Stuff I Love Feed

Motivation Monday: Decluttering is my most favorite thing ever!

My mom is downsizing to a condo, so she's having to go through 40 years of house stuff. She came over Saturday with some crumbly bits of newspaper clippings that used to be my grandmother's wedding announcement, and after we attempted to piece it together we got to talking about clutter.

My sister and I are very different when it comes tidyness. I tend to be kind of obsessive about it and she's, well, not. My mom's in the middle.

I honestly don't know how I became so fanatical about clutter but I think it had to do with my mom flinging my astronaut watch up the stairs and it breaking when it landed against a wall. I think at that young age I swore no one would ever complain about me leaving a mess anywhere.

(The "Easter egg incident" with my sister could also have been another seminal moment. My sister had a lovely decorated Easter egg that she squirreled away in a dresser drawer. Did I mention it was a real hard-boiled egg? After a week or so they don't smell too good.)

I even decluttered my blog last week!

Anyhizzle...

I'm not 24/7 super tidy, but over the years two things have really helped reboot my decluttering. One was FlyLady's daily emails. Way back when I signed up for those, FlyLady was just a Yahoo discussion group. She now has a website, an app, books, journals, a YouTube channel and a bunch more stuff. Check out her website and sign up for the emails. They give you a simple plan of action every day so that you can tackle one house zone at a time.

Another tool in my declutter box are the resources from Peter Walsh. I first read Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? and it really resonated with me. In it he refers to clutter as "the fat in our homes." (Conversely, FlyLady (Marla Cilley) wrote a book called Body Clutter, which addresses the flip side of that.) Check out Peter's website for his books, videos and newsletter.

I also subscribe to the Houzz newsletter, which I first signed up for when I was in search of kitchen remodeling inspiration. I still love our new kitchen, which celebrated its first birthday this summer, but Houzz is still fun for interior design eye candy and great articles like the one on decluttering, below.

 


Stuff I Love: Fancy livin' for less at ALDI

This is a sponsored post for ALDI.

Spongebob fancy living
When I think 'fancy living' my mind always goes to SpongeBob Squarepants.


At long last an ALDI has opened in Plantation. That hasn't stopped me from driving all over the county to shop at one -- I'd either go up north to Tamarac or down south to Cooper City or Pembroke Pines to take advantage of the deals.

For years I had heard about the stores and even met with representatives at FitBloggin' and BlogHer Food conferences, so the urge to drive a half hour to grocery shop was strong, since I knew that the company prides itself on a great selection of items. 

But now, finally, there's an ALDI on 12190 W. Sunrise Blvd. -- just east of the Sawgrass Mills shopping area. It seems to be a really good-sized store (the former site of a CompUSA), and there's plenty of parking. FYI; The bigger the ALDI, the wider the food selection.

Yes, ALDI is a no-frills bargain outlet, but what it lacks in fancy store displays it more than makes up for with surprisingly diverse and better-for-you products. You can check out the Healthy Living section on the ALDI website that highlights its fresh produce and meats, ever-expanding SimplyNature natural and/or organics line, LiveGfree gluten-free products, and sustainable seafood.

The store is great for inspiring dinner ideas -- grab a jar of their Priano pesto and spread a teaspoon of it on a chicken breast before baking it. Super simple and really tasty. And, oh my gosh, get the rosso pesto, too. It's pesto with sun-dried tomatoes and it's mind-blowing.

I like the fact that, aside from my favorite products, I'll also be surprised with items, like the bottle of Tajin seasoning ($2.39) I picked up because I spied a lime on the label. Tajin is one of those name-brand items that you'll find from time to time. The teenager loves that I found Cheez-It Grooves ($2.49) there this week, and I also found PB Crave cookie dough-flavored peanut butter ($4.99).

Aldi haul
Here's part of my Labor Day haul.


There are loads of products in each section but I wanted to highlight a few that I really love and buy again and again.

LiveGfree cornbread mix: I always have at least two boxes of this in my pantry. A fresh batch of cornbread is great to serve with my chicken chili, and I like to mix things up by adding a half cup of corn kernels to the cornbread batter. I also sometimes sub out the oil and use plain Greek yogurt to make a slightly lighter loaf. And the fact that the cornbread is gluten free is a big plus. I don't have celiac or anything serious but my doc said I was probably gluten sensitive and I feel a lot better when I keep it to a minimum. ($2.99)

Southern Grove Oven-Roasted Almonds: I hit up the ALDI first thing Labor Day morning, and since it wasn't super busy, an employee and I were perusing the almond section, wondering what the difference was between the roasted almonds and the oven-roasted almonds. Turns out the roasted ones contain peanut oil, which I avoid because my son has a peanut allergy. The oven-roasted almonds are simply almonds and salt, and those are the ones that I got, along with SimplyNature organic almonds, which are unsalted. ($5.79/Southern Grove; $6.49 SimplyNature)

Deutsche Kuche German Style Sauerkraut: I am seriously in love with this sauerkraut. ALDI is a German company, so it makes sense that they'd have some stellar kraut. Of course it's great on hot dogs and brats but I just attack the jar with a fork to get my fix of probiotics. (Yes, lowly sauerkraut is a superfood.) ($1.69)

SimplyNature freeze-dried fruit: This is a fairly new addition, and I am love the freeze-dried peaches, apples and strawberries. You can eat the entire bag for 100 to 130 calories, depending on the fruit. The apples still have their skins intact and it's a nice combination of green and red crunchy apple slices. It's a perfect lunchbox addition. ($2.99)

SimplyNature Organic Macaroni and Cheese: If you're going to make boxed mac and cheese, why not make it organic? My teenage boy loves this stuff and usually downs half the box in a sitting. I'll make a box, add a can of tuna and a cup of peas and -- voila! -- it's instant tuna noodle casserole. a super easy dinner. Another way to add extra protein is to sub out the milk and butter and use an equal amount of plain Greek yogurt. It adds extra tang to the cheese. It also comes in the slightly more elegant Shells & White Cheddar. ($1.29)

Aldi fancy stuff
Certain items have limited availability, so if you like them, snap them up while you can. I found some great German-style rye bread ($1.99, 2-year-aged English Cheddar ($3.49) and English cucumbers ($1.19) , which, come to think of it, would make a lovely fancy tea sandwich. They also had those teeny, thin haricot vert ($2.19) -- green beans to you non French speakers.

... oh, who am I kidding? I got a D in college French and all I retained is haricot vert.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Barissimo Fair Trade Certified dark roast coffee, which sells for the tiny price of $3.99 for a 12-ounce bag. That's about half what you'd pay for Fair Trade coffee, and it's great.

Oh! Those Asiago Cheese Crisps ($2.99) in the photo? They're FABULOUS, and if you're a fan of Panera Bread's Romaine and Kale Caesar Salad, these are just like those cheese "croutons" that top the salad.

Speaking of salad, ALDI ran a cheeky little ad, inviting a bunch of foodies to a dinner where they were served a lovely multi-course dinner and they had to guess which items came from ALDI (spoiler alert: they all did). Anyway, the kale salad prepared by Bon Appétit executive chef Mary Nolan looked especially delish, so here's the recipe, which would make a great entree salad:

Kale Salad with Lemon Yogurt Dressing, Marcona Almonds, Avocado and Dried Cranberries

  • ½ cup Friendly Farms Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons Carlini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons SimplyNature Organic Wildflower Honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon Stonemill Essentials Iodized Table Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground Stonemill Essentials Peppercorn Grinder
  • 16 cups SimplyNature Organic Kale
  • ½ cup Southern Grove Dried Cranberries
  • 2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces, divided
  • ½ cup roughly chopped Marcona almonds, divided

In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, lemon zest, salt and pepper until smooth.

Toss dressing with kale and thoroughly mix, massaging into leaves. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Toss in dried cranberries, half of the avocado and ¼ cup almonds. Mound into a large serving bowl and top with remaining avocado and ¼ cup almonds.

Recipe courtesy of executive chef Mary Nolan, Bon Appétit

* * * 

I really hope I've given you a different look at ALDI because the store has really been upping the healthfulness of its products, moving toward 100 percent cage-free eggs, taking junk food out of checkout lanes, expanding its gluten-free and organics and removing synthetic colors, MSG and other artificial ingredients from its own lines. 

You can find out more at Facebook.com/ALDIUSA, Instagram.com/ALDIUSA, and Twitter.com/ALDIUSA.


Stuff I Love: Have you seen the db2 dumbbell? It's awesome

I'm now post-cataract surgery on both eyes (20/20 vision, y'all!) and able once again to workout and lift heavy things. We're also in the middle of a kitchen remodel, so getting to the gym can be tricky when people are coming in and out of the house every weekday. 

Aside from sweeping and vacuuming mountains of plaster dust and whatnot from the other rooms of the house, I've been sneaking in some workouts when and where I can. This morning it was an upper-body routine with my awesome new db2 dumbbell, which I found on Amazon. 

Here's the cool thing -- I found it because Amazon has it on sale right now for Mother's Day. Usually it's $26, but it's $14.99 for the moment, and I don't know how long that sale is going to be going on so GET THIS THING -- IT'S AWESOME.

It's like an inside-0ut dumbbell -- instead of the weight being on the ends, it's in the center, so it's like a hybrid of a dumbbell and a kettlebell.

This morning, while babysitting the dog, who is stuck in his crate so as not to annoy the workers, I grabbed the db2 and alternated bicep curls with overhead tricep curls. Then I did front arm raises and finally wood choppers. I'll probably throw in some Russian twists after I'm done with this and find some more exercises to do with the video below:

 I bought the 8-pound db2 but it comes in a bunch of sizes -- it's just that the 8-pounder is on sale right now. 

(I love that Amazon featured a hand weight for its Mother's Day sale.)


Stuff I Love: The bargains at Swanson Health Products

I was given a store credit to try out the products at Swanson. No other compensation was given for this post.

I've been meaning to write about Swanson for ages, but I've been crazy busy with the holidays, the kid's school stuff and the office redo.

{Exhale.}

But all that's behind me now (sorta -- there's another band function tonight!), and I can get back to some semblance of normalcy. 

Swanson contacted me at the end of 2015 and I was intrigued because 1.) I love shopping online 2.) I love healthy products, and 3.) I love bargains. 

SWF074I had heard of Swanson but thought it was only online vitamins. Boy, was I wrong! The site has expanded to include food and beverage products as well as supplements. And the prices are fantastic.

I figured I'd mention them today because if you hurry, you can get an extra 25 percent off all Swanson-branded products. The site also sells name-brand items. I bought some Swanson organic raw cacao nibs, which are great blended into smoothies or sprinkled on top of fruit and Greek yogurt. Right now you can buy an 8-ounce bag for $5.99, which is a crazy good price.


SWF101I also bought a bottle of Swanson's organic tart cherry juice concentrate. If you've never tried tart cherry juice, DO IT. A tablespoon mixed into 8 ounces of sparkling water makes a delish alternative to soda, and tart cherry juice is great for melatonin production as well as post-workout aches. The 16-ounce bottle is $9.99, which is great, because I usually pay around $15 for that sized bottle at other stores.

And if you wind up with a big ol' shopping cart of stuff like I did, you get free shipping with orders of $50 and up. Shipping is quick and they do a good job of packaging the food so it doesn't clank around in the box.

Also, the freeze-dried tart cherries are fantastic, as is, frankly, everything else I bought.

I've tried other online natural food retailers but couldn't get behind the membership fees. Swanson just has great prices all the time.

 

 

 


Stuff I Love: Soybu activewear (a giveaway!)

Soybu sent me an outfit to review and is also offering a piece of clothing to one lucky reader.

I pretty much live in workout clothes, so I'm always in search of activewear that's cute, comfortable and performs well. I used to workout in a uniform of baggy T-shirts over black capris but a few years ago I realized that 1.) The baggy T-shirts get in the way of working out 2.) It doesn't look good. So I stepped up my style game at the gym.

I had heard of Soybu activewear but hadn't had a chance to try it out until I got back from this year's FitBloggin' in Denver. As a speaker at the conference I was given a pair of Soybu leggings, which I immediately fell in love with. Super comfy and great looking. 

After the conference Soybu contacted me to do a review/giveaway and I jumped at the chance. Here's what I chose:

Soybu outfit

That's the Alyse Hoody in Vermillion burnout, the Lola Tank in Ethereal Blue and the Allegro Capri in the Mandala print. The hoody is great for warmer climates because it's super lightweight so it gives you a great layering piece. The tank is versatile in that one side is a rounded neck and the other is a V-neck so you can flip it around. And the capris are WONDERFUL. You can't see in the photo but the bottom of the leg opening is shirred, which gives it even more style. I love the pattern, and there's a little pocket in the front to slip my iPod in. 

The fabric on all three pieces is super soft and stretchy. I did a Pilates workout after I snapped this photo and there was no digging or riding up or down. Just bliss. 

Another great thing about the Soybu line is its extensive size range -- extra small to 3X, which is a welcome change for many activewear companies. All my pieces are the 1X size, and while the arms on the hoody are a little snug the tank runs a little big and the capris are absolutely perfect.

Soybu giveaway

Now, here's the cool part -- I get to give away one of these pieces! (Don't worry, you'll get a new piece in your size.) 

Just follow the Rafflecopter instructions and you're all set!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Stuff I Love: Flapjacked protein pancake and baking mix

Carrot pumpkin flapjacked waffles
Do your waffles have 20 grams of protein? Hmmf. Didn't think so.


I thought I'd kick off a new category today -- Stuff I Love. Most of the time it'll be things that are regulars in my kitchen, gym bag or closet. Sometimes they may be sponsored posts but I'll make sure to label those. This week is not sponsored because I've been buying the stuff for quite awhile now. 

I'm sure you've seen plenty of recipes for protein pancakes. Many are simply things like egg whites, mashed bananas and protein powder, and many are (sorry!) pretty gross.

FlapjackedI first discovered Flapjacked protein pancake and baking mix on a smoothie run at Smoothie King. They sold the 12-ounce bags at the store but I figured I'd Google around and find the best deal on it, which I actually found at the Flapjacked website (they have great sales). Amazon also has really good prices, too, if you do a Subscribe & Save deal. (Pro tip: You can schedule those subscriptions as far apart as every 6 months, so it really does pay to sign up.)

Instead of dipping my toe in the Flapjacked pool, I jumped in head first by buying a sampler pack of all the flavors -- Cinnamon Apple, Buttermilk, Banana Hazelnut, and the newest, Carrot Spice. I started out simply making pancakes but quickly found that you can make a lot more great baked goods with the mix, including waffles, muffins and quick breads.

The line has recently been reformulated and now every flavor has 20 grams of protein per 200-calorie serving. You also get 5 grams of fiber. The mixes are low in sugar, non-GMO and wheat free. 

Still working off my dozen cans of pumpkin that I bought at a Whole Foods moving sale, I added some to the Pumpkin Spice mix and came up with some fantastic waffles.

Carrot-Pumpkin Protein Waffles

  • 1 cup Carrot Spice Flapjacked pancake mix
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons currants or raisins

Mix everything together (mixture will be pretty thick) and let it thicken even more while your waffle iron heats up. I cooked the waffles just a touch longer than regular waffles because they're really substantial.

Makes 2 servings of 2 waffles each.