Tag Archives | green families

How to Make Organic Instant Oatmeal for Cool Fall Mornings

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 a better 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 a cool, crisp fall morning – top with honey too!

7 Simple, Fun Eco-Friendly Ways to Spend Fall with Your Family

Happy 1st Day of Fall! 

I love fall – it is my favorite season and my favorite time of year! What’s not to love? We are at our mountain home in North Carolina right now and it is fall perfection! The cooler weather, morning hikes, snuggles by the fire, chai tea, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin everything. Looking for some fall inspo?

Here are 7 simple, fun eco-friendly ways to inspire you!

1. Take a Listening Hike
One of my favorite fall activities is hiking! And one of my favorite ways to enjoy a hike is when we take what we like to call “a silent hike.” A silent hike is just that – we hike together as a family in complete silence. It’s amazing how the act of simply being quiet and listening can have a huge impact on your hiking experience. There have been many times that we come upon an animal grazing or fish swimming in a creek – it’s amazing. We also like to stop along the way to listen to the rustling of the trees, the chirping of the birds, or to watch leaves quietly wafting to the ground. It is a great time to reflect within too, while still being with the ones you love.

2. Take It Outside
Fall is the perfect time to take whatever you are doing – outside! The mister and I start every morning by taking the dogs on a hike right out our backdoor. It’s quiet and there are always a ton of deer and turkeys around every corner. I also LOVE to take my tea and blanket and head out to the back porch to snuggle by the fire table while listening to the bubbling of the creek. 

3. Slow It Down
Now that school is back in session, you have to admit that you are much busier than you were all summer. I know that if something isn’t on my schedule, it probably isn’t going to happen. This is why during the fall months, we really take extra consideration to slow things down at our home. We like to schedule extra time in the morning and afternoon, just to be. We usually spend this time snuggled up chatting about our upcoming adventures.

4. Get Centered
Along with slowing down, fall is a great time to get centered. Spend time each day doing whatever it is that makes you feel connected and centered. For the mister, this means yardwork – he loves to get outside in the North Carolina fresh air and work in the yard. For Eben, this means a hot cup of cocoa and a really good book on the back deck (it’s his happy place!) For me, I like to snuggle down with my iPad to pin my favorite eco-friendly things (usually on the back deck with Eben when he’s here with us!) or end the day with a soak in the hot tub! 

5. Plan Ahead
One thing that I have definitely learned along the way is that it is super important to enjoy the moment. To ensure that every moment of fall is enjoyable for my family, I like to plan ahead. I sit down with my journal and jot down things that I really want our family to do together during the fall. I include all of our traditional fall family activities, as well as new ideas that I can run by the guys (when Eben is home from college). The idea is that if I plan these activities ahead of time, we spend the time we have together doing fun things together without much thought – since everything was planned well in advance.

6. Find an Adventure
One of my favorite parts of fall is the cooler weather – which always equals more time outside. We always schedule a trip to our mountain home during the fall season. I HAVE to visit the pumpkin patches! We really enjoy the cooler days spent outside, followed by the crisp nights roasting marshmallows over the fire!

7. Get Cozy
Fall is a great time to reconnect with family and friends. Our best friends are visiting us next week while we’re still here in North Carolina. We have all kinds of fun things planned: bike rides, hikes (of course), visiting our surrounding small town, and peeping all of the leaves (they are already starting to turn colors!)

In what ways do you plan to spend fall with your family?

6 Healthy Back To School Lunchtime Snacks

 

Fall is right around the corner, and that means it’s back to school for children, teens, and young adults across the country. 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 Eben! 

Watching him go through the process of starting a new grade each year has been so rewarding and inspiring (and now, he’s applying to Graduate School, can you believe it!) 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 (at least until he leaves us!)

One of the things I like to try and do each year is come up with new types of healthy snacks. 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.

If you’re stumped for new ideas when packing lunches, here are some of our 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: This 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!

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!

4 Benefits of Growing and Cooking Your Own Food

Food is one of the most important basic needs, so it’s important to ensure you and your family get the best food. One way to do this is to start growing and cooking your own food. Read on to see four benefits you can get from growing and cooking your own food at home.

1. You’re Sure of What You’re Eating

When you grow your own food, you’re more sure of what goes into your food. This is important for you and your family’s health as it reduces the risk of consuming unsafe food products. This is evidenced by the fact that there are recalls every now and then after particular foods are found to be harmful, contaminated, or that don’t meet health standards. For example, the largest food recall in history was issued in 2008, leading to a recall of more than 3,200 products. Most crops are easy enough to grow and you can search for and find fun recipes to make on the internet. This would be a great decision to make for the sake of your continued good health.

2. You Spend More Time Outdoors

It’s always beneficial to spend more time outdoors as it can boost your mood quickly and easily. If you have a garden, it can be a lot easier for you to spend time outdoors in a productive way. The effort you make to plant, tend to, and harvest the food you grow will be great exercise for you as well. The fact that you can involve your whole family in gardening at home makes it a great activity to do as well, so you should think about getting a small shovel or other gardening tools for each member of your family and invite them to join you on a few gardening trips.

3. You Can Learn New Methods of Doing Things

Cooking your own food can become the best way to learn a new skill and gain more knowledge than you currently have. For instance, if you want to cook with wood, according to Food and Wine, you should look for wood that has been seasoned for at least one year. This wood should either be kiln-dried to a moisture content of between 6% and 8% or generally have a moisture content of less than 20%. Facts such as these can come in handy in a number of circumstances and improve your life in more ways than you can think of.

4. You Get Fresher Food

Finally, starting a garden avails more abundant and fresher food for you if you do it right. This can help you cut back on the trips you make to the grocery store to buy food, most of which is taxed. You can also help to improve the state of the environment as you add more greenery to it. In this way, you make a considerably smaller carbon footprint as well. You can tell that the food you grow is truly fresh by checking how green its stalk is something that can be affected by the season in which you grow the food. For example, leaves change color during autumn because of changes in the number of chemical pigments in the leaves. Leaves produce less chlorophyll as the days get shorter, and this is the chemical that makes them green. This change allows other pigments, including red, orange, and yellow to show through in this season.

These four benefits that you can enjoy when you grow and cook your own food should be motivation enough to make you start doing it. Remember that you can always start small and build up to more over time as you get more comfortable.

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. Bogo Brush
Every year I stick a toothbrush in the holiday stocking – this year I will be stuffing a brush from Bogo Brush! Bogo Brush is another company that donates a product to a child in need – in this case, an eco-friendly toothbrush made from waste – because a healthy smile is a happy smile.

+ BOGO BRUSH

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