Giving up Soda & Drinking more Water Part 2

It has been one week without soda and I am feeling great! I have had a couple soda cravings and a few caffeine headaches but overall I feel my body thanking me already. I already feel rejuvenated and “clean” after drinking water and juices instead of sodas. I have found that trying to avoid seeing soda and thinking about it prevents me from craving it. I have also been trying to keep water in arms reach at all times.

I have done a few things this week that have helped me really focus on drinking more water. Here are my water drinking hacks that might be able to help you drink more water as well.

• I read an article a while ago about how setting goals each day helps you achieve your goals, so I set a specific goal each day. I made sure I set the goals realistically and had points throughout the day to make sure I consumed water periodically instead of at one time.

• I bought a new water bottle that had a center compartment for fruits, veggies, or herbs so I can drink infused water. I am not a huge fan of plan water, I like to have a little flavor but keep it healthy. I have wanted an infusion water bottle for a while so this was the perfect time to infuse my life with some new excitement.🙂 I also made sure that it had measuring lines so I knew how much I was drinking and how long it took me to drink it.

• When I wasn’t drinking out of my fancy new water bottle, I drank out of a glass and straw. I think that drinking out of a straw makes you drink more because you don’t realize how much you are gulping down.

• I also tried to eat some water based foods this week like cucumbers, grapefruits, watermelon, and salad greens. I think that eating foods that are high in water content helps with keeping on track for the goal set earlier in the day. Clara downloaded an app on my phone to keep track of my water intake and calculates how much water is in the food I am eating.

• I am not going to lie, I really was craving a soda so instead of caving in I mixed juice with sparkling water. I know it still isn’t as good as plain water but it did a good job fighting off my craving. I used 100% fruit juice and lemon sparkling water, it actually tasted great.

I think that I am really going to be happy with this choice to give up soda. After just one week, I already feel better and I am sure once my body fully adjusts it will get even better.

Have you tried giving up soda? What do you find helped you the most?

Until Next Time,

Nancy

Giving Up Soda for Good

I have decided today I am going to give up soda for good. I have really limited my soda intake over the past year or so, but every time I allow myself to have one I immediately regret it and end up paying for it. I love the taste of a fresh diet coke in the afternoon, but the coke doesn’t like me. I always end up feeling bloated and unhealthy. There are so many positives about giving up soda, I really need to commit and I know I will be successful.

Even though I don’t drink soda often, it costs money that I don’t need to be spending. I saw a statistic once that if you drink just one soda a day it costs about $365 a year. I could use that money to treat myself or spend it on something healthier.

Not that I needed much motivation to stop drinking soda, I found some great reasons why giving up soda is great for you and your attitude. If you are a soda drinker, maybe you will find a few reasons why life can be better without soda.

• Giving up soda might actually help you live longer. Because of the high sugar content in soda, it causes you to age faster similar to cigarettes…yes, cigarettes. Reading this really made me want to give up soda and hydrate on fabulous free water.

• Soda has been connected to childhood obesity….not that I am a child but still very interesting, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, and gout. As an aging woman, I want to keep my body as healthy as possible to prolong my active life.

• It is known that soda is not good for your teeth because of the high sugar content, but the acid is also damaging to your smile. The acid causes your teeth’s enamel to erode and leave your teeth vulnerable to other health problems.

• We have all heard of vegetable oil, but have you heard about brominated vegetable oil? It is a chemical banned in Europe and Japan because it is used as a flame retardant and is linked to memory loss, nerve disorders, and behavioral health problems. Brominated vegetable oil is used in sodas like Mountain Dew and other fruity flavored sodas.

• Water is cheaper than sodas, better for you, and will actually hydrate you. I don’t need much more convincing.

I am excited to finally give up soda for good. Having a few sodas during week has been hindering me to live the healthy lifestyle I want to live. I don’t think it will be that difficult giving it up because there are so many other options that are better. Wish me luck!

Until Next Time,

Nancy

A Panini Garage Sale Find – with recipes!

Yesterday while I was running some errand after work I happened to stop at a garage sale near my house. (I think my friend’s garage sale frenzy got into me🙂 ) I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular, but there was a brand new Panini maker for sale for $5!

It was still in the box and never used! Being the woman I am, I had to get it. It was such a good deal I couldn’t pass it up.

I used to have a Panini maker many years ago and made sandwiches on it all time. I couldn’t wait to get back into my Panini kick. Before I went home, I turned around and when to the grocery store to get some ingredients for my favorite Panini’s. When I got home I took it out of the box to make sure it still worked and was in good quality; and luckily for me, it was! I decide to make my favorite red pepper pesto grilled cheese Panini and to make a little Panini bar for dinner.

It was so hard decided what Panini’s to make but I narrowed it down to a Caprese grilled panini, BLT, and—- , I knew my husband would love them. I made them small so that we could try all of them. :D Here are my favorite Panini recipes.

Who doesn’t love a Caprese Grilled Panini?

Ingredients-
• 2 slices of bread
• ½ tomato, sliced
• ½ cup mozzarella cheese
• 4 tbsp. pesto
• 2 tsp. olive oil
• Black pepper to taste

Instructions-
• Brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil then spread the pest on the other side of both slices. On one slice sprinkle mozzarella on top of the pesto, top with the tomato slices, and add pepper.
• Form the sandwich and place in the Panini maker until the cheese is melted and warmed through.

The best BLT you will ever have-

Ingredients-
• 2 slices of bread
• 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, sliced
• 1 tomato, chopped
• 1 egg, fried
• ½ cup spinach
• 2 slices turkey bacon, cooked
• ¼ cup mayonnaise
• ½ tsp. hot sauce

Instructions-
• Mix the hot sauce and mayonnaise in small bowl. Spread on the slices of bread, add the turkey bacon, tomato, avocado, spinach, and egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
• Place in Panini maker and grill until the bread is toasted, enjoy!

And my special Big Green Panini

Ingredients-
• 2 slices of ciabatta bread
• 2-3 tbsp. basil pesto
• 4 slices or sharp cheddar cheese
• 3-4 slices of green pepper
• 3-4 slices of green zucchini squash
• 1 handful of kale
• 1 handful of sprouts

Instructions-
• In a pan sauté the bell pepper, zucchini, and kale for about 5 minutes.
• Spread the pesto on the slices of bread, layer with cheese, bell pepper, zucchini, and kale. Top with the sprouts and place in the Panini maker for until crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Enjoy!

If you have a Panini maker you will understand my love for them and how many creations you can make. I am so excited I found one for such a good deal and can make Panini’s for days again!🙂

Until Next Time,

Nancy

4th of July Fun!

Happy Fourth of July! This year with the fourth landing on a Monday, all of our parties and fireworks were on weekend. We were pretty busy the last weekend so, today will be nice just hanging out and relaxing on the day off. We attended two fabulous Fourth of July parties at my husband’s coworker’s home and my sisters. It was a really fun weekend party hopping and helping my sister decorate and cook for her barbecue.
happy-independence-day

My sister asked if I would help her decorate and make some of the food, of course I said yes. Over the past year or so I have really become quite the party decorator. It is always fun when I get to spend time with my sister, especially when it is something I am better at than her.

We came up with some simple party decoration ideas that wouldn’t cost a lot of money and were simple enough to keep the party relaxed. I had these big red and white buckets from a party I had a while ago for Bobby that we made into coolers for the drinks. We just filled them up with ice and put the pop in them. I also made cute little vases with red and white tulips for the tables. Tulips are very clean and crisp flowers that worked perfect for what my sister was going for. My sister insisted on using overhanging lights with red and blue bulbs to really give it a cozy feeling. It ended up looking very cute and patriotic.

After we decided on the decorations and got them all hung up and situated we began our kitchen fun! My sister assigned me to making desserts and snacky foods, my favorite. I made the cutest American flag fruit pizza, it look fabulous and tasted even better. I also made a grape salad, frozen watermelon drinks, and fresh salsa. Here are my super easy recipes I used for my Fourth of July concoctions.

Easy Grape Salad
easy-grape-saladIngredients-
• 1 lbs. seedless green grapes, stems removed, washed and halved
• 1 lbs. seedless red grapes
• 1, 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese
• 1, 7 oz. jar marshmallow crème
• 1, 6 oz. package of almonds, chopped or slivered

Instructions-
• Stir the cream cheese and marshmallow crème together until smooth and creamy. Add the grapes to the mixture and stir in. Fold in the almonds and stir until grapes and almonds are coated with the cream cheese mixture.
• Serve chilled, enjoy!

Frozen Watermelon Drinkseasy-watermelon-drink
Ingredients-
• 4 cups seedless watermelon chunks
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 lemon, juiced

Instructions-
• Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor and puree until smooth. Pout into a pan and freeze, about 1 hour. Rake the mixture with a fork and freeze for another hour, and repeat one more time. Then rake and serve in cups for a delicious refreshing watermelon drink, Enjoy!

Very Easy Salsa easy-salsa
Ingredients-
• 4 large tomatoes, diced
• ¼ cup chopped white onion
• 3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
• 2 tsp. jalapeno, minced
• 1 ½ tsp. fresh lime juice
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• Salt to taste

Instructions-
• Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors mix, and enjoy!

Hope you had a fabulous Fourth of July “pre-weekend!”

Until Next Time,

Nancy

Happy Father’s Day

happy-fathers-dayHappy Father’s Day to all the daddy’s out there! I think it is important to celebrate our mothers and fathers everyday but especially on these days. Bobby and Clara got their father the greatest gift imaginable last year, so I had no idea how they would be able to top that. I don’t know how they did it, but they came up with a great idea that their father absolutely loved.

Last year we got him a brand new infrared grill and a cookbook and he was the most surprised I have ever seen him. Bobby and Clara are so cleaver and good at surprising both of us. This year I helped them brain storm a little but let them take the reins. We decided since we went with such a huge gift last year, we are going to keep the gift thoughtful and more realistic.

To go along with last year’s gift, Bobby and Clara wanted to get him some new grill tools. I thought it was such a good idea. They found a good deal on a grilling set and got him some “man” spices and sauces that he can use.

This morning we made him breakfast in bed and brought the paper up to him. Bobby and Clara always laugh at the little things that make their father so happy. It is just a reminder to them that it is the little things that really matter.

Because it is Father’s Day and we usually always cook for him, he told us last week that he wants to grill a big juicy steak his way. He is so funny sometimes. I am sure he will love his gift and the spices and sauces and will use them for dinner. Obviously we weren’t opposed to that, it makes it easier for us.

It is going to be a great rest of the afternoon spending Father’s Day relaxing and then having my husband grill dinner😀
Happy Father’s Day!
Nancy

Arts and Craft Show with the girls

arts-and-crafts-show-2Today I went to my first craft show in many, many years! It was a fun girl’s day scooping out all the cute new crafts for the summer and Fourth of July. We all met up at my house this morning, had our cup of coffee for all the energy we needed to take on the crazy ladies at the craft show.🙂
Half the fun at craft shows is laughing at all the funny and interesting crafts for sale. All of us spent a good chunk of the afternoon laughing so hard we were crying. Some of the things people come up with…I have no words to describe…haha I forgot how much fun craft shows are especially if you are with your girlfriends.

A few of my friends bought a couple little crafts but I only bought a beautiful cold porcelain mermaid.

I use craft shows to get ideas how to make my own. Although I am not really a creative or crafty person, I have been getting more ambitions when it comes to crafts and décor.

arts-and-crafts-show-4

Thanks to my work at the floral shop I have been channeling my inner crafter. I got some really cute ideas for the Fourth of July parties we are working and some cute summer decorations I can make for my home. I can’t wait to start making them.

When we finally finished roaming around the arts and craft show isles we made our way to a nice little restaurant nearby. My friends are the best, they are crazy. You would have thought that we were a bunch of teenage girls giggling and chatting away at the restaurant. Having such a great group of friends keeps me smiling and feeling young!

Today was such a fun day, but I am exhausted! We did so much walking around and laughing I feel like I just got done with a tough work out. Between dancing at the wedding last weekend and walking all around the craft show this weekend, I have been finding really fun ways to exercise and have a great time!🙂

arts-and-crafts-show

Until Next Time,
Nancy

Love Your Empty Nest

coffee-with-friends

I went to coffee with a few of my girlfriends today to catch up.  It had been quite some time since we all got together and shared a little gossip.  :)

One of my friends became an empty nester a few months ago, after her son moved out after finding a job in Minnesota.  She has been having a difficult time dealing with the new home situation and was asking me how I did it.

There is no doubt it is difficult but finding happiness and inner strength are the first steps to loving the new empty nest.

Like I have said before, the first couple months are the most trying but once you discover how to handle the change it is like a breath of fresh air.  I found it really helpful to make sure I remembered that I was never actually alone, my kids were a phone call away, I had my loving husband, and even then I always had myself.  I rediscovered how wonderful and exciting I actually am.

It might sound a little conceded, spending so much “me time” but it is the perfect time to do it; there is no one you need to tend to.  Spending time alone is a great way to rediscover your interests and old hobbies.  It might seem daunting spending time alone and letting your mind wonder, but occupy yourself with a book or something that interests you.

being-alone-not-lonely

“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone.  You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.”- Oscar Wilde

I used my new found free time to appreciate the silence, read as many books as I could, Pinterest binge, found a new hobby and career, and dream about the possibilities to do with my free time.  By spending time actually doing things I enjoyed and finding new ways to enjoy life I became an even happier person and a better mother.  My kids have noticed my new ambition and really help me thrive in my new lifestyle.

mama hen never empty nest syndromeI know from firsthand experience that becoming an empty nester is hard, but everything gets better in time.  When I found new hobbies and began a new health journey my mindset completely changed.  When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Just like I told my friend I will tell you, YOU CAN DO IT!🙂 I believe in all of you!

Until Next Time,

Nancy

 

Healthy Breakfasts

It is so easy to rush out the door on a busy day and forget about eating breakfast. My husband enjoys his sleep and somehow always seems to be rushing out the door without breakfast. I believe that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. It has always been one of my favorite but after doing some reading a while ago, I found out it really is one of the most important meals of the day. A healthy morning meal gives you energy to start your day, satisfy your appetite, and set you up for good food choices all day. Skipping breakfast can make you overeat later in the day, and nobody wants to do that.
I always make sure I have enough time for breakfast in the morning and try to make sure my husband does too. He even tells me when he has a good breakfast with carbs, fiber, and protein he feels better and is more productive. So breakfast should be a “no brainer” to him; but only if I make it.

This morning I made healthy eggs with salmon and asparagus and my husband couldn’t thank me enough. I thought I would share some of the easy, I mean really easy, breakfast ideas my husband and I love.

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon and Asparagus

scrambled-eggs-breakfast

Ingredients-
• ½ tbsp. butter
• 4 stalks asparagus, chopped into small pieces
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 4 eggs
• 1 tbsp. fat-free milk
• 2-4 oz. smoked salmon, chopped
Instructions-
• Heat the butter in large nonstick pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted add the asparagus and sauté until tender and season with salt and pepper.
• In a bowl, crack the eggs into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, and whisk with milk. Add to the asparagus pan and turn the heat to low and cook the eggs until they become firm. Remove from heat and fold in the salmon.
• (My husband like to put it in a pita if he is taking it to go) or serve on a plate and enjoy!

Cheesy Mushroom Scramble

breakfast

Ingredients-
• 3 eggs
• ½ cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
• 1 oz. shredded mozzarella
Instructions-
• In a bowl, crack the eggs and whisk to break the yolks, add the mushrooms and cheese. Pour into a greased pan and scramble until firm. Enjoy!

 

Breakfast Burritos

 

burritos-egg-breakfast

Ingredients-
• 4 egg whites
• 2 whole wheat tortillas
• ¼ cup fat-free cheese, your preference
• ¼ cup rinsed canned black beans
• Salsa to taste, or tomatoes and onions
Instructions-
• Scramble the egg whites in a greased frying pan. Place the cooked eggs in the tortillas, sprinkle the cheese over the eggs, heat beans if desired and sprinkle over eggs and cheese. Roll the tortilla into a wrap and microwave for about 30 seconds.
• Spoon salsa or tomatoes and onions to top, and enjoy!
Making breakfast doesn’t have to take hours or even more than 20 minutes. I believe that some good nutrition in the morning sets the platform for the entire day. With my crazy cravings, making sure I subconsciously eat a healthy and filling breakfast I know I will have a healthy day ahead.

How do you start your day with a healthy breakfast?

Until Next Time,

Nancy

Feeling Grateful this Easter (+ Helpful Tips for Empty Nest Parents)

Happy Easter everyone! I woke up this morning feeling grateful for this incredible life I am living. Bobby and Clara came home on Friday and have kept us laughing since they stepped through the door. Every time they come home it is like they never left; but they have and we have all grown and become even closer as a family. Mornings like these make me forget all the difficult times I had when they moved out, and remember how happy I am to have two incredible children.

There was a time when I wondered if I could ever be as happy as I was when both kids lived under our roof; I found that happiness again. Looking back at how far I have come makes me feel proud of being the mother, wife, and individual I am.

raising-children-you-will-miss-that
If you have ever gone through empty nest syndrome you know the questions that run through your head the first couple months. Will I ever be as happy? Will they come back? How will I fill the empty space? Just know that if I can get through it and come out stronger, you can too! Look at all the positive things in your life and find happiness in all the new possibilities.

Here are a few ways I found a new kind of happiness in my empty nest.

empty-nest-nancy

Ways to find Happiness in your empty nest

1. There is time to rediscover yourself and your old talents. Find a new hobby that you have wanted to try but didn’t have enough time to do.
2. Make a list of things you love doing, and do them! Cooking, reading, start exercising, gardening, do what you love! You will have time to do it without distractions.
3. Have you always dreamed of visiting a new city? GO! My romantic getaway to New York City was the most incredible time of my life. It was like my husband and I were newlyweds living in the big city.
4. Make plans with your friends. When you are running around with your kid’s plans, it is easy to forget about your own friends. Host a barbeque or go out for a few drinks on your schedule.
5. Call your children and tell them how proud you are of them. It will not only make them feel good, you feel closer to them as well. You have given them all the tools they need to succeed, now it is time for them to make their own mark on this world.
Becoming an empty nester is difficult, but in the long run you will become an even better mother to your children. When you take time to rediscover yourself, things you never thought possible become a reality. It took several months to find my own happiness, it doesn’t happen overnight but once you find it, everything is so worth it.

happy-easterToday I am very grateful for such wonderful children, a loving husband, and the beautiful life I live. I hope everyone has an incredible Easter!

Until Next Time,
Nancy

Feeling Ill after busy weeks

After these busy, busy weeks I am feeling a little under the weather. I have never had so much fun working and learning so much than I did over Valentine’s Day weekend. But running around like crazy has affected my immune system and made me feel ill.

Since my epiphany a while ago about natural remedies, I have been searching for different ways to nix illnesses before they happen. There are so many options that can help you feel better that are all natural and help you in the long run.

Here are some natural remedies you probably already have in your house that can help treat a cold or the flu.
• Not only does garlic make everything taste wonderful, it is a powerhouse natural antibiotic, antibacterial, and antifungal. It really is a super food! I use garlic very often but for potent illness fighting, mince 1-2 cloves and let them float in a small glass of water and drink it quickly. It might not taste the best, but it will help.
• Hot liquids have been a natural remedy for many years. But I swear by hot herbal teas and lemon water at the first sign of a cold. The herbs and lemon help amp up your immune system and kick that cold out. There are many herbs that are known to fight specific infections and illnesses like nettle leaf, ginger, chamomile, peppermint, and catnip.

 

tea-for-flu

• Cinnamon is good for stabilizing blood sugar and is also an antiviral and antibiotic. I like making cinnamon tea using cinnamon and honey. I find that it helps with coughing, scratchy throats, and congestion.
• Staying hydrated is key to fight an illness. If you have a fever it is extremely important to stay hydrated by drinking water and teas. Getting enough rest is also necessary. When your body is running in high trying to fight off whatever you have, it is important to get a few extra hours of rest to help your body reboot.
I know that WebMD is not the most reliable source for health related issues but there is a lot of information that helps initiate a search for reliable sources. The article 8 Tips to Treat Colds and Flu the ‘Natural’ Way, is a great place to start gathering natural remedy information.
Do you have a secret recipe or herb to help feel better when you are ill? I would love to hear more and try new natural ways to treat illnesses.
Until Next Time,
Nancy