Raw Tuscan Kale Salad Recipe

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Raw Tuscan Kale Salad
Raw Tuscan Kale Salad

Yes, kale is trendy nowadays, but you don’t have to be a hipster to enjoy this simple dish. It is actually a very versatile dish; how it’s made depends on where you order it. Or, if you’re like me and make it at home, you can add or subtract ingredients. The two constants you will find across the board are kale (of course) and a high-quality extra virgin olive oil. The recipe presented here is the one we had last night.

Kale Salad Ingredient List

  • 5 oz. package of organic kale
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Himalayan pink salt (to taste)
  • Juice of one large lemon
  • Diced garlic (to taste)
  • Parmesan cheese (to taste; I used about 3/8 cup)
  • Pine nuts (to taste; I used 1/4 cup)
  • Golden raisins (to taste; I used 3/8 cup)

Preparation

Easy peasy. Starting with the first ingredient listed, add the others in one by one. Toss the salad after each addition. This makes mixing easier and helps with experimenting with the “to taste” ingredients. There’s really no wrong way to do this. If you find you’ve gone overboard on something you can always add more kale.

Some additional ingredients that I would like to make (but will likely be vetoed by She Who Must be Obeyed are, in no particular order, crumbled bacon, feta cheese, anchovies, hard-boiled eggs, jalapeno peppers, etc. Not all at the same time, of course; use your imagination.

Other Recipes to Try

I hope you try and enjoy this raw Tuscan kale salad recipe. If so, please pass the link on to your friends and social media. We’re all in this together!


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About the author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.


10 Most popular Diets


Healthy food for weight loss
Healthy food for weight loss

It’s interesting to note that out of all book genres, cook books and diet books rank so high. It seems contradictory, doesn’t it? Yet it makes sense that people want to eat well and stay in shape and be healthy all at the same time. Fair enough.

Most diets are associated with weight loss but some are more lifestyle, part of a religious faith, or as part of a periodical detox program. Let’s look at 10 of the most popular diets (as of this writing; fad diets pop up all the time).

  1. Atkins Diet. This is one of the big ones. In fact, it was the number one diet of 2017. Oddly, when it was first developed it wasn’t even meant to be a weight loss program; it was designed to benefit folks with cardiovascular risk. This diet relies on restricting carbs. The result is controlled insulin levels so that fat is burned for energy rather than carbs.
  2. Gluten Free. Gluten is a naturally-occurring protein in grain plants such as wheat. Anyone who bakes homemade bread for example knows that gluten is the “glue” that holds bread together. Unfortunately, many people are sensitive to it. Many others adhere to this diet because they just believe it to be healthier. It can result in weight loss because, like Atkins, it restricts some carbs. It can be expensive though.
  3. Ketogenic. This is another one that was developed for other purposes. For example, it has been used for decades as a treatment for epilepsy. It’s basically the same at Atkins in that it reduces carbohydrate intake (less than 10% of daily calories) and raising fat intake. Many researchers are looking at using this diet for  diabetes management and general metabolic health.
  4. Whole 30 Diet. This program relies on abstaining from most processed foods (there is a list of permitted items) along with grains, dairy, alcohol, legumes and sweeteners for 30 days. It has been described as a “nutritional reset program that emphasizes whole foods.” Meat, eggs, fruit, and vegetables are allowed as part of the diet. Dairy products, grains, legumes, alcohol, and sugar are not allowed.
  5. Vegetarian Diet. This diet comes in many flavors: living food diet, vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, fruitarian vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, and semi-vegetarian just to name more than a few. Studies have demonstrated that vegetarians suffer less from diseases, enjoy a lower body weight,  and may have a longer life expectancy than people who eat meat.
  6. Vegan Diet. Veganism is considered more of a way of life and a philosophical outlook than a diet per se. Vegans will not consume anything that is animal-based. This includes eggs, dairy, and honey. Vegans don’t always get into veganism simply for health reasons, but in addition for environmental, ethical, and compassionate reasons.
  7. Mediterranean Diet. This diet has been around for quite a while and as might be guessed it is modeled after, well, the Mediterranean style of eating. In a nutshell, the fare is high in monounsaturated fats from nuts and oils, vegetables, whole grains, and seafood. It also includes token amounts of fruit, dairy, eggs, and a bit of red meat every now and then. It is thought by many to be one of the most beneficially ways to eat for overall health, especially for the cardiovascular system.
  8. The Raw Food Diet. Sometimes referred to as raw foodism, it is defined by consuming food and drink that has not been processed. This diet is completely plant-based, and organic whenever possible. The four basic categories of raw foodists are raw vegetarians, raw vegans, raw omnivores, and raw carnivores. This last one scares me.
  9. The DASH diet. This diet was was developed with the idea of lowering high blood pressure. Its hallmark is consumption of a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. In addition, it is important to avoid saturated fat, sugary beverages, sweets, full-fat dairy, and some oils, and as might be guessed, less salt overall.
  10. The Volumetrics Diet. This one puts the focus on the energy density in various foods. This is the number of calories in a certain amount of food. Foods that rate a high-energy density have lots of calories per a little amount of food, and low-energy density foods have fewer calories for more food.

There’s certainly a lot of options to choose from which is a good thing. Certain lifestyles are palatable to one person and not to another. In many cases it is possible to mix and match. The important thing when taking on one of these popular diets is dedication.

 


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Liver Detox – Fact or Fiction?


Phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification
Phase 1 and 2 liver detoxification

Liver detoxification, or liver cleanse as it is sometimes called, has become a huge industry worth billions of dollars each year. And why not? When something appeals to both the health-focused folks and hipsters, you have a winning combination. But how much of the hype is fact and how much is fiction?

Liver Detox Myths

The liver is the body’s primary filtration system and it’s job is to convert toxins into waste products as well as cleansing the blood and metabolizing nutrients and medications to make available to the body some of its most important proteins.

To get a good idea about which claims have a real basis and which are anecdotal, it pays dividends to put aside the infomercials and spam emails and look at the research.

John Hopkins Medicine has identified several myths that have been widely circulated.

  • Liver cleanses are a cure-all for daily liver health and overindulgence. Not true. They explain, “these products are not regulated by the FDA, and thus are not uniform and have not been adequately tested in clinical trials.”
  • Cleanses are effective for weight loss. Again, no clinical evidence has upheld this claim and logically, it is difficult to see any connection. For real weight loss, look to eating properly and taking up an aerobic exercise program such as running.
  • Liver detox will prevent liver disease. No, but there are proven things you can do to this end. These include avoiding drug use and unprotected sex, abstaining from alcohol in excess, and avoiding weight gain. Better still, make it a priority lo lose weight.
  • Detoxification can repair existing liver damage. This in itself is not a cure-all however there are several things that will help. Lose weight. Eat healthy. Stop or minimize alcohol consumption.
  • Obesity does not increase your risk of liver disease. False! Part of the liver’s function is to eliminate toxins but being overloaded with fat can can cause inflammation, which may lead to the development of fibrosis and cirrhosis.

Alternatives to Commercial Liver Detox Concoctions

Many commercial cleanses are nothing but expensive snake oil or combined supplements. They are not regulated by the FDA and the ingredients are not typically vetted by an independent laboratory.

There are more frugal approaches that will aid liver function. For example, vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene are powerful antioxidants. B-vitamins assist in alcohol metabolism.  There is some evidence that milk thistle, dandelion root, and schizandra help protect liver cells while ridding the body of poisons.

So is a commercial liver detox product worth the money? Each person has to become informed make that decision.


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Best Way to Install a Misaligned Sink Drain During Remodeling


Snappy Trap sink drain
Snappy Trap sink drain

During new construction installing sink drains is easy-everything is configured to work together. During a kitchen or bathroom remodeling project it can be a completely different story. You can bet that things will not line up using new components.

Case in point: in the course of re-building in the aftermath of the flood due to Hurricane Harvey we’ve got new cabinets and sinks.  I needed to match up with the existing wall drainpipe. It came as no surprise that the hook-up was not the straight shot that the original was. I needed a solution.

A Flexible Solution for Connecting Drain Lines

After looking at a number of solutions I settled on the Snappy Trap. It seemed like the easiest to install and the price was right. It comes in several configurations-single sink, double-sink, etc.

In my case I used two single-sink kits since I have two drainpipe p-traps that converge into one drain. Of course, in a situation with a double-sink and one  drainpipe, the Snappy Trap 1 1/2″ all-in-one-drain kit for double bowl kitchen sinks will give the best results.

In any case, one of the important benefits over other systems is that with this product the flexible tube has a smooth interior. This prevents build-up and excessive odor.

The System is Dishwasher-Friendly

The elbow that connects to the sink strainer tailpipe has a dishwasher drain connection nipple that points up at an angle so that there will not be any back flow up into the sink (see the picture below).

Snappy Trap sink drain with dishwasher connector
Snappy Trap sink drain with dishwasher connector

This is a convenient option but if you don’t plan on connecting a dishwasher, simply leave the cap on and you’re good to go.

Installing a misaligned sink drain during remodeling without hiring an expensive plumber is a thing of the past. If you’ve got some basic tools and some DIY common sense, dive right in. The hardest part is crawling in the cabinet.

 


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Vladimir Putin – the Man, the Myth


Putin Rides a Bear
Putin Rides a Bear

He cuts a dashing figure, doesn’t he? But other than the public persona he has crafted for public consumption over the years, who is Vladimir Putin? He was born in 1952 in St. Petersburg (then known as Leningrad).

He attended Leningrad State University, later beginning his career in the KGB as an intelligence officer in 1975 and rose to rank of Colonel.

Vladimir Putin After the KGB Years

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, he left the KGB but Putin proved to have higher ambitions. He rose to the upper ranks of the Russian government, first  joining President Boris Yeltsin’s administration in 1998.

His next rung on the ladder was becoming prime minister in 1999 and later taking over as president. Putin was appointed again to Russian prime minister in 2008. In a volatile and often cutthroat political environment he retained his grasp on power by earning reelection to the presidency in 2012.

His training in the KGB, his ambition, and his wily personality served him well.

Putin Cultivates His Public Image

He holds very high popularity ratings among the Russian people. As of this writing, his approval ratings are consistently over 80 percent, this according to various state and independent polls. So how does he do this when leaders like President Obama never could?

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the return to Russia, the country had lost some of its its status as a superpower. The citizenry understandably felt this and resented it. They needed a hero; this was not something vodka would solve. This was Putin’s hour.

He would prove to have a keen understanding of self-promotion. He has especially embraced photo-ops for public consumption. His goal? To be shown as a Man-of-Action.

Putin poses as a race car driver
Putin poses as a race car driver

Whether he’s driving a race car, performing martial arts (he is always shown body-slamming someone), scuba-diving, hanging out with a biker gang, or romping through the fields showing off his manly bare chest, he’s projecting that image.

Look at me; I am strong, I am victorious, I am Russia. It’s all very psychological and the population eats it up. It’s all a vicarious relationship-he gives them a sort of national pride and they give him the votes. And it shows in the polls.

Vladimir Putin on the World Stage

The Soviet Union controlled vastly more real estate than the present-day Russia does. Most analysts believe that Putin would like to re-establish much of that territory. In a 2005 speech, Putin famously stated that “the breakup of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.” His military forays into these territories have been labeled by many as “expansionism.”

Understandably, neighboring countries that used to be part of the Soviet block and nervous about retaining their national soverignty.


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How to Select a Roofing Contractor


A new roof with a dormer
A new roof with a dormer

It’s simple. If you have a home you have a roof. Just as a residential fence protects your yard, your roof protects the interior of your home. Even renters need a roof although your landlord is generally liable for repairs like roofing and siding. But if you need to select a roofing contractor here are the things you need to know since a new roof is a rather large investment.

First, Decide on What Kind of Roofing Material You Want

You basically first have to choose between a metal or shingle roof. This is important because some contractors do it all but some simply focus on one kind of material. You don’t want a contractor to “practice” or “train new hires” on your dime.

Metal roofs will cost you more but they last longer and are very fire resistant. Consider this if your home is in the vicinity of fires spread by the Santa Ana winds.

Questions to Ask Potential Roofing Contractors

You can create a short list by going to a service like Angie’s List or Networx. You can also ask neighbors who have recently had roof service. After you have a short list it’s time to ask some questions.

  • Do you use nails or staples? Nails are far superior in windy conditions.
  • Have you ever had to deal with a mechanics lien? If so, it generally means he hadn’t paid his workers in a timely manner. Not a good thing.
  • Are you bonded? Do you carry Workers compensation and contractor’s liability insurance? The answer should be a resounding “yes.”
  • Are you willing to sign a binding contract? Life happens to all of us but nothing is worse than a roofing contractor pulling off the job halfway through to deal with something else.
  • How is your record with the BBB.

These are just some things you need to ask before signing on the dotted line. Protect yourself and your pocketbook.


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Puzzled by Your Home Electrical Issues?



A properly-labeled circuit breaker panel
A properly-labeled circuit breaker panel

Almost everything we do in our homes and work-spaces involve electricity. From refrigerators to night-lights, electricity is involved at the most local level. Today, most of us take it for granted since it has always been there.

But it hasn’t always been there, which for most of us is a difficult concept to grasp. A political hot-potato has always been how power is generated. Coal, gas, solar energy, or nuclear? It is hard to get a consensus.

One of the only constants is the bleating from the NIMBY states (Not In My Back Yard). California comes to mind–send us our power but don’t make it here; it;s not “clean”. Hypocrites.

So, with all that in consideration, here are a few of my musings on the subject of power, power, power.

Electricity is Delivered Through Conduits

It doesn’t just show up like an expected relative. No, it enters your home through the main line into your circuit breaker box. From there it is routed where it needs to go depending on where it was designed to go.

Whenever you move into a home it is advisable to always map your electrical circuits before trouble transpires. When an issue arises you will need to know where things start and where they go, so to speak.

Depending on the age of your residence, your local electrical code, and the type of devices you install, the means of delivering that electrical power may vary.

How to Save Money on Your Power Bill

One of the big problems concerned with your home electricity is that the cost tends to be in flux. Unless you are a big fan of studying natural gas and coal futures it is hard to predict when the price will rise. The  best thing you can do is maximize your home’s energy efficiency in advance. Here are a few money saving tips to consider.

  • Keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape. Having it tuned up twice a year, when the seasons are changing is one way. Calibrate your thermostat; it might not be accurate. Change out your return air filter once a month or as recommended.
  • Consider your old tank water heater with a tankless water heater. There will be some up front costs but you will save money in the long run. Why pay too keep water heated in a tank when you are not using it?
  • Install blown insulation in exterior walls. This generally applies to older homes when insulation was not as big a home construction factor as it is today.
  • Install a radiant barrier in your attic. This is an excellent way to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Install ceiling fans. This is a great way to keep the conditioned air where you need it when you need it. It is easy to install ceiling fans and they are inexpensive. Just remember to have the air blowing down in the summer and up in the winter.
  • Check your doors and windows for leaks. This should be done at least annually and some caulk and door sealing strips is generally all you need.

Hopefully this article helped you to understand your home electrical issues and save some money on your utility bills. Got more tips to share? List them in the comment section below.


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What You Need to Know About the Supreme Court


Supreme Court 2018
Supreme Court 2018

Judge Anthony McLeod Kennedy, appointed by President Ronald Reagan has announced his retirement from the Supreme Court which frees President Trump to appoint his successor.

The Supreme Court is a unique institution in all the world. If you live in this country (USA) this post will explain what you need to know about the Supreme Court, or as it is sometimes called, SCOTUS, (Suprememe Court of the United States.

Supreme Court Justice is a Lifetime Gig

Once seated, a supreme court justice can hang up his or her resume. There is no expiration term on this job unlike regular judges who must pander for your votes at each election cycle. The president appoints SCOTUS justices according to his or her political persuasion. For this reason some have argued that the ability to appoint supreme court justices is one of the most powerful tools that sitting presidents have. Presidential terms in office are fleeting but their policies embedded in their SCOTUS selection endure far beyond their years.

This is the reason why President Obama’s appointment of Sonia Maria Sotomayor was so disturbing to constitutionally-opinionated Americans and even foreign-born critics.  She indicated that she intended to pass rulings based on her personal sentiments (empathy, she said) rather than on the basics of the constitution which she is bound by oath to comply with and defend.

An unabashed left-wing liberal radical, she also ruled against the Stolen Valor Act which prevents individuals from portraying themselves as armed forces heroes for false personal gain. This (from my perspective as a veteran) is a poor choice for this high office. Shame.

So there’s that.

History Behind the Supreme Court

The Constitution permitted Congress to decide on the make-up of the Supreme Court. The legislative branch first exercised this power with the Judiciary Act of 1789. The act, signed into law by President George Washington, specified that the court would be made up of six justices who would serve on the court until they died or retired.

Today there are nine sitting justices and together they hold more power than arguably anyone on the planet.  They serve and issue edicts until they retire or die.

Anthony Kennedy Retires

Notably, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy just announced his retirement setting the stage for President Trump to appoint a successor.

Why does this matter? Whoever Trump places on the bench will wield power for years, even decades, long after the presidential torch has passed. This is why the power of the president can last far longer than his term. It doesn’t always work out that way and there is no denial that some justices are flawed.

For example when Justice Roberts “interpreted” Obamacare non-compliance to be a “tax” rather than a “fine” he usurped Congressional authority. Specifically, the Supreme Court has no such authority but they have “assumed” it over time. Like, if I jaywalk enough times without getting busted, it becomes legal. Bullcrap, but there you go.

The Supreme Court Justice Nomination Process

There are nine Supreme Court justices. One is designated as the Chief Justice and the other eight are Associate Justices. When any one justice dies or retires it makes for a vacancy. Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution makes it clear that the president has the responsibility of nominating a replacement.

The reason for using nine, an odd number, is so when SCOTUS hears a case and rules on it there will not be a tie.

Next the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing to approve the nomination, or not. Following a lengthy question and answer, the committee votes on the prospective justice. If approved, all is good. If not, the process begins anew.

However, there is a fly in the ointment. Republicans usually appoint conservative judges and Democrats, liberal ones. It is very possible that one party will unanimously oppose. In fact, it is not inconceivable that outright chicanery will take place.

The Nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh

The current nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a good example. After other Democrat stalling techniques had failed, they brought Christine Blasey Ford out of the wings to accuse him of sexual misconduct (he allegedly unsuccessfully tried to force himself on her) some thirty five years ago at a high school party.

One problem is that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee had received a letter from Ford regarding the alleged misconduct. But rather than share the letter with the committee as one might expect would be part of the process, she deliberately withheld it, perhaps to use as ammunition when all other delaying tactics had failed.

Will his nomination be approved? Who knows, but his case is just one example of how the system can break down when shady tactics are employed by elected officials.


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Democrat Activists Have Become Nazis



Maxine Waters waving the flag
Maxine Waters waving the flag

Do you find this hard to swallow, that the Democrats have become the new Nazis? Well, it’s true. Just the Red Hen restaurant refusing to serve Sarah Sanders is the tip of the leftist bigot iceberg. Not content with just refusing service, the owner “organized a mob and followed her family to their next restaurant where they yelled and screamed at them,” according to CNSNEWS.

How is this not like the Nazi treatment of the Jews? How is this not like the way the Blacks were treated in the Old South? Should we expect another home-grown Kristallnacht against conservatives?

This is how bigot Maxine Waters puts it, “For these members of his [Trump] Cabinet who remain and try to defend him they’re not going to be able to go to a restaurant, they’re not going to be able to stop at a gas station, they’re not going to be able to shop at a department store, the people are going to turn on them, they’re going to protest, they’re going to absolutely harass them until they decide that they’re going to tell the president ‘no I can’t hang with you, this is wrong this is unconscionable and we can’t keep doing this to children.'”

This is not what America is. Perhaps in California but not in fly-over country. But for some odd reason many Americans are A-OK with the mob mentality that Waters and other liberals advocate. It’s fine to persecute your adversaries as long as they are not in your voter base.

But keep in mind that this witch lives in a multi-million dollar mansion with armed (yes, that means guns) guards and she is not offering to host any of these illegals in her home. Because she’s above all the riff-raff. Go figure.


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5 Ways to Refresh Your Walls on a Budget


Colorful walls & energy efficient windows
Colorful walls & energy efficient windows

Face it; contractor-built walls are just plain boring. There’s a reason for that. Actually, there are a couple of reasons. First, it is frugal to blast cheap texture through a hopper for a conventional orange peel texture. Secondly, that blah flat white paint? It is uninspiring but also frugal and allows for new homeowners to upgrade easily to a more attractive color and sheen.

Let’s take a look at some of the options we have for refreshing those tired, boring walls.

  1. Upgrade Your Texture

Contractor-applied texture is great for hiding drywall joints that were not properly finished but it is just a bit boring. Upgrading your wall texture is easy. I like to use a specialty roller like the one pictured below with watered down drywall compound (mud).

Use a drill and a ribbon mixer to thin the mud. It should easily drip off the mixer when the proper consistency is reached.

A texture roller
A texture roller

You can also used a regular paint roller with the nap of your choice for a less pronounced effect.

2  Paint Your Walls to Make Your Room Appear Larger

Not all homes are as large as we want them to be. Older homes can be notoriously small, especially stairways and halls; not a good thing for the claustrophobic among us. But rest assured that there are ways to open up that space.

Lighter color paint, especially in brighter sheens like eggshell and gloss create the illusion of more space. Wallpaper with vertical patterns give the illusion of more height.

3  Paint Over Old Paneling

Dark paneling may have been quite the thing in the 50s and 60s but today it looks old and dated. Removing it can be messy especially if adhesive was used. Luckily, it is easy enough to paint over wood paneling.

If it has vertical grooves, you will need to skim those with drywall compound and lightly sand the surface before texturing and painting.

4  Install Crown Molding

Polyurethane crown molding
Polyurethane crown molding

Installing crown molding will give even the drabbest rooms a touch of class. You’re not limited to wood either. Today you can find it in polyurethane and PVC which makes it easy to work with.

Fancy door trim styles
Fancy door trim styles

5  Install New Door and Window Trim

Contractor-grade door and window trim is just boring. In just a few hours you can remove it and replace it with trim that will give your walls a shot of style and class.

Kits are available at stores like Home Depot. All you will need is:

  • Tape measure
  • Miter saw or radial arm saw
  • Stool or ladder
  • Finish nail gun or hammer and nails
  • Nailset
  • Spackling
  • Paint and brush
  • Painter’s tape

I hope the above tips on refreshing your walls on a budget proved inspirational and informative. Got any tips of your own? Share them with our readers in the comment box below.


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