Simple Kitchen How-to’s, just for fun

Simple Kitchen How-to’s

Ever wonder how to pick a cantaloupe or clean a baking sheet? Check out these tips for some of your common kitchen questions:


Freeze bananas

Ditch the individual bags or plastic wrap and just toss your banana in the fridge in the peel. Bananas out of their peel can also easily get stuck together, making it hard to dig out only one. When you are ready to use them, run the banana’s peel under warm water for 10 seconds, and slice the peel down the side. The banana will still be frozen but will slide out of the peel.

Make a Smoothie

Here is an easy guide to making a delicious smoothie; what you need: ½ cup to 1 cup liquid, 1 Tbsp to ¼ cup of a something creamy, ½ tsp to 1 Tbsp of a flavor, 1 to 2 cups of frozen fruits and vegetables, and a bit of sweetener to taste. Your liquid could be Kefir, juice, milk, or water. Your creamy component could be nut butter, yogurt, or avocado. Your flavor might be vanilla, lemon or lime, mint, or cinnamon. Your choice of frozen fruits and vegetables is endless.

Juice a Lemon

Maximize the amount of juice you will get by microwaving your lemon (or lime) for 20 seconds. You can even use this for cut lemon that has dried out in the fridge.

Store an Avocado

The best way to store an avocado is with the skin on, keeping the kit intact. The skin and the pit block oxygen from reaching the flesh. Limiting that contact preserves your avocado. Then, place plastic wrap directly on the flesh, so no air gets to it and store it in the fridge. You can also store your avocado in a container with an onion. The onion slows the browning process.

Picking a Ripe Cantaloupe

The best way to pick a cantaloupe is by smelling it. Pick up the melon and take a whiff of the stem end. There should be a sweet smell, but not too sweet. If you can’t smell anything, it’s not quite ripe. There are a couple of things to look for, as well. If it has a stem or green showing through, it’s not quite ripe. It should be firm, but not rock hard.

Soften Butter Quickly

Grate a stick of butter on the coarse side of a box grater. It will soften almost instantly.

Clean a Baking Sheet

Your baking sheet might seem impossible to get clean after roasting vegetables. Try using a paste of baking soda and vinegar. Spread it over the pan and let it sit for at least 30 minutes (or up to 3 hours).

Lisa Lewis is the author of Healthy Happy Cooking. Her cooking skills have been a part of First Place for Health wellness weeks and other events for many years. She provided recipes for 15 of the First Place for Health Books and is a contributing author in Better Together and Healthy Holiday Living. She partners with community networks, including the Real Food Project, to provide free healthy cooking classes. You can find her cookbook, Healthy Happy Cooking in the FP4H store here:


You Can’t Please All The People All The Time

Several recent blog entries have discussed the affect of alcohol on breastfeeding.  This question keeps coming up with new mothers.  They are embarrassed to drink in public because of the media attention on alcohol and pregnancy.  Others are harassed by those who believe all caffeine, even that in chocolate is dangerous for babies in utero.  Then there are folks who want to discuss every bite of food a mother eats. the supplements she takes, and what she drinks.  This kind of scrutiny is for your obstetrician rather than your acquaintances.

Pregnant and new mommies are already stressed to the max on their own.  They want to do their very best for their babies.  Everyone they talk to has a different opinion of what “the best” is.  Their mothers, sisters, mothers-in-law, work colleagues, neighbors, friends, uncles, pediatricians, the Internet, and on and on all weigh in on how pregnant and nursing mothers should behave.  Most often all these helpful people do not agree.  So mom, who wants to do her best learns the hard way ‘you can’t please all the people all the time.’  This is a painful and difficult lesson.

What is a mommy to do?  The wisdom of the ages says “Practice Moderation”.  More problems arise in extreme behaviors than in moderation.  There is the saying “Too much of anything can be a bad thing”.  So don’t do too much.  Having chocolate once in a while is probably much better for you than craving it incessantly and eventually binging and eating all the chocolate you can find!  The same can be said for coffee, other caffeine drinks, wine, even breads and citrus.  Our bodies are amazing things, they adjust when fed.

In my doula practice I seek to bring peace to the stress and confusion of life.  Too much information causes us to shut down and give up.  Too many rules or fears do the same.  For all of us, living under the COVID cloud has intensified the confusion.  Take a deep breath and let the stress flow from you.  For me, the best place to do this is sitting on the sand at a beach.  For you perhaps it is a park, coffee shop, or your own backyard.  Find your relaxed place and go there to think.  If you have little ones at home wait until they are resting or asleep and find your spot at home.

Pregnant and lactating moms, take the time to relax and think when making decisions about the topics above.  Do not feel pressured to respond as others think you should.  Find the best answer to each question for you.  Remember moderation and peace.

A Treat For Your Warm Summer Days!!!

4 Garden-Fresh Recipes for Summer
Mint Iced Tea by Luzianne
     We are fortunate to have a large mint patch in our back yard that makes flavorful iced tea. Fresh mint is the taste and scent of summer that reminds me of childhood, family reunions and hot summer evenings.
     Try this summer-inspired iced tea recipe to cool off. We typically use spearmint or apple mint, also known as wooly mint. You may easily adjust the amount of sugar to taste (we typically use less). Mint iced tea is refreshing for a summer potluck or backyard gathering.
     You can brew any tea.  If you are not in a hurry, make sun-tea.  Fill a glass gallon jar with fresh water, tie 6 green tea bags together and place them inside.  Cover the top and set it on a window sill in direct sunlight for the day.  Crush 5 or 6 sprigs of fresh mint and add to the bottle before serving.  Sweeten, you can use sugar, agave syrup, honey, your choice.  Pour into chilled glass mugs or glasses with ice and serve with a sprig of fresh mint.  So refreshing!!!
     We’d love to hear your favorite summer recipe or growing your own food story. Happy summertime to your family!

How long after birth do babies carry their mother’s immunity?

During the last 3 months of pregnancy, antibodies from the mother are passed to her unborn baby through the placenta.  This type of immunity is called passive immunity because the baby has been given antibodies rather than making them itself.  Antibodies are special proteins the immune system produces to help protect the body against bacteria and viruses.  The amount and type of antibodies passed to the baby depends on the mother’s immunity.  For example, if the mother has had chickenpox, she’ll have developed immunity against the condition and some of the chickenpox antibodies will be passed to the baby.  But if the mother hasn’t had chickenpox, the baby won’t be protected.  Immunity in newborn babies is only temporary and starts to decrease after the first few weeks or months.

Breast milk also contains antibodies, which means that babies who are breastfed have passive immunity for longer.  The thick yellowish milk (colostrum) produced for the first few days following birth is particularly rich in antibodies.  Premature babies are at higher risk of developing an illness because their immune systems aren’t as strong and they haven’t had as many antibodies passed to them.  As newborn immunity is only temporary, it’s important to begin childhood immunisations when your baby is 2 months old. This applies to babies who are either premature or full-term.  The first immunisation, given when your baby is 2 months old, includes whooping cough and Hib (haemophilus influenza type b) because immunity to these conditions decreases the fastest.  Passive immunity to measles, mumps and rubella can last for up to a year, which is why the MMR vaccine is given just after your baby’s first birthday.

Crazy Recommendations and Straight Talk on Immunities in New Borns

This week I received a telephone call from a relative.  Her first grandchild will be born in late September.  She learned that the pediatrician chosen has recommended no one be allowed to see the baby until it is six months old!!!!!  No grandmas, aunts, uncles; no one. She and the other grandma have no other grandchildren.  They are devastated!!!

The death rate among infants from COVID is minuscule.  In California not a single child has died of the virus.  Why on earth would a young family be told not to allow anyone to see their baby?  As a doula, this not only sounds strange it sounds dangerous.  Aunts and grandmas are invaluable to new mommies.  Their experience, support and advice are a great source of encouragement to young mothers.  In addition, they are the ones who care for baby while exhausted mommy and daddy rest up.  Family members do the cooking and laundry, they shop, they share information learned when they were young parents.  I ask again, how could this exclusion of all family members even be considered?

I don’t have the details but perhaps the pediatrician has no children?  Perhaps she missed the the med-school unit on the necessity of emotional and practical support of patients?  I have no idea, but I am flabbergasted!!  I will do some research and try to figure out what is up.

Below find some interesting articles on immunities in infants.  More information to come:

20 Things To Know About Baby’s Immune System

Understanding some key points about a baby’s health and that bitty body’s ability to protect itself can be reassuring and helpful.   By Amy Smith    Dec. 23, 2018

How Breast Milk Protects Newborns

Written by Jack Newman, MD, FRCPC




Alcohol and Breastfeeding

There are many articles and opinions on the consumption of alcohol when breastfeeding.  Often new moms are confused by the discussion.  Many say no alcohol at all.  Scientific research says a little is OK.  Your pediatrician my have another opinion.  This is one of those areas where you have to decide for yourself what you think is best for you and your baby.  Below are articles from several sources discussing this topic.

Personally I believe those who are saying no alcohol at all are doing so because of the danger of a mom not understanding her own situation with alcohol.  Drinking alone as a new mom is not a good thing.  Drinking strong alcohol is not good, you need to be aware of your self and your baby.  If you have any tendencies toward over drinking, if you have ever had a problem with drinking, if you are unable to control your drinking my recommendation is stay 100% away from any alcohol.  The risks are not worth a drink.  For alcoholics their ability to discern their own desire or need for alcohol is skewed.  If you think you might be in this category please do not drink.  Please seek help.  Please be honest with yourself, this is really tough to do.  Out of love and concern for your baby do not allow yourself to get into trouble.

Being a new mommy is the most wonderful thing.  Having a precious little one to love and care for is an incredible joy.  It is also exhausting and stressful.  Alcohol is not a way to deal with this stress.

If you and your family enjoy a small glass of wine with dinner as a relaxing and social time science would say that is OK.  You are in the company of others so you will tend not to over drink.  Your baby will not be alone.  The risks to you and your baby are low.  Again, this is if you are being honest with yourself and do not have a drinking problem.

My personal recommendation would be wine only and in small amounts: one small glass per day.    Strong drink impairs your ability to function.  You have to be at 100% to take care of yourself and your little one.  I would never recommend drinking alone, only in a social situation where there are others present.  Read the articles below and share any you have found.  This is a controversial topic.  We can all learn more as we go.

JUDY › vaccinations-medications-drugs › alcohol

Generally, moderate alcohol consumption by a breastfeeding mother (up to 1 standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the mother waits at least 2 hours after a single drink before nursing.

Anything you eat or drink while you’re breastfeeding can find its way into your breast milk, and that includes alcohol. An occasional drink is unlikely to harm your breastfedbaby. … To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, it’s safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.


Breastfeeding and drinking alcohol-Your pregnancy and baby guide



Not drinking alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers. However, moderate alcohol consumption (up to 1 drink/day) is not known to be harmful to the infant.


Breastfeeding and Alcohol

By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC







In the state of California not one child has died from COVID 19!!! Think of that: 39.51 million people; 366,000 cases of the virus, 7,500 deaths.  Yet, according to state statistics, not one person under the age of 18 has died!!  Have you heard that anywhere?  Yet, schools will not be open in the Fall……………Why?


Controversy: How Long After Their Expiration Dates Are Medications Actually Usable?

The answer to this often asked question will surprise you!!!!  Please read each of the attached articles and do you own research.  You are responsible for your choices in the use of any medications, supplements, and other items.  However, generally, medications in pill or capsule form are potent for several years past their written expiration date.  The articles below show in some cases medications retain up to 90% of their potency for up to 15 years!!!!.  Liquid based medications do not maintain their potency nearly as long.  Read this information and do your own research before you decide how you will respond.

Why is this information valuable to you?

1.In life and death situations, such as extreme allergic reaction, a life could be saved even if the EipPen is expired.  There won’t be many cases as extreme as this, but having the confidence to use an expired EPI Pen, understanding that the fact it is expired does not mean is it dangerous, could literally save a life!

2017 research on expired EpiPens has been published. A small evaluation of almost 40 expired, unused EpiPens gathered from patients showed that the pens retained 80% of their initial dose of epinephrine, some for up to four years past the expiration date on the device. The lowest level of epinephrine was found in an EpiPen Jr. 30 months past its expiration date; it retain over 80% of it’s original epinephrine dose. About 65% of the EpiPens and 56% of the EpiPen Jrs. contained at least 90% of their initial dose.

In a life-threatening allergic situation, if there is no other option, use of an expired EpiPen should be considered if it is the only auto-injector available and there are no discoloration or precipitates seen in the solution. In this case, the potential benefit of saving a life is greater than the potential risk of death by not using.

2.  Expense. Families need to make the best of their resources and finances.  If your medications are almost expired it is good to know they are not dangerous.  They may be a bit less potent than when purchased, but they are not harmful.  The same for items like Aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, Melatonin, etc.   We have been taught to believe these items are harmful if they are “expired”.  The aforementioned Harvard study reveals this simply is not the case.  Again, it is important you review information on this topic and come to your own decision as to how you wish to proceed.

3.  Peace of Mind:  When you have a splitting headache and the medication you have on hand is expired you can confidently know what you have is better than nothing. It will relieve your headache, toothache, or other pain better than not taking the medication.  According to the research information at hand if in good condition what you have should not harm you.

The U.S. Air Force started a study in 1985 and later extended it to other military services in the early 1990s. The military had gathered a stockpile of medications worth more than a billion dollars that were close to or past their expiration dates. No one wanted to throw away expensive medications that might still be safe and effective. So the drugs were extensively tested with oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The verdict? Most medications were still good nearly 3 years past their expiration dates.

The only articles I could find refuting this information are below.  They are written by pharmacists rather than MDs or researchers.



Harvard Health Studies                                               

Is it ok to use medications past their expiration dates?

Drug Expiration Dates — Do They Mean Anything?

FDA study gets to the heart of expired medicine and safety

Published: November, 2003




Can I still use prescription drugs after they expire?      The Harvard Medical School republished a well-worn article in August that recounted a 1985 study in which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) looked to pinpoint expiration dates for more than 100 drugs in an effort to unburden the U.S. military from some of the exorbitant annual costs of replacing its pharmaceuticals.

The study showed that 90 per cent of more than 100 drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, were fine to use well after expiry dates had passed, and in some cases more than 15 years after the expiration date had come and gone.


LIVE SCIENCE    Does Medicine Really Expire?    By Megan Gannon – Live Science Contributor March 24, 2019

But not everyone knows that, so poison control centers occasionally get calls from people who are concerned because they accidentally took expired medication, said Lee Cantrell, director of the San Diego Division of the California Poison Control System.

“The last time I checked, I haven’t seen any peer-reviewed documentation of expired medicine causing any problems in people,” Cantrell told Live Science. The effectiveness of medicines, however, may degrade over time, but there are few studies on the issue, he said.

That said, several years ago, Cantrell had a rare opportunity to examine an old stash of drugs — including antihistamines, pain relievers and diet pills — found in the back of a pharmacy.

“We found that those medications, some of them at least 40 years past their manufacture date, still retained full potency,” Cantrell said. That study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in 2012. Cantrell published another study in 2017 showing that EpiPens — the expensive auto-injectors used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions — retained 84 percent of their potency more than four years past their expiration dates, suggesting that in an emergency, an expired EpiPen would be better than nothing.





It’s not about how much time you have. It’s about how effectively you manage your time. – R.L. Adams

One of the most effective skills you can have in life is powerful and effective time management.  Now that you are a parent your schedule has been turned upside down.  What used to work well doesn’t any more.  You are tired, hormones are running through you at breakneck speed, you feel so responsible for your new little child.  Everything has changed.  Allowing yourself the time to re-stabilize is vital.  The ideas here will help as you settle into you new normal.

If there’s one thing I have learned over the years, it’s the importance of paying attention to how you use the precious time you have.  As busy parents and/or entrepreneurs, finding work-life balance is always challenging, but the truth is, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming.  I can tell you as a work-at-home mom that it CAN be done. Even the busiest mom can carve out pockets of breathing room within the day – with the right system in place.

Managing your time is not just good practice, but it is also good for productivity and organization. Follow a time management system that will help you get things done in order to achieve success with your goals. By managing your time properly and efficiently, you can create an organized life!


1.   Get Up Early

Take a good look at your morning routine. What time do you usually start your day? How do you spend the first hour (or two)?

There are plenty of examples of how the most successful people are early risers and have a morning routine in place. Morning routines often include:

2.  Create a To-Do List

Creating a to-do list should be a regular habit undertaken daily.

To help you feel like a super-hero and finally cross every item off your list, I recommend you select three goals for each day to ensure that you can complete it. Don’t forget to prioritize the items on the list and review it throughout the day. I like to tackle the most important tasks first, particularly the ones that would take up the most time.

When you work from the hardest task to the simplest, you can actually free up more time later in the day. Also, checking off items as they are completed will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivation.

3.  Use Sticky Notes

Some of us use our phones to remind us of our tasks. But you may miss an important reminder if your phone dies or accidentally hit the snooze button!

With Sticky Notes, on the other hand, you can be sure that you don’t miss a task on your to-do list.

Sticky Notes are ideal for displaying reminders of tasks, motivational quotes, and visualizations. They now come in various colors, sizes, and designs, so it should be a fun and interesting way to get things done!

For example, if you’ve got a pile of letters that need to be mailed and that’s an item on your to-do list, why not put a sticky note on top of the pile with a deadline for posting them? It’ll serve as a reminder to get them posted and cleared out of your way.

4. Record It

Of course, you can record your notes digitally using note taking apps or in a text document, or use pen and paper but have you thought of recording them using a digital recorder?

This is a fast and easy way to get things done if writing things down is too much of a fuss.

You can get free recording apps for smartphones. By making a voice recording you can replay the recording and listen to your ideas. This will give you the opportunity to listen from a different perspective.

5. Create a Schedule

Online calendars now make is so easy for us to create schedules.

Using an online planner such as Google Calendar will ensure that you are able to access your schedule on your smartphone, tablet or computer wherever you are.

I love how you can color code different categories of entry and share with friends, family, and colleagues as necessary!

6. Use Pen and Paper

Many of us have gone digital, but I still love the process of writing down things with pen and paper.

For your most important events, tasks and notes use the traditional recording method of pen and paper – use a diary, planner or bullet journal.

You can keep it with you at all times. It won’t distract you with messages or run out of power. You’ll also be able to flick through at a glance to see how much you’ve achieved, past or forthcoming events and outstanding tasks.

7.  Prioritize

Be realistic. Not all tasks and events are created equal, and surely, you can’t do everything!

Find a way to highlight events that are essential so that you can see them at a glance and be sure not to miss them.

On your to-do lists always prioritize these events and complete the most important first. If there are items that aren’t important or not time-sensitive, then considering moving them off your current list and on to another day.

8.  Delegate

I am the queen of delegating and outsourcing!Tweet this!

From my groceries and bulk shopping (think Amazon!) to professional tasks I can hire out, I’ll delegate it.

The truth is that you don’t need to try and be a superhero and do everything yourself.

Kids can tidy away their toys and when old enough learn how to load the dishwasher, set the table, do their laundry, water the plants and do other simple chores. By enlisting the help of other household members, you not only empower them by teaching life skills they’ll use for life, you will also get more accomplished in less time.

Managing your time properly and efficiently with these tips is one of the keys to staying organized. When you implement a few smart rules on your daily routine, you will surely have some extra time for yourself. Be sure to do something wonderful and kind, something you truly enjoy. You so deserve it!

8 Ways to Help You Manage Your Time Wisely

What is a Postpartum Doula?

Postpartum doulas are trained to help parents welcome their newborns into their families.  Doulas have usually raised children of their own.  Certified doulas have followed the certification process required by their organization.  This training took me eighteen months.  It involved in home training, studying many books and articles on the subject, 30 hours of training from a more experienced doula, and interviewing several clients on the subject.

Postpartum Doula

Most new parents will tell you that navigating through those first few days after bringing home a new baby is anything but easy! Even for the most experienced parents, bringing home a new baby means changing routines, dividing time and just trying to figure out how to juggle it all.

If mom had a cesarean delivery or any other birth complications, it can make the transition to home even more challenging. The problem that many families run into is finding the help they need to support them through these first few weeks.

A postpartum doula provides evidenced-based information on things such as infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, mother-baby bonding, infant soothing, and basic newborn care. Research shows that moms, dads, and babies have an easier time with this transition if a good support team is in place.

What type of services does a Postpartum Doula provide?

The postpartum doula offers many services to her clients, but her main goals are to help “mother the mother” and nurture the entire family as they transition into life with a newborn. This would include doing things to help mom and dad feel more confident in their roles, sharing education on family adjustment, and tending to the unique needs of a new mother.

Some of the duties include:

  • Breastfeeding support
  • Help with the emotional and physical recovery after birth
  • Light housekeeping so that mom does not feel so overwhelmed
  • Running errands
  • Assistance with newborn care such as diapering, bathing, feeding and comforting
  • Light meal preparation
  • Baby soothing techniques
  • Sibling care
  • Referrals to local resources such as parenting classes, pediatricians, lactation support and support groups

Most postpartum doulas provide service for a family anywhere from a few days up to a few weeks after bringing home a new baby. Families may have her work 1-3 days a week or as many as 5 days a week.

Postpartum doulas often offer nighttime service to help the family transition more smoothly into the challenges of nighttime parenting. Each doula offers different services, so it’s important that each family decide what their needs are and find a professional who can meet those needs.

What do Postpartum Doula’s charge?

The price of postpartum doula services vary depending on what part of the country you live in, what type of service you need (day or night time) and the skill level. They usually charge by the hour and usually require a minimum amount of hours of service.

The range of costs could be anywhere from $30-50 an hour. Some doulas offer discounts if you book them for a certain amount of hours, if you pay in advance or if they are a newly trained. More and more families are asking for postpartum doula service as a shower or baby gift from family and friends.

This is especially helpful for new families who have little or no family support nearby. Postpartum doula service may also be paid for using money from a family’s flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) depending on what the guidelines are for their particular plan.

What is the difference between a Postpartum Doula and a baby nurse?

The postpartum doula’s role is to support everyone in the family, including mom, dad, siblings, and baby. Unlike a baby nurse, whose sole focus is the new baby, the doula is there to support mom through the postpartum period and to help the family as a whole.

How do I find a Postpartum Doula?

Postpartum doulas have been around for quite a while, but have just recently become more popular. The Doula Organization of North America (DONA) both certifies and provides referrals for postpartum doulas.  They list them by city.  When you look them up enter several local cities to find a doula close to your location.

Postpartum Doula