Hey Laura, what’s a great-tasting, healthy homemade salad dressing?

“I will be indebted to you forever” writes:

Hey Laura,
I love salad but I cannot seem to find a salad dressing that is both healthy and delicious.  What recipes would you recommend for a basic vinaigrette or oil-based Italian dressing?

Oh yes, my friend, you will be indebted to me forever after you try this salad dressing recipe! I just invented it a couple of days ago and have been dying to share. Since it uses strawberry puree in place of most of the oil, it only has 38 calories and 2 grams of fat per (2 Tbs) serving.

Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

10 oz bag of frozen organic strawberries, pureed (yields 1 1/4 cup - I wouldn’t waste fresh strawberries on this; frozen tastes just fine!)...Continue reading

Hey Laura, where can I get great coffee in San Francisco?

Leslie writes:

Hey Laura, I packed my thermos for my week-long trip to San Francisco. Help me fill it up! The only caveat is that I’ll be on foot in the Fisherman’s Wharf and Fort Mason area. What’s good that is nearby?

You’ll be spending most of your time at Fort Mason, so be aware that Greens (famous! awesome vegetarian fare! you should eat there!) Restaurant has a little to-go cafe with coffee and pastries in the morning and soup and sandwiches in the afternoon. Greens To Go opens at 8am (9am on Sundays).

Also in Fort Mason is Cafe Franco, located in the back of the Fisherman’s Wharf Hostel. Look for signs at the hostel, and be aware that the cafe is often closed between 3 and 5pm....

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Hey Laura, how do I get my kid to stop waking me up so darn early?

It’s Too Early O’clock. Your bedroom door bursts open and an exuberant toddler voice jolts you out of slumber.

“Hey Mommy! Hey Mommy! It’s a beautiful day! I’m ready for mine breakfast!”

The sun may be up, but that doesn’t mean you should be. Here’s how I caged my early bird.

First of all, I’m assuming a foundation of safety-awareness and obedience that is necessary for any of this to work. Your child has to be old enough to be safe in his/her room unsupervised, and if you have an escape artist on your hands, you need to solve that problem, too. If you’re confident that your child can safely handle up to an hour (or more - your call!) playing quietly in his room, then you’re good to go....Continue reading

Hey Laura, what’s a good sunscreen that’s safe for my family?

Oh, so you heard that Vitamin A, a common sunscreen ingredient seems to actually accelerate the development of skin cancer?

Well, definitely take it with a grain of salt. The whistle-blowers, a lobbying group called the Evironmental Working Group, seem to have based their assertions on the preliminary findings of one study, while there are many other studies that have concluded that the antioxidant is safe.

This article, by a cosmetic producer, takes apart the EWG claims with a studied efficiency. While the author owns a cosmetic company and is obviously vested in the debate, I find her well-supported counter-argument to the EWG article much more convincing!

That said, I’m all about...

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Hey Laura, how can I find local, grass-fed beef?

Good for you for making the switch! Grass-fed beef is better for you, better for the environment, and definitely the more humane choice. And, thanks to the likes of Michael Pollan and Food Inc., it’s getting easier to find local sources.

If you need help being convinced, the Mother Nature Network has an excellent article outlining the Top 10 reasons to eat grass fed meat and AmericanGrassFedBeef.com explains the significant health benefits of going grass-fed (did you know that grass-fed beef has up to half as much saturated fat as grain-fed, and up to 6 times the amount of cancer-fighting omega-3s?).

Now that everyone is rarin’ to get that beef in their bellies, how about some links to...

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Hey Laura, how do I get rid of ants without poisoning my household?

We just lived through a huge ant-swarm at our house, so I’m full of useful suggestions!

First off, it will be useful to know what kind of ants you’re dealing with, as different ants are tempted by different types of bait (as well as looking for different items in your pantry or on your floors).

Here is an informative article from the departments of etymology of UNM. It suggests all kinds of unpronounceable, toxic solutions to getting rid of ants, but if you scroll down you’ll find a guide to Common Household Ants. There you can see pictures of ants and read about their eating, nesting, and swarming habits.

Take comfort in the knowledge that a seasonal ant infestation is not usually...

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Hey Laura, how can I survive being neighbors with family?

“B” writes:

Dear Laura,
I just moved into a wonderful house next door to my brother and his wife and new child. While I love living next door to them, I have a few concerns. I don’t want to be the nosey know-it-all sister who interferes with how they raise their child, but I have some helpful advice I would like to pass on. How does one go about giving advice without being pushy? Secondly, they love to stop in randomly, and while I do enjoy seeing them and my new nephew, they once even walked in on me sans clothing! What is the nice/proper way of getting them to call first even though we are just a few steps away?

Oh, the joys of living near family! While it can be awesome to have...

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