Winter Farmers Market

Farmers market closed? How to make the most of your grocery store’s produce aisle


(BPT) – It’s the same story every year — kids return to school, temperatures drop, summer vacation becomes a fading memory and the local farmers market closes. While you may spend winter longing for the return of 80-degree days and sunny skies, you don’t have to miss out on your favorite fruits and veggies. Many are still available in local grocery stores and some smart tricks and choices can help you eat like the farmers market is still open … all winter long.

“The seasonal nature of farmers markets doesn’t have to keep you from reaping the benefits of fresh and locally grown produce,” says registered dietitian Paul Kriegler, assistant program manager for nutrition and weight loss, Life Time – The Healthy Way of Life Company. “The average store carries more than 45,000 different foods, so it’s important to know what to buy and what to avoid.”

To eat as if the farmers market is still in session, keep these tips in mind on your next visit to the grocery store:

Plan meals and menus for the week and make your shopping list accordingly. If you stick to your list, it will help you avoid impulse purchases.

Keep kids involved. If your children loved visiting the farmers market and learning how to eat healthy, there’s no reason you can’t continue their education in the grocery store. Take them shopping with you and give them a small budget so they can pick their own produce. Encourage them to pick fruits and vegetables from every color of the rainbow.

It’s not just folklore – if you shop while hungry, you’re more likely to make poor choices. “When you’re hungry, anything looks good, and junk looks even more appealing,” Kriegler cautions. “Have a healthful snack like a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit before you shop.”

Your diet should consist of mostly fruits and vegetables, so make the produce aisle the first stop when you visit the grocery store. If you fill your cart with more produce, you’ll have less room for less healthful choices.

Shop from the outer aisles, where you’re most likely to find whole, unprocessed foods – like fresh produce. Inner aisle have more processed foods.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. As the seasons turn, new and unexpected items may appear in produce aisles. Varieties of squash begin appearing in September and staying through March, as well as turnips, rutabagas, carrots and other cool weather favorites. An online search can help you find new recipes for virtually any type of unfamiliar produce. Experimenting with new veggies and fruits can be exciting and nutritious!

Take advantage of store resources. Many grocery stores now include signage in the produce aisle that tells you where different items originated, how you might use them, flavor and nutrition — even recipes. If your grocery store offers free recipe cards beside a new vegetable, give both a try.

Whenever possible, buy organic. “I commonly hear the question, is organic really necessary,” Kriegler says. “Your first goal is to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables your family eats, but once you’re doing that it’s important to choose organic produce. It will help you avoid toxins, herbicides and pesticides in your food that could affect your metabolism and cause other health problems.”

If you must buy prepackaged and labeled foods, read the ingredient list first. If it’s full of unrecognizable or unhealthy ingredients, put it back on the shelf and look for a better alternative.

For more healthful living and nutrition information, visit

Heat your home without wasting energy

fireplaceHeat your home without wasting energy this season

(BPT) – If you’re interested in living a greener lifestyle, perhaps you’re already trying to reduce your energy usage as much as possible. Maybe you ride your bike to work, unplug your electronics when they’re not in use, use fans during warm weather and avoid wasting water.

Saving energy can get more difficult, however, when the seasons change and colder weather sets in. Heat is a primary source of energy usage. In fact, research from Tulikivi, the world’s largest manufacturer of heat-retaining fireplaces, shows that 52 percent of a home’s annual energy consumption is allocated to heat.

Now is the time to think about reducing your energy usage during the winter. Here are some ideas that will help you enjoy a warm, cozy home while saving both money and energy.

Heat more efficiently

firewoodA crackling fire makes for more than just a pleasurable experience; it can also be an energy-efficient heating source. Fireplaces from Tulikivi help heat your home long after the fire goes out. Tulikivi fireplaces are built from soapstone, which has better thermal conductivity compared to other materials because of its dense structure and mineral composition.

For homeowners, this means once you start a fire in your fireplace, the soapstone will store heat in its thermal mass, allowing a two-hour burn to radiate heat for up to 24 hours. This lets you enjoy the clean, comfortable, cost-saving warmth without using additional energy.

You can learn more about Tulikivi, the recycled materials used in its manufacturing process, the clean combustion of its masonry heaters and its commitment to sustainability at

Close the drafts

One of the best ways to improve your energy efficiency is to reduce your energy waste. Window cracks and door drafts allow warm air to escape, which means you’re leaking both energy and money.

Seal those areas by using caulk to shore up any drafty windows and put plastic wrap over the window surface to keep out the chill. For the door jambs, you can purchase a door stopper to plug the gap or you can use a towel at the base to block the opening. Try to close off the bottom of any exterior door, particularly the doors you seldom use.

Make sure your other heating options are running efficiently

When you’re not using your fireplace, it’s good to know your backup heating options are operating efficiently. Have your furnace inspected routinely and make sure you change the filter each month. You should also invest in a smart thermostat. This technology allows you to set the temperature of your home for different times of the day so you can lower it when you’re sleeping or away. The calendar option means you can program your home’s temperatures ensuring you never waste energy.

Although it’s still nice outside, colder temperatures are on their way. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your green lifestyle when you cheeks turn red. By using the tips above, you’ll still enjoy the same warmth and comfort without the additional environmental impact. To learn more about Tulikivi, visit or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Beat the Clock Beauty

Beat-the-clock beauty from head to toe

Beat-the-clock(BPT) – Let’s face it, lack of time is one of the biggest burdens in every woman’s life, especially when it hinders your grooming routine. Think about how much time it can take to get polished: 30 minute pedicure, hour long facial, 40 minute blowout, and viola! You’ve already lost more than two hours.

It’s about time (pun intended) to rethink your beauty regimen and go sans salon. The right at-home products can give you the results you want – while dodging the investment of time and money in salon trips.

Check out these beautifying at-home shortcuts to help you look and feel your best, with a lot less effort:

DIY beach waves

Who doesn’t love beach hair? Just because everyday isn’t a vacation doesn’t mean you can’t have fresh-from-the-beach salt-water hair at home. Making sea salt spray in your kitchen is easy and provides that amazing look in no time. Combine hot water (not scalding), sea salt, your favorite hair oil (like coconut or argan), leave-in conditioner and some water-based gel. Apply generously to towel-dried hair, braid loosely and let it dry. Make this mixture and save it in an old shampoo bottle, so you can use it whenever you’re in to mood for a fast, easy, and fabulous hairstyle.

Pamper your feet with an at-home pedi

At-home pedicures are a great way to pamper yourself – without having to devote time to visiting the salon.  The experience can be more than just polishing your nails, however. Smooth and renew the rough skin on your heels and toes with the new Dr. Scholl’s DreamWalk Express Pedi Foot Smoother.  This electronic hand-held device makes it easy to buff away dry, rough skin, leaving feet looking and feeling smoother. The user-friendly contoured design has no sharp blades. In addition, a nice time saver, is that you don’t need to soak your feet prior to use. Visit to learn more.

Give yourself a fresh, glowing face

Facials can take up to an hour and can be costly. If you’re looking for a simple way to get glowing skin without spending a hefty amount of time and money, try an at-home facial. Start with a gentle, natural exfoliator, like salt or oatmeal. Next, soak a washcloth in warm tap water, wring it out, drape it over your face, and let it sit for a few minutes. This helps open pores. Remove the washcloth and apply your favorite mask, following the manufacturer’s directions for application, duration and removal. After removing the mask, apply a light moisturizer. You will feel fresh, revitalized and your wallet will thank you!

Body exfoliator

Exfoliating your skin removes dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, leaving a healthy and glowing look. Lack of exfoliation can lead to dull and dry skin. You don’t need to go to an expert or even buy an expensive product to exfoliate your body. Combine one part olive oil, five parts sea salt, and a lemon together to make the perfect at-home body scrub in seconds!

Keep extra portions of the scrub in a mason jar in your bathroom and use on dry skin before rinsing off in the shower. You will feel refreshed and glowing when you step out!

Try these at-home beauty routine time-savers next time you’re in a pinch or are in need of a little extra relaxation. You deserve it!


4 Steps Greener

4 steps toward greener living

(BPT) – Living a greener lifestyle isn’t just about conserving natural resources, it’s also about saving money. Whether you’re renovating your existing home, or building from the ground up, you can create a home that’s more efficient, cost effective and “green.”


1. Insulate against air

In terms of heating and cooling, a well insulated home conserves the most energy by creating an airtight seal, locking out any potential hot or cold air drafts. To properly insulate, replace old windows and doors with more energy efficient options, such as those made by Pella, including triple-pane glass, and add extra insulation to the walls, roof and basement.

2. Make energy-efficient choices

Inefficient appliances can cause a spike in your gas, water and electric usage. For a simple change, choose LED bulbs for all your light fixtures. To conserve even more energy, opt in for high-efficiency upgrades for your larger appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes dryers, and install water conserving bathroom fixtures to help cut down your home’s overall water usage.


3. Maximize natural light

When you’re able to rely on natural light for most of the day, the cost of your electric bill decreases. If you’re renovating, think about ways you can incorporate new window openings to increase the amount of natural light your home is currently receiving. If you’re building, think about incorporating an open floor plan with lots of windows to maximize the flow of natural light from room to room.

4. Design it to last

Trends come in and out of style quickly. For the larger architectural features of your home, choose design elements that will stand the test of time — reducing the likelihood of another renovation. Leave the trendy design choices to smaller decor pieces that can easily (and inexpensively) be switched out when it’s time for a change.

For more design inspiration, visit Pella Windows and Doors on Houzz or visit to schedule an in-home consultation with a local Pella expert.

Sustainable Healthy Habits

A nutritionist’s sustainable healthy habits for the whole family

21701662(BPT) – It’s important to establish healthy eating habits for your family, but it’s not always easy to know where to start. We spoke to Rebecca Scritchfield, a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), to find out what she recommends her clients do to form healthy routines that can be maintained through even the busiest seasons.

“It’s all in the little things,” Scritchfield says. “Every day, find something that connects health with enjoyment – something that works for you.” Here are a few tips to get you and your family started:

Fill your home with enjoyable foods. Kids’ eating habits start at home, so make sure they have healthy options to choose from. I keep healthy foods like yogurt, cheese, berries, avocados, eggs and vegetables in the refrigerator, as well as frozen fruit, veggies and fish in the freezer. You can also stock up on oatmeal, granola and nuts for the pantry, and having a big bowl of fresh fruit on the countertop makes it easy for the whole family to grab and go.

Cover your nutritional bases. Despite our best intentions, we don’t always get everything we need from a healthy diet. I recommend vitafusion for adults and L’il Critters for kids – they’re gummy vitamins that taste great, so you’ll remember to take them every day.

Create colorful plates. Bring kids into the kitchen so that they learn how to build their own beautiful meal. Let them choose vibrant vegetables like carrots, beets and peppers to decorate their dinner plates, and encourage them to try new vegetables and fruits made in different ways. For young kids, you can even turn it into a fun art project, creating shapes and figures made from produce.

Set a good example. Kids learn best by watching you. Fill your own plate with fruits, vegetables and other healthy options even if they aren’t eating them as much as you wish they would. Ask the kids to express their likes and dislikes so they learn about preferences. Ask the family for more meal ideas. Everyone has a role.

Gather around the table. For the family that eats together, meals are a time to reconnect, reprioritize and reinforce healthy habits. Let them know how much you value this time together. Eating on the run or in front of the television makes it easier to overconsume without realizing it. Instead, sit together over a freshly prepared breakfast or dinner (or lunch, if you can!).

Remember that healthy living doesn’t begin and end in the kitchen. Make exercise a family affair by allowing each family member to choose a weekend activity that everyone can get involved in. It can be as simple as trying a new walking route with the dog, or as adventurous as trying a new sport like rock climbing. It’s a great way to bond and build memories associated with health and enjoyment.

“Take it one step at a time, and don’t aim for perfection,” Scritchfield says. “Do what works for you, and remember to enjoy it!”

To learn more about vitafusion and L’il Critters gummy vitamins and Rebecca Scritchfield, registered dietitian and vitafusion and L’il Critters partner, visit

Keep Cool Grapes

10 ways to keep your cool with grapes

(BPT) – This time of year, nothing tastes better on a warm day than a refreshing cool snack – like grapes. Delicious and good for you, California grapes are the perfect finger food but they can also be so much more. If you’re looking to treat your palate to new taste sensations, here are 10 recipes that will expand your horizons and your love of this delectable fruit.

1. Grapes of all varieties

Variety is the spice of life and snacking on grapes can invigorate your taste buds as well as please your palate. Available in red, green or black, there are over 80 varieties of fresh grapes grown in California, and each variety has its own unique characteristics and flavors. Indulge your senses and mix a variety of grapes together for new flavors in every handful.

2. Fresh Grape Salsa

For a fresh twist on a classic that will surprise and delight, use grapes instead of tomatoes: combine fresh grapes, cilantro, and chilies with some vinegar, onions and salt and pepper to make fresh grape salsa. Serve with chips or toasted crostini for a deceptively simple dish with an unforgettable flavor.

3. Green Grape Gazpacho

Turn old gazpacho recipes upside down with green grape gazpacho. Lettuce, cucumber, grapes and more combine to put a new twist on a traditional treat.

4. Refreshing Grape Agua Fresca

For a sweet warm weather beverage, whip up a grape agua fresca. Mix freshly made grape juice, sugar and lime juice together and you have a drink that may just dethrone lemonade as your summertime drink of choice. Add sparkling water for a bubbly spin.

5. Black Grape Sorbet

The perfect meal deserves the perfect dessert and black grape sorbet delivers. Pureed grapes, lemon zest, sugar and lemon juice blended and chilled for the perfect consistency. A frozen treat that is delicious and guilt-free! Who can say no to that?

6. Fresh Spring Rolls

If lighter fare is the meal choice of the day give this fresh spring roll recipe a try. Start with a sheet of rice paper, add fresh grapes, shrimp, shredded carrots and bean thread noodles. A dash of mint leaves and lemongrass give these rolls a unique zip.

7. Black Grape Margaritas

Black Grape Margaritas put a unique spin on cocktail hour. Tequila, sweet and sour and crushed ice come together with black grapes for added flavor. These beverages are sure to hit the spot on a hot day. Just don’t forget the salt.

8. Grape Daiquiris

If you’ve always preferred daiquiris over margaritas, there’s a drink for you as well. A grape daiquiri combines white rum, ice, lime juice and seedless grapes in an easy-to-create cocktail. Puree it all for two minutes and you have a delicious libation ready to savor.

9. Frosty Fresh Grape Pops

You can’t get these from the ice cream truck driver and that’s too bad – but they are fun to make at home. Frosty fresh grape pops are a cool treat for adults and kids alike and because they are made with fresh fruit they present a good-for-you option when compared to other desserts on a stick.

10. Frozen grapes

Sometimes the simplest treats are also the best. When you’re looking for an after-meal snack or a healthy option, try frozen grapes. Naturally delicious, each one is like a mini-sorbet on its own! Simply rinse, pat dry, then place your California grapes in a re-sealable bag and stash it in your freezer. Two hours later, you’ll have delectable frozen grapes to enjoy.

For more unique grape recipes visit

No Stress Laundry

Take the stress out of laundry with these timesaving tips

Laundry(BPT) – Laundry doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. With these effective and efficient tricks of the trade, you’ll be able to take down laundry one load at a time. While the clothes won’t fold themselves, the experts at Faultless Starch Company are sharing advice to help ensure your laundry turns out perfectly every time.

Decode the clothing label

When you have a long list of chores, it’s easy to rush through loads of laundry in order to get to the next items on the list. But, this often results in discolored, faded or damaged garments. Many of these issues can easily be avoided by reading the clothing tag and following the proper instructions. From sorting clothes by color and texture, to using the correct amount of detergent, reading the label can help keep your favorite go-to pieces looking fresh.

Prevent Fading

After you’ve read the instructions and sorted your clothes by color and fabric, prep your clothes to prevent further problems. Remember to always wash clothes inside out to preserve colors — this is especially important for dark clothes, like jeans. To keep your bright colored fabrics from fading, try tossing one cup of salt into the washing machine with your load. For whites, add one cup of white vinegar to a load during the rinse cycle. As a bonus, the vinegar acts like a natural fabric softener.

Troubleshoot tough stains

The key to successful stain removal is to fight back before it sets in. From vinegar and table salt to club soda and lemon juice, many stains can be eliminated using basic household products. No two stains are created equal, so identify what type of stain you’re dealing with first.

While coffee and tea stains require cold water and sponge treatment, pesky red wine spills require a little more effort. First, soak in enzyme pre-soak using the hottest water safe for the fabric. After laundering, if the stain still exists, try covering the spot with table salt and let it set for a few minutes. Then, rub vigorously with half a lemon and run through the laundry as you normally would. Perspiration stains should be treated as soon as possible using warm water and detergent before washing. If colors have changed, it’s possible to restore them by sponging fresh stains with ammonia or vinegar and rising with water and then launder with hot water.

Try do-it-yourself dryer balls

When drying towels or bedding, ditch the standard dryer sheets in favor of tennis balls. Using one or two tennis balls as dryer balls helps evenly circulate air in the dryer to keep fabrics soft and reducing the dry time. Plus, tennis balls are long lasting — eliminating waste and expense.

Keep your clothes looking their best

Help your outfits live up to their stylish expectations by keeping them freshly ironed. It’s not only an easy way to elevate your outfit and extend the life of your clothes, but also will help you save money when compared to taking clothes to a professional dry cleaner. Before you begin pressing, set the iron to the correct temperature. You can find this information on the tag. Whether you’re wearing shirts, slacks, skirts or dresses, make them look extra sharp by using Faultless Premium Spray Starch. Spray starch will keep clothes crisp by helping create a smooth finish and sharp creases.

For more laundry tips and tricks, visit

Nature’s Fix

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Nature’s Fix

Coconut Oil

To add moisture to dry skin try extra virgin cold press coconut oil. It’s a great way to heal dry skin without the added fillers many moisturizers contain. Apply coconut oil after your shower and you’ll have soft, smooth skin at a very affordable price. EZ!

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