Archive | HEALTH AND WELLNESS

How to Make Organic Instant Oatmeal for Cool Fall Mornings

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I love oatmeal on cool, crisp fall mornings! Am I the only one? You can make your own organic instant oatmeal packed with flavor in a few simple steps taking your regular oatmeal from ho-hum to yum-yum. Read on to learn how you can make organic instant oatmeal and wake up to goodness tomorrow.


Step 1: Bake It!
Preheat the oven to 350°, spread 4 cups of organic old-fashioned rolled oats on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Step 2: Pulse It!
Pulse in a food processor until coarsely chopped.

Step 3: Mix It!
Mix in a cup of your favorite oatmeal add-ins such as; almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, brown sugar and coconut.

Step 4: Store It!
Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

Step 5: Boil It!
Stir boiling water into a cup of your organic instant oatmeal until you reach your desired consistency.

Step 6: Enjoy It!
Oatmeal is my favorite on cool, crisp fall morning – top with a honey too!

 

Healthy Habits for Green Kids Start at Home

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As parents, the most important lessons we can impress upon our kids are the sorts of healthy habits that will stick with them throughout life, especially once they’re off on their own for the first time. Healthy lifelong habits can include eating well and exercising, but also extend to things like keeping their living space clean and following good hygiene practices. Today I want to talk about the latter, as no parent wants to see their kid end up as a stereotypically smelly, unkempt teenager!

Of course, kids have to be given freedom to explore their identities and express themselves creatively with their clothing and hair choices. I think it’s only natural for kids developing their sense of self to explore those avenues. But good hygiene is simpler than that, and important for everyone. Teaching kids to maintain healthy habits and take good care of their bodies starts at home, and is something the mister and I have tried to approach in a positive way.

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Personal hygiene is also an area fraught with marketing campaigns (some of which rely on shaming tactics or other nasty approaches to selling their products) surrounding the products we supposedly need to use in order to keep clean. Many of these are full of synthetic scents, untested ingredients, or are otherwise not very eco-friendly, being tested on animals or produced in unsustainable ways. So even our choices of hygiene products can be a big influence on our kids, and what they choose to use in the future. One of my favorite brands of natural personal hygiene products is Tom’s of Maine, who never use artificial colors, flavors, fragrances, preservatives, or animal testing.

You’ve probably seen Tom’s at your local drug store or grocery, and they’ve been around since the ‘70s. I would bet that they’re the most recognizable brand of natural body products around today, not just relegated to health stores or other specialty retailers. I think Tom’s of Maine is great because they aim to operate sustainably and care for both the environment and the communities we live in.

I would say that three of the most important hygiene habits to build with your kids are the following:

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Brushing Teeth: Keeping teeth and gums in good shape is important to overall health and maintaining good breath. It can also be a task which kids (especially young ones) are more likely to shirk or do a half-hearted job of. Being a good role model by brushing and flossing with your children can go a long way to building good dental hygiene habits. Tom’s makes a wide range of oral care products including all-natural toothpaste that my family loves using.

Washing Up: Whether we’re talking regular hand washing to prevent the spread of germs, washing your face each day to help with teenage skin concerns, or getting active kids into the shower to rinse off sweat and dirt after they’ve been out playing, washing up is a huge part of personal hygiene.

Using Deodorant: This one can be a little more controversial, as depending on how you were raised, you might not think of deodorizing products as a necessity. However, in modern society they’re a pretty prevalent part of personal hygiene, and even if you choose not to use antiperspirants due to health concerns, a simple, natural deodorant is a good choice. Tom’s is probably best known for their extensive line of natural deodorants, for men, women, and children. If you’re looking for a healthy, natural deodorant, I don’t think these ones can be beat. My whole family uses them, and we’ve been really impressed by the quality and effectiveness.

I’d love to hear your tricks for helping your kids develop healthy hygiene habits, or your experiences trying natural body products. Have you successfully swapped your conventional hygiene products for eco-friendlier options? How do you teach your kids about the importance of taking good care of their bodies? Have you tried any Tom’s of Maine products that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments!

 

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield.  All opinions are always my own.

All Work & No Play? Keep Your Kids Active After School With CLIF Kid

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With the school year in full swing, it’s important to remember that our kids need regular playtime to remain happy and healthy. Balancing playtime with homework can sometimes seem like a difficult task, but the creativity that play allows for helps kids develop in ways that aren’t always focused on at school. I know I always try my best to keep playtime at the forefront of Eben’s life despite his busy school schedule and my own work picking up at this time of year. Today I want to talk about how I help incorporate play into our daily lives, and keep Eben fueled so he can do his best at school and have energy for fun activities afterward.

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Our favorite after school activities include taking the dogs for an evening walk around the lake or taking a stroll on the beach to chat about his week. It’s a great way for us to connect and helps me stay in the loop with what’s going on in his life. We also have family game night at least once a week and the two of us also spend every Friday night doing a mom-and-son “date night”. This usually means that we go out for sushi and then we hit the bookstore or a movie.

To keep him fueled at school, I always tuck a CLIF Kid Zbar® in his backpack. (In fact, he has a late-start school day today – so I slipped an apple and CLIF Kid Zbar in!) It is perfect for late afternoons when he gets hungry, or for after school when he stays later to work on a project or study for a test. The bars are great to snack on during class too, since they are easy to eat without having to pull out his whole lunch box. I also have a few approved snacks always available in the refrigerator and on the counter top. That way when Eben gets hungry during homework time or a video game session, he has easy access to healthy snacks! He loves their flavor, and I love that they’re made with organic ingredients, and no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, or synthetic preservatives. They’re also made in appropriate portion sizes for growing kids, which a lot of snack bars aimed at adults are not, and have important nutrients for active kids.

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Eben also incorporates playtime into his busy schedule in a number of ways. He rides his bike to and from school, which is a great way to get kids energized and focused for a day of studying. We slip in family time whenever possible by having family game nights, making organic milkshakes together, and having make-your-own-pizza and movie nights on the weekend. We also do a lot of cooking together —especially Mr. Sweet Greens and Eben, which is a great way for him to learn life skills and healthy eating habits.

We like to take a fall vacation each year, to get some hiking in when the weather is beautiful and there’s a lot to see. It’s a great way to make family memories—I have lots of pictures from these trips that are great to look at again later!  Of course, CLIF Kid Zbars ® are Eben’s fave hiking treat, because they’re just the right combination of sweet treat and satisfying fuel without feeling too heavy when being physically active. We do a lot of outdoor stuff together as a family, including paddleboarding, bike riding, walking, hiking, and more depending on the season and location. Making sure we all have the energy to live an active lifestyle is one of my priorities, packing in CLIF bars is just part of our routine!

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Playtime is important for a kid’s growth all year long, and shouldn’t be pushed to the side during the school year. Unfortunately, as our society gets busier and we spend more time in the digital world, active play is disappearing at home, in school, and in communities. 70% of moms (like me, and probably you, too!) played outside when they were kids, but only 31% of our kids play outside today. That’s something we should all be focused on changing. CLIF Kid understands the importance of keeping kids active, and have a great video on getting your kids outside to push their boundaries and have adventures while staying properly fueled. take the initiative in this post to combine school activities and play.

What about your kids? How do you incorporate active and creative play into their lives? I’m always interested in hearing how my readers balance their busy lives to prioritize healthy habits!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

How to Create a Natural Disaster Survival Plan

Hello, Friends! Emergency preparedness has been on my mind, since Hurricane Matthew is quickly approaching. We have lived through several category 1,2 and 3 hurricanes before, so I know how important it is to be prepared.

This week, the mister and I have been updating our family’s natural disaster survival plan, kit, and backpacks. I thought if I walk you through my process, it could be of service to some of you out there. First, I wrote a new natural disaster survival plan – this is especially important for us, since this is the first major storm we have experienced since we moved back to Florida. Read on to learn how to create your own natural disaster survival plan.

1. Review, Update + Practice
First things first, once a year you should sit down to review, update and practice your natural disaster survival plan. This is the one way that you will be able to make the necessary updates to the plan and practice makes perfect. Everyone in your family should have a role when it comes to your plan, including the kids. Some examples include choosing a designated place to meet if your family becomes separated and establishing an out-of-state emergency contact, someone everyone in your family can contact to say “I am OK! if you become separated. Please have your children memorize this number in case their cell phone goes dead.

2. Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? 
If you know about the disaster ahead of time – in cases such as; hurricanes and volcanoes, you need to quickly decide if you plan to stay or evacuate. If you live in the area that is going to be directly hit by the natural disaster, it is best to leave as soon as possible. However, leaving doesn’t mean you have to hop on an airplane or drive hundreds of miles. You usually only have to drive several miles to get out of harms way – you don’t want to get stuck on the freeway or at the airport during a natural disaster. For example, the last time we lived in Florida, when we heard that Katrina (category 1 at the time) was headed our way (we lived on the beach at that time), we grabbed our hurricane kit and backpacks and drove to a hotel (that accepted dogs) outside of the cone.  Always better safe than sorry.

3. Have a Last Resort Plan
If you decide to stay during the natural disaster and then for some reason you have to leave your home at the last minute, you need to know where to go. Have a list of shelters in close proximity that you can get to quickly and have an emergency preparedness kit and backpacks (for each member of your family) ready to grab and go, including blankets/pillows, food, change of clothing, toiletries, water, medicines, and other survival items.

4. If You Plan to Stay – Stay and Prepare
Do not wait until the natural disaster is knocking on door to prepare. For natural disasters such as hurricanes, install your hurricane shutters immediately. If you have a generator, replace the oil/gasoline and make sure you have enough to keep your generating going for several days, make sure the generator is in working order. (Remember to only run the generator outside and away from your home, this is very important, many folks have died due to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning). If you need a very long extension cord, make sure to pick on up immediately. If you need supplies to board up your home, get them now. Choose a safe room in your home that has no windows and that can shelter your family if your homes outer structure breaks apart. Great examples are inside bathrooms, closets or stairwells. Choose an out of state emergency contact, someone everyone in your family can call to say “I am OK” if you become separated from your family.

5. Prepare for Special Needs Family Members + Pets
If you have a family member that has special medical needs, contact your local emergency management department to find the local special care shelter. If you need to take a family member to the shelter, make sure that you pack enough food, water, medicines, and supplies for each person for at least three days. If you have pets, take careful consideration on what you will do if you have to go to a shelter or evacuate. Many shelters will NOT allow pets – please have alternate ideas ready in case you have to leave.

6. Prepare Your Home
After you have made all of the necessary accommodations to protect your home from the natural disaster – contact your insurance company to find out what disasters and damages your policy covers. Determine whether you need to add more coverage protection and ask yourself, would my insurance cover the costs to rebuild my home from ground zero if necessary?

7. Prepare Your Survival Kit and Backpacks 
You should have a natural disaster backpack for each member of your family. We have dedicated backpacks that are packed with all of the essentials necessary to sustain each of us and our dogs (Noodles and Olive) for at least 3 days. Included in each of our packs a blanket/pillow, two changes of clothing, toiletries, first aid kit, bug spray, flashlight, hat, vital documents, credit cards, cash, notepad/pencil, a book, card games, rain gear, and our hiking boots. We also have separate large survival kits that house our food, water, Swiss army knives, tent, paper goods/plastic cutlery, rope, solar powered radio/flashlight, extra batteries, tape, garbage bags, wipes and other supplies that will be necessary, if we have to grab and go we are prepared.

If you are in the path of Hurricane Matthew, please prepare now if you haven’t already! It is always better to be safe than sorry. Stay safe everyone!

photo via Rick McCharles

How to Make Your Own Organic Hot Apple Cider

Make Your Own Organic Hot Apple Cider

Have you checked out the price of organic apple cider at your local grocer? Wow! $7.99 a gallon. Instead, of breaking the bank, make your own! It’s perfect for filling up reusable mugs and snuggling up with your family this fall!

Ingredients:
  • 2 quarts organic apple juice
  • 1/2 cup organic brown sugar
  • Place all whole spices in a tea infuser, these will be removed before serving
  • 1 tsp organic whole allspice
  • 1 tsp organic whole cloves
  • 3 organic cinnamon sticks (broken up)
  • 1/8 tsp organic ground nutmeg

Preparation:

Stir everything together in a saucepan over medium heat until it simmers. Let it steep for 20 minutes. Remove the tea infuser and serve in mugs.

Serves: 8

Enjoy a hot cup of apple cider by the fire with a good book or your family. You could also enjoy a yummy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie to go with it.

Organic Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Eben and I are a little obsessed with pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. It’s only September 9th and we have already baked a huge batch. They are delicious. We have been baking these together since he was a toddler and now that he is a teenager, we have the recipe memorized. They make our house spell like pumpkin heaven. You should definitely make a batch – here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups organic flour
  • 1 tsp organic baking powder
  • 1 tsp organic baking soda
  • 1 tsp organic cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp organic nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup organic butter
  • 1 1/2 cups organic sugar
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla
  • 1 egg or egg replacer
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin
  • 2 cups organic chocolate chips or vegan chocolate chips

Preparation:

1. Combine organic whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and mix together.
2. Add butter and sugar in a stand mixer, mix well. Add vanilla, egg and pumpkin and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix well on medium speed. Add organic chocolate chips and stir together.
3. Bake in traditional oven at 350 degrees for 18 minutes.
4. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes and enjoy.

What is your favorite fall cookie?

 

How to Make Mealtime Less Stressful in the Busy Fall Season

How to Make Mealtime Less Stressful in the Busy Fall SeasonNOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: This article wasn’t written by me. Thank you for supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.

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With the kids heading back to school and the seasonal work picking up, preparing supper can suddenly become a great source of stress in some people’s lives. Depending on the number of people who need to be fed, your work schedule, taking care of the kids, and any other responsibilities, you may feel like cooking is a chore that is best left to a restaurant. That is, if you can afford one. Here are some tips to make mealtime at home a little less frantic and stressful.

Make a Weekly Menu
Believe it or not, trying to figure out what you are going to cook on any given night can be quite time-consuming. If you are not really sure of what to whip up, you may be stressing yourself out thinking about all your options. Everything that is associated with food and eating should be enjoyable, so try planning out a menu to follow for the whole week and see if this cuts down on your stress. Don’t use do it for yourself, keep in mind the kids too. If you plan out school lunches in advance, you can save yourself precious minutes first thing in the morning.

Prep on Sundays
Arrange your schedule so you can do all of your meal prep on Sundays. Or, if you happen to work on Sunday, put another day aside that you can devote entirely to meal prep. Don’t use that time to just prepare dinner for the week, prep breakfasts and lunches as well. If you send your kids off to school with their lunches, this kind of prep can be a life saver first thing in the morning. Just grab their lunch out of the fridge, toss it in their bags, and away they go! If you want a few days where you don’t have to cook, prepare double of what you normally do so there will periodically be leftovers to enjoy. Chop up any vegetables you need and, if necessary, separate them. Precooking and freezing meals, so you can just pop them into the oven when you are ready to eat, can be a huge time saver. Also, consider investing into a crockpot or slow cooker so, in the future, you only need to pull a prepped bag of food out of the freezer to toss into the crockpot to cook while you are at work.

Assign Roles
Get your family to help out. The kids should be home from school by the time you start on supper, so their hands should be free! On days when you are making spaghetti, delegate boiling the pasta to someone else and have another person cook the meatballs and sauce. By getting your family involved and helping out more in the kitchen, mealtime can become easier, more enjoyable, and far more efficient.

Buy Easy to Cook Foods
There is nothing wrong with enjoying making all of your meals from scratch. However, doing so does add more work to mealtime. Every now and then, go grocery shopping for easy to prepare foods. These are the kind of foods that you can simply pop into the microwave, or that you can eat straight out the package, like yogurt from Hampton Creek. Either way, easy to prepare foods or premade meals can be a lifesaver on those days where you are just too tired to put on your apron and cook.

Stay Positive
Your mood can dramatically impact your attitude about cooking. There may be many reasons why you may not be in the mood to cook, or even reasons why you dislike cooking. The back to school season can be an exhausting time. However, you should not let those moods overpower your need to stay positive. Maintaining a positive mindset about things you don’t like to do can help to make them more bearable.
Look for ways to keep yourself positive. Listen to some music while you are in the kitchen cooking, or watch one of your favorite shows. Talk with one of your friends or family while you are cooking, as long as you remember to stay attentive to what you are doing! No matter what you decide to do, remember to stay safe and never leave cooking food unattended.

With the right changes to your routine, preplanning your meals, and a little help from your family, mealtime doesn’t have to be so overwhelming and stressful. It can be fun and engaging! Advanced meal prep can also help keep your grocery budget under control as you no longer making daily trips to the store. The best part about all of this is that you’ll feel better, be less stressed, and have more energy to spend with the people that you love!

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