In the past, my husband had lost over 200 pounds with a ketogenic diet, and he is always excited to help other people on that journey. Not me, however – I cannot stomach the idea avoiding carbs and the diet always just felt extremely restrictive.
Before we get into the good stuff, I do want to mention that while this post is sponsored by “Always Eat After 7pm”, the views within are my own.
I do want to lose weight, however, so I started looking around for other ways to go about shedding some pounds. I found “Always Eat After 7pm” and was automatically caught up in the premise that eating at night could actually help me lose weight. After all, it’s been my belief my entire life that eating at night makes you gain weight and with my husbands sort of carbphobia, I was extra scared of late-night snacking or before-bed pizza.
Why This Mom is Reading Always Eat After 7pm
What drew me to “Always Eat After 7pm” is that it claims to offer consistent weight loss while flying in the face of everything I “know” is certified science. Turns out, that’s not the case – in fact, the author points to multiple studies that indicate better sleep and lower calorie consumption the next day when food is eaten before bed.
But to be frank, the thing that piqued my interest was this quote:
“Fact is, most diets are extremely narrow with regard to food choices and variety, and many even limit entire macronutrients altogether over the course of the entire program (think low-carb and low-fat diets). Three months with no carbs? No thanks. Such practices not only are entirely unnecessary, but make for a miserable, unsustainable experience.”
Based on surprising science, Always Eat After 7 PM debunks popular diet myths and offers an easy-to-follow diet that accelerates fat-burning and allows you to indulge in your most intense food cravings: Eating the majority of your calories at night.
I looked at my husband with his 12 eggs a day habit like some kind of real-life Gaston and thought “no thank you”. I’d rather eat whatever I want, especially if I want a late-night snack. And that had me hooked – I decided to try this method.
Ever the skeptic, my husband poked around through the book and watched this video of the author Joel Marion explaining the science behind his method:
Once my husband realized what was being pitched would actually work, he begrudgingly stopped judging the bowl of cherries I was furiously maxing on at 9 pm.
I’d tried other diet plans in the past, like ones where you need hyper-expensive workout videos or meal delivery systems and I hated them. They worked, mind you, but I hated them and they were costly. If this plan could help me lose weight and keep up with my kids, and the entry fee was only the price of a book, I was quite frankly sold.
We’ve been traditionally taught to avoid carbs, have an early dinner, and never eat before bed. But the fact is, the latest scientific research shows us this earlier model is not the most ideal and a diet simply won’t work at ALL if you don’t stick to it. I remember my mom doing juice fasts as a kid and she was always irritable, had no energy and she still barely lost weight, all of which sounds like horrible torture.
I was determined to apply this book’s concepts and objectively see if it worked for weight loss, so I picked up an advance copy. I’ll be working on the concepts in the book, starting with the 14-day acceleration phase that claims to help you lose up to 1 pound per day (I’m particularly excited about that). I’ll be writing about my success with the program, so keep coming back to see how I’m doing.
While the world is staying safe and keeping our distance, there are still those of us who must go out and work, shop and interact at least in some ways with the outside world. Though we’re all counting the days to when we can get out and mingle again, for right now our trips to the grocery store need to be quick, efficient and frugal.
Grocery Shopping Tips For Quarantine
These tips are designed to help us all make our quarantine grocery shopping healthy, safe and efficient, but they’re useful for when all of this ends as well. Wrangling your grocery excursions each week can save you thousands of dollars over the year and tremendous amounts of waste, and might even improve your health.
Make a meal plan before your grocery list
Everyone knows that you shouldn’t go shopping hungry or thirsty because it increases your chances of impulse buying. Did you know it’s just as detrimental to not have a plan in place for all your groceries?
A good meal plan flows into each day; buying a value pack of ground beef can make burgers one day and the leftovers can be used for chili the next. Cooking a pork roast for dinner on Sunday is perfect to make pulled pork on Monday or Tuesday. Planning meals like this saves money and prevents waste, and it allows you to use fillers like beans or rice to make your meals stretch farther.
Avoid Instacart unless you absolutely cannot
Though it seems like getting your groceries delivered is a great way to save time and minimize risk, ultimately someone else is still out there shopping, meaning even though you’re not exposed, someone else is. Additionally, this person is looking at your list and touching things, putting them back and spending more time in the store than you would because you know where to find your routine purchases.
Services like this also mark up the cost of each individual item and charge you a fee. Combined you might be looking at paying over 20% more than if you had shopped yourself.
For high-risk people, these types of services are likely necessities, but many grocery stores offer special hours for high-risk, elderly and emergency services customers. These are low traffic times with extra precautions taken, so if you can, use these hours to your advantage.
Try expanding meatless Mondays
Meat is usually the most expensive part of a meal and with supply chains becoming hindered, it’s increasingly scarce, limited and costly. Meatless Monday is a popular concept that helps people reduce their carbon footprint, reduce meat intake and increase their vegetable intake for better health.
Beans are a great substitute for meat as they provide proteins and cost dramatically less. Dried beans last a considerable amount of time when properly stored and they’re not difficult to cook at all. When coupled with rice, most beans provide a complete essential protein profile and again, both are pantry staples that last for years.
If you want an idea of how much meat to buy for your family and how much each serving costs, there are calculators online that help with that. Applications like these can show you just how much you spend each week on meat, and how much each serving costs, and you can compare different proteins against each other for cost-effectiveness as well.
Batch cook and streamline
With quarantine days bleeding into each other, it’s best to automate as many healthy practices as possible. Your brain likes to make habits out of the mundane, but different experiences feel more special when we make certain parts of our days automatic.
To this end, making big batches of easy breakfasts and lunches is a great way to eat healthy with little thought and to save money. A big container of tuna salad or a breakfast casserole are both extremely cheap, can feed a family for days and can be tailored to be delicious and healthy. This also makes it so that your dinners or weekend meals are more special, because they differ so dramatically from your daily meals. Canned tuna also keeps for a long time, making it an ideal purchase during quarantine when you want to maximize your shopping trips.
Safety and efficiency
Going to the store should be as quick and efficient as possible. Plan a grocery list based on what you pass by as you flow through the store. Produce and meat are usually on the outside, with pantry staples in the middle of the store.
Take a list to ensure you only need to go past each area once, and don’t waste time browsing. Getting in and out as quickly as possible is your top priority, as is maintaining distance. Going as early as possible is another great idea to minimize interaction with other people and maximize how quickly you can get through the store.
Redefine your overall budget
Your grocery budget should be robust enough to feed your family well, but not bloated and including things you really don’t need. Reconsidering your entire budget is a great step during these quarantine times because money is probably becoming more tight, but even if it’s not, there’s never been a better time to step back and evaluate where your money is going and how it’s working for you.
Take the time to sit with a budget calculator and plug in the data to determine how much you should be spending on groceries versus how much you are, and find ways to make those numbers more closely match up.
Grocery shopping has changed dramatically in a few months, and what was simply another chore has turned into something that begs deeper consideration. You can, however, make it a positive, efficient and money-saving experience with just a little bit of planning, budgeting and forethought.
Cooking is one of the most important skills for literally every single person to learn. The days of hoping you marry someone who can cook are over; even if you do, there will be periods of your life where you’ll need to cook for yourself.
Eating takeout all the time is hard on your wallet and your waistline, and cooking for yourself (or your family) has the benefit of allowing you to know exactly what is going into your meals. Additionally, for people with intolerances or allergies to certain foods, cooking for yourself might be literally lifesaving.
Saving Money by Cooking at Home
Particularly at the time of this writing, quarantine across most of the globe due to COVID-19 has us stuck in our houses, so there’s never been a better time to learn how to cook. Let’s take a look at some ways in which home cooking can benefit you, your wallet and your weight.
Cooking is a must for weight loss
If you’re trying to lose weight, cooking for yourself is the right way to go. Even though most restaurants have calorie and macronutrient breakdowns (fat, protein and carbs), those are still dependent on a chef that goes by exact measurements. A heavy hand with the sauce ladle can tip the calorie count 200 or more, and nobody wants that.
Since weight loss is based mostly on what you put into your body – mainly calories – knowing how many you’re taking in per day can be far more easily measured when you’re cooking for yourself.
Home cooking saves you money
While it’s a great thing to support local restaurants, particularly during these difficult times, you can’t reasonably do it every single day. Cooking is far cheaper than eating out, and it’s not difficult to see why.
When you map out a meal plan – you do make a meal plan each week I hope – you can usually ballpark how much it’s going to cost you. For a family of four, a frugal meal plan can be $100 or less, but to eat out for a family of four might cost upwards of $50 for one meal. The math is plainly obvious; $100 for an entire week of meals, or $50 for one single meal of takeout.
Cooking is so easy to learn
Despite what you may think, cooking isn’t incredibly difficult to learn. There are plenty of places online where you can learn basics of home cooking, even if you’re a complete novice. Youtube is a great place to find beginner recipes, cooking steps, tips and basic information.
For a new cook, one of the most daunting tasks is figuring out how to convert measurements – how many tablespoons in a cup, ounces in a gallon, etc. Having a reliable website to convert measurements is hugely helpful, even for a seasoned cook (or if you’re trying to make cooking fun but educational for the kids!)
The conversion tools at Culinary Schools.org are fantastic for quick conversions, no matter how new to cooking you are. I’ve been cooking for years but there’s times where I’m in the middle of a recipe and simply don’t know how to measure out an ingredient, especially when the directions are using metric versus imperial units.
They’ve also got a handful of weight loss calculators that are perfect for figuring out your macros, your body fat percentage and the amount you can expect to burn from working out. If you’re learning to cook to lose weight, they’ve got all the tools you could possibly need to scientifically progress towards your goal.
No matter what reason you have for embarking on the noble pursuit of learning how to cook, it’s not nearly as hard as you think, and the benefits are enormous. Cooking at home is a powerful, noble life skill, it can save you money and help you become the healthiest version of you. There’s never been a better time to learn how to cook for yourself.
Healthcare and medical supplies for the most economically vulnerable often represent one part of a difficult choice. Choosing between critical medicines and eating, for instance, requires sacrifices that nobody should have to make. There are resources out there for people who are in low-or-fixed income situations to obtain their medical supplies cheap or free, but it’s a matter of the resources and the people being linked up.
Now before we go any further, I do want to say that this article in no way represents legal or medical advice. It’s merely my own thoughts and experience.
With that said, medical supplies, as defined under Medicaid, are typically disposable items for incontinence, diabetes or other chronic conditions that require testing or management. The constant resupplying of these items requires not only monthly payments but also a reputable and reliable provider.
There are, thankfully, a number of programs to help disabled, elderly and low-income families get their medical supplies for free or at the very least, drastically reduced in cost. We’re going to go over some options and help you determine the easiest, cheapest method for you to take care of your ongoing medical needs.
Healthcare Options When You’re Low Income
Qualifying for Programs
The first thing to do is to understand that budgeting for your medical supplies isn’t likely necessary, depending on what your income status looks like. For disabled and elderly people, the first step is to determine your Medicare eligibility. If you qualify, you can dramatically lower what you pay out of pocket every year for health services and supplies.
If you’ve ever served in the military, you likely qualify for veteran’s benefits through the VA. In some cases, these benefits can cover home health supplies.
Finally, check with local hospitals to see if they have clinics for low income families. Many will provide basic medical care and possibly some supplies, depending on where you live. These programs also partner with other local support for lower income individuals as well, so you can find a network of assistance when you need it most.
Once you qualify, find a reputable supplier
Once you have insurance or some other form of health cost coverage like what we detailed above, you can find a retailer that sells and ships medical supplies. For instance, incontinence has a variety of tools and supplies necessary to keep it managed. Finding a supplier that accepts your coverage and will ship directly to you can save you a large amount of money and worry.
One primary concern of people in low income situations is that they will reuse medical supplies because they don’t have the money to use fresh ones all the time when necessary. This exposes you to increased risk of infection or other complications, so having a constant supply of clean, disposable incontinence supplies is critical to maintain your health.
Don’t make unnecessary choices
There is no reason to pay more money than necessary for your medical supplies. Likewise, don’t put yourself in danger by reusing supplies you shouldn’t be. If you qualify for Medicare, Medicaid or veteran’s benefits, you can find a reputable medical supplies retailer who will ship fresh products directly to your door. There is help out there to keep you from having to make difficult decisions about your health, so please check into these programs today and start down the path to better health.
Anything that helps make a task easier is always welcome. One of the best modern wonders in the kitchen is the Instant Pot. It is a small kitchen appliance that is purported to be able to do any kind of cooking: slow cooking, steaming, and stewing, just to name a few.
You can create perfectly cooked food using its different functions and have a convenient gadget that, theoretically, replaces others. The all-in-one cooker saves you the hassle of pulling out all the appliances from the hard-to-teach cupboards. While the Instant Pot has had glowing reviews over the years and works perfectly with all sorts of food, what else can you put in it?
How about a scientifically backed superfood that everyone should try? Matcha is a finely ground powder made from special green tea leaves. It has a ton of antioxidants and other nutritional benefits and has blown up the internet as one of the most popular flavors enjoyed today. Authentic matcha powder comes only from Japan, and if you want to get your fix, you need to buy from legit sellers only.
If you already enjoy matcha but want to know recipes that use an instapot, refer to the list below.
Instapot Recipes for Matcha
Matcha Cheesecake with Blackberry Compote
Who doesn’t love cheesecake? This recipe is easily doable, and with the Instant Pot, you have the advantage of making this in the comfort of your own home. The handy little gadget, which is a hybrid between pressure cookers and slow cookers, can make a rich and moist cheesecake.
Another benefit is that the cheesecake doesn’t need a water bath when you use the Instant Pot. Water baths can be clunky and messy and take up quite some time. You’ll be surprised that, once you’ve made this cheesecake, it will taste just like the usual oven-baked version does.
Matcha Crème Brûlée
This is another dessert that you can make using the oven or stovetop. However, you can make this finicky dessert easier and with less room for error, using the pressure-cooker setting in the Instant Pot. Crème brûlée is a smooth, creamy, fancy custard that is characterized by its torched caramelized top.
This recipe has the same ingredients but has matcha powder as a delicious variant. The secret to making green tea matcha brûlée smooth is to sieve the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to ensure that there are no lumps. You can also substitute dairy for an alternative like coconut milk.
Mango Matcha Oats
Who doesn’t want oats in the morning or, if you love it enough, any time of the day? This quick and simple recipe yields two servings. Using the pressure-cooker option of the Instant Pot guarantees that the steel-cut oats are cooked to perfection.
Mango is good on its own, but the addition of other nutritious ingredients like matcha, banana, and coconut milk will take the oats to the next level. You can also add toppings such as cinnamon, brown sugar, toasted coconuts, and nuts.
Rice-Cooker Matcha Pancakes
The Instant Pot is versatile, and one of its most important features is the rice cooker. If you don’t regularly make rice in your home, you can easily use the Instant Pot to make rice-cooker matcha pancakes. Those who are not familiar with Japanese cuisine and its ingenuity will think it’s impossible, but a lot of people who have tried rice-cooker pancakes enjoy them.
All you need are the usual pancake ingredients and some matcha. You can dust the finished product with powdered sugar or garnish with toppings of your choice.
Slow-Cooked Matcha Coco Curry
One of the most wholesome variants of curry is made with full-fat coconut milk and vegetable broth base. This recipe uses the slow-cooker feature of the Instant Pot to make this delicious meal. You can eat this curry on its own or serve it with rice.
What other Instant Pot matcha recipes can you think of?
Kitchen cures for colds and the like are a dime a dozen, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work! With sickness season upon us and will soon ramp up into the absolute worst that tiny microbes can throw at us. If you have kids in school – literally any school, even home-school somehow – they’re going to turn into walking, talking petri dishes. You can load them up on medicine, give them three scarves and an overcoat, but they’re going to be sneezing regardless.
If you’re like me, you love science – I think medicine, vaccines, and pizza bagels are all wonderful advances for humankind. Sometimes, however, you might not want to give your kids (or self) 3 different medicines, all filled with items you can’t pronounce. Luckily there are some simple-to-use, cheap and easy home remedies that absolutely work to fight off colds and other nasties.
Some of these you will buy at the store, some you’ll make yourself, but all of them are things I personally do and I very, very rarely get sick. Even when my kids are little germ tornadoes, I weather the storm with these witchy kitchen hacks, and you can, too!
Kitchen Cures for Colds
When I know I’m going to get sick, I feel it at the back of my throat. It starts not as a sore throat but as a tickle, usually, maybe scratchiness, but I still know. That’s when I start taking raw, whole garlic.
Garlic has anti-microbial properties, but it’s especially good for when you’re getting sick in the sinuses. For most people, eating a whole clove at once might be…difficult. Dicing it up, however, makes it easier to take, and has the bonus of being incredibly spicy, which often clears out sinuses.
For colds or influenza, I will mix 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic with a tablespoon of raw honey and take that. It helps with sore throats, coughing, and it shortens the duration of my colds. If I get ahead of getting sick by taking this mixture, I can often completely avoid a full-blown cold entirely.
Kombucha is another thing I’ll start chugging at the first sign of a cold. The probiotics in kombucha bolster the gut microbiome, which in turn makes your immune system more robust. Opt for kombucha with less sugar, however – sugar itself can damage your gut biome and we want to avoid that.
Chicken soup is good for more than a light meal when you feel bad. Actual scientific research shows that hot drinks like soup or tea help thin out mucus, which makes it less gummy in your lungs and easier to get rid of. Chicken soup in particular (when made with bone broth) has anti-inflammatory effects which can reduce nasal swelling, helping you breathe. The collagen in chicken bone broth also boosts the health of your gut lining, which again makes your immune system stronger.
Get a whole chicken from the store and toss it in the crock pot on high for 3-4 hours with some veggies. Strip the meat off the bones and use it in whatever you’d like – we’re here for the skeleton (I told you this was witchy). Drop the crock to low, add 6 cups of water, some salt, 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and let it cook for about 10 hours. This will draw out the collagen and give you a lovely bone broth. Just make sure you strain it before enjoying this kitchen cure.
Spice Kitchen Cures
Ginger is great for soothing a sore throat and it can suppress a cough as well. You take a few thin slices of fresh ginger and steep it like tea in hot water, adding actual tea bags if you like. The spicy ginger is soothing on your sore throat, and if you add some honey it can be a one-two punch against coughs. It definitely my go-to kitchen cure.
Echinacea root, taken as a tea (around 1-2 grams) a few times a day can help prevent the cold from getting a hold in your body. This is best done when I see my kids or husband’s eyes get that glassy, “I’m getting a cold” look. It’s like those over-the-counter cold preventatives but this actually works.
Turmeric mixed into your morning coffee – about a 1.5 tsps – has a potent anti-inflammatory effect. If coffee isn’t your thing, try turmeric tea instead, which you can make the same way as turmeric coffee with black tea bags, or you can buy turmeric tea bags already pre-made.
Especially in fall as mold grows in the damp weather and fields are harvested, allergies are rampant. If not treated, allergies quickly turn into upper respiratory infections and we don’t want that.
Honey has been proven to be as useful if not better than dextromethorphan (cough syrup) at treating, well, coughs. This study showed that 2.5ml of honey at bed time was better at suppressing coughs than over-the-counter cough syrups, and that’s great because cough syrup has a taste that is staggeringly awful. Do remember that you cannot give honey to kids under 1 year old, due to the chances of botulism spores being present.
Black licorice – whether you love it or hate it – can be a powerful medicine. Now, it’s not the candy that people who don’t love you give you as a treat – this is flavored with anise and has no medicinal properties. You want actual licorice root which contains glycyrrhizin, which reduces inflammation in the lungs. With all that said, you should avoid the root in excess of 1 gram a day (you can make a tea with it), as it really is potent and can cause problems in high doses. Best to stick with a lozenge that has licorice root as an active ingredient and stick strictly to the usage limits.
Eucalyptus oil and vaporubs are the smell we might have grown up with, but for a very good reason. These vaporubs can improve cold symptoms in just a few hours of application, opening airways, fighting inflammation and improving coughs. While I like essential oils, I don’t rely on them to fix my family’s sickness BUT eucalyptus oil in a humidifier is great when your family is coughing their lungs out at nighttime.
Nobody wants this but it’s there so let’s talk about it. Woof.
Ginger again, steeped in hot water with peppermint tea will do wonders for nausea. We often break up peppermints into hot water with a slice of ginger and give it to our kids, as sucking on a peppermint is great for tummy troubles but the choking risk of hard candy is a no-no.
While not a remedy exactly, if you’re nauseated, closing your fist around your thumb can suppress the urge to vomit. Massaging point where your thumb is anchored to your hand is another way to ease nausea.
Don’t believe me? Try closing your fist around your thumb (same hand, basically make a fist with your thumb tucked inside) and then test your gag reflex; pretty wild, eh?
Mint is an herb we grow quite a lot of around our house, especially since it’s perfect for gardening on a budget. Since it’s somewhat invasive, make sure you tend to it regularly or it will take over whatever bed it’s growing in. That said, a tea made with 4-5 bruised mint leaves helps reduce nausea and stomach pain when you’ve got gastroenteritis or food poisoning.
Chamomile is another herb we love, as it’s similar to turmeric with its anti-inflammatory benefits. If you don’t grow chamomile, you can buy dried flowers online (or if you have a holistic/health food store nearby, you can probably get them there). Steep 3 dried flowers in hot water for about 10 minutes and then add some honey. This mixture is good for cramping, diarrhea and nausea.
Home remedies for colds are legit
Again, I don’t want to suggest you be afraid of science, but there are traditional medicines that have real, absolute uses in the 21st century. Sometimes letting a fever run its course is better than taking ibuprofen unless it’s keeping you from sleeping. Inflammation is the cause of a lot of the nastiness with almost all illness, and dealing with that using medicine can sometimes hurt just as much as it helps.
For instance, if you’re dealing with stomach pain and cramps, taking aspirin or ibuprofen might make the pain much worse. Soothing herbal teas have scientific validity and real-world applications. Plus, you can grow the necessary herbs yourself!
Do you have any kitchen hacks for colds that you think are worth sharing?
We’d love to read about them in the comments – building up a repertoire of useful home remedies for sickness is essential for any kitchen witch (and even non-witchy moms or dads)!