Reading your labels: Oils

The use of vegetable oils and refined oils has risen dramatically over the past 75+ years. Canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and peanut oil are all refined oils. “Vegetable oil” is typically a blend of any of these oils.

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Refined refers to the mechanical and chemical process that occurs to extract the oil from the seeds. Also extracted are the nutrients in the seeds due to this process.  The final product is oxidized easily.   Oxidation is when an electron is given up, creating free radicals.  Free radicals in our body cause damage and inflammation creating a greater risk for health problems, including cancer.  Thus, refined oils should be avoided.


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If you take a look at the ingredients in most processed foods, even organic health targeted ones, they most likely contain one of these oils. Sunflower oil sneaks into organic healthy foods sounding healthy coming from a seed – but being refined, it is not.

You will also see expeller pressed oils.  These oils are extracted with a big screw that is tightened until it crushes the nuts/seeds until the oil runs. This method being expensive and less effective, yields of only 65-70% of the oil. Some companies will have to combine this with a traditional method to release more oils. Other companies will cold press the oils after expeller pressing them which produces the best oils.  Check with the company to verify the process they use. There is a lack of regulations in the US with the advertising.


Avoid the following oils: Canola, Vegetable, Soybean, Safflower, Corn, Sunflower (as well as Margarine and Crisco, which are not only refined, but also hydrogenated.) The process of hydrogenating oils makes the healthy fats into trans-fats.  Trans-fats are contained in many processed foods, according to the FDA: 95% of prepared cookies, 100% of crackers and 80% of frozen breakfast foods!  Hydrogenated oils Crisco and Margarine are actually banned in several countries in Europe!  They cause incredible health problems! Unfortunately, most restaurants use refined and hydrogenated oils, because they are cheap and add taste.

What can you use?

Extra virgin olive oil (that is unrefined, cold-pressed and unfiltered). Be sure to read your labels!  Due to lack of regulations here in the US, oil can say it is unrefined, but not actually be unrefined. Check where it originates from.  A dark green bottle slows oxidation.
Coconut oil – organic, unrefined. One of the healthiest foods on the planet!
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Red palm oil –  phytonutrients, antixiodant full!
Avocado oil  – heart healthy, vitamin E
Rather than butter, try ghee – clarified butter, full of nutrients

Dr. Axe
Healthy Eating Politics
100 days of real food

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Tips for washing your gym clothes

This is a guest post by Travis at


You’ve spent your hard earned money on your exercise gear like running shorts or Compression Socks and now it is time to put it to the test. After a grueling workout, you and your Lycra® containing gear are ready for a bath. By the way, Spandex is the generic Lycra® version. Lycra® is a brand name trademarked by DuPont.

After Your Workout

As much as we hate it, we’re all drenched in sweat after a good workout, which means our clothes are, too. If you don’t have time to wash your clothes right after your workout, or you’re too tired like me, then hang dry your workout clothes, making sure there are no wrinkle or overlaps. This prevents your gear from turning into a mildew breeding ground! It also helps prevent weird stenches from staying trapped inside your clothes.

Getting the Stink Out

The best method for remedying smelly gym clothes is to give them a prewash. Soak your Lycra® outfits in one part vinegar, and four parts water for at least 30 minutes before hand washing, or throwing them into the washing machine. Rinse your clothes thoroughly before washing them to get rid of any vinegar.


Some tips…

Do not mix vinegar and bleach ever! If your detergent contains bleach rinse out your vinegar soaked clothes before throwing them in the washer. Do not use vinegar in the rinse cycle of your washer if your detergent contains bleach.

Do not use heat for any of your Lycra® garments. Heat will destroy the elastic properties aka the Lycra® fibers of your outfits. Avoid the dryer, ironing and the sun. Remember: Heat is bad.

Do not use chlorine or bleach. This will destroy the fibers of the fabric and you will get “bag and sag” syndrome.

Do not use Fabric Softener. These are used to soften clothes and will make sure your expensive garment will never retain its shape. Avoid the fabric softener.

In the Wash They Go

Although it is said that hand washing is always the way to go, most of us don’t have time for that. Don’t fret though! It is safe for your Lycra® garments to go into the washing machine following these steps. First, make sure that all of your zippered garments are zipped all the way up to prevent the zipper track from snagging onto other fabric during the washing cycle. Turn your clothes inside out. Put delicate items into a mesh laundry bag, lingerie bag, or pillowcase to protect them (Definitely do this for Bib Shorts).

The Set-Up

If you are worried that a pre-soak just won’t cut it for getting all the smells out, you can put some vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser of your washer. This will make sure your washer will dispense vinegar in the rinse cycle. Always use cold water when washing your Lycra® garments. Heat will destroy them. Set your washer on the “Delicates” setting to prevent damage of your clothes.

Less is More?

Use less detergent than you normally would for your Lycra® clothes. While detergent cleans your clothes, you definitely don’t want a build up of it on your workout clothes. A build up of detergent will trap in dead skin cells and trap bacteria into the fabric. If you want to make sure your clothes last, try a detergent designed for washing workout clothes.

Finishing Touches

After the washing cycle has been finished, hang your clothes up, or lay them down flat to dry. Never put them in the dryer. Remember heat is not friendly to Lycra® clothes. Lycra® is a fast drying fiber so your clothes should not take too long to air dry.

Need some workout clothes?
Check out SLSTRI.Com for 40% off of your order using code: BLOG40

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Blessed with baby girls!

Welcome to the world, Emily and Jessa!

Two baby girls joined our family over a week span!
My sister delivered her first baby on Friday, so exciting!

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and my cousin delivered her 3rd girl on Tuesday!

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Both of them were surprised, and most of us were guessing or hoping for (?) boys
My grandparents now have one great-grandson, and 8 great-granddaughters!
My parents now have one grandson and 5 granddaughters!




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Eat your fruits & veggies

A variety of fruits and vegetables is the most important thing that you can eat in your diet, hands down.

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“Among the nutrients contained in fruits and vegetables is a class of about 5,000 compounds called flavonoids; hundreds of these compounds can be found in a single fruit or vegetable and they all work together as a team. It is important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to get all of the different flavonoids working together.”

~R. Francis,  author of “Never Be Sick Again”

People who eat a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier and have a lower incidence of illness, including cancer. Flavonoids are antioxidants that help to control inflammation, while also suppressing cancer cell (Francis). Studies have shown that the consumption of certain vegetables and herbs can help shrink cancer cells. Some of the big players are ginger, onions, garlic, broccoli sprouts, garlic, cabbage, and turmeric.  The flavonoids along with minerals and vitamins found in fruits and vegetables strengthen the immune systems.  Eating fruits and vegetables in their raw form keeps its enzymes activated, so that the nutrient value is at its highest.

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One of my favorite quotes that is so true!

A diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables contributes to better health.  Stay on top of the ones to buy organic and the ones that are least sprayed.  EWG (environmental working group) posts an annual list that you can print and keep on your fridge! You can also sign up for their newsletter with helpful information.

When fruits and veggies are not in season, there are good supplements to get in your variety. My favorite way to get all of the variety year round is through Juice Plus+!


 Juice Plus+ is a nutritional supplement that we take in place of vitamins. It contains juice powder concentrates from 30 different fruits, vegetables and grains. Juice Plus+ helps bridge the gap between what you eat and the goal fruit/veggie servings in a day.

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Juice Plus works with family farms to pick the fruits and vegetables when they are ripe, tests them for purity and standards, then juice the whole fruit, including peels, leaves and seeds, and freeze dries them into capsules and chewables for kids.  All of this is done right near the local farm so that nutrient values are not lost.  When not available, they fast freeze to retain nutrients.

While not every crop of fruits or veggies that is used in JP+ is certified “organic,” every batch is tested for the absence of every herbicide, pesticide, and toxin known to man. It is about as pure as you can get. Juice Plus +is one of the few nutritional products available that has been certified for purity by NSF, an independent organization that sets an extremely high bar for dietary supplement safety and quality.

Our experience: I started taking JP+ when I was 2 months pregnant with #4.  That was in November. That winter, I was in great health – never got sick. The kids had a few colds that passed quickly. And that was it. The winter before that I had sinus infections, strep, colds. It seemed never ending!  That was 2 years ago, and I’ve seen a decrease in the length of colds and a decrease in the kids being sick.  I became a rep 2 months after starting them, so I could share my experience, and share good health! The kids take the chewables and love them! I take the capsules. I take an extra boost or a few chewables if I feel a cold coming on.

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Cost: Juice Plus has a Children’s Health Study. For each adult who purchases an adult supply (4 months, red and green capsules, $180), they receive a child supply ($85/red and green chewables/4 months) for free.  Reach out if you are interested in learning more, want to try samples, or want to purchase Juice Plus.  You can also check out my website.




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DIY lemonade stand

We had been at a really fun children’s museum over the summer with a little shop and cash register, and ever since I thought it would be really fun to have a lemonade stand for fun. I started looking on second hand sites, and also DIY. I found this really cute one, and we had most of the supplies around from other projects. The crates are from Michaels!  My handy husband put it all together, then I did the painting and printing and hanging.

DIY Lemonade Stand

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Loads of fun!

You can find various free printables.  I picked my favorites and easiest download, printed and laminated!

Free Lemonade Stand Printables!


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School lunch favorites

I can’t believe the kids are heading back to school on Monday! The summer flew by, most especially because this was our first year not on the pre-school schedule. We had a great time going to the pool, doing hiking adventures, field trips and visiting the shore. I’m not quite ready to send them off to school on Monday😦

I have shared my favorite school lunch gear here and here and here, and I tend to get away from the typical sandwich, fruit and snack when it comes to school lunches. Instead, I like to do a variety of foods using a Bento type lunch box.

These are my favorite lunchboxes below, although I have always wanted Planet Box lunchboxes but can’t swallow the pricetag!

Easy Lunchboxes

While I’m not a huge fan of plastic, even though they are BPA free, these have worked for us for years and years! I add cupcake liners for snacks, or little containers.

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Last year, I bought these. Again, plastic, but affordable.
Bentgo Lunch. In the big compartment, you cannot really fit a sandwich unless you cut off the crust and cut it into fours which I sometimes do. I also use that part for crackers, quesadillas, or whatever my main item is. The top right part holds applesauce or yogurt without leaking, which is awesome! I also use that for fruit. In the middle, I put nuts, seeds, or juice plus gummies! In the right and bottom, I usually do snacks. It’s very versatile and I love giving little portions of everything.


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For water bottles, I switched from plastic to stainless steel and took advantage of an Amazon deal this summer for these:

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Now for my favorite things to fill lunches with:

Fresh Fruit! Grapes and berries are favorites, but year-round:  apples, pears, etc – you can spritz with lemon juice! Photo credit: Weelicious. I don’t make kabobs for school lunches!

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Granola bars – homemade. My favorite ones are Oh She Glows Glo Bar.

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Photo credit: Oh She Glows

occasionally for the main meal: :
~ Turkey & Cheese Roll ups, Cream Cheese & Jelly Roll ups

~ Fun sandwich shapes for PB & J, AB sandwiches

~Sprouted Grain Bagels or Toast, Quesadillas!


~Date/Nut Balls There are so many of these recipes out there, but this is a favorite. I tend to throw in the food processor whatever I have on hand and go with it!

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photo credit: Detoxinista


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photo credit: Minimalist Baker

~Nuts & Seeds

For a treat every now and then, I’ll make graham crackers in fun shapes!

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and for a treat sometimes we will buy Annie’s bunnies in the sweet or cheese flavor, or have veggie stix or avocado chips!

What are your favorite ways to fill the lunch box?!




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The Rocky challenge is here!

The Rocky Challenge, a 39.3 two-day event is coming to Philly Marathon weekend. On Saturday, runners can run the half marathon, and on Sunday the full marathon.   Runners in Disney do the Goofy Challenge, and now Philadelphia runners can complete this one!

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Finishers will receive medals for the half and the full and an exclusive 39.3 Rocky Challenge Finisher Medal.  Runners who have already registered for either the full or half marathon and are interested in participating in the Rocky Challenge will receive a $10 discount off their second race registration fee. Those new registrants signing up for both races as part of the challenge will also receive a $10 discount off their final registration cost.

The latest addition to Race Weekend offers a new level of difficulty for our runners who are always looking to push the envelope,” said Executive Director Sheila Hess. “We anticipate this inaugural year of the 39.3 Rocky Challenge to be not only a huge success but a boost to our registration numbers, which are already surpassing Half Marathon and Rothman Institute 8K registration numbers for this time last year.”

From race headquarters:

This new feature to Race Weekend partially arose from the enthusiasm of runners and charity partners, including the American Cancer Society and their DetermiNation program, who reached out expressing their support for a two-race challenge. The American Cancer Society, a Philadelphia Marathon charity partner for six consecutive years, was particularly interested in presenting an additional element to their racing community, team members, and fundraising athletes through their professional training program and extensive community of support.

Register here!


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