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A Quick Look at Different Kinds of Sweeteners

Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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SugarWhat’s in the food or drink you are serving to your family? Many of us read food labels in order to find the most nutritious, least processed, food possible. Others read the food labels in order to avoid allergens. Either way, it helps if you are well informed about the different kinds of things that might be in your food. Here is a quick look at some of the different kinds of sweeteners.

Sugar
When you see the word “sugar” on a food label, it is referring to a crystalline substance that is derived from plants. It comes from either sugar cane or sugar beet. Sucrose is the more scientific name for sugar. Many people check the food labels on juice drinks to find out how much sugar has been added to the juice.

Sucralose
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener. Sucralose is not found in nature and is not a natural product. There are several brands of Sucralose-based sweeteners, including Splenda, Sukrana, SucraPlus, Candys, Cukren, and Nevella. Some find it appealing because it contains zero calories. Sucralose is often found in diet sodas and other diet foods and is said to be 600 times sweeter than sugar.

The Sucralose Website says that the Sucralose molecule contains three atoms of chlorine. Snopes.com has investigated the claim that Splenda was inadequately tested and unsafe and found it to be false.

High Fructose Corn Syrup
High Fructose Corn Syrup is also called HFCS, Glucose-Fructose, Isoglucose, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Fructose-Glucose Syrup, or High Fructose Maize Syrup. HFCS is the most common sweetener used in processed foods and drinks (in the United States). HFCS comes from corn, and contains more fructose than normal corn syrup. It also contains glucose.

The Mayo Clinic points out that HFCS is chemically similar to “table sugar” and that controversy exists about whether or not the body handles HFCS differently than table sugar.

Fructose
Fructose is also called “fruit-sugar”. It is found in many plants including honey, tree and vine fruits, flowers, berries, and some root vegetables.

Glucose
Glucose is also called “grape sugar” or dextrose. It is found in plants and is one of the main products of photosynthesis.

Aspartame
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that was first sold under the name NutraSweet. It is said to be 200 times sweeter than sugar. It has almost zero calories. Aspartame is often found in diet sodas. The American Cancer Society notes that people who have Phenylketonuria (PKU) should avoid aspartame. It also points out that “most studies in people have not found that aspartame use is linked to an increased risk of cancer.”

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Save 20% on Fresh Bananas – This Week Only!

Posted on Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 at 9:09 am
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saving star healthy offer

It’s Tuesday! Time to load this week’s Healthy Offer of the Week from Saving Star to your account! This week, Save 20% on any single purchase of loose Bananas at participating retailers. 

See offer info for complete details. Check back every Tuesday for a new Healthy Offer. Expires 8/25/2014.

*** NEW*** SavingStar can now be used at Walmart, Target, Kmart, Meijer, Walgreens, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and WinCo! Simply download their app for iPhone or Android and upload your receipt to get cash back when you shop at any of these stores!

See a list of ALL participating stores HERE.

 

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Recipes for Healthier Versions of Fast Food

Posted on Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Chicken Nuggets iStockFast food is great when you are have very little time in which to eat a meal. Their food is inexpensive, and many people find it to be tasty. Where fast food fails, however, is when you realize that most of it is not a healthy food choice.

There are recipes out there that mimic the taste and texture of fast food without the excess calories, salt, and other assorted undesirable things that can be found in it. Try a few of these quick and easy “copycat” recipes.

Easy Chicken Nuggets
Weelicious has a healthy “copycat” recipe that will replace the chicken nuggets that fast food places sell. This recipe is for 24 nuggets. You will need:

* 1 pound chicken breasts (boneless and skinless) (cut into chunks)
* 1/4 cup of old fashioned oats
* 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
* 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese (grated)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Put everything except the parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs into a food processor until everything is finely chopped and combined.

Put the bread crumbs and parmesan into a shallow bowl and stir to combine them. With moistened hands, roll 1 tablespoon of chicken mixture between your palms and flatten it into a “nugget” shape. Gently press the nuggets into the bread crumbs to evenly coat them.

Put the nuggets on a cooling rack. Put the cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet. Lightly spray the nuggets with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes and they should be ready to serve!

French Fries
Delish has a lovely alternative to the typical fast food french fries. They call it “Classic Oven Fries”. It takes 15 minutes to prep and 25 minutes to cook. You will need:

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 2 medium baking potatoes (about 8 ounces each)
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Brush 2 large cookie sheets with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Cut each unpeeled potato lengthwise into quarters. Then, cut each quarter lengthwise into 2 wedges. Put the cut potatoes, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a bowl. Toss until the potatoes are evenly coated.

Divide the potatoes onto the 2 cookie sheets. Put the sheets on 2 oven racks and oven-fry the potatoes for 25 minutes (or until they are tender and crisp). You may need to turn the potatoes over once.

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Save 20% on Fresh Plums ~ This Week Only!

Posted on Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 at 8:54 am
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saving star healthy offer

It’s Tuesday! Time to load this week’s Healthy Offer of the Week from Saving Star to your account! This week, Save 20% on any single purchase of loose Plums at participating retailers. 

See offer info for complete details. Check back every Tuesday for a new Healthy Offer. Expires 8/25/2014.

*** NEW*** SavingStar can now be used at Walmart, Target, Kmart, Meijer, Walgreens, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and WinCo! Simply download their app for iPhone or Android and upload your receipt to get cash back when you shop at any of these stores!

See a list of ALL participating stores HERE.

 

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Healthy Snacks for School Lunches

Posted on Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Packing Lunches again? Save with free printable coupons.What will your child be eating for lunch at school? Parents who want to make sure that their child has plenty of healthy choices will need to plan ahead. It’s easy to toss a small bag of chips into a lunchbox. It takes a bit more work to put together healthy, tasty, snacks for school lunches. Here are some suggestions to try out. You can always repeat them if it turns out to be one of your child’s favorite snacks!

Quick Kebabs
This healthy snack might appeal to kids who are unable to finish an entire piece of fruit (or a whole sandwich) during their lunchtime at school. The recipe comes from Eating Well. It is for one serving, so you will need to repeat it if you are serving more than one Quick Kabob. You will need:

* 1/2 ounce roasted deli turkey (cubed)
* 1/2 ounce Cheddar cheese (cubed)
* 1/4 cup grapes
* 6 dried apricots
* Wooden skewers

Thread the turkey, cheese, grapes, and apricots onto the wooden skewer. It makes a nice mix of savory and sweet and is easy for kids to pull off and eat. Remind the kids to bring home the skewers if you want to reuse them.

Crunchy Cereal Trail Mix
Not all trail mix is equal! Some pre-mixed kinds have a lot of sugary pieces, and might also include salt. Substitute the less healthy trail mix with the Crunchy Cereal Trail Mix. The recipe comes from Delish. The recipe is for one serving, so repeat it if you need more than one. You will need:

* 1/4 cup of Cheerios
* 1 tablespoon of pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
* 2 teaspoons of raisins
* 2 teaspoons of semisweet mini chocolate chips

Mix them all together. Put them into a small plastic container that can be closed with a lid. Or, put the mix into a resealable lunch bag. Your child can repackage and bring home whatever her or she does not eat at school.

Other Options
Carrots are crunchy and a good alternative to crunchy potato chips or cheese curls. Put some baby carrots into your child’s lunch, or cut a large carrot into “coins”. Want your kid to have a wider variety of fresh veggies? Put an individual serving of salad dressing into a container (or purchase pre-made ones). Toss together a mixture of carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, or other crunchy vegetables to dip into the dressing.

Hard boiled eggs are a good source of protein. You kids may also enjoy string cheese or mini babybel cheese. Dairy foods provide calcium.

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What Does “Natural” on a Food Label Really Mean?

Posted on Wednesday, August 6th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Fruit & Vegetable PlatterFood labels can be rather confusing sometimes. The word “natural” brings to mind food that is made from fresh ingredients. We tend to think that seeing the word “natural” on a food label means that there isn’t anything in the product to worry about. Here is a quick tutorial about what the words on food labels really mean.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the word “natural” , when placed on a food label, is difficult to define. The FDA information says “From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth.”

It goes on to note that the FDA “has not developed a definition for the use of the term natural or its derivatives”. They do not object to use of the word “natural” on a food label that doesn’t contain any added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a slightly different definition of the word “natural” (when it is used on packages of meat, poultry and egg products.) They define it as “minimally processed and excludes artificial flavor or coloring, chemical preservatives, and any other artificial or synthetic ingredient.”

Green City Blue Lake has further information. They point out that some of the words you see on food labels may not be regulated (or that the regulation is not enforced).

For example, a package of a product that says “natural” could contain antibiotics, growth hormones, or other similar chemicals. Meat producers who want to put the word “natural” on their product do have to submit an application at the time that the animal is slaughtered. The application provides details about the practices used throughout the life of the animal. Green City Blue Lake says that no inspections are conducted to discover if the details on the application are accurate.

What about the phrase “all natural” on a food label? The Food and Drug Administration does not differentiate between “natural” and “all natural”. You cannot automatically assume that a product labeled “all natural” is better than one labeled “natural”.

What can you do if you want to avoid some of the unpleasant things that can get into food? One way to do that is to buy organic products. A company cannot put the word “organic” on a food label like it can the word “natural”. The United States Department of Agriculture regulates the use of the word “organic” on a food label.

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Hot Weather Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Dog and CatThe hot summer weather is going to be with us for at least a few more weeks. Pet owners need to pay close attention to their pets and make sure that the hot weather is not causing them harm. Here are some hot weather safety tips for pet owners.

The Humane Society of the United States points out that you should never leave a pet inside a parked car. Not even for a minute! The temperatures inside a parked car can get dangerously hot very quickly. Please realize that leaving the air conditioning on in the car, as you dash into the store, is an insufficient way to combat the heat. Pets can, and do, die from exposure to excessive heat.

They also suggest that pet owners provide their pets with plenty of shade and ample water if the pet is going to be outside. Add some ice cubes to the water in their bowl to help them cool off. You may want to give them extra water when they come back inside from the heat. Access to water can help prevent your pet from becoming dehydrated.

WebMD strongly recommends that you visit the veterinarian in the summer so that he or she can give your pets a check-up. Ask your vet to teach you the signs of overheating in your pet – and what to do if you see those signs. Some pet owners, whose pets spend a lot of time outdoors, may want to speak with the vet about a safe method of flea and tick control.

The ASPCA has some advice that pet owners may not have thought about. Make sure to check your window screens to ensure that they are securely attached. Always close the screen door all the way if you are going to be leaving your door open.

There is an increase of injured animals during warmer months. Cats lean against the screen on an open window. If that screen isn’t properly attached, the cat could fall out the window and become injured. Screen doors that aren’t shut all the way could enable a pet to go outside without the owner realizing it. Unattended pets can end up injured if they run into streets.

They also suggest that you pay attention when you take your pet outside for a walk. The asphalt can become painfully hot when the temperature is high. Humans are protected from this heat by their shoes. Sadly, pets can end up with burned paw pads if they walk on super-heated asphalt. The heat from the asphalt can also cause your pet’s body temperature to heat up very quickly.

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Save 20% on Fresh Bell Peppers

Posted on Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 at 8:44 am
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saving star healthy offer

It’s Tuesday! Time to load this week’s Healthy Offer of the Week from Saving Star to your account! This week, Save 20% on any single purchase of loose Green Peppers at participating retailers. 

See offer info for complete details. Check back every Tuesday for a new Healthy Offer. Expires 8/4/2014.

*** BIG NEWS *** SavingStar can now be used at Walmart, Target, Kmart, Meijer, Walgreens, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and WinCo! Simply download their app for iPhone or Android and upload your receipt to get cash back when you shop at any of these stores!

See a list of ALL participating stores HERE.

 

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Simple Ways to Conserve Water

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 at 7:00 am
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Person DrinkingIs the state you live in experiencing a drought? Conserving water is good for the planet. Not everyone understands how much water gets thoughtlessly wasted. Fortunately, conserving water can be done in very simple ways. Use less water and you will end up saving money on your water bill.

Skip the Refills
There are many restaurants that automatically serve customers a full glass of water (with ice) the moment they are seated. That’s fine for people who are intending to drink water with their meal. Those who want to order a different type of beverage don’t typically drink the glass of water. It gets poured down the drain and wasted.

You can conserve water by asking your server not to bring you any. Order your beverage of choice, and make it clear that you do not want an additional glass of water. If you plan on drinking water with your meal, then you need to pay attention to how often the server refills it. Ask for a half-glass refill, or tell the server to stop refilling it, when you are not going to drink anymore.

Chill the Glasses
We go through a lot of water when we make ice cubes. Instead of using water to make a beverage cold, consider chilling the glass instead. Put the glass into the freezer for a little while. Or, start using one of those special mugs that are made of plastic and that are designed to be placed in the freezer. A liquid that is in between layers of the plastic freezes and removes the need for ice cubes.

Don’t Wash Your Car
It can be really difficult for many people to skip the car wash! People tend to feel embarrassed if their car is dirty. Keep in mind that the typical car wash uses a whole lot of water that could be used in better ways. A clean car is not a necessity.

Clean your windows by using a window cleaner and some paper towels. Or, use the window washing tool at the gas station the next time you fill up the tank. Stay safe by making sure you can see out of your windows.

Water the Lawn in the Morning
The best time to water your lawn in early in the day between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 in the morning. The temperature in the morning is typically the coolest and least windy time of day. This means that the water you apply is less likely to be lost to evaporation.

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Save 20% on Fresh Grapes + Now Use SavingStar at Walmart, Target & More

Posted on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm
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saving star healthy offer

It’s Tuesday! Time to load this week’s Healthy Offer of the Week from Saving Star to your account! This week, Save 20% on any single purchase of Grapes at participating retailers.

See offer info for complete details. Check back every Tuesday for a new Healthy Offer. Expires 7/28/2014.

*** BIG NEWS *** SavingStar can now be used at Walmart, Target, Kmart, Meijer, Walgreens, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and WinCo! Simply download their app for iPhone or Android and upload your receipt to get cash back when you shop at any of these stores!

 

 

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