Tag Archives | green moms

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!

5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Plan for Thanksgiving Dinner

Hello, Friends! I am pretty excited, Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Thanksgiving is going to look a lot different this year. Most gatherings will be super small or social distanced.

Either way, it will still be a ton of fun and work! To get you started, there are many eco-friendly ways to green your Thanksgiving dinner – all of which are easier to implement if you plan ahead. Many of these ideas will save you money and time while cutting down on the amount of waste that can accumulate from a big family dinner. Read on to learn my 5 favorite eco-friendly ways to plan your Thanksgiving dinner and start planning today!

1. Decorating 101
You don’t have to spend any money when decorating for Thanksgiving, instead use items that you already have or consider bringing natural items indoors. We always have a handful of pumpkins leftover from Halloween that we use as Thanksgiving decorations. And Eben and I like to take a nature walk to collect natural elements (pine-cones, acorns, branches, and leaves) to display as our Thanksgiving table centerpiece.

2. How Much is Enough?
It is really easy to go overboard when planning the Thanksgiving menu. Consider the dishes that you will be serving and ask yourself if you are making more than is necessary. Choose a few dishes that you are sure your guests will love and skip the rest. Also, consider which parts of Thanksgiving dinner you want to or can afford to purchase organic and whenever possible, avoid pre-packaged items.

3. Consider the Table
Do you have enough dinnerware for everyone at your dinner party? If not, consider borrowing place settings from close friends or family members instead of purchasing new. If you aren’t a china and tablecloth kind of family and choose to go with disposable place settings, choose a great compostable version that is made from 100% recycled materials.

4. Think Seasonal
When choosing fruits and vegetables for your Thanksgiving menu, think seasonal. You want to avoid purchasing produce that is imported from far away. You may consider joining a local CSA for the holiday season – not only will you have delicious, local foods to serve this Thanksgiving, but you will be supporting a local farm too.

5. Plan for Leftovers
What do you plan to do with the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers? If you are planning on sending goodies home with your guests, have glass reusable storage containers ready to go. If you made more than your family can consume, you could donate some of the leftovers to a local food bank, freeze them for later or have a menu plan for the days after Thanksgiving so all of the leftovers will be used.

How do you green your Thanksgiving dinner? I would love to hear – please share your thoughts in the comments!

3 Smart Ideas For Creating An Eco-Friendly Halloween Costume

It’s no secret that many people who celebrate Halloween do so by getting together with friends and getting into the spirit of the spooky season. For many of those who celebrate, creating a unique costume that showcases your individuality is the biggest appeal of the holiday altogether. But instead of heading to the nearest chain store to spend money on an overpriced costume made of cheap and wasteful materials, consider taking some extra measures to ensure sustainability while maintaining creativity makes all the difference in your costume’s environmental impact. Here are just a few ways to keep Mother Nature in mind while preparing your Halloween costume.

Skip The Synthetics
One eco-friendly rule of thumb when shopping for Halloween costumes at big box stores is to look at the labels and do your best to avoid synthetic and toxic materials.

“Halloween costumes are supposed to be fun-scary, not scary-scary. Yet, store-bought costumes are often made up of nonrecyclable petro-chemical based plastic and synthetic fibers,” writes Laura Bailey on Wilderness.org. “Those Halloween costumes can include one of the scariest plastics — polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a soft plastic and known carcinogen that releases harmful toxins in its creation and breakdown.”

Instead, look for costumes with natural materials and fabrics if you’re shopping at a big box store. Better yet, you should consider looking into small businesses that may specialize in eco-friendly products. There are currently around 27.9 million small businesses in the United States, and many shoppers may be surprised at the number of eco-friendly products both small and large businesses are now incorporating into their inventory. Don’t hesitate to take up your inquiry with a store employee, as well.

Consider A DIY Project
If you consider yourself to be the crafty type, you can easily purchase some organic or otherwise eco-friendly materials and create your own costume. Sales of organic non-food products in the U.S. were up 8.8% in 2016, meaning there are more options than ever as far as styles, colors, and materials. If you have the resources, you can make a DIY version of any costume you find in a big box store, and you may even spend less doing it!

Incorporate Recyclable Elements
Finally, whether you buy your costume from a store or make it yourself, try to incorporate some reusable or recyclable materials. About 60% of the U.S. population, or about 148 million people, have access to a plastics recycling program. Similarly, if you have any young kids who may be participating in trick or treating festivities, be conscious about the bag or container they’re using to stash their sweet treats.

“Avoid the ubiquitous bright orange plastic jack-o-lanterns that have no chance at ever breaking down in a landfill. Instead use reusable shopping bags, canvas totes or the ole pillowcase trick. A funky thriftshop handbag can add a fun twist to a green Halloween costume as well,” writes Bailey.

Ultimately, it doesn’t take much to make a few small changes toward sustainability. By keeping an eye out for reusable and organic materials, you and your family can enjoy all the traditional festivities of Halloween while doing your part to preserve the Earth’s resources.

7 Sustainable Ways to Welcome Fall with Your Family

Fall is my favorite time of year, it seems like we start to slow-down as a family and spend more time reconnecting with each other. Since the days get shorter and it gets dark outside so much earlier, we really focus that time on family time. This is the time of year that our bowl on the dinner table gets filled with card games and brain teasers, and our nightly dinners get dragged out by long conversations and hot steamy beverages for dessert!

It is also the perfect opportunity to go green together as a family. To get you in the autumn mood, while getting your excited about sustainability, check out my 7 favorite eco-friendly ways to welcome fall.

1. Make it Family Dinner Night
One of my favorite fall family traditions is to have make-your-own organic pizza night a few times a month. There is something fun about kneading the dough, cutting up vegetables, and pulling hot vegetarian pizzas from the oven. We like to make ours look like sweet, smiling faces and it always ends in a night of laughter and fun!

2. Green Your Overall Health
Fall is the perfect time to amp up your healthy lifestyle before winter hits – because with winter comes sniffles, colds, and the flu. You can start by boosting your immunity, packing healthy, organic school lunches, adding some super-foods to your marketing list, and by doing a whole-body cleanse. You want to stay healthy through all of the fun fall and winter holidays, right?

3. With Fall comes Leaves, Lots of Them
When it comes to the leaves that fall in your yard, the way that you dispose of them can have a huge impact on the environment. The best option would be to mulch them and use them as ground cover for your garden. The worse option would be to blow them around with a noisy, emission polluting leaf blower. If you want to have fun with leaves, consider making leaf prints for your family room or you can always jump in piles of them.

4. Enjoy Your Natural Environment
One of my favorite ways to enjoy a lovely fall day with my family is by taking a bike ride. In fact, I think we should take our bicycles on our fall family trip this year. Another fun thing to do this time of year is to visit your local botanical garden – you could try one of these surprising ways to make it a day full of fall fun.

5. Prepare for Winter
Before you know it, winter will be here – and fall is the perfect time to prepare. When we lived in Colorado, I liked to stock up on non-perishable organic goods so we didn’t have to go marketing as often. It is also a great time to weather-proof your doors, windows and prepare your garden for the cold, winter ahead. I also like to think of fun ways to cozy up our home – this usually means bringing out stacks of books, blankets, and pillows and sipping hot organic tea and cocoa.

6. Green Your Halloween
Whether you are making plans to make your own Halloween costumes, decorations or you want to turn your home into the ultimate eco-friendly haunted house– now is the time to get started. We like to scour our local thrift stores and tag sales for fantastic Halloween decor well before the holiday. It always gets us in the mood for Halloween and when the holiday actually gets here, we are completely ready!

7. Go Local 
In Florida, our farmer’s market season starts at the beginning of October – which is the perfect time to stock up on those yummy fall vegetables. (I don’t think there will be a farmer’s market this year, but I will cross my fingers!) I love it when the mister whips up a batch of one of his fantastic soups during the fall months using local vegetables from the farmer’s market. And pumpkins from the farmer’s market, oh my, they are my favorite. If you live in a cooler climate that doesn’t offer a farmer’s market during fall, consider joining your local food co-op.

How do you welcome fall with your family?

Green Your Halloween with Spot It! from Blue Orange Games

Spot It Halloween Green Halloween Games

We are huge fans of Blue Orange Games! We have a large media center in our family room and one whole side is full of games!

During October we fill a large jack o’ lantern bowl on our dining room table full of some of our favorite games and books. We play one every night while we eat dinner! And we still like to listen to the mister read spooky stories in the dark while eating pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! You can never be too old!

Right now, we love Sketch It!, Speedeebee!, and Flash!, they are great for the entire family, even the mister enjoys them!

Blue Orange Games has a new fun game right in time for Green Halloween – Spot It! Halloween. So fun! The Spot It! games are a fun matching game with an astounding concept: there is always one matching symbol between any two cards. To win all 5 mini-games, you have to be the quickest to spot it! Spot It! Halloween adds a twist to the traditional game with jack O’ lanterns, zombies, creepy crawlies, and other Halloween goodies. 

+ Spot It! Halloween $24.99
+ Blue Orange Games