance when necessary.


For Heating

·         Have extra blankets, sleeping bags, and warm winter coats on hand.

·         Have dry firewood ready or a gas log fireplace.

·         Have portable space heaters or kerosene heaters (check your local fire department to make sure kerosene heaters are legal) at the ready.

·         Make sure your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries and are in working order.

·         Have battery-powered flashlights or lanterns ready.

·         If possible, opt for battery powered candles rather than lit candles to prevent house fire.


Food

Depending on the severity of the storm, it’s best to have a week’s worth of food. Make sure you have the following:

·         Drinking water

·         Canned/no-cook food (bread, crackers, dried fruits)

·         Non-electric can opener

·         Baby food and formula (if baby in the household)

·         Prescription drugs and other medicine


Safety Supplies

Your family’s safety is important. Snow and ice on sidewalks and driveways are safety hazards. Be sure to have the following on hand.

·         First-aid kit

·         Rock-salt to melt ice on walkways

·         Supply of cat litter or bag of sand to add traction on walkways


In Your Car

If you have no choice and must go out in the weather, be sure to have your car ready with the following items.

·         Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries

·         Shovel

·         Windshield scraper

·         Battery-powered radio and extra batteries

·         Flashlight and extra batteries

·         Water

·         Snack food

·         Extra hats, coats, and mittens

·         Blankets

·         Chains or rope

·         Tire chains

·         Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair

·         Road salt and sand

·         Booster cables

·         Emergency flares

·         Bright colored flag or help signs

·         First aid kit

·         Tool kit

·         Road maps

·         Compass

·         Waterproof matches and can to melt snow for water

·         Paper towels


How to stay healthy on weekends too...

Pujols Kitchen - Saturday, January 07, 2017



You’ve been good this week. Worked out every day, avoided sweets, had healthy meals. And then along comes the weekend. Let’s face it, weekends are full of temptations—parties, snacks, going out to eat with family and friends. Then Monday rolls around and we’re frustrated with ourselves for falling off the wagon. That’s why it’s good to have a plan before the weekend starts. Here are some tips for maintaining your diet and exercise regimen on weekends.

·         Don’t skip your workout – Treat Saturday and Sunday like any other day of the week and workout, even if it’s an easy walk around the block.

·         Eat like it’s a weekday – Eat the same salad or healthy meal at home that you would during the regular work week. Your body will thank you.

·         Limit alcohol – Studies show that drinking alcohol prevents persons from getting REMs or deep sleep. When you’re tired, you’re less motivated to work out and more likely to eat to stay awake.

·         Increase water –Water helps our bodies control calories, energizes muscles and keeps our skin looking good.

·         One cheat meal – Hey, it is the weekend after all and you know what they say, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”


What's the best way to keep those resolutions?

Pujols Kitchen - Tuesday, January 03, 2017



Be realistic by making only one small change each month. 


For example, if you resolved to lose weight in 2017, consider making one small change like drinking more water. When you drink more water, you lose weight because water keeps you feeling full. Once you’ve established a habit of drinking more water, then move on to exercise. Simply walking 20 minutes a day can reduce your risk of diabetes by half. Keep at it and celebrate victories, no matter how small. You can do it!


 

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