Momma Told Me: January 2019

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5 Incredibly Easy Ways To Be Proactive About Your Health This Year

 This post was sponsored by Metamucil as part of an Influencer Activation and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Not long ago I turned 30.

It was like any other birthday. Honestly, as much of a fuss as most of my friends have made when turning the 'big 3-0' it's really quite un-extraordinary. I'm a pretty firm believer that age is but a number to chronicle the passing of time, rather than mark the loss of it. And while it's true, as we progress on this crazy journey called life, there are legal and physical landmarks often associated with various milestones, one is only as young (or old) as they are in spirit and in heart.

This all being said our bodies are the vessel in which we progress through life, and more than any number on a birthday card, it's how we choose to take care of it through proactive health which ultimately weighs the largest on how much living we'll get out of it.
So, back to me and my birthday, there I was feeling no less or more extraordinary than the day before, having recently turned 30. I'd visited my personal physician for an annual checkup and he'd shared a few criticisms of his own. Side note: Am I the only one who feels as though they've let their doctor down when they get less than ideal feedback???? But I digress- I could go into the nitty gritty but it really comes down to this:

One's health is and always well be a complex and constantly changing picture painted by a number of factors. Some we can impact, while others we can only anticipate, and others we simply can't avoid. There is no magical formula, no paint by number, to perfect health.

When I asked my personal doctor what his best advice was for me, knowing I had some personal health hurdles to begin trying to overcome, his response was simple,

"The same thing I tell every patient. Make time."

Time, of course, for one's health. Whether it's researching new recipes that are lower in sodium/sugars/fats, researching one's family tree for hereditary dispositions, logging the amount of water drank in a day, or scheduling an annual checkup. So many people, myself included, express that their crazy lifestyles don't allow much time to really stop an care for themselves. But there are a few simple things one can do to help maintain balance within their hectic life.
1. Change the view.

Before you start yelling at me telling me how it's negative 50 degrees and you can't even see past the snow drifts at your window, hear me out. I know we can't all live in Southern California where 50F is a frigid Winter's day.

Studies have proven that natural light is how our bodies most signal the beginning of a new day, and help get our systems primed to tackle the tasks of the day ahead. An excellent start to the day means all of your body's systems are jump started and primed in peak condition. So, whether you quite literally dine on your front porch for breakfast, or merely open up the blinds by the kitchen nook- take a moment to let a little natural sunlight re-invigorate you.

This time of the year the sun rises quite early, as well as the rest of the Earth's natural creatures.

While you may not have sunny skies up above changes are there are other signs of a new day- including audible ones such as birds and wildlife outside your window. Take a moment to take a deep breath and stop and listen for these natural cues of a fresh day's beginning.
2. Go With Your Gut.

If you've ever heard the age old adage "You are what you eat"- it's not 'age old' advice for nothing. You most certainly are a reflection of not just what you put into your body physically, but inhale, spray on, and so much more.

Sometimes we can't, or don't, always make the best of choices when it comes to the 'into' part and the most frequent excuse is that we don't have the time. Being proactive about your health with some simple daily supplements and choices really curbs time spent on recovery or correction down the line, and can take just a few minutes a day with some supportive products from Walmart.

That's precisely why I always have an orange tub of Metamucil Premium Blend powder on my kitchen counter, right next to my coffee brewer. Having it out, and at the ready reminds me to keep up with my regular maintenance and helps avoid any excuses.

Made with 100% natural psyllium fiber, and available in sugar free varieties (with no artificial sweeteners or colors), Metamucil helps trap and remove the 'sludge' in my digestive track so I can not only enjoy a fuller feeling between meals, but also a lighter feeling day in and out. When you digest more efficiently your entire body benefits by the absorption of all the GOOD things you put in it and quicker processing of the things which aren't so good.

I typically drink a glass of Metamucil every other day- but find their Cinnamon Thins extra convenient to take my proactive gut maintenance on the go when traveling- they're pretty delicious too!

 3. Nurture your Skin.

And speaking of that which you put ON your body- Skincare is a huge concern year-round, but especially tough during the winter. Staying hydrated is one of the most important things one can do during the winter months- not only will great hydration help the body naturally purify, it will improve the appearance and health of your skin. Having a regular, and seasonal, skincare regimen will not only foster beautiful, hydrated, skin, but also reminds us to be on the lookout for any changes or skin-related symptoms that may be developing as an impact of age, stress and environmental factors. Try this recipe for our 3 Ingredient Nourishing Lotion to help pamper and nourish winter skin:

3 Ingredient Nourishing Lotion
3 TBS Heavy Cream
1/2 Ripe Avocado
2 TBS Honey
Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree into a smooth cream. Apply directly to dry or rough spots and leave on for at least an hour. Rinse with warm water.
4. Honey Infused Garlic.-

My next proactive support secret is for the immune system, and one that many busy individuals have been relying on for centuries. For those with an aversion to garlic, marinating these 4 calorie cloves in organic honey can prove a delicious alternative that packs a powerful punch. Both honey and raw garlic provide sulfuric compounds and antioxidants. I keep a small mason jar of crushed or diced garlic cloves in clover honey for a variety of recipes, and even straight consumption.
5. Oven-Roasted Orange Chicken With Fennel.-  

You've probably already figured out how we were going to round this out. Honey Garlic makes for the most delicious, and sunny, Vitamin-C packed Oven-Roasted Chicken with Fennel. Not only does this meal smell delicious through preparation and cooking, it looks gorgeously ready to plate straight from the oven. Why not have a few friends over to unwind and bask in the genius of your chef skills (anyone can make this recipe, I promise)- having a strong social support system is, you guessed it, also good for the mind and body! Catch the complete recipe at the bottom of this post.
It stands to reason the biggest bang for your proactive health will be the integrating of all of these tips, and more, into your lifestyle. Busy lives often mean little time to focus on ourselves but it's important that we make the time not just when our body is telling us it needs attention! Naturally the best steps you can take to support yourself any time of the year are the ones that fit easiest into your lifestyle, to ensure you will continue to do them! I shop at Walmart for my on-hand proactive health support aids, such as Metamucil, and of course I get all my fresh oranges, honey, garlic, and more there too!

I've shared some of my favorite tips to keep up with a busy lifestyle, how do you support immune health?

Oven-Roasted Orange Chicken With Fennel- High in antioxidants and Vitamin C- Serve over our Green Tea Rice recipe! #24HourEsterC #ad
Oven Roasted Orange Chicken And Fennel
***Click here for printable Orange Chicken and Fennel recipe.

4 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Diced Cloves Honey Garlic
4 TBS Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
3 Oranges, Sliced Horizontally (1/4" Slices)
3 TBS Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Grain Mustard (Such as German or Stone Ground)
3 TBS Brown Sugar
1 TSP Salt
1 1/2 TSP Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (Cut to 1/2lb Sections)
2 Medium Fennel Bulbs, Rinsed And Cut Into 6ths
1 TBS Fresh Chopped Thyme Leaves
1. Combine Olive Oil, Orange Juice, Lemon Juice, Mustard, Brown Sugar, Salt and Pepper in a medium bowl.
2. Rinse and pat dry chicken and place in a large gallon sized bag. Add fennel wedges, orange slices, thyme, and fennel. Pour marinade over and seal bag tightly, gently massaging to combine and coat all ingredients. Refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 475F.
4. Place the chicken in the center of a 9 x 13" casserole dish. Distribute fennel wedges and orange slices evenly around chicken. You may add some halved baby red potatoes for bulk- but I prefer to serve this with my Green Tea Rice. Pour the marinade juices over the chicken and fennel/slices.
5. Place in the oven, uncovered and roast 40-45 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and transfer chicken, fennel, and orange slices to a serving dish. Cover with foil to keep warm.
7. Pour cooking juices into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup. Pour over the chicken and serve over a bed of potatoes or green tea rice.

White Cheddar Bacon Hasselback Potatoes Recipe + New Dinner Hacks

#LeaveBlandBehind with delicious recipe free cooking thanks to NEW McCormick Seasoning Blends- Try these White Cheddar Bacon Hasselback Potatoes tonight! #AD
Have you ever noticed some of the best family recipes are passed down by mouth, without any real written directions or ingredients at all? Every family has at least one. You know, the recipe that only those lucky enough to have spent time in Nana's kitchen with Nana preparing can really replicate.

Their composition may be so deeply shrouded in mystery on the pretense of a secret ingredient, or a lively tale that dates beyond family written records- But you and I know the recipe will never be written down, or found on a card, or in a book simply because it's true success is not based on fine measurements or elaborate steps; rather a secret family cooking trick, or that one ingredient substitute you'd never think to try. Recipes that can easily be made with what one has on hand, and through pinches and handfuls of measurements.

Yes, the amazing cooking can be recipe-free and impressively flavorful when you know the right hacks to make a little magic happen.
Of course every magician needs a few powerful tools in their bag of tricks- which is precisely where NEW McCormick Pasta Seasoning Blends come in to play. Available in White Cheddar Mac n' Cheese, Sundried Tomato Basil, and Parmesan Alfredo these bold and flavorful seasons go beyond your typical spice rack hacks to bring delicious sauces to life (just add milk and butter) or to season up any freestyle dish with simply a few shakes. They're made without artificial flavors or colors and are easily located with the traditional cooking spices at your local Walmart.
One of my personal favorite 'recipe free' dishes, and family favorite, are Hasselback Potatoes. It's a dish that looks quite impressive, but can easily be pulled off with minimal ingredients and simple knife trick. I used to rely on a multi-step seasoning process for my potatoes but recently simplified my recipe even further by swapping out all other spices and seasonings in this recipe for McCormick White Cheddar Mac n' Cheese Pasta Seasoning.With it's bold aged cheddar flavor I don't need to fuss with anything else- I can dig right into preparing this delicious dish. Simply gather your favorite block of cheddar cheese, green onions, baking potatoes, a stick of butter, and some bacon.
We usually have pre-cooked bacon on hand at all times- but this is a recipe I especially like making a fresh batch for. You can customize your flavor and textures here by choosing the type of bacon your family most prefers- I typically go with a Hickory Center/Thick Cut. Half your bacon and place it in a single layer on a foil lined sheet and bake just until it begins to crisp at 350F. Then carefully remove your bacon and gently blot between double layered paper towels.
Next, crumble your bacon over a medium sized bowl and sprinkle about 2 tsp McCormick White Cheddar Pasta Seasoning (or really as much as you'd prefer) onto your bacon crumbles. Toss the crumbles in the seasoning until each piece has a light white coat, and set aside.
Prepare your green onions by dicing the greens, while you let your oven preheat to a new temperature of 450F. If you prefer a slightly different palette feel free to substitute the green onions with finer, more delicate, chives.
Wash and pat dry your potatoes with a paper towel or clean cloth. Inspect your spuds for any wayward eyes, and remove as necessary.

Beginning with one potato, on a cutting board, cut a thin, lengthwise, slice off of the bottom of each potato so as to create a flat surface for each to rest on. Next comes yet another genius cooking hack- one intended to make you look like a culinary artist without any special tools or skills.

Place 2 wooden utensils on opposite sides of a potato, on a cutting board. At a slight diagonal angle cut 20-24 slits into the potato, stopping when the knife hits the spoons. Repeat with remaining potatoes.
Place prepared potatoes on a microwave safe dish and microwave on HIGH for 12-14 minutes, or until potatoes are near tender. Remove from microwave and place on lightly greased, foil lined, pan.
Combine remaining McCormick White Cheddar Pasta Seasoning and melted butter and brush over the top of each potato, paying special attention to allow the mixture to permeate the cut seams. Bake potatoes for 15 MINS, or until tender. Remove from oven.
Your potatoes should be well cooked, and the McCormick White Cheddar Pasta Seasoning will have made a wonderful cheese like crust along the skin of your potatoes' ridges. Each slice should now easily peel apart, though the potato itself will maintain enough structure to still be handled.
#LeaveBlandBehind with delicious recipe free cooking thanks to NEW McCormick Seasoning Blends- Try these White Cheddar Bacon Hasselback Potatoes tonight! #AD
Carefully insert bacon pieces alternatively with cheese slices. Be careful, the potatoes will be hot! Use a fork as needed to gently pry apart the potato slices. Sprinkle with McCormick White Cheddar Pasta Seasoning if desired and top with green onions. Return potatoes to the oven (broiler or top rack) for 2-3 minutes, or until topping has melted and begins to lightly brown. Remove from heat, cut in half, and serve.
#LeaveBlandBehind with delicious recipe free cooking thanks to NEW McCormick Seasoning Blends- Try these White Cheddar Bacon Hasselback Potatoes tonight! #AD
#LeaveBlandBehind with delicious recipe free cooking thanks to NEW McCormick Seasoning Blends- Try these White Cheddar Bacon Hasselback Potatoes tonight! #AD
Potatoes are a classic sidekick for many meals, and bacon-cheese covered potatoes rarely get better than this- Each slice not only oozes cheesy-bacon flavor but this beautiful dish is a sight to behold and is full of complex cheesy flavor thanks the addition of McCormick White Cheddar Pasta Seasoning. I especially love that I was able to cut any added salt out of this recipe, without a single complaint on flavor. We'll definitely be exploring the NEW McCormick Pasta Seasoning Blends even further- I've got a mind to try some homemade Parmesan Alfredo burger patties this weekend!

It's not always easy to find time for recipe books and precision cooking- why not try stepping outside your comfort zone with a little freestyle cooking thanks to the big flavor power of NEW McCormick Seasoning Blends? Do you have a family recipe that is passed down only by mouth, and learning?

#LeaveBlandBehind with delicious recipe free cooking thanks to NEW McCormick Seasoning Blends- Try these White Cheddar Bacon Hasselback Potatoes tonight! #AD
White Cheddar Bacon Hasselback Potatoes
***Click here for printable White Cheddar Bacon Hasselback Potatoes recipe

How To Update Your Cat's Furniture (Successfully)

Truffles received product from Smiling Paws Pets for her consideration in the aiding of this article; regardless, all content, opinions, and photos contained below remain genuine to that of the cat and writer.
Simple tips to help transition your home into a more stylish pet furniture space. #AD
Anyone who's ever been owned by a cat knows that sharing a space with a feline can be a real challenge.

As humans we're limited to the space we can claim, and therefor out furnishings are generally limited to floor space. Cats, however, understand the only limit to where they can lounge, is where they will fit. (And, even then, there are some times where this rule goes out the window.)

If your brand new laptop is warm and smooth, it's the perfect napping spot- even better if the hard drive is humming with gentle vibrations and the keyboard is exposed offering a memory-foam like experience. If that cake carrier you just pulled out for your baking project is open and in jumping height, score- brand new cat bed. And when you've just spend several hours carefully organizing your holiday figurines for seasonal display on the mantle- it's suddenly the best view in the house.
You can't blame indoor cats, really- your home is the extent of their universe and it's only natural to want to scale and explore it as much as possible over time. And, it's not like you bothered learning to speak cat, so don't expect them to understand the finer points of English instructions such as "I just spend $2k on this new computer, please don't sit on it," or "It's hard to sleep when you're giving yourself an oral bath 4 inches from my face at night."

Yes, living in a cat's world can seem complicated at times but there are ways you can slowly begin to regain some of their space as your own again. Start by selectively integrating a few key pieces of pet furniture into inconspicuous places around their home. Since most felines are quite picky convertible furniture such as the 2-In-1 Cat Cube and Bed from Smiling Paws Pets is the perfect secret weapon to lure your cat away from their favorite hiding spot in your laundry basket/suitcase/kitchen cupboard.
When I first saw the 2-In-1 Cat Cube and Bed I thought, 'Genius! A soft warm, box! May cat is going to love this!' and promptly unpacked it and presented it to Truffles.

As a special thanks Truffles promptly returned the gesture by ignoring it entirely for several days. Well, not quite ignore it- she actually spent a fair amount of time lounging in the sun, on the floor and couch around the Cat Cube, perhaps purely to taunt me.

Whatever the reason, I decided the bed had been in 'her' territory long enough to be unassuming and have gathered some of her environment's natural scent. Taking advantage of the smart '2-In'1' feature of this unique bed I pulled the plush inner pillow out, smashed the top into the bottom and 'Viola!' instant open air car bed. I quickly tossed the pillow in the middle of the bed, and scurried away before the cat was any wiser.

The very next time I walked past my living room the 2-In-1 Cat Cube from Smiling Paws Pets had been definitely claimed by my feline housemate. In fact, Truffles seemed so content with her new property discovery that she refused to move for any of the traditional 'cat calls' such as rustling bags, the refrigerator opening, or a window being opened.
The 2-In-1 Cat Cube and Bed from Smiling Paws Pets works as an open air traditional pet bed, or a soft, wam, box for your cat to lounge in. #AD
Needless to say I was ecstatic the stylish denim pet bed was at last fulfilling it's intended purpose as cat furniture rather than simply decor. Thanks to it's sturdy material this bed is entirely machine washable, and the luxury sherpa pillow offers a warm and comfortable napping experience that surely is steps above my laptop keyboard.
The 2-In-1 Cat Cube and Bed from Smiling Paws Pets works as an open air traditional pet bed, or a soft, wam, box for your cat to lounge in. #AD
I wanted to convert the bed back into a cube, because I was certain Truffles would enjoy 'cube mode' even more than traditional bed mode- but left the bed as it was for several days to accumulate more of that 'cat ownership scent' that would help it seem less foreign once converted. I did, however, decide once I flipped the bed back into a cube again I would pull the sherpa pillow out to allow our 9lb cat more room to comfortably stretch and 'nest' inside.
Acclimating a cat to new furniture is a process that should be done over several days, if not weeks- remember that a cat's world is relatively small and any change can seem quite big. Cats, by nature, are curious but not necessarily quick to trust. And the less fuss you express over a change the quicker they will be able to accept it on their own, as something that is normal.

While you wait for your cat to acclimate to their new bed you might want to upgrade your home decor with a stylish DIY such as our Cat Scratcher Vase tutorial. Integrating cat friendly features into existing home decor is a great way to compromise a pro-feline environment with human design flair.
I wish I could say the exact moment things turned in Truffles mind- but in all honesty how I discovered she'd 'claimed' the cube as her own was on accident. In fact I spent a good portion of time tearing up the house looking for her before thinking to look in the pet bed I'd actually bought FOR her. As they say, the rest is history, folks.

Truffles loves her 2-In-1 Cat Cube And Bed from Smiling Paws Pets so much she wakes up every morning and migrates from the foot of my bed directly to the cube. Aside from a few hours of sun bathing in the afternoon, and some loud conversations with the local birds at sunset, she spends the majority of her day curled up content in the cube.

More recently I managed to sneak the sherpa 'pillow' into the bottom, and she seems to have found the upgrade quite agreeable.
Balancing style while sharing a home with a cat can seem tricky.

No matter how awesome the furniture is you buy for your cat there will always be those days where your arm, while typing- or the empty fruit bowl on the dining table just seems more logical. Shop stylish and smart multi-purpose pet innovations online with Smiling Paws Pets (they have stuff for dogs, too!) and give your cat plenty of time to decide they brought their new favorite bed/toy/accessory into the home, not you. For more smart pet innovations for your home follow Smiling Paws Pets on Instagram and Facebook- look for their new Litter Trapper Mat to be back in stock soon!