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Archive for Healthy Living

April 15th, 2014

Review: Earth Footwear to Walk Your World

Groovy Green Livin Earth FootwearI’ve been wearing my favorite brown Earth Footwear boots for years. When I chose them I remember thinking they were the coolest boots ever (they are), and noticing that they were incredibly comfortable (they are). When I think of Earth Footwear I always think of comfort first. That must be why they’re marketing their new spring/summer 2014 line of shoes as “stylish and comfortable”.

Earth Footwear Fauna Platform Wedge

When I was asked to review the Fauna platform wedge from Earth Footwear I jumped. I was curious to see if years after purchasing my beloved Earth Footwear brown boots this brand could still pass my style and comfort test.

I chose the royal blue nubuck Faunas just to step outside my normal black and neutral color box. Truth be told, I was hoping that choosing a spring color would help spring actually arrive.

This photo doesn’t do these shoes justice. They are incredibly cute AND comfortable. Amazingly comfortable for a 2 1/2″ heel and a 1″ platform.

Although it appears that a button is holding the two straps in place, it’s actually Velcro! Ever since my kids were little and wore Velcro sneakers I’ve always wanted my own Velcro shoes. They’re so easy to adjust and take on and off.

If blue’s not your color, these shoes also come in beige and coral.

Over the years I’ve had several foot injuries from running and working out including plantar fasciitis and a heel spur. Flat sandals with no support no longer work for my sensitive feet. I’ve become very selective about the shoes I wear. These shoes (and all Earth Footwear) have a cushioned footbed with a padded heal area to displace shock. There’s even reinforced arch support. After wearing them for a few hours on a warm day last week I had no foot pain. That’s the true test of a good shoe for me.

These shoes are priced at $115.00. The entire Spring/Summer 2014 Earth Collection starts at $85–with the majority of the collection under $100.

Which are your favorite Earth Footwear shoes? Check out the full collection HERE.

P.S. If you sign up for the Earth eNewsletter you’ll automatically be entered into a monthly shoe giveaway!

Disclosure: Thank you to Earth Footwear and the Mamavation team for providing me with pair of shoes for this review. I did not receive any compensation for this post and the opinions expressed are my very own.

April 14th, 2014

Take the Pledge to Use Natural Deodorant + a MightyNest Giveaway!

Groovy Green Livin MightyNest Natural Deodorant

Putting toxic chemicals under your arms stinks! That’s why MightyNest, a long time sponsor of this site and an internet retailer of high quality and safe products for our homes and families, asked me to put the natural deodorant, Primal Pit Paste, to the test.

Find out why you should choose a natural deodorant, then take the pledge to join me. Your pits will thank you, AND you could win a Happy Pit Pack from MightyNest (valued at over $100.00)!

MightyNest, Your School and an Earth Day Challenge

Before we jump into why natural deodorants are so important I wanted to make sure you were familiar with the MightyNest for Schools program. If your school does any fundraising (wrapping paper, chocolate, magazines-sound familiar?) you’ll want to hear about this. MightyNest started an easy to use fundraising tool for schools. MightyNest for Schools is an internet shopping fundraiser. It’s simple- parents shop at their convenience for healthy everyday items and 15% of their purchase goes back to the school.

With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, MightyNest is helping parents and schools through their Earth Day Challenge to pledge to make healthy changes that benefit their family and the planet. Until April 28th, we can all earn impact points by pledging to make simple changes (like making the switch to natural deodorant in the pledge below!). The school earning the most points will win a $1000 grand prize and other top schools will share $3000 in additional prizing.

My Week With Natural Deodorant: Primal Pit Paste

Groovy Green Livin MightyNest Natural Deodorant

We are a culture obsessed with smelling pretty.  Take a stroll down the deodorant aisle at any supermarket and the options are endless.

Did you know that it only takes 26 seconds for a body care product to enter our bloodstream? Conventional deodorants and antiperspirants could not only contain controversial aluminum, their ingredient list is long and filled with other suspicious chemicals that I don’t want on or in my body. That is reason enough for me to stop using conventional deodorants. Fortunately there are safer alternatives…….

Thanks to MightyNest I was sent a few samples of the natural deodorant from Primal Pit Paste to try out for a week.

Before using it I checked out the ingredient list: organic shea butter, organic coconut oil, organic beeswax, organic arrowroot powder, aluminum free baking soda, essential oils. Almost good enough to eat!

My workouts happen on most days so I was excited to really put Primal Pit Paste to the test this week. From spinning to running-I was incredibly active. The thyme and lemongrass scent wasn’t overpowering, and did it’s job. The deodorant was so easy to apply. The full sized version comes in a stick and it rolls right on under your arm pits.

My favorite scent was the orange creamsicle that happens to be earmarked for kids. It was bit challenging to apply the deodorant from the smaller, sample sized container since I had to use my finger. The stick was much easier.  There’s also an unscented version and a lavender scent.

I’ve tried quite a few natural deodorants and I’m excited to add another one to my recommended list.

Take the Pledge and Enter to Win!

One lucky Groovy Green Livin reader is going to win a Happy Pit Kit valued at over $100 from the folks at MightyNest! The prize pack includes a sample pack of deodorants (in various scents), Lifefactory glass water bottle, Dr. Bronner’s coconut oil, a set of 3 Go Toob reusables travel tubes, Preserve razor and extra replacement cartridges, Planet Wise wet/dry cosmetics bag, and Dr. Bronner’s organic shave gel.

Now you know — there’s a natural deodorant that not only works, it’s also completely safe for your body. So, pledge to green your pits and you could win a Happy Pit Kit from MightyNest. You’ll also have a chance to help your school celebrate Earth Day and win up to $1000 in the MightyNest for Schools Earth Day Challenge!

 

Disclosure:  Thanks to MightyNest for supplying me with samples of the natural deodorant to test. This post is brought to you by  MightyNest. All opinions are my very own. For more information on sponsored posts, read here.

April 9th, 2014

Green Pots and Pans: Introducing 360 Cookware

Groovy Green Livin Healthy Cookware

Over the years I’ve been searching for safe and non-toxic cookware. Despite the ease and convenience of non-stick pots and pans such as Teflon, many health conscious people (including me!) are tossing their non-stick and replacing them with healthier options.

I’ve always been a stainless steel fan. Much of my cookware is stainless steel and I’ve recently added a few cast iron pieces to our kitchen.

When 360 Cookware asked me to test out a piece of their stainless steel cookware I was intrigued. They sent me a one quart saucepan for review.

Groovy Green Livin Green Cookware

What is 360 Cookware?

Their cookware is stainless steel (my favorite) and comes with a lifetime warranty. Here are a few other favorite features:

  • The handle stays cool while you’re cooking.
  • The pots and pans are oven safe up to 400 degrees.
  • You can actually bake in a pan on your stove-top.
  • No water or oil required for cooking.
  • There are no harsh chemicals used in the finish of these pans and food rarely sticks.

360 Cookware’s claim to fame is their Vapor Technology that’s used when cooking food. 

What is Vapor Technology?

Vapor Technology allows you to cook on low to medium heat without water or oil. The design and metal of the pans enables food to cook in its own natural juices.

Forming a vapor seal is key to vapor cooking. Once the domed lid is in place and steam is coming out the sides of the lid you then spin the lid. Once this happens the heat should be reduced to low and the Vapor Technology is active. 

The design of the pan is interesting. Aesthetically it’s a very nice looking pot. The domed lid cradles perfectly on top of the pan and truly does hold in the moisture.  The pans heats the food evenly, surrounding it 360 degrees with heat. Hence the name 360 Cookware. The concept is pretty simple-the pot essentially turns into a mini-oven on your stove top. 360 Cookware has tested the vapor technology against other cookware claims that it can result in energy use reduction of 200-600% while conserving natural resources.

My favorite feature: There is no grease or oil needed for cooking in these pans! I’m still finding this a hard concept to get used to.

I’ve been using my one quart saucepan for sauce, vegetables and other smaller side dishes. It’s really not big enough to cook chicken or other main courses for a family of 5. 

Clean up of 360 Cookware

One night while multitasking I accidentally left steaming vegetables in the pan for too long. The pan was in pretty bad shape after this mishap. After a bit of elbow grease the pan looks as good as new. HERE are some of my tips for cleaning stainless steel pots and pans.

My Take on 360 Cookware

Groovy Green Livin Green Cookware

I really like this pot. It’s a nice stainless steel addition to our kitchen. It’s a bit wider than my All-Clad Stainless 1-Quart Saucepan, which I like. It’s easier to stir food and it cooks everything evenly.

I’m still not completely sold on the Vapor Technology. The lid does fit tighter than my other stainless steel pots and pans, however the jury is still out on whether 360 Cookware has this special edge over other brands.

Cost: $109.95

This is a bit pricey for a one quart saucepan, but the quality is there. It’s priced the same as the All-Clad Stainless 1-Quart Saucepan. If you’re buying top of the line cookware this is a great brand to check out.

What stainless steel pots and pans are your favorite?

Disclosure: 360 Cookware sent me a one quart pot for review. Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support in this way!

April 7th, 2014

How to Give Your Kitchen a Green Makeover (VIDEO)

Groovy Green Livin Green Makeover

A few weeks ago I traveled to New York City to film a video on how to give your kitchen a green makeover for Manilla. The video is ready and I want you to be the first to see it. Get ready for the Manilla Makeover: Green Kitchen Edition!

Green Makeover Kitchen Edition

Before you settle in to watch the 4 minute video, filled with simple tips to make your kitchen a bit greener, here’s a bit of background. I was asked, as Manilla’s Green Living Expert, to give a green makeover to a college student’s apartment that was a complete ‘green’ disaster.

Annie goes to college in New York City and desperately wanted to make green changes to her apartment, but wasn’t sure where to begin.  I was called in to help with some simple changes in Annie’s kitchen that would have a long-term positive environmental impact.

Believe it or not, the kitchen produces the most waste out of any room in your home. On average, American families throw out between 14 and 25 percent of the food and beverages they buy. On top of that, there’s the packing food comes in and the excessive amounts of paper we toss thanks to paper towels and napkins. Thankfully, there are tons of easy ways to reduce your environmental impact and save you some money in the process.

My green makeover tips were very simple:

  1. Create a waste center. Using an in-home garbage system makes organizing your recyclables very simple.
  2. Replace toxic cleaning products with natural ones. Making your own cleaning products is the way to go if you have the time. I also have a favorite cleaning products that I like to suggest as alternatives to conventional cleaning supplies.
  3. Ditch the plastic. Making the switch to glass storage containers, reusable shopping bags,
    and using a water filtration system are all simple ways to remove plastic from your kitchen.

Make sure to stick around to watch the end of the video where you see Annie’s apartment transformed into a lean, green, eco-friendly machine!

Who’s next in line for a green makeover?

Disclosure: Some links are affiliate links meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support in this way!

photo credit: Vineet Radhakrishnan via photopin cc

April 3rd, 2014

Cell Phone Use While Driving is Out of Control

Groovy Green Livin Cell Phone Use While DrivingMy cell phone sits in the cup holder next to my seat when I’m driving. Ready for use, if need be. 

Yesterday I was driving a car full of boys to soccer practice and I noticed a car to my right. It was swerving. My instinct was to get as far away from it as possible. As I was passing by to pull out in front I happened to glance inside the other car. The driver was probably around 20 years old and he was clearly looking down at his cell phone while driving. A million thoughts went through my head. I was happy he wasn’t my child, because I would have strangled him. But I also realized that he could have been my child. One swerve to the left and our lives could have been forever changed.

This morning I went for my usual run. It’s finally spring-like here and it feels wonderful to be outside. My Vitamin D deficiency is very happy. As I was running in the street, ear buds in, I noticed a car coming towards me. I run on the opposite side of traffic so I can easily see cars approaching. Usually a driver will spot me and get out of my way. This car was coming closer and closer and driving almost on top of the curb where I was running. I was forced to jump out of the way. You guessed it, the driver was on his cell phone.

When my oldest got a cell phone we had him sign a contract. It was a pretty simple and standard cell phone contract- no texting during meals, keep your phone charged, know where it is, and keep your cell phone out of your bedroom while you’re sleeping. There was more to it, but it was something along those lines. We don’t have to deal with the driving piece yet, but soon enough. And I’m scared.

Everyone’s on a cell phone when they’re driving. It’s not just teens. OK maybe not everyone, but the next time you’re driving take a look to the right and the left (maybe take a look in your very own car) and let me know what you find.

I’m hardly innocent. I’m on the phone a lot. My job requires it. My car has become my auxiliary office.

Driving While Using a Cell Phone Stats

But do I really need to be on the phone when I’m driving my car? Especially with statistics like these:

  • Drivers talking on a cell phone are 4 times more likely to have a car accident.
  • The number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012.
  • Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.
  • Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an auto crash than driving when intoxicated.

My oldest isn’t far away from getting his drivers license We have a few years to go, but nonetheless observing the number of people (not just kids) on their phones while driving has caused me to pause.

Maybe adults should be signing a cell phone contract much like the one I had my son sign. I know that signing a contract won’t do much good. So what do we do? What will it take to create awareness around this issue? I’m afraid the answer might be something happening that directly affects each of us.

I’ve given it some thought and here’s what I’m going to work on:

  • All electronic devices will be out of reach before starting to drive.
  • I will be a good role model for my kids and other kids who are in my car.
  • When I’m a passenger I’m going to speak up if the driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver.

How do you handle cell phone use while you’re driving?

photo credit: Lord Jim via photopin cc

April 1st, 2014

What Does a Fat-Free Label Really Mean?

Groovy Green Livin Fat-Free Label

Fat-free is a term that many of us are very familiar with. We see ‘fat-free’ on our food labels and we seek it out on the foods we love to eat.

What Does ‘Fat-Free’ Mean?

There’s an assumption that fat-free actually means free of all fat. Well it doesn’t. The label that reads ‘fat-free’ can actually be very misleading.

The FDA permits foods to be labeled ‘fat-free’ if they contain less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving.

Here’s the tricky part. If you eat over and above the serving size on the package chances are the food will no longer be fat-free. And we all know how small those serving sizes tend to be on a food label. Most are very unrealistic.

For example let’s pretend we are about to indulge and eat a fat-free, chocolate chip cookie for lunch. The label on the cookie packaging states that the serving size is 1 tasty cookie. We all know that it’s next to impossible to eat only one cookie. So now we add two more cookies to our lunch-time treat. While each cookie has under the 0.5 grams fat content to legally be called fat-free, when added together they exceed that amount. Those cookies are no longer fat free.

Does ‘Fat-Free’ Mean Calorie-Free?

Fat-free does not mean calorie-free. Not all calories are created equal, but it still holds true that a calorie is a calorie whether it comes from fat or carbohydrates. Packaging can say a product is fat free, but it could be loaded with sugar. Check labels carefully for calorie count and serving size.

Sometimes It’s OK to Eat a Little Fat.

The type of fat you eat may be more important than the amount of fat you eat. When choosing your foods think about finding sources of good fat, not necessarily fat-free foods. Bad fats in food can increase your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. Consuming foods with good fat will help keep your heart and body healthy. Omega-3 fats are an example of good fats and can be found in Chia seeds, salmon and other fish and Brussels sprouts.

Best solution: Eat everything in moderation, do your best to stick with fruits and vegetables which are naturally low in fat and try to avoid processed foods as much as possible.

What do you think of the fat-free label? Is it important to you when you’re buying food?

photo credit: MyDigitalSLR via photopin cc

March 28th, 2014

Take the Pledge to Love Bulk Food

Groovy Green Livin Bulk Food

Walking up and down the bulk food aisle at your local supermarket can be somewhat intimidating and overwhelming. The sheer number of bins is mind-boggling and the choices are endless. Take your pick from bins of grains, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, spices or baking ingredients.

Buying from the bulk bins at the grocery store is a great way to save money on your food bill, but that’s not the only reason to shop the bulk bins. Here are a few more reasons to buy in bulk:

  • Get more bang for your buck
  • Bye bye wasteful packaging
  • Buy only what you need
  • Ability to test out new products without a big investment

Take the “Pledge to Love Bulk Food”

To help celebrate Earth Month this April, the Bulk is Green Council (BIG) is challenging consumers to take the pledge to “Love Bulk Foods” (foods bought from the bulk bins of a grocery store). 

Why should consumers take BIGs pledge to Love Bulk Foods?

  • If Americans purchased all of their coffee from the bulk bins for 1 month (Earth Month), 20,000,000 pounds of foil packaging would be saved from landfills. That¹s the equivalent weight of 7,667 compact cars.
  • If the average American family bought peanut butter in bulk for 1 month, 1Ž2 pound of waste per family would be saved from entering landfills.
  • If Americans purchased all of their almonds in bulk for 1 month, 6,000,000 pounds of waste would be saved from landfills. That¹s the equivalent weight of 522.5 elephants.
  • Purchasing oatmeal from the bulk bins saves 5x the waste of its packaged equivalent

What is the Pledge to Love Bulk Food?

Take the pledge to purchase bulk foods once a week during the month of April, Earth Month (remember to bring your reusable bags!). If you’re interested in taking the pledge head on over to the Love Bulk Foods pledge page and sign a digital pledge. To make it easy to get on board with foods from the bulk bins, the Bulk is Green Council has outlined week-by-week the best bulk foods to purchase during Earth Month, that also offer significant environmental benefits (check out the infographic below).

Groovy Green Livin Bulk Food Infographic

If you pledge you’re automatically entered in a drawing where winners will be selected once a week at random and receive their very own Earth Month starter kit filled with everything needed to help create a natural and organic pantry and get on board with bulk foods. The prize pack includes recycled glass storage jars and a starter kit of common/popular natural and organic bulk foods that can be found in most bulk bins of natural food co-ops and grocery stores from the following brands: SunRidge Farms, Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Lundberg Family Farms, and several other bulk brands.

Do you use bulk food bins? What are your favorite bulk foods to buy? 

photo credit: bcmom via photopincc

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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