Category Archives: Healthy Kids and Families

Heart Health Freebie

While reading my grocery store flyer for the week I noticed that Kroger-owned stores are offering a free promotion for February’s Heart Health month. You can schedule a free cholesterol, blood sugar, BMI, and blood pressure screening at your local store. Go online to see if there is a location near you! I scheduled my 15 minute appointment on Valentine’s Day, which I am following up with a trip to the dentist — LOL.

Mining for Wellness Money

When January rolls around I do two things: I look for deals on natural and healthy foods as I mentioned in my last post, and I log in to our health insurance to see what financial incentives are available when we make healthy lifestyle changes.

It took me no more than 30 minutes to:

  • Take their Wellness Assessment questionnaire for which they deposited $50.00 into a debit card I can use to pay for co-pays and other medical expenses.  My wellness score was higher/better than last year, so that was a nice surprise! My buds and can also earn $ 50.00.
  • Review other computer-based health coaching opportunities that pay $30-40.00. These are online check-in programs for things like asthma, high blood pressure, etc.
  • Take note that this year they have offered each family member 2 free “tele doc” visits (online medical consultations) for things such as dermatology, allergy, mental health, nutritional counseling, and general medical concerns.  I definitely will take advantage of this because it saves a $ 30-40.00 copay, plus the stress of trying to get out of work and get to the doctor for an appointment.
  • Quickly check to make sure that our prescription prices haven’t changed in the new benefit year.

It’s kind of amusing to me how my husband and I both have money-saving areas where we excel… for him it is getting the best price on cable/streaming TV, taking surveys, and maximizing Amazon subscribe and save prices.  Utilizing our wellness benefits is one of my specialties!

Does your health insurance have wellness benefits?



April Goals

Inspired by Laura Beth over at Hot Shot Headlines, I felt a post about monthly goals brewing.

dfbb2bab2fe032d4f537560224c6ffabBoost plant based vegetarian meals

DH and I used to be vegetarians, and I had a vegetarian pregnancy as well.  Somewhere in the sleepless days of having a toddler (10 years ago!) we went back to a more animal-based diet.  I have just finished reading “The End of Heart Disease” by Dr Joel Fuhrman and I am feeling convicted about increasing the amount of plant based, whole  foods meals.

Professional Reading

This month I am reading the acclaimed book for young adults “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas and I would like to get to “Merlin” by TA Barron which is the selection for the Andrew Luck (“the librarian of the NFL”) Book Club.


Lose 2 pounds and crank up steps on Fitbit to 11,000 on Sat and Sun.  I do better during the work week when I am shelving books all day.


Set aside a date to celebrate our debt-free anniversary later this month.  Begin hatching a plan to celebrate DHs birthday.  DD and I would like to take him on a surprise day to celebrate his awesomeness.


Day to day finances are in good shape.  Begin costing out expense to go to York, England, next year.  International travel is scary expensive for a family not willing to go into debt to travel.

How is your April looking?


Chance Encounter

dfbb2bab2fe032d4f537560224c6ffabToday my daughter and I were at the car dealer for an oil change.  We had just stopped at the library for some books to entertain us, and I was reading Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook “Jerusalem.”  All of his books are beautiful, inspiring, and have recipes that work.  I digress…

An older woman came over to inquire about the delicious looking recipes.  She told me she was 84 (could have passed for 72 in my opinion) and she had been married to a man who was both a pharmacist and a medical doctor.  Ottolenghi’s recipes are based heavily on Mediterranean ingredients, and that got my new friend dispensing advice on healthful living.  Her thoughts:

  • Why does the YMCA have vending machines that are filled with chips and snacks?
  • Get rid of the salt shaker; her husband promoted garlic powder and onion powder
  • Follow a Mediterranean style of eating – lots of veg
  • Sugar – be careful
  • Buy Trader Joes frozen zucchini and eggplant for an easy veg side
  • The food of her European ancestors killed them (carb heavy, fat heavy, rich)
  • If you can’t grow your own herbs, it is worth it to pay for them in the grocery store.  They are cheap compared to the pharmaceuticals you need for Diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol.

When I have a chance encounter like this, I try to really hear what the person is saying.  I do believe that there are people who come into our lives that we have something to learn from.  We bought that zucchini and eggplant from TJs, and I am reading a little about Mediterranean eating.  I think it could be a sustainable way of eating, especially as I teeter on the mid-life changes in my body.

Jazzercise, Everything Old is New Again

When I say ‘Jazzercise’ … are you old enough to have images of spandex thong leotards, LA Gear high top tennis shoes, and scrunch socks?  Or worse, Richard Simmons in those REALLY SHORT running shorts!

Me too.  Hey, I even had a ‘Vic Tanny’ membership back in high school!

This morning I took a free sample Jazzercise class and really enjoyed it!  I am finishing my 5K running class at church in a few weeks, but I don’t think I will be running much in winter.  Too dark, icy, and cold where I live.

I have been motivated to find a exercise outlet for fall on a few levels.  It’s really beneficial for me to do something a few times a week that is just for me and helps me cultivate some interests outside of “mom duties.”  I also want to do good things for my bones, as I know I am on the osteopenia spectrum and activities that put force on your bones build bone!  Finally, I have read that one of the best things you can do in perimenopause is exercise to relieve symptoms.

The women in the class were generally older than me, some by quite a lot.  The class was 55 minutes – about 45 cardio/dance and the remaining time strength training.  The instructor is also a 6th grade teacher and is pregnant!  In my neighborhood Jazzercise is three times a day, and you can drop in anytime you want and as much as you want.  Love that convenience.

The workout was excellent.  Prepare for sweat.  I came home, took a shower, and I think I was still sweating.  Seriously!  I liked the fact that it included strength training (weights) because that is something I will generally avoid doing otherwise. I have also tried Zumba and like that as well, though for me personally, Jazzercise was a more vigorous workout.

When I got home, my DD asked me with confusion, “Why are there so many dishes in the sink?!”  And that, my friends, is also a reason for mom to get out of the house regularly 🙂

If you are curious about Jazzercise, check out some of the videos on Youtube.




Letting Go of Summer

IMG_4001-privateIt seems it wasn’t that many posts ago that I was trying to get into the slower pace of summer, and here I am wishing for just another week or two to spend with my daughter lounging around watching American Girl movies or reading on the couch.  It’s not that we don’t do these things the rest of the year, but when school starts back up, it feels like you have added another person to the family — one who has an insatiable appetite for reading minutes to be logged and spelling words to be practiced.

We relished an easy summer day today… no coupons, no grocery stores, no dry-cleaning stops.  We went to the beach at 9:00 am, had lunch at Subway, and watched episodes of the cartoon ‘Arthur’ in the afternoon until my legs started to go numb from sitting so long.  As grateful as I am for our New Mexico vacation and other summer excursions that required money, it’s the simple, easy days that I crave.  Days with no purpose other than hanging out together.

This weekend I need to get in gear with a meal plan and groceries for brown-bag lunches (groan), but I hope I can pack these chores into an hour or two, and then get back to banking a few more hours of lazy family time before September comes calling.

Summer Minestrone Soup

When life gives you basil.... and zucchini...  and beans...

When life gives you basil…. and zucchini… and beans…

This recipe is adapted from the wonderful book Love Soup: 160 All-New Vegetarian Recipes from the Author of The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas.  It is a great way to make a dent in your garden veggies.  The recipe is super flexible.  Free free to use ingredients you have or prefer.

Serves 6

1 can drained and rinsed beans, such as garbanzo or kidney

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 TBSP cooking oil

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1/4 cup diced carrots

1/4 cup diced celery

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1 cup green beans, cut in 1 inch pieces

1 1/2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes

2 cups sliced or diced zucchini, any color

2 cups water

3 cups stock (chicken, vegetable, whatever you have)

1/4 cup basil leaves, torn or cut into strips

1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, rough chop

OPTIONAL:  Small pasta like ditalini, red chili pepper flakes, 2 inch piece parmesan cheese rind to flavor soup, lemon slices or olive oil to garnish

In your soup pot, saute the chopped onion in oil with a sprinkle of salt over medium heat until translucent.  Add garlic and saute briefly.

You can also do 4 hours in a Crock Pot

You can also do 4 hours in a Crock Pot

Add water and stock to the onion mixture in your soup pot.  Add beans, carrots, celery, red pepper, green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, and parmesan cheese rind if using.  Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.  Add parsley, basil, and a pinch of red chili pepper flakes if using.  If the soup seems too thick, add additional stock.  Cover and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.  Taste and add additional salt if needed.  Remove cheese rind.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil or a squeeze of lemon if you like.

Bon appétit!

A Frugal Day Off


Spring Morning at Home

My part-time job does not need me in today, so I am making the best of an un-paid day by having a frugal spring day at home.  At breakfast I mentioned we were having veg curry for dinner – the family said they already knew because they read the blog!

  • Started the day by making lunches for daughter and husband.  Since I was off today daughter was able to have a hot thermos lunch.
  • Walked daughter to school
  • Washed the winter sidewalk salt out of our “waterhog” backdoor rug so it will last for many more years.
  • Ran out of window cleaner and made my own using rubbing alcohol, a drop of Dawn, vinegar and water.  Works great!  My bathroom mirrors are beautiful.
  • Making the last of the home-made birthday treats for my husband to take to work.  Will bake them tonight when Time of Use Rate kicks in.  I will also bake the potatoes for tomorrow’s dinner at the same time.
  • Called the pediatrician’s office to fix a bill.  They billed us for a well-child co-pay and our insurance does not require one.  + $ 25.00
  • I won 24 Kind fruit and nut bars on a blog giveaway at Real Mom Nutrition – If you are interested in kids and health, you might enjoy this blog as I do.
  • Speaking of kids’ health, tonight is “Weight of the Nation for Kids”  on HBO or streaming on the Weight of the Nation website.  See previous post for details.  Let me know if you catch the show.

Hope you are enjoying your day today.  Planning anything frugal for this week?

‘Weight of the Nation for Kids’ Starts Tuesday

Last year at this time HBO films ran their 4-part series on “The Weight of the Nation.”  I watched it several times and found it to be both inspirational and a wake-up call.  The films from last year are streaming for free on the HBO website and are also available for free on Amazon Instant Video (click image at right).  For me, the most compelling episode was Part 3: Children in Crisis.

Next Tuesday, May 7, the series returns with “The Weight of the Nation for Kids.”   The three new shows will show young people actively improving their health and the health of their communities. All of the segments will air for free online at: or check your HBO listings.  In my area the new series will be shown on HBO as three episodes back-to-back on Tuesday after school.

Coming Next week: a healthy kid-friendly menu plan in honor of the show and reflections on feeding our families healthfully and frugally.

Have you seen ‘The Weight of the Nation’?  Love to hear your thoughts!