Chilly Weather is Upon Us….Here’s 5 Soups to Warm You Up!

The cold is inching closer as we approach the middle of October and we know that this is the time of year that soup becomes a staple. If you’re looking for some weather recipes to liven up your dinner table, here’s some unique recipes to keep the chill out!

Chicken Fajita & Rice Soup

Chicken Fajita and Rice Soup

A little spice goes a long way and turns up the heat to warm your bones! This recipe can be adjusted to suit your taste as there’s plenty of ingredients and seasonings that can be added for flavor, such as peppers and different selections of chili powder. So even if other recipes have gone awry, this won’t be one of them!

Italian Sausage Tomato Orzo Soup

Italian Sausage Tomato Orzo Soup

For a taste of Italy, this recipe is packed with hearty meat and vegetables. With a unique blend of ingredients, this comfort food selection won’t disappoint…and it’s dairy-free!

Bone Broth Soup

For the minimalist, bone broth is the perfect choice to warm up…not to mention its many health benefits and healing properties! It’s high mineral content and natural collagen promote healthy bones and cartilage, skin, arteries, corneas, and more. With all of these benefits, one might think it may come at the cost of flavor. Not at all! Although simple, this soup is a delight to the tastebuds. Win-win.

Smoked Sausage Kale & Potato Soup

Smoked Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup

Kale never tasted so good! Combined with potatoes and smoked sausage, this recipe is sure to become a family favorite. You can select from an array of sausages to include and it’s a great way to switch things up…because it’s destined to be a repeat for all those cold nights to come!

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

The Best Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

A new twist on an old classic–this chicken noodle soup recipe is tailored for crockpot cooking. Ideal for those on the go, just place all ingredients in the crockpot and it will be ready and waiting for you when you get home!

Spotlight: Ella’s Daughter Card Collection

For those looking for the right sentiments to offer friends or loved ones walking through a difficult season, consider Ella’s Daughter Card Collection. Started by Laverne Ward, a former NY Law Enforcement Officer, with the intent of supporting and connecting others, you will find her line of cards unique & inspired. Click below for inquiries.


Coconut Oil: The Miracle Product


Coconut oil has become a staple in many households, not only in the kitchen, but outside of it as well!  Its uses range from a cooking oil to a hair product.  Here are just some of the ways coconut oil will become your can’t-do-without product.

1. Cooking — coconut oil is considered a healthier substitute than many cooking oils.  Just a tablespoon is all you’ll need to sautee a great stir fry or cook a turkey burger.

2. Moisturizer — Did you know coconut oil can take the place of your store-bought moisturizer?  It’s all-natural properties will get your skin glowing and combat dryness.

3. Hair care — Just a dollop on the ends of your tresses will leave your hair soft, healthy, and prevent split ends.  It is also proven to prevent frizz and dandruff.

4. Insect Repellant — For those of you who utilize essential oils, a combination of  peppermint and coconut oil is a natural way to keep the bugs at bay.

5.  Make-up Remover — Instead of reaching for the cold cream, keep a jar of coconut oil in your bathroom cabinet to take off the day.  It will even remove mascara!

6. Lip Balm —  Winter can be hard on lips.  When they’re dry and cracked, dip a Q-tip in coconut oil to soothe them all day long.

7. Face Mask —  Treat yourself to a homemade facial with another ingredient you’ll find in the kitchen: honey!  Combine 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of honey, let sit for 15-20 min., then apply.  Remove with a warm cloth.

8. Sunburn Treatment — On vacation and forgot to apply the sunscreen?  A combination of coconut oil and apple cider vinegar will be your sunburn’s best friend.  It provides instant relief and the oil’s healing properties will help your skin to recover.

9. Energy drink — Rather than grab that energy drink from the fridge, reach for a bag of chia seeds and the CO.  A tablespoon of each is an all-natural pick-me-up.

10. For your furry friends too! — Both dogs and cats can benefit from coconut oil as well!  A teaspoon added to their food on the daily prevents arthritis and contributes to gum health along with various other benefits.


The benefits of coconut oil are endless and there is no doubt you will find yourself replacing other store-bought products with this simple addition to your pantry.  How have you incorporated coconut oil into your household and daily beauty regimens?  Be sure to comment and share with the SW community!

Traveling Paleo-Style



Going Paleo can be quite a transition, especially when it comes to traveling.  Many who have an upcoming vacation may put off a Paleo diet until they return, but there are many ways to incorporate your eating plan into your travel schedule!  Here are some tips for sticking with the program while on-the-go.

1.  Stock up on the dry goods

This is the easy part.  There are plenty of snack foods that don’t require refrigeration that are Paleo compliant.  Foods such as nuts, dried fruit, and sweet potato chips are perfect, low-maintenance snacking options that are easy to pack and require zero prep.  Be sure to read your labels though as some of these foods can have hidden sugars and other ingredients. Do a quick online search before going shopping of brands that are approved.  Some examples include: Rx bars, Larabars, GoGo Applesauce Squeez, and Trader Joe’s Raw Almonds.

2.  Plan (and even prep) meals ahead of time

If you plan to stay somewhere with access to a kitchen or a grill, create a meal plan for your stay.  Some things can also be prepared ahead of time so that prep doesn’t cut into your vacation time!  Chicken, ground beef, chicken sausage, hard-boiled eggs and other easy meal selections can be seasoned, cooked, and kept refrigerated or in a cooler until meal times.  The key is to plan, plan, plan.  You’ll be less likely to veer of course and head to a fast food chain if you know there’s a meal ready and waiting to be thrown in the oven or on the grill.

3.  Do your research

If you do plan to eat out during vacation at all, make sure you know of some area restaurants with menu items that are Paleo compliant.  This can be difficult because you can’t see how your food is being prepped back in the kitchen, but ask your server for details if you plan to maintain a strict diet.  Don’t be shy about asking these questions as your body may be less tolerant to some of the ingredients than it was prior to your Paleo journey!

4. Go Easy On Yourself

Vacations can also include unplanned events such as a kid getting sick on the trip, the car breaking down, or a visit to the ER.  Events like this may require a swing through the drive-thru just to keep everybody sane.  Don’t get discouraged and throw in the towel!  As soon as you and/or your family are reasonably able, get right back to it and don’t let one meal throw you off course.  Remember, it’s a lifestyle and transition and so there’s bound to be some bumps in the road!


Visit the following websites for further meal plans, ideas, and tips!:


Paleo Recipe: Spaghetti Squash and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Hi there, SW friends!

Here’s the perfect Paleo recipe for a summer breakfast shared with us by our friend, Kim!  You can also include any veggies you may find in your fridge at home and the recipe is easily modifiable.  Try it out and leave a comment below to let us know how you liked it along with any modifications!

IMG_3390 (1)

Servings: 8


  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 Lbs. ground chicken
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 1/2 Tbs sea salt
  • 1 Tbs dried sage
  • 1 Tbs dried thyme
  • 1 Tbs dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 Cup coconut milk
  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees
  2. Grease a 9×13 pan with coconut oil
  3. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds
  4. Place squash cut side down on baking sheet and bake for 40 -45 minutes until easily pierced with a fork
  5. Meanwhile, add ground turkey and onion to a large skillet over medium heat and cook until meat is browned
  6. Add seasonings and mix to combine
  7. Add eggs and coconut milk to a mixing bowl and whisk until combined
  8. When spaghetti squash is finished cooking, reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees
  9. Let squash cool and then scrape the insides out with a large fork into greased baking dish
  10. Spread the meat mixture on top of squash in pan
  11. Pour the egg mixture evenly on top of meat and squash
  12. Mix slightly to ensure the egg mixture is spread throughout the pan
  13. Bake for 50-60 minutes until slightly browned and the casserole bounces back when pressed on.

Recipe by Vibrant Life Army Wife

Healthy Recipes: Baked Avocado and Egg

by Jamie Philippi, Premier Fitness Solutions

Who knew you could bake avocado? It makes a fun, little boat for half of a scrambled egg. Enjoy for a nutritious, on-the-go breakfast or snack.

Ingredients (2 servings):avocade

  • 1 organic avocado, halved with pit removed
  • 1 egg
  • salt, pepper and your favorite seasoning (we like fajita)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Flip each avocado side over, and slice off enough of the rounded skin so it can sit flat with fleshy side up. Place avocados fleshy side up in a baking pan. Crack salt into each hole. Whisk egg in a bowl, and divide it between avocado holes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and seasoning of your choice. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until egg has set. Eat with spoon, and enjoy.

Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals 176 calories, 15g fat, 35mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 8g fiber and 6g protein

7 Important Income Tax Tips from Aspen, Allan & Assoc.

The end of the year is a time to reflect upon the past and plan for the future. Here we present you with some important income and estate tax items to consider before year’s end.

Contributions to a Retirement Plan
Self-employed individuals can establish and fund a qualified retirement plan. There are many different types of plans, including Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEP), Solo 401(k) Plans, Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees (Simple Plans), profit sharing plans, and defined benefit plans. Each plan has advantages and disadvantages, and the maximum contribution for each plan varies. Some plans need to be established before December 31, 2014, although they could be funded in 2015 with the amount contributed treated as a deduction in 2014.

Employees not covered by a retirement plan at work can establish an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and all individuals should consider establishing a Roth IRA.

Preparing State Income Taxes
State income taxes are deductible when paid. If you have a state estimated tax payment due January 15, 2015, consider accelerating that payment to sometimes prior to December 31, 2014 in order to deduct the payment to 2014. However, keep in mind that state income taxes are not deductible for alternative minimum tax purposes.

In addition, a new wrinkle is the impact that state income taxes have on the net investment income tax. A careful analysis of your 2014 and 2015 tax liability (including your alternative minimum tax and net investment income tax) should be done to determine if it is beneficial to prepay state income taxes.

Evaluating Year-to-Date Capital Losses and Year-End Capital Gains
Capital losses can offset capital gains plus $3000 of ordinary income. Now is the time to review your investment portfolio and your year to date capital gains and losses to determine if you should realize any more losses and/or gains. If you have an overall net loss so far, consider selling some appreciated positions to lock in the gains. If you have an overall net gain so far, consider selling some loss positions to reduce your potential tax liability. Triggering capital losses could also reduce your net investment income tax. You could buy back the securities sold at a loss provided you purchase the securities either more than 30 days before or 30 days after the sale. Capital losses in excess of capital gains plus $3000 can be carried over. However, some states do not permit carryovers of capital losses.

Charitable Donations
If you are charitably inclined, a donation to a charitable organization can reduce your tax bill. Checks to charities must be in the mail on or before December 31, 2014, while donations charged to a credit card can be deducted if charged in 2014, even if not paid until 2015. Consider giving appreciated securities to a charity instead of cash. The tax deduction for a contribution of appreciated securities is equal to the fair market value of the securities given and you do not have to pay income tax on the appreciation associated with the securities. Contributions of appreciated securities to public charities are limited to 30% of your adjusted gross income. Contributions of cash to public charities are limited to 50% of your adjusted gross income.

Annual Exclusion Gifts
Everyone is allowed to give $14,000 each year to any number of recipients. Married tax payers can give up to $28,000. This amount is free of any gift or inheritance tax and the recipient is not subject to income tax on the gift. The gift can be any type of asset—cash, check, stock, artwork, etc. However, it must be a gift of “present interest”—meaning the recipient must be able to access property now, and not just in the future.

Annual exclusion gifts are a simple and effective way to significantly reduce one’s estate tax. For example, a married couple with three children and nine grandchildren can annually give away $336,000 ($28,000 to each of their 12 descendants) without paying any gift tax. By following this practice for five years, they would have removed $1.69M from their taxable estate.

Children or Grandchildren Education Planning
Consider opening and funding a section 529 plan. There are many different plans available—all essentially college savings plans.
Earnings in a section 529 plan and qualified distributions are not taxed. Qualified distributions are those used for a person’s qualified higher education expenses at an accredited post-secondary educational institution, including tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment. Certain room and board expenses also qualify.

In addition, you are allowed to fund up to five times the annual exclusion ($70,000) in one year and treat the transfer as made over five years. Married taxpayers can fund up to $140,000 in one year and treat the transfer as made over five years.

Review Important Tax Documents
Now is a good time to review all of your important tax documents, such as last wills and testaments, health care proxies, powers of attorney, and trusts. In addition, you should review beneficiary designations for retirement plans and life insurance policies and check how all your bank/brokerage accounts are titled. As you go through, consider the following:

  • Have children been born since documents were last updated?
  • Has there been a divorce?
  • Has there been a marriage?
  • Are the named trustees still close confidants?

Should you need assistance with your year-end income and estate tax planning, contact Aspen, Allen, & Associates, located at 616 North Court, Suite 130 in Palatine. For more information, visit or call (847) 358-3909.


Elk Grove Dermatology Open House

Elk Grove Derm new

Mini Job & Internship Fair (Tech-Focused)

This event allows you to discuss opportunities with various employers in the information technology industry and other industries.

Date: Thursday, January 29, 2015
Time: 10:30am to 1:00pm
Cost: None
Place: Grayslake Campus Building E, 19351 W. Washington St., Grayslake, IL 60030

If you have available positions in the Information Technology field, register to participate in this event. Register here.

Information Technology Focus:

  • Computer forensics
  • Computer programming
  • Desktop support technician
  • Network administration and security
  • Office applications specialist

For additional information, contact Annette Halsey at or (847) 543-2059.

bii Natural Salon: Buy 3 Haircuts, Get 1 Free

bii ownersAs eco-conscious, expert hair artists with ingredient sensitivities, James and Adam recognized the majority of local and national salons carry products that contain harmful ingredients to us and the Earth. “We wanted to change the salon industry for the better,” says James. Their dream of opening a salon that would keep both us and the planet beautiful came true in 2011 when they opened Bii Natural Salon. “We feel a sense of pride knowing our salon makes every effort to keep our environment pristine and our clients and staff safe from harmful ingredients,” says Adam. By providing personalized, chemical-free salon services, you can achieve beautiful, healthy hair in its natural state. Some of the many benefits include:

  • optimal condition
  • high moisture content
  • stronger texture
  • density and fullness
  • in-tact protein bonds
  • fullness and body
  • endless hair color possibilities
  • the ability to wear straight or curly hair
  • and more!

bii salon

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