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Archive for Healthy Living

December 15th, 2014

Favorite Children’s Holiday Books for Gift Giving

Favorite Children's Holiday Books Groovy Green Livin

Last night we needed a few books so I headed to Barnes and Noble with two of my sons. I have to be honest, as much as I love bookshops it’s been a while since I’ve set foot in a brick and mortar bookstore.

While browsing up and down the aisles I noticed hundreds (maybe more) of holiday books for children. There were some classics that I remember from when I was a kid and there were also newer titles that I was unfamiliar with.

I decided to reach out to a few blogger friends to ask for their favorite children’s holiday books.

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!

Sara Vartanian of Green Moms Collective: “I like Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Christmas: A Safety Guide for Scaredies because the students (as a librarian) love it! Scaredy squirrel is funny and prepares a plan. I also like The Mitten by Jan Brett and Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins.”

Beth Buczynski the author of Sharing is Good  has a classic favorite: How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Melissa Anulao Moog of Itsabelly Baby Planners added a few holiday books that I’m unfamiliar with. She’s reading A Christmas Wish to her 3 year old twins now and they request it all of the time along with The Night Before Christmas (old fave).

Emily Roach of Random Recycling was clear that her family’s favorite book is Santa Mouse!

Janice Roodsari, blogger at MommaWords.com,  says “I’m not sure if it’s our favorite, but we really like Bear Stays Up for Christmas .”

Amity Hook-Sopko, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief at Green Child Magazine, loves the book Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons. Even though it’s centered around a treat, the illustrator shows this beautiful mix of humans and animals, representing diversity. And it teaches lessons about being grateful and generous.

Leigh Ann of Green4U.com says Twas the Night Before Christmas is her family’s favorite. It is a tradition in my husbands family for “Dad” to read that story before bed every Christmas eve. When I was pregnant with my first child they gave us a very nice copy of the book to use.

Betsy Escandon, writer at Eco Novice Going Green Gradually, published a fantastic list of her holiday favorites HERE. If she had to narrow it down to just one she would pick The Friendly Beasts: an old English Christmas Carol by Tomie dePaola. Her kids would probably pick How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Jen from Jen and Joey Go Green says her family’s favorite holiday book is “Twas the Night Before Christmas for sure! My Dad would read it to us every Christmas Eve.”

Here are a few favorites in our family:

What holiday books do you love to read as a family? 

Disclaimer: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the books or publishers I promote on this page have paid me, I just really like their books. Thank you in advance

 

December 12th, 2014

Groovy Green Weekend Updates

Weekend Updates from Groovy Green Livin

As we kick off this December weekend I look outside my office window to find a thin blanket of snow on the ground. Winter is here and for those of us who love to ski the snow is a welcome sight.

I’m sending you off to do your holiday shopping with a few updates and some weekend reading to keep you busy.

New Sponsors

The new year is already promising to be a great one. I’m excited to welcome a few new sponsors to my site. Many thanks to them for their support.

Baby Eco Trends

Baby Eco Trends carries high quality USA Made Eco Friendly Nursery Furniture, Amish Convertible Baby Cribs, Organic Moses Baskets, Organic Bedding/Mattresses & Wooden Toys. You’ll find American made baby nursery furniture & children’s furniture made of solid wood, sustainably grown & harvested in the USA.

nest PURE

At nest PURE  you will find very limited quantities of quality organic and eco-friendly products, which are all under $50 and all handcrafted in the USA.

The Organic Mattress

This little gem of a shop sells organic mattresses and bedding. They just added Ekla Home upholstered furniture to their shop.

I’m a Green Guardian!

Check out this lovely article written about me over at eCycle Best. I love that I’ve been turned into a cartoon!

Where I’ve been writing

Around this time of year I generally slow down a bit on the writing front. I’ve been sharing my time with a few other sites.

Over at The Huffington Post I wrote about ways to reduce your carbon footprint over Thanksgiving. Although the article was written with Thanksgiving in mind, these tips and tricks for reducing our carbon footprint can be applied throughout the year.

I spent some time researching alternatives to nonstick pots and pans over at Moms Clean Air Force. As many of you know, nonstick finishes have come under fire in recent years due to the toxic fumes emitted when the cookware is exposed to high heat. Those nonstick advantages are taking a backseat and many health conscious families are now opting for a safer alternative.

What I’m reading

McDonalds is changing their menu

Here’s one more example of how consumers are being heard. The dollars we spend do make a difference! McDonald’s is changing their menu. It’s not a complete overhaul, but they’re sending eight items to the chopping block and maybe even getting rid of some ingredients, as the fast-food chain tries to revamp its supersize-me reputation.

Our food system is broken-organic strawberries can still contain pesticides

This was news to me: When they are starting out, organic strawberry plants are grown with the help of fumigants, the hard-to-control class of pesticides that have been linked to cancer, developmental problems and the hole in the ozone layer.

What’s groovy and green in your world? Have a great weekend!

photo credit: chrisada via photopin cc

December 8th, 2014

Mom Detective: The Truth About Nonstick Pots and Pans

The truth about nonstick pots and pans. Groovy Green Livin

As many of you know I’m the “Mom Detective” over at Moms Clean Air Force. This post was originally published over there. Enjoy!

We live in a culture where fast food has become the norm. You don’t have to look far to find a drive-through on most corners throughout the country. Cooking hacks and simple recipes boasting  prep times of under 15 minutes are in demand because we, as a culture, are looking for convenience and simplicity.

The same holds true for our cookware. Many kitchens are filled with nonstick pots and pans, which are loved for their ease and convenience when it comes to cooking and cleaning.

Nonstick finishes have come under fire in recent years due to the toxic fumes emitted when the cookware is exposed to high heat. Those nonstick advantages are taking a backseat and many health conscious families are now opting for a safer alternative.

The Science Behind Nonstick

Most nonstick pots and pans are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a chemicals from the Perfluorinated chemical or Perfluorochemicals (PFC) family. One of those chemicals is the synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is another chemical from the PFC family and is used in the process of making PTFE.

Teflon is a brand name (DuPont trademarked the process and the chemical in 1945) for a the man-made PTFE.

The Problem with Nonstick

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms. When nonstick pans are overheated the coating may begin to break down and toxic particles and gases can be released into the air that we breathe.

The Issue Then Becomes How Hot is too Hot? 

Knowing that nonstick surfaces can release toxic fumes when they’re heated at high heat isn’t enough. The question now becomes:

How do we know when our pots and pans are too hot?

I would venture to say that most of us have no idea how hot our pots and pans are when we’re cooking.

The Environmental Working Group commissioned tests conducted in 2003 showed that in just two to five minuteson a conventional stove top, dry cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces could exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases.

Nonstick Pots and Pans and Your Health

Studies in humans found that workers with exposure to PFOA have higher risks of bladder and kidney cancers.Another study showed that PFCs have been linked to infertility in women. Chemicals from the PFC family areassociated with smaller birth weight and size in newborn babies, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation and weakened immune defense against disease.

Safer Alternatives to Nonstick Pots and Pans

There’s good and bad news. Thankfully there are safer alternatives to nonstick cookware out there, but even the safer options can sometimes be problematic.

Cast Iron

Using the cookware that your grandparents probably used is a great alternative to Teflon. Cast iron is known for its durability and even heat distribution. The downside of cast iron – most cast iron cookware needs to be seasoned after each use and this makes it not as worry-free as other alternatives. It also can leach iron into your food. If iron in your diet is an issue cast iron might not be the best choice for you.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a mixture of several different metals, including nickel, chromium and molybdenum, all of which can trickle into foods. Leaching will happen only if your stainless steel cookware is dinged or scratched and the amount of leaching would be small. Cleaning your stainless steel cookware can be tricky. Soaking after use and before scrubbing is a must. HERE is a simple way to clean stainless steel.

Ceramic 

Ceramic cookware is considered safe and easy to clean in the dishwasher as long as it has zero lead content. It’s important to check any pans with glaze for possible lead. According to the National Institutes of Health, “any ceramic cookware bought in another country or considered to be a craft, antique, or collectable may not meet FDA specifications, and should not be used to hold food. Test kits can detect high levels of lead in ceramic cookware, but may not detect lower levels that may also be dangerous.”

Glass

Glass cookware is an option if not exposed to extreme temperatures. Most glass is inert, nontoxic, and safe unless it has a coating. If there is some form of coating, it’s important to confirm that there’s no lead present.

Our current chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, is badly broken. It allows chemicals, like Teflon, onto the market without adequate safety testing. It’s time to change that.

TELL THE SENATE: WE NEED STRONGER TOXIC CHEMICAL STANDARDS

See more HERE: How to Choose Healthy Pots and Pans

photo credit: m kasahara via photopin cc

December 4th, 2014

4 Organic Foods Always Found in My Home

 

Groovy Green Livin Organic Foods in My Home

Every week we get a fresh delivery of some combination of greens and other produce from our CSA. I love seeing our fridge filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. We also just started getting fresh eggs from our CSA. There’s nothing like a farm fresh egg. In addition to the fresh produce and eggs that make their way into our fridge each week, there are a few organic foods that we use almost on a daily basis. We need to be well stocked with these organic foods because if we’re not there’s complete mayhem. And trust me, that’s not a pretty sight.

Here are our 4 must-have organic foods

If you come over you’ll find these 4 organic foods somewhere in our kitchen. Guaranteed.

Nutiva Chia Seeds

I have been a Nutiva fan for quite some time and was lucky enough to connect with the brand at ShiftCon this year. I use Chia seeds is so many things. They’re very rich in omega-3 fatty acids-even more so than flax seeds and salmon. One serving size includes 18 percent of recommended daily calcium and four grams of protein and they’re packed with fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, iron,  niacin, and zinc. I love putting Nutiva Chia Seeds in my smoothie. Such a simple way to get a big dose of nutrition.

Stonyfield Yogurt

I always have a few Stonyfield Greek organic yogurts stashed way in the back of my fridge. They’re well hidden with the hope that no one will uncover my secret stash. My favorite flavor is the plain (6 grams of sugar and 15 grams of protein!) or the vanilla if I want a treat. We also keep a box or two of Blueberry & Lemonade YoKids Squeezers in the freezer. They’re a great snack to have around when kids come over.

Arrowhead Mills Organic Popcorn

I’m back on a popcorn kick and Arrowhead Mills Organic Popcorn is my go-to brand. I will only eat organic popcorn because conventional corn has a high probability of being genetically modified. Approximately 88% of U.S corn crops were genetically modified back in 2011. I use my Whirley-Pop Stovetop Popcorn Popper to make perfect popcorn. *Update: It was just pointed out to me that  popcorn comes from a different seed than corn on the cob and has not been genetically modified.

Numi Organic Tea

I guess tea isn’t technically a “food”, but in our house we go through a lot of tea. During the cold winter months in Boston a cup of Numi Organic Rooibos Chai tea makes the weather a bit more bearable. There are a lot of flavors to choose from, but this is my favorite.

What are some of your favorite organic foods to have in your kitchen?


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 Disclaimer: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the companies I promote on this page have paid me for this post (I am a paid Blogger Captain for Stonyfield, but they didn’t pay me for this post), I just really like their products. All opinions are my very own. Thank you in advance.

photo credit: GFDoctor via photopin cc

December 2nd, 2014

Top 10 Favorite Family Board Games

Groovy Green Livin Favorite Family Board Games

There’s nothing like spending time playing a great board game over vacation. Puzzles are not really my thing, but the rest of my family gets into them. Set me up with a good board game and I’ll sit for hours. With the holidays rapidly approaching and a long vacation in the not to distant future, I’m predicting hours of entertainment will be needed.

Here are a few of our favorite board games

Disclaimer: There are some affiliate links in this post. *

There’s no doubt a good board game makes a great holiday gift for the entire family. And an added bonus: they’re guaranteed to keep your kids away from their screens for a while.

MONOPOLY

For many years we played Monopoly Junior and now we’ve finally graduated to the real deal: Monopoly. This board game provides hours of entertainment. And I mean hours. There are many versions out there, but I’m a classic monopoly fan.

HEDBANZ

HedBanz is a pretty hilarious game for all ages, although the 8-12 age group seem to really love it. Everyone wears a headband with a card on it facing out. Ask “yes” or “no” questions to figure out if the cartoon on your head is an animal, food or man-made object. Be the first player to guess what you are and win.

COMOTION: The Competitive Game of Simultaneous Charades

CoMotion is a great game for the entire family. Think charades with some added twists. Players throw the dice, pick a card and act out a word or phrase. It’s a race against the clock and you could end up acting out words at the same time as the other team.

BLOKUS 

We’ve been playing this one for a few years and it never gets old. As each player adds a piece to the board each new piece must touch at least one other piece of the same color, but only at the corners. Play with up to 4 players.

THE SETTLERS OF CATAN

The Settlers of Catan board game is a popular choice with my three boys. I have to admit that I’ve never played. Players try to be the dominant force on the island of Catan by building settlements, cities, and roads. It’s a trading and building game with a fairytale theme. Players have to gather resources to build settlements and cities.

COLORKU

Colorku Solid Wood Game is a Sudoku-like wooden board game with color marbles instead of numbers.

QUORIDOR Classic Game of StrategyGroovy 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.

TELESTRATIONS

If you like the game “telephone” you’ll love Telestrations. Telestrations has players draw what they see then guess what they saw. You can only imagine where this ends up. Hilarious fun!

SORT IT OUT

Sort It Out  is on my list to try this year. Players are asked to arrange lists of measurements, events, weights, and stages into the correct sequence. Everyone plays on every turn so there’s no sitting around and waiting. It just won the “Game of the Year” award at the TOTY Awards.

WITS & WAGERS

Wits & Wagers takes Trivial Pursuit to the next level. It’s a trivia game that lets you bet on anyone’s answer. It allows you to guess the answer you think is the closest to the choices you are given. This board game can accomodate anywhere from 4 to 20 people.

What are some of your favorite board games?

Looking for a few fabulous gifts for a boy ages 8-14? Here’s my list of 20 Holiday Gifts for Tween Boys. Also check out my 15 Tech-Free Gifts for Tween Boys. 

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 Disclaimer: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission (at no extra cost to you), which in turn helps support this site. None of the companies I promote on this page have paid me, I just really like their products. All opinions are my very own. Thank you in advance.

photo credit: wwarby via photopin cc

November 28th, 2014

7 Ingredient Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Groovy Green Livin Cookies Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap

With the holidays fast approaching and activities winding down, we finally had a little down time this weekend. We decided to bake cookies. There’s nothing like baking cookies with my kids. We were ready to experiment. We were determined to find a cookie recipe that was gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and without any added processed sugar (except for the chocolate chips which can easily be swapped with raisins).

Most of the ingredients were already in our cabinets. Another bonus! After a quick stop at our local Whole Foods Market we were able to replenish our banana supply (the only missing ingredient).

Groovy Green Livin cookies Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap

Here’s what we came up with. 7 Ingredient Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Two out of three children loved the cookies. Not bad!

4.7 from 3 reviews
7 Ingredient Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: gluten-free, dairy free, nut free,
Serves: 20 cookies
Ingredients
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 c. rolled oats
  • 3 Tbsp. rice milk
  • ⅓ c. applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 c. dairy free chocolate chips
  • Try to use organic ingredients whenever you can
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Make sure bananas are mashed well, with no lumps.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Stir until oats are well coated and ingredients are combined.
  5. Mixture should be the consistency of cookie dough.
  6. Place heaping spoonfuls of mixture onto a greased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes.

And that’s not all! There’s a GIVEAWAY.

Groovy Green Livin cookies Holiday Cookie Recipe Swap

10 Fabulous bloggers have gathered together to stock you up with real food cookie recipes for your holiday season in a #RealCookieSwap! Whether you’re hosting or attending a cookie swap or headed out to a party, bring with you some special treats that not only taste amazing but use unrefined ingredients as well. Of all of these cookies, we can’t wait to hear what your favorite is so make sure to share it with us!

When it comes to cooking and baking, butter is a common ingredient. My cookie recipe doesn’t use butter, but if it did I would try Kerrygold butters, which are made with milk from grass fed cows in Ireland. They take pride in how they make their butter and what goes into so you will not ever see additives or hormones added.

Continuing on with sustainability in baking, when you are traveling with baked goods (and when you’re at home) it’s important to use an ecofriendly choice. If You Care is a company with a full line of ecofriendly products such as pie pans, baking pans, parchment paper. Their packaging shows exactly where the product came from and where it can go after use. Recycling and composting are two of the most common options! Score!

Both of these products can by found at your local Whole Foods as well as everything else you need to stock up on your holiday baking essentials! You can be sure that you are buying GMO free when you are buying at Whole Foods. We all LOVE that!

And just to help you get ready for this season of baking, we’re giving away THE BEST prize package geared toward all of your “real food and baking” needs this holiday season. Get ready because you are going to love what’s behind door #1….

Grand Prize valued at over $300: A Kerrygold “Ireland Gift Pack” which includes everything you need to put on a good party – a Kerrygold cookbook, 2 wedges Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese, 2 wedges Kerrygold Swiss Cheese, 2 wedges Kerrygold Blarney Castle Cheese, 2 wedges Kerrygold Aged Cheddar, 2 wedges Kerrygold Reserve Cheddar, 2 wedges Kerrygold Red Leicester, 2 wedges of Kerrygold Skellig, 2 packs Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, 2 packs Kerrygold Unsalted Butter, 2 packs of Kerrygold Garlic and Herb Butter, 2 packs of Kerrygold Softer Butter.

AND An If You Care package filled with recyclable baking pans, pie pans, etc.

AND (we’re not done) A $75 Whole Foods Giftcard so you can stock up on everything you need!

So enter below to win.

Be sure to check out these other 9 bloggers and their amazing cookies in our #RealCookieSwap!

November 26th, 2014

10 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint This Thanksgiving

Groovy Green Livin Thanksgiving

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for many. It’s a time to eat, indulge and spend uninterrupted time with family.

It’s also a time for reflection. A time to think about what we’re thankful for and a time to think about how the choices we make impact our families and the planet.

Although every day provides an opportunity for reflection and change, Thanksgiving stands out as the perfect day to kick off a few new habits that will effect the longevity of our planet. If each of us revamped our consumption and waste habits by slightly adjusting what’s already in place, the overall impact could be huge.

Here are a few tips for the Thanksgiving holiday that will reduce our carbon footprint and help keep the planet healthy for generations to come.

Shop Local 

Shop locally this Thanksgiving and lend your support to the little local business rather than the big box stores. Go for holiday supplies that don’t need to travel far to get to your Thanksgiving table.

Buy Organic

Organic food typically requires 30-50% less energy during production than it’s conventional counterpart. Make the shift this Thankgiving to a table with more organic food choices. Knowing that your food isn’t sprayed with pesticides, chemicals or genetically modified is enough reason to incorporate organic foods into your menu.

Turn the Heat Down

Watch your home heat up on its own as your Thanksgiving guests arrive and as the oven is turned on to warm the food. Rather than opening windows to cool off the space remember to set the thermostat a few degrees lower before the celebration begins.

Don’t Use Disposables

Make the switch to reusable napkins, skip the paper towels and pull out the good dishes this Thanksgiving. It’s a bit more effort at the end of the evening, but it’s worth it. Each person in the United States uses 749 pounds (340kg) of paper every year. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the pulp and paper industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any other industry in the world. The industry is the third largest industrial emitter of global warming pollution.

Reduce the Amount You Buy

Reducing is the first of the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. When planning your Thanksgiving celebration try making some slight alterations to your shopping list. Give some extra thought as to whether or not you truly need those items on your list and reduce the amount of food and decorations if possible.

Compost Table Scraps

Did you know that a typical household throws away an estimated 474 pounds of food waste each year? That means about 1.5 lbs per person a day in the United States. Food scraps generated by all households in the U.S. could be piled on a football field more than five miles (26,400 feet) high. Compost those vegetable scraps and watch your garden thrive.

Fill Your Dishwasher Before Running

Fill your dishwasher to capacity before running a cycle. You’ll end up saving water, energy and detergent.

Green Your Turkey

A Cornell study shows it takes 14 units of fossil fuel to produce a serving of turkey. If you’re planning to have turkey try to make it a little greener by purchasing it from a local market or farm.  If the turkey is traveling a long distance to get to your table that’s adding to your carbon footprint. Best option-skip the turkey!

Clean with Non-Toxic Cleaners

Make the switch to non-toxic cleaning products. When making the switch to green cleaning products replace products you’re currently using as they run out with a safer version. Take the time to research safer, non-toxic products and then make the switch.

Stay local

According to USA Today, it’s predicted that 24.6 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines domestically and internationally between November 21st and December 2nd this year. That’s a 1.5% increase from last year, or 31,000 more passengers on average a day. For many of us traveling is a long-standing tradition and needed to visit with our family. Use this handy calculator from The Nature Conservancy to help you calculate the amount of carbon you emit and offer ways of offsetting those emissions.

If your plan is to drive make sure your tires are fully inflated and your car has been properly serviced. This will help reduce your carbon emissions and improve your gas mileage.

 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

photo credit: Benjamin Chun via photopin cc

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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