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Anti-Inflammatory Foods To Try This Winter

While it can be easy to spend the summer grazing on healthy fruits and veggies, winter does not lend itself quite as nicely to a fresh foods diet. As the weather turns chilly, people often turn to high-carbohydrate and starchy foods. And without the necessary balance of nutrients, the body can be prone to more inflammation. For the 50 million people who have arthritis especially, this can be painful and can lead to further health conditions.

“There are times when inflammation actually helps us,” Dawna Stone writes in Mind Body Green. “For example, it can be the body’s natural response to eliminate or repair an injury or the body’s response to harmful bacteria. But when things get out of balance and inflammation becomes chronic, it can increase the risk of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis and cause symptoms like fatigue and joint pain.”

Fortunately, winter is not totally void of inflammation-fighting foods. The following are some seasonal ingredients that you can cook with to boost your health this season.

  1. Brussels Sprouts
    These bunches of green goodness are packed with both fiber and vitamin C. They are also rich in glucosinolate and folate, so they can fight inflammation while keeping you healthier overall. Roast them in the oven to eat as a side or toss them in a salad.
  2. Kale
    This superfood has earned its name, offering high doses of vitamins A, C, B6, and K. By munching on these leaves, you are also helping your body’s ability to eliminate free radicals. Try kale raw or cooked in any of your favorite winter dishes.
  3. Butternut Squash
    When it comes to eating the rainbow, butternut squash is one of the best ways to get the color orange. Full of fiber, as well as vitamins A and C, this sweet seasonal veggie can add antioxidants and fiber to your diet.
  4. Turnips
    While these root veggies may not frequent your dishes, turnips are a tasty way to maintain a low cholesterol diet. They also offer a boost of Vitamin C, which can help protect your immune system this season. Don’t just stop at the root though; turnip greens are tasty as well.
  5. Citrus
    Stock up on oranges this time of year. These juicy fruits are in season during the Winter, giving you all the more reason to get your full supply of vitamin C.

By combining anti-inflammatory foods with other care methods, you can control your join pain and other aspects of your health this winter. For example, about 89% of consumers cite massage as an effective pain-management technique. Remember that much of your own well being is in your hands, so try various methods out until you feel your best.

Give the Gift of Experience This Holiday Season + 5 Ideas

Give the Gift of Experience This Holiday Season + 5 Ideas

Hello, Friends! Can you believe Christmas is only a handful of days away? If you haven’t finished your holiday shopping, you are officially a last-minute shopper! No worries, you can still surprise everyone on your holiday list and those gifts can be eco-friendly too! Read on to discover five of my favorite last minute holiday gifts that don’t require you to even leave the comfort of your sofa.

1. Give the Gift of Experience
One of my favorite gifts to give is the gift of experience. A few years ago I gave the mister scuba diving lessons and this year part of Eben’s holiday gift is art lessons. I have given the gift of annual memberships to botanic gardens and science museums. The possibilities are endless, just consider what your recipient enjoys and go from there.

2. Give a Gift that Helps Someone Else
Have a do-gooder on your holiday list? Consider giving a gift certificate to Kiva – your recipient will go through a list of loan applicants and pick a hard-working borrower to give a micro-loan too. This is a great way to help entrepreneurs in other countries who need a little help, the best part when the entrepreneur pays the loan back, you get to re-loan the funds to another entrepreneur!

3. Give the Gift of Your Time
I was telling the mister the other day that the best gift that I could ever receive is the gift of someone offering to take Eben for the weekend. Since we live very far away from most of Eben’s grandparents, we have never left him for a long weekend. Wouldn’t a romantic long weekend with your loved one be the perfect gift! The possibilities here are endless as well, just think of something that you can do for someone else and wrap that up as a gift.

4. Give the Gift of Nature
I love to receive a gift in the form of a living plant or something that can be planted in the yard. Even better when the plant is of edible variety. Eben and I gave the mister a lemon tree one year as a birthday gift – and it is a gift that he seriously enjoys every day. He is always watering, pruning and checking for lemons – and seeing how much the tree has grown is a delight. Plus, giving him lemonade all year long has been a sweet gift that he really enjoys.

5. Give the Gift of Your Expertise
Are you a fantastic chef? Can you sew a mean pair of pajamas? Are you great at web design? A beautiful photographer? Whatever it is that you are an expert at consider giving that as a gift this holiday season. If you are a fantastic cook, arrive at your recipients home with all of the ingredients necessary to cook a fabulous meal for them. Spend the time teaching your recipient how to prepare and cook the meal and then enjoy it together!

Do you give the gift of experience during the holidays? I would love to hear about the gifts you are giving this holiday season.

5 Green Ways to Unwind As a Family on School Nights

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With tests, sports, homework, and lessons, after school schedules during the school year can get hectic quickly. Eben is a now a junior in high school which means his evenings are full of National Honor Society meetings, volunteer projects, homework, and tutoring. So, I would say that our schedule feels a little overwhelming right now. If you spend the school year wondering what’s your spouse and kids are up to, try these 5 tips for unwinding and reconnecting as a family on school nights.

#1 Family Dinner or Breakfast
Even if everyone in the house has a different schedule, try your best to sit down as a family even for 30 minutes to eat dinner or breakfast – whichever works best for your schedule. There’s no need for elaborate meals if you’re pressed for time—the important thing is that everyone sit down together to share what happened during the day and reconnect. The mister has Fridays off – so we always sit down together for a big breakfast before Eben heads off to school – it makes Friday a little more special.

#2 Walks Around the Neighborhood
After-dinner winter walks are so refreshing and relaxing at the same time. Grab your parka and boots and trek around your neighborhood. Kids can learn about the changing seasons and all of the animals that only come out at dusk, you can even look for animal tracks in the snow—make sure you bring your flashlight and teach kids nighttime outdoors safety like wearing a blinking light or reflectors if you’ll be out near dark. You and your kids will also sneak in a little exercise and will probably sleep better since you’ll be tuning your circadian rhythms by going out in the evening.

#3 Let the Kids Pick 
Eben has always been really into reading manga and watching anime. When he started to get a little older, I quickly realized that if I was going to bond with him as a young adult, I better learn as much as I could about both. It is really one of the best choices that I ever made as a mother, it paid off in a huge way. Eben and I have been watching anime and reading manga together for several years. Even now that he is almost 17, our anime time is something that we do together every single night. We look forward to it, and it gives us a ton of stuff to talk about on a regular basis. Not to mention, I found out that I love anime/manga and without Eben being into it – I might have never figured that out.

#4 Do Homework Together
During times when everyone’s just too busy to relax together you can still connect with your kids by sitting down and offering homework help (if your kids need it!). Just because you aren’t conversing about the day’s events doesn’t mean that you’re not connecting and learning from one another. Kids learn a lot from how their parents offer help and encouragement. Eben doesn’t need my help – however, I still sit quietly next to him catching up on my reading while he works, that way I still get the opportunity to be near him and offer assistance if he needs it.

#5 Offer to Coach
A great way to spend time with your kids in a different setting (and learn a little about them!) after school is by offering to coach their sports team, become a scout leader, or head up an extra-curricular club. The mister takes Eben and his best friend to Yugioh tournaments every single Saturday. You’ll get a chance to dusk off some old skills and will also have an opportunity to see how your kids interact with others and parent them in a new and different context.

What’s your favorite green activity to do to connect as a family on school nights?

3 Smart Strategies For Creating An Eco-Friendly Home Office

When it comes to home renovations, many homeowners assume that the biggest ROI comes from kitchen and bathroom remodeling jobs. In fact, experts say that bathroom additions alone offer an average ROI of 86.4%. But before you decide exactly which area of your home is ready for a remodeling job, you should be aware that home offices are a major asset that are growing in popularity. About 67% of professionals agree that working remotely is productive, and by taking a few small steps, you can create a picture perfect and eco-friendly home office that can serve as both a productive space and a major selling point should you decide to put your home up for sale. Here are just a few tips for creating the eco-friendly home office you’ve always dreamed of.

Consider Window Replacement/Insulation

New windows can lower energy bills. In fact, depending on where you live, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that you can save up to $501 a year by replacing old single-pane windows with new Energy Star approved models. With this in mind, it only makes sense to either add insulation or replace your home’s windows, if possible.

If new windows are out of the question, don’t rule out the idea of getting Energy Star savings just yet! Experts say that there are countless office appliances with Energy Star labels that can help you save big over the long term.

“If you’re buying new office equipment, look for products with the Energy Star label. They’re designed to save a lot more energy than products without the label,” Jennifer Roberts, author of Good Green Homes, told ThisOldHouse.com.

Invest In Small Solar Panels Or Lights

If your home office has subpar lighting, investing in one or two small solar panels is an innovative way to conserve energy and create ambience inside your office.

Tube lights are ideal for full lighting, and they’re easy to connect to a reflective dome on your roof to get set up. They work by trapping sunlight and transferring it via the tube to fully illuminate your eco-friendly office. Just make sure to decide on the right path from your roof to your office’s ceiling to avoid affecting cables, plumbing, and duct work.

Solar powered LED lights, on the other hand, are better for illuminating just your desk area. Modernize.com says they have a number of advantages of traditional lighting.

“You won’t have to strain every time you read or work on your computer, which will also help avoid eye strain and decreased productivity. Solar-powered lights are attached to electric panels. They have batteries at their bases, which can provide power for an entire day if fully charged,” writes Ronique Gibson on Modernize.com.

Establish A Paper And Plastic Recycling Routine

With the availability of recycling programs nationwide, there’s really no reason all homes shouldn’t be prioritizing an efficient way to make sure all their recyclable get to the proper place. This includes not only paper, but plastic, considering the fact that Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. One of the easiest ways to simplify recycling is to keep two separate bins — one for paper and one for plastic — and sort all refuse each week. Don’t forget to check all labels to make sure you’re recycling everything possible. Even things like printer ink bottles can sometimes be recycled!

Ultimately, understanding these techniques for maintaining an eco-friendly home office is the key to staying productive and preserving the potential for ROI. Eco-friendly home offices are proof that any room in your home can be transitioned into a sustainable and enjoyable living space!

5 Budget and Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Shopping Tips

5 Budget and Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Shopping Tips Sweet Greens

While this time of the year is the most wonderful  – it is also the busiest. You may feel like there are so many things that you need to prepare and buy and deciding where to start can be overwhelming. Instead of getting things done ahead of time, many of us tell ourselves we will get everything done when the holidays get closer. Then, the next thing you know the holidays are upon us and we end of spending too much money, getting completely stressed out, and not making the best choices – not exactly the feelings that you want to experience. It happens to the best of us, right?To get your holiday shopping off on the right foot, I thought I would share my favorite budget and eco-friendly holiday shopping tips. These are all tips that I use every year to make sure that this time of the year is definitely the most wonderful without breaking the bank or losing my head!

1. Make a List – Check it Twice
Every year, I create a simple holiday gift list in my iPhone. It includes the name of everyone on my holiday shopping list, gift ideas for each of them and my spending limit per person. Since my list is on my phone, I can consult and update it at anytime. Then, I mark off each person as I finish their holiday gift shopping. This has saved me a lot of time and money and I never have to ask myself – did a buy a gift for so and so? Or, how many gifts did I buy for Eben or the mister? I just check the list and I am done!

2. Start Early
The earlier that you start your holiday shopping, the better. Just think, if you finish all of your holiday shopping early, you can spend the day after Thanksgiving at home, snuggled up with your family and a yummy warm beverage. I can’t think of anything more stress-free then having all of the holiday shopping done before December even arrives. It really frees up all of December to focus on making fun memories with my family. This is another place that #1 comes in, if you shop early picking up items when you find them on sale – you save a ton of money.

3. Shop Locally
Instead of hitting the closest big box store this holiday season, consider supporting small, independently owned businesses. Many towns have a shopping area that is filled with adorable shops that focus on the work of local artisans and many have eco-friendly options. In my opinion, a handmade gift is the best gift! You could also give a gift from your local farm, such as; fresh vegetables, fruits or dairy items. Another option is to check out Etsy for fantastic handmade goods, you can click here to shop Etsy shops located in your local area.

4. It’s All About Quality
Each year, I like to focus on purchasing the mister and Eben quality gifts that they will enjoy for years and years to come. I focus on items that I think they will really enjoy and steer clear of items that are disposable, or would only be enjoyed temporarily. My favorite items to purchase for them include; books, experiences (see below), heirloom quality items that they will keep forever and gifts that focus on their favorite hobbies.

5. Give the Gift of Experience
I am a huge fan of giving the gift of experience, some that I have given in the past include annual passes to local nature and science museums, state parks, botanical gardens, art centers and even scuba lessons. I think gifts that allow the recipient to learn something new or go to place they have always wanted to see builds memories and brings much more happiness long-term than any material gift could ever could. Plus, it’s just another excuse to spend more quality time with my family – and that is the best gift of all.

What are your favorite holiday shopping tips? Please share them in the comments section – I would love to hear!