Archive | HEALTH AND WELLNESS

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!

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.)

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