Easy Changes for Health – Kefir Smoothies

kefir smoothie


My favorite way to get healthy is to make small changes that add up for a larger impact.  I’m not inclined to sign myself up for a marathon, but I have started walking nearly every morning.

It’s unlikely that I’ll do a complete overhaul of my eating habits (although I did try the Whole 30 once).  I’d rather make small changes that are easier to keep up with.

One of those things is adding kefir to my snack rotation.

What the heck is kefir, you may ask?

First, let me just say that it actually tastes pretty good.  The description I’m about to give you may turn you off of trying it, but stick with me.  Despite the description, I do enjoy these smoothies and I think you will too.

Kefir is fermented milk.  It’s a little like a thin, drinkable yogurt, but it’s not yogurt.  It’s possible to make kefir at home, but I haven’t tried that.  Instead, I buy Lifeway brand.

lifeway kefir


I’ve found it at Walmart, Meijer, Costco and Aldi.  Aldi has the best price on the quart size bottles.  Costco carries the individual bottles at a price just a bit more than Aldi.  (This post isn’t sponsored, by the way.  I’m just sharing a product I’m loving.)

Kefir comes in plain or various berry flavors.  I prefer the flavored.  Actually, I’m not brave enough to try the plain.  I even add to the sweetness of the berry flavor by blending half a frozen banana with it.  Of course, the flavored varieties aren’t quite as healthy as the plain, but I think it’s a lot healthier for me.  The reason, is I’d never drink the plain, so I’d miss out on the health benefits altogether.  At least with the flavored type, I get all the good probiotics and other goodness, even if it does come with a bit of added sugar.

Benefits of kefir

Because it’s fermented, kefir is full of probiotics – many more than are found in yogurt.  This is a real boost for gut health, but it also brings a lot of other benefits too.

This article goes into more details on the benefits, but here’s a quick list for you.

~ The probiotics are good for you gut and can help restore good bacteria after illness.  It’s also good for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

~ It boosts your immunity to viruses and infections.

~ It builds bone density.

~ Some studies show it helps both allergies and asthma.

~ People who are lactose intolerant can usually drink kefir with no problem.  In fact, there’s evidence to show that it will help people who deal with that.

~ There have been lab studies that show kefir fights cancer in animals.

~ There are only about 100 calories per cup.

It’s been easy to swap out my morning or afternoon snack for a kefir smoothie instead.  I just blend half a frozen banana with 1 cup of kefir.  If I don’t have the banana already frozen, I add a cube or two of ice to the blender.  Easy!

I’d love to know if you’ve tried kefir and what you think of it! 




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Oreck Steam-It Giveaway!

I have wanted a steam mop for a while now.  We recently had the grout on our tile floors in the kitchen and entry way color sealed.  The grout was stained and it drove me crazy.  Color sealing it made it look new again.

The only problem was that it has to be cleaned with water only.  No cleaners. No vinegar.  Just water.

There are 6 people living in this house, not to mention neighbor kids and others who come in and out.  And I’m in the kitchen cooking a lot too.  There is no way that water only with a regular mop was going to get it for us.

So when I got the chance to try the Oreck Steam-It, I was very excited.  Is it crazy to get excited about a mop?

I love this thing!  The floors looks great.  Even the bathroom floors that still have stained grout look great.  The grout isn’t perfect, but it’s so much cleaner than it was.

The steam mop is easy to use and light weight.  You fill it with a small funnel:

After you put the water in, turn the Steam-It on and it heats in less than a minute.

There are two different mop covers – a fuzzy, fluffy one and a less fuzzy one.  (How’s that for descriptive?)  I like the fluffy one, because I feel like it gets into the grooves of the grout better.  I’ve gotten great results with both though.

I debated on showing you this picture, because it makes it look like we’re a family of pigs living in this house, but here’s what the mop cover looked like after doing all the floors in the house.  And I didn’t think they were *that* dirty, but it shows that the Steam-It really is cleaning the floors.  This was the second time we used the Steam-It.  Each time, I think the floors get cleaner and cleaner, which is a good feeling.

The mop cover may look nasty, but my floors look amazing!  And I love that the covers can be thrown in the wash.  They come out looking clean again too.

Did I mention that I love this steam mop?

You can use the steam mop on other types of flooring too.  I’ve used it on our vinyl floors as well.  And I even steamed the top of my glass top stove.  The photos of that didn’t come out very well, but it did make the stove top look fantastic.

Oreck is going to give a Steam-It to one of you!

The winner must reside in the U.S. 48 contiguous states.  Giveaway closes on Friday night 7/13.  Winner chosen by random drawing (using And the Winner Is…plugin).

Mandatory first entry:  Visit Oreck.com and tell us one thing you learned about the Steam-It.

Optional second entry: Follow Oreck on Facebook.

Disclosure: I was given a Steam-It steam mop to try by Oreck.  All opinions are my own.  Oreck Corporation provided the prize for the sweepstakes but is not the sponsor of the sweepstakes.


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Soap Suds and Dirty Dishes

Being in the kitchen isn’t all about cooking.

There’s the clean up too.

And the messy hands from dealing with raw chicken or onions or any number of other ingredients used in a recipe.

When Lysol asked me to try out their new No Touch Kitchen System, I was happy to do so! I liked the idea of not having to pick up the soap bottle when my hands had just been in meatloaf mix.

It works just like the no-touch systems found in some public bathrooms. Put your hands under the sensor and a squirt of soap is dispensed. The kids thought this was fantastic!

I also used the No Touch Kitchen System for washing a sink full of dishes. Grab a dirty spoon or plate and let it trigger the dispenser, then run it under hot water. It’s a lot less messy than picking up the soap bottle with wet hands.

Lysol is giving away a No Touch Kitchen System with a year supply of soap!  [Read more…]

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All I Want for Christmas is… Holiday Gift Ideas for Eat at Home Cooks

I firmly believe you do not need the latest and greatest in kitchen equipment to be a good cook.  However, there are a few essentials and some fun items that are nice to own.  Since Christmas is coming, I thought I’d share some ideas with you.

Stand Mixer

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KitchenAid 4-1/2-Quart Stand Mixer is very similar to the one I’ve had for 18 years.  Mine is still going strong. I use it several times a week.  It was a huge splurge (one of the only black friday items Jim has ever purchased) but it was so worth it.  Right now on Amazon the black mixer is $50 less than the white.  That could change quickly,
but that’s a great savings.

Pizza Steel

dough joe pizza steel

I ordered the Dough-Joe pizza steel last winter and it has been such a fun purchase!  This thing make awesome homemade pizza.  It transformed our pizza nights.  The pizza steel goes in the oven and the temp gets cranked as hot as it will go.  Pizzas bake in about 6 minutes and the crust is perfection! I explain how to use the steel in this post.  If you’ve ever wanted to improve your homemade pizza, this is the way to go.

Pizza Peel

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If you’re using a pizza steel then you need a pizza peel in order to transfer the pizzas in and out of the oven.  I use this Epicurean Pizza Peel.  The pizza peel and steel together would make a fantastic gift for the cook in your life.  Or for yourself.  Or even as a family gift.  We’ve had so much fun together on pizza nights.

Slow Cooker

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Hamilton Beach 33967 Set ‘n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker is a great option if you’re in the market for a new slow cooker.

Ice Cream Maker

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Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker  I have two of these and I love them.  They enable my ice cream habit. Yum!

Non-Stick Skillet


I did some work with Swiss Diamond a few months ago.  They sent me a covered skillet to try and I have loved it.  I find I reach for it all the time.  It’s heavy, it cooks evenly, it’s non-stick.  It’s a bit of an investment, but this is a work horse and worth the money.

This post contains affiliate links.


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Make Your Slow Cooker Programmable for just $4!

This little tip was mentioned by Loretta, one of my readers.

You can use a timer (the kind you use for Christmas trees, lamps, etc.  Find them in the hardware section.) to set your slow cooker.  It isn’t quite as good as a programmable slow cooker, but it is very close.

And it’s perfect for slow cooked oatmeal.  I set it to start about 3am and at 7am breakfast was ready, without being overcooked.

Another cool tip, mentioned by a reader (I can’t remember who!) – Walmart now has Rival 2 quart slow cookers on sale for just $4!  I bought one, especially for fixing oatmeal.  It’s a fantastic price.  The same thing on Amazon costs $20 or more.

Happy cooking!

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Stay Sharp! – How to Keep Your Knife Honed (and Rada Cutlery Winner)

It was so fun to read about your knives in the comments for the Rada Cutlery giveaway.  I was a little surprised at how many of you lack sharp knives.   Some of you are carving turkeys with steak knives!

Sharp knives are essential for making dinner quickly, so I thought I’d share some tips for keeping your cutlery sharp.  I’m no expert.  These are ideas I’ve picked up over the years.

1. Start with a good knife – If you don’t have one then get thee to the Rada Kitchen Store.  I recommend the Cook’s Knife.  It’s only $9.20.  That’s less money than it takes to feed your family one meal at a fast food restaurant.  And having a sharp knife will speed your cooking so you’ll be less inclined to grab something quick on busy nights.

You will not regret buying this knife.  It’s so affordable, there’s no reason to keep using your dull knives.

For the record, Rada Cutlery doesn’t know I’m sending all of you over to their site.  I’m not making a commission or earning anything and they didn’t pay me to do this post.  I just want you all to have the joy of cooking with a sharp knife that is affordable!

2. Use a cutting board that won’t dull your knife. Wood, bamboo and plastic are all reliable choices.  [Read more…]

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Welcome to my Kitchen

Yesterday, Regina left this comment for me:

I love your site and enjoy receiving emails with new dishes that you have made. I am trying to get more home cooked meals in our house and your website is helpful with ideas on what to make and what ingredients are needed. In the mashed potatoes you mentioned you use a stand mixer; I am in the process of getting one and would love to hear what model you have and if this helps with your homemade meals. I was looking at a Sunbeam Heritage mixer (alot cheaper than the Kitchen Aid) but I have read a lot of bad reviews on this. Anyhow, would love to hear what helps you in the kitchen to make all your homemade meals. What tools and appliances are essential for you completion of wonderful meals? Thanks for your great recipes and I am looking forward to trying lots of the already posted recipes.

I’m going to answer Regina’s question in this post.  You’ll also get a good look at my cooking philosophy in action.  I don’t believe that you need the latest and greatest to put wonderful meals on the table for your family.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like new shiny appliances and cooking tools, but they aren’t always in the budget.

Come with me on a tour of my kitchen.  I’m betting it looks a lot like yours. (In fact, yours may be nicer :-) ) [Read more…]

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A Few Cool Cookbooks Coming Out Soon

It seems this is publishing season for cookbooks by bloggers.  Some of my favorite sites to visit have books being released this month.  I’ve added all of these to my wish list (I think I’ll send a link to this post to Jim, so he’s got some Christmas ideas for me :-) )

In the interest of full discloser, I don’t know any of these people personally (well, I have interviewed Stephanie O’dea here on Eat at Home, and I do follow Rea Drummond and Clara on twitter – yeah, not quite like knowing them personally) and I’m not getting anything to tell you about their books.  I just think the books are cool and I thought you might like them too.

clara's kitchenI discovered Great Depression Cooking with Clara last winter.  She has several videos filmed by her grandson, where she shares stories and foods that her family cooked during the Depression.  Clara is a treasure and I’m so thankful that her grandson followed through on this project idea with her.

Clara joined Twitter several weeks ago.  I’m thinking that there aren’t many people in their 90s who are on Twitter!

Her Depression Era Bread is one of my favorite recipes both to bake for my family and to share with you all.

Clara’s book is being released Oct. 27 and is available on pre-order from Amazon now. [Read more…]

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