5 lessons from my mom I didn’t understand until now

Last weekend marked an emotional milestone; I am now the same age my mother was when my father died, and my youngest child is the same age I was.  For some reason I’ve looked at this approaching year with bated breath.  It’s like watching the New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York- an hour ahead of Chicago- and believing if there’s no chaos everything will be alright with the world.

I’m not really sure what I expected to feel- older I guess. Because as a twelve year old, my 43 year old mom seemed much more grown-up than I feel now.

By nature, kids observe.  They watch everything we do, because what they hear doesn’t always make sense…until it does. I never understood my mom’s panic as she watched me fly down a ski run, until my kids did it with the same enthusiasm only the mountain edge seemed oddly closer than I remembered.

Once I became a parent, 43 became this “magical” number where I felt like I needed to have my shit together…just in case.

I don’t have it all together. By any means.

I won’t presume to understand the life of a single parent: the exhaustion, the frustration, the uncertainites. Growing up with a single parent, though, I learned some incredible lessons.

https://www.facebook.com/omforthemom/timeline?ref=page_internal1- Strength. Life throws plenty of curve balls and some will knock you flat on your butt. You don’t get back up because you want to…you do it because you have to.  Strength isn’t a choice, there simply is no other option. My mom was queen of putting on her “big girl pants” long before it was a greeting card.

2. Do it yourself. We didn’t/couldn’t wait for dad to come fix the screen, repaint the walls, or change a tire. It may not have been perfect, but it got done-DIY channels and youtube weren’t around yet. Buy your own set of tools.

3. Forget hindsight.  There are a million things in life we might do differently given the chance. But you can’t. You make the best decisions you can in that moment.

4. Friendship. You quickly learn that the number of friends is irrelevant, it’s the quality that matters. Someone you can call at three am, someone who will let you (or your whole family when need be) stay at your place: those friends are rare, but that’s what makes them special.

5. Time. We only get one shot at this thing called life. Travel, eat good food with great people, follow your passion. Life is far too short to waste on “what if” or “someday.”

Terrible things are going to happen to good people. But some really great things are going to happen too.

imageThere is no “magic” number when life will throw a curve. But it’s never an end, just a bend in the road. You may not be able to see what’s around the corner, and albeit scary, the next view may be remarkable.

It’s ok to wear your heart on your sleeve, laugh loudly, love deeply, and live passionately. Some might say, it’s the only way to live.

Om Philosophy photo credit

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It’s My Party: Unbeatable Favor and Gift ideas

Let the celebrations begin! Between birthdays, graduations, and weddings, there’s always something happening during the summer.  Don’t waste precious warm weather running around looking for favors and gifts, we’ve rounded up perfect ideas for you.

Whether you need kids craft activities, gift ideas for a sports fan, an eco-friendly baby shower gift, or any kind of party favor…look no further.

sport party
Sports Party Theme: Upcycled t-shirt drawstring bag, vintage trading card notepads, personalized recycled canvas bag, pop can charms & jewelry, collapsible water bottle, upcycled jersey drawstring bag, helmet table lamp, BoxPlay bat sticker sets, upcycled jersey bags, BoxPlay bowling pin sticker sets.

bug collage
It’s a Bugs Life/Nature Party
: BoxPlay camera sticker set, Endangered Species Bug Bite organic chocolates, Made By Me sustainable wood bug kit, BoxPlay binocular sticker set.

baby collage
They’re having a baby!
 
Custom upcycled paper flower bouquet (Dr. Seuss theme shown), organic cotton blanket, Bottom Balm, Green Envee Organics nut-free wash & lotion, Lavender & Chamomile (Relax) organic essential oil.

bday collage
Summer Birthday Party Favors
: Botanical paint packets, Keeki Pure & Simple lip shimmer, plantable flip-flop thank you card, BoxPlay ice cream truck sticker set, Made by Me sustainable wood truck set, cupcake crayons, The Earth, The Alphabet, and Me: 26 Earth-friendly activities, Let’s Go Green activity books, all-natural Glee Gum pops, sustainable wood wands.

wedding collage
Green wedding favors:
 Custom upcycled paper flower centerpiece/bouquet, plantable wedding dress thank you card/favor, recycled plastic flower vase, plantable heart confetti, plantable rustic wedding thank you card/favor, plantable wedding cake thank you card/favor, seeded heart favor box.

Want to save even more time? Check out these various themed favors and gift sets.

Why I think Peanut Allergies are garbage

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Ants on a log.  Apple slices dipped in peanut butter.  These were the lunches and snacks that covered the tables when I was a kid.  Food allergies were relatively unheard of…and I didn’t know anyone with a peanut allergy. Today, though, it’s entirely different story.  If you think food allergies- specifically peanut allergies- are everywhere you look, you’re not alone.  And that’s exactly why I think peanut allergies are a bunch of garbage.

Technically- I think they’re a bunch of chemical garbage.

In Illinois alone, severe food allergies have tripled in the past five years.

That number comes even after noting that

“in the last fifteen years, there has been a 50% increase in the number of children with food allergies. About 1 in 20 U.S. children have food allergies — a 50 percent increase from the late 1990s, according to a recent CDC survey.”

There’s more. According to FoodAllergy.org, between 1997 and 2008 US children with peanut allergies more than tripled.

Doctors are now asking why? Why the increase all of a sudden?  In my opinion, they should not be asking what’s happening today, but what happened 20 years ago.

Interestingly, 1997 was the first year that Roundup (with its highly controversal ingredient glyphosate) was widely used on soy and cotton and marked the integration of GMO crops.  Ok, but we’re talking about peanuts so why am I bringing up cotton?  Cotton crops are often rotated on the same fields as peanut crops.

Why is this of concern?  Cotton is the most chemically treated crop, and there’s no ramifications for using pesticides/herbicides that are illegal/toxic for human consumption. Want to guess which herbicide is heavily used on cotton crops? Roundup.

http://nationalpeanutboard.org/the-facts/how-peanuts-grow/Unlike harder shell tree nuts, the peanut is actually a legume: part of the bean family.  Unlike other beans, though, a peanut doesn’t grow on vines, it grows in the ground.  As you have probably noticed, a peanut shell is fairly soft and it’s porous. So, guess what…soil for cotton rich in glyphosate becomes peanuts rich in glyphosate & other toxins too.

Conventionally grown (non-organic, possibly GMO) peanuts are tested by the USDA to see which pesticides are found on the crops.

A few of the pesticides that have shown up in testing include:

Glyphosate: listed as “probably carcinogenic” by WHO in 2015
Piperonyl butoxite (PBO):  Hormone disruptor and carcinogen
DDE p, p:  Developmental / reproductive toxin, hormone disruptor
Pentachloroaniline (PCA): Hormone disruptor
Quintozene (PCNB): Hormone disruptor and carcinogen
Fluazinam:  Carcinogen
Pentachlorobenzene (PCB):  Hormone disruptor and carcinogen
Carboxin:  Developmental and reproductive toxin
Malathion:  Hormone disruptor and carcinogen and neurotoxin

Simply switching to an organic peanut butter isn’t a fool-proof solution though. Peanuts are susceptible to mold (another reason why fungicides are often used): one particular mold, Aspergillus flavus, produces aflatoxin-  a known carcinogen. Great.

Is there any good news for peanut lovers? Valencia peanuts are grown in a dry region where this mold doesn’t grow.  I’m not advocating eating Organic Valencia Peanut Butter if you have severe peanut allergies, but it may be worth looking into for non-allergy consumption.

http://www.sumasmountainfarms.ca/blog.php?id=12But the question remains.  Are ever-increasing peanut (and other food) allergies truly a reaction to the food itself or the chemicals on them?  My money is on the garbage sprayed on the soil & crops.

Here’s what I cannot understand.  In 2013, the  EPA raised the allowable concentration of glyphosate (Roundup) that Monsanto can spread on food crops, animal feed, and edible oils.

“Oilseed crops such as canola, soy, sunflower, flax and peanuts can now contain up to 40,000 parts per billion (ppb) glyphosate which is almost 60 times the minimum containment level for drinking water which even the EPA admits causes organ damage and reproductive effects.”

https://www.etsy.com/listing/118644939/similar?ref=error_page_redirectInstead of kids carrying their favorite lunch box to the cafeteria, we’ve created a generation of children more concerned with carrying their Epipen.

Peanut Growing photo credit
Hazmat photo credit
Epipen Pouch photo credit

10 Incredible Free Things You Can Get With Your Library Card…besides books

I am a library junkie. I love the books, the organization, the librarians (long gone are the humorless shushers), and the care given to re-shelving returned books. Having a library card is more than just a key to books, though. How valuable is that library card? As Matt Damon says in Good Will Hunting, “you dropped 150 grand on a(n)…education you could have got for a dollar fifty in late charges at the public library!” Even if reading isn’t your favorite pastime, there are still plenty of reasons to dig your library card out of the drawer and put it to use.

You might be surprised at these 10 freebies available with your card.

http://www.museumadventure.org/1. Museum Adventure Pass.  Show your library card at the circulation desk for free passes to various museums and attractions around your area. Some may be familiar (Brookfield Zoo, Catigny Park, or Chicago Botanic Garden), others are smaller- less crowded- attractions to discover.  Some passes are buy one get one free offers, others admit up to four people free. To see which attractions participate in your area, visit museumadventure.org or your library’s website.

2. Learn a Language. Sure, you could pay a couple hundred dollars for Rosetta Stone, or you can register for Mángo through your library. This app gives you access to nearly one hundred languages: from French & Spanish to https://www.mangolanguages.com/Sign Language and Thai.

You can keep track of time spent “studying” and progress throughout conversational courses in one language or all of them.  Lessons are presented for kids and adults. Perfect for anyone looking to learn a new language, brush up on a forgotten one, or prepare for a trip overseas.

IllinoisworkNetlogo3. Update Your Resume.  Ready to change careers? Need a little help updating your resume? Between certified job advisers, network meetings, mobile workforce center, and Small Business resources, there are plenty of options for job assistance.

https://www.facebook.com/fountaindalelib/photos/pb.152857130129.-2207520000.1434835231./10152720915615130/?type=3&theater4. Feed Your Hobby. Interested in gardening? Eager to learn a new recipe? Want to meet your favorite author? Always wanted to learn how to crochet? There are endless opportunities to support your hobbies, or to find a new one. Most events don’t require more commitment than a couple of hours and you can find both demonstration and hands-on classes.

https://eruditeslacker.wordpress.com/page/47/5. Enjoy an Hour To Yourself. Toddlers and young kids love their independence. And parents love a little alone time. Find a class that sparks their interest: story-time, art, music, theatre, building. Although you may be required to stay in the building during their class- it’s a free hour for you to curl up in a cozy chair with a book, catch up on emails, or enjoy a cup of coffee in silence (if you’re lucky enough to have a cafe in your library!).

http://wakeforest.tumblr.com/post/69966541541/lauren-suffoletto-left-leads-a-yoga-class-in-the6. Exercise. Ok, maybe it’s not the latest cross-fit craze, but it’s a great way to try a yoga, ballet, or gentle stretching class. Some are all ages, including “mommy and me,” while others are directed to only  adults.

Most of the classes, however, are taught by instructors from local studios and gyms. While you generally have to register for the class, they’re usually free.  It’s a great chance to try a new class without a big gym membership.

http://www.nevinslibrary.org/teens/teenprograms.html7. Kids & Teen Classes. Between sports, vacations, and lazy days at the pool, it’s difficult to make a full week (or longer!) commitment to camp. Kids classes are often drop-in (though more popular ones will require early registratio) which allows for flexible schedules. Keep their brains active with a variety of topics: theatre, robotics, crafts, creative writing, animation, gaming tournaments, coding, filmmaking, and so much more!

word basics8. Brush Up on Computer Skills. Technology not your strong suit? That’s ok.  You can find help on the basics, intro to Windows, social media, Excel, and PowerPoint. Many libraries have their own 3-d printer (there is a fee to use it, though) and plenty of computers to use for research, homework, or just surfing the web.

Drop-in times are also often available for specific questions for your devices.

http://myvillaproperties.com/san-ramon-valley-events-june-2015/9. Movie Marathon. Let’s face it, going to the movies is no longer cheap entertainment.  Yes, you can rent movies (free from the library!), but it’s also nice to have a theatre setting without emptying your wallet.  Check your library’s schedule for movie showings for kids, teens, and adults.

Snacks or popcorn are also generally provided during the free viewing! During the summer they may even show them in remote locations: under the stars or at the pool.

https://www.facebook.com/PlainfieldLibrary/photos/pb.68899617447.-2207520000.1434836904./10153530853892448/?type=3&theater10. Find Your Past. Ready to discover your roots? Whether you’re just beginning your trip into the past, or you’re stuck on a genealogy trail, the library can help. Their shelves are full of historical resources (maps, obituaries, photos, periodicals)- you just need to know where to look.

Good news, though, the librarians are available to help when you have no idea where to look! You may need to schedule their time, but they’ll love the thrill of the hunt & discovery as much as you do.

freegal_music11. Music, Books, Ebooks. Yes- I added a bonus one! Of course you’re aware that you can borrow books from the library.  But, did you know that if they don’t have the one you want they can bring it in from a different library? They’ll even let you know when it’s available. Even better- it can usually be done online & save you a trip.

In addition to books & movies, music and ebooks are also available for downloads. Kindle/Nook still sitting in the box because you can’t figure out how to use it? Guess who can help!

If “free” makes you happy, try your library’s summer/winter reading programs. You’ll have the chance to win/earn gift cards, totes, blankets, and sometimes bigger items like an iPod or Kindle just for reading or listening to books!

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5 Tips When Choosing Sunscreen: plus some of the best and worst sunscreens available

Hold onto your hats…sunscreen has become a billion dollar industry.  Long gone are the days when we’d slather our bodies with baby oil and lounge on the black-top for hours trying to achieve the perfect tan. Fortunately, we’ve become wiser about the dangers of skin damage and skin cancer over the years.

Although there are hundreds of sunscreens on the market, some of their ingredient lists seem more dangerous than the effects of the sun itself.  Even more frightening- according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG)

“…more than half of the sunscreens on the American market would not make it to store shelves in Europe.”

So, what does Europe know that we don’t? When it comes to skin care safety…a lot.  These 5 tips for choosing a safe sunscreen will help though.

https://www.turkeltaub.com/skin-cancer/can-daily-usage-of-sunscreen-protect-your-skin-against-aging/1. Ditch the Spray. Yes, it’s faster & more convenient, but it rarely goes on evenly. And, there is a huge risk of aerosolized droplets entering the lungs which may irritate the lung tissue or pass into the bloodstream.

2. Avoid toxic ingredients. Regardless of price- if these ingredients are listed leave the bottle out of your cart: oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate/retinyl acetate/retinyl linoleate/retinol (*while Vitamin-A is an antioxidant that may help reduce skin aging, it may actually trigger tumors and skin lesions when in direct sunlight).

3.  Skip SPF overload. After SPF 50, you’re not paying for more sun protection, you’re just paying more.

4. Don’t discredit seal-less options.  The Skin Cancer Foundation Seal of Approval may give you reassurance that the product is safe, but that seal also comes at a price…around $10,000.  Smaller companies may have resources to create a fabulous product, but not the finances to pay for the recognition.  Let the ingredients guide your decision, not just a seal of approval.

5. Sunscreen alone won’t prevent skin cancer. There is still much debate on what actually causes melanoma, but there is no uncertainty that sunburn increases your risk.  Using sunscreen is important to prevent sunburn, but don’t forget to wear (UVA & UVB) protective sunglasses, hats, and avoid prolonged sun exposure during the hottest hours of the day.

While the EWG sunscreen resource is fantastic, scrolling through it can take some time. So, we’ve rounded up some of their top (and bottom) choices for you…

10 Sunscreens that receive a Safe (Green) Rating

keekiAll Terrain AquaSport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Badger Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 15
California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+
Keeki Pure & Simple SPF 15
John Masters Suncare Natural Mineral Sunscreen, SPF 30
Juice Beauty Sport Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Nurture My Body Sunscreen, SPF 32
Sun Bum PRO Face Stick, SPF 30
The Honest Company Honest Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
Thinksport Sunscreen, SPF 50+

10 Sunscreens the fall into their “Hall of Shame

banana boatBanana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 100
Banana Boat Clear UltraMist Ultra Defense MAX Skin Protect Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 110
Coppertone Sport High Performance AccuSpray Sunscreen, SPF 70
Coppertone Sport High Performance Sunscreen, SPF 75
CVS Sport Clear Spray Sunscreen, SPF 100+
CVS Sport Sunstick Sunscreen, SPF 55
Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunscreen Body Mist, SPF 70
Neutrogena Wet Skin Sunscreen Spray, SPF 85+
NO-AD Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 60
Ocean Potion Protect & Nourish Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 70

 

sunscreen application photo credit

Bake yourself healthy

Remember coming home to fresh-baked cookies? A time when cake meant a celebration. When ice cream was a hard-earned treat.  Not anymore.  Grocery shelves are lined with endless “treats” that are no longer reserved for special occasions, but instead, seen as everyday snacks.

Each year, over 15,000 new “foodlike” substances are added to the shelves: non-dairy creamers, high-fructose corn syrup, synthetic sweeteners, carrageenan, and artificial colors to name a few.  Probably not the same ingredients you saw mom or dad use to make your chocolate chip cookies.

http://www.feministezine.com/feminist/books/The-Problem-that-Has-No-Name.htmlI know.  There’s simply no time to bake today.

We’re even too busy to find 10 minutes to make our own Rice Krispies Treats®.

Americans consume an average of 30o calories more today than they did in 1980.  No, a sudden increase in vegetables isn’t the reason.

Fancy coffee drinks, endless processed snacks, convenient crap, and out of whack portions are the culprits.

http://www.askwiki.net/How-to-Make-Homemade-CookiesIn regard to food today- we make less, buy more;  and eat more, enjoy less.

When was the last time you truly savored a homemade cookie?

Stop laughing.

What if you decided to only have cookies and treats in your home that were homemade (a box that reads “homestyle” is not the same thing!)?

What if, because they’re homemade, brownies and cakes were once again reserved for special occasions?

During the summertime, especially, there are countless opportunities for treats: ice cream, festivals, Popsicles.  So, what if, just for the summer, you changed your approach to treats.

imageInstead of bringing home imitation substitutes, limit your in-house treats to those that are homemade. Bake a pie out of fresh picked (by you or friends at the farmer’s market!) berries. Take a walk- or ride bikes- to the local ice cream shop.

 

Isn’t it cheaper, faster, and easier to just grab a box off the shelf?  Possibly.  But when it’s a occasional treat, instead of a daily snack, the cost to your wallet- and your health- decreases.  Bake with intention. Omit the guilt.

1950’s photo credit
Cookies photo credit

I blinked and my baby was gone

I remember a time when strangers would approach me in the store, look into my exhausted eyes, and tell me to “just wait- they’ll sleep until noon before you know it.” With two under two, that sounded like some kind of crazy parenting porn.  Just wait? I couldn’t wait!

kaelaAs parents we’re excited about each new milestone: first steps, first lost tooth, first day of school. And while it can seem like there’s a million miles between each of those steps, the day comes when we finally catch our breath, look up, and say ‘shit, how did we get here already?’

I blinked.

I blinked and my baby is going into high school.

I’ve been asked a dozen times this week if I’m ready for this.  I guess whether I’m ready or not is irrelevant.  I’ve never wished for my children to stay little forever: every stage has its challenges.

But yes, these school years go crazy fast.

My daughter is no longer a “little girl.”  She went from playing dress-up in my clothes, to wearing my size shoe, to growing taller than me.  All in a moment.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s my advice to those of you still wondering when-for the love of God- they’ll sleep past 6, or wipe their own butts, or give you five minutes of quiet…stop wishing.

It will happen, and once it does, you’re already onto the next step.

Never in a million years would I want to do junior high over again. And, watching your kids go through it can sometimes be just as difficult. While 8 years seems like forever, the span from first day of kindergarten to the last day of eighth grade is a minute.

Instead of wishing for each next milestone, stop for a moment, and just observe.

kaelaI don’t know what lies ahead, and I’m sure these next four years will go even faster than the last three, but I do know this…

while no longer a little girl, my daughter has become a young woman. One that is confident, strong, fiercely loyal, compassionate, and wise beyond her years.

So whether or not I’m ready for her to go to high school, I know that she is.

And though the schools are already stressing college and prerequisites, I’m going to take a breath and not wish for that madness to end.

There is an incredible path and countless journeys ahead of her, no need to rush them.  I’ll pack some snacks and this time wish for the slow road.

 

No wasted food: 10 uses for bread & chips

Nobody lives at my house.  Nobody finishes the milk and puts it back in the refrigerator. Nobody leaves an open bag of chips in the back of the pantry. And certainly nobody opens another box of cereal when there are already two open. To be more accurate, I really should call nobody “wasn’t me.”

According to my scientific study, the most wasted foods in your homes- after lettuce and chicken– is bread and chips.

http://www.chicagonow.com/shop-small-2013/2013/06/shop-small-day-167-katic-breads/I get it.

Between the loaves for lunches, buns for dinners, tortilla wraps…it’s just too much.  Unless you have my absolute favorite katic breads (photo) which rarely make it beyond the car!

Assuming it hasn’t gone moldy, you can always freeze the bread or feed it to the ducks (please don’t give them moldy bread either).

If you’re looking for other solutions though…

1. Sliced sandwich bread? Make french toast.
http://www.brooklynsupper.net/2014/12/brown-sugar-and-cinnamon-baked-french-toast/2. Heartier french or challah bread? Try baked french toast!
3. Loaf butts?  Toast, then crumble and use in place of bread crumbs or panko.
4. Think dessert…bread pudding.
5. Corn tortillas? Bake your own tortilla chips (seriously, it’ll take you 10 minutes tops).
6. Baguettes, sub rolls, or hot dog buns? Slice for make-shift crostini or mini pizzas.
7. Rolls or buns? Cube, toss with a little olive oil, add your favorite seasoning and bake @ 10 minutes for homemade croutons.

Various opened bags of chips and cereals cluttering your pantry?

8. Substitute chip/pretzel crumbs for bread crumbs/panko for fish, chicken, or meatloaf.
http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-recipes/10-amazing-mason-jar-recipes/gluten-free-cereal-jar9. Create your own mash-up. Set all of the open bags of chips/cereal on the counter & create (great project for the kids) customized snack jars. You can even add a few nuts, chocolate chips, or raisins to the mix.
10. Stop paying extra for yogurt containers that have added packaging for cereal toppings & use your cereal as yogurt/ice cream toppings.

The essential idea behind not wasting food is to

“treat leftovers like ingredients” – Robin Hilmantel

Whether it’s last night’s entrée, fruits & veggies, or pantry staples- look at your leftovers/ingredients as if your personal sous chef has already done the prep work for you. Containers of rice from weekend take-out? You’ve just shaved 20 minutes off making homemade rice pudding.

Really stuck? Set out 5 ingredients and create your own “Chopped” challenge.

What’s the most creative way you’ve used up leftovers or staples?

Baked french toast photo credit
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15 ways to use up leftovers

One chicken breast?  A single hamburger?  You can’t feed your family on half of a pork chop, right? Of course you had plans for those leftovers from last night’s dinner. But, you find yourself tossing them…again…with the next garbage day.

http://bloggingpainters.com/painting-like-leftovers-fridge/It seems either you love leftovers, or you hate them. Personally, I love opening the fridge & finding it stocked with leftovers.  Shrimp fajita for breakfast? Yes, please!  Most people, though, wouldn’t agree.

Since last time we focused our 23 ways to stop wasting food  on fruits and vegetables, today it’s meat and chicken.

Sometimes leftovers just need a creative approach. Then they feel less like last night’s dinner and more like a delicious new meal. Don’t be fooled by singles; they stretch further than you’d believe.

Chicken:
1. Slice thin for chicken wraps. Instead of mayo, add avocado for creaminess. Make the wrap a little heartier with the lettuce, cucumber, and peppers waiting in your vegetable drawer.
2. Quesadillas: Shred remaining chicken with two forks (since this is easier to do when it’s warm, save time and shred it before storing in fridge as leftovers), add black beans, and queso fresco to tortillas. Serve with rice, corn, and shredded lettuce.
3. Chicken Salad: shredded chicken, your favorite mayonnaise (I’m hooked on Just Mayo), and that infamous corn salsa…done! Use to top salads or mini sandwiches
http://lazygirlgourmet.com/2012/08/30/5-ingredient-slow-cooker-bbq-pulled-chicken-sliders/4. BBQ Chicken Sliders: mix shredded chicken with bbq sauce. Heat and serve on slider buns with your favorite sides.
5. Buffalo Chicken Pizza: mix shredded chicken with hot sauce, top fresh or prepared pizza dough (check your local pizza place, sometimes they’ll sell you balls of pizza dough) with a thin layer of blue cheese dressing (believe me, I don’t like it either, but it’s delicious here), layer shredded chicken across the top, then add fresh mozzarella & bake.
6. Chicken Tortilla Soup: This is a great way to use up those vegetables too. Top with crushed tortillas & avocado.

Hamburger:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/grilling/grilling-central-burgers-and-hot-dogs/what-to-make-with-leftover-burgers.html7. Spaghetti Sauce. Crumble cooked burger and add to sauce as it simmers.
8. Tacos: Crumble cooked burger and add to taco shells with shredded cheese, chopped lettuce, salsa, and avocado.
9. Chili: Add crumbled hamburger to your favorite chili recipe instead of buying more meat to cook.

Pork Chops:
http://www.food.com/recipe/leftover-pork-chop-stir-fry-34272810. Pork Stir Fry: Thinly slice pork chop, add various on-hand vegetables (broccoli, snap peas, peppers, carrots) and stir-fry with garlic and onions. Serve over rice or noodles.
11. Spring Rolls: Thinly slice pork chop, add carrot strips, hoisin sauce, cucumbers and roll in rice paper wrappers.

Deli Meat: tired of sandwiches?
12. Thinly slice ham and add to scrambled eggs
http://www.chaserivers.com/chase-rivers-flair/2012/03/ham-cheese-crepes-with-asparagus.html13. Thinly slice ham, turkey, or chicken, add various vegetables (asparagus, spinach, chopped broccoli), and cheese for savory crepes.
14. Thinly slice roast beef, saute with peppers and onions, top with provolone and serve on crusty bread.

Buffet!
15. Create your own smorgasbord. Line up the counter with all of your leftovers, let everyone pile up their own plate!

What about all of the bread  that you’re throwing away? That’s the next focus.  Make sure you are following FTE Daily Green so you don’t miss a post!

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