Clear the Clutter, Unclutter Your Life

Debunking Cleaning Myths

Organic.  Non-Toxic. No GMOs.  Every where you turn, people are trying to avoid the toxic chemicals in their homes.  There are some good old fashioned cleaning tips which have fallen by the wayside in this fast paced world.

Here are some of those tried and true cleaning solutions our grandmothers probably used:

1. Cleaning and unclogging pipes.

Pour four teaspoons of baking soda into the sink, then add a cup of vinegar. If fizziness and bubbles arise, rinse it down with hot water and your pipe will be unclogged.  I know this one works because we have used it when we are out of Drano.  Cheaper and always on hand.

 

2. Cleaning pots with tomato sauce

Tomato sauce as a cleaning product … who knew? Stainless steel pots usually have a layer of copper, where copper oxide is formed during cooking. The tomato sauce contains acetic acid, which attacks the copper active base of the pan. Apply a thick layer of sauce on the base of the pan and let it work its magic for 30 minutes. Then wipe it away and watch the black stains disappear right before your eyes.

3. Plants help get rid of dust.

Dust appears everywhere, even after having cleaned it away 10 minutes ago. The good news is plants can help!  They not only bring life to the living room, BUT they also filter the pollutants from our air and provide us with fresh oxygen. Plants such as ferns and orchids catch the floating dust in the air on their leaves and can be wiped off with a damp cloth.

4. Sparkling water removes stains 

Another stain on your shirt? Quickly grab a bottle with sparkling water or soda and let the carbon dioxide dissolve the colour and tannins from the fabric.  This doesn’t work for fat or oil stains!  To use this method, saturate the spot and blot it up with a dry and absorbent cloth in a circular motion- always dab, never rub.

5. Lemon juice makes your exhaust duct shine 

The exhaust duct in the kitchen is a magnet for odors and oil stains. To remove the sticky spots, cut the lemon in half and rub it all over the metal surface. The acid quickly and efficiently removes fats and oils. For stubborn stains, add a few drops of detergent on a cloth and gently rub the stains away. Avoid the use of stainless steel sponges, as they tend to scratch the hood, making it shine even less than before.

6. Clean silver jewelry and silverware with toothpaste.

Is your silver jewelry starting to look dull? Just like your teeth, it turns out toothpaste is the perfect solution for silverware. Get your trusty toothpaste (not gel) out of the bathroom and scrub the ornaments with a toothbrush. Rinse the toothpaste off by dipping the silverware into a cup of warm water. The oxidized silver particles will be quickly washed away and your jewelry will start to shine again.

What is your best cleaning tip that was passed down in your family?  Share it with us.

Have an Epic day!

 

Clear the Clutter, Hope's Healthy Kitchen

How to Stock Your Kitchen

We are off on another road trip starting today as an early celebration of our wedding anniversary……I can’t believe it has been 11 years since we got married and in October, we will be together 20 years!  Where does the time go?

No, this is NOT a picture of our kitchen in our forever home But we do have lots of space.  As a result, I am always on the hunt to find ways to keep things well-stocked and organized.  What about you… do you have an organized kitchen and pantry?  Are you ready with plenty of items on-hand to whip up a healthy meal anytime – without having to leave the comfort of your home?  Keep these tips in mind while you’re shopping and putting groceries away to be a prep pro!

PANTRY PERFECTION

Your pantry may not be this big (not mine BUT ours is about this big!).  Organize your pantry or cupboard in sections:

  • Baking ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda.  Mine also includes chips, brown sugar and anything else I may need when baking.

  • Oils & vinegar (mine are actually over my stove in a cabinet so they are easy to reach)

  • Herb & Spice blends (a totally separate cabinet close to the stove so I don’t have to go to far)

  • Canned goods: beans, lentils, fish, tomatoes, vegetables

  • Dry goods; pasta, rice, quinoa

TIP: Put veggies like onions and potatoes in bins and store in a cool, well-ventilated place.  Mine are in Tupperware bins in yet another cabinet in the kitchen.  LOL.

STOCK YOUR FREEZER

Is meal prep a thing at your house?  The closest I get to meal prep in the freezer is having lots of frozen vegetables, and meats on had.  Extra portions of meals (aka leftovers) are also frozen for those quick easy lunches or dinners when I’m not feeling well.  For many, meal prep means making big batches and then lay soups, broths, and chili flat in resealable bags for use during the week. Always keep frozen veggies and fruit in your freezer, along with your favorite protein.

TIP: Freeze leftovers in family-or-individual-sized containers for a quick “heat-and-eat meal” for the nights when you’re too busy to cook.

FIND IT FAST IN YOUR FRIDGE

Divide your fridge into sections:

  • Dairy/eggs, condiments (in the side door)

  • Veggies/fruit, meat/fish/poultry on a tray or plate to avoid leaks or in drawers if you have them.

  • Beverages

TIP: Keep prepped veggies and fruit near the front for quick access

SHOP WISELY 

The foods you choose to fuel your body directly impact your health. Whether you’re shopping online or stocking up on groceries to avoid the grocery line, here are some kitchen staples to keep you going:

Greek yogurt | Buy: 2%, plain, non-sweetened | Why: Fat-free can mean added sugar, and flavored yogurts can greatly increase your sugar intake.  Plain greek yogurt adds extra protein and can be “sweetened” with fruit or granola or a little Stevia.

Canned tomatoes | Buy: Low sodium | Why: We want to live well and feel great. For some people, too much sodium can make them retain water.

Olive oil | Buy: Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil – this is the healthiest because it comes from the first pressing and no chemicals were used in extraction | Why: Light olive oils do not mean light in calories, often, it means light in flavor.

Canned beans | Hack: Rinse your beans before use and reduce sodium by almost 30%

Pasta | Buy: Look for the first words to be “whole grain” on the ingredient list | Why: You want to avoid overly processed refined grains

Nuts & seeds | Buy: Natural, unsalted | Why: Sometimes nuts and seeds are coated with partially hydrogenated oil and added salt

Canned tuna & salmon | Buy: Packed in water, low sodium | Why: It will have less sodium and added fat

Crackers | Buy: Look for “whole grain” to be the first words on the ingredient list. They should have at least 3 g of fibre per serving and be low in sodium Why: Crackers can be overly processed and made with refined grains | Hack: Make your own healthy crackers with Everything Bagel Crackers.

 

 

Finally, remember to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Buy real food. Use wholesome ingredients.

  • Avoid shopping when you’re hungry (in-store or online).

  • Always have a list and stick to it.

For kitchen tips & tricks, recipes and more, check out Hope’s Healthy Kitchen on Facebook or my website at www.HopesHealthyKitchen.com

Have an Epic Day!

Hope Wissel

A Birthday Milestone

Another year, a BIG milestone….. believe it or not, today is my 65th birthday!

Do I feel 65?  Not on most days but I will admit, MS has kicked my butt a little bit more this year.

I have been doing an annual reflection since I started blogging… and this year is no different filled with lots of gratitude!

As the world returns to “normal” (whatever that is) I struggle with stepping out of my comfort zone.  This introvert is content to be home with hubby.  I am grateful NA meetings have opened up and hugs are shared again.  This year, I have continued to learn so much about me. But mostly, I learned I am okay being with me which is HUGE!

I am blessed to have woken up this morning.  No matter what the day may bring, I know it will be WONDERFUL!  Am I always this optimistic – NOPE!   I’m determined to be positive and make the most of each day.  I no longer live in negativity or want to be surrounded by drama.  Thankfully, brain fog mornings have been few and far between.  I have accepted using my brace when I leave the house and will be doing some walking.  The scale hasn’t really changed much but the inches are slowly melting away.  I will take that any day, what about you???

The “birthdays” of the past where they were just another day are gone.  The days of low self-esteem, a lack of confidence and nasty inner gremlins who made me feel like I didn’t deserve a celebration have been let go. Today, I was blessed to wake up without expectations.  Expectations lead to hurt feelings and resentments so why have them, right?  Just for today, I like myself.   I am grateful for whatever the day may bring.  Birthdays are milestones in our lives.  As children, they are a day (or sometimes a week or even a month) where the focus is on us.  Filled with presents, parties, family, friends and of course cake and ice cream.  As the years go by, life “happens” and things change.  Whatever the celebration is like today – it will be okay!

I stepped down as a Director with Thirty One this year.  I will always be a Thirty One girl.  I am happy to share my love of the products without the stress of hitting numbers.  Yup, I can easily get wrapped up in the shoulda, coulda woulda as well as the comparison game which steals my joy.  As a result, I am still a walking billboard happy to help anyone solve their gift giving or organizational challenge. I can’t believe it has been 11 1/2 years with this amazing company.

Angels by Hope has a busy Etsy store which I do take on the road locally for some craft shows.  I love sharing my angels with everyone.  Gifting my angels has been the greatest blessing to me this year… it allows me to bring a smile to the face of others as they heal through their latest struggle.  Allowing the creative juices to flow has been exciting and actually has been a form of therapy.  It helps with processing thoughts the same as working my puzzles help with eye hand coordination.  Puzzles are my jam (do they still say that?) and I average about one a week.

Because of my new love for cooking and trying new recipes, I have joined Epicure. Good food, fast and easy in 30 minutes or less including prep!   We are eating cleaner – much less processed, more organic, and definitely gluten free.  Hubby has even jumped on the bandwagon – willingly. LOL.  Check it out if you are looking for healthy meal solutions (allergen free).

I hold fast to my mantra “every day is a gift from God with a blessing to be found.”  It seems like this is turning into one of those “holiday letters” you get from people you only hear from once a year…. LOL. Or maybe the makings of a Hallmark movie.

I have to admit the tears are starting to flow and I am okay with feeling the feelings.  With the help of my NA family, a new home group and a new sponsor, I am learning to live life on life’s terms.  Working on steps and sharing at meetings has definitely helped this “old lady” to heal and grow.  I’m grateful and blessed to say God willing, we will have four years on the 22nd!

There are many people I could (and probably should) thank or talk about from this past year.  Please don’t feel slighted… you have all been a blessing in my life.  This has been a great year and I am looking forward to the blessings God has for me in this new year.  I can’t believe I am actually 65 years old – okay, so it is only a number, right? Now, I am really “over the hill” and not like I was when I turned 40 (that is a story for another day! LOL)

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Have a blessed day!

Feel Good Friday, Hope Wissel, Tasty Tuesday Recipes

How to Make a Charcuterie Board

The term “charcuterie” refers to the preparing of cured meats, like prosciutto, bacon, salami, etc., but these days when people say charcuterie, they are usually referring to a fun, meat and cheese board.

It is a perfect way to nosh yummy goodies over a glass of wine, a cocktail, or even a mocktail.  It’s a fun way to get creative and add pops of color to your menu to impress your guests. From the board up, here’s how to make an epic charcuterie board.  Whether you are hosting a party or enjoying a family movie night, these are alway a lot of fun.

 

THE BOARD

You don’t have to get fancy here! A simple flat, sturdy surface will work—in any shape or size. You’re going to add layers of goodness on top, so any wooden cutting board, platter, or plate will do the trick.

COLOR & TEXTURE

What makes a great board pop is layers of color and texture. Think bright: reds, greens, yellows, and oranges—strawberries, cherries, olives, sliced peppers—and texture, shiny and smooth, along with rough and edgy—think figs, crackers, and dips.

START WITH DIPS

These are essential – they deliver the extra punch of flavor to each bite. Put your dips in small bowls, along with olives and pickles, cubed cheeses, jellies, and mustards, placing them on your board first, then build the rest of the ingredients around them. This will anchor your ingredients and you can use different shapes and sizes to add depth and variety.

Try:

Nacho Cheese Dip Mix – best served with tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream

Ooey Gooey Queso Hot Dip – serve with tortilla chips, pretzel bites, veggies

CCB Dip – delicious with raw vegetables, potato chips, or crackers

MEAT & CHEESE

Have fun with the style here—serve cheese in cubes, slices, and wedges, including brie, bleu, fresh cheese, and cheddar. Genoa Salami, Italian Dry Salame, Peppered Salami, Prosciutto are great additions to your board—variety is what will make it stand out! You can even wrap Prosciutto around pickled asparagus spears and layer them on the board. Don’t forget your

CRACKERS, CHIPS & BREAD

This part is important – the delivery vehicle for all that goodness! Try to add two to four different kinds here. Get fresh baguette from your local bakery and make home-made chips and crackers to really take this over the top! We love the versatility of Whole-Grain Rosemary Crackers because you can make them with sesame, sunflower, or chia seeds in place of the flax seeds in the recipe…or a combo of all three!

Whole-Grain Rosemary Crackers – pictured

Everything Bagel Crackers

Pita Chips

FRUIT, VEGGIE & GARNISH

After you’ve stacked your board with your bread, chips, and crackers, it’s time to fill in the gaps with fresh fruit, veggies, and garnishes. There are no rules here! Just go with what you have on-hand, and what makes sense to you! Apple slices and grapes are obvious choices, but you can go nuts here—really! Add almonds, walnuts, cashews, along with apricots, kumquats, and more! The possibilities are endless. Garnish with fresh rosemary, mint, or parsley to add that festive green colour.

And, one last tip, try to add something sweet, savoury, salty, and spicy to every board to perfectly balance the experience and suit every taste in your bubble!

What are your best tips for making “boards”?  With summer coming, what will you add to yours to make it POP?  Share your ideas with us…

Have an Epic Day!

Hope Wissel, Tasty Tuesday Recipes

5 Simple Tips for Healthy Habits

As many of you know, I have been on WW for an eternity. LOL.   I lost my initial 105 pounds and am happy to say, I have kept most of it off.  MS has caused some weight gain – the only thing I can attribute it to since I track and am stepping. I’m not beating myself up over it.  It is all about healthier eating and NOT the numbers on the scale.  Now if I could only remember that, all would be well.  Are you focused on healthy eating or the numbers on the scale?

Here are five tips to help you adopt some new healthy habits:

1.     START WITH A PLAN 

Planning out your meals for the week is a great way to set you up for success. I started doing it so I didn’t have to deal with MS struggles over what to fix for dinner.

My advice – Keep it simple. 

I usually plan out on Friday or Saturday knowing I will grocery shop on Sunday or Monday.  Pick least busy day of the week and take a few minutes to pick out some recipes and create a grocery list. I have a meal planner I post on the fridge so I can not only plan meals but also not repeat the same ones constantly.  For some, having “Meatless Mondays” or “Taco Tuesdays” can make it a lot easier!  Epicure has several collections with pre-made grocery lists, swap options, perfectly balanced plate suggestions, and pro tips throughout!

2.     MAKE TIME FOR COOKING 

Now for the fun part—preparing those delicious recipes you picked out!  Making time for cooking gives you the opportunity to try out new recipes, make good food choices, or even remake your favorite takeout dishes in a healthier way at home! YES, it’s also a great way to lower your food bill. Meal prepping looks different for everyone.  For some, it may involve prepping a variety of foods in larger quantities, so you don’t have to worry about it during the week. For others, it is cooking once and using the meat in several meals during the week.  Of course, you’ll need plenty of containers to store your meals and keep things fresh. Our storage solutions make it simple to portion out your ingredients and tackle hassle-free meals on the go!

3.     EAT COLORFULLY 

Adding color to your plate is a simple way to ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients. Keep an eye out for recipes with more vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. These foods are full of antioxidants, fiber, protein and healthy fats—key components to maintaining good health! Plant-based foods are also friendlier to our environment as they require fewer resources and greenhouse gases to produce. You’ll be reducing your carbon footprint while also benefiting from the amazing nutrition benefits these foods bring to the table.  Check out some of our favorite plant-based recipes here!

4.     MAKE USE OF HERBS & SPICES 

Many people consume more sodium than they need. It’s easy to exceed the dietary recommendations, but the good news is salt is a largely acquired taste. So, over time you can actually sensitize your pallet to embrace lower levels of salt. Changing to sea salt or himalayan pink salt is better too. Seasoning your food with more herbs and spices is a great way to limit your sodium intake without missing out on flavor!  Epicure’s hand-crafted spice blends are perfect for creating low-sodium meals while also simplifying your time in the kitchen!  Many of them have NO sodium too!

5.     DON’T SKIP OUT ON DESSERT! 

Toss out the idea there are morally “good” and “bad” foods!

A healthy, sustainable diet won’t leave you feeling deprived and miserable. Food is meant to be enjoyed and your journey to good health should be no different. By giving yourself permission to eat “bad” foods, they lose their novelty and we’re less likely to obsess over them. Remember it’s not about restricting yourself, rather making balanced choices. Give yourself the freedom to consume the foods you love and your health journey will be a lot more enjoyable.  PLUS you’ll be more likely to stick to your routine long term.  Take a look at some of our favorite healthy dessert options !

The journey towards getting AND keeping healthy habits can take time so be kind to yourself. There may be challenges along the way but try to view them as opportunities to learn and grow. I am always here to bounce ideas around with you.  Remember, you are NOT alone. If you’re looking for motivation, support, and dietitian-approved tips, we invite you to join our online community and #EpicLife Challenge starting on May 10th!

Have an Epic day!