6 Natural Ways To Alleviate Symptoms of Menopause

For most women, menopause will begin in their late 40s or early 50s, lasting for a few years. While not all women will experience severe menopausal symptoms, nearly two-thirds will. The symptoms include:

  • Irritability 

  • Mood swings 

  • Night sweats 

  • Tiredness 

  • Hot flashes 

If that wasn’t enough, menopausal women have an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Because of the increased risks and predictable symptoms, most women look for relief from their doctors. However, not all women want to turn to prescriptions or OTC medicines to help combat symptoms. Thankfully, there are several natural ways to reduce the severity of menopause.

1. Diet and Weight Management 

Menopause leads to several hormonal changes that can weaken bones, meaning calcium and vitamin D are crucial nutrients during menopausal years. While there are many sources of both essential nutrients, some of the most beneficial are: 

  • Natural sunlight  

  • Leafy greens (Kale, spinach, collard greens) 

  • Calcium-fortified foods 

  • Oily fish 

  • Eggs 

  • Cod liver oil 

While menopause commonly leads to weight gain because of hormonal changes, genetics, aging, and lifestyle choices, excess body fat around the waist increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Aside from reducing severe health risks, women who lose at least 10% of their body weight can eliminate uncomfortable menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats.

2. Exercise 

Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. While it might not have any effect on hot flashes, several studies suggest the positive impact of consistent workouts, including: 

  • Improved energy 

  • Better sleep 

  • Decreased stress 

  • Healthier joints 

  • Improved metabolism 

  • Reduced risks of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, anxiety

3. Hydration

A common side effect of menopause is dryness and dehydration; the assumed cause is decreasing estrogen levels. Menopausal women should consume at least eight to 12 glasses of water per day to reduce the likelihood of dehydration, dryness, and bloating.  

Drinking enough water can also help with weight management and loss. When you drink enough water, you are more likely to feel fuller longer. Additionally, water can increase your metabolism.

4. Trigger Foods

Some women might be surprised to learn that certain foods can trigger adverse menopausal side effects, such as mood swings, night sweats, and hot flashes. While there are several common triggers, including alcohol, caffeine, spicy and sugary foods, every woman is different. 

It would be best if you kept a symptom diary to track your trigger foods. Write down everything you eat and how you feel after the meal. You want to keep track for several weeks to determine likely food triggers.

5. Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, meaning foods rich in these compounds can help balance hormones during menopause. Women in many Asian countries consume diets rich in phytoestrogens, and many experts credit that to why women in such countries rarely experience hot flashes. 

The phytoestrogen content can vary by food and processing method. Some of the foods with the highest phytoestrogen content include: 

  • Soybeans 

  • Soy products 

  • Tofu 

  • Flaxseeds 

  • Tempeh 

  • Linseeds 

  • Beans 

  • Sesame seeds 

6. Supplements

While the evidence is limited, many women stand by the use of natural supplements for treating menopausal symptoms. Some of the most popular supplements include: 

  • Black cohosh 

  • Phytoestrogens 

  • Probiotics 

  • Prebiotics 

  • DHEA-S 

  • Kava 

  • Dong Quai 

  • Evening primrose oil 

Menopause is a natural part of life, but its symptoms can be challenging. By making a few lifestyle and dietary changes, you can curb the severity of symptoms. However, you should always consult your doctor before making any drastic life choices. 

How do you cope with the symptoms of menopause? Leave a comment.

6 Techniques To Get Rid of Brain Fog And Stay Calm All Day

clear fog

There are lots of things you can do to enjoy a serene and positive morning. Try these six calming techniques to improve your mental focus, boost your energy levels and make each morning a lot brighter.

Perform Gentle Stretches

Stretching is a great way to alleviate tense muscles. Interestingly, exercise also helps you get rid of stress. Here’s how to do a simple shoulder stretch using a chair:

  1. Move forward to the edge of the chair (but make sure you still have stability).
  2. Place your arms behind you and lock your fingers around the back of the chair.
  3. Lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch.
  4. Hold this position for 15–30 seconds, or whatever is comfortable.

As you activate your muscles, it purges excess stress hormones and releases calming endorphins instead. These natural painkillers even improve your flexibility and reduce inflammation.

Play Relaxing Music

Slow, gentle music has tremendous power to release anxiety naturally. A soft piano melody or beauty acoustic guitar arrangement can evoke positive emotions and make you think of a gorgeous meadow with flowers. This has a physical effect on your stress hormones, releasing a neurochemical called dopamine that gives you a sensation of happiness and euphoria.

Try Easy Aromatherapy

You don’t have to visit a spa to enjoy the soothing power of scents. Aromatherapy can be as easy as placing fresh flowers on your bedside table. Candles and oil diffusers are also popular. Choose a scent that brings to mind positive memories. For some people, lavender, basil and eucalyptus have this effect. Smelling a fresh lemon can help lower your stress, too.

Do a Few Deep Breathing Exercises

Shallow breathing makes your brain think you’re not getting enough oxygen. This triggers a stress response that speeds up your heart rate. The solution? Take a moment each morning to breathe deeply. Here’s how:

  1. Lie on your back in a comfortable position or sit in a chair with your neck resting against the back of the chair.
  2. Close your lips and inhale deeply through your nostrils.
  3. Some people find it relaxing to place their hands on their chest or belly. It depends on your personal preferences.
  4. As you breathe deeply, you should feel the lower part of your chest expand as it fills with air.
  5. Slowly exhale from your mouth, blowing gently outwards.

Filling your lungs with oxygen in this way can naturally start to slow your pulse and make you feel more relaxed. It’s as if you’re letting go of stress with each breath.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Certain foods give your brain a nutrient boost. If you’re feeling brain fog frequently, you may be missing essential vitamins. Now’s the perfect time to fall in love with avocado toast for breakfast. Avocados are packed with healthy fats, antioxidants and potassium for increasing mental performance. Walnuts and blueberries are also stellar choices.

Focus on Happy Memories

The emotions you feel are usually directly related to what you think about. If you wake up in the morning with anxiety, try not to dwell on worries. Of course, to get rid of these negative feelings, you need to replace them with something positive. A happy memory with loved ones is the perfect choice.

Before you know it, you’ve forgotten about stress and you’re ready to start the day on with a smile on your face. Some people enjoy reading a favorite book or inspirational quotes in the morning for the same reason.

3 Holistic Remedies for Arthritis

If you have arthritis, you’re not alone. Almost 25% of adults in America have arthritis according to the CDC. That’s over 54 million people! While medication may be one method for easing the pain of arthritis, taking an approach that focuses on the entire person can bring relief as well. Here are three holistic ways to deal with joint inflammation and the overall discomfort of arthritis.

Eat Well

There are two types of arthritis:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease where the body essentially attacks its own joints

  • Osteoarthritis, which is the natural wearing-away of a joint’s cartilage

Studies have found that eating a diet full of fruits, veggies and unprocessed foods can help with both. Many fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants that reduce inflammation, thereby easing your arthritis symptoms, as well as other aches and pains you may experience.

Turmeric is another antioxidant all-star you should incorporate into your diet if you have arthritis. A common ingredient in Indian food, the mild (and delicious!) spice contains curcumin, a chemical that also has anti-inflammatory oomph. It’s a versatile flavor that can easily be added to veggies, rice, soups, smoothies and your morning eggs. (Personally, I prefer to take my turmeric via a hot, soothing cup of ginger turmeric tea.) It’s also available in a supplement form at most pharmacies.

Eating right is perhaps the best change you can make to ease arthritis aches and pains. What’s more, a colorful diet full of whole foods is just plain good for you. Ditching salty, preservative-packed meals and empty, sugary calories will help not only your joints but also your waistline and your energy. Losing weight and being more active? Two more practices that will aid in your fight against arthritis and make you feel better overall.


Stress is an enabler. When you’re anxious and overwhelmed, the state of agitation can make your joints go wild — and not in a good way. Reduce your stress, and your joints will settle down.

Ready to start meditating? You might try out one of the several well-reviewed meditation apps available for your phone or tablet. Two of the most popular of these, Calm and Headspace, also offer sleep aids, so you can make sure you get plenty of rest.

If meditation isn’t up your alley, consider yoga, tai chi or simply incorporating a few deep-breathing exercises into your daily routine. Progressive muscle relaxation is also an excellent tool for loosening up your joints and easing anxiety.

As with eating right, lowering your stress level is good for so much more than just your arthritis. Being more relaxed is great for your memory, focus, energy and overall mental and physical health.

Try Acupuncture

This may be the most “out there” suggestion on the list, but don’t scroll past this paragraph just yet. Yes, acupuncture involves sticking teeny-tiny needles at specific points on your body, but it’s also one of the oldest remedies for pain in the world. In other words, it works.

The needles boost your body’s energy via meridians, which are basically energy’s superhighway throughout your body. When your energy is out of whack — a state called qi — an acupuncture treatment helps get everything back on track.

This ancient Chinese remedy has been practiced for centuries and can relieve stress from RA and OA as well as other forms of persistent pain. One of my oldest friends swears by acupuncture as a balm for her chronic back pain, for example. Another tempered the aches, pains and general discomfort of chemotherapy with regular acupuncture sessions.

Arthritis doesn’t have to rule your life. If your current treatment plan just isn’t cutting it, give one of these holistic approaches a try. Your joints are only a few cogs in the marvelous machine that is your body. By taking a holistic route, you may just find that improving your overall health has a huge positive impact on your arthritis.

4 Surprising Places Where Germs May Be Lurking In Your Home

In an effort to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have become particularly preoccupied with germs and their whereabouts. From sanitizing grocery cart handles to vigorously scrubbing the common areas in the breakroom to religiously cleansing frequently used door handles, you may find yourself going above and beyond in your attempts to keep COVID — and other germs — at bay. While your efforts are not for naught, they may be slightly ill-focused. Because, while germs are everywhere, they’re most likely propagating in areas to which you’re not paying attention — many of which are in your very own home.

Though obvious places in your home require daily scrubbing, there are several others that you may only clean once or twice a week, if that. Unfortunately, these are likely areas that accumulate the most bacteria. Read on to discover four surprising hot spots for germs in your home.

1. The Kitchen Sink

The National Sanitation Foundation found that places in which food is stored and prepared had more fecal matter and other forms of bacteria than any other place in the home. And a hotspot for germs in the kitchen is your sink.

From the sponge to the faucet to the basin itself, everything about your sink is disgusting if not frequently sanitized. While this may be alarming, the good news is that it’s easy to do something about all that grossness. Below are a few easy tips for keeping your kitchen safe and sanitary:

  • Wipe down the sink basin and other surfaces with disinfectant wipes daily.
  • Microwave sponges daily and replace them biweekly.
  • Replace dishtowels frequently.
  • Wash your hands before and after preparing food.

2. The Vacuum

From the brushes to the bags to the handles, vacuums are meals-on-wheels for bacteria. Not only do you suck up all the yuck in your home with this contraption and then just leave it to feed on itself but also, when you start it, it emits bacteria-infested dust particles back into the air. The easy fix: Clean all parts of your vacuum frequently and empty the bag after each use.

3. The Home Office and Living Room

As frequently used areas of the home, these rooms are bound to collect germs. However, specifically focus on the most commonly used items in each, such as the remote control and your computer keyboard. One study found that the majority of keyboards contained enough bacteria to be considered “health hazards,” while video game controllers and remotes often contain staph. Use disinfectant wipes on these items and other commonly touched surfaces daily and wash your hands before and after touching certain household items.

4. Toothbrush Holder  

Research shows that the dirtiest item in your home is the dish sponge or rag. Coming in second, however, is your toothbrush holder.

According to studies, an average of 3,318,477 microorganisms live on every 10 square centimeters of your toothbrush holder. If your toothbrush holder is dish waster safe, pop it in the dishwasher twice a week, and your toothbrush along with it. If it’s not, use hot water and soap or disinfectant wipes to sanitize it.

Now that you’re officially grossed out, there is some good news. As much as 99% of the bacteria you encounter on a daily basis is harmless. Though you should use the information shared here to inform your cleaning efforts, don’t let it scare you out of living comfortably in your home. Practice good hygiene and clean surfaces regularly and you should be fine.

My Favorite Healthy Fall Recipes

Fall is upon us, and with it comes the urge to cook all the rich foods a person can dream up. Whether you prefer your pie stuffed with pumpkin, chicken and gravy, or tamale filling, there has got to be something healthier, yet still comforting, that you can make at home, right? Of course there is. You can even use fresh, seasonal foods for cooking up a healthy fall meal.

Cool-weather salads

Most people think of salad as a summer food. That's understandable because so many green vegetables are in season during the warmest part of the year. However, many greens, including spinach and kale, keep growing until the beginning of winter. You can also use that famous fall vegetable, Brussels sprouts, as a salad base. The trick is to chop the sprouts into thin strips first. Once you have the base, add some more autumn classics, such as cranberries or pomegranate seeds, toasted almonds, chopped apples, and a strong, salty cheese like Parmesan or feta.

One-pan Dinners

The fact that you're staying away from unhealthy casseroles and pot pies doesn't mean you can't have any one-pot dinners in your autumn dinner rotation. When you're trying to keep it simple, think in terms of substituting vegetables for noodles and other grains. Doing that will lower the net carbs in your favorite recipes without sacrificing the overall flavor profile.

Another good choice is an egg-based pie, such as a frittata or quiche. Make your quiche crustless or use a riced cauliflower base. To make the filling, whip the eggs with heavy cream and all the roasted or sauteed vegetables you can find—Bake in a medium oven for around 20 minutes, or until the egg mixture is set. If eggs aren't your thing, try a low-carb chili recipe or broccoli and cauliflower au gratin.

Low-carb Desserts

When you search for fall dessert recipes, you find page after page of treats filled with sugar and fat. Fortunately, you can adapt some of these recipes to be lower in sugar and overall carbs. Start by replacing the all-purpose flour with almond or coconut flour. For the sugar, use an alternative, such as monk fruit.

If you don't feel like figuring out the substitutions for yourself, look for keto desserts. Many keto recipes have already been adapted to reduce the sugar and carb content; others simply take a different approach to dessert. For example, all you need for a yummy, crust-free pumpkin pie is canned pumpkin, gelatin, butter, and sweetener, as well as a dash of pumpkin pie spice. Dissolve the gelatin in hot water, add melted butter and all the rest of the ingredients, and then chill until set.

If you don't care about staying away from carbs but do want to steer clear of added sugar, a simple dessert of berries and cream may be your best bet. To fancy it up a bit, stew some fruit, whether berries, peaches, apples, or pears, in a bit of water and cinnamon, and serve over biscuits or with cream.

Warming comfort foods don't have to be out of reach just because you want to eat healthy. Use these recipes to keep you eating what's in season even as the weather changes. Now it's your turn: What would you add to this list? How do you keep eating healthy even after summer is over?

How To Keep Your Hair Healthy in the Fall

Fall is a time of change, and this year, maybe one of the changes you're looking forward to is an updated hairstyle. Before you choose a new cut and color, though, make sure you know how to keep your tresses looking their best during this season, which presents unique challenges compared with summer and winter. For one thing, you may be coming off a summer of chlorine, sunshine, and saltwater. If so, you're probably starting with a 'do that's seen better days. Here's how to fix it.

Remove Damaged Ends and Boost Your Color

The purpose of getting your hair trimmed every six to eight weeks is to keep it healthy, not just maintain the cut you've been wearing year after year. So, whether you're ready for an updated look or not, go ahead and get that trim. The effect is instantly brightening and refreshing because the old, scraggly ends are removed, and the shape of your cut is restored.

Update Your Look

Once you've convinced yourself that it's time for a new look, decide whether you want to subtly tweak your style or make a dramatic change. If you decide on a new color, choose one with warm undertones to match the season. A multi-dimensional hair color brings movement and depth to your appearance, which can give you a boost on a drab autumn day. If you want to stick with your classic color, boost it with a custom shampoo or gloss pack. On the other hand, if you decide to keep it natural, a salon-quality gloss treatment can still work wonders in smoothing, shining, and increasing vibrancy.

Douse Your Hair With Extra Moisture

Cold weather and dry air go hand in hand, and you need to protect your hair from both. If you can regulate the humidity in your home or office, start there. However, you won't be able to control the climate everywhere you go this season, so take the next step and invest in a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner. Keeping your strands well moisturized can help protect against breakage and frizziness. Add an extra layer of protection against the damaging effects of cold air by wearing a hat with a soft lining.

Give Your Tresses a Rest

You already know that heat styling can do a number on your hair. Fall is the perfect time to give it a break and let it air dry because on some days you'll be wearing a hat or hood all day, anyway. If you must blow-dry, straighten, or curl your hair, be sure to use a heat protectant. Better yet, select a heat-activated product that not only protects your strands but also strengthen them and add shine.

Treat Yourself

Fall is the perfect season to invest in a day at the spa or a spa day at home, depending on what you prefer. While you're busy pampering your skin, make time for a special hair treatment, too, such as a rejuvenating hair mask, deep conditioner, or oil. To get into the autumn spirit, try a pumpkin- or apple-scented product.

Autumn doesn't have to be a boring hair season. As you can see, it's a great time to freshen things up and restate your identity. It's also the perfect opportunity to make sure your hair is healthy heading into winter.

Try These Techniques To Help Relieve Arthritis Pain

If arthritis leaves you stiff, sore and unable to comfortably pursue your favorite activities, you're not alone. More than 100 different types of diseases categorized as arthritis affect an estimated 54 million Americans according to the Arthritis Foundation. If you've been diagnosed with arthritis, a trusted health care provider can help you develop strategies to cope with the resulting pain and immobility. Scientists have found evidence to support the efficacy of these X remedies for arthritis symptoms.

Pain Medication

Your doctor will likely recommend medication for your arthritis pain. Some of the most common therapies include:

  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen, as well as options that also address inflammation such as naproxen and ibuprofen

  • Prescription pain medications

  • Topical ointments containing capsaicin or menthol, which may block some pain signals from entering the joint

  • Disease-modifying antirheumatoid drugs and biologic response modifiers, which reduce the immune system attacks on the joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis

  • Oral or injected corticosteroids to alleviate joint inflammation

Weight Loss

Excess weight can put pressure on the joints, worsening the discomfort of arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, every extra pound places about 6 pounds of added stress on the hip joints and 3 pounds on the knees.

The 2019 evidence guidelines for arthritis treatment published by the American College of Rheumatology and the Arthritis Foundation recommend weight loss for overweight and obese individuals who have arthritis. Even losing just 5 to 10% of your total body weight can result in better mobility, reduced pain, and decreased wear and tear on the joints.

Incorporating regular exercise in your life might feel daunting if you have arthritis, but working with your doctor to boost your physical activity can have a positive effect on your overall health. Gentle exercises like walking, swimming, biking and yoga will support your weight loss efforts, improve joint mobility and strengthen muscles to provide joint support. Avoid repetitive and jarring motions; running, tennis and high-impact aerobics place undue stress on painful joints. If you're not sure where to start, talk to your health care provider. He or she may recommend referral to a physical therapist.

Temperature Treatments

Applying ice or moist heat to your painful joints can often provide relief. Try a cold pack to alleviate joint inflammation, applied to the affected area for 15 minutes at a time. Take a 30-minute break between each application.

A heating pad can help relax muscle tension that results from arthritis discomfort, as well as soothe the body by boosting circulation. A hot shower has a similar therapeutic effect. As with cold, check the temperature and take breaks to protect your skin.


Eastern medicine has used acupuncture to treat pain and other ailments for thousands of years. Today, many individuals who have arthritis report relief after trying this traditional Chinese remedy. With acupuncture, the practitioner inserts tiny needles at designated points throughout the body to stimulate natural anesthetic, circulation and nerve activity to the joints, connective tissue and muscles. While most studies about acupuncture focus on chronic pain in general, anecdotal research shows that the practice can be positive for people who have arthritis.


While not every natural supplement works as intended, studies show these nutrients and vitamins have a beneficial effect on arthritis pain:

  • Indian frankincense

  • Capsaicin

  • Turmeric

  • Fish oil

  • Ginger

  • Omega-6 fatty acids

Talk with your doctor before adding these remedies or any other supplements to your diet.

Most of all, if you have arthritis, listen to your body. Pay attention to the factors that cause pain to flare and avoid those triggers. Take note of the remedies that provide relief and incorporate them into your everyday routine.

Which Cooking Oils To Use and Which To Avoid

If you’re like me, your pantry is overflowing with cooking oils. If you’re like my aunt was, you just slather everything in vegetable oil and call it a day. With apologies to Aunt Ginny, it’s important to choose the right oil for the job. Each reacts differently to heat, seasons your food differently and, perhaps most importantly, affects your health differently. Here’s a quick guide to five of the most popular cooking oils on store shelves today.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Of all the oils in my pantry, EVOO gets the most use. It’s jam-packed with monounsaturated fats that are great for the heart, and it's full of flavor. It’s perfect for sautéing and for drizzling on top of soups, veggies or crusty Italian bread. (Occasionally, of course.)

What it’s not-so-great for is frying and roasting because of its low smoke point. I like to keep a giant bottle of inexpensive EVOO in the pantry for most jobs on the stovetop. Then I also have a smaller bottle of higher-quality EVOO that I save for that aforementioned drizzling.

Canola Oil

Canola oil gets a bad rap. Thanks to its high smoke point, it’s an excellent choice for frying food. It has that 400-degree smoke point because it's processed using chemicals.

The thing is, that chemical processing doesn’t really impact its healthiness. It’s still low in saturated fat, and it’s a decent, affordable, all-around oil to keep in your pantry thanks to its suitability not only for frying but also baking and roasting. Just don’t sauté your veggies in it or add it to your homemade salad dressing.

Vegetable Oil

Like its pantry partner-in-crime canola oil, vegetable oil is good for frying because of its high smoke point. It can also be a suitable choice for roasting and baking. It has a neutral flavor, so it won’t overpower whatever you throw its way.

That said, vegetable oil isn’t the healthiest oil of the bunch. Like canola oil, it’s chemically refined. Unlike canola oil, which isn’t impacted by that procedure, the processing of vegetable oil robs it of its naturally occurring minerals.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is quickly gaining in popularity and not just in kitchens. It’s a staple of natural beauty products, especially moisturizers.

Back to the kitchen, though: Coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fat. (Think a whopping 12 grams per tablespoon.) That’s why it’s a solid at room temperature, just like its fatty, creamy, delicious twin, butter.

And, just like butter, if you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet, you should reserve coconut oil only for baking. For other dishes, choose a healthier oil. Extra-virgin olive oil, for example, has a similarly low smoke point while remaining heart-healthy.

Avocado Oil

If you think everything avocado is just for Millennials, think again. Avocado oil is an excellent alternative to canola and vegetable oils. Like those oils, it has a high smoke point that makes it great for frying. Unlike those oils, it’s full of monounsaturated fats that will make your heart happy, it’s low on saturated fat, and it isn’t chemically processed.

All of that comes at a price, though. Literally. While avocado oil’s flavor is neutral, its cost is usually higher than the other cooking oils on this list. Personally, I think it’s worth the splurge to keep a bottle in the back of my pantry. Even if you can’t afford to use it regularly, swapping it in for canola or vegetable oil from time to time will cut some unwanted chemicals out of your kitchen in the long run.

In many ways, the oil makes the dish. As you stock your pantry, pay attention to labels and choose the oils you need to make your recipes sing and your body strong.

3 Things You Can Do With All That Zucchini

When I think of summer, I think of sunshine, beach reads and more zucchini than I know what to do with. If you find yourself with a garden full of zucchini — or even a generous neighbor looking to unload his or her zucchini haul — here are three of my favorite ways to use it up.

Sausage-Stuffed Zucchini Canoes

This dish isn’t just simple to throw together, it’s versatile too. You can fill your zucchini canoes with whatever you’d like, but I prefer hot Italian turkey sausage. Too spicy for your taste? Try sweet Italian sausage or some thick, earthy mushrooms.

The ingredient list is short and sweet:

  • 4 small zucchinis

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped

  • 2 links hot Italian turkey sausage

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼ cup green olives, sliced

  • ¼ cup sweet red cherry peppers, chopped (optional)

  • 1 ¼ cup marinara sauce

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella

Start by cutting each zucchini in half lengthwise and scrape out the insides, leaving a ¼-inch shell for your canoe. Chop up the reserved zucchini “meat” and set aside. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped zucchini, onion and salt. Remove the casings from the sausage links and add the sausage to the pan, crumbling as you go. Cook for 8 minutes, then mix in the olives and cherry peppers.

Meanwhile, spread the marina in a 9 x 13 baking dish and place the zucchini shells on top of the sauce. Spoon a generous portion of the sausage-zucchini mix into each shell. Sprinkle with mozzarella.

Cover your fleet with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 5 minutes more. If you like your cheese to get nice and brown, you might give it a couple of minutes under the broiler to finish things off.


Zoodles, a.k.a. zucchini noodles, are a healthy way to get your spaghetti supper fix without packing on the pasta pounds. For the easiest zoodle prep, invest in an inexpensive vegetable spiralizer, and zoodle until your heart’s content. You can use zoodles in place of traditional pasta in most of your favorite dishes, Italian or otherwise, and they’re great in soups, too.

One of my favorite ways to zoodle couldn’t be simpler. Here’s what you need:

  • 3 medium zucchinis, peeled

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 3 minced garlic cloves

  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Spiralize the zucchini into noodles. (In a pinch, you can quarter them and use a veggie peeler to slice them into thin strips.)

In a large pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (roughly 1 minute), stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Add your zoodles and grated Parmesan to the pan; stir. Cook the whole shebang until the zoodles are al dente (1-2 minutes).

Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste, and cover with more parm if you’d like.

Easy Grilled Zucchini

Sometimes the best way to enjoy zucchini is to keep it simple and throw it on the grill. (Or, even better, have your spouse, daughter or favorite grandson handle grilling duties.) I like my grilled zucchini simple — just a touch of garlic, oregano, basil and balsamic — but there’s no limit to the ways you can season your squash.

For perfect grilled zucchini, preheat the grill, keeping the heat medium to low. Lightly oil the grate, too.

Meanwhile, quarter your zucchinis, and brush them with olive oil. Sprinkle them with dried oregano, basil and garlic power, then grill until they start browning (roughly 4 minutes per side). Remove to a serving dish and lightly splash with balsamic vinegar before serving. Delicious!

You know what they say: Waste not, want not. Don’t throw all that zucchini away. Get a little creative in the kitchen, and you’ll be enjoying healthy, diverse zucchini dishes all season long.

My Favorite Pickling Recipes

I don’t know about you guys, but this is one of the most exciting times of the year for me. My garden is producing like crazy, and it’s time to start thinking about how I will preserve my produce. Will I simply bottle it, pickle it, or take advantage of my nifty new freeze drier? I’ll probably use all three methods, but pickling is what I’m most excited to do. Pickled food is my all-time favorite, and it’s so versatile.

Whether you like pickled cucumbers, tomatoes or beets, you need a reliable pickling recipe that helps you obtain maximum flavor every time. Feel free to look over my favorite pickling recipes and give them a try this canning season.

Crowd-Pleasing Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator pickles are so easy to make with a few small cucumbers from the store or straight from your garden. They’re pre-sliced, so you can get them directly out of the jar and put them on sandwiches, in salads or just snack on them plain. Here’s how to make them.


  • 6 cups sliced cucumbers

  • 2 cups sliced onions

  • 1 ½ cups cider vinegar

  • 1 ½ cups sugar

  • ½ tsp. mustard seed

  • ½ tsp. celery seed

  • ½ tsp. salt

  • ½ tsp. ground cloves

  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric

Remember to slice your cucumber and onions very thin for this particular recipe.


  1. Put sliced onions and cucumbers into a large bowl and set aside.

  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan.

  3. Bring ingredients to a boil, stirring constantly.

  4. Cook only until the sugar is fully dissolved.

  5. Pour the mixture over the sliced onions and cucumbers and allow to cool.

  6. Once cool, cover mixture tightly and refrigerate.

For the most mouthwatering flavor, make sure you refrigerate the mixture at least 24 hours before serving.

Quick Pickling for Any Vegetable

There are so many vegetables that taste great pickled, so don’t limit yourself to only pickling cucumbers. The following pickling recipe works for carrots, summers squash, cherry tomatoes, and any other type of vegetable you want to pickle.


  • 1 lb. fresh vegetables of your choice

  • 1 to 2 tsps. Whole spices, such as mustard seeds, black peppercorns, or coriander (optional)

  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, sliced

  • 2 sprigs fresh herbs, such as rosemary, dill or thyme (optional)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup white, rice, or apple cider vinegar

  • 2 Tbsp. pickling salt

  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

If you don’t like the thought of adding sugar to your pickled vegetables, feel free to omit it.


  1. Prepare your vegetables by washing and cutting them. Carrots should be peeled and beans should be trimmed.

  2. Pack the vegetables into pint jars. Leave approximately ½ inches of space at the top of the jar.

  3. Heat your water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan on high. Bring to a boil while stirring frequently. Once the sugar and salt are dissolved, pour the brine over the top of your vegetables, being careful to maintain the ½ inch of space at the top.

  4. Tap the jars gently on the counter to get any air bubbles out. Add more brine if necessary.

  5. Screw the lids onto the jars until they are tightly sealed.

  6. Cool the jars at room temperature before moving them to the refrigerator.

Just like wine, pickled vegetables improve with age. Try to let them sit for at least 48 hours before enjoying them (if you can wait that long!). This recipe will produce pickled vegetables that will last for up to two months in the refrigerator.

Now that you know my favorite pickling recipes, make sure you try them this season! I can’t wait to sink my teeth into fresh pickled cucumbers and carrots. In fact, I think I’m going to go make some right now. Enjoy!