These Foods Could Keep Your Family From Developing Cavities

Most people say that having a beautiful smile can boost their confidence in life. But approximately 32% of people say they’re concerned about the look of their teeth… and we all know that dental care doesn’t come cheap. If you want your child to have superior oral health, it’s important to start early. But in addition to dental care tips, like regular brushing and flossing and early visits to your dentist, there may be other ways to ensure your family stays cavity-free — like the meals you make right at home.

Restrict Your Acids

Even if you’re vigilant about oral hygiene, consuming too many acidic foods or drinks can be dangerous for your teeth. In fact, the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatrics say that parents should refrain from giving juice to any child under one year old. This is mainly due to its high sugar content, but it’s an important lesson for grownups, too. Drinks with high acidity (and yes, that includes wine) can be damaging to tooth enamel and lead to increased cavities. If you or your children do indulge in sugary and/or acidic foods or drinks, be sure to get the toothbrush out right after.

Go Ham On Yams

That isn’t to say that all sweet stuff is bad. Sweet potatoes (which are actually yams) are excellent for oral health — when they’re not loaded with marshmallows, that is. This vitamin A-rich food helps with salivary function and helps to keep your mouth’s pH levels consistent, which helps to prevent tooth decay. They also have more potassium than bananas, making them a great snacking option.

Remember Whole Fruits Are Your Friend

Just because you should restrict your juice consumption doesn’t mean that fruit = bad. Firm, fibrous fruits like apples are a good option because their crunchy texture is a natural workout for your jaw. And strawberries can promote healing, which can make your gums stronger. Fiber is really important for strong teeth, and your body won’t get as many nutrients out of these items if you stick them in a smoothie. It be a convenient way to eat breakfast, but there are sometimes better ways to fuel young bodies.

Be Nutty About Nuts

Phosphorus-rich foods are tooth enamel protectors, and nuts are filled with phosphorus. In fact, one ounce of raw peanuts contains 107 mg of phosphorus. This element can help reduce cavity risk by helping our saliva to neutralize acids. So whether you like to snack on them raw or would rather spread PB on your toast, it’s definitely a tooth-friendly snack. Plus, with high levels of protein, potassium, and fiber, it’s an option that will keep you fuller for longer (and will reduce your risk of reaching for something more sugary later on).

Don’t Assume Fat Is A Bad Thing

Remember that not all fats are created equal. Avocados are a great source of healthy fat, but they also contain a lot of potassium — a mineral that can strengthen bones and keep them from breaking down. We all think of calcium as important part of strong, healthy bones, but a lack of potassium can lead to tooth decay too. You might also be surprised to learn that butter contains vitamin B12, which can promote gum health and even heal canker sores. If you don’t have enough vitamin B in your diet, you may be more prone to gum infections and subsequent tooth loss. If you’re a dairy fan, keep in mind that cheese is a great option for teeth and gums, as its calcium and B12 can protect both (and who doesn’t want an excuse to eat more cheese?).

Ultimately, it’s vital to eat everything in moderation. Too much butter, of course, won’t make for a healthy diet. But the stuff we might be inclined to see as “healthy,” like fruit juices, can actually be detrimental to our bodies — particularly developing ones. While this doesn’t mean you have to remove these foods from your diet completely, awareness is key to ensuring the foods you eat support your dental care efforts. Plus, tooth-healthy foods are generally healthy in general, meaning that you can help your family start enjoying these staples from an early age.

Helping Holidays: 4 Green Gifts That Give Back

The holidays are all about celebrating acts of giving, making it the perfect opportunity to make your gift giving smarter this season. There are so many amazing businesses out there that give back when you purchase one of their products. These companies are tied to doing good somewhere in the world every time a purchase is made. Read on for my 4 favorite gifts that give back – and if you hurry you can still get these goodies by Christmas.

1. Warby Parker Glasses
Eben and I both wear glasses and love the stylish, affordable frames from Warby Parker. For every pair of glasses that you buy, a pair is donated to a person in need. If you don’t wear glasses, that is alright – Warby Parker also offers fantastic sunglasses.

+ Warby Parker  

2. Feed Bags
I have been familiar with FEED Bags for a very long time – I remember first seeing them in Whole Foods back when we lived in Georgia! FEED Bags come in a huge selection of styles and sizes and with each purchase a portion of the proceeds go towards feeding the children of the world.

+ FEED Projects

3. TOMS Shoes
Most likely you are already familiar with TOMS shoes – for every pair you purchase a pair is donated to a child in need. With a great selection of shoes for everyone on your list, TOMS is the perfect holiday gift!

+ TOMS
4. Smile Squared
Every year I stick a toothbrush in the holiday stocking – this year I will be stuffing a brush from Smile Squared! Smile Squared is another company that donates a product to a child in need – in this case, an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush – because a healthy smile is a happy smile.

+ Smile Squared

Do you have a favorite gift to give that gives back too?

5 Green Ways to Unwind As a Family on School Nights

EcoLunchbox

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!

Compelling Reasons To Add Honey To Your Winter Healthcare Regimen

Americans consume about 1.3 pounds of honey per person per year. And while most think of the substance as nothing more than a sweet treat, there are actually a surprising number of health benefits of honey that many people overlook. Here are just a few reasons to consider adding honey to your winter healthcare regimen.

Cleans Wounds

It’s no secret that winter weather often comes with an unavoidable and imminent risk of slipping and falling on an icy sidewalk or driveway. Fortunately, the healing powers of honey can work to help you recover from any cuts or scrapes you may have after a fall or other minor injury. While it’s not a miracle cure, it’s antimicrobial properties can help keep wounds clean and heal them faster.

How exactly can you use honey to treat a wound? It’s easier than you think.

“After cleaning the wound, put honey on one side of gauze or a clean cloth, and lay it onto the wound. Or pour a thin film of honey directly onto the wound and put the gauze over that. Either way, seal the honey in with surgical or duct tape on the edges of the bandage. Clean and repeat twice a day,” explains Commonsensehome.com.

Can Improve Oral Health

Many people may be shocked to hear that despite honey’s sugar content, it still has positive oral health benefits. That’s right — the honey present in sugar does not harm your teeth — that is, as long as it’s 100% raw honey. Anything less is almost certain to be mixed with high fructose corn syrup, which is known to cause cavities like other sweeteners.

Raw honey, however, can be used as a form of tooth decay prevention in addition to treating gum disease. According to an AACD survey, virtually all adults (99.7%) surveyed believe a healthy smile is socially important, but it’s undoubtedly medically important as well. And fortunately, certain types of honey are known for their cavity prevention abilities as a result of their microbial properties.

Furthermore, if you have an infection or inflamed area in your mouth, honey can work its antibacterial magic to ease pain and discomfort associated with the infection and help to flush out the bad bacteria that caused it.

Don’t Forget…

Unfortunately, not all honey is created equal. The key to reaping these fantastic health benefits of honey is investing in the right type of honey. As mentioned earlier, it has to be completely raw honey with no fillers such as high fructose corn syrup. Ultra-filtrated honey should also be avoided, since the process of refining it removes many of its healing properties.

Finally, it’s ideal to know exactly where your honey comes from. Always try to buy locally to ensure that your honey is not being altered or processed in any way.

According to current data, the U.S. needs about 52,000 more primary care physicians by 2025 to meet our healthcare needs, and even though honey isn’t necessarily a miracle cure, you never know if it could save you a trip to a healthcare professional this season. Of course, for more severe injuries and health issues, it’s always best to consult a doctor before attempting any DIY treatments.