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How to save on food and eat healthy, too!

“It’s so expensive to eat healthy!!” is the mom’s lament.  But I’m here to tell you not to believe it!

Yes, it’s true that the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables are variable, seasonal and can take a good chunk of your money. But, did you know that there are perfectly nutritious, dirt cheap healthy food items on store shelves that you ought to be tossing into your cart?

Frozen foods
Frozen spinach – The frozen stuff represents about 3-4 whole bags of fresh spinach cooked down and ready to eat.  And it costs pennies per serving.

Frozen Brussels sprouts – The frozen sprouts are normally trimmed and ready to serve so there is no waste.  When you buy the fresh ones, you do lose a few leaves and ounces from each batch.

Frozen Organic Edamame – On a price per pound basis, a little goes a long way and they cost much less than even the cheapest cut of beef.

Canned goods
Canned peaches – Most canned peaches come from California at the peak of the season and retain their nutrients as well as texture.  Each can holds about 3 peaches which is less than a buck a peach.  Even in peak season, fresh, local peaches can cost more than that. These peaches are available in juice rather than sugar water and are great in smoothies, on pancakes or ice cream.

Canned tomatoes – This convenience is heaven sent. All the prep that goes in to peeling and poaching tomatoes can’t be quantified. The buck or so per can contributes one of the best sources of lycopene and vitamin A.

Dry Goods

Brown rice (even instant) – It contains more nutrients than white rice. For pennies per plate you can have the foundation of a variety of nourishing meals.

Red Lentils – These legumes can be stirred into any soup, pasta or sauce and they virtually disappear while adding phytonutrients and critical fibre.

Cost per nutrient fresh veg

Onions – Cheaper by the dozen and powerhouses of trace minerals.

 

Bagged Carrots – Not the baby ones! The whole carrot has much more to offer and is a fraction of the cost.

 

Cabbage – Ounce for ounce cheaper than broccoli and more versatile.  Shred into soup, pasta or make cole slaw.

 

There are hundreds of ways to cut corners on the household budget; your health need not be one of them.

 

About the Author

Theresa Albert

Theresa Albert is a Food Communications Specialist and Toronto Personal Nutritionist. She is @theresaalbert on twitter and found daily at www.myfriendinfood.com

Parenting Teens & Tweens: Tips & Tricks

 

Last week I was picking up my daughters from dance class, and was greeted by some stressed out mothers who had recently been experiencing a bit of “tween girl hormonal rage”. Considering my girls are ages 9, 12 and 13, they figured I might have some experiences and advice to share. While I think I’ve gotten off pretty easily in the hormonal attitude department, I do have a few teen girl advice tricks up my sleeve that are worth sharing:

1) Make sure they get sleep. Big kids may resent little kid bedtimes, but they need them. Kiddo bedtime at my house is 8:30pm, and that applies to everyone from toddler to teen. I don’t like kid meltdowns at any age and sleep is a good way to prevent them.

2) Don’t stoop to their level. Take a deep breath and stop yourself from getting into a screaming match and door slamming competition with your moody teens and tweens. Keep your cool and never let them see you sweat. You will only escalate the situation by getting sucked into it.

3) Don’t take their crap. Just because they have raging hormones and may lack some self-control, it doesn’t mean you have to take their verbal abuse. Expect to be spoken to with respect. Mouthy kids should be sent to their rooms or somewhere quiet to cool off.

4) Talk to them. Once they’ve chilled out a bit, you can have a productive chat and explain why the way they acted is not acceptable in the family. Chances are they feel bad for how they behaved even if they are stubborn in admitting it.

5) Keep talking to them. Was there a trigger? There might be some bigger issues going on. Did they get in a fight with a friend at school? Are they worried about a math test? Provide many opportunities throughout the day for open conversations. You never know what little tidbits might get leaked!

The most important thing I tell myself is to NEVER TAKE ANYTHING THEY SAY PERSONALLY! Remember your own experience – that moment in your early twenties you realized your parents are HUMAN and have these things called FEELINGS and they actually did so much for you? Yeah, it’ll happen. You just have a decade of exercising extreme patience ahead of you before it does.

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

 

A Floor that makes “Cents”?

About a dozen years ago, my siblings talked me into buying a cottage with them. It has worked out great – we share the cost and the work among the four of us, and the property gets a lot of use! On the rare occasion we’re all there at the same time, it makes for eight adults and 12 kids enjoying all the good stuff cottage country has to offer.

Now, I’m not one to blog about home renovation or crafts, because I’m just not very “crafty” or “house-y”. But, I have a sister who is and she recently completed a DIY project at our cottage that is so fabulous and worth sharing.

IN HER WORDS:

Since the penny was being discontinued last year, I wanted to pay it homage with a special DIY home décor project. Our not-so-special bathroom  seemed like the perfect spot where the penny could live in our consciousness long after its demise.

What’s needed?

  • An ugly floor*, preferably vinyl or laminate flooring and small, depending on your commitment to this project
  • Wax stripper
  • Floor cleaner
  • Paint
  • Glue
  • Pennies, but if you’ve got deep pockets, loonies would be cool
  • Polyurethane cuz it’s a hard finish
  • A Sealer – I used BeautiTone Epoxy Clear Coat 2 part Sealer

*pennies also stick to pretty floors

 

How I did it

  • We started with a vinyl floor that was in pretty good shape so I didn’t have to remove it.
  • I stripped it of wax and gave it a good washing. 
  • I then painted it with a flat black paint, but you can use whatever colour you want to show through. 
  • I used Weldbond glue to adhere the pennies to the floor, but any good glue would work – don’t go with the super expensive stuff -  it really isn’t necessary since you’ll be sealing the whole thing down anyway.  The Weldbond was good because it didn’t dry immediately so I was able to fix any oopsies, but once it dried the pennies really stayed put.  Put a small dot in the middle of the penny.
  • If you’re fastidious, the trickiest part is laying that first line of pennies down.  Since it was a cottage, I wasn’t really fussed about the straight lines, and would be putting down quarter round to cover up the rough edges anyway.  If you start off with a straight wall, you’re laughing.  If not, you’ll have to draw a straight line on the floor.  At some point you’re going to have to temporarily remove the toilet in order to get a smooth look to the pennies around it.  Our toilet was raised a couple of millimeters so I was able to slide them under it.
  • Once that first line is down, it’s just a matter of continuing from there. 
  • As far as colour goes, you can wash all your pennies through various means: vinegar & salt, lemon, baking soda, coca cola, etc. to get a nice shine, or just live with their current patina.
  • You can create designs based on the colours of the pennies, but I just laid them down as they came to me.  Some were vandalized, painted red or white, they went down.  Some came from our friendly neighbours to the South, they went down.  We have Irish roots plus English and Australian relations, those pennies, though different sizes, made it into the corners of the floor.  We’ve got Queen Elizabeth from when she was a girl to her current state of being.  We’ve got King Edward.  We’ve got Maple Leafs and Rock Doves (yup, pigeons).  We’ve got a row of pennies representing each child with the year of their birth, tails up.  No matter what you do, it’s bound to be beautiful.
  • Once the pennies were all down, I covered them with a coat of high gloss polyurethane to make it hard and shiny.
  • Then the epoxy sealer.

Staying down there on the floor was hard on the back, but since it was the cottage I did it over the course of a week and took lots of breaks…trickier to do this on a floor that you use every day.  

Just make sure you let each stage thoroughly dry, (which I didn’t mind, because I did my waiting down on the beach.)

 

And there you have it! A floor that makes a lot of “cents”!  So what do you think? Are you ready to beg, borrow and steal pennies to create this thing of beauty in your home? What’s your favourite DIY or home décor project?

Because my sister is not only crafty, but a little crazy – her next “paying homage” DIY project involves a “Good-bye Letterman Clock”. I’ll let you know how that one turns out!

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