Monthly Archives: July 2015

TO SLOW COOKER, OR NOT TO SLOW COOKER?

Pretty sure the dream is to ‘set it and forget it’ just like whatever infomercial that comes from says. The slow cooker, around for as long as I can remember, does just that. Only I have only JUST started using it in my life after experiencing some Facebook jealousy from a mother of 4 who repeatedly posts her delicious looking slow cooker recipes/results.

I get almost all of my recipes just from browsing around the internet, and I’ve found 5 that have really stuck with me and have become household favorites. Sharing them with you today! Don’t forget that slow cookers are not only easy meals, but can be extremely low cost + frozen for later use.

1) 15 Bean Soup [http://www.theyummylife.com/Slow_Cooker_15_Bean_Soup]

The Yummy Life absolutely crushes it with this soup. It can be tweaked to be vegetarian OR vegan, and no matter how you make this, I always feel healthy having it as a meal. Reheats perfectly as leftovers or even frozen. Just a small bowl keeps you full! Check out the nutritional facts they’ve provided:

Nutritional Information. The beans and veggies in this soup make it a meal that is loaded with nutrients. It is high in fiber, manganese, magnesium, potassium, thiamin, vitamin C, & iron. It is very high in vitamin A with 100% of the daily requirement in a single serving. Here’s the nutritional breakdown for 1 cup of this hearty soup:

  • With ham and chicken broth. 175 calories, 2g fat, 381mg sodium, 27.4g carbs, 6.8g fiber, 3.8g sugars, 11.8g protein. Weight Watchers Points Plus: 4.
  • Without ham and using vegetable broth. 160 calories, 2g fat, 331mg sodium, 30.3g carbs, 7.6g fiber, 4.5g sugars, 8.9g protein. Weight Watchers Points Plus: 4.
    15_bean_soup

    15 Bean Soup [theyummylife.com]

2) Spicy Slow Cooker Beef Chili [http://www.chow.com/recipes/30669-spicy-slow-cooker-beef-chili]

Chow.com provides an absolutely delicious recipe for beef chili – a staple in our household and the ultimate comfort food. It’s low cost using dried beans and can be made healthier using a ground turkey (I’ve even done a crumbled tofu!) and keeps you filled up and satisfied. Another great recipe to freeze or reheat!

spicy_beef_chili

Spicy Beef Chili [chow.com]

3) Macaroni and Cheese (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/crockpot-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe.html)

Trisha Yearwood with Food Network provides the ULTIMATE comfort food made with a slow cooker with this one. It’s so easy to make a quick box of macaroni and cheese, or even bake one in a casserole dish, but I can promise you that this is worth the wait! I’m not even going to pretend this is a healthy recipe, but what I can tell you is that it’s absolutely delicious and a sure win crowd pleaser.

macaroni_and_cheese

Macaroni and Cheese [http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/crockpot-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe.html]

4) Bolognese Sauce [http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-slow-cooked-bolognese-sauce-recipes-from-the-kitchn-69968]

The Kitchn is a go-to for recipes in my life. Bolognese sauce is a really easy recipe – ground beef + tomato sauce = that’s it. The Kitchn boasts that there is really something special that comes of an all-day, slow cooked sauce; causing the beef to become incredibly tender and all the flavors infusing into one glorious sauce. After trying this one, I can’t disagree – it’s incredible. Throw it on some pasta, or, a healthier option – add it to spaghetti squash and bake (amazing!). Make a huge batch and freeze it for later use – you won’t regret it!

bolognese_sauce

Bolognese Sauce [http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-slow-cooked-bolognese-sauce-recipes-from-the-kitchn-69968]

5) Chicken and Dumplings [http://www.budgetsavvydiva.com/2012/03/crock-pot-chicken-dumplings-recipe/]

Growing up in the South, it’s hard to make something more down home than Chicken and Dumplings. Budget Savvy Diva not only takes into account cost, but provides a melt-in-your-mouth experience with this one. Perfect recipe for a ready to serve dinner for the family.

chicken_and_dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings [pillsbury.com]

Happy slow cooking! Enjoy!

America’s Better Sandwich

Stumbled upon a pretty awesome contest just now: America’s Better Sandwich.

Arnold/Brownberry/Orowheat’s promotion is rooted in the fact that they think the best part of any sandwich is their bread, but that what a consumer puts between the slices is what makes the big difference. They want to know what you put on your sandwich, and with what bread for an opportunity to win $25,000.

They’re looking for truly ‘better’ sandwiches, which not only means their appeal, but also their healthfulness. Pro tips: they’ll be looking strongly at whole grains, fibers, fresh, home-roasted meats + plant based proteins, veggies, herbs, and natural condiments.

I went through the process, and honestly, it’s really simple! If you’re as passionate about your sandwiches as I am, you might as well enter! You simply go through a quick registration process (or sign up via Facebook), pick which bread your sandwich would work best on, and describe it in detail. There’s even an option to upload a picture of it for further insight. Show them your stuff! Are they ready for the best spin ever on avocado toast? One upping a PBJ? Let them be the judge for your chance to win, and if nothing else, boast your mad sandwich making skillz.

As Liz Lemon once boldly stated, “Can I share with you my worldview? All of humankind has one thing in common: the sandwich. I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich.” Preach.

Sign up here.

Woot!

I’ve been following Woot! for awhile now – I unsubscribed from their emails awhile back, so I fell off a bit in terms of purchasing items from them, but once in awhile I visit the site (like today) and remember how awesome it is.

Woot! offers multiple daily deals in short-term sales across 11 different categories:

  • Home
  • Electronics
  • Computers
  • Tools & Garden
  • Sport
  • Accessories & Watches
  • Kids
  • Shirts
  • Wine
  • Sellout
  • Side Deals

There’s certainly no shortage of options, just a shortage of time. Most deals only run for 24 hours, so it capitalizes on users making a quick decision on whether or not they want a product. Once you commit, you are really committed. Woot! only accepts returns for damaged and defective items, not for personal reasons or ‘buyer’s remorse’.

Who wouldn’t want a Mood Shirt, featured today?

Mood Shirt

Mood Shirt [woot.com]

All kidding aside, there’s some awesome stuff on here. Just looking today, I see at least 5 things I want…I should probably get off the site now…haha!

My suggestion to  you: get on their email list for categories you are most likely to need items from, and get a daily overview on what the offerings are.

Check it out here.

FREE Arm&Hammer™ Toothpaste Sample!

Every time I go to the dentist I get a lecture about two things:

1) Flossing

2) Enamel protection

Flossing, this can’t help you much with. Frankly, I’m not sure what will help me remember to floss daily.

Enamel protection, at least this exists to make things easier. I drink a lot of lemon tea/water and coffee – it’s important to understand that this dulls down your enamel and can be potentially dangerous. Some toothpastes may be able to help prevent this.

With this, I tell you to check out Arm&Hammer’s™ Truly Radiant Rejuvenating Toothpaste enhanced with a refreshing twist of mint. This toothpaste is said to go beyond whitening the surface to strengthen, clean, and repair tooth enamel in just 5 days!

arm_and_hammer_truly_radiant

Truly Radiant

Get your free sample here.

#NationalJunkFoodDay

Just noticed it’s #nationaljunkfoodday. So soon after Sunday’s #nationalicecreamday? Here’s some healthier hacks for some of my personal favorite junky foods. Enjoy!

1. Nachos

I recently discovered that homemade tortilla chips are not only SUPER easy to make, but also (in my opinion) tastier AND much healthier. You should be able to find uncooked corn tortillas in your local grocery store. Simply quarter the circles, spray some Pam on a cooking sheet, lay down the quarters, spray some Pam on top, and then season to your liking. For me, a little bit of salt was enough. Pop them in the oven at 400, and keep an eye on them, you’ll notice when they’re done. Voila, chips. Add your favorite healthy toppings! My favorites? Black beans, avocado, plain Greek yogurt, and pickled jalapenos. Miss cheese? Luckily, when you make your own nachos, you’re in control of the type and amount you put on – go for it!

healthy_nachos

Healthy Nachos

2. Pizza

When it comes down to it, there is really no replacement for junky, cheesy, oily pizza. BUT, you can find similar satisfaction with cauliflower crust pizza, I promise. It’s a lot to type out and explain, so check out my favorite cauliflower pizza recipe here. Eat an entire one to yourself and don’t even TRY to feel guilty about it.

cauliflower_crust_pizza

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

3. Soda

Personally, I gave up soda years ago. I was a hardcore Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper aficionado and I never, ever thought I’d be able to last. I replaced my diet sodas with flavored seltzer water and lemon water, and honestly, I rarely miss it. I love seltzer water so much that I’m looking into a soda stream to make my own. Does anyone have experience with one? Please share!

soda_stream

Soda Stream

4. Dessert

All of them. I love all of them. It’s really difficult to eat a piece of fruit and claim it fills the void of dessert. Here’s some links to recipes that I find are at least healthier for a sweet tooth:

Hummingbird Muffins/Cupcakes – these are awesome. Chockfull of fruits and nuts (use whole wheat flour to be even healthier) these are all the pleasure without as much guilt. Top with a whipped cream cheese if you want some icing!

Banana Ice Cream – one ingredient. You read that right! You’ll need a food processor, and that’s about it.

Cool Whip Sandwiches – I’ll always remember this as the greatest Weight Watchers recipe EVER! It couldn’t be easier and it’s absolutely fantastic.

dessert

Dessert

Are Beanie Babies Worth Anything?

If your storage area looks anything like mine, there are at least 3 plastic bins full of Ty’s Beanie Babies, all tags still on. Beanie Babies were THE collectible to have in the 90’s, and I’ll never forget racing to the store each time a new ‘class’ dropped to make sure that I had them all. And the rare/exclusive ones? Don’t even get me started how much were paid for those ‘have to have thems’.

At this point, the toys hold no sentimental value and are just taking up space, and I’m considering selling them on eBay. Before I pull the trigger, I took to some research around the internet to see if this was worth my time, and the information was so interesting that I’d like to share it with all of you readers!

The bad news: the mass produced, common Beanie Babies really aren’t worth much. This pricing guide let me know that these are generally only worth $0.50-$1 apiece [https://bernurban.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/beanie-babies-value-guide/]. IMO, still worth selling them to clear up some space and make some easy cash.

The good news: if you have ‘rare’ Beanie Babies, you’re in business. Thefiscaltimes.com recently released an article noting the most valuable Beanie Babies – it’s SHOCKING! Check them out here, and listed below:

  • Employee Bear – $2,000-$3,000
  • Mystic the Unicorn – $1,800-$3,000
  • Chef Robuchon – $1,500-$2,500
  • #1 The Bear – $1,500-$2,000
  • Hong Kong Toy Fair 2010 – $800-$1,500
  • Patti the Platypus – $600-$1,500
  • MC Beanie – $500-1,500
  • Humphrey – $500-$1,200
  • Spot – $500-$1,100
  • Coral Casino – $500-$1,000
  • Peanut – $475-$700
  • Squealer – $400-$900
  • Teddy – $400-$900
  • Legs – $400-$750
  • Teddy (magenta) – $375-$900

Talk about a payday! Always check your specific Beanie Babies if you think it is a rare one – and if the tags and quality are intact? Even better.

FREE Sample – Palmer’s Cocoa Butter

You’ve probably seen this around the stores and breezed past it. Breeze past no more, this stuff is legit.

I’ve been absolutely addicted to their Cocoa Butter Swivel Stick since college, and since, have been experimenting with a lot of their other products, and they are all up to snuff.

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula was introduced to the Australian market in 1997 – the company is now worldwide and committed to continually creating affordable skincare products that WORK. They emphasize cocoa butter, shea butter, olive butter, and coconut oil. They’re entirely cruelty free.

Check them out now by simply filling out a form here.

Chipotle: Friend or Faux?

And what a beautiful morning it is – BOGO Chipotle, ya’ll.

chipotle

Chipotle

Friend or Faux is Chipotle’s latest marketing campaign. It’s a game designed to let customers learn about the difference between Chipotle’s ingredients & the ones commonly used in other fast food chains.

You can choose your favorite Chipotle menu item and another fast food chain item. You then get quizzed on ~20 ingredients and you have to choose which restaurant contains X ingredient. There are no penalties for getting answers incorrect – it’s simply a learning experience. At the end of the quiz, you get to see your score and a complete breakdown of the ingredients in each menu item. The value is here. It’s wildly jarring to see 100% “friendly ingredients” in Chipotle and not only less “friendly ingredients” in other fast food restaurants but also over 50% “faux ingredients”.

Wondering what classifies as a “faux ingredient”? Here’s some in a “bean burrito” from a “fast food chain” – I think we can all guess which.

  • Artificial Flavor – A chemical mixture that mimics a natural flavor but is derived from synthetic sources, rather than natural sources like plants or animals.
  • Caramel Color – Food coloring. Brown-colored substance made by heating sugar of any type (for example, corn syrup). Can be processed with ammonia and sulfur to intensify color. Used to intensify brown color in foods like beer, bread, buns, chocolate, cookies, coatings, desserts, gravy, pancakes, sauces, soft drinks (especially colas), and alcoholic beverages.
    [Adapted from AN A-Z GUIDE TO FOOD ADDITIVES © 2009 by Deanna M. Minich, Ph.D. Published by Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.]
  • Gelatin – Emulsifier, gelling agent, stabilizer, and thickener. Protein extracted by heating collagen found in bones, hide, hooves, connective tissues, and organs of animals (pigs, cows, fish, horses). Found in dry gelatin desserts, sausage casings, ice cream, and beverages.
    [Adapted from AN A-Z GUIDE TO FOOD ADDITIVES © 2009 by Deanna M. Minich, Ph.D. Published by Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.]
  • Natural Flavor – Obtained by physical processes that may result in unavoidable but unintentional changes in the chemical structures of the components of the flavorings. Natural flavoring complexes include the essential oil, essence, or extractive, protein hydrolysate distillate, or any product of roasting, heating, or enzyme action.
    [Adapted from A CONSUMER’S DICTIONARY OF FOOD ADDITIVES, 7th ED. © 2009 by Ruth Winter, M.S. Published by Three Rivers Press/Penguin Random House LLC.]

To name a few.

Grossed out yet? I sure was. I guess that’s the point of this promotion!

So after you finish the quiz and are successfully anti-all fast food besides Chipotle, you simply enter your first + last name and your mobile #. You’re texted and asked to opt into Chipotle tweets (promised no more than 4 a month, and can unsubscribe at any time) and then you are texted a coupon for a BOGO (buy one, get one) free offer for a burrito, bowl, salad, or order of tacos. Additionally, you’re entered into a sweeps drawing, where 50 people will get Chipotle for you AND a friend for a YEAR.

Hurry and sign up! This one’s hot!

Chipotle Friend or Faux

If You’re Paying Full Price at LOFT, You’re Doing it Wrong

Hey Savers! As my work day dies down and I check my personal email, I realized I hadn’t let you in on one of my favorite stores to save at: LOFT.

LOFT EMAILS

A screenshot of my inbox, searching LOFT

LOFT is a high quality store, providing any woman clothes for her life of leisure or the workplace – it’s immensely versatile, which is why it’s one of my favorites.

An additional reason why it’s one of my top picks is because they are nonstop sending me awesome deals. Whether the deal is online, in-stores only, or ‘limited time’, I can always rely on LOFT almost DAILY to have huge savings for me.

They discount both their new items AND their clearance section so regularly that I feel confident in saying: If you are paying full price at LOFT, you’re doing it wrong.

Sign up for their mailing list today to become a LOFT Insider and make sure you don’t miss out on any of their incredible savings: Sign Up!

FREE Sample of L’Oreal Advanced Haircare

Another gem today!

loreal_advanced_hair_care

The NEW L’Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Collection. (PRNewsFoto/L’Oreal Paris)

I’m not too picky about what shampoo and conditioner I buy for my family, but I definitely know what I prefer and do not prefer. Today I stumbled upon L’Oreal Advanced Haircare samples.

They allow you to select your main hair concern:

  • Frequently Straightened Hair
  • Damaged, Overprocessed Hair
  • Color Treated Hair
  • Normal or Dull Hair

From here, they’ll send you a free sample that works best for your needs, just for filling out a form!

I may find my new favorite today…

Check it out here!