Thursday, February 28, 2008

7 Reasons to Drink Green Tea

From the webpage

The steady stream of good news about green tea is getting so hard to ignore that even java junkies are beginning to sip mugs of the deceptively delicate brew. You'd think the daily dose of disease-fighting, inflammation-squelching antioxidants--long linked with heart protection--would be enough incentive, but wait, there's more! Lots more.

Several polyphenols - the potent antioxidants green tea's famous for - seem to help keep cancer cells from gaining a foothold in the body, by discouraging their growth and then squelching the creation of new blood vessels that tumors need to thrive. Study after study has found that people who regularly drink green tea reduce their risk of breast, stomach, esophagus, colon, and/or prostate cancer.

Got a cut, scrape, or bite, and a little leftover green tea? Soak a cotton pad in it. The tea is a natural antiseptic that relieves itching and swelling. Try it on inflamed breakouts and blemishes, sunburns, even puffy eyelids. And that's not all. In the lab, green tea helps block sun-triggered skin cancer, whether you drink it or apply it directly to the skin - which is why you're seeing green tea in more and more sunscreens and moisturizers.

Having healthy blood pressure - meaning below 120/80 - is one thing. Keeping it that way is quite another. But people who sip just half a cup a day are almost 50 percent less likely to wind up with hypertension than non-drinkers. Credit goes to the polyphenols again (especially one known as ECGC). They help keep blood vessels from contracting and raising blood pressure.

Green tea may also keep the brain from turning fuzzy. Getting-up-there adults who drink at least two cups a day are half as likely to develop cognitive problems as those who drink less. Why? It appears that the tea's big dose of antioxidants fights the free-radical damage to brain nerves seen in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

The younger and healthier your arteries are, the younger and healthier you are. So fight plaque build-up in your blood vessels, which ups the risk of heart disease and stroke, adds years to your biological age (or RealAge), and saps your energy too. How much green tea does this vital job take? About 10 ounces a day, which also deters your body from absorbing artery-clogging fat and cholesterol.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Turns out that green tea speeds up your body's calorie-burning process. In the every-little-bit-counts department, this is good news!

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

Recipe from from a reader named Barbara.

Chet, here is a great meal for dinner or for those pot
luck meals. This is one of my favorite dishes!

1 can (14 1/2 oz) of diced tomatoes
1 can cream of chicken soup
Small can of diced Ortega green chiles (blue can)
2 Tbs of Minute Tapioca
1 onion diced
12 corn tortillas diced
Grated Cheese
3-4 Pieces of boneless chicken

Place chicken in foil or oven bag (make sure completely
wrapped) and cook in oven at 400F degrees for one hour.
Once baked, dice.

In a large bowl combine the following:

Tomatoes, cream of chicken soup, Ortega chiles, and
tapiaco. This will make a soup mixture.

Layer the crockpot the following order:

1/3 of each

1) Diced Tortillas
2) Diced Chicken
3) Spread Soup Mix
4) Diced Onion
5) Grated Cheese

Repeat each layer in same order. Cook in crockpoot for 4
hours on high or 7 hours on low.

Everyone will be asking you for this recipe - enjoy.

Note from Lucy: For the chicken, I just cooked some extra one night for dinner and used the leftovers for this cassarole. Yumm. I love easy crockpot recipes and this is a good one.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Pineapple Baked Beans and Beef

Recipe from

1 pound ground beef (extra lean)
28-oz can baked beans
8-oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

In skillet, brown beef, drain. Transfer to crock pot. Add
remaining ingredients, and mix well. Cover and cook on
low for 8 hours. Serve in bowls.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tidbits from Dollar Stretcher

My Allowance Card

I like the idea of the reloadable gift card for spending money. I have done that with my "clothing allowance." Being an avid clothes shopper, I budget for the clothing I may want with whatever percentage that works for my budget. I put that on the reloadable card. When the clothing allowance is gone, it's gone until next time. This way, I can get a garment anytime from almost anywhere on the Internet or at the store or a catalogue. It goes on this budgeted gift card. This works for me! I don't feel like I've overspent, and I'm not guilty of bringing something new home without thinking about it first. My wants" no longer interfere with my "needs." C in South Carolina
Note from Lucy: This sounds like a great idea. I carry around cash for my groceries but this sounds like a great way to do a clothes allowance or any other allowance for that matter.

Time for Forever

According to the United States Postal Service website, on May 12, 2008, postage is going up one cent on first class stamps. However, if you purchase stamps now at 41 cents with the "forever liberty bell" logo, you can send your mail after May 12 with them being honored for the 41 cents you already paid. It's time to stock up on stamps. A two-ounce letter will be 59 cents and postcards will be 27 cents. I don't believe there are forever stamps for anything but first class. Check with the post office or go to for more information. Those pennies add up as we all know! Skip the pretty picture stamps, get the forever stamps, and save! Jacque Z. in Iowa
Note from Lucy: I bought my forever stamps last week and I will be buying more before the May 12th deadline. That "forever" has a nice ring to it.

Whiter Teeth

For whiter teeth, swish hydrogen peroxide in your mouth twice a day before brushing. Before long, you will be wearing a whiter, brighter smile. The active ingredient in Crest strips is peroxide in a gel form. Not only will you get whiter teeth, but it can also help fight off gingivitis. B. H.
Note from Lucy: I like using good ole' fashioned peroxide and baking soda for a good tooth brushing. The more I read about all the uses for peroxide the more I like it.

Cash for Old Books

I've found a couple of websites that pay cash for used books. They are and Both are mainly for non-fiction books, old textbooks, technical manuals, etc. But I have also sold a few fiction books to
them. You look up the ISBN on their sites to see if they are buying it, and if so, they will tell you the price that they would pay. Check both sites, as sometimes one site will buy a book and the other isn't interested, or they will offer different prices. does not have a minimum order, and requires a minimum $10 order. It is completely free. You print off a packing list to include in the box, as well as prepaid mailing label, so you don't have to pay any shipping charges either. You get an email when they receive your books, and about a week after that, you get your check in the mail! Cash4books even adds an extra 3% to your payment amount if you choose to use PayPal instead of them cutting you a check! So far, I've made about $100 and have been able to declutter some of my older books from my bookcases. Marla B. in Holland, MI
Note from Lucy: This sounds like a terrific idea. I have also sold books that I didn't want at the half priced book store in our area. They don't pay much but I get more for them than I would at a garage sale.

Grime Spritzer

I keep a spray bottle of 2/3 white vinegar and 1/3 water next to the kitchen sink. When I have dishes or utensils that need extra scrubbing because of dried on grime, I simply spray with my spray bottle, wait a few minutes and wash as usual. No more elbow grease needed! Jacqueline K.
Note from Lucy: Vinegar is another one of those multi-useful items. I use it to clean my and for health reasons.

I'm a Member

I work for a medium-sized law firm. My buddy was heading to the Verizon store to pay his bill and I tagged along. While there, I decided to purchase a cell phone holster for my mother (she is on my cell phone plan for savings purposes and I had recently convinced her to upgrade her phone for free). When the sales clerk was ringing up my purchase, he asked if I had a workplace discount. I assured him that I didn't and he asked where I worked. When I told him, he said, "Oh, I set up their account. You have a 10% discount." He applied this to my purchase and to my monthly statement. The monthly savings will pay for a little more than one cell phone bill per year! Perhaps others out there work for mid- to large-sized firms and are also unaware of discounts they are eligible for through their workplace. My compliments to the Verizon clerk for taking the time to check!
Note from Lucy: My daughter gets a Sprint discount from the company she works for. I know that I can get a discount thru my Ameriplan business, I'll have to go check it out again.

I've been busy working to get our Ham radio "General" class set up as well as trying to get tax work done.... The grandkids are back home with mommy and daddy and it's a little quiter around here. We had a nice cool front push thru last night and it is down in the 50's here for today. We have clear blue skies and a hint of spring in the air........ Have a great week everyone!

Adding on: I got this in the email from my friend Richard Sutton a little bit ago and thought you might like it..HeHe...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Healthier Casseroles

I grew up eating casseroles, with four kids in the family it was easier and cheaper to make them. When TF and I got married, he asked me not to go casserole crazy. I wanted to make healthy meals that would not put pounds on this body. Kids came along and the casseroles resurfaced, not a lot but a few here and there. A couple of weeks ago, I read an article in the Houston Chronicle “Flavor” section about healthy casseroles and thought it worthy to write about. Here goes:

Casserole is a broad term that applies to any food baked and served in the same dish. In America, casseroles got a big push when women started working outside the home. Manufacturers of canned foods published recipes that emphasized the convenience of one pot cooking and can openers. How many of you remember the tuna casserole with potato chips on top? My mom was not a good cook, dad did most of the cooking in our house. When mom did cook, it was dishes with tuna and potato chips. Yek! Casseroles were easy to put together and they were economical, stretching meat with the addition of pasta or rice. They can be prepared in advance and they freeze nicely. Depending on the size of your family, a typical 9” x 13” pan in enough for two meals and left-overs are easily reheated in the microwave.

One rap against casseroles over the years has been artery-clogging combinations of ground beef, sour cream, eggs and cheese, lots of cheese. But with a few tweeks, casseroles can be part of a healthy diet.

Reducing is the first line of defense. For example, the amount of butter in a recipe can be cut by one-fourth with no discernible difference in taste, says nutrition and health specialist Susan Mill-Grey of Missouri. And if a casserole recipe calls for salt, it can always be omitted.

Second, learn to substitute for the high-fat, high-sodium offenders. Most of the time, when low-fat or low-sodium substitutes are mixed in among the other ingredients, “No one can tell the difference unless you tell them ahead of time and put it in their mind,” says Shelly Summar, weight management program coordinator at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

Among the suitable substitutes are:

Meats: Summer recommends using meat that is at least 90 percent lean. When cooking with turkey, look for packages labeled “breast”. Ground turkey that isn’t breast meat may contain skin and dark meat with more fat and calories, she says.

Starches: You can triple the fiber in a casserole by using whole-wheat pasta in place of egg noodles. “They’re great – non sticky, gummy pasta like they used to be,” Summar says. Use more fibrous brown rice in place of white rice. If family members, particularly children, have issues with the darker-hued whole-grain noodles or rice, start by substituting whole-grain for one-fourth of the regular noodles. Then increase the proportion each time you make the casserole, Summer says.

Vegetables: Colorful vegetables not only boost the nutrition of casseroles but also add visual interest to the typically beige dishes. Cooks can usually get away with including 50 percent more vegetables than a recipe calls for. If a recipe doesn’t call for vegetables, add some. Tough veggies like broccoli and carrots may need to be precooked (cut them in uniform chunks), while corn and peas can be folded into the casserole right before baking, says registered dietitian Suzanne Havala Hobbs.

Sauces: Mainstays include cheese and other dairy products, as well as canned cream soups. Light or reduced- fat sour cream, mayonnaise, milk, cheese and canned soup can be substituted for full-fat products with little difference in taste or texture. Be careful using fat-free products, however. Fat free cheese does not melt well, and fat-free sour cream or skim milk might turn a casserole watery, Havala Hobbs says. One option is to use a full-fat product with a more assertive flavor, but less of it. For example, instead of 2 cups of Cheddar cheese, substitute 1 ½ cups sharp cheddar.

Healthier Tater Tot Casserole:
(Recipe from More casserole recipes at

1 medium onion, chopped
1 TBL. Olive oil
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
¾ cup sliced mushrooms
1 pound extra-lean ground turkey
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 ½ TBL. Onion powder
1 TBL. Paprika
1 (2 pound) bag frozen Tater Tots
2 (10.5 ounce) cans low-sodium cream of mushroom soup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper, carrots and mushrooms and cook until soft. Add the turkey, parsley, onion powder and paprika, and cook until turkey is browned and fully cooked. Evenly distribute meat mixture in a 9”x13” baking dish. In a large bowl, combine frozen tater tots and soup. Top casserole with the potato mixture. If desired, sprinkle with extra parsley and paprika. Bake 55 to 60 minutes.

Makes 8 servings, each 283 calories (36 percent calories from fat), 11 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 28 milligrams cholesterol, 33 gram carbohydrates, 13 grams protein, 471 milligrams sodium and 4 grams fiber.

Note from Lucy: I love tinkering with casserole recipes, to see if I can make it healthier. One of my favorites is the green bean casserole with onion rings on top. What are some of your favorite casseroles? Diane, I know you have some. What about you Jamie Dawn or Rachel. Anyone else?

I've been babysitting the grandkids this weekend. I've got my hands full. Have a great week everyone.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Whose hall of fame are you in?

I was on the way back from taking my grandson home tonight while listening to talk radio. Jeff Bagwell, retired Houston Astro, was the guest speaker on the show. The host asked him “Do you think you will ever get into the Hall of Fame?” Jeff answered saying he didn’t know but who wouldn’t want to be in any Hall of Fame? I got to thinking about that and wondered about the different kind of “Hall of Fames.” I don’t think I would want to be in the Murders Hall of Fame, you know right up there with Jeffery Dahlmar. No not that one! What about the Worst Dancers Hall of Fame. (My dancing is practically non existent so this one I actually could make.) But what Hall of Fame would I like to be inducted in to? I think the one that I would like to be in the most would be the one that Jesus has waiting for me after I exit this mortal life.

“Here she comes! Lucy’s on her way, YEA!!!! She’s here. Mom, dad and other family and friends are waiting for me as I enter heavens door. What a homecoming that would be. I envisioned the angels cheering as I arrived. I walk into the waiting arms of the Lord and give him a big hug. I fulfilled my earthly duties and was “voted” in. I know it sounds silly, but that is what went thru my mind as he uttered those words. It is funny how a few words can send you off on tangents.

Next post!: How to make casseroles healthy. As Paul Harvey says. “Good Day”

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Choosing Healthy Breads and Cereals

Posted Mon, Jan 28, 2008, 6:09 pm PST on Yahoo Health: By Joy Bauer

When it comes to choosing a healthy breakfast cereal and loaf of bread, people are often confused.

Here's my advice on what to look for in your grocery store and some of my favorite brand name recommendations. Please know I have absolutely NO financial connection or affiliation to ANY of the companies or brands that I mention.

Joy's Guide to Buying Cereal and Bread
Ideally, your bread and breakfast cereal should be whole grain and low-calorie. The best tool for determining whether specific brands provide ample whole grains is to read their labels.

Check the food product's ingredient list and ensure one of the first ingredients starts with the word "whole" or "oats." Phrases without the word "whole," like stoned wheat, cracked wheat, and enriched wheat flour do not guarantee the presence of whole grain.

When Choosing Bread: Choose brands that are whole grain and calorie-smart (no more than "80 calories" per slice for bread).

Some brands that fit the bill include: Arnold's Carb Counting 100% whole wheat, Home Pride 100% whole wheat, Pepperidge Farm 100% whole wheat, Sara Lee Heart Healthy 100% whole wheat Classic, Sara Lee Soft and Smooth 100% whole wheat, and Weight Watchers 100% whole wheat.

When Choosing Cereal: Ensure the first ingredient is whole grain, then use my following guideline per ¾ - 1 cup serving:

120 calories or less
No more than 6 grams sugar
At least 3+ grams fiber

Some brands I recommend include: Wheaties, Total, Kashi Heart to Heart, Kashi Go Lean, Life - original version only, MultiGrain Cheerios, Complete Bran Flakes, Barbara's Cinnamon Puffins, Barbara's Shredded Spoonfuls, Barbara's Grain Shop and Special K-Protein Plus version.

Note from Lucy: I have started back to making my own Whole Wheat Bread. I know what is in it and it tastes better. It doesn't hurt that I have a wheat grinder and have access to whole wheat berries. By grinding my own wheat, I know that I will get all of the nutrition possible. Refined white flour has all of it's vitimans stripped out in the refining process. Many people don't like the taste of whole wheat, but there is an alternative to "Hard Red Wheat". Hard White Wheat is awesome. It does not have that nutty wheaty taste that most people associate with whole wheat and it still has all of the nutrition of the red wheat. If you want true whole wheat bread, make sure that it reads "100% whole wheat flour as the first ingredient on the label. If it says anything else then it is not true whole wheat bread.

Another reason that I don't like buying my whole wheat bread at the grocery store is that there are all kinds of additives added to it. The reason for this is simple, "Shelf life." Homemade bread will not last as long as store bought, simple but true. Luckly, at our house, it doesn't last long at all.

Another thing: If you don't want to go thru the process of kneading your bread and the long process of making bread, then you can use a bread machine. I use an Oster and it does a wonderful job. If you have any questions, email me and I will give you more details.

FYI: If you haven't seen the movie "August Rush", go see it....Bonnie and I went to see it at the dollar theatre last night and it was wonderful. Anyone that loves music will like this chick flick. Naomi, you have to rent this one.

Have a great week everyone!