Saturday, May 30, 2015

MY VEGETARIAN FAST FOOD GUIDE

Burgers.

Fries.

More burgers.

More fries.

Thankfully, there is more to fast food than this -- particularly if you don't eat meat like I do and desire something a little less artery-clogging when you order a meal on the fly.

Here, in descending order, are my top five fast food picks:


5. IT'S A TIE: I CAN'T DECIDE!

MCDONALD'S FILET-O-FISH 
390 calories; 19 grams of fat

OR

PREMIUM SOUTHWEST SALAD (w/o chicken) 
170 calories; 7 grams of fat

Okay, before I begin, please allow me to clarify a few things. First, I eat fish and am technically a pescetarian, which makes this sandwich fair game. Second, the nutrition facts for the Filet-O-Fish above are for one with tartar sauce, and I always order my Filet-O-Fish without it, which shaves a decent amount off both the calorie and fat counts. And, third, if you're thinking Hey, 19 grams of fat doesn't seem all that healthy to me, why did this make your list? Here's my reasoning: Fat is a hell of a lot less dangerous than sugar, which majorly effs with insulin levels, among other things. And secondly, when I order this sandwich -- which, again, is tartar sauce-fee -- that is my entire meal. No fries. No soda. No apple pie. Nada. This is all I'm eating. And I won't eat again for hours. As for the Southwest salad, this thing beats many of the salads I've eaten at sit-down restaurants. And the fresh lime as a garnish? Superb.



4. BURGER KING'S BK VEGGIE BURGER
320 calories; 8 grams of fat
While not as delectable as a homemade bean burger, this definitely works in a pinch. I order mine with cheese, but I pass on the mayo, which is evil. (Do you know about mayo? Google it. You'll see. And don't shoot the messenger, I love the taste of it, too. But I decided to quit it a while ago, and, honestly, I don't really miss it.)


3. TACO BELL'S 7-LAYER BURRIO
430 calories; 16 grams of fat
While there are other vegetarian burritos on Taco Bell's menu that boast less calories and less grams of fat (namely the bean burrito and black bean burrito), the 7-layer burrito remains my top choice, and I'm going to tell you why: It's damn tasty: The end. But, no, seriously, just like when I order the Filet-O-Fish, this constitutes my entire meal, and as such, I feel little if any guilt for eating something a little more substantial. Also, when I eat this burrito -- or the Filet-O-Fish -- for dinner, I make sure that that is all I eat for the evening, no snacks or anything. And if I order this for lunch, I make sure my dinner has less fat; like, say, a salad.



2. TACO BELL'S VEGGIE CANTINA POWER BOWL
460 calories; 19 grams of fat
I cannot put into words how much I love this bowl of goodness. I order both sauces/dressings on the side, which also shaves some numbers off the calorie and fat counts, too.



1. WENDY'S ASIAN CASHEW CHICKEN SALAD -- WITHOUT CHICKEN
260 calories; 5 grams of fat
Coming in at number one is this salad -- my unequivocal fast food choice, bar none. (I couldn't find a photo of this salad sans chicken, but just know that the salad is just as pretty without it.) I order the chicken on the side and give it to my husband Scott, who doesn't eat much meat, save for boneless skinless chicken breast, which remains a staple of his diet. I eat this salad with the Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette it comes with and I also add a dash of light ranch dressing. I. Love. This.


Thank you for reading!

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

WHAT TO DO WITH COFFEE GROUNDS?

Some time ago, I penned a post in which I characterized the drawers of my nightstand as a place where useless things come to die. 

And as bad as those drawers are, the ones in our kitchen nook are far worse. 

Correction: Were far worse. I recently conducted a major purge in that area of our home, and who would have thought that the act would result in a blog post? 

I found a Detroit Free Press newspaper clipping, which dates back to May 3, 2008, that details all the wonderful things one can do with leftover coffee grounds. 

Apparently, not everything I hold onto is useless junk. I'm really glad I kept this...

Uses for Leftover Coffee Grounds (and Coffee).

All year round...
Clean kitchen drains
Boil about 6 cups of water. Pour a half cup of used coffee grounds down the drain, followed by hot water.

Destroy medication
Put coffee grounds and pills in plastic bag, and pour enough water into the bag to cover them. Zip up bag and mix well. In just a short time, they will be gone.

Body scrub
In a bowl, mix 2 cups of coffee grounds, 1/2 cup raw sugar or sea salt and 2/3 tablespoons of massage oil. Rub in a circular motion on wet or damp skin in the shower.

During the summer months...
Cat and pest repellant
To help keep cats and pests from the garden area, mix coffee grounds with orange peels and spread the mixture around the outside of your garden.

Mulch
Toss your used coffee grounds onto the soil. The dark color absorbs heat from the sun. That helps the soil warm up and and adds nutrients to the soil as the grounds break down.

Instant iced coffee
When you have left over coffee that you didn't have time to finish, put it in ice cube trays and freeze. Then put the cubes a Ziplock bag. When you feel like having iced coffee or mocha, put a few cubes in the blender, pour into a glass, and enjoy!

Hair color booster
If you're a brunette who absolutely cannot make it in to see your colorist, coffee grounds may enhance your color. Rub used grounds throughout your hair in between shampooing and conditioning.

I know, I know: That last one is odd. 

But with the grays I've got sprouting through my scalp, I just may have to try it...



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Monday, May 11, 2015

TO ALL THE TEACHERS, THANK YOU

It wasn’t shaping up to be a good morning.

A late response to the alarm (followed by an even later breakfast) eventually culminated in a tardy drop-off when I kissed my son goodbye at the door of his preschool classroom.

But seconds later, I would learn that my timing was uncanny. Perfect, even.

Because if my son and I hadn’t been late that morning, I wouldn’t have witnessed the arrival of a school bus transporting special needs children just as I exited the building.

If we hadn’t been late that morning, I wouldn’t have crossed paths with the smiling, up-beat paraprofessional swathed in a thick parka and heavy wool scarf.

And if we hadn’t been late that morning, I wouldn’t have seen the way students genuinely lit up when they saw that this para was there to greet them.

What I saw that morning resonated on a deep level for a couple of reasons.

While I am a writer, yoga instructor, and stay-at-home mom now, one could say that I took the scenic route to get here: I’ve sold everything from water coolers to cosmetics as an account executive; worked as an on-air television news reporter; and served as deputy mayor of my hometown.

But my tenure as a long-term substitute teacher in a SXI classroom (while I studied to obtain my yoga teaching certification at night) was – unequivocally – the most challenging yet rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

On my first day, I knew that I wanted to be there. But, admittedly, I didn’t know much else.

However, before long, I had learned that when all else failed, SpongeBob Square Pants could always make Tiffany smile; that Darren preferred his macaroni and cheese with ketchup; and that I shouldn’t put Leah’s mittens on until the very last minute because she would always find a way to remove them and fling them across the room.

So the first reason that para struck a chord in me that day was because I know her job is anything but easy.

But I also know that her job is more than just necessary.

It is important.

The second reason was because, as a mother with a child in school, I completely identify with the inherent uncertainty that is part and parcel with separating with your child – particularly one who is very young.

But I’d bet the farm that the mothers of those students getting off the bus that day would be happy to know that when their son or daughter arrived at school, they were made to feel welcome. And they were cared for.

Isn’t that what all parents hope for when we send our kids off every morning?

The para I saw that day had no idea that I was watching her.

But I know that there are teachers, secretaries, and other staff just like her all over our district who value their responsibilities – and their students – all year long.

And I simply want to say thank you.


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Sunday, May 3, 2015

NFL BLOGGERS: Your questions answered



The 2015 NFL Draft is now in our rearview mirror.

The weather is getting a little warmer.

And the cleats, mouthguards, and pigskin are slowly being pulled out of retirement.

Ah, yes: The Spring/Summer youth football camp season is now upon us. 

But are you and your child ready? 

Let's tackle some tough yet extremely necessary topics:

First up, hydration. Take a look at the following graphic, which parents and players alike should always be mindful of:


Next: Concussion Safety -- Do you know the signs to look for? Here they are:

And finally, how can you be sure that your local youth football league is meeting the most recent health and safety standards?

Click HERE to obtain a free NFL printable, which contains thorough guidlines that every youth football parent will find helpful -- and please feel free to make copies for the football moms and football dads in your area.

As football parents, we're all in this together -- and we all want what's best for our children. If you have additional questions that perhaps are not covered in the printable above, please feel free to leave them in the comments below, and I'll be sure to respond.

Here's to a safe, healthy, and FUN start to the new season!