Mediterranean Chicken Stuffed Zucchini

Mediterranean Chicken Stuffed Zucchini

These Stuffed Zucchini Boats are easy to make and only need a little bit of time to cook. 
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Comfort
Keyword: comfort food, diabetic, Gluten Free, heart healthy, high protein, low carb, low sodium
Servings: 6
Calories: 280kcal
Author: Grandma Antionette

Equipment

  • Stove top, oven, broiler

Ingredients

  • 3 medium zucchini halved lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt more or less to taste
  • 1/8 tsp Freshly ground black pepper more or less to taste
  • 1 can chickpeas approximately 15oz
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup halved kalamata olives
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 large lemon
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped cucumber

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Score zucchini and scoop out insides into a bowl. Place in a shallow baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until mostly tender. Remove from the oven and turn broiler to high.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add scooped zucchini and cook until light golden, about 2 minutes. Add shredded chicken and chickpeas, tomatoes, olives, and oregano and cook stirring occasionally until the mixture is heated through, about 5 minutes.
  • Spoon chicken mixture into the zucchini then top with feta cheese. Bake until zucchini is just tender and cheese is melted, roughly about 10 minutes more.
  • Squeeze lemon over zucchini boats, garnish with cucumber and dill, and serve warm.

Notes

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving  
Calories 280
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12.3g 16%
Saturated Fat 4.2g 21%
Cholesterol 53mg 18%
Sodium 546mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 22.7g 8%
Dietary Fiber 5.1g 18%
Total Sugars 3.6g  
Protein 21.2g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 158mg 12%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 555mg 12%

Grandma Antoinette’s Sassy Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Garlic Pesto

Grandma Antoinette’s Sassy Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Garlic Pesto

These easy Grilled Pesto Shrimp Skewers are made with homemade basil pesto right from our garden, don’t worry I have your recipe for that too. These are so healthy and totally delicious, you’ll want to make them all summer long!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: dairy free, garlic, Gluten Free, grill, heart healthy, high protein, low calorie, low carb, low fat, shrimp
Servings: 8
Calories: 93kcal
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Equipment

  • Grill

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. medium or large frozen shrimp deveined, thawed
  • 3 medium lemons thinly sliced
  • 8 bamboo skewers soaked in water 20 minutes
  • 1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil for drizzling
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pesto *see the recipe for homemade pesto in the notes below

Instructions

  • Preheat grill to medium-high.
  • Skewer shrimp and lemon slice.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill, turning occasionally, until shrimp is opaque and lemons slightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Brush with pesto and serve. Serve over Zucchini noodle or spaghetti squash for a low carb, healthy meal.

Notes

PESTO RECIPE
1.5 cups packed fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Directions
Combine basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and nuts in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend to a smooth paste. Add parsley if desired

Boosting Your Immune System During COVID-19

We all find ourselves in difficult times during the COVID-19 crisis. Although it might feel like many things are out of your control, your health is one aspect of your life that can benefit by paying a little extra attention to it. Experts believe that a weakened immune system and increased inflammation could allow a virus to have lasting damage to the heart, brain and other organs.

Boosting your immunity with healthy food

Studies have shown that eating certain foods and avoiding others can improve your health and strengthen your body’s ability to fight off invasive viruses. Here are some tips to help boost your immune function:

  • Focus on foods with flavonoids, which have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer, and neuroprotective activities. These foods include leafy greens, ginger, garlic, apples, citrus fruits, onions, spinach, cabbage, oregano, chili pepper, rosemary, turmeric and green tea.
  • Avoid eating processed foods.
  • Eliminate or reduce sugar and starch form your diet.
  • Choose plant-based, whole foods.
  • Eat the daily recommended amount of protein.
  • Ensure your microbiome is healthy by eating prebiotic and probiotic foods, which can help boost your immunity, such as bananas, yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso and pickles.

A few lifestyle recommendations:

  • Regular, moderate exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming and bicycling may reduce inflammation and help your immune cells regenerate regularly.
  • Reduce stress, which interferes with the immune system’s ability to fight off antigens.
  • Get plenty of sleep. During sleep, your immune system releases cytokines, which are needed to fight an infection or inflammation. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines.
  • Practice social distancing, but stay connected with loved ones via technology.

What do you do to help boost your immune system during COVID-19? Let us know in the comments below.

Grandma Antionette’s Springtime Slowcooker Minestrone

Meatless Mondays

Grandma Antionette’s Springtime Slowcooker Minestrone

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time6 hrs 30 mins
Total Time6 hrs 40 mins
Course: Main Course, One Dish Meal, Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: comfort food, crockpot, heart healthy, low fat, nut free, one dish meal, slowcooker
Servings: 6
Author: Grandma Antionette

Equipment

  • Slowcooker

Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 small sweet onions diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 medium carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 15 ounce can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 8 ounces ditalini pasta uncooked
  • 12 thin asparagus spears stems removed and cut into quarters
  • 1 cup frozen sweet peas
  • 1 6oz bag fresh spinach
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated romano cheese plus more for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Add diced onions, garlic, carrots, the whole can of diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, stock and water to your crockpot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, stirring once or twice if you can.
  • About 12-15 minutes before serving, add in asparagus , spinach, peas and pasta.
  • Cook on low for another 15 minutes then stir in grated cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
  • Serve immediately with additional cheese on top!

Hand sanitizer recipe

When it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19, nothing beats good old-fashioned handwashing. But if water and soap aren’t available, your next best option, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Unless you have a stockpile of store-bought hand sanitizer, you’ll likely have a hard time finding any at a store or online right now. Thankfully all it takes is three ingredients to make your own hand sanitizer at home. Making your own hand sanitizer is easy to do and only requires a few ingredients: isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (99 percent alcohol volume) aloe vera gel an essential oil, such as tea tree oil or lavender oil, or you can use lemon juice instead The key to making an effective, germ-busting hand sanitizer is to stick to a 2:1 proportion of alcohol to aloe vera. This keeps the alcohol content around 60 percent. This is the minimum amount needed to kill most germs, according to the CDC. Hand sanitizer recipe
Keyword: DIY

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of isopropyl or rubbing alcohol 99 percent
  • 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel to help keep your hands smooth and to counteract the harshness of alcohol
  • 10 drops of essential oil such as lavender oil, or you can use lemon juice instead

Instructions

  • Pour all ingredients into a bowl, ideally one with a pouring spout like a glass measuring container.
  • Mix with a spoon and then beat with a whisk to turn the sanitizer into a gel.
  • Pour the ingredients into an empty bottle for easy use, and label it “hand sanitizer.”

Notes

NOTE: Only use homemade hand sanitizers in extreme situations when handwashing isn’t available for the foreseeable future.
Don’t use homemade hand sanitizers on children’s skin as they may be more prone to use them improperly, leading to a greater risk of injury.

Crockpot Fajitas

Fajitas

We have a little recipe to put a smile on your face – Crockpot Fajitas! You can go meatless or meat them up with anything you like. The base stays the same, just add the protein of your choice set it, forget it and eat!

Hot delish fajitas will be awaiting your return!

Crockpot Fajitas

This Crockpot fajita recipe is super easy and can include whatever protein you like. Some prefer meatless with mushrooms, some like fish beef or chicken. The base recipe is the same but you can make this recipe yours.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time6 hrs 10 mins
Total Time6 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course, One Dish Meal
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: crockpot, fajitas, low calorie, slowcooker, vegetarian
Servings: 6
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Equipment

  • Crockpot

Ingredients

  • 1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 3 bell peppers ideally 1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green cored and sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion halved and sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp honey

Protein options:

  • 2 lb chicken breast cut into strips
  • 2 cup portobello mushrooms sliced and peeled with the stems removed
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can garbanzo beans

Instructions

  • Pour half of the canned tomatoes into the bottom of a slow cooker and spread into an even layer. Top with half of the peppers and half of the onions. Sprinkle garlic in. Top with your choice of protein.
  • In a bowl whisk together chili powder, cumin, paprika, coriander, salt and pepper. Evenly sprinkle the seasoning over protein. Top with remaining half of the tomatoes, then layer in remaining peppers and onions.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH heat about 2 1/2 – 3 hours or low heat 4 – 6 hours.
  • In a small bowl whisk together lime juice and honey and add to slow cooker along with the protein and season with additional salt to taste if desired (I sometimes like to add 1/4 cup chopped cilantro too here but this is optional). Gently toss. Serve warm in warmed tortillas optional toppings.

Notes

Optional Toppings
Cilantro, sour cream, salsa, guacamole or sliced avocados, shredded Mexican cheese (optional)

Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash

Instant Pot Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash in your Instant Pot yields a perfectly cooked squash—not mushy, but tender and holding its shape. Spaghetti squash is also a perfect base for so many sauces or just a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese as a side dish. At the market, look for squash that are about 3 lbs.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course, One Dish Meal
Cuisine: American
Keyword: diabetic, Gluten Free, heart healthy, Instant Pot, instapot, low carb, low fat, one dish meal, soy free, spaghetti squash, vegan, vegetarian
Servings: 4
Calories: 109kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 3 lb spaghetti squash halved
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Instructions

  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise; scoop out and discard seeds.
  • Pour 1 cup water in the Instant Pot. Place a wire metal steam rack in pot. Arrange cut halves of squash on top of the steam rack. Put minced garlic on the inside center of the halved spaghetti squash.
  • Cover Instant Pot, and fasten the lid. Lock and seal the steam valve.
  • Set to HIGH pressure for 7 minutes. (The pot will take about 15 minutes to come up to pressure before the cooking program begins.)
  • Allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then carefully release pressure by turning valve to VENT.
  • Remove lid, and, using tongs, drain accumulated liquid from squash halves. Using a fork, scrape out flesh into spaghetti-like strands in a bowl (should have 4 to 6 cups)
  • Add olive oil, thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper, to squash and toss to coat. Serve hot.

Instant Pot French Onion Soup

Instant Pot French Onion Soup

Instant Pot French Onion Soup—A quick and easy way to make a classic French onion soup recipe in a power pressure cooker. Delicious every time!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course, One Dish Meal
Cuisine: American, French
Keyword: Chicken, Instant Pot, instapot
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 347kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 Large yellow onions — or Spanish onions halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 4 cloves garlic — minced about 2 teaspoons
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine — such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 4 cartons Beef Bone Broth 8.25-ounce cartons
  • 4 cups Beef Stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 to 12 slices small baguette — cut about 3/4-inch thick
  • 1/2 lb sliced provolone Gruyère cheese — white cheddar fontina, and gouda, are also delicious

Instructions

  • Turn the Instant Pot (or similar electric pressure cooker) to sauté. Add the butter and let melt. Once melted, add the onions, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine. Cook, stirring, until onions slightly soften and start to release liquid, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons water. Cover and seal the Instant Pot, then set to cook on HIGH pressure (manual setting) for 20 minutes. Release pressure to vent immediately.
  • Remove the lid, then turn the Instant Pot back to sauté. Cook for 5 minutes until some of the liquid evaporates, then add the wine and bring to a simmer, scraping up any brown bits that have collected on the bottom of the pot. Let simmer for 10 minutes, until most of the wine has evaporated. Discard the thyme stems and bay leaf.
  • Add the bone broth and stock. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the soup thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, then taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
  • For the bread topping: When you’re ready to serve, preheat the oven broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyère. Broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, watching constantly towards the end so that the bread does not burn. Ladle the soup into bowls, then float the bread on top. Enjoy! Alternatively, if you have ovenproof bowls, you can ladle the soup into them first, top with each with a baguette slice and cheese, then arrange the bowls on a baking sheet and place the sheet under the boiler, until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.

9 Months in the womb. Follow us throughout Yolanda’s pregnancy.

Follow our Yolanda throughout her pregnancy as she talks about what she is experiencing. Here she talks about weeks 1 through 14. This is the start of the second trimester, where the pregnant mother may experience an increased appetite, varicose veins, and a stuffy nose.

Stay tuned for the second trimester!

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

This Not That Thursday – Skip the Bread, Veggie Stuffing recipe

Skip the Bread, Veggie Stuffing recipe

If the group you're feeding on Thanksgiving Day has someone who is vegetarian, gluten-free or following a low-carb special diet, this is the stuffing recipe you’ll need to make the day perfect!
Skip the carb-filled stuffing and have extra turkey 😉
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Thanksgiving
Keyword: comfort food, Gluten Free, low calorie, low carb, low fat, stuffing
Servings: 6
Calories: 90kcal

Equipment

  • large skillet

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 2 meduim onion chopped
  • 2 large carrots peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped or thinly sliced
  • 1 medium head cauliflower chopped
  • 1 cup 8-oz. package baby bella mushrooms chopped
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt add more to your tase
  • 1 tbsp Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. freshly chopped sage or 1 tsp. ground sage
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

Instructions

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until soft, 7 to 8 minutes.
  • Add cauliflower and mushrooms and then season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes more.
  • Add parsley, rosemary, and sage and stir until combined. Pour over broth and cook until totally tender and liquid is absorbed, 10 minutes.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

Week 2 – Crockpot Sweet & Sour Pot Roast

In honor of Rosh Hashanah, this week’s Crockpot recipe is a flavorful pot roast for a delightful family dinner. (Brisket can be used if you prefer).

The rules are simple: Get a good piece of meat from your butcher, season it, cover it with liquid or sauce, and cook a long time over low heat. You’ll need to have this on for about 7-8 hours but it will be worth it!
L’shana tova umetukah

Crockpot Sweet & Sour Pot Roast

The rules are simple: Get a good piece of meat from your butcher, season it, cover it with liquid, and cook a long time over low heat.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Jewish
Keyword: Gluten Free, nut free
Servings: 8

Equipment

  • Crockpot

Ingredients

  • 3 pound pot roast
  • 2 large onions
  • 6 large carrots cut thin
  • 5 stalks celery chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • 6 Tbsp of cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup beef stock
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • A handful of fresh cut herbs – parsley and tarragon

Instructions

  • Heat up a large skillet and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle all sides of your pot roast with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Add pot roast to the sauté pan and brown on both sides (about 5 minutes per side). When pot roast is browned, add to crockpot.
  • In same skillet, add a touch more oil and sauté onions, celery, carrots, and garlic for about 5-10 minutes, cooking the vegetables just a touch.
  • Meanwhile in a measuring cup add wine, stock, brown sugar, ketchup, and vinegar. Whisk and set aside.
  • When vegetables are done add cranberries and cook for another minute. Pour in the wine mixture and add herbs, bring to a boil.
  • Carefully pour vegetables and sauce over pot roast, cook high 4-6 hours or on low 8-10 hours.
  • When done, take out the meat, let it cool for 5 minutes or until it’s easy to handle, cut, plate and spoon some vegetables over with a touch of gravy.

Notes

Side note: This pot roast can be cooked a day in advance; let the meat and vegetables cool in the crockpot in their juices, and then cover and refrigerate. Reheat, covered on high, about 30 minutes.

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
yelp.com/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

This, Not That, Thursday – Using Apple Peels & Cores

Apples! Did someone say apples? This week “This, Not That Thursday” is all about saving those apple peels and cores.

Every fall we take at least one trip to an apple orchard near us. They have family-friendly activities, wonderful local canned goods for sale, and of course, apples. So many apples! Plain apples, apples to make applesauce, pies, crisps and the “mother” of them all… Apple Cider Vinegar

When making any of the above you will probably peel & core some of those apples but did you know you can use the peels and the cores to make apple cider vinegar? This way you have virtually no waste! WINNER!

It is also totally possible to make apple cider vinegar from the whole apple so don’t worry if you don’t have leftover peels and cores from anything.

There are several more elaborate ways to make apple cider vinegar at home, but today I’m gonna show you how to make it from apple scraps. I especially like this method since it allows me to use the apples for other stuff while still making a valuable product from the “waste”.

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 d
Total Time5 d 10 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free, Gluten Free, heart healthy, low calorie, low carb, low fat, low sodium, nut free, soy free, vegan, vegetarian
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Equipment

  • One quart jar
  • One canning lid ring OR a rubber band
  • Coffee filter OR paper towel

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Large apples Apple peels & cores any browning/discolored flesh from organic apples
  • 2-2 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar I like Turbinado raw sugar
  • 2-2 1/2 cups water boiled and allowed to cool

Instructions

  • Cover the bottom of your jar with apple scraps, filling no more than 3/4 full. The apples need room to expand and stay submerged.
  • Add 2 Tbsp of granulated sugar and 2 cups of filtered water to the jar. The apples should be completely submerged. Mold can grow on any portions of apples that are not covered and ruin your batch of vinegar. If your scraps float to the top of the jar add a smaller jar on top to keep them submerged.
  • 3.Stir the apples, sugar, and water and cover with a coffee filter. Secure with a canning band, or a rubber band.
  • Allow apples to sit in a warm, dark place for 2 weeks. Above the refrigerator or on the top shelf of a cupboard are great places. Just don’t forget you put it there!
  • After 2 weeks, you might notice some fizz or bubbles. That’s good news! Strain out the apple pieces and compost. Cover the apple cider vinegar again with a coffee filter and canning band. Allow continuing to sit at room temperature for another 2-4 weeks.
  • The vinegar may become cloudy or a SCOBY could form on the top, both of which are normal. Taste test the vinegar once a week until it’s to your liking. You can stop the fermentation process by replacing the coffee filter with a canning lid and storing it in the refrigerator.
  • Use your homemade vinegar just like you would store-bought vinegar– for cooking, cleaning and everything in between

Notes

Tip: You don’t HAVE to use a quart-sized jar, but it’s what I readily have available. Feel free to use whatever size jar you have on hand. If you use a different size jar, the ratio is 1 Tbsp sugar per 1 cup water.
NOTE: About preserving and pickling with homemade vinegar: It’s generally recommended that you do NOT use homemade vinegar for any sort of preservation. In order to ensure the safety of your home canned products, you need a vinegar with an acetic acid level of 5%. Since most of us don’t have a way to check the levels of our homemade vinegar, it’s best just to skip using it for canning or preserving– better safe than sorry!
NOTE: You want the peels to be from apples that have been scrubbed very, very well. Organic apples are preferred, but simply buy the best you can afford and wash them very well. Secondly, it’s okay to use brown or bruised apples. However, it is NOT okay to use moldy or rotten apples.


This, Not That, Thursday – DIY Aloe Vera Gel

It is easy to make aloe vera gel at home. All you need is a few healthy leaves of the aloe vera plant. If you have an aloe vera plant at home or in your garden, then you are lucky! Aloe vera gel is an excellent all-natural healer for skin issues such as sunburn, rashes, acne, among others. Aloe vera gel is also known to promote healthy hair growth. You can even preserve the gel for a month by adding natural preservatives.

How to make Aloe Vera Gel

Make your very own natural healer and skin cleanser!

Prep Time 30 mins – Total Time 30 mins

Appliance Needed: Blender, Refrigerator Serving size: 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 aloe vera leaves
  • 500 mg vitamin C (optional)
  • 400 IU vitamin E (optional)

Instructions

  1. If you have access to an aloe vera plant, take a sharp knife and cut off a leaf from the outside of the plant, close to its base. They are usually more mature and contain plenty of gel. If your plant is too young, make sure you do not cut off too many leaves at once. Aloe vera leaves are also available in supermarkets in the produce section. You can usually get 1/2 a cup of gel from 1 mature aloe vera leaf.
  2. Wash the leaves under cold running water to remove any dirt on the skin.
  3. Place the leaves upright in a bowl to let any white or yellow resin to drain off. This can cause irritation to the skin.
  4. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the skin of the aloe vera leaf on one side. You will see the sticky gel underneath.
  5. Use a spoon to carefully scoop out the gel. Collect the gel in a clean glass container and make sure you do not get any pieces of the leaf skin in it.
  6. If you have collected a lot of gel and want to preserve it, you can mix it with natural preservatives. In a blender, add aloe vera gel and vitamin C or vitamin E capsules. For every 1/4 cup of aloe vera gel, you can either add 500 mg of vitamin C or 400 IU vitamin E. The foamy gel should be put in a clean, airtight glass jar. It will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.
  7. You can also use fresh aloe vera gel to make a nourishing aloe vera juice or add it to smoothies.

Notes

Consider growing an aloe vera plant in your home as they are low-maintenance plants and grow easily. Aloe is generally safe for most people, but if you have an underlying health condition or take medicines or use herbs, talk to your doctor before using aloe as it could react with other medications and substances.

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

This, Not That, Thursday – Beeswax Wraps

On this week’s installment of “This, Not That, Thursday,” we want to discuss beeswax wraps. Last week we touched on DIY reusable snack bags to move away from disposable plastic, so this week we’re focusing on plastic cling wrap.

If you’re like me, there’s probably no love lost between you and plastic. Most food-related plastics – including cling wrap and so-called “BPA-free” containers – “can release chemicals that act like the sex hormone estrogen”* 

Fortunately, there are so many amazing alternatives available like leakproof glass containers and silicone stretchable lids that stretch to fit a variety of container sizes, and of course beeswax wraps!

When you pack your own lunch every day (maybe your kids’ too), it might feel like you’re always adding cling wrap to your grocery list… enter beeswax wraps. The pliable covers fold up around foods and cover bowls of leftovers. They rinse clean with cold water and mild soap (hot water would melt the wax!) and you can reuse them time and time again.

These bee-autiful storage solutions sell for about $18 for a pack of three on Amazon, but if you’re feeling crafty, they’re super easy to DIY. Either way, you’ll easily recoup the cost by buying fewer sandwich bags and plastic wrap. If you use three plastic bags per day and a box of 150 costs about $10, you’re already spending more than $70 per year on something most people just throw away after one use.

These beeswax food wraps are not hard to make, but they do take a little bit of time, so plan ahead for that. This recipe makes four wraps, but it’s easy to double the recipe if you want to make more.

Cut the muslin cloth to whatever size works best for you, or even different sizes if you wish. You can use pinking shears if you want to make the edges fancy. I personally love the look it gives. The pine resin is probably the hardest ingredient to come by, but I was able to find a good source on Amazon. Beeswax pastilles are probably the easiest form of beeswax to use here, or you can do what I did and grate some off a block of beeswax.

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼  cup beeswax
  • 2 tablespoons pine resin
  • 1 tablespoon jojoba oil
  • 4 squares of 100% cotton muslin fabric (I used 12″ squares)

EQUIPMENT

  • small saucepan
  • glass pyrex measuring cup
  • parchment paper
  • baking sheet
  • 1″ wide paintbrush
  • clothes drying rack
  1. Melt the pine resin in a double boiler (I use a glass pyrex measuring cup in a pot of boiling water) over medium heat. 
  2. It takes a while for the resin to fully melt, but once it does add the beeswax. Stir using a wooden or bamboo stick until the resin and wax are completely melted together. 
  3. Then slowly drizzle in the jojoba oil. Turn the heat to low to keep it all melted. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 225°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place one square of muslin on the parchment and use the paintbrush to brush it all over with the beeswax mixture. 
  5. Place the baking sheet in the oven just long enough to fully melt the beeswax. It should only take a couple of minutes. Take it out of the oven and spread the beeswax around again with the paintbrush, so that the whole muslin cloth is coated evenly. 
  6. Then take another square of muslin and lay it on top of the first square to blot up the extra wax. Flip the two squares over so that the blotting square is now on the bottom. 
  7. Return the baking sheet to the oven briefly, just long enough to liquefy the wax. 
  8. Remove from the oven, and hang the first piece of beeswax coated muslin on a clothes drying rack to dry. 
  9. Use the paintbrush to spread the wax on the blotting square, which is now your working square, and repeat the whole process again.

Once they are all dry, they are ready to use! They work perfectly for covering bowls, just as you would use plastic wrap. The beeswax can be warmed in the hands and will conform to the bowl and stick to the rim. The pine resin gives it some stickiness as well.

FYI: Beeswax wraps aren’t air-tight and won’t keep highly perishable items (like raw meat) fresh. We recommend using them to cover foods you’ll eat within a couple of hours or the next day, like a sandwich, bowl of pasta, or piece of fruit. For longer-lasting leftovers or smellier items like cheese, you’re probably better off sealing them up in reusable glass containers. With that in mind, here’s how you can make your own beeswax wraps <3 

*Concluded a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives(source 1, source 2)

This, Not That, Thursday – White Rice Alternatives

On this week’s installment of This, Not That, Thursday, we bring you 7 healthier alternatives to white rice.

White rice is a cheap and easy starch many people choose to cook with, but there are healthier alternatives to white rice out there. Use these alternatives to amp up the nutrients in your meal.

1. Red Or White Quinoa

Quinoa contains the second most protein of any grain and has all of the essential amino acids. It is also naturally gluten-free and high in fiber.

2. Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice is a great, low carb alternative to rice. It is also gluten-free and one serving contains a day worth of Vitamin C.

3. Broccoli Rice 

Broccoli rice is another great gluten-free low carb alternative full of fiber, plant-based protein, and iron.

4. Barley

Although not as popular as some of the other grains, barley provides a good serving of fiber and many other important minerals such as selenium.

5. Farro

Farro is an easy to digest grain that is full of protein and iron.

6. Sweet Potato Rice

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and dietary fiber and also gluten-free.

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

This, Not That, Thursday – 5 uses for used coffee grounds

Something that never felt right to me was throwing away used coffee grounds. Many people wake up in the morning looking forward to their cup of coffee and then habitually toss the grounds into the trash without a second thought.

As it turns out, there are many wonderful things you can do with these spent coffee grounds. Before you throw out those grounds after brewing up your morning beverage, give one of these ideas a try.

1. Coffee grounds are wonderful at exfoliating your hair. 

To exfoliate hair, use 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup used coffee grounds, depending on hair length. In the shower, wet hair thoroughly. Massage grounds through hair focusing on the scalp. It helps to part the hair and work in sections. Once you have covered the whole scalp, thoroughly wet the hair again. Don’t try to rinse the grounds out as it won’t work. Use your shampoo to work up a nice lather. Then you can rinse it all out. A second shampooing may be necessary. Finish with your normal conditioner or apple cider vinegar rinse.

2. Soil aeration and nitrogen boost for houseplants. 

Adding coffee grounds to your houseplants helps the pH balance (toward acidity) as well as increasing nitrogen and aerating the soil. Tomatoes love acidic soil!

3. Neutralize refrigerator odors. 

Placing them in the refrigerator acts as a natural deodorizer. The only thing you need to watch for is mold if you use damp grounds. Replace immediately with fresher grounds if it turns into a science experiment.

4. Weigh Down Ashes for Fireplace Clean-up:

If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, those old coffee grounds will become your best friend. When it is time to clean out the ashes, cover them with a layer of wet coffee grounds to moisten and weigh them down. This will greatly reduce the amount of ash that will float up and coat your living room when you scoop them out.

5. Pest Repellent

Snail, slug, and cat repellent. In the garden, just mound up a barrier of used grounds around the plants which slugs and cats are attracted to. It will help keep them at bay.

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

This, Not That, Thursday – Air Purifying Plants

Good afternoon everyone.

It is a beautiful sunny Thursday and were happy to bring you this week’s installment of “This, Not That, Thursday.” This week we will be talking about Air purifying plants.

Why does indoor air need purifying?

Well, there are plenty of toxins floating around outside thanks to pesticides and herbicides, vehicle fumes, and other industrial pollutants. Sadly, you’ll find a ton of toxins in the air inside your own home as well.

Your indoor air quality is affected by the following:

  1. Cleaning products, especially laundry detergent and fabric softener, as laundry chemicals are the top indoor pollutant
  2. Chemical flame retardants in furniture, mattresses, and children’s PJs
  3. Formaldehyde found in gas stoves, garbage bags, paper towels and tissues, carpet backing, and some fabrics
  4. Fragrances
  5. Other toxins carried in on your clothes and shoes from outdoors
  6. Electromagnetic frequencies (from computers, WiFi, and other electronics)

Opening your windows can go a long way, but a solution I really like is plants. These houseplants are the most effective at removing indoor air toxins and contaminants.

Bamboo Palm

Bamboo palms are effective at removing chemical contaminants from the air like formaldehyde and benzene. They also help to keep the air moist, which is helpful during winter months when all types of heaters can produce overly dry indoor air.

Bamboo palms have a tropical appearance and, though green instead of the typical tan bamboo color, have the characteristic tall, skinny canes and fanned leaves.

Rubber Plant

The rubber plant is very effective for removing formaldehyde from indoor air. It’s favored for its ease of growth, as well as its appearance, which features large, rubbery leaves.

The rubber plant can grow up to 8 feet tall in the proper conditions. This large plant is bred for toughness, which means that it’s not only one of the most effective plants for purifying indoor air, but it’s sure to be hardy even in less than ideal conditions.

English Ivy

English ivy is most often seen growing as a covering in atriums and lobbies, but it makes a lovely feature if grown as a topiary. Like the rubber plant, English ivy is known for its ability to remove formaldehyde from the air.

English ivy needs lots of light to look its best, but does well when the temperature doesn’t get too hot. It is, however, very adaptable to its environment, as it will climb and spread over any surface given the chance.

Dwarf Date Palm

If you’re into tropical plants, the dwarf date palm is for you. It’s like an adorable mini palm tree that fits in your living room.

The dwarf date palm is one of the most effective palms for removing indoor air pollution, especially xylene, which is found in solvents and paint thinner. It’s also quite good at keeping the air moist and is fairly easy to grow.

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

This, Not That, Thursday – Natural oven cleaner

When cleaning your oven, you think of a giant chore & super harsh chemicals. 

Well, we’re here with this week’s installment of “This, Not That, Thursday” to offer you a better way. You don’t even have to clean your oven in a day. By getting started the night before, you’ll save yourself time and aggravation. Thanks to white vinegar and baking soda, you won’t need to use harsh chemicals. They are environmentally friendly, remove hardened stains and eliminate germs and odors.

Natural Oven cleaner

Tools:

  • Dish gloves
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • A spray bottle
  • A sponge or cleaning cloth
  • A scraper or spatula
  • Paper towels
  • Bucket or bowl

Steps

1. Remove the racks from your oven and wash them in warm, soapy water. Some oven racks are dishwasher-safe, but check your oven manual first to make sure they won’t be damaged in the dishwasher. Dry the racks and set them aside.

2. Remove any loose food particles from your oven. Use a scraper to get all the burnt bits out.

3. Make a paste using three parts baking soda and one part water. 

4. Spread the paste around the inside of your oven. If there are really tough, burnt-on spots, put a little extra baking soda paste on them. Avoid putting the paste on heating elements inside the oven.

5. Close your oven, and let the paste sit overnight.

6. When you’re ready, moisten your sponge or cleaning cloth with warm water and wipe away the baking soda paste. Use a bucket or bowl full of warm water to rinse the sponge or cleaning cloth as you’re removing the baking soda paste. For any stubborn messes, use a scraper or spatula.

7. Fill a spray bottle with one part vinegar and one part water. Spray down the oven and wipe away leftover baking soda paste with paper towels or another cleaning cloth. 

8. Replace the oven racks.

Your oven is going to be so spotless, the next time your mother-in-law stops by, you’ll make up excuses for her to open it up.

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

Summertime Grecian Flounder

“Flounder baked with fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives, capers, onion, and white wine. Serve with basmati rice and any green vegetable will do but asparagus is my favorite!”

Summertime Grecian flounder

“Flounder baked with fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives, capers, onion, and white wine. Serve with basmati rice and any green vegetable will do but asparagus is my favorite!”
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Gluten Free, heart healthy, low calorie, low carb, low fat
Servings: 4
Calories: 282kcal

Ingredients

  • 5 Plum (Romtomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 pinch Italian seasoning
  • 24 kalamata olives pitted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 6 leaves fresh basil chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese freshly grated is best
  • 1 pound flounder fillets
  • 6 leaves fresh basil torn

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  • Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Plunge tomatoes into the boiling water and immediately remove to a medium bowl of ice water; drain. Remove and discard skins from tomatoes. Chop tomatoes and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; saute onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, garlic and Italian seasoning; cook until tomatoes are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in olives, wine, capers, lemon juice, and 1/2 the basil. Reduce heat, blend in Parmesan cheese, and cook until the mixture is reduced to a thick sauce, about 15 minutes.
  • Place flounder in a shallow baking dish. Pour sauce over the fillets and top with remaining basil leaves.
  • Bake 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until fish is easily flaked with a fork.

This, Not That, Thursday – Sugary Drink Alternatives

Hi everyone! 
For this week’s “This, Not That, Thursday” we are looking at healthy alternatives to sugary drinks. Numerous studies have shown the negative health effects of drinking sugary drinks on your waistline and your teeth. It may have far more health risks than many of us may realize. Drinking sugary drinks can cause a decline in kidney function, an increase in your risk of diabetes, and can cause vascular issues. Sugary drinks also deplete your mineral levels and leave you dehydrated. Sugary drinks are also linked to dementia and cancer.

These are just a few of the negative health effects of sugary drinks. Help to cut the cola with these healthy and delicious sugary drink alternatives.

Tea – iced or hot-
With all the different ways to enjoy it hot or cold, tea is likely one of the best sugary drink substitutes on this list. Tea has an extensive variety of flavor profiles and caffeine levels. There’s a tea out there for everyone! Perfect for any season or time of day, tea is a versatile sugary drink substitute and easy way to enjoy flavored beverages with little to no calories. Herbal tea can be used to help you unwind, boost your immune system, or reduce pain or soreness.

Freshly-squeezed lemonade-
A classic summertime pick-me-up, fresh lemonade—maybe with a dash of cane sugar or agave nectar for a hint of sweetness—has enough citrusy flavor to help wash away those memories of your sugary drink guzzling days.

Sparkling water-
After decades of public health initiatives, consumers are leaving sugary drinks behind for its sleeker, healthier counterpart: flavored sparkling water. Nowadays, sparkling water makers are everywhere, from homes to offices, hotels to restaurants. Rather than buying bottles and cans, avid sparkling water drinkers often invest in carbonated water dispensers to mitigate the environmental impact of buying cases of fizzy water. Now that’s some savvy sipping!

Kombucha-
Kombucha is a recent health trend that shows no signs of fizzling out. While its poignant flavor is not for everyone, Kombucha typically contains little to no sugar and is a potential source of probiotics, which are known to promote gut health. It contains antioxidants and may protect against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Sparkling water with a splash of juice-
Perfect for brunch, sparkling water with a splash of pineapple, orange, cranberry, or mango juice is a great non-alcoholic, low-calorie alternative to sugary drinks or mimosas at brunch.

Fruit and herb infusions-
Infusions are a great way to use up any extra fruit and herbs in your fridge before they spoil. Simply chop whatever fruit and herbs you have, throw them in a pitcher or reusable water bottle, and you’ll be sipping on some fruity goodness in just a few hours. If you enjoy fruit flavors but don’t want the sugar rush of juice, infusions are the way to go!

Coconut water-
Like Kombucha, Coconut water is a health fad and popular healthy substitute for sugary drinks that’s been on the scene for a few years now. Not to be confused with coconut milk, coconut water is a natural source of potassium and electrolytes, making it the perfect tropical alternative to plain water.

Mineral water-
Mineral water contains zero calories and has the added nutritional benefit of minerals such as calcium, magnesium sulfate, and sodium sulfate. Mineral water is an everyday sugary drink substitute that’s sold at most grocery stores and online. It can help to lower blood pressure, regulate blood circulation, strengthen bones, and promote digestive health.

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

Red, White and Blue Summer Salad

Red, White and Blue Summer Salad

In this salad, we combine traditional Caprese flavors with summer blueberries, peaches and added prosciutto for saltiness, creating a balanced and flavor-packed dish. Caprese and fresh fruit always remind me of summer.
Prep Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gluten Free, heart healthy, low calorie, low carb
Servings: 12
Calories: 233kcal
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil julienned
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 8 cups fresh arugula
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese pearls drained
  • 2 medium peaches sliced
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto julienned

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, whisk the first 9 ingredients. Add tomatoes; let stand while preparing salad.
  • In a large bowl, combine arugula, mozzarella, peach slices, blueberries, and prosciutto. Pour tomato mixture over top; toss to coat. Garnish with additional mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Notes

Nutrition Facts
1 cup: 233 calories, 18g fat (5g saturated fat), 27mg cholesterol, 486mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate (8g sugars, 2g fiber), 8g protein.

My word, today is just perfect. Too perfect in fact, to be inside slaving in front of the stove for dinner tonight. In just 20 minutes this delightfully fresh dish is on the table without the need of an oven heating up the whole house. 
Let Grandma Antoinette help you with dinner <3

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

Summer Bucket List for Long Island Kids


For our latest installment of “This, Not That, Thursday” we bring you Dr. Polcino’s “Summer Bucket List for LI kids.”
It features oodles of ideas when it comes to places to go, things to do, events, and activities to do with kids on Long Island! From toddlers to tweens, our Summer Bucket List has great ways to spend the days, and you’re sure to see a smile on everyone’s face.

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

This, Not That, Thursday – Natural Rabbit Repellent

Hey all! We’re back with another installment of “This, Not That, Thursday.”
If you need a way to deter rabbits from eating your flowers, try this organic rabbit repellent recipe. It uses garlic and red peppers to repel the rabbits naturally without damaging your plants. And don’t worry–those cute little critters won’t be harmed at all.

You just need a couple of items to make this Natural rabbit repellent: garlic, peppers, dish soap, and an empty milk jug.

Natural Rabbit Repellent Recipe
Items needed:
empty milk/water jug
7 garlic cloves
2 teaspoon crushed red peppers
1-gallon water
1 tablespoon dish soap (see our other posts for a Natural Dish Soap)
Directions:
To make the repellent fill an old jug with water, add 7 crushed garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons of crushed red peppers (you can save a packet from the pizza delivery for this) and 1 tablespoon of dish soap.
Shake well. Then let it sit in the sun for a day or two to make sure the water is saturated with the flavors and smells.
Shake well. Then spray or pour on the plants that you don’t want the rabbits to eat.
I had to reapply the rabbit repellent once a week for a couple of weeks to convince the rabbits that my tulips were never going to taste good again. With my other bulbs, I sprayed them with the natural rabbit repellent as soon as they started to poke through the ground and then reapplied the repellent once a week and after it rains.
Good luck 

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

This, Not That, Thursday – Natural Dish Soap

We’re here with this week’s installment of “this, Not That, Thursday” – Natural Dish Soap.
Here we go….

Every single recipe I’ve tried just kept falling short. It didn’t suds enough or it wasn’t soapy or slippery enough, or worse – it left a nasty film on my dishes. There are lots of factors at play of course (type of soap, water hardness, etc.) so I’m not saying that those recipes didn’t work – just that they didn’t work for me. THIS ONE DID!

Homemade Dish Soap: A Natural Recipe
Ingredients
1 ¾ cups boiling water
1 Tbsp borax
1 Tbsp grated bar soap (use homemade soap, castile bar soap, Ivory, or whichever natural bar you prefer)
15-20 drops essential oils, optional
Instructions
Heat water to boiling.
Combine borax and grated bar soap in a medium bowl. Pour hot water over the mixture. Whisk until the grated soap is completely melted.
Allow mixture to cool on the countertop for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Dish soap will gel upon standing.
Transfer to a squirt bottle, and add essential oils (if using). Shake well to combine.

*do not use vinegar – As per Dr. Bronners daughter Lisa “In great part, it’s due to the fact that vinegar is an acid and the castile soap is a base. They will directly react with each other and cancel each other out. So, instead of getting the best of both (the scum cutting ability of the vinegar and the dirt transporting ability of the soap), you’ll be getting the worst of something entirely new. The vinegar “unsaponifies” the soap, by which I mean that the vinegar takes the soap and reduces it back out to its original oils. So you end up with an oily, curdled, whitish mess. And this would be all over whatever it was you were trying to clean – your laundry or counters or dishes or whatever.”

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

June is Men’s Health Month

Happy June! Did you know that it’s Men’s Health Month? We all know that sometimes men and boys need a little nudge to go to the doctor or pay more attention to their health.

The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to encourage education and prevention of preventable health problems and promote early detection and treatment of disease that might arise at different stages of life. This month gives health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. The response has been overwhelming with thousands of awareness activities in the USA and around the globe.

Below are a few great resources to help kick off some healthy lifestyles for men:

https://www.healthline.com/health/mens-health#doctor

https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/recipes-men-love-healthy-comfort-food#1

https://www.webmd.com/men/features/top-health-tips-men#1

http://www.menshealthmonth.org/

This, Not That, Thursday – Natural Gardening Tips

In this week’s installment of “This, Not That, Thursday” we bring you some Natural Gardening tips. Gardening is tough enough, but to do it without chemicals is well worth the effort for you & the family.

Fertilizer
Although you can use ready-made organic fertilizers, it is best to learn how to create your own organic fertilizers. Not only will it be better for the soil and the environment in the long-term, but it also helps you gain valuable insight into the world of gardening.

Homemade Fertilizer
Adding compost to your garden is an excellent way to improve the quality of your soil with natural fertilization. However, not everyone has the space or time for composting.
We’ve got you covered! There are some other easy ways to fertilize your garden naturally. For one thing, instead of a huge compost pile, you can simply save some of the stuff from your kitchen you’d normally throw away.
Three things that can benefit your garden:
Coffee Grounds – adds nitrogen to the soil and is ideal for acid-loving plants like tomatoes
Banana Peels – decompose quickly, replenishing potassium and other minerals to the soil
Egg Shells – can add calcium carbonate and help avoid blossom rot in peppers and tomatoes
Another common kitchen ingredient to help fertilize your garden is molasses. Just mix a few tablespoons of molasses with a gallon of water and then water your plants with it. The molasses acts sort of like a probiotic. It helps increase beneficial microbes.

Garden Pest Control
Every vegetable gardener faces pest issues from time to time, and learning how to manage the little leaf-munching menaces without using synthetic chemical pesticides is an essential step in growing a healthy, productive garden. To help you with this task, we’ve put together tips for keeping those pesky critters out of your garden.

Orange Peels
Orange peels can be placed around plants or attached directly to the stem to ward off and eliminate some pests. That’s because orange peels contain a natural chemical known as d-Limonene, which can kill off ants and aphids. The chemical destroys the waxy substance around the bugs, causing them to suffocate.
Even the scent of orange peels, as well as other citrus peels, can keep those plant-destroying aphids and ants away.

Plant Marigolds Around the Perimeter of the Garden
Many gardeners put marigolds in their vegetable gardens. It’s believed the pungent smell potentially repels pests while attracting beneficial insects. Some say that the aroma of marigolds might even help keep rabbits and other rodents away from your vegetables too.
However, not everyone is a believer in the marigold theory. In fact, there are some gardeners who say marigolds may actually attract harmful spider mites. Regardless of whether it works or not – marigolds will at least add a splash of color to your vegetable garden.

Cayenne pepper
Sprinkling cayenne pepper, pepper flakes, and/or garlic pepper on and around your plants when they are ready to bloom is an excellent deterrent. Squirrels won’t eat anything with cayenne—which you can often buy in bulk.

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

This, Not That, Thursday – Natural Cleaners

On this week’s “This, Not That, Thursday” segment, we’re looking at all natural cleaning tips. Switching to homemade DIY cleaners might sound like a lot more work, but it’s actually quite simple. The ingredients are easy to come by and last a long time.

The natural cleaning ingredients we like to keep on hand are:
* white vinegar
* liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronners)
* natural salt
* baking soda
* borax
* washing soda
* hydrogen peroxide
* lemons
* microfiber cloths
* essential oils (optional)
* a spray bottle or two (preferably glass)

Our 3 top recipes!

All-Purpose Cleaner Ingredients
* 1 tsp borax
* 1/2 tsp washing soda
* 1 tsp liquid castile soap
* Essential oils of choice – I use 4 drops lemon, 4 drops lavender, and 10 drops orange
* Glass spray bottle for storage
All-Purpose Cleaner Instructions
1. Place borax, washing soda, and soap in a spray bottle (preferably glass).
2. Add 2 cups of warm water. Distilled is best, but any water that has been boiled will work.
3. Add essential oils of choice.
4. Cover bottle and shake well. Use as needed. I use as bathroom cleaner, floor pre-treater, kitchen cleaner and on toys.

Glass Cleaner Ingredients
* 2 cups of water (distilled or filtered is best so it doesn’t leave residue)
* 2 tablespoons vinegar
* 10 drops essential oil of choice- I use lemon (optional- but it helps cut the vinegar smell)
Glass Cleaner Instructions
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle (preferably glass) and use as needed to clean window. I like to use a microfiber cloth to wipe windows clean with this recipe.

How to Make Washing Soda
If you have an oven and are feeling crafty, try this simple method of making washing soda. Another bonus is that baking soda is typically even less expensive (especially at big box stores) and making this at home can help further reduce the cost of budget-friendly cleaning recipes.
Washing Soda Ingredients
* Baking Soda
* A large baking dish or baking sheet (I use these stainless steel restaurant pans for this and all of my baking and cooking)
* An Oven

Washing Soda Instructions
1. Turn oven on 400 degrees F.
2. Pour a thick (1/2 inch or so) layer of baking soda on the bottom of the baking dish.
3. Bake for 1 hour, stirring 1-2 times in the middle, or until it has changed in look and feel. Baking soda has a silky/powdery feel and washing soda is more grainy and not silky. The baking soda will need to reach the full 400 degrees for this reaction to take place, so be patient.
4. Let cool and store in an air-tight jar.
Use this homemade washing soda as you would store-bought in natural cleaning recipes and laundry soaps.

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

This, Not, That Thursday – Natural Ant Repellent

There’s nothing like walking into your kitchen first thing in the morning, bleary-eyed and ready for your morning cup of coffee only to find that your home has been invaded by ants. Below are some of the best natural remedies you can try to get rid of the ants infesting your space.

Cinnamon
Cinnamon is an effective household ant repellent. Its smell discourages ants from entering your house and scrounging in your kitchen.
According to a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, cinnamon essential oil yields positive results in both repellency and insecticidal activity.
* Add 1 ¼ to 1 ½ teaspoon of cinnamon essential oil in a cup of water. Soak a cotton ball in this solution and wipe down the areas where ants may enter and dwell. Repeat once daily until all the ants are gone.
* You can also put ground cinnamon and whole cloves near entry points.
Note: Use the cinnamon oil spray strategically in places of ant infestation; do not put it all over the place.

White Vinegar
White vinegar will also send an eviction notice to ants on your premises. They cannot bear its strong smell. In addition, the smell masks their scent trails, making them lose their direction.
1. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water.
2. Pour the solution into a spray bottle.
3. Add a few drops of any essential oil and shake the bottle thoroughly.
4. Spray this solution around baseboards and other entry points.
5. After an hour, wipe up the ants using a damp paper towel and discard them.
6. Repeat once daily until the ants are completely gone.
You can also use this vinegar solution to clean floors, windowsills and countertops to prevent ants from crawling over these surfaces.

Peppermint
Peppermint is a natural insect repellent that can effectively keep ants away. Ants hate its strong smell, which also disrupts their smelling capabilities so they cannot detect food sources.
* Add 10 drops of peppermint essential oil to 1 cup of water. Spray the solution on all areas where ants are present. Repeat twice daily, until the ants are gone completely.
* Sprinkle some dried peppermint around your doors, entryways and garbage areas to repel ants.
* You can even grow peppermint plants in your kitchen garden.

Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) also works well as an ant repellent. This powder is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton.
The microscopic razor sharp edges of DE can cut through the ant’s exoskeletons, gradually causing their body to dry out.
1. Gently sprinkle a thin layer of DE on windowsills, beneath the fridge, under cabinets, in and around garbage cans and any other places where you see ants.
2. Repeat once daily until all the ants are gone.
Note: Do not wet the DE or it will not work.

-Dr. P
dr-polcino.com
facebook.com/DrPolcino
twitter.com/DrPolcino
vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino
instagram.com/DrPolcino

Elective induction. Could it be right for you?

 

Induction

A recently presented study can provide some useful information for women and their healthcare providers during their discussions about labor and delivery. This study was presented at a Dallas meeting sponsored by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. It concluded that elective inductions of labor at 39 weeks of gestation were safe for the newborn and had benefits for the mother by decreasing the risk of a cesarean delivery and developing a high blood pressure problem. The study also showed that the women who were induced felt more in control of their birth experience and also rated the pains of labor less than the women who were not induced.

These findings differ from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists “Choosing Wisely” campaign which suggests that elective inductions should be considered when medically indicated.
As always expectant mothers and their health care providers should have open decision-making discussions and this new study should provide some new information to review.

-Dr. P

dr-polcino.com

facebook.com/DrPolcino

twitter.com/DrPolcino

vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino

instagram.com/DrPolcino

Turner Syndrome – A distinctive group of woman

 

Turner syndrome

Women with Turner Syndrome (TS) are a distinctive group of women who require specialized medical and obstetrical/gynecological care. TS is found in approximately 1 in 2,500 pregnancies and is the result of the loss or partial loss of an X chromosome. Normally women’s chromosomes are 45XX and with TS it will be 45X. Because of this missing chromosome women with TS can look slightly different and can have an array of possible medical conditions such as:

  • cardiovascular disease which could be the result of a congenital anomaly
  • osteoporosis
  • hypothyroidism
  • abnormal lipids
  • diabetes

Pediatricians and pediatric endocrinologists usually follow these patients closely during childhood and adolescence, initiating estrogen to begin puberty and normal development. Conception and pregnancy offer unique conditions which will require individualized intense care by a team of specialists and preconception counseling is a must. Because of the higher risks for various medical conditions, TS patients need to be followed carefully throughout their lives.

-Dr. P

dr-polcino.com

facebook.com/DrPolcino

twitter.com/DrPolcino

vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino

instagram.com/DrPolcino

What is your blood pressure profile?

High BP

We all know that having high blood pressure puts you at an increased chance to have a heart attack or a stroke. We all know family and friends who take their high blood pressure pills every day to help control their blood pressure. For many years, doctors diagnosed patients as having high blood pressure if it was 140/90 mm Hg or greater on repeated testing. There is now a new definition of hypertension and this could mean that half of all Americans will be diagnosed as hypertensive.

Here are the new definitions:

Normal BP:  systolic less than 120 and diastolic less than 80

Elevated BP: systolic between 120 and 129 and diastolic less than 80

Stage 1 hypertension: systolic between 130 and 139 or diastolic between 80 and  89

Stage 2 hypertension: systolic 140 or greater or diastolic 90 or greater

With this new information, go speak to your healthcare provider about your blood pressure profile.

-Dr. P

dr-polcino.com

facebook.com/DrPolcino

twitter.com/DrPolcino

vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino

instagram.com/DrPolcino

Are you at your mental best? No? Maybe you need a cup of coffee and a nap.

Most of us have a downtime in our day approximately 7 to 8 hours after we awaken so that means between 2 and 4 pm we may not be at our mental best. The benefits of an afternoon nap are well known with 10 to 20 minutes being the most ideal. We arise from the nap with increased mental sharpness. You can increase this mental boost even greater by having a pre-nap cup of coffee. The caffeine will kick in just about the time you get up and perhaps your thinking will be even sharper. It seems there is another benefit to having that extra cup of coffee!

Morning Coffee

Starting the day off with a cup of coffee may open those eyes up a bit wider but it may also have a great health benefit, reducing the risk of many common medical problems.  Scientific studies have demonstrated a decreased risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes in those who drink 3 cups of coffee per day.
Most of us have heard about the benefits of antioxidants and their ability to help the body decrease inflammation and aid in oxidation process. It is believed that inflammation is the basis of many of our common health conditions. The health benefits of coffee seems to be derived from it being rich in antioxidants especially a chemical called polyphenols.
To get the most benefit from your daily cups of coffee, freshly ground, caffeinated coffee hits the mark especially if you don’t add the fattening cream, sugars and flavoring.

Getting ready for college life


It is already mid-August and many families with a college student are about to start on a new adventure. Whether the young adult is going to a commuter school and living at home or attending an away college and living in a dorm, there are many changes about to hit family dynamics and the college students lives. Long discussions should now begin about forming healthy habits that will be important for now, and more importantly, for the future. I always advise living the way your grandmother taught you. Here are some of Grandma MaryAnn’s suggestions.

Grandma MaryAnn says you must:

  • Get your sleep – It is important to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night. During sleep your body may be resting, but your brain is busy processing all the information it was exposed to during the day. Sleep helps your immune system to stay strong and prevent colds and other infections you are constantly exposed to. If possible, shut off all your electronic devices 30 to 40 minutes before going to sleep; the light from the screens can affect chemicals in your brain that enhance getting to sleep.
  • Eat well – Food is your body’s fuel. In order to work hard and think clearly, you need to eat the fruits, nuts and vegetables that we all know are the right stuff. Starting with a healthy breakfast will get the brain ready for the day. Healthy snacks are a must. The crash after the candy bar will be tough to handle.
  • Exercise – Exercise needs to be a part of your regular schedule because it decreases stress, keeps your mind sharp, and is fun. You should think of it as an investment in yourself.

I wish all the students a great year, and remember to call your Mom and Grandma as often as you can because with loving words from your biggest supporters, there is nothing you can’t handle.

dr-polcino.com

facebook.com/DrPolcino

twitter.com/DrPolcino

vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino

instagram.com/DrPolcino

A gentle way to remove a tick

We, here on the Island, are in the middle of tick season and it is reported that there is an above average tick infestation this year. If you do come in contact with a tick, there is always the time honored tweezer method to grasp and remove it.

Another method is to take a cotton ball and put a liberal amount of liquid soap on it. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball. Rub for a few seconds and usually the tick will release and be attached to the ball. This simple method is perfect for children and upset adults.

As always, prevention is the best medicine. Please check out the 8 best ways to avoid being bitten by a tick.

Ticks Poster 1 Rev5

-Dr. P

dr-polcino.com

facebook.com/DrPolcino

twitter.com/DrPolcino

vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino

instagram.com/DrPolcino

Another reason to encourage weight control in adolescents

kid-scale

Obesity is a known risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer. A recent study out of Israel found that obese or overweight 17- and 18-year-olds can have an increased risk of developing colon and rectal cancer, and the risk may be increased as high as 50%! We now have another reason to encourage good eating and exercise habits for our children. The earlier these healthy life style habits begin, the better.

-Dr. P

dr-polcino.com

facebook.com/DrPolcino

twitter.com/DrPolcino

vimeo.com/channels/DrPolcino

instagram.com/DrPolcino

Grandma Antoinette’s Fried Zucchini Flowers

Grandma Antoinette’s Fried Zucchini Flowers

“This recipe has been our family favorite. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do.”
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: soy free
Servings: 4
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Ingredients

  • 18-24 male zucchini flowers (with stems)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Clean flowers and dry with a paper towel.
  • Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Whisk eggs, milk, and olive oil together in a separate bowl; stir in flour mixture until batter is smooth.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet over medium heat.
  • Dip flowers in the batter and fry in the hot oil until golden and crispy, 2 to 5 minutes, working in batches as needed. Transfer fried flowers to a paper towel-lined plate; sprinkle salt over each.

Spaghetti Squash with Broccoli

Spaghetti Squash with Broccoli

In this low-carb spaghetti squash lasagna recipe, garlicky broccoli, spaghetti squash and cheese are combined for a healthy take on a favorite casserole. This bakes right in the squash shells for a fun presentation.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gluten Free, low calorie, low carb, low fat, soy free, vegetarian
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 194kcal
Author: Grandma Antoinette

Ingredients

  • 1 2 - 3lb Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive oil
  • 1 Bunch Broccoli ( or Broccolini) Chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella cheese (part-skim)
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Pepper

Instructions

  • Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 450°F.
  • Place squash cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish; add 2 tablespoons water. Microwave, uncovered, on High until the flesh is tender, about 10 minutes. (Alternatively, place squash halves cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake in a 400°F oven until the squash is tender, 40 to 50 minutes.)
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add broccolini, garlic and red pepper (if using); cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add water and cook, stirring, until the broccolini is tender, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the bowl. Place the shells in a broiler-safe baking pan or on a baking sheet. Stir ¾ cup mozzarella, 2 tablespoons Parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper into the squash mixture. Divide it between the shells; top with the remaining ¼ cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  • Bake on the lower rack for 10 minutes. Move to the upper rack, turn the broiler to high and broil, watching carefully, until the cheese starts to brown, about 2 minutes.
  • Easy cleanup: To save time and keep your baking sheet looking fresh, line it with a layer of foil before you bake.

Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew

Chicken & Sweet Potato stew

This skillet recipe is a colorful and healthy main dish that can be on the table in just over an hour. The subtle, sweet-spicy flavor is a nice surprise.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy free, diabetic, Gluten Free, heart healthy, low carb, low fat, soy free
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small red onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves cut into cubes
  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
  • ½ pound white button mushrooms thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper or more to taste
  • 1 pinch paprika or more to taste
  • 1 pinch sea salt or more to taste
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion, garlic and mushrooms in hot oil until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir chicken, sweet potatoes, spinach, crushed red pepper, paprika, and sea salt with the onion and garlic in the saucepan. Pour as much chicken broth into the saucepan to make the mixture as soup-like or stew-like as you’d like it.
  • Bring the broth to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle and the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Summertime Shrimp Salad

Summertime Shrimp Salad

“Use an array of colorful veggies to make this healthy shrimp salad pop. Cooking the shrimp with fresh herbs and garlic infuses them with flavor without coming off too strong for a light dinner salad that’s perfect for summer entertaining.”
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Salad
Keyword: dairy free, diabetic, Gluten Free, low carb, low fat
Servings: 4
Calories: 290kcal

Ingredients

  • pounds raw shrimp 21-25 count, peeled and deveined
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 medium cucumber diced
  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes chopped
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil plus more for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Toss shrimp with oil, thyme and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the shrimp are pink and firm, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the shrimp to a large bowl (discard thyme and garlic). Add lemon juice and stir to coat. Gently stir in cucumber, tomatoes and basil. Arrange the shrimp and vegetables in a serving bowl. Serve drizzled with any dressing left in the bowl and garnish with more basil, if desired.