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Archive for Green Holidays

June 13th, 2014

On Father’s Day: Green Lessons Learned

Groovy Green Livin Father's Day

Father’s Day. A time for honoring fathers, celebrating fatherhood and recognizing the influence of fathers in our society.

This Father’s Day I celebrate all the fathers in my life. Those here now and those no longer with us.

Born in Queens, New York I was destined to be a city girl. When I was about 5 my family picked up and moved to Madison, Wisconsin. Just like that, this city girl was plopped in the country. I was not happy. And now I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

One childhood memory stands out. When I was growing up in Madison we joined a community garden. At the time I was so angry at my father for making us do this. My valuable time as a tween was spent lugging milk containers filled with water from our home to this garden. At a very young age I had a chance to connect with the food we were eating and the opportunity to eat seasonal, fresh, organic food that came from our very own garden. Thanks to my father I try very hard to instill that same connection with my own children, whether it’s through a CSA, farmer’s market or gardening. I’m not always successful, but good intentions are always there.

In honor of Father’s Day I asked a few bloggers to share their thoughts on any ‘green’ lessons (or not so ‘green’ lessons) learned from a father figure in their life.  

Here’s what they had to say:

My father taught me not necessarily about the art of living green, but about the art of living simply. He is a man who does not need much to be happy. No flashy car, fancy clothes, or other materialistic item can light up his face. All he needs in life are his wife, his daughter, and now his grandsons. What a fabulous lesson about what is really important.

~Jessica, Eat Sleep Be

My dad, Bob, he’s always been “green” so to speak. In fact, he’s the first person who ever told me to not use bottles with BPA and I thought he was crazy at the time. What did my dad know about bottles and BPA!? Well, father knows best and I’m glad I listened to him. He’s the man who shared with me how to garden, cook and not waste food. When I didn’t like to go into the woods or be outside because I was too girly, he encouraged me and took my sister and me out hunting, four wheeling and fishing. I might not have enjoyed all of it back then but now I appreciate what he did for me and I’m thankful. He’s really a great dad and so many of his attributes have rubbed off on me and helped make me who I am today.

~Sommer, Green and Clean Mom

While I had an abundance of fresh produce around growing up in tropical South Africa, I never had the experience of growing my own fruits and vegetables other than my grandfather’s mini farm. He lived in a small town called Ladysmith 3.5 hours away from me and he had a decent amount of land where he grew things like carrots, cabbage, plums, peaches, and he even had a grape vine. I recall him yanking a huge carrot out of the ground, rinsing the soil out under the faucet and giving to me to eat. My grandmother was fussy about eating it right there, but he kept watch for her as I munched on it. I don’t think anything tasted better than that carrot or anything that grew on that land. I’ve always been determined to grow something and each year I try with our veggie garden and each year I learn to do it better. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the miracle of seeing food come out of the ground.

~Niri, Mommy Niri 

My father instilled a very strong work ethic in me. He taught me to stick to my values and not be afraid to go out on a limb for what I believed in. From him I learned that hard work pays off and that loving your job makes all the difference!

~Micaela, MindfulMomma

What’s your favorite Father’s Day lesson?

photo credit: pipitdapo via photopin cc

January 31st, 2014

5 GMO-Free Valentine’s Day Treats

Groovy Green Livin GMO-free Valentine's Day

How to go GMO-free on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day and chocolate seem to go hand-in-hand. Head into any store during the weeks before Valentine’s Day and it’s hard to miss the sea of chocolate.

Unfortunately many of our favorite chocolate treats are filled with Genetically Modified Organisms (also called GM, GE or GMOs). GMOs refers to crop plants that are consumed by animals and/or humans that have been tweaked or messed around with in a lab to boost desired traits such as: the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide, disease resistance and improved nutritional value.

GMO labeling isn’t required in the US

Does that bother you? It bothers me. It actually makes me angry. We have the right to know what’s going into our food-don’t we? If we take a look at our friends in the EU and other countries -GMO labeling has been the norm for years. Yet in the US the FDA doesn’t require the labeling of GMOs in food ingredient lists.

5 Non-GMO Valentine’s Day Treats

If you’re planning to give the gift of chocolate this Valentine’s Day why not give GMO-free chocolate? Check out some of these choices (Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site.).

Wild Ophelia

Groovy Green Livin GMO-free

I was first introduced to Wild Ophelia at BlogHer last year in New York. I was selected as Wild Ophelia Posse Member, which means that I’m sent delicious samples of chocolate to taste test. Although not certified organic, their products are GMO-free, made from  many organic ingredients sourced from small farms and food artisans. They have some pretty crazy flavors including BBQ Potato Chips, Beef Jerky and Peanut Butter Banana. Wild Ophelia has a new collection of Valentine’s Day hearts ready for the holiday. The New England Style Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Bites aren’t going to last long in our house.

Equal Exchange Organic Chocolate Groovy Green Livin GMO-free

These organic chocolate bars are made with pure ingredients from small farmers in Central and Latin America and all their products are fairly traded in accordance with internationally recognized standards.

Theo Chocolate

Groovy Green Livin Valentine's Day GMO-free

Theo rocks. They state very clearly on their website: “At Theo we believe consumers have the right to know what is in their food and have made a commitment to non-GMO certification of our products.” Did I mention that their chocolate is also organic and fairly traded? A perfect combination.

Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate Bar Groovy Green Livin Valentine's Day GMO-free

Green and Black’s adds no synthetic chemicals or genetically modified ingredients to their chocolate. Green & Black’s purchases organically-grown cocoa for a selection of their products according to ‘Fairtrade’ practices with sensitivity to the well being of farmers.

Endangered Species Bug Bites Organic Milk Chocolate
Groovy Green Livin Valentine's Day GMO-free

These little Bug Bites are so adorable. Each square contains a fun and educational insect trading card. The chocolate is certified organic, gluten-free, kosher and non-GMO verified.  The cacao is sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms, ensuring fair trade, responsible labor practices and sustainable farming.

What’s your favorite GMO-free chocolate?

Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site. Thank you. (Read all the fine print here.)

photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via photopin cc

December 2nd, 2013

15 Tech-Free Gifts for Tweens

Groovy Green Livin Gifts for Tween Boys

Last year I really struggled to find unique holiday gifts for my three tween boys.

A tween which is a very distinct category of boys and girls generally between the ages of 8 and 12 who are pre-adolescent. According to the US Census there are currently 20 million tweens in the U.S. and they are projected to hit 23 million by 2020.

After much market research (asking other tween boys!) I came up with a list of holiday gifts for tween boys that turned out to be a big hit.

This year I’m struggling yet again. Back to the ‘field’ I went to ask other tween boys what they were hoping for.

It’s not easy buying for a tween. Video games are an easy way out, but I thought I would share some tech-free alternatives fit for a tween boy. Maybe there’ll be one that works for yours.

15 Tech-Free Gifts for Tween Boys

Percy Jackson 5-book boxed set

Groovy Green Livin Gifts for Tween BoysThere are a few series out there that I find impossible to read along with my kids. Percy Jackson is NOT one of them. I’ve been reading on and off with my 10 year old and Rick Riordan makes the adventure entertaining for all ages. The Percy Jackson series follows the adventures of young demigod (half mortal, half Greek god) Percy and his friends Annabeth and Grover. There are many referenced to Greek mythology throughout.

Perplexus Twist Groovy Green Livin Gifts for tween boys

We happen to have every variation of the Perplexus and each one provides hours of entertainment. The Perplexus Twist is a three-dimensional puzzle game that exercises eye-hand coordination, dexterity, and spatial reasoning. It adds a new twist to things by allowing the puzzle solver to turn and align the tracks.

ChopChop: The Kids’ Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family Groovy Green Livin Gifts for Tween Boys

My 11 year old LOVES to cook. I’ve been a fan of ChopChop Magazine for quite sometime. Now they have this fantastic cookbook to help inspire kids of all ages to work together in the kitchen. What a great way to encourage healthy eating!

Snap Circuits Physics Kit Groovy Green Livin Gifts for tween boys

This Snap Circuit kit has been one of our favorites for many years. This exciting building kit allows you to create things like a dual-speed fan, periodic doorbell, photo sensor police siren, flashing laser light and more.

Triple Bearing Diabolo Set Groovy Green Livin Gifts for tween boys

All three of my kids are working on perfecting tricks with their Diabolos. They make it look so easy. I tried it out this weekend and discovered that I need a lot of practice-it’s not as easy as it looks. If your kids like yo-yos they’ll love a Diabolo.

Franklin Sports 3-in-1 Indoor Sports Set Groovy Green Livin Gifts for tween boys

It’s getting cold here so outdoor play isn’t always an option. If your child has any interest in sports this indoor sports set will provide hours of entertainment.
Wooden Chess, Checker and Backgammon Set Groovy Green Livin Gifts for tween boys

Nothing like a good game of chess, checkers or backgammon on a rainy or cold day. I like this set because it’s wooden and all of the pieces can be stored inside.

Wood Folding Game of Mancala Groovy Green Livin Gifts for tween boys

Mancala is a great game for counting and strategy. The game’s simplicity makes it a breeze even for children to learn, while the wealth of player options keeps it challenging for older players.

Rainbow Loom Groovy Green Livin Gifts for Tween Boys

Looking for hours of entertainment? The Rainbow Loom is your answer. There are a gazillion types of bracelets to make and they can even create their own. I have a collection of bracelets, rings and necklaces.

Quoridor Classic Game of Strategy Groovy Green Livin Gifts for Tween Boys

Quoridor was a big hit on the beach last summer. Quoridor is a fast-moving strategy game that is similar to chess insofar as players move pawn-shaped pieces across the board. The difference is that there are wooden fences one erects to block the progress of and force a different route upon an opponent.

Buddha Board Groovy Green Livin Gifts for Tween Boys

I could play with this all day! Using the Zen concept of living in the moment is exactly what the Buddha Board allows. Paint your designs, pictures, doodles, or whatever you are feeling on the board with water. Your image comes to life as you paint and then slowly disappears as it drys, leaving you a clean slate to start over with.

The Hobbit 4-Book Boxed Set Groovy Green Livin Gifts for Tween Boys

If there’s interest in hobbits and wizards this is another great series for the tween group.

Classic Origami Kit Groovy Green Livin Gifts for Tween Boys

You can never go wrong with an origami kit. This kit contains The kit contains:
A 64-page book with complete instructions and clear, step-by-step diagrams for 45 different projects and sheets of folding paper in eight different colors and gold foil.

Uncle Skunkle’s Destruct 3 Board Game

I ordered this for my 11 year old and I’m waiting for it to arrive. The  description starts off by saying “Ever since you first knocked down your little brother’s wooden block tower…” Sounds like the perfect toy for our family!  Players take turns building a tower while opponents try to destroy it using a catapult, pendulum or ramp.

Celestron PowerSeeker Telescope Groovy Green Livin Gifts for Tween Boys

This is a great telescope for both novice and advanced astronomers. The PowerSeeker series is designed to give the first-time telescope user the perfect combination of quality, value, features and power.

What’s your favorite gift for tween boys?

Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site. Thank you. (Read all the fine print here.)

October 22nd, 2013

5 Non-GMO Halloween Treats

Groovy Green Livin Halloween Treats

Halloween treats are filling up prime real estate in most stores and shops these days. With the holiday just a few days away those Halloween treats are in demand. I’m never quite sure how to gauge how many kids will stop by, so I stock up with plenty to hand out to the neighborhood ghouls and goblins.

There’s no surprise that Halloween is the single largest candy-consuming day all year in the Unites States. Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy a year for Halloween.

Every year I struggle. I’m a Snickers and Kit Kat lover and like many, Halloween is a chance to indulge. But I know the real deal. Most of the candy that many of us love to eat is filled with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and GMOs.

October is Non-GMO Month 

GMOs refers to crop plants that are consumed by animals and/or humans that have been tweaked or modified in a lab to boost desired traits such as: the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide, disease resistance and improved nutritional value.

Food with GMOs looks and tastes the same, but they’re not the same. Food producers have been altering and messing with our food with the blessing of the FDA, but without our permission.

GMO labeling isn’t required in the US

Does that bother you? It bothers me. It actually makes me angry. We have the right to know what’s going into our food-don’t we? If we take a look at our friends in the EU and other countries -GMO labeling has been the norm for years. Yet in the US the FDA doesn’t require the labeling of GMOs in food ingredient lists. 

GMOs in Our Halloween Treats

Yep.  You guessed it. All those delicious, bite-sized bars probably contain GMOs.

Here’s a list of 10 GMO ingredients that could be lurking in your Halloween treats taken from an infographic designed by The Give Project and California Right to Know:

  1. Sugar (GMO sugar beets)
  2. High fructose corn syrup (GMO corn)
  3. Corn starch (GMO corn)
  4. Soy lecithin (GMO soy)
  5. Soybean oil GMO soy)
  6. Modified food starch (GMO corn)
  7. Fructose, dextrose, glucose (GMO corn)
  8. Cottonseed oil (GMO cotton)
  9. Canola oil (GMO canola)
  10. “Other” ingredients: isolates, isoflavones, food starch, vegetable oil

5 Non-GMO Halloween Treats

A little indulgence is A-ok in my book, but if you want to hand out Halloween treats that are a bit healthier and don’t contain GMOs check out some of these spooktacular choices.


Groovy Green Livin Halloween Treats
Have you seen UNREAL candy? It’s hard to miss since the company makes their candy available only where junk food is available. It’s candy without artificial flavors, preservatives or hormones; no GMO’s (genetically modified organisms); no hydrogenated oils; and no corn syrup.

Groovy Green Livin Halloween Treats

Annie’s Homegrown Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks

My kids have been taking Annie’s Homegrown Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks in their lunch box for years. Annie’s uses only non-GMO ingredients and is a very active voice in telling the FDA to Just Label It!

YummyEarth Organic Lollipops

Groovy Green Livin Halloween Treats

YummyEarth products are made with real fruit extracts and plant friendly organic ingredients.  They are certified organic and made with 100% Natural colors. No chemical dyes and no GMOs. 100% Natural flavors. Real fruit extracts. Egg-free. Soy-free. Nut-free. Gluten-free. Wheat-free. Casein-free. Dairy-free. Peanut-free.

Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups Groovy Green Livin Halloween Treats

If you’re a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup fan Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups are the perfect replacement. None of their products contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms). They are currently in the process of verifying their products with the Non-GMO Project in order to bear the Non-GMO Project Seal on our packaging.

 Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans 

Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans Groovy Green Livin Halloween Treatsare made with organic fruit juice and organic sweeteners, are Non GMO verified, and include 100% of Vitamin C per serving. Also perfect for kids with allergies or food sensitivities.

Happy Halloween! Don’t forget to use your reusable bag for collecting all those Halloween treats!

October is non-GMO Month. How are you going to do your part? 
photo credit: Micky** via photopin cc

July 3rd, 2013

How to Have a “Green” Red White and Blue!

Groovy Green Livin Green Red White and Blue

How to have a “green” red, white and blue!

This is a guest post by Dana from Wild Mint (formerly known as Essential Safe Products), a company dedicated to helping families build healthier lifestyles with toxin free, eco friendly solutions.  Wild Mint has been a longtime supporter of Groovy Green Livin and I’m thrilled to share this post. 

Its summertime and the day we’ve all been looking forward to is right around the corner…the 4th of July!  On this day, we are fortunate to celebrate the freedom of our nation with friends and family in backyards or on beaches, barbequing, relaxing, and playing games.  Many of us look forward to the day off work to let loose and unwind, and we usually finish it all off with a marvelous display of fireworks.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?!

Yes! Except unwinding shouldn’t mean that we aren’t also being responsible and healthy while we are having fun!  We can certainly have a safe and eco friendly July 4th while still enjoying our day.   So, in the spirit of summer and having a “green” red, white, blue, Wild Mint is sharing some eco friendly tips for a safe and happy 4th of July:

1)      Fire Up the Grill with Caution and Care

  • Before you grill – Especially for those grills that have been sitting in the garage all winter, one of the easiest ways to prevent an accident is by inspecting your grill prior to use.  Before you turn on the grill, check to make sure there are no cracks in the unit or tears in the tubing (if it’s a gas grill) that might cause leaks.
  • As you grill– Make sure you know how to use your grill properly.  If it’s a charcoal grill, then it requires the burning of charcoal to ignite flames to cook.  Use a charcoal grill completely outdoors in a well ventilated area, since its fumes are toxic in closed areas.  If you have a gas grill that uses a propane tank, follow the manufacturer’s instructions when connecting the tanks to the grill.  Also, carefully monitor the tanks while grilling and make sure they are upright.  Finally, keep the tanks and hoses away from heated surfaces, if possible.
  • After you grill – When the BBQ is over, close your grill up correctly by making sure it’s completely cooled down before you cover it.  Check all valves to ensure they are completely turned off, and gas cylinders should be completely shut off and stored in a cool, safe place.

2)      Eat Responsibility

4th of July BBQs are one of the most important times to remember food safety, since people can bring quickly perishable food items and in all the fun it’s easy to forget about basic sanitary precautions.

  • Leaving food out too long, especially in warm temperatures, can invite nasty food borne illness to your party, yuck!  Remember not to leave food out for more than one hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees and no more than two hours at other times.
  • Foods that need to be kept cold should stay safely in a cooler with lots of ice or freezing packs at a maximum temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Especially for dishes with mayonnaise and other egg ingredients, extra precautions should be taken.
  • Even just the simplest tips of remembering to wash your hands and using correct food preparation to avoid cross contamination can also help prevent food poisoning.

3)      Remember the “Land” That is Ours and Be Good to It

We fought for the red, white, and blue, so let’s fight to keep it green!  Before you reach for those disposable plates, cups, utensils and other items remember that the average American produces roughly 4.3 pounds of waste every day, only about one third of which is recycled.  Instead of adding to the mountain of garbage in our landfills, choose eco friendly options.  And to help avoid harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates, take it one step further and choose eco friendly, plastic-free options.

  • Some helpful options you could try are marinating meats in glass food storage containers instead of plastic baggies, and serving beverages in stainless steel or glass cups.  Many people like drinking out of glass better than plastic and stainless steel is durable and will keep drinks cold.
  • For utensils, try bamboo, which is light, durable, eco friendly, and looks great for entertaining.  There are reusable and biodegradable options available.

There are many other eco friendly and safer choices for items and even if the clean up takes a little longer, you won’t have a whole bunch of waste to pick up after people either!

4)      Take the Greener Route to Fireworks

It’s true that fireworks are a big part of the holiday tradition, but they aren’t exactly an Earth friendly undertaking!

  • If you are planning to set off your own this year, try to find some that are rich in nitrogen, which may cost more but puts less smoke into the environment.
  • Or gather your group together and go see a local display, so you don’t add extra harm to the environment by setting off your own.
  • Finally, if you feel like being a little adventurous and trying something new, think about seeing a laser light show instead, for excitement without all the pollution.  Or check out a parade, for all the noise and entertainment, in a completely different arena!

We hope you enjoyed these tips and have a safe and enjoyable time on our nation’s day of independence!

Do you have any green 4th of July tips?  Let us know in the comments!




June 14th, 2013

A Father’s Day Without Toxic Chemicals

Groovy Green Livin Father's Day

This is a guest post by Margie Kelly, Media Relations Manager, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. 

Father’s Day is right around the corner. Great dads deserve great presents, but trust us: You love your dad too much to buy cologne made with cancer-causing chemicals.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has investigated common chemicals found in men’s products and we provide tips how to detoxify any guy’s bathroom cabinet. We can also point you to companies that make men’s products without harmful chemicals.

Men’s cologne makes an appearance on many Father’s Day gift lists. But giving your dad a fragrance is like spraying him with nasty chemicals that could hurt his health. And what kind of present is that?

It’s not just colognes that are made from problematic chemicals. Men’s hair color, shampoos, and anything with a fragrance may contain chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and other chronic health problems. More than 1 in 5 personal care products contain chemicals linked to cancer.

Testing by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found a range of hidden harmful chemicals in men’s colognes and body sprays. You won’t find them on the label because fragrance chemicals, which disrupt hormones, are given special protected status as trade secrets.

For a healthy Father’s Day, get your dad a present that won’t make him sick. Kids can make a great do-it-yourself chocolate facial that dad can eat after exfoliating! Or maybe they’d rather try a soothing homemade balm to protect dad’s hands after gardening or working around the house?

Some of the chemicals of concern in most commercial men’s products include:

  • Triclosan: This toxic pesticide can be found in antiperspirant, shaving cream and aftershave.
  • Coal tar: Take a look at your dandruff shampoo and you might find this known human carcinogen, which has been banned or found unsafe for use in Canada and the European Union.
  • Formaldehyde: found in shampoos and body washes, this probable carcinogen and known allergen can trigger skin rashes and allergic reactions.

Father’s Day is an excellent time to tell your dad (or husband, brother, or son) that he’s beautiful without covering his skin with toxic chemicals!

photo credit: otodo via photopin cc

March 21st, 2013

Easter and Passover Vegan and Gluten-Free Recipe Roundup

Groovy Green Livin Easter and Passover
With Easter and Passover right around the corner many of us are looking forward to sharing time and traditional meals with family and friends. Passover lasts for eight days and for those who observe the holiday no regular breads or baked goods are eaten. Wheat, oats, barley, rye, and spelt are forbidden, with the exception of matzo, which is made with flour and water. When someone in the group follows a vegan or gluten-free diet it can be challenging to find a menu that meets everyone’s needs.

If you’re looking for a vegan or gluten-free twist to some of the traditional dishes here’s some inspiration.

Classic Veggie Roast

This dish is a staple in our house and something we  make for almost every holiday. Generally I use whatever vegetables are in my refrigerator, chop them up and roast them with a bit of olive oil and sea salt. Sometimes I make two separate veggie dishes-one with potatoes and one without. You can see the veggie roast/ratatouille recipe HERE.

Smashed Garlic Potatoes

My kids love almost anything with potatoes. THIS vegan, gluten-free mashed potatoes recipe will be a hit with the big kids too. If there’s a nut allergy it’s simple to swap out the almond milk for another type of dairy-free milk. Leave out the nutritional yeast if you’re celebrating Passover!

Gluten-Free Matzo

It’s truly amazing how many foods now have a gluten-free option. Even matzo, which is typically made from wheat flour, is now available in a gluten-free form. Here’s a list of several companies who are selling gluten-free matzo. If you’re feeling ambitious how about making your own matzo? HERE’s a relatively simple recipe to test out.

Sweet Sunflower Green Beans

The combination of green beans and red onions make these green beans a gorgeous dish for any holiday. The total prep time is about 25 minutes-this works for me. You’ll find the whole recipe HERE.

Vegan Matzo Ball Soup with Spring Vegetables

Groovy green Livin Easter and Passover

THIS vegan matzo ball soup recipe is chock-full of spring vegetables, and the perfect start to the Passover Seder dinner. Cooked quinoa flakes bind the gluten-free matzo balls together.

Spinach Cake

If you’re a spinach lover this recipe will ‘wow’ the crowd and can be used for both Easter and Passover meals. HERE’s the recipe. There are nuts, but they can be omitted if needed.

What are some of your favorite vegan and gluten-free Easter and Passover dishes? 

photo credit: sea turtle via photopin ccphoto credit: Avital Pinnick via photopin ccphoto credit: onlinepastrychef via photopin cc


About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

Lori on ABC World News

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