Monday, April 29, 2013

5 Great Reasons to Grab a Smoothie

In "For me, gluten-free is the way to be", I mentioned how I had begun drinking smoothies for breakfast. It is 3 months later and I am still drinking one smoothie a day.   Here are a few great reasons that I began drinking them.   Maybe one or two will be your reason to start.


The reason I love smoothies is that they are so darn convenient.  Mix ingredients up in a blender, put it in a cup and drink it on the go.  I bring mine all over the house as I get the kids ready for school.  I can even bring it in the car with me as I drive my son to school.  What breakfast is so healthy and convenient?  Omelets don't travel well, neither does cereal.  Toast gets crumbs everywhere. Oatmeal is sticky.  Another convenience is that you can prepare dry ingredients the night before to save even more time. And yet one more convenience factor is seasonal fruits and vegetables.  You can have different smoothies year round if you buy seasonally fresh fruits and vegetables.

P.S. Recently I saw a blender that doubles as the smoothie cup.  Once you mix all the ingredients together in the blender, it has a lid to take the smoothie to go.  No more pouring the smoothie into a separate cup.  And we all know how time is precious so why waste it pouring your smoothie into another cup.  It's all about the convenience!


How can smoothies not be nutritious with all the great fruits, vegetables, protein powders, etc. that you can put in them?  I love adding protein powder for an extra nutritional punch.   However, some of the ingredients can be quite high in calories but this is not about the calories.  It's about the nutritional impact.  Smoothies pack quite a punch.

Some very healthy ingredients that I have used are:
  • Berries
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Carrots
  • Avocado
  • Cucumber
  • Old-fashioned Oats
  • Nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt and milk

Some ingredients that I would suggest that you avoid would be:
  • Sugar-sweetened fruit juice or concentrate
  • Ice cream or sherbert
  • Fruit in a can

3)     VARIETY

You can make a smoothie out of almost any fruits or vegetables (or both), some ice (or not), some kind of liquid (or not).  On My Fertile Lifestyle's Pinterest Board, called Smoothies, I have an infographic on "How to make a smoothie."  It tells what fruits you can add, how to choose a base, how to thicken it up, what to flavor it with and suggestions for some power boosts.  With that kind of chart, who needs a recipe?


If you ever have a fruit or a vegetable that is overripe, don't throw it away.  Freeze it.  My sister taught me this one with an overripe cantaloupe.  She cut it into chunks and I used it in one of my very first smoothies.  At the moment, I have several different, overripe fruits in my freezer, waiting to be used for my next homemade fruit smoothie.  That's my fertile lifestyle!


Smoothies have become quite popular in recent years.  If you don't feel like making one, you can always buy one from places like Jamba Juice, Robeks, and Red Mango, just to name a few.  So there is no excuse not to pick up a smoothie when you feel the urge.

So, if you have ever wondered why the buzz about smoothies, these are some of my reasons for drinking one every day.  I'd love to hear from you, especially if you are a smoothie fanatic like me.

Friday, April 26, 2013

How to paint rocks!

My daughter loves art.  At around age 3, she began collecting rocks and painting on them.  This blogger painted the rocks as garden markers. I thought it was a great way to re-use so that we are not buying something new.  I hope that we plant some vegetables this year so we can use this idea.  My daughter will love it.  If not, we'll save it for next.  Enjoy this article.  There are some great pictures with it.  Read on!  WhiMSy love: Rock On!

Monday, April 22, 2013

It's Earth Day: What will you do?

Happy Earth Day!  I thought I would reach out to you and find out if you had any ideas as to what you can do to keep the planet healthy.  Let me tell you what I did last year.

At this time last year, I decided to stop using paper towels and napkins.  I thought it would be a great way to save a lot of trees.  Don't get me wrong, I still have some in the house.  They are great for soaking up oil from fried foods or bacon that I have baked.  I use napkins in the kids' lunch boxes. However, the paper towel roll is kept on a lower shelf, off the counter, behind a closed door, so that I don't know it is there.  In its place, I use bar mops for clean-ups in the kitchen.  I purchased them at Home Goods along with cloth napkins.  As the bar mops get old, I use them as rags to clean other parts of the house, i.e., bathroom, living room, etc.  As I move them to this pile of rags, I put a black "X" on the tag so I don't mix them up with the kitchen bar mops.  And something I didn't realize I would be saving, when I decided to make the switch to cloth, was money!  In this past year, I have bought one mega-roll of paper towels from BJ's Wholesale Club.  The previous year, I was buying one a month.  I don't have to do the math to know that I saved money.  Some people think that it is inconvenient to use the bar mops and cloth napkins.  At the end of the day, I throw them into the laundry for cleaning.  What could be easier?

This year, I will try to use less plastic.  I'll have to change out my storage containers in the kitchen to glass and stainless steel containers.  I'll have to stop buying water in plastic bottles and make sure that I always have my water bottle with me.  When shopping, there will be zero tolerance for plastic bags.  In the past there have been times when I have forgotten to bring my shopping bags with me.  Now, there is no excuse. I am on a mission to rid my life of plastic and keep the planet healthy.  It's one part of my fertile lifestyle.

Feel free to keep me posted as to what you are doing for Earth Day.  I'd love to hear from you.

If you want to learn more about how to help save forests, check out the National Resources Defense Council's article: A Shopper's Guide to Home Tissue Products.  It will tell you which facial tissues, toilet papers, paper towels and napkins are the most environmentally friendly.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Okra: Failure with the vegetable that's a fruit

This week on My Fertile Lifestyle's Facebook page, I asked everyone to try a new vegetable.  I said I would try one too.  While shopping at my local Whole Foods, I bought okra.  I had heard of it but had never even seen one before.  If you're like me and don’t know what it looks like, here it is:

For fun, I did a little research about okra.  I was hoping that, with some information, I would be able to “sell” it to my kids, mostly my daughter.  Did you know that in some countries it is called lady’s finger, bhindi or gumbo?   I can sell lady’s fingers.   It is grown in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate climates around the world.   Okra has health benefits such as high fiber, vitamin C and folate content.  It is also known for being high in antioxidants, calcium and potassium.  I am all for anti-oxidants! What's not to love about okra, I thought.

There are several different ways okra can be cooked.  A word of caution: the seed pods turn into goo or slime when cooked.   In Malawi, it is actually cooked with sodium bicarbonate to make it more slimy.  There is no way that my kids are eating slime.   Okra has also been used in gumbos, stews and soups.  It's quite popular in the southern part of the United States where it is usually served fried. Another way to cook okra is to stir-fry it.  My kids like stir-fry so I set off to find a recipe on Pinterest.  The one I found was an okra stir-fry with sweet potatoes.  If my kids didn't like the okra, at least, they would eat the sweet potatoes.

After telling my kids that I was writing this article to encourage people to try new vegetables, I began to cook.  My daughter helped me cut the okra.  She said that the seeds looked like tiny pearls.  They did! (Those "tiny pearls" make it a fruit.)   After everything was cut up, I began to cook the sweet potatoes.  I added the seasonings and then finally, the okra.  Well, that's when the recipe started going awry.  The okra got slimy.  There was no way they were going to eat it and quite frankly, I didn't like the looks of it either.   We had chicken and rice that night.  

Apparently, this is one fruit/vegetable that should be handled by an expert and not an amateur, like me. I will wait until my local farm, Sport Hill, opens up again.  Our farmer always has something new that I have never heard of.  I will make another attempt at trying a new vegetable soon.  If anyone wants to cook okra for me, I am open to trying it.  Did you try a new vegetable this week?  I'd love to hear about it.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

A contemplative walk

Today as I waited with my daughter at the bus stop, I realized what a beautiful day it was going to be. So I thought, "What a great day for a run."  After she left, I went inside, changed into my running clothes and took my son to school.  However, when I got home, my body told me, "Take a walk instead."  I am glad that I listened.  For me, running today would have been a metaphor for my life, always on the go. By slowing down, I was able to enjoy what was around me.  I heard birds chirping, saw them finding worms (and there were a lot of them after the rain last night) and then flying away with their meals. Flowers were just starting to bloom after a winter that dragged on and on.

As I type this post, I feel thoughtful and contemplative.  I know there is a lot to do today but for once, I am not in a rush to do it.  I know that it will get done when it gets done.  My to-do list is a mile long, as everyone's list is.  It will still be there later, tomorrow, next week and forever.  To me, the lesson I was reminded about was that I should listen to my body more.  I am so grateful right now that I did.  Once in awhile, ask yourself, "Do I listen to my body?"  When you do, I hope that you will be as grateful as I was this morning.

A recent New York Times article discusses a study which supports what I learned on my walk.  It's called "Easing Brain Fatigue with a Walk in the Park."