Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ben & Jerry's Non-GMO Ice Cream!

Yeah for Ben & Jerry's! I love their ice cream and now they've given me another reason to purchase.

Here is their position on GMOs and labeling (taken from their website):

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are organisms that have had their genetic makeup (DNA) altered through genetic engineering in a way that does not occur in nature or through traditional cross-breeding methods. GMOs are found in key commodity crops grown in the United States, like corn and soy. Because more than half of processed food products on grocery store shelves contain one or more genetically engineered ingredient, it's likely that almost all of us eat foods that contain GMOs on a regular basis.
As the campaign to label food products made with GMO ingredients moves across the states, including Vermont, Ben & Jerry’s is proud to stand with the growing consumer movement for transparency and the right to know what’s in our food supply by supporting mandatory GMO labeling legislation.
Here’s our status: currently, in the United States and Canada, 80% of Ben & Jerry’s ingredients by volume are sourced non-GMO.  We commit to sourcing non-GMO ingredients for all our products everywhere by year-end 2013. In fact all our products made in Europe are already non-GMO.
We will track our progress as we complete this conversion, with public updates on this site. Beginning now, and throughout 2013, we will transition packaging so that all Ben & Jerry’s products will be labeled with respect to GMO by the end of 2014.
Just Label It! logoWe have a long history of siding with consumers and their right to know what’s in their food. We fought long and hard for labeling of rBGH, which was the first genetically engineered technology used in the US food system. We thank and encourage all those who are continuing this fight in support of transparency and the consumer’s right to know.
You can take action now at Just Label It!

To read their full statement and updates, you can visit their website: Ben & Jerry.

Thank you Ben & Jerry's. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Healthy Louisiana Creole Shrimp

While I'm trying to eat a healthier diet filled with whole, un-processed foods, the one thing I won't skimp on is flavor. I like my food a bit on the spicy side. Fortunately, spices don't add calories and many of them are extremely good for you. One only has to google turmeric, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, paprika, etc. to see the health benefits of many spices. Adding a variety of spices is a great way to eat healthy without feeling like you're on a diet.

So, since I was by myself the other night and craving shrimp, I decided to create my own healthy version of Creole Shrimp. And I think I hit a home run!

Instead of using white rice, I substituted quinoa and minimized the amount of butter used. Here is my recipe:

Serves 1 - Time 20 minutes
1/4 pound shrimp, deveined and tails removed
1/2 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/2 cup sliced red and yellow peppers
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup tomato, diced
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 Tbl lemon juice
Dash of creole seasoning
Dash of cajun seasoning
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbl light butter

  1. Cook quinoa according to directions. This normally takes about 15 - 20 minutes, so start this first and allow to cook while preparing the shrimp.
  2. Marinate shrimp in lemon juice and seasonings. I happened to have cajun seasoning and creole seasoning on hand, so I just threw a few dashes in the marinade. If you don't have this prepared, any combination of paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, oregano and thyme will do the trick. You can't really go wrong unless you overdo the cayenne pepper! It's all a matter of personal taste, so don't be afraid to experiment.
  3. Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the red onion, peppers, and garlic. Saute for approximately 5 minutes until soft.
  4. Add shrimp and cook for just a few minutes until shrimp turns pink on the outside. It will still be slightly uncooked in the middle, but that's ok.
  5. Add tomatoes, chicken broth and butter - stir to mix. I have light butter that I purchased from Costco. It tastes the same as regular butter but with less calories. It allows me to use a little more butter to get that creamy mouth feel that I think is important with this type of dish. You can always use regular butter.
  6. Cook for 5 more minutes over low heat.
  7. When finished, pour over quinoa.
What I love about quinoa, besides being a much healthier alternative to rice, is the way it absorbs liquid, but retains all the soupiness (is that a word??). So, you definitely want to eat this with a spoon to get all the great sauce.

While not scientific, I estimated the number of calories for this dish at approximately 500. And it was very filling!

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Experiment with Apple Cider Vinegar

Lately I've been reading a lot of articles about the many benefits of apple cider vinegar. It's being touted as a a beneficial natural product for everything from weight loss to diabetes, not to mention dog care and home cleaning. Intrigued with the growing amount of information out there, I decided to do a little research myself and see if this was something I should add to my daily routine. After all, I'm looking to make some big changes this last half of 2013 and from what I've been reading, this was right up my alley!

While ACV (apple cider vinegar) can help with repelling fleas on your dog, wart removal, and a multitude of skin issues, I decided that I would just concentrate on the benefits of drinking it (rather than applying it topically on me or my dog (I figured it wasn't fair to subject my poor dog to my 2013 experiments!).

One very important note:
Only use raw organic ACV as it is the 'mother' of the vinegar. The ‘mother’ is made up of strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules with living nutrients and bacteria. Clear vinegar is processed and doesn’t have any of the benefits that raw ACV has. There are different brands out there but I just bought the organic unfiltered Sprouts store brand.

So, every morning before breakfast, I drink a big 16 oz glass of this concoction:
12 oz. water
4 oz. cranberry juice
1 tablespoon ACV

Be sure to always dilute when when using this vinegar. It is highly acidic and can upset your stomach and damage tooth enamel if taken straight.

I have to admit, the first few days were a bit difficult. The taste definitely takes some getting used to, but after only 3 days, I was really enjoying it. I'm not sure why, but I actually looked forward to this drink. I felt like it was hydrating my body better than just plain water. I'm not sure if that's just wishful thinking or not, but I really felt good about drinking it.

Here is a summary of some of the benefits I've read regarding ACV:
  • ACV may help with weight loss by breaking down fats so that your body can use them rather than store them. There have been studies that obese people drinking ACV for 12 weeks saw significant decrease in body fat. It's hard to tell if there are other factors at play here or not.
  • ACV helps to balance your entire inner body system. The body constantly strives to achieve a state of equilibrium. ACV helps the body maintain a healthy alkaline pH level. Research shows that higher acid levels (lower pH level) leads to a lack of energy and higher incidences of infection.
  • As part of balancing the body's pH, ACV creates an overall detoxification of the body. Research shows that it can help stimulate cardiovascular circulation and help detoxify the liver. May help improve bowel irregularity and helps to remove toxins from the body at a faster rate.
  • ACV is rich in natural enzymes that can help rid your body of candida -- yeasts that are attributed to thrush in humans. Candida also is blamed for creating symptoms of fatigue, poor memory, sugar cravings, and yeast infections.
  • It can help regulate blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol.
So, I started  my experiment last week. I'll continue to report on my progress and if I notice any changes.

Disclaimer – Due to the lack of supporting research, apple cider vinegar cannot be recommended for treatment or prevention of any health problems. Please consult with your health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements. I’m just sharing my experience and research. My experience may be different from yours.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pinteresting - Pinterest Strategies for Brands and Bloggers - My Review

Having a social media presence is essential in today's on-line marketplace. If you have any type of on-line business, it's not enough to throw together a website and wait for the customers to flock to your site. However, it can be overwhelming with so many options out there.

I've decided to concentrate on two social media outlets to grow my business, Theresa Rose Designs. Facebook and Pinterest seem like good candidates for my on-line handmade jewelry business. I went ahead and purchased the book 'Pinteresting - Pinterest Strategies for Brands and Bloggers' by Tabitha Philen. I was able to purchase it for my Kindle on Amazon for only $2.99 - a worthwhile investment.

There are 4 sections:
  • Part One: The Basics of Pinterest
  • Part Two: Pinterest Accounts for Brands & Bloggers
  • Part Three: Growing a Following
  • Part Four: Optimizing your use of Pinterest
At 84 pages, it's a quick read, but she packs a lot of useful information in a short amount of space.

Part One: The Basics of Pinterest
Tabitha explains the terminology of Pinterest such as the concepts of boards, pins, and repins. She also discusses how she uses it herself and why she uses it. If you are new to Pinterest, it's worth reading carefully because she does a very good job of explaining step by step how to start your pinterest account. While I had already used Pinterest sparingly, I still found this section useful because there are new features such as pinmarklets and secret boards that I hadn't bothered delving into. She includes a lot of pictures with her step-by-step instructions, and as a visual person, I really appreciated it. It's very thorough and well thought out.

Part Two: Pinterest Accounts for Brands & Bloggers
This is where we really started getting into the 'meat' of the information. Tabitha talks about the importance of your logo and profile to support your branding. There was also information in here about connecting to your twitter account and using keywords to optimize google search. These are two things I hadn't thought about, but now are always on my mind when I pin my jewelry and blog posts. Did you also know you have a choice between a personal or business account? I didn't - but Tabitha explains the difference and what to consider when deciding between the two.

There is a chapter in this section regarding boards and how to use them for promoting your brand. Again, a lot of useful information that I found very helpful. There's even a section about using collaborative boards to grow your reach. She goes into much detail. I'm not sure how I'm going to use this yet, but I 'm sure I'll refer back to it a later time.

One of the most beneficial parts for me was the chapter on Who, Where, and What of Following. Here she really explains etiquette and tips on following other pinners. Here's one tip that I found especially good: "When you interact in the comments section of the pins, your brand is seen by everyone viewing those pins." She stresses that you shouldn't comment just to comment, it should be meaningful and genuine. People can spot spam a mile away and will turn pinners off to you (and your brand).

Part Three: Growing a Following
In this section, Tabitha goes into more detail about how to encourage other pinners to follow you and your boards. Keys to getting followers include knowing when to pin, cross-promoting on other social media outlets and  keeping Pinterest visible on your website or blog. Utilizing the social aspects of Pinterest is, of course, the best way to gain followers, and there is a definite etiquette to socializing on Pinterest. I like the way Tabitha goes through the social protocols and how not to turn off other pinners.

There is a whole chapter dedicated to campaigns and contests. There are restrictions on running contests, so be careful or your account may be deleted! This book explains some of the limitations and restrictions, but always remember that Pinterest can change the rules at any time, so always stay current on their policies.

Part Four: Optimizing your use of Pinterest
This section goes into the more advanced uses of Pinterest. She discusses tips for creating your own images for pinning. I found it to be very straightforward and useful in many ways. There is also a chapter that lists some of the analytical tools that can be found outside of Pinterest to help you in using this site.

The last part of the book discusses hashtags, using your source URL, Facebook options, and other 3rd party apps you may find useful.

Overall, this was a very good book. Whether you are a complete novice or have been using Pinterest for some time, I am sure there is information that is new to any one reading her book. I highly recommend it, and for $2.99 (for the kindle edition), it costs less than a Starbucks coffee - definitely worth the money!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Salad of The Week - Avocado, Pomegranate, Goat Cheese Salad

I love salads but have a tendency to get in a rut making the same salad over and over again. Part of my Half Year Resolutions is eating more whole, raw foods, so salad is a perfect lunch. But this time, it's different. I'm buying new ingredients and mixing it up a bit. Each week, I resolve to buy a new ingredient that I wouldn't normally purchase. This week's salad includes pomegranate seeds. They are packed with nutrients and are considered one of the 'super foods'.

2 Cups Organic Spring Mix Greens
1/4 Cup Pomegranate Seeds
1/4 Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese
1/2 Cup Avocado, diced
1/2 Cup Mushrooms, diced
1/2 Cup Grape Tomatoes
Drizzle of Poppy Seed Dressing

I estimate the number of calories at about 350. I definitely felt full after eating this salad.

As I was preparing yesterday's salad, I realized that all of the ingredients were from Costco. I've gotten to the point where I don't even shop in grocery stores anymore. It's either Costco, Trader Joe's, or Sprouts.

I'm looking for ideas for new salad ingredients so I welcome any suggestions!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Alive! Ultra-Shake Review

While I want to eat a healthy diet and know that I really should take vitamin supplements every day, I finally came to the conclusion that I am not disciplined enough to swallow a big multivitamin horse pill each morning. First of all, the aftertaste is disgusting and I always seem to feel slightly sick to my stomach for a couple of hours. So, I decided to look into adding a vitamin supplement in my morning smoothie. I came upon the Alive! Ultra-Shake Vanilla powder. I'm so happy I found this product and can't recommend it highly enough.

My morning smoothie consists of 1 1/2 cups water, 3/4 cup frozen blueberries, one banana, and approximately 2/3 scoop of Alive! powder. I don't use the full scoop. As a woman of small stature, I don't feel I need the full dose. I then blend these 4 ingredients together and I have my breakfast.

The flavor of the powder itself is not that great. I would never think to drink it by itself. But mixing it with the blueberries and banana makes it very tasty and I actually look forward to this smoothie each morning. I have tasted other powders that are much more flavorful, but the reason for that is they contain a lot of added sugars, which I really wanted to avoid.

Nutritional information (includes powder, blueberries and banana):
Calories: approximately 250
Protein: 12 grams
Dietary Fiber: A whopping 10 grams!

The vitamin content of this powder is very complete, which is the main reason I selected it. Other powders I looked at had the basic vitamins, but were missing many of the lesser known minerals. I wanted a big bang for my buck.

Another reason I selected this powder was due to the natural ingredients. The protein is non-GMO pea protein. This is much more easily digestible than proteins from soy or whey sources. Just look at all the other ingredients in this shake! I won't pretend to know what it all is, but it seems to have many added nutrients:

I purchased my first can at Sprouts for $36.99. It says that it has 26 servings, but with my 2/3 scoop, I can stretch that out to about 35 servings. However, my next order will be through Amazon - they offer this same size for $26.09 AND free shipping. If you subscribe for a regular delivery (say every one or two months), the price drops to $24.79. The problem with that option is you no longer receive the free shipping since the cost isn't a minimum of $25.00.

Here's my smoothie ready to drink! (I had to include a plug for my alma mater - SDSU - haha!) I pour it into my tervis tumbler and sip it while working. At 250 calories, this is a great breakfast and a wonderful way to start my day. I seem to have a lot of energy, although I'm not sure if I attribute it to the smoothie.

 I'm not going to pretend that I know a lot about nutrition, so if anyone has any additional information (good or bad) about this product, I'd love to see your comments. Also, if you have tried this shake, please comment and let us know what you think. If you have tried it with other ingredients (my daughter adds peanut butter and banana to hers), please give us your recipe.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Half Year Resolutions - Spirituality/Relationships

Today's post is probably the most difficult of the three posts I'm writing this week. Setting goals for business and health are so much easier because I think about them more often as they are a normal part of my daily life. However, how much do we really think about our own spirituality and relationships with other people? Not only do I not think about this every day, when I do ponder it, it can bring up some uncomfortable thoughts. Am I kind enough to the people in my life? What role does spirituality have in my life? These aren't as easy to answer or address as asking myself if I can eat more vegetables - lol!

But, I'm going to give it a shot. I do know there are areas where I can improve my relationships and my spiritual journey. So, it will be interesting to see where I am at the end of the year regarding these resolutions. My list is small right now (and a little vague) so I hope to add to it during the coming months.

1. Meditate at least 5 times a week.
2. Seek out other like-minded people who share my spiritual beliefs and goals.
3. Connect with my friends more often.
4. Nurture my relationship with my family.

I'm looking forward to next week's blog posts. This is where I'm finally going to be able to get to specifics. I will be starting to document exactly what I'm doing to make these changes in my Etsy business, health, and personal life.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Half Year Resolutions - Part 2 - Health/Lifestyle

Well, I’m on my way to a newer, healthier, happier 2nd half of 2013! I’m committing myself to so many changes and really looking forward to this journey. I hope that my blog will resonate with other women who are also interested in making the same changes and feeling more fulfilled in their lives. And I especially hope that we can connect and support each other.

Today I list the changes I am making in my lifestyle and health. I’ve been on the road towards a more wholesome lifestyle for some time now and I have already seen the benefits in many ways. I now wish to deepen my commitment and look for new ways to promote this on my blog. There is a lot of alternative information out on the internet and elsewhere that advocate natural health, nutrition, and wellbeing.

1. Purchase more organic and ‘whole’ foods. I’ve been slowly adapting to this process for a while now, so this will continue. I rarely shop at grocery stores anymore and opting for farmer markets and natural food stores such as Sprouts. Removing processed products from my diet is a major goal of mine.

2. Exercise – this is a tough one! I already incorporate some exercise almost every day by walking my dog, but the hot summer months makes this hard to do at a level that promotes any real health benefit. Regular exercise is something I have a hard time maintaining. I have a gym membership but always find reasons to not go (such as writing this blog post right now!). But, if I’m going to be serious about making changes for the 2nd half of 2013, then I need to really think what I can realistically accomplish. I’ll come back to this one later.

3. Try a new healthy product or food every 2 weeks. I’m really looking forward to this one! I also look forward to blogging about new healthy products I’m enjoying or not enjoying – I promise to be honest in my assessments.

4. Try a new recipe every week. This sort of ties into my goal of using Pinterest also. Pinterest is full of fantastic recipes, so I will have a chance to expand our menu – all healthy options of course!

5. Simplify my life. Ok, so maybe this is too broad, but really – do I honestly need another pair of black shorts or jeans – NO! I intend to limit my purchases drastically. Of course, this ties into the quitting my job goal stated in my last blog post, so it’s probably going to be a necessity more than a desire.

I think that’s a good start for now. These are all goals that are attainable and will allow me to slowly adapt to change without feeling overwhelmed. It’s so important not to make such a major overhaul that it becomes difficult to maintain. This is why I also look forward to blogging about my transition so I can see the steady progress I make while adopting healthier options a little at a time.

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1 - Halfway Through 2013 - Half Year Resolutions!

I’ve really been looking forward to today – July 1st. It’s been a crazy first half to 2013 and I’m ready to settle into a simpler, less hectic lifestyle. The first half of the year involved a lot of travel – two trips to Europe and one trip to Hawaii. While it’s been an exciting ‘yolo’ time (to quote my daughter), it’s also involved more planning than I had anticipated and disruptions to my business and home life. That’s why I’ve decided to start my ‘Half-Year’ Resolutions. Instead of the usual New Year’s Resolutions, I’m committing myself to major changes in 3 areas of my life starting NOW:

1. Business/Career

2. Lifestyle/Health

3. Spirituality/Relationships

My goal is to chronicle my journey and, hopefully, meet like-minded women who share the same passions and goals as I do.

Today’s post will discuss the changes I will be making to my business/career in the coming months. Over the last 2 years, whenever I’ve mentioned my growing jewelry business to other people, I increasingly encounter more and more women who are very intrigued with the idea of getting out of the corporate world and are very interested in hearing more about how to run their own businesses. I’ve had an amazing 5 years with this business and I am looking forward to taking it to the next level. Also, by documenting it in this blog, I’m really committing myself to making some major changes. I will be moving out of my comfort zone and there is no turning back now!

My goals for the next 6 months involve:

1. Quitting my day job. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’ve talked about this for the last few years. If they are reading this, they are probably thinking “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, the time is now. I have a good savings account built up, so I can weather through this time with a nice cushion and hopefully avoid too many sleepless nights. By the end of summer, I will finally move out of the corporate world.

2. I will make and list 5 new pieces of jewelry per week. I will also improve my photography skills and continue to work on making my Etsy shop better and better.

3. I will blog 3 times a week. Initially I was worried about what I could possible blog about that often, but between my Etsy business, lifestyle changes I’m making, and my spiritual journey, I feel there are plenty of topics. Whether any one reads this or not, is another matter. However, maintaining this blog is my way to ensure that I continue to be committed to a new way of life.

4. Facebook/Pinterest – I’m very interested in growing my social media presence and am looking forward to learning more and more about this new way of doing business. It’s a challenge that I welcome and I will definitely blog about what is working for me and what isn’t.

I sincerely hope that my blog inspires other women out there to make the leap from the corporate world to business owner. I am meeting more and more people these days who are doing just that – I welcome all comments and hope we can have some great discussions!