Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

It’s almost that time of year again…I don’t mean Christmas or Thanksgiving, rather Cold and Flu Season. I hate getting sick. Hate. Colds are my arch nemesis. During my two pregnancies with my kids, I was more miserable with a cold than I was in the 60 combined weeks of 24/7 severe morning sickness. Just something about not being able to breathe sends me into a crazed panic of feeling like I’m being buried alive. So, I aim to stay healthy since being buried alive is not on my bucket list.

While many contend that getting sick is good for the immune system, if the body is exposed to an illness and can fight it off itself, it still builds immunity without the misery of a cold. I get sick every few years, and Stinker gets perhaps two colds a year. We don’t bubble ourselves up or refuse to leave the house, but there are a few healthy habits we use to keep our immune systems at their peak.

1. Cut the Sugar
-Refined sugar is one of the worst things for the immune system. It almost immediately suppresses your body’s defenses. I remember reading that many experts trace the beginning of cold and flu season to a few days after Halloween. Why? All that candy lowers the immune system and makes people more susceptible to illness. Cutting out refined sugars can help keep you healthy.

2. Wash Your Hands
-We have a rule in our home that everyone needs to wash their hands as soon as we get home, wherever we’ve been. Washing your hands before meals, and especially before bed (people often touch their face while they sleep, which can lead to colds), can stop the spread of germs.

3. Don’t Touch Your Eyes
-Most people think the mouth is most susceptible to germs, but it’s actually your eyes. Washing your hands before touching your eyes (or using your sleeve to scratch or rub your eye while you’re out and about), will reduce your exposure.

4. Probiotics
-It’s surprising to find out that most of our immune function begins in our stomach. Having a healthy stomach can mean a healthy body. I take Probiotics daily, trying to keep my immune system functioning at it’s highest.

5. Staying Healthy With Food
-I make my kids smoothies frequently with lots of fruits, and sometimes vegetables, in order to keep their immune system strong. Raw garlic, cinnamon, and raw honey all contain antibacterial properties. Elderberry extract is a wonderful supplement for fighting off colds, or just ramping up your immune system.

And, everyone gets sick sometimes, despite best efforts. Junior still doesn’t sleep through the night all the time, and our life is on-the-go busy, so our immune systems will likely never be as strong as we would like (most experts recommend getting extra sleep and getting rid of stressors during cold and flu season, but that’s simply not possible with young children). Sometimes a warm blanket and chicken noodle soup  are the only cures.

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“Is Ebates For Real??”

 Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

I get questions about cash back and points sites often. People want to know the whats, hows, and fine print before signing up. One site I receive frequent questions about is Ebates. Here’s the scoop:

1. How does Ebates work?
-The stores that Ebates offers cash back on give Ebates a referral commission for each purchase you make through them. For example, Home Depot might offer a 7% commission to Ebates for each purchase that is made going through the Ebates referral link. Of that 7%, you receive 3% cash back. Essentially, Ebates makes their money through your purchases, then shares the commission with you in the form of cash back. 

2. So, is Ebates legititmate?
-In short, yes. The site is a legitimate way to receive cash back on online purchases.

3. Okay, it sounds too good to be true. What is the fine print?
-There are some stipulations in order to receive your money. There must be at least $5 in your account in order to receive your check, which are sent out 4 times a year. Now, this isn’t usually an issue during Christmas time when I do quite a bit of online shopping, but there are times when I only receive one or two checks a year.

4. Are there any drawbacks to using Ebates?
-For me, there is the temptation to spend more, knowing that I will receive cash back on a purchase, so it’s been a testing of my self-control to only purchase what I was planning, and not making impulse buys :)

I have been using Ebates for about 3 years now, and have nothing but good things to say. And, since most of my shopping is done online anyway, it’s nice to get a little something back.

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*Links may be a referral link, but all opinions and ideas are my own, and have not been skewed in any way. 

Weekly Menu. January 8-14, 2012

I’m slowly but surely getting back into the menu planning and cooking routine. This year I’m trying to slash our grocery budget even more, but while I’m on a limited activity regimen during this pregnancy, I’m not able to do as much from-scratch or freezer cooking as I would like. So, I’m trying to balance the two by incorporating my slow cooker, using inexpensive staples, and using the same ingredients in multiple meals. This keeps things simple, and keeps costs down.

Sunday, January 8
Sausage and Peppers over Spaghetti
Caesar Salad
French Bread

Monday, January 9
Sausage and Peppers over Spaghetti (Leftovers)
Caesar Salad
French Bread

Tuesday, January 10
Make Ahead French Toast
Fresh Fruit

Wednesday, January 11
Beef Tacos
Black Beans
Caesar Salad

Thursday, January 12
Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken
Baked Fries
Steamed Veggies

Friday, January 13
Honey Mustard Chicken (Leftovers)
Baked Fries
Steamed Veggies

Saturday, January 14
Black Bean Burritos (Leftovers)
Steamed Veggies

Living Joyfully–And Those Other 364 Days…

We have a lot to be thankful for in this country. I mean a lot. Even when budgets are tight and bank accounts are scarily low, if you’re reading this, you can probably afford some sort of technological gadget, have a roof over your head, and haven’t spent weeks fasting because there is no food to be had. Yet with so much, we seem to be discontent and bothered by the pettiest issues.

Leaving several stores the other day, I was struck by how rude and inconvenienced everyone seemed. I received a dirty look because I was “taking too long” strapping my daughter into her carseat safely because someone was waiting for my spot. Carts were rammed for being in the way, people were rude to the checkers, and I heard myriad huffs and puffs because the lines were too long. These people had carts full of Christmas gifts and groceries. Luxuries in many other parts of the world.

And yet, many of us claim to be grateful on Thanksgiving. Setting aside our hectic schedules and problems to spend one day enjoying our families, good food, and all the blessings we have been provided. But, what if we adapted that attitude every day of the year? What if we looked at our blessings rather than our inconveniences? What if we went to the store and looked the all the food we were blessed with instead of the time we had to “waste” going grocery shopping? How would our attitudes improve if we had Thanksgiving in our hearts every day of the year?

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Menu for the Week. August 21-27, 2011

Sunday, August 21
Fruit Smoothies
Whole Grain Loaf Bread

Monday, August 22
Avocado Bacon Cheeseburgers
Homemade Fries
Corn on the Cob

Tuesday, August 23
Fish Tacos with Avocado Sauce
Black Beans
Corn on the Cob

Wednesday, August 24
Homemade Pizza
Green Salad

Thursday, August 25
Italian Beef Sandwiches
Homemade Fries
Green Salad

Friday, August 26
Cheese Manicotti
Garlic Bread
Green Salad

Saturday, August 27

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