Say Good Bye to Packaged Cereal

It has been too long since I last blogged about food. Anyone can tell just by looking at me that I love good food! So I thought today would be a good day to talk about how your choices in food can be good for your wallet, good for your health, and good for the environment. And if we are talking about good food and the environment in the same blog post we have to talk about granola.

First, lets make some granola. Then I’ll tell you why it is worth the time to make up a batch every week.

There are lots of recipes on the internet. Here is one that I have put together to get you started. You’ll soon be making your own variations! All measurements are approximate. Feel free to experiment, you really can’t go wrong.

In a medium size saucepan mix together.

  • 1/2 Cup Oil (I like to use strong flavored oils. Right now I’m using sesame oil because I got a gallon of it real cheap, but sometimes I will use coconut oil or a blend of the two)
  • 1/2 Cup Honey or Real Maple Syrup (More or less depending on how sweet you want your granola. You can also use white or brown sugar)
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix well, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Allow to cool a bit then mix in:

  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla
  • other spices to taste, I like to add about a tablespoon of cinnamon and a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, maybe a dash of cloves

While that is cooking, in a large bowl, mix together:

  • 8 Cups Old Fashioned Oats (I buy organic oats in bulk at the co-op for about .30/lb)
  • 1 Cup Wheat Germ
  • 1 Cup unsweetened coconut flakes (you can find unsweetened coconut at co-ops and natural food stores)
  • 1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
  • 1/4 Cup Flax Seeds (or ground flax seeds)
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Seeds

Pour liquid into dry mixture and mix well until everything is damp but not wet. Add a little more water if needed.

Spread mixture evenly on shallow baking sheets. Do not fill the baking sheets because you will need room to stir.

Bake in a slow oven (about 250 degrees).

I’m sorry I can’t tell you how long. Sometimes I cook the granola for 30 minutes and sometimes it takes over an hour. You just have to watch it. Check your granola about every 15 minutes, stirring each time. It is done when the oats have a nice brown color and everything is very dry.

Allow the granola to cool thoroughly. Then mix in:

  • 1 Cup Raisins or other dried fruit.

Store in an airtight container and enjoy. This makes enough cereal for my family of  granola lovers (2 adults and 1 growing teenager) for about a week.

Since I’ve been making granola I have pretty much quit buying packaged breakfast cereal.  It now seems to be a big waste of money.  Just yesterday I was looking at the cereal aisle and found that for the same price as a batch of healthy granola (around $4) I could get a brightly colored box with 12 oz. of  refined corn and high fructose corn syrup, with a few artificial colors and preservatives thrown in for good measure.  No Thanks!

I also don’t have all those brightly colored boxed waiting to go to the recycling center. Sure we can recycle the cardboard, but it is better for the environment if it is never produced in the first place.

My family loves the granola I make and love the money I save.  Plus, by making my own granola I can sneak in the flax seed and other healthy ingrediants my husband wouldn’t eat otherwise! Let me know how your granola creations go!

An Alternative to Disposable Diapers

In the running for “what is filling up our landfills the most” is disposable diapers. So once you have done the easy step of giving up plastic grocery bags, the next step, at least for parents of babies, is to reduce your use of disposable diapers. Sarah, over at the mamapath, has an excellent post on alternatives to disposable diapers. You can read her post here.

An Easy Way to Help the Enviroment

Sometimes it really is the simple things that can make the biggest difference. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that plastic grocery bags came on the scene, and the question “paper or plastic?”, became part of our shopping experience. Retailers loved the lightweight bags, that were just a fraction of the cost of paper bags. Consumers liked them for their strength and convinience. No more wet bags breaking on you as you bring in the groceries! Now, plastic bags are everywhere. And I mean everywhere. They are an eyesore on our nations’ roads. They clog our drains and sewers, and they threaten wildlife all over the world. They are even found in the Pacific Ocean, 1000 miles from the shore.

Some Facts About Plastic Bags

  • Almost a trillion plastic bags are produced world wide each year! The US goes through a billion of them. (Wall Street Journal)
  • If Americans gave up their disposable plastic grocery bags we could save 12 million barrels of oil every year!
  • Disposing of plastic bags is a problem. Plastic bags can take 1000 years to disintegrate. And because they are light weight and extremely aerodynamic, even properly disposed of plastic bags can float away and become a blight on the landscape.
  • Some studies suggest that up to 100,000 marine animals are killed by ingesting, or becoming trapped in plastic bags.

The problem seems huge, yet the  solution is quite simple. Say no to plastic shopping bags. And while you are at it, say no to paper bags as well. (That is another post!) Make it a habit to bring your own reusable bags. And reusable bags are not just for the grocery store.  Try bringing your own bags or containers for your other shopping as well. At the very least, try to reuse your plastic shopping bags, and make sure to dispose of them properly.

You Can Quit Smoking, Without Pills, Potions, or Patches!

pic of dirty ashtray

by Katalina Mau
All Rights Reserved

If you were only going to do one thing to improve your health, and your overall quality of life, it would be to quit smoking. Quitting smoking will improve your health, your appearance, and how you feel. You will be able to exercise easier and enjoy life more! No more standing outside the door in the rain for a cigarette! You can quit!

Quitting smoking isn’t easy, in fact it is one of the hardest things I have ever done! But if you really want to give up cigarettes, for good, you can! With a little planning, some determination, and an understanding of nicotine addiction, you will find you don’t need any pills, potions, or patches! In fact, the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are intense for just about 3 days. Knowing that the physical withdrawl from cigarettes in only 3 days, most people can get through it on their own. It is the mental part that is hard. Plan to conquer your mental addiction to smoking and the physical addiction will take care of itself.

The thought of not smoking forever can be intimidating! After all, cigarettes have been a large part of your life. Talk yourself into quitting for an hour, then another hour, then another hour… I haven’t smoked in 169,492 hours. My next goal is 175,250 hours, or 20 years. I am sure I will reach it!

Cigarettes have become a ritual in your life. To quit smoking, you need to find new rituals to replace your smoking rituals. You probably smoke to start your day, to end a meal, while driving in the car. Probably the last thing you do each day is smoke a cigarette. Plan ahead! What will you do now that you don’t smoke? For me, chocolate chips did the trick. Instead of a cigarette I would take a single chocolate chip, let it melt slowly in my mouth, and totally enjoy the rich chocolate taste. (I bought the best chocolate chips I could find!) In the car I would chew gum, and at the end of the day, a nice cup of tea and a long kiss from my honey!

Find your reason to quit. Quitting is hard! You are not going to do it because someone else wants you to. Find a reason that really matters to you. For me, it wasn’t for health reasons that I quit. Lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, those all seemed distant and unlikely. Second hand smoke, not a motivator, everyone around me seemed fine. Vanity was the key for me! I didn’t want to look like a smoker. I could see that smokers had more wrinkles, their fingers were yellowed, and their voices were hoarse and rough.

Money can be a great motivation. Smoking is expensive. When you don’t buy cigarettes you save tons of money! Giving up a pack a day habit will save about $5 in a day, $35 in a week, $150 a month or $1800 a year! And that is just the cost of cigarettes. Add in lighters and breath mints and you are talking serious money! Treat yourself with it! After a week, get a manicure to rid your fingers of those ugly yellow tobacco stains.

Remind yourself that life wasn’t perfect before you gave up smoking. One of the hardest times for me after I quit was when I got uptight about something. I just knew that a cigarette would calm me down and make everything all better. Of course, that wasn’t true. I would get tense and uptight while I was a smoker. So instead of a cigarette I would do some deep breathing, stretch, or take a brisk walk.

If you are a smoker, (now an ex-smoker!) chances are good that most of your friends are smokers too. Temptation will be huge when you are with friends. It wouldn’t be fair to have to give up your friends, so once again, plan ahead and come up with some strategies to resist temptation. You could try and get all your friends to quit with you. If that doesn’t work, try these suggestions. Find something you can do with your hands. Remind yourself of your reasons why you quit. Get a little silly. When I was out with friends I would smoke… without a cigarette! I would just pretend and go through the motions. Lighting up, a deep inhale and blowing smoke rings. If temptation got strong, I would think of dirty ashtrays and smoker’s breath. I would notice the yellow fingers and wrinkles of the smokers, and count how many hours it had been since my last cigarette. Anything except smoke a cigarette!

Know that you will always be addicted to cigarettes. Even after almost 20 years I still have moments when I want to smoke. I know people who quit for over 20 years and then started right back up in a moment of weakness. It does get much easier, but remember, you are only “a puff away from a pack a day!”

Need To Lose Fat? Cut Out Artificial And Processed Sugar!

Need To Lose Fat? Cut Out Artificial And Processed Sugar!
By Simon Dainton

Processed and artificial sugar is hidden in everything from fruit yoghurts to bread – even your favourite breakfast cereals that you assumed healthy! The average person consumes over 100g of sugar each day, but our bodies can barely cope with more than a teaspoon – just 5g! Fruit yoghurt can contain the equivalent of 7 teaspoons of sugar while a can of coke can top 10! Is it any wonder that so many people suffer from illness, diabetes, obesity and depression? We are becoming a nation of sugar addicts.

Regular intake of processed and artificial sugar is the fast track route to shortening your lifespan. It leaves your body in an over-acidic condition, forcing it to suck calcium from your bones and teeth to reduce this acidity and restore balance. This leads to decay and weakening of these structures, meaning you could be facing a toothless smile and osteoporosis long term, among many other diseases and conditions!

Continue reading “Need To Lose Fat? Cut Out Artificial And Processed Sugar!”