A Menu for a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

With Cinco de Mayo only days away it is time to begin planning a delicious meal to share with friends. Here are some great recipes to help you start planning a yummy menu:

CUCUMBER-JALAPEÑO MARGARITA

Tuna Nachos w/Cucumber Margarita

INGREDIENTS

  • Coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 1 lime wedge
  • ½ cup peeled, finely diced cucumber
  • 4 slices of jalapeño
  • ¼ cup cilantro sprigs
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ¼ oz. light agave nectar
  • 2 oz. 100% blue agave silver tequila
  • ½ oz. Cointreau or triple sec

DIRECTIONS

Pour an even layer of salt on a plate. Rub the rim of an 8-ounce rocks glass or tumbler with lime wedge and invert glass into salt to coat rim.

Combine cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and agave nectar in a 2-cup cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or pestle, gently muddle the mixture.

Fill the shaker halfway with ice, and then add tequila and Cointreau. Cover and shake well until shaker is frosty and cold.

Fill prepared glass with ice. Strain margarita into it and garnish with the cucumber slice.

RAINBOW SALSA

Mexican cuisine: tasty salsa and corn chips nachos close-up. Horizontal

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, stems removed, seeded and diced (add more/less to taste)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion (about half of a small red onion)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small bag tortilla chips

DIRECTIONS

Combine the tomatoes, jalapeño, bell peppers, black beans, corn, cilantro and red onion in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, garlic powder, cumin and salt until combined.  Add the juice to the bowl of salsa.  Then toss everything until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.

TEQUILA-MUSTARD-GLAZED CHICKEN SKEWERS

Grilled chicken skewer with grilled vegeyables salad

INGREDIENTS

Marinated Chicken

  • ½ cup tequila
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  •  1 tbsp. chopped oregano
  •   1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Tequila Mustard

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • ¼ cup malt vinegar
  •  ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  •  1 tbsp. ground cumin
  •  1 tbsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the tequila, brown sugar, olive oil, garlic, oregano and salt. Add the chicken, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, water, malt vinegar, honey, tequila, lime juice, dry mustard, coriander, cumin and chile powder. Cook over low heat, whisking continuously until thickened (approximately 5 minutes); do not boil. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Stir in the lime zest and season with salt. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Soak 24 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Light a grill. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mustard to a small bowl. Thread the chicken onto the top third of the skewers; grill over moderate heat, turning, until browned and almost cooked (approximately 8 minutes). Brush the chicken with the reserved ½ cup of mustard and grill until glazed and cooked through. Serve the skewers with the remaining mustard.

Be sure to visit your local farmer’s market to get the freshest ingredients possible for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

Sleeping Habits of Some of History’s Greatest Minds

We have all heard of many geniuses staying up through the night working manically and creating masterpieces, writing prize-winning novels, and inventing amazing technologies. Or maybe you have heard the myth that you are most creative when you are tired. But are these bizarre sleeping habits really effective in creating brilliance?

In the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, by Mason Currey, Currey explores how brilliance has often been the product of a well-rested mind and not artistic all-nighters.

This New York Magazine infographic shows the typical sleeping habits of some of the world’s greatest minds

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Unfortunately, the infographic doesn’t give us any sleep-related tricks for releasing our own latent genius, other than following the traditional eight-hours-a-night rule.

So rest up and give your inner creative genius a chance to be brilliant!

 

Trouble Sleeping In A New Place? Blame It On Your Brain.

 

business travel hotel

Have you ever had trouble sleeping when you are in a new place? Do you toss and turn or easily wake when you travel or sleep somewhere other than your own bedroom? If so, you are not alone. According to a new study published in the journal “Current Biology,” it is a very normal occurrence for your first night’s sleep in new surroundings to be less than satisfactory.

Brain

Researchers at Brown University found that, similar to some animals, only half of the human brain “sleeps” the first night a person sleeps in a new environment. Research showed that the left hemisphere of the brain, the more logical and analytical side, was still actively “awake” throughout the night. The researchers believe that it is our brain’s way of “keeping watch” in unfamiliar territory. Though humans no longer worry about predators lurking in the darkness, our brains evolved during a time when that threat was very real.

So next time you are traveling or house sitting, plan accordingly, because your first night of sleep away from home will most likely not be as good as usual.

For more information, check out NPR’s article, “Half Your Brain Stands Guard When Sleeping In A New Place.”

 

 

Celebrate Earth Day

This Friday will mark the 46th year of the Earth Day movement!  Earth Day continues to inspire and ignite passion to motivate people into action to help protect our planet. There are many ways we can start incorporating eco-friendly ideas into our lives to lessen our impact on the globe. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Volunteer to pick up litter at your neighborhood park, beach, hiking trail, etc.
  2. Help evaluate the recycling system in your home and office to ensure you are using the best system possible.6881231757_3cb80f7652_b
  3. Be conscious of your energy and water usage. Turn off lights and unplug appliances when not in use, shorten showers, wash laundry in cold water, etc.
  4. Evaluate your home’s efficiency, ensure you have energy-efficient light bulbs, lower water temperature, and adjust your thermostat at least one degree lower during cold days and one degree higher on hotter days to help conserve energy.15114147602_fb7e282435_o
  5. Use reusable water bottles and coffee mugs rather than paper to-go cups or plastic bottles.DSC_0741
  6. Bring your own reusable shopping bags for groceries.
  7. Plan an unplugged night – turn off the TV, computers, laptops, cell phones,and tablets, hang out with family or friends, play games, talk, laugh, and enjoy an electronic-free night.
  8. Get outside and enjoy our planet: have a picnic, play games, garden, etc.1292399_ebf67c05

These simple ideas may not seem like they will make a big impact, but if we all incorporate them in our lives they can add up to big changes.

What changes are you planning on implementing in your life this Earth Day? Tell us in the comments below.

A Good Night’s Sleep May Keep Colds Away

Woman Suffering From Cold Lying In Bed With Tissue

Now that cold season is upon us, it is important to figure out ways that we can help limit our chances of being struck by cold germs. An easy way to decrease your risk of catching a cold or other common infections is to ensure you are getting enough sleep.

Life Science reported the results of a national sleep survey in which researchers analyzed information from more than 22,000 Americans between 2005 and 2012.  The participants answered questions about their sleeping habits, as well as whether they’d had a cold, pneumonia, or an ear infection in the past month.

The participants who slept for 5 hours or less on average weeknights were 28 percent more likely to report having a cold in the past month and 82 percent more likely to report having the flu, pneumonia, or an ear infection compared with those who slept 7 to 8 hours on weeknights.

The study did not find a link between sleeping 9 hours or more and the risk of catching a cold or an infection.

So be sure to catch 7 to 8 hours of zzz’s a night to help increase your chances of fighting off the cold bug this spring.

If those in your home still happen to catch a cold or the flu this season, there are many helpful at-home remedies to help them get through it. Visit our previous blog, Natural Remedies to Fight the Flu and Seasonal Colds, for a great list of natural options!

Put a Spring in Your Step! 4 Ways to Curb Allergies This Season

 

exclusive - allergy concept in spring

Spring is here! The sun is bright, the flowers are blooming, and I finally feel like I can venture outside again as the winter chill subsides.  Then it happens…my eyes start to water, my nose starts to itch, and all of sudden, I sneeze. Spring is definitely here and with all the beautiful blooms and lush greenery, it ushers in allergy season. Allergies are like the awkward photobomber in the background of a perfect “besties, night-on-the-town” selfie. They are just so disappointing. My days should be full of long hikes in the woods, picnics at the park, and I should not be afraid to take a long, deep breath of fresh air each time I walk outside.

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There are many ways to control your spring allergy symptoms. It usually entails going to the drugstore and perusing aisles and aisles of medications in search of the one pill or syrup that will soothe your symptoms without breaking the bank or transforming you into a character straight out of The Walking Dead. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to get relief from spring allergy symptoms, many of which have the added benefits of boosting your energy and your immune system.

Saline solution is an affordable and easily attainable natural option to combat nasal allergy symptoms. Most saline sprays are isotonic, which means the solution is the same saline concentration as in your body. It can help clear the nasal passages of mucus without harming the cilia (the little hairs in your nose that humidify air entering your lungs), trap bacteria to prevent them from entering cells, and aid your sense of smell. Using a saline spray or flushing your nasal passages with a neti pot on a regular basis can reduce inflammation and the risk of infection.

Steam is another great natural solution to spring allergy symptoms. A hot shower is probably the quickest way to clear your sinuses. You can also add a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to a bowl of hot water, cover the back of your neck and head with a towel, and breathe in the vapors. The steam helps moisturize dry nasal passages while the essential oils alleviate sinus congestion and respiratory symptoms.

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Diet can play a big role in controlling and/or eliminating allergy symptoms, as well. There are many foods with properties that can help your body rid itself of histamines. The body reacts to an allergy stimulus by releasing histamines, which can cause inflammation of the nasal tissue, runny nose and eyes, and an itchy nose or mouth. Vitamin C is a natural and gentle antihistamine. It is found in leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and most fruit. Flavinoids, especially Quercetin, are a group of plant pigments that give many fruits, vegetables, and flowers their colors. They work to block the production of histamines and eliminate them in the body. Great sources of flavinoids are citrus fruits, onions, garlic, apples, parsley, tea, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, legumes, berries, and wine. Bromelain is found in pineapples and is another great anti-inflammatory. Spicy foods, especially those with cayenne pepper or chili powder, help to reduce nasal congestion and stuffiness. Lastly, omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, grass-fed meat, flax seed oil, hemp seeds, and canola oil have many anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce allergic reactions, too.

Tea, specifically green tea, rooibos, and those containing yerba mate are good choices for allergy sufferers. A recent study in Japan showed in lab tests that EGCG, a in green tea, helped prevent allergic reactions. Rooibos tea is a naturally caffeine-free herbal tea that contains two flavinoids, rutin and quercetin, that block histamine production. Yerba mate is a South American herbal bush or tree that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce corticosteroids, which suppress autoimmune reactions in the body, decrease inflammation, and open respiratory passages. Make sure to avoid chamomile tea if you suffer from hay fever, as its properties can increase the severity of your symptoms.

Power in nature

Now you have a good list of natural ways to fight spring allergies! Don’t be afraid to enjoy the blooming trees and flowers and breathe in all the beautifully-scented air you would like. Happy Spring!