Black Thriday!

ThridayMy last post was a push for clipping coupons and saving money!  Disclaimer: this in no way changes that!  But as with many things, everything in moderation.

I started shopping on black Friday shopping 9 years ago.  This was back when stores opened at 5am and you were in the car by 3:30am to go stand in line.  There was time to start at Target, swing by Kohls and Wal-Mart and be home by noon for leftovers!

This year, stores are opening at 5pm on Thanksgiving night, the sales run through the night and all day Friday, with different sales at different time intervals to help keep you in their store the whole time.  On the one day we set aside to give thanks for our friends and family, we let it take us away from our family.

I’ve heard that the employees are well compensated for working these days and even sign-up to work them, but it still doesn’t sound like a fair trade-off.

So let’s keep Black Friday, but let’s keep it reasonable!  I will be shopping early Friday morning and I hope you will join me!  Let’s give Thursday back to Giving Thanks and sharing it with our loved ones!  Whatever you decide, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, from our home to yours!  May it be full of love and laughter!

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How to “Coupon” at your comfort level

Coupon

I have and will always be a fan of saving a dollar, but when the Holidays come around it becomes a mission!  It sounds normal, because of Black Friday Sales, Pre-Sales, Post Sales and Cyber Monday, but I even begin picking up the Sunday paper to clip those grocery coupons!  It becomes a sport and it takes some time to re-condition my brain to think like a coupon-er!

Thankfully, there are those that spend the entire year finding these deals and make it totally possible to pick-up where I left off! (Shout-out to the Krazy Coupon Ladies!)

For those of you, who like me are just getting back into it, here is the must know information!

Tip 1:  Find your level of commitment.

Are you going to hit every local grocery store and Pharmacy to find the best deals or do you want the best deals for you at your top 3 most frequented spots?  The first option requires a lot of time, organization and a hefty coupon binder.  It is also the option that forgoes product preference in exchange for an amazing deal on something you wouldn’t typically purchase.  The second option will be less time consuming and ensure that you are only buying what you and your family need and use, but may not result in quite as many deals.  This allows allows for a much smaller coupon binder.

The good news is that both options are great money savers, but with different trade-offs to fit your lifestyle.  Having done both, I can honestly say that if your commitment is not dependent on your available time and the needs of your life-style, it will not last!

Tip 2: Get Organized.

Your commitment level will determine how you should organize your binder.  I went from a fully stocked, save every coupon binder to a mini accordion filing system.  I did this for two reasons. 1) I started clipping coupons ONLY for things that I use in my every day to day, so I no longer needed a huge notebook.  2) It fits in my purse, so I always have it on hand in the grocery store and at retail stores.  How many times have you been shopping at Kohls (or any other retailer) and realized that there is a $5 off coupon sitting on your dining room table?  Not anymore, it’s “in the bag”!

For more info on a “save every coupon” storage system, see this awesome video: youtube.com/watch?v=iEMHpYp5nBM

Tip 3: Download your apps.

So far, the most useful apps I have found are:

And a few rebate apps I’m just getting the hang of:

NOTE: Check your rebates on your desktop computer before you go for a larger viewing experience.  The app will be there with you if you think of something on the go!

Good luck, Happy Holidays and Many Merry Savings!

Mmmmmm……Almond Milk!

I recently invested in bulk Almonds in an attempt to use fresh, raw & unpasteurized ingredients. Today, I broke into my big bag of nuts and made a tasty batch of homemade almond milk! An amazing choice, it was like a liquid snack! Click here for the recipe!

Meg’s Mod:
After straining the pulp, I poured the almond milk back to the vitamix and added 3 pitted dates for a little sweetness, then into the mason jar…and an immediate glass for me!! 🙂

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Super Easy Butternut Squash Soup (GF)

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We are a very busy household, so  a lot of our recipes have to be quick and last a few days in the fridge as an easy grab-n-go option!  A two person household is not an excuse to cut a recipe for four in half….. it’s a phenomenal way to save on cooking time and stretch your budget!  Does that mean I’ll be doubling recipes when those children finally come along….. most likely, but only if my personal chef is on vacation and our nanny couldn’t make the trip to the Hamptons with us for the summer!  Hey, a girl can dream! =)

This recipe is Dairy Free and Gluten Free (check your broth, I use Trader Joe’s GF Broth)!

Here are the ingredients:

1lb Cubed Butternut Squash
3-4 Cauliflower Florets
3 Cups low sodium Chicken Broth
3 Tbsp McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple Seasoning (I find this at Costco)

Optional: Dash of Sea Salt

Combine all the ingredients in the crockpot and cook on low for 3-4 hours (or for 30 minutes on low-medium heat on the stove, covered).  When done, the squash should be tender.  Transfer contents into a blender and blend until smooth.  The cauliflower will help give it a creaminess without adding cream!  NOTE: You may need to blend in batches since the hot soup may expand a bit in the blending process.  If you question your ability to pour from pot to blender, use a ladle to scoop from one to the other.

The squash can be pre-cubed and bagged OR for a cheaper option: peel & cube a whole one yourself. There are seeds and pulp inside, so don’t forget to scoop that out. NOTE: Whole Butternut Squash is very firm. You will need a capable knife and some muscle strength!

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You can either store it in a large bowl or divide it up into 1 cup servings in small containers for a fresh cup of soup to-go!

ENJOY with us!

See the health benefits of butternut squash here!

AMAZING Zucchini Hummus

Megan the Detoxinista has done it again! Her Zucchini Hummus dip is nothing short of the title… AMAZING! Cutting out the calories in the Garbonzo beans makes this hummus even healthier! This recipe is raw, vegan and can be made Gluten Free is you use the right tahini paste (or make your own).

Raw Bean-Free Hummus
makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup diced zucchini
1/3 cup raw tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin

Optional: Chia Seeds

Blend all ingredients until smooth and serve with your favorite veggies.

When I was done blending, it was a little runny so I added 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds. Excellent decision!! It thickened up the dip, just enough! Now bring on the carrots, celery and cauliflower…. I’m goin’ in….. join me!

ENJOY!

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How to store your veggies

There are many different ways to store your greens and no one way works for everyone.  My way is what I call, The Quick Use Way!  These are things I will be using in recipes daily or are scraps to use in other dishes.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, we’ll start there and save you some reading!

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All of my “leftovers” go in a glass pyrex container with a secure lid.  If you do any smoothie making, this is a great opportunity to save fruit and veggie parts that you would otherwise discard from a vegetable platter.

*Tip: If you buy veggies to snack on, pre-chop them as soon as you get home for easy grabbing.

I have our pre-chopped celery in another container filled with water so they last longer (this one does not need a lid).  Then the tops and bottoms go into the leftover container for easy-grab smoothie use and Voila!  No waste!

Storing Herbs: One of my favorite gals, Elizabeth Rider, shows you how to store your stemmed greens like herbs and scallions in this great video.

It really is that simple!  Have fun!

My favorite Green Smoothie

In the interest of health and happiness, I have decided to share my favorite green smoothie recipe with you!  What makes it a favorite?  I seem to want it everyday and it never gets old!  That’s saying a lot, cause I usually like to mix it up (pardon the pun)!!

I use my trusty vitamin, but I’m pretty sure that this could be done in any blender, bullet, etc. option, but you may need to chop everything a bit more. I try to keep everything organic, but depending on your schedule and store options, I say do the best you can!

2 celery stalks, cut in half
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1 Green Apple, Chopped
1 Full Cup Chopped Kale
1/2 Cup Frozen Peaches (or mango)
1 tbsp Chia Seeds
3/4 Cup Water

Optional: 1/4 Banana for a sweeter taste (but trust me, you don’t need more than that)

It should be a vibrant green, which I find is easier to consume that a dark green thing…… The Chia seeds are a great source of Omega-3 and provides these additional benefits.  See why the people at Dr. Oz recommend adding Chia Seeds to a healthy diet.

To make sure that this recipe is gluten free, make sure that your Chia Seeds are not processed in a facility with wheat.  I used Bob’s Red Mill, which is NOT gluten free.  Be sure to read your labels & ENJOY!

Favorite Green Smoothie