Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thumbs up and down to Oscar Mayer

Thumbs up: It is very hard to find nitrate-free hot dogs at the "regular" grocery store, much less at a reasonable price. I was in a for a nice surprise today at Food Lion - nitrate free Oscar Mayer hot dogs, and the turkey variety was only $1.99/pack! (The Angus variety were $4+/pack.)

Thumbs down: Mechanically separated turkey? Gross. I forgot to look at the Angus variety, so they may be better, but still.  And what is cultured corn sugar and cherry powder? Those are new ones to me.

Expected: High sodium, plenty of fat (too much for a turkey dog), and saturated. fat.

I'm glad to see nitrates/nitrites removed from these hot dogs, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. Because I don't see these leaving society's diet anytime soon, we can take all the improvements we can get.

And the winner is....

The winner of my very first blog giveaway is Michelle Loyd! Congrats Michelle, and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do. I hope you'll give us a review!

I hope this is the first of many giveaways, so please contact me if you or your company/business has something relevant to share with my readers.

Thanks to all who entered!

P.S. In case you were wondering how I "randomly" chose a winner, I used to pick.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I got paid to buy cereal!

Oh how I LOVE a good deal! Getting something for free is a thrill, but to get PAID to take something away from the grocery store is almost more than I can handle!

On my last trip to the grocery store, I was shopping for cereal. I always search for sales that correspond with my coupons, but this offer was too good to be true. Fiber One Caramel Delight cereal was on close out for $1.10. It also had one of those sticker coupons good for $1.00 of the box. To top it off, I had a coupon for $1.00 off of 2 boxes. I ended up getting four boxes, so if you do the math, that comes to me getting paid $1.60 for four boxes of cereal!

Side note - Fiber One Caramel Delight has a little more sugar than I care for, but it makes up for it in fiber.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Eating healthy on vacation?

Oh Monday morning...thank you for smacking me in the face with reality today! Vacation is over, and now we're back to the regular grind. But what a great vacation it was...stress free and a total break from our day-to-day routine, including our diet.

During our time at the beach, we allowed our kids far more treats than we normally do, but I did my best to still keep them as healthy as possible. Well balanced meals were still a requirement!

Some of the extras they enjoyed:

-Sparkling Juicy Juice (a fun soda substitute)
-Cheetos Natural White Cheddar Cheese Puffs
-Del Monte Fruit Chillers (freezy pops, minus the garbage)
-Simply Fruit Fruit Roll Ups (just like regular fruit roll ups, minus the garbage)

So my kids got to pig out on "junk food" freely, and I didn't have to feel guilty about it. Win-win! So why isn't all "junk food" made this way? I challenge you to only buy the healthier versions of these treats. There is power in numbers, and if we show our support for the good products, there will be more and more of them available and at more reasonable prices.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


I hope someone noticed that I haven't blogged in more than a week! We've been on vacation and just returned today. I felt funny about announcing that to the entire cyber world, so I didn't. I will have new posts starting Monday, so thanks for your patience.

In the meantime, don't forget about my autographed Dr. Sears book giveaway, and here's a picture of my fantastic family at the beach. :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A very smart commercial!

Very smart to the parents, the people who actually have money to spend! Thank you for not aiming your sales tactics at our kids.

And, of course, I like the message!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Homemade ice cream

Summertime is the best time to enjoy some delicious ice cream! You could pick some up from the grocery store, but it is pretty easy to make it yourself and much healthier and fresher. We had my daughter's 4th birthday party this past weekend, and I made two kinds - strawberry and chocolate. All you need is an ice cream freezer (counter top version or one that requires ice, I use both depending on the quantity I need) and a few simple ingredients. Here's a recipe that makes 6 quarts:

Strawberry ice cream:
2 cups fresh strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Milk - enough to fill to fill line (whole milk for richer ice cream, skim for lighter)

Mix it all up in the blender and freeze according to freezer directions. Scale recipe down if making in a counter top version. YUMMY!! This recipe can easily be adapted for any flavor you wish, and you get to control all of  the ingredients.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Giveaway time!!

I am so excited to announce my very first blog giveaway!

 An autographed copy of Dr. William Sears's book - The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood: Ten Ways to Get Your Family on the Right Nutritional Track (Sears Parenting Library) will be given away to one lucky winner!

I have been a big fan of all of Dr. Sears's book since I was pregnant with my first child, and this book is no exception. It is full of useful and and easy to understand information about nutrition, what foods are good for you and which are not (and why), ways to educate your children on the importance of healthy eating, etc. Everyone can benefit from a copy of this book.

The rules for entering:
1. Leave a comment including an easy healthy recipe, a tip for getting your kids to eat/try new foods, or a way you've made over a typically unhealthy food.
2. If you're not registered, you must leave a way for me to contact you.
3. Only ONE entry per person.
4. Contest will start today (June 15) and end in two weeks (June 29). The winner will be announced on June 30, and the book will be shipped to the winner on that day. 
5. Please share this contest with others! The more entries, the more creative healthy ideas we'll be able to share with each other!

I hope this will be the first of many giveaways! A BIG thank you to Dr. Sears and his staff for sending me this book! If anyone is reading that is in the position to donate a relevant item to give away, please let me know.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Adventures with summer squash

As I mentioned in my last post, I bought some various squash from the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful day, so we decided to grill out Saturday night. The grill makes me so happy - less dishes and kitchen mess! 

I had three kinds of summer squash - yellow crookneck, zucchini, and patty pan. I cut them up along with a Vidalia onion (excellent with squash!) and seasoned them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I then created a foil packet to cook them in. After about 10 minutes on the grill, they were steamed to perfection.

This was my first experience with patty pan squash, but they were very good and comparable to other summer squash varieties. My kids said they liked it better, so score! Squash are pretty kid friendly because they are naturally sweet. They are also easy for kids to pick from a garden and even help cut and prepare.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Farmer's Market

I visited our local Farmer's Market this morning to see what produce was available locally so garden and my dad's garden still has a few weeks before they will be ready.

There were several vendors out, including my friend Heather who runs Bees Knees Farm with her family. I got some zucchini and Romaine lettuce, as well as a vegetable I wasn't familiar with - patty pan squash. I look forward to trying those out!

If you haven't already, go check out your local Farmer's Market. You can get some fresh, locally grown produce (and maybe organic!) at a reasonable price, all while helping your local economy!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


No more chocolate formula! Enough people spoke out, and change was made!

Don't be silent if you believe strongly about something!

Bargain shopping for the healthy consumer

It is no secret that I am cheap, and I love bargain shopping. I'm a coupon clipper and sale stalker! I'm going to share some of my tips for getting the most healthy food for the best price.

1. Know your grocery store. Sure, Walmart is normally cheaper overall, but they don't run sales. And yes, they do accept competitors' sale prices, but I don't have time for that. And the people behind you in the check out line will hate you.  So I study the sales at the grocery store I visit most, Food Lion. At least one thing in each category I shop is going to be on sale every week - fruit, veggies, meat, toiletries, juice, cheese, etc. They rotate each week, so the items I love most are going to be on sale about once a month. After a couple of months of following the sales, you'll know what to expect.

2. Save your coupons for when those items are on sale. Saving 75 cents off on a $2.00 item is good, but if the item is on sale for $1.50, it is even better! I get the bulk of my coupons from, and they change some weekly but mainly on the first of each month. If I have a brand I am loyal to, then I will check their Web site for coupons or email them directly and ask.

3. Know the schedule for when meat is going to be marked down because of the expiration date. You can ask the meat department! Early Saturday mornings seems to be popular, so I stock up and freeze.

4. Generics are your friend, and you'll never know the difference. There are only a few products I don't like the generic version of. Don't be scared to at least try them.

5. Plan your meals and snacks around what is on sale, not just what you crave or want.

6. Visit the store's Web site for specific store coupons, and sign up for coupon texts if available. Food Lion will text you coupon offers, and if you accept they are loaded directly on your MVP card.

7. Scour the close outs, where the best deals can be found. Last week, I found a 100% juice on close out for $1.41 (normally $2.99) and a V8 juice for $1.70 (normally more than $3.00).

8. Take your time and go alone whenever possible. I do my grocery shopping on Saturday mornings so my husband can stay at home with the kids. That way, you have no one else influencing you or begging for useless stuff.

9. Try to shop mainly on the outside borders of the grocery store (produce, meat, dairy, frozen produce) and limit your time and money in the aisles or pre-packaged  items.

10. Go to Walmart, Sam's Club, etc. once a month (or less) for those items that you know you just can't buy at the regular grocery or are never cheaper there. 

I just got Food Lion's sale insert in today's newspaper. I'll tell you what I plan to buy based on it (just food).
  • London Broil - $2.59/lb. I'll buy a 2 lb. one for about $5 and it'll provide us dinner for 2 meals. 
  • Strawberries & blueberries - 2/$4. I'll buy one of each and make a fruit salad, use them in smoothies, or eat as-is. 
  • Hunts Ketchup - 10/$10 - Hunts no longer uses HFCS in their ketchup, so I'll probably buy a bottle of two...we don't use a lot of ketchup, but it keeps for a long time.
  • Capri Sun - $2.07 - They offer a 100% juice version.
  • Food Lion sliced cheese - 2/$5 - perfect for sandwiches!
  • Daisy sour cream - $1 - they offer light & fat free versions
  • Ground chuck - $2.79/lb - I prefer to stock up when it is on sale for $1.99/lb, but I'm running low so I'll buy a couple of packs. 
  • Watermelon - $4.99 - One watermelon will last us several days. 
  • Sweet potatoes -  $0.79/lb - YUM!
  • Mangoes - $0.99 each - my kids favorite, and they have a pretty long shelf life
  • Kraft cheese - buy one get one free
  • Eggs - $1 off with FL coupon
This wasn't the best week for coupons matching up with sale items, so I'll have to post about that on a week that it is better. I do have coupons for things I buy weekly like bread and yogurt that I will go ahead and use. Last week, I stocked up chicken breasts when they were on sale, so I don't need any this week. Plan ahead!

It becomes a game for me - last week, I spent $80 on all of our food for the week (3 meals per day for 4 people, except for my daughter's lunches). Not too shabby! Do you have any bargain shopping tips to share?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Big news coming!

Following the lead of other popular blogs I enjoy, I'm going to start having fun giveaways of products that I believe in and use. I just confirmed my first item yesterday, and I will be announcing it very soon!

If anyone is reading this that has a relevant item they'd be willing for me to give away to a lucky reader, please contact me.

Thanks, and keep checking back! :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer Pasta Salad

For me, nothing says summer more than fresh vegetables out of the garden and cookouts with family and friends! Around here, I'm always making a dish to share for family reunions, cookouts, or just a fun get together, and my go-to dish is a summer pasta salad, filled with whatever is good out of the garden.

I made this version during my lunch break today to take to a dinner meeting this evening, so you know it was quick and easy! I used one box of shell pasta and cut up a cucumber, two small tomatoes and 1/2 of a large vidalia onion then mixed together light mayonnaise (you could also use plain yogurt), red wine vinegar, salt & pepper for a dressing.

It tastes like summer! (And my kids are hoping for leftovers!)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Another interview with my kids!

I will ask them random food questions and type out their answers here, just as they are given. I promise I won't alter anything!

1. What is your favorite food that is not healthy for you?
G -  Icees
H- Popsicles
(It is the 90s today...)

2. Why do you think they aren't good for you?
G - Because they have sugar
H - Because they have sugar

3. What kind of food is advertised during the shows you like to watch?
G - Hillshire Farms - GO MEAT! (lol)
H - Corn dogs

4. Are these foods good for you? Why or why not?
G - No, but I don't know why.
H - Yes, because. I don't want to talk.
(These "interviews" are good for knowing what you need to talk to your kids about!)

5. What is your favorite food out of the garden?
G - Cucumbers and tomatoes
H - Watermelon

6. What food do you like that you think other kids don't?
G - Pizza with pineapple
H - Oranges

7. What do you think I cook the best?
G - Cheese tacos (some people would call these quesadillas, but not my kids)
H - Chicken roll ups

I was going to go for 10 questions, but they got bored with this. LOL!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Annoying commercial #11

Why are we being so misled??

 These "real" boneless wings (wings aren't boneless...these are chicken nuggets!) contain 500 calories, 20 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, and 1640 mg of sodium. Even though they are advertised as 100% breast meat chicken, the ingredient list differs a touch:

Boneless Wings (chicken breast, water, chicken flavor [salt, flavor, autolyzed yeast extract, maltodextrin, chicken flavor, chicken, gum arabic, sunflower oil, sugar, silicon dioxide, lactic acid, canola oil, modified corn starch, grill flavor {from canola oil}, citric acid, trisodium phosphate], modified food starch, sodium phosphates. Battered and Breaded with: wheat flour, water, modified corn starch, salt, sugar, leavening [sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate], spice, onion powder, garlic powder, dextrose, autolyzed yeast, natural and artificial flavor, extractives of paprika), Spicy Chipotle Sauce (water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, chipotle seasoning blend [onion {dehydrated}, spice {including chipotle chili pepper}, red and green bell peppers, paprika, sea salt, tomato powder, garlic {dehydrated}, cane juice solids, sun dried tomato, citric acid, salt, natural flavor], distilled white vinegar, chipotle in adobo [water, red jalapeno peppers {chipotle peppers}, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, oleoresin paprika, natural flavor, oleoresin capsicum], honey, soy oil, modified corn starch, xanthan gum, honey flavor [molasses, ethyl alcohol, natural flavoring], extractives of paprika, chili powder, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate [preservatives], canola oil). Cooked in Soy, Corn, Cottonseed, & Hydrogenated Soy Oil. 

Do you know when it's real? 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Superfoods for Kids!

I just came across a cool article from that discusses the 10 "superfoods" that children should have in their diets. Here is the list, and some ways that I incorporate these into our families meals and snacks.

1. Blueberries
  •  As-is, smoothies, popsicles, pancakes/waffles
2. Tofu
  • Firm - cubed and given as a finger food or marinated and grilled
3. Tomatoes
  • As-is, sliced on sandwiches, diced in salads, pureed for sauces (a food that is actually healthier cooked)
4. Low-fat Greek yogurt
  • As-is,  blended in smoothies, used in place of mayo on sandwiches and salads (is far more available recently!)
5. Cabbage
  • Mixed with salads, slaw
6. Salmon
  • Grilled, made into salad, made into cakes/patties
7. Cocoa (dark)
  •  Sprinkled on anything!
8. Black beans
  • Mixed with corn, tomatoes, etc. for salsa, blended as dip, can be added to any Mexican dish
9. Basil
  • Easily blends in many sauces
10. Cinnamon
  • Sprinkled on anything!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'm so excited for this movie!

I'm really hoping this movie will be an eye opener for our society. Breastfeeding is natural and necessary, but are we providing new moms with enough support and encouragement? Breast milk is the first step for a lifetime of healthy eating and healthy bodies, as well as being excellent for mom!