5 Minute Toasted Ravioli

Toasted Ravioli

I cannot rave about this recipe ENOUGH! It is SO delicious and SO easy and SO fast and SO CHEAP (under $5)! I won’t waste time trying to convince you, just trust me on this one. Make these toasted raviolis for guests or loved ones in these next few weeks and you will make their tummies very happy!

Grab any kind of frozen ravioli you want for this tasty finger food – you can use cheese/meat/mini/round/square, the more the merrier. Thaw the frozen raviolis for about 30 minutes, and they should be perfect for fryin’! Dip the raviolis into the egg mixture, then bread crumb mixture (see recipe below). Then, all you have to do is fry these babies for a few short minutes and you’ll have the perfect appetizer for any get-together! I served mine with marinara sauce and they were gone in about 5 minutes flat. :)

Fried Raviolis

SISTER TIP: Absolutely positively NEVER pour your leftover cooking oil down the drain! Read this article on other safe ways to dispose of your oil.

Grab the full recipe HERE! Enjoy!

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LUNA let me try some of their new gluten-free bars and they’re DELICIOUS! Plus I’m giving some away!

LUNA is going gluten free! And their lovely team decided to send me some of the new protein bars they’ve come up with to share with all of you! I always love LUNA bars because their flavors are so unique and different than any other nutrition bar out there. They market more towards women (sorry guys, you can enjoy them too though!), with low glycemic index (you stay full longer), made with 70% organic ingredients, no artificial flavors, under 200 calories, AND 8-10g of protein in each tasty bar! What’s not to love??

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There’s been lots of talk recently about how just because something is labeled gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthier or better for you. The great thing about LUNA’s transition to gluten free is that I know I’m not sacrificing important nutrients (or taste) by snackin’ on this delicious protein bar.

My favorite new gluten free flavor that I tried was the Chocolate Cupcake. Holy. Moley. Is this bar good. It’s the perfect way to satisfy even the largest chocolate craving, and it has dark chocolate pieces and silky frosting… ok, I know I’m sounding like a LUNA ad here, but people, trust me, these things are delicious!

The BEST part about this post is that LUNA agreed to help me give away a variety box of gluten free bars to one of my readers! Enter below, and good luck! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

LUNA provided me with product, but all opinions are my own. :)

Expert Answers to Your Skin Care Questions

Skin Care

It’s always cool when all your friends grow up and do something really cool with their lives. I have a friend who is a dermatology clinician (fancy word for skin expert with a doctorate!) and he suggested that I allows a lil’ Q&A session on the blog so he can share some of his wisdom with all of us who have NO idea what the f is going on with our skin on a daily basis! I know we are all curious about where our zits come from, what anti-aging techniques work, and basic questions about daily skin care. Professional advice for free?? I’ll take it!

Here’s some questions and answers that YOU posed with expert answers! If you have any other questions that weren’t on here, feel free to leave them in the comments section and he’ll respond when he can! :)

Q: Best way to get rid of dark circles under the eyes?

A: Dark circles under the eyes may exist for a variety of reasons to include (a) genetics, (b) allergies, and (c) lack of sleep. Some basic ways to prevent dark circles under the eyes include drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep each night.  If you have a history of allergies or suspect that allergies may be playing a role in your dark circles, speak to your health care provider about potential allergy treatments.  A variety of under eye creams exist and some are more effective than others. When choosing an under eye cream be sure to chose one that is free of (a) dye, (b) fragrance, and (c) harsh agents that may cause skin irritation.

Q: Any way to totally prevent cystic acne? Are cortisone shots the best?

There is truly no such thing as cystic acne; it is inflammatory acne, a fact that is proven by the rapid resolution of these lesions when injected with cortisone- an anti-inflammatory agent.  If you are having frequent “cystic” or inflammatory acne outbreaks you may be a candidate for oral medications.

Q: Natural way to treat hormonal breakouts?

Many topical agents have been proven to reduce inflammation and bacteria on the skin, two contributing factors to acne.  If you suspect your hormones, or an imbalance of hormones, is playing a role in your acne, see your health care provider.

Q: Is it really that bad to pop your zits?

YES. It causes more inflammation. Darkening of your skin called post inflammatory hyper pigmentation occurs and may result in scarring. Leave them alone! Warm compress of have them injected at a doctor’s office.

Q: Are chemical peels beneficial?

YES- in the right patients.  Chemical peels should only be applied by health care providers experienced in the care of the skin and the application of chemical peels (dermatology and plastic surgery providers.) Don’t buy them off Groupon! For many people, chemical peels may improve (a) acne, (b) brown spots, (c)  acne scarring, (d) oily skin, (e) wrinkles, and (d)  texture of skin.

Q: Why do I get a recurring pimple in the same spot?

This may be attributed to overactive sebaceous (oil) glands or something as simple as chronic occlusion such as sitting with your palm on your chin.

Q: Is long term use of Aldactone for acne bad?

This medication is helpful for many women who need a systemic medication to regulate their male-like hormones involved in acne.  Periodic monitoring, to include- but not necessarily limited to- serum potassium levels is essential.. Furthermore, women should not become pregnant while taking this medication.

Q: What’s the best store bought product to keep away crows feet/fine lines?

Any product containing retinol- an inactive form of prescription Retin-A; manmade vitamin A has been shown to stimulate collagen production.

Q: Scarring on dark skin – any alternatives to using hydroquinone?

Depressed or raised scarring will not change with hyderquinone; however, hyper pigmentation (dark spots) will respond to prescription hydroquinone as well as some other products. Retin-A, kojic acid, Finacea, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, bayberry, and even kelp have been shown to inhibit hyper pigmentation production.

Q: Psoriasis – any home remedy solutions?

Avoid trauma to the area. Utilize moisturizers with low levels of salicylic acid to thin the thickened skin. For those without elevated risk factors for skin cancer, a few moments of sun per day is often very helpful.

Q: Any special prescriptions adults should use for acne?

All adult patients should be using a prescription with Retin-A (it helps with acne scars). In addition to this drugs anti-acne properties it also has anti-aging and anti-cancer properties.  Beyond this, many adult women need to be treated with an agent such as spironolactone which is designed to address hormonal concerns.

Q: What makes a moisturizer really good?

Plain, simple, no dye, no fragrance, no extra stuff.  Cerave or Cetaphil Restoraderm are both good. A daily moisturizer should also contain an SPF #30.

Q: What is good for daily upkeep? Face wash, toner, and moisturizer?

Use a mild face wash. SPF is the most important. At least a number 30. NO toner- ever- it changes the pH of your skin and can upset your skin’s balance.

Q: Do microdermabrasion tools work?

Microdermabrasion treatments in my office utilize fine crystals which are delivered to the skin through a hand piece and vacuumed off.  These crystals mechanically remove superficial layers of dead skin- this results in a brighter complexion and helps to relieve congested pores.

Q: Do firming eye creams work?

The more hydrated skin cells are- with water (moisturizers) the more plumped up and fat the skin cells are and the less apparent fine lines and wrinkles look.

Have a skin care question?? Leave it in the comments section! :)

 

Cucumber Cups: The Perfect Holiday Finger Food

Cucumber Cups Snack

You know I am all about easy peezy recipes. Maria Menounos shared this in her health book, and while I’m not sure you can even count it as a recipe, these cucumber cups are perfect pop-able appetizers for any holiday party coming up. The coolness of the cucumber creates an exciting balance with the creamy hummus, and the pepper decoration adds a little crunch! Plus, it’s super healthy and meat-free – only three ingredients and about 10 minutes of your time. This light snack will be a hit with both adults and kids. :)

Cucumber Cups

Whatcha Need:
2 large cucumbers, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup hummus
1/2 red or orange bell pepper, diced into small pieces

Whatcha Do:
Scoop the seeds out of the cucumber with a spoon. Fill each cucumber “cup” with hummus and place one piece of diced pepper on top as a garnish.

Enjoy!

My Favorite Holiday Centerpiece this Year

I love going home for the holidays, who doesn’t?? My momma always buys the best holiday gifts and decorations for my sister and me. This year, she really took the cake with a gorgeous electric glitter candle that everyone was raving about at Thanksgiving dinner!

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It’s battery-operated and garnished with a little pine needle wreath around the bottom, but the BEST part is the fact that super sparkly glitter lights up and swirls around inside the candle! It’s unbelievably beautiful! We would have bought a dozen more, but our store ran out! So check the Lowe’s near you and if they’re in stock, go grab a few, you won’t regret it. What a perfect holiday centerpiece or gift this year!

Candle GIF

The pictures don’t do it justice, so I took a silly GIF to show you how lovely the glittery swirl looks. :)

Buy this battery-operated glitter candle for $17 here!

Secret Santa Gift Ideas Under $20

Work places and friend groups are getting ready to do gift exchange programs as the holiday season approaches! Our staff is starting our Secret Santa hunt today, and we use the website Elfster to organize our Secret Santa. It’s an awesome way to anonymously choose gift givers and keep track of gift suggestions.

If you’re part of the office Secret Santa, I came up with 9 gifts that I personally would love to receive, and where you can find them!

Secret Santa Gifts

1) 7-Piece Critter Cookie Set (Crate & Barrel $16.95)

2) Clinique Happy Perfume Rollerball (Ulta $19)

3) Mobile Phone Bike Mount (Amazon $16.99)

4) Metal Photo Clip String Set (Urban Outfitters $14)

5) Hemp Hand Protector (The Body Shop $20)

6) Ghiradelli Peppermint Bark ($20)

7) Pier 1 Christmas Tree Ornament ($6.95)

8) iHome Mini Speaker (Best Buy $19.99)

9) Moscow Mule Copper Mug (Nordstrom $24.99)

What will you buy your Secret Santa??

These Altuzarra Booties are Everything.

Have you ever passed on a pair of shoes, and then couldn’t stop thinking about them for the rest of the day/week/month?? That was me this past September… I found these incredible fashion ankle booties from Target; they fit perfectly, and they were unbelievably hot, but for some reason (probably the $59.99 price tag), I put them back on the shelf and they’ve been haunting me ever since.

d5068aea35c388ff45ebec1b230079d1So while I started early Christmas shopping this weekend online, I decided to swing over to Target’s shoe department and see if they still had any available in my size, and GUESS WHAT! They not only had them, they were 50% OFF!!!

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So now I get these kick-ass booties for under 30 bucks, an extra 5% off with my Target RedCard, $2 cash back on Ebates, AND free shipping right to my house. Ah, I’m so satisfied. #ShoeGoodKarma

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The reason I love these ankle boots is because they’re SO different than anything else I’ve seen in stores this season. The pointy toe gives it a little bit of a witchy feel and I totally dig it (kinda Hocus Pocus-y, right?). The heel height is perfect for dressing up, but the laces dress it down just enough to make them appropriate for skinny jeans.

Boots

Buy these amazing Altuzarra ankle boots here! Kohl’s coat $100

12 Groceries that I Buy Every Sunday (and what I do with them!)

I love to grocery shop over the weekend. It prepares me to eat healthy throughout the week, and motivates me to [hopefully] cook some nice meals and save money by not going out. My favorite grocery store is Trader Joe’s, but honestly, I grab my canned goods from Target and Aldi and my produce from a farmer’s/produce market whenever possible.

I love a full fridge!

I love a full fridge!

Here’s my list of 12 goodies that I make sure to buy every trip to the grocery store. Hopefully it helps you next store trip!

Groceries that I Buy

What I do With My Groceries:
EGGS – I hard boil 1/2 of them for snacks, and use the rest to top my black beans burgers.
FRUIT - 1 piece of fruit for breakfast, 1 as a snack in between lunch and dinner.
SPINACH -  I sauté spinach and throw it in almost everything I make. It has no taste or texture, so it’s perfect to add in casseroles, sauces, and smoothies.
ALMOND MILK – For the cereal & as a base for smoothies.
GREENS - Greens are a side dish for every meal. Kale chips, roasted broccoli, etc.
CEREAL - Low-sugar, high-fiber cereal is an awesome late night snack.
FROZEN CHICKEN - I use frozen chicken breasts in the crockpot. Toss them in the morning, and dinner’s ready when I get home. This is my favorite recipe!
STEAMABLE VEGGIES - Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh ones (maybe even more so, since they’re frozen within hours of being picked), and a heck of a lot easier.
CANNED BEANS  - THESE amazing burgers!!!
ONIONS - Onions are add low-calorie flavor to everything.
TUNA - Combine tuna, avocado, and celery for a quick, easy lunch.
AVOCADOS - One -> tuna salad lunch; one -> top black bean burger.

100% Natural Holistic Conditioner Has 100% Changed My Hair

All Natural Conditioner

Ok, about two months ago, I decided I had had enough of tangly, knotted, damaged, dry hair. I have really fine hair, so I’m forced to wash my hair every day, and my hair felt overworked and dry! I started to research the ingredients … Continue reading