Boost Your Beauty with Avocados

You may not realize it, but the benefits of avocados go beyond just enjoying the taste. Many of the same properties that make avocados vital to our internal health can keep you looking vibrant and youthful on the outside, too. Avocados contain 4% of your daily value of vitamin E — an antioxidant that protects body tissue from damage caused by substances called free radicals. Free radicals can harm cells, tissues and organs. They are believed to play a role in certain conditions related to aging. Avocados are an all-natural moisturizer that can rejuvenate and dramatically soften your skin and hair. To see for yourself, try these all-natural remedies that you can make at home using avocados and other ingredients found right in your kitchen.

Dry Hands

We all know that hands can get dry in the winter. Between the cold, rainy weather and wind, many of us have googled "home remedies for dry hands" a time or two. But did you know that besides the normal "wash your hands with warm water" and "use mild soap" suggestions and tips, you can actually find your best moisturizer in your kitchen?

Give moisturizing with an avocado hand cream a try by whipping up this easy treatment. It provides all of the benefits of avocado’s nourishing oils with gentle exfoliation delivered by the rolled oats.

Avocado hand cream recipe:

  • 1/4 fully ripened Hass avocado, halved, pitted, peeled
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoon rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

In a shallow bowl, mash avocado until smooth. Add egg white, oats, and lemon juice. Stir until combined. Massage into hands. Leave mixture on for 20 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

Dark Circles & Puffy Eyes

A little Vitamin K, C and E are all your eyes need to get some relief! You can get all three of those things from avocados! Just cut up some triangle-shaped slices and place under your eyes for 20-30 minutes. 

Frizzy Hair

Why can avocados calm frizzy hair? Its oils are light and moist, much like the oils that our skin produces naturally. The nutrients in avocados help smooth and weigh down frizzy hair.

The avocado hair mask recipe below combines avocado with egg whites for an extra protein boost that can ramp up your hair’s shine factor and tame frizzy hair at the same time.

Avocado hair mask recipe:

  • 1/2 Hass avocado
  • 2 egg whites

Combine egg whites with mashed-up avocado. Leave in hair for 15 minutes, then wash and condition.

Dead Skin Cells

We all want the glowing skin that comes from a facial. But, how realistic is that for us all with our busy lives? For at-home skin benefits, mix an avocado with yogurt and raw honey and rub it onto your skin. This soothing facemask will get rid of dead skin cells.

Nature's Health Food - Asparagus

The perfect addition to any meal this spring and summer - asparagus!

 

To download PDF, click here

3 Lunchboxes to Put Some Spring in Your Kid's Step

April showers bring May flowers and these bright and cheery lunchboxes celebrate the best of both!

Springtime brings lots of colorful fun, so we’re celebrating by adding it into our lunchboxes! We’ve got two bright and cheery combos sure to bring a smile to any kid’s face. 

Our first lunchbox isn’t just adorable, it’s delicious too! We made a kid-friendly pasta salad with bowtie noodles plus a little salt and butter, then tossed it all together with Cascadian Farm frozen organic sweet peas. Next, using Betty Crocker™ Fruit Gushers®, we created an adorable flower  and added fresh snap peas for greenery. Last, but not least, we also added a tasty Larabar for a hint of sweetness!

The second lunchbox is sure to satisfy your growing kid’s appetite! We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the shape of flowers, which is way easier than you might think. Spread peanut butter and the jelly of your choice between two pieces of bread and cut into a circle using a biscuit cutter. Then, cut 5 slits around the sandwich to make the “petals.” Finally, garnish with a fruit Gusher to complete the flower!

We also made flower veggie sticks with carrots and cucumber. Simply cut a slice of cucumber about 1/3-inch thick. Cut the slice in half and remove the seeds. Take a washed and peeled carrot and also cut a slice about 1/3-inch thick. Using a small knife, cut out two small, triangular pieces from one end to create the look of flower petals. To assemble the “flower”, place the carrot slice inside the cucumber slice and fasten with a toothpick for the “stem.” For a sweet treat, we made a “dirt garden” with ½ cup of chocolate pudding topped with crushed Oreo cookies. The flower was made using Dots candies, but any flowery and sweet garnish will work. We also added a Nature Valley granola bar to eat at lunch or to be saved for a yummy snack.

Our final flower power-packed lunch is super easy and super cute! We put together a turkey and cheese sandwich and using a cookie cutter, made it into an adorable flower. We wanted this lunchbox to be super-easy but still fun so we added a Go-Gurt, red and green grapes, and pretzels. We also packed along one of our rainbow Chex Bars (a fun take on the regular Rice Krispy Treat). Instead of making one batch, we divided the recipe into five small batches and added food coloring to each portion individually and stacked each colorful layer. Any other fun treat you have on hand would work great, but we couldn’t pass this fun snack up with all the bright colors!

What are some of your favorite springtime, lunchbox-approved recipes? We want to hear from you!

How to Speak Wine Geek

The terms said in any in-depth discussion of wine can seem like a foreign language at times, but these basic definitions will help make it all feel more accessible.

General Terms

Aging
Holding wines for a period of time in barrels, tanks or bottles to affect the character of the finished wine.

Appellation
The official geographic origin of a wine.

Barrel
A wooden container typically made of oak (generally 60 gallons in capacity) used for fermenting and/or aging wines.

Barrel-aged
A term used for wines that matured in oak barrels for a period of time after fermentation.

Maturation
The aging period at the winery during which the wine evolves to a state of readiness for bottling. Also, the ongoing development of fine wines during a period of bottle aging.

Terroir
A French word for the particular growing conditions of a vineyard (soil, slope, climate and altitude) that give the grapes grown there their unique characteristics.

Varietal
A wine made principally from one variety of grape (e.g., Zinfandel).

Varietal character
The characteristics common to a particular grape variety or the characteristics of a wine related to the grape variety from which it is made.

Wine Characteristic Terms

Aroma
Odors in a wine that originate from the grape. Some distinguish these smells from “bouquet,” but the term is often used to describe all smells of a wine.

Balance
The relationship between a wine's alcohol, acid, fruit and tannin. A wine is considered well balanced when none of these components stand out significantly from the rest.

Body
A tactile sensation describing the viscosity or “weight” of wine in the mouth. Body is correlated with the level of alcohol and extract. Wines are described as light, medium or full bodied.

Bouquet
The odors of wine attributed to the winemaking process, such as fermentation, processing and aging, particularly those that develop after bottling.

Crisp
A term for a wine that feels clean and slightly brittle in the mouth, usually from high acidity.

Dry
A wine that is not sweet because all perceptible sugar was consumed during the fermentation process.

Finish
The final impression a wine leaves after you have swallowed or spit it out.

Length
A term describing a wine’s sustained sensory impression across the tongue.

Mature
A wine that has reached its optimum point during aging, exhibiting a pleasing combination of aromas, flavors and bouquet.

Oaky
Toasty, smoky or vanilla smells and flavors contributed by the oak during barrel aging. Coffee, chocolate and butterscotch are among many flavors that can be affected by the level of toasting done to a barrel. The origin of the oak used in a barrel can also influences flavors.

Palate
A term used as a synonym for "mouth," or to refer to the characteristics of a wine that manifest in the taster’s mouth.

Rich
Description of a wine that offers an abundance of flavor and texture.

Style
The characteristic combination of components (alcohol, acid, tannin and sugar) associated with the wines of a region, a winery or a particular winemaker.

Tannin
A substance found in the skins, seeds and stems of grapes and a principal component of red wine’s structure, extracted during fermentation while in contact with the skins and seeds. Oak barrels also impart some tannin to wine. Tannins can be detected in wine by the slight drying sensation along the gum line that they create.

Reese's Perfect Pass Snack Mix

This recipe is everything you expect in a snack mix - salty with a sweet punch that will knock you off your chair (unless the basketball games knock you off first)!

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups pecan halves or pieces
  • 1 cup COCA-COLA
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup REESE'S Peanut Butter Cups Minis
  • 1/2 cup REESE'S PIECES Candies
  • 1/2 cup small pretzel twists

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray shallow baking pan with nonstick vegetable spray.
  2. Place pecans in medium bowl; add COCA-COLA. Let pecans soak 10 minutes. Drain COCA-COLA and discard.
  3. Toss pecans with sugar; spread coated pecans on prepared pan. Lightly sprinkle pecans with sea salt.
  4. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until pecans start to glisten and appear dry. Stir occasionally while baking. Cool completely.
  5. Stir in mini peanut butter cups, candy pieces and pretzels. Store in cool, dry place. About 3 cups snack mix.

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Cooking with Wine

What wine to use? What to do with the leftover? Red or white, dry or sweet? So many questions, but they're all answered here with three simple rules!

Buy a bottle you'll drink

Rule #1 - Don't venture into a new recipe that calls for a wine that you know you don't like. When cooking with wine, the alcohol cooks out and the flavors are more concentrated. If you are not a fan of a varietal of wine, don't attempt the recipe.

Money isn't everything

Rule #2 - Just because the price tag is more expensive, doesn't mean your meal needs it. Most recipes that call for using wine can have a price cap at $12-$15 per bottle. Also, "cooking wines" are not necessary. Buy your favorite bottle for your taste buds and budget.

Leftover wine?

Rule #3 - You've just finished your decadent dish, but you have half a bottle of wine leftover. Most people may know what we would do with it (drink it, right?)...But, for those who are avid chefs-in-the-making, store that bottle (with the cork) in the refrigerator. It should have a shelf life for up to a week for you to tackle your next recipe!

Now, go have some fun in the kitchen!

How to Get Cozy with Your Special Someone

Valentine's Day Shopping can be frightful, but getting cozy with your S.O. can be oh-so-delightful! If you find yourself empty-handed on Valentine's Day, heat things up on your own terms with these sizzling ways to warm their heart.

Build a Blanket Fort
When is the last time you’ve done something this fun and carefree? Go all out with mountains of blankets and plush pillows to create your own cuddle-worthy hideaway. If you really want to go the extra step, take candles with you and create a warm and cozy space to treat both of you!

Steamy Bubble Bath
Take a dip together in a piping hot bath drawn with calming bubbles and plenty of mood-setting candles. Don’t forget to throw in some equally mood-setting Ménage à Trois Silk!

Wine & Dine
We've all heard the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but it doesn't stop with the men! Everyone likes to feel special with a homecooked meal and a nice glass of wine. 

Never underestimate the power of a simple, but thoughtful Valentine's Day celebration! 

A Simple New Year

Celebrate New Year's Eve without a lot of fuss! Gather friends and neighbors for a warm, cozy evening inside, or go outdoors if you're an active group. You'll find all the recipes and party-planning tips you'll need for an appetizer and dessert celebration to ring in this new year.

Easy Decorations

Casual get-togethers are often impromptu and require no special decorations. If you want to decorate, consider one of these:

  • Encourage guests to bring a battery-operated alarm clock. Set the alarms to go off at midnight, and place the clocks all over the party area! Or place a collection of the clocks on a mirrored tray as a centerpiece.
  • Make a quick centerpiece by placing glittering ball ornaments in a wire basket or crystal bowl.

Fun Serving Ideas

  • Use hollowed-out colorful bell peppers, cabbage, squash or round bread loaves for fun and colorful containers to hold veggie dip.
  • Embellish mug handles or bases of stemware with metallic curly ribbon. A different color of ribbon for each guest can keep drinkware from being misplaced.
  • Bump up plain coffee served with dessert to an inviting espresso bar! Set up espresso carafes (regular and decaf) with extras for stir-ins and toppers.
    - Stir-Ins: flavored syrups, flavored creams or eggnog, cream and sugar 
    - Toppers: whipped cream, ice-cream toppings, candy sprinkles, ground nutmeg or cinnamon

Casual Party Activities

  • Got snow? Make a snowperson! Ask guests to wear appropriate clothing.
  • Build a huge bonfire--remember to check your city's ordinances! Or just gather around your backyard fire pit. Tell stories of bygone years, or predict the future.
  • Hide a treasure of gold-colored medallions, gold foil-covered chocolate coins and golden baubles and beads found in craft stores. Entice guests with creative clues to answer so they can discover the treasure by the stroke of midnight.
Brunch & Mimosas

Brunch is one of life's great pleasures, or at least it can be if done properly. With the right mix of food, drinks, and of course friends, it's possible to make brunch an epic experience. Whether you're looking for a spot in the streets of Houston or prepping for breakfast on a lake-front property – Read on and learn how to brunch like a boss.

The Mimosa

Since you've found your way to this blog, I hope you know about this classic cocktail. In case you need a refresher, it's easy. A mimosa is simply equal parts champagne and orange juice.

If you have trouble remembering that, then just remember this: Mix Andre and OJ. Easy, right?

Eggs & Frittatas

What's brunch without eggs? Let's not even think about a world without them.

Various egg dishes are a lock to help balance out any acidity from a breakfast cocktail. Frittatas are an egg based dish that helps class up your brunch to the next level.

Want to give it a shot? Just mix your eggs with anything tasty in the fridge, heat in a pan, and serve when there's just a little bit of jiggle left in the 'ttata.

Add some sharp cheese to kick the savory factor up a notch.

Bacon

Talk about balance. You really can't beat the salty, savory flavors of a good piece of bacon mixed with the protein kick from your eggs.

Fried to a crisp, or cooked just well enough. Bacon is the, without question, the perfect breakfast food. (In my opinion, but really, come on. You know it's true.)

Finish up with a sip of that mimosa and you have entered brunch paradise.

French Toast & Pancakes

This might sound crazy, but adding a little champagne to your French toast or pancake mix injects an extra dose of deliciousness.

Pro tip: whisk in the champagne with the eggs, and then add the dry ingredients.

Presto, your breakfast just got fancy.

Salmon

Looking to take this epic brunch to the next, next, level? Don't write off salmon as a menu option.

Champagne has always made fast friends with seafood, and brunch is no exception.

Try pairing your bubbly with a little smoked salmon on either a bagel or within an omelet, and you'll feel like you're at a five star hotel instead of on your couch's four cushions.

Make it a Meal

Feed 4 for just $4 each! Visit your local deli for your next family dinner!

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