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Archive for Healthy Choices
June 14th, 2012
Fitness Routine Disrupted
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you probably know that exercise is a big part of my life. It really kicked in when I started law school many moons ago. During a school vacation week I traveled with my family to Israel. My brothers and sister were always (and still are) in fabulous shape. We decided to climb Masada-an historical mountain in Israel. Off went my sister and brothers and I fell behind, needing to stop periodically to rest. After a few comments in semi-jest from my family, I knew that the time had come to get in shape.
I joined a gym in Boston and made exercise a part of my daily routine. I did my first road race with my husband and a few close friends to celebrate my thirtieth birthday. I don’t always have a goal in mind when it comes to fitness, and I don’t always need one, but I continue to incorporate it into my life. I mix it up with a little yoga, running, cycling and going to the gym. I ramped it up a few years ago and trained for my first sprint triathlon in honor of a little boy in our town who lost his life to cancer. It’s been four years and the triathlon has become an annual event.
When summer comes my consistent, daily work-out isn’t as consistent and it makes me crazy. I’ve tried over the years to find ways to work fitness in and been relatively successful, but there’s room for improvement.
The amount I exercise had been pretty consistent over the years and my eating habits are in relatively good shape, with an occasional splurge or indulgence. My weight really doesn’t fluctuate that much and hasn’t in many years. BUT I’m starting to notice that my metabolism has changed and I do need to pay closer attention to what goes in-the quantity of food I’m eating- or it could end up landing in the wrong spot. So I need some motivation to stay where I am.
Go Green Get Fit Challenge
This summer I’m joining a group of 25+ remarkable green bloggers in the Eco Mom Alliance’s Go Green Get Fit Challenge presented by Healthy Home Magazine. We are joining forces and on June 18, 2012 we will launch our 12 week health and wellness series where we will all share our ups and downs throughout the challenge. We will be working together to offer information, inspiration, and motivation for each other and-you guessed it-I’m hoping that you’ll join me too.
My Fitness Goals
- Pick up my pace in the swim portion of the triathlon. I also panic just before the start ‘gun’ goes off. Anyone want to train me? I’ve been swimming all of my life and feel pretty comfortable in the water. But I’m not fast.
- Cycle as fast as my husband. My legs aren’t as long, but I think I can do it. Especially since he doesn’t think I can.
- Find a consistent time to exercise over the summer or be accepting of the amount of time I find to keep in shape.
Will you join me? Pretty please.
What are your fitness goals this summer?
[Photo used under Creative Commons from Team Traveller/Flickr]
May 10th, 2012
Welcome to Green Questions, Groovy Answers-your opportunity to get your pressing green questions answered each week.
This week’s question comes from a Twitter fan, Ashley (@AEB624) in Boston. Thanks Ashley!
Are there any eco-friendly alternatives to using plastic wrap?
Plastic wrap has been around for generations, preserving leftovers and keeping food from becoming stale. Unfortunately, our convenient, handy plastic wrap is made from a form of plastic called low-density polyethylene (LDPE). After we use plastic wrap it ends up in our overflowing landfills and takes forever to decompose.
If you’re looking for a simple way to green up your kitchen- swapping out your plastic wrap for a more environmentally friendly option is an easy change. There are quite a few plastic wrap alternatives out there. Take a look at these non-toxic plastic wrap replacements:
Glass food storage containers
Glass containers (with a top that a seals well) works well for storing leftovers. In our fridge it’s very important to have a see through container since the leftover situation can sometimes get out of hand.
Glass storage canning jars
Don’t reach for the plastic wrap – put your soups, stews and other foods in a glass storage jar. They are air tight and reusable and a great way to preserve your food.
Abeego Flats are made from hemp and cotton fabric and comes in a few different sizes. The warmth of your hands combined with pressure causes the flat to form tightly around the item to be stored. The best part: hand wash your flat in cold, soapy water and air dry.
I haven’t tried them out, but my friend Alicia over at The Soft Landing wrote a review.
Cloth or towel
A cloth or towels are perfect for fresh produce. I gently wrap my produce from our CSA in a cloth or kitchen towel and place it in the refrigerator. Cloth can also be used over the top of a bowl. Just add a rubber band and your container is virtually airtight. No need for any plastic.
Reusable sandwich and snack bags
Don’t wrap those sandwiches in Saran. Use a reusable sandwich bag to keep those sandwiches fresh on their way to school.
Nothing at all
Could you, would you leave some leftovers on a plate and put them in the fridge without plastic wrap? I’m guessing there are quite a few things that end up covered in plastic wrap that don’t really need to be covered at all. Think twice before wrapping.
Can you think of any other plastic wrap alternatives?
[Photo used under Creative Commons from dvs/Flickr]
Disclosure: There are a few affiliate links in this post. Any purchases made through the links will put a few pennies in my pocket and support this blog. Thanks!
Linked up with Natural Mothers Network
February 27th, 2012
I know I’m not alone on this one-I have a sweet tooth and it kicks in A LOT. There’s a reason behind this love of sweets: they make us feel good. The sweet flavors release serotonin in our brains, which creates a feeling of love and well being. It’s nice to have some validation for my love of sweets.
The number of choices out there for sweetening our food or drinks is overwhelming. Artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, high-fructose corn syrup and Sucralose, have deservedly gotten a bad rap over the years. They are known to cause numerous side-effects ranging from headaches to cancer. Research also suggests that they can actually cause overeating among consumers.
Even natural sweeteners can come with their own baggage. Organic brown rice syrup recently made it into the lime light with findings that it contains arsenic. Agave nectar also came under fire when a report from The Weston A. Price Foundation said that it’s as bad for our bodies as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
With all this negative information looming about so many of the popular sweeteners the question often arises: Is there a safe sweetener choice?
Thankfully there is a way to satisfy our sweet tooth and, if eaten in moderation, our health won’t suffer.
Here are my top three natural sweeteners:
Raw, local and organic are the way to go with this natural sweetener. Not only will it sweeten your favorite cookies, it will also help sooth a cough or sore throat. Honey is often touted for having mega vitamins, minerals, and protein, but I’m not convinced the amount is significant unless you eat honey by the car load (which you shouldn’t do).
Careful when you choose your honey-recent testing by Food Safety News found that more than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly pure honey. The testing showed that pollen had been filtered out of the honey, thereby stripping the honey of all nutritional value and erasing any way to trace where the honey came from. Your best bet for avoiding honey that’s been filtered is to buy honey directly from bee keepers, farmers’ markets and natural food stores.
Chopped, dried dates are my snack of choice when I’m looking for a sweet fix. Date sugar is made from finely chopped dried dates. It is a natural and non-processed sugar alternative filled with high fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It’s great for baking, but might not work in your hot or cold tea (it doesn’t dissolve very well).
Maple syrup is one of my favorite natural sweeteners. My kids can’t get enough of the stuff on pancakes and French toast. Maple syrup contains fewer calories and a higher concentration of minerals than honey. The syrup comes directly from the maple tree and is clear when it first comes out. After the tree is tapped the syrup is then boiled to remove the water. The end result is the deep maple syrup color and flavor that most of us are familiar with. Maple syrup is perfect for baking and sweetening your favorite drink.
When buying maple syrup it’s important to read ingredient labels carefully. Many of the syrups on the market have additional sugar and/or are not pure maple syrup. Buy organic whenever you can. Use it sparingly because organic maple syrup can be quite pricey.
Remember all sugar should be eaten in moderation-sugar is sugar and can be hazardous to our healthy in any form.
What do you use to sweeten your food and drinks?
[Photo used under Creative Commons from D. Sharon Pruitt, Robert Neff and Jim Sorbie/Flickr]
This post is part of Your Green Resource over at Green Backs Gal.
February 10th, 2012
I hope everyone has had a wonderful week. Valentine’s Day is sneaking up on us and I’m predicting lots of sugary treats in my kid’s futures next week.
There have been a lot of good green happenings on the web this week. Here are a few headlines that caught my attention:
Petition asking Tide to remove a cancer causing chemical from its detergent
A report recently released by Women’s Voices for Earth, Dirty Secrets: What’s Hiding in Your Cleaning Products? found high levels of the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane in the detergent.
With the help of Healthy Child Healthy World, MomsRising and Women’s Voices for the Earth I put together a petition asking Procter & Gamble (makers of Tide) to strip this harmful cancer-causing chemical out of Tide Free & Gentle®!
Please join me by signing the petition asking Procter & Gamble to take immediate action to remove 1,4-dioxane from Tide Free & Gentle® and any other Procter & Gamble products.
Lead in your lipstick
In 2007 the FDA began testing various lipsticks sold in the United States for lead. After testing over 400 brands, FDA scientists concluded that none of them contained unsafe levels of lead. In December 2011, the FDA updated its tests and posted the results on its website rather quietly. There are now two brands (Maybelline and L’Oreal) with lipsticks above California’s safe standard. These manufactures don’t actually use lead as an ingredient, the lead is considered an impurity. There are safe, non-toxic lipsticks out there. Make sure yours is one of them!
Too much Sodium
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 9 out of 10 Americans eat too much sodium. Surprisingly, they found that bread and rolls were the top culprits rather than salty snacks.
Have you ever cooked with dandelions? When the weather warms up there is usually a field of dandelions on my front lawn. Jeff over at Sustainablog shares 7 Recipes for Dandelions. I might have to try a few when the sea of yellow weeds reappears.
A day in the life of an activist
Have you ever wondered what a day in the life of an activist mom fighting for climate change might be like? Harriet from Climate Mama shares a day in her life. I have to admit, I was exhausted just from reading her post.
Hopefully you’ve had a chance to check out my new addiction (maybe yours too?), Pinterest. Come on over and find me!
Have a groovy and green weekend! Any big plans?
[Photos used under creative commons from D. Sharon Pruitt and Vincent van der Heijden/Flickr]
January 10th, 2012
It’s been a long haul, but after 8 plus years our kids are finally on semi auto-pilot in the morning. There are still a few pieces of our morning routine where guidance is needed, but our three boys make a good effort to independently get their “jobs” done.
One of those morning jobs is packing their own lunch for school. This is by far the most time consuming task in the morning. I’ve tried coaxing them into packing it at night, but it just doesn’t work. So morning it is.
It’s not pretty in our kitchen when the lunch packing begins. It truly looks like a tornado came through and tossed food all over the counters and floor. But it’s worth it. Through making their own lunch they are beginning to understand what a green and healthy lunch looks like.
What is a green lunch?
Children’s lunches create more than 3.5 billion pounds of garbage each year, which amounts to a crazy 18,760 pounds of trash annually from an average sized elementary school. That’s a lot of waste.
Every since my kids have been in school we have focused on making their lunches as waste free as possible.We have a few reusable lunch bags -each child has their own assigned color. When buying their lunch bags I wanted to be sure that their food wouldn’t come in contact with any unsafe materials or chemicals. Their reusable lunch bagsare:
If you pull apart a typical lunch box you will find a sandwich in a plastic baggie, all sorts of individually wrapped snacks, possibly some fruit and a drink container. Once lunch is over the wrappers from each of these items makes its way into the garbage can.
Making a lunch box zero-waste through the use of reusable products will minimize the amount of garbage kids create through their school lunch.
Here are some of my favorite eco-friendly reusable lunch box products. I also make sure to pack a reusable napkin, which occasionally gets tossed and doesn’t make it home.
What’s in our green and healthy lunch bag?
I wish I could say our lunches are creative and exciting, but they’re really not. My kids tend to be creatures of habit and really don’t like to mix it up much. There are a few staples that end up in their lunches on a daily basis.
- Fresh, organic fruit. My oldest likes watermelon and my youngest likes oranges, bananas and clementines.
- Cut up, unpeeled carrots.
- Healthy snacks.
- A roasted turkey sandwich on an organic, whole wheat wrap.
- The occasional treat (sometimes not so green and healthy).
- Water in a stainless steel, reusable water bottle. Klean Kanteen
is my reusable bottle of choice.
Green lunch bag tips
- Make healthy choices when it comes to snacks and treats.
- Don’t buy individually packaged snacks i.e. fruit cups, single serving cookies, chips and crackers. There is a lot of wasted packaging and the cost per item is much more expensive than buying in bulk.
- We try to buy organic when we can. Remember Organic doesn’t always mean healthy. There are organic foods out there that that are processed, contain lots of sugar and are unhealthy. Reading food labels is a must. Also, be wary of long lists of ingredients that you don’t recognize.
- Be prepared to lose a few items. I try to label everything with a sharpie. Until your children are used to their new green lunch box, there will be a few reusables that don’t make it home.
What goes in your green and healthy lunch bag?
There are a few affiliate links in this post. If you use them a few pennies will go in my pocket. Thanks!
[Photo used under Creative Commons from avilasal/Flickr]
January 6th, 2012
Did you know?
Saltwater (and a lot of it) is sometimes added to meat and poultry products labeled “natural”
A while back I wrote about the misleading labels on hot dogs. There’s more to be concerned about when it comes to the labeling of processed meats and poultry. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest:
Some unscrupulous meat and poultry producers add as much as 15 percent saltwater to their products—and then have the gall to label such pumped-up products “natural.” The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is calling for public comments regarding such labeling practices.
The “enhanced” poultry adds significant amounts of unneeded sodium to an otherwise healthy food, adding to Americans’ already excessive sodium consumption and gouging consumers with exorbitant prices for salt water. Consumers should not be misled by a false “natural” label claim and they have a right to label information that allows them to make informed, healthful decisions.
Click HERE to send a message to the USDA today, urging an end to this deceptive-labeling practice.
Green Cuisine: Crock Pot Lentil Stew
Looking for a delicious stew to take away the winter chill? HERE’s a green cuisine recipe that will keep you warm and cozy, while the weather outside is frightful.
Green Parenting and Design Predictions for 2012
Inhabitots asked a few of their favorite bloggers (including me!), green-minded business owners, and a few of their own Inhabitots editors and writers to share their predictions for the year ahead. What will change in green design this year? How will the world move forward to provide a better environment for healthy families? Click HERE to see what we think.
Listening to all the Pinterest buzz, I decided to finally take the plunge and join in. Pinterest is a site that lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. If you aren’t familiar here are a few tips to get you started.
I’m definitely a newbie, but I’m really enjoying the creative outlet. Make sure you come and find me -FOLLOW ME and I’ll follow you back!
Are you on Pinterest? Leave your link and I’ll find you and hopefully others will too.
[Photo used under Creative Commons from D. Sharon Pruitt/Flickr]
December 15th, 2011
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired of hearing about all the toxic stuff that’s in our food. A while back I wrote about how artificial food dyes in are found in our food. A report, issued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, showed food dyes—used in everything from M&Ms and Fruit Loops to Kraft Mac n Cheese—pose risks of cancer, hyperactivity in children, and allergies, and concluded that synthetic food dye should be banned. But it’s not.
The piece that I find very disturbing is that artificial dyes are used in the US, but not in other countries. Why? Because other countries seem to get it, while the US continues to place cost before the likely health dangers to a human being.
BVO in soda
The US continues to make headlines, this time for allowing another questionable synthetic chemical in soda. Mountain Dew, Fanta Orange and other citrus-flavored drinks have an added synthetic chemical called brominated vegetable oil, or BVO. BVO has been patented as a flame retardant and many of our children (and adults) are drinking it.
Which sodas contain BVO?
According to Environmental Health News the following drinks contain BVO:
- Mountain Dew
- Fanta Orange
- Sunkist Pineapple
- Gatorade Thirst Quencher Orange
- Powerade Strawberry Lemonade
- Fresca Original Citrus
Why is it in soda?
BVO is used in citrus flavored soda to keep the fruity flavors mixed in. It gives the soda a cloudy appearance. BVO isn’t a new addition to soda-it’s been added for decades.
What are the risks of BVO?
In the United States, 85 percent of kids drink a beverage containing sugar or artificial sweetener at least once per week.
According to The Huffington Post:
After a few extreme soda binges — not too far from what many gamers regularly consume — a few patients have needed medical attention for skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders, all symptoms of overexposure to bromine.
Here’s the kicker: BVO is one of a class of chemicals that are banned in the European Union and Japan and under close scrutiny even in the U.S. for building up in human tissue and breast milk.
However, the soda companies have been using a safe alternative to BVO in other countries for years. Seems like it would be a simple switch in the US-so why hasn’t it happened? The answer is probably cost.
BVO is now joining BPA in the growing list of scary chemicals found in our food. Here we go again-placing cost above our children’s health. Our chemical system is clearly broken.
What you can do?
- Support the Safe Chemicals Act so that chemicals are proven safe before being added to our homes, schools, and places of work.
- Talk with your pocket book. Don’t buy these products.
- Talk with your children. Explain to them the risks and talk about safer alternatives (how about water?).
- Talk with your schools. Make sure soda containing BVO isn’t offered in the cafeteria or vending machines.
- Talk with the soda companies. Send an email or a tweet. Let them know that BVO doesn’t belong in our soft drinks.
What else can we do to get this toxic substance out of soda?
To read more about the brominated battle take a look at the full report from Environmental Health News.
[Photo used under Creative Commons from Ben Husmann/Flickr]