Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday's Tip! Other uses for Coffee Grounds!

 Coffee! Though I don't drink the stuff, most people depend on it to get their day started, but what happens to all those coffee grounds?  When we throw coffee grounds into the garbage they break down and release methane.  Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more powerful than CO2. Lucky for us there are lots of ways to put them to good use and keep them out of landfills.  Coffee grounds can be useful for beauty, cleaning, and even in the garden.  Here are a few ideas on how to reuse coffee grounds.

TIP: If you plan on hanging on to the grounds for a little while before using them you want to dry them out so they don't get moldy. To do this just spread a thin layer on a cookie sheet and place in a sunny spot 

  • Of course you can compost them.
  • Use as fertilizer for acid-loving plants such as tomatoes, carrots, roses, azaleas & blueberries.
  • Try storing them in your refrigerator and freezer instead of baking soda to eliminate odors.
  • Keep out ants by sprinkling some grounds where they enter.
  • Fill an old sock full of dried coffee grounds & insert into a smelly pair of shoes to eliminate of the stink. 
  •  After dicing onions and garlic you can scrub your hands with old coffee grounds to get the smell off of your skin. 
  • You can mix them with mashed avocados for a organic facial mask. 
  • Keep those pesky neighborhood cats out of your garden by sprinkling a small amount around beds or pots.
  •  For those of you with dark hair, you can massage them into your scalp to prevent dandruff.
  • You can use them to exfoliate your skin.
  • Use them as a chemical free way to scour away grease on your pots and pans.
  • Steep them in hot water to make an all natural brown fabric dye
  • If you are crafty you can give paper an “aged” look by dipping it in water that has soaked overnight with coffee grounds.
  • You can make an at home anti-cellulite scrub using 5 tsp. ground coffee, 1 tsp. sugar or salt & 2 tsp. essential oil. Apply with your hand or a loofah in a circular motion, leave on five minutes and then wash off.
Tip: You can dry out used coffee grounds and mix them with fresh grounds to make coffee with them one more time!

Do you have more ideas on how to reuse coffee grounds?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Music Monday! Skyscraper!

This is a great inspiring song for anyone who has been through trying times.  It's all about rising above everything that has happened and being a better, stronger person because of it.  The video shows that your  heart is strong enough to go through pain without breaking. We are all resilient and though we go through ups and downs we are all strong enough to make it through.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Healthy Ricotta & Peperoni Pizza!

 I am Italian, so of course I love pizza.  Lately I have been experimenting in the kitchen to come up with healthier versions of my favorite pizzas.  Today's recipe is for a ricotta and pepperoni pizza. By adjusting a few ingredients you can totally change the calorie and fat outcome of this restaurant favorite. I use whole wheat pizza dough and instead of regular cheeses I opted for lesser fat versions. I also chose to use turkey pepperoni.  I was very nervous about how it would taste but was pleasantly surprised.  As you know I don't like foods that taste "diet" but it actually taste just like regular pepperoni, even straight from the package.

What You Will Need:
  • 1 pkg Whole Wheat pizza dough (you can find this in the refrigerated section at your local grocery store) 
  • 8oz Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese
  • 17 slices of Turkey Pepperoni
  • 1/4tsp Oregano
  • 1/4tsp Basil
  • 1/8tsp Parsley
  • A pinch Nutmeg
  • 1/8tsp Salt 
  • A pinch of Pepper
  • Sauce (you can use a jar of sauce or your own, I include a recipe for sauce for this recipe)
  • A round pan, pizza stone or cookie sheet
  • Corn Meal
To make a quick yummy pizza sauce you will need:
  • 1tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Clove of Garlic minced
  • 1/4tsp Basil
  • 1/2tsp Oregano
  • 1/4tsp Salt
  • A pinch of Parsley
  • A pinch of Pepper
  • A pinch of Thyme
  • 1can of plain Tomato Sauce
  • Sauce Pot
  • To start you want to put your dough in a bowl and allow to rise.  I like to give it 24hours to rise.  I usually put it in a bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel and leave it on the counter overnight.  In the morning I take the risen dough and form it back into a ball and allow it to rise again.  If you don't have that much time you want to allow enough time for the dough to rise at least once. (TIP: to help your dough rise faster you can turn your oven on to 400 degrees for 10 minutes then turn it off and put the bowl of dough inside with the oven door slightly open, the heat will help speed up the process) 

  • Pre heat your oven to 375degrees
  • To make the sauce you want to put the pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and garlic till it begins to brown.  Next add the Sauce, Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Pepper, Thyme & Salt. Stir and allow for the sauce to become hot. then reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • In a small bowl add together the Ricotta Cheese, Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Salt, Pepper & Nutmeg. I know nutmeg may sound weird but it's an old trick my mother taught me years ago.  You don't actually taste the nutmeg but it helps bring out the flavors of the cheese.
  •  No matter what surface you are using to cook your pizza you want to coat it with a thin layer of Corn Meal.
    • Next you want to form your dough.  Depending on the type of surface you are using this can be a square or circle.  To stretch the dough you can hold it in the air and pull out from the center while rotating the dough.  You can also lay it on a flat surface and push it out using the balls of your fingers.  You want to stretch the dough and big and flat as you can since it will rise a little while baking. (TIP: fix any holes by just pinching the dough around the hole together)
    • I like to pre bake the crust to ensure it cooks all the way through.  To do this I simply stick the crust in the oven first for 10 minutes.

    • Once the dough is pre baked you want to remove it from the oven and add your sauce leaving at least a 1/4 inch of uncovered dough around the edges for your crust.
    •  Next using a spoon add the ricotta in dollops and using the spoon gently spread out.
    •  Then evenly spread your mozzarella cheese

    •  Lastly you want to add your turkey pepperoni.  (TIP: The pepperoni will shrink a little during cooking so if you like a lot of pepperoni on every slice you may want to add a little more)
    •  Then place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the crust begins to brown and the cheese bubbles.



    Weight Watchers PointsPlus value of 6 points per serving.  Recipe yields 8 servings

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Tuesday's Tip! Other uses for Olive Oil!

    Olive oil is a “healthy fat” and when consumed in moderation, it can help to reduce your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Olive oil is healthy for our insides, but it also has all kinds of other uses.

    Today I have compiled 10 other unique uses for this common kitchen staple.

    • Un-stick A Zipper
    This is something good to remember when your in a pinch. You can loosen that pesky zipper by dabbing a small amount of olive oil onto the zipper’s teeth to help it slide along smoothly.

    • Make A Sugar Scrub
    Olive oil can be used to create a moisturizing and exfoliating scrub that helps heal and sooth dry winter skin. To make just mix sugar with enough olive oil to form a paste. If you want you can scent the scrub with essential oils. To use just massage the scrub into your skin in the shower, bath or use on your hands in the sink. You can also get the same effects by making a salt scrub. You can see how I made my own Salt Scrub HERE

    • Sooth A Sunburn
    No one likes getting sunburn but if you are like me you will try anything to help sooth your skin after spending too much time in the sun. Now you don’t want to use oil on your skin the same day you notice a sunburn, but you can start using olive oil to moisturize your skin a day or two later. This will also help prevent your skin from peeling and help to heal the damaged skin.

    • Moisturize
    During the winter especially your hands and feet usually call for some extra TLC. To help soften your dry winter skin massage a small amount of the oil after your shower. For extra soft skin you want to wear socks and gloves afterwards to help the moisture absorb into the skin. You should feel and see results right away.

    • Hairball Prevention
    This was new to me since I do not own cats. But apparently even cats can benefit from the many uses of olive oil. Depending on your cat’s size you can feed them 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of olive oil to help prevent them from getting hairballs. Also a plus, the olive oil will also help their coats look shiny.

    • Oil Your Hair
    Oiling your hair seems to have been around for awhile. A lot of instructions use coconut oil but olive oil will work just as well. Just put a few drops of oil onto your hands and massage evenly into your scalp. Next just comb your hair to evenly distribute the olive oil. You want to let the oil absorb for about an hour before washing it out with your regular shampoo.

    • Rejuvenate Your Furniture
    Make your old dresser shine like new again. Mix 2 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice. Using a soft cloth add a small amount of the mixture and wipe down your wood furniture. This trick will keep your wood from drying out and help hide any small scratches.

    • Remove Makeup
    Makeup removers bought in stores are often expensive and usually full of mystery ingredients. Now you can use olive oil instead. Using a warm, damp wash cloth or a cotton ball just add a few drops of olive oil. Not only will it remove makeup but you will also moisturize your face at the same time.

    • Treat Dandruff
    For a dry itchy scalp forget buying expensive shampoos, just massage a small amount of olive oil onto your scalp. This will help moisturize and fight those pesky flakes.

    • Wash Your Face
    It may sound funny to use oil to wash your face but many "green" beauty experts swear by OCM (oil cleansing method) For more information and to find out what mixture of oils works best for your skin you can go HERE

    What other uses to do you have for Olive Oil outside your kitchen?

    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Music Monday! We Found Love!

    This is the song and video that I have been obsessed with the last few weeks. It’s that feeling like you are screaming and no one can hear you. You feel almost ashamed that someone could mean so much to you and be that important that without them you feel like nothing. You feel as though no one will ever understand how much it hurt you are feeling. You feel a sense of hopelessness, like nothing can save you. It's an intensely captivating take on the opiate-infused pull of love and the loss of it. She knows she loves him, but she has to do what is right for her life. In the beginning Rihanna is missing him, but in the end it shows her making a stand, moving on and getting back on track. truly inspirational.


    Sunday, January 22, 2012


    Guacamole is one of my favorite foods and it is actually good for you!  Avocados have gotten a bad reputation for being a food that is high in fat, while they are high in fat, the oil it contains actually ranks among the healthiest types of fat. Plus all the other ingredients in Guacamole are highly alkalizing (means they help promote weight loss, increased stamina and strength, a stronger immune system and a greater sense of well being) and loaded with nutrients. It`s important to make Guacamole fresh though. Here is a simple and easy recipe.

    What you Will Need:
    4 ripe avocados (soft to the touch)
    1/2 red onion
    1 tomato
    1 Jalapeno
    1 Lime
    4 Cloves of Garlic
    A Handful of FRESH cilantro
    1/2 tsp of Salt and Pepper

    You Will also need: A large bowl, large knife, small knife, spoon & hand grater
    • To start slice up the avocados.  I like to take a small knife and slice a few time horizontally and vertically  to create chucks to start from.  Then using a large spoon scoop out the avocado into a large bowl.

    •  Next you want to "De-Vein" your Jalapeno. This is done by simply by taking a small knife and removing the white stem and seeds from the pepper. TIP if you like HOT you can add some seeds to your guacamole

    Once the vein is removed you want to grate the Jalapeno using a fine hand grater.  If you don't have one you can finely dice the Jalapeno.
      I like the flavor you get from using this method.
    •  Now using a large knife you want to dice your onion. 
     An easy way to dice an onion is to first hold the onion with one hand flat on top and make horizontal slices
     Than starting with the tip of your knife make vertical slices
     Now all you have to do is slice the onion and its diced for you
    •  Next you want to add four cloves of garlic.  Again I like to use a fine hand grater, this really adds to the flavor of the final guacamole.  If you don't have one you can use a garlic press or finely mince the garlic using a sharp knife.
    •  Again using the fine hand grater you want to zest half a lime
    • Than using a juicer, juice the whole lime into your Guacamole
    •  Using a sharp knife you want to mince the cilantro.  This consists of just the leaves no stems
    • Add 1/2 tsp of both Salt and Pepper. Then using a large spoon mix the ingredients together in the bowl while also mashing some of the avocado into more of a paste.   

    • Now using a very sharp knife you want to dice your tomato

    •  Using a large spoon gently fold in the diced tomatoes

    Now all you need are your favorite whole wheat chips to enjoy your fresh homemade Guacamole! I like to use Weight Watchers wheat chips because I know they are healthy and its also a pre measured portion.


    Yields 12 servings: Each serving has 3 WW Points Plus Values

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    A Quick, Easy, Filling Snack!

    Finding a healthy snack that will also fill you up can be a challenge. The best nutritional value provided by snacking on popcorn is that it is high in fiber. Most people don't get enough fiber in their daily diet so its an added bonus.  Plus it helps fill you up and keep you full longer. It's quick simple and easy.


    What you need:
    large pasta pot with lid
    2tbsp popcorn kernels
    1tsp Vegetable oil

    • Place pot over high heat with 1tea spoon of oil and 3-4 kernels

    • When the kernels begin to pop add 2 table spoons of kernels and recover

    • As the kernels begin to pop gently shake and or move the pot around over the heat
    • Once the popping stops (for at least 3 seconds) remove from heat and pour into a bowl. 
    (I like to sprinkle a little salt on top)

    For added flavor you can add flavor with a variety of different spices like Cinnamon, Garlic Salt, Paprika, Parmesan Cheese, calorie free popcorn toppings or for a buttery guiltless topping you can spray a few sprays of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

    4 WW Points Plus Value