Tag Archives: new year

To a Healthy New Year!

 

 

Hello readers!  As we begin a brand-new year, 2017, we tend to look back on the previous year to learn from it.  We make lists of “bests” and “worsts”, and reflect on all we have or have not done.  While many people feel that 2016 was a terrible year, and are worried about what 2017 will bring, there is so much to be thankful for instead.

2016 was the year in which I got married to the world’s best man and my best friend during a wonderful family and love filled week in the Smoky Mountains, traveled to Europe for the first time for an amazing once in a lifetime Mediterranean cruise, and moved across the country to my dream location and bought our very first home together! What a year!

Think back on all the memories with your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, random strangers. Cherish all the growth you have done as a person, and accomplishments big and small. And whether you make resolutions or not, there is much to learn about how we can continue to improve, individually and as a nation.

Be curious, be kind, to others and yourself. Do small acts of kindness, without expecting recognition or reward. Make the world a better place than when you found it, and the universe will pay it back to you in happiness.

Oh, and check out the Top 10 Posts of 2016!

10. Simple sauteed power greens — this is one of my favorite simple side dishes that packs a healthy punch. I make this all the time with whatever greens I have, currently I’m obsessed with collard greens (does it have to do with moving to the south? maybe) and jalapenos.

9. Salsa Chicken Soup – a total classic, this soup is warming and filling, and when you use all canned ingredients plus a slow cooker it is a total breeze! People will think you spent hours simmering this, when in reality it takes less than 10 minutes to whip up. MMMmmm.

8. Twice the wine for half the calories! — A sneaky trick for making your vino last longer, and letting you indulge more without the guilt. Yes please!

7. Homemade energy drink mix – while excess caffeine is not something I endorse, sometimes you just need a little kick in the pants and aren’t in the mood for coffee. Customizable to whatever flavor you prefer.

6. Frugal Last-Minute Gift Ideas — I’ve a suspicion that Christmas time always nudges this post up just enough to make the top 10! But there are also great ideas on there for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Birthdays too.

5. What are Vitamins? – Good knowledge to have in hand, I tried to clarify some common questions.

4. Ginger-Peach Slow Cooker Chicken — Slow cooker recipes are always popular, for good reason! Slow cookers are amazing, and so is this sweet, tender chicken recipe.

3. Breastfeeding: All about it – I’m honestly a bit surprised this one made the top 3, but sure. I’m glad people are at least interested in learning more! Breastfeeding is a great step for a healthy, happy baby.

2. Grapefruitcello — Popular from the start, making your own infused alcohols is a fun hobby to take up. It is way easier than you may think, don’t be scared! Try any flavor infusion you want and see what happens.

1. One-Pan Buffalo Chicken Potato Bake – This recipe definitely deserves its #1 status! It is supremely simple, surprisingly healthy, and a total crowd pleaser. I may make this again one night this week…

 

And there you have it, ten highlights of the blog from 2016. If you have another post that was your favorite, or one you would like to see in 2017, please post here or email me anytime! Here’s to a happy healthy epicurious New Year!

 

Welcome to 2016!

 

Happy New Year dear readers!

Time goes by so quickly, does it not?  Now is the time to reflect back on 2015, and look ahead to 2016.  What good things happened last year?  What do you want more of in your life this year?  Now is the time to assess what worked and what didn’t, and what changes need to be made to make your life more of what you want it to be.

As you reflect on the past 365 days, assess all the areas of your life: health, finances, and relationships.

HEALTH

Health can include your general fitness level, your diet, how often and what types of exercise you do, your visits to any doctors or dentists.  Do you see a general practitioner for a once yearly physical exam?  Do you see a dentist for cleanings every 6 months?

Take an honest look at your diet, your snacks, “grazing”, portion sizes.  No one will know but you so there’s no reason to not be honest.  How closely does your current diet over the past year reflect your ideal eating habits?

What steps can you take to improve this year?

FINANCES

Finances should cover how much you make from your main job and/or business, income from other side jobs or seasonal jobs, income from investments, as well as outgoing money.

How much do you spend per year, per month?  What do you spend your money on?  Can you lower any fixed expenses, negotiate a better payment on your cell phone, rent, utilities, or a better bank rate if your credit improved?  Can you take on a side job, baby sit, start a blog?

I recommend hitting the library and taking out finance books, or reading finance blogs. There is a HUGE wealth of information out there to help, no matter what your situation.  Whatever the problem, credit card debt, school loan payments, default, bankruptcy, divorce, or just general money management, you don’t have to figure it out alone.

RELATIONSHIPS

As for relationships, this spans everything from work to friends to family to spirituality.  And most importantly, your relationship with yourself.

If you have family members with whom you do not have a good relationship, ask yourself why.  What can you do to mend those relationships?  Do you need to forgive, or ask for forgiveness?  Do you need to show compassion or interest?

Are you happy with your current friends?  If not, think of ways to bring the kind of people you want to be around into your life.  Maybe you could join a book club or sports group, or hang out in libraries or take a dance lesson.

Do you love yourself?  Do you know what makes you happy, and take the time to do those things?  When you are fulfilled and happy and joyful, you are more able to give and love others.

 

My 2016 Resolution?

I have decided I will challenge myself to not buy any pantry staples for the month of January.  At first, I thought about trying to live solely from what I already have in the house, but then after discussing with Mister Epicurean, I realized we need certain staples that basically must be bought fresh.  Mostly yogurts (which he goes through about 7-10 per week), milk/creamer, and fresh veggies.  I can rely heavily on frozen and canned produce this month, but I do like having fresh salads and adding things like avocado to burritos.

Therefore, the challenge this month would be to meal plan and cook out of my freezer & pantry, and to have only $20 per week of “fresh” foods budget.  Our average food budget monthly is $400, so to cut that down to 1/5 is pretty great!  Of course, that $400 usually includes “stock up” purchases, such as when canned beans were on sale last week for $0.49, and I bought a case.

This challenge has several purposes:

  • Help clear out space in the freezer & pantry
  • Evaluate what I buy too much of, or not enough of
  • Challenge my creativity in making meals
  • Save us significant money on groceries

By doing a pantry-clear-out challenge, it will help me to realize I have a lot more food hiding in plain sight that I thought. We all have those half-boxes of pasta, a can of corn shoved behind something else, some spices or condiments bought for a recipe but never used, or used once.  Now is the time to reach back into all the dark corners of the cupboards, and down to the bottom of the freezer, and see what can be used.

This month will also help me to see what I have stocked up on far too much, and what we use more often than I thought that I could consider stocking more of.  For example, if I think I have more than enough canned tomatoes, and we run out by week 2, I will know that going forward.  Or if I count 20 boxes of pasta to begin with, and at the end of the month we still have 19, then I should probably stop buying so much pasta when it’s on sale.

The final two points go together well, in that creativity saves you money.  Like I mentioned earlier, the half-used ingredients?  Figure out a way to combine them into one meal, and you have not only saved food from being throw out (which creates waste, takes calories out of the food system in a way that helps no one, and is basically like setting dollars on fire), but you also have created an almost-free meal.  If you never used those ingredients, they would be wasted. Instead, you have eaten again for the same amount of money you already spent & had in the house.

So, this is the challenge, which started on Jan 1st.  No stocking up, no matter how good the sale, and only $20 per week maximum towards fresh dairy & produce.  I won’t even be buying any meat, I will be using what I have in the freezer.  Good thing I just recently cleaned it out & reorganized.

Wish me luck!

 

How about you, any goals for 2016?  Any Resolutions for this year?  Feel free to share your goals & progress!

 

Vanilla White Russians

 

In anticipation of the upcoming New Year, I wanted to share this recipe for a twist on the classic White Russian.

“Common knowledge” dictates that one not ever drink milk with alcoholic beverages. That extends to pretty much any dairy product. I believe this is due to fear of it curdling in one’s stomach? Or perhaps the extra unpleasantness should it find its way back up.

Whatever the reason, the White Russian looks at that rule and laughs. Milk and alcohol dance a lively jig together on your taste buds, with sugar and coffee joining in. I highly recommend this uber-simple yet totally classy beverage for your bell-dropping soiree!

Made infamous by “the Dude” in the movie “The Big Lebowski“, this three-ingredient hard-hitting cocktail is like dessert in a glass.  Classically only three ingredients: vodka, Khalua, and heavy cream. Variations include different types of liquor, addition of chocolate, or as the Dude uses, powdered creamer (not recommending that route).

This particular variation I made because I happened to have Patron cafe rather than Khalua. Since Khalua is a coffee-flavored rum-based liquor, I figured a different coffee-flavored liquor would work just as well! And I do love the smooth taste of Patron, so I figured why not go for it?

And I also do not buy heavy cream, but did have some french vanilla coffee creamer. What a perfect cherry on top! (Speaking of, I bet something cherry, like amaretto or Disaronno, would also make a phenomenal addition!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup creamer
  • 1 oz Patron cafe
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 3-5 ice cubes

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Step 1: Fill a glass with a few ice cubes.

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Step 2: Pour about half a cup of creamer (or milk, or heavy cream) into the glass.

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Step 3: Add in one shot each of the Patron cafe and vodka.

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Stir it and and sip! This lightly coffee, hint of vanilla, just a tingle of liquor beverage goes down smooth. Watch yourself, just like real Russians these can be dangerous!

 

If you do choose to indulge in adult beverages, please have a designated driver and get home safely. Happy 2015 everyone!