Saturday, August 19, 2017

Mexican Food Doesn't Mean 2000 calories

I had a craving for Mexican but I knew that if we went to one of the local restaurants I'd have a platter the size of New Jersey preceded by 2 pounds of fried chips and salsa.

Still, I wanted that taste and that crunch.

So I made homemade tostadas.

Rather than buy Tostada shells I just used corn tortillas and lightly sauteed them in a little hot oil, just until crisp, then patted dry to remove most of the grease.  They were topped with some fat-free beans ( pinto's smashed with a little cooking water and a dash of oregano), lettuce, a few strips of leftover chipotle seasoned pot roast from a previous meal (omit for veggie version or replace with Setain) a TINY sprinkle of cheddar, fat-free sour cream, mild salsa, a splash of hot sauce,  and a few slices of avocado I served it on a colorful salad plate to give it the appearance of being a larger serving than it was, a great trick I use all the time.

Yummy - and I didn't even miss the chips

Monday, August 14, 2017

There Truly IS an all day Lip Color - LipSense Review

Check the bottom of your purse or makeup bag.  We all have them.  You know, those many many tubes of lipsticks, lip stains, and waxy lip balms.  We buy the balms because the stains  and some of the lipsticks dry out our lips, then we end up with a film on our lips that makes what lipstick we DO apply (and reapply and reapply) look uneven.

I was about ready to just chuck it all and go barefaced (which is a shame as my natural lip color is so pale I look anemic) when I purchased, on a friend's recommendation, a great lip color from SeneGence International. They launched into fame in 1999 with the LipSense patented color technology and have expanded out to a full line of skin and cosmetic care.
Color pictured is Caramel Apple

I was skeptical about the "all day wear" especially as I'm usually chugging on a water throughout the entire day, and I do a lot of "mini meals".  At the end of the first day, I was really surprised. 

Here's before - no other makeup but LipSense (and the bathroom in question has flourescent light, hense the slight green tinge to my skin tone). It's a weekend day off, so no makeup, contact lenses, or fuss, just a quick trial of the Lip Sense.  Unfortunately, with the large camera I can't really do a proper selfie, but taking a picture of the mirror worked.

The colors come in matte, frost and shimmer shades and you can also get lip liner and a lip color remover (great for the end of the day or "oops - I colored outside the lines!")  The shimmer shades are great because even if some the gloss wears off you still have a nice natural sheen to your lips. The application requires three thin layers, so you can mix and match shades for a personal look. I love Pink Champagne and Aussie Rose mixed together.

click on photos to enlarge
After:

3 water bottles and one serving Kambucha tea
a bowl of South River Porridge (http://www.southrivermiso.com/store/pg/18-Porridge-Grain-Milk.html)
some grapes and  raw almonds
pasta tossed with veggies and a little olive oil
4 Keebler fudge striped cookies (if they are made by elves calories don't count).
Vegetarian Greek Salad (with garbanzo beans for protein)


And 8 hours, my lips were still a wonderful shade of pink). The gloss had worn off but the color stayed true.

Plus, the color didn't dry out my lips! It has Peony Root Extract - which is a natural calming flower herb, St. John's Wort Extract (antibacterial and skin healing) as well as Linden Flower Extract (a powerful antioxidant) to help keep your lips healthy

LipSense is designed to be waterproof, kiss proof, smear proof and it will not budge until you're ready to remove it. It's also Vegan, non-GMO and they do NOT test on animals.  It also doesn't dry out your lips, working to restore your moisture content (if you've been seriously overdoing the waxy chap stick kind of balms, it may take a couple of days for the product to fully moisturize your lips.)

The gloss that applies over the stain also contains vitamin E and Shea butter. The gloss comes in clear and you can also get some light shades based on having warm or cool skin tones (the lip colors are all set up by skin undertone to help you select a shade that will compliment your skin.)

I've already ordered more colors - and the giant collection of half used waxy lip products is in the trash!  I'm enjoying looking through the catalog - there are going to be some more SeneGence products finding their way into my makeup back for sure.

Thanks for my long time friend and SeneGence consultant Jalissa Witt Lowry for telling me about the products. Ordering from her was super easy, I just messaged her the products I wanted, she sends emailed electronic invoice that's secure for payment and the products showed up on my door a few days later.

https://www.facebook.com/jalissa.wittlowry

Or join the fun at her LipSense Facebook Group - The Boss of Gloss

https://www.facebook.com/groups/bossofgloss/

If you don't do Facebook, just drop her a line at: jalissabossofgloss at gmail dot com and she'll set you up.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Beeswax Candles and Handcrafted Honey - A Review of Raines Honey Farm

I love honey products, using beeswax candles in my home to clear the air which helps with both allergy and pet dander issues.

For years I used the typical decorative candle that smelled like apple pie or cinnamon or such.  I also attributed the constant sneezing and sniffing when I was burning a decorative candle to seasonal allergies.  But when I started cooking and canning and doing more things from scratch around the home, I looked into a better, cheaper option.  Well, beeswax isn't cheaper, not at first glance, but it is SO much better, and ultimately, a good value.

Hundreds of years ago, candles were made from beeswax.  Over time, those beeswax candles were gradually replaced by tallow (animal fat) candles, and then in the last century by paraffin candles.  If you look at the candles in your home, that's likely what you have. But what exactly IS paraffin?

Well, it's made from the goo found at the bottom of barrels of crude oil, which is then treated and bleached with chemical solvents such as benzene and toluene to "clean it up".  This is AFTER the stuff to make asphalt is extracted.  There's a reason such candles put out soot and smoke when you burn them, along with some tasty carcinogens.  To get around that natural "diesel fuel" smell the makers add synthetic fragrance oils, many of which can be toxic if burned.
No wonder I was sneezing and sniffing.  The minute particles of that sludge byproduct, over time, can also stain walls, and drapes.

Then I discovered 100% beeswax candles.

Not only do beeswax candles not put out the pollutants, they also help clean the air, for as the candle burns, negative ions are emitted that clean the air.  How?  Negative ions are drawn to positive, and positive ions attract and hold on to airborne things such as mold, dust, bacteria, viruses, and odor causing pollutants, and are suspended in the air.  The negative ions latch on to the "contaminated" positive ions and weigh them down where they fall to the ground.  It's similar to  the cleansing of the air you see after a thundershower a negative ionic event if there ever was one.
I have no hard science as to the allergy connection, but several friends for whom I gave beeswax candles as gifts, say they have seen a marked improvement in their allergies, burning a beeswax candle in their bedroom for about 3 hours before sleep.  I burn one for a few hours in my small home prior to a visit from a friend that's sensitive to pet dander and she says it helps immensely.

But LB!  You're part Scot!  You're a spendthrift!  You refinish and reupholster throw away curb furniture and bake your own bread.  Those candles are rather pricey!
100% Beeswax candles burn 3 times longer than traditional candles.  Considering that, they are quite competitively priced with most high commercially sold candles. It's dollars well spent.

Home Emergency Supplies - candles are a part of most smart folks ready reserves for a natural disaster or electrical outage.  Not only does the beeswax candle burn cleaner, nice in close quarters, but it has a flame that's much brighter than traditional candles, with the same light spectrum as a ray of sun.  I keep one in the glove box of my vehicle, in case of an on road emergency requiring a bit of natural light and heat without polluting the cab of the bat truck.
But (there's always a but).  Not all Beeswax candles sold are 100% pure. Labeling in the US requires only that they be 51% beeswax to be pure (much like some of our food labeling).  Look for the phrase "100% pure beeswax" and note the unique and fresh, subtle honey fragrance.

Today's new beeswax candle comes from an Illinois beekeeping family:


The Raines family has been beekeepers for the past 19 years, expanding their business to keep up with the demand for their premium honey.  Their hives are placed on family farms across Northwest Illinois and Southwest Il.  A small one-family operation they produce some of the tastiest honey I've had in years.  Sure, premium honey costs more than store bought but once you try it you'll view store honey like "really bad coffee".  There is that much of a taste difference.  The Raines honey is pure, raw, and natural with a sweet flavor that comes from local flowers, mostly clover.  They never cook, pressure filter or add anything to their honey nor do they use any chemicals in their beehives. 
Ordering online is easy and it's also found in a number of stores in North Central Illinois.  I did an online order and I got my package promptly delivered to Chicagoland, wrapped securely with bubble wrap to avoid damage.  In addition to my new candle, I got two kinds of honey, both regular and whipped (I love that on my morning bagel) a beeswax balm stick (great on dry heels and elbows and as a travel moisturizer since it's solid the TSA won't take it away), a scented bath soap. and they gifted me a new lip balm as a thank you for my first order. All of their products are vegetarian and are only tested on friends and family, NOT animals.

Now I can add a new animal candle around my tub now instead of those Ikea tub o'tealights for ten bucks, which just sooted up my bathroom. These candles produce NO smoke and last SO long, while your drapes, walls, and air stay fresh and clean.
Whether you are a candle lover, a homesteader, someone who loves their "Calgon Take Me Away" candle accompanied baths, or live in an area with power outages, add some pure beeswax candles to your supplies and order up some yummy honey from the Raines family while you are at it. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Meatless Mood - Sesame Tofu

We eat meat free about 80% of the time, keeping our animal protein to non-factory farmed meat and fish or wild game.

I know some of you can't eat soy but for a large part of the population, tofu is a very popular and relatively inexpensive source of protein.

But what to make with it other than my normal smoother of 1/4 block tofu, sparking flavored water, a dash of protein powder and a cup brimming with frozen berries?


Sesame Tofu Chinese Style - if you love sesame chicken or just the sweet tang of a rich sweet and sour type sauce you will love this.  For lower-fat you can also bake the tofu instead of frying it in coconut oil. Serves 2.

1/2 cup sugar-free barbecue sauce
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
a squeeze of lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic or garlic powder (optional for those that don't do garlic)
1 tablespoon  Braggs liquid aminos
1/2 block extra firm tofu
1 teaspoon corn starch
Sesame seeds to garnish
chopped green onion (optional)


You'll want to marinate the tofu, so mix this up first thing in the morning.  In a bowl mix the barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, juice, Worcestershire, ground ginger, garlic (if using) and liquid-aminos.

Set aside 1/3 of the sauce and cover.

Chop half a block of extra firm tofu into equal sized cubes.

Marinate the tofu cubes in the remaining 2/3 of the sweet and sour sauce.

Leave the marinated tofu and remaining sauce in the fridge until the evening..

The next day add 1 teaspoon corn starch to the remaining sauce and coat the marinated tofu in the mixture.

Either bake the tofu at 400°F on a nonstick sheet for 30 minutes or fry in coconut oil until crispy. Serve with steamed rice and top with sesame seeds and green onions (optional)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Udi's Gluten Free Penne & Cheese - A Review


In trying to reduce the amount of gluten in my diet (not Celiac but sensitive), I've tried some OK products and some really awful products.

Today I wanted to share one that is going to be a favorite.  I found this at a local "non-chain" health food store with a good frozen food selection.  At $6.99 it was not cheap but still cheaper than eating my work lunch out at a restaurant.

UDI's overall has a great line of gluten free items (their bagels are awesome) but being a mac and cheese lover, I wasn't sure how good this would be. I looked at some other reviews and they complained about the noodles being too soggy or too dry but their cooking instructions were different than what's on the box now.

First a check of the ingredients.  OK, it has eggs and dairy, but NO SOY and NO WHEAT.  Yay.

I think next time I'd give it an extra 15 seconds in the microwave as there were a couple bit of cheese sauce that hadn't melted fully but overall the package instructions resulted in a nicely textured pasta.

The pasta:  tasted like gluten filled pasta and although the noodles weren't exactly "al dente" they weren't overly soft either.

Cheese sauce - it was very tasty and cheesy, with no chemical aftertaste and LOTS of sauce.  It had enough sauce next time I will throw in a 1/2 to 3/4 cup steamed veggies to it for a more filling meal.

Serving Size - for a meal, it serves one nicely, but if you add some veggies, this would make a nice side dish for two people

Nutrition: It's over 450 calories and fairly high in fat (26 grams!) and sodium (450 mg) but for an occasional treat "bachelor" meal with 14 grams of protein when my husband is on the road, I will so be buying this again.