5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

On April 22, 192 countries from around the world will all celebrate a very important holiday—Earth Day!

Schools will plant trees, groups will pick up trash in community parks, and thousands of people will pitch in to help clean up our earth in an effort to keep it beautiful for generations to come. This holiday is such a great reminder to all of us about how we must take care of the earth we live on.

We at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction believe we should take care of our earth as if every day is earth day. Which is why, on this holiday, we want to share a few ideas of things you can do to celebrate earth day that will help keep our planet clean and safe.

This Earth Day, and every day after, see if you can put some of these activities into action.

Picnic and Park Cleanup

Every now and then it’s nice to pack up a picnic lunch, head to your favorite park, and enjoy time outside with your friends and family.

The next time you head out for a picnic, we suggest you bring a few trash bags with you.

Before you dig into your delicious picnic basket, spend 15 minutes with your friends or family walking around the park, picking up trash. The more people you have, the quicker you’ll be able to clean up your park.

After you’ve collected your trash, dump it in the nearest trash can, wash up with some hand sanitizer or wet wipes, and then reward yourself for a job well done by diving into your picnic feast.

Take a Bike Trip

There’s nothing more fun than a bike ride on a nice sunny day—except maybe taking a bike ride to grab some ice cream or another one of your favorite treats.

If you live in town and can bike to your local ice cream parlor, celebrate Earth Day with a bike ride to grab a sweet treat.

Taking your bike instead of a car cuts down on gas emissions, which pollute the earth. Plus, you’ll get some good exercise as you ride your bike.

We then encourage you, if you feel safe enough, to take your bike instead of a car wherever you can. We understand this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you live in a community with safe bike paths, give it a try!

Plant a Garden in Your Yard

Planting a garden is a great way to make your yard look beautiful while helping the earth.

Planting a flower garden helps the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds get the food they need from nectar to thrive. More important, flowers provide bees with the energy they need to pollenate our food sources so we can eat fresh produce.

If you’re a tree lover, planting trees is great, too! Adding a few new trees in your backyard is good for increasing oxygen levels as trees take unbreathable CO2 emissions and turn it into oxygen.

Last but not least, you can also plant a veggie garden. The flowers on the vegetables provide bees with food. In return, the bees pollinate the flowers so that your vegetables can bud and grow. Bonus, you get the reward of having fresh organic veggies when you grow your own garden!

Make a Recycle Bin for Your Home

Every day people throw recyclable materials, like plastic, in the trash. And this is a problem because plastic doesn’t decompose.

When nonbiodegradable products are put in landfills, they pollute the earth and can even put animals at risk. If you’ve ever seen pictures of animals caught in plastic soda rings or images of birds and other critters tangled in plastic bags, you know what we’re talking about.

The good news is you can help change this problem.

All you have to do is go out to the store and get a bin. If you’d like, you can decorate it and label it “recycle.” Then all you need to do is throw your plastic containers, cardboard, and glass products in the recycle bin instead of the trash.

Once you’ve collected a full bin of recyclable materials, dump it in your outdoor recycle trash bin, or bring it to your local recycling center.

Turn Trash into Treasure with Repairing and Repurposing

These days, people are quick to throw things in the trash without trying to fix or reuse what they are throwing away.

A great example is a basketball that has a leak. Instead of throwing away the basketball, you may be able to fix it with a simple patch job. When you can repair instead of throwing away your things, you create less waste.

On the other hand, there are things that can’t be repaired or used in the same way again.

One example is an old t-shirt that no longer fits because you’ve grown. Instead of just throwing it in the trash, there are several things you can do with it.

First, you could donate it to someone in need, as long as it’s in good condition.

If it’s not in good condition, consider cutting it up into small cleaning rags and using those pieces of clothes to clean instead of buying a new package of washcloths at the store.

If you use some creativity, there are many ways you can repurpose older things into new things.

Do you do anything special to celebrate Earth Day? Share it with us in the comments below!

3 Reasons to Drink More Water

Your body is made up of about 70% water. Sounds, crazy, but it’s true! And your body depends on all that water.

This large percentage of fluid helps to regulate the temperate of your body’s cells, organs, and tissues and maintain other bodily functions. Without it, we could not live.

In fact, even being slightly dehydrated can cause problems, like dizziness and headaches—our bodies’ own warning signs that it’s time to rehydrate!

Now here’s the million-dollar question…what does water do in our bodies that makes it so important? Keep reading to find out why it’s important to stay hydrated!

Water Helps Us Transport and Metabolize Food

Water is an essential element in transporting waste and fluids. It’s also vital to metabolizing food. Without it, the proper chemical reactions of digestion cannot occur.

And when you’re unable to digest food properly, you’ll be certain to experience abdominal discomfort and a bad tummy ache.

Not to mention, the carbohydrates and proteins that our bodies use as food are also metabolized and transported by water in the bloodstream. If we don’t have enough water in our system, we are unable to absorb the nutrients we need to stay energized and healthy.

Water Helps Removes Toxins from the Body

The body needs fluids to flush out the body’s toxins and waste products.

When hydrated, water moves through the kidneys, liver, and intestines to help cleanse and rid your body of harmful toxins.

Water also naturally suppresses the appetite, which helps the body metabolize and get rid of stored fat deposits—another form of flushing out stored-up waste.

Water Regulates Body Temperature

Water is essential for regulating the body’s cooling system.

It works by enabling the body to release heat when the temperature is higher than our body temperature. In other words, it allows us to sweat, which is our body’s most efficient way to cool itself when overheated.

Clearly, water does a lot for the body, and it’s very important. But, not everyone consumes enough water to help her body function at its best.

Personally, we think making flavored water is a great way to encourage us to drink more. So, to help you start drinking more water on a daily basis, we’re going to share a delicious flavored water recipe with you.

Check it out…

Strawberry Mint Water

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 8 sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup of mint leaves
  • 40 oz. of cold purified water
  • Ice

Directions:

#1 Slice up 6-8 strawberries.

#2 Crush 1 cup of mint leaves.

#3 Add ingredients to 40 oz. of water. If needed, add ice.

#4 Let sit for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, to let flavors meld together.

#5 Enjoy!

Recipe source: http://www.inspiredbythis.com/dwell/berry-infused-water/

What do you do to make sure you drink lots of water? Share in the comments below!

Delicious and Nutritious Plants for Your Spring Vegetable Garden

Spring has officially sprung, and it’s time to start planting your spring garden, packed with delicious and nutritious veggies. Yum!

If you’ve never planted a vegetable garden before, or are looking for some new ideas for your existing garden, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re going to share some of our favorite veggies that thrive in gardens during the cooler spring months.

Even better, we’re going to share some delicious recipes you can use once your veggies are mature and ready to harvest.

Keep reading to discover the best types of veggies to plant this time of year and a variety of different recipes you can use to make these nutritious veggies taste great!

Lettuce

From iceberg to romaine, spring is the prime season for growing lettuce. In fact, it’s the best time you should have this leafy vegetable in your garden.

That’s because as soon as the weather gets hot, lettuce wilts and dies. So, start planting now!

We recommend growing romaine lettuce in your garden. The darker-colored lettuce varieties tend to have more vitamins and nutrients, like manganese, potassium, biotin, vitamin B1, copper, iron, and vitamin C, and are a very good source of dietary fiber.

Once you’ve harvested your lettuce, try out this delicious lettuce wrap recipe!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons peanut oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, drained and diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup julienned green onions
  • 12 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Directions:

#1. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken in 1 tablespoon oil for 3 minutes; drain. Add the mushrooms, water chestnuts and ginger; cook 4-6 minutes longer or until chicken is no longer pink. Drain and set aside.

#2. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and remaining oil. Stir in the carrots, onions and chicken mixture.

#3. Spoon onto lettuce leaves; sprinkle with almonds. If desired, fold sides of lettuce over filling and roll up. Yield: 6 servings.

Recipe source: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chicken-lettuce-wraps 

Broccoli  

Broccoli is another hardy cool weather veggie, which makes it perfect for springtime planting.

The best part—it’s a very low maintenance plant to grow. As long as you plant it in an area with full access to sunlight and water it every day, you’ll have beautiful broccoli stalks shooting up in your garden before you know it.

Tip: Broccoli does not like hot weather. For this reason, we advise you to pick up partially grown stalks from your local plant nursery so it has time to mature before summer hits.

Once harvested, each stalk is packed with dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin B1, vitamin A, potassium, and copper. All of these nutrients are vital for a healthy body.

When your broccoli is ready to eat, we recommend trying out this broccoli salad recipe.

Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5-6 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 1 pound of florets)
  • 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup cooked, crumbled bacon
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of frozen peas, thawed (or fresh peas if you can get them)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions:

#1. Bring a large pot of water, salted with a teaspoon of salt, to a boil. Add the broccoli florets. Cook 1-2 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want the broccoli. 1 minute will turn the broccoli bright green, and leave it still pretty crunchy. 2 minutes will cook the broccoli through, but still firm.

#2. Drain the broccoli and immediately put into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. After the broccoli cools, drain it well before dressing it in the next step.

#3. Combine broccoli florets, almonds, crumbled bacon, chopped onion, and peas in a large serving bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, cider vinegar and honey.

#4. Add dressing to the salad and toss to mix well. Chill thoroughly before serving.

Recipe Source: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/broccoli_salad/

Asparagus

Asparagus is a delicious and hardy spring vegetable. The only downside—this type of produce tends to be expensive when you buy it from a grocery store.

The solution: Grow your own at home and save big!

Because asparagus is typically grown from asparagus crowns that you buy at your local garden store, this veggie is pretty easy to grow. It’s also low maintenance, which makes it the perfect vegetable for those who are new to gardening.

On top of being easy to grow, it’s also very nutritious. It’s a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K. It also contains chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.

Pretty neat!

Personally, my favorite way to consume asparagus is by cooking it on the grill.

Simply coat the asparagus stalks in a little bit of olive oil, then lightly salt and pepper.

Throw the stacks directly on the grill, or use a grill pan, and cook for about 10-15 minutes. The longer you cook the stalks, the softer they will become.

Super easy and delicious!

Tip: You can add whatever seasoning you like to asparagus. Experiment with different seasoning combinations until you find the flavoring you like best!

Do you have a favorite spring vegetable?

Let us know in the comments below!

Gratitude: Why You Don’t Need to Find a Pot of Gold to Feel Lucky This Month

 During the month of March, people often think of lucky four-leaf clovers, chasing leprechauns, and finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It’s the month of luck after all!

Sure, finding a pot of treasure or stumbling upon a stash of golden horseshoes would be lucky, but the chances of that happening—unless you’re a treasure hunter–are slim to none.

That’s ok.

At The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we believe it’s best to create your own luck, so that every day can be a great day!

Keep reading to discover some of our favorite ways you can remind yourself just how lucky you really are and show gratitude for everything you have.

Reflect on the Good Things in Life

It’s really easy to get caught reflecting on the bad things in life…like being diagnosed with cancer, losing a loved one, or being stressed out at work.

Yet, when we take a minute and begin to reflect on the good things in life, we realize there is often more good than bad happening in our lives.

Think about how lucky you are to have loving friends and family in your life that are there to support you whenever you need them. If you don’t have a lot of close friends or family, perhaps you have a pet that is always available for a snuggle.

Do you have a home, a warm bed to sleep in, and food to eat? Sadly, there are many people in the world that don’t. We consider ourselves lucky to have those things.

Chances are you’re reading this blog post from a computer or a smartphone. Just the fact that you have access to technology is very lucky! Not to mention other luxuries like electricity, a TV to watch, the ability to call friends and family via your cell phone, etc.

You see, when you start thinking about how many good things you have in your life, you don’t need “leprechaun magic” to realize just how good you have it!

Volunteer or Help Those in Need

Sometimes the best way to realize how lucky we are is put ourselves in the same room as those who aren’t as lucky.

The best way to do this is volunteering.

Working a soup kitchen is a great way to remind ourselves how lucky we are to have food in our stomach.

Volunteering at a homeless shelter is a wonderful way to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to have our own beds to sleep in.

And spending time with sick children or adults in a hospital is the best way to show us how lucky we are for our good health—regardless of the health issues you’ve faced in the past.

Volunteer for a cause that is close to your heart, and I promise you won’t need to find a pot of gold to feel rich in your blessings.

Create Your Own Luck

Good fortune is often the result of a lot of hard work.

Think about it…many millionaires who own thriving businesses started with nothing, working out of their garages. But, with hard work, they now live a very fortunate lifestyle.

If you feel as if you’ve been stuck in a rut without any good luck, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, follow your dreams, and create your own good luck for the future.

Have the tools and resources you need to start your dream business? Do it!

Need to finish your college degree to help make a comfortable life for you and your family? Hit the books!

Do you dream of traveling the world? Start saving a little money each month to make that dream a reality.

With a little hard work and planning, you’ll have the potential to do whatever you set your mind to—how lucky is that!

How do you make your own luck? Let us know in the comments below!

The Benefits of Animal Therapy

 Different animals, such as dogs, cats, or horses, all have one thing in common. They all provide humans with unconditional love and affection.

This trait makes our furry friends perfect for animal therapy. And it’s certainly no secret.

Hundreds of thousands of people around the world—from people battling cancer to children who are afraid of going to the dentist—reap the benefits of animal therapy on a daily basis in order to live a happy and healthy life.

Would you or someone you know benefit from animal therapy?

Check out a few of the most common reasons people seek out the comfort of therapy animal companions.

Anxiety

If you’ve ever noticed that you feel better when you’re around your pet, you’re not the only one.

Many doctors and scientists claim that petting an animal releases “feel good” hormones into your bloodstream, which make you feel calm and relaxed. Many studies also claim that the action of petting an animal helps lower blood pressure.

These things combined help the body relax—something very important for someone who suffers from anxiety.

If you’re ever feeling anxious, and you have a pet in your home, trying spending a little time curled up on the couch with your furry buddy…it may help!

Warning: If you ever find yourself suffering from an anxiety attack and the comfort of an animal doesn’t help, contact a friend, family member, or your doctor immediately for help.

Trauma

If you or a loved one has ever experienced some sort of trauma in life, you know how hard it can be to pick up the pieces and move forward.

Healing from trauma—whether it be physical, mental, or emotional—takes time, patience, and love.

The good news…most of our fluffy friends are experts at providing unconditional love and affection. Not to mention, as long as some petting is involved, most animals are willing to lie down with their owners (or the people they are visiting) and provide support as long as it’s needed.

There’s nothing like having a loyal buddy to stick with you when the times are rough.

Depression

When people fall into a depression due to illness, life-changing events, stress, etc., it can be very lonely.

Yet, despite the loneliness, it’s not common for people who are depressed to have the desire to socialize with others. Time spent in isolation can make depression worse.

It’s an awful cycle of feeling sad and lonely—a cycle no one should have to experience.

Therapy animals are great for people who are depressed because they open up a low-pressure outlet for socialization. They provide people with a “friend” during the times they need companionship most.

Even better—because animals require exercise and time outside—they can even help people get up and moving who would otherwise be confined to their bed or couch.

An Extra Set of “Paws”

Aside from emotional support, many people use therapy animals if they have a disability or are recovering from an illness, as an extra set of “paws” around the house.

Dogs can be trained to retrieve items, call people in case of emergencies, detect if an owner is going to have a seizure, and so much more.

Cats, with their keen sense of smell, can also be trained to sniff out danger and warn their owner if a medical emergency is about to occur.

Even horses—typically miniature horses—can be trained and used as “guide services” for the blind.

It’s truly incredible what our four-legged friends are capable of.

If you or someone you love enjoys animals and is in need of emotional or physical support, ask your doctor if a therapy animal would be appropriate!

Do you have a therapy pet? Tell us about your furbaby in the comments below!

5 Self-Care Tips

 

Between working full-time jobs, taking care of our families, and juggling day-to-day activities, it’s easy to forget about self-care and put everyone and everything else before our own needs.

Think about it…

How many times have you put your own desires on the back burner in order to cater to someone else, whether it be work, your partner, or your children?

There’s nothing wrong with taking care of others.

In fact, the ability to put others before yourself is a beautiful gift that not everyone has. But serving others doesn’t mean you should stop taking care of yourself.

Self-care, especially when you are someone who puts yourself last, is an extremely important topic. That’s why, this week, we’re sharing with you easy tips to ensure you get the self-care you need so you can live a happy, healthy, and balanced life.

Keep reading to discover a few self-care tips that you can easily implement into your schedule every week.

Schedule Weekly “Me Time”

Long work days, carpooling your kids to various activities, being there for a friend who needs a shoulder to cry on, and other similar activities eat up a lot of your time. And when you have a servant’s heart, it can be really hard to say no when someone needs you.

That’s why it is so important to block time off during your week that is “me time.”

Some people need an hour every night to relax and refresh, while others need an hour every other day. It’s up to you how much time you think you’ll need.

The idea is that whatever amount of time you block off is for you and you only.

Don’t let anyone schedule plans with you during that time. Tell your partner you will be unavailable during your “you time” so he or she can help with the chores or kids or manage anything else that needs to get done.

Turn off your phone and computer so people don’t have access to you.

Use your time to relax, unwind, and enjoy the things you love to do.

Cook a Meal You Love Once a Week

For those of you that have children and/or a picky partner, cooking can often be a chore.

You may find yourself making mac-n-cheese 3 nights a week because your children won’t eat anything else. Or maybe you refrain from making your favorite vegetarian dish because your significant other doesn’t enjoy veggies.

It’s ok to compromise and make meals that will make everyone happy…but what about you?

Every once in a while, you deserve to indulge in your favorite foods, too. That’s why, once a week, you should treat yourself to cooking your favorite meal.

If your kids or spouse doesn’t enjoy what you make one night a week, there’s always bread and peanut butter in the pantry.

If you don’t want to search for a good recipe, check out some of our favorites:

Quick and Easy Soup Recipes

Quick and Healthy Meal Recipes 

Simple Charleston-Area Recipes 

Visit a Spa

Everyone deserves to be pampered once in a while—even you!

If you are able, a trip to the spa to get your nails done or get a massage is a great way to relax and take care of yourself. Let someone take care of you for a change!

If you know a handful of other women that need some self-care, get a group of girlfriends together and make it a fun outing.

If you’re in the Charleston, South Carolina area, we recommend these local spas.

Get Some Exercise

Part of self-care is ensuring your body is healthy and happy. This means partaking in some form of exercise every week to keep your mind clear and your body strong.

This doesn’t mean spending hours breaking your back at the gym. That’s no fun. We encourage you to pick activities you love, like yoga, walking, Zumba, etc.

There are many forms of exercise, like hiking or dance classes, that you can do in groups. Make your self-care exercise time more fun by inviting your friends to join these types of activities with you if you enjoy having company.

Just Be

At times, life can be hard, stressful, and challenging. For that reason, sometimes the best form of self-care is to simply sit quietly and just be.

This can be accomplished in many ways.

Some people prefer meditation, a time where they can sit in peace, reflect, and free their mind. Others enjoy things like taking a hot bath with calming music in the background, or sitting in nature and admiring the views for a while.

The idea is to lose yourself in the stillness and calmness of the moment so you can free your mind, relax, and enjoy yourself.

The laundry, business reports, and doctors’ appointments will all still be there when you’re done relaxing, so take some time and just be.

 What do you do regularly for self-care? Let us know in the comments below!

How to Make Exercising More Fun

 

Exercise is good for our heart, muscles, and lungs, and helps us release stress and extra energy that builds up inside ourselves.

It’s something that, no matter how old or young we are, we all need to do in order to keep our bodies strong and stay healthy.

Unfortunately, many people avoid exercise because they feel incapable of it, or are intimidated by it. Part of the problem is that many people believe you need to spend hours at a gym lifting heavy weights or running miles on a treadmill to get a good workout.

This is simply not true.

Any time you are up and moving, you are getting exercise. That means you can turn daily activities into exercise and, most importantly, have fun while you’re doing it!

Keep reading to discover a few ways you can have fun while exercising—without the expensive gym membership or insane workout plans!

Dance

Dancing is a wonderful form of exercise, and it’s a total body workout.

When you dance, you get a solid cardio workout, strengthen your muscles, and improve your flexibility. The best part is that it only takes about a half hour of dancing to your favorite tunes to provide you with your daily dose of exercise.

If you want a more structured form of dance exercise, we recommend taking a class, like salsa dancing or Zumba. You can find these classes available at local community centers, dance studios, or gyms.

Play Outside with Your Kids

The next time your children, grandchildren, or nieces or nephews ask you to play outside, unleash your inner child and go for it!

Playing a game of tag, hopscotch, or jump rope is a fun way to get fresh air while moving your body. You’ll have so much fun, you’ll forget you’re even exercising.

It’s important for both kids and adults to get out and move, so try scheduling a half hour of outdoor play every day.

Join a Club Sport

If you love watching football, basketball, baseball, or any other sport on the big screen, we know you will enjoy getting off the couch and playing your favorite sport.

It doesn’t matter if you your were colleges all-star player, or if you have two left feet. Anyone can participate and have a good time when she participates in club sports.

Rally a bunch of your friends or family members together, join a team, and get a workout on the field together.

Take a Hike

If you dislike running on a treadmill, but want to improve your endurance, build strength, and get a good cardio work out ,take a hike!

When you hit the trails, you get the same amount of exercise as you would on a treadmill, but you get to enjoy the beautiful outdoors and work out at a more comfortable pace. Most people get so wrapped up in the beauty of nature that they forget they are even working out!

Pick a cool day, invite a friend, be sure to bring plenty of water, and plan an exciting day on the trails.

What’s your favorite fun exercise routine? Share in the comments below!

Fun Valentine’s Day Activity Ideas

Thanks to Valentine’s Day, February is commonly known as the month of love. On the 14th day of this month, many people show love to their friends, family, and significant others, while participating in Valentine’s Day activities.

While we believe that you should express your love for others throughout the entire year, we also know how fun it is to plan special surprises and events on Valentine’s Day.

To help you celebrate, we’ve put together a few of our favorite Valentine’s Day activities so you can plan the best day ever for your partner, friends, or family.

The best part—you can set aside some of these ideas to use throughout the rest of the year to show people how much you care.

Keep reading to discover some of our family Valentine’s Day activities.

Make a Homemade Meal

For many people, food is the key to their hearts. After all, who doesn’t love a home-cooked meal comprised of their favorite foods?

Taking the time out of your busy schedule to cook a meal on Valentine’s Day is a great way to show how much you care. And it’s easy, too!

All you need to do is find out your special Valentine’s favorite meal, and then cook!

Call up your girlfriends for a dinner party at your house, invite your parents or siblings over, or plan a special dinner in for you and your significant other this year. We promise you can’t go wrong with this idea!

 Make a Delicious Dessert

If you’re not much of a cook, but you love to bake, making a Valentine’s Day dessert may be good choice for you.

Here are a few different ways you can use dessert to say “I love you!”

#1 Make your partner’s favorite dessert and serve it as an after-dinner surprise.

#2 Bake a batch of desserts (like brownies or cookies) and hand them out at the office or to your neighbors.

#3 If you have children, make a dessert like cupcakes, and then get the whole family to decorate them and celebrate together.

Go Out for Coffee

Taking a friend, family member, or significant other out for coffee (or tea!) is a great opportunity to spend time with those you love.

This Valentine’s date idea is budget friendly, but most importantly, buys you precious time to chat and spend quality time with the ones you care about. Time together is certainly the best gift of all.

If you’re able, give your “Valentine” a gift card for future coffee dates throughout the year.

Have an In-Home Movie Night

Avoid the Valentine’s Day crowds and have a movie night in the comfort of your own home.

This type of activity works well when you want to celebrate with a bunch of friends, but want to keep the activity cost budget friendly.  Simply put together a list of people you want to celebrate with, pick a movie, and ask your friends to bring a sweet treat to share.

A movie night in is also a great option for a more intimate date night.

Pick out your significant other’s favorite movie, make a yummy movie treat, grab a cozy blanket, and enjoy a quiet evening  together.

Get Out the Crafts

If you have children, a Valentine’s Day crafting night can be a lot of fun.

We recommend using colored paper, stencils, and stickers to write Valentine’s Day cards for each other. This is a great way to remind your children how much they are loved.

While the cards are fun, it’s also a wonderful way to spend quality time with your kids…something they will cherish forever.

Volunteer

Not many people think about doing volunteer work on Valentine’s Day, but it’s a good way to show your community how much you care. It’s amazing how much one act of service can impact a person who needs a little extra love this season.

This Valentine’s Day, get your family or friends together and pick your favorite place to lend a hand like a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or animal shelter.

Not only will your community feel loved, but you’ll also feel good about making a difference.

Do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day activity? Share it in the comments below!

3 Healthy Snacks to Bring to a Super Bowl Party

The 2017 Super Bowl is right around the corner, and football lovers all over the country are gearing up for the big game.

Between coordinating game day screening locations, rounding up your friends and family, and making sure your team jersey is washed and ready, you’ve got a lot to think about.

That’s why we thought you might like a few ideas on healthy snacks to bring to your Super Bowl party.

After all, aside from watching the game go down and all the commercials, food is the most important part of the event, right?

We think so!

Regardless of whether you love watching the game, or are just going to the party to enjoy the socialization and atmosphere, we know these snack recipes won’t disappoint.

Give them a try…

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Hot, salty, delicious French fries are a staple game day food for many people. Keep the game day tradition going strong with this heathier version of baked sweet potato fries.

Packed with Vitamins C and A and plenty of dietary fiber, this is a snack that is sure to please.

Ingredients:

  • Sweet potatoes (approximately 1 per guest)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

#1 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

#2 Cut four sweet potatoes into 1-inch-wide wedges, place flesh-side down on a roasting pan, then brush with a mixture olive oil, chili powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

#3 Cook, turning once, for 20-25 minutes.

#4 Remove pan from oven and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt.

Tip: Make the switch from savory to sweet by cutting out the chili powder and salt, and sprinkling your fries with cinnamon and sugar.

Recipe Source: http://www.rd.com/health/healthy-eating/healthy-snacks-for-adults/

Chocolate-Covered Fruit

There’s no better way to cheer your favorite team on to a sweet victory than by eating a sweet snack during the game.

Fruit is a great snack choice to bring to a party because it’s sweet, refreshing, and contains lots of vitamins that are good for the body. The best part—because it’s so healthy, you can score a touchdown with your party guests by covering it in decadent chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • Fruit of your choice (we recommend a variety of strawberries, pineapples, and berries)
  • Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate (or all 3!)

Directions:

#1 Skewer fruit on wooden skewers (or your implement of choice).

#2 Melt your desired chocolate in microwave or over the stove.

#3 Dip fruit in chocolate.

#4 Set in fridge to chill.

#5 Serve when chocolate coating is hard.

Tip: Not everyone likes chocolate-covered fruit. To combat this problem, skewer your fruit and then serve your chocolate sauce as a fondue so people can coat their fruit in chocolate as they desire.

Turkey Snack Wraps

This year, skip the fast food hot wings and serve delicious, flavor-filled snack sandwiches at your party.

These wraps, filled with fresh turkey and veggies, are the perfect Super Bowl finger food. And because they are fresh and healthy, your party guests will be able to indulge in other party treats without any guilt. [Link to ]

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • ½ cup chopped fresh tomato
  • ¼ cup chopped soft sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 8 thin slices low-sodium deli turkey
  • 4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
  • 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce

Directions:

#1 Combine corn, tomato, sun-dried tomatoes, oil and vinegar in a medium bowl.

#2 Divide turkey among tortillas.

#3 Top with equal portions of the corn salad and lettuce.

#4 Roll up.

#5 Serve the wraps cut in half, if desired.

Tip: To remove corn kernels from the cob, stand an ear of corn on one end and slice the kernels off with a sharp knife. One ear will yield about ½ cup kernels.

Recipe Source: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/250292/turkey-corn-sun-dried-tomato-wraps/

Do you have a favorite healthy snack recipe? Share it below!

Safe and Easy-to-Make Cleaning Recipes

Most people do their best to eat nutritious meals, exercise, and go for regular medical check-ups to ensure they stay healthy. All of this is great, but there is one more thing we should be paying attention to in order to live a healthy lifestyle.

That thing is the products we use to clean our homes.

Although people buy cleaning products with the best intentions—to clean their home and eliminate germs and bacteria—they sometimes don’t realize that the harsh ingredients in the products they purchase can do more harm than good.

To combat this problem, we’ve put together some of our favorite safe and easy-to-make cleaning recipes. These recipes will ensure that your home stays clean while also making sure that you aren’t negatively impacted by harmful commercial cleaning products.

Check out the recipes now…

All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe

Everyone needs at least one solid all-purpose cleaner in her cleaning arsenal. This recipe can be used on any surface (kitchen, bathroom, floors, etc.) and will leave your home smelling fresh and clean.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. borax
  • 1/2 tsp. washing soda
  • 1 tsp. liquid castille soap
  • Essential oils of choice. I use 4 drops lemon, 4 drops lavender and 10 drops orange
  • Glass spray bottle for storage

Instructions:

#1 Place borax, washing soda and soap in a spray bottle (preferably glass).

#2 Add 2 cups of warm water. Distilled is best, but any water that has been boiled will work. Cover bottle and shake well. Use as needed. I use as bathroom cleaner, floor pre-treater, kitchen cleaner and on toys to disinfect.

Recipe Source: http://wellnessmama.com/756/homemade-all-purpose-cleaner/

Laundry Detergent Recipe

For many people, laundry is a weekly chore. For that reason, having a safe, all-natural laundry detergent recipe that you can whip up from home is important. Keep your family’s clothes safe and fresh with this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Washing Soda (Arm and Hammer Brand available at most stores)
  • Borax Powder
  • Bar Soap (Dr. Bronner’s, Ivory, or other natural, unscented bar soap)

Note: Washing Soda and Borax should be available at your local grocery store on the laundry aisle. Natural bar soaps are in the health, beauty, or organic sections of the store, or online. You can also add a couple tablespoons of baking soda to help freshen clothes.

Instructions:

#1 Grate the bar soap or mix in food processor until finely ground.

#2 In a large bowl, mix 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts Borax and 1 part grated soap. (Add a few teaspoons of baking soda if desired).

#3 Store in closed container. I keep mine in quart or half gallon mason jars. If you are using a big enough container, you can just put all ingredients in a storage container or jar and shake.

#4 Use 1/8 to 1/4 cup per load of laundry.

Recipe Source: http://wellnessmama.com/462/homemade-laundry-detergent/

Natural Oven Cleaner Recipe

Most people regularly clean their countertops to keep surfaces clean for food prep. There is one place food goes that people don’t think to clean on a regular basis—your oven. Try this easy recipe to keep your oven clean.

Ingredients:

  • Baking Soda
  • Water

Instructions:

#1 Spray water inside of oven with a spray bottle.

#2 Sprinkle a ¼ inch layer of baking soda inside oven.

#3 Let sit for 2-3 hours. Do NOT turn on your oven.

#4 Wipe clean

Recipe Source: http://wellnessmama.com/211/natural-oven-cleaning/

 Do you have an easy-to-make cleanering recipe you love?

Share it in the comments!