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Archive for June, 2011

Benefits of Menu Planning

June 28, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living, Organization, Stress Management No Comments →

There are many benefits of meanu planning that people just dont think about.

Menu planning is a life saver for most families.  Just imagine creating an easy meal plan and knowing what you are going to be serving up for meals each day of the week? You will save time, money and your sanity.  

You  can visit Meal Planning Central for a free meal planning report and free resources too!

1) Get Dinner On The Table Faster

If you know what you are going to fix for dinner, and you have everything you need at your fingertips, getting the food on the table becomes a snap. You don’t have to spend 2o minutes searching through the freezer and cookibooks trying to figure out what to make. If you are stuck at the office, and your spouse knows what’s on the menu for the night – he or she can even get started on the easy recipes without you. When you have hungry family members, getting dinner on the table as fast as possible will make your evening much more enjoyable.

2) Run To The Store Less Often

How many times do you run to the grocery store to buy something to cook for dinner. I don’t know about you, but it takes me at least 45 minutes every time I do that. Menu planning allows you to get all your shopping done once a week, and make sure you have what you need to prepare every single dinner for the week.

3) You’ll Eat Better

You have the best intentions to prepare wholesome, healthy meals for your family. Then you get home late, everyone is hungry and there is nothing in the fridge. You head for takeout or call the pizza delivery guy. The is is asnother one of the  benefits of menu planning, if you plan your meals and have what you need at home you are much more likely to actually cook healthy dishes for your family.

4) It Saves You Money

How much food do you throw out each week because you just didn’t get around to cooking it? Plus every time you go to the store there are a few extra things that just make their way into your cart and on your grocery bill. One of my favorite benefits of menu planning is that  if you shop less and only for those items that you actually need, you spend a lot less money on groceries each week. We won’t even think about how much we spend eating out each week.

5) It Saves You Time

In addition to saving you money, meal planning also saves you time. You only have to go grocery shopping once a week, and there is no more walking around the kitchen each evening for 20 minutes frantically trying to figure out what’s for dinner tonight. Everything you need from the recipe to the ingredients is right at your fingertips.

6) Quality Family Time

When you think back to your own childhood, family dinner is sure to come to mind as a time when everyone got together to eat a meal and talk about the day. You can recreate that experience for your family and spend some quality time each week over a home-cooked meal.

7) It Is Easy

Last, but not least, menu planning is easy when we let us give you a hand. Our easy recipes are family friendly and our grocery shopping lists make your trips to the supermarket a breeze.

As you can see, there are many benefits of menu planning. You can also visit Meal Planning Central for a free meal planning report.

Clearing Clutter and Going Green

June 27, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living, Organization No Comments →

(ARA) – These days, we’re all trying to make small changes in our everyday habits to live a little more “green,” from switching to energy-efficient light bulbs to carrying reusable shopping bags and composting kitchen waste. But many don’t realize that one of the easiest ways to be more eco-friendly is by de-cluttering and donating gently used items that you’re no longer using.

“We know millions of families across the country are already clearing out their clutter with spring cleaning,” says Tony Shumpert, vice president of recycling and supply chain operations for Savers, Inc., a thrift store chain. “By donating these items, instead of simply throwing them away, you can give back to the community and save quality goods from polluting the earth. In fact, we operate one of the largest recycling programs in the world, keeping more than 500 million pounds of goods out of landfills last year alone.”

But if the thought of going green has you turning red in exhaustion, consider some of these tips to make the task easier:

* Bring a friend in to help with spring cleaning. Not only can the two of you spend a great afternoon together, but your friend can also give you an objective opinion as you sort through items to keep or donate.

* Be organized about getting organized. Start in one corner of one room, and make your way around the room in a circle. Don’t move on to the next room until you are finished with the first. If you need to take a break, go for it, but always return to where you left off.

* Designate a specific place for donations. Your “clutter corner” should be in a handy, but out-of-the-way location in your home. Encourage family members to place items – clothes, toys, housewares – that they aren’t using any longer into the bin. For parents, your children will see that gently used items shouldn’t be thrown away, and something they don’t want any longer can have a new life with someone else.

* Be realistic about what you think you want to keep. If you haven’t worn that shirt in more than a year, it’s ready to go. Another way to determine what to donate is to put items you’re not sure about into a box. Seal it and store it. If you haven’t opened that box a year later, donate the entire thing. Chances are, you don’t have a clue what’s in the box and don’t need it.

* Know your nearest donation drop. Once you’ve designated items to donate, you don’t have to spend hours tracking down a location to drop your items off. Simply visit www.communitydonationcenter.com to find a nearby Community Donation Center where you can drop off your goods. This site also provides a list of nonprofits in your area with donation home pick-up service where they’ll come straight to your door to collect donations.

“Even donations not suitable for resale, or that just don’t sell on our shelves, find a second life with Savers,” says Shumpert. “A portion of these goods are sent to developing countries where they support micro-economies and help improve the lives of people in other parts of the world. Remaining items are sold to domestic material wholesalers who recycle the products into new materials such as wiping rags, car insulation and much more.”

Another bonus to donating your gently used goods – Savers partners with more than 140 nonprofits and pays these organizations for every item they collect. These partnerships turn otherwise unused goods into sustainable funding that supports the nonprofits’ programs and services.

When you donate your unused items to Savers’ nonprofit partners, another person can put them to use, which helps save space in landfills, and charitable organizations in your area will benefit as well. And you can feel good about taking one more step toward living a little greener.

Stop by Get Organized Now – and check out the amazing collection of 2,175 ideas, tips and techniques for organizing your home, getting rid of clutter, organizing your time, your schedule, your money, your paper, your family and much more!

Fun Organizing Ideas

June 24, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Organization No Comments →

What does getting organized bring to mind for you? Does it mean putting in many hours and blood, sweat and tears before you will become more efficient? Does it mean lots of hard work to accomplish important and necessary tasks? Do you procrastinate when it comes to getting organized because you feel it is too daunting a job? Organizing does not have to be thought of as a chore.

Here are some fun organizing ideas that you can use to make getting organized a bit more fun.

1. The easiest and simplest way to make organizing a fun activity is to put on your favorite music. Pick out a few upbeat songs that get your spirits running high and your body wanting to move. Put on the music, start tapping your feet, pick out an area you would like to organize and begin organizing. This fun organizing idea not only gets your home organized but it also serves as exercise too.

2. Do not try and tackle all of the organizing on your own. Get everyone in your home involved in becoming organized. Make it a family affair. Assign each family member a task or tasks to complete and decide on a time frame to complete. As tasks are accomplished, everyone celebrates together.

3. Create a party atmosphere. Another fun organizing idea is to consider organizing as a big celebration! Put on clothes that make you feel festive and put on a few party songs. Serve pizza and punch and celebrate your achievements. Be creative. Do whatever makes the mood festive for you.

4. Treat organizing like a puzzle. Organizing can be a challenge. However, this can be considered rather daunting and not much fun. If you treat organizing like a puzzle, it can become more like a game instead. The more pieces you fit together (the more organizing you accomplish), the more complete and whole the puzzle becomes.

5. Rewards make a huge difference when it comes to getting a task done. Organizing does take time and effort, but to make it more worthwhile, do not forget to give yourself a reward for your accomplishments and achievements. If you do not give yourself a pat on the back or a reward for getting an organizing goal finished, you are not going to be motivated to continue toward more goals. Pick a reward that is something you enjoy doing or something you really want. When you achieve another organizing goal, plan another reward to work toward.

6. Use fun organizing tools and supplies to boost your mood and your level of wanting to get organized. Plan a trip to stores with organizing supplies to get new and fresh ideas. Look for new storage items you can use to improve your living space and help you become more organized. This fun organizing idea also spruces up the look of any space.

7. Make organizing a friendly competition. A competition between family members or friends can put a whole new spin on getting organized. Set several goals for participants to work toward with varying levels for each accomplishment achieved. Designate a corresponding treat as a prize to attain for each level. Begin the competition. When finished and goals are achieved, hold a reward ceremony.

8. To get children more involved in organizing, play ‘beat the clock.. Assign a ‘put away’ basket for each child. Set a timer for 30 seconds and see who can pick up the most items. Keep score and be sure to award the winner with a prize, such as a movie or getting to stay up later for an evening. This fun organizing idea is sure to get the kids excited about organizing.

9. Associating organizing with something you enjoy can help make the tasks more fun. For example, you can watch your favorite TV show as long as you also sort through the paperwork on your desk. Or make it a fun milestone. If you finished an organizing project, treat yourself to a movie. Decide what works best for you and then work toward the milestone.

Using any of the fun orgainzing ideas above is sure to add a bit more joy into organizing any space.  

Stop by Get Organized Now – and check out the amazing collection of 2,175 ideas, tips and techniques for organizing your home, getting rid of clutter, organizing your time, your schedule, your money, your paper, your family and much more!

Organized Outdoor Dining: 10 Tips

June 22, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Organization No Comments →

Keep these ten outdoor dining tips in mind the next time you have a gathering of friends and family. Outdoor dining can be inconvenient when done haphazardly. Plan ahead and you’ll increase your chances of an enjoyable, memorable event.

1. Check the weather. Don’t take chances on being rained out. If the event is planned well ahead of time, consider reserving a pavilion or renting a canopy in the event of inclement weather. For spontaneous outdoor dining, be flexible and understand that weather often changes quickly and you may have to alter your plans.

2. Keep hot food hot. Be sure hot foods are cooked to above 140 degrees F and kept to at least 140 degrees F if not eaten promptly.

3. Keep cold food cold. An upset stomach is not something you want to remember about your outdoor dining event. Use coolers and lots of ice to keep potentially hazardous foods well chilled and don’t leave food dishes out in the hot sun where bacteria will thrive. Keep filled coolers in air- conditioned vehicles when traveling, not in the trunk, and refrain from opening and closing the lid often.

4. Bring wet wipes. Eating outside is often messy and having the ability to wipe off hands with a moist cloth is helpful when no hand-washing facilities are present. Keep a pack in your car for unexpected outdoor dining gatherings and include a bottle of hand sanitizer as well.

5. Think about the eating surface. You may want to bring along a large vinyl tablecloth to make dining more pleasant. Picnic benches are often nasty surfaces and difficult to clean, so covering the picnic bench or other surface with a tablecloth makes good sense. Weigh down your tablecloth with rocks in the case of windy conditions, or purchase clips or weights to be used for that purpose.

6. Don’t forget the sun block. Even on cloudy days, your skin is quickly susceptible to burning. If there is a lot of reflective surface around, such as pavement or water, sunburn is a risk as well, even in winter. Even if you remember yours before leaving your house, someone may forget theirs, so bring some sun block along.

7. Bring activities for outdoor dining events. If food is cooked on site, it may be a long time before being served. If kids are involved (or even just adults), having activities planned helps pass the time and keeps people active. Bring a ball, flying disk or maybe even a kite if the location is right.

8. Consider net covers for serving food dishes. Purchase inexpensive umbrella-like, fold out mesh covers to keep flying insects out of the food. These covers are often found in discount stores during the summer season.

9. Bring an empty trash bag. Clean up well after yourself and leave the outdoor dining site as you found it, or better, so that others may enjoy the location after you leave.

10. Take note of your surroundings. Don’t concentrate so much on the food, that you forget where you are. Savor your meal, but look around and take in the scenery around you.

Get Organized Now – An amazing collection of 2,175 ideas, tips and techniques for organizing your home, getting rid of clutter, organizing your time, your schedule, your money, your paper, your family and much more!

Low Cost Storage Solutions

June 17, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Organization No Comments →

In this day and age, with the state of the world economy, being thrifty has become of supreme importance. Being thrifty in our organizing doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are so many fun and creative ways to encorporate low cost storage solutions into your home and or office space.

1) The most important factor in being organized is to be able to locate what you need when you need it. Rather than just thinking of being organized as having everything in neat, matching boxes, think of being organized as you owning your stuff as opposed to your stuff owning you.

2) Organizing holiday items is something you can get your whole family involved in. Rather than spending additional money on red and green boxes to store Christmas items, you can have your children create special labels for the boxes you do have. They can color trees or Santas or other holiday themed pictures for you to affix to the front of the boxes. Then when you store them, you will be able to see which ones are the holiday boxes just by looking. You can do this for any holiday or even birthday supplies. (Summer is a great time to get your holiday stuff organized! When Christmas rolls around, it will be all ready.)

3) Looking to organize your bathroom? Low cost storage solutions can also be applied to your bathrooms. You can spend just a couple of dollars on a roll of colorful contact paper and cover some shoeboxes. You can have a box for make-up, one for hair styling supplies, anything you like! Another advantage to this is that the contact paper can easily be wiped down with a slightly damp cloth and will stay looking new.

4) The low cost storage solutions of using contact paper can actually be used in many places in your house. If you need more clothing storage but don’t want to spend money on a furniture piece just now, you can cover banker’s boxes (or other cardboard boxes) and use them for dresser cubes. This also allows you to change out the ‘decor’ whenever you want. You can cover smaller boxes to hold office supplies or other home office items.

5) Looking for ways to be nifty and thrifty in your kitchen or pantry? Buy a handful of inexpensive plastic lazy susans and create specific areas. You can have a baking area, a canned soup area, a children’s snack area just for some examples. By keeping these areas together and organized, you will save money because you will know exactly what you have. You will be able to see these items in your cabinet with just a spin of the lazy susan. This will help to avoid things being lost in the back which will eventually be thrown out because they become stale. This will help you to avoid buying duplicates of items you already have and it will help you to be able to meal plan by seeing right in front of you what is there and what you might need to buy.

6) The biggest nifty and thrifty way you can organize is to cut down on the amount of stuff you have. ESPECIALLY if you are paying for a storage unit or have your garage so full of storage stuff that you can’t park your car in there. The fewer items or boxes that you are storing, the better able you will be to organize them effectively. If you have things in storage that are valuable to you either monetarily or sentimentally, then they should be taken care of and respected. They should not be shoved into storage boxes with a bunch of things that aren’t as important.

7) If you do have an offsite storage unit that you are paying for, it’s important to know exactly what is in there. Then you can determine where you might be able to store the stuff at your home so it won’t cost you so much money. You might also decide that the stuff in storage isn’t worth paying that amount of money for any longer.

8 ) You might be asking yourself what is ‘nifty’ about getting rid of stuff. By cutting back on the quantity of things that we have, we can more fully enjoy the items that we are keeping. If we only have a few select pieces or collectibles, they can be properly displayed inside the home. Spending money to collect things that we just end up storing is neither nifty nor thrifty!

Remember, it’s important for you to own your things, not have them own you. Cherish the items that you do want to keep and take care of them properly. By following any or all of the above low cost storage solutions, you will be organized on the cheap!

Get Organized Now – An amazing collection of 2,175 ideas, tips and techniques for organizing your home, getting rid of clutter, organizing your time, your schedule, your money, your paper, your family and much more!

The DOs and DON’Ts of Organizing

June 15, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Organization No Comments →

Have you found yourself getting frustrated at your seeming lack of ability to get organized? Are you wondering if there might be a better way to go about getting your home organized? Fear not! We have a few tips for you that can help you avoid, or minimize, some of the pitfalls.

1. DON’T try to do it all in one day!

It is very easy to think we need to get it all done in one day. The reality is that our homes don’t get cluttered in one day and it takes more than one day to get it decluttered and organized. So do yourself a favor and don’t try to do everything in one day.

DO look realistically at your existing commitments and schedule.

Once you know what you’ve already got on your schedule, do schedule time each day, or as many days in a week as you can to begin the decluttering and organizing process.

2. DON’T try to organize clutter!

If you try organizing clutter, you’ll only get discouraged and give up. You end up moving stuff from one place in your home to another. Or, you end up with a room or a closet or more stuffed to the rafters with ‘stuff.’ The rest of your house may look great, but the reality is a bit different.

DO spend the time decluttering first.

You can donate items to charity, or have a garage sale and sell the excess. Keep only those things that you love and use, and that add value to your life. Let the rest go to benefit someone else.

3. DON’T work randomly.

Working randomly means you start and stop. It means you get sidetracked. It means you’re less likely to be able to actually complete what you start out to do. This way of working; rather than being conducive to successful organizing is more likely to get discouraging because it takes twice as long to reach your goals.

DO work with a plan.

There are three main tools you need to work successfully–a plan, 3 boxes and scheduled time. Your plan consists of your overall strategy, including your list of what you want to accomplish. The three boxes should be labeled as follows: one box for donations, one box for keep and one box for trash. Work for the amount of time you have available on your schedule and follow your plan. Don’t leave the room to put things elsewhere until you are finished for that day’s allotment of time.

4. DON’T get discouraged if it looks worse before it looks better.

For a while it will. Remember, you’re making separate `piles’. The keep pile, the donate/sell pile and the trash pile. Don’t let the extra mess discourage you. It’s progress!

DO take encouragement from the way your different boxes are filling up.

To help keep the piles a bit smaller, at the end of the day, or even at the end of the week, take your donation items to your charity of choice. Also, take your trash out to the trash can. It will help keep the mess down a bit and also help you to see progress as you work your way around the room.

Stop by Get Organized Now – and check out the amazing collection of 2,175 ideas, tips and techniques for organizing your home, getting rid of clutter, organizing your time, your schedule, your money, your paper, your family and much more!

5. DON’T try to work the whole room at once.

Just like trying to schedule a marathon session for your whole house can be overwhelming. Trying to do an entire room at once can be overwhelming too. But it doesn’t have to be.

DO divide the room up into quadrants and work in one quadrant at a time.

When you finish it move on to the next quadrant. This make the decluttering and follow-on organizing much more manageable.

6. DON’T rush out to buy any containers first.

That’s usually our first temptation–to run out and buy containers to organize with. But, to do that before you finish decluttering just adds more clutter to your home!

DO complete your decluttering before you buy any containers.

Once you have finished decluttering, then you know exactly what kind of storage, if any, that you really need.

7. DON’T go it alone.

Do you ever feel like you’re fighting the organizing battle alone? You shouldn’t take on the entire project alone. Chances are, there are things your family can do to aid in the decluttering and organizing.

DO enlist the family.

Children are often eager to help, especially with incentive: more time with Mom; keeping the money their clutter sells for at a garage sale, etc. Hold a family meeting and explain what you would like to accomplish and how they can help.

8. DON’T declutter your spouse’s stuff for them.

Sometimes it can take time for our spouses to agree that their stuff needs to be decluttered too. The less you try to force them into decluttering, the better.

DO concentrate on your own stuff first.

It almost always happens that our spouses see how much easier it is for us to find things of ours and they want the same thing for themselves. If you declutter your stuff first without trying to get them to do the same, they often come around.

9. DON’T add any clutter back once you begin to declutter.

If you continue to add clutter while you are trying to declutter, you’re setting yourself up to try to climb and re-climb a mountain of clutter. Instead of adding to the clutter!

DO declare a war on new clutter.

This means simply that you add nothing more than consumables (food, drink, toiletries, etc) until you have your clutter under control. Be sure to check your consumable supplies first before going out to buy more. You don’t want to duplicate what you already have.

10. DON’T let it get away from you again.

So many times we work hard to get rid of clutter, then let it build back up again. This can happen so easily and quickly! Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are building clutter again. So how do we maintain our decluttered state?

DO organize in a way that works for you.

If it doesn’t work for you, you won’t use it. Then, to maintain your decluttered and organized home, make a rule for you and your family. The rule is: One in – One out. Simple, but it goes a long way towards minimizing a return of clutter. How does it work? For every one item you bring into the house, at least one item goes out to charity or trash or a sale box in your garage. Follow through and you will stay organized and clutter free.

Stop by Get Organized Now – and check out the amazing collection of 2,175 ideas, tips and techniques for organizing your home, getting rid of clutter, organizing your time, your schedule, your money, your paper, your family and much more!

Healthy Summer Snacks For Kids

June 13, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

Summer time is a great time for kids to enjoy the outside and play hard. However, getting your child to continue to eat healthy during summer vacation can be a challenge sometimes. It is easier than you think to whip up some healthy summer snacks for kids to keep them healthy and energized through the summer months.

Here are some healthy snack snacks for kids:

Eggs

Eggs are great healthy summer snacks for kids! They contain cholesterol but also a lot of protein which is great anytime for satisfying hunger. Eggs can be enjoyed anytime in their hard-boiled form. We eat plenty of them at Easter but as a quick snack, you can’t beat them.

Here’s a sample healthy summer egg snack recipe:

Deviled Eggs

* One dozen eggs
* Half a cup of low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise
* One quarter cup of mustard
* White vinegar
* Paprika for garnish

Boil one dozen eggs. Allow to cool in the fridge. Divide each egg in half. Scoop out the yolks. Combine with mayonnaise and mustard in a bowl. Add a splash of white vinegar for taste and tanginess. Place a spoonful of the mixture back in each egg half. Sprinkle with paprika.

Legumes and Beans

What makes a snack work anyway? Could it be the portability factor? Kids love to eat pieces of things that we can chew easily. Edamame is raw soybeans in their pods. They are crisp, sweet and full of flavor and makes a great healthy summer snacks for kids. They are great on a salad or simple eating them as is as a quick snack that is full of protein.

Beans also make great snacks. Here are a couple of recipes that do have the portability factor. Carry in a small container and place in a cooler. You can enjoy a refreshing snack wherever you go.

Hummus dip

* 1 can of chickpeas (drained)
* Half a cup of tahini (sesame seed paste)
* One clove of garlic, minced
* Lemon juice

Grind up the chickpeas until they are mashed and blended. Combine with tahini, a squeeze of lemon juice and minced garlic. Chill in the fridge. When you are ready to eat it, use toasted pita chips, fresh cut veggies or whole grain crackers.

One of my favorite healthy summer snacks for kids is also one that many adults love too:

Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

* One cup of rolled oats
* One cup of plain yogurt
* One cup of blueberries
* One cup of strawberries, cut up
* Honey

Start with a clear plastic cup. Place a small amount of rolled oats in the bottom. Top with blueberries. Add a tablespoon of yogurt. Add another layer of oats. Top with strawberry pieces. Add another tablespoon of yogurt. Continue to layer, alternating fruit, until all ingredients are gone. Drizzle a teaspoon of honey over the top.

For smaller portions, use six-ounce cups and divide the ingredients. Refrigerate parfaits until ready to eat. If you don’t favor strawberries and blueberries, use another combination of fruit more to your liking.

By using any or all of the healthy summer snacks for kids ideas that are posted above, you are sure to receive tons of smiles and hugs from your little ones.

Healthy Summer Drinks

June 10, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

Nothing hits the spot on a summer day when you’re super hot and thirsty quite like good healthy summer drinks.

The body is at least 70 percent water. It keeps the blood flowing, cells metabolizing and organs functioning properly. Without enough water, urination slows down, organ systems start failing and cells can’t keep the body going.

Some people don’t like to drink water. That’s okay. We are going to give you some ideas (and, yes, recipes, too) to increase fluid intake that can accompany water. Also, learn to drink your water in a new way that might have you craving it.

Here are some delicious healthy summer drinks:

Smoothies

These are all the rage nowadays. They fall somewhere between fruit juice and a milkshake. That’s a big stretch but smoothies provide you with a cool burst of freshness that fills you up and tastes good. Sure, you can buy them at juice shops and fast food restaurants, but you also don’t know what hidden ingredients are also being added. At home, you can be assured that you are only drinking fresh and natural ingredients.

The two main types are fruit and vegetable. Fruit smoothies incorporate fresh fruit with yogurt, ice cream or milk, juice, ice cubes and a sweetener. Try to use complementary flavors so that they blend well in the mixture. Try different combinations until you find a few that you can rotate through for a fresh taste every day.

Here is a healthy summer drink fruit smoothie recipe:

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie

* One cup of strawberries
* One medium banana
* One cup of plain yogurt or fat free frozen strawberry yogurt
* Half a cup of apple juice
* Ice cubes
* Honey or agave nectar (as needed)

Cut up strawberries and bananas for easier mixing. Add them to a blender along with the cup of yogurt and the fruit juice. Blend until mixed. Add ice cubes for thickness.

If the flavor is not sweet enough for you, try a natural sweetener before you reach for sugar. Some ideas are maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. Drizzle it into your glass. Add some fresh strawberry pieces and a sprig of mint for a garnish. Mint adds a fresh taste to clean your palate after drinking your smoothie.

Vegetable smoothies is an example of another healthy summer drink. They are created using a combination of fresh vegetables along with an optional piece of fruit. Many veggies have a natural sweetness that people don’t recognize because they eat them after they have been heavily processed. This is a chance to get back to nature’s coolness.

You might be thinking, “How can I blend hard veggies?” The trick is dice your vegetables well before adding them to the blender. If you have an inexpensive blender from the store, you may need to upgrade to one with more speed and more powerful blades.

Some vegetables work better than others. Some popular choices for smoothies include spinach, greens, carrots, broccoli and avocados. In addition, nuts can be added for a dose of good fat and lots of protein and fiber. Your final combination will be full of fiber, vitamins and minerals that the body needs – all wrapped in a glass of refreshing liquid.

Here is a sample vegetable smoothie recipe:

Blueberry-Carrot Smoothie

* One cup of fresh blueberries
* Fresh carrot juice (it tastes better if you juice them yourself) or pureed carrots
* Half a cup of milk (soymilk, low fat milk) or one cup of yogurt
* Pureed spinach leaves
* Flaxseeds
* Sweetener, if needed (agave nectar, honey)

Clean and cut up vegetables. Add your liquid base – carrot juice and milk or yoghurt. Remove spines on greens and rough outer skin from carrots. Puree carrots and spinach until smooth. Mix in blueberries. Lastly, add some ground flaxseed for a bit of omega-3 fatty acids in your drink.

If the smoothie is too loose, add some ice cubes. Nuts will also help to thicken the smoothie. Adjust the sweetness with honey, agave nectar or maple syrup.

Ingredients for smoothies can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. When you are ready for a cool delight, simply put the fruits and/or vegetables of your choice into a blender and mix.

Flavored Water

One of my favorite healthy summer drinks is falvored water. The body needs to replenish fluids lost during workouts and normal daily activity, especially during the summer. Drinking water provides hydration without any of the calories. But, it can be bland to drink plain water each day.

There are ways that you can flavor water so that it has a cool kick to it that everyone will enjoy. Consider using flavored ice cubes. Their purpose is to add a bit of sweetness or tang to your water as they melt.

It is really easy to create flavored ice cubes. Add your favorite lemonade or fruit juice to an ice tray. Add one or two cubes to a glass of water for a trickle of taste as you drink.

Another way to freshen a glass of plain water and turn it into a tasty healthy summer drink is to add slices of fruit or vegetables to a pitcher. Here’s a simple recipe:

Cucumber Water

* One medium cucumber, sliced
* One pitcher of water

Wash and slice the cucumber. Add the slices to a pitcher of water and chill.

Pour yourself a fresh glass. It is simple but refreshing. If you don’t like cucumbers, try a slice of orange or a slice of lemon.

Iced Teas

Many people drink sweetened iced tea in the summertime. It is good, but the downside is that it is full of sugar. This provides a lot of extra empty calories that the body doesn’t need. You can provide better nutrition for yourself with herbal iced teas and natural sweeteners and turn it into a great healthy summer drink.

Here’s a sample recipe:

Apple Spiced-Peach Tea

* Apple Spice flavored tea bag
* One sliced peach
* Hot water
* Natural sweeteners (honey or agave nectar)

Boil five quarts of water. Add two apple spice tea bags and peach slices and allow tea to steep. For taste, add a natural sweetener while tea is still warm so it will mix well. Bring to room temperature; remove tea bag and chill in the refrigerator.

Try to choose decaffeinated teas in your favorite flavor. Combine them with water and sweetener alone or add your favorite fruit to permeate the tea in the pitcher.

Each of these cool healthy summer drinks has some nutritional value. You may feel like you are just getting a burst of refreshment but your daily intake of fruits, vegetables, fiber and vitamins will greatly increase as well.

Summer Nutrition Tips

June 08, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Healthy Living No Comments →

Many people search for summer nutrition tips to keep them healthy and feeling good during the warmer months. As the weather starts to warm up, your nutrition needs are going to change a little bit. When you think about summer nutrition tips you need to be sure that you eat a balanced diet, watch your caloric intake, etc. However, there are some extra things that you have to pay attention to when the temperatures outside start to rise.

Here are some summer nutrition tips to keep in mind

Tip #1 – Stay hydrated

The summer sun can drain your energy after a full day outdoors. To combat water lost through sweating it is essential to take in enough water each day. Taking in a steady supply of fluid can prevent dehydration. It’s a fact that if you are feeling thirsty you are already facing dehydration.

Tip #2- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables

Fresh foods contain a higher percentage of nutrients. They also taste better. There are a number of fruits that have a high water content. Consuming them increases your fluid intake without really trying. Vegetables that are in season during the summer contain a lot of fiber. Fiber is filling so you can manage blood sugar levels better.

Tip #3 – Eat enough protein

Protein is a building block of healthy muscle tissue. One great summer nutrition tip is to eat a little protein at each meal as this helps with that sweet craving. Find it in nuts and other plant sources if you want a break from animal protein. Another good choice is fish and seafood.

Tip #4 – Consume foods high in potassium

Most of us are deficient in this electrolyte. If you feel cramping in your legs while you are running, lack of potassium could be the culprit. Without it, you may experience confusion, fatigue, and cramping and heart problems. Begin your healthier intake of potassium today with foods like bananas, cantaloupe and green leafy vegetables.

Tip #5 – Incorporate cooler summer foods

That’s the whole reason you are reading this report. Have you ever had a cool glass of water after a hard day of physical activity? The coolness trickles down your insides like water over rocks. The same can happen when you eat meals consisting of fresh and raw foods.

Tip #6 – Eat smaller portions

Eating a large meal can put us in a “tryptophan coma.” Instead of feeling refueled you are sluggish and tired for hours. Nibbling on smaller portions throughout the day not only keeps the metabolism stoked but also keeps you feeling full. There is less chance of overeating when you are satisfied.

Summertime doesn’t just involve changing your clothing but changing the way that you fuel your body. If you want to feel recharged even in the heat, feed your body well and follow the summer nutrition tips above.

How To Organize Grocery List and Shopping

June 06, 2011 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Organization No Comments →

Here are a few suggestions on how to organize grocery lists and shopping so that you can get in and out of the store quickly and effeciently!

1. Get it on paper – When you think about how to organize grocery lists why not start with paper and pen. As you use up the last of any item, write it down on a designated list under the name of the store where you would purchase the item. This will help you find what you need right away. Have this list handy so your family can add to it as the need presents itself.

2. Be prepared- When it is time to shop for your groceries, try and limit it to one day a week. Gather up the lists and any coupons you can use. Have a designated plastic folder or envelope to hold them all, and have it with you at all times. If you should unexpectedly stop at that particular store, you can use the coupon for the items you need.

3. Get help from the kids – Enlist the help of children when you start to organize grocery lists and head out shopping. When you are shopping with older children, divide up the list and have them pick up items from the other aisles. If at all possible, leave the little ones at home. They almost always add to impulse shopping. Plus your focus then needs to be divided between the grocery shopping and making sure the kids aren’t pulling things off the shelves, or putting items you don’t wish to purchase in your cart.

4. Instruct the Baggers – Request that the Bagger pack all perishables together in the bags so you can grab them first when you return home. This also gives you the option of leaving the non-perishables to unpack at your leisure.

5. Carry the recipes with you – Carry your family’s favorite recipes with you on little index cards that have the ingredients listed. You can see what is needed on the recipe card and get the items you don’t already have. Saves unnecessary stops at the grocery store during the week for that one forgotten item!

6. Do a bit of prep work – When you get home and unpack your groceries, do some preliminary meal preparation. Cook meat and then package it into meal sized dinners. Wash all your fruit and veggies. Cut the veggies so you can just put them into the dishes you plan on making. This can be a real time saver for your meal preparation.

7. Create a meal plan. By having a meal plan for the week, along with the items needed list, you should have a quick and easy shopping adventure each and every week.

8. Think outside the box – There is also another solution for grocery shopping. There are various agencies and many supermarkets that can do it for you. If there is just not enough time in your busy schedule, using that service once in awhile, or all the time if you budget permits, might help you get caught up with your To Do list.

With the use of the tips above, you will learn how to organize grocery lists and shopping so that it is quick and painless.

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