Below are some of my favorite Quick Tips on eating healthier, living green, maintaining sanity, staying active, and just anything that makes life easier and more enjoyable! I hope you find them helpful …
- Herb Storage
A good way to keep herbs fresh and crisp is to rinse in cold water, snip the ends & remove any bad sections, and stick into a glass filled with an inch or so of cold water. Cover loosely with ziplocks and the herbs will stay much nicer than the limp, ugly herbs at the bottom of your crisper
- Presentable sliced fruit
If you’re baking or otherwise using a recipe with sliced fruit that you worry may become brown (such as apples or pears) the key to keeping the fruit beautiful is SPRITE. I’m sure you’ve heard of sprinkling lemon juice, but I’ve found sprite works better and is easier to do. Simply slice your fruit and place in a small dish filled with sprite for about 30 seconds. Take out, pat dry, and you will have fruit that stays pretty & presentable!
- My favorite homemade cleaners
I’ve already posted about a homemade recipe for de-clogging drains (see below). But I also regularly 2 other homemade cleaners – these are budget-friendly and use easy to find ingredients that are safe for you and the environment. The first is a daily shower spray. Mix 6 to 8 cups of a 50/50 water and white vinegar mixture in a spray bottle. Add a dash of dish soup and 20 drops of essential oil (I use lavender or citrus). Shake and use daily to spray down your shower and prevent mold/mildew buildup. You can buy essential oil online or in health food stores – get %100 essential oil, not perfume oil. To get a deep clean in the kitchen, I make a paste of baking soda and a dash of dish soup. Then, take a halved lemon and using the lemon as a sponge, spread the paste over the surface of your counter tops, stove, and sink. Scrub as you would with a normal cleaner, rinse off with hot water, and dry. Everything will shine and smell like lemon!
- Become a “Perimeter” Shopper
My main lifestyle motto is MODERATION. However, when you’re completely changing your diet from bad to better, you may need to completely keep some things out of your diet. The first thing I suggest to anyone trying to eat better – stay away from the center of the grocery store. Most groceries are designed so that the produce, dairy, and meats are around the perimeter of the store. The majority of the stuff in the middle is junk – with the exception of staples like flour, oil, pasta, etc. If you need staples, simply stick to those aisles and completely bypass the chips, cookies, candy, etc. The easiest way to keep yourself from buying, and thus eating, junk food is to stay away from it completely. If you have little ones, this will keep them from being enticed by junk as well.
- Green Drain Cleaner/De-clogger
Now you can buy earth-friendly cleaning products almost anywhere. However, I haven’t seen a natural drain de-clogger product on the market. Because they are so bad for the environment, for people, and pets, I use a natural method that is actually a lot of fun (remember making volcanoes in school?). Simply pour a cup of dry baking soda down your drain, let sit for a minute or two and then slowly pour white distilled vinegar down the drain. The baking soda will bubble and start clearing the drain. You want to keep the baking soda down the drain so cover with a tile or something similar. Let sit for 30 minutes. Heat up a kettle or pot full of water and then slowly pour down the drain. It should be clean and clear with no horrible fumes! If you had a seriously clogged drain, simply repeat the process until clear.
- Healthy Kitchen
Follow these quick tips for keeping your kitchen free of any health risks (which I may add is relatively low, but safe is better than sorry) associated with food-borne infections. Some of these tips may elicit a “duh,” but I’ve seen far too many dirty kitchens to know these tips can be useful! First, keep all meats properly refrigerated and in separate plastic bags to prevent any leaks. Second, I like to use separate cutting boards for meats and produce. This prevents me from accidentally cutting the tomato I plan on eating raw, on a board with chicken juice. When washing cutting boards, make sure the water is hot! Wash all fresh produce (even if it says pre-washed) in cool water. Lastly, wash your hands often if working with raw meats. Some cooks would surely scoff at this confession, but I often use powder-free latex gloves when working with meat. It makes me feel better knowing I don’t have raw meat under my nails and it makes clean-up much faster.
- Homemade breadcrumbs
A perfect way to use up bread that has gone stale, but hasn’t started to mold, is to bake some homemade breadcrumbs. To do this, simply crumble up the bread (I use anything from french baguettes to hamburger buns) on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees. Once crisp and brown, take out and cool completely. You can then process the bread in a food processor to your desired consistency. Store in an airtight container and they will stay for several weeks. You could be surprised by what makes great breadcrumbs – my favorite is onion sandwich rolls. The onions give the crumbs wonderful flavor and smell delicious.
- Oh Pooh, Sticky Icky Tops!
I recently discovered a great trick for dealing with sticky tops – in my case, a sticky icky honey jar. Simply place the top in the sink upside down and spray generously with Pam (I prefer the flour version). I did this over 2 months ago and my honey jar is still twisting brilliantly. I also spray spoons with Pam when I need to scoop out honey or some other sticky ingredient.
- Wheat Germ, Wheat Germ, Wheat Germ
I’ve always been a big fan of ground flax seed – I grind it on salads all the time to give an extra vitamin boost. But I just recently got turned on to wheat germ – which is the portion of the wheat kernel that is removed prior to processing into flour. You can usually find it near the cereal/granola section of your grocer. You can buy plain or honey roasted (my favorite) and it has a light nutty flavor. I scoop it on yogurt, oatmeal, and fruit. It’s delicious and full of iron, folic acid, and zinc – which is why I would definitely recommend for vegetarians. Like flax seed, it’s a very easy & affordable way to get more vitamins in your diet from whole foods, not supplements.
Try this, my healthy version of banana pudding: slice a banana into a bowl, scoop a few spoonfuls of plain organic yogurt and honey roasted wheatgerm onto the bananas, mix & enjoy! Great breakfast or snack – perfect for children.
- Used dryer sheets
I know there are probably hundreds of uses for used dryer sheets – but this is the only one I actually use on a normal basis. I save my used sheets in a ziplock and store under the sink. When I have a crusty, yucky skillet or other cookware, I place a sheet in the skillet and add a dab of soap and hot water. Let it soak, and a bit later you can clean the skillet without scrubbing!
- House-cleaning workout
Unfortunately house-cleaning is just one of those things that must be done. I’m a pretty neat person so nothing feels better than a clean, fresh smelling home. However, actually doing the cleaning can seem like a drag so I try to mutli-task when I clean. I put on my workout clothes, play high energy music, and basically treat my cleaning like a workout. I run up and down the stairs and keep a fast pace for everything. This may sound like double the pain for some but I find it makes the cleaning go faster and less painful because I feel like I’m accomplishing 2 things at once. After I finish one task (like a bathroom) I take a stretch break and do a few sit-ups or push-ups. If you have a large job you may want to step outside, walk around the block, and then come back for more cleaning and a nice glass of ice water. Try it and you may like it!