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Archive for the ‘Health/Fitness’ Category

February 10th, 2014 by Sarah

10 Winter Survival Tips For Moms and Dads

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This is the view out of our front window from last winter.  It’s pretty to look at, but I have high hopes for an early spring this year.

The last month has been filled with canceled school and some days with sick kids where we can’t leave our house.

After eight winters in MN with kids, here are a few things that have helped us survive physically and mentally.

Ideas for days when you can’t leave the house. 

1. Let go of your expectations for a clean house or your to-do list for the day (if possible) so you can give extra snuggles.  Sometimes the sick days that I dread become precious because of the extra time I get with our kids.

2. Have a beach party.  Get swimsuits on, grab some beach towels, and get the kids in the bath.  Put some music on and pretend it’s a sunny day at the beach :).

3. If you have girls, do a spa day.  Put some coconut, olive or catsor oil on your hair with a plastic bag.  Do a honey mask and manicure.

4. Get a stack of books, and let the kids into your bed for a cozy time of reading.  My kids seem to think it’s fun if it’s in our big bed.

I try to get to the library once a week in the winter to keep us stocked up on books and videos in case we have a few days where we can’t leave the house. If you can get out for a quick trip to the library, the books on CD, videos, and of course books can be a life saver.

5. Take a deep breath.  You will leave the house again.

I would love to hear your ideas as well!

Help for Our Bodies.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional.  These are things that have helped me as I have researched and tried various home remedies. I use a variety, but these are some of my favorites.

1. Freeze a container of homemade chicken noodle soup for one of those days when you need it.  I will share the easiest way!

Buy a large rotisserie chicken. Take the meat off and put it in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on when you will make it.  Then put the carcass in a crock pot, cover with hot water (and garlic, carrots, or onion if you want to make it richer but if I’m in a hurry I skip that).  Cook on low for 12-24 hours.  Your broth will be rich with vitamins and minerals.  There are many benefits to bone broth.

When you’re ready, follow a chicken noodle soup recipe like this one, (but I add peas).  You have your chicken and chicken stock all ready to go, so it takes me less than 20 minutes to do the rest!

2.  Vitamin D3, which primarily comes from the sun and certain foods, is essential for our physical and mental health.  I buy D3 drops and give them to our whole family daily throughout the winter because, well, we’re not seeing much sun in MN.  This has been found to help to ward of illness, depression and even certain cancers.  

When you have your yearly physical ask your doctor to test your vitamin D levels.  Even though I had mine tested in the summer and I was taking the recommended amount of D3, my levels were still not in optimal range!  My goal would really be 60, and I believe 40-70 is considered optimal.

You can take too much, but if you’re not in the sun, most people need much more than the recommended daily dosage.  If you want to learn more click the vitamin D link above.

Here is where I buy my vitamin D3 drops in olive oil.  It’s the cheapest I’ve found and I don’t receive anything for mentioning Vitacost.  I think you can find a coupon code for $10 off you first order.

3.  Honey lemon water.  When I feel a cold coming on I drink really strong hot honey lemon water and it often causes the sore throat to go away, or diminishes the length of the cold to a few days.  The tea should have about 1/2 cup of a cup of lemon juice, hot (not boiling) water and as much honey as you need to make it drinkable.  Microwave the water before you put the lemon in it or it supposedly kills the enzymes?  I don’t know, that’s what “they” say.  Cinnamon is also anti-viral, by the way, if you can get a teaspoon of that into your body somehow it’s an added benefit.  I just don’t like it in my honey lemon water personally.

4. Garlic oil. Garlic is antimicrobial.   I have cured my ear aches as well as my kids with this and they did not have to go on antibiotics.  My oldest sons say that it gets rid of the pain within minutes.  You can buy garlic oil or do what I do and heat up a chopped clove of garlic in a small sauce pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Let it cool and add drop it in the ears.

I also swallow chopped garlic like I would a vitamin with water when I get a stomach ache and it often gets rid of it.  The article I linked above shares some of its benefits.

5. Green smoothies.  These are very popular right now, but particularly if you let your kids help you make them or call them a cool name, you can pack some great nutrients in a little drink.  Green smoothie recipes abound on the internet.

If you have ideas, corrections, or questions, please comment.  I am not a health expert and love hearing suggestions!

April 3rd, 2012 by Sarah

Homemade Salad Dressing

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These salad recipes are perfect for summer, and I almost never use store-bought salad dressing which allows me to switch up the recipes and eat salad without getting sick of it.

Below are a couple of my favorite salad recipes and dressings, but if I don’t have one made and I’m in a hurry I simply salt and pepper the salad, then sprinkle a little vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and maybe a dried or fresh herb.

After you’ve made a few homemade dressings you start to get than hang of experimenting with your own recipes based on what you like and have on hand.

What you’ll need:  a jar to shake the dressing in (a washed out jam jar or spaghetti sauce jar), oil, vinegar (cider, balsamic,rice or any fancy vinegar like raspberry is great, and cider is the cheapest), salt, pepper, sugar, and I will give some more ideas for varieties, see below.

The basic rule of thumb is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar.  My favorite two oils to use are extra virgin olive oil, and canola oil because they have some healthy fats in them.  Add salt and pepper, maybe a little dried mustard or Dijon mustard if you have some in the fridge.

Warning if you use extra virgin olive oil and put it in the fridge it does harden.  It looks gross but the dressing is still good, you just have to let it thaw and then shake it up.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes…

Cranberry/Pear Salad: 

Greens, Pears or Apples,Gorgonzola, Parmesan or Feta cheese (I really like the gorgonzola and even find it at Aldi), Craisins/dried cranberries, Pecans or walnuts toasted in a skillet (when I’m lazy I don’t toast them or I use store-bought candied/toasted nuts).


  • 3/4 C. oil
  •  1/3 C. honey
  • 2 T. raspberry vinegar (I don’t usually have this on hand so I substitute with cider vinegar or balsamic).
  • 1 T. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 T. minced red onion (optional)
  • 1 t. salt

Strawberry Poppy Seed Salad  This is my all time favorite poppy-seed dressing.  You may want to cut this in half your first time to make sure you like it).


  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 t. ground mustard
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2/3 C. rice vinegar
  • 2 C. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T. poppy seeds

Combine in a blender or food processor, but again I am usually lazy and I just shake it up in a jar.  I think it still tastes great.

The salad I put this dressing is just greens (spring mix), silvered almonds (toasted), and strawberries or blueberries.

Time Saver: Trader Joe’s had silvered almonds that are already toasted and they are delicious on this salad.

More salad recipes to come!


February 29th, 2012 by Sarah

Getting Kids to Eat Salad

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Strawberry and Avocado Spinach Salad 500

I often make salads at dinner, but it seems more than half of the time my kids reject it before they have even tried it.  Kids eat with their eyes and like choices so I decided to make our own salad bar at our house.  We do this regularly and it works… all of our kids eat their salad and usually ask for more.

I try to use healthier lettuces like romaine, spinach, and spring mixes.  If you like the crunch of the not as nutritionally packed iceberg you can mix it in with another healthy lettuce and it works well.  Make sure to chop your kids lettuce/spinach into smaller pieces fit for their little mouths.  You can even use a round pizza cutter to smash it all up.

Here are some ideas for toppings (I usually just use what I have on hand):

Hard boiled eggs, cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds, lunch meat, leftover grilled chicken, cheese, croutons, nuts, broccoli, shredded carrots, shrimp, strawberries, olives, mushrooms, leftover taco ingredients with tortilla chips, black beans, peas, tomatoes, any veggie!

Put out a few different salad dressings, (I love making my own and I’ll put some of my favorite dressing recipes on here soon).

It’s kind of a no throw-together dinner, and it’s so healthy.


My all time favorite item to buy at Costco is their one pound bin of organic spinach or organic spring mix.  It is almost the same price as a small bag at the regular grocery store, but there is probably three times the amount.

Do you have any other topping ideas or tips to get your children to eat veggies?