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Posts tagged ‘Health’

Make The Freezer Your Friend!

What is in your freezer? I spent years packing my freezer with prepackaged items or foods that required preparation to make a meal.  I  was completely ignorant of all my freezer could offer me.Your freezer should be your friend and a place where quick meals reside. This doesn’t have to always include the prepackaged “convenience” foods. What do I mean by that? Those are the prepackaged items you just heat and eat that are often high in calories and fat or often contain additives and preservatives we certainly could do without. My husband jokes with me sometimes that I “heated that meal really well”. For example I will do frozen chicken fried steaks that just have to be heated along with making instant potatoes, gravy from a powdered mix where you just add water and stir, and then usually a bag of frozen Steam Fresh Vegetables fixed in the microwave. So nothing is fresh and there was really nothing that I had to “prepare”. Oh it is convenient alright, but what about a real home cooked meal?

Everyone’s time is precious so making a real home-made meal can often be time-consuming and certainly not practical on busy nights. On those busy nights it is too easy to do the prepackaged warm and serve meal or even just stop by McDonald’s or other fast food restaurants. This was when the light-bulb came on that it was time to change how I utilized my freezer so that on those busy nights we can still try to have a good meal. I found that on a day I had time to cook a home-made meal that I can often make a double batch and freeze the other half. Foods like Chili, Soups, Beef Stew and even Spaghetti Sauce. You are already there doing the work so it really isn’t hard to just do a double or even triple recipe.

I found that dinners we normally will have leftover will not get eaten that week but if I freeze them we can make a new meal out of it later. For example we never eat more than half the pan of Lasagna so I freeze the other half. I can take leftover Brisket or barbeque cut into small pieces and use for baked potato toppings another day.

What other conveniences can your freezer offer? If you save leftover vegetables and meats they can be used in casseroles, soups, stews or a stir fry later. When you find chicken on sale buy it!  You can boil the chicken, shred or cube it, and freeze it to use for a variety of meals later. You can also take the broth from the boiled chicken and spoon it into muffin tins and place that into the freezer. When the broth is frozen pop them out and store in a freezer bag and these little broth “cups” give you about 1/2 cup of fresh chicken broth. You certainly can cook other meats to freeze and use later also. If you have left-over pasta store it in the freezer for soups and casseroles later. All of these things will help cut down on food prep time when making those home cooked meals.

Even more ideas?  How about storing butter and cheese? I do. We certainly stock up on meats and other items that can be frozen when on sale. This  makes it easier to cook those larger batches of meals later by already having the ingredients. We also store bottles of frozen water for emergencies. After being in a hurricane and then without power for a few weeks we found the huge need for this. When the power is out that frozen water will keep your freezer/refrigerator colder, longer.

Just make sure food is always stored in freezer safe bags or containers!  For more information about what is safe to freeze check out this awesome website:  http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Factsheets/Focus_On_Freezing/index.asp

What freezer friendly ideas do you have?

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Sacrificing Good Sleep Habits

I have worked nights for almost 15 years now in one job or another. This was a choice we made when we started having kids to make sure I was home during the day. My husband would take care of getting our kids dinner and into bed at night while I was at work into the early morning hours. Although day care works for others we decided this worked best for us. Thankfully I have an amazing husband that took on this role and magnified his job as a dad. I will have to do a post about that some other time.

As the years went on I have continued working during normal “sleeping hours” even after my kids started school because I have a great job and I am able to make better money on the over night shift compared to the day shift. The biggest drawback I have found is a lack of “good” sleep. I currently do take weekends off and get a full night sleep but during the week my sleep is spread out into sections. My schedule is in the early morning hours so I will sleep for a few hours when my kids go to bed until I get up to work and then work until it is time to get them ready for school. I then take a nap during the day for a few hours while they are at school in between house work and other necessities. I have done this long enough that I guess I think my body is used to it but I do find those days that I am just dragging and worn out. I also find that I often get sick easier when I am really worn down. My family will all confirm that I usually cannot sit down to watch a movie with them without falling asleep.  I think my body is saying “here is your opportunity, shut it down now” and it does!

I have found ways over the years to help me sleep better at night and during the day. First I do make sure I go to bed at night when my kids do and get a few hours before working. During the day I make the room dark with blacked out curtains and close the bedroom door to block out sunlight. I also turn off the phones (except my cell phone in case my family has an emergency). I also try to take a nap around the same time every day. Although this has been a struggle for me personally over the years I have found ways to make it work better for me and I do think the benefits I have seen by being home for my kids outweigh the times I do struggle.

I know there are many who sacrifices for what they believe is best for themselves and their families. What sacrifices are you making? What do you find is the biggest challenge with doing that and what ways are you facing those challenges?”

Suffering Seasonal Allergies

Do you enjoy walking around feeling like a may fly is buzzing around in your nose making you on the verge of sneezing every few seconds?  Is it fun to have one eye watering and shrinking up making your eye bright red and face look deformed?  I know I don’t!

I suffer from seasonal allergies which I guess Houston’s season is “all year-long”!  I certainly notice the allergies more whenever a weather front (cold or hot) comes blowing through.

I get a laugh too because my eyes will often start to water like the Hoover Dam flood gates have opened at the worst time possible.  Just get this visual of me sitting in a movie that isn’t sad and I look like a bawling baby!  The last time was watching the latest Twilight movie with my daughter right during the  notorious “love scene”.  Yeah, that just would not be something I would be crying at!  Thankfully it made the moment really funny and we both had a  good laugh missing most of that scene anyway!

My son also gets what are called “allergy shiners” where he has purple circles  under his eyes that only go away when he takes allergy medicine.  I had taken other allergy medications before but when my son’s doctor had recommended Zyrtec we both started taking it.  My sister also recommended Zyrtec-D which you have to get over the counter.  I try not to take the medication daily but I certainly run for it when I feel the attacks coming on.

What do you do for your allergies?