Monthly Archives: August 2016

Tips for Back to School

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…I know there are millions of parents out there feeling the exact same way I do. Why? It’s that time of year again, time for those kids to head back to school. In some parts of the country, school has been in session for several weeks already. Some even started the end of July.

College students, though aren’t quite so fortunate. The average start date across the nation is late August. Right now there are many college students buying bedding, laptops, and other electronic devices and accessories. Here’s a few tips for those headed back to class soon.

  1. 41oiFXyshXL._AC_UL480_SR480,480_Stay Motivated: It’s hard to stay motivated to study or go to class when the memories of Summer are still on the surface. Who wants to be stuck in a class room when the sun is shining outside and the thoughts of the pool are beckoning? How do you stay motivated? Here are a few suggestions. Use fun flags to mark the important items for tests or papers. These are super cute and you can find them on Amazon.Another great way is to make your notes look pretty with different colored pens and highlighters. Change colors every 10-20 minutes, or as your focus/topic changes. You’ll start to see a difference and it will make you want to study those pretty notes.
  1. organizedBe Organized: Organization is one of the best ways to get your act together and keep it together the whole semester. There are literally a ton of planners and organizational tools on the market right now. If you choose to start being a more organized person when heading to college this year, start with a planner. Get one that has plenty of room for keeping track of your activities. Write down the dates/times for those study groups, keep your goals in one place, and color code important items.
  1. college-sleepGet enough sleep. This is when you rest and recharge your body and brain. Something we all need. Late night study sessions…or parties…aren’t great for when you have class at 8 am.
  1. Resources: Know what resources are available to you and how to access them. I’m not talking about just the library and tutoring. You should have online access at this point, so don’t forget about the resources there…possible books (free?), local maps, check for discounts for being a student, transportation, and other opportunities available to you as a student. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  1. Meals for One from MagicKitchen.com, prefect for college kids
    Meals for One from MagicKitchen.com

    Food: You need some…make it healthy. The Freshman 15 (15 pounds added your Freshman year) are REAL! Parents of new Freshmen – (ok, even Seniors) we want to make sure our kids eat healthy. They will always be our kids, right? What better way for them to kick off the new school year than with a send off gift they can really appreciate? I’m not talking about a new laptop or cell phone. I mean healthy meals, delivered right to their apartment or dorm rooms. None of us want to see our kids spending either their hard earned money (or ours) on fast food. They need to eat much healthier than that in order to be able to soak up all the information they will be getting during the semester. So do them a favor and make sure they have a few healthy, “brain food” meals for the week.

Good luck this year to all college students, near and far. I wish you a happy, safe, and productive year!

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5 Food Myths Busted and/or Debunked (Your Choice)

I’ve never understood the use of “busted” and “debunked” when referring to the process of proving a previously held belief (myth) to be false.  In my youth, “busted” meant being caught by some authority figure in an act of wrongdoing, such as placing 47 “for sale” signs in the yard of a “friend” in the middle of the night while being observed by said friend’s neighbor who happened to be a local police officer.  And “debunked” sounds like the act of exiting a bunk bed, as in “When her boyfriend burst in I debunked in world record time.”…but that’s another story for another time.

Fresh produce is healthier than frozen.

wiltedActually, depending upon how long the produce has been sitting around, the exact opposite is true.  As fruits and veggies age, in a warehouse, the produce section, or in your fridge, their sugar content increases as their nutritional content declines.  So long as they are frozen soon after they’re picked, frozen veggies and fruits can actually have MORE nutritional value than those that have been languishing for days or weeks prior to being consumed.

Eggs, especially the yolks, are bad for you.

eggsActually, people have climbed out of their bunks (see: debunked above) on this one years ago.  Yes, egg yolks are high in cholesterol, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to raise your blood cholesterol levels.  Well, let me re-phrase that…studies have shown that eggs actually raise the levels of your “good” cholesterol (HDL).  They also are low in calories at around 75 and high in protein (6-8 grams).  They also contain essential amino acids as well as lutein and zeaxanthin which promote eye health, and choline which supports brain health.  So next time, go crazy and use the whole egg when making your omelet.

Oranges are the best source of vitamin C.

strawberriesLook, I’m not saying oranges aren’t a great source of vitamin C.  However, there are other, lower-calorie sources of this essential vitamin that we can’t store or produce and that supports our immune system and helps build collagen for healthier skin.  An average sized orange gives us 70 micrograms of vitamin C with 70 calories that tag along for the ride.  Compare that to these other sources that provide the same amount of vitamin C:  1 cup of Brussel sprouts (I know, they taste horrible and I cursed the Belgian city that they’re named after every time I was forced to eat them) at 40 calories; 7 strawberries at 40 calories; ½ stalk of broccoli at 25 calories; and ½ a red bell pepper at 20 calories.

Meat is bad.

brisket-saucedThis broad myth simply needs a qualifier: processed meat is bad.  Pork, beef and lamb offer complete proteins, as well as vitamin B12 which helps us build red blood cells and promotes healthy brain activity.  Studies have recently found that unprocessed lean cuts of meat present zero risk of heart disease or diabetes and in no way increase your risk of kidney disease unless you have a pre-existing condition.  So, to sum up, avoid processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, Slim Jims and deli meats such as bologna…my bologna has a first name…I’d never be able to spell it without that kid.  And consume lean cuts of meat such as eye of round and top sirloin (I dub thee Sir Loin of Beefshire) cuts of beef and pork tenderloin or loin chops.

Different types of alcohol cause a different type of “drunk.”

I swore off Southern Comfort way back in 1988 due to the fact that every time I consumed it I lost my mind (and memory) and usually woke up in a strange place with a strange person (or people) the next morning.  I was convinced that these varied humiliations had to do with neither the amount I consumed, nor the rate at which I consumed it.  It was simply the fact (myth) that Southern Comfort “…was some wicked stuff.”

As a former member of the United Kingdom’s Medical Council on Alcohol, Dr. Guy Ratcliffe, recently stated, “The effects of alcohol are similar, whichever form they come in.  Any difference is dependent on the rate at which it is drunk and the amount.”  Yes, by volume tequila contains more alcohol than red wine, but at crucial times we tend to forget that…usually to our lasting detriment.

So, don’t feel guilty about feeding frozen veggies to your kids, eat a yolk for God’s sake, realize there are other sources of vitamin C, enjoy some unprocessed red meat, and come to understand that the over indulgence of tequila or that fruity chardonnay can both cause you to awaken in a strange bath tub with all your clothes on backwards…but that’s another story for another time.

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Tomorrow is National Left-Handers Day!

Here are 5 Kitchen Tools for Left-handers

Are you a southpaw? Don’t you wish companies would take Left-handers into consideration when producing kitchen tools? Well, it looks like some have started doing just that. Some of the gadgets look pretty intriguing. The holidays are just around the corner, so making sure you have the proper tools to make your family meals easier for you to cook, is vital for kitchen success. in order to assist you a bit, here’s a list of some incredibly useful tools, toys, and gadgets – made especially for the southpaws.

  1.  4 Piece Bamboo Utensil Set – This set is from Lefty’s The Left Hand Store. I love using bamboo utensils. They are elegant and strong at the same time. There aren’t many things you can say that about. This set is specifically designed for the lefty. The ends are angled to have an ergonomic fit, making cooking easier on the hands. This set includes: 14″ Slotted Spatula, 14-1/2″ Pot-Sitter, 15″ Wok Tool, and 13″ Stir Spoon.
  2. LH Salt_Pepper  I couldn’t pass this one up. Everyone needs a salt and pepper shaker. Lefty’s has this quirky left hand that serves as a pepper mill and salt shaker. I know its not possible for these things to be specifically designated left or right handed. It’s just not every day that you see someone using a hand to season their food!
  3.  minnowHanging on for a moment longer to the odd and quirky gadgets for southpaws, I found a minnow cork screw. Yes, I said minnow. The fin even has a function. This little fish corkscrew will make opening a bottle of wine a pleasure.
  4.  Can openers…two words that used to send a left-hander running out of the kitchen pulling their hair out and screaming. Finally, there are several companies that make opening cans for southpaws a breeze. Check this one out here.
  5.  Some veggies just need to be peeled. Some fruits just need to be peeled. Now the left-handed community can do so in sheer comfort. This peeler has 3 different positions so your creative mind can peel as you please. They include vertical, horizontal, and one at a 45 degree angle.

Since I’m a right handed girl, I may have over looked an important tool that you use in the kitchen. If I did, let me know in the comments. Another thing I would love to learn about is the left handed knives. Do you use those or knives made to be ambidextrous? The comments below are open.

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The Solution for Those Who Hate Cooking in Summer

fireinpanThere’s a reason two of the more popular kitchen clichés involve the word “heat” (“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” and “That’s taking the heat out of a hot kitchen”).  And that reason is because it can get frickin’ hot in the kitchen, especially during the summer months.

Think about it…it’s 90 degrees out there with 87% humidity and you’ve got the stove cranking at 425° and two boiling pots going on the stovetop.  That combination tends to cause one to sweat their (fill in the blank) off!  The grill does offer a solution, but there’s only so much grilled meat, seafood, and veggies one can eat.  The solution, obviously, is to have some cooked meals delivered to your home via the magic of MagicKitchen.com.

Lasagna without using the oven!
Lasagna without using the oven!

Every so often, during the summer months, wouldn’t it be nice to have a delicious, non-grilled meal, already cooked, waiting for you and your family in the freezer?  You bet your a$$ it would!  No marinating, no firing up the grill or oven, no prep work, no time spent cooking in a kitchen that doubles as a sauna in summer, no worrying about over or under cooking the entrée…the “no” list goes on and on.

Beef Pot Roast dinner, just heat in microwave.
Beef Pot Roast dinner, just heat in microwave.

The only work required by you is to simply place your pre-prepared and cooked meals in the non-heat producing microwave, watch it spin for a few minutes, and then present the meal in a pleasing manner to friends and/or family.  You can then, if you so desire, simply brush off all the praise heaped upon you for spending so much time and effort in a hot kitchen to prepare such an awesome meal…or you could simply tell them our little secret… cooked meals delivered from MagicKitchen.com

Custless Spinach Quiche
Crustless Spinach Quiche

MagicKitchen offers quite a variety of foods not usually eaten during summer, but are still missed none-the-less.  Sure, August is a great time for summer salads and grilled salmon, but there’s only so many summer salads and grilled cuts of fish one person can eat.  How about a nice change of pace with an appetizing Stuffed Peppers with Marinara Sauce, or Chicken Marsala, or crab cakes, or lasagna, or crustless spinach quiche?  And best of all, they come right to your door, frozen and ready to enjoy after a few minutes in the microwave.  Simply check out MagicKitchen.com’s extensive cooked meals delivered menu, select what appeals to you and then wait for the FedEx truck to deliver your delectable dinners all while not sweating your (fill in the blank with a different body part from the first fill in the blank) in a tropical kitchen!

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