By: Leanne Ely
I couldn’t function without my slow cooker. You all know by now how I feel about this wonderful, time-saving appliance. If you’re new to slow cooking, or even if you’re a seasoned pro, there are some safety precautions that I hope you’re taking when it comes to this highly efficient way of getting a meal on the table.
Please don’t put another meal in the slow cooker without checking over this list of 7 safety guide-lines:
1. Thaw meat and poultry before placing in the slow cooker. Frozen meats may not reach the safe zone (140 degrees) fast enough and could end up making you sick.
2. Never use the warm setting to cook food. That setting is for when your meal is already cooked, to keep it warm.
3. Preheat the slow cooker on high before you put your meat or poultry inside. This will shorten the amount of time foods spend in the danger zone, before reaching 140 degrees.
4. Don’t use the slow cooker to thaw or reheat foods.
5. While your foods are cooking, do not lift the lid. Every time you open the slow cooker, the tem-perature drops 10–15 degrees and your cooking progress will be slowed by 30 minutes.
6. Check your cooked foods with a thermometer to ensure they are cooked thoroughly. Poultry, soups, stews and sauces should be at 165, while roasts are okay at 145–160.
7. Don’t use the slow cooker to cool down cooked food. Remove food from the crock and then let it cool before placing in the refrigerator.
By: Leanne Ely
I don’t know about you, but I have a really hard time buying produce that I can easily grow myself. At my house, we eat a lot of salad. As many of you know, I serve a large green salad with almost every meal that goes on the table. All of those heads of lettuce can add up!
So, I recently started looking into some ways to grow my own lettuce indoors and I thought I would share what I’m learning with y’all.
All you need is:
• A large round pot, about 6 inches deep (or a container of some sort with roughly the same depth)
• Organic potting soil (look for the kind with perlite in it—thats those little round white balls)
• Mesclun mix seeds (or whatever lettuce you like best)
• A sunny window
You’ll need a window that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. If your lettuce doesn’t get enough sun, it will get tall and spindly and that isn’t what you want.
To grow your lettuce:
1. Fill your container to the halfway mark with soil. You can sprinkle some fertilizer on there if you want to. Moisten the soil and sprinkle a couple pinches of seeds on top. Sprinkle a little more soil over the seeds and spritz the surface with more water.
2. Water daily and keep the pot in the sun or under a grow light. The seeds should sprout up in about seven days and your first harvest should be ready in about a month.
To harvest your lettuce:
After you cut your lettuce the first time (leave the growing crowns alone!), you’ll only have to wait another two weeks for a fresh crop.
And it’s pretty much just that easy!
Fresh lettuce greens are just the best, aren’t they?
PS – The 21 Day Knock Out starts TODAY!!! I’ll sneak you in, but you gotta come right now!!
By: Leanne Ely
There is a good deal of confusion around which oils are good for cooking and which are not.
Fat is essential for human health. We need fat in our diets for hormone health, cell building, energy, and even for keeping our skin in good shape. There are certain vitamins (A, D, E and K) that require fat to help us absorb them as well.
Unfortunately, however, the average American’s diet today is high in poor quality fats, specifically, vegetable oils. Vegetable oils are relatively new to the human diet (within the past hundred years or so), and they are actually doing more harm than good in the human body. Especially when they are used in cooking.
Canola oil, corn oil and margarine are all examples of vegetable oils that increase inflammation and free radical damage in the body.
The majority of your fat intake should be coming from healthy oils like coconut and olive oil (the main two oils I personally use), and whole foods like avocados, salmon, grass fed animals, nuts and seeds.
With all the oils that look up at you from store shelves, which one should you use for what so that you get the most that you can out of those good fats?
• Coconut oil
• Olive oil
• Avocado oil
• Fish oils
• Walnut oil
• Macadamia nut oil
• Grass-fed butter
• Flax oil (but needs to be kept refrigerated and is very unstable so not recommended)
Fats to avoid
• Margarine and other artificial trans fats
• Vegetable oils
• Oils made from GMO grains
• Grape seed oil (it’s very high in Omega 6 fatty acids which we need to be consuming less of)
You want to cook with stable cooking oils like avocado oil and coconut oil.
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) should never be heated up because doing so not only destroys the benefits of the olive oil, but it can also turn that healthy oil into a damaging trans fat that will actually harm your health.
This may be the first time you’ve heard of there being a significant difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil. EVOO is what you get after the first press of the olive. The result is a rich, pungent oil, best for drizzling over salads or breads.
When the oil is pressed multiple times, you have a lighter oil that is best for cooking. The more the olives are pressed, the lighter the oil.
I wouldn’t recommend cooking with nut oils, they’re so expensive they aren’t really a reasonable option anyway. Flax is excellent for you, but I don’t recommend buying it in a liquid oil form because of how unstable it is. It goes rancid very quickly.
At the end of the day, you need to know that vegetable oil is to be avoided at all costs (margarine, canola oil, corn oil). Save those fancy nut and seed oils for salad dressings and use coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee for cooking.
Did you know you are allowed good fats on our NEW 21 Day Knockout? Check it out here!
By: Leanne Ely
While getting regular exercise and reducing the amount of stress in your life are key components to reducing the inflammation in your body, we can also add certain anti-inflammatory foods to our diet, (all the while cutting out sugar and processed food), to optimize our health.
The following seven foods are anti-inflammatory super heroes and you should eat them frequently, or at least three-four times per week:
1. Cold water fish. Cold water fish like wild salmon, cod, sardines, haddock and sole are all high in fats that have great anti-inflammatory properties. Keyword: WILD (skip the farm raised)
2. Vegetables. Surprise! Vegetables are good for you. However, most North Americans aren’t getting enough plants into their diets. You should be eating at least 8 or 9 servings of veggies every day. That means you should have vegetables with each meal. Make them bright and colorful, and leafy and green!
3. Seeds and nuts. Walnuts, sesame seeds and almonds all contain omega-3 fats that reduce inflammation.
4. Fruit and berries. Blueberries, pineapple, raspberries, cherries, strawberries and apples are all examples of fruits that may help reduce inflammation within the body.
5. Turmeric and other herbs and spices. Turmeric, ginger, garlic, basil, oregano—take your pick because all of those herbs and spices are very very high in nutrients and fight inflammation. Try chopping a bunch of herbs and combining with garlic and olive oil for an anti-inflammatory meat marinade!
6. Chocolate. Every once in a while some good chocolate is a great thing to eat. I’m talking about chocolate that’s at least 70% pure cocoa and no more than one ounce at a time. Make sure it’s organic!
7. Green Tea. Whether it’s hot or cold, green tea sort of acts like a liquid vegetable, putting up an inflammatory fight within your body. And please make sure that tea is organic.
Now that you know what foods you should eat to reduce that inflammation, here’s what you should avoid!
The top foods to avoid in order to reduce inflammation:
• Margarine and other trans fats
• White flour
• Deep fried foods
• Excessive alcohol
As you know, anti-inflammatory foods have been a hot topic lately here at Saving Dinner. That’s a big reason why we added the Autoimmune Menu, which is high in anti-inflammatory foods, to Dinner Answers! Click here to learn more
By: Leanne Ely
It’s not easy being greens. So packed with goodness and fiber, yet so many people just push them around the plate without any respect for the nutrition in their pretty green leaves.
If you want to get the nutrients you need in your system, you have to get good and comfortable with eating greens. And since today’s produce is so deficient in many vitamins and nutrients, you have to eat as many greens as you can manage.
From late March through early May, there’s a wide variety of spring greens to enjoy, including:
• baby lettuces
• dandelion greens
Salad greens are chock full of phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.
Eating spring greens provides you with many nutrients and minerals including:
• vitamins A, C, E and K
Greens can protect the body against diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Greens can help your cells repair themselves and they can help detoxify the body. Eat a wide range of greens and eat them often, but always choose organic. Lettuce and kale are both on the Dirty Dozen list because of the high amounts of pesticide residue that have been found on them. If you can’t find organic greens, choose a different green veggie.
When it comes to choosing which types of greens to use in your salads, you really can’t go wrong. Experiment with different varieties until you find one you like best. I love putting fresh dill in with my blend of spring greens. Gives them a nice fresh flavor.
And when it comes to dressings, don’t toss your money away on the store bought stuff. Simply top your greens with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. Perfect.
Dinner Answer gives you great opportunity to use greens deliciously! Click here for details!
By: Leanne Ely
Unless you have grown a fruit or vegetable yourself, in your own organic veggie patch, I would hope that you’re giving your produce a good thorough wash before eating it.
There are a couple of good reasons why you should be washing your fruits and vegetables- even organic produce.
First of all, you really don’t know where that food has been. There can be nasty little bacteria critters in the soil that grows your food, the water that is used to hydrate the plants, on the hands of the people who harvest your food, on the hands of the super market workers who put the foods out to be sold, in the grocery cart you place the foods in, on your hands when you take the foods out of their bags and so on and so forth. Ingesting this bacteria could quite possibly lead to food poisoning and nobody wants that.
Then there are the chemicals. If you’re buying foods that are not organic, you definitely need to clean them well before putting them in your mouth. And I don’t mean just giving a quick rinse under the tap. You need to give that food a seriously good scrub.
How to properly wash fruits and vegetables
The folks at the FDA suggest that running water over your fruits and veggies, and using a brush to scrub cucumbers and melons and other tougher skinned foods is all you need to do to prepare your produce. But I think we need to go a tad further than that by cleaning our produce with a simple homemade fruit and veggie wash.
All you need is a solution of water and white vinegar – equal parts – and a regular old spray bottle.
For soft skinned veggies and fruits, soak them in the solution of vinegar and water for a couple of minutes and then give them a good rinse. For hard-skinned veggies and fruits, spritz them with the solution of vinegar and water, rub that solution in with a scrub brush, and rinse.
This combo of vinegar and water works to dissolve any pesticides and/or waxy residue from the skins of your produce.
You can find commercial products that will do the same thing, but I personally like to just mix up my own fruit and veggie wash.
After you wash all that produce, choose a recipe from our new Dinner Answers and make something delicious tonight!