How Staying at Home to Avoid Spread of Coronavirus Changes Things for the Better

March 26th, 2020

Covid-19 is some horrible stuff. People are dying, or becoming extremely ill. Doctors and nurses are in trouble without the supplies and support they deserve and need. There’s a major disruption of daily life, employment and the economy, but there are some things about self-isolating, or obeying safer-at-home orders from your local mayor that are good.

Eek. Yeah, some things about this pandemic are good.

First, some of us are getting back to better conservation of resources. It’s nearly impossible to find paper towels (and toilet paper) in the stores. For me, it’s been impossible lately. That means I really think twice about what I’m using paper towels to do. I’m making more sustainable choices that will hopefully continue after this disruption is just a memory of 2020.

Second, it’s helping us be more flexible. I’m guilty of sticking with what I know I like, and even going to multiple stores to get those items. But, I’m learning that it’s not that big of a deal to not have my favorite foods, as a long as I have food! I don’t have to be as picky as I was. Healthy, yes, but not picky. I’m finding I can make my shopping routing much more simple than it was before.

Third, we’re driving less. I didn’t have to commute, but my husband did. Now he’s working from home, saving gas, helping to lower pollution, and having more time to enjoy simple things. Maybe some companies will be more flexible in the future about allowing employees to work from home.

Fourth, more time with pets! Yeah, people’s cats are making appearances on video conferences, but that’s great. Everyone is getting to know each other in a whole different way. And dogs, the walks they’re getting! Which brings me to….

Fifth, neighbors are exploring their neighborhoods more. We all take so much care to pick neighborhoods we like when we move, but so few of us actually spend time walking, running, biking, drawing on the sidewalk after we move. Since I’ve been working from home for years, I’ve always enjoyed walks in the middle of the day. Previously, I would just see the same few people out, or no one at all. Now, the streets of my neighborhood are teeming with people enjoying nature.

Sixth, more time with family (those you live with). If you don’t have to drive to work, you get more family time, and earlier dinner! I know that some families are separated right now, avoiding visiting each other, and many people are feeling isolated without social contact. Keep in mind: Social distancing won’t last forever!

Seventh, more hand washing. I’m a germaphobe anyway. I like it when people wash their hands. Let’s keep it up. But here’s hoping I can one day again find hand sanitizer in the store.

And finally, good grief, I finally updated this blog. Stay safe and healthy. And try to keep those good habits after this is over!

One Minute Low Fat Mock Apple Pie

March 25th, 2018

When you have to avoid fat, but still want something sweet, turn to the mock apple pie! Because I detest long introductions to recipes, here you go:

One-Minute Low-Fat Mock Apple Pie Dessert

  1. Pour 4 ounces of unsweetened natural applesauce in a bowl. I like Mott’s.
  2. Mix in a dash of ground cinnamon.
  3. Add a very small dollop of Truwhip Skinny on top (very optional), or make your own whipped cream. I usually just enjoy this without the cream.
  4. Get in your hands on four water crackers (they serve as a “crust”).
  5. Dip the water crackers into the applesauce mixture, and be surprised at how good this low-fat, easy apple pie tastes!

I came up with this treat after learning that I needed to stick to low-fat foods because of gallbladder issues. Those have, I think been resolved by a recent surgery, but I’m going to stick with this healthy, fun dessert.

If you need to know exactly how much fat you’re consuming, please look at the fat content of your applesauce, water crackers and whipped topping (if using). Low-fat dishes contain less than 3 grams of fat per serving. And, of course, you’d be wise to have just one serving.

Five-Second Rule for Dropped Food Debunked by Researchers

September 11th, 2016

Food waste is bad, but if you drop it on the floor, do not eat it anyway.

While we’ve all heard the “five-second rule” repeated as if it’s scientific fact, it may be safer to have a zer0-second rule! Recently, researchers at Rutgers set out to determine if it’s safe to eat dropped food that’s picked up within five seconds.

Photo from flickr internets_dairy

Photo by flickr internets_dairy

It’s Complicated: Surface, Moisture and Time all Matter

If there’s any truth to the five-second rule, it’s that the longer the food is left on the contact surface, the greater the bacteria transfer. However, scientists call the five-second rule a “significant oversimplification” of what occurs when bacteria transfers from a surface to food.

Bacteria Transfer Can Happen in an Instant

Researchers found that while type of surface, moisture and contact time all contribute to contamination of food dropped on surfaces, bacteria can transfer to dropped food “instantaneously.”

Researchers noted that it’s possible for bacteria to begin its transfer to food in less than one second! So, unless you’re some type of superhero, don’t take the chance!

Photo bt flickr Barta IV, Photographer

Photo by flickr Barta IV, Photographer

Where to Find the Research on the Five-Second Rule

Read the published research at Applied and Environmental Microbiology: “Longer Contact Times Increase Cross-Contamination of Enterobacter aerogenes from Surfaces to Food.” Or read the press release: Rutgers Researchers Debunk ‘Five-Second Rule’: Eating Food off the Floor Isn’t Safe.”

Hungry for Food not Dropped on the Floor? Consider a meatless tomato and hummus sandwich. Or feast on creole red bean soup with shrimp.

Blog Action Day 2014: Inequality Creates Suffering

October 16th, 2014

I’m happy to once again take part in Blog Action Day. Light Green Stairs has participated since the beginning in 2007!

The topic this year is especially important. Inequality exists all around us. Frankly, this topic is so important, it’s difficult to be specific in just one blog post. But I’ll try…

Rich and Poor

Oxfam is a key partner for Blog Action Day 2014. According to them, the richest 66 people in the world have as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. (A previous report indicated the richest 85, but that number has since been updated to the richest 66. It’s getting worse!)




What does this mean, and why care?

If you’re poor, you’re more likely to die sooner than a rich person. Part of the reason is lack of access to health care. But another issue is the inability to afford healthy food, or living in a food desert with no access to healthy food. And extreme poverty is very stressful.

What else does inequality mean?

Yeah, I told you it’s difficult to be too specific with this issue! It’s not just about income. Inequality exists on many levels:

-Inequality against women, including violence, attitudes, sexual harassment and getting paid less than men for the same work

-Inequality against the elderly, including just not taking them seriously or placing value on their lives

-Inequality against the disabled, including bullying or not affording the same opportunities as abled-bodies people receive

– Inequality based on race, including police violence against unarmed black teenagers


BAD2014 copy


What can you do about it?

First, take a look at your own beliefs and attitudes. No one is perfect, including me. Ask yourself how you can work to make things better, not just in the United States, but anywhere in the world where there is suffering caused by inequality.

Most importantly, ask yourself how you can help end poverty. Your work could be political, or it may be humanitarian. It could be as simple as volunteering to help someone improve their literacy skills, or donating to a nonprofit that fights poverty.


Stay in touch with the conversation on Blog Action Day, October 16, with these hashtags:  #BAD2014 #Blogaction14, #Inequality, #Oct16

Is no nut butter safe? Arrowhead and MaraNatha Recall.

August 20th, 2014

Peanut butter just doesn’t have a good track record for safety. If you think that sticking with a natural brand keeps you safe, maybe not! The FDA has a full list of recalled nut butters from nSpired Natural Foods.


Who’s on the list of recalled peanut butters and almond butters?

  • Arrowhead Mills Peanut Butter
  • MaraNatha Almond Butter
  • MaraNatha Peanut Butter
  • Store brands from Kroger, Whole Foods, Safeway and Trader Joe’s

Check your refrigerator and pantry for the recalled nut butters and throw them away, container and all. For a refund, call 1-800-937-7008, but you may be lucky to get through.

I had one of the recalled MaraNatha Almond Butter products in my refrigerator and couldn’t get through after calling several of the phone numbers listed, so I sent a message to MaraNatha via their contact page.

Did the recalled almond butter make me sick? I’m not sure. Maybe. Maybe not. I had a mysterious and very unpleasant vomiting episode a few weeks ago around the time I ate some of the almond butter, but I didn’t go to the doctor. I was the only one who ate some of it, and I haven’t eaten any of it lately, thankfully! I just didn’t make the connect.

Many cases of food poisoning go unreported. Right now, it’s suspected that four illnesses are linked to these recalled products.

I think I’m going to stick with just eating the nuts from now on, or make my own nut butter. How about you?

Siggi’s! Finally, yogurt without so much sugar.

June 26th, 2014

When I’ve attempted to shop for yogurt, it has usually ended with me putting everything back and walking away frustrated.

Why? Why? Why?

do you yogurt makers of America have to put so much

sugar in your yogurt?

And also, triple-why, do you have to put so many artificial ingredients in there too?

Isn’t it supposed to be healthy? Ah, that’s what makes me most angry of all: Thinking about the consumers who put sugary, artificial something or other in their shopping carts thinking they’re doing something good.


Well, the people at Siggi’s decided to make a good yogurt. One of the few good ones around, no doubt. Pardon my photos of Siggi’s Vanilla yogurt. I just can’t photography white things.

I like….

vanilla-yogurtthat this Icelandic-style yogurt tastes good.

that it has simple ingredients (pasteurized skim milk, organic agave nectar, Madagascar bourbon vanilla, live active cultures).

that it doesn’t have artificial sweeteners or growth hormones.

that it has a tab you can pull it make it easy to remove the paper wrapper to recycle separately from the plastic tub.

that it doesn’t taste like it’s non-fat yogurt.

that a 5.3-ounce container has only 100 calories and 9 grams of sugar.

What do you like about Siggi’s yogurt?

Don’t Go Back to Twinkies. Make Healthy Desserts Instead.

July 14th, 2013

So, Twinkies are back. Starting today at Wal-Mart and Monday at other stores. Well, some Kroger stores have them today. Not that I want you to buy them.

I find it a bit odd that the Hostess website doesn’t contain the nutrition information. Sure, you can get that on the box, but this is the age of the Internet. Hostess does, however, offer on their contact page a hotline and an email address for obtaining nutrition information. I’d suggest you read the box or call the hotline before resuming your love affair with Twinkies, or other Hostess treats like fried pies and cupcakes, which are all rising from their graves.


Healthy Fudge Brownies photo by chocolate-covered KATIE

Healthy Fudge Brownies photo by chocolate-covered KATIE


I love snacks and sweets, but if I’m going to consume sugar and carbs, I like to make it count. And I want healthful ingredients too. Here’s an example. I recently baked my own from-scratch whole wheat chocolate chip cookies, and it was easier than going to the store to buy Twinkies! By the way, whole wheat cookies are much better than they sound. I used the recipe on the back of my bag of whole wheat flour, but there are tons of recipes out there. Just hit Google. It’s difficult to go wrong.

I’m also looking forward to trying other healthier alternatives to packaged or traditionally prepared baked goods, such as chocolate-covered KATIE’s Healthy Fudge Brownies. Katie also offers her recipe for homemade Twinkies!

Do you bake your own desserts?


Patriotic Parfaits for Fourth of July

June 11th, 2013


Be good to your party guests on diets, and serve them a tasty patriotic yogurt parfait.

No food coloring or added sugar required. After all, blueberries and strawberries are naturals for July 4, but not everyone wants to eat them on top of a flag cake!


Shop for fresh berries at your local farmer's market.

Shop for fresh berries at your local farmer’s market. Image by Rhett Maxwell.


Patriotic Parfaits


  • Vanilla or plain nonfat yogurt
  • Granola
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries

Make your healthy patriotic parfait by layering the ingredients in a clear glass. Juice cups are perfect for this.

For example, start with granola, and then add yogurt, blueberries, more yogurt, strawberries, and finish with a sprinkle of granola on top. If you’re feeling naughty, substitute white chocolate chips for the granola!


Brew Your Own Green Tea

May 23rd, 2013

Would you like some lead with that?

Eek. We’ll get to the leaded truth in a minute, but first, let me explain where all this is coming from.

Independent testing site recently tested bottled green teas and some loose green tea leaves, as well as green tea bags.

And guess what?

The some bottled green teas are pretty much just sugar water with few antioxidants, says The New York Times in their article on the findings from

Snapple Green Tea and Honest Tea’s Green Tea with Honey didn’t do so well in the antioxidant department. Learn more about the test results at The New York Times.




Also, while green tea in bags from Lipton and Bigelow contained a good number of antioxidants, the tea leaves also contained lead! The lead in the tea leaves may be the result of industrial pollution in China, reports The New York Times in their interview with Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of

While most of the lead stays in the leaves instead of your cup, it would be a very bad idea indeed to eat the tea leaves contained in those bags! According to the testing, the Lipton and Bigelow green tea bags offer up 1.25 to 2.5 micrograms of lead per serving. Is that worth the savings over buying loose green tea from a source like Teavana?

Teavana’s Leaves are Lead Free

The better option, according to the testing, is to go with Teavana’s loose green tea. Those tea leaves come from Japan, and testers found no measurable lead in them. What they did find was many antioxidants — you know those healthy things that are supposed to be in the bottled green tea!

Plus, who needs all those bottles anyhow?

(image via flickr Charles Williams)

Does your dog love alpaca dryer balls?

February 28th, 2013

My two wool dryer balls were feeling lonely, so they received some new friends: Alpaca dryer balls! These came from a local farmer’s market.

Overall, I haven’t loved the alpaca dryer balls compared to the wool dryer balls. The alpaca balls seem to unravel more quickly, and they leave alpaca fuzz on clothing. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, or maybe the lady who made them messed up, or perhaps the alpacas were just having a down day.


One thing I’ve noticed is that my dog not only loves alpaca dryer balls, but she has an elaborately crafty way of stealing them. In fact, it’s so crafty, I don’t really know how she’s doing it.


I know that cats are quiet, but how is it that my 60-pound dog is taking these balls out of the dryer without me noticing it?

Maybe balls are getting caught in clothing and falling to the floor without me noticing. I only leave the door open while I’m removing clothing, and I store the balls in the dryer. Sigh. It’s just one of those things. I open the dryer door, she comes running. I block her. I open the freezer door, she comes running (hoping to grab some ice). I block her. Yeah, working on her training.

So, how does it taste, doggie?

Anyhow, this photo depicts the aftermath. Poor deceased alpaca dryer ball. Usually, I take the stolen balls away in time. Oh, and my dog actually eats alpaca fuzz, hair, or whatever the correct name for it. She eats it. Weird dog.

Questions for you:

Does your dog steal dryer balls? Do you like wool or alpaca dryer balls better?