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Spring is in the Air…

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Spring is finally here! After an unusually bizarre winter with the “polar vortex” swirling around the east and the dry skies in the west, we’re all ready to enjoy the pleasures of springtime. The sun is shining, maybe a little rain is still falling, but warm weather is here, hopefully to stay!

 

Here is a list of 10 things to do, get outside… enjoy the weather and your family and friends.

1. Read outside on a blanket in the sun

2. Go fishing with your buddies

images-13. Do some spring cleaning to fun music

4. Make these beautiful spring centerpieces, using simple glass jars and lemons for a touch of color!

20893414909de221e35e3b2d0ff7b1fa-15. Fly a kite on the beach

6. Plan a “staycation” with these cool ideas

7. Take pictures of wildflowers

5847087633_598af01050_z-18. Make this delicious “dirt cake”:

6309663259aac1a07cbdb3f4d3e9cf879. Walk barefoot on cool grass

10. Make a fairy garden like this one!

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Comfort Food with a Healthy Twist

Since Phil the groundhog saw his shadow this year on Groundhog Day, I am pulling out a favorite dish to celebrate this extra-long winter. Found on Pinch of Yum is a recipe with a twist on the traditional broccoli and chicken casserole, with extra protein from bacon and quinoa!

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CREAMY CHICKEN QUINOA AND BROCCOLI CASSEROLE

Author: Pinch of Yum

Serves: 6

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups reduced sodium organic chicken broth
  • 1 cup organic milk
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • ¼ cup cooked, crumbled bacon
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning (like Emeril’s Essence)
  • ¼ cup shredded Gruyere cheese (any kind will work)
  • 3 cups fresh organic broccoli florets

INSTRUCTIONS

1.Sauce: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and generously grease a 9×13 baking dish (seriously, be generous because it really really sticks to the sides). Bring the chicken broth and ½ cup milk to a low boil in a saucepan. Whisk the other ½ cup milk with the poultry seasoning and flour; add the mixture to the boiling liquid and whisk until a smooth creamy sauce forms.

2.Assembly: In a large bowl, mix the sauce from step one, one cup water, quinoa, and bacon and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Slice the chicken breasts into thin strips and lay the chicken breast strips over the top of the quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with the seasoning. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

3.Broccoli: While the casserole is in the oven, place the broccoli in boiling water for 1 minute until it turns bright green and then run under cold water. Set aside.

4.Bake: Remove the casserole from the oven, check the mixture by stirring it around in the pan, and if needed, cover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. When the quinoa and chicken are cooked, add the broccoli and a little bit of water (up to one cup) until the consistency is creamy and smooth and you can stir it up easily in the pan. Top with the cheese and bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or just long enough to melt the cheese.

NOTES

You will know the quinoa is done when it is soft and looks as if it has popped open, with the germ of the kernel visible as a little spiral. If you want the chicken to get that browned exterior, leave the foil off for part of the cooking time, but be aware that the quinoa does take a lot longer to cook without the foil.

For the full recipe and many other delicious recipes check out Pinch of Yums website here.

The Cure for Snoring is…

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When it comes to sleep, many people or their sleeping partners have a problem with snoring. Some have turned to nasal strips, while others experience insomnia. This woman found a different, more homeopathic approach to helping her husband with his snoring habit…singing!

Read more from this article to find out how you too may be able to stop your snoring or that of your sleeping partner

“While there are a number of sophisticated medical treatments available, such as nasal and oral devices as well as surgery, Ojay’s solution is more akin to a natural home remedy. The British choir director claims that a series of routine vocalizations, performed 20 minutes a day over the course of less than a month, can reduce snoring significantly. That’s because these ‘singing exercises,’ she says, were formulated specifically to work out throat muscles that have weakened over time. The approach is based on the premise that firming up these muscles would allow air to pass in and out with less obstruction.”

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/cure-snoring-singing-180949408/

Researching GMOs

There has been a lot of talk about GMOs lately, including this from the Organic Consumers Association (OCA):

The GMO "Arctic Apple®"

“The Arctic Apple® provides no health benefit to consumers. No benefit to growers. It’s only “benefit” is that it won’t turn brown when you slice it or bite into it. 

The USDA is set to approve the GMO apple before Christmas. Unless the agency heeds the tens of thousands of consumers, environmentalists and apple growers who are asking for more safety testing. Or at the least, a label?”

To check out the full article, click HERE.
 

I realized I don’t know as much about GMOs as I would like, so I did a little research.  The Non-GMO Project is a great resource for GMO information.  From their website:

imagesGMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.

“Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.

Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.”  (Check out their website for tons of great information.)

If you are unsure of where you stand on the GMO issue, or just want to know what the fight is all about, the best thing you can do is research for yourself.  An informed consumer is the best defense against huge corporations putting profit before people and the environment.

Delicious Pumpkin Roll

I love the holiday season, because it brings out the holiday flavors! Pumpkin being a personal favorite. I was determined to make a pumpkin roll this year! I brought it into the office and it was gobbled up in one day. Check out my “adventure” in pictures, and make on yourself with my personal recipe, it turned out to be such an incredibly yummy dessert!

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 Organic Pumpkin Roll

3 organic free-range eggs

1 cup raw turbinado sugar

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin

2/3 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3 tsp organic cinnamon

1 tsp organic nutmeg

1 tsp organic ginger

½ tsp salt

Cream Cheese filling:

8 oz organic cream cheese

4 tbsp organic butter, softened

½ cup confectioner’s sugar

½ cup raw turbinado sugar

1 tsp organic vanilla extract

In large bowl, combine eggs and sugar, beating with an electric mixer until thick and light yellow in color. Add pumpkin, mixing until blended.

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Add to egg mixture, mixing well. Spread batter into greased and waxed-paper-lined baking sheet, enough to cover the sides.

Bake at 350 ° for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool for 15 minutes. Place cake upside down on another sheet of waxed paper, sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar. Peel off waxed paper from bottom of cake. Set aside.

While cake is cooling, prepare filling. Beat together cream cheese and butter; stir in powdered sugar, turbinado sugar and vanilla and blend until smooth. Evenly spread filling over cake. Roll up cake, making sure not to wrap waxed paper with it. Wrap in plastic wrap. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Slice before serving. Keep leftover slices refrigerated. This pumpkin roll freezes well, and makes about 9 servings.

The Luxurious 81

Have you ever thought about a mattress that can evolve with your body, that can change as your body changes over the years? OMI has created a mattress that allows you to do just that. When you order the 81, you choose our standard configuration or select a completely custom configuration tailored to your exact needs.

81Feature

100%-natural rubber latex mattress. The OrganicPedic® 81 is the apex of personal luxury. With 18 interchangeable options of comfort and a separate 3” sculpted layer, the 81 creates a truly customized sleep experience. Each individual latex sleep zone is covered in the finest organic cotton knit (which feels “like butter”) and embroidered to identify the comfort option it provides. Experience the hand-crafted quality, attractive design, and 81 personal sleep zones of the OrganicPedic 81.

SURFACE: Sculpted

FIRMNESS: Customizable
*

DEPTH: 14″

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MSRP (mattress only): 
queen $9195 • king $10995

House Committee Examines Senate Chemical Bill

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From the ISPA (International Sleep Products Association), regarding our government acknowledging the use of chemicals in products:

“The Energy and Commerce subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy held a hearing today on the bipartisan Chemical Safety Improvement Act, a bill currently pending in the Senate. This is a significant action as the House rarely holds hearings on Senate legislation. The legislation would update the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), which governs the use of chemicals in consumer products in the U.S. ISPA is a member of the American Alliance for Innovation (AAI), which was formed to make sure that any legislation to reform TSCA did not burden the industry. ISPA joined members of the AAI in supporting the compromise legislation.

Despite broad support, there has been an effort by some Senators, states and environmental groups to make changes to the legislation because they are concerned with the bill’s preemptive effect on state chemical laws. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is leading this charge and spoke at a recent hearing about making changes to the bill because she fears the compromise bill will limit California’s Proposition 65 and other state chemical laws. The AAI and ISPA support the bill, in part, because of its preemptive effect. The hearing and further action by the house could put pressure on the senate to not make significant changes to the current bill.

Any action on the legislation is not expected until next year at the earliest.

Efforts to reform TSCA in the past have failed but those were partisan efforts. ISPA will continue to follow the progress on this legislation.”

A Salty Halloween Snack

Halloween is fast approaching and I am getting my house ready for trick-or-treaters. My simple Sea Salt Seeds are the perfect treat to enjoy while carving Jack-o-lanterns. Make them yourself using the seeds from carving pumpkins.

 Carved Pumpkins

Sea Salt Seeds

1. Cut the top off your pumpkin and scoop out the insides. Clean all the pumpkin goop off the seeds and rinse them well in warm water.

2. Bring about 4 cups of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt, and place seeds in boiling water for 10 minutes. This will help soften the seeds and make them easier to digest. Also, the steam inside the seeds will cook them more thoroughly.

3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. After boiling the seeds in water, place them in a colander, then gently pat dry with a paper towel (they don’t have to be completely dry, but shouldn’t contain too much excess water).

4. Place the seeds on a baking dish with olive oil and sea salt to taste. (Use 1 tbsp per cup of pumpkin seeds).

5. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. Stir seeds on baking dish and cook for another 8 minutes.

6. Take out of the oven and enjoy!

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For some great variations, during step 4, replace the olive oil and salt with: 1. Cinnamon, sugar and butter

2. Fresh garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper

3. Ginger, clove, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg (for pumpkin-pie-spiced pumpkin seeds, mix with a little bit of butter)

4. Seasoning salt and olive oil

Soupy Decisions

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With the weather getting cooler and the food getting warmer, soup is the first thing I start to crave. Favorites like chicken soup and tomato soup are always great, but this fall I wanted to try something new. There are so many great ingredients that you can throw together to make a delicious-tasting (and healthy) soup! These great recipes are sure to broaden your soup horizon.

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From Top Left to Right:

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Carrot Ginger Soup

Butternut Squash Soup

Asparagus Soup

Broccoli White Cheddar Soup

Mushroom Chestnut Soup

Creamy Broccoli Basil Soup

 

 

 

Conscientious Fall Clothing

It’s almost time for the sweaters and the boots to make their way to the front of our closets and to send back the shorts and tank tops. Maybe you are in need of a new pair of boots or want some cute new tops to go along with your favorite pair of jeans. This year try to shop a bit more consciously.6905011699_7462d1f2fc_o

Try shopping at a second-hand store. Consignment stores are a great option for purchasing designer clothing (at a great price) or even clothes that are in excellent condition that someone else didn’t want anymore at a great price. Thrift-store shopping is also a wonderful option because many thrift stores use proceeds to help non-profit organizations, such as Goodwill. In addition to shopping at either consignment or thrift stores, remember you can also donate your unwanted clothing as well.

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While looking to add to your closet but not wanting to over-purchase, try an eco-conscious 5-in-1, skirt or dress. Sold in stores across the US, you can find many different styles to fit your needs. Thieves Boutique has a beautiful drape-style dress that can be worn as sleeveless, halter, long, medium or short to get the most bang for your buck. They also have a beautiful selection of clothing by sustainable designers.

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Another way to shop is trying an organic or eco-conscious brand for your everyday clothing. Threads 4 Thought is a personal favorite. Not only do they use organic cotton, but they give to large charities as well as promoting a cleaner environment by recycling. It doesn’t hurt that their clothing is absolutely adorable as well.

Remember when shopping to bring your own reusable bags to reduce waste and carpool with friends for fun and to reduce your carbon footprint.

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