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Entries in sponsored post (3)


Your Family Can Give "Well" Wishes for Clean, Safe Water to a Community in Need

All I want for Christmas is Clean Water


Turn on the tap, and out it pours. Clean, safe, and the best thing to put into your body.

But did you know...

"Diseases from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war"?

via Charity: Water

The world is in a water crisis. But there are things we can do to help.

Holiday Greetings With Nautica

Starting today, you can upload a photo of your family to the Nautica Facebook Page, include a caption of how your family gives back, and celebrate Nautica's donation of $5,000 to Charity: Water - an organization that brings clean, safe drinking water to needy communities!

Did you know that 100% of public donations to Charity: Water are used for water projects? And, Nautica's donation of $5,000 will bring clean water to an entire village!

Save 30% on Nautica for Your Family Photo

Nautica will choose a few family photos to highlight on the page each day in their Well of Fame on Facebook. You can save 30% on Nautica for your family holiday photo starting today with code: BLOG30 at check out.

Check out the adorable holiday skirts and dresses for girls, or the handy gift buying section.

You can save on using your Nautica photo for your cards over at by using code NAUTICA25 at checkout there.

Savings abound!

WIN $25 Nautica Gift Card right here!

I'm giving away a $25 gift card to one luck person. All you have to do is leave a comment telling me who you'll spend the $25 on!

For an Extra Entry share this URL link ( )

either on Twitter (cc @JanineNickel) or Facebook, or in an email to your get the idea.

Contest open to US residents 18 and over and ends November 18, 2011 at 11:00 pm. Winner will be chosen using from all valid entries.

In Summary: get your Nautica, upload your photo and tell the world you care, enter the giveaway, then check out Charity: Water for more ways to help.


Disclosure: I received a Nautica gift card to purchase clothing for my family photo. All opinions are my own and this post was neither reviewed nor approved prior to being published. Also, I care about the world's water crisis. You should too.


Cooking Matters class part 2: the chef and the food and what matters

If you are new here you might want to read Cooking Matters class part 1

Learning to cook takes a dash of curious mixed with a pinch of bravery


Cooking matters volunteers and groceries

Cooking Matters is a program developed by the folks at Share Our Strength and supported by the wonderful people at ConAgra Foods Foundation that helps those in need learn to shop, and prepare healthier meals while staying on a budget. In this economy, this is something we can all learn to do better and the boot camp and classes I sat in on were chock full of useful advice!

As someone who cooks but does not consider herself "a cook", I often fumble my way through a recipe. Occasionally I have a moment of genius (where I am brave enough to risk an entire meal) where I decide to toss in fresh basil and curry and somehow it works.

But usually I stick to my same-old recipes. 

Now imagine you are someone who lives below the poverty level and you have barely enough money for food. You might not even have a stove! To say cooking would be a challenge is quite an understatement. Yet this is what many people face every day.

Eating is Important but Cooking Matters



The Cooking Matters program not only covers nutritional information, but each lesson involves a real chef leading a cooking lesson using a recipe that participants will repeat later that week at home! In the classes I attended we learned the proper way to cut (an onion, a carrot, kale, chicken, etc), simmer, and even how to keep cutting boards and the work surface sanitized.

We learned about seasoning with onion and garlic and pasta water instead of adding salt.

We learned that you can't keep the oil heating too long or it will start to smoke...and then the smoke alarms will go off and then the building is evacuated and then...well you can imagine.

Most important was the exercise of working together to prepare a meal.

Cooking together with people, as a family, with fresh ingredients really can make a difference in our lives.

Cooking gives us time to chat and get to know one another. It allows us time to appreciate the food we have, the color, the vitamins, and the techniques used to prepare this life sustaining element, so that we can nourish our bodies. This process, this thing called cooking, also seems to nourish our souls.

Cooking, not just opening a package and reheating, matters.

For more information on Cooking Matters and how you can get involved with your local Share Our Strength partner or food bank visit and how to participate.


Disclosure: ConAgra Food Foundation and Share our Strength paid for my trip to Texas and I will receive a stipend for my work helping to tell the story and promote Cooking Matters. As always, all opinions and experiences are my own and this post was neither reviewed nor approved prior to being published.


Cooking Matter class part 1: Learning the Basics

Those of us raised in 'healthy' kitchens often take for granted what we know about food.

How did you learn...

The difference between multigrain and whole grain

How to season with herbs and spices instead of just salt

Or even ways to sneak in some extra fruits and veggies into our diet?

Cooking Matter class

Share Our Strength's program called Cooking Matters is helping low-income families learn the basics of a healthier kitchen.

Back in January I went to a Cooking Matters bootcamp in Texas where I learned about the program but also how people in the program can make better use of the food they receive from area food banks.

Recently I sat in on a few Cooking Matters classes and saw first-hand how the program is changing the way people think about the foods they buy and eat. Many do not know HOW to read a nutrition label correctly. Most are on a very tight budget and unfortunately processed foods are often cheaper, and they are certainly easier to prepare (or so we think) than fresh. Yet ALL of the participants in the classes I went to were eager and excited to learn how to cook healthier foods for themselves and their families!

Nutrition, Discussion, and Demos

Each Cooking Matters class has three parts: nutrition, food and cooking

A volunteer nutrition expert (in our case a graduate student who was an excellent teacher) starts off reviewing what they discussed in the previous class and then discussing the lesson for that week. The lesson can cover things like cooking safety, cooking as a family, nutrition information on fruits, veggies, whole grains and fats, and snack options.

In the classes I sat in on we covered how to read food labels (and not just box covers) so you know you are getting real whole grain in your diet. We discussed the difference between good fat versus bad fat.

You notice in the video that WE means the whole group contributes. We traded snack ideas and ways to combine protein and a fruit or veggie to fill us up. And most importantly we learned WHY we need to eat things that have lots of vitamins, fiber, and whole grains.

I especially liked the demonstrations like...

this is how much fat you'd be eating in a meal that consists of a Whopper with Cheese, Medium Fries, and a Medium Shake

 how much fat in a Burger King meal


on the LEFT is an artery that is clogged....see the blood clot? On the right is a healthy one!


Nothing like lard and a big blood clot to get one's attention!


Disclosure: ConAgra Food Foundation and Share our Strength paid for my trip to Texas and I will receive a stipend for my work helping to tell the story and promote Cooking Matters. As always, all opinions and experiences are my own and this post was neither reviewed nor approved prior to being published.