A Quick Guide to Selecting a Healthy Chewing Gum

I love gum! I always make it a point to have it on hand with me. I am definitely one of those people that enjoys chewing a stick of gum after my meals. It is a great palette cleanser, and it keeps me from eating second helpings. However at my last dental check up I ended up having a cavity. I decided to ask my hygienist if my gum habit could be to blame. She informed me that gum can have lot of positive benefits for the health of your mouth. The key is to choose a healthy chewing gum. How do you know if you are purchasing a healthy chewing gum? Well, that is what I will be breaking down for you in this article.

You may be surprised to know that although we think of chewing gum as pretty harmless, there are a couple things about it that are important to consider. The first is that gum can contain sugar or potentially harmful artificial sweeteners. Since most people are aware that sugar filled gums can lead to cavities and tooth decay, most of the gum out there is now sugar free. However choosing sugar free gum isn’t always enough. Sugar free gums contain chemical based artificial sweeteners. Many of these sweeteners are the topic of much debate in the health community. While some argue that they are perfectly safe, there are others that assert that they have potentially dangerous effects on our health. Some independent studies have linked chemical sweeteners like Aspartame to a variety of cancers. While it is still uncertain if this is true, I choose not to risk it. My dental hygienist recommended that I switch to gums that are sweetened with a sugar alcohol called Xylitol. Sugar alcohols are found naturally in some foods. They can also be derived by food manufacturers from sugar. Xylitol is one of the most widely used sugar alcohols. It is popular because it has far less calories than sugar. It is also low on the glycemic index, so it won’t cause a large spike in your blood sugar. It is widely considered to be safe by the health community as well. In fact it has a positive impact on your dental health by helping to kill the bad bacterias that form in your mouth. It is a common ingredient in toothpaste.

The second interesting thing to note about gum is that its base is usually made from plastics and rubbers. This is a fact that very much surprised me and made me think twice about the gum I was buying. Back in the day, gums were usually made from something called chicle, which is from tree sap. Now it is made from synthetics. Since gum bases are made of a variety of these man made materials with the health implications being unknown, it is best to stick to gums that still use a natural chicle base.

Upon my research I found that there are gums that use both Xylitol and a chicle base. Perhaps the most common one is from a brand called Glee Gum. They do sell flavors with sugar as well as ones that are sugar free with just Xylitol for sweetening. Let us know if there are any healthy chewing gum brands that you love!

Is a Pre-Paid Cell Phone Right for You ?

If you are anything like me, you have sat there staring at your cell phone bill wondering where the money goes every month and marveling how it manages to creep up over time. You’ve probably also thought about: switching carriers, plans, or looking at a pre-paid cell phone. Today we’ll take a deeper dive into that last point to see if that pre-paid cell phone you have been thinking of makes sense for you, or anyone in your family (Spoiler: for perhaps 15% of us it makes a lot of sense).

If you meet the following criteria, switching from a classic contract or post-paid phone with one of the big 3 carriers to a pre-paid cell phone will prove a good option:

– If you are a light user of your phone. Classic plans get cheaper at the unit level as usage goes up so heavier users benefit form being on a contract.
– If you are an inconsistent user of your phone. What is the point in paying for 500 minutes a month is one month you use 500 and the next you use 75 – and don’t be fooled by “roll over minutes” almost none of those get used, they aren’t giving you anything.
– If data is no big deal to you. Classic postpaid cell phone plans are the better option for heavy data users.
– If you want to make sure you absolutely never get hit with an overage. Or to control your child’s usage of a phone.
– If you do not use your phone for work.

What is above sounds like a pretty big group but in reality it is a small portion of the general cell phone using populous, but if you fit into that group the switch to a pre-paid cell phone is absolutely the way to go.

Is a Pre-Paid Cell Phone Right for You ?

If you are anything like me, you have sat there staring at your cell phone bill wondering where the money goes every month and marveling how it manages to creep up over time. You’ve probably also thought about: switching carriers, plans, or looking at a pre-paid cell phone. Today we’ll take a deeper dive into that last point to see if that pre-paid cell phone you have been thinking of makes sense for you, or anyone in your family (Spoiler: for perhaps 15% of us it makes a lot of sense).

If you meet the following criteria, switching from a classic contract or post-paid phone with one of the big 3 carriers to a pre-paid cell phone will prove a good option:

– If you are a light user of your phone. Classic plans get cheaper at the unit level as usage goes up so heavier users benefit form being on a contract.
– If you are an inconsistent user of your phone. What is the point in paying for 500 minutes a month is one month you use 500 and the next you use 75 – and don’t be fooled by “roll over minutes” almost none of those get used, they aren’t giving you anything.
– If data is no big deal to you. Classic postpaid cell phone plans are the better option for heavy data users.
– If you want to make sure you absolutely never get hit with an overage. Or to control your child’s usage of a phone.
– If you do not use your phone for work.

What is above sounds like a pretty big group but in reality it is a small portion of the general cell phone using populous, but if you fit into that group the switch to a pre-paid cell phone is absolutely the way to go.

Earn Points With Kellogg’s Family Rewards

Kellogg’s makes so many great products that we love! But now they have made purchasing their products all the more rewarding with their Family Rewards program. When you register and then purchase participating Kellogg’s products, you earn points that can be redeemed for rewards. Choose your rewards from their catalog featuring gift cards such as Starbucks, coupons, and access to special sweepstakes. Not only do you earn rewards on products that you likely already purchase, but you will also receive emails full of special offers, additional free rewards points, coupons, and recipes. If you are interested in signing up, simply click on the banner above and complete the registration.

*This article contains an affiliate link.

Tips on how to Improve Indoor Air Quality

When you figure in sleep, we spend more time breathing the air in our homes than anywhere else. Unfortunately that air is some of the most stagnant air we encounter. Today we’ll take a look how to improve indoor air quality. To set the table: one thing we won’t be talking about in this post are air purification systems. The ones that work are big, expensive, and typically needed by people with serious breathing issues who should consult a doctor. The readily available residential air purifiers at places like Bed, Bath, and Beyond either aren’t particularly effective or have harmful side effects like the production of ozone.

What are some simple things can we do to improve indoor air quality? What works? What is reasonably affordable? Where should we start?

HVAC Solutions:
First if you have forced air change those filters. This will has the added benefit of saving you money through more efficient operation, but mostly it will remove all that dust they have trapped previously. You should change these at least every 4 months, but more often in heavy use seasons.

Cleaning & Tools:
Clean or replace your vacuum. Many of us have old vacuums with dirty filters and brushes caked with hair/dirt, using them moves around the dirt rather than removes it. Stirring up dust and dirt creates more indoor air pollution more than it traps. Once every few months take time to clean brushes, filters, replace bags etc. You’ll be rewarded with a vacuum that works more effectively and with better indoor air quality. If your vacuum is beyond hope look at one of the new HEPA filter enhanced ones sold through major retailers like Target. One other trick is to run your recirculation fan on the HVAC system while cleaning. This will help the filters you previous changed trap the dust stirred up by cleaning.

Rather than sweep and push the dust around, switch to electrostatic dusters like “Swiffer” which do a much better job of trapping dust and dirt. Make a habit of dusting counters and shelves as well as moping at least somewhat consistently – this regiment is far more effective that just sweeping. Again on the days you cleaning run the fan on your furnace to pull any dust in the air through the filters to be trapped.

A Little Green:
So far we have mostly talked about how to clean and eliminate dust and dirt in your house. There is another simple, natural, and effective way to improve air quality, bring some greenery indoors. Plants help to clean the air by removing toxins and naturally help to humidify the air improving its overall quality. Plants are especially effective at removing VOC’s including: formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia, benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene. Here are some of the most effective plants for cleansing indoor air, there are many more listed in this Wikipedia article.

– Dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) no non-toxic.
– Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) non-toxic.
– Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’) no non-toxic.
– Kimberly queen fern (Nephrolepis obliterata) non-toxic.
– Lilyturf (Liriope spicata) non-toxic.
– Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) non-toxic.

Thanks for the time today, what are some things you have done to improve indoor air quality in your house?

Becoming a better cook – Salt is Key

When in the kitchen and looking at things that can improve food and help you in your quest to becoming a better cook look no farther than Salt. It is one of the essential building blocks not only of flavor but of life as well. Today we’ll look at the cooking implications and types of salt you should have on hand. The uses for and approaches to salting food to maximize flavor. This piece really breaks into 2 parts – the “what” and the “how” of salt and salting. Let’s look at the what first, or more correctly the what you need. I’d recommend any home cook have three (yes I know it sounds silly) types of salt on hand at all time. They are:

– Basic Iodized Salt – This is the stuff you are very familiar with, fine grained, salty, ideal for baking and similar dishes.
– Kosher Salt – This is a much coarser grain salt and is the workhorse of my kitchen it is great for building flavor, layering, and seasoning items ahead of time.
Flake/Finishing Salt – Maldon or similar sea salt is ideal. It can get expensive though so you should shop around. This is primarily used for finishing dishes that high sprinkle on a completed dish before you serve.

Now on to the how of salting. This is just as important in producing tasting food and becoming a better cook. There are two main techniques that don’t get taught enough when it comes to the use of salt, and I learned both from the forwards of cook books by two of the greats: Thomas Keller and Alice Watters. I credit Keller with teaching me what I call the “high salt,” sprinkling salt on dishes from a shoulder height or higher level ensures that the salt spreads more evenly over the dish and doesn’t leave over and under seasoned bites. To Alice Waters credit goes the process of salting individual ingredients before combining them into a dish. Say you are making tomato sauce: chop each ingredient individually and salt them as such before combining. The try just adding salt to the already combined ingredients in a second batch. The first batch comes out brighter, more nuanced and much more flavorful.

Becoming a better cook – Salt is Key

When in the kitchen and looking at things that can improve food and help you in your quest to becoming a better cook look no farther than Salt. It is one of the essential building blocks not only of flavor but of life as well. Today we’ll look at the cooking implications and types of salt you should have on hand. The uses for and approaches to salting food to maximize flavor. This piece really breaks into 2 parts – the “what” and the “how” of salt and salting. Let’s look at the what first, or more correctly the what you need. I’d recommend any home cook have three (yes I know it sounds silly) types of salt on hand at all time. They are:

– Basic Iodized Salt – This is the stuff you are very familiar with, fine grained, salty, ideal for baking and similar dishes.
– Kosher Salt – This is a much coarser grain salt and is the workhorse of my kitchen it is great for building flavor, layering, and seasoning items ahead of time.
Flake/Finishing Salt – Maldon or similar sea salt is ideal. It can get expensive though so you should shop around. This is primarily used for finishing dishes that high sprinkle on a completed dish before you serve.

Now on to the how of salting. This is just as important in producing tasting food and becoming a better cook. There are two main techniques that don’t get taught enough when it comes to the use of salt, and I learned both from the forwards of cook books by two of the greats: Thomas Keller and Alice Watters. I credit Keller with teaching me what I call the “high salt,” sprinkling salt on dishes from a shoulder height or higher level ensures that the salt spreads more evenly over the dish and doesn’t leave over and under seasoned bites. To Alice Waters credit goes the process of salting individual ingredients before combining them into a dish. Say you are making tomato sauce: chop each ingredient individually and salt them as such before combining. The try just adding salt to the already combined ingredients in a second batch. The first batch comes out brighter, more nuanced and much more flavorful.

5 Cheap and Easy Home Decor Trends That We are Loving

Home decor trends are constantly evolving and changing. What is cool one year can easily look outdated the next. If you are feeling like you decor needs some refreshening your answer maybe as simple as incorporating a few new trendy items or colors into your rooms. Here are some of the top home decor trends that we are loving at the moment. Best of all these home decor trends are affordable and easy to find at your favorite home stores.

1. Copper and Rose Gold
The new “it” metal for 2016 is most definitely rose gold. It can be found in all sorts of home decor items such as wire baskets, servingware, utensils, clocks, wall hangings, and much more. If you want to really jump into the trend, consider incorporating a rose gold accent chair or side table into your room. Maybe even add a fun rose gold lighting fixture or chandelier.

2. Marble
Marble has a very luxe, elegant feel. In 2016 it is back in a big way. You’ll find it in all sorts of kitchen and bathroom accent pieces. Some people are taking the trend a step further and are choosing to use it for their countertops, because it is so timeless and will last for the long haul.

3. Acrylic
In 2016 many trendy homeowners are opting for a more clean, minimalistic approach to home decor. The rise of this look has created an interest in clear acrylic home decor pieces. Furniture made from acrylic is everywhere! From cool midcentury inspired desk chairs, to awesome end tables you will find that this is a simple and easy furniture trend to add to your home. Acrylic organizers are also very popular for storing everything in your home from makeup to panty items like cans and granola bars.

4. Gray Paint
When it comes to paint the hot must have color to try is definitely gray. You will see beautiful and elegant gray paint swatches all over Pinterest right now. The right shade of gray can create a calming atmosphere and it also looks great with a wide variety of color palettes. Plus paint has a hugely transforming effect on a room, taking it from drab to interesting without having to spend a lot of cash in the process. We are loving these stunning shades from Benjamin Moore.

5. Mirrored Furniture
Another 2016 trend that we are loving is mirrored furniture. It instantly adds elegance and glamour to a room. It is also very versatile and looks great with rooms of all color palettes since it is so neutral. Plus it adds some nice variation to the room providing an interesting accent piece to tie the room together. While mirrored furniture can be pricey, its surge in popularity has made it available at some really great discounted prices at stores like TJ Maxx, Homegoods, and Target.

*Photo collage created on Polyvore.com