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Nutrition Hacks to Get Back on Track #HamiltonBeach

I have a strong suspicion that I am not alone with getting off track when COVID-19 hit back in March. All of our routine, normalcy and good habits went flying out the window when we originally thought we would be home for only a few short weeks. It has now been almost six months since we left the office and have not been back, and many of those bad habits have caught up with me.

I let the majority of my fitness and nutrition goals go these last few months and it has taken a toll on my body. I was becoming a workaholic, constantly at my laptop working without getting up and moving around for breaks. My final wake up call was not fitting into my favourite pants, which prompted me to go old school and take my body measurements with a measuring tape. Needless to say, this sprung me into action – I needed to get back to the gym and fighting my weight gain in the kitchen.

Having faced the struggles of losing weight in the past, being both successful and unsuccessful over the years, I knew that half (or even more) of the battle is done in the kitchen. Eating proper balanced meals, enough protein and increasing vegetables is key to losing weight and gaining muscle mass. But I was struggling to balance work at home with my actual home life with two kids. I was (and still am at times) losing this struggle – I am not ashamed to admit that many times I caved and gave in to snacks that were not healthy for me and my kids to try to save my sanity (not to mention to ensure I joined Zoom meetings on time). I needed something to help me prepare easy, healthy snacks that would support my goals but that did not make my life harder and more complex.

Being prepared with ready made (or easy to make) snacks and meals was key for me when I lost just over one hundred pounds. This time around I am missing the actual time and energy to put into preparing meals (odd to say when I am at home all the time!). I love eggs – they are the perfect protein to me. Easy on the stomach, healthy, filling and you can add veggies to make it the perfect snack.

Hamilton Beach has developed the perfect portion sized Egg Bites maker! It is compact, easy to use and clean. I was able to easily prepare the ingredients for the egg bites, set the machine up to cook while I continued to work, teach my kids or just take a break with my coffee. I prepared several different variations of the egg bites – plain ones with just cheese, egg bites with peppers and mushrooms (I don’t use milk and found that these took on the colour of the mushrooms so my kids refused to eat them) and my personal favourite egg bites with collared greens and cheese (see below for this recipe). I would make bulk egg bites so that I could keep them in the fridge to munch on in the afternoon instead of the Oreos and sweets that I was turning to.

As a side note – I prepared the egg mixture in a large measuring cup as I just found that it was easier to mix up the ingredients and to pour into the egg bites maker.

Here is my recipe for the egg bites with collared greens which ended up being my favourite way to have them. I use water in my egg bites to save some calories but if you prefer milk in your eggs go for it. The only difference I noticed was that when I made the egg bites with water they were smaller in size.

Egg Bite Recipes

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 large eggs
  • 1 slice of cheese (or shredded cheese)
  • 2 to 3 leaves of collard greens, chopped finely
  • half of a small onion

Directions

  1. Crack the eggs into a large measuring cup. Beat the eggs and add in a little bit of water (I used water for less calories but you can add milk if you prefer).
  2. Add the collared greens and onions into the measuring cup and mix.
  3. Pour the mixture into the Egg Bites Maker to just below the max line.
  4. Rip apart pieces of the slice of cheese and add into the mixture (it was just easier for me to use the sliced cheese that I always have on hand but if you shred cheese, add this too).
  5. Turn on the machine and allow them to cook.
  6. Enjoy!

Interested in learning more about this Hamilton Beach product? Check them out here. Make sure to follow Hamilton Beach on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for recipes, products and more.

What is your favourite way to have eggs?

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Above the Star Book Review

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The 8th Island Trilogy includes Above the StarBelow the Moon, and Inside the Sun. Over the three books, we follow the adventures of a quirky family, the Wellsleys. The main characters are frumpy senior citizen Archie, his daughter-in-law, Tessa, and his ill fourteen-year-old granddaughter Ella.

About Above the Star

When frumpy senior citizen Archie goes in search of his missing son in the Spanish Canary Islands, he stumbles upon a higher mission: locating a magical cure for his ailing fourteen-year-old granddaughter, Ella. Using a portal-jumping device called the Tillastrion, Archie and a stone-headed creature named Zeno are transported to Jarr-Wya, a magnificent yet terrifying island in a connected realm―along with Ella and her strong-willed mother, Tessa, who accidentally stow away on this not-so-secret quest.

What they find on Jarr-Wya is an island tortured by a wicked Star anchored in the sea, and a raging three-way battle for dominion between the stone-wielding Bangols, the fiery Olearons, and the evil Millia sands. Ella’s wit and resourcefulness emerge in this new world, while Tessa is forced to confront her long-buried secrets and a confusing new love triangle. When Ella is captured, Tessa and Archie―with the help of a company of peculiar allies―set out to save her and unravel the terrible mystery of her cure. A mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night adventure of three unlikely heroes, Above the Star reminds us that even the smallest act of bravery can transform our lives and the fates of the worlds around us.

My Thoughts

In this novel we are introduced to quite a few key characters in this series and an amazing magical world that is facing a crisis that could destroy the world as they know it.

At the heart of the story is a family that is struggling through their daughter’s diagnosis (and potential death), a father who has disappeared and a grandfather who is quirky. Archie (grandfather) is determined to find his son and find a cure to save his granddaughter. He follows a magical trail that takes himself, his daughter in law and sick grandchild on a cruise and mysterious clues tracking his son. Nothing could have prepared him or any one on that cruise for the horrors and mystery that awaits them when they are all accidentally transported to a new world.

When the ship is transported to a brand new world, they are met with violence and death which threw me a bit (I wasn’t expecting this at all!). Alexis draws us into this new world with brilliant descriptions of the people and land, I could easily bring the characters to life in my own mind. It is a beautiful but terrifying reality that they live in.

I loved the characters, they are real, with flaws that we can all relate to and struggle with parenting, making decisions and coming to terms with illness. You can’t help but adore Ella, who is smart, full of spunk and is a fighter. She is a young girl caught between wanting to enjoy her youth and knowing that she is so unwell. She struggles with her relationship at times with her Mother but loves her family more than anything in the world. Her family is doing everything they can to fight for Ella, keep themselves together, and picking up the pieces after her Father disappears. Throw in some magical creatures, mysterious civilization, a world that is falling apart and at war – you have quite the tale!

This is an excellent novel for readers of all ages, there is something for everyone, adventure, science fiction, mystery and more. It is well written with well developed characters that you just can’t help but love. It is a definite must read!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters, Target, Book Depository and Google Play.

Rating: 4.5/5

About the Author

Alexis Marie Chute is an award-winning author, artist, photographer, art curator, filmmaker, and public speaker. She has received over 40 noteworthy distinctions for her visual and literary work. Her award-winning fantasy series The 8th Island Trilogy includes, Above the Star, Below the Moon, and Inside the Sun. The series has been described as “A WRINKLE IN TIME meets THE PRINCESS BRIDE” by The Perpetual You magazine, and “Fast and bizarre… never a dull moment” by Forward Reviews. The 8th Island Trilogy “weaves STAR WARS-like characters with a WONDER-like message to form an enrapturing read for blooklovers of all ages” – US Review of Books. Chute’s bestselling memoir, Expecting Sunshine: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Pregnancy After Loss, was a top Kirkus title of 2017 and received a plethora of other literary distinctions. The memoir was accompanied by the feature documentary of the same name, which has screened internationally for the last three years. Chute received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art and Design from the University of Alberta, Canada, and studied at Media Design school in Auckland, New Zealand. She graduated valedictorian with her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, USA. Chute is a highly regarded public speaker. She has presented on art, writing, bereavement, and the healing capacities of creativity around the world. Contact the Author/Artist for bookings info@alexismariechute.com When not in her art/photo studio or at her computer, Chute loves to spend quality time with her family, read fiction and non-fiction, watch reality TV, paddleboard, and canoe. She is not a winter person but lives in frosty Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with her husband and their three living children.

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Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Wrong Mr. Darcy Book Review

What begins as a job soon has Derek and Hara hurtling into the beauty of complicated family, friendship, and love and begs the question: Was this an error of judging by first impressions—or are some love stories just too good to be true?

About The Wrong Mr. Darcy

Hara Isari has had her eye on her career. Born and raised in Oregon, and looking for the chance to hit it big in the world of sports reporting as an African American-Japanese American woman, Hara is determined to let nothing stand in her way. The only thing that matters to Hara now is covering enough sports stories to keep her small-town paper in business, while climbing the national ranks in a male driven domain to make her father proud, not to mention keeping her mother off her back about impressing men. Love is nowhere on her agenda, despite what fate might tell her.

Basketball rookie Derek Darcy is well-known as the team bench rider in Boston. But lately he’s been trying to score big to maintain his spot. When he meets Hara, first while she’s eavesdropping in a SUV and the next time during an interview with his teammate, she has every idea who Derek Darcy is and ends up chasing after a story that could bring down his team. What begins as a job soon has Derek and Hara hurtling into the beauty of complicated family, friendship, and love and begs the question: Was this an error of judging by first impressions—or are some love stories just too good to be true?

My Thoughts

Hara is a hard working, determined young woman with one dream on her mind – to make it in the male dominant sports reporting world. She has always loved sports but her life was changed when her father was sentenced when she was a young girl. Her Mother has since then done all she can to try to ensure Hara finds a young, rich man but Hara wants to make a name for herself writing about sports. The two are at odds throughout the novel, as her Mother does not seem to truly understand her daughter.

She wins the chance of a lifetime – the opportunity to travel to the big city and to interview one of the top basketball rookies. She can’t even begin to fathom her own luck. The opportunity of a lifetime soon becomes rocky and things are not quite what they seem. She doesn’t fit in with this crowd, no one trusts her and worse – she may have won this opportunity through an unfair advantage. My heart was sore for her, as I know so many of us as women can relate to this situation – where you feel as though your opinion doesn’t matter because you are a woman or you have earned an opportunity unfairly because you are a woman (especially in a male dominant sector).

The one person she thought she could never trust (Derek) ends up being the one person who is truly on her side as she goes through a series of ups and downs in this novel. There are a lot of ups and downs in this novel so be prepared, some which may be difficult for readers. The book touches on abortion, attempted suicide, miscarriage, so please keep this in mind when you begin to read the novel.

This was a light novel that gave a different look at the world of basketball and a young woman’s journey to break into the world of sports reporting. The one part that I wish had a stronger focus on it was the secret world of bribery and scandals that could rock the basketball world.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 3.5/5

About the Authors

EVELYN LOZADA, is a high-profile American-Latina reality television personality, entrepreneur, author and philanthropist. She is best known for her role on VH1’s hit series Basketball Wives (2010-present), OWN’s hit series Livin’ Lozada (2015), author of the first installment of the book series: The WivesAssociation: Inner Circle (2012) and creator of Healthy Boricua (A Puerto Rican Lifestyle Guide to Healthy Living). Evelyn has become a national trendsetter, a “go to” fitness export, jewelry designer, fashion and beauty maven, social media royalty and a stimulating voice and proactive supporter of causes that effect women and girls through the Evelyn Lozada Foundation. Evelyn is a Bronx native, mother of two (Shaniece Hairston and Carl Leo Crawford) that currently resides in Los Angeles.

Holly Lörincz is a successful collaborative writer and owner of Lorincz Literary Services. She is an award-winning novelist (Smart Mouth, The Everything Girl) and co-author (best-selling Crown Heights, and How to Survive a Day in Prison) living in Oregon.

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Nature’s Light Spectacular Book Review

Lightning, rainbows, auroras! Discover Earth’s most amazing natural phenomena in this adventure around the globe, including a glow-in-the-dark poster. 

About Nature’s Light Spectacular

Follow two intrepid explorers as they witness the Northern Lights, marvel in wonder at glow worm caves, go hunting for double rainbows, and dodge volcanic lightning. A perfect book for young explorers. Turn off the light to see a tear-out poster, featuring the stages of a solar eclipse.

Each spread features an enchanting illustration of a different natural phenomenon, animated by a description of the science behind it, told in exciting prose.

You will explore:

  • volcanic lightning
  • meteor showers
  • double rainbows
  • sun dogs
  • glowworm caves
  • super blood moon
  • light pillars
  • auroras

Our Thoughts

I love books that engage children on educational topics and encourage further learning. This book is perfect for young children who love science and are eager learners (not to mention for parents – I learned so many new things!). We have been trying to come with complementary educational activities for our kids during COVID-19 since we have been home, and this book was perfect for helping me as a parent come up with new topics to cover that my son will actually enjoy learning about.

In this book, we learn about twelve natural phenomena that happen around us. Some of the events you may have already heard of (solar eclipses, meteor showers) but some may be new like volcanic lightning, firefall and light pillars. Each topic has two pages dedicated to it with the illustrations spanning both pages. We learn about what happens during the event, the science behind the event, where they can be viewed, cool facts and even some historical beliefs (and since I love history – this was pretty neat to learn how cultures interpreted these events). While some of the events you may be familiar with, you may learn some new facts about them. Did you know that light pillars, while they look beautiful, are actually a sign of light pollution? Or that the Vikings thought that the auroras were caused by the shining weapons of immortal warriors? Neat, right?!

The book is stunning – with beautiful illustrations, fantastic facts and even includes a glow in the dark poster that you can remove that shows a solar eclipse. This is a great learning resource for parents to use to get their children interested and wanting to learn more about these topics (perhaps create your research project for your child – they can do a Power Point presentation on one of these events).

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Katy Flint is an author, editor, and musician, based in London. She studied violin at the University of Southampton, before moving into children’s books. She is the author of the best-selling sound book The Story Orchestra: The Nutcracker, and has worked on many other non-fiction titles—from human bodies to dinosaurs. 

About the Illustrator

Cornelia Li is a Chinese born illustrator currently based in Toronto, Canada. Her clients include: New York Times, Chicago Readers, PBS Newshour, Reader’s Digest Canada. 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century Book Review

Looking for a way to reduce your environmental impact? Find your route to a more sustainable lifestyle with Dick Strawbridge and his son James.

About Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century

We can all take steps to reduce our carbon footprint and be more self-sufficient. For some, that might mean heading to the countryside to live off the land. For the rest of us, the reality might involve smaller, but no less important, lifestyle changes: cutting back on plastic or food waste, growing vegetables, preserving meat and fish, preparing jams and chutneys, baking sourdough bread, making your own plant-based milks, or keeping a chicken or two.

Dick and James Strawbridge know what it’s like to make these changes. Between them, they’ve lived on a smallholding, in a terraced house, and even a chateau. In this updated book, they share everything they’ve learned and give you the tools you need for a more rewarding and environmentally-conscious life. Whether you want to completely revamp your lifestyle or just make everyday changes that will make an impact, Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century is the perfect place to start.

My Thoughts

I have found that the last two months have taught me a lot – one of those things has been my reliance on others (especially when you go to get common grocery items and can no longer find them in the store!). I have wanted to become more self-sufficient for the last few years but the events of the last few weeks really brought home the importance of being self-sufficient.

My favourite part of this book is that it is for all comfort levels – from those of us like me just starting to explore self-sufficiency to those who have been following this lifestyle for a while but looking to expand on their current practices. They cover many aspects of a self-sufficient lifestyle – from in the home to in the yard (which includes gardens and animals). Each section contains many ideas in each chapter, some that you can implement right away and some that may take a bit of work.

We started to tackle some of the easier ideas in the book, such as choosing low energy light bulbs, reviewing our current electricity costs (and where we are wasting hydro like when we leave computers on standby) and checking all of our windows and doors. My husband loved the section on setting up a workshop – it gave him great ideas on how he can rework the space we have already set aside for him in the garage. Our goal this summer? Create an earth oven! I can just imagine how delicious pizza would be made in one of these ovens.

We don’t have a lot of outdoor space but what we do have we have converted to raised vegetable beds. In the past I have only grown tomatoes but this year, we started from seeds the following vegetables: cucumbers, squash, spinach, green onions, peppers, tomatoes and strawberries. They have just been put in the raised beds (that we made ourselves from wood we already had) and I am so excited to watch them grow. Our youngest has taken to helping me water and ensure the area is kept weed free.

This is an excellent resource for all levels of self-sufficiency – whether you are just starting on this journey or are a seasoned veteran of this lifestyle. There are many tools and ideas that you can implement and change right away, and many more that you can use to plan out over a period of time. There is something for all comfort levels – a win-win for all.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Chapters Indigo.

About the Author

Dick Strawbridge, a retired lieutenant colonel and former army engineer, has always been fascinated by how things work. His desire to lead a greener life led him to put his practical and leadership skills to use in converting New House Farm in Cornwall into an ecologically friendly, but completely modern, place to live. The family’s journey to a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle was documented in the BBC series It’s Not Easy Being Green, which ran for three seasons. Dick cowrote the previous edition with his son, and is also the author of It’s Not Easy Being Green (BBC Books, 2009). His most recent TV project is the BBC series Escape to the Chateau (March 2018), now in its fifth season, which has been renewed for another season in 2019.

James Strawbridge, Dick’s son, has inherited his father’s enthusiasm for inventing and DIY, and cohosted It’s Not Easy Being Green. After cowriting the previous edition of Self-Sufficiency for the 21st Century and It’s Not Easy Being Green, James and his father hosted other popular series, including The Hungry Sailors (ITV 2012, 2013) and Saturday Farm (ITV 2013). James has also cowritten a series of books on artisan crafts, preserving food, and traditional skills: Made at Home (Octopus, 2012). He currently lives in Cornwall.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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