Archive | HEALTH AND WELLNESS

Healthy Lunchtime Snacks to Pack for Going Back to School

Healthy-Snacks

Fall is right around the corner, and that means it’s back to school for children, teens, and young adults across the country. Eben started almost two weeks ago! For parents, that means it’s time to handle getting lunches packed, balanced breakfasts on the table, and sleepyheads out of bed!

I always get a wonderful nostalgic feeling from the end of summer, back-to-school time. It always reinvigorates me, and makes me excited to try new things and make changes in my life, even though my own schooldays are long past. I think part of this has definitely been from raising my wonderful son, Eben. Watching him go through the process of starting a new grade each year has been so rewarding and inspiring. I always want to support him and his efforts at school, and part of that means making sure he’s well fed and properly fueled so his brain can do all that learning each day.

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One of the things I like to try and do each year is come up with new types of healthy snacks to pack in his lunch bag. Kids always seem drawn to any kind of single-serving snacks, and fun foods—just think about those awful packaged varieties that your kids have probably begged you to buy while shopping. Packing the same things all the time gets boring, and doesn’t offer much variety in terms of vitamins and minerals, which only eating a broad diet can do. Now that Eben is a sophomore in high school, he needs more fuel throughout the day, so I pack him a variety of snacks. If you’re stumped for new ideas when packing lunches, here are some of Eben’s favorites, which I’m sure your kids will love, too:

  • Fruit Skewers: Use whatever fruits you have on hand (melons, apples, clementines, grapes, etc.) and stick bite-sized chunks onto wooden skewers, or reusable plastic or metal skewers if you want to be extra eco-conscious. These colorful snacks are fun to eat and easy to share with friends at school!
  • Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter & Pretzels: These fun, dippable snacks make eating healthy nut butter a breeze. Eben loves these so much he had already gone through the package of them before school started! Like a healthier version of Nutella, these snacks feel like an indulgence, but they’re made from high quality, all-natural ingredients, with a focus on sustainability. Definitely a winner!
  • Fruit and Vegetable Chips: Whether you choose to make these in the oven, dehydrator, or buy them from your local health food store (such a variety is available these days!), fruit or vegetable chips are a great way of making healthy eating fun and delicious for kids. The possibilities are endless: apples, sweet potatoes, kale, zucchini, eggplant, all with any combination of flavored salts, herbs, and spices.
  • Stonyfield Organics YoKids Squeezers: This squeezable yogurt is both healthy and tasty. Eben loves the Cherry and Berry flavor pack, and they never come home uneaten when I pack them in his lunch! As with all of the Stonyfield products, they are organic certified by the USDA and made with pasture raised milk.
  • Nuts and Seeds: I buy organic nuts and seeds in bulk at Costco and pack them in Eben’s lunch every day. They are the perfect snack to grab right before a big test or for an after lunch pick me up!
  • Homemade Granola Bars: Unlike their store bought counterparts, when you make granola bars at home, you don’t need to add any processed sugars, and can control exactly what goes into them. There are endless healthy granola bar recipes online, and I guarantee at least one of them can be made with whatever you have in your cupboards right now!

PackIt Lunch BagOne of the products that has really changed the way I pack school lunches is actually a bag. The PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag is so clever in its design. You never have to hunt in your freezer for an ice pack, or worry about one bursting and leaking all over your child’s lunch again! This bag can go directly into the freezer each night after being emptied and wiped down, and is ready to go in the morning.

I never have to worry about packing perishables in a school lunch because I know the fantastic insulation on this bag will keep things cold all morning and well into the afternoon! Plus I love that they’re made with durable materials and are still very affordable. Definitely the best lunch bags out there. My family has been using them for years now, and we all love them.

What about you? Do you have any favorite back-to-school snack ideas that your kids devour? Or any packing secrets or life-changing products you can’t do without? I’d love to hear about them—the more inspiration, the better!

 

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

Bootler is Revolutionizing Healthy Meal Delivery

Bootler is Revolutionizing Healthy Meal Delivery

Back to school is right around the corner! If you are like most parents, you’ve probably felt the pull of delivery pizza or Chinese food on those busy back-to-school nights where you just don’t have time to cook. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to just pick up the phone and have someone bring hot food straight to your door? Of course, if you’re like me, you probably don’t feel so hot the day after eating too much processed, unhealthy food. If only it were that simple to get a healthy, organic, vegetarian (or vegan!) meal delivered, freshly prepared and ready to eat. With the explosion of internet-based food delivery services, it is actually possible to have this option, though it can be frustrating to figure out which service to use in order to get your favorite organic restaurants to deliver, as they’re all associated with different ones. Enter Bootler, the aggregation service that changes everything.

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Bootler is essentially a search engine for delivery food. Basically, they work with multiple different delivery services, allowing users to pick a restaurant and then compare prices, availability and delivery time. This saves you both time and money when trying to get good, healthy delivery options. Although there is still more typical fare available, Bootler lets you find the largest selection of healthy and organic restaurant options. Interestingly enough, you can also order alcohol from them if you feel like having a bottle of wine or a craft beer with your meal. Alcohol comes from a delivery service called ‘Saucey’ which they are partnered with.

Bootler is not the delivery company; they only bring together other delivery companies and then redirect you to the appropriate website when you’ve decided on your order. You may have used a similar service before to book flights. Similar to Kayak.com, you book the flight through Kayak, but you fly with American Airlines, Delta, or whichever other company is offering the best flight deal. This way you can get healthy, organic, and vegan or vegetarian food options delivered at competitive prices and with the shortest wait time.

I know if I were located in Chicago (which is currently the only city they’re available in) I would be using this service to eat healthy, organic take-out food at home instead of just ordering a pizza on Friday night. Luckily once they’re out of beta, they plan on expanding to NYC by the end of the year and more major cities soon after. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for their expansion into Florida, that’s for sure!

If you are lucky enough to live in the Chicago area, I’ve got two coupon codes that you can use with Bootler‘s delivery partners:

  • Use “Saucey” to receive $10 off your alcohol order.
  • Use “Bootler” to receive $10 off your food order from Postmates.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve used Bootler (or a similar service in your city) in the past, and what your favorite healthy delivery meal options are. I’d love to know how you found your experience with the service!

 

This post is sponsored by Bootler – all opinions expressed are my own.

Cameron’s Specialty Coffee: BetterBrew Eco Coffee Pod Review

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Love the convenience of single-use coffee pods but not their environmental impact? Me too! Today I am excited to share a more eco-friendly alternative to a traditional “k-cup”, which I think will be of interest to any of you readers who regularly spend time in locations which only offer Keurig-style coffee machines. I, myself have enjoyed using this alternative when traveling, it really is the only option other than going out to a coffee shop and getting an overpriced latte in a disposable cup. No thank you!

Cameron’s Specialty Coffee had the earth in mind when they designed a compostable alternative to the plastic pods which are so regularly used by most brands who offer these single-serve coffee pod options. It was the next logical step in Cameron’s commitment to being one of the greenest coffee roasters in the world. I took three of their BetterBrew Eco Coffee Pod flavors: Kona Blend, Organic French Roast, and Vanilla Hazelnut with me on a recent trip to Montana. I was excited to see a company thinking about how to make these disposable products a little less damaging.

Traditional plastic k-cups are starting to fill up landfills around the world, despite being a relatively recent innovation. They’re one of the fastest growing types of disposable plastic waste products; current levels of production make enough K-Cups in one year to circle the planet over 10 times! Cameron’s Specialty Coffee has introduced these single serve pods that work in your Keurig-type machine and use compostable materials—from the lid made from paper to rings made from corn, beets, and wood rather than plastics. These materials will return to the earth within 90 days, which is an incredible improvement from the decades or centuries it can take some types of plastic pods to break down!

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Instead of plastics which can also leech chemicals into your coffee when hot water is forced through them, the BetterBrew Eco Coffee Pod uses a filter, just like the way a standard percolator coffee is brewed. Beyond coming up with a more eco-friendly single serve pod, Cameron’s also roasts their beans in the most energy efficient ways. They’re dedicated to eliminating as much water waste in production as possible, which is definitely more ecologically responsible than the average coffee company.

One of the things which most interested me in the BetterBrew Eco Coffee Pods was the fact that they’re organic. Cameron’s also invests in sustainable sourcing by buying Organic, Rainforest Alliance, and Shade Grown coffees sourced from farms in some of the most remote areas of the world. Most places that I stay when traveling only have Keurig-type coffee makers, and I like to be able to still have organic coffee when I’m on the go. The fact that these are also compostable really won me over for my travel coffee needs.

What do you think? Would a greener alternative to plastic coffee pods be useful in your life? Would you visit Cameron’s Coffee and make the #BetterTasteLessWaste pledge to reduce plastic waste?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

This post is sponsored by Cameron’s Specialty Coffee – all opinions expressed are my own.

Wild Selections® Solid White Albacore Tuna is Perfect for Lunch!

Wild Selections® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water 1

Since I am so busy during the week, I really don’t have time to stop in the middle of my work day to make lunch. This means that I have had to come up with several make-ahead lunches that I can grab in between conference calls and projects. One of my favorites is Wild Selection® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water on a bed of lettuce. Wild Selection® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water is one of my favorites because inside you will find delicious, delicate tuna that comes from all-natural sources. There are three ingredients: white tuna, water, and salt. That’s it! Every can of tuna is Non-GMO verified too. Now, I obviously love the product, but what really gets me feeling passionate is the philosophy of the company behind the fish!

People talk a lot about sustainability nowadays but for the folks at Wild Selections, it is their entire business model. The entire product line is the only one in the world that is Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified as sustainable seafood. You can trust that the blue MSC eco-label on every can means that the fish inside only comes from well managed fisheries and healthy fish stocks. For even more proof, just log onto the Wild Selections website and actually see where the fish in your can was caught! If we want our oceans to be teeming with life in the future, everyone should start to follow Wild Selections’ lead.

Wild Selections® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water

Their commitment to ocean health and sustainability goes beyond just their products. For every can of Wild Selection Premium Seafood sold, they donate 13 cents to the World Wildlife Fund for marine conservation and to fishery improvement projects all over America. Wild Selections projects that by 2018, they will have donated a total of $1 Million towards saving our oceans. Partnerships between companies like Wild Selection and organizations like the World Wildlife Fund are helping lead the way to a sustainable tomorrow.

Wild Selections wants to make it as easy as possible for you to find their fantastic products. Check out their store locator to find stores where Wild Selections Seafood is sold. There are many other products available, including salmon, sardines, and shrimp. And you can be sure that every one is as environmentally friendly as their tuna!

Wild-Selections®-Solid-WhitIf you want to learn more about how Wild Selections is helping to save our oceans with sustainable fishing, you can check out this infographic. Or you could visit their YouTube Channel to learn more about their partnership with the World Wildlife Fund and Marine Stewardship Council.

When all is said and done, it is just a delicious product. And one that will help you do your part to save our planet. You can’t ask for more than that!

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

The 5 Most Polluted Seas in the World

The 5 Most Polluted Seas in the World

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: This article wasn’t written by me. GD Environmental is a specialist waste collection and disposal company based in South Wales. Its aim is to improve local waste management by recycling more than 96% of all waste it collects, so if you’d like to see how many of your items are recycled, pay one of its centers a visit and see the magic at work! Thank you for supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.

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We all know that recycling is important and as safe waste management processes have grown in use over the past few years, many of our streets and much of our countryside now look cleaner than ever. But what about the areas of the world we don’t see on a regular basis, like underground at landfill sites or far out to sea?

Here we take a look at 5 of the most polluted seas in the world, what’s causing the rubbish pile up and what is being done to tackle this issue head on:

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  1. The Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Mexico and North Atlantic)
    As the second largest expanse of water (after the Pacific Ocean) it is unsurprising that the Atlantic Ocean is home to some of the world’s worst pockets of pollution. One of which is centered on the basin in the Gulf of Mexico.This enclosed section, surrounded by the USA, Mexico and Cuba, is known as one of the largest dead zones in the world. The water in the Gulf is highly polluted with nitrogen and phosphorous which has come from American agricultural practices. This means the water is hypoxic (low in oxygen) and fish cannot survive here.The North Atlantic is also highly polluted. The North Atlantic Garbage Patch is essentially a gigantic rubbish island which floats around in the North Atlantic Gyre. First discovered in 1972, the Patch has continued to grow and scientists now believe it is hundreds of miles wide with more than 200,000 pieces of waste per square mile.

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  1. Indian Ocean
    According to the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX), the Indian Ocean is extremely polluted, with nearly 4 million square miles of coverage. Scientists also claim that tropical cyclones are increasingly common in the Arabian Sea (part of the Indian Ocean) as a result of this pollution.In 2010, a monstrous plastic and chemical sludge patch was found floating in the Indian Ocean and is now categorized as the third largest of its kind in the world.

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  1. Mediterranean Sea
    Many of us may be found sunbathing on the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea during the summer months, but did you know the Mediterranean is one of the most polluted oceans in the world?According to The United Nations Environment Program, there is 650 million tons of sewage and a combined 230,000 tons of mineral oil, mercury, lead and phosphates dumped into the Mediterranean Sea each year.

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  1. Baltic Sea
    Overfishing and pollution mean species living in the Baltic Sea are at extreme risk. Along with oil spills, these threats have resulted in more than half of all fish species here being categorized as at a critical level. As a result the Finish government has rationed some types to avoid extinction.

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  1. Caribbean Sea
    Another part of the world known for its beautiful sandy beaches, the Caribbean in the north of the Atlantic Ocean is recognized as one of the world’s worst affected areas by human activity. Waste and chemical pollution, oil spills, over-fishing and climate change all mean that marine life here is slowly dying off.

Cleaning the Seas One Bottle at a Time

From floating plastic bottle islands to chemical-induced hypoxic waters, all of this damage is man-made. So, it is our responsibility to rectify it and put things back the way they were.

One simple way you can help save our seas is to recycle more, because the less waste there is, the less likely it is to be dumped. And if you will be using chemicals on your garden or agricultural land, make sure to use non-toxic alternatives. If you’d like to be even more hands on and you’re unhappy with the state of your local beach, why not sign up to become a litter picker along the shoreline this summer?

If everyone made a small effort today, the cleanliness of our seas could benefit hugely.

(Information taken from IBTimes UK report here.)

3 Good Reasons to Consider Making Sustainable Fish a Part of Your Meal Plan

3 Good Reasons to Consider Making Sustainable Fish a Part of Your Meal PlanA Note from Sweet Greens: This post wasn’t written by me – thank you for supporting the companies that support Sweet Greens.

If you’re like me, part of kicking off a new week involves sitting down and planning out meals for the week ahead. Not only does it make it easier for me to get all my grocery shopping done in one trip, but it allows me to feel less stressed during the day knowing that I already have everything I need to whip up a quick and tasty meal for the family. It takes a little while to get into the habit, but once you’ve got it down, you’ll wonder why you weren’t already planning your meals in advance!

That doesn’t mean it isn’t sometimes still challenging to get enough variety into your diet, though. Many of us can slip into a groove where cooking the same foods week after week is both effortless and comforting, so we never try new things. I know this is what kept me from adding fish into our weekly plan for a long time! However, there are some pretty excellent reasons to consider making the change. Once you think about the benefits, it’s practically a no-brainer! But what exactly makes fish a good fit for your next week’s meals? Here’s what sold me on the idea.

  1. Eating fish in moderation comes with measurable health benefits. It’s no secret that fish is chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, which doctors say keeps your heart healthy, but those acids also play a significant role in a young child’s brain development. If you’d prefer not to take fish oil supplements, adding fish into your weekly diet provides a simple, easy way to get those vital nutrients.
  1. There are now sustainable seafood sources of seafood on the internet. What is the difference between sustainable and wild caught? According to the National Resources Defense Council, “The health of different species varies by fishery. Alaskan seafood such as salmon and halibut, when caught in sustainable ways, is generally good for you and the environment. Use the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide to learn which fisheries provide the most sustainable seafood choices.”
  1. These sustainable sources can come right to your door with little difference over fresh fish.Rapid shipping and refrigeration technology combine to get fresh seafood delivered to your door. How amazing is that? You can even buy Alaskan seafood, including wild Alaskan salmon — a prime source of omega-3s. Just one serving delivers the equivalent of three days of fish oil capsules! Wild salmon is even better for you than farm-raised, so having a convenient way to obtain it is just incredible.
  2. Fish like salmon are extremely easy to prepare in simple, healthy ways. Maybe you’ve been hesitant to put fish into your plan because you aren’t sure how to cook it. Don’t worry! Salmon especially, is easy to prepare. Even on my busiest days, it’s not hard to throw some fresh salmon into a tinfoil pouch with herbs, olive oil, and lemon. The foil pouch even acts as a serving tray – just throw it away after dinner! Who doesn’t love skipping the hassle of doing the dishes?

With all of that in mind, the choice to keep fish on the menu each week for my family was a simple one. Plus, when it’s just so easy to get fresh scallops, crab, fish, and even lobster delivered fresh, it’s hard to resist all the tempting dinner possibilities!

Next time you sit down to plan your weekly meals, give fish a second chance. Experiment with seafood more often and you might discover a brand new family favorite! Don’t forget to download my free meal plan sheet to make the process even easier. Use it to plan your next trip to the supermarket for all kinds of tasty side dishes to accompany fish!

Giveaway: #JustBeYou with Oh My Yog and prAna

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Every morning my alarm clock goes off at 5:35 a.m. with just enough time to grab my favorite prAna yoga clothes to get to the studio for my 6 a.m. hot yoga class. As I have shared before, hot yoga has saved my life and business, and I couldn’t image not starting my day with those amazing 90 minutes.

When I get home from class, I get ready to start my business day by grabbing a cup of hot chai and an apple cinnamon Oh My Yog. It’s my go-to fall morning breakfast and the perfect fuel for starting my work day.

Prana Yoga Giveaway 2

As a busy entrepreneur that not only blogs here at Sweet Greens but that runs a very busy virtual assistant firm, I don’t have a lot of time to fuss over my daily attire. I need clothes that are comfy for sitting/standing at my desk all day, but that can easily transition to hitting the gym with Eben or walking the dogs with the mister in the afternoon. That’s why prAna is one of my fave brands! Whether I am working in my office all day, hitting the farmer’s market or yoga studio, I am always comfortable and ready for fun.

Today, prAna and Stonyfield have joined together to offer one of my lucky readers the chance to win 1 item from prAna’s organic cotton collection. That’s right! You can pick any item you want up to $99. So whether you are a yogi like me, or you just need a really great pair of organic jeans to run your kids to soccer practice, this giveaway is for you.

And even if you don’t win, you can get 15% off at prAna.com using the coupon code JBYF15MSG valid Nov 1 – Dec
15, 2015.

To enter, leave a comment telling me how you #JustBeYou – winner will be announced on November 16th!

Good Luck!

This post is sponsored by Stonyfield and prAna – all opinions expressed are my own.

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