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, 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!

Cleaning Tips and Tricks, Home Organization, Unclutter Your Life

How to Get Your Kitchen Clean and Organized

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Is storage space at a premium in your kitchen?  Do you dread cleaning the kitchen?  Or, like I used to be – dread even cooking in your kitchen?  I will admit, I was all of these about 18 months ago.  We had a small galley kitchen in the condo so I had to try to use every nook and cranny for storage.  Sometimes I even forgot I had items because they were stored in the utility room on the lower floor.   Now, we are in our forever home, with a BIGGER kitchen, I have lots of cabinet space.  Does it mean, I am totally organized?  LOL!  Definitely not but I do have a cabinet or two that is empty.  I have lots more counter space and do love spending time cooking.

Here are some tips to help you get and stay organized in your kitchen – regardless of the size…

1. Use Magnets:  Are you using your cabinet doors as a clever way to give yourself additional storage? I honestly never remember this one.. I have LOTS of cabinets and even though there is lots of counter space, I would like to “hide” some of the kitchen utensils.  Cabinets are a great to store knives so you don’t have to use a knife block or take up counter space… just make sure you use a strong enough magnet to keep the knives in place.  I think this will be one of hubby’s next projects – to install some for me.

2. Labeling System:  Labels are a great way to help you organize your kitchen or for that matter any space in your home. It takes the guesswork out of where to put things when others want to help or are looking for something.  Labeled cubes have been the saving grace in our new house.  It allows hubby to look for things by me simply telling him which closet and which cube to look in.  Putting things away is easy for everyone when they can see where things are supposed to go. Your labeling system could be as simple as plastic storage containers with small a labels OR clear containers so people can see what is inside.  Maybe it is plastic crates with labels or even just a piece of tape to say what goes in it.

3. Add Storage By Hacking “Unopenable” Drawers:  We all have those “fronts” in our kitchen, right?  I had them in the condo and this would have been a great way to gain some counter space.  Unopenable drawers look like a drawer but don’t have a handle.  What if you could make use of those un-openable drawers beneath the sink or above a counter?  We have sink drawers in our new kitchen. I was surprised I actually use them and remember things are there.  LOL.  I keep the bottle brush and extra scrubbies.

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4.  Use A Tension Rod To Hang Cleaning Products.  A tension rod can be a great way for storing and organizing spray bottles so you have additional space in an otherwise cramped under-sink cabinet.  I think I would put it a little further back in the closet so I had more space in the front.

5. Clean Your Blender Quickly.  Do you love smoothies but hate cleaning the blender?  Do you use your blender to chop up the garlic?  Here is a quick cleaning tip: pour warm water in it with a tiny bit of dish soap. Put the lid on the blender and turn it on. Now it’s all clean! Just be sure to give it a quick rinse after to get rid of the soap residue.

6. Clean Your Stainless Steel Appliances With Flour.  Tired of chemical in your cleaning products?  Here is a tip from Mother Nature Network. Just apply some dry flour onto a microfiber cloth and buff it into your stainless steel appliance, sink or counter. Then rinse it off and the surface should shine like new.  If you are looking to clean your stainless steel pans………try heating some water with vinegar in the pan.  Use a wood spoon or non-stick spatula to loosen the stuck on mess.  Let it cool and then wash as usual.  I hate to admit I use this trick more often than I want to.  LOL

What are some of YOUR best tips for keeping your kitchen clean and organized?  Share them with us.  Have an Epic day!

Clear the Clutter, Hope Wissel, Unclutter Your Life

Top 5 Cooking Hacks

Kitchen hacks are clever solutions to every day kitchen dilemmas which could save you time, money and maybe even help to avoid an embarrassing situation.

If you are an avid cook, you probably know lots of them, right?  Maybe they are things you found out by googling a question.  Or, they were passed down in your family – you know like those “old wives tales”.  I have found each time I am in the kitchen making a recipe – I am googling another question and then am amazed at the results.  Sometimes it is even the same question over and over because I forgot the answer. LOL.  You would be surprised but sometimes you get different answers.

1 – Removing Eggshell Fragments

This is one of those hacks I thought wouldn’t work because it seemed too good to be true BUT I was wrong!

Simply use a larger piece of eggshell to scoop up those pesky little fragments. It’s like magic.  I am surprised how often I use this especially in the mornings when I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee  and am fixing breakfast.

2 – Evenly Portion Batter

Use an ice cream scoop to evenly portion out muffin batter or cupcake batter or anything you are using individual pans for. The kind with the trigger release makes it easy to transfer the batter to the muffin tin: no trying desperately to get the batter off of a spoon.  If it is a “sticky” batter, spray pam on the scoop FIRST, then scoop.  The batter will slide out, easy peasy.

3 – Freeze Flat 

OMG!!! I wish I knew this when we lived in the condo.  Our freezer was small and when I pulled one thing out, it all could come tumbling.  LOL. Whether it’s soups, stews, or ground meat, the flatter and wider you can get them, the faster they’ll freeze and defrost.  Place foods in heavy-duty freezer bags, squeeze out all the air, lay the bag flat, and use your hands to work the contents into as flat and even a shape as possible.

4 – Dry Bean versus Canned Beans

It has taken me awhile to learn this AND I usually google it every time I get ready to make something just to be sure.   REMEMBER…. 16 oz of canned beans DOES NOT equal 16 oz of dry beans. Dry beans DOUBLE in size when cooked. Yup, I have made this mistake more times then I can count.  LOL. If I am using the crockpot, I just rinse the dry beans off and throw them in – no pre-soaking here.

5 – How To Reduce Bacon Shrinkage

I was skeptical of this one too!  I had heard rinsing the bacon would cut out some of the salt BUT was surprised to find out it did even more.  To reduce bacon shrinkage, I first trim off the excess fat, then I rinse it off with cold water.  I used to cook bacon in the fry pan just like my mom and grandmother BUT not any more.  With smaller quantities (just for hubby & I) I put it in the air fryer for 10 minutes, turning it half way through.  If we have company, I cook it in the oven at 375F for 10 minutes or more until crispy.

Want more tips and tricks?  Check out Hope’s Healthy Kitchen on Facebook.  Have a hack you want to share…….comment below or send me an email.  If I use it in my blog post, I will send you a free gift as a thank you.

Have an Epic Day!