ECW Tip: The Freezer is Your Friend

Freezer

Save money and time by freezing leftovers and excess food. For instance, if you load up on produce at the grocery store or farmers’ market, freezing the surplus immediately is the best way to preserve nutrients. Plus these fruits and veggies will make great additions to your smoothies and stews. You can also freeze cheeses (hard grating cheeses like cheddar thaw best), milk (to bake with), egg whites, tomato-based products (like homemade pasta sauce), broths, wine (for future cooking, not drinking), herbs, and healthy greens like kale (blanching first helps preserve quality). In addition, you can actually cook meals in bulk and freeze for days when you’re working late or running around carpooling kids from activity to activity.

Here’s a great family favorite recipe to get you started:

Vegetable Calzones

Makes 8 Servings (4 whole calzones)

  • 1 portion raw whole wheat pizza dough (I like to buy at Whole Foods.)
  • 1 sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 red bell pepper, quartered
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, quartered
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 pound Italian turkey sausage links
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup plus 8 tablespoons pizza sauce (or an organic marinara sauce), divided
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  1. Remove pizza dough from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
  2. Prepare grill to medium-high heat.
  3. Coat onion slices and bell pepper pieces with cooking spray. Place vegetables and sausages on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill vegetables 4 minutes on each side or until browned; grill sausages 8 minutes or until done, turning occasionally to brown on all sides. Remove vegetables and sausages from grill; cool slightly. Cut onion slices in half; cut bell pepper pieces into 1/2-inch strips. Cut sausages diagonally into thin slices.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  5. Place dough on a lightly floured surface; divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 9 x 5-inch rectangle. Spread 1/4 cup pizza sauce evenly over each rectangle, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Arrange sausage evenly over half of each rectangle; top evenly with onion and bell peppers. Sprinkle each calzone with 1/4 cup cheese. Fold other half of dough over filling; press edges together with a fork to seal.
  6. If eating immediately: place calzones on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat calzones with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut in half and top each half with 1 Tablespoon pizza sauce.
  7. If freezing: Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Wrap cooled calzones individually in foil and seal in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag. Freeze up to 2 months. To Reheat: Bake calzones, unwrapped, at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cut in half and top each half with 1 Tablespoon pizza sauce.

 

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When to Buy Organic?!!

G and veggies

Eating a diet focused on fruits and vegetables is the best way to stay healthy (not to mention ROCK those skinny jeans). But the pesticides used on many crops remain a major health concern as they disrupt the normal functioning of the nervous and hormone systems, as well as increase risks of cancer. Therefore, by choosing organic and locally-grown produce, you can take advantage of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables without exposing yourself, your family and your pup to potentially harmful chemicals.

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) updates their Shopper’s Guide to present the newest “Dirty Dozen Plus” list – produce that contains the highest pesticide residues, as well as the “Clean Fifteen” list – produce least likely to hold pesticide residues. This can also help you save money because it highlights which foods you should buy organically.

Here are the updated lists:

The Dirty Dozen:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Snap Peas (Imported)
  • Potatoes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Kale
  • Collard Greens

The Clean Fifteen:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas frozen
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangos
  • Papayas
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower

 

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Rockstar Doggy Momma: Mindy Poortinga

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Mindy is not only a total Rockstar Doggy Momma, but she’s a culinary genius! Mindy developed the food delivery company Vegan Meals by Mindy which caters to the Las Vegas Valley. Mindy is also a clothing designer, creating vegan apparel. Mindy’s vegan journey began when she volunteered at a vegan farm sanctuary. This inspired her to change her lifestyle and convert her meal prep company (and bodybuilding!) to vegan. Mindy feels amazing and is at peace with her “carbon footprint on the Earth!” And if you’re not impressed yet, Mindy’s other passion in life is fostering senior doggys.

Mindy is devoted to giving senior pups the best end of life possible. Unfortunately, many dogs are abandoned later in life and Mindy makes sure they are loved and given stability with care. She is currently fostering six seniors dogs and a puppy who is going to be competing in Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl!!

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Mindy’s two loves go hand in hand. Every Sunday her friends pick-up their vegan meals for the week and bring their doggys for a fun play date! It brings awareness and introduces like-minded women to some incredible senior dogs, fostering many new homes. According to Mindy, “seniors are super amazing because they enjoy chilling with you and just want to be loved!” She of course believes in feeding her pups a vegan diet and adds fresh veggies and whole-grains to vegan dog food.

In order to be a Rockstar foster Momma, Mindy advices that first and foremost you must be patient. Older fur babies need to feel secure given their diverse backgrounds and this takes time. She also recommends fostering in pairs to make the transition easier for the pups, which provides a constant companion when you’re away. Further, be sure to pick a breed that fits your activity level and lifestyle. For instance, if you prefer to lay around and binge on Netflix you’re better suited for a small lap dog than a Lab! Most of all, don’t judge a book by its cover; personality trumps all!! 🙂

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Doggy Sun Care 101

Gatsby Sunning

My Gatsby, a true golden, gets his Vitamin D year round by sunning himself through our kitchen window, not to mention he loves to play outside and swim in the lake. But can Gatsby get sunburned like us Mommas?!

You might be surprised to learn that although your pup has a fur coat, he can get sunburned too and is at risk of developing skin cancer. During the summer months you want to be extra careful that you’re protecting your pup properly from the sun. Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t shave your dog’s coat for summer (or warmer climates)

Your dog’s coat acts as a protective barrier against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Therefore, when you shave your dog’s coat you’re causing him to be more prone to sunburn and skin cancer. Instead, thin out your pups’ coat with a FURminator or an undercoat rake.

  • Use proper sunscreen

If your pup is experiencing hair loss, has a bald spot, or frequently gets burned apply a quality sunscreen to venerable areas. Plus pay close attention to your pup’s exposed areas (around his lips, ears and nose). Select a sunscreen that is safe for human babies and contains NO Zinc Oxide which is toxic for dogs.

  • Use sun protective clothing

If your dog has an allergy to sunscreen or is super sun sensitive, dress her in light-colored clothing designed to block the sun’s rays. In addition, the eyes are a common spot for doggy melanoma so your dog may benefit from wearing sunglasses or Doggles.

  • Designate a shady space

Just like a human child, it’s not good for your pup to spend the entire day lounging on a pool raft!! Make sure your dog has a shady space to escape the sun’s rays.

  • Treat sunburn immediately

If your furry baby gets a minor burn, give him a soothing bath with cool water and apply 100% pure Aloe Vera gel. But when the burn is severe, you may need a trip to your neighborhood vet.

Remember, always stay hydrated during the summer months and make sure your pup has access to fresh water to protect him from the heat!! 🙂

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ECW TIP: Fire-Up YOUR Metabolism with Tabata Training

Tabata Training

Tabata is my exercise tip from my trainer Aaron Manheimer, owner of Chicago’s Wattage. High-intensity interval training deprives your body of oxygen so your metabolism stays elevated throughout your day. Plus you don’t have to spend hours slaving on a cardio machine!

This is how Tabata works with each set taking only four minutes total:

  • Workout hard for 20 seconds (maximum heart rate)
  • Rest for 10 seconds
  • Do 8 rounds

You can do this on a VersaClimber, Airdyne bike, rowing machine, or as sprints on a treadmill. You can also do burpees or use a jump rope. This means no gym is required! Strive to do 3 sets.

I suggest getting the Tabata Pro App which can help time yourself.

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Rockstar Doggy Momma: Tracy Campion

Jack 2

“Probably some of the best things that have ever happened to you in life, happened because you said yes to something. Otherwise things just sort of stay the same.”

  • Danny Wallace, Author of Yes Man

Tracy is a publisher and writer for Pet Connection Magazine, which caters to animal lovers across the Pacific Northwest. It’s a perfect fit for Tracy because not only is she an animal lover, but she has master’s degrees in primate behavior and journalism. Tracy is also the proud Momma of her three senior cats, two senior horses and special needs dog. Jack is a Lab Mix, who lost his left eye and left front leg after he was hit by a car. He miraculously came into Tracy’s life when she needed him the most.

A few years ago, Tracy’s beloved grandparent began to rapidly decline after being diagnosed with cancer and it weighed heavily on her heart. After a difficult “Sunday” visit, Tracy went to the animal shelter just “to look around.” She immediately fell in love with Jack and brought him home on the spot! But little did Tracy know how much Jack would completely transform her life.

Before meeting Jack, Tracy broke her pelvis and was struggling to learn to walk again. She was understandably self-conscious, and Jack helped her heal not only her body, but her spirit too. Short walks throughout the day are perfect for the pair. They go at their own pace (even running the occasional sprint!) and have a blast spending time together in the great outdoors. Tracy has even broadened her social circle because Jack is an amazing “unifier” that loves to make friends with all his neighbors. After all, who could resist his charismatic smile and wink!

Jack 3

Jack also taught Tracy the true meaning of finding balance in her life and gave her the courage to take chances. She was overextended, spending too much time away from home, but the thought of leaving Jack every day was so unbearable that she knew she needed a change. She shifted her career by joining the Pet Connection family, where she now writes stories that allow her to explore her passions, not to mention spend more time with her loved ones. Jack, of course, is an integral member of the team and is the official treat taste tester! According to Tracy, Jack is “her good luck charm” and she now says yes to the things that inspire her. She even has a book in the works along with a few other surprises!

Tracy believes that a Doggy Momma should pay close attention to her dog’s behavior because he will let you know how he’s feeling. Talk to your dog and try to understand things from his perspective. Never forget that your dog is a reflection of you so he will pick up on your behaviors. If you’re stressed out, your pup will be stressed out too! And always remember, the best thing about your pup is his unconditional love and the precious connection you feel toward one another. 🙂

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