Thursday, April 7, 2011

Calling all peanut butter fanatics!

Who doesn't love peanut butter?!?  I know I for one have eaten a half jar of peanut butter or more in one sitting.
Although I know there's nothing like dipping into the creamy jar of goodness and licking the spoon off, I can't help but keep at the back of my mind how many calories I'm eating, so that's definitely not something I do that often.  Yet I still love peanut butter and need that fix.  Luckily, there's good news!
One of my favorite things to add to shakes, bake with, etc is called PB2.  It's peanut butter in powder form, so there's MUCH fewer calories.  In fact, there's only 45 calories in 2 Tablespoons!  Granted, it's just not the same as eating true peanut butter, but if you're looking for a sweet fix or a peanut butter fix, make up something using PB2 to satisfy those cravings.  I've put it in my shakes with chocolate Isagenix meal replacement powder, baked healthy brownies with it, and even drizzle it over my apple slices for a healthy snack (see some of my earlier posts for a few recipes and ideas, and stay tuned for many more!).
You can also get chocolate flavored PB2 and both can be ordered from:
If you want to try it with the chocolate meal replacement shake (seriously yummy like a peanut butter cup!) you can order those from this site:

Can you say yum?!?  Low cal peanut butter substitute!  

Mix PB2 with this for a peanut butter cup flavored meal replacement.  Dee-lish!  

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time Management Tips

Do you feel the need to be more organized and/or more productive? Do you spend your day in a frenzy of activity and then wonder why you haven't accomplished much?  Do you know what needs to be done, but aren't sure where to start so instead you procrastinate and don't get it done?
Time management skills are important, especially these days in our fast paced, overcrowded lives.  These time management tips will help you increase your productivity and stay cool and collected.

Time Management Tips

1) Time management...  doesn't actually exist.
No matter how organized we are, there are always only 24 hours in a day. Time doesn't change. All we can actually manage is ourselves and what we do with the time that we have.
2) What are your time wasters?
Many of us fall prey to time-wasters that steal time we could be using much more productively and most of the time don't even realize we're wasting time (or maybe we do, we just don't know how to stop ourselves). What are your time-bandits? Do you spend too much time internet surfing, reading email, or making personal calls? I'm a big advocate of tracking your pennies, but I also think it's important to track your activities, at least for short time to see where you spend your time.  That way, you can form an accurate picture of what you actually do, which is the first step to effective time, er, self, management.
3) Come up with goals to manage your time.
Remember, the focus of time management is actually changing your behaviors, not changing time. A good place to start is by eliminating your personal time-wasters. For example, for one week, set a goal that you're not going to take personal phone calls while you're working or doing a task that needs to be completed.  Set specific goals to make this happen.  For instance, use a formula that states the goal with a length of time and have a specific action to accomplish it:
"I will (goal + performance measure) BY (specific actions)."
The performance measure in the goal is often a date or a length of time, but it could be any objective criteria that you can use to determine whether or not you've accomplished the specific goal that you've set.
Suppose you're goal setting because you want to lose weight. An example of a specific goal to help you meet this objective is:
"I will lose 10 pounds in two months BY running on a treadmill for half an hour six days a week."
Once you create the goal, do it.
4) Implement a time management plan.
This can really be looked at as an extension to #3. You want to change your behaviors over time to achieve the goal you've set for yourself.  So not only should you set specific goals, but you should track them over time to see whether you're accomplishing them.
5) Use time management tools.
If you're a paper person or a computer person, there are tools to help you manage your time.  Think Day-Timers, Outlook, iCal, Google Calendar, etc.  Some people find scheduling their week in advance is helpful, others do it each evening or first thing every morning.  The key is to stick to it, at least 80%.
6) Prioritize!
Every day, look at your tasks on hand and no matter how many you have on your list, prioritize them.  How many truly need to be accomplished THAT day?  Be realistic, so that when you don't carry out your entire list, you're not disappointed or overwhelmed over it.
7) Learn to delegate and/or outsource.
Are there tasks on your list that can be accomplished by someone else?  I know that especially women seem to have the "I can do it all myself' attitude.  Is there something that a spouse or significant other can help with, even if that person might need some initial training on the task?  I know sometimes it's easier just to do it ourselves, but at some point we have to put the trust in another to help out and know that it will be done right.
8) Try to stick to a routine as much as possible.
While crises will arise, you'll be much more productive if you can follow routines most of the time.  Again, try to stick to your schedule by at least 80%.
9) Set time limits for your tasks.
For instance, reading and answering email can consume your whole day if you let it, especially with the amount of chain emails and junk email we get.  Instead, set a limit of one hour a day for this task and stick to it.  I have made a habit of not forwarding chain emails, and I notice that because I don't send them, I don't really get them, nor do I get much of the junk emails anymore.
10) Be sure your systems are organized.
Are you wasting a lot of time looking for files on your computer?  Take the time to organize a file management system. Is your filing system slowing you down?  Redo it, so it's organized to the point that you can quickly lay your hands on what you need.
11) Don't waste time waiting.
From client meetings to dentist appointments, it's impossible to avoid waiting for someone or something. But you don't need to just sit there and twiddle your thumbs. Always take something to do with you, such as a report you need to read, a checkbook that needs to be balanced, or just a blank pad of paper that you can use to plan your next marketing campaign. Technology makes it easy to work wherever you are; your PDA and/or cell phone will help you stay connected.
You can be in control and accomplish what you want to accomplish - once you've come to grips with the time management myth and taken control of your time.

I was 3 weeks behind in our budget, which is SO not like me, but I managed to get it caught up on the plane.  

Almost a 3 hour plane ride came in handy to get caught up on our budget

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Who Needs Potato Chips When You Can Have Kale Chips?!?

I've had several people tell me when they want to snack they want something crunchy because it feels more satisfying and fulfilling.  There's definitely some truth to the fact that crunchiness makes us feel good.  Maybe it's because it takes longer to chew so we just feel like we're eating more when we think we shouldn't be, or maybe it's just that we subconsciously want to put some damage on our food that we often times let control us. When I used to get munchy, I grabbed those fat laden chips or high sodium crackers and went to town.  I could put down an entire bag of them without thinking twice about it!  But that was then...
Now, I find other alternatives that give me the same crunching satisfaction, but WAY fewer calories and a whole lot more nutrients!
These turned out great - tasty, crunchy, low cal, HEALTHY!
1 bunch of kale (can use 2 if you want more)
sea salt
spray oil (may use 2-3 tbsp of olive oil if not really watching calories)
1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
tear kale leaves into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
spray with oil (or pour olive oil) and mix lemon into the leaves.
sprinkle sea salt to desired taste.
pre-heat oven to 200F.
Spread leaves on a cookie sheet and bake for 1-2 hrs (depending on your oven and your desired crispness - I like mine relatively crispy) and enjoy!
Can squeeze a little jalapeƱo juice or seasoning onto it or similar for a little kick.  I sprayed one pan with canola oil with a little cracked pepper and sea salt and one with coconut oil and a little dribble of coconut crystals for a sweeter version.  Both were good, but since I was craving salt when I made these, I seemed to prefer the salty ones!
Picture of Kale Chips before cooking

I never throw anything away.  Instead, I cut up the healthy leftovers and make dog "cookies" out of them!
Picture of cut up leftovers for doggies
And here's the final product!  Yum!  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Could it be?!? A $3.99 skin product from Walgreens actually works! (For girls and guys)

Ok, I'm just going to get real in my post today...  I'm here to help people so I might as well just disclose that yes, I get breakouts as an adult.  Luckily, I have discovered a product to help with that!
A few months ago, a friend with amazing (and I mean amazing) skin told me about a product called Mint Julep Mask by Queen Helene.  As usual I was skeptical, but then she has such great skin I decided to investigate this product further.  I figured I might as well spend the $4.00 and sacrifice myself to see if it worked so I could pass on the info to everyone.  (Of course I first checked the ingredients, which gained my approval).  I didn't use it right away.  I waited until I noticed I had a breakout since she mentioned it cleared hers up.  I never used to get breakouts until somewhat recently, when my Dr. told me that the breakouts were caused by hormonal shifts as I aged (ooooh how I hate to say that!).
(Now here's the "real" part):  When I would get the breakouts before they would last forever and even scar a little, which never even happened to me as a teenager.  The last few rounds of breakouts I had though I tried the mask and I was pleasantly surprised when it worked to clear my skin within two days!  I have used it somewhat regularly these last few months and am still amazed that a $3.99 product from Walgreens nonetheless works so well.  It makes my face feel tingly and clean.  If overused, it can have a drying affect according to the reviews, so be sure not to use more than once or twice a week depending on your skin and be sure to use a really good moisturizer after you rinse it off.
I took a chance and bought and used it before I read the reviews on it.  After discovering it worked for me I looked it up online and saw that 98% of people gave it great reviews.  As with anything, there will always be people who something doesn't work for, or who are just negative about everything anyway, but for me (and I have very sensitive and already dry skin) it has been a fabulous find!  Like I mentioned, you can find it at Walgreens for $3.99 or even find it online (they have trial sizes online also).  And no worries boys, this is a great product for you too!
So go get your mint mask, throw a little on your face, relax in the tub and let it work it's magic and let the scent of mint rejuvenate and re-energize you!

A $3.99 product that really works!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Watching Calories? Measure Your Olive Oil The Easy Way!

I'm lucky to have a husband who loves to cook, even though often times when he's home we are fighting for the kitchen.  As good of a cook as he is, he is certainly not a "measurer" when it comes to ingredients.  Most of the time this isn't a big deal, except for the fact that a lot of what he cooks uses olive oil.  Now don't get me wrong, olive oil is definitely good for you... in moderation!  My husband tends to take the cap off the bottle, turn it over and let it pour out like a flowing river (keep in mind olive oil has 120 calories per Tbsp).  That's a lot of calories to not be measuring or to be unaware of!
Luckily, I found a solution that allows him to simply pour from the bottle, yet still be able to measure.  It's called the Press and Measure Olive Oil Dispenser, and it has been a remarkable addition to our essential kitchen tools.  You literally press the sides, fill to your desired serving, and pour!  Now you know exactly how many calories you are dumping into that dish.
I found these at this website:   Two of them come in an order for $19.95.  One bad thing I read when reading the reviews however, was that some of them didn't fill when the sides were pressed.  Sure enough, when mine arrived, one of the bottles didn't work.  Don't let this stop you from getting this wonderful calorie counting took - I emailed the company and they immediately sent me a new one and told me to throw away the one that didn't work.  Easy enough.  Now I have 2 that work and I can keep 2 different types of oils that may be easily measured, accounting for all of your good fat calories!

Any kitchen needs this easy way to measure and pour oil!  

A great kitchen tool, even for those not counting calories!  

Friday, April 1, 2011

Mmmmm... flavored balsamic vinegars!

I posted a quick blurb the other day on my simple salad and mentioned that it was the balsamic vinegar that made it so tasty.  Well, I'm finally getting around to posting what balsamic it was that made it so good!  I found these great little flavored balsamic vinegar samplers from Lucero Olive Oil.  3 sample flavors including Peach, Red Apple and Blueberry came in a package for $12.00.  The flavor was subtle yet delicious, making it just enough to enhance a perfectly boring salad (ok, it wasn't necessarily boring with all those veggies bursting with flavor, but the balsamic certainly helped!).
I'm thinking I'm going to try some pureed cooked chicken (small farm raised, all natural, healthy and humanely raised chicken) with some small apple chunks, a bit of the Red Apple flavored balsamic, celery chunks... and who knows what else for a chicken salad sandwich with a twist.
Lucero also carries a chocolate infused olive oil, which I haven't tried yet, but looking at some of the ideas that it can be used for, it will be in my next order!  (For instance, if you're going to use olive oil for baking, you might as well use chocolate infused oil!  Mmmmm... can't wait to try it!).
Anyway, happy salad eating! (and no, I don't get anything for directing anyone to this site.  I am just passing on info on some good stuff!)

Flavored balsamic vinegar will add that tasty twist to your boring ol salad without adding all the calories!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Keep a budget? Why?

Do you know how often I hear from people how keeping a budget is just too hard, time consuming, tedious, etc?  I hear it over and over again and trust me, there's many things I'd also rather be doing than sitting here once a week or so, organizing my receipts and inputting them into my spreadsheet to remind me how expensive life is.  But I do it, and I have for as long as I can remember (I think even since I was teenager, at least to some extent).
You see, coming from a poor childhood was difficult (which just wouldn't have been the same without food stamps, broken down cars and thrift store clothes.  After all, it made me who I am today; determined, motivated and successful) and I remember like it was yesterday the day I decided to change things to do things differently from my parents.  I remember hearing my parents fight over money time and time again.  As we all know, half (or more) of marriages end in divorce these days, and one of the biggest causes is money.
Most people probably have that proverbial credit card they use for "emergencies" or they use their credit cards for those big expenses and things that are not regular occurrences like vacations, a better car, etc.  After all, this is America where we want it and we want it now, and if we can't afford it, we borrow.  I know creating a budget is a frustrating task and staying on budget is even harder, but it really is important to stick to it. Certainly careful budgeting will improve your overall financial situation, which we all know reduces stress, but one of the best benefits is how keeping a budget can help your marriage.  Getting rid of money arguments leads to less stress on your marriage and a better life overall.
For myself, I go nuts if I'm behind on our budget by more than a few weeks, which does happen occasionally.  I don't sleep well if I don't know where our money is going.  It's too easy to overspend on a $20 item here and a $10 item there and before you know it, you're living outside your means and it's adding up faster than you can pay it off.
Once you get past the tedious task of creating the budget, force yourself to have a plan and a system in place (as much as possible) that allows you to stick to it.  Set aside a certain time each week to catch up your receipts and inputs.  Do it on paper or online, whatever you are comfortable with... just do it.  Once you get it down, you'll be happy you did. You'll rest better, be more at peace, and have a better relationship with your spouse and family.

Do you know how all of your financial pieces of pie fit together?

For the next financial post I'll give you a few tips for staying on the budget you worked so hard to create **smile**