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Quick Breakfasts from Natural Ingredients

Posted on Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015 at 7:00 am
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bear naked granolaIt has been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The heat of summer can make some people not feel like eating. The solution to this problem is to find breakfast foods that are natural, nutritious, and that don’t require cooking. These quick breakfast ideas can also come in handy after school starts up again and you are pressed for time in the morning.

Granola is a good choice. It’s super simple to eat no matter where you go. It doesn’t require any cooking. Pick a good one, and it will provide you and your family with some nutrition. Look for granola that contains plenty of dried fruits and nuts. Avoid the ones that seem to be filled with candy.

Not finding a granola mix you like at the store? Consider making your own mix. Shop at a store that sells dried fruits, nuts, and other healthy food in bulk. Select exactly what you want. This option is great for people who need to work around food allergies.

Want to add extra nutrition to your granola? Eat it with yogurt. Some people like to mix their granola into their yogurt. Others prefer to eat granola and yogurt at the same time, but not mixed together.

Buy some frozen strawberries, cherries, and blueberries. Put some of each into a blender. Add some ice cubes and some milk (or soy milk, or coconut milk, if you prefer). Add a banana if you want to thicken up your shake.

Within minutes, you have created a cold, refreshing, nutritious breakfast that feels like a treat. Best of all, these homemade shakes aren’t filled with cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Their sweetness comes from fructose.

Sliced Fruit and Cheese
Real Simple suggests that you make a breakfast from some sliced fruit, sliced cheese, and walnuts. Specifically, they point out that sliced apples, and sliced or cubed cheddar cheese go nicely together. Walnuts add some fiber and protein to the meal.

This simple meal can be “picked at” while a person is traveling (on vacation, or on their way to school). Small, cold, bites of food can feel lighter than a plate of eggs and french toast.

Other Simple Options
Need a quick breakfast while you are on the go? You can pick up a fresh piece of fruit in any grocery store, in some convenience stores, or even a Starbucks (if you want a banana). Small packets of unsalted nuts are another healthy option. Split a package of crackers and a small block of cheese with someone else.

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Tips for Staying Hydrated

Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2015 at 3:06 pm
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Couple at gymSummer is a great time to get outside and check out the many events that are going on. The nice weather may inspire you to get out of the gym and exercise outdoors. It is important to remember to stay hydrated, especially if you will be outside in hot, humid, weather. People often forget to drink enough water. Here are some tips to help you to stay hydrated.

How much water do you need?
The American Heart Association says that the answer to that question can vary from person to person and based on climatic conditions, clothing, and how hard a person is working out. People with certain health conditions may need more water than others.

They point out three ways to determine if you are properly hydrated:

* Are you thirsty? That generally means that you have already become dehydrated.

* What color is your urine? People who are properly hydrated have pale or clear urine. If your urine is darker than that, it means you need to drink more water.

* Are you sweating? If you are working out, but not sweating, it means that you are dehydrated. You should stop and drink some water before you develop heat exhaustion.

Carry a water bottle.
Skip the energy drinks! Water is the best choice and exactly what your body needs in order to stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you so that you can drink water while you are working out or being active.

One advantage to carrying a water bottle is that it makes it easier to avoid dehydration. Another advantage is that it is a frugal way to do it. Pay for the water bottle once, fill it at home multiple times, and save the money you would have otherwise spent on drinks.

Plan ahead for best results.
Are you planning on exercising outside in hot weather tomorrow? Start preparing your body for it today. Drink plenty of water the day before you exercise (or spend a lot of time outdoors being active). Drink water the hour before you go, and continue to drink water as you exercise (or attend an event).

Live Science notes that water is the best choice in order to provide dehydration. However, they also point out that tea, coffee, juices, milk, and soup can count towards the amount of water you need in order to stay hydrated. Fruits and vegetables can provide your body with some water, and some nutrients.

Avoid alcohol.
Spending time outdoors, in the heat, at a festival can be fun. It would be wise to avoid drinking alcohol while you are there. Alcohol is extremely dehydrating. If you drink alcohol, you have to be extra careful about making sure you also drink enough water to stay safely hydrated.

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Debunking the Myths About Sunscreen

Posted on Wednesday, July 8th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Applying SunscreenSummer is filled with plenty of things to do outdoors. That fun can turn to pain very quickly if you choose not to wear some kind of sunscreen on exposed skin. This is one situation where the things you don’t know – about sunscreen – can actually hurt you. Here are a few myths about sunscreen that have been debunked.

Myth: Sunscreen is Just for the Beach
There is a good reason why people associate sunscreen with the beach. People tend to use it on days when they are planning to be outside, on the beach, for hours. It is true that sunscreen is a good thing to wear at the beach.

That being said, sunscreen isn’t only for beach days. The main purpose of sunscreen isn’t to block “the sun” but to block UV light. Ultraviolet light is around all the time. People should be wearing sunscreen on exposed skin even on cloudy or rainy days.

Myth: Sunscreen 100 can block 100% of UV Rays
This is another myth. In reality, you won’t be able to find a sunscreen that is going to block 100% of UV rays. This doesn’t mean you should skip the sunscreen. Instead, it means you need to remember to reapply it.

The American Academy of Dermatology says you should make sure the label on your sunscreen says three things: “broad spectrum”, “SPF 30” (or higher), and “water resistant”. Sunscreen that says “broad spectrum” can protect from both UVA rays and UVB rays. It can’t block 100% of them, but is still recommended for use.

Myth: All You Need is Sunscreen
Sunscreen provides you with a certain amount of protection from the sun’s rays. It isn’t, however, the only way to block the sun. Additional options include: sunglasses, hats with large brims, and clothing. You can also sit under an umbrella while you are at the beach, and seek out shade while enjoying other outdoor activities.

Myth: Homemade Sunscreen is Effective
Huffington Post points out that there is no good way to test SPF levels on the sunscreen that you made at home from a recipe you found online. The FDA has very rigorous regulations on sunscreen. The purpose is to make sure that the label on the bottle matches the sun protection that the product provides.

You cannot know, for certain, that your homemade sunscreen is effective at blocking UV rays. You also aren’t going to be able to mix the ingredients as well as the companies that make sunscreen are able to do. An uneven mixture could result in a bad sunburn!

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What Does the Word “Natural” Actually Mean?

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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woman shopping grocery storeMany of us have become very discerning about the types of food that we will buy and feed to our families. We avoid processed foods and seek out the natural ones. But, what does “natural” actually mean? The answer to that question is more complex than you may think.

In general, we all know what the word natural means. The word brings up concepts of health, cleanliness, and nutrition. has several different definitions for the word “natural”. One of them says: existing in or formed by nature (as opposed to artificial).

When we see the word “natural” on a package of food, we automatically think that it means the food is, well, healthy and good for us. In reality, the word “natural”, when used on a food label, doesn’t mean as much as you might have hoped.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has some clarification about the world natural. It 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 continues with more information that people should be aware of. It notes that the FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. The FDA doesn’t object to use of the word “natural” if the food doesn’t contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.

US News points out that foods that have a “natural” label can contain “added sugar, trans fats, and genetically modified ingredients or GMOs”. In other words, you shouldn’t assume that a food that has been labeled with the word “natural” won’t have things in it that you are trying to avoid.

What about the word “organic”? It has somewhat more meaning than the word “natural” does. The FDA “uses state agencies to inspect and certify food companies that market organic foods. Small farmers with less than $5,000 in organic sales such as those selling at farmers’ markets, are exempt from the certification process but they must still be truthful in their label claims and comply with the new government standards.”

One big difference between the word “natural” and the word “organic” on a food label is the regulation involved with the word “organic”. Foods that truly are organic will have a sticker on them that says USDA Organic. If the sticker isn’t there – the food isn’t really organic.

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Target is Shifting to Promote Healthier Foods

Posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 at 8:09 am
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Target Logo (Matchups)Take a minute think about what kinds of products were on the endcaps at the grocery store. Chances are, those highly visible shelves were filled with sugary cereals and other processed foods. Things might be changing in the near future. There are signs that some stores will be shifting towards promoting healthier foods.

There has been a trend towards foods that are natural over foods that are processed. More and more people have become interested in feeding their families healthy foods. One problem with doing that, though, is that fresh, healthy, foods tend to be more expensive than the sugar filled processed kinds.

When you look for coupons, what do you see? The products on the coupons probably come from the big food manufacturers. Your chance of finding a coupon for a box of potato flakes is much greater than finding a coupon for actual potatoes.

Things might be about to change, and that shift is starting at Target. The store has stated that it will be shifting its focus to healthier food selections while de-emphasizing the processed foods by big-name brands.

In addition, Target is likely to place a greater emphasis on its own private label brands. That could include Simply Balanced which contains no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, or trans fats. The brand “avoids high fructose corn syrup”. Most, if not all, of the products in this brand are GMO free.

Why is Target making this change? One reason is because it wants put less money and effort into promoting the big brands. Instead, it wants to put that into its own brands. This is in response to the changes that have occurred what people are buying. Canned Soup, for example, has been on the decline and will be de-emphasized.

Processed foods, such as the ones that come from Kraft or General Mills, will get less emphasis. Target’s own brands will get more emphasis, and so will fancy sauces and oils. The brands that fall to the bottom of the list won’t get featured as frequently in circulars or in stores. There’s a chance you might see sales on the healthier brands, and perhaps even some coupons for them.

Now, this change doesn’t mean Target is going to drop all the foods that you are familiar with. But, it might be shifting away from putting effort into promoting some of them. As always, when one supermarket makes a change in response to what customers are buying, there is a possibility that others will decide to follow that same trend – and make the same kinds of changes.

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June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

Posted on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015 at 4:33 pm
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Fruit & Vegetable PlatterDid you know that June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? This is a great opportunity to get more healthy fruits and vegetables into your diet. Here are a bunch of other helpful ideas to try this month.

Tips for Storing Fruits and Vegetables
The Fruits and Veggies More Matters website has some helpful tips for storing your fruits and vegetables. Some of their advice applies to not only fresh produce, but also produce that has been frozen or canned.

The big idea is to practice the FIFO rule. FIFO stands for “first in, first out”. Make sure you are rotating your stock of fruits and vegetables so that the oldest ones are easiest to grab. This will help you to eat the food before it goes bad and reduce waste. Supermarkets practice FIFO – you can do it, too!

Visit a Farmers’ Market
Some places have Farmers’ Markets every week. Other places, who experience a lot of rainy days in spring, or snow in winter, might only have Farmers’ Markets during the summer. No matter where you live, your best chance of finding a local Farmers’ Market will happen when the weather is nice. June is a great month to find a Farmers’ Market.

One of the great things about Farmers’ Markets is that you can be absolutely certain that the fruits and vegetables that you buy from it are fresh. You also will be buying local, a practice that helps sustain local farmers. Buying local is “greener” than buying food that has been shipped from far away.

Wash Your Produce
It is important to know how to properly wash your fresh fruits and vegetables before you eat them (or serve them to your family). Washing your produce helps remove the dirt, traces of pesticides, and the wax coating that has been added to the produce (to keep it looking nice in the grocery store).

Do not use soap when you wash your fruits and vegetables. There is a chance that you won’t be able to remove all the soap – and that could make people sick. Use clean tap water to wash your produce. You don’t have to use a specialized produce scrub. Clean water works just fine!

How Much Produce Should You Eat?
The United States Department of Agriculture has a chart that shows the recommended daily amounts of fruit that a person should consume in a day. There is another helpful chart that shows how much vegetables a person needs to eat (either daily or weekly). Follow those recommendations might help improve your health.

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Important Things to Know About Natural Insect Repellents

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Bug SprayParents want what’s best for their kids. It’s great to be able to play outside in the warm weather, but the fun stops when the mosquitos start biting. Some parents have concerns about the safety of insect repellants. Others worry about their effectiveness. Here is a quick look at the most important things to know about natural insect repellents.

Reapplication is Necessary
Natural insect repellants may contain ingredients made from plant oils. Some include citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, and cedarwood. Parents who are concerned about the potential effects of DEET might select insect repellants that contain natural ingredients.

Be aware that natural insect repellants need to be reapplied more frequently than do the insect repellants that contain DEET. Set a timer on your smartphone so you will remember to round up your kids and reapply the natural insect repellant several times.

Be Careful When Applying
Before you apply natural insect repellant, check your child’s skin for cuts. It’s just not a good idea to add insect repellant to an open wound – even if the insect repellant is natural. Keep the insect repellant away from your child’s eyes.

It is advised that parents put the natural insect repellant onto their own hands first. Use your hands to apply the natural insect repellant. Applying it directly to the child’s skin could result in accidentally putting too much of it on your child.

Read the Label
Not all insect repellants are the same! Some need to be applied more often than others. It is entirely possible that one brand of natural insect repellant will contain different ingredients than another brand will. Check the label while you are still at the store. Does it contain something that your child is allergic to?

Do not assume that just because an insect repellant is natural that it is safe for everyone. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) points out that oil of lemon eucalyptus products should not be used on children who are under 3 years of age.

Remember to Wash it Off
It is important to take the time to wash the insect repellant off of your child after you are finished playing outside. This is true for “regular” insect repellants and the natural kind, too. Nobody needs to have insect repellant on their skin after they have come indoors (where the mosquitos aren’t).

Choose Effective Insect Repellants
WebMD says that soy-based insect repellants were the most effective alternative to DEET. Insect repellants that contain oil of lemon eucalyptus also work really well. Studies have shown that natural insect repellants that contain citronella, peppermint oil, and other plant based oils are not particularly effective.

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Save on Fresh Corn + A Trick for Husking Corn!

Posted on Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 at 9:37 am
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Save 20% on any single purchase of loose Corn at participating retailers. See offer info for complete details. Check back every Tuesday for a new Healthy Offer..Expires 5/25/2015.Save 20%.







It’s 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 Corn at participating retailers.

See offer info for complete details. Check back every Tuesday for a new Healthy Offer. Expires 5/25/2015.

Stock up on some delicious corn and then try this Magic Corn Trick for easily husking your corn!

Here are this corn sales happening this week:

Albertson's - Southern California Division (7/29 - 8/4)
3 Day Sale: Friday 7/31 - Sunday 8/2 ONLY
Corn, White, ea $0.25
Harris Teeter (7/29 - 8/4)
Corn, ea $0.40
Costco Wholesale (Everyday)
Prices may vary by store.
Corn, Canned, 8 pk 15 oz ea $7.89 8 pk = $0.99 unit price


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How to Wash Produce

Posted on Wednesday, May 13th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Fruit & Vegetable PlatterFresh fruits and vegetables are tasty, healthy, and good for you and your family. They tend to be more expensive than those that are canned or frozen. Fresh produce has a limited time in which it is safe to eat. Before you eat it, or serve it to your family, it is very important to wash the produce.

Why should you wash your produce? Some of it may have residual traces of the pesticides that were used when the plant was growing. Organic produce also needs to be washed. Think about how many people may have touched that particular apple, pepper, or zucchini before you bought it at the grocery store or farmers’ market!

To keep yourself, and your family safe, you need to make sure that all fresh fruits and vegetables have been properly washed before you serve them. Better Homes and Gardens points out that you should not use soap or detergents when washing produce. Part of the reason is that you might not be able to get all the soap off the food. People can get sick from consuming even small amounts of soap or detergent.

You don’t necessarily need to buy a special produce wash in order to ensure that your fresh fruits and vegetables are clean. Cool, clean, tap water is perfectly acceptable. Stick the produce in a strainer. Put it in your sink and spray water over the produce. Check it to make sure that everything has been thoroughly washed. Dry it off with a clean cloth towel or paper towel. Doing so will reduce any bacteria that might still be present.

Firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, can be cleaned with a produce brush. Run them under clean tap water and give them a good scrub! Don’t use that produce brush for any other purpose.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has some great tips for making sure fresh produce is safe for your family. These tips are ones you need to follow long before you bring the produce home and get ready to wash it.

Don’t purchase produce that has been bruised or damaged. Take a close look at the produce before you buy it. Does that apple have a large bruise, or flat spot, that may have happened when someone dropped it on the floor? Put that apple back and select an undamaged one instead.

Ready to wash your produce? Before you do, examine it closely. Cut away any areas that are damaged or bruised. What if you find mold or rot? Produce that has become moldy or rotten needs to be thrown away. You cannot simply cut off the mold or rot that you see and assume the rest is safe. In reality, the mold or rot can be all through the produce (even if you can’t see it).

What if you are planning on peeling the produce before serving it? Go ahead and wash it anyway. Doing so will help remove the dirt and bacteria that is on the produce before it can be spread to other foods.

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Fresh Bananas Coupon + My Favorite Banana Bread Recipe

Posted on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015 at 10:08 am
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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 5/18/2015.Save 20%.

It’s 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 5/11/2015.

Stock up on some delicious avocados and then try this recipe for my favorite Banana Bread!

Here are this banana sales happening this week:

Walgreens (7/26 - 8/1)
Banana Boat & Hawaiian Tropic; Mix & Match
Banana Boat Sun Care Products B1G1 50% OFF
Albertson's - Southern California Division (7/29 - 8/4)
Harris Teeter (7/29 - 8/4)
Mt. Olive Mild Banana Peppers, 12 oz $1.50
Whole Foods Market - Northeast Region (7/29 - 8/4)
Pound Cake, 14 oz $2.99 Made In-House, Includes: Banana, Blueberry or Vanilla
ShopRite (7/26 - 8/1)
Prices may vary by region; Limit 4 per variety
Vital & Delicious Energy Loaf, 7.6 oz $3.99 Includes: Apple/Cinnamon or Banana
Sprouts OC/LA (7/29 - 8/5)
Bananas, Organic, per lb $0.77 $0.77 Buy 1 pound. Pay $0.77 OOP. Submit for $0.25 rebate. Final Price: $0.53
Publix - Wednesday (7/29 - 8/4)
B1G1 Sale Priced Based On Purchasing A Single Item
Diana's Bananas, 9.5 - 10.5 oz $2.45
Trader Joe's (7/28- 8/4)
Prices May Vary By Region
Trader Joe's Gone Bananas, 8 oz $1.99
Trader Joe's Organic Banana Chips, 16 oz $2.99


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