Archives for March 2014

How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good: 25 Healthy Topping Ideas

How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good

Have you tried to like oatmeal but can’t?

Come here little grasshopper. I’m going to teach you how to make oatmeal taste good.

First, we need to address the top two reasons people don’t like oatmeal: the texture and the taste.

Texture: Otherwise known as “mouth feel” if you’ve been watching any Food Network. (And apparently I have.)

If you find you just can’t get past the texture of oatmeal, I have a recipe you need to try: Trader Joe’s Quinoa and Steel Cut Oats Copycat recipe. The combination of quinoa and steel cut oats gives you a less slimy bowl of oatmeal. Not to mention the added bonus of the protein boost you get from quinoa.

Taste: Plain oatmeal has no taste. I think the word “gruel” is actually pretty accurate for the taste of plain oatmeal.

That’s where these healthy topping ideas are going to change your morning bowl of oatmeal!

Never added citrus zest to your oatmeal? I’m about to Rock. Your. World.

So fasten your seatbelts folks, I’ve come up with 25 quick and healthy toppings that will change oatmeal for you forever.

How to Make Oatmeal Taste Good:

Blueberry Bonanza: Stir some lemon zest, a dash of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg into your oatmeal. Top with blueberries.

PB Booster: Stir 1 tablespoon peanut butter into oatmeal. Top with sliced bananas and chopped apples. Dust with cinnamon.

Tummy Tamer: Stir 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger and 1 teaspoon honey into oatmeal. Top with chopped fresh or dried apricots.

Banana Nut Bread: Top with chopped walnuts and banana slices.

Chocolate Peanut Butter: Stir 1 tablespoon peanut butter into oatmeal. Top with dark chocolate chips. Need a no sugar alternative to chocolate chips? Top with cacao nibs.

Berry Lemon Sensation: Stir 1 teaspoon lemon zest into oatmeal. Top with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.

Wake-Up Your Bowl: Stir in 1 teaspoon orange zest. Top with a spoonful of vanilla yogurt. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Thanksgiving Pie: Stir in a generous spoonful of pumpkin puree. Sprinkle homemade pumpkin pie spice on top. Drizzle with honey.

Pineapple Upside-Down Oatmeal: Stir a spoonful of sucanat into oatmeal. You don’t need much. Top with pineapple.

Bowl of Freedom: Top oatmeal with a spoonful of plain or vanilla yogurt. Sprinkle with strawberries and blueberries.

Cha-Cha Chai: Mix a spoonful of pumpkin puree into oatmeal. Pour a bit of chai latte concentrate over oatmeal. Make it over the top delicious by adding almond milk.

Key Lime: Stir lime zest into oatmeal. Top with vanilla or plain yogurt. If your diet allows, you could always throw in some white chocolate chips. Don’t go overboard – just enough to satisfy.

Carrot Cake: Stir fresh grated ginger into oatmeal. Top with shredded carrot and diced dried apricots. No apricots? Use raisins. Have walnuts? Throw some of them on too.

Island Breeze: Stir lime zest into oatmeal. Top with unsweetened coconut flakes and chopped macadamia nuts. If you have any coconut milk, you could stir some of that in too.

Bless Your Heart: Stir a spoonful of sweet potato puree into oatmeal. Top with chopped pecans and if your diet allows, some sucanat.

Almond Joy: Stir in a spoonful of almond butter. Top with unsweetened coconut flakes.

Nut ‘N Honey:  Top oatmeal with chopped nuts – any kind, any combination – and drizzle with honey.

Simply Sweet: Stir cinnamon into oatmeal. Top with chopped dates and raisins.

Cranberry Orange: Stir orange zest into oatmeal. Top with dried cranberries and a dusting of cinnamon.

Cherry Cocoa: Top oatmeal with cherries (I usually defrost some frozen ones) and dust with cocoa powder. Need a treat? Stir a teensy tiny bit of dark chocolate into hot oatmeal so it melts.

Crunchy Oatmeal: Throw a handful of granola into your oatmeal and stir it around. Top with milk of choice. Almond and vanilla soymilk are delightful additions.

Apple Pie: Top oatmeal with chopped apples, a dusting of apple pie spice, and top with vanilla yogurt.

Eggs-ellent Idea: Top oatmeal with a poached egg and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Savor the Idea: Add grated cheese. Parmesan is excellent, as is cheddar.

Sunday Paper Special: Stir orange zest into oatmeal. Top with sliced almonds and a drizzle of honey. And depending on how you roll, you could do a splash of Grand Marnier.

Your homework assignment: Try one, all, some. Report back on what you did or didn’t like!

DIY: How to Get Shiny Hair Naturally

How to Get Shiny Hair Naturally

If you have dull hair that lacks shine, I have a one-step remedy to get shiny hair naturally.

With three females in this house, we do lots of girly stuff. Hair, nails, scrubs…girly stuff.

Hair is big in our house. Styling, braiding, curling, crimping…All of which take time and effort.

Luckily, shiny hair is easy. Keeping our hair healthy results in shiny hair with virtually no effort.

No need to buy expensive products. The ingredient you need is in your pantry right now.

Apple cider vinegar.

Did you know apple cider vinegar works as a natural hair detangler? It also works to seal the hair cuticle, which makes your hair healthy and shiny naturally.

If you aren’t using apple cider vinegar on your hair yet, I encourage you to give it a go. The results are well worth it!

I’ve got two different methods for getting shiny hair naturally. Each of them work, it’s really just a matter of how much time you have. Method 1 requires you to plan a chunk of time prior to showering so the apple cider vinegar can soak into the hair.

If you don’t have that kind of time, Method 2 works just as well. It’s up to you!

How to Get Shiny Hair Naturally

You need:

1 spray bottle
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water

Mix the water and vinegar together in the spray bottle.

Method #1:
1. Spray onto dry hair focusing on the ends.

2. Allow to sit on the hair 10 to 15 minutes. Get in the shower and shower as usual.

Method #2:

1. Take the spray bottle with the water and apple cider vinegar and bring it into the shower with you.

2. Wash your hair in the shower as usual.

3. Use the spray instead of conditioner. Spray it all over your hair. Leave it several minutes before rinsing out.

Note: Do not condition. The apple cider vinegar acts as a natural conditioner.

That’s it! That is all you need to do to get shiny hair naturally.

Have you used apple cider vinegar on your hair before? What were the results for you?

Trader Joe’s Quinoa and Steel Cut Oats Copycat Recipe

Trader Joes Copycat Quinoa and Steel Cut Oatmeal

I made my first trip to Trader Joe’s!

Oh. My. Word. You’d think I’d never been to a grocery store before.

Everything looked good. Everything went in my cart. Because Trader Joe’s. 

One of my favorite purchases was the frozen Trader Joe’s Quinoa and Steel Cut Oatmeal.

Most mornings I’m packing lunches for the girls. So if breakfast can be quick and healthy, I’m happy!

If you’ve ever cooked steel cut oats, you know there is nothing quick about them! Most brands take about 45 minutes to cook. On a weekday, ain’t nobody got time for that!

My friend also bought a box Trader Joe’s Quinoa and Steel Cut Oatmeal. When discussing our purchases, we both had the very same comment: we were expecting more than two bowls of oatmeal out of the box.

I don’t know why. The box isn’t very big.

What I do know is I liked it enough that I decided to try to duplicate the recipe at home – making sure there were more than 2 servings!

Frozen Quinoa and Steel Cut Oats

This Trader Joe’s Quinoa and Steel Cut Oats Copycat Recipe makes up a large batch which you then freeze into individual portions using a muffin tin. Once the oatmeal is frozen, let it sit on the counter for about 15 minutes then remove the oatmeal and freeze until ready to use.

To make one full serving, heat two of the frozen oatmeal “pucks” like in the picture above. I weighed the serving at home and it comes to about 6 ounces. The Trader Joe’s serving is 8 ounces, so mine is a slightly smaller portion.

A quick note about the sweetener. The Trader Joe’s version says it is sweetened with brown sugar and maple syrup. To keep this a whole foods recipe, I used only maple syrup.

The Trader Joe’s version is also very lightly sweetened. Use my recipe as a starting point. If you need more sweetener, you can add it after you’ve microwaved it.

Trader Joe’s Quinoa and Steel Cut Oats Copycat Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Cook the steel cut oats according to package directions.
  3. Once cooked, stir together.
  4. Spoon quinoa and steel cut oats into muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon maple syrup to each muffin cup. Add 1 tablespoon water to each muffin cup.
  6. Cover and freeze.
  7. Once quinoa and oatmeal is frozen, set out on the counter for about 15 minutes so you can easily remove it from the muffin tin.
  8. Place in a freezer safe container.
  9. To reheat:
  10. Remove 2 frozen oatmeal "pucks" and place in a microwave safe dish.
  11. Microwave for 2 minutes. Break pucks up using a spoon and stir. Microwave an additional 1 1/2 minutes to 2 minutes until heated through. Allow to stand 30 seconds before stirring and serving.
http://naturalgreenmom.com/trader-joes-quinoa-and-steel-cut-oats-copycat-recipe/

If you’ve had the Trader Joe’s Quinoa and Steel Cut Oatmeals, give this a try and let me know how you think it compares! This has become my go-to breakfast, and I’ve found I’m making up a batch most Sundays to carry me through the week.

All Natural Makeup Brands List: Natural Beauty Must-Haves

Natural Beauty Must-Haves

Do you think all natural makeup brands are inferior? That they are more expensive? That they don’t work?

Allow me to introduce you to my favorite natural makeup brands – complete with recommends of what I have found actually work!

But before I lead you down the virtual makeup aisle, I’d like you to consider this: Your skin is the largest organ on your body. Most of what you apply to your skin gets absorbed into your body.

If you are using conventional products, you could be using as many as 500 chemicals on your body before breakfast.

As a mom of two daughters, I want to know the beauty products we are using don’t contain toxins or the chemicals that can disrupt hormones. Because this is important to me, I used the skin deep database to double check all products.

Here’s my natural makeup brands list and what I use:

1. Physicians Formula Organic Wear

Natural beauty products should leave you looking like a natural beauty.

Enter pressed powder. It goes on lightly and leaves your skin looking smooth.

What to try: Physicians Formula Organic Wear Pressed Powder

2. Tarte

I had to include two Tarte products in my recommendations. I love both the cheek and lip stains. The colors flatter everyone. They go on easily and look natural. They cost a bit more, but they last forever.

What to try: Cheek Stain
I also love: Natural Lip Stain

3. Burt’s Bees

While I love the whole Burt’s Bees line, the Burt’s Bees lip balms top my must-have list.

Chapped lips aren’t attractive. Not to mention they hurt, can split and can even bleed. Which is why a good lip balm is perhaps my favorite product in my beauty arsenal.

I keep Burt’s Bees Lip Balm in my nightstand drawer and the last thing I do at night is swipe it on. The grapefruit scent makes me happy. Truly.

What to try: Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, Pink Grapefruit

4. Juice Beauty

What do you want out of a cleanser? Something that cleans without making you breakout or dry out?

This cleansing milk delivers. It removes makeup and leaves your skin feeling silky.

What to try: Cleansing Milk

5. W3LL People

I have dark circles under my eyes. DARK circles.

I’m embarrassed by them.

In fact, I’m so embarrassed that I can run the kids to school in my pjs, without brushing my hair, but I HAVE to put concealer on under my eyes.

And I’m not going to bring up how my two girls get the occasional pimple they want to cover.

What to try: Narcissist Concealer + Foundation Stick

6. bareMinerals

If you aren’t using bareMinerals, it is affordable, works great, and gets high ratings in the skin deep database.

I’m recommending their eyeshadow. I don’t wear eyeshadow everyday. In fact, I only use it a few times a year.

But when I do go through the effort, I want it to go on smooth, to stay vivid and to stay put!

What to try: Eyeshadows 2.0 Duos

7. Vapour Organic Beauty

I feel naked with out eyeliner. This formula glides on plus it comes with a smudging tool in case you go for the smoky look.

What to try: Mesmerize Eyeliner with Smoky Eye Tool, Truffle

Isn’t it time you switched to all natural makeup?

If you have a natural makeup recommendation, I’d love to hear it! Please share your successes with us in the comments.

Know of someone who would like this information? Please share it! Everyone deserves safe cosmetics.

Wondering Which Foods to Buy Organic?

Which Foods to Buy Organic

Are you wondering which foods to buy organic? 

While not everyone can agree that buying food organically grown is healthier, no one can argue that they don’t contain fewer pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.

By definition, buying food with the USDA organic label means the product was grown free of chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers, was not treated with antibiotics, and contains no additives. In addition, for a food to be labeled organic, the food can not be genetically modified or irradiated.

Start by buying these 14 produce items organically grown to greatly reduce your exposure to chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

organic

PRODUCE

Apples
Bell Peppers
Carrots
Celery
Cherries
Imported Grapes
Lettuce
Nectarine
Peach
Pears
Potatoes
Red Raspberries
Spinach
Strawberries

Change to buying these four meat and dairy products organically grown, and you can reduce the number of antibiotics and growth hormones you are exposed to daily.

MEAT and DAIRY:

Chicken
Beef
Eggs
Milk

Finally, if you are purchasing baby food, buying organic protects your baby from harmful pesticides that can interfere with infant development.

The lists aren’t long and you probably don’t buy all of these items every single week. This list is meant to get your started on an organic diet. As your budget allows, it makes sense to make sure the items you buy the most of each week are also purchased organically grown.

How to Get FREE Groceries Every Week (Without Extreme Couponing)

Simple tips for ways to get free groceries.
How to Get Free Groceries

Are you getting your free groceries every week?

If you answered no, why not?

If you shop any of the following grocery chains, or have access to one, make sure you are getting your FREE groceries. Most offers simply require you to register your grocery store loyalty card. It takes seconds to do, and you are rewarded with free groceries.

PLEASE READ: These coupons are rarely for organic or natural products!!! However, if you shop any of these stores, or use any of these rebate programs, it is worth finding out what free groceries are being offered from week to week. Not only do we strike organic gold from time to time, but you may find that by getting a few of these free products, you’ve freed up some grocery money to spend on organics!

SavingStar

SavingStar Friday Freebie

SavingStar is the best place to start to find free grocery offers because it isn’t specific to any one grocery chain. If your grocery store has a loyalty card program, it most likely can be used with SavingStar.

Each week SavingStar  has started to offer a Friday Freebie. The product varies each week and you have one week to purchase the product. Each week you must add the Friday Freebie coupon to your account.

Using SavingStar is simple:

Register your loyalty card on SavingStar.
Each Friday, add the Friday Freebie to your account.
Purchase the product.
Your purchase amount will automatically be added to your account when you use your loyalty card at checkout.
Payment for the product is made through PayPal or you can elect to get paid in gift cards.

Safeway Just for You

Safeway Just for You Free Grocery Offer

If you have a Safeway, make sure you are enrolled in their Just For You program. When you enroll in Just for You, you are rewarded with FREE grocery offers.

Redeeming these free grocery offers is easy:

Add the free offer to your loyalty card using Just for You.
Find and purchase the product at your Safeway.
When you scan your loyalty card (or enter your phone number) at checkout, the amount automatically comes off your bill!

I add these to my Safeway card using the link they send me in my weekly email. It takes seconds to do and I’m rewarded with FREE groceries.

Kroger/King Soopers Free Download Friday

Kroger Free Download Friday

The Kroger/King Soopers chain offers a weekly Free Friday Download.

To get your Free Friday Download:

Register your loyalty card with the Kroger/King Soopers website.
Each Friday, visit the Free Friday Download page and load the offer onto your card.
You MUST add the coupon to your card each Friday to get the deal.
Find and purchase the product at your store.
When you scan your loyalty card (or enter your phone number) at checkout, the amount automatically comes off your bill!

Earth Fare

Earth Fare Organic Grapes coupon

Sign up for Earth Fare’s weekly email and they will email you with all free grocery offers. There seems to be a new one every week!

Earth Fare free offers require that you print the coupon sent to you in your email.
OR, if you prefer, you can choose to text “EAT” to 71700 and get the coupons delivered to your phone.
Please note: some of these free offers do require a minimum purchase.

Publix

Publix Free Grocery Offer

Have you registered your Publix loyalty card to be able to add eCoupons to your card?

Once you do that, each week before you head out to the store, do a quick browse of the Publix eCoupons online. While they don’t have a free grocery offer each week, they do have the occasional free grocery eCoupons.

Do you shop somewhere that offers free grocery coupons that I haven’t covered here? Please leave the information in the comments section below so we can all save!

Need more savings ideas? Read my 5 Secret Ways to Save at Amazon.com (You’ve never heard of!)

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Whole Grain Muffin Recipe

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Whole Grain Muffin Recipe

It is impossible to resist a warm muffin straight out of the oven.

Therein lies the beauty of this raspberry chocolate chip whole grain muffin recipe.

You can keep this batter in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Bake only the amount of muffins you will eat hot, fresh out of the oven. Then keep the rest of the batter for the next day. And once again enjoy hot, fresh muffins straight out of the oven.

Raspberry Chocolate Chip Whole Grain Muffin Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Grease a muffin tin.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the two flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. On slow, beat in sour cream and vanilla, scraping sides of bowl.
  5. Once sour cream is well incorporated, add the dry ingredients and beat on low until the batter is smooth.
  6. Mix the raspberries and chocolate chips in by hand.
  7. Refrigerate for at least one hour. At this point, may be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
  8. Preheat oven to 400.
  9. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake muffins for 22 to 26 minutes.
http://naturalgreenmom.com/raspberry-chocolate-chip-whole-grain-muffin-recipe/

Raspberries and chocolate chips are only one flavor combination you can use in this recipe. Try skipping the chocolate chips and using raspberries and blueberries. Or try all blueberries and add some lemon zest.

If you come up with a winning combination, let us know!