Benefits of increasing water consumption and a delicious recipe!

We have all heard before that you are supposed to drink 8 glasses of water a day.  But why?  Is there a real reason behind that magic number?  I don’t know about you, but I for one find it actually really hard to make it through that much water a day.
I did a little research to find out why we need so much water a day, and what the actual benefits are.  The CDC states that water helps your body regulate it’s temperature, lubricate and cushion joints, protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, and aid in getting rid of waste.

Infusing water naturally is a great way to enjoy  those 8 glasses painlessly!
I dug a little deeper and found some added benefits.

 

  • Water helps your kidneys.  When your kidneys have enough fluid they are able to help cleanse and flush your body of toxins.  Increasing your fluid intake can also help prevent kidney stones.  Sounds pretty beneficial to me!
  • Water can help control your calories.  If you’re drinking enough water you probably aren’t craving the sugary high-calorie drinks you might normally reach for.  Also, foods high in water content take up more space and help you feel fuller.  Think things like fruits, vegetables, beans, soups, etc.
  • Water can help kick-start your metabolism.  Many people recommend drinking a full glass of water before every meal.  Not only will it help with your metabolism and digestion, but you also won’t be as hungry and won’t feel the need to eat as much.  Pretty natural way to achieve portion control!
  • Water can help energize your body and muscles.  Particularly if you are getting ready to exercise, making sure that your muscles have adequate fluid will prevent fatigue and increase stamina.
  • Water helps with the appearance of your skin.  Skin is made up of 64% water, so replenishing the water that you loose throughout the day can prevent a dull appearance, wrinkles and even blemishes.  Say what?  How could water be the best skin care routine, its free?!  From what I read I learned that without proper hydration your skin can appear duller, and wrinkles or blemishes become more prominent.  Women’s Health states that as we increase our water intake our skin plumps up, filling in cracks, wrinkles and pores.  As a bonus when our skin is hydrated, plump and elastic, it is less likely to crack and let in external particles that can cause future blemishes.  Check out this article if you would like to read more!
So overall I’ve learned that Water can give my skin a healthier appearance, energize my body, help cut down on wasted caloric intake, positively effect my metabolism and digestion, and improve my kidney function.  To me these look like huge benefits without needing to go out and spend any money.

 

But, the hardest part is actually drinking the water.  A while ago I created a blog post with a recipe for some really yummy Naturally Flavored Water.  Check it out for a very fruity and delicious water recipe.
I decided to make another simple one the other day.  By making my water interesting I find it easier to drink the recommended amount.  And, I’m not spending money on pre-flavored water.  In addition, since this is natural I don’t have to worry about extra additives or unnecessary sugar additions.
Strawberries and fresh Mint from the garden ready to infuse water!
We still have a decent amount of Mint in our garden from this summer, and I had some strawberries left in the fridge, so I decided to make a Strawberry-Mint flavored water.  I gathered my supplies, sliced the strawberries and muddled the mint leaves, and then I filled my water bottle with freshly filtered water.

 

Add in 20 oz. of water and let sit overnight, lovely and subtle flavor the next day!
I stuck the water in the fridge and let it sit over night.  Then in the morning I filtered out the strawberries and mint, tossed in a few ice cubes and enjoyed!
I used 4 strawberries and about 2 full sprigs of Mint, and my water bottle holds 20 oz. of water.  This is equal to about 2.5 cups of water.  The flavor was subtle but tasty!  If you want a stronger flavor you could also muddle the strawberries, or increase the amount you use.
I finished the full 20 oz. at my desk that morning, and barely even realized that I was already 1/3 of the way finished with the recommended water intake for the day!
For me, this is a great alternative.  I enjoy water, but when I have to force myself to drink 8 glasses I’m less inclined to drink.  There are so many different ways to flavor your water, I would encourage you to see what flavors you have an play around.  This week I think I will be trying a watermelon basil flavor, mainly because I have basil from the garden I need to use before it’s too late in the season!
What flavors would you enjoy?

 

Shared with Meandering Mondays

Science Exploration – Pinecone Round Up

Fall is definitely upon us, whether we are ready or not.  As we were out walking the dog today I came across the biggest perfect pinecone.  Immediately I knew I had to save it and bring it to school for the Preschool classroom’s science area.  I can already see the kids with magnifying glasses in hand ready to explore.  But first, I need to find out how to remove the sap, my hands were covered!
This prompted me to search around a little for some activities we would be able to do with the preschoolers surrounding pinecones.  I know that as we delve farther into fall they will be all over the place, we can take them for walks and gather pinecones galore.  But what will we do with them?  Here is a round up of some of the activities I found that I know we will be trying.
First I hopped over to Preschool Powol Packets and checked out their article on Pinecone Experiments and Exploration.  They gathered pinecones, and other materials on a walk, and then thought of questions such as:  Will they float?  Can you close a pinecone that is open?  Will the size change?  They put them into a bowl of water to see if they could answer their questions.  What a simple way to introduce cause and effect for children!

pinecone experiment 2
Pinecone Exploration and Experiments over at Preschool Powol Packets
Next I visited Science Sparks and checked out their pinecone weather station.  After a little research they found that when it is dry pinecones open up, and when it’s going to rain they close down.  So they placed four pinecones on a visible window sill outside as a weather station.  I think that this is an awesome visual and hands on activity for children.  I know our friends would eat this up, they would be checking out the window every day!  Can’t wait to give this one a try as well.

 

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Pinecone Weather Station from Science Sparks

Up next was Lemon Lime Adventures and their article on Why do Pinecones open up?  Their experiment used three different scenarios.  Adding a pinecone to Cold Water, Warm Water, and just air.  Once again this is an awesome visual for children to really see what is happening.  They can make predictions about what they think will happen, and then check back later to see if they were right.  Usually making hypothesis and predictions like this will lead to more questions and experimentation.  What a great way to get the learning wheels turning!

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Why do Pinecones Open? By Lemon Lime Adventures

And finally I visited Teach Preschool, one of my favorite blogs to check out their Pine Needles in a Bottle.  I think that this will make an excellent addition to our sensory bottle collection.  How easy is this?  They literally added pine needs, glitter, and water to an empty water bottle.  That’s it!  But the effect is unreal!  I love how she incorporated different sizes and shapes of water bottles to see how it changed the perspectives.  The curves of the water bottle naturally magnify the pine needles.  So simple, all free materials, this is definitely happening!

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Pine Needle Sensory Bottles from Teach Preschool

I think I found a pretty good round up of science activities.  The best part is that they all include little to no prep time or materials.  These will be excellent follow up activities to a nature walk outside, where we can observe the changes in our environment and gather supplies.
What other science activities do you like to incorporate with your young curious minds?

Easy to make Sensory Foam!

As I continue to explore sensory ideas for the kids, I came across a fluffy looking foam.  Now my Pre-kindergartners are happy as a clam with a “car wash” or baby bath activity.  So I knew that they would love this foam.  It’s even safe and great for younger toddler age friends.

SO here is all I needed…a hand mixer, dish soap, and liquid water colors.  I’m sure that food coloring would work just as well, but if you haven’t seen Liquid Watercolors before, check them out!  I love discount school supplies brand, but I’m sure there are others out there.
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Hand mixer, dish soap, and water colors…so simple!

The fluffier you want your foam, the less water you add.  I added just a little soap to the bottom of the bowl, and added about 3 cups of water and a few drops of water color, and put the mixer on high.
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Lot’s of bubbles!
 Before long the foam starts to thicken up.  This is also a step that you could have the older kids help you with.  Turn it into a science and math project!  Make the measurements, and then predict what will happen to the liquid once you start mixing it together.
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Getting fluffier!
I did a variety of colors, and dumped them into our larger sensory bucket.  The kids loved the rainbow effect!
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Add in different tools and materials for the children to explore a variety of ways
This was ocean week, so I added some sharks and whales, and second bucket with plain water for rinsing.  We used cups, spoons, watering cans, measuring cups, funnels, and all kinds of other exploratory tools.  The kids had a blast!  It can get messy, but that’s ok!  And the best part is, this was totally free!  I had all of the necessary ingredients right in my kitchen.
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Look how foamy and fluffy this looks.  The kids couldn’t wait to get their hands on it!
If you decide to experiment with some sensory fun, let me know what your kids think!

Peakle Pie

Linked to I heart Naptime and creative jewish mom

Mason Jar Salad

Yesterday was the start of an 8 week Fitness/Weight Loss Challenge that I’m hosting.  I got the idea from Six Sisters’ Stuff, and was able to convince 9 other ladies to join me!  That means that all of us get to challenge each other to get healthy and fit, and 2 lucky winners get the bonus of $100 each!  Game on girls!

With that up my sleeve, I’ve been trying to decided how to keep my meals healthy and fresh, and how to get 64 oz of water in my body a day!  That is the hardest part…

Last night I soaked sliced lemon and sliced lime in a water bottle with 32 ounces of water, it was really strong and a little too sour for my liking this morning.  But I kept adding water throughout the day and it kept a nice flavor with the lemon and lime.  Now I just need to figure out how to solve the constant need to run to the bathroom…that water runs right through you!  My fellow teachers are going to start thinking there is something wrong with me!

I still had some mason jars left over from when I made these:

(click on the photo to see the original post)

So I decided to make some portable salads for lunch.  I made 2 different kinds.  The first one I added a couple Tablespoons of Italian Salad Dressing, 1/2 a green bell pepper, about 6 grape tomatoes, lettuce, and chopped up ham from dinner tonight.  (Bonus for getting rid of left overs!)

For the second one I made a simple honey balsamic dressing (honey, EVOO, balsamic vinegar, garlic salt, and powdered mustard) added one clementine (I bet this would be really good with mandarin oranges, but clementines were in my fridge!), chopped strawberries, pecans, and baby spinach.

Salad #1 on the Left, Salad #2 on the Right

Normally I would say just give them a shake and eat, but my jars were a little on the small side, so they are packed pretty tight.  I might have to dump them into a bowl at lunch time.  Overall I’m excited!  And mason jars are great, they are sealed air tight so they should last for the week, and are dishwasher safe, so clean up is super simple.

I can’t wait to give one a try tomorrow.  I’ll be back to update you all as the progress of our challenge continues!

Participating in http://www.thegirlcreative.com

Naturally Flavored Water…YUM!

When surfing around the web the other day, I found a picture that was so delicious looking I wanted to pop right through the screen!  It was a great webpage with recipes for naturally flavored water.  There were so many different options for flavored water.  Check them out!

I couldn’t wait to give the fruit water a try.  I ran out today after work and grabbed all the fruit that I needed.  I ended up adding:
1 handful of mint leaves
1 handful of raspberries
6 large strawberries sliced
1 and 1/2 green apples sliced
1 pear sliced
1 lemon sliced
1 orange slicd

Before slicing the lemon and orange I rolled them on the cutting board with my palm to loosen up some of the juices.  I added all the fruit to a large pitcher, and then poured in about 3/4 of a gallon of water.

Look at all that fruit!
Yum!

I let it sit for the 2 hours suggested time, but then I just couldn’t resist trying it.  It was tasty!  Nice, but subtle, fruit and citrus flavor.  The longer I let it sit, the stronger the flavor became.  This is definitely a recipe I will be saving.  I don’t have to worry about any unnatural or overly sugar packed juices or flavored water.  Fresh produce are sometimes expensive and harder to find in the winter, but I can just picture myself sipping on this refreshing drink on the patio this summer.  Can’t wait!

While dinner sat in the crock pot, Brian still isn’t home 🙁 I decided to whip up some quick table decorations.  I had 3 bags of left over cranberries from the holiday season, so I decided to make candle holders.  I just added some cranberries to a mason jar, filled it up with water, added a small tea light and voila!

Simple, but easy.  Just my style!

Happy New Year everyone!  Horray for my blog making it through year 1!