My Two Favorite Cuisines Joined Forces and I Am In Panda Express Heaven!!!!

This post brought to you by Panda Express. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Stuff Parents Need.

As someone who spent 10 years of her life in Memphis, Tennessee, home of the best barbecue on the planet (#sorrynotsorry North Carolina, Texas and Kansas City), I consider myself to be a bit of a barbecue snob. When I find a good barbecue joint, I become very loyal to that location (I have found one and only one barbecue establishment that’s up to snuff here in Chattanooga, so far).

I also am extremely partial to Chinese food. It is my go-to comfort food of choice and my very favorite take out option. I would pick it over pizza any day of the week!

So what do these two things have in common?  Panda ExpressEveryone’s favorite quick-serve Chinese food restaurant has just launched, for a limited time only, Panda’s Chinese Spare Ribs!  undefined

Panda Express may be a restaurant where you can get your food quickly, but that doesn’t mean the ribs were cooked fast. Instead, these Chinese Spare Ribs are slow cooked for 5 hours, which is exactly how you need to do it for ribs, friends. You want that meat to pretty much fall off the bones. So the cooking style sounds right to me, and the marinade sounds out-of-control AWESOME! Sesame oil, mirin, red chili bean past, garlic and red peppers all join forces to make a sweet and spicy sauce that will set those ribs free!

So obviously I am headed to Panda Express ASAP to try these ribs. You probably don’t need an excuse to get yourself to your nearest location, either, but just in case you do, think about which friend of yours has a birthday coming up. This will be the perfect birthday treat! A trip to Panda Express for the Chinese Spare Ribs could also be in order for Father’s Day or upcoming graduations. You can even place your Order Online if you want to be super efficient or pick up an amazing meal to go.

I can’t wait to try out this crazy awesome marriage between my two favorite types of cuisine. I’ll be letting you know exactly what I think. Bring your A game, Panda Express. I’m certainly bringing mine! And also perhaps a bib…

If you want to learn more about Panda Express dishes, visit the Panda Express Facebook, Twitter and Instagram sites! And for some yummy DIY ideas, head to the Panda Pinterest page!

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A Delicious Way to Add More Protein to Your Breakfast

For years (actually, for decades) I ate cereal most every morning for breakfast. It was simply what I craved and what I enjoyed. I never wavered from it, until 2 years ago, when my husband and I did the Paleo thing for a month. Not being able to reach for a box of grains and a glass of milk for a whole month actually broke me of my cereal habit, and I found that I no longer craved it. And I think that’s a good thing.

BUT…

I was still left not knowing what to eat for breakfast! I have mostly swapped one set of carbs for another, as I now eat a bagel most mornings. And then I’m hungry an hour later. That’s because I’m not getting something that I really need to be eating first thing: PROTEIN. I have really struggled with finding protein-rich options for breakfast. That’s why I was SUPER pumped to discover this new patty from Boca Essentials.

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 This is the breakfast scramble, and it is considered a complete protein because it contain 9 essential amino acids, all in the correct portions. These amino acids are things that every body needs but that we, as humans, simply can’t produce on our own.

So this product is, at least in my experience, very filling and very flavorful. But I wanted to find a way to really kick it up a notch and have a breakfast that was really worth getting out of bed for, know what I mean?

So I present to you, the Caramelized Breakfast Scramble Sandwich!

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While the recipe takes a little bit of effort and time, you can actually make enough of the onions and mushrooms at one time to accommodate 4 servings. Even if you are the only person in the house who wants a breakfast sandwich,  you can basically cook breakfast once and have the ingredients prepped to eat it 4 times. Score!

Ingredients:

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  • 1 package Boca Essentials Breakfast Scramble patties (leave in the freezer until needed)
  • (1) 16 oz package mushrooms, chopped coarsely
  • 4 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • water
  • Havarti cheese

To begin, preheat your oven to the temperature required for the canned biscuits. Then get a large, nonstick skillet and place it on the stove on medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp olive oil.

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Once the pan is heated thoroughly, add your thinly sliced onions and cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes.

Now add the mushrooms, 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp water, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp of salt an cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring regularly. While the mushrooms and onions are cooking together, put the biscuits in the oven and cook according to package directions.

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After the 5 minutes of cooking, taste test the mushrooms and onions. If they don’t quite taste sweet enough, add 1 more tsp of sugar. I also found that I needed to add 1 more Tbsp of water at this point. Cook for 5 more minutes on a lower heat setting.  The end result should look something like this.

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Now it’s time to heat your Boca breakast scramble patty. I just popped mine in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes and it was ready to go!

Once your biscuits are out of the oven and cooled down enough that you can touch them, slice one in half, and then add your Boca Essentials patty, followed by a heap of your caramelized onions and mushrooms. Now slice a bit of Harvarti cheese for the top.

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Your oven should still be warm, so go ahead and switch it over to high broil an then stick your sandwich in (minus the top “bun”) and watch it carefully. You want your cheese to melt but not to burn!

Then top your creation with the other half of the biscuit and enjoy!

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This was my breakfast yesterday morning, as well as this morning (I took my own advice a cooked a large batch of onions and mushrooms) and I have been full and happy all morning long! This is in sharp contrast to t he way I normally feel, which is starving by 9:30 am!

The Boca Essentials line hit the ball out of the part with their Breakfast Scramble patty. I hope you will give it a try sometime soon! Be on the lookout for their other two new flavors: Roasted Vegetables and Red Quinoa and Chile Relleno. Sound like some great options for a hearty lunch or dinner, too! You can find Boca Essentials at select retailers nationwide in the freezer case. The retail price for four patties is $4.29.

Let me know if you try out the recipe!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Home Hack: How to Change an Air Filter

Complimentary subscription service provided for review purposes. All thoughts, opinions, and disgusting air filters are my own. Affiliate links may be included. 

So I learned something new last week that relates to household maintenance. I knew that the main air vent for heating and cooling systems had an air filter. And I knew that it needed to be replaced. But I had absolutely NO idea that it is supposed to be replaced every 3 months. And truth be told, I never think about the darn thing, anyway, so I can’t even tell you that I remember to change my air filter annually.

This has traditionally been my husband’s domain, and he takes care of it whenever he remembers. That’s good enough for me! But as the mother of two impressionable little girls, I want to set a good example for them and show them that household maintenance tasks are not to be ignored, nor are they to be feared/solely the domain of one person. FilterSnap.com is an air filter subscription service that is helping me take some initiative and complete this important chore in a timely manner.

Take a look at a video I filmed over the weekend to see just how easy it is to replace your air filter. This is seriously a 1 minute chore!

My dear husband requested that I set the record straight about something mentioned in the video. I thought we had NEVER changed the filter in our current home, and while I have never changed it, Tim actually has, though he isn’t sure when he last changed it and can only tell me that it was somewhere between 1 and 2 years ago. But to be fair, the nastiness you saw wasn’t 3 years of accumulation. Still, we clearly aren’t good about remembering to change the filters anywhere near as often as we should. And as a household with 2 cats and with allergy sufferers, we are doing ourselves a tremendous disservice by not staying on top of this.

This is exactly why I love FilterSnap.com. I have filled out the information they need about the size filter we have (it’s easy to find out…just look on your current filter for the dimensions). I don’t have to remember what size I need from here on out…FilterSnap will take care of it. Their prices are competitive with what you will find in the stores, and a new filter will show up on your doorstep every 3 months, and that’s your cue to replace the old one!

filter snap how to change an air filter

FilterSnap offers 3 different grades of air filters so that you can choose the right one for your budget and for your particular household needs. And as for the quality, I really enjoyed reading up on the intention behind the FilterSnap designs. It seems to me that these are high quality products that will rival if not best what you will find in the stores.

So how often do you change the air filters in your home? And have you, yourself, ever attempted the chore? Can you even believe how ridiculously easy it is? Let me encourage you to take a moment to change your filter as part of your spring cleaning. And if you are like me and never think about doing it, go ahead and get signed up for FilterSnap.com so that you don’t ever have to think about it again!

The Search for Fab Kids Shoes Starts at FabKids

Shoes provided for review purposes. We are happy FabKids.com members! 

There’s a rule at my girls’ school that I have always appreciated: the kids must wear slippers inside the classroom. This helps keep the floors in much better condition (which helps keep the costs down). A bonus for the parents is that it also tends to help keep the shoes that the kids wear to and from school in much better condition. So really, everybody wins!

But I just learned that the rules change in the lower elementary building. Starting in the fall, Darah will get to wear the shoes she came to school in all day long. I’m sort of bummed about this changed, but Darah is PUMPED. I guess to her, wearing your shoes all day long is oh so very BIG KID AWESOME.

All this is to say that we are likely going to be going through shoes at a faster pace, so I need to keep my eyes open for cute finds that are reasonable in price. This month, I finally got to try out the awesome shoes that FabKids.com offers. I looked through the offerings and saw quite a few different options that I knew Darah would love, but there was one pair, in particular, that had her name all over them.

I present to you, the pink leopard sneaker.

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These shoes are positively gaudy. I can’t even lie about it, people. But this is EXACTLY what seems to be in style now (and I can’t really judge…I was a kid in the ’80s so whatever kids these days are wearing, it can’t possibly be any more strange than the stuff I was rockin’ back in the day…). Darah loves animal prints and she loves pink and she loves sparkles. So this is pretty much her dream shoe.

It’s also her first pair of lacing shoes. Since she’ll be headed to first grade in a handful of months, it’s time for her to start learning how to tie her shoes. Having a super cute pair to practice on will help her stay motivated. If she wants to wear these to her first grade classroom, she has to know how to tie and untie them!

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She absolutely loves them, friends. They were a major hit. They are priced at $19.95 for anyone with a VIP membership to FabKids, and I think that’s a fair price to pay for something that is going to be so well received by my child. And I’m guessing I’m not the only parent out there with a kid who would rock these in a hot second if given the chance!

How to Buy These Shoes

Ok, so there is definitely a way to buy shoes the right way on FabKids. First, you need to be a VIP member. This means that you are signed up to get a special email from FabKids on the first of every month, at which point you will have 5 days to either select an outfit you’d like to purchase for $29.95 or to skip the month. There is no penalty for skipping the month, no charge if you notify them that you are skipping, and no hassle. It’s a simple button you press online and it isn’t hard to find! :-)

So you’ll want to be in VIP so you can get a better price to start. Then when you see a pair of shoes that you really want to get, go ahead and pair it with an outfit so that you can buy enough stuff in one shot to score free shipping ($50+ gets you there). And before you check out, head over to their sale section to see if there are any great buys that you want to snag for now or even for the next size up for you kiddo. These are the strategies I use to get the very most bang for my buck on FabKids.com! AND…if you are new to the site and sign up through my referral link, you can get your first outfit for just $15 and snag free shipping…but you might want to check out the shoes, all the same, before checking out!

If you order something let me know what you get! :-)

Finding an Essential Oil for Weight Loss: The Aromatic Approach

Disclaimer:  I am sharing my own personal experience with finding an essential oil for weight loss, but I am NOT offering medical advice of any sort. And while I mention this in the post below, I want to mention it again right here: PLEASE take great care when choosing a brand of essential oils. 98% of essential oils on the market contain chemicals additives and synthetic fillers, and the vast majority offer no real therapeutic benefits. Please consult your physician should you have any questions or concerns. Essential oils have not been tested by the FDA. Affiliate links included. I love promoting what rocks my world! 

One of my most popular posts on the blog is about essential oils for weight loss. Have you read it, yet? If not, go ahead and join the other 600,000 people who have (!). I’ll wait!

In that post, I share detailed information about how I personally use a combination of lemon, peppermint and grapefruit, in homemade capsule form, to help me with my weight loss goals. If you check out the comments, you will see that lots of people have a heck of a lot to say about this approach! Many people have questions, many people have testimonials of their own, and some people even raise concerns.

While I personally feel 100% safe ingesting these Young Living essential oils thanks to the seed to seal approach of the company that is not found elsewhere, (I would not personally ingest other brands…please remember to do your research before putting something in your body!), I understand that not everyone will reach the exact same conclusion. Some people simply feel more comfortable using essential oils topically or aromatically and opting out of ingesting as a method of use, altogether. If this is how you feel, but you are still interested in using an essential oil for weight loss, then this post is for you!

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In my experience, when you are using essential oils to help with healthy weight loss and weight management, you need your oils to help with 3 key areas: increasing the length of time that you feel full/content after eating, reducing cravings, and increasing energy. While I do not believe the list below is exhaustive by any stretch of the imagination, these are the essential oils that I personally have found to be effective in each of these areas.

Increasing Feelings of Fullness After Meals

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  • Grapefruit
  • Peppermint
  • Lemon
  • Cinnamon
  • Ocotea
  • Bergamot

Reducing Cravings

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  • Lavender
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Citrus Fresh
  • Orange
  • Vetiver
  • Clary Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Patchouli (not pictured…I have not personally tried this oil, FYI)

Energizing

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  • Peppermint
  • Ginger
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Basil
  • Rosemary

Essential oils are so amazing, and so versatile, and that is why I do not doubt that more oils could be added to each section. On that same note, our bodies are all different, and how essential oils interact with our bodies will be at least somewhat different, so I cannot promise that your experience trying an oil will be exactly the same as mine. Sometimes you have to do a bit of experimenting to find the ideal combination for you. Additionally, since this particular use of essential oils involves using your nose, it’s important to group oils together that will actually smell decent! Bearing these factors in mind, these are the combinations that I personally enjoy diffusing and that I would recommend for weight loss.

Lemon, Peppermint and Grapefruit

You’ll notice that two of these three oils show up in multiple categories.This is why I think this is the blend of oils to start with first!

Ginger, Peppermint and Rosemary

This one, for me, is not one I can handle first thing in the morning. It’s just too intense! It’s perfect for the 2pm slump, though!

Lemongrass, Lavender and Peppermint

This combo is very fresh, clean and invigorating!

Bergamot, Ylang Ylang and Lemon

Late night cravings? Go for this particular blend! The scent is so calming and soothing and just lovely, but it helps with your cravings, too!

Ocotea, Orange and Rosemary

This is another one that I will run only in the afternoon. I find the ocotea to be a very strong odor, and VERY effective at reducing my appetite. In fact, I can’t stand it by itself. The orange and rosemary give it the boost I think it needs to go from being rough on the nose to actually quite pleasant. Try it and let me know what you think!

Citrus Fresh, Basil and Cinnamon Bark

One of my favorite oil combos to diffuse in the middle of a work session, when I might be tempted to munch as I work. This nips it in the bud and keeps me focused, as well.

Clary Sage, Lavender and Ylang Ylang

This is another blend I particularly love in the evenings. It’s soothing but doesn’t put you to sleep. :-)

Ok, so those are the combos I use. I don’t own patchouli so that oil isn’t in any of my recommended combos at this point. If you own it, be sure to do some experiments with it, as well. You can also mix and match these combos on your own to see if you can come up with something you love the best. Or, you can just diffuse one oil if you want to hone in on one particular need.

As for the amounts to use, I keep things simple and usually do 2 drops of each oil. If you find yourself overpowered by one of the scents, drop it down to 1 drop. Likewise, if you aren’t noticing any benefits, increase the oils by 1 drop each. Remember, essential oils are very powerful, so there’s no need to do several drops of each in the diffuser. If you ultimately just can’t tell a difference in your appetite, cravings and energy level and you really don’t want to ingest, I would suggest trying some of the oils topically.

I can’t wait to hear what you have tried and what you like! I did quite a bit of experimenting over the past few weeks to find the combos that worked for me. I hope some of them are winners for you, too!

New to Essential Oils?

If you are new to the world of essential oils and are looking for some guidance and some support on your journey to wellness, I would love to be that person for you! If you want to get started with just a few oils, I’d love to make some personalized recommendations for you based on your needs. There’s no reason to have to buy all of these oils at once! Let me help you figure out which ones might have the best odds of being of maximum benefit to you (because remember, essential oils are very versatile and rarely provide only one benefit!). I place an order once a month using my wholesale discount and I extend that discount to folks who are new to the oils so that you can try them out at the best possible price. Simply shoot me an email at stuffparentsneed (at) gmail (dot) com and we can start brainstorming which oils are best for you to try first and get some price quotes. Every single oil listed above is available through Young Living.

I also offer a weight loss and wellness challenge group on Facebook every 2 months. This is for anyone signed up as a wholesale member under me who has purchased the premium starter kit (that’s the way to get the diffuser, friends!). This group is proven to be WONDERFUL for support and encouragement, as well as for getting educated about all the oils in the premium starter kit. I’d love to have you in the next group so we can grow and learn together! Feel free to check out more information on how to join Young Living, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me at stuffparentsneed (at) gmail (dot) com with your questions. I’m here to help!